Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cell Phone Drama

Last week, I received the dreaded news from my husband. Our daughter, Angel, had left her cell phone at volleyball practice. He picked her up from school and as they were driving he saw her frantically looking through her bags and purse. With tears in her eyes she told him she didn't have her phone. It must still be at the school.

When I came home from work, I picked her up and told her would would go back to see if we could get into the building. I was worried about the phone. We had bought it at the beginning of the school year and it wasn't cheap. I was trying to remember if the phone insurance covered lost phones. Angel was going through some kind of cell phone withdrawal. "My friends are probably wondering why I haven't answered them! What about all of my songs and pictures!"

We got to the school and we were able to get in. We went to the gym and looked where Angel's stuff had been during practice. Nothing. We walked around and looked for a janitor. There were none to be seen. I told Angel that maybe one of the coaches had picked it up, but it was possible someone had taken it. Her eyes welled up with tears again.

On the way home, I knew there was no need to give Angel the "Responsibility Lecture" or yell at her because she was already upset. I did take the opportunity to retell her the story of when I lost my first digital watch from Service Merchandise, so that was punishment enough.

We got home and we were getting ready to find her coach's phone number, but first I asked Angel to go through her bags one more time. "Mom! It's NOT in there! I've checked and I even called my phone from Dad's phone and I didn't hear it ring!" I told her to check anyway, to take every single thing out of her bags. With an exasperated sigh and an eye roll, she started removing her stuff. When she reached in the third time, she froze. She looked up at me with almost a smile, but also with the "I hate it when you're right" look. Yep, she had the phone all along. Yes, she did waste an hour of my life looking for that phone, but I sure loved telling her my watch story...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Back to School Emotions

Yes, it's that time of year. Time to try to get organized and start off the year right. The kids used to get excited to go back, but each year their excitement dwindles more and more.

This year the kids are both in junior high and are in the same building. This helps because we don't have to worry about conflicting school activities or trying to coordinate two different after-school pick-ups. Our school system has three elementaries in separate buildings and one building for 7th to 12th graders. It's a big change from being the top dog at the elementary to starting over being the youngest at junior high.

Last year was difficult for me. I remember driving up to the front of the school with Tyler. I wasn't sure of the proper drop-off procedure and I was nervously trying to figure it out (the last thing I wanted to do was to be "that mom" who had the whistle blown at or the principal chase down for breaking the rules). I was feeling a little rattled, then I started to sense that Tyler was nervous. We looked at all the kids as they walked up the school. They weren't the cute, little kids I was used to seeing. They were pimply, puberty-hitting little adults. The boys shaved for goodness sake! My sweet, little boy would be sharing the halls with kids who cursed, told dirty jokes, and pushed little kids around.

I watched Tyler as he picked up his backpack and started to open the car door. I felt myself starting to choke up as he slowly stepped out of the car. I really, really wanted to tell him that I loved him, but I did not want to cry. If I could have had a few more seconds, I could have pulled the emotion back in and I would have been okay. But, I didn't have a few more seconds. This was it, my last chance to tell my son that I loved him before he faced the crowd of teenage wasteland. So, as he was halfway out the door I gasped, "I love you!" in a pathetic crackly, high-pitched voice. He turned around and looked at me with a puzzled and kind of freaked out expression. I'm sure that really helped him to start his day well.

So, here we are one year later. This year as I took both kids to school, I didn't struggle with the same feelings as last year. Tyler survived seventh grade without any wedgies, swirlies, or sleezy girlfriends, so I figured Angel would be okay. By now, I had the whole drop-off thing down pat and I even knew some of the teachers and administration. I was feeling so good about school this year that I even tried to play a practical joke on the kids.

For just about every first day of school, I have always taken the kids' picture. My husband asked me if I was going to take one this year. I told him that I was going to take one before we left the house. Then the light bulb went off. I told my husband that it would be funny if I acted like I wanted the kids to stand in front of the school so I could take their picture. Can you imagine! We laughed and laughed just imagining their reaction. We even thought about getting out of the car with the camcorder and me acting like I was going to follow them into the school! So, as I confidently drove up to the school, I looked over at my daughter and saw her clutch her books and take a breath. In a very serious tone, I started, "So, would you guys mind standing by the building so I..." I couldn't do it. I busted out laughing.

Once again, my emotions got the best of me. And once again I got a strange look. Yeah, I guess my parents were weird when I was in junior high, too...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hey, It's Been a While!

Geez, I can't believe I haven't posted on this blog in almost a month! This has been a really insane summer for me.

Last week was my last of three furlough weeks where all employees had to take unpaid time off. I really thought that I would be able to use the time to work on projects around the house and on my blogging. Of course, things didn't quite work out like I planned...

One problem I found is the weeks that I did work, I had to put in a lot of extra hours (that's when being a salaried employee has its downfalls). With EVERYONE taking three weeks off throughout the summer, that left a lot of work to be covered by the people left. Also, I spent a lot of time trying to get my work done in advance before my weeks, then working my tail off to get caught up when I would get back.

So, the long, stressful days at work led to me getting behind on things at home. When I was home, I was trying to get everything done in a short amount of time. One week was devoted to cleaning the attic and getting ready for Angel's birthday party. Another week was spent hounding the kids to finish their 4-H projects and taking them to the fairgrounds for different judging events and 4-H shows. This past week was spent trying to get the kids together to go back to school (try doing that after not being paid for three weeks over the summer!).

Speaking of money, any spare time I have had lately has been working on a new side job. I've been writing furiously for Demand Studios. They pay $5 to $15 for articles about all kinds of topics, and it's helping me earn a little extra money when we need it.

I'm really hoping things will calm down when our company finishes out these furloughs. I hope all my blogging buddies won't give up on me!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Quick Update

Hi! I hope summer is going well for everyone. For me it's been busy, busy, busy. I was off work all last week, but it is the week before our county fair and we had so much to do. The kids had projects to finish, and we were at the fairgrounds almost every day for judging.

Later today, my sister and her family will be here from Arizona. This will be the first time my nieces and nephew have been back since they moved five years ago. My kids are SO excited about seeing their cousins again. I still have some housework to finish up, and they'll be here all week.

I am no longer blogging with Today.com. Follow the link if you want to know more. Now I will be concentrating on my Alzheimer's Disease Caregiver blog and writing here for fun. I think after next week is over, things should start to calm down and I hope to get back into a good blogging, commenting, dropping routine.

Talk more soon, Sherri

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's Going to be a Berry, Berry Great Summer

This is one of my favorite times of the year. This is when all the wild berries around our house become ripe enough to pick. First we have the black raspberries, then the big blackberries will be ready next.

Tyler and I have already gone out to pick berries this week, even my Mom who has Alzheimer's has gotten in on the fun. It's quite the hunt for us to look for the berries. We start out picking the obvious ones that are along our path. Then, we look though the weeds and thickets for the berries that are hiding. The ones that are hidden are usually the biggest and juiciest. We get so excited when we find a large patch of ripe, juicy berries!

When we go out to pick the berries, it gives us a nice opportunity to spend time together and enjoy nature. It takes a good couple of hours to go through all of places where the berries grow. Our dogs like to accompany us, and they even eat some of the berries right off the vine!

Of course, besides the thrill of the hunt, nothing is better than to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Berries are great on ice cream, yogurt, and even by them self with some sugar. For Father's Day tomorrow, I'm going to make a cheesecake and put the berries on top.

Yes, it is definitely going to be a berry, berry great summer!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Extreme Home Makeover - Attic Edition

That was the name that Tyler came up with for our attic project. It was actually more like "Design on a Dime," but we still gave our attic a nice little makeover.

I planned one of my furlough weeks for last week so I could work on the attic. For months, Angel has told me that she wanted the attic fixed up enough so she could have a slumber party up there. We have a large unfinished attic that could comfortably hold Angel and all her preteen friends.

First, we went up to see what we were dealing with. Usually, my husband is the one who braves the attic trips to get the Christmas decorations. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. There was a lot of dust, dirt, and dead bugs. We spent a good while sweeping and cleaning everything up.

Our next concern was making the attic comfortable enough that they could all sleep. The floors are just bare plywood. We checked around to see if we could find some inexpensive carpet remnant. We found a real good deal at Menard's. Their carpet remnants were on sale, and we found a 15 x 19.5 ft remnant for $107. It covered enough of the main section so everyone could fit with their sleeping bags.

Next we looked around for some furniture we could temporary move up to the attic. We have an air mattress that folds up into a small couch, that we bought for guests. That went up along with some folding chairs and oversized pillows. We also brought up Angel's T.V. with the D.V.D. player.

As we were hauling all of this stuff up to the attic, we realized we were having some problems with the folding attic ladder. The hinges that lock the ladder sections had broken, and it was starting to bend. I called the manufacturer, Werner, and asked about getting replacement hinges. To my shock, they told me they had discontinued the model we have, and they would send us out a new one free of charge! They even expedited the delivery so we would have it before the party!

The finishing touch was my brainchild. I concocted the idea of creating a pulley system so the girls could hook something from below, then pull the robe to hoist it up. At first my husband thought I was nuts, but he finally got on board and helped put it together. It worked really well, and it helped prevent the girls from trying to climb the ladder while carrying stuff.

The attic still needs some more work, but at least it's good enough for a nice little getaway for the kids. It was a fun little project.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Due to Current Economic Conditions...

I don't know about you, but I am SO sick of hearing this phrase. This phrase is always the preface to bad news: Due to current economic conditions, we are forced to close this store; due to current economic conditions, 30% of the workforce will be laid off indefinitely; due to current economic conditions, more families are losing their homes to foreclosure.

The company that I work for has not been immune to economic problems. We are a transportation provider for many large manufacturers. Our company's niche has been tier one suppliers for the automotive industry, not the best niche to be in these days...

As soon as the extended summer shutdowns in the automotive plants and bankruptcies were announced for Chrysler and General Motors, our company started a major cost cutting frenzy. Travel and other discretionary expenditures were drastically reduced. They also reduced labor expenses by cutting back hours and asking all salaried employees to take three weeks of unpaid furlough. Some employees were permanently let go.

The past few weeks were very difficult. Every time I would see an office door closed or see others speaking in hushed whispers, I wondered what was going on. If I saw a manager walking with an employee, I wondered if they were being walked out. I also started eying the name tags on the cubicles and office doors. If one was missing, then I knew they were gone.

This week is my first week of furlough (I will be taking my other weeks in July and August). It really sucks to lose a week's wages, but I have really loved having this week off. I enjoyed being home with the kids, and I didn't have to worry about them being at home alone with my Mom who has Alzheimer's. I planted our garden (better late than never), and worked on our attic so that Angel can have a big slumber party up there tomorrow night.

So, due to current economic conditions, we will not be going on a big vacation this summer or making any large purchases. But, I will be spending more time with my family, writing more on my blogs, and taking more long walks to relax and unwind.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Help! I'm Watching "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!"

Has anyone else been watching this show? I'm not sure what to say. There are so many things I dislike and find disturbing, yet I have sat in front of the T.V. watching every night this week!

First of all, the term "celebrity" is being used quite generously. The only names that were familiar to me were Lou Diamond Phillips, Sanjaya, and Patti Blagojevich (actually I had only heard of her husband, Rod). Oh yeah, and I cannot forget Steven Baldwin who has made reality T.V. his career.

The other issue I have with this show is that some of these people are completely nuts! I seriously think Spencer Pratt from The Hills needs some major mental help. He and and his wife Heidi have quit repeatedly, and now they want to come back. John Sully had an unexpected meltdown and flipped out on Janice Dickinson (who has had some ugly moments of her own).

Most of the challenges have been horrendous. It's like Fear Factor meets Survivor. The players have to contend with tarantulas, rats, eels, and anything else disgusting you can think of. Lou Diamond Phillips had to get medical attention from all the rat bites he sustained last night. Can't you get diseases that way?

I will say I've been most surprised by Patti Blagojevich. I guess her husband was supposed to be on the show, but the courts would not let him while he awaits trial for allegedly trying to sell Barack Obama's senate seat. I figured that she would be snotty and arrogant, with a lot of four-letter words coming out of her mouth. Instead she's shown a great attitude, and the other players all seem to like and respect her. She holds her own with the challenges, too.

So, I guess I'll be tuning in next week for four more nights of groaning, eye rolling, and cheering on pseudo-celebrities. Now that all our other shows are done for the season, there's not much else to do anyway...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Building a Blog from Scratch

Before I started blogging, I never would have believed how much I have learned to do. The high point of my computer programming experience was in eighth grade when I learned how to make my name repeat itself on the computer screen (10 Sherri, 20 goto 10 - or something like that). When Microsoft came out with their Office Suite, I felt quite proud as I learned to navigate all the commands and functions.

When I started my first blog at Today.com, I was quite intimidated at first. Control panel? Widgets? Fortunately, they had tutorials and ESPECIALLY, a great community to answer questions. Next, I set up a blog here with Blogger. Pretty easy, no problems!

So, feeling pretty confident in my ability to set up blogs, I recently started a new project. I decided to set up my own self-hosted blog. Now you may be wondering why in the world am I starting ANOTHER blog when I having trouble keeping up with the ones I have. All I can say is there is a method to my madness. It should all be clear in oh... maybe one more month (wink, wink).

Setting up a self-hosted blog has been quite the experience! I like the idea of having more freedom and control over my blog. But, we all know that all with more freedom comes more responsibility. It's like owning your first house. You can hang pictures where you want and do any renovation projects you choose. But who gets to fix the roof when there's a leak, or deal with the rabid raccoon living under your floorboards? That's right, you.

If I were to have a problem with any of my existing blogs, I can ask for help from an administrator. Who do I ask for help on this new blog? The other day I was working on it, and I broke it. I don't mean just messed up, I mean it was completely broken. It was so upsetting. Why isn't there an undo button or some way to recover my settings? It was so broke I couldn't even access the control panel!

I finally fixed it, but I had to reload Wordpress and start over from scratch. At least I only had one post, but it was still a pain to set up the widgets and plugins again. Oh well, live and learn. My new blog is Alzheimer's Disease Caregiver if you want to check it out.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend (if you live in the U.S.). A three-day weekend is always nice, and we had a lot of family time.

Saturday, I took my daughter shopping. She has grown a lot since last summer, and she's outgrown all of her shorts and capris. Saturday night, the kids and I went to a party at a campground where my husband was playing music. It's not very often the kids get to go since he usually plays places where you have to be 21.

Yesterday, we all went to a cookout at my brother-in-law's. It was a fun afternoon of visiting and eating lots of good food! We also listened to the Indianapolis 500, otherwise known as the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

Today, we were supposed to meet my dad for a picnic, but it got rained out. After being so busy the past couple of days, it was nice to just relax around the house. We'll try to meet up with Dad next weekend.

I love Memorial Day because it is a great kick-off to summer, fun time with family, and time to remember those who have passed on before.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Leave Me Alone, I Just Want to Do My Shopping!

Last week I had a couple of days off of work. On Thursday, I planned to attend Track and Field day at my daughter's school. The event was canceled, so I had some time on my hands. I decided to go ahead and go to Wal-Mart to buy groceries.

As I walked up to the store, I noticed a man standing to the side of the door. When I got closer, he stopped me and asked if he could ask me a question. I thought that maybe he needed directions or help with something, so I stopped to see what he wanted.

He proceeded to explain that he was asking people to take a short survey, and it would only take a few minutes. I wasn't in a hurry, so I thought, what the heck. The guy looked to be in his late forties. He looked a little scruffy, but he was dressed in decent, clean clothes. He made some small talk, then he motioned for me to follow him over to a bench.

I was starting to get suspicious. If this was just a short survey, then why couldn't he just ask me the questions then I could be on my way? I reluctantly sat down, wanting to hurry and get this over with. He explained that he was trying to earn points so he could win $5,000. He said he wanted to use the money to pay for grad school (yeah, right).

After he made his little spiel, he pulled out a paper with magazine titles. He asked me to show him a magazine that I was interested in. I told him I was not interested in a magazine. He insisted that I pick one. He said he would show me a price and I could decide if I wanted to buy it or not. By now, I was really getting ticked. I told him that he had said he wanted to give me a survey, and he didn't say anything about buying magazines. He laughed and said, "Yeah, that's because I didn't tell you that in the beginning." I told him again that I was NOT looking to buy a magazine. He quickly put the paper away and abruptly said, "Okay, thank you for your time."

I left to go in the store, and I was beyond mad. I actually felt violated. Here was this creepy man hanging outside my local Wal-Mart trying to scam people into buying magazines. There are always groups at the entrance to the store trying to raise money for charity, but never anything like this! I went straight to the customer service desk to complain. The girl at the desk told me she would check into it.

I did my shopping, and when I left I looked to see if the man was still there. Thankfully, he was gone. I still can't believe in our quiet little town someone has the nerve to hang out and try to solicit Wal-Mart shoppers. I was really mad at myself for stopping to talk to him. Usually, I'm pretty good about avoiding this kind of thing, but I just wasn't expecting it here in my hometown.

Friday, May 8, 2009

How the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic Changed My Family Tree

We’ve all heard a lot about flu pandemics recently. The fear that the bird flu or the H1N1 virus (swine flu) could be the next deadly pandemic is very real and frightening.

One of the worst pandemics of all time was the Spanish Flu of 1918. It is estimated that one fifth of the world's population was infected, and around 50 million people died (source). This terrible flu outbreak affected the lives of many families, including my grandfather’s.

My grandfather lived with his family on a farm in rural Tennessee. He was nine years old when the flu pandemic of 1918 struck their community. His mother died from flu complications, leaving his father to raise him and his four siblings alone. His uncle (his mother’s brother) also passed away after contracting the flu. His uncle left behind a wife and a two-year-old son.

I can only imagine how difficult it would be to grieve for a spouse while trying to raise a family and run a farm as a single parent in those days. They did not enjoy the modern conveniences that do, such as electricity and indoor plumbing. This horrific flu outbreak left these two families in a very difficult position.

Within months of losing their spouses, my great-grandfather married his recently widowed sister-in-law! They were not blood relatives, but how strange it must have been for the kids to have their father marry their aunt! I wonder if it was a practical marriage, or if they always had a thing for each other... Something must have been right, because together they had eight more children!

I think this is a rather intriguing branch on my family tree. Two families found a way to survive a tragic loss and carry on with life together.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Paying it Forward: The Winners Are...

Yeah! We have three lucky winners in the Pay it Forward Challenge. I will try to spread a little cheer to the following three bloggers:

slcolman - From Huskies to Husbands

Mom-Mom Kristi - Mom-Mom's Harmony

Quadmama - Got Quads?

Please email me your home address (csnield@gmail.com), and you'll soon be receiving a little Pay It Forward package from me! Now, you all get to figure out a way to Pay It Forward to three lucky bloggers. Have fun!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pay it Forward Challenge, Any More Takers???

Hi! I'm wondering if I may have frightened away a few potential Pay it Forward players when I described the grand goodie bag I received from Lin at Duck and Wheel with String. I should have mentioned you do not have to go out and spend a lot of money or do anything extravagant. Just a nice, kind thing that would make someone feel good. It could even be free advertising on your blog or a singing telegram (well, maybe that would work for some people, not me!). Anything that works for you to show another blogger some kindness. With all the bad things going on in the world, we all could use a little kindness every now and then!

So... I'll extend my deadline for the Pay it Forward Challenge until Sunday at midnight. I only have one contestant so far, so don't be shy and let me know if you'd like to play! I'll draw three lucky winners and if you win, you'll receive a little something special from me!

On another note, sorry I haven't been keeping up on my blogging lately. Since the weather is warming up it seems like there is so much we need to do outdoors, and the kids' activities have been picking up. One of these days I'll find a way to fit it all in!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Little Boy is Growing Up

Our son Tyler just got back from a trip to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. My dad operates an educational tour company called 500 Tours, and this year they offered the trip to the junior high where Tyler goes to school.

Tyler's always been shy and quiet. He's the one I tend to worry about because he's not as social as my daughter. He's also one who needs constant reminding, "don't forget to take your shower, did you brush your teeth?" This was going to the first time for him to be away from home (and me) for a trip like this. Would he be okay going three whole days without me to watch out for him and remind him of things?

The first day he was gone, I sent him some text messages like, "R U having fun?" He didn't respond (of course, he's not connected to his cell phone like my daughter is). The second day I sent another text, but still no response. But, he DID call my husband! He wanted to know what was going on with a NASCAR race. Nothing about me... My husband said he told Tyler to give me call.

I waited for Tyler to call, but he never did. Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore and I called him later that night. He said he was sorry he forgot to call me. He and his roommates were in another room at the hotel where some classmates brought along their Wii. He said they might all sleep in their room. I was very happy to hear he was having fun and hanging out with the other kids. "So," I prodded, "are you going to take your shower in their room or yours?" To my shock, Tyler replied that he had gotten up at 5:30 and he took his shower that morning. What? He actually practiced good personal hygiene without me telling him to do it?

Tyler had a great time at Space Camp. He learned a lot, had fun, and proved that he doesn't need me quite as much as I thought he did. Sigh... I guess it's time for me to let go a little and let him grow up.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Paying it Forward - What I Found at the End of the Rainbow

Today started off as a really blah day. I felt tired and worn down because I getting over a head cold. I've been bummed out due to some recent blogging drama and some changes at work. To make it worse, today was a cold, cloudy, rainy Monday. Blah, blah, blah...

After work, I picked up Angel from her tumbling class. I didn't feel like cooking supper, so we went through the drive thru at KFC. We just pulled out of the parking lot, when Angel realized she didn't get her drink. When I turned the car around to go back, I saw the most beautiful sight in the sky. It was a big, bright, rainbow! I went back to get the drink, and I was so happy about the rainbow I even pointed it out to the kid working the drive thru (much to Angel's embarrassment).

The beautiful rainbow was in our view all the way home. I told Angel that it looked like the rainbow ended over by our house. I wistfully told her that maybe we would find our pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (to which I received an eye roll with a "yeah, right").

So, we came home, and I dragged my tired body and the bucket of KFC into the house. I noticed a box sitting on the island in the kitchen. It was addressed to ME from Lin from Duck and Wheel with String! I couldn't believe it, this was my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!!!

The kids heard my gasp and they poked their heads into the kitchen with curiosity. "Look! It's my prize from the Pay it Forward contest!"I exclaimed. They came closer as opened the box. This was as exciting as Christmas morning! Inside the box was an adorable polka dotted gift bag with lots of goodies. I squealed with delight each time I pulled out one of the gifts (even little Miss I'm 2 KEWL 4 U was impressed). The surprises inside included: Some wonderfully scented Mea Culpa Body Yogurt, an adorable kitty-shaped bar of Happy Goats Soap (it looked like Hobbes, of course), kitty treats, chocolates, candles, a notepad, a nail buffer, and a very sweet note from Lin.

I'm so grateful that I was chosen as one of the prize winners in Lin's Pay it Forward Challenge. My prize came at a time when I really needed a little pick-me-up and a reminder that there are some really great people in the world. Lin's blog is one of my favorites because she is so funny and insightful, and you can feel her kindness as you read her words. If you haven't checked out her blog, Duck and Wheel with String, you really should!

Now, it's MY turn to pay it forward to three more bloggers. Please comment by midnight on Saturday, April 25, if you would like to have your name entered for a chance to win. Sorry, but to keep shipping costs down, only contestants who live in the U.S please. I'm not sure if I can come up with something as good as Lin did, but I'll put on my thinking cap and see what I can come up with. It's a lot of fun, so let me know if you're up for the Pay it Forward Challenge!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Sheriff Has a New Deputy in Town!

When you gaze into my fishbowl, you will notice some furry, four-legged fishies. We have four cats and two dogs, and it can be quite amusing to watch them interact!

Over time, the animals have developed their own hierarchy. Simba is the ruler of all the animals in our house. We call him "the Sheriff" because he doesn't put up with any ruckus in his town.

Next is Honey, a red bone coon hound. She was a stray that we adopted. She's always had a bit of wildness in her, and she is true to her breed in how she loves to hunt. Honey also personifies the meaning of the word for female dog.

The two female cats, Sasha and Spot, are next. They cannot stand each other, and they go back and forth with who gets to be the dominant female cat. If they are in the same room, you will hear them hissing and growling at each other.

Licorice is our big black male cat, and he is the lowest ranking cat. It's not because he's afraid of the other animals, it's because he just doesn't care. If there were a Margaritaville for cats, he'd be there getting wasted away on milk and catnip.

The bottom of our animal hierarchy is Biscuit, our yellow Labrador. He wants desperately to be friends with the cats, but he is afraid of all of them. Simba and Licorice will sometimes let Biscuit sniff them, but if they turn around and look him in the eye, he will cower.

One night, Honey saw Spot in the living room. Like a big bully, Honey chased her out of the room. Honey strutted back with her head held high. But what she didn't realize was that Simba had staked out the room and he was watching her. My mom had made a bed for the cats out of a cardboard box. The box has two openings on each side for carrying handles. Simba was inside the box and watching out of one of the holes.

Honey walked through the living room and passed the box that Simba was in. As soon as Honey was by the box, Simba jumped up and started whacking her in the face with his paws! Then, out of nowhere, Licorice ran over and started whacking the other side of Honey's face! Honey froze. She didn't know what to do. My husband and I finally had to pick up the cats to get them off of her. Honey was trembling and had a cut across her nose.

So, it looks like Licorice might be moving up in the ranks. Maybe he's just been an undercover secret agent who was posing as a lazy cat that didn't care. Maybe he thought his buddy Simba was in danger and needed some back up. Whatever it was, the sheriff has a new deputy in town and they're not putting up with any monkey business from the dogs!

Friday, April 10, 2009

My First Job - Lessons Learned

I saw this on Lola's Diner, and I thought it sounded like so much fun! The topic for this week is My First Job, and my first job was a doozy!

One good thing about growing up with frugal parents is that you are inspired to work to earn your own money. I was born in 1968, and money was very tight for our family throughout the 70's and early 80's. Anytime there was an opportunity for me to earn money, I was there.

I did a lot of babysitting and pet care for other families, but my first REAL job was at a local cafeteria style restaurant. I was almost 14 when I started, and my parents had to drop me off and pick me up. I had to have a signed work permit, and my hours were restricted because of my age.

This was a restaurant that our family had eaten at very often. It was operated by a Mormon family (you don't see too many Mormons in Indiana) that had several daughters. The father always served the meat. Every time we would go through the line he was very friendly and talkative.

When I asked my parents if I could work there, they agreed and we asked the owner if I could have a part-time job. I filled out an application and I was hired. My starting wage was only $2.50 an hour. It was under the minimum wage, but because it was food service he could get away with paying less (even though very few people tip in cafeterias). I didn't mind. I was excited about the prospect of earning $20 to $30 a week of my own money.

Up to this point in my life, I had been quite sheltered. The only adults I had been around outside of my family were were from school, church, or my friends' parents. It was at this job that I learned not all adults are kind and caring.

The owner, who was so gregarious and friendly to customers, was often angry and unpredictable to his family and employees. I'll never forget my first day on the job. I was in the back of the restaurant and I saw him walking toward me. Smiling happily, I looked up at him and said hello. He gave me a dirty look and walked away without saying a word. When the restaurant was closed, he would yell if he thought someone wasn't doing their job. Once, I was carefully wiping out the water left from the ice in the salad area. He looked over at me and yelled, "Put it in second!" I had no idea what that meant, and I must have given him a deer-in-the-headlights look. He just shook his head and walked away.

The rest of the family was very nice. There were at least seven daughters and one of them was my age. She was a lot of fun and we became good friends. The mother was from Germany and had a very heavy accent. Looking back, I realize now that she was nervous and stressed when her husband was around. Sometimes they would be in the office with the door closed, and we could hear shouting.

About a year and half after I started, the owner was admitted to the hospital and he was gone for several months. The rumor from the other employees was that he had a nervous breakdown and had been admitted for psychiatric treatment. Work was much more pleasant with him not there!

When the owner was released, he came back to work. He seemed calmer (maybe from medication), but I was never comfortable around him. One day after I finished working on a Sunday afternoon, I was waiting outside behind the restaurant for one of my parents to pick me up. I was now almost 16, and I had my dress on from Church that morning. The owner walked outside and approached me from behind. He placed his hand on my shoulder with a slight caress. "My, you have really developed into a nice-looking young lady," he said. I froze, and I distinctly remember the disgusting, creepy feeling that I felt from head to toe. "Thanks," I muttered, and thankfully, he walked away and never said anything like that to me again.

When I turned 16, I was able to drive to work. One day I drove to the restaurant and a sign was posted on the back door. It said that the restaurant was closed and we could pick up our last check at the owner's home. Business had been much slower over the last few months, and I don't think they were able to afford to stay in business.

I really don't know why I stayed there as long as I did. I don't think Mom and Dad realized how bad the working conditions were, and I really liked having a paycheck. I also think I still had the mindset that all adults are good and are to be respected no matter what. I would never work in conditions like that now, and I stress to my kids to trust their instincts and get out of uncomfortable situations immediately.

Do you have a good first job story? Please comment or go to Lola's Diner to learn how you can Blog Back Time.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What's So Great About Texting?

If you have a preteen or teen in your life, you are probably well aware of the popularity of texting. My daughter is eleven, and sometimes her texting drives me crazy! Here are a few things that annoy me:

  1. She prefers to text rather than talk. I’m not talking about places she has to be quiet, I mean she would rather text ALL THE TIME! Wouldn’t it be easier to verbalize something and have a conversation than to type everything out?

  1. She tries to text while doing other things. When I catch her, I make her put her phone up. But if left to her own devices, she would text during meals, while helping clean the house, and while shopping. There is nothing more annoying that seeing her try to walk around the store with her phone up so she can text!

  1. She gets mad if I call her. I called her on her phone a few weeks ago. “Why didn’t you text me?” she sneered. I told her I would rather talk to her so I could hear the beautiful sound of her voice. I explained that I just don’t get all of the emotion from her texts. She quickly informed me that she CAN show emotions while texting by using different punctuation.

  1. She texts me while I’m driving. When I call her back, I have to explain that I cannot text while I’m driving. I think it’s funny, because then she has to TALK to me.

  1. Her text language doesn’t make sense. Okay, I understand why you would want to abbreviate and replace words with letters. But does typing KEWL instead of COOL really save you any time?

I guess the only good thing is now I have something I can threaten to take away from her if she gets in trouble!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kids Today Are So Busy!

I’m actually writing this post while I’m waiting at my daughter’s soccer practice. This weekend we’re picking her up early from cheerleader tryouts so we can travel 2 ½ hours away to a soccer game. Since I found someone to stay with my Mom (she lives with us and has Alzheimer’s disease), we are going to stay overnight in a hotel and make a fun weekend out of it. My husband and I spend a good part of our free time attending our kids’ activities. It sure wasn’t like this when I was a kid.

I grew up in the seventies, and I just don’t remember that many activities being offered to kids outside of basic school activities. The few that were offered, I had to beg and plead to participate in. I remember when I wanted to play softball when I was in second grade. Mom and Dad said I could, but I had to be on the same team as my two older cousins. I think they planned it this way so I could ride with them to practices and games. We only had one vehicle, so I don’t know if it was too much trouble to take me or if they didn’t want to.

As I grew older, I was in band and I tried a few sports at school. Games and events were all local, and there were never any big family outings to attend anything far away. Mom and Dad still didn’t come very often. I remember when I played volleyball in Jr. High that if my dad came to watch, he would bring a newspaper to read. It always seemed like the only times he looked up was when I made a mistake!

My husband’s experience with sports and activities wasn’t much better. Since he was the youngest of seven children, by the time his time came around his parents had grown weary of chauffeuring kids all over the place. When he did play baseball, his dad would actually walk over from the town bar to watch a game. He would stand behind the plate and every time he had a strike, he’d sternly yell out, “Come on, son!”

So, I don’t know if maybe some of us feel we were deprived as children, so we overcompensate by having our kids in every activity under the sun. Maybe we are trying to live out our unrealized dreams through them. Or maybe, we’re just caught up in the idea that we have to do more and more for our kids to be a good parent. I don’t know what it is, but I’m just happy my laptop has a decent battery so I can write about it while I’m waiting!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Oh My! I Think I Have a Crush on Phil from the Amazing Race!

In our house, we watch a lot of reality T.V. Of all the shows we watch, The Amazing Race is our favorite. I love the action and drama, and we learn a little something about other cultures. But I must say, my favorite part of the show is the host Phil Keoghan. He seems like a genuinely kind man who cares about the contestants. Plus, he has a really sexy Australian accent, sigh...

This season, one of our favorite teams is Margie and Luke. They are mother and son, and Luke is deaf. I nearly melted when Phil first signed, "You are team number..." when they arrived at the mat. Last night, we watched as Margie struggled through the leg and fainted when she got to the mat. Without any hesitation, Phil leaped across the mat to catch Margie in his arms. He called for water and helped her cool off on the sidelines. I was so moved that I had to rewind our DVR just to watch it again. "I just love Phil," I said breathlessly. The kids gave me a look, and Tyler told me to "calm down." Hubby was upstairs so he didn't hear my confession!

You know, sometimes I fantasize about being on the show (and being in shape to do it). But I do know I were on the Amazing Race, I would not be so lucky to faint into Phil's arms. No, I would pass out on a mountainside or in an alley with Phil nowhere near to come to my rescue. I would be lying there with drool coming out of my mouth and the camera rolling. I'd probably get trampled by an ox or have my fanny pack snatched by a local thief.

Oh well. I'm glad Margie is okay and I hope her and Luke continue to do well on the race. Even if Phil will never catch me in his arms, I can still dream...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Is My Local Wal-Mart Messing With Me?

Like thousands of other small towns across America, we have a local Wal-Mart where most people do most of their shopping. Love it or hate it, it's the only store around that has a complete array of groceries and household items.

Last week when I went, I noticed they were moving some things around. Nothing major, I just thought that maybe they were doing some cleaning or putting down some new flooring. Tonight I went and about half of the store was moved around, and I could tell they were working on even more changes. All of the paper goods were at the back of the store where the baby section and shoes used to be. The baby section was shoved in with the kids clothes and the shoes were stuck out in the middle aisles. There were other changes like some of the snack items moved out so that the beer and liquor could be there instead of with the drinks. Even the deli and bakery section had shelves moved out to make room for something else.

Fortunately, I didn't have too much to buy and I wasn't in a time crunch. I could figure out where to go, but I was definitely off of my normal path. I looked at some of the other shoppers. Most of them looked frustrated and confused. Everyone just seemed to be wandering around with a lost look on their face.

I'm sure in time that everyone will adjust. We'll be able to get to the toilet paper aisle without thinking, and our shopping routes will become reestablished so we can shop on autopilot. I do wonder why they decided to make such drastic changes. Knowing Wal-Mart, they probably studied how store arrangement affects buying habits so we'll spend even more on our shopping trips. Or maybe, it was just a random change and someone is watching me on the security cameras and laughing.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Do I Really Want My 11-Year-Old Daughter Singing the Lyrics to "If U Seek Amy" by Britney Spears?

I consider myself pretty open minded when it comes to music. I like to know what my kids are listening to, and if it's something questionable we can talk about it.

Last week, I heard the new Britney Spears song, If U Seek Amy, on the radio. Part of the lyrics were bleeped out, so I wondered what she was saying. In situations like this, I consult with my friend, Amanda, at work. Her daughter is a few years older, so she usually knows about things before I do. She explained that she was singing, "All the boys and girls are begging to if U seek Amy." I didn't get it. Why were the boys and girls begging her to seek someone named Amy? Amanda had to spell it out for me, literally. Oh... now I get it. Great. I knew it would only be a matter of days before my daughter would know all about this.

A few days later we're in the car when the song comes on. Her face lights up, "Oh, I like this song, it's by Britney Spears!" Okay, I thought, maybe she's just heard the song and has no idea what it's about. She then casually informed me that part of the song SOUNDS like she spelling a bad word, but she's really just saying, "If you seek Amy."

"Yeah, I know," I told her. I went on saying that I couldn't understand why Britney would sing a song about people wanting to do that to her. I tried to turn it into a teaching moment about values and respecting your body. She just looked at me like I was stupid. Finally, I looked at her and asked, "Do you even know what that word means?" "Kind of," she answered quietly. "It means having SEX!" I exclaimed.

The rest of the car ride was pretty quiet. Times have really changed. When I was her age, my dad made me throw away the 45 record I bought of "Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)" by Robert Palmer because of the line, "you'll like it on top." (Like I had any clue what THAT meant). He also confiscated my "Call Me" record by Blondie because it was from the sound track of American Gigolo. Today, there's nothing I can do to keep my daughter from hearing this song besides locking her in her room and eliminating all contact with the outside world. Eleven is just too young to be singing along with a song that sounds like it came from a pornographic movie.

My Life in the Fishbowl

Since I started blogging, sometimes I feel like my life is a fishbowl. People stop by to read what's going on, and sometimes they may laugh or shake their heads in disbelief. I don't know what it is about human nature that makes us want to watch other people and their lives.

This blog will have updates and links to posts from my two other blogs, Taking Care of Me and Caregiving Daughter. But this blog will also be for my random thoughts, ramblings, and other tidbits of my life that don't seem to fit in with the topics on those blogs.

So please come back often to see what's going on with my life in the fishbowl.