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Monday, January 31, 2011

A bit of a rant….

So, I know I’ve been MIA for a few days as far as this blog goes. Things have been chaotic as usual, but that’s nothing new as anyone who knows me knows.

Since I don’t have internet access at home (other than my phone), this blog has been a joint effort. I type up the posts on my home computer, save them, transfer them to my phone, email them to my trusty assistant, and she logs in and posts them for me. I had heard that there was a way that I could tether my phone to my computer and use it as a modem, but my computer was too out of date for that stuff. A friend offered to update it for me, and so I delivered my computer to him yesterday for him to work his magic. He did his thing, and let me know today that he was done with it.

Because we are getting more oh-so-lovely winter weather, my son’s bus was not running for preschool today. I had to drop him off and pick him up. No big deal, as it’s only a few blocks away from the house. When I dropped him off, I noticed that the She-Beast was doing her characteristic whine that she does when she is hungry for power steering fluid. Keep in mind that I replaced both power steering hoses last summer, and I have not had an issue with it since then. I went to pick him up after school and then we ran a couple of errands. I had to stop at the post office, and when I pulled in to parallel park, the power steering went out. Completely. Great. Yay me. I backed up a bit to get into my parking spot, and saw all of my power steering fluid in a puddle on the ground. I popped the hood and looked and from what I could see, both hoses were still attached at the base of the steering column. I can’t see the other ends without getting underneath her, and I just wasn’t in the mood for that. So I drove to my friend’s house and got the computer and came home, struggling to make every turn.

When I got home, I hooked up my computer and started playing around with it to figure out how I could do the tethering thing. Now, I am not a computer geek by any stretch of the imagination – like mechanical work, I know just enough to be dangerous. But I got the phone connected and told it to tether and then tried to open up the browser. It opened, and defaulted to a page from my cell phone provider informing me that in order to do this, I have to pay an additional $20 per month on top of the exorbitant amount that I already pay in order to have unlimited service. Another $20? Really? Seriously? Is it worth it? For convenience, yes. For my wallet, not so much. So here I sit, still trying to decide if I want to do it or not. I like having the internet on my phone so that I can use it anywhere, but it would be nice to be able to view pages on a normal sized monitor rather than the tiny little screen on the phone. And with my chubby fingers, it would be so much easier to do all of my typing on a regular keyboard. But is it really worth ANOTHER $20???

Then I realized that in addition to getting my son to preschool tomorrow (because I’m sure that the busses won’t be running again) I also have to get the two youngest to their playschool in the morning. With no power steering. Ugh. It never ends. The good news is that I can take the She-Beast to my friend’s house (the same one who fixed my computer) and use their garage, and at least work on her out of the elements. The trick will be navigating the alley and the entrance to their garage without hitting anything on the way in.

I am so sick and tired of this stuff. I am sick and tired of having to fix things that break, especially on the She-Beast. I am sick and tired of having to deal with all of the BS that happens in my life on an almost-daily basis. I am tired of doing all of the cooking and the cleaning and the laundry and the chauffeuring and the mechanical work and everything else that comes along with being a single parent. I am tired of not having the money to just pay a real mechanic to fix the She-Beast when she breaks, and I’m tired of not having the money to do ANYTHING. I know that this is all temporary – I am getting back on my feet, and at least I have a vehicle (most of the time) and I have a roof over our heads. The daycare licensing is almost done, and then I can advertise and get the kids that I need to get to get some steady income coming in. I know that we are going to get through this, but damn if it isn’t frustrating as hell sometimes. I keep thinking of the old saying “what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger” – well I know this isn’t going to kill me, but I’m about as strong as I really want to be right now.

And now that I see that my 5 year old has wet his pants, I now have to go deal with that. And then finish cleaning and get both of the boys ready for bed and clean up the living room and the kitchen and do some paperwork and finish about 4 loads of laundry that are in various stages of being done and run the dishwasher and make a grocery list and get prepared to go spend the afternoon underneath the She-Beast tomorrow.

Good thing I just made another pot of coffee. I think it’s going to be an all-nighter.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A somewhat typical day…

So this is one of those days where I just don’t have anything profound to say. After the chaos of my typical Wednesday afternoon/evening yesterday, I read for a little bit and then I went to bed fairly early. The alarms (yes, that’s plural) went off at 5:15am this morning and I staggered to the shower to start my day. By 7:15, I had all 5 kids up, dressed, fed, teeth brushed (at least I think they all brushed their teeth), lunches packed for the 2 who wanted them, I was dressed and even managed to slap a little bit of makeup on….and we headed out the door to school.

The older 3 go to school about 15 miles from here. On Thursdays and Fridays I have to take them to school so that involves getting ALL of them up and ready at this ungodly hour. Considering that only one of the 6 of us is a morning person – and it is NOT me, these mornings are usually jam-packed with arguing, screaming, and temper tantrums – and I’m not sure who is worse, me or the kids. I hate mornings with every fiber of my being. If I could wake up on my own and take my time to get out of bed, I’d be fine. But having multiple alarms screaming at me and deadlines to meet just doesn’t agree with me.

But, I managed to get them there on time, and I don’t think that they forgot anything. I turned around and headed home with the youngest two to try to get organized for the day. They have preschool at 9:00am so we left just a few minutes before that to get there on time. I had to talk to the director about immunizations and fees and such, so I visited with her for a few minutes and then came back home. I had taken them to the doctor yesterday to get immunizations updated, and found that their records were a bit “off” – rather than wait at the doctor’s office and have my 5 year old be late for school yesterday, I told them that I would pick up the (hopefully) completed and updated records later. So I left the house at about 9:30am today and walked to the doctor’s office.

It was a bit odd – walking without a stroller. It’s not something that I get to do very often, if at all. I set the one app on my phone to track my progress and found that the pace I did during this walk was close to my goal pace for when I actually do the half-marathon. Granted, I only walked a little over 3 miles today, but still – it gives me a little bit of hope.

After I got home from my walk, I jumped into the shower (again) and rinsed off the sweat and then got dressed (again) and took off to pick the boys up from preschool (and drop off the new and improved immunization records for their files).

Once home, again, I started laundry, found something for all of us to eat (which included me eating way too much crap – why oh why did I do that after I did all that walking this morning?!?!?!?!?!), did some dishes, loaded the dishwasher, picked up some random crap that was laying around, started folding the girls’ laundry, etc etc etc. I have to leave here around 2:00pm to go back to the older kids’ school to pick up the daughter that got injured during the basketball game on Saturday, as she is still in too much pain for my comfort. Her ankle is still somewhat swollen and is turning all sorts of not-so-pretty colors. So after I get her to the doctor and back home, I get to deal with homework and dinner (I don’t even know what in the world to make at this point) and baths and I’m quite sure that there will be drama mixed in there too. At least my 5 year old doesn’t have school today or tomorrow – adds to the chaos in some ways, as he is the Non-Stop Kid, but also makes things easier because I don’t have to worry about pickups and dropoffs for him.

Someday, maybe someday, I’ll get to have a truly relaxing day. I’m thinking that might happen sometime around June 2025, when my youngest turns 18.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

32 down, 18 to go

Pounds, that is. I started out roughly this time last year at 200 pounds. On a 5’4” frame, that’s not such a good thing. So I told myself that I was making a conscious effort to lose weight and get in shape.

I have never been good at follow-through on anything. I stick with something for a couple of weeks, maybe, and then I slack. This pattern goes back and forth constantly. I also have issues with fairly severe PMDD and when that ride hits the downhill spiral, I turn to food for comfort. Heck, I turn to food for comfort for just about anything – rough day, no money, rainy weather, hangnail…..

One thing that I’ve been able to do since I got my hip replaced is walk. And I love to walk. I load up the kid(s) in the stroller and we’ll go hiking through town for a couple of hours, easily. The problem is, once again, sticking to it. I usually do really well for a couple of days, and then I get lazy again.

I have discovered a few things that have helped me. There are apps that I have downloaded onto my phone that track how far I’ve walked using the phone’s GPS or that count the calories in the food that I eat. Sometimes just tracking these things can help with the motivation issues – “Oh look, I walked one mile yesterday, so maybe I can go 1.5 today” or something like that. Or, “Holy crap, I’ve eaten HOW MANY calories today???” which is the more common reaction.

I’ve even found that just posting things on Facebook has helped – posting when I’ve taken a walk or when I’ve hit a weight-loss milestone – the moral support from my friends has been phenomenal to say the least.

Right now, my main motivation is this half-marathon. I am both looking forward to it and dreading it. I really want to do it – I want to be able to say that I finished it, regardless of how long it takes me. I know that I have just over 3 months to prepare for it, and that I’ll never be able to finish it if I don’t get myself into better shape before then. There are 6 of us that are hoping to be able to do it (so far, but anyone is still welcome to join us!), and so we’ve been cheering each other on in our workout efforts – but it’s hard because none of them live close enough to me that we can just get together at the spur-of-the-moment and work out or walk together. And while I’m looking forward to it, I’m kicking myself in the butt for ever mentioning that I was thinking about doing one, as that idea has now snowballed – but that’s a good thing.

I have always found that if I have a specific goal in mind, I do better. And it can’t be a made up goal, like wanting to just lose ___ pounds by ____. It has to be for an event – in 2002, the last time that I weighed this much or less, it was my 13 year class reunion. I survived on meal replacement shakes and diet frozen food for 6 months in order to squeeze my butt into that particular pair of jeans, and by God it worked! Until the reunion was over, and then well…..yeah. Back to the old habits, had a few more kids, and the pounds just kept accumulating.

At this point, I know that I have until May 1 to get ready for this half-marathon (keep in mind, I’m WALKING it, not RUNNING it). I would like to get down to my goal weight of 150 by that time, but I don’t know if that will happen or not. If I focus, it can. Unfortunately for me, stress usually wins and so I have to teach myself to make better choices as to what goes into my mouth when I am stressed – and I also have to remember that a candy bar and a diet soda is NOT a meal (even though it is one of my favorites)…. I have to force myself to workout, whether it is getting out and walking or doing an exercise video or whatever. I am going to try to get a bunch of healthy food made up and stock my freezer so that when I’m in a hurry, I can just grab something and heat it up. There are so many little things that I can change that will add up to some huge differences, but it is just a matter of doing it and sticking with it. And now that I’ve thrown it out here publicly, I have a few more people than just myself to be accountable to. *smacking self on head for going this public*

Another reason that I really need to do this, besides the fact that I’m now single and I want to look my best (shallow much?) is that with no health insurance, I really need to make an effort to be as healthy as possible. I need to eat better and stay in better shape. I can’t afford to go to the doctor unless it is an absolute emergency, so I need to do what I can to avoid it. I know what I need to eat to help with the joint pain, and if I can get my body to be stronger as a whole, the joint pain should ease up. At least that sounds good in theory….

So there it is. It’s not a big secret, I don’t have a secret weapon, and I’m not SuperWoman. It’s taken me a year or more to get this far with some wild ups and downs with my weight, but I think that I might be at a point where I can start to focus on it (along with everything else that I need to focus on) and maybe make some permanent changes and be healthier in general. At least, that’s my plan (stupid p-word). I still have that pair of jeans that I wore to that reunion – I bought them before I had my first kid, and I haven’t worn them since that reunion. But they are still hanging there with my other jeans, and at some point, they will fit again. And I’m not talking about the laying on the bed, sucking everything in, fighting with the zipper and then not being able to stand or sit kind of fitting – I’m talking about putting them on like a normal human being and zipping them without a struggle. That is my *other* motivation right now.

Oh, one last thing – I know for a fact that dropping the 150 pounds of dead weight 2 weeks ago helped too – amazing what that has done for my mental state. Yep, I went there. So sue me.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Whew. I’m alive. I think.

So I know I disappeared for a few days. Saturday was spent running from one basketball game to another with some minor injuries to my girls. The younger one got her ankle pretty badly sprained during the second quarter of her second game and had to sit the rest of the game out. The older one suffered more dramatic injuries – as in, things didn’t go her way and so therefore there was drama. Now, don’t get me wrong, she did get knocked down and turned her ankle, but she was still able to play. However, the opposing team – both players and fans – left such a bad taste in my mouth that it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t write anything about it that day. More on that to follow….

After the games on Saturday, we came back home so that the oldest one could get ready to go to a sleepover. She showered and dressed and stomped and huffed around until her friend came and got her, and then I took the other four and we did some quick grocery shopping, and then my 5 year old’s father came and got him for the rest of the weekend.

Sunday morning we got up and I got the remaining older two ready to go to church with their father. They left and then it was just me and my youngest for the rest of the day. I made the executive decision not to go to church ourselves, as I just wasn’t feeling quite right. I worked on cleaning and laundry (don’t I always?) and just puttered around the house. I believe the only time we went outside was to run some stuff that the kids had forgotten across town to the ex’s truck so that he wouldn’t have to come back for it.

I put a batch of chili in the crockpot earlier in the day and once that was done I had a bowl of that and watched a bit of football and tried to relax. I put the littlest munchkin to bed and then I laid down to read for a while. I fell asleep and then woke up at 2:00am with that Oh Crap Something Is Wrong Feeling. I sprinted for the bathroom, and sure enough, something was wrong. After I felt as though things were done, I went back to bed. Not even 5 minutes later, I was up again. I was up probably every 15-20 minutes until morning. Thank goodness I only had my youngest at home with me. He got up that morning, put a movie in, and sat and watched a movie while I continued to lay on my futon, trying to decide if the bug that had invaded my body wanted to start using two exits or stick with just the one. The human body amazes me – nothing can go into it for a 24 hour period, yet more keeps coming out of it. Oy.

By this time, I pretty much decided that it was something that I ate. All in all, despite the nuclear explosions coming from my backside, I didn’t feel *that* bad. So I managed to eat some oyster crackers and drink a little bit of water, but I didn’t push my luck. My 5 year old came home from his father’s that morning just in time to get on the bus to go to preschool, so luckily I only had the youngest one for the majority of the ordeal. I had to pick the 5 year old up from preschool in order to complete a “home visit” with his teacher so we did that quickly and then we ran back to the store on a quest for ginger ale and then we went home.

So, as I started to say at the beginning of this…..the basketball game. Yeah. OK.

The league that my girls play on is a city league. The teams are split up by grade levels. Originally the 4th graders had enough girls for two teams, and the schedule was set up that way. Then a couple of girls moved away and they were left with exactly 10 girls. If they stuck with two teams, all of the girls would have to play start to finish in every game, and if one girl was gone, then the team would have to forfeit the game. So they opted to combine the girls into one big team and attempt to play both games every Saturday, as long as it is physically possible for the parents to get them back and forth. For the most part, it’s worked out, although there are a couple of Saturdays coming up where they are only playing one game because both games were scheduled at the same time in two different towns. My 5th grader plays a regular schedule. So generally we have three games in three different towns on Saturdays.

This past Saturday was easy. Both of the 4th grade games were at home, so not only were they in the same town, they were in the same gym in the same building. Perfect. My daughter got injured during the second game, but the girls played well and it was a good atmosphere.

The 5th grade girls were scheduled to play an away game a little bit later. So we loaded up and headed to that game after running home to get an ace bandage and some ibuprofen for my wounded warrior. When we got to the school where that game was to be played, there was a totally different atmosphere. There was a woman sitting a few seats down the row from me who was very obviously a mother of one of the girls on the opposing team. Her daughter was easy to spot from the embarrassed look on her face every time this woman opened her mouth.

This woman who was sitting near me….how can I say this nicely? She was very….vocal. Like I said, it was easy to tell who her daughter was, because every time this little girl did something wrong, this woman SCREAMED at her from the bleachers. “What are you doing??” “What are you thinking?” “Get on her!!” “How could you have missed that shot?!?!” At one point, the little girl (and I keep saying “little” because she was tiny!) got knocked down HARD. She definitely got the wind knocked out of her and she was crying. This woman went stomping down the bleachers, stormed across the floor, and proceeded to tell her daughter to get up and start playing again. I sat there in shock, stunned that a mother could treat her daughter that way. She never said anything positive to her daughter or to any of her teammates. She didn’t cheer when they did something right – she only pointed out the mistakes.

While this was going on, there was a student fan behind me from the other team. She was just about as bad as the mother. She was sitting with a couple of her friends, and I could hear her talking about the players on our team. She wasn’t yelling, but she wasn’t trying to stay quiet either. Granted, our team was not putting on their most stellar performance, and my daughter was having issues and was getting emotional out on the floor – but this little girl sitting behind me was mouthing off about every player on our team, especially my daughter. I sat and watched the game, cheering on ALL of our girls when they did something right – not pointing out when they did something wrong. Silly me, but I think that’s the coaches’ job, not mine.

How can we expect our youth to learn respect when the adults don’t show it? This was just a snippet of life – one basketball game with one rabid mother and one obnoxious student fan who probably didn’t even know each other – but still, if this is the way that adults act, what else are the kids going to learn? We as parents sit around and whine about the youth of today and how they are disrespectful irresponsible little brats, but what are we teaching them? Respect is not something that can only be taught – it has to be modeled. Kids have to observe it in order to understand it. Respect is not something that should come and go, depending on the situation – it is something that should always be there, regardless of where you are or what you are doing.

I’m not saying that I’m perfect in this area – in fact, I am far from it. But at the same time, this incident at this game has really made me think, and it really opened my eyes to some things. Maybe by watching this rabid mother and listening to this disrespectful pre-teen for an hour, I have been somewhat enlightened. Maybe I can make a conscious effort to change a few things in the ways that my kids and I interact. Maybe it will give someone else food for thought. I don’t know.

I didn’t really mean to get this deep – but that’s part of the fun of writing this. I never know what I’m going to write when I sit down and start typing. I just let it happen. So if you’ve made it this far in this post, I congratulate you for having an attention span greater than mine – because I honestly have to go back and read what I just typed because I have no idea how I even started this!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Word of the Day

1. division into two usually contradictory parts or opinions: “the dichotomy of the one and the many” (Louis Auchincloss).
2. Astronomy The phase of the moon, Mercury, or Venus when half of the disk is illuminated.
3. Botany Branching characterized by successive forking into two approximately equal divisions.

Another definition that I found is: a division into two parts or classifications, esp when they are sharply distinguished or opposed (the dichotomy between eastern and western cultures).

I think I like the last definition the best. The word “dichotomy” has been stuck in my head for the past few days. I have a lot of thoughts jumbled up in my head right now, so this could end up being a very jumbled, very long, very boring post. This could be one of the ones that leaves you scratching your head saying “why did I decide to read this again?” For all I know, you’re already saying that, and I’m just babbling into the thin air. But that’s ok, because as long as I’m typing it, I’m not talking (out loud) to myself, and that means that I’m still sane, right? Right? RIGHT???

Over the past few days, I’ve been at war with the She-Beast. Of course she picked some of the coldest days of the year to be out of service, and since I don’t have a usable garage, I’ve been out in the elements working on her. I was put in touch with a gentleman who was able to talk me through some diagnostic tests and we were able to narrow the issue down to either the ignition module or the coil. Long story short, I pulled them out, took them to the auto parts store, found that the module was bad, bought a new one, came home reassembled her, got a jump start (stupid dead battery) and we were up and running again. (OK, I know it sounds like it was easy – keep in mind that there was a lot of yelling, a lot of extremely foul language, a few thrown tools, and some minor bloodshed involved as well.)

While I was mechanic’n (as I like to call it), I had to keep taking breaks for a few reasons: (1.) the volume of my bladder was not adequate for the amount of coffee that was being poured down my throat to prevent my body from freezing (2.) I had to occasionally come inside just to thaw out (3.) my two youngest boys were inside the house. Alone. While I was mechanic’n. I had to make sure that the house was still standing and that they hadn’t opted to cut each other’s hair – or worse.

Here’s where the dichotomy comes in.

Here I am, a single mom with 5 kids. I generally refer to myself as a Domestic Goddess because my typical days involve cooking, cleaning, laundry, dishes, shuttling kids around, and the like – you know, the typical “housewife” duties. But at the same time, when the She-Beast breaks, I’m most generally the one tearing her apart and fixing her. If I can’t do it myself, I usually help. But here I was in sub-freezing weather, tearing apart electrical components to diagnose the issue. Yeah, someone told me how to do it, but I did it. A mom. Tearing apart an engine. See the dichotomy?

I’m very happy that I was able to fix it myself. It makes me feel proud to know that I did it. But at the same time, I’m *really* sick and tired of fixing stuff like that. I’m tired of having to get out the power tools to build better railings on my porch or to build a baby gate for the basement steps. I’m tired of having to snake my own toilet every time a mystery object disappears. I’m glad that I can do these things, but I wish I didn’t have to.

I always hear people talking about single parents and how a single parent “has to be both the mom and the dad” like those are the only two jobs that we have. Oh, how we wish those were the only two jobs – instead, we are mom, dad, referee, coach, cook, launderer, housekeeper, chauffeur, nurse, psychologist, life coach, plumber, carpenter, mechanic, social planner…and the list goes on and on. In a “normal” 2-adult household, fixing the She-Beast wouldn’t have been such an issue. One adult would go and fix it while the other one took care of everything else inside the house. Instead, I got to play mechanic for a couple of days and let everything else slide because when it comes right down to it, I’m only one person and generally I can only do one thing at a time. So now that I’m theoretically done mechanic’n (knock on wood) for a while, I have to go back to being the Domestic Goddess. I have to clean and do laundry and run kids all over creation for school and basketball and whatnot.

Maybe, just maybe, one of these days, the Magical Mini-Van Fairy will pay me a visit and bring me a nice shiny new one that doesn’t break down on a regular basis (and while I’m dreaming, the gas tank will always be full on the aforementioned nice shiny new mini-van). Maybe someday, I’ll live in a house where I don’t have to constantly fix things. And maybe I’ll meet someone who will actually help with some of these things. But since I don’t foresee any of those happening in the near future, for now I will just keep on doing what I’m doing. It will all get done eventually. I will get my daycare up and running, I will get my bills paid, I will keep the She-Beast running (mental note: schedule oil change), I will train for this half-marathon, I will finish all of my quilting projects, I will get more canning done, and I will remember to do everything else that I know that I have forgotten.

But for right now, I think I’m going to sit my butt on the couch, suck down some more caffeine, and do my nails.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Yet another day (or two) in paradise

So yesterday afternoon, after I made the Holy Crap I Think I’m Going To Walk A Half-Marathon In Less Than 4 Months decision, I had some errands to do. Being sans She-Beast meant that the errands had to be done on foot. Yay. Well, it’s a good way to get started, right?

Once again, plans didn’t work out completely as they should have. My 4 year old (who is now officially 5, as of today) normally gets off the bus from preschool at 3:30 on the dot. I figured that we would leave as soon as he got back, still giving us lots of daylight to walk in. At 3:45 I finally called his bus driver, who informed me that she “forgot” to drop him off – uh, really? How do you forget to drop a kid off? You have a list, don’t you? But she explained it away and it really wasn’t a big deal – I mean really, at least she didn’t leave him at the wrong house or something, right? So it was about 4:15 when he finally got home, poopy pants and all. *sigh* By the time I got him cleaned up and we headed out the door, it was well on its way to being 5:00. I loaded him and the 3 year old up in the double stroller and we took off for the library with some movies that were due yesterday.

The library is not terribly far away, but the icy sidewalks in some areas did make it more of a challenge. Initially we were just going to return the movies and leave, but two sets of big baby blue eyes staring up at me from the stroller made me change my mind, and we went in and they picked out some more movies.

Armed with movies in hand, we walked back to the grocery store and picked up a few things there and then dropped off a movie rental that was way overdue. By the time we left the grocery store it was dark outside and we hurried home, as it was getting colder by the minute.

We ate a quick supper and then I relaxed in front of the TV for my Tuesday night indulgences of The Biggest Loser and Parenthood – the only 2 shows on TV that I watch religiously. The boys went to bed and I did some cleaning and then read for a while and then crashed out myself.

This morning has already been a blur. I have my daycare inspection at 1:00pm (it’s now almost 11:00am already) and I’m not ready for it. I’ve been running around putting locks on cabinets and moving “toxic” chemicals out of the reach of little fingers. Paperwork is being tweaked and printed. Dishes are being done and put away. Floors are being swept. Two little walking tornadoes are destroying anything that has been done already.

And now that I’ve taken a break to type this out so far…..it’s time to get back to it again.

Wow. Ok, where was I? Oh yeah. (It’s now the next day….)

The daycare inspection went ok. Found out that I have to fence in at least a portion of my yard – NOT thrilled about that expense, not to mention that I think that it’s overkill since I would be outside with the kids anyway, but whatever. Rules are rules, even if they suck.

After some phone consultation with a mechanic about the She-Beast, we determined that it was more of an ignition problem than a fuel pump problem. He gave me some things to check and I spent most of the afternoon going back and forth between the house and the driveway ripping it apart and testing things. It finally got to be too cold and too dark and I gave up for the evening.

Then the migraine hit. Oh boy. Yeah. That was fun. Not. I sent the boys to bed at about 8:45pm, turned off all of the lights and everything that made any sound (other than the furnace) and I was in bed by 9:00pm. I didn’t get much sleep between the pain and the nausea, and when I finally did get to sleep I was awakened by the automated phone call informing me that school was closed due to the “dangerous roadways”. I tossed and turned most of the night and when the boys got back up at about 7:30am I was feeling somewhat better. My head is still pounding, but at least the nausea and the flashing lights in my peripheral vision have somewhat gone away.

We had brownies for breakfast (Yes, brownies. Get over it.) and I started chugging coffee before I headed back outside to work on the She-Beast some more. After a lot of foul language and some very minor bloodshed, I finally got the ignition module, the coil, the distributor cap, and the rotor out of it. A friend is going to come get me and the boys and take us to the auto parts store so that we don’t have to walk in the balmy 21-degree weather. Hopefully they can test the module and the coil, and look at the cap and rotor and tell me what needs to be replaced. But, I’m guessing that it won’t be that simple at this point, because after all, this is my life we’re dealing with.

I just want my wheels back. The She-Beast is ugly as sin, but she’s mine, and I need her. I didn’t get to see my older kids last night because of her, and I’m not going to keep giving up time with them just because I don’t have wheels. Hopefully I can get her running today and then we can get back to a normal schedule. This is all just so frustrating, to say the very least.

So, for now, I’m going to end this extremely long post and see what I can accomplish today. Please, let me get the She-Beast running. At this point, that’s all I ask.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How insane am I?

I had a total hip replacement in November 2008, so just over 2 years ago. Long story short, after going through a lot of pain and a lot of tests and even more painful treatments, my ortho finally agreed to just replace the blasted thing. As it turned out, it never fully developed and so it wasn’t formed right, blah blah blah. Anyway, it was one of the best things that I ever did in my life. The rehabilitation sucked, but I feel so much better now.

Since I had it replaced, I’ve been able to get out and walk more. I don’t run. Ever. My house would have to be burning down with my kids inside in order to get me to go past a fast walk. I don’t run for several reasons. The first is that I am not graceful. I am a clutz. I prefer to remain upright and to not hurtle face-first onto a sidewalk at full speed. Call me crazy, but that’s how I am. I can fall quite well from a walk, thankyouverymuch, and I can survive those with minimal pain. Another reason that I don’t run is because I’m horrendously out of shape (yes, I know, “round” is a shape) and I just don’t have the stamina. Could that excuse be fixed with a decent workout regimen? Probably. Do I have the initiative right now? Um, not so much. Another reason that I don’t run is because (sorry guys, but I’m giving you a TMI warning right now) my boobs get in the way. Yep, I’m one of THOSE women. I’d like to just lop them off and get them out of the way now that they’ve served their purpose in life, but you know, surgery is expensive, especially when it’s elective.

Anyway, why do I bring all of this up? For about the last year and a half, I’ve tossed around the idea of WALKING a half-marathon. Yep, 13.1 miles. I’ve walked a 5K with an ok time – could have been much faster had I not been pushing a stroller and stuck in between blobs of women who were there just to simply chat as they sauntered along the route. I’ve walked farther than that just running errands around town, or walking for *gasp* exercise. I think that the farthest that I’ve gone in the near recent past was about 6 miles, and that was pushing a stroller too. Then today, a friend of mine posted a link on my facebook wall for a half-marathon in Wichita on May 1. Hmmmmm…..in 103 days. Could it be done?

Of course, tossing it out here for the world to see does make me more accountable to stick with it and actually do it. And generally once I have a goal in mind with a specific date, I am more inclined to follow through. I’ve already lost 30 pounds over the past year or so, and I’d like to lose about 20 more……

Looks like I might have picked the wrong day to polish off a huge bag of peanut M&M’s. Or, maybe it’s the right day – I can officially start preparing tomorrow. Today, I can work out some menus, attempt to figure out a workout schedule, see how many kids I’m going to have that weekend so that I can decide how to handle them, figure out if I can come up with the entry fee…..since the She-Beast is still in a coma I have to walk to the library later anyway, so that would be a good mini-start to maybe get me motivated. And we can always stop at the grocery store on the way home to pick up some yummy nutritious food.

Maybe I can do this…….

Monday, January 17, 2011

Plans, Stress, and Rental Cars

Why, oh why…..why can’t I have one drama-free day? Just one? Is that too much to ask?

I found out about a week or so ago that my best friend from college was going to be in the Kansas City area for work for a few days. We have not seen each other since 2004, so there was no way that we were going to NOT get together while she was here. She had no way to get to me, so I had to get to her. The plans started formulating, with a friend offering to take me to Kansas City.

Plans. Plans suck. Plans never work. Saturday morning, as I was racing from basketball game to basketball game, the She-Beast died. Literally sputtered and died alongside the road. I was able to get a hold of a friend who lived in the area and she came and took my kids to the next basketball game while her son came out and tried to work some magic. We towed it back to their house, but couldn’t figure out much of anything so we towed it the 30+ miles home. One theory was a bad fuel filter, so I bundled up the two youngest ones and we walked the mile to the auto parts place and got a new one. I came home and put it on, but alas, it didn’t work. So it could possibly be the fuel pump, which is of course located INSIDE the gas tank – that one is beyond my abilities to fix. I need help on that.

Anyway, driving the She-Beast to KC was Plan B. Plan A never worked, as the friend who was supposed to drive me went out of town for work and still has not been heard from (*gritting teeth*). Plan B was now out of the question. I tried to find a vehicle to borrow – no luck. Finally, I started looking at rentals and found out that I could get one with unlimited mileage for $20 for the day. Sold! I had to beg a ride to Wichita to get it (thank you very much to my 4-year old’s father for that one), but I got it and then I dropped my youngest off with some friends and I hit the road.

The trip up was uneventful. Having no kids in the car was strange, but it necessitated having the radio cranked up as loud as it would possibly go the entire way. I sang along with everything and had a blast. I found some great radio stations and so I had the opportunity to belt out tunes from everyone from Bon Jovi to Depeche Mode to Tim McGraw to Metallica. I managed to get up there just shortly after she checked into the hotel, so we went and grabbed something light to eat and visited for a while before I took her on a driving tour of Kansas City at breakneck speeds. Driving around and talking just reminded me so much of our days in college when we would take so many insane spur-of-the-moment road trips together, including a 17-hour one to see the peach drop in Atlanta, GA for New Years. Word of advice – if you ever have the chance to do that, don’t. It was nothing more than a giant orange pillow with a bajillion drunk people crammed into about a one square block area underneath it. But anyway…..

After our driving tour, we went back to the hotel and grabbed her coworker and we went to what the desk clerk called a “Mex-Tex” restaurant nearby. I’m not a huge fan of Mexican food, but wow – this stuff was good! The waiter was, uh, interesting, to say the least. He just couldn’t comprehend some of the things that we were saying to him – I think he was overwhelmed by three East Coast ladies in one room or something. But we had fun eating too much, talking non-stop, and halfway watching the Patriots lose to the Jets.

I finally left around 8:00pm, 2 hours behind schedule. I filled up the gas tank and hit the road. I got back to pick up my youngest around 10:45 and we got home at around 11:15. He was still awake when I picked him up and was still awake when we got home. He put a movie in (yes, HE put the movie in) and I turned out the lights and he crawled into bed with me and we both fell asleep.

This morning has already involved getting the rental car back to Wichita (and getting a ride back with another friend) and sending out feelers to try to get someone to come and look at the She-Beast to try to figure out what is wrong with her. My mind is going a billion miles a second right now, trying to come up with plans (there’s that word again) to get it fixed, get my daycare business up and running again, get my crafts going again, get my canned stuff going again, and just get some money rolling in again.

It is time, no it is beyond time, to get my act together. This divorce and all of the drama that went along with it is now over. I let myself slide into a very deep depression – one that I’m not sure most people were really aware of. I let things go that I never should have, and I’ve put myself into a very ugly financial position. But the good thing is that now I realize it. I see it very clearly. So now it’s time to fix it. Today’s plan – and yes, I’m using the p-word because I am determined to break the p-word jinx – is to get everything around the house cleaned up and straightened up and make the house look not so…….grotesque. Once that is done, the lists will be made – lists of things that I need to do in order to reclaim my life. And these lists are not going to get thrown away or lost in the shuffle – they will be kept, they will be followed, and they will be completed.

I have a new (or old) last name. I am in a new decade of my life. I am in a fairly new home (it’s been a few months, but it’s still new-ish). It is definitely time for a new start. Going to grab those hypothetical big girl panties and put them on – as soon as the laundry is done.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Peas on the Floor

So, yesterday was my big day. I turned 40 and finalized my divorce. Two huge milestones for anyone to go through in one day. The day itself was crazy as usual, what with trying to clean and do the usual mom-stuff that I deal with every day. The confusion was added to just a bit by having my 6 year old son home from school with a low-grade fever.

Anyway, after the usual running and whatnot and after the rest of the kids got home from school, a friend came over and stayed with the kids while I went to the courthouse to take care of business. The judge was awesome, and after he and I reviewed the papers and tweaked some of the information, he granted me my divorce. I did a little happy dance in the hallway and then immediately grabbed my phone and changed my relationship status on Facebook – after all, it’s not official until it’s posted on Facebook, right? ;)

I went back home and proceeded to make dinner (chicken parmesan with a side of peas – my birthday, my choice) for me and the kids. My son still wasn’t feeling 100% so he had part of a PB&J. Baths, laundry, cleaning, etc. continued, as usual. At 9:00 I gave him another shot of acetaminophen and the sat down to relax a bit. By 10:00 his fever spiked to 103.5 degrees and by 10:15 he was hallucinating. I debated for a bit and then called a friend and her husband, and he came over and stayed with my sleeping kids while I raced across town to the ER with my little 2-footed furnace. With any of my other kids, I don’t typically panic, but this little guy likes to spike fevers and then get really really bad really really quickly. He did this 5 years ago and spent the night in ICU because of it.

I called my ex-husband (the first one, since I now have two) and he and his wife arrived at the ER shortly after I did. It took a while and a lot of cold wet cloths to get the fever to break, but it finally did around 1:00am. Blood work came back normal, the flu test was negative, and although the strep test was negative, the doctor opted to put him on antibiotics in case it was a false negative and because his throat was so red and irritated. Plus, we found out yesterday that he had been exposed to strep earlier in the week at school.

We got home around 2:00am and I got to bed at about 2:30, hoping and praying that I would wake up at 5:30. Yeah. Didn’t happen. Go figure. At 6:15 I flew out of bed and started getting kids up and around. The girls actually moved quicker than usual, and helped get the other 2 boys ready while I let Sicko sleep a bit longer. I jumped into the shower, threw on some long underwear and ran out to the kitchen to scramble up a dozen eggs with cheese. The cheesy eggs got tossed into bowls and handed out with orders to Just Eat This As Quickly As You Can Because We Are Really Late. Packed two lunches, got Sicko dressed, almost forgot to put my own clothes on over the long undies, and loaded up the She-Beast and took off for school by 7:15. I dumped the girls at school and turned around and headed back home, with a quick run to the drug store to grab more acetaminophen and ibuprofen (and picked up a movie at the same time).

When we got home from all of this and walked in the door, I paused and took a look around. Dirty clothes and towels on the floor (I admit, some of them are mine), dirty dishes on the coffee table, coats and hats and gloves everywhere, dirty dishes covering the kitchen, and yes, peas on the floor. Peas. Little green snot-like blobs all over the living room floor.

So, today’s agenda includes, but is not limited to: running the dishwasher at least once, cleaning the disaster that is the kitchen, cleaning out the fridge (that scares me), cleaning up the living room (and quite possibly downsizing the quantity of toys in the toybox), sweeping and mopping all of the floors, attempting to scrub the bathroom, running back into town to get my now-expired drivers license renewed with my correct name AND address, and hopefully running to the library so that I can post this without having to do it with thumbs alone (or maybe email it to someone and have them do some copy/paste/upload magic for me), and then dealing with supper and baths and laundry and everything else that has to be done.

But if nothing else gets done, I will at least get the peas off of the floor.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I'm mental....

But that’s no surprise to anyone who knows me. Today is a big day for me in two ways. First, it is the last day that I can claim to be in my 30’s (and not be lying). As of tomorrow, I will officially be 40. Ew. I don’t like the sound of that very much. But at the same time, 40 is just a number. Or so I’ve been told.

It’s funny though – when people try to guess how old I am, they are usually way wrong. But what’s even funnier is that about half of the people who attempt to guess my age will put me in my early 30’s, and the other half will put me in my late 40’s. Very rarely is someone even close. I’m turning 40 tomorrow, and I still have a 3 year old son. Several of my friends around my age have 3 year old grandkids. I’ve had people stop and ask me if my kids were mine or if they were grandkids – several times. I’ve already had a total hip replacement (at the ripe old age of 37). I’ve been married twice. I spend a lot of time in the sun, and it has aged my skin.

Those who guess that I am younger than I am – first of all, I love them – they usually base it on my kids. They can’t imagine that someone my age has such young children. Well, guess what? I do. I didn’t have my first one until I was almost 28, and then they came in rather rapid succession after that. When I actually do my hair and my face, I look much younger – but man, that takes effort! I’m lucky to put on matching clothes in the morning, and even luckier to get a shower. Shaving my legs is a luxury. Who has time to waste on hair and makeup when a ponytail and a baseball hat work just as well?

The second reason why today is such a big day – today is my last full day of being a married woman. My divorce will be final tomorrow. Yes, on my 40th birthday. Yes, I requested the date – I figured that it would soften the blow of that whole Turning 40 Thing.

I’m not going to trash my soon-to-be-ex-husband on here - now. Suffice it to say that he’s not worth the effort. It’s a very long, twisted, sordid tale and quite honestly, I don’t feel like going into it right now. We rushed into things that we never should have done, we didn’t know each other well enough, and there were demons – a lot of them. Some were his, but honestly, some were mine as well. Things didn’t work, and I kicked him out of our house over 20 months ago. I have not seen him (other than a brief court date this time last year) in a year and a half, and our son has not seen him in just as long. He has not spoken to his son in over a year.

I am ecstatic that this is going to be over tomorrow. But at the same time, there are still mixed emotions. Don’t get me wrong – I am NOT having second thoughts at all. Nope, no siree, no way. I want this. I want it to be done. But at the same time, I’m mourning the loss of another marriage, another dream, another fairy tale ending. I’m mourning the fact that our son will in all likelihood never know his father, and that I will someday have to explain to him that his father and I made some crappy choices that led us down this path. I’m angry at myself for the way that the situation played out and that my kids and my friends had to see me at my worst for so long.

At the same time, in some sick, twisted, perverted way that only a few will understand, I’m glad that I went through it. Without going through what I’ve gone through over the past few years, I would not be the person that I am today. I would not be as strong as I am (ok, people who know me – did you catch that? I just admitted that I’m strong!) and I would not be where I am emotionally in so many ways. I have learned that sometimes I have to focus on myself and take care of myself, otherwise I am a useless mom-shaped blob that can’t function. I have learned that it’s ok to totally screw things up, because chances are whatever it is can be fixed. I have learned that I don’t have to be perfect, and that the house doesn’t have to be spotless, and that we don’t have to live in the biggest house on the block or drive the nicest mini-van ever created to be happy. My kids and I are on the way to being happy with each other again.

I’m not saying that life is perfect – it is far from that. We are still struggling, emotionally and financially. But it’s all starting to come together and things are really beginning to look up. I have very tentatively dipped my toe back in the dating pool and I have been pleasantly surprised at what I’ve found so far. While I know for a fact that it will be a long time before I fully open my heart up to anyone again (if I ever do), I have learned that it is ok to let someone take a peek inside.

I was going to save a lot of this and try to post it tomorrow, when it’s all said and done, but I have a feeling that tomorrow is going to be hectic (go figure). And I wanted to get some things off of my chest too.

I really truly want to thank my friends and my family that have stuck by me through all of this. I know that I have put some of you through hell with the phone calls begging for advice and wisdom that in turn I ignored. I have leaned on some of you so much that I am amazed that you are still standing. I know that all of it strained some of our friendships at times. Words just can’t express everything that I’m feeling right now. You guys know who you are, and I just hope and pray that you know how much you mean to me. Some of us have drifted apart while some of us have moved closer to each other. Just know that no matter what, I love each of you – and I can never thank you enough for being with me through this journey.

I am a firm believer in paying it forward – there is no way that I can repay everyone for the support that I have been given, but if I can help anyone in even the tiniest way, it helps to show that the crap I have gone through was worth it. If even one person reads this silly blog and finds something that makes him/her smile, it’s worth it. Maybe another single parent somewhere in the world will identify with something that I’ve said and not feel so alone, and that’s a good thing too. Maybe just typing out my thoughts will help me to not be so mental all the time. Oh wait…….it’s just a blog. I can’t expect miracles!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The best laid plans.....

......usually end up in the crapper by the end of the day. Today was going to be a "calm" day, with not a whole lot to do, other than the usual cleaning and laundry that will plague me until the day I die. With the weather being what it has been, there was some question as to whether or not the youngest two were going to go to school - but although 95% of the schools in the area were closed, ours was not. I did not complain as I loaded them into the She-Beast and took them to their 2-hour preschool this morning - it meant that I had 2 hours all to myself. *gasp*

I came home for that 2 hours and proceeded to clean, load/run the dishwasher, and talk to a friend on the phone. After my 2 hours were up, I went and got the boys from preschool and decided to take them to the library since we had just over an hour to kill before the 4 year old had to be at his afternoon preschool. We went, we returned movies, we got movies, I got books, and we left. We still had some time to kill so we drove around a bit while I made some calls that I needed to make.

I dropped my 4 year old off at school and came home to do laundry. Here's where the day started to fall apart. I tried to start the washer, and it made a really funky noise. I thought the worst, as my dryer had a major seizure the other night and required major surgery and a fuse removal to bring it back to life. As I played around with the knobs on the washer, I began to have a sneaking suspicion as to what was wrong with it.

My laundry room.....is a nightmare. It has been since we moved in. The outlet that my chest freezer was plugged into turned out to be controlled by the light switch so every time I turned the light on and off, I did the same to the freezer for several weeks before I realized it and remedied that situation. The washer hookups - yeah. The water hookups are about 13' from the drain for the washer, so I have long water supply hoses running along the floor to the washer. The laundry room is not heated. It's cold outside. My water supply lines that are INSIDE the house were frozen SOLID. I guess that's better than the actual pipes freezing, but still......really?!?!? Water lines inside the house freezing? I managed to get them thawed out and reconnected everything and put everything back in place with no visible leaks. (Helpful Hint: when moving a washer around, it's best to get out from behind it before partially filling it with water to make sure that nothing leaks. Moving it to get out from behind it when it is partially full is a bit more of a challenge. Just sayin'.)

Once I had everything put back into place, I went redneck on the supply lines. I put 3" long deck screws into the wall and hung the hoses on them, complete with twine and clothesline rope to hold them in place - maybe if they're not on the cold floor, they won't freeze up quite as fast. And when I have a few extra bucks, I'll get some of that insulation stuff to wrap around them.

Two hours after this debacle started, I finally had laundry going again. Then it was time to pick up my son and a friend's daughter from school (different schools, of course) and now we are at home. The kids are watching their new stash of library movies, and I have mountains of laundry to catch up on. I suppose I should feed the kids supper at some point, and give them baths, and work on homework, and scrub the bathroom (ew), and a few other things that I really need to get done tonight.

Glad I bought that case of Red Bull the other day. Something tells me I'm going to need it.

Introducing: The She-Beast

When my almost-ex-husband and I got married, we bought a nice used mini-van. It was a 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan, and although it wasn't uber-fancy, it served its purpose. When we bought it, my credit was shot, so he put it in his name. No big deal, or so I thought.

Fast-forward a bit to when we separated in May of 2009. I kicked him out (another story in and of itself) and since he didn't have a drivers license (a DUI'll do that to ya) I kept the van. And I kept making the payments. I struggled to keep it, as the payments were higher than what I could afford. I was on a first name basis with a gentleman at Chrysler Financial who worked with me for a long time to keep it from being repossessed.

Long story short, when it came time to renew the tags on it, I couldn't - because it was IN HIS NAME. I couldn't contact him because I had a PFA against him (threatening to kill someone'll do that to ya) so there was no way I could renew the tags and keep driving it legally. I scraped together some money with help from a couple of friends and a church in Wichita and scoured Craigslist until I found......the She-Beast. Then I parked the Dodge in the driveway with the doors unlocked and the keys on the dash until Chrysler finally came and took it away. (As an aside, various lights on the dash came on the very last time I drove it. Darn.)

The She-Beast is a 1991 Chevy Astro with 321,000 miles on her. She was apparently originally dark blue, but now is more of a bare metal/rust color. I've had to do some work to keep her running, but so far she's been pretty ok to me. Adding a couple of quarts of oil per week is getting a little old, but if I can keep her limping along for a while, I'm good with that. It's still cheaper than a payment for something newer (or prettier).

The other night, as I was leaving some friends' house after a WON-DER-FUL evening of hot tubbing and girl talk, I noticed that I had a headlight out. Colorful language escaped my mouth, as I really don't want to be running around rural areas of Kansas with limited visibility, since the wildlife around here seems to have been inbred with some sort of kamikaze instinct. So off to O'Reillys I went today - another group of people with whom I've become too familiar. Ten bucks for a headlight, and I was on my way home through the ice and slush and snow that just made me all the more chipper (not). I debated whether or not to change the headlight and thought about putting it off, but with even more brutal weather on the horizon I figured I'd be better off just doing it.

I got home and determined that according to the directions, I should only need a Phillips head screwdriver. Bonus! I chased the youngest two inside and started on my mission with snow falling around me. After struggling with it a bit (not wearing gloves'll do that to ya) I realized that I needed some other funky tool to get the housing off from around the headlight - some torx something-or-other (would have known that ahead of time had I read ALL of the instructions). Since I managed to maintain custody of all of the tools, I was actually able to find it and tear the thing apart. I replaced the headlight, put it all back together again, and even aligned the headlights better than they've been since I bought the thing.

Now, if I could only get the oil leak fixed as easily.....*sigh*

It's funny to me though....people tell me all the time that they're so impressed with the things that I do by myself. The thing is, I don't think it's anything that impressive.I grew up with a father who fixed EVERYTHING, and I watched. I don't see the point in paying someone to fix something if I can do it on my own. Granted,there are things that I can't do by myself, either because I just don't know how or I don't have the tools, but there are so many simple things that I have done. To me, it's not to amaze people or to show off a skill - to me it is simply survival. I've been in survival mode for so long now that I'm not sure what I would do otherwise. If there's one thing that I've learned over the past few years, it's that I'm a lot stronger than I ever thought I was. I think that a lot of people are too - but they have to discover it for themselves. No one taught me how to fend for myself - it was a by-product of putting myself into a lot of crappy situations. I know that I'm not totally out of the crap yet - but I'm getting there. One day at a time, one battle at a time. Sooner or later, the crap will all be behind me - then the trick will be to not trip and fall back into it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A blog? Really??

So....Where to start? I was messing around on facebook (admittedly one of my worst habits) and being a goofball as usual, I posted a picture of my old ugly boots that I had busted out due to the lovely Kansas weather. I captioned the picture something like "Oh, old ugly boots, how I have missed you". One of my friends piped up and told me that I should start a blog....some discussion ensued, another friend helped set it up, and here I am.

I am just an ordinary person. I'm a single mom who is about to turn 40 and finalize her divorce in just days. I have 5 mostly wonderful kids who keep me busier than most. I stay at home, errrrr, I don't have employment outside of the home but I'm rarely home. I used to have an in-home daycare, but because we had to move I had to close it and reapply and basically start over. That process has started, but it takes time to get everything going again.

My kids range in age from 3 1/2 to 11. The youngest three are boys and the older two are girls. My oldest three came from my first marriage. Then I went through what I like to call my Post-Divorce Rebellious Phase, and surprise! I got #4. I remarried and had the fifth one. So yes, I have 5 kids with 3 different fathers - which adds to the confusion that is my life.

My life hasn't been easy - I've made some craptastic choices and I've been paying the prices in multitudes of ways. But, I try to approach life with a semi-decent attitude, and if I can't do that, a good dose of sarcasm usually helps. I am fiercely independent and hate hate HATE to ask anyone for help with anything, so I usually end up with interesting stories of my escapades - which people seem to think will make some interesting reading for the masses. So, I'll give it a shot and see what happens.

DISCLAIMER: I am doing this via phone - please forgive me now for typos and auto-correct fails.