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Monday, December 31, 2012

My New Years Resolutions - to my kids

I've been thinking about what I wanted to write here all day long. I could do the typical list of resolutions, or awesome things that happened during the year, or whatever. But I wanted to do something different. And so here it is - my list of resolutions for the new year.....for my kids.

Dear Kids:

First off, I want to start by saying that I love each and every one of you so much that it hurts. There are times that I wish that our life had turned out differently so that we could all be together every day, but that's just not the way that our life happened. With the exception of Daniel, you're not always here. We don't always get to spend the holidays together and I don't always get to go to every single school function, but no matter what I want you to know that I love you.

I know that I don't always show it. I get tired and frustrated and angry with the way that things happen sometimes, and I know that I take it out on you - no matter how much I try not to do that. But I think that right now, we are at a turning point. Things are going so much better now than they have in the past, and I want to take this opportunity to make a positive change in all of our lives.

So for the next year - and beyond - these are my resolutions to you, my kids:

~ I promise to listen to you when you need to talk - whether it's the girls talking about a boy at school, or the boys talking about how someone didn't share a toy - I will listen.

~ I promise that I will always try to make it to all of your school functions, even if it's not convenient. There will be times that I just can't do it because I can't be in two places at once - but I will do whatever I can to always be there to support you.

~ I promise that I will do everything in my power to make sure that you don't miss out on any opportunities that come your way - whether it's academics, or sports, or a special outing with a friend - if I can make it happen, I will.

~ I promise that no matter what, I will put your needs above mine. 

~ I promise that I will be fair when it comes to discipline when there are issues.

~ Most of all, I promise you that I will always love, support, and encourage you in whatever it is that you want to do with your lives. Each of you has so much potential to do so much with your life - and I will do everything that I can to make sure that you reach your fullest potential, as long as YOU put in the effort as well.

I know our life hasn't always been easy, and I know that I've made mistakes in the past. I know that we will all make more mistakes, but we are a family, and we will always have each other - no matter what.

I want this coming year to be the best year that we've had yet - and I know that we can make that happen if we all work together.

I love you.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sorting out the pieces

Remember the puzzle that I was talking about last night? Well, my brain still feels like that, but maybe not quite so much. I've been jotting down some ideas here and there, but it seems like any time I come up with a plan for one thing, something else occurs to me.

But the good news is that in general, I'm starting to get some things sorted out in my head. I'm starting to form game plans and figure out how to make things actually happen.

At the same time, when I get stressed or overwhelmed or have too much on my mind, one of the things that I do to deal with it in the moment is to clean. I think it's my subconscious way of maintaining control - if I can't control the crap that's rattling around in my head, at least I can control the crap that's been tossed around in the house, right?

So I tackled the boys' room today.

I don't know what in the world happened in there over the past few days, because I swear it wasn't that bad before - but whatever happened, it's been cleaned up now. And it's not quite as scary as it was to walk in there. I even have most of their laundry done too.

Of course, once I start cleaning, it's never a simple process. I ended up having to basically gut my vacuum to get it to work right, and it still ended up clogged and limping by the time I got that room done. But, it's done for now. And at some point in the (hopefully) near future, the vacuum will be laid to rest and replaced with one that has a better attitude.

By the end of the day I had the boys' room, the bathroom, and the kitchen clean, and had most of the laundry done too. So I really can't complain too much about that. Apparently I need to get stressed and overwhelmed more often, since that's when it seems that I get my best cleaning done.

Then I was cruising around online, looking up some information for another something that I want to get accomplished, and I stumbled upon something that definitely appears to be too good to be true. So, I shot a couple of messages out to some friends who can help me to get more information on that one, and hopefully...... *fingers crossed* ...... this one aspect might work out a little sooner than I had even dreamed. But, I'm not saying anything specific about it yet because I don't want to jinx it.

Yeah, maybe I'm a tad superstitious at times. At this point, I'll take superstition, prayer, hope, luck, pixie dust, karma, and whatever else I can possibly use to make things work out in the best possible way.

Friday, December 28, 2012

It's a puzzle

This is what my brain feels like tonight.

I'm not sure what's going on with it. Maybe it's the fact that Christmas is over. Maybe it's the impending New Year. Maybe it's the full moon. Maybe it's a combination of a whole bunch of different things that are jumbled up in there.

All I know is that right now, my mind is going in eleventy bajillion different directions, and I can't seem to get it to slow down. I have so many things that I want to do in so many areas of my life, and I'm just feeling a little overwhelmed right now because all of those ideas are running around in a great big unorganized mess in my head.

Yes, I know I go through this every now and then. I think everyone does, whether they want to admit it or not.

It used to be that when I would get into these moods, I would either ignore them and drive myself nuttier than I already am, or I would just jump right into whatever crazy plan was rolling around in my head at that moment. Or worse yet, I would start all 87 plans that were in my head at the same time, and never finish any of them.

I'm going to do something different this time. I'm just going to let my brain go. I'm going to see what kind of crazy ideas develop. And I'm going to keep a notebook and a pen beside me and I'm going to write things down. And I'm going to figure out what it is that has me so restless right now. Maybe, just maybe, if I write everything down as it comes to me, I'll be able to get my thoughts organized. I'll be able to figure out what it is that I want to do vs. what I need to do. I can prioritize. And maybe I can actually feel like I can accomplish something instead of starting it and never getting it done.

I feel like so much is finally starting to fall into place in my life - I am so lucky and so blessed (that is a word that I don't toss around lightly, either) - maybe this is really the time for me to start focusing on some of the things that I want to do with my life. Maybe this is the time to start looking into how to turn my craft hobby into a legitimate business (one of the biggest things bouncing around in my head right now). Maybe this is the time to start looking for a part-time job to help supplement our income. Maybe this is the time to really start looking for a bigger house for us to move into in the next few months.

I'm not usually the type of person to do "resolutions" every year, but I'm starting to think that maybe this could be our year. I can finally say that I'm looking forward to the future instead of dreading it.

I'm ready to get the new year started.

I guess it's over.

Christmas, that is.
Usually I leave my tree up longer than this, but to be quite honest - it was annoying me. The boys all got remote control cars for Christmas *shoots dirty look toward The Dude* and they have been running them all. day. long. And of course, there's nothing more fun and exciting than to run them into the tree.

The dead tree, no less.

That has a lot of breakable ornaments on it.

And it's dead.

Needless to say, every time anything bumped into the tree, needles started falling everywhere. So it was time. I was going to wait until the kids went to bed to take it down, but once I get an idea in my head I tend to rush right into it (not always a good thing) and so I got to work. It took a few hours, as usual - mainly because I am extremely anal about how the ornaments get put away. But still, I got it done.

And then of course I had the joy of dragging it outside and tossing it to the curb. Literally. It's now sitting out there, waiting to be picked up and turned into mulch by the city. At least I don't have to deal with actually getting rid of it by myself.

Once I got the tree out of the house, I started cleaning up the living room and re-rearranging it to get the furniture back where it belonged. That was another reason why I really just wanted to get the tree out of here - with the "holiday arrangement" of the furniture, we had no choice but to sit on the loveseat to watch movies - and I *hate* the loveseat. OK, maybe not hate - but it's really not comfortable for both me and The Dude to sit on at the same time, because I usually end up stretched out with my feet in his lap while we watch movies. And the loveseat just didn't work for that. So now, we can watch movies comfortably again. It's the little things in life.

So I still have a few more things to put away in the living room, but for the most part it's clean. Or it's clean enough. I do want to mop the floor, but that'll wait until tomorrow. Or maybe the next day. We'll see.

We won't even talk about what the kitchen looks like right now, thankyouverymuch. I'll deal with that tomorrow, without a doubt. I'm not even sure how I'm going to get in there to make breakfast yet - so I might end up cleaning up in there yet tonight. 

In other news, this is never a good sight. 

I knew that The Dude had left for work, because he had sent me a message on facebook telling me he was leaving. And then about 15 minutes later, his boss called here looking for him. He's been having issues with his truck, so I loaded up the kids and took off. We found him about a block from his house, where the truck had died (again). However, we think we figured out what's wrong with it, we were able to get it started and get it back to his house, and I got him to work (although he was late). So tomorrow we work on fixing that - but it looks like it's going to be a really cheap and easy fix *crosses fingers*. The last thing we need right now is more unexpected expenses, since he's now dealing with a broken tooth and is most likely going to be making a trip to the oral surgeon, just like I did. Hopefully his visit goes smoother than mine did though.

Speaking of which, I need to balance the checkbooks and consult with the notebook to make sure that I'm still on track. I am bound and determined to stick with my plan.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

He calls dibs.

Today was our official family Christmas. Because of crappy timing, I had to do a whole bunch of shopping at 5am when WalHell opened - so I got about an hour of sleep before I took off to get what I needed to get for the kids.

I found it amusing downright horrifying that this was one of the first toys that I saw. I may have turned and run away from it just as soon as I snapped the picture. What kind of sick, twisted person came up with this idea???

Anyway, some pictures from the rest of the day....

The tree - complete with insanely crooked star -
at about 7am after my round of shopping.

We got the stockings and the kids' new ornaments hung last night.

After The Dude went shopping and brought home some more stuff.
He is too good to us.

Starting with the stockings....

Finally! The gifts!

The carnage. Some of it, anyway.

Human Tetris-Head.
After we got done opening gifts, it was late in the afternoon and thanks to more glorious timing we hadn't eaten lunch yet. Kids and adults both were cranky and there was a great deal of drama, whining, screaming, crying, and pouting. We finally decided to head out to a local Chinese restaurant (you can tell I was tired if I agreed to go there) and we managed to have a good meal with minimal drama.

After we ate, we came back home and then followed The Dude home in his truck to make sure that he got there in one piece, and then I took the kids (all 5 of them) and went back to WalHell to get them some clothes.

I swear, I avoid that place for months at a time and then end up there twice in one day....ugh. But, I told the kids that I wasn't buying them clothes this year - instead, we would go shop after Christmas and they could pick out their own stuff. So much easier than dealing with returns because I don't buy the "right" stuff.....

Then the kids and I came back home so that we could relax before bedtime. After the past 4-5 nights of not getting to bed until 2-4am, I am wiped out. I seriously think that I might crash as soon as I post this.

Oh, but I bet you want to see what The Dude got me, don't you?

After the kids were pretty much done unwrapping stuff he pointed out that there was something in my stocking. I got it down and pulled out a little box.

Surprised and more than a little scared, I opened it. Inside was a ring with matching earrings and a necklace.

I admit it - I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized that it wasn't an engagement ring. No matter how much I love this guy, I am still not ready for that step - and he knows it. And he's good with it. And that just makes him even more amazing, but we already knew that. He had gotten me a really pretty jewelry box too, and so he said that this was a start to filling it, because I don't have much jewelry. (Honestly, I sold most of it to pay bills throughout both divorces.)

In our typical fashion, we started joking with each other about how people are going to automatically assume that it was an engagement ring and that he had popped the question.

1. There has been no wedding proposal from either one of us to either one of us.
2. This is not an engagement ring.
3. We are not engaged.
4. At this point, we have no specific plans to make 1-3 happen.

I asked him at one point how we should refer to this particular ring, since it is not an engagement ring. Without missing a beat, he laughed and said "it's the I Call Dibs ring. No one else gets to have you except for me."

Who can argue with that logic? The man is definitely a keeper.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas, Part I. And stuff.

The older 4 kids have been gone for a couple of days, so it was just me and Daniel for calendar-Christmas. He and I went to church last night...but not before he fell asleep on the floor after his bath. I got him back up and took him to church, where he proceeded to sleep through about 95% of the service.

I made special arrangements with Santa this year. He stopped by last night and dropped off just a couple of small presents for Daniel to open this morning, and then he's coming back tonight to bring EVERYTHING and to fill the stockings so that when all of the kids come home tomorrow, we can have our family Christmas.

Then Daniel and I went out to a friend's house and hung out with her for the afternoon. It was just a totally relaxed, laid-back day......but it's cold outside!

Along with being incredibly cold outside, it's almost as cold in my laundry room. From what I can tell, it used to be a porch and someone just slapped some drywall on the inside and some siding on the outside and called it a laundry room - but neglected to put insulation in the walls. It gets bitter cold in there in the wintertime, to the point that it is almost unbearable to walk across the floor without shoes on - which for me is horrible, since I hate to wear shoes.

Out of curiosity tonight, I grabbed the only thermometer that I have and I put it on the floor in there for a few minutes.

Yeah. It's that cold in there.
Next project? Adding to the bottom of the curtain across the laundry room doorway to keep that cold air from pouring across the kitchen floor. That might even be done tonight. Like, in the next hour.

At the moment, however, I'm waiting for The Dude to come back over. He got here a bit ago - on foot - because his truck died a few blocks away from my house. So he took my van to go back and try to figure out what's going on with it and to see if he can at least get it parked somewhere safe if he can't move it. Then we are getting up early early early in the morning to finish shopping for the kids before they get back home.

Sleep is definitely overrated at this point.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Notebook

No, I'm not talking about the movie. Although, it is one of my favorites.

I'm talking about an actual notebook, an old one with a broken spiral and a stained cover that is sitting in front of me right now. It's one that's been around the house for a few years but has never really served a specific purpose. Honestly, I'm surprised that the kids haven't made off with it and used all of the paper in it by now.

However, it now has a purpose. I've been sitting here for the last hour or so, carefully crunching numbers. Maybe it's the impending new year with all of its potential, maybe it's frustration with where I'm at financially at the moment, maybe it's just the weird mood that I've been in for the past few days coupled with a few realizations of what I want to do with my life in the next year or so....

Maybe it's a combination of all of that. But regardless of what "it" is, I'm formulating plans. On paper, even. I'm figuring and re-figuring my budget. I'm figuring out a way to actually get some money into savings - starting this month - so that I can make some changes happen when I want them to happen without being totally stressed about money all of the time.

Living on a fixed income is not easy. It is nice to know exactly how much money is coming in and when, and it's easy to live day-to-day on that. But when emergencies like a busted transmission or an abscessed tooth happen, it's hard to come up with the extra to take care of those things. Now that I've been able to pay off some bills, it will be a little easier to build in a cushion each month to make those unexpected expenses easier to handle. And having that little extra cushion will also help us to be able to make some other things happen - including combining two households into one within the next 6 months or so.

Willpower has never been one of my strengths. In fact, I've always been horrible about it. Hopefully,  putting it all on paper (not to mention putting it "out there" for everyone to see) will give me the motivation to be able to stick with it and actually make progress.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Pre-holiday festivities and other stuff

It's been a crazy couple of days.

I managed to get all of my orders done today - finally. And even got them delivered too, which is a bonus.

Corn bag to put in the microwave or freezer to use for pain relief -
with a removable cover.

Stockings, stockings, everywhere!
After the snow that we got the other day, we ended up with our usual icicle in its usual place outside the kitchen window. The boys were absolutely mesmerized by it.

This is what's left of our snow.

Ring around the moon.....
Gingerbread houses.....or, as Daniel likes to call them for some strange reason, "gingerhead houses". That kid.....

We started them last night. Or rather, I started the baking process last night. But we didn't assemble and decorate until tonight. We always have fun doing this, but holy wow what a mess - and then they never get eaten because none of us really like gingerbread all that much. Go figure.

Fighting with the mold, as I do every. single. year.

Not pretty, but they work. Sort of.

Cheap boxes of macaroni and cheese.
Easy, inexpensive meal or reinforcement for home building?
You decide.

Starting the mess.

The expressions.....

Ay yi yi......and yeah, the floor looks about the same.

Finished products. Girls' on the left, boys' on the right.
And these last two pictures - these are for everyone who tells me how they love how I'm able to keep it together and get everything done. These pictures are totally my reality right now. This is my "room" and the aftermath of the sewing projects - my bed gets used as table space while I'm working on stuff, and then when I go to bed everything just gets chucked on the floor. 

So yeah. This will be my main focus for the next hour or so. I can't take it anymore. 

Why is there a cookbook on my bedroom floor???

Ugh. Just......ugh.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The first snow

So we got about an inch of snow overnight, coupled with a lot of wind. The drive to get the older 3 kids to school this morning was a bit of a challenge, but it wasn't horrible. What could normally be done in maybe 40 minutes took closer to an hour, but I took my time and didn't rush it.

Drifts created by 1" of snow and a lot of wind.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, er, house....

My pathetic flowerbed. Maybe I can call it modern art
or something.

Dead mums.

He wanted to go outside to play in the worst way.


Then we took off to deliver the popcorn that Alex sold for Scouts....

Within the city limits, by the way....

....and her friend.

It wouldn't be a normal day without getting stuck by one of these.

Heading back from a friend's house "out in the country".

So that was our first snowpocalypse of the season. I'm sure that there will be many more with the way that the local media hypes up every single snowflake that may or may not fall. This one was actually a little worse than I expected, but it still wasn't much as far as I was concerned. It's going to be back up closer to 50 degrees tomorrow, so it's all going to be gone anyway....but I did hear a rumor that we might get some more snow on Christmas Day.  I'll believe it when I see it though.