Thursday, June 21, 2012

Want vs need

When you become a parent there are always demands for something; kids want toys, time, to watch TV, play video games, you name it.  At opne point a counselor told us that I needed to help my kids distinguish between wanting something and needing it.  Like, shoes.  Sometimes you need new shoes because you have worn out the only pair you own by using them to stop your bike. Or your feet have grown.  And sometimes needing new shoes is really wanting the latest air jordans (this was a long time ago) when you already own a poair of shoes for every possible event you might have happening in your life.  As a mom who would put her kids needs/wants first, I went from having one pair of black pumps, one pair of cheap flip flops, and one pair of ratty old sneakers when I was a stay at home mom, to a closet full of shoes for every occasion, and then some, after I started working full time.  And even then it took me years to accumulate that many.

There used to be a joke (well I really wasn't joking at the time) around my house that went something like this:

Kid: "Moooooom!  I need a new pair of shoes"
Me (after stumbling over several pairs of shoes of all kinds): "No, you WANT a pair of shoes.  Maybe you should get a job in a shoe store"

Later another son would come along and say, "Moooooom!  My phone broke/I dropped my phone in the toilet/I lost my phone!" (pick one, we have had all scenarieos play out around here many times)
Me: "Maybe you should get a job at the phone store!"

One day, I don't remember what happened but one of the kids mentioned they needed something like a new Mom, and he said, "I KNOW!!! Maybe you should get a job at the MOM store!!!!"

Now you get it kids.

Not very long ago, I was complaining about my stupid cell phone that was irritating the life out of me.  Again.  My oldest son said, without batting an eyelash, "Maybe you should get a job at the phone store".  Each son took his turn reminding me of those words over the course of a couple of months whenever I would complain about something (mostly my stupid cell phone).

Apparently they learned a valuable lesson from me.

Fast forward to now, when I just tried getting a job at the phone store. I want an iPhone.  I definitely don't NEED one, but I WANT one. So I applied at ATT.  But like all the other applications, it will probably float around in cyberspace sitting on a cloud somewhere, stuck in orbit, hoping someone will notice by accident that I am still looking for a job.  Not that I WANT a job.  I NEED one.

I remember when I was much younger, when you applied for jobs you had to walk in and hand someone a resume or fill out a job application in person.  Then you followed up later if you did not hear back.  Now you have to fill out the application and post your resume and cover letter online.  I do this several times a week.  My goal is to apply for 20 jobs a week and I do that.  My problem is, sometimes you know where the main office is and you can follow up.  Most of the time they stipulate, "no phone calls, no personal visits".  In other words, don't call us, we'll call you.

Yesterday I decided to try a different approach.  I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner.  I am not even sure it makes a difference but just in case, I went to the company website and ALSO applied with a personal email to the HR director or whoever the contact person was.

And I will follow up with a phone call anyway. And in July (after my week with Avery) I will start hand delivering a resume packet as well.  Just in case.

I don't WANT to, I NEED to.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


The air conditioner is fixed.  There's nothing more to say about that.

I went outside this morning and the birds were chirping, the air was a bit cooler, a gentle breeze was blowing.  I came in the house and posted on facebook that it was a beautiful morning.

Then my son called.  He lost his job.  There's nothing more to say about that.

I decided to water flowers and pray that they bloom in time for Avery to pick them next week.  I have roses on my rose bushes for the first time in a few years.  Or maybe they bloomed but I was too busy to notice.  I guess that is how the saying "Stop to smell the roses" got started. 

While watering the flowers I noticed that my beans are really growing well and actually trailing up the post like they are supposed to! My hose is still intact.  My garden is weeded.  And I have walked on my treadmill.

In spite of the bad news delivered by my son, and that I still have not found a job, I feel relatively calm.  I guess because I take the time now to remind myself that the good things in my life out weigh the bad.

There's nothing more to say about that.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


As I mentioned yesterday, the weather is a bit hot and humid here in the Midwest.  Last night was a bad sleeping night between the allergies and the heat. 

Did I mention our air is not working?

Finally my husband said, "I think we should turn the air back on anyway, working a little is better than nothing at all"  Apparently he couldn't sleep either.

It is a beautiful morning now.  It was like this yesterday too.  A breeze, sunny, not too hot.  Later will be miserable again as it is supposed to be 96.

I had an interview last night.  In the interview he explained that his mom had just lost her job after 26 years with the same company.  I am hearing that same message everywhere I go now.  Yet on the news yesterday, the report said that older workers were finding jobs at alarming new rates.  Where?  And what kind of jobs?

Yes, I could probably go to my local McDonald's and get a job, but I have student loans to pay!  I have an education to use!  I want a position where I can apply what I've learned both in college and at my last employments.

I'm not ready to be the Walmart greeter yet.

During the interview, he mentioned the positives of not having full time employment in my life right now ~ like having my Saturdays with Avery, and having a little bit of flexibility if needed.  That certainly speaks to me right now.  I would love working there.  He is a very nice guy and his small, but growing, physical therapy business would be a great atmosphere to work in, and I would be part of an awesome team of professionals. But the money would never be enough to pay my bills, student loans, and put away for retirement.  The reality is, I need full time work for the next 20 years.

So the job hunt continues.  IN the meantime, it is time to market my grant-writing skills.  I figured, if I found one really good client, maybe two or three, I could do that AND the part time job AND have my weekends.  I can live with that.

Monday, June 18, 2012

HOT! In the Midwest

Earlier I was working in my home office and found sweat running down my arms.  My ARMS!  From just sitting here!  It is 95 degrees today and while there is a breeze, it is a warm breeze.  I have Avery coming next week though so I am trying very hard to get my house very clean so I don't have to worry as much about it next week. 

Did I mention our air conditioner is not working? 

I decided to get some vacuuming done and went to the fridge to get it.  It was cool in there but I realized that is not where I keep my vacuum. Yes, the heat has fried my brain. It's not so bad if I am laying directly in front of a fan in a room with a great cross breeze and minimal clothing. But if I want to get anything done in this house right now - I am prepared to sweat.

Thank goodness sweating releases toxins. I can kill two birds with one stone! I am also reacting to something, so I not only have sweat dripping off of my arms when I sit in my house but I am coughing, blowing my nose, and wheezing. I thought I would take some paperwork out on the porch but the wind is kicking up some dust and that just makes me sneeze so I came back in the house.

And started to sweat again.  It is HOT here in the Midwest.

Job hunting is going well and I have an interview this afternoon and one phone interview scheduled for Thursday morning.  I was getting very discouraged last week because I gave myself a deadline of August 15 to have full time employment - with pay.  Preferably very good pay. And hopefully benefits.

I have enjoyed having time to reacquaint myself with my house and de-clutter, paint, and clean.  I am still not done.  I sometimes look around and ask myself, "Just how dirty was this house? And what DID the cleaning lady do?"  I have given away so much, but the more I give away the more I find to give away!


If I am not working yet, I plan to spend July finishing my basement. It is cooler down there, but also dustier. I must finish one major project however before I go back to work and I decided the basement has to be the one.
Sad looking Christmas Corner
I will start with my Christmas Corner. Then, I can have one more "somewhat of a garage sale" to sell everything else I find worth selling, box up what I know is still usable but not worth selling to give away, and toss the rest.  Then I will paint the shelves, wash the windows, have our vents cleaned, change the filters on the furnace, and vacuum and scrub the floor really well. Then, at least I can work knowing one area of my house is basically done. 

In the meantime though I have to finish dusting and vacuuming upstairs in the sauna.

I just might lose 10 pounds this week!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday thoughts

I just finished my first week of working full time again.  I think I failed the balance it all test.  We had fast food 4 of the 5 nights.  That is NOT good, so I am cooking now for next week so I can keep most of what I earn from this temp job.

The job is for two weeks and it is a voluntary position really.  I am reviewing grants for the Department of Labor.  They pay a small honorarium when it is over but every little bit of money coming in right now helps.

I am enjoying my early forced retirement unemployment sabbatical a lot but I do want to be able to finish paying my bills at the end of the month and not just pay the minimum on my credit cards. Plus, I miss buying Avery things.  I found a link on the Department of Labor website that I am finding interesting.  I will put a link to it on my favorite pages.

I am finding the job market to be overwhelming.  I had decided to write grants but people cannot pay for a grantwriter until they find some money for that.  I want to pursue another direction, one that is not so intense, but provides meaningful work. I need to know I am making a difference.  I am exploring job opportunities in the "green field".  I will keep you posted.

Until then, I will continue to find joy and gratitude in my day through interactions with my family and improving our home after years of letting things slide. It is fun trying to find ways to do things for free, now that I have the time to look.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The garden

Working again ~ even though it is just for two weeks ~ is really getting in the way of my gardening.  I went out yesterday to find my pole beans and peas were actually growing up the poles!  I also found the plants to be about 2 inches taller than last seen, and many, many, many more weeks too. 

So I decided I better get the hoe out again.  I moved the hose out of my way and remembered I needed to repair the two little holes I had found the last time I watered.  So I fixed them. I went and turned on the water and heard it spouting all over and thought the tape had not worked.  What I didn't know however, was that someone/thing/critter ate a hole in my hose!  It left teeth marks and everything!

I love critters in my back yard but we need to figure out how to co-exist without one of them eating a hose and the others eating my strawberries.  Yes, three strawberry plants are gone too.  Not dead from lack of water and heat - completely GONE!  And I planted marigolds all around them so the bunnies wouldn't dare tread on sacred strawberry ground.

I have heavy duty chimes out back too, hoping the deter some of the animals and birds.  We think whatever animal it was, it was thirsty.

 I decided to leave water out for them, hoping that whatever creature is thirsty will leave my hose alone.

Monday, June 11, 2012


I feel like I haven't posted in forever so I am sending some updates.

First, I spent two days with Avery last week ~ bonus! She is so much fun right now ~ she has such a cute sense of humor!  She creeped up behind me while I was making a peanut butter/jelly sandwich for her and when I would look around she would move father out of my sight, finally I turned around real quick and she started giggling with the cutest grin!  I guess you had to be there to truly appreciate the moment ~

She is also trying to sing more songs.  While watching the gummy bears video she tried singing ~ just as quickly as the song but the only part she really knew was the repeated words of "Gummy, Gummy, Gummy, Gummy, Gummy bears" Unfortunately, even though she pronounces the hard "G" sound very well when she says Gaga, Grammy, grapes, and gungry (hungry) ~ for Gummy bears it sounds like "Dummy".  Her parents were not as impressed with her new song as I was.  Now I can't get the song out of my head.

Today I have a job!  It will only last 2 weeks and the pay is an honoraium only but it is work! I was so excited I couldn't sleep last night.  The next three weeks are going to be busy, busy again because right after the job ends, Avery comes for her weeklong summer camp at "GramaGaga's Summer Camp for almost 3 year old little girls". That will be fun!

I am continuing with my 5K training but working on strengthening my thigh muscles too so I can walk faster.  I am also adding the treadmill into the routine on those days when it is too hot to walk outside or raining.  I added the treadmill because my sons gave one to us.  Very cool!  I am so blessed.

Finally, I have an INTERVIEW!  And the potential employer knows that I am old! It would be for a part time position so let's keep our fingers crossed that the month of June begins my slow re-entry into the job force again.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New Grandbabies ~ Part 1

Last night a friend of ours posted on facebook that her daughter and son-in-law were withholding the sex of her new grandchild who will be born in the fall. It was killing her knowing that they knew and was playfully keeping it from her. I know that feeling of wonder as I went through that with my own son when he announced that they were having a baby.  It feels like it was just yesterday.

Another friend of ours had said one time that you will know someday when you yearn to be a grandmother. While I boasted about my grandDOGS from time to time, I really was in no hurry to become a grandma.  I had only recently gone to college to get my degree and felt I had to work and tend to my career.  I would hear people talking about their grandchildren and think ~ I hope I am not as obnoxious and limited in my focus as they are! HA!

Don't get me wrong ~ I always knew that one day I would have grandchildren and started setting aside things for them in special boxes marked "For my new grandson/granddaughter someday"  One sign, probably made on an exasperating "parenting day" said, "For the grandchildren ~ born a LONG TIME FROM NOW!!!!!!!!" (Yes, there were a lot of exclamation points). I just always assumed it would be my youngest who would make that announcement first, and he was in no position to be thinking about the responsibilities of parenthood.  I thought he would be first because Zack is a lover ~ he falls in love quick and hard.  He has since he was in preschool.  Every new school year he would come home and announce who he was going to marry from that class. So it just made sense that he would be the first to give us a grandchild.

Nathan on the other hand, is a procrastinator ~ and sometimes forgets what he is focusing on and the decisions that need to be made. This is in direct contrast to my oldest son Nik, who is an impulsive decision maker, often acting on the decision only to figure out later that maybe that wasn't such a smart idea after all. I used to tease Nate about being on the 5 year plan.  He would take five years to come to terms with a decision he had to make.  For this reason we started preparing for him to go away to college in junior high.

When Nate, always the joker, announced that they were going to be parents I thought he was kidding, and I was busy getting ready to fly to DC the next morning so I wasn't in the mood for jokes. But after a few minutes I got the impression that he wasn't joking about this.  I thought ~ how can this be?  You have only been with Jessy for about 3 years?  You have at least 2 more years!

When I finally figured out that he was very serious, I ran to the basement and started digging through the boxes to search for the one marked "When Nate becomes a daddy".  In it was a ceramic figurine, a pair of penguins, lovingly looking down at their child. I was ecstatic to say the least. Knowing that your family is going to be blessed with a new life is amazing.  Knowing that the child you gave birth to, and struggled to raise right for so many years, is going to give you a grandchild is overwhelmingly awesome.

I knew immediately that it was going to be a long 7 months.  While my generation didn't always know the sex of the child before the birth, or share the knowledge if we did know, this generation does. I was not sure I would want to know.  Isn't that part of the surprise? And then we were told.  And I was "tickled pink". 

A girl.  After 3 sons, we were going to have a girl in our family. The anticipation of her birth was only kept under control (slightly) by the fact that I worked for a busy non-profit that was in its infancy.  I was busy beyond belief so thankfully I was distracted however, I did start noticing all the children's shops. I bought little girl clothes and barrettes and made a special hat for her to wear home from the hospital ~ made from an old heirloom hankie that belonged to my Grandmother ~ that she might carry with her as something old when she gets married someday.

Yes, I know what Sue is going through.  When her kids finally posted a video on facebook, of ultrasound photos, with a special message to their family announcing the sex of their child, (a girl) she cried and expressed her overwhelming feelings of love for this unborn child and thinking of her Mom who passed away years ago, knowing she can't share this moment with her.  I still get goosebumps thinking about it.

Grandchildren as special, that is for sure.  They are a remarkably extraordinary gift from God to be treasured and loved and nurtured.  Even before they are born.

Nathan and his amazing little girl

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What I've noticed so far

Yesterday, while walking and doing my 5K training, I noticed that the songs I had loaded on my iPod at the beginning of my 5K training were now too slow.  Really?  When I started, I could barely walk to the beat of Queen's "Under Pressure" and now I find myself thinking it is too slow? The songs I loaded just because I wanted to give myself a spurt of quick minutes are now the songs I walk to most of the time!  Isn't that cool? I guess I need to find more songs like that, but not until I can manage to walk to the quicker beat for more than just 5 minutes at a time. I will do that next week.

I also noticed that walking the distances that used to feel so far, are now too short.  Last night my husband and I wanted to take a "leisurely stroll" around the neighborhood because he wanted to work out the kinks from his 5K on Sunday, and I had already walked earlier in the day. The route we used to walk for our longer jaunts seemed so short!  Let me add too that our leisurely stroll turned into a mini training session because neither one of us could walk slowly, especially when I had taken all of my slow music off the iPod and I was in the lead.  What can I say?  I need to walk to the beat of the music!

I am continuously amazed at the things that went un-noticed by me for so many years. For example, just watching squirrels and birds in my back yard has been both therapeutic and fun, as long as they are not digging up my plants or frolicking in my attic. I probably have more pictures of squirrels in my files than I do of my family at this point. I am finding that we have many different birds around here too that I didn't know we had. I was too busy to notice.

I also never took the time to garden and now I really appreciate the way different plants need tender nurturing.  Sure, you can throw a squash plant in the garden and it multiplies with whatever is in its path ~ but plants like beans and peas and strawberries need gentle care.  I found this out when I just threw them in there and watered ~ possibly too much. I lost one little strawberry and felt bad, so I decided to pay better attention.

While admiring my roses the other day, I noticed they really were not that healthy so I decided to learn more about roses.  I found the University of Illinois Extensions website and the roses section is very helpful! It is also very pretty so I spend a lot of time on there now.

Spending time with family and friends has become more important to me too.  I announced last night that I wanted to have a 4th of July party and my husband suggested we have everyone just come to a local festival we have gone to for the past 2 years, that happens to be a few days later.  I thought, OK ~ lets do that TOO! So we will have two parties in one week. 

I will close this post with a quote of John Lennon's that I really like ~ Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Huntley Youth Sports Organization 5K

On Sunday my husband and son participated in a 5K to benefit the Huntley Youth Sports Organization.  The organization is important to us because our boys played sports in Huntley, Dave coached youth football, and I was on the board of directors of the Huntley Youth Football league for many years.  In fact, Dave and I were part of an 11 member team who brought youth football to Huntley and worked tirelessly to build the organization from scratch. I can't tell you how much candy we've eaten along the way to benefit the various programs!

As our community grew, the sports programs grew as well. Now, instead of everyone being responsible for raising money for their own sport, the Huntley Youth Sports Organization was formed to help raise money for Huntley Youth sports programs.  According to their website, they have donated more than $120,000 to youth sorts since forming in 1999.

David ready to walk, iPod and all

My husband Dave has walked in about 4 or 5 races now and each time he continues to amaze me with his times.  He is a big guy, yet he finishes better than the time before. Dave walked 3.1 miles in 52 minutes! He has inspired me to walk in my first 5K in Green Bay, as I might have mentioned before.  Of course we had a minor problem at the very beginning ~ he forgot his iPod at home so I had to make a mad "dash" (no pun intended) back home to retrieve the much needed iPod.

Nathan finished in 22.5 minutes

Nathan finished his run in 22.5 minutes which was not his personal best, but I think that is pretty darn awesome! He has run many 5K's now and continues to motivate me through his message and actions.  He is looking healthier than he has in a very long time.  He is a very motivating spirit too and I keep telling him he really needs to become a certified personal trainer.  Maybe someday.

They had a child's 1 mile run at Sunday's race as well, even though some children ran the 5K.  They even had a 100 meter dash for the little kids (toddlers!) which I am sure was cute but we didn't stay to watch this year.  Avery should participate next year so we will watch it then.

I would have been ready to walk in Sunday's race, but I know how quickly I went from not having problems with my knees to needing knee surgery and embarking on a year of pain and rehab. I want my first race to be in Lambeau territory and I want to be healthy enough to enjoy it! I was waiting at the finish line though, camera in hand, doing my knee stretches and feeling "itchy" to move.

I am proud of my guys and I am happy they were able to participate in a 5K that raised money for a good cause.