Monday, November 17, 2008

Hood ornament, anyone?

As we were on the way to drop the Boy off at school last week, I avoided the opportunity to redecorate the front of my Civic, much to his chagrin. We live on an acre of land, in a mostly rural area. The drive to school, about 10 minutes, is mostly through open fields skirted by woods. There are only a couple neighborhoods between here and there.

Now, most times larger wildlife like deer will stick to fields and woods, right? So you can imagine my surprise when I encountered a rather large buck who emerged between two houses and ran across the road directly in front of our car! Of course, I slammed on my brakes and avoided a collision with the deer. However, from the back seat, I hear, "Momma, why did you stop?" "So that we wouldn't hit that deer." "But why didn't you want to hit that deer?" "Because it would hurt the deer and crash the car." "Next time, I want to hit the deer!!"

Umm... ok, maybe a pretend deer? With a pretend car? He's such a boy! :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

That man and the stickers

Last week, the Boy and I went to the grocery store. On our way out, the cashier gave the Boy a whole string of stickers. He was quite happy and held on tight to them all the way out to the car. As I was loading our groceries into the trunk, a kind older gentleman walking to his truck commented on the Boy's stickers. He said, "Well, I didn't get any stickers! You must have been a really great kid in there!" The Boy just smiled proudly as the man got into his truck and pulled away.

In the car, on the way home, however, it started to bother him. He began asking me, "Momma, why didn't that man get any stickers?" I replied that he was sure lucky to have gotten so many stickers, not really thinking much of it. But he wouldn't let it go. Again and again, he worried over the fact that he received so many stickers and that man didn't get any. Finally he asked, "Momma, can I give that man one of my stickers?" "Honey, I don't know who that man is, and he's gone." "Where did he go?" "Back to work, probably." "Where does he work?" "I don't know. I don't know who he is." "Does my Dada know who he is?" "No." "Does Ben's Dada know who he is?" "No." "How will we find him? Momma, I want to give that man one of my stickers." This went on and on, and he even picked out the exact sticker he wanted to give that man. In the meantime, my heart was simultaneously swelling with pride that he was so set on sharing something dear to him and breaking over my inability to allow my child this moment of generosity. He finally decided that stickers are for little boys, and that man wasn't a little boy. So it was ok that he didn't get any stickers.

I hope that someday we are able to act on the inborn generosity of my son, because I think that is something to be treasured and nurtured.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lady of Leisure

I went back to work in June of this year. Caterpillar called me and asked me to come back to work part-time to fill in a position. Someone else had already been hired to do the job, but she wasn't able to start until one of her co-workers came back from maternity leave. The person doing the job already needed to move on to her new position. That left a hole in that position, and I was the solution.

I was hired as the foreign patent docket clerk. Every piece of paper delivered to Caterpillar regarding any patent filed outside of the United States comes to that desk to be entered into the system, filed, or distributed to the appropriate people. We're talking papers for anywhere from fifty to over a hundred patents per day coming to one desk. And it was a full-time job before I started. I only agreed to work three days a week. There was most definitely enough work to keep me busy!!

When I started, I was told that the position should last until the beginning of October, when my replacement could report for work. No problem. I'd be done in plenty of time for the holidays. At the end of the first week of October, my boss heard from my replacement that she'd had shoulder surgery and her doctors hadn't released her to work for at least another six weeks. He asked me if I would consider staying on until she came back, and I declined. I agreed to stay until the end of October, which was later than I had originally intended to be working in the first place.

So on Wednesday, October 29, for the second time, I walked away from Caterpillar. I am now, once again, a lady of leisure! It is great to be home with my boy again. He really has missed me. I'm still getting adjusted to being a stay-at-home-mom again, but hopefully we'll get back into the swing of things again. We've got the holidays coming up, Christmas presents to prepare, meals to consider... and now I can do all of that without the added stress of going to work three days a week. I truly am a blessed woman!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

I have returned

Ok, ok... so I haven't blogged in a while. A couple months ago, I had a rather ugly incident with a few people and a blog, and I have stepped away from blogging for a time. I'm back now, I have a few posts lined up, and I am going to try my best to do better. :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Wow, someone reads this!

I was just informed that people actually do read this blog! I'm not sure why that amazes me so much, but it does. So, if you're reading this, THANKS!

I guess I need to get back on the stick and start posting again, huh? Since people are taking time out of their busy lives to actually see what I have to say and think about things... I'll work on that. I promise!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Marriage, Commitment, Love... What's become of it?

I feel like I'm in a shrinking minority in this world. I hope I'm wrong... Just seems like the sanctity of marriage has evaporated. The complete disregard for the vows made between man and wife is so disheartening. When did our society become so negative that divorce is worn as a badge of pride and honor? How did it become a status symbol to be a divorcee?

Lord knows my marriage isn't perfect. We've had our fair share of problems, arguments, disagreements, and even downright fights. We've both said and done things we've regretted, things that have deeply hurt the other person. But we made a commitment to one another, and we are living that out daily. I may not always even like my husband, but I choose to love him. He IS my husband. He is the father of my child. He is my partner. He is the provider for this family. And I do love him. Very much. I will fight with him and for him to keep our marriage together. But apparently my husband and I are two of a dying breed these days.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

"Is God Driving His Car?"

Last week, the Boy and I drove to Indiana. We stayed overnight with my in-laws, and then went on to a family gathering with my dad and step-mom and half- and step-siblings. The drive takes about 4 hours, with no stops. The Boy slept a good portion of the way, so I was able to drive in peace. Even when he was awake, he was pretty good. He amuses himself easily.

As we made the last turn before turning into Nana and Gramps' driveway, the Boy spoke up, in a concerned voice, from the backseat. "Momma, is God driving His car?" (We have been dealing with a lot of night-time fear lately. One of the tools I've given him is talking to God, asking Him to be in his room and keep him safe.) "What?" "Is God driving His car? Is He going to be at Nana and Gramps?" Smiling, I said, "Do you think He's driving His car?" Pause... "No, I think He's sitting in the front seat. But He really needs to put on His seat belt!"

I just laughed and turned into Nana and Gramps' driveway.

Low-Rider

My in-laws have the most interesting cat. Her name is Sophie. She adopted them a few years ago now after they found her half-dead in the woods outside their home. A few days (or maybe a week or two) after they brought Sophie into their home, she was resting on my mother-in-laws lap one night. She started squirming, and soon my mother-in-law had a lap full of still-born kittens. Apparently Sophie had gotten pregnant during her first heat, as she was still a kitten herself when my in-laws found her. The result of all of this is that Sophie's growth was severely stunted. She weighs all of maybe 6 or 7 pounds, and she is the lowest-riding cat I've ever seen. She also has a funny little face, all flat and scrunched.
But what she lacks in size, she makes up for in personality. This cat thinks she's as much creature as the 80 pound boxer who also happens to live in Sophie's house. Sophie is quite the queen bee.

And for whatever reason, Sophie adores me. I no sooner walk into the in-laws house, than that cat is hovering, waiting for me to sit somewhere so that she can be properly greeted. When I do sit (which usually takes a while seeing as its a 4-hour drive to get there, minimum), she immediately commandeers my lap and insists that I pet her. Of course, I give in to her demands, and within minutes she is stretched out on my lap, claws digging into my leg, drooling. Yes, you read that right. This tough kitty, who can keep up with dogs ten times her size, drools when I pet her. Its the most hilarious thing!! My mother-in-law swears I have some kind of magic touch... I think Sophie is just a strange cat! :-)

Friday, July 25, 2008

I don't get it...

Sometimes I just don't get it. People ask for advice. Ok, that I can understand, being one to often ask for input from others before making a decision myself. But people who ask for advice and then get upset when the advice given isn't what they wanted to hear just irritate the living daylights out of me. I mean, seriously. Just because advice is given doesn't mean you have to take it, does it? It also doesn't mean that the person giving the advice will hate you forever and scribble out your face in the yearbook if you disregard what they have to say. At least that tends to be the case when you're dealing with adults, rather than 30+-year-old high-school-wannabes. But don't chew a person out for giving advice when YOU ASKED FOR IT! The situation stinks. Sure. That doesn't give anyone license to treat others like crap, though. We all have our tough situations in life. Suck it up and deal with it like the rest of the world. And if you aren't prepared to hear ALL of the answers, don't ask for advice.

Cucumber? Watermelon? Pumpkin?

We had extra room in our garden, so I planted 3 hills of vining plants, one each of Cucumber, Watermelon, and Pumpkin. Thinking I would surely remember which was which, I didn't mark them. What was I thinking???

I have vines trying to overtake my garden, and I don't even know for sure which one is which! I'm relatively certain that the largest leafed plant is the pumpkin. And I have cut the vines back, seeing as they were growing into the tomatoes and sugar snap peas and just trying to take over everything. We should be good on pumpkins. The cucumber and watermelon, however, I'm not so sure about. I thought I knew which was which, but when I went to the in-laws this weekend and saw their cucumber patch, all of a sudden, I'm not so sure. I guess I'll figure it out when they start growing fruit.

Note to self--ALWAYS label the plants!!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Awwww, What Happened, Pizza?!!

Our three-year-old is developing quite the imagination! But sometimes, its a little slow in the making. Our babysitter, C, loves to joke around and have fun. She picks on the Boy incessantly, which he normally just eats up. One game, however, took a while to figure out.

Being three is tough. The Boy will testify to that. He often whines or gets upset when things don't go quite the way he wanted. C's response is often, "Sorry, Charlie!" "Don't call me Charlie! I'm not Charlie!" the Boy replies forcefully. They've been doing this over and over for weeks now. Occasionally, C will call him Fred, or Bob, or any number of other names. Her kids have joined in the fun, as well. And the Boy keeps telling them, "I'm not Fred!! Don't call me Fred!!" Finally, one night last week, he got it! C was calling him Charlie. One of her kids was calling him Fred. I was calling him Bob. And it clicked that we were playing a game!

A few days later, the Boy and I were playing at home. He decided to taste my arm to see what flavor I was that day--apparently I tasted like pizza. As we joked around, he bonked me with his head or stepped on me or did something else painful, and I said, "Ouch! That hurt!!" With a gleam in his eye, in a very sympathetic voice, the Boy said, "Awwwww, what happened, Pizza?!!" What a little stinker!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Corn Season Stinks!

Most of the time, I love being in the midwest. I love watching the seasons change--each season, I declare this one to be my favorite, because each one has its own unique beauty, only to be outdone by the next season! Except for winter. Winter is not, nor will it ever be, my favorite season. I understand the purpose of winter--to torture those people silly enough to stick around for it. But I don't really like it. At all. Anyway, I digress. Most of the time, I love living here. Corn season is not one of those times.

As I was driving to the in-laws this past weekend (about 4 hours through endless cornfields), my head was truly throbbing. I had taken as much medication for it as I was comfortable doing while driving, and it was barely touching the headache. I was thinking back over the past day or so, trying to figure out why in the world I was so miserable. Had I eaten something that would have caused a reaction? Surely that one bite of brownie with walnuts wasn't still causing a headache! Had I slept badly and my neck was out of whack? Then the fog over my contacts cleared just enough for me to see the corn. More specifically, I saw the tassels sticking out of the top of all the corn. And a very dim light bulb clicked on somewhere deep in the recesses of my brain. Corn tassels... pollen... severely allergic... aaaaaaaaaah!

Sometimes it really stinks to live in the midwest!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Homicidal Red-Winged Blackbird II

After the previous week's fun-filled lunch date, I went back last week to watch our fury-filled feathered fighter. And, while it was blazing hot out there, it was an hour well-spent.

It would appear that more and more people are aware of this fellow, as there wasn't a lot of foot traffic heading across the road at this corner. But that didn't stop this little guy! (One co-worker has named him Fun-Dip, because he dips at people and is a lot of fun to watch.) This poor, unsuspecting chap was walking along on the opposite side of the street from the Tree. For whatever reason (maybe it was the ball cap? maybe he was bored? who knows what was going through his little bird-brain), Fun-Dip crossed 4 lanes of traffic to attack this guy! He hit the guy probably a half-dozen times in the back of the head before the guy stopped at the corner. Fun-Dip sat on top of the pedestrian walk light and chattered down at the guy. Then, suddenly, Fun-Dip took off diagonally across the intersection, crossing to the opposite corner, to attack another poor, unsuspecting chap wearing a ball cap. That guy turned, whipped off his hat, and swung at Fun-Dip, who looked like he was laughing as he flew back to the first guy. At that point, the first guy was crossing the intersection towards the Tree--BIG mistake!! Fun-Dip was all over that guy. (Those of us viewing from a safe distance were laughing so hard we could hardly stay upright, of course.) He chased the guy around the corner, away from the Tree, and we lost sight of them around the parking deck. I'm not entirely certain, but I suspect that the poor guy might still be cowering in a corner somewhere, rocking himself in a fetal position, with an eye to the sky watching for homicidal red-winged blackbirds!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fuel Supply

Yesterday at church, Coach Mark mentioned the important role that fuel supplies play in life. One of his points was that he could beat any professional athlete at any sport as long as he cut off their fuel supply (some for a month or more, granted)! Being the recent motorcycle fanatic that I've become, my brain instantly jumped to the fuel supply valve...

If the fuel supply valve is shut off, the bike won't go. Its a very useful switch, especially if you will be parking the bike for an extended time (blasphemy, just blasphemy!!) or during the winter months. But if you want the bike to go, you have to turn on the fuel supply valve. Its sort of like the zipper on my Bible cover. The zipper is useful to keep the pages nice, to keep everything from flapping around as I carry it, etc. It really comes in handy. But in order to turn on the spiritual fuel, I have to open the zipper. I have to dig into the Word. That's where spiritual acceleration begins.

But motorcycles have a super-nifty feature, called the reserve tank. Since a motorcycle tank usually only holds a few gallons of gasoline, most lower-end bikes don't have a gas gauge. Instead, the fuel supply valve is used to switch over to a reserve of gas when the rest of the tank is empty. There's enough in the reserve to get you to a nearby filling station and you can be on your way. In the same way, we have a spiritual reserve tank. When we're feeling empty, alone, lost, sad, angry, frustrated, etc. all we have to do is flip our supply valve to reserve--we pray. We always have that lifeline, and I guarantee there's always enough fuel there to get you to the nearest filling station, be that your Bible, your spiritual advisors, or whatever it is that you need to fill that tank again. We can always have an endless supply of fuel if we use the right tools.

Ambience Thoughts

As I was walking down a hallway at work the other day, I passed an open door and glanced inside. The door opened to one of the communication/recording control areas, and because the room was dark, the steps up to the platform were outlined with rope lights. It was amazing how, in that brief moment, I was transported from that hallway to a hushed, expectant theater. I could feel the excitement in the air as the audience waited for the show to begin. And just as quickly as it came, the feeling passed, and I was back in the hallway, heading on my way.

I walked on, pondering how powerful certain sights, sounds, and smells can be.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Weeding--Gardening and Life

As I was weeding the garden this weekend, it occurred to me, yet again, the parallels between gardening and living a Christian life. As a gardener, we work the ground and plant seeds with the hope that they will sprout and grow delicious produce. We diligently tend the garden, weeding as often as necessary to allow the plants to grow. Without that attention, the weeds will overtake our plants, stealing the nutrients, preventing fruits and vegetables from growing. But when we take the time to pull the weeds, the plants flourish and grow, and even the smallest plants begin to grow and produce.

In our lives, weeds grow. Bad habits, addictions, unhealthy relationships, negative self-images, low self-worths... the list just goes on and on. And when we allow those weeds to take root, they begin to choke out the good works God has planted in our lives. Just as we spend time and energy working in the garden to help our plants grow, we must spend time and energy weeding our lives of those things that don't bless God.

Sure, this sounds like a good plan, but it is definitely not easy. Weeding a garden is not hard to do because you can see the immediate results. I get a sense of true satisfaction when I stand up and look behind me to see my progress as I've been weeding. People standing outside the garden can recognize the transformation taking place. The difference is very visible. Weeding our lives isn't quite as visible. That makes it more difficult to even realize that weeding needs to happen, and the results aren't as immediate or recognizable to other people. But there most definitely are results--the good fruit of God. And that's worth the dirty fingers, aching back, tired feet, and even bug bites acquired during the weeding process.

Be blessed today!

Monday, July 14, 2008

First Harvest

I spent a couple hours in the garden yesterday unburying the last 2 rows of beans from the jungle of weeds trying to choke them out. When I finished, I began the first harvest of the summer. I ended up with a handful of sugar snap peas, three jalapenos, one sweet banana pepper, and about 6 cups of green beans. We're having fresh beans tonight, baby!! :-)

In the meantime, the tomatoes are still out there, taunting me with their greenness... One branch of cherry tomatoes has about 5 or 6 that we should be able to pick today. I just know that the rest of those tomatoes are all going to ripen the same day. Wouldn't that be just my luck. I need to hurry up and figure out how to can!

The corn blew down over the weekend from some nasty storms we had come through. I'm hoping it rights itself today. It looks like it was starting to straighten up a little by last night. Its all beginning to show tassels, which means fresh sweet corn hopefully isn't too far away!! I'm not convinced that the corn gets enough sun to give us mature ears of corn. I'll be pretty sad if that's the case, but we have a plan for next year.

Who knew gardening could be such an adventure?!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Veggables...

Our garden has somewhat recovered from being so horribly overgrown, and it is now producing "veggables", as the Boy says! We have about 150 green tomatoes out there right now, just waiting to ripen. (What in the world are we going to do with 150 tomatoes, I ask?!!) The sugar snap peas are filling out. The green beans are starting to get long enough to cook. The peppers are growing. The melons and pumpkins have flowers, the corn is as tall as me... By jorge, we have ourselves a garden!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Homicidal Red-Winged Blackbird

I watched the most hysterical thing I've seen in a long, long time this week. I met a friend for lunch, and we sat outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. From our vantage point outside our building, we were able to watch a homicidal red-winged blackbird "defend" its territory from intruders--unsuspecting passers-by!!

Apparently red-winged blackbirds are migratory animals, and they fiercely defend their nests. This particular bird made national news last year when he roughed up employees for several weeks all along one stretch of road between a large parking lot and the building. The tree from which he made these attacks was promptly cut down when the fledgling birds left the nest and the attacks abated. This year, the family has chosen a Tree just up the road from their previous roost, and they're up to the same old antics. The Tree is just outside a parking deck, near a rather large, busy intersection where many employees must cross in order to get between their vehicles and work.

As my friend and I watched, this not-so-small bird attacked a half-dozen people or so! He bombed one group of people (two men and a woman), hitting one of the men in the back of the head, before swooping down and attacking the woman. The man took it rather in stride, but the woman ran, screaming, for the side of the road, not realizing she was only running closer to the bird's territory. We laughed out loud.

Shortly, another man walked by, heading across the street towards the fated Tree. The bird, who had perched on top of the stoplight at this point, swooped down and hit the man in the back of the head, then swooped again and hit him squarely between his shoulder blades. The man took off at a lope across the street, and the bird chased him the whole way and halfway down the block, around the corner from the Tree. We laughed harder!

A woman emerged from the parking deck to cross the road. Apparently she tired of waiting for the light to change, so she decided to meander down the street along the side of the parking deck. As she neared the Tree, the bird went into fight-and-flight-mode. We're not really sure what this woman had been imbibing, but she took her time, looking at the flowers next to the Tree, hardly even noticing the poor bird doing his best to get her AWAY! She finally wandered off, down the street, leaving the bird in peace. We really didn't understand if this woman was crazy or just didn't care that she was really upsetting this bird... very strange.

Before we could wonder too much, another man appeared at the corner next to the Tree. He, too, tired of waiting for the light to change and took off down the sidewalk, past the Tree. As he passed underneath it, the bird came flying, hitting the man in the back of the head and flying away. The man stopped and turned, hands on his hips, to confront his attacker. Only the bird was nowhere to be found. The man resumed his course only to be attacked again. Again, he stopped and turned, hands back on his hips, ready for a confrontation. He saw the bird hopping around on the ground at this point, but he didn't appear to put it together. This scenario played out 4 or 5 times before the man finally reached a small, wooden barricade across the sidewalk (from the wrong side, of course) that boasted a sign warning pedestrians about the attacking bird. He read this sign, hands back on his hips, looked up at the tree in disgust, and promptly turned back around and stomped away. We almost fell off of our seats laughing at that one!

It was quite obvious whether the people crossing at this intersection were aware of the bird. Those who were familiar with the risks associated with this particular corner approached with great caution, constantly keeping an eye to the sky, making sure to know at all times where the bird was located. Many actually went out of their way to avoid being anywhere near the bird's "territory," which spanned the width of the 4-lane road one way and across the 2 lane road the other. Those poor, unsuspecting pedestrians who hadn't heard or hadn't heeded the warnings about this raging red-wing were caught completely unawares by the attacks.

I have never in my life seen anything like this, but it was a highly entertaining way to spend my lunch hour!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Boom, Flash... Ooooooh..... Aaaaaaah.....

I hope everyone had a really great 4th of July! While the week leading up to the 4th was a little stressful, things seem to be leveling out and we had a fun weekend.

The Hubby was off work Friday for the holiday, so I went out for a ride in the morning. I hadn't ridden in two weeks. It was a little chilly for me (60 degrees), but the skies were clear and there was little traffic on the road. It was a beautiful morning for a ride! When I got home, the Hubby went to the store (what was he thinking braving Wal-Mart on the 4th of July? Seriously?) to pick up a few things. When he got home, he and the Boy worked outside while I sewed.

After naptime, we packed up and headed downtown to watch the "largest fireworks display in the history of downstate Illinois!" It actually was a decent show. Its not Thunder Over Louisville, but it was pretty good. The Boy spent the whole show sitting on the Hubby's lap, awestruck. He did get a little scared of the noise, but luckily the Hubby was thinking ahead and brought ear protection for him. We popped that on his head, and he was one happy little boy!

We found a decent parking spot in a lot under a bridge, but apparently that lot was supposed to be reserved for motorcycles only. When we returned to the car after the show, we discovered that we had been parked in by motorcycles. And as we lined up to leave the lot, the bikers were showing off and revving their engines as high as they could. We were actually waiting for one of them to blow... The echo under the bridge was deafening. I wasn't impressed.

If I may go off on a tangent here, I'm all about riding these days, but I was appalled at the audacity of most of the bikers from the lot under the bridge. All of us in 4-wheeled vehicles were lined up and (mostly) patiently awaiting openings in the traffic so we could get out. The bikers all drove right past our line and pulled into traffic without hardly looking back. I'm sorry, but just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD. That was just plain rude. Of course, we weren't supposed to be in that lot in the first place... In our defense, the lot wasn't marked very clearly, and we weren't ticketed or anything for parking there. But that doesn't excuse rude driving on their part. I mean, come on. Most of us in cars and vans had kids with us. Grrrrrrrr

Ok, tangent over. We actually got out of the lot and on the road home pretty quickly, considering the crowd. What a fun night of explosives! :-)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

There's a Garden in there Somewhere!

Somewhere, amidst the knee-high weeds, there really is a garden... somewhere.... right?!!

We got back from vacation to find the weeds already taking over. Then, between the late start, working, and motorcycle class, we're about 3 weeks behind on weeding the garden. I've gotten the peas untangled from the non-peas. The peppers and most of the tomatoes are free of weeds. There are about 3 rows of corn still lost somewhere in there, and about half the rows of green beans are being taken over. The watermelon, pumpkin, and cucumber plants are sweetly nestled among the maple tree forest growing where a garden should be.

We definitely have our work cut out for us if we intend to reclaim our vegetables!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Whoa... Life Got Crazy!!

Ok, so things got a little away from me here! Between working and riding and being a wife and mom and church and... and... and... I sorta let this blog slide a little. This is still better than my other blog about my son, to which I haven't posted in.... oh.... months?! Gotta work on that! Poor kid...

Honestly, though, I've been working really hard to stay caught up around the house now that I'm working 3 days a week. The laundry seems to take on a life of its own. I think it breeds down there in the basement. I swear, how can 3 people wear that many clothes in a week? For real?! I have gotten the kitchen cleaned all but one day this week, and I even cooked dinner a few times this week! (Ok, ok, scrape your jaws off the keyboards now... you're just embarrassing yourselves! I am capable of cooking! I'm working on dinner right now! Ok, maybe not right NOW, but the meat is thawing in the microwave as I type this, and I know what I'm going to do. Its a start, right?!) I've not been known to always have a tidy house, so this is a big push. As a matter of fact, I realized today that I think I have a new condition--I am domestically challenged! Anyone who has seen my house can attest to that. But I'm getting better. Really, I am. :-)

At work, I'm trying to squeeze 40 hours of work into 21 hours a week. Its not going so well, as you might imagine. Of course, it doesn't help that the person I'm replacing (who has been training me) has been gone for 2 out of the past 3 weeks... :-) Talk about being ODF! (Out Der Flappin' for those not fluent in southern-speak)

And now I'm working on my first real order for my custom window covering business. I have 9 relaxed roman shades due in a week and a half. I don't have them done yet. I have a lot of sewing to get done in a short time! Ohhh... speaking of which... dinner and sewing! Gotta run! :-)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Heading out for my first ride...

Went to the license branch today and had the motorcycle classification added to my license. The Boy is down for his nap and I have a babysitter coming to sit with him. So I will be free for a couple hours to ride!! I'm really looking forward to this. :-)

Friday, June 13, 2008

I love motorcycles!!!!

Had another class last night. Wow!! The more I ride, the more I want to ride. I know that probably sounds like crazy talk to anyone who doesn't ride... but I also know that those people out there who do ride know exactly what I'm talking about!

Last night we were practicing cornering, sharp curves, swerving, going over objects, and stuff like that. It was such a blast. One exercise, we had to make a 90 degree corner, speed up, then slow and make a 130 degree curve. It was just exhilarating, being so in control of the bike that when I went around the sharp curve, I was hitting exactly where I intended to go. It sounds like bragging, but I really am one of the better riders in the class! (At least according to what the teachers are teaching--several of the guys have a lot more road experience, which definitely gives them an edge.)

Anyway, we are definitely going to end up with a bigger bike once we can afford it. Let the countdown begin! :-)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Another Class, Another Spill

Tonight was another motorcycle class night. Wow, I'm totally getting addicted to riding! We had one exercise where we were actually in 3rd gear, engine braking (shifting down to 2nd to slow down), going around a 180-degree curve while shifting back up to 3rd, and repeating that process! We were getting some speed. It was GREAT!! In another exercise, we had to accelerate into 2nd gear, then stop suddenly without skidding. I was up first and wasn't so sure about it, but it turned out to be one of the best exercises of the night! A third exercise involved turning very tight turns at a very slow speed using a technique called counter-balancing (putting your weight on the outside of the bike while it is turning). I'm not so great at that one, so I'll need to practice. But I can definitely understand how this can become a habit.

We had two spills in class tonight. One, the guy had his wrist too high, so when he tried to brake, he was also opening the throttle. He lost control and slid across the pavement a ways. Luckily, he was ok. The bike, not so much! Then the lady who dropped the bike last class took another spill. This one was very controlled, from what I hear, and she even had the presence of mind to shut down the engine before she let go! She told us her goal for next class is to not drop the bike... LOL

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Vroom, Vrooooooom!!

Long before I knew about my new job at Cat, a dear friend and I had signed up to take a motorcycle safety class through one of the local colleges here. The class is $20, and you get 20 hours of instruction both in the classroom and on a motorcycle, spread out over 5 nights--4 hours per night. My class is Tues and Thurs evenings. They even provide motorcycles there! (Which makes sense if you think about it--we're all taking the class to get our motorcycle classification on our licenses, so to drive our own motorcycles there would be illegal!)

Last Tuesday was my first night of class. I rushed out of work to pick up the Boy from the babysitter, then rushed back into town to switch cars with Hubby. He ended up meeting us at the school. (By the time I got home, the Boy was sound asleep... that's really hard for me!) My friend and I walked into class together, and you could see the speculation on the faces of all the guys there. However, my friend ended up not getting to take the class, as she had to go out of town for work one of the class days and would be late to class. Apparently that's just not ok. :( We were both pretty sad about that.

There are twelve people in the class. The first night was all classroom instruction, and our teacher split the class into three groups of four students. I ended up in a group with three college-aged guys who all went to high school together. The teacher named us "Tammy's Angels." I feel like a den mother! They are great kids, but they are most definitely in a different time of their lives. When we went over the drinking and riding portion of the class, I just wanted to shake them and make sure they were listening!! I didn't, of course, but I really wanted to. Anyway, one of them has already taken the class and is just along for the ride to watch his buddies. Another has had a bike for 2 years but has never gotten his motorcycle classification on his license and has been pulled over too many times without it. The third one has never ridden. Its an interesting mix!

Thursday night was our first night riding. I have to say, I'm quite proud of myself!! I was getting pretty good by the end of the night! And my Angels were so relieved that I wasn't the one who dropped the bike the first night. Another woman (there are only 3 of us out of 12) in the class had that honor. They almost asked her to drop out of the class, but she stuck with it and was riding pretty well by the end of the class, herself! We have such a great group of people with a HUGE range of riding skills. Its a lot of fun! I can definitely see why people do this all the time!!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Boats and Bugs and Tents, Oh My! (Day 3)

Wednesday morning we awoke to a gorgeous day. The weather was forecasted to be just about perfect--sunny and 80's. Hubby and I decided to try our hand at some bass fishing. He collected some shad from the shore with a net, and we used that as bait. We caught nothing. But I ended up with a shad with the personality of a much larger fish. That little guy (I named him Lou) swam all over that lake! He didn't seem to be affected by the very large hook pushing through his jaw and out his nose. He just kept swimming!! We dragged him from place to place, looking for the bass, and he just kept swimming! We dragged him back to our campsite, and he just kept swimming! So we stuck the pole between some rocks and left him out there to see if anything would be tempted by him. And he just kept swimming!!

Meanwhile, we had left the Boy with Nana and Gramps. We were mostly in sight of our campsite the whole time we were out, and the Boy was having a blast! He drove his Power Wheels around and around and around for quite a while, and then when he was done with that, he started throwing rocks into the lake. He was quite proud of the splashes, plops, kerplunks, and other sounds he was making!

When we got back to our camp, I parked myself on the boat most of the rest of the day and fished. The bluegills were biting. And while reeling in a 1/2 lb bluegill doesn't even come close to the thrill of pulling in a 2 lb bass, the frequency with which I was catching fish made up for the difference! I went through several tubs of bee moths on my own. The Nana even came out and fished with me for a while. It was so relaxing!

During naptime, I ended up sitting at a picnic table, working on a Bible study and doing some other reading. We stayed in for lunch, making sandwiches. All in all, it was a very low-key day.

Sometime around dusk, I mentioned to Hubby that I thought we were probably going to have to set Lou free, as he was still out there swimming! About 30 seconds later (I am telling the truth here, I promise!) Lou's bobber went under the water! Hubby jumped out of the boat and raced to the pole, but by the time he got there, all that was left of Lou was his head. A turtle came by and decided he looked like a tasty snack, I guess. Poor Lou! I was pretty sad. But he was a bait fish, after all!

Gramps cooked us steaks on the grill, and Nana made baked potatoes. It was a nice meal to end a lovely day (aside from Lou getting eaten, of course). As the sun went down, I got the Boy settled in the tent, and a while later, Hubby and I joined him. It was nice to have a "normal" night in the tent!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Back to Work

As some of you may know, I have recently re-entered the workforce. About 3 weeks ago, I received a call from Caterpillar, asking if I would be interested in a part-time temporary position with Legal Services. (I worked in Legal Services for almost 2 years before Trey was born and left on good terms.) I interviewed for the job and was offered the position. I started work less than 2 weeks after I got the call.

I reported for Orientation Monday morning, bright and early. (Like, 7:30am... UGH!) When I walked in the entryway, there were several people waiting ahead of me to check in. Once I checked in and was sent down the hallway to the waiting area, I noticed that a few people ahead of me weren't in that room, but I didn't think much of it. After waiting for over half an hour, someone came and collected all of us who were waiting for orientation. She took us up to a room and told us to find our names at a seat. My name wasn't there. Turns out that was the full-time management orientation, and I was supposed to be at the part-time orientation that had started half an hour earlier. I guess they came and got the part-time people after the girls ahead of me checked in but before I got down to the waiting area. Great. Just great. I did get there in time to have my badge photo taken and to sit through Prohibited Harassment Awareness Training. Yippeee.

The next day I reported to work. Again, I was on time! My boss had told me to just come to our building and he'd meet me and take me upstairs. Only there were no security guards in the lobby of that building to let me in. So I reported to the next building over. But they wouldn't let me into the building, because no one had called to let them know to expect me. So on my first day of work, I was locked out of the building. They wouldn't even let me into the lobby where the chairs are. I was stuck in a glass foyer, or out on the sidewalk. My boss wasn't answering his phone. His assistant wasn't answering her phone. The Paralegal Manager wasn't answering her phone. I was out of ideas. So I called my good friend A, who came down to rescue me. But by the time she made it, I was in tears and the security guard was about to have a nervous breakdown. I just wanted to report for work. I was in the computer system. I had my badge identification number. I could show proof of my identity. But I couldn't get in the building. I was pretty frustrated.

After picking up my badge (so that I could enter and exit at my leisure), I got settled at my desk. The first project I was given was to make up file folders. I had about 60 folders to make, and each one required about 10 stickers. About 50 folders into the project, I realized that they had given me the wrong folders. No, I'm not kidding...

The next day, I got out the door, but I was running behind and was more than a little harried. About halfway to dropping off the Boy with his sitter, I realized I had left my badge at home. Without my badge, I wouldn't be able to get into the parking lot or the building. I don't think I could have handled that again. So I dropped him off and turned around for home. When I pulled into the driveway, I saw that I had left the front door of the house wide open. Really, its a good thing I had to come back, right?

I had serious thoughts about hanging up my hat after the first week... :)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Boats and Bugs and Tents, Oh My! (Day 2)

Wednesday morning, after we thawed ourselves out, the day turned out to be pretty nice. Our campsite was surrounded on 3 sides by water. The rocks on the shore make for great spawning beds. On one side, we had shad. On the other we had bluegills. We weren't much interested in the shad, but we had fun catching the bluegills! Trey and Dada went out on the boat and fished for quite a while. Nana Grape (Hubby's grandma) came over to the campsite and was really tickled to see the next generation of fisherman emerging in our son.

We met up for lunch again at the restaurant, and afterwards boated over to Hubby's aunt and uncle's new house on the lake. They will be retiring there in September. It is a really cute little cottage-type house with the most gorgeous porch! They have a dock, a large garage, and an area where Nana and Gramps can park their RV when they come to visit. It is really beautiful. Before we left, I ended up inviting everyone over for a cookout. Hubby had brought 7 1/2 lbs of hamburger with us, and there's no way Nana, Gramps, Hubby, The Boy, and I would eat that much on our own. After the (delicious) burgers, we had s'mores over the campfire. Oh man, they were good!! Even Nana Grape had to have one!

Sometime that afternoon/evening, we were informed that we would be sleeping in the RV with the Nana and Gramps that night, as the temperatures were supposed to drop to the 40's again that night. Fine by me! I don't ever want to be that cold again. Ever! It wasn't exactly the most comfortable setting, and Trey rolled off the couch at one point, but we were warm and dry. It could have been a heck of a lot worse!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Boats and Bugs and Tents, Oh My! (Day 1 Con't)

I told you about our boating adventures our first day at the campground. When we finally got back to our campsite, Hubby and The Boy went to the tent to take a nap. About that time, the weather turned bad. Really bad. Like, sheets of water and wind slamming into the RV bad. Like MIL and I watching out the window to make sure the tent was still there and the boys weren't floating away on the air mattress bad. Like park rangers coming around with sirens and flashing lights announcing a flash flood warning bad. Did I mention the weather was a little rough? :)

Turns out the cell that went over us was reported to have gusts of wind up to 60 mph. The wind was driving the rain through the zippers of the tent (which Hubby had completely closed up) and under the rain tarp to fall through the ceiling. There were puddles of water in all of the corners, and one side of the air mattress was soaked. The boys emerged from naptime rather soggy.

We knew the temperature was supposed to drop that night, but I had packed lots of blankets and we figured we'd be ok. What we didn't realize until we were crawling into bed is that the bag containing all of our bedding was sitting in a puddle. A few of the blankets were ok, but the big blanket I had brought to cover all of us was wet. Too wet to use. So we were left with a sheet and a couple lap blankets. Some time after midnight I woke up, almost frozen. Hubby was awake and cold as well. The Boy was sound asleep, snuggled between us. Hubby and I shivered and shook and dozed the rest of the night. At one point, I dreamed that the three of us were frozen to the air mattress by our blankets. Every gust of wind through the tent was like being pierced by icicles. It was cold. By morning, we were popsicles. The Boy even said that he was cold overnight, though if he had woken up at any point, we would have taken him to the RV.

It made for a long, long night!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sandy places

Have you ever found yourself getting involved in a situation that you know, in the back of your mind, will get you in trouble, yet you do it anyway, trying to help? Some days I just forget that there are mean, petty people in the world. I guess I stick my head in the sand and ignore the fact that there are people out there who really don't like me. Which is fine, most of the time. But from my hidey-hole on the beach, its hard to remember those people are out to get me when I do try to help them. What other reason would a person have for complaining that I notified our church that her little newborn son was in the hospital, when she herself was trying to reach someone from the church and couldn't? She obviously doesn't care that the church knew--or knew at least part of the information. But she obviously does care that I was involved. I just don't get it. Really. It makes me want to bury myself deeper in the sand and never come out.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Boats and Bugs and Tents, Oh My! (Day 1)

Twice a year, my husband's family journeys to a place in southern Indiana to camp and fish. The last time we met up with them was two years ago, when our boy was not quite one. Last week we journeyed out to see them. We had a fun time, but it certainly wasn't without... how shall I explain this... adventure!

We left Tuesday morning, about 5:30am. (Yup, I was actually up, dressed, and out the door, complete with everything we needed to camp out for the week, by 5:30am! My hubby almost fell over.) The drive took about 5 hours, which isn't too bad unless you have an almost-3-year-old in the car. Then it gets a little hairy. The little guy was pretty good, though, when you consider how long he was strapped into that carseat. He even told us when he needed to poop! We had a setup so that he could watch movies if he got really bad, but we never had to pull it out. Personally, I was impressed. Its not exactly easy for an adult to sit still that long. A little guy like him? Almost impossible.

We got to the campsite before lunch, so we started unpacking. We pitched our tent underneath two trees on a point of land about 10 feet from the water. It was a gorgeous site! We got everything all set up so that when we got back after lunch, the hubby and the boy could lay down for a nap.

Lunch itself was relatively uneventful--we met up with the whole group... the in-laws, hubby's aunt and uncle, hubby's grandma, and a couple who comes down with the aunt and uncle every trip. The boy traveled to the restaurant with Nana and Gramps (the in-laws) on their golf cart. Hubby and I took our boat, as the restaurant is right on the water and has a dock. When I stepped onto the boat, I noticed standing water INSIDE the boat. Concerned, I pointed it out to hubby (not that he really could have missed it!). We weren't sure exactly what had happened, but we were relatively certain it had something to do with the "repair" hubby had done on the bilge pump.

See, back at home hubby had been concerned that the bilge pump wasn't working. After finally locating the pump and figuring out how to remove it (that took quite a while of reaching into a small, dark spot inside the boat before he realized there was a clip holding the pump in place... once he moved that clip, the pump came right out!), he realized two things: 1) the motor was burned out and there was no place open to purcahse a replacement motor at that point before we left for the trip; and 2) the amp for that pump was burned out and required a special amp. Let the Macgyver-style rigging begin!

Our boat has 3 identical pumps for 3 different uses--a bilge pump, to remove water from inside the hull of the boat; an aerator pump, to pull water from outside the boat into the live-well; and a recirc pump, to move the water in the live-well around so the fish in there don't end up belly-up prematurely. The aerator and bilge pumps are pretty close to one another. The aerator pump was working just fine. The bilge pump was not. We can use a bucket to put water into the live-well, but there's no way to remove water from inside the boat without a bilge. So hubby removed the bilge pump and replaced it with the aerator pump. No biggie. Except the aerator pump in its proper spot provides back pressure on the hose it uses to pull water into the live-well. With the aerator pump in the bilge position and nothing in the aerator position, water was free-flowing into the hull. That's a problem...

Hubby plugged what he thought was the proper hole to keep water from coming in, and we started pumping out the water in the boat. When we got some of it out, we decided to go ahead and start for the restaurant, thinking the motion would help clear out the water and the motor would charge the battery to run the bilge. My fingers were almost in the water when I rested my hand on the side of the boat. When we finished lunch and returned to the boat, there was more water. Hubby had plugged the wrong hole! So he and his uncle removed the recirc pump and put it in the aerator spot, which stopped the water from coming in. We then pumped out the water inside the boat. On the way back to our campsite, my hand was a good 7 or 8 inches out of the water, but we were still sitting looooooooow! Hubby's mom thought we weren't going to make it when she saw us plowing water!

So as it turns out now, the bilge button does nothing. To run the bilge, you have to turn on the aerator switch. To run the aerator, you have to turn on the recirc switch. And if you want to run the recirc, you're just out of luck!

Hubby is planning to get a new pump and put everything back in its proper place before we take the boat out again. Thank goodness!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Civic Car!

We picked up our new car a little over a week ago. We ended up with a 2008 silver Honda Civic EX. It is a really fun car. We weren't sure (ok, I wasn't sure) about driving something that small. I mean, I started my driving career with a Pontiac Sundance, but ever since then, I've driven big cars. I had a Chevy S-10, then a Ford F150 extended cab, then the Durango, then the Jeep. Now a Civic. Its small. But the interior is surprisingly roomy! (Man, I sound like a cheesy commercial!)

Really, though, its a pretty comfortable car. And with the sunroof, power windows, power locks, power seat, cruise control... it is a HUGE step up! Even as I step down into the car... :)

Gardening

This spring we broke ground for a garden. We planted 7 rows of corn, 6 rows of green beans, 2 rows of sugar snap peas, watermelon, cucumber, pumpkin, around 60 onions, 12 tomato plants, and 8 pepper plants. It is a pretty big garden. Since we planted a few weeks ago, nothing much has been happening. Then we went away for a few days...

When we returned, I was amazed to see how much the garden had changed. Yes, there were (and still are) weeds, but the plants!! It is so exciting to see those little sprouts pushing up through the soil, struggling to come out into the light. It really makes me happy to know I had a hand in helping that happen. So even as I toiled over the garden yesterday, pulling weeds and pushing those silly little helicopter things (seeds from maple trees) off of the rows, my soul was bursting with joy to see each tiny little green sprout!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Welcome to my world...

So I have been thinking about blogging for a while now, and finally bit the bullet. I mean, I have a blog for my boy, but that's a little different. This is for ME. MY thoughts and musings and crazy, insane ramblings. Just mine. Is that a little selfish? Hmmmm...

So life is about to get insanely crazy-busy next week. I have recently started a business designing and creating custom window coverings, and that is taking off pretty well. I should be receiving 18 yards of fabric next week to get started on my first order. Nine windows. Nice to start small and go from there, eh? :) I'm also working with another family to find the perfect fabric, and then I will be working on two shades and cornices to match for them. I have people lined up after that, too. Talk about nuts!

Then, I start back at Caterpillar on Monday! Late last year, the Paralegal Manager had been asking if I was ready to start back to work yet. My response at that point was that it would depend on the money, hours, and job. Last Wednesday, I received a call from HR asking if I would be interested in a part-time temporary position! I interviewed on Tuesday, and HR called back yesterday to offer me the job! I go in for orientation Monday morning at 7:30 (UGH!!!), and then I report on Tuesday to my new boss. I get to make my own hours, which is totally awesome, and I will be working until October. I know very little about the position, except that I will be dealing with foreign patents--helping to maintain and file them. It should be really interesting work. I will be communicating with lots of people around the world. And anyone who knows me knows that I love to talk to people! It is a very detail-oriented job, but that's also something I enjoy. And my boss is super-laid-back!! My schedule will be Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of each week, and I think I pretty much get to make my own hours! I mean, really... does it get much better than this? I guess that remains to be seen. I will certainly let everyone know!

As if all of that wasn't enough, we're waiting to hear back from our local Honda dealership as to whether we can pick up our new Honda Civic EX (5-speed, 4-door, sunroof) tomorrow or if we will have to wait until Monday. With gas prices rapidly approaching $4.00/gallon, we have to get rid of at least one of our gas-guzzlers. Since the Durango is necessary to tow the fishing boat, that leaves the Jeep, which gets the same gas mileage as the much larger, much more practical Durango. Since we are trading the super-cool convertible, I insisted on having a sunroof. And going down to a 4-cylinder, a manual is a must. That way I know I will be able to get up and go whenever the need arises. Anyway, I hope we can pick it up tomorrow, since we are heading out of town to visit the in-laws and could use the break on the gas bill! Time will tell, I suppose.