Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankfulness, I Has It

Since I've been such a Negative Nellie and had such a craptastic attitude lately, I thought I would post some of the things I'm thankful for, (being as Thanksgiving is nigh) and get myself out of my funk.

By the way, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays (Halloween being first). What's not to love? A day that is nationally dedicated to getting families together to share a meal in the spirit of gratefulness. It can get pricey, but it doesn't have to be. There's no pressure to purchase gifts, not a lot of commercialness, and it involves wonderful food. I love it and I have so many fond memories of family gatherings at Thanksgiving.

I thought I would list some of the more obscure things I'm thankful for. Of course I'm thankful for the obvious ones too: family, friends, a home, a job, a car.

So here's my thankfulness list of things that I'm thankful for that are a bit different:

Car heaters, and cranking up the heat until it's like a rolling sauna. Even better if the sun is beaming in through the window. Because I'm always cold, this is a special treat for me, but no one else can stand it, so I can only do it when I'm alone.

Fuse beads (you place these little plastic beads on templates and then iron them and they fuse into a solid design) because they will keep my girls occupied for a good 2 hours straight.

Digital cameras. Seriously, they're magic.

My pets. They bring me so much joy, and they each have their own gentle soul. They teach us the basics of love. Plus they are four legged weather gauges. My little cat Mouse just came in and I reached down to pet her and realized it must have started to rain as the weather man predicted. Good job Mouse!

Glasses (the wearing kind, not the drinking kind). 'Nuff said.

Laughing fits. I love it when I'm with someone (especially my kids) and something funny happens and we laugh until our cheeks hurt and I end up snorting and actually crying which makes it even that much funnier, and then we forget what started us laughing in the first place because the actual laughing is so hilarious and contagious. Wow, I love that!

Days when I'm cozy in bed and having the alarm wake me up and then realizing that it's my day off and I can snuggle down and sleep as long as I want.

M&M's, especially if they're melty...mmmmm....

Calculators (math is NOT my strong suit!)

Minor daily miracles, like choosing to keep my mouth shut and realizing later I would've said something really stupid, or just by chance being in the right place at the right time, or having everything fall into place just like I planned, and like today's minor miracle: my son called and said he finally found a job (after about 2 months of searching), but that's not the miracle really, the miracle is that he got a job at Godiva Chocolates! I am one proud mama, let me tell you! And I've decided that I will have to visit him much more frequently now...when he's at work...and when there's free samples available...and maybe he'll give me the rejects that get dropped on the floor or that someone sneezes on...(ok I'm not really THAT bad...), but how cool is that?!

Have a very plentiful, wonderful, grateful Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Hate Money, It's the Root of All Stress

I thought I was doing ok with all this so-called "down-sizing" and losing our house and everything. Until Sis came home tonight and told me she needed $125 for soccer. Then all this money stress we've been going through came up and hit me smack in the face. I don't have it. I don't know when I'll have it. She may as well asked me for a million dollars at this stage of the game.

Then I went in the bedroom and cried for 15 minutes. Because I can't afford to pay for all the stuff my kids need, and because we lost our flippin' house, and because I have 2 jobs that pay crappy wages, and because Christmas is coming, and I think I officially hate Christmas now. What kind of attitude is that?

Lots of deep breathing followed this pity party, and nothing really changed. I just have to keep pulling myself up by the bootstraps and plug along, and hopefully, hopefully things will get better.

Sigh....money stinks.

Feeding Time !

Nat was feeding the guinea pigs carrots while they sat in her lap today.

Suey would like to be in Nat's lap too, feeding on the guinea pigs!

She's showing great restraint, but never takes her eyes off of them. She's come a long way since we first got them though! Can you say "obsessed"?

We certainly never take our eyes off her when the guinea pigs are out, but she is a really good girl.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Bridge is OK

One of the speakers at church today was relating a time when she listened to the Holy Ghost, and hastily left the bay area without making the stops they had planned. This particular day she was waiting for her husband in the car and said she kept watching the clock and something kept telling her they needed to leave right away.

The time was about 4:45 when he returned and she urged him to just get them home. She said they ended up going over a different bridge instead of over the Bay Bridge. This was October 17, 1989, the day the Loma Prieta quake hit the bay area at 5:04pm.

When she got home her neighbor tearfully told her that the Bay Bridge had "fallen down". Had she made a stop or gone the other route she would've been on the Bay Bridge at the fateful time of the big earthquake of 1989.

My girls, at the time this lady was speaking, were busily making paper boats out of Sacrament programs and putting their little plastic animals in them, but as soon as the speaker had said that the Bay Bridge had fallen down, Nat's face fell and she looked up at me on the verge of tears. She said, "You mean we can't visit Cam anymore?" I had to explain to her that this event happened many years ago and that they fixed the bridge and made it stronger so it wouldn't happen again.

Nat was very relieved to hear that! It was funny that I didn't even think she was listening, but she did hear that part and made the connection. It was just really sweet to see the concern she had for her brother. I hope that maybe she absorbed some of the lesson of listening to promptings as well.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Nature Walk Of Sorts

The girls were so cute today, they wanted to take the guinea pigs for a walk. They searched for something they could transport them in and finally found a basket for each.

Away we went with the dog and two baskets of pigs for a walk around the block.

The first thing we saw was an acorn woodpecker (I looked it up-and even found a picture).

He was on a telephone pole and the pole was just riddled with holes. In each of these holes was an acorn and the woodpecker was busily pounding another into a hole. It was pretty darned cool.

Then we met an older couple walking their dog. Nat asked them if they wanted to see the guinea pigs (she's famous for striking up conversations with people-just like her dad). The lady made a big fuss over them and I could tell she got a kick out of the girls and their little pets.

I think the guineas liked their little walk too. The girls sure love those two little rodents. They're very lucky critters in my opinion (plus they are super cute and very gentle, what's not to love).

A Hunting I Will Go

I've been job hunting recently. The job at the printing shop is driving me crazy. Two things about it in fact:

1. There's not much interaction with others. We each go to our respective area or machine and put our shoulders to the wheel until time's up. (oh and there are no windows so it's a bit depressing).

2. The boss' assistant who thinks she needs to micro-manage everyone and everything to feel important, including a press man who's been printing for 20 years. Everyone kind of cringes when she comes to the back of the shop. Usually she goes on a rant that wastes everyone's time but changes nothing. Grrrr.

I knew this job would be fairly temporary being that there's really no prospect of advancement and there are no benefits, but I was hoping I'd be able to stick with it longer than this. Oh well, lesson learned.

I applied to our local hospital for a patient registration position and interviewed on Tuesday. I didn't get the position, however. The lady that interviewed me said I did well and she encouraged me to apply again because she's expecting another position to open up. She also said she had 25 applicants and usually when she has an opening she has about 4 or 5 applicants. Apparently there are a lot of folks looking for work right now.

So yesterday I applied at our local Starbucks (did you know they offer benefits? I guess that's why their drinks are so expensive). I was a bit surprised when I came across this question: "What do you like most about coffee?" Well, since I don't drink it (or anything containing caffeine) and the few times I've tasted it I was appalled by the bitter, nasty taste, I thought quick and wrote, "The aroma". And it's not even a lie. I do indeed love the smell of it. I don't think I'm required to drink the stuff to work there, right?

Well, here's hoping something comes up soon that is a little more, um..., tolerable and decaffeinated.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How I Was Taught Empathy

I remember getting a stuffed animal for Christmas one year when I was probably 6ish. It was a beige dog that looked as if it were sleeping. For some reason I wasn't that thrilled with this little dog. It's head was a little floppy, and since it was sleeping, it didn't really lead to a lot of imaginative play.

My sister and I would usually get identical gifts when we were younger, but my sister seemed to like her floppy sleeping pup. When she caught on that I didn't really like mine, she taught me something I'll never forget.

That something was that even inanimate objects have feelings too.

My sister laid a guilt trip on me so thick about how this little dog was so sad that I didn't love it, and how all it wanted was some attention. The poor thing was just thrown aside and neglected and now it's feelings were deeply hurt. It couldn't help it if it was made sleeping and floppy, but it deserved to be loved just the same.

Well, I felt horrible after that! Who wouldn't? So I named this little dog "Puppy" (I was original with names like that) and slept with that stuffed animal for at least the next 6 years. That soft little animal was loved and cherished like no other because I felt so bad about how I had treated it at the beginning.

That was really typical of my sister. She has always felt bad for the spiders that get squashed to the flowers that get plucked. Everything has feelings and a soul to her. Her unique perspective has led her to do dog rescue and fostering, and to being a strict vegetarian.

Last year I came across a Dr Seuss book called What Was I Scared Of. I fell in love with it at first read. It reminded me so much of my sister that I had to get her a copy too.

This is one of Dr Seuss' books that's not that well known. It's about a dude (for lack of a better word for the Seuss character) who is just going about his business when he gets spooked by some "pale green pants with nobody inside them". It seems these pants are kind of stalking him when he's just going about his errands, and it's becoming more and more unnerving to him, so much so that he hides in a brickle bush for 2 nights straight.

The next thing you know this guy has to go to a gloomy field and pick a peck of snide, "then I reached inside a snide bush, and the next that I knew, I felt my hand touch someone, and I bet that you know who". And then there's my favorite line, "and there I was caught in the snide,
and in that dreadful place, those spooky empty pants and I were standing face to face".

And finally after much screaming and shrieking on the dude's part, this happens, "but then a strange thing happened, why those pants began to cry, those pants began to tremble, they were just as scared as I" because, "...I was just as strange to them, as they were strange to me."

Then the best part (the part that channels my sister), "I put my arm around their waist, and sat right down beside them. I calmed them down, poor empty pants with nobody inside them." Gosh, I really felt for those pants! It's hard to make friends when you're just a pair of pale green pants with nobody inside you!

It all ends happily with the Seuss-dude and the empty pants smiling and being friendly whenever they cross each other's paths after that.

Thanks, Big Sis for teaching me empathy. Stuffed puppies, empty pants, spiders, I've never seen them the same way since.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


We're trying to get the last of the stuff out of the old house and down here to the new house this weekend.

There was no push to get out of the old house so we've been kind of dragging our feet. Ya know sometimes when you move and you have to be out of your old place and into your new one in a weekend? Well, we didn't have that pressure to get it done, and I was glad, but now I'm thinking it would've been better to have been motivated to do it all at once, because now it's getting to be a drag.

There are some adjustments going from about 1800 square feet of living space to 1050 square feet. Especially when the kitchen is MUCH smaller. Luckily we have a large garage off the kitchen which is becoming the kitchen storage overflow with the use of a bookshelf and a cabinet (that there wasn't any room for inside the house anyway).

The other adjustment has been the master bedroom closet. I had an entire closet to myself at the other house and about half of it was filled with bellydance costuming, so now Mike and I are fighting for what little space there is and trying to figure out a creative solution (that doesn't look hokey. Sorry Mike!)

We now live on a street with a sidewalk, and we have an actual mailbox in front. We've had a post office box for the last 20 years, so this is really weird. It took me a few days to remember to even check it.

And now that I'm within walking distance of one of my jobs (my Monday through Friday gig) I have been late twice! How embarrassing is that? I know it only takes a couple of minutes to get there so I end up just doing that one more thing that makes me late by a minute or two. We always have a production meeting first thing so I can't even sneak in and get away with no one noticing. In fact the boss loves to greet late-comers with, "Good afternoon!"

I hoping the adjustment period is near it's end and that I'll feel completely settled soon. Now for more unpacking....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pigs In Love

If you are interested in owning a guinea pig, please check out these sites FIRST and read up on their care http://www.cavyspirit.com/ and http://www.guinealynx.info/ .

Well, because I didn't have enough going on what with moving, working two jobs, taking care of my kids, going to visit Kathy in San Francisco, etc. I decided we needed to adopt another guinea pig in the middle of it all.

I've been looking for a companion for Moe, our guinea pig, since I read up on them and found out that they are used to living in herds and are happier having a friend. Far be it from me to deprive my pet of happiness, so I started trying to find another pig.

Well, a lady at church said they had a guinea pig that she wanted to find a home for because her daughter didn't pay any attention to it anymore. She said they moved it out into the barn so at least it could be around the rabbits (that they raise for 4H) for company. That did it for me, because when I was reading about guineas it also said they shouldn't be kept in cold, drafty places, and I couldn't stand the thought of this poor pig out in a barn.

So we had the Great Guinea Pig Rescue on the Sunday after the big move.

When we went to go get this little piggy, we found her in an open barn in a metal rabbit cage (my reading told me GP's also shouldn't be kept in that kind of cage, because unlike rabbits, it will deform their feet). She was just a sweetheart from the moment she was handed over to us.

Needless to say, Moe was very happy to have a companion and the newly re-named Guinea Girl Gidget was happy to have a warm cage and lots of fresh veggies. We also soon found out what the guinea pig mating call sounds like! (Kind of like a load purr).

I didn't want to get a female, because it's not my intention to have guinea babies, let alone contribute to the pet population when there are so many that need homes already, but the former owners said that this guinea pig had babies a few years ago and then they tried to breed her a couple other times and nothing happened. Here's hoping we have an infertile pig. (Especially since I priced guinea pig neutering and it runs around $200!)

We sure love little Gidget. She loves to be held, and since her arrival, a formerly shy and hard to catch Moe has gotten very social as well (he'd rather be held and be with his girl than to be left in the cage by himself).

Last Sunday the girls held a wedding for Moe and Gidget, complete with formal attire

and Nat's hamster Otis officiating.

The happy couple then enjoyed a lovely wedding banquet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Long Lost Pen Pals, at Long Last Reunite

In the summer of '75, when I was 11, a new girl moved in a few houses down. My friends and I were curious about this new-comer, and finally we approached her and made friends.

Turns out she was from Wisconsin and was visiting her older sister for a month in California. Well, despite the fact that Kathy was 13 and closer in age to my sister (who was 14), we became fast friends. I remember hanging out in her sister's house. Her sister had an amazing collection of plants, plus one of those cool wicker chairs that hung from the ceiling (it was the '70s after all).
Kathy also introduced me to the wonders of yard sale-ing. I was amazed at what I could buy for a mere quarter.

We spent a lot of time together that summer. It sure felt longer than one month. After Kathy left and went back home to Wisconsin, we were dedicated pen pals. We kept in touch through high school, marriages, kids, you name it. Once in a while we would call, but mostly we wrote letters.

We saw each other once, for a day, when Kathy and her family were out visiting her sister again. Her sister had since moved to the bay area and I had moved from my home town, but we managed to both travel and get together and introduce our kids to one another. That was in 1996.

Kathy and I are not so much pen pals anymore. We email and call occasionally, but somehow we still manage to stay close. She let me know about a month ago that she would be out visiting her sister once again in November. I told her we HAD to make a point of getting together again.

I drove down to San Francisco on the 3rd of November and met Kathy at her sister's home. It was so strange, but not for reasons that you might think. The strange thing is that it wasn't strange at all. No awkwardness. I felt like I had just seen her yesterday and not over a decade ago. She said she felt the same way. It was really nice actually.

We had a great time despite the rainy and blustery weather. We ate Mexican food, did some sight seeing at Crissy Field,

ducked into a coffee shop,

and peeked into some fun boutiques. Later her sister fixed home made pizza while we sat around and chatted.

What a wonderful day, and what a blessing to have such a close bond to this friend who lives so many miles away.

I'm a Sap

I cried watching High School Musical 3 today. A total, absolute sap, that's me.

I got the day off being that it's Veteran's Day and the kids didn't have school. It was high time we saw the new High School Musical movie, so we grabbed one of Shelby's good friends, and off we went.

The kids in the movie are now in their senior year and are going to their last prom and putting together their last musical and preparing to go off to different colleges, and say goodbye, and sniff, sniff, I got all sentimental and started sobbing. Sheesh!

I started thinking about this being Sis's senior year, and how most of her class she's known since preschool, and how I've watched all those kids grow up together, and she's going to have her last prom, and everyone's going to go off to different colleges, and have to say goodbye, and sniff, there I went again. Wah!

I also thought about my high school experience and how horrible it was and how I never went to a prom, or fit in, and missed out on so much, then I really had a pity party and started crying again!

Yeah, I'm a complete sap. I did really enjoy the movie though. Especially when Gabriella and Troy waltzed on the rooftop...sniff, sniff, sob!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Small But Mighty Primary Program

Well, we did our Primary Sacrament Presentation today. The Primary President put me in charge of it this year.I was pretty proud of Nat. The last two years she has refused to participate, but this year she was very much into it (she loves a microphone--who knew?!)

I had to get up at the beginning and say a little something. No small feat for me. Public speaking is not something I relish--I don't get up and give my testimony, and I've turned down the Bishop when asked to do a talk for Sacrament, I've said a prayer twice, but that's it. I try to avoid getting up in front of the congregation at all costs.

I decided to just kind of wing it instead of write out something. First I had to brag a little that my children made up a full 1/3 of the Primary (we only have 6 girls in our whole Primary class). Then I decided to relay my own experience in Primary (here it is in a nutshell): I was born into the church but we quit going when I was 11, so the next 27 years I was completely inactive, but because of the strong foundation Primary gave me, I always considered myself a Mormon, I chose not to smoke or drink, and when I would attend other churches I would come away thinking, "that was nice, but there was just something missing". I told how I felt that the teachings were in my heart, even though I couldn't recall specifics, and because of my strong testimony of Primary, it eventually led me back to church. And then I added how it was kind of funny that when I did come back to church that they gave me a calling to teach Primary, so I was kind of right back where I left off.

The kids did a fantastic job, reading their parts and singing. I saw quite a few folks dabbing their eyes. There's just something about a group of sweet little girls singing about Jesus that is very heartwarming. We have one little almost 4-year-old who literally was belting out the songs. I'll give her credit though, she knew almost every word to every song. Too cute.

The Primary President and I had so many folks come up to us afterward and tell us that was the best program yet. We had visitors from Washington that told us that they had been to 3 other wards during their travels and seen other Primary Programs but ours was the best. It was really gratifying to know that our small group of girls touched so many with their sweet spirits.

One gentleman in our ward (my former home teacher) lost his grown son exactly a week ago today, and the funeral was yesterday. He really looked like the weight of the world was on his shoulders as I saw him sitting in the congregation, but as the girls got up and sang and recited scriptures I really saw the light come back into his eyes and saw him smiling. I was very touched that these children could bring him some joy after he suffered such a great loss. He made a point of coming up to me afterward and saying how much it meant to him. He was actually the one who gave me my calling in Primary and he didn't know until today how perfect that calling was for me.

I was really proud to be a part of the program and extremely proud of each and every one of the girls in our very small Primary.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Brief Update

Halloween--need to post about that later and post the photos as well.

Saturday (November 1) a group of about 10 men from the Elder's Quorum at church showed up on Saturday at 9am to help us move. By 10:30am we were unloading at our new place. I have never seen a house empty out so fast. I've moved a lot, and this by far was the easiest and fastest! Kudos to the Elder's Quorum!

Now to get everything to fit. We went from 1800 square feet to just over 1000. I do believe another yard sale is in order!

Sunday Shel came down with a sore throat, and was diagnosed with Strep throat on Monday. Now Nat and I have the creeping crud, but it doesn't seem like Strep--yet.

Monday I got together with a long lost friend in San Francisco. That's a whole post in itself!

We moved the cats down to the new place on Tuesday--howling and yowling the whole way. My little feral cat Mouse, whom I was so worried about, made the move fairly easily and is adjusting well. Opie, our kitty boy, is happy to be with us too. I'm sure they were wondering where we and all our belongings went!

We adopted a guinea pig on Sunday---again I think that's a whole other post for you critter lovers.

We're still getting odds and ends out of the old house (we have lots of time, but it looks like the short sale is going to go through ok, and we'll be out from under it soon!)

We're getting ready for our big Primary Sacrament presentation for Sunday at church (which I'm in charge of this year!) Looks like Nat will actually participate this year. I have to give a talk though---eek! (At least it's just a short talk at the beginning, but still!)

We should have DSL by Monday. Goodness, I've missed my blog and internet!