Monday, December 17, 2012


Last week, two horrible things happened; one nearby, one in another state.

Locally, a man(child - imo) walked into a mall and opened fire in the food court. Luckily, he knew nothing about the gun he stole (plus the fact that it jammed), and "only" (I use that word lightly) killed two people. He also injured just one other. Rumor has it that a man with a concealed carry license confronted him, just before the man(child) shot himself.

In Connecticut, a man(child) stole guns from his mother (guns she LEGALLY owned, and according to her best friend, had for protection, since she lived alone), shot her, then shot out the glass of a locked front door to an elementary school, and killed 6 adults, and 20 1st graders. He also shot himself.

Oregon's gun laws are "middle of the road" compared to other states -- no waiting period for the gun itself, background check is required, no criminal history, etc. However, there are also federal laws in place that are more strict. There is no such thing as "gun control" when it comes to criminals; "stricter laws" or "more laws" won't stop them from buying anything they want. I don't care if you disagree with me or not, but people kill with all sorts of things.

MANY things are illegal; that does not stop criminals from getting them. Are you honestly telling me that *I* shouldn't own a gun because someone might break into my house, steal it, and kill me & my family with it? That's one of the most ridiculous things I've heard recently.

I will tell you the same thing that I've said on my FB page -- "We will not hide. We will not live in fear; tragedy happens everywhere & the moment you let the fear control you is the moment that "they" win." I WILL own a gun (handgun, rifle, maybe both), I WILL be able to protect my family, and I WILL NOT RUN SCARED!

Many people have talked about homeschooling their kids because of this -- I will NOT! Many people decided to keep their kids home today -- I will NOT! Many people shamed those parents who allowed their children to talk to the press -- I would have allowed it, myself! Many people have said, "Let's put in bulletproof glass, hire security, etc..." Are YOU going to pay for that? We can't even keep art & music in school because the people refuse to pay for it!

And, even if we did ALL of this, it won't stop. I encourage you to read this article, if you haven't yet. I encourage you to see that our children, our soldiers, and our spouses sometimes NEED MENTAL HEALTH help and aren't getting it. WE need to be their advocates and do what we can to get them the help they need BEFORE it leads to massacre.

And, above all, I encourage you to LIVE YOUR LIFE! Send your children to school, finish your Santamas shopping, go to work... Don't live in fear, and hide under the covers.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Ace was finally able to finish sanding down "that little hump" (one that turned into almost a month's worth of weekends full of cement dust and very sore backs, necks, & shoulders). This means we can move forward!! We are now ready to call the flooring people. My job, tomorrow if I don't get a client, is to make the floor plan (with a huge roll of construction paper), so we know exactly how to cut the vinyl.

We also went through Angie's List to try to find someone to finish the drywall/taping/mudding/sanding/painting, and someone for the tile job... but they either didn't return our calls or they did, but aren't taking new projects right now. Fine... still don't want to go through a GC, so as I drive to & from work, I take note of specialty trucks with those two businesses on them. We'll check them out, and find SOMEone; hopefully soon.

In holiday-related news, a lot of the ex's family members no longer are in my address book... After years of sending a card (and most of them got a photo of Princess, too) without any acknowledgement, I removed them all from my book last year. When I asked Princess if she wanted to send a card to her father in the envelope with her photo (since he didn't have school photos taken -- which she doesn't like doing for him, anyway -- I am giving him the spare 10" X 13" I got in a package deal), she made a face & whined.

I said, "Is that a no?" She said, "Blah" and grumbled something. I said, "Why don't you want to send your father a card?" She answered, "Because then I have to write 'To Dad', and he's just not." I asked, "He's not your dad?" She said, "Well, he's my blood dad, but he's not my dad who's there all the time. Papa is." "Oh... I get it. Ok. Your choice." Yet another sign of his failures to her...

Regardless, I still have a huge stack of cards to get to; about half of which get pics (and I haven't cut them yet!)... so, off I go!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Give Thanks

Last year's list. This year's list:

1. My friends, old & new.
2. My animals. We lost Roxie this past year, and that crushed me...
3. My home; paid off completely five years ago, and almost done being upgraded (just gotta finish up the bathroom).
4. My career, the success I'm having with it, & the flexibility it gives me for home life.
5. My clients, old & new.
6. My SKs. Gamerboy has come a LONG way in the last year; he's mature, responsible, smart, and has plans for his life. Squeeks is still struggling with her mother; we just continue to offer support. Only six and a half months until she can get out from under the thumb of that woman.
7. My husband. We've been through some crap, I'll tell you. But, he's my rock, and he works very hard to make sure we're well taken care of. He's working today because he can. Holidays aren't necessarily celebrated on their designated days... and that's okay.
8. My daughter. In her 13 years of life (so far), she's had some terrible things happen to her; things no one should ever have to go through. In spite of everything, she is happy, healthy, and very loved; and she knows it.
9. Food on my table. There are a lot of people who go hungry. I am not one of them.
10. My health, and that of those around me.
11. My beautiful nieces, Bug & Firefly. Those two continue to amaze me. They are smart, and oh so sweet to each other, and adore their cousin!
12. My mother. She is way too nosey, smothers my daughter (& me) at times, & pisses me off on a regular basis... but life without her in it would never be the same.
13. My parents. My dad & smom are wonderful people. They raised us to be self-sufficient, independent, loving, & responsible people. We all have become successful because of their gentle pushes during our childhood.
14. The rest of my family -- "adopted", married-in, &/or birthed. MWAH!
15. Facebook -- for helping me to find lost friends and family I didn't even know existed.
16. Chocolate & coffee -- two things I wouldn't want to ever have to give up.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Many friends have told me lately that I have "the patience of a saint". I don't look at it that way, but I can see why they'd say that - we've been without a bathroom for many months. A few have even said something to the effect of "I would have hired a pro by now." Well, it's a good thing they aren't married to my husband.
Here's the thing: Would you REALLY have? Would you have called the pros in, essentially telling your husband that you don't have faith in his abilities to get the job done? Who cares if it takes longer doing it yourselves than it would take a pro? It also costs a LOT less. I'd rather take more time trying to get as much done as we can do ourselves, then when we've decided we can't or don't want to do any more, THAT'S when we call in the pros.
Which is where we're at now. After two failed attempts at laying down the leveling compound (I believe the manufacturers are in cahoots with flooring installers; the directions on the bags are NOT accurate), we called the company we bought our flooring from, and they sent out their installer to do it for us.
At this point, Ace started contemplating the oncoming winter weather, and his own skills, and decided it's time to call in the pros. However, we're NOT hiring a GC; we want specific small/local company(ies) who can finish the work. We're almost done. All that is left is: finish installing floor, install cabinets & toilet, install Hardibacker & tile, & finish the drywall/tape/mud/paint.... and the only things we want a pro to do is the floor, tile work, & tape/mud (maybe paint). The rest we can, & will, do ourselves.
So, now we are on the hunt... With the help of Angie's List, we will soon find a pro or two to finish our bathroom, knowing that we did most of it ourselves.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I Have A Teenager

I've said it time and again... it's not my birthdays that make me feel old, it's hers. This year was no different, as far as that goes. However, this is the first year we didn't have some sort of party. Princess decided that, with our bathroom under construction (on hold at the moment), a sleepover wasn't a good idea... so she asked if I would mind taking her & a couple of her friends to a movie.

Monday of this past week, Ace & I went grocery shopping, and among necessities, grabbed steaks & asparagus for Princess' (requested) birthday dinner, which we ate on Tuesday. At this point, we had cards from some family members and a few packages.

Tuesday morning, a bunch of her friends had decorated her locker with cards, wrapping paper, ribbon, balloons, a big bow, and nice hand-written messages (awesome), but after 1st period, the Leadership kids took it down & put their own (boring one) up.

The girls got all upset & complained to Ms. M (the Leadership teacher). Apparently, the Leadership team wasn't supposed to tear down an existing one (they're only supposed to put something up if no one else did), so she was going to have a talk with them. She, of course, apologized, but it was too late at that point.

Anyway, I picked her up from school that afternoon, and we went back to the store for cake stuff. I also bought her some flowers to help make up for the balloons getting thrown away. We then made rainbow cupcakes, which turned out AWESOME!

She opened her gifts -- some cash/checks/college funds, neon clothing, Amazon gift card, brown fuzzy boots, and her favorite: her very own laptop -- then we set up her Facebook, which I promised she could have when she turned 13y. Now, for the record, she is only allowed to add people she truly knows AND LIKES; FB can be fun but it can also be problematic. I have full access to it and she runs everything she does past me.

Last week, I had posted (only half-joking), "I'm taking bets... Will **'s SD & the Wildebeest follow through with gifts for her birthday? Will they show up today or tomorrow... or next week... or never? If they do get her stuff, will any of it follow the guidelines I gave?" Many "close friends" (the only people who saw this status) put in their two cents. Most assumed there either wouldn't be gifts (oh, no... there are always birthday gifts; just not always Santamas gifts!) or they would be (a) late and (b) ill-fitting clothing.

On Wednesday, we found out... there was a gift bag on my porch. I have to be honest; it creeps me out knowing that they were here when no one else was. I am seriously considering a restraining order to keep them both away from my home, my work, Princess's school, me, & Princess. Next time, there could be a bomb in that bag...

So, I looked in it, to make sure it was safe, and brought it in the house. Then I texted the SD: "While I appreciate that you guys bought presents for M*******, please don't come over to my house again. In the future, gifts from you & your family can be mailed." I got: "Sorry but you stopped taking my calls so I had no way to communicate w her" in response. I said: "Mail is perfectly acceptable. And, I didn't stop taking your calls, M******* did."

Then, he got more irritating: "Yea sure she did. You had nothing to do with it right". I simply responded: "I'm not going to argue with you. Just don't show up to my house anymore." Having to get in the last word, he said: "Don't keep my kid from me anymore." At this point, I chose to ignore him. I find it so much easier these days to do that... and I know that it pisses him off when I do.

If he truly wanted to have parenting time again, he'd follow the court orders TO THE LETTER, but apparently, that's outside of his skill set... Five years after HE kidnapped our daughter, he's never apologized to her, and he still blames me for how she feels about him. Whatever. I know that someday, she will tell him face to face how she feels. He'll still blame me, but that's his problem, not mine.

Anyway, she opened the gifts in the car {they actually surprised me... a tee that fits, the rainboots I asked for in the correct (next up) size, a game from her Amazon list, a pair of mesh gloves (she has a long blue pair; these are a short black pair), a travel Truth or Dare game (an appropriate version), and her 7yo half-sister & 17yo step-sister wrote her nice notes.}, on our way to her first REAL massage appointment. Hallie at my salon offered to do a "teen" massage; 15m less time for $15 less than her one-hour fee.

After her massage, we went to Sushi Zen for dinner and Baskin Robbins for dessert... and today, she is getting a teen facial (from my esthetician/friend). She gave me a really squeezy hug this morning, and said, "This is the best birthday ever, mom. Thank you." THAT made it all worth it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Five Years Later

If you're newish to this information, or you just need/want a refresher, please read this first.

This past year, Princess' bio & SM have kept their distance; physically & emotionally... and this is good. The last time we saw her bio was November 5th; her last soccer game (ever). He brought her two younger half-sisters, and some birthday presents. As usual, none of the clothing fit (even though I specifically gave sizing when asked).

I had her call him on Santamas, and he told her he had presents for her... but nothing ever came. She wasn't disappointed, as she never really expected them to. Although he never came to her Spring activity (hip hop classes), she freaked about the possibility of him/them coming to her 6th grade grad ceremony. I told her that *she* had to be the one to tell him not to come... which she did. I was so proud of her for standing firm with him on that.

Over the summer, nothing from them (except a couple of partial c.s. payments -- shocker!). In July, I sent an email stating that I signed her up for cheerleading, and I included the link to the website & calendar for that. In September, I got a whiny email that her schedule wasn't on there. Yes, it was; you just have to know how to read a calendar (here's a hint -- in Junior Cheer, "JV" equals 7th grade)... I ignored it.

Oh, and that letter? She wrote it, but I refused to send it. She is so angry... and rightly so. She called him names, & said that she wanted him to leave her alone & go away forever... so much more. I felt that it wouldn't do any good to send it (they'd probably just ignore it, telling themselves that I *made* her write it), but just her writing it was enough for now. She also told me she doesn't want him emailing or calling/texting her, so I haven't given him any of that information, either.

Here's my current dilemma, though. She's about to turn 13y... and I told her a couple years ago that she could have a FB page when she turned 13y... But, she doesn't want anything to do with her bio or his family. So, do I preemptively block as many of them as I can find when I create her page? Or, do I just deny any friend requests that come her way? I'll already have it mostly locked down, anyway... and of course, just like her email & other online accounts, I'll have full access.

As far as the money goes... tax return money was paid in, but never paid out. However, I have gotten some payments. I'm willing to bet that he was threatened with losing his license &/or jail time if he didn't pay; I've gotten some $50 payments & some $100 payments (for a total of $580 in the past year -- remember, it's supposed to be $100/month). His current c.s. is "only" $7764.12 in arrears, but remember; that mistakenly counts the payments made from their taxes, but that I never received, and doesn't count the attorney fees he's NEVER MADE ONE PAYMENT TOWARD.

OH! He never did end up volunteering last year... I guess Princess' teacher had him as one of the "class parents". He was (on paper) to do only email/phone stuff (nothing in-class, for Princess' protection & feeling of safety), but Mr M never ended up using him. This year, I made sure that he can't even have access to her. The school requires you to check in with them before you can do anything. To have access to a child, you must: (a) be on the approved list, and (b) show ID. The only two people on Princess' list, per my instructions, are me & Ace.

Last week, I got an email (signed with HIS name, but we all know SHE wrote it), asking about Princess' upcoming birthday. I sent very specific instructions, sizes, etc (as I have in the past, and they've rarely listened to). Honestly, Princess doesn't want anything from them... Regardless, it'll be interesting to see what, if anything, they end up getting her, and how it gets here (if it fits, it ships!).

So, five years from the abduction, and my Princess is still not okay. I've said it before, & I'll say it again: "It was their own selfishness that got him into this situation... and it will be complete selfLESSness that will get him out." Although, as time goes by, I give less credence to the thought that it'll ever be okay again.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Support Your Local Mom/Friend

Here's something (one of many, believe me) that I don't understand. How can you call yourself a friend, but not act like it? Why are things sometimes made into a competition? Flat out truth -- I am not competing with YOU; I only compete with MYSELF! You should too.

This happened last week: I posted a status about finally getting to sleep in because I didn't have a morning client (originally, I had planned to go to Princess' conferences, so I took Friday morning off... decided Thursday to just go that night before taking Princess to her friend's for a sleepover). My exact status said, "Slept 'til 8a... ahhhhhhh!" Comments ranged from telling me what time other people got up, to a couple that were downright rude.

Two that hit me hard were comments about me not being part of the "real mom club" because I don't get up at 5am like them (actually, quite a few of my friends get up that early & I feel badly for them), and some crack about how they could choose their own hours, but doing so around their kids is frowned upon. WTF!

Why am I being negatively judged because I *CHOSE* to have ONE kid instead of four or five; some with EVERY man they marry or even sleep with (like SOME people I know). Because I went back to school to do something I absolutely love where I'm lucky enough to be able to choose my own hours based upon my family (& that ONE kid) obligations. Where I don't have to be at work at "zero dark thirty" (as my dad used to call it)? Where my husband is no longer wondering which wife he'll come home to, because loving what I do & how I do it makes me happy?

I AM a real mom, as is EVERY mom out there who is doing what she needs to for her family; stay at home, work at home, work away from home, or some combo thereof. As a GOOD friend, you should be supporting your mom friends, not tearing them down because you have a different lifestyle than they do (whether you chose it yourself or not). Life is hard enough; friendship isn't a competition... don't make it out to be one.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Educational Update

Progress reports came out Thursday, September 27th:

Social Science -- B
PE -- A- (missed class hadn't been made up yet)
Advance Pre-Algebra -- A+
Culture Through Cooking -- A
Science -- B
Language Arts -- B-

Midterm reports came out with conferences, dated through October 16th:

Social Science -- D
PE -- A
Advance Pre-Algebra -- A
Culture Through Cooking -- A
Science -- B
Language Arts -- B

Um, what? A "D"?!?! Not my daughter... I stood in lines to see all her teachers except Cooking (she has an A, and it was getting late); Social Science was the last one because it was really long. Even her math teacher saw it on my paper and said, "What the heck, M*******?!?!" We were all pretty confused. Got up to her teacher, and he said, "Oh, no. She has a B; I must have put the other girl's grade on her report." Seems there's another girl with her same last name; spelled the same. Thank you for the almost-heart attack, Mr. S! Also, Princess thanks you; she was about to be grounded from life.

Couple of things to note -- Not one teacher told me that she "is very social" (translation -- talks in class too much). That was an issue for a few years in grade school, but seems to be less so in middle school (yay). Almost all her teachers, however, did comment on her test-taking. That seems to be an issue across the board, so I know it's not topic-specific. In grade school, it was simple a matter of needing to slow down. This year, I think it's that, plus not fully comprehending the material. Her science teacher *did* tell me that he makes it VERY difficult to get an A in his class, but I'd still like her to get her barely-B up to a higher percentage...

Oh, and this year, she bought a yearbook; I sent the check for that the same time that I ordered her (tiny, as always) picture packet (I usually only order the bare minimum, so she has a few to give to friends, and she can get the class photo... although, being in middle school, there's no class photo anymore, so now it's all about getting a pic for the yearbook she's purchasing).

I was worried her bio (or his worse half) would do as they've done in the past, and send in a retake form, trying to force her to take a second photo... that would mean her education is interrupted, and I'd have to make yet another phone call to Lifetouch to make sure the yearbook photo would be the one *I* paid for, not the one *he* made her take.

So, this year, I told her she has the right to refuse to have them taken. To back her up, I also sent a letter to the school. It basically said that I didn't want her to be forced to take retakes, and that if there were any issues, they could call me (I was at work). My phone never rang, so when she texted me that she was on the bus, I asked about retakes.

She said, "Nothing happened, thank goodness." So, with her permission, I decided that I will send her bio an extra photo I have from the Portrait Innovations package I got. They now give you two 10" X 13" pics, and I only need one. Hope he appreciates it, and that in the future he either coordinates with me to buy just one package together, or to take what I'm able to give him from the P.I. set (I like them MUCH better than Lifetouch... and they're so much cheaper, too!).

Friday, September 28, 2012

Putting Walls Up... Literally

If you haven't been following along via my FB posts & pics, here's the latest on our bathroom. Over the last few weeks, we've made a lot of progress. The up side is, we're saving a ton of money doing a lot of the work ourselves. The down side is, everything takes longer when you do it yourself (as well as when you find crappy repair work from the previous owners).

We decided the damaged decking didn't need replacing. I talked to my older bro (who used to be a general contractor in the area) and he said that if they're 75% or more "good", they don't need to be replaced. Since we were a little concerned that the subfloor wouldn't attach to the damaged wood, Ace decided to scoop out the damage, and fill it back in with some bonding/leveling compound. That, alone, took over a week, because each VERY THIN layer has to dry for six hours before another can be applied.

While he worked on that, we also got the subfloor trimmed out (nothing's attached, yet, though) and all the drywall cut & hung (that we can for now, anyway -- can't cover the "wet wall", or anywhere in the alcove yet). Once the ceiling was drywalled, the room stayed a lot cooler; making it easier for Ace to keep working (doesn't seem to bother me as much as it does him). Keep in mind, Ace and I are both working our real jobs while we're working on the bathroom. One of the days I worked last week, I stopped by Ferguson again. We're leaning toward a tub/shower hardware set we found there, but haven't committed yet. Ace's biggest issue with that is that nothing is made 100% of metal anymore. This set I found is about 50%.

Somewhere in all of this, the tub was delivered. And, by "delivered", I mean that Ace had to meet the semi they sent at HD up the street, which we had told them wouldn't fit when they called to confirm delivery, but they sent anyway. He couldn't fit the boxed tub in the back of our SUV, so he took it out of the box, and inspected for damage. All good, the semi driver helped him load it into the back of the 4Runner.

We got notice from the (non-food) dump up the road that they were reinstating their "free dump" policy for the area, up to 4 truckloads per year. However, for all of our bathroom debris (sitting on a large tarp in our backyard at this point), we'd have to rent a large truck ($19.95 from HD; I think you get it for four hours, but I could be wrong). So, we just sucked it up, and rented a large dumpster, which we had for five days. We also let our neighbors put some things in, because we knew we wouldn't fill it by ourselves (but the next size down was too small).

So, now we're at the stage where we need a plumber. We decided that the best route would be to have him fix the plumbing under the house for the toilet, then get the pipes/etc done for the new tub, as well as see if we need to move vanity plumbing, and do that if necessary. Can't get the plumber here until we decide on hardware. Time for Ace to make the final decision on that...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

WARNING -- Political Post

For the most part, I try to stay out of "discussions" regarding political issues... simply because, for the most part, these "discussions" generally turn into "rantings & name-calling". Quite a few of my friends, some long-term even, have forgotten their manners when it comes to posting their own political opinions/agendas - specifically on Facebook. When I *do* state my opinion, I have been personally attacked... and some people even believe I have certain beliefs/leanings that I don't actually have. Assume much?

All that said, here are just a few of my beliefs (not open for ranting, name-calling, or changing of my opinion):

1. I am Pro- Choice. Contrary to popular thought, this does NOT make me "Pro Abortion". I do not believe in abortion as a birth control method, but stuff happens in life, and sometimes, you just don't want a child because you, or someone else, effed up & made a mistake. To answer someone's question -- If my daughter got pregnant (whether it was by choice, by stupidity, or by force), it is HER decision ALONE to make, but I would fully support her if she chose to get an abortion.
2. I am Pro- state's rights. The Federal Government has their hands in far too many things where they don't belong. The Constitution specifically supports this, and we've gotten too far away from it.
3. I am Pro- medical marijuana legalization. It has been proven, time & again, that marijuana has true medicinal purposes... and not just for glaucoma. It assists with nausea (caused by MANY medical problems, as well as pregnancy, btw) and pain relief (migraines, Fibromyalgia, chronic back pain, and much more), just to name a few. IMO, it should be regulated & distributed under the same laws & requirements of other prescription meds.
4. I am Pro- marriage equality. I don't call it "gay rights" because the issue, to me, is one of being equal, not one of being gay or not. And, no, you can't call it "Civil Union"; that's retarded. That would mean everyone, like me, who didn't get married in a church, by a religious figure (priest, minister, etc) would have to have their Marriage Licenses revoked, and reissued as a "Civil Union License." That is a waste of government (and by that, I mean THE PEOPLE's) money. I don't give a rat's f*ck what your religious beliefs are... YOU don't have the RIGHT to tell EVERYONE how to live their lives. If you don't like it, then don't have one. Marriage, and all the rights & struggles that come with it, should be granted to everyone.
5. I am Pro- Health Rights (specifically, Women's... more specifically, Planned Parenthood; currently being threatened by some people in governmental position of power). Planned Parenthood's government subsidies saved my life, and granted me the ability to have a baby... when *I* wanted to. Again, just because your religious beliefs state that you are against something doesn't mean you get to take away MY right to choose what I need to do for my own health. BCP are expensive, and I think some people forget that not everyone who takes them are using them for birth control. FTR, I take them to control my ovarian cysts (Did you know those can burst & I could die, if I wasn't able to keep them under control with BCP?) While I don't think the federal government should be completely covering the costs of these, I *do* think anyone who needs to take them should have access to them for a reasonable cost. And, while I'm at it, why do the "forces that be" forget that MEN are part of this "sex thing" too? Government subsidies for condoms, BCP & other birth control methods, vasectomies, hysterectomies, etc should exist, on a sliding fee scale... and yes, I think abortion due to rape/incest/mother's life in jeopardy should be counted within this.
6. I am Pro- government assistance programs as they were intended originally -- TO ASSIST; short-term. The whole system needs an overhaul, but on the whole, I am against living off of the system instead of working hard (like SOME people I know). I think there needs to be a dollar amount cap, or a time frame cap (two years, at most!). I don't believe in people sitting on their butts, &/or working under the table, to avoid garnishments. I don't believe in people having more children to continue to stay on the system. And I will NEVER understand those gov't employees who find ways for those who don't really need the system to stay on the system.
This is not, by any means, a complete list, but that's all I can think of at this moment...

One last thing: I am not specifically Pro-Obama at this point (leaning more towards another candidate, actually -- and I don't believe it's "throwing my vote away" either; I vote my conscience. Always have, always will), but I *am* ANTI-Romney; he's a complete idiot, but more importantly, he believes quite the opposite on a lot of what I believe in.

Friday, September 21, 2012

BTS & Tag

Last night was a parent meeting for TAG students. The meeting was very informative, and I'm hoping that this will just expand Princess' opportunities to push herself further, or delve deeper, into certain subject matter. They will also have opportunities for substitute projects, if they choose to pre-test, and pass with 85% or more, where & when available.

Her grade school teachers always saw her as exceptional, and helped keep her interest by giving her the next grade level work to do. As a 6th grader, she and a few others had "independent" study to work ahead in math, and now as a 7th grader, she's in Advanced Pre-Algebra (obviously getting her math skills from me).

It was also Back To School night, and that was a lot more interesting... We basically had 7 minutes in each classroom (long enough for the teacher to tell you a little about the class, what they expect, how things run, etc), then 4m in between to get to each one. There is music at the 3m mark (a warning; kind of like the lights flashing during intermission at a play), then a "ding" at the 4m mark (you'd better be in your seat!).

Princess was highly entertaining; she's a fast walker, and apparently is quite popular already (no doubt assisted by her role as a Youth Cheerleader). About half her classes are upstairs, and the other half are downstairs, so (including PE every day this term, and cheer three times a week) she gets a fair amount of exercise each day -- yay.

Her teachers all seem pretty cool -- math teacher has a cool arm tattoo, language arts teacher has such a love for Edgar Allan Poe that she leaves her regular lights off and has her whole room decorated like it's Halloween all year 'round, her cooking teacher teaches them about different cultures through cooking, her advisory teacher has a nice calm demeanor, etc -- that I could only find one thing I didn't like. Her advisory teacher used the word "Supposably" (which, if you didn't know, is not a word... the proper word is "Supposedly").

Ace & I really look forward to seeing how well she progresses this year.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Not My Job

So, back in mid-July, I sent (as I'm required by court-order to do) an email to Princess' bio, letting him know that I signed her up for cheerleading. I included the league's website, so he could look up her schedule, etc, for himself. Fast forward to September 1st. "Dana- this page does not have a schedule of when M******* will be cheering or where. I'm sure she has a schedule so please send me that information. It would be great to see her cheer again, thanks for letting me know she was at ***** HS. - M***"

First of all, we all know Wildebeest writes these emails. I'd be surprised if MG was aware of even HALF of what she sends to me using his name. Second, she's never cheered before, so what's with the "see her cheer again" bullsh*t? Third, I didn't let him know she was at the HS for the Jamboree because IT WAS ON THE EFFING WEBSITE; is this Wildebeest's way of letting me know he was there (creepy stalker -- since if he was there, he never came over to say anything to her)? As usual, since I didn't NEED to respond, I ignored the email.

On Sept 9th, I sent a modified first day of school pic. I got this in return: "Thank you, she looks beautiful and so grown up. I am still waiting for her cheer info from you-M***" Which, again, I ignored.

Today, I sent a copy of one of the bills for her sports physical (the office visit; gotta ask Ace where the after-insurance one is). "His" response? "Dana, I have asked you once before for info on when M******* is cheering, I have no idea from the schedule on [city deleted] youth cheer without knowing what age group/ color she is cheering for. I am entitled to this info, so please provide it. Thanks - M***" For the third time, I am ignoring this.

The information "he" wants is on the website. I don't know why "he" can't figure it out; everyone else did. It's not rocket science... It's not my job to (figuratively) hold "his" hand and walk "him" through it. Besides, Princess doesn't want them around, anyway; not at games, not at practices, not at school events, not anywhere near her...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Just Like That... It's GONE!

The bathroom, I mean. Yes, literally. Over this past weekend, we completely demolished the rest of the bathroom. Toilet - removed, vanity - out, shower surround - gone, tub - POOF, subfloor & linoleum - history! Found some water damage, and proof of some shoddy repair work, which we'll fix/correct as we go.

We also changed plans a little. We decided that a new tub would be nice, especially since when we removed the old one, we discovered some rust issues (classic porcelain on metal style)... and not much more than refinishing the old one. Anyway, Princess decided she wanted to help, so we gave her a mask, some safety goggles, & a pair of work gloves... and set her to work. She did great!

For two days, we've lived without an inside toilet (thank you, Honey Bucket!) or shower (thank you, multiple friends who've offered use of their facilities)... We suspect we'll be without for at least a month. Here's a photo of our bathroom, almost fully gutted (notice there are still the damaged T&G planking; we're replacing those):

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cheer Report

Yesterday was the area Youth's "JAMBOREE". These are (for each level) three, 1/2 hour, games. Princess has played in Jamborees before, but that was as a soccer player... now, she's cheering for the 7th grade boys' football team. The good news, according to the girls, is that their shells aren't ready (the "shell" is the vest part of their uniform; we're waiting for this year's "H" to be sewn onto them), so they got to wear their practice uniforms (which consist of black shorts and blue tee shirts with the school's name, then "Youth Cheer" on the front). It was 83` yesterday...

This was the craziest, most disorganized, Jamboree I've ever been part of (everything was running behind, so the last of the three games got cut short at the half, plus the bleachers were off-limits, etc), but I did like the fact that they had snacks & water available. They also had school gear for the three teams playing (window decals, sweatshirts, tee shirts, water bottles, etc). I've already ordered a window decal, and will be buying Princess a sweatshirt directly from the high school.

Interesting things to note:
1. She technically has THREE uniforms -- the practice one, the traditional one, and "warm ups" (like a track suit, for colder weather). Ace was teasing her about being one of the pack; no longer an individual.
2. I had attended just about every practice & game when she was playing soccer, but she asked that I not come to practices for cheer. She wanted the first time I saw them to be a surprise.
3. She's better at cheering than she ever was at soccer. I asked how she liked it, after the Jamboree, and she said, "I think I'll be doing this again next year." I told her to hold off making that decision until it's time to sign up for next year.
4. The girls get into the high school's Friday night home games free if they wear their uniform (they're "encouraged" to attend these Varsity games).
5. The girls must wear their uniforms to school on Fridays of their own home games.
6. The only approved polish for games is "clear or natural french" (as a nail tech, this kills me), but they can have any color(s) they want in their hair (as long as it fits into a high ponytail or they have a bob -- approved game hair styles).

Not sure how many games I'll be attending, considering she's a side-show performer, instead of the main act, but we'll see. At least the games are still free at this age.

Monday, August 20, 2012

First Concert

Mine was NKOTB. My mother bought three tix; one for me, one for her, and one for a friend. I can't even remember who the friend was now... Ace's was "Great White" with a couple of his friends. Both were at the age of 17.

Princess was supposed to go see Miranda Cosgrove with KP when she was at the county fairgrounds last month. KP's mom put off buying tix for a couple weeks, then decided they were going to spend time as a family and go watch Monster Trucks & the Demo derby. Glad I didn't buy her a ticket, because I would have had to go with her. (shudder!)

Ace's friend posted on his FB a couple days ago that his friends had some emergency and couldn't go to the upcoming concert. So, Ace asked if I wanted to go. I said, "Sure! But, maybe you should take Princess." Turns out, there were actually THREE tix available, so we all got to go.

We had gone to Ace's company picnic for a few hours earlier in the day, came home for an hour to snack, change, and feed & let the dogs out, then headed to his buddy's house (a guy he went to HS with, who now lives less than an hour north of us -- and very close to the amphitheater), to pick *him* up. His wife was very happy she didn't have to go (I guess she's not a fan, but didn't want the ticket to go to waste).

The opening band, "The Treatment" was okay... a bunch of 19yo kids from England whose sound guy turned the higher-pitched guitar up too high. Not even sure how they got chosen for this tour. We were all sitting at this point, and only about 3/4 of the audience was full. We had 200-level seats, but the amphitheater isn't huge, so we had great seats.

So, Motley Crue came on about 730p, and played for a little over an hour; no encore. It was about 1/2 stuff I knew, and 1/2 stuff I didn't, but the show itself was awesome. Lots of fire, fireworks, and laser lights. Tommy's drums were mounted on a big metal circle thing and a few times, he went up & around (like part of a roller coaster ride). At one point, he pulled a (very drunk) guy up from the audience & let him ride too.

At this point, Princess had to pee & was hungry for dinner, so Ace & his buddy took her to get food & to go to the bathroom (they left just before MC's last song was finished, so beat the crowds by a minute or two). They brought back pizza for all of us.

KISS came on a little after 9p. Their show was also about 1/2 & 1/2 songs we knew/didn't, and lasted over an hour & a half. Cool parts included fire, fireworks, Paul Stanley coming by zip line into the middle of the audience (onto a small stage that came up from the ground) to play a little closer to some of us for a couple songs, and when Gene rode up (via cable) to the top of the scaffolding to play a bit.

Princess was really enjoying herself (especially the songs she knew), but by 9p, she was tired (her normal bedtime is 930p) and her feet were sore (from two days, 4 hours each, of cheer practice), so she was sitting for about 1/2 of KISS's show. By the time we got out to our car, it was 1130p. She fell asleep in the car pretty quickly. I felt bad that I had to wake her when we got home, but neither of us can easily carry her anymore (she's over 100lbs).

I was in bed by 1230a, and Ace came to bed about 2a. This morning, though, none of us slept past 9a... and Ace said to Princess, "We've now ruined you for any pop show you will see in the future. You're welcome."

Saturday, August 18, 2012


I was going to title this blog post "Independence Day", but then I realized that it didn't come in one day... it came in small steps, over time. I'm talking about Princess. Ever since she was abducted by her father & stepmother, she was a little behind in the traditional "independence from my parents" sense. Between her fear of going anywhere where they may be, especially without me or her Papa with her, and my fear of it possibly happening again, we were a bit overprotective of her, but she didn't mind one bit.

The abduction happened just before Halloween, 2007; a little over a week before her 8th birthday. Since we live within the walk zone for the grade school, I either drove her (if I was headed straight to work) or we walked together. After, I would walk to the school, and we'd walk back together. The only exceptions were when she'd go to a friend's house or if I couldn't go get her (Ace would usually do it, then).

At the beginning of 5th grade, I was walking her to the corner, and watching her walk the rest of the way. School was a "safe zone" for her; her Principal & teachers made sure of that. Her SM was not allowed anywhere near Princess (by court-order) without her BD; BD wasn't allowed on school grounds unless (a) I was there, too (concerts, BTS Night, etc) and/or (2) Princess wasn't there (like for teacher conferences). By the end of the year, I stood at our driveway and watched 'til she got to the corner (usually meeting a friend), turned & waved at me, & off she went.

By 6th grade, she was walking the whole way herself. Of course, by this point, she also had a cell phone, and knew that if there was EVER a problem, she could call or text me. She also was under strict law to text when she got to school, and text when she was leaving school. There were a couple times that she "forgot", which freaked me out. For the most part, though, having the phone allowed her a bit more freedom to be out & about with her friends (at the school park, at the library & library park, at the swim center, friends' homes, etc).

This past summer, she's totally blossomed. When she goes to friends' houses, they walk to other places. For instance, she went to KeVi's house, and they walked to DQ. She & KeVi went swimming, and they went to get ice cream afterward. She goes to Lil's, and they walk to the library & park, etc. ALWAYS, she gets permission, & checks in periodically, but she is finally getting more comfortable going out & about with her friends (without a parental figure).

Now, she's cheering for the first time. Three of her friends (KeVi, and two from her grade school) are on the team with her. She's had two practices, and today is day two of Cheer Camp/Clinic. She has asked, politely, that I just drop her off and come back later to pick her up (don't worry; she still wants me to come to the games to watch her cheer then). While I'm a little bummed she no longer wants me there to watch, I am excited that she feels safe & comfortable enough to allow me to leave. Of course, I'm only a 3m drive away (we don't live far from where they practice)... just in case.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I Have No Walls

But it was totally a blast removing them! I couldn't get as destructive as I wanted to, since 4" behind the long wall is my bedroom, and behind the vanity & toilet is all the piping for water both to the bathroom & to the kitchen (well, the fridge, anyway), as well as the electrical for the stove fan. Here are a couple of pics of the two walls that are now down to studs:

Next project - fan/light and vanity light installation!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Moving Right Along...

After deciding what type of flooring we wanted, we went into our local Floors With Flair! to choose exactly which vinyl floors we're putting into our bathroom. We happened to find one with almost the EXACT same look as the tile we loved. Here's the thing, though... FWF sells their flooring in 12 foot wide sections. One problem -- our bathroom, although measuring 10 1/2 ft by 5+ ft, lays the "wrong" direction. I want the tiles to lay "long" (the pattern we chose is a staggered, 12" X 24", look). So, we could have either ordered twice as much as we really need, or we could just order a 12' X 6' piece & have it lay in the "wrong" direction (for my sense of aesthetics).

During the discussion, Karen (the customer rep) left us alone for a few minutes. I was all set to just let it go; get the smaller piece and live with it the "wrong" way... I already had the cabinets, sink, toilet, etc I wanted. So, Karen came back, and Ace said, "We'll go with the bigger piece. She'll hate it if we do it the other way." He looked at me and said, "You know you will, and besides, we're already saving a ton by doing it this way instead of with the tile & the heating." Well, that's true. Plus, we can always offer up the other piece for sale on Ace's work site, if we don't find use for it in the garage.

We then went in back and talked to their installer. He answered Ace's questions about the old flooring, etc, then Karen went to write up our order. Since we can install this ourselves, the grand total for flooring & misc materials to lay it came to just over $500. Karen even marked down the price/sq ft because (1) we've shopped there before, (2) we've sent others there, and (3) Ace asked about a work-based discount (his company gets discounts all over this area). The best news so far: it was supposed to take a week to ten days to come in; they called us two days later. This is what we've chosen.

Aside from that, Ace & I finally figured out lighting: A fan/light unit, centered in the room, becomes our main lighting. I'm hoping Ace decides to do a double, sideways, rocker switch (the model of fan/light we chose has a regular light and a nightlight) at the bathroom entry. The unit itself has both a motion sensor (within 10ft - that's great) and a humidity sensor. No timer, no on/off switch... it's all automatic. AND, the best part, Ace can wire it himself. Now, the vanity will have its own light (this small one we found at IKEA), on a switch next to the vanity.

The linen closet & the over-toilet cabinet are gone... everything from all the cabinets are now in boxes. We are kid-free 'til either Sunday or Monday, but both of us work through Saturday, so it looks like we'll be picking up the flooring on Monday, and going from there.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What A Pain

I know you've noticed that there hasn't been a bathroom update since almost two months ago... but there's a good reason. We were first, recovering from sticker shock and second, trying to figure out where to scale back and what we can do ourselves. After A LOT of discussion (and some not-so-welcome "advice") we ordered the cabinetry, and took a break from everything else.

While stewing on the bathroom, I got my studio redone (see photos HERE -- certificates, photos, price list, etc are not up yet, though), and went on a mini-vaca with my mother & sisters (Portland to Seattle to Victoria BC to Vancouver BC). That was a LOT of travel in so few days, so when I returned, I mentioned to Ace that I thought a long weekend trip, just the two of us (perhaps for our 10th anniversary?) Portland-Seattle-Victoria-return would be fun... on the motorcycle.

I returned from my trip and focused on work (close to 40 hours this week), so I could catch up. But, two days ago, we finally sat down again and made a plan. Here's the thing -- just because we *can* (technically) afford $22,000 estimated in labor, alone, doesn't mean we're *going* to spend that much. Labor for a remodeled (as beautiful as it was going to be) 45 sq ft bathroom should NOT cost more than the WHOLE remodel of a 100 sq ft kitchen!

So, grumbling, we scrapped the majority of the original plan. I told Ace in the beginning that my absolute, must-haves, were cabinetry that matched the kitchen, my special-order faucet, round/push-button/soft-close toilet, and more lighting. We have in our possession: cabinetry that matches the kitchen, my special-order faucet, a round/push-button/soft-close toilet, a simple white vessel sink with hardware, a 30" round mirror, and a few other bits.

Yesterday, Princess & I emptied out all the cabinetry into boxes -- rarely used stuff on the bottom, every day stuff on the top. Then, after trying for 30m to maneuver the old linen closet out of the bathroom in one piece (impossible without removing the door & jamb), Ace got out the small sledgehammer. It's now laying in 8 or 10 pieces in my backyard. Pretty sure the old vanity won't need to be destroyed, though! :)

Today, we went on a flooring search. Originally, we chose a 12" X 24" slate. It was to be heated (of course), and also be used as the shower surround. The shower floor was to be a flattened river rock type (not painful for tender feet). Yes, we COULD do all of this ourselves, but the time involved to redo the majority of our own bathroom wouldn't be worth the money saved... we only have ONE bathroom! The choice is now a high-quality vinyl floor, in a 12" X 24" slate look. Super-easy to install, and no need for heat.

Next search is lighting. I *think* we'll do something small (6" version of what my daughters' overheads are, or a 4" recessed, or something else) in the bathroom entry area. We're DEFINITELY getting a combo fan/light unit (the current one is fan only, and loud!) and replacing the vanity lighting with something more modern. We are still undecided about a solar tube over the shower.

We decided against the full-shower idea, and decided that the tub will be refinished, and we'll probably buy enough tile & supplies to just redo the surround (no heat necessary there, either). That, of course, means glass doors... BUT, not your typical ones. Oh, no. We're still going to do the frameless one we chose before. Since we're keeping the tub, the frameless doors will just be smaller (and a little bit cheaper).

I have four days in a row off next week, during which Ace & I will get some of this work done. Photos will be posted as we move along, on my Facebook page. At the end, I will post another blog with "before" & "after" photos, as I did with the kitchen remodel.

RIP, Grandma

I received a text Monday morning from my older brother, and an email about 10m later from my father; my grandmother passed away that morning. She was 99 1/2 years old. Some of the things said about her (via email & FB messages) include:

"Aunt Doris was such a wonderful woman, wife, aunt, grandmother, nurse and for me from afar a model of living and aging well. Rest in peace Aunt Doris. Love to all, Liz" (my dad's cousin)

"So sorry for your loss, but so happy that your Grandmother's life was a long and good one. I would love to live to that age, as long as I was healthy and not alone." (friend of mine)

"Here's xxx for you. I, too want to live to be 100 as long as the quality of life is there." (friend of mine)

"As you said she lived a good long life , giving you all some wonderful memories." (friend of mine)

and, my favorite, my baby sister's lovely words: "My grandmother, Doris LeClair, died this morning at the age of ninety-nine. She was tuff and clever. She liked to drink sherry and she liked to play bridge. She was independent. She suffered losses and experienced difficult times: she survived, she flourished, and she made the best of the situation. She outlived her husband and her eldest son. She outlived nearly all of her contemporaries and she lived her long life with style. She did not bull shit and she did not coddle. She was a grandmother I could, and did, brag about. She was evolution in action--for ninety-nine years the world changed around her and she changed with it. She missed her love, my grandfather, since his death twenty-one years ago. Today she is with him."

I don't believe in an afterlife like Heaven or Hell, but the kindness of my friends, family, and professional cohorts reminds me that you give what you get out of life. We were never close, but everyone in our family knew she loved us.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Long Overdue (Part 2)

Read Part 1 HERE

Over the years, my mother has developed a very close bond with my daughter, partly just due to physical proximity. However, more & more, I've felt that she occasionally "forgets" that I'M Princess' mom, not her. She has cut me down with things like, "Oh, that must skip a generation" when something about Princess is good... and "Oh, she must get that from her father" or "she must get that from your father" when Princess does or says something my mother doesn't like.

Recently, as she has since Princess was 7yo, they were overseas on an intergenerational trip (to Australia this time). Now, most of you know that I signed her up for Youth Cheer (which is through our local high school) back in May (I think?). Every year since she was 3yo (with the exception of the two times her bio father intentionally blocked me from taking her -- thank you to our judge for overruling him), she's gone to GrandCamp. This is a cabin camp for three days in August, hosted by my mother's church. I found out while they were overseas that Cheer Camp is the same weekend as GrandCamp.

A few days into their trip, I got an email from the president of the Cheer/Football League regarding Cheer Camp, uniform fitting, parent meeting, etc. I sent him a response, asking if Camp is mandatory & what they'd be doing. My original intention, as with most things concerning her, was to ask Princess which she'd prefer to attend. I was planning on waiting to bring all this up until they returned from Australia.

I then got the medical release form emailed from my mother (forwarded from the church). I sent her a response, telling her "We may have a problem..." and explained about Cheer Camp. Her email back to me? "... M******* is aware that she can't let C*** down a second time." I said, "She can if she has to... we'll discuss it when you get home." I was HOPING that was the last of it until she got home (since that's what I just said)... but no. She couldn't let it go.

Multiple emails, and some (by my interpretation) not so nice comments -- about my parenting, my parents, etc -- later, we agreed to talk about this stuff & more, when she returned. I told her that for the remainder of their trip, she was not to discuss this stuff with Princess (she had shared the emails).

Then, I sent Princess a message: "I was originally going to wait to talk to you (& Mimi) about all of this, but since Mimi has shared her emails with you, and refused to let it go until you both returned, I had made a decision - you'll go to Cheer Camp. However, if what Mimi says is true, and you want to go to GrandCamp instead of Cheer Camp, I would like you to tell me, in your own words (not hear it from Mimi). I'm not sure what Mimi is saying to you, and how she's wording things, but I sincerely hope she's not guilt-tripping you again. You need to make this decision based on what YOU think/feel/want, not what Mimi thinks.

Things to take into account before you make your decision:

1. This is your, & your alone, decision to make. I will back whatever you wish to do.

2. Cheer camp is not mandatory, but will be an important bonding experience for you & your team.

3. You made a commitment to Mimi (& C***) to attend GrandCamp.

4. Mimi can get her money back if you don't attend GrandCamp, but Youth Cheer Camp's cost is covered in my fees and I cannot get them back.

5. There will be a lot more of these types of decisions you're going to have to make as you go through middle, and high, school. Some will be easier than others.

6. According to B**** (President of the Cheer/Football Association), "They will work on routines and cheers during camp. The High School coach may even include stunting but I am not sure." As a new cheerleader, the more practice you get, the better.

7. I spoke to D**** and she said, "C*** knows you & M******* are trustworthy" and "She's 4yo, the world doesn't revolve around her." She also asked if you were going to GrandCamp next year, and if you weren't, her & L*** can start a "sisters with Grammy at Camp" tradition.

I also want you to know that I am going to have that talk with Mimi that I told you I would. But, before I do, I want to talk to you about my plan. So, it will wait until you both return."

After picking them up at the airport, we dropped my mother off at her condo & stopped at my studio to drop off the chair I bought (had to exchange the IKEA chair I originally bought because I accidentally bought the square-based one, and I needed the swivel-based one). Princess ran upstairs really quick to see all the work I'd done so far. On our way home, we discussed her choices for camp with pros & cons, and I asked what else she wanted me to bring up.

Tuesday, after I was done with a couple morning clients, we had our talk. I brought up a lot of things... but mainly, I needed her to back off a bit. I have never felt like she deserved the title of "mom" (not something I ever intended to say to her, but I had to get it out); that was my stepmother's role in my life. I felt that what she said about my upbringing was a cut-down toward my parents (it wasn't; she truly feels guilty that she wasn't around for my childhood). I also brought up that she needs to remember that Princess is MY daughter... I may allow her to have a say over most things in her life (because Life is, afterall, mostly a series of negotiations & decisions), but the final decision is MINE.

My mother did not grow up with grandparents; this role is new for her. So, I explained that while Disneyland Parenting isn't acceptable, Disneyland GRANDparenting *is*. Princess doesn't need to feel she *has* to spend time with her extended family; she should *want* to. She also doesn't need to be in the middle of things between people who love her; she needs to know that, in the end, at least until she's 18yo, her parents (Ace & I) have the final decision to everything.

I also set some new rules for my studio (it is no longer a drop off or pick up spot for paperwork, packages, etc -- it is a place of business, not a mail drop), for mom spending time with Princess (I am not a taxi service), and for dealing with Princess as a teen and me as the mother of a teen (her school & afterschool activities come first, fun with Mimi should not be expected, sometimes activities need to be canceled, etc). No more rude comments about my parents, or my parenting.

I fully anticipated arguing, yelling, and a lot of crying. I am thankful that it didn't happen that way. There was a little bit of crying, but I really felt that the talk went well; that my mother was receptive to what I had to say. My hope now is that she can continue to respect the boundaries that I needed to set; for my own sanity.

Long Overdue (Part 1)

I'm sure most people in my life are aware that I've never been really close to my biological mother. You see, my mother & father split when I was 6yo. For whatever reason(s?), my father ended up with full custody of all five children (I am the fourth born; there is a 10 year span between oldest & youngest bio children -- EP, DC, JS, me, & TW). My father moved my stepmom (aka: Mama) in when I was barely 7yo, and by December of that year (I was 7 1/2yo), they were married. Mama came with her own baby girl (18m when they got married - my sister, K); making ours a mix of six kids.

Kudos to my Mama -- she took on FIVE extra kids because she loved my father. She also loved us all as her own, which became more & more obvious as the years passed. From as early as I can remember, I called her "mommy" or "mama"... but never in front of my mother. I knew, even at age six, that it would be frowned upon, or that my mother would be hurt by that fact. But, I think she knew anyway.

Regardless, I grew up untraditionally ONLY in the fact that my father was custodial parent, and my mother was non-custodial. That was even more rare back in those days than it is now. In talking to my younger brother (TW) & to my dad about some of this, I know my memories are pretty accurate... my mother had a wide berth with regards to her parenting time, and chose not to take most of it. When she did come around, she was the traditional "Disneyland Parent". My mama took on the role of mother in every sense of the word.

At some point, DC moved in with our mother (I think she was around the age Princess is now -- 12 or 13?); later EP moved out (as an adult) and JS was a handful so she moved in with a family friend two hours south to finish out her high school there. This left my parents with three kids (from six to three -- ahhhhhh). On the rare occasion TW & I would go see our mother (school clothes shopping, movies, a few trips by plane somewhere, etc), my parents got a bit more of a kid-break.

Fast forward to the summer prior to my senior year of high school. Dad wanted to move to South Dakota, but I wanted to finish my high school years locally. We made a deal in where I would move in with my mother (who lived in the next town over) and dad would sell me his car so I had reliable transportation to continue schooling at my same high school (& get to & from a job). My mother bought the car from dad, and told me that when I was 21 (I had an inheritance from my maternal grandmother coming then), I would have to pay her back -- with 9%/yr interest.

Same thing when I borrowed money to move out after I graduated. This, imo, is NOT the way you treat family... but that's how my mother operates. Oh, I paid her back alright... hoping the next time I need to borrow money, I didn't have to ask *her*. Unfortunately, my ex-husband was a huge thorn in my side & cost me over $75,000 (not all of it borrowed, but a big chunk of it, and she was the only one financially able to assist) during our long dragged-out divorce process. My mother was there, again, with legal documents this time -- 9%/year interest, with threatened legal action if I didn't pay as agreed.

During my divorce process, I also felt that because my mother loaned me all this money, I *had* to share much more with her than I really wanted to. My now-husband saw how much stress this caused, and did everything in his power to help me pay her back. She was one of the first debts we paid in full when his mother died four & a half years ago.

(Part Two will continue this story)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Very Close To Home

I watch the news in spurts... I'll watch for a few weeks or so, then stop for a while, then go back to watching. During my daughter's trip to Australia, I stopped watching. Yesterday, I found out something I'd missed: the janitor from Princess' grade school was shot & killed by the cops last week. I found a couple of stories on different local news' websites: This one from KGW.COM, and this one from KPTV.COM

While I am, of course, upset that this even happened (he was always really nice to the kids, knew most of them by name, etc -- btw, he was still employed by HSD when he died), I am glad that no one else got hurt. This could have been so much worse. He could have shot people in his neighborhood, gone to any number of local businesses & hurt those people... hell, this could easily have happened at Princess' school!

So, I post this blog as a reminder to get help for your problems. There is no reason to go it alone. There are counselors, doctors, & support groups that are out there.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Not Just BirthDAY... BirthMONTH!

I am a huge fan of rewards cards. I get them at every place I can, as long as it doesn't cost me anything. I have one for about 20 or so places. I know, there are some of you who "poo poo" these cards, saying "The Government" is tracking your purchases... I say, "Who cares? What am I hiding; that I buy tampons & love Burgerville??!!" Even my mother refuses to get them; choosing to use my phone number to get the discounts at places like Safeway & Fred Meyer (lucky me; I get the reward points which translates to cash, coupons, & discounts at the gas station!).
Well, guess what? Since June was my birth-month, and I have a ton of these rewards, I had a BUNCH of free & discounted stuff that was mine for the taking. I'm sure I'm forgetting some, but the ones I can remember:
1. Free burger at Red Robin.
2. Free bakery item at Panera.
3. Free medium one-topping pizza at Old Chicago.
4. Extra reward points, which added up to about 1/2 off our meal, at Burgerville.
5. $5 off ice cream cake at Baskin Robbins (btw, I asked if I could just have a free cone instead, and they gave me a sugar cone with one scoop - chocolate fudge, baby!).
6. Special offers (discounts &/or free shipping) from Amazon, CafePress, Shutterfly, & others.
7. Free 12oz coffee beverage of my choice at the SB near my work (no idea if that's a normal thing, but, although I'm not a SB fan, the manager there knows me).
On top of that, some of my clients brought me little gifts, too... and most of my siblings sent at least a card &/or a FB wish (my sister, Jennifer, sent a SB gift card, too!), and all three parents sent a card. My mother, as usual, called to sing (which she does HORRIBLY to every sibling on their birthday), and my other parents texted lovely wishes.
Now, here's a story you may or may not have heard before (and I post this because a few people have asked, "Why is it that you hate celebrating traditional holidays, but expect people to go all-out for your birthday?"):
When I was little, my family was poor. I'm talking -- government cheese delivered to our front door, handmedowns, thrift shops, & garage sales not because it was "cool" but because we couldn't afford new things -- poor. There were six of us my parents were raising on my dad's measly salary. But, our birthdays were special. We got whatever we wanted for breakfast (I loved my smom's "bear" pancakes) and dinner (dad's fried chicken was usually my choice) & a homemade cake, and they saved to buy one or two new pairs of jeans, or the newest shoes. My parents made sure we knew we were loved, even though we didn't have much. THIS is why my birthday is special to me; it has nothing to do with presents, and everything to do with presence.
So, to be clear, it's NOT "expecting people to go all-out", it's about acknowledging me, and the gains I've made over the years.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bathroom, Revisted

After the initial sticker shock at the labor bid for the bathroom (labor, alone, was going to be more than our whole kitchen remodel was!), we decided we'll have Home Depot do the cabinets for sure... Possibly also the shower construction (we want to go with WEDI products, but local distributors only sell to licensed contractors). We went in to talk to our new designer (Julie took a new job outside the company), Gwen. We chose the same cabinets we have in the kitchen -- Cherry, Bordeaux stain, Savannah style doors. We ordered: two stacked cabinets, slightly different sizes, to fit into the linen closet spacing (same as the pantry space in the kitchen), with all six shelves changed to pull outs on rollers. We chose a vanity cabinet a little deeper & taller than the current (12yo) one, bigger drawers but less of them. We also chose a "valet cabinet" for over the toilet. This one is also bigger than the current one. All doors & drawers will have soft-close. This is now standard; when we did the kitchen, it was extra (and yes, we got them; totally worth it). Once we added it all up, it came to almost $3000, but then they were running a deal. If you spent between $2500-$2999, you get $400 off. Woot!
After all that, we put the bathroom on the backburner so we could focus on Princess' graduation ceremony & trip to Australia, Squeaks' last days at school & a visit (plus, she wants to buy the truck, so we had to get some stuff done to it), as well as my own work space's remodel. Ace (with some help from Princess & I) built me a custom polish rack (my design, his hard work), and helped me put some of the bigger pieces together/up. Details of that job will be posted on my other blog, here.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The "New" DMV

The last time I got a new driver's license was the day I took my nail tech exam. I remember clearly, because, since my new certificate from the school didn't match my current (at the time) DL, I had to go get a new one. That was 8yrs, 2mnths ago... Two months ago, I got my renewal notice in the mail. The list of required documents is kinda ridiculous, but it was to be expected, as all states are cracking down on illegal immigrants getting legal IDs. In reading the laundry list, I discovered that instead of my certified birth certificate, social security card, first marriage license, divorce decree, second marriage license (you know, 'cuz I've changed names each time) -- you only need your passport (since the passport issuing offices already got that information). So, all I needed was current DL, passport, and the renewal notice itself (which served as my proof of address). Then, I discovered that the "quicky" (Renewal) office close to me shut down last month; permanently. Argh. So, I look up the address of the next closest one. Oh... not too much farther! Here's where DMV gets "mad propz" from me: You walk in, grab whatever paperwork you think you need, use the counter space to fill out your forms, and stand in the first line. First line took 10 minutes (time would be contingent upon what time of day you go, of course; I went at 1030am on a Tuesday). At the end of that line is the "Information Desk". Dude at the desk looks over what you have to make sure you have what you need to proceed. If you do, you move on with a printed number. If you don't, you get sent home to get the rest of what you need. No more waiting in DMV for hours, only to discover you don't have all your documents! The second part is broken up like this: If your ticket has an "X" on it, that indicates you have a quick (express) service (like renewing your driver's license); you stand in one line. Chances are, you'll be through the line faster than it would take them to call your number. If your ticket has a "T" on it, that indicates you're taking a test (that's its own express line). Everyone else, sit down & wait. I, obviously, had an "X" on my number (good thing, too, since my number was 165, and they were on 104 when I got there). I was in the second line for roughly 30 minutes. The woman at the counter was very friendly (another nice change), complimented me on my nails (love that), and sent me to the picture-taking dude. That took maybe 5 minutes, I got my temp license, and we were done! So, grand total, we were only there for less than an hour. I get the real one in about a week. Welcome to the NEW DMV!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day Post

You've all seen those quotes about how any man can make a baby but it takes a real man to be a dad... I found an even better one this morning; one that fits exactly how I feel. I texted my dad these words, and he told me how proud he is to be my daddy... and of the woman I've grown to be.

I also want to acknowledge my husband, who is the best father to our daughter. He's been in her life since she was barely 2yo, and he's been there every day since. Because of him, she knows what a REAL DAD should be. She know what a REAL MAN should be, and I hope one day she will settle for nothing less than both of those things. This one's for him:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Gone In A Flash

August, 2005: Princess & I walked down our newly constructed sidewalk to sign her up for Kindergarten. I was told a couple weeks later that (GOOD NEWS) due to a Title 1 grant, her school was not only hiring a third kinder teacher, but that the kinders were to go full time (all day, five days)!
September, 2005: Princess & I walked down the sidewalk with her backpack, and me carrying an extra paper sack, both full of school supplies. She was nervous; didn't want me to leave. I told her I'd stay as long as she needed me. In walked another little girl with her older sister. The little girl was crying hysterically. Princess looked at me, rolled her eyes, and said, "Mom, you can go now. I'm okay." She came home from school and told me about her new friends, Katrina & Kaylee.
July, 2006: First day of rec league soccer, thanks to the suggestion of her new friend, Katrina. She would play for seven more seasons... and remain Katrina's friend. Kaylee, sadly, moved away.
Summer, 2007: First trip overseas with Mimi - to LONDON!
September, 2007: Second grade comes with the loss of a few old friends, but Lillian moved here.
October, 2007: Princess's life took a sour turn; one that would stay with her and make her grow up faster than anyone ever should... her biological father & her stepmother abducted her from our home. Although returned physically safe, she is irrevocably emotionally damaged. All trust toward them is gone; completely destroyed by their selfish actions.
December, 2007: Court order clarified to read that Princess' bio shall have his parenting time suspended until he pays the child support in full & continues to be on time, he pays the first four attorney's fees judgments, and a few other things (judging by the last four & half years... I'd say there's a snowball's chance in hell of him ever paying me what he owes me). Princess' 2nd grade teacher, Mr. S, was a huge & fantastic male role model for her that year (aside from her beloved Papa, of course). She decided to be a teacher.
3rd grade... Kira moved into the neighborhood. Kira's mother & I discover we went to high school together. :)
4th grade ...
5th grade... More trips overseas with Mimi, every summer somewhere different.
Mr M for 6th grade; another fabulous male role model. She's now decided she wants to be a hairdresser when she grows up; she wants to work side by side with me -- me doing nails & her doing hair.
May, 2012: I set up a hair appointment (cut/bleach/color) with my salon's owner, and an updo appt with Princess' school's PTA president (who's also a hairdresser). We found a nice dress she can also wear to her Youth Group director's wedding, and shoes to match.
June, 2012: I do her nails to match her dress... 6th grade completion ceremony is creeping up fast. Princess decides to call her bio. She tells him she doesn't want him there, and why. He gripes & tries the blame game, but she's not buying it. When he doesn't show to graduation, she turns to me and gives me a happy & relieved thumbs up. It took all I had to not cry -- both for joy and for sadness. It's a bittersweet moment, seeing your child go through these things. I sent an email to thank him for respecting her wishes, and two photos. As usual, I don't receive a "thank you". Doesn't really matter; I know I did the nice thing to send them. I also posted this on her school's community page on FB, "I want to send a big thank you to every teacher at Minter Bridge, but especially to M's teachers throughout her seven years there -- Mrs. Lewis (Kinder at the time), Ms. Kalish (no longer at MB), Mr. Strande, Mrs Mayers, Ms. Ellis, Ms Rodriguez, and Mr. Mayers. All of you have really helped shape who she is; have encouraged her to push herself, & have understood her needs both personal and educational. She is such a wonderful child, and I know part of that is due to her fabulous teachers. It really does "take a village", so thank you for being part of hers. :)" Princess' stepmother was among the 12 (currently) likes... interesting. It's been two days, and she's been a bit depressed. This should be a summer of discovery; for both of us. New nickname, new sport, new school.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fingers Crossed

Last Saturday afternoon, my home phone rang. Caller ID confirmed it to be Princess' bio's house number. Phone rang four times, machine picked up, no message was left. Five, or maybe 10, minutes later, the phone rang again; same number. This time, a message *was* left, by her SM... something along the lines of "Hi, C*****. Your sisters miss you and would like you to call them back. They also love you." (a) She doesn't use that nickname anymore; which you'd know if any of you had made any effort at all in the last 4 1/2 years. (b) I find the timing (just three days after Princess told her bio she didn't want him at graduation because he makes her uncomfortable; thinking he's going to abduct her again) "interesting", to say the least. And, (c) Manipulative, much? Using your 3yo & 7yo to get to my kid? Nice... When she finally returned from her weekend 'o fun with her friend (after 8p on Sunday!), I shared the message with her. She rolled her eyes and said, "Seriously? I'm not calling them back... You know J**** only called to get my sisters to ask to come to my graduation. I hope my father realizes that when I said I didn't want *him* there, I meant his WHOLE FAMILY!! They better not show up at the party, either!" Well, sweetie, I hope so, too...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

My "Baby" Is Growing Up

I am so proud of Princess... Within this year, alone, she has matured so much. She's stuck up for friends when other "friends" tried to pull her into their drama, she's been walking to & from school (not to mention venturing further when she's out & about; like at my studio or when out & about PDX with my mother), she stood her ground with her grandmother about some things that needed to be said (gaining her infamous guilt trips, but that is a story for another day... or not), and just yesterday, she stood up to her bio-dad. You see, he hasn't called her since Santamas, never delivered or sent the gifts he said he had for her, and every time the phone rings between 7p and 730p, she still says, "I'm not here" or "I don't want to talk to him." I used to kinda feel a little teeny bit sorry for him... but not anymore. With good reason, she doesn't want him, or any of his family, at her 6th grade graduation; she was finally able to tell him that herself. Originally, I got a message asking for some info about it, which I ignored because once they knew that she had a grad ceremony, my responsibility to give him information is done. It is up to him, and him alone, to do his research -- look on the school's website, check the FB Community Page (which his wife is part of, and where I'm sure she got her information that there *is* a ceremony), or here's a novel idea; CALL THE SCHOOL! Here's the "problem" with that one -- the wife is in complete control of his email... and his life. As the stepmother, she has ZERO rights. ONLY bio can call the school & get information. Allowing him to do so would, I can only assume, kill her. I told Princess last week that since he knows about it, he'll probably come... and probably bring not only his wife, her daughter, & their other daughters, but also his mom, and maybe even his grandmother. She said, "I don't want them there. Every time he's near me, I freak out. I keep thinking he'll try to take me again." While I understand her fear, at this point, the only thing she can do is tell him how she feels; I can't do it for her anymore. So, Wednesday, when she got home from school, she called him. She told him she didn't want him to come to her graduation. She told him being around him makes her uncomfortable; that she feels he's going to "take" her again every time he's near her. He, as usual, tried to convince her that it was *his* weekend and I was keeping her from him, but she didn't put up with that. She knows the truth; she knows that he was under court order to prove he didn't owe me all those court fees (and now, more with all the interest, since he hasn't paid a dime of it in 4 1/2 years), and that until he could, he had no parenting time. She knows he could have gone to jail for parental abduction (which kinda negates his claim of no wrongdoing, huh?), but *I* chose not press charges. She knows he, and he alone, is to blame for his choices... Anyway, long story short, I'm super-proud of Princess.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

That's It

Blog name changed! Here are some interesting tidbits, though, regarding this seemingly easy name change. (1) I had a LOT of views, but very few suggestions. I already know most people are just stalkers (the Wildebeest, for one), but I currently have over 80 views on that *one* blog post, and only FOUR people who suggested anything. Future reference -- when someone ASKS for your opinion, PLEASE do them a favor and give it! (2) I posted the link to that specific blog three times. The comments from my FAMILY members were the rudest. In a way, that actually doesn't surprise me, but it *does* piss me off. One comment in particular -- "I'm thinking, 'I got a life and stopped living through my child.' " was the most rude. I don't live "through" her; I live "with" her. Being Princess' mom IS a HUGE part of my life... driving her to & from her activities, being there for practices & games (in her whole life, I've missed 3 games; good record if you ask me), helping to plan parties, arranging snacks & drinks, volunteering, helping with homework & science projects, teaching her life skills, and so much more. *YOU* are not a parent, you obviously have no clue how much of life is taken by being an active part of your child's life... and I wouldn't change it for the world. Also, a note: Obviously you don't even read my blog, since that is your viewpoint on it, and me. (3) Since I didn't get much helpful assistance in choosing a new name for this blog, I posted a request for help on one of my FB groups (a beauty-related one, most of the time). Most of those responses were helpful suggestions... but in the end, I like "Adventures In POM POMS". Oh, one quick note; Princess has decided on a new spelling for one of her lesser-used nicknames, and that it will be her most-used (by her friends, at least) from now on (since she's starting a new stage in her life, what with cheerleading, middle school, and makeup...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Time For A Change...

Ok, you guys... seems Princess wants to spread her wings a bit. She's ready for a change of after school activities, and will not be playing soccer anymore. She's decided to try cheerleading (along with a few friends of hers)! So, I need a new name for my blog. I'm thinking something along the lines of "Adventures In Pom Poms" or something... Looking for you guys to give me some suggestions!! HELP!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Grounded Again...

I know I'm late in posting this, but for those on my Facebook page, this is old news... Princess went over 2000 sent texts again. When we got the bill mid-May, she was at 2503 sent (we don't count received; she has no control over those). Now, if you remember, I said the phone would be gone for a month if she went over 2000 texts after the last incident; no early earnbacks. I sat on the couch and told my husband that I felt bad. Her grades are great, her social skills are where they should be, she's an active part of her rec league soccer... she's an all-around great kid. The phone isn't interfering with her doing what needs to get done. He said, "You grounded her the first time & told her what would happen if it happened again... but you're in charge here; your decision." So, being the mom who always follows through on her promises, and never makes a threat without meaning it, I walked into my room (where she was watching t.v.) and said, "I have good news & bad news." She looked at me and said, "I don't like bad news." I had to chuckle at that... "No one likes bad news, mija. So, the bad news is you went over 2500 texts last month." She got up, grabbed her phone from my dresser, turned it off, and handed it to me. Then she said, "I'm sorry mom. I didn't keep track." So, I said, "Ok... and the good news is that, once your grounding is over, you will no longer have that stipulation. As long as your time on the phone doesn't interfere with your real life, we won't worry about how many texts you send." She goes, "Really?" "Yes; you've earned it. Just don't disappoint us." This was on the 16th. Every day since, she's turned it on in the morning, texted me when she gets to school, texts me when she leaves school, and texts me when she gets home if I'm not here yet. Then, she turns it off. She told all her friends within a couple days that she's grounded from it, and they were given our home number & her email address. She hasn't asked to use her phone for a music player on field trips (they're allowed to use electronic devices with earbuds or no sound), to take to friends' houses for overnights, not even when she spent three days over Memorial Day Weekend with my mother & her 4 1/2 yo cousin. I've raised her to understand that most things in life are negotiable... but not this one. She's taking it like a champ.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Just Takes One

With Spring soccer season coming to a close, I felt the need to broach a certain subject: TEAMWORK. I've been in charge of organizing snacks & drinks for the girls' games for many years. I've tried a couple different methods of assigning snacks & drinks to parents, but the one that works best is to list out the game dates/times, and ask the parents to give me two or three games that work best for them and which they'd prefer to bring. On the whole, parents are very willing; most of them usually tell me "Doesn't matter; you put me where you need me" (which really makes scheduling easy). But, occasionally, there's one parent who doesn't want to, or can't afford to, participate. The not-affording, I get. The not wanting to, I don't. Seriously? How hard is it to go pick up a box of Capri Sun or snack crackers? The worst offender was this year... To make it worse, he was an official assistant coach. Here's how that all went down: About two weeks prior to the first scheduled game, I sent out an email blast, introducing myself, and asking for game dates and if they preferred snack or drink. I specifically said, in that email, that we had 16 girls and only 7 scheduled games. That works out to 7 snack families and 7 drink families; leaving out two families. I decided that the main coach's family and the family of the girl who broke her arm shouldn't have to provide drinks or snacks for the girls, plus I said I'd bring snacks for the first game (Princess' friend, KB's, family said they'd bring drinks). I got a response from 12 families. I waited a couple days, and sent another email to those four who didn't respond (one was the parents of the girl with the broken arm, one was assistant coach "Jackhole"). I got a response this time from three of those four... Jackhole's response was "I'm an assistant coach, and I don't think I should have to provide anything." My third email to him (separate from the third one to the others) stated that I need all parents to help provide snacks & drinks, and why I left out Coach and broken-arm girl. Then, I sent a fourth email to everyone, assigning each family to a specific game, and a drink or snack for each girl. Jackhole (assigned drinks for one of the last games, btw) sends back, "I'll see what I can do." Um, excuse me?!? What part of "we're a team, it's called teamwork" do you not understand, ASSISTANT COACH JACKHOLE?!?! I talked to Coach about it, but said that I was going to see what happened when I sent his reminder email (which I send two days prior to each game). The Thursday prior to our Saturday double-header, I sent the reminder. Remember, part of the reminder is "If you are not able to provide for the girls, please let me know so I can assign someone else..." I got ONE response (I sent email to four families -- two games, snack & drink for each); one of the moms said, "Great! See you there!" Saturday morning came... no Jackhole, no Jackhole's daughter, and no drinks. Snack parent brought theirs, but Jackhole didn't show, and didn't even have the courtesy to send a "sorry, we're not going to be there" email to me?!? Luckily, all but one girl brought their waters. I spoke to Coach at the second game, and he had a theory about the whole thing, but was super-irritated and said, "I'll talk to him." Apparently, he kind of called him out in front of the girls after the second game. His first response was, "Well, I'm an assistant coach, I bring waters for the girls' practices in case they forget theirs, I shouldn't have to provide drinks after the games, too." Coach kind laid into him a little, and he then said, "Well, I'm taking my kids to get fro-yo after this game; if anyone wants to come, I'll pay for theirs, too." We didn't take him up on it, as we had plans that afternoon... I'm curious as to who *did*. Regardless, I complained (and I think Coach did, too) about Jackhole's lack of teamwork & commitment to the team, and I don't think he'll be assistant-coaching again. Let this be a reminder to you all -- sports isn't about winning & losing a game. It's working as a team to make the girls' experiences be the best they can be! Side note -- I wonder who's going to take over as SNACK PARENT next year (most girls are moving up to Select!), since my daughter has decided to do cheerleading?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fluff Post

For the last few months, our DVR has been somewhere in the 85-100% full range. We have (I'm not joking) 17 episodes of Fringe on there, plus I have it set to record new programming on CBS for an hour on Mondays (in case I'm working late), all new Jeopardy episodes (sometimes I'm working, sometimes I'm otherwise occupied), & Grey's Anatomy (although I usually end up canceling the recording, 'cuz I just watch it). But, Princess likes to record her new shows on NICK on Friday nights when she's not home, and every summer, she gets into America's Got Talent but her bedtime is before it's over, so we let her record the last half of it. I would be all caught up on Fringe if it wasn't for Ace. He loves this show & watches with me, so I have to wait 'til he has time & want to sit down to watch it with me. Currently, my t.v. viewing is down to this: Sunday -- Once Upon A Time (season's over) & Desperate Housewives (series is now over), Monday -- Big Bang Theory (season's over) and Two Broke Girls (season's over), Tuesday -- Last Man Standing (Princess loves this show; she's turned into a huge Tim Allen fan), Wednesday -- Suburgatory, Modern Family, and sometimes Don't Trust the B., Thursday -- How I Met Your Mother (series now ended), and Grey's, Friday -- Fringe (always DVR'd), and Saturday -- Suze Orman. I just find it funny/interesting that I watch so little t.v., yet can't even find/make time to keep up on some of it. I'd hope that with summer coming, we can get caught up on Fringe and clear out the DVR for A.G.T.; we'll see. There is that bathroom remodel we're about to start, as well as a smaller job going on at my studio sometime this summer...

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Bit Of Catch-Up

Since I haven't posted anything since my anniversary weekend, and I finally have some free time to do so, I figured I'd catch you all up on what's going on around here. BATHROOM REMODEL: (1) After multiple trips to multiple tile suppliers, as well as trolling online, we've narrowed down our bathroom tile to three choices. All are a charcoal color porcelain with a slate look, but one is about 1/2 the cost of the other two. Since our bathroom is small, it won't make much of a difference, but is something to consider if, once we get the final bid, we want to cut costs somewhere. (2) We had Kristen (install contractor) come out last week to do the measurements for the cabinetry. While she was here, Ace decided to run all our other plans by her, and asked her to do a complete bid (minus demo & painting) -- just so we have a jump-off point. As I said before, we may just let them do it; save ourselves the hassle of coordinating the plumber, electrician, drywallers, tile guys, H.D. (for cabinets), etc. (3) The toilet (in three boxes), the sink, the sink's special stopper, my requested faucet (one of my must-haves for this remodel), and the new mirror are already ordered and waiting in our garage. (4) We went to see Julie today. She had a basic mock-up of plans, but after talking about an hour with her, she had more "homework", so she said she'd take care of the list and get back to us within a week. We need her to check out other suppliers of solar tubes (we have a specific one we're looking at), the specific countertop we want (the same as the kitchen), & frameless glass, plus configure the tile into a few different patterns we can choose from. (5) If they do the job, they'll supply the "Honey Bucket", but we'll be out the bathroom for at least three weeks. Luckily, Ace can shower at work, and Princess & I can shower at my mother's. WORK STUFF: (1) We went to IKEA a couple weeks ago, and bought a few things for the house, as well as my new chair & two new cushions for my work. I have plans to redecorate my studio; a complete overhaul. I will blog about that on my work blog (HERE). (2) Since my interview, I've been super-busy at work (another blog I'm working on). This is great for business, but my clients are going to have to get used to booking ahead, not a day or two prior to the day & time they want. I am currently booking into AUGUST!! (3) My price list for 2013/2014 is done, but I won't be printing it until November (along with new business cards). However, I *do* have revamped "Promo Cards" (which go in the envelope with my gift certificates) in the works (thanks to Megan at the UPS Store near my house). FAMILY STUFF: (1) Still not getting any parenting time with Squeeks, but we *do* chat, game, FB, & text with her on a very regular basis (she wished me a "Happy StepMommy Day!" yesterday via our DRAW SOMETHING game). She's been working her tail off; training/teaching dogs on Saturdays (with her mom) and cleaning houses on Sundays. She officially was given a promotion at her mother's business. We also gave her a cash gift (in an amount equivalent to what we were going to spend on a laptop for her -- her grad gift, just a year early). She should have enough for her own car by summer's end! (2) Princess is doing great. Her Spring soccer season is about halfway over; their last game is June 2nd. Also, her (last) student-led conference (of elementary school) was last Thursday. She was only two points away from being above level in state reading, above level in math (she's been working independently, with a small group, with a higher-level book than the rest of the class, for a few months now), and at level in writing . Her teacher recommended her for the higher-level pre-Algebra class for 7th grade (there is the basic 7th grade one, and one higher than that). I could not be prouder of her. (3) GamerBoy is adjusting, mostly, to being on his own. He mostly focuses on work, school, homework, sleeping, & gaming. He's never been a social person (gets that from his father... lol), so he's not inclinded to spend time hanging with people IRL. I suppose, in his "world", online is easier. With our child support payments (which he finally got transferred to come directly to him instead of his mother), his paychecks, & his grant/scholarship funds, he's supporting himself & his schooling very nicely. He's at a crossroads now, though; trying to figure out what's next (after Spring term). We gave him some advice, but this is *his* path; the choices he makes are his, alone, to make. He must make them based on funds (as much in grants & scholarships, and as little in student loans, as possible), class requirements, interests, etc. He may even decide to take some time off, to figure out what he wants to do, & just focus on working & saving money. That's a perfectly acceptable route to take. I also reminded him that (according to Suze Orman, whom we follow pretty closely), he should focus on getting the best education he can afford, and afford to pay back... NOT the best education money can buy. (4) Ace has been getting some great/long rides in on his motorcycle. He's riding every day to work, and if he can, he takes long breaks to get some riding in. Since the weather's been so warm, a LOT of bikers are on the road, so here's a little reminder: They must follow the same laws & rules of the road that passenger vehicles do. BUT, *YOU!!* need to give them a bit more room. Stop getting up on their tail, turning when you don't have the right of way, etc; you are endangering not only your own lives, but those of the bikers. Not every biker is "an asshole who drives like shit", but they can't stop or turn as fast as you can; one T-Bone accident will kill a motorcyclist. PLEASE be on the lookout for them, and drive safe! (5) My life lately has been a whirlwind of working, classes & shows, bathroom remodel stuff, work remodel stuff, Bunco nights, taxi mom, soccer, etc... As far as the ex goes, {a} I've yet to be reimbursed for his half of Princess' contacts costs (his wife thinks he doesn't have to pay me because she feels that the contacts aren't a "necessary medical expense"; perhaps she needs to reread the court order. Mine doesn't say anything about that; only that he has to reimburse me 1/2 of ALL her uninsured medical expenses.), {b} he still owes me for her mental health appointments from three (or was it four?) years ago. Not a big deal; whether they *think* they don't have to pay it, those bills (as well as child support arrears, and all the attorney's fees judgements) are all accruing interest of 9% per year. {c} The child support has been randomly paid, at $50 each time. I got a $50 payment in November, December, January, two in February, one in March, and one last week. Personally, I think he's either trying to keep his driver's license or (and?) trying to keep his ass out of jail. {d} He hasn't called since Santamas. Yup, that's right... December 25th; four and a half months! {e} He hasn't come to any activity since her last soccer game in early November, either. I don't know why he hasn't just given up all his rights, yet... (You just watch; as soon as his wife reads this blog, he'll start calling again for a while... until he loses interest in Princess again, anyway.) OH, yeah! I almost forgot to mention -- Princess & I went to her new (next Fall) middle school for their Open House last month. They had a scavenger hunt for the sixth graders, and Princess won a lanyard. Last week, we got the planning sheet for next year; she's chosen Art and Life Skills as her electives. I was hoping for a beginner's Spanish class (as it was mentioned in the handbook), but it wasn't on the planning sheet. I sent a note to the counselor, asking about it. Just waiting on an email back, and the finalization of all that...