Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Safe and Sound

Just a quick note to say yes, everyone made it home safe and sound. The house that was pristine for 3 weeks looked like two mini tornadoes had struck. My daughter was climbing all over her daddy. My son kept telling me he had the best time ever. They were both eager to pull out the new clothes my great-aunt had bought them down there. They left with one suitcase that had a little wiggle room. My husband had to take an extra one down with him and they both came back packed to the gills. Where all this stuff will go is a question for another day.

So Son got up singing about being a 1st grader. Daughter wanted to know if she was going too but I told her her school doesn't start until the 5th and she'd have to abide us a bit longer. Son put on his new Batman sweatsuit and shirt, which all matches with the Batman bookbag I had bought him before he went to Georgia so he could use it as his rolling carryon. He went to put on his new Sketchers sneakers that zip up and no luck. They just wouldn't zip. Husband felt them and said they were too small. I called my mother since I don't know why they'd get shoes that didn't fit but she said they fit there and he walked around in them. Needless to say, tears. (Oh boy. Back to the tears.) He put on his old sneakers and I told him we'd just have to look for a similar pair here because they don't sell the same stuff in every state so I couldn't promise we'd find them. He got through it and caught his bus. Wet eyes, wet weather but another year has begun.

Next week: Daughter's Preschool Debut. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 28, 2006

School Bell's A-Ringing

Well, it's coming to an end - summer, my mommy break, my time to think uninterrupted thoughts, a quiet household. Husband and I went to the movies Friday night and ran into some friends we hadn't seen in about 2 or more years. They didn't know we had a second child. They had their 7th three years ago. It was good to see them and we left happy to only have 2 kids for now. Saturday we went to dinner in N.Y. at Cleopatra's Needle. Apparently Rachel Ray was there not too long ago. I had the Moussakah, just like she did, according to our waiter. It was delicious. But Husband had a taste for steak and lobster so we ignored the downpour and went back to dinner Sunday in N.Y. - Sammy's on City Island. Yummy stuff as well. We had lots of quality time since he worked double shifts every day this past week or more. So this weekend was nice. A non-stop 3-day date where both parties were sure to get lucky. :-)

Husband flew out this morning to get the kiddies. He missed them. Talked about them all weekend but he knows he has no choice because this is vital to my sanity and important for my side of the family who don't get the time with them that his does. Still, he's gotten into the swing of things. It took a couple of years but I know he's finding the value in this time as well. It gives us a chance to remember what dating was like - without all the awkwardness. And he's even talking about planning a trip next year to coincide with their time away. But after 3 weeks, we get to missing them and it'll be good to have them back.

So off he flew. I woke him up at 2 a.m. He woke me up about 30 minutes later with a bright light and packing. He left about 3:40 a.m. for a 6 a.m. flight to Atlanta. He was supposed to be in Valdosta, Ga. at 11:30 this morning but the flight was canceled. Not enough people, he guessed. Instant 6-hour layover. Thankfully, he has family in Atlanta so his brother will be picking him up for lunch and he'll have a 3:10 flight out.

I can hear the squeals now - on both sides. Daddy will make his aiport appearance at 4:13 p.m., my father will pick him up, the kids will be delighted when he gets to the house and the changing of the guard will commence. They leave 6:30 tomorrow morning and I won't rest completely until every reason for my existence is back here where I can touch them. (I'm not afraid to fly. Love it actually, but airplanes will always be a source of concern for me. Husband mentioning the crash in Kentucky didn't help matters for either of us, plus it's raining buckets in CT.)

So school starts on Wednesday for Son. He'll be in 1st grade and he'll have a teacher who is new to the school. By her name, I believe it's a safe bet that she's black and that will make her the only one in the whole school. Lucky Son. I told my girlfriend about her and she thinks she may be the same woman who worked at my son's literacy camp at our church this summer. Hopefully that is the case because I can trust the quality of the people the camp director selects to teach the children. So, Son will come home to new purple sheets on his bed - our favorite color - and a Spiderman pillow that says, "We know you don't have your own room yet but we want you to still feel like you have a space for now."

Daughter doesn't start preschool until September 5th and I'm still wondering if she might be too young but they were willing to take her now instead of waiting until she is officially 3 in October so I said, why not? She's been wanting to go to school for a long time and she will be in a familiar setting since it was Son's preschool not too long ago. Of course with the loss of a babysitter every day, I now must do her hair myself - not my forte - but it will be good to see her transition into a new phase in her life.

So the basement has been straightened up a bit more. New boxes have been bought and prepped for all the 1st grade and preschool papers and artwork to come home. Old clothes are gone and donated. Old toys have been whisked away to the dump. And now, it's time for something new. A new school year. A new classroom for one. A new school for the other. A time for everyone to get used to each other again and then a familiar routine returns.

I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Medical Marvels and All That Jazz

Went to my gyno yesterday. Love him. Told my husband if we ever have to move, we must have all our children in this state first because I would hate to give up my gynocologist.

Yesterday he reminded me that I am 35. I knew what that meant when I turned 35. I forgot what it meant until I saw him.

"So, you're 35 now. Have you thought about getting a mammogram?"

Slapped myself in the forehead. How did I forget that fast? Clearly selective amnesia. I have no history of breast cancer in my family so that's probably another reason why I wasn't thinking about it.

"Don't I have to go every year now?"
"No. You won't have to go again until you are 40, provided they don't find anything, but you don't have a history."
"So if I go now, I won't have to go for another 5 years then."
"That's one way to look at it."

I told him I have yet to hear good things abou that test. Somehow we've made it up to 2006, gotten our cell phones down to the size of Tinkerbell, our cars tell us how to get where we're going and where they are if they are stolen, and we no longer need actual cash in hand for any transaaction. But we still have to barbarically smash women's breasts in a vice to see if there is cancer.

"I'll get back to you on that," I promised him without looking him in the eye. "I've got some calls to make first."

Called my friend who is a nurse. She's 37: "Ha! I'm not going until I'm 40! Are you crazy?"
Called my friend who has a high tolerance for pain. She's 45: "Yeah. I dread it every time. I feel it. It just doesn't bother me as much as most people."
Called my mother. She's 56: "Depends on who does it. I've had it done and been in pain until the next day." (There's a ringing endorsement if ever I heard one.) But they have a new way that's way better."

Wait! A new way? Doc didn't mention that. So, now I have to check that out.

Now my other reason for considering this now instead of later? Doc asked if I was planning to have more kids. "Not 100% sure yet but high possibility," I told him. "Well, we never x-rayed your stomach and we really should do that."

Why, you ask? Because I have eczema. And somehow that accelerates the healing process for me. Actually I think I know how that works, but I won't get into that here. So after I had Son by C-section apparently my scar on the inside turned into bone. Doc had never seen that before and said it was really odd. When I had Daughter, also by C-section, it was a little tough to cut through that bone he said. So the question is, is it actually bone and is it thicker than before? And if so, is it still growing and may pose a problem for him to get through should I decide to have another child in oh, say 2 years or so? If so, he says he may have to call in an orthopedic surgeon to help out. One more to join the peep show. Why not?

Yep, I'm some kind of medical marvel, apparently. So it would be good to know today to prepare for tomorrow.

Still, I'm not anxious to turn my watermelons into pancakes, so I think I have some research to do on that "new way." In the meanwhile, got any mammogram stories you'd like to share? In particular about this "new way"?

Monday, August 21, 2006

All's Well

So does it mean anything that I haven't had anything to really write about this week? I've been busy, mind you. We talked to our new web designers and I sent them images to kick this project off. I may have someone to putting the finishing touches on our logo and really connect it to what we do. We have two jobs to do as well, so business-wise, we're not just hanging around.

Yesterday I stayed home and wrote ALL DAY. Missed church because I just had that desire to write and when I get that way, I go with it. First time I ever got the chance to do that for about 12 hours straight. I have to get my assignment done for my children's writing course but I'm also looking into magazines to submit two other things I wrote and I came up with 2 more ideas while working on my lesson (which I also intend to refine for submission), so I am busy there too. I even plan to get out of here and go write something that's on my To-Do list for my job because I still feel like writing. I guess sometimes it's hard to decide what I want to put here because some things - quite frankly - I want to get paid to say, or at least get published by someone other myself.

So where does that leave my blog? Well, maybe my life isn't all that dramatic, but that's a good thing, isn't it? Do I have to wait until my kids get home to have something to say? Naw. I was Monica long before they came along and I wasn't bored then. Hmm. Maybe I'm just having a peaceful week. I can recall plenty of times when I longed for quiet - physically, mentally, emotionally. The cross I bear is eczema and it can be pretty dibilitating when it gets wild so I think back to the last bad bout I had that lasted for 5 months and gave me two days when I was unable to walk no matter how hard I tried. I think back to that and I say, Thank You God for peace and health. You never really know how good you have it until it's gone - even temporarily. So I choose to be grateful for this turn of peace.

I'm off to work to write some more. Maybe I'll see ya later!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

For the Fun of It

Wow! Has it been almost a week already? I've been busy with my children's writing assignment and my business' website redesign, not to mention work itself and oh yes, hanging out with hubby. So for now, since all is busy but quiet, I'll just entertain you with a little video and a few choice words.

The video is a la Grandma, yet again, and stars you know who. My babies! Take a minute to long for the days when you didn't care what people thought.

Like that? Me too.

Now this list is compliments of a former co-worker/current friend who was forwarded it from someone else. Maybe you've seen it. Maybe not. Gave me some giggles. Maybe you'll get some too. Enjoy and I'll catch you later!

Thoughts For Those Who Take Life Way Too Seriously:

1. Save the whales. Collect the whole set.

2. A day without sunshine is like night.

3. On the other hand, you have different fingers

4. 42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.

5. 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.

6. Remember, half the people you know are below average.

7. He who laughs last thinks slowest.

8. Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.

9. The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese in the trap.

10. Support bacteria. They're the only culture some people have.

11. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

12. Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.

13. If you think nobody cares, try missing a couple of payments.

14. How many of you believe in psycho-kinesis? Raise my hand.

15. OK, so what's the speed of dark?

16. When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

17. Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.

18. Every one has a photographic memory. Some just don't have film.

19. How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?

20. Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines

21. What happens if you get scared half to death twice?

22. I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder.

23. Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?

24. Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the hell happened.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Remembering Me

You know I was visiting someone who visited me recently - Flash is new to this blogging game too I think, just a little newer than I am. She was talking about great underwear having the power to make a woman feel good. I commented that it was indeed true that that power continued way after the sun sets on your college, carefree days. But music has that power too.

I'm sitting here right now listening to Ne-Yo after being steered to (excellent. you've gotta try it) by another fellow blogger. I was already planning to buy him because the boy's got my kind of soul. (Aside: Highly recommend him. Check him out on pandora for free, first. Hey, even we Christians like to groove, my friends.) I rarely buy music the way I did in college, not because I don't want it but just because it's become one of those disposable income type items since the kiddies came along. But yesterday I just did it and the mix of losing 10 pounds so far, thus feeling more like myself; my husband looking at me yesterday like he'd just met me when he saw me wearing something that FIT properly (losing weight tends to screw up wardrobe options for awhile); and listening to Ne-Yo all makes for some very good feelings overall.

So today I happily sit here at work an hour early because I have to leave early to go on some mysterious date with hubby tonight to only-he-knows-where (Aside: Our anniversary is Sept. 8th. I suspect it's connected to that). I'm feeling way better about me now and it's part the journey back to a size I prefer and part simply having the time to remember myself while the kids are gone. I know so many mothers who throw their hands up in a pretend wish for this kind of time but I tell them few things are handed to you. You have to make it happen. Kids grow up and move on and you will be stuck with a person you don't know (you AND your spouse, if you're married) if you don't take the time to spend some time with you and some time with your significant other. "How can you let them go for so long," they ask. Easy. It's their time to bond with the people whose genes contributed to their existence and it's my time to rekindle my love for myself and the things I love - all part of the person God made me to be. Happy, self-confident mommies help make happy, self-confident kids. It's worth the 3 weeks we spend apart once a year.

But this is my way. I'd love it if you chimed in (that means YOU too, lurkers!) and tell us all how you keep connected to yourself.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Do A Little Dance

I'm getting into this thing called blogging, ya'll. I've been telling people that I realized it's like scrapbooking and you all know how I feel about scrapbooking. HATE IT! But blogging I like, including all this additional work of adding amenities to it. So I had to try this. I've just GOT to see if I can get this up on M.O.M. for all the world to see. My mother sent this to me today of the kids playing in the yard. They are in Georgia, now, thus the massive amounts of clothing. Doesn't correlate? Well, it's all about the bugs and keeping the sun off them and Daughter gets these HUGE bumps when mosquitoes bite her. I don't know what's up with that. Anyway, I'm hoping this works. Bear with me. Oh, and be sure you listen too!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Photo Interlude

Loving the quiet. Getting stuff done. Getting some sleep. It's heaven. But for your viewing pleasure, here are some photos from Grandma's house. The first one is when I was there on Saturday but the rest is since I left.

Something about this one reminds me of the famer with the pitchfork and his wife. Or does she have the pitchfork? Who knows. But it's very country, which is fitting for Brooks County, Georgia.

Yeah, he likes to read. But no, he's not quite THAT studious yet. Gotta do summer reading for school. Over-achieving mommy + super-achieving grandma = tons o' books for Son to read.

You'd never guess this is the same girl who answers the phone with, "Daddy, can you pick me up now?"

OK. I didn't notice this until now, but no, Daughter is not an alien, though sometimes I wonder. Hmmmm.

He picked this shirt out all by himself.

She's only 2 but clearly modeling is in her future. Husband said she's being too sexy. Of course he could have been referring to the other green dress picture above. Only a daddy would notice something like that. I just think she's super girly - with a fist like steel.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Summertime and the Living is Child Free

Babies eating breakfast at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

Three weeks of Child-Free Living has begun. We flew out on Friday morning, getting up at 2 a.m. The kids surprised me by staying awake the entire hour it took to drive to the airport in Hartford, as well as on the first plane ride. The second plane ride was shorter - about 45 minutes - but for the passengers it may as well lasted FOREVER. Daughter was sleepy and the whole darn plane knew it. This year she was old enough to have her own seat and she had to stay in it while the seat belt sign was lit up.

It STAYED lit up the whole time.

It's a smaller propeller plane and you feel the turbulence more, so it was justified but Daughter did not care. "Please! I'm sleepy! Hold me! Get this (the seatbelt) off me! Please, mommy!" Not fun to listen to. She kicked and karate chopped me - yes, that's the best way to describe her movements. She screamed at the top of her lungs. Son had already fallen asleep. The guy in front of me moved up two rows. The woman diagonal from me looked over but I couldn't tell if she was just wondering what I was going to do or had sympathy or what. Whatever. I tend to ignore the rest of the world in those moments because children will be children know matter who is around. If people don't know that, too bad.

Daughter kept at it. The girl knocked the seat loose. If there had been a water landing, we would have been ready to go. She started all this before taking off so I put her on my lap to sleep and she immediately snuggled in and quieted down. Then the stewardess in front broke the peace and told me she'd have to be in the seat. I laughed at her and said, "If you insist. It's YOUR ears." Thus commenced the drama. The stewardess from the rear emerged from nowhere to ask if she could get her anything.
"No. She's just tired."
"Some juice?" she asked me.
What are you? Deaf? Childless?
"Noooo, she simply wants to sleep. She does not want to sit in the seatbelt. There is nothing you can do. Thank you."

I thought it was interesting that Daughter could sit on my lap last year as a 1-year-old. Mind you, it's not like she was in the seatbelt with me. I simply held her. But this year, I couldn't do the same? I didn't bother to ask why. Too busy getting karate chopped and whispering sweet nothings in her ear.

All in all, it was a good trip. I bought rolling bookbags for them as carry ons and they happily wheeled them all over the airports and all over the house when we got to my parents' place. I'm sure they are still wheeling them now.

I do love Southern Georgia. So quiet and my parents are surrounded by cotton fields (was corn fields when I was growing up) and more quiet. I can hear myself think there and I just feel at home. It always conjures up thoughts of my grandparents and my summers there, which were always good times. I hope my children feel the same one day.

But now I am "home" with hubby - he was the first person to give me that familiar feeling. We slept blissfully and soundly through the night last night. Yes, slept. He's sick from all the air conditioning and heat mixing in his nasal passages, and I was too tired to even look at him. I've got so much stuff to work on but it's not stressing me out because I know I can go home and work as late as I want, undisturbed.

August 28th Husband goes back to get them. They come home on the 29th and school starts for Son on the 30th. (Yeah, it's close, but it's better than figuring out what to do with Son for a few days.) He's looking forward to 1st grade. I'm looking forward to Daughter going to preschool and officially moving out of babyhood.

Life is good. And quiet. I miss them.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Growth of a Dream

Finally. What I've been trying to write for way too long now. One of the things I juggle in my life is having a business while doing the other stuff - motherhood, working a full-time job, trying to get published, etc. Sometimes I see how much people have accomplished at an age earlier than myself and I wish I had been a little more proactive when I was younger - mainly in regards to buying a house and sticking to my guns about NEVER having a credit card (at least not until I had a full-time job). But as I tell people I know who hold on a little too long to their regrets - thus making themselves somewhat miserable - I made the best choices I could at the time and punishing myself for the not-so-great ones for the rest of my life is simply counter-productive and an energy drainer. Besides, I moved to this state alone when I was 24 and that still shocks a lot of people around here. I had my full-time job; the best apartment ever with the most flexible and non-nosey landlady; I put myself through grad school and in all that time did lots of self-exploration to a point where even counselors are amazed at how self-aware I am at 35 when so many people continue to live in a state of denial. For me and what I want to do in life, these are not bad accomplishments. So I get out of my momentary funk and remember that I have done some other things right too. Two of them call me mommy. One of them calls me wife. One of my favorites is my business and this year, we've gotten the greatest encouragement ever to keep doing what we're doing.

We are Village Works Enterprises LLC and we make puzzles. What kind is limitless really, but for now our main product is greeting card puzzles, with custom jobs tucked in for extra profit cushion. We started this too long ago to state but we didn't become an LLC until last year so that is the year we list as our official start of business. It took a while in the start to figure out how to do what we wanted to do. The actual first pieces of artwork didn't arrive until maybe 2 or 3 years after that. (Aside: If you want to start a business while working a full-time job, be prepared to wait for things to come to pass but you have to actively wait; work and wait.) We were too excited. Just the best stuff ever. Now we had a physical manifestation of our vision and we learned that once other folk could see what we saw, they too got excited.

Fast forward to this year and my partner attends a meeting. She is part of a business savings program that matches what we save for our business 3 times over. They have classes to attend on all sorts of topics. One night she attended the best meeting EVER and learned something we had not learned in the X number of years we had been doing this - there is REAL help for small businesses. Not your standard help from SBA or SCORE, which we love. We haven't met with our SCORE counselor in quite some time because we joined a group that he was actually a part of and got the same sort of help. We loved our counselor. Still do. He was a tremendous help and best of all he loved what we showed him. This man was our complete opposite - retired, white male - and he bought the dream. Truth be told, that was a boost for our confidence. It showed we had in fact crossed that all too crucial racial line. Our stuff looked like us but appealed to the masses. (Sorry. Tangent was a little longer than I expected.) Nope, we found out that in our part of Connecticut (can't speak for the rest of the country), there are people who honestly want to GIVE US MONEY via loans that don't hurt at all. My partner found out about groups that somehow had eluded us all this time. No small feat given her major connections in our community via her full-time job and my own work with the public/community through the various things I have done in my free time over the years. How had we not heard of these places?

She called me after the meeting. It was late and there was no way she would have called unless she REALLY needed to share this. I got excited too. I could finally do what I've been avoiding - add the numbers. Find out how much it will really cost to do all we want to do. For the first time, there's a chance we could get the financial help we need to pull this off the way it should be done.

We love our puzzles. We love making them and seeing the faces of the people we make them for. We love doing something that may benefit our children not just financially but who knows. They may want to take it over someday or take it somewhere better. We love helping the community. (We give 10% of our profits to specific charities and we're working on spotlighting a local cause every so often to help in addition.) I personally love the creative side of it all and taking what someone wants and making it better. We had 2 satisfied custom customers this month. One already asked us to do a second job. The other brought lots of requests for our biz card from the
people who received the puzzle. The web site will be redesigned this year and look way more professional than it does now. We've got so much going it, it's starting to look too cluttered for my taste. Besides, I maintain that site right now and I have reached a place where I'd rather let the people who know how to do the things that are a chore for me, be the ones to do them. I want to concentrate on what I do best -developing the product and telling people about it (not the same as sales, however. Wish it were!) The new catalog is in production, the logo is reworked just a tad and we continue to federally protect every new piece of artwork we have created for our company. We have 1 storeowner I met just last week (I saw her store and decided to just walk in and see what happened) who has said she will listen to us in September and another one we've been wanting to talk to so now I will go ahead and make that move to set up a meeting because we designed something just for her that we think her customers will like.

It feels good but it's far from time to quit my day job. (Thank God I love my day job.) The hope is to get to a place a few years from now where I can quit and finally work from home permanently. The dream is to do that and be a published writer too and eventually move into coaching later in life - all while raising my 2(?) kids and showing them that they can do all things in Christ who strengthens them. The goal is to live for them the life of someone who knows her God-given gifts and talents and uses them and they will want to do the same because true joy lives in being who you are and doing what God meant for you to do.

In the end, that's all either of us wants to do. Help other people achieve their dreams and discover who God made them be and what He made them to do. I couldn't ask for a better gig.

QUICK UPDATE: Village Works Enterprises gets 10 seconds of fame!

I was driving in to work this morning and on the radio I was listening to 98.7 KISS FM out of New York. They had a segment called Side Hustle Wednesdays and I got in on the very first try! The screener sounded intrigued. I was on that call for a total of 24 minutes and 43 seconds, praying I didn't lose the call in that Bermuda Triangle-like spot you pass when you hit Westport on I-95. The actual conversation was about 10 seconds but I told the tri-state area what we do and our website address. I can't wait to look at StatCounter tonight! Calling in on the radio is always a long shot but it was free advertising and worth a try. Another lesson in following your heart. It always pays in the end - hopefully literally!