Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Desires for 2009

Emptying my head on virtual paper right now, planning what the business needs/wants to do for 2009. But while I'm thinking about that, a.k.a reality, I am also thinking about how things would be in an ideal world where time and money are not a concern.

What do I want to see happen in 2009? Well there's a personal level and a business level and I suppose the twain meet quite often. And no, this is not a resolution list. I don't do resolutions. I have goals and to-do lists that change all the time. Resolutions are mental prisons. I am free.

Now personally, I have two things that are my realistic goals:
1 - Seriously think about and work toward MAAAAYYBE planning for a baby next year. Can I be less concrete here? The physical prep for it can only do me good even if we decide against it but for now I want to act like it will be a go.
2 - Finish the freakin' book proposal! Spent the fall and start of winter working on the new line of greeting cards but that's not an excuse anymore.

Business-wise, I have a list of ideals. If someone said, "Monica, tell me what you want and I will make it happen," this is what I'd want:
1 - 8 more stores across the country gung-ho to sell our puzzles/greeting cards.
2 - 1 dozen teen-agers working as our teen sales team.
3 - One assistant to help me bring my ideas to life and to help us track the new and the old projects/products and one to help us focus on the customers.
4 - The website completely updated with all the bells and whistles we seek.
5 - A major vending piece in the summer and for the 2009 holidays, which will give us 4 for the year.
6 - 6 magazine mention/articles as the fun, hot, must-have product.
7 - At least 10 more sizeable custom jobs for the year.
8 - Noticeable profit for everyone involved, especially for the ones who've patiently stuck with us for the long haul.
9 - to grow from there in 2010 (even if a new baby joins the family).

So forget the resolutions. Anyone else have some goals/ideas for 2009?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What's Going On?

A lot. And not much.

I am sitting in bed on my wonderful, free laptop, which is sitting securely on my gifted purple lapdesk which is perched comfortably on my lap as I listen to Mr. T snore and I am letting you all know that not much is going on.

Bizzy Girl and I have been vending and we have one more to do for this month before we can start focusing on the new products for next year. We are going to do our first really large expo next September - about 17,000 people expected - so the job is to prepare for that while not missing our opportunities on the way. I am really excited.

I am not doing much.

The snow and ice has covered our world and more is expected. So I sit here watching whatever is on TV, catching up on my DVR'd shows, listening to the kids running and screaming. Earlier I pointed out to my husband the really fat diamond ring on some starlet's finger on Access and told him I really want one of those one day - a ring you can see from across a really wide street. We talked about that hypothetical third child and once again came to no real conclusion.

I am not doing much tonight.

A work friend texted me to thank me for recommending one of my favorite movies, Love, Actually, which I just bought but I loaned to her to watch first because she had never seen it before and I couldn't bear the thought of her not knowing that it's really not a chick flick but one of those romantic movies that is real but happy, not sappy. I've got Spanglish sitting in on my closet shelf. Do I feel like watching it tonight? Hmmm.

I am not doing much right now.

The kids just kissed me goodnight. They are planning to sleep together again tonight. I think Son thinks we don't know that he gets up in the middle of the night to play his DS or watch TV. He'll pull Daughter in with him again and she'll be tired tomorrow like she was this morning. But kids need to feel like they are getting away with things from time to time right? Not too often.

It's quiet now.

I know there is so much work to do at my job, and I managed to do 2 more jobs for my PT proofreading gig so they have stuff to do too. But tonight I won't sign on to the website or check work emails. I won't go looking on the proofreading server to see what's there. I'm just going to chill.

I am not doing much. Usually I am but right now, I am not. It's nice. Need to do this more often.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another Precious Year

38 today. Wow. It's kinda weird to see that in writing.

Daughter said I will be old soon but I think she's 5 and dazzled by the freedom of her youth. Silly rabbit.

It's was sweet to open my laptop this morning and see "Happy Birthday" and heart stickers on it. It was funny to see a card from my editorial/IT co-workers and to have chocolate on chocolate cake. How'd they guess that? :-) My laptop now sits on my purple lapdesk on my outstretched legs as I write this right now, courtesy of these same co-workers, and even though it wasn't planned for me specifically, I even got a beautiful red Swingline stapler via the Yankee swap and that too was awesome. And lunch! Don't forget my birthday lunch that one co-worker/friend took me to.

Sweet, sweet, sweet.

Lots of birthday wishes on Facebook, an ice cream cake and my son reading to his sister AND helping her finish her homework so I can eat my cake and chill. Now THAT was the best gift of all.

Husband has to go to work so I get the bed to myself.

Oh yes. It's been a very good day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Three's the Harm?

Visited my gyno this week. I always manage to forget my little medical issue until I do - if I have a third child, will he have to literally cut through bone to get to him? The X-rays I did earlier this year showed nothing. Except he's been there personally and knows I have some kind of calcification going on. It's enough to make him wonder if he'd need a bone expert with him should we go for #3. (Oh, in case you don't know. I get c-sections, thus the cutting.)

"I'd want to be prepared so I think I'd want you to do a cat scan, if you think you want to have another baby."

"uh, yeah. I'll get back to you on that."

Deliberately planning to have a child is no easy decision. Money, time, space, age and lack of energy come into play. Mr. T won't get off the fence and I can't seem to either. So I remain hopeful that God will override man's medical marvels and, if it's meant to be, Baby 3 - to be here known as The Baby - will come of his own accord, or God's.

In the meanwhile, I have my now 1-month-old nephew I can look at daily and wish I could hold. I can spend money on him if I choose and I don't lose energy doing it either. Plus, the distance actually keeps that baby bell from ringing because there is no physical contact to make me get off the fence one way or the other.

"But you keep talking about it, Monica."

You don't think I notice that? I don't know what to tell ya. The story continues.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A High Note

First of all, I just want to say my nephew is ADORABLE! Looking at his face. Had to say it. Nope. Haven't met him in person yet. Hopefully by March. I just wanted to say he's adorable and no, I'm sorry. I can't post his picture because while he is mine, he's not mine mine, you know?

I digress.

One week before my birthday - last night - I gave myself the gift of humiliation. Humiliation, once you have it, can make it easier to do something again because really, everyone already saw it so what's the mystery now?

"It" is me. Singing. Karaoke. With 2 co-workers in a contest at the office holiday party. Ok, singing isn't the best word. Nervousness had all 3 of us deciding to imbibe a bit, except I'm not a drinker so I sipped the one drink I had. Plus, it was only last week that I practically had no voice due to sinus issues. That + alcohol + nerves = 3 people singing You Can Ring My Bell in all sorts of keys. Not sure any of them were in the order they should have been.

We've discussed this before. I love to sing. Doesn't mean I'm good at it but I'm not horrible either. Of course, on a microphone, I learned that my voice sounds like someone is throwing it and it's hard to find your lost key when you don't even recognize the sound coming from your own mouth.

Nevertheless, there are some things in life that I need to do because it's part of who I am and it's not fair to bottle it up forever. Singing was one of them, whether it's karaoke or in the church choir, which I still need to do. Karaoke, at least, has the bar set really low and you have a shot at not disappointing too many people since they don't expect much anyway. After all, if I were like Whitney, I wouldn't be here blogging.

When they announced the contest, I immediately openly denounced it. "Are you doing it?" "No way!" But secretly I knew it was my chance to put that fear to rest, or at least have it take a nap for awhile. An innocent discussion with one of my departmental co-worker friends turned into her saying, "We should do it Monica!" Oh Lord. What have I gotten myself into? Next thing I know, we're convincing one of the guys to sing with us because we knew he'd be unexpected (I don't typically hang with him but I have nothing against him.) and he'd be comic relief, taking the attention from our nerves. He said yes immediately.

Then he said no. What the heck?

His departmental co-workers, he said, gave him such a hard time, next thing I know, my friend is telling me he's IMing that he's out.

So now I'm REALLY locked in while we talk him back in. After we rehearsed together a couple of times, we were laughing so hard, he was completely comfortable once again and raring to go.

Then the night came.

And he backed out again. Come on!

I won't tell you why. It will make this 6 foot something, hulking Russian guy look like a baby. But our 3rd partner came to rescue and got him back in again.

The rumors were flying. Everyone expected the Editorial chicks to do something. After all, we'd been playing "Put a Ring On It" out loud for about 2 days before the party. Playing. Singing. Dancing. Who was going to be Beyonce? That was the question. But we had no desire to humiliate ourselves THAT much.

All three of us ended up at different tables for dinner and the DJ said he wanted at least one rep from every table to sing. No one ran to the mic. So who serenaded us for awhile while we got our guts together? American Idol 5th season contestant Kevin Covais. He's 19 and adorable. He also has diabetes, thus the connection.

Still, no takers so we manned up. The Russian donned the feather boas and took the tiny bell that was drowned out by his deep voice and we had fun. Everyone else did too. People say we were brave. I guess. I only know I had something to prove to myself.

On the way home, I tried to figure out how I talked myself into this thing in the first place. What could have given me the courage? Alcohol? Naw. It's wasn't even a whole drink, though Mr. T. says I get tipsy off one. The prize money? Well, it was an incentive. Me getting ever older and less concerned about what others think? Could be. Was it that I'm working with a great group of people that I can genuinely work hard with and play hard with too? That's a possibility as well. In the end I decided I was just happy. Happy to be so blessed doing what I love, with people I respect. Living a life of purpose with a family that endlessly entertains me. I'm content. So maybe this was me showing that.

I'm glad I sorta conquered this nagging fear. It was worth it.

And yes, we won.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Make New Friends, But Keep The Old

My cell phone woke up my Christmas tree this morning. At least I'm pretty sure that's why it was twinkling its lights angrily at me when I went into my living room looking for my faithful purple friend who usually sleeps face down next to my bed. I had had a lot to drink last night - uh soda. Not spirits, thank you very much - so my bladder was kind enough to step in this morning to make sure I got going.

So I picked up my phone and in seconds it was screaming its usual wake up song at me, causing me to jump in fright.

"What gives? Why the yell, cell?"


"OK. I accidentally left you in the living room last night..."

"And I bet you didn't even notice," she hissed.

"Woah. Power down there. I noticed....this morning," I replied sheepishly.

"Ever since you won that laptop. It's been Twitter this and Facebook that and blogging more. Visiting your business groups more. Meeting people more. Networking more. Getting word out more about your business. You even play cards on it! You used to play with ME that way, looking for fun ringtones to add to your list!"

"I know, I know. I'm sorry!"

"You walked right out last night and didn't even look back! Didn't you feel like something was missing? I remember hearing you tearing up the house once before when you'd thought you lost me. I was willing someone to call you or for an alarm to go off or something because I hated hearing you in agony. I loved you!"

"But I love you too! Don't you hear me cursing myself if I get in the car in the morning and think I left you on the kitchen table? Just yesterday I was patting myself down like a criminal thinking I had to go all the way back in the house to find you..."

"But I was in your pocket the whole time."

"That's right! You're a part of me. I do notice when you're not there. You. Complete. Me."

"Awww! It's just..."

"...that the laptop is here now and yes, it's letting me do all the stuff I was too lazy to do before because I'd have to trudge all the way downstairs in the cold to my stationary computer. I'm pretty sure it's not speaking to me now."

"Yeah. It does feel neglected."

"See? And I love it too. After all, we have that special bond. It will always be my first raffle prize. Irreplaceable."

"Should have seen this coming."

"What do you mean?"

"I know. Your last cell phone told me what happened last time a laptop was in this house."

"Oh. Yeah."

"What happened to that one?"

I looked away wistfully. "It was Mr T.'s. He...sold it."

Cell phone was quiet. "Why?"

"Someone saw it at work and liked it. That man is moved by the buck."

"Hmm..." I could hear it's batteries charging. "Any chance...."

"No. Way."

We sat in silence as I blogged our story.

"Um, Monica?"


"Don't you have to get to work and get the kids up for school?"

"Oh shoot! What time is it?"

"Almost 7. What's wrong, your new laptop couldn't tell you that?"

I chose not to answer that. Laptop tells me the time alright, but in gentle prodding ways over in the corner of the screen. It doesn't like to intrude.

"Naw. Guess it can't do what you can Celly. And it's not a cool color like you are either."

"You're darn skippy it's not. Anybody can wear black. It's takes someone cool to pull off purple the way I do."

"Come on. Let me here that familiar ring again. Just, please, tone it down this time?"

Ahhh, the sweet sound of a cell phone alarm. Nothing like it.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Order in My Court

I am going to be 38 in 15 days. So you'd think I'd know me by now. But I seem to be at some odd stage where I am noticing things about myself again, like I did in my 20s, and realizing I've been this way my whole life. It's like Dorothy discovering she could get home the whole time.

Take this organization compulsion I have. Never thought a thing about it before now. Never saw it as a positive or a negative. Never put it on a resume as a skill. It simply didn't stand out for me as a trait. Only now does it seem to be proving it plays a huge part in who I am and how I do things.

All my life I have:

1 - liked things to balance in every way possible.
2 - hated for things to be out of place and that goes for people too.
3 - loathed messiness. My space, whatever it was, was neat when I started and neat when I ended because who wants to come back to the same stuff from a different day?
4 - made lists.
5 - preferred even numbers to odd. Ok that one may be a little off but it's just another form of balance to me.
6 - nothing really. Just wanted to end with an even number.

People noticed how my desk at work was always clean at the end of the day. When writing papers in school, organizing my thoughts was never the issue. Neither was organizing my locker. If you look in my car's glove compartment, you won't be afraid that you'll lose a hand in there.

I get a thrill at just seeing things in place. I feel at peace. I feel content. If it's messy, I feel scattered. I feel wrong. I get jumpy. I just can't think straight. Normal. I didn't think much about this. So what if I think clothes should be put in rainbow order. How else do you know what you have? Books should be categorized according to subject first, then either alphabetical by author or according to size (depends on my mood). And if you take something out of place, put it back so you'll never have to hunt for things.

I've been known to leave the house late for something because things are out of order. I tend to count things too like how many grapes I put into a sandwich bag to take to work. Gotta be an even number. I suppose I have a little Monk disorder.

So here I am facing 38 - and I have no problem with that - and I find myself growing less and less tolerant of certain behaviors in others as my own compulsions come more fully into the light. To my family: Will everyone please stop coming home and dropping stuff in the middle of the kitchen floor and dumping crap on the table? Why can't the stupid towels get hung up and why do people keep asking me whose is whose when I am the only one who hangs them up in the first place - in the same places - every time?

Balance and order. That's all I want. Is that too much to hope for? I suppose it is for some. I suppose I can be over the top. I laughingly tell people the extent to which I try to balance things, just to see their heads spin. For instance, I told you my birthday. Dec. 18th. Well, Daughter's birthday is Oct. 28. Note the 8 in her number like in mine. (I picked the day so it's no coincidence. I love 8's.) I didn't pick Son's date, however. His is March 14. I didn't pick Mr. T's either. His is Jan. 4. See all the even numbers? Makes me very happy. And notice the way the birthdays fell. the 1st and 3rd month of the year for the boys. The 10th and 12th months for the girls. The balancing of the placement of the months overrides the odd number of the boys' months. (Hey! I'm letting you in my head here for a sec. No judgments!) Soooo, you might remember that a 3rd child (nope, no fourth) has always been up in the air. But I know I'd be picking that date too. How do I get my balance? Well, I'd have to get pregnant in September, first of all. It's an anniversary month so not unlikely. That way I can shoot for June 6 or 16th. Middle month, middle number. Head spinning yet? This is my world. Thanks for visiting.

Back to my patience, she is a dwindling. Take my kids (please!). My kids' rooms stay in a war-torn state and it sickens me every time I look in there. "But they're kids!" "All kids' rooms are messy!" Are they? Really? REALLY? I called my mother not long ago because I had to know. I was giving myself this same excuse in my head but for the life of me it wasn't ringing true. I couldn't remember junk being all over my floor as a kid. Now, I never liked making up a bed, I admit. But I was forever trying to find ways to make things fit neatly together so I could get to whatever I wanted fast. I distinctly remember moving things around a lot always looking for the better way. Dolls were fitted neatly on each others' laps. Games were together and boxes were in size order. My mother confirmed it. I liked everything in its place. So, this mess my kids live in? It's because this is who they are, not simply because they are kids. They will mature and get better, I know. But I will be cleaning up behind them because it's who I am and it stresses me out to do nothing about it.

Who am I? Apparently I am who I always was but I didn't know this aspect until now. But it pleases me to know that I am this way because I have always admired it in others. So now, I admire myself. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy abstract stuff too , if only because I like to try to bring order to it, in my own mind anyway. Yeah. This is me. It's a little neurotic to others but when those same people are missing something, who they gonna call? You got it. And I'll be there to answer.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Oh Sonny Boy

I have 2 children. They are both the offspring of Mr. T and myself. They look alike, they act like, sometimes they even annoy alike. In my analysis thus far, Daughter exhibits the traits I like or accept in myself. Son exhibits the ones I have issues with.

I've talked about him before and will continue to do so not just because it's my blog and I'll whine I want to, but because this is how I process.

Daughter is moody, like me. It doesn't bother me.
Daughter isn't really a morning person, like me. I respect that.
Daughter has a fiery temper, like me. Son fears her at times. I just smile in recognition or else put her in her place.

Son is picky. I never called myself this but yeah, I like what I like and forget the rest. Still, I want him to be open because I wish I had been braver about things when I was younger.
Son is dramatic. Don't really see myself this way but that fiery temper tends to be my response to things sometimes and certainly that is over the top.
Son is slow to accept change. This could be related to the pickiness. I'm cool with change that I initiate. Otherwise, I may need a minute to readjust.

If you put my two baby bears on a rainbow and gave them a color, Daughter would be red and Son would probably be blue. So why do I clash more with my blue Son? Still figuring that out.

I admitted to a friend not too long ago that I prefer dealing with Daughter because she's easier for me. Ironic, considering I never wanted a daughter in the first place for fear we'd be too much alike and fight all the time. Son is actually easy to love. He's sweet, respectful, sincere, affectionate, smart, and when you really think about that whole pickiness thing, I suppose it shows he's strong-willed too. Who can't like those qualities? Well, those aren't the things that get to me.

Before you tell me not to compare my children, I tell you I already know they are individuals and to love them for who they are, blah blah blah. The fact is Daughter is brave. I wish Son were moreso. So many times things have come up that I am certain he would have liked if only he weren't so afraid of new things. When Daughter gets stressed, she gets angry. I suppose that is an emotion I understand so it doesn't bug me as much, though I do tell her she'll get nowhere with it. Son, on the other hand, cries and whines and repeats himself over and over and it nearly drives me nuts because of the relentless repetition of it all. If something doesn't make sense in his homework, he whines for help (I really never liked whining.) and there is this whole begging thing in his voice that grates on my nerves. I want to tell him to man up. Stop whimpering. Just say you don't get it in a normal voice. (I told you I know he's 8. Doesn't change how I feel.)

Now, I don't make things easy on them, I confess. When it comes to homework, I don't hand out answers like candy on Halloween. I say, "Look at it again. Read it again. Tell me what you understand. Tell me what you don't understand. Look at the homework in its totality. Is there nothing there to clue you in as to how you should get your answer?" (Generally, this is related to math homework.) Unlike me, Son is a linear thinker and that is something I don't know what to do with. If he knows one way to get an answer, then that is what he does forever. The moment the numbers change order or the math turns to words, all hell breaks loose.

"Son. You CAN do this. Stop. Think. Read it slowly. Doesn't some of this look familiar?"

"I don't know! I can't do it!"

Wanna get me riled up? Tell me you "can't" when you haven't even tried.

So I get stressed and wonder how to teach him how to think creatively. How do I convey that there is usually more than one way to get an answer. 9 times out of 10, when I come home to that unfinished homework he says he can't do, I ask questions, I say what I said before and suddenly he can do it after all. Still, he doesn't realize yet that he CAN do it if he tries and that all I ever ask is that you at least try before you give up. Don't immediately jump to how you can't or how it won't work or how it's not exactly how you thought it should be so it must not be the right way.

My struggles with him is in his confidence. I get angry when he downs himself, saying he's stupid or doesn't know how to do things. "I don't like math because I can't do it." But he can! Even his teachers from every single grade so far say he can. Now, I tell him he may not like it, and that's fine but he can't do it? He's lying to himself and needs to cut it out.

I suppose my fight with him is not about today, it's about tomorrow. I'm afraid he won't see what I see - a smart, creative kid with so many natural abilities if he'd let himself be aware of them. I fear he'll be a follower. Sometimes you have to but never at the expense of your own will and morals. I'm scared he'll miss out because he's suspicious of new things. When we have our shouting matches - well, me shouting, him whining - I'm pretty sure he's in the moment. I keep thinking of what today's insecurity could develop into if I don't snap him out of it. But the counselor in me also is aware that I have to be here and just make myself chill out and embrace the boy of today lest he think I don't like him for who he is. Couldn't be further from the truth. It's who he is that I see so clearly. But right now it is masked by the qualities that need refinining. And that remains the challenge - setting aside my ways so I can deal with his effectively and shine a spotlight on the things he has yet to appreciate.

It's simply not easy for me. Don't be surprised if I vent some more on the topic one day. I know all of this frustration on my part risks our future relationship, at least during those teen and early adult years when so many people are coming into their own and don't know what they don't know yet. I know that I risk giving him some sort of complex maybe or driving him into himself because he thinks I don't accept him.

Still, in all my frustration, it is easy for me to tell him how great he is and in my imperfection, I can only pray that he will one day see that all I ever wanted was the best for him and we'll finally reach a place where he too fully loves himself as much as I love him. He's my first-born after all; the one who showed me that being a parent is an honor and receiving the love of a child is a privilege. He's the one who started me on the path to enjoying simply providing for him because it made me feel good to see him healthy and happy and content to just be my son. The last thing I want to do is jeopardize all that but I have my signs. I listen out for the familiar, "Hug and kiss. I love you" that I get every night before he goes to bed. He insists upon it, in fact. That's how I know we're still in the game. I intend for us to win it.