Random Saturdays – Happy New Year!

Today is the first day of the Year of the Fire Rooster.  This is especially exciting to me because I am a Rooster.  Ba-kawk!  It also gives me another opportunity for a New Year’s post.  I haven’t posted anything since before Christmas because I was on vacation, and then got sick, and then became very busy trying to get back into the swing of things.

January hasn’t ended yet, and it seems like my calendar is already packed to the gills – places to go, things to do, people to see, bills to pay.  Recently, Minecraft told me about how this school year seems to be flying by faster than any other school year.  He couldn’t believe that it was already Christmas and his birthday is just around the corner now.  I told him that the first time I had that feeling was in the 4th grade.  Every year since then has seemed to go by faster than the year before.

I haven’t made any real resolutions this year because I am constantly battling with my health and constantly trying to figure out how to put more than 24 hours into the day.  I did sign up for the Run The Year 2017 challenge with Cathy.  I’m trying to be more active for the sake of my health.  I’m sick so much of the time, but I don’t want to sit around when I’m not too sick to be active.  I’m hoping that will help me feel better more often so that I can enjoy more time with friends and family.  I also learned over the holidays that I tend to be GO-GO-GO!!! one day and then need to rest the next day (or two) to recover.  If I do that, I don’t seem to get sick quite as easily.  If I’m not sick as often, then I’ll have more time to enjoy with my friends and family.  It’s the closest solution I’ve found to putting more hours into the day.

I wish that I were healthy, that I could just wake up, work out, go to work, eat healthy, take some vitamins, and call it a day.  I’m tired of beating myself up over the fact that I’m not like that, though.  I recently signed up for some newsletters and videos from Dr. Christiane Northrup where she talks about accepting your limitations and the signals your body gives you.  If your body tells you something, then you should listen.  It doesn’t mean that you’re weak or flawed, and acting on those signals will make you healthier and happier in the long run.  I felt like that was The Universe telling me that I’m getting on the right track with self-care (finally).

Since I am a Rooster, this year is supposed to be unlucky for me.  I’m just going to ignore that and try to wear red socks when I work out and red PJs when I’m recovering.  If anyone has any better ideas, please let me know, especially if they involve getting more sleep or eating more cookies.

新年快樂!

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Random Saturdays – Welcome Holidays!

The holiday season is here!  If you’re old like me, you find yourself saying, once again, “I can’t believe it’s already November.  Where did the year go?”  If you love the holiday season like me, you are also excited that the holiday season is here.  Canada has already celebrated Thanksgiving, and Halloween and Election Day have just passed in the U.S.  The next big U.S. holiday is, of course, Thanksgiving.

The holiday season is also the birthday season in my world.  From October – March it’s a non-stop birthday celebration.  I used to be one of the few summer birthday people that I knew.  Now that I’m married, half of the family have birthdays during birthday season, and the other half of the family has birthdays in the summer.  I’ve always felt sorry for people who had birthdays around the holidays because their birthdays are overshadowed by the big holidays, especially if you’re born around Christmastime.  That’s why I try to make a point of giving separate Christmas and birthday presents to Christmas babies.  Plus, there are so many great sales during the holiday season that it should be easier to shop for holiday season babies.

Oh and shopping.  There’s the neverending fight between shopping vs. meaningful holidays.  I really don’t think that they are mutually exclusive.  I believe you just have to be aware of the meaning in holidays and you have to try to share that meaning with others when you are giving gifts.  This is especially tricky with kids because they are naturally inclined to just want stuff, lots and lots of stuff.  If we don’t teach them to be grateful for what they have and to think about what they can give and do for others, then they turn into ungrateful adults who have the nerve to think they can actually criticize gifts given to them and favors done for them.  That is the type of attitude that kills the holiday spirit and turns everything into a debate about the “true” meaning of any given holiday in a bad way.

This was our first holiday season together. The kids are about twice the size as they were then. My stomach is about twice the size s it was then. (From left to right: Dora, Lego, Ben, Minecraft)


I am American and I celebrate Thanksgiving.  I love the food.  I love time off from work.  I love spending time with my family and friends. When I plan Thanksgiving at my house, I always try to do it as low key as possible, but then find myself stressing myself out by trying to cook everything perfectly and make the house look immaculate.  I do it to myself.  Not once has anyone ever criticized me for not having enough food, the right food, a dirty home, ugly decorations, etc.  It’s all in my head.  With the kids, I’m trying to be more aware of that and remember that if I stress myself out over this crap that doesn’t matter, then they will learn to stress themselves out over crap that doesn’t matter as well.  Just as bad, they may start stressing others out about crap that doesn’t matter and think they are entitled to criticize the cooking and entertaining abilities of others.  So, I’m trying not to pass stress and judgement on to my kids.

Then there’s Christmas.  Let me say now that I am not Crhstian but I do celebrate Christmas.  I grew up Christian, spent many years in a crisis of faith, and have finally found myself in a good spiritual place, the details of which I am not going to delve into during this post.  I celebrate Christmas because it’s what I grew up with and it represents a time of giving and spending time with loved ones for me.  When I had the Great Santa Claus Crisis around the age of 10, my mother told me that she believed in Santa Claus because he was the spirit of giving.  So, no matter how old you were, you should always believe in Santa Claus.  No matter how much or how little you got in your stocking, you should always believe in Santa Claus.  I decided to adopt that belief as my own.

We just had the kids write their letters to Santa because we won’t see them much in November and we wanted to make sure that Santa had plenty of time to get their letters.  They asked for some surprising gifts, but also had interesting conversations with Santa.  Dora was concerned that Santa might not like the milk and cookies she wants to leave for him.  Minecraft told Santa that if he were lucky, he would get cookies and milk.  Lego just wanted to know if Santa and Mrs. Claus were doing okay up in the North Pole.  They all decorated their letters with colorful pictures and included phrases like, “Santa’s #1!”  Three years ago, their letters to Santa just told Santa what they wanted.  It might not seem like much, but to see their thought processes go from “Here’s what I want,” to “How are you. Here’s what I might do for you.  I think you’re great!” is pretty cool.  They also helped each other write their letters, with no help from Ben or me.  We did have to get onto them once for arguing over marker colors, but they worked together well otherwise.  Now, I can add cooperation, mental growth, and emotional growth to the great things that Santa represents for me.

As I typed this, it was about 6:30 AM and I had been awake for three hours with a terrible headache.  The kids were just picked up for school by their bio-mom and Ben had just left for work.  The cat was running circles around the house, chasing invisible toys.  The Excedrin has moved from making my head a bit numb to making me rather dizzy and the cat has begun her grooming routine, signaling that she is ready to curl up with me for her morning nap.  I’m going to take the cat’s advice to end this post and get some rest.  I hope that you are as excited about the holiday season as I am and that it holds as much meaningful promise for you as it does for me.  Happy Holidays!

Random Saturdays – Random Saturdays

As I write this, I am working on a Saturday morning, or rather, waiting for someone else to do his job so that I can finish working.  We have on-call rotations at work and this is my week.  It used to not be a big deal.  It was usually a matter of logging in, working for 15 – 30 minutes, and logging off.  You maybe got five calls during the whole week.  Now, it is a nightmare.  We all dread it.  Just because of the organization of the company, being on-call has become a thing that we all hate.  I think the company should start giving a week’s worth of valium to each person as she rolls into on-call.

Surprisingly, Ben is the one who got the 4 AM wakeup call this morning.  He’s not on-call;  he’s backup on-call.  For his company and his team, that really means that he’s on-call.  So, he got up this morning and went into the office at home to work.  Needless to say, he wanted to sleep in more than me this morning.

Oh, and the kids.  They’re not on-call, but they are busy little buggers.  Dora is in cheer.  Lego is in basketball.  Minecraft is in football.  Normally, I’d be excited about this, but since they live so far away, our weekends have been eaten up with driving them to all of their games.  Let me remind you that they live over an hour away from us.  So, some of the games they have at other school are even further than that.  Today, we have a football game from 2 PM – 4 PM and then we have a basketball game at 5 PM.  So, we’ll be spending the entire day driving out to Nowheresville, shuttling 3 kids between two games.  Then we have to drive exhausted and sweaty kids back home.  We also need to make sure they do homework at some point this weekend.

Ben and I are also on-call during all of this.  *STRESS*

Also, per the divorce papers, the kids’ mom can decide that she doesn’t want to take them to games or practices if, for example, she decides to plan one of the kid’s birthday parties at the same time.  We do not have that choice.  Per the papers, we have to take the kids to every practice and game, even if the kid is so sick that he can barely stand.  This was decided after Ben tried to appeal a few times.  This is what the courts think is best for the kids, I guess.

It’s really difficult to make any plans when you have no idea what will be going on.  They changed the times of Minecraft’s game at least five times in the past two weeks.  Lego knows he has a game today, but had no idea what time it was or where it was.  Once again, since we’re not the primary caregivers and we live so far away, it’s harder for us to stay in the loop on the kids’ schedules.  We end up being the annoying parents who text coaches constantly to verify the information.  Then, we have to bring phones and laptops to the games in case we get calls.  Lately, because of the weather in North Texas, we also have to deal with whatever last minute crazy weather is thrown at us.  The other day, we had to flee from a pending tornado, and thankfully missed the tornado that we were driving towards.

I wish we could just take the kids up the street to the local schools and enjoy a weekend in our neighborhood with the kids.  I wish that most of our time with the kids wasn’t spent driving.  I wish that I didn’t have to hear comments from the kids like, “Oh, you’re working again?  You’re always working.”  If I did hear comments like that, it’d be nice if I actually had a comeback like, “Well, if you want to live in this big house and wear designer clothes and have your stepmom be one of the only female CEOs in the tech industry, then I’m going to have to continue to work and I wish you would be more patient and understanding with me.”  No, no.  I have to say, “Yes, I’m sorry, and by the way, we can’t afford to do anything else since all of this driving is eating up money on fuel.  So, I’m sorry that I have to work again and your dad and I still can’t afford to get you a new desk that won’t collapse on you or new clothes to keep up with your growth spurts.”  It makes you feel like a terrible parent, a bad person, and a horrible employee all in one go.  Ben and I both feel completely hopeless in so many regards when it comes to the kids.

Still, I’m glad the kids have found activities that they enjoy, even if I wonder how much they enjoy them with some of the lack of interest they show the day of the games.  I’m glad that I do have a job that allows me to drive across the state to go to the kids’ games.  I’m glad that I don’t have to drive into work if I get a call, which is what my dad always had to do when I was a kid.  I’m grateful for any time I do get with the kids.  Not having much say over how we spend time with the kids makes me grateful for any bit of freedom we do get.  I’m thankful that Ben understands my work situation and doesn’t make me feel any more guilty any time I have to choose work over the kids.  We just have to take what we can get sometimes.

Stuff People Say – Football Diet

Minecraft — I think my butt is shrinking.

Me — Why do you say that?

Minecraft — Or maybe my legs are shrinking.

Ben — Why do you think your butt and legs are shrinking?

Minecraft — Because my pants are falling down.

Ben — Or you could be losing weight from playing football.

Minecraft — Yeah, I probably am shrinking from playing football.

Random Saturdays – Best Laid Blogging Plans

So, I had this great idea to do a weekly post on all the planning of all the events (not just marriage related) coming in the first half of this year.  I was going to give funny or useful or dumb synopses of advice I had read or was given.  There were going to be planning sites and photos and comical stories.  I’m lazy and busy, though, so none of that happened.

Work is killing my soul.  It’s killing Ben’s too.  It’s terrible.  Neither of us like working for the company, but it still has certain perks (401K matching, flexible work from home schedule) that we need right now, even if neither of us knows if we’ll be handed a pink slip on any given day.

We were trying to buy a house and our first loan guy at Quicken Loans was great, but the second guy was not.  We got another guy who was great, and then got stuck with the lame duck again.  We requested another person and got a great woman working on our loan again.  We were basically being passed around Quicken from person to person.  We did most of the work.  I’m not quite sure what our realtor or the seller’s realtor did other than send us documents to sign, often the same documents to resign multiple times because they told us to sign in the wrong place or forgot to update things like, oh, the value of the house before having us sign the documents.  I don’t think I’d recommend anyone use any of the people used unless you really want to do most of the work yourself just to get the deal to go through in about a month’s time.

Minecraft’s birthday party was even cancelled because of rain.  All around us, people are getting laid off from work, being diagnosed with cancer, getting divorced, and a slew of other problems.

There are good things still happening, though, and we’re trying to remember that.  I have a great team of people at work.  Ben’s boss fought to save his job so far.  We got to celebrate a couple of good friends getting married.  We got married ourselves.  We were able to plan some last minute fun stuff to celebrate Minecraft’s birthday.  We now own a house that’s perfect for us, and I think we have made a lifelong friend out of the seller of the house.  Most importantly, we have a wonderful group of friends and family who are very loving and supportive of us.

Still, I know that when man plans, god laughs.  So, I’m not too surprised that nothing has gone exactly according to plan.  However, I do believe that life happens the way it needs to happen when it needs to happen.  That, of course, has continued to be true over the past few months.  For that, I’m extremely grateful.  I even found a bakery that has a red velvet cake that I like and a red velvet cake recipe that I like.  This was thanks to Minecraft’s birthday cake stencil not making it here in time, which coincided with him telling me that his favorite cake is red velvet (my least favorite cake).  So, I made an old fashioned red velvet cake, that was only tweaked slightly.  Our current big tasks are planning the reception (which is in the future as of the writing of this, but is in the past as of the posting of this), working on moving out of the old house and into the new house, and trying to keep it all in perspective as a busy but blissful life.

Way to start off Spring 2015!

Random Saturdays – Plan, Plan Plan

It’s barely the end of January and my calendar is filled through the end of June.  How is that possible?!  As I move through the days, I can’t figure it out, and yet, I keep packing more stuff onto the calendar.  It’s no wonder I keep having nightmares about people being mad at me for missing the ball on something that I either promised to do and never did or something that they volunteered me to do without my input.

Christmas was fun,  though.  Ben and I made the most of the time that we did have with the kids, our families, and our friends.  I was on call the week of New Year’s, but it was actually quiet enough that I was able to get out of the house without having to bust out my laptop and work.  It was a belated Christmas miracle!

Since then, I’ve had difficulty getting motivated to do any of the things I need to do, and I finally realized that it was because I was depressed…even though I’m on anti-depressants.  When I went to the doctor a week ago for a med check, she found that I had been doing well in alot of areas (cholesterol, blood pressure, asthma), but could tell right away that my depression had worsened since she last saw me.  After talking about my options, she encouraged me to see a psychiatrist who could monitor my depression more closely, but I told her that I don’t have the time or money for that.  She upped my meds a little (since I was taking the bare minimum anyway).  I will see her again in a week and am feeling much better.

It’s a difficult thing to stay on top of brain meds.  You have to keep track of where you are, what you think might have led to that, and know where you want to go.  Then, you have to keep track of your progress as well as any regression that occurs.  If you’re at the point where you need brain meds, this can be especially difficult to do.  I’m an old pro at this, though, so I like to think that I’m a bit self-aware in that aspect.

Since increasing my dosage, I am a bit more motivated to get things done.  I haven’t gotten into a regular workout plan yet, but I do work out while I brush my teeth and while I watch tv.  It’s just short spurts, but I suppose it adds up.  I’ve gotten worse at portion control since increasing my meds, but have been eating healthier in general.  So, I still haven’t found the best route for me yet, but I’ll keep trying.  Ben got a Bowflex this month and has been doing the 20-minute exercises three times a week.  It’s helped remind me that if he can find one hour a week to workout, I can too.  The cat has also been sick and we are on the second round of liver meds to try and get her better.  Having to make time to care for her reminds me that even though I may not want to workout or always eat well, it’s important to take care of myself.  At least, this is what I’m telling myself.

Plus, I need to get healthy to gear up for all of the stuff going on in the coming months.  Right now, we’re planning on getting our finances aligned to buy a house, we have a wedding to go to in February, Minecraft’s birthday, Spring Break with the kids, we’re getting married, other family members’ birthdays, the reception, tons of work, being on call, finding and buying a house once the financial stuff is good, and (hopefully) packing and moving.  Those are the highlights, but plenty of smaller events are sprinkled in throughout the weeks and weekends.

I used to rely on staying busy as a distraction from depression, but now, it just wears me out.  Ben has been great at trying to remind me that I need to rest when I need to rest.  I hate giving in and being lazy even when I know he’s right, but if I keep pushing myself, I know I’ll just end up burned out and on the couch for weeks or months.  Right now, our big project is getting the kids’ furniture set up in their rooms.  Santa gave them great gifts, but did not give us the time and energy it takes to put the furniture together.  This will really be the first weekend since Christmas that they’ll be at our house long enough to use any of it, though.  So, it’s important that we get everything set up so that they can enjoy the furniture before they outgrow it.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for awhile, but work, life, and laziness continued to distract me until I read this interesting article on non-dishware things that can be cleaned in the dishwasher.  Blew my mind!  Also, I don’t quite know how it inspired me to write this post, but, you know, such is life.  Either way, you can thank me when all your stuff is clean.

Stuff People Say – Regular Kids

Minecraft — Guess what, Angela.  I didn’t get to play Minecraft much today because my computer broke

Angela — Really?

Minecraft — Yeah, I only got to play it until about 11 AM and then I couldn’t play no more.

Angela — You couldn’t play it any more after that?  What’d you do the rest of the day?

Minecraft — I just mostly played like a regular kid.

Stuff People Say – Lotsa Problems

Minecraft — Uh-oh.  We got a problem.  We forgot to stop and get gasoline.

Lego — That’s okay because I got a billion of them already that we can use.

Minecraft — We got another problem.  There are lotsa helicopters and they have thousands of missiles that they can use on us.

Lego — That’s okay, ’cause this one gots four guns and this one gots four and this one gots four and this one gots two and we can fight the helicopters.

Minecraft — Well, we got one more problem.  The boss sent me a text and he wants us to get back to base by dinnertime at six and I don’t know if we can make it in time.

Lego — [sound effects]

Minecraft — Why did you blow yourself up?

Lego — I don’t wanna play no more.