Friday, May 27, 2011

Top 5 things I hate about Summer

There are so many things I love about summertime but as I get older I find the list of things I don't like is growing.  How sad is that?!

1.  It's too dang hot!  Last summer I went to the ER once and Urgent Care twice because I was dehydrated and had heat exhaustion.  Yes, I was drinking plenty of fluids.  I even switched to Gatorade on my Drs advice that the electrolites would help.  We've both agree my body can no longer handle the heat.  I have to be prepared when  I need to go out of any period of time.  Lots of water, a hat, somewhere shady to sit.  I don't even have to be in the sun.  I constanly feel shaky and my world going grey.  It's very scary to be that helpless.

2.  The cost of things to do.  With gas prices soaring and the cost of other good and services continuing to go up how can a family plan an afordable day out.  Heck, I'm not even talking vacation.  Just a day at the lake or something.  I hate having to deny my kids summer fun because I can't afford it.

3. Rainy days  Most of the time summer has a few rainy days and I'm ok with that because it gives us a chance to just relax together inside.  However, there are some summers where the rain never ends and it's pure torture.  I have plenty of things the kids can do.  I have a rainy day list.  But still, endless days of rain are not a mom's best friend.  I fear this may be one of "those" summers.

4.  The fighting.  My kids get along for the most part but when they are together for too long it's the kiss of death.  They will fight like cats and dogs for the silliest of reasons.  One moment I'll hear peals of laughter and the next yelling and crying.  Those moments make me want to pull my hair out.  They have them through out the weekend but summertime is like a 2 month weekend.  It can feel neverending in a very painful way.

5.  The uncertainty When those last few weeks creep up before school is about to begin I feel the anxiety in my house.  This is more from my son then my daughter.  He loves the freedom of loose scheduling and no homework.  He forgets about his classmates and everything.  I don't think he really misses anyone from school much.  But as soon as the start of school closes in he starts to get tense.  He worries about which teacher he'll have, who will be in his class, where he'll sit, how much homework the teacher will send home and on and on.  Year round school would almost be best for him.  The tension leaves the first week of summer and is back with a bang just as fast in September.  My heartbreaks for him and his anxiety.

Well, there you have it, my top 5 reasons to hate summer. Overall, I do enjoy summer and I'll share why soon.  Do you have things you hate about sumer?  Care to share?

And a few more:
airconditioning costs

Thursday, May 26, 2011

How to communicate with your kids

I know this is said all the time but I feel the need to repeat it....keep the lines of communication open with your children.  This is so important.  If you start when they are young, it will be easier in most cases.  I have open discussions with my children about almost everything.  Learn your child's triggers....what they will and won't open up about.  Know the signs that they are internalizing something.  I know it's easier said and done and I know you're child will never truly be open with you about everything.  They do need their privacy as they get older but they should be able to realize what they need to share with you versus what you would like them to share with you.
One important thing I learned last year is that parents do not talk to their younger children about certain things because they think they are too young.  Too young to understand, too young to "tell" or too young for something to happen to them?  All of the above have been given to me for reasons on why they did not discuss certain things with their child.
I have openly discussed many things with my children since they were 3.  This is an age where they are becoming more independent, more social and more curious.  At this point my children were also enrolled in preschool so I knew I had to talk with them because they would have me to supervise them 24/7.  Here are a few things I think you need to speak with your child about at this age:
1. Stranger Danger
2. Inappropriate touching
3. Seeing or hearing things that don't seem right

Let me explain. 
***Stranger Danger is very important for children to know.  There are children who are very welcoming to new people and need to be taught that not every new face is a friend.  My daughter, while shy when meeting new people, had trouble "getting" this one.  We would role play scenarios.  The one we always had a problem with was, "What would you do if someone asked you if you wanted to look at his dog/cat/bunny/etc and it was in his car?".  My daughter would always answer,"Where?! I want to see it!".  Wrong answer. We explained to them that if you didn't know someone you should always find mommy or daddy (someone you know).  You should never talk to a stranger if your mommy or daddy are not with you.  We would discuss that it is important that if you need help then it's ok to talk to a stranger (I know this is hard for them to understand at times).  I make sure they know that if they are in any kind it's ok to go with a police officer or fire person.  I know that sometimes this could be a mistake, but overall it's the right choice.
This advice has gotten my children out of questionable situations more than once.  First time, there was a strange van parked by the end of our long driveway at the end of our dead end street.  My stepdaughter and son were just taking a walk to the end of the drive.  There was a suspicious looking man in the van just watching them.  My stepdaughter said he made her feel very uncomfortable and my son (who was about 5 at the time) said something didn't feel right.  They instinctively knew how to react and came right back to the house.  The van was gone when I went down to check it out. 
Just last Easter a man approached my son at my dad's church's Easter egg hunt.  He just walked up to him, leaned in close to whisper that he liked his haircut.  Weird and so very wrong, right?  Thank goodness someone saw it and told the minister.  It was chaotic out there and only one person noticed it.  The stranger walked off without a care in the world.  No one in the congregation knew who he was.  To this day we don't know if he was a visitor or if he just ambled off the streets.  Scary because who approaches a child that way.

***Inappropriate touching.   I spoke to my children about this at age 3.  Yes, you read that right, age 3.  We discussed privacy even before that.  My children know that no one is ever to see the without their clothes fully on except mommy, daddy or a medical person.  If it's a medical person mommy or daddy will be with them.  No one is ever to touch them in what we call their private sports.  I explained to them that private means something for their eyes only.  It is to be covered because it is for them alone to see.  Obviously, as they get older, we will discuss sex and such.  I've spoken started to ease the way for that conversation with my son but will let my husband handle the more delicate things that is best said between men.  I am very passionate about this subject.  I have family that was abused as children and I will not allow it to happen to my children.  They understand.  I will explain this more in seeing/hearing things that don't seem right. 
Talking about this openly with my children has paid off.  Last year my daughter was eating lunch in the school cafeteria.  She was laughing and having fun with all her friends.  Well, one friend wasn't happy that she wasn't paying him enough attention.  He went under the table and grabbed her private area really hard.  Not only did it hurt but she was mortified.  She knew what he did wasn't right.  She didn't want to get him in trouble but she did the right thing and told the cafeteria aid.  I'm very proud of her.  I know the boy was only 5/6 but he needed to learn you can't touch someone like that.  The school handled it very well and took action to educate and punish.  You have to deal with inappropriate behaviors swiftly and with consequences or a child will continue them.

***Seeing/hearing something that doesn't seem right.  A basic lesson for all kids should be that if something doesn't seem right it probably isn't and you should speak with an adult immediately.  I have given my children guidelines and they know the difference between something that isn't right and tattling.  Yes, it backfires sometimes but better safe than sorry.  I have told my kids that if they are ever threatened by another person (child, adult, I don't care who) they are to get out of the situation and tell me or daddy immediately.  If we are not available they are to tell a trusted adult.  I was very clear in my wording that people will tell them that they were hurt or kill them or their family if they tell.  I told them to agree never to tell if necessary to get out of the situation and then to tell.  Never, never keep it from us.  I told them that once they are with us they are safe and the person threatening them has no power.  There will be know hurting or killing, though I may want to once I find out.  My children have seen how passionate I feel about this.  They need to know I am like a mama lion and will hurt anyone who tries to harm them.
My daughter seems a magnet for these things.  My poor, sweet child.  Just last week one of her friends kept peeking under the bathroom stall at school.  This is most definitely something that doesn't seem right.  Especially after we've discussed privacy rules and how to handle situations. My daughter asked her to stop  several times.  Finally, she was left no choice but to tell her teacher.  In my book, it doesn't matter who is looking under a bathroom is wrong period.
My son has had some issues too.  First, earlier this year in the school bathroom.  (These places are a danger zone for kids.)  Him and another friend went to use the bathroom.  A kid from another class, same grade was in there.  He threatened to beat them up.  My son knew that he had to tell the teacher and did so.  Just this week, a student in his class was talking trash about him to my daughter during an assembly.  Saying all sorts of nasty stuff.  It's not the first time but we tried turn the other cheek.  I'm done with that.  It's bullying plain and simple.  This child put my daughter into the mix and that was the end of that.  A note went to school with details and the teacher called me.  It was very helpful another classmate overheard and told my son what was going on.  I heard it from them both at the dinner table.  Story was confirmed as true and now the school is dealing with it.  Kudos for my kids for standing up for themselves and one another.
And finally, the big one that happened this weekend.  My daughter went to a friend's house after school Friday.  She's been there many times without an incidents.  She was supposed to be home at 6:30 but the mom sent me a text and asked if she could go with them to her sister in laws house because the girls were having such a great time.  I thought nothing of it and said ok.  I thought it was the sister in law I had met before and who's daughter's my daughter gets along with great.  I learned a lesson there...verify where your child is going.  Still, I know the mom is very vigilant and responsible when it comes to my daughter.  She treats her like her own.  When my daughter got out of the car it seemed like all was good.  I found out differently minutes after we came inside.  She told me how her friend's older brother (he's 12) and the cousin (girl 11) were watching something inappropriate on tv.  I had her go through the whole story.  The older kids were in the parents bedroom watching the Lady Gaga concert.  The girls were sneaking in to spy on them.  Typical kid things.  The first time they were chased out something was on the screen that was partially blacked out.  I've never seen it so I'm not sure which scene this is.  Both girls saw that before they were told to leave.  Then they snuck back.  Only my daughter saw the tv this time, her friend was behind her.  They must have switched channels and my daughter saw a woman going down on a man.  It was obvious on how she explained it.  No 6 year old can make something like that up.  She said a woman was kissing and licking a man's pee pee.  And it was disgusting, she said.  She knew it was something she shouldn't see.  I guess the cousin told her not to tell or she'd be in trouble.  We still haven't sorted that whole part out.  I'm so glad she listened to me and came to me with it.  I believe my response showed her that she can always come to me and I will take care of it.  Nothing bad will happen to her or me.  I'm so proud of her because I know she was uncomfortable, worried and scared, but she did the RIGHT thing.  I spoke with the friend's mom and she was horrified.  She handled it and I know it's not her fault or something that goes on in her house.  We all learned a tough lesson that day.  I'm thankful that my daughter doesn't seem scarred from the experience.  I'm thankful my husband took it well when I told him and didn't rip someone's head off.  I'm glad the mother listened and took action.

In the end the message is always the to your children about these tough subjects.  They need to be prepared on how to react if and when something like these incidents come up.  Trust me, they will be in one of these unfortunate positions at some point in their lives.  Give them the tools to respond properly to them.  When the grabbing incident happened to my daughter I was horrified that most of my friends told me they had never even thought to talk to their children about this.  I'm saddened by this.  The earlier they know the better.  There are so many children being abused in different ways and it's usually by someone they know.  Trust me, I know this to be true.  Please speak with your children.  It can cause you and, most importantly, them a lot of heartache.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Carnival, Art and Poetry

For school budget day my children's school always hosts parent/student activities in every classroom.  I love this day because gives me the opportunity to go into my children's classrooms and see them in a different environment.  It's nice to interact with them, their teachers and other students too.
Every year they have the book fair going on and an art show in the gym.  They also added a night carnival a few days before. I really wish I had brought my camera and taken pictures to share.  I was proud of how well the PTO ran it.  The first one ever.  It's sure to be a hit for years to come.  My kids were already talking about next year.  Tickets were 4 for $1 and all games were 1 ticket. All the students were given 4 tickets for free the morning of the event. Most of the event was in the gym (half of it was the book fair) and the rest was in the lower level hallway.  My kids were able to "fish" for a prize, make and toss a paper airplane, color wheel spin (guess the color the needle would land on), Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus game, bean bag toss and so much more.  There were about a dozen games and everyone won a prize no matter what.  I wasn't able to help out with this year's event but hope to help next year (if we're still living here).
The classroom events for budget day are scheduled throughout the day by grade and setup so as not to overlap.  I went to my son's classroom (third grade) first where they were doing a "Poetry Slam".  This was interesting and highly entertaining.  The kids were just starting to learn about poetry and how to write it.  Their poems were "freestyle" as the teacher called it.  Each child's poem was put on screen and they went up to the front of the class to read it.  I was surprised with how at ease most of them were. There were poems about baseball, friendship, animals and much more.
Here's my son's:
Way to paint mommy as the bad guy.  lol  I just shook my head and laughed it off.  Gotta love that boy.  I'm sure there's worse things he says and I don't think I really want to know.
After the poetry reading we were invited to stay for refreshments.  You do realize that what this really means is that the kids overindulge in goodies and will be hyper the rest of the day at home.  Sigh.  I can't say I love my son's teachers but I do give them credit for being able to handle 27 kids in a small classroom (there's is one of the smallest, with the most kids).  I just wish there was more education going on, especially for the kids (like my son) who need a bit more personalized instruction (hearing disability with unofficial APD). 
I signed my son out early so he could attend my daughter's program with me.  There was only 40 minutes left in the day and most of the parents were taking their kids home.  In my daughter's class (first grade) we did Parent Buddy Reading.  This is where we got to sit with our child and read with them.  We picked an area on the reading carpet and took turns reading.  It was wonderful seeing my two kids reading together.  We had the most fun reading Ten Apples Up on Top by Dr Seuss.  My daughter got really silly with all the rhyming.  It was great fun.
At the end of the day we went down to the gym and walked around the Art Extravaganza.  Every student has at least one piece of artwork on display.
Here's my son's:

I just love the little sea horse at the bottom of the picture.  It's my favorite part. 

Here's my daughter's:

I love how big and fat the pig is and how tiny the fence is. 

And here's her colorful butterfly. 

I love the Art Show.  It gives the kids a sense of pride having their work shown off for all to see.  My kids love art and it shows.  I'm so proud of them.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rink Research

This afternoon we spent scouting out an ice rink about an hour away from our house. Trying to weigh the pros and cons of my son playing hockey here in the fall.
Parking lot is well paved with no holes
One rink dedicated to hockey all day
Vending machine for coffee if the snack bar is closed
Snack bar with variety and lots of seating
In house restaurant that looks nice
We can register for inhouse league last minute and he'll have a spot (gives us time to decide where we want to go)
Drive is mostly highway
Cost is in line with what ER can afford

Hour drive
Rink is away from food, gas, and such
Not overly friendly and helpful
Lots of travel teams (more emphasise than in house)
Not sure how well lit lot is
Only one set of bathrooms

I think the pros outweigh the cons and I think this is where we will be if our rink doesn't reopen in Sept or if it does reopen but the majority of coaches and players don't return. We will adapt. They have lots of clinics, open skates and sticks and pucks so we will utilize it a lot over the summer. It's the best way to make an informed decision.
Wish us luck!

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Don't suffer in Silence

Why do we always suffer quietly around friends and sometimes close loved ones? Do we not want to be a burden? Do we not want to show weakness? Does other peoples compassion make us uncomfortable? Are we embarrassed? Worried someone will judge us or get the wrong idea of what's going on?
Stop getting in your loved ones head. Stop feeling insecure and questioning yourself. LEAN on your support system. That's why they are be there for you like you're there for them. DON'T continue to suffer in silence.
*Sit them down
*Make them aware of your situation
*Let them know what YOU need
*Let them know you need and appreciate them
*Make it clear, if needed, you need support, compassion, understanding. Not judgement.
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Thursday, May 19, 2011


I feel the need to put my thoughts down in words to empty them out of my head.  There's so much going on here that my head is spinning and my heart racing.  My anxiety level fluctuates throughout the day and is always worse when I'm not busy doing something.  I started the medicine my doctor gave me on Monday night.  It says that it will take a few weeks to reach it's full effect.  I'm hoping to see a positive impact because I don't want to have to try different medicines until I find the one that works right for me.  The one she gave me is mild she said and non habit forming.  This is why I'm trying it.  I fear anything that is strong and addictive.  My anxiety has gotten worse but not yet to the level that I want to try these options.
Last night my husband started his second job at the grocery store in the deli.  He'll be working 3 nights a week from 5:30-10:00 and only making $8 an hour.  My heart aches that it's come to this.  He gets up every morning around 3:30 to commute an hour.  He typically works 5:00 a.m. to 5:00/6:00 p.m.  He's a store manager and always puts in 5 to 6 days....60-72 hours in an average week.  Now he has to try to get everything done by 4:30 so he can make it back this way and to his second job by 5:30.  I fear it's going to take him over the edge mentally, physically and emotionally. 
I feel it's all my fault because I can't find a job.  I have a degree in communications that's never been used.  Sad, isn't it.  I got the opportunity to make good money as a retail manager right out of college and took it because I needed a way to pay my student loans.  Plus, there weren't a lot of media jobs in the area I was living.  I would really love to find a writing or PR job.  I don't have any current experience so they won't touch me.  I could get a retail management job easily enough but can't because of my medical restrictions.  Because of my neck/shoulder injury the doctor does not want me doing any lifting over 20 lbs, no overhead reaching and no repetitive motions (bagging, stocking, etc). If you're not aware, retail management (in most companies) is a very thankless and physical job.  I'm 5'2", 130 lbs and I was pulling in 10-12 pallets and breaking them down (10 ft off the ground).  Many totes/boxes easily weigh 30-60 lbs.  I can't do any of that.  I would undo all the progress I've made.  The doctor said in 10 years my body is going to have a lot of problems and the best way to minimize it is to stay out of that field.  I have extensive office experience while being a retail manager but no one will hire me. Of course, there's people out there who appear more qualified and have worked in an actual office setting.  It frustrates me to tears.  I've filed paperwork, answered phones, resolved customer issues, written schedules, inputted data and so much more.  I know I can do the job if someone would give me the chance.  I would love to work in a doctor's office.  I love working with people.  I keep hunting and praying I find something. 
I need something yesterday.  My worker's compensation is on hold right now while the lawyers and doctors hash out if I have a permanent partial disability.  The judge won't rule until (hopefully no longer) the end of the year.  My stomach is sick because we need that money for household bills and groceries.  To make matters worse my unemployment may be on hold.  I received a letter a month ago that 14 more weeks of unemployment benefits were available to me effective May third.  I called to claim and the system told me that I would have to reapply for benefits. I don't know now what's going to happen.  It will take at least 4 to 6 weeks to see benefits I'm sure.  My heart is sick.  I don't like being on unemployment.  I fought to stay off of it but my lawyer said to do it because it would help support my family and he was right.  We need this money until I have a job.  Would anyone like to hire me?  This is killing me.  I want to work, I need to work.  To make matters worse I have to have a day job because I have to pickup the kids from school and do their homework with them.  That limits me some and that sucks.  We can't afford a sitter and I would need someone I trust to make sure their homework is not only complete but done correctly.
I'm not sure I shared here but my husband is in the process of trying to find a better paying job.  He's been interviewing with this one company for 2 months now.  He actually went out of state last week to their corporate headquarters to interview with their VPs of Human Resources and Marketing.  He thinks he did well and received a phone call Monday that the CEO wanted to do a phone interview him Thursday (today).  My husband has important weekly district meetings on Thursdays but told him he would make it happen.  He made it work only to get an email yesterday stating that the interview needed to be moved back 90 minutes.  There's no way my husband could make that happen.  Now, it's been rescheduled for next Thursday and it's still a problem.  I'm praying something can be worked out.  Getting this job means many changes for our family.  Initially it will be a lot of added stress but it will be better in the long run.  My husband would probably need to commute even longer and we would look into relocating.  Overall, a good thing.  We feel this isn't the right area for our family and now would be the perfect time to move.
The new part time job has added stress to my husband beyond the obvious.  The kids had a lot of trouble going to bed without him last night.  My son cried.  My heartbroke.  It hurts us all he's not there.  He's struggling with trying to make it work and trying to have a family life.  My stepdaughter's dance recital is this weekend.  It's Friday and 6 pm and Saturday at 2.  He's supposed to work the second job both days.  He also works his primary job both those days.  He's going to try to  work his primary job a half a day Saturday but he doesn't know if he can make it happen.  He's possibly stuck between a rock and a hard place.  Normally, he would miss the recital and make it up to her.  Here's the wrench in the works....We couldn't afford to go, so we had worked out that my husband and daughter would just go.  We had to do this last year too because of cost.  Who has $60+ to throw away on a recital during these hard economic times?!  We wanted to support her and this was the compromise we came up with.  I would have just gone instead and explained he couldn't get out of work.  It would've definitely sucked and I know it would've hurt her too and we would never intentionally do that.  The Wrench...she bought him tickets to bring everyone as a Father's Day gift.  The thought makes me cry because it was so precious and heartfelt.  We haven't gone as a family in 3 years.  Now this.  I pray he can work something out because now we really want and need to make it happen.  I feel horrible because it's even more stress on him.  My daughter has a father/daughter Girl Scout dance next Wednesday and he already asked for it off at the second job.  He doesn't want to disappoint her either.  There's so much weight on his shoulders.  It all brings tears to my eyes.
It's not fair.  Life's not fair.  I know.  I know.  People have it much worse.  I know.  But, right now I'm trying to work out our reality.  We need to come to grips with it.  We're working on changing it but that doesn't make it any easier.  Ironic that just 10 years ago we were single and making good money combined.  Now this.  Life is definitely the class of Hard Knocks.  Get up, wipe yourself off and adapt or you'll be run over and find yourself knee deep in quicksand.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Beautiful flowers from my husband for our Anniversary

Anniversary card and book by my favorite author Nora Roberts

Cupcakes Galore from Sunday's Cupcake Festival

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cupcakes Galore! What a Perfect Mommy & Daughter Day!

I had originally planned to post about the wonderful day my daughter and I had at the Cupcake Festival on Sunday but life got in the way.  You can read about that here...Coping with Life. Today's a new day, bright and shiny (even if it is pouring rain outside).  I am now ready to share with you a perfect Mommy/Daughter moment.
Sunday started out perfect.  The guys were gone for the weekend and my precious little girl and I were able to relax and sleep in.  My father invited us over for breakfast around 10...pancakes, sausage and bacon.  How much more perfect can it get?  I didn't have to cook it myself.  Pretty perfect I'd say.
The day was overcast but not too hot and not cold.  The ground was still damp from the overnight rain but it wasn't muddy.  I quickly debated with myself if we should drive to the Cupcake Festival.  I was worried it would pour and we'd be puddle hopping and shivering all day.  I decided, what the heck. We only live once and this is special one on one time with my girl.
We drove towards the mountains and delighted in the view of the foggy patches covering it.  We played games describing what the fog shapes looked like.  It was quiet and peaceful, like we were in our own little bubble.  After getting turned around a bit we found the festival site and parked.  It was still early and I can say looking back that I'm glad we got there when we did.  As we left a few hours later there were lines of cars everywhere trying to get in.  The threat of rain I'm sure kept many away but it was packed none the less.

This is the view from the less packed end of the Festival.  This was only a half hour after it began.  The middle and other end was mobbed.

 They had tents over all the vendors and tables to eat at. Perfect idea for rain or shine. They provided cover for everyone and the food. It drizzled a bit while we were there and we enjoyed our cupcakes under the tent.
I love the tent backdrops in the tents to sit and munch in. This one says "Keep Calm and Eat A Cupcake". Thank you very much, Don't mind if I do! The table cloths were bright and pretty and each table had a pail and shovel center piece. I think they could have done without the center pieces, but that's just my opinion. They were cute.

My daughter was in heaven at the very first table we came to.  She awed and oh ed over each amazing cupcake.  Who knew that they could be decorated in so many creative and fun ways.  I was in awe too.  These cakes were masterpieces.  I could tell by the detail work that each one took awhile to create and love was put into them all.  My precious Bee knew exactly which one she wanted.  I was surprised it didn't take her hours to choose it.  She was disappointed when I told her we had to walk the whole festival before we came back and bought it.  I did that because I thought for certain she would change her mind.  I was wrong.

Here are just some of their creations

Absolutely perfect for birthdays and other special occasions.  I am in inspired looking at them.  Can't wait to get creative for my daughter's birthday cupcakes.

This is the one my daughter picked out.  Look at the details.  I love the bug eyed looked.  That's the first part my daughter ate...the eyes!

She slowly worked her way through the icing.  It took her all day to eat it.  We brought it home and she finally finished it off after dinner.

Told you the poor thing was eyeless.  And now the head is gone. Guess he doesn't have to worry about his eyes anymore. Poor headless frog. My daughter the cannibal. She laughed the whole time. It was such a delight.

Here are some other fabulous cupcakes

These are some we bought.

Cupcakes were priced between $3-$5.  The fantastic more intricate ones like my daughter chose were $4.  The average price was $3.  It was my little splurge.  There were also mini cupcakes and cake pops for $2-$2.50.  I spent $15 between the cupcakes and the bouncy house. 
This was the first time we went to the festival and it was their third.  I think the town did a wonderful job in preparing and accommodating everyone.  This is a small town and from what I hear the festival is growing in leaps and bounds every year.  They have a bandstand, amature cupcake contest, face painting and bouncy houses.  Most of the main street retailers were open and selling their wares.  It had a great small town, community feel to it.  The vendors were wonderful.  They took time to answer your questions and were personable.  It's those qualities that will bring me back next year rain or shine.  I will be going early because I heard that though the event ran until 5 all the cupcakes were gone by 2:30 and that was with overcast skies in the morning and rain in the afternoon.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Coping with Daily Life

Saturday started off as a great day.  Hubby was home from his out of town job interview and I was snuggled in his arms.  We got to sleep in since Goalie Boy's hockey game wasn't until 10:30.  It was simply wonderful. 
We hadn't been back to the rink since my son's coach emailed us the Friday before to let us know the rink would be closing in a few short weeks.  All the emotions hit me walking into the rink.  I felt overwhelmed by them.  It feels so silly feeling so strongly about a building, but I do.  As I've said before, it's been my son's saving grace.  I see my son in the light I rarely get to see him in at home.  I see him enthusiastic, positive and so much more.  I felt like a weight was pressing down on me because I worry so about losing this part of my son.  I don't know why, but I worry about him becoming a sullen, negative child.  I think it's because he is often hard on himself.  I know we are going to find another place for him to play but I know we have many hurdles to jump over first.  We are struggling financially but we've vowed to make this work for him.  We need to find some place within reasonable driving distance (no place is closer than an hour) due to school and the cost of gas.  We need a team that will have a spot for him, as many tryouts for the fall season have already taken place.  We need someplace that he fits in and has a supportive coaching staff.  And finally, someplace that will work with our finances.  We have all that where we are now and I have faith that we will find all that again.
I try to stay positive but as a planner I need to see the whole picture and work things out from all possible angles.  The last few years have been a struggle.  The last 5 months really tough.  I continue to fight. I'm dealing various (mild/moderate) health issues, financial issues, unemployment, my son's hearing and struggling in schools, my husband interviewing for a new job, the rink closing, worker's comp payments (temporarily?) suspended, reapplying for unemployment and so much more.  The unemployment and financial issues are a dark, heavy cloud over my head pressing me down.
Just a few weeks ago I had my latest comp hearing where my payments we suspended.  My doctors and comp drs can't agree on whether or not I have a minor disability.  I've been searching for a job to no avail.  Last week I called in to claim my weekly unemployment only to be told that it was my final week to claim and I'd have to reapply.  This after I received a letter stating I had been approved for 14 more weeks and would not need to reapply.  So, here I am without any means of income.  It will be at least 6-8 months before a judge decides my comp case.  My husband is struggling to pay the mortgage and other bills I've been helping with.  I don't know what we'll be doing next month.  There's no one to help us.  My husband starts a part time evening job making minimum wage this week.  I feel horrible that he has to work all the harder because I can't find anything.  He works so much now.  I worry about him.  I worry about us.
My husband was gone part of last week for a job interview out of state.  We're keeping our fingers crossed that something comes from it.  He got a call today that he's made it to the final stage of the interview process. We're trying to keep it in perspective and not get too excited.  You get too high and it's a long way crashing down.  The wonderful thing is getting the job will give him a raise, a company car and an expense account.  The scary thing is hubby will have to commute at least an hour and a half each way until we find a place to live.  We have to figure out what to do with our's a two family and my parents live on the other half.  Do we rent it out?  I can't imagine selling.  We've only lived here 3 years (in July).  Then we have to house hunt (renting to start, I'm sure), find the right school (one that can help my son) and look into a rink.  The good news is, the area I think we'll be living in, will have a number of hockey programs to choose from.  Moving will  be the best thing for us all.  We need a new start.  We need to leave this area, break away from my parents (we support them way more than they realize or will admit) and school district.  It's going to be hard though.  We've planted roots here.  I'm sad, yet realistic that it's for the best.
So, walking into that rink Saturday just brought a lot of deep emotions to the surface.  I keep tamping them down but they continue to rise up.  The good news for Saturday is my son played an amazing game and got a SHUTOUT!  I'm so very proud of him.  He's working so hard and focusing.  I was able to shrug off the anxiety rising up.  After the game my hubby and son went with friends of ours to a Nascar race.  I'm grateful to hubby's friend because he is selfless.  He gets the tickets from his job and uses the business points he earns for the hotel.  It's a nice treat when we're watching every penny.
I took my daughter out to lunch as a treat.  That's when the anxiety hit me.  Out of nowhere.  My heart was racing and I couldn't focus my thoughts.  I blamed it on the coffee I had drank earlier and the fact that we we're having such a late lunch.  After eating, the feeling s subsided some so I convinced myself that it was only a jittery, caffeine rush.
Too bad I know that's not the case now.  I picked my son up from school today and was fine.  A little while later we left and got my daughter from girl scouts.  Not long after walking into the house that scary, jittery feeling hit me again. I couldn't control it, couldn't like it away.  My mind was racing, my heart pounding.  I don't even know what set it off.  I have to admit it for what it's for Anxiety.  I think I'm overwhelmed by everything going on and the new changes on the horizon. I'm afraid we'll lose everything.
My doctor gave me a script for a medicine last year for anxiety when I was a bit overwhelmed with everything going on.  I didn't even tell her.  She took one look at me and knew.  She had to convince me it was worth a try to see if it helped.  It did to an extent.  I only took it a few times so I really didn't give it a chance to work to it's full potential.  I think what helped at the time is I found out I was able to start collecting partial unemployment and that took a bit of a load off.  Now, it's here again.  So I called the pharmacy to find out if the script was still valid.  It wasn't but they called the doctor and got a new one.  I'm so grateful.  I'm going to start it tonight even though I hate taking meds.  I need something right now to keep me centered.  I need to be here for my family.  I found that earlier, it was a struggle to keep it together when the kids were going at it over something trivial.  I can't do that to my kids or myself.  I'm hoping it will help get me on the right track. 
Hubby didn't quite understand at first when I told him I was getting an anxiety med from the doctor.  He asked why.  I told him it was because I was just overwhelmed emotionally by everything going on and felt like life was spinning out of control.  Unfortunately, at first, he made a flip comment about it sounding like "life".  I was so hurt and upset.  I hung up the phone with him before I started to cry.  He gave me a few minutes and then explained that he didn't me it the way it sounded.  He meant that, life is always crazy and out of control for us.  He was supportive and for that I appreciate it.  I hated admitting I had a problem coping with what life's throwing at me...I almost felt like a failure.  I know I'm not and I know it's ok to look for help.
So, now I'm coping with more support and not lost in my own head feeling like there's something wrong with me.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Never Give Up

Just last week my family found out our local skating rink will be closing its doors as of June 5th. Rink management published a press release in the local paper. If your children are deeply involved in an activity then you know what a blow this is emotionally for the whole family. The rink for us is a family place. My son plays hockey there (up to 3 times a week), my daughter (up until the last 4 weeks) skated there twice a week and we are constantly there for open skating, sticks and pucks and other events.

Kindly, our son's hockey coach email all the youth hockey parents to address this as soon as he heard the news. It would have been an even worse blow to read about it in the paper. My husband and I were emotionally floored and crippled. To make matters even worse we found out that rink management (as in the big wigs that sit behind a desk nowhere near the facility) had not even told their employees until they released the statement to the newspaper. How cruel is that?

Let me share the email my son's coach sent to us.

Hello all,
I'm not sure how anyone could understand how much it hurts to send this message. Some of you have received the news already via the press release today. As of June 5th, <XYZ Ice Rink > will be closing its doors. While there are still negotiations with the town - we must continue with the closing process. Obviously, we're all pulling for some positive news, but we have to prepare for what may very well happen.
As for the spring hockey season - we will be attempting to fit in all games before June 5th. This, of course, will mean weekday games. As soon as a new schedule is made, I will pass it along.
I'd gladly answer any of your questions - but I just don't know much at this time. I really regret having to send this email - I do apologize for such short notice - as I just found out today as well.
I would like to thank everyone for their support, caring, and understanding throughout the years - it really means a lot. I've had so much fun the past 8 years at <XYZ Ice Rink>- I am having trouble even thinking about letting it all go. I don't want to get into all that right now (as part of me is still holding onto a thread of hope!) In case I don't have the chance to say it, I truly wish everyone the very best - let's really make this last month fun!
Thank you,
Coach <XXXX>
Youth Hockey Director
Summer Camp Director

My heart breaks for every employee there. To us, they have become a family and have nowhere to go. We were told this weekend that there a few possible deals in the works but nothing definite yet. The Town was rumored to be in talks with management but we all know that nothing is going to become of it. With all governments big and small tightening their belts and slashing their budgets, there is no way the town can afford to take over something so costly. The owners are greedy to boot. They bought the rink a few years ago for $2 million and are now attempting to sell it for $5.5 million and won't budge on their asking price. They are living in La-La-Land if they think they'll get that.
We were given some email addresses to bombarded with messages on what the rink means to us as skaters, players, parents, families, etc. I would like to share the letter I wrote with all of you. I think it tells our story and feelings quite well...

I am writing to you on behalf of the family. We have been a part of the <XYZ Ice Rink> family for the last 4 years. I say family because that's what <XYZ Ice Rink> has become to us. Let me share a bit of our history with you:
My son, <GoalieBoy>, started Learn to skate in 2007 at the age of 5. He couldn't wait to learn because he wanted to be a hockey player. The instructors were great teaching a young child to skate. They were patient, loving and kind. By the following Spring he was through the skating and hockey classes and began Spring league as a Mite. Since then Coach T and Coach J (along with several wonderful parent volunteers) have helped him develop into an awesome goalie. Hockey has become, in all essence, his life. He lives and breathes hockey. Hockey is teaching him many life skills such as: teamwork, perseverance, sportsmanship, endurance, healthy competition, how to stay healthy and active, just to name a few. <GoalieBoy> is a child that struggles in school and always has to work extra hard to keep up with his classmates. He has lacked self confidence. Hockey gives him self confidence and strength of character. He believes in himself, his coaches and his teammates. <XYZ Ice Rink> has given him what school has not. If the rink closes he will be devastated. His self confidence will be taking two steps back.
My daughter, , has been skating at the rink for the last 2 years. I've seen her skating skills grow in leaps and bounds under the direction of many wonderful instructors. She loves everyone there and has been looking to starting freestyle lessons in the next 6 months.
My children were devastated when we told them the news that <XYZ Ice Rink> was closing. We have become close with so many families, coaches, and instructors. My husband has volunteer coached and enjoys helping the kids grow as players. I've become a dedicated hockey/skating mom. There have been times I'm at the rink three days for hockey and another 2 for skating. Often we throw in another day and go open skating, do sticks and pucks or a goalie clinic. I feel we live there and I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm the mom who not only ties on skates but helps put on goalie pads. There is no other place my family wants to be.
Without <XYZ Ice Rink> skating and hockey will die a quick, painful death in our County. The closest rink is 45 minutes away. With the cost of gas it will be an enormous financial struggle on top of the the struggling economy we are facing. Our kids chose to skate and play hockey because they have a passion and talent for it. We've done everything we can to keep their dreams alive. There are so many people, especially children, that will lose a lot if this rink closes. Please, please help us save <XYZ Ice Rink>. I know that I speak for many parents and childdren when I say I will do whatever it takes to help keep it open...volunteer my time, talents and energy into making this work. Think of our youth.
The Family

Now all we can do is sit and wait. We've heard various rumors about potential buyers. I heard 3 local families are looking to negotiate the purchase of the rink. I also heard there's a company in the next state over that may be interested in it. The biggest kink in everything is the greedy owners. I'm hoping and praying something can be worked out. At this point in time, we've been told that no matter what the rink will shut down on June 5th. If buyers are found then the rink should hopefullly reopen in September. We don't know if this will truly happen and if so what changes it will bring.
Right now we are madly calling up rinks and attempting to get information. There are no ice rinks in our county. The closest rinks are at least 45 minutes away. Many hockey programs have already had fall tryouts and have formed teams. Everything for us is up in the air. Our hockey family, as they've become, will be scattered to the wind. I don't know how we can even afford it, to be totally honest. We are struggling financially right now. The rink has worked with us on payment plans and such because we have been there so long. They know our family's love of skating and hockey. We've been blessed with them. Many of the other skating/hockey programs further away cost more and that doesn't include gas and travel. I don't know how my son will be able to focus on school work in the car. I know we'll work it out because, as I stated in the above letter, hockey IS his life. His goal is to be an Olympic Hockey Goalie and play in the NHL. It is his reason for "being". He will be devastated if he can't play. We have done everything in our power to keep him involved in the game. We will continue to do so.
I pray we get some resolution to this sooner than later. I have to say I've become very emotionally and mentally caught up in it. My heart races and head spins when I start to think about it. It's actually made me jittery, anxious and almost downright depressive over this. I can't help feeling this way. It's not a common feeling for me. The last time I felt like this was when I found out my compensation coverage was being cut by 75% and I was overwhelmed with dread on how we were going to live. I have to get my mind off of it. I know it may sound silly to some of you but this has really taken a toll on us. I guess for me, it's seeing how positively hockey has impacted my son. He doesn't have a lot of self confidence...he has hearing issues, he just got bi-focals, he struggles with reading, he has a hard time focusing (in everything but hockey). This rink is his life line and I can easily see it impacting his future. I want to continue to see the positive impact of teamwork, self confidence, sportsmanship and strong friendships. I fear the bleakness if it's all taken away.
However, I refuse to give up without a fight. I will stay strong. I will stay positive. I will be there for my son through thick and thin because I am his strongest advocate. I am GaolieMom!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

First Garden

We our purchased our first home almost three years ago. One of the things on our list of must haves was a fenced in backyard and we got it. Unfortunately, it's a two family house in the middle of town without much land. We have a patch 4x8 in the front on either side of the small front cement porch. I'm guessing since I'm not good at figuring out square footage. The back has a paved drive, a small shed, 2 trees (well one's only a stump now) and a wood deck coming out from the basement. Because it's like a city type lot we don't have much lawn left after the deck, driveway and shed. Because of the trees there's not much full sun. It's perfect on hot sunny days but not so much when you want to plant a vegetable garden.
It took a lot of work and manuvering some things around but I think we created the best spot. Because I'm unsure of how well it's going to do I only got a few plants this time around. I'll expand next year if it works out and if we're still living here.
My kids had a great time helping me. They helped me dig up the soil, weed and put down the mix of Miracle Grow soil and potting soil. My daughter handed me the plants after I dug the holes for each of them. I chose to plant vegetables I knew were versatile, especially ones I could serve hot or cold.
We planted:
*Cherry tomatoes
*Regular tomatoes (don't remember exact kind...oops.)
*Yellow zucchini/squash
*Orange peppers
*Yellow peppers
*Orange snacker size peppers
*Burpless cucumbers
*String beans

I still have to get the wire for the tomato plants. And possibly something for the beans to climb up.
Tomorrow I'm getting more soil. I'm going to plant flowers at the end of the driveway and in the front. I got a few seed packets for shade loving flowers that my kids can go crazy with by one side of our fence. There's dm almost empty bed there from when we bought the house. I was never sure what to put there. I also have a few large containers so I'm planting basil in one and cilantro in the other and putting them in the sunniest part of our upper deck. I can't wait. I'm so excited!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Mother's Day Wishes

All I truly want for Mother's Day is a nice relaxing day with my family.  Sounds so easy, right?  Not if you live in my house.  I say that with honesty and love.  I'm realist.  My family is a crazy mess and I love them for it.  The perfect gift would be that the day would be filled with hugs, kisses and I love yous.  Also, no fighting, yelling or hurt feelings.  That would truly be a blessing.  We're a unruly bunch I have to say.  This will be the first Mother's Day in 4 years that my son does not have a hockey game (at the ungodly hour of 9 a.m..) on Mother's Day.  Sure, in years past I could have slept in but I didn't want to miss my son's game.  I look forward to watching him.  He amazes me with his talent and I wouldn't want to miss it. This year I will get both Saturday and Sunday to sleep in (well, more like relax in bed) if the kids play nicely together.  I'm so excited!  Hubby will be home on Sunday and I know my daughter really wants to make me breakfast in bed.  Hopefully, my husband will agree to the breakfast I already ordered from her.  I want chocolate chip pancakes, maybe a side of turkey bacon, a cup of hot tea and a glass of orange juice.  Sounds devine to me.  Hope my hubby can pull it off.  He's more of an eggs and bagel type of guy.  But no matter what, I'll be thrilled to be able to relax in bed until 9 or 10 a.m.  Such a pleasure, fit for a king.  I can't wait.  I'm hoping he'll offer to make all three meals, clean up afterwards and do the dishes too.  I think I may be pushing it.
There are other things that would be on my Mother's Day wish list but I'm not greedy so I'll be more than happy with sleeping in, breakfast in bed and an attempt by all to get along.
However, if it were possible these are other things I'd like.  Some are big and some are small.  All would make my day a brighter.

1.  A housekeeper.  I'm not picky if it's for a day, a year, a lifetime.  I would be appreciative beyond belief.  More so than the rest of my family who trash my cleaning efforts almost instantaneously and effortlessly.  I know they don't mean to but it seems all my hard work is for nothing.  At least the housekeeper would know how grateful I am as I would attempt not to bow to her every time she appeared.

2. A laundry case the housekeeper doesn't do laundry.  Or if I didn't get a housekeeper.  My husband does attempt to do some laundry on Sunday's which I am thankful for.  However, his "doing the laundry" is bringing the baskets down to the basement, tossing clothes into the washer, then into the dryer.  Eventually they make it up to the living room where I am expected to fold them,  lug them upstairs (something I shouldn't be doing for health reasons) and putting them neatly away.  Hmmmm, guess who has the better gig in this deal?  But hey, it's better than nothing.

3. A dishwasher.  Two (yes TWO!) Mother's Days ago my dishwasher broke.  Ironic, isn't it.  Not comical at all though, I have to say.  I've been washing dishes by hand and letting them dry in my broken dishwasher for two years now.  It's sad and depressing.  I want a replacement so bad.  I've been hinting and outright asking for a long time now.  Yes, I would happily accept an appliance as a Mother's Day gift.  It would free up so much of my time and save my sanity.

4. A gym membership.  My husband has a membership to the local gym.  He can take a guest anytime he goes.  Wonderful.  I'd love to go with him.  Only one problem.  The best time for him to go is after work and that's when the kids need to focus on doing their homework and I make dinner.  So, I miss out.  I went with him occasionally on Sunday's during the regular hockey season since my son's games were on Saturday's but I didn't want to be up at 7 o'clock to go.  Plus, it meant asking my parents to watch the kids.  Sigh.  I want my own membership so I can go while the kids are in school.  I've hinted at this one since Novemeber.  I don't think it's going to happen anytime soon.

5. A flower garden out front and a veggie garden out back.  I've started prepping for them.  It'll be my first year gardening.  I'm worried that there's not enough sun for the veggies but I'm going to try it.  I'd love some plants for Mother's Day.  Hopefully we are done with frost warnings (though we did have one last night). Maybe I can talk the family into a drive to a local gardening center. 

Those are my non-essential Mother's day wishes.  I don't mind not getting them, though they would all make my life better in different ways.  I'm okay with that.  The best gift a mom can ask for is to have her family healthy and happy.  I love my family, even when they drive me crazy daily, and I wouldn't trade them for anything (but shhh....don't tell them that!).
Happy Mother's Day to all the mom's in my life.  We are truly blessed.

P.S.  A spa day with girlfriends or a girlfriends weekend would be totally awesome too!  Hey, a mom can dream!

P.S.S. I just found out something devestating to my son.  This is now my one wish for Mother's Day.  We were notified by email that the rink where he plays hockey is closing as of June 5th.  Supposedly, they are trying to work something out with the town but it doesn't sound like it's going to happen.  There are no other rinks close by.  This is the one thing my son excels at.  It keeps him upbeat and positive.  He's very talented and I'm not saying that because I'm his mom.  I've had coaches, parents and other's tell him that he's really good.  I have to break the news to him without breaking his spirit or heart.  I will write a separate blog post about this.  However, looking for a miracle and the wish I wanted granted more than anything in the world right now is for my son's rink to stay open so he can continue to play hockey.  I hope my prayers will be answered somehow.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Memories of that Fateful Septemeber Day

The day started out like any other.  My hubby (then fiancee)  and I, had to be up by 6 to work by 8.   Everything went according to the usual routine.  Shower, breakfast and then my long trek up Route 3 to the Garden State Parkway before heading North on Route 17.
We had only been in Jersey since May and already I was tiring of the commute and traffic.  We didn't realize that it even though we lived in a town, it would feel more like a city with it's constant motion.  It wasn't until after the move from Western, NY to Bergen County, NJ that I realized I truly was a small town girl at heart.
My hubby was working in Union, NJ.  As he headed South on the Garden State Parkway, I headed North.  At the time I was working as a retail manger.  The store  was silent when I arrived as sleepy employees were slowly making their way in and the overnight crew was winding up their shift.  I went about my normal routine of making sure everything was neat and back filling stock.  The night crew manager was working on the floor near me, pulling excess merchandise back to the stockrooms.  He disappeared for a few minutes.  When he reappeared it was to share with me the most shocking news I'd hear to date.  A plane had flown into one of the Twin Towers.  We all gathered around to talk about it, bewildered that something so tragic had happened.  The store opened a few minutes later but the usual crowd that rushed the doors wasn't there.  It was a prelude of the day to come. We then heard the news that the second tower had been hit by another plane.  All I could think was that this could not be an accident.  I was worried and a bit scared.  My fiancee was an hour away from me, no close friends or family near by.  I tried to make a few calls but the lines were all busy.  By 10:30 upper management decided to close for the day and gave us permission to leave.  The world was eerily quiet outside.  The normal hustle and bustle of Route 17 was gone.  By that I mean, where one would normally see traffic crushed together along the busy route cutting through Bergen County, it was only speckled by the occasional car.  This made me all the more scared. It solidified that something tragic and life altering was occurring all around us.  By now, word had spread like wildfire that an act of terrorism had brought down both the twin towers and many people were dead and injured.
I decided to drive straight down 17 to go home.  If any of you have driven Route 17 in NJ you know you can see the Manhattan skyline in the distance.  To my horror, all I could see was billowing smoke.  Dark, thick and ominous looking.  Before that very day, I had always taken for granted the amazing sight of the twin towers on the horizon. Well, not really for granted.  More like the expected sight of a dear friend.  Now, I felt fear crawling up and down my back as I drove closer to the darkness in the distance.  I was terrified.  I wanted my fiancee and I wanted my mom.  I wanted them at that very moment so badly it was hard to hold back the sobs clawing to get out of my throat.  I had continued to try reaching them on my cell phone and couldn't get through.  I had heard that the lines were over capacity.  I silently chanted in my head....please ring, please ring, please ring.  Over and over again to no avail.  I felt fear.  I felt sadness and bewilderment.  Many people I worked with that morning knew people that worked around the World Trade Center.  They were haunted by their fears that loved ones were dead, injured, missing...  I almost felt guilty for my feelings because I knew of no loved ones in the vicinity.  Thankfully, my fiancee, wasn't interviewing in the city that day as he had been over the last few months.  I prayed to God in relief and thanks that he was safe.
Just thinking back to that fateful day sends my heart pounding and my eyes tearing up.  I will never shake those feelings of helplessness.  I was lost, a stranger in a strange land.  I had no one to comfort me.  I made it home to our house.  The first floor of a two family house.  All was quiet.  I paced the living room, cell phone in hand, land line in the other glancing silently out the window watching the billowing smoke from the skyline a mere 20 minutes from where I stood.  The news of the attacks playing over and over again on the tv in the background.  I just wanted to talk to my fiancee and see if he was coming home.  I needed the comfort of my mother's voice.  All of a sudden I heard a loud roaring noise, the whole house shook violently and I trembled helplessly where I stood.  I swear I thought a bomb was being dropped and my life was over. It turned out to be an air force fighter jet that was making passes over and nearby the city.  Within moments of that I was finally able to reach my mom.  We cried as we heard each other's voice.  She was so terrified that we might have been in the city that morning.  She was relieved that I was safely at home.  Not long after that I was able to talk with my fiancee.  His boss was not allowing anyone to leave.  I was so happy to hear his voice but heartbroken that he couldn't come home and hold me.  All I wanted was for someone to hold me, soothe me and tell me everything was going to be alright.
I know that so many people went through much worse than I did that tragic, fateful day.  I pray for them.  I hope they have been able to find some sort of peace.  I do not know how they have pushed through, just that it is human nature to keep living even if it's day to day, moment to moment.  I pray for so many things.  I pray for peace, hope and happiness.
So, during the last hour of Sunday, May first when it was announced that the mastermind of it all...Osama Bin Laden had been located and killed I was grateful.  Not jubilant.  But grateful.  I can not celebrate the killing of another but it is closure.  I am glad he can no longer hurt anyone else.  He deserved death and more, but it is not my place for that. I thank President's Bush and Obama for never giving up.  I give gratitude for our troops for all they do, day in and day out.  Without them and their brave actions there would be no closure.  I'm very aware that we now have to be on our highest alert for fear of retaliation.  I'm realistic.  I know that his followers will want payback.  I can only hope that Bin Laden's death will weaken them and that the cells will slowly deteriorate without his leadership.  I'm doubtful, but I can hope.  America is the land of the brave.  Where those who wanted freedom came to be strong and hoped for change.  We will survive and grow stronger from this tragedy.  As I listened to President Obama's news conference I felt hope and relief.  I feel the strength and resilience of the American people.
President Obama's closing statement said it best:  "Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America."