Wednesday, August 31, 2011

OMG, I'm a Soccer Mom!

My daughter has been a figure skater since she turned 5.  This past year she was in her first holiday show and her first competition.  She did well in both and I'm in awe of how she overcame her shyness of performing in front of others.  I am so proud!

Unfortunately, the only ice skating rink in our county closed down in June.  So we had to make a decision.  The closest rinks are an hour a way and we don't have the time or money to be driving back and forth four or five times a week.  It was different when it was ten minutes away.  So, Little Bee has decided she wants to try other sports while goalieboy continues hockey.

Little Bee has decided she's interested in gymnastics, soccer, baseball and cheerleading.  We did gymnastics over the summer and really enjoyed it.  But with cash tight, we've decided to keep that a summer activity and we're on to soccer. 

She's been wanting to do soccer for a while now so this is perfect. I think she'll do good because she loves to run and she runs fast.  If she can coordinate it with kicking the soccer ball she'll be golden.

I'm so glad she's so excited. Today we went out and purchased her cleats, shin guards and soccer socks.  She's already to go for her first soccer practice tomorrow night.  Can't wait! 

Soccer Socks

Shin Guards

Soccer Cleats

Let the games begin!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sad Goodbyes

I haven't blogged much in the past two weeks. First I was on vacation and most of my posts were written the week before and scheduled over the next 10 days with a few awesome guest posts included. Then I got caught up in the post vacation fury of unpacking, laundry and attempting to retake control of some semblance of order. Then all hell broke lose in my little corner of the world.

It started with an earthquake and ended with a hurricane (downgraded to a tropical storm) with a smattering of tornado warnings thrown in. Good news is we're ok here.

I have lots of blog fodder for weeks to come about the last 2 weeks. However, I can't bring myself to write about that right now.

Tonight I am sad. Heart broken. My whole family is sad. Why you may ask. It's not because of Hurricane Irene, though she did a number to our community and those surrounding us. No, its because of life changes. A big one is the start of the new school year next week. I plan to pour my heart out about that in the next few days. Tonight, my heart is heaviest because we dropped my stepdaughter off at her mom's earlier.

As many of you know, she spent the month of August with us. This is a first in the 10 years she's been in my life. I haven't blogged about anything about it besides the fact she would be with us and how excited I was. I wanted to enjoy and absorb the whole experience with open eyes and heart.

At 17 she can be (as she proclaimed) a teenage drama queen. There were definitely moments of that. They make me fear my kids teenage years. There were moments where I wanted to say, what the hell are you thinking?! Such a moment....the night Irene was hitting, she actually asked to sleep over a friends house. No way! We want you with us. I don't know what her friend's mom was smoking to even consider having friends over. Maybe I'm the crazy mom. Who knows. All I do knows is the basement in her friend's house flooded and the fire department had to come pump it out.

All those moments were minor and typical of an average family with a teenager. She frustrated me and made me want to cry.  A few times I did actually, and I then vented a time or two on Twitter about oblivious teenagers (or something like that). Sometimes I felt things too personally because that's how I am. I usually feel better when I get it out and have someone to commiserate with or who will offer me insight and guidance.

However, I wouldn't have changed a moment. I think the ups and downs brought us all closer together as a family. I think she sees us more as family, if that makes sense. It's tightened our bond.

We had a wonderful August.  Lots of fun and laughter.  We had picnics, movie and game nights, late night chats and long trips to the new ice complex my son is playing hockey at.  Every memory brings a smile.  Even the ones that drove me nuts or made me question her sanity.  *Laughing*  We never fought though I'm sure if I had been her mother she would've given me a piece of her mind a few times. Though, I feel we've always had a good relationship, I think this month really helped us see the other clearer.

I hated letting her go. I didn't cry but I sure wanted too. The pin pricks of tears were building up but I forced them back. One of a mother's hardest tasks to do sometimes. I didn't want to upset the kids. They were already upset and sad enough. I was amazed to see her eyes red rimmed and tears pouring down her face as I pulled into her mom's driveway. She was so sad to be leaving us. My heart ached for her because I know she was torn in two directions. She was happy to be home but realizing how much she'd miss her home with us.

She hugged everyone tight and told us it was her best August ever. I think we were finally able to bond on a higher family level. I am filled with great joy and sadness.

When we got back home I found a very touch, heartfelt post on my Facebook wall. Only a teen would think to post something so personal and intimate there. I think it was her way of not only telling me, but everyone in our world how much she appreciated her time with us.

Here's what she wrote:

I wanted to say I seriously had the best time this month. I feel like I got so much closer to you and daddy but I feel like I got soooo much closer with the kids, especially B (goalieboy) I don't know why. But thank you so much for dealing with all my diva teenage moments because I know I have them. Tell daddy and the kids I miss them so much. I can't believe the month went by so fast, its not fair. But I love you guys and I'll see you soon.

My son kept saying how much he missed her. Over and over again, all night. It broke my heart. He feels certain things so deeply. This will weigh heavy on him for a long time. I think he almost feels abandoned. l am sobbing now as I type this. They use to be so close when they were younger. I think my daughter felt left out at times. But as my daughter has gotten older they've bonded over girl things in the last few years. And now my son has felt left out. There's no easy balance to it all.

She spent lots of time reading with him, playing Wii with him and just talking with him. I believe he's very open with her about his thoughts and feelings. I'm glad he feels comfortable enough to open up to her. He needs that. He has low self esteem at times and he keeps it bottled inside.Sometimes, I see some of a younger her in him. She can reach him at times. It's wonderful for them both. Her words made me tear up more.

I wrote back that it was the best August for us ever. I wish it could last forever. We had our moments but that's what family is all about. I appreciate everything she did to help and support me. I am forever grateful to have her in my life. I love and miss her terribly.

I pray that this month lives on for all of us and is not forgotten or taken for granted. I want to build on it and make our family bond stronger. We were not truly saying goodbye but until next time. I am grateful that it will be in a little less than two short weeks.

In my eyes, family is everything. Hold on to it tightly.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Preparing for Irene

As many of you out there I've been spending the last few days preparing for Hurricane Irene to hit the East Coast.  I'm lucky enough not to be in New York City but I am less than 90 miles away.  I'm preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.  We're supposed to get upwards of 10 inches of rain and 50-60 miles per hour, gusting to 70.

For me that is enough to fear and prepare for.  Our house is old.  Like built in the 1800's old.  Our backyard is small but boasts an extremely old Maple Tree.  It's actually a tree with two thick trunks coming out of it's base.  It's massive.  It's old.  It's in need of trimming with wide spread and far reaching branches.  Even without the high winds, the ground is saturated from all the rain this summer.  It wouldn't take a lot of effort for it to uproot.  Also, all the neighbors have large, old maple trees.  My biggest fear is branches flying, trees uprooting and all the debris smashing into the house.  My girls bedrooms are at the back of the house.  The wind's suppose to start up after midnight.  I've already told them that they'll be spending the night in the living room.  Might be best for us all. If a tree does come down it will likely block our path to the stairs.  Scary stuff.  But, I have to think about it so I can be prepared.

Here's my list:

1.  Water-We have about 7 gallons right now and a 24 pack.  I used our filtered water and filled up 3 pitchers at our house and another 3 at my moms. I also have a supply of juice boxes, ice tea jugs, apple juice and canned soda. It will help if need be.

2.  I froze the 24 pack water. I can use it to help keep the frozen food cold if necessary.

3.  I have an ice maker so I just started bagging the ice and putting it into the freezers (I have a side by side and an ice chest). I'll pick up bags of ice tomorrow if necessary.

4.  Stocked up on extra canned goods...fruits, veggies, beans, etc. I'm not a canned goods kinda gal but in this case it works.

5.  Bread, crackers, peanut butter....great staple foods that need no refrigeration.

6.  Picked up more batteries for the flashlights. We have at least 3, plus a few battery powered lanterns for the kids.

7.  Candles, matches and butane lighter.

8.  Making sure all the laundry is washed before tomorrow afternoon. Sending my husband to work with a bag filled with necessities (clothes, blankets, pillows, food, water, etc) in case he gets stuck.

9.  Charging up the phones, ipod and DSs. Phones for emergencies and the rest to keep the kids occupied.

10.  Packed up the backyard.  Everything is in the shed or basement except for a few trash cans. They are under the deck by the basement door and I will pull them in if and when necessary.

11.  Filled up the vehicles with gas.

12.  Made sure the grill has propane. Hey, you never know.

13.  Check to make sure that the radio has batteries. Plus, my dad has a weather radio that cranks.  I have to go find it before the end of the night.

I think we're as prepared as we're going to be. My mom is home alone next door because my dad is out of town.  He won't be coming back until Monday. I'm a bit upset that he didn't come home today. I've already told her if it gets bad I really want her over here with us.

So, while we're not in direct line to be hit we are prepared.  Praying that all this hard work is for nothing.  I pray everyone out there being effected by Irene is safe and those preparing are ready.  God bless.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dear Reckless Driver

An open letter to the fool who nearly sideswiped me...I'm going to keep this clean though in the moment I wanted to rip your head off and put it where the sun doesn't shine.


Dear Reckless Driver,

What were you thinking as you clearly drove through the red light?  It had to have been red for several seconds as the intersection was clear and there were no cars anywhere except on my side.  Did you not see my big green van so you thought it would be ok to keep your foot on the gas?  You didn't even attempt to slow down.  There's no way your light was yellow and you were not showing any caution.  You totally threw caution to the wind as you ambled on through.  In your defense, you didn't fly through.  It didn't seem like you were in a hurry and putting the pedal to the metal.  That scared me more because obviously you weren't functioning at full mental capacity.

It was noon time.  Clear as day, not a cloud in the sky.  Were you high ?  Were you drunk?  What were you think?  Clearly you weren't.  I didn't see you on the phone but I could have missed that?

Here's the irony in the situation.  I had just made the turn a second before you came through that light.  I don't leap lights so I know mine was green for a few seconds.  I was turning left as you came straight through.   I had just successfully made the turn when you came right up behind me.  How did you succeed in barely missing me and the person behind me at the light?  I still can't figure out how that miracle happened. Thankfully, I'm assuming, they must have seen you coming and didn't pull out.

Obviously you must be fearless.  You didn't seem to flinch.  Oh, and to top it off, you decided to make a quick U-turn two streets up without stopping to check for traffic.  Right across the other lane of traffic.  Yes it's a small town and thankfully the road wasn't busy.  You have some kind of luck mister.  I feel I had an angel on my shoulder watching out for me.

I don't know what was on your mind but I can sure tell you what was on mine.  My daughters...7 and 17.  I was on my way across town to pick them up from separate sleepovers.  I'm grateful not only that you didn't hit me but also that they weren't in the car. 

I pray you don't always drive like that.  Please open  your eyes and get your head out of the clouds or out of your ass...wherever it was.  Stop smoking the wacky tabacy or drinking your choice of poison.  There are innocent lives out on the road.  Show some care and respect next time you get in the car.  Next time we may not all be so lucky.  If you live, you'll be sorry and asking for forgiveness.  This should have been your wake up call but I doubt you listened. 

Next time...well, I'm going to pray there's not a next time.


The Woman, Wife, Mother, Daughter, Friend you almost hit

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sundays are Family Time

In our house Sunday's are family days.  I really wish that we could go back to the days of the Blue Laws where stores we're not allowed to be open.  To many of you this may be inconceivable but to my family it would be a gift.

Why you may ask?  My husband and I have spent our adulthood working in various retail type management jobs.  If the blue laws were in effect this would give us one clear day off to be together as a family.  We've tried hard to make this work for us since the kids were born.  We have fought to have this one day together every week.  It's become easier since I am currently unemployed.  For a two year time period, I would often work a Sunday if needed.  I dreaded it.  I cried not being able to spend time with my husband and kids.  But not anymore.  Those days are over.  Hopefully forever. 

In retail management it is hard to call the schedule shots.  Sometimes even when you're the boss.  Why?  Because ultimately you are responsible for filling any gaps in your schedule.  If no one can work it or someone calls off it comes down to you.  Upper management (district and regional managers) don't care.  It's "your" store and your responsibility to get it covered.  They don't care how, just get it done.

When I was working as a store manager for my last company there were many times I was working 6 days a week, 12-14 hour days.  Some started as early as 4 a.m. if we were getting a truck I had to pull in and ending at 7 p.m., when most of the pack out was done for the day.  It was mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting.  It was unforgiving.  Corporate was uncaring.  I use to pull in 10 pallets worth of merchandise stacked over my head.  The only way to break it down was to get a metal chair to stand on and pray I didn't hurt myself.  Eventually I did and my body has paid for it time and time again.  It's the reason why I am currently not working.

It's not worth it.  I missed way too much time of my children's early years.  My son was 4 and my daughter 2 when I finally threw in the towel and demanded a demotion. Yes, demanded. Months before I sat on the phone telling my district manager I couldn't do the position anymore.  He promised support.  He lied.  He said whatever he could to make me feel guilty and stay.  I was a hard working, team player.  He was lucky to have me.  He told me he would get me out.  He never did.  I finally sat in  his office in tears, almost begging him to fire me.  Finally, it took a call to human resources to make it happen.  The week I was demoted he went on vacation and left the company.

I couldn't take it anymore...mentally, physically, or emotionally.  I was actually having panic attacks driving to work. I gave it up for myself and my family. I wasn't the person I wanted to be.  I wasn't the wife and mother I knew I could be.  At that point I had already injured myself once. The move hurt us financially and we've struggled ever sense.  It's rough right now because of my choice.  But I can honestly say my kids and my body appreciate what I did.  I have no regrets.

Since my husband is still in management we have committed to making Sunday our family day.  Most of the time we are together.  Sometimes not all together but together, if that makes sense.  Occasionally the guys will do a Nascar trip with hubby's friend who gets free passes and Little Bee and I will do a girls day.  But, it's all focused around family and continuing to strengthen our bonds

Without each other we are weak.  We will be there for each other through thick and thin.  When push comes to shove and all those other quotables.  No matter what though, we will stand by one another.  That's what family does.  We are teaching our children the importance of being together and enjoying each other's company.

That's what Sundays mean to us.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Stephanie Plum novels, a Must Read

If you've never read Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series than you don't know what you're missing.  Seriously, I am not lying!  I was in a creative writing class during my college days years ago and the professor recommended that we read Evanovich's books.  I totally blew what he said off.  I've been kicking myself since I picked up my first Plum novel about six years ago.  She's creative, funny and all around entertaining!

Evanovich writes engaging characters that will have you laughing out loud no matter where you are.  I can't believe how many times I've had tears trailing down my face while trying to control the laughter rolling out of me.  My husband looks at me like I'm loosing my marbles.  Hey, maybe I am.  Her words paint her stories effortlessly.  Her characters are crazy, yet you feel like you've known them forever

Here's some background:

Stephanie is a klutzy yet endearing wannabe bounty hunter.  Well, I can't really say she wants to be, but hey it's a job and she needs the money to pay the rent and feed her pet hamster, Rex.  However, she's not remotely good at her job.  It's always a comedy of laughs when she's around.   She attracts trouble like you wouldn't believe.  One of the ongoing jokes throughout the series is how long a car will last in her possession.  They are forever being blown up, flattened or totalled in some way or another.  It's come to the point where bets are taken on how long it will be before a car in her possession is no longer in one working peace.

She can never catch a FTA (failed to appear) the first time around.  Hilarious hi jinx always ensues.  She keeps her gun in her cookie jar without bullets.  I think that paints a pretty clear picture of how she is as a bounty hunter.  The FTAs she's forever chasing are crazy, unique and always provide entertainment

Her on again, off again boyfriend is a cop.  Hot and sexy, Joe Morelli.  They have a past history.  Enough said.  They're attracted to each other but can't seem to commit.  Or at least not at the same time.  Morelli also comes with Bob the dog, a huge golden retriever that will eat anything insight. 

Her temptation is a man named Ranger.  He is tall, dark and definitely DANGEROUS.  He is former special forces turned bounty hunter/security expert.  He is Stephanie's temptation.  You'll have to read for yourself to see if she gives in.

The crazy cast of characters goes on and on:

Vinnie-Stephanie's cousin who owns the bail bonding company Stephanie works for.  He's married but into kinky stuff it's better you don't know about.

Lula-Ex-hooker turned file clerk for the bonds office.  A plus size woman and more than most men can handle.  She's also Stephanie's best friend.  She provides a lot of comic relief whether she's eating her way through anything fast food related or taking shots that rarely hit their intended target.

Tank-Ranger's right hand man.  His name says it all.

Grandma Mazur-Stephanie's maternal grandmother  She loves to attend viewings at the local funeral homes.  A closed casket has never stopped her. She's a pistol.

Grandma Bella-Joe's grandma.  She's a little, feisty Italian lady you don't want to cross.  If you do she's bound to put a curse on you as she's done to Stephanie several times.

Stephanie's Mother, Mrs. Plum-The stereotypical housewife.  She's a great cook who expects everyone to sit down to dinner at 6 o'clock or it's ruined.  She irons when she's upset.

Stephanie's Father, Mr Plum-Retired from the post office but drives a cab part time to get out away from Grandma Mazur.

There are so many more interesting characters that repeatedly pop up in the Plum novels.  None of them are "normal" and they all provide comedy relief in some form.

If you're looking for a series of books that will keep you coming back for more this is it.  Don't look any further.  I promise you won't regret it!

Let's BEE Friends

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Family Fun Day ~ Guest Post by @rustilyn

While I'm on vacation this week Rusilyn from My Life As An Officer's Wife is taking over for my blog for a day.  Please give her a big welcome and lots of bloggy love.  She's a wonderful woman, wife and mom who I love chatting with on Twitter.  She's funny, witty and real.  Just my kind of gal.  You can find her there as @rustilyn or her twitterjail alter ego @hashtag_whore.  Without further ado....Rustilyn!


First – let me thank our lovely hostess for letting me take over her blog for a day while she’s relaxing and enjoying herself AWAY from here :) Thanks lady, you rock! This was a lot of fun to write :)

Second – let me introduce myself, because you may not know me (I know, I know, I’m surprised too!) I’m Rusti :) I’m married to a cop, and we have a 2.5 year old daughter, nicknamed Goose. I’m telling you this because they are my family, and what this post is all about :) Because of Hubs’ work schedule (night shift, slightly funky days) we only see him 3-4 days a week (that alternates weekly, so his schedule is predictable, it nothing else) but we do have a 3-day weekend together every other weekend – YAY!

Third – the business. When discussing with our lovely hostess what I might blog about in this post, one of the suggestions she mentioned was “what we do for fun as a family” and this summer we’ve started a new habit, maybe even a tradition (although we’ll have to see if it continues, I’m fairly certain it will) of zoo-hopping. Zoo-hopping? Pretty much it’s just trying to get to as many zoos as possible, whenever possible :) For us, we’ve only been to three so far this summer, but we have more on the “wish list” and hopefully we’ll knock at least one or two more off before the end of zoo season… let me share our zoo adventures with you :)


Our first zoo trip this summer was to our local zoo, only about 15 minutes away…

Potter Park – June 5, 2011

and while not huge, it does provide us with a fun afternoon without a long drive… it doesn’t have any bears currently on exhibit, but it manages to show off two of Goose’s other favorite “ROAR”ing animals – Lions and Tigers :) She also enjoys the Snow Leopard, the Mandrill, and the Penguin exhibits… The River Otters are always fun to watch, the Bald Eagles majestic, and she was alternatively delighted and frightened by the “feed the birds” exhibit – in which we held a tongue-compressor with one end coated in bird seed up for the birds to eat off of :) she loved feeding them, but got scared with they would suddenly fly away or near (darn flighty creatures – ha!) ;)


Our second zoo trip was a longer day… we left around 5:30am for a destination 4 hours away…

Columbus Zoo – June 25, 2011

Black Bears

Brown Bears

these boys are 5 year old twins – and they were in a playful mood :) Goose was a little frightened being so close to such large and scary animals… she liked them better the second time around

Polar Bears

these gals are 6 year old twins – they would take turns diving into the water and coming up to paw at the glass, they were a lot of fun to watch – and after a few minutes Goose warmed up enough to actually look at them ;)

Pink Flamingos, Crocodiles, Gorillas

none of these guys were very active, but Goose thought they were very cool, as she’s only ever seen them on TV

Sting Rays, Fishies and Manatees

this was a very cool exhibit, they swam right past the glass! they also had a reef where you could touch sea creatures like starfish, anemones, etc. – but the animals were on a rest break when we were in that area, and nap time arrived before we made it back that way

Play areas too (which Goose loves as much as seeing the animals)

Goose didn’t care that we’d driven 4 hours to see animals, she spotted the slides and she wanted to play, we stopped at two different play areas and let her play for a bit, she was thrilled to do it all

Also big hits were the Rhino, Snake, Water Dragon, Flying Fox, Monkey & Elephants – especially the baby!

(The big cats were all taking their afternoon nap by the time we made it to them, so those pics aren’t very exciting) We had a great time, although 4 hours on the road, 6+ hours at the zoo, then 4 hours home made for a long day!


Our third (and last) zoo trip was another semi-local zoo – it was only about and hour and 15 minute drive

Detroit Zoo -

We started out with a train ride to the back of the zoo, then headed to the Polar Bears… we caught the Zebras and Giraffes on the way, but only one Polar Bear was in view – and he was spending a lot of time chillin’ in the pool. We were able to sea the Sea Lions in the Arctic Circle tunnel – and Goose really loved seeing them swim right over her. The cats and bears were napping (thanks to the hot weather) but the Monkeys, Hippo, Rhinos and Meerkats were out and about… we enjoy the Butterfly House and Penguin Aquarium, before heading to a very special exhibit…


obviously the dinosaurs weren’t real, but they did look amazingly lifelike and the sounds and movements they made were enough to keep Goose on her toes and wary of what they might do… she did great though, right up until one suddenly shot water right at us and got us all wet – she was done after that! (luckily we stopped in there last, and we were ready to head home – also lucky, because I’d filled up the camera’s memory card!)

We have several other zoos on our Zoo Wish List, but I’m certain we won’t hit them all this summer… on our list are zoos in Cincinnati, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Toledo, Cleveland, Indianapolis… we’d also like to go back to Columbus, but make it a two day trip! there are more we’d like to see, but we have to space them out, maybe we’ll get through them all by next summer ;)

What are YOUR favorite zoos? Or what do you do on your Family Fun Days?