Thursday, January 31, 2008

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Today marks three years since I first saw the face of the little girl God and the kind people in China decided would be my daughter. I remember it (the referral day) so vividly. First came "the call." The words, "Congratulations. You have a daughter!" followed by lots of information on her. Weight, height, the province where she was from, her age, etc. etc. All of it blurred and got all mixed up in my head. Luckily I was busy writing it down because I'd remember none of it. At the end of the conversation, a photo was promised. It would come to my computer inbox within minutes. I must have hit the refresh button a hundred times. And finally, there it was. I opened the email and then the attachment. I was sitting on Joe's lap shaking. As the photo opened I just cried. She was so beautiful! I cried out, "Joe, please tell me if she's ugly because I see the most beautiful little girl ever and I don't know if she really is or if I'm just seeing that." He assured me she wasn't ugly and I cried some more.

Today, I still cry when I remember all of the emotion I felt that day. And, I still look at her and see the most beautiful little girl ever.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Week On My Own - "Groan"

This is the week I dread every year. The week Joe leaves to be a part of the "Big Show." (He works for a golf association and this is their big trade show and learning seminar for the year.) He puts a lot of hard work, blood, sweat and tears into it each year. So, in reality, I'm without him longer than just the week of the show. There is much planning that goes into it which commands much of his time for weeks prior to the event. This year, the show is falling on Millie's birthday. Last year, it was on Porter's birthday. Last year, it worked out though. The show was in Anaheim and the one thing Porter had asked for was to go to California on a plane. He didn't know Joe would be there for his birthday so we surprised him and he and I went with Joe for part of the trip. We did the obvious Disney stuff and a bit more. It was a birthday he won't soon forget. But this year, it's different. Although the show is in Orlando and there would be the obvious Disney connection, the invitation was not extended to Millie or myself this year.
So, Millie had a party this past weekend. Our theme was a Winter Wonderland. Daddy was here but didn't plan any of the party. He did, however, grunt at the few tasks he was given to help pull off the party. (Yes, I'm still a tad bitter.) All in all, though, the party was a success. But, my Snow Princess turns 4 tomorrow and Daddy won't be here to help celebrate. We will have my folks over for an early present and cake thing. Then Jonathan will go to soccer. Not too eventful. Perhaps we can celebrate again once Joe is home.
In the meantime, I'll do my best to single-parent it and take care of our crazy dogs. I hate this week but I need it just the same. It proves to me just how easy I have it all the other weeks of my life. And, most of all, it shows me how much Joe does do when he's here, even if it is through grunts and groans.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Our First Real Snow

The kids had a long weekend. A five day long weekend. So we prepared to pack up and spend the time at the cabin, or the Ridge, as we've begun to call it. Well, Mother Nature decided to welcome us on our second visit as owners of property in the deep woods of Western North Carolina with the promise of snow. So we juggled our plans and left early. Snow was expected around 9 PM on Wednesday. We left home at 4:30 and pulled into the Hendersonville Wal-Mart just before 9. Joe ran in to pick up two sleds. While he was shopping for the best sleds ever, the flakes began to fall. It was magical. Jonathan hadn't seen real snow in about 8 years. Porter had never seen it and Millie doesn't remember seeing it. So hearing the joy in my kids' voices and the smiles on their faces was so special.

As we pulled into the driveway of the cabin, snow was really coming down. Somehow, we managed to get everyone to bed. By the next morning, the fun began. There was sledding, snowball fights, more sledding, snow man building, and yes, more sledding. Three kids have never had more fun. Then, after hours of fun, there were NAPS! It was truly a wonderful visit. One I hope will be duplicated for years to come.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Judge Not

As I've gotten older, I've perhaps become a bit more wise when it comes to judging people. I see it happen every day, though. Decisions on the type of person someone is, are often made after just a glance. No conversation. No background information. Just a glance. Imagine if this had happened to, say, Snow White. She ran away from home at a young age and took up with 7 men! She exchanged household favors for goodness knows what. And, just where did those favors end? Now, if you actually get inside of Snow White's day, you see she cooked and cleaned for these men. In return, they offered her safety from her wicked step-mother. But, if you don't go there, if you only glance from outside, she's a good girl gone bad.

I think I've always tried to instill in my kids that there are most often reasons we don't know or understand why folks make the decisions they do. For instance, a daughter of an alcoholic may never invite a friend to her home. Is she rude? Not a good friend? Perhaps it looks that way. And, some may shun her. If, however, they got in her life, they'd see the truth. A teenage boy chooses to celebrate New Year's Eve with his mother instead of hang out with his friends. Was it even his choice? Maybe he and his mother have a New Year's tradition. Maybe he's not really the weird kid his friends think he is. Another teenage boy eagerly spends the weekends with this grandparents instead of staying home and hanging out with his friends. Is he out of his mind? Or, is there something going on in his home that he desperately needs to get away from? Something that doesn't happen at his grandparents'?

Things aren't always as they seem. People's actions can have a reason behind them you'd never consider. I will continue to urge my kids to really know their friends. To become the kind of person who is kind and non-judgmental. To give folks the benefit of the doubt before they jump to conclusions and make a situation worse for anyone. I know this is a hard concept for kids. After all, creating controversy for others takes the spotlight off of you. Plainly, kids need the guidance from their parents on this. Unfortunately, there are quite a few who don't get it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

You Gotta Love Good Customer Service

Being from a small town, I get to frequent locally-owned stores. There are great advantages to this but the most rewarding thing to me is the wonderful customer service I receive. This morning, I had three days worth of errands to run. (I've been home with a sick child for three days and today was her first day back at school.)

First stop, If It's Paper for birthday supplies for Millie's upcoming 4th birthday party. It's a Winter Wonderland Party. Not only was everything I purchased 50% off because it was considered Christmas, but I was able to catch up with the manager about her little girl who she adopted shortly after we adopted Millie. After a stop at the grocery, it was off to Carolina Girls for a Vera Bradley bag for my niece and a Webkinz for my other niece. Well, Webkinz were buy one get one free so I picked up a second one for Millie's birthday. There were three salespeople working and they all three spoke to me and offered a smile, even though they were also digging through an enormous shipment of boxes. From there, I had to go to Mount Pleasant Music to replace a book Jonathan lost earlier this year. He has a test tomorrow on it and it couldn't wait any longer. Well, wouldn't you know, they were out of the book I needed. But, Mike, the owner, offered to go get me one at a totally different music store tonight. Unfortunately, this will be too late for the test. So, he made a call to that store to see if they had it and is having them hold it for me. Have you ever? Well, I hadn't. This was the nicest thing any store owner had ever one for me. Next, I stopped off at Wild Birds Unlimited to look for some sort of seed house. You know, the houses that are actually made of seeds? The birds eat the whole thing. They had one but it wasn't what I wanted so I settled on a seed bell. After a 10 minute talk with the owner about her friend's bi-polar daughter and a current situation she's having right now, it was time to pick up Millie. (This is a good example of how we're put in the paths of others for a reason. I have a friend who has a family member who is bi-polar and I've heard her struggles. After admitting this to this woman, she talked and talked and talked. She was able to get so much off of her chest that she otherwise would have had to carry with her all day. I'm glad I was there; I hope it helped.)

Something tells me if I'd gone to chain stores for all of my needs thing would have turned out differently.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Me? Electronic Guru?

You've got to be kidding! I promise I'm not a live-your-life-by-your-horoscope person. But I do check it daily just to see. I don't believe horoscopes are any more than bendable predictions. That is, you can twist the meanings to fit any situation. So, I read it more for fun than anything else. And, as evidence to my belief, is today's horoscope. "You have an increased ability to understand electronics." Well, if you only knew how funny this was!

Last night I stole my husband's unused, for over a year now, iPod Shuffle. His brother gave it to him last year for Christmas and it never came out of the box. So, with my 7 year old getting an MP3 this year from Santa, and my 12 year old saving his money for a nearly $300 iTouch, I thought, "Why not? I should have one, too." So I downloaded the software. It was outdated (imagine that) and once running, it prompted me to upgrade. I plugged the thing into the USB port to charge and that's when my problems started. The light that's supposed to be on at this point wouldn't stay on. So I got my husband involved. He touched this, reconnected that, jiggled here, and jiggled there. All to no resolve. So I jiggled, touched and reconnected. And, the light stayed on! Then, an hour later, he turned the computer off...three hours before my charge was to be complete! Argh!

So, this morning I thought I'd try it again. Guess what? The light won't stay on! I jiggled. I reconnected. And, I touched so much of my CPU I think I violated my marriage vows. So, as anyone who obviously "has an increased ability to understand electronics" would do, I visited the Apple site. Went through some question and answer hubaloo that was supposed to solve all of my problems. It didn't. I'm pretty sure my battery is OK since the light is green when I push the battery button. I think my problem is that, for whatever reason, connecting the iPod to the USB doesn't automatically start the iTunes download. So, long story short, I have no way to download songs. Well, at least I tried. Maybe this increased knowledge will kick in by the end of the day and all will be solved.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

How do You get where you're going?

This year, many folks received the gift of a Tom-Tom or a Magellan. These are GPS devices, for those of you who don't know. It seems like not long ago one was cutting-edge if she used Google Maps to find out how to get from here to there. But, alas, that's old school now. You're no one if you don't listen to the sweet sounds of the GPS mistress directing you through your day. Personally, I don't have one. I don't want one. And I find the whole thing rather silly. I suppose if I was a traveling salesperson, I may find it helpful. I'm beginning to think that these devices are part of a movement by "Geekies" to dumb up America, thereby solidifying their role as needed for years to come, as they'll be the only ones capable of doing anything anymore. It won't be long before we cannot read maps or communicate with others to find our way. And the ramifications of this are huge. Especially on our humanity. I am a big believer that we are put in the paths of others for reasons. (Call it witnessing, if you like.) Maybe because we have knowledge that they need. Maybe it's because of a shared experience. Maybe it is support. Maybe they just need a smile. Whatever reason, we're messing with the natural flow of the universe here people. Something tells me Tom-Tom and Magellan cannot offer the same warm-fuzzy feeling I get when a stranger smiles at me. The calm I feel and the calm I like to think I give others when I smile at them, which I do at my every chance. I like to make eye contact with people and extend a smile. Now, I won't say I haven't jumped on the impersonal bandwagon at all. I am a big internet/computer user. I choose it over the phone on many occasions. Heck, I even order my pizza online. So, I am guilty. But, for now, and hopefully for a long time to come, you will see me with a paper map or walking out of Gus' Stop 'n Shop, smiling the whole way.

Friday, January 4, 2008

...But I Don't Do Resolutions

My horoscope today said "Now is the time to make those resolutions you've been contemplating." I will say, there are a few changes I've been thinking I may want to make...but resolutions? I really don't do resolutions. It took me a long time to figure out "resolution" is another word for "slow failure." Sure, I've made years worth of resolutions, just like the next gal. And, I've lost sight of these resolutions long before the coming of Spring. There was one year that I did better than the rest. My resolution that year? To put myself first...or at least to think of myself more. I must say, this was a true challenge. Any mother can tell you that. We spend most, if not all, of our time putting everyone (and their needs) ahead of ourselves. It is natural but unhealthy. So this particular year, I became more selfish with myself and my time. I am still a damn good mother. I volunteer. I grocery shop. I feed my family well. I keep all of the clothes clean. But, I do not worry so much about how clean my house is. I do not hesitate to ask my husband for help. I do not try to do it all. I do look at myself in the mirror and find positives. I look at my family and my friends and see the reasons I love each of them. I review my life and realize how lucky I am.

But, I said there were some changes I'd like to make. Those are simple. I'd like to tend more to my friendships. Let those I love know it more often. I'd like to laugh out loud more and smile more at strangers. I'd like to keep singing at traffic lights, out loud for all it's worth. I want to make the joy in my life show to everyone I see. But these are all just changes, not resolutions. Because, I don't do resolutions.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Hard Heads Go Bump In The Morning

My husband and my middle child are so much alike it is scary! My mother-in-law says so and I see it, too. This may be why they clash so much. Both get an idea in their minds and don't let go, no matter what. So, it's no surprise that they often pick opposing ideas and stick to their guns, nearly always resulting in arguments. This morning was no different. You need to know that South Carolina is experiencing a very cold snap right now. It was in the teens (wind chill) this morning when Porter left to stand at the bus stop. He hates to wear a coat. Perhaps his coat isn't cool enough, perhaps he thinks he's too cool to protect his flesh from bone chilling temps, I don't know. But, he refused to wear a coat this morning. In anticipation of this repeating argument, Joe and Porter picked out his clothes last night. Two long-sleeved t-shirts and a hoody. Joe assumed Porter realized that all of this would be going under his coat. Porter was certain the coat would not be a part of his wardrobe. After some sharp discussion of the subject, Porter left for school in his sock hat, winter coat hanging in the closet.

As Joe learns to pick his battles, I hope Porter learns, soon, that being cold doesn't make you cool.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Hello 2008!

It is with fond farewell that we ushered out 2007 and welcomed in 2008. Obviously, by looking at the date of my last post, we've been quite busy. We accomplished so much this past year; celebrated to the fullest many occasions; lived the best we could. Regrets? We have a few. But, mostly, 2007 was a wonderful year full of second chances at life for a few family members and friends, deeper love in my marriage, a new decade of life for Joe and myself, many laughs with my kids, and a huge leap of faith toward realizing a dream.
December, alone, was probably the most elation-packed month of the year. Joe and I finally closed on a mountain home! This has been a dream of his for as long as I've known him (21 years). This dream became mine, too, after a few years of sharing his life. It took several years of serious looking to find the perfect place, but we did. The location couldn't be better and the house itself is great! We spent New Year's there with the kids and we all had a great time reconnecting. We don't have television so we spent a lot of time playing ping pong or board games, and talking. Even though the mortgage payments haven't yet started, it already feels like money well spent!
So, for 2008, we're very excited to see what awaits us in the North Carolina mountains. We named our cabin LeapStone as it is a huge leap of faith and a stepping stone towards dreams realized. I'll have to find a cocktail that signifies that sentiment...