Life as a single Mother-Empty nest, Dating, Ex-husband, Best Friends, Full-time Employment, Unemployment, night school...How do these all relate to one another? Come with me:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Homecoming 2008

Friday night Chantel worked, Rachel went to the homecoming game and stag dance, and I (although it was my birthday) stayed home and worked on the broken clothes washer.
There was a bit of excitement at the local eating establishment that my girls work at. It seems that one of the crew chiefs, (age 17) and a prior employee (age 17) decided that the $4000 in the safe was a little too tempting to leave be. After telling a few co-workers they were headed for Vegas then to Mexico, they (unbeknown to the co-workers) helped themselves to the money and headed out of Dodge.
They were later apprehended in Chicago... yeah me thinks the Vegas bit was a ploy to get the authorities off the trail. uh duh. Silly kids- now they will be paying for that foolishness for a long time.
So, now my daughter is even less happy with her job as all of the remaining employees are now being treated as criminals. They must now all be overly supervised. The one who took the money was known as the bosses favorite. I guess that has changed.

On a lighter note: Saturday was a busy day for us....
After relaxing with a cup of coffee and a crossword while the girls slept in, we started on the boutonnieres for the dates that night, so much more cost effective to make our own. $10 for a bunch of roses is a lot cheaper than $10 for one rose and a pin from the florist.
I regret I did not take any pictures of the flowers we made...
Here is one of the purple flower (we made) already pinned on. Thank god for photo editing.

Not bad for an amateur I suppose.
umm- I will say- it was a bit intimidating to find out, that her date Jake's mother and sister, own a florist shop. Yikes! Talk about pressure!

Here is a really bad shot of the beautiful creation that he gave her. He was so sweet, said he helped put the pearls on.

We began getting my older daughter ready around noon as he was coming to get her at around five. She had been perusing pictures of prom hairstyles for a week and could only find some that we had no idea how to accomplish. Here are some photos of this process....

First straightening, Then curling,
A little makeup, Finally she was beautiful. (o.k. she was already beautiful, but now she was gorgeous...)
So much was going on simultaneously- Running between the girls, Daughter number two had purchased a dress a while back, that was her style completely! Think Ginger Rogers... well she got it for under $10 but- In Utah you are not allowed to show any skin.. I think it is a mortal sin or something.. so in order to keep her from being ousted from her very first date dance, we had to do a little bit of
Cinderella-esque, bippity boppity boo... and this is what I was working with.
This glitter fabric, a dress that my daughter got for a steal, and a little elbow grease to create sleeves on the sleeveless. All while running between the bedroom salon wielding a curling iron, and the kitchen table sewing room, Covering those sinful spaghetti straps with gold and silver. Back to curl a few more curls. whew!
And then, a knock at the door!!! oh my! It cannot be either date! we are so far from ready- me in my dirty stained sweats and hair in a makeshift pony.. The girls running around in shorts and tanks they slept in the night before. - We were not ready for company!

Awwww it is a boy bearing gifts- flowers.. sweet little Channing (not Rachel's date) He was just here to see if Rachel and her date were eating out with he and his date. He was meeting his date at our house. Look at that bunch of roses he brought her. Looking so sharp in his tux. With Rachel and her friend Trisha who also came to help with the beauty regiment.

And then Channing's date Zanthy showed up and we were back to our tasks at hand...

You are darling- really, but we have work to do -

Now shoo!

But with all the interruptions, and all the set-backs, we managed to create sleeves on a dress,
Create two beautiful red-carpet
worthy hairstyles,
Mighty fine looking girls I say!
And then the dresses!

Please forgive their mothers horrible photography skills. (That white streak is sunlight coming from the window, not part of the dress)

But look at the sewing skills, this was sleeveless an hour ago.

Chantel's date arrived at about 5:30, handsome
bloke- more pictures.

What a darling couple!

Later, after attempting my very first time cooking halibut steak (or any fish for that matter), and pine nut couscous (or any couscous). Which according to Rachel, I get a 1 out of 2.

I guess I need to work on cooking fish

properly- and look how boring it looks on a white plate. oh well, great for the waistline if the food tastes bad eh? (and I suppose I should admit- The couscous is from a box.)

We then dressed Rachel for her date with Devon:

Enter handsome number two!

Note: I did not get a picture of Rachel's flowers because, we took her picture before we pinned his on, and her date forgot hers in the refrigerator and had to go back home.

Their picture is also taken inside as they left after it was dark outside.

Another sweet looking couple. They were so nervous!


What you may be asking, did I do with my night alone? My night of freedom to throw caution to the wind? My night after my 39th birthday when I should be celebrating?


But to get the whole effect, you have to realize that this was load number one. And as my washer has been on the mend for about 2 months, you need only close your eyes and imagine Mt. Kilimanjaro to know what I was up against. Then settled in for a movie and the smell of fabric softener.

Details on the dates later revealed that Rachel and Devon had a great time, dancing and talking, and the girls got a group photo at their first school date dance with each other. Chantel's last homecoming and Rachel's first.

Other than that, their night seemed uneventful.

Chantel's night began with an Italian dinner at one of those restaurants where you doodle on the fine table linens while you wait for your dinner to arrive. I guess the dinner must have been a while because from what I hear, they covered the entire thing.
Jake was quite the killer as he was doodling frisky flies under his plate... yes - you know what I mean. (flies making baby flies). I think he liked the shock value of whomever was lucky enough to clear their table. Then he doodled some arrows to the hottie.. and my daughter reciprocated..
sounds like they had a great time too. So it was worth the laundry- I'm so glad that they are enjoying their high school years. I tried to grow up so fast- I missed out on a lot of this.

Oh and sorry for the silly food plate and laundry in the middle of the story- but hey! such is my life.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Another Year older and deeper in debt....

OK. I know that isn't how the song goes but, that is how I am feeling today. Teenagers are expensive! Here it is, Friday- yah!, Pay-day- yah!, and my birthday- yah! and I am flat broke!

Yes, on pay day! As soon as the money hits my accounts, it is gone like a wave. It is bad when you are depressed on your birthday - not because you are another year older, but because Christmas is but a few months from now and the savings account is depleted.

Now, don't get me wrong. We don't live a life of poverty, we have food, shelter, even cable TV. A big part of my being penniless is the shiny wires glued onto my beautiful girls teeth to make them that much more gorgeous. And the endless dollars paid for their school group functions that are over the top, and for their group trips to places I have yet to go. We live a great life. My kids don't always have the latest gadgets, the designer clothes, or a car of their own (gasp). But we do fine.

The kids are not close with their father, he lives too far, doesn't call enough, and doesn't know what to say when he does. He pays support because he has to. It is taken from his checks. He doesnt know that it doesnt go very far.

But he also doesn't know what he is missing.

Because he also doesn't get to say 'I love you' with hugs every morning and every night, (his choice). He doesn't get to see them grow taller and more intelligent with every passing day. He doesn't get to hold them when the latest boyfriend or girlfriend breaks their heart. He doesn't get to see them perform their talents in color guard, and drama. He doesn't get to play dress up and hair salon this Saturday when the girls go to homecoming. He doesn't get to give the boys the 'be good to my daughter and have her home early or else' glaring stare as pictures are taken on the stoop... and oh so many more memories and emotions too numerous to mention.
nope- these are our memories.

And I wouldn't trade them, not for all the money in the world (pardon the cliche').

Second thought.... I am the richest woman in the world.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Later that night

When we got home from our short hike and ran a few errands, we sat down to watch a great movie from the 80's starring Robin Williams in one of his better roles, Dead Poet Society. Great writing. Any time I get a chance to share the wonderful 80's with my kids, well, I do, ad nauseam.

Then after the movie when our bodies had stiffened and rigor mortise had set in, we cooked a wonderful meal together. I found some recipes on a fellow blogger's site and we ate the best and most calorific meal we have had in a looong time.

First thing an appetizer of some ricotta filled Roma tomatoes. yummy

Here is Rachel - chef du jour workin it....

And then stuffin' it....

Speaking of tomatoes---Side note:

This is a pear tomato plant that we planted about 3 years ago... every year the darn things get saturated with fruit, we cant pick, or eat, or sell or give away fast enough then the frost hits and kills them all.. but there are so many seeds fallen by then, no need to plant again... it is taking over - remember Little shop of Horrors? I suddenly feel like Seymour...

But I digress,

after the yummy appetizers were ready

And half- eaten.

We put Chantel on KP duty peeling potatoes while

Rachel and I (and Chantel too) roasted garlic cloves...ahh the smell was heavenly. I think we all stunk of garlic all night- good thing we are single gals.

Then Pan-fried a Rib-eye- Just the best cut of meat known to man

and sliced it for serving

With the tomatoes and the Rib-eye we had some garlic mashed potatoes the most fattening potatoes with a whole stick of butter and a stick of cream cheese... ooohhh then add the roasted garlic and mash mash mash away all your frustrations..
there is no picture of the potatoes- by the time they were ready we were starving and well, no left-overs to be seen- even the dogs made out like bandits with the bones.

The rest of the evening we watched the Emmy's it was great to reminisce with the old show themes and the cast of laugh-in- coulda done without the 'reality show' emcee's. uughhh my daughters Jr high Drama class was more entertaining.

Mom and Daughter Bonding

With my son gone, and my daughters oh so busy with all their work and extracurricular activities lately, I decided we should have some girl time.
After sleeping in a little bit and my CBS Sunday morning fix, with the cup o' Joe, I asked the girls if they were up for a short hike to the falls.

Just about 2 miles up the road from our house is are the foothills of Mt. Timpanogas. There is a trail that leads to the marking on the mountain for the high school letter. Just south of that trail there is a trail that leads to a very beautiful waterfall. Although my daughters have hiked this trail many times, I had never been. So we ventured out.
As you can see by this picture as we had just started out my youngest, on the right, was not too keen on the thought of actual exertion. According to her, she was excited about the bonding time, but she was not the outdoorsy type.

Her idea of outdoors is camping and sitting by a campfire- not actually hiking in to look at scenery. (Translation- exercise was not her thing.) I give her props for going anyway. Even if she looks as if she just found out that she has to repeat all of her high school history classes or something!

And she looks as though she really wants to get this over with.... am I wrong?

She was like 20 paces ahead for most of the beginning of the hike... then she slowed back as the trail got steeper.

Isn't this gorgeous? Would be even better if I had used a better camera, but even this Instamatic was on loan from my daughter. So this is the best you get.

You will just have to imagine the colors about 10 times more vivid- like those old Kodak Kodachrome commercials of the 70's and 80's...

And then we saw water-

There is something to be said for the sound of rushing water in nature.

This is my church- this, in my opinion is as close to God as you can get. I'm not going to get all prophet on you. Just love the feeling of peace and contentment you can feel in nature.

The girls informed me that this pretty little cold as the arctic pool was where my son and his scout troop held their own version of the Polar Bear club swimming in the dead of winter when they were mere children of 13 or so.

Brrrrr !!!!!!!!!

Some things it is better that a mother not know until much later when she can do nothing but sigh..

I took this one in order to show the absolutely breathtaking colors of autumn (today is the first day of autumn) in Utah. again, if I had a fancy Schmancy camera, you could see what we saw. But still, beautiful.

A view of the valley below. There is still farmland in Utah county- who'da thunkit?!

You can just see Utah lake.

sigh! again.

and then the falls--

We took a few pictures using the timer function on the camera... no small feat as that hill is steeper than it looks...

And when you only have 10 seconds.... you cant always get your best view.

My best side!- Or not

These little critters were EVERYWHERE!

They were cute as ever! Can you spot him? He is wearing his camo-
Sorry he is a little fuzzy- Get it? Caterpillar ....fuzzy....?

Oh I crack myself up!

ahh these cuties will do anything for their mother... even climb over rocks in an ice cold river, risking falling in and freezing their little wet patooties off... even forcing a smile when 'Outdoors is not their thing!'
I love my girls!

And what my younger daughter calls the adventurous one, took off across the river for a better view!

Note: This water is only about 5 inches deep.

However, it is moving pretty rapidly. And its COLD!

A view from the top!

Of the waterfall that is...
Approximately 20 feet or so...

Now you can see some of those colors!

And the pool below.
'The adventurous one' looks over the edge.

White water flowing over mossy rocks.

Nature at its finest.

Another smaller waterfall a little higher on the mountain.

Hmmm....Enter man. Ugly!

On the way back down I saw this cave-like hole in the hill, I had somehow missed on the way up. Coming down you are a little less conscious of your breathing and more aware of the beauty.

We couldn't help but wonder if any critters had used this for shelter.. or if it was just plain a hole-in-the-wall.
It was a nice afternoon....

Friday, September 19, 2008

I dont wanna grow up

In June of this year my mother retired after 6 years with a company we both enjoyed working for. I had already been there for about 7 years before she came to work there. My dad had already retired about a year prior to my mom and they had already put an offer on a house just a little over 250 miles south in what is called Utah's Dixie. It gets this name as it is the retirement city of choice for many Utahans and Idahoans.
We helped my parents move in June which was no small task as they are, and have been for thirty years, pack rats. There was just so much stuff...
But we got them moved, with the help of my sister and her kids too. And it was a nice time to spend a week with the family. My sister got really emotional when she got back home, It didn't really hit me like that.

Since June, my parents have had their house up for sale. The market is tight right now. Just after we moved them out, I came back home and being as I was the child nearest to their house, began cleaning out the few piles of things to be thrown out that we hadn't had time to get to while packing and moving. so for about 2 weeks, i cleared out trash, kept up the yard, and cleaned. You know- for living there for 30 years, that house looks pristine.

But the house still sat. For sale. With not even a nibble. We decided that because the house also had not been painted (interior) for the 30 years we had lived there, it was time. So, with the help of my best friend, and on one occasion my cousins and my aunt, we painted the entire 2000 sq ft interior. Still it sits.

Well here we are the third week of September, nearly 3 months after moving them out, and they think they may have sold the house. They have an offer- it is about $20,000 less than they hoped, but it is not on the market costing them mortgage payments. They will now be able to pay off their retirement home with just a little bit still owing and relax.

Thing is, now I am feeling emotional. This was my home from the age of 8 until I married at 18 and moved out. So many memories in that house. I guess as long as I still had a key and was venturing over weekly to water and mow and check on the property, it was still my house. Still mine to run back to when I needed my parents. Now, it will be someone else's memory making abode. No more waving to the neighbors who have lived there as long as we have, no more driving up that same street above the trailer sales company once belonging to my uncle Jim, which is now a boat store. There will be no reason to go into that neighborhood anymore.


I am never going to be good with change.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Busy Teenagers- Smelly Dogs

Things are quite busy around the house lately and we just dont seem to have enough wheels. My son is gone to Alabama attending some military training in EOB (Explosive Ordnance Disposal, or a fancy shmancy name for bomb squad).
Right now it is a bit like college for him, sitting in a class room all day- once in a while a field trip to, well, the fields. There have been exercises where he dons a suit much like the underwater aparatus of outer space movies from the 50's and they complete maneuvers and tasks. I am not quite sure if these maneuvers are so that the seargents can have a good laugh for the day or if they actually serve a purpose. But if it makes my sons military career any safer, Im all for a little humiliation.

While my son is gone to training, his first car, a blue chevy cavalier, sits in my driveway. My oldest daughter has had a drivers license for about a year and a half now and yet, car at her disposal, I am left with three choices. Option one, hand over the keys to my car, and stay at home for the evenings she works; Option two, I keep the car, use it as I need, then drop it off to her and walk home the three or four blocks; or option three, take her to work (or let her walk) then drive back at 11pm to pick her up. We have done all of these.

You may be wondering why she does not take the perfectly good car her brother left here? Because it is a standard transmission, and although she has been trained by my son and I on numerous occasions, she just cannot get the hang of driving with a clutch. So the car sits. I suppose it is for the better, as the car comes up for inspection this month and needs some brakes, tires and --- a horn, cannot pass inspection in Utah without a functioning horn, is this why Utahans insist on using theirs for the stupidest reasons?

So, we are left with a dilemma, she is extremely frustrated at her current fast food job. I have to agree with her on the point that family run businesses are not always the best to work for. She applied last night at a local best buy (where previously mentioned Jake, and his father both work) and the pay is approx. $2 more an hour, there are a few open positions. It sounds like it would be a pretty good fit for her, answering phones and customer service, with her personality she will do fine. Problem_! it is not a few blocks, it is 5 miles. This may turn out to be work, on my part. she seems to think that Jake can teach her what her brother and i were not able to ....
I'll keep you posted.

Other events, the Shakespeare festival group Rachel will be competing with will perform their rendition for the school and parents this Friday night, as the parents will not be able to go to Cedar city with them, I am looking forward to that showing. Both girls work Saturday night, and then all next week the school will hold homecoming week festivities. I am still not sure if Chantel will run as the homecoming nominee from the color guard group or not. I hope she does. She may never get another opportunity. The week after that, Rachel will be in Cedar City at the competition. Life is never boring in our household. Oh! and Rachel had her first night on the driving range, turns out she isn't a natural. ugh.

So you may be wondering what I will be doing with all that spare time in between chauffeuring these girls around town. Well, I will be tending to the house, the yard, and well, the dogs will be getting a bath tonight as I was awaken in the night by a horrendous odor. It was dark and I was half-asleep but I swear there had to be a green and grey cloud hovering above my bed. One of the dogs, or maybe both of them have rolled in something. I swear sometimes I feel like I am raising 5 children... or animals.

Monday, September 15, 2008

State fairs, Dates and Mom and Daughter time.

As I was beat from working in the yard and cleaning all morning, Saturday night I didn't do much at all. A little TV, a quick fast food burger and then the guilt of eating said burger.

But I did get a chance to meet daughter number one's latest date. Jake.
Here is a picture:
How cute they look, Honestly, it is nice to see her go out with a boy who is just genuinely interested in going out and having a good time. These days even the teen boys seem to be filled to the brim with soap opera drama. But not Jake.

Some of the boys my daughter has gone out with are just in such a hurry. Relax boys, live in the moment. you are only 17 for god's sake.

Plenty of time for drama later.

I love when the kids come home at night from being out with dates, or even friends and after I get past my half-sleep induced stupor, we sit on my bed and talk about what great fun they have had. Not only do I get to re-live their evening with them, the same laughter and excitement that they experienced earlier in the evening, But I feel a closer connection with my kids that they feel comfortable enough to share it with me.

As I understand it, Chantel and Jake had a great time, dinner at Noodles and Co., a walk through the mall, talk of more food. (He is a teen boy) a view of the city lights, (for you locals, no, they did not go to squaw peak). An he was full of compliments on her outfit, comparing her to his own kid-like attire (his words) including his transformers belt buckle. I may be partial, but she did look cute.

Sunday we had plans of watching our latest netflix arrival, and settling in with some popcorn and getting laundry caught up, but we were all feeling a little stir crazy and well, there are few warm days of summer left. So we saddled up (figuratively speaking) for the state fair, for some mom and daughter bonding.
The theme for the fair this year was Out of the ordinary- I have to agree:

We had funnel cakes and greasy corn dogs, saw the tigers, viewed livestock, watched a magic show and some great artists. It seems that I like the entertainment of some 'up and comers' better than some stars who are getting paid millions.
The fine arts and photography entries were so amazing. I felt a little better at having forgotten the camera. Let's just say- not only are my pictures not crystal clear, but as you can see from the few I have posted here, I have not quite figured out how to avoid shadows or the sun, and in some instances, even my thumb. But, Wow! The talent in the state of Utah.

Amidst the excitement and the all too familiar sights and smells of the fair, I did feel a bit of melancholy too. It seems that the fair, as with every other event in this state, has come under the wrath of commercialism. Of course there were livestock barns, and crash Derby's and sideshow cars of yesteryear. But the main thoroughfare and most of the barns were filled with commercial sales booths. The same booths that I see in every carnival, festival, or event held locally every year. Filled with cheap, but overpriced homemade jewelry, latest kitchen gadgets cook wear, and cable TV services.

What happened to the home town, home grown, fare at the fair? Where are the greased pig races? Where are the pie eating contests? Does anyone still grow the largest squash or pumpkin? I miss the old days of simplicity and home grown. Of overalls and hay rides. Sure I see these things from time to time, at different festivals, but they all seem to have a city flair, a commercialism, and with it, a high price tag.

I am sure that in some of the smaller Utah towns there are events that take you back to another time. Possibly, we as a family, will venture out to the small towns of Utah soon. Such as, Oakley, Salina, or Fairview, and see a small town rodeo or a demolition derby. I need to get out of the city air and breathe.
Note to self: Next time wear better shoes.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

One more Dragon to slay

Saturday morning and I am up early and shoveling dirt. After my divorce I was lucky enough to get the house, and the payments. My kids have always had a roof over their heads. That is our security. It has definitely been a godsend when things have become financially difficult to have a house in the neighborhood that my children have been able to spend their entire childhood in. Lifelong friends, neighbors, and the security of knowing that we aren't on the streets.
A few times in my 11 years as a single mother, things were tight enough financially that I was not sure if I would be able to keep the house. But things always have a way of working out and so far we have not only been able to keep it but make some minor improvements such as paint, new bathroom fixtures, carpeting and a few years ago I installed a pergo floor. I can be quite handy.

But alas, with every joy of owning your own house comes an equal responsibility and maintenance. As stated above, I can be handy. I am a very amateur plumber, carpenter, electrician, fence builder, floor installer, dry-Waller, and many many other very mediocre trades of all Jacks and Jill's for that matter.

However, These can become daunting, overwhelming even. The more time that goes on, the more tasks there are. Without a honey- the honey-do's seem to pile up. The more tasks that need completing, the more the price goes up. The older that my children get, it seems, the more they cost. and Things around here are going to hell in a hand basket.

For instance, the yard. I admit, a lot of it is my own doing. Neglected yards can sure get out of control in a hurry. The longer they are left unattended the more work you have cut out for you. Well lets just say that the past 8 years I have been in night school and working full-time as both an employee and a mother. My yard is beginning to look like the jungles of Africa.

Today- shovel in hand, I made quite a dent. But not near the dent I had hoped. Although the air is getting cooler, nights longer, this weekend is still in the 80's and drains the energy right out of you in a hurry.

Here is just a sampling of what I am working with here: As I attempt to add my first photo to my page.

I live in a city that does not replace broken or damaged sidewalks, it is the responsibility of the property owner. In this last picture, is an irrigation ditch. the green on the left, is a narrow strip of dirt/weeds that runs between the sidewalk and the street (or in this case, the ditch). I live on a corner lot so i have 2 of these strips. Neither of which has the nice strip of green healthy grass that I wish they did. rather weeds, and an overabundance of rocky soil that has built up over time. If you look just past the utility pole in the picture you can see that although the city just did some repair work on the corner that I live, they neglected to finish the pavement all the way to my corner. On both my side of the street and across the other side, the asphalt stops at my property line. I do not have an answer as to the reasoning for this. This strip of the road, approx 5 feet by 40 feet on either side, can be a bear to keep weed and clutter free. As this is a 4-way stop sign, trash and other very odd things end up in this area.
It is my duty, as the property owner, to not only keep this area weed free and presentable, but also the ditch (which I do not have use of, only those with water rights) must be cleared at all times. This week I will be sending off a letter to the city- to attempt to get this small piece of road completed. I hope it will not fall on deaf ears. The silliest part of this is that this would have been a 10 min project when the city workers repaired the road and already had all their equipment here.
I know it sure costs me a lot of money ever year- in labor hours and weed knockout products. Wish me luck!