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:

Friday, January 30, 2009

A breath of fresh air

I have not had the time or the energy for blogging lately. When I think of Bloggie posts, I think of happy, fun gibberish. But lately there isn't too much to say.

Writing resumes, sending applications and waiting. I am so glad I just finished my degree but I hate to sell myself. Never been good at that. And I have never had to. i am beginning to realize the stability there is in long-term employment. The security of a paycheck, and insurance. But also the friendships you make. They become your second family - your home away from home. I will miss my coworkers. We will keep in touch, as I have with so many from my previous employer, but it wont be the same as sharing experiences over a cup of coffee, taking a break from work for a minute or two to catch up on a new baby or interesting life experience of a friend.

I'm leaving town today, headed south to my parents. I love road trips. They clear my head. My oldest daughter will be with me, as my other daughter is attending a Thespian workshop. That will be great mom-daughter bonding as we crank up the old 80's tunes and belt out til we are hoarse.

I'm hoping the weather will be warmer than here at home. I could use some sunshine. Being around family will help with the blues too. There is nothing like family to tell you your number one! And my parents are the BEST!!!

Possibly new photos to share next week.

Monday, January 19, 2009

But I've been wrong before

Silly me! I spoke a little too soon. Just like the inversion that has settled into our valley this month. The smog has not lifted as I had hoped, and a large looming cloud has overshadowed not just the sky but life as I know it.

Fourteen years ago, and just two years before I became a single mother, I was lucky enough land my first post-college job at a small manufacturing company. It paid pretty well, and was a mere twenty minutes from home.
Just seven months after starting this job, we bought our second house. How we nearly lost the first house is a long story for another time. Life was beginning again after a rough financial patch which we had suffered following his (my now ex-husband's) 6 month stint serving in Desert Storm at a reduced pay. I had just given birth to my youngest daughter, we were living with my parents and landing this job, and buying another house was a godsend.

But it was short lived. A short three years later, I was a single mother. I was able to keep the house, with both his name and mine on the title. As long as I kept up the payments, and did not cohabitate or remarry, I could stay. I also had the option of refinancing it into my own name if I were able.
Finances, since the divorce have been tight. I have never been on state assistance, and my children have been provided for. I was also able to work out payment arrangements in order to get all three of them into braces, certainly not cheap. I was their sole parent. Their father is in another state, a phone call was rare. Christmas and birthdays were to come from me. School fees and extracurricular activity fees? From me. Don't get me wrong, I receive support but it doesn't seem to make up for the absence and it doesn't go as far as one would think. Owning a house and land can really have deep costs.
In the divorce, I also took over the car payments and had a decent car to drive. These were all blessings that I realize not every single mother has had the luxury of. And they were all due to the fact that I continued my employment with that company for 12 years.

In 2005, this stability hit some turbulence. The company which had been purchased by a larger corporation, was sending our facilities manufacturing over the border to Mexico. We would all be laid off within the year. We were given a last date of work and if we stayed until that date, were offered a severance package. Mine was to be in the double digit thousands, based on my years of service.

But an opportunity became available to me, another small start-up company with similar products. I took it. I had really debated giving up that severance nest-egg. However the stress and emotional turmoil in a company soon to be closed is not a healthy environment to be in. And it was worth losing the severance for my sanity.

For the past 3 years I have worked at this company and loved it. Close to home, good hours, decent pay, flexibility with home and school. Alas....this company has been suffering hardships of its own. Financial and contractual.

These are customary burdens with small companies, As they are often running completely on investment money.

What does this mean? My company is near to closing its doors. 30 of the 26 employees are now out of work. Including me. We will no longer be employed as of the sixth of next month. Just less than three weeks from now.

In all my years as a single mother, I have never been in this position. I have been tight on money but always knew that the next paycheck would be there. Even if I had to borrow from it, or stretch it, it was there. Now, in three short weeks, I will not have that check.

I have a good resume. 14 years experience and two degrees. I have a lot of friends in the business. I just completed my second college degree this past spring after eight years of night school. Things may just turn out for the better. But how do I know that? How do I ensure that my family, is provided for? I realize now, the burden that falls on the shoulders of a father. It is a tough load to bear. No backup income in this house.
Of all the trials I have had as a single mother, and there have been plenty, nothing has been as scary and as out of my control as not having a job. Sure I can get a job at the local supermarket or gas station but it will not pay my car and house payment. Maybe two jobs? I hope there are jobs out there, in my field.
Wish me luck, pray for me, I will take all the help I can get. A good nights sleep would be helpful now, but I am a glutton for punishment and spend most nights staring at the ceiling of my bedroom hoping that I can still keep this house, pay for the heat, the lights, things I have taken for granted.

Hopefully I will look back in a year and say this was the best thing that could have happened. Until then, I will keep my head up and clip coupons.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Never confuse the size of your paycheck with the size of your talent. - Marlon Brando

I never met a dame yet that didn't know if she was good-looking or not without being told, and there's some of them that give themselves credit for more than they've got. - Marlon Brando, A streetcar named Desire
Since beginning my Netflix account last year, I have a whole bevy of movies available to me at the click of my mouse and a days mail. Lately, my youngest daughter and I have begun watching some of the old black and whites. She even received a few musicals for Christmas.
Last night, I watched a movie I have been wanting to see since I was about 15 or so. Our family had just signed up for cable television and on Saturday and Sunday afternoons my mother and I would settle in and watch movies. One day, she was watching an old black and white (which in my teen years was a bore!) so I had only watched a few minutes then headed off for more exciting teenage things such as flipping through a teen beat or something.
But that small glimpse of the movie stayed with me. I later heard about what a great icon Marlon Brando was, and heard that the movie itself was a classic!
I had to see it!
And the verdict? Not a bad show at all, interesting, great writing.
But- Brando! oh my!!!
(although I cannot find a picture that is not copyright)
He was definitely a man's man. I realize that this man could be my grandfather. And I realize too that he is no longer living.
But that didn't stop my heart from going pitter patter.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The fog may be lifting

I took this picture on my way to work this morning. The lake effect has created fog under the inversion we are experiencing.

I felt it fit perfectly as a metaphor of my life this past month and a half. A bit foggy. When I was fighting Bronchitis in December, it seemed as though I was in a state of constant fuzziness. Whether it was the fever, the side effects of the cold medicine, the tiredness of spending the night coughing instead of sleeping.. I just didn't feel like my brain was functioning at 100%.

In the past week, I have been feeling better, however, still in a bit of a slump, not back to normal. Sometimes I feel as though I am affected by seasonal affective disorder. Usually around this time, after the holidays, after I have enjoyed the first fallen snow of the winter, after I have warmed by a fire, and I have HAD ENOUGH!- I get the blues.

But, today, right now, I am at peace, the fog is lifting, my head is clear, and I am in a GREAT mood.

So! Bring it on!

Monday, January 12, 2009

water, I thought you were my friend,

In a previous post, I mentioned my love or not, of laundry. I also think I may have mentioned, a storage room that my laundry is in. Well, that room was, as of 9:30 pm last night, covered in water about 2 in deep. It seems that the hose had just had enough of it! and decided to choose that evening to burst at the seams and spray water. I suppose it is good that I ran downstairs for just one more load(I almost didn't) before bed, or it could have been much worse. Worse on both my 'storage' and my water bill.
Here is the culprit:
And this is what the floor looked like when we were almost finished, and tired as all-get-out!

O.K. this picture looks much worse than it actually is.. a lot of that is just the concrete floor and all the stains on it. However, the floor drain is behind this white door on the right of this picture. It is clogged by some unknown substance that the previous owners attempted to discard, and so it drains r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w-l-y.... which made the task that much more fun.

Luckily a few teen boys were over and able to help out, and the kids jumped right in, thank god for well-mannered, helpful kids! And Shop-Vacs!

Here is a list of the highlights of the evening:
1. This is not our first rodeo- we have had floods like this approx. 3-4 times in this basement..for various reasons, some were our fault, most not. And they have all come at the most inconvenient time. Which leads me to....

2. This happened on my last load of laundry for the night, after spending most of my day really deep cleaning other areas of the house, finishing up my own laundry and starting on the kids. And just as I was getting settled in to watch one of my favorite television shows, Brothers and Sisters starring Sally Field.

3. We have a great large shop-vac that we purchased when we had the last flood... soon after which the puppy (who is now 3 yrs old) chewed the hose to pieces... thus, we had to beg borrow and ---well borrow two of them.

4. In order to turn off the house water (until further investigation revealed that it could simply be shut off at the washer) it required climbing to the back of a second storage room filled to the brim with old furniture and board games, and well, most anything the kids clean out of their own rooms... note: desperate need to downsize storage!

5. By the time the situation was assessed, and correct tools were searched out, 99% of the
'storage' was hauled to dry space, and kids were sent to the hardware store for replacement parts, ----said stores were closed.

It was not the way I wanted to spend my Sunday evening, my muscles are stiff and sore, from lifting heavy boxes in such a hurry, and I am just plain tired.

If there is a silver lining to this? I discovered (today on my lunch hour run) there are some hot construction men at Lowe's hardware, I just may need to start on my without-a-honey-do list sooner than I planned!

Tonight will be the night that I wash all the wet things, dry the other wet things, and pack all that storage back into its place.
Bonus #2- My laundry / food storage / Christmas decor storage / tool bench / camping storage room is now, sparkling clean...
Well, almost.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Behind every successful woman... is a basket of dirty laundry- Sally Forth

This is one of the many reasons that I don't like laundry:
A nice fresh load of whites, fresh out of the dryer and in the two seconds it took me to get a cup of coffee.... Dog all over them.
I understand, Blackjack I love the smell and the warmth of fresh laundry as much as the next guy... but do you have to roll in it?
Another reason that laundry is a pain in my side is the location of my washer and dryer. If you did a study to find the longest path in the entire house, it would be from the main bathroom or my bedroom to the washer and dryer. In addition, my laundry room, also serves as my workbench/tool room, our holiday storage room, food storage, camping equipment storage just about everything storage room. And the laundry is as far into that room as you can go. This makes it quite a task.
Reason number three. Anyone who has teenage daughters can attest to the fact that they each create laundry times three! I am never caught up. And when I begin to relax and have the audacity to THINK I am caught up, they bring in another huge basket of laundry. Who knows where it comes from, maybe I have been doing the neighborhood laundry service all these years?
Oh yeah, I make them do their own.... between school, work (theirs and mine), social obligations, and a list of so many other distractions, this equates to piles and piles of sorted but unwashed laundry.
Either they get it sorted and then it sits in neat little piles of Whites, colors, and darks for weeks, out of site (in the depths of the laundry room forgotten) out of mind. Or the worst! They get as far as putting a load into the washer.. which sits way too long until it begins to smell... (my son was good at this one) thank god for baking soda.
Or if it actually makes it through both the wash and the dry cycle.. then sits in a laundry basket in any crook or cranny in the house, until some morning when a naked teen comes hunting for that shirt or pair of pants...the cant seem to find 1/2 hour before they should be heading out to school. The same item that I, as the mother just MUST know the location of. Because I'm the mom that's why.
Don't get me wrong, Laundry can be relaxing for me too. I love to take out freshly dried laundry, fold it, roll in it like the dog.. er not really- but doesn't that sound heavenly? However, Laundry is one of those things, where you may really like to do it, but then, it becomes so daunting and overwhelming that it loses its luster?!

OK OK- This is the real reason that I hate laundry: About 3 months ago, my washer began to go out on me. It did not altogether quit, but the laundry wasn't coming out clean, there was soap residue on the clothes and some of the clothes had white bleached-out spots on them....rendering them no longer wearable. costly.

We made a trip to the laundromat, what a daunting task, with laundry for a family of four, that had fallen behind due to fear of ruining the clothes. We were there an entire Sunday, and came home about $70 lighter in the purse. ugh! Didn't have to lift weights at the gym either...

Because of some financial strains this past year, I was not able to run out and purchase a new set. This set we bought the year I was married- it has served me well for 20 years.
I have really hard water where I live, after some Google research, I discovered that the cause of the white spots was hard water calcium deposits. I went to work, opened up the washer, took out the agitator, and using a little elbow grease and some CLR went to town on all the buildup that I had no idea existed until that moment.
I was so excited to be free of the problem...!!! Wahoo!. However, it was a short-lived party. The soap residue remained. And honestly, the clothes did not seem quite as clean as they should be. Problem not solved...
Further investigation of the washer revealed that the agitator was not ... well, ... agitating to its full potential. When the cycle would begin, the agitator would barely rotate and almost 'float' up off the stem. When I pressed hard down on it while it was in the cycle, it would fiercely chug as it should, (without a human hand pressing it down.)
After a little MacGyver style Jimmie-rigging... it is now functional. But barely. I now use liquid soap or else fill the washer with water and then add the soap before the clothes. Once in a while, still have to run the rinse cycle a second time in order to rinse them completely.
Mama needs a brand new.... washer.
This will be my first big purchase of the New Year. Have you SEEN the prices of new Washers these days? yikes!
If only I could have kept my credit score in check.. not an easy task when your income warrants borrowing from Peter to pay Paul in order to make ends meet... But that was 2008.
2009 is going to be GREAT!

Friday, January 9, 2009

“The death of a child is the single most traumatic event in medicine. To lose a child is to lose a piece of yourself.”- Dr. Burton Grebin

Another one of my favorite movies is- ANYTHING with John Travola.
The only exception to that would be Pulp fiction, but even then, I loved his performance, just not the premise of the film.
One of my worst fears as a mother is the thought of losing a child. Even if I were 105 yrs old and they were 80. I want to go first. I cannot even begin to imagine what that family is facing right now. To lose a son, in your own arms, and at such a young age.
And so suddenly on the day prior to a gathering of friends and family. Then to have to fight the guilt and the pressure of their religion coming into question over the cause of his death!?
I wish them well in this time of grief. Both he and Kelly are so talented but also humanitarians and lovable people in their own rites.
Here's to you, Travolta family. I wish you strength, love and Perseverance in this trying time.
I dedicate this day on my humble little blog to you all.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

This isn't good or bad. It's just the way of things. Nothing stays the same. -Real Live Preacher, 2004

One of my favorite movies/books of all time is The outsiders- by S.E Hinton. The Robert Frost poem used in the story seems to fit my post. If you are not familiar with it, here it is.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Robert Frost
This photo of my foggy drive in to work this morning, says a lot of my thoughts and brain function today.

I had a hard time sleeping last night, lots of thoughts spinning in my head. Here is a post that I posted on my school reunion website as I know they are possibly going through the same 'growing pains' or will soon. Here is a portion of that post:

I graduated at the age of 17, was married the summer I turned 18, had my first born just one month before I turned 20. Two more children followed 21 months and then 19 months later, respectively.
I used to joke that all my kids would be 18 and moving out by the time I turned 41. My Prime. Then it would be my time to play.
Here I am just months from my 40hh birthday, my oldest is already far across the country. Last night my second child interviewed for a summer job which will take her to another state for four months just following her 18th birthday in May.
My baby will be 18 in less than 2 years and this is probably the most emotional time ever! I'm not ready to let go!

Of course I have been lucky and have wonderful kids; we don’t fight enough for me to warrant a break from them. And even if we did, I would still feel emptiness. Of course being a single mother puts a little more spin on the 'Empty nest'. All I know is being a mother. Now it is time to enter a new chapter, and it scares the hell out of me. (pardon my french)

Don’t get me wrong, this is the time in my life where I feel the most confident and secure in my own life and self. Where I feel as though I know where my future lies. But it doesn’t make the absence of my children easier.

This is hard, letting go. Is it loss of control? Is it fear of being alone? Is it that being a mother is all I know? or is it I am feeling my age and don't like it? I'm not sure. But- this too shall pass. And damn it! I am one proud momma!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball

This is my front yard this morning. My backside is sore from not just shovelling the snow, but clenching my gluteus maximus (very maximus after all those Christmas goodies) as my feet would hit the ice below the snow and throw me into a crazy slide and spasm. I am sure I was a site! Shovel hurling in the air, snow thrown into the air a good distance only to fall into the exact spot I had just lifted it from.

The snow is light and powdery, not great for snow forts. But the temperatures here are low enough to freeze what little is left on roads, driveways and sidewalks late at night into sheets of pure ICE. And so, after day number three of shovelling, My butt is killing me!

Here, is a picture of my drive into work this morning. It appears to be a blizzard, but it is actually fog and Ice crystals in the air. Good times!
Calgon take me away! I bet Tahiti is nice this time of year!?


Resolution update: So far, not so good.
  • Took my daughter to the mall last night for a new outfit for her job interview today. Went into a hypnosis with all the after Xmas sales and bought more than I should. But got a killer pair of jeans for about 3 times the price I would ever allow myself to spend.
  • Ate a huge slice of sausage pizza on the mall trip. Hopefully the 3 days of shoveling snow will counteract the extra calories.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Health is not valued till sickness comes. -Dr Thomas Fuller

I am feeling so much better! Nothing like a bout with Bronchitis (or two or three) to let you know how nice it feels when you are not sick, when you can once again breathe without coughing up a lung. I feel as though the cloud has lifted. I realize there are much worse sicknesses to endure, and I told myself that many times over the past three and a half weeks. But still, healthy is the bomb!

I am feeling better just in time to return to work, the daily grind. And to make some resolutions for the new year:

1. Get those finances in better shape. As a single mother, it is essential that I pay my bills, and on time. No-one else to blame if the water gets shut off. I don't own any credit cards, and that has served me well. However, I also have no savings. 2008 was a tough year. Lots of unexpected expenses, Which I have discovered, will always be the case. And so... this means I need to make some changes. Cut back on some spending, work on the book I began writing so many years ago... now that I have a bit more time on my hands. Anyone have any other ideas?

2. Lose 20 pounds. I have been able to stave off too many extra pounds in my 39 years on this earth, however, my love of bacon and deep fryers has started to put a little air in that spare tire. I would like to come up with a new regimen which will not only help me to shave off the extra 20, but also get my asthma under control. I cant say as I have ever been in top physical shape even in grade school when show-off Marvin Curly would make his rounds around the goal posts lapping me by two or three rounds... but this year I would like to get in better physical shape than I have ever been. And just maybe- that will keep me from fighting bronchitis next December?

3. Write more letters to my son. There is no good excuse, but with school and other obligations, I did not sit down and write enough snail-mail letters to my son. He does not have Internet access and I have become way too dependent on technology. Also, He will soon be changing location from Alabama to Oklahoma and so, we might be able to fit in a short road trip?!

4. Save enough for repairs.- And complete them. The roof needs replacing, the chimney is leaning, the kitchen needs a complete overhaul, the car needs some maintenance and repair. I hope to save enough for all these things and still have a bit of a nest egg.- Oh and that shed I need to build... and..

5. Visit my parents more. Now that my parents live 300 miles away, time must be scheduled to see them more often. I have not lived more than 10 minutes from them my entire life, this is a change, and I am not good with change. But we can also stop by and see my ex's family on the way- for the kids.

6. Eat-in more. Fast food is a convenience, and became more so as I was attending night school. But not only is it less healthy, it just downright doesnt taste as good. I will strive to make more meals at home, even if the girls eat it the next day as leftovers because I have yet to learn to cook for one. It is win-win as I will share my recipes here.

7. Watch less TV. When attending night school the past 8 years, on the few nights I had without class or homework, all I wanted to do was veg out and not have to think at all. This turned me into a reality show and sitcom junkie. This year I will watch less and read more. I will also take more walks and enjoy some of the peace that I used to so many years ago.

8. Keep in touch with old friends -more often. I am still in touch with many old co-workers, and school friends but I would like to catch up with them just a little more often this year.

9. Work on my posture. Ever have a picture taken and then look at it later and you look like a humpback whale? Well I do, in almost every picture ever taken. My back hurts all the time, my 'spare tire' hangs out a little too far. If my posture were better it would cure a lot of what ails me. And so, I will work on this. As I write this, I realize this one has to start immediately!

That is all I can think of for now, and it will be fun to see if I can follow through. As I have a history of just the opposite... But if I blog it, then I have to follow through right? Here it is, written for all the world well, -one or two readers- to see.

Over the holidays I was lucky enough to meet one of the readers of my blog. My kids and I went to my best friends house on Christmas Eve and they had their family get together that night. It was so sweet... I was not expecting to go there that night, it was a last minute thing. Also, I was not sure who would be there. But not only did I get to see my friend, and her Family who I love like my own. My friends brother and his wife Karen were there. Karen and Robbie have become friends of mine also throughout the years that I have been friends with Shar. But it was a surprise to find that they brought me an unexpected and sweet gift.
Karen's sister, who told me she also has read my goofy (my words not hers) blog, but she too was sweet enough to bring me a little something. I have never been really great at accepting gifts without feeling a bit awkward. And this was a bit awkward. But at the same time, fun to know that someone out there (Karen included) is somewhat entertained by my ramblings....

Here is a photo of the sweetheart and her gift. My newest friend, DeAnn. Sorry I dont have a picture of Karen.
ahem- I took this photo, and she posed for about 10 minutes (I was later told) with her sweet pasted on smile...because my mouth just keeps running... A trait I have had since I was a teenage girl and which I have passed on to my girls.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Cough Cough Sputter

I'm feeling a bit like a used car this week. I have been battling an awful chest cold off and on since the first week of the month of December.
Not only no time to blog, but I also feel as though this holiday season has passed by so quickly and in a bit of a fog. I wish I could have enjoyed it just a bit more.

I may have to catch up on the seasons events in a later posting. Today we sent my son back to Alabama and his training. I swore I would not get emotional, he is an adult. However, he teared up and said, he wasn't sure how long it would be this time. And the waterworks ensued. We miss him terribly. I am so proud of my son. I made sure to tell him so. Which just started us up again, but it is so important that he know.
The 19 and a half years have flown by, I remember times when all I could dream was the kids to grow up and move on their own. Now, it is happening and I hate it!, And I love it! And I hate it!

Monday, I will be back at work after a week and a half off. Then it is back to the status quo. I managed to get out on New Years Eve, to a local pub that may be closing soon. The smoke didn't help my cold out any, (That will change also as Utah has just passed an indoor clean air act in all private clubs, which in Utah, are bars.) but it was nice to get out. Being so sick I have become stir crazy.
We did manage to do a few things as a family, ice skating, visiting the Body Worlds exhibit before it left town and one day we were able to take in a movie. I loaded up on meds and stuffed my pockets with tissues and cough drops.
More on those events later.