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:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Memorial Weekend

Growing up as a kid in Utah, Memorial weekend is the emergence of spring, the launch of the summer months, the end of the school year and families are on the move.

The highways are overcrowded as trailers, campers, Motor homes and boats head for the mountains, lakes and dunes to soak up the sun.
Stores cannot keep the picnic supplies stocked, campgrounds are full, and the docks of the lakes are bursting.
It is family time to be sure.

I remember many a memorial day Sunday taking flowers to the graves of lost family members, the beautiful colors covering the green lawns. A tradition I share with my own kids.

But after I was married many years ago, memorial took on a new meaning.
My second child and first daughter was just under one month old when her father saw her for the first time. He had been stationed in Germany for most of the pregnancy fighting for our freedoms in Desert Storm. Being a military wife is difficult i know first hand.

Not only financially and stressfully, but being without the one you love can be really trying. Women married to men who work long hours or travel often for business know how hard it can be juggling a family single handedly. Add to that the fear of the danger that so many enlisted are in. It is tough to explain to your young children why their parent has to go away and many times, you don't know for how long.

I cannot imagine the pain of explaining those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to their children.
My husband was only deployed for five months. We have been divorced for nearly thirteen years and he has not been active in nearly twenty but I feel for those who live with it everyday.

And now, I am a military mother. I have to say, I think it is even harder. No one wants to see their children hurt, or in danger. To me he is still a little boy. The one I made a commitment to protect. And now, he protects not only me but many many people given the low card in life. Many people torn from their homes and safety by dictators who should be protecting them. And many more who live in freedom every day. Many people who don't support or understand the sacrifices and the reasons.

I would like to dedicate this post to my ex husband, my son, and all of the thousands of enlisted men and women who fight in the trenches and deserts for me every single day.
And a second shout out to the many other men and women making sacrifices for our freedoms, safety and luxuries without a second thought.

Nurses, Doctors, Police officers, Fire fighters, miners, oil riggers, the list can go on forever. I appreciate you all. Be safe. You are all hero's.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fill those puffs

In my last post, I showed how easy it is to create tiny little puffs magically and easily- here are some wonderful fillings:

My mother's filling is a yummy savory shrimp concoction:

Shrimp Puffs
Soften one 8oz and one 3oz pkg of cream cheese and blend in 1/4c evaporated milk (any milk will do). Whip until fluffy. Add 1T finely chopped onion, 1T lemon juice, 1/2t. worchestershire sauce and 1 can tiny shrimp (drained) or 1/2c. fresh shrimp finely chopped. Mix until blended and fill puffs.

This filling gives just the right amount of shrimp flavor without being too fishy.

I adapted this recipe to please my daughter who is not a seafood fan.

Similar to the above recipe:

Chicken puffs

Soften one 8oz and one 3oz pkg of cream cheese and blend in 1/4c evaporated milk (any milk will do). Whip until fluffy. Add 1T finely chopped onion, 1/2t. worchestershire sauce and 1 can chicken (drained) or 1/2c. cooked chicken finely chopped. Mix until blended and fill puffs.

Variations include adding walnuts, grapes. olives, ham, cheese, or capers. Mix it up.

I found a few recipes on the web that included 

curry and chicken
Bacon, lettuce, tomato with pesto
                                                      almost anything you might put in a sandwich but would like as an appetizer. Vegetarian's may like a portabello mushroom filling.

And of course, for those with a sweet tooth- Fill them with pudding, whipped cream, fresh fruit or cottage cheese and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Impress your friends today. These will get raves at a bridal or baby shower, pot-luck, office party or just impress your own family.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A favorite appetizer - Thanks mom

My mother was a working girl most of my life. She set a great example for my sister and I as she juggled us, work, housekeeping and getting dinner on the table. Often she would attend pot-luck lunches at the office and I remember many a night she would create these little wonders the night before.

I am sure that most of you have eaten a cream puff at some time in your life, this is a savory version:

If you like savory over sweet... and want rave reviews at your next office party, pot-luck, or dinner party, try this one out!

Shrimp Puffs

First you need to create the puffs for filling. 
(This is the same recipe as you would use for cream puffs and these can be filled with so many fillings, the sky is the limit.)
I will start with puffs and in my next post, the fillings.

This part moves quickly so it is a good idea to read through the first few tasks before beginning.
In a large saucepan, bring 1 c. water, 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter and 1/4 t. salt to a boil. 

Add 1 c. flour all at once and stir until a smooth ball forms.

Remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes.

Add 4 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

Continue beating until mixture is smooth and shiny.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. 

Bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Reduce heat to 375° for an additional 15 min.

Remove from oven and immediately split puffs open. Turn oven off and return puffs to warm oven to dry about 20 min. Remove to wire racks.

Then fill:

Tomorrow I will give some great savory filling suggestions. Including my mothers yum-o Shrimp filling.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Poor little birdies

The weather here finally warmed enough that I would get out and clean up the yard. It was beginning to look pretty haggard after this winter and all the rain lately has everything sprouting mach 10.

I started out by mowing the 6in high grass. About 70% through and I ran out of gas...well the mower not me. Surprisingly because after a long winter hibernation, I can be known to need a kick start myself.

No problemo- just have to grab the gas can....nowhere to be found. Then I recall my daughter loaning it last summer to a friend, and 'I'll bring it right back mommy'. Didn't happen.

Next I moved on to the trimming... I have an electric trimmer as the fumes from gas powered models makes me sick. (and we were out of gas anyway. Approx as far into the yard as I had worked the lawn cutting, the blasted thing makes a whirring noise, squeals, 'poof' catches fire near the twine carriage and dies on me....

So it seems they last about 2 years.

I pulled out the clippers and went to town baring down some evergreens and some limbs off some of the overgrown trees. I made so much progress that I was left with a large pile of evergreen boughs. So large, I am still at a loss as to what to do with them. I really wish I had a shredder they would make wonderful mulch.

Then I moved on to my clematis vine. When in full bloom it has large violet blossoms much like this photo. (right)

However, after a long winter it looks more like this. (left)

So I dug in and started to break off the dead, dry leaves and some of the dead vines. Some of which met their fate when I was clearing brush near the bottom and accidentally whacked off with the aforementioned weed trimmer.

While I was breaking the vines, I heard a light thud and looked down to see this tiny baby bird fluttering in the grass below... what? where did you come from little guy?

Here is a closer shot- see the little guy?

Buried under the leaves.

I took a closer look and saw a nest in the depths of the vine. And saw a nest.

The baby bird ran across the ground and hid visibly scared, under some garden hand tools.

My dogs began to sniff near the little guy but didn't hurt him.

Then he ran under the evergreen boughs I had piled near the house.. So far under I s\could not retrieve the little guy.
Then I heard another one fall.
This one was running so quickly around my feet I had to hold still not to step on him. No hope of catching him either. Boy for babies, they had some get-up-and-go!
He flapped his little wings and ran like the wind across my yard.
About the size of a golf ball but fast as a bullet. This little guy ran across my yard and into this busy street.
Moving so fast I couldn't catch him.

I cringed as I watched cars driving past. But he made it all the way and into the ditch on the opposite side of the street.

Then I saw a slightly larger bird fly down into the ditch and when I got to the other side of the street, he was gone.. I certainly hope to another nest..

I didn't clear my clematis bush any more, and i didn't touch the nest. However one more baby fell, (jumped?) out of the nest and ran into the boughs with the first one. Then this mama showed up.

She was chirping and crying out.. she would sit in this tree when she saw me, then swoop into the nest...then back to the top.

She was obviously distressed. I could feel for her.

But the baby birds seem to have survived. They were large enough to flap their wings really hard, they had the strength and stamina to run under the brush and across the street. I think they will be ok. Mama is still out there this morning chirping and my daughter and I heard the chirping of a chorus of birds outside her window, which is just above this plant.

I had an unexpected overnight guest. My ex's sister needed a bed for the night and we had 2 open. I have not been able to sit for an extended amount of time and catch up on the years past in so long. We chatted for nearly eight hours this morning.

However, my to-do list is lengthy and nothing is checked.
Better get busy. And check on those babies

Monday, May 10, 2010

In your own backyard

Are you feeling a little bit stir crazy? Is Spring fever beginning to make your temperature rise? Stress and work getting to you? Do you need a vacation?
What about in your own neighborhood? Do you take the time to appreciate the beauty around you?

During the summer months my girls and I get out in nature often. Hiking, walking, road trips and yard work. There is beauty all around us.

Last summer we traveled to the nearest metropolis and took some photos of the inner city. We looked at the city through new eyes. We noticed things that we would on any other day, walk or drive right by.

The past two weeks, while my son was in town, we did a lot of activity. Even more so after I was laid off and home during the day.

We also had a house guest, his girlfriend Sam. Sam is from Kansas. We experienced Utah through her eyes this past week.

When we picked her up from the airport, she was amazed at her first view of our monumental mountains. 

She saw Sundance Resort Home to Robert Redford for the first time:

Her first time watching the hang-gliders floating off the cliffs

She saw a Moose at the lowest level of elevation I have ever witnessed.

Some beautiful things that you can't see in Kansas

But one of her favorite things about Utah? Our very own claim to gourmet cuisine fame? 


Fry Sauce is a simple sauce, very very popular in this area. I don't know why it has not caught on in other areas but we here are nearly addicted to the stuff on our french fries. But that is for another post.

Sam had a great time and we got to see our own area through new eyes. What a great time we have had.

What is in your backyard that you might see differently if you were not from the area?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

Two weeks ago was the happiest moment of my year! We picked my son up at the airport after an 8 month tour in Iraq. Prior to that, he had been stationed in Kansas and we had not seen him since last January.

We have had a lot of fun with him, his girlfriend, and all of the extended friends and family who have stayed with us over the past two weeks.

But all things come to an end. This morning, Mother's Day, we drove him to the airport for his 6am departure. I am sure it was the 4am alarm, but I got quite emotional. More so than the first time we sent him. I thought it would get easier but it doesn't. I did get to spend a short amount of time with all three of my kids this morning. And I cherish it deeply.

Please let this war end soon, and peacefully. Please bring my son home safe. This is my Mother's Day wish.

But we did cram a lot of fun into two weeks time. Bowling, arcades, visitors, my parents tango dance in a spoof on Dancing with the stars, board games, go-carts, mini golf, food- lots of food, a Jr. Prom, A 19th birthday, Two 3D movie events, and even a little kite flying.

Also I would like to send out a Happy Mother's Day to my own mama, whom I adore, and cherish and miss terribly (she is not gone, just further away than I can see in a short trip).  A wonderful Mother's Day wish for all the mothers who read this blog, and the single mothers who may not have anyone to spoil them today. Take a moment for yourself, a bubble bath, reading a book or cooking your own favorite dish for dinner.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy Birthday to my girl

Today my second child turns 19.
It seems only yesterday when she was a tiny thing terrorizing her older mild-mannered brother.

We will probably head to the local go-cart / lazer tag event center for the day.
Happy Birthday Baby!
I love you more than any words can say.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Crazy life

So why is it that every time I write a post about a positive turn in my life, something happens that evens it all out again and reminds me of how twisted my life actually is?

The reason I started this blog was to vent about just how Topsy-turvy my life can get. When I would speak with co-workers or friends about my roller coaster life, they would say: ' You should write that down, no one would believe that one person could have a life that crazy.'

When I read over past posts here, I realize it has not changed. It is just in print now.

The latest news is that I am once again among the unemployed. It was not a complete surprise. My boss just did not 'get me'. That is a really frustrating position to be in. I was hired into a certain position, we discussed my strengths and I thought I understood what it was that they expected of me. I did it. There were some overwhelming periods. Not necessarily because the work itself was hard.

The company as a whole was disorganized. None of the SOP's or procedures explained in a clear concise manner the companies procedures.
My boss was inconsistent. On each of my projects it seemed that I would do what he had expected on the last one, and it would be too much or too little.
There was a lot of finger pointing at the management level. This was often discussed among the employees but nothing was done for fear of retaliation.
Almost all employees were working far over the forty hour work week. The engineers were all in their twenties with young families. The long hours were not because we were overwhelmed with work. Disorganization, disagreement on how things should be done among managers, and repeating work unnecessarily were the common reasons.
Around Christmas time my boss and I spoke of my work flow, my competency and his opinion of my work thus far.

He was concerned, he stated that he had seen no progress in the area they had hired me to do. I was stunned. I had been working so diligently over the past eight months feeling as though I had exceeded his expectations.
I can tell you it is a horrible feeling to walk into a superiors office with a feeling of excitement, anticipating the praise for all your hard work, and getting punched in the ego.

It was then that I created a time line of the projects, the tasks and the changes I would make. We both signed it. In the past few months I have nearly completed the list. I have completed multiple projects not included in the list. I have played the management ping-pong when each had a different viewpoint as to how those tasks should be completed.

One being my boss, the other, a quality manager who will be defending my work against the FDA auditors who could potentially close the business if discrepancies are found in an audit.

Every day was stress. Everyday I would come home exhausted. Everyday I would get snippy with my kids after a long day. And add to that a long hour and a half commute each way through congested traffic.

It was not a great place to work, and I could feel that the gauntlet was ready to fall.

Yesterday I was called in. The hard work I stressed over, the projects I lost sleep over, were not enough. They were eliminating my position.

I have never had such a communication issue with a superior. I have always had exceptional employment reviews, and I honestly felt a bit of relief losing that job. Many of my coworkers passed me their information and asked me to keep them in mind they are all nervous and stressed.

I understand that a good part of the nation is out of work and don't know when they will see their next paycheck and losing a good job is nothing to sneeze at. But I am not programmed to feel so out of touch.

I feel confident that something better will come of this. Something closer to home. Something that I can feel confident I am contributing to.

The last week of April, I had been contacted by a previous director and I have had my first interview for a job under him. He is confident in my design skills and there is a chance I will get it. If not, I have many colleagues who have offered recommendations and the job opportunities are filling my inbox.

I really think that this is one of those blessings in disguise, but I sure wish it could have been me telling THEM that it was not working out.

For now, maybe I can catch up on my reading of the blogs I love, and the writings here. Also my son is still here for a week. He leaves on Mothers Day. Another blessing to be sure spending more time with him.

Happy Cinco De Mayo everyone. ( Am I allowed to celebrate if I have not a Mexican gene in my family?)