Thursday, January 28, 2010

January 28th, 1986

Can you believe it's been 24 years? I'll bet I could ask a lot of you, and you'd remember right where you were when you heard.

I remember where I was, and I always remember this date, and it has nothing to do with the space shuttle. It has to do with a young, stupid college girl. Me.

I was just starting my second semester of my freshman year in college. I had a brand new roommate, because my first semester roommate had died. Over Thanksgiving, she was riding in the back of a pickup truck in the dry riverbed, and was thrown out. She was in a coma for a week and then she died. We weren't close, but it was still rather unsettling. Oh, and have you ever heard that rumor that if your roommate dies, you get straight As for the semester? Totally not true.

Anyway, my new roommate's name was Micki. She was older than I was, 22. She was originally from Ohio, but had recently lived in Marina del Rey with her wealthy father. She looked like your typical California girl, blond and beautiful. I hated her on sight, and had a sick feeling in my stomach. I knew this was not going to go well.

This happened to be one of the few times in my life that my first impression of someone was really, really wrong. She was the nicest, sweetest girl I had ever met. She didn't have a mean or stuck-up bone in her entire body. She let me wear her Benetton shirt. She and I would go to the local dive and have a few pitchers of beer. I loved having a roommate that was legal to buy alcohol. On top of that, she was totally awesome.

The only thing that wasn't awesome about her was her taste in guys. She was dating this guy named David, who was 30 and divorced. When you're 18, 30 is really old. I don't think he treated her very well. He was controlling and verbally abusive. I cannot for the life of me figure out why she put up with him. But for all her sweetness and beauty, Micki had no self-esteem. And I have no idea why. I'm sure it started long before I met her.

Anyway, she and David had a friend named Tommy. Actually, he was David's friend, probably around the same age, 30ish. Tommy was going to come over to the dorm and visit one night. The date was January 27th, 1986. While we were sitting around waiting for him to get there, David called Micki, angry. I don't know why he was angry, but he wanted her to go outside and meet him in the parking lot in five minutes.

Of course, he said jump and she jumped. She grabbed her purse and ran out the door, asking me to please entertain Tommy until she got back. She wouldn't be gone long, she promised.

It wasn't long before the phone rang. You see, back in the day, if you were going to have a male visitor, they had to call from downstairs and you had to go downstairs and escort them up. Unescorted males were not allowed past the lobby. It sounds like the 50s, but really it was 1986. I know there are co-ed dorms and floors and maybe even rooms now, but that's the way it was in my dorm.

So I went downstairs, and there was this guy standing there. He looked really old to me, but then again, everyone looks old when you're 18. In reality, he was 32. 10 years younger than I am right now.

I introduced myself and explained what happened with Micki and David, and said that Micki would be back soon. I asked him if he wanted to come up to the room anyway, and he said sure.

We got to the room and chatted a bit. After about five minutes, we were smiling uncomfortably at each other, the smiles of two strangers who have run out of small talk. Then I had a brilliant idea to make this a lot more fun. Let's go get a bottle of something, I said. I can even buy it. There's this liquor store down the street that doesn't card anyone.

He didn't believe me, because I looked even younger than I was, so I was on a mission to prove I could. We got in his car and went to the liquor store. We went inside, where I grabbed a fifth of vodka and a jug of orange juice. The cashier didn't even blink an eye. I paid for it, and we were on our way back to the dorm.

When we got back, Micki still wasn't there. I made us both a drink. We talked. He was nice. I would have loved to have called Micki and ask her where the hell she was, but you know, 1986. No cell phones. I think I did try David's house, but of course, there was no answer.

We had another drink, and another, and another. We may have finished the bottle, I really don't remember. I'm not going to go into the details about what happened after that, but I'm sure you can guess. One of the many, many stupid things I did in college.

At some point, Micki did return, and I was lying on my bed. Possibly not alone. Micki stuck her head around the wall, saw the scene, and ran back out the door. I could hear her laughing all the way down the hall. I think. Maybe I imagined that part, or maybe she just thought that what had happened while she was gone was pretty dang funny. Maybe it was. She wasn't being that I think about it, she was probably drunk too. She drank a lot.

Tommy left at some point. I think I spent some time in the bathroom after that, the vodka and I having a disagreement. I have no idea what time I passed out.

The next morning, the phone rang at 7am. Our phone was really loud, and for some reason, it was on the floor next to my bed. I thought my head was going to explode. I put my pillow over my head to try and drown out the noise.

Micki answered the phone. It was Tommy. He said he had left his wallet in our dorm room. I guess she found it and met him outside to give it to him, I don't know. All I know is that I felt like my head was lying on a rock, and I went back to sleep. I had no plans to attend any of my classes that day. But I had set my alarm for 2pm. Why? Because at the time, I was still a General Hospital addict. I couldn't get up to go to class, but I wanted to watch my soap on my little 13" black and white TV.

The alarm went off at 2pm. I still felt like I was going to die. I carefully got out of bed, turned on the TV, and got back in bed. I tried to lie in the least painful position to watch the TV. There wasn't really a non-painful position at that point. My head was pounding like nothing I had ever felt, and I knew I was going to puke any minute.

As I looked at the television, I couldn't understand what I was seeing. It wasn't General Hospital. It was a picture of a huge streak of clouds in the sky. No, that wasn't it. It was breaking news. Something was wrong. I finally pieced together that the space shuttle Challenger had exploded not long after it had launched, some 5 or 6 hours before.

I always remember this day, and I remember the Challenger. But even more, I remember that day as the day of the worst hangover I have ever had in my life. I've never had another one that was that bad. And I always remember two girls. One beautiful and sweet, who stayed with an abusive boyfriend because she thought she couldn't do any better. To this day I wonder what happened to her. Strangely, I can remember David's last name, but I can't remember her's.

And I remember another girl, one who was so desperate for male attention that she did a lot of really stupid, stupid things.

Most times, I think I've forgiven that second girl for her idiocy. But on this day, I always remember her, and I feel guilty all over again. About things that happened 24 years ago.

"You did then what you knew how to do. And when you knew better, you did better." - Maya Angelou

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Leavin' On A Jet Plane

My daughter posted this picture as her profile pic on Facebook yesterday. I saw it and I couldn't get over how...grown up she is. And dare I say (though I may be a bit biased), how beautiful she is. Lucky kid, she got her looks from her dad and her brains from me. Except for the freckles, those are mine. Sorry 'bout that, kiddo.

Today she is traveling with my mother to North Carolina. My brother and sister-in-law are taking a trip to Las Vegas, sans their 4 year-old. My mother and daughter are flying out there to babysit my niece for a week.

I don't really understand why they couldn't just drop my niece in Phoenix on their way to Vegas. That seems like far less hassle, not to mention much cheaper. But when I asked, my brother said they couldn't get the flights to work out, blah blah whatever. I didn't understand it, but in any case, Danni and my mom are at this moment, on their way to the east coast.

Danni had mixed feelings about going. Last semester, she didn't have any absences, and therefore was not required to take any finals. She liked that a lot. Now she's going to miss five days of school and will have to take her TWO finals. Yeah, two. She only has four classes, and two of them are dance and softball. So she'll have to take her English and economics finals. Plus, she's going to miss a week of softball right before tryouts. Seeing as she's a senior and she played varsity last year, I can't imagine her not making the team, so I'm not sure that's an issue.

She's been going through some personal stuff lately, regarding a boyfriend/ex-boyfriend, so I think it will be good for her to get away. I also told her she gets to visit a state she's never been to before, which is always fun. We've never even been anywhere near the southeast part of the United States, and I hear NC is beautiful. I'm jealous too...I want to leave for a week. I've never been to NC either.

I really hope this trip lets her get away, get her thoughts and feelings sorted out, and just relax for a while. This parenting from 800 miles away is hard, y'all.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

So Much For Project 365

Yep, I blew it. No post yesterday.

24 consecutive days, that's a record for me, anyway. But what I've discovered is that it's difficult for me to come up with something clever, witty or thought-provoking every day. Some people can do it, like June or Jenn. Maybe your name has to start with a J. But I can't do it.

So let's assume that my posts will be less frequent, but hopefully, more entertaining.

Remember the paper mache mess on my floor at the bottom of the last post? It was supposed to be a map of a made-up country for government class. This is what the map ended up looking like. Apparently, their country is an island, with a large city next to a volcano. And a dinosaur. I really hope that their flag and their constitution look better than this. I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Football Is Almost Over And I'm Sad About It

Just wanted to say hi to anyone who might have popped over here from Manic Mommy's blog. Thanks for the shout-out, Steph! And just for the record, I am determined to donate next year!

For anyone new here, on January 1st, I said I was going to start a Project 365. That has worked out so far, in as much as I have posted every day. However, I think the point of a Project 365 is to take a single picture every day and create a post around that picture. In that context, I have not been too successful. I decided to try this to get back into writing, because before Jan. 1st, my posts were few and far between. I won't delve too much into the reasons for that, but we're dealing with unemployment and money stuff around here, and I just wasn't feeling that funny. And I like to make people laugh. I try to, anyway.

I don't know how funny my last 23 posts have been, but if you look over there to the right on the sidebar, you'll see some of my favorite posts that actually were funny.

Today I spent a good deal of the day on my butt watching football. I am a football fanatic. I love the AFC and NFC championship games, and I love the Superbowl. This time of year is awesome and sad. Sad because football is almost over and I have to wait 6 months until training camp starts. Then we are inundated with college basketball, and then in April, baseball. YAWN.

These two? Not so much big football fans. This is what happens when the kids decide to play with your camera. The younger one was supposed to be doing her homework, and the older one? Is just an antagonist. Seriously.

Go Saints!

The older child is doing some sort of project for government class. The project is done with a partner. They are supposed to create their own country, complete with flag, constitution, topographical map, etc. That large rectangle is apparently going to be the map. I don't know, but it looks like a big mess to me. It's still there. I keep asking her when she's going to clean it up. She says after she finishes her speech that's due tomorrow. Who wants to bet me ten bucks that it will still look like that in the morning?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hangin' With The Girls

Last night, I had a gaggle of teenage girls at my house. Five, including Shannon. She talked me into letting them all spend the night.

At first, I was begging my Facebook friends to send reinforcements, but you know what? It was totally fine. They mostly stayed in the basement, coming up only for snacks at night, then for breakfast in the morning. At noonish they were still all here, so we ordered some pizza.

At about 5pm, three of them had been here all day, and the other two had left and come back. They wanted to go to the mall. But they wanted to go to a mall that I had never been to before, and one that's a little farther from my house than the two they normally frequent.

Since hubby wasn't home, I had to drag poor Kylie around with us. The mall was sufficiently far enough away from my house that I decided it would be a waste of time and gas to drop them off, go home, then go back and pick them up two hours later.

So Kylie and I went off on our own at the mall. This place is like no mall I've ever been to. It's called Park Meadows Mall, and it's like, the upscale version of a mall.

The theme inside is very lodge/cabin-like, with wood and stones everywhere. There are tons of couches and tables and places to gather. Lots of high-end stores that I can't afford, which at least stopped me from spending money. Except at Mrs. Field's, where Kylie had to have a cookie.

One corner of the mall had a place that kids could play. It wasn't a run around-type play area, but it had a big Lego table and some other hands-on stuff. The great part was it also had a lot of big overstuffed chairs around the perimeter, perfect for reading the paperback in your purse while the kid is playing. This Lego statue of a lion was pretty dang cool.

On the lower level in the middle of the mall is this fountain. It's gorgeous. I wish now that I had backed up and taken a picture of the whole thing. There are colorful flowers all around, the waterfall, rocks and again...lots of places around it to just sit and relax.

This was my favorite thing in the mall. In the food court, near the outside entrance, is this HUGE fireplace. It's open on both sides. On the other side from where Kylie is sitting, there are couches and chairs and even a coffee table. There is a large hearth all the way around it, where people sit and eat. I just happened to catch a time where some people had just gotten up, and I told Kylie to sit down quick so I could get a picture.

Kylie and I spent the rest of our time in Borders, in the kids' section. She looked at books and played with toys, and I read my book. Shannon and her friends were ready to go after about two hours. Then I took the whole lot of them to another girl's house, where they are spending the night tonight.

I like Shannon's friends a lot. They are fun and silly, and they actually all thanked me profusely for driving them all over creation tonight, and told me how much they appreciated it. Which prompted my daughter to say, "Oh Mom, I appreciate you so much!" Maybe one day she'll say it without being prompted by friends. *smile smile* It's also fun to be in the car with them. They seem to forget that someone's mom is driving, and you learn so much just by listening.

Tonight, at my house? Peace and quiet. At least until Kylie wakes up in the morning.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Days When Nothing Happens

This morning I called my best friend Jen to see if she was still alive. From the news reports I've been seeing, you'd think that all of Arizona was underwater. Jen is originally from Minnesota, and even though she's been in Arizona since she was 16, she still thinks that all the news coverage any sort of weather gets in AZ is hilarious. It is sort of hiliarious, actually. Any rain at all is a huge news event, but when I looked at a home page from one of the local news stations in AZ this morning? They were referring to what is happening in Flagstaff as a "snowpocalypse." Ok, they've gotten five feet of snow with a couple more on the way. The town will shut down for a while, sure. But I'm reluctant to think that the end times are upon us just because Arizona is receiving their yearly rain/snowfall for the entire year in one week. Because people? It's a desert. They only get 5-7 inches of rain during a year.

After we discussed the weather, we talked about our kids. She has two teenage boys, one sixth grade boy, and an adorable 4 year-old daughter. Since we are both stay-at-home moms right now, we talked about sitting around in our pajamas until noon, which, what can I say? It happens. Especially when your best friend calls and you end up talking for two hours.

Here's the thing with me. I get up at 6:30 every morning to drive the teenager to school. I pull on my boots and a jacket, and get on the computer until she arises from her dungeon (the basement) around 6:50 and tells me she's ready to go. You're probably wondering why she doesn't take the bus. I asked her. She said buses are "gross." I could say to her, "Look, you're taking the bus whether you like it or not." Then she would invariably miss the bus, and I'd have to drive her anyway. Making her walk if she misses the bus is not an option, because of the distance, and this time of year, the weather. Let's just say it's a battle I've chosen not to fight. My older two kids went to a charter school for elementary school, and I had to drive them every day. I'm used to it.

So I'm home around 7:15, and the 1st grader doesn't get up until 8am, because they don't start until 9:05. If I were smart (and that's a BIG if), I would use that 45 minutes to shower and get dressed. If I am showered and dressed by the time the little one gets up, my day is much more productive.

However, what I normally do between 7:15 and 8:00? Email. Facebook. Read blogs.

Kylie gets up at 8. I make her breakfast, pack her lunch. She gets dressed, does her hair with a little help from me, brushes her teeth, and then can do whatever she wants until her friends get here around 8:45. At 8:55, I send them packing out the door, as the school is practically right behind our house.

Talking to Jen, both of us felt like we had accomplished nothing today. So I thought, hey...I'll make a list of what I've actually done today, and see if it's worth anything.

1. So first, as I've already mentioned...successfully gotten two children to school.
2. Unloaded dishwasher
3. Put breakfast dishes in dishwasher.
4. Went down to basement, started a load of laundry.
5. Noticed the basement was a mess (as usual) and decided to clean it up. This is supposed to be the teenager's responsibility because it's her room(s), but honestly? Once in a while I just get so sick of looking at it, I clean it. I'm guilty. You probably are too.
6. Fed teenager's rabbit.
7. Back to main floor, pick up a bunch of Kylie's stuff and take it up to her room.
8. Made my bed.
9. Sat on my bed in front of my laptop for two hours while talking to Jen on the phone.

While on the phone:
1. Played Scrabble on Facebook with husband
2. Told Jen about Scrabble on Facebook, started game with her.
3. Harvested an entire farm of grapes. ( I know!)

4. Plowed entire farm.
5. Replanted entire farm
6. Fed and brushed various animals

7. Watered all my flowers on Farmtown. (Not to be confused with FarmVILLE, above.)
Yes, I know I need help.
8. Wondered why husband wants to keep playing Scrabble with me, when I keep kicking his ass.
9. Sent email to my mother, thanking her for sending us a big box of my brother's 30 year-old Legos for Kylie to play with. Hey, she loves them and those things are expensive!
10. Finally got off the phone.
11. Went down to basement again, put laundry in the dryer, and paid some attention to the poor rabbit.
12. Starting around noon, had the following text conversation with the teenager:

"I think you should come get me, I'm having stomach issues."
(This is the status quo for her, texting me with some ailment and wanting me to come get her.)
I give her my standard reply:
"Go to the nurse."
"She can't do anything."
"Well, then neither can I."
"Well I don't wanna be at school it hurts."
"Go to the nurse and get some Tylenol. If she says no, call me and I'll talk to her."
"I want to go home though."
"Just go get some Tylenol and you'll feel better."
"I'm gonna die."
"Well, you should definitely go to the nurse then, because she's closer to you than I am."
"This is my last text. If I get a call from the nurse saying to come get you, I will. Otherwise, quit bugging me."

That was the last I heard from her. I'm so mean.

13. Took shower (finally)

In about 10 minutes, I have to leave and go get her, and the bitching will commence. Yay.

Things I haven't done yet, but will.

1. Pick up teenager from school.
2. Pick up 1st grader from school.
3. Make dinner that probably no one but me will eat.
4. Be taxi driver for whatever Shannon is doing tonight (Hey, it's Friday, and she will totally feel fine by then. Trust me.)
5. At some point, get laundry from the dryer and put it all away.

And here I think I didn't do anything today.

Husband has had two interviews this week, and one set up for next week. Please keep your fingers crossed!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Today I'm going to tell you about a friend of mine from high school. I'll call her L.

L is three years younger than I am, so she was a freshman when I was a senior. I had known her before that though. Our families went to the same church, and she played softball on two junior high teams on which my mother was the coach.

When she started high school, she was good friends with a couple of other freshman girls who happened to be in band with me. One of those girls was my assigned "freshman buddy." So we all sort of hung out together.

During the second semester of her freshman year, L decided she really didn't want to go to class. She preferred to spend her time across the street on the smoking curb, or sleeping at home after both her parents had gone to work.

After she had missed 85 days or so of school, they kicked her out. She never did go back to that school, or any other.

A few years later, she got her G.E.D., and then went to cosmetology school to learn to do nails. She does that to this day.

When I was a freshman in college, and she should have been a sophomore in high school, she hung out with me at my dorm. Her parents couldn't control her, and she basically did whatever she wanted. At the time, I thought she was fun. She liked to drink and party, and me being in college, I enjoyed that too. She was cute and she lured in the boys. Fun stuff. The only difference being, is that during the day when we weren't partying and she was sleeping off a hangover in my dorm room, I was actually attending college.

We went through a lot together during my college years. We have stayed friends to this day. We went over to her house occasionally for barbeques and swimming parties. She is back in Arizona, so we basically stay in touch through Facebook.

Our lives went in very different directions, she and I. You see, when she was 17, she went to Virginia to live with her aunt for a while, because her parents didn't know what to do with her anymore, and she couldn't stand living with them either. When she was there, she met a guy who was probably 22 at the time. I'll call him J. She started dating J. He was a nice guy who worked for some computer company. When she came back to AZ a year later, he came with her.

When she was 19, she and J got married. J was/is an extremely ambitious, money-wise, responsible, mature guy. He worked his way up through a couple of different jobs, and is now an IT director for a very well-known company that rhymes with Marles Lawb. My friend L, she still does nails.

They live in a big house. They have three teenage boys who have always had whatever they wanted. She lives a life of extravagance and social scenes. They have a lot of parties so she can show off her house and everyone can see what a great life she has. She lives this life as though she's entitled to it. I wonder if she ever considers where she would be had she not met J?

She brags incessantly about her middle son, who is a junior in high school. He gets straight As in his AP classes and plays on the varsity football team. A few other friends of hers refer to him snarkily as "the golden child" behind her back, because honestly? It gets tiring listening to her after a while.

I know why she does this though. She is very insecure with herself, and she validates herself through her boys and her house and her successful husband. Still, it doesn't stop me from being a little...miffed. Jealous isn't the word, because I wouldn't want to be her. But here I sit with a college degree, unemployed. My husband went to college, and is also unemployed. We both had the bad luck to be working for companies who, due to financial reasons, closed their offices.

I spent yesterday panicking because my husband's unemployment money didn't show up on his debit card. When it didn't show up Tuesday, we weren't that worried, because Monday was MLK day, and everything was shut down. But when it wasn't there yesterday, I was having more than just a small anxiety attack.

He called the unemployment line, and an automated message said that his payment had been issued on Tuesday. Thankfully, we have now received it. I guess the holiday slows everything down.

Yesterday, L posted this message on Facebook:

"Sooooooo bummed!!! Lost the 72" tv last night to a power outage and it screwed up some enternal something... Have to go back to my 10 yr old 50" sooooooo sucks!!!!!!!!"

First of all, yes...she said "enternal", because she never finished the ninth grade. Also, I don't think she ever reads anything, so she spells things like they sound. She spells tomorrow as "tomarrow." Every. Single. Time. It drives me crazy. I want to tell her, but I can't think of a tactful way to do it. I've commented on her status when she spells it that way, and I'll use the word in my comment, spelled correctly. She still doesn't get it.

But when I saw that message, my first thought was, "Oh, poor have to use a 50" TV for awhile, until you replace the 72" one?" Which they undoubtedly will, because they can. Let me get out my violin of all things tragic.

It's even a little more disgusting, because she can post that a week after an entire country was devastated by an earthquake. I doubt world events are even on her radar.

Then I thought about myself, panicking over a missing unemployment payment. Scores of people have died in Haiti, and those who haven't are living in horrendous conditions, with no food, water or shelter.

I have a roof over my head, and food on my table. I have three beautiful, healthy girls. I even have a 38" TV in my living room with a very nice picture that we picked up at the thrift store for $25. I have cable TV and Internet access. My kids don't have designer clothes, and they don't get everything they want, but they have plenty, more than they need. We have electricity and water and heat. We have two cars, and family and friends who are alive and well. We are struggling a bit right now, but we will get through it and we will be fine.

I wonder if this lady would be upset if she had to use a 10 year-old, 50" television for a while?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

As soon as I wrote that title, it made me think of Nearly Headless Nick. Hee.

I got nothin' today, so you get a picture of the dogs. Luke, the one year-old beagle, and Bo, the 10 year-old chug. That's a chihuahua-pug mix, in case you were wondering. Before the age of designer dogs. We got Bo at the pound for $10. I wonder what a chug goes for now at the pet store?
I tried to get my daughter to name her rabbit Daisy, but she wasn't having it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My New Love Affair

That's right, I am in love.

I am in love with boots.

In Arizona, there was never any reason to wear boots. It was never cold enough, plus they look a little silly with shorts. Not that I didn't see some teenagers wearing Uggs with shorts...but that doesn't change the fact that it looks silly.

Since I moved here, I have fallen in love with boots. This particular pair is my fuzzy-and-warm- but-it's-not-going-to-be-wet-outside boots. Of course, you can tell by the water marks that I have worn them out in the snow, but they're not meant to be wet. I wear these almost every day.

I also love my snow boots. They're black, furry, and zip up the front. I have hiking boots, which are for days when inner furriness is not required, but it's not shorts weather either. I'm telling you, you need different boots for different situations.

The girls have fallen in love with boots too. This is the pair that Kylie wore to school today.

I hope their future husbands don't mind that they will take a backseat to the boots.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Free Day At The Zoo

Today Kylie and I went to the Denver Zoo. Every year, they have a list of days on their website when admission is free. This year, they have two days in January, two in February, two in October and two in November. Do they figure it will be cold enough on those days that they won't be overrun by 8 billion people?

It's a good theory, but today was mostly sunny and in the upper 40s, so downright balmy for January. Needless to say, it was pretty crowded. But, since it was just Kylie and me and I didn't have any other kids/people to keep track of, I didn't mind the crowds.

One of the exhibits is called the Lorikeet adventure. It's an open-air exhibit and there are all these beautiful, colorful birds.

For $1, you buy a small cup of nectar and you can feed the birds. Most people just hold the cup up to the birds and let them drink, but I'm pretty good at getting the birds to walk onto my hand. You have to hold the cup just far enough away from them so that they have to step onto your finger to reach it.

I was trying to help Kylie, but every time a bird would go to use its beak to pull itself onto her hand, she'd yank away, thinking she was going to get bitten. So I finally got the idea to get one on my hand, then take my cup away and point it toward her cup. Yay, it worked.

The whole idea of going to the zoo on the free admission day was to not spend any money, right? I told the child to bring a sweatshirt, but did she? No. Notice the sweatshirt she is wearing that says "Denver Zoo, 1836." At least it was on the clearance rack, but it was still $20.

I had also planned on bringing a picnic for lunch, but then I remembered that if I brought stuff with us, I was going to have to carry it around all day. I don't care for that. So I ended up buying lunch too. Even with free admission, it still cost me almost $40. Sigh.

So, here's what I learned today:

1. If you're going to go to the zoo on free admission day, get there before they open at 10am so you can get a parking space. If you get there at say, 11:30am? You're going to be walking a few miles before you even get to the zoo entrance.

2. I miss having a stroller sometimes. You don't realize how much crap you used to carry around in the bottom of one of those things until you don't have one (or have a friend with you that has one.)

3. A 3' 9" tall child who only weighs 38 lbs is always going to be cold. Force her to bring sweatshirt/jacket.

4. The Denver Zoo, and every other zoo I've ever been to, has way too many effing birds. There's Bird World (which I refuse to go into, because it's hot and humid and, yuck), and also it seems every corner you turn, more birds. Enough with birds already.

5. Sometimes indoor exhibits are great, because you can see the animals whether they are inside or outside. An example of an indoor exhibit that is not great? Elephants and rhinos. And giraffes. The smell will make you gag.

And finally:
6. Denver Broncos attire is never out of season, or out of fashion.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Have you heard about Manic Mommy's third annual Virtual Blood Drive?

For the third year, Stephanie Elliot, aka Manic Mommy, is asking her readers to donate a pint of blood.

When you give your pint of blood, have your picture taken in the chair and email it to her. Every Sunday, she posts the pictures of the blood donors on her site. When it's over, everyone who has donated is entered into a drawing for some really cool prizes. Last year I believe there were a lot of gift cards given to winners, and the grand prize was a trip to a resort in Florida. I believe that most or all of the prizes are donated.

This year, the big prize is a round trip ticket on Southwest Airlines. There will also be other smaller prizes.

So, head on over to Manic's blog and read about the blood drive. Unfortunately, I am unable to donate, because I am severely anemic. And please don't tell me to take iron supplements or eat red meat. I DO. I am trying, with my doctor, to get the problem under control. And she has determined that yes, it IS an iron deficiency, and I asked my doctor if I could give blood, and she said no. Actually, she said hell no.

Since I can't donate, I thought the next best thing I could do was to make anyone who reads my blog aware of the blood drive. So please, click on over to Manic's blog and check it out!

Also, if you happen to have an "in" with Ellen DeGeneres, I'm sure Steph would love to hear from you. You'll have to head over there to find out what I mean. :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Colorado Sports

Kylie took a ski lesson, then she was on her own. She did really well for her first time!

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Deal With The Devil

Swiped from my friend Brenda from her Facebook page, I think this speaks for itself.

The Red Cross

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What Day Is It?

I have a problem. It's the effing 14th of January, and I don't have a calendar.

I need a calendar to function. I buy one of those big desk blotter calendars from Staples and hang it on my wall, next to the computer. I need the big squares so I can write stuff.

If you know me, you know that I am a list maker. A calendar user. I write stuff down, because if I don't, I'll forget. If some child asks me why they didn't get the ______ that they asked me to get at the grocery store, my reply will most likely be, "It wasn't on the list!"

Right now, the space where my calendar goes looks like this:

December has been ripped away, and there is cardboard underneath. I know you're probably wondering why I don't just go to the store and get a new one. Good question. Staples isn't that close, and I NEED one of those big calendars. I'll get there eventually, and I'm hoping by the time I do, they'll be like 90% off.

In the meantime, I used my mad Photoshop skillz to depict what my new calendar would look like...if I had one. Yes, I know it looks like my first-grader did it. Shut up.

Happy January 14th! (I'm pretending it's New Year's, so I don't feel like I'm so late)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Today is my middle daughter's 15th birthday. Happy birthday, Shannon! Born Friday, January 13th, 1995. Yep, Friday the 13th. I've always thought that explained a lot about her.

This is Shannon with her best friend, Syd. Yes, she has a best friend in Colorado. In fact, she has lots of friends in Colorado. As the months go by, I'm hearing, "I want to go back to Arizona!" less and less. There are moments still though...when she's mad at me.

Adolescence is hell, people. I've done this twice now, and in a few years, I get to do it again. Oh joy. Don't kid suitcase is already packed.

Ages 12 (or even sometimes 11) through 14 are not pretty. Do you remember when you were that age? And you hated your parents and everything sucked? I think it's even harder from this end. Because even though you totally don't understand what they're going through, in reality (which is not in their head, but yours) you do. Because I remember being a teenager, but I'm pretty sure she doesn't remember being 40 and dealing with a teenage daughter.

But let's go back in time a bit, shall we?

Ok, honestly? I should have known there was going to be trouble, when I caught her doing this before she even turned two. It was hilarious though, judging by the fact that I took pictures.

This is the Christmas right before she turned three, I think. You all, if you have little kids? Write the dates on your photos. Because sometimes I just can't remember, and I wish I could. I know this was the Christmas that Steve's mom had to get all three of her granddaughters (Danni, Shannon and their cousin Skylar) a Tickle Me Elmo. Although it might be the Christmas right before she turned two. Honestly, I can't tell.

This is Shannon at age four or five. She used to have the most beautiful light brown hair, with wavy, curly locks. Sometimes I could kill her for ever coloring it, and wanting it pin straight. I used to love my little girl's hair.

Halloween, age 5. My mother made a Super Girl costume for her. She was the sweetest kid. Out of the three? The easiest baby and the most laid-back child. I will now tell people these are warning signs.

Christmas 2002, right before Shannon turned eight.

Honestly, I had some trouble finding pictures of Shannon that didn't have either one or both of her sisters in them. We have a lot of pictures of Danni, the oldest. And since there was an almost eight year break between Shannon and Kylie, we have a lot of pictures of Kylie. Shannon? Not so much. Middle kids are the Rodney Dangerfield of the family. No respect.

Do you notice how I'm letting my almost 8 year-old take a 3 month-old baby on the merry-go-round? That's stellar parenting, right there. In my defense though, I'm pretty sure that the reason Danni is standing next to them is because she has a hand on Kylie too.

This is the time she auditioned for Baywatch. The producers were all, "Um, you have to have boobs to be on Baywatch." And I said, "Hey, she's only eight years old!" And they said, "Yeah, what's your point?"

Really, a family vacation to San Diego and L.A. This could be either Mission Beach in San Diego, or Huntington Beach in L.A. Again, I'm not sure, because I don't write on my pictures.

As I mentioned before, the last few years have been, umm....challenging. Moving right before she started high school was not helpful. The first semester here was rough. She makes friends easily though, and now we've switched up her school schedule a bit, and I have to say, at 15, I'm finally starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel of hormonal hell.

Two years ago, I was bemoaning my baby becoming a teenager. In fact, there's a really cute picture of her sleeping on the last day she was 12. Reading that entry, we were already having problems with her.

Two years later, things are different. She still has her moments, but now we have more good times than bad ones. She's a really good kid, for the most part. In fact, on New Year's Eve, she was spending the night at a friend's house. She called me at 1am to pick her up because some of the kids were drinking, and she didn't want any part of it. I was pretty proud of her for that.

This past semester, her grades kind of sucked. Ok, they really sucked. I've chalked it up to the move, and the complete inability of a 14 year-old to have any long term perspective. She just doesn't really seem to care about grades. So this semester, instead of yelling and screaming (from both of us), I'm using a reward instead. A financial reward. We'll see how that works out.

I always get sad on my kids' birthdays, because I hate that they are growing up. On the other hand, I am proud of the women they are becoming. Does that make sense? It's been a long road with her, this adolescence thing, but I think, I really do, that we're finally coming out of it.

Back when she was about seven or eight, I remember absolutely forbidding her to get any older. She never does listen to me.

Happy birthday, Baby. I love you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Terrorists Are Winning At My House

Today's picture was swiped from Passive Aggressive Notes. If you don't know of the site, please go's hilarious. Hey, go look right now if you want to...I can wait.

Hi, back? I borrowed this picture from that website the other day, just because I thought it was so dang funny.

I giggled long and hard over that note. Sometime later, I said to my husband,

"Did you see that picture of the toilet paper note on the desktop?"

He replied,

"Yeah, I saw it...but I don't get it."

Me, momentarily stunned.

Then I cackled,

"That's because you never change the toilet paper roll!", proud of my deductive reasoning skills.

He said,

"Ok, but I still don't get it. What do toilet paper rolls have to do with terrorists?"

No, I'm not kidding.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Creative One

Yesterday, I talked about how I am missing the creative gene.

You know who's not missing it? Shannon.

She already knows what she wants to be when she grows up. She wants to be a professional photographer. She took beginning photography last semester (first semester of freshman year), and now she's in intermediate photography. She's also taking a drawing class.

Next comes advanced photography, next year...which somehow involves having your own digital camera with manual controls. A Sony Cybershot point and shoot will not work in this situation. Send money please!

Right now they are using film cameras. As in, cameras that still use film. Did you know those even still existed? Well, they do. In pawn shops. Which is where we got her a pretty nice Nikon. I don't know what we're going to do about next year. Hopefully things will be looking up, financially speaking, by then.

Once again, I can't stay on topic. Today's picture is a photo of a mug that Shannon painted at a place called My Art Workshop. They have ceramic stuff you can paint, wooden stuff you can paint, mosaic stones, sand art, and other cool stuff. I found out about it when Kylie went there for a birthday party.

Shannon took this plain white ceramic mug, painted it gold, and free-handed a cherry blossom tree all over it. I was kind of amazed, and so were the people that worked there.

Do you think that left-handed people are just naturally more creative? That whole, right brain, left brain thing? All I know is that she spent a good 90 minutes on this, and if the store wasn't closing, I'm sure it would have been longer. Color me jealous. I'd be lucky just to be able to paint the thing a solid color.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Crafts? Just Kill Me Now

Hello, all you crafty, scrapbooking, homemade-Christmas-ornament-making, knitting, sewing people! Welcome. I am not one of you. I don't do crafts. Or, better stated, I can't do crafts. I am craftically challenged. Creatively challenged. I couldn't craft my way out of a paper bag. You get the idea. Also, I do not like messes. Art projects make messes. It's a known fact.

So of course, my daughter brings home this book from school. It's called, "Arty Facts: Insects, Bugs & Art Activities." Greeeaattttt.

All weekend, she has been bugging me to do the above project, which involves making some dough, forming it into spirals, baking it, and then painting/gluing/glittering your spiral. Ok, not that hard. For most people. I've been putting her off all weekend. Yesterday, she went out to play and spent the whole day down the street. Lucky for me. But last night, I pinky-promised her that I would make the dough today. And every one knows you can't go back on a pinky-promise.

So this morning, I got out the book. The book said I would need a bowl, a wooden spoon, flour, water and cooking oil to make the dough. Ok.

Let me read you the exact instructions from the book on making the dough.

"In a bowl, mix flour, water, and cooking oil into a dough. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky. Knead the dough, cover it, and put it in the fridge for half an hour."

That's it. Apparently, I'm supposed to guess on the measurements? Let's see... 8 cups of flour, 2 cups of water, 5 tablespoons of oil? Umm....2 cups flour, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup oil? We could be here all week. You see my predicament. Because as if this isn't hard enough for me, they leave out the farking measurements?

So I consulted with my best friend Google, trying to find a recipe for a playdough that you can bake. I discovered that every single playdough recipe on the internet contains salt. Why doesn't it say salt in the book? Because they are trying to make my head explode.

The simplest one I could find said 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup salt, and 3/4 cups warm water. After tweaking the amount of flour and water for awhile, I came up with something that wasn't sticky.

See the TV over there? The Ravens are winning like 24-0. Oh Patriots, we barely knew ye. Besides, the real game comes on at 2:30pm. Go Cardinals!!

See why I can't do crafts? I'm distracted by football.

Now the kid is kneading and playing with a lump of dough that I hope will keep her busy for a while. And I'm looking up the authors to this book so I can put out a hit on them.

Plus, you know when the dog is doing this? It means there's going to be a mess. Like flour all over the floor. I hate flour on the floor.

So as I'm typing this, Kylie shouts, "Hey mom, come look at this!" I go into the kitchen to see that she has flattened out the entire ball of dough into what looks like a dinosaur head. Which honestly? Is the biggest insect I've ever seen. She has her watercolors out, and she's painting the raw dough.

"Sweetie, you're supposed to bake the dough before you paint it."

"Oh. Oops."

She keeps painting.

Right now in my oven is a green, dinosaur-head shaped piece of dough. Kylie just informed her dad that he wasn't allowed to eat what was in the oven. Because I'm sure he would have been tempted had she not said that.

I think I need a drink.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Path To School

This is a sidewalk that leads out of our cul-de-sac and through that wooden gate. This is the path that Kylie and her little buddies use to walk to school every morning. Well, almost every morning. I've driven her around to the front of the school a couple of times, when it was snowing and very cold.

This is the first time I've ever not had to drive a child to school. When the older two were in elementary school, they went to a charter school. So there were no buses. It was nice, because back then we moved around the city a lot, it seems. Even though we moved, they never had to change schools. It just changed the distance I had to drive them.

Through that gate and to the right, is the elementary school where they have K-3. The 4th, 5th and 6th graders go to a different school, about a mile away. I love having the school so close to us.

I love this picture. I love the contrast of the white snow against the bright blue sky. When I look at this picture, with no one on the path, the solitude of it reminds me of The Road Not Taken. Even though this "road" is very well traveled by the neighborhood kids and their moms. Even though it's not a picture of two roads diverging. At the moment, in the quiet morning, it does seem to be "the one less traveled by."

Friday, January 8, 2010

Remember The Photographer?

The lady did indeed come through with our pictures. And since I know you have all been sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear what happened (ha!), I thought I'd show you a portrait of each daughter.

There were a lot more pictures, some family ones, some candid ones, and they all turned out very nicely. But I'm just showing three, because I don't want to bore you with 3450345809 pictures of my kids. You're welcome.

The oldest. I think this makes a great senior picture, don't you? Even if she does live in Arizona, and the background is snow. It's different. It's original. No cactus. I like it. I like it because it's not a backdrop in a studio. It's an actual tree, in my actual backyard.

The middle one, with the beagle. The photographer made this really weird, high pitched whistling noise to get the dog to perk up and look at her. A noise I couldn't even begin to replicate. But it worked. I know you're wondering why the child has flats that look like summer shoes on her feet. What can I say? She's the middle child, the only lefty, and she's a bit...different. And if she wants freezing feet, hey...that's her business.

My baby. That hair. Those eyes. Every single day of her life I make her promise that she's still going to love me when she's 13. One of these days I'm going to put it on video. Then when she's 13 and being snotty to me, I'll play back the video. Then she'll roll her eyes and go, "MOM! Omg, I can't believe you kept that! You are so lame!"

Sigh. I am not looking forward to that day.

Anyway, I love these pictures. I think the photographer did a nice job.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sherlock Holmes

Welcome to day 7 of project 365. One week. Are you proud of me? I am. I didn't even think I'd make it this far. The question now becomes, not will I make it to 365, but how far will I go before I get bored and say screw it? Which is what I do with most new projects. But I digress.

On to today's topic, which is my undying love for Robert Downey, Jr. In fact, I just professed my love in the comments on Bossy's blog, because I clicked over there and she just happened to have written about one of my favorite celebrity boyfriends actors, RDJ. Do you read Bossy? If not, why not? She's awesome.

I should hire someone to keep me on topic.

Hiring someone would require money, know, I'm unemployed.

Are you annoyed yet?

Today's picture is a screenshot of Sherlock Holmes, which the hubby and I just got back from watching. Not a bad picture for a cellphone in a movie theater, right? At our certain theater, if you see the first show, it's only $6. So for two of us, $12. And if you can manage to resist the popcorn and nachos, which we did, it's still only $12, which is why we thought we deserved a break, and went to a movie. Actually, I thought we deserved a break. He thought he should stay home glued to the computer, filling out applications online. I told him he could take a morning off, it was ok.

Hello, on-topic person? You're about to be fired.

We went and saw Sherlock Holmes today. It was a fun movie. RDJ does a great Britsh accent. For further proof, go rent Chaplin. I mean it. It's his best movie. Get thee to Blockbuster. Also, go see Sherlock Holmes. It was good. And I don't say that about very many movies. And the fact that I would go see anything RDJ was in doesn't have anything to do with it. However, me seeing Ironman II this summer may have something to do with him. Him being in the movie.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's The Most Wonderful Time...

Remember that I said I was going to try and look around me for the beautiful and positive things in life? What could be more beautiful than the backs of Kylie (left) and her friend Zoe as they head off for their first day of school after winter break? Bye kids! Bundle up, it's cold!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Flat Stanley Project

Over Christmas break, Kylie and I participated in The Flat Stanley Project.

Do you remember the book Flat Stanley? It's about a boy whose bulletin board fell on him during the night, and flattened him like a pancake. He discovered he could visit his friends by mailing himself in an envelope.

I had never heard of the Flat Stanley Project. My friend Pam in Florida emailed me and said that her son Braden, who is in second grade, was doing a Flat Stanley project for his class, and she asked if she could mail him to us. I said it sounded like fun.

Basically, we got to take Flat Stanley along with us on our adventures during Christmas and take pictures. Today we will fill out his travelogue, which includes the date he arrived at our house, our location, the weather, and a brief list of his adventures with us. I thought I'd share what we did with Flat Stanley while he was here.

The day he arrived, he wanted to go out and stand in the snow. Then he decided his feet were cold.

Here he is with Kylie next to our Christmas tree (which is going to get taken down this weekend, I SWEAR, even if I have to chuck it out the window).

Since Kylie had never read Flat Stanley and didn't know the story, we went to the library, found the book, and read it together.

Flat Stanley went with us to Denver Zoo Lights. The problem was though, if I used a flash, you couldn't see the lights...and if I didn't use a flash, you couldn't see Stanley. I opted for seeing the lights.

The day we went to the lake on walked on the ice? Flat Stanley went with us. He walked on the ice too.

He especially liked tubing in the snow.

Hopefully, Flat Stanley will be mailed back to Tampa today. When he gets there, Braden will take him back to school and mark our location on a map. He also gets to write a story about Flat Stanley's adventures in Colorado. I printed out all the above pictures and will be mailing them back with Stanley.

I think this is a really neat reading project for lower elementary kids. Have any of your kids every done this?

Monday, January 4, 2010

An Early Morning Visitor

One of the things I love about living here is the amount of wildlife in our neighborhood. We have lots of cottontail rabbits and squirrels, and also a lot of deer. I've been told that elk stroll through occasionally too, but I've never seen one.

This little lady stopped by my backyard for a snack this morning. She didn't seem to mind me standing on the patio, snapping her picture. She was much more interested in my pine tree. I imagine it gets difficult for them to find food this time of year. I locked the dogs inside the house so she could stay as long as she wanted.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The "Professional" Photographer

I've decided that on occasion, I may cheat and use a picture that I already have for my picture of the day. Then I decided this totally counts and is not cheating. Hey, my project, my rules.

My entire family was here for Christmas. This means my parents, my oldest daughter, my brother, his wife, and their daughter Makenzie who is four, plus the husband, the two children that still live with us, and me. Total of 10 people in my house for a week. Actually, my parents and daughter arrived on Dec. 21st, and my brother and his family on the 23rd. They all left on the 30th. I was very happy to have them here. I was also happy when they left. That's a lot of people to have in your house.

We did a lot of fun things while they were here. Two days after Christmas, we took a family ski trip to Echo Mountain. When I say a family trip, I mean all four kids and my brother and sister-in-law went skiing and I took pictures. My husband, who has had a knee replacement, is not an eligible skier. Neither is my mother, who is 73. My father stayed at the keep the dogs company, I suppose.

We also took Kylie and Makenzie to a place called Jump Street, which is a whole place full of trampolines and bouncy things. We went sledding at Sledding Hill Park. We went to Denver's Zoo Lights. And when my sister-in-law, who will hereafter be referred to as "Susan", because that's her name, discovered we had a Chipotle at the bottom of the hill? Lunch was in order. A few times.

We also wanted to get a family portrait taken. And when I say "we", I mean Susan. Don't get me wrong, I like her a lot. We have fun, she likes to drink, 'nuff said. But I wasn't so much up for a family portrait, but it's just one of those things you do.

About a week before their arrival, Susan called me and asked if I would mind if she hired a photographer to come to my house and do pictures, instead of all of us going to Sears. That way, the kids could change clothes, take pictures with the dogs, or out in the snow, or whatever. I said sure, whatever you want to do is fine.

So on Christmas Eve day, a professional photographer came to our house, who was basically a nice lady with a nice camera. The deal was, Susan paid her for an hour of her time. I don't know how much and I didn't ask. She took a big group shot, my kids, Susan's kid, our family, my brother's family, my kids with dogs, playing in the snow, etc. What was supposed to happen is that this woman would go home, Photoshop the pictures, adjust light, blah blah, and send us CDs. That way we could use Shutterfly or Target to make our own prints. Sounded good to me.

So she came, and took pictures. When she had the kids set up, Susan and my mom were also snapping pictures with their cameras behind her. This whole story led up to the picture I wanted to show you today, which was one of my three girls:

This picture was taken either by my mom or Susan, I'm not sure which. But I know it wasn't taken by the professional lady. You know how I know that? Because we don't have these mysterious CDs yet. We had these pictures done on the 24th, which was a Thursday. She was going to "work on them over the weekend", and mail the CDs to my house on Monday. Since she lives here where I live, we were expecting to get them on Tuesday. No dice. Wednesday? Nope. That's the day everyone left, and we agreed that when they came, I would just mail them to everyone. Thursday? Nope. Friday was New Year's Day, so no mail. Yesterday, I didn't check the mail, so there is always the possibility that they are sitting in my mailbox, frozen.

There's also the possibility that this whole thing was a scam. Pay her for an hour to take pictures, and then she disappears with the money and a digital camera full of pictures that we won't ever see. I'm really hoping that's not the case, as the lady seemed very nice, and I wouldn't want Susan to have been cheated out of however much money she paid this woman.

Steve's going to the store, I think I'll have him stop at the mailbox. More later on the saga of "The Professional Photographer"...

ETA: Ok, so the CDs were sitting in my mailbox from yesterday. Surprisingly, not frozen. Dear Roberta from ****** *********** Photography...I apologize profusely. Some of the pictures turned out really great. Especially some of Danni that she took next to a tree in my backyard, with a snow background. THAT looks like a senior picture to me, so the company in AZ who wants $500 to do a senior picture package? Can suck it.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A New Experience

Today I did something I've never done before. I walked on water.

Ok, it was frozen water, but water nonetheless.

I've never walked on a frozen lake before, and I was slightly quite apprehensive. However, there were two other ladies there, with a boy and a dog. One of the ladies was trying to explain to the boy how she knew the ice was safe to walk on. She kicked some snow out of the way until you could see the ice. The ice was white, not clear, and very hard.

Still, I waited for them to walk out onto it before I let Kylie venture out.

This is Kylie standing on Johnson Lake in Clement Park. If you remember back to 1999 and the Columbine shootings, you saw tons of TV trucks and a memorial tent for each student that was killed in a park near the school. That was Clement Park. One day when it's warmer and the flowers are blooming again, I'll make the Columbine Memorial at Clement Park my picture of the day. It's really quite moving.

Anyhoo, the geese are walking rather than swimming these days. And I was indeed on the ice, albeit a bit closer to the shore than Kylie. You see, she only weighs 38 lbs. And I weigh...more than 38 lbs. So I figured she was safer out there than I was. It was strange, walking in the same spot that Kylie and her dad had cast out their fishing lines on Father's Day. I like having four seasons.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Decade

A couple of you may have noticed that I've stopped posting regularly. There are a lot of reasons for that, but I think the main one is that on Oct. 22nd, my husband was laid off from his job. You know, the one for which we packed up and moved to Colorado. He was working for a non-profit, and like so many other things we can blame on the economy, their funding was pulled. There were 13 people working in his office, and I believe nine of them were let go.

Since then, I just haven't really had the motivation to write anything. There's been a small post here and there, but other than that, bupkus. I think I like to try and be funny most of the time, and honestly? Not much around here has been funny recently. We're now living on two unemployment paychecks, mine and his, and a part time pizza delivery job. Don't get me wrong, we're luckier than most. Colorado's unemployment payments are, thankfully, much larger than Arizona's. We had a nice Christmas and my whole family was here. We've had to cut back, but the house payment is being made, most of the rest of the bills are being paid, and no one is going hungry. I'm well aware that it could be much worse.

I've been trying to think of ways to get myself back into writing. I thought about trying to do a project 365, but I seriously doubt that I'd take a picture and post every single day. It's a nice idea, but I just can't see it. I could try. It'd probably last four days. Or two.

The title of this post is "A New Decade." Not only a new year, but a new span of 10 years. They're going fast. It's hard to believe that by the time this new decade is over, I'll be in my 50's, and getting ready for my youngest to graduate from high school. She's in first grade now. If I've done the math right, she'll be in the class of 2021. That seems far away now, but I'm going to blink my eyes and I'll be buying her cap and gown.

Life is too short to be depressed and anxious all the time. Yes, I've gone to a doctor, and gotten some meds. Actually, I did that about three weeks before the husband was laid off, because the anxiety I've lived with all my life had reached an unbearable level. Because I'd been on Lexapro for three weeks before he lost his job, I didn't completely freak out. But something is happening now, because I'm starting to feel more like I did before I started on the meds. Not completely, but ... well, maybe it was just the holidays and all.

In any case, I'm going to try carrying my camera around with me, and seeing what happens. I doubt I'll post every day, but I'm going to try and look for the good, the positive, and the beautiful things around me. I'm thinking that might help my mood.

When my sister-in-law, brother and niece left on Wednesday, they left me a nice card and $50, to help with "the toiletries they used." Which was unnecessary, but really nice of her. Let me mention here that they do not know, and neither do my parents, that my husband is out of work. I didn't tell my parents because my dad has my lifelong anxiety issues times ten, and I don't want him worrying about us. And he won't take meds because, you know, he doesn't have a problem.

Anyway, we took the $50 and went to Target today. We picked up some necessities, then we hit the 75% off Christmas clearance stuff.

Kylie found this, and she had to have it:

Did we need it? Nope. But it's cute and festive, and I'll forget all about it when I pack it away with the other Christmas stuff. Next year when I get out the Christmas stuff, I'll be pleasantly surprised by some new, cute little ornaments, a new ribbon for my wreath, and this little wire tree with glitter and bells. I know it's symbolic in some way, I'm just not quite sure how. I look at it, and I see hope. Peace. And the joy of the child that picked it out.

Ok, me out here. I need a hand up, and I know you've got it in you.