Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Guest Post: Letters For You at Tonya's

My friend, Tonya, at Letters for Lucas has this awesome weekly meme called Letters for You that she invited me to participate in today. I am so honored. I hope you stop by to check out my letter to my mom here, and stick around her place a bit to find out more about what an amazing woman, wife and mother she is. I know you'll be glad you did!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

I Love You Just the Way You Are

For those of you who keep up with my blog, you know that this year has been pretty craptastic. I was laid off, had a miscarriage, found out that DH will be laid off soon as well, and my mom's short-term memory loss and dementia have expanded to include paranoia. Not to mention that my parents won't be able to watch the girls part-time anymore once I do find a job, so our daycare costs will double, and even though I followed all the rules, it took a month to get my first unemployment check. Oh, and we just found out that we're only getting half as much back on our taxes as we thought, partially due to the fact that the accountant from my old job (who I've done an AMAZING job of refraining from slamming on the web, if I do say so myself) screwed up my withholdings. And did I mention that she also wrote down on the paperwork that cancelled my insurance that I was laid off in January of 2011 instead of 2012? That's been lots of fun to work out, too.

With each new blow, it truly felt as though I was being kicked when I was down. I've done a pretty good job of staying optimistic, but the last week or so it's been more difficult. So when Elena asked me to participate in the 6 month anniversary of Things I Like About Me, I was tempted to beg off and leave her with the aforementioned reasons. But honestly, Just. Be. Enough is much more important than my little (temporarily) pitiful part of the universe. And what could be more of a morale boost than making myself take the time to focus on the positive by developing another list of things I like about me? So here goes...

  1. I have a much more solid faith than I thought I did. I truly don't know how I could have gotten through the last two months without knowing that God always has my back.
  2. I'm made of much stronger stuff than I thought I was. I'm a wimp when it comes to needles and blood and a bit melodramatic at times. But after two C-sections and this years' events, I'm still standing tall. Perhaps even resplendent.
  3. I have a deep drive to be and do better - at everything I attempt. Maybe it's the strong work-ethic my parents instilled in me. Maybe it's being a mom. I just know that I've been fumbling a bit trying to find my niche as a stay-at-home-mom, and I realized it's because I know it's temporary. I so desperately want to take advantage of the minutes I have left with my girls, but I also want to fulfill my role as full-time housewife as well, and I need to focus on job searching and trying to make a few bucks on the side where I can. I've spread myself too thin, and I'm frustrated. But the source of the frustration is a positive character trait - the desire to do well. I just need to do less multitasking. (A popular trend that seems simple enough, but as many will attest to is easier said than done.)
This list is shorter than the one I wrote last summer, but for this time in my life, it means just as much. I'm blessed beyond measure with an incredible husband who has been my rock through this tough time, incredible family and friends who have brought me to tears with their kindness and generosity, and an online community whose virtual hugs have sustained me more than I would have thought possible.

To be part of a project like this, to be able to go through all I've been through, and still have our four-year-old tell me this at bedtime tonight: "Mama? I love you just the way you are." That, my friends, IS enough.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


The object of the rescue mission

S has been studying dinosaurs at preschool the last couple of weeks. Today they did an archeological dig, and the teacher told the kids that some new species had been discovered; species with names like "Robbie-asaurus" and "Molly-asaurus." Each kid got a headband with their new dinosaur name on it, and they sponge-stamped footprints around it and put a dino in the center. S was really excited about it, and incredibly proud - as she should have been - they are very cute!

We left school and stopped by the post office. After parking, I hit the auto-sliding, back door buttons, and walked around to Baby R's side of the van to unbuckle her. With doors on opposite sides of the vehicle open, the wind swept through the interior and carried the beloved dinosaur headband out.

S screamed.

Using my best Supermom voiceover in my head - "Never fear, little girl! I'll rescue your dino-band!" - I sped around to her side of the car.

It's a blustery, pseudo-spring day on the prairie. Meaning I had to race full-speed ahead across the post office lawn before the paper band blew over to the highway. My feet tried to run while gripping my slip-on Michael Kors flats, but it wasn't happening. I finally let them fly off and charged after the tumbling headband.

I laughed at myself; some Supermom! The image those driving by must have seen.

And then I felt my socks getting wet. It rained earlier this week and the ground was still soggy. This was less amusing. I finally caught up to the "S-osaurus" and ran back to the van, scooping up my shoes on the way. I stopped on the sidewalk to put them back on; thankfully just the balls of my feet were a little damp.

Rescue mission complete! All in the name of Truth, Justice and the American Way. Or in Supermom terms, Health, Joy and Tantrum-Avoidance. Tune in next time to find out how our hero arms herself with a plunger to rescue a toilet that's been clogged with TP by her toddler. The excitement never ends!

Monday, February 20, 2012

But Soft! What Light Through Yonder Window Breaks?

It is... my ankle? Well, ok I didn't break it, just sprained it. The right one; the ol' "football" injury.

I had tickets to the ballet today ("Romeo and Juliet" - in case you missed my turn of phrase above), so I got gussied up for church, so I could just drop everyone off at home and head out from there.

As I was walking Baby R back into the house, my boot caught in the driveway and rolled my ankle. Tears, muffled swearing, a change of shoes, and a makeshift ice pack later, I left the house.

I had invited my mom to church to get her out into more social situations (an update there is overdue), and then went across town to lunch at the house of one of the girls I attend the shows with. I had to stop for gas, so I waited til I was across state line since it's cheaper. When I got out of the car, I accidentally locked my keys in. No, no, no!

DH had been super sweet and started my car for me this morning since I was running late. With his key. Which is the spare key. I was going to have to call a locksmith. Again. As if we have $100. to throw around!

I knew DH would be super pissed at me. I called him and then went to find a phone book in the QT. I called my friend to let her know I'd be late (if I made it at all). Then DH called me back and told me to check the back door first. It's been sticking and not always locking or unlocking. I said a quick prayer - well more of a desperate plea; you know how those moments are. I tried the handle, and it worked! God bless broken things!

My friend had made a lovely lunch of homemade sweet potato corn chowder and grilled cheese (a fancy version, both of which were AWESOME), and then we headed downtown.

Not being familiar with how the highway linked up from her side of town, and since she hadn't been to the new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts yet, I called my dad for suggestions en route. This turned out to be a mistake that took us longer and through a less than desirable part of town. But we finally got there.

If you aren't seated when the show starts, you have to wait for intermission. We got to the parking garage five minutes before show time. Our seats are seventh floor balcony. We hustled as fast as I could with my weak ankle, and barely made it in time, our other friend entering right behind us (she had driven back from Wichita this morning).

The performance was lovely. The sets were gorgeous, the woman who portrayed Juliet was enchanting, and we had a lovely time.

As we left, we stopped on the third level down of the parking garage and said farewell to the friend who had met us there. Then we realized we had no idea which level we had parked on. We had been so worried about getting inside, neither of us had paid attention. I was pretty sure it was that level, so we walked about halfway across, and I hit the panic button on my key fob. The alarm went off. On a different level.

We quickly went upstairs to kevel two. Nope, that wasn't it. So we went back down. Once I had turned the alarm on, I couldn't seem to get within a range that would allow me to shut it off again. We were everyone's worst nightmare. Finally, we got all the way down to the fourth level and found my van.

Certainly a memorable trip. But I so love the ballet; it was definitely worth it!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Baby Bullets: 7th Edition

  • S drew her first self-portrait. I was a little taken aback by the lower portion of the drawing, so I asked her to tell me about it. "Those are my knees!" Ah! Of course, they are. What else would they be?

  • At S's best friend's bday party, there was a Happy Birthday banner that all the kids got to draw on and write their names. S finished and ran to me. "Mommy, I drew you! Come see! Come see!"  I was almost blushing with pride and thankfulness as her little hand grabbed mine and pulled me impatiently to the other side of the room.

    This drawing was very similar to her self-portrait, but instead of a head, it had a long, oval-shaped torso with eyes and a mouth at the top, followed by the legs and knees again. And something between those legs. "Mommy," S said excitedly, "I drew you going potty!" Then kind of conspiratorially, "You're pooping." Big smile.

  • S has also taken to calling me "Mother." Not in a sassy way, but it makes me sad. So grown up sounding! The funny side to it is that Baby R has to copy her, of course. So when she says it, it sounds like "Mudder" and "Fadder." Father sounds like a cross between Focker and Austin Power's Goldmember "Vazher." DH and I do a double take and giggle almost every time.
  • S asked me, "Mommy, why are your nipples so big, and why do they hang down so low?" Four is such a fun age!
  • Baby R has discovered that sometimes I miss a chin hair or two. She likes to rub them absent-mindedly while we snuggle. It is so disturbing.
  • Baby R is in full-on copy whatever big sister does mode. Like how S has to have separate bowls and spoons when she eats more than one kind of cereal for breakfast (which is most mornings). Now we go through four bowls and four spoons in one meal. Sigh.
  • S has started saying, "Aww, shuck!" No "s" on the end, so if you aren't paying attention, it can throw you off. The funny thing is that when Baby R mimics her, she says, "Chucks!"

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Unemployment Isn't for the Faint of Heart

This isn't a lovey post for Valentine's, so I included heart in the title to make it a bit more palatable. I mentioned I'd had trouble with my unemployment being rejected at the beginning. It turned out that my SSN was wrong for some reason (which is crazy to me since I double checked it, but whatever). So a week and a half ago, I called the KS Dept of Labor and got it fixed. But she had to unfile my original claim and file a new one, so I was a week behind on getting my benefits.

Last week I got a letter confirming my benefit amount - yea! So Sunday I logged on to file for the week, and it gave me this error:

Seriously? So I had to wait til Monday morning to call. When I did I explained the situation. The woman said she didn't know why I was getting that error but that she would file it for me. She said I needed to file for the week before last as well. I told her I had already done that over the phone, and she said there was no record of it. I asked if that meant that the distribution would not be available for another week. She said it would hit my account tomorrow, but that they would be mailing out the debit card for it and I should receive it in another 7-10 days.

Are you freaking kidding me?

I told her I knew it wasn't her fault and she probably hears this stuff all the time but this is now three weeks I've gone without getting payment, and it's getting a little stressful.

January/February is when we have a lot of extra bills due: the girls' health insurance, our life insurance, etc. We were waiting to get my unemployment check to sign me up for new health insurance, but I also need brakes on the van. And I have bills to pay from the OB from everything that went on in January plus a stray urgent care bill from last April that just showed up (???).

I realize it shouldn't be a simple process, but when you do everything you're supposed to do and it doesn't work, how do people living on a single income survive? We will be able to borrow from the girls' savings to tide us over, and it will work out, but I feel for those who don't have that option.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Baby R and the Terrible Twos

Baby R is in the throes of the tantrum phase. It seems like everything makes her whine/cry/scream. Instead of saying what she wants done, or done differently, she melts down immediately. It's incredibly irritating. Sometimes it's the standard hungry or tired reaction. But sometimes, it's partially my own fault. When they are playing, if I'm doing housework or in another room and don't realize a disagreement is happening, I don't respond until there's screaming. I'm trying to be better about that, and I've been pretty firm about not letting her get her way when she tantrums.

The one thing about it is that she is very quick to forgive. Once she settles down, she will cry, "Mama! I want you!" I'll say, "I want you, too, honey. Are you done?" Sometimes she's not, and I let her know she needs to finish before I will pick her up. But after the storm passes, she'll sniffle and say, "Yeah" in her adorable little girl voice. I hold out my arms, and she climbs into me. "I love you, Mama." Heart. Melting. "I love you, too, baby."

I'm ready for the tantrums to end, but the making up part is so lovely, I wouldn't mind if they last a little bit longer.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fun Houzz Stuff

I found out about a site today,, that has a lot of home improvement/decor ideas. As my For the Home board on Pinterest suggests, I'm pretty fond of such things. They have an idea book section, and the enticing thing about it is that they've partnered with several other big names like This Old House and realsimple so it's not like Lowe's where you only see their ideas. I could probably spend a week just in that section of the site!

There's also a product section with links to cool things like this Scrabble mug for my Words with Friends playas

and this library embosser for the bibliophiles in my life

Finally, if you are wanting to do more than just DIY projects, they have a significant list of professionals in various fields of expertise, from specific areas such as pools and spas, to general contractors. They are broken down into different regions - including KC! - and highlight companies. Excuse me as I leave here to drool and pin some more fun stuff!

Bright Bloom in a Gloomy Space

Today I met with the Regional Manager for Plum District. When I first heard about Plum District last summer, I couldn't wait for them to branch out to the midwest. It's a daily deal site like Groupon, but by moms for moms. I think it's going to be fantastic! The manager here is really enthusiastic and is excited about getting feedback from local moms to ensure the site works best for our area. Please "Like" the Facebook Page and if you have anything you want to see listed there, post it. I'm going to be adding a button to my site soon, too, so of course it would be lovely if you'd be willing to click on it to access their deals.

Monday, February 6, 2012


I've had a lot of feelings over the past month or so with all that's gone on, but even though there were times of sadness, it passed. Until this weekend. It wasn't a huge thing, but it felt like the final straw. It's a little complicated, but to summarize, I need to spend over a thousand dollars on software to continue my Etsy shop in the vein it's currently in. Clearly, this is not an option at this juncture. I feel like every attempt I make at carving a new path is met with monolithic roadblocks.

And now, I just can't seem to get out of this funk. I feel helpless and hopeless. It didn't help that the 5-10 minutes I heard on the news tonight was about a father and young sons murder-suicide, a teen slitting a youngster's throat and a kid killed by a neglectful bus driver. (All of which reinforced the validity of my decision to stop watching the news in the first place.)

I know things could be worse. I know I should be thankful for all I have, and I am. I looked at Facebook tonight and prayed for friends who are having biopsies, and those who have lost parents to cancer, and those who have kids with devastating diseases, and I think, "Suck it up!"

And to be honest, talking it through with a dear friend tonight and blogging about it has helped. I've asked God to close doors before, though not in this area, but maybe that's what's happening now. I know the one He opens will be fuller and richer than any He closes. So I'm going to go to bed, and pray for peace about life and not worry. I'm sure this, too, shall pass.

Friday, February 3, 2012

It's Been A Week, And I Have a Question for You

Today is the last day of my first week of unemployment. I registered online for my state benefits on Sunday night. I read through the directions, got all my information and entered it accurately. (By the way, they ask for you to have pay stubs from the last 18 months, and then you only enter information from the last 12 months. Um, hello, annoying? Why do that?) Anyway, it said I would receive a booklet with information within 5 days. Yesterday I got a letter from them that said:

No wages found, you do not qualify for benefits.

Interesting. I must have imagined the last 8 years of my life or grown money on a tree. So I need to call them today. Sigh.

My last post was about not having a schedule yet and not worrying about it. But now I'm needing to figure it out. I haven't been online much this week, partly due to not feeling well and partly due to just not seeming to find the time. I need to take a poll:

If you are a stay-at-home-mom, how do you find time to do your online work? 

Part of my problem is that I don't have a smart phone, so I can't do Twitter while monitoring the kids playing outside. Not that I want to be one of those moms who ignores their kids while they're playing, but to spend ten minutes on my phone doesn't seem unreasonable.

Also, I thought I'd be able to get stuff done during nap time, but so far this week, I'm 0-4.  The first couple of days since I was sick, I napped, too. Then there was a day when one of the girls wouldn't sleep, and one day I spent nap time on the phone with a Jaborandi Grove client and a friend who called who had just read my blog and found out about the craziness that's been my life this last month. Today my mom is here, so I ended up with a few minutes to myself, but that won't be the norm.

I end up getting online at night, but I feel like I've missed everything that happened during the day. Do you feel that way, too, or do I just need to get used to it?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Loan Options

With my newly unemployed status and DH's impending unemployed status, we are reviewing our mortgage options. Unfortunately, we refinanced last fall, so I don't think we're eligible anyway. But we do need to talk to the bank about possibly making some kind of adjustment. Thankfully we do have a bit of savings to get us through a few months, but it would be better if we could reduce it and extend that out a little longer.

While looking things over, we ran across some VA loan refinance rates. It doesn't apply to us as we aren't military, but it might help you or someone you know. To find out if you are eligible, you can click here. For market forecasts, mortgage rates and other real estate news in your area, the Housing Predictor is helpful. 

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