Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Guest Post: Great Expectations

When my friend Greta asked me to contribute a post to her blog, I was thrilled. She's the sweetest person (and my best customer at Jaborandi Grove!) please stop by and check out her site. You will love her!

Monday, May 28, 2012

I Grieve

Today is Memorial Day. Originally designated as a day to remember fallen soldiers, it has come to commemorate the loss of all loved ones. When I was young, I my parents would take us to visit my dad's mom's grave. She passed away before I was born. Over the years, we stopped going. Since I've been married, my husband lost both his paternal grandparents. He was very close to them, so I suggested we visit the cemetery, but DH is not comfortable with death, and prefers not to go. So for the past decade, this day has simply been a nice long weekend to kick off summer.

This year is different.

This year, I still won't be visiting the cemetery. But I will be having my own private time to reflect on losing our angel. Friends told me things would get better. They have. They also told me certain days would be rough. Like today. It is. But it will pass. Life will go on. And so I share these lyrics with you from Peter Gabriel:

"I Grieve"

It was only one hour ago
It was all so different then
There's nothing yet has really sunk in
Looks like it always did
This flesh and bone
It's just the way that you would tied in
Now there's no one home

I grieve for you
You leave me
So hard to move on
Still loving what's gone
They say life carries on
Carries on and on and on and on

The news that truly shocks is the empty, empty page
While the final rattle rocks its empty, empty cage
And I can't handle this

I grieve for you
You leave me
Let it out and move on
Missing what's gone
They say life carries on
They say life carries on and on and on

Life carries on
In the people I meet
In everyone that's out on the street
In all the dogs and cats
In the flies and rats
In the rot and the rust
In the ashes and the dust

Life carries on and on and on and on
Life carries on and on and on

It's just the car that we ride in
A home we reside in
The face that we hide in
The way we are tied in
And life carries on and on and on and on
Life carries on and on and on

Did I dream this belief?
Or did I believe this dream?
Now I can find relief
I grieve

Here's a link to him performing it - apologies for the Larry King intro - it's all I could find: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbItz_NAIEs

Friday, May 25, 2012


A co-worker and his wife suffered the awful experience of a miscarriage today. Our VP sent a discreet email asking everyone not to send flowers or cards as they just want to forget about it.

While that's understandable, anyone who has had a miscarriage knows that you can't just forget about it. You are reminded every moment of every day for the first week or so. Even after a few months when you think you have forgotten about it, something sparks a memory. Hearing a song that was playing when you felt the cramping start. Seeing a woman at the same stage of pregnancy that you would have been. Finding out a party has been planned on the day that was once supposed to be your due date.

Hearing of someone else having a miscarriage.

It brings tears to you eyes. For their loss, but also for your own. The pain does subside, and life does go on. But the memory remains. You can't escape it. All you can do is let yourself grieve.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Embarassing Moments with KLZ Redux

I don't know if it's the warm weather, or the knowledge that the holiday is coming up. Regardless,  I'm too lazy to write an original post today. So, thought I'd dust the cobwebs off this one since it's pretty entertaining. 

A couple of years ago, Kristin at Taming Insanity and I did a guest post swap where we shared our embarrassing moments. Here's what I had to say:

I’ve been considering a “Top 10 Most Embarrassing Moments” post for awhile now. Due to some insanity in our house during the month of November, I barely blogged at all and most of it was just ranting, so a fun piece like this had been pushed aside for the time being. Then KLZ asked about guest posting, and I thought, “Perfect! I can degrade myself on someone else’s blog!” To be fair, none of these are secret, so it’s really not that degrading. It’s just that now the whole world could potentially know about them instead of just those in the tri-state area. I’m withholding numero uno because even though it’s been over 15 years since it happened, just thinking about it turns my cheeks red with humiliation. I’m not quite to the laugh-about-it stage. Just a smile or a chuckle is all I can muster. Someday….

Since most of you don’t know me in person, a little background – I’m flaky. Like a Grands biscuit. I wish I wasn’t, but I am. I’m also clumsy. Surprising in a way since I play sports and danced for 20 years. When I would stub my toe on the door jamb, my dad would ask me in bewilderment, “How can you be a graceful ballerina and not be able to walk without getting injured?” Unfortunately, I come by it naturally. My mom is clumsy yet graceful/athletic, too. In addition to genetics, there’s also the fact that I’m just generally not a very lucky person. Case in point – my graduating class had around 500 students. There was a post-graduation party that almost everyone attended. They gave out 450 raffle prizes (better odds of winning than not). I did not get one.

Thankfully, I’ve always been able to roll with the punches (sometimes literally). Sometimes too easily. Spilling something in my house growing up was expected. It never even occurred to me that it should be something to get upset about. The first time I knocked over a glass of water at DH’s parents’ house, I thought he was going to go nuts. I usually apologize when I spill at someone else’s house, but it was just water. I just said, “Oops! Do you have some paper towels?” Unlike the time I spilled orange pop at my friend’s house in middle school. On their white carpet. Ugh. FYI, Bounty really does hold up to scrubbing like they say it does on the commercial.

I’d like to say exiting puberty and becoming a so-called adult has aided my physical prowess. I’d be lying. Two of the worst physical injuries I’ve sustained (requiring trips to the ER) happened after I was 25. About once a month I knock over the cup of water on my desk at work. That gives you a general sense of the kind of environment you’d experience in my presence. Fortunately, my witty (?) personality apparently outweighs my embarrassing moment-vortex, so I managed to get DH to marry me and my butterfingers. (And the friend who had the orange pop? She and I are still friends after 20-some years and 1500 miles between us. Although, now that I think about it, maybe the distance has helped maintain the friendship?)

So without further ado,

Heh heh. You'll have to check out the original post at KLZ's place to see the list!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pure Matters

As a featured Mamapedia blogger, from time to time I get great opportunities to receive product samples. Most recently, an opportunity presented itself with a company called Pure Matters. I received a package including the two items pictured above, the Complete Biotic and the Kids Sugar-Free Multi-vitamin Gummies. In addition to that, I also received two, serving-size samples of their Green Tea Extract, Rest Easy, and Kids DHA Omega-3 Gummies. I'm most excited about the green tea energy booster. Hoping to try it as a morning coffee or afternoon pop replacement.

There's been a lot of talk about the benefits of probiotics, and since I don't like yogurt, and I don't eat enough vegetables, I thought it would be good for me to try this supplement. And my kids like their Flintstones, but they are excited about trying the gummies.

I did a little research on the company before we started taking the products, and what I've found is positive which is encouraging. The letter that accompanied the samples suggested taking the Complete Biotic capsules on an empty stomach, but the bottle's recommendation is to take them with a meal. I emailed the contact listed on the letter for clarification, and she was quick to get back to me. She said they can be taken either way; it won't affect their effectiveness - she just prefers to take them without food. Personally, my experience with medications is that I tend to get nauseous if I have an empty stomach, so I was glad to hear that eating would be ok.

I'm excited to start using the Pure Matters products, and you know me - I'll be sharing my opinion of how well I think they work, too!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Baby Bullets: 9th Edition

  • Baby R's fave book right now is one with lullabies. She's learned most of the lyrics and likes to sing to me when I put her to bed. Her versions are adorably entertaining. "Brother JacquĆ©s" is one I particularly like.
  • S has started wanting to whisper secrets in my ear. So of course, Baby R has decided she needs to whisper in my ear like S telling. She mumbles or says a string of unrelated words in one ear, then the other. Then my chin or neck or other facial feature, depending on the day.
  • Baby R looked in the mirror while getting ready for bed. She had yogurt on her nose and cheek, and dirt all over her pink tank top, and messy hair. She picked up the hairbrush, looked in the mirror and said, "Mama, I'm so beautiful." Yes, you are, baby, and don't you ever forget it!
  • S told me she wants a space shuttle for Christmas (that we will launch from our driveway, and I will have to drive since she doesn't know how to yet). Never stop reaching for the stars, babe...
  • Baby R can jump well with both feet now.
  • I overheard S telling someone that she wasn't sure if it was supposed to rain or not; she didn't catch the weather the night before. When have you ever watched the weather, kiddo???

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Thank You, Mom

My mother has given me so much. And so today I want to thank her.

Thank you for teaching me how to laugh at myself.

Thank you for exemplifying a servant's heart.

Thank you for my blue eyes - even though Dad gave me the yellow ring in the middle so they look green. :)

Thank you for letting me cry on your shoulder without saying I told you so.

Thank you for putting up with my temper growing up.

Thank you for teaching me not to cry over split milk. We've sure had a lot of spills, haven't we?

Thank you for being an amazing parenting role model for me to (try to!) follow.

Thank you for being patient with me, especially when I didn't deserve it.

Thank you for my great legs. Yowza!

Most of all, thank you for instilling in me the knowledge that you will forever love me unconditionally.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Source: imdb.com via Jaborandi on Pinterest

If you follow me on Twitter, you may remember me mentioning a Nielsen movie screening I went to a couple of months ago. I said it was so terrible it wasn't even worth it being free to see it. Several tweeps asked for the details, but viewers were asked to keep things hush-hush for a bit as it was still in the final editing stages.

About a week ago, the first reviews started popping up, so I think it's safe to add my own two cents. (As a disclaimer, I wasn't paid to do a review, I just like to share my opinion, and I consider this a PSA.)

I realize that I'm not a member of the target demographic. That said, I have a pretty decent ability to see the humor in most comedies, even if I don't find them hilarious. For example, Dumb and Dumber. Not my cup of tea, but I see how it can be funny. Even raunchy stuff that goes beyond my comfort zone and really pushes the envelope, like The Hangover, I can appreciate. (Though I really, truly just don't get the appeal of the The Big Lebowski. But I digress...)

So when I found out the screening I got tickets to was for Adam Sandler's newest release, That's My Boy, I knew my reaction would be unpredictable. I like a lot of his more recent projects (Grown-Ups, Just Go With It) better than some of his older works (Billy Madison, Little Nicky). His stuff is hit-or-miss for me.

That's My Boy was a huge, gigantic miss.

The premise is a where-are-they-now follow up about a teenager who got his high school teacher pregnant. She went to jail for 30 years and the boy raised the baby until he turned 18 and left home, wanting nothing to do with his lame dad who sucked at parenting and can't get over his 15 minutes of fame from having knocked up his teacher.

Donny (Adam Sandler), the once-famous-teen, is now broke and owes thousands of dollars of back taxes. If doesn't pay them, he has to go to jail. He reaches out to all the old tabloids to run another story on him to get some cash, but no one's interested. Until they come up with the idea to reunite the son, Todd (Andy Samburg), and his mother at the prison and surprise them on camera. Adam crashes his son's wedding weekend to convince him to visit his mom by telling him his mom's dying. Embarrassed that he's there, Todd tells all of his fiancee's family and friends that Donny is an old friend of his. He had told his fiancee that his parents had died when he was young. 

Adam Sandler did a terrible job with a fake Boston (?) accent. Andy Samburg was pretty good in his role. The best parts were the cameos, music and 80's references. I think I only actually laughed five or six times. Most of it was just awkward and trying too hard. There's a scene about incest that was completely disgusting. The worst part was that instead of just showing a frame to make the point and moving on, the scene lasted five more minutes. It was unnecessary and uncomfortable.

And that doesn't even touch on a hugely offensive aspect of the movie, the fact that it sensationalizes statutory rape. That's addressed in this review: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/05/02/there-nothing-funny-about-rape-and-adam-sandler-new-movie-that-my-boy/

 To sum up, this gets a zero out of any number of stars. Don't waste your time or your money.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

New Job - Part 2

Tuesday after I left the office, I headed to the bar and grill. Traffic and construction were terrible, so I was a few minutes late. Having witnessed a girl at work that morning get defensive for arriving at 8:31am, I was anxious and apologized to M as he introduced me to S. He brushed it off as no big deal.

We had a discussion that was very similar to the first one I'd had with him a month prior, but this time with S's input.The two of them seemed like a good balance for each other and as though both would be excellent supervisors. I also let them know that I had already accepted another job, but I felt that their company would be a better fit if we could reach agreeable terms. M told me he would send me an offer the next day.

I went home, excited and nervous. What if the offer was way too low and I just couldn't accept it? How was I going to tell my current company I was leaving? What if I got to the new office and it turned out to be a huge mistake?

The next morning, I couldn't stop learning and trying at my job, so I had to fake it which felt so weird. At lunch I went home to check my email again. The offer was a little lower than the current job, but not unreasonable. I sent back a counter to see if they could meet in the middle. They sent a response back that was between their original offer and my counter. I took it.

In my position at the first company, I was directly below the COO. Clearly she had too much responsibility to spend all day with me, so I was training with someone else most of the time, and then would have daily wrap-up sessions with her and the COO.  I had typed up a resignation letter and waited for her to ask how things were going that day. I let her know I would be resigning. She and the girl who had been training me were shocked. They asked if there was anything they could do, and I told them I just thought at this point in my life with two young kids and elderly parents with health problems that the other position would be a better fit for me.

I left things on good terms with them. Maybe in 15 years when the girls are grown and gone, I could go back there. It's an excellent place to build a career. That's just not my focus right now. I think I made the right choice for me for now.

Hours at my new job are 8-5. My boss told me to just come in around 9 the first day. My cube was decorated with these welcoming signs of beer and barbecue and a pile of candy on a cute red stool.

It's a complete 180 degree difference in atmosphere and attitude. There's a full bar in the marketing department that they open at 4pm on Fridays. :)

There have been some changes in management here, and there's a big company meeting a couple of weeks, so there may be some adjustments, but overall, they have a flexible attitude with respect to family coming first and not worrying about punching a clock, but just getting your 40 hours in and your work done. Which is much more my speed. As long as that doesn't change, I can see myself being here awhile.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

New Job Story - Part 1

I've just started my third week at my new job, and it's going swimmingly. But first, let back up to how it all came about.

A couple of months ago, I interviewed with my now boss, M. I had submitted my resume for a different position, but the HR director saw my skill set better matched M's department, so she passed it to him for review. His right-hand man, S, called to see if I would be interested in interviewing with their department instead. Yes, please - all interviews are welcome!

I met with M and could tell it would be a great fit. The only snag was that even though there was need for another body in the department, he hadn't gotten official approval from the big guys to create a position. There would be a bit of lag time.

I continued job searching. One place that contacted me to come in had an intense screening process. The first appointment was a test that all employees take regardless of the position they are applying for, from VP to mail room. It had questions on it regarding proofreading, editing, proper customer service response, etc. The second was an interview with the HR director. That went well, so they had me do the third step, a personality test. The fourth and final piece of the puzzle was a panel interview with the CEO, COO and CFO. It was a 10-minute, rapid-fire question and answer session. The HR director likened it to speed dating. It also reminded me of sorority rush.

I did very well. The CEO told me I scored exceptionally high on the editing portion of the first test. He asked the question "What job would you do if you could do any job in the world?" I answered "Travel writer." I later found out he used to be a travel writer. Sucking up accidentally helped, I'm sure.

I left the interview confident they were going to offer me the job. At every stage of the process, I was repeatedly told that they were a very structured company, and if I wasn't comfortable with that, it would not be a good fit. I like certain things structured, so I thought it might be ok, but I sensed that since they felt the need to keep reiterating it, it might be more than I'd like. But having been unemployed for a couple of months and knowing my husband was about to be laid off, I didn't have much choice.

I got the call that afternoon. It was a great offer. I accepted. I would start about a week later, after they completed a background screening. 

The Friday before I was to start working on Monday, I got an email from M saying he'd gotten the green light to create the position we had discussed. He asked if I was still interested and if I could interview with him and S. I agonized over what to do. Is it unethical to accept a job and then agree to interview with another company? What if I got another offer, switched jobs and regretted it? I prayed about it all weekend. Finally, I emailed M back Sunday night and told him I would like to meet with him and asked if we could do it at 5:45 on Monday or Tuesday since that would work best with my current schedule. Then I prayed that there would be some sign to let me know what would be the right decision.

I went to work Monday morning. It's a medium-sized corporation, a couple hundred employees, a self-contained building with security badges and a security desk at the front entrance. Everything is top-of-the-line and in pristine condition. But they weren't kidding about being very structured. Or as I would call it, militantly rigid. The phone ringer cannot be changed; the ringer volume cannot be changed; the font used in emails cannot be changed; you may hang a limited number of persona items in your cubicle but they must be approved; you may only drink from company-approved containers at your desk; you may not use your cell phone or text; you are expected to be at your desk by 8:20am to begin working by 8:30am. Hello, giant, neon sign.

By the time I left for lunch, I felt like I was suffocating with all the rules. I couldn't understand how they could possibly have found any designers who could work in that creativity-stifling atmosphere. (Later when I explained this to my friends of corporate America, they thought a few things were too much, but overall it was pretty standard. Coming from small business experiences, it was a huge paradigm shift.

I went home for lunch and checked my email (no personal Internet usage at the office). M had responded back that Tuesday at 5:45 would be fine, and since it was after hours, how about we meet at the bar and grill nearby instead of at the office? That neon sign started flashing.

I went back to the office and gave my best effort. Just because I had another interview, didn't mean I was leaving. I needed to stay focused and positive in case this was my new home for awhile. (Though by this point, I had already decided that if the interview with M didn't pan out, I would keep job searching since I couldn't see myself staying there long.)

Thursday, May 3, 2012


I don't like Chinese food. (American Chinese, that is. Don't mind actual food in China.) But my husband and the girls love it. Especially orange chicken. Whenever DH gets take out, he is sweet and gets an extra fortune cookie for me. This one came during the darkest hour of my life.

For those of you who don't read regularly, I'll sum up by saying that within a few weeks time at the beginning of the year, I was surprised to discover I was pregnant; found out my parents weren't going to be able to be our part-time daycare providers (due to my mother's worsening dementia), doubling our childcare cost though my income was decreased by half due to cutbacks; DH and I found out we were both going to be laid off entirely; and I had a miscarriage. It felt like we were being kicked when we were down, over and over again.

When I saw this fortune, I was at a point when time had stalled. I was stuck in quicksand, slowly sinking. I knew it wouldn't last. "Time heals all wounds." "In a few years, you'll look back and laugh." Yadda, yadda, yadda. But in the moment, time stood still. Those future years were so. Far. Away. So to think anything would be better in 3 months felt impossible. I wrote the date on it and stuck on the fridge. Which quit working two weeks after I got laid off. Kick.

I'm thankful to say that today is that three month mark. (Barely - just squeaked this post in under the wire.) And were good things in store for me? Yes. Things are certainly better than they were February 3rd. Not because of the fortune. I'm not big into that kind of thing. What I do believe in are the three F's: Faith, Family and Friends. Those were my rock, my solace. And we've been blessed with many good things recently. DH and I both found new jobs. And we got a sweet new stainless steel, French door fridge. Some things are still rocky, but I feel like making it to this milestone was the hard part. Here's to you, Time. Thanks for doing your job and starting to heal us.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day Giveaway!

Happy May Day! My best friend and I used to love leaving flowers for friends and neighbors on May Day. Need to institute that with my kids. Since I'm working again (I know, right??!! Promise to post on that very soon), I will postpone beginning that tradition with them one more year.

For those of you not in the KC area, last Sunday was a thunderstorm-filled, curl-up-with-a-good-book-on-the-couch kind of day. We had too much on our agenda to relax, though. DH had gone to Emporia for his fraternity's 90th reunion. He drove back that morning in time to take S to a birthday party, so I could take Baby R to a fun event at Deanna Rose hosted by the Plum District. Unfortunately, they had to cancel it at the last minute due to the inclement weather. The good news is that they were able to reschedule it this coming Sunday.  But the last performance for my ballet season tickets is that afternoon, so I won't be able to make it. This is even better news for you, though, since now I have 4 tickets the Deanna Rose event to give away.

If you've never been to Deanna Rose, it's a great time for the family! It's an old farmstead with goats you can feed, cows you can milk and fun play areas. Check out this link for more details. Plum District knows all about great places for family outings, so it was only natural they would choose Deanna Rose for their party location. But they couldn't just do a standard outing, they had to really make it an event! There will be facepainting, hot dogs, balloons, a clown, and more!

Since the party is this Sunday, May 6th, the deadline for entering is Friday, May 4th at noon.  I'll choose a winner and post it no later than noon Saturday so contact info can be exchanged. (The tickets will be at the door.) It's simple to enter. Just leave a comment saying what your favorite part of Deanna Rose is. Or if you've never been, what you are most looking forward to. Enjoy!
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