Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Closing out the month...

November, NaBloPoMo, and Movember come to a close this evening. My November had me getting started with an incredible business, finishing up my first semester back in school, watching my husband grow a moustache so horrible that he got an award for having the worst moustache, enjoying snow and Thanksgiving (with power!), and now ready to donate $270 to Movember. I had a goal to be able to donate $200 and was able to surpass that by $70! Hoping for another great month of giving next month.

Too bad I couldn't quite follow through with NaBloPoMo this year. Oh well, there's always next year!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hooray for great customer service!


An update to my last post: The company, Uncommon Goods, completely came through on their promise. The morning after I'd gotten the shipment confirmation email for the Illinois address, I had another email detailing the replacement shipment and shortly after had the shipment confirmation with my home address. I am absolutely impressed with that superior level of customer service. Now, I know for sure that my boys will be able to receive all their birthday presents on their birthday!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

When efficiency is a downfall...

I spent a bit of time today ordering Christmas presents for the kids as well as birthday presents for M and J. Since we will be with NS's parents for Christmas this year, we are shipping presents there to avoid having to pack them or drag them on the plane with us. That is a great plan, and one I was remembering to follow quite easily. Unfortunately, I didn't take the time needed to realize that one of the orders I placed was for M and J's BIRTHDAY presents, which is, you know, two weeks BEFORE Christmas. Yep, I shipped 'em to NS's parents. Within half an hour of placing said order, I contacted the company's customer service to try to change the shipping address. I thought for sure it would be able to be done. Um, no, not so much. They had already processed the order and were preparing it for shipping (so they said at the time, which I so did not believe at the time), so their best suggestion was to have the people I shipped it to refuse the shipment so that it would be returned to the company and then they could send it to my house. You know what I thought of that? That there is no way that process would allow the shipment to be here in time. So, I called to see about canceling the order so that I could reorder with the correct shipping address. The woman I spoke with was very compassionate towards my situation and double-checked the order status to make sure they couldn't change the shipping address. She confirmed that it was ready to ship and couldn't be shipped to a different address at this point. She did offer to attempt to intercept the package once the tracking information was available so that it would be returned to the company and resent to the correct address. I think this is likely to work as I've had something like that done before, but I was still flabbergasted that this order was ready to be shipped less than an hour after I hit the Submit button on their webpage. I received the shipping confirmation with tracking number not much after this, so I guess they really were that quick and efficient with my order. Too bad this was a time when I would rather have been dealing with a company that took a bit more time to move from "ordered" to "shipped" status.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Out...

Looks like I won't be displaying a NaBloPoMo success badge this year. We had quite a little snow storm on Monday and ended up without power for almost 48 hours. Our mode of heating is a wood-burning fireplace, so we stayed warm enough, but cooking proved quite the task with only a charcoal grill outside. Our power was restored just after NS prepared a feast of grilled bratwurst and grill-heated soup and served it up. Since we weren't really sure if we'd have power today, we weren't fully prepared for making our typical Thanksgiving fare. However, we still managed to pull off quite the delicious treat with a smoked turkey with homemade garlic mayonnaise and fresh cranberry sauce for dipping, garlic mashed potatoes with turkey dripping gravy, a sweet potato and cranberry bake, and roasted brussel sprouts with macadamia nuts (if it doesn't sound good, just trust me, they're more than good).

Today, I am thankful for my truly wonderful family and the convenience of electricity and all the wonder it brings to my life.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wintery...

My expo tonight was not as much a success as last week's. The temperature's gotten much colder, and there was even snow flurries this afternoon. So, people stayed home and tried to stay warm, which means our turnout was less than exciting.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My, oh my, it's been a long time...


I signed into my Google Reader account for the first time in -- too long. That's all I can say about it, too long. I was grinning and giddy as I scrolled down to find some of my favorite people still putting their thoughts and lives out there. People I didn't realize I'd been missing so much until tonight. Enough of those people that I didn't even take a moment to wonder about those whom I used to read regularly not having any recent posts. Looks like the Reader might become another tab to keep open once again.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Unenergetic and procrastinating...

I promised myself that I wouldn't put my essay off until the end of the week, you know, the day it is due. But, here it is Thursday night, and all I've got is a browser window full of tabs with possibly relevant information, a few notes jotted about what I plan to put in the essay, and a very rough draft of part of the introduction. It's a solid start, I suppose, but I had wanted it to be mostly done by now, not just started.

Oh well, it will get done tomorrow, probably with a small dose of panic as the time ticks by on my day, and all will be fine. I just don't have the energy right now. M and J had a half-day at school today, so I had all three boys with me running errands, which always seems to quadruple the amount of time it would take if I were running solo. I also made a dinner a minor step above my dinners of late (the ones where I make some sort of meat in 15 minutes and then throw raw fruits or veggies at plates until they seem balanced enough) as well as a soup for the boys' teachers to have tomorrow during their long day of conferences since I volunteered to do so last month.

The soup turned out much better this time than it did when I tested it a couple weeks ago; it helps when you actually follow the instructions in the recipe, I think. And, according to NS, dinner was awesome. We had chile pork and a persimmon and pear salad (both recipes found on AllRecipes.com). I enjoyed it well enough; awesome is a bit of a stretch for my taste buds, though. NS and I have wildly differing tolerances and affinities for acidity in salad dressings. I make an apple cider vinegar and bacon grease dressing that I love and could eat every day; too much vinegar, he says. Tonight's salad was lemon juice and olive oil base; he thought it was fantastic, and I thought something was missing. Those persimmons sure made up for it, though...yum!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Unspoken...

A friend and I were chatting this morning, and she mentioned something her husband said to her about a picture he saw of her. His comment was about how that picture had been taken when she still did her hair and makeup every day. This obviously wasn't a compliment on his part, and it made her feel a bit guilty and scrutinized and underappreciated. I don't know how something like that wouldn't make her feel that way. Of course, that picture was also taken prior to the birth of her two year-old and when she was working full-time outside the home, when she had not only the time but also the sense of necessity to have a very put-together personal presentation. I've absolutely found myself in similar circumstances, finding very little time or motivation to put in half an hour or more to style my hair and apply a layer of perfection to my skin. When you know the only reason you'll leave the house is to go grocery shopping, it's hard to muster the justification for taking extra time on your appearance when you could be doing something that seems more important or meaningful.

Thankfully, no one in my life ever took the time to make mention of this change in my routine, though. But, just like I've never been critiqued over my lack of primping, I also rarely hear compliments about how I look when I do put more effort forth. I have a feeling that this type of situation would be very bothersome for many women, and I'll admit, the implied correlation between his silence and his level of admiration for me has crossed my mind once or twice, though these thoughts are always squashed briefly after they pop up. Why? Because NS is quite adept at showing his feelings for me. And, honestly, that is a much better love language for me. Words can be spoken and mean very little; actions speak to me in a way words cannot. Physical displays of affection and love mean so much more to me in the grand scheme of who I am and how my past has shaped my mind. I wouldn't dare give up something so clearly understood and conveyed to me in trade of more verbal praise, which, it seems, can also come packaged with occasional verbal reproach.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

One of the best new shows...

One of the most entertaining shows we've picked up recently is Raising Hope. A guy gets a girl pregnant. She turns out to be a serial killer and goes to prison to await her execution. Once executed, guy gets baby to raise. His family is, um, special. While guy works with dad in family business, baby goes to wacky lady's daycare who sings wacky songs. Shenanigans ensue. It's just a lot of awesomeness in one show every week.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Belief...

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt is about religious and spiritual beliefs. My declared philosophy on Facebook is that of a spiritual fatalist, meaning I believe in a greater power or force in our universe and that things happen as they are meant to happen. I've written about this before, and I'm just going to leave the link here as it is still true today and is a core part of who I am and how I try to live my life.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lack of interest...

Yesterday morning, as I was driving along to get to the Expo location, I was pondering this blog and what I want to post about, which inevitably led me to thinking about how I used to always have something to write about, something I wanted to write about to get it out of my head. And, now, that is rarely the case. My life lacks drama nowadays, and that's very suitable for me. But, it means there's a lot less need for me to reach for my emotional outlet. No drama seems to yield little interest oftentimes.

Anyway, so I was winding through these towns on my drive, and I see this motel. I think to myself, that looks like a seedy sort of place, the kind of motel that people having affairs in a small town would go to. Not too far away, I see a church, and a whole story builds in my mind about a couple of not-so-happily married churchgoers finding each other during choir practices and beginning a disgraceful and sorted affair...using that motel as their rendezvous haven. I figure they'll be caught in their deceptions and live miserably, longing for forgiveness and uncomplication, after that. It was a short-lived tale in my head, but it was a random creation of drama where none probably exists that I happened upon shortly after thoughts of how little drama and outside interest my life now holds.

I then immediately wondered if other people find themselves doing that, imagining unlikely events based upon an ordinary set of scenery.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sooooo tired....

Me? Sleepy. Too sleepy for thought. Incoherent. That's me right now.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Barely...

With less than 15 minutes to spare in NaBloPoMo day 12, I'm starting this post. I've been a busy girl this evening in preparation for my first Holiday Shopping Expo in which I will share my H2O at Home products and business with the visitors. It seems like it will be fun, and I hope it is. It's been a fiasco leading up to now in trying to coordinate with the other H2O at Home advisors, but I think we're all settled and ready to put our best foot forward in the morning. Tomorrow promises to be a very long day since I will wake at 4:30 in the morning to go to class and then leave from there to drive the hour and a half to the Expo location to begin setting up for the 7 hour show. And, then there's the clean up afterwards and the even longer drive home. I'll probably crash as soon as I step through the door of the house.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A day of honor, remembrance, and gratitude...

I want to keep this short, simple, and straightforward.

Today, and every day, I am thankful for my husband and all the other men and women, past, present, and future, who sacrificed to serve our country, to secure and protect our freedom.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Inspiration...

Part of the requirements for one of my classes, an Adobe Illustrator class, is to find images that strike us with inspiration for some reason and keep an electronic journal of them. This was one of the first images I selected.

Another requirement for this image library is that we explain what we like about the image, or why we selected it. I chose this image because I thought it would make a fantastic eye. I haven't done any projects for this class that make use of eyes, and I may not have one before the end of class, but I do believe I can use this picture some day to help me create a unique and dramatic eye, one that draws people to it.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Up in flames...

I was perusing the list of writing prompts on the NaBloPoMo site a few minutes ago, and I saw this one from September 30th: If your house was on fire, what five things would you be glad to see go up in flames?

As pictured over there <---, the first thing I'd be glad to see go up in flames and be jumping for joy to replace is our couch. Our couch has been a giant disappointment. Its quality is not fitting with its price, and it has deteriorated at a much too rapid rate in the 2+ years we've had it. We can't even wash the cushion covers anymore because they are barely hanging on with shreds, literally shreds and threads, of fabric. It's too big an expense for us to outright replace it now as much as we'd love to. Not when it isn't absolutely necessary and when we still have little children who make messes wherever they go.

I'm also not hesitant to say I wouldn't be sad to see our kitchen cabinets go to dust. They're old and poorly remodeled, not to mention their inferior organization.

And, since I'm demolishing stuff in the house I don't like with this imaginary fire, I'll get rid of the basement, too. Bad carpet, a room that's more like a large closet that's passing for a guest room, some ugly wall paneling...yeah, it can all go.

The washer and dryer would be nice to replace also. The washer is about 8 years old, and the dryer's probably about 10. The washer is permanently stuck on extra-large loads, which is better than the opposite probably since we wash full loads 99% of the time we do laundry. They both work just fine, especially when considering their ages, but a pretty red set wouldn't make me miss them at all.

Finally, I wouldn't balk at the chance to replace all our towels with new matching pieces. Good quality, plush towels that would make the end of every bath or shower feel like a luxury spa experience.

Do you have something that you wouldn't mind letting go of in a fire even if you can't justify parting with it otherwise?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Portrait of a mom...

This is a de-colorized version of a snapshot J took of me the other night, the same night as the photos posted yesterday. It had been red tinted. I assume because his finger was too close to the flash. I always take great interest in these pictures the kids take. It's a perspective rarely seen since they are generally viewing a different angle from anyone else who might take a picture of me. I just wish I was smiling more in the picture, which is sadly the case in most of the portraits for which they have me pose. I don't know why that is, really. I am generally a smiley person. Even the therapist I saw last year made a comment about my perpetual smile, a smile I maintained even while divulging painful experiences and memories. I just hope that these blinks in time my kids capture so randomly and infrequently don't reflect what they see more often than not. I'd hate to think they don't see my smile as much as others. Of course, taking pictures of the family is one of their "good deeds" cards they can get to make up for breaking one of the house rules, so perhaps my smile is missing in those moments for a genuinely good reason.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Blank...

I'm completely blank on topics this evening. I almost forgot to post. Might have completely forgotten had it not been for a spam comment email I just received. So, in lieu of further babbling about how much I don't have to say tonight, I'll share some photos of the boys from dinner Friday night...their "silly" faces.

M's silly face

J's silly face

LMX's silly face

LMX's silly face with added silly tongue

And, then J took the camera...

J's pic of M's silly face

J's pic of LMX's silly face

J's self-portrait

Saturday, November 06, 2010

How does your mo grow...

MovemberDo you know about the month of Movember? It's the month formerly known as November, and it is changing the face of men's health. Men grow out their mo's, or moustaches, if you will, for the entire month to raise awareness for prostate cancer.

NS and most of his co-workers are participating this year. I've donned a fake moustache and a light blue shirt and placed the picture on my Facebook profile. I'm also trying to raise money to donate through my H2O at Home business. I've vowed to donate 20% of my November sales to Movember. The tally as of tonight is $61, and I'd really like to reach $200 or more. With a couple holiday shopping expos in the next couple weeks, I think this goal is more than achievable.

Are you participating or know someone who is?

WooWoo's Movember photo

Friday, November 05, 2010

Wanting and waiting....

Trying to ConceiveLast December, NS and I decided to start trying to add one more baby to this family of ours. Four seems like a really nice round number, and there's always that chance we'd be able to have a daughter to raise since we've got so many sons already, and even if we don't get that chance, we figure four boys will be just as much fun and chaos as three. So, a win-win situation, really.

We did take a couple months off from trying to conceive to avoid a December/January due date since we will be flying to Illinois for the holidays this year. But, alas, we are in cycle nine, and no pretty double-lined tests to congratulate us on our efforts yet. It's weird being in this place now, having conceived twins the first cycle of trying and having conceived twice while trying to avoid it with birth control pills. We're supposed to be pregnant by the end of the year to give us six months of adjustment before NS gets out of the Navy. I hope and pray that it will happen in that timeline. I'm afraid if we don't conceive and decide to stop trying, then there will never be a fourth child to join us. That thought makes me so incredibly sad. It makes my heart hurt and feel hollow and empty, and I don't want to have to come to terms with that. Please pray for our miracle or send us as many positive thoughts as you can spare.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The business...

Gina Benson - H2O at Home Independent AdvisorAbout a month ago, I went to a get together with a few women from a mom's group I belong to. It was an open house with a few party-based businesses present: jewelry from Stacy McBride, a spa collection from For Your Pleasure, and then the unexpected highlight of natural home care products from H2O at Home.

The woman who showed us the H2O at Home products casually answered our questions, and the demonstration of the all-natural clay powder had me hooked (along with everyone else). The simple container of non-flashy and quite unspectacular-looking clay, when paired with a wet, tough yet non-abrasive sponge, was magical. The white porcelain sink of our hostess's kitchen had some scratches and scuffs from normal, everyday use that hadn't been able to be removed from other cleaners or scrubbings. With this clay and sponge combo and minimal effort from our H2O at Home lady, all the blemishes disappeared from that sink. I bought some things that night and eagerly awaited my delivery so I could put this clay to the test in my house, a house that is about 30 years old and had been abandoned for about a year before we moved in, which is my way of saying that there is some layers of stubborn staining from water and minerals in our bathrooms. Well, I guess I should say there was some stubborn staining because that clay and sponge duo knocked those stains stubbornness into oblivion.

So, having looked at home much their business kit cost and what was included in said business kit, I decided I had nothing to lose in signing up. At worst, I got a lot of products I'd want anyway and only pay a fraction of the retail price. I am just so amazed by these products. They are developed in France and meet very high standards for their natural and organic certification, much higher standards than we use in the U.S. I had mostly eliminated toxic cleansers from our house anyhow because I think they do more harm than good, but my vinegar and water never gave the same clean appearance as I'd want and as I've found with these natural cleaners. The microfibers are the answer to most of my cleaning woes. A little water and these wondercloths have made me look for things to clean just because I know it will be and LOOK clean. Total win.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Getting schooled...

bachelor's degreeI've been in classes since late August. Two ODU classes and then two classes at the local college to fill in some of my lower level requirements that began late September. I was a bit, um, apprehensive, I guess, about going back to school at first. I wasn't sure I would do as well as I expected of myself, and I did wonder if I'd be the oldest in any classes that I was taking since I have to go in to the school for all but one of them. As it has turned out, I am still a great student. I'm on track to complete the semester with a full set of A's. I even managed to get a perfect score on my first Intro to Rhetorics test, and the professor read a large part of my essay to the class the day we went over the tests. Not too shabby for a class that I have to be in at five in the morning.

Yes, I said 5 AM! That was a rude awakening on the first day of class...as I showed up at what I believed to be 15 minutes early only to find that the class ended 10 minutes later. I had mistakenly thought the times listed for classes when I registered had been converted for my time zone since it was listed as a class at my local campus. Not so much. So, what I thought was an 8 a.m. class is really 5, and if I wasn't already dreading having to be at the school at 8 o'clock on a Saturday for 3 hours...well, let's just say it wasn't a happy revelation and leave it at that.

And, I'm not the oldest in my classes, not even the local college ones. Even if I was, I wouldn't let it bother me at this point; I love being a student again!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Unemployment...

Stop the Layoffs and So Will the Stock Market SlifeLike I said yesterday, I haven't been working since July. A week or so into the month of July, I had an early morning meeting scheduled with my supervisor. I thought it was going to be a quick project briefing. When I called for the meeting, I found out it wasn't just us - manager and head of the department were also on the line.

That's when I knew it wasn't going to be any regular meeting, and that I was going to get off that line and be in a different status than I was when I dialed in.

Unfortunately, the company had not been spared by the difficult economic times we're all too familiar with right now. They'd had to eliminate positions all over the company, even some of our team. We also knew there was more downsizing to come, so I wasn't completely shocked when I got the news. I knew it was a real possibility. NS and I had talked about it and figured out what our plan would be if it came to be a reality instead of a hypothetical. That plan was that I would work a part-time job at night if I couldn't find a suitable job in my field.

I had just over three weeks to wrap things up before my time with the company would come to an end. Once this situation actually became real, the plan NS and I had come up with pretty much went right out the window. Positions in my field generally require a four-year degree plus experience. That degree is not something I have. Part-time work in the evenings is also very hard to come by right now; turns out I'm not the only mom who wants that kind of job. What to do, then?

After some discussion and some number-crunching, NS and I decided it would be possible and probably best if I went back to school to complete my degree. It would make me more marketable and also allow me to ask for higher compensation in the future. He even found the perfect program for me: a distance learning program through Old Dominion University that offers a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies for Professional Writing.

I had to scramble to meet deadlines and be able to enroll for the Fall semester, but I managed to get it all taken care of, and now I'm a full-time student again after almost ten years off in search of myself.

Monday, November 01, 2010

It's that time of year...

NaBloPoMo 2010
That time of year when I challenge myself to post every day for the month. So, yes, I am still aware this blog exists, and yes, I want to keep it going. NaBloPoMo is here to the rescue!

I'm running short on time this evening, so I'll have to do a few bullet points to write about later.

* I have not had a job since the end of July.
* I am in school.
* I've recently signed up as a consultant for an awesome eco-friendly company.
* We're hoping to add another little Woo baby to the clan in the next year.

That seems like enough to get things going this week. This is going to be a great month!