Monday, July 23, 2012

Counting Down

This past week has been so super, totally, awesome. Yes, I know that makes me sound like a spastic 16 year old. That's ok, 'cause I kind of feel like that these days.

DH spent ALL weekend fixing the tire on the van to get ready for our big road trip. Just as our luck would have it, though as soon as he pulls in the driveway after taking it for a test drive around the block, the alternator dies. Right there in the driveway. Swearing and massive waves of depression followed quickly and DH and I both went to bed wondering just how in the world we were going to manage to get this fixed on top of the a/c that we had to repair last week and still be able to go on vacation at the end of this week.

Apparently God hears prayers and even occasionally answers them quickly enough to make your head spin. First, the problem of being without my husband's van for the week was settled when his boss allowed him to work from home all week. he had been told that he wouldn't have the option to do that any more, so we were VERY relieved that this was approved. After that, the problem of getting the car repaired was nicely taken care of as well. We have a reliable auto repair shop within three blocks of the house, and even though they appeared to have a full lot, they made room for us. Ok, so we have someone who will fix the van, but how will we pay for it? That was when the REAL miracles started pouring in. On Monday, I found out that we would be receiving a reimbursement - within the week, even - that I completely did not expect. Also, it turned out to be just a little bit more than the quote we had been given for the repair bill for the van. This is on top of the extra money on my last paycheck that was just enough to cover the repair bill for the a/c.

Since things were going better than expected, I was able to keep my appointment to get my hair done after work on Tuesday. I have the sexiest hair dresser ever, who also happens to be very capable and skilled, AND she is one of the most awesome chicks I've ever met.  I've known her since high school and she's one of those people that make you feel good just by being around. Even better, she works out of her home which is only a few minutes away from my shop. It takes a couple of hours to do my hair ('cause I never do things the easy way) but honestly it feels more like a Girls' Night Out. I get a chance to girl talk and relax and it feels... GOOD. Besides that, my hair looks awesome and my mood is boosted 100% (or more!) As a bonus, the dye took a little funky in spots so I have streaks of PINK in a few places. People pay EXTRA to get that, usually, and I got it for FREE! I'm so lucky, sometimes.

At work things were not nearly as glamorous. The computer at the office crashed on Monday and it still hasn't been fixed or replaced a week later. Luckily, Pookie and I had a few projects to keep us busy. Like cleaning the store. Again. Oh, and those boxes of paper that we have to copy as part of a fire recovery contract. These two boxes of files are too damaged to keep, but too important to throw away, so we have been carefully copying each page and scrap of paper in these boxes. One. Page. At. A. Time.

Fun stuff, I tell you! Not only is it tedious because we have to remove staples and clips and carefully separate each page without ripping them, but it is also a terrible mess from the ash, rust, and water damage. I have to wash up several times a day and as soon as I get home - especially after finding out that DH is allergic to dust and mold.

By the time I got home that night, I was ready for a break. The meat wasn't taken out of the fridge? That's fine with me! I saved the day by deciding to go out for a cheap, but incredibly delicious dinner at my favorite  Mexican place. I still kind of felt like celebrating, but I didn't want to go too crazy so instead of ordering dessert there, I stopped at Braum's on the way home to grab a half gallon of ice cream. Everyone is happy and I only spent $4 on a "splurge" instead of $20.

Friday night, it was my turn to take advantage of the Great Kid Exchange so I dropped my kiddos off with Pookie for the night and DH and I have a real, grown-up date. I was so excited for the big date that I took my lunch break and got my nails done at the salon in the strip near the store. I used to get manicures all the time, but as the kids needed more, I put little pampering things like that on the back burner. Now that I am working, and I make the budget, I can start doing things like this again. Working also means that we get to go to a dinner AND a movie and follow it up with a few drinks at a pub. I won't go into the rest of the date, but I'm sure you'll understand.

Saturday, we picked up the kiddos and had another fun filled day in pre-celebration of our own Evil Genius' 9th birthday! We got to see Brave, which is probably my favorite Pixar movie yet, and we got to do a little mall cruising. EG picked out her own birthday gift, much to the pride of DH. She bought her very own Marine's basic OD green t-shirt and I've never seen DH so proud. Those two make a good team.

No pics this week. I'll have LOTS coming up in a few days, though so just keep your eyes peeled!

Now, I am just counting down to vacation next week. We've got so much left to do! Why is it that going on vacation seems like more work than if we just stayed at home?

How do you prep for vacation? Do you pull OT the week before, or just tackle the pile of work when you get home?


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Day in the Life

This week I'm going to try something a little different. I will write a little bit about each day and see what it looks like on Sunday.
So, here we go!

Monday: Worked a full day and still made it through a workout with Dr The Mann. After some Electrical Therapy, readjustments, and stretches I feel like a new woman! Let's hope I can keep up this energy level for the rest of the week. Also, I just realized that I have less than three weeks until my first family vacation in more than six years! I'm am SO stoked to get to see my mom and D in Ohio while DH teaches some older scouts the fine art of roach making.

My smiling face after a good workout. Let's consider this the "before" picture, K?
Tuesday: I thought I was going to get my hair done but plans went awry on all parts. I'm kind of cool with that, though. I am WAY tired. Even after a nearly two hour nap after getting home from work, I was still beat. Energy and motivation level are at ZERO. We finally ate dinner at 9:00 or so because I was too tired and everyone else was too busy watching TV. Gotta love Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra. We've been hooked since it started!

Wednesday: Ok, so the fatigue from yesterday was a harbinger for the pain of this morning. FM sucks, but I REFUSE to let it take my entire life away. So, after taking some meds and going back to bed for a few more hours, I made it to work and finished out half a day. It's better than nothing right? Now, to come home and relax in a nice, cool house... uh, why is it so HOT in here? The A/C isn't blowing cold? Crap. Looks like we're screwed until Friday. At least. And maybe after that, too. Now what?
And just when I think I want to crawl in bed and pull the covers over my head (but I won't because it is too darn hot to do that) in walks EG with a picture she just drew. This girl is amazing. And she made me smile when I really needed it.
See? They look JUST alike! Notice the chainsaw and hardhat...

Thursday: DH managed to work from home and since the a/c guys are family friends they worked us a deal on the a/c repair. Ahhhh. Air conditioning is good. By the time bed time rolls around it is finally down to 82 degrees in the house. It's better than nothing, right?

Friday: The morning starts out with another doctor's appointment. This one is for a rheumatologist/ allergist who is the one who finally diagnosed my FM. I know I've gotten a lot better, but I want to be TOTALLY sure that I am doing everything I can to get better. I ask her to give me another round of allergy testing to determine if there are foods I need to avoid or maybe might be even causing some of my symptoms. The word Celiac has been used cautiously a few times and I want to make sure that wheat isn't one of the foods I need to watch out for. So, the nurse brings in the panel of allergens, gives me a poke with one as a test, and... nothing. 15 minutes goes by and, although the spot is red, it isn't raised enough to really show a reaction. Apparently I've taken some medicine in the last few days that is throwing things off. Now I have to come back in a week to try again. I've got my list of things I have to completely avoid for the next week and it includes things like antihistamines (of course), certain pain medicines (not mine, thankfully), muscle relaxers (including the ones I DO take), and SUDAFED!!! I take this as much as three times a day because regular allergy meds either make me VERY sleepy or they give me (what else?) migraines! So, the Sudafed helps control the sinus inflammation and the resulting headaches. The muscle relaxers help control the daily muscle pain and help me get good sleep at night. Without either of those things, well... let's just say this next week is not going to be very pleasant. If it helps me find out more about why I have been so sick, it will be worth it, though.

After work, I pick up my niece Awesome and nephew PJand head home. We're keeping them for a night so my sister Pookie and her hubby can have a kid free 11th anniversary. In exchange, they will keep all OUR kids for a night NEXT week so that we can have a kid free 13th anniversary. I think it's a marvelous arrangement! On the way home Awesome tells me she has a headache so I make sure the a/c is on and I give her a blanket to cover her face until we get home. Then, while we are discussing the dinner choices (pizza or Braum's) Awesome lets me know that this is actually a really BAD headache by throwing up in the backseat. Thank goodness I had enough time to hand her a plastic bag. Poor thing! I know EXACTLY how she feels and all I want to do is get her home... as soon as I cash my check before the bank closes... and pick up some medication at the pharmacy...and, and, and. In the end it turned out ok because by the time we got home, Awesome's headache was better. But the inside temp of the house was again, 85 degrees. Crap. I guess the a/c wasn't really fixed, was it? At this point we will be paying premium prices for the a/c guy to come out - again - so we decide to try and stick out through the weekend and call on Monday.
Braum's wins for dinner because it is air conditioned, relatively inexpensive, they serve pretty good burgers, and EXCELLENT ice cream. Especially because of the ice cream.

DH and I work like a well rehearsed team getting the kids in and out of the order line, getting the food served, getting everyone drinks and ketchup, and even getting them each a single dip ice cream cone. I'm thinking the evening is going well until we get back home and I remember the life sucking, brain melting heat we have to deal with (remember this is TEXAS in JULY.) We open all the windows, turn on all the fans, and attempt to convince the kids that it IS, indeed, bed time. The nephew sleeps in one room, the teenager is in her room, and the three middle girls are up giggling in their bedroom until waaaaay past midnight. Somehow I manage to get a few hours of sleep myself, although it isn't exactly GOOD sleep.

Saturday: Finally a day of rest! Ok, maybe not... Pookie, her hubby, and their younger two kiddos come over in the morning to pick up Awesome and PJ and Pookie's hubby is going to help DH replace some parts on one of the wheels. This is going to save us a lot of money and it shouldn't take long.... why do they ever say that?!?! It took two more trips to the auto parts store, borrowing tools from a neighbor, and even WP driving down to deliver an air compressor before the day was done and the the wheel STILL wasn't fixed.
Meanwhile, Pookie and I are in the house with SEVEN children trying desperately to get comfortable. By 2:00 we had had enough. I decided to call the a/c guy back no matter WHAT they had to charge us. Thankfully, as I mentioned before, these guys are family friends who just happen to own an a/c repair business. The tech comes by, helps DH change the filter, cleans out the system a bit and things are back up and running. He doesn't even charge us! As the temp slowly drops inside the house my mood slowly improves.
Ok, I think to myself, as long as nothing else goes wrong, I can handle this.
Why do I EVER say that to myself? 

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Join me next week for another installment of our adventures around here!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sorry for not posting as often as I would like. I actually DID write some posts, but I tend to get a little bit of "writer's remorse" when I try to hit the "publish" button. Was this a good post? Is it funny/truthful/interesting enough? Does anyone else really care?

In any case, I have vowed to write and post once a week from here on out. My plan is to work on my post a little bit throughout the week and have a picture-full and witty something for you guys to read by Sunday evening. No, I don't really believe that either, but if you can't lie to yourself, who CAN you lie to?

So to start off with, I have made it through three whole weeks at my new job. I did have to call in sick one day due to fatigue more than pain. This is a reminder to me that I need to me vigilant about budgeting my energy every day. Rest a bit when I get home. Go to bed on time every night. Don't push too hard to catch up when I feel good because it will only make the crashes longer and more painful

Fine. I get it. Just because I have made progress doesn't mean I am the same "Superwoman" I was six years ago. I am a totally DIFFERENT "Superwoman" now and I need to respect that and use my strengths to the best of my abilities and not beat myself up about the weaknesses.

Two weeks ago, EG was invited to a sleepover by one of her schoolmates who has a pool at their house. Her dad found out it was TD's birthday and he went ahead and invited her over as as well (I think he's crazy, but I'm no less thankful!)

 They had a blast and (of course) got completely sunburned. The first thing I did was pull out all the sunburn stuff (Solarcaine, aloe spray, lotion.) The second thing I did was look on my beloved Pinterest for the tutorial on how to convert t-shirts into halter dresses without sewing so they could have something cool to wear that didn't rub on their burns. It took about 15 minutes per shirt, but all the of the girls LOVE them and I've made half a dozen of them so far. My t-shirt pile is actually getting smaller and the girls are actually wearing them. I'm kind of a proud Momma.

 This past week was especially crazy. I mean, even more than the typical crazy. The kids have been home alone during the week and they have started to get a little bit more lax on taking care of things during the day. Evenings were filled with a little bit more "catching up" than the needed to be. On top of that, poor DH apparently had an ear infection that he didn't know about and that has put him out of commission a bit. Last weekend we attended another pool party for the Native American Drum Group that he sings and drums with.  He decided to dive off the diving board one too many times and his eardrum sort of popped and he's been in a LOT of pain ever since. He did finally go to the doctor and he has some topical ear antibiotics which are helping...slowly. He should be back to normal soon.  I hope.

In spite of him sitting out for most of the day, we all had SO much fun! I've learned to put my fear of water on the back burner and let the kids enjoy themselves. This has a lot to do with the kids each having more confidence of their own. Sending the kids to swim without me there was possibly the best  thing ever. Each of the girls actually ventured into the deep end of the pool for the first time, each with their own version of confidence-inducing tools. LH actually learned how to swim and tread water,  and even how to dive off the diving board. No floaties, goggles, or nose plug. And she did it more than once! THAT'S the girl I've known and loved. The fearless girl who takes off on her own and will stand toe to toe with someone twice her size to protect and champion those who can't.  Not the wimpy little teenager who is afraid of everything. I am SO proud of her! TD and EG haven't become full-fledged swimmers yet, but they had pool noodles and a floatie jacket and their confidence fully intact without my anxieties getting in the way. I think I may go ahead and get that family summer pool pass I have been threatening to get for the last few years.

Once we got home and the swimsuits were put away for the next week, I decided to look at the calendar to plan out the week. OH HOLY BISCUITS! The Lollar Summer Party was in less than a weeks and there was too much left to do! I started making lists for the girls to do while I was at work, and checking in with them several times a day to keep them on task. Of course, there was still TONS to do on Saturday morning before people showed up. Amazingly, everyone pitched in and the house was at least presentable on time. On my trip to the store to get the last few party items, I finally splurged on the hinged baby gate we needed for the office doorway. For once, I wasn't worried about the babies hacking on the computers or swallowing glass beads.

Scott handled the cooking on the grill, everything else was already made and just had to be transferred to serving bowls. The girls invited a few taller friends over early and did the decorating for me. It was low-key but SO much fun. The best part was the incredible cool front that blew in just after all the guests arrived. There was a bout 10 minutes of light rain and then the rest of the afternoon was cool and comfortable. That is completely unheard of for a weekend in July on Texas. I'm not sure who's prayers were answered, but I'm sure thankful for it! Most of the kids were able to play outside all afternoon and I know the grownups enjoyed it too.

The day was absolutely magical. We had about 20 kids and around 15 adults and everyone got along. One of the guests' sons (who is on the higher end of the autistic spectrum) actually played ball with other kids and managed to both catch AND throw the ball! There was a fourteen year old boy drawing with sidewalk chalk with a three year old and loving every minute of it. One little 10 year old Casanova nabbed the phone number and e-mail address of another pre-teen girl. There was a soccer game in the back yard where the older kids each paired up with one of the younger kids so that everyone could play and feel included. I got to see my WP, and two of my sisters, and even my brother in law showed up for the first time in 11 years.

My bestest best friend since jr high made the 45 minute drive with all three of her beautiful kiddos and hubby. I haven't been able to see her or her adorable babies in at least a year and she brought the girls the most adorable matching outfits.  LH got to see some friends from the Little Country Town we used to live in.  EG's very best friend got to hang out for a little while. I don't think anything can compare to a 50 person chorus of "Happy Birthday" to all three of my girls. I just sat down a looked around and felt so peaceful and thankful.

By the time everything wrapped up late last night, my face hurt from smiling and my sides were tired from all the laughing. When I got up and walked around the house this morning, I was infinitely thankful that I broke down and bought paper plates and plastic cups for the day. I think I might have about 15 minutes worth of tidying up to get the house back in order. Actually, it's better than it was before, thanks to the To Do list of things we had been put off for far too long. I have NO cardboard boxes anywhere in my house at all. That alone is enough to give me more peace than I've felt in months. I'll tell you a secret about this whole Summer Party thing. If I host this kind of party every summer, I can be sure that my house will be completely clean at least ONCE a year. Yep. I thrive on crisis cleaning.

I think I'm going to start on a dinner of left over party food and yesterdays' birthday cake. It just may be my favorite part of hosting get-togethers like this.