Friday, August 28, 2009

A Little Ahead of the Game


When I was pregnant, I signed up for an e-newsletter from a Web site called BabyCenter.com. It was supposed to help me learn what I needed to know about pregnancy, giving birth, my child at each stage in her life. Although I didn’t and still don’t learn much about my daughter from these newsletters, I do learn about where she’s supposed to be and, inevitably, isn’t. For example: The most recent article I read was called “No Comparison” and discussed where my two-year-old should be at this stage in her life compared with other "normal" two-year-olds. When I first read it, I was all, "Huh!?!":

1. Points to an object that you name. (Let's see, how about she points to it, calls it by name, hops over and grabs it, and hurls it directly at my head.)
2. Recognizes the names of familiar people, objects, and body parts. (How about, "Mommy, Kota wants to go outside potty now. MOMMY, KOTA WANTS TO GO OUTSIDE POTTY NOW!!!” Is recognizing bodily functions sufficient?)
3. Uses short phrases and two- to four-word sentences. (OK, I’ve got a good one: When asked by Nana how she's going to get her buggy filled with all her dolls down the steps, Kensie throws her arms up to her shoulders, palms up in the “what” pose and says, "I have a problem: I just don't know how to do that!")
4. Follows simple instructions. ("Kensie, go get your BB," which is followed by a pensive look, her remembering she left her BB downstairs in her bedroom, her opening the gate, holding the handrail as she walks down the steps alone, closing the door behind her, going into her room, grabbing her BB, and heading back up the same way.)
5. Repeats words she overhears. ("No Kensie, don't do that!" Reply: "No Mommy, YOU DON'T DO THAT!" And, by the way, “DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT!” Does that work?)
6. Finds an object even if you hide it under two or three blankets. (How about finding a paci under three blankets topped by an oversized pillow and being crushed by a 100-pound Samoyed lying on top of it.)
7. Sorts objects by shape or color. (Kensie has a backpack full of balloons, and she'll pull the balloons out one by one and ask, "Which one d'ya want, Mommy?" I say, "Red," and she hands me red [same goes for all colors, books, blocks, pacis, you name it] then forces me to blow that balloon up repeatedly followed by letting it go to shoot around the room like a rocket. I fall for that one every time.)
8. Plays make-believe. (On her toy cell phone: "Hi Alex, how ya doin'? I'm good. You wanna talk to Mommy? Here Mommy, it's Alex," followed by, “I’m busy, you talk to her.” Enough said.)

Needless to say, these articles tend to come a little too late for Kensie, but they’re always nice to peruse and see what I needed to know six months ago—the days when she was a little quieter, more subservient, less mobile, still enjoyed a cuddle, and was a good napper. Yes, those days are gone, and all I’m left with is a beautiful “little tornado” who, in the right light, looks like me through the eyes but always, always reminds me of what a lucky mommy I am.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dieting Haze


If there’s ever a time you don’t want to be around me, it’s when I’m dieting (for those of you closest to me, that’s right now). I started (for about the 10th time in the past six months) a new diet on Monday, and already, I’m miserable. Plus, I’ve decided to hit the ground running, literally. Regularly exercising is a huge part of weight loss, and I know this mentally. But physically, it’s soooo hard to get off my ass! But to lose the weight I want to lose, that’s gotta go hand in hand. To add insult to injury, I’ve decided to keep it to none (OK, that hasn’t happened yet, so let’s just say one) glass of wine each evening. (If you didn’t already know, your liver has to metabolize any alcohol before it can start working on fat, so I figure not drinking wine at all, or only on weekends, is my best route.) However, my daily regime practically requires a glass of wine to make it through the evening. So in a nutshell, diet + enough daily exercise to produce weight loss + no wine = BITCH OF THE YEAR AWARD (just ask my patient parents)!

It’s not that I don’t know how to eat right. I absolutely do! But I love cheese, and I love wine. And it’s not that I don’t know how to burn calories. I’ve always been very athletic and into exercise (pre-K), so when I do exercise, my body seems to remember and embrace it. And it’s not that I need a glass of wine every night. I surely don’t, though after a long day at work and being a single mom of the “little tornado” (as my sister-in-law recently called K), sometimes it’s the only thing that will take the edge off. Apparently I know the ABCs of a healthy life, so why is it so hard to live it?

For me, it’s pretty simple: denial. I haven’t put on 20 pounds since Makensie was born. Eating four pieces of pizza for lunch with a REAL Coke is OK if I skip breakfast and dinner. Walking up and down the steps at work is a pretty good workout if you ask me. I’ll get to the gym at least three times this week. My daughter will continue to eat a healthy, organic diet even though I’m eating whatever I want. In my world, denial is the elephant in the living room.

The saddest part of denial for me is that while I’m “denying” reality, I’m hyperaware of it! I know I’ve gained weight since my daughter was born (um, pretty obvious!). I know skipping meals and drinking alcohol kills metabolism (so does turning 30). I know walking the flight of stairs at work a couple of times a day does absolutely nothing to help me lose weight. I know that if I don’t force myself go to the gym, I’m never gonna get back into a solid routine. And I know if I’m not a better role model for my daughter, she’s likely to spend some if not much of her life fighting the demon that is weight control.

So I’ve made the decision to earn the Bitch of the Year Award honestly and get back onto the healthy living bandwagon. I know it’s gonna be tough (it already is three days in), and I know I may fall off the wagon now and again (I do so love a Coke Icee), but I know that I have to get myself back to the place of pure health and happiness that I haven’t seen in a couple of years, and I’ve got to do it with a blonde, blue-eyed sponge watching my every move.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Glitch at the Grocery


The other day after work, I decided to run by the grocery store for some necessities for Kensie—milk, juice, fruit, cereal, you know the drill. Since my mom had kept her that day, it should have been a quick-and-easy stop for me—no dragging the kid out of the carseat; no walking through the parking lot at a snail’s pace while Kensie checks out everything she possibly can before we get in; no wobbly race-car buggy that is almost impossible to turn and get through the narrow isles. It should’ve been a simple enough endeavor—but then, it’s me.

I was trying to get home somewhat quickly because my mom had left Kensie with my dad for a couple of hours so she could meet some friends for dinner, and I really never know how the whole Kensie-and-Pa-left-at-home-alone situation is gonna go. Will the diaper get changed? Will Kensie get juice and a snack? Will Dad leave the front door unlocked and K walk on out into the yard and then the street before he even notices she’s gone? Who knows what could happen!?! But there were things we needed that we couldn’t live without until morning, so I had to stop. In the back of my head, I knew it needed to be a quick trip, so when I got in the shortest line I could find, I figured I was good to go. But, again, it’s me.

I had seen the woman who now stood just ahead of me in line shopping with her son, who looked to be about three. She was pregnant, but what I noticed most was that her son, a redhead, was wound up! He buzzed up and down the aisles, said hello to everyone he came across (myself included), grabbed items off the shelves and launched them across the store—the usual male redheaded child stuff. If you don't already know, redheads are known for being feisty creatures. But from my personal experience, redheaded boys are downright nutty! And this little guy was behaving true to form (though he was cute as a button). So as I stood patiently awaiting my turn to check out, the woman’s (saying woman makes me feel so old; I’d say she was about my age) bill was totaled up. She swiped her card and . . . nothing. The clerk told her the card had been denied. I remained patient and not too concerned, as sometimes these things are simply a glitch. So she tried it again. Again . . . denied. So the woman pulled out another card (as her little redhead took the front of the store by storm), and same thing. She was noticeably getting nervous (her hands were shaking, and she looked quite concerned). The woman explained to the clerk that she’d need to make a phone call, so he put her tab on hold while she stepped aside and got on her cell phone. (Just a side note: This woman and her little boy looked very normal, not needy at all. They were both dressed nicely, and, well, she had a cell phone. How poor could they be?)

Soon after the pregnant woman with the wild child began making phone calls, my items were being rung up. When I got my total tab, it was within pennies of what the pregnant woman’s was (around $80), and that’s when it struck me: What if she’s a single mom with one child and one on the way who was just laid off and receiving $250 a month unemployment just trying to buy her kids milk? What if she’s just lost her home and has no real home for her family and has just spent her last few dollars on doctor’s bill for her son? What if these groceries are the only items she has to feed herself and her son, and she’s about to be told she can’t have them? What if she has no one and nothing, and two children to support? All of the sudden, I had this overwhelming feeling that I wanted to help her. I don’t have much money; everything I make is allocated for the most part. But I wanted to help. I’d pay for this woman’s groceries to save her the humiliation she must be feeling trying to figure out what to do next. But how? Do I go up to her and offer to loan her the money, thus focusing even more attention on her unfortunate situation? Would that just make it worse? But what about her child? What about those necessities like milk and cereal and bread that I know she needs for herself and her child? Do I just tell the clerk I’d like to pay her bill while she’s on the phone and then leave? How can I help this woman!?!

In the end, I decided that it was not my place to interfere. I decided that it might be insulting to her for a stranger to come up and offer her “charity.” If not insulting, I knew it would be embarrassing. I figured I didn’t know her situation, and maybe she didn’t want me (or anyone else close-by us at the time who would inevitably hear the exchange) to. So I left the store conflicted and wondering if I’d made the right choice.

I thought about that woman all weekend. Was she able to pay her bill? Was she a victim of identity theft and robbed of all of her money? Did her loser ex run off with all the money and leave her with a kid and one on the way to support alone? Did she just get laid off and was hoping that she had enough to cover groceries but ultimately didn’t? Had it simply been a mistake and minutes after I left the store this issue was resolved? I had no way of knowing. All I know is that when I looked at that woman, I saw myself and thousands, maybe millions, of women just like us—doing whatever it takes to make sure our families are taken care of no matter what it costs us.

I thought a lot this past weekend about parents all across our country who are trying their very best to take care of their families in these hard times—many just squeaking by; many creating mounds of debt simply feeding and clothing themselves; many unable to stay afloat and being forced to split apart their families. I realized how lucky I am to have such a strong support system in my family and friends, and I hoped that the woman with the wild redheaded little boy (and possibly another wild one on the way) who touched my life so briefly yet so profoundly was as lucky as I to have people around her who would make sure that everything was OK.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Battles in the Night


In my world, sleep (or the lack thereof) has been a significant issue the past two years. I struggle with sleep on a daily (or rather, nightly) basis. I have always been the kind of person who really needed to get that eight hours a night. In college, when friends were pulling all-nighters studying, I was wrapping up by midnight because I knew I’d crash and burn if I didn’t get enough sleep. When I was working the late shift at various newspapers early in my career, I made sure to make up that lost sleep during the day, even if it took away from the few daylight hours I treasured. In the pre-baby partying phase of my 20s, I slept in on weekends, took afternoon naps, whatever it took to be functional again by Monday morning (no longer an option). But this “baby” thing has really thrown me for a loop! (Kudos to those of you with multiple kiddos.)

Allow me to explain (though for some of you, I’m guessing no explanation is necessary): When Makensie was born, I knew I was in for a little bit of lost sleep (though I really had no idea how my life was about to capsize). I wasn’t working at the time, so I was able to nap when she napped and generally make up for some (though not all) of the sleep I was losing during those first few months. As a stay-at-home mom, it was a bit easier, and I was much more relaxed. I started working again when Kensie was six months old and still waking two to three times a night. This is when the current “night” mare began.

Kensie has always been easy to put down. She never really fusses and generally falls asleep pretty quickly (as long as her “fishies” have batteries) both at naptime and at night. But what she doesn’t do is sleep fully and soundly all night long. So at six months old, she continued to wake wanting milk a couple of times a night. (I now know, many sleep and parenting books later, that I fostered this negative pattern by continuing to give her milk instead of weaning her off of the nighttime bottles thus perpetuating all of her sleep issues.)

At about one year old, Kensie began to “sleep through the night” (a phrase used quite loosely in the parenting world and code for “about 7 or 8 hours,” during which many of those hours the parent is still awake). Since she was going to bed at 7 p.m., I was looking at an initial wake-up time of about 2 a.m. The only time I had to myself was that window between 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. (after doing whatever I needed to get done for the next day, including preparing Kensie’s lunch and diaper bag for day care) when I really should have been in bed. At 2 a.m., I’d give K some milk, head back to bed and stare at the ceiling for an hour or so before being able to fall back asleep, and she’d go back down until between 5 and 6 a.m. Doesn’t look too bad on the surface, but for this single working mom, it was quite difficult (especially when she woke closer to 5 than 6 a.m.). I always tried (and still do) to be in bed no later than 10 p.m., and many times I’d be in bed by 9 p.m. But being woken up frequently for someone who has trouble turning off her brain at night in the first place, a cat sleeping on her head, and a baby monitor roaring in the background is rough. During this time, I struggled with weaning Kensie off the one nighttime bottle because it was just easier to give her what she wanted and let her fall back asleep so that I could get a bit more sleep (again, probably not the right thing to do, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do) before having to be up and get to work.

Between one and two years old, Kensie and I had our ups and downs when it came to sleep (mostly downs for me). She’s an early riser and ready to greet the day with a grin, a trait she comes by honestly from my mom’s side of the family. I, on the other hand, am not a happy camper at 5 a.m. (or 4 a.m., or 6 a.m., or really even 7 a.m.); I prefer to sleep late (per my dad’s side of the family), an option that was hijacked on July 3, 2007.

So at two years old, Makensie and I are still battling when it comes to sleep (only now that she speaks in full sentences, the battle has become verbal). I put K down about 8 every night (after our nighttime routine of milk, PJs, teeth-brushing, book-reading, and lights out), and inevitably she wakes around 4 a.m. ready to hit the day head-on. So each morning when the moon’s still bright overhead, my daughter and I are arguing about whether it’s time to get up. “Baby, it’s still night-night.” “No it not! I wan go ustairs!” “Honey, see how it’s still dark outside? It’s night-night. Lay back down and I’ll cover you up.” “Noooooooo! I want in Mommy’s bay-ud!” Some mornings, I win, and she lies down and goes back to sleep for another hour or so. Many mornings, however, she (and the prospect of a few more winks) wins and ends up in my bed thrashing around, making demands for milk or her paci or cartoons or to go upstairs. But, inevitably, I wake exhausted and praying for the day when Kensie sleeps until the ripe hour of 7 a.m. Until that day comes, be wary of the redhead with bags under her eyes wearing her shirt inside-out and incessantly muttering the words, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can . . . Make. It. Through. This. Day.”

Update: Last night, Kensie slept until 5 a.m. (woo hoo!), woke up and chit-chatted with herself for a few minutes, then went back to sleep until 6:15 (rock on, girl!).

Monday, August 17, 2009

Balancing My Babies


Before I became a “mom,” I had already considered myself a mom for years. I’ve had pets all my life, and I always considered them my children. When I got pregnant with Kensie, I swore to each one of my animals (at the time, four, two dogs and two cats) that they would not be neglected. I swore that they would stay just as much my children as Kensie would be. We’d still go on walks everyday (dogs). They’d still sleep in the bed with me (dogs and cats). They’d still have full run of the house. They’d get all the attention from me that they had always gotten. I promised them and myself that absolutely nothing would change, and I truly believed it. I mean, how hard could having a kid be?

During my pregnancy, my dogs were the happiest I think they’ve ever been. I only worked for a few months in the beginning of my pregnancy and then was at home (a story for another time), so my dogs went to the beach nearly everyday, rode in my Jeep (yep, that’s a thing of my past now) with me everywhere, had the run of the house and the yard (we were in San Diego at the time, so the weather lent itself to doors being opened all day long), slept on the bed whenever they wanted. The cats got the run of the house, too, but they also got to roam the neighborhood, which they loved. They were all in pet heaven! But when the “little stranger” arrived, our worlds were turned upside-down.

Makensie and I left San Diego when she was five weeks old, and I dragged my animals from this gorgeous land with perfect weather and a their beloved beach all the way across the country to a hot, sticky patch of earth with no water in sight and where the only time they got to run was when it was cool enough (around 5 a.m.) or when someone could make time. And usually, it wasn’t Mommy who was taking them. The everyday runs, usually coordinated by my dad, only lasted a couple of months, then they became few and far between. With this move, my boys (all of my animals are male) did gain a bigger backyard and a couple of buddies (my Mom’s and Dad's dogs), but their time spent exercising and with Mommy began to slip away.

My time back home was consumed with caring for my daughter and working to support us. It was all I could do to keep up (being a new mom and a single mom is a major transformation, one for which I was not quite prepared), and when I wasn’t working, I wanted to spend as much time with my daughter as I could. The animals were always around, of course, but my attention was focused primarily on Makensie. There was no more wrestling time, the dogs could no longer sleep in my bed (mainly because Shakespeare snores and Kota wants out when he wants out, and he’ll wake anyone in his path to get out), and I had very little time to take them to the park except on weekends. They no longer got to ride in the car with me, mostly because there simply wasn’t room, and it was such a hassle to get the dogs and a kid into the car and on the road. They had basically been banished from our area of the house so Kensie could nap during the day and I could sleep at night. What I had sworn to my boys and to myself wouldn’t happen had happened; my babies had become animals.

It’s easy to tell people that I’ve had trouble losing the “baby weight,” but in reality, I only gained about 25 pounds during my pregnancy, so the rest of the extra weight I have on me now slowly took residence over the past two years. But I’m not the only one who’s put on a few pounds. Both of my dogs have packed it on, as well, and for that I feel guilty everyday. I try to tell myself things like “You’ve been through a lot” or “You’re extremely busy, there’s only so much you can do” or “Your life is so hectic, you deserve that second glass of wine,” but the truth is, it’s totally my fault. I haven’t made the time for myself or for my pets. We’ve all packed on the pounds together, and I certainly can’t blame them for that. They can’t go out and walk themselves. They can’t drive themselves to the park. Sure, I get out every now and again and walk Kota (it’s too hot for Shakespeare right now, as he’s a Pug and can’t be out in heat over 70 degrees), but going from running free on the beach everyday to walking on a leash in the neighborhood a couple times a week, if that, is quite the shift in lifestyle. (Yesterday, I took Kota to be groomed, which is why he's so gorgeous in this picture, and the groomer was quite adamant in her “suggestion” that I try and get him in a little more often. So he had a few mats!)

Instead of beating myself up for the dogs gaining weight and being ungroomed, for me gaining weight, for banishing my dogs from my room because they disturb my sleep, for not exercising enough, for not eating as well as I should and giving the boys a few too many snacks, for not giving my pets enough kisses and hugs everyday because I’m “just too busy,” it’s time to make a change. For me, sometimes it’s hard to wrap my brain around change. I get into a comfort zone, and I’m the only one who can get me out of it. But once I make a decision, I’m pretty good about sticking with it. I’m in the brain-wrapping mode right now, but soon, there will be a sweaty redhead with a slightly chunky white dog running her ass off on the blacktop. Or I’ll be lifting weights at the gym, or high-stepping in a step aerobics class, or striking poses in my living room to my yoga DVD. Sure, it may take a little bit more time brain-wrapping to figure out when I’m gonna fit in all the changes that must go along with this transformation (including putting my fur babies back up toward the top of my priority list), but until I make time for myself and get to a place where I am happy with the person I am, how can I ever be a good role model for my daughter? She deserves a happy, healthy, fun, laid-back mommy, and that’s just what I plan to be.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Not Just Any House


It’s interesting the way the universe works. When I was 18, I couldn’t run fast enough away from my hometown—the way things always stayed the same, doing the same thing with the same people over and over and over, driving the same roads in the same cars—it was simply stagnating. So I went away to college (Rock Chalk!) and then moved out to the West Coast—Northern California first, then Southern California. I worked, explored, lived, loved—it was an adventure I will treasure my whole life. And after a tumultuous two years back in my hometown (but not because of my hometown), I can walk to the childhood home from which I so easily ran away some 15 years ago from my new job. Ah, the joys of irony.

When I first got my new job, I knew it might be located near my old home because the building is in the same suburb, to which I hadn’t really been back in quite some time. But what I didn’t realize was that it would be located in the dead center of a world I had known as a child and hadn’t thought about in years. The first time I interviewed for my job was when I realized just how close my childhood would be to me while working with this company. A couple of blocks down the road to the right is a swimming and tennis community that my family and others in our neighborhood built. I can still remember what that land looked like before it was constructed. I spent many a summer day at that pool with friends and family. I took swimming lessons, played “Marco Polo” and “Shark,” listened to Hall and Oates blasting from the stereo speakers, played tennis on the court. That pool was a huge part of my life. A couple of blocks to the left is my old neighborhood. Some of my most life-changing memories were created there. I met my best friend when I was four and learned I had lost her at 13 in that house. I raised and buried pets in our yard. I rode my first bike on its streets (and crashed head first into the pavement going down a huge hill thanks to my brother). I made trails through the woods and rode my moped for hours on end. I slept outdoors in sleeping bags counting the stars. I had sleepovers every year on my birthday until I was 17. It probably wasn’t much different than most kids’ lives in suburban U.S. neighborhoods in those days—except that it was mine. And now, just down the street from where a little girl learned and grew and changed and slowly became the person I am today, I while the hours away writing, editing, planning, learning, and growing even more in the same place I did in my formative years.

The first time I decided to drive past my old house since I started work, the memories came rushing back. I teared up when I saw that the house where I had made so many treasured memories was empty—not for sale, not lived in, just empty. The grass and trees were overgrown; the decks were old and dilapidated; the window shades were askew; there was even a window unit air-conditioner in one of the windows (we had A/C in that house when I was a kid; it was the 80s!). I looked up at the window to my old room and saw the Tot Finder sticker I put on it in grade school. Though the other houses in the neighborhood had been kept up and even upgraded since we left, ours had been neglected. I took that to heart.

The night after I drove by my childhood home I had a dream: I went back to my old house, and it was for sale. All I could think was that I had to buy it, whatever condition, whatever the cost—I had to preserve my memories! I went in, and it was beautifully redone and fabulous (way more fabulous than when we lived there). I was so excited that I could save and actually live in my childhood home again all the while working right down the street! But when I woke the next morning, I remembered the reality, and again, I was sad.

There’s nothing I can do about the state of the house I spent so much of my life in. All I can do is remember the good times, mourn the bad times, and go on with my life as it is now—healthy, happy, and blessed in so many ways. And, maybe, shed a tear or two every now and then as I catch a glimpse of my past.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tents

What is it with kids and tents? I mean, you throw a sheet over a chair and drape it across the bed, and you’ve occupied a kid for hours. I guess I just don’t quite get the attraction, but Kensie—boy does that kid love a tent! I thought I’d go out and buy her one to set up in her room since she’s always asking me to make one for her. You know, a cute pink one that has flowers and butterflies on it to match her room (when did I become this girly!). But then my mom (the ever-wise one) asked me this simple question: Why? Of course, how very true: Why? Why would I go out and spend money on a cute little pink tent to match her room when I can just throw a sheet over a couple of chairs and call it a day? It’s like having pets (those of you who know me, you know I always have a few critters around): You go out and buy them all these expensive toys, and they end up gnawing on a box or batting at a piece of string instead of chewing on the $5 bone you bought or playing with the furry fake mouse on which you spent five minutes choosing the perfect color. It’s fitting, really, being that Kensie was raised by dogs and has always considered herself a member of the canine family. Decision made: Save the $40 I would have spent at Target on a tent and throw up a pretty bedsheet covered in flowers and butterflies.

Friday, August 7, 2009

First Week on the Job

Well, I survived, and truthfully, it was pretty painless (minus the stress I caused myself worrying for nothing and the lack of a computer and Internet access the first day, which made things drag). I got to start on a Wednesday (highlight No. 1) because of the lack of computer. Then I got to go home early that same day for the same reason. Sweet deal! Oh, and I got paid for two days when I was actually at home with K. Double sweet deal!

Day 1 started about 6:30 a.m. with Kensie yelling, “Mommy, I wake up! Mommmmmmmyyyyyyyy, I waaakkkke upppppp!” We got dressed, gathered the usual stuff for day care (lunch, snacks, juice, milk, BBs, babies, Bubba), and headed out. After dropping K off and before my first day on the job, I had a training session that I expected to last at least a couple of hours. As the Senior Content Director of my new company, I have to know the ins and outs of the chosen content-management system, and from my experience in CMSs, I knew it could get ugly. But after 15 minutes, I was out the door. Easy breezy!

So I headed to my first day on the job. When I walked into the Southern-style, two-story brick building where I would now spend much of my life, I heard crickets. No one was at the front desk. Not a soul in any of the offices. Conference room: empty. After canvassing the entire building, I found, in a small back-corner office on the top floor, a woman who looked at me like I had tentacles and suckers all over my body. After explaining that I did belong there, she graciously found my boss.

After much discussion about business with my new boss, we broke for lunch. The choice was not mine, but I have to say that The Olive Garden’s salads are fabulous (though I’m guessing not as low in fat as I’d like them to be). And the mints they give you as you leave—get out of here! After a little more chatting about business, I headed out three hours early to get Kensie. I was superexcited about spending a little extra time with her, and I got there so early that I had to wake her from her nap. But she was happy, as (almost) always, to see me.

Day 2 began just about the same way. Up early, got ready, took K, went to work. The differences being I had a computer, and I had a new coworker. I share an office with our Art Director (new coworker spoken of above), so it was important to me that we get along. I’ve been in situations before where there was friction among coworkers, and that makes work life hell. But my new coworker/office-space sharer seems very nice, and I’m happy with our situation. So again, we chit-chatted about work, performed a little work, then off to yet another free lunch. I could get used to this! (Just before lunch, I had to run K’s BB [blanket], which had been left in the car, to her daycare provider’s house, and I was back within five minutes, that’s how close it is. Pure bliss!) Only catch of Day 2 lunch: Cajun. Two things (well, probably more, but two in particular) that don’t sit well with me: spicy and from the sea (both of which are heavily involved in Cajun food). But I survived with a mere grilled chicken salad (the only “normal” thing on the menu) that didn’t taste like either, so it was all good.

After lunch, things got a bit slow, and since we had boxes with chairs but no put-together chairs to sit in (our desks will be installed this weekend, so we’ve been sitting in conference room chairs at folding tables), that’s exactly what we decided to do. I figure, the company’s small, very few employees, trying to build clientele and revenue, why not put together my own chair! (I now have a fabulous black leather chair in which I’m sitting at my folding table, one that I put together with my own two hands. Ah, heaven!) The day concluded with a few introductions, a few discussions, a little bit of work, and finally, home. Oh yes, HGTV!

Day 3: No free lunch today. Bummer! But I enjoyed my Lean Cuisine Chicken and Garlic pizza just fine, and I really got on a roll as far as work. I learned a lot and got a lot done. What can I say, I’m happy with where I am right now, both in my job and in my life. So there are things I really strive for daily that seem just out of reach. It’s OK; I’ll get there. Things happen for a reason, and I guess I’m supposed to stay in my hometown a little longer than expected. It’s comfortable and stable, and I remember a little more than two years ago praying daily for just that in my life. I got my wish then, so I figure my other wishes will come true in their own time. Right now, I can wait.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I Have a Confession

Since I was laid off from my last job, I’ve had a bit more time to do some things I didn’t do when I was working full time and raising a child full time. One of those things was watching TV. I mean, I watched television from time to time while making dinner or playing with the dogs and Kensie, and I’d turn on the tube after I put K to bed if I wasn’t too exhausted. But having all of the “extra” time at home has led to an, ahem, addiction. It’s hard to admit, but I’m addicted to . . . HGTV.

Before that day a few months ago, I never knew it existed. And really, not yet owning my own home, why should I care? But from the moment I turned it on, I have been hooked on this TV channel dedicated to decorating, home improvement, landscaping, organization, real estate—whatever topic you can imagine that has to do with owning or renting a home.

House Hunters, House Hunters International, My First Place, For Rent, The Unsellables, Property Virgins, Income Property, Bang for Your Buck, Curb Appeal, Real Estate Intervention. People young and old are purchasing first homes and vacation homes, downsizing and upsizing homes, remodeling and renovating homes, recreating outdoor spaces, having their homes analyzed by professionals. They’re making "life-changing" decisions about pricing, d├ęcor, pools, yards, countertops, garages, carpet vs. wood, city vs. rural life—you name it. It’s simply fascinating! I could (and have) sit for hours watching these shows, and yet I have absolutely no reason to be so into them. I don’t own my own home now, nor do I foresee owning my own home anytime in the near future. Hell, I’m living with my mom! Yet every evening, I put K to bed, pour my glass of wine, sit on the couch in front of the TV, and become entranced by HGTV.

For those of you who haven’t checked it out, do it! You’ll learn a lot about yourself from the decisions you make compared with those of the actual people. I’m not living vicariously through anyone! I’m simply enjoying some casual television every now and then focused on a topic about which I should have no interest in whatsoever! Oh, and one more thing, I haven’t missed an episode of Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood in months. That Candy Spelling—what’s her deal!

Don’t worry: I’m now employed, have survived my first day at the new job, and am aware that time will again become scarce. I’m sure I won’t be sitting on the couch in three hours eagerly anticipating a new episode of House Hunters!