Friday, July 27, 2007

Blond Girl Update 2.5

Hey folks, it's time for me to post another update. It will be long. If you think it should be shorter, just let me know in comments. Otherwise, I'll assume that you're just riveted by the adventures of Blond Girl in Minnesota and let my thoughts continue to ramble. haha!

Sweet Girl and I have been here just shy of three weeks now. We've settled into a bit of a routine, but it is hard being away from home. Occasionally Sweet Girl will stop playing and look at me, chin and lips wobbling and whimper, "I miss Daddy!" I've held her through a few tears. Of course, being Mommy, I don't get to cry. I have to admit, though, that there have been many times in the midst of training when my attention has wandered off, home to Illinois. I always pull myself back to the present and demand that I pay attention to the world of brokerage trading.

One way that we've combated homesickness is by keeping very, very busy - especially on the weekends. Last weekend Sweet Girl and I went swimming with my friend Laura and her two daughters, Ava and Lexi. Laura and I used to work in the same department and were pregnant together, so we've kept tabs on each other's Mommy experiences along the way, so it was great to get together.

On Saturday night, Sweet Girl went to spend the night with her friend, Snow White, while her mom and I went out to hear my friend AmyM sing in Andover. Sunday was spent with Snow’s Mom, Snow’s Dad and Snow White again. I got to visit their church, which is an A.G. church like ours at home. In fact, the pastor there remembered our pastor, so it will be fun to pass along his greetings when I come home. In the afternoon, we took the girls to a new restaurant here in town called "Space Aliens"... it's essentially like Chuck E. Cheese's, but with good, edible food and NO motorized singing puppets with rolling eyes (those things give me the creeps!). Very nice. The girls dressed up in their favorite princess outfits for the occasion and we celebrated their birthdays (Sweet Girl turned 7 on June 12 and Snow White turned 5 on June 19). They had missed each other's parties, so this was the "make up" party.

Sweet Girl has had an exciting week, as she attended her "downtown daycare" Monday through Wednesday. It's a backup daycare center offered to The Big Company employees for 6 visits a year. I've been using them since Sweet Girl was a baby and the teachers there were so excited that she was coming back to visit. Believe it or not, they remembered her from a year ago. She's had so much fun and can't wait to go back for the three days I've scheduled her in August before she goes home. The break has been good for my mom, too. As much as she loves Sweet Girl, it can be hard to have your days suddenly taken over by an active 7 year-old.

I'm not sure what we'll be doing this weekend. I haven't made plans yet, which isn't like me. I hope we can hook up with some friends or family though. Of course, there's still the organizing I'm trying to help Mom do here, so that can keep us busy as well. At least it should be cooler... It's been really hot and HUMID here the last week. I always laugh when I talk with a Champaign resident who has never been to Minnesota in the summer. Since we have such a cold winter reputation, others tend to expect that our summers are colder, as well. Nothing could be further from the truth; Minnesota is a land of extremes; we get way colder in the winter and waaaayy hotter in the summer! We've been, on average, 6-10 degrees hotter with 5% more humidity than Champaign this last week. I think it's the 13,000 or so lakes here; when the temperature goes up, the city evaporates!

Hmmm.. what else? OH!! OH MY!!!! Yesterday evening Sweet Girl and I went to dinner with my best friend, Geekwif and her husband, Geek. They are Sweet Girl's godparents, so they were looking forward to seeing her. Dinner was wonderful. On the way home, however, I saw something that broke my heart. We drove by the hotel where Champs and I had our wedding reception and where we stayed the night before we moved to Illinois... and it is BEING TORN DOWN!!!!!!!!!!! They are tearing down the Pink Palace O' Love! I was so shocked, I drove all the way around it and took pictures to send home to Champs. He recognized it right away and was as saddened by it as I am. I know we don't live here anymore, but it is still sad to see the site of the best party of my life destroyed... sigh.

While my plans may not be set for this weekend, I know that Champs's are. Our landlord agreed when we renewed our lease that the house NEEDS new carpet. The people who lived there before us were smokers and very hard on the carpet. Well, we are getting the new carpet on Monday... finally. That means that Champs will spend the weekend moving furniture. He's got a bit of help lined up, but I hope he finds more help... either tearing the house apart this weekend or putting it back together over the week. I wish I could be there to help him, but I'm a mean wife off in training... sigh.

Well, I think that this about wraps up this version of the Blond Girl Update. I'll try to exercise some brevity next time... but not tonight.

And a few comments:

kenju said...
I know you are both missing daddy - but surely you will not miss the furniture moving!!

Shannin said...
We are going to have to fill your weekends with fun stuff!!! Trader Joe's??

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Blond Girl Update

Well, Sweet Girl and I have been in Minnesota for a week and a half now. Our flight to Minnesota was great! I haven't been on a plane in at least 10 years and this was Sweet Girl's first plane flight. She loved it! In fact, I'm pretty sure that I was more scared than she was. We flew out of Midway airport in Chicago. I bought our tickets on Priceline and did sidewalk check-in then worked our way through security. It couldn't have gone better. Both Chicago and Minneapolis were breathtaking from the air. I think my favorite part as we flew in was seeing all the lakes! Champaign is a great town, but it is somewhat lacking in the water department. I have always said that Minnesota is a beautiful state and seeing it from the air only proves my point. So lovely.

We're staying with Mom and getting caught up on seeing friends and family. On Saturday, Sweet Girl and I went out to tour the Minnesota Zoo; the monorail and swans were the hit of the day. Then on Sunday, we had a birthday party for Mom. We haven't seen my brothers, sister-in-law and their kids since we moved, so it was nice to get back together with them.

Mom has been taking care of Sweet Girl while I'm at work, which is great for the two of them to have some concentrated time together. Speaking of work, I'm firmly immersed in training, learning the systems and policies regarding equity trades. Funny that I'm blowing the dust off and finally using all the stocks, margin and options knowledge that I so studiously stuffed into the dark recesses of my brain when I took my NASD Series 7 test three years ago! Now I have to study for, and pass, the NASD Series 63 test. Yikes!

I have been having so much fun connecting with all my old work friends. I only warned two friends that I was coming, so it has been a hoot seeing people's reactions when they see me walking the halls of Ameriprise. In addition to my training, I'm working on re-establishing my network so that I can remain "visible" when I return to Illinois. Although I took a grade decrease to return to the company, I fully intend to work my way back up to where I was - and beyond.

Both Sweet Girl and I have been feeling a lot of homesickness. Actually, it's not homesickness as much as it is CHAMPS-sickness (and, yes, a good dose of Gus-cat-sickness too)! We miss Champs. We knew it would happen, so we're handling it. Thank goodness for free long distance on our home phone (internet phone is a wonderful thing). We talk to Champs every night. Sweet Girl will be going home the weekend of August 17 to prep for the start of second grade, which is good. I think the 7-year old heart doesn't handle long-term separation as well as the mommy does. Of course, she doesn't have text messaging on her phone! I have to admit that my cell phone has definitely been a lifeline for me. In fact, my homesickness is strongest at night. I bought a full-sized airbed and put it in Mom's room next to her bed. Her room is, literally, wall to wall bed. It's funny! Sweet Girl curls up next to me each night and I drift off to sleep thinking about Champs at home, sleeping in our comfy bed. Sigh.

When I was planning to come, we decided that I should bring Sweet Girl along so that I wouldn't be separated from both Champs and Sweet Girl for four months; that would have been more than I could handle. Sweet Girl agreed that 5 weeks in Minnesota would be fun. Other than seeing Grandma and family, Sweet Girl's greatest motivation for coming to Minnesota with me was to see her friends, especially her best friend, Snow White. Although Snow White is two years younger than Sweet Girl, the girls have been best friends for four years. They used to attend both the same church and daycare, so 6 days a week together makes for a strong friendship. Sweet Girl has only seen Snow White once since we moved, so this visit has really been good for her. Of course, there are also all her other friends from Sunday school. She was so excited when we went to our old church and she was able to connect with all her other friends. Snow White's mom and I are hoping to get all the kids together for an afternoon before Sweet Girl goes home.

Part of the way I'm dealing with homesickness is by helping Mom sort through the rooms in her house. After 47 years of marriage and raising 4 kids, she has more possessions than her one bedroom apartment can hold. We're sorting through, keeping the things that really matter and giving the rest to charity. It's not an easy task, but making the rooms open, airy, and filled with heart and function has been good for both of us. I keep thinking of it as a 4-month episode of “Clean Sweep”. Perhaps I could get my own show on HGTV or TLC… Hmmmm.

Well, I can't really think of anything else to write about, other than Champs and I are so grateful to God for this opportunity with my new job. It really will revolutionize our lives. Every day that I'm away, I just imagine what it will be like to get up in the morning, get Sweet Girl ready for school and then go to the guest room to log in and begin my day at work! Truly, it is that vision that gets me through everyday, until I can go home and have me, Champs and Sweet Girl together again.

Here are the comments for this post:
kenju said...
I'm glad you are enjoying you time there. When you finish, will you come here and help me pare down a 25 year accumulation?

Paul said...
Hey you. It's been some time since you and I have communicated. I know you're busy and all that. Stop by. I posted another picture of myself. You'll have to scroll, but you'll see it. No, it's not the one of Kermit.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Freeway Flirt?

Now that I'm here, Mom has been giving me rides to work each day, which I greatly appreciate. I have to admit, though, that after nearly a year away, I've forgotton how it can be to drive in real traffic. Every time I hear a Champaign resident complain about the traffic, I chuckle to myself and think, "You don't know JACK about traffic!" This week has proven my point. The gridlock today was especially henious; all four lanes of the highway were moving at a snail's pace.

On the way home, Mom's car started to overheat a bit so we opened the windows and turned off the air conditioner. Normally, I wouldn't drive with the windows open on the highway, but 88 degrees and slow moving traffic convinced me it wasn't a problem. As we were inching alone, I looked back at Sweet Girl sitting in the back looking a bit bored. I flashed her the "I love you!" sign, but she didn't see it. So I turned my head toward the back seat and loudly called out (remember, we were in traffic with the windows open), "hi Cutie!".

I no sooner had the words out of my mouth when my mom started giggling. I asked her what was so funny and she discretely pointed to the car next to us - and to the older gentleman driving with his window open, grinning from ear to ear. Apparently, I had just made his day.

I'm a freeway flirt! Who knew?

Comments from this post:
Geekwif said...
Too funny!
So, out of curiosity, is there a reason one should not drive with one's windows open on the freeway? Because my windows are always open in the summer, no matter what kind of road I'm driving on. With no a/c, I don't think I could stand it otherwise.

kenju said...
Aw, I'll bet he bragged to anyone who'd listen!

Linda said...
Sounds like you did a random act of kindness!
Didn't realize you were in Champaign (is that where you reside, or where you're training?), cuz I have a friend for you and sweet girl (about the same age, I think!)
Drivers have no clue how bad it really is until they drive Atlanta or DC...and I really think Atlanta is worse than any other place. I did the 4 year commute there....never again!

Shannin said...
OK, get real. Minneapolis traffic is NOTHING compared to Los Angeles traffic. Trust me on this. Of course, the worst traffic is a Sunday afternoon between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. I will fall on my knees to see the "real" traffic in MSP...

5:34 PM
Bec said...
You asked, "Who knew?" Was that a joke? Because I thought EVERYONE knew. At least you weren't wearing your "Pentecostal Preacher's Wife All Bathed in Purity" outfit or you would have been giving mixed signals. Ah, the joy of a double life. Ha ha.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my mom's birthday. I've always joked that she can't lie about her age. She was 30 when I was born. I'll be 42 on my next birthday (ye gads!) so that makes her "72 years YOUNG!", as she likes to say. I think that's a pretty good label. I mean, she is 72 and has some of the inevitable slowing down to go along with it, but she's also very spry and full of life. Her favorite thing is to be everyone's friend and grandma. In fact, her nickname at her apartment complex is "Grandma Bobbi" and everyone here stops me to tell me what a sweetheart my mom is. Pretty cool, huh?

When Mom got pregnant with me in the wee hours of 1965 (or the waning days of 1964), she was a living example of the 60's riddle "what do you call a woman who misses the the pill one day? Mom!". At the time, she had three kids, the youngest of whom was 5 years old. She'd given away all her baby paraphernalia (against the advice of my aunts who predicted a pregnancy if she did so) and determined that her baby days were over, much to the relief of her doctor who told her she wasn't supposed to have any. more. babies. Ever. Needless to say, I was a bit of a surprise. Even though I was the classic "oops" baby, my parents never made me feel like a mistake. My mom, especially, told me over and over through the years how happy she was to have me. When the other three went out on her own, she was so glad not to have an empty nest... and told me all the time.

Back in 1989 when I was in my first year of bible college, I wrote Mom a poem for Mother's Day. I didn't have any money, but I had a friend in typesetting who printed the poem up with a lovely font and flowers (I went to Bethany College and worked at Bethany House Publishers, home of the "Love Comes Softly" series) and I'd found a pretty frame to put it in. What was true in 1989 is even more applicable today (especially since I have the daughter I wrote about 11 years before she was born), so I figured I would post the poem here as a birthday tribute to my mom.

Tender Hands

From the first day of my infancy
the dearest love I've ever known
has been one of gentle nurturing
which the kindest hands have sown.

These hands plowed a ground hard with folly
fallow from my earliest days
For Love's hard work has carefully sought
to break the ground and soften my ways.

With every gentle word Love spoke
with each unselfish deed
tender hands have reached out to plant
their promise in a seed.

Through many years and heartaches,
with laughter and with prayers,
diligently these hands have worked
to protect the promise from the tares.

As the years have passed, Love's watched me grow
to see the fruit I'll bear
and when you look at me closely you'll see
imprints of tender hands there.

As I am growing older,
Love's work is almost done.
The promise implanted in the seed
is who I have become.

Someday, it will be my hands
that plant a garden with godly fear.
And I will plant Love's promise seeds
in a little one so dear.

And as that child grows in love,
and the promise in her stands,
may I become to her what my dear mother is to me,
God's most loving pair of hands.

May 14, 1989

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Whoa baby, it's hot out here!

Well, Sweet Girl and I are in Minneapolis for the beginning of our 5 week (for Sweet Girl), 4 month (for me) odessey. Our flight went PERFECTLY - aside from the fact that we had to leave home on my husband's birthday. So much for giving him a present, huh? Sweet Girl has never flown before, so a short commuter flight from Chicago-Midway airport to Minneapolis was just the right amount of time her a first foray into the world of air travel. Now that we're here, we're caught up in the whirlwind of going to our old church and seeing old friends. In fact, I am typing this entry out on my friend's laptop. Sweet Girl is playing with Snow White upstairs and we will soon have to call them down for a pizza lunch. We're staying inside where we are safe from the imminent danger of melting. It's something like 96 degrees and 98% humidity right now. We should be getting a storm here pretty quick. I start back at The Big Company tomorrow morning. There's so much going on right now that my mind is spinning. The biggest thing I can say at this moment is that I'm glad to see my mom... and oh, my goodness, do I miss Champs!!!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Blond Girl is in the house... for a couple more days, anyway

I'm not sure how many people will see this post; I am certain all my readers have given up on me and I can't blame them. However, I think I will soon be back to blogging. If not to keep friends and family posted, then just to keep my sanity.

As I've mentioned in the past, this has been a difficult year for us--especially financially. For me personally, it has been a year of identity crises. Who am I? What is my role in this world, this family, this town? I am beginning to learn some of the answers. I won't be sharing them tonight, but it will be coming.

No, tonight's blog is basically a newscast. Here's the big news: Since we moved here to Illinois, I've missed working for The Big Company and we have missed the income. Since we've moved here, I've often said "I want to live in Illinois and work in Minnesota! If only we had transporter technology..."

Guess what? God hears prayers and answers in unexpected ways! I won't have a transporter to use but... I have been asked to return to The Big Company and been offered a job as an Advanced Service Representative. I start on Monday, July 9. It's a step down in terms of my band level when I left Minnesota, but it's a huge step forward for our lives here in Illinois - and now that I'm back, I can work my way back up again. The best part is, I will be working from home as a virtual employee! Not only that, but I will continue working occasionally for my current (previous, as of Thursday) employer on a freelance basis. Cool, huh?

This answer to prayer couldn't have come at a better time and we are amazed at the hand of God on our behalf. Our lease is up soon and we were planning to move to a smaller home to save money - but having a hard time finding something that would meet our needs as nicely as the home we're renting now. However, now that I'm returning to The Big Company, we will be able to stay right here - no move, and a lot of stability for Sweet Girl. This is a wonderful thing because this new job comes at a bit of a price: I have to go back to Minneapolis for four months or so of training and then I'll come back home to be a virtual employee.

When I go to Minnesota on Saturday, Sweet Girl will go with me for a few weeks before school starts so that she can spend some time with Grandma and see some friends she's been missing for awhile. When school starts, she'll be back home with Daddy while I remain in Minneapolis to complete my training. Along the way, we're hoping for a few chances to see each other, as money and long weekends permit.

Although we're not looking forward to such a long separation, we know this is going to be a wonderful advancement for the family. I am already working to school my emotions to get through this... Looking toward the prize four months down the line. Please feel free to leave comments or say prayers for us. We are so thankful... and I have so much to do to be ready to go!

Here are some comments from this post:
kenju said...
I have NOT given up on you BG! I was reading through some comments on old posts just today and saw one of yours. I wondered how you were doing and here you are! Welcome back, if only for a few times. Good luck with the new job and with the separation. I'll add you to my prayer list.

Star said...
A scrifice for sure, but one that will bring you all many benefits. Good news indeed.

Geekwif said...
Woo hoo! I get you back! (if only for a few months) I know it's going to be hard for you to be away from your family, but you've got friends here who'll do what we can to keep you sane. (Think bead and consignment shopping with that new bigger paycheck of yours.) :)

Thumper said...
:::Does the wave::: Awesome!
(and I still check everyday to see if ya got a new post...I figured you were busy with Real Life...)

Carmi said...
I would never give up on you. My own career wild ride has forced me to stop reading my fave blogs for a bit, but I could never forget you or your writing.
I'm thrilled that this opportunity has found you. I believe good things happen to good people, and you've been long overdue for a lot of good things. I couldn't be happier for you, and I can't wait to read more about your amazing adventure.
Think of the stories you'll tell in the years to come.
Oh, before I forget: I'm now one of those virtual work-at-home types. If I can be of any help when you settle into your new role, let me know.