Yes, this is the Blond Girl - finally - checking in. And yes, you've read the title correctly. I've been in Minneapolis now for 18 weeks and 4 days. I sent my last update at 8.3 weeks, and a lot has happened in the last 10 weeks. Rather than write an overwhelming description, here are a few of the highlights:
* On September 22, I worked all day with Paddy (my brother), Guitar Man (my other brother), and Guitar Man's wife, 2 sons, niece and my niece’s boyfriend to get my mom moved from a second floor apartment to a first floor apartment in different building of the same complex. I had worked for three weeks prior to the move to get all Mom's stuff sorted and boxed and my family made quick (though tiring!) work of getting it all moved across the compound. It was hilarious to see her dining room table turned upside down and strapped to a dolly to form a large moving dolly. I'll tell you what - those guys were pretty ingenious. It took another week and a half after the move to get Mom all settled in, but when she came home from Arizona (she'd been visiting my sister, TechnoGoddess, my niece, and my new baby grand-nephew Adam), she was all settled into her new apartment.
* The move didn't go altogether smoothly, however. The landlord and I did have quite a go-around about who assumes responsibility to pay for repairing brand-new carpet when it is damaged because the painters hired to repaint the apartment left a full can of brown paint on the upper shelf of the closet... without the cover tamped down, and the new tenant spilled said paint, not realizing the can was uncovered. Let's just say that we didn't pay anything for the needed repairs.
* In October I finished my final leg of classroom customer service training. Now I know more than I ever thought I needed to know about trading options. Of course, that doesn't mean that I know how to choose the options to trade, only that I know how to enter the order. Margin, put, call, buy to close, underlying security ... I speak a new language. Now I’m just looking forward to the day when I have enough money to actually invest in the stock market, not just work in it.
* On October 9, Champs and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, we could not be together that day, which was very hard for both of us. Anniversaries past have found us with no extra money, celebrating at home, but we've always been together. This year we spent time together online, talking on the webcam. Not exactly the heights of romance, but it had to do for the day.
* Now, we may not have been able to be together on our anniversary, but we did still get to celebrate. On the 19th of October, Champs and Sweet Girl flew into Minneapolis. It was so good to see them! After a family dinner at Champs' favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Mom took Sweet Girl home for a night with Grandma while Champs and I went off to a local Hilton Garden Inn. We had two nights while Sweet Girl had a night with Grandma and then a fun day and night with our good friends, K & K and their daughter, Snow White. Snow White is Sweet Girl's best friend and is always at the top of the “to visit” list when she's here in Minnesota. Champs and I had a wonderful time at the hotel and then spent the next two days with Sweet Girl, playing games, snuggling and generally just taking it easy. I took them back to the airport on Tuesday. It's never been fun to drop your loved ones off at the airport, but I do wish we could still go into the concourse to stay with them until boarding time and watch their plane leave. As it was, leaving them at the sidewalk check-in was the hardest thing to do. I think the larger part of my heart got on the plane back to Illinois that day and I haven't gotten it back yet.
* A couple of weekends ago, I had the joy of helping my best friend Geekwif, and her husband, The Geek, move into their new home. They've been working toward this goal for years, and started the process of buying their land and building about a year ago. To finally step into the mudroom of their home and see all new appliances, perfectly placed flooring, freshly painted rooms and vast expanses of windows gave me a wonderful sense of fulfillment. Now, if I could feel that way, just being the friend, I can only imagine how exciting it is for Geekwif and The Geek. Their new home is in St. Criox Falls, Wisconsin, just south of the St. Croix River. The land is hilly and beautiful. I've never thought of myself as anything other than a big city gal, but if I were to ever become a willing small-town girl, I would want it to be a beautiful river city like that.
* We had a shift bid at work and I got my first shift choice. On December 3rd, I will start working from 6:00 a.m. to 2:30 each day. It's early, but it will leave me home for when Sweet Girl gets off school each day. I can't wait to be home working this schedule. Of course, starting that early will not be fun here in Minnesota. I'll be leaving for work by 5:20 each day. Ug.
* Of course, I don't have it as hard as Champs! He just started a new job working as a route sales driver for a linen supply company. His job starts at 4:30 or 5:00 everyday. I think he's going to be really happy at the job and I'm really pleased that he got it. That said, the one who has it hardest is Sweet Girl. She goes to Grandma Grandma NeeNee's each night and spends the night there so Grandma can take her to school, then goes to daycare after school until Daddy gets home. They have just a few hours together until it's time for him to take her to Grandma's again. We are so glad that Grandma NeeNee is there for Sweet Girl and we are beyond grateful that she can help us this way. I have to admit, though, that I wish I could read a story to Sweet Girl and she could go to bed in her room each night. I crave the stability of both parents at home for her. I am grateful for Champs and Sweet Girl having strong family support now... but I miss being a part of their lives.
* Speaking of Geekwif, she got me to sign up for NaNoWriMo, the nickname for "National Novel Writing Month", which takes place each November. The idea is to write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. I wanted to try to write a romance. I have characters, a story, a plot... but not many words. I walk the halls at work writing sentences in my head, but I haven't been writing on the computer. Instead, I've been focusing on learning as much as I can about my job during the day and missing my family the rest of the time. Sounds so darn pitiful, doesn't it?
* Now we're halfway through November. And I am out of events to write about. All I have left is this: I.Want.To.Go.Home. I'm not sure how soon that will happen. It seems like each time I turn around, another person asks me what day I'm going home. I don't have a date yet. I wanted so badly to fly home for Thanksgiving when Champs got his new job, but I have to work the day after Thanksgiving and I was unable to negotiate getting that day off. Now I'm just doing my best to get my metrics and quality measurements up to speed so that I can go home. I'm hopeful that I can go home by the second or third week in December. I would write about the emotions that I stuff each day; the longing to be a mom again, the empty ache of wanting to cook dinner for my family, say goodnight prayers with Sweet Girl and wake up next to Champs in the morning. I would write about it, but it is easier just to hold it in.
So there it is; my latest update. I guess the last paragraph explains best why I haven't written in so long. I can't always stay upbeat and happy; it's easier to keep quiet and do what I need to do to get my training done and get back to my family. This experience has left me with a new appreciation for military families and what they go through during deployment. Both of my brothers-in-law, Motor and Tank, have been deployed overseas and to tell the truth, it is largely their encouragement and example that have helped me to see that I am doing the right thing for my family when it is hard to go on for missing them. I will make it, and I will be a successful employee once I am home. This is a good thing for my family and we are blessed by God's hand in all of it. We are immensely grateful for the help of our friends and family, especially the help we've received taking care of Sweet Girl.
I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. I'll write another Blond Girl update when I either have more fun news or I know when I'm going home.