Monday, September 1, 2008

Dead in the Kitchen

As I sit here to write this, I am listening to my husband put laundry away. Laundry that I washed, but not at home. Laundry that I washed at our local SuperSudz. All I want - and NOT for Christmas (I can't wait that long!) is a reliable washer and dryer. I want my kitchen to be a place where things get clean, not where things die. I've been trying, really...

You see, it goes like this:

In 2006, just after we sold our house in preperation for moving to IL, we purchased a used Maytag washer and dryer for $50.00 from my co-worker at The Big Company. It was a great deal and the machines worked great. We used them at the rental where we lived for 8 months until the big move to Illinois and we've used them since we got here.

Until recently.

A couple of months ago, the washer begin walking. Now, you expect a child to start walking. You
do not expect your washer to walk. Loudly. And shake. Extensively. Like Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show, shaking his hips and walking across the stage on his toes, holding the mike stand for balance. Rythmic entertainment aside, I knew this couldn't be good.

I called out a local appliance repairman and paid him $28.00 for the privelege of learning the machine was terminally ill and would die; it was only a matter of time. He did tell me that I could continue to use it until the end. It was listening. The machine died a watery death on our kitchen floor just two days later. Champs quickly pulled the washer out of the laundry closet so we could clean. OK, hw pulled out the washer, the dryer and the fridge so we could clean water up from every corner of that kitchen. Snaps to the ShopVac!

After a week of laundromat lingo, We went to Craigslist, where we found a washer listed for $75.00. The seller was offering a money back guarantee for 30 days, so we went for it. Champs brought it home on August 10th, hooked it up and I started washing. The first load was good. The second was a bit, um, noisy. By the next day, it was apparent this machine was just not spinning or draining properly. The third day, Champs opened the machine to find out that the water pump was shot. You got it - another machine died a watery death on our kitchen floor. Helllooooo ShopVac!

It took some time, but we did get our $75.00 back from the seller. Meanwhile, we went back to Craigslist, where we found a full set - the washer and dryer - for $75.00 but with no guarantee. We tried one more time and brought them home on August 17th. We're having a garage sale in a couple of weeks, so we figured on selling the dryer to hopefully help get some of our money back. I also found out that we can take the dead washers to the local metal scrap yard and get paid for the steel in the machine. Even in death, a Maytag is worth something. Anyway, Champs hooked up the third machine to be in our kitchen in less than a month.

I did laundry in this Maytag for 4 days and all was well except for the tiniest little leak. On day 5, however, in the middle of dinner, the machine began to squeal. To whine. To loudly scream that it would not go quietly into that good night. It smoked, rattled and came to a dead stop. That was on August 21 and since then I have spent every Saturday at the laundromat washing my clothes and wishing I was home.

We're done trying Craigslist. We're done with used machines. We can't afford new ones right now. I'll report back in about a week though - we've got something in the works. I hope so, anyway.

I don't think I can take another Saturday listening to people argue with themselves over the rinse cycle.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Will He Ever Learn?

I swear I do not understand the male of the species.

What is it that gives them such boundless optimism that they will get their way regardless of how their woman feels about it? Why is it that they will push and push, trying repeatedly to get what they want but you don't want to give, especially in the bedroom? Never mind the fact that from the very first time you share your bed with them, you make it clear what is your space and what is their space.

I did. I made it clear: "I will give you all the lovin' you crave when I'm awake, but don't go waking me up just to meet your needs, buster." And most of all, I made it abundantly, consistently, clear that he would never be welcomed there.

And yet the male persists. Optimistic and pesky, he looks to his woman for the attention and gratification he seeks, regardless of how she may feel about it.

And so, at four o'clock this morning, after trying to fend off his advances, I finally had enough and just kicked him out of my bed.

Stupid cat. When will Gus learn that I am never going to share my pillow?

Some comments from this post:
Geekwif said...
Well, I suspect you accomplished what you set out to do. I was thinking, "Oh, dear lord, she has gone too far. I really don't want to know that."
I should have known, shouldn't I?

Thumper said...
Just when I was thinking, "punch him in the nads once and he'll never do it again..."
Gus probably doesn't even have his anymore and it wouldn't deter him anyway. Max is just like that...

David said...
funny, every time i read it, thanks.
Today I kayaked for 2 hours on our lake. It was glorious. Soon I get a massage for my sore muscles…. Life is good

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Will the real Blond Girl please stand up?

Have you ever gone so far from who you were previously that you have trouble finding the old person in the midst of the new? That is me. I've been walking through a two year identity crises that began when I packed up everything I ever knew of life in Minnesota, quit the job I loved and moved here to Illinois. I haven't written much lately because I keep thinking about the gaps - how much I've missed writing and how to bridge the Blond Girl who wrote everyday to the Blond Girl who spent the first 18 months in a new state putting out fires to this new Blond Girl who is finally setting out to create a new, permanent identity here.

So, instead I'll put it up for a vote. If I am still on any blog rolls or Typepads, I guess someone will see that I've finally written. And if they do see it, it should be someone who used to faithfully read my rants, ravings, and revelations and who I used to read in return. In anycase, I will leave it to your comments. I've been gone awhile. I'm interested in starting again, but I don't know where to start. So, if you have any suggestions on where to start or any questions on where to begin, then please leave me a comment. I will listen.

I promise.

Some comments from this post:
Thumper said...
Just pick a point and start writing again. Maybe "Since the episode of Blond Girl..."

Geekwif said...
"Once upon a time..."? ;-)
You are still the same Blond Girl you always were; you're just seeing life from a different perspective now. I look forward to reading more about the view from your new vantage point. Whatever you choose to focus on, I'm sure it will be wonderful.

Star said...
Start now. And write for yourself. Not anyone else.

JaneB said...
If you need a question, what about telling us what are the good things about your new situation, what's improved or changed in a way that you like just as much as you like the way it was before?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Baby, I need to tell you something....

If you are a Veggie-Tales fan, then you know the next line: "I ain't got a belly button. Belly button no, no, no... No belly button." If you're not into Veggie-Tales, then you think I am merely quoting a child's song.

Here's the thing: It's not just a song. It's reality. I no longer have a belly button - a fact that I am still trying to come to terms with that. You see, when I had my fourth hernia repair on March 11, the doctor did a relatively new procedure called a "component separation" that is designed to remove the mid-line tendon from the abdomen (because
it just keeps shredding over and over). In my case, however, I already had gore-tex mesh over a previous hernia repair. During the last surgery, I also had abdominal reconstruction to remove all the skin left over from my weight loss. As part of the operation, the surgeon moved and tightened my belly button. I began calling it my "$25,000 belly button."

This time, I had a hernia above and below the umbilicus. With the removal of the mesh and the herniation, the surgeon couldn't save the belly button and sewed up over it. He explained that if he had left it there, it would have died from reduced blood supply. Just call me Eve. Both my mom and my M-I-L have said that I should just have a new one tattooed on. I've thought it might be funny to have it pierced. I'll probably just leave it there. If you had asked me when I was younger what my last expectation of my life would be, I wouldn't have even said, "to end my life without a belly button." The thought was pretty much inconceivable to me. And though a belly button isn't really necessary to life and happiness, I still wish I had one. Can't tell you why - just wish I did.

And that's my song.

Here are some comments from this post:
kenju said...
You know what? There are worse things to be without!! I know what you mean, though. I am missing about 1/4 of my left big toe - and I'd really like to have it back.

Thumper said...
I would totally got for the tattoo...

Carola... said...
who needs belly buttons anyway. I mean seriously - if your a guy they a generally hairy and collector or mass creator of belly lint. If your a girl and your prone to be sweaty - its a watering hole for your belly, and if not, its just another void to clean on the random occasion to stop it 'developing a smell'. And - if you don't bare your midriff, its not going to become a tourist attraction. And if you do - you could [like Thumper said] get it tattoed back on - but in a different place - and pierced in the place it would've been had it still been there. Now that would make me stop and want to ask questions! I could write other random things for you to do or say or think about to distract the attention your lack of belly button has brought upon you as i'm sure I would probably also miss mine too if it were gone [almost lost mine due to a Hernia operation too! Coincidence much? Mine now makes a smile underneath where my button is... hahah!].
I hope that you find something else to put your finger in - or other.
Dropped by to say hi [as your on my list of regular reading that I sadly rarely get read! What is this 'Life'! Bah! :)]

David said...
BB transplant?
if/ when I die i am an organ donor: My heart, liver, kidneys whatever they can recycle. why don't I add belly button to the list and you can have mine?
hee hee
God Bless you

Saturday, April 12, 2008

That Rare Day...

A really nice, unexpected thing happened today.

I had lunch with my husband.

A long, unfettered lunch where we laughed and enjoyed pizza, salad and each other's company.

I'm sure this sounds like no thing, but you must understand that in the course of our "normal" lives, this just doesn't happen hardly ever. Champs is a route sales driver and leaves the house around 4:30 a.m. every day, then drives 45 minutes to Bloomington/Normal to complete his route. Then he heads back to Champaign to unload the product he's picked up and reload his van for the next day. Lunch is always on the road and the stopping part of it lasts only long enough to drag out his wallet and pay for it. I, on the other hand, am normally on the phone from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 each day with a scant half-hour for lunch around 10:45 in the morning. If we go to lunch on the weekend, it is a family affair sandwiched in between errands. You can see that our schedules are more conducive to the occasional phone call rather than lunch.

Today, however, two things were different. First, I am on medical leave. I didn't have to be on the phone nor did I have any appointments to go to, and surprisingly I wasn't filled with the pressing need to frantically clean everything in sight (tomorrow is Saturday, after all). Champs, on the other hand, had made good time and was heading back to our town around 11:45 in the morning. The truck that brings each day's product to load was running late, so Champs decided to take a rare break and stop for a lunch that lasted longer than 5 minutes.

We decided to meet at our favorite local pizza parlor for this unexpected treat. We talked about soccer, coaching, Sweet Girl, customers and who knows what else. To be honest, I barely remember what we talked about and none of it was all that important. What was important is that we ate, talked, laughed and... connected. We sat for more than an hour. No fancy clothes, no high-priced bill, no after-dinner drink and no baby sitter bill, but I have to say that it was a rare day...

And one of the best dates I've been on in ages.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

13 Things About Blond Girl Lately

Yeah, I've been away for awhile. So, here's 13 things to catch you up on all things blond...

1. I surprised myself by really falling for my car. I really wanted to buy an import, but financially, we chose to go with a 2007 Chevrolet Malibu executive lease return. It had about 7000 miles on it when we got it and we've put about 1000 on it since then. Enough for me to find out that while you don't need a V6 engine or bells and whistles such as steering wheel mounted stereo controls or a moon roof, they sure do make the trip fun. Oh yeah, I like my car.

2. On March 10, I had two appointments to prep for surgery the next day. I found out that the anemia I have ignored for the last 5 years had finally gotten bad. So bad that the surgeon refused to operate the next day unless I agreed to spend the night in the hospital getting two blood transfusions. Well, after everything I had done to prep for the operation and medical leave authorization, I wasn't about to miss my surgery. I left the emergency room at 3:30 a.m. and reported to the surgery center at 7:30 a.m. After all that, they sent me to a hematologist to get to the bottom of the anemia. Well, here's something I didn't know: if you've had a gastric bypass like mine, the portion of your body that absorbs iron is gone. All the doctors who had told me to take iron weren't helping at all. So, a week after surgery, I went in for another all day IV infusion, this time of iron instead of blood. Not exactly fun, but this will replenish my body's iron stores for 12-18 months before I need another treatment. I can already tell that I'm beginning to make more red blood cells. I have more energy and I'm not as cold as I have been for the last two years. And... I've stopped chewing on ice. So, that's all good. Nice to leave anemia behind.

3. And that leaves the surgery I mentioned. On March 11 I had my fourth (yes, fourth) ventral hernia repair. I think this one may be a (hopefully) permanent repair. The long explanation would take too long and be too boring to give, but basically, the plastic surgeon removed the mid-line tendon from my abdomen, joining the muscle bodies together. You might say that, instead of a six pack, I now have a three pack!

4. So, due to the surgery, I've been on medical leave and I will be until April 21. The funny thing about medical leave is, you think you'll do all this cool stuff. The reality is, it's medical leave. You pretty much commune with your sofa. That's about it. Wow, I forgot how comfortable this throw pillow and blanket are....

5. Which, of course, means that I've seen more TV than a person should. I really hate network daytime TV, so that means that I have seen just about every design show ever made by HGTV - and I can pretty much quote all the commercials word for word, ad nauseam. I think I'm glad I'm going back to work soon.

6. Not that I haven't gotten anything done. I have done our taxes and dropped them in the mail. It is interesting earning money in one state and living in another, but I got it all figured out. All hail Turbo-tax. Huzzah (pbbblllt).

7. It's about time, I guess. I'm 42 so I finally signed up for the Big Boob Squeeze. The TaTa Tango. Yes, I went in last week for my ma-ma-mammograb! In spite of my jocular attitude, I do feel strongly that it is an important test for all women to take. My mother-in-law, GranDee, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, making the test all that more relevant. It wasn't all that bad, really. For all the talk you hear about how much the squeezing hurts, that's not that bad. The part that hurt was the pressure of the machine against my sternum - and it didn't last that long. I got my "happy letter" today; I'm good for another year and I can focus on helping GranDee with her fight. I'll be back at Boobie-central next year for another test and every year after that. Yes, it's that important.

8. Tomorrow I'm taking my kitten, Jack, in for a very overdue neuter appointment. In fact, the way he's been acting lately, I don't think we can call him a kitten any longer. I should have had him neutered when he was around six months old, but I didn't have the money at that time. Now he follows Gus around, smelling his butt and hoping that he has somehow miraculously transformed from a tom into a queen since the last time he checked. It has, understandably, ticked off Gus to the breaking point. It will be nice to have them stop fighting, though I'm sure it will take awhile for the testosterone to leave Jack's body.

8. Speaking of testosterone leaving the cat's body, have you ever tried to explain neutering to a 7 year-old girl? It's a trip that goes something like this: "what's neuter, Mom?" "Well, honey, Jack's body has some glands in it that cause him to fight with Gus and defend his territory like he does. So, the doctor will make Jack go to sleep for a little while and take those glands out so that he behaves better. It is called neutering the cat." "Oh. OK. Where are the glands?" "See the little puffballs under his tail? Right there." "OOoooohhhhh. Ug!"
End of conversation.

9. I am desperate to get my hair cut. Instead, I'm having the cat's, um, puffballs cut. I can only afford one or the other right now. Oh well, I may look shaggy, but I am sure my carpets and Gus will thank me for my sacrifice.

10. I think my 7 year-old daughter has been hanging around the boys in her class too much. Why, you ask? Because she's been taking much joy in passing gas lately - and then demurely, delicately saying "excuse me!" all the time she has a gleam in her eye. She's having a hard time understanding that excusing herself is negated when she breaks wind on purpose. Tonight when she did it and excused herself I said, "I guess so, Miss Tootie Brain!" - and that's how Sweet Girl has come up with another nickname.

11. Has anyone else watched "Step it Up and Dance"? I like the show, but I cannot wait until Miguel goes home... he's just too full of himself!

12. Why are the last two items for the Thursday Thirteen the hardest to write? Auugh! I could write about my on-going identity crisis, but I've alluded to it for months and managed not to write about it, so why break a streak now?

13. Oh! I saved the best piece of news for last. When I met Champs, he was a soccer coach for the park district here in town, which he loved. He was with the same team for 6 or 7 seasons and he really loved coaching. He gave it up to move to Minneapolis and marry me. Once we started working and making a family, there just wasn't time for him to coach again. When we moved here, we had to focus on finding jobs and getting ourselves situated here. Now that things are more settled with jobs and finances, Champs has decided to return to coaching. The season has started, so it was too late for him to start as a head coach. He is assistant coaching a team, but will bid for head coach next season. It is so wonderful to see him back in the thick of what he loves. I am happy for him and proud of him and that's why this is my best update.

Blond Girl out. Night night!

And the comment from this post:
kenju said...
I am sorry that you had to have more surgery, BG, and glad to know you had a mammogram. Mine is scheduled for this Wed. Good for Champs for getting back into coaching!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jack Finds His Voice

We have a new cat in our family, named Jack. He was born on Mother's day and I got him in August when he was a tiny ball of fluff, thinking that he would make a great companion for our 1.5 year-old cat, Gus. Jack was a very quiet little guy. When I was staying with my mom, I hardly ever heard him meow. The day I took him to the vet for his vaccinations and travel papers, he didn't make a peep.

When we got home from the vet, his back was sticky with lidocaine gel they used to numb his skin to implant his microchip so I decided to give him a bath. It turned out to be the only time he ever got loud. I have NEVER heard a cat scream like that! It was obvious he was saying that he did not like water. I gave him his bath in the apartment building's laundry room. My mom could hear it in her apartment. A neighbor came to see what the ruckus was. He was LOUD. After the bath, he went back to silence. In fact, the day we came home, he meowed once when we got in the car and didn't make another sound through the airport, the plane and the shuttle ride.

And then we got home.

And Jack met Gus.

And Jack found his voice.

Right away when we got home, I put Jack, still in his carrier, on my bed. I thought I had safely closed the door, but Champs followed me into the room and, without realizing what was at stake, left the door open. I didn't realize until it was too late. Gus came into our room, jumped up onto the bed and walked directly to the cat carrier. Remember the scream I described when I bathed Jack? Yeah, he did that. Terrifyingly. Loudly. Repeatedly. Pressed to translate, I think it meant something along the lines of "hey, no one told me there was going to be a huge cat here! I'm stuck in a bag! I can't defend myself! Get rid of it!"

We quickly separated the cats and got Jack calmed down. That night we kept Jack in our room and Gus had the run of the entire house. You would have thought they would have wanted to stay apart, but instead they spent the night just 8 inches apart with only our door between them. And they discussed the situation. Loudly. In detail. All. Night. Long. Both cats meowed and hissed until I was ready to give them away. Determined not to go through another night like that, we introduced them the next day.

The next night, both cats were banned from our room and had the run of the house. Didn't help. They went from hissing and yelling at each other through the door to doing it outside our door. Loudly.

Now, almost a month after we came home, Jack and Gus have made friends. Things have calmed down. And Jack, amazingly enough, is still talking.

My formerly quiet kitten has turned into a lippy teen. Believe it or not, I know what he is saying most of the time. Here is a short list of Jack speak:

* A quiet "mmmm. mmmm. mmmm." means "here I am Mommy."
* A quiet "mmmm? mmmm? mmmm?" means "will you pretty please scratch my tummy?"
* A medium "meeeeraow?" means "where are you Gus?"
* A loud "Meeraow!" means "please make Sweet Girl put me down!"
* A really loud "Mawl! MawL!" means "I'm gonna take you down, Gus!"

And, oh yeah: An ear-splitting scream still means "I TOLD YOU ONCE I DON'T LIKE BATHS!"

Comments on this post:
Thumper said...
At least they made friends. My two tolerate each other, but there's no love lost between them. Buddah recently realized he's as big as Max, so the dominance struggles have begun, and I get to hear alllllll about it from Max, who has no problem with complaining.
They really are like teenagers...

kenju said...
Too funny! I have one cat who never made a sound until this year. Somehow I think he didn't know he could until recently...LOL
Now he meows at every turn. The other one doesn't meow, but he says "huh"...although it sounds more like "eerk" every morning when I wake up.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

20 Compulsive Days

Well folks, I am home. In fact, tomorrow it will be three weeks since I stepped off the plane and I can barely believe how much I've done - and have yet to do - since getting back. I've been asked for one last note to put a cap on my time away and tie up the loose ends. Who am I to decline? I wanted to write a pithy, cute accounting of all that has happened since I got home, but I have failed so far. It took me 12 days to finally come up for air long enough to start an e-mail and another 8 days to give up my adorable metaphorical approach and just write the darn thing, already. "Why?" you ask. Because my inner control freak has gotten in the way. For those of you who are "Friends" fans, just know that Champs likes to call me Monica.

After 6 months of staying with my mom, who graciously let me stay and even put up with some of my organizing and homemaking activities, it is nice to be back where I can control how neat and clean everything is. When I got home, one of the first things I said to Champs was not to take it personally if he saw me going nuts cleaning the house; this didn't mean that I thought he did a poor job of caring for things while I was gone; it meant that all I could see was what I hadn't done for six months. Thankfully, he understands my own personal compulsive-organizational needs, so just nodded and got out of the way. I think I might have heard him say "yes, Monica" under his breath as he walked away. So far I've torn apart our family room, the kitchen, the linen closet, the DVD cabinet and the food storage. And I'm just getting started. This last weekend alone I had a list of 10 projects to complete. Yes, I know, I'm sick.

However, I haven't only organized. I have spent untold hours just huddling in with my hubby and my daughter. We've cooked, ate, played, talked, tickled, sang and just sat quietly with each other. I'm finally getting to the point of wanting to get out and around town. Up until now, I've just been happy to be home.

I do have some highlights to share with you all.

Coming home on January 17, my motto was "I am woman, hear me whimper". My brother picked up Sweet Girl and me at Grandma's and took us to the airport. It was Robert Benchley who said "In America there are two classes of travel - first class, and with children." I believe I have added a third class – with a child and a cat and a couple of items. You see, my brother picked up not just us; but also our rolling suitcase, rolling duffel bag, two Rubbermaid totes, rolling carry-on case, booster seat, Sweet Girl's backpack and the cat carrier. All I can say there is, Thank God for curbside check-in! Perhaps I should have listened to the advice of Susan Heller who said "When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money." OK, yeah, but she probably wasn't bringing home six months worth of stuff, either!

Our kitten, Jack, traveled like a pro, hardly meowing once all day (in stark contrast to Gus, who meowed his protests all the way to IL in 2006, even though he was drugged for the trip), and Sweet Girl was a gem all day. Why travel with a cat? Well, according to Ernest Hemingway, "One cat just leads to another." I got Jack in Minneapolis and I couldn’t very well leave him behind! When we got to Chicago, I over-loaded a "Smarte Carte" with our luggage and negotiated my way through the airport, Sweet Girl trailing along. I must admit that I got a number of raised eyebrows as I pushed the carte from baggage claim to the loading zone, all the while trying to keep everything stacked, the cat from tumbling and Sweet Girl from introducing herself – and the cat – to all the other travelers in the place. I got us to the Lex Express shuttle for the two-part trip to Champaign in time and collapsed for the three-hour trip. Champs picked us up around 5:30 and we were finally, blessedly home. Even though everything went off without a hitch, I was still exhausted from the responsibility of getting our stuff and the three of us home safely.

One funny moment: Before I left Minneapolis, I bought a soft-sided leather cat carrier for Jack – you can see it on the right at the top of the Smarte Carte pile in the picture. When Champs picked us up at the bus terminal, it was horribly cold and we'd been outside waiting for almost 10 minutes. He was in a hurry to get everything loaded and get us out of the cold. He packed up the car as quickly as possible - perhaps a mite too quickly, since he thought the bag he tossed into the trunk was a small duffel bag, until I said, "Honey, that's the cat!” Poor Jack had landed on his side - and still didn't complain. Champs had expected the same type of plastic carrier cage we used for Gus when we moved to IL, and since Jack was so silent, he didn't recognize it for what it was. All's well that ends well, though, and he quickly moved Jack into the warmth of the car.

Oh, and what car, you ask? Why, my sister-in-law Princsiss' car. You may remember that our Mazda Protege was totaled on December 23. Although Champs has a truck, it will only hold two passengers, which means that if the family wants to go somewhere in it, I will have to ride in the back. At least there is a topper. So far, we haven't had to settle for that - but I also haven't left the house hardly at all since we gave Princsiss' car back to her a week and a half ago. We decided to wait until I got home to choose a car, so my first 10 days at least were spent just trying to decide on a car to buy. Almost every night my first week home we went out test-driving cars. We considered the Mazda 3, Toyota Camry, Subaru Impreza and Nissan Altima. The 3 and Camry, even used, were just too far out of our budget. The Subaru, while a really nice driving car, was just too small for Champs to even think of driving comfortably. We really liked the Altima and seriously considered buying a new base model, which would have put us at the highest end of our budget. In the end, though, we have decided to buy a 2007 Malibu executive lease return from my brother-in-law Motor's father-in-law, Terry. It is a nice car with a lot of warranty left on it and a good price, while having the benefit of being just one year old. Just yesterday we got a call from Terry letting us know he has found the right car for us – in Ohio. It has just 6573 miles on it and a V6 engine. I expect that I’ll soon be experiencing carsickness – that feeling you get when the monthly payment is due. Even so, I can’t wait to get our car - we want to be able to go out as a family!

Oh, here's a fun update: my husband is a stinker! Before I came home, he told me "I have a couple of small surprises for you - nothing big". When I got home, he showed me how he had changed our bed over to warm flannel sheets with my favorite electric blanket. He also showed me how he'd gotten the guest room prepped for me to begin working from home. He gave me a beautiful flower arrangement and planned a date night for Saturday. From my quiet, unassuming husband, this was all very wonderful and exactly what I expected. He took Sweet Girl to Grandma's for a sleepover and then took me to the Texas Roadhouse for dinner. After dinner, we went home for what I thought was going to be a quiet evening with each other - our first chance to connect in months. And it was - a couple of hours later! When we walked into our dark family room, the lights suddenly went on and I was greeted with a chorus of "SURPRISE!" from my IL family. I lost it! I just screamed so loudly and threw my hands up - I knocked the take-home container out of Champs’ hands. It must have taken me at least two or three minutes to be able to talk... I gapped like a fish out of water while the family just laughed and laughed at me. Champs was sooo smug and proud of himself. He totally got me! Everyone had made a "welcome home" sign and brought food. Champs showed me his special gift to me - a sign for my office declaring my name and NASD certifications. It is really nice and I will display it with pride in my office when it is finished. All in all, the party was fun and a roaring success.

The office? No, it's not finished. That's the other thing I've been doing - researching office furniture options. When my company pays my furniture stipend, I need to get the office set up according to company specifications. Champs’ been getting into this as much as I have - perhaps even more - and we've pretty much made our choices. Now we're just waiting for the money. In the meantime, I'm working in a bit of a makeshift office, but it's going really well. I love being home for Sweet Girl in the morning and when she gets home from school. I have to admit that I really miss my co-workers, but the phones keep me busy and the days fly by. Since I am home all day, I am considering selling Longaberger baskets as an evening business to get me out of the house a few nights a month. I haven't made a decision yet - I need a car first!

The only other thing to highlight is that I am finally beginning to sleep. You see, the first week I was home, I didn’t get much sleep. Neither did Champs. You see, although we knew that Gus and Jack would be fast friends, we needed to convince them. Two adult male cats meeting for the first time is a sight to behold – and hearing them fight about who gets what territory can be tiring. I’m glad they’ve gotten it worked out now. I must agree with Mark Twain’s observation: "Ignorant people think it is the noise which fighting cats make that is so aggravating, but it ain't so; it is the sickening grammar that they use."

So, was it worth six months away? Yeah, it was. It was so hard being away. There were days that I thought I would never get home and days when it seemed like our family would remain in limbo forever. But time has a comforting way of marching on through the good and the bad, bringing with it fulfillment and new challenges. I am home and so grateful to God for all that we have been given. In all, though, I agree with Lin Yutang, who said, "No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow."

Even if my own need to organize everything is keeping me busy... lol

Comments on this post:
Geekwif said...
Yay! You're home! You didn't tell me about the party when we IM'd the other night. Good job, Champs!

kenju said...
I know you are very glad to be home and Champs is very glad to have you and Sweet Girl! When you get tired or organizing your home, please come and do mine! Please?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Wonderful Decade

Ten years ago today was Saturday. I was bored. I didn't have a date and nothing was going on. I was BORED. The internet was a new diversion for me and I was on in the chat room, just passing time. I saw an avatar of a foot resting on a soccer ball. Bored but mildly interested, I checked out the profile. It turned out to be a 25 year-old soccer coach who had a philosophy of life quote similar to my own. Now still bored but intrigued, I clicked on the avatar and asked "Soccr101" about his devotion to the game - and started a conversation that lasted on-line for two hours, then one the phone for the next seven hours... and in life for the next ten years.

Yes, I met my Champs 10 years ago today. And every minute since then has been an adventure - a wonderful decade of happiness.

I love you, Champs!

Here are some comments from this post:
Geekwif said...
Awwww. You made me almost a little bit teary. :) Happy 10 years! You gonna go out and celebrate?

kenju said...
Happy Anniversary, BG!

HolyMama! said...
ohhh! how sweet!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Blond Girl Update 27:3 Final

Happy Tuesday!

Well everyone, this is it. 27.3 weeks since I left home, I am posting my last Blond Girl Update. What started as a 4.5 month journey last July (when it was HOT! Remember heat?!?!) will come to an end this Thursday when Sweet Girl and I fly home back to Champs. I will set up my office and my remote system on Friday and then start working from home on Tuesday, January 22. While we've been here, Sweet Girl has been doing her school studies with the help of her Grandma and her aunt - both of whom have been irreplaceable to me these last few months.

For six months now, I've enjoyed the company of my family and I've also had the chance to spend so much quality time with my good friends here in Minnesota. Sweet Girl has enjoyed her time with friends, too - especially her best friend, Snow White. All those visits were precious to me - and my thanks go out to everyone here who made my time away from home bearable and even fun. But I'm sure you will all understand when I say (in the words of the genie in "Alladin") "Iiiiii'mmmmm Ouuuttta here!". I will miss my family and friends here, but I am so glad to be going home! Once there, I will have to work hard to show my appreciation for our family there who so willingly helped Champs with his role as "single daddy" from August through January. Honestly, where would we be without grandmas and aunts? I am floored by every one's helpfulness and investment on our part to make my training successful and help me get back home to start my job.

I can't begin to tell you how excited I am. The anticipation of being so close to the fruition of our goal is nearly indescribable. What? You want me to try? Naw... no, really? OK. Twist my arm. Here goes:

Remember that feeling when you were a kid and your parents told you that if you helped them with the yard work, you would get a treat later on? So you worked in the sun all day - mowing the lawn, hauling brush away, watering flowers, dodging bees... Finally, when the sun had past its zenith, you and the family crammed into the car to head to the local Diary Queen. Remember that feeling as you watched the cone being dipped into the crunchy chocolate coating, knowing what was to come, itching to get your teeth into all that creamy goodness, but still having to wait patiently while everyone was served?

Yeah, like that.

Remember Christmas Eve, when you knew you had worked for months to be on Santa's "nice" list (you'd even refrained from hitting your brother, who desperately deserved it), all in hopes of getting that one special present? Remember how you were torn between staying awake so you could hopefully catch a glimpse of that red suit, but also wanting to go to sleep quickly so the morning would come even sooner so you could run to the tree to see what treasures awaited you?

Yeah, like that.

Remember when you fell in love and every moment you willed the phone to ring, the doorbell to chime or your mailbox to offer up some sentiment from your special someone? Remember the feeling of knowing that anyone else looking at your beloved would see just a person, but you saw your very heart? And waiting for the next time to see them was like shallow breathing and all you wanted to do was take a deep, deep breath? Remember thinking the waiting would kill you but the reunion was so sweet that threatened to take you completely apart?

Oh yeah, just like that.

I expect that, in addition to a change in our financial picture and our schedules, Champs and I will find that our relationship has changed and deepened. Over the last few months, we've had to return to our dating days of long talks and IMing on the computer. Nothing new to us, since we started out as a long distance couple. We've had to distill our plans, parenting and emotions into the purest form to make sure that nothing (well not much, anyway) got overlooked. We have both felt the ache of missing each other and missing our daughter. There were days when it hurt so badly that I would just sit in my chair silently, tears rolling down my face as I contemplated how empty I felt. I can only guess that Champs has felt the same way too, at times. I know Sweet Girl has - and I am so happy that she will finally have both Mommy and Daddy at home at the same time.

Yeah, I thought this wouldn't be so long when I started out, but it will be a good thing for our family. We've learned a lot and the reward will be great. Sweet Girl and I have had a chance to look at the life of Jesus in light of our season. He left Heaven - that beautiful place - to walk among men and be persecuted, scorned and crucified. But through it all, he looked forward to what awaited Him - the reward of knowing all those He would save, the undeniable triumph of returning from the grave to laugh at a stunned Satan who had failed after all. We talked about how, if He could endure all that for such a great reward, we could certainly make it through our small trial to get our family reward. It's a lofty concept for a seven-year old to grasp, but I think she got it - and we will talk about it more in the future, I am sure.

For now, though, our biggest challenge is getting home. With the zoom-zoom car totaled and now dubbed "the boom boom car" (until it is crushed into a little cube), Sweet Girl and I will be flying home - along with one large rolling suitcase, two Rubbermaid totes, one rolling duffel bag, one booster seat, one backpack, one rolling carry-on and one cat carrier. I already have many one dollar bills and coins in my wallet for the "smarte carte" we'll be renting at either end of the trip. We will travel first by plane to Chicago, and then by shuttle (with a layover) for the three-hour trip to Champaign; and I get to negotiate all of it. I am woman, hear me whimper! I am hopeful that a foot massage will await me at the end of our journey. I already know that many hugs and kisses will be waiting. I am looking forward to hearing Sweet Girl's cry of "DADDY!!!!" at the shuttle terminal.

Yes, absence does make the heart grow fonder.
Mine is fond enough. Take me home.

Blond Girl out.