Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What's the point

Monday night, as I was trying to fall asleep, I was hit by this incredible sadness. I ended up crying for about 30 minutes.

It's been a little over 4 years since I moved back home after separating from my now-ex husband. Not much has changed since then:

- I still work for the same company, having only changed positions (and pay grade) once
- I still live with my parents and am struggling to save money for my own place
- My ex-husband is still behind on his child support payments
- I still have my part-time job with no line-of-sight to whether or not it will ever replace my full-time job
- I still weigh more than I should

Granted, some things have changed:

- I've been in a relationship for 6 months
- I've lost 20 pounds in the last 3 months
- My daughter started Kindergarten this year and my mom is watching her in the afternoons, so I'm not spending $800 on childcare each month
- I am in charge of a committee, help with the kids groups, serve on the diaconate and sing in the choir at my church
- I'm down to 1 kidney after a successful donation 2 years ago

And yet, I'm not happy. I mean, I am happy and grateful for all that I have, but I'm still in a funk. My younger sister is married, living in her own place, able to afford new video game consoles and pets and vacations. And I'm divorced, trying to raise a kid without the help of her father, paying for all of her expenses without financial help from her father, paying for her airfare to visit her father who hasn't held a job in 2 years and hasn't paid child support in 18 months, I drive a 45 minute commute each way to work, I don't get to take my daughter to her dance lessons because they start in the afternoon on a weekday, I haven't gone out on any "girls night out"s in over 4 months because I can't afford it and/or don't have time in my schedule, my most frequent "alone time" with my boyfriend occurs when I walk him to his car after he's been at my house for dinner with my daughter and my parents, I'm no longer satisfied by my full-time job, the most "immediate" house I could kinda afford if my parents helped me out would be a manufactured home, I have to work from home at night to make up for the few minutes I miss in the morning because my daughter's school starts at 8 and I have to drive the 55 South every morning, all I want to do when I get home from work is crawl in bed and hide out in my room...

My boyfriend is attending college 4 days a week and has a part-time job at his church, both at least 60 minutes away from my office and at least 45 minutes from my daughter's school, so having a place together in the near future wouldn't be financially feasible. We're probably looking at a few years before we live together and/or get married. I get depressed thinking that I'll either be in my parents' home for that much more time, or that I'll have to live in an apartment or cheap (scary) house if I want my own place due to some "fun" credit happenings preceding my divorce.

So, what's the point. Why do I go on if in 4 years, nothing has changed much, and it doesn't seem much will change at all in the next few years?

I feel like giving up. Why try to make things any better, if 4 years of such effort has proved pointless?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Throwing Up All Over You

There's a saying in business when you're trying to recruit someone: Don't throw up all over them. Meaning don't throw too much information in their face all at once or they'll miss it all and just shut down.

This also seems to be the way meeting new people works. You wouldn't introduce yourself to your spouse's boss this way: "Hi, I'm Michelle, and I'm pro-choice, and I don't care if you're gay or not, and I donated a kidney, I married my ex-husband after a month of dating because I needed the money, and I live with my parents. Nice to meet you."

But why shouldn't we? Don't we think that people should like us for who we are? So why don't we tell people who we are when we first meet them? Why do we "date" first? Do we think that if we slowly ease them into our lives, they'll be more likely to accept us later on when they find out something "taboo" about us?

When I started dating after my divorce, I was coached by friends not to bring up the "whole single mom thing" on the first date. I always defended myself to them: I'm not ashamed of being a single mom, I'm not ashamed of my daughter, why should I lie/omit information? If he didn't want to date a single mom, why should I hide it? That's not fair to him, and it's not productive for me.

So are we afraid that our new friends won't like us? If they don't like us, are they really our friends? Maybe they are, if they choose to ignore that part of our lives they don't like.

Charles Kingsley said,"A blessed thing it is for any man or woman to have a friend, one human soul whom we can trust utterly, who knows the best and worst of us, and who loves us in spite of all our faults."

But my faults may not be considered a fault by someone else, or something I consider an attribute may be a fault in someone else's mind. We never know.

I, myself, am a Christian.

And I am pro-choice: I don't think it's my place to say whether or not someone else has a choice.

And I'm pro-marriage: I think people should try to work out their differences, but if divorce needs to happen for the safety and sanity of themselves and others, so be it, and I don't think we should prohibit marriage between any two persons.

And I'm pro-life: I've donated a kidney, I donate blood whenever I can and I've put myself on the bone marrow donor list.

And I think people deserve second chances: I married my ex out of the naivete of youth and pride (I don't need to move back home just because I lost my job; I'll just marry my Marine boyfriend and we'll get the extra money to have our own place and if we end up not loving each other, we'll just get a divorce and move on...).

And I think there's nothing to be ashamed of asking for help: I moved back in with my parents after my separation and divorce in 2005. My daughter and I plan on moving out in the next year or two, but I'm proud of how my life is now: my daughter has three active parents in her life and she's learning more about relationships with people, how different people are interested in different things, and she's learned independence.

But it's not acceptable in our society to present this side of myself when I meet someone new. I'm just supposed to say, "Hi, my name is Michelle. Nice to meet you." Then we play little games while trying to figure out if we want to like this new person or not.

I think I should just get "personal cards" that state my name, contact info, and on the back list 4 or 5 qualities about myself. Then anyone I meet can choose whether or not to strike up a conversation with me. I think it'll save us all some valuable time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My kid's too busy to be a star

Well, and so am I for that matter.

My daughter's kindergarten class has a "Star of the Week" where one kid for a week gets to have a poster displayed in the classroom about themselves: their family, their favorite foods, their favorite places to go, etc. Great way for the kids to get to know each other.

My daughter will be the Star next week. I hope.

She brought home the poster she needed to fill out on Monday and to be returned preferably by Friday, but next Monday would be OK. I asked my mom to help brainstorm ideas of what my daughter could color/cut-out-and-paste/draw/write on the poster; I would like to be able to help her (aren't moms supposed to do this stuff?).


Monday I had a meeting at church and didn't get home until 9:30 (past my daughter's bed-time)
Tuesday my daughter had a rehearsal for The Sound of Music until 6 and then we had to go get new jazz shoes because she refuses to stop growing. Then of course she needed to be fed (she refuses to stop being hungry, too!).
Wednesday (yesterday) I had to go to my second job until 10:00
Thursday (today) I will be home for a while until I have to go to choir practice for church...and I hafta go since I'm likely to have a small solo-bit in the piece we're performing on Sunday.
Friday (tomorrow) we will be able to work on it more, but are already scheduled to have friends over for dinner
Saturday we already have plans (and paid for them) to be at a regional event for our church (notice a theme here, yet?) until the afternoon. After that we'll need to finish the poster if we want to be able to finally see the Halloween fireworks at Disneyland
Sunday we have church, and then church and then more church. And grocery shopping in there somewhere...

So you see, Mrs. Nygaard, my kid and I just have way too much on our plates as it is. She's much too busy to be a star next week. Maybe we could pencil something in for late April? Wait, let me check the calendar...


We were able to get my daughter's poster done over the weekend: before dinner on Friday and before church Sunday morning. It turned out great!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Only YOU can prevent car accidents


During my 40 minute commute to work today, I counted 4 people talking on their cell phones without using a handsfree device. 4. And that was just the people directly in front of or behind me. I didn't scrutinize every car on the southbound 55.

That means that roughly every 10 minutes, someone decides they're willing to risk my life (or at the VERY least, my car's life) just to make or answer a phone call. I don't like that statistic (which is in no way scientifically proven, just based on my observations), and I shouldn't have to live with it. The handsfree only law was created for a reason, just as the no-running-red-lights law was: to save lives.

I think I'm going to follow someone else's idea whenever I see someone breaking this law: hold up my iPhone like I'm going to take a picture and look at the person in their rearview mirror and say, "Smile!" Of course, I won't take the picture if I'm driving; that would be just stupid and hypocritical. But it may entice the person breaking the law to hang up the phone, thinking that I might just send that "picture" to the police.

Think it'll work?

Or maybe I'll just make a sign to hold up: "Please don't kill me, hang up the phone!"

Anyone else want one? I'll make it double-sided: one side written so the guy behind me can read it, and the other side written backwards so the gal in front of me can read it in the rearview mirror.


I counted 5 drivers on my way home, 2 of which were texting with both hands!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My first BlogCrush

No, I don't have a crush on a blog or blogger...

I'm talking about the BlogCrush/meeting of the minds of OC/takeover of a local restaurant I went to last night!

A Restaurant (and later, Market) were taken over by a bunch of crazy bloggers for the evening. A has guest bartenders every Wednesday from 5-7, but last night they let us have the bar until we were ready to head home!

Kara-Noel and JJ were the first to try their hand at bartending.

During our visit, we were served wonderful food, including this Spicy Yellow Fin Tuna with crispy eggplant, garlic aioli and sweet soy glaze. YUM!

Um, Marcy? I think you're supposed to use a knife and fork. But, hey, that's just me.

And the wonderful chef who prepared our food!

More of our guest bartenders (BlogCrush folks: help me out here with names, please!)

After we'd had our fill of drinks and food, we headed over to A Market for a special after-hours tour.

Big thanks to Marcy and Suz who organize this gathering once a month. I'm hooked! See you in October!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hi, I'm a PC. Literally.

Today on my way to work, I was struck with this intense thought that I felt like a robot. I'm stuck in this loop with no ability to think for myself. I just do what I'm programmed to do, nothing more, nothing less. As I merged onto the 405 from the 55, I felt like I was just sitting on a conveyor belt, on my way to do some grunt work for a higher class of being who recognizes me only as a machine and not as a thinking person, joining other fellow robots on the slow, agonizing path to the same dull chores we perform every day.

If computers get upgrades to make them run better and make the people who utilize them appreciate them more, when do I get mine? My last service pack installation was 4 years ago. In the computer world, that makes me pretty much obsolete, slow, waaay past my warranty, ready to break down at any moment. This makes me fear being replaced. But is it all my fault? If my owner doesn't take the necessary steps to upgrade my system, then my owner may not realize my full potential. In this world of consumerism, I may just get taken down to the local Goodwill where they recycle electronics and my owner will replace me with a cheaper, nicer-looking model.

Sure, I get my share of viruses, but only because I'm connected to a smaller PC that shares data with many other PCs. But the longer we stick around, the better our virus protection gets; again, because of upgrades. But do our owners see that? No, they just see that we are out of commission a few times a year and focus on that downtime.

I feel like I need to be placed on Craigslist: "Free to a good home. Runs like clockwork, reliable and when maintained ($$) properly, will continue to offer support for all necessary tasks."

Monday, September 7, 2009

Giveaway from Eli's Lids!

Hey, y'all! Welcome to my blog! As part of Eli's Lids 3rd birthday giveaway, I'm giving away $50 in your choice of products from The Pampered Chef. Here's how it works:

First, go to the Pampered Chef site to figure out how you'd like to spend your $50
Second, leave a comment on this post with your name, e-mail or twitter name and your choice of Pampered Chef items
Third, head over to Eli's Lids for more ways to enter the giveaway

Oh, and of course check out the other posts on my site. You might find a story that makes you laugh, cry or think, "That's exactly what I was thinking!" Maybe you'll even find a friend.

God bless.
Update from blog owner (9/16/09): Congratulations Barbara Wright of Cary, NC on winning $50 of Pampered Chef products of her choice! It's never easy trying to figure out what to get from The Pampered Chef, but I'm sure Barbara is up to the challenge. If you'd like to place your own order, click the Pampered Chef hyperlink above to start filling your kitchen! Again, congratulations, Barbara!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The invisible milestone

Smiling when they recognize you. Laughing. Rolling over. Crawling. Eating solid foods. Sitting up. Pulling up. Walking. Talking. Reading. Going to school. Riding a bike w/o training wheels. Losing a tooth. Driving a car.

The parenting books missed one: Bathing oneself.

"Em" can now clean herself without any help. She can turn on the shower. She can scrub off the dirt that accumulated in the last 24 hours. She can apply and rinse out shampoo and conditioner. She can turn off the shower and wrap a towel around herself. She can comb the tangles out of her hair.

Know what this means?

I can have dinner ready before her bedtime!

Now if she could only do her own laundry...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I'm a winner!

Well, almost. I'm a runner-up.

A few months ago, Parents Magazine and Lever 2000 did a photo contest called "Make Every Touch Count." Contestants could submit up to 6 photos of 2 or more friends/family members showing "touch." The grand prize winner would get a dining set (table and chairs) from BH&G and a Lever 2000 advertisement photo shoot. Runners-up would get a digital camera.

These are the photos I submitted, taken by friend and fabulous photographer Julie Shendelman:

I'm not sure which one Lever 2000 liked best, but they decided that one of our pictures was a runner-up! This is the camera I just received yesterday:
It's a Canon PowerShot SD780 IS. It's 12.1 mega pixel, has image stabilizer, and a humongous menu when it comes to customizing the environment and shot settings. I've tried it out a bit, but I can't show you any pictures because I don't have an SD card for it; I'm picking one up today. But it is a fantastic little thing. It's smaller than the palm of my hand and thinner than my thumb.

So, thanks Lever 2000 & Parents Magazine!

But most of all, a HUGE THANK YOU, JULIE! Your pictures, professionalism, personality and pizazz ROCK MY WORLD!
(P.S. Julie, when are you coming back down to OC? I need more pictures!!)

Friday, August 28, 2009

I'm gonna lose some weight!

Quick post: I've created another blog to record my journey to losing weight, not just to enhance my appearance, but to live a healthier life. If you'd like to follow it, click here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What's my name again?

I have a wonderful mom. She works from home and has volunteered to pick up "Em" from Kindergarten and keep her with her at home in the afternoons. It's awesome! Gone are the days of paying $800 a month for preschool (yes, it's pricey, but it kinda has to be if you want your child to be prepared for school). I can finally really start saving for a down payment so Em and I can have our own place.

Having free, familiar childcare is great. However, there is one event that can happen: your child calls you by the caregiver's name. Or just the opposite, your child calls the caregiver, "Mom."

I've been through this before, when my daughter was at an in-home daycare when she was a toddler. She would call "Annie" "Mommy." Some other moms I knew got upset when their kids used the wrong name for them. For me, I shrugged it off, knowing that Em knew I was her "Mom" and that Annie was someone who took care of her. At that young age, the word "Mom" didn't mean anything more than "woman who feeds me and makes sure I don't hurt myself." In my heart, and hers, I was more than that, but she didn't have a different word for it.

Now that Em has started Kindergarten, she's mixing up her names again. She'll mistakenly call me "Grandma" and call her Grandma "Mom." Sometimes she catches herself right away and giggles, "Whoops! Sorry!" Sometimes we see how long it takes her to realize what she said. It's actually kind of endearing. And I'm sure my mom doesn't mind. Em's as much her kid as she is mine, since we've been living in my folks' house since Em was a little over a year old. She has three "parents" but she definitely knows who's who when it comes to genealogy.

For me, it means she's comfortable where she is. Since I know she's getting the same kind of care from my mom as she would get from me, she's welcome to call my mom "Mom" from time to time.

So thanks, Mom! I mean, Grandma! Wait, what's your name? What's mine?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Score one point for Mommy!

I got my license! Woohoo!

Four weeks ago I took my California Life-only and Accident and Health insurance license test. I passed on the first try!

Today I've officially received my copy of the license. It's so pretty!

What I'm going to do with it is still up in the air, but at least it opens up a lot more opportunities in my department and company.


My "Mean Mommy" moment

Where did my 5-year-old go? From princess dress-up to being grounded in no time at all.

Yesterday we had a pretty laid-back day planned. Church in the morning, quick lunch and a nap, then head to Disneyland to celebrate our associate minster's birthday ("Em" and I have become very close to "Opal" since she came to our church a little over a year ago).

I told Em to lay in her bed and stay quiet until I told her it was time to get up; I didn't mind if she didn't nap, but I knew I needed one before we headed to The Happiest (and most tiring) Place On Earth.

When I felt refreshed enough, I went into Em's room to let her know it was time to go. Just as I pushed her door open, I saw her roll over onto her side facing away from me as fast as she could. Uh oh. When I said it was time to get up, she slowly rose from the pillow looking groggy and said, "I didn't even hear my alarm go off." Double uh oh. Two lies in 10 seconds.

I called her on it and asked what she'd been doing when I walked in. "Napping" she said. When I asked her not to lie to me and tell me the truth, or we weren't going to go to Disneyland , she told another lie, that she was trying to see what time it was on her clock (which was behind her before she rolled over). She went through about 3 more lies before I gave up trying to get the truth out of her.

So, I had to pull the "mean mommy" card and not take her to Disneyland. Big bummer for me because I wanted to go play again (even though I'd been there twice in the last week already) and celebrate Opal's birthday. "Everyone" was going, but it wouldn't sit right with me if I gave Em the reward of Disneyland for her lies. So I "grounded" her. I told her why we weren't going to Disneyland, that it hurt my feelings that's she'd lied to me, and that she had to stay in her room until dinnertime. She could read her books or play with toys that were in her room, but not come downstairs to play, watch a movie, or play on the computer. She's 5 after all, I can't ban her to her room and make her do nothing all day. She'd fall asleep from the boredom and miss the point alltogether.

It took her about an hour to apologize and tell me the real truth (she was looking at her books on the bookshelf). We discussed that she wouldn't have been in trouble if she'd told me that right away, but now she was grounded because of the lies she told. We also discussed that while telling the truth won't always keep her out of trouble, if she lies, she'll be in even bigger trouble.

By the time dinner was ready 5 hours later, Em told me that she didn't like being grounded. I asked her if she remembered why she'd been grounded, and she replied "because I lied."

Sweet! Lesson learned....I hope.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


"Em" returned from her dad's house this past weekend; she officially came home Monday night after spending the day with me at Disneyland.

Every summer after she's been with "Jake," my parents and I have to essentially "re-program" "Em" back to normal. One year she came back from her summer visitation responding to every request with, "I can't, I'm too little." Another summer it was a not-so-cute saying; if you complimented her on how cute she looked, she's flip her hair with her hand and say, "And I know it!" Oy. Last year we didn't have any major re-programming, but we did have to re-cut her hair after she cut it while at "Jake's" house.

This year, it's tears. Every little frustration or when she doesn't get her way, she cries. Not quite temper-tantrum, but rubbing her eyes, face scrunching up and water running down her cheeks; enough tears that she needs a few minutes to compose herself. Wrong pajamas: tears. I give her the wrong stuffed animal: tears. I suggest she use a different box to store her earrings: tears.

I'm assuming that while "Em" was visiting "Jake" and his parents, she cried a couple of times and saw how quickly they tried to appease her. And just about every parents knows what happenned then: she learned that tears=what she wants.

We have one week until school starts and I am desperately trying to get her back to normal. When she was little, the rule was she had to sit in the penalty box for disobeying or deliberately doing something she wasn't supposed to. And it worked; she quickly learned how boring it is and doesn't do it anymore. So I'm hoping that a few times in the penalty box will fix this little problem. 5 minutes is a long time for a child. 1 weeks is even longer for this mom (and grandparents!) if it takes that long to go back to normal.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'm going to protect her as best I can...


...Even if that means pissing off my ex-husband.

This year, for her summer visitation with her daddy, "Em" went to Washington by car instead of airplane. Her paternal grandparents took her up there, and her daddy will bring her back down. For as long as we've been discussing her return (since before she even left), "Jake's" sister "Alice" was going to come down with them and we were all going to go to Disneyland together when they return.

Yesterday I got to speak to "Em" on the phone (YAY!!) and then talked to "Jake" about the details about their return. They're leaving on Friday late afternoon/evening and should be in Orange by Saturday night. They may drive through the night, they may stop in Oregon for the night before resuming the drive Saturday morning. "Em" will stay with "Jake" and "Alice" at their motel until Monday night, when she'll come home after Disneyland.

When I asked "Jake" if "Alice" was going with us to Disneyland, he said, "No, 'Alice' can't come." That was it. I prodded further, asking if it was going to be just him and "Em" then. No, it wasn't going to be just the two of them. "Jake's" mom's best friend's fiance was coming with them.

WHAAATTT?!?! A man I've never met and Em's only known for four weeks, staying in a motel room with my daughter for 3 nights?!? Excuse the language, but HELL NO!!

Now, I didn't say it like that to "Jake," but I did tell him (as my mom said last night, "Like Simon Cowell, the truth but with no diplomacy") that I don't know how well "Jake" knows this man, but I don't know him and that he was going to have to get his own motel room because I wasn't going to let him sleep in the same room as my daughter. My FIVE-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER!

Both my mom and my dad agreed that I could have said that in a nicer way, to not sound like I was demanding "Jake" to get a separate room from the man, and that I really don't have a say in what "Jake" does during his visitation with "Em."

I kind of see their point, but my instinct says, "No, I'm right." "Jake" may still share legal custody (getting to make decisions about her care) of our daughter with me, but excuse me, I'm the one who is raising her. Not him. He sees her a few weeks every year, by HIS choice! He doesn't want to raise his own kid, what gives him the right to change plans on me WITHOUT TELLING ME UNTIL TWO DAYS BEFORE THE TRIP, and what in his history gives him the right to make the decision to have a stranger sleep in the same room as my daughter? This is the same man who let my daughter, when she was THREE-YEARS-OLD watch the first "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie! I love that movie, but it is in no way appropriate for a three-year-old to watch. A rating of PG means that as a parent you need to use your judgement before letting your child watch that movie. Sorry, but that judgement was lacking then, and I personally think it's lacking now. I have half a mind to take tomorrow off and fly up to WA to pick up "Em" and spare "Jake" the drive down, just so I know she's safe.

I may have not been diplomatic in telling "Jake" that the man traveling with him and "Em" is not allowed to sleep in the same room as my daughter, but I will do WHATEVER IT TAKES to protect my daughter. And if that means he's pissed off at me, so be it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Things I Remember...I Think

I'm hoping that I'm not alone in this little annoyance I have discovered; if I am then I should make an appointment with my doctor IMMEDIATELY!

I remember things, things that the people in my life say haven't happened to me.

One of my memories is being in a house/cabin with snow outside when I was little. I remember coming in from the snow and my Auntie "B" serving me hot chocolate in a mug with a candy cane as a stirrer. Both of my parents adamantly swear that I have never been in a cabin/house with Auntie "B" where there was snow. We were at her house once for Christmas, but it wasn't snowing.

I also remember a birthday of mine when I was young. I was in our house on Cleveland (meaning I was at least 5 or 6, if not older), lying on my parents' bed, watching the after-lunch special on Nickelodeon. My birthday is in April, and occasionally (ok, a LOT) it landed during Spring Break, so that explains why I was home instead of at school. My dad walked into the bedroom with a small dish of tapioca pudding with a single lit birthday candle in it. I don't remember if he was singing "Happy Birthday" to me or not, but knowing Dad, probably not. Again, both of my parents adamantly swear this never happened. Mom can't figure out why she wouldn't have been home for my birthday, and Dad doesn't remember this at ALL.

Last night after dinner, my folks and I discovered another "discrepancy." When I was a senior in High School, I took drama and dance classes. The annual "PG-14" concert was coming up and I was scheduled to work over the weekend on our big dance number. But my folks and their friends were going to Las Vegas. I remember being in the drama room crying over the cell phone to my mom because if I had to go to Vegas with them, I couldn't be in the performance the next week for having missed rehearsals. Mom didn't think it would be a big deal if I missed a rehearsal, that I was going to Vegas with them NOMATTERWHAT. I knew then that Mom and Dad didn't want to leave me at home by myself because I was dating a MAN (he was 5 years older than me). But I remember being very upset, and it still upsets me now, that my parents didn't care that I failed a portion of my class for a trip to Vegas. Mom doesn't remember that conversation, or that performance. I remember the performance: I was standing in the back of the auditorium watching my classmates perform the dance I'd worked very hard on. But Mom insists that she'd remember if she pulled me away from a class for a family trip.

I wonder how many more of these "memories" I'll discover in my lifetime. I've "remembered" these incidents ever since they occurred, so it's not like I'm just now "remembering them." Only the High School one is most recently to have been discovered as possibly incorrect. But the other two have been a source of amusement for my family for years. Glad my misfiring brain can provide some entertainment.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Disneyland has blue eggs, but why?

For a while now, I've noticed that in the planter between Redd Rockett's Pizza Port and the entrance to Space Mountain, there are blue eggs, big blue eggs, poking out between the plants.

The planter starts at the back of Pizza Port and wraps up a bit into the FastPass side of the queue. They're nice to look at, but I'm confused. Are these alien eggs? I've noticed them for a couple of years now, but how long have they been there?
I've done my share of searching on the internet, but I can't find anyone's explanation as to what these eggs are doing in Tomorrowland.
Do you or someone you know have any idea on the motivation behind these mysterious eggs? Or do you have a theory? I'd love to hear from anyone with any sort of clue to this mystery.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Single Mom Sanctuary turned 1 yesterday!

Taking a look at my Google Analytics page, I feel proud and somewhat mystified. In one year, my blog has been visited by 304 different people in 10 different countries!

I've added 22 posts, the most popular being the post about my daughter giving her self a haircut and the post about dating for myself, not because I like the family of my boyfriend/date.

The most-used labels for my posts are "dating" and "custody," which I think are appropriate considering the name of my blog.

I've confessed to my insecurities as a single mom and an individual and I've revealed a psuedo-secret about who I am and what I've done with my life.

This blog was created to give me an outlet for my feelings as a single parent, and hopefully to help other single (or married) parents feel not-so-alone and even perhaps make someone laugh or think, "Finally, someone who thinks the way I do."

So, I want to thank all my readers out there. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

I miss my baby

Yup, I said it. I miss her. Em has been at her dad's house for 2 weeks now. I didn't cry when she left, as I had in years past. This time it took 2 weeks for the emotion to catch up with me. I think I was actually unconsciously trying to run away from it.

I've pretty much only been home to sleep. Em left my house on the 12th (she didn't actually head out of state until the next morning); I spent that night with my family, boyfriend and friends singing Karaoke at my favorite bar. I took the 13th off since I usually don't do well the day of/after Em leaves. I spent the day getting prep work done for a root canal, then just loafed around the house. On the 14th, my parents, my boyfriend and I saw "My Sister's Keeper." On the 15th, I got my root canal done, then went to Disneyland with my boyfriend to take random and fun pictures. The 16th I went shopping for a baby gift and had Sushi with my mom (and later my sister, her husband and his mom and her boyfriend showed up). On the 17th I went to a youth event at church; we played Quelf, ate dinner, took in a late Harry Potter movie, then slept on the floor. The 18th saw exhaustion as I woke up on the floor of the church, had a quick coffee with some of the other youth sponsors, took a nap, went to a baby shower, then went swimming at a friend's house to cool off.

After church on the 19th, I took myself out to lunch and then took a 4 hour nap. Monday the 20th I went out to dinner with a couple of girlfriends. Wednesday the 22nd I was out in L.A. taking my Life Agent (Life-Only and Accident and Health Agent) license test (I passed, woohoo!) and celebrated by having dinner and dessert at a friend's house. Thursday the 23rd I went out to dinner with more girlfriends. Friday the 24th I went out to dinner with the same girlfriends from the night before, plus a few of their men. Saturday the 25th my boyfriend and I went to the OC Fair and Disneyland. And yesterday I went out to my boyfriend's church and then his house for his grandma's birthday celebration. And that's where I finally broke into tears.

On Saturday, while at the Fair, my ex-husband called with Em on the phone, who was crying so hard she was hiccuping. She'd woken up from a nap and instantly started to cry for me. I was on the phone with her for about 20 minutes trying to get her to stop crying. She missed me, and I didn't try to dismiss that, but acknowledged it and tried to get her to tell me all that she'd been doing so far at her dad's house. I think it was a combination of her schedule being totally disrupted and being old enough to actually realize how much time had passed and how much more time was ahead of her before she came home. I did my best to calm her down over the phone with loud fair noises around me. I hung up missing her a bit and feeling that heart-pain that only comes from being separated from your child; it's hard to describe, but almost every parent has felt that at some point. Your heart literally aches and feels like it's sunk farther into your chest than physically possible. But I only thought about it for a minute or so.

Then yesterday, my boyfriend's mom asked how my mom was doing, and I jokingly responded, "I don't know, I've barely seen her!" (I live with my parents). I explained that I'd been out a lot since I'm childless for a while. Then she asked me how she was doing and if I got along with my ex. I tried to keep it light, since we were celebrating her mom's birthday, but gave the brief synopsis of keeping the relationship amicable for Em's sake, and how frustrating it is to be supporting her without my ex-husband. While talking about it, I felt my eyes welling up and made my way to the restroom. And I let loose. Full-on sobbing hot tears. And in trying to not let anyone else hear it, I cried even harder. I think I cried for about 10 minutes before I was able to clean myself up enough to make it to the front door so I could finish in my car parked next to the house. When I finally went back into the house, either no one knew I'd been crying, or they politely let me be.

I wonder if I'll ever not cry when my daughter's away, or if I even want that to happen.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Untitled – For Now

As I write this, I am 26 years old, with a 5-year-old daughter who will start Kindergarten in the fall. I have been divorced for 3 years and live with my parents while I wait for the housing market to stabilize (meaning 2+ bedroom houses get closer to $200,000). My ex-husband lives in another state, and I just recently started dating a wonderful man I met at church camp 18 years ago. I have been working for the same company for 3 ½ years, have changed departments once and am working on getting my insurance license so that I can continue to move up. I have two part-time direct-sales consultant jobs that help pay for the addiction to Disneyland that my daughter and I both share. I’ve attended the same church my whole life (aside from my 6-month stint in the state where my ex-husband lives), now lead the Christian Education committee and serve as an alternate for the diaconate. My daughter has more of a social life than I do between her dance lessons, swimming lessons, birthday parties and church activities. I am still struggling to figure out who I am and what I want to be when I grow up.

At least, that’s my life when looked at with a ten-second glance. That’s what’s seen on the surface. But if you peel away just one layer, you’ll see a 4-inch scar, between my rib cage and my hip on my left side. Still slightly pink around the edges, it is almost 2-years-old, but the event it came from is still very fresh in my mind. I could explain it like Copperfield, and start from the very beginning, but that would be both unnecessary and long, not to mention boring. So I’ll start about 4 years ago. That should suffice.

One final point before I start this; I do not write this to be self-promoting or to come off as holier-than-thou. I decided to put this in writing so that if someone ever asked me about it, or wanted to encourage or support someone close to them, this story would be readily available.

Shortly after I moved back to my home state of California in late 2005, I decided to try to make my direct sales business my full-time job, so that I could stay at home with my 1-year-old. I couldn’t imagine putting her in daycare all day, as I’d been her main caregiver for her whole life so far. So I made my phone calls and started building my business. The first people I called were friends of mine in my church, who’d watched me grow up and helped me with religious and “real-life” experiences. I held a few shows for my business, and from those shows I got more customers. One of those customers who agreed to host a show in her home was BJ. She was a member of my church and one of her stepsons had come to a few of the youth programs I was involved in when he was younger. BJ and I got to know each other a bit better, but nothing too deep, being that there is a generation between us.

Sometime in the summer of 2006, I read an e-mail from my church that listed all of the members of our congregation that were requesting prayers for illness or life struggles. One of the people on that list was another stepson of BJ who was in need of a kidney transplant, and a possible donor was no longer available. The e-mail requested that we pray that he find another O+ donor soon, as he was in his 6th year of dialysis. My first thought was, “I’m O+, I wonder if I’m a match.” Honest. I asked my mom how old this man was, and she told me Aaron was only 26! I couldn’t imagine being sick for that long, especially so young! In the amount of time he’d been sick, I’d gotten married, had a kid, moved out of state, gotten divorced and moved back home. And here is this young man who has been on dialysis for the most of his 20’s. It just wasn’t fair. So I called up BJ and asked her who I could contact to find out if I was a match. I called his health case-manager up in L.A. and scheduled an appointment to go up to the USC Hospital to get tested. I met my case-manager and we talked for a bit over the phone about what I would need to do if I was a match and decided I wanted to donate. Seven vials of blood, a urinalysis and a psych evaluation later (being young, USC wanted to make sure I understood the seriousness of the donation, and they were concerned that I’d never met Aaron, but met his mother through my church. At that time, news had just broken about a very small church who believed that the only way to get into Heaven was to donate an organ.) I found out I was a complete match! Not just a match, but later they discovered that Aaron and I were actually distantly related, more closely related about 4 generations ago!

I had a long talk with my parents about the donation. They were proud, but scared. We did all the research we could on living donations and the recovery process and the statistics on survival. I had to prepare an advanced directive, thinking of every possible scary scenario and what I would want. Being divorced, if anything should happen to me, my ex-husband would get custody of our daughter, meaning she would have to move out of state and away from my family. My parents would be very sad to see my daughter leave, but my perspective on this was that if God should decide that I was not to stay here, and that this young man was, then who was I to argue? I felt that Aaron hadn’t really lived yet, and I’d lived a whole lifetime in 3 years. It was his turn, and if that meant I had to pass to let him live, I was okay with that. That scared my folks even more, but in the end it was truly my decision.

I tried to keep my decision quiet from anyone who wasn’t directly involved, only because I didn’t want the attention and I didn’t want it to be weird if it didn’t happen. And it was a good thing I did, because Aaron became too ill for the surgery shortly after we found out I was a match. Long story short, we had to wait about 5 months before he was healthy and off blood-thinners to even think about scheduling the surgery. In the mean-time, I’ve taken on a new position with a different department with my company, and I’m not sure what to tell my new manager, if anything. “Hi, I’m new and I’m going to be going on medical leave for 6 weeks, but I don’t know when yet. I’ll let you know if I’ll be leaving you in a lurch during our department’s busy season.” Yeah, not so much. When Aaron was finally well enough to have the surgery, I had to get a bunch of tests done to make sure I was healthy enough. That required a lot of trips to L.A. for test that could, in theory, be done locally. I spoke to my case manager and he agreed that if I talked to my primary doctor, USC would accept my getting the lab tests done here. That caused another problem; my health insurance company wasn’t a part of any of this. Aaron’s insurance (which, ironically, was the same segment my department dealt with) would pick up the tab on all of my procedures up until I left the hospital after the surgery. So I spoke to my doctor, told his what was going on, and we decided that “it was time for your physical anyway.”

After all my tests were done, it was time to schedule the surgery. And now it was time to start telling people. First I told my manager. It was a bit unsettling that he was so calm and accepting of it. My recovery was going to finish just a few weeks before our busy season hit, but he was alright with it, especially when I showed him the manual (I called it my Bible) on how to do my job, so that whoever replaced me while I was out could get by and not completely make a mess. After I told my boss, we lifted it up as a celebration in church. I’m surprised my cheeks are not permanently red from the embarrassment I felt. It just didn’t feel like that big of a deal to me, but other people started to cry when they heard what I was doing. Even now, if other people bring it up, I try to downplay it. I wasn’t in it for the praise, I was doing this to help save Aaron. 6 years, 7 after the illness that postponed the surgery, of dialysis was too long.

Surgery was scheduled for late September. I had one last appointment at USC to have a final check up and be given instructions for the day before. The surgery would happen early in the morning, so I needed to have my last meal as lunch the day before. With my lunch I was to take a laxative so that I would empty my system before surgery. If I didn’t “empty myself” by 10:00 PM the night, I would need to take another. Unfortunately, I hadn’t been emptied by then, so I did take another, then went to bed, since I would have to get up around 3:30 to make the drive to the hospital. Suffice it to say, I did not get much sleep. The laxatives finally kicked in and I was back and forth to the bathroom a LOT. When it came time to leave for the hospital, I “went” one last time and prayed that we could make the 35 minute drive without having to pull over. We barely made it. My folks checked me in at the desk while I ran straight for the ladies room. Whew!

After I was put into my room, they told me to undress and “fill this cup, please.” Um, excuse me. I’ve got nothing left! They said it was just to confirm that I was not pregnant. Yeah, I think we’re okay there. I’ve been divorced/separated for almost 2 years and haven’t been on a date since. If I’m pregnant, we need to re-read the Bible. Still, they wanted me to put as much into the cup as possible. I did my best, and they seemed satisfied. My parents and my minister were now in the room while I was poked with a needle for my IV. (My daughter was staying with my sister so she didn’t have to see all this, though she was well aware of what was going on). After a few tries on my left hand, the nurse gave up and put the IV into my right hand. We waited for a little bit, and that’s pretty much all I remember. The anesthesia they gave me for the surgery wiped out the memory of saying goodbye to my folks and taking a ride on the bed to the surgical room. It also wiped out a few select memories after the surgery, like meeting Aaron’s grandmother, whom I later “re-met” months down the road.

The surgery went well. They surgeon only used Dermabond, no stitches anywhere! Just this thin layer of glue held me closed. Yikes! (I later used this method to close up a gash in my daughter’s chin. Nail glue worked like a charm.) Aaron’s surgery went well, too. A doctor I spoke to later said that they barely had connected my kidney to his body when it started producing urine. A lot! The staff in the surgical room hadn’t seen many live donations, and they were used to having kidneys from recently deceased people. Apparently, those kidneys take a few seconds to minutes to go back to full production.

The pain was intense, but not as intense as it could have been if I didn’t have the little morphine button I could push every 15 minutes. And I did push it every 15 minutes. At some points, I watched the clock on the machine so I could push the button as soon as it reset. Lying down on the bed was tolerable, but the nurses wanted me walking around as soon as possible. Walking wasn’t so bad, either. It was the getting up process that was very hard. When you’re perfectly healthy and going about your normal day-to-day business, you don’t think about which muscles you’re using. It takes a lot of abdominal work to sit up, especially when they’ve just been cut into. I had to raise the head of my bed as much as I could and then lower the foot of the bed as far as possible before I could even think about getting up. USC is a teaching hospital, which is great, except when the new-ish nurses have never taken care of a patient who had abdominal-area surgery. One nurse apparently didn’t read my chart before coming to help me up. I needed a hand to hold onto and someone to push ever-so-gently so I could get out of bed. Yeah, that didn’t happen. He pushed me up and might as well have squeezed out tears from my eyes, it hurt so much. Luckily, that was all I saw of him the rest of my stay. He was a nice man, just a bit oblivious. Each day, the pain lessened, but not by much. The second day I was able to walk over to Aarons room to say hello. He was faring much better than I was, but the doctors said that was normal; when you’ve been sick for a very long time and you have surgery to make you better, you tend to heal and feel better faster – when you’re perfectly healthy and have surgery that changes how your body functions a bit, it takes quite a bit longer to get back to normal.

I was in the hospital for about 6 days. After day 3, I was sooo ready to go home, but wasn’t allowed to until I had a bowel movement; that’s how the doctors know you’re body is ok. Day 3 they allowed me to have a little sponge on a stick that I could soak in water and just brush on my tongue if I felt thirsty. I wasn’t allowed to drink water until I passed gas. I’d never been so happy to fart in my life! I even texted my folks and some others who were keeping tabs on me when it happened at 2:00 AM on Day 4. Now I was allowed to drink water and have broth for my meals. Day 4 they took out my catheter and let me use the restroom like normal adult. But I had to pee in a bucket (think training toilet for 2-3 year olds) so they could analyze it. By this point, I was starving, not having had solid food in my stomach for 5 days. But I wasn’t allowed to have food until I had a bowel movement. My thought was, “How can I poop if I don’t have anything to poop out!?!” Morning of Day 5 I did it. Yay! Now I can have lunch! Getting out of bed is easier and I’m able to walk laps around my recovery wing. Luckily, I’d packed a robe to put on over my little napkin of a gown they wanted me to wear. On the morning of Day 6, I was getting really antsy about going home, especially since if I stayed much longer, my ride home and caregivers (my parents) were supposed to be going up north to my uncle’s wedding. One of my surgeons stopped by and examined me. She commented how my stomach looked still a bit bloated/swollen from the anesthesia. I remarked back that, nope, that was just me. She laughed and said, “Why didn’t you say something before the surgery? We could have taken care of that while you were under!” I’m hoping she was joking, because if she wasn’t, I would be very sad at the missed opportunity to get rid of my “mommy-tummy.” She approved me to be released that afternoon!

Since women are kinda pre-programmed to forget intense pain (childbirth), I can’t really describe the pain I felt right after the surgery, but I do remember hating the pain. And being afraid of it. If you’ve ever felt the urge to sneeze while riding a bike down a busy street, you might come close to the fear I had. The doctors at the hospital told me to get a very firm pillow to hold against my incision for when I had to sneeze or cough. I think it was supposed to help me feel like I wasn’t going to open up and have my innards fall out. But it didn’t work. I came very close to hyperventilating every time I had to sneeze or cough, I was so scared. It hurt so much. Again, one of those things you don’t realize use your abdominal muscles. I would do everything I could to not cough, or to make the sneeze go through my nose. The pillow also didn’t help much on the ride home. That 5 freeway is in desperate need of repair; I felt every single pothole. I was so happy to go home. In our living room downstairs, we have recliners, so I knew I’d be okay camping out down there during the day. But sleeping in my bed was another story. Completely flat, and to make matters worse, I’m used to sleeping on my side. It didn’t matter which side I slept on, my incision site hurt. I would either lie on my left (where they took out my kidney) and be in intense pain, or sleep on my right and feel like my insides shifted and my now-healing incision was pulled down. And getting out of bed was fun. I would put my hands flat on the wall behind the head of my bed, carefully put my feet onto a stool on the floor, and then walk my hands up the wall until I was standing up straight. I did this acrobatic act every day for about 3 weeks.

I stayed on leave from work for 6 weeks. I was instructed to not do any heavy lifting for a couple weeks, and to take it very easy. I would tire very quickly and didn’t want to exhaust myself. I limited myself to one household task a day for the first week. Load the dishes in the dishwasher one day, go out and get the newspaper the next day. Luckily, I lived with my parents and didn’t have to function completely by myself, but I did have a few days where I was alone and had some friends drop by while my folks were away at my uncle’s place. For me, it was very hard to be “lazy.” While I can occasionally be a couch potato, I cannot do it full-time. I read a few books and caught up on movies and T.V. shows, all from the comfort of my recliner. But I was still very tired. When it was time to go back to work, I went back part-time, just working half a day. That tired me out even more because I tried to get a full day’s work done in 4 hours. But I finally managed to get back to work full-time 7 weeks after surgery.

A year-and-a-half later, I’m doing fine, and so is Aaron. So well, in fact, that he has moved out of state to be closer to his girlfriend. He will have to take anti-rejection medication for the rest of his life, even though we were such a good blood match. But that might change one day. I hear they are doing research on doing bone marrow donations before a live kidney transplant to make the recipient’s blood think it’s the donor’s blood and greatly reduce the chance of rejection. Maybe someday they’ll figure out if a post-kidney transplant bone marrow donation will do the same. I’m up for that, if Aaron is.

As for me, I’m good. I’m still numb below my scar; the numbness reaches about 4 inches down. The scar is a nice thin line and a very faded pink. My normal life has not changed at all, except for needing to use the restroom right when I wake up in the morning. I used to be able to go 8-10 hours w/o needing a stop in the ladies room, but now I feel the urge every 4-6 hours. I’m not sure it has anything to do with my surgery, but it doesn’t bother me. I have to make sure I drink enough water during the day to keep my only kidney working properly. I can have more kids if I so choose, but I have to stay away from contact sports that could hurt my other kidney. I can still donate blood, but I have to watch how much alcohol I consume. And I have to take acetaminophen instead of ibuprofen when I have a headache or any other pain. I have discovered that the internal scar tissue is still a bit tight; sit-ups are tough and I feel like I’m going to pull a muscle, but only on that side. So, I don’t have 6-pack abs. Oh well. I’m healthy and so is Aaron.

So that’s my story. I hope that it gives any potential living donors out in the world the encouragement they need to make the right decision for them. I will gladly talk to anyone who is considering being a living donor, to help answer any questions they might have. I don’t think I have all the answers, and obviously a doctor will have more information, but if anyone needs a donor’s perspective, I’m here. Actually, I’m not here…I’m heading for the ladies room.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Here's YOUR Sign

The Orange/Santa Ana/Tustin/Costa Mesa/etc. police departments either need to step it up or hire me part-time. It seems that people seem to be forgetting the most recently created laws. Every day this last week I have seen people texting while driving and holding their phones up to their ears while driving. What is up with these people? Have they not heard about the gruesome train crash that was caused by texting while driving (conducting)? I even saw one mom texting and driving with her infant in the backseat; and she wasn't even looking at the road!

I made a little hand-written sign saying, "HANG UP! HANDSFREE!" but every person I show it to just gives me a little nod and continues on. What's up!?! Seriously, if I was an undercover cop, they'd soooo be busted! I know that these violations are pull-over-able, but there never seems to be a police car nearby. Can I make a citizen's arrest over this? I am angry and completely powerless at the same time. If the idiot next to me is texting and drifts into my lane (or makes a lane change without checking behind her first, as happened this Monday), I'm at the mercy of the technology-addicted idiot.

For now, I feel all I can do is go to FedEx Office and make an 8.5x11 laminated sign that says, "YOU'RE BREAKING THE LAW!!!" so that everyone around them can see.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Kodak Moments

Being a mom of a 5-year-old, I like to have a lot of pictures taken of my little girl to show how much she's changed yet stayed the same. But, being the mom of a 5-year-old, I've learned that I can't always get the perfect picture. She'll blink in the first 3, smile like a monkey in the next 4, then smile beautifully for the last one, but turn away at the last second so all I get is a blurry blob that somewhat resembles my child. And I'm forever trying to come up with new phrases to get her to smile. "Say 'Happy Birthday!' Say 'Chuck E. Cheese!' Say 'Banana!' Say "Stinky Cheese!' Say 'I'm Outta Here!'" I love digital cameras because I can delete all those bad ones so I have room to take even more weird shots. But in the end, the ones I put on my computer are gorgeous, as few as they are.

I think I have found a happy medium to all this madness. Silhouette cut-outs from Disneyland! My daughter only has to sit still for a few minutes while the wonderful Cast Member works his/her magic with only a pair of scissors and a piece of paper. The cuteness of my child is caught forever in this little portrait, but the rolling of the eyes or the frozen smile ("Mom, are we done yet? My cheeks hurt!) are not. I can even get a cute little black frame to hang on the wall or stand on a shelf/piano/hearth/victrola/end table.

For Mother's Day this year, my wonderful dad took my gorgeous child to Disneyland to get a new silhouette done. The last one I'd had done was in late 2005/early 2006 when she wasn't even 2 yet. While that first one still looks like my Em, she's definitely changed since then. And this new one is fantastic! When looking at the two portraits side-by-side, you can tell it's the same child, yet somehow you can tell that she's older in the second one. I can't quite tell you how, but the first one clearly shows she still has that baby face. I decided to write the date of the new silhouette on the back so I can keep track later.

This may just be my new tradition with Em. Since we're Annual Passholders at Disneyland anyway, it makes sense. I haven't decided how often to get new ones done, but maybe I'll just do certain milestones. Starting 4th grade, starting 7th, starting 9th, High School graduation... Or perhaps after she looses her first tooth, rides her bike without training wheels, looses her last tooth (wisdom teeth aside), her first dance, passing her DMV test, prom...

Maybe I'll do them all. I think I can never have too many reminders of how my little one is not so little anymore.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Super Trooper

"Em" starts Kindergarten in the fall (previous post), so we headed to the doctor's office to get her physical and shots. On the drive over, I told her what we were doing, and she asked if she would get shots. I told her most likely, and reminded her that they might hurt. Em's had shots before, and she's seen me get my shots, so she knew what to expect. Em replied, "That's ok, they keep me healthy!" Atta girl!

So we're in the examining room, and "Rachel," the nurse, explains that it might hurt, and that Em can hold my hand if she wants while the shots are administered into her legs (why not in the arms, I don't know). She drizzles some liquid on Em's legs, so it won't hurt as much, then gets ready for the first shot (no clue which one it was). Em just watches her stick the needle in her leg, like she's watching a ladybug crawl around. No biggie. She does the same with shot #2.

Then the nurse moved over to the other leg to do the MMR (this one I remember!) and proceeds as before. Em just watches her. About 5 second after the shot's in, Em starts to cry a bit. The nurse explains (now she tells me) that this one stings quite a bit more. After 10 seconds of "Ow, Ow, Ow, Ow, Ow!" hiccupping cries, Em's stops crying suddenly and is ready to go home! She has one more shot to get in about a week since they were out of stock this time, then she's ready for school!

I'm so proud of my little girl. My Super Trooper! Three shots and only 10 seconds of crying. Not bad for a 5-year-old. My sister's gonna be embarassed that she doesn't handle shots this well.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Too busy for birthdays

This past Saturday, Em went to her first birthday party in about 2 years. It's not that we don't get invited, or that I don't want to let her go to parties, but it just seems that every one of them landed on a day we already had immovable plans. But this time around, not only did she get to go to one, we stayed for about 5 hours! She and I both had a great time playing with the kids and grownups in the jumper and watching the new 7-year-old open his presents.

Em turns 5 this year. For her birthday, I'm taking her to Disneyland. It's nothing new; we both have Annual Passes and I've taken her to Disneyland for her birthday every year since we moved back to California. But this year, Disney is offering free entry into one of their parks on your birthday, or if (like us) you already have paid admission for that day, you can get a gift card or a pack of FastPasses. Em is only too short for 2 of the FastPass rides, so we'll get that pack and fly through lines all day! But spending the day at Disneyland with me means not really celebrating it with anyone else. My folks already have camping reservations, my sister and her fiance don't have Annual Passes anymore, and almost everyone we know who does have a pass is blocked from both parks that day. I had wanted to take her to dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory with the family and some close friends, but it looks like that will have to happen 4 days after. And there's no time for a party; her schedule is packed! Two days before her birthday she has rehearsal for the play she's in. One day before, my folks will be gone by the time I get home from work. The day after her birthday she has her kids group at church in the afternoon/evening. Two and three days after her birthday she has tech rehearsal for her play from 4 until 9 PM! Poor thing! The 4th day we catch a bit of a break, but she has swimming until 6.

As an adult, I don't mind spreading my birthday out a bit. But most new 5-year-olds want to get all their presents (and attention) on the day of their birthday, not 4 days later! I've thought of not going to Disneyland on her birthday, but she really wants to go! I know we have Passes, but she doesn't want to go after her birthday and wear a birthday button, because it wouldn't be the truth (her words, not mine); it wouldn't really be her birthday. And the next opportunity we have for going to Disneyland is two weeks after her birthday. So, I'm just stuck wondering if I should feel bad that my little (big) girl doesn't get to have a party on her birthday with a bunch of people and presents, or if I should get over it because it seems like she has.

Maybe she's more grown-up than I'd like to admit.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A God-given Crown

Proverbs 16:31: "Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life."

A couple of days ago I discovered my first gray hairs, one month before my 26th birthday. A few strands on the right side of my head, just above my ear. Not just little gray roots, but completely gray from root to tip. I colored my hair last Fall with a level 2 color and have been meaning to do it again to lighten it up for Spring. I love experimenting with different colors; I don't mean green or blue, but I try different shades of brown or red. I find it fun to see what shades work well with my complexion. I've never "needed" to color my hair, just did it for the thrill. But now, I feel I have a "real" reason.

I had always thought that when I go gray, I will let it go naturally. It'd be the closest to blonde I'll have been since I was 5. But I never expected that it would start in my mid-20s. So now what? Do I just keep coloring my hair regularly until I'm in my 50s? I don't want to be one of those women whose hair stays unnaturally dark into their 70s. Or have to color my hair gray instead of brown until I can grow my own natural gray. Some people look good with gray when they're young, like Taylor Hicks (yes, Mom, that one's for you). Maybe I'll just leave these little grays alone, color the rest of my hair as I please, and let it be "character." Like Rogue (no, I didn't have to look her up; I'm moderatlely familiar with comic book characters), just not as pronounced.

I suppose getting the gray comes with being a mom, and maybe being a single mom made it come early. I don't think I've been given too much grief in my almost-5 years of parenthood, but maybe just the regular stresses I've learned to deal with are what caused it. Maybe it's like the good book of Proverbs says, I've led a righteous life. Hmm...would it be arrogant to say that I think I have, young as I may be? Or is it a sign of righteousness to come? Or is it truly a crown to wear proudly and say, "Look! I've had a good life so far! See my badge of honor!"

Maybe it's genetics. I have family members who let their gray grow in starting in their late 30s, and I have some who are past their 50s who still color it. When should I let my hair show its age? Will it be cute and endearing to have gray this young, or will it turn dates-to-be away?

I'm curious to know how many other people out there got their gray early and what they did about it. And what those who hide their gray think about those who let their gray show, either out of shamelessness or forfeit.

For now I think I'll let it be. I know not to pull them out. If I did that every time I find a new one, I won't have any hairs, gray or not, left. I can always color it, maybe a wash-out kind that will allow more grays to show little by little so I can assess the damage and make the next decision.

For now I will wear my crown proudly.

Sort of.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I'm choking up, and it's only March!

Today my daughter is no longer my baby. She is growing up. I drove over to the public elementary school near my house to put her name in for Kindergarten Open Enrollment. The school she's "supposed" to go to is not far away, but this one is closer and gets higher test scores out of it's students (they won't assign this school to my neighborhood because it's across railroad tracks from us, and they don't want kids crossing tracks to get to school).

So, if her name gets picked from the lottery later this month, she'll start school on August 20!! That's only 5 months away! 5 months and my little girl is a big girl going to a big-kid school. Where did the time go? Can it really have been 3 years since I drove a U-Haul with 2 cats and 1 toddler down from Washington to start over? Has it been almost 2 years since my daughter got her very own Annual Pass to Disneyland?

It can't be time yet for Kindergarten! I'm not ready! She is, she's more than ready, but I'm not! She just learned to tie her shoes a few months ago! She's still on training wheels! She can't sleep anywhere without her blue receiving blanket! Where'd my baby go?

Luckily, she still lets me call her "my baby." She knows she's not a baby, but she knows she's my baby. And here come the tears....

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hanging In There

Another dating site, another bust.

I joined a few weeks ago. It's a bit of a beauty contest, I think. If you don't look like a beauty queen or put body type as "A Few Extra Pounds," then you don't get a lot of hits. Sorry, but having a kid will change your body shape. I didn't have the luxury of getting a personal trainer to kick my butt back into shape 3 days after my daughter was born. And my kidney donation left it uncomfortable to do many sit-ups. So my curves come from love and kindness. But it doesn't let you put that in there. Just "A Few Extra Pounds."

To date, only one man on there has reached out to me. I have reached out to about 5. The first one I spoke to seemed very nice. Past his "party days" and has done volunteer work overseas. He's got knee problems like I do, and he's close to his family. We e-mailed back and forth for a few days before I gave him my number. He called and we talked for a while. It seemed we'd hit it off. We discussed meeting up soon. He said he'd call after Valentine's Day weekend; he was going to visit his mom for the weekend. And here it is, a week after he called, and I haven't heard from him. No e-mails, no phone calls...nothing.

While I don't think a guy should do all the work, nor do I completely subscribe to keeping score in a relationship, I do think that there should be a fair amount of responsibility or sharing in the work that is done. I was the one to e-mail him first. I was the one who gave him my number. I was the one to suggest we meet up, since we'd enjoyed talking online. He called me, and he told me he'd call me again. So, I want to hold him to it. A part of me wants to "be the man" and call him. Another part of me doesn't because it's his turn. And yet another part says not to bother, since he's obviously not interested. I know he didn't fall off the face of the earth; I've seen him online. I just don't like being dropped like a hot potato or ignored. If you're not interested, tell me. Don't leave me guessing what I did wrong. I like to learn from my mistakes, or at least what turned the guy off.

The sarcastic part of me thinks either his mom or one of his buddies told him he doesn't want to get involved with a single mom; thanks to Tom Leykis, a lot of guys out there think single moms are looking for a sugar daddy or are loose women who just want child support to help their shopping addiction. I was married for a year before my (ex) husband and I conceived our daughter. I was married to him for another 2 years before we decided to separate and divorce. I have a full-time job so I can take care of my daughter and have a second part-time job so that I can give her the life experiences she deserves (trips to Disneyland, swimming lessons, dance lessons, toys), all while saving away the most money I can to help her when she goes to college. I don't need someone else's money to do that for me.

But guys don't seem to see that part. They see "Yes" next to the question "Do you have children" and they run away as fast as they can. I'm a person who needs honesty in my life, therefore I'm not going to put "No" as my answer to that question. I know that I don't want to be with a guy who doesn't see me for me, but it's hard on the self-esteem when I haven't met a guy who does see me for me in the almost-three years I've been single. I can't force anyone to want to date a single mom, nor do I want to. But I do want to meet the guys out there who are okay with it, who know that I have interests outside of my child.

Where are they?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Pride and warm fuzzy feelings

This may be the shortest of all my blogs, past and future.

Late last year my church celebrated its 125th anniversary. Yesterday we dedicated our newly remodeled courtyard. We had a great crowd of members in attendance, including many multiple-generation families, mine included. A reporter from the Register came to write about the event and our church.

I love my church and can't imagine finding a more welcoming, warm and comfortable place to worship, learn and be. My church is my family and I'm proud to have been around for these celebrations. I only hope my daughter and her future family continue to worship at this wonderful church in the years to come.

If you're interested in reading the article, please follow this link:

And, as always, we welcome anyone to come worship with us and see if our church is somewhere you'd like to grow.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Where'd the resume go?

I've been divorced for almost 4 years now. And I can count on one hand how many dates I've been on. I know that it can be hard for a divorced mom at my age to date, especially when there are so many time commitments that are more important. My daughter will always come first, but after she's taken care of, it's hard to find the time to go out and "hunt." So I use dating sites to supplement. I've been on eHarmony for almost 3 years. I've used, and more recently have signed up for

Two of the dates I've been on since my divorce came from dating sites; one from lasted a couple of weeks, but I ended it after discovering that my "match" wanted to focus on the physical aspect of the relationship. He'd thought that since we'd talked online for a few days, we knew each other intellectually and didn't need to work on that part anymore. The other date I had came from eHarmony about 8 months ago. We talked awhile on the site, then decided to meet for a date. We sipped tea, shared a dessert, and talked so long that my mom called and told me she was going to bed and I should come home. :) We had a great time and really hit it off... I thought. I never heard from him again. He never responded to my e-mails or phone calls.

The one thing I've noticed on all of these sites are the lack of effort many men put into their profiles. I can't say if women do the same thing, since I'm only interested in dating men and therefore never see the profiles of other women. But a lot of the men I'm "matched" up with don't seem to spend any time on their profiles at all. I can always tell in 5 seconds looking at the profile if I'm going to communicate at all with the person. Here's my checklist of pet-peeves when it comes to your online "resume" (as I call it):

1. Capitalize your name.
2. Don't use all caps. It's bad typing etiquette and it hurts my eyes.
3. Use punctuation. It's really hard to tell where your sentences start and stop.
4. Use spell check. Really, how hard is it to click the little check mark?
5. Answer all the questions, and use complete sentences. "Brother" is not a proper answer to "Who is the most influential person in your life and why?"
6. Don't try to be too funny. If you put that you are perfect in every way and you make fun of stereotypical girls, it's really hard to tell if you're joking or being serious.
7. Treat your profile as a resume. If you wouldn't want a prospective employer to see something like this, what makes you think you'll catch a wife this way?
8. Don't put "I don't know what to write" anywhere. If you'd spend more than 5 minutes on it, you could probably figure out an answer.
9. Don't include camera phone shots of you without a shirt in the bathroom mirror. Seriously. If I wanted a grainy, dark lit, poorly taken picture of some one's torso, I'd switch over to the cable channel we don't subscribe to and try to watch the movie through the static.

And these are just the basic ones. I have other things I look for, but for my own preferences (must be a reader, must be family oriented, etc.).

Maybe I'm too picky. Is it too much to ask for a guy whose handwriting I can read and actually paid attention in English class, who knows how (and likes) to cook something other than mac & cheese, who enjoys learning on their free time, who knows how to have a good time without insulting other people or being rude, who doesn't spend as much time watching football or playing video games as possible, who appreciates and takes care of his possessions, who likes kids, who can live without his cell phone for 48 hours, who knows that wearing holey jeans and an old T-shirt isn't appropriate except when working around his own house...

I've said it before, and I'll admit it again: I wish I could find a guy like my dad. My mom is a very lucky woman.

Whatever happened to first impressions? Thinking ahead? Being respectful? Wanting to improve oneself? Probably just wishful thinking... Or do I just have to trudge through the trenches to find my pearl?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Whoa! Dream Big!

Being a single mom, I have learned to accept that there are somethings I won't be able to do, at least for awhile. No cross-country road trips with girl friends, no back-packing across Europe, no living in Italy for months with immersion as the only way to learn the language. It's just not possible for me at this point in my life. But I do still have dreams. I dream of having my own home in Orange County so that I'm close to my family and my church. I dream of going to Hawaii for a honeymoon (that goes along with my dream of marrying a fantastically well-read, educated, kid-friendly man). I dream of taking a cruise to the Caribbean. And I also dream of being able to work from home so that I'm able to spend more time with my daughter.

A few weeks after I learned that my now-ex-husband and I were pregnant with our daughter, I joined a well-known direct sales company (per company rules, I cannot promote my business by name on any website) that sells cooking utensils. I did it to earn money while not working during my pregnancy. 5+ years later I'm still selling for them, mostly to earn what I call "Disneyland money;" My daughter and I both have annual passes and this second job helps pay for them. And it would be very nice if this could be my full-time job, but seeing as how being self-employed means paying high premiums for healthcare, I feel tied to my "real" job in the health insurance industry. But, my direct sales job does have it's perks: I decide how much to work, when to work, plus I get a discount on the things I sell (great for stocking up for my future kitchen). And, every year they have an incentive trip; sell enough for the company and you get to go somewhere for free! This year the incentive is a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida. Early entry into one of the parks, dinner at another park, travel allowance, breakfast with favorite characters, the works! I've never earned a trip in the 5 years that I've been selling, but that's because I consider myself a "casual consultant." In it for the extra cash, not for life. And the goal for the best option for the trip is very high; do-able, but high. My average yearly sales are about $6000, only 5% of what I need to earn the best option for the trip! But every year consultants across the country make this goal and have the time of their life courtesy of this company.

So, even though I've never sold enough to earn even the first level of the incentives, I'm going to quote Juno (though out of context) and "Dream Big!" They say that if you aim for the moon and miss, at least you'll land among the stars (I never really agreed with this saying because it was said before people knew that stars are even farther out of reach than the moon). If I don't make it to the best option for this incentive, at least I will have earned a lot more money than I have in the past, and I may even make it to Florida on the company, but just not stay as long as I would with the top option.

So here's to dreaming big and working hard! Perhaps my New Year's Resolution should be to make more phone calls for my business and put more shows on my calendar. I may not go to Walt Disney World on my company's dime, but I might just make it that much easier to reach next year's goal.

(P.S. If you're interested in helping me reach my goal of going to Walt Disney World and would like to host a party for the above un-named direct sales company, you can reach me by clicking on my profile and sending me an e-mail. Sorry, doesn't hurt to ask for business.)

My fearless child, friends and I on Tower of Terror at DCA

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