Had Some Time

Another weekend gone. They go so quickly sometimes. I suppose it only makes sense. We spend five days each week counting down to just two and before we know it, we’re back to Monday again.

Squeezed in some good stuff during my two days though, I think. I had some time to go out with Mark. It was bowling night. And we left early to meet up with some of the others from the league. We ate, talked and laughed with friends before heading to the lanes. And bowling was good. Mark bowled a turkey in one of his games (three strikes in a row). I got a turkey in the tenth frame of each of two of my games. Actually, I got three turkeys, if you count the one I had in practice. Ironically, our final scores weren’t what we’d hoped they would be, considering all the strikes. But we had fun, which is always the real goal anyway.

I had some time with Jake. He let me take him bowling on Sunday afternoon. I love that he still lets me do that. It gives me a chance to get him talking, as much as it’s possible to get him talking, which isn’t much. But I asked a bunch of questions about how things are going at his job and soon he was filling me in on the happenings there. He seems pretty happy with what he’s doing for now, which is good. We had a good time bowling together too. We played three games. He beat me twice and somehow I beat him once, which is pretty impressive considering he’s a pretty damn good bowler. Way better than me.

After Jake and I came home from bowling, I had some time with Kacey. She ran errands with me and we made a special stop to pick up some coffee for the Keurig. (Oh, how we love our Keurig coffee maker!) Kacey’s pick was Chocolate Glazed Donut coffee. I went for the Butter Toffee flavor. We made another stop for some other necessities and we talked all through the store. I asked if she had plans for the evening or if she might be staying home. She replied, “I dunno. Do you want me to stay home?” I said it would be nice to have her home for dinner for a change and so she agreed. Later she chatted with me in the kitchen while I made a pan of lasagna. She’s so easy to be with. I can see us in the coming years, when she’s home from college or later when she’s made a life of her own, still getting together to shop, or cook or bake, and talking non-stop the entire time.

Later Sunday evening, I even had some time with Brad, though it had to be by phone. That’s okay. I’ll take what I can get. He called home just to let us know he was back at school after spending the weekend with Heather at her parents’ house. He and I have been communicating frequently lately due to some jeans I ordered and had shipped to him at school. The shipment never arrived and it’s been nearly a month since I ordered them. The tracking status continually states that the shipment is “in transit.” Brad was making fun of me today because last week I sent him a text asking if the jeans had arrived yet. When he replied that they had still not arrived, I sent another text saying, “What the frick? I’m calling that company and getting my money back!” He thought my use of the word “frick” was the funniest thing ever and now won’t let me hear the end of it. It was good to hear his voice, even if he was making fun of me. And he always responds in kind to my “I love you” when we end our phone calls which always makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

So another weekend is over, but we didn’t just pass the time. We spent it well.

Find Your Joy

I was talking with a friend after we finished bowling last night. She’s in a position of having to make a decision about her job. She could stay with her current employer and take a promotion that doesn’t excite her and won’t compensate her accordingly, or she can think about doing something else. It’s clear she’s given this a lot of thought. As she thinks about what else she might do, she’s begun to think not just about how to earn a decent living, but about what type of work she would find most rewarding and exciting. While she contemplates what’s next, she has come to realize how much she enjoys fashion. She loves to watch the t.v. show, Say Yes to the Dress and other fashion-type shows and thinks she might want to work in such an industry. My friend has reached that point in her life when she’s come to realize that what she does for a living should not just provide a paycheck, but give her a sense of fulfillment.

I couldn’t agree with her more. Granted, not everyone has the luxury of choosing a job that they love to go to each and every day. All too often, many of us just have to do what we have to do in order to support ourselves and our families. (I’m one of the lucky ones who has to work, but happened to fall into a job that I love to do. I’m grateful every day for that.)

Life is full of stuff we don’t necessarily want to do, but we have to none-the-less. I think though, that each of us is tasked with finding fulfillment in between all of the things that aren’t so fun and exciting. I think that fact escapes so many people. We probably all know someone who always seems to be holding back, poking holes in everything life has to offer. They trudge through life facing everything merely with a sense of obligation and showing very little emotion. Their greatest satisfaction comes from controlling those around them and when they laugh, it is only at the expense of someone else.

I don’t want to be one of those pessimistic types. I love those people who grab life by the horns. No matter what comes their way, they find something good in it and take something from the experience. They cherish their friends and family, managing to ignore their faults and finding something good inside each, bringing it out in the open, helping each to shine in their own way.

I want to be one of those people, and I try but don’t always succeed. Sometimes it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of picking things apart, finding fault in others, or refusing to believe there might be something of value in a particular experience. I think when we do that, we poison the attitudes of those around us too. Why do we do that? Because we’re afraid to we might get hurt? Do we think that by dismissing a particular person or experience up front that it’s less likely to hurt when our expectations aren’t met? When I put it that way, it seems like a pretty dismal way to go through life.

Maybe I’m not just lucky in my job. It’s not a perfect job and it has its pitfalls, yet I return to the office every day, for the most part, enthusiastically. Maybe every experience becomes what you make it – good or bad – it’s your choice. Find your joy in life.

Different Weekends

It used to be that on the weekends – almost every weekend, I had to be up with an alarm clock and off to some game or tournament with one of the kids. It didn’t matter what time of year it was. There was always a football, soccer, basketball, volleyball or softball game or tournament to attend. And usually, whatever sport it was, it would be an all day affair. I’d find myself trying to figure out how to squeeze in chores, grocery shopping and such. Finding time to just kick back and watch a movie or read a book was difficult. It was a rare weekend when we could sleep in and spend the weekend doing whatever we liked.

Kacey at the bat

Of course the kids always liked playing their sports and I have always enjoyed watching them play. Those were some great times. But I have to admit, there was many a day when I wished I could have the weekend to do as I pleased.

And now, that day is finally here… at least until this summer when Kacey plays traveling softball once again. (Yes, she’s decided to give it one last hurrah!)

I spend a lot of time on this blog lamenting how quickly the years have passed and how much I miss the days when my kids needed and wanted me for more than my car or some money. I often find myself missing the days when I made lunches of macaroni and cheese and seeing three little bodies gathered around the table to eat together. I miss the constant drone of Disney movies and stepping on Legos and Matchbox cars. I miss colorful picture books and reading Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel or The Napping House for the hundredth time.

All of a sudden, my weekends are pretty free. I’ve started staying up later – because I can. (Okay… because I’m waiting for my daughter to come home at midnight.) I’ve started sleeping in – because I can. Oh, the kids are still busy running here, there and everywhere, but they don’t want or need me to come along. And I’ve got to say, I rather like this. It’s after ten o’clock on a Saturday morning and I’m still hanging out in my pajamas, drinking coffee and writing. I have all day to do what I need to do, and all day to do what I want to do.

I normally have a tendency to view growing older with reluctance and a bit of sadness. But this? These wonderful, free, lazy weekends? I’ll take ‘em. Growing older definitely has some benefits!

Better Days

It has just occurred to me what a really good week this has been. Twice this week while driving through the parking ramp, trying to find a place to park, a car pulled out of the most-perfect parking spot just as I was coming up behind. Twice this week, I got to park right near the door to the skyway that leads to my office. No need to park way up in the upper levels of the ramp. No need to walk great distances to get inside and get warm.

More importantly, I felt good this week. No sign of the winter blues. Was it the fact that I got back into an exercise routine? Was it the yogurt and granola I had for breakfast every day? Maybe it was because the temperatures rose well above zero this week.

Those things might have contributed to my happier demeanor. But I think it also has a lot to do with the fact that I’ve been reminded that I can choose where to place my focus. When I start feeling down about something, if I allow my focus to stay there, well of course, I’m going to feel miserable. I have to remember to give more weight to the more positive thoughts.

Anyway, it’s probably a combination of all of the above. It probably comes naturally to some, but clearly not to me.  I guess like anything, it’s going to take some practice and effort. Just have to keep reminding myself.

*So that whole theory was sorely tested yesterday. You remember the whole “Red/Blue” debate I had with a coworker? Well, our team was supposed to meet with the resident Red/Blue expert to resolve our debate yesterday. Except the team did not meet with him. My coworker had her own private meeting with him and then shared her findings with the rest of the team via email. And who was right? The world may never know. We were informed that the expert said that “many of the changes we were debating would apply to both systems.” There were no specifics and the document we had been working on was completed without the input of the rest of the team. My first reaction was very much a girl reaction. I was put out that one person took it upon herself to address our questions to the expert while denying the rest of the team the benefit of hearing anything that was said first-hand. I assumed the information that was provided us was only what one person wanted the rest of the group to hear. And yes, I stewed about it. Most of the day. And on my way home from work, I realized I’d let the whole situation ruin my entire day. And why was I giving so much weight to it all? It didn’t matter how the information was labeled in a document. The reality is, the changes will be made on the appropriate system, regardless of what any of us believes about where they apply. Not to mention, the person with whom I was butting heads is known for her strong personality. And she’s got a few difficult things going on in her life at the moment. And much of this probably has very little to do with me in all actuality. So why was I taking it so personally? I decided this morning to be a new woman, let it go, and express my energies toward the things over which I do have control. It was a good time to come to this conclusion, since we have another team meeting first thing this morning :D

*I’ll be deleting this entire paragraph in a few days. I promised myself I wasn’t going to write about work on this blog, at least not negatively.

The Challenges of Working Out and Actual Work

I wanted to go to the gym yesterday morning, but I forgot to set my alarm early enough. But I still had time to do a little something, so I thought, “Hey. I haven’t worked out with the Wii Fit in a while. I’ll do that!”

So the thing about the Wii Fit is that it scolds you if it thinks you haven’t been faithful to your workouts. Mine pretended not to remember my name and then told me it had been 640 days since my last workout. You know why it’s been 640 days since my last workout? Because the thing about the Wii Fit is that by the time your personal trainer gets done talking and making suggestions and encouraging your efforts, it has taken an hour to do thirty minutes of exercise. And then you hardly feel as if you’ve accomplished anything.

But the Wii Fit does have its merits. I chose to work on building muscle and did something called side planks, which is a glorified push-up. I can feel the effects a little bit in my upper body. One of the other exercises I did… the jack-knife… which is a good exercise for your abs… oh yeah. I’m feeling that today. My stomach muscles are all like, “Hey now. Whadda ya think you’re doin’? We like lethargy. Send down some more chocolate chip cookies, will ya?”

Okay, well I like when it hurts after working out. Makes me feel as if I accomplished something. And as long as I’m not hurting so much I can’t function normally, it’s a good hurt.

Today I just went to the gym and did my three-mile speed walk on the treadmill. (Good compromise for failed runners like me.) My stomach muscles are thanking me. But tomorrow, it’s on again. Jack knives!!! Gotta fight that winter pudge.

Today at work, I have a meeting which is necessary because we didn’t accomplish what we needed to accomplish in our meeting yesterday. And I was the reason. We were supposed to be documenting what changes we were requesting in various online systems for our current project. So as not to bore you, let’s just say that we were contemplating which changes applied to Red System and which ones to Blue System. We hit a brick wall when my coworker said she thought a particular change applied to Blue, and I said I was pretty sure it was Red. Actually, I knew it was Red, but I was trying to be polite. I’m pretty sure my coworker was just as confident about her Blue stance, but was also trying to be polite. We went back and forth, explaining our positions to no avail. Finally, I pulled out some screen prints from the Red System and showed her the page where we would want the particular change. I pointed out at the top of the screen that it was actually titled, “Red System.”

“See,” I said? “It says right here that it is Red.”

“Yeah, but you have to log in to Blue at this point in the process in order to link back to Red,” she argued. “So the change applies to Blue.”

“No,” I said. “Blue is just the gateway to Red. We’re still asking for the change in Red. Just because we had to go through Blue to get there, doesn’t mean that we’re no longer on the Red System.”

Back and forth, back and forth we went to the point where my coworker decided she was going to go get Rick, the resident expert in the Red and Blue systems. Unfortunately, Rick wasn’t available, so the question went unanswered. We agreed to disagree and figure out where to assign the change later.

So we moved on. A while later, as my coworker was paging through her own set of screen prints, she stopped and pointed something out on one of the pages. “Oh, hey wait a minute. Look at this. It says right here at the top of the screen that it’s the Red System.”

I couldn’t respond. Just bit my lip. And then she went on to say, “I still think the change needs to be assigned to Blue System. But we’ll talk to Rick about it tomorrow.”

AARGH! I don’t normally find myself arguing so passionately about something, but I was so sure I was right and if I could just get her to see my point of view, she’d agree I was right too. I was about a thousand percent positive that I was right, but in the interest of moving on, I let it be. So I guess we’ll find out today when Rick decides who’s right and who’s wrong.

I am not normally one who just has to be right. (Disclaimer: The previous statement does not apply to life at home. Just ask the hubby.) I just had a horrible thought though. What if I am wrong? Then I’ll have to come back here and publicly announce just how wrong I was. Stay tuned!

A Rare Sighting

It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a great while, we enjoy the return of an elusive creature.

"The TEENAGER!"

Teenagers are unfamiliar with the concept of down-time, otherwise known as “relaxing” or “vegging out.” As you can see, this one still found ways to stay connected to the boyfriend, via FaceBook chat. She nearly crawled out of her skin at the thought of staying in the house for the evening. (I’m not sure then, why she chose to do so. It’s not as if she was grounded. I have a suspicion she knows she’s been gone just a bit too much and decided to toss us a bread crumb by gracing us with her presence for a change. Ohhhh….wait… Now I get it! She’s going to ask for money soon. I’m sure of it!)

Her inability to sit still definitely worked out in my favor, though. I had two of these, fresh from the oven. Crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside. Yum!

Anyone who wants to bake cookies is welcome in my kitchen anytime!

Must find ways to keep her home more often!

I’ve probably said this all before…

Seems like I’m always worrying about who is reading this blog, which is an awfully contradictory feeling for someone who has continually posted her thoughts on the internet for the past four years. I mean really. If it bothers me so much, why don’t I quit writing in such a public forum?

Why?

I always marvel at the few people I know who write openly, using their real names. Most bloggers that I’ve met, like me, hide behind a screen name that provides at least an element of anonymity. And that’s probably wise if you’re worried about protecting your own identity and that of your family. But there are a few who use their full legal names, and though I admire them, I have no desire to go public in that same way.

I did a Google search for Terri Terri and it turns out, I’m pretty visible on the web for anyone who might want to look for me. Not that this is news to me. I guess I just try not to think about it too much. But I will admit to contemplating starting over again on a new blog, with a more anonymous screen name.

So I started wondering for the millionth time, if I don’t want my family and friends reading this stuff, why do I keep putting it out here? And I realized I do this for one reason. I love to write. I do. I love to write. And I put my writing on the internet because I love it when others read what I have to say, and connect with it. I love writing a blog because it provides an opportunity for others to provide feedback in the form of comments. Of course, the feedback is almost always positive. It’s entertaining. It makes me think. It’s fun. Sometimes it’s an ego boost.

And there’s where I figured out why I’m always so concerned about who is reading this stuff. It’s not the constant need for positive feedback. (Okay, let’s be honest. It is a driving force.) It’s not knowing what people think that bothers me because I assume the worst. It’s the “not knowing” that makes me that shy, insecure young girl again who is way too concerned with what others think, and constantly assuming they think the worst. “It’s weird. It’s stupid. It’s boring.” And yes, it’s probably wise to have a system of checks and balances that prevent me from pushing the limits, but not to the point that it paralyzes me with fear of being judged.

Note to self. Sometimes what you write is going to be weird or stupid or boring. Get over it. It’s all a part of the process. And also? Grow up.

I love to write.

There are very few things in this world about which I can say I am talented. And I think I am good at this. Yes, I know sometimes I fall very short, but if I could get it perfect every time, what would be the point of practicing it every day?

I had a thought last week. On very few occasions, my parents have shared stories from their past. It hasn’t happened nearly often enough, but each of those times, I remember being transported back in time and truly enjoying a glimpse into their younger days. I want to ask them to share more stories and I want to write them down. About two days after I had these thoughts, my sister told me she started a blog to accompany her genealogy research. My first reaction was to forget about my idea and let her run with the family stories. But then I realized, there have got to be plenty enough family stories for both of us to write, each from our own perspective. Why should I feel put out because she had a similar idea? Hell, it will probably make it more fun to have someone with whom to collaborate. Not to mention, if I ever were to do this, I’m going to hope that my family will want to read it.

So am I going to stop feeling so self-conscious? Probably not. Am I going to be instantly comfortable with the idea that the people in my real life might be reading my words? No. But I am going to quit acting like I have something to hide. I guess I’ll stay put here.

Unwinding with some Mystic Pizza

I’ve been needing to find ways to fend off the winter blues that I’ve been feeling lately, so I made a plan to spend some time with my sister this weekend. We had talked on the phone on Saturday and when we both realized we didn’t have much going on for the weekend, we made plans to get together. Knowing I wanted to free up some time to hang out with Cory helped me get all the chores out of the way on Saturday, so my Sunday would be relatively free.

Sunday rolled around and we touched base. It was still way too cold outside for either of us to want to go anywhere. So we decided to watch a movie or two together. Since Kacey had taken possession of my car for a while, Cory came over to my house, and she came bearing chick-flicks.

Of course, we spent a good amount of time just gabbing at first, and finally, I suggested we put one of the movies in before it was time for her to go home already. She let me choose between the two movies, When Harry Met Sally, (Meg Ryan & Billy Crystal) or Mystic Pizza (old Julia Roberts movie). I’ve seen both a million times, but it’s probably been much longer since I’ve seen Mystic Pizza, so that was my choice. Not to mention, Cory had never seen it! (WHAT???)

We got cozy, each in one of the living room chairs, each with a big fleece blanket (because, in case I haven’t mentioned it, it’s farging freezing here,) and cracked open a couple of beers. Ever noticed how funny eighties movies are when watched while enjoying some beer? Trust me! I tried my hardest (and did a pretty good job too) to not spoil anything as the movie played out, since I found I could pretty much recite most of the lines word-for-word. We made fun of the hair styles and clothing and reminisced about that time in our own lives when we were young adults and just embarking on our “real” lives. I pointed out how hot Vincent Philip D’Onofrio was then.

The Mystic Pizza hot fisherman look

Cory didn’t know who he was! Not then, and not now! Where did I go wrong???

The Law & Order look

Side note… be warned if you decide to Google images of Vincent Phillip D’Onofrio…

Well this is kind of nice...

Yikes! Oh my god! RUN!

Where was I? Oh yeah. Mystic Pizza. A million viewings or not, I still got weepy in all the appropriate places and laughed at all the humorous stuff, even though I knew what was coming. You gotta love a movie you can watch over and over and still love every minute of it.

Of course, the happy ending, or maybe more accurately, the pick-yourself-up-and-life-goes-on ending came along with a big “awwww” from each of us and I was feeling less uptight than I have in a long while.

The movie credits rolled by and neither of us made a move to come out from under the cozy blankets. We talked about other favorite movies and when Dances with Wolves came up, we looked across the room at one another, making buffalo horns with our fingers and very seriously saying, “tatonka” to one another.

This is what I love about my sister. We can laugh ourselves into hysterics just by imitating the Kevin Costner “tatonka” scene or talking about her Betty Crocker cook book where Betty is now sporting a permanent David Niven mustache. (Apparently her husband got bored.)

I’ve been way too tightly wound lately. Some time with my sister is just exactly what I needed.

 

Freeze Dried

Unbeknownst to me, my dryer bit the dust sometime yesterday. I never went back late yesterday afternoon for the last load of clothing I had put in there. This morning, I went to the dryer in search of a favorite pair of thick, warm socks and reached in to find that the clothing within was still partially wet and also… partially frozen!

I know the fact that ice formed inside my dryer is due to the fact that the dryer is vented to the outside. It’s no secret it’s been ungodly cold lately, and the dryer sits against an outside wall, so it’s a pretty short distance from the tubey thing on the back of the dryer to the ungodly cold air. But still! (Yes, I said “tubey thing.” You know what I mean.)

Our clothing was frozen!

Why do I live here? Damn, it’s cold.

I’m off to cook something. My family is enjoying that little side effect of the winter. They shouldn’t get too used to it. It’s just that the stove generates some much-needed additional heat.

New Car, Happy Boy

I hated the little red car from the moment Mark brought it home. He bought it for the kids; just something to get them to and from school or their part-time jobs. And it served its purpose, I guess.

Mark called it, “Little Red.” Jake called it, “my car.” Kacey called it, “that thing” and refused to drive it because it scared her, which is why I called it “that piece of crap.” It was actually an old Le Baron, purchased from a neighbor who had just recently upgraded to something better for his own kids. He was all too happy to let someone else take responsibility for the old car that was falling apart by the minute. The asking price was five-hundred dollars, and I don’t even want to think about how much more was sunk into it over the few years we owned it.

I would have rather bought something much nicer for my kids to drive, but what I want to do and what I’m capable of doing are often two different things. And realistically, it was good enough for the kids to get to and from the high school, or Jake’s job half a mile away. If they needed to go longer distances, we’d insist they take my car or Mark’s truck.

In the last few months, it really started going downhill. Jake would complain to me that he was putting oil in it every day, and radiator fluid almost as often. He would complain to me that the heat didn’t work or about some other problem he’d noticed and I’d tell him he would have to talk to his dad about it. I know nothing about cars. The problems grew more frequent and serious and the mechanic finally convinced Mark that there was no sense in putting any more money into the thing.

For the last two weeks, I’ve been sharing my car with Jake. I always share my car with the kids, when I can, but now it was a necessity. I’d come home from work and hand off the keys to Jake so that he could go to work.

Jake had been informally “shopping” for a replacement car for several months now. He had saved up more than enough money to buy one himself, and was just waiting for his dad to get on board and help him make the right purchase. That day finally came this week and there are few times that I’ve seen Jake so overjoyed. This was a milestone for him, one of his first real steps into adult-hood. His own car! And it’s a pretty one too. Of course, it’s not brand new. It’s a new-used car, a 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix, but he is happy and proud none-the-less, and rightfully so.

Of course, this isn't the actual car. That one is covered with road salt at the moment!

Jake’s “new” car was sitting in the driveway when I came home from work yesterday. I had no sooner come in the door (from the bitter cold, I might add,) when Jake accosted me asking, “Wanna go out and see my new car?”

I put my gloves back on and said, “Take me for a ride.”

We wheeled around the neighborhood for a while and he pointed out all the features and options. Jake made a special point of turning on the seat heater for me. The heat really kicked in within about thirty seconds and I laughed, telling him, “My butt is burning!” I drew the line when he tried to open the sunroof, though, below-zero temperatures and all.

He says he can’t wait for Tuesday. He’s been watching the weather forecast to see when the temperatures will warm up enough to get a car wash!

I love seeing him this happy.