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Laurel
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Random Flotsam and Jetsam

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May 9th, 2011

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overwhelmed
So, good and bad weekend. Bad part was that Thomas came home from work sick on Friday morning and was sick most of the weekend :( Which in addition to being Mother's Day was also our anniversary.

On the good side, we had a huge chainsaw party on Saturday and cut down trees and made huge piles of branches, stumps, trunks, etc., at the curb that the county is hopefully coming to put through a chipper. I shall believe it when I see it. However, we got four of the trees mostly removed and two additional trees that needed cut down (one blew to a 45 degree angle, but didn't fall or break and one broke off 15 feet up). Doofus next door even cut his part of the tree that fell over the ravine, so we have the trunk of that and the one near the water main, which the contractors are supposed to do, to finish. And we completely cleared B&B's front yard and side yard and made excellent progress on their back yard.

Annoyingly, despite having called Comcast twice about the fact that our line is laying on the ground, they sent a truck to fix our neighbor's cable and we "weren't on his list." I came close to grabbing a chainsaw and asking him if we were on the list now, but refrained. We also have not seen an adjustor yet or gotten the water line fixed. sigh.

I am glad we did get most of the tree stuff done Saturday as Sunday we watched cicadas popping out of the ground and climbing up tree trunks. I know they are harmless -- but ewwwwwwwww.

Chance spent the night Saturday with Grandma as planned (originally, we were going out for our anniversary). We spent a quiet night at home watching and catching up on this season of Bones. Not what we had planned to be doing, but still nice. Just wish Thomas had been feeling better.

Sunday we did Mother's Day brunch with the family and then Thomas coughed so hard, he hurt his back. He pulled tree trunks around for four hours with no problems and coughs and hurts his back. Backs suck that way. So, now he's sick AND in pain. Poor guy just can't win.

I took Chance out for his first gyro for dinner and we called it an early night.

April 29th, 2011

Survived the tornado

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goddess cat
So, the NWS confirmed what I already knew -- Wednesday morning, we were hit by a tornado.

We were awakened about 5:45 a.m. by the WTVF weather calls I signed us up for (and highly recommend: $10/year and they only call you if your zip code is affected). Normally, I would've been up, but I don't work on Wednesdays and was hoping to sleep in. Oh, well :-)

We go out to the living room and flip on the TV to see where exactly the track is ... and I open a window to listen. At first, the track isn't in our direction, then it looks like it is, then I hear the tornado -- it is a very distinctive sound. I tell Thomas "That sounds BAD!" and we run to yank Chance out of bed and huddle together in the center bathroom.

The whole house is shaking and crashing and metal is clanging. I'm picturing the second story being blown away and maybe the bedrooms, and the pipes in the walls are vibrating. It's probably less than 2 minutes, but it's scary as hell.

Finally gets quiet and I stay with Chance, who is scared and upset, while Thomas goes out to check the house -- miraculously, it is mostly OK. Still have a roof and a second story. The horrible crashing sound was about 7 of our 18" to 2' in diameter, 30' high trees coming down and the metal clanging was our patio furniture being throwing around.

Some of the weirdness includes the patio furniture being tossed around like kindling while the candle on the patio table did not move an inch, nor did Chance's plastic lawnmower on the deck; the watering can from the front garden ended up behind the house; Thomas cigarette butt can ended up blown off the front porch into the driveway, but the Kroger bag of cigarette butts right next to it waiting to be thrown away did not move ....

Three of the trees came down at the root, one taking a 2-ton slab of bedrock with it and cracking our main water line to the house with it. Managed to get the water turned off before it did more than flood the new pond created by the roots and rock hole in the ground. Thankfully, later that day, we were able to get a temporary water line on top of the ground installed. Not being able to flush toilets really sucks.

Other than the water line, the only damage to the house seems to be where a tree (that is still standing) bounced off the side of the roof, denting it and lifting a few shingles.

That is the good news -- and believe me, I know we were VERY lucky. However, it is annoying as hell that the home insurance will remove the tree that cracked the water line because it did damage to the home. The other 6 trees only damaged themselves and other trees and are laying in our yard and in the canopy above the yard. No damage to the house, the insurance won't pay for it. Errrr! So, next storm, the limbs come down on the house or the cars? Or just give away and fall on my son or nephew playing in the yard? That is so stupid.

So, Thomas has a new toy -- a really nice chainsaw. All three of us are working to try to clear the trees that are actually down so that when the plumbers are ready to dig (they have to wait for the County to paint where the gas and electric lines are), the trees are out of their way.

And we now have firewood for a LOT of bonfires. Like maybe a year's worth. Or more :-)

March 31st, 2011

Work-Life Balance

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Laurel
So, I need some opinions from folks at there -- especially moms that stay/stayed home and moms that work.

Since Thomas started his new job, it has been crazy trying to balance things with Chance. We were really spoiled that for the past 3.5 years of Chance's 5 year life, Thomas had been either working from home as a contractor or at home because he was unemployed. I knew it gave us flexibility with the munchkin's schedule, but I didn't really realize how much flexibility.

I leave the house at 6 a.m. and get to day care at about 5:15 p.m. to pick Chance up. Thomas leaves the house at 7 a.m., drops Chance off, and he doesn't get home to after 6 p.m., and they want him to work over a lot.

This means really long days for Chance -- and we could do before/after school care at school, but then he's there like 10+ hours a day ... And I didn't want children so they could be institutionalized -- I want to be part of his life.

I already work a reduced schedule -- 32 hours a week, off on Wednesdays. Some options I'm considering:

1) Keep juggling -- lots of kids have two parents that work and we do have help from family if there's a crisis.

2) Change my schedule to 30 hours a week (Keeps benefits) and work 7 - 1 p.m. Get home in time to pick Chance up from school and spend the afternoon with him or taking him to classes/practices/cub scouts/etc. This also means I have to drive instead of ride the van, which will increase my commuting costs to about $300 a month. So, I lose two hours of pay a month and increase my costs. That's the sucky part about this option.

3) Change my schedule to part-time and get insurance with Thomas' company. We don't know what they offer yet, and less than 30 hours a week means it's harder for me to justify the commute time and expense. Not to mention, don't know if my boss would go for it.

4) Quit and be a stay home mom. I really like this idea :-) But I'm also worried about finances, finances if something happens to Thomas or between me and Thomas, feeling as fulfilled intellectually, and on and on. Other than the first seven months when Chance was a baby, I have never not worked outside the home.

March 22nd, 2011

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Laurel
Had probably one of the better wars in the past few years -- it was actually relaxing! LOL. That never happens.

I committed to nothing, although I was able to judge the open A&S, checked in at the Champions Battle and watched the performance entries, sat in a contentious interkingdom laurels meeting and ended up shouting down a fight between an Ansteorran and Trimarian, and sponsored a category with the household for the best non-European entry. But knowing I didn't *have* to do anything was very relaxing.

Thomas only volunteered for two autocrat-in-charge shifts -- so that was relaxing too. I knew when they were and had plans with Chance and Thomas got to stay in that loop and see all his staff friends.

Chance had a complete blast. There was a herd of kids in the camp (which was partly why we camped there) and he played boffer weapons from morning to dark every day. We took him to watch the dogs course and see the horses and he did one stint at Page School but was less than thrilled with it. Mostly, he wanted to fight. Gottfried, the Society Youth Marshall, said they are considering lowering the age to 6, which means next year, he *could* fight .

Didn't get a lot of time to run around with Thomas, which we will hopefully fix for next time. Had one night out with the girls and we sat and gabbed and drank chocolate vodka LOL.

All in all a good time. Hoping Border Raids will be similar now that it's not at the hottest time of the year.

March 7th, 2011

Birthdays and Gulf Wars

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overwhelmed
So, Chance is now five . My little baby is all grown up. We did quite the production for his birthday -- some intentional and some not. On his actual birthday, he took cupcakes with superhero and princess rings on the icing to school for all his friends there. Then, this weekend was a party at BounceU (for those of you who haven't had the pleasure, it's a place full of inflatable bouncy things and the kids go CRAZY). We had almost 18 bouncers because my family came down from Ohio. My ENTIRE family. OK, not my dad and stepmom, but still.

My mom, my stepdad, my brother, my niece, my nephew, my brother's girlfriend and her two boys. So, we had 11 people staying at my house. Which went as well as could be expected -- it would've been much better if it hadn't rained all day Saturday and we could've thrown the kids outside for awhile. The decibel level alone wore me out.

But Chance LOVED it. He had a great time. He actually willingly went to bed -- TWICE. So, we wore him out. And despite my best efforts at rehearsing with him about opening gifts and being NICE, he opened one gift from a little girl classmate and loudly announced, oh, like 3-4 times, "I already have this!" The SpiderMan cake was a big hit and the blue icing turned everyone's teeth and tongues blue (and our poo green later). I had one HUGE parenting fail -- we changed the time of Chance's birthday party to avoid some conflicts. And I completely forgot to tell one little boy who reserved late -- so, I spent the first 20 minutes of the party trying to find a contact number for his mom. I so hope they did not show up at the later time. I felt so terrible!

So, it was quite a whirlwind of a weekend. And now, the thinking/packing/running around in circles stressing for Gulf Wars begins.... Because I absolutely could NOT think about it until the birthday craziness and the invasion from Ohio was over. And now I have ONE week -- Ack!

January 31st, 2011

Weekend and stuff

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Laurel
So, finally feeling better -- Yay! For awhile, thought I was going to be sick the entire month of January. And dammit, yes, the CPAP does make a difference. I wasn't able to wear it for about a week due to sore throat and congestion and when I finally put it back on, the next day, my energy level was soooooo much better. Dammit. I hate that thing

Anyway, had a nice weekend with Chance. Barbara and the boys came over Friday night for dinner since Brian was away for the weekend. Carol came over too, so we had a nice little family gathering and the boys played together well. Saturday morning, we took Chance to Target to pick out a present for his "girlfriend" (he's going to marry her, you know) who's party was Saturday afternoon. And ran into Annabelle in the Barbie aisle. So, Chance and Annabelle spent like 15 minutes going over Barbies and accessories to see what he would get her LOL. It was very cute, and I couldn't believe how attentive he was in the girls toy aisle -- it must be love :-)

Then off to the party at etc Gymnastics. Chance particularly liked the swing that was like a reverse bungee and bounced you towards the ceiling. My little daredevil. Dylan called after we got home to see if Chance could come over to play, and he did. Awhile later, Dylan called to see if Chance could spend the night, and he did. So, Chance had a very nice weekend.

For myself, I went on a lovely hour-long bike ride in the fantastic weather on Saturday on the Greenway (I think half of Murfreesboro was there). I also finished reading a very interesting book called "The Professor and the Madman" about the creation of the bohemoth of the English language, the Oxford English Dictionary. It's the story of one of the main editors and one of the main contributors for a pre-computer age project that took literally tons of paper and thousands of volunteers.

We also had a nice time with Kelley and Jimmy and Shawn and Carson for Jimmy's birthday culminating in dinner at the iconic Catfish House, which I had *never* been to. So, all in all, a good weekend.

January 20th, 2011

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Laurel
So, it's been awhile since I posted. Life has just been crazy this month, partly because we've all been sick on and off with stomach bugs and respiratory crap and partly because:

THOMAS GOT A JOB!!! *happy, happy, happy dance*

After being unemployed for almost exactly a year, he got a job offer in a whole new field: computer web programming (SQL and stuff that makes no sense to me). (His former field was mechanical engineering, mostly for industrial processes). He's working in Franklin and seems to be enjoying the work and the people so far. Yay!

I don't think I realized how completely stressed I had been over finances until the prospect of two paychecks started to sink back in ....

This weekend is Menhir. I'm teaching two classes -- one at nine in the morning which I hope *someone* shows up for. It's a class on redacting, and it was probably the most work to prepare. I'm also teaching line dancing, which is no problem to pull together. I've culled through my fabric, my glassware and my extra feastgear for the yard sale and have a tub-o-stuff ready. I also culled through my camel collection, because most of it was given to me by my FIL, and I just don't want it around anymore. Kind of like when I culled my stuffed animal collection after Kipp left. Now to make sure Chance has a warm tunic to wear (either get a hand-me-down from Dylan or whip one up) and a present for Grace's baby shower, and I'm set.

I haven't worked any more on the Teener story on the computer, but doing a lot of thinking about it in my head. Apparently, I do a lot of processing mentally -- even for work writing. And *then* I write it down. It is flowing much easier than the werecat idea, so I'm going to go with it for awhile and see where it takes me.

Chances' child care is not offering the tumbling class any more ... and he really misses it. We offered him "ninja classes" (Karate), but he wants gymnastics. I've contacted the two gyms in M'boro and will try to schedule a free class in the next week or two at each one to see how he likes it.

OK -- need to get back to work -- it's busy too.

December 7th, 2010

Trip to Magna Faire

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overwhelmed
Ever hear the proverb, "Be careful what you wish for?" Well, that was the trip to Magna Faire this year, which makes it all Hilary's fault.

The trip started out innocuous enough. Me, Barbara, Wynalie, Hilary and Breana in Barbara's van left Murfreesboro around 6 p.m. with the first of multiple showings of "Charlotte's Web" playing on the DVD (apparently my four-year-old is not the ONLY four-year-old who wants to watch a movie again and again and again).

Hilary had brought her Garmin and Wynalie was operating it as she was riding shotgun. That might've been the first clue there. Apparently Wynalies and Garmins don't mix.

We weren't actually going to site, but to a hotel that Hilary had booked. The Garmin said it couldn't find that address, so we figure, "Oh, we'll just go with the closest one on that street and find it ourselves."

Bad, bad idea. If Garmin can't find the address, stop right there. Unpack the car and stay home. Or go inside to Google Maps and print out directions.

Unaware of the events about to unfold, we had a lovely dinner at Cracker Barrel near the TN state line and then crossed over into Alabama. We had fun in the car telling stories about all the messed up trips we have had on the way to events, and Hilary said, "I wish I had a story like that." HA!

I think we were somewhere on the second showing of "Charlotte's Web" (hey now, look at him now, Zuckerman's famous pig!), when the Garmin told us to exit the interstate. So, we did. It then toured us through a lovely little town called Nocahula Falls with a great Christmas light display. But then we left the lovely little town and continued on into more and more rural area.

Banjos were playing, UFOs were hovering ... Nothing was open, not even the gas stations. And then Garmin excitedly announced -- "Arrived at destination!" In the middle of a country road. Yeeeahhhhh.

So, Barbara pulls into a closed gas station and we consider our options. We have two blackberrys, an iPhone and a Garmin in the car -- problem is that we don't know WHERE we are. It's kind of hard to get directions without at least a starting point. Nevertheless, we are furiously working on our technological gadgets, sure the answer has to be *somewhere* in them.

About that time, a car pulls into the gas station. A relatively normal guy gets out and starts to pump gas (apparently, the store was closed, but the pumps were open). Since she was the only one not shaking, cursing at, or beating a technical device against the upholstery, Barbara puts on her best helpless chick -- bat, bat, bat eyelashes - face and tells him how lost we are. He takes a deep manful breath, puts his hands on his hips, and tells us how to get back to the interstate.

And he actually knew what he was talking about (unlike the pimply-face teenager at the gas station outside the S. Carolina border, but that's a whole other story).

So, after an hour wondering in the wastelands of Alabama, we finally arrive at the hotel -- and the Oscar Meyer Weiner mobile is sitting in the parking lot. The excitement of the Weiner Mobile snaps what is left of our little minds, and we pile out of the van hollering "My bologna has a first name -- it's O-S-C-A-R!" Much giggling and taking of photos ensues.

We finally haul our slap-happy selves into the hotel lobby to check in. The 12-year-old working the desk asked us how we were, and Hilary told him about getting lost. First words out of his mouth, "You didn't try to find us with a Garmin did you? That never works for some reason."

AAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHH!

Apparently NASA is testing some GPS-cloaking device at the Fairfield Inn in Gadsen. Just sayin'.

November 8th, 2010

Stroke

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Laurel
So, last Sunday, I got a phone call from my stepmom to let me know my dad had had a stroke. At first they were hoping it was a TIA, which leaves no damage -- symptoms resolve in about 24 hours. But it turned out it was an actual stroke, with some permanent damage. He's lucky that it was very mild -- left leg is numb, left arm a bit. But you can't see it on his face and his mental faculties seem OK (We debated politics post-election and he was articulate as ever).

It freaked me out though, and I ended up going up to Ohio for three days to see him for myself. My stepmom had also just had knee surgery, so they were a bit frazzled with everything.

Some of you know and some of you don't -- my relationship with my dad has been rocky, to say the least. He was often verbally and emotionally abusive when I was a teenager -- particularly about my weight and my popularity (or lack thereof), and it intensified when my mom left him late in my senior year. I didn't speak to him for two years after that.

However, when Kipp left me, Dad really came through for me -- and I also stopped having expectations for him to be the Brady Bunch dad. The past 10 years have been pretty good -- and I like my stepmom, which helps, too.

So realizing that I could've have lost him (He didn't want to go to the hospital when they did -- luckily my stepmom is a pushy broad), and that it is likely that I will lose him sooner rather than later (he's at a high risk for a second stroke), was pretty emotional.

He's doing pretty well -- he'll start physical therapy this week. He's on new medications. He already eats pretty healthy -- and my stepmom is on a crusade to improve that even more. And he's an active runner, walker/hiker, and golfer.

I think what scares me the most is having him be less of himself. I watched his father, my grandfather, fade away into Alzheimer's, and I think I'd rather the second stroke just outright kill him rather than see another person go through that mental deterioration.

Keeping fingers crossed that PT helps and that he does OK for a good long while yet.

October 26th, 2010

Hunters Moon

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Laurel
Hunters Moon, a multi-household camping event we have had for the past five Octobers, was fun in a much more laid back way this year than in the past. Sadly, Izzie's farm is sold, so we had to move locations. Happily, the new location is also nice (a bit rocky) and just outside Murfreesboro instead of more than an hour away in Lynchburg. So, that was cool.

Friday night, Chance and I stayed home for some Mommy/Chance time and sent Thomas ahead for some guy time. And I'm glad we did because Friday night was COLD. We made Irish soda bread and some fruity pebble treats to take the next day and headed out early on Sat.

During part of the afternoon, Michael and Jimmy took Hilary and I to the shooting range. Neither of us had ever fired a gun before (unless you count my brother's cap gun). So, tried a Glock, Jimmy's .45 and a .357 revolver. Actually really liked the 45. And apparently, my aim issues are not what they were when I was younger, because I did well enough shooting that Jimmy and Michael both decided I could be on their teams when the Zombie Apocalypse comes LOL.

Back at the event, set up the bead torch for awhile. Thomas rigged it to go with propane for the first time and was playing with that and teaching Hilary how it works. Chance and Thomas carved a kitty-cat pumpkin that was adorable. Chance actually drew the face and Thomas carved what he drew.

Soups, stew, chili and bread for dinner. It's funny when you are camping and it gets dark, it feels like it should be so much later than it is! The weather was perfect -- about 65 most of the evening, full moon with a ring around it. Fire and torches burning in the woods. Hanging out drinking and being mellow.

I know the Basternae have used that site before. It is primitive -- it has a latrine (aluminum sided building with a toilet seat that sets over a hole you dig). But no kitchen, no showers. However, I think there are events where that could work. The SCA, IMHO, has gotten spoiled in the last few years about what we demand from our event sites. No, I wouldn't hold an A&S event there, but a small local tournament event with stew and bread or other items cooked over the fire for feast, super cheap prices and the ability to have alcohol -- for some events, I think it would work.
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