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Sleep. It's a good thing.

So yesterday I was stressing over a data entry project at work - one of my supervisors couldn't find all the reports I'd attached to a bunch of employee files online, and when I initially ran the report, neither could I. I called tech support, searched all over my computer and the online database, and basically had a big freakout over having to possibly re-do all the work I'd done previously.

Later that night, I was trying to finish a necklace for a cancer benefit auction, and I looked down at what I'd thought was a great design and thought...meh. It's dull. Boring. Totally not auction-worthy, or anything I'd want to attach to my Etsy shop name. And yet I couldn't come up with a single way to make it better! I was tired at that point - it had been a long frustrating day, I'd just gotten the last kid to bed, and the late-night haze was not helping my ability to pick out small shiny things from boxes to make bigger shiny things. So, I set it aside and went to bed. And slept very, VERY well.

This morning, I go to correct what I thought was the huge data entry problem - and realized the reports had been in the system all along! I was just clicking one wrong option when I ran the report to show those certificates. So what could've been several hours more work ended up being about 15 minutes. Yay for clearer thinking!

Now what I'm REALLY hoping is that when I get home, I'll look at my big box-o-beads and that board full of bleh, and figure out how to make this piece worthy to auction off a good sum for the cancer kids. If I'm still flipping out about it, I might just scrap the whole thing and start a new necklace tomorrow. After a very, VERY good sleep, once again.

Mi Vida Fabulosa

I have a rare opportunity today - I'm actually SO caught up on my work that I have more time than I need to get things done. I can finish reading that story I'm reviewing later (on the last 50 pages or so now), and can update my LJ and other bloggy spaces with abandon - joy! I owe it to the mad rush of work I did yesterday, when I was worried that everything wouldn't be perfect when my new boss arrived next week for training - I overcompensated to the point where I'll actually run the risk of NOT looking busy when she shows up, if I don't cut down a bit and relax. So, I'm relaxing. Sort of.

This week has a lot of good things happening - my mom will be arriving in a few days, and for once I'm not too horribly stressed about cleaning, because I've been doing a little better with keeping up the house lately, and there's just not THAT much to do on it anymore. Then on Sunday, I'm going to a party with a group of friends that I haven't seen in far too long, to celebrate one friend's 50th birthday. Sans kids, sans husband, just friends and I, hanging out, being adults. Of course, in true spazzy fashion, I have anxiety over the party, because I've been feeling lately like I've lost my ability to just be myself at a party, and not just so-and-so's mom. Seriously, more than half the small talk I come up with at ANY given party is just talking about my kids - and at a party where almost all of the people there are childless and don't give a crap about that, it's hard not to feel like I'm just boring them with my parenting stories. So what else to talk about? My cat? I haven't made a lot of progress on my artistic ventures lately (no new singing or acting gigs, no concerts or new movies seen (can't afford it), no new stories written, just a couple of craft projects for - yet again - my kids). I read books, clean, and take care of kids. And that's it. God, that's dull. Although I suppose the books are interesting, at least. It's also possible I'm being overly-critical of my life, and that those other party guests don't have all that much more going on in their lives, either. Besides, the birthday girl and I have a lot of the same likes, values, opinions, fashion sense - so why am I sitting here stressing about not being INTERESTING enough for her? If she was really so shallow as to brush me off for not being entertaining enough, she wouldn't have invited me - and quite frankly, we wouldn't have been friends in the first place. So that does it. Now I can move on to more important things than whether or not my life is fabulous enough to talk about at a party. REALLY important things. Like picking out a birthday present. Shopping mojo activated!

Birthdays and BOOOOKS!!!

First of all, happy birthday to my LJ friends goofiegirl, punning_pundit and oxkrissy - and yeah, punning_pundit I know we already talked on FB, but you're special enough that I needed to say it twice.

Second, I have FINISHED the entire Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan (and Brandon Sanderson, at the end there). All in all, I was pretty satisfied by the ending - Sanderson did as good a job as anyone I imagine could wrapping up that monster of a fantasy series. The pacing in the last couple of books was faster too, I think, so I kind of got worked up (ok, obsessed) about reading them this last month and a half. Then there was this kind of depressing lost feeling one gets after finishing the very last of a book series they were getting far too emotionally involved in...but luckily, I have some good friends that showed up at my birthday shindig with a TON of books to keep me going for the next several months, I think. Plus my dad gave me a B&N card, which I spent on - you guessed it - more books. But before those, I need to read/review a fantasy novel that was emailed to me as well - which after the first few pages, is already piquing my interest.

In case anyone was interested, here's my to-read list for spring/summer, in order:
Spider Circus, by Alice Nutall
Things Unseen, by Chris Lester
Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (sequel to Ms. Peregrines School for Peculiar Children)
The Undead Pool by Kim Harrison
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett
The Long War by Terry Pratchett/Stephen Baxter
The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore (out in May)

And if THAT doesn't keep me busy through at least summer, then I really need to get a life outside the pages. Especially since I'm supposed to be both working out AND writing more during that time.

In non-book related news, my next 5K is almost here, and I'm feeling less ready for it than my last one - but yet much less nervous about it. Maybe because it's my fourth one now, or maybe it's just that it's early morning along the seashore, on a flat/even terrain, so there's very little chance of me getting exhausted the way I did on that July 4th one last year. My food has been...well, it's been awful. That's a big part of the not -readiness I was feeling. I was really hoping I'd be down to at least the 240's by now, and instead I'm well over 300 and feeling it with every step. Still going to keep moving, and do this event, though. It's to raise money for local domestic abuse survivors, and since I often think back to how my past as a survivor myself played into my current food issues, I think it's pretty fitting that this race be a stepping stone towards a healthier life for me. I just wish I could get more focused on the food and general self-care part of this process as well.

Anyway, that's as lot of rambling for one post, so I'm going to leave it there and do more catching-up tomorrow. G'night, folks!

Feb. 28th, 2014

Ugh. Well, my birthday is tomorrow, but the events of today have already put a damper on the planned festivities. I caught my son today in a HUGE lie. He had a Native American project due at school, and had several weeks to finish it. For the past two weeks, I've seen it on his homework log (that we're supposed to check off and sign each day), and for two weeks, he's said "Oh, we're working on that at school - all my stuff is there." Today, since it was the absolute last deadline to finish it, he INSISTED that the whole project was done, and at school. But then I get a phone call from school - and find out that not only has he done NONE of that project at school, but that when the teacher kept asking to show his progress there, he was telling HIM "Oh, it's all done - I just left it at home."

So. Pissed. Off!!!!! Not just because he's not doing his work, not JUST because he's been lying to his parents AND his teacher every friggen day for the last two weeks, but because now instead of enjoying time with the kids and doing fun stuff with them all weekend (which had been my birthday wish), I have to do my duty as a parent and correct the behavior as best I can, by giving him consequences for his actions. Consequences which, despite how cliche and B.S. it sounds, really are hurting me as much as it hurts him. I can't watch a movie with him, or watch TV or play a video game, because he's grounded from all of it. Our driving to the museum on Sunday will be marred by him being upset that he's not allowed to touch his DS, or play any arcade games we might come across, and it's put me and his dad in much less festive of a mood than we'd been while planning the whole museum/ice cream get-together with our friends and fam. Maybe I'll feel less pissed tomorrow, but I doubt it. He lied to us for two weeks. TWO. STRAIGHT. WEEKS. Every single day, another lie. I'm just glad I have another two hours to cool down a bit before he gets home from class, because I don't know if I could even stop myself from yelling at this point, I'm so mad - and I never want to be the kind of parent that has to yell to get their point across. Most days, I really do love and enjoy being a parent. Today, though...not so much.

Learning Experiences

So this past week has been full of "learning experiences". Which is to say, it COULD just be tossed off as a crappy week, if there weren't actually some pretty valuable lessons I could be learning from it. So I'm doing my best to take those situations for what they were, and actually learn what the universe is trying to impress upon me with all the subtlety of a gang of chainsaw wielding circus clowns.

Work has been high-stress, so I had been looking forward to taking a break from it to chaperone my youngest on his school trip to see the elephant seals breeding grounds at Ano Nuevo (in San Mateo) last Thursday. It was a three mile hike, they warned me, but I thought with all the 5K's I have under my belt now, that wouldn't be a problem. Except, those were all on paved, relatively level ground. I soon realized that THIS hike involved a lot of dry sandy hills, steep inclines, and a lot of terrain I was just not remotely prepared for. To make it worse, I'd come down with a UTI over the two days prior to the hike, and refused to bow out of the trip despite the pain that I was having from it, because one mom dropping out could end up cancelling the field trip for everyone there -and I refused to be THAT mom. Although that stubborn refusal almost backfired, because two miles into it, on a particularly steep AND sandy hillside, I honestly doubted for a minute that I COULD make it up the hill to join the others. I think I even cried a little. A fit-looking dad with the group asked if I needed medical attention, and I said no, but in my head I was thinking "Um....well...maybe?" I did make it up the hill though, didn't get stampeded by 4000 lb. seals, and got the kids home ok. I was in urgent care later that night, and after a couple days of pills, bed rest and gatorade, I'm finally feeling up to walking again today. It was a humbling experience, to be sure. At least I have the memory of seeing the newborn seals with their mothers, to balance out all the suck. That, and some of that denial I'd been hanging on to, that part of me that still tries to convince myself that my weight is NOT an issue in all aspects of my life, has definitely parted from my mind.

Later in the week, I learn that my son has been getting bullied again in class, this time by a boy who was actually a friend of his at one point. I've got no idea what suddenly convinced the kid to turn bully on him, but a talk with his mom was in order, so I got on it right away. Then I talk to my son about how to handle bullies, and realized that this school has been telling him all along to "just ignore it" when the bullies gang up on him and taunt him at school. I can't believe that's their strategy. That NEVER works! At least not in all the times I was bullied as a child. So we had a long talk together about how he can stand up for himself without starting a fight, or worse yet, becoming a bully himself. I hope I got through to him, and he manages to stand his ground....and more importantly, truly realize that this is not HIS fault that the boys are picking on him. That's THEIR issues, their insecurities coming out, not his. I stressed that quite a bit in our talk.

Later this weekend, I thought about how that whole pep talk could be applied to my own life. I've been letting some work politics get to me on a personal level, letting all the infighting and drama penetrate not only my own emotional well being, but my performance at work as a whole. That can't keep happening. I need to stand up for myself there, just as certainly as my son should stand up at school. So I think tomorrow, when I return, there's going to have to be some changes made. Diplomatically, but firmly, I need to set some boundaries and stop being such a doormat to others, whether they outrank me or not. Like I told my son, it's uncomfortable to stand up to someone, but almost always better in the long run when you do.

More on that later, I guess. Hope you all have a good week!

Back to work...

So the bulk of the holidays are over, and I'm back in the office. Except the kids are on vacation still, for WEEKS, so for once, instead of spending my one break at work rushing back and forth to pick them up at two different schools and take them home, I actually get my break entirely to myself, to rest. Or work out. Or read. Or finish any number of writing/craft/other projects I've gotten behind on. It's almost like that "extra money" conundrum I had before, where I was getting a little extra money, and trying to figure out where in my mountain-o-debt to apply it to, and feeling a little blown away by how little help it actually did. This is an extra hour to myself, though, every day for the next three weeks or so - and I think that WILL help me, if I work it right.

Today, the first day of that glorious free-time, I was lazy. No, not lazy. Tired. Tired, and a little sick (just a slight sore throat - nothing serious). So I spent it napping. OH, SUCH NAPPING!! Hopefully tomorrow the combination of rest, fluids and super-C supplements will have me feeling well enough to spend that extra hour on the treadmill instead. Next week I'll spend mostly reading and writing. Because I have a $50 gift card to blow at B&N. BOOKS! I want them ALL! I haven't read "Snuff" by Terry Prachett yet, or "Serpent of Venice" by Christopher More, or that last Charlaine Harris book....so yeah, in my head that thing is already spent. I just need to get over there and grab the booty. And by booty I mean books. Though I'm not ruling out actual booty-grabbing either, since my husband is along for the ride, too. ( :

We calculated our holiday meal planning pretty darn well this year too (much better than past ones), and as a result, have almost no leftovers to hang around and stuff our guts with. Yeah, there's some ham, but not a mountain of it, just enough to make a few days worth of sandwiches and such with. No more cookies, pie, cranberry sauce, or any of that stuff. And good riddance, since it was good to eat but shouldn't be a month-long gorge fest if I'm going to be in shape for the next 5k. Saturday, my hubby is buying me new running shoes (which I've long been needing, since my old ones are falling apart). I plan to be completely on track with my food by then and regularly working out on the bike and hiking trails, because I don't believe in waiting for Jan. 1st to resolve to make my life any healthier. It's time now.

Hope you all are having a good morning-after....hugs, and happy post-holidays!

Merry Chrismahannukwanzyule!

Ok, so I admit it - I've been hiding. Partly due to depression (and that part of me that just doesn't want to "bring people down" with my own internal negativity), and partly due to embarrassment over my food being so off-kilter and schedule gone near-insane with business. Anyway, I'm back now. And I'm sorry for neglecting you, LJ friends. You deserve better.

The thing is, life is actually starting to look up for me right now. To sum up the last few months quickly, here are some highlights:

- Had a yard sale, cleaning out a HUGE amount of the garage, and managed to sell some of the old vintage items of my mother-in-laws at the same time. Using those funds to send back to her, to help pay her medical bills. This became especially urgent since she almost died the week before Thanksgiving, of a severe pneumonia and sepsis infection. But miraculously, she came around - first out of ICU, then out of the hospital and back into her normal care facility. Unfortunately, she's broke and can't afford her rehab bill to get up and walking normally again, so thus the sales and financial aid we're trying to send. The silver lining of all this is that it finally got my husband and her talking, albeit rarely, and may lead to them mending some bridges down the road. Not 100% sure that's the way it'll play out, but I'm hopeful.

- With the exception of his mom not being able to meet us there, the Thanksgiving Route 66 trip went phenomenally well. Lots of snow, but not enough to get stranded anywhere (just a little awkward sliding about in Flagstaff one morning, before getting to the main road). Saw the Grand Canyon in the snow - I can't even BEGIN to tell you how awesome that was! Tracked and found a family of wild elk in the snow, walked through the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert, and got to know (and like) my sis-in-laws new husband in Oklahoma. Oh, and there's a spot on the cars half-buried at Cadillac Ranch that is clearly marked by our family now. Or at least until the next family spray-paints over it. I overate at Thanksgiving, but did my best to burn it off again at a 5K fundraiser for the Philipines almost as soon as we got back into town. After hiking all over the canyon and beyond at varying altitudes the week before, that level-ground ocean-level 5K was actually kind of a breeze for me.

- My oldest turned 13. We had her party this month, Friday the 13th (though her birthdate is much closer to Christmas), so it was Friday the 13th themed, with a whole "spooky holiday" theme going throughout. Decorated our tree with black cats, ravens and skulls with Santa hats, played a few fun games, etc. I was also blown away when her best friend bought her a brand spanking new 3DS. Her mom had heard the story where, just a week earlier, she had saved up $60 towards that system she wanted, but had her purse stolen from her at the Starbucks near our house. My daughter was devastated to lose months worth of saving in one fell swoop like that (as well as her favorite unicorn purse), but she's gotten a RIDICULOUS amount of gifts from people who felt sorry for her afterwards, so I think she's pretty much over it entirely at this point.

- An old friend who I had long ago cut ties with has been slowly inching back into my life - and for the first time in 10 years, she was at our house for a party last week. Then just this weekend, I was at a Solstice party at hers...and wow, I had forgotten how much fun we used to have together. I don't like unresolved anger/hurt, and being able to put all that drama behind us and move forward like this, really FEELING that friendship again with her and her husband, it just meant a lot to me. Plus it turns out she's been raising a kid on the autism spectrum as well who's the same age as my son, and lo and behold, they hit it off almost immediately. Funny how life works sometimes.
- Oh, and a raise! I got a RAISE! So many years have passed since my work has given anything other than a "you're lucky you still have a job" statement to us, and yes, I'm finally getting a little more in my checks now. And back pay! Six whole months of retroactive raise coming at me. The only bummer is it gets here the day AFTER Christmas, so I couldn't use any of that to buy the kids gifts - but we are using some of it for some new running shoes, and a computer to help my husband find a better job, finally.

- And now, catching up to present, we're off to see my father for Christmas Eve (in Sacramento), then back here again for a mellow Christmas Day at home with the family. And if you think THAT recap was wordy, you should hear all the stuff I left out! Whew, what a trip.

One Man's Treasure

So I tried - I did my absolute best to excavate the depths of the box wasteland that is my garage, hoping that perhaps just ONE of those boxes I'd come across tonight would be the one - the one with J's lost ren faire outfit! But no. I found nothing we could use at the faire. I did, however, find some treasures.

The hand-knitted first shoes of my firstborn child. A sweater my mother crocheted for our daughter when she turned one (my only niece just turned one, so I'm planning on having it cleaned and sent to her now). The Camper Van Beethoven cassette that helped get me though one of the darkest points of my life - my early twenties - which appears to be in playable condition still (and believe it or not, I DO still have a working cassette player). The textbook from my first college course. And last but not least---a tightly folded U.S. flag.

At first, I was puzzled by the flag. I could've sworn that the one we had folded like that (the one from my father-in-laws funeral) was in the house already, on a shelf. I briefly wondered if it was my stepfathers flag, but realized that no, that had gone to his natural daughter, not me. Then I looked harder at the papers I'd unburied it from. It was a box of old papers from my paternal grandmothers home. I realized then - this was grandpa's flag. And all this time, I never knew that Dad had given it to me.

To be honest, I don't think he realized that he'd given it to me either. At the time we took on a bunch of grandma's things, it's because my father (who had been her caretaker) needed help - he was deep in the darkness of a full-blown alcoholic relapse, and steps were taken to protect my grandmother from him, as alcohol turned him into someone that shouldn't be living with ANYONE else, much less a frail and helpless woman. He had begun, even before we moved her out of the old house, to sell off most of her belongings (blowing much of the money on himself), and I took boxes of grandpas old WWII memorabilia and vintage photos/slides, if for no other reason than to make sure they didn't end up on Ebay somewhere, to fuel his growing habit even more. But then, once they were safe and secure in the garage, some of those things, which were so very precious to both my grandparents (who are both now deceased) were never opened again. Until now.

I was feeling sad, and more than a little guilty, at not having seen this. How could I have this in my home 5+ years and never even know? And now that I do know, what should I do? My dad has long since sobered and cleaned up his act (2 full years sobriety now, and getting the help he needs). But giving it back to him could put it at risk again, if he slips. I could give it to my Uncle, grandpa's other son - but it could add fuel to the feud that has always been between them, that never-ending fight of which one was loved the most. Keeping it myself just seems selfish, though. I'd be keeping a secret from them both, and who am I to judge what mistakes a man may make again, given how pointedly imperfect I am at controlling my impulses, too? So, I think I need to tell him. It's possible neither my dad or uncle may want it - too many bad memories, and his relationship with grandpa was complicated, to put it mildly. But they have a right to the choice, I think.

In the meantime, despite our numerous out-of-town jaunts this weekend, I AM going to give a little more time to exploring those boxes this weekend. Who knows what other treasures have been left behind cardboard walls?

Um, like, "Huzzah!" and stuff...

Well, I'm thrilled! We finally rescued not just one but both of my wenchy outfits this week, just in time for opening weekend at the Renaissance Faire. I even had time to take in one of them to fit my daughter (who's significantly smaller than I, but that's the joy of a baggy chemise and a somewhat stretchy overdress - not much needs to happen to shrink it down).

The boys have no costumes, unfortunately. J had a vest, and a black peasant shirt at one time (damn fine ones, too), but somewhere in our three-move fiasco a couple years back, it got lost in a box in the garage. Now those who have never seen my house might say "Well, what's the problem? Just check all the boxes in the garage!" Those who HAVE seen it, though, understand. You ever see that final scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, where the government hides the ark in a massive room full of identical-looking towers of unmarked crates? That's what I'm dealing with. (Ok, so it's a LITTLE smaller than that, but no less frustrating to sort through.) I'm still trying to excavate a little more each night though, hoping I luck out and find one (if not all) of the pieces. Costumes or no, though, it should be a fun weekend.

Granted, my husband was never really that into the faire - but no matter how many jokes he makes about "being dragged" to it, I always seem to catch him enjoying himself despite it, by the time we're in the thick of the festivities. Be it overstuffed bodices, oversized turkey legs or overpriced swords, he eventually has to admit that he likes what he sees. As do I, my dear. As do I.


Ever get to a point late at night, where you just CAN'T settle your brain enough to fall asleep, but you're so physically tired that you know you're not safe to drive, cook, clean, bead or do anything else constructive? Yeah...that's me, right now. Awesome.

I think it's because my food has been so awful lately. I let the stress get to me, and went off the deep end - and want to get myself back together and on track, but having such a hard time holding onto the hope that this healthier life I've been striving towards is really going to stick in the long run. A sane me would be advising someone spouting this line to just live for today, make each day a clean slate and "act as if". But right now, I've just been wanting to tell that voice to eff off. And what a great lot of good that's done me. I'm jumpy, depressed, anxious, and feeling far less capable than I did only a few short weeks ago. Dammit, what happened to make me crash that hard? Was school really THAT much of an adjustment? I did this last year, somehow, didn't I? I need to snap out of it and pull myself together.

But for now...I need to shut off my brain long enough to actually sleep tonight. Exhaustion is all part of the crap-cycle I've been on lately, and it has to stop.



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