Saturday, December 31, 2016

My last day of the year adventure

Normally, I don’t like having to get up early on a Saturday morning. Saturdays are my “downtime days.” They are the days I like to sleep in, relax with a cup of coffee, and stay in my jammies until noon. My weeks are so busy and hustled and I usually DON’T get to sleep in for all the other days. Especially last week, when I kept waking up earlier than usual to try and make more progress on finishing some things. (And unfortunately, I didn’t finish them by today, like I wanted to. At least I got some other things done.) But earlier this week, Jen told me she’d been invited to the movies with a friend who she hasn’t seen for some time, and we had to leave in the morning for her to get there in time for her to meet with the friend. I was just glad they were going to get together during the daytime and not at night (I don’t like being out at night). So I prepared for today.

Of course, I was still cranky about getting up in the morning and showering and getting ready to go, but after what came after I dropped Jen off, I am grateful for today.

So I drove Jen to the mall that she was supposed to meet her friend at. At first, she thought it was Gateway Mall, and I kept asking her if she was certain she was supposed to go there. They did some renovations at Gateway some time ago and a lot of things were either moved around or shut down (like Chuck E. Cheese). I wasn’t familiar with a theater being there, although it could be hidden away there somewhere among all the other stores. Or recently opened. But her friend insisted it was at Gateway. Then, right before I was turning onto the street for Gateway Mall, she got a text from her friend that, oh, no, it wasn’t Gateway. They actually had to meet at the Valley River Center. ARGH! So I turned around and we drove out to the VRC.

When we got there, I asked Jen where I had to drop her off. She said in front of the theater. I was not sure where that was so she directed me on which way to go. After I dropped her off, I asked her to text me when she met with her friend to let me know that she found her and that everything was okay. Meanwhile, I drove to an adjacent parking lot and parked the van there. I noticed a “Park & Ride” sign near where I was parked but didn’t think too much of it and just waited for Jen’s text. Which didn’t come. So I texted her to see if she was okay and she replied that she was.

Than I looked up from where I sat inside the van and saw it. There was a river!!

I knew which river this was because I passed it on the way to the mall: The Willamette River. I never knew this mall was located so close to it! But then again, I had never been in this particular area of the mall parking lot, either.

I love water. The ocean. Lakes, ponds, rivers, streams and even dams. Just, ANY water, really! I dream of one day living near water – and  the pond we live near now doesn’t count because we can’t go fishing there, can’t go out on a boat there or even play in that water. Sigh! So, yes, I dream of living near water we can actually do those things in. I just love being near the water. So OF COURSE I got out of the van to go explore this area. I wanted to see the river! (I always grab any chance I can to see or explore a river.)

The area near the river was really muddy and I was concerned I might slip on the mud because I was wearing just my tennies and not hiking boots, but I looked around and I saw an asphalt path. There was also a bike path near the wooded area that borders the river. I went along this path and made it past an area of mud-covered leaves to the shore of the river. I stood there and looked out at the wide expanse of water. It was just beautiful. I stood there for a long time looking out at it and enjoying the view. I also took a lot of pictures!

Then I started to explore that area. I found it easier to walk on the muddy areas if I stepped on branches for traction or just stepped more carefully in the mud. Even so, I did end up slipping in the mud, but thankfully I was not hurt. I continued to explore the bank of the river and look at the different areas around it. There was some trash there and even a sweater someone had left behind. At one point during my exploring, I thought I should take a rock as a souvenir from my visit here. I looked down to see part of a rock sticking out in the mud. I grabbed a stick and dug it out. It was a heart-shaped rock! How cool! The perfect souvenir.

Thankfully, I made my way back up without slipping again and took one last look around before deciding that it was time to leave. I was cold (it was 31 degrees!) and while I was grateful I had grabbed my jacket to wear over the flannel and T-shirt I had on, my hands were freezing. (I really should have put on gloves, too!) I was also hungry, as the only thing I’d had was coffee, and it was almost noon right around then. Still, I was satisfied with the exploring I had done and made a mental note to come back – maybe with the kids so they could see it too – when the weather is better. As I left, I saw families walking along the path overlooking the river, as well as people riding bikes along the bike trail.

On my way home, I stopped at Dizzy Dean’s to get a doughnut for me and Jesse. I was thinking about walking into a place with mud on my jeans and jacket, though. Then I just laughed that off. This is Oregon, a state of explorers! Me walking into a bakery with mud on my jeans probably wouldn’t attract much attention or criticism, because people here actually DO things and go places! I’m just another person who was in the outdoors! (I may not be a native Oregonian, but after living here for over 10 years, I’m starting to adopt that “outdoors life” thing. Which Jesse pretty much already possesses!) So I got the doughnuts and drove home. When I got home, I saw my friend, Julie, outside with her daughter. I walked over to her house and told her about my adventure. I showed her the rock and she said, “It’s a heart!” I told her about the river and how I never knew that it was there all this time. She didn’t know about it either and I recommended that she check that area out sometime. (She and her family often go camping and out to a river—though I don’t know which one.) I told her it was a pretty neat area to visit and the view of the river was just beautiful.

Later, as I sat at the table in the kitchen eating my doughnut, I kept thinking about my little adventure. I had a huge smile on my face and I said, “That was awesome.”

And I thanked Jen for dragging me out of the house on a Saturday morning so that something like that could happen!

Friday, December 30, 2016

How I shopped for Christmas all year long

Christmas of 2015 was almost a disaster for us. We were hit by two major bills to pay and the second bill took all of our shopping money we had set aside for our two kids. Fortunately, family and friends came to the rescue, giving gifts to us and the children. While I am extremely grateful that our Christmas gift-giving tradition for the children was saved, I resolved that this year would be different. This year I would actually put into action a plan I’d been thinking of using for some time now: Shopping for Christmas all year long.

This kinda idea is not new. I had heard of several families shopping for Christmas all year long in order to ease their financial burden every December. Doing this would also keep them from giving in to the temptation to splurge now and regret it later.

After I made this decision, I put together my strategy. I would buy each child one gift for every month. And, in December, we would also buy their stocking stuffers.

I knew that if I was going to go through with this, I would need to plan ahead. So I decided to enforce a few guidelines to follow:

1. Keep a list of what the kids want on hand. I use the “Memo” feature on my Android phone and this allows me to keep important notes and reminders handy if I ever need them. Last year, the kids put together their Christmas list. We assured them that if they didn’t get all the stuff on that list last year, there was always next year. Now it’s next year! And having their wish list with me makes it easier to figure out what to get them.

2. Don’t put a price limit on all gifts. At first I thought maybe it would be better to put a $20 spending limit on the kids’ gifts, but then I realized that would limit the variety of gifts I could shop for them. I decided to use whatever amount of money I had available for this. At the same time, the amount spent on each gift ended up being slightly different for each child. For one month, for example, each gift cost $30. For another month, one gift that was on the wish list was $25, while the other gift was $13.

3. Don’t try to do this alone. I knew I could not be the only one shopping for the kids. My husband always enjoyed buying them Christmas gifts. So I decided that we could take turns buying their gifts.

4. Keep a list of gifts bought so far. With 12 months of shopping to do, it could very easily happen that I’d end up buying a gift I’d already bought months before. To avoid this, I kept a list of gifts that I bought so far. Of course, I also removed items I got from their wish lists, but I still kept track of everything so I had a good idea of the balance of gifts for each child.

After the year started and this plan was carried out, I began to see just how convenient it was to shop for the kids’ Christmas gifts all year. I knew I would not be able to take advantage of Black Friday deals or huge sales on Christmas Eve since we were already going to have the kids’ Christmas gift shopping done, but that was something I was willing to do without. Also, I could still shop for other family, relatives and friends on Black Friday or Christmas Eve. My daughter took advantage of Black Friday deals, and it was fun to take her shopping.

One thing I didn’t foresee was the possibility of the gifts being stolen. Although we have a neighborhood watchgroup, crime was still pretty bad in my area. (Crime is really bad everywhere during the Christmas season.) I also worried about something disastrous happening that would destroy the gifts, like a fire. I just had to push these fears aside and carry out the plan. Fortunately, nothing happened to them and they were safely stored away until Christmastime.

Another thing I did not expect to happen? Running out of room for the gifts! By October, I had quite the pile of wrapped Christmas presents stored away, but because it was all in a pile, some of the other gifts at the bottom were starting to get crushed. 

So I used another storage space for the gifts and that solved that problem.

As the months passed and the gift pile built up, I started to get excited over the prospect of the children enjoying so many Christmas gifts this year. This would be the first Christmas ever that they had so many gifts! I know, it’s only 12 gifts for each child, but that’s still a lot compared to other Christmases. I also felt secure knowing that no matter what financial disaster awaited us in December, our children would still have a nice number of Christmas gifts waiting for them under the tree. (And, fortunately, a financial disaster did not strike during this month. My husband’s truck did break down, but a friend loaned us her vehicle until a he is able to get a new vehicle to drive for work.)

Along the way, I learned a few good tips should I ever decide to do this again:

•    Pay attention to what the kids ask for.

If a child mentions he wishes he had a particular toy or if your daughter stares longingly at something in a store and you are not able to buy it for them just yet, add it to the list as a gift to purchase next month. I often mentally added things to the kids’ list as they came out on the market or the kids mentioned that it was something they wanted to have.

•    Wrap the gifts as soon as possible.

My kids have a knack for finding gifts I try to hide away. Whether it’s Christmas or a birthday gift, they have a radar that leads them right to it. My son discovered the gift pile of Christmas gifts in March. Fortunately, they were all wrapped, so he wasn’t able to see what they were. If there’s no Christmas wrapping paper, use plain-color wrapping paper available from the dollar store. And on that note…

•    Have LOTS of Christmas wrapping paper on hand.

By August, I ran out of Christmas wrapping paper. I had used what rolls of wrapping paper we had left from last year but it had not lasted for all 12 gifts. So just as soon as it was available again, I was sure to buy some extra rolls of Christmas wrapping paper!

•    And have extra boxes on hand, too!

Because we often order online, we had a nice supply of small boxes available to wrap gifts in. For one gift, however, I had a hard time finding a box to wrap it in! I ended up taping two boxes together to “make” a box for it. (I also had to get creative in using a side of a cardboard box to make a box for my sister’s Christmas gift, too.) Many gifts had their own packaging, but for things like stuffed animals or art supplies, it’s a good idea to have a box to put them in!

•    Be flexible with gift expenses.

While it would be nice to be able to buy the kids an expensive gift every month of the year, our budget just doesn’t allow for that kind of thing. For a long time, we were really struggling. But as long as I was able to buy them a gift – even if it was just a $5 gift – then at least I had something. One month, I was able to spend $30 on each gift. Another month, I only had $20 available for their gifts, meaning a $10 gift for each of them. That’s just the way it is. (And here is a perfect example of why yearlong Christmas shopping is a great idea: It helps alleviate the financial burden and stress of shopping for more than one child in just one month.)

•    Be firm about saving the gifts for Christmas.

As mentioned earlier, my son discovered the hidden gift pile before Christmas got here. He got so excited that he wanted to open the gifts right then and there. While I almost gave in to that request because I knew how happy the gifts would make him, I had to check myself and practice some restraint. I had to tell my son that these were Christmas gifts and that if he was patient, he would have 12 Christmas presents waiting for him under the tree on Christmas morning. If he opened them now, he wouldn’t have so many gifts. He was not happy about not getting something clearly with his name on it, but in the end decided that it would be worth the wait. (And it was!)

•    Hold on to receipts

I saved all of the receipts in case something had to be returned. I also occasionally kept tabs on how much was spent on gifts each month. (If I do this again, I will want to keep track of the cost to get a better idea of how much was spent on their Christmas presents. The receipts could be used for this purpose, as well.)

This was also a challenging experiment because, sometimes, I really had to weigh which gift a child wanted the most out of all the others on the list. I wanted to get them the items that were super-important to them, and not just another thing they “wanted” to own. The gifts had to have value, so I had to be selective in ensuring they got something they really, really wanted.

Also, some of the items on their wish list were expensive. For example, my daughter really wanted a book that was a collector’s item. Unfortunately, despite my search across the Internet, I could not find a copy of the book for under $80. That was a little outside of my budget. My husband suggested I just save the money I would have spent on a gift for one month and add it to next month’s so that I could get her the book, but that meant veering off course from buying the kids a Christmas present for every month of the year. And that was my plan! That was the whole reason I started doing this. Just one Christmas gift a month for each child. So I stuck to my plan, even if it meant I could not buy the expensive things. But maybe I’ll take his suggestion into serious consideration for next year, since my son also has some expensive items on his wish list as well.

And, finally, this was not just something I did for the kids. For four months out of the 12, I also bought my husband a Christmas present. He was just as excited to get more than one gift from me as the kids were to get 12 gifts from their parents.

This was a fun challenge and quite an interesting shopping experience. It definitely made some extra money available for one very special gift in December (my son got a new bike and my daughter got a portable DVD player – expensive gifts we might not have been able to get them if we also had to buy a few other Christmas presents for them). The extra money also meant we were able to get gifts for family members too – something else we often struggled with.

The question remains, though: Is this a frugal method of Christmas shopping? It can be. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on Christmas presents. Also, shopping for Christmas all year long also means saving money up for expensive gifts, which would make the gift-giving experience all the more awesome for a child. It could also work as a way to get one special gift for someone in the whole family during the whole year or even making something for each family member in the months leading up to Christmas.

I am still not sure if I’ll be doing this again next year, or even if I’ll do this again in a different way. The kids had a lot of fun counting off each gift they opened and they were, of course, very excited about the prospect of opening 12 gifts on Christmas morning. We will see if I do this again next year or if it will be our thing now. But it was definitely a fun thing to do the first time around and I am glad we did it.  

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Dear Past: You suck

Several years ago, when I was a child enduring constant teasing and bullying at school, I did something that today I still regret: I blamed my parents for the car accident I was in that resulted in the third degree burns on the left side of my face, my entire left arm, and my left side. I know, it was a horrible thing to do. I’m not proud of it. I knew fully well that it was NOT my parents’ fault that a drunk driver plowed into me and my mom. I mean, it’s not like they WANTED that to happen! My mom lost the bottom part of her freaking LEG because of that accident! But at that time, in that moment, I was not thinking logically. I was acting on an emotional level. I was fed up with all the teasing and bullying at school – and I took it out on them. At one point, my dad even threw up his arms and said, “We’re sorry!” (How I wish I could go back in time to have stopped that. My parents must have carried that guilt with them for years. Sorry, Mom and Dad. But you both already know this.)

I remembered that this morning because I did the same thing, with my own daughter. I threw up my arms and said, “I’m sorry!”

Why did I do that? Because she got upset with me last night – while I was sleeping – over something that happened in the past. As a child, she had to be restrained by doctors and nurses to get a shot. And now, several years later, she took that memory and blamed me for her needle phobia happening because of it. She sent me a very angry text message in all caps blasting me about it. Then she sent another text apologizing for that and she said some other stuff but now I can’t even remember any of it because she deleted BOTH messages on my phone after I said something about the first one. (Woulda been nice to keep that apology there.)

First I thanked her for the LOVELY text that I woke up to. (And I was being sarcastic here. But, seriously, that was NOT the first thing I wanted to read on my phone after waking up.) Then I told her my apology about it and I explained myself: I didn’t interfere with those doctors and nurses holding her down because I TRUSTED THEM. I thought they KNEW what they were doing! Yes, I know I was stupid to allow it to happen. I should have done something about it. But I was ALWAYS taught to trust doctors and nurses and that they knew better. (Well, obviously NOT!) What I didn’t tell her is that I was once in that same situation, only I was being held down to receive 15 shots in my freaking spine! Yes, that WAS a traumatic experience, and every once in a while I had a nightmare about it, but I don’t blame my parents for allowing that. THEY trusted the doctors and nurses, too. It’s just the same old bullshit that I am dealt in this life! But it’s over and done with and I don’t dwell on it. IT’S JUST LIFE!

I also let her know that she should not blame me for something that happened in the past. First of all, that is the PAST. It is NOT the present. It is over. It is GONE. Second, I am NOT the same person now that I was then. These days, if my kid had to get a shot and didn’t want to, I would not allow doctors and nurses to hold her down and FORCE it on her. I know better THESE DAYS.

But it would seem that she expected an apology for my past stupidity. SEVERAL years later.

Well, I gave the apology to her. And NOW I just hope we can all move on past ALL of that. And I really, really hope that she won’t hold it against me for the rest of her life. And even if she does, I WILL NOT let her beat me with a stick until I crumble into a ball and disappear. FUCK THAT! That will be ON HER and NOT on me. That will be her own issue to work out on her own. I apologized. I owed up to it. I recognized that it was wrong and I will not make that mistake again. I won't keep apologizing for it for the rest of my life. I will not allow it to ruin the rest of my life, make me feel guilty forever and ever, or give up on living because of it. I’m not going to go somewhere and kill myself over it.

She is a different person now. And so am I. I have LEARNED from past mistakes. I know better NOW. It’s not like the same thing will happen again, because these days, I KNOW it was a shitty thing to do. I was a stupid bitch in the past and there’s no way I will go back to ANY of that.

Blaming my parents for that car accident was wrong and it was a stupid thing to do. It was also a stupid thing to do when I blamed going trick-or-treating on that one Halloween night that resulted in my catching spinal meningitis from someone that caused me to become deaf. These days, I laugh over that second one. I was SO STUPID to do that, but it is what it is. That’s the way I was then: Stupid and na├»ve. That first thing does not make me laugh, though. I mean, I understand WHY I did that, but I still regret doing it. It was wrong. But I can’t go back and change any of it.

The whole experience with those texts pretty much soured my morning and put me into a bad mood. I was in an even bigger bad mood after discovering she deleted the texts from my phone. She may have deleted the texts, but they’re still there in my mind. The emotion behind them is still there. I still remember the pain and anxiety her words caused. But I will forget about it and move on at some point. I will get over it. And hopefully she will understand that it’s not a good idea to send someone an angry text message while they are sleeping.

I will move on past this, though. Just like I have moved on from a lot of OTHER mistakes I have made in the past. I can’t go back in time and fix anything. I can’t get back the friends I lost because of all of it. I just have to accept what happened – the same old shit in life – and move forward. But there’s no way in hell I will continue to punish myself for them. Other people might think that’s okay to do, but I personally will not do that. I just have to make sure I don’t ever make those mistakes again!  

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A better Christmas for 2016

The year 2016 has certainly been a challenge. There have been so many ups and downs this year. But I am grateful that at least ONE thing went right this year: My quest to ensure that my kids had a better Christmas gift experience compared to last year.

Last year, three days before Christmas, we ran into a financial hurdle that took all the money we had set aside to buy our kids Christmas presents. I blogged about that here. I also blogged about our “Christmas miracle” that happened as a result of it. Thanks to that miracle, we had some extra gifts to give to the kids for Christmas last year – instead of just the one I had already gotten for them. Here is the pic of our tree with the extra gifts:

I am extremely grateful to the people who helped us give our kids a nice Christmas last year, but even so, I had vowed to take matters into my own hands this year, and that’s exactly what I did. And I am happy that I was able to pull it off, too!

So what did I do? I shopped for my kids’ Christmas gifts all year long. My strategy was to buy each of them a Christmas gift for every month of the year, and it worked! (I will share that experience in a blog post real soon.) This morning, my kids opened their 12 Christmas presents. Yep, they had twelve. One gift for every month of the year. Yay! We did it! Woo-hoo!

Here is the picture of our tree with this year’s gifts – as well as extra gifts by the stockings! There are also other gifts we received from friends and family.

I am just so happy that I was able to do that sort of thing for them this year. I am not sure if this will be “our thing” now. I need to think more on that.

The reason why I am not sure if I want to do this again is because I don’t want my kids to think that Christmas is all about gifts or even having lots of gifts. Mostly, I want them to see Christmas as a time of gathering with your family and loved ones and sharing the joy of the holiday season. Christmas is a time for giving, sharing the joy of being with the people you love, and helping those who are less fortunate. I don’t want my kids to be materialistic or expect lots of presents every single Christmas. So I have to think more on this before doing it again.

Also, I would rather give them EXPERIENCES instead of gifts. Like taking them somewhere fun or doing something special together. I want to give my kids memories, not stuff.

So we’ll see what happens. Maybe when Jesse is a little older he will appreciate Christmas experiences more than Christmas gifts.

We had a really nice Christmas Eve yesterday and also a very nice Christmas morning today. As usual, I was the first one awake this morning. I spent the quiet time taking pictures, enjoying my coffee and playing a game on my phone. I also logged in at Facebook to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Then Jesse woke up and he woke up his dad and Jennifer. With A Christmas Story on TV and both adults armed with coffee, it was time for all of us to open our gifts. Yep, we went right to the gifts instead of the stockings! LOL It was Jen’s turn to be Santa this year so she wore the Santa hat. There was much surprise and excitement over the gifts as everybody opened them. One of the things Jen got was a Supernatural Funko POP Sam and Dean action figure. Originally, I was just going to get her Sam, but then I realized that the brothers need to be together, so I got her Dean as well. She held up the box containing Sam and said, “I got a Sam!” Jesse got the Impala car model. When Jen saw that, her face lit up and she said, “You got the Impala!” Jen also got the movie Thirteen Ghosts and she was REALLY happy about that. She said she’s been asking for it for years! Well, I’m glad we finally got it for her. One of the things Jesse got was art supplies and he opened the paint set and painted a couple of pictures. The one at the top of this post is one of the pictures he painted. Jen was also happy with the sketchbook she got and Jesse immediately threw on his new Spiderman PJs. He has been spending the day playing with all of his Christmas presents.  Both kids were really happy with all of their gifts.

As for me, there was a BIG box wrapped and I was hoping it was a new printer. And it was! Yay! Here is a pic of me with that big wrapped box:

I also got a snow globe, candle with a Christmas tree scent, Amazon gift card, a puppet craft that Jesse made for me, a T-shirt and a stress toy.

I LOVE the T-shirt! It was a gift that Jen got me. Here is a pic of it:
Ah, she knows me so well. LOL I don’t like drama!

After all the gifts, I made breakfast. It was cinnamon rolls, bacon, and, for me and my husband, eggs in a basket. We all sat at the table enjoying our Christmas breakfast and it was a really nice time.

Then some of us went back to sleep! LOL Jesse was awake, of course, to play with all his new toys. I guess he was too excited to sleep because he also got a new bike.

Christmas this year was just awesome. It has been a really great day and I am glad we were able to give the kids stuff they wanted for Christmas this year. Of course, I had been a little sad because I missed my parents and was thinking about them a lot. (I have been thinking about them quite a bit lately.) I am glad I was able to survive the holidays without an emotional breakdown like I had that one year when I just cried for days when Christmas after my mother’s death came around. This year was better. I was even strong enough this year to do the cookie run! Still, I was thinking about both of my parents a lot and missing them. But I am sure they were there for all of us in spirit on Christmas Day.  

Friday, December 16, 2016

“No news = No change” – But sometimes the news is late

Normally, during this time of year, I have to check the local news early in the morning to see if school is opened. However, I got a wake-up call earlier in the week that I should not JUST rely on the news for that info, because all schools in this district recently had a 2-hour delay, and this was not included on the news. It was, however, on the school district website. That was pretty much a good heads-up to me to not JUST rely on the news for that info, but to also double-check on the school district website!

This morning, I got another heads-up.

The school district has a common message to parents who inquire if schools are open for the day: “No news = No change.” And that’s what I thought when, at 5ish this morning (I think it was 5:20??), I checked the school district website to see if schools were open today. Yesterday the kids had what I call an “ice day.” There was no school because of cold and icy weather. I commented on Facebook yesterday that when I had gone outside to look around (after reading reports of fallen trees and downed power lines), it was like stepping onto the set of Frozen! Seriously, there was ice everywhere. The ice was covering everything – even the power lines! I almost slipped on the ice just walking on the grass. I called it an “Ice-pocalypse” because it was really icy and frigid yesterday. Brr!

So I didn’t think there would be school yesterday – although I WAS still open to the possibility. After all, today is the last day of school for the year, and the teachers might want to try to get any last assignments in or wrap up some ongoing projects. I asked Jen last night while I was working in the kitchen and she was sitting at the table working on an art project, “Do you think there will be school tomorrow?” She shook her head. She really seemed confident with her answer, but I still thought maybe there would be school. Even so, we still had to stick to the schedule and pretty much act as if there WAS school tomorrow. Because there still might be.

So I got up at the usual time this morning. I checked out my bedroom window and it looked like there was a spattering of snow on the ground. Hm, if it did snow, schools might be closed. (Don’t know if it was snow; it was dark and frost or icy grass could be mistaken for snow when there’s moonlight and/or lights from other houses shining on it.) Then I looked out the front door window. It still looked pretty icy outside.

Then I checked the school district website. Guess what? No news. Nothing about delays or closures. I also checked the district Twitter feed (I follow it on my personal Twitter account) and it said to stay tuned for news. But I didn’t exactly stay tuned. I figured, since that post was 9 hours old, there was “no news.” So I guess there was school today!

Now if there is school, that means I have to be in the shower by 6 a.m. (that is the normal routine – sometimes there’s things going on that delays my shower). But I wasn’t finished drinking my water yet, so I was not in the shower at EXACTLY 6 a.m. Which is probably a good thing because, at around that time, someone posted in the neighborhood watchgroup that all schools were closed today. I checked the district site again AND the Twitter feed and, sure enough, there was the announcement that all schools were closed.

Well, whaddaya know. Jen called it!

Seriously, though, I am glad there is no school. The roads DO NOT look safe to drive so early. They say we’re supposed to have sunny weather today, and that’s good because it will melt the ice, but when it’s really early and parents have to drive their kids to the bus stop or school, you gotta go with the CURRENT road conditions.  (That sounds kinda funny, though. Cold and icy one day, then nice and sunny the next. Ah, Oregon!) And the current road conditions did not look good! Even when the news showed a live video feed of an icy road, I really felt the current road conditions did not look safe for driving. And after already experiencing one episode of my car sliding on the ice and almost crashing into a bus, you can bet I am a lot more wary about driving during the icy and snowy weather. I am also a more cautious driver because of that. And these days, I’m driving a minivan, so “bus mentality” aside while I’m driving it, I have no clue what to expect if the van starts sliding on the ice.  

And as I type this, at 7:15 a.m., it is currently 27 degrees outside. Lovely.

So, yes, I’m glad we don’t have to go out in that weather. It’s too bad the kids won’t be able to wish their friends and teachers happy holidays before Winter Break, but I’m glad we don’t have to worry about trying to get to a destination in one piece. (And anyway, they already gave friends and teachers Christmas presents and I already gifted Jesse’s school, so that’s not an issue. And the other friends left to get gifts to are people we know outside of the school and we can just take their gifts to their houses.)

I am also glad I can take the time to enjoy my coffee this morning rather than inhaling the stuff and rushing to get the kids out the door. I can also spend time this morning, while the kids are still asleep, working on a couple of things.

Even so, I was curious about why there was a delay in getting the info about school closures. (Am I the only one at a computer so early in the morning on a school day?) When I posted about it in the neighborhood watchgroup, someone replied that I should sign up for the text alerts. Maybe that is a way to get a heads-up about school delays or closures so early? I don’t know, but it’s worth a try. (Sidenote: I don’t immediately jump on the computer or check my phone right after I get up in the morning. That’s a bad habit!) I will sign up for those alerts all the same, because I think it’s important to use every resource possible when you need to stay updated on things like that. After all, I don’t want to show up at my son's school with my son in the car when there’s a 2-hour delay at his school and there’s hardly anybody there again. And I REALLY don’t want that to happen should his school be closed for the day and there’s nobody there.

It’s all good, though. The kids get to sleep and I get to work. And I’ll also be extra prepared for school winter alerts when the kids go back to school in January!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Adopting a family for Christmas

Every December, I make it a point to help a family for Christmas. It could be giving them money to buy Christmas gifts or helping them get a tree or even giving gifts to their kids. But this year, I got an idea for something to do to help a family that’s struggling.

Earlier this month, I was chatting with someone on Facebook who shared with me that they were having some financial problems. The way it looked, they wouldn’t be able to get their kids any Christmas presents. I soon made it my mission to get some presents for the children.

Well, while I was out shopping with Jennifer today – so that she could buy Christmas gifts for her friends – an idea struck. Why not buy gifts for the mom and dad that we were helping, too? Just get gifts for the whole family!

In other words, “adopt” them for Christmas.

When I was a kid, my family struggled every Christmas. I’m the third of seven children so it’s not like there was a whole lot of money available for Christmas. My family struggled a lot so Christmases were hard. But some years, my family would be “adopted” and some other people got us Christmas gifts.

I was thinking today, why not do that this year? I could just buy a Christmas present for everyone in a family!

I shared this idea with Jennifer and she thought it was a good one. So we “adopted” this family for Christmas and got them all a gift. I felt so great about doing this that I told Jen, “I want to do this every year!”

So that’s going to be a new Christmas tradition for us. And we already know what family we plan to adopt next year!

Friday, December 02, 2016

Funny things from today

Too often, a bunch of stuff that tries our patience can happen in one day. Then there are the days when a bunch of crazy stuff happens, or when it’s like nothing seems to be going right at all. Been there, on all counts!

But sometimes, funny stuff can happen every once in a while. Today, I had a few funny things come up, just in one day!

It started when I was picking Jesse up from the bus at the bus stop. After he and the other kids got off, they all stood on the corner, doing jumping jacks. I stared at them in confusion. What were they doing THAT for?? I noticed they were all looking at the bus driver and when I looked at her, she was smiling and giving them a thumbs up. When she was gone and they were done doing jumping jacks, I asked Jesse what that was about. He said that the bus driver had told them they could do jumping jacks after they got off the bus. I laughed and asked him, “Why did she say that? Were you guys trying to do jumping jacks on the bus?”

He said no, shrugged and shook his head as he ran off to the van.

The next funny thing that happened was at the store later on. Jesse was with me. I was getting some groceries for the weekend. After we were done  getting food, I stood in the lobby with Jesse as he was getting a gumball from a machine. Then I noticed there was a young boy standing behind me (he looked about 10 or 11). I observed that he was just standing there, staring down at a tablet that he was playing a game on. I thought, Why is this kid standing behind me? I thought to ask him if he wanted something but had a feeling not to say anything. I then realized I was standing in front of the claw machine for toys and I thought maybe he was waiting to use the machine so I moved up a little to give him room to use it. But he moved up a little right along with me! I was standing there, trying to figure this out, then noticed a man stood a ways off to my left, waving his arm in our direction and saying something. I watched the boy look up and realize who he was standing behind and run off to join the man. The man was wearing the same colored jacket and jeans that I was wearing.

Apparently, the kid must’ve thought he was still behind the person he was supposed to be behind! LOL Whoops!

Well, today Jesse received an invitation to a friend’s birthday party. I finally got around to texting them to let them know we would be there. Thing of it was, Jesse had entered their number on my phone, and I didn’t double-check the area code before I sent the text! When I realized my mistake, I laughed and wondered aloud, “Did I just text Japan?” I showed it to Jen and she laughingly grinned then nodded. I did send the text to the right number though, but I kept wondering who I had accidentally sent the text message to. (I just looked up the area code and, fortunately, it was not a Japan number! It’s actually a number in Ohio. Um….oops!)

Also today, while I was doing laundry, I was removing yet another load of clothes from the dryer when I noticed one of them kinda stuck. I shrugged it off, thinking a shirt sleeve was under the rotor, then more carefully removed the clothes, moving everything out from under the rotor. That worked fine until I noticed a long stretch of cloth hanging from a clothing that turned out to be a towel! Apparently, the washing machine tried to tear off a part of the towel. I stood there holding it, asking, “What the heck?” I think it might’ve gotten stuck in the rotor somehow and tore during the wash cycle. That was crazy! Our washing machine is tearing up laundry? Really??

Here is a pic of the top part of that towel (after it went through the dryer):

Well, after that excitement, I was busy putting away the folded beach towels in the closet when I noticed something off. I am very particular with how these towels are folded and put away. I want the lines on them to show and I want them in the same order. One towel didn't have the lines on it showing so of course I had to unfold the towel then refold it to where the lines were showing and I put it back in the correct order so that the lines were the same as the ones on the towel underneath it. And when I was putting it back on that towel, I joked, “Laces out!”

Also today: While I was writing one scene in my short story, Jesse was reading over my shoulder as I typed. (I had been working on the short story earlier in the day while he was at school but I wanted to finish it today so I was working on it again after he was home.) As he often does, he took over the writing and typed something funny in the story. Here is what he typed (his words start with “Olive fought the man”):

Finally, the day ended on a sad note. There was leftover biscuit dough from dinner this evening so I thought to make some biscuits with it so we could eat them tomorrow. But what I hadn’t planned on doing was putting them into the oven then going to the desk to get back to writing my short story. I got so caught up with the writing and finishing my short story that I forgot all about the biscuits! This is how they looked when I finally remembered them and got them out of the oven:

Sigh. You know you’re a writer when your food gets burned because you forgot all about it while you were busy writing.