Monday, December 13, 2010

Reflections on 2010

I've been reminded again that some friends still read my blog! As I mentioned at the beginning of the year, I use Facebook so much that I've forgotten that some people still pay attention to these old-style blogs! ;) So here goes... a very quick overview of the year.
My girls all grew a year older. That means that Brianna is 14 and in high school and attending church dances. High school has included her involvement in band, which for the past few months meant marching band, which meant lots of time at school for practices and away for competitions and at football games. I wasn't sure how she was going to like marching band; I did it for a couple of years of high school myself and had mixed feelings about it. But she absolutely loved it and has found her niche and a fun group of friends. She plays clarinet, and this is only her second year playing in band, so she really stepped up to the plate and did great despite her limited experience. Watching her perform and listening to her practice and talk about all her experiences has been very satisfying for me. I've just popped from pride. She's also got a 4.0 so far in her classes, so I'm happy for her academics. I love listening to all her stories every day. She has so much to share, and she still loves her mom and dad, which is delightful. I can't express enough how much I enjoy her and watching her turn into this amazing young woman.
Marissa turned 12 this August, which means she was able to leave Primary behind and join the ranks of the Young Women at church. She went to her first Girls' Camp in August, too, and had a great time. As always, she's a charmer and just smiles at everyone and has a great time with whatever she does. She's still quite small, so people tend to forget that she's 12. At Girls' Camp, in fact, she had other girls giving her piggyback rides on the hike! Yikes. I don't think that is what the hike is for. But she had fun, and everyone else seems to be enjoying her and watching out for her. She has a new teacher at school this year; the teacher she had for a year and half in her special class moved away to Kentucky, unfortunately. But Marissa is still doing well at school and working hard to keep learning, and has already gotten an award during one of their assemblies. She is still a ray of sunshine.
Cami turned 8 in May, which meant she was able to be baptized. A string of circumstances led to us having her baptism at home on her birthday, which was Memorial Day. So she can say, like Brianna, that she was baptized in a swimming pool. Brianna had to be baptized in someone's pool because the font was in the wing of our chapel that had had a fire; Cami just got to be baptized here in our pool for other reasons. So far, Marissa's the only one to be baptized in a font! Cami is bright and talented and doing great at school. She's been reading through a lot of library books, and she got an award at school last week at an assembly. She's just doing great and is lots of fun.
Charlotte turned 3 this April and is now talking about her next birthday, which is still several months away. She goes to a day care for two days a week so I can get things done around the house and on my website and have a little break, and she just has a great time. She talks about her school and all her friends there and what she likes to do there with her teachers. The other days of the week, she enjoys going to the gym with me. We have an established routine, and you know how kids are about routines! She is a charmer as well and uses her extreme cuteness to her advantage with everyone she meets. I don't let it sway me when she's acting up, being somewhat immune to the cute factor after all this time, though. But I thoroughly enjoy getting and giving her hugs and kisses. She loves to sing and dance and read books. She definitely keeps me on my toes.
A few activities of the year:
We went to Disneyland with the kids twice, once in January and once in June. The season pass was fun to use, and the girls had a great time. Marce and I used the passes again for our anniversary in September. We were able to ride all the rides together that we had to take turns doing with the girls who were big enough for them before. It was quite fun. It was especially nice because there was hardly anyone there when we went then, and we just zipped right through all the lines. We had more time then to just chill out and sleep in our hotel room, which is always welcome for busy parents!
In June, after the Disneyland trip, we went straight from L.A. out East. We rented a minivan for two weeks and visited Ohio, Alabama, and Kentucky. The main reason for the trip was to see my dad's grave, which I hadn't been able to visit yet. I wanted to have my whole family there with me, which is what happened. We were even able to coordinate with some other family members to come up and be at the grave at the same time, so my oldest half-brother and his wife and youngest son came, as did my mom and nephew and the oldest of my stepsiblings, L'Erin. It was so nice to be able to be there at Dad's grave together and see the gravestone that had just been put on. Also in Ohio, we visited my grandma, who is still doing great at age 94. Next, we went to our old stomping grounds in Alabama and visited friends we have missed since being here in Visalia. It was nice to be back where we lived for 10 years. I sent Marce back home to Visalia to get back to work and then took the girls to visit my mom and siblings in Kentucky. My brother and his wife had just had a new baby, so we were able to see my handsome little nephew Drake and see Ken's new house. It all worked out beautifully.
I've been working still on Rated Reads, which is coming along. I decided this summer to redesign the website to make it more attractive and functional. I hired a designer to help me to do this because I couldn't possibly have done it myself. I also did a little advertising to try to get the word out about it. I'm very pleased with the new look, and I've gotten very positive feedback. The Deseret News also contacted me this fall and asked me to write an article for them about how to find appropriate books to read, so that was published in the Mormon Times last month and got the word out a little more. Even with these improvements, it's still really slow going getting more traffic. I wish I knew how to wave a magic wand to get hundreds of people visiting the site every day, but I guess I just need to settle for slow progress.
Now it's the holiday season. It's been a long year; in many ways, as you can see, it's been a good year, but it's also been one of some personal struggles that are finally easing a bit. So I feel I'm ending the year on a good note and a hopeful one. I am enjoying the holidays and savoring the sights and smells and sounds of the season. Last year was hard, with Dad just having passed away, but this year I can feel happier and just enjoy my memories.
I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and the best for the upcoming new year.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

New post for the new year

I believe I wrote before I don't get on here much anymore, thanks to the evil wiles of Facebook. But I do want to post a little for those who keep up with me via this method. So hello! Happy 2010!
We have been busy this year. We took the girls to Disneyland for two days in early January before school got started up again, and then we went to Sacramento at the end of January for Marce's oldest niece's wedding in the LDS temple there. I took copious photos of both trips that can be seen on my smugmug site. There should be a link for that off to the side, right?
I have been continually trying to move forward past Dad's death, grieving, pondering, going through all his stuff, etc. I have just gotten to the point where almost all of his things have been put away somewhere in my house, which is very pleasing to me. It had been frustrating seeing the boxes just sitting around taking up space and creating clutter. I've gone through most of his possessions, some things just very briefly, enough to get them stowed in a closet, and some more closely. It's been an interesting journey all around. I've been missing him terribly. But I've been lucky, frankly, to be reminded of some of his weaknesses that made me absolutely crazy, so it's helped me to not miss him so much. It may sound crazy to some, but to those who have been in my position, you will understand what I mean.
I've been through a heckuva lot this past couple of years, and I believe I'm starting to be able to move forward now and feel like I can start fresh again. I'm doing what I can to take care of myself and my family and do what is best for us. I've made some good new friends here in our new hometown, and I'm glad we're here. I still miss our friends elsewhere, definitely, but I'm feeling more at home here. As always, I still can't wait for a future day when all the people I care about can live on one fine heavenly cul-de-sac, and not be separated by states and miles. Life has been good to me in so many ways, but some of what I am most grateful for are the wonderful relationships I've enjoyed over the years with some amazing people. You know who you are! I thank you, and I miss you!
In terms of events, I mentioned our little trips. But everyone continues to grow. Brianna will be 14 in 3 months (whoa!), and she just got braces this week. So she now sounds a little different. It's just darling to listen to her. Charlotte will be 3 soon and is getting bigger and more mature, thank goodness, and one of the coolest bits of news for her is that she began wearing panties this week. Very exciting. So she's a big girl now! Cami and Marissa are doing great and moving right along too.
I took a few weeks off of work this month to take some time to get myself ... well, centered, grounded, re-found somehow. I've got one more week to just be with myself before I go back to the newspaper. But it's been valuable time to focus on myself a bit after everything that's happened these past months.
I also was released from the Relief Society presidency and now am playing piano in Primary. I have been in R.S. for a long while now and am adjusting to a new and very different environment! But Cami and Marissa love being able to see me on their turf on Sundays, and I am glad to be getting the rust shaken off of my long-dormant piano-playing fingers.
And that's kind of the highlights. Happy February to all.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

End of 2009

OK, short highlights. Apparently, a handful of you still read me. So to go over the year since I've written: never sold the house in Alabama. We'd had it on the market for a year without any offers, and then we got an offer that was ridiculously low, but I felt I had no choice but to take it. We were a week away from closing when the buyer lost his job. So, back to square one. And on top of that, it had essentially been off the market for a month in the summertime. Argh. So, after another month of hoping for a buyer, I put it up for rent. Went out to see the house in person, cleaned it, checked in on it myself. Got it rented soon thereafter. So we've actually gotten a couple months of rent now.
After that was settled, I was able to kind of settle into a new thought pattern here: no more horrible worry about two mortgage payments (without being "reimbursed" for one, at least), just some worry about something going wrong I couldn't afford to fix! But I guess it was an improvement.
This was September. Girls were back in school, and I was working a couple of days a week, as I have been since May, putting together the weekly entertainment section of the newspaper. Charlotte was settled into two days a week at day care. I was eager to be able to kind of regain my sanity after what was an incredibly stressful year. I can't remember a more stressful year, at least for a while back.
I went to Utah in July, flew into Salt Lake and was met by my dad there. We drove up to Rexburg, Idaho, for my nephew's wedding there. We had some nice time to talk and just be alone together for the drive up and back to/from Salt Lake. The wedding was wonderful. In August, we all drove up to Utah for a reunion of my freshman year ward at BYU. Was fun, had a good time all getting out on the open road together and seeing the sights. The girls had done the same drive in January, so seeing it all in August was a fun change of pace! We got to stop in St. George and see my dad's new place, where he'd moved in May/June to finally retire and have a good time just doing all the stuff he enjoys.
Little did I know at the time that would be the last I'd see Dad. The next I saw him was mid-October, on life support in an ICU in Salt Lake City. He had had a somewhat "routine" angiogram that had turned into an angioplasty, and later that afternoon, he'd started bleeding in his brain. The bleeding was so bad that they couldn't stop it, and it just flooded his brain. We started getting the news on a Tuesday night, and after a few quick updates that night, we knew it was looking to be irreversible. At first, I hoped it would be stopped and that, although he'd have some damage, he'd be not quite as good as new, but OK with some therapy. After all, Marce does specialize in neurological physical therapy. But quickly, we knew it was not going to go that way. We had to make plans to drive up to Utah -- and fast.
I managed to get some sleep that night, but first thing in the morning, I started taking and making tons of phone calls to family members, letting them know what was happening, and getting an update on Dad. The bleeding had extended finally to his brain stem, and it was all over. Our job then was to get up and see him while he was still "alive" on life support. We had a long day of driving. Typically, I like to read on trips. I just couldn't do it. Not much other than talking or thinking or just kind of sitting there in shock.
We all were able to spend some time with him late that night (very very late) when we arrived and then again the next day. It was difficult to see my dad like that, looking like he had just fallen asleep on my couch after my feeding him a good dinner, but knowing that he just wasn't even really "there" anymore. But I took what I had.
He was officially declared brain dead on Oct. 15, and we were able to donate his organs -- his liver and two kidneys -- and now three people are healthy and doing well, spending time with their loved ones, because of that. I can't imagine doing anything differently, if the opportunity presents itself. It is comforting to know that he could do that for two men and one woman.
All of my siblings and I had a funeral for him in Salt Lake on Oct. 17. It was a good experience for us, and I know a great thing for my dad to see us all together. I know he could be there to see it. I didn't spend much time with him in his coffin before we closed the casket. I had some time to say goodbye while he was still somewhat alive and warm, and I just didn't want to remember him in that casket. He looked good, though, and Marce and my oldest brother, Chuck, were able to dress him in his white clothes.
My life since then has been even busier and more hectic. We've had to figure out how to navigate finances in the way of wills, and I cleared out his apartment a month after his death. It was all physically and emotionally draining, and it came on top of an unbelievably difficult year for me. The grief has almost intensified as time has gone on because it just has hit me harder that he is really gone. It probably took a week after I got home to really have everything hit, and I was just overwhelmed. Things have gotten better in that I haven't been crying horribly every day. But I have a profound sadness accompanying me everywhere I go.
And that's the facts. I have not been my usual chipper self for some time now, which grieves me even more. I hope that things will settle back down (I've said THAT before) so I can have some time to heal -- from a lot of things. I have been blessed in many little ways, with little things I didn't even know to ask for. I know that I've been watched over. But my heart just wants my dad back and doesn't know how it will ever feel whole again. I know I can't possibly be the same again. I am sure I will be happy and "myself" again sometime, but I will never be the same.
I have come to appreciate just how little I understood how it felt for others to lose someone close. I didn't anticipate losing either of my parents for a long, long time, and this hit me like a Mack truck. And I now know how much more I could have done for others I knew who were grieving. Everyone grieves differently and needs different things. But I hope that now I can at least do a little better job of listening and trying to offer whatever someone else might need in their time of grief.
I end the year on a somber note. I staged a nice Christmas for my kids this week, and I hope it was good for them. For myself, I had a hard week, and I wasn't really feeling celebratory. But next week is a new year, and I hope somewhat of a fresh start in some ways. I'm going to do some fun things with the girls, provide them some more opportunities, I hope. We're going to take them to Disneyland a few times this year with a season pass. I hope that is just one neat thing that will be fun for us all. I plan good things. I plan to take some time for myself, to be with myself alone, to ponder, to write, to regroup. I plan for greater joy for my girls and my husband.
I hope to be a better friend this year too. I have been so self-centered of some necessity this year with all that has happened, so I hope that that portion of the past is past, and I can reach out more again. To you who are reading, I look forward to talking and emailing more in the future. Here's hoping we all have time for that.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Well, still a bit peeved, I have to admit...

I have somewhat gotten over the shock of having to sell our house for so low. And in a way, I've managed to be grateful (partially) and excited (a little) about at least the blessing of getting it off our hands. Marce and I went to Lowe's last weekend and spent some of the money we will be receiving on carefully planned updates for the house. A few new ceiling fans/light fixtures that will work better and look nicer, a number of odds and ends, a new screen door for the back kitchen door, and even plants. Marce warned me it was not a good time to plant annuals, but I insisted. I spent a couple of hours working on them early one morning soon after the shopping trip and was very pleased. Previously, we had just some gladiolas in the three nice little spots out front of the house, surrounded by nice rocks/boulders, and they had flowered and soon died. And for a number of weeks, that's what we had: brown, dead gladiolas. Yikes. So I planted the annuals and they looked so much nicer! Now, of course, they've wilted terribly and are not looking too happy. We also bought some bushes for right around the front walls of the house and a pretty tall jasmine for the entryway. The boxwoods, of course, look fine, but the hydrangea is wilting terribly just like the annuals. I hope that at least that stays alive and perks up eventually; I don't know what will happen with the annuals. But better than dead gladiolas, I say! Oh well.
So our trip to Lowe's was kind of my acknowledgement of celebration time. We also picked out new countertop (just a basic Formica) for the kitchen, which we've been planning on doing whenever the house sold. So we picked out something nice and were eager to get that done. Well, the installation guys came over to give an estimate, and a day later Lowe's called. The guy there is very nice and helpful. He tells me the estimate: a bit over THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS! We had been thinking it would be maybe $1600. Ha! Our kitchen is kind of wacky and complicated, with a corner sink. (Drat you, home designer from 20 years ago!! I definitely don't recommend a corner sink -- awkward, only one person can get to it at a time, etc.) So the installation is gonna cost a huge amount. Michael, the guy at Lowe's, says he'll get back in touch with me on Monday about possibly some Corian counter. If we're going to pay that much for Formica, we'd be better off paying the same or a bit more for good countertop. I had to agree.
But after thinking about it, I think we'll just have to can that project for now. It's just not in the budget, as much as I had planned on that being the big expenditure. Just not gonna happen. I'm disappointed because the counter in there now is cracked in two different spots -- foot-long cracks. But we'll just have to make do and cover them up as we've been doing.
Because we've had car issues. We had to do our scheduled 5,000-mile maintenance on the van, and it needed new tires too. Marce particularly wanted to get that done now before we drive all the way to Utah next month. So we did that and the maintenance stuff. Cost a good chunk of cash, but it had to be done. And I even had a 15% off coupon from the dealership, so it saved me some at least! Then this week, I was at work, taking my break, and running to Target and Lowe's during that time. After I came out of a short stint inside Lowe's, couldn't start the van. Jumper cables, mine and someone else's who was kind enough to help, didn't help. Tow truck did. His little self-contained box got me started. Then I had to just take the van straight to the dealership. I lost 2 1/2 hours of work time dealing with all that. Urrgh. I went back that evening for a couple of hours and got more done, even though I had just wanted to relax and kick back that evening. Had to get my pages done. So I had to then add the cost of a new battery to the van's damage done to my bank account.
Then, a mere day and a half later, we took the car in to get service done. It's been in need for a while, with a check-engine light on and just not running quite right. So, hey, let's take care of it now. I knew it wouldn't be cheap, but of course, one of the issues is going to cost us $700 to fix, along with some other less-expensive repairs. For a grand total of over $1,000. Yay. That I found out a mere half-hour before I got the call about the $3,000 countertop estimate.
Pricey week. So I'm feeling less excited about the house sale now, seeing as how I'm having to can the project I really wanted to do and still thought I could do, and having to route cash into the cars instead. URRRRrrrgggh.
I really was hoping to have some fun. The fun has been whittled down significantly, bit by bit, as time has worn on this year, and as stuff has happened just this past couple of weeks. So I'm a bit peeved again. I would say I'm a bit angry at the "universe," as they say. We've had to deal with so much crap (pardon me...) this past year that I had thought somehow it would be balanced out karmically. Somehow. But no.
So in a few weeks, we will be free of a monkey on our back in Alabama, but we will be stuck with a cracked kitchen counter and well-running cars that cost us. I wrote earlier this week on Facebook that I shuddered to think what more would happen. I'm just about full up on crappy stuff and very empty on the neat, happy, exciting stuff. OK, universe, I'm ready. Bring on the good news!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cause for celebration... supposedly.

So I've been waiting 11 months to sell our house in Alabama. Not at any point in all these months have we gotten even one offer. Until last week. It was exciting to hear from my agent on Monday that someone had put in an offer at last! My excitement was even shorter-lived than the lifespan of a fly because I found out how low the offer was. The buyer wanted $15K less than our asking price, PLUS $5K closing costs. Eeeeeeeeek! So we countered. Had to accept the closing costs because apparently that's what's going in this real-estate market right now. But not that low of a price. Then the week went by, with no response from the buyer. There was still some other interest, however. A lady wanted to buy it but is still in the process of getting all the mounds of paperwork in order for a VA loan. I was hoping she would get it all together and be able to put in an offer, one that was reasonable. Still, no luck. Then Sunday I got a call from the agent saying we'd gotten a counter from our lowballer. He'd come up $7K, at least. But I knew even before our agent told me the breakdown that that wouldn't be what I was hoping for after all came out in the wash. We're going to end up with very little in our pockets, at least compared to what the price was, and what we spent on it 3 years ago. This guy is getting a heck of a deal.
So honestly, rather than celebrating, Marce and I both are feeling quite glum. I can speak for myself, and in many ways him as well, probably, by saying that my reigning emotion right now is anger. Disappointment is a big one, but mostly I'm angry that I don't have real cause to celebrate right now. And I've endured a really stressful year, just holding on and holding on and managing to do so mainly by holding on to the hope that there would be a good payoff at the end. And now I've reached the end of this hideously dark tunnel to find that the light isn't a big roaring bonfire but a little match struck and already popping out. It's a huge letdown, and I'm angry.
Yep, that's right.
Those of you who still read this blog on occasion, and then that part of you who just know how I appear on the outside most of the time, will probably be a bit shocked by this admission. I'm cheery, optimistic and generally am good (at least outwardly) at finding silver linings. But frankly, I'm mad. I'm hopping mad. I'm angry at Fate for her cruel twist. yeah, there are people out there in way worse situations. And I sympathize. I do. I am sorry for being selfish, but for a few days I'm holding a pity party to at least allow my anger a bit of free rein in hopes it will dissipate after a good run around the corral.
Yes, I'm glad that this huge trial will soon be over. Knock on wood. Glad that this monkey will finally be off my back. I'm a bit relieved. But I so wanted to celebrate. And a small measure of relief does not a good party make.
My main hope now is that the sale will go smoothly these next 4 or 5 weeks and that it can truly be behind us. That somehow despite the lack of festive feelings on my part right now, that eventually the stress that has haunted us for months (and this is all right on the heels of the difficult year that was brought on us by the legal and financial issues of Charlotte's adoption) will go away for a while. That we can have at least a breather, a time to enjoy life and each other and to scale back on work taken on to pay extra bills, etc., to just relax and have some fun. 'Cause we truly deserve it.
And I do hope that will be the end of my griping.
This is the pity partier, signing off.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Happy birthday to you... and you... and you... and you....

Well, we made it through the May birthday juggernaut. It is now cake-free time until August. Charlotte turned 2 April 30, I turned 39 (really!) on May 14, Brianna 13 on May 16, and Cami 7 on May 31. Whew. I made cakes for everyone but myself and had little birthday parties for Charlotte and Cami. On Cami's birthday, it was warm enough weather to have a swim party with the cousins. Sure, it's California, but it still doesn't really get hot enough to swim until at least mid-May.
Right now, oddly, we're enjoying a cool spell. We even had some rainfall last week (I've heard that's rather unusual for this area once it's past April), and a storm the week before that. Mind you, it wasn't a rainstorm. Just a storm. It thundered and lightning struck all over and split the night sky -- you get the idea -- but no rain. Oh, sure, a few drops sprinkled the car, but that's about all. I do believe that's the first time I've experienced a storm without rain. We also got a lot of wind that made our backyard look like Alabama during hurricane season. Pretty weird.
As for the moment, I am thoroughly enjoying the low humidity (at least that will stay the same all summer) and the temperate weather -- 70s and low 80s. Very nice. I would be SO happy if it stayed that way all year round. Or at least all summer. I don't mind cooler temps in the winter. Of course, Marce says if I like those kind of temperatures, I should live in the Bay Area. Maybe eventually we'll make our way back up there. Just not anytime soon. I'm not moving again any time in the near or even more distant future if I have any say in the matter.
I got a red beach-cruiser-style Schwinn for my birthday. It's much like the red Schwinn I had growing up. I have now taken it for a spin twice -- once myself in the late evening last week, and then once yesterday with Brianna. She and I cruised around the downtown area of Visalia and had a delightful time. Nice weather, some pretty old houses to look at. Even ran into some friends. I have to say I really like the outdoors atmosphere around here. A lot more people are just out and about here: walking, riding bicycles, working in their yards. Perhaps one reason is that it's just not as miserably humid here as it is in Alabama. Perhaps some is just the California state of mind -- more outdoorsy, more active. I'm liking it. I like that there are bike lanes a lot of places we go. I do, however, miss the nice bicycle trail that was in Alabama. I did not have a bike all that time and so never used the trail for biking; just went on a walk a couple of times. It was very pretty and stretched for miles across a couple of states. And here I come here and buy a bike and I don't know right offhand about a similar bike trail. I am going to have to do some investigating.
It is now summer; the girls are officially out of school. For the first time in my mothering life, I am welcoming their being out. My 2-year-old has really tested me these past few months, and being home alone with her has been pretty tough. But when the older girls are home, they can help keep her busy and at least keep an eye on what she's into. So yay for no school! Yay for helpers! I have a few somewhat grand plans to try to do some fun things with them, do a little traveling, some day trips mostly; teach them to sew, teach some piano, perhaps; not sure. I'd really like to work on math with Marissa. Well, strike that. I really NEED to work on math with Marissa. I'm not eager to do so. But she needs it. She will be going to summer school during the mornings, and getting some continuing help on academics, but I am sure it would help if I sat down with her every day and worked on math. That's the optimistic side of me speaking. But the practical side knows that it won't happen. It'll just be too hectic.
Big trips will include for me a trip to Idaho for my nephew's wedding and for all of us -- even Marce! -- a trip to Provo for a reunion for my freshman ward at BYU. I'm excited about those. Should be lots of fun. I'd love to take everyone to Idaho as well, but two long car trips only 3 weeks apart are just not in the cards. The girls had to agree on this point.
I have been busy with work -- I am now working daytime at the local paper. I work about two days a week, roughly 10 to 12 hours total, laying out and editing the entertainment tabloid that is published by the paper once a week on Fridays. So I spent Wednesdays and Thursdays working on it and feverishly trying to get all the little stuff done by 3 p.m. on Thursday. I've been doing it for, oh, about 5 or 6 weeks now and I think I've gotten the hang of it finally. I'm in a nice smooth groove. It's fun and gives me a nice opportunity to edit and do some more fun layout than news. Also gets me out of the house a couple of times a week and with makeup and hair done and everything. Yes. Indeed. This week I spent two more days at the office laying out and designing a special "what to do in downtowns" section that comes out quarterly. So my week was quite full with work. I do enjoy the opportunity but the week ended up way out of balance. I did not do much cooking at all. I remedied that today by making bread and having fresh vegetables and fruit with it. Tasty and healthy, by golly.
I'm still reading up a storm and keeping up with my Rated Reads site. I am very pleased with it. I am slowly building up its "database" and working on adding new reviewers. I still get very positive feedback on what a good service it is. Just need some more visitors. I would like for it to be profitable someday, but for now it's a labor of love.
That concludes this update. It's quite lengthy. I do hope to be doing more blogging and writing as time goes by this summer.

Friday, May 1, 2009

All's swine, thank you

So apparently some of you still read this blog. So here we go: a long-overdue update.
First, we've had two cases of swine flu here in our county. One was in an elementary school that my RS president's kids go to. They shut it down the past 3 days. I've been working at the paper (more on that in a minute), and we've been covering it like crazy, just like any other media outlet. I have a similar feeling to perhaps many of you who don't work at a news outlet: enough, already! There's only so much to be done about it. If you're not feeling well, stay home. If you're fine, then keep washing your hands and being careful about sickness and hygiene. And that about covers it.
On to the work. I've been working at the newspaper here, the Visalia Times-Delta, since, oh, February sometime, I think. Or early March? It's all a blur. Well, Mom came in early February, I think, for a very last-minute visit which I urged her to take since she was having ice storms and so on and had no school and no power. I had an interview. Then shortly after, the editor contacted me. I had made clear that I could not work full-time, but I was open to doing projects or part-time stuff. So I wrote one freelance piece for their monthly magazine, and then I was asked to work on the copy desk temporarily, until they got their staffing up to snuff. It was going to be for 3 weeks, so I said, sure, I'll do full-time for that amount of time. And I did. I worked from 4:30 in the afternoon until 11:30 at night, and then got up and did all my usual things at home.
First, the work was fun. Haven't done news in years, although I've technically done editing the past few years as I've worked on the book page in Anniston. So I felt a little fish-out-of-water for a couple of days but got back on the bicycle, so to speak. And I've been pedaling quite fine since and having a good time. I enjoy the work, and getting paid to keep up with the news is always nice. And I've had a lot of fun with the other copy editors. It's always refreshing to get to know new people, particularly in a setting outside of my house.
However, the hours were rough, and I insisted on trying to keep up with everything as usual, like making sure my family had real meals in my absence. I did it, but I was exhausted.
After three weeks, they needed me for longer, so I said, OK, I'll do part-time. I've done 3 days a week ever since. And that's been for, gee, 5 or 6 weeks? Hard to say. I took the week of spring break off so I could be around with the girls when they were out of school. I took Brianna down to Los Angeles to the Getty art museum, which was just lovely in architecture, views and actual art collection. We had a very nice time. I even took an hour or so to drive her by the Los Angeles Temple and down Santa Monica Boulevard through Beverly Hills, and she got to see the Hollywood sign in the hills. Not bad for one day (just drove down and back). The rest of the week was spent hanging out a bit and catching up on everything around here that felt like it had fallen apart while I was working.
Now I've managed to swing a daytime job. I'll just be working about 10 hours a week, laying out and editing their weekly entertainment tabloid. So yay for daytime! I'm procuring daycare for Charlotte two days a week so I can do that. But mostly the kids won't know much of a difference from here on out. Next week is my first week doing that new gig. Yay for me.
Speaking of Charlotte, she turned 2 yesterday. Amazing. She's doing some pottying, depending on if she wants to be serious or goof around with me. But it's cool. Yay Charlotte! She's talking a lot and being as friendly and engaging as ever. And curious. And into everything. I bought some more child locks that would keep her out of more things. We're having a small party for her tomorrow with some family, friends, and cake and sandwiches. So I will post pictures on SmugMug.
I've found a new book club. Been to several meetings now. I'm glad I've got a group to discuss literature with again. We had a meeting last night and talked up a storm about The Alchemist. Great little book. It is the third time I've read it in 15 years, and it always makes me feel jump-started on working toward my dreams.
That brings me to my other projects. I've been steadily increasing the content on Rated Reads. I've got some help from other readers/reviewers and I've got probably 40 or 50 people visiting every day. Not bad, I suppose. But I'd like lots more traffic! But I've got about 140 books on the site now, I think.
I'm still very serious about doing more writing. I've been trying to get my children's book published, but you know, publishing is a very very very very very tough business. I think I'll do better if I can get my middle readers' book or my young-adult book going and shopped around. Now I need to scrabble together some time to do some writing. Because I have nothing else to do.
I've also managed to get some good projects done around here the past few weeks. I've cleaned up, thrown out, organized more and put more junk away in some fashion. There are fewer piles in corners or on countertops. I'm very jazzed about this because I hate clutter. It's been very gratifying seeing some of it go away. It makes the house feel much better. My brain is so busy all the time that if there's clutter around me, in addition to being in my head, I do feel a little bit crazy.
On the church front, for those who are LDS, you will understand when I say I am in the Relief Society presidency in our ward here. I'm the enrichment counselor. I did this for 5 1/2 years in Alabama before we left and had a reprieve of approximately 6 months. Now I'm back in the saddle again. I'm pleased but feel ever more responsible to do something because now I'm having to just get to know everyone here first! I'm making progress, however, with learning names and finding out what everyone is like and what they do. It's responsibility but I'm glad to serve.
I make very regular posts on Facebook, so this blog has suffered. But it's a lot more interesting to write a bunch of stuff on here. Now if I can get caught up with my journal, I'll be really doing well.
We are still trying to sell our house in Alabama. It's been since July we've had it on the market. It's about time it just sells. But even though it's stressful, I do have to appreciate that at least we have a home and jobs.
The girls are doing well. We're well into birthday season for everyone, and all are excited particularly that it's about time to be able to use the swimming pool that's been lapping in the backyard since we moved in. I'm not in too great a hurry for it to get miserably hot. We had that for about five days two weeks ago and it was not pleasant. Today, however, we're actually getting some rain, which is most welcome. I'm fine with summer waiting its sweet time.
That is all for today. I'm off to work.