Monday, January 31, 2011

Pray for My Family

My aunt has passed away. Please pray for her husband, kids and grandkids, and her sisters. It's a rough time.

Friday, January 28, 2011

January 28, 11 Years Ago

When God Calls by Cindy O'Connor
When God calls little children to dwell with him above,
We mortals sometimes question.
For no heartache compares with the death of one small child
Who does so much to make our world,
Seem wonderful and mild.
Perhaps God tires of calling the aged to His fold,
So he picks a rosebud before it can grow old.
God knows how much we need them
And so he takes but a few
To make the Land of Heaven more beautiful to view.
Believing this is difficult still somehow we must try.
The saddest word mankind knows will always be "Goodbye."
So when a little child departs,
We who are left behind must realize God loves children;
Angels are hard to find.

January 26, 1988-January 28, 2000. Gone but never forgotten. I can't believe it's been 11 years.

Cloth Diapers, Part II

Maybe you're wondering how the cloth diapering is going? It has been a week or so, and I can tell you... it is WAY more work than disposables. And worth every extra minute!! I love knowing exactly what touches my little guy in his most delicate region. It's just cotton, or fleece at night to wick the moisture from his skin. I also love that I'm not essentially throwing away $.50 every single time I change him!

The next step is doing away with disposable wipes. It seems like washable wipes would be more of a pain than disposable... but let me tell you, it is a BIG pain to seperate out the throw away part from the washable part! I would much rather just toss it all in the pail together and wash it up.

Only a few more days till our move, and I have discovered something I'll miss about living with my parents: the sterilization setting on their washer. It's pretty nice. But alas, hopefully our washer at the apartment will at least have a hot setting. Ok, I'll miss a few things beyond that, but I won't miss never having any alone time with my own little family!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Prayers Needed

Tonight I just ask for a few prayers ... prayers for Brian's uncle Doyle Ray to come through his health scare.

Prayers for my Aunt Martha. For her please just pray God's will be done quickly. She has been sick for a great many years with a variety of physical and mental ailments. Please pray that she doesn't suffer any longer, no matter what ends her suffering. She is now VERY sick. Pray for Martha's husband, my Uncle John. This tops off a lifetime of loving sacrifice by him for her.

And pray for my mom. She has yet to lose any siblings and while she and Martha aren't what you'd call "close," she isn't prepared to lose one of her sisters. Pray for my Aunt Evelyn for the same strength. And pray for their kids and grandkids.

Thanks, all. This is not terribly surprising but still very difficult.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bullying... it's out there.

Bullying. I think bullying is getting WAAAAAY too much press right now. I think it is SO important to put a stop to real, actual bullying. I grew up with someone who was badly bullied, to the point where he could've been badly injured. To the point where the cops intervened when the school didn't. It is VITAL that kids who bully like that are stopped. This was every day over a period of time, with escalating violence. I don't feel it is my place to reveal this person's identity on the web. We've never discussed how they feel now about what took place, so their identity shall remain a secret. Anyway, that is what I see as bullying. Prolonged, escalating mistreatment of another human being for any or no reason.

If two kids scuffle on the playground, that is not bullying. That is part of growing up. It is how kids learn about conflict and resolution. It is getting to the point where schools are intervening before kids have any time to work things out themselves, and that worries me. Just like I worry about how winners AND losers at children's sports now get trophies. Let's reward mediocrity. Why rise above it when you've been told it is perfectly ok to fail? I don't want Gage to have some insane expectations, where he has a minimal chance of success. And I ALWAYS want him to know we're proud as long as he tries his best. But if we don't push him just a little, to try a little harder, to shine just a bit brighter, how will he ever learn to succeed? Isn't it possible to encourage kids to do better even while letting them know we love them if they fall short? Do we have to just accept that they WILL fall short and praise them for giving up? I hope not.

Maybe all of this makes me come off like a bad parent... but it's just that I want Gage to know the joy of winning, of accomplishing a goal, of pushing himself and succeeding. I want him to believe in himself and know that with God, he can achieve whatever he sets his mind to. How can I teach him those things if I teach him failure is expected and totally acceptable, and giving up is no big deal.

Maybe this is what's wrong with the world these days... but by the same token, if someone ever were to bully/hurt/humiliate my son, I can say what I would do. I can say I would take whatever action necessary to ensure that the bullying were stopped. Maybe we could all do better to think about how we interact with our fellow man. A little more love and kindness never hurt anyone.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Have to Say It Was A Good Day

Yesterday, I woke up late because Gage woke up late. I hadn't gotten a very good night's sleep, and I had to go to Weight Watchers with my mom. I threw on some clothes, Gage and I headed upstairs... only to find out my mom had turned her alarm clock off instead of hitting snooze, so she was just getting up at 5 minutes before we needed to leave, or be late. I started fixing Gage's breakfast, feeling like a huge, dark cloud was settling over me. Tired, with a late start, having to go get weighed when I knew I hadn't had an optimal week.

My mom got downstairs, and I snapped at her in response to the first thing she said to me. I then took a step back, and looked at myself. Most of my bitterness was for things that were my own doing!

"Lord," I said, "I need to give you this day. It is already off to a rough start and I'm taking it out on everyone around me. Take this day, I don't want it anymore, and do with it what you will."

I finished Gage's breakfast and turned him over to my dad; mom and I headed to Weight Watchers. I stepped on the scale and discovered I had neither gained nor lost! This made me happy, not having had a good week. Apparently it wasn't as bad as I thought. It cheered me immensely, and instead of feeling down at not losing, I was instead ecstatic that I hadn't gained.

Mom and I headed home after the meeting, found Gage in really great spirits. We decided to go have a waffle (not that bad for you, did you know that?) And had a really nice time. Then it was off to lunch with Brian and his dad, which was also really nice. We got home, and Gage played by himself long enough for me to do some Wii exercising. I felt happy, and good, all day long!

Then Gage took a nap. He napped for 2.5 hours, despite quite a lot of noise from upstairs. He woke up, and we were playing on the bed when he crawled into my lap and put his head down. I started rubbing his back, and anytime I'd stop, he would squirm for more. So I kept rubbing his little back. Before I knew it, he was asleep again!!! Right there with his precious little baby head in my lap. It was a perfect, beautiful moment that I wished I could bottle, take out, and have a couple sips of when I need a boost.

The memories of this perfect age fade so fast. I only hope I can always recall what it feels like to be momma to this baby angel here on earth, this special guy who came to be part of our family 13 months and 17 days ago.

And when he's 14 years old and says things like, "Moooooom, you are SO LAME!!" I hope I can give that day to God, and have another perfect moment of bliss and memory making. The best way to insure that? Give each day over to God!

Monday, January 24, 2011

NFL Training Camp for Wii

Brian is very supportive of me, both in my fitness goals and of me as I am now. A little while ago, he got us NFL Training Camp and EA Active for the Wii. They're essentially the same hardware bundle (hr monitor, leg sensor, resistance band) with different games. So while I thought EA Active sounded fun, I have been REALLY looking forward to NFL Training Camp!! Today I got my first shot at it. I did the 60 day challenge which is 4 days a week on and 3 days a week off.

The game gives you a choice of teams and player to train with which is kind of fun. You can also choose between easy, moderate, and extreme. I did moderate and it was a nice mix of stretches, plyometrics, and resistance band work. I believe it took about 25 min out of my day, perfect for me with Gage. I worked up a decent sweat and could view all sorts of graphs about my performance. It'll track all of that for me as I go, along with weight. I like it a lot!

Speaking of weight, I neither gained nor lost weight last week, which I'm pretty proud of considering I had kind of strayed there for a bit. So now I'm back on the wagon and moving again!

How are you staying fit this winter and staving off the hibernation feelings?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I Beat the Sweets Today!!!

My brother, Todd, and his wife Cara came over for dinner. My Mom really pushed to make brownies for dessert. I repeatedly told her no (yay!) Then after dinner, my Mom told Todd he should go to the store for dessert. Well, he decided he would go and ultimately did. In order to avoid the temptation, I took Gage to bed. The coolest part? Todd got ice cream, which I normally love. It didn't even sound all that great to me! But I was glad I could avoid the temptation. I've gotten sort of off track from WW over the past few weeks. This week, I pledge to restart, and work even harder. I will continue the sugar-free-ness, but I will take it one step further. I will make it an 8 week sugar ban, and I will try to cut down/out high fructose corn syrup as well.

There are two reasons I am so set on losing weight. Well, three actually. The first is for my health. Obviously, being overweight is terrible for you. And I want to live a long, healthy, active life with my son and future children. Which brings to my second reason. I want to set a good example for Gage. Being active, eating right, enjoying a healthy lifestyle... these things are learned at home. I don't want him growing up thinking that fast food is healthy. My third and final reason is much more sweeping. I want to release this very American idea that more food is better, the sweeter the better, the saltier the better, the bigger the better. Processed foods and refined sugars are taking over our tables and this is just not right!

I resolve today, while giving up sweets and cutting out as much HFCS as possible, to become more label aware, choose a fresh version when possible, and to do more scratch cooking when we get out of here. I want to bake our bread again! I used to and I loved it. I want a better life than so many settle for nutritionally. I don't want to just accept that fat is in and obesity is ok with most people! I'm all for loving yourself... but not when you aren't even healthy!

I'll also be trying out our new Wii games, EA Active and NFL Training Camp. Gonna try doing them in the mornings when Gage is happy and playful. I am going to power through my rut and come out the other side with big gains made by having big losses!

Who's with me?


Seriously. Go Steelers! Make it a yellow super bowl.

Giving Up Sweets for a Month

I really love sweet things. I mean really. I like most kinds as well. And for the most part, I do pretty well keeping them in moderation. But it would be sooo much better if I could just avoid sweets except for special occasions. So, in an attempt to break myself of this sugary addiction, I'm going off sweets for a month. I think Tuesday was my first day. So far so good, I just don't really have any around so that's helpful. My Mom is doing it with me so we'll see. She ate a sweet roll the other day so she kind of cheated. I think maybe she missed the point of overcoming temptation!!

I'm going to stick with it. I've been doing Weight Watchers but for some reason their new Points Plus system totally detailed me. I haven't really been able to get back on track measuring and counting since it started and I NEED to! It was really working for me. I also need to start walking/ gymin' it again.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Having a Routine is Vital to Accomplishing Anything

Or why you can't have even a shred of normalcy while living in someone else's house.

My days have become a discombobulated mess. Gage and I wake up pretty much whenever Gage wakes up. We're trying to implement a 7:00 am wake time but that is hard when he refuses to sleep till anywhere between 9 and 11. I want to start getting him to bed between 6:30 and 7:30, but that's impossible when it doesn't mesh with the people you live with.

So anyway... we wake up whenever, then we go eat breakfast and play for a bit. Sometime between 9:00 and 11:00am, Gage is ready for a nap. He'll sleep anywhere from an hour to three, as long as I lay with him (more on this in a minute.) When he wakes up, we eat lunch and play some more. He may take another nap sometime between 12:00 and 5:00, depending on when he napped earlier and if just can't make it any longer. Yes, I know that having him nap late makes it hard for him to go to bed. Some days we have no choice. *sigh*

His nap times, for me, are both wonderful and terrible. There are at least 1,000 things I could get done while he sleeps, but I have to remain next to him. On the other hand, I have days where curling up with him for two hours seems to be the greatest blessing a momma could have. I guess I just think he needs a more quality sleep experience, and I need that time as a momma! Right now, honestly, it generally works out ok because it gives me a little quiet time away from the rest of the family. But when we move in three weeks... I will really need that time, or NOTHING will ever get done.

See, part of the problem is that while we've been here, Gage has discovered that there is almost never a reason to be put down unless he wants to be. If he so much as makes an unhappy peep, Grandma is picking him up. I know that's the nature of g-parents, but honestly, it has destroyed Gage's ability to just hang by himself for even a minute. When we lived in Albq, every day I'd put Gage in his bouncer seat in the bathroom, and take a shower. Here, my shower depends 100% on everyone else, unless I feel like listening to Gage howl from the bouncer seat and then a parent telling me how awful I am for putting him in there, why didn't I just wait till they could watch him, etc. So there is gonna be a definite learning curve when we get moved.

Bottom line? Come February 14, there is going to be some scheduling put into place. Our days are going to become very routine, and things are going to get done. Babies and toddlers thrive on routine. They love knowing what comes next and being able to predict how the day will go. Gage will be a happier guy, and that will make me a happier momma.

We really, really appreciate having had the chance to stay with my parents. They saved us, really, because having the house still would have made it really, really hard if we had had to move up here and find a place to rent right away. So I can't thank them enough. That doesn't mean we are not SO ready to move on!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cloth Diapers

They've arrived! I've been so excited to get them and get started using them and they're finally here. Now we just have to wash some cloth inserts 5 times or so to get them absorbant and ready for usage. I have a couple more packages of inserts coming yet as they're very important to have a lot. They'll be so much cuter than the regular ol' disposables. AND they'll save us money! AND they're good for the environment! AND I no longer have to wonder what exactly is up against his most delicate skin in disposables that allows them to absorb SO MUCH.

I actually wanted to start with cloth diapering, but let a friend (now an ex-friend) talk me out of it. She told me that she'd read that cloth diapering was WORSE when you lived in the desert. While that sort of makes sense, the amount of water used to wash cloth diapers is a drop in the bucket compared to the environmental impact of disposables. Poop in the ground water, anyone?!

But, sadly (if you're an environmental nut), I can't even site environmental impact as my biggest reasoning for going with cloth now... it's primarily a money thing. When I crunched the numbers, after the original small investment, we'll save over $60 a month just from not using disposables. If I use cloth wipes too, instead of disposables, that brings the monthly savings to over $80 a month. That's huge! It's good to get away from the disposable mindset. Then there's the thought that whenever we're ready for baby #2, we can reuse these ... making the savings even greater. They snap to different sizes so that they're usable for babies from newborn to 38 pounds. Hopefully by 38 pounds Gage will be out of diapers! These are handmade with love, and the seller was AWESOME. Check out if you're interested in cloth diapering... they're also relatively affordable compared to many cloth diapers.

Wait till you see him in these diapers. It is gonna be SOOOO cute!

The House Debacle (or Why This Market is Not So Hot)

This post could also have been titled, "Why you don't want to have a house built, put it on the market 6 months later in an economic downturn and expect it to sell for anything even close to what you paid," but that just seemed a bit too lengthy. This post won't be quite as long or detailed as I'd originally planned because I have a lot of other writing to do today. Just finished up the magazine's e-newsletter for this month (don't know why but it's not that fun for me to do the newsletter. Ok, I do know why but I won't put it here. But that's why it's work, right?) And I also have some writing that I have to have to have to get finished up for Brian's uncle Doyle. He has a mission/day shelter for homeless teens called Sox Place and they have asked me to put together a bit of info from all of the various press that they have received. I've not had loads of time to devote to it with the holidays, baby, magazine work, etc but it's really important that I get it done this weekend so I get it done!

Anyway. Back to the house debacle. I guess I'll begin at the beginning! Back in late April, almost two years ago, we found out we were having a baby. We were stoked, but we also weren't living in a baby-optimal situation. The area was a little rough, the townhouse was a little small... and probably filled with lead paint and asbestos, ha ha. So we set about trying to find a house to buy. We decided to go with this "green" builder, Paul Allen. Man, did we think they were great throughout the building process. We switched floor plans/lots once, they were just terrific. We thought that not only were we getting a great quality, economical house, but also making some good friends in the process. We were envisioning visiting the sales center on the weekends just to say hi! Clearly we felt like there was a good relationship there. We took pictures of my belly each month in front of the house being built so we'd have the progress of the house and the baby. We met and became friends with our next door neighbors, whose house was being built at the same time. This was going to be our forever home, the end of us moving every few years! We'd go walk around the house with our video camera, plotting out our furniture in the rooms, picture the baby's room, etc. If you'd see these videos you would see how full of hope they were. And you'd think of how crushing it would be if things didn't quite turn out as expected. But alas, this entry would be pretty boring if I didn't tell you things didn't quite work out the way we'd hoped.

We found tons of things wrong during our walk through. Nothing major, but little things that had been totally overlooked. It was disappointing, but the builders promised us it would all be fixed, and they were our friends, right?! So of course, we knew they fix it all promptly and to our liking. Ha ha ha. We went ahead and closed on the house. We stayed in our townhouse for a few more nights while we spent the days and evenings painting walls and getting things done at our new house. We were SO excited to move in. We moved in, and then we started finding things wrong in earnest. I won't bore you with details, but I'm talking emailing LISTS of 10+ things to the builders every couple days. We weren't being ridiculously picky, these were things that you just shouldn't see in a brand new house. We were starting to question the quality of work, the quality control, that the builders had promised.

They started pretty much blowing us off, as though we were just making things up. They'd ignore our emails, ignore our phone calls, until we would threaten legal action. Then a couple things would be addressed, and we'd go back to basic radio silence. Besides these annoyances, something much greater was happening - we were falling out of love with the house. We were much less willing to overlook the things that once were minor dislikes about the floor plan or the lot, and those things became front and center. We'd talk all evening long about how terrible it was in the house. We would wonder if in two years the whole thing would collapse on us.

Somewhere during this time, I got this idea in my head that I would rather Gage grow up in Colorado than New Mexico. The schools in NM are ... well, not that great. The schools in CO have their problems too, but there are lots of charter options, private schools, etc up here that just aren't available in NM. So I talked to Brian about it, he pretty much said no way right now. We just moved, he said. I don't want to move to a different state. But he hated his job, and it got worse and worse every day for him. He finally agreed to call the Nissan dealer he'd worked at up here, just to get an idea of if they'd be interested in hiring him, for how much, etc. He sent a resume and interviews. The parts manager loved him, but they weren't really hiring then. He said they'd call Brian when they wanted to hire him. After some careful deliberation, we decided to go ahead and put the house on the market. The realtor we used was the wife of the service manager at the dealership Brian was at, so we thought she'd do a great job. We were wrong again. She listed our house so high we had ONE showing on it in around 3 months. We contacted another realtor and he basically told us there was no way our house could be sold for anywhere near what we paid for it. He said he'd look into what he could do for us, then he ran away and never contacted us again. We panicked. We wondered if we should just let the bank have the house. What were we going to do when the job came through? We looked into short sale, and decided that was our only option. We had our old realtor unlist the house, and as soon as that happened, short sale realtors crawled out of the woodwork. The first were scammers, but once we got through those, we got a really great team who was experienced and legit to work with us. We started the process of short sale with them back on September 13, right before we moved away.

Today is January 21. and our house is still sitting. We have jumped one of the final hurdles in the short sale process, that the bank has agreed we had a qualifying hardship by having to take a job out of state. That was the biggest hurdle, the one we've had to jump through soooo many hoops for. When you do a short sale, you're basically asking the bank to forgive you of some of your mortgage debt, and take a loss on the sale of your home. It's a win-win in a downturn. They get to not deal with a foreclosure, and neither do the home owners. However - because you're asking them to take a many thousands of dollars kick in the shorts, it is a very lengthy process and you basically have to open your financial life to them - more so even than when BUYING a house. We had to come up with tax records for the past two years, pay stubs (a few times), bank statements, hardship letters telling why we couldn't just keep the house, financial statements, and more. We're in the final leg of the house battle. They've appraised our house, so they know how much less than we paid for it it's worth (hint: it's worth around $45k less. AND they'll take up to $60k less, approximately. SAD.) Now that the bank has decided that we definitely had a qualifying hardship, they just have to figure out which of our offers they like the best. If that person still wants it, the house can close and it'll be gone. The fun part of short sale is that the bank won't even consider a short sale for you if you are current on your mortgage. 'Cause, hey, if you can afford it, what do they care if you can't live in it?! So we had to stop paying our mortgage, and our credit has suffered. I'll grant that it probably hasn't suffered nearly as much as a foreclosure, but that doesn't mean that there haven't been times we've talked about just letting the stupid house get voluntarily foreclosed, lovingly known in the industry as sending them "jingle mail," which refers to the jingle of the keys in an envelope, making their way to the bank.

I'm sure you can imagine how much the whole thing has weighed upon our hearts. To go from so excited and loving the house, the process, etc to just wanting to unload the pile of junk, it's a pretty big, sad change. Fortunately we're almost there, it's been a marathon not a race. When we finally realized that the house wouldn't sell last year and we were almost done with it, we decided to make the move out of my parents house. We'll be moving Feb 12 or thereabouts, and we CAN'T wait! We sign our lease Feb 9 and that will be a glorious day indeed.

What a long story. I commend you if you got through all of that. I promise not all of my posts will be such rambling, lengthy diatribes, but the house story is an important story to tell. I hope you found it interesting.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hello and welcome!

Here is my blog! I will write in here about all manner of things from being a mommy to car stuff to my beliefs. I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. I'm going to do my best to write at least every few days but with the baby and the work we'll see. Let's see... I guess I'll start by telling you a little about myself.

I am, first and foremost, a wife and stay-at-home mom. I love taking care of my husband and son. I never thought I would want to be a stay-at-home mom, but from the moment I looked into Gage's face, I knew there was no one better suited to raise our son than me. So here I am!! I am an automotive fanatic. If it has wheels I probably am interested in it. Currently I drive a Subaru Impreza Outback. It's a pretty cool little car, a little slow but good on snow and ice. Our other car is a beautiful titanium pearl Maxima. If you know me, you know my husband, Brian, and I used to have matching grey Maximas. The other was grey lustre. We sold it to move here because we really wanted an AWD something. So now a grey Subaru and a grey Maxima. The Subaru needs a little love but that's kind of hard in the dead of winter with a baby so... hopefully come springtime I can clean it up a bit.

Speaking of moving here, Brian and I recently moved back to Colorado from Albuquerque. I'm from here; he was born in Arkansas and raised in New Mexico. He moved to CO some years ago, then about 9 years ago we met. The rest, as they say, is history. Reason for moving back to CO from NM? The job market primarily. We had a house in NM so it was a little awkward trying to unload that in a recession. We actually still have a house in NM. Maybe tomorrow I'll tell you about that. It has been a rather unfun process.

So if we have a house in NM but live in CO, how do we afford it? We live with my parents. In their basement, to be exact. It has been a struggle for all three of us (four if you count our pup, Chevy) but we're making it through. And the house debacle is almost cleared up, so we're moving into our very own apartment next month! Trust me when I say we can't wait.

I'm a Christian and I love God. I feel His hands in my life every day and His blessings are upon me. I often am not the best Christian I can be, but I keep trying, and with His Grace I'll keep improving. I need His help every day!!!

I write for a magazine that I won't tell you the name of, at least not publically. If you're really interested, email me and I'll tell you, but I don't want this blog at all affiliated with the magazine. It's a car magazine, and not a very big one. I CAN tell you it isn't Car and Driver or Motor Trend.

I guess that's about all I'll bore you with for now! Tomorrow I'll tell you about our house in NM. It's a funny story if you're a fan of tragedy. It has been such a nightmare that all I can do is laugh about it. If you feel like it, say hi! Introduce yourself to blog me. And have a wonderful day!