Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Eating My Carrots

I think that the 30s are possibly the most transformative of decades.  What do you think? Surely more than your 20s.  I guess I can't speak to the later decades, but it seems that so much growth and change happen in this decade.

Part of that, is that I have been thinking a lot about my perception of myself versus others' perceptions of me.  As a life long people-pleaser this is not necessarily new, but my thoughts on it are.  I am thinking less about whether people like me, and more about the function of the power I place in that.  I am actively attempting to place less power in it.  And to place more value in whether I like someone.  Being a people-pleaser can feel a bit like being a hapless contestant on the The Bachelor... you suddenly catch yourself competing for the love of someone you do not know and might not even like... hell, often you KNOW you do not like them.  It is a sickness, and it can be so toxic.

I think, if you are a people-pleaser, you most likely grew up with self-pleasers and inherently seek them out to replicate that role and your (often hellish) spot in it.  It is essentially a survival mechanism that becomes a crutch.

In my life experience, self-pleasers cannot understand the motives of people-pleasers. (And the reverse is certainly true, as well) They are typically suspicious of a people-pleasers and apt to consider them manipulative or judgmental, not able to understand the reward in the pleasing behavior.  And who can blame them?... it certainly is confusing... because there often isn't one.  They are likely to confuse you for a martyr... but you aren't that... you simply cannot see your worth in being loved for your own merits.  You cannot stomach choking out a request for your own needs, lest they seem selfish.  You believe you need to make people like you (or see you) by being useful/helpful/available.  I can tell you, it doesn't get you anywhere... in those toxic relationships, anyway.  Which sadly comes to cloud your ability to see your worth in other ones.

I have spent my life like this.  In real life.  In every day.

There are people who do like me.  They think I am smart, funny, engaging, and giving.  They respect me, even.  Mr F has to remind me of this (almost nightly), because I have spent my life focusing on the few core people who don't.  It is hard and frustrating to feel trapped in someone's description of who you are.  These negative views are almost always held by people who spend little to no time with you... so how they justify their opinion of you adds even more layers to the accumulating hurt and frustration... because, of course, if they see how inherently unlovable you are with so little contact... it must be true.  And that just feeds the original injury.  It is hard to keep going to those dry wells dug in your childhood and ask to be seen differently.  And yet you feel compelled to.

Anyway.  I just spent a weekend with my family (can you tell?).  It is exhausting for me.  It makes me tense and upset to not understand how to be liked and seen as who I am.  To not have room for my real personality.  To get no positive reinforcement or even just regular conversation that isn't defensive or weird or strange or borderline combative.  To not be talked TO, but around or at.  To feel outside.

This is the normal, and I am coming to understand that less is required of me to maintain it, not more.  There isn't more effort or more time that will result in an understanding among such different perceptions of our world and our interactions in them.  That is what my 30s have gifted me.  Some dynamics are at an impasse and you have to figure out how to cut them down to what will work.  Not keep building them up.  That really only works between brains that process in similar ways.  In this situation, there will always be a language barrier.  There will always be the misinterpretations and misunderstandings inherit with that.  That's okay.  It CAN be okay.

Engage in it less.  That is an option... it might be the first self pleasing move you make, but there is something of value in that after all.

Choose better in the relationships you CAN choose.

I have learned a lot about this, this year, sharing carpool and volunteer positions at school.  The world is a great divide of people-pleasers and self-pleasers and those few sane people in between.  When you remove the emotional ties of your family and work-related dynamics you can see it played out clearly and differently.  You can see that there are healthy ways to be either.  This year has taught me to pay more attention to the positive, because there is so much more of it (really... for you, too).  This has been a wake up call for my sense of self and self esteem.  People want me on their team.  People see my worth and value my input and talents, even those who don't always agree with me or "love" my personality. There are people who see my strengths as strength and not as weakness.  There are people who see my strengths IN SPITE of my weaknesses.... This is a revelation.  And there are people who will see yours that way, too.

I can choose to make the positive interactions more powerful than the negative.  And more frequent.  I can give them more value and more of my time.  I don't need to chase the stick when I have a bushel of carrots sitting right in front of me.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Longest Hardest Time

I think I'll name my book that.

The book about raising a family after you start to let them go.

I think I've entered one of the hardest times of my life.

Which is both ironic, and not lost on me, that now that we have less actual hardships (financial, etc)

I feel left with a life that is hard to adjust to, or live through, or maybe to be fulfilled by.

Maybe it is just my midlife reckoning.

Which considering I may very well live into my 100s, feels exhausting to think about, as it may continue on for a good 20 years or so...

Maybe it is the 16 years of co-habitating with someone whose ADD meds have worn off by the time he gets home that is wearing me down...

Or my perimenopausal metabolism and exhaustion (which not enough people talk about!!!!) that leave me in a shame spiral of depression and disappointment.

Or maybe it is the spike in my chronic migraines (see perimenopause, above) which are worse then ever and truthfully leave me wrecked and feeling suicidal for 3 days every other week.... only to wake up on day 4 completely normal like nothing ever happened... relieved that I'm not actually losing my mind.  And, frustratingly, there is no end in sight. (which IS making me lose my mind)

Or that my girls are older, and I love who they are, but miss the time we had... which is getting less and less...

Or the calendar striped with 100 shades of highlighter which direct me, to the minute, from one location to the next, mostly unfulfilling, but necessary, and leave me feeling stressed and over-scheduled and like I am squandering all of my personal time and energy promoting opportunities for everyone but myself.

This is real.

And I know there are countless others living it.

And we all smile and say "I'm fine.  How are you?  Sure, I'll be room parent next year.  Yes, I can bring in two pies tomorrow.  You need a ride home, absolutely.  Help making costumes, yes, I can sew..."

I have chosen a path because it is important for me to be available.  It is important for me, to be able to do what I can for the community that supports my kids.  But the reality of older kids and those needs is very, very, different than with little kids.  You are more in service to their needs and less in service with them.  It is a different commitment and sacrifice, and the rewards are not felt immediately... or maybe at all.

And it is a loss.

And so, yes, this is a period of grieving for me.  And a period of struggle to determine what is important to me and my family.  To assess and prioritize our needs and our desires, and discover which path will accommodate as much of those as possible.... without me feeling wasted in their pursuits (mentally, physically, and emotionally).

Because this path is clearly no longer working.

And that is the truth.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Dear Ones

Here I am sitting home with a sick child... AGAIN. Not that I mind the company, but I think we've had nary a full week of school, for one reason or another, since October. And it just makes it very hard to get in a good productive routine, in any department.


This seems like a perfect time to endorse my favorite shows:

The Great British Bake-Off !!!!! Spectacular. WEll, at least to a home baker like myself. American TV just cannot match the quality & humor of this series. You know?? You can find it on PBS.org

Broadchurch Holy shit, this is good. I mean, the kind of good that you grieve for a bit when it is over. The 1st season is available on Netflix. Be prepared to binge watch this. And be forewarned that this is intense and depressing, but in a most well execute fashion. The acting in this series is top notch. The characters are deeply flawed. You will love it.

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries- You guys!!!! Did you ever listen to me the last time I recommened this?! It is so charming. One of my favorite shows to workout to. Fast paced, entertaining. Really enjoyable. I cannot wait for the 3rd season. Available on Netflix.

On other fronts: We went to Disney World. And we loved it.
The girls, ages 12 & 8, were maybe the best ages yet. I mean, we were in the parks, riding ALL the rides, for a good 12 hours a day. Disney continues to be a great vacation for our family... where we are together, engaged, and active. The very very poor wifi-signal also meant very little phone/screen use, and for that I am grateful. Maybe they do that on purpose?... 

After a week enjoying ourselves, lest you think it is all fun and games over here,  I came back to HELL...

Um, yes, those would be live lice.  WTF??!?  Worst outbreak in history at Baby's school.  I went through her hair for 8 straight hours one day.  I was picking nits out like it was a full time job (literally)  So, let me save you a lot of trouble... if you have daughters with long dark blond hair... order the Terminator from Amazon RIGHT NOW.  It is, hands down, the most effective tool.  For $10, it is absolutely worth just having on hand.  No chemicals necessary.

I'm not sure when we'll go back to Disney again, I think Europe is in our traveling future, now that the girls are capable. I'm currently trying to plan out a Spring Break trip for the me and the girls... at this point, after spending their future inheritance at WDW, Paris is off the table, much to Baby's Francophile chagrin.

And speaking of Baby, check out her new haircut:
She feels like a "successful business woman!!"

If only I had cut her hair before the lice... would have made my life a bit easier!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

We Laugh, We Cry

Laughably, I found myself feeling relieved that it was 3 degrees outside.
I guess I'm acclimating to the arctic winters. Also, wind is EVERYTHING. Or lack of wind, I should say. It makes all of the difference.

 Plus, another frigid winter means Baby is actually getting use out of the badass snowsuit I bought her last year:

My 3rd Up by Jawbone band died in a year and my warranty was up, so I switched to the Fitbit Flex. I do find having a fitness band helps me stay motivated (immensely)... although I will say I find the Fitbit much less user friendly. Kind of disappointed, but I just can't condone sinking more money into as flawed a devise (battery-wise) as the Up band.

 I just booked a mid-winter trip to Disney! I think it has been 3 or 4 years (??!) since we were there. Yowza it is much ore expensive... both because it is, because we can't travel during a discounted time, and because Kid is now full price and I cannot (even with our mad acting skills) try to pull of Baby being under 3 and therefore free. So, this will likely be our last trip for quite a few years. We are maxing it out though, staying onsite, doing the meal plan (character meals every single day, baby!), and after much debate... flying. I think I said last time that driving there and back was a Hell I never wanted to go through again (in part because Kid had food poisoning and puked the entire drive home... and in part because two very long days of driving after a vacation kind of negates any relaxation you might have had on your vacation).

 I wish I had a picture of Kid for you (why don't I take any photos anymore?!... Oh, I know, because my iPhone4s has been ruined by iOS8... why did I update?!?!?) Maybe I'll try to post a picture for you, later. She is really good looking. I mean, she had a rough patch (toddlerhood and your strange old man's hair... I'm talking to you), but holy shit she has really grown into herself. She lucked into some rogue supermodel genes. And she is only 12 and completely through puberty... so no awkward teen years. What the heck? And her teeth are naturally nearly perfectly straight... didn't inherited either of our jack-o-lantern mouths. She is like a genetic marvel. I don't know how it happened.

 It almost makes up for the fact that I was inadvertently feeding her a neurotoxin for 4 (formative!!) fucking years and it possibly was the cause of her epilepsy. I kind of want to throw myself off of a bridge. It is done and there is no going back and redoing it. I am compensating with humor. Anytime something is going wrong for Kid, I yell out "Miralax!", as it will now hold the blame for anything that goes wrong (FOREVER). And we laugh instead of cry. Because there is nothing we can do now, and no one to sue (yet).  We had the best doctors and, at the time, they believed it was as safe as water. Seriously (and unfortunately). I am SO glad I spent so much time and energy avoiding BPA! WTF??! But just know, that if I dwell too much on it, I might have a significant mental breakdown.

 Please, let's not have this be a carcinogen we have to pay the price for down the road. PLEASE.

I might start to cry so let's move on...

 In other FANTASTIC news, a goddamn registered sex offender has moved in across the street. He assaulted a child, so good news... I now cannot ever let my kids outside. Awesome. And our neighbor saw him standing fully fucking nude in front of his glass storm door looking out at our side of the street (which is how we all learned he was a sex offender). Our neighbor talked to the police, but there is nothing we can do but wait and WATCH. He was convicted 2 months ago but has not served his prison term yet... why is he not in a county jail or something while he awaits sentencing?? Why are they not sentenced at their trial??? This seems absolutely insane that he would free to live in the community before he gets locked up for 15 years.

 So, yes, DISNEY. Let's just focus on that.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Things Of Little Or No Importance: Part 155


#1  Lindalou, I am sorry you have had to wait so long for a new post.

#2  Video of little to no importance:

#3  I am now hooked on Gilmore Girls and attempting to hook my girls on it.

#4  Kid is popular with the boys.  One of them gave her a Duggar side hug!  What is next?  A ring??!  God, I wish her school had middle school dances... it would be the most entertaining thing in the world!

#5  Baby has been writing comic books.  We already knew she was a fantastic artist but her dialog is amazing.  Honestly, people, these are really good books.  And hilarious.  She has asked Santa for a typewriter so she can make "professional" books going forward.  Santa will deliver!

#6  Kid wants nothing for Christmas except to fund a girl in India's schooling.  She is putting up all the money she has ever received.  At school they had to give an oral presentation to the middle school parents about what career they wanted to pursue.  After a hilariously underwhelming slew of choices presented by classmates (bartender, handy man, etc), Kid's was on humanitarian aid workers.  Long story short: she's a pretty great person.  Also, she claims she is never going to drink: soda, caffeine, or alcohol.... so, yeah, watch your backs, Mormons.

#7  Kid and I both had Meningitis in October:

 What the ding dong???!!  It was fucking horrible.  The worst pain I've ever been in, in my life.  
Worse than the broken tail bone!  I was really in despair.  
Good God.... try never to get it.
Happy 12th Birthday, Kid!  You have meningitis!  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

When you live in the most educated city in America

It is really fun to yell out "I have to go to work at the Tire shop!" at school drop off.

It does not get old.


Do you remember the long crazy saga behind Mr F's job?  You know we moved to NC (thought permanently) only to have the economy tank, pay cuts, workload increase, etc?  Then after 2 years he was up for his dream job in MI?  So we went for it... but someone beat him out and they offered Mr F the job of #2 instead.  And because I was so depressed in NC, we took it?  And then immediately we figured out the #1 was a sham.... and so did the #1.... and Mr F was doing 3x the work but stuck in the #2 because the sham #1 was misrepresenting Mr F's work as his own?  Then after 2 years, another magazine moved up here and hired a new art team.  And Mr F got beat out for the #1 AGAIN and offered the #2 AGAIN... but we had to get away from the crazy sham guy so he took it?  And then the Sham guy (who no longer could hide behind Mr F's work) finally got fired, and they wanted Mr F back for the #1 at that magazine... but corporate has a no hiring an employee that has quit policy?  So that was disappointing, especially since by then we had figured out that the guy who got the #1 at the new job was a megalomaniac with a disdain for cars and photography.... which is kind of the job.  And unlike the Sham who knew Mr F was a better designer and just let him do his work... this guy just crapped all over everything Mr F did and it was really depressing for Mr F not to be proud of anything that ever went to press.  WELL, that guy was finally fired (which we really didn't see coming and were actively pursuing other options out of the area) and Mr F is redesigning the magazine.  All of his dreams (career anyway) have come true, and I guess the lesson here is that patience is a virtue after all.  So it has taken us 4 years, but things have finally settled where they should.  And the girls are thrilled that we don't have to move again.  Me?  Eh, I've realized that I kind of relied on the promise of a move to keep me in the unsettled place I find most stimulating.  I'm just not a settled type.  Not sure how to replace that.  Maybe more extensive travels?  For now, I have moved on to looking at local houses...

Did you follow all that?  It has been crazy, stressful, disappointing, depressing and infuriating but ultimately a story of redemption.  There were a lot of times when I felt like people are hired for their big personalities and not their actual qualities (which I do think is sadly true) and wasn't sure how Mr F could break through that barrier.  But perseverance, competency and talent have finally won out.  Which is a sigh of relief for society at large.


First Day of School:

Kid is in 6th grade
(Can you believe it?!?!)

Baby is in 2nd grade

(Sad to report that, so far, Baby hates 2nd grade.  Mostly because now there is actual work to do.)

 The start of school means one thing around here, Big Boy can get back to his favorite past time.... 
harassing Kid while she does her homework.  
He loves it.  

Almost as much as he loves trying to lick the butter dish off of the counter when we aren't home...

(Sadly, he has finally succeeded)
Update!  Kid got the Taylor Swift haircut.  Which unfortunately means that this low maintenance mom has to blow out her daughter's hair EVERY SINGLE MORNING.  Even while her dad was out of town and we had to get up a half an hour early to get to a morning carpool... My love knows no bounds!!!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Because It Is Safe To Say

That I am the first person you think of,

when you think office organization...

I got a temporary job setting up a corporate mandated best practices filing system for a tire shop.

45 minutes in the opposite direction of the girls' schools.

That makes sense.

But, I have always said, if someone offered me a job that was from 10-2, on the days I don't have the kids, I'd take it.

So, I did.

And people, you better believe that is one hell of a filing system.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

You Are Always On My Mind...

You should know that I do indeed think about you all the damn time.  My inability to carve out the theoretical few minutes (actual 2 hours days) to come and update has nothing to do with my lack of interest in updating.  Just laziness.

This summer has been epically lazy, and I'm not even going to pretend otherwise.  It's been delightful.  The girls have spent hours upon hours shut in a bedroom playing Calico Critters (door shut because Kid doesn't want anyone to know she is actually playing, too... but word is out... she totally is).  I haven't gotten anything done, have cooked as little as possible, haven't organized a damn thing.

I read a few books.  Have been keeping my hair short.  And started the DailyBurn (whoa... do it!!!!!! deserves its own review post).

We went to Mackinac Island (loved it).  Mr F's mom came to visit (great). We packed Kid off to camp & Baby to day camp (so-so).  We bought an RV (which turns out to be an investment in the FUTURE of our summer vacations and not so much for this year... boo... still waiting at the body shop for welding).  The kids and I went Up North to the cottage for the annual parade and to hang with family (and first time cherry picking).  Matt went to visit his mom (brought me home an original NordicTrack... what was I thinking?... It is pretty much a leg breaking machine, there are no safety features on that thing at all). We took our hobbled RV on an overnight trip close to home (everything works on the inside at least!). Baby got glasses! My niece came to visit (yay!) and we went back Up North to visit with more family and enjoy a stop at our favorite lunch spot.

And now we have 18 days of summer vacation left!

I intend to continue to avoid cooking & cleaning at all costs (there will be time for that soon enough), doing my DailyBurn (worth it, peeps), and plotting out future RV trips (will they ever happen??!).  I will also fight the urge to make more of this summer than what we are... because... maybe we are totally nailing it.  You know when people count down their kids' summers left at home?... let's never do that (whoever thought of that is a horrible masochistic person).  Let's just take a load off when the opportunity comes and be grateful for it.  You know?  Not need to "take advantage" of everything, max out summer break, use up all of our "spare" time,  etc... just actually relax.  Because, as I always say, it will take just as long to clean up tomorrow as it will today (or next month).  So why do it?

xoxo, Mrs F

Summer Photo Recap:

Kid has grown into herself and has developed a natural elegance with her style and super long limbs.

Baby?  um... yeah... she looks like she just finished a serious Prancercise workout, am I right?!

Baby's new glasses:

Just kidding!


Cherry Picking:

With hands

And mouths

Annual Anchor Day Parade in Empire Michigan:

Shriners in gocarts.  
Also a septic company that tosses out toilet paper rolls (coveted!!)

 First camping trip:
Those captains chairs convert to a bed as does the dinette they are on.
You can see the kitchen on the left, and the bathroom & closet are on the right.

Don't mind Kid's glamourous eye makeup... she had just received a stunning makeover courtesy of Baby.

Here they are trying out their converted front bed.  Um... that looks comfortable, right???!
 Kid loves the camping lifestyle!!  To make matters worse, she forgot her book. Good thing for her we really aren't camping people, we are road trip people... the camper is a means to get places (eventually).

Them there are Fudge Stripe S'mores.
We are never ever ever going back to graham crackers and Hershey bars.  EVER.

Enjoy your summer, peeps!
 As I say to Mr F, every single day (albeit often sarcastically), 
"Enjoy your lifestyle!"...

 because you really can always clean in the Fall (if you must).


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Have You Read This?

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Phillip Sendker

Read it.  It's good.  Beautifully written.

(although I will say it took me a couple of pages to get into it... but once you are... whoa... that is a a good book)






Monday, July 14, 2014

Ladies and Gents

The RV still sits in our driveway.  There were a few issues (some we knew for sure and some we have had the pleasure of discovering) that need to get hammered out before she is road worthy.  She's been to the mechanic and now is waiting on the RV coach shop to get some of those things taken care of. We still got a huge deal on her, and have absolutely no regrets.  How can I regret something I had to buy tiny collapsible colander for??! I can't, people.  Sometimes Mr F and I just sit in the RV dinette in the driveway, look out the big back window and feel 100% amazing.  Seriously.

So, our maiden voyage still awaits.  I had hoped to take the kids to see all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead sites, but as this fixin' up process drags on I think I'll have to postpone that until early next summer.  Also, I decided it was maybe a little crazy to take a 14 day journey in a 17 year old RV alone with no backup for my very FIRST trip out.  So, maybe we'll hit Philly to see my Nana and then scoot about Michigan this first summer. Make sure I know how to use all of the things and have complete road & campsite confidence before I strand us out in the Great Plains.  (But I'm also a little worried about Tornadoes, so I need to plan that trip kind of wisely!!)

Backing up some, right after the RV purchase, Kid shipped out to her first ever sleep away camp experience.  She went for a week to a horse riding camp.  It was... ok.  We'll see how she feels as she reflects on it more.  It wasn't the sleep away aspect, that was the issue, but the going without any friends... and while everyone was nice, everyone also had a friend they brought or knew from past years.  So, mad props for her even considering it... because... Hell to the No... would I sign up for a weird conference where I had to share a bunk bed with a stranger and attended sessions all week long with absolutely no acquaintance to rely on.  Hell to the No.  To the NO.  But this was a good thing in terms of us figuring out where she is at.  Kudos for having the courage to do it!  Kudos for getting through it and finding parts to enjoy.  And, now we feel pretty confident that she should stay at her current school for middle school.  She is doing so well socially and is confident in herself... and... for her, that doesn't transition to every setting (yet).  Let's keep her where she is her best self.

Unfortunately, on the drive home she complained of a sore throat.  And literally the whole entire week after arriving home she was one of the sickest she has ever been (and knowing Kid's medical history that is saying something).  She even ended up in the ER with a 103.9 fever that I couldn't break.  After several days of that, she ended up with both viral pink eye at the tail end of the virus and an ear infection.  So, last week was rough and I pretty much was sleeping dozing off next to her bed with a thermometer in my hand every night.  This week:  we rest!  I kicked that off by staying up until 3AM binge watching all of the Bachelorette episodes on Hulu.  (why do I do it to myself??!)

Other things:  Baby is really into makeovers these days.  We all let her do us over.  I need to get a cosmetology mannequin head and save my eyes!!!  I also need to get her one of those big make up palettes for Christmas.  She would LOVE it.

Speaking of eyes, after YEARS (a lifetime, really) of believing I had better than perfect vision... I have gone from needing reading glasses to progressive lenses in 2 years. (I blame the iPhone, people!!).  That and perimenopause (I actually am sure there is a correlation).  Also, Baby needs glasses now, too.  Farsighted (like me).  Which got me thinking, until 2 years ago I had never had my eyes checked by an eye doctor.  I had done (and passed with flying colors) the doctors office wall charts and never been referred.  Well, you know what?  Wall charts are bogus!  That only tells you if you are nearsighted. If I could read the bottom row on the eye chart, maybe the diagnosis wasn't "x-ray eyes" it was farsighted.  WTF??  Maybe this is why I hated learning to read?? Why is that allowed to be a definitive test on 20/20 vision?  My whole life I have been farsighted and never knew it, until using my iPhone made me realize my eyes were staining when I was reading it.  Something to think about.  Get your eyes checked, peeps!

The other day, I also went in for my physical.  I don't really have any issues but the nurse asked what my concerns were so I said "I'm pretty sure I'm in perimenopause" and so she asked me a 100 question questionnaire to which I answered 100 yeses.  Then my doctor came in laughing hysterically and said "Do I look like I swim 5 miles a day?!  No one would believe it, but I do!  Welcome to the club!"  She then spent 40 minutes telling me about her perimenopause (please, I am not even exaggerating.. it is like birth stories all over again!!).  Awesome, doc, thanks for that.  So, yeah, because I have a family history of breast cancer there is nothing I can do but just live through it.  Which is fine.  My migraines have actually started to get a little less frequent, so there is hope.  My body fat% however is just not budging. I am literally converting to fat every single day (really, that struggle is real, so don't underestimate it my friends).  Oh well, once I hit menopause I'm good.  Only 2-10 years left to go!

What else?  Oh, Mr F's mother came and visited us for 5 days in June.  And it went perfectly.  It was perfectly fine.  Which is a very interesting thing to contemplate regarding all that went done 6 years ago.  We had a strong feeling this would happen after his father passed away.  We had talked about that a lot over the years, but had no idea it would happen so soon.  It is like a big barrier has been removed between Matt and his family.  He actually calls his mom frequently, now.  He's even seen her just about once a month for the last few months.  When before (even long before the strain) it wasn't like that.  He really avoided any contact, even phone calls.  I'd have to pretty much dial the phone and put it in his hand. The family is complicated and his father's relationship with his other children was very different.  It is hard for them to understand that, although I do not think it is hard for his mother to understand (it just isn't ever going to be spoken about).  But, long story short, this time has been a good thing for Mr F and his relationship with his mother. And for our kids, who have a grandparent back.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Most Important of Updates


It is the moment we've all been waiting for.  And it ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

Basically, I was researching RVs (like always) and stumbled on the perfect model (Winnebago Rialta QD)  This is a 21 ft motorhome built on a Volkswagon Eurovan Chassis but with a larger Winnebago coach.  There are 3 model layouts for this RV, 2 sleep only 2, and the QD sleeps 4.  The QD is the holy grail of small family RVs and I found not one, but two, within an hour of here... and then stayed up until 3AM trying to get Mr F to admit this was THE PERFECT RV.  And he did.

And then I got up and was making coffee and said to myself:

"This is not something you are getting over, you ALWAYS want an RV, this is the perfect time to do it."

And so we did.

#1 They only made these RVs for a few years, and because of their size (making them parkable in a regular parking spot & easier for covert camping) and excellent gas milage (18 MPG!!!) they are extremely desirable.  As in, they have a cult following similar to an Airstream trailer.  Which translates into an amazing resale value.  Basically any good quality model from 1995-2004 will be worth between 20-40K.  So this RV is a 1997 and it is still worth between 20-30K... BUT we got it for 10K.  It needs a few very small repairs (deep cell batteries replaced, an exhaust leak) but it is in excellent physical condition.  We saw a 2001 the night before, and thank God we did, because then we knew how extraordinarily clean and well maintained this one was (for less $$ mind you!).  Even if we only use it for a couple of years we will actually make a profit on owning this RV.

#2  We only own one car, my 11 year old minivan.  Welcome to our 2nd car.  There are times when we have needed a 2nd car and, honestly, this is the coolest multifunction 10K car around.  Bonus, I could drive the kids home from school in this baby and they could do their homework at THE TABLE!!!  I have been fantasizing about just that scenario for the past 2 years.  That would be hilariously awesome.  They could eat breakfast in the RV on the way to school.  Hell, they could SHOWER.  I could make dinner in the RV while we wait for Kid to get out of basketball practice.  People!!  The crazy possibilities are endless.  Next thing you know, we'll be THESE PEOPLE.

#3  When I was growing up, my grandparents had a Transvan.  That was a very similar sized small motorhome on a Ford, Dodge, or Chevy chassis.  For me, that is what an RV was.  I have always revered the Transvan as the perfect RV and basically the Rialta is the modern version.  It has all the components of a larger RV just scaled down in a smaller coach.  I know that it will fit us and serve our needs and that I, as a 5'3 woman, can drive it and park it and do all the RV things necessary on my own.  Because, let's face it, in all of my RV dreams... Mr F is not with me!  Which is good, because he really doesn't get the time off we will need to go to all of the places.

#4  My kids are now 7 & 11.  Small enough to actually sleep together on that not quite a full bed captain chair conversion bed.  Small enough not to eat so much food that we can't store it in an airplane sized overhead compartment.  Small enough not to have too much input on what we are doing for the summer.  Big enough to enjoy road trips (which we already do... so no worries on that front), big enough to follow and obey all rules of critical importance.  Big enough to empty the black water.... ha... I wish.  Basically, I know that we can get 4-5 years of solid summer use out of this RV.

#5 Places to go:
The Laura Ingall's site tour.  I MUST DO THIS SOON.
Oh, Canada!  I want to drive across Canada.
(see those are already two totally awesome trips that Mr F won't be able to do because of length)
The usual suspects:
Grand Canyon
Coastal Maine
Can I drive it to the Florida Keys?
All of the places, people, all of them!

I'm definitely going to need this for more than 5 years.

Why won't my kids agree to homeschool so we can live in it full time!?!
(but not with Mr F or we'd be divorced)

A video tour of our same model (newer but they are actually all identical):

Okay, so right now we had to park it in my mom's driveway while we got it registered and insured (she was close to the seller).  But also because this was a fairly spontaneous purchase (we thought we were just checking it out) and Mr F was running late for work and having a mini-nervous breakdown.  We're picking it up this weekend and then the fun shall begin.  Hopefully we'll have it on the road for a real trip by the end of July.  

More to come!  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Photo Recap...

Wow, I don't know why I can't blog anymore... but... clearly I can't.

So, the last month and a half has been full on CRAZY TOWN.

It started with Kid's Science Camp...

(did I mention that?  Me, the only female chaperone for 12 girls??  Yet, 5 men for 8 boys??  WTH?  Anyway, I did it.  Outside of the sleep deprivation I thrived.  Seriously, I was like... "I should be a professional camp counselor... this is my calling!", but don't tell anyone... I'm still trying to milk the situation for sympathy from the other parents at school.)

 (Fire building)
 (Lean-to making)
(high ropes course)
The trip was great.... and... because of that, we've decided to keep her in this school for middle school.

Then it was like...

Mother's Day:

 (breakfast in bed)
 (Baby made me these little tarts)
 (and she was pleased)
 (they didn't get me another statuette from Hallmark!!!  Rejoice!)

Mr F's Birthday:


Our Trip to Holland, MI:

 (what can I say??  Yes, this place exists.)

Baby's Spring Concert:
(back row, bangs, next to white bonnet)

Kid's Spring Concert:

(front row: she plays the flute in the Beginning Band)

(choir: back row last on left)

Our Trip to Chicago:

 (Baby's on a mission)
(after the harshest winter on record, we finally got her out here to spend her birthday gift cards!)
 (Um, please look to their right... )
(Chicago is such a beautiful city)
 (The Container Store!!  Cue angles singing)
(right after this picture, I told her he was still alive.... hahaha... that was awesome)
(Sue the T Rex @ The Field Museum)

Baby's Field Day:

 (wheelbarrowing... fyi, she HATED it)
(Mr F helping for a tug-of-war win)

Kid's Field Day: (oh, that's right, I didn't go... I can't be everywhere at once!)

Kid's Award Ceremony:
(competitive reading for the WIN!  She took 2nd place, behind an 8th grader.)

Ice Cream Social: (uh... I might have forgotten to document this...)

Kid's Last Day of School:
(If only she had friends and could function in society...)
(as you can see they are keeping their feelings for each other a secret...)

My Birthday:

Baby's Dance Rehearsal:

Baby's Dance Recital:

 (The only person she really wanted there was my step brother's girlfriend... she came!)
(Put a ring on it, Jason!!)

Baby's Last Day of School:

 (It took the whole year for her to work up the courage to climb up this structure!)
(Baby and her teacher... P.S. it was a dress up reward day)

Our Trip to Mackinac Island:

 (Ferry trip over)
 (Baby getting our trip off on the right foot by being strangely uncooperative...)
 (I'd like to report that we received a room discount for this view... alas... that is not the case)
 (I guess I'd live there...)
 (Hiking with Kid)
 (Baby peeking in the ballroom)
 (Sleeping beauties... at least the inside of our room was just as fancy as we had promised)
 (Lilac Festival Parade)
 (the parade continues)

(Best part of the trip was the evening kid's club, which allowed us two built in date nights!)

And now Summer Vacation has officially begun!

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