Vacation! Part 1

I’ll have to break this up into a couple of posts. Here’s the first installment!

For the first time ever the girls and I were able to take a really real vacation. Usually our vacation time consists of trips to Idaho to see family. Don’t get me wrong! That’s totally a vacation because we’re away from home and life is a lot slower there but it’s not a VACATION! type of vacation. Neither of the girls has ever flown so that was a first. MiniMe has never been any farther than Idaho in her whole 14 years. Beauty has been across the country but she was only 9 months old so she doesn’t count that.

This was our “Pack your suitcases girls! We’re going somewhere you’ve never been!” VACATION! For the last couple of years I’ve tried to plan a trip to San Antonio, Texas to visit my “mom friend” Erica again. I went in 2009 for her college graduation but the girls didn’t get to go with me. This year it all came together. I was able to get airline tickets for a very reasonable price and I got a weeks paid vacation so we made it  happen!

 

All packed and ready to go!

All packed and ready to go!

On the night of April 1st we spent the night at my brothers house so they could drive us to the airport at O’dark O’clock. Note to self: Next time, do NOT book a flight that leaves at 6 a.m. when you live almost 2 hours from the airport. We got up at 1:00 (I think I slept about 45 minutes) so we could leave by 2:00 to get us there by 4:00 for boarding at 6:05. I’m tired just thinking about that morning!

We're really tired

We’re really tired

 

 

 

When we got to the airport we went right to baggage check and got our suitcases checked for the flight and headed for security. Unfortunately Beauty forgot to put the brand new tube of toothpaste in her checked bag so when we went through security…

 

 

 

I was wrong!

I was wrong!

I was expecting Beauty to be inwardly freaking out about flying but she would play it off all calm and cool. MiniMe was the one I was expecting to freak out all over the place.

Obviously I can’t read my children as well as I thought. Beauty was a hot mess and asking for anxiety medicine and MiniMe was cool as a cucumber. I was totally impressed!

 

 

 

Beauty got some pretty pictures from the air.

Beauty got some pretty pictures from the air.

Sunrise above the clouds

Sunrise above the clouds

A mountain somewhere between Seattle and Phoenix.

A mountain somewhere between Seattle and Phoenix.

The flight to Phoenix was uneventful and we landed fine. After finding something to eat it was time to board again for Austin. We landed in Austin at 2:45 and Erica picked us up and we headed for San Antonio.

Everything's bigger in Texas!

Everything’s bigger in Texas!

This gas station  has over 100 gas pumps! For all my local peeps, I agree. We need a couple of these around here! <ahem>

On our way to Erica’s house we stopped at Rudy’s for some Texas BBQ! Unfortunately Beauty had problems eating for a large portion of this trip because she had her wisdom teeth pulled 2 weeks before we left. Lucky for her I found a recipe online for Rudy’s style corn. I’m not even ashamed to admit that I’ve made it twice since we’ve been home!

 

 

Our first full day in San Antonio started with the Zoo!

Our first full day in San Antonio started with the Zoo!

 

 

If you know me in real life you are probably aware of how much I love flamingos. Well, this was totally the place for me! They had 3 different areas with my favorite bird!

 

 

 

 

Totally a tourist shot!

Totally a tourist shot!

Apparently we are speed walkers because we made it through the zoo in about 3 hours. We ended up catching the city bus downtown. We saw the Alamo (from across the street) and all these other cool little shops I didn’t see last time I was there. We found Ripley’s and had a good time checking out the gift shop.

 

Yep, we're cool!

Yep, we’re cool!

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Our grand adventure

Our epic adventure started innocently enough.

Months ago I received a Facebook event invitation for a family reunion in August for my mom’s side of the family. My cousins try to do a camping trip every year to the town where my mom and her siblings grew up. I click “Maybe” as my response because life happens and really, I’ve clicked maybe pretty much every year but something always comes up and I’m unable to make it. The last time I went MiniMe was 3. It’s been 10 years.

This has been a whirlwind year for us. With Beauty’s health problems then Mom passing away in May. Huge change in my job which meant full-time hours, a promotion and a pay raise. Yay me! A month after mom passed I put Beauty on a bus.  Mostly because of mom’s passing and my need to see my girl, I decided that I really needed to go the reunion this year. My cousins were there for my siblings and I in our time of crisis and I wanted to be able to spend time with them for a non-sad reason.

I’ve never driven to the area where the reunion would be held by myself so planned my route out and MiniMe made scores of lists of the things we needed to bring. She wanted to pack her bags 3 weeks prior to our departure! Well, 4 days before our departure date there was a mudslide on the highway I was planning to take. This particular highway would put me about an hour from my destination. Plan B: take the other route that would add a couple hours to my trip. Given that they weren’t able to clear a path the way I wanted to go before our we left I decided to go with Plan B.

We had the van loaded with our stuff for a weekend of camping. It was really full. Tents, bedding, bags, food, coolers, everything we would need for 3 days of camping with family. We left town about 10:00 a.m. expecting to arrive at our destination in about 6ish hours.

Or not…

Three hours into our trip, after crossing a mountain pass on which they were blasting so traffic was slow going, we made it to the town of Leavenworth, WA. Please don’t get me wrong. This is a very cool town. But this trip my plan was that it would a “top off the gas tank, grab a quick bite to eat and get back on the road” kind of town.

MiniMe took a couple of cool pictures while I was driving

MiniMe took a couple of cool pictures while I was driving

Going up the mountain pass

Going up the mountain pass

White Water!

White Water!

Unfortunately my vehicle had a different plan. You see, even tho I had checked all the fluids in my van prior to our trip like I’ve always been taught, my van decided to blow through 6 1/2 quarts of transmission fluid going over that mountain pass. It didn’t really want to move from the gas pump.

The gas station of doom!

The gas station of doom!

Our home away from home

Our home away from home

After lots of tears (I cried. I cried a lot!) and phone calls…

We will be rescued!

We will be rescued!

My brother and another family member made a plan. I had called my nephew and he graciously agreed to let me borrow his car so we could make the rest of our trip! Ginormously HUGE thank you to Timber and Georgia! We love you guys so much!!! The only problem was that we needed to wait. We had to wait for my nephew to get home from work with said car so my brother could go load it on the car trailer to bring to me. We also had the 3 hours of driving time it would take them to get to us. I’ve never spent any time in this little town we were in and it was a Friday evening so my brother suggested we go check it out. Luckily we were only a block from all the very cool little shops and the park.

We found cool stuff like this

We found cool stuff like this

And this! It's purple!!!

And this! It’s purple!!!

It was also VERY HOT!!!  We weren’t really prepared to be walking around town in 97 degree weather! o.O

We found a very cool hat shop

We found a very cool hat shop

I liked this one best! We even found flamingo sunglasses!

I liked this one best! We even found flamingo sunglasses!

We found a t-shirt shop that had this in the window

So true!

So true!

After waiting…and waiting…and waiting…

The cavalry arrived!!!

Do you see how little that car is? I drive a minivan. Remember me telling you that we were going camping for 3 days and had it totally packed? Would you believe that we fit everything in this little car??? Well, my brother didn’t think we would either but we did! So after unloading the car from the trailer, moving all the stuff from my van to the car then loading the van on the trailer, we were ready to go again! I still had another 3 plus hours to drive. MiniMe ended up falling asleep and totally slept through me singing to keep myself awake for the last hour. We got into the little town where my mom grew up and I had to make an executive decision to turn either right or turn left. (My phone was dead, no working cigarette lighters in the borrowed car so I couldn’t use my GPS) My navigator (MiniMe with the map) was mostly asleep. I turned right. Because I didn’t think it looked right (remember, it’s been 10 years since I’ve been there and THAT time it was daylight!) I pulled over. Turns out I pulled over IN FRONT OF THE BAR! Ok, in my defense, the bar was closed! Anyway, I pull over, turn on the dome light and look at the directions.

Let me set the scene for you a little better.

It’s about 2:15 a.m. I’m pretty much lost. There is absolutely nothing moving in this little town. Not even the trees!!! I’m in a borrowed car that is packed to within an inch of it’s life with our stuff. It’s me and my 13-year-old daughter. All caught up now? Good… lets get back to the story.

As I’m looking at the directions trying to figure out what to do next, a car pulls up behind me. Huh, that’s interesting. Next thing I know…

Of course!

Of course!

All I could do was laugh. Because seriously???

So the cop walks up to my side and the first thing he says is “Ma’am, I have to tell you that you’re being recorded.” OF COURSE I am! I have to tell you, it took every ounce  of self control I have not to ask if it was for Candid Camera! All I could do was laugh. Apparently when I pulled over at 2:00 in the morning in a totally dead town with not another car anywhere in sight I forgot to use my blinker.

So he asks me for my license and registration. Ummm… I hand him my license no problem and begin frantically searching for the registration for a car THAT ISN’T MINE!!! Awesome!

As I’m searching I’m pretty much babbling saying “This is my NEPHEW’S CAR that he’s letting me borrow because mine broke down and we just spent 8 hours  waiting for my brother to bring me my NEPHEW’S CAR that he’s letting me borrow and they brought it to me on the trailer and my van is on it’s way home but my NEPHEW let me borrow his car so I can go to my family reunion and this is my NEPHEW’S CAR. I think I must have mentioned that this was my nephew’s car about 17 times. He apparently thought I was a psycho lunatic because he called for back-up! MiniMe looked out her window and there was another cop on her side of the car!!! Really dude???

Anyway, he let me go with a warning and told me how to get to the resort where Beauty and my niece and the rest of my cousins were waiting.

I just love her!

I just love her!

My aunt who lives there came to the reunion on Saturday afternoon. One of my cousins was talking with her and I hear from across the camp “Hey! You’re famous! You made the news!”

I’m thinking, “Awesome! Which part of my crazy adventure made the news?”

Turns out my aunt was up listening to the scanner and when the cop ran my information she heard it. **sigh**

We ended up having a great time and I got to spend time with my cousins and talk with my mom’s 2 sisters and visit with my remaining uncle.

We had water balloons

We had water balloons

And a bouncy house!

And a bouncy house!

MiniMe, Beauty and Me

MiniMe, Beauty and Me

The coolest dog ever!

The coolest dog ever!

The whole motley crew

The whole motley crew

I think she misses her sissy

I think she misses her sissy

All in all, it was a great time and I’m so glad we went. I’m hoping to be able to go again next year but with a little less adventure getting there.

As my aunt was preparing to leave we were saying our goodbyes and she says to me “Your birthday is on the 28th, right?” I replied, “No, my birthday is in December.” She looked up at me and said “Oh, that’s right! I heard that on the scanner!” **sigh**

Now they call me “The Fugitive”

I miss her

Mom and I 2013

Mom and I 2013

Today marks the 4 month anniversary of my mom passing away. This morning my sister reminded me that this means that for 4 months Mom hasn’t been in any pain. She’s right. It also means it’s been 4 months since I last held her hand and told her I loved her.

Adjusting to this new reality without my mom has been really hard. Mom died on May 16th. On July 17th I put Beauty on a bus to Idaho. I’ve seen her exactly one time since then and that was a month ago at our family reunion. (That epic adventure will be told in a future post) A few weeks ago I met a friend for coffee and we ended up sitting and talking for 4 hours. Before we even got out of the car I made the comment “My mom died and 2 months later, almost to the day, I put my daughter on a bus.” My friend looked at me and just totally got what I was saying. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said “So it feels like you lost your mom AND your daughter.”

She was exactly right.

I know Beauty is safe and doing well and really needs to be where she is right now but I miss her so much. We have always had a very close relationship, something that I’m sure most single parents can understand. The bond we have is something like the bond I had with my mom. My dad died when I was 12 and from then on it was just Mom and I against the world. Well, that’s the way it has pretty much always been with Beauty and I. Us against the world. She has been my rock more times than I care to admit. She was there by my side as I held my mother’s hand and told her I loved her for the last time. She was there when I had to call the doctor because I was having an anxiety attack and thought I was going to die. She was with me when we had a service locally for all of the friends and family that couldn’t make it to the second service. She was with me when we drove all night to get to my sisters for the final service and graveside memorial. She was with me a month ago when I had to tell my mom’s sisters about the last week of my mother’s life. She was right there with me holding my hand and making sure I was okay.

Today is the day that I grieve for my mom and remember the amazing life she had. She made me who I am today and I can only hope that I’ve done half as good a job with my girls.

After Mom died a friend posted something on my Facebook that I struggle to remember every day. She told me to keep my chin up and a smile on my face so my Mama can see my beautiful face as she looks down from Heaven.

I love you Mom and I’ll see you later.

I love you Beauty and I’m so proud of you for the amazing young woman you have become. I’m so glad God made me your mom.

I love this girl!!!

I love this girl!!!

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Find out what it means to me!

No, I’m not channeling Aretha.

Lately I’ve noticed that most many a lot some of today’s youth have no idea what respect actually means. I changed that to “some” because I do happen to know quite a few young people who are very respectful and I don’t want them to think I’m just making a grand assumption that everyone is like this.

Respect isn’t something that you can just demand. In most cases it must be earned.

Respect isn’t something that just happens. I respect a lot of people, even if I don’t agree with their choices.

Lying isn’t a form of respect. Not for yourself or for anyone else. Lying is wrong. Even more so when it hurts those around you. Stealing is right there too. Stealing from a store is illegal and is one of the many reasons we end up paying more and more for the things we need. I don’t care how big the store is or what it is that was taken. It all affects the bottom line and the paying customers have to make up for what you took without paying.

Saying please and thank you are a way of showing respect. They show that you appreciate what was done or given to you.

Not allowing those around you to act mean and ugly to you would be considered self-respect. Each of us deserves someone who genuinely cares and wants to help us succeed in life. Surrounding yourself with people who are always negative and don’t care about others feelings isn’t respecting yourself. It shows the world that you don’t think you’re worthy of anything better. You’re wrong! You are worth so much more!

There are a lot of little ways we can show respect for those around us. Sometimes it’s just smiling at the person you pass on the street. Maybe it’s offering to hold the door for that young mom who looks like she’s so overwhelmed she’s ready to burst into tears at any moment. Maybe it’s seeing the little flowerbed in front of your neighbor’s house is full of weeds and that neighbor is elderly and can’t get out there on their own so you clean it up for them.

Being respectful isn’t difficult. It’s really not rocket science. We teach our children manners when they’re little hoping they will learn to be respectful adults. Somewhere along the line some of these young people have missed something. They seem to have a sense of entitlement that comes off as arrogance and disrespect. They think just because they’ve reached a certain age, people should just automatically respect them. I’m sorry, it doesn’t work that way. If all you’ve done is be a jerk to the people around you, including me, I’m certainly not going to respect you. Being a liar and a thief isn’t going to earn my respect either.

This isn’t necessarily directed at any one person. Just so I’m clear on that. This is happening all over our country. A young man and his brother set off bombs that killed 3 and seriously injured over 200 people because they wanted respect. (Ok, that’s my own opinion on the situation but I’m sure I’m not alone) How much respect do you think he’s going to get from a jury?

I found this quote and it seems very fitting in today’s society.

“The world is passing through troublesome times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behavior and dress.” Peter the Hermit (A.D. 1274)

Ok, so apparently this was happening in 1274 too. Somehow that doesn’t make me feel any better.

 

I don’t know how to do this

Life has thrown me some big huge curve balls lately and I can honestly say I don’t think I’m handling it very well. That being said, I’m not exactly sure how one is supposed to handle the amount of stress and tragedy I’ve been subjected to in the last few weeks so maybe I’m handling it just exactly right. I have no idea, but I DO know that this part just sucks!

My brother asked me the other day how I was doing. I answered him truthfully. In that very minute I really was ok. A couple of minutes later I was crying.

I miss my mom. A couple of days ago I posted that on Facebook. I hadn’t had much sleep the night before and I was super emotional. I ended up crying pretty much all evening. We had a video slideshow that we played at her service and I ended up watching that a couple of times. That just made it worse! I think it’ll be awhile before I can watch it again.

Last week a former co-worker was killed in a motorcycle accident. When I found out about it I had another anxiety attack. It just so happened that I was standing in a local pizza place at the time. Yeah, that was fun. The service for that amazing young woman was yesterday. I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle it but I think I did ok. I was able to breathe my way through an anxiety attack so that’s something anyway. My heart breaks for her twin sister. I know how hard this journey has been for me since losing my mom 25 days ago and I can only imagine that what she’s going through right now is even harder. Please pray for the family as they figure out this new life without their loved one.

I find myself being so afraid that something is going to happen to another person I love that I feel like I’m becoming an emotional wreck. I’m needy in ways I never have been in my entire life. I want to gather everyone I love close and not let them leave my side so I can make sure they’re safe. I know that isn’t reasonable so I keep it to myself most of the time but it’s always there. Is that normal? Again, I have no idea. Maybe it is… maybe everyone who’s been through this feels the same way.

I just know that pretty much every day is a challenge and I just want things to be ok. Mostly I want ME to be ok.

And I don’t know how to do that.

Life in a small town

When I was little my family lived in a little teeny tiny town. I’m not even kidding when I tell you how small it was. The entire town is 4 blocks long and 6 blocks wide. We didn’t have all of the gadgets kids do today. Nobody had cable TV. We had 3 or 4 channels that we got with rabbit ears and they were all a little fuzzy. It didn’t matter much because the only time we really wanted to watch TV was early on Saturday mornings to catch our favorite cartoons. Well, I watched Captain Kangaroo in the mornings before school until they cancelled him and put The Great Space Coaster on in his place. I really hated that show. In the summer we were outside shortly after waking up and didn’t come home until it was time to eat. There is a little pond just outside of town that when I got a little older my parents would let me ride my bike to go swimming. What freedom that was! We would wave to the log truck drivers as they went through town and they would always honk at us making us laugh like crazy people. It never got old. When I was really little, my parents owned one of the 2 restaurants in town. Half of the building was a restaurant and the other half was a bar. I don’t remember much about when my parents owned it but I remember when my cousins bought it and my cousin Andy and I used to get quarters from them and swing dance on the stage. Not sure if there’s video anywhere (this was the 70’s after all) but I remember we were really good and did an awesome jitterbug! And for the record, I’m positive we danced JUST like that! Hahahahaha

It was a very sad day when the building burned down. They eventually re-built it (my daddy even helped!) but it just wasn’t the same. The new building has changed hands a few times, it’s still half restaurant and half bar. When we go visit we always stop and get a burger there. Even though it’s been owned by different people over the years they have kept one thing on the menu. The DJ burger! This was something my parents made up and named (each of their initials) when they owned the restaurant in the 70’s and the last time I was there, it was still on the menu 40 years later! It’s awesome. There’s just nothing like getting a burger at a small town joint. Trust me, if you ever get the chance to find one of those hole in the wall places, you totally won’t regret it.

Right before my 7th birthday (I’m a December baby) my friend Tina and I decided to go sledding on the hill by the school. They had put in a sidewalk and it was perfect for sledding. I had a plastic toboggan and she had a fancy sled with metal runners. I’d never used one of those before so when she offered to let me try it I was a little nervous but mostly excited. She made it look easy! Well, it totally wasn’t! I’m pretty sure I broke the speed of sound going down that hill and I had no idea how to turn or stop or anything. Yeah, I could have just rolled off or something but I didn’t think of that. All I could think was that I was going way fast and headed for the highway. I did the only thing I could think of to stop myself…ran into the telephone pole face first. 😦 I hit the pole, fell off the sled, and layed there. Lucky for me one of my brothers friends saw me and came and helped me up and to my house across the street. I was bloody and crying. I’m positive he was horrified! I’m friends with him on Facebook now, I wonder if he remembers?

We had an awesome sledding hill right in front of our house (NOT the sidewalk with the telephone pole at the bottom!). I remember one year we had a HUGE sledding party and I’m sure pretty much everyone in town under the age of 30 was there. Trudging back up the hill kinda sucked but man, it was so worth it coming down that hill! And the best part was that my house was at the bottom so I could totally go in and warm up and drink hot chocolate before heading back up the hill.

We ALWAYS got lots of snow. The most I remember was about 6 feet when we lived there. More recently (5 or 6 years ago) they had 10 feet that fell! O.O Yeah, where I live now, we get a few inches and the whole town freaks out and pretty much raids the stores. In Podunk? The power goes out (heavy snow takes out power lines) but it’s ok because pretty much everyone has a wood stove for heat and cooking and kerosene lanterns and candles for light. Snow and power outages never meant school cancellations for us. Heck, we usually WANTED to go to school since at least they had a generator so there was real light and all of our friends!

My girls would never survive. And for that matter, now that I’m older and have lived in a much bigger town for the last 30 years, I don’t think I would either. I love to visit and just relax but I’ve found that I really don’t like the snow anymore. I’m ok with it for a day or 2 but then it just needs to be gone. When I went to visit last month they still had snow on the ground. And it snowed when I was there! Yeah, I’m not ok with that. I also appreciate the convinces we have here. Like gas stations and grocery stores.  I like the fact that if I am in the middle of cooking and run out of something, it’s just a quick trip to the store to grab what I need. Not a 3 hour tour. And no, I’m really not kidding.

In retrospect, I’m glad that I grew up in my little Podunk town. There was a sense of community that you just don’t see these days. As kids, we didn’t really do stupid stuff because even if our own parents didn’t see it happen, likely someone else did and would call mom and dad before we could even get home. There was a real sense of innocence that has been lost in today’s youth. With the technology available to even the youngest of our children, it’s no wonder that some of these kids make the choices they do. I’m not saying that all technology is bad, I have a droid phone myself that is totally my lifeline. I just think that our youth today have been desensitized to violence, profanity, nudity and drug use. Now, even my little tiny town has cable and the internet and there really aren’t any kids left.

I’m a grown-up?

My last post was wondering where the pause button for life is at. Well, I still haven’t found it and life has gotten even more crazy. A quick re-cap of the last month or so:

  • Like I mentioned in my last post, my co-worker “retired suddenly” and I stepped up offered to help with whatever I could. Ok, let me explain something here. I have a college degree. (Yay me!) That college degree was focused more in the medical office field. The office I work in now? I work for a lawyer whose primary practice is estate planning.  Absolutely NOTHING to do with medical of any kind! I pretty much said to my boss, “Look, I have no clue what I’m doing but if you want to teach me, I’m willing to learn. Just please be patient with me.” My boss isn’t really known for her patience and the learning curve has been incredibly steep but I think I’m doing ok. If the last bonus I got is any indication then I’m doing pretty darn great actually! And I’m now full-time which is always a plus!
  • In the last couple of weeks I have apparently become the legal assistant rather than just the receptionist (not that there’s anything wrong with that job!). The other day my co-worker addressed me as my bosses assistant to a client and I kind of freaked out (not in front of the client of course!). It was the first time I’ve heard her refer to me as that and it just hit me that this is a seriously grown-up job…AND SHE WAS TALKING ABOUT ME! Ok, deep breaths… I can do this!
  • Because of the type of work I am now doing I am thinking about the future and putting some things in place so if anything was to happen to me, my kids will be taken care of. Another seriously grown-up thing!
  • Beauty is no longer living with me. She has made some difficult choices recently and while I don’t agree with most of them, she is 19 and is learning to be responsible for herself. I just pray that she makes it through this and will someday have good advice to give to her children.
  • MiniMe is adjusting to not having her big sister at home. Most days it’s hard but we’re finding our new normal.

All in all, the first few months of 40 have been incredibly busy but mostly satisfying and I think I’m okay with it.

My cross country trip

When Beauty was 9 months old we made a trip to see her spermdonor father in Delaware. I live on the west coast. Pretty much as far west as you can go and not be in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Are you aware of where exactly Delaware is located? Clear across the freaking country!!! 3000 miles across the country actually! I made the trip once before on the train with my ex and the in-laws. The train was actually pretty cool. The in-laws had a sleeper car and they slept during the day so the ex and I slept at night. It worked out perfect! We could get up and walk around which made 3 days go a heck of a lot faster than one would think. The one scary thing about that trip was when we got to Chicago and the ex and I decided to go outside to get some fresh air (isn’t that a myth in Chicago?) and were approached by a man in a trench coat with his hands in his pockets. I was so scared all I could do was hang on to the ex for dear life and hope my in-laws would be able to identify the body. Turns out he wanted to sell us some cheap jewelery. o.O

Anyway, my second time making that same trip was on the Greyhound Bus with a 9-month-old who was teething and learning to crawl. 4 days, 3 nights. On a bus. With a baby. By myself. In August. I’m from Podunk, Nowhereville and I was 21. Getting the picture here? My luggage consisted of Beauty, a diaper bag full of clothes, formula, food, diapers and wipes. I also had another bag full of more diapers, clothes and wipes, a small insulated bag with ice packs cold water to make her bottles since she would only drink them if they were really really cold, a big suitcase with the rest of our clothes and more diapers and formula, a stroller and a heavy leather jacket. Yes, I brought a heavy leather jacket with me on a cross-country trip to the east coast where I’m pretty sure the temp never dropped below 100.  Don’t judge!

So we made it there ok, a little wilted and a lot tired of sitting but we made it. We spent 10 days in Delaware mostly hanging out in the air-conditioned house. The first time I was there it was winter. I think it was the worst winter New York had seen in something like 30 years. My second trip was obviously nothing like that. We did take the stroller to the park one day but after about 20 minutes thought we were going to die of heat stroke so went back to the in-laws. I did get to see lightning bugs for the first and only time in my life! That was pretty cool! The night before we left I didn’t get any sleep because Beauty wasn’t feeling good and I was trying to make sure I got all of our stuff packed and we had to be at the bus station at 4:00 in the morning. Yep, that’s right. I prepared for a 4-day/3-night bus ride across country by staying up for 24 hours. Brilliant, I know. We made it to the bus station at oh-dark o’clock and loaded the bus for our adventure home.

First stop…NYC! I had never been to New York before. I was hoping to be able to see something recognizable like the Statue of Liberty or something. Well, we may have been in the area where I could have seen Lady Liberty…if I had been awake! Beauty woke me up just as we started to pull into the bus station. We got into the terminal and tried to find a place to wait for our next bus… for 7 hours! Yes, you read that right. We had to be at the bus station in the middle of the night to catch a bus to take us to NYC so we could wait for 7 freaking hours at one of the scariest places I’ve ever been in my entire life. I was a smoker and wanted to go outside. I had to go up 3 flights of stairs to get outside. One of the very nice security people talked to the ticket agent people and let me leave my stuff with them so I wouldn’t have to carry it all up and down the stairs. So we made it up the stairs and outside. I don’t know even know what part of town the Greyhound station is in but to this 21 year-old mom from Podunk, Nowhereville it was truly frightening. XXX shops and stripper bars everywhere. There was a homeless man (I’m guessing here) that kept walking back and forth in front of the doors, stopping at each end to check the garbage cans for treasures, yelling at the top of his lungs “THE WORLD…IS GOING TO END…TOMORROW!!!” The security guy that was working at the street level was also amazing in that he came over and took one look at me and said “Honey, you’re not from around here, are you?” I said in a teeny squeaky voice “no”. He radioed for another security officer to come up get me and he also talked to the ticket agents and informed them that I was NOT going to be going upstairs again and that if I promised to stand right by the door where the buses pull in I could stand there and smoke.

After what felt like forever we finally were able to get on the bus and head for home. I don’t remember our exact route (it’s been almost 20 years, give me a break!) but I remember that I met some pretty amazing people on that bus ride home. This was in the days before cell phones so it’s not like I could keep in contact with anyone or play video games or something. All the smokers congregated to the back of the bus. Because I had the baby I was able to sit all the way in the back by the bathroom for most of the trip. You know, the one where there are 3 seats? Yeah, it was next to the bathroom which sucked and it was right on top of the engine which sucked even more but at least I didn’t have to hold the baby the whole time. We had one bus driver that just so happened to be a smoker too. There weren’t very many people on the bus and most of us smoked so he would call over the intercom “Hey! You guys in the back! Is it getting a little bumpy back there? See, they have to log every stop so he was logging the extra stops at rest areas as “tire checks”. That was also the bus that the air-conditioning broke. That SUCKED a really lot! Going through the mid-west, in late August, on a bus, with no air conditioning    o.O  The driver was nice enough to open the escape hatch on the roof so we could at least have some air but it was like sitting in front of a furnace blowing hot air at you. Not really helpful. Our next big stop we were able to transfer to a different but with working A/C which made things 1000% better.

Most of us riding through the midwest were headed for somewhere on the west coast so we ended up together for a long time. We kind of became like a little family. I remember one lady that was probably in her late 60’s/early 70’s that just fell in love with Beauty. If Beauty was sleeping during one of the “tire check” stops she would go sit with her so I could go outside. Of course I always stayed right by the bus door but it was really nice to be able to step away for a minute. There was also a very cool black lady that almost killed a man because he tried to sit on the Baby Beauty! We made a stop in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere and this drunk guy got on and he came all the way to the back of the bus thinking he would just sit back there. We had tied a trash bag to the bathroom door and it had some cans in it and he bumped the bag when he was trying to sit on Beauty and it woke everyone up. The lady (I’ll call her J, mostly because I don’t remember her name!) woke up screaming at Big Drunk Guy and getting all up in his business! BDG ended up going into the bathroom and lighting up a joint. Needless to say, he didn’t last long. He was kicked off the bus at the next stop. If you’re reading this BDG… Sorry dude, hope you were able to find a ride at 2 in the morning from a closed up station in the middle of nowhere!

I think the worst was when they would stop at some scary station at 3 in the morning and make everyone get off the bus so they could clean it. Do you people know what it’s like to wake up a 9-month-old at 3 in the morning and take her into a brightly lit new place and expect her to go back to sleep??? Not gonna happen! We did finally make it home safely and lived to tell the story. Beauty likes to tell people she’s been to NYC. She just leaves out the part that she was a baby…

 

 

Starting Over

Someone recently asked me “Are you happy?”. That question made me stop and think. In the last year:

  • I turned 40
  • I lost my home
  • Lost my job
  • Found a new home and a new job that I love
  • Said goodbye to some people
  • Reconnected with some old friends
  • Purchased a different vehicle
  • Started a new blog
  • Felt heartache and loss
  • Discovered joy in things I hadn’t thought about before
  • Discovered Pinterest and learned  how to make my own yogurt
  • Learned that sometimes people aren’t what they seem

Am I happy? Well, I’m not unhappy so that’s something, right?

When I was a little girl, like pretty much every little girl since the beginning of time, I dreamed what my life would be like when I grew up. I pictured myself married with 2 or 3 kids, raising my family in the house with a big yard surrounded by a white picket fence. That’s about where my fantasy ended. I never thought beyond that. I’m pretty sure most little girls back then didn’t. Then my life got turned upside down. My parents told me we were moving to a different state. My 9 year-old self was devastated. We all survived the move and I survived starting a new school that had more kids in 3 classrooms than there were in the entire school in my hometown. It wasn’t an easy transition but it was a fresh start and we made it work.

Then my world got turned upside down again. Two months before my 13th birthday my dad died. Talk about devastation! I was a daddy’s girl and pretty much my whole life revolved around him. I once again had to figure out how to start over and get through life without the most important man in my life. My mom did the best she could and I will always be grateful to her for trying to make sure our lives went on. I’ve been a single mom for 19 years now and I now have a small idea how hard that must have been for her.

When I was 19  met the guy I thought was “the one”. I was wrong!!! I didn’t listen to my family or any of my friends when they tried to tell me. I ended up pregnant and alone. I had to learn how to be strong because I didn’t have a choice. If I wasn’t there to advocate for myself and my child, nobody else would do it for me. That child is now 19 herself and I see a lot of myself in her. It scares me to death!

Thirteen years ago I gave birth to my second miracle. We had to start over with a new person to care for and love. It hasn’t been easy but it’s been worth it.

In my 30’s I went to college for a fresh start. I had big dreams of landing a job in the field I had been trained in. Yeah, that didn’t happen. I ended up working at Walmart just to pay the bills.

Last year I landed a great job working in a totally different field that I frankly knew nothing about. I love it! For the first time in my life I feel like I have truely earned the respect I so badly wanted growing up!

Not everything is as I had hoped it would be but I feel like I’ve been given a fresh start this year and I don’t plan to waste it!

Purging!

Last month I turned 40. Ok, I admit it. I don’t like it, but I admit it. Last year was a rough one all the way around and I’m not sorry to be done with it. Things seem to be looking up so far this year. Hey, it’s January 8th and other than being really sick for the last 3 days, nothing really bad has happened. That’s a good start, right?

MiniMe and I are settling into our new home. Getting the routine down. I’m still going through boxes and getting rid of more stuff. This is the smallest space I’ve ever lived in and between the girls and I, we’ve collected a lot of crap in the last 20 years!

I feel like I’ve been purging for the last 3 years, and I still have more stuff to go thru! All of the “Congratulations Graduate” cards from when I graduated high school 20 years ago? Fun to look at and remember how young and naive I was back then but do I need to keep them and store them in my very little storage area? Probably not. The doll my parents picked out for me for my 13th birthday but didn’t give me because my dad died 2 months before? Yeah, hanging on to that one. She has a special place on my shelf. The reports I used to get from the daycare MiniMe went to when she was a baby? Ok, those are already gone, but you get the idea. Right?

MiniMe has a great big closet in her room that is full of boxes of stuff she doesn’t even remember she has. We will be purging her room as well. She has a whole stack of postcards that her grandparents send her when they are traveling. Those will be turned into a cool mural on her bedroom wall. The Easy Bake Oven she has never even used? It’s on its way out the door.

Christmas gifts at our house were very minimal this year. Partly because 95% of my money went to getting into our new place and partly because, none of us have room for anything right now. I’m going to make a deal with the girls that if they make room for new stuff (by getting rid of the stuff they don’t wear/use anymore) I will get them some cool new things. We’ll see how that works out.

Until then, I’ll be reminiscing and shredding and Craigslisting and giving stuff away to people who don’t have enough crap of their own.