Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I feel as if I accomplished something today.

Yes, I really did.

I got a few orders in for Pampered Chef, which is great since I am nowhere near my original goal for the month, but now that I have cut that goal into a more manageable half, I am getting pretty close.


the REAL thing that I accomplished today was that I went to the post office.

Now, I go to the post office often.  In fact, I usually go a few times a week.  But when I go, it is at the end of the day to drop off a shipment, letter, bill or check for my job, not as a trip for me to take care of my personal business.  I mean technically, since I am going after work, I  could use that time to take care of stuff, but I am usually cruising in right a 5, and you all KNOW how the lines are at that time, and with the company mailings, I have them already labeled, stamped and paid for, so all I have to do is drop them off, not stand in line...

and fill out overseas shipment labels.

Today, however, between when I picked my mother-in-law up from her part-time job and when I picked Jo up from preschool, I made a mad dash to the post office and processed my shipment. 

Now, I do feel that I was entirely rewarded for making that brave trip to the post office because a lady there saw my Pampered Chef catalog in my bag and asked me for one and wants to place an order, so I am glad that I went.

Well, honestly, I feel rewarded anyway just because I like to do this for my friends, but this was double reward today.

But, you see, there's a story behind this shipment. 

I have friends in other countries, and they often like to order things online from Amazon or Gap or what-have-you, and those companies will not ship to certain countries.  So, I receive those items here and then forward them on to their destinations.  I generally like doing this because I like to stick something extra in the package if I can or at least I like to know that my friends remember me and trust me to be a friend and help them out in this way, which means a lot to me.

(So, if you are one of those friends reading this, please don't take this as a message that I want you to stop!  'Cuz I don't!)

But this particular item for this particular friend didn't go quite as planned.  I have held onto packages a little too long before just because I haven't been able to get to the post office, (but I DID get it to her before the baby was born...ok, barely, but it DID get there!) but this one went to an extreme. 

Yes, I received the package here at my house last year. 

Ok, last spring.

Ok, EARLY last spring. 

And I still had it.


I'm so proud of me!


Monday, January 23, 2012

Getting There

I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. 

This is Elizabeth's last week in the public school, after which she will be home and home schooled for the rest of 8th grade, and I do not have all of her books yet and she is asking for assignments!

The baby is due in 18 days, give or take...

The house is a mess...

And I still have billing to do before I can leave my job. 

I seriously thought that the baby was coming this past Friday.  I had been feeling a little 'weird' all day with contractions that came and went and by the time I got home, they were pretty strong and regular.  So, after dinner, I went to he grocery store (yes, still contracting) for milk and stuff that they would need here if I went to the hospital for 2 days, and then I went out for a walk to see what would happen, and, as expected, the contractions increased in intensity and duration. 

So I kind of felt like I was at a crossroad.  I felt that if I kept walking and pushing myself, the baby would probably come,

BUT... then I started thinking...

It is late, and if I go into labor now, I will be tired and so it will be all the more taxing.  All my other babies were delivered in the morning or early afternoon, when I had slept at least a little while the night before, and I felt that made it so much easier.

And then I got to thinking about my weekend.  I had 2 Pampered Chef shows scheduled, and I didn't want to miss those both because I didn't want to let the hosts down, even though I know that they both would have completely understood, but also because I have not yet submitted a show this month, and so needless to say, I am pretty far from reaching my sales goal for the month.

I had also promised Elizabeth that I would take her to a Dana Jorgensen concert on Saturday evening.

So, I decided to shower and see if I could at least rest first, and then, if the contractions continued, I would go to the hospital, but if not, well, then, I would just wait for another day. 

And they stopped...or at least calmed.

Besides, Elizabeth said that this baby is not allowed to be born until February because then in our family, we will have birthdays in February, March, April, May, June and July.  This baby apparently is not allowed to disrupt the pattern. 

(And Jimmy is calculating how many more kids we need to hit all the calendar months...)

Anyway, there's no baby yet.

I have told my whole family or our decision to homeschool Elizabeth, and although it did not go over well, it was not as bad as I thought it would be, but that may be partly because my dad answered the phone when I called rather than my mom, and he is not as vocal as she is about things.  The conversation lasted about 3 minutes, at the end of which, when I said that this did not have to be a permanent decision and that we would re-evaluated at the end of the year, the comment was, 'I sure hope so!' 

I was only able to leave a message for my sister, and didn't get her call when she called back, but her message said that 2 of her students had also left the school this year due to pretty much the same issues as what prompted our decision to remove Elizabeth. 

My brother just said, 'wow'. 

So, there's not open opposition, but I am not feeling much support from that front, and I feel all the more pressure to be sure that Elizabeth comes out of the gate running and not only doesn't fall behind, but excels.

I'm not really sure what Jimmy's parents feel.  This must be such a foreign concept to them that I am not sure that they really understand what it means until they have seen it, so we will see as the days go by and Elizabeth remains at home.  

On the other side, though, we have seen an outpouring of support from our church family and our friends, for which I feel incredibly blessed. 

I just wish that I could push 'pause' for a little while and have a few days to catch up on things!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


So, the decision has been made, and it seems again that things are racing along at break-neck speed.

We have decided to take Elizabeth out of the public school and home school her starting on the 30th of January, so that her last day of school will be the last day of the semester, January 27th. 

That being decided, curriculum books are being poured over even more, and plans are being made, but I feel like the date is coming so quickly that I can never be ready by then.  I know that it is not that important that she starts her classes on that Monday, and, in fact, even if she were to stay in school, that Monday and Tuesday are days off, and she will still be participating in District Band, which is all day Thursday and Friday preparing for the concert on Saturday, but still, Elizabeth is chomping at the bit to get on her way in this new adventure, so I feel like I really want to support that and not hold her back in any way.

But the thing is that I am still working full time, so I don't really have time to figure everything out because by the time I get home from a full day's work, I am so beat that I can't really think straight, let alone concentrate on Geometry books!

At work, things are moving along as well.  Jimmy and I were given the green light to hire a new guy (finally!), who is taking Jimmy's place in the production process, which means that he is now available to actually train with me in what he will be doing when I am not longer there.  He is coming along well, but since he had been so busy with the production of the products that we are working on, we are behind on inventory, which really needs to be finished before the spring orders start rolling in.

BUT...we are still not done with the horribly convoluted billing from the project that we did over the summer...and are still working on...which I MUST get done before I leave because there is no way that anyone will be able to step in and figure anything out.  I can't even figure it out, it is so bad, that it is a constant weight hanging over my head that I try to work on every day.  But I still have to keep up with everything else, so I keep getting interrupted, and having to start up again.

Jo will probably finish her year at preschool and then we will keep her home next year.  I think that this is what we will do so that she is not going through too many changes at one time.  She is not so good with changes, and with Elizabeth coming home and the new baby coming, I feel like it might be more of an issue for her to upset her routine than it is just to leave her where she is til it's over.

BUT...the problem with THAT is that my father-in-law got a job that started today.  That means that he is no longer available to pick Jo up from school, nor to take my mother-in-law to and from her part-time job at the church, which is every Tuesday and every other Friday.  Technically, her job is not my issue, but, of course, since they live with us and since she is family, I want to be supportive of what they are doing and help them make and save the money that they are trying to get together to eventually go back to retire in their own country.  Plus, Gabriel goes with my MIL to the nursery when she works, so it is good for him to get out of the house and play with other kids his age. 

But that means that on Tuesday, I have to drop Jimmy and Mirian (the other lady who works with us and rides in with us every day) off at work by 8:30 Yolanda and Gabe off at church at 8:45, get Jo to school by 9 and get me to the doctors (I'm on the every week plan now) by 9:15.  Then I finish up there, go to work, then go to pick up Yolanda by 12, and Jo by 1 to race back to work to finish my day there.

Wednesday is just to work with everyone and Jo to school, then pick up Jo at 1 then back to work, and Thursday the same.  Friday is drop Yolanda off at church at 9 and pick up at 12.  So basically, every day except Monday, I will be running around which makes it hard to get into a groove to get this billing done at work. 

And I only have 3 weeks left, give or take, til the baby comes. 

Which means that the craziness will only last about 3 weeks, but then again, it will go on because I still have to take Jimmy and Mirian in to work, and drop and pick up everyone else, too.

I know that a routine will work itself out, but from where I am right now, I know that it is a blessing that my father-in-law got this job, but I feel like it's going to be a bit stressful, at least for a while til we all get used to it. 

In addition to that, my Pampered Chef is picking up again with 2 shows this weekend (yay!) and a few catalog and fundraiser shows out.  I have a huge goal that I am reaching for this month.  I'm not sure if I'm going to get there, but by this point, I am just counting it as reaching a goal by having any shows at all!

My energy goes up and down pretty much unpredictably.  I can be super charged one minute and dragging my knuckles on the ground the next.  But I've never tackled this much this close to the end of the pregnancy.

And every time I feel anything or have a Braxton Hicks contraction, Jimmy asks me if I want to go to the hospital.  Of course, I would prefer to not go to the hospital at all, but that's not an option for us, so I'll have to go, but not yet, Jimmy, not yet!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Look What's Up!

My brother is a woodworker.  He can build anything and everything...with or without a plan.  He will see something he likes somewhere or on TV and then just draw it up and build it.

Like a lighted corner display with glass doors for my parents, or a wooden toy chest that looks like a pirate's chest for the kids, or a clock that looks like a grandfather style clock but has cat prints on it to liven it up for our house, or a computer desk with a slide out keyboard tray and a CPU cabinet and a file drawer.

Or a cupola for his house.  (Which, I must say, is very awesome.  It's got a built in bed and shelves and drawers but it's all really tiny and low and so cozy...)

Anyway, last Christmas, no, not this PAST one, but the one before that, I asked him if he could build us a hanging pot rack to fit in our kitchen.

Yes, it's a scary thing.  All of our pots and pans are all over the stove, counter, and sometimes dining table or floor when we really get to cooking on the stove.

Remember now, before you judge, that we are sharing our kitchen with my in-laws, so there are 5 cooks, counting Elizabeth, who use the kitchen daily.

It was out of control!

But, you see, as much as my brother loves to build things, he loves to build the things that he loves to build, not necessarily the things that we would love him to build.

So, the year passed, and nothing became of it.

Now, I know that you can get pot racks online or at Ikea or wherever, but the problem is that they are small, and expensive!  And we have a lot of pots.

So, now that I am officially 'nesting' seeing as the baby is due in 4 weeks, I really couldn't take it anymore.  I mean, how can I add another person into the house, knowing that every inch of the house is not being used to its fullest?

Yes, I am a space hog.  I love to manipulate things in order to get the most out of any space possible.  I have always loved puzzles, and as our house gets fuller, my brain works overtime to think of how we can reduce, reuse and manipulate into the space available.

So, and I know that many of you would have thought of this solution long ago, but I was still holding onto the idea that my brother would make something for us, this weekend, Jimmy and I headed off to Lowes.

Now, whereas I grew up around tools and wood and guys that built and fix things, so I know my way around a tool box, and Jimmy has many talents, and I would not trade any of the talents that he has for anything, Jimmy is not a fix-it man.  He is not a tool man, and he is not a build-it man.

But, since he knew that I had been waiting for so long for this, and because he was tired of the messy stove all the time, too, (and he was probably afraid that if he didn't do something soon, I would get up on the ladder and do it myself) he braved the home improvement store with me and we dug around a bit.

We came up with using a heavy duty shelf with S hooks.

I know, I know, not rocket science.

But for us (read:  Jimmy) this was really something.  I mean, this meant finding studs in the wall, screwing things in...you know all that kind of stuff.

And so, with the advice of:

If you don't use a  level, and it doesn't go up right and sturdy, it will have to be done again...

I left the room, except to sneak in and take some pictures.  NO, I wasn't checking up on him!  I would not do such a thing!

And here is the final product:

I can't believe it!   I actually have somewhere to put the pots and pans!

AND...Elizabeth can't say, when she is supposedly 'done' with the dishes:

Oh, I didn't know that pot was dirty...

There's no excuse!  If the pot is not hanging, it needs to be.  And in order to hang the pot...it has to be cleaned.

I can't tell you how excited I am!

I know it's a bit high, and we may put it a few levels lower, but the problem is that the alarm system on the door hits right at the height where the shelf should be, and any lower, I'm afraid I'll crack my head on it, but at the height it is, the shelf on top is not really that usable because I'm the only one who can reach it.  (My mother-in-law has to kind of stand on her toes to reach the dangling pots!)  But we keep a step ladder close by, anyway, so we'll just see how it goes.

Now...on to the next project...  :)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Get Your Guapo On!

I don't know exactly why it is so hard for me to put pictures on here, but for some reason, whenever I want to write, I can't find the camera, or the card won't read or what I want to write has nothing to do with the pictures...stuff just stands in the way.

But not today!

That's our Gabriel!  I do think that he has grown huge since the last time I posted pictures here. 

Anyway, if you notice, he is wearing a button down shirt.  It's Sunday, and we had just gotten back from church.  Jimmy is not a dresser; neither am I.  We seem to live in jeans and t-shirts with a sweatshirt thrown over the top if it's cold out. 

But the kids 'dress up' for Sunday church.  That means a dress for Jo, no jeans for Elizabeth, and a button down shirt for Gabriel. 

And every time Gabriel puts on his button down shirt, everyone tells him that he is so 'guapo' (handsome), well, because he is!  So now, when he sees his button down coming out of the drawer, he says 'Guapo!'.  And if you ask him where his guapo is, he points to his shirt. 

Now, I know that is not good for his vocabulary development, and we really should correct him...but it's just so darn cute!

Anyway, he KNOWS it's a shirt, it's just a special shirt...a guapo!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Money Talk

Elizabeth had been wanting a hamster for quite some time.  Finally, at some point over the summer, we decided to let her have not a hamster, but a guinea pig, since they do better with small kids than hamsters do.

But the stipulation was that if Elizabeth was going to get an animal, she would be totally responsible for its upkeep and care.  Meaning, that she would buy all of its food and supplies.

Elizabeth has been doing a good job of making some money.  She has a pretty regular cleaning job and she does some babysitting for some of the church families, and she sometimes does babysitting or odd jobs around the house that earn her a little extra cash.

Which means that since she has an income, she is responsible for paying for almost all of her extra activities..youth trips, concerts, extra school stuff, going out to lunch after church and before band practice instead of taking her own food...if it's something extra that she wants to do, she needs to save up her money and decide how much she REALLY wants to do it and now much it is really worth to her.  A lot of her friends (and their parents) think that this is unfair.  They think that she is a child and so it is our responsibility as parents to 'provide' for her. 

Well, we do.  She has food, clothing, shelter...and what WE think are good life lessons.


An interesting thing happened the other day. 

The youth leader passed out a flier for a great program in the area that will cost $20 plus food.  Of course, Elizabeth wants to go.  But also, she mentioned a concert that is coming up that she would like to go to, too. 

So, Elizabeth, how much money do you have?  

About $50.  

And what about your pig?  Remember, if you run out of money and can't buy the pig food or hay, then you loose him.  

I know!  I need to make more money and decide what I want to do!


Well, we'll see what she will decide to do, but it seems like a good lesson in the making! 

Home school, anyone?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

How do you know when it's right?

Jimmy and I have been considering home school for Elizabeth for a while now, but everything kind of came to a head a few weeks ago when we found out that there was a pretty big issue in her school with some bullying going on.  Jimmy wanted to take her out right away when it all hit the fan, but I wanted to see if there was a way to work through it and resolve it both for Elizabeth's sake and for the other student's sake. 

So now, there has been a suitable solution presented, and it seems that on that front, things are going ok.


Elizabeth has been having chronic headaches and nausea.  This is from a child who is NEVER sick.  She has missed less than a handful of school days due to illness in her entire school career of 9+ years.  In fact, it got so that I would take her out of school early on her birthday just because she NEVER got a random day off like most of the other kids do and did.  Her 'illness' started pretty much at the beginning of this year, and got progressively worse until we finally figured out what was going on at the school with the other student.  I thought that when that issue was resolved that she should also start to feel better due to the release of that tension, but it has not gone away.  If anything, it has gotten worse...to the point that she feels sick every time after she eats and gets migraines more than once a week.

Over winter break, however, when she had 11 straight days off of school, she didn't complain about these things except a very few times, but that could be attributed to other hormonal issues, and the complaints went away relatively quickly. 

She was also very peaceful and all 3 of the kids were calmer and more patient and tolerant of each other.  With Elizabeth being the oldest by 9 years, I think that the little guys really look up to her and feed off her attitudes and temperament, so her kindness was rubbing off on them.   She did her chores without complaining and even did extra work like washing all the windows and ceiling fans without complaining and without having to be asked more than once.  The day she went back to school, though, she came home and even though she got a chance to relax and unwind for about an hour or so before the whole family converged, she was a big angry growling bear at everyone and about everything from helping wash up the little ones to feeding the cats.  It was horrible!

What is it that is causing this?  We found out last summer that she has allergies to both mold and dust, so maybe there is something in the school that is making her sick?  But we have a lot of dust around here, and I'm sure that we have our share of mold spores of some sort since we don't use AC and very little heat, and we have pets that come in and go out. Is it a different kind of dust or mold?  Or is it because they keep the blinds closed in some of her classrooms all day so there is no natural light that comes in?  Is it that most of the drinking fountains don't work so she can only hydrate once a day at lunch?

If it's stress about the baby coming and thinking about being home schooled, then why did it go away over the break?  If anything, I would think it would have been even MORE stressful because she was with us all day, every day.  She and Jo came with us to work every day and Elizabeth did homework and helped us with inventory at the shop and played with her sister and practiced her trombone every day as well as helped with dinner and dishes and all the other stuff she does around the house.

Looking at it from these angles, and especially now that I have put it into writing here, it seems like school is just a toxic environment for her.  Whatever it is, there is something there, whether it be the building itself or the pressure from the other students there, something is making her sick between the time that she gets on the bus in the morning and comes home again in the afternoon.  

So now, we are approaching the end of the semester, which would be an opportune time to take her out of school and start schooling her here at home.  But this is ALSO the time when the baby is coming, I am quitting my job, our pay will be cut in more than half, so I really need to step up my business with Pampered Chef to help make ends meet and my in-laws will make decisions about whether they will stay here with us in the US and get jobs or whether they will move back to El Salvador.  This will mean that in all of this, Jo and Gabriel will have to adjust not only to a new baby, but also to the grandparents, who have been their primary caregivers during the day, either being gone completely in another country, or being out of the house daily with work, and I will take on the responsibility of caring for 3 kids under the age of 5, one of which will be a newborn, and all of whom will be going through some pretty traumatic life changes.

Can I take on the lessons(and hormones!) of a teenager who will be going through a lot of her own stress, too?  Even though Elizabeth is very bright, a self-starter and will be able to study and learn much on her own, I will still be responsible for finding what she needs to study and setting up a curriculum for her.  I have never done this before!  And it will be a big change for her, too, both welcoming a new sibling, leaving the only type of schooling that she has ever known, and having me be at home and not 'working' all day. 

Can I pull this together and keep her on track?  I know that she will be able to move at a quicker pace at home than she does at school, so it will be OK for her to 'miss' a few weeks to adjust and find herself in this, but can I find the books and set her up in time?  Can we afford it?  I mean, can we afford the buy the books and materials that she will need to keep her up with her level?  I read the blogs of other homeschooling families and I feel like I can never do what they do.  Our house is miniscule (there's 8.5 people here in a tiny cape cod!) and our resources severely limited, but does that really matter?  When it comes to your children and your family, isn't it the love and the time that you share together? 

And am I reading too much into it?  I mean, is this 'illness' of hers a typical teenaged issue?  Are we jumping the gun and reading too much into the situation because of our (mine and Jimmy's) negative highschool experiences?  Are we being over protective?  Is there a such thing as 'over protective' when it comes to your child?

How do we know when it's right?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Coming Back

I have not written in forever.  I don't even really know how to break the ice again, so instead of trying to write something 'worthwhile' which is kind of what I have been waiting for, I think that I will just let some words flow here and post whatever comes out.

I have started and aborted many an attempt at writing on here because these last weeks have been very difficult. 

We are all well, and there is nothing to really worry  about...it's just that some things have happened that have made us stop and regroup...multiple times.

I am nearing the end of my pregnancy...I have about 5 weeks left, and I feel like I am actually somewhat ready, if that's possible, and Jimmy and the kids are super excited.  We have a car seat, which is great because Gabriel wore his out with him being so big and all, and I had gotten diaper covers a while ago and today we pulled out the newborn stuff from Gabriel.  We have the bassinet set up, kind of, but it is still on the other side of the room.  Right now, Gabriel's crib is on my side of the bed and the bassinet is on Jimmy's but after the baby arrives, I know that it only makes sense to switch it around, but I am not ready to 'let go' of my baby Gabriel yet!

Jo, of course, is ready for Gabriel to sleep in her room with her and Elizabeth, preferably in her bed with her.  Which could actually work since her bed is a mattress on the floor, but I don't think we are going to go that route since they are of the opposite sex, so why get them used to sleeping together when they will not be able to to do it for long. 

At work, things are going along, although I am not sure that my boss really has accepted the truth that in about 4-5 weeks I will no longer be showing up at his door.  We had a big meeting today and talked about it, and I think that we have a little more of a plan in place that will help Jimmy move into my position, but only time will tell if these plans will actually be implemented.  And there's not much time left in which to do the telling!

I am actually pretty excited about Jimmy taking over at work, though.  I think that it will really stretch him and get him to explore more of his potential.  He is excited, too, but also very nervous.  It will really be pushing him out of his comfort zone.  I am confident that he can do it.  He just needs a little practice and a few successes. 

Christmas was interesting.  We went to my parents' house on Christmas day, which was nice until my dad got after Gabriel so much for touching stuff (he's 21 months old!) that Gabriel came to me and said, "Mommy, vamos!"  in a plaintive little voice.  (Mommy, let's go!)  So, I took him and Jimmy home and as soon as he got through the door, you could see the relief in his little face to be in a place where he could touch all he wanted to.

So, Gabriel is crying upstairs, so I've got to go see what's going on with him, but at least I'm back 'on paper' again!