Welcome to my blog. Thanks for coming! One day I hope my little piece of internet real estate will be home to lots of family photos, pictures of my scrapbook and card art, with some random thoughts and memories posted on a somewhat regular basis. Mostly my world is very predictable, but occasionally some excitement will find me, so visit often. Who knows what useful (or useless) information you may find here.


Wednesday, December 31, 2008

In With The New!

HAPPY NEW YEAR YA'LL!!! Where has the time gone? Honestly, it seems like just a few weeks ago we were ringing in 2008. I hope everyone has a safe New Year's Eve, and that 2009 will be a happy, healthy and prosperous year for all! I am actually going out tonight to celebrate! I don't even remember the last time I did anything on NYE that didn't involve wearing my pajamas! Those fun evenings included working, playing on the internet, reading a book and/or watching Dick Clark on the tv- or a random combination of all the above. Tonight I'm having dinner at DJs, then going over to Lawrenceville to see my brother's band Departure. They are a Journey tribute band (remember Journey? one of my faves!) and though they have been playing a year or two, I have yet to hear them. So, tonight will find me wearing something sparkly that I bought on clearance after the holidays last year, (but who will know... I know YOU won't tell!) instead of my jammies, and if I can hold out til midnight, maybe I'll get a Happy New Year kiss (on the cheek from my brother... don't get all excited, now!). Tomorrow I'll be working. The hospital doesn't close for holidays. But I imagine it will be a light day, and hopefully there will be enough work to keep me busy the entire shift. Maybe, just maybe, I'll get some Christmas photos posted, though it will be in the new year. And just think. It will seem like only a few weeks/months that we'll be doing this all over again! Happy 2009!! Blessings to all!

Edited to Add: I have a Happy New Year Miracle!!! I'm somewhat particular (suprise, surprise!) about fragrances. Years ago I was introduced to a body lotion at Victoria's Secret called Peach Hyacinth. mmmmm it smelled yummy. (And incidentally, the only thing in that Store For Skinny People that would fit me!) A couple of years later, they discontinued it. In desperation, I searched for a new signature fragrance, and finally found one at Bath & Body Works called Pearberry. (Sorry the pic is not scratch-n-sniff) Believe me though...double mmmmmm! Normally 9.50 a bottle, I would wait for them to put it on sale for 5.00 per bottle and replete my stash. As fate would have it, a couple of years ago they stopped stocking it in the stores, only to bring it out during their semi-yearly sale. Lo and behold, they are not even doing that any more! Funny confession time (and don't tell my mom) She always liked the way I smelled, so this past Mother's Day when I was broke and no time for shopping anyway, I went into my stash and gave her a bottle for Mother's Day. She was so happy. Now I am down to the last few drops in my last bottle, and I have been hoarding it like crazy, supplementing with some other kind of lotion that doesn't begin to compare. I even considered giving my mom the sob story, knowing that she would give me her half-used bottle. But I was strong, and didn't do it. Oh yeah, I could order it on line, but at 9.50 per bottle plus shipping, I just haven't been able to do that. I was going to use the last few drops before going out tonight. I think wearing a sparkly sweater definitely constitutes a special-enough occasion to wear my prized lotion. Well, my miracle is this: Whitney just called. She is at B&BW at MOG, and happened to ask the salesperson if they had any. She told her to check the clearance table, and Hallelujah! there are tons of bottles marked down to THREE DOLLARS EACH!!! Yipee!! I told her to get ten bottles!! I'll eat potted meat for a week to make up for it. So the next time you see me, be sure to get real close and take a good sniff. :-)

Monday, December 29, 2008

And So It Begins...

Yesterday was my first full day on the *new* job. (It's not really a new job, I have just transitioned from PT to FT) Wednesday at the office was bittersweet.. the close of one chapter, the opening of a new one. It is always sad to say goodbye to friends and co-workers, but we all decided that we wouldn't say goodbye. I'll be going back to the office on Friday to tie up some loose ends, run some year-end reports and leave additional instructions. I'll drop by from time to time, so we simply decided not to say goobye. Of course, it won't be the same, and I shall miss my friends. It is pretty rare to find a job that you enjoy, and rarer still, I suppose, to walk away from it. My decision to leave the office was not based on any dissatisfaction with the job, rather an attempt to streamline my work hours into a more manageable schedule. I have been a little amused at some reactions from people when they learn about my job changes. Several people have said to me (with great sincerity, which I appreciate), that they are so happy that I'll have an easier job. Truth be known, I will actually be working much harder in the new position. My job at the office was fairly laid back, self paced, with nobody looking over my shoulder. I knew what had to be done, and I did it. Some days it took longer than others, but it was never a back-breaking, high-pressure job, and (though I am ashamed to admit it), there was time for e-mail, Google searches, etc. The new job is more of a sweat-shop mentality. The money is good, but in order to make a lot of money, I have to produce a lot of work. No hourly pay~ no pay for potty time, telephone time, internet play time. Yes, I will pretty much be chained to my desk, smoke pouring from my keyboard and splints on my wrists within six months. But I am so incredibly motivated to work hard for ten hours a day, so that I don't have to work 14-16 hours a day!! I know what those kind people mean to say is that they are happy for me that I won't be working such L-O-N-G hours. And I appreciate their good thoughts. In anticipation of the new beginning, I have been inspired to actually clear off my desk, now that I will be parked here for ten hours a day. I found all manner of missing items underneath the landfill that had formed. I can actually see wood now. Rather veneer. But nonetheless, I can see the desktop. I am breathless with excitement just thinking about the *free* time I will have at the end of my work day- time to clean my room, time to clean the kitchen and bathroom and try out the new steam mop I purchased on Black Friday. (Now how sad is that.. I am excited about cleaning chores!) But after all the chores are done, I wonder what I'll do with all that time. I was off this past Thursday and Friday... and almost didn't know what to do! I reasoned that it was fruitless to try and do any major cleaning, what with all the Christmas Chaos still strewn everywhere. (Santa didn't visit our house until Friday, when Mary got here, so our post-Christmas bedlam has been extended. She is with us until Tuesday.) I can recall only a few rare times when a whole day passed without my working somewhere, in some fashion. Minutes were low at the hospital, and the *regulars* were on duty, so I wasn't needed there. It will take a while to get caught up on all the things I need to get done. After that, it will take yet another while to get accustomed to having my evenings free, and Fridays and Saturdays off. Wooo Hooo!! I think I'm really gonna like this!!! I feel a craft-room retreat lurking on the horizon!!

I promise a Christmas post very soon. I still have photos to scan, but I seem to have misplaced my little scanner. I was hoping to find it hiding among the mystery items on my desk, but that was not to be. I know it's here somewhere. Just bear with me. It will be worth the wait. :-)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bolero ~ Torville & Dean Style

Okay, so I guess I'm just in a writing mood tonight. Maybe it's that dream thing going on. As I look over and listen to my playlist, I am constantly remembering music that I failed to add when I created it, so I'm continually adding new stuff. Tonight the music was Ravel's Bolero. I was thinking about the time I first remember hearing the haunting strains of this masterpiece. It was in the winter of 1984, during the Olympics in Sarajevo. A British ice dancing couple had chosen this music for their long program. Now I've always loved ice skating, and DJ, BJ, Lisa, Susan and I loved to talk about our favorite skaters, the funny-sounding moves and elegant costumes. Every Sunday afternoon from late fall onward, we would tune in to Wide World of Sports and watch them compete first on a national, then an international level. And once every four years, we would get to watch them perform at the Olympics! 1984 found me married, living in a neighboring town, in my very own home with my very own television, allowing me to watch all the skating my little heart desired. One evening during the Sarajevo games, I watched Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean take the ice and begin the most eloquent, mesmerizing dance on ice that I have ever seen. I was literally glued to the tv and I don't think I breathed even once until it was over. It brought tears to my eyes. The sportscasters, who always "break the spell" by critiquing skaters during the performance, were apparently spellbound as well, as not a word did they utter until it was over. The only sound during the performance was occasional applause- subdued as though the audience itself was under the spell the skaters cast. Even the judges were captured-and awarded nine perfect 6.0s for artistic impression- a first! and the performance garnered the first standing ovation of the games. The next morning on Good Morning America (or The Today Show- whichever one of those I watched at the time), showed the performance again, in its entirety. And again, I was awestruck at the beauty, the grace, the emotion, the passion that went into the dance. Again, I was moved to tears, and felt a chill down my spine. I went out that very day and purchased a copy of the music and for years have enjoyed listening to the music and recalling the magic. To my delight, I just found the video on YouTube, and after all these years, I am still deeply moved. Did you miss it? Wanna see it? Even if you are not a fan of skating, I think you will enjoy it. And if, like me, you watched it in 1984, perhaps it will take you back to the magic you felt at the time. Take a moment to scroll down and read the comments that are posted. I am amazed that nearly 25 years later, people are still commenting about this moment in Olympic history. Though the video is grainy and not of the quality we are accustomed to these days, people still love it. Take a look-see for yourself. And go out tomorrow and buy yourself a copy of the music (or click on my playlist, go to the bottom, and hear the complete arrangement of Ravel's Bolero). Now, just sit back and be amazed!

Dare To Dream!

Every year from 1963 until I married and left home in 1980, I spent Christmas morning under the tree with my baby brother, Michael. I am five years his senior, so I had lots of Santa experience by the time he came along. It was a special moment to rush into the den and find all the goodies that Santa had left us. As I grew older and learned the Awful Santa Truth, I was able to enjoy a few more years of magic through my little brother's eyes. Once he too was jolted into reality, we performed a conspiratorial ritual each year. One of us would watch for Mom and Dad, while the other would ramble in closets and secret hiding places for our loot. On several occasions we hit pay dirt, and would locate our treasures, and then have to act surprised on Christmas morning. We soon learned that having no surprises often lead to disappointment, and the novelty of the hunt wore off. One Christmas in particular comes to my mind that was pretty special. I believe it was 1980, my first Christmas after getting married, which meant that Michael got the entire tree, and didn't have to share his prizes with me. That year he had his heart set on a component stereo system, and had very little hope that he would receive it. Music runs thick in his veins, and he longed for a "bad" stereo system. Upon arising Christmas morning, he took the lonely walk to the tree, and found the usual socks, jeans, maybe a book or two, some candy and maybe an eight-track tape or two. (Oh yeah, I'm dating us here!) Always the gentleman, he hid his disappointment and expressed his appreciation to Mom and Dad for his gifts. Ten or fifteen minutes later, my Dad said to him, "Son, I think I might have heard old Santa making some noise in the living room. Why don't you go see if he dropped anything in there?" I'm sure a surge of adrenaline must have risen within him as he dashed into the living room, where, to his great delight, sat a shiny, new, state-of-the-art stereo component system!! How excited he was!!! And I just loved it. It was such a thrill to see him get what his heart so desired. The element of waiting for what he wanted was a trait that he would carry with him into adulthood, even to this day.

My brother and I enjoy a very unique relationship. We live only 20-ish miles apart, yet we don't call or visit as often as you would think. He has an insanely busy life, and combined with the insane chaos that is mine, there is just an unspoken, unvisited connection between us. I treasure that. We have both seen some dark days marriage-wise, and while I have remained unmarried, he is now happily married to a gal with children and grandchildren of her own, which adds to the busyness of his life. But the cool thing is, no matter what is going on, we both know the other one is "there" at a moment's notice. He keeps up with me by reading my blog (Hey Michael!) and I keep up with him through bits and pieces on his web page, or through our mom.

This Christmas Eve, as we gathered at home for our traditional celebration, he handed to me a piece of paper and an envelope. It was a letter to me. In it, he shared about a dream that he had as a very young man to own a particular set of drums- not just any set of drums, but the Holy Grail Of Drums for him. Of course, it was financially impossible, but he never gave up on his dream. Sometimes life has other plans for us, and for a long time he didn't play at all. Twenty years later, he helped form a band called Departure, a Journey tribute band. They are doing very well and stay booked on a regular basis. Once again he thought about that set of drums and decided to save his gig money in order to acquire his dream set. This time, however, he decided that he would build his own- just the way he wanted them, custom-made to his specifications. He saved for over a year, and one day the time was right, and he took the money, purchased the finest of materials and painstakingly crafted them with love and attention to the finest of detail. In his own words, "It is a drum set fit for the most discriminating musician, and one beyond my wildest dreams of ever owning." How thrilling! I was so excited by reading his letter, and so happy that he is now living his dream. I know that the drums he has built would rival any Stradivarius violin or Steinway piano in their perfection.
However, as I read further, the tone of the letter changed. He shared with me that building his own drums, even with using the most exotic wood destined for Lear Jet, and solid oak boards, etc., actually was less expensive than buying them from a factory. There was still a good bit of money left in his envelope. Now let me tell you what he did. And I quote: "Please accept this gift from me to you, for there is no one more deserving. Do with it as you will. I hope that it will bring as much joy and happiness to you as it does me to give it, and that it may allow you to realize some goal or desire that you, too, have carried around silently for years. It is a wonderful feeling and I want to share it."
My precious baby brother presented an envelope to me that contained his left-over dream money. How amazing is that? By the time I was finished reading the letter, I was in tears. It would not have mattered to me if there was only a single dollar bill inside that envelope. But there was ever so much more than that. Inside the envelope was hope. The letter and the envelope have commanded my thoughts to even dare to dream. The saddest thing, I think, was that I told him I'm not even sure I have a dream any more. Of course I do, but responsibilities and reality dictate that my dream of having a place (and the time) to be creative are always at the very bottom of my list of things I must do. I love to write. I love to make things to give to other people. I love to preserve memories. I love creating things.

Now, here I am starting a work schedule that is going to allow free time that I haven't had for so many years. My carport-enclosure project is to begin in a week or so. Michael's dream money comes at the most perfect time ever, and while I may not purchase an actual "dream item" with it, (more likely a commode and some carpet!) it will further my cause for a dream "studio" without going into more debt. For right now the room will be used as my office and bedroom, but when Whitney and her family move, it will be the most perfect place for me to write, create, glue, and cut to my heart's content. And it will be large enough to invite my friends over to create with me. Though I told him I wasn't sure that I even had a dream, in thinking about it, I can tell you that I do. I have spent hundreds of hours dreaming of a place- a nook- a room- a studio- in which to create. Perhaps a selfish dream- not one of saving the world or any comparable feat, but a dream nonetheless, because it always seemed such an impossibility. Thanks to my parents, who are loaning me the money for the carport project- (not because I want a play room, but because my house is simply not large enough for three adults and two babies) and now to my brother, who has provided the final resources needed to complete the project without maxing out my Lowe's card!!

Michael, when the kids move out and I'm able to put my house back in order, you have a standing invitation to bring those drums over here and play me some music, while I write my short stories, or create memory art. I love you very much, my wonderful, thoughtful, generous baby brother!! And I promise to never stop dreaming, ever again. xoxo Love, Cat (your sister)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Beauty- It Truly Is In the Eyes of the Beholder

Okay, so I didn't have to re-write my poem. I finally got the tree up on Saturday. Leyland was napping, and I was waiting for Whit and Dustin to bring Corey home from the hospital, so I decided to put up the tree real quick-like. Oh my, what a pitiful tree. Charlie Brown would be horrified! You'll probably find this difficult to believe, but I tend to be somewhat particular (or anal, as my dear friend Debbie Bennett just loves to call me) about my Christmas tree. I have collected ornaments for years, and though my trees have become progressively smaller over the years, I have managed to designate a specific location for each special ornament. Somehow, during the Great Furniture Purge/Rearrange Act of 2008, (aka preparing for Corey's birth) I have misplaced my box of special ornaments. I'm just sick over it. I know the box is somewhere- either within the bowels of my dad's basement, or hiding somewhere at 409. But still it has bewildered and agitated me that I cannot put my hands on my treasures. All that to say this: my poor tree is adorned this year with rejects that were discarded from the "special" box. That's okay in some respects, in that they will be safe from busy little hands, but I'm really distressed over their whereabouts. But I digress. When Leyland awoke from her nap, she had her "teee" in the living room, and she has been fascinated with it ever since. She takes my hand and says "come on, grandma", then sits down in front of the tree and pats the floor for me to join her. How cute is that! Well, the tree is far from the loveliest I've ever had, but to see it through Leyland's eyes, it is a wonder to be hold. I'm glad I decided to go ahead and put it up. (And DJ is so happy!) Hey- it really doesn't look half bad at night when you drive down my street- you can't tell that it's just a few twigs sparsely scattered on a bare trunk. That's okay. I'm seriously not going to stress about how ugly it is, because Leyland likes it, and that's the important thing. The Eye of the Beholder thing, you know. And perhaps sometime between now and next Thanksgiving, I'll come across my box of treasures.

Corey came home from the hospital yesterday, still sounding pretty juicy, but I suppose he's over the worst of it. Leyland is still a little drippy and juicy herself, but maybe we're on the mend. My throat is starting to hurt and I'm losing my voice. Now what's really gonna irk me is if I lose my sense of taste (like Whit) and can't enjoy all the delectable goodies that will be available this coming week!

Only two more full days at the office to go! So much to do, so little time. Honestly I can't believe that it has come already. And here it is tomorrow (Monday) already, and I'm still awake. Guess I'd better get some sleep. Gettin' up time will be here in just a few hours. I hope you all have a happy Monday, and enjoy the Christmas week!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Where's My Smiley Boy??

Only time for a quick post this morning. Just to let you know Corey was admitted to the hospital yesterday. Poor little smiley boy, lost under the folds of a croup tent. Both kiddies saw the doctor on Monday- Corey for his six-month well-baby visit, and Leyland because of a nasty cold. Corey was doing just fine, but Leyland was given the dx of acute sinusitis and probable RSV. She had that as a baby and was admitted, but admission is usually not required at this age, thank goodness! Corey was running a fever on Tuesday and had to return to the doctor, at which time Dr. Edwards cautioned Whit to watch him carefully- since Leyland had it and it is highly contagious, it was probable that he’d get it too. It can come on very quickly, and is dangerous for infants. Sure enough, yesterday morning he was coughing a lot, so Whit called the office. They could hear him coughing in the background and told her to bring him right on. Fortunately, Dustin is off this week, and has been a lifesaver helping out with the babies. He and Leyland took Whitney and Corey back to the doctor, and then dropped them off at the hospital. Corey has spent the last almost-24 hours underneath the croup tent in a big old hospital bed. Whitney is sick too, so she has been under the tent with him some of the time. Dustin is home with Leyland again today after staying at the hospital with Whit and Corey last night. In the meantime, I’m trying to keep the home fires burning by working and keeping Leyland at night. Oh yea, it’s a party for sure! I’m also trying to tie up loose ends here at the office, since I basically only have all day today, Monday and Tuesday to get all my affairs in order. Wednesday is my last day, but we’ll be partying part of the day, and I have office errands to run, so I won’t get much done. At any rate, I suppose I’ll have to re-write my poem, because it looks like there will be no tree at all in our house this year. Whitney wants Santa to come to GiGi’s anyway, (that’s where he is storing all the gifts- no room at the inn for them at 409 Sunset) so I guess we’ll just enjoy her tree. The most important thing, though, is for all my babies to get well. Poor little smiley boy was all weak-eyed and pale this morning when I stopped by. Whitney can’t hear, taste, smell or breathe through her nose, Dustin’s nose is stopping up and Leyland is still drowning in her own secretions. So a Christmas tree isn’t very high on my list of priorities right now. I just want everyone to get over this nasty stuff. Seems like I remember when Whitney was little that at Christmas time, someone was sick- either Whitney, Ashley, Abby or Ryan. Kinda like some sort of law or something- one of the babies was sick at the holidays. Anyway, I’m thankful for doctors, hospitals, and respiratory therapists. And Zoloft. Happy Friday, everyone! Please remember my babies in your prayers!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holiday Cheer ~ Holiday Blues

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas! It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! Happy Holidays! Joy To The World! Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas!

Oh yes, the holidays are a time of love, wonder, peace, and the feeling that all is right with the world. A little bit of heaven on earth. Family togetherness with brightly-lit trees and mountains of gifts. It truly is a magical time. The decorations, the music, the candles, the scents, the traditions… all of these things foster within our hearts a softer side, a forgiving side, a greater sense of tolerance, a spirit of giving. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

But I am reminded that for many it is a time of profound sadness and loneliness. I am one of the most blessed people I know… I am surrounded by the best family and friends EVER. There is never an excuse for me to be lonely, as I’m always busy, or always with the people I love. Nevertheless, sometimes a sense of loneliness will overcome me and no matter how hard I fight it, it comes anyway. So I have learned to just let it come, and focus on my blessings, and it will pass. At some point in life, I’m sure everyone has felt this sense of loneliness during the holidays. Your first Christmas after the death of someone you love. Your first Christmas with a loved one in uniform serving on the other side of the globe. Your first holiday after a divorce or the end of a relationship. And though time will heal much of the pain, subsequent Christmases will always hold a reminder of happier times, or times spent with someone who won’t be at your dinner table this year. There was one particular Christmas that was very sad and painful for me, and while the acuteness has subsided, there still come pangs of painful memories, reminding me that in some ways, I too, am alone. How much more painful, then, for those whose losses are recent? Who have bitterness in their hearts instead of love and good cheer? Who are truly alone and have no one with whom to spend happy moments around a tree. And in these tough economic times, those who have lost so much? Those who are suffering with illness and disease? Those who wish someone would simply notice them, and take a moment to say hello and offer an encouraging word?

Yes, Christmas is a time of the year like no other. A time that promotes all the feel-good emotions. But also a time that just amplifies the sadness and loneliness for many people. My friends who read this blog are also among the most blessed people I know- and yet that doesn’t mean within our hearts we don’t have sorrowful moments. My challenge to each of us, while we are going about our family traditions, decking the halls, being jolly and donning our gay apparel, is to spend a moment each day to say a prayer for those who are hurting. And it’s okay to admit that there is hurt in our own hearts as well. Not one of us are exempt, and for many of you I know the source of your personal pain. So let’s be sure to remember those about us, strangers and friends alike, who though we may indeed enjoy the season, are dealing with challenges and sadness brought on by the holidays. God bless us, one and all! (And may we be a blessing to others!)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Few Quick Photos

It was a very busy weekend! I will write a proper post as soon as possible, but for now, I wanted to share a few recent photos of the babies.

In this first set, Miss Leyland is up to her usual crazy antics. Whitney was busy in the kitchen, and looked into the den and saw that Leyland was partially nekkid, sporting a little cap that goes with one of Corey's Christmas outfits. A la naturale, if you will.

Grandma Lynn got Leyland this beautiful Christmas dress, and she looked adorable for church last Sunday. Whitney tried to get some photos of her, but she was more interested in looking at her shoes than the camera.
In these next photos, Leyland demonstrates how to turn an ordinary, everyday American t-shirt into the finest of middle-Eastern ladies' haute couture, using the arm hole to peer from behind her shroud.
Life's a Party when Leyland's around!!!
Of course, there are equally as many precious photos of Mr. Corey! Corbin came over today to play, and they were so cute together!

Here he is playing in his exersaucer, wearing an ugly, much-slobbered-upon bib and a sweet little Santa hat. I could just squeeze him to pieces. Hang on... I'll be right back... he's so cute I just gotta go steal some baby kisses..... Okay, I'm back. Don't you just want to kiss this little guy???

And now the final set of photos for your viewing pleasure: I told Leyland to stand beside Corey so I could take a picture of them, and this was the result. Isn't this sweet!! (Except poor Leyland has a terrible cold and her eyes and nose are all puffy. Still, the most beautiful little angels you ever saw! Right?????)
Thanks for looking at my sweet grandbabies!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree! (Wherefore Art Thou?)

Twas two weeks before Christmas
And all through the house,
Not a sign of the holidays,
(And thank goodness, no mouse!)

The toys were all strewn
In the middle of the floor,
The shoes were all piled
Beside the back door.

The babies were playing
Unaware as could be
That our tiny living room
Had no Christmas Tree!!

Grandma in jammies, scurrying about
Trying to make some paper cut-outs
To hang on the tree instead of the glass
That could easily break and cause a big mess.

It’s usually up by Thanksgiving night,
But this year our space is especially tight.
And two little hands, so curious and sweet
Would have a hard time not touching the treats.
No temptation have we placed in her way,
But the tree will go up in just a few days.

For Christmas can’t pass without dancing eyes
Watching the lights and feigning surprise.
Posing for pictures in front of the tree,
My little angels, so precious to me.

So though my windows are bare at this minute,
There will soon be a tree at the home of this Bennett.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I So Hate Goodbyes

Well, I haven't said goodbye to anyone yet, but this afternoon I took the plunge and resigned from my day job. It was gutwrenching for me. As I knew it would be. I'm terrible at goodbyes. I cry when I see strangers at the airport saying goodbye. So, of course, before I could get the words out of my mouth, I was in tears.

Those close to me know that my work schedule has been absolutely insane. I have gone through several different contract jobs or part-time jobs, trying to find a good combination with my day job at the ortho office. I have reached a place where the compensation factor is working well for me-- however, the hours required are just killing me. It's not so much the actual hours worked. I normally put in 12-13 hours a day, as I have done for most of the years since I was divorced in 1992. It's just that by the time I do the girl thing to get ready for work, travel to the office, take an hour for lunch, travel home after work, grab a quick shower, then start work by 6p or 7p, I'm still at my desk at 10p to 11p Mon thru Thurs. Then I work four to five hours on Saturdays, then six hours every other Sunday afternoon. I'm just tired. I'm overwhelmed. My health is suffering. My mental health is suffering. There is no time for anything. (Uncle Ricky would feel vindicated if he saw the unfolded laundry on my bed.) I've been out of water for two days and no time to go to Wal Mart for more. I'll squeeze the last of the toothpaste tomorrow. For many years I have focused more on being thankful for having a skill that allows me to work a second (or third) job from home for a pretty decent wage, and less on whining about how tough it is. And I am truly thankful, on so many levels. But it is tough.

I've been working part-time for the hospital since April. It has felt really good to be back into the mainstream of health care. I was concerned when I left the hospital that I would lose my edge, since my transcription focus would be exclusively orthopedics. Use it or lose it kind of thing. So, I've enjoyed getting back to multi-specialty and hospital transcription. A full-time opening has become available at the hospital, and after much consideration, I have accepted the position. I know this won't be a perfect solution to all that overwhelms me. There are further steps that I need to take in order to regain some control over the chaos that is my life. What this will allow, however, is more free time in which to tackle those tasks. I will still be working 10-hour days. I'll be paid based on the amount of work I produce, which means the time I'm not working, I'm not paid. No fingers on the keyboard = no money in my pocket. No more sending/reading e-mail on the job, no more chewing the fat with my co-workers. Shoot, I won't even get paid when I have to take a potty break any more. But the up side to this is that I'm pleased with my productivity rate, and though obviously, some days won't be as productive as others, I am optimistic that I can easily reap in 10 working hours what normally takes me 12 working hours. The beauty of this whole thing is that those ten hours will be compacted together, not spread out throughout the day and night. No travel time, no unpaid lunch hour, etc. After some schedule negotiation, it looks like this: Sundays- eight hours- 12:30p to 9:00p. (This allows me to go to church! AND watch Desperate Housewives!) [What a combination of benefits!] I'm currently helping to cover second shift priority on Mondays, so in order to make up for the two hours lacking on Sundays, I'll be working 11a to 11p on Mondays, allowing me to continue covering second shift priority. Then Tuesday through Thursday I'll be working 7a to 5:30p. That still hasn't sunk in yet. Whatever will I do from 5:30 till bedtime? Well, besides catch up on folding my laundry! I will be off on Fridays and Saturdays. Yipeeee!!! And I can work from home in my jammies.

Yes, I'm very excited about the change. But I'm also very sad to say goodbye to my current co-workers and my boss. He can be a grumpy old bear sometimes (but no worse than any of the other many grumpy old bear-doctors I've worked with through the years). I have enjoyed what I hope he also feels is a mutually good working relationship and personal rapport. It was very difficult today to tell him that I would be leaving. Of course, I'm just a body at a desk, and anyone can be trained to do most of my job. There is the inconvenience factor of finding and training a replacement, I know, but as soon as someone is trained he won't even miss me. I just always feel some insane sense of loyalty to an employer. I am so blessed that with every job I have ever left, it has been on good terms, and I am still on a hugging basis with all my former doctor-bear bosses. I am lucky. But there is still a part of me that feels obligated to stay the course. Today I had a court case, and the entire time I was sitting there, I was just wondering if the next person would really care as much as I do. If the next person would want our office represented in a concise, professional manner. If the next person will be from the old school like me, and realize that our work in a physician's office is not just about "what's in it for me", but how can we serve our patients and our physician. Will the next person understand that an ounce of kindness, no matter how grumpy I might be today, is not a reflection on me, but a reflection on the physician? I hope so. I guess I just want to think that maybe I might go a little extra distance. Maybe not a whole mile, but further than I have to sometimes. And I hope the next person will too. Okay, so I guess that sounds really conceited, and like I think I'm All That. Nah, I just have my own work ethic. Perfect? Absolutely not. I can goof off with the best of them. But I do have very strong feelings about how patients should be treated, and I hope that the next person who has to call people about their delinquent accounts will have a measure of compassion, and will treat them with respect.

And I must also admit that old control freak in me is rearing her ugly head. Now you all know how badly I hate numbers, and how I can hardly change out a 20 dollar bill with three fives and a ten... (told ya!) but I seem to have implemented an accounting system that (though it confuses even me sometimes), seems to serve its purpose. I worry that whoever follows me will not only think I'm the most anal person who ever lived, with all the steps involved in keeping track of patient accounts, but that somehow it will be discovered there was a much easier way of doing it. Ha! How in the world will I ever explain to someone "how to do it?" I will likely already be gone before someone is hired anyway. I suppose the best I can do is leave my phone number. And try not to be hurt when they just chunk it all away for a more efficient method. :-)

Okay, so I'm sitting in his office, sobbing my heart out, telling him that I'm leaving. No doubt it hurts me more than it will hurt anyone else. Why is that? I have so much to look forward to! I am delighted, though, that he said all the right (very kind and sweet) things, was very understanding and encouraging, and didn't laugh or scoff at my tears.

And though I am very excited about the possibility of doing something besides driving my car and sitting behind a desk from sunup till way past bedtime, I So Hate Goodbyes. It will be a difficult two weeks. Keep me in your prayers.

It's Official!!!

Last night was this season's presentation of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Did you watch? I was working, but I had the tv on in my office, and stopped every now and then to watch. This is one of my very favorite shows to watch during the holidays. For as far back as I can remember, it never seemed like it was "officially" Christmas until the show aired. Here's what Wickipedia says about the show: "A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) is the first of many prime-time animated TV specials based upon the popular comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz. It was produced and directed by former Warner Bros. and UPA animator Bill Meléndez, who also supplied the voice for the character of Snoopy. Initially sponsored by Coca-Cola, the special aired on CBS from its debut in 1965 through 2000, and has aired on ABC since 2001. For many years it aired only annually, but is now telecast at least twice during the Christmas season. The special has been honored with both an Emmy and Peabody award." A Charlie Brown Christmas is also one of CBS's most successful specials, airing annually more times on that network than even The Wizard of Oz."

Interesting trivia, huh? It's a wonder to me that the networks still allow it to be shown, what with it's timeless message about the birth of Jesus. I think it would be interesting to know how many people can quote the second chapter of Luke because Linus explained to Charlie Brown the true meaning of Christmas. I just love that part. That's where I learned it. I'll bet there are countless others as well. At any rate, now that Christmas is "officially" here, I just want to say... Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!!!!!!
Merry Christmas, Everyone!!!!!
May we always remember the words of Linus:
"That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!"

Monday, December 8, 2008

On a Positive Note (Pun Intended)

Now that you have read my list of B98.5’s Worst Christmas Songs Ever, and tolerated my complaining about the awful torture I endure daily at the office, I thought you might enjoy knowing that there is a side to me that doesn’t involve whining and complaining. There are actually some Radio Christmas Songs that I do enjoy hearing- songs that fill my heart with Christmas cheer. Most of them get very little air time on good ol’ B98.5, but occasionally I’ll hear one from my list. In no particular order, these are the Christmas songs that make me happy!!!
~Christmas Don't Be Late - Alvin & The Chipmunks
~Rockin Around The Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee or Amy Grant
~Little Drummer Boy – Vienna Boys Choir or Harry Simeone
~Sleigh Ride – Boston Pops
~White Christmas – Bing Crosby
~Oh Holy Night – Martina McBride or Celeine Dion
~Blue Christmas – Elvis
~Silent Night – Jewel
~Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms
~Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song) – Amy Grant
~Born in Bethlehem – Third Day
~Please Come Home For Christmas – The Eagles or Bon Jovi
~Star of Bethlehem – Emmylou Harris
~Carol of the Bells – Ray Connif Singers or The Four Seasons
~Hallelujah Chorus (Great for Christmas or Easter) – Handel
~The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole
~That Night – Truth
~Mary Did You Know? – Wynonna
~Wonderful Name – Unknown
~The First Noel - Mark Schultz
~Joseph's Lullaby - Mercy Me

AND as an added bonus, I'll provide you with my list of all-time favorite Christmas CDs/Albums! I know you are so excited!

~The Four Seasons Christmas Album (Literally. It is an album. From the 60s.)
~Amy Grant - Home For Christmas
~Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Christmas Eve And Other Stories
~Trans-Siberian Orchestra - The Christmas Attic
~Manheim Steamroller - Fresh Aire Christmas
~Kenny G - Miracles
~Martina McBride - White Christmas

There you have it. The Christmas songs that make me happy. Fa-la-la-la-laaaa, la-la-la-la!!! :-)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Whitney's Elfin Family

This is hilarious!!!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cotton Balls

After my rant in a previous post about the horrific radio station to which I am sentenced to listen, I thought I'd just start a little list. Well, actually I started two lists. The Most Horrible Christmas Songs On The Radio Of All Time, and Radio Christmas Songs I Actually Like. Well, guess which is the longest list??

B 98.5 Christmas Songs That Make My Ears Bleed
(These songs will be rated on the number of cotton balls needed to stop the bleeding)
~Sleigh Ride - The Carpenters OR Harry Connick Jr - 5 cotton balls
~Let It Snow - Harry Connick Jr OR Michael Buble - 5 cotton balls
~Baby It's Cold Outside Nick & Jessica - 5 cotton balls and a bottle of Pepto
~Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - Bruce Sprinsteen OR Michael Jackson - 4 cotton balls
~Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time - Paul McCartney - 4 cotton balls
~Silent Night- Christina Aguelera - 5 cotton balls
~Little St. Nick - Beach Boys - 4 cotton balls
~Last Christmas - Wham! - 3 cotton balls
~Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - Jessica Simpson - 5 cotton balls

And the Absolutely Worst Rendition Ever of a Christmas Song Cotton Ball Award goes to:

~Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Whitney Houston- The entire bag of cotton balls, three bottles of Pepto, and a IV dose of Dilantin for the seizure-like spasticity that overtakes me.

Agree? Disagree? Have songs of your own you'd like added to the list? Just leave a comment and I'll be happy to add your submissions to the list.

At least it’s Friday! Watch for the Radio Christmas Songs I Actually Like in a future post. Right now I’m off to find more cotton balls.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

On this day 23 years ago, a threshold was crossed that forever changed me. Change that meant everything was no longer about me, but about another person, whose charge I was given. I became a mother! Being Whitney's mom has been my most favorite thing in life (now closely rivaled with being grandma to her children!) and I am indeed blessed to have such a lovely daughter. That we have been so close throughout the years has been a delight, and an extra special blessing not enjoyed by very many moms and daughters.

Whitney, today we celebrate your special day. I hope it will be a wonderful day for you! You are so precious to me. My birthday wish for you is that you enjoy motherhood as much as I did. You are a wonderful mother and I admire your perseverence when the going gets tough with a 6-month-old and a 2-year-old. Your babies are blessed with having you for their mommy, and I am blessed to have you for my daughter. I hope you will feel blessed too. I love you! All the way around the world... and back again!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY WHITNEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

p.s. Happy Birthday to Eric too!! (I'll leave it to DJ to say all the mushy stuff to you! HaHa! I love you too, kiddo!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

And The Fat Lady Sang

And I'm not talking about me. The election process was completed yesterday, and I am happy that Saxby Chambliss was the winner of the senatorial seat from Georgia. Here again, I'm not absolutely crazy about him, but I sure didn't like that Jim Martin either. I'm deLIghted that there will be no more TV commercials and no more flyers in my mailbox. Honestly, I think they destroyed an entire forrest with all the cardboard they used to send out those flyers- flyers that went straight into the garbage. I must say this year's presidential election was very intriguing to me and I enjoyed studying up on the candidates and I really learned a lot. Yesterday I made a decision, though. When the Newsweek and Time magazines came to the office earlier in the week, I brought them to my office, as I have done for many months now. However, I decided that I'm done with the news for a while, and trying to follow politics so closely. I'll pick it back up after Christmas and try my best to remain an informed citizen (as we all should be). But right now I'm just too dang tired, and my to-do list is quite lengthy, so I'm going to give it a rest for a few weeks. Just thought you might like to know that. So for a while I'll just talk about my grandbabies and the holidays, and the terrible Christmas music that I am forced to hear while I'm at work. I know, you just can't wait to read all about it!!!! Have a great day!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Just Shoot Me (Revised)

Like most people, I’ve always loved Christmas. You could find me listening to Christmas music in July. I still love Christmas. And I still love Christmas music. However…. The radio station at work does this crazy thing. At noon on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, they flip a switch and play nothing but Christmas music until sometime after Santa returns to the North Pole. Oh yeah. 24/7. TWENty four SEven. Now, with a little imagination, that wouldn’t be so bad. I have enough Christmas music in my own personal music library that I’m sure we could go 24 hours without playing the same one twice. Nice music. Music that I enjoy. Oh, maybe we’d hear We Three Kings two or three times during that period, but one might be in old-fashioned four-part-harmony caroling style, one might be the mournful tones of a saxophone, and one from a full symphonic orchestra. Know what I mean? Not so with this radio station. I believe they have a bank of about 40 songs total, and they play them over and over. Every day. Multiple times a day. Until my ears bleed. There are maybe ten of the songs that I like, but after a few days, I don’t even want to hear those any more. But the ones that really kill me are the lounge lizard styles (Michael Bouble, Harry Connick Jr) and the R&B ones (Whitney Houston, Aaron Neville, Mariah Carey). I do declare… I would rather hear fingernails on a chalkboard than Whitney H. singing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. Ewww. (Yes, I’m saying ewww, but she also throws in a lot of “ooooooos” that sound like ewwww.) Honestly, I believe some of these artists try to see how many different notes they can put into one word. People: Read the notes! The word gets ONE NOTE. Sometimes maybe two. You do not have to cover the entire scale for every word you sing! ::okay, I'm getting off my soap box::

I’m truly not a scrooge, and I truly love Christmas. I truly love Christmas music, too, just not this station. Hopefully I’ll survive another Christmas in this office without shooting myself. In the meantime, with Harry Connick crooning "Let It Snow", I’m going to search for some cotton balls to stop the bleeding.
Edited to add: No need to shoot me now. I went and fixed my ownself some Christmas music that I like. I simply added 15 or so Christmas songs to my playlist and moved those to the top of the list. So if, like me, you are already a screaming maniac from all the icky Christmas music on the radio, feel free to click here, and provided you like the same thing I do, you can listen to something besides the radio. Now, if you don't like the same stuff I do, I will not be responsible for any shooting of your ownself. Just click it off and go on to a happier place, or create your own playlist at http://www.playlist.com/. I don't want your ears to bleed on account of me.

Monday, December 1, 2008

In A Nutshell

A Sunday School teacher decided to have her young class memorize one of the most quoted passages in the Bible; Psalm 23. She gave the youngsters a month to learn the chapter. Little Rick was excited about the task -- but, he justcouldn't remember the Psalm. After much practice, he could barely get past the first line. On the day that the kids were scheduled to recite the 23rd Psalm in front of the congregation, Ricky was so nervous when it was his turn, he stepped up to the microphone and said proudly, 'The Lord is my Shepherd, and that's all I need to know.'