Thursday, May 28, 2009

I just have a quick sec...

before I run up to read "Mr. Popper's Penguins" with Emma and put her to bed. (That's a fantastic book, btw, so if you haven't read it, you definitely need to!)

You know, when you have babies and toddlers, people always tell you, "Wait till they're teenagers." They'll run wild, drive us insane, make us wonder why we had children in the first place.

And, of course, there's all the angst. And the drama. As parents, we prepare ourselves for the manic ups and downs of the hormonal teen years.

What I failed to prepare myself for over the past 11 1/2 years was the angst that I would feel. I never gave it much thought that her problems would tear me up more than they do her. That her grades would make me want to tie her down and force her to actually study for the damn science test! That her friendship dramas would make me want to cry and pull her to me and protect her with my mama bear claws.

I need to distance myself a little, I know. I just don't know how. I don't know how to let her problems be her problems, not my own. How can a parent do that? How can a parent say, "Enough, already." I need to teach her to be self-sufficient and responsible, to give her advice, support and hugs at her whim, not my own.

But it's so hard! (Insert large, teenager sounding whine here. LOL)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Well, I did it!

I mustered all my confidence and paid an arm, a leg and quite possibly all my hair and teeth to register for a writer's conference!

Really, I am so completely excited. Yes, it was expensive, but it's three days of fantastic classes, networking, editors and agents! I'll be meeting with four agents one-on-one and one agent in a group setting. Guess I need to polish my pitching skills, huh?

Over this past long weekend, I spent two full days working on my book. Sunday, I got up at 5:30 am (I know!!) to write and didn't stop until just after 5pm that afternoon. (I even skipped church!) I didn't get up quite so early on Monday, but I did dedicate most of the day to focusing on the book.

Did I mention how great my family is to me? The girls gave me space and made lunch and dinner on Sunday. Scott took care of meals on Monday and almost all of the dishes that had accumulated. None of them mind that the house is a wreck or that I was mentally absent of a couple days. Hayley even came home from school on Monday and before she said anything else, asked "How's your book going?"

(Sadly, it was back to normal work on Tuesday and by the time I had a chance to work on the book in the evening, I was practically comatose. Maybe today will be different.

But it will only be different if I get my patootey off Delicious as Pie and jump back into the thrilling (not really) world of writing scripts for presentations!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The world did not end yesterday...

with all the potential and worrisome trauma that set its hat upon my surprisingly not yet grey head.

That certified letter from the "SD Dept of Rev" was actually from the South Dakota Dept. of Revenue and was actually something for Scott's work. Why it was addressed to me is a long and convoluted story which I won't bore you with.

But it had absolutely nothing to do with me or any potential payments I must make. It occurred to me after I picked up the letter at the post office (yes, I was there at exactly 9am!) that if it had been regarding those stocks, it would have come from the State of California, not the City of San Diego. Too bad I couldn't have thought of that earlier, right?

As for the additional taxes laden upon our former Michigan residents' heads... I could call and yell and scream all I want and it's not going to change. I'll still call, but I certainly won't expect anything.

I do plan, though, to write the local legislator. Why should I be penalized because I couldn't sell my house and had to leave it vacant while we followed a job in another state. We're certainly not the only people that have been hit with this ridiculous tax. The government is helping people in so many ways, why not suggest this one small change? You never know...

And the repairs needed on the house? We've had three contractors in this week, but haven't heard back from them yet. (I asked Scott just a minute ago if he'd gotten any emails from them. He replied that he was checking right then. A few moments later, I heard "Oh, that's not good." Naturally, I assumed he was talking about the house and promptly felt my heart jump into my throat. Nope. He was talking about something else entirely. I'm trying to see the humor in that little vignette. LOL)

Thanks for the positive thoughts and prayers since I posted yesterday. I appreciate the commiseration!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Deep Breath In.... Deep Breath Out...

Repeat as many times as it takes to come down from panic mode.

I've been breathing deeply for almost an hour now and I'm still oh so close to panic mode. "What's up?" you ask.

Two things...

I called our mortgage company today (Wells Fargo) to have an escrow assessment done. That's where they figure out how much money you need to put into your escrow account to pay taxes and insurance.

Last year, our payment went up about $100 or so. I wasn't expecting it, but it wasn't the end of the world. W.F. told me at that point to call back in May 09 to have them do another escrow analysis and my payment would probably go down.

Given that property values have dropped, I fully expected a lower payment when I called today.

What I did not expect was to be told that our payment is rising $350 a month!!!

Yup, you read correctly. The very nice rep told me that it sounded like a mistake and to call the tax assessor and figure it out.

Mistake? Nope. Apparently not. You see, when you live in the house you own, you are homesteading. And as a homesteader, you do not pay certain taxes. When you no longer homestead there, but still own, the city feels they have the right to jack your tax rates up significantly.

They raised our taxes a full 50%! Now instead of $4000/yr., we're paying $6,000! And here's the kicker... They've added that extra tax under the Rochester School District operating fund. I've checked around at other properties' taxes and they pay nothing for this fund. I, because I no longer live there and no longer have children even attending the district, have to pay a freaking $2000 a year!


Remember how I said there were two things I was panicking about? Here's the second...

I had to go into the office this morning, so I missed the postlady bringing me a certified letter. She left the obligatory peach-colored notice with the sender's name on it. "SD Dept. of Rev." Took both me and Scott a few minutes to figure that one out. San Diego Department of Revenue.

What on earth do they want with me?????

The only even remotely feasible thing we can think of is that a couple years ago, I sold some stock. I had lost track of the shares for a while and the State of CA contacted me since they had taken possession of it. Joy of joys, over the years I'd forgotten about it, the stock split and it was now worth $16,000!!!

As far as I know, everything was done properly on my end. CA lost the paperwork for a while so it took much longer than it should have to get the stocks to me. But eventually they did and I immediately sold them. (Heehee! Good thing I did, huh?)

Does this mysterious letter have anything to do with that? Am I going to have to pay money back? Or do they owe me money? (Wouldn't that be nice?) Maybe they have the wrong Kate D____.

And if it was really serious or somehow related to the stock thing, they'd use Kathryn instead of Kate, right? Or maybe the postlady, knowing I go by Kate, just put that down on the note instead of the Kathryn it says on the label.

I don't know. It could be anything. And I'm just going to have to wait till 9am tmro morning to find out what. That's when I can retrieve the "certified mail" from the post office.

Now combine those worries with the fact that our MI house seems to need some significant work done... I think I need to throw up.

Xanax, anyone?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My recent foray into new (to me) technologies...

is freaking me out.

I don't think I can do Facebook. It's too much. Too many options. Too many people. Too much info.

Seriously, I don't need to know when people scrub their toilets! I don't need everyone who sees my "wall" to read my comments to other people.

I like the photos. I've reconnected with some people and that's pretty darned cool. The rest? I just don't get it.

And today was the day I've been waiting months for! iPhone Day. Scott and I got our iPhones. And now I'm freaking out. It's too much. I don't know how to figure it all out. I don't have the time or the energy to sit down and really concentrate on personalizing it.

If you were here in the living room with me, you'd be enjoying the humor of the situation. Scott is sitting on one side of me, having a blast in setting up his phone. "It found me!" he just exclaimed. "It shows me in the house! Hey, it even shows me in the right side of the house!" (That is totally scary to me, btw, and I'm not even sure what he's talking about.)

And on the other side of me, about 2 feet away and getting pushed farther every so often... my iPhone.

I think I need to throw up. I don't even want to finish the chocolate cheesecake I let myself have tonight. That right there should tell you just how anxious I am.

So, delicious readers with iPhones of your own, give me advice. Tell me what to do. I have three days to return it, which I really don't want to do. It's ridiculous to be freaking out over a phone.

You know what the underlying issue is? I'm tired. Way too tired. Trying to work full time and do everything I did before in 40 fewer hours every week is just not possible. The iPhone, the digital savior I've been waiting so long for, is at this point just one more stress point that I have to deal with.

You know the iPhone commercials where they always say, "We have an app for that." Where's the app for helping stressed out people set up their phones in the first place?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Work is putting me to sleeeeeeep...

Maybe it's the post-lunch full/sleepy syndrome.

Maybe I'm just bored silly.

Maybe I should go upstairs and take a nap. (Oh, whoops. Did that thought just slip out?)

The constant call of a nap is a huge downside of working at home. So's the stash of chocolate. The EB (think, adults, think about what/who I'm talking about!) bought way too much. And since most of it didn't even make it into the you-know-what's, someone has to eat it, right?

But check this out! I just got up to get another one or two Kisses and I remembered the amazingly perfect red grapes I have in the fridge.

Yes, I did pass up chocolate for the grapes!

Pick your jaw up off the floor. It's true. See?

I'm off to enjoy my grapes. (If you were here, I'd even share with you.)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I Finally Succumbed...

I did it. I did what I flatly refused to do.

I joined FaceBook.

The opportunity for virtual bullying is just so great (as we've all heard about in MySpace) that I just didn't want to have any part of the whole virtual social networking thing.

But as a parent of a tween, I need to be aware of what's happening in the teen world. Secondhand knowledge isn't good enough. It's only a year or two before Hayley and her friends will be all over FaceBook and MySpace, so I figure I better give myself a headstart in figuring it all out!

Just glancing through it yesterday for a few minutes made me feel that I really will need a year or two to figure it out. There is just so much there to investigate and play around with.

I took a few minutes to scroll through my high school graduating class. I kept laughing! So many people have changed their names just a little -- Lisa became Leeza, Jana became Janae, etc. And there were so many people I'd completely forgotten about!

Now comes the part when I have to decide if I want to contact any of these people, like my best friend from elementary school. We'd fallen out by the time high school rolled around -- do I really want to reintroduce myself?

Ah, decisions, decisions...

So if any of you are on FB, let's become "friends"! *gag* (How dumb is that "friends" thing?! We're already friends with most of the people we'll chat regularly with. And if we don't regularly chat (or want to chat) with them, do we really consider them friends?)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

What exactly was he thinking?

Yesterday afternoon, I picked Hayley up from a play date. As we pulled up to the house, I saw Dad shuffling down the driveway, his only companion his walker.

Hayley and I looked at each other with eyebrows raised. What on earth is he doing? I asked her to take my purse inside while I checked in with Dad.

"Watcha doin', Dad?"
"Walking around the block," he replied as if this was a completely normal activity for him.
"Ok," I replied, more than a little confused. The man can barely make it from the car to the living room. Walking around the block? Not gonna happen.
"Can I come with you?"

And so we walked. Past three houses.
"Maybe we should drive," Dad breathed.
"Ok." Around the block? Whatever.

We turned around and made it back past one house.
"Maybe you should get the car."
"Sounds like a good idea, Dad."

I ran up ahead (thinking all the while how grateful I am for legs and feet that work well), hopped in the minivan and pulled up next to him. He opened the back door and started climbing oh-so-slowly in.
"Do you want to sit in the front, Dad?" What am I? A taxi driver?
Again, whatever.

Back behind the steering wheel, I asked, "Around the block?"
Huh? "Ok. Where do you want me to drive?"
"Of the subdivision?" I didn't have my purse, license, money or cell, but ok. LOL

So I drove to the main street.
"Turn left."
"Where are we going, Dad?"
No response.
"Go through the intersection."
"Which way should I park?" We were now in the parking lot of Fred Meyers.
"Left. In front of that sign." He points to a pink sign.

Now if you know my dad, you know exactly what I'm talking about... Baskin Robbins.

I pulled down an aisle to park and Dad said, completely easily and clearly, "There's a parking spot opening up right in front." I was kind of taken aback by the comprehensive sentence, but I finagled my way into the spot.

And so we had ice cream. At 5:30 pm. Never you mind that it was almost dinner time. Never you mind that I'd had a piece of Mom's left over birthday cake at 3:30 and was still full. Never you mind that Mom was probably worried and I had no way to call her. We had ice cream anyway. (FYI, I could not even finish my junior scoop. LOL!)

"You need anything at Freddie's while we're here?" I was still fishing for answers as to where he'd actually been heading in the first place.

So we took a walk into Freddie's. Made it as far as the customer service desk where all the Mother's Day flowers are. And the sweet man bought me a beautiful orchid! We paid and slowly made our way back to the car. Five minutes later, we pulled back in the driveway and Dad was just completely happy. He'd had an outing. He'd gotten ice cream. That's all he wanted.

But is that where he was going in the first place? He must have had some sort of destination in mind since he went into the back yard, then escaped out the side gate! We'll never know.

Monday, May 4, 2009

First week of full time work complete

It was challenging.

It was eye blurring.

It was headache inducing.

It was encouraging.

It was brain stimulating.

It was the prelude to a really great paycheck!

Now it's week 2. My parents are here from California, though, so working an 8 hour day is not particularly feasible. I thought about staying up late and getting up early to log in some extra time, but honestly? I need sleep. I'm *much* more fun to be around when I'm somewhat rested.

I guess I worked about an hour and a half today. Tomorrow I'll have to get more hours in since the boss (aka the husband) needs some presentation work by late afternoon. No problem. Not too much planned for the day except Dad's daily trip out for coffee and pastry. (I had the most delicious blueberry cheese danish this morning. Oh my gosh. It was heaven. And, yes, for those of you lifting your eyebrows in question of me actually willingly eating blueberries -- I assure you, I did. I have witnesses!)

At any rate, it is way too late now and I must crawl into my way comfy bed and read a few pages before falling asleep with the light on. Oh, that sound so good!

They are *so* their mama's daughters!

Hayley and Em started a game of Scrabble on Sunday afternoon. Perfect game for a blustery, rainy Spring day. They played happily for a few minutes, then... there was a cry of excitement! Hayley scored her very first bingo with the word "listings"!! (I wish I could remember how many points she got!)

For those of you not in the Scrabble know, a bingo is when you use all your letters in one play. It's a pretty big deal even for expert players, so when my 11 yr. old scored a bingo, we were so excited!

And the story gets better!

Just a few minutes later, Emma calls me over. "Mom, come look! Come look! Come look!" She was beaming -- there's just no other word for it! I looked at the board and she had scored a bingo, too! Yes, my 8 yr. old scored a bingo!! The word was "universe", btw, for which she earned 62 points!

Awesome, isn't it?