Saturday, January 31, 2009

Favorite Kid Quotes of the Week

Andi (now age 6!)


Juli (Andi's mom): We're going to see Erin Ann in a few minutes, so you will have to say goodbye to your friend.

Andi (to her friend): We're going to see my fairy godmother, so you have to go home soon.

Friend: You have a FAIRY godmother?

Andi: Not a REAL fairy. But she's a godmother, and a nice one, and she has a cat.

Friend: Okay.




Porter (now age 4!)
Aunt Erin (to his mother one the phone): Can I talk to Porter? I want to tell him happy birthday.
Natalie: We can try. (pause) Porter! Come talk to Aunt Erin on the phone. She wants to tell you happy birthday!
Porter: No! Not again! Don't make me do it!
****

Porter (practicing his alphabet): L is for elephant...

Friday, January 30, 2009

My Return to Writing!

It has been such a busy week (see below), but you knew that already. One of the things I was working on was a story for Meridian Magazine about the Nie Nie Story and Mindy. Much to my surprise they gave my story top billing!
It has been a really long time since I did any real writing. I hope you'll go over and check it out. I think I have the writing bug back. I may even return to writing professionally. We shall see.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Trying to Get Organized

I have a huge announcement to make.
My living room is clean.
So is my kitchen.
And in a few minutes, the oven will even be clean. (I have a massive fume headache to prove it.)

But my bedroom is a disaster.

Here's the thing. I have a fairly decent sized bedroom for such a small apartment. In it I have a queen size bed, dresser (that I refinished), lamp table, and this lovely antique bench that sits at the end of the bed. I love this bench. It serves no real purpose. You can't sit on it. It's just a pretty dust catcher.

It's also a clothes catcher.

Depending on the day it is a clean clothes catcher, other days it's a dirty clothes catcher. No matter the day, it's covered in clothes. I am starting to think there are more clothes on the bench than there are in my dresser.

And let's not forget I'm getting ready to move (in 21 days for those who are counting). I've been randomly piling, stacking, and in general just throwing things in my room and calling it "almost packing."

My room has never been THIS messy before.

In the meantime, I have a stack of forms to fill out by Monday, a full-time job, more freelance work to finish up, and a life to live. What's so important about Monday? That's the day my foster parenting classes begin. 8 hours a week for 4 weeks.


So I'm trying to get the little things out of the way. What am I missing? Anything else you can think of I need to do in the next 3 weeks?


Order Girl Scout Cookies
Hair Cut
Color my roots
Grocery shopping
Cancel cable
Cancel utilities
Order cable
Order utilities
Forward mail
Change blog template (again)
Find short-term roommate for new house
Take more clothes and junk to DI
Pick up cashier's check for rent
Get invited to a Super Bowl Party

Win $500 in free travel from CheapOair.com

(There are days when it amazes even me how many other places I can plug in a day!)

Want to win $500 in free travel? (sidenote, if you are a blood relative to me, you can't win. or if you are juli. the rest of you are eligible.)

In 200 words or less, tell us why you deserve to win $500 in free travel from CheapOair.com!

Leave your 200 words or less in the comments section of http://cheapoair.wordpress.com. All answers will be accepted, but special consideration will be given to meaningful, interesting, or humorous stories. Be creative and inventive! Where would you go? Why would you go there? Who would you take with you? And why should we give you $500 to make that happen?

Remember, 200 words or less.

Contest begins at 9:00 a.m. EST, January 26, 2009 and runs until 11:59 p.m. February 1, 2009. Winners will be announced on Monday, February 2, 2009 on the cheapoair.wordpress.com blog.Winner will receive a $500 travel gift certificate from CheapOair.com.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mindy, Nie, and Me


Today we take a departure from the usual blogging activities to welcome several new guests and readers over. I guest blogged today on Mindy Gledhill's blog. And as a result, I'm expecting a few new visitors over here today. And they are here to find out more about my friendship with Mindy, and why I care about "Nie."
Three years ago I was going through a rough spot. I had just suffered a personal heartache I can't explain here. My testimony was shaken to the core and I convinced myself to take a break from religion. I was a few weeks into this decision someone encouraged me to attend a musical performance. I was told it was the Prophet Joseph's life and ministry set to country music. My first instinct was, “Um, NO!” But something stirred inside me to get up and go anyway. That simple decision in the midst of heartache has made a tremendous difference in the next 3 years.
I attended a performance of what I now call the “Joseph Show.” My life was changed. My broken heart was touched. I fell in love with every song that I heard. Specifically a beautiful song about Emma Smith and her life gave me new hope about my personal heartbreak. If Emma could endure so much, who was I to question so many things when I had endured so little in comparison?
But what really happened that day was the most distinct feeling I left with that this was not the end of my relationship with this music.
I soon bought the CD of “Joseph Show,” more commonly known as the Nashville Tribute to the Prophet. I discovered that the soloist I had heard was not the singer on the CD. The beautiful voice on the CD belonged to Mindy Gledhill. It was one of the most beautiful songs and voices I had ever heard.
One year later I invited the “Joseph Show” to come back to the DC area to perform for a conference I was planning. Mindy did not perform with them there either. But this began my friendship with the band.
Fast forward one year.
I was now living in Utah, working for a marketing consulting agency. I needed to bring in new clients to work with. And my first thoughts went back to the boys in the band that performed the Joseph Show. I knew they were trying to make it in their own band. A little band we now know and love as Due West. (first time blog readers, please see the post below this one!) I called them up and we arranged for me to meet them at a performance of the Joseph Show in St George. That was when I discovered there was another CD out by this same talented group of people about the pioneer trek. I bought it. And drove to St George.
That was the first time I heard Mindy perform live. The first time I had ever seen her. And immediately I wanted to be her friend.
But I wouldn't meet her for another 5 months.
Fast forward five months to the day my life fell apart. A dozen evil forces combined to throw off all my plans and make me doubt everything. EVERYTHING. And the band was doing a show in Heber. Just getting the 30 minutes up the road to their show was going to be a serious hardship. Car troubles, bank troubles, and extreme depression were going to hold me back.
I'll admit it. I cried. And then I prayed. And then, out of the blue, everything came together so I could go. And I drove up to the show, looking for those beautiful songs from the Joseph Show and the Trek Show to lift up my heart.
And that was where I met Mindy.
It was only a few days later that I would buy her CD and discover the rest of her music. It was minutes after I put her CD, “Feather in the Wind” into my car CD player and realize I didn't just like Mindy, I adored her.
As soon as I heard, “Hard,” I knew I wanted to work with Mindy, and that I wanted to help a million more people discover her music too. Her words, “Its not that I don't want to give you my heart, it's just hard,” could not have described the state of my willing, but very broken heart better. My heart had been through so much I just didn't know how I could ever trust anyone ever again. I had lost my job, not once, but THREE TIMES in one year. And even though I knew it had never been my fault in this bad economy that I had lost my job, I still just didn't trust myself. I knew I was fairly good in my field, but that didn't change the fact that getting up and trying again was just not going to happen easily.
Enter Nie.
In spite of my addiction to blogging and reading blogs, I had never heard of Nie until after the plane crash. Suddenly she was everywhere. Half the blogs I read were talking about her, raising funds for her, or sharing news regarding her. And I had no idea who she was.
So I ignored it every time I saw her name. Because really, who was she to me? I had my own troubles. I didn't need to be bogged down in someone else's tragedies too.
By then I was working with Mindy to raise her online publicity. (For instance, starting her blogging. You can thank me for that later.) Mindy told me about the concert she was putting on to raise money for Nie, and asked me to help promote the concert.
I finally sat down and started reading.
And crying.
And praying for forgiveness.
Who was I to focus so much on my own troubles and ignore the suffering of others?
I read Nie's blog from beginning to end. I realized Nie's uplifting words and attitude were exactly what I needed. What had originally put me off about her became exactly what drew me to her. She's a “mommy blogger,” and I'm a single girl. What did I have to gain from this woman talking about how she loved her perfect husband and her darling children? Before I actually got to “know” her, I just thought she was rubbing it in that I was single and childless.
But with my broken heart and contrite spirit I discovered I had a lot to learn from her. No matter the situation she found a positive way to see it. My favorite post? “NieNie Get Your Gun.” 
What? Her post about crime in her neighborhood isn't your favorite post ever? Let me remind you I'm the girl who just admitted that it was a country music album that softened my heart back to religion. And that I met Mindy in an rodeo rink in cow town Heber. So yes, a mommy blogger who talks about love, and little girls, and her perfect husband, broke through to me when she talked about her Baby Glock. And yes, it wasn't all that long ago I worked for a gun company.
And then, for the first time in a very long time, I began to feel again. Her life had touched so many other lives for good. Her words and actions inspired thousands to come to her support.
I put my heart into supporting Mindy's concert. No matter what I did, I was certain I wasn't doing the right thing, or doing enough. I read blog after blog as Nie's readers around the WORLD told their stories about her, and she affected their lives.
The day I read on Nie's sister's (C Jane) blog that Nie was returning to her blog I called my mother to share the news. We were both so happy for this woman we had never met.
And now here I am. I am convinced that many different things conspired to bring me here. To ask you for your support by putting the announcement of the Love for Nie concert on your blog or Facebook page. Share it with your ward email list. Email your sisters and friends. Buy a ticket and meet me there.
But mostly to remind you that one person, one day, one simple action, can change everything. It can make or break your heart. Give you courage to try again. Or help you feel again. Like it did me.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

We're Live On-Air With DUE WEST!

For the past week or so my favorite Due West boys were here in Utah playing gigs up at the Sundance Film Festival. Thanks to my crazy life I wasn't able to make it up there to see them. This was disappointing both for me and "Little." But we found out there would be one last chance to see them on Friday morning- but only if Little could miss the first hour or so of school. Conveniently, her mother and I both agreed that our little straight-A student could handle missing school for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

What was the opportunity?

Hanging with Due West at the radio station while they did a few live numbers on the air!
It must also be said we had the complete enjoyment and pleasure of partaking of the breakfast burritos provided by Bella's Mexican Restaurant! Whenever Due West shows up on the Eagle, Bella's makes the trip down from Ogden to feed our boys! We love Bella's!
It was fun to see the boys. They greeted Little just like she's one of the regular entourage and totally normal to be hanging out with them. She loved it. LOVED.IT.
She started out a little shy, hanging out on the outside of the studio glass. The show was loudly piped into the main lobby where we could hear everything just fine. The on-air talent/DJ's came out and talked quite a bit with us. Little was her darling usual self, perfectly mannered, and well-behaved. It's so great to be able to take her out and know she'll never embarrass me. It makes it that much more fun to share big things like this with her.
Due West talked a bunch, and sang a couple numbers on the air. As usual, they sounded fantastic. During a commercial break either Tim or Matt told the show host, Keith Stubbs, about how Due West had serenaded Little at her school. Keith loved the story and told them to tell it on the air.
So what happened next?
(This is possibly the least flattering picture of Little ever. Don't hold it against her. My camera(s) suck.)
Happiest. Girl. Ever.
That's what happened.
Due West told the story of serenading her in her school, on-air, and then said, "Little, this is for you!" And sang her FAVORITE song on the show! (Even though several callers had just called in asking for other songs.)
I think my favorite part of the whole experience was just how chill Little was about the whole thing. She just hung out, watched everything, and got comfortable just like she hangs out with bands at radio stations all the time.
(And then in the car on the way to school she "practiced" what she was going to say to her classmates when they asked where she had been all morning. After all, she is still 11 years old.)

Return To Erin Mountain

Don't ask me what the title of this post means. I was trying to be creative and inventive in how I say that by getting back to a more chaotic lifestyle, I'm getting back to being me. And something about how climbing huge mountains of work each day. Or something like that. But that made for a really long post title, so it just came out, "Return to Erin Mountain."
I don't know why.
So things are crazy again. In a very good way!
I had my first intake interview with the foster care system. I was deemed "ideal and perfect" for fostering! Now I start taking classes - next week- for four weeks! 32 hours in how to be a foster parent.
Aye yi yi.
And then we do the home inspection, criminal investigation, and fill out hundreds of pages of paperwork. But that's okay. I'm ready for it.
Speaking of these children I don't yet have, I found a home for them to live in today. In the post below I called it the Plan E house. Ignore what I said before. I still don't like the yard, but I love the house. And that's all that matters. It feels like a good place for "us" to be.
In other news, I've been given the chance to do some more writing again. I miss writing. I miss using that side of my brain. It feels good.
Oh and apparently not everyone knows what the significance of the happy dance post is. Sometimes when good things happen I am not always at liberty to share the details. But I want to express my happiness. So I post a happy dance. This week I will only share this detail on the matter. It involved the Cute Blushing Boy. And how we smiled so much my face hurts.
I was worried about how I was going to mentally and emotionally face another winter. But so far, I'd have to say, I'm happy. I'm busy. I'm working hard. And I like it.
Now, if someone could please contact me who understands HTML and can do me a little favor, I'd greatly appreciate it.
Thanks.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Return of the Happy Dance- Awww Yeah!




"Putcher Hands Up!"

I think I just got Wooted.

 
A few days ago my mother and I were discussing the size of the house I wanted to rent. She pointed out I would have a lot of work ahead of me to clean and vacuum such a big house. My reply? "Ooh, I can finally justify getting a Roomba!" 
Later that same day I put up the same thought on Twitter. You can even see where I said it right here.

So today when I saw the Woot was a Roomba, I was pleasantly surprised. Although, I am saving up for the deposit on the house still, and therefore, I can't afford a Roomba quite yet. (These foster kids I don't have yet are getting very expensive I tell you!) But I love to read the humorous Woot product descriptions, so I read it anyway, knowing I wasn't buying.

And then I saw my name. And all I thought was, "Oh wow, I wonder what kind of coding they did to put people's twitter names on their page like that?"

A minute later I got an email from someone saying, "Hey, you might want to check out Woot today."

I replied, "Yeah, I saw the Roomba, but I can't buy one quite yet."

But then I remembered, he doesn't know I want a Roomba. Or does he?

So I sent another friend a link to Woot, and asked them what they saw. She doesn't have a Twitter account, so I was curious what name would appear for her.

But she saw my name.

So I asked another friend to look, but didn't send her the link.

And she saw my name too.

And then I remembered what I twittered.

And holy canoli, Batman.

I think I just got Wooted. 

Do you think they would give me a free Roomba for using my name like that? (sidenote, since midnight I have had an unprecedented 17 new followers on Twitter. Coincidence? I think not.)

After all, the Roomba would be going to a good cause! My life with foster children budget is not going to be what you may call extravagant!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Quick Update

Thank you to everyone who left me encouraging comments about fostering and even about dating. I appreciate them all. I'm still several months away from being approved and getting kids. But it is still something that I think about regulary and obsessively. Your support means a lot.

On the housing front!
I applied for the beautiful big house that I was hoping for. And I even got approved for it. But they are just going to "hold" my application to the side for a while, cause they are hoping someone else will come along and want it sooner. I can't move till mid-February, and they claim to not have the "luxury" of waiting that long to find a renter.
How they plan to find a renter with nothing more than a sign in the window and without advertising it anywhere is beyond me. But I suppose that works to my advantage, right?
So I've moved on to the Plan D house. Oh yes, Plan D. I've gone through that many houses in the last 3 weeks! I placed a call to Plan D this afternoon, and I'm just waiting for the phone to ring. Again.
There is a Plan E house as well. It's identical to the Plan C house (the one I lost today), except it is on a private drive, and faces sideways, and is north facing, and this is Utah where long driveways that face north are a huge nightmare because of the snow, and costs $200/mo more than Plan C does. So really, I should just cross it off of my list. But I love the floor plan and space, so it's hard to walk away from.
The real question for me at this point is if Plan C is still available in 3 weeks do I still take it? I love the house. Yes, the management company makes me mad. But I love the stinking house! If I could buy it, I would! I love it that much.

I don't know what I'm going to do.

Oh, but I am going to ask you all to please help spread the word about the Love for Nie benefit concert. If you are a fan or supporter of this cause, can you please post the picture and details on your own blogs or Facebook?? THANK YOU!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Foster Parenting, Dating, and Whatever Else I Feel Like Saying

Thank you to those of you who figured out that yesterday's "day in history" post was a joking reference to my birthday. Or the anniversary of my 29th birthday, if you must.

Well, the application has been turned in on the house I want. There is a good chance I won't get the house because they don't like my proposed move-in date (they are hoping to find someone to move in sooner than that), and they don't like my cat on their brand new carpets. But I went ahead and applied anyway. So now we just sit and wait and hope for the best.

And sit around and think about all the other things going on!

Like foster parenting.

I find myself constantly having to explain this, so I'll put it on the blog one more time.

My personal reasons for becoming a foster parent isn't so much that I want to be a mommy. In fact, that's only a very small portion of it at all. So small that it wasn't my original intentions, but something I came to realize would be a by-product of it all, and I realize then that I might enjoy that too. My real intention is to provide a good home to teenage girls that would otherwise be in a group home.

I was talking to my sister yesterday about a family she met that had their own children and took in a family of foster children. There were 2 younger children, and a teenage boy. The boy was very used to taking care of his siblings and being the parent in their family. This did not go over well with the new foster parents who wanted to be mommy and daddy. They didn't like this boy being the parent.

So they sent him away, and kept the 2 younger children. The older brother now lives in a boys' home.

Did you know--
(statistics from the UtahFosterCare.org website)
  • National studies have shown that when children without a permanent placement reach eighteen and leave foster care, within 12-18 months:

    40% will not have completed high school;
    50% will be unemployed;
    33% will be on public assistance.


    Studies show that 40% of these young people will experience homelessness at least once before reaching the age of 22. They are at extreme risk of poverty, victimization, and criminal involvement, illness, early childbearing, and low educational attainment. They are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population and twice as likely as the general population to be incarcerated.

So essentially this family who didn't want the trouble of a 14 year old boy just packed him up and sent him down a very scary road with little to no future.

And that is what I want to be a foster parent for. I'm hoping to be there to save at least 1 girl from the list of statistics above. Who better to prepare a teenage girl for the world beyond her 18th birthday than a single woman who takes care of herself?

I am not looking to be "mommy" to these children. I am hoping to give them a home to help prepare them for the future, give them the skills they need, and keep them safe and healthy until the state turns them out. I respect and understand that these girls have most likely been forced into taking care of themselves, their junkie parents (most children in the system are there because of junkie parents), and their siblings. But they were also most likely not provided with a good role model or the skills to take care of themselves. They had to figure it out. If nothing else, these kids are fighters, for better or worse.

So now you know why I want to do this and what I hope to provide and get back from this. But yet, I still keep getting questions and references to whether or not I will ever want to get married.

Um... I didn't know that was any of your business.

But sure, why not answer that too?

I am now a 34 yr old single woman. I've been dating for 18 years. And if memory serves me right, I've been boy-crazy for 24 years. And I'm a little over it, quite frankly. I'm ready to move on to other phases and experiences in my life where whether or not I have a date is not the defining detail. I'd like to do more with my life than just date. I'd like to provide a good, safe home for a girl. I'd like to write some more books and maybe a screenplay. I'd like to keep making notable accomplishments in marketing. I'd like to be known for my good works, and not as the single girl.

Does all of that mean I am no longer interested in getting married and/or dating? No. I've been boy-crazy for 24 years. That's a pretty hard habit to break. If a guy comes along that actually strikes my fancy, I'm sure I'll do what I've always done- crush on him, make a fool of myself, and yet never get asked out by him. Thankfully, this ridiculous cycle seems to happen less and less. Mostly because guys that strike my fancy are getting farther and further between.

So there you have it. Not that it was any of your business in the first place.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

On This Day in History

1706 Statesman and inventor Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston.
1806 Thomas Jefferson's daughter, Martha, gave birth to James Madison Randolph, the first child born in the White House.

1893 Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th president of the United States, died in Fremont, Ohio, at age 70.

1899 Gangster Al Capone was born in Brooklyn, N.Y.

1945 Soviet and Polish forces liberated Warsaw during World War II.

1945 Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, credited with saving tens of thousands of Jews, disappeared in Hungary while in Soviet custody.

1946 The United Nations Security Council held its first meeting.

1961 In his farewell address, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against the rise of "the military-industrial complex."

1966 - A B-52 carrying four H-bombs collided with a refuelling tanker. The bombs were released and eight crewmembers were killed.

1975 The first-born daughter of Maurice and Alicia McBride was born in Washington, DC.

1977 Convicted murderer Gary Gilmore was shot by a firing squad at Utah State Prison in the first U.S. execution in a decade.

1984 The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the private use of home video cassette recorders to tape TV programs did not violate federal copyright laws.

1991 - Coalition air strikes began against Iraq after negotiations failed to get Iraq to retreat from the country of Kuwait.

1992 - An IRA bomb, placed next to a remote country road in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, killed seven building workers and injured seven others.

1994 - The Northridge earthquake rocked Los Angeles, CA, registering a 6.7 on the Richter Scale. At least 61 people were killed and about $20 billion in damage was caused.

1995 - More than 6,000 people were killed when an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 devastated the city of Kobe, Japan.

1995 A magnitude 7.2 earthquake devastated the city of Kobe, Japan; more than 6,000 people were killed.

1997 A court in Ireland granted the first divorce in the Roman Catholic country's history.

1998 President Bill Clinton became the first U.S. president to testify as a defendant in a criminal or civil suit when he answered questions from lawyers for Paula Jones, who had accused Clinton of sexual harassment.

2001 Faced with an electricity crisis, California used rolling blackouts to cut off power to hundreds of thousands of people.

2001 - Congo's President Laurent Kabila was shot and killed during a coup attempt. Congolese officials temporarily placed Kabila's son in charge of the government.

2001 - The director of Palestinian TV, Hisham Miki, was killed at a restaurant when three masked gunmen walked up to his table and shot him more than 10 times.

2006 The Supreme Court protected Oregon's assisted-suicide law, ruling that doctors there who helped terminally ill patients die could not be arrested under federal drug laws.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Decision Time

You know how I suck at making big decisions? Oh, you don't? Well, I do. I'm incapable of making large decisions, particularly financial ones.

Which is why house hunting is nearly crippling for me!

This time I'm not just moving for me and trying to find a fun apartment that fits into my budget. No, this time the budget isn't the big detail. This time it is knowing that the right house is a key detail in my overall master plan. The plan that includes becoming a foster parent, and picking the right house out for that. And this time I need to pick out a home that will also be comfortable and appropriate for working from home full-time.

Oh how my life has changed. When I moved to Murray last year I picked out my current apartment under pretty much worst circumstances ever. Remember how I had 30 kidney stones, spent half my life stoned on Lortab, and then got the flu and spent a day in the emergency room? Yeah, I picked my apartment out the next day. I'm still convinced I could have fought my way out of the lease because I was under no condition to be signing legal documents that day.

All that mattered to me last year was that I found a place with a dishwasher, washer/dryer, and it took pets. I won't even go into how many different ways that went wrong later. But whatever.

This year is just different. I'm trying to find the right house for me, an office, plus foster kids. But what if for some crazy reason the State decides I'm not fit to be a foster parent? And I suddenly have a 4 bedroom house just for me?? And I'm living in a very family-ish neighborhood? Will I still be happy in my house alone?

Oh and the lease is for 18 months, not just 6 or 12.

Also, it should be mentioned, I'm pretty sure I have a non-stop supply of company and short-term visitors coming (if I have the right house for them).

And you know how I love to entertain, right? I haven't been able to entertain in over a year, and for me, that's just wrong! That is what I love most about this house. It is perfect for entertaining.

So cross your fingers, pray, and send happy thoughts into the Universe for me. I want this house, dangit, no matter how crazy I would have to be to do it!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Confessions of a Random Nature

Confessions of a random nature:

1. I've never really understood how life vests work.Maybe that's because I've never found a life vest that comfortably fits.

2. Despite taking accelerated classes in English, history, and music in high school, I also took remedial chemistry. When I say my brain just can't do science, I really mean it.

3. I'm addicted to the TV shows LOST and Battlestar Galactica. I'm considering not watching American Idol this season because I'm too busy to have that many addictions. (Because I'm also addicted to House, Chuck, Bones, and Pushing Daisies.)

4. I have yet again managed to give myself so many outside projects that I can't decide where to start. And therefore, I do nothing.

5. I still have a crush on the Cute Blushing Boy in spite of the fact that he hasn't given me much to work with lately.

6. I have serious writer's block tonight, which is not good considering how many things I should be working on.

7. I'm also addicted to Scrabble on Facebook.

8. Today I had a huge wake up call. In a conversation with a cousin I realized I had lost focus on some very important things.

9. I don't think I have ever woken up happy or without a few curse words thrown at my alarm clock first.

10. Today (and most days) I spent 14 hours online. I got paid for about 10 of those hours.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's All About Family

Without going into much detail, I'll just say that over the last few days I've really started to understand that in the end, it's all about family. And I'm grateful for the family I got!
They may drive you crazy, and they may make you cry. But it's only because you love them.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A few more rants and complaints

Last night I was doing absolutely nothing unusual on my computer when suddenly got the blue screen of death. This would be my brand new computer I bought at Black Friday just 7 weeks ago. And now suddenly my laptop is on its way back to HP to be replaced. My brand fricking new computer is getting replaced. Why? "Bad series number." That's what they told me. HP knows full well they manufactured a defective series of computers. They knew I owned one, they even knew my address and phone number when I called. And yet they were not proactive about contacting the customers to get these problems fixed. No, they wait until we have our documents, music, and photographs on our computers, and then let us just them lose it all when our computers inevitably crash.
Needless to say I am pissed.
Hopefully my old dinosaur of a laptop (that has major issues, which is why i bought the new laptop in the first place) will hold up until the new computer arrives in 7-9 business days. Let's not forget that my full-time job and my freelance work all depend on me having a laptop!

Now for my next rant.
The housing market in Utah (and everywhere) royally sucks right now (no matter what the realtor assn commercials say). Houses are losing value and not selling everywhere you look. This had had an interesting effect on the rental market. First it means that there are a lot of people in danger of losing their homes, or can't afford their payments, who are now attempting to rent out their homes. It also means that there are a lot of investor/speculator homes that are having trouble getting flipped and resold or rented out. Which means there are a larger than usual number of homes for rent available. There's also an interesting scenario playing out in the corporate owned apartment complexes. Those rentals are being heavily affected by the bad economy, and are raising their rent (but then again, don't they always?).
My lease is up in a few weeks. I just got the notice that my rent will be going up a mere $90 if I choose to stay. If I choose to go month to month, it goes up $160. I have no interest in staying and I have been actively looking for a new home. I currently live in a 1 bedroom, 600 sq ft apartment, with some decent amenities. For the amount my landlord wants me to pay on the month-to-month rent, I could also rent a 3 bedroom, 2 car garage, 2000 sq ft home with a nice fenced in yard. Hmm.
I have looked around and narrowed in on a few houses that I really like. I have my heart set on one house that I have checked out and met with the owner about. Last week I told him I was 90% certain I wanted it, and to not give it to anyone else without talking to me first. On Tuesday I called him and left a message saying I wanted to talk about a move-in date. He didn't call back. So on Wednesday I called again, but didn't leave a message. I called again on Thursday and left a message. He still hasn't called back.
Grr...
So I decided it was time to start exploring my backup options. There are 3 homes in the same neighborhood as the house I really want that are all managed by the same company. House A is a small 2 br, no basement, 2 car garage, roughly 1200 sq ft for X+$200. House B is 4 bedrooms, unfinished basement, 2 car garage, 2000 sq ft for X+$100. And House C? 3 bedrooms, 2 car garage, unfinished basement, 2000 sq ft, for X.
Makes no sense, right?
Oh and all 3 houses (4 houses if you count the first house I want) have been on the rental market since before Thanksgiving.
So I call the management agency about the 3 houses. I am interested in Houses B and C, but not so much in House A. The manager was a total butt!! First, he gives me this whole runaround about how if I'm not looking to move until Feb 20th than I should wait and not call him till Feb 10th because "his houses are moving really fast, and they won't be on the market that long." UM NOT THAT LONG?? Just since November!
And let's not forget the part where there are 17 houses either for sale or for rent in this fairly small neighborhood. Trust me, the market is in my favor, NOT his!
So I try to explain to him that I want a house and I am willing to come over and pay him a deposit on the house I want today.
He still says no, that these houses are going to move quickly and he's not going to wait till February for me.
I also pointed out that I have to turn in my 30 days notice to my landlord and I want to have a place secured before I do that. He told me that was "my problem" and he couldn't help me there. And to call back Feb 10.
I just hung up I was so annoyed.
Seriously, in this market can a landlord really afford to turn away a customer?? He has 3 houses (at least) in one neighborhood that have been on the rental market for at least 7 weeks and he's going to turn away a customer?? I can understand that he's hoping to find a renter sooner rather than later, but isn't money in hand better than money you may never get otherwise??

Friday, January 09, 2009

Adventures in Sleepwalking

My first undeniable sleepwalking experience was when I was 12 years old. I can still remember that night in a strange, dream-like way. I had been babysitting next door and it was my first post-midnight babysitting job. I wrote a letter to a friend while I was there. (Back in the days when we still hand wrote and mailed letters.) I came home and went to bed, excited to be flying out of town the next day. Shortly after going to bed and falling asleep, I got up, put on shoes, found the letter, walked out of the house, went to the neighbor's mailbox, put the letter in, and even put the flag up. I then went to the house I had been babysitting at and knocked on their door. They didn't answer. I went back to our house, but couldn't get in because the door had locked behind me. So I opened up our garage door (which apparently wasn't locked), and went to sleep on the huge 20 ft trampoline that was in there. (We had just moved and didn't have a fence yet, so we couldn't leave the tramp in the yard at night.) At some point in all of this, my commotion woke up my parents, who somehow just *knew* I was sleepwalking, although I had never done it before. They found me and put me back in my bed.
I can remember it all in a strange, unreal way. I can remember the thoughts going through my head. I can remember it more vividly and distinctly than many of my awake experiences from that age.
I've sleptwalked many more times throughout my life. I can remember one time at age 12 or 13, being at Girls Camp and suddenly feeling this strange need to get out of bed, put on a raincoat, and go sit outside.
But most of my sleepwalking experiences I don't recall. They come as interesting surprises in the morning. One of my favorite ones was just after grad school back in Texas. I had my own bathroom off of my bedroom. (A luxury for a poor grad student to say the least.) I also had this horrible old metal desk that was missing half a leg. Since I wasn't in school at that time, I was propping up the desk with several of my huge textbooks. I woke up one morning to find the desk totally toppled over, all of the junk on top of it spilled to the floor, and the textbooks missing. I found the books shortly after that in the shower. Thankfully they were still dry and undamaged.Unlike the babysitting/trampoline story, I have no memory of doing that whatsoever.
So when I woke up this morning to find a few things out of place I knew immediately I had been sleepwalking again.
I wasn't feeling so hot last night when I went to bed. I went to sleep a little earlier than usual with the help of a heavy night-time cold medicine. I remember distinctly going to bed in my sweatpants because I have flannel sheets, and fleece pants and flannel don't mix well (you get stuck on the sheets!). I also know that I for sure went to sleep with my good Kleenex box right next to me, because I had been dealing with a several hour nosebleed yesterday. (Another ailment I've dealt with my whole life.) And I am pretty darn sure my thermostat was set at a very normal temperature. Oh, and I NEVER sleep with socks on.
But when I woke up this morning I first realized I wasn't wearing my pajamas anymore. And yet, I was boiling hot. I first went to the thermostat to find it pushed up as high as it would go. 90 degrees in here! Whoa! Next, I realized I was wearing socks. Even stranger, socks that matched. (Something I don't even bother doing when I'm awake usually!) I went over to make my bed and realized my Kleenex were missing, and that inside the covers were several cat toys. (It is common for me to wake up and find my kitten has placed some by me in my sleep. But never before have I found them in my bed with me.) It would be several hours before I would accidentally find that I had hidden the Kleenex behind my mini-filing cabinet in my bedroom. My bedside lamp was unplugged at the wall. And well, it has been a full day now and I still can't find where I hid the cat's water dish. Oh and the (stale) cake that was in the microwave was in the trash. Apparently I was pretty busy last night.
Sidenote- one of the first things I do after I discover I have been sleepwalking again is check the outgoing calls on my phone and the sent file for ALL of my email accounts. So far I have never unconsciously sent an email or called someone. THANK GOODNESS. I can only fear what my unconscious self may choose to say in the middle of the night. 

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

More Amusing Conversations With My Favorite Kids

On the phone tonight:
erinannie: Are you coming to my birthday party next week?
6 yr old Andi: Will Bosephus be there?
erinannie: I guess you can see the cat if you come.
Andi: Ok, if I can sit by him.


 ***

Little (age 11): Did I tell you I can't sing the song I wrote for the Rock Star Competition? (a fun after school activity she really really wants to participate in)
erinannie: No! How come?
Little: Because Mean Girl* says we're not allowed to sing any songs with questionable lyrics.
erinannie (stunned and shocked): WHAT? Your song doesn't have any questionable lyrics!
Little: The judges won't know it. They've never heard it before.
erinannie: Right, which is why you should sing it. You'll get extra points for doing your own song!
Little: But, Erin, Mean Girl said no questionable lyrics.
erinannie: There are no questionable lyrics in that song!
Little: But they don't know it!
erinannie (long pause): Wait, what do you think "questionable lyrics" means?
Little: A song they don't know.
erinannie (laughing in spite of herself): NO! That's not what it means! "Questionable lyrics" means words that are objectionable or offensive. Like cuss words, or words that kids should not use or hear. Your song is perfectly clean and good. It's okay!
Little (relieved): Oh. (pause) So Mean Girl was wrong?
erinannie:Yes.
Little: I can't wait to tell her!!

*We don't like Mean Girl. She's a bit of a bully.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Dismissed Without Prejudice

I wish I had good news to share. I wish instead of trying to explain the very stupid judgment that was handed down today I was posting the best happy dance video ever. But I'm not.
Small Claims Court was very interesting. My friend and former co-worker, Sara, was there with me. We heard cases from someone who parked in a handicapped spot in her apartment complex and got towed, but thinks the complex should pay for it because there wasn't enough parking (she lost), to a boyfriend and girlfriend fighting it out over who owes who what. The judge seemed very reasonable. We thought I had a good shot.
But the defendant didn't show up. Her lawyer did. I was very worried about what that could possibly mean. I was never given a chance to explain my case. Instead before anything else could happen her lawyer made a motion to dismiss because apparently I have a case open against her with the Utah Wage and Labor Commission.
This was news to me.
Yes, I opened a case against her back in August. I canceled that case, via phone call, back in October when they advised me that they were going to be very useless in this case. And that if I continued with them it would be years before the case would ever get settled. That was October 7. I filed my lawsuit on Oct 31. The defendant has refused all communications from the Wage and Labor people since August. I had letters from the State proving that.
With their motion to dismiss they had to show my W&L case. This was the first evidence any of us have ever seen that she has accepted a letter from them.
So my case was "dismissed without prejudice" because I have no way of proving that my claim was canceled. My side of the story was never heard. I was stuck between a lawyer and a judge using terms I have never heard before. The judge even snottily told me to stop taking the advice of W&L and get advice from a real lawyer.
And the defendant yet again gets away without having to pay me the wages I earned while employed by her.
If we're going to pretend there is a brightside to this, it would be that we can now go back to W&L and prove that she's received something from them. This also proves that she knows she owes us/me. She wasn't trying to fight that. She is just trying to prolong this further.
All in all, this sucks. I've been angry and crying ever since leaving the court house. I'm so mad that the bad guy keeps winning. And in the meantime I get to keep on making payments to the bank to repay them for her bounced check.
I'm angry and hurt. Justice wasn't served. And she keeps getting away with murder. It just all really sucks.

Dismissed Without Prejudice

I wish I had good news to share. I wish instead of trying to explain the very stupid judgment that was handed down today I was posting the best happy dance video ever. But I'm not.
Small Claims Court was very interesting. My friend and former co-worker, Sara, was there with me. We heard cases from someone who parked in a handicapped spot in her apartment complex and got towed, but thinks the complex should pay for it because there wasn't enough parking (she lost), to a boyfriend and girlfriend fighting it out over who owes who what. The judge seemed very reasonable. We thought I had a good shot.
But the defendant didn't show up. Her lawyer did. I was very worried about what that could possibly mean. I was never given a chance to explain my case. Instead before anything else could happen her lawyer made a motion to dismiss because apparently I have a case open against her with the Utah Wage and Labor Commission.
This was news to me.
Yes, I opened a case against her back in August. I canceled that case, via phone call, back in October when they advised me that they were going to be very useless in this case. And that if I continued with them it would be years before the case would ever get settled. That was October 7. I filed my lawsuit on Oct 31. The defendant has refused all communications from the Wage and Labor people since August. I had letters from the State proving that.
With their motion to dismiss they had to show my W&L case. This was the first evidence any of us have ever seen that she has accepted a letter from them.
So my case was "dismissed without prejudice" because I have no way of proving that my claim was canceled. My side of the story was never heard. I was stuck between a lawyer and a judge using terms I have never heard before. The judge even snottily told me to stop taking the advice of W&L and get advice from a real lawyer.
And the defendant yet again gets away without having to pay me the wages I earned while employed by her.
If we're going to pretend there is a brightside to this, it would be that we can now go back to W&L and prove that she's received something from them. This also proves that she knows she owes us/me. She wasn't trying to fight that. She is just trying to prolong this further.
All in all, this sucks. I've been angry and crying ever since leaving the court house. I'm so mad that the bad guy keeps winning. And in the meantime I get to keep on making payments to the bank to repay them for her bounced check.
I'm angry and hurt. Justice wasn't served. And she keeps getting away with murder. It just all really sucks.

Bring it on

In just a few hours I will have my first real live court experience. What I may not have is any closure or resolutions in the on-going 5 months battle with a former employer. But at the very least I will know that I did my best to do what is right and get what is owed me. This entire situation has been incredibly tedious, annoying, and at many times, confidence shattering. Having someone lie to you and threaten you over and over again, including making horrible accusations regarding your friendships. Even in the best of times, hearing these threats makes you doubt yourself.
But nonetheless, the show must go on. We go to court and ask for justice, while bracing ourselves for more lies and false accusations, knowing we are David versus Goliath.
Will it be worth it? I hope so. I hope that the judge will not be blindsided or easily swayed. To have this matter resolved, and to have it a matter of public record, as well as receiving what is owed me, will make it all worth it. To be able to walk away from the unfortunate chapter in my life and move on with what was good and redeeming from it will be a huge burden lifted.
Were there good things to come out of that chapter of my life? In spite of all the awful experiences of that time period, yes, there were most definitely great things that resulted from it. Wonderful new and lasting friendships made. A discovery of true talent. Exploration of new ideas. They were all worth that miserable chapter of my life.
But do I still want what is owed me?
Hell yes!

My cat is crazier than your cat!

 
I swore I wasn't going to sit around and blog about how my cat is the cutest or craziest. But somethings must be shared. 
Today was flippin' freezin' cold here in the land of Deseret. We're talking a high of 20. FREEZING. And yet, today is the day that a flock of birds suddenly appeared in my neighborhood, go figure.
My cat, who is currently going by the name of Bocephus, (or just Bo for short), likes to sit in the windowsill or by the sliding glass door and look at whatever birds are in the area. He can frequently be seen on his hind legs, face and paws pressed to the glass, crying for the birds. It can be pretty amusing. 
Today the new flock of birds (oh how I wish there were seagulls so I could say 'flock of seagulls') decided to light upon the building across from my balcony. Bo spent several minutes at the sliding glass door crying for the birds. After a few minutes he came over and nipped my heels. This was an unusual action for him. He would nip me then run back over to the door. I finally caught on that he wanted me to follow him. (He's nothing if not a very smart cat. He also flushes toilets. Can your cat do that?? Didn't think so!) 
So I got up and followed him the 5 ft to the door. He pawed at the door for a minute. I caught on that he wanted out- on to the snow covered, freezing cold, balcony. I opened it and let him out. A split second later he jumped into my arms. This is one of those cute but annoying habits he has. He will vertical jump straight up and on to my chest when he wants me to hold him. If I don't see him coming I get claws in unfortunate places. 
This time I happened to be watching, so I caught him without the claws to the boobs. 
So I held him for a second, confused as to what he wanted. He cuddled up against me, then turned his head back around so he could keep crying at the birds.
My stinking cat is so spoiled that he wanted me to go outside and hold him so he wouldn't have to stand in the snow while he cried/stalked the birds!
My cat is THAT neurotic!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Waking Up With Pet Peeves

Warning: Cranky blogger ahead.
I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning- quite literally and figuratively. The sound that woke me up was my neighbor slamming his door shut at 5 am. Followed by the usual 3-4 hours of his dog howling from loneliness. Next, I realized I was literally on the wrong side of my bed, pushed their by a vicious kitten who bites me in my sleep in order to win a position on the pillows.
This wasn't the start to the morning I had hoped for.
But after sleeping in a few more hours and waiting for my alarm to call me from bed, I was hoping to be in a better mood. But I'm not. I have a list of pet peeves rolling around in my head. And I'm determined to find some validation for them.
1. People who leave pets at home who howl for hours. Of course the owner never hears this because as soon as they owner pulls into the parking lot the dog stops crying. Until then, I get to hear it all freaking day long.
2. The neighbor's dog that joins in the howling just for fun. And the owner that doesn't shut the dog up.
(huh, both my pet peeves are about pets.)
3. This may seem random, but people who don't wash their hair. This grosses me out. If your hair color has started to actually change because it is so greasy, WASH YOUR FREAKING HAIR. I ran across this blog yesterday regarding how often people wash their hair. It is very informative. I think everyone should read it- especially the comments.
4. People who are so wrapped up in their own minds that they have no idea how their actions affect and effect others. This is, of all my annoyances, the biggest one. I wish there was a way to punish people for being this selfish.
5. People who don't know how to allow other people to be happy or show emotion in their presence. This is far too involved for me to explain here. Maybe someday I'll come back to it.
6. People who think they are allergic to everything and yet don't take any allergy meds. If your life really is controlled and limited by that many allergens that you can't enjoy a full life, go spend the freaking TWELVE DOLLARS it costs to take Claritin or Zyrtec or the generic OTC stuff for a month. And stop whining about it. You can control it.
7. People who criticize things they know nothing about.
8. People who will assume that this list of annoyances is all about them. Do you really think I would publicly blog about it knowing you will read it? I'm not that rude. It's not all about you. Get over it.Unless there are things here you need to work on. Then go work on those!
9. My bad posture. I hate my bad posture. I hate my overly extended swayback. I saw a picture of me this week that has my back so bent and swayed that my butt looks 20x bigger like I meant for it to stick out that way. I hate that. Sadly, there is very little I can do about it, but I do what I can!
10. My magic radio that changes stations all by itself. This morning I was listening to 101.9 the End, and now, suddenly I hear 103.5 coming out of it. This gets irritating!

I should stop while I'm ahead if I want to find the positive in the day. Because, see, I will go and look for the positive. I just had to get the negative out of me so there would be room for the positive.

11. People who only see the negative and don't know how to fight for the positive.

**updated**
12. When your nose gets all peely and chapped from having to blow it too much (and you were even using the Puffs Plus kind)!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Live from the couch, it's me!

I really have little to say or blog about today, but that's never stopped me from posting before, has it? Ever since I got back to Utah late Tuesday night, I've been getting increasingly sicker. I've yet again picked up a nasty winter cold. Pick your favorite cold symptom, and I have it. But really, who wants to read a blog about the pile of used Kleenex I am sitting under?
Or I could blog about how freaking cold it is here. It was a whopping 17 degrees when I went out to my car this morning. Yesterday was my first ever experience with my car being frozen shut. That was a new one for me. It was fun. Really. But you really know it is cold when the thermocoupler in your gas fireplace is too cold to ignite. So instead of curling up by the fireplace with my blanky, Kleenex, and Hulu.com, I am in my bed, with lots of blankets, Kleenex, and Hulu.com. And yet, I'm still cold.
But I need to get over this bug and quickly. This is my big week in court! I finally get to sue my old employer in small claims court. I really have no idea how this is all going to turn out, so I'm not going to speculate much on it now. But please be crossing your external appendages and be praying for me around 2 pm on Tuesday. I really want this all to come to an end.

Whether I win or lose (but i really want to win!), I'm going to get a part-time job to help make some extra cash for the next few months, plus get me through the winter blues. ("SAD" anyone?) Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder, Utah's freezing temps, plus inversion and no sunshine, and my lifestyle of sitting on the couch round the clock is killing me. I need to get out more! So a part-time job it is!
The extra cash will come in very handy as I get ready to move in early February as well. Granted, that is all hinging on winning the lawsuit as well. But we'll come back to that after Tuesday. Oh, but the good news is I finally picked a house and have a verbal agreement with the landlord. And I LOVE the house!
So, think happy thoughts for me! I need to get over this cold so I'm strong enough in court (right now just walking to my car wipes me out), and so I can start working a second job.
Oh and if you have any suggestions for a good 15-20 hr/wk second job that will get me out of the house, let me know!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Nyquil induced ramblings of a mad woman

I have nothing interesting to say today, but I'm bored and blogging is a great timewaster. I'm not a big believer or participator in making resolutions based on some arbitrary date on a calendar. It just doesn't do anything for me. So you can rest assured you won't be seeing that as a blog topic any time soon. And the fact that I am dieting for the next few weeks has nothing to do with the new year, and everything to do with eliminating carbs and wheat from my diet in order to get my tummy happy again.
Also, this is probably just the Nyquil talking, but I've decided that starting off the new year with a head cold is a good sign. It gets it out of the way now so that the rest of the year can be healthy, right??
Now for something from the stranger side of life.
I am actively house-hunting these days. My lease is up in 3 weeks and I need to move. I've done my homework and looked all over town, and narrowed in on one specific neighborhood I want to live in. Just before leaving town I was driving around the neighborhood (that has about 30 houses for sale/rent), writing down phone numbers and addresses of the places I liked from the outside. I saw one that I thought was cute on H St. (not really the name, but it works) I wrote the info down, but then in my travels, managed to lose the paper. Conveniently a few days later I saw the address and house show up on Craigslist. It was as I remembered it on the outside, and on the same street. So I sent them an email.
The reply was totally peculiar. The woman explained that she and her husband were serving the Lord in Nigeria, and were looking for a good God-fearing person to rent their home. There would be no real contract for the house. If I am interested, all I have to do is wire the money to them, and someone would bring me the keys.
UM??? SCAM????
It totally reaked of a scam. But it did include a phone number, and the person had a very Utah Mormonish name. And there were pictures of the house, and it looked like I remembered it.
Bizarre.
Nonetheless, I deleted the email. And I noticed a few days later that the post was flagged and pulled from Craigslist. I thought little more of it.
But today I drove back down to the neighborhood to check out a different house I am interested in. So while I was there I drove past the questionable house. And sure enough, there is a for rent sign in the yard. Its not only the same house, but the name of the family that emailed me was on their mailbox!
The sign in the yard also had a local phone number on it. So I wrote it down on the back of my grocery list and drove away. I want to call it just out of sheer curiousity at this point.
There's just one tiny little problem.
I lost the stupid grocery list.
So yes, I may just have to drive 25 minutes south again just to go find the phone number on that sign. My curiousity just has to know!!
Any takers on whether or not it is a really well done scam? But then again, what even remotely intelligent American would mention Nigeria and wiring money in an email?? And yet, how did they get pictures of the inside and outside of this house? Did someone really want to get revenge on this family somehow? My imagination is running wild with scenarios.
But then again, that might just be the Nyquil talking.

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