Crazy Week, please let it be over!

So, yea, I kinda fell off the face of the blogosphere didn’t I? And I was on such a roll too! I’ve had some weird, some sad, some funny as hell things happen though, so before I go off for my run, I thought I would leave them with you to ponder the ridiculousness of my life. Have at it.

Let’s start back to last Sunday, when my crazy, idiot, horrible, white-trash, no-mortgage-payin neighbors decided to call the cops on US! What a freaking joke!! They called because we have a security camera in our backyard (which has been up for over **2** months!!!!!) and they were suddenly, on a Sunday morning as I sat in church, concerned that it might be capturing their backyard. So I had to leave church, come home to deal with police at my door. I showed them the camera, I showed them the app of what the camera displays, I showed them the lovely pepper plants that the camera was originally for, and I offered them a bottle of water (to show how kind I am!). Yea, well, WE aren’t doing ANYTHING wrong by having a security camera, outside, pointing at our pepper plants. And even if we were pointing directly into their backyard, there is nothing wrong with that either! He said something about there not being any expectation of privacy when you’re outside. Anyone can take a picture of anyone, anytime, anywhere, if they are outside. Now, he calmly pointed out that if we had pointed that directly at their bedroom window, that could be a problem. I told him I didn’t want to make myself nauseous at the thought of anything going on inside their house, let alone their bedroom. ::shudder::

So the cops laughed with me for a while, talking about trivial things like how hot it was, were they sure they didn’t want a bottle of water, then they went back over the wretched neighbors to let them know there was not one damn thing I was doing that was wrong. And further, if they call them again over a non-issue, not only will they file charges against them, but I can then file harassment charges against them. Ha! I bet when she was relaying this info to others, she left that little part out. Mmm Hmmm.

Then Ryan started school. Sophomore year. First day of school didn’t bother me. I didn’t well up with tears. I didn’t hug him till I crushed him. I didn’t hold him til he was pried from my grip preventing him from not going out the door. No, no. The tears came crashing down yesterday as I was looking at Pinterest!! PINTEREST!!!! Seriously?? I’m looking at fattening recipes which I will never make but I’m drooling nonetheless. I’m looking at cute ideas for my house that I will never have the funds to do. I’m looking at adorable outfits that will never look that cute on me. Then I see some fall stuff. I don’t even know if it was for a classroom or just home decor, but it was apples, and pumpkins and cinnamon and stuff. And I BURST into tears. Bawling, sobbing OMG-what-am-I-doing tears! And I love fall!! Second favorite season! Love it! But my boys birthdays are in October (both of them) and Rob will be 25 and Ryan will be 16. 16??? OMG! Tears flooding my eyes!! Can’t see the cute purple outfit on Pinterest. Can’t see the perfect gray kitchen that I long for. Aaaaccckkkkk!!! Close Pinterest. Let’s forget this even happened.

As for the laughter, because really, that’s my favorite part, Saturday I went to a party with some friends. This was awesome because it wasn’t just girls hanging out at a bar, feeling old and deaf from the music that’s too loud. (I know I’ve said it before, but really, mid 40s women should not be hanging out at a bar every week without starting to look a bit pathetic and desperate to hold on to their youth. Have some class. Going to a bar can be fun, but really, we all have houses or apartments or condos. Go there. Be an adult. Much more fun.) So we went to a PARTY! This is a friend who has a party every year and I swear every year it gets better and better. I also love that we go together as a group, and people we have met there remember us from year to year. It might be the only time all year that we see each other, but it’s so awesome to get “Chrissy!!! I’m so glad you’re here!!” screamed across the lawn, complete with a hug and a peck on the cheek! I mean, seriously, who doesn’t love that?? So we got our drink on, laughing, talking, laughing, mingling, laughing, passing out glow sticks and glow necklaces, drinking, laughing.

It was one of those nights that when you wake up the next morning and besides your pounding headache, your stomach muscles and jaw aches from the laughter. Yep. One of those night. So much fun and looking forward to next years bash already!!

But as that party usually signifies the end of summer, so does school starting, fall stuff on Pinterest, football, Homecoming (Oh Lord, Homecoming is coming up. Where did I put those tissues???), and taking the boat out for winter storage. I think we might be ready to sell the boat. Even Michael isn’t fighting the idea as much anymore. The season for the boat may be over. We’ll see how that goes. But for now, I’m going to enjoy the transition from summer to fall and not stress about things I can’t control. Serenity now…..Serenity now…….

Stone Ages and Modern Kids

Yesterday afternoon a small (well, I would call it small. It wasn’t anything extraordinary or long lasting) thunderstorm came through our area. As usual, storms around here are worse to the north and to the south of us most of the time. We have some sort of weather bubble over us that seems to keep 99% of good stormy weather away. 

So it came as quite a surprise when we lost our cable and internet. We still had electricity, but no modern convenience of TV or the net. No wifi. No streaming videos. No Xbox Live. No shopping on Amazon. No playing Ruzzle or even checking out pictures on Instagram!! No Pinterest!! (I’m starting to hyperventilate as I’m typing this.)

Ryan just wasn’t sure what to do with this gadget free time. I mean, we have power, but we don’t have TV? What is the world coming to?? I suggested to read a book, but that was met with the look and reaction I thought it would. Um, no. Instead he thought he would ask about every 3.6 seconds if it was back up and working yet. 

Michael and I put in a movie, but even that proved to be a challenge since we have a Blu-Ray player. It kept locking up as it tried to get out to the internet and look for updates. (I guess it does that every time…who knew???) So eventually we had to disconnect it from the internet so it would play a movie. I mean really? Things are that dependent now on the web? Yep. And so are are. 

As Ryan and his friend tried desperately to find something to do that didn’t involve books or being in a room with his parents for too long, I realized it isn’t just him that is so reliant in the workings on the internet. I started to think about the fact that I had bills to pay the next day and I had to pay all but 1 online. I was thinking about how I had a store to go to today if only they have this one item I’m looking for (Ok, it was Walmart, looking for a damn TI-84 calculator that costs $120 for Ry’s Algebra class that he has apparently LOST since last year, but let’s not get into that or my head really will explode.) and I realized I can’t look it up. I couldn’t track an order from Amazon as I do several times a day, just cuz it’s fun to see it update and how much closer my precious package is to arriving on my doorstep. 

It hit me as I was laying in my darkened, silent bedroom (we ALWAYS have the TV on at night. Ever since 9/11, I can’t sleep without the TV on. Luckily Michael feels the same way so we don’t fight over the light or the noise. It’s on quiet enough to sleep, but loud enough if there was an emergency it would wake us up.) that WE, the adults, are just as addicted to this technology as our kids are.

They have grown up not knowing anything different. There has always been an internet, computers, cordless phones, video games. They don’t know Pong, and typewriters with correction tape, and vinyl records, and how the first “cell phone” had to be carried in a bag with a huge antennae. How only the super rich had “car phones”. But I also realized (again, did I mention it was dark and quiet?) that my generation has adapted and grown so dependent on these things too that, while not as paralyzed as our children get, we get frustrated and slightly anxious too! (I did have those bills to pay!) 

So while our kids think we grew up in the Stone Ages, not beginning to comprehend how we grew up, I think we grew up at exactly the right time. We can remember what it was like without these things, and can appreciate how much easier life is with them. 

Ebay, Plato’s Closet or Charity? All 3??

Everyone who knows me, or at least is my friend on Facebook knows what I huge supporter I am of charity. I believe it helps the giver as well as the receiver and there aren’t that many opportunities in this world. Charity remains because people chose to give. 

But there are also times when a little extra cash flow would be nice too. And back to school shopping time is for sure one of those times. 

Ryan and I were going through his closet, trying to determine what still fit, what was nice (no stains, rips, etc), what still had price tags on them (eh hemmmm) and what was completely trashed, or um, well worn. 

So what to do with the nice, but too small clothes? The ones with tags? The ones that might have a slight stain on them but not really noticeable? The ones with huge stains that were WAY noticeable? 

Here’s what I decided to do. 

All clothing with tags still on them, or barely (and I mean BARELY) worn I have listed on Ebay. I’ve already sold some of them. The Abercrombie T-shirts sold almost as soon as I listed them. I have jeans, khakis, jackets, and more shirts listed. Any and all money from the sale goes directly to the allotted back to school funds. Yea for Ryan and easy for me. Snap a few pictures, list the item, ship it out. Bing, bam, boom. 

Plato’s Closet (for those who don’t know what that is, it’s a place that buys and sells new and used clothing.) is a great place to buy, but lately, I have been having a hard time selling there. Here’s an example: I took 2 laundry baskets full of all name brand clothing (Abercrombie, American Eagle, Hollister, Tommy Hilfiger, Polo, etc) that had a wide assortment of jeans, shirts, shorts, ect. I dropped them off and was offered $21 when I came back. $21!!!!!!????? Wait, what???? One pair of jeans costs more than $21!!!) I took my baskets of clothes and left, vowing to never sell there again. I wasn’t sure if I should be angry or insulted or feeling like I was being taken advantage of, but I felt all three.

But after my temper simmered, I realized I had to change my heart. If I was taking clothes to Plato’s Closet, I needed to accept that it was a form of charity. Someone was going to be able to buy those new jeans for less than half of what they would pay at the store. Someone who wanted that ONE PAIR of American Eagle jeans and couldn’t afford it. These still had tags on them!! By changing my heart and the way I was looking at it, it could be a form of charity. By not expecting anything back, it was indeed, the best kind of charity.

The items that are not sold on Ebay, or not “given” to Plato’s, I bagged and donated. Before you think I only donated the stained clothing, you are incorrect! Stained clothing make the best rags for washing cars, cleaning the boat or anything else! I keep and cut up all stained clothing, or if it’s REALLY bad, it gets tossed. That hasn’t happened in quite a few years though. Whenever I donate clothing to charity, I try to imagine the little boy who will be wearing it and how I could not in all good conscience donate something I would be appalled at seeing on my child. No tax write-off is worth the humiliation of donating horrendous clothing.

I think I have come up with a pretty good system that solves myriad problems. It helps me, Ryan and others. Countless others. Isn’t that also important to factor in? As I take Ryan back to school shopping today, I’m glad to buy him clothes that will wear well, because he isn’t the only one who will ultimately be wearing them. 

 

So what do you do with clothing that is still, in some cases, perfect? Do you have a favorite charity to donate to or do you sell on Ebay or Craigslist?   

Serving others

It is way too early on a Saturday morning for my liking. Most Saturdays I don’t even want to think about getting up til at least 9. The sun is not up. It’s raining. And yet, we’re awake, on our second cup of coffee.

Today we are helping at our church with the Single Parent Family Fair (SPFF). We do this every year and it important to me. It serves single parents who are feeling overwhelmed with the back to school costs that hit all at once. Sometimes, no matter how hard you budget, there just isn’t enough to go around. It can be humiliating, humbling, depressing, defeating.

But it doesn’t have to be!!!!

I’ve been there. I’ve had to choose between buying something my child needed and my own needs. I’ve had to decide if I can stretch the food in my pantry to last the week (even though I had enough to maybe, just maybe, make it 4 days) or buy a book bag and a new pair of shoes for back to school. I’ve known that desperation. It isn’t pretty or fun. It’s lonely and sad.

So when I found out several years ago that my church has an annual SPFF, I knew this was an important service project for me to be involved in. And I love that it is so much more than just passing out some #2 pencils and crayons. So. Much. More.

We have people from our congregation who pitch in with their talents and expertise. We have beauticians providing free hair cuts. We have mechanics providing free oil changes. We provide back packs completely filled with age specific school supplies. We provide coffee and breakfast for those coming out to receive the help.

It helps them tremendously. They have needs met that otherwise would be a strain. They can provide for their children in ways they couldn’t on their own. And the kids have a new back pack full of supplies and a new hair cut to start their school year off right.

It helps me tremendously. There is little that helps my soul feel rejuvenated than serving others. I love seeing the smiles. The grateful hearts. The kids laughing. There is something I find so difficult to put into words how giving to someone selflessly is the best feeling in the world. No expectations. No “I’ll help you but I need this in return” kind of thing. This is a true “Pay it Forward” type help that I always encourage others to do.

Help someone who can’t possibly help you back. Give to someone who can’t possibly give you anything but a smile. Lift someone up from their circumstances. And you’ll be amazed at how that gratitude comes back to you where you need it most.

Helping others, quite simply, helps my soul.

Trying to Date Again……..

I was talking with a friend yesterday who I hadn’t been able to catch up with for awhile. We’ve both been busy and it seemed like when I had time to spare, he didn’t and when he did I was in the middle of something. And this is important to understand because when we talk, it is serious marathon talking sessions. Like hours. We have both actually killed our cell phone batteries talking on the phone for hours before. It seems to be very difficult for us to have a 5 minute quick catch up call. So carving out time is essential.

He is recently divorced and thinking about getting back out there. It’s a little scary to put yourself out there after years of married life. Whether we like it or not, times are different. We’re not in our 20s and the bar scene just isn’t cool anymore. Actually, I don’t like the bar scene at all. I mean, it just seems like a trap to me now. I’m sure I’m quite alone in this, but you go to a place where you spend way more money for a beer or wine or whatever, plus you have to tip, plus you have to then get in your car and drive! Skanky guys and girls are trying to pick each other up with their alcohol fueled hormones raging. The music is so loud you have to shout so the person right next to you can hear you, and after saying “What??!!!????” two times, you just nod and agree even though you still have no idea what was just said. You know I’m right. 

Anyway, that’s just not a good scene for anyone in their 40s. It looks sad, desperate, pathetic. I think that’s why so many dating websites have popped up. People our age should not be going to a bar for a one night stand. Didn’t growing up in the 80s teach you anything??? There is way too much ICK, and you’re never going to find a nice guy or girl in a dark skanky bar. A nightclub is fun on those rare occasions when a friend is getting married (or remarried) and the girls want to go get their dance on. There are several local bars that also have complete outside areas with their own bars, maybe a live band, but plenty of seating away from the noise if you want to actually hold a conversation. So I give them a thumbs up too. No bar in a shopping strip. No bar that is just a bar with a jukebox, old cracked bar stools and the bartender calls out your name cuz you’re there at least once a week. (Tuesday night girls night out anyone???)

He is really struggling with the “where can I meet a nice girl who might actually want a relationship?” while juggling a job, the visitation schedule with the kids and taking care of his house. It’s a lot harder than it used to be. It’s not all about those cute dating site commercials where they’re holding hands on a roller coaster (even though they probably shouldn’t be ON a roller coaster unless he took his blood pressure medication that morning) or running your shopping cart into some hot chick in the produce department and then you end up married 6 months later. That doesn’t happen.

My advice to him was it will happen when it happens. Not very helpful right? But it always seems that someone pops into your life when you least expect it, or at least aren’t looking for it. So I told him this will change when he starts focusing on himself and not looking for someone all the time. When you’re happy with yourself, and comfortable in your own shoes, it seriously puts off that “attraction vibe” and people are drawn to you. So focusing on your own happiness solves 2 problems!

Just don’t find your happiness in a bar. It never ends well………