Thursday, June 30, 2011


Yes, my childhood nickname was 'Cupcake', have a good laugh and get it out of your system. June 30th, a beautiful sunny day (of course) because it's my birthday! And check me out - things may be a little tumultuous right now, but if I compare it to 30, I'm still way happier where I am. I've got great friends, loving family, at least 3-4 blog fans who aren't one of those first two things, and a Jellybean. What more could a gal-who-still-feels-28 want?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Backyard Campout #Win

The backyard camp-out was a success! For once the temperature dropped when the sun set, so I actually got to snuggle in my sleeping bag, and the sky was clear and filled with stars (or planets or planes, don't get all scientific on me) so I could take the fly off. I did still have to sleep with an ear plug in because the homies in my neighborhood were rollin' at 4:30 am and we don't have the same taste in nighty-night music, and I had some drinkies so had to keep getting up to pee (but did not yammy, unlike an unnamed member of my party, ah-hem).

The best part was that I made two new camp recipes, a hobo dinner thing where you simply throw ground beef, baby carrots, onions, and red potatoes in heavy-duty foil; and this -
which is the most adorable and delicious little Mini Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (a cake donut, some butter and brown sugar, and a pineapple ring - gave up looking for my bar fruit, so sadly no cherry). Since I decided it was better for my resale value and the wildfire situation not to build an open fire in my backyard, I just threw 'em on my grill. SO GOOD. And they'd be wicked easy to make up in advance and throw in a cooler for when I'm, you know, not in my backyard camping. I've already got my next Hobo Dinner planned - I'm going to adapt my favorite Naked Chef recipe, Tray-Baked Porkchops with Herbey Potatoes, Parsnips and Pears (in lemon/rosemary); how awesome will THAT be?! And yes, it's mid-afternoon and I haven't eaten lunch yet, can you tell?

The pool was once again a big hit with the visiting friends, two little blond boys who weren't keen on the Hobo dinners but were big fans of the BBQ S'Mores.
And now there's a crazy thunderstorm probably flooding those cute little toys all over my yard. That's ok, get it out of your system, Mother Nature, as The Ta so wisely said. Because in just four days - 40th BIRTHDAY/4th of July BEACH TRIP!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Camping with a Kid

The Great Backyard Camping something-or-other is coming up, an event I only found out about because I happened to finally catch up on some blogs, and since it’s an excuse to finally put the tent up in the backyard and thus clinch the deal on my neighbors forever thinking I’m a nutjob, I think it’s a great idea. I wasn't even going to bother registering but then my curiosity got the better of me and I did, but then the website confused and irritated me (how do I set my Team Name? where's the template for inviting people to camp with me instead of asking for money?) so I'm going to ignore if for a little while. And, uh, the weather forecast is calling for rain anyhow.

Jordan Lake Park, NC - Jellybean eats bacon. Friend looks at bug in bottle. Life is good.

People assume that growing up in the wilds of Northern Ontario meant I camped practically every weekend, nay, lived in a tent more likely. And I’m sure that there are families who are like that in Canada, just as there are families like that all over the US and Europe and everywhere else in the world. However, the area I’m from is fondly referred to as ‘cottage country’, which means the more sensible people on vacation go to their cottages. This is because, while the wilds of Northern Ontario are beautiful, they are vicious. Yes, there are bears and poisonous growy things and whatnot, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about blackflies. Nasty, nibbly blackflies. And the mosquitoes are bigger there, too, I think. And it gets COLD at night.

Armed with her backpack o' gear, Jelly sets off in search of adventure. It does NOT get cold at night here.

My parents were not the sort of folk who could afford a cottage, and despite being dirty hippies, they weren’t into battling blackflies with a pack of obnoxious children. Keep in mind that was the 70’s, when tents were made of canvas and weighed approximately 846 lbs, and took about four days and eleven people to assemble. There weren’t luxuries like collapsible marshmallow toasting forks and Kelty camp sinks (just got mine, can’t wait to use it, it’s freaking adorable!). My mother and sister shake their head in disbelief when I talk about camping – I’m not exactly the outdoorsy type, and they have no idea where my love of this activity came from. I admit I will never be the person strapping on a backpack and hiking into a site, and Jelly and I definitely like our air beds and a flush toilet within walking distance. But it’s relaxing, and cheap, and I dunno, I can’t explain it, I hate washing dishes at home but man, I love to wash dishes in a tub on a picnic table.

Pitching in like a good camper (get it? 'pitching' in?)

We’ve officially camped twice now, both times in the pouring rain, so even though it’s only twice I think those two experiences should count as much more. My $40 BJ’s tent (there was a $10 rebate when I got it!) performed amazingly and was the perfect size for us, and the camp stove from my mum is like an Easy Bake oven, only way better, because, you know, it can cook bacon for reals. Jellybean had a blast – she was ridiculously patient waiting for me to do all the boring stuff that I never understood what took parents so long to do, and was a good helper, and had fun running around with her friend who was camping with us. She slept great, and napped great, and the sky cleared up and we swam and went for walks and looked at interesting bugs and made pancakes and sang camp songs and lit sparklers at twilight. This upcoming weekend the same friends will come over and we’ll put up the tents and get out the hot dogs and marshmallows, and there won’t be any television or bath time or internet; there will be fireflies, and contraband drinks in plastic cups after the kids are abed, and an open sky overhead.

Overcast, but not rainy!

I just really, really recommend ear plugs. You never know what the campground is going to be like. Our first trip, the location was quiet, but there were some crazy-loud snorers in our Single Parents group. This trip, well, it was a long weekend, I don't know what I was thinking. Par-tay! I don't worry about sleeping with ear plugs in with a kid in a tent, the kid is right there and is going to smack me in the face if I don't respond to her. And yeah - bathroom. Unless you're hardcore, and especially if you're potty training, make sure to get a site near the facilities.

But I say, do it!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

In Like a Lion?

So the day came, as I knew it would. Yesterday morning, on our 10am status call, my boss gave a little laugh and said, 'We need to talk', and I knew the day was here. It went pretty much like I expected, although it was a little more open-ended than I had hoped; although I was definitely pointed in the direction of the door, I wasn't pushed through it. They are willing to work with me to find something that is a better fit within the company, if that is what I want. It was nice that it wasn't a disciplinary action, because that means there's no mark on my permanent record, and my boss made sure to explain that I shouldn't take the whole thing personally; that, in fact, she rather liked me an awful lot, and there were lots of things that I did well. I finally told her about the Topamax issues, which I probably should have told her about months ago, and embarrassed us both by bursting into tears, and then I had to pull myself together because I still had to finish a day of work like nothing had happened.

I spent most of the rest of the day crying while on Mute on conference calls; despite the fact that it wasn't a big surprise, it was still a shock. And it was still scary, because there were a lot of questions left unanswered. What happens if I can't find something else? There's only one open job posted on our internal site that's a 'maybe' for me, and I wasn't given a timeframe or deadline in which to find something else. I know it behooves my manager as much as me to have a little wiggle room; to get another person in, and up to speed. But they've got to be able to post for my job and start interviewing - there's a clock running, somewhere.

The lousy thing about the timing is that it's going to mess up the Canada plan. The go-to-Canada-this-summer plan, probably, but the move-t0-Canada plan, definitely. Even if I do get the other job within my company it's not something I'll be able to do permanently; it's project management, which will be a pay cut AND make me go out of my mind. So I still need to be hustling to find something else. I put the word out to my awesome mommies group, who were incredibly supportive and helpful as always, and submitted a few things yesterday afternoon/evening. I got a call from a recruiter today that sounded like a solid lead, so that cheered me up a little. And I know that I'm lucky because even if my parents aren't local, they'd still help in any way possible. The Ta is looking for stuff for me, and Cousin J sent me some links, and even the terrific MsD offered to give my resume to her techie hubby.

I've been through this before, and I know it's hard. I know it's scary. I know that things work out, because, well, they have to. But from the first moment I considered becoming a mom on my own, this was one of my greatest fears. This thing right here. The What If things don't work out. What if I don't get something right away; what if I have to sell the house for $140K instead of the $170K I owe on it because I can't pay my mortgage any more? What if I lose my health benefits, and something happens to Jenny? The college fund will dry up; the 401K will disappear. Say good-bye to that deposit I put down already for the Thanksgiving beach trip.

The last time things were bad I had to get two jobs to make ends meet. I would drive to a support job in the morning, 8:30a-5p, at NC State University, then hop in the car and race to my next job across town at a market research company where I would walk the floor as a call center supervisor from 5:30p-11:30p. It was awful. I did it because I had to. I couldn't do that with Jelly.

I know that this needed to happen, and there's a teensy part of me that is almost relieved that it did, because once this round of stress is over hopefully I can find something that is a little easier and things will get better and healthier and all those good things. And my mum pointed out that Jelly is too young to know anything is going on, and will bounce back from whatever change happens, which are good points.

And it's two weeks before my birthday. Can you imagine if she'd done it ON my birthday, without knowing?! That would have been awesome. You know, in a horrible way. Maybe I'll get a new job for my birthday. Oh, 40, you are going to be an interesting one!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Time's Up

Just so y'all are up-to-date, here's the deal.

1. I'm quitting the Topamax. I gave it a full six months, which I think is more than fair. In that time I only had a small number of headaches, which was nice, and a smaller number of migraines, which was really super terrific. However. I am close to being fired because of work incompetence. I can't remember anything. I can't retain any new knowledge. I'm fuzzy all the time. There's some serious depression issues.


Plan B.

I've made an appointment to get on some sort of pill where I'll only have a few periods a year (the earliest physical appointment was August, HA! Awesome). I'll take a migraine pill preventatively when I know I will be prone to getting an attack (cost-wise, it will only be slightly more expensive than the Mr. T). I'll drink more water, be very serious about avoiding migraine triggers during That Time, and since it's summer, do everything I can to avoid heat exhaustion.
And we'll see where that gets me.

That's Plan B, part 1.

The reason this whole bad cycle of increased migraines kicked off in the first place was the work stress. And the work stress is, in fact, worse now that my boss is so totally pissed at me for being the mental equivalent of a cod for the past 6 months. Imagine how awful each week's status call is when I can hear in her voice how angry and frustrated she is. Now imagine it as even worse. Feel your stomach knot up with the thought of talking to her. Lay in bed and worry about it. Can you taste the bile in the back of your throat? Yeah, it's not something I think I can recover from, and even if so, even if the stress gets better - I am not sure if that will be soon enough. So I think I need to look for something else. Even telling myself that makes me feel a little better. I know I don't have a lot of hope of finding something, at least not something that is in my salary range where I can work from home and have 10% travel. But we'll see.

In the meantime, I need to kick off some sort of exercise routine, because I know that's proven to help. Eat properly, keep sugar levels appropriate. Get good sleep (ahahahahahaha).
Could be better.
Could be worse!
I just know I'm never living through a Spring like that ever, ever again.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Wanted: Time to Stop

I moved to Raleigh 16, wait, almost 17 years ago now. Yep, 17 years at the end of this summer. The first year I worked in daycare, that was 1994. 1995 I was back in Canada, for Teacher’s College. 1996 I came back to Raleigh, and was substitute teaching, and working part-time at JC Penney’s in their jewelry department. There was a Mother’s Day sale, and because of my employee discount, combined with that great deal I decided to buy a ring.

All of you who have been reading my blog for a while now know that I am a planner, but you may not know just how much of a planner I really am. It’s true that I am already looking forward to a future event when the next one has not yet arrived, and that I get little shivers of delight when I open up a Word document to create a brand-spankin’ new checklist for a trip or a task. I like things to happen the way they are suppose to happen – a schedule to flow like clockwork, nothing to be forgotten, everything to be in its place. We all know that real life intervenes and things rarely turn out that way, but I do everything I can to ensure that the rules are followed in strict accordance, arbitrary rules that I make up based on my own childhood experiences or just the way I think things should be in my cute little crazy head.

I tell you this long and boring background story so that you have some idea of just how tense something like a happy child’s birthday party makes me. Yes, it’s a fun thing, but even though I know it’s not going to be perfect and things are going to go wrong and there will be things I can’t control that will make me insane, I still carry around this vision of the ideal day, and the pressure of trying to deliver to it makes me sick to my stomach. Yep, I totally bring it on myself, I know that. Doesn’t help.

As you know I’d been planning Jelly’s Third Birthday Extravaganza for some time. Despite the fact I swore after last year’s exhausting event to NEVER DO ANYTHING LIKE THAT AGAIN, and that this year would BE DIFFERENT, I again found myself up at 6 am the morning of the anniversary of the day of her birth, sighing heavily at the gorgeous little girl (WHO SLEPT IN TIL AMOST EIGHT!!!! EIGHT!!) and lugging various ridiculous party accoutrements into my backyard. An inflatable pool. A bounce house with a water slide. A 3-person slip 'n slide. Another inflatable pool. Coolers. Tables. Stop to sweat and curse my stupid ideals.

The weather, oh the weather! Totally cooperated. Sunny and beautiful, hot but with a nice breeze. With a few minor hilarious hijinks, the bounce house and crazily fun pool went up. Everyone came. The pizza arrived precisely on time. The cake was delicious. I wanted to die every single second, but Jenny had a complete and utter blast, and her friends cried when they had to leave because they had so much fun, and that’s a good party.

Somebody may have poisoned the water hole, but there are no snakes in this cake! I was traumatized because it was not enough, but I thought the kids would go for the cupcakes. Silly me. Oh well. That's what happens when you put a pack of chocolate fudge pudding and an entire bag of chocolate chips in a cake.

Yee-HAW! Whatever you do, don't call her a cowgirl. She's a cowBOY. Hilarious. Check out that three-year-old-Bean, can you believe it?!
There were lots of good lookin' cowboys at the party. The Ta totally rocked it.

Aunt Jen, the official party photographer, giving us some guns.

My Jellybean. A very, very happy little girl, who spent 548 hours in this fantastic Intex pool purchased on Craigslist for $40.

The ring I bought? I bought for my future daughter. My mother doesn’t have a lot of jewelry, and certainly no family heirlooms to speak of. I sure as heck didn’t have anything, I had just come out of college. So I decided to buy one. A stunning set of opals (because, you know, it’s bad luck to buy them for yourself). Yes, so what I’m saying is that 15 years ago, 12 years before Jenny was even born, I bought a ring that I could give to her on her 16th birthday that would already have a story. It could have turned out badly, and I could have ended up with a sad little ring buried in a drawer in a box forever bringing me bad luck. Sometimes being a crazy compulsive planner works out, and sometimes it backfires. I got lucky with her birthday this year, again. But, yeah. That's how messed up I am. Just so you know the kind of therapy I SHOULD be getting.

The camping trip? Oooh, wait til you hear about THAT. I'll give you a hint. There was lots of rain, but rain didn't fit into my plans, so I chose to ignore it.

Happy Birthday, my 38-inch, 43.5lb 3-year old girl!