Friday, March 11, 2011

S is for Selfish...

Yes,alive, well and kicking. So a hearty THANK YOU for not giving up on me.

I've given myself some time and space this past month to just see what life has in store for me. Here's what I've discovered....

1. I'm really good at laundry
2. I'm a kick ass cookie baker
3. I'm really glad that if I was going to have a week-long debilitating head cold, I wasn't two weeks in to a new job.
4. If I don't sweep EVERY DAY it looks like there is a molting grizzly bear playing hide and seek in our house.
5. 14 is the magic number

After 14 job applications to any job that remotely interested me, I finally had a call last week for a job interview. The posting is very similar to the last job I had in Not For Profit, so it was a relatively easy chat.

Following a five minute conversation which felt like a lovefest of ME ME ME, I waited to see if I qualified for a face to face interview. I did, and yesterday I made the hour-long drive, 70 km return trip, for the hour and a half meeting. Each mile down the road, I'm thinking about how long this drive seems. How much driving time is going to eat out of my day. How the plan to keep my truck indefinitely will have to be revised since I will be driving the crap out of it.

The office is in an impressive building. I felt like Melanie Griffith in Working Girl. This was the vision I'd have for myself for a long time. Beautiful lobby, elevator, office. Just what a career-oriented person would shoot for - and I'm not going to lie - it felt right.

I feel I did well. Probably because I went in with about as much expectation in getting the job as I did about winning the last seat on the final shuttle mission. So I let it all hang out. No nerves, no stress and no hope in Hell. Could I do the job? Absolutely. Do I want it?

Tap, tap...hellooo? This thing on?
Perhaps it's my previous experience with charitable organizations, but for me the question is the pay. Show me the money. I'm at an age where I won't undervalue myself. I know what my skill set is - I know what I'm capable of. I know what the next step in my career should be.

But I've also had six weeks of home life where I've had a bit of a revelation.

I'm a disappointment. A traitor to the Women's Movement. I like being at home. I find myself keeping very busy around the house. Not just with traditional house work, but with the activities I have long yearned to do and simply not had the time to do. Unpacking and settling the house. Reading. WRITING! I feel more creative than I have in years. Probably because other than being off for the maternity leaves for my two boys, I've never been off work in more than 20 years. By MYSELF.

I have days that I can plan for myself. I have been freelancing like crazy for the local paper and truly enjoy it. I'm spending less on groceries because I'm planning, not reacting to meal time. I actually have "down" time where I can watch a movie without guilt, because I have all my work done. My stress level is barely registering.

It was a long drive home from the interview. Pondering and consider the impact of various options. Calculating my mileage, the in-freaking-sane gas prices and the time away from home. What I will give up if I'm offered the job and accept it. What I will give up if I don't.

I don't know that it will be worth it. And I'm trying not to dwell on it and let the pieces fall where they may. I think part of my warped psyche said if I didn't go to the interview, I would jinx myself from ever getting another one.

Fortunately, The Big Guy is totally supportive. I explained that I want to find a job that excites me. Something that can challenge me and give me the financial reward that will justify my skills and dedication. He gets it. Likely because he finally has that kind of job and understands the satisfaction it brings. And I've seen the postings - the jobs that as I read the description gives me shivers. Yup, I get tingly over job postings. You would too if you'd been on poggie for three weeks.

For now, I suppose I'm putting the price on my head - which means I'm worth more at home right now than I am an hour away.

Gloria Steinem is pulling my Woman Card...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

When I Grow Up I Want to Be......

The search for the perfect job has been far from idylic.

But then, being laid off during one of the biggest "economic downturns" in recent memory...and during the winter at that, probably isn't helping the situation. Neither is the fact that I'm so used to being busy that having any kind of down time is rather unnerving. Oh, and add to that the daily updats that I'm asked for. People are genuinely interested and concerned, but one does tend to go against the odds when they are looking for employment in a rural area with a Communications background.

There is always another school of thought...

"What did you want to be when you grew up?" asks First Born Son.

The laughter that comes from me takes him back - and in that split moment the hurt and confusion that crosses his stabs at my heart. At what point to we stop believing in what we could be? When does the reality of mortgages, bills and responsibility cloud over the sunny possibilities?

I don't believe in regret. There is nothing in my life I would do over differently - even this time I'm in now. I'm heading toward something, I just have to wait until the timing clicks and I set sail again in a new direction.

So I'm not wallowing in self pity, or despair that I should have done something different with my life. But FBS's question has brought to life a new consideration - I want to love what I do.

If you look at the School Days archive my parents maintained for me, you would have seen a young girl who dreamed of being a cowgirl, a vet and eventually a stewardess. This echoed my interests at the time, animals and travel.

While I have been fortunate enough to travel without having to incorporate handing out snack-sized peanuts, my extent of being around animals has been limited to have a dog - and I look forward to someday having the time and resources to have a horse once again.

What I have now is a young family and I love the time I have right now to do all the cliche house-mommy tasks I've struggled to cram in while balancing a job - baking, cleaning, getting jobs done while the kids are at school so I can enjoy my time with them when they are home. Was it what I planned when I was seven? No, but at the time I didn't realize what all of my options were.

So as far as what I wanted to be when I grew up...perhaps I still have some growing to do!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For

So, how's your 2011 treating you?

Just days shy of the first month ending and a month since Christmas (longer since since I've checked in here - more on that in a minute - patience!)

At Casa Bowery, life has been nothing if not unpredictable. Starting back at the week before Christmas - The Big Guy was head hunted and accepted a job that not only offered greater compensation, but also recognized individual achievement. He has a company truck which means we only have one vehicle on the road. After 23 years with his previous employer - this was as close to a Christmas Miracle as we were going to get!

The Christmas Holidays were frantic, visiting with family and sharing the good news. Hosted Christmas Morning Brunch, add a hockey tournament, no, actually two, and enjoyed a small get together with our friends for New Year's Eve. Put this all together you can imagine why at the end of the week, I was practically in the fetal position. All I could think of was, I need a vacation from the vacation!

I had my next entry all ready - the week that The Big Guy started his new job, I was ready to share the big issue facing my little family - how to share a morning with a father who's had 23 years of peace and tranquility - aka - Welcome To The Real World Big Guy! It still may come, but isn't really relevent right now...

But Life - well, every now and then Life likes to pick you up by the back of the collar, hoof you in the hiney with a frozen work boot and then wash your face with snow, just for laughs.

This cruel form of karma came back the first day of TBG's first day on the new job. We all made a fuss when he left - as proud of him for keeping his cool with two kids and wife "underfoot" as we were of him heading off to the next stage of his career.

When he came home, the kids were all over him. They wanted to know every detail of his day - which he gave in spite of the fact that he was mentally exhausted and looked like he'd run a brain marathon.

So I let him share his stories, show us is lap top, the truck, the new cell phone and all the other details that make little boys glow with envy and pride. After the kids were weary of his accounts, I took the moment to give him some news about my day.

I was laid off. Indefinitely.

Happy First Day at Work Honey!

Being in the manufacturing industry, I had some idea that things were slow, but to say I was caught off guard by this news would not only be misleading, it would be hilarious.

He was very supportive and understanding and I felt like a heel for raining on his parade. We agreed to save telling the kids until the end of the week - which was to have been my last day.

Except, it wasn't. Higher ups in the company decided it would be best for me to leave immediately, as is the nature of Sales. So on Tuesday, I was packing up my desk and back to the house by 11 a.m. As long as I was being paid, I might as well start looking for the next job, right?

Finally, the Heir and the Spare come home from school.

"What are you doing home mom," asks First Born Son.

"Where is your brother?" I reply - yes, diversion is an acceptable tactic.

"He's coming - I threw his toque in the ditch and he's gone back to get it. Why are you home?" he repeated.

"Oh, I've been home all afternoon," I respond - do you see what I'm doing here???

"MOM Why are you home?!" At this point, I realize the poor little bastard is JUST. LIKE. ME. I would totally have done the same thing. Your Spidey Sense is tingling, isn't it FBS?

"JEEZ FBS, take it easy, you just got in the door, I'm wondering where you brother is - do you need to go help him?!" The tone tells him to take a break, and he does, but only for a moment.

Second Born Son finally arrives, asks almost the same question but is satisfied with the "I've been home all afternoon" line. He's so his father's son.....

I had hoped to wait until TBG got home, and don't ask me why. Because it would sound better with him in the room? Dunno. FBS waited all of ten minutes and came at me again.

So I get both of them in the same room and share my good news.

"WHAT? Why would you take a job where you could get laid off???" FBS demands. I'm astonished to see he is REALLY mad. It takes a moment to realize that he thinks I could have prevented this from happening which is why he has a small measure of anger directed at me, but the larger portion is aimed at the business for letting me go. He also admits that he thought we'd won the lottery since over the holidays apparently I had indicated that I would quit my job if we ever hit the jackpot. (Uh, it's pretty much the opposite of that...)

After I explain that any job can be subjected to a lay off, and that in this economy, millions of people have been in this position for much longer. I reassure them that I will be looking for a new job and that we don't anticipate any changes in our household for a while. His tone changes and it becomes evident that he's worried about me, but his surprise got the best of him.

At that point I realize, SBS has been rubbing my back and giving a reassuring pat ever since I told them. He hasn't uttered a word and when I look at him to thank him for his comforting gesture, he stops me mid sentence and gives me a huge hug. I love this kid!

The shock of the news was soften considerably by the fact that I had dinner in the oven and was giving a most delicious aroma. Immediately they seemed to register that there were some advantages to having Mama Bear around.

In the week since this has happened, I've painting the exposed flooring in the upstairs hallway, tidied up countless boxes that were half unpacked, set up the hutch in the dining room and emptied at least 10 boxes of china, decor items and silverware. The living room actually looks like a living room instead of a drop zone for everything from action figures to saws,and the laundry is totally caught up! I'm ready to tackle SBS's closet which requires some shelves to be built. Power tools anyone?

Fortunately, my contact at the local newspaper is thrilled to have more of my time and I will be writing more than I have in years. Stepping back into journalism is like putting on your favorite pair of jeans - the ones that went out of style for a while, but now are so retro they are cool again.

I love the fact that I have a skill I can use in a freelance capacity, and plan on using this as an example for my boys when it comes time to choose a career path.

Finally TBG comes home, and since from the boys perspective, this is "news", SBS greets him at the door.

"Hey Dad, I've got good news and bad news. The good news is, dinner is ready! The bad news is, Mom lost her job!"

Factual, to the point and direct. I wonder if this boy has a future in reporting?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

'Twas the Week Before Christmas....

Christmas is here.

Don't fool yourself - that it's only the 25th, because honey, we spend an entire MONTH preparing for this, so in my opinion, it's all part of Christmas.

So with boxes slowly melting away and Christmas decorations being pulled from their storage, we have a house that is an interesting blend of "Art Reno" and "Martha Stewart's Christmas Nightmare". Every candle I have been given that says "Christmas" is in the large front window, and in the 10 seconds I dash through that room, they call to me, begging for organization, thought, design.

Sure, later.

I have six squares done which is approximately, one...two...three....SIX more than I planned to make. So thumbs up for me! I don't, however, have all the wrapping done. At this point, the dining room has paid for itself as a storage facility for wrapping paper, bows, tape and every present I've bought this year. You have no idea the amount of satisfaction I get in pulling the door closed and walking away from that disaster.

As mentioned previously, I side stepped Christmas cards by issuing Thanksgiving/Halloween/Christmas greetings before we moved. My logic was to provide those near and dear with our new address and be able to relax in the weeks leading up to the "Blessed Day."

While those I have received do have the new address on them, I have vowed that whoever does NOT send me a card this year will NOT receive them from me in the future. Harsh? Yes. Un-Christian? Most likely. Rewarding as all Hell? Definitely. After 17 years of buying, scribing and paying postage for cards, I can say I've done my due diligence for those who have enjoyed and not reciprocated. YOU ARE CUT OFF!

The Big Guy and I have decided to take a year off gifting each other. Basically, the house is a gift enough, aside from the fact that the new TV is my gift to the family. We don't need more and we're trying to share this concept with the boys.

Fortunately, I've heard comments such as "When can I wrap Second Born Son's present Mom?" and "Mom! I have a couple of ideas for Christmas for First Born Son!" They get the idea of giving and we've already told them that in the grand scheme of things, they will not see a lot of presents under the tree this year. Ironically, it hasn't fazed them in the slightest - they are more excited about going to church Christmas Eve!

Which tells me we are heading in the right direction with this parenting thing. Cue the Angel Choir!

Friday, November 26, 2010

SH!# They Don't Tell You About Moving

The move may be over, the fallout is still everso evident.

With the priority being to set up the boys rooms, I can honestly say, I haven't been in their rooms, other than to drop off laundry, for two weeks.

Has it really been two weeks????

Sadly yes, and I actually have figured out where the squeak is in the hallway and how to avoid stepping on it early in the morning when head to the bathroom.

No more boxes have been emptied the boys bedrooms because they need their shelves screwed to the walls to display the neverending assortment of trophies, medals and other "essential" display items.

Every trip to the garage is a return route with another box. How did we get so many freakin' BOOKS?

With each box marked KITCHEN I feel like a kid at Christmas. Will THIS be the box that has the dish drying rack???? NO, APPARENTLY NOT.

I also cannot find the HD Box for the fibre hook up. So I have a kick-ass TV which has poorer quality than a computer monitor. Niiiiice. I have actually taken the time to sit on the new sofa, if for no other reason than to make sure it's as comfy as I remember it being in the show room. The Big Guy has fallen asleep on it already - so it's officially been christened.

If terrorists burst into my home and took an appliance hostage - it had better be the microwave, because when my new dishwasher comes in the door, it will become the most prized posession (ahead of some of the individuals for that matter) because hand washing dishes is just about killing me. Aside from the time it takes, my hands have suffered enough with the brutal weather chapping them. My dreams of being a hand model have been dashed. That being said, it would be CONSIDERABLY easier if SOMEONE WOULD FIND THE FREAKN' DISH DRYING RACK!!! HAVE YOU EVEN LOOKED????

I love the concept of finding a place for something, then someone else (you can guess who) comes along and doesn't think it's a logical place for that item, and then relocates it - without sharing with the original individual where it has been relocated to. There are also the random calls at work or on the cell to ask where such-in-such is now being stored. Good Times.

Sparky the Wonder Dog is actually starting to relax - THANKS BE TO GOD. For days he would go out the front door, do his "business" 10 feet from the door and high-tail it back to the stoop and whimper to be let back in. Pretty lame for a big strapping mutt, not to mention the front lawn was giving an unusual aroma to the front entrance when the wind hit certain angles.

We even tried to get him out to the back lawn to explore the 2.5 acres we bought for this very purpose. Within seconds of hitting the deck, he was instantly around to the front entrance again, fearful that we might have forgotten he was out there.

This weekend marks the first official event at Casa on the Hill. Second Born Son's birthday is coming up and we'll celebrate with family this weekend. Here's hoping we don't have to use boxes to seat everyone around the table!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Can you have more than one Wedding of the Century? Just askin'....

I'm a Royalty fanatic - particularly British Royalty. Loved Princess Diana, to the point that a friend and I even went to Toronto to see her collection of dresses when the exhibit was on tour.

So for years I've been waiting for an engagement announcement from Prince William and his long-time accessory - Kate Middleton. You can imagine my annoyance when I discovered in bits in pieces of radio new broadcasts during my move two weeks ago, that he had indeed popped the question.

I didn't have my fibre hooked up yet - I was without TV or computer. Yup - it was ugly.

So my first few days back in the loop saw me scouring for any and all information on the engagement. It wasn't hard to find! Along with the details of the announcement were every Tom, Dick & Harry's take on what they wore and specifically, THE RING.

Let's face it - we girls know it's all about the ring. Even if you aren't a huge jewellry fan - the ring is what tells the world the status of your relationship. The style of the ring tells more about the personalities of the couple, and to some people, the size indicates their affluence.

Kate got Diana's ring. (In case you've been in a cave for the past 30 years - it's a beautiful Sapphire surrounded by diamonds.)

Suddenly, all the experts in the world start spouting off about how the ring is cursed - "Look, Diana wore it - had a miserable marriage that fell apart and then she DIED!" "The ring is a bad omen - will Kate have to worry about a Camilla in her marriage?" "What does Diana's ring mean to Kate and why would William give it to her?"

1. A ring is not capable of controlling fate. It was pretty much determined inanimate objects didn't have mystical powers around 400 years ago.
2. Yes, Diana made the ring famous, but she also took it off once she was divorced. It was left to her sons at the time of her death, for them to share and whichever son decided to propose first would have the option of using the ring. William asked Harry and he agreed that Kate should get the ring.
3. William has wonderful memories of his mother. He is a very thoughtful individual - remember this is the man who as a young boy would tuck tissue under the bathroom door for his distraught mother. Suffice it to say - anything he does, he does with purpose.
4. The fact that he gave Kate THE RING says more about the man he has become. While some would thing he's living in the past, I would suggest he's ready to shape the future. If he was tied to the sad mystique of the ring, he would never have given to the woman he wants to be his wife and future queen. It's because he loves the ring, his mother and the memories of his childhood, that he wants to bring these elements together in his future. I'm sure the rest of the Royal Family wasn't thrilled to have THE RING take centre stage - but again - William is proving he is his own man. Brava!
5. Call me crazy, but I'm fairly certain if Kate was opposed to wearing THE RING, she wouldn't be. Any woman with half a brain realizes this is a beautiful piece of jewelry. Kate can give it a happier ending and eventually, it will be known as Kate's Ring.
6. A couple who have been together for eight years (save for one brief break) has nothing in a couple who met and married within 18 months. Prince Charles spent his entire youth dating every eligible (and some ineligible) woman between London and Vancouver in hopes of finding someone willing to put up with his oddities AND the burden of becoming a Queen of England. I must admit - it's ironic how the rules have changed - Lady Di had to prove she was a virgin before her wedding, and yet Kate has basically been living with William for over two years. I'm pretty sure it's not so he doesn't have to worry about late night post date transportation....

Inevitably, there have been comparisons to Diana, and I love the fact that Prince William led the charge by pointing out the ring means his mother could be a part of his engagement experience. Again, as much as the Royal Family would prefer to leave mention of Diana's name to a tacky fountain in a park, her son is bringing it front and centre; as any son would do during such a joyous occasion as a wedding.

I look forward to buying MANY magazines, taking in any TV programs dedicated to the April nuptials and perhaps even picking up a book or two after the fact. I still have the book I bought in 1981 when Diana & Charles were married, back when it was called the Wedding of the Century.

Perhaps the second time is the charm?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Letter To Our House

While normally I would have a thoughtful tribute for Remembrance Day, I can say with confidence that I don't have the brain matter to do that right now.

With the remaining brain cells I have left, I can only focus on one thing. We move tomorrow. There is only one thing I could write about today....

A Letter To Our House
Dear Little House,
I must admit, when I first met you, it was not love at first sight. But I'm sure you thought the same of me. I didn't bring much to the table and you must have cringed when you heard some of the ideas I was developing.

With your little green roof and your orange brick, you looked like a big peach sitting without benefit of shade on the quiet little street. The back patio was made coarsely from masonry material and therefore chipping away. The single little tree on the south side of the back yard could have snapped off in a strong wind.

But your were OUR first home. You are the home where I learned how to be a wife and eventually a mother. We became a family here with you. You tolerated our dogs and friends with kids as crazy as ours and with every transformation we put you through, you seemed to get better with age.

We planted trees to give you some privacy and shade; designed gardens to enhance your features and eventually, threw on an addition that allowed us to stay with your 8 years longer than we would have otherwise. We made you a little cottage home.

The Big Guy and I have looked at houses almost from the time we moved in to you. You never gave us a moment's grief and yet we spent 17 years looking for something else. If the sale never happened, we would have been fine to stay with you. We would have continued to make improvements, and reinvent you. But this is where we part.

Thank you for being our shelter. Thank you for being the frame for some of my fondest memories - and some of the more difficult ones. I will never forget the feeling I had when we brought Second Born Son home from the hospital in a brutal snow storm. "We are HOME!" I will never forget the indigation both boys had when a neighbor's party left evidence on your front lawn. I was so proud of how they felt - frustration, anger, indignation. They know we took care of you, and they learned how to value their things by taking care of you too.

After tomorrow, I won't come by even regularly - I don't believe in looking back like that, but when I drive by, I will wonder if the mural is still in First Born Son's room, if your new owners love the bench in the back hall as much as I did, if they can appreciate the back yard for what it was and is now?

I hope and pray they live as happy a life there as we have had, and that they come to love you as much as we do.

May your eaves always drain downhill,