Monday, June 28, 2010

For My Son

My dear sweet Kai,

When you first came in to my life 10 years ago, I couldn't fathom that I could love someone so much. Just as Daddy filled a hole in my heart, you filled the rest and made it whole.


With every day that has passed since the day you were born, I have learned more about myself than I could ever imagine. Because of you, I am stronger than I ever thought possible. Because of you, I have learned when to be firm and when to give in. OK, I'm still working on that one, because to be honest, I think I give in more than I should. I think you know that I'm a sucker!

Even though you sometimes make me nuts, I would not trade my life as your mom for anything on this earth. Your smile and laugh, your goofy sense of humor and your sweet tenderness make every eye roll (yours, not mine), exasperated sigh and occasional temper tantrum worth it.

I'm sure that Daddy would agree with me that you have made our lives much richer for being a part of it. You are truly our blessing, and we treasure every moment with you.

I don't want to even begin to imagine how quickly the next 10 years are going to go by. A part of me wants you to stay just as you are, but I can't wait to see the man you will grow up to be. Maybe I'm biased, but I think you're going to be a pretty spectacular adult!

So happy, happy birthday, my darling boy. Know that I am always here for you, and will love to the moon and back for all time.

Love,
Mom

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wild Kingdom

While I've been outside for my garage sale for the past couple of days, slow roasting in the hot Kansas sun, I've been thoroughly entertained by these characters-


Aren't they cute?! Three baby foxes have made a home for themselves in the storm drain at the end of our street. Now I know that foxes can be dangerous critters, but they really are cute right now. They come out all throughout the day, popping up out of the drain to lay out on the grass. As soon as a car comes along or someone walks out of their house, they zip back down the drain. Their mom and dad are occasionally spotted running quickly around the neighborhood, searching for food for the young'uns.

The bad thing about having nature so close to us is that people are very curious about these critters. Two women were at my sale and looked down the street and started freaking the hell out! 'OMG, they are so CUTE!!', one of them squealed. The two women tiptoed down the street, seeing how close they could get. Then, they came back up to my house and asked if I had any hot dogs they could feed the foxes. WTH?! OK, first of all, I have serious hot dog snobbery issues, and the weenies I buy are expensive. I'm not about to give them away. Second of all, and most importantly, we are not going to feed the frigging wild animals! If you feed them, they don't learn to fend for themselves, and they shouldn't rely on humans to provide for them. Really? You want to give hot dogs to foxes?

That's not as bad as the lady who came by a while later, though. She stopped when one of the adult foxes ran in front of her car, and she told me, 'I don't know what kind of animals these things are, but Animal Control wants to know where they are so they can trap them.' I'm sorry but I don't believe her, she doesn't even know what a fox is! Plus, I had called Animal Control myself to see if the foxes posed any threat, and what would happen to them if they got picked up. AC explained to me that they will not pick up a wild animal unless it exhibits signs of rabies, such as stumbling while walking or other strange behavior. They will not be trapping them or putting them down or anything else. So whatever, crazy lady.

I imagine that when they grow up, they'll move along, but for now,they are fun to watch. They're not hurting anyone, and they don't mess with any of the neighborhood pets. Heck, they were playing with one of the local cats the other day! I've noticed that our rabbit and squirrel populations have dwindled a bit recently, so I'm pretty sure the foxes don't need my hot dogs!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Garage Sale- You're Doing it Right!

Even though this year's garage sale has been a crap ton of work, it was a huge success. I made some mad money this time out. A few people I work with have asked how to 'do' a garage sale, and Ashley asked in the comments on my post for the other day, so here's a rundown of what's worked for me.

1. Be organized. On everything! As you go through the things you're going to sell, sort them in to 'departments'. Dishes and glasses go together, but your old roller-skates don't really go with them. If your stuff is well organized when you set it out, it makes it easier for people to look at it, and they're more likely to buy. I put all of the dishes, glasses and 'housewares' type items all on one table. I had craft, fabric and sewing items all near the sewing machine I had for sale. All the toys were together in another 'zone'. I used an old DVD rack as a bookshelf for all the books I sold. When you take a few extra minutes to make everything look presentable, you will sell a lot more. And yes, you'll probably have to spend some time straightening it all back up, but it's really not a big deal. Make sure everything you set out is clean! If you're putting out clothes, make sure they're not dirty or smell like mothballs. Take a minute to dust something off or wipe it down. Nobody will want to buy something that looks grungy. Oh, and one more thing. The Husband thought I was crazy because I didn't set every single thing out at once. I chose to bring out stuff only as I sold the items I already had out. That way, my tables weren't overcrowded, and I had a better variety of things for people to look out. I think this works really well if you are doing a 2-day sale.

2. Advertise! I listed our garage sale on Craigslist because it's free, and I invested in a couple of signs from Home Depot. Put a sign at the main entrances to your neighborhood, and put a sign at the edge of your property to let people know that they've come to the right place.

3. Price everything. I bought some garage sale labels at Wal-Mart and it was worth it. Put the price sticker on the front of everything unless it's something hand painted and then put it on the back. People have told me that they don't know how to price their goodies. It's tough, because you might remember how much you paid for that wedding dress, but that's not a guarantee that it's still worth what you paid for it. Everything depreciates, whether we want to admit it or not. If you have a family antique that you think should get top dollar, don't sell it at a garage sale. For something like that, go through a consignment shop or an antiques dealer. Think about your things like you are a garage sale shopper. Would you pay more than $75 for a used wedding gown? Really? I priced all of our stuff really cheap. Glasses went for no more than .50 each, and I was willing to make a deal if they bought a set.

4. Have enough cash on hand and keep it close to you. If you can, have one person running your cash box. It's easier to keep track of the money if only one person is taking in the profits. If you're having a large sale, get about $75-$100 in cash. Make sure you have a roll of quarters, some fives and some ones. I've noticed that most people who came to my sale always paid in ones or fives. Do NOT take checks. Unless they are a family member or a trusted friend, it's just not worth the hassle of taking a check from a stranger. I made sure I listed 'cash only' on my Craigslist ad.

5. Set up early and take down on time. List your times in your ad and on your signs. My sale ran from 9AM-4PM each day. I began setting up around 7:45AM each morning, and people would start driving up immediately. They are like vultures who can smell a sale from a mile away! If they want to look while you're setting up, it's up to you as to how to best handle it. My experience was that if I politely told them that I wasn't quite ready yet, they would come back. I don't know how I was that polite so early in the morning, especially without coffee, but somehow I did it. I would start tearing down right at 4PM, maybe about 10 minutes before.

6. Finally, have some reinforcements! It's near impossible to run a garage sale single handed. You need to have a break every now and then to have a bite to eat, take a bathroom break, count your money, etc. And when it's all over and done, make sure you take down your signs! Nothing is sadder than seeing a sign and heading for a sale, only to find out that it was the previous weekend.

So have fun kids, and get out there and make some money!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Vacation That Wasn't

When I hear the word 'vacation', I always think of this-


(yes, I know it's not the original, but the embedding is blocked for that video)

Anyway, my week off from work has been anything but an idyllic 80's romp. It has been some hard-ass work! I am going to need at least a week at work to recover from this death march of cleaning, sorting, pricing, throwing away, cursing, eye-rolling, etc.

Don't get me wrong, I have had some fun, and as soon as I remember what it was, I'll tell you. The majority of the week has been spent getting ready for the garage sale that we started today. I always forget what a huge undertaking a garage sale is!

Somehow though, I pulled myself together and with the Husband's and Chickenhead's help, we got set up this morning. Wow, people who shop at garage sales on Thursday mornings are serious about their shopping. They are c-r-a-z-y! I had one guy come by while I was setting up and I politely told him that we would be ready in about another half hour. He drove by six times after that to see if we were open. Finally he came up and said he was on his way back home, so could he just look around? I said sure, because he was feeling kind of stalker-ish, and boy am I glad he did. He spent a whole quarter!

I make it a point to say hello to everyone and give them a smile, but some people look like they would rather get their eyes gouged out with a hot spork than be at a garage sale. Why are they even out in public?

At least we had free entertainment while we were outside. In the storm drain down at the end of the cul-de-sac, a den of foxes have made themselves a home. The three baby foxes pop in and out of the drain all day long, spending time playing in the neighbor's yard and lying in the shade of their tree. While it's kind of cool to see them, it's also un-nerving to see how comfortable they seem to be in our neighborhood. They come out all hours of the day, and don't seem to mind us humans at all.

So, I'll be back out there tomorrow, and I really hope I sell the rest of what I have left. It's going to be hotter than you know what tomorrow and Saturday, and I would much rather be in the AC!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Read More Than Just The Internet (really!)

So I thought I would try writing a book review every once in a while. I love to read all kinds of books, and I decided that if I read something that really moved me, I would share it with you. OK, here we go...

The Kindness of Strangers, by Katrina Kittle

This is the story of Sarah Laden, a recently widowed mother to boys, 11-year old Danny, and 17-year old Nate. Set in a small Ohio town, Sarah is a professional caterer still trying to get over the death of her husband Ned. Her close friend, Courtney Kendrick, has been right at Sarah's side the entire time.

Sarah's world spins out of control the day she finds Courtney's son Jordan trying to run away from home. The events that follow make Sarah and her sons question everything they know about the people they love and trust.

Without giving away more of the story, I will warn you that this book deals very frankly with the subject of sexual abuse. While Katrina Kittle doesn't go in to graphic detail, there's more than enough detail to make you (well, me anyway)uncomfortable. I think this book could definitely be a trigger for someone who has suffered similar abuse.

That being said, I read the book in about two days. Was it that well-written? No, but the story was compelling, without being too much of a trainwreck. The story focuses mainly on Sarah, her son Nate, Courtney's son Jordan. I'll admit, I wasn't thrilled with how the lead character, Sarah, was written; she comes off as being way too naive and too trusting. Maybe that was the author's intent all along, but I found myself thinking, 'God, what a dumbass!' more than once.

If nothing else, 'The Kindness of Strangers' is a story of healing. All of the characters had individual obstacles in their lives that they were struggling to overcome. I would recommend it with a warning; if you don't think you can handle the abuse aspect, take a pass on this one. The subject matter is heart-breaking, no matter how delicately it's handled.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Success!!

So, last night I got to meet my brother (heee!!!) James and his family. Let me tell you about it...

Throughout most of the day yesterday, I was kind of nervous. I was looking forward to meeting them, but at the same time, thinking, 'maybe we shouldn't'. I had some last minute self doubts; what if he didn't like me? What if Chickenhead didn't get along with his cousins? But when it came time to go, I was OK.

And it turned out that all of that self doubt was for naught. In a way, it was like we have always known each other. James and I looked at a few photos that I took with me, and we could definitely see the family resemblance between my mom and him, and his daughter. We talked about all the strange coincidences in our lives; he grew up about three blocks away from the house that Mom bought in 1989. James now lives about three blocks away from my late uncle's home, my mom's brother, who was also named James. He went to grade school right across the street from where nearly all of my family is buried. Pretty much all of our lives, we've never been more than 15 minutes away from each other.

Chickenhead and his new cousins got along like they've been friends forever. We felt so at ease with James and his wife, Mary, that it seemed like the most natural thing in the world for us to all be together. The Husband really enjoyed spending time talking soccer and sports with James, and it seems like they might have a lot in common.

All in all, I wouldn't change a thing. Well, except for maybe one. I FORGOT TO TAKE ANY PICTURES!!! I know my friend Carol just screamed 'what?!' right now, but I totally forgot. I took my camera and everything, but we were so busy talking that I never even thought about taking pictures. I will take pictures the next time we meet, for sure!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Things Get Interesting...

OK, so. As I was riding the bus home tonight, I was checking email on my phone. I had a message from someone on Facebook. I didn't recognize the name, so I opened up the email. The gentleman asked if I was related to Judith Ann G (my mom) from KCK. I tried to think- was this someone maybe mom had worked with at the community center or at the bank? I replied that yes, she was my mom, but I was sorry to say that she had passed away. I asked if he knew her.

The reply I got could have knocked me over with a feather. If I had not been on the bus, I'm pretty sure I would have screamed! He replied that no, he did not know my mother but...he was born on June 9, 1977. He had adoption paperwork with my mom's name on it. My mom had a son, NOT a daughter! I have a brother!

We discussed so much and still have much more to learn from each other. He's married with a family, has a good job and loves life. He's not bitter or resentful of the fact that Mom gave him up for adoption at all. He was blessed to have been adopted in to a loving family, with lots of brothers and sisters and parents who truly cared.

We talked about our kids, our lives, almost anything we could think of. We're going to meet this coming weekend. I'm looking forward to it, but at the same time, will let him determine how close he wants to be, how much he wants to know. I'm determined not to pressure him in any way.

Isn't it funny? He called on his birthday, almost 7 months to the day after Mom's passing. All this time I was fretting over looking for what I thought was my sister, I actually had a brother who has lived in the area his entire life. When he found Mom's name on his adoption papers, he had found me online within about 30 minutes.

I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, and that things fall in to place exactly when they are meant to. My life never ceases to amaze me!