Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Looking back before looking forward...

How does this happen?? I mean, really. It seems like we were just welcoming in 2008. I blinked, and now 2009 is just two days away. My mom always told me that the older you get, the faster time seems to pass. She was right!

Overall, 2008 has been a great year for my family... and for me personally. Of course, it had it's ups and downs...but overall it's been good.

Good things that have happened this year (in no particular order):

- became an aunt/Nanny for the 3rd time!! Yeaaaa for Baby James!! I love him so much!!

- reconnected with my bestest friend,
Dawn !!

- worked really hard on and have gotten better at opening up. Still have a long way to go, but I'm making progress! It's not always easy, but I don't want to spend my life being an ostrich!

- grown stronger in my faith and become more active in our church

- helped with Hurricane Gustav relief efforts

- grown even closer to my wonderful husband!

- in August Mike got a new, better paying job

- made some new friendships (Summer & Carole)

- learned to be more patient with my children, Lane & Ryan. They are the loves of my life and I thank God for both of them.

- the relationship with me & my daughter has grown from parent/child to parent/young adult. She is awesome and I am so proud of her!! We have come a LONG way this year.

- been there for my mom when she needed me. She is an amazingly strong woman and I am blessed that she is my mom!

- been able to spend more time with my sister and her boys (they are like my other 2 sons!) since she isn't working anymore!! Lauren is my other half, seriously, I would be lost without her!

- learned that even when things/situations don't look good ... to have a deep faith that God is in control and that it will work out according to His plan, not mine.

- through a lot of letter writing, a few phone calls, and (so far) one (going again in January) visit, developed a great relationship with my friend, Dawn's, son, JP. He has always had a special place in my heart and I'll always be there for him!

- started blogging and I love it! Made some really good friends in the "blog world!!"

- reconnected with some real life friends:
Chelle, Kim & Joe

- took a "not-so-popular-in-Louisiana" position in the 2008 Presidential Election.

- witnessed and prayed for my friend,
Carole's, amazing journey of faith and determination to adopt and bring home her beautiful son from Africa!! What an experience for her entire family! I can't wait to meet "A"!

- learned to not be a "lazy" friend. Friendships don't just happen by themselves and they are too important to ignore.

- reconnected with some of my friends from high school! (Ack, my 20 year reunion is in a few months!)

- learned to be thankful, really thankful, for the blessings that me & my family have been given. Blessings, no matter how big or small, are all around all of us. We just have to open our eyes and SEE them.

I hope and pray that each of you has a wonderful, safe, Happy New Year!!
2009 is going to be a GREAT year! I just know it!!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Recent Developments & Changes

WARNING: This will probably be a long, rambling post. I am mostly venting and trying to not be an ostrich any more!

Ok, I am going through something not-so-great right now and have debated back and forth with myself over whether to blog about it or not. Obviously since I'm typing this and you are now reading it, I've decided to go ahead and blog about it. I do not want to continue my ostrich pattern any longer and hopefully I will get some good advice on how to handle this sticky situation.

This story can be a little confusing and somewhat complicated so just bear with me...

Ok, as most of you know my JOB is babysitting children in my home. The money I make from doing this is in no way "extra" money for us. It is used as actual income and goes towards paying the mortgage and our monthly bills.... just like most anyone's paycheck does. It is money that we count on to make ends meet each and every month.

When this job started almost a year and a half ago... my "friend" & neighbor (Mary) approached me about babysitting her 3 kids. I had started working in November 2006 and it lasted only 6 months because I wasn't making enough money to justify the expenses that we incurred so that I could work, daycare, gas, clothes, lunches, etc. Plus, our youngest son Ryan was not handling daycare well at all - to put it mildly. So, she knew we were struggling financially.

It just so happened that Mary's mother (who happens to live across the street from me) had been babysitting her kids and had recently decided that she was not going to continue to babysit any longer. So, Mary came to me to see if I would be interested in babysitting her kids instead of me trying to find another job outside of my home. I had been praying for an answer to our financial problems, and this seemed to be it!! It seemed to be the perfect solution to both of our problems.

Mary's best friend, Michelle, also happened to need a babysitter for her little girl too. I also happen to know Michelle through Mary. So, Michelle approached me and asked if I would be interested in babysitting her daughter as well. Of course, I accepted the offer.

So, that's how it went for an entire year. It was very hectic and stressful ... but I did everything I was asked to do and then some. I kept the kids when I was sick, when my kids were sick, when the kids I babysat were sick, etc.

This year, right before school started, Mary's mother decided she wanted to babysit Mary's 3 kids again. Now, don't get me wrong, I love Mary's mom...but she isn't always dependable to say the least. There is SO much drama with her, it's unreal...but she has a good heart. Anyway.... when Eric (Mary's husband) found out that his mother-in-law wanted to keep the kids again, he was a bit uneasy about it. He was afraid that she would just decide one day out of the blue that she was done babysitting, or that some "health" issue would come up for either her or the grandpa and that on any given day she wouldn't be available for the day, several days or weeks to babysit. Which would mean that Mary & Eric would be stuck without childcare for their 3 kids, which would be a huge problem for anyone.

So, Eric, (who is a lawyer) came over one evening and asked me if I would be the grandma's backup if he committed to me that he would still pay me the same amount each weekly to keep me on "retainer" so to speak. He said that this arrangement would last through the end of the summer of 2009. I felt a little odd about taking money from my friends and not really doing anything... but he assured me that this is what they wanted to do and that it was a small price to pay for security and stability for childcare. So, I accepted their offer. This was right before school started this year.

And, just like Eric thought would happen, there have been several times since school started that the grandma couldn't keep the kids, so I was there to do it. No problem... I held up my end of the deal consistently. In fact, there have been times when their 3 kids just showed up at my front door in the morning without anyone letting me know in advance that I would need to keep them that day.

In the beginning of this arrangement, Mary or Eric would come over and give me a check on time. Lately though, I have had to walk over to their house and ASK for my paycheck. Doing that makes me feel extremely uncomfortable and I've told them that I hate ASKING for it. They have always told me not to feel like that, that they just get busy and forget.

As of Friday, they had not paid me for the past TWO weeks. Finally, I decided to walk over there yesterday and tell them that I need it. Our mortgage payment is due on Jan.1st. So, I get there and Mary is at work. No problem, I'll just talk to Eric. I ask for the check for the two weeks. He says that he doesn't have the checkbook that Mary has it with her at work. (I did eventually get paid for the previous two weeks today - Saturday.) I take a deep breath and ask if everything is ok, and ask if this arrangement is something they want to continue to do because I'm getting a strange feeling about things.

Eric then drops a bombshell.

See, Mary & Eric are planning to take their family to Disney World in February, which I already knew. He then tells me that the law firm he works for has always given their employees a BIG Christmas bonus each year. It turns out that a couple of weeks ago, Mary & Eric had to pay for their trip to get whatever price it was that they were quoted. Well, at that point, Eric had not yet received his bonus. So, he called his mom & stepdad and they agreed to CHARGE their trip to mom & stepdad's credit card. Yes, you heard me. They charged over $3000 to someone else's credit card without having the money to pay them back. Well, guess what happens next?!?! That's right.... turns out that Eric's firm had a change of heart this year and they are not given their employees a bonus at all.

Long story short, Mary & Eric have decided that one place they can cut their monthly expenses is to cut me off. The arrangement that THEY offered to me and that I counted on for income is over. They will use the money they used to pay me to pay his mother back. But wait, it gets even better.

Michelle is also losing her job due to the company that she works for centralizing their sales force to Oklahoma. Her last day of employment is Jan.23rd. Michelle is a single mom with no family in the immediate area. Claire (Michelle's daughter) goes to a private Kindergarten and one of my duties included taking her to and from school. When Michelle found out a few months ago that she was losing her job, she asked if once she finds another job would I please continue to be Claire's babysitter. Of course, I said I would. Problem is now I won't be able to do that since the amount Michelle pays me isn't enough to make ends meet for my family. So, that leaves Michelle up a creek for a babysitter as well. Mary & Eric have agreed to pay me through Jan.23rd.

With all that said...as Jan.23rd...I will no longer be babysitting kids. Unemployed. And, with the kind of "job" I had, I'm not even eligible for unemployment benefits until I can find a new job. This means that I MUST find a job (quickly!) and go back to work outside of the house which means that I may have to put Ryan in daycare and maybe Lane in a before & after school program at a daycare as well.

Needless to say, I am not happy at all. I feel like I was used, betrayed, lied to and taken advantage of. Mike often asks me why I don't have many "girlfriends" that I am really close to...this is a perfect example of why. My close inner circle consists of my sister, my mom, my daughter,my friend Dawn, and my friend Polly (who happens to be Mary's sister!) and that is just fine with me. For years, I considered Mary to be a really good friend of mine. Now, not so much. Lane and Mary's oldest son are best friends, I am close friends with Polly (Mary's sister!), our mothers are friends. Our families are very much intertwined. I am really hurt that they chose to do this.

All of this is happening so that Mary can take her family to Disney World. Eric told me that he asked Mary about cancelling the trip and getting a refund. She told him no that if they did they would lose a $500 deposit and she WANTS to go. Mary was born with a silver spoon in her mouth and I now realize that she wants what she wants when she wants it and will do whatever it takes to make it happen. In my book, this is not how you treat your friends.

So, if anyone in the Baton Rouge/Gonzales/Prairieville area knows of any job openings... please let me know. I would greatly appreciate it.

I fully believe that God has a plan for ALL of us and while I may be surprised by this recent turn of events, He is not. I may not understand His plan, but I have faith in Him and in His plan for me and my family. I have faith that I will find another job and that my family will be ok. Please keep us in your prayers!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you!

I hope that each one of you and your families have a wonderful Christmas filled with love, happiness and peace. Enjoy the time you spend with your families and friends. The best gift we can give each other is our time, our love and kindness.

Let's not forget what Christmas is really about. Yes, it is about a gift...but not the gift you can buy at WalMart or at the Mall.

It is about the ultimate gift that God gave to the people He loves SO very much (us)... His one and only Son. He gave us that gift because of who He is... not who we are or because of something that we have done.

I pray that everyone has a safe and Christmas filled with God's grace and love!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy 4th Birthday Ryan!!

Yesterday, Dec.22nd, my baby turned 4. Yes, my baby boy is now 4 years old. I can't believe it! Where has the time gone?

It was 4 years ago yesterday that I held him for the first time and looked into his beautiful eyes.

It was 4 years ago yesterday that the image of his precious face was engrained into my memory for the rest of my life.

It was 4 years ago yesterday that I heard his cry for the first time and for the first of many times, I was able to calm him, soothe him and quiet him.

It was 4 years ago yesterday that I totally and completely fell in love with my youngest son, Ryan.

My prayer for you is that you will have a long, HAPPY life covered by God's grace and love for you. I pray that you will always be as sweet, as loving, as smart, as happy and as kind are you are today. My hopes and dreams for you far surpass anything I could ever possibly put into words.


And then.

Happy Birthday Ryan, my baby boy. I love you SO very much!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Today's Encouraging Word

Every day I get an email from the AWESOME Christian Radio Station, KLOVE. Todays was great so I wanted to share it. It just seems to fit right now in this season of, what has so sadly become, so very materialistic for so many people. A lot of people lose sight of what Christmas is all about and get lost in the madness of "Gimme Gimme Gimme."

There are a lot of families that for whatever reasons just CAN'T (or maybe won't) get their kids all of the newest, fanciest, most expensive gifts. I am one of those "can't" parents, and if I am going to be completely honest, I admit that it is something that I do struggle with. I have to remind myself sometimes... ok, OFTEN, that big, fancy, expensive gifts are not what Christmas is all about. The greatest gift we have ever received did not cost a dime, although the ultimate price was paid for it. It is so important that we teach this to our children... and also remind ourselves of this as parents.

"A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones."
Proverbs 14:30 NLT

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Is It Just Me???

Or, is anyone else having a panic attack over the fact that there is only one week left until Christmas. Yep, that's right... ONE WEEK!!!

It's crazy. It seriously seems like Thanksgiving was just last week. I mean, I knew Christmas was coming - just like it does every year. But somehow, it is HERE all of a sudden!! How does that happen??

I still have a good bit of stuff to get done before the big day. I spent the better part of yesterday and today shopping, and I'm just about finished. Just 3 people left, I think. God help me to not forget anyone!! Mike's work Christmas party is tomorrow night. And we still have to go see Santa, finish shopping, make goodies, wrap presents, clean the house, go grocery shopping, etc. Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL!!!!

Plus, Lane is in the Christmas program this weekend at church! They will be performing at all 4 services. And guess what?! Lane was given a small speaking part in the program!! I am SO excited and so very, very proud of him!! He is very excited about it too, and he just loves being part of the Kids Worship Team.

Ok, so I'm going to go try to calm myself down so I don't end up in a total and complete panic. I'm taking a deep breath and counting to about a billion. I'll also be chanting the title of Pastor Dino's current series at church: Simple Christmas. Simple Christmas. Simple Christmas...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

50 Random Things

50 random things about you!

I got this from my friend, Dawn's, blog! If you read this, FILL IT OUT! Learn 50 things about your friends, and let them learn 50 things about you!
It's fun...I promise!

1. Do you like cheese? Yes

2. Have you ever smoked? Only a couple of times trying to be cool- yuck!

3. Do you own a gun? Nope. Guns make me nervous!

4. Do you like listening to Christmas music? Yep.

5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Only when they make me get on the scale!

6. What do you think of hot dogs? Yummy with chili.

7. Favorite Christmas song? Joy To The World! & What Child Is This?

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? It's a one-two punch. First, coffee then switch to diet coke!

9. Can you do push ups? This is a joke, right?

10. Who is your favorite Grey's Anatomy Character? I don't watch it much...but McDreamy is easy on the eyes.

11. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? My wedding rings

12. Favorite hobby? Computer Time!

13. Do you eat "exotic" foods? Uhhhh define "exotic!"

14. Do you have A.D.D.? Not officially, but I swear I have "adult onset ADD" if there is such a thing!

15. What one trait do you hate about yourself? Nervousness & my tendency to worry (oops, that was 2!)

16. Middle Name? Marie

17. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment? Need caffiene! My list of things to do today, and this is fun!

18. Name 3 things you bought yesterday? Egg Nog for hubby & Ryan, Diet Coke & Bubble bath

19. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink: Diet Coke, Green Tea & water

20. Current worry right now? My best friend's son, JP, & trying to get everything done before Christmas!

21. Current hate? Hmmmmm...nothing really.

22. Favorite place to be? Home & with family/friends! I love being at HPC too!

23. How did you bring in the New Year? At our neighbor's house for a party and fireworks! Fun!!

24. Where would you like to go? Africa

25. Name three people who will complete this? I have no idea!

26. Do you own flip flops? Well yeah... duhhh!!

27. What shirt are you wearing? Mickey Mouse T-shirt

28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Nope

29. Can you whistle? Not so much.

30. Favorite color? Purple & red

31. Would you be a pirate? No way!

32. What songs do you sing in the shower? None, but I sing like crazy in the car!

33. Favorite girl's name? Grace

34. Favorite boy's name? Daniel (Daniel is Lane's first name!) & Ryan

35. What's in your pocket right now? They're empty...other than some fuzzies!

36. Last thing that made you laugh? A letter from JP and my kids!

37. Best bed sheets as a child? White sheets with little pink flowers.

38. Worst injury you've ever had? Broken rib...ouch!

39. Do you love where you live? Yep!!!

40. How many TVs do you have in your house? 3

41. Who is your loudest friend? Mary

42. How many dogs do you have? None. We're cat people!

43. Does someone have a crush on you? I doubt it!

44. Hmmm.. there's not a 44.

45. What is your favorite book? Danielle Steele, John Grisham & Nicholas Sparks. And of course, the Bible.

46. What is your favorite candy? Anything CHOCOLATE! I especially like Reese's, the sweet & salty thing just works for me :-)

47. Do you know all the words to the Fresh Prince theme song? Most, but not all.

48. What song do you want played at your funeral? I Can Only Imagine, Blessed Be Your Name & The Blessing

49. What were you doing 12 AM last night? Snoozing...

50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up? Uggghhhhhhhhhhh it's time to get up already?? I need coffee!

Ok, that was really fun!! Take a minute and fill it out... I can't wait to read yours!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I'm Baaaacccckkkkkk!

I'm back!!!

After taking a leave of absence from blogging, I am returning to the "Blog World" today. For some reason, I was really "feeling" the blog thing anymore. Why? I'm not sure. Maybe I felt like I didn't really have much to share or much that seemed "important." It seemed like for a while, I was in a funk. I HATE it when that happens.

See, it seems that when I get stressed out, overwhelmed, worried or upset...I act like an ostrich and stick my head in the sand and withdraw from people. I've been that way for most of my adult life. I'm sure it is a result of going through some rough things in life and is some kind of messed up defense mechanism. However, it is something that I truly do not like about myself. So, I am working really hard on changing that.

Thank God my sister, Lauren, and my friend, Dawn, refuse to let me get away with it and they have been known to pull my head out of the sand for me! LOL!!

A couple of weeks ago they (Lauren & Dawn) asked about my blog and said that my last post was about Hurricane Ike approaching and that it looked like (from the blog) that I got washed away by the storm and never came back!! Oops!! Obviously, that did not happen - THANK GOD!

Life is too good, and too short for me to act like an ostrich. Like Pastor Mike says, "I'm too blessed to be depressed!" I have been blessed in so many ways that I can't even count the blessings... it's time that I start acting like it!

So... yes, I am back. Thank you Lauren, Dawn, Summer and Carole for checking on me and for being my FRIENDS!!