Thursday, May 28, 2009

Goodbye to hugging?

I just watched a report on some morning news show that some schools across our country are banning hugging between students as well as students and teachers.

As the mother of a hugger I have to disagree with this. My daughter's teacher always mentions how much my daughter hugs her. Not a surprise. She hugs me at such random moments throughout the day. She hugs her friends all the time. In fact, we met a little girl from another class at her school in Wal-Mart. I have never seen this girl before but the girls ran to each other and embraced like they were old friends who have not seen each other in 20 years. And each time we saw them in another aisle of the store they screamed and ran to each other to hug. We practically had to pry them away from each other. But the little girl's mom and I thought it was so sweet. They are 6 years old. And showing such affection is amazing to me.

I remember when I started hugging like that. I was in Junior High. When my mom would pick me up from school after track practice I would have to hug EVERYONE goodbye, including the coach. She often commented about my sudden hugging habit and how long it took me to leave!

If you know me I am not an overly affectionate person. In fact, my friends here in Louisiana who hug and kiss each other (including husbands they barely know - that one is for you Amy Y!) have a running joke about my defenses against asking me about my religion and hugging/kissing as a greeting.

Now, don't get me wrong. I hug. But as an adult I have unconsiously put up a barrier and am choosier about who I hug and kiss as a greeting. That said, I must admit my LA friends have broken down that barrier and it is nice to hug and kiss as a greeting. The better I know someone the more likely it is that i might actually initiate the hug/kiss greeting myself! Even with other's husbands! He He!

I'm from Ohio for crying out loud. Give me a break. We typically only hug family on greeting. And the funny thing that i noticed is that I never hug my very close friends who live here from Wisconsin and Michigan. Even if I am as close to them as my LA born/raised friends. I think they have the same upbringing on personal space and greetings!

Anyway, here is my point. The news cast showed these kids hugging. I think it is great! The world is cold enough. And i remember how it was at that age. Why not allow people to share their emotions, feelings with others they feel close with. Even if it is a teacher. Of course, as the kids said in the newscast there are boundaries to be respected but it makes them feel good. Who knows what is going on at home. Teen years can be turbulant and depending on your friends or teachers when things are rough with your parents is a good thing if you ask me. Kids need support systems outside their family.

I remember how important my relationships were with my teachers. They gave me confidence and support that my parents didn't. Not that my parents weren't supportive. They were! But, they weren't in that school with me daily. It was a type of support that a parent couldn't possibly understand or give. And in addition, having close relationships with adults outside of your parents at that age is critical. You learn about yourself. You often times absorb what they say more willingly than if from a parent. You learn about life in a way your parents might now be able to teach you just because an adult might have a different life experience. I remember one of my teachers wrote me a letter when I graduated about going off to college and leaving my legacy. He went to the same college I was going to so we had that connection. I felt connected to him in that way. And he hugged me daily. I have pictures of him and I on graduation day stashed away with that letter. At the time, his friendship was very important to me.

Why should we ban one more good thing from kid's lives? We just make our world colder. Allow kids to show affection. Allow them to build relationships. If boundaries are a worry, then teach them the difference.

Keep hugging. If you need a hug. Drive south.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Inspired by Miley Cyrus of all people

Anyone who knows me personally knows that the last 3 years of my life have been a stuggle for different reasons. It is something that I cope with daily and try to push my way through. In my mind that is the only way to get through it.

Yesterday was just one of those days where I was just not having a good day. I am trying to meet deadlines and projects weren't going well no matter how long I sat in front of this computer. Frustration took over.

So I got a good nights sleep (meaning i went to bed before midnight) and woke up this morning and took a nice long walk by myself with my headphones. I started out just walking as usual. I used to run a lot more a few years back but keep wimping out on getting back into it. Then, Miley Cyrus's song "The Climb" came on and I like that song. But this time with no one but myself and the road in front of me around I actually really listened to the lyrics. And these words, as cheesy as it may sound, inspired me and I turned my walk into a run. It relates to well to my current situation and I needed a little positive this morning . . .

The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I'm not breaking

I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most
Just gotta keep going

And I, I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on

'Cause there's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb

In the homestretch of my run when I was feeling like walking the rest of the way home a car passed me coming from behind. As it passed I looked over to my right at it and saw the person had their window rolled down and their arm stuck out giving me a thumbs up. Needless to say, I ran the whole way home. Thanks stranger from my neighborhood for giving me encouragement to keep going!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Got my hair chopped - $14.50 at Cuts Plus (what a bargain for how cute and sassy it is. Hubby loves seeing my neck! I went very short!)

Had a job interview - still thinking about the offer and what my counter will be.

Still working - freelance work has been lucrative and is still coming in . . . will be working all weekend.

Almost out of diapers - My Boy has been doing great with the potty training. Can't believe he has gone so many days without an accident. He took so much longer than my daughter. Now to work on getting that thumb out of his mouth. Goal is by his 3rd b-day in July.

Got a free microwave - our 26 year old microwave died. I posted on the northshore freecycle yahoo group that I was looking for a working over the range 30". Sure enough someone had one laying around they weren't using. It is 10 years newer than our old one, same exact brand and style (just newer) and fits and works perfectly! Nothing like getting something for free!

I know someone with Swine Flu - My friend B is from Mexico city. She just posted on Facebook that her dad who still lives in Mexico City has Swine Flu. Not good.

Last week of school - My girl will be finishing Kindergarten this week. It is bittersweet. She told me yesterday that in 4 more day she gets to hang out with me all summer. How sweet. I bet she changes her tune after week 1.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Oh My Shit!

So My Boy and I were sharing a little walk today and something happened. I don't even recall what exactly. Maybe he tripped a little or dropped one of the rocks he was carrying. Who knows. Irrelevant.

What I am writing about was what he said. . . He said, "Oh My Shit." I wasn't sure at first so I said, "What was that buddy?"

"Oh My Shit." he said back matter of factly.

I just started to laugh. And then he started to laugh.

"I said, where did you hear that."

"Daddy said it when he . . ." Again, I dont' recall what he said about when Daddy said it. I just know he just threw Daddy under the bus.

I laughed all the way home because I found it so cute. And of course the more I giggled the more he said, "Oh My Shit." And it just go louder and louder and louder . . . till his final hurrah as he yelled it one last time running up the driveway.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hurricane Katrina - Our Story - Part 5

Sept 2005
Days went on. Stress continued. We handled all the things you need to do. Apply for food stamps through the Red Cross. Apply with Fema for the $2000 evacuation money. Apply for $2000 from insurance company for being displaced to help cover expenses. We did it all.

I was keeping friends and family posted on what was going on via email on a regular basis. One surprise was an envelope that arrived in the mail at my in-laws from our friend Beth. She had emailed for our temporary address, but little did I know what she intended to send. It was two checks for $500! One was for us and another was for a guy, Jason, who worked with Hubby. Both Jason and Hubby worked with Beth in Pittsburgh. Beth and her husband Ray had become our friends and we knew some of their extended family. Beth collected $1000 from their family members. About 6 couples total I think? She split the money between ourselves and our friend Jason's family. I couldn't believe such generosity and that was just the first time I would cry from such acts of kindness. You must understand that Beth and Ray were not our best friends or super close to us. They were just a couple we met through my husband's job that we spent time with on occasion and enjoyed each other's company. So to have her do this for us meant so much and really sealed the bond between us. It really showed who they were. It was so unexpected. We didn't expect anything from anyone.

We finally secured a date to meet the insurance adjuster at our home. Hubby and I took off by ourselves back to New Orleans leaving our 2 1/2 year old daughter with my in-laws for the first time ever. She did fine. We just told her we were going to the airport to get mommy's car. Which was partially true but at that age time was not something she grasped.

Speaking of my car at the airport, hubby was watching a video of the hurricane that someone took from inside the airport parking garage. And in it he spotted my vehicle! He knew exactly where he had parked it in the outside parking lot by the fence and could see the sticker I had on my rear window in the video. However, when we actually returned to get the vehicle, the sticker was gone. The wind was so intense it ripped the cling sticker off my window. So the video must have been early on in the storm.

Anyway, we took off to the meet the adjuster. I got a little queasy and anxious as we got off I-12 and started approaching our neighorhood. I started to see just piles of debris along the roads. We pulled up to our house and it was just as I had seen in the video that hubby brought back from his first trip to the house. Bad. It was very sunny that day and hot! I walked around the property just looking. I peeked inside too. But we did not go in as we already knew our house was infested with fleas. Yes! Fleas!

Our neighbor and a good friend had entered our house many times to have service men look at restoring our electricity or to remove valuable items that might get damaged from the heat and moisture and lack of air conditioning. They had informed us of the flea infestation.

The lack of air conditioning infested our house with fleas. According to the exterminator, who had to treat our house THREE TIMES to kill all the fleas, the eggs were carried in by the dogs but since they were treated for fleas and our house was air conditioned the eggs never hatched. Well, when our house got damaged, lost electricity and was wet & hot inside it became an incubator and they hatched and went into survival mode (because no dogs were presnet to feed on) reproducing 4xs the normal rate. They survived off of each other and attacked anyone who entered the house! Gross! I know . . . Tell me about it.

I felt kind of helpless being there at the house. We didn't know what to do with ourselves as we waited for the adjuster. We did have a neighbor come over and tell us we need to get those trees off our roof or we will ruin the inside of our house. Like we didn't know that already. He basically told us to ante up the $5000! I wanted to tell him where to shove his glass of Merlot he was holding! Fortunately, we met some people staying with a neighbor who were in town to help clear debris and such. They offered to remove our trees and cover it with large blue tarps for $1200. Luckily, they got it done just in time for Hurricane Rita to roll in! Phew! And much to our luck Rita was the first rain since Katrina so our house did not get any more water in it.

We drove around town a bit and looked around. It was odd. Some things were back to normal and open for business but many were not. Or they were only letting in so many people at a time to a business because they lacked enough employees to sevice everyone.

We went to dinner at a co-worker's home. We sat among their extended family who lost their homes completely from flooding in the Lakeview area across the lake closer to New Orleans. It was a strange evening, yet sweet. We shared this tragedy with people we barely knew and some that suffered much worse than us. When I left I cried and thanked our hosts who just hugged me and assured me all would be ok.

We spent the night at our neighbors house. They were lucky enough to have electricity back on.

Then, the next morning the adjuster came . . .

Continue to Part 6....

Sunday, May 10, 2009

It's been my day all week!

Mother's Day to me is just another day - I admit it.

But it has actually been my day all week. I took My Girl to all the Michael's free Mother's Day crafts and sat and watched while she created gifts for me. I would linger by the door near the end and she would hold her completed project behind her back and approach me with a big grin and whip it out from behind her back and yell "Happy Mother's Day"! As if I had no idea what she had. I would play along with big hugs and kisses and fake surprise.

Both kids made gifts at school as well. Some were hidden in the guest bedroom and others in my hubby's car. It was cute.

And for the first time ever I was served breakfast in bed this morning. The kids got a kick out of that. I guess eating in bed is a great phenomenon for them. They also brought me all their cards, gifts and the wooden planters they made at Lowe's on Saturday. They of course had to share my breakfast with me. Like I heard on NPR today - your kids will suck the foam off your latte. Nothing is solely yours as a mom - that includes Mother's Day gifts. For example. My girl made me a fake corsage at Michael's, but 1 hour after receiving it she said she wanted it back.

So what did I do today? Well, after breakfast I took a walk ALONE! But then I was back to being mom. I also spent a lot of time working in front of this computer . . . but it pays the bills so I can't complain.

Mother's Day to me is like New Year's Eve. Lots of build up and little excitement.

Thank you My Girl, My Boy and Hubby for all the gifts.

Hurricane Katrina - Our Story - Part 4

The first thing I did when in Dallas was visit the Hibernia Bank. That was our bank which was based out of New Orleans. Luckily there was one in McKinney where my in-laws lived. Well, when I walked into the McKinney branch the first thing I noticed was a table with toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, and other amenities for evacuees. They knew we were in town. It was sad. It made me feel sad. I didn't feel like a victim but the whole world was aware of what was going on in my life. I didn't take anything from the table but felt appreciative of their efforts.

When I approached the teller she gave me this very cheery hello. I told her my situation. The first thing she said was how sorry she was. Sorry for what I thought? I am not even sure what to be sorry for yet? She gave me a very genuine sympathetic look. I found it hard to look at her in the eyes. I just said I wanted to know if my husband's check cleared as I had payed all our bills online before we left for vacation expecting his direct deposit to go in. She said she couldn't check that information because all the computer systems were down for our account because of the storm but they were working to setup the backup system in Houston. It would be a day or two more. I was concerned about checks bouncing. She said not to worry that all fees would be waived. She asked me if I needed any money. I just gave her a questioning look and she explained that they were giving all their customers emergency cash up to $1000 to get them through and it would be deducted from their account when it came back online. I was impressed but declined. I had some cash on me leftover from vacation. Plus, my brother graciously gave me all his cash he had left before we left Virgina.

The next thing I did was call my insurance company. My in-laws used the same company as we did and had a great agent who went above and beyond to help us. I had no idea where to start or even what to tell him. I didn't have my policy with me of course. Who did? (I take it with me now when we evacuate! Along with birth certificates and other important documents!)

Ron Pope from Farmer's took care of everything and fielded every single question I had. He found answers to everything if he didn't know. He followed up with us even when we eventually went home! He assured me and told me everything would work out and be ok. I so wanted to believe him. I needed that reassurance.

After taking care of that we moved on to finding an apartment to live in. Hubby's boss was saying that there was no going back for a long time and to find housing. So off we went for 2 days looking for apartments. It was so bizarre. Here I had this broken house 9 hours away and it was as if I was building a new life overnight in a new city.

Well, just before signing on an apartment, the brakes were put on the apartment hunt by his boss. He was all over the place with the plan and it was not making it easy on anyone working for him. One day they are doing this and then the next day they are doing that.

The apartment complexes were offering evacuees month-to-month renting or no deposit to rent offers. We didn't need certain records to rent as we had no access to them. It was as if the evacuees were celebrities in Dallas. Restaurants ran evacuee specials, etc. Just show your proof of residence.

In the midst of all this I saw an ad in the local paper that they were having a food and supplies drive at a local church for Katrina Victims and needed volunteers. So I decided I needed to go. My MIL watched my daughter. I showed up to a husband and wife team running this whole thing. They put their own money forth to rent the semi trucks to fill with food and supplies. They rented three! They used the church parking lot as their collection center. The amount of people who showed up to volunteer was incredible. Almost too many. But it was the amount of people that turned up to donate that was even more astounding. At one point I had tears in my eyes. They were essentially doing this for me and my city of residence. Yet, I was there to help and expecting none of this to ever be mine. I in no way was feeling like a victim. For some reason I just couldn't.

At one point the man who organized it all gave a little speech to thank everyone. I asked him if I could say something. So I told them all where I was from, how I was on vacation so I wasn't there when storm hit and that I wanted to thank them all on behalf of everyone in New Orleans. And to this day, I still think the guy who organized it thought I was lying about where I was from. I can't explain it completely. He kinda cut me off and took the microphone away from me when I spoke and then blew me off the rest of the day. Never said another word to me until I went to leave. He said this, "For an evacuee that is a pretty nice volvo. Texas plate too." I turned around and said, "It is my father in laws. I don't have a car here. Mine is still at the New Orleans airport." I got in the car and left in tears.

I just gave 6 hours of hard work loading 3 semi trucks and that is what I get from him? Some rich dude who apparently thought all the evacuees in New Orleans were black and poor. Ignorant.

There were many volunteers who did come up to me after and hug me or ask me questions about my home and state of affairs as I knew them. I appreciated their concern. I thanked them again on behalf of all New Orleanians and Gulf Coast residents.

Continue to Part 5

Monday, May 4, 2009

And my 2 year old says . . .

Setup 1: My Boy and I are having PBJs together at the kitchen island. He decides to get chatty and deep.

My Boy: "I like Daddy."
Me: "Oh Yeah. Why?"
My Boy: "He is nice. And he is shiny."

Setup 2: My Boy likes to help clean. He wanted to do the patio door windows.

Me: "Let me spray some Windex on a paper towel for you."
My Boy: "And then I clean the window?"
Me: "Yup, you need Windex to clean the window."
Five minutes later My Boy returns to me with his paper towel . . .
My Boy: "Mommy, I need more Winn Dixie on this."

(If you don't already know, Winn Dixie is a local grocery store!)


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Lots of freebies, free samples and special offers!

Here is an example of my latest email out to those on my Freebies/Deals mailing list. If you would like to join my list email me!

5 coupon offers for Revlon, Almay, and Coppertone products:
Save $1 any Coppertone product
Save $1 any Almay Pure Blends
Save $1 any Revlon Colorstay Ultimate Liquid lipstick
Save $1 any Revlon Doubletwist Mascara
Save $1 any Revlon Makeup Remover towelettes

Clinique Bonus Time
If you are a clinique user you know what that means!
This time it is an Online Exlusive – Ultimate Choice Gift and free shipping with $40 purchase!
Create your own 7 piece bonus with $21.50 purchase.

Free Magazine Subscriptions:
Subscription to Working Mother Magazine
Subscription to Global Finance
Subscription to Landscape Care
Subscription to Business Week

Baby Formula Offers:
Enfamil Lipil - Get a FREE gift certificate to take to your baby doctor's office and receive an Enfamil Lipil breastfeeding support kit.

Enfamil Tolerance - Sign up and receive free sample of Enfamil Baby Formula.

Other Deals:
1. Free 12 oz. beverage of your choice at Borders Seattles Best Coffee. It's valid until Wednesday, May 6

2. Save $3.00 on any one Huggies Pure & Natural Diapers. There is no limitation on the size package you purchase - so yes you can use these coupons on a Jumbo size! You can print two of each coupon.

3. Free Retainer Case with every order! – From RetainerFresh

4. Free Playtex Tampon Sample

5. Slimfast - Register and get Free access to Slim-Fast meal and fitness planning tools, advice from Registered Dietitians, our online Buddy system, and savings offers.