Let us recognize… {a giveaway}

I know that on occasion I am really lucky to be able to offer giveaways to you guys, and I LOVE that! Sometimes I get the privilege of sharing with you a book or movie that I really loved, which are the best of all. Today I’m doing a giveaway that is quite special to me.

American Sniper is a film inspired by the memoir and life of Chris Kyle, a U.S. Navy Seal. Through his several tours in the Iraq war we are given an honest look at one man’s journey as a husband, father and hero and the toll that being all three can take on a man. Bradley Cooper does an amazing performance, Directed by Clint Eastwood, there are many reasons this film received so much critical recognition.


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AMERICAN SNIPER

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AMERICAN SNIPER

On a personal note, I’m not sure that I’ve ever cried harder in a movie, even though I knew the ending already, nor have I been more inspired to just be a better person…

On May 19th American Sniper will be released on BluRay & DVD. With the sale of every copy, Warner Brothers will be donating $1 to the Wounded Warrior Project. The WWP is an organization very dear to my heart. Over the years I’ve met several vets who have had their lives significantly changed because of what the WWP does. American Sniper was one of the most moving films I saw last year (you guys know I watch a lot of movies), and this means that if a million people buy copies of the DVD, then that is a MILLION DOLLARS going to help our wounded vets! It’s an easy campaign to get behind! (If you’d like to order your copy now, go here.)

American Sniper 3D Box Art

To enter to win your copy, leave a comment here about a vet (ANY vet) you know. It can be a spouse, child, father, neighbor, guy you met in the supermarket, yourself… Anyone… TWEET the giveaway and link back here with your tweet and you will get an extra entry.

Entry DEADLINE is Sunday May 17th, 12p.m. EST.

Make sure you have an email address link back in your comment so that I can contact you if you win!

Good luck! Now share!

The one where Mother’s Day happens…

nQZcA7PRTyuduZPSZQ88_wanderlustI was called yesterday for another job interview. Whatever made me start applying for any and every job, I’ll never know. I guess I just felt desperate. At any rate, this job isn’t one I’d actually want. LOTS of travel and that’s just not conducive with our life. I didn’t even mention it to Chw. He’s pretty adamant that he wants me to stay home and write. I’d love that too, if writing had a weekly or bi-weekly pay check which actually paid the bills. So, I’m at a loss…

Gen had surgery last week and her recovery has been less than ideal. Before surgery she envisioned a week of popsicles, tv binge watching and ease. While I was a bit more realistic about her projected recovery, I did imagine myself with a lot of productive free time on my hands for some quiet reno projects and writing. We both couldn’t have been much farther off. She told me this morning (recovery day five) that she wished she were dead, and while I know my daughter has a flair for the dramatic, I also know this has been incredibly hard. Between the high fevers, rashes, bouts of choking on drainage from her septoplasty, which in turn deeply hurts her tonsillectomy recovery and plummets her into fits of sobbing (helping neither situation at all), it’s been bad. She doesn’t want me out of the room she’s in, and within a foot or two from her is better. She’s whiny (understandably) and in so much pain. The doctor wanted her eating soft food by day four, but at this point she will still only manage incredibly small amounts of jello, squeeze pouch applesauces* or slushies and I don’t see this changing any time soon…

(*random question/curiosity about squeeze pouch applesauce. Whats the deal? She takes them in her lunches, which is fine. When the tonsilectomy slid onto the docket I bought jars of applesauce though, because it just made sense economically. Each time we tried it, she cried and couldn’t eat it because it hurt so bad. Finally yesterday I bought some squeeze pouch (because she eats them in her lunches, we were out) and she ate it fine. What’s the difference? It wasn’t psychological because she loves applesauce in general and didn’t ask for the SP over the jarred…)

Moving on…

I’ve managed a whole lot of nothing. In the last five days I’ve:

– argued with my husband.

– gotten frustrated. (more than once)

– eaten fast food (which I hate, unless it’s Chick Fil A, which we don’t have.)

– cried.

– felt miserable. (I actually have a pretty fierce cold, though I think it’s on the mend)

– wanted to throw my phone at something. A lot. (crappy service in our house.) Of course I didn’t, and why? Because I don’t have a job and to replace my phone would cost real money.

– laughed at my daughter, a lot. Her recovery has been full of comedy. At first this wasn’t intentional on her part (as anyone with a kid whose had anesthesia can attest) but since then, her sense of humor has been amazing. When she’s not whiny. (again, who can blame her?)

– found Coke Life. Hello… AMAZING.

– Worked on our half bath. This is our latest, and possibly most frustrating of reno projects. (was supposed to be our quickest/easiest. We’re fools to think…) Mostly Chw worked on it, and I cheered him on, brought him cool beverages and occasional food and did little things. It’s ALMOST done, and I’m thrilled. Hoping, by the weekend. We’re also putting in a garden though, and so that takes priority over the finishing touches on the bath.

– watched a LOT of Friends.

– seen half a dozen Hallmark movies.

– Realized it’s pretty hard to sit and watch tv when you have a ton of things to do. Sometimes though, (these times) sitting and watching tv is the right thing to do.

All in all, I’ve learned a lot about motherhood this week. From my life of homebound (mostly) boredom, television and lack of adult interaction, but also from my older daughter. Motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever journeyed through, and as a mother watching my daughter (who is an amazing mother) on her own journey is proving to be difficult as well.

Maybe Mother’s Day should be less about Hallmark cards and little gifts and more about personal milestones where we as moms sit back and reflect on another year and what we’ve trudged through, and how we’ve overcome. This world is full of weak moms who hurt or lose their kids, and then it is sprinkled with amazing women who pick up those pieces and mend the broken hearted babies with love and effort. Here’s to us… We may not be perfect, or even great but at least we did something good. Even when it’s just watching reruns on tv and coercing our sixteen year old to try another sip of water…

Intentionally speaking often leads to…

Sometimes my brain only makes sense to me, and sometimes I have the most honorable and best of intentions. There are times when these things play out in my favor. Then, as I’m sure we all know, in our own ways, there are other times…

My life, lately, is an other time

After we lost the first house we were trying to buy, back in November, along with our savings, things looked a little bleek. What we needed was a time of respite to regroup and plan, but what we had was a lot of pressure from several directions, pretty much no money and even less time.

Some people do their best functioning under pressure. I may not be one of those people. At least not this sort of pressure… We ended up in a mortgage plan that wasn’t what we felt remotely comfortable with, in a house we weren’t at all excited about and with even more pressure heaped on our shoulders because of all of the renovation work that needed done NOW. Then, just when we thought we could breathe for five minutes, we learned that we had every major appliance breaking, water heater and well problems, furnace issues, a sick daughter and the list goes on and on.

That cliché’ statement about how God doesn’t give you more than you can handle? It’s bologna. I reached the limit of what I could handle months ago, and I shut down. I wasn’t my best self, I wasn’t myself. My blog sat quiet, my life sat quiet. My marriage became a conversation about money, parenting struggles and home repair.

It’s frustrating when you do the right thing and it blows up in your face. Like trying to be there for your ailing parent by creating a home for them. Like giving your landlord six months notice because it’s the nice thing to do. Good intentions are great, but they are not certainties that things will work out. Was it a mistake to offer to bring my mom out here? Probably. But what was the alternative? We haven’t learned the answer to that. We’ve had the worst eight months of our lives as a result of trying to do the right thing, and the end isn’t in sight. Our sixteen year old has not been exempt from what she has lost/sacrificed as a result of this mess and yet we keep going because, well, what choice do we have?

We desperately need that ten grand we lost last November, and are sort of fumbling through life, trusting and trying not to worry…

And so, my brain made sense to me and my intentions were good when I accepted a job that had me working weekends and a weekday or two. The shifts were doable, and it was temporary. I would make nowhere near the money we needed, but it was money. With Chw traveling, often weekends are our only time together and this was a devastating development but we agreed (together) that the ease of some of the financial stress may be the balance of the lack of time. I went in to the job being assured flexibility when I needed it, and knowing that in return weekends would be a given. I was prepared for that. What I was not prepared for was the belittling when I needed to put a date regarding Gen’s school schedule (three weeks out) on the calendar so I wasn’t scheduled. Every time something like that came up, it was an issue. Then, as fate would have it, I was side swiped by a woman pulling out of Target.

Anyone who has had a car accident knows what follows… Adjuster meetings, physical therapy appointments, auto body shop appointments, etc. And then I thought, what about physicals? Dental appointments? Repairmen scheduled at my house? It would be stress forever, and I would be continually disrespected and insulted every time I had to be a mom or, God forbid, take care of myself… So, I quit. Which was both really sad because I had fallen INSTANTLY in love with the company and was excited to be there, and a tremendous relief because the amount of anxiety/stress that dealing with my boss had caused was so unhealthy.

It was after my decision that my husband said he didn’t want me to work outside of the home. But, the money. And then he shared the stress it put him on to imagine juggling everything that I take care of, and trying to manage our lives while he’s traveling, not to mention how we’d never be able to visit our out-of-town daughter and her family, (something I hadn’t even thought of). So, the reality is I need to try to make MORE money from home. Work HARDER at home. This completely overwhelms the crap out of me, and so my knee-jerk reaction is to look the other way.

And seriously, I’m not going to lie, I was really looking forward to interacting with adults out there in the outside, on a regular basis. Ha…

But anyway, my point with this harrowing story is that life is not the way our agenda bullet-points it out to be, and sometimes that really sucks, but it’s also ok. Are we happy about this mortgage nightmare? no. But, we ended up loving this house. Though I’m not a fan of living in a reno zone, I absolutely love what we have done. And do you remember wayyyy back when I shared how Gen HATED the prospect of our house and how she would never have a friend over? Well she is so surprised by how much she loves our house that she brings it up quite often. It’s home. It’s a work in progress, but it’s home… If we knew, a year ago, what we know now, would we do things differently? Yes. But I think we’d still want to end up sleeping under this very roof so we’ve got to trust at least something is headed in the right direction…

A rubik’s cube, gofer and a goose walk into a bar…

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Have you ever taken on a project, felt like you were finally making some progress and then the world came crashing down around you? Me too. And Chw… Quite literally, actually, poor guy! Amidst his demanding work schedule and our absolutely crazy work schedules that we’re trying (albeit a little unsuccessfully, it feels) to mesh together, we try to get projects done with the house. There are so many though and we are so overwhelmed that I’m afraid we aren’t accomplishing anything. It’s a one small task done, three major repairs needed sort of thing. Case in point, over the weekend he decided to paint our half bath. It’s a small room that really only needed paint, a new faucet and new flooring. In comparison to the rest of the house, this is all very simply… We picked up a great little faucet, have paint and are going to go the cheap flooring route because, honestly, we’re tapped and that’s just the way it is. So, there’s my awesome husband, post primering this complicated and tiny room when he notices a soft spot in the ceiling. He touches it, thus spending the rest of the day buying drywall (and to think we’d gone SEVEN DAYS without a trip to Home Depot! Another record broken!), re-drywalling the ceiling after taking care of the water damage and finding the source. An entire weekend of work and the room sits, unpainted… When will we have time to tackle it again? Who knows.

 

Have I mentioned here, that I’m going back to work? I’m pretty nervous and excited. It’s been pretty nerve racking balancing my schedule with Chw’s and throwing Genny’s regular babysitting schedule into the mix. I’ll still need a work from home schedule for writing so it’s kind of like I’m managing the schedules of four people that don’t fit together in any way at all. Super fun! It’s all just until may windfall comes in though, then we’re retiring somewhere warm, sandy and tropical. That should be any day, I’m guessing… Since I refuse to live in the land of pink unicorns and rainbow slides though, I’ll keep on trying the Rubik’s Cube of our calendar and renovating this old house one centimeter at a time. And oh yeah, now that it’s nice out we’ve actually seen what our yard looks like and it too needs a ton of work. Discouraging, to say the least. (though the giant gofer who lives under our deck seems quite happy with things.) *Note to any gofer familiar readers: He’s adorable but will he hurt my dogs? Should we get rid of him? If the answer to this is yes, is there a non violent way to do this because he is adorable, BUT we are practically roommates…

Speaking of gofers… We have lived in “city” for far too long, I guess. (even though we’ve never actually lived in a real city where dogs poop on concrete and stuff) Living on a lake is a whole new bit of amazing. We love the sunsets over the lake, (until the trees bloom and we can no longer see the lake anyway) and the geese coming in to the lake have been amazing! Every day feels, sounds and smells like camping except we have a full kitchen, comfy bed and shower. It’s fantastic. Every day we see fat squirrels, bunnies, hundreds of birds. (and of course, our friendly gofer tenant) I’m really looking forward to a lazing morning of tea and reading, out on the deck, as soon as the Cube aligns enough to make it so.

The tools we need… and yet.

photo-1416339276121-ba1dfa199912Several years ago my mother began saying the things that parents begin saying, about how everything that was hers is actually mine, and how this one antique is mine, that piece of furniture is mine, etc. Being her only child, it was kind of a given, but this was something she wanted to talk about when ever she got into that taboo-topic-of-funk, which was quite often…

Then, a few years later we made a trip down to see her because she had a double mastectomy. While we were there, my husband decided to play handyman around her house. This meant he had to go into the tool shed which had once been my step dad’s. These tools hadn’t been used in years. My husband was amazed at what lay in there and said something to my mom about a few of the things. She immediately grew irate about how these were her tools and we could not have them, when she was dead then we could have them. (Two key things to note: 1- my mom, bless her heart, is a possessor. She loves to own, collect and have things. Her things. 2- no one asked her for the mentioned tools, my tool-loving husband merely said something like “Hey mom, you’ve got some nice *insert tool names here* out there.”)

Was he hurt? Meh. We’re used to the often abrasive and totally unpredictable way she can be. It will all a bit silly and we’ve learned to just laugh to ourselves, shake our heads a bit and move on.

The ironic thing is, we’ve spent the last 10 months turning our lives completely upside down so that my mom has somewhere nurturing and safe to live that is not a nursing home. At her insistence, we’ve entered into a risky mortgage  and the levels of stress we’ve taken on are beyond high. We did all of this willingly because we believe it’s the right thing to do. Throughout this time she is sorting her things and selling them, etc. Except for one or two things it hasn’t been an issue because I am not much of a possessor/collector… One thing she has been adamant about though was having my husband come down to New Mexico to go through my step dad’s tools to see what he wanted. Finally they agreed this could be done over the phone and the date was set for this past weekend. Imagine my mother’s shock when she went out to the shed to find most of those tools gone…

On one hand we’re grateful we didn’t spend money we don’t have on a plane ticket for nothing. On the other hand we’re sitting thousands of miles away facing the reality that someone has been robbing my unwell, living alone mother, for God knows how long. She admitted the shed hadn’t been locked in “quite a long time”, and all we can think, as she continues opening her home to people while selling her things and downsizing is “what happens next? Will they grow bolder?”

A few years ago, Chw tried to tell my mom she had some really nice tools out there. Rather than sell them, or share them with someone who could use them, she kept them hidden away because they were hers. What could have blessed her financially or through other ways now only leaves her vulnerable and a victim. It’s much like this move situation… 18 months ago she knew she needed to start preparing for the “next phase” of no longer living alone, but she chose, after a fresh bout of depression, to ignore it. When the topic came up again last summer, we were called to action and she agreed enthusiastically to move here UNTIL we bought a house dependent upon her coming (the sale of the home she lives in, that we own) and she changed her mind. She has since changed her mind again and agreed to come, but set so many stipulations that are NEVER going to be met, and time is running out. We’ve made it very clear to her the damage she is causing and she tunes it out, like a child. Once again, she keeps herself in a vulnerable situation where she will end up either forced into a facility or seriously injured from a fall beforehand. (there have been some close calls the past couple of months already.) She should be TERRIFIED not to move forward, but she isn’t.

And I want to shake her and knock some sense into her, but isn’t she just human? Don’t we all have things in our lives where we do know better but we still pretend otherwise? We text while driving, we drink while driving, we smoke, we eat unhealthy, we cheat on our spouses. We __________. (For the record, I’m not saying I do ANY of those things, nor am I saying that because I don’t, that I’m any better than someone who does.) We all don’t make the choices that are in our best interest, in the moment, because it feels easier to stick with the familiar and we love easy… but the result is a lot of the time we hurt ourselves SO much more in the long run. We have all the tools we need to make our lives better, and yet we choose our unhealthy ruts 9 out of 10 times.

Here’s to cleaning OUT our sheds of the stuff we need, sharing our excess with the world and moving on to something better when it’s what is truly better for us, even when we’re scared!