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Archive for the ‘life’s little treasures’ Category

The Cycle

Today we had Tina’s baby shower.  Tomorrow is her birthday.  One makes you think of the other.

I remember the day she was born, 25 years ago.  She was the most gorgeous baby I had ever seen.  Everyone asked if she was a C-section baby because she was so perfectly shaped with none of the misshapened features or facial bruising common in babies that have that long, arduous journey through the birth canal.  Her cheeks were full and rosy; her skin smooth and white as milk.  Even when she was born she was late and that hasn’t changed yet.  She was twenty days post mature.  She measured 23 inches and weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces.  I remember taking a maroon colored velvet sleeper for her to come home from the hospital in and it wouldn’t snap at the crotch because she was too long for the newborn size!

And I remember how we didn’t know if she was a boy or a girl before she actually emerged to face the world, yet I only had a girl name picked out because I had that feeling that she would definitely be a she!

Schedule-wise, Tina didn’t know how to be on one.  One day she would sleep for four or five hours and be awake for 45 minutes, only to sleep for another block of four or five hours.  The next day, she would sleep for an hour then be awake for five hours!  Not fun when mom doesn’t know what’s going on with baby’s sleep schedule.

I remember having to be ready to go run errands as soon as the baby woke up.  One day Tony, who was three, and I ran around and got everything ready to leave as soon as the baby woke up.  We put everything in the car then we got in the car and as I backed out of the driveway, Tony said, “Mommy, I think you’re forgetting something.”  I asked what I was forgetting and he answered, “The baby.”   I hit the brakes, pulled back in the driveway and we went back inside to sit and wait for her to wake up so we could leave!

Anyway, today has been a day for Tina to concentrate on her baby.  Tomorrow is a day for me to concentrate on Tina, my baby!   One day the cycle will continue with Tina accompanying her daughter or daughter-in-law to a shower for her first grandchild!

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My daughter, who is currently pregnant, has repeatedly brought up the idea of having a doula attend her during the birth of her baby.  Traditionally, a doula helps the mother during the birthing process, not as part of the medical personnel but more as support and as a liaison between the mother and hospital staff.  She basically tries to insure that the mother’s wishes and needs are met.

As far as I am concerned,  I feel it’s not a necessary element to the birth and because she doesn’t have the money, I felt it was an extravagance that just wasn’t needed.   Then again, I’ve had three kids.  I know the process.  I knew the process at the time I was going through it, too.  I’m one of those people that researches a situation exhaustively so I knew what was going on when I was going through childbirth.  I knew my rights.  I knew what I could ask for and what was best for me and for the baby.

Tina really wanted to have a doula so she went online and did the research.  She found a local organization that trains and certifies doulas.  As part of their certification, the doula candidate has to log a certain number of hours  attending births and helping at childbirth.  It’s the final step before their certification.  Because they need the hours, they provide doula services for free until they are able to log enough hours to get their certification.  So Tina found a way to get what she wanted.  Today, she went to meet the doula and really liked her.

In the end, it’s all about what makes Tina comfortable during the birth of her baby, isn’t it?    I didn’t want to keep her  from having what she wanted but I felt that the money could be much better spent considering that they have almost nothing for the baby.  She has clothes.  She doesn’t have a car seat or stroller or crib or diapers or any of the “big ticket” items.  However, now that she found a way to have her cake and eat it too, I’m glad she did it because I want her to  be happily prepared for the birth of her child!

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My daughter does secret shopping for restaurants from time to time.  It’s a great deal because she gets to eat out at the expense of the company that hires her and then after she submits a short review, she also gets a gift card to use at the same restaurant.  She has done mostly the Cheesecake Factory which is one of her favorite restaurants but it’s too pricey for her to eat there on her own.

Tonight we went to a different restaurant which although I won’t name I will say that it is known for it’s beer and steak.  One location is near me so I went with her.  When you secret shop a place, it is just that…secret!  The restaurant is not to know until they review the report that you file the following day.  They never know who you are.  The visits are pre-determined by the company, meaning that they tell you at what time you are supposed to go and what you have to do (usually you have to interact with the front reception people, order a drink at the bar, order at least one appetizer/dessert, etc.).  We were seated in 15 minutes instead of the 30 minutes they had told us so that was a plus.  We sent her boyfriend to the bar to order a drink (my daughter is pregnant so she’s not drinking) and he came back with a glowing report and the barmaid’s name.  Then the “fun” began when we were seated.  It took the server almost a full 8 minutes to even acknowledge us and then even longer to take our beverage order.  It took him four trips to our table before we ordered our appetizer (which he didn’t offer to take our order for, we just told him we wanted one).  Our entree orders were taken and when the food arrived, my daughter’s burger was not medium-well, it was so charred that it was falling apart and was completely black all the way through.  She sent it back.  When they came back with the replacement, it was cooked much better but they had failed to serve it plain, as she had ordered.  She doesn’t like any condiments at all; they served it with some kind of mustard sauce which she tried gut didn’t like.  She asked the waiter to send it back and just take it off the bill.  She was pretty upset by then.  The server said he didn’t blame her and said he’d take it off the bill.  Then the manager came out.  He was such a jerk!  He was condescending, loud enough for people many tables away to start staring, and then snapped at my daughter, saying something like, “Well what do you want?  Tell me how you want it and we’ll bring it that way.  We’ve already started it for you.”  My daughter responded with the order again, very precisely telling him how she wanted it.  Then he snapped again to tell him how she wanted it so they could get it right.  Then I blew up and snapped back at him and told him exactly how she had ordered it both to our waiter and to him.  It was finally brought out the right way, way after the rest of us had finished eating.  When my daughter asked for the manager’s name, he came over and apologized for snapping at her, all the while with a condescending attitude again!

In the end, they did take the price of her meal off but we weren’t offered any other resolution.  We weren’t even asked if we wanted to order dessert before they brought us the bill!

Needless to say, they aren’t going to like the review they get.  My daughter is really good about being very precise when she reports her restaurant visits and has rarely had any occasion to  give any kind of demerit to the businesses she has visited with the secret shopper program so she will be fair but it’s difficult to give a positive review when something like that happens.   She also did a really good job of keeping her temper and smiling and being nice to everyone involved during the entire time, even when the jerk of a manager was basically scolding her like a child.  We probably won’t go back to that location, at least not during dinner hours, but we’ll enjoy the gift card for another meal when it comes.

Tomorrow I do my first secret shopping gig!  I’m kind of excited about it!  I signed up over a year ago and never got anything til now so I’m hoping it will be the first of many!

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The past decade was one of much change for me.

~I moved four times between May 2001 and August 2008!

~It was a time of inner growth as my kids grew and my focus naturally shifted a bit from my kids’ needs to my own needs.

~I decided to make the huge physical move from living in southern California to the North Bay in order to improve my health as I was very stressed out which was making my diabetes worse.  I felt that if I didn’t leave the area soon, I wouldn’t make it to my 50th birthday so after my 48th birthday, I made the big move, with my youngest daughter in tow.

~I focused on my writing during this past decade.  I began my first blog in 1998 but didn’t maintain it or any other blog until 2003 when I blogged regularly.  I also discovered the world of NaNoWriMo and now have four wins under my belt!  I took writing workshops and started a writing group in 2004.

~Then came the BIG move last year when I moved, alone, from Santa Rosa, California to Portland, Oregon.  That was a tough one.  I was born and raised in California.  It had always been home.  Leaving there was not an easy thing but the economics of paying rent in California was just unfathomable to me so I had to move out of my home state.

~I’ve begun to learn to live alone.  The family is spread all over but I guess that is something that happens as families grow anyway.  One daughter lives not far from me and my son may be moving to Seattle which is a 4 hour drive from me!  The youngest is 0n the east coast and will be at least until she finishes college in 2012.  We’ll have to wait to see where her future takes her.  I have a grandchild on the way and for now, he will be in the same area as I am so that’s something to look forward to.

Lots of changes in the past decade and lots more in the coming decade.  Lots to look forward to, still!

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A Kind Of Hush

Right now, I’m at the point of not having anything specific to do before Christmas.  That’s a good feeling.  Later we’ll go have lunch with my son (there’s a Mexican restaurant he has been raving about near work thathe wants to take us to).  I do have to go out and get a small turkey so it will thaw for the 25th.  As far as more groceries, I told Tina and Chris it was their job to make a list and go do the shopping when they arrive tonight.  And that’s the other thing, I have to get Chris and Tina at the airport at 8 tonight.  I may even delegate that, if I can.

Other than that, there are a few unwrapped gifts to wrap and some “nice if I can get them” kind of stocking stuffers but not a big deal if I don’t get them.  I just want to curl up with my book and a cup of coffee and relax a bit.  I might actually get to do that.

And on your end?  How are things?

Okay, I’m heading for the kitchen to make some coffee.

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I haven’t seen a movie in a while.  There were several I wanted to see this year but I didn’t get to.  I don’t go to the movie theater alone so if there is no one to go with me, I don’t go.  Some years I don’t go at all.  This year I was lucky to go twice; once when my sister was in town (we saw My Sister’s Keeper) and once when my niece and nephew were here (we saw The Proposal).  I wanted to see Julie & Julia and The Time Traveler’s Wife and more recently, Where the Wild Things Are (because I remember reading the book to my kids over and over and over again).  No luck.  No one to go with.

The one and only time I have gone by myself was many years ago when the movie, Ransom (1996) was showing.  I had seen previews and it had been recommended by friends but I didn’t have anyone to go with and I had three kids at home so it would have been difficult to go without them.  One night, when they were at their father’s for their Wednesday night sleep over, I decided to go to see the movie.  My thinking was that if I went on a Wednesday, there would be fewer people there and I could easily find a seat without having to sit next to strangers.  So I found the theater that was showing it for a late night show and prepared to go.

Preparing to go involved taking my own snacks in a huge purse.  I knew the theater did not allow outside food or drink but I wasn’t going to pay the exorbitant price of the ticket and snack and beverage so I packed some M&M (my downfall), Sour Patch Kids, and a can of Diet Coke.  I should have gotten a plastic bottle but those were more expensive so I grabbed a can out of my fridge before I left.  I was careful not to put it in my purse too soon so it wouldn’t get jostled so it would not squirt all over when I opened it inside the theater.  So once in the door, I headed for the theater where it was screening and found a seat in the last row.  I sat there all alone.  There were probably only 20 people in the theater that night and they all chose to sit in the front half of the room.  I sat in the back and waited for the lights to go out before I took out my snacks and my soda can.

Previews went on and on and were finally over.  I reached in my purse and got ready to pull the tab off the can of soda but I waited with my hand on the pull tab until the music was really loud, figuring no one would hear me.  It worked.  No one was aware of me opening my Diet Coke.  I set the can in the drink holder and enjoyed the movie and my smuggled candy.  Then, when there was a particularly quiet and tense scene, I reached for my can of Diet Coke and somehow I knocked it out of the drink holder and it fell on the floor.  Not only did it make a huge noise as it fell on the floor, it also made loud noises as it rolled all the way down to the front (and bottom) of the theater from the very last (and top) row where I was sitting.  Everyone heard it.   Everyone turned to look and I was the only person sitting back there!

I usually wait until all the credits run before I leave the theater but that night, as soon as I was sure it was over, and even before the credits began to roll, I popped out of my seat and headed for the exit!

That was the first and only time I ever went to the theater alone.

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Renewal

When I was growing up, my parents used to tell us that whatever we were doing when the year began, we would be doing that when it ended.  It was kind of like saying that the way you begin the year is how you will live the year.

Last year, I was alone on New Year’s Eve, which I have gotten used to.  I decided that I would curl up in bed with a good book and then turn on the TV just before midnight for the countdown to the new year and I had a glass of champagne waiting to be consumed at midnight.  So last year, I began the year by reading.  That’s what I did on New Year’s Eve and on New Year’s Day.  In fact, by the middle of March, I had read over twenty novels!  I was quite pleased because I’ve always enjoyed reading but I hadn’t been able to do much of it in 2008 as I spent much of the year traveling from the SF Bay Area to Portland, Oregon in search of a new home then when I found it, I spent a lot of time packing and bringing stuff up here to Portland.  In fact, in 2008, I made twelve driving trips between the two areas.  Each drive takes an average of 11 hours, one way.  So with all of that moving and packing and driving, I didn’t have much time to read.

I was very pleased with all the reading I had done and had a stack of books from the local used book store that I was eager to pick up.  Then at the end of March, tragedy struck and I spent the next four months with family and again driving back and forth between Portland and the SF Bay Area.  Psychologically, I was not in a good place for much of this time.  Finally, in late August, I picked up a novel, once again.  I was able to read three novels between late August and the end of September then I was off to Australia for a two week vacation with my son (which he had included me on as a mother’s day gift).

Whew!  No time for reading since we got back at the end of October!  Then I lost one of my contacts and have been operating with only one.  When I have to read or write (or type) I close one eye and read with the one that has the contact in it.  Not fun.  Not fast.  Not efficient. (So those typos you may find here are not the norm for my blog writing, it’s the lack of contact!)

Then Bibliomom wrote about this weekend’s Read. Read. READ-A-THON!  I went to the blog site and decided I would do it!  I didn’t go out and get any books although I was tempted to when my daughter and I were at Costco on Friday.  I decided I had a ton of books to read here and I pulled out a box that has been behind the couch in the living room since last May.  A friend of mine sent me a box full of novels that she knew would cheer me when I was really down during those months and although I had picked one of them up, the rest of them remained untouched.  So on Saturday morning, I slept in because I hadn’t been able to sleep on Friday night.  Then I dilly dallied for a couple of hours, finally settling in to read around 1:30 in the afternoon, expecting to read for five or six hours.  I ended up reading until 4:30 Sunday morning!  That’s fifteen hours of reading (well probably twelve hours if you take out all the breaks and a forty-five minute nap).

Now I am psyched!  I am starting a new novel today and I hope to be able to read at least three more before I have to leave to the bay area for Christmas.  Then I hope to end the year reading and begin 2010 reading once again.  Surely it will be a much better year than this one!

Here’s to reading!  To new blog friends, and to discovering new titles and authors, too!

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