Saturday Photo Hunt – Self

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Good Saturday! Welcome to my new blog. I had to move it, it’s a long story, but suffice it to say, I’m settling in and getting used to my new home – and may I just say, I’m liking it!

This picture requires an explanation …

Please Ignore This Picture

This was taken in the back yard of our rental home in 1990 and before the kids came along, hence the reason you can see something that resembles a waist on me. My husband sort of MADE me pose for him. And when he asked me to assume a sex kitten-ish expression, well, this pinched/pained look just happened.

You have my permission to laugh – go on, I know you want to. šŸ˜‰

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Family Friday – Ants, Tanning, Passed, Awards

Family Friday is my your chance to catch up with what’s going on with the family. Lucky, lucky you. šŸ˜‰

Cast of characters:
The hubs
Me
GD – oldest son (15)
MK – youngest son (13)

The Hubs: The hubs has been pretty busy at work. The first of the month is usually the busiest time for him (he’s the CFO of a finance company). When he’s not crunching numbers at work, he’s working on our lawn – planting grass seed, putting down dark mulch, fixing sagging gutters, mowing and crawling under the house.

I wasn’t sure about the dark mulch at first.

Dark Mulch

Actually, I didn’t have much of a choice. The hubs took off one Saturday and came back with a truckload of the stuff. He tends to do that, make executive decisions without consulting the executive.

That would be me, in case anyone was confused. šŸ˜€

And he was halfway done putting it down before I really noticed what he was doing. (The outside? Yeah, his domain – I stay out of it). At first, I was a bit … cautious with my opinion. It was so … dark. But after a few days, it really grew on me and now I quite like it. I think it adds a whole new level of contrast to our house next to the light gravel and brownish stones.

Was I upset that he went ahead and did that without asking me? Not really. I’m quite used to it (he once came home with a $600 canoe and announced, “Guess what we’re going to do this summer! Go fishing on the lake!”)

I trust the husband’s decorating opinions. And I generally agree with him – emphasis on the generally. *cough*

He’s also been crawling under our house. We, um, sort of have an ant problem. Not the big, ugly black kind of problem, but the teeny tiny thousands that just appear out of nowhere in the time it takes you examine the dirt under your fingernails. I honestly don’t know where these critters are coming from, but they’re everywhere. We’ve been really cautious about making sure everything is wiped up and the floor has been swept but every time I turn around, I find another thousand or so crawling around.

For instance, I opened the pantry up the other day to get something (I can’t remember what, but if I’m opening the pantry, it’s because of something important – you think I LIKE walking into a room full of tempting/fattening goodies?) and nearly came unglued when I came face-to-face with a colony of ants that were having quite the picnic on our Rice Crispy Treats cereal.

And then the other morning, I opened the cabinet to grab the honey so I could make the boys a sandwich for their lunch and nearly lost my breakfast at the swarm covering every square inch of the little, sweet honey bear bottle.

Okay fine, I’m exaggerating, we don’t have them quite that bad, but there are enough to give me the whillies. I’ve sprayed more ant spray in the past week to replace the smog over L.A. And then tonight, when we were eating our dinner, I noticed about five flying ants. WTH? (At least, I hope they were flying ants and not termites. Please God, anything but termites).

Our house is being controlled by critters. Guess what we’re going to be doing this weekend? Yep, spraying the heck out of house. We also bought some ant stuff to sprinkle around our foundation to hopefully kill the suckers already in the house.

Me: I’ve been tanning. *sigh* I know I’m probably going to receive some flack for telling ya’ll that, but yep, I’ve been baring my soul to the tanning gods. And I can just hear several of you out in there cyberworld asking, “WHY Karen? WHY would you do that to yourself?”

Answer? I’m not quite sure. I haven’t tanned for a number of years and I can’t really pinpoint one reason why I’m doing it this year. But I suppose part of the reason is because I feel ugly. I’m so WHITE. Like fish belly white. It’s gross. And I’m going to be forced to don a bathing suit in the next week because the weather is warming up and the boys will want to go swimming. The thought of my white skin against the white concrete at the pool makes me want to rub my temples in pain. Can you IMAGINE what that white-on-white might do to the other people at the pool? It could blind them! Iā€™m only thinking of their well being, you understand. šŸ˜€

I’ve been lamenting on the fact that I can’t find any clothes that flatter me. So I suppose, after wasting countless hours trying on clothes that accentuate my every flaw (and trust me, there are several flaws to accentuate), I was feeling a bit down on myself. And tanning makes me feel … sexy. In fact, it was funny, but as I was lying on the tanning bed being cooked alive (don’t you love how I’m reinforcing everyone’s notions about the evils of tanning?) listening to the radio, I endured commercial after commercial about various lotions that would enhance your “deep, dark, sexy tan”. And for the low, low price of only $50, you too could walk around looking like a burnt French fry!

I kid you not. The lotions for sell at my tanning salon are FIFTY DOLLARS for ONE BOTTLE. Isn’t that outrageous?! So of course, being the el-cheapo that I am, I went to Wal-Mart and bought an eight dollar bottle of Hawaiian Sun and guess what? It’s working just fine.

Tanning Lotion of Choice

I should get paid for that picture, don’t you think? hehe

GD: Ding Dong, the math problem is dead. GD had his math final yesterday and found out his overall grade before he left class – 76%. Not too bad, not too impressive either. He could have done better, he’s capable of so much more. But quite honestly? I was THRILLED. He passed with a solid C which means he won’t have to go to summer school. And this also means I won’t have to stress about missing summer school when we go to Washington DC next month.

He was pretty proud of himself.

It's Nearly Over

Apparently, there were quite a few other kids who didn’t pass. I don’t know if he just had a hard teacher, or what, but this was a hard class for him. Granted, the hubs, who WORKS in the math field, thought it was college-level algebra so maybe the material was just a bit too hard for his age, I don’t know. All I know is that that is a huge weight off my shoulders and I can finally start breathing easier once again.

GD also had an opportunity to win a free car – a Kia Rio – but he blew it.

The kids need to achieve a certain attendance percentage all year long to be eligible to put their name into a pot for a drawing for a free car at the end of the school year. Then each high school in the city draws out five names and those names are then sent to the car dealership. The dealership then shuffles up the names of the five kids drawn from each high school and whoever they pick wins the car. Doesn’t that sound like fun? And what a great program to entice the kids to show up everyday.

GD had perfect attendance this year (so did MK). As a result, he was able to turn in two cards, perfect attendance for each semester. We filled them out, gave them back to him and reminded him a gazillion times to turn them in because heck, you never know, right?

He didn’t turn them in. And when we asked him why? “I forgot.”

Bull-larkey! The kid was simply too shy to walk his skinny butt into the office and hand them over. AARGH!!! This son of mine REALLY needs to get over his aversion to people! Just think! He could have won!! The hubs was pretty ticked off at him when he found out he didn’t turn them in. And he’s REALLY HOPING that someone from GD’s school wins that car so he can pound that particular nail into his coffin just a bit more firmly.

MK: Yesterday was MK’s 7th grade honors assembly. And judging by the sheer number of things the boy walked away with, his name was called A LOT.

Cashing in on the Awards

And he’s not even holding up the four certificates he received.

Beginning with the ribbons – every year, the PTA has an arts program called “Reflections.” And the kids can enter something in one of four categories: literature, photography, musical composition, and drawing. This year the theme was: I Can Make a Difference By … Actually, I make this sound like it’s a voluntary program, it’s not. The kids are required to enter something. So, MK whipped up a musical composition. In his essay that went with the composition he said something about how there is too much trash and negativity in today’s music and how he would make music that was positive and uplifting for kids. (That’s my boy!) He didn’t spend that much time putting it together, but he won 2nd place at his school. This meant his entry could go on to the state level, where he received an honorable mention. Hence the ribbons.

The letter: MK had to do three of several things in order to earn that letter. The three things he opted to do was try out, and make, honors band, try and out and make jazz band, and compete in the solo and ensemble competition (he was part of a saxophone ensemble).

The bars you see on his shirt: One was for jazz band, one was for honors band, and the last one was for the ensemble. He also received a certificate for the ensemble competition where they earned a one (this is a good thing).

He was nearly bursting at the seams when I picked him up from school yesterday sporting all of his cool memorabilia. He’s worked so hard all year long that it was really rewarding to see HIM so richly rewarded. All of the goodies and the recognition in front of his peers (he had to walk across a stage and accept his prizes) has really fired him up to do the same thing next year with the addition of pep band, too. (Though I suspect the main reason for the pep band thing is because the girl he’s had a crush on for the past three years made cheerleading and will be at the games – but I’m only speculating of course. I’m just the mom, what do I know?)

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Slowing Down

You know it’s funny, but ever since deleting my blog, the blog I had up and running for a little over three years, I feel … cleansed. I can’t really describe the overwhelming feeling of freedom I’m experiencing right now.

It’s quite liberating. I felt like a prisoner within my own writing and I didn’t like it. I’m tired of succumbing to outside sources, this is my blog and I plan on keeping it that way. No frilly, silly junk; from this point on you can expect thought-provoking, intelligent correspondence.

HAHAHAHA.

Well, maybe not the intelligent part. šŸ˜‰

You know how you feel when you’re in a tense situation and after it’s over you realize, with surprise, that you had been holding your breath the entire time? That’s how I was beginning to feel with my blog. The posts, weren’t really mine anymore. I was writing with the sole intention of entertaining people and that’s fine, if that’s what you want, but for me? I got away from what’s important to me – my family, what’s happening in my life and my pursuit to get published.

Now that my blog is gone, well, not really gone, it’s here, on wordpress.com, I feel so much more relaxed. I don’t have to stress if my server goes down and I can stop apologizing for glitches or anything else that goes wrong. I can give that responsibility over to wordpress now and if something happens, it’s out of my hands. I know the good folks at wordpress back everything up, on a regular basis, so there’s very little chance I’ll lose anything and that … comforts me.

I’m a controlling personality. It’s sometimes nice to step away from that control once in a while.

Anyway, moving on …

I’m writing this entry Wednesday night at 5:42 p.m. I’m waiting for the husband to get home from work and dinner will be ready (we’re having baked spaghetti – tip: heat some tomato sauce and pour over the spaghetti when you take it out of the oven, it’s delicious!). The kids are relaxed and doing their own thing and I’ve decided this is really the perfect time for me to sit down and write the next day’s entry. I’m still (semi) awake to be coherent and most of the day has passed by so I can reflect on it. After I finish writing this, I’ll pre-post it and forget about it until tomorrow night when I start the whole process over again. I will no longer spend HOURS hunting the Internet for entertaining things to share with you or HOURS pre-posting hundreds of posts ahead of time; I’m done rushing through my life, I’m ready to sit back and enjoy what ever comes my way. I hope you’ll stick around and enjoy it with me.

But if not, I understand. Perhaps my new blogging plan disappoints you. Perhaps you looked forward to my silly posts and though I can’t promise my posts here will be on the same level as before, I can promise they will be heartfelt and honest – or at least, as honest as I can be given my audience. šŸ™‚

I am constantly telling my husband to slow down, enjoy life, stop trying to cram every single minute of your day with something to do. And though I was never on the same level as him (he genuinely exhausted me at times when we first got married), I was doing the same thing with my online presence.

I’m going to kick back and savor every moment because my children are getting older. GD will be in TENTH grade next year, MK will be in EIGHTH grade next year, our lives will never be the same, so why am I trying to gloss it over and forego recording my family moments for some silly picture of a puppy or giving some cool prizes away just to draw readers? (Though I won’t promise I won’t do that again sometime in the future *ahem*)

The last day of school is tomorrow and I’m so ready. I’m looking forward to not having to stop my day, twice, in order to drive all over town to pick the boys up. I’m looking forward to letting them sleep in and I’m REALLY looking forward to morning smiles as opposed to morning frowns and general snarkiness, and then dealing with the boys’ grouchiness on top of that. *grin*

And I’m looking forward to sharing these moments with you. Thank you for being patient with me. And please, have a wonderful day. I’ll see you tomorrow.

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Do You Smell That?

Are you wondering what’s going on?

Yeah, me too.

It all started about a week ago. I received an email from my web host telling me that our accounts (i.e. blogs) were using too much CPU. When I questioned what exactly that meant, they said that the number of php requests were overloading my databases and slowing things down for the rest of the people on my server.

I rearranged a few things, updated a few scripts and though the CPU percentage went down, it didn’t go down far enough. My web host gave me three options:

1. Whittle my content down to the acceptable level. Considering I had whittled everything I was willing to whittle, this wasn’t an option.

2. Upgrade to a dedicated server. This sounded great, so I priced dedicated servers – it was going to run us anywhere from $40 – $100 a month – to sustain a HOBBY?! Uh no, I don’t think so.

3. Move or delete our accounts.

I opted for number three.

And I feel pretty relieved by this decision, if you want the truth. Blogging was taking way too much of my time. I wasn’t really putting a lot of thought into what I was posting, I was just posting fluff, junk really. Why was I wasting so much time on silly stuff? My writing was suffering, my business was suffering and I was spending all my time thinking about my next post.

Something had to stop. And my web host took that decision out of my hands. And I’m glad to be back among the living.

I will miss not having the control – there is very little I can do here, behind the scenes, without paying for it, but again, perhaps that’s for the best, at least for now, at least until I can get my head above water once again and catch some things up.

Sometimes it’s just better to call it quits and walk away for a while. Not saying I plan on calling it quits as far as blogging goes, but this is definitely a reality wake up call for me.

I haven’t really given up, I’ve just redirected my energies into something a bit more productive. I still plan to blog, but only in moderation. My goal is to post once a day, here at wordpress.com. I’ll keep my posts relevant to my life/observations/work/writing. And I will only post photos that I’ve taken, or someone close to me has taken. No more stock photos.

You can find my RSS information in the sidebar and if you have any questions, you can always contact me. I haven’t really gone anywhere, I’ve just relocated. šŸ™‚

Do you smell that? It’s the smell of a new beginning.

Ahhhhhh….. I think I’m going to like it here. šŸ˜€