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The wolves were probably the most interesting along with the Giant Panda munching on bamboo! These were the older kids favorites! We ventured on ahead of the others and eventually met at the ice cream stand. Great time had by all and great fun to meet new blogger friends! OK so I'm actually really trying to do this blog stuff - pretty good huh? Learned how to copy pictures from websites - watch out blogger world - here I come! Figuring out how to move and position them must come in a later chapter! Yikes.
The wolves were probably the most interesting along with the Giant Panda munching on bamboo!
These were the older kids favorites! We ventured on ahead of the others and eventually met at the ice cream stand. Great time had by all and great fun to meet new blogger friends!
OK so I'm actually really trying to do this blog stuff - pretty good huh? Learned how to copy pictures from websites - watch out blogger world - here I come! Figuring out how to move and position them must come in a later chapter! Yikes.
RETRO REVUE (Everything Old is New Again)
Saturday, July 9 at 8 p.m.Sunday, July 10 at 2 p.m.
Join The Alexandria Singers for "Retro Revue "Featuring music from The Phantom of the Opera, Hairspray, Sweet Charity, Mamma Mia!, and the Songs of George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hammerstein,and MORE!!
Besides the fact that I just charged $1,500 for new frames and lenses (3 pairs which I need for computer and regular vision!), I had a great day!
I love my job and how good it makes me feel about myself! I was thinking that as I drove to work this morning and tried to pinpoint the reasons for this.
1) There is a whole bunch (70+) of people with whom I interact and 90% of them are fantastic people; 9% I still don't know yet (remember we just merged with this office in April - 60 new people are a lot to learn to know!); and that annoying 1% - hey, who can't deal with these kind of percentages! When I think of the past employments which I endured (painfully) for the sake of being close to my daughters' day care or schools, this job far surpasses any of the them in the area of professionalism, respect and really neat people. I have had my share of abusive behavior from bosses and fellow employees - emotionally, physically, and yes even sexually. (Like the bozzo boss who would prop his foot up on my desk so that my center of vision was directly focused on his magnificent tools- try to carry on a business conversation while being flashed!) Treatment of women in the workplace has come a long way since I stepped into the arena in 1970. I would say that there is still significant disparity especially in payscales and lack of women in higher management positions but my generation has made great strides for our daughters!
Enough - enough! 2) I'm awesomely respected for my work product by the sales staff! I put together a marketing package and accompanied one of my new producer friends to a large Social Service account to bid on their business. I couldn't have done this a few years ago but my self-confidence has improved and my public-speaking skills are getting better with every presentation. The CEO was very impressed with our layout and response to questions and we should know tomorrow if we get the account. WHAT FUN! (Let's not talk about what's calling out from my desk while I'm gone!)
3) Number 3 is the sum of 1 & 2. When you have good people to work with; when you are challenged professionally and when you are respected and appreciated (oh yes, and get compensated adequately) you are where you need to be!
So the work thing is moving along well aside from the fact that I could use help (they know that!). I'm extremely consumed practically every evening with something to do with our Singers show which comes up July 9/10. Lots of memorization and learning those darn dance steps. My lovely daughters will be in the audience watching and waiting for Mom to mess up - and I usually don't disappoint them!
After the show is done I have a nice surprise awaiting me on the following weekend. My sister-in-law is coming to visit for a couple of days. Although we lived in different States, we have shared 'kid growing up' experiences; talked out the empty nest anxieties; shared our 'new life' goals and analyized every aspect of our disfunctional family - laughing through most of our conversations. She is an inspiration to me and a truly 'died-in-the-wool' friend. (Where does that saying come from, anyway?)
So life is good!
We have never enjoyed the traditional 'sister' relationship. Ours is a 'joined at the hip' tolerance filled with friction, competition and poor communication. And yet we're twins. Probably the one point of commonality is our reaction to and frustration with our mother!
Ironic that she is my one and only sister and this is the best we can be. There is someone inside of her that is crying to come out but either can't or is afraid to try. There is no doubt that she cares deeply for my family and has given much of herself over the years. But who she is has escaped me!
We can't even have a heart to heart talk. She has no understanding as to why I had to part with husband #2 - except that it blew up her plans to live with us in retirement. Sorry about that. I admit - I finally made a choice for me - hard as that was!
How can two people be so utterly different?
I invited her over for the weekend - she came but wouldn't spend the night (no reason). We hung what seemed like a million pictures - I treated her to dinner and she went home. It seems that she is fine 'doing things' but does not want to be in a 'social' setting.
I have to learn to accept her for who she is - I'm trying.
One of MommaK's fondest memories surround her early years in gradeschool when she performed with the music/drama group in the Spring of her 6th, 7th and 8th grades. The staff did an unbelievable job of taking over 100 children and producing a full flown musical. As tradition required, only 8th graders could audition for the major roles (unless of course you were a boy who wasn't struggling with puberty!). Parents joined in with the production staff to make props, sew costumes and assist in the marketing of the show.
MommaK and all her friends were dizzy with excitement when the name of the musical was announced (Sound of Music) as there were many opportunities for good female parts. I remember vividly the afternoon of final auditions for the key rolls. Waiting in the parking lot and anxious for my daughter I thought of how I could best handle her disappointment if she only landed a minor role. As she approached the car I could not get a read from her so I waited patiently for her to get in and close the door. I slowly asked "How did it go honey? She started crying and gasped that "I got the part, I got it". "What did you get", I tried to calm her down.
"MARIA, I'M MARIA'!
I can still remember the shock and exhilaration that went from my toes to the hairs on my head. Oh my God! She has the lead! This followed quickly by the same sense of dread that I was reading from her. Do they know what they are doing? She's never had a major role and they think she can do this? We sat together in that car for about 20- minutes crying, laughing and trying to calm each other down!
No parents were allowed at the rehearsals - which was killing me! I would never see MommaK practing her lines or singing at home (when is she going to learn the part??) What I didn't know then but realized later is that she is gifted with a photographic memory.
I wanted to make the absolute best costume for Maria - which I did! It was a beautiful peasant dress trimmed with bright ribbons. It was darling on her! And the postulant outfit was a snap. What posed to be a big problem was the all important wedding gown. We pulled out her grandmother's as they were about the same size - however, Nana was slightly smaller on her wedding day- wouldn't fit. Mine had a stain that wouldn't respond to any Heloise tricks besides MommK wasn't thrilled to wear anything that was remotely connected to Father #1. So the plea went out to the school for a wedding dress to borrow. I don't remember the mother who kindly donated her dress but I'll never forget the first time MommaK tried it on - I cried!!
I finally peeped into the auditorium one afternoon a few minutes before rehearsal was finished and was flabbergasted by what I saw and heard. There was MommaK, guitar in hand, singing Do Re Mi with such a strong melodic voice, interacting with the children and exhibiting a very comfortable stage presence. I froze in total amazement! One of those moments I will never forget. She's got it! And she's a natural!
They performed the show EIGHT times and I was there for every show, crying as she walked down the aisle in that wedding dress - thrilled and proud beyond belief. What mother gets the chance to see her daughter get married eight times!! She never missed a line; she cleverly adlibed when others did (!) . Every show was slightly different depending on unexpected crisis like delayed entrances and props, lighting or special effects that didn't go quite right.
What a great gift she gave me that year and fond memories that will last a lifetime
Not exactly in the way you might think but non-the-less very touching.
As I approached my car in the parking lot of my sister's condo, I saw two elderly women hovering over a man on the ground. I called out and asked if I should call 911 and they answered, "No, we just need help getting him up". I ran over to them and noticed that the two women were quite frail and small whereas the man was probably 6 feet and close to 180 lbs. "He just needs help to get to his feet" his wife explained. I took his right arm in mine and circled his waist with my left arm. "OK, mam, at the count of three let's pull him up" (I'm thinking how in the world am I going to lift this guy! Am I crazy - I'm not sure I can do this!) We got him about halfway up - and he was totally placing every bit of his weight on me - it seemed his legs were like jelly. It dawned on me that I can't give any more strength - the man is going to fall down on this concrete - I can't let that happen. I closed my eyes and told myself to just give it everything and don't let up. What seemed like an excruciatingly long time in finally stablizing him on his feet was probably only a minute or so but I was too numb from the experience to really noice. Holy God! How did I do that! Where did I get the strength? The wife pulled up each of his pant legs "Checking to see if they didn't come out" (HUH?) "He has arificial legs". Oh Crap - no wonder he was limp as a dishrag!
He wasn't letting go of me either (nor was I convinced he should)! I helped him walk into the building where a wheel chair was waiting for him. As we hobbled towards the door able-bodied men seem to come out of nowhere asking if they could help - where were they 10 minutes ago?
We introduced ourselves to each other and Frank kidded that it sure was nice having such a good looking woman with her arms around him. I laughed and said that it felt good to have a man depend on me and enjoy my caring !
So there you have it! I did get a little manly action today. (I hope Frank will be ok!)
My youngest has planned to move to Tennessee for years - it's been her dream. And now it's becoming a reality. She and I had flown down to Nashville in March to scout the city, check out the campus (MSTU) as well as apartments in the area. Since that time she has applied and been accepted into the Music Industry program - another undergraduate program, This weekend she flys solo down to her orientation at the school. She will place a deposit on an apartment and put in her applications at various high-end restaurants. (God, can she do all that without me? Since when?? She's my baby - where is she getting all this organization and spunk? )
We have considerable talent in our family - with MommaK as well as baby Bobbe. My middle darling, AM, played the flute through high school but did not inherit the singing voice her sisters have. (She has many other wonderful talents though!!) We have all enjoyed the Karaoke bars and perform at any opportunity but it's Bobbe who has won hands down in quite a few Country singing competitions. She even sang with the band at Tootsie's in Nashville (where every County Singer gets their start) Made a momma proud!
And you should see MommaK's little daughters belt out the songs. They have an interactive software (what's it called?) which is like Karaoke but you compete with each other and the game rates you as you are singing and scores you at completion. Man, it is tough to beat the 10 year old. I can still beat the 5 year old since she can't read the words yet! (HA!)
Now back to Bobbe! She is in love with anything that is Country - her idol is Patsy Kline and she does a mean imitation! But she is not seeking stardom but would rather immerse herself in the music culture and become a managing agent. She plans to attend college full time to complete the degree in 2 years while waiting tables to pay the rent and eat once in a while. MTSU guarantees job placement! (Music to my ears!)
So lets give her THREE CHEERS for her enthusiasm and dreams. May they come true soon and may she find a rich and loving country guy to make her happy for ever and ever!
It's gone! Any semblence of the All American Father's Day gathering with cook-out, backyard games, too much food but lots of laughing and story telling. Followed by exhaustion, cleanup and contentment. (This is really a long ago memory - nothing of recent vintage)
He's there. I'm here and the girl's are busy with their lives. I hurt that the day will pass without anything. I don't necessarily hurt for him although I wish that he could have some positive interaction with his daughters this day. There were many good things he did for them unselfishly as they grew up. I think of the trips to the mountains, the talent shows nightly, karote classes, teaching each of them how to drive, all the many music performances he attended. Does it just have to end now? Do we all allow our pride and subbornness to take charge? Is it necessary for us to feel that we must 'get something out of this' before taking the step to be the bigger person?
This is the second time in their lives where a father has abandoned them - turned his back and refused to communicate. What havoc it must be playing with their physchic! Thank God they have some good male role models to lean on! God I want to slap these men silly for their stupidity!
I have spent so many hours wishing and wanting for more 'fatherly' intervention for my girls but unfortunately they have been stung with disappointment too many times to catalog!
I'm just feeling a little blue today.
Let's see, the last you knew, I was orchestrating a sale of my Maryland home of 26 years, searching for a cozy condo in Virginia closer to work and closer to MommaK and clan, and moving my office and being swallowed up by a firm six times our size. All of this in the month of April - 2 months after saying my final goodbye to my tenant husband you had been leasing a futon in the basement for 3 months. (This will need further explanation later).
From outward appearances you would not realize what was going on in my life as I do a very good job at internalizing my stress. I am glad to say that I finally am beginning to sleep through the night without hours of insomnia. I was about ready to go to a sleep specialist! And my cursed IBS that kicked in (ouch!) a good year ago is finally subsiding. I have found that exercise is a big healer of the mind and body and am trying to get back to Jazzercize - found a great place nearby.
But what has been going on! I seem to be an extremely busy lady these days and wonder, with just me to take care of, how I managed with three children for a good twenty-some years. I know I devote more time at work; my Singers group requires a 2-3 night commitment per week at least until our show in July!
But my initial focus has been redecorating my new condo ! Picking out furniture, window treatments, installing closet organizers. FUN! I'm on a 12-14 week hold until the furniture arrives - I'll forget what I ordered! I love the security my condo gives me from the underground garage to the ADT alarm system. I moved from the highest crime area in the DC area and was always fearful of a breakin or assault when getting out of my car.
There is an overabundance of new restaurants, malls, specialty grocery stores - all within a 5 mile radius. This is a very international neighborhood, bordering the Dulles Airport so there is every authentic Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Hispanic restaurant you can imagine INCLUDING 'Take out Taxi" food service - I'm loving it! I fall out of bed and I'm at the movie theater - that is magical to my granddaughters - it doesn't get any better - that and my cute pool!
With all this change of scenery and significant change of lifestyle I'm struggling with the 'single, solitary by-yourself' syndrone. I don't necessarily want to be single. I never actually have been. Maybe it grows on you - right now it seems odd. For the short 4 years between #1 & #2 husband I had my three daughters to keep me busy, entertained and certainly company. I went from home to convent back to home and then to marriage #1. There are ups and downs as I see it right now. I enjoy the independence and I look forward to the peace and quiet and comfort my new home gives me. I am spending more time nurturing the 'girl' friendships I have - especially with other single women. There have been plenty of nights out, movies, shopping and dining. I'm available for my girls and my granddaughters at a moments notice and enjoy the close bonds we share. But I miss the interaction of a spouse, the need to please, nurture and draw support. I wonder at this stage in my life if it is possible to find a true soul mate. I did so horribly in choosing the first two - although I have to admit that #2 was a little better than #1 - at least he didn't cheat on me - (if cheating is worse than turning into a nut case). What are the chances that another man exists out there that could both stimulate me - emotionally and intellectually - and also worship the ground on which I walk! I don't wish for too much.
Do you ever play tricks on your kids? Sometimes the opportunity just presents itself, you know. You don't spend hours fabricating the plan, it just happens and you play along!
I have three adult (young adult) daughters and while two were still in college I continued to take care of their medical and dental appointments. My job had recently changed and I signed up for dental insurance for the first time - what a novelty benefit! Never had that luxury before. I proceeded to make check-up appointments for each of us and, because of work and school schedules I had to make 3 separate appointments - with mine being first.
What are three signs of a bad dentist???
1) he shares his space with a Real Estate office.
2) there's no hygenist - the dentist cleans your teeth.
3) the dentist can't quite operate the water spray so your face and chest are soaked by the end of the 5 minute cleaning.
Now a good mother would immediately cancel the appointments for her daughters, recognizing the obvious incompetence. I, on the other hand, saw humor in awaiting their reactions! It was FREE anyway! One thing I did mention to them was not to allow the dentist to do any work on them - reschedule the appointment for later (I gave an insurance compliance excuse). God knows I wouldn't want that to happen!
I still laugh when recalling the phone calls I received. They were spitting (literally) disgusted! I swore the first to secrecy - so we together could enjoy the last victim! Each experienced the exact same treatment - came away drenched and swore they would never set foot in there again. What fun!
Maybe if I'm lucky another such opportunity will come along soon..... hopefully before they try to get even.
OK I'm exhausted! I admit it. That bed looks so inviting - I so want to crawl into it. But I'm here and I just want to share a few thoughts from my recent weekends.
MommaK and I arrange special one-on-one weekends for each of her daughters so that while I'm spoiling them to bits on my end, MommaK can do something with the other daughter that may have been a little tough with the 'other one' around. You know the whole sister routine.
So last weekend it was the 5 year old's turn and she was delighted to be first and thought nothing of practically pushing her sister and mother out of my unit to get the weekend started. Her weekend was crammed with adventure walks to the park, an afternoon at the town festival which included rides, games, face painting, bus ride (!), movie and Cold Stone ice cream while MommaK and big sister went shopping for the afternoon. The weekend ended with a nice afteroon enjoying my pool for the first time. Strange pool, though. The entire pool was 3 - 1/2 feet! I think that's taking safety a little too far - especially with a lifeguard there. Oh well, it didn't seem to matter to them.
THIS weekend I drove the 10 year old (going on 20) to the beach for her great-grandmother's birthday. My mother owns a condo on the ocean which has been a summer haven for all my girls as they have grown up. How we wish we could afford to buy the place at some point! I promised her two things would happen at the beach if she was patient with Nana. I would swim with her in the pool and take her to the boardwalk. God! That water was cold but I did it! Played 'find the goggles', raced and graded her cannonball jumps! She was so absolutely genuinely ecstatic that I spent the time with her. It brought back so many wonderful memories of my own father in this very same pool romping and playing with my daughers! I guess he was probably as exhausted as I am feeling now but I wonder if he had the same smile on his face. Yes, I'm sure he did.
I'm sure there are books written on all the dynamics that go into the one-on-one annual evaluation of performance. I've worked long enough to have been on both sides of the table to appreciate the anxiety, the word games, and often the personal issues that insert subjectivety. Our small company was swallowed up by a national firm so we now can experience the ultimate in performance reviews. Three months prior we were tasked to complete a nine part self-evaluation which took close to seven hours to complete. Today we each met with our new and our 'old' operation manger to hear how they (really just the 'old' one) agreed and disagreed with our own self-read. I had already decided to not de-value myself (we women have a tendency to be humble and it gets us nowhere!). So I chose "Best in Class' for many of the job categories - this was one of the selected criteria from which we could choose. Reminds me of a horse show! But what the heck!
It's always easy to sit and hear kudos on your work efforts and I certainly received my share for which I am thankful. But it's also true to form that they have to place a few 'not so nice' traits on the table; turn 'em over, and slice/dice them just because - well, nobody's perfect and we need to set a goal for some type of improvement! I won't bore you with the good traits but I'll gladly share the bad ones (since it's not PC to talk about them in the office!)
Here's # 1: You tend to intimidate the lower level clerical staff with your level of expertise and you need to have more patience with them. You need to give them more lead time on your projects. Suggested goal - spend more time teaching and explaining the basics to them.
and #2: We recognize that you have been understaffed and promised help for over two years; but you need to stop venting your frustrations to management - you often have a negative attitude! It seems that the level of your frustration is increasing.
Hello! Wake up call! These are not bad traits - they are a cry for help! I disagreed that I should be criticized for being placed in a lose-lose job situation. And I assured both of the ladies that as soon as they 'fixed' the staffing problem, my 'bad' traits would all but disappear. But Hey! It's another whole year until the next one - I'll start buying the clerical staff little presents - be sure to compliment them each day on some little thing - shut up when management asks me my opinion - honesty is not often what they want to hear.
The last page of the evaluation scores you on one of several levels and shows you the percentage of employees that upper management expects to be in that category. About 65% make "Fully Achieved", 20% make "Surpassed" and only 2% make the coveted "FarSurpassed". The other categories which make up the remaining 13% are the under achievers that are pretty well straddling the fence. I fell into the second category which hopefully will equate to a monetary change for the better. So, I'm pleased and will just try to put his uncomfortable experience behind me! How about you?
I asked that question tonight as I limped home from Jazzercise a bit in awe of my instructor who welcomed me by name as I arrived for class. She had only taught the class one other night - how did she remember me out of all the women in the room? I know I'm a newbie but still was pleasantly impressed by her memory skills! And felt a fit special! It's a little thing but it's a mood lifter! - leaving my Maryland home of 26 years to settle in totally unknown territory in The Mother company, who had gobbled us up several years ago, became hungry again and purchased an agency six times our size (60 vs 10 employees). Suddenly we were transported from a beautiful riverview suite to a 3 story building overlooking the Beltway. For a good two weeks I was walking in circles until I finally got the lay of the land but HOW do you learn the names of 60 new people? We have played all kinds of name games to make the connection - I am determined to master each person's name. I think I have most of the third flour now but I'm still seeing people for the first time that must exist somewhere in the bowels of the 2nd or 1st floors. I know how much it means to ME when someone knows my name - I keep trying to learn. I don't mind asking people - 'hey what's your name again?' except when they speak my name first without hesitation! We resorted to placing everyone's name at their door or cubicle. So now, if I meet someone whose name escapes me, I follow them (discreetly) back to their desk, check out the name and make a mental note. It's been two months now - give me another two months.
April was a series of 'moves' for me:
the outer reaches of Virginia
- making that major decision to come alone and
start my new life
- and my office moved as well.
Thanks to everyone who visited and encouraged me to jump back on! I have been so crazily busy but in the next few weeks I'll start to give you the lowdown. You're right - it's great to be back!
- leaving my Maryland home of 26 years to settle in totally unknown territory in
The Mother company, who had gobbled us up several years ago, became hungry again and purchased an agency six times our size (60 vs 10 employees). Suddenly we were transported from a beautiful riverview suite to a 3 story building overlooking the Beltway. For a good two weeks I was walking in circles until I finally got the lay of the land but HOW do you learn the names of 60 new people? We have played all kinds of name games to make the connection - I am determined to master each person's name. I think I have most of the third flour now but I'm still seeing people for the first time that must exist somewhere in the bowels of the 2nd or 1st floors. I know how much it means to ME when someone knows my name - I keep trying to learn. I don't mind asking people - 'hey what's your name again?' except when they speak my name first without hesitation! We resorted to placing everyone's name at their door or cubicle. So now, if I meet someone whose name escapes me, I follow them (discreetly) back to their desk, check out the name and make a mental note. It's been two months now - give me another two months.
You have to love her!! She has encouraged and supported me - she's such a good friend even though she is a bit of a gentle NAG! OK! It's late on my usual Singers night (I'm a wanna-be jazz and rock star on the side) but I am making the 're-plunge' into blogging. You promised you would teach me all the cool tricks you do on your site - if you want your many new blogg friends to visit me I have to learn some camera and copying techniques! I know it's a challenge! But think of all the patience that it took to raise you, young lady! Now you need to turn the "why doesn't my VCR work- why it's not connected to the TV!" hopelessly non-technical mother into a functioning blogger and guide her into the frightening world of the "X" generation!
Now I have all night to think about what I will write tomorrow!! Your friends must be sending me emails to my old email address. I'll have to fix my profile. Good night!
Hello?? Are you there? Pick up if you're there? If you can read this, put your fingers on the keyboard and type something. Okay, well I guess you're not there. Just contacting you to say that I miss hearing from you. When you do get back and read this, please post something again soon.