Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

So, it's New Year's Eve. We are about to pull the curtain on 2008 and usher in a brand new year. It has certainly been a year of change, don't ya think? Whether or not you wanted big changes in your life, times they are a changin.

Personally, this has been a tough year for our family. We moved...again (hopefully for the last time!!), and with me not having a steady job, it's been tough financially. But, we're working on that, and are hoping and praying for more stability in 2009. We lost a beloved family member in a truly horrible way, which has left all of us feeling kind of sad this holiday season. The economy has taken a toll on our savings and retirement and on our friends and family. The election, while exciting, has left many of us wondering where we fit in in this new world of ours. We at the STQ family are praying hard for our new President and truly hope he can fulfill the ambitious promises he has made. Our country needs him to be a fantastic leader.

2009 is going to be challenging, but my prayer is that it will also be a good year for all of us. As for tonight, we are having friends over and ushering in the new year with prayer and hope. We wish all of you a safe and happy New Year's Eve, and a year filled with blessings and answered prayer. God bless all of you, and see ya next year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Southern Christmas

I packed up Chase, Divine Hubby and myself, sent the dog to "Puppy camp," put a giant bowl of food in the hamster's cage and we flew South for Christmas. My parents still live in the small town in SC where I grew up. It's funny that after being gone for 20+ years, I hardly recognize the place! It doesn't help that the 'rents moved and are now living in a different area of town, but really, it's not that big...

One of the things that hurts the most is that Baskin Robbins is gone. Location of my first job, and where I spent most of my free time during my high school days. Many good (and weird) memories there. It's now a Waffle House. That's just wrong... Also Cato - a cheapo clothing store where I worked (and the site of yet more weird memories) is now part of a gigantic Home Depot. sigh

Most of my friends have relocated around the country as well. There are a few still lurking around, but this was such a quick trip, there just wasn't time to visit with them. I did run into a friend I haven't seen since, oh, 1986...we had a great time catching up, and I feel like I have a new friend. I remember why I liked her so much in high school and hope we will keep in touch this time!

My brother and his wife also joined us for Christmas, and that was a lot of fun. Yeah, yeah, seeing them was good too...but they brought my 1-yr-old niece Haven with them. Not sure I remember actually seeing or talking to anyone else once she showed up! I love to hold and play with other people's babies, and it's particularly good when she's my adorable niece!!

We also enjoyed spending time with my 'rents and with my Aunt Susan who came all the way from California to spend Christmas with us! She is so much fun to be around - has a great big laugh and fantastic stories to share.

It was one of the best Christmases we have had in awhile - it was fun to be back in my home town and it was fun being with family there. Hope your Christmas was fun too!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My eldest is all grown up

Meg is a freshman at Arizona State this year. We have enjoyed being so close to her - she's brought friends home and spent three weekends with us this semester! It doesn't hurt that Vegas is a fun place to visit when you're 18...

Meg has always been the easy-going child. Except for doctors and dentists, she has rarely shed a tear or thrown a fit. As a child, she had a sunny disposition and was really fun to have around. She enjoyed family get-togethers, had good friends and rarely gave us a second of trouble. As a teenager, she got a little more challenging...but still, no big problems. Just a little (ahem) mouthy and superior. Of course, I don't know anything about being a mouthy and superior teenager, right Mom and Dad?

She has always loved sports - specifically soccer. Meg started soccer when she was about 6 months old, I think. We spent more time at soccer fields in many different cities in Texas than anywhere else, I think. She's a fantastic player - long and lean, and has a mean corner kick that scored many a goal for her team.

There were times during her teenage years when we felt distant from her, and worried about our relationship with Meg. We tried not to hold her too tightly, while worrying that we weren't holding her tightly enough. She has a level head, a good sense of right and wrong, and is just generally good, so she got through (and so did we) with flying colors. Since she has started college, our relationship with her has changed and become more adult and less parental. (Except for that pesky paying for college thing...) Meg is beautiful, physically, and is really becoming a beautiful woman, all the way around. We look forward to celebrating graduation, career, marriage and grandchildren with her.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My baby is growing up

The signs are all there. He can take showers by himself and dry his own hair, he can iron his own clothes (yes, really!!), he can change his own sheets, he talks on the phone to his friends, he cops a 'tude with the best of them, and now the child has braces. Yes, braces!! Well, the beginnings of them, anyway. They put an expander in his mouth yesterday, and we have the adventure of turning it every night for 28 nights to make his mouth bigger for the gigantic chiclets that are replacing those lovely little corn-kernel baby teeth he used to have.

I remember when he was a baby. Colicky, fussy, refused to breastfeed, very high-energy and high-strung. And that's all before his personality began to show itself! My Chase is most definitely his own man and has been since the word go. I have often said that we got what we asked for when we named our son an action verb...

But, despite all of the difficulties we've had, Chase has grown into an incredible young man. The principal at his school recently singled me out to tell me just that. And it was in the context of Chase being caught doing something wrong! The principal said he was so impressed with Chase's contrite attitude, apology, and willingness to make it right, that it made a real impression on him.

I remember one time when Chase was in the 2nd grade. When he got home from school, I told him I had missed him, and that it was lonely at our house when he was at school. He looked bewildered and said, "Mommy, you're not alone. God is here with you when I'm at school!" Brought tears to my eyes.

Funny, Chase was so (ahem) challenging as a little boy, I would have bet you cash money that we were going to have terrible trouble with him in school. The exact opposite has occurred. He's in the 5th grade, and every single teacher he has had has absolutely loved him. He is a good student, but I think even if he was pushing straight C's, he'd be a favorite. He's just a loving, kind, helpful, attentive, cheerful kid, and what teacher doesn't love that kid?

So, tis the season of the annual family brag letter. I didn't get my act together to get one sent (again) this year, so I thought I'd just brag here in my blog. Stay tuned - there is more bragging, um I mean info coming tomorrow!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Travel worries

We are headed back East for Christmas this year. Spending the holidays with my parents, my brother and his family and my Aunt Susan. My family is really fun, and we all enjoy hanging out together. I know it will be a great vacation.


Before the merriment can begin, we have to TRAVEL. (sigh)

Everyone loves to travel, except me. Now, don't get me wrong. I love going to new places, seeing new things, lying on new Caribbean beaches, etc. etc. etc. I just hate the whole process of getting there. Nobody is looking forward to the NTSA coming up with the whole Star Trek "beaming down" process more than me. I hate worrying about traffic and getting to the airport 3 hours before our flight leaves. I hate standing in line lugging bags. I hate getting stranded due to weather. I hate long flights. I hate sleeping sitting up. I hate turbulence. I hate finding the rental car place. I know, I know, I'm a whiner. But I honestly do hate almost everything about traveling!

I think it's because I am such a worrier. I don't really worry about the safety of the plane - I figure smarter folks than me have figured that all out, and I've flown enough to trust the airline industry. It's more missing the flight, forgetting our documents, losing our boarding passes, losing our luggage, not being able to find the rental car, flight cancellations, etc. Just the whole process of traveling is stressful to me. But, I have minimized our travel worries as much as possible. We are flying from a warm climate with no weather concerns to another warm climate with few weather concerns and we are flying nonstop. That means, once we get in the air, we're golden. Other than that, I'll have to just deal with the rest.

I'm not currently on any anti-anxiety or anti-depressant meds, but sometimes I think I should be. Maybe just for travel, I could snag a Xanax??? :) Might make the whole process easier and better for everyone involved!

Friday, December 19, 2008

My love/hate relationship

I have a cold.

The kind that makes me wonder if someone has snuck cedar into my house and is secretly putting it in my face soap. (I'm desperately allergic to cedar, by the way)

The kind that made me let Chase watch WAY too much TV and play WAY too many video games yesterday during our snow day.

The kind that makes me wish I could take Chase to school early just so I could be back in bed right now.

The kind that made me take the most dreaded of all pharmaceuticals: NYQUIL

OH, how I hate that nasty stuff! It is certainly better now that they have put it in a liqui-cap and I don't have to actually taste it, but it's not only the horrible horrible, vomit-inducing taste I object to. I object to how I feel RIGHT NOW. I know you're not dying to hear the list of my complaints, but it's my blog and I'll cry if I want to. sob, sniff

Nyquil is good for only one thing. Sleeping. When I take that stuff, I sleep like the dead. That, my friends is a good thing. The bad part is waking up. I am convinced that Nyquil contains at least 12 shots of Mad Dog or something equally vile. When I woke up this morning, the room was spinning, and I wasn't sure exactly where I was. After realizing that the piece of carpet someone had apparently stuffed in my mouth while sleeping was ACTUALLY my tongue, I managed to stagger out of bed and stay upright.

Nyquil makes me feel fuzzy and thick. That is the best way to describe it. I will spend today feeling stuffed up, chilly, sorry for myself, fuzzy and thick. YAY! That's how I want to spend a Friday, how about you?

No Nyquil for me tonight - I'd rather be tired!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Toto, I don't think we're in Vegas anymore...

One of the perks of living in Las Vegas, is that we don't have weather. Other than HOT, of course. So, imagine my surprise when I looked out of the window and saw this:

And really, should a backyard pool look like this? Now, before you get too jealous, remember, it's a rental!!!
It's cold here, baby. 30 degrees and falling. And snowing. Of course, the streets are clear because it's usually 1000 degrees here, but I still saw many people skidding off of the roads while I was driving home from work this afternoon. The locals say it's because of all of the oil on the roads since it never rains... yeah, whatever. I think people are distracted by the foreign concept of ANYTHING falling from the skies here, and they are so busy looking at it, they are driving off of the roads.
But, it sure is beautiful, and reminds me of Denver...and Green Bay...two of my very favorite cities. And bonus - no shoveling of driveways, so we are very much enjoying the unseasonably-precipitous weather!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

One of the perks of living in Vegas the fact that it's a fun place to visit. We have had more people visit us in the 6 months we have lived here (can you believe it's already been six months? Me either...) than the nearly 2 years we lived in Denver! And NO ONE came to visit us the year we lived in Green Bay! My dear darling stepdaughter Meg has even come three times this semester! She is here this weekend with her friend Becca.

It's really fun having an adult daughter... well almost an adult - she's 18! She sure THINKS she's all grown up, that's for sure! And she looks all grown up too. She's gorgeous and full of spit and vinegar. She's got lots of personality, and has really become an incredible young woman. We are proud of her, and it's been fun having her come visit.

It's also fun having an 11-yr-old son. Chase is just so bright and full of life. He is great fun to have around, and has some great ideas about things, if you can get him to stop talking about Pokemon and talk about real things!! He's into lacrosse, karate, school and (of course) Pokemon.

So, all of that said - Vegas is starting to grow on me. It's finally NOT a thousand degrees, and I'm enjoying the cool weather. We love having guests, and there are just so many fun things to do here, it's astounding. So, if you are in the minority of folks I know who have not yet come to visit, call and make a reservation at our casa. We'd love to have ya!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Adventures in Substituting Chapter 2

So, yesterday, I had the best day subbing I've ever had - bar none! I subbed in a pre-K class, and met the absolute most adorable, cutest and most fun little 4 year olds in all of Vegas! I loved it, and would sub in that class every day, if asked!

Today, I got a job subbing in a good suburban school - nice neighborhoods, certainly NOT at-risk, brand new school, etc. Subbing in a second grade classroom. I mean, how hard can second graders be, right? I have subbed in the 'hood, man. Where I am SURE the kids were on crack, if not outright dealing in front of me. I can handle it - I'm tough, and these are 7 year olds! Again I ask you, how hard can it be?


Let me just say that as long as I've been subbing, I've not been reduced to tears once. And like I said, I've subbed in the 'hood. I cried today by 11am. I had a 7-year-old take his cell phone (who knew 7-yr-olds had cell phones, but I digress) into the bathroom with him and call his mother to report that the substitute was HURTING THE KIDS IN THE CLASS.

I was the substitute.

I'm teaching to a fairly rowdy and difficult group when suddenly the Assistant Principal came in and gathered the kids around her to have a "chat." She then explained the situation (right in front of my astonished face) and asked,

AP: Now, children. Has Mrs. STQ asked you to do anything dangerous (huh)?
Angelic children: Nooooooooooo Mrs. Swan
AP: Has Mrs. STQ asked you to do anything illegal (what)?
Angelic children: Nooooooooooo Mrs. Swan
AP: Has Mrs. STQ hurt any of you in any way? (at which point I nearly lost it)
Angelic children: Noooooooo Mrs. Swan
AP: Has Mrs. STQ yelled or called names to any children? (nearly lost it again)
Angelic children: Noooooooo Mrs. Swan.
AP: Now, children. Let's talk about the boy who cried wolf.

And she proceeded to tell the kids the story of the boy who cried wolf while I was reeling from the accusation I was hearing towards ME!

AP: Now, children. Let's get back to work and let's all pay close attention to Mrs. STQ the rest of the day.

And she left. Just like that - no explanation or discussion to me, no secret wink that everything is ok, no nothin. She just left me alone with my accusers.

At that point, I WANTED to hurt the, I didn't really, but I sure was mad and upset, can you blame me?

During my 15-minute lunch, instead of eating, I found the AP and asked her what the heck was going on! Apparently one parent was called from the cherub with the cell phone in the bathroom, and that parent called her closest friends with kids in the class and they were gathering an angry mob to run on my class with torches to run me out! (This was the part where I cried...a little)

Oh, do you remember that these kids are SEVEN? I repeat. OH. MY. GOSH.

I was then abused by these pint-sized terrorists the rest of the day (should have called my mommy to report it I guess) and left feeling like I'd been beaten with a stick. One of the other teachers said this as I left:

Mrs. Way-Too-Cheery-To-Be-Believed: Bye, Mrs. STQ - be sure to leave your phone number so we can call you again soon!

Me: (thinking silently, as I waved and ran as fast as possible from the building) Yep, I'm gonna just run right back in to do that. I'm dying to come back to this FANTASTIC place...

Can't wait.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Houston, funerals & family

traffic was atrocious, steamy and 80 on Wednesday, great airport, airport VERY FAR AWAY from where we stayed, seeing nephew and wife's new and beautiful house, playing guitar hero (FUN!!), windy and rainy, BAD for STQ's hairdo...Very very bad...

beautiful service, fun reminiscing about Don, lots of great food, lots of great family, loads of laughter remembering Don and his big laugh, life and love, and loads of tears remembering Don, his big laugh, life and love.

Marcelle, Maresha, Sharlyn, Myrline, JC, Cathy, Ryan, Janie, Adam, Shannon and the STQ family. Plus the Laws family, old family friends and Don & Janie's friends in Houston.

The trip was grueling, the humidity was uncomfortable, the clothes were hot, but the family was close, the tears were shared and the love was palpable. So many people were surprised Chase and I went to the funeral, since he wasn't my brother, and it cost a lot of money and time to get there. I am so very thankful we went. It was a fitting goodbye to a big man who had a big impact on our little STQ family. I know I have devoted a lot of time to him in this usually random and kind of silly blog, but this has been a real tragedy for our family.

So, one last time - we love you Don. We miss you, and we expect to see you first in line someday at the pearly gates saying "KISS MY FACE" like you used to as you crush us in a big bear hug. I wonder if you can have the air crushed out of your eternal body like you can your earthly one? Well, I know he will try his very best.

Bye Don.