Monday, December 31, 2007

Allrighty then...

Another year bites the dust. What a transitional year this has been - back at work as a Realtor after a 5 and a half year hiatus as a stay-at-home Mom. It had been a tough decision, but looking back upon the year, I realize it was the right one. The Kids have learned so much, and the RE/MAX office is like a second home to them.

I like the idea of my Kids seeing me in a role as something other than their Mom. I like that my brain is slowly regenerating to the point where I can once again string a series of coherent thoughts together. I love that when I meet someone new I'm not immediately dismissed because as a Stay-at-home-Mom I must not have much to say. I love that I can have a real lunch of my very own and not have to finish what is left on the Kids plates. I love that I can go to the office where 4 people aren't fighting over the computer. I love knowing that predictably there will be time throughout my week when I can get to the gym.

Some things that I don't love: When my daughter says "But I want to be with YOU, Mommy". Or, when I dodge in to the grocery store in between appointments and see Mom's dressed in their sweats with their kids in tow. It's rough when I drive past the library and feel like that is really where I want to and should be. It's rough when on a Sunday the family is home, dinner is in the oven, and its time to get ready for an open house. It's rough when I sit contemplating a happy meal for their supper and then realize they just had that yesterday! And of course, its rough when one of them really needs a nap but they can't cause they have to go with Mommy on a 'pointment.

I have had the honor and privilege of staying home with my Kids for their first 5 + years. I now have the honor of working for the most professional and respected real estate firm in Peoria. I wouldn't give up either opportunity for the world. My experience in both regards has taught me that there is no legitimate discourse between working Moms and stay-at-home Moms. No matter what, guilt will be a frequent visitor in our lives. But I can say without a doubt, that at least in regards to the women in MY life, we all want the same things for our children.

Ethical Hacking

Had to chuckle.... today I was driving East on Glen and saw a billboard for Pearl Technology advertising "ethical hacking" services. This cracks me up. What would be considered ethical hacking? I mean, why would anyone put a password on their data if they didn't want to be the sole decider of who would have access to that information?

Who decides who is ethical, and what data can you hack and what data can you not hack? Perhaps there is a whole culture on this... I don't know... just thought it was funny.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Puleeze get hold of yourself!

Here is a secret. Dysfunction makes me squirm. I will run from it faster than if Chuckie was chasing me with a machete. I've had my fair share, but learned early in adulthood that the sooner you can kick dysfunction out of your life the better. Its called personal strength. Some women need to improve their skills in this department, especially if they are going through a divorce!

I'm sure you've all known at least one. They have a crazed, kind of hollow stare. They cannot eat, breathe or sleep without telling everyone they know how despicable their soon to be ex is. This is one instance where I gotta side with the fellas. The most you'll likely get out of them is a quiet mutter about something that rhymes with witch.

These women are so incessant that if you ever get stuck with one, you would rather tear your ears off with a pliers than continue to listen to her rants. As you dutifully respond with an "aw.. oh... ooh" and the appropriate gestures of sympathy, you realize that she does not give two hoots about anything you have to say. She is only planning the next damnation to come out of her mouth. Save your sanity and park her in front of a store mannequin.

One woman, an acquaintance, who purported to be my friend for purposes of having another outlet to vent her unbridled animosity, went so far as to accuse her husband of the most dastardly of acts against their child. I was devastated, as I knew the family and my heart ached for the child. It wasn't even a week later that I heard her talking on the phone about how the soon to be ex was taking the child on an out of town trip. I was incredulous. Now either she was just downright spinning the most vile of accusations, or she was an unfit mother. It had to be one of the two, and I don't think it was the latter. Her thinking had become so discombobulated that it didn't even occur to her that I would find those 2 claims impossible to reconcile.

So ladies, my advice, divorce sucks but it happens to the best of us. Suck it up and maintain your dignity. Don't drive your friends away, destroy the image of your children's Daddy, and leave an embarrassing and unforgettable impression to all around you of how you conduct yourself under pressure.

A small part of me worried about writing this post... thinking that perhaps a guilty party might read it and be offended. But then I thought, naaagh, a person caught up in this kind of drama is in so much denial of reality that they wouldn't even recognize it as themselves.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Phone hell

Last week I noticed a $35. late payment penalty on my credit card statement. I was certain it was wrong, since all my banking is done on-line and they are NEVER wrong. Sure enough, I checked the bank records and observed that in fact the bill had been paid on time. At that moment, I realized I would soon be descending in to what I call Customer Service PHONE HELL.

Yes, I am referring to the endless and confusing series of numbers that must be punched in to your phone before you ever get to talk to a person with a pulse. Common sense would dictate that it would be inconceivable that there could ever be a self service menu option for "Give me the **** my $35. back!"

So, I wait until I have at least 35 minutes to waste and then dial the dreaded 1-800 number. Ugh! My strategy is to just keep hitting -0- and hopefully override the system and get an operator, but the rule of thumb is that you must be on the verge of plunging a knife into your chest before that can happen. And why when you get the live agent on the phone do they ask for your account number again? What was the purpose of punching it in the first place? And how about when you realize you don't have the right department. You would hope that by virtue of the fact that you were diligent enough to get all the way to the live operator you would have some type of priority to go directly to the correct department. But no, that would make entirely too much SENSE!

But my all-time fav Phone Hell Scenario is when you use your best guess to make the proper selections, and discover that all the selections you have made take you right back to the MAIN MENU! That is when you look around the room (while laughing maniacally) to see if there is a hidden candid camera recording your reaction for reality TV. Unfortunately, chances are its no joke. It is just the new "Customer Service" standard for the new millennium. Wanna get rich quick? Plan on investing your life savings in to the first Fortune 500 Company that keeps their customers out of phone Hell!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Billy Dilemma

Several weeks ago I introduced you to our new dog, Billy. Billy is a wonderful dog, playful, loving and smart. There is just one little problem... he has unresolved anger issues. Translation: He nips at the kids. The first time it happened was when Billy was wearing the Elizabethan collar following his neutering surgery. On went the collar.. and as any pet owner who has ever had to subject their pet to this device would know- it makes for one unhappy camper! So our son put his face just a little too close for Billy's comfort, and Nip. Strike one. We cut Billy some slack under the circumstances and decided to integrate the kids and the dog a little more cautiously. So everything seemed to go swimmingly for the next few weeks until one day the kids were sitting on the floor and Jenniffer happened to do something that Billy didn't like, and Nip! Strike 2. The third event took place the following day when Billy growled at Jenniffer again. Strike 3.

I called an animal behaviorist, called my friends at PAWS, called my bff, my Mom, my Dad, my sister and the bro. There were two prevailing schools of thought: 1. Work with the dog and try to modify the behaviour and 2. Get rid of the dog ASAP before we have to stitch a face back together. It was a brutal predicament, but we felt option 2 was the most responsible choice. I called the Peke Rescue and they said they would re-home in to a home with no kids. So here we go again, my heart is broken once more. A sad day for the Vespa family, and a sad day for the pup. Live and learn.

Santa, Shmanta

I'll never forget the first day of first grade. All the "G's" were in homeroom together for the first time, and some smart-alecky Nelly Olson look alike with stupid blond pigtails couldn't wait to tell the rest of the class that Santa was really Mom and Dad. For the rest of the day, I couldn't even concentrate. I just wanted to get home and ask Mom if it were true. Finally, the moment arrived. I spilled the question to my mother fully expecting a vehement denial, but of course, it never came. Her hesitation at answering the question was all I needed to confirm that what the little snit in class had said was true.

Seriously, I was crushed, betrayed and a little embarrassed that I had been so gullible. (yes, I felt all of that at 5 years old). How could my parents perpetrate such an outright lie? At that moment, I vowed I would never lie to my future kids about Santa Clause and guess what? I don't.

Our kids know who Santa Claus is, and that he is the one they should confide their worldly desires to. They do not, however, believe that his fat *ss is going to be scurrying down our chimney anytime soon. Mercifully, they have never outright asked. They seem to innately sense the improbability of it all. The few times they have repeated their friends claims regarding Santa Claus, I have simply put the question right back to them. Santa is anyone you want him to be, but this I know for sure - Santa is someone who loves you very very much.

So before my readers think that I'm just one big Scrooge and denying my kids the joy and mystery of Santa Clause, consider this telephone conversation:

Me: Hey Jim, I'm at Fluff, and I'm looking at the Webkinz charms. They have the tree frog, the cow and the white dog. Which ones do you want for Christmas?

Jim: How about the dog, and don't forget the collar that goes with it! And Mom check and see if the blue ball cap came in.

Definitely not the words of a kid who is crushed because Santa and his flying reindeer are not personally delivering his toys. As far as they are concerned Mickey Mouse can bring'em, so long as they are in their proper place under the tree come Christmas morning!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Why blogging will change the world, starting with Peoria!

The buzz has been around awhile. Bloggers feel they are making a significant impact on the news cycle, and traditional media continue to (unconvincingly) deny it. I never much cared one way or the other, until this post on Peoria Pundit. The Paul Vallas link regarding Peoria Schools District 150 really caught my eye. It's no secret that Peoria schools are struggling. There has been persistent turmoil and in the 10 years I have been here never a perceived direction. Administrators and board members come and go through the proverbial revolving door, and real, effective change is elusive.

First, a few disclaimers. I have only a casual knowledge of what is really happening in the district. Our son just started Kgarten, so we have no history of experiences to draw upon, although so far we are pleased (other than a few bumps in the road.)But if you look at the state report cards someone with half their brain tied behind their back would notice Houston has a problem.

Secondly, Peoria has some special circumstances, including socio-economic conditions that obstruct the educational experience for many children, and the inequitable way schools are funded locally through property taxes, a topic worthy of its own post. But other schools have faced similar challenges and prevailed. Why can't we?

It is a complicated dilemma and one that is difficult to grasp unless you understand the education jargon. For the average Joe, it makes ones head spin like poor Linda Blair in the Exorcist. So the average Joe Peorian will typically do what one does when they don't understand something... nothing. Other than reading a few newspaper articles and watching a few 30 second sound bites on the news of the "he said" "she said" point/counterpoints, there's not much more they can offer.

Enter, the blogger. NOW we get down to the nitty-gritty. Now we have real-time productive debate and discussion in terms that even "stoopid" me can understand. Admin and Board Members be on your toes. No longer must the average citizen obligingly swallow anything told to them. Bloggers will infiltrate every nook and cranny of the truth. They may be as annoying as Hell, but eventually, the reality will come in to focus.

And THAT, my friends, is why bloggers will change the world as we know it. Knowledge brings understanding, and understanding brings about change. Look out, the bloggers are coming!

Numerous unmoderated comments found....

My apologies to anyone who posted and did not get published. I guess I need to adjust my spam filter.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Billy don't be a hero...

Just can't stop singin that song! Here is our new dog, Billy, straight from the Peke rescue. They sure had our number. My pal Joyce called and asked if we would like him on a "trial basis". Ha ha, of course, the trial period was over as far as I was concerned by the end of the phone call. Today we took him to our vet, as he seems to be perpetually ticked off about the little "nuetering" issue from a week ago. Honestly, I thought it was psychological but felt a professional opinion would be in order just to be sure. That professional opinion resulted in even more humiliation for good natured Billy, as the pic demonstrates.

Anyhoo, we are blissfully happy to welcome Billy to the family. You will surely be hearing lots more about him!