Story Toys

I'm just going to throw this out there...you want some quality apps for your little one that you can trust to be decent, useful, functional and clean?  Then spend the few dollars to pay for the apps from Story Toys.  Seriously worth it.

This post brought to you by no one but me...I love their new "My Very Hungry Caterpillar" app, thought I should share the loves.



I Hate Change

I've said it, what seems like, a million times.  I do not handle change well.  This past year has really tested me and while I can at least say I'm coming out alive and essentially unscathed (thank my lucky stars)...mentally I am a basket case.

Let's go back to March of 2014.  That isn't when the major changes happened but that's when they started creeping into my life.

March 2014 - I moved from the downtown office location of my then employer to a satellite office.  The new office wasn't bad but it was a change no less.  I liked the people there, I liked the new office, I even managed to handle the longer commute.  In no time I felt adjusted.  I think it might have helped that I had a new friend among coworkers and it smoothed things out for me.

July 2014 - We decide to enroll Lil Bit in preschool.  I have a hard time with this for two reasons...I feel weird about taking her from my sister, who had watched her since I returned to work when she was 3 months old.  I also feel weird because she's growing up and I'm not ready for this.  I'm not ready for the change in life, the change in schedule, the change in her innocence...etc.  You understand if you've ever been there.  It's the last time you'll enroll your baby in preschool...she's no longer a baby, she's a freaking PRESCHOOLER.  It's rough but I think I can do it.

August 2014 - Lil Bit's first day of school; there are festivities the entire week before, events, meetings with the new teacher, school supply shopping, much ado about preschool.  I cried like a baby when I dropped her off and had to turn around and walk away.  Heartbreaking.  I guess the nice thing in terms of change is that it wasn't necessarily a huge change in my schedule as my husband generally took Lil Bit 2 days a week to his parents in the morning and they took her and picked her up from school.  It was significant that she was not at my sister's for 5 days of the week.  But, there was a plus, let me tell you, I have waited ages to take my child (I thought about this even when I did not have a child) school supply shopping.  It, in some ways, got me through this week.

September 2014 - My sister informs me that she's moving to a different state.  I hold it together long enough to leave her house before I sob the entire way home.  She was there for me always...literally, physically there for me.  She consoled me, amused me, cared for my child, and in general was just there for me.  I panic for a bit but then go into "get things done" mode.  I make provisions for my daughter's child care which now means that she's going to Child Care 3 days a week and to the grandparents/school two days a week.  It is a significant change to my schedule but also a significant change in my venting sessions.  If not for my new coworker/friend...it could have gone bad...but I managed through it.  I struggled, felt depressed, came to terms, worked through it, and came out unscathed having finally gotten into a comfortable but revised schedule and routine by the end of October.  I am happy for my sister and her family...it has seemed to work out well for all.

December 2014 - I am laid off from my then employer.  I'm hit hard by this....come home to sob into Riley who sat there staring at me like I was nuts, after all, it was just a job.  This whole ordeal severely depresses me and I keep myself busy with sewing projects and Christmas events and volunteering at Lil Bit's school.  I didn't even read during this time.  Also, December depresses me in general because it's the end of the holiday season when things get packed up and festive decorations come down and we begin the Holiday Doldrums until May.  I really suffer silently through this.  I am fortunate to have found a new (and better in so many ways) job within one week of my lay-off.  I get a month off, essentially paid for, during the holidays to spend with my family, and to do things for my child's school.  In hindsight I see this and think of nothing depressing at all.  Just a lot of change.

January 2015 - I start my new job.  I also start teaching a class two evenings a week at SIUE.  Lil Bit starts taking a dance class.  It's a major adjustment to routine and schedule.  We struggle through but are settled by the end of February.

April 2015 - I decide to start taking care of myself again.  I exercise, I eat well, I take great vitamins (that I even promote to people (Advocare if you are wondering)).  I'm doing well...I feel the best I've felt in a long time.

May 2015 - The most devastating month ever.  Everything feels like it ends in May.  I finished the book series I had been reading since September 2014.  Change to a new book I suppose.  Final exams for my class end the first week in May and while I'm happy for it to be over, it's a change.  Lil Bit's first year of preschool comes to end.  I miss her teacher already.  Again, change.  Dance class comes to an end (the recital was today and Lil Bit doesn't think she wants to dance again...I kind of miss it).  Change.  Despite all this change and adjustment to schedules (even with the beginning of camping season and the opening of the pool, and just things in general) the one thing that is killing me over and over is the loss of Riley.  I miss him and I say it's heartbreaking and sometimes I wonder if that's going to be literal for me because the panic attacks I get thinking of him hurt my heart, and my lungs, and every single part of me as I gasp for breath.  I feel silly acting this way.  He was after all a dog...we expect the loss of them over our lifetime...it wasn't entirely a surprise, though far too soon.  I can't help but break each day as I see something that makes me think of my friend.  It's been the hardest change so far.

I feel ridiculous not being able to handle change.  Ridiculous.  It could be so much worse...trust me, I play the scenarios in my head often.  I'd talk them out but in some ways I've lost some of my best consolation between Riley, my sister, and my coworker/friend.  They listened when they didn't need to and still at least 2 of them do...just not face to face, it makes things a bit harder.  And, looking back to the past, I realize I do get over it; but right now, I just feel.....ridiculous, lousy, panicky, and lost just to name a few.  I hate this feeling.  I just go everyday for as long as I can and when the feeling overwhelms me, and it does, I just let it wash over me so I can get back up and move on out of the sludge as best as possible.  And hopefully, in a few months, when a million more changes have come at me...maybe I can look back to now and say, "If I made it through that, I will make it again"...and if not, I guess I should go school supply shopping?

In any case, it feels good to have gotten this off my chest.  Thanks world for listening.  My heart goes out to a few of my friends suffering through their own things.  One friend T. lost his long time girlfriend to a peculiar medical incident which leaves him and her entire family mourning the loss of a very special young woman.  My friend K. is losing her dad and while I wish there was something I could say to her to ease the pain...I can only just sit here and be ready to hug her when she needs it.  Lousy feeling indeed.  My friend C. lost a niece tragically in a car accident this week and her sister is struggling to stay alive...I've been thinking of them often.  And to a woman I only know professionally, I hope to never know your pain of losing a child.  Her son died this week, age 27, while exercising.  He was in generally good health.   Life is so fragile, I try to remember that this crappy feeling of mine could be trumped with real sadness of fear in the blink of an eye.  Hug those you love, tell them you care....never let a crappy mood get you so down you miss the good things.


RIP Dear Riley

I'm extremely, extremely, extremely, heartbroken today at the loss of Riley, my pal and provider of solace.  Ri was an amazing dog (perfect really), a loving friend, and all around great and gentle creature; there are too many wonderful and funny things to say about him but I want to be selfish and keep them all to myself for now.  I want to hang onto the few sacred things that made him mine.  I also don't think I can get the words out...spoken or written.  He's everywhere with me...from my mouse pad, to my computer desktop screen, and the fur clinging to my clothes...and while he isn't here now to give me comfort which he did so well I hope these remnants of him (which are painful at the moment) continue to remind me how lucky I was to have had him in my life and warm my heart.

The whole family as well as our now lonesome bulldog Bella, miss him greatly and life will certainly be different without him.  It will be hard to walk into the house today and not see that beautiful friend.  Rest in peace Bubby.  My heart aches without you.


Students Must Get Bored Without Toys

For those unaware, I have been on occasion teaching a class or two at a local university that is also my alma mater (I guess I've officially been accepted as faculty because lo and behold I've even been listed on their website).  I had some business to take care of at school yesterday so after my day job, I picked Lil Bit up from her grandparents' house and we headed to school.  She was eager to see where I taught as she understood I was a teacher of big kids.  (She has made her own declaration that she wants to one day be a teacher, but a teacher of small kids and not big kids).

We walked over to the new Art Building where I hold class and looked at the classroom...a large room with stadium style desk seating and a large white board and projector screen at the front of the room.  We walked in and she looked around; I could see the disappointment on her face.  She had formed her opinion of the room and that was that, she was ready to go.

Later that evening as we were preparing for bed she asked me, "where do they put the toys?"  I asked her what toys she was talking about and she clarified that she was asking about the toys for my classroom, inquiring, "don't the big kids get bored?"  I laughed, of course they do...that's why they play on their phones half the class.  I mentally took a step back and looked at my classroom through the eyes of a four year old whose experience with school was preschool, a place where there isn't an inch of space not covered in a colorful and fun manner.  I told her that my kids didn't get toys in school...she couldn't hide the unmistakable expression of sympathy on her face.  She promptly spoke up and said, "I'll sell you some of my toys so the big kids can have something play with at school."  I again had to laugh, it was such a sincere and kind thought (and have I not already paid for those toys?). I of course told her it was a good idea and she should tell me which toys I could buy.  She pondered and decided she couldn't really part with many of them and said, "I can sell you one toy and the big kids can share!"  In the end though, she decided she couldn't part, just yet, with any of her toys and the big kids will just have to be bored...but I have always heard it is supposed to be the thought that counts.



A week ago this time (December 3, 2014) I was coming home early from having just been laid off from work.  It was the first time in a long time I found myself unemployed and without a plan.  It was/is terrifying and I've had panic attacks every night.  I tried to keep a routine to prevent myself from falling into a nasty spiraling depression.  That's not to say I wasn't depressed because I certainly was.  I was really depressed but I know I get worse so I did whatever I had to to stay out of it.  As I'm a bit of a workaholic by nature (it only stems from guilt from sitting idle or feeling like I'm not being productive), I gave myself projects.  A few of them were things I was working on anyway, like sending Christmas cards.  Others were things I planned to do but stepped it up a notch.  I even volunteered at Lil Bit's school.  I also followed up leads from people about job openings.  Let me take a side bar here to tell you how amazing people are...I give mankind a bad rap but there were/are people coming out of the wood work to help me.  People I haven't talked to in ages reached out to me to offer whatever they could; job postings, hugs, advice, whatever....I was truly amazed at how kind those close to me and even far away could be.  I would hug each and every person if I could, from the person that says, "sucky news" to the person that pretty much did most of the leg work to help me find a new job.  So thank you, any of you that read this...you will honestly never know how much it all meant to me.

A week later, things are looking way up.  Silver linings are sparkling like never before.  This time off allowed me to spend time with my little one; to sew her a dress she's been asking for; I have in fact finished most of the Christmas cards; and my ugly Christmas sweater is mostly done.  But even more great news is that I received a very decent job offer today from a former employer that has asked me to return in the past.  Not being ready to leave the company I had been working at I declined 2 offers from the New Place within the last 3 years.  New Place found out about my termination and extended the previous offer to me (when it seems the could have very well cheated me, they didn't).  So I'm excited to say that I am back in business.  Even better news is that I can continue to take the rest of the year off.  I might add that the only real great thing about being unemployed is the free time.  Seems I get a little of both worlds without the panic attacks.

Now, if you are wondering about the dress...well, Lil Bit has been wanting a wedding dress to play in...so here it is!

Front with veil

Back with veil


20 Years Ago Today

Twenty years ago today I said good-bye to my father for the last time.  Officially, he will have passed away on July 24, 1994 just before one o'clock in the morning.  I said my final farewell the evening before in a sterile hospital room filled with family, no privacy for the matter.  I whispered "good bye"; I gave him a kiss on his lips.  He never responded.  I promptly walked out of the room and stood against the wall until I could no longer stand before sliding down the wall while crying.  A nurse passed by me and made some exclamation along the lines of "poor girl".  She asked me if I wanted a Popsicle.  I have spent many years wondering when my last real good-bye was, the responsive one anyway.  I do not even remember how many days my dad was comatose, but that last real good-bye would have been just before the coma.  I do not remember many of the gritty details anymore; it is probably a good thing.  The only good bye I have to remember was a kiss upon unresponsive lips. 

It was twenty years ago today that my Aunt Jo Ann offered to take my brothers and I to her home for food and rest.  I do not know why I said yes, but I did.  She took my older brother home while my younger brother and I went to her house.  That house...it has seen more tragedy than a home should.  I slept in my cousin Sara's room with her.  Sara, who passed away in that house in January this year, was so kind to me.  My junior by 9 years or so, she refused to let me sleep on the floor.  I would find out that following morning that my dad was gone as my aunt sat next to me on her sofa while gingerly giving me the news.  To be honest, I had known before she even said the words.

It was twenty years ago today that I realized my life would be different.  I had known this time was coming.  This death was from an illness that took its time and crept into my dad for years.  He was 39 when he died.  I knew it was coming.  Nevertheless, until the moment I kissed my dad good-bye, that very last time...it was just another day to get through.  That last time I left the hospital was when I knew things would never be the same.

It was twenty years ago today I said good-bye to him.  I do not know what my life would be like if he were still here.  There is no point in imagining it.  Regardless, it has been twenty years of missing the best parts about my dad.  It has been twenty years of consoling others while saying, "the pain never goes away, but it does get easier" because I actually know.  It has been twenty years of life moving on without him.