a fresh start

Another school year is upon us and we are all trying to settle in to the new normal.  With both of the younger boys starting HS, I was determined to impose structure to the weekdays/evenings. To that end, the boys are expected to be home each night for supper and both TV and computers screens are off unless required for school work.

After the first day, I diligently scanned class syllabi and filed away those that I would likely want to refer to again. I made a list of additional school supplies needed with a plan to pick them up this weekend.  I am determined to keep all 3 boys on track, checking in each evening about what is being presented in classes, related homework, and what assignments were looming on the horizon.

E’s schedule underwent some changes after his case manager determined that the skills course that she originally placed in him was not a good fit. The stress resulting from all of the schedule changes and the transition to the HS environment finally erupted on Thursday evening.  I rode the wave of yelling and insults with deep breathing and a strong Brandy 7. The night ended well with E and I having some 1:1 time on the couch before he went up to bed.

Youngest one got his first taste of the rigors of HS sports. He plays on the freshman FB team and had his first game on Thursday afternoon. He plays offense and defense in addition to being the team’s kicker, which translates to minimal opportunity to sit on the sidelines and catch his breath. After a dinner of Subway and reading a short story for English, he put himself to bed at 8:45pm.

Oldest is embracing his final year of HS in his usual happy go lucky style. The part-time job continues and his goal is to purchase a truck before the snow flies. The college mail keeps coming and we told him that he seriously needs to consider what his next move will be. I still need to schedule an appointment for him to have his senior portrait taken. The only blip on the radar was a missed orthodontist appointment, my fault for not having placed it on the calendar.

I am enjoying my new job and recently was able to swap a clinic that was 30 miles away to one that is 8 blocks from my house.  Covering 3 clinics, managing the needs of 130 patients and working with 3 different clinical teams is challenging, but void of monotony. My love of organizational systems has paid off and made the job manageable.

With the crisp days of fall upon us, I am content. Tom and two of the boys are taking in the Renaissance festival today.  I plan on doing some grocery shopping and baking a loaf of 5 minute artisan bread. Later, we will celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary by taking in the Jazz festival on Selby avenue.  I think I’ll surprise Tom by suggesting that we take the motorcycle.  That might be the only gift that he needs.


sick and tired

Shit where do I begin tonight.  I must have a glass of wine before I spew my frustration about everything from my dad’s care to my son to my looming job change.  Ok, that’s better. My son E asked me just now, “Why do you like alcohol so much?  I had to bite my tongue so I wouldn’t tell him that it makes being his parent on a night like tonight just a little bit easier.

I went to see my dad at the nursing home on Friday night. He was leaning to one side in his wheelchair.  I went to boost him to the other side and noticed that his pants had a 5 inch vertical rip which started at the waistband. I found another pair with an identical rip in his dirty clothes hamper. When his closet revealed no more clean pants, I was off to Walmart to shop. When I got back to the nursing home an hour later with 3 pairs of pants and two shirts, dad was safely in bed. I don’t know if I am more pissed at the stupidity of the nursing assistants for ripping his pants in the first place, or their carelessness at not letting someone know the pants were ripped.

E bought a used bike from a friend. After the purchase was complete, he set out to dismantle the bike and put on different parts. Within 2 days the bike was no longer operational. Shocking, I know.  The two days that the bike was working were pure joy.  E was virtually never home. He left home right after school and came back at 8 or 9pm. I told Tom last evening that it would be wise on our part to bring the bike in for repair. After all, money spent on bike parts is well spent when it results in a peaceful house.  Well the bike was not ready today as promised and as a result, E went off.  The irony is that I tried to attend my adoption support group tonight, but missed it due to a location change of which I was unaware. Hence the glass of wine, though a poor substitute for a room full of parents who get it.

Now on to the job.  I accepted a position as a social worker with a local provider of kidney dialysis. It will be great experience and the job itself can be considered “clinical” experience which I need for my licensure.  The problem is that I keep having second thoughts about leaving my current position. I realize my current position leaves no room for advancement as a social worker.  It makes no sense for me to be paying on student loans while in a position that does not utilize my masters degree. That being said, it is awfully easy to find the great things about a job as you leaving it.  When I saw the posting fory position, I wanted to cry.

Well I got the venting out of the way. I am sitting on my front porch with an empty wine glass and a cool breeze blowing on me.  Perfect place to watch an episode of Ally McBeal on Netflix.  Ending the night with laughter will be good.

trying not to freak out

As we get further into the month of August, I have spent more time thinking about what will be on my plate starting September.  I have spent a good deal of time this summer reviewing the research literature on the topic that I have chosen for my clinical research paper.  I have read at least 100 research abstracts of which only about 8 relate enough to my topic to be of use to me.

I have completed my orientation at the hospital where I will do my clinical internship.  Beginning the week of August 29th I will spend two  days per week working on the adult behavioral health unit. I am excited for the challenges that await me, but also nervous as I will be facilitating group therapy sessions for the first time in my career.  My husband offered reassurance by saying  “They (patients) don’t know what you don’t know.” So I will “Fake it until I make it.”  God help my poor guinea pigs.

The other 3 days of the week will be spent at my current job.  My boss is allowing me to go from  32 hours per week down to roughly 20 hours per week.  This has been a great blessing as I know other students who have been  forced to quit their jobs and take part-time positions that pay a lot less.

I have been saving money like crazy this summer in an effort to manage any unforeseen expenses that arise while my income is significantly diminished.  I know the best laid plans can come back to bite us in the ass, but I’m choosing to be optimistic.

Despite the tremendous amount of work that I will need to accomplish between Sept and May, I am excited to begin the semester. My first pass through the bookstore always makes me giddy.  I will also be purchasing a new laptop. My refurbished one was $250 and has served me well during the first two years of my degree program, however, I need something more reliable and with a battery life to insure that I have access at all times to my research.

So I will wind down the summer by reading a couple more books just for fun and enjoying my free time while I can.  I will thank my husband in advance for all of the work that he will be doing while I play the slacker wife for one more year.  Come May I will be gearing up for the job hunt and doing my share of the dishes again.

the notice

The notice came in the mail on Thursday notifying Tom that as of July 1st, he will be laid off.  I think that it would have been more appropriate to issue the notices to the MN legislators.  They are the persons who spent their spring session debating the merits of a constitutional ban on same sex marriages instead of coming up with a budget that would meet the criteria set by the Governor.

Tom’s job may be deemed essential by virtue of the fact that he works in a correctional facility.  It is however, conceivable that only corrections officers and food service staff would be called back.  Time will tell. Hell maybe our elected officials will actually get their shit together between now and June 30th and come up with a budget compromise.

On the bright side is the fact that due to Tom’s length of employment, we will continue to have the employer  portion of our health insurance paid by the state.  This fact will make it easier to get through the shut down without dipping into our savings.  Also,  April and May were good leasing months at the memory care where I work which earned me very healthy commissions.  I had hoped to use that money to off set my increased tuition costs for this fall, but I may need to rethink that plan.

Despite Tom’s precarious work status our  vacation planned for the last week in June will go on as scheduled.  We would lose out on a 50% deposit not to mention a great time if we  backed out now.  I also promised the kids a summer pass at the nearby water park.  I will follow through on this expense because having my kids spend the summer away from my house is priceless.

So as summer begins I will attempt to retain my sanity by reciting the serenity prayer and  renewing my yoga practice.  I may even go back to the meditation that I dabbled in earlier this year.  Namaste.

P. S. Since I have never been too proud to admit that a good drink provides its own kind of Zen, I found this fabulous summer drink recipe on a blog that I follow. I had never heard of “Dry” brand soda before.  According to the manufacturer’s website, it is available at Mississippi Market. The fixings for this drink will be on my packing list for the week at the lake for sure.

2 oz Vodka
1 oz Grand Marnier
.25 to .5 oz lemon juice
Sugar syrup to taste if desired
Dry Blood Orange Soda

Mix the vodka, Grand Marnier and lemon juice on ice, then top with Dry Blood Orange Soda. You might get away with an orange flavored soda water in this drink but the flavor might not come through as well. Lots of ice! Be prepared, one of these drinks will not be enough. Enjoy!


I have been unable to work my super part-time gig at the nursing home for the past two weeks due to census issues at the home.  When too many beds are open my hours get cut.  As much as I enjoy the time off I am not too crazy about the loss of income.  With Christmas just around the corner the timing could not be worse.  The inconvenience of decreased income in no way compares to what others are facing this holiday season with the unemployment rate hovering near 10%.

This time of year is always bittersweet for me. It is a time that I become painfully aware of what others lack in the way of basic necessities and general comforts that I take so much for granted.  In a plea for holiday donations, the St. Paul newspaper highlights families in need. It is always heartwarming to read the follow up story that reports on the many contributions and how each families wishes were granted, yet, I know that there are so many more that go unmet .

I have been giving thought over the last week as to how our family can make a difference for others this Christmas.  Some things that we have done in the past include buying a Christmas tree and a Target gift certificate and leaving them anonymously outside the home of a coworker of Tom’s whose family was experiencing financial setbacks.  A couple of years ago we provided the money to purchase a goat for a family living in Africa. The goats milk would provide ongoing income for the family.  We also participated in the shoe box campaign through the agency Samaritan’s Purse.

I realize that it is already pretty late in the game to be thinking of this only now.  My sister-in-law has already purchased gifts for a family that they “adopted” through their church. So as the days become shorter and colder I will cocoon myself in the warm blanket that is my home and continue to ponder how I can best make this season more meaningful for another family.


The job didn’t pan out. The company decided not to fill the position.  It would be pointless to feign disappointment as everyone knows I’d rather cut of my right arm than work full time.  Better luck to me next time?  Not!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

job update

I had my interview last week at BCBS.  I left the interview thinking there was no way that I would take the job if offered to me.  Today I am not so sure.  I did not have a great day at work Friday.  I can’t bear think of spending two more years doing what I am currently doing. So I have begun to weigh the pros/cons.

The downside is that there would be a fair amount of travel throughout Washington, Anoka and Chisago counties. I hate commuting and have always gone out of my way to avoid applying for jobs located more than 15 minutes from home.  There is also the fact that it is 40 hours per week.  I have not worked full time since Patrick was born.  I know that once I begin FT work it would be difficult to go back to PT.  I also need to complete a 20 hour per week internship during my third year of school. It would be a huge challenge to try and make that type of schedule work while also completing my research thesis.

The upside is that I would office out of my home.  That would allow for flexibility around school schedules, orthodontist appts etc.  The money is also considerably better. I could justify a GPS system for my van.

At the time of my interview, the Supervisor was not yet sure if she would do second interview or hire based on the initial interview. As much as I dislike job interviews, in this particular situation I think it would be helpful in getting a clearer picture of the day to day aspects of the job.  Right now I’m waiting for either an offer from HR or a invitation for a second interview.  After all of this angst it would be ironic if the call I received was a “thanks for applying but” call. Time will tell.