Category Archives: family

Nerding it up instead of gawking it up: A Settlers of Catan weekend

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While others in Bend this weekend were running into and posing with Jack Black or Beck, or seeing The Shins, Tenacious D, and/or Beck in concert, my decidedly uncool (and broke) family were nerding it up playing Settlers of Catan. We even warmed up to the new game by watching Wil Wheaton play it first.

Ahhhh… Quiet House. And up all night.

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It’s been 6 weeks since the kids have been away for a full weekend. And we’re enjoying every minute of the quiet.

I was feeling quite sleep deprived all day, and after muddling through the day of consulting to-do’s, I finally crashed around 6p for several hours. Of course, now I’ve totally messed up my schedule because it’s 3 a.m. and I’m barely tired. Good thing tomorrow is Saturday. Although I do have a few things I’d like to accomplish, which might require getting out of bed before noon. Since I’m up late, I thought I’d share this poem from the Knopf Poems After Midnight collection I just got for Kindle from the library:

A Remedy for Insomnia

Not sheep coming down the hills,
not cracks on the ceiling—
count the ones you loved,
the former tenants of dreams
who would keep you awake,
once meant the world to you,
rocked you in their arms,
those who loved you . . .
You will fall asleep, by dawn, in tears.

—Vera Pavlova

An ungodly hour

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This morning, I got up at an ungodly hour for a Saturday {8 a.m.} and went with the kids and the hub down to a park to watch the kids’ mom finish running a 10k{One of those strange things blended families do.} The kids then went off to spend time with their mom until tomorrow.

I came back to the house for a little while, prepped for an ATV interview, then went to the station to meet my co-host and our out-of-town friend in order to record the interview. We had fun with that, and then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening having a leisurely lunch at Broken Top Bottle Shop and walking along Benham Falls. It was a good time.

It tired me out, though. Good thing the house is quiet tonight: I might just have to get up at an ungodly hour tomorrow morning to join the girls for breakfast. {Rough life.}

By the way, I looked for the Super Moon tonight and by the time it got up over the trees behind my house, it was unimpressive. I’ve seen much bigger and more impressive Harvest Moons before. Maybe you had to catch it right at the horizon?!

Trash kites

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We made kites: trash bags on strings. We ran, slipped, the knees of our dungarees all grass stained, we got up, ran, choked ourselves half to death with laughter, but we found speed, and our trash kites soared. We flew for an hour or so, until daylight fully buried itself into night and all the light sank back, except for the stars and a toenail clipping of moon, and the kites disappeared, black on blackness. That’s when we let go, and our trash kites really soared—up and away, heavenward, like prayers, our hearts chasing after.

~ from We the Animals, Justin Torres

Going to kid things – still a novelty

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We went to my oldest stepdaughter’s first choir concert tonight. It was a concert for friends and family to show off what they’d be doing for a competition in a few weeks. She looked like she was having fun, even though I know she wasn’t feeling that hot. It’s so nice to be able to go to kid things! Living in another town, we missed most of them over the years. {I’m sure the novelty will wear off.}

But I’m looking forward more to her play, Harvey, where she has the role of Nurse Kelly. We watched the movie a few days ago (on YouTube, in 7 parts, since it was the only place we could find to watch it online), so now I have a decent idea of what to expect.

Thus ends my nerdy step-mom talk for the night.

Big bad unemployment

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I guess it’s OK to talk about this now: Some weeks ago, I lost my consulting job of 5.5 years, when I was laid off due to “lack of work.” I worked for my brother: He gave me one week of notice. The company had been struggling for some time.

I haven’t said anything about it outright on this blog, because for a while we didn’t want the kids to know. We didn’t want them to worry that they had just moved here and that we wouldn’t be able to take care of them. It was a difficult secret to keep. Even now, I’m worried that I’ll freak somebody out by saying the wrong thing.

It was very upsetting, as the timing could hardly have been worse, with my hubby having been unemployed for a couple of years now, and three children moving in. Let’s just say these past couple of months have been the most stressful in probably the last 7 or 8 years. I have so much riding on my shoulders.

In a lot of ways, it’s a good thing. It will probably be a great thing. I was in a job situation that was not right for me, and had not been for quite some time. I had tried to find other work, especially last year. But several promising opportunities came very close to coming through, only to  fall through at the last minute. One in particular crashed horribly to the ground only hours after I was promised the job. That, and some negative experiences with work, really took a toll on my confidence in 2011.

And now I’m in a situation, where, like so many other people, I’m looking, under duress. Our house is under water, we’re stuck at a relatively high interest rate. We have no savings, except for some quickly dwindling vacation pay. We have lots of extra expenses. We are able to get unemployment, which works out to be about $1000 less per month than we were previously bringing in. Before tax. And we were already struggling. We also lost our insurance, but were able to get some short-term major medical, and prescriptions aren’t too much more than they were with insurance. Fortunately, the kids have insurance through Oregon Health Plan. And we are able see the doctor if we need to – there’s a medical clinic in town that has a sliding scale. I’m able to see the vegan Nurse Practitioner I wanted to see for $11 less than the copay I paid when I was insured!

Of course, this is a great time to reassess, to figure out what type of work I can really be happy doing. To see which skills I want to ramp up, and maybe which ones to toss. To try new things. So many directions to go! Should I concentrate on our design and IT consulting business? Should I spend all my free time networking, emailing resumes, trolling the IT job boards? Or should I be concentrating on new skill-sets like WordPress dev and Ruby on Rails? How will I keep my SharePoint skills sharp with little access to dev servers or software? How can I leverage my nonprofit skills? Could I start a vegan-based business or nonprofit? Will I get desperate and take a job that doesn’t seem like a good fit experience-wise or financially? What happens when we can’t pay the mortgage?

A lot of my time these past few weeks has been wrapped up in contingency planning. Swallowing pride, asking for help. The schools and the community have really stepped up, and for that we are very grateful. There are a lot of caring people here, and some good social programs. Relatives on the kids’ side have also helped where they can. Just today, we finally got into a mortgage assistance program that was a huge pain in the ass to apply for. At least we are in enough that we’ll be able to submit the paperwork. I’m sure it will take a few months to come through, if it does at all, and hopefully I’ll have a job by then. But we have to think ahead. What if?

Luckily, a lot of the shock of losing my job and of suddenly becoming a full-time parent has worn off by now. Most days I’m able to think clearly. To appreciate what I have. To plan ahead as much as is possible. I’m so grateful that we were able to get a deal at the community center. Yoga is saving my sanity right now. It’s my major stress relief  and what is keeping my lungs strong and healthy. I’m going to go check the schedule for tomorrow.

Happy Dead Mother’s Day 2012

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Mom and Grandma

Margaret Elizabeth {Marsh} Troyer, with Elizabeth Marsh

Today was Happy Dead Mother’s Day. Sounds morose, but for years that’s what I’ve called the anniversary of my mom’s death. It helps me get through the day (the week, the month) to be a little silly about something that still makes me so sad after 21 years. Pretty soon, I’ll be as old as she was. Is?

She’s a little fuzzy now, but I’ll always miss her. I’m sure she would have loved my family.