Friday, March 18, 2011

A Day In The Life...

Ever wonder what one of my “typical” days looks like (if there is such a thing)? Well, probably you haven’t, but I’m going to tell you anyway. It’s just part of my recent commitment to blogging more often. So bear with me.

Let’s see… Right now I am house-sitting, dog-sitting and elderly-father-sitting for a friend of mine. My older kids are on spring break at the moment and out on road trips, anyway, and my younger son has been in the hospital (one of those things I can’t talk about). So, there’s no one at my house except the cats and dogs. Which, of course, I have to also make sure are cared for even though I’m doing all this “sitting” (why do we use that word when it is so misleading, sounding so easy?), so I do a lot of driving back and forth between our house and the house where I’m staying. With me so far?

So, I was up until about 3 a.m. last night (well, technically this morning I suppose) doing laundry and handling some matters regarding my son. This morning I rose all bright and cheery (total lie, but that’s okay – we’ll just keep it between us) at 7:30 to make sure that my friend’s father – we’ll call him “Mr. B” – took his morning meds. After that I actually tried to go back to bed for about half an hour because I was really tired, but my friend’s dogs were having none of that nonsense. So I just decided to hit the ground running and take on the day.

Let the dogs out to do their thing while I ran another load of laundry and washed last night’s dishes. Then I hopped in the car and drove over to my own house to do yard work that one of my kids was supposed to do before taking off on his road trip. Do I sound bitter there? If not, I should, so try to “hear” it that way. Because I was rather irritated. Oh, he also didn’t take out the trash. But I digress…

Over at the ol’ homestead I fed and watered our own pets and generally cleaned up the joint. Then I had to spend some time on the phone making doctor’s appointments and talking to the insurance adjuster about our roof. Oh, and this was fun – I had to return a call to CPS (Child Protective Services) regarding a matter with one of the kids, again being something I can’t talk about. I just LOVE dealing with CPS. But it goes with the territory and this worker has actually been pretty nice and of at least average intelligence, so it hasn’t been so bad this time around.

Then, while at home, I packed up some items that I’d sold from my online booth (Rummage Rampage at – don’t forget to visit!) and then ever-so-smoothly dropped the whole stack of them all over the driveway when I tried to be super cool and carry them all out to the car at once. But what’s a day without the neighbors laughing at ya, right? Headed to the post office after that, and on the way received a phone call from one of my “strays”, who now lives in Vegas. She’s in town, needs to talk, wants to see me. Okay. I will make time, and I’ll call her back, I say.

Headed for the Post Office. Line out the door, as usual. One guy working the counter. Ah, well, I am nothing if not patient (which means sometimes I really am nothing – lol). I’d wanted to use the machine to pay for my postage, but it was down, out of paper. So I stood in line with my 20-foot tall stack of boxes. Well, it was more like three feet tall, but when I’m crabby I like to exaggerate and get sympathy. Heh.

Left the Post Office and headed to the Pharmacy to pick up some prescriptions. Also to talk to Allen – my favorite pharmacist because he’s always straight with me, even more than the doctors are – about some new meds they’re putting my kid on that are kind of hardcore. Allen tells me these really are the best ones for the condition in question, so I am satisfied with that. Pick ‘em up, do a little grocery shopping for dinner (because my pharmacy is in the grocery store), and head out to the parking lot to return that phone call to my Vegas stray. ‘Cause I can’t (and shouldn’t, anyway) talk on the cell phone while I’m driving. By the way, I don’t normally even have a cell phone – this one is borrowed because my friend whose house/dogs/dad I’m sitting wanted me to have one while I was staying at her place.

Talk to my Vegas stray for about twenty minutes and make arrangements to visit with her tomorrow at a Starbucks. Meanwhile, in my head, I just hope I can really afford Starbucks. LOL. But I’m not going to be at my house and I don’t want her coming to where I’m staying because the four dogs here are relentless barkers at strangers, so Starbucks it is. Count the change in the ashtray. Looks like I’m good as long as I get the smallest drink they sell. Ha ha.

Headed back to the house/dogs/dad sitting locale. It’s about 4:30 by now, and I have until 5:30 to make dinner for “Mr. B” and carry it across the street to him. After that I will have to leave to visit my son at the hospital, so I’m kind of on a time crunch. “Mr. B” is a very nice old man, so he’ll want to talk for a minute and ask how my son is doing. Better make that dinner ready by 5:15.

Honey mustard glazed pork tenderloin, garlic and parsley red potatoes, and mixed vegetables with cheese sauce. In 45 minutes – yep, I’m good. Make a plate for “Mr. B”, cover it in foil, and head across the street. He chats for a minute, which I don’t mind, then asks if I will pick up a newspaper for him. Add that to the “to do” list… I tell him I will do that, but probably won’t be back until late, so I will leave it on his doorstep – I promise.

I could really use a shower today, but that’s not in the cards.

Throw on a clean shirt so I won’t smell like someone who’s been sweating over an oven in the kitchen, and head off to the hospital. It’s waaaay across town and traffic is a nightmare. But that’s okay. I am nothing if not patient…

Visit my son. He seems to be improving, so that is good. Talk to a lot of the other kids there who don’t get visitors often (many are in CPS custody and only see their case workers – sad). The kids there flock to me like – well, I don’t know what like, but they flock to me. A few were calling me “mom” by the second night I visited. They are so starved for attention, so sad. Just my taking a moment to look at a picture they drew or praise a poem they wrote gets them all excited. Wish I could take them all home, but of course I can’t. I do give them all my blog address, though, so they can keep in touch with me in the future if they choose to, and if they need anything that I can help with (hate ending a sentence with a preposition, but whatever). Next, I have a talk with my son’s nurse, and I’m off.

It’s 7:15 p.m. by now. I haven’t eaten or showered still today, but that’s okay because eating and showering is for sissies. I head back to my friend’s house, where at 7:30 it is time to check in with “Mr. B” and make sure he takes his medication on time. Of course he asks about my son, bless his heart. Then I head back across the street, feed and water my friend’s dogs, and warm up some of the leftovers from the dinner I made earlier (okay, guess I am a sissy, because I did finally decide I had to eat). I sit down at the computer to eat my late dinner and check e-mails. Several to answer, several I have to put off because they’re inquiring about items that I don’t have here with me, so I make a note to myself that I will find the answers to their questions when I’m back at my own house tomorrow. Add it to the huge list of things to do when I’m go back there. Then I get to work: Do some online research on a few things I brought here to this house with me, things that I’ve marked, “What the heck is this?” I find a few answers, set the rest aside to work on some more later. Type up a couple of descriptions for items to list in my booth, tweet about a few things in my booth (find me on Twitter @thefreelancemom – yay!), answer a few more e-mails that have come in, upload some ready items to my booth, “update” my booth (that’s what you have to do on whenever you’ve added new stuff). In-between all this, I can’t resist the urge, of course, to check my Facebook a couple of times and throw out a smart remark here and there. Ha ha. Then I make a post to my Facebook fan page for my booth, just so I can make sure everyone knows I’m still here because I haven’t been saying much there lately. Go back and look at my booth, realize a couple of items didn’t come out quite right when I uploaded them, so I spend about 20 minutes trying to figure out how to fix that problem. Get it fixed. My back hurts from sitting in this chair. Time to get away from the desk for a while.

I’ve brought a few boxes with me of stuff that was donated. Take a little while to sort through the stuff. I will be dropping of whatever is suitable at the Tumbleweed Drop-In Center in the morning (theoretically – if no crises arise). The rest I sort into “I can sell this in my booth” or “Goodwill” (which doesn’t mean it’s something bad, just might be a clothing item that missing the size tag or something). Naturally I make a mess while sorting all this stuff out, so then I have to clean the mess. ‘Cause this ain’t my house. LOL.

By this point it’s almost 11 p.m. I call and check on each of my road-trippin’ college kids, because you know they’re not going to call and check in with Mom. And Mom is always going to worry, even if they are “grown up”.

Once they’ve been confirmed as safe and either relatively sober or using a designated driver, I take a little “me time”. Fifteen minutes of doing this “mindfulness” meditation thing that my therapist has me doing (you didn’t think I lived this life and wasn’t in therapy, did you?). At first I thought it sounded silly, but I have a lot of respect for my therapist and I try to be open-minded, so I gave it a shot. Been doing it for about a month now, and I actually find it really helpful. I was surprised at that. It helps me get focused and not me a scatter-brain so much. So, once I’ve done that for fifteen minutes and now I’m feeling all focused and everything…

Back to work. Oh, but wait – not yet because my mother is calling. I didn’t call her after visiting my son at the hospital, and she wants an update about him. My bad. I fill her in, and then get to work. More work on my booth items, which you don’t want to read about in detail. After that, I have some correspondence to catch up with; I’ve been trying to update the info on my resource list for homeless and at-risk youth, so I’ve been communicating with people at the different agencies that I mention there, making sure all the info is still accurate (it isn’t, which is why I haven’t re-posted it in a while).

At midnight, I tell myself I’m going to bed early (midnight is early for me). But then, as soon as I’m in my jammies, the phone starts ringing. My foster son wants to know if I can help him some more with his FAFSA when he gets back (that’s college financial aid stuff, for you who aren’t familiar). Of course I can, I tell him. I don’t feel like being crabby at him, so I don’t mention that he could just have easily asked me that question earlier than midnight. Next call is from one of my strays who now lives in California. She wants an update on my son, also. She gets off work really late, so I can’t get mad at her for calling at this hour. Besides, she probably figured I’d be up anyway. I usually am.

Now it’s almost 2 a.m. and I’m having a hard time falling asleep. I read for a while. Then I try again to doze off, but my friends dogs love me way too much and decide they must fight over positions in the bed with me. Once I’m comfortable, the last of the dogs wanders in and needs help up on the bed because he’s old and can’t make the jump. I get myself up again, lift him onto the bed, and get comfy again. Except I forgot to call in refills on my own medications (having been focused on my kids’ prescriptions). So I get up and make that call while I’m thinking about it; otherwise I will forget. Oh, and I’d better take out the trash or the dogs will dig into it in the middle of the night. Do that. Hear the phone ring again and ignore it. If it’s an emergency they’ll stalker-call me. If it doesn’t ring again within the next few minutes, then it can wait until morning.

So again, having told myself I’d go to bed “early”, I hit the sack and start to doze at three in the morning. Will need to be up at 7:30 to take care of meds for “Mr. B”. Also let the dogs out so they don’t pee everywhere (my friend has the coolest mop, but I don’t love it that much). I’m also determined to get this stuff over to Tumbleweed tomorrow in addition to all the other errands I have to run and work I have to do and making my daily visit to my son, so I’ll need an early start. And so, the cycle continues…

I just hope that tomorrow I get time for a shower. For everyone’s sake.

And that, folks, was my day today. Fairly typical. Different issues, different crises and different things to do on different days, but the struggle for shower time and a decent night’s sleep is pretty much the norm. In any case, here’s a sample of my life for y’all. And I’ve kept my commitment to blogging more often. Yay!

(P.S. – For the record, I actually typed this yesterday and just got it posted today. Not that it matters, I’m just weird about making sure I’m accurate. LOL.)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Gonna Try To Be Better At This!

I should blog more often, I know. I’m not a very experienced or savvy “blogger”, so I often look around for tips and advice on how to be better at it (without making a whole lifestyle out of it – ‘cause I don’t have time for that). Everywhere it says to blog often, blog a lot, etc. This shouldn’t be difficult for me because I do think my life is pretty interesting, but there’s one big problem: Nobody ever wants me blogging about them!

I have lots of kids who have come in and out of my life and my home. A good number of them are grown now, and some are still here, living at home while attending college or high school; all of them are always considered part of the family. Well, most of them. There have been a few over the years, as would be expected, with whom I’ve had to cut ties. But those are far in the minority.

Anyway, not everyone ends up being what might be considered a “success story” (yet… there is always to keep learning, growing and evolving, so I don’t give up on them just because they’re grown). Those young people don’t necessarily want me blabbing to the whole world about them. Some really are “success stories”, but they don’t want me to talk about their pasts. Sigh…

Drug problems, family issues, criminal activities, etc. are all things that they want to leave far behind them, in the past and buried there. And that is understandable. There is always the concern that someone who knows me in “real life” will read my blog, and even if I don’t use any names, they will be identified simply because people who know me – and probably know them – will figure out exactly whom I’m talking about.

I am so proud of one because he used to be “this” and now he’s “that”. On another day I might feel like talking about the difficulties I’m experiencing with “X Kid” due to mental health issues, but “X Kid” wants all that kept on the “down low”. Or I might be upset because “Miss So-And-So” was dishonest with me and caused a lot of problems for our family. But, even though I may be unhappy with her, it isn’t fair to put “Miss So-And-So’s” issues out all over the internet for the world to see.

So, it’s a bit of a dilemma, but I’m thinking about ways to possibly talk about my experiences with “my” kids in some sort of discreet way. I don’t know what ideas I will come up with (I’m open to suggestions!), but we’ll see.

It occurred to me, though, that perhaps I don’t have to talk about the kids all the time, or about projects I’m working on. Especially since I’m not always working on a project, and in-between them, I can’t always talk about the kids without running into the aforementioned issues. I’m thinking, then, that I’ll broaden my proverbial horizons here. Maybe talk about myself a little more (something I should probably get a bit more comfortable with if I’m supposed to be blogging about my life), or tell you all a bit about my past and how it led me to where I am today, or even better – where I’d like to be in the future. Perhaps I should occasionally share some tips on how to live “on the cheap”, because I’m a pro at that! Maybe even – on a sort of related note – I could share some of my recipes for feeding a lot of mouths without a lot of money. See? Ideas are coming to me even as I type! : )

In any case, I’m committing to blogging more often. Making this a more interesting place for y’all to visit. There, I said it – now I just have to do it!