Thursday, July 31, 2014

Getting Ready..

Not much happening this week.  Well, not much that anyone else would be interested in.  I've been spending the week with the boys having fun and getting them ready for school next week.
Monday, we went to get haircuts and new shoes.  (Zach and JJ have bigger feet than I do!  That's really saying something.)  Tuesday we went to our last $1 movie up at the mall.  Mr. Peabody and Sherman.  I wasn't expecting much so I was pleasantly surprised.  It was entertaining.

Wednesday was the best!  We headed to Dave and Buster's for 1/2 price Wednesday with some coupons I had.  We spent about 2 hours playing video games and collecting tickets.  And about that long trying to find something worth while to spend the tickets on.  They always love going there.

Today was pretty uneventful.  We went to the grocery store.  We took the walkie talkies this time.  They love that.  We each get a walkie and I send them on missions to find stuff in the store.  They help pick up the items which doesn't take me as long and they have fun all at the same time.  It keeps them occupied and not annoying me or each other.  Tonight, Steven is taking JJ and Zach to some Magic the Gathering tournament somewhere.  It's some card game that they've gotten into.  Have fun!

Tomorrow will be crazy!  We have open house/registration for all 3 kids.  Only 2 different schools this year though.  (Next year it will be 3!)  But they are sort of spread out.  Thankfully the schools are all on the same street!  Zach will be registering for his first year of middle school from 8-10 am.  We will find out his classes and teachers.  We will get him gym clothes and go around the school, making sure he knows where all his classes are.  Hopefully he will get adjusted quickly.

Then we will register Elijah, which is from 8-12.  That shouldn't take too long.  I paid for most stuff online and we already know that school.  The part that will take the longest is all the boys wanting to see their previous year's teachers.  That usually takes all morning. Especially since my kids haven't repeated a teacher yet, that gives us about 12 teacher that are still there that the kids might want to go see.  Whew!

Then we will take a short break for lunch and get JJ back to the middle school to register from 2-4.  It's gonna be some day!  I may need to go to bed early.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Wag More. Bark Less.

I saw this on a bumper sticker this morning as I was driving around getting some items to get the kids ready for school.  I immediately knew that God was sending me a message.  It sounds silly, but it's true.

Dogs bark when they are angry, scared, etc.  They wag their tails when they are happy.  (Mine does it when you say certain words, especially "treat".)  I have a strong tendency, as I'm sure my family will tell you, to bark more than I wag.  I spend a  majority of my time unhappy, mad, upset, etc instead of just happy and enjoying life.  Why? I don't want to.  I know I choose it, but I certainly don't do it consciously.

I have a hard time letting things roll off.  I let them get to me and once I get upset, it takes quite a long time and a lot of effort to get me in a "wagging" mood again.  For example, last night I was reading Mike Rowe's page on Facebook.  (He always writes such interesting items.)  I chose not to read all of it because it was quite long and not a topic that I wanted to spend time on right then.  Steven noticed I was reading it and said something about it.  I told him I wasn't going to finish because I didn't want to read it all.  He then immediately asks, "What's wrong?  You ok?"  Huh?  I answered his question.  I wasn't short with him and I didn't say it sarcastically.  I just answered his question.  But he goes straight for "what's wrong."  That irritated me.  And it lasted all night.  He did it again this morning when he asked me, twice, how my walk with Sparky was.  Why does he have to ask me twice?  I hate that.  So that irritated me as well.

Why do small things like that bother me?  Not sure.  Maybe it's the fact that I have 3 boys around who already ask me an infinite amount of questions and I really don't want to answer more than is absolutely necessary.  It could be any number of things.  But it irked me!  I stayed angered for several hours until Elijah and I started having fun while getting hair cuts.

Anyway, I won't bore you with all the examples and what nots.  Suffice it to say that this is an area I could really use some prayer in.  I want to live life to the full, as Jesus promised.  But I am keeping myself from it for whatever reason.  I pray I figure it out sooner rather than later.  I know my kids already notice it and start their questions with "I hope this doesn't make you mad...."  I don't want them to remember their childhood that way.  Ugh!

Wag more.  Wag more.  Wag more!  Bark MUCH less!

Friday, July 25, 2014


I've had enough!

Instead of being downstairs watching Smackdown, as is the normal routine for a Friday night, my kids are each in their own room, alone.  Wny?  Because I've had enough!  Yesterday was fun, as you saw from my previous post.  But today just went right back to normal.  I don't know if they have just spent too much time together, need more activities to occupy their brains or what.  But my kids are irritating and annoying each other which is, in turn, irritating and annoying me!

They continue to talk to each other with very frustrated, sarcastic tones.  One won't even let the other talk.  He gets so aggravated at everything that he says.  They think of no one but themselves and what other people will do for them.  I just wonder where I went wrong!

I talk to them about putting others before yourself, being aware of your surroundings and what needs to be done, allowing other people to be who they are.  I have one son that gets frustrated whenever anyone is doing anything that annoys HIM.  It's all about HIM!  No one can speak, quote, sing or even breathe if he doesn't like it.  Today they were playing at a neighbor's house and even the mom noticed it!  "He get so annoyed with his brother," she tells me.  "I know.  I don't know if it's a teenager thing or what.  It's been happening a lot lately, " I respond.

How can I get him to respect other people to the point that he will allow them to be them?

Just frustrated tonight.  Sitting in my room watching the Braves while they are doing whatever in their own rooms.  Hopefully just getting a much needed break from each other.  Maybe we can start fresh tomorrow.
After all, tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Much Needed Family Fun Day

Do you ever just get tired of your family?  Your kids?  Your husband?  Does anyone else ever get to a point where it seems as though everything they say and/or do just infuriate you?  Well, I do.  Not on purpose.  I'm not sure what brings it on.  Familiarity breeds contempt, maybe?  Is it possible to be with them so much that they drive you crazy?

Don't get me wrong.  I love my husband and my kids very much.  We do a lot of things all together, probably more than most families.  There are very few things that we do in which the other isn't involved in some way.  Maybe that's part of the problem.  I also just think it's me.  I say I'm a homebody, but I get depressed when I spend TOO much time at home.  Which, as you might assume, makes working from home a bit difficult.  Maybe that's why I felt that, after 13 years of being at home with kids, I needed to get out and get a job outside the home.  But by then I was so used to making my own schedule, that having to adhere to someone else's got me down as well.  I tend to go from one extreme to the other, depending on the day.  There are days I think I should be home and more accessible for my kids.  (I still have an elementary age child who needs me here when he gets home.)  Then there are days when I think that my being away at work would be better.  I haven't fully figured it out yet, but I'm working on it.  I know this though....MY KIDS WILL NEVER BE THIS AGE AGAIN.  They may not NEED me now (Elijah might, but not the others so much), but I need them.  The time will come, all too soon, when they really won't need me, or even want me around.  The time will come, all too soon, when they are off working, playing, with their friends, and I am just an afterthought.  Don't get me wrong, those times NEED to come.  That is what I've been raising them for all this time - to NOT need me.  But, while they still do, I want to be here to enjoy it and get frustrated at it all at the same time.  Does that make sense?

Yesterday was a really BAD one of those days.  Everything everyone said and did got on my nerves.  No one could do anything for themselves.  Mom was needed for everything but no one listened to mom or got upset at her answer.  So much so that I ended up getting the most awful headache that I just couldn't get rid of and spent the entire afternoon and evening alone in my room.  (Well, at least as much as they would let me be alone.)  This morning didn't start off much differently.  I was upset about that because we were supposed to go to the Gwinnett Braves game and I wanted to have a good time, dang it!

So the plan was to leave around 11 to go to a noon game.  I was checking some things on FB around 10:15 and discovered that last night's game had been suspended and they would be playing a double header today.  AWESOME!  I LOVE DOUBLE HEADERS!  But, in order to get there on time, we had to leave right away.  That threw everyone off.  Elijah had to stop playing Xbox (oh no!) and we had to get going ASAP.
In the car, the boys were playing DS and JJ put on his headphones listening to music, so there was no conversation.  That upset me too.  I wanted this to be fun for everyone.

Well, we got to the game just before they started last night's game from the 3rd inning.  We got BOGOF seats (coupon!) right by 1st base.  We saw some of my friends that work there, checked the lineup and standings (we are 10.5 games back.  Probably more now!), got my free Designated Driver drink and sat down to enjoy the game.  Steven was not going to be joining us because of work.  But once he found out it was a double header and that the kids would be participating in an on field game between games, he decided to leave work and join us.

We got KILLED in the first game and also lost the second.  But we had a blast!  We were all cheering and clapping.  We know all the players so we enjoying hollering for them by name.  We saw Chopper, my favorite groundhog, and got to sing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" with Barry in the 6th inning stretch during the 2nd game.  Todd Cunningham even hit a 3 run homer in the Racetrac inning so we get $5 worth of stuff with our ticket stub!  After the game, we raided the stadium for Coke points (Charlie Baumgardner!) and even found some ticket stubs as well.  Now we are that much closer to free World of Coke tickets and have enough stubs to get $100 worth of stuff at Racetrac tomorrow.  (That will be good because we will be yard saling and that can be breakfast and lunch!)

This all sounds silly, I know.  But it was so how I wanted to day to go.  I had prayed this morning during my walk with Sparky that God would help turn things around.  HE DID!  We had a great day and the kids are VERY excited about going to Racetrac tomorrow.  (Yes, we are all strange and cheap!)

Now the kids are playing more Xbox while JJ and Steven are at travel baseball tryouts.  I'm on my way to watch the Atlanta Braves and map out our yard sales for tomorrow.  It's been a great day!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Family Get Together

Sunday night brought about a very nice event.  Steven's 2 brothers (and 1 of their wives) came over to our house and we were able to send some time together.  It was both happy and sad.  We were happy to be together, everyone gets so busy that it gets hard.  But it was sad because we were going through what was left of Steven's parents' things.  A bunch of pictures, photo albums, family portraits, old papers, etc, that have been lining my walls.  We didn't want to do anything with it until everyone had a say in whether or not they wanted to keep it.  We were able to see some pictures we had never seen before and look upon some that we had forgotten about.  It was a nice time.  Even Sparky calmed down and hung out with us.  Afterwards, we went to dinner together.  No kids!  (JJ wasn't happy about that.  I made them a nice dinner, but he still wanted to come.  Nope.  Adults only!)

At dinner, we learned that the estate is just about wrapped up.  That's good.  Steven's brother has done a great job of taking care of all the legal executor stuff.  We've tried to help where we can, but he's taken the brunt of the load.  I know he'll be glad when it's over.

But's over.  There's a certain finality to it. (I've been there before.)  You spend the time getting things ready to close out.  You have a goal, something to work towards.  Then, once you get it closed out and taken care of, there's nothing.  Then you have to learn to live your life without your loved one(s).  That's the hard part.  Thankfully, it gets easier.  One of my sisters-in-law asked me once if it ever gets easier.  I very quickly told her, "No.  You just learn how to deal with it.  But you still miss them every single day."  That is true for me 13 and 10 years later.  I'm sure it will be for them as well.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Lazy, rainy Saturday

Normally a Saturday morning in the Julian home would start early.  Everyone throws on clothes, gulps down breakfast, argues about what movie to bring in the car, and jumps into the van to head out for some yard sales.  See, that's how I make money.  We go to yard sales every Friday and Saturday morning buying other people's "junk" that is really worth more than they know.  I then bring it home and list it on ebay or Amazon and make money off of it.  It's fun.  Today was quite different.

This Saturday morning started with my middle son, Zach (now 11), woke us up at some time, I'm really not sure when, to tell us that the power was out.  (That's why I don't know what time it was. The clock wasn't working.)  I told him I knew that already and to go back to bed.  I laid there listening to the incessant rain falling outside.  At this time, numerous things occurred to me.  1) No yard sales for us today.  That's not terrible but will put a real damper on my workload this week.  2) Travel tryouts are cancelled.  All this time organizing dates, times and location and we don't get to do it anyway.  3) My sister probably won't be coming over today.  She was going to bring her kids and we were going to swim.  Not really swimming weather today.  Also, I have a dog and her family is deathly afraid of dogs so they won't come just to hang out.  (No biggie.  I don't hang out at her house either.)  So, whatever shall we do today?

The answer.....NOTHING!

Very rarely do we have a day where we are at home and don't do much of anything.  We are always working on something, cleaning something, you name it.  But we've decided to do nothing today.  We spent the morning watching American Ninja Warrior.  Steven turned it on and got the rest of us into it.  It's pretty cool and something I could NEVER do.  We got to see the first woman EVER to finish a finals course.  Then we discovered that Dirty Jobs is running a marathon today.  LOVE that show!  We watched an episode, ate some mac and cheese for lunch, and decided it would be a good day to head back to Home Depot to figure out what we wanted in out new bathroom, that should be coming in just over a week.

Since the rain had since subsided and the kids were playing Xbox, we headed out to Home Depot with my glasses (so I can see what we are shopping for), a pen and a notebook so that we make sure we have everything.  It was a very productive trip.  We've narrowed down just about everything.  There are so many things in a bathroom that you just never really think about.  What kind of light/fan do you want over the toilet?  Does it matter?  What kind of toilet?  One that flushes, please.  What should the faucets look like?  What about the shower head and knob?  Should they match?  Will the countertop we like match the floor tile we picked out?  What finish should all the fixtures be?  Ugh!  But I think we have it!

After an hour and a half, we returned home to find the kids STILL playing Xbox (they each get a hour when school's out).  But now they are done so we are sitting here again enjoying Mike Rowe and his endless list of Dirty Jobs.  He just cracks me up!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

God really DOES use everything!

Remember yesterday's post?  (I know some of you do because you asked me to come do it at your house!)  I started cleaning Zach's tornado room and ended up organizing everyone's room and their closets and clothes.  I didn't know why.  I just got motivated to do it after I started.  Well, today I found out why.

A dear friend that I used to work with had a family member experience a house fire this week. The family, with 3 kids, were left with nothing.  Everything was a total loss.  They just so happen to have a son just younger than Elijah.  After cleaning out the closets, I had a bag full of Elijah's old clothes that would fit this little boy who had lost everything.  A horrible tragedy for the family, but God prepared us to help.  I also had the kids go through their toys and they brought out several things to give to this family so the kids could have something to play with.  And this family is being blessed, sometimes by complete strangers, with clothes, toys, toiletries, gift cards, etc.  Just more proof that terrible things still happen, but God can use those things for His glory and work in the midst of them.  God is good, all the time!

So I'm so glad that I cleaned those closets yesterday and was able to help out that family.  God apparently wanted me to as well.  He wants us to help each other when in need.  That is one of the many ways we can show God's love to others in a practical way.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sometimes you are just in the mood..... clean.

I spent most of my day cleaning up my kids' rooms.  They clean themselves on a weekly basis, but never to my satisfaction. (Of course!)  My middle son's room is quite the terror.  It's right next to the stairs so I see it often.  Today, I decided to do something about it.

It started off just as an effort to get everything off the floor and into a specific place.  In order to do that, I had to straighten up his closet.  In order to do his closet, I had to go through his clothes.  In order to do that, I had to finish his laundry so I know what he has.  And so on, and so on, and so on.  So I organized his clothes, both in his closet and in his drawers.  I even organized the ones on top of his closet from his big brother that I'm waiting for him to grow into.  I organized the toys in this closet and in the drawers beside his closet.  I organized his bookshelf and his desk.  After it was all said and done, I was quite proud of myself.  It actually looks as though someone cleaned it.  (That's my biggest problem when the kids do it themselves.  I don't usually see much of a difference.)  I was so inspired, that I headed to the next boy's room, the youngest.  After all, I pulled some clothes out that were too small for Zach, so I needed to incorporate them in Elijah's room.  So it starts again.

In order to add those clothes to his wardrobe, I have to know what he has and where.  I organize his drawers and the clothes on top of his closet as well.  (Where did all these clothes come from?  I know I didn't buy them!  They have shirts galore!)  There were so many shirts, I pulled out the ones I didn't really like just to narrow it down.  (He wears the same shirts every week anyway.  For a while, he literally wore the same shirt each Monday, another one every Tuesday, etc.)  I ended up with a full trash bag of clothes.  I guess I will try a consignment store first.  Some are nice enough for On Your Left to sell them.  The others I will just donate.
Then I got to his bookcase, which was major cluttered, and the drawers under his bed.  I also ended up with a full bag of trash!  It's amazing to me what these kids keep or are just too lazy to throw away.  On to the last child!

JJ's will be easier, I thought.  He doesn't have as many clothes, being the oldest, because I haven't bought them yet.  He does have a box full of stuff in the top of his closet that I found on MAJOR clearance that I knew he would grow into....someday.  JJ's room was more dusty than anything!  They are supposed to dust each week and they always tell me that they have.  I will start double checking that now for sure!  I could have written my name, or a love note to my son, in just about every piece of furniture in his room.  I called him in from outside and explained to intimate details of dusting.  The rag must make contact with the wood and things must be picked up and dusted under.  We'll see if he got it.  I also found an unusual number of things under his bed: pencil, spiral notebook, 3 balls, hockey puck, Pokemon card.  I guess he wasn't missing them.  I also cleaned of his desk. I always tell the kids that the desks should be clean enough to sit there and do homework at.  Since they never sit there to do their homework, I guess they don't see the need.  They are certainly homework ready now!

So all 3 of their rooms are neat, clean and organized!  Until tomorrow I guess.
But kudos to all boys!  The only way I was able to do this was because they spent most of the day outside!  Yes, outside!  We had a neighbor over so they've been playing 2 on 2 basketball in the driveway all day.  They are even out there now.  The weather was just perfect today!  I was able to open the windows this morning and Sparky and I enjoyed our walk much more than usual. Even now the humidity is low and there is a nice breeze.

So, it's off to Target so Zach can buy another toy that I will, eventually, end up organizing or throwing away.  Such is life!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The best laid plans....

Today did NOT end up the way I thought it would!  But then, what days do, I suppose.  This one was way off!

I dropped Zach off this morning for his Jump Start camp thing at the middle school to get him acquainted so it doesn't seem so scary the first day.  I came home and took a shower, knowing that I was going to be taking the van up to have some work done.  Both JJ and Elijah decided that they wanted to go, so off we went.

We got to the Honda place about 9:30 am.  (My tires had been running low on air so I've been putting air in them quite often lately.  Wanted to find out why.)  Right off the bat, he tells me I may need 2 new tires because the front ones are wearing thin.  Ok, but let's see what they find.

After maybe 30 minutes, he comes back out and tells me that there are nails in, not 1, not even 2, but 3 (yes, 3!) of my tires.  And the way the nails are placed, they can't just be patched.  So now I need 3 new tires.  Oh, and my front brakes need to be replaced.  Great!  I came in to get my tires patched and end up getting $900 worth of work done on my car.  But that's ok.  If it keeps the car running smoother longer, I'm ok with that.  So, they give me a rental car, another van, and let me take the kids home. They will call  me when it's done.  That sounds good to me.  I just needed to pick Zach up at 12:30 and the car should be ready right about then.  So we got in the rental van and drove home.

After some work and lunch, it was time to get Zach.  We spent a good 20 minutes in the pick up line.  I always hate that line.  While we were waiting, the Honda place called and told me the van was ready.  Great!  I'll come right after I get Zach.  Or so I thought!

While sitting as the 2nd car at the parking lot entrance/exit, waiting to get out (which is on a slight hill), the car in front of me starts rolling backwards.  Not a big deal, right?  Sometimes cars roll back a bit on a hill before they start going forward.  I've been in this parking lot enough over the last 2 years to know that.  But this was one wasn't stopping.  It just kept coming and coming.  I laid on my horn and then it happened.  BAM!  He backed into me!  (Remember, I'm in a rental van.)  I jump out to see what kind of damage has been done so I can report it to the rental company.  The van in front of me does nothing, almost like they were going to continue out of the parking lot.  I walk up by the window and he says, "Oh.  Did I get you?"  Um....yeah!  Didn't you hear the horn and the bang?

Anyway, I call the rental company to let them know.  They are going to want a police report.  So I call the police and tell the guy he needs to wait.  Now the damage to his van was worse than mine.  After brushing off the residual paint from his van, my rental van only had a small knick in it.  No big deal, but it isn't mine and I don't want the rental company coming after me!  I get the guy's insurance information (some company I've never heard of) and wait for what seems like forever for the police.

Gwinnett Schools Police show up and take a report.  He's very nice and I'm trying to be lighthearted about it.  Things happen.  But, in the meantime, my kids are waiting in the car and I'm trying to go get my van so I can meet Steven so we can go shopping for items for the bathroom remodel.  But the guy has no proof of insurance.  He gave me his info, but he had nothing official....and his registration expires this month.  Ugh!  So he called his insurance company, they talked to the police to verify, and a report was filled out.  I was free to go.

I drove up to the Honda place to turn in the rental car.  They, of course, has to fill out a report as well.  The 2 guys working there were very helpful and nice about it, but it was one guy's first time filling out an accident report.  That took forever!  After giving them all the info I had and them assuring me that they wouldn't charge ME for the damage, I was cleared and headed off to pick up the van.  My service advisor was nowhere to be found.  Finally someone helped me, I paid (less than expected, so that was good) and was ready to go home.  They couldn't find my keys.  Ugh!  Found the keys, got in the car and promised the kids a Happy Hour milkshake from Steak N Shake for their patience.  It had now been 2 hours since I had picked up Zach.

What are the odds?  I got the rental van and drove straight home.  The only other place I had to go was pick up Zach.  They told me I could get my van right after that so I was going right back to the car place.  In that 2 miles, I was hit.  Ugh again!

So we got milkshakes, one for Steven too who was waiting patiently for us at home, and headed home.  We picked up Steven and headed out to find some items for the bathroom.  It was in the middle of this activity that it hit me. 


He is fed a snack at the school but eats lunch when he gets home, around 1pm.  Well, we didn't get home then.  We picked him up, waited around forever, picked up the van, got home around 3 and left again.  I felt so bad for him!  Thankfully we had promised them dinner anyway since we were out shopping.  So we went earlier than planned and got him some food.  There, of course, I ate too much and now feel terrible, physically and emotionally.

So I am sitting here watching the All Star Game, thinking I'll just stay in bed all day tomorrow.

But, as I posted the other, it could have been worse.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Truly Blessed...

First, let me thank everyone for their encouragement after yesterday's post.  I know it will happen.  I did it once, I can do it again.  I'm really trying to find a way to change my habits and make it a lifestyle so that I don't keep cycling through this.  Anyway..

Today I feel TRULY blessed.

I am sitting in the OT (occupational therapy) waiting room while Elijah is doing his therapy session for this week.  (He's working on fine motor skills, hand muscles, handwriting, things like that.)  Admittedly, I was not very gung ho about coming back to therapy.  It's time consuming and VERY expensive.  (He's been through this once before.)  Truthfully, I saw it as an inconvenience.  But, if it helped Elijah, I was all for it.  I realize now, as I did last week, that I am truly blessed.

I have 3 very healthy, handsome, sweet, funny boys.  There are issues, as there are with all kids.  JJ had to have braces.  Zach is on medication.  Elijah is going through therapy.  But......things could be so much worse!  I sit here listening, eavesdropping, I guess, on the conversations of others.  Some moms, with their kids, are here in therapy for hours at a time.  They go to one therapist for something, then to another for something else.  For them, this IS their afternoon.  Then I see their children.  All of them so cute and sweet and precious.  But, also, obviously much more challenged than Elijah.  At that moment, I feel ashamed.  I get upset, frustrated, and irritated at Elijah for various things that he can't do or needs help with.  They are usually minor things, but I feel that he should be able to do them on his own anyway.  He is inconveniencing me.  These moms handle so much more and appear to do it with such grace.  I'm envious.  It becomes obvious to me that God doesn't give you any more than you can handle.  THIS is apparently all He thought I could handle.  I couldn't agree more!  I just wish I handled it better.

I always had this silly idea, maybe not consciously but definitely somewhere down in there, that life would be easier at this point.  I have no idea where I got that idea from.  I guess because things seemed easier in my house when I was growing up.  There were no severe illnesses, horrible situations, or really any major hardships that I can think of.  (If my parents were here, they may tell me I'm wrong.  Maybe I don't remember or they hid them very well.  No one will ever know.)  I also had this crazy notion that kids would be easier as we went.  The first one would be hard because we didn't know what we were doing, but they would get easier as more came because we now had the knowledge.  NO TRUE!  Obviously!  But again, I sit here feeling blessed.  God is good.  He has taken care of us in so many ways that I know of, and probably SO many more that I am UNaware of.  My kids are great!  My husband loves me and works hard to take of my family.  What more could I ask for?

I have a tendency, if you hadn't noticed already, to see the bad side of everything.  (Steven complements me in that he always sees the positive side.  God is good that way too.)  My goal now is to focus more on the good aspects of my life, my kids, my husband, my job, rather than the bad.  I want to be truly thankful for what I DO have instead of irritated and what I didn't get.  I don't deserve any good at all.  But God saw fit to give me some.  And, for that, I am truly grateful!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Fat is Back!

About a year ago, July 29, 2013, I started working at Medieval Times.  The dress was business casual.  I had been at home, working with kids or at the stadium for years.  I didn't have any clothes that would qualify as "business casual."  So, my sweet husband took me on a shopping trip to the mall so I could get some new clothes for my new job.  To top it all off, I had just lost about 25 pounds and felt great!  I was able to buy some nice clothes in sizes I hadn't even thought about in years!  If I can say so myself, I thought I looked pretty good at work, most days anyway.

Well, I left that job 2 1/2 months ago to pursue my own business.  Now, I'm back to wearing whatever I want.  I just sit in my home office all day listing items or out at yard sales.  No need to dress well for that.

This morning I put on one of those nicer blouses that I had purchased this time last year so I could wear it to church.  I didn't end up wearing it to church.  Much to my disappointment, the shirt was too tight.  Tight enough that I didn't feel comfortable wearing it.  Yes, the fat is back!

It didn't take very long to gain back just over half of the weight that I lost for my 40th birthday.  I have to say that I am very disgusted with myself for allowing this to happen to me.....again!  I was overweight as an early teenager, and I lost it.  I gained some more back in my early college days and lost it for my wedding.  I gained weight after giving birth to 3 kids and decided to lose it and get healthy before my 40th birthday.  I did.  And now it's back.  Ugh!  Here I go again.

My biggest problem, I am an emotional eater.  If I'm sad, something to eat will cheer me up.  If I'm frustrated with the kids, something to eat with calm me down.  I eat when I celebrate, I eat when I'm depressed.  Somehow I have associated food with just about every emotion that I feel.  Not only that, but exercise it not my favorite way to spend my time.  I have to say that, in 13 years of being home with my kids, I've gotten quite lazy.  I did enough work last year to lose the weight, then I stopped and went back to old habits.  Not on purpose, it just sort of happens.  Kind of like putting a frog in a pot of cool water and slowly heating it to a boil.

So here I am again.  Overweight.  Thinking, when I get dressed every day, what do I have to wear today that will be comfortable?  I hate that feeling!  I keep saying I'm going to do better.  And I do for about a day or two, then something happens and I falter again.  That happens to everyone, I know.  But I tend to give up entirely instead of taking it in stride and starting again.  But today, I've started again.  I went swimming with the boys (not for very long, but did enough to burn some calories.)  I' going to walk to dog every morning and every evening that I can for exercise.  And I'm back to using to track my calories so I make sure I don't take in more than I work off.  It helps keep me on track.  I just get tired of having to keep track all the time!  It's frustrating and it wears me out mentally and emotionally.  But, until I get myself under control, this is what has to be done. If I want to snack or have a treat, I have to do an equal amount of work to make sure there are enough calories available.  This should and WILL become my lifestyle.  It may be tough, but I just try to keep in my something that my wonderful Mama used to say...

NOTHING tastes as good as being thin feels!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Catching up...

It's been since Wednesday!?!?!?!??  Time seems to just get away from me.  Not sure I can even remember the past few days.  Give me a minute.......

That's right.  Thursday night was a late night.  We drove up to Toccoa, GA (just over an hour drive) to attend a memorial service for the father of a friend of Steven's, someone he grew up with.  It was a lovely service.  I didn't know him that well, just some words that we shared in passing (mostly about wrestling.  He was a HUGE Ric Flair fan!)  But it became apparent very quickly that this man touched MANY people's lives.

As I sat there, listening to person after another share how this many had impacted their lives, I started thinking....."How am I impacting lives?"  Then I realized...I'm not.  At that moment, I knew that no one would be standing at the podium sharing words like that about me.  Again, not a pity party for myself, just some self realization. (It has to be done in order to change, right?  According to Dr. Phil, you can't change want you don't acknowledge.)  The truth is, I don't have much contact with people in general.  Those I do, it's mostly in passing.  The people who were speaking of this man had shared life with him and his family.  Some of them for decades, some for a short time.  They knew each other more intimately than I really know anyone now.  They shared life, the good and the bad.

God has me on the Earth for a reason.  I'm still not fully sure what that purpose is, but I'm still working on it.  Regardless, He calls all of his children to have an impact on the lives of those around them.  I've noticed that I have a desire to help those around me when there is a need, but that desire fades as the need gets closer and I realize that I don't really want to interrupt the routine of my daily life.  That's awful, isn't it?  I know.  Getting out of my comfort zone is not an easy thing for me.  I'm working on it and am now actively looking for how I can help those around me and have an impact on their lives and bring glory to God (because He is the only one that can get me out of my comfort zone to do so!)  I'm also actively trying to share and live life with people.  It's getting better.

This man's 2 children got up and spoke about him as well.  That's what really got me.  Would my kids say the same kind of things about me?  I wondered.  You always see the worst in yourself that others don't see anyway.  I have that problem big time!  I know my kids love me.  But when I think of myself as a parent, all I seem to think about is the anger and frustration, the guilt trips and irritation that I share.  I love my kids and am so proud of each of them, but they all drive me crazy!  That's true of most parents, I'm sure.  I'm not not so good at controlling the crazy.  I see the bad things more than the good, in myself as well as others.  (I see that trait in one of my kids too and I hate it!)  God continually shows me that I can't control those things.  He tells me that I must focus on relating to Him and then all the other things will fall into place.  Sounds cool, right?  So why can't I do that?  I still try to juggle and control all the different aspects of my life instead of surrendering and giving in to just one aspect.  That may be the alternate definition of insanity.

I think it's because, since I was a teenager, I've had a tough time admitting that I can't handle my situation and need help.  I was in a tough relationship as a teen (yes, it's true!  Something I've vowed to keep MY kids from.)  It was controlling and degrading (I realized AFTER the fact) and caused me to come out on the other extreme at the end.  (My husband has been dealing with the effects for years.  He could tell you.)  And it has spilled over to spiritual things as well.  When circumstances get really bad (the death of my mom, my dad, the almost end of my marriage) I relate to God much better.  But every day, just because seems to elude me.  I'm still working on it, but would covet your prayers to get back to a good place with Jesus.  I am living life but would really like to take advantage of His promise of life to the fullest.

Anyway.....Steven and I are writing a book.  It's a "how to run a yard sale" book.  We've been doing this long enough that we know what people should and shouldn't do when they have a yard sale.  So we thought we would share that info with the world.  Not that anyone else would read it, but we like coming up with it.  It's fun.

I'm also in a job dilemma.  I've been working for myself for the last 2 1/2 months selling items online.  It is making money.  However, since Elijah has started therapy again, I'm looking for some part time work to help cover those bills.  Right now I have a few options and am just praying that God would help me choose the best one.  I would appreciate your prayers for that as well.  As well as the success of Elijah's therapy.

Well, the Braves just went up 3-2 on the Cubs in the 3rd inning so I am going to cheer them on.
Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Great First Week

It's been a great start to the week.  My goal of getting more face to face with people is going well, so far.  I know things like this always do great the first week and then dwindle down.  I expect it to some, but hopefully not too much.

Monday, I have coffee (hot chocolate for me) with a great friend.  We met several years ago because our sons play baseball together.  We've never really gotten together outside of attending a baseball game, so this was nice.  She has 4 kids, most older than mine, and she has such a different mind than me (she is an artist) so I love picking her brain and hearing how she works with her family.  We are different but also the same in a lot of ways. Time flew by and before I knew it, I had to go to get Elijah to his first OT appointment....

Yes, more OT for Elijah.  He went through 6 months of OT at age 5, before he started Kindergarten.  I thought we were done.  But his 2nd grade teacher started requesting meetings concerning his writing ability.  He has difficulty getting his thoughts down on paper.  We also learned, after this most recent OT evaluation, that he is writing correctly.  Suffice it to say that he isn't holding his pencil correctly or using the right finger/hand motions when writing.  I figure that it hurts his hand and that could be part of why he doesn't like the actual act of writing.  So I figure so OT to help him with that is definitely worth it.  Turns out that he is below average on most of his fine motor skills.  At the age of 8, he is the equivalent of a 5 or 6 year old.  May not seem like a big deal, delayed in fine motor skills, but you'd be surprised.  You don't think about them when you have them, but when you don't, it's obvious.  There are lots of things he can't do: open a Coke can, open yogurt, roll up his sleeping bag, snap his pants.  (He keeps them snapped and zipped and just pulls them up that way.  Luckily he is skinny enough to do that still right now.  There will come a time when he will actually have to undo his pants to get them on, I guess.)

So, anyway, we've been doing some home exercises to try and strengthen his hands: picking up coins one by one, holding them in his palm, then manipulating them up to between his thumb and index finger and dropping them in a slot.  Flipping a coin and catching it, writing sentences making sure size of letters and spacing is appropriate, and manipulating his pencil with only 3 fingers.  It's a challenge to him, even though it may seem simple.  Hopefully it will help.

Tuesday, I had lunch with a dear friend that I have worked with at Perimeter for many years.  She is such a sweet soul and a calm voice of reason when everything else is crazy.  She also has 3 kids and homeschools them.  I picked her brain when decided what to do with Elijah.  We are always talking about couponing, budgets, etc.  We are very similar.  I took the boys to this meeting.  They wouldn't have been very happy if I had gone to CFA without them.  It was a treat for all of us.

Also, I'M FINALLY GETTING MY MASTER BATHROOM REDONE!  We've lived in this house 6 years (longer than ANYWHERE since we've been married!).  The bathroom is nice and big, but it's got pink tile and is falling apart in many places.  After a long wait, we found a good deal on a remodel and it will be done by Labor Day!  Right now Steven and I are spending our time looking at tile patterns, vanities, fixtures, etc trying to decide exactly what we want.  I can't wait!  I'll take before and after pictures to show you just how bad it is.

Today, the kids and I went to a $1 movie up at the Mall of Georgia.  It was Kung Fu Panda 2.  We've already seen it, but they like going to the theater.  It gets them out and we enjoy the movies.  Today we even got popcorn and Coke.

Amazingly enough, they went right to work after we got home.  Zach started typing his journal for his LA class and then did his typing lesson.  Elijah and I did his hand exercises and he immediately went to his typing lesson.  JJ read some and then did a math sheet I had printed for him.  I think they realize that school is getting closer and closer and they want to be ready.  Good!  I want them to be too!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Meeting a Legend

As you may or  may not know, professional wrestling (WCE, WWF, WWE, whatever you want to call it) is very big in my house.  Steven was involved with it growing up.  My kids got hooked about 3 years ago when they went to a Monday Night RAW while we were on vacation in Virginia.  We have wrestling action figures, wrestling rings, championship belts, T-shirts, trading cards, name it.  Wrestlers come and go and their names change. But there is one that has lasted through Steven's bout with wresting all the way up to the era of my kids.  Ric Flair!
He was Steven's favorite wrestler growing up and still is.  He's old school to my kids with all the new guys wrestling now, but they definitely know who he is and have watched him wrestle on YouTube.  (Yes, they all know it's fake.)

Well, last night, while at a Gwinnett Braves game at Coolray Field, we got to MEET Rick Flair.  Woooooo!

Here's how it happened....
Steven had said something in passing through the week that some sports radio show he listens to was going to be interviewing Ric Flair.  Great.  I don't really care so I didn't think anything about it.  What I DID pay attention to was a dear friend of my letting me know that her daughter, who wants to pursue a career in performing arts, was going to be singing the National Anthem at Coolray Field on Saturday, July 5.  WE ARE GOING!  That's what I told her and my family.  No question!  We will go support their family and see this wonderful event!

A few days later, as I posted on Facebook, I saw a post from the Gwinnett Braves that Ric Flair would be throwing out the first pitch at an upcoming game.  Knowing how much my family would LOVE that, I wondered if there was ANY chance that it would be the night we would be going.  After a few clicks of the mouse, I discovered that Ric Flair would, indeed, be attending the game the SAME night that we were planning on going.  Cool, right?  Well, there's more.

After further investigation, I also discovered that you could buy tickets that would give you a seat at the game, in a suite, food, AND A MEET AND GREET WITH RIC FLAIR!  Anyone that knows me knows that I don't spend money frivolously.  I am very careful with our money so that we have enough for what we need.  But, when I saw this, there was NO hesitation.  I immediately texted (funny, the blogger is telling me that is spelled wrong) Steven to let him know of the deal and asked him if he thought we had the money for that.  ABSOLUTELY was his reply.  So I immediately called and got 5 tickets for our family to go see Olivia sing and meet 16 time WWE Champion, Ric Flair!  (Did I mention it was also Julio Teheran bobblehead night?  What are the odds?)

I told the kids and they were beyond words!  I got hugs, kisses, tears, you name it.  They were excited.  Little did I know how excited Steven would be as well.  When we got to the stadium last night and caught the first glimpse of  Ric Flair, he was grinning from ear to ear.  We were in a suite with a large group of people that wanted exactly what we came for, a chance to meet Ric Flair.  We saw our dear friend sing the National Anthem (great job!) and watched Ric Flair throw out the first pitch.  While watching the beginning of the game, I suddenly hear a lot of "Woooooo"s behind me.  Ric Flair had entered the suite.  He was so nice and gracious.  The room parted and he went around shaking hands (including Steven).  He then proceeded to sit and start signing autographs and taking pictures, being extremely pleasant to each and every person.

The line was long.  Zach and JJ were supposed to go in the middle of the 3rd inning for an on field game so we were hoping they'd make it.  (They did, after they got autographs.)  All 4 of my boys got to sit next to Ric Flair, get his autograph, and I took pictures of each one.  They loved it!

The Braves won, we all got bobbleheads and the night was filled with Wooooos!  We had a blast!  Some guys in our suite with real replica belts let the boys hold them.  Boy, are they heavy!

Unfortunately, we found out today that a dear friend of ours, John Laseter, who was the biggest Ric Flair fan I know next to Steven, passed away early this morning.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and family.

Friday, July 4, 2014

That's a first!

Thursday was a lovely day!  Sorry I didn't get to write anything Thursday night.  We got home late from the fireworks. 

Speaking of fireworks, that was a great time!  We met our friends there and also gathered with friends from our church.  We sat around the park and chatted for several hours before the show started.  We also watched the kids play.  JJ was running around with his friends, Zach was teaching some younger kids how to throw a Frisbee, and Elijah was running the bases and bouncing a super ball with some little kids.  The weather was gorgeous!  There was a cool breeze.  It was perfect!

Last night marked my first time EVER in a port-a-potty.  No, I'm not a snob.  I could just never make myself do it.  They always smell so bad.  But I really had to go, and so did my friend, and the lines for the restroom at the concession stand were about 10 miles long.  So I did it.  It wasn't THAT bad.  It was dark and, of course, there's no light in there so I couldn't SEE how nasty it was.  I held my breath, did my thing, and left.  Thankfully there was hand sanitizer on the wall, so that was good.

Another first happened last night as well.  (Some of you will understand this more than others.)  ELIJAH WILLINGLY WATCHED THE FIREWORKS SHOW AND DID SO WITHOUT ME COVERING HIS EARS!!!!!!!
For those of you who may not know, Elijah, my dear 8 year old son, has SPD or sensory processing disorder.  In a nutshell, his brain doesn't correctly process sensations such as touch, sound, anger, etc.  When he gets hit with something, it hurts 100 times worse for him that the average child.  He can't stand rain falling on his skin.  When he gets frustrated his brain goes into overload and he can't process his thoughts and work through it.  He also can do loud sounds.  Needless to say, we have stayed away from fireworks shows for that very reason.  Whenever one would go off at a baseball game after a homerun, he would quickly bury himself in my chest and begin to cry.  Well, we recently went to the Gwinnett Braves home opener, knowing there would be fireworks.  We explained it to him and he sat on my lap while I covered his ears.  He did great!  He actually found that he enjoys the shapes and the colors.  Then we went to the Laser Show and did the same thing.  Fireworks suddenly aren't so bad.  So he agreed to go last night.  We started off with him in my lap and my hands covering his ears.  About halfway through the show, he decided to try without and pulled my hands away from his ears.  Before I knew it, he was up running and jumping around, acting like a wrestler entering the ring at WrestleMania...all while the fireworks were going on.  He ran out and found his big brother, sat in another chair by himself.   I was amazed.  As silly as it may sound, I cried.  Tears of joy, of course.  I always figured he would outgrow or learn to cope with most things as he got older, but it's still a wonderful sight to see.  I'm so proud of him!

Today I had lunch with a dear friend that I don't see often enough.  We were trying to have lunch once a month but then I got a job and she got a job and it just wasn't possible.  Thankfully we were able to today.  She's one of those friends that you can just sit down and pick up right where you left off.  I'm so glad she's here!  She was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago and has spent her time fighting it.  She did!  Being with her was just like old times!  We both vowed to try and do it more often, even if it meant she had to take a lunch or do it on the weekend.

So, now, here we sit at home on July 4th, thankful to be free!  After last night and the busy weekend ahead we decided not to do anything major tonight.  Steven grilled some yummy steaks, we played Guitar Hero and are now watching the Braves/ Smackdown (depending on where you are in the house) and just chillin' out, the way a holiday should be. 

Everyone is looking forward to tomorrow.  But I will tell you about that TOMORROW!

Happy 4th!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Another revelation

Well, I made another personal contact today.  I invited my sister-in-law, who lives very nearby, to come, with her dog, to the dog park with me, the boys and our dog Sparky.  She agreed!  After some clarifying directions so that we were at the same place, we met up and she had brought my two nieces as well.  It was so good to see them!  Even though they live close, things are always happening that make it difficult to get together.  I was very glad they showed up! 

I also have a lunch date planned for tomorrow and another on Tuesday, with a possible coffee date (even though I don't drink coffee.  It will most likely be hot chocolate.) on Monday.  Not to mention going to see fireworks with our church and some friends that we invited tonight.  I've very excited about my initial progress.

That led me to a revelation.  Not a revelation really, I guess, but the reminder of a truth.  It's not the THING itself that is bad (usually), but how you use it!  Guns, in and of themselves, are not bad, but bad people can use them for bad things.  Alcohol is fine in moderation, but bad if misused.  The same is true for Facebook.  It was ME that was using it as a way to stay connected with people without really talking to those people.  I, and I alone, allowed it to take the place of personal contact.  I became lulled by the ease of reading what everyone else was doing so I didn't have to ACTUALLY talk to them.  Wrong, of course!  And something that I have begun, and will continue, to correct.

Facebook is actually a great way to keep up with people, if used in the right way.  I've learned of births, deaths, marriages, etc. through this online tool.  I recently even got Atlanta Braves tickets (amazing seats!) from a local friend that I don't really see much.  It is a great connecting tool.  I was reminded of that today.

As I already posted, something amazing happened on Facebook today that helped me realize this as well.  I got on Facebook to check birthdays.  (Happy Bday to my pastor's wife!)  Low and behold, I saw a posting from the Gwinnett Braves (my love of baseball and former workplace) advertising the weekend's events.  (Please note first that we were already planning on attending a Gwinnett Braves' game on Saturday, July 5 because my friend's daughter will be singing the National Anthem.)  I just happen to notice a picture of Ric Flair, the WCW/WWE wrestler, on the ad.  Knowing my family's LOVE of wrestling, I HAD to check it out.  I discovered that Ric Flair, who my husband has followed for years, was going to be at Coolray Field and throwing out the 1st pitch.....AT SATURDAY'S GAME!  Further investigation revealed that tickets could be purchased that would include seats in a luxury suite, food, AND A MEET AND GREET WITH RIC FLAIR!  That was a no brainer!  I immediately texted Steven to tell him about it and he said, "Go for it!"  So I did!

Thanks to Facebook, my kids and my husband will be meeting a wrestling legend that they have watched and adored for years.  My kids were SO excited when I told them!.  Elijah got up and danced around.  JJ fell face first into the couch.  And Zach jumped up and hugged me, tears (yes, tears...he's very emotional) streaming down his face as he kissed my left cheek, then my right, and back to the left...over and over again.  THAT was worth it!

So now I will continue to use FB to keep up with friends, especially those who are out of town. But I will be much more proactive in using it to get together with friends and maybe even make new ones.  Thanks for your patience and I stumbled through this process.

So, off to see some fireworks!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

It went well...

My last post seemed a bit depressing so I wanted to end the day on a better note. 

I have NOT looked at Facebook today.  Well, not exactly.  I haven't checked anyone's status, spent unnecessary time reading all the posts or wasted time playing their games.  The only thing I did was check whenever someone responded to my signing off.  Not bad for a first day, I think.

In place of that, I made contact with a few people.  My friend came over with her children for a swim.  It was nice to spend some time with her.  We got to talk a little.  It was enjoyable seeing her with her young children at the pool (thankful that I'm not in that stage anymore.)  It was nice to see all the boys (there were 5 total, ranging from age 2 to 13) playing together.  And it was really great to see the youngest attach to JJ and to see JJ attempt to entertain him, while my other 2 boys couldn't have cared less.  I think we made have found something out about Joshua!

I also contacted my baseball friend and her family and invited them to come see fireworks with us and our church tomorrow night.  She agreed!  And that also lead to finding out that her daughter is singing the National Anthem at the Gwinnett Braves game this weekend so we are going to go and show our support for her.  (Granted, this was all done via text, but it will lead to a face to face encounter.)

2 contacts on my first day, not bad.

No, I'm not saying Facebook is bad.  And I may still check occasionally to see how my not local friends are doing.  I'm just trying to push myself to make a more personal connection with each person individually instead of posting something for everyone to see.  I think we've gotten too far away from being "personal" with all the technology at our fingertips.

As Meg Ryan said, "Whatever anything is, it ought to be personal."  And I agree.

See you tomorrow!

Here we go again....

I seem to have a difficult time making this a habit.  Sorry.  Not that anyone is out there hanging on the edge of their seat waiting to hear what I have to say.  But I think it would be therapeutic for me as well.  Also, I promised a dear international friend that I would try again so, here it goes.

This morning I signed off of Facebook.  I may return at some point, but I just believe this is the right move for me right now.  Many have asked why.  I'll try to keep the answer short.  The gist of it is, I feel I need to foster more personal relationships with a few people rather than a digital relationship with many.  Facebook just makes it too easy to not pick up a phone and call or invite someone over for some face time.

Steven and I have many of what we would call "acquaintances."  But very few "friends".  We don't get together with or talk to anyone on a regular basis.  Our family has dwindled down over the years to where we just have Steven's and my siblings (4 in all) left.  No grandparents for my kids.  No strong church ties and no small group community.  We have our baseball family during baseball season, but only then.  And it seems to change every year.  So, I was lying in bed last night, unable to sleep, when it hit me.  I could disappear and no one, outside of my house (because they would all starve to death!) would notice I was gone.  Deep, scary, I know.  But truthful.  I blame no one by myself.  We have moved many times in our marriage causing us to leave some friendships and make new ones.  As a result, we have friends all over the country and even the world (that's for you, Naomi!).  But we aren't close.  There is a need in my life for real relationships.  I see myself suffering from the lack, and my children too.

So, that's it in a nutshell.  I'm trying to force myself and my family to meet people on a more personal level.  To build deeper relationships that will last.  To develop confidants that I can go to in times like this when I need to talk and work things through.  To have someone who will listen and understand.  To have someone that I can be there for when they need it as well.  (So you don't think I'm being totally selfish.  I'm not.)  My kids and I could sit around all summer and not have any contact with people outside of church if we let that happen.  I don't want to let that happen.

I see it causing a problem in my kids.  They almost don't know how to behave when there are people around.  I haven't put them in that situation enough.  I tell you, it's not from lack of trying.  We didn't get this way overnight.  We have tried to maintain friendships and reach out to people, but people are either too busy or just not interested.  Steven and I have reasoned that, once you get to a certain age, your circle of friends is set.  Our constant moving every 4 years has caused us to be outside that circle. Again, I'm not blaming anyone!  This is just the truth of where we are now.  Since I see it, I want to fix it.

So we have a friend coming over today to swim.  Her kids are younger but she's lives close, goes to our church, and is very sweet.  That could turn into a great relationship.  She's already asked me some kids questions since I've been there.  And she seems like a sweet soul that would truly pray for me and help guide me when (not if) I needed it.  So we'll see where that goes.

I also invited a baseball family to see fireworks with us tomorrow night.  So I'm making strides.  We'll see where it goes.

Again, I write this not as a pity party for me or pointing fingers at others in our lives.  I share this only so that maybe it could help someone else who may find themselves in this situation.

Thanks!  I'll let you know how it goes.