Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Amazing day

written last week, but posted today....
Today, I had a fabulous day! … A family that I have been working with for 4 year was able to purchase their first home  today.   I cannot explain the happiness that I feel…

First let me introduce you to the family… When I met Patrice and Maurice, they were up to their ears in debt and credit issues.  They were living in a rental home that was not safe for their family.  They needed to get out, and get out quick.   Now, their credit issues were not your normal run of the mill credit problems.  They were totally under water from medical bills.   Within days of delivering her premature twin boys, it was discovered that one child had a problem.    He was rushed into surgery to remove a large portion of his intestine.  About the same time, Mom suffered a heart attack.  So, Dad was faced with one premature child fighting for his life after a serious surgery, one child fighting low birth weight and a wife that was recovering from a serious illness as well.  It didn’t take long for the bills to pile on, and the emotional strain to take hold.
I met them through an organization that helped families with medically fragile children, and offered to help them pro bono.  I fell in love with the mom immediately due to her enormous heart and joyful attitude.  It was their dream to own a home.  I have never seen a family work so hard towards a goal.  And, I’ve never seen a more optimistic, hopeful  example of believing in your dream.  These guys never gave up.   They trusted God, and just never, ever gave up.  I have been blessed to be working with them.

I saw miracles during this process… finding the perfect rental home with a fantastic landlord that treated them fairly.  This took several tries, but they never gave up.  After several years of good payment history, and hard work to reduce their debt, they were able to purchase the house they were renting.  The landlord and his wife have been a true blessing to this family.   

I have learned so much during this process.  I’ve learned that when you help someone out of the goodness of your heart, you can’t help but be blessed.  I’ve learned that watching faith in action is the most amazing thing you can ever see.  I’ve learned that being positive and continuing towards a goal eventually pays off.  And, when it does, it feels wonderful.   I’ve also learned that you can feel great joy by helping someone else accomplish their goal.

I received a text last night that said “We’re too excited to sleep – thank you for helping us get here”.    It was just the boost that I needed to remind me that hard work pays off.   Yes, it took  a long time, but we stuck with it.  All the money in the world can’t compare to this.   So… when you ask me why I continue to do this job… this is why… 

Saturday, December 25, 2010


It's Christmas!  The time to celebrate Christ, and to enjoy time with your family.  Our family has long standing traditions of making sure we get to see all the family at Christmas. 

On Christmas Eve, we head over to my Mom's house to see my parents and brothers, sister-in-laws and my neices and nephews.  This year, my brother and his family in Oklahoma joined us via Skype.  They have the youngest children, and I loved seeing Alyssa be so excited about Christmas.  Our kids are older, and are still excited about Christmas, but it's just not the same as the under 10 generation!

We eat, exchange gifts, laugh among the family and eat some more.  It is always wonderful to see my family.  We all live so far apart, and we don't get to get together often.

After we head home, my kids get to open 1 gift... The same every year... their Christmas PJs.  They had been asking all day long if I remembered to get Christmas PJs.   Thankfully... in all this hustle and bustle, I didn't forget.  But, of course, I just acted like I did.  haha

It is now Christmas morning, and we normally have to keep the kids upstairs so that we can come down, start a fire, turn on all the trees (yes, we put up 6 trees- can you say Christmas Spirit???), and put on Christmas music and then let them come down while we film them.  Times have changed!  It's 9a, and the girls are still asleep! I'm down here blogging, and hubby is taking a shower.  WOW!  Can't believe that they are sleeping in.

We'll hang out here all day and enjoy our presents, visit with neighbors, and just play.  Tonight, we'll head over to see all the other family on my hubby's side.  We eat, laugh, eat some more, open presents, etc.  It's another good mix of young and older children.  It is a fabulous way to finish off the day.

According to the weather man, we might actually have our first White Christmas (in my lifetime) today.  It is supposed to start snowing later today.  If it does, I will be the little kid at Christmas.  It will be just the Christmas miracle that we all want so much! 

I love Christmas!  I am thankful to be blessed with wonderful family and friends. I am thankful that I can celebrate the birth of Christ in freedom, and I am thankful for those that fight so hard to make sure I have this freedom.  We are truly blessed! 

I'm off to enjoy my time with my family, if they ever get down here!  I'll run extra tomorrow, for today, I shall eat all day! 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The airport

My daughter went on her first overnight trip for business.  She was a little nervous flying by herself, but was ready for the adventure.  She sent a hysterical email to her Dad asking him to drive her to the airport and pick her up the next day.  In it she said… “I know that you and the fam will be at the airport with balloons and flowers to pick me up because you will miss me so much, being that I am the glue that holds the family together”…   Yes, humor runs in the family… but this was Mistake number one!  Never  send such an obvious dare to a family member.  Dad, of course, would never willing embarrass his children,  but  I took it as a personal challenge to do something crazy.    It’s just my calling!
So… with a little coaxing, I talked my youngest daughter into a plan.  We went to Party City and bought the HUGE clown sunglasses and Santa hats (mine had a tiara!!!).   We made a big sign that said “Welcome Home Brittany” and decided that we would make a scene.  
Walking up to wait for her plane, a lady saw our sunglasses and asked ‘Just coming in from Florida?”  “No… we’re just being obnoxious!”  I explained that our daughter had gone on an overnight business trip, and she needed a ride home from the airport.  So… we couldn’t resist being totally obnoxious.  She, of course, thought it was funny, but had no idea how far we would take it.
While waiting, I notice a chauffeur standing across the aisle.  When he turned, I noticed that he was holding a sign with none other than my NEIGHBOR’s name on it.  Well… Crap on a Cracker… we didn’t really expect that we would see anyone that we knew while we were here.  Afterall, Atlanta is a big city.  It seemed incredibly small when my straight-laced neighbor came walking up!   I didn’t even bother to explain the obnoxiousness, because he lives next door, and he already knows we’re crazy.  LOL
When Britt turned the corner… we RAN to her like it had been months since we had seen her.  She saw the sunglasses, hats and sign and tried to act like she had no idea who we were.  We hugged her and made a huge scene.  People were looking, and I’m sure they were touched by the fact that a family was reuniting after a long separation.  J  The ladies that were standing next to us were just laughing so hard.  Had they not known the true story, they probably would have been teary-eyed like the rest of the crowd.  Haha
Britt got over her embarrassment quickly.  She’s used to us… But, I’ll bet it’s a long time before she asks us to pick her up at the airport again.   Or… maybe not.  Fun is fun, no matter how old you are.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Flying Foils

The other day, I went to get highlights in my hair.   Once I was completely “foiled up”, my hairdresser informed me that she needed to run up to the school to drop off some supplies.  It’s only 5 minutes away, and I needed about 25 minutes for the color to set in.  No big deal, right?

Once she was gone, I realized that I left my tea in the car.  So… I thought I would run outside and grab it.  Since her salon is in her house, I thought I might be able to sneak outside without anyone actually seeing me.  I had that “tune in Tokyo” look going, and I really didn’t want to run into anyone that I knew.  So… I peeked out the door, and realized that the coast was clear.  Or so I thought…

About the time I made it to the car, a big gust of wind came up.  My foils lifted right up in the air.  I mean straight up.  I started to panic.  Visions of Balloon Boy were running through my mind.  I could see the teaser story now… “Hairdresser loses menopausal woman to gust of wind – story at 11”.   Or “ UFO sighted over Lilburn was a hoax- wind and highlights to blame”.    

The panic got even worse when I realized that if any of these foils actually came off, I would have to START OVER!  And, I would “have some splainin’ to do” when Amanda returned.  So, my first reaction was to put my hands up and try to hold down the foils.  But,  it was going to take more than two hands.  So… I opened my car door and stuck my head inside as fast as I could.    There I stood, butt up in the air, and a head full of foils in the car.  Such a pretty sight.   I’m sure I looked like a big ostrich because I kept poking my head up to see if the wind had died down. 

Finally, it looked like the wind had died down, so I decided to make a run for it.  I stood up, closed the car door,   turned and saw a car sitting at the light… ARGHHHHH!  I could see them laughing from 30 feet away.  So, what do I do…  what else can I do… I just smile and wave…. Yep… Just smile and wave J   Here’s hoping they didn’t recognize me from that distance.

I returned safely in the house... but dang it, I forgot my tea.     

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Maid of Honor

I had dinner with my girlfriends the other night.  And, as usual, we started reminiscing. We’ve been friends for 30+ years, and we’ve shared a lot of stuff.  We talked about everything under the sun and eventually the subject turned to our weddings.     

Shay married first among us.  By the time I got married, she was pregnant with her first child.  We all remembered that.  Pat even remembered that Shay had a striped maternity dress on at the wedding.  Now… I know this to be true because I found a picture several months ago, and so it was fresh on my mind.  How Pat remembers it is a mystery.  It was 26 years ago.   None of us can even remember what we ate for breakfast.

What does it say about our friendship, though,  when my friend remembers the  outfit  that one friend wears 26 years ago, but completely forgets that she was the Maid of Honor at the same wedding?  Hmmm… she had no recollection whatsoever that she was my Maid of Honor.  REALLY? 

‘Here’re pictures of you as my Maid of Honor’… ‘What?  I was really the Maid of Honor? ‘Yes… here you are witnessing the marriage certificate with the Best Man.’   ‘Seriously, I was the Maid of Honor?’   ‘Yes… and yet you do not remember at all?’   ‘Well, I remember the wedding, but I thought the pregnant girl was your Maid of Honor, and I remember that Shay had on a striped dress.’     WOW! 
 Words cannot begin to even describe the level of laughter coming from Shay.    My devious mind was going other places though.  Since we can’t remember things that really happened, it might be possible for me to make her remember things that never happened.    Hmmm…Like the time she laughed so hard at me that she peed her pants in a dance club and I got mad because we had to leave… But wait, that really did happen!   Or the time we dressed up in Sauna suits to go dancing so that we could lose weight, and we had water coming out our shoes from the sweat.  Wait… that happened too…     The problem is, the stuff that really happened to us in the past is far more fun than anything we can think up now.   And… after all these years, we can still make her pee her pants.     Oh Yeah!

Good friends are a priceless item.  Do everything you can to stay in touch.  They will keep you strong when you feel weak, and they will make you laugh when you feel like crying.   They will love you for all the goodness that you don’t even know you have.  And they will love you for all the faults that they have seen as well.   And… you can go years without seeing them, and just pick back up where you left off.   That’s the best thing about girlfriends.   

 But as for the three of us… Lord help us all when we go to the nursing home!  Or perhaps I should say… Lord help everyone at the Nursing home when we finally get there!   We will remember how to lace our roller skates, and we will remember our friendship, and we might even recollect that we were at each other’s weddings.  But we won’t remember how to follow any rules.    We’ll still be making them up as we go along…

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Daily routine

On January 1, 2009, I made a commitment to do something good for my body.  Now,..  don’t get me wrong… I exercise 5 or 6 days a week either running or walking with some girlfriends.  But, the older I get, the harder it is to get back to that same level of fitness that I enjoyed at a younger age.  And, I’m getting fluffier every day.  (I’m SO FLUFFY!!!!!!)  So, I decided to add just a little extra.

I committed to do 100 crunches, 30 squats and 25 pushups every day.  I also made a promise that if I missed a day, I would do double the next day.  Well, let me tell you that I only missed one time and figured out quickly that doing double was horrible.  So, no matter what, I did them every day.   Seriously, it took me 5 minutes to do all of this.  And, let me tell you that there were days that I thought about quitting because my abs weren’t getting rock hard, and my butt was still laying down on the back of my legs.  But, I persisted.  And you know what… on December 31, 2009, I had completed:
 36,500 crunches
 9125 pushups and
10925 squats   

100 a day didn’t seem like much, but when you look at the accumulation, I felt like I had definitely accomplished something great.  So, I committed to 50 squats, 30 pushups and 150 crunches per day for 2010.      

The 5 minutes that I take out of my evening to finish these exercises is really very little. And, I know that it may be years before I see any huge results. However, underneath this layer of fluff, I can feel a difference.   Yep… I’ve got 6 pack abs, but you can’t really see them yet because they’re hiding behind a power keg. J  

On November 10, I pulled my bicep muscle, so I had to stay off the pushups for a few weeks.  I still continued with the crunches and squats.  But, I missed a lot of pushups.  I had to start back slowly and work carefully.  Amazingly, I could see a difference in just taking a few weeks off.  It made me realize that all this work was actually making a difference.

What I’ve learned over that last 2 years is that your daily routine is EVERYTHING.  One simple good habit in your routine can make a huge difference over time.  Likewise, one bad habit can take its toll slowly and unnoticeably.  You may not realize how much impact a little change for good or bad can make.  The change may be gradual, and unnoticeable, so you think you’re not making a difference.  But, if you will stop and take a gut check, you’ll see how far you’ve come.   You can’t always accomplish big goals  in a hurry.  But, you can make a commitment to move towards them EVERYDAY.  Every step you take forward just puts you one step closer to your goal.  You may have some setbacks, but you recover, and start again.  You just have to keep going.  You will never get there by sitting on your butt.   

One small change can be huge over the course of time.  If you told me 2 years ago, that I would do 91,000 crunches, I would have passed out.  But at 100-150 a day, I got there.  Good habits make good results… Remember, it’s all in your daily routine…

Saturday, December 4, 2010

You knew the job was dangerous when you took it Fred.

Before I started my own real estate company, I worked in the corporate world for many years.  Yes… I was a geek!  I started out programming for a large airline, and worked my way up into middle management with a team of 40 programmers supporting 40 different internet software products.  

Starting up the maintenance department wasn’t easy.  What programmer wanted to be on the support side?  It’s a thankless job.  But, I had a fantastic team of programmers from all walks of life.  We had the most diverse group of any other department, and that’s what made it fun!  

During the interview process, I made it clear that it was a hard job.   In this department, we were the last line of escalation for agents with software problems.  If it got to us, it was serious, and it needed a programming fix.   So to make sure that I got the right people, I basically scared them to death in the interview process!  ‘Our software didn’t always break  9-5 hours because it was used worldwide.’  ‘We would be expected to cover 24 x 7.’  ‘ If  I call at 4a, you’d better answer and be ready to work. ‘  ‘I only hire adults, so don’t come and ask me if you can take a day off.  You know what’s on your plate to be finished, so you decide if you have time to take a day off.’  Anyone that still wanted the job after the interview was a keeper! 

All this “prep work” in the interview process made for a wonderful team of hard workers.  Every programmer had 1 product that they were lead support on, and 2 other products that they learned as back up support.  If they needed a day off, they just coordinated with the backup to make sure there was product coverage. So, they didn’t need to check with me, they controlled their own schedule.    I was totally serious about not asking me for a day off!  They just let me know that they were going to be out, and who was in charge while they were gone. And… knowing that they had autonomy over their job made them work even harder!   

My other rule was NO WHINING!  If you had a problem, you could come in my office to tell me the problem AND your proposed solution.  If you came in without a solution, you were just WHINING.  And you would be met with my favorite line from Super Chicken -  “You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred!’   And I would tell them to come back with a proposed solution. It only took being turned away 1 time to understand that I meant what I said!   I didn’t expect the solution to be exactly right, and many times, we brainstormed the perfect solution together.  However, I did expect that they had at least thought about it and could tell me what they had already tried.    I can’t tell you how many times programmers came in my office with a problem, talked it through and figured it out without me even saying a word! ( LOL – So glad I could help!)  They would thank me for the help, and I really hadn’t done a THING but listen.

And finally, I continually reminded them that I worked for them!  It was my job to remove all the obstacles that were in the way so that they could do THEIR job.   Yes… I was Mama Bear sometimes… Leave my programmers alone – come to me and let me help you.  And there were times that I was doing all the running so that they could stay focused.  But, my team appreciated it!  And besides, I knew the job was dangerous when I took it!   

I never lost team members. Once they joined my team, they stayed.  And when I left the company for another job, my team presented me with a framed picture of Super Chicken and Fred that said ‘You knew the job was dangerous when you took it Fred!   It still sits on my desk today as a reminder not to whine about the hard things that come my way.  It’s a dangerous job, but somebody has to do it!

So... do I use this same logic at home... Absolutely... Being a mom isn't easy, nor is being a good wife.  But then again, being my kid or my husband isn't easy either ... And, when you throw menopause into the mix...well let's just say that  I can go from Mother of the Year to Mother of Fear in no time flat.   But... We knew the job was dangerous when we took it Fred! 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Never give up chocolate and Alcohol at the same time

The year my brother went to Afghanastan, I gave up sweets in support.  However, when it came time for Lent, I was at a loss. I’m not Catholic, but I still participate in Lent as a way of trying to tame some of my ‘crutches’.   I almost always give up chocolate.  It didn’t seem fair to count my current refrain from chocolate, so I decided to give up alcohol.  Now, I wasn’t a big drinker, so I thought this would be very easy.  NOT!

By the time Lent rolled around, I had been off of chocolate for almost 2 ½ months. After the first few weeks, it had become much easier.   However, I didn’t count the sugar in alcohol as a ‘sweet’… I meant candy, cookies, cakes, etc.  So, every now and then, I would have a margarita.   After all, I have a stressful job, and sometimes, I needed something extra (LOL)… Chocolate is my drug of choice when I’m irritated, but margaritas run a close second.  And, I seemed like I was getting irritated a little more often while I wasn’t eating sweets. J 

Well let me tell you that by about the second week of Lent, my husband threatened to hold me down and force feed me chocolate or a margarita.  Apparently, my attitude wasn’t real peachy.  At one point, I remember saying to someone ‘I’m a pre-menopausal woman who hasn’t had chocolate OR alcohol in weeks.  DO NOT MESS WITH ME, YOU WILL NOT WIN!   I was halfway joking, but apparently, I added a look that made everyone question my intentions!  Of course, I wouldn’t have a problem at all if people would just quit making me mad! 

As Lent progressed, I received daily threats that I was going to be fed chocolate in my sleep.  I apparently had somehow lost the purpose of my sacrifice.  Giving up these things was supposed to make me a better person, not worse!  I was supposed to turn to God instead of sugar.  But, given my current state of “the change’- I was apparently making way too many additional changes at one time.  Remember the line from the movie “Airplane’ where Leslie Nielson said ‘I picked a bad day to give up alcohol’?    Well, my entire family was apparently living the Airplane nightmare!    To this I replied… Well… Life’s tough – Wear a Helmet!  I would try to be nicer, and they would have to try to deal with me because I was not going to back down on my promise to my brother, or my commitment to GOD!  And I didn’t. 

We made it through… barely… My family still loves me, no one was seriously injured, and I learned a few things about myself…  But I did have to make a promise to my fam that I would never give up both of these things at the same time again.  Menopause definitely requires chocolate OR alcohol.     It safe to say that I won’t try this again!