Finding balance: My 8 daily must-haves

Yesterday I was interviewed by Ruth of Cranium Crunches for a podcast series she's creating as part of an exciting new venture of hers (which I'll surely share with you once up and running). The focus of the interview was on finding balance and navigating challenges and stress, in relation to creativity and purposeful living.

books and papers

Ruth's questions led me...

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The Saturday Post: Super Why Grandma edition

As my grandsons and I enjoyed lunch together yesterday, Bubby and I discussed Mommy and Daddy leaving today for their conference, and how it's nice that I'm able to stay with him and Mac each time Mommy and Daddy go out of town.

Bubby mentioned that it's too bad PawDad doesn't get to visit each time I do, to which I explained that PawDad has to go to work each day and can't always take off time for visits to the desert, even though he'd like to. I stressed that just like Mommy has to go to the school for her job as a teacher and Daddy has to go to his office for his job, PawDad has to go to an office for his job, too. But my job, I told him, is all on my computer, so I can do my work from my house or his house or anywhere I go, as long as I have my computer.

When Bubby asked what my job is, I simplified it, saying that sometimes I write and other times I  read what other people write then fix any mistakes, adding commas and new words and things like that. "I'm a word fixer," I told him.

Bubby immediately perked up, grinned, and excitedly said, "Just like Super Why!"

"Super huh?" I thought.

Bubby explained that Super Why is a show he watches on TV, and that Super Why fixes words, too. He seemed quite impressed that Gramma was in the same league as Super Why.

Having never before heard of this Super Why guy, I later Googled him. This is what I found:

If Bubby needs a reference point for what Gramma does on the computer she drags around with her, I can't think of any more fitting than Super Why.

Best wishes to all for a super Saturday!

What I learned this week: The momentum has shifted

female soccer keeper

When my youngest daughter, Andrea, was in high school, she joined the soccer team. She'd never played before, not in earlier grades in school, not on club or park & rec teams. But in true Andie fashion, she chose the soccer team over the track team because her sisters ran track, and she was determined to do her own thing. Plus, she figured there'd be less running in soccer than in track.

Andrea was wrong about the running, but she was right about choosing soccer anyway, as that girl rocked the soccer field. She even chose to be goal keeper when no other girls on the team wanted the position, a position that eventually garnered her a spot — and a scholarship — on her college soccer team.

During her high-school stint on the soccer field, Andie's coach for the first few years was a young male teacher, not long out of college. His youth and enthusiasm for his job, for his team, for the game were a boon for the girls he coached. They absolutely adored Coach D. (His good looks had a wee bit to do with that, too, I assure you.)

Now, Andrea's high-school soccer team was not the best in the district. In fact, they were pretty far from it. But they had grit, they had dedication, and they had Coach D cheering them on.

Jim and I were fortunate to be able to attend the majority of Andrea's high-school soccer games. Many times, her team struggled to keep up with their opponents, often ending up on the losing end of the match. Sometimes, though, they'd manage to pull ahead.

It was during those initial moments of pulling ahead that Coach D's enthusiasm spilled over. "THE MOMENTUM HAS SHIFTED!" he'd shout to the sky, to those around him, but most importantly, to the girls. To which the girls would then run harder, faster, as they heard the sound of hope ringing across the field.

In every game, no matter how bad the beating seemed it might be, there would be at least one point where the exclamation would be made.

"THE MOMENTUM HAS SHIFTED!"

Every once in a while, the momentum would shift fully in the girls' favor, and Andie's team would come out the victors. Always a sweet victory indeed.

Ever since those days of watching high-school soccer games, hearing Coach D exclaim the moment of change indicating hope on the horizon, I've often heard his words ring out in my head — sometimes even spoken the phrase aloud or chuckled when Jim would say it at just the moment I thought it. I've heard it in my head at Andie's college games, while watching live or televised sporting events, when my daughters have overcome a challenge, when most anything in my life warrants the exclamation.

Well, this week, I learned this: The momentum has shifted... in my favor!

You see, the years since I lost my full-time job at the newspaper have been a heart-crushing struggle in a variety of ways, from trying to get books published — with my agent quitting the business midstream — to trying to keep my bank account filled with at least enough money to turn around and send it right back out again to pay the bills.

Many people have similar stories to tell, all beginning about the same time my financial woes began. The year 2008 and most since have sucked for a lot of us. I'm not unique in the challenges I've faced, I know. That hasn't really made it any easier, and I've wondered again and again when things would start trending up instead of continuing the downward slide.

Finally, though, it seems the downward slide has ended. In one small but significant way, the momentum has indeed shifted. Thanks to the copy-editing position I recently started — with much thanks to my online friend Carol — I'm finally able to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, finally see hope on the horizon.

I must admit that this new position is not a high-profile one by any means, and it doesn't pay huge amounts. But it's enough to make a difference.

It's enough to give me hope.

It's enough to make me feel things are on their way up.

It's enough to make me say, with all the conviction of Coach D:

THE MOMENTUM HAS SHIFTED!

photo: stock.xchng

Today's question:

What have you learned this week?

Dad's cool profession

My son-in-law, Preston — father to my two grandsons — is a financial advisor. Now, adults likely get the importance and necessity of a person who is whiz-bang awesome with money. Kids, though? You might think kids wouldn't see financial advising as all that cool of a profession, especially for their papa.

If that is what you think kids might think, I'm here to suggest that you just might want to think again.

You see, there are plenty of cool aspects to financial advising, especially from the perspective of kids whose dad just happens to be a financial advisor.

For one thing, financial advisor dads have supercool piggy banks they give their clients to share with their kids.

Supercool piggy banks that the financial advisor dads share with their own kids, too.

Piggy banks that look sort of like this (for copyright reasons, I can't share the real thing here):

blue piggy bank 

Even cooler? Financial advisor dads regularly give presentations on money to businesses and organizations.

Using a projector.

A projector that — every once in a while — the financial advisor dad brings home for his family to have the most awesome of movie nights.

Movie nights that look exactly like this:

movie night

Now how cool is that?

(And how cute is that? Especially that Mac's little body doesn't even fill the entire ottoman as he kicks back to enjoy the show, just like his big brother.)

Yep, financial advising is indeed a pretty cool profession for dads.

Even more cool for their kids.

Just ask Mac and Bubby.

Piggy bank photo: stock.xchng

Today's question:

My dad was a plumber. What was your dad's profession?

5 jobs I would take even if they didn't pay much

I have many friends who are writers, former associates of mine from my newspaper days. Writers, like so many others, are having a rough go of it lately, especially as so many journalists, writers, and reporters have found themselves without a printed publication to write for in the past few years. It makes for a very crowded, competitive playing field.

One writerly friend of mine mentioned she's considering a job at her local library, a job that pays far less than she's worth, but at least it's something. I considered such a job myself and am quite sure that performing the duties of a page at the library would be just fine with me, even though it wouldn't pay much at all. I love books, would be happy to be surrounded by books. A mere smidgen of income would be acceptable in such a circumstance.

Working as a library page is just one low-paying job I'd happily work to help pay the bills while continuing to write. Here are a few more:

5 jobs I would take, even if they didn't pay much

Movie reviewer — As any long-time reader of Grandma's Briefs knows, I love the movies. I go to the movies. Far more often than I can really afford. So if someone were to pay me even just a small amount to go—and pay for my ticket as well—I would happily go to movie after movie and review movie after movie. Even the blockbusters, which are not my favorite flavor of film.

Research assistant — I'm pretty good at researching things. My family regularly comments on how I'm one of the smartest people they know. I'm really not smart, I just know where to find answers to most any question. I'd be happy to find answers for others all day long. That is, of course, unless they're looking for answers related to mathematical mind-benders such as the Pythagorean theorem or some such something or another. I'm a word person, not a number person. Give me research work that results in words and I'm all over that, even if it doesn't pay much.

Elephant feeder — What? An elephant feeder? Well, yes, I'd happily feed elephants at the zoo all day long. Elephants are pretty cool animals. I might even go so far as to feed giraffes, too, possibly throw a few fish for the seals while I'm at it. Monkeys, well, they seem a little too much like humans, which kind of creeps me out, so they'll need someone else to keep their tummies full. But the other animals? I'm there, even for low pay. As long as poop scooping and similarly unsavory tasks don't fall under the Other duties as assigned category in the job description.

Radio disc jockey — I've always had a secret desire to be a deejay. Even if it didn't pay much, I would do that. No one would have to see me, so I think I could be quite charming and effective as a radio personality. But only if I don't have to play any of that screaming <cuss> kids nowadays listen to. I'm not talking about bands like Pearl Jam or Linkin Park or Metallica or music-makers of that ilk; I can handle those bands, have seen those folks live. I just don't want to play screamin' meemies such as ... well, I don't even know the names of today's screamin' meemies, the ones that make me want to scream myself when I hear them on the radio or blasting from a nearby vehicle. Other than those unnamed screamers, though, I'd happily play music of all different sorts, even if they didn't pay me much to do it.

Baby cuddler — Newborn babies in the ICU need cuddling, and there really is such a job. I interviewed a baby cuddler once upon a time, in fact. Baby cuddlers cuddle and rock the tiniest of the tiny babes born too soon or with medical issues of some sort. What a perfect job for a grandma. It's not actually a job at my local hospital, though, it's a volunteer position. And because it is such a fab volunteer position, there are many grandmas clamoring to make a difference simply by cuddling. Which means there's a long, long waitlist of grandmas hoping to be accepted for the position. The non-paying position.

Thing is, I know of an even better position. My grandsons may not be babies, but they do like to cuddle with me, and the position of Grandson Cuddler just so happens to be currently vacant and available. Bonus: There's no waitlist for that specific position! My only wait is waiting for my flight one week from today, at which time I'll head to the desert to do exactly as the position demands—cuddle my grandsons.

Grandson cuddling doesn't pay in ways that help pay the bills, of course, but that's fine with me. It's the one, the only job I would take even when there's absolutely no pay at all.

(Plus, my grandsons are a teensy bit easier to feed than elephants. Most of the time.)

photo: Wikimedia Commons

Today's question:

What job would you take—other than Mom or Grandma—even if it didn't pay much?

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work she'll go

My daughter Megan, mother to my grandsons, is going back to work. She was and is an early childhood educator. After taking one year off of work to try her hand at being a stay-at-home mother to Bubby and Mac, she's decided to go back to work. Full time.

I'm not thrilled.

But I support her.

One hundred percent.

Megan needs to work. Not because her household needs the money, but because Megan needs to do and be what she is. And what she is is the very most awesome teacher of young ones. A very most awesome teacher who, in order to be the very most awesome of mothers, too, needs to do what she—without a doubt—has been called to do.

This wasn't an easy decision for Megan. She wanted desperately to be the kind of mom who stays at home with her sons, who does crafts and activities and outings with them. And is content with that. She tried her hardest—her busy calendar and plethora of Pinterest projects around the house and put into use for parties in the past year prove it.

But she wasn't content. And that's understandable. Squishing yourself into a box in which others want you to fit makes for a most uncomfortable position. And a most unhappy mommy.

By going back to work as a teacher, Megan will be a better mommy. A content mommy. As her mother, I want Megan to be content. A content mommy, a content teacher. Thankfully Preston agrees, supports her return to work and the extra work that might make for him, too.

So why am I not thrilled?

Well, I must be honest: It's because I want my grandsons to be with their mother. At least most of the time. Most of Megan's time come August 1, though, will be dedicated to full-time teacher mode, as no part-time first-grade teaching opportunities currently exist in her town.

A part-time teaching position would be best for all concerned, Megan and I both agree. But this full-time opportunity, despite the challenges that will accompany it, will be far better for her, her kids, her household than the full-time mommy gig she worked—and really did often enjoy, I must add—this past year.

The full-time mommy gig is hard. It can be frustrating, endless, monotonous, thankless. Most importantly, it's not for everyone. I'm glad Megan realizes that, accepts that instead of trying to be someone she's not. (As well as someone who's not putting to use that expensive private-school education many of us are still paying on, if you'd like to know another brutal truth.)

Yes, part-time work might provide a little more balance in Megan's wants and needs, but a full-time position as a first-grade teacher is what she has to work with. And she will indeed make it work—while making sure things work for my grandsons, too.

Bubby managed to survive and thrive with Mommy working part-time during his first couple of years. This won't be all that different for Mac, as his hours beyond those Megan worked as a part-timer with Bubby will be spent napping at a well-researched and thoroughly vetted daycare center. As long as the bed's comfy and cool, Mac likely won't give a hoot if it's Mommy or daycare personnel twiddling their thumbs in the next room while he sleeps the entire afternoon, as he's wont to do. I have no doubt Mac will survive and thrive, too. Probably even better than he might have if Mommy didn't work, thanks to the social interaction he'll get with kiddos his own age at the daycare center.

And Bubby? Well, Bubby will be delighted to see Mommy off and on throughout the day as he will attend preschool at the very same school where his Mommy's working. When Megan gave him the news she was returning to teaching, a big ol' smile spread across Bubby's face, she reported, as he expressed genuine pleasure at hearing Mommy's good news.

Bubby's reaction to the news of Megan returning to her true calling is admirable. And it's how all of her family, friends, fans should be responding—by being genuinely supportive. A mommy's got to do what a mommy's got to do. And what Megan Mommy's got to do is get into the classroom and be awesome with other kids. So she can be awesome at home with her own kids, my grandkids.

What more could a mother want for her daughter?

What more could a grandma want for her grandsons?

Congratulations, Megan! I applaud you. I support you. One hundred percent.

Today's question:

Removing the child factor and what you did/do as a working or stay-at-home mom, would you rather work outside the home full time, part time, or not at all?

Repost: One woman's pleasure is another's worst job ever

As I look forward to a job interview this week that just may result in my "best job ever" — and as I recuperate from my visit to the desert (those triple-digit temps did a number on this grandma) — I'm again taking the easy way out and reposting an oldie but goodie. This time it's about my worst job ever...in hopes that I may soon be awarded the best job ever. Well, the second best job ever, as being grandma certainly ranks for me as the first.

One woman's pleasure is another's worst job ever (originally published February 4, 2010)

I've been thinking a lot about jobs lately. I'm sure it has something to do with my friend Debbie's retirement, my bloggy friend Tammy's job search, and the quest of my former coworkers/current friends as they seek out freelance writing gigs to replace those drying up.

Or it could have everything to do with the fact that my savings account is coming perilously close to the empty mark.

Whatever the reasons, I'm thinking about jobs and how I really need one and how I don't want to settle on one until it's the best job I've ever had. Crazy, I know, especially in this insane economic climate we're all learning to live in. But the clock is ticking on my time here and I want to have the best job ever -- and plenty of years doing it and enjoying it -- before my time is up.

I recently had a pretty good job, but it was far from what I'd classify as the best job ever. I've also had mediocre gigs, plus a few horrid ones that I hated but they helped pay the bills.

I've also worked in a position that downright made me cringe, literally. It's the one I'll not hesitate to share when I become rich and famous and am asked by some reporter "What's the worst job you've ever had?"

Heck. I'll probably never get that rich and famous, so I'll just answer that question here.

When I was about 25, I worked in a beauty salon. I was a "nail tech," applying the biggest, longest, stupidest-looking fake nails on women with lots of money. In addition to doing nails, I occasionally did "wraps." The weight-loss kind of wraps (that really were a bunch of bunk!) and the mother wrap of them all, the highest gig in the salon: the seaweed wrap.

The seaweed wrap was billed as a fabulously relaxing way to pull toxins from the body -- the whole body -- and soften the skin. It was also the smelliest. Rich ladies with too much time and money on their hands Customers would pay about $200 (and this was nearly 25 years ago!) to be painted with reconstituted dehydrated seaweed and lay there in the stinking mess for upwards of an hour.

And who painted the seaweed on their bodies? Me. I was responsible for all the steps it took to make their skin toxin-free and baby-butt soft. For my work, I made $125 -- an unthinkable amount for two hours of work ... at least unthinkable for a 25-year-old with three babies and a husband already  working two jobs to support the family.

So I mentally tallied up how many diapers I could buy with $125 and went through the steps.

Step 1: Show the ladies the restroom, where they could remove their clothes, throw on a robe and return to the wrap room, where they were to remove the robe and settle in on a massage-like table -- in the buff. (It was always ladies. Men requested the service, but that was too freakin' weird for me and I refused to take those customers. Luckily the salon owner understood ... and wrapped the males herself.)

Step 2: Exfoliate the skin -- of the entire naked body -- with a soft-bristled brush. The entire front side ... and I mean entire. All as I held my breath as much as possible because I have a thing about smells -- and these women often didn't smell so great. Then flip for the other side.

Step 3: (After brushing all the gunky dead skin off the table and myself!) Go over the entire naked body with a little rubber massager thingee to stimulate the deeper tissues. Continue holding my breath. Flip for the other side.

(Do note here that I'm kind of a prude. I never was one of those liberated gals who "experimented in college" or any other place and was not used to brushing or massaging or doing anything else to another woman's naked body. The ladies never seemed to notice, as their eyes stayed closed and they appeared asleep through the entire process, but it was the height of discomfort for me. Well, not the "height," as the next step was even worse.)

Step 4: Mix up a batch of seaweed paint using the dried seaweed and warm water, while holding my breath and refraining from gagging; seaweed stinks! Using a paintbrush the size of those found in hair highlighting kits, paint the stinky seaweed slime all over ... no, ALL OVER the already stinky bodies of the women. Flip for the other side.

Step 5: Wrap the stinky seaweed slimy woman in a plastic sheet, put a warm towel over her eyes, turn down the lights, turn on the soft and stupid new-age crap music, and let the woman stew in her juices for 45 minutes.

This is where I would go in the bathroom, scrub my hands nearly raw and try not to cry. I hated this more than anything in the world. If there were cell phones back in the day, I would have then gone out to my car, called Jim and cried. But there were no cell phones so I held back the tears and kept myself busy with other beauty-salon-like chores until the timer went off and my customer was done.

Step 6: Direct the wrap lady to the shower, where she could wash the stinky slimy mess and the toxins sucked from her pores right down the drain. Instruct her to gently towel dry and return to the table -- still in the buff.

Step 7: Lotion up the newly toxin-free and soft-as-a-baby's-butt woman, from neck to toe. Flip for the other side. Tell her to take her time relaxing then get dressed and meet me at the front counter.

This is where I'd again scrub my hands raw, hold back the tears, and practice a fake smile for the final step of the process: collecting payment.

Step 8: Smile, speak in soft new-agey "Wasn't that refreshing and wonderful" terms and take the money from the satisfied customer.

Then, because I always made sure I had no other customers scheduled after a wrap, I pocketed my $125 and drove home. In tears the entire way. Feeling like a prostitute because I took money for doing something I would never ever in my wildest dreams do if I didn't need the money so badly. Then I'd wipe my tears, go in the house and hug my girls. All the while swearing I'd never do it again.

Until the next seaweed wrap showed up on my schedule and I couldn't refuse it. I had three babies at home and a husband who already worked two jobs and we needed the money.

All these years later, I can still smell the stink of that seaweed. Maybe that's the reason I can't stomach sushi.

I think the time has come for me to add "The Best Job Ever" to my resume. I've clearly already had the worst!

Photo: flickr/happykatie

Today's question:

My favorite spa treatment is _______________.

Grandma performance review

As a former employee and supervisor, I’ve received and given many a performance review in my day. Because I’m no longer employed in a full-time job, I’ve done neither in quite a while.

Time for that to change.

Today I work both ends of the review process — giving and receiving a review for myself in the highly coveted position of Grandma, using the performance evaluation document of a former employer as my guide.

Performance Recognition and Planning Guide

Name: Lisa
Position: Gramma to Bubby
Date of hire: 6/2008
Date of this review: 2/2011
Rating Scale:
5 Exceptional
4 Exceeds Standards
3 Meets Standards
2 Needs Improvement
1 Unsatisfactory

Achievements — Lisa is efficient in the position, regularly researching ways to forge a strong relationship with Bubby despite the miles between them. She’s arranged many visits to the desert, even in light of a dwindling bank account. She’s also learned to Skype, use Picasa, blog with abandon, use USPS and UPS to her advantage. In addition, she depends on regular telephone communication with her daughter and grandson despite hating the telephone. Rating: 4

Ownership — Lisa takes full ownership of her position as Gramma, never shirking the name or duties involved. She takes pride in the position, sometimes to the extreme, not wanting to share the title with others. Rating: 4

Results — Bubby has no doubt who Gramma is and delights in his time with her. During Skype sessions, Bubby most wants to view toys, cars, and trucks PawDad shares with him instead of the picture books Lisa shares, making it clear more enjoyable books need to be chosen or Lisa needs to steal the cars and truck from PawDad and show them to Bubby herself. Rating: 3

Teamwork — Lisa works well with PawDad, her partner in grandparenting. Excepting, of course, her desire to steal Matchbox emergency vehicles during Skype sessions. Rating: 3

Communication — See “Achievements.” Rating: 4

Initiative — Lisa is proactive in problem solving when it comes to finding new ways to engage Bubby, in person or long-distance. Rating: 4

Skills — Lisa demonstrates a high-level of long-distance ability, regularly making use of ideas and activities offered up by fellow grandparent bloggers. She needs (and desires) more face time with Bubby in order to improve her skills and efficiency in one-on-one situations with the grandchild. Rating: 4

Dependability —
Regardless of day, distance or dollars involved, Lisa will do anything and everything for Bubby. Rating: 4

Overall Rating = 3.75 Meets/Nearly Exceeds Standards

A supervisor once told me that although I was doing an excellent job, corporate policy prevented her from granting me a 5 on the scale as that would mean I’m as good as can be, leaving no room to strive for improvement. At the time, I considered it a bunch of hooey from tight-fisted executives who didn’t want to pay the higher salary due those rating at the top in reviews.

Now in my position as Grandma, I understand the policy of not earning a 5. I’m not as good as it gets and I surely want to continue to improve. Not in hopes of earning a bigger paycheck but with the goal of improving my performance in one of the most important positions I’ve held yet — Gramma to Bubby ... plus soon to be Birdy and countless other grandchildren to come.

Today’s question:

Using the numbered Ratings Scale above, how do you rate your performance in one of your current positions, personal or professional?

Stupid is as stupid does

I recently received a few compliments from readers about my technical ability and Internet know-how. I was pretty surprised, as I feel rather in the dark about all things HTML related, the language that makes blogging possible. I do know a bit about the Internet and I am pretty darn good at researching this and that online. But I wouldn't say I'm savvy.

I used to think I was pretty darn savvy with the Internet. Heck, I hopped online back in the early 90s -- and had the Prodigy account to prove it! But I now keep my pride and puffery about all things online in check by remembering my biggest online faux pas ever. It involved e-mail. And a few Grandma's Briefs readers know about the horror of which I speak.

Several years ago -- during my pseudo-savvy period -- I was the manager/editor of a small editorial department at the newspaper. At the time of which I write, I was in charge of three writers and one photographer. Because our "office" was just a set of open cubicles in a sea of other open cubicles, privacy was at a minimum. So we used e-mail for many a conversation.

The e-mailed conversations were usually between myself and the three women writers; our male photographer rarely, if ever, joined our e-mailed bitching and complaining. (The IT Department, on the other hand, probably saw each and every pixel we parsed out.) Of the three women with whom I corresponded, one, whom I'll call T, was a rather young gal ... actually so young that years and years earlier, she had been in my Daisy Girl Scout troop. I was her leader, the one who taught her about honor, kindness, how to "Be Prepared" and how to make homemade fortune cookies. T was engaged to a real numbskull of a ninny posing as a man, and as the young gal was younger than my daughters, I felt rather maternal toward her -- and more than a little irritated that her parents hadn't stepped in to put the kibbutz on the relationship with the ninny.

Well, T didn't last long working at the newspaper, but once she left, she still e-mailed us all often and was occasionally privy to the daily e-mail exchange among office mates. One day T sent an e-mail to us three older and wiser former coworkers talking about plans she and her now husband had. I can't remember the details, just that it was a rather naive plan, yet T thought it proved her maturity. I was appalled at her stupidity, her misguidededness, and I immediately e-mailed a reply to the other two older/wiser women in the group to air my bewilderment at T's plan and her penchant for the dumb ass she called her husband.

Only, I didn't hit "Reply" to just the two older/wiser women; I hit "Reply All." Which meant T got my the message ... quickly. She got the message that I wasn't the nice Daisy leader she once called Miss Lisa. Instead, I was a mean and bitter old woman who said mean and bitter things to someone to whom I once served as a mentor, someone who was just young and naive and trying to make her way in the world.

I was horrified that someone as e-mail and Internet savvy as myself could commit such a basic error of online correspondence (and judgement!). What a dunce was I.

I immediately (after freaking out to my coworkers) e-mailed T, privately, to apologize for the things I said. She graciously accepted my apology ... and never e-mailed me again. Which I deserved.

The young gal whom I once taught about manners then later interview techniques taught me even greater lessons. Not only did she teach me to always, always, ALWAYS check to see which reply option I've chosen when sending an e-mail, she also taught me that I should never, ever, EVER be snippy, snotty and snarky.

Especially not in writing.*

That, my dear readers, is why I will never consider myelf savvy -- online or otherwise.

*I'm embarrassed to admit that, unfortunately, I occasionally need refresher courses in those lessons. But I'm working on it.

Today's question:

With whom did you most memorably stick your foot in your mouth ... or send an e-mail that should not have been sent?

The sweet sounds of unemployment

This week has been a rough one because of the time change. It's made me pretty darn thankful that I don't have a full-time job to get up and ready for first thing each morning.

I've also been thankful for no full-time job this week because if I were working, I couldn't spend full-time hours playing grandma while Bubby and Megan are here. Sure, grandmas everywhere work and manage to get time off for hugging and loving on their grandbabies, but if I had recently found a new job, it's doubtful I'd have been allowed to take four vacation days this early on in my tenure.

So yes, I'm saying that I'm thankful I have no real job, no boss telling me what to do, no office gossip to listen to.

Instead, I've gotten to listen to the sweetest little voice ever. And here are some of my favorite things my little Bubby has said again and again, the things that just melt my heart each time he says them:

  • "Kitty mow" (pronounced like "chow" not "meow")
  • "Big stair," uttered each time he's confronted with a staircase he has to go either up or down. Yes, they're big stairs and yes, he's actually going up and down them -- holding on to someone's hand, of course -- despite my freakout post about stairs.
  • "Big truck"
  • "Big keeze," aka a big squeeze/hug
  • "Big clock" upon hearing the grandather clock dong
  • "Big slide" (Yep, everything's big to Bubby!)
  • "Tired baby" when he's worn out
  • "Whoa baby" when something's awesome
  • "Hi Baby" when greeting his mommy
  • "Oh my!"
  • "Nonny Bunny" (his name for the bunny from his Great Grandma/Nonny Ann)
  • "Oh no!"
  • "Okay, okay," to let one and all know he survived a tumble
  • And best of all, Bubby says very emphatically, "I ... love ... MOMMY!"

There's much more that Bubby says, and even more that he understands. Which is oh-so cool to grandma, who's trying to capture as much of it as possible on video. And who's very thankful she got to hear each and every word he said while visiting, instead of sitting at a desk and hearing yet another recap from coworkers on what happened on "Biggest Loser!"

Today's question:

Other than music, what is one of your favorite sounds?

My answer: Other than the voices of my loved ones, I love the song of the mourning dove ... and small, tinkly windchimes (not the big ones) as they're softly blown by a gentle breeze ... and the purring of a cat.

Finding balance

Play time!As many of you know, I've had a beef with a particular company with whom I did a bit of freelancing last year. Thirty days ago I filed a complaint with the small claims court in hopes of resolving that beef.

Thirty days ago, my day in court was scheduled for yesterday.

Thirty days ago, I didn't think about the fact that Megan and Bubby would be here on the day I was to go to court.

Well, I didn't think about it until the very moment after I agreed to the scheduled date.

Then I thought about it and dreaded it for the past thirty days.

I didn't want to go to court in the first place, but I really didn't want to go to court during the precious few hours I got to spend with Megan and Bubby.

Meeting Auntie B's kitty.More play time!Turns out having them here was exactly what I needed. They balanced out the stress, worry and soul-sucking of a morning in court* with the smiles, giggles and soul-strengthening of an afternoon with some of my favorite people in the whole wide world.

Sometimes not thinking things through pays off.

This was definitely one of those times.

*In case you wondered, I did come out ahead after my day in court. Case closed.

Today's question:

If you could have a servant (well paid, by someone else) come to your house for one hour every day, what would you have them do?

My answer: I'd have him/her do something different every day, but usually along the lines of dusting, vacuuming, and grocery shopping. Definitely the grocery shopping -- my least favorite chore!