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3/30/11

Perfect I tell you!

I know we can all relate to the fact that at times life feels like a chaotic mess. Sometimes nothing seems to go right and mountains of obstacles heartlessly stare you in the face. Once in a while, though, the way pieces of life fall perfectly into place is just amazing. It puts you in awe of life’s design and just makes you feel good great; kind of like the feeling you get when you complete a 1,000 piece puzzle! There is new news that has put me in that state of awe.

This morning Dave met with Ross University's preparatory school principal to talk about PJ's admission. The topic of me and my fluency in American Sign Language came up. It turns out there is a Deaf student (first semester) at Ross right now and Mary (the principal) wants to meet with me to talk about a possible job opportunity translating.

Why is that so awesome?? I (potentially) will have a job while in Dominica, meaning I won't have to solely support myself with student loans (even though the cost of living is very inexpensive). The job I'll (potentially) have is a huge resume builder for my dream career (interpreting/translating) and American Sign Language is something I am passionate (borderline obsessive) about. This new potential opportunity on top of all all the other positives for moving to Dominica has put me on cloud 9! Talk about having your cake and eating it too!!! I mean, what were the chances that there would actually be a Deaf student in Dominica while I am there?!!!

And that's the way the cookie (perfectly) crumbles, folks! I'm absolutely starry eyed and even more excited about the move now--I didn't know that was possible! Even if I don't get the translating job, I'll have a Deaf friend to hang out with; fantastic way to keep up with the language and make a new friend in the process. I don't think it can get more perfect than this. Thank you, life!!!

3/29/11

Interrupters

I was a little disappointed to find that 'interrupter' is an actual word already. I was hoping to coin the term for, well, those people who can't stop cutting you off, interjecting their opinion, and speaking over you. I guess since the term has been established (unbeknownst to me) society is used to dealing with these interrupters. At work. At school. Friends. Family. Strangers. They are everywhere and once you come in range of an interrupter, they stand out like a sore thumb.

To my misfortune, I was part of a two hour training session at a work with an interrupter. This interrupter was like no other interrupter I've ever encountered. As an attendee for a training session, she sure seemed to think she knew it all. And she told us as much. The whole time. Even the instructor of the session couldn't get a word in edge wise. Hell, if you didn't know any better you'd have thought she was the instructor because of how much she controlled the conversation.

A team member would start replying to an open-ended question thrown out the group and the interrupter would blatantly cut the person off to share what she had to say (seriously). If the instructor spoke about something the interrupter thought she was a pro at dealing with--you guessed it-- she'd interrupt the instructor and would give the class her (cheap) two cents. You have a question for the instructor? Forget about it! The interrupter would talk over you mid-sentence, assume she knew the rest of what you were going to say, and "answer the question". Rude! Disrespectful! Annoying! Time-wasting! 

I learned nothing about what I was supposed to at the meeting. What I did learn, though was about 10 different techniques for how to effectively interrupt people. Honestly, I'm a little in awe of the interrupter. It must take years of practice to hone those kind of skills. What a piece of work! I'm not the only one who has experienced someone like this, am I?

3/28/11

You'll want to read this one

Passports are tricky little buggers to get. Lengthy passport applications, notarized special circumstance form for my son (since I couldn't locate his dad to sign his application), little passport pictures, birth certificates, and passport fees. Phew-- I almost feel like I signed my life away. Surprisingly it only took one resubmission of the notarized special circumstances form and four weeks of waiting to receive our new, beautiful, blue U.S. passports.

Not so beautifully blue in this shabby camera phone picture, though.

But really, this post isn't about passports at all. It's about some big gigantic news I want to share with everybody. You see, the passports are the keys and now that we have them, the door of opportunity is unlocked. What am I talking about?

A couple months ago a once in a life time opportunity dropped in my lap and I decided to grab it by the horns. Family, friends, readers, world wide web, I would like to announce that PJ and I will be moving to Dominica. We'll be living there until the end of Daves schooling at Ross University, then coming back to the U.S. in 2012. (You didn't think you could get rid of me for good that easy, did you?)

Am I crazy for doing this? You may think so, but I have been mulling this decision over for months and can think of nothing but positives. I will be a full time college student, PJ will be in preparatory school, cost of living is inexpensive, I get to experience living in the Caribbean, and most importantly, Dave, PJ and I will be together. Dave and I have come to realize how important this time of his life is and neither of us want PJ and I to miss out on experiencing it there with him.

You may be thinking "What about PJ? How is he going to react to this kind of a move?" You'd be surprised how many families move to Dominica with the med student. So many that there is a K-12 preparatory school and daycare for children of students and faculty. There is also the Ross Spouse Organization (RSO); all run by spouses, fianc├ęs, and girlfriends/boyfriends of med students. The RSO members plan play dates, group outings, and special events regularly for the kids. Did I mention that we are going to be living less than ten minutes from the beach? What I'm getting at is that PJ is going to have the time of his life.

Backpack. Hat. Passports... He is ready to go!

I'm the one you should be worried about, people! The official move date is May 2nd. That's t-minus 34 days to finish getting all of our affairs in order before we leave the country. I am still working full time (last day is April 15th), in school part time (classes don't end until mid-May), and am in full mommy-mode (24/7, 365!!). I think I'm getting an ulcer, but this has been the most exciting time in my life yet.

Before I wrap this up I want everyone to know that Dave and I made this decision together. Life is full of suprises which sometimes take you down paths you'd never thought you'd walk (like moving out of the country with your son!!).

If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments, I will be happy to answer :) Otherwise, wish me luck!

3/25/11

Fire, Fire!

I was just minding my own business doing homework and PJ was happily playing with his toys when all of a sudden we hear a loud noise.

"Mama! What's dat??" Uuumm...good question, what the hell is that. Flashing lights, loud buzzing, ooooooohhhhhhhhh-- duh! It's the fire alarm!! A drill maybe? No, this isn't high school. I gotta get PJ out of the building!! I threw my coat on, got PJ's shoes and coat on, snagged our passports, my purse and we high tailed it out of there (taking the stairs of course). Thank goodness we only live on the third floor!!!! Most everyone evacuated and I felt bad for the people up on the 16th floor who had to walk all the way down.

Five minutes later, two big red flashing Louisville fire department trucks were parked right in front of our apartment building- PJ was in heaven! Then about ten fully decked out fire fighters walked past us and into the building ready to take care of business- PJ was jumping up and down in excitement when he saw "real" firefighters.






Ten minutes later we were told that there was no fire and could go back inside. No more of an explanation was given, but hey- there is no fire and i'm a-ok with that news alone.


Snagged this picture of a figher fighter before she left. She was a beast!

When we got back in the apartment, PJ takes off his coat, turns to me and says "That was a close one Mama". I laughed for like five minutes. Surprisingly appropriate response for a three year old.

What a night. It got me thinking... what if there really was a fire. What if it was on my floor or even in my apartment? What is truly important to have in  a fire proof safe or in a grab-and-go location in case of an emergency like this? Answers to come in another post, another day. For now I think I'm going to try and finish my homework...


3/23/11

Oragami




"The goal of this art is to transform a flat sheet of material into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques."
  

I think we are all born like crisp, clean sheets of origami paper. As we mature, we fold and sculpt that sheet, working toward our masterpiece. We all strive to craft a wonderful design; the best possible we can make with our own hands. Sometimes we make mistakes and have to re-flatten the paper, undoing previous folds, leaving behind imperfect creases. As we refold and learn from mistakes, our technique becomes a little better and we carefully continue crafting our work.

Right now my sheet is worn with creases. It's been folded and re-flattened. It's been sculpted and undone. Sometimes I fear my paper is just going to end up a crumpled lump on the floor. Everyday, though, I continue to work and rework the folds in my life. I hope that one day my friends and family will look upon my life, see the simple sheet I started out as and marvel at how I transformed it into a beautiful masterpiece. Maybe some will even be able to look upon the creases and learn a thing or two.

3/19/11

Photo & Ten Facts

This idea was stolen (yes, stolen) from a 31 day challenge another blogger posted. Sadly, I'm not motivated enough to participate in the full 31 day blogging challenge (which includes a new topic and blog post each day.) so I decided to cheat and just do day Day 1: post a photo and ten facts about yourself. I hope I didn't break some sort of blogger law by doing this...

August 28th 2010

  1.  I love video games and seasonedgamers.com is my virtual home away from home.
  2.  I haven't lived in the same geographical location of any close friends for a period longer than two years. Ever.
  3. I graduated high school by the skin of my teeth. I had a rough few years around that time in my life.
  4. I've been a single parent and sole supporter of my son for two years and ten months so far. He is three and a half.
  5. I eat hot sauce on everything. Seriously, everything.
  6. I hate shopping.
  7. I have three favorite colors; brown, pink, and white. And yes, I know white is technically a shade.
  8. I have two sisters; 24 and 6.
  9. My boyfriend goes to Med School in the Caribbean. Long distance sucks, but he's amazing. Couldn't be more proud.
  10. My absolute favorite thing to do is explore a new place (preferably city) that I've never been to before. Traveling rocks.

3/14/11

Banning Bathroom locks since 2011

It's 2:43AM and I'm blogging. In fact, I've been blogging for the last 20 minutes but my brand new laptop which happens to have a very large touch pad accidently deleted everything I had written-don't ask me how because I have no idea. If the last two hours are any indication of how the rest of my day is going to be, I think I'm just going to pull the blankets over my head and hibernate in bed for the next 24 hours. Seriously.

It all started when I heard my sweet little boy crying in his bed from night terrors. I went into his room to comfort him and settle him down. Once I knew he was peacefully asleep again I started to leave his room when something caught my eye. The bathroom door (which is in PJ's room) was closed but the light was on inside. I went to turn the light off, and this is where my night went down hill.... can you guess what I discovered?????

My son had locked us out of our bathroom.

This may not be horrifying for, lets say, people who have multiple bathrooms. Or perhaps people who don't have toddlers which need to go potty throughout the night. Or maybe those that have husbands or boyfriends who are conveniently handy and able to deal with such situations. But for me? I live in a studio apartment with a single bathroom (which I am locked out of). I have a toddler who needs access to said bathroom and whom I can't simply tell to "hold it!". My man is thousands of miles away and unable to assist me in this situation (physically). So basically, this is a nightmare. Did I mention it was around midnight when I made this discovery?!

I tried to stay positive and get the door unlocked. I mean, really, how hard could it be anyway? I get a wire hanger and try to jiggle the lock loose, no luck at all. I keep trying for 45 minutes, still no dice. It's getting later and later and then Dave called me. In true Nikki fashion I just freak out. I mean, what if I needed to use the bathroom? What if PJ needed to use the bathroom? How will I get ready for work in the morning?! I'm such an emotional wreck at this point (an overflow of other events from earlier in the day too) and I don't think I've ever been more thankful for a bathroom! Dave calms me down because he's the most amazing person ever. Even though he wasn't physically able to be here to fix it for me, he was there for me emotionally and that is all I could ever ask (it was creeping up on 2AM at this point).

So I pull myself together and keep messing with the lock. Fifteen minutes later I see the screws on the door knob and think that it would be genius to just try to remove the door knob all together. Wrong. Taking out the screws just made the door knob loose and I couldn't remove it (lesson learned).

FINALLY I decided to do what I should have done all along. I googled how to unlock a bathroom door from the outside. Amazing how wonderful the internet is. In two seconds I found the solution (with picture examples to boot!). I needed a long little flat head screwdriver and my hopes took a dive again when I realized I didn't have one. But wait!! Mr Beneigh got me a super awesome fully loaded tool box for Christmas...which was inconveniently out in my car. I walk all the way out to my car, dig through the tool box, find a tiny flat head screwdriver, and come back into the apartment. In the middle of the night!!!!!

Two hours, an emotional meltdown, a loose door knob, and a trip out to the car later I got the bathroom door UNLOCKED. Funny how easy it is to do with the right tool and some useful information from google.

 
Success!!!
You can see where the knob used to sit prior to me taking the screws out...


PJ and I are going to have a serious talk in the morning about this lock.


It's 3:11AM now and yeah, I over reacted. It's just a bathroom for crying out loud and being locked out isn't the end of the world. But hey, this was a first for me. And I still couldn't be happeir to see the inside of that damn bathroom....

3/10/11

NewEgg.com

*Caution, long post. Prepare yourself.*

When I got home Wednesday (yesterday) night I found my HP laptop dead. Kaput. Donezo. I squeezed many good years of use out of that puppy and it was handed down from a very generous co-worker prior to me owning it, so I couldn't really be too upset that it had thrown in the towel.

Ironically, some research on laptops had been done a few weeks ago so I had a few ideas of what I wanted in a new PC. After a few hours of continued research (yes, I rushed my decision a little-but I had to buy a new one ASAP for school) I pulled the trigger and bought my new laptop from NewEgg.com. I'd never used NewEgg.com before but a lot of friends have been talking about it, so naturally I wanted to see what the rave was about (and now I know).

I chose Next Day Air Saver delivery hoping to get my laptop before the weekend (again, priority for school). I checked up on the order status today around 1:00PM and was a little disturbed to see that it was still only in the verification process (making sure it wasn't a fraudulent purchase). I signed on to the "live chat" customer service feature on NewEgg's website and was talking to a service representative within 2 minutes. The rep told me that the order process was halted because the shipping address (my work address) was not the same as the address on the credit card I used. Long story short, I had to go straight to the bank and get the shipping address temporarily put on my account so that NewEgg could verify the purchase and continue with the order process.

At this point I was a little regretful for using NewEgg because I wasn't sure everything was going to pan out. I got back from the bank and again chose the "live chat" customer service feature. This time I was connected to a rep instantly. I told them that the shipping address was only going to be on my account temporarily and I needed them to verify the information now so that there wouldn't be any issues. The rep told me that the process could take up to 48 hours. I asked to speak with a supervisor about the hold up, but then the rep put a rush on my verification. The order was verified two minutes later and I was onto the shipping part of the order process (YAY!).

Around 4:50PM I was getting nervous because the order status still didn't show shipped. If they didn't ship the laptop today I wouldn't get it until Monday (one of the prior reps told me). Shoot. So I decided to call into customer service this time and actually speak with someone. After following the prompts I only waited 5 minutes before a rep answered. I explained the whole situation of what I had done so far today, that I had paid for Next Day Air Saver and that if I didn't get the laptop tomorrow (Friday) then Id like to just switch the shipping option back to the 3-day guarantee (free with purchase). The rep put a rush on my order (for shipping this time) and I got confirmation that I will be receiving the laptop tomorrow within 15 minutes of making the call.

I'm still astonished. I may have been a pain in the butt customer today, but their service was amazing. I never waited more than 5 minutes to speak to a rep no matter which way I decided to contact them (live chat or calling), they always sent follow up e-mails after each contact, and they always remedied my concerns immediately.

Hands down, this is the best customer service I have ever experienced. I know where I'll be making all future electronic purchases (and you should try them too-seriously).

You didn't think I would end this without showing you pics of my new laptop, did you?

Introducing my HP Pavilion DV6-3052NR







3/8/11

So big so soon

Watching PJ grow and develop his "big boy" personality is so amazingly awesome. It's the thing about mommy hood right now that I enjoy MOST. He's absorbing knowledge like a sponge. Some of the things he has done in the past few days have really made me realize just how much he's growing up though....



2009 Mothers Day Picture 


PJ happily trotted over to me and said "Mama!!! My birfday is in gaugast" I was confused by what gaugast was, but after having him repeat it a few times I realized he was trying to say his birthday is in August. Wow!! He 1) knows what a birthday is and 2) understands that there is a special month of the year that it's in. I was so proud!!!!

PJ was playing with his legos one day and had constructed something that looked like, well, a bunch of lego's smacked together. He says "Mama! Look!! It's E for Esabel!" His best girl friend's name at day care is Isabel. PJ believes that it starts with an E and "made" the letter E out of legos for her. Super sweet!!

Janurary 2011. He loves his little computer!


He also said he's going to marry Isabel and that she is his "girlfriend". You are just out of diapers, why is this starting so soon!??!!!!

He always asks to play Halo, or World Of Warcraft. Sorry buddy, not yet! When you're hands are big enough to use the controller, we'll talk. And WoW? I can barely play that game because it's so complicated. Yep- I'm placing a "You're waiting to play this game until you get your own house" ban on it. Which of course will probably be forgotten by his 10th birthday. But he can at least wait until he's 10, can't he???


Summer2009.

"Mama! Give me some pwavacy. Close the door!" Is now PJ's demand every time he goes to the bathroom. Privacy because he is a "big boy" is his new thing. Well okay dude, you got it!

I lay out his clothes every night and PJ dresses himself in the mornings. Once in a while he gets the shoes on the wrong feet, or a backwards shirt, but for the most part he does fantastic! It is such a huge help because it cuts down the time it takes to get out the door every morning!

February 2011. Happy camper

He is starting to listen when I ask him to clean up- the FIRST time!!! (I probably shouldn't have said that out loud- I don't want it to stop!!!).

PJ has become quite the gentleman. He opens all the doors for mommy on his own accord (if he can manage).


An oldy but a goodie. Fall 2009

Every day in the car ride to day care there is a question and answer session. "Mama, what do birds do?" Me: "They eat worms and fly" PJ: "Why?" Me: "They eat to stay strong and they fly so they can find food and go home" PJ: "Why?" Me: "Er... well, because that's what they do" PJ: "WHY?" Me: *confused as how to further explain*

Although he's getting so big and so smart -he's still affectionate and he's still my baby boy. Not a morning comes that he doesn't crawl in bed with me around 8:00AM and say "I wuv you mama, good morning. Time to wake up".


December 2010. "Caution" on PJ's shirt is right. They look devious! I love my boys

I LOVE watching him grow!!!!! I know I'll blink and he'll be in college, but i'm going to soak it up now while I can. Life is too short! I'll carry these precious times with me forever. One day when PJ really is all grown up, maybe we will sit down together and read the silly, adorable things he used to do as my sweet little boy. Until then, watch out world-this kid is gettin sharp!

3/7/11

So, this one time....

So, this one time, at band camp...

Ha, just kidding. I couldn't resist.

It was really this one time, at the orthodontists (but that doesn't sound as cool as band camp)....

I need to give you a little background info before I get to the meat of the story. My smile was a disaster growing up. I covered my mouth when I smiled for years. What can a person do about their inherited genetics?! Nothing, that’s what. Except be in and out of the orthodontists office a total of seven, yes seven, years. Between the spacers, expanders, retainers, braces, the routine tightening and those painful rubber bands... I just wanted it all to end. I didn't care if my smile was perfect anymore. I wanted to happily bite right into a piece of pizza and not have to worry if all of the sauce and cheese were stuck in my braces. I wanted to bite into an apple without wondering if I'd accidently break one of the braces off my teeth. Unfortunately that is the sad life of a person wearing braces- always wondering about that food. In fact, that damn apple did break one of my braces off so I had to schedule (yet another) orthodontist appointment to get it glued back on.

(We're almost at the point of the story now) When I got to the orthodontist it was the usual hour wait before I even got shown to a chair. The orthodontist I had in Virginia was HORRIBLE-but that is a whole rant for another day. Finally the orthodontist assistant came over to check out the situation. She secured the brace back onto my tooth and asked "Is anything else lose?". My response was... drum roll please....

"No, I lost all my baby teeth years ago."

Just think about that for a minute.

She gave me a weird look that I didn't understand, simply said "Ok" to my response, and moved on to her next victim patient. The doctor  finally made his way over to ensure all was well with the brace, he scolded me for biting into an apple so carelessly, and released me to go.

I got to my car, happy to be out of that place. I was there far too frequently and it was such a pain in the ass. Driving home I realized something. A moment of clarity and lucidity hit me like a brick wall. Horror washed over me. My cheeks turned a nice red color and I could feel the heat of them. For a while I swore never to go back to that orthodontist office ever again. EVER.

The orthodontist assistant wanted to know if any other BRACES were lose, not if any of my teeth were lose. The weird look finally made sense. I made a fool of myself. And even now I look back, shake my head, and laugh at myself.

While this may have been very anti-climatic for you, it still makes me giggle when I think about it. So, you may very well have just wasted five minutes of your time reading this, but lesson be learned - never confuse the orthodontist office for a dentist office.

For painsteakingly reading through this whole post, though, I hope these horrible, embarressing pictures of me in braces makes up for your boredom:

8th Grade

10th Grade


And yes, I still had braces at my highschool Graduation...
(The reason why I look like death in this picture is because I was HORRIBLY sick all night before graduation. My parents forced me to go.)

3/4/11

Wolfiez Premium Beef Jerky {A Personal Testimony}


Anybody who knows me well knows that I do NOT eat steak. Crazy, isn't it? I never have liked it. Even jerky. Won’t touch it, won’t buy it, just DON’T like it. Well, until now that is.

I impulse bought a bag of Brown Sugar and Habanera because I heard some friends raving about Wolfiez Beef Jerky. Kind of dumb I would order JERKY when I know I don’t like it-but I wanted to try it to see what all the talk was about. If I didn't like it I could just let my son have it or give it away.

I received my order today at 11:50AM. I was really excited, yet hesitant. I know how I felt about steak and jerky in the past so why would this be different? Man was I wrong. I ate a piece of Brown Sugar flavored Jerky and that bag was GONE by 12:00PM. Yes, that’s right, I ate the whole freakin bag. By 12:10PM I placed another order with Wolfiez and I’m already half way through the Habanera.

Soooo…. I just shamelessly admitted how big of a pig I am (a bag and a half gone in just a few hours!) but that is seriously how good this Jerky is. It’s so good that it’s ADDICTING-watch out!

Why am I posting all of this? It would be a disservice to any person (even if you’ve never liked Jerky in the past) if I didn't tell them (YOU) how good this stuff is. My friends talked me into it and I’m SO GLAD that they did. I guess I'm just paying it forward =)

My friends really like Teriyaki flavor, but we ALL also LOVE Brown Sugar (seriously, it’s delicious!). And I have a thing for spicy food so of course, I had to get the Habanera.

Now go order yours. Do it!

Sincerely,

The girl who NEVER liked Jerky. Until she tried Wolfiez.

3/1/11

One Year

A rooftop view of Louisville from my apartment building - taken one year ago.

It’s been one year today. One year of beautiful new friendships. One year of immense personal growth. One year of amazing career opportunities. One year of watching my wonderful son develop from a baby to a little man. One year full of love and happiness with the man of my dreams. One year of adventure and excitement.
Today is the one year anniversary I arrived in Louisville. I remember it like yesterday; driving through the grueling blizzard all night, arriving at my new home, excitement and thrill coursing through my body, hope of a bright future in the palm of my hand.

At my new home March 1, 2010. Thanks again to Chris and Lynds for all of your help!

At this time last year I was job searching like crazy. Simultaneously I searched for a good day care for PJ so that when I landed a job everything would be set. I was unpacking and settling into my new home. I was exploring my new city and all it had to offer. I was a nervous, scared, and sometimes the only thing I could do was cross my fingers and pray that everything would turn out OK; that the decision to start this new chapter in my life was not in vain.
Dave and PJ the morning we arrived.

Dave and PJ the night we arrived.

What's going on just a year later? On March 12th 2010 (just two weeks after arriving in Louisville) I landed a great job at an insurance agency and found PJ a great home daycare to boot. I’ve been happily employed in the insurance industry since-even scoring my Insurance Agents License after passing the dreadful state exam! PJ has been at a new wonderful daycare center learning and growing each day for the last 7 months. I have my own cozy apartment (having moved from renting the a basement of a home). I am in school and worried about the Sociology essay due tomorrow- but so thankful that I’m finally a STUDENT! I have months of memories stored in my heart of wonderful times spent with Dave and other amazing people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting here.
My right hand man (err, I mean woman) for the majority of my time here in Louisville.Miss you, Ash!
My life is an amazing one. The waves of unknown and opportunity wash upon the shores of my life. As I walk lightly on the sand, through all chapters of my life, I simply feel blessed and am thankful for each new day.


Thank you for taking part of this journey with me. May there be MANY more rants, stories, random thoughts, and exciting news to share in the weeks, months, and years to come!