English Friday: Zombie Author

Y’all. I’m a total zombie today and can’t think straight. Fell asleep around 11 PM and woke up at 245 AM. I’ve been awake ever since – save for the cat nap I took on the couch for about 45 minutes at 7. No English Friday today, friends. 

In more exciting news, we’re taking family pictures tomorrow. Let’s hope I get better sleep, or I at least have good enough makeup to hide these bags under my eyes. 😎

English Friday: No Words

It is rare that you will find me speechless.

I majored in English in college. I thrived on writing papers and would rather research and write a ten-page paper over taking a one hour final any day of the week. If I had something to say in class, I spoke up. My internship consisted almost solely of writing mini-stories, about 75% of which were about Disney World, and each one had to be unique. I’m not often accused of being quiet. But today I have found myself without many words.

Today there is no funny meme, no pun. I don’t have it in me. Last night, I sat in bed while Señor snored in his blissfully unaware state next to me, and watched horror unfold before my eyes.

I first received a breaking news alert that 10 officers had been shot during a peaceful protest in Dallas. I then read that 4 had been killed, the other 6 injured. The numbers this evening read as follows: 5 officers dead, 7 officers injured, and 2 civilians also sustained injuries. As a veteran LEOgf (Law Enforcement Officer girlfriend) I thought I was used to these stories by now. Typically my heart hurts for a few seconds, I say a prayer for the family, and I go about my day, thanking God for once again keeping my Señor safe. Last night, however, I began to weep. I quietly moved to the bathroom so as not to wake my sleeping LEO, as he had to get up in 4 hours to start his shift. I sat there weeping for the officers, their families, and our blue family. I mostly wept because I knew that in 4 hours, I had to let Señor leave me, to go serve and protect a community that, for the most part, does not respect him or his profession. They do not care if he finishes his shift, tired but alive. They do not care if he comes home to his family. They do not care, and so I wept harder.

By the grace of God, I have been given girlfriends who understand this life, this side of the line. I have been given sisters in blue – near and far – and we have each other to lean on when we do not want to add one more thing to the plate our LEOs are so delicately balancing. Without them, I would surely be lost. As we exchanged desperate messages, “Dallas sisters, please check in when you are able” or just a simple “How are you?”, I received only a modicum of comfort.

Those of us who love a police officer, we have a simple rule: Don’t read the comments. Unfortunately, I get caught up in the comments a lot. I’m a hopeless optimist – I’m always on the lookout for the people who support law enforcement, or at least have a logical & rational way of thinking about situations involving police officers. Over the past 24 hours, I have seen people condoning the attacks on the Dallas officers. I have seen people justify this attack. I have received more breaking news alerts, letting me know that our men & women in blue have been targeted all over the nation today, specifically because of the uniform they have to put on for work. I have seen these things, and I have wept multiple times today.

I do not condone rogue, power hungry, racist police officers. I fully acknowledge that these men & women in uniform exist, and I am here to tell you that we, the majority of the blue family, are not those officers or the people who love them. I am a white female dating a Mexican police officer and we do not condone or respect those people.

Today is a result of hundreds of years of people forgetting how to love, how to be compassionate, and how to forgive.

Today was the hardest day I’ve had yet as a LEOgf, and sadly I have only been in this life for 2 years. Yet, despite this week’s events, I am still an optimist. I have no choice, since my youngest stepson strives to be like his Papi when he grows up, and I have to mend this broken heart someway, somehow, if he is going to one day enter the force.

I beg of you – if you must use your words, choose them carefully. Otherwise, no words are best. Love one another.

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Back in the Saddle

Today I thought to myself, “Self, you should start a blog about being a stepmom,” and then I remembered I have a blog. So, I log into dear ol’ WordPress, and there’s a nice little note for me, right in the middle of my stats page: “It has been almost 2 years since your last blog post.” Hmm. Thanks for reminding me about what a slacker I am, WP. So here I am to give the catch-up version of my life in one blog. Then, if I don’t become #1 Slacker again, I will go into more detail on the things that are actually interesting.

Also – for anyone who read the December Turning 30 edition, no, I am not engaged, yes, I survived turning 30 (Señor surprised me with a night downtown), and now I am enjoying thirtyonederful. 😉

I vaguely remember December 2014. Señor graduated police academy and immediately afterwards, the holidays were upon us. We were also house hunting amidst all of this, getting more time with the kiddos, and BAM. Life came to a halt as Señor and his family had to travel to Mexico for the death of his grandfather. A few short months later, I was let go from my job. About a month after that, we found out we couldn’t buy the house we had seen and fallen in love with. It was SO FRUSTRATING. I have no better words than that: FRUSTRATING. However, instead of letting it get us down, Señor and I pulled ourselves together and brainstormed. We took immediate action to fix what was hindering us from buying a house, and my wonderful in-laws offered for us to move into the house they had bought as a gut-rehab project and had planned on renting out.

The month of May 2015 was a busy one. In the midst of interviewing for jobs, I was spending all available time at the new house, helping get it move-in ready. It was nothing but sub-floors and drywall when I started. At the end of the month, however, we had a shiny new home that we had gotten to put our distinctive personal touches on.

I also started a new job at the end of May 2015, putting me at 3 jobs within 1 year. I wasn’t feeling to great about that. Fortunately, my new job is great, and I have been there for over a year now.

We now have the boys 50% of the time, which means I have a lot more responsibility as woman of the house, especially with the schedule of a police officer. Thankfully, I work from home and have a lot of flexibility to help take care of things in a pinch. The boys are all turning older this Summer/early Fall – they will be 12, 10, and 7 – and I have the mushy-mom-feelings about all of it, especially the 12 year old’s new voice & entering junior high & girls texting him (what?! I swear he was just learning how to read) and the 7 year old going into First grade. Be still my heart.

Our home was broken into Summer 2015, and since then I have been more accepting of owning a handgun (I know, I know. I date a cop). I never saw a need for one, as that is how I was raised, but considering the circumstances that surrounded that experience, I will be prepared to protect my family if there is ever a next time. This is a big change for me, as my entire life I have a been an on-the-fence-leaning-left liberal.

While 2015 saw a lot of changes, 2016 has just been a year from Hell. My grandmother (maternal) fought valiantly but lost her battle to cancer in February. A couple weeks later my father was admitted to the ICU, and was in the hospital until May 11, when he passed away. Currently, my grandfather (maternal) is fighting Stage III lung cancer. He has radiation M-F and the treatment seems to be working, Praise God. I don’t know if our family, especially my mother, can handle a third death, especially of someone so near, dear, and important to so many people.

Currently, I am trying to get my life back in order. It has been weird not spending all of my free time at the hospital or being a road warrior (my family is all 1.5 hours north of me). Can I please tell you how much money I have spent on gas & tolls since October when my grandmother was diagnosed? Oy vey.

We just finished up a full week with the boys – in even years we get to have them for their first week of summer vacation, and then they will spend the next week with their mom. While this “childless” stepmomma needed some peace and quiet restored to her house, it’s a little too quiet right now with Señor being on night shift currently. Aw, shoot, I’ll admit it: I miss those darn kids already.

Well, that is it for now, but I wanted to give this blog a refresh. As the title suggests, I have been bucked off my horse a few times in the past 1.5 years, but I’m back in the saddle and grabbing the reigns once more. I know I’ll end up on the ground again at some point, but for now, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Turning 30: December Edition

While a lot of people make the “30 Before 30” list, I never made one. I have a bucket list that I feel is sufficient and don’t need to add yet another To-Do List to my life.

When I was a teenager, I had everything mapped out, and then this funny thing called Life happened. Basically, I wanted the American Dream: A house, a husband, and 2.4 kids (whatever that means). In Junior High, the BFFO and I actually created little books made out of magazine clippings of what our lives would look like by 30. We created floor plans of our dream houses, and then decorated those rooms. We even added pictures of kids playing outside in our perfectly manicured back yards. I think part of the plan was living next door to each other, too. Clearly, all of this worked out perfectly. (I hope you noted the extreme sarcasm dripping from that sentence. If you didn’t, we probably aren’t friends.)

When I turned 26, I had this mini panic attack. I hadn’t accomplished ANYTHING. I started putting pressure on Señor about marriage and kids. Ultimately, this led to our demise (well, it was partially to blame) and we broke up. After about a week Señor realized he couldn’t live without me because I’m so amazing. Well, that only a half truth. I also read a magazine article about not putting so much pressure on yourself about turning 30 and it’s perfectly fine to not be super accomplished. So, that helped some – because what guy wants to date a neurotic mess?

I digress.

After reading that oh-so-official Glamour article, I lightened up. A little part of me still wanted to be able to be married by 30, but I knew it would be okay if that didn’t happen. As I got a little older every year, I became more okay with it. I met people who had waited to get married, waited to have kids, and it was totally okay. They weren’t social pariahs. They were financially stable. They had traveled. They had acted foolishly. And then, when they were ready to settle down, they did. And, because they had waited, they were happier.

Now here I am on the heels of 30, and I’m so thankful Señor stood his ground and didn’t give in to my neurotic fit of needing to be married ASAP just to appease some social stigma. Instead, we took the time to talk, and both agreed that the most important thing to us is to buy a house. We want something that is ours, which has a yard for Houdini and the kids to run around in, as well as space inside for everyone to retreat to when we don’t want to be near each other. And while this isn’t the most traditional route, and some people may frown upon it, oh well. We know what is best for us. Plus, neither of us can fathom the idea of dropping $20k on a wedding while still living in an apartment.

In the end, when February rolls around and I turn the big 3-0, all I ask is that we’ve started the home buying process. Oh, and for health and happiness and all that good stuff, too.

English Friday: Spell Check

Hello, my dear grammar enthusiasts. I took last Friday off for the Thanksgiving holiday – I hope you did, too! However, I am back with a meme which I hope you find as funny as I did – mostly because of the irony of the error that could have been avoided if they had actually used their beloved spell check. Happy Friday! 🙂

 

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Believe

Once upon a time, I was an intern during my first semester of my last year of college.

I was 25 and staring down 3 more semesters of school before I graduated. One summer day, I sat down at the kitchen table and laid out my entire plan – the courses I planned to take and when I would take them in order to reach that magical 120 hours mark that allows you to graduate. I was going to do an internship during the spring semester, right before I completed some summer school classes that would allow me to graduate. Then I got the bright idea to switch things up – do my internship during the Fall semester and take 18 hours during the Spring semester in order to graduate in May.

I had recently learned that even though I was going to graduate a mere 1 month later – in late June – I wouldn’t be allowed to walk the stage May 2011. I would be forced to wait until May 2012, and no way was that happening. So I decided to cram everything in. Which also meant I needed to find an internship ASAP.

I literally Googled something along the lines of “Chicago internship fall 2010” and the first option was an internship with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois (MAWFI) – they had various internships available. I immediately set forth with my applications, and distinctly remember writing one of my cover letters in the kitchen of the restaurant I was a waitress at in between the lunch and dinner rushes. I wasn’t in a mood to write a cover letter and honestly didn’t care how crappy it was. It was probably my 132nd cover letter and I. WAS. OVER. IT. I threw some witty line in there about being passionate about grammar and priding myself on knowing the difference between they’re, there, and their. I wrote my last paragraph, signed it, emailed it with my resume and called it a day.

Some odd days later I was contacted about coming into the MAWFI offices downtown for an interview. WHAAAAAT! I was interviewing for the position I had written the crappy cover letter for – and yes, they actually read my cover letter. I was mortified/excited that I had an interview based on that!

It was one of those infamous Chicago summer days – 95 and humid. Despite my pants being a rather heavy material, I put on my super cute new interview outfit, Googled my route, and was on my way! A couple hours later, I was in a panic. I was wandering around some neighborhood because the address I had put into Google was unrecognizable for some reason and just sent me somewhere random apparently. (Thanks for that, 2010 Google Maps). It was quickly approaching my interview time and I was lost. So I called the HR guy. I explained what had happened, and that despite giving myself ample time to get to the office, I was going to be late because I was OH SO LOST. He was really nice, asking where I was and then told me what bus I could get on to get there. I showed up 30 minutes late, a sweating frizzy-haired hot mess, and after meeting with the HR guy, I then met with the internship supervisor. After profusely apologizing for my tardiness, she laughed it off, telling me not to worry – she was over 30 minutes late to her own interview there 3 years ago. But before I could tell her I loved her for that comment, she told me she adored my writing. Then, to top it off, she told me her favorite part of my cover letter: “I pride myself on knowing the difference between they’re, there, and their.” Hire me please, just so I can continue to be adored.

And hire me, she did.

I was one of the stewardship interns during the Fall of 2010, which meant I got to write up stories about the Wish Kids after their Wish was complete. People who donate $5000+ have the ability to Adopt-a-Wish. That means their money goes towards a specific wish, which they get to pick out. The story and a picture of the Wish Kid during their Wish is put together in a frame and shipped to the donor as a thank you gift.

Being an intern during the Fall semester meant I also got to witness Wishes during the holiday season. Christmas is such an important holiday for kids, especially ones who are sick. It’s a time for magic and joy and believing in good things. Enter: The Believe campaign by Macy’s. They partner with Make-A-Wish every year during the holiday season and encourage kids (and adults who are still a kid at heart) to Believe by writing letters to Santa. For every letter to Santa that gets dropped off in a special mailbox at Macy’s stores, Macy’s will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, up to $1M. 

I was able to experience all of the goodness that goes on in the MAWFI office even after I finished my internship by becoming a Wish Granter. Due to a hectic schedule I had to go on hiatus, but hope to continue it one day. This letter writing campaign is an easy way to experience that goodness, and be a part of something bigger. I don’t care if you stopped believing in Santa 40 years ago – writing a letter and dropping it off at Macy’s is an easy way to do some good in the world – and help bring a smile to a child’s face. Get your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews in on it, too!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa. Whatever you celebrate, celebrate it even bigger and better this year by giving back.

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Make-A-Wish Foundation

Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois

Macy’s Believe campaign