Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Finding a Place to Call Home

When I moved back to Bryan four years ago, I never thought it would take so long to feel connected again within my own community. I attributed much of this to my telecommuting, not feeling like I “clicked” at church and a constant feeling of being overwhelmed with all of the changes in my life. I thought since I wasn’t working outside the home, the next best thing would be to volunteer. I searched for what seemed to be forever for something that felt right. I was amazed at how difficult it was to find a volunteer opportunity. I was floored when I was once told for a church function that they had too much help. No offer to put me on a list and keep me in mind for next time, no offer to direct me to another area I might be able to help. Just a no, which quite frankly surprised me. In all of my volunteer efforts at my old home church and the areas I used volunteers at work, I would NEVER turn down help. I also received some weird comments when I decided to help with a fundraising event at the church school. Committee Member(CM): “What grade is your child in?” Susanne: “She isn’t in school yet.” CM: “Why are you helping?” Susanne: “Just because I wanted to.” CM: “Oh, really, hmmm, interesting.” Word got around I didn’t have a child in the school and from then on, once again, I just didn’t seem to fit.

Things just started to click sometime late last year. I joined a Bunco group with a great group of ladies, I started volunteering at the hospital as a Eucharistic Minister, I began to work with HelmsBriscoe and I finally found a place to call my volunteer home, The Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley. In January I began serving on the Board of Directors. It is a great group of people who really want to see the Museum thrive. In addition to a terrific Board, I have also had a chance to interact with a fantastic staff. These people are totally dedicated to ensuring the children in our area have a safe, interactive, affordable place to learn all while having fun. They work on a shoestring of a budget, often times well over 40 hours a week, but always seem to find some way to put on terrific programs for kids. The best part is that I am able to use my fundraising and event planning skills which makes me extremely happy.

So I guess the purpose of this post is two-fold. 1) Don’t give up when you are trying to find “your place.” Although it was frustrating, all of the things I tried led me to where I am today, a place I feel “at home.” 2) You will be seeing posts from me about upcoming events and fundraising efforts. The Museum has the potential to grow and offer more exhibits and interactive events for kids of all socioeconomic levels, but we can’t do it alone, we need your help. Of course, I would love for all of you to buy a duck for the Great Texas Duck Derby, but just as important as financial help, is your help to spread the word about the Museum. If you haven’t been to the Museum in a while, drop by for a visit. Make sure you check out our new, interactive website at www.cmbv.org. Become a fan on Facebook (The Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley) so you can participate in some of our exciting contests we will be launching this week. Even if you are from out of town, take part, I can always mail a prize or personally deliver it! ;)

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Frosty's Butt "n" Nose

Lindsey has been very busy practicing for her Mother’s Day Out Christmas Program. Her class will be singing Frosty the Snowman. For the most part, we practice in the car so I don’t get the full affect of the performance. The other day though, she was practicing with John. As they were singing, John noticed she kept patting her butt and then her nose. He finally asks what she is doing. “Dad, the song says he has a butt and a nose, so butt (slaps butt) “n” nose (taps nose.) And I thought we were going to have to explain the corncob pipe! We can’t wait to see the performance. :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween!!

Last night after we went to vote, we visited a local favorite for delicious Mexican food. I wish I could tell you what it is called, but I have no idea. I just know it as “the little taco place on the corner.” Lindsey loves is because there is always music playing and at the same time Telemundo is blaring on the TV, there are parrots hanging from the ceiling and she gets chips and salsa. We love it because it is delicious food at really inexpensive prices. The only drawback is that no one speaks English, which really isn’t a problem unless you want to try something new on the menu and you can’t read Spanish. Anyway, I have taken the long road to get to my point, but seriously if you are in town and want to stay away from crowds, call me and I will take you for some tacos.

Lindsey loves the jukebox in this place. She loves to push the button and make the cd’s move around. Yesterday was one of those, “I am going to test Mommy all day and see exactly how much I can get away with” days. She begged for money to put in the jukebox and I kept refusing. Then she gets really quiet. I find her under the table looking in her purse she just happened to bring with her. She opens up the Barbie wallet and pulls out a dollar. “That’s okay Mommy, I have my own money.” I wish you could have seen it, the hand on the hip, the way her mouth was all squished together. Surely I am not the only mom to get the squishy mouth?? I almost laughed out loud. So she proceeds to put the money in, make her selections and provide us with a delightful show of dancing and trying to sing along with the Spanish words.

Her fascination with the Dukes of Hazzard continues. She walks around singing, “Just a good old boys, never meanin no harm.” She loves to say Roscoe P. Coltrain (sp) and tell me he is bad news. It was parent’s day at dance this week. If I can figure out how to get the video off my phone I will post it. Oh, who am I kidding, I still have three years of video trapped on my real video camera that I don’t know how to post yet. We also made treat bags for her classmates at school. Oh my goodness, you should have seen their faces. It was like gold was being brought in. The jabbering started instantly. I saw stickers, I saw M&M’s, can we have them now? Poor Ms. Marian, she had a long day.

This week has been challenging. Our schedule has been wacky and she has not gotten enough sleep. She is a dramatically different child on not enough sleep, just as I am a dramatically different Mom on not enough sleep. This by no means is an excuse to behave badly, just an explanation of why it is happening and it makes me feel terribly guilty that I let her stay up and carve pumpkins or that we got home late from running errands and there was no nap. Although the time change seems crazy, I can’t wait because it means John is back to getting off at 6 pm. So instantly we are an hour ahead of schedule! Dinner at 6:30, bath at 7, Dad and Lindsey can play and we are ready to head to bed at 8. We all need this, not just Lindsey. I need a few minutes of down time to myself. I so miss reading for myself. I am ashamed to say how long it took me to finish “Big Russ and Me.” I want to start my next book and not have it take me three months to finish it. Another goal is to start exercising in the morning again. Late night running kills me as I am wired for sound afterwards. Working out in the morning worked for many years, there is no reason I shouldn’t be able to get up 30 minutes earlier and incorporate that back into my routine. This is where having a workout partner would be really helpful. Hey, if anyone is up at 6 and wants to give me a call each morning to kick start the program let me know!

Guess that is it. I need to save my energy so I can complete the Cat in Hat costume this evening. ;) Another busy weekend ahead. Happy Halloween everyone!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Busy, Busy

Goodness, it has been a busy couple of weeks and yes, the other morning it was so chilly I actually had to put a light jacket on!! Of course, I am back to shorts this week, but we are making progress! It is kind of hard to even remember what happened over the past few weeks, but here goes. (I really have to start keeping my journal again!)

We have been pretty busy at work, so busy that I have been out in the shop working. I know, desperate times call for desperate measures. My skills are expanding, but my outside shop skills are still pretty much limited to cleaning, edgebanding, moving materials around and I am the master of painting fabulous door ventilation holes. I will try to take a picture of these things and if any crafty person has suggestions to make this process easier, I would soooooooo appreciate it. I have tried my finger, regular paint brushes, pouring the paint through and currently use small spongy craft brushes. For the love, there has to be a better way!! Anyway, we just completed a store in Grapevine and are ready to move on to the next project.

The past few weekends have been packed. Since returning from my adventure run, on top of our regularly scheduled programming, there has been something every weekend. We celebrated Betty and Ray’s engagement and Ray’s birthday, my brother-in-law Robert’s birthday, went to Ray’s family reunion, celebrated my birthday and hosted the family reunion for my mom’s side of the family this past Saturday. Whew, I am partied out. I am ready for a Saturday where I can just relax!!

Honestly, I guess it is good that it has been busy. I have to admit October is a hard month. I handle most holidays pretty well, but since my Mom passed, there is something about my birthday that always makes me melancholy. (and no, it’s not my advancing age) We were the birthday planners, cake bakers, party shoppers. We both had so much fun doing these things for each other and other family members and now it is just me. I don’t mean to say no one makes my birthday special, because I have an amazing family and friends who do a terrific job of making me feel loved and special. I wish I could explain it, maybe I just sound weird. Maybe it is that she is the one who put me here on this earth and I miss her celebrating with me. I don’t know, but I am hopeful one day this dull ache in my heart will ease.

Speaking of advancing age, I hit 39 this year. Wow, I don’t know how that happened!! Surprisingly, it hasn’t affected me. Some people are so concerned with a number, I am more concerned with how I feel. I think I feel better now than I did at 29, which was an incredibly hard year. I am healthier, I sleep better (most nights), I have a better hair lady, eyebrow lady, eat better and exercise more. So, maybe 39 is the new 29. I know, check with me again next year, when it is actually 40 and we will see how I feel!

And of course, no post is complete with a few Lindsey stories.

Lindsey and I are eating our afternoon snack of yogurt. I was trying a new flavor, Strawberry Shortcake, complete with the little picture of stacked strawberry shortcake. She looks at me and asks, “Is that hamburger flavor?” I guess it does kind of look like a hamburger.

“Mommy, can we go play in the foot puddles?”

As Lindsey is “driving” the forklift with me she honks the horn several times and says, “Hurry up people, we are going to the circus!”

Hope you all have a fantastic week!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Got Dirty, Had Fun, Did Good!

I did all three of these things a few weekends ago, with a strong emphasis on HAD FUN!!!

Several months ago Marti called me and somehow convinced me that we needed to Run the Jailbreak together. I seem to recall something about what a bonding experience this would be and that we would be helping third world countries obtain clean drinking water. It didn’t take too much arm twisting because the bottom line is I would get to see my bestie. And so the training began. I started out so strong, diligently following the Couch to 5K training program. Listening to Suze’s squeaky little voice motivate me as I desperately tried to prepare this old body for the race. Unfortunately, as the temperatures increased, my training decreased. I was running at 9 pm and the temps were still in the 90’s. So somewhere along the way, I would say about week 4 or 5, I got stuck. I still managed to get in runs here or there, but I would have to admit I was ill prepared the Run the Jailbreak.

We are off, for 3.8 miles of adventure! I guess the beauty of adventure racing is that at least there are obstacles that offer a break in the actual running part. (Thank goodness) The first obstacle was a series of hills with a mudpit at the end. Thankfully we watched the wave before us take off and we saw that there was a serious mudpit beyond the last hill. With a little planning we managed to miss that one, however there were about 13 obstacles after that. So we run a little and on to obstacle two, what appeared to be a long ditch full of water and what seriously smelled of poo. Oh well, what is one to do but dive right in, then on to a long stretch of running and then onto another pit full of mud. It was then we approached the lake with the water cannons from which we emerged pretty much soaked from head to toe. It was after this adventure that Marti’s right side met the hard, cold ground. I have to say she is a real trooper because it was a hard hit and I don’t know that I would have wanted to go on. We did however and managed to make it through the Mustang Maze, climb a mountain of hay bales, run through more mud pits and water holes and even climb up the side of the river bank covered in tires. I am sure the last obstacle is Marti’s favorite. She was so graceful as she dove into what we both learned the hard way was a mud pit with a bunch of gravel on the bottom. And then, we were done, crossing the finish line together.

I can honestly say it was one of the most fun things I have done in a long time. Although it was a bit tiring and physically challenging I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I mean when was the last time you threw yourself into a mudpit? Seriously, I spend a good part of my day trying to keep my three year old clean and here I am covered from head to toe in mud!

I learned several things from preparing for and running this race.

1) Set a goal for yourself, even if it is something that you think you can’t do. I never imagined I would ever participate in a race like this or anything that involved running. And although my time wasn’t record setting, I finished and I figure I can only get better.

2) Have a partner to motivate you when you are training and to run the race with. The race would not have been nearly as exciting if I hadn’t had Marti there. I have to admit when we weren’t saying, “Are you serious, we are going to run through that?” or dropping a few choice words, we were laughing.

3) If something like this isn’t on your bucket list, it should be. I think it will be an annual event for the Prison Pirates Running Club, at least I hope it will.

4) If you do a race like this and you have to drive three plus hours home, go ahead and spend the money to get a hotel so you can shower afterwards. Although I changed clothes, I did get a few odd looks when I made my pit stops.

5) I am still working my way up to be a real runner, but if you have a chance, hang out with real runners. We had a few in our group, one of whom won our wave! (Shout out to Joey!) It really is motivating and makes you want to do better.

6) Real runners probably don’t carb load at the Fort Worth Stockyards with Miller Lite, but man I sure had a good time!

7) Have fun! Find something that you enjoy. Although I would probably enjoy relaxing on the beach with a beer in my hand, I really have started to enjoy running. It is peaceful. When I am running, it is just me. I am doing something for myself and I don’t feel bad about it.

Well, I guess that is about it. Oh, wait, the Do Good part. The money raised from this event benefited Sower of Seeds International Ministries and helped drill water wells so people can have clean water to drink. Sad to think that there are people who still don’t have clean water to drink. Happily about 10,000 people helped them not only reach, but exceed their goals. There is another race in May 2011 near Austin. Visit www.runthejailbreak.com if you are interested in signing up. We just might see you there!

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Week of New Things!

Another few weeks have flown off the calendar and a busy few weeks they were. The hottest topic in the Williams’ household is Lindsey starting Mother’s Day Out. I am happy to report that Lindsey LOVES “school.” The night before she started, we picked out her outfit and prepped what we could for lunch. The next morning as soon as I rubbed her back and asked if she wanted to go to school, she was out of bed and ready to go! We managed to eat a little breakfast, brush our teeth and most of our hair and change our clothes. We kissed Daddy and out the door we went. We arrive to the sweetest welcome. Everyone not assigned to a classroom is at the door greeting people and there is fun children’s music playing throughout the hall. Lindsey’s smile was even brighter. We get to the classroom, put away her lunch kit and backpack and sign her in and then without hesitation Lindsey runs in to play. Ummm, hello, it’s me Mom, I am going to need a hug and kiss before I leave. She runs back and provides me with my last snuggle for the next six hours! Don’t cry Susanne, you are a big girl, turn around and walk away, she is obviously fine. I turn to leave, drop the sunglasses and hold the tears until I am safely in the car. As silly as it sounds the tears would not stop. I had to call my bestie Marti to talk my down from my moment. My, oh my, could you imagine what I would have been like if she would have been a screamer like that little boy when I dropped her off (I will address screamers in a moment). Each Tuesday and Thursday since then, Lindsey has excitedly prepared to head to her big girl school and have fun!

We also started dance class last week. The class is fairly small and Ms. Cheryl is very nice and patient and seems to know what she is doing. Lindsey was a little apprehensive, but once the parents left the room she seemed to do ok. The class went well, even though we had a screamer in that class too. Although I think everyone was ready to leave when the hour was up. The screamer was Lindsey’s concern with going back this week. She said she didn’t want to go because “that girl is gonna scream again.” Secretly I was hoping she wouldn’t be there, but I said maybe she was just nervous and I bet it would be fine this week. She was there and although there was less screaming and sobbing, she didn’t really participate with the class.

Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to sound judgmental about screamers, because it is only by the grace of God that mine wasn’t the screamer. I guess I just think that the teachers are the professionals here. I am certain these two children weren’t the first screamers they had. They know how to handle these situations and we as parents, as hard as it may be, need to listen to these seasoned veterans. If they tell you to step out, step out and let them do their thing. Ms. Emily said as soon as the parent leaves the little boy calms down, but it is hard getting the parent out of the door. Oh, I know, I am bad, I shouldn’t say anything at all, but it really is a good lesson in trust and a lesson I will try to keep fresh in my head in case Lindsey is the one with the meltdown next time!

Let’s see, what is new with John? Well, he had a decent month (thank you Lord!) and as always stayed busy at home. I think he felt a little defeated at not being able to clear the clog in the kitchen sink. We tried everything, Liquid Plumber, a plunger and a hand auger with no success. It warranted a trip from not only the plumber, but Brazos Valley Sewer as well. And for the record, it wasn’t the potato salad I put down the disposal. The plumber said it was probably build up about 45 feet down the line at the T in the pipe. He said it just happens in older houses. Of course John probably still thinks it’s my potato salad, but I feel a little better about the whole situation now! A note on hand augers, those little boogers are painful to use. My arm was so sore the next day. If you have the money, just call the plumber right off the bat! Oh and let’s not forget it is dove season. John is busy prepping for some bird hunting and of course the annual guys Deer&Beer Fest.

I completed my first day as a Eucharist Minister at the hospital. Oh my stars, was I a nervous wreck. I was so scared I was going to say the wrong thing or worse drop the Eucharist! My mentor was with me to answer any questions and guide me a bit. I had to read off the card each time as I couldn’t remember the order of everything. The look of thankfulness on the patients’ faces and those of their families were the greatest reward ever. I remember how important this was to my mom when she had to spend so much time in the hospital and how disappointed she was when they didn’t come by. Hopefully this will help make someone’s day better.

I also broke my ban from soda on my 131st day. I had read earlier this summer that Dr. Pepper was going to be celebrating some anniversary by putting real sugar back in the soda rather than high fructose corn syrup. I told everyone if I found this soda, I would have one and help Dr. Pepper celebrate. So, on our last day of vacation, in a small town in the middle of nowhere, I found a can. After dreaming of what this would taste like, with a large dose of guilt, I took a sip. It was well, okay. Not sure what I was expecting, especially since I didn’t drink real soda before I gave it up. I stayed clean for another two weeks and decided to have a diet cherry limeade from Sonic. That was pretty disappointing too. It tasted really bad. So, I am back on the soda free thing and I really am okay with it. However, if I do decide to drink one, I already know that it will be a diet Dr. Pepper with cherry from Sonic. ;)

And let us not forget that in a mere 16 days I will be trying to force this old body to cross the finish line when Running the Jailbreak. I think Marti calculated that there is an obstacle about every ¼ mile. On one hand that is good, but who knows what the obstacles really hold for us. Anyway, say a prayer, cross your fingers, giggle a little, whatever it is you do and hope for the best for us! Honestly I could really care less about the race, the real treat is getting to do this with Marti!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Dog Days of Summer

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to post something that starts with, “My it is so chilly today I needed a light jacket.” Yep, it’s still hot. When I left work the other day the reading in my car was 109. Yikes!!

A few weeks ago we had a fun-filled, somewhat relaxing, almost week of vacation. We set off on our journey on a Thursday evening to meet up with my sister and her family for our annual weekend getaway. We met at a friend’s lake house outside of Huntsville. This year our getaway involved a bunch of nothing. We sat around and enjoyed the cool breezes off the water, we ate, we played pool, we ate, we played Wii, oh did I mention we ate??? We could have fed an army. The menu consisted of hand-cut ribeyes, bbq ribs, hobo dinners, tailpipes, baked beans, potato salad and yummy breakfast foods. I have to brag on myself for just a moment. My nephew Robert, who is pretty low key, not much excites him and rarely expresses wow moments, told me that my chocolate chip pancakes were probably they best pancakes he ever had. Now of course he might have just been trying to be nice, but I think it was sincere. WOW!!!! The highlight of this leg of our journey for Lindsey was the neighbors dog Belle. If she could have hidden her in her suitcase I know she would have!

On Sunday we packed up and headed to The Villages at Flint to meet MiMi and Ray-Ray. Our schedule included more nothing, tossed with mini-golf, lots of swimming and a waterpark visit, reading and my new favorite game shuffleboard. Have you played this, the one on the ground with long poles and pucks? (not sure of the terminology) It was a blast and I can’t wait to play again. I think I liked it so much because it is one of the few games that John didn’t immediately pick up and beat me instantly. The trip to the waterpark was fun, but definitely still a lot of work with a three year old. Lindsey and I both are not fans of the big bucket that fills up and dumps out on you every five minutes. Maybe I should have just known this was going to happen, but my Mommy radar must have been malfunctioning and I was barely able to grab Lindsey’s arm before she was almost completely knocked down by the force of the water. One of the highlights of my trip was actually being able to read for more than two minutes at a time without falling asleep. I started Tim Russert’s Big Russ and Me. This book is amazing and in my opinion a must read. It is a book of how life used to be, a book of family values, basically of book of common sense. Thanks to my Mimi for sending this my direction.

We ended our trek with a quick trip to Nacogdoches for lunch with Aunt MaryAnn and Uncle Bo-Bo. We had a great visit and marked the second highlight of Lindsey’s trip, Aunt MaryAnn and Uncle Bo-Bo’s rat terrier Little Bitty. Lindsey fell in love the moment she saw her with a delighted squeal and a “She looks like Sissy!” I am certain Bitty was ready for us to leave when we did as she is not used to that much activity! Then back to reality and a big load of laundry!

It was so nice to be off for a few days and just relax. No real plans, just play it by ear. That is usually pretty hard for me, so all in all I would say I did okay. I love the fact that we were able to drive through some beautiful Texas backroads and enjoy the scenery. My dream is to drive to Yellowstone or the Redwoods. Maybe it is because we never went many places growing up that this sounds so appealing. I was blessed with a job that allowed me to see a lot of places, but it was always fly in fly out for the most part. The load up the car, stop at the rest stop for a sandwich and drive until you just can’t go any longer is what I want. I know, I know most of you think I am crazy. When this actually happens I will make sure to report back!

Have a great week!