Friday, February 26, 2010

Passport Woes

Ah, the pleasures of obtaining a US Passport. Lucky for me, my daughter's application and passport were processed quickly and without a problem. When mine said it was still processing, despite my daily checking in the system-I had that feeling in the pit of my stomach that something was indeed wrong.

Well, turns out I was right. Apparently, this country loves me so much they have decided to keep me here. Or at least throw a wrench in the process of applying for my passport. I got a nice thick envelope in the mail today. No return address, so I was debating whether to open it or toss it. The curious part of me was thinking that it might have been something from Publisher's Clearing House or some other agency telling me that I had won a car, cash or something definitely good :) So I opened it.

And lo and behold, found a nice letter from Passport Services asking me to prove my identity. Apparently my birth certificate was not enough. I got paperwork to fill out with every address I have ever lived at, every job I have ever done (with supervisor's name to boot!) when I left the country, when I returned to the country and the blood type of my firstborn just kidding on the last part, but Good Lord, I have no idea why they want all this info!

I called them, and they really couldn't give me a reason. Just to send in proofs of my identity using items older than 5 years. I cannot believe they expected me to come up with stuff from years ago...guess I am sort of lucky I don't throw much out. But for the average person, this really is a daunting task since I know SO many people who toss stuff once it gets old. (and for them, that might be stuff that they got last week!)

I have to admit, I am a little freaked out about why the extra scrutiny for a 44 year old white woman who doesn't have a criminal record and has never gotten a traffic ticket in her whole life. It's got me wondering if maybe someone, somewhere, is using my SSN or other ID in a case of identity theft. So for that reason, I am going to pull my credit reports. And see if I can find anything suspicious. If I do, I will end up finding that person, knocking on their door, or showing up at their place of employment and having their ass arrested.

My 8 year old is upset, since she thinks I can't go to her party now-and my hubby is totally bummed as well. But I told them not to cancel their trip, if this doesn't get resolved in time. I've got until June, so I hope I can get it taken care of by then. Hopefully all the information I will be sending them on Monday will get this resolved and my passport will be on its merry way soon enough. I'm sure glad I didn't wait until the last minute, though. I will keep you all updated! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Technologically Imperfect...

It seems there just isn't hope for a perfect email program... one that makes sure you get ALL the mail you need, keeps your subscriptions up to date, and filters out anything with content about Viagra or penis extensions.

In my imagination, there is a little elf sitting inside my computer sorting my emails according to priority and ensuring that everything I truly want to read will make it to my desktop before I can hit the delete button. Sure, he may stop for a brief pause as he takes a sip of his coffee or he might hit the wrong button from time to time. I mean, no one is perfect. Not even that little elf sorting my emails.

But lately, that little elf has been on vacation. And as you all know from your own experiences, when you get a new postman that fills in life just isn't the same. Over the last week, I had about 1500 pieces of unread email. No problem for my perfectionist elf, but a bit of trouble for his fill-in.

Outgoing messages have ended up in cyber space someplace, my subscriptions to blogs (which I used to get DAILY mind you) have now dwindled down to a precious few, with the majority of ones stopping around the 8th or so. At first I thought it was strange that Blog X didn't have any new postings for awhile, but when I went to the site and saw that indeed they had posted that very day I began to wonder what was going on.

Now my MSN email program has been reliable and dependable for quite a few years. I've grown comfortable with it, and it has served me well. So this obvious glitch somewhere has made me a little unsettled to say the least. I knew something was up several months ago, when one of my friends had been emailing and posting to a board we belong to, and I never saw any of her posts. Then, just last week, her posts started appearing again right out of the blue.

Obviously the little elf was having some trouble. Now while he may be munching on cookies and drinking a hot toddy inside my processor, I'm left to wonder if my email arrived and if I am actually still subscribed to many of these sites. Perhaps he pulled a fast one, after being laden down with too many emails to handle, and instead started bouncing them back to the sender faster than a check without funds. And those automated senders decided to unsubscribe me from their list...

I guess that's the problem with technology nowadays. It is fast, and convenient. But when it messes up, watch out! We've become accustomed to having things ready at the push of a button, and the days of long ago when we had to actually WAIT for that check in the mail or that birthday card from our favorite uncle are almost obsolete. Heck, why wait when your uncle can send you an e-card with an e-certificate attached for immediate shopping.... and checks, well, direct deposit is the way to go in today's society.

So amidst the hiccups and the burps of technology (or too many hot toddies) we end up depending on something that isn't foolproof. I apologize for those that think I unsubscribed them, or had their emails bounce back, or never received my message. I'm still wading through a few hundred messages, and I may still find yours in the meantime. Working a FT job outside the home doesn't leave me lots of time to get things done as fast as I should. But my seasonal layoff is coming up, and with that comes more computer time. And more time just to figure out what the heck that little elf has been doing. Bear with me as I delve into the realm of the unknown, and try to figure out what's been going on. In the meantime, thanks for your patience!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

57 Random Bits of Information About Me

Genesis over at Expatmom recently did a 57 Random Bits of Information About Me post that I found pretty interesting and fun to read. I'll be meeting her when I go to Guatemala this summer, and at least now I know more about her than I did before ;) So I decided I'd have fun and do a post on my blog as well, so that my readers could find out more about me. Have fun reading everyone!

1. I was an avid reader as a child-and now my favorite genre is Erotic Horror. (like the Hot Blood Series of books with short stories) Nothing like scary and a little spice added in for good measure!

2. I have been married 3 times. My first husband was American, we were young and I wanted to leave my house, lol. Second husband (and my son's dad) is Guatemalan. And my hubby #3 is also Guatemalan, and dad to my 8 yr old daughter.

3. I absolutely freak out over spiders-I am scared to death of them.

4. I love writing, and have always wanted to write a book. I've started one so many times (horror and sci-fi genres) but it always gets set aside due things happening in life :(

5. I'm a clutter magnet. I tend to put off housecleaning/dusting because I am allergic to dust, and only make things worse later on down the road when it becomes NECESSARY to do it---and I am usually a weepy, red eyed sneezing mess by the time I am through.

6. Growing up, I wasn't allowed to have friends in my house. I think it was because my grandmother was ashamed because we didn't have much.

7. I have gained ALOT of weight since I had my daughter, and am having a hard time losing it.

8. I've been married 12 yrs now and haven't met my hubby's parents and most of his family. But that will change in a few months when I go to Guatemala. I'm terrified to meet his son and daughter by his first marriage, though.

9. My favorite color is blue. In the 80's, I loved to wear turquoise and fuchsia colored clothing.

10. High school dances were boring to me-I was used to going to Canada on weekends and loved staying up until 3 am at the disco dancing and then going out to eat afterward with friends. I wouldn't get to sleep until around 6 am!

11. My favorite drinks are a frozen stawberry Margarita, Singapore Sling and Sex on the Beach. And also my homemade Vodka Slush.

12. That being said, I only drink once or twice a year now. Any more than that, and I get a migraine. Or sick. Or both.

13. I didn't go to my 25th High School reunion last year because I was ashamed of the way I looked. I was thinner in school, and would have had a hard time dealing with any negative comments.

14. I absolutely despise the winter cold and snowy weather. Years ago, I enjoyed it or at least didn't mind it. But now, I could very much do without it!

15. I was city spelling bee champion when I was younger and in middle school. My mother still has the article that made the front page, lol.

16. I love scary movies. My kids have been watching them for years now-I generally don't restrict what they watch on TV (bad mommy!) except for the sex scenes. We love zombie movies, especially the Day of the Dead classics by George Romero. I really don't care for the slasher type of movies.

17. I tend to dwell on conspiracy theories, disaster movies or prophecies, and stuff like that. It's tough living with a feeling of impending doom most of the time, and I want to prep more for those "What If" situations. I'd probably be happy as a clam in a bunker someplace with 10 years of food and necessities for family and friends. (think of shows like Jericho for example, THAT is what I expect our future to hold)

18. Languages come easily to me. I often hope to be able to learn more French or perhaps Portugese soon. I'm already fluent in Spanish.

19. I have a couple close friends, but I am very content spending time at home with my computer playing games, reading blogs or checking out Facebook and MySpace.

20. My favorite type of music is Latin music. I love bachata music. I used to work with a Dominican guy named Eugene (Eugenio) when I first moved to RI and he introduced me to the classic bachata artists since we were able to listen to music at work. He even showed me a few dance steps too ;)

21. If something happened to my mother, I would not have any other immediate family in the area. I probably would not stay here in Maine, too many memories.

22. While I love my son dearly, I am very disappointed with his poor choices in life. I have hope that one day he will change, but I am satisfied knowing I have done all I could.

23. I have the bad habit of biting my fingernails, and sometimes even the skin on my fingers. Totally gross, but hard habit to break.

24. I sleep on an 80's style king sized waterbed and love it!

25. I've got four cats, one is handicapped and has been since he was a baby.

26. I love chocolate, and Butterfinger and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups top the list.

27. I was a natural blonde as a kid, since then my hair has darkened to a lt brown.

28. I eat out fast food WAY more than I should, hence big weight gain.

29. While I love Chinese food, my favorite things to eat are tacos, nachos and tamales. Oh and Guatemalan chile rellenos, I love Guatemalan food but can't cook it.

30. While art never appealed much to me when I was younger, I am now wanting to decorate my walls with beautiful prints and photos.

31. I've only read the first Twilight book. I have plans to read the rest, when I get the time.

32. I absolutely cannot stand backstabbers. Unfortunately, I happen to know too many of them for my own good.

33. I have the same blue colored eyes as my dad had. My mom's eyes are brown.

34. I've worked as a waitress, data processor, headhunter (job agency), receptionist, translator and secretary or in the clerical field. Never attended college, except for a few classes here or there-we just were too poor :(

35. I graduated in the top 10% in my class with honors all 4 years, and probably SHOULD have gone to college!

36. I don't wear makeup that much anymore. If I do, I like a little blush, some black eyeliner and some lipstick or gloss. I always use facial cream though, just now it is anti-aging stuff!

37. I use credit cards way more than I should!

38. I really want to live a much simpler life, even if that means cutting back quite a bit from what I have now. I'm thinking "Less is More" in the long run.

39. I love going to craft fairs in my area, and shopping on Etsy.

40. Every year I get a couple terrible colds that develop into sinusitis. I'm currently suffering from cold #2 right now.

41. I'm not addicted, but enjoy watching Spanish novelas. (with hubby to boot!)

42. I don't smoke, although I did go through a stage in junior high when I thought having a cigarette dangling from my mouth made me cool :)

43. My front yard looks like a junkyard. We currently have 4 Toyota trucks hubby is fixing and sending to Guatemala to sell. I call it his Toyota project, lol.

44. We grow a garden each year and have for the past several. Last years garden was awful, as the tomatoes got blight and had to be disposed of.

45. I killed a brand new top loading washing machine on the second load by filling it too full. Not a fun experience and only something I could do, I'm sure!

46. I have a 3-4 inch scar on my right forearm after I had surgery back in 1999, and I still don't have proper range of motion with that arm after all these years.

47. I'm secretly jealous of crafty people, I so wish I could make the things they do! But nothing I ever make comes out right...

48. In the summer, I like to sit outdoors on the front porch and relax in the evening. No sound of crickets here though, just crazy neighbors.

49. I like to listen to the sound of the rain pounding on the roof, and go outside after a fresh rain and breathe in deeply. Everything smells so fresh and renewed.

50. I don't like gas stoves, cooking over the open flame really scares me.

51. I was a tomboy when I was younger, and most of my close friends were guys. My son's godfather is one that I've been friends with since childhood. In hubby's culture, it is hard for him to accept that you can be "just friends" with a guy and not have anything ever happen between you.

52. I used to collect comic books as a kid, and my mom still has my collection in her attic. (I used to love Archie!)

53. My friends used to have me write poetry for them during high school when we were all lovestruck teens :) I also used to write funny poetry about people that we knew, and sometimes it wasn't all that nice :( but they never saw it thankfully.

54. As I get older, I am finding out that I have a lot less patience.

55. I get burned badly from the sun because of my light complexion...imagine a cooked lobster-my face gets as bright as that or redder unless I put on sunscreen.

56. I'm addicted to my Saturday night SyFy movies-and get upset when I am not home to watch it.

57. Although I may get frustrated at times with my life, I'm at a point now in my life where I am actually happy for the first time in many years.

Phew! That was exhausting. I found it hard to come up with 57 Things About Me that people would want to know, lol. Give it a try on your blog, and be sure to let me know so I can come and read all about you!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Father Daughter Dance February 13, 2010

Deja is in second grade this year, and loves going to the annual Father-Daughter dance with daddy. They had a great time and she was very impressed that Daddy dressed up this year. (last time he went he was dressed in his work clothes, and I think they both were embarrassed a bit after seeing other Daddies dressed up in suits)

They had a great time, and had their photos taken while there-which I scanned and put onto my computer for all of you to enjoy. Deja loved her red dress, corsage and the whole event. Proms, Homecoming and Sadie Hawkins dances will be here in a few years, and I definitely need to be ready!

I'm back to feeling a little under the weather today from yet another cold and probably another sinus infection in the works too. I'm sick of being sick, lol! Enjoy your week everyone! Sorry for the poor quality scanning, didn't feel like adjusting them to fit and they were already matted and didn't want to mess with that either. (I get lazy when I'm sick!)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Just wanted to wish you all a Happy Valentines Day!

Hope you enjoyed the day with those you love, and remembered those that have passed on.

I spent today with hubby and my daughter. First, we went to eat at a Chinese restaurant with some friends from a group that I belong to. We had a great time, and it was fun seeing everyone after postponing the last few meetings due to illness, schedules, or snowstorms. There are still a few members that couldn't make it due to health or other issues, and our thoughts were with them today as well.

After gorging on chicken fingers, crab rangoons and pork fried rice we headed up to the Bangor Mall so my daughter could make a stuffed animal at the local Build A Bear Workshop. Lucky for her, she got the last pink multicolored bear they had in the store and was able to make "Valentina" her cute little ice skating bear. Lucky for me, I had a $12 off any animal coupon that expired today, lol. We also went to Old Navy where I had one of those awesome $50 off $100 coupons and we were able to get some great deals on clothing due to their clearance sales.

On the way home, we stopped off at Staples and hubby got an 8GB memory card for his new digital camera, which was a freebie since I had a gift card I'd won awhile back. All in all, it was a great day-but tiring. As I write this, hubby is in bed snoring so loud he could wake up the neighbors if I had the windows open. Deja is on my laptop enjoying her Build a Bearville virtual world with her new animal and my son and his girlfriend are upstairs eating pico de gallo my son made with some nachos. I'm waiting for a scary movie to come at 9 from the SyFy channel, and plan on going to the cemetery tomorrow to visit my dad. I'd wanted to go today with my mom, but I had to head North about an hour away to get to the meeting and the mall.

Hope you all are enjoying today and I'm sending Valentine wishes and happy thoughts your way!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Reflections on Life

My husband is falling apart. Now granted, he has worked all his life. The man didn't have the luxury of going to school and goofing off, spending time with friends and all the natural kid and teen stuff most of us experience.

His life as the eldest boy in the family consisted of going to help his mother and older sister in the fields, growing vegetables and fruits and selling them in the market to make a living. At around 6 he was carrying 100 lb. bags of beans on his back, which weighed more than he did! But if he didn't help out, his younger siblings would go hungry-so the pressure was always on to work from sunup to sundown, to provide for his family.

At almost 40, he has worked most of his life and wishes he could retire. His body aches, his bones are tired. He still does a labor intensive job, cleaning floors at the local supermarkets, working nights while I work days. His shoulder, his knee, and his feet all ache but he doesn't complain much. When he does complain, I know the pain has to be pretty darn bad since he has a very high threshold to pain and is much more tolerant than my wimpy self.

You hear so much about child labor in other countries, and it is so sad that children must give up an education in order to work to put food on the table. I was lucky in the fact that although we were poor, I lived with my grandparents and my mom-and they made sure I had an education first, and wouldn't allow me to work until after I'd graduated so nothing would interfere with my studies. Before I met my husband, I often griped about how I grew up. But now, looking back, I realize that I was much better off than many others in the world.

Even today, given the economy in our own country, families are facing extreme poverty, homelessness and hunger. On my recent trip to San Francisco last October, I happened to see a couple of homeless people down in the Embarcadero area. I felt so guilty sitting there eating a huge Kobe beef burger and watching hubby chow down on a Dungeness crab meal at a swanky restaurant while others were going hungry and foraging for food in the trash cans.

I am trying to teach my children to stop and take a look around. They have food, they have clothes, they are warm. There are many who don't have even these necessities on a daily basis. My hope is that by keeping them aware of just how lucky they are that they have these basic necessities they will realize that another stuffed animal or video game in addition to the many they already have is not a need, but a WANT, and certainly not a priority. So many times I have heard, "But I NEED it!" when in fact it should be "I WANT it!" Teaching them the difference between needs and wants is not always easy, but definitely a necessary fact of life. This is another reason I want to have my daughter visit Central America, so that she can see the extreme poverty, the children on the street begging, the shacks they live in. She has never seen that, and I feel it will do her good to open her eyes to other cultures, and other parts of the world that live in poverty.

Life can be harsh, life can be cruel. It can be easy or it can be difficult. Given opportunity, one can rise above the obstacles and make something of themselves. Or they can sink and wallow in self-despair. The stones that we encounter on our daily path in life can be a learning experience, or they can throw us into a downward spiral. We can live life to the fullest, or barely get by living life at all. We can have sunny, pleasant attitudes or attitudes that are dampened by dreary gray clouds that follow us around always hanging overhead...or maybe we can even be somewhere in between the clouds and the sun.

I've known rich people who were miserable, and dirt poor people that were happier than ever. Life is what we make of it, true happiness comes from within. So you may not have everything you want in life, maybe you never will. But look around you and cherish what you DO have. Be proud of what you have accomplished, and what goals in life you have completed. Don't sulk for the things you DON'T have but smile instead for the things you DO have. Trust me, in time you will be a much happier person. Live for today, dream about tomorrow, but take the time to appreciate life NOW.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Party Fit for a Diva

I now think that I have an idea of what it will cost to marry off my daughter. And I honestly hope I win the lottery before that day happens. If I don't, I think that I will have to mortgage my house...a second time.

It doesn't help that she watches the My Sweet 16 show on MTV with her brother. Now, I have to admit, those kids are lucky. Money, cars, huge parties, designer dresses, and famous recording artists performing at their parties. My kids sit there mesmerized with their eyes as big as saucers watching the amazing parties these rich kids get for their birthdays.

Then they look at me. My son when he was younger even asked me if he was swapped at birth. (too many Lifetime TV movies back in the day) Now I remember the exact moment I spit that kid out, a little over 17 years ago. I can even recall asking the doc to add a few extra stitches for good measure, lol. Once he realized that Bill Gates wasn't his real father he knew the only Sweet 16 he'd be getting from me is the 16 dollar bills in his birthday card. At my house, they were lucky if they got a Happy Meal and a present. lol. Seriously though, with both kids birthdays in the winter time, I don't have the advantage of a huge outdoor party like some of you do. And I shudder to think what an army of kids would do in my house, I've already got four cats, 2 kids, a girlfriend, a baby, and a grown man-baby (aka hubby) to clean up after.

I now have an 8 year old diva on my hands. I should have known I was in trouble when she was about four and would stop and gaze in the windows at the local jewelry store and point out her favorite diamond rings. At 6 she was rummaging through my jewelry box picking out the fakes from the real thing. (and there were a lot more fakes than the real deal!)

We've been pretty lax on getting her baptized... we are both Catholic, but not churchgoers. We'd wanted to do so, but her aunt (and chosen Godmother) had gone back to Guatemala before I could convince my husband that he wasn't going to burn if he set foot in a church. When he came back from Guatemala and told me that he was the Godfather of his sister Lety's newest baby boy, AND that he had gone to a church, well, I started making the plans.

In Guatemala, the exchange rate is about 8 dollars their money for one of our dollars. Since I'd never been to Guatemala, and learned that life was short this past year after losing my grandmother and father, I decided the time had come. I booked our plane tickets and started making plans. Deja and I have never been, and have never met most of hubby's family, including his parents, who aren't getting any younger.

We started planning a party, along with her Baptism for our last weekend there. My Diva immediately began searching online for her perfect white dress, shoes, and floral headpiece. You would have thought she was planning her own wedding. And I can't forget the pearls... she has a pearl necklace that she wants to wear as well. REAL pearls, people-none of the Dollar Store kind for this kid. We went up to JC Penney yesterday and saw a few white holiday dresses that were very pretty, but at $50 each, they weren't expensive enough for her tastes. I guess the next stop is a bridal shop or a specialty store down in RI when we visit next month. She also likes the one that I have put at the top of this post, so we might go with that one online and take it to a seamstress for any nips or tucks needed.

Rather than renting out a hall, her uncle built a huge new house and it will be there that we will have the party. In speaking with hubby, and asking him about how many people will be attending, he nonchalantly says, "Oh, probably about 300 or so." Now I have to get invitations (worded in Spanish of course) and money has been sent to reserve the food. Lucky for us, she has lots of aunts and a grandmother who love cooking. Carne asada, rice, beans, salad ,tortillas and tamales will be served along with lots of beer, punch, and Lord knows what else. Uncle Mauricio is a DJ on the side, so dancing will most likely go well into the night. And Deja has requested a five level PINK cake-which I will have to look into once I get there and check out the bakeries. I've found a few bakeries in Guatemala City that make the cakes above.

If this is only her Baptism party, I can imagine what her 15th birthday will be like. (FYI, Hispanic girls have a traditional coming out party on their 15th) And her wedding most likely will be an even grander affair. Hubby spent a few thousand when his daughter (now 19) celebrated her 15th birthday a few years back.'s only just begun. I'd write more, but I'm headed to the store to buy a Powerball ticket and a few scratch offs...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

On the mend!

Just a brief note to let ya'll know that I haven't keeled over from my sinus infection. Actually, I have been on the mend the last couple of days (knock on wood, lol.)

Work has been super crazy as we are slowly winding down to the end of the season but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Deja's been busy trying to sell cookies for her school fundraiser, and it looks like I will have enough frozen cookie dough to fill my freezer downstairs! Geez, I guess maybe I oughta get this kid into retail...

My housework is suffering and my dirty clothes are heaped into a huge pile in the laundry room. It appears I have a date with the hamper this weekend :) The first of many, I'm sure.

It's been cold, so cold that even the cat next door has come in through the pet door in the cellar to warm himself in the comfort of my kitchen while dining on delicious food and treats meant for my four cats. I can't believe that this cat has the balls to come in through the basement pet door, walk up the stairs, and across the kitchen floor into the bathroom where the pet food dishes are and begin to eat completely oblivious to the fact that my four cats are staring at him, I am staring at him, and my husband is ready to whack him with the broom to get him the heck out of our house.

I've thought about going next door and telling the woman to pay up, since this cat has been sneaking in for over a year now as an uninvited dinner guest-however, after observing her drinking and dancing while singing along with her Credence Clearwater Revival album at 3 am on one of my trips to the bathroom this past weekend I decided against it. She is a bit...odd. But she keeps to herself, unlike prior tenants.

I will hope to get another post or two up for the weekend...but in the meantime, thanks for all the comments, it was great reading them all!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 wants to make you smile this Valentine's Day with a fancy new heart-shaped keychain. Angie at 5 Vinez Monkeys is giving away winner's choice of keychain to 3 of her readers. Make the one you love smile today! Stop by before 11:59pm ET on February 12th and enter to win!