Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 in Review

January started off as any other month - rough. I was cranky about being single and broke, which I can't blame on Christmas; it just seemed like I couldn't get ahead no matter what I did. Can't say I was looking forward to 2008, I expected it to be just like the years before.

February - still cranky about being single - actually ratcheted it up a notch with Valentine's Day coming. I hated Valentine's Day. Really, I was - for years - a raging bitch between November and February because everything is so "couple" and "family" oriented that it seemed like I was constantly being slapped in the face with my singledom every time I turned around. Add to it that Monster had been acting up at school and finances hadn't gotten any better - I was a PLEASURE to be around. Right up until I threw a temper tantrum a couple of days after Valentine's Day and did a search (again) on Found an interesting profile for RockCrawlinChef so I sent off an eye-contact. He responded positively and we began daily email communication.

March - Monster was still acting up in school and had been suspended for trying to pass off Advil as Vicodin (idiot). Digger and Ashee-butt, along with the daily emails from RCC, helped keep me sane. After emailling almost constantly for six weeks, we decided to meet in person. Less than 24 hours before the face-to-face, Monster told me he was moving in with his dad. He ripped my heart, still beating, right out of my chest. Thank God for RCC; I had offered him an out, told him that my life was a shamble and told him that he probably didn't need all the drama in my life, and yet he still wanted to meet me. Came home from the meeting 5 hours later and Ashee-butt told me I was going to marry him. Silly girl, what was she thinking?

April - I'm twitterpated! No doubt about it. Stick a fork in me I'm done. Done. Don't know what happened, thought I had my heart guarded pretty well, but that damn RCC just rolled right on by my defenses and stole my heart. Took him up to the Lodge to meet the parents, to Denver to meet Staci, to my Defensive Pistol match, introduced him to the herd. Guess that boy's not going anywhere now.

May - Life just keeps getting better and better. In addition to falling in love (yes, I finally admitted it to myself - everyone else had it figured out, I was just a little slow), the equine love of my life, Estes, became mine. Estes is perhaps the only animal I could love more than RCC. He completely understands that because of the canine love of his life, Allie-bird. My baby, Monster, turned 13 and was abducted by aliens (how else do you explain the huge personality change from my sweet little boy to the teenaged Monster?).
June - Estes and I travelled with Mom and Ashee-butt to Salida to Julie Goodnight's ranch to appear on her show, "Horse Master with Julie Goodnight." While I was gone, Monster and his dad got into a big fight and Jim kicked Monster out of the house. RCC, God bless him, drove Monster to Loveland to pick up his stuff from his dad's and helped him move back into my house. Two days after I got home from Horse Master, RCC proposed. Guess Ashee-butt knew something afterall back in March. Wow, can life get any better?

July - Monster was initally a saint when he moved back home, but began to slide back into his old habits and things got a little rough at home, but I handled it a lot better than I had in the past. Just having someone other than Digger and Ashee-butt to talk to about the house drama made a huge difference. RCC, Monster, and I went camping in Wyoming with my friends Angie and Matt; Monster and RCC spent some good quality time together and came back fairly close. Digger and Ashee-butt had been able to spend more time with him than Monster because they still lived with me - Monster kind of had to play catch-up.

August - Time to meet RCC's family in Utah. I don't know what I was most nervous about - meeting his Utah family or a road trip involving his mom, sister, and brothers. Both turned out to be a lot of fun and we came back with a couple of stories and new experiences (sleeping in the Excursion was a new experience for me at least). The kids' dad moved to Arizona; the boys, who don't spend much time with him, are handling it ok. Ashee-butt, on the other hand, is such a Daddy's girl that it's really hard for her. Digger turned 17. Where is the time going? There's no way he should be so close to adult-hood.

September - Monster's having trouble in school again. He had kind of anticipated it considering everything that happened during spring semester with his suspension. School for him started on a positive note, but slowly back-slid. Digger also was struggling - that damn disease of his sometimes controls him, not the other way around. Even though he was scheduled for one on-site class, most of the time he couldn't make it and ended up completely Homebound. We've settled into a routine - even Ashee-butt is getting used to being at home all the time, not just during the week.

October - Because of his situation at school, Monster made the decision to move to Arizona for a "fresh start". Ugh! I tried to talk him out of it multiple times, but he was determined to leave in November. Good luck and God speed. On October 30th, Monster was hit by a car while skateboarding in his aunt and uncle's neighborhood. Perhaps the worst news a mom can hear is, "your son's been hit by a car". No updates on his injuries, just that he's in room so-and-so at PVH. Turned out to be "just" a broken arm. He was lucky. Again, I was reminded how wonderful RCC is and what a help he's been to all of us.

November - Monster moved to Arizona. The house is much quieter, but I miss his energy and wit. The drama has gone with him. I hope he finds what he's looking for in Arizona. RCC, Digger, and I had our first Thanksgiving together (Ashee-butt was visiting Monster in AZ for the holiday). I really could get used to this being in love and having a "complete" family thing.

December - My baby girl turned 16! And got a hole in her nose, that I paid for (what was I thinking?!). Seriously, it's darling, but I can't believe how expensive it is to poke a sharp, pointy object through one little nostril! We had our first Christmas tree in 7 years. Christmas was fabulous and came off without a hitch! Digger finally got the tattoo he'd been wanting. And I fall a little more in love every day.
What's next? Who really knows? What I know is that my life a year ago really sucked and it affected the kids. We are all in a much better position to face the new year. What I do know is that good things can snowball just like bad things can. I never really believed that, but I do now.

The Family Who Inks Together Stays Together

...or something like that. Digger started asking for a tattoo several months ago and was mildly surprised when I agreed that if he could afford one, he could have one. After all, I've got two and Jay's got two, who am I to say that he can't mark himself for life? He's the one who has to live with it for the rest of his life, not me. I did ask him to really think about where he wanted it and that he should be able to cover it up; it's pretty darn hard to get a job with "sleeves".

He almost had my dad talked into getting him one for his birthday until my dad realized that it was his 17th birthday, not his 18th and bailed, so Digger kind of put his desire on the back burner for awhile. Occasionally he'd mention wanting one, but then would say, "when I've got the money." Poor, poor kid, his mom wouldn't run out and pay for his tattoo (Damn, they're expensive and I still haven't found how to grow a money tree from my butt).

However...RockCrawlinChef ponied up for Digger's tattoo as his Christmas present. We went and made the appointment at Skibo's in Fort Collins for the Saturday after Christmas, then framed the appointment card and wrapped that up for under the tree. You should have seen his face when he opened his gift and it dawned on him what he got.

Digger's appointment became family day, with me, RockCrawlinChef, and Digger's girlfriend all in the room watching him get inked. It was pretty boring, he didn't cry, scream, puke or pass out. BORING!

His tattoo turned out great; I'm really pleased with it and so is he. Andy, the artist, did a great job of customizing a wolf print so that it looks like Digger just got stepped on.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


For the first time in at least seven years we had a tree! Isn't it amazing how time flies? It wasn't until I sat down and really thought about it that I realized so much time had gone by without a Christmas tree. I always justified it as not really necessary since the kids spent every other Christmas at their dad's house and the years they were with me, we spent Christmas at my parent's B&B and they ALWAYS had a tree. Truth be told, there were more than a few years when it was either buy a Christmas tree or presents. The presents always won out. I managed not to miss a Christmas tree, or so I thought. RockCrawlinChef's brought a lot of positive things into our lives, not the least of which was the tree. But I'm especially thankful about the tree.

I love the smell of a live tree - it reminds me of Christmases as a kid. Have I robbed my own kids of that memory by not having a tree for so long? Lord, I hope not. This year has been so different than years past, and Christmas was no exception. The kids and I always had GREAT Christmases, just the four of us and our family, but this year blew all the others out of the water - at least for me. We actually celebrated four times in a 24-hour period - how crazy is that? I suspect that will be the standard from now on, too.

RCC and I each had a non-negotiable, don't-even-consider-asking-me-to-change tradition; luckily, they worked out perfectly. My non-negotiable tradition (well, besides Baking Day) is Christmas Eve at Grandma Mary's. As much as I hate crowds and noise, I live for the crowded chaos of Grandma's on Christmas Eve. Food in abundance, kids in abundance, "butt space" lacking (gotta claim your spot early), wrapping paper flying and kids "oohing" and "aahing" and yelling out "thank you!" - what could be better?

RCC's non-negotiable was Christmas Morning at his parent's. Luckily, his youngest brother is a sleeper-inner and we weren't expected over there too early, which gave us time to open our own presents under the tree (another benefit to having a tree - whoda thunk?). Christmas Morning at his parents was the polar opposite of Christmas Eve at Grandma's, but still a ton of fun. I enjoyed watching everyone open their gifts without the distraction of ducking the flying wrapping paper and elbows as kids tore willy-nilly into their gifts.

By 11:00 am, we had three of our four celebrations down and headed up to the Lodge for the final one. Christmas at Mom's is kind of a combination of both Grandma Mary's and RCC's parents; the kids still tore into their presents, but with Mom handing out the gifts it was much more controlled and we were able to see pretty much everyone open their gifts.

Sadly, Bill's mom had been admitted to the hospital in New Mexico the day before and he'd driven out to be with her, so we missed getting to spend Christmas with him, but he'll come home to plenty of gifts and some left-over Shepherd's pie.

The non-stop 24-hour celebrations took their toll (or RCC and I are getting old) though, and we fell into bed well before 7:00 pm. The kids teased us about our early bedtime, but didn't stay up much longer than we did. As with everything else so far, our lives are melding pretty darn well and I'm so excited about our new life. I'm not sure it gets much better than this!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Baking Day!!!!

One of my all-time favorite days of the year is our annual Baking Day (which really has turned into baking weekend with all of the cookies we have to make). My Girls, Staci, Robin, and Sue, come up from Littleton to join my family at mom's lodge ( every year for a day of baking and catching up. I met my Girls through my boyfriend ten years ago. The boyfriend is long gone, but the Girls and I are as tight as ever. We're not the call-each-other-every-day friends, but the you're-part-of-who-I-am friends. Even though we only see each other a couple of times a year, it's always like we just parted. This is probably one of my favorite traditions and it always amazes me how quickly the year flies by. Baking Day is the only day that the Girls and I can guarantee that we'll get together now that we're not playing soccer multiple times a week. It seems not so long ago that I was driving down to Denver three times a week to play, but in retrospect it's been two break-ups (me and Robin), one marriage (Staci), two children (Staci), one relationship and step-son (Robin), and one engagement (me) ago that I was making that thrice weekly drive.

What I really love about Baking Day is that I get to spend the whole day with amazing women that I don't get to see nearly enough any more. I think as we get older and our lives get more complicated and busy, it's important to have traditions like this, not just family traditions. I'm always sad when the Girls pack up to go back to Littleton at the end of Baking Day, but immediately start looking forward to next year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Losing her nose-ginity

To finish up our wild, hectic weekend...

I had promised Ashee-butt that when she turned sixteen she could get her nose pierced. So...she's sixteen on the 13th and I took her to get it done on Sunday. The piercer that I wanted to do it was off, so we wandered from tattoo shop to tattoo shop until we found a place that would do a minor with her parent's consent. $65.00 and one hole in the head later, I had a happy daughter (even if her eye was still leaking a bit - so were mine - it was a heck of a hit to the wallet).

Christmas Caravan for Kids

What A Weekend!
Busy, busy, busy…Wow! Not quite sure where to start with my non-weekend. RockCrawlinChef and I had been planning for over a month now to join the Christmas Caravan for Kids to benefit the Marines’ Toys for Tots program, so I guess I’ll start there…

Friday night, late…
We had actually planned on picking up the trailer on Thursday night, but Mother Nature wasn’t on our side at all with all of the snow and ice on the road. RCC finally got home from the shuttle, grabbed something to eat, checked his email and we were off to his parents’ house to pick up Tinkerbell’s trailer. We got an early start, about 9:30 pm. We knew that the trailer lights weren’t working from when we brought Tink home, so our first stop was WalMart to pick up some emergency trailer lights, which we found (hallelujah!) and hoped we wouldn’t have to do too much wiring in the dark. We got lucky and found temporary magnetic tow lights that we just had to plug into the truck’s wiring and the lights would attach to the trailer magnetically. Whew! At least we knew we’d be legal (sort of – still haven’t gotten the trailer registered) to tow Tink to the fairgrounds.

Once we got to Johnstown to pick up the trailer it was good and cold and dark. We managed to snap the bolt that holds the crank handle on while we were trying to crank up the trailer foot, but RCC’s dad is a rock star and had a whole bucket of bolts that we dug through until we found a replacement. We got the trailer hooked up to the truck and pulled it out into the cul-de-sac to attach our make-shift lights only to find out that the cord was about four feet too short! Ugh! With a flash of brilliance, we found that we could attach the trailer lights underneath the trailer near the original lights, run the cord up and over the axle and along the support beams and get plugged in – barely. There wasn’t much slack for things like turning or raising the front of the trailer. After some fine-tuning, we managed to get enough slack and still have visible lights. Our fingers and toes were damn cold, nearly frozen, but we did it (and I didn’t even whine too much about being cold) and were on our way home at midnight or so. I think we finally got parked and into bed about 1:00 am. Just a few hours to grab some sleep before we had to load the girl and get goin’!

Saturday morning, early…
The alarm went off and RCC was out of bed like a shot. I’m not sure he got any sleep – he was like a kid on Christmas Eve, just laying in bed marking time until it was late enough to get up. I, however, took my sweet time getting out of bed – four and a half hours is just not enough for me! Of course, we were so organized, we didn’t have Tink actually running and there were a couple of things, minor of course, that needed to be done. Things like putting gas stabilizer in her fuel cell, along with some, you know, fuel and hooking up a battery. We stole the battery out of our Toyota Celica in hopes that it would have enough cold cranking amps to turn her over. We were wrong. She tried, but there just wasn’t enough juice in the little Toyota battery to turn over her bad-ass Chevy engine. Yikes, quarter ‘til seven and we don’t even have her started! Off to WalMart for a new battery. RCC was taking this all in stride – I think I was more stressed than he was at that point. Ten after seven and he’s installed the new battery, I’ve sprayed starter fluid in her air filter and we’re ready to give her a go. And…success! She started, reluctantly, but she did start. While RCC babied her and tried to coax her into idling, I got the trailer ready. I’m sure my neighbors appreciated hearing me drive the trailer pin out with a sledge hammer shortly after sunrise. They surely appreciated it as much as listening to RCC rev Tink’s engine while trying to warm up her engine.

I was a bit nervous about loading her since it took three of us to get her loaded when we brought her home, now it was just me at O’God thirty. Loading went beautifully and we were off, only thirty minutes or so behind schedule! Did I mention that it was only in the single-digits weather-wise while we were doing all of this? We had to actually scoop the snow off of Tinkerbell before we started on anything.

We still needed to stop and get more fuel for both The Bitch and Tinkerbell, but thought we’d decide on the way which gas station to stop at. The Caravan was leaving the Cracker Barrel at 8:00 am and heading over to the park-and-ride at Berthoud for line up there. Because of our late start, we by-passed the Cracker Barrel and fueled up at the Johnstown exit, choosing to meet up with the Caravan in Berthoud. Putting fuel in Tink was quite a chore – RCC had to climb up on to her like a monkey and reach down as far as he could while I stood on tippy-toes, reaching up as high as I could to hand up the gas nozzle. She’s tall anyway, but then we put her on the trailer and she became damn massive! I’m sure we put on quite a show.

The meet-up in Berthoud was impressive, I thought, for being early on a Saturday morning in December and still in the single-digits. Once we got organized in Berthoud, we headed off to Longmont to meet up with the last group from Northern Colorado. All told, we had twenty or so 4-wheel vehicles in the Caravan from Longmont to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

The ride down was uneventful, but a lot of fun. I love seeing the looks on people’s faces when they see Tinkerbell on the trailer, towering over The Bitch. I’m pretty sure there are a lot of kids still talking about the monster truck they saw on the highway Saturday. When we pulled onto the Jeffco grounds, we were waved out of line and directed to a place where we could park and unload Tink. I think the most fun I had all day was climbing up into her and re-joining the line of 4-wheelers and off-roaders to hand off our toys to the Marines. The looks on the Marines’ faces were priceless when they saw us coming and a couple of them insisted that we “ramp” her – that is, put her up on the RTI (Ramp Travel Index) ramp to test the flexibility of her suspension.

Well RCC, indeed, ramped her and scored a 913, winning the ramp competition. When a truck is ramped, the driver drives one tire up onto the ramp and continues up the ramp until one of the other three tires comes off the ground. At that point a measurement is made and plugged into a chart along with the wheel-base measurement to come up with the score. Tinkerbell maxed out the ramp – she made it to the top and could have continued another few inches before leaving the ground, but the ramp was too short. It’s kind of scary watching the trucks on the ramp because the cab tips so far over in some cases that it looks like the whole vehicle is going to roll over. I guess occasionally they do tip over.

We spent the afternoon, which had warmed up beautifully, wandering around looking at all of the other vehicles and watching the Marines’ 7-ton trucks get filled up (we filled two with toys). It was a blast and I can’t wait until next year’s Christmas Caravan.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

More "Firsts"...

RockCrawlinChef's youngest brother just turned 10 on Sunday and as I was thinking about it, I experienced a few "firsts" during his party...
  • First time I've ever seen balloons blown up and used as masks...
  • First time I've ever had a future brother-in-law who is younger than my youngest child (wow)...
  • First time I've ever attempted to play a game on Wii (scary)...
I also realized that there are a few life lessons I could learn from him...
  1. If you're not hungry, don't eat (could be part of the reason he's so skinny - I might try it)
  2. Play (probably another part of the reason he's so skinny - I really should try it)
  3. Do everything with gusto (hmmm...)
So even though I felt rather old, I tried something new (Wii - scary) and laughed a lot.