Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Goals for the New Year?

This year I'm concentrating on balancing my personal life and business life better. So, the idea would be to come up with goals or ways to make sure that balance happens. hah! I spent January ignoring the goal thing and just generally denying the fact that it's really a new year. Today I finally decided to stop trying so hard...in other words I decided to give up and just go with what I have.

1st goal -you already know, more writing on this blog! I'm already happy that this is happening. It's my mini therapy session. I like the documentation, working through a situation in my head and then getting it written down. Sometimes, the result is way different than what the original idea started as. It's an interesting process to me.

2nd goal- Read more. This is one of the things that has really taken a hit in my life. When business is crazy and life is busy, I seem to forget to read. However, this is the one thing that really lets me turn it all off for a bit and get lost. What could be better to help me balance life and turn off work after hours! Read some damn books woman! One of the things I made an effort to do when we moved, was bring in all my books from the garage. I purged the books I didn't want and kept the stuff that seemed interesting. Now they are in my room on a book shelf ready to grab and go.

3rd goal - No more phones at the dinner table. This is purely a rule for me. However, it's funny to see how people turn off their phone when they notice that you are sitting there staring at them while they browse facebook. The other trick is to keep talking until they can't concentrate on their phone. I figure, if we are going out to dinner, we should be talking and enjoying each other company. There are the odd times when this rule can be broken...when I have to look up a bit of information that has to do with the conversation or educational purposes. This really hasn't been as hard to keep up as I thought originally.

4th goal - and probably the more embarrassing goals I absolutely needed to set...no more phones in the bathroom! If I really need entertainment in the bathroom, I can read a damn book...then that helps cover goal #2!

These goals are aimed at making time to do things that I enjoy in life. This is also a way for me to get my life back from facebook. It's not enjoyable for me, yet it takes up so much of my spare time. I'm not sure when facebook became my go-to for when I'm bored...but it also became my go-to for when I'm not bored also. I feel like it became a habit to pick up my phone and look at what people are doing. I mean when I have to make a rule not to bring my phone into the bathroom with me...that means I'm spending too much time on facebook! This is precious time that could be spent playing with our little girl or reading a book to her.

I have to say, I don't feel like I'm making any big leaps or commitments here, but I'm pretty content with the little changes I'm making.  I feel like I am trying to be more conscious of where my time is spent and investing my time in something that I consider to have more quality than political bullshit or drama. When I started writing this blog, I thought they might be half ass goals, but really they are all about enjoyment...what could be a better goals to meet!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

On Fostering

I was talking to Mario the other night and mentioned that in May it will be two years from when we started this fostering adventure. However, we've technically only been parents for four of those months.

It's been totally different than what I thought it would be like. It took nearly a year to get our first placement. Between getting home studies, taking classes, preparations and our social worker going on emergency leave, we didn't get a placement until April. Almost a year after we started the process. We really thought we'd have had a placement much earlier. However, life reared it's head.

Our first placement was a toddler. He was our first big test. Going from no kids to a toddler was hard. However, he was smart beyond his years and because of that we had to keep an eye on him. That cute booger was into everything and loved being outdoors. He was with us until mid July.

 He was our first good bye. I still miss him every day. I have a hard time looking through photos of him and not getting emotional. He was our first baby and taught us so much. More importantly, how to love unconditionally.

Then because of our move and trying to get my sister-in-law's home ready for inspection, it took until November to get us licensed again.

We got our second call for a newborn foster placement the week before Christmas. We were supposed to pick her up on Friday, but because of her situation, we didn't get to pick her up until Monday before Christmas. We visited her every day at the hospital. Got to know her and her schedule, fed her and cuddled her. When we did take her home, it was interesting because it was top secret. The hospital took the situation very seriously. They were very careful to make sure we never ran into the parents or the family. The nurses actually wheeled me out in a wheelchair, so I'd look like I was just a normal mother leaving with my baby.

That was a minute by minute situation. Things changed so quickly, even her social worker was baffled. We had her for two nights and then she was ordered to go with a family member. The judge thought she should be with family for Christmas. I totally agreed, but had to say good bye to our Christmas baby. We learned a lot in those few days with her. She was sweet and content. She never cried. I was also able to get over my small fear of newborns. I was having those same dreams pregnant moms have, where you dream you forget the baby somewhere or don't change them. Those dreams are the worst! However, this sweet girl got me over that!

A few weeks later and we are with our third placement. A 1 year old little girl. Tomorrow is court. So, hopefully tomorrow night, we'll find out how long we'll have this sweet girl with us. Depending on court, this is the only placement that looks semi long term and they have even mentioned adoption. I have to be realistic though and keep in mind that like all foster placements, things can change so fast. I have to expect the worst and hope for the best. Until then, we'll enjoy our time with her!

I think the one thing we've learned is to never assume you know how it will go. Every placement has been different. Well, different on the outside. On the inside, it's about loving these babies for as long as we have them. Foster care is an adventure and a complete mystery!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Lets Talk Moving

We moved. We really didn't tell many people. It was one of those things that we have talked about and rejected for the last year and a half or so. Then all of a sudden...we changed our minds.

Some time after my mother in law passed away, Mario's sister discussed us moving in with her. She has a big house, that she was now living in alone. We pretty much passed on the idea pretty quick. We just didn't think it would be a good idea. Of course, once a month or so, one of us would bring it up, kick it around and the other would veto the idea immediately. She's a woman set in her ways. We are a married couple set in our ways. While Mario is very adaptable and mellow, we couldn't see how the two opinionated women could live happily and not butt heads. It just didn't seem worth the trouble and potential fallout.

However, if we moved in with her, we wouldn't have to pay rent. That was the huge draw for us. We want to buy a home so badly and the best way for us to save up a lot of money is to move in with Angela. Like I said, we really talked about it for a long time and couldn't see the situation working...and also couldn't see us passing up being able to save so much money.

Then we saw a change. Last April we got our first foster placement. Our little boy. We fell in love...and Angela also fell absolutely in love. It was such a big change that we saw in her. She was so happy to be around him. It was a side we really hadn't seen in a long time. After our foster son left foster care and went to live with a family member, the idea of us moving in with her was brought up again.

This time we took the idea a little more seriously. If our foster son came back into care, because of his age, the only way we could have him again was if we had a second bedroom. If we moved in with Angela, we would have access to two bedrooms in her home. One for us and one for our kid/s. This would mean that we could expand the age range that we foster and/or have a sibling set. It would also mean saving a huge amount of money and being able to pay down any bills.

So last September, we packed up our apartment, got rid of as much stuff as we could, organized a bit of Angela's home, and moved in. It was a lot of work. A lot of work. But we did it. It actually took us a lot longer to get set up and inspected for foster care again, but we are finally up and going again!

We have always lived pretty simple. Since Mario and I have lived together, we've always lived small. Now we live even smaller. Most of our belongings are in the garage. The rest is in our bedroom. Two desks for working, our big bed, our huge bookshelf with all of our books and tv on it...and our four animals! The kids room is just for them. Crib, bed, bookshelf, toys, etc. It's a very parred down life...but the benefits are big.

After four months there have only been a few hiccups. It helps that everyone works a lot. It's definitely hard being a person who loves to organize and keep clean, living with a person who loves their stuff around them. However, my eye is on the prize! We are able to foster, and have more area for the animals to run around...they love it here! And hopefully soon, we'll have our own house to with what we want!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Getting a hold of 2016!

You know how I get every January...new year, new clean slate! It feels a little different this year though.

Mostly because all our goals and plans have been laid out and thought over for the past 2 years or more. Mario and I are always keeping tabs on our goals. It's really same 'ole, same 'ole around here. Save up for house, pay off bills, become parents, work, work, work, build business, work on art. Not that all of it doesn't make me excited. I just feel like my plans to reach those goals are the same as they have been. That's fine though. I'm happy with it. I'm happy to see out those long term goals!

I think what I've decided to do instead, is work on balancing my life around those goals we've set. In the last year, my business has grown and become a more stable income. We've become foster parents and are on our third placement. We have moved in with Mario's sister to save a ton of money. Mario is on his 6th season of Bob's Burgers and has been working on some really cool art for himself. All of which deserve blog posts!

Those blogs will definitely be coming! Because one of the things I think I miss most is writing! I miss coming here to tell you what is happening. I miss being able to laugh about something or tell you something stupid that happened or just talk out an issue I'm having. I've seen so many blogs burn out, I think I want to light that spark again!

Goal #1 to balancing business and pleasure...more writing! I can't say how often I'll meet you here, but I'll definitely try!

Next up, I think is telling you about moving in with Mario's sister. See you here soon! xoxo!

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Thoughts on Fostering

3 months ago we welcomed the coolest kid into our house. We could never imagine how much our lives would change. It flipped us around, changed our world, showed us patience, craziness, and lots of love...and it's our new normal. 
Now in a week and a half, we will be saying goodbye to our cool kid. I'm not sure how I feel yet.

When I first got the call, it was for a 1 year old that needed to be fostered for 2-3 weeks. I thought this would be the perfect "starter" foster case. It would be a good, fun age to start with and short enough to get our feet wet. This would give us a taste of what we were in for. Naive, right?!

What we got was a 18 month old for 3 months. Going from zero children to a toddler was insane! The anxiety that we felt that first week was out of control. Where do you start? There was no easing from sleepless nights with an newborn to infant then to toddler. It was abrupt. All of a sudden, there was this adorable stranger in our house who loved to scream, tantrum, eat and poop. 

In one week, we learned what could be climbed on, pulled off, jumped on, ripped up, carried around and chewed on. I also learned that there is nothing better than rocking a baby to sleep. I love to hear that little voice call me "mama" and Mario "daddy". I love the giggles and to see that brain working things out. The kid is smart! I found out that I could fall in completely in love in a few days...all while knowing that he'd be leaving in a week or two.

In one month, we figured out that dcfs is on a different schedule. 2-3 weeks means something different to them...we were ok with that. We figured out how we were going to deal with tantrums, hitting, child care, running a business with a toddler around and adjusting marriage to fit a new being in. We saw daily changes to his behaviors. We became the people that he comes to for love, security, and silliness. We know craisins are the key to a quiet child. I love craisins...I also love nap time! We also found out that you don't sleep train a toddler...they sleep train you. 

In two months, we became more comfortable with parenting. We felt more comfortable taking him out to restaurants and shopping. It was around this time that we really saw how much our decision to foster affected our family and friends. They were all in love also. It was around this time that we really started hoping that the plan that was set in place for him, would fall through and he could stay with us. However, we found out he'd be leaving us for sure. An order to move him has been made. This guy who turned our life around would be leaving as planned. I had allowed myself to hope that he'd stay. 

At the three month mark, parenting has become comfortable. But, I see the end date coming up quick. I don't think about how I'll feel, it doesn't matter how I feel. I worry about him. He'll be moving in with family. Family he should be with. But I still worry about this one last move. In 18 months, he's been moved around a number of times. 

When the doorbell rings or there is a knock at the door, he screams and runs to me for security. It took a while for me to figure out why he was freaking out...until one day he screamed "they get me!" My heart sank. He is at an age where he remembered being removed from his last home. He knows what it means to hear a knock at the door and to be removed from a home and family he has gotten to know and even love. So many times there has been a knock at the door and I have said "It's ok, baby. You're safe. No one is going to get you." Now I know, there is a knocking coming when I can't say "It's ok. No one is coming to get you. " 

I'm terrified for him. I cry because I won't be able to explain why we won't be there any more. I cry because I know it's not just him and us that will hurt...our family and friends will hurt also when he's gone. I've already told his social worker that we want him back if it doesn't work out with his family. I don't want it not to work out for him. I don't want him moved one more time...but I'm selfish enough to hope he comes back to us. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Waiting

We are official! Mario and I were fully licensed and ready for a placement on January 1st. Expect a call any minute!

We are still waiting for that call. I'm trying to be very patient. I know that when it's right, we will get the call. It's hard though. A lot of change is just a phone call away. Such a simple thing will change how we live. I feel like it's harder waiting for a phone call, than it was taking all the classes and making the preparations. At least we were keeping busy. Now it's just waiting and there's not much we can do about it.

Every day since January 1st, I wake up and think maybe today will be the day we get a call. It's really making me crazy. Partially because our social worker and everything I've read has said that we should have gotten a call right away. That first week. Weekends are even harder, because I know we probably won't get a call on that day.

So, I do what I do best...try to organize everything! My office area is looking good. I've attacked my camera gear. I have my sites on the kitchen for the second time in two months. The garage was attacked yesterday. Closets have been organized but have a few things to finish it up. I'm sure I can find more if I really try!

Until that special call comes in, I'll be patient and really try not to call our social worker every day...I will try very hard.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Goals

While we are very very patiently waiting for a call from the state for our home inspection, I'm trying to get the house and our life organized and then more organized. I really want to get things finished now, so that when we get a foster placement, we can spend all our time on that and not fiddly stuff.

This means I have one of those lists that I make each week and just keep adding to it.
-Put up the hanging pendant reading lights up in the bedroom (we've had these for almost a year, because I couldn't decide if the shades were too small. Turns out they look great.)
-Organize the linen closet again. Strike that, organizing all the closets again.
-Rearranging the kitchen to include kiddy stuffs. How is it that we have so much random crap in the kitchen that we never use! Also, our tupperware is like a living thing, some multiplies while others disappear.
-Making a better work station for me. I have no storage. So the person that thrives on organization, really has very little.
-Adding baby furniture in means rearranging and trying to find better solutions to our floorplan.
-getting the garden ready for fall planting. I didn't plant beets last year and seriously regret it!
-Since the cat broke their cat tree, we are trying to see if we can expand their world and maybe make put shelves on the wall for them like a catwalk.


Maybe not this complex and bright...but we might as well use wall space instead of the ugly behemoth we have that takes up so much floor space. The only problem is the weight of our cats. We searched Ikea for shelves that can hold our plus size girls. Believe it or not they do exist.

Beside organizing the house, I've been trying to get my life in a good spot. Not like I have all that much control over my life, but there are definitely things I can work on. My business, my head, planning goals, debts, lots of marketing, taking care of as many details of life and getting them all mostly figured out. One of the things we have definitely been working on for a while is debt and planning towards a house. That's straight forward. I've been streamlining my business since I started, because every year is different. However, if I can get it as much in line as possible now, I feel better.

One of the things I've really needed to work on in my life is friends. It's one of the things I talked about in our foster care interview with our social worker. We need to make sure we have people we can really count on when life gets tough. I don't feel like I have anyone close by that I feel that way about. I have friends that I'm close with and I have friends that I was very close with, however, I don't have any best friends. I've been missing that. The one person who I would consider my best friend is over in Arkansas. I miss her a lot and really miss that time we spent together! I need someone closer!

So, that's been something I've been focusing on again. I've kept in contact with some women from our foster care PS-Mapp class. I'm happy I hunted them down, because it's good to see where we all are in the process and I feel like I'll need that connection in a friend. So, I do hope to really keep in contact and get to know some of them better. 

I have also recently found a groupon Meetup.com. It's a group of ladies in Burbank who plan out little events locally. I am so excited! I already went to a strange movie with two other ladies last night and already made a connection with one of the women who wants to learn more about photography. 

It's really making my heart happy to meet new people. I only see a limited number of people working for myself, so it's good to supplement that with good friends. Just getting to know more people is making me happy and also helping me pass the time waiting for our foster care license!

Monday, June 09, 2014

I finally did it!

Ok, I only ordered new business cards...but really I have been putting it off for a year now. To be fair I did order some last year around this time...but I totally spelled "architectural" incorrectly. Who the hell is going to hire someone to photograph their architectural work if they can't even spell it!

Because of that embarrassing typo, I kept putting off ordering new cards. Partially deciding that the money would be better spent somewhere else. Probably punishing myself a bit also. I have this beautiful website and my old ugly business cards that don't match...at least they are spelled correctly though.

However, even those old cards have an issue. First of all I hired someone to design a new logo...I never liked it and then I never said what type of photography I work in. Might not seem like a big deal to most people. However, when you say photographer, people assume I photograph people or weddings. When you work in a niche area like real estate and architecture, you need to point that out. One day someone will randomly pick up my business card and think, "Architectural Photographer! This is exactly the type of photographer I have been looking for!"

I'm also excited because my cards will have different photos on the back. I have been pulling my favorite photos for a while now. Trying to decide which to use. Which will represent my work best. Then I had Mario come through and help choose the best. I don't want to use a photo that I love, but really doesn't look great on the card. I get attached to some photos and need to learn to let them go. So Mario came through and we got rid of half the photos that I wanted to use. I have to admit it was hard to do. He just zipped through and told me which to delete. I tried not defend a few and then realized he was totally right. Then I got rid of about five more while I was designing the card. I'm happy with my selection and will be excited to see how they turn out!

The second thing I finally got around to doing was printing up a bunch of photos. We have a decent hallway and I've been wanting to put a bunch of family photos up. Ikea sells of frame-less glass frames...if that makes sense. It's basically a piece of glass with brackets. I like the look of them. Of course when I went to ikea to buy some, they had stopped selling them. However, I knew someone who did have a bunch of different sizes and were just storing them. My mother. I begged her for a bunch and she mailed them to me before Christmas! How ungrateful that she send me these frames and I didn't get my act together and print photos for them. So, last night, I decided I was going to order these damn photos! I think I printed 20-25 prints from my favorite printer. They should be here tomorrow...I can't wait to see them! I want them up on the wall for when my mom and sister come down next weekend. I think it will be fun to see and also she won't give me shit if they are up and not in a box still!

I think the motivation is really about getting these things finished that I have been wanting to get done now while we have the time and money. We figure once kids come into the picture, we won't have the time or cash to do it. Why we sit on these ideas for so long, I don't know.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

I'm not normally one of those "Oh, god! It's Monday!" type of people...

But it sure felt like it today. Really it started with a dipshit move by me. Monday is street cleaning on our side of the street. I have to move my car by noon or I get another ticket. Yes another. I have a reminder set on my phone. The alarm went off and I screwed around until I had two minutes to move my car. That's when I started running around, putting on clothes, grabbing my purse, running over to grab my keys...and noticed one of our adorable weaselly dogs pooped by the front door. Of course.

I paused at the door knowing it was now one minute until noon and that parking ticket dude sits out front waiting for it to strike noon. I'm not kidding. I started to throw my stuff down and run down the hall for toilet paper to clean up the crap. Then I thought, no, I'm only going out to move the car to the other side of the street...I'll be right back.

I grabbed my purse, grabbed the keys off of the table and yelled to the dogs, "This doesn't mean shitting by the front door is acceptable!" I shut the door, turned around to make sure the door was locked and then looked at the keys in my hands...car keys...laundry room key...where the hell were my house keys!? They are usually kept on the same pull-apart key chain.

However, last night, mario let me out in front of the house, while he found parking...I had too many iced teas at dinner and it had hit emergency status. So, I had grabbed the house key off the keychain...but where the hell did I put it after running inside like a crazy person!? I checked my purse. A second car key. No house key...and it turns out, no phone either. Great. That's when I noticed the parking ticket dude cruising down the street. I took off around the corner and hopped in my car as quickly as I could.

My car was now safe from a ticket, but now I had to get a house key. I had two options. Drive over to my friends house and see if she's home. She has a spare key to our place and maybe she'll want to get lunch. Or I can drive to Mario's work and get the key. So, I drove over to Rene's house. She wasn't home. No problem, she's probably at the library and the library is on the way to mario's work...perfect.

This is where I should tell you that I was avoiding going to Mario's work. When I ran out of the house, I had only planned on moving the car. I hadn't showered yet. So, I threw on some less than great clothing choices. Normally, when I show up at Mario's work, I want to look pretty good...not have my hair sticking up all over. I'd rather look like a trophy wife than the crazy looking troll. So, as I rolled past the library and saw Rene's car wasn't there either, I threw some lipgloss on that shit and hoped everyone at Mario's work was at lunch.

They weren't all at lunch. However, they are a room full of artists, I forgot they like the lights off. They work by the light of the computers! Thank the lord! So, I just strolled back to Mario's desk and shocked him by appearing out of the dark. Of course, he laughed at me when I told him that I locked myself out of the house...but offered to take me to lunch.

We had a nice lunch date and I dropped him back off at work. He gave me his copy of the house key and I headed back to face that poop by the door. However, mid way home, I decided to take the car through a drive thru car wash. I mean, I'm already out right?

Adjusting my route home, I pulled up at the car wash and there were three cars ahead of me. The first car was pulling out of the wash. The second car is punching in the code to redeem his wash and starting to head in. The third car pulls up to the kiosk and waits like he's supposed to. I pull up behind him and wait, thinking it would be really nice to have my phone to check emails or words with friends. That's when I notice the guy in front of me reach out to the kiosk to punch in his code...before the other guy is hardly even started. This is a big no no! The signs say wait to punch in your code until the other car is exiting. The kiosk even says this before you punch in the code. Remember my car wash problem of 2009? ONLY PUNCH THE CODE IN WHEN THE OTHER CAR IS LEAVING! I yell "NOOOOO!!!" Of course my window is up and he doesn't hear shit.

The carwash stops half way through the wash cycle and car number 2 is now confused, pissed, and his car is covered in soap. Car number three is oblivious that he has even caused this problem and is yelling at car number two to leave the car wash. I sat there watching, trying to decide if a car wash is necessary at this point. I start to back up and realize how narrow and curvy the entrance is. I tried for a bit to back out and realized it was hopeless. They designed this car wash to trap you in. So, I waited. Car number two sat there for a while...probably calling the attendant. Then he started to pull out and car three started pulling in thinking he was going to wash his car. Car number two tried to stay for the wash...and I was trapped. All because I locked myself out of the house.

This went on for a while, but they finally figured their shit out. They both ended up having to drive around and get back in line. The attendant reset the machine and I was able to wash my car...good thing, because it looked like a pterodactyl had shit on my car. I got home to clean up the poop by the front door. Then, as I walked to the back door to let the dogs out, I realized the back door had been unlocked the whole time.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Cat toys and Thongs

Maria, our house cleaner came by on Tuesday to clean our hovel. We are always excited for her to come over. She always comes in and plays with the dogs a bit. They think she only comes over to visit them. The cats all come out and say hi. She greets them and chats with me a bit while preparing herself to attack our mess. I'm just plain excited to have someone else clean up after me!

This week was no different. The dogs and I were excited to see her walk in the door. The cats were indifferent but still came out to greet her. We chatted about life as usual, while I worked on a shoot from the previous day. As I glanced up, I saw her grab a toy off the ground and start shaking it in front of Penny. Penny obliged her by batting at it a bit. She's been trying to win Penny over for a while.

I stopped working and glanced up to talk to her a bit more, when I looked at the toy. It looked like a mini octopus. I couldn't place it as any of the toys that we had. Then the cat caught one of the "tentacles" and I realized what it was. 

Me "Maria! Those are underwear!"
Maria "Ooh la la...why are there underwear in the living room?"
Me laughing "No, those are my sister's underwear...she stayed here for the weekend and she must have left them. Oh god I'm sorry!"
Maria "Oh well, I put them in the laundry."
Me "Nah, I'll just put them in an envelope and mail them right back to her!"

She was totally unfazed that she was using my sister's thong to play with the cat. She just walked back and put it in the laundry. Of course I thought this was too funny and sent off a text to my sister...

Me "Maria just found a pair of your underwear and thought it was a cat toy...so she was swinging them around for Penny to attack. We were cracking up when I told her what she had."

Lindsay "Now that's embarrassing. I'm so glad I wasn't there!"