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The Girl’s Christmas Wish

Hello Everyone,

Yesterday, Quynn wrote out a Christmas list. This list had only 6 things on it, and one of the things on her list was “Money for the Homeless”. I personally think that is remarkable that this 7 year old girl would think of such a thing on her own (of course, I’m a little biased ). Now, of course, Santa thinks this is a fantastic idea, and will certainly make that happen. But, I was thinking that perhaps, with your help, we could make it even better.

I know that no one is in a good spot right now, financially, so I’m suggesting 2 ways for you to help make Quynn’s Christmas wish come true.

1. You can make a donation of money, clothes, or food to a local organization, and then write Quynn a letter indicating what you did to help the less fortunate in your community.


2. You can send a monetary donation to Quynn directly, and we will donate it to a homeless shelter in Quynn’s name.

All letters and donations will be wrapped and put under the tree for Quynn on Christmas morning. They can be mailed to me, but please address them to “Lubstimes4”. If you need my address, please email me at slubs5@gmail.com.  Letters can also be emailed.

Finally, I would love it if you would copy and paste this note, so that we can get a whole bunch of letters for Quynn to open, and help a lot of folks in the process! 🙂

Thanks a million!


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Remember Me?

Wow, it’s been over 3 months since I posted here.  I guess I just wasn’t feeling it…the Two Working Parents name wasn’t relevant to me, and I was uninspired.  So, let me give a quick rundown of our summer, share some news, and set some goals.


I had a great summer at home with the kids.  We spent some time with my mom, who came in July.  We spent many weekends at the beach, and lots of time at the pool.  I read a lot  of books (I highly recommend this book) this summer, and we spent a lot of time at the library.

I also spent  a lot of time looking for work.  I must have applied to hundreds of jobs, and I went on dozens of interviews.

In August, The Girl went back to school…she started second grade.  She is an excellent student, has lots of friends, and overall, is enjoying her time in second grade.

We also started attending a new church.   I know a while back, I posted that we had found our church, but it didn’t work out…mainly, the commute was too long and we didn’t feel like we really fit in with the church.  Our new church is right around the corner from home, and we feel like we fit in better.  Also, we invited a friend to church, which I think has helped me become closer with this friend, and I hope that my friend is finding some guidance.

The News

Well, as I mentioned, I did a lot of job hunting this summer (despite the fact that I didn’t blog about it….sorry), and finally, all of that work has paid off.  I will be starting my new job next week, and I’m thrilled.  I was willing to start over in another field, to take a pay cut, etc.  Instead, I was blessed with a job in my field AND a pay increase.

The best part of this  job, to me, is the fact that there are horses and other farm animals on the grounds of my employer.  May not seem like a perk, but I hope that it will help me to feel closer to nature while I’m working.  I don’t really know how to put this in writing, but over the summer I fantasized about buying a farm and living off the land.  This is a loft goal for anyone, especially a city girl like myself.  But, I just felt, I don’t know….disconnected.  I think that being surrounded by nature and the animals at my new employer will help me to reconnect to whatever it is that I was feeling disconnected from.

In other, related news, The Boy will be starting preschool tomorrow!  I had to wait until I had a job to get him enrolled, and now he’s so excited!  I can’t wait to see how he does in this new environment!


Ironically, I didn’t blog when I had the time all summer, but one of my goals now is to blog more regularly.  I feel like this is a place I can get my thoughts out of my head, and even get some feedback on stuff when I need it.   So, that’s one goal.

Another goal I have is to remain organized, both at home and at work.  My organizational skills are good, but only for myself.  I often am the only one who can find something, because I have not organized it in a way that is useful to all.  I hope to start changing this at work, and then working on my home.

I am also hoping to be able to pay down some of the debt we’ve accumulated in the past few months, and eventually be able to afford a new vehicle.  My ultimate goal is to purchase said vehicle with cash, but we’ll have to wait and see how things play out.

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TellerAllow me to set the scene:

In the middle of the afternoon on a bright and sunny day, we were getting ready for a trip to the store.  I, being the responsible pet owner that I am, put Teller on his leash, and opened the door to take him for a quick walk before we left.
As I opened the door, something caught my eye….it was a black nose.  I instantly thought it was a coyote, and threw the dog to my mom and slammed the door.  I then slowly opened the door to find my neighbor’s very large dog trying to get in my apartment.

I kicked at the dog and it ran away.  I followed it, because I knew who the owner was.  This particular pet owner also has 2 other small dogs (chihuahuas), one of whom attacked Teller just a few days ago.

The owner was outside, with all three dogs off of their leashes.  I yelled at him, told him his dog tried to get in my house, scared my  kids, and that his other little dog attacked Teller last week.  He denied the charges, and acted like I was a lunatic for being scared of his “very friendly dog.”  I came back in the house, got Teller, and took him out.  The owner then started yelling at me for not giving him time to get his dogs inside.  I told him that I don’t have time to deal with irresponsible owners, as I’m trying to leave.  We got into a big argument before he stomped off, leaving his dog’s droppings in the middle of the sidewalk.  I, again, being the responsible one, picked up after both of our dogs, and came inside.  I then called the leasing office.  No one answered, so I stopped in the office on our way to the store.

I talked to the assistant manager, told her what had happened, and that he had 3 dogs.  She said that the 3 dogs alone was enough for them to evict this guy.  She said she would look into it, call the guy, and start taking steps to get the situation under control.

Now, normally, I would not have called the office or went in to complain.  This time, however, was different.  For one, I don’t know that this dog is friendly or not, and The Boy is scared of big dogs anyway, so this was a matter of my kids safety and security.  Second, the guy acted like it was not a big deal, I was the one who was out of line, and he did not apologize.  It’s common courtesy to apologize for scaring the bejeezus out of little kids, and this guy was just rude.

What would you have done?

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First of all, we had a great 4th of July weekend.  We had some new friends over for dinner, and we got to see some good fireworks (though, admittedly, not as good as last year).  The Boy was terrified of the fireworks, but once he got passed the sound factor, he was fine.  Then, on Sunday, the kids and I just hung out around the house and pool and completely relaxed.

Now for the good parts!

Last week, Brian got offered a job, but he went this morning to discuss the particulars.  Long story short, this job will allow him to use his degree in German, give him control and autonomy, gets him away from working with young apathetic people, and gives him a significant raise in pay.  The only downsides are that we will have to find our own insurance (which I’m working on), there is a bit of a commute (though not that bad), and we will lose one perk from his current job that is currently saving us about $30 per month in entertainment costs.  But, the upsides certainly outweigh the downsides, so we are excited!

The other great thing about this week is that my mom is coming to California for a 2 week visit!  We haven’t seen her since January, so we are all very excited.  When she was here last, it was rainy and cold most of the time she was here, so we are happy to have some hot weather this time.  While we can’t do everything we would like to do (ahem, Disneyland), we are planning some time at the beach and other L.A. hotspots.

Lastly, we spent several days doing our (late) spring cleaning last week….and the house is STILL clean!  It’s a miracle!

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For those of you who live in the Los Angeles area, please join me at my first FREE seminar on June 30th!

Secrets to a Successful Job Hunt in ANY Economy

VEDC Business Center

5121 Van Nuys Blvd, 3rd Floor

Van Nuys CA 91403

2:00—4:00 pm

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Since I lost my job back in May, it’s been really hard to write.  I’ve spent my days looking for work, trying to start a business, and worrying about money.  This week, though, some prayers were answered, and I can breath just the tiniest bit easier.  I was approved for unemployment, so the small amount of money that will bring in will allow me to find the job I really want, work on my business with more confidence, and most importantly, spend some time with my kids.

So, this week, I did all of those things.  I refocused my job search, and started applying only to those jobs that I really think I would enjoy.  And, in doing this, I realized something about myself that I guess I always sort of knew, but it really showed itself yesterday.  I applied to a job that made me really excited….and it’s an excitement I didn’t see coming.  The fundamental point of this job is to read reports, write reports, and ensure that programs are running as they should.  It’s a lot of computer work, and a lot of detail.  And that made me…dare I say?  Giddy.  I got giddy over reports.  This is news to me.  But, I was so excited about the job that I completely rewrote my cover letter to basically say, “Hey, this incredibly boring job makes me really excited!”  It was a little wierd, but now I know what to look for.

Second, I worked a little bit harder on my business.  I went to the Small Business Development Center, and did financials.  I realized that I really can make this my full-time job if I really put my mind to it…and I really want to.  (Side note:  If you need a resume, please visit me at www.myremarkableresumes.com)

Third, I spent a lot of time with the kids.  This is something that I’ve never really been able to do with any joy…not because I don’t love being with my kids, but because there has always been an underlying worry about money.  While that worry is still there, it’s a little less than it ever has been in the past, and I was able to take a break from all of the stuff I “should” be doing, and just enjoy them.  So, I took The Girl shopping to spend some birthday money.  The Boy had some money saved up too, so he was able to shop too.  We went to the mall, got Brian a Father’s Day gift, and spent the rest of the time in “kid stores”.  We spent a few days at the pool.  They went to the fitness center with me and played in the raquetball court while I exercised.  The Girl and I did Pilates together.  The Boy and I cuddled in bed in the mornings before The Girl woke up.  We built a birdhouse out of popsicle sticks.  We watched our tomatoes and cucumbers grow.

So, while I’m still worried about money, I am so glad to have a little breathing room.  I’m so happy to be refocused on what is important.  And what is important is my family and my own happiness.  And that it what I am going to pursue.

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Dear Girl,

In just a few hours, you will wake up.  It will be your birthday, and you will have reached the ripe old age of 7.  I can’t believe you are already 7.  It doesn’t even seem possible.  But, here you are, growing up right in front of my eyes.

In addition to today being your birthday, it is also your official stage debut.  Now, you’ve performed on stage before, but this is the first time you have lines…and quite a few of them, I might add!  You are the Wicked Witch of the West (and your best friend is playing the Wicked Witch of the East) in the  First Grade Production of the Wizard of Oz.  I can’t wait to hear your evil laugh!

You don’t know this yet, but Daddy and I bought you the cage for the mice you’ve been saving up for.  I can’t wait to see your face when you open it!  You also got some birthday money in the mail today.  You have more than enough for your mice now, and I wonder what you’ll start saving for next.

Also, your brother bought you a rather “grown up” art set and sketch pad.  We love the way you draw, Q, and I really hope that it is something that sticks with you forever.  Of course, The Boy is really hoping that you’ll share your art set with him….it might be a nice thing to do.

With 1st grade coming to an end next week, I hope that I have some time to spend with you this summer.  I love spending time with just you, and I’m sorry that it doesn’t happen as often as we would like.  But, with summer just around the corner, I’m sure we’ll be able to steal some time together…even if it’s just cuddling in my bed in the morning.

So, Baby Girl, I hope you have a great birthday! Always remember, you are my favorite little girl!



Oh, one more thing!  Thanks so much for that last 6 year old hug you gave me before bed.  It will stay in my heart forever!

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This past week, I have been busy looking for jobs and getting ready for the end of the school year.  In this process, I’ve learned a few things about myself…and relearned a few things as well.  The first thing I learned is that it is hard being a stay-at-home mom.  I mean, I always knew that it was hard, but I didn’t know it was THIS hard.  Also, I’ve learned that I love it.

Another thing I’ve learned is that I when I’m home all day, clutter seems to multiply, and it makes me crazy.  And when that happens, I can’t write.  I just can’t.  So, today, I rearranged the furniture in order to create more homes for things, so maybe the clutter will stop…maybe.

Finally, I re-learned that I am really quite creative.  And I realized that I really don’t like to purchase art for the house.  I went around the house today and found that almost everything that we have hanging on our walls has a story.  And, I thought I would share those stories.

Family Paintings

This hangs above our tv in the living room.  We each painted one of these paintings about 2 years ago.  The first is mine, the second is The Boy’s (he was about 2 years old), the third is The Girl’s (she was 4 years old, and yes, that’s Spongebob), and the last one is Brian’s.  This was a family project, but we painted over some canvases that I had painted a few years prior.  We used extra paint that we had, and ended up with a fun conversation starter.

Family Photos

This is above the couch.  These are family photos that we add to now and again.  While the stories here are sometimes “We went to the photo place and got our pictures taken”, they are personal because they are family.


This is in our hallway.  The small photo in the top shelf is of my father, who passed away in 2001.  The center photo is a collage of pictures of the kids that I had framed, and we gave it to Brian for Father’s Day, 2007.  The bottom shelf holds a sculpture of a mom, dad, and new baby that I recieved when I was pregnant with The Girl.


This is in the dining room.  The butterfly was given to us by some very good friends for our wedding.  The “simplify” I got at a garage sale.  The photos are all of family.  And the buffet was my Great-Grandmother’s.  I found it in my Grandma’s basement when she was moving, and I begged her for it.  I’m so glad I did, as it’s my favorite piece of furniture.

I was going to include a photo of something that is very dear to Brian and I, because it was made by Manu, but then I realized that it had our last name on it.  It is a beautiful work of art, and I’m sorry that I can’t share with you here.  Instead, here is something that Manu’s mother made for me:


And finally, here is the thing that inspired this post. 


I went to Michael’s the other day to try something to hang on a big ugly wall in our dining room.  I came home with 2 pieces of srapbook paper, a package of red tissue paper, a piece of foam board, and some Mod Podge.  Word to the wise, Mod Podge makes foam board curl a bit, so if you decide to do this, you have to put Mod Podge on the back of the board too.

Now, if I can just get the apartment manager to let us paint this obnoxious white walls…..

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Dear Erica,

 I am sorry that you feel we are disturbing your peace, but I need you to understand our position.  First of all, we have 2 kids.  I am not denying the fact that they can be loud…that we can be loud.  But, the drawback to living in an apartment is dealing with your neighbors and accepting a bit of noise.  In our last apartment, we had incredibly noisy neighbors who kept our kids awake until 10:30 or 11:00 pm every night. I NEVER called on them…why not?  Because it’s an apartment complex and it comes with the territory.  2 weeks ago, we were kept awake until 1:00 am because of our neighbors.  Did we call?  No.  Why?  It was a Saturday night, and it’s an apartment.  We just got over it.

 That all being said, all 3 times you have complained have been between the hours of 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm…reasonable hours for kids to be playing, don’t you think?  The last 2 times (Thursday and Friday) you complained about us, my kids were not doing anything loud.  On Thursday, my son was playing on the computer and my daughter was playing quietly in her room.  Of course, when you knocked on the door, all hell broke loose because the dog started barking and the kids wanted to know who was at the door.  I apologized to keep the peace between us, but today was a different story all together.  Today, at 5:00 pm or so, I received a phone call from David telling me that you complained…again.  Erica, at 5:00 pm, my kids had JUST woken up from a nap, and were sitting down to dinner.  I do not know what activity could possibly be quieter than napping.  The only sounds in my apartment at that time were the laundry and dishwasher.  If that bothers you, than I’m sorry, but you are going to have to deal with it.  I’m not going to rearrange my life to insure complete silence at 5:00 or 6:00 pm.  I mean, I could totally understand it if it was midnight and my kids were jumping off their bunk beds, or I was playing loud music, but that’s not the case.  We were engaging in normal activities at normal times.

 While we are on the subject, I am astonished that you would even complain.  I mean, whenever you are watching tv, I am forced to shut all my windows and turn on the air conditioner (which I try very hard not to use) just so I don’t have to listen to the news and talk shows you watch….I know what you are watching because I can hear every word.  And have I complained, Erica?  Nope.  Not until today, when David told me you had called again.  Then I told him.  Not for revenge, by any means, because that is not me.  No, not for revenge, but I told him because I was hurt and angry and just at my wits end. 

 Now, I’m not unreasonable, Erica.  Obviously, if you work midnights or you are ill or something, just let me know and I will do what I can.  But I am not going to make my kids tiptoe around the apartment, and I’m certainly not going to leave my home just to give you some peace.  It is our home, and I have kids.  That’s the bottom line.  I do try to keep excessive noise to a minimum, but kids will be kids.  What I will promise you is that I will continue having conversations with my children regarding using their inside voices and not running and jumping in the house.  These are normal conversations in my house, and they will continue.  I also promise that we will abide by standard noise ordinances which prohibit excessive noise between 10:00 pm and 7:00 am, according to the leasing office.

 I do feel that I need to let you know that I will be having a birthday party for my daughter in a few weeks.  Now, the majority of the party will likely be down at the pool, but there will be times when five to ten 7 year old girls will be in my apartment.  You are welcome to come and join the festivities, but if not, I would very much appreciate it if you didn’t call David to complain.  I’m giving you more than adequate notice (considering no notice is actually necessary), and I feel I’m being more than fair.

 I do not want to live in a situation where I am at constant odds with my neighbors.  That is an unhealthy situation for anyone.  If you wish to have a friendly, neighborly discussion regarding these matters, I would welcome that.  I’m writing now only because I want to make sure everything I need to say gets said, and because it’s after 10:00 pm.

 Again, if you want to talk this through, by all means, come on up

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I’ve been absent from blogging this week.  As you know, I lost my job last week, and have been trying to apply for unemployment (took 3 days just to get through), find a new job, and start my business.  Plus, The Boy has been sick.  The worst of it though, came on Monday.

When Brian was in high school, he became friends with a foreign exchange student named Manuel, or Manu.  Manu was from Germany, and in the years since high school, Brian has gone to Germany multiple times to visit Manu and his family.  Manu came to our wedding.  Brian went to Manu’s wedding.  They talked via phone and email regularly.  We had kids.  Manu had a son.  Life went on.

A few years ago, Manu was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.  This cancer stripped Manu of his health, his digestive track, and his career.  But it did not strip Manu of his positivity or his love for life.  Brian flew to Germany a few years ago when things weren’t looking good for Manu.  He spent days with Manu in the hospital.  But then, Manu bounced back.  He’s been in and out of the hospital, but always seemed to bounce back.  The last we heard, he was awaiting a new treatment and was feeling hopeful.

Then, on Monday, Manu passed away.  Last week, he was told there was nothing more that could be done, so he requested to go home.  He died there surrounded by his family.

Brian was obviously devistated.  What happened next, though, is nothing short of a miracle.  It was Manu’s wish that Brian be there for his funeral, but we thought it was impossible.  Manu’s father, had other plans though.  He paid for a plane ticket, and as I type this, Brian is on his way to Germany to attend the funeral of his dear friend. 

I am so thankful that my job loss happened when it did, because all of the pieces (which I haven’t even touched on) could never have fallen into place.  I’m thankful that Brian’s boss understood the gravity of this situation and rearranged Brian’s schedule…just hours before leaving on vacation. I’m thankful that Manu’s family has the means to ensure that Brian is able to be there to say goodbye to his friend.  I’m thankful that I was able to meet this wonderful young man, and that he had such a positive influence on my husband’s life.   And I’m thankful that Manu is no longer in pain. 

Manuel, you will be missed.

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