It's hard for me to fathom that as of 12 years ago today, a judge declared me a mom.  Life since then has radically changed, mostly for the best.  Some of you will read and declare with eye brows raised, mostly? Yes mostly.  There are things that I miss about being care free and not having to worry constantly about another human being other than myself.  The staying up all night and sleeping all day, drinking and taking off for the weekend.  You think that would have ended when my thirties went out the door but I was still doing it up until my son came into my life.  Would I trade and go back to a more carefree time, hell no. From the moment that I signed up for adoption I knew what I wanted to be.  I knew that my life would change but the difference of someone telling you that and the reality are far different.  

The question for me was not if I was going to adopt but when.  I knew from the age of 22 there would be no "biologically" born children for me.  I was sad at first and it kept me out of quite a few relationships. Perhaps it is why I got so wild in my 20's, I just didn't care enough about a single relationship if I couldn't produce anything from it.  Hmmm, food for fodder but not here, I can psychoanalyze that later.  My twenties was spent in bars, clubs and some pretty wild parties.  Finally in my mid to late twenties I started back to school by adding collage to the mix.  After a few years and speeding my way through as many dates as I could, I transferred to a four year university.  There I meet friends that I still have to this day.  Life was pretty good and had begun to slow down, I was thirty by then.  I still could not make any lasting relationships but didn't think anything about it.  After graduating from collage, getting a job at another university and working 12-17 hours per day, I knew there had to be more to life.  At 40 I decided on two things, I would run a marathon that year and I would start the adoption process.  I did both.  In June of that year I ran the Rock n' Roll marathon, one of the most painful experiences of my life!  Good lord, even with all the training, it felt like being hit by a train.  I swore to never do it again, that ended up being a lie but again that's another story.  I also started the adoption process  before my 40th birthday. A few months later I was on a two year waiting list for a child under 2 years old.  What??  Here is where the timeline gets fuzzy for me (give me a break it's been thirteen years and 2 computers).  Friends of mine also decided on adopting and were going to a country that at the time I had never heard of, Kazakhstan. They were adopting a little girl when I first heard from them about it (they ended up adopting a girl and a boy).  My friend talked to me about the process but at the time the university paid horribly (they still do) and there was no way I thought, that I could afford to do an international adoption.  Yes, I had looked into a domestic non county adoption and they were even more expensive.  Remember this was actually 13 years ago.  My friend encouraged me some more and I finally went to a meeting.  It was there the agency gave ideas on raising money, also that all the money would not be paid up front, you would pay as you go.  Less than a month later I had signed the initial papers and I was on my way.  

It was a year of highs and lows.  Going through the process of adoption besides the money stress, can be stressful and joyful.  The first 6 months were one of just getting the home study, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork.  I think you get the picture.  Finally the day before Thanksgiving of that year, I turned in the entire notarized, apostilled and stamped giant pile of paperwork to my agency.  Please remember also that to that time I had not chosen or seen a child.  This was all prep work.  However that day, as I handed over the weight of at least 10 trees, there was a picture print out of a baby boy on the directors desk.  I told him what a handsome boy and the family getting him would be lucky.  The director raised his eyebrows and said "He will probably be your referral, the family that he was referred to now wants a girl".  Instant tears flooded my eyes.  The director said that he needed to wait a few days and would have the answer.  Two days later he called to offer the referral of the little baby that I had seen.  The picture was of a little guy looking wistfully at the camera and was perhaps 7 months old.  You cannot accept the referral right away as they want you to wait for the medical so that you can review it.  I had no doubt in my mind and knew that nothing in the medical report would change my mind, and it didn't.  He had been born a blue baby as the umbilical cord had been wrapped around his neck but according to the report had begun to breath on his own.  It didn't matter.  I couldn't get his wistful little look out of my noggin.  On December 10th I accepted him as my referral.  Now the painful wait started.  I wouldn't travel until Mid April of the next year.

Traveling to Kazakhstan was actually quite easy if a long trip.  The travel went very smoothly and some 27 hours from take off we landed at 3 in the morning.  We, another woman was traveling with me as she was adopting from the same orphanage, were meet at the airport and whisked off to a hotel.  The next day we loaded onto a train and traveled to Taraz.  There we were once again met by our guides and whipped off to our hotel.  The next 2 1/2 weeks were spent meeting with our babies twice a day for playtime and cuddling. Between times we explored the town we were in, met with locals and were invited to eat with locals. The hotel was beautiful and the food was different but flavorful.  If it wasn't for the stress of why I was there it would have been a wonderful vacation.  Finally the day arrived to go to court.  We dressed in our best and went in to court to see the judge.  I wish that I could remember more but I was so nervous and all of the proceedings were in the Kazakh language.  Near the end the judge rose and speaking in broken English said that she would go out and deliberate on her choice.  It was about 5 minutes that seemed like an eternity, that she came back in the room and asked me to stand and come forward.  She then read a statement, that I cannot remember, but at the end she put out her hand and said "Let me be the first to congratulate you on being a new mom".  I broke into tears at that point and she just kept rubbing my back and asking if they were happy tears.  I could only nod my head yes.   That last year had weighed so heavy on me and the knowledge that I had finally reached motherhood was overwhelming.  I was a mom, holy crap.  It had finally happened.  The thought filled me with fear and extreme elation all at the same time.  Good God what if I screwed this up?  Holy crap, holy crap, holy crap I was a mom.  I wanted to run and hide to quiver under a rock and at the same time stand on the tallest building with my mom cape billowing behind me, hands on hips just to show the world that "I WAS MOM".  Luckily the I am mom won out though I never did get a cape. Ever once in a while the quiver still runs up my spine thinking that I could still screw this up really really badly.  

So far, he's a good kid.  Today is our Familyversary as we call it.  This year we celebrated early by spending it at the El Capitan Theatre watching 29 hours of Marvel movies which capped off with the new Age of Ultron.  Yes, I kept my son out of school for two days so that we could do this together and yes, we had a hell of a good time.  I look back now to that day, that wonderfully stressful, joy filled, anguish and love filled day, that a woman that I did not know, would never see again but granted me a whole new life.  I look back on that day and just to tell the story still brings tears to my eyes.  That day, April 28th, will always be one of the highest moments of my life, so far nothing else has come close.

No this is not sideways, this is how high he can swing, see the trees that are blurry under his bum.
Above all else, Enjoy life.

It's the one you have,
I think I'm in a funk.  No, I know I am.  Since getting released from my job in late December, I've been home most of the time.  Quite a bit of that on the computer.  When I was working I thought how great it would be to be a stay at home mom.  It probably would be awesome, except for the fact that I am the bread winner (my son being much to young to send to work).  That's a joke people.  If it wasn't for the constant worry of finding a job, making money and not losing my house, staying home would be almost awesome.  I say almost since I miss, really miss, the interaction of adults.  I'm used to speaking with adults all day long and now I spend most of my time silently in front of a computer.  It has lead to a funk.  I find myself staring off into space really not thinking of anything or just no motivation and not wanting to get off my computer chair.  Not that I'm not doing things.  I've been studying, I've been building stuff, I've been looking for a job, but it doesn't seem as if it's enough.  I'm not depressed, let me get that right out there. When I mean funk, it is that lack of motivation, that ho hum feeling.  It can lead to depression and that is what I am going to nip in the bud right away.

I need defunking.  Today I decided to get out of the house and go someplace.  However, I didn't want to spend any money.  I grabbed my camera, some water, a hat and headed to the Wild Animal Park (Yes, I know it's called the Safari Park now).  I spent the day taking pictures and working on things like lighting and aperture and so on.  I did get to speak with others that had much, much better lenses then I.  We showed each other pictures we had taken, how we shot it, what we had intended and what could have worked better.  It was a glorious day.  Am I defunked though?  Probably not.  I don't think one day is going to work like some miracle drug.  It did give me time to think a bit though and shake out some of the cobwebs.  
Here is what I came up with:

1. Don't let yourself go into a funk in the first place!  How you ask?  Stay motivated, break up the monotony. Don't do the same thing day in and day out.  If you are looking for a job, limit the time you spend at the computer each time.  Get up, go do something, call someone.  Have an interaction.

2.  Get out of the house.  You don't have to spend money to get out.  Take a bag lunch and go for a walk in the park, at the bench or on a local trail.  I would say go to the mall but for me that would be depressing to know that I had no extra money to buy anything!

3.  Keep a journal.  I blog.  It's my outlet, if you don't blog, journal.  Write down your thoughts and feelings. What is troubling you, how can you make it better, what is the real problem.  Try to come up with solutions that work for you.  List out what you need to do and possible ways to make it happen.

4.  I have begun calling back the places that I have sent resumes to.  Is there a problem, could someone speak to me about their interview process etc.  Some of the companies have been very nice about it, others just simply say if you haven't been called then you did not meet the requirements.  That's ok.  I'm looking closer at all the job requirements now and answering it in the cover letter.  I'm not letting myself be too bothered over the fact that a company did not call me in for an interview.  

5.  Give yourself a treat at least once a week.  Go to a coffee shop or go get your favorite ice cream.  Do that little something that gives you a pick me up.  This is another way to break the routine.  If you have a laptop, or any type of device that gets WiFi or G3/4, you can sit at the library or coffee shop and look for a job. Have your resume preloaded on it.  It gets you out of the house and still looking for a job.

6.  Take an adult learner class at a local college.  Many of these are free. Take a free class on line that is fun.  Again, these can be taken on a laptop or tablet so that you can be out of the house.  Check your local paper for free classes.  Even our small town has quite a few each week.  We also have a new art studio that only charges $10 per person for an art class.  I'm already signed up for one.

I'm sure you can see by now there are all kinds of ways to keep out of a funk or defunk yourself!  You have probably come up with more ways then I did on my little stroll today.  If it gets really bad, talk to someone. A friend, a family member, a church member but someone you know who will listen and perhaps give you a little advice.  What ever you do, don't let it go on too long.  

Tomorrow I have a build to do for my son, his click out stand for his iPad broke and I'm going to make him a new one.  It's a quick build so that I can cycle between the garage and the computer but I have also made some time to go meet a friend for coffee in the morning.  Someone to chat with and perhaps shake out a few more cobwebs.  I'll let you know how it goes!

Enjoy life, it's the one you have,
I did it, went to WonderCon this last weekend.  Oh how I wish now in hindsight that I had purchased tickets for the entire three days.  All I can say is that it was a hell of a good time to see the comic books, the artists, the illustrators, the writers, the cosplayers and the people like me who just geeked out.  

Years ago I used to go to ComicCon in San Diego.  I loved ComicCon but as the years went on, my vacation always seemed to be at the same time.  Our vacations always would take us out of state.  Sadly then to try and get tickets now for ComicCon is almost impossible.  I did try this year, as being out of a job currently there is no vacation for us this summer or rather not like in years past.  I sat in the ticket queue, it's all on line, for an hour before I was told that I did not get a ticket.  Well damn.  I knew that WonderCon was coming up and the joke is that the people who couldn't get tickets for ComicCon go to WonderCon. Well they should.  When I got on line to buy my ticket, I only purchased one for Friday which was opening day.  I thought, what the hell if I need one for the other days I can just purchase them.  Oh how wrong I was.

I showed up Friday at 10:00 am knowing that there would be a line for the badges.  You have to pick the badges up in person.  Luckily I had friends in line already and even better, near the front of the line. The badge pickup was for 10:30.  Perfect I thought.  At about 10:30 we were let into the building, a whoop when up when the line began to move. We moved in and were placed in more stalls to wait.  Here we waited for about 15 minutes and they let us through.  The badge pickup went very smoothly.  Strangely they did not ask for our ID but did ask for our name.  Hmmm, ok.  From there the excitement built.  We were going into the hall.  Nope.  We queued up into more lines.  What?  Here we waited and waited and waited. Finally near noon the cheer went up when it was announced that there was 5 minutes before we would be let in.  Much more than 5 minutes later the lines began to move.  Yeah.  Here is where ComicCon and WonderCon really diverge:  WonderCon is what ComicCon used to be.  All the stalls that we could see were for comic books, the artists, illustrators, writers and developers.  This is not a hollywood moment like ComicCon has become.  If you are a lover of comic books, art, and anime, this is the place to go.  Here is also what I noticed, took stock of and was excited about, many of the artist, illustrators and writers behind those booths were women.  Not just young women, but women in their thirties and forties.  I spent quite a bit of my day speaking with them, commiserating and simply enjoying an art form that used to be mostly for boys and men.   These were strong independent women, many who have given up professional jobs to put everything into making their dreams come true.  I had no idea that woman artist and illustrators had an impact on the comic book industry from the beginning.  Wikipedia has a wonderful list of comics that have been created by women.  I had no idea, really, none.  It was a pleasure to walk and talk with creative, successful woman who have followed what they wanted to do in life.  It was simply inspiring.

This was not the only thing to do at WonderCon though.  The cosplayers, those that come dressed as their favorite character.  Oh. My. Gosh.  Knowing there would be cosplayers, I took my camera and took over 500 pictures.  The cosplayers were simply awesome, all would stop if you asked and pose for you.  You could pose them if you asked.  Many of them I asked to move one way or another and all complied.  These people are doctors, lawyers, biologists, chemists, day traders and every other profession you could ask.  There are also the professional cosplayers.  I spoke to as many as I could.  They were all having so much fun it almost made me wish I had dressed up.  This also got me to thinking that if I did dress up, what would I be?  It would have to be Steam Punk.  I love the steam punk look, not sure why but I do.  If you don't know steampunk, Wikipedia's definition, "....refers to a subgenre of science fiction and sometimes fantasy—also in recent years a fashion and lifestyle movement—that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery.[1][2]".  I mean I wouldn't wear the thing he has on his face but her outfit was gorgeous.  

A Couple at WonderCon dressed in Steampunk atire.
Friendly doesn't even begin to describe how outgoing and approachable everyone was.  Just making eye contact with someone would have them stop and pose for you.  It was incredible.  Oh how I wish I could have gotten tickets to ComicCon!!  Would it be the same?  Would everyone be as receptive?  Well there is one way to find out.  When ComicCon rolls into town, I plan on being downtown, taking pictures and speaking with as many of the costumed cosplayers as I can.  Who knows, maybe I will score a ticket after all!

All in all, if you ever get a chance to do something different, something that few can say they have done, go to a convention like this.  Take the time to speak with the people, look at the costumes, the makeup and the shear artistry of it.  It will amaze  you (or you will hate it and blame me, that's ok too, at least you did it.)

Enjoy Life,
It's the one you have

Captain Jack Sparrow
Doctor Who
It was just the other day that someone told me to "act my age".  Instead of shooting back a sarcastic comment, which I am very good at,  it actually got me to thinking.  What is "acting my age" and who determines how I should act?  This year I turned, ugg, 54.  I don't feel 54 but then again how am I suppose to feel.  Here's the thing, I've never been 54 before so I'm not sure how I'm suppose to act.  I own my own home, have money in the bank and have been fired from my job (how that is relevant is a stretch). However, I still feel like the bank at any time is going to show up and tell me they made a horrible mistake that I'm not grown up enough to own a home.  See that's what I mean, when do I feel my age, when do I feel grown up?   If you said act 30 or 40, I might be able to rethink those times and recreate how I acted (really not that much different than today!).  To act my age now is just not something I know how to do.  Is there an age manual I don't know about?  A secret organization that keeps all that information available to a select few?  I do know that the other day I was in line at the market and there was a cover article that said something to the effect of "what's the proper skirt length for your age".  According to the article for someone my age, the skirt was almost to the ankles.  Really?  My legs aren't that freaking bad.  See, it's the secret society and they want to make us feel old.  If I shopped in the "appropriate" age section, it would be elastic waist pants and flower print shirts.  Not me not me not me!  I still wear my jeans, t-shirts, tank tops and flip flops.  When needed I can put on a dress, curl my hair, slap on some make up and look pretty damn good.  I'm not sure if you have read Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books,  but there is a character with the name Grandma Mazur.  When I am 80 or 90, that is who I want to be.  I want to still be wearing spandex shorts, flip flops, tank tops, bleach blond hair and a wicked smile. Please understand that I am not the only one my age that thinks this way.  Last summer I took my son and nieces to play paintball. Yes, I love this game.  It's awesome.  I mean really, really awesome (Can you believe that I have a degree in science?).  There were men there that were my age if not older and a few woman also.  More and more I am seeing my age set breaking the rules, again not sure who set them, and continuing on with the things they enjoyed in their younger years.  I say why not.  Years ago before my son, I was an avid mountain bike rider. One time when we, friends and I, were riding at BigBear Mountain, I met a woman who was 71 years old who was bombing it down the mountain and on the straight runs.  She was incredible.  That is who I want to be, always.   I want my son to shake his head we we are much, much more advanced in years and I'm ogling the younger men, to understand that getting "old" is a state of mind.

I think one of the things that keeps me "young" is the fact that I have a 13 year old son.  I truly thought that when I had a child, that would be the time I would feel grown up.  Nope.  Instead that young man keeps me young.  Over the past twelve years I have swung on swings, put together an endless amount of Lego toys, run around with full abandonment, dug in the dirt, played board games, colored with crayons, sang songs at the top of my lungs, danced in public, run through amusement parks, played chase in the rain and simply did all the things that made us happy.  Though he is getting older and some things have dropped away, we still play board games, sing together in the car, dance, put together Legos and now we also game. No, not board games, game like in on line games.  I have found that I love to play on line games and xBox games.  I follow gamers on YouTube (I started watching to ensure that what he was watching was appropriate).  I find that the more I stay up with current trends, current events, current music, I find myself not falling into the "act your age".  I like singing to Maroon Five's new songs and dancing to Taylor Swift. The goofy humor of some of the YouTube gamers keeps me in stitches and now I follow and suggest some to my son.  He suggests games for me to try out.  Here is the thing though, I suck at gaming.  I mean I really, really suck.  It doesn't matter though.  My son and I do this together and he gets to comfort me when my character doesn't make it to the end.  We enjoy the time together.  Lately he has been explaining how to play a certain tank game to me.  At 13 he seems to know all about the different tanks used in different battles, the armament, types of ordinances and so on.  Me, I'm lucky if I can remember how to turn left and right.  Mostly I spin in circles and then get blown up.  We have a great time talking about the battle afterwards and what I did wrong.  He wants me to start recording some of my gaming sessions so that we can upload them to YouTube.  Hmmmmm, maybe I should title them "The Worst Gamer Ever" videos.  It's a thought.

In other words, if not "acting my age" brings my son and I together, keeps us talking and helps with our relationship, who cares if I don't "act my age"?  He certainly doesn't care (except if I dance in public).
One corner of my son's room of the Lego toys we have put together. All those boxes also have Lego's. Yes, and I made and built the shelf also.
This is the shelf you can see in the lower right hand corner of the first picture. There is another shelf to the left of this one with MORE Lego toys and the closet has them also, as does the family room.
Enjoy life (don't "act your age"),
It's the one you have,