Not really a fan of summer

I think she looks how I felt after we were outside for about half an hour today. It was just 80 degrees. It’s going to be a LONG summer!

Jessica Estes

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Summertime

Today is the first day of “summer break” for Joanna. I am already missing school. The last day of Sonshine School was just last Thursday. She only goes twice a week for 5 hours each day. But, I fill those almost 10 hours each week with stuff that is so much easier to do without my 2 year-old helper. I also often get to have lunch with my love. It’s only 3 months and a week of no school, or 26 days, or 130 hours, but man, I’m missing the idea of a break.

I love spending time with my girl! I am so glad we made the decision for me to give up my office job and be the one taking care of her full-time. It’s so cool to see her learning new things, to hear her expanded vocabulary, to get to read together, play together, visit the park together, and to enjoy meals and snacks together. I would not change this situation for anything. Yet, I also love getting a bit of time off. It’s nice to be able to go to a store and take as long or as little time as I like without explaining what’s happening or having to say yes or no to repeated pleas for things. I have also really enjoyed meeting Morgan for lunch many of those days. 

So, I’m lining up fun things for us to do this summer! If it’s free, toddler-friendly, and in the OKC metro area chances are we will give it a try this summer. Our first summer adventure is planned for tomorrow: Bringing Books to Life at the visitors lobby of the Crystal Bridge. It’s a free story time with a nature-themed book and a craft. We love reading and free, so it sounds like a winner! We’ve also made plans to meet a friend at the zoo Thursday morning.

The zoo has “story time safaris” Tuesday mornings in June and July at 9:30 and 10:30. I’m hoping 9:30 is early enough that it’s still cool enough to be outside. If so, and if she enjoys it next week, that may be a weekly event for us. A wonderful thing about having a zoo pass is that we can go for just an hour or so and not feel like it was a waste of an entrance fee. 

Wednesday mornings I’ve signed up for a Bible study at church. It has childcare provided, so for Joanna that will be “play time at the church”. She’s already been asking about the story time we had been doing at the Edmond library, so we may have to delay lunch and nap and swing by that after Bible study some weeks. They took a break in May and she seems to have noticed and missed it.

Thursdays the Edmond library has concerts in June and July. We’ll probably make it to many of those. 

So, if all 3 of those work out we just need a Monday and Friday plan to round out our schedule. I’m thinking museums on Friday may be an answer. We have a pass to the Science Museum and we recently visited the Edmond Historical Society & Museum and enjoyed it. 

While there is a great park we can walk to right here in our neighborhood and many others around town, once it’s much over 75 or 80 I start to feel like I’m melting when standing in the sun. So the trick is to visit early or find other inside things to do in the summer. If you’ve got time to hang out with us this summer, we’d enjoy the company, just let me know.

Thankful for flower bulbs

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Flower bulbs are great! A friend gave me some about 4 years ago that my dad helped plant when he visited for Thanksgiving. That one afternoon of labor has resulted in continual enjoyment for us. Each spring as they come up not only do I get to enjoy the beautiful flowers, but I’m reminded of my dad’s labor planting them as well as my friend’s generosity in sharing them. This is the second year my sweet daughter has been able to enjoy them too! Yes, she’s in her pajamas in this one…it’s getting hot enough we go outside in the morning even if we’re not really dressed for the day 🙂

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Suicide Sucks.

We attended a funeral last week. It was one of my husband’s family members. At 88 years old she had been in a nursing home as long as I have been in the family. I visited her twice. To be honest they weren’t pleasant experiences. Meeting a stranger with memory and hearing problems in a nursing home just isn’t fun. But, attending her funeral made me think about other funerals I’ve been to over the years.

I believe the first funeral I can remember was one of my great-grandmothers who passed away when I was pretty young. I know this number isn’t complete, but in just a few moments I can think of 15 funerals that I’ve been to over the years for a variety of friends and family members.

So, being at the funeral home and cemetery last week to honor the life of an older woman made me think of all those other occasions that I’d done similar things. Though there are similarities, each situation was different and each had it’s own type of sadness.

But, for me, by far the worst were the 2 funerals I’ve attended for family members that have committed suicide.

The most recent was in November of 2011. My cousin had made the horrible choice to end his life. My daughter had just turned 2 months old, so the three of us flew in for the services. As I walked from the car with her to the place where my cousin would “rest” I recognized that his plot was not far from my mother’s. I gave my sweet girl an earful of thoughts that she’ll never remember hearing.

I told her that I loved her, that I hope she never ever doubts that love. I told her that suicide is the worst decision a person can make. I told her that we didn’t need to all be there experiencing this terrible grief; that he could have done something different. I told her that she needs to always know that there are more choices to make, that suicide is one of the only ones that truly is permanent. I told her that though she will have tough times, this solution that ends at the graveyard is never the right solution.

Sickness is bad, funerals of loved ones who died from illness are hard. Accidents are shocking, funerals of those die in accidents are painful. But the funerals for those who lost a battle with their mind and gave in to suicide are just awful.

Funerals that result from suicide suck. These are ones that truly are preventable. Those funerals don’t have to happen. Those people could wait to die another day, from another cause.

See, in my situation, having a mother who committed suicide has had quite a list of consequences. Three of us finished growing up without a mother. She wasn’t there for special events, wasn’t there for birthdays, graduations, dances, little league games, band concerts, weddings, births, just everyday fun stuff. She’s not here to hug the grandchildren, not here to love on my daughter and give her the special things only grandmas can give. Not here to make special meals with/for us to celebrate. Not here to cheer on my nephews and niece as they explore competitive ventures.

The anniversary of her death was a bad day for years. In fact, a whole holiday was tainted, if not ruined for me and some of my family for many years because of her choice.

But besides all those things she missed, all those things my brothers and I got to do without her, we each had our own list of questions/doubts to deal with. As I continued to grow I found myself thinking that if she had just loved me she would have stayed around, so maybe I’m not that lovable. Yes, plenty of other people loved me, and showed that in a whole variety of wonderful ways, but always at the back of mind, adding a bit of doubt was her choice, making me wonder why didn’t she choose to be there for me.

So, if you are struggling – please, please, please seek help. You may feel alone and uncared for, but I can assure you that someone, somewhere does care about you. If you give in to the feelings and end it all, they will grieve. For some that grief will be very difficult to get through.

Subtitling Success!

After attending WordCamp Austin 2014 I decided to try and contribute by working on subtitling videos. Seeing as I am not a developer and sometimes it sounds like a foreign language when those guys and girls get to talking I knew I’d have to be selective about which videos to try and work on. But, I figured it was worth a shot since there is such a variety of videos, including ones that aren’t very technical.

This seemed like a way to contribute to a great thing, share in one my husband’s interests, and keep up some computer skills while I’m staying at home with our toddler and not spending much time working on a computer anymore.

So, here’s how it went…

  • First, I read the post on wordpress.tv about how to do it.
  • Created an account with Amara, the recommended program for this project.
  • Read their instructions.
  • I then looked for a video that didn’t sound too technical.
  • Found one that was listed as popular, thought “hey, that could be a good one to get done”, clicked on it, found that what I saw didn’t match the instructions, and a bit later figured out that was because someone else had already started on it.
  • Realized I don’t know the etiquette – like, should I go ahead and pick up where that person left off? Or, should I not? Would they be glad, mad, who knows? So I “unfollowed” it and looked for a new one.
  • Noticed a video from Chicago 2013 WordCamp by Matt Medeiros titled “Land Bigger Clients While Working From An Island”. Thought I’d heard his name before and found the title interesting.
  • Decided to give this video a try.
  • Started watching and subtitling the 36 minute video.
  • Wondered about guidelines… do I type every word he says? Do I add punctuation? Do I try and use proper capitalization?
  • Paused and restarted a lot. This guy talks fast!
  • Did this over several days as the toddler was at Sonshine School or napping.
  • Had Morgan edit it for technical jargon I didn’t understand.
  • Finished, reviewed, and submitted.

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It took about a day after I submitted it before the subtitles were available for everyone to see!

Based on encouragement from Jen Mylo’s keynote I decided to pledge 24 hours worth of subtitling. This one 36-minute video took me about 7 hours! I’m hoping some of that was just the learning curve, creating accounts, etc. Otherwise this may not be the job for me 🙂

So, now I’m ready to do another one.  The trick is figuring out which one. Finding the right mix of not too technical, not too fast, in English, and one that people will find useful.

We love Chick-fil-A!

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Chick-fil-A is great!

Yummy food, free WiFi, friendly and helpful staff, good lemonade, grilled nuggets, fresh fruit, free Cheerios for the kiddos, stick-on placemats, coloring pages, board books of PBS shows for the “under 3” toy, and a fun playground.

We came for a snack and J is having a great time coloring a picture for Daddy while I get to hang out and enjoy free refills of Dr. Pepper.

As she finished coloring and was ready to head to the playground we saw some friends, so she got to play with some other little ones and their mom and I got to visit.

We always have a good experience here.

Oh yeah, it also has the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve found at a fast food place.

Why we will continue to hoard electronic stuff

My phone died recently. On my birthday to be exact. We were driving back from Austin, TX and it died completely right after we finished making arrangements to meet a new friend for lunch. By “died” I mean it wouldn’t turn on, it would occasionally start to turn on and then just turn back off. Nothing. Talk about a bummer – a whole day in the car with no way to see who was wishing me happy birthday on Facebook, no way to get those birthday calls or messages. Bummer.

My sweet 2 1/2 year old daughter did repeatedly say “happy birthday mommy” from her car seat behind me. And while that was heart-meltingly sweet, I still felt the lack of being connected to the world.

So, while I will readily admit that if a dead phone, lost pictures, and inability to be connected to the world is my biggest problem, life is pretty good. Yet it was still a problem. Since we don’t have a home phone, I feel a definite need to have a working phone and be able to make phone calls since I have a toddler at home. You know, it’s when I have no way to communicate that she’ll fall and crack her head open and need to be rushed to the ER.

The dead phone is an HTC One S. While I really liked the cool camera on it, it took some getting used to at first. I switched from an iPhone 3GS to it. The HTC seemed much larger. It was so much wider that my hands struggled with the keyboard, I couldn’t use just one hand like I had on the iPhone. I also had a hard time at first holding it in a way that I was speaking into the microphone, so anyone I was talking to often told me they couldn’t hear me. Already I had replaced it once under the warranty because it would randomly restart. Then the power button that makes it “wake up” quit working.  That seemed to be a known issue, yet the solution from the manufacturer was to buy a new phone. Buying a new $700ish phone wasn’t going to happen, and though T-Mobile no longer has contracts, we’re still in one with them so I couldn’t just switch carriers, sign a new contract and get a better deal on a new phone. My solution was to use a “shake to turn on app” that my wonderful husband helped me find. My frustration with these hardware issues has me ready to go back to Apple when the current contact it up. Even though they continue to release new phones it seems they are a bit more invested in customer satisfaction.

To solve my dead phone issue we gathered up some old phones from the house. We had a pre-paid T-Mobile one that we bought several (at least 4) years ago when another TMobile phone quit working for me. We also had the old iPhone that I used before the HTC. It was working when I stopped using it, except that the button to switch to silent no longer worked properly. Tuesday we went to the T-Mobile store and asked what could be done. Here’s how that conversation went:

Me: This phone seems to have died. Any chance you can make it work again?

Employee: Let’ see and he tried turning it on and the same thing happened, no magic air in the store to resurrect the phone. He said I could buy a new phone.

Me: Umm, not ready to buy, can you make this iPhone work?

Employee: Yes, if it’s unlocked.

Me: How do I unlock it?

Employee: Call AT&T and they’ll help you it can take 2 days.

Me: While I wait for that, can you make this tiny phone work?

Employee: Yes, it needs a TMobile SIM card, I’ll be right back.

The tiny phone was dead, as it had been in it’s box for a few years so he couldn’t test it. I left the store with a hopefully working once it was charged tiny phone and instructions to unlock the iPhone and the dead HTC.

Once charged the tiny phone worked. Using it reminded me of being on a Let’s Start Talking project, as we had very similar phones on projects in China, and I think Brazil and/or Panama. It even had a slot to add on a cord or piece of bling. It worked to make phone calls, no more Facebook, Twitter, email, games, map programs, contacts, etc. Just a phone. It’s amazing how accustomed I had come to have much more than a phone on my phone.

By Thursday AT&T had unlocked the iPhone and I went back to the store to get the SIM card transferred into it. It worked. It’s way slower and can’t update to the most recent operating system, so some apps won’t work,  but it works.

I’m glad to have a working phone again that allows me to do the social media thing as well as make calls, send texts, get directions/navigational assistance, and take pictures. However, I’m looking forward to getting a new phone and new carrier in December when the contract is up with T-Mobile.

Why did I start a blog?

Why blog? For me, there are lots of things that all came together making this feel like a good time to start blogging

  • I gave up working in an office and now I stay at home with our toddler
  • Being home with her means it’s easy to feel out of touch with the rest of the world, including technology
  • My husband loves WordPress and I like to know about his world
  • I attended WordCamp Austin – a great experience
  • It seemed a good place to try to keep some memories
  • My phone died and I lost some cool photos, posting them here instead of just in the phone seemed a better plan for the special ones

I have no idea how often I’ll update or how diverse my topics will be, but it seemed a fun thing to give a try!