Thursday, September 30, 2010


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Seems like, for the last couple of years, my 3 daughters have just been pushing each other's buttons on purpose. They seem to purposefully find things to do or say to irritate one of the other girls.

I know that a lot of it has to do with their ages. They are currently 16, 12 and 7. I know that Abby gets on their nerves, because she isn't as mature as they are, or into the same things that they are. It's a fact of life, they are all at different stages and that in itself makes liking each other difficult.

But I wish I knew what to do to help them want to get along better.

Having lived in a different town from my 3 sisters for the last 20 years (if you count college), I know what it's like to miss your sisters and wish you could be near them whenever you want. Even for 5 minutes.

I wish I could help them understand how important it is to treat your sisters like they are your best friends. One day they may live in different towns, states, even countries. It can be really hard. Especially when something happens in your life or theirs, and you can't share it together.

Tonight Alex, Jon and I went out for various reasons. Alissa and Abby stayed home. Apparently there was some sort of disagreement between the 2 of them, which resulted in Abby throwing things and Alissa calling her "evil".

Let's just say that within 2 minutes of me arriving home, Abby had been verbally reprimanded and she and I were both crying. She was crying because she's 7 and didn't think she was at fault. I cried because I just don't understand why they can't all get along.

When I start this new job in the next couple of weeks, I will be leaving Abby in the care of Alissa and Alex for an hour a day. If they can't get along, what will I do? I can't be at work worrying about them every single day. And I don't want Alissa calling me every 5 minutes telling me how "evil" Abby has been.

Abby is still upstairs crying, because her TV time before bed was taken away. She's been crying for over an hour, although it has let up quite a bit in the last 10 minutes. Maybe she's surrendering to being tired and finally relaxing into sleep.

So, hopefully one of my very small group of followers will read this and have some words of wisdom to share.

And to my sisters, I wish I had treasured you more when we were younger and annoyed each other. I wish I had known that I'd spend my adult life away from you, so I could have treasured the time we had. Please know that, no matter where I live, I will always love the 3 of you very, very much. If I could change one thing about my life, it would be that we were closer in proximity so that we could hang out more.

Laurie, Shari and Mandy - I love you!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Alissa turns 16 today

My oldest, Alissa, turns 16 today. A milestone birthday.

I've written her birthday letters before, but this one will be a little different. Instead of remembering her birth, which I've done on the blog already, I would like to write a bit about my hopes for her.

Every parent wants their kid to be happy and successful. They want their kids to have a better life than they did (even if their life is pretty great already). I am no different. I want Alissa to have the best of everything. I want her to know that the world's her oyster. She can literally do ANYTHING she wants. She's smart, she's outgoing, she's confident, and she's overall just a great kid.

Alissa's had it rougher than my other 2 kids. She's moved the most. She's been to 8 different schools. She's been the new kid at school, at daycare, in the neighborhood, more times than is really fair. (The other kids don't remember or haven't moved as much obviously.) She is the oldest, which means we hold her to a higher standard, whether we mean to or not. She is automatically the example for her sisters. She is automatically the one we look to first.

It's not always fair. In fact, sometimes it downright sucks, being the oldest. (Sorry, Mom. No offense meant.) Alissa handles it in stride. Sure, she has her moments when she disagrees, or talks back. Doesn't every teenager? Or every kid, for that matter?

But if that's the worst thing we've had to worry about with her thus far (and it is), I'd say we're pretty darn lucky. And grateful.

She's a great kid. I'm lucky to be her mom. When I hear her laugh, I am forced to laugh along, whether I actually think whatever she said was funny. (It usually is.) When I look at her, I can't believe how beautiful she is. How grown up. How mature and strong. She has beliefs. She has a moral code. She has a sense of right and wrong.

I am so proud of her.

I love you, Alissa. I know you're at an age where it's not always cool to say that out loud. But I want you to know I love you. I am so blessed to know you and to get to share the events of your life with you. As you turn 16 today, and prepare for all the things this year will bring - driver's license, Junior Prom, AP classes - always know that I am there for you, with you.

You are never alone. Ever.

I hope that you have 90 more birthdays after this one. But I hope this one creates a memory that you can keep forever. I hope you can remember turning 16 as a great day.

All my love to you this day - and everyday - my beautiful Alissa.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The last of our belongings arrived today...

So, we got the last of our stuff today. The things that we put into storage in Tennessee almost 3 years ago, as we prepared to move from Tennessee to Hawaii. It was mostly stuff that we knew we wouldn't use - an heirloom wooden high chair, keepsakes belonging to each of the 3 kids, yard work accessories, Jon's and my winter clothes, and the car top carrier for the van.

Most of these items made sense to place into storage. We wouldn't need cold-weather clothes, and Abby had outgrown the high chair already. We'd heard the yards were postage-stamp size, and where would we drive to in Hawaii that we'd possibly need a car top carrier?

I smiled as I saw these things returned to us. As my childhood rocking chair came into the house, I teared up, visually remembering Alissa sitting in it at Ft. Knox, rocking her babies to sleep (when she was little more than a baby herself.)

I was thrilled to see my winter clothes and realize that half of them are a size too big. (Man, jogging actually pays off when you stick with it!) My high school varsity jacket even almost closes. Almost.

There wasn't a lot to go through, less than 30 different boxes or items to be unwrapped. As I sorted through each one briefly, I remembered that I haven't seen this stuff since 3 houses ago. (Yes, 3, if you count the 2 we lived in in Hawaii.) That makes it seem like forever ago.

All the items were labeled specifically. I remember walking around behind the movers, writing on the Rubbermaid totes, cardboard boxes, and paper wrapping. I wanted to make sure I remembered this stuff when we next saw it.

But there was one Rubbermaid tote that was curiously not labeled. I knew it was ours, but I couldn't figure out why it wasn't labeled. As I sorted through these things, I pushed aside that tote for last.

After everything else was opened, inspected, cried on (in some cases), embraced, and smelled (these things definitely smell like they've been in storage for a while), I opened the last tote.

I was hoping for a final surprise, and boy did I get one. This tote was full of...

Wait for it...

Tupperware! (and fake-Tupperware, like Gladware, etc...)

I giggled as I wondered aloud what I must have been thinking when I packed this box and marked it for storage. Why did I think it was stuff worth saving, but not worth taking with us to Hawaii?

It's nothing special, just cups and bowls and water bottles. They aren't fancy or expensive or rare. And I didn't even miss most of that stuff (we had a SpongeBob water bottle in Tennessee? Really? I don't remember it.)

Anyway, I got a chuckle out of it and thought I'd share. Guess I've gotten a little boring since I became unemployed, if Tupperware makes me giggle...

Happy Thursday all!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Unemployment sucks

Just random thoughts as I sit here in the house, all alone, while the kids and Jon are out being productive.

I hate being unemployed. I hate it.

Some women want to stay at home all day. That isn't me.

DISCLAIMER: I'm not trying to start the SAHM vs. working-mom debate. I'm just saying that, for me, working is what makes me happy.

The house is nearly unpacked and just about everything is in its intended home. Jon is getting familiar with work and the girls have successfully completed a full week of school.

Things are back to "normal" at Casa Heffner. So now it's time for Mom to go to work.

The only problem is, so far there is no job waiting for me. I mean, I have contacted contracting agencies, and they are looking. But the right job has not come along yet.

It's frustrating.

When I found out 18 months ago that my job was short-lived, I started praying. I prayed that I could stay employed until we moved. (That happened, thank goodness.) Then I started to pray that a new job would find me, one that was the right fit and had some flexibility (so that I could be there for the kids when they need me.) I'm still praying, every day. But so far no job.

And it's tough. I mean, I haven't had to interview in over 9 years. The climate has changed. And, I have experience in lots of different areas of IT - not just one area. That used to be a good thing, but now I worry that it's working against me.

And I'm not sure what to do next. I just posted my resume online (again). I am attending a job fair on the 22nd. And I call/email the contractor every day, just to check in.

I know I'm not the only one facing this. I pray for everyone in my position to find a good new job.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A letter to Krysti on the eve of her 18th birthday...

Happy Birthday Krysti!

I remember the first day we met. Your mom and dad came to Ohio University to help Uncle Jon move his stuff back home at the end of the school year. I think you were about 8 or 9 months old at that time. (We'd have to ask your mom for sure.) They had a pop-up camper and we camped out. They were so gracious to let me stay with you all, since we weren't yet related, and they didn't really know me.

But I knew you. Or at least I felt like I did. On the day I met your Uncle Jon, we had to walk from one end of campus to another to get to the computer lab we were going to be using. He and I had been grouped into a team (with two other boys - which is another story for another day...). As we walked, we talked and talked. I think we both knew very quickly that we'd each met someone special.

And all that way, he talked about his new niece, Christine. All about you, how special you were, your lovely blond hair and how smart you were. Later that week he even showed me pictures of him holding you in the hospital.

You may know this, but you are part of the reason I fell in love with Uncle Jon so easily. He had (and still has) SUCH a love for his family. And the way he spoke about you, it warmed my heart so deeply.

So meeting you was a big deal to me. To me, it sort of meant that I was worthy. That I was meeting his family so soon in our courtship felt like I was an important part of his life. Meeting his sister, who he respects so much, and you - the tiny person who had part of his heart.

You are such a beautiful young woman. You are kind, respectful, smart, confident and warm. You have a smile that lights the room. And you are so funny! (I mean that in a nice way...) You have the whole world ahead of you, and I am certain that you will continue to shine.

I am proud to be your aunt. Alissa, Alex and Abby adore you, and we are so happy every time we know we're going to get to spend some time with you.

I hope that your 18th birthday is wonderful, and that it holds a memory that you can keep close to your heart forever. Remember that, though we may never live in the same city, you are never more than a phone call away. And now that we're back on the Mainland, I hope we'll get to spend more time with you and your family.

As you bridge from teenager to adult, always know that the Heffners are in your corner. We love you and feel blessed that we're in the same family.

Have an amazing day tomorrow and know that our heart is there with you.

Love you!
Aunt Tiffany, Uncle Jon, Alissa, Alex and Abby

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First day of school in Virginia...

Wow, today started early. For me, I guess yesterday never really ended. At my bedtime (starting around 10 pm), I laid down and tried to settle down. My mind kept processing everything - life, job - or lack of, messy house, difficult teenagers, mood swings, lack of parking on our street, the end of summer, and finally - the first day of school. I finally fell asleep around 1:30, only to hear the alarm sound at 5:15. (Yes, we really have to get up that early. The two oldest leave for the bus stop at 6:20.)

For the Heffner kids, every couple of years means being the "new kid" at school. My girls are champs. They handle the first day like a pro. Talk to people right away, make friends before they're even on the bus. They know exactly how to fit themselves into their new lives.

I shouldn't worry. But I do.

I think it's mostly guilt. I can relate to most of the things that my girls are going through or will go through - teenager-hood, menstruation, boyfriends (or lack thereof), high school, driver's ed, being the oldest, having sisters, sharing, and thinking they know everything.

But I lived in the same town my whole childhood. The same house, with the same friends and the same routine for many, many years. I don't know what it's like to be the "new kid". Well, not as a kid, at least. (I have too much experience being the "new grown-up" on the block.)

I hate that my high-schooler has me check her forms to make sure the address and phone number are correct, because we've moved so many times that she can't keep the new address straight.

I hate that my second-grader didn't know anyone on the bus today so I don't know whether or not she sat alone. (She probably didn't, but my worried-mom-brain fears that she did.)

I hate that my middle-schooler is afraid that she won't find her locker and when she finally does, she won't have time to open it or won't know how to get to her next class. (We went to "locker night", but her locker and hundreds of others weren't programmed yet so it was a colossal waste of time.)

Is there anything I can do to protect them from these things? Not really, I suppose. I did everything I could have - talked to them, asked them about their fears, put "love notes" in their backpacks, and hugged them all as they prepared to board their respective buses this morning.

I cried as I watched Abby board the bus. Her first bus ride to school, ever. (Hawaii buses cost extra and I would never have sent her on it. Long story...) She was a trooper. Not scared a bit. But I felt sad that she didn't have a sister or a pal to share this experience with. (Alissa and Alex ride the same bus, to the same school, so at least they have each other...)

I guess I just hate that they have this extra worry, on top of it being the first day of school. It's not fair. But, it's the life we chose. The life we were given - the life that God is confident that we can handle. This Army life. It's been very good to us, but there are tough days, like today, when I wish that Grandma or Auntie lived down the street and that we had more than one name that we could list on our Emergency Contact sheets.

I'm sure that their first day is wonderful, and they all found someone to eat lunch with, and had no problems getting to their classes, lockers, or buses.