Monday, November 29, 2004

More Turkey

I usually dread visits home. This time was no exception. There always seems to be some variety of family drama or parental misbehavior that makes us want to pack our junk and go home. This time, I was pleasantly surprised. My parents were on their best behavior and seemed to really enjoy visiting with their grandson. *whew*

My mom started our visit by handing a large box to Tyler and telling him to have his Daddy help him open it. Only one problem...I didn't WANT him to open it yet. It was a birthday present from ME and I wasn't there to see Tyler open it. I had to be satisfied with these 'after-the-fact' photos.



Well...at least he loved it. I sent it up there knowing he would love it and could spend the rest of the week sleeping in his cool new travel bed.

After chewing on some leathery cubed steaks (standard Mom cooking), we visited for a bit and went to bed. I wasn't looking forward to sleeping in their guest room. The bed is one of those really tall colonial beds that you need a set of steps to climb into. Pretty, but they didn't get the matching steps. I injure myself trying to hop, jump or hoist myself up there every time. Not to mention the feeling that you are sleeping on the ceiling and about to fall from a great height at any moment.
To increase our comfort, the room is like an oven and the old shades are curled at the edges. With the nice eastern exposure, you get full sun right in your face in the morning. Tyler was up with the birds every day. Ugh. Back pain, wrist strain, knee injury (all bed related), little sleep and up with the dawn...are we having fun yet? Thankfully, Tyler slept like a rock in his new Spider-Man bed.

Being the nice wife that I am, I let the husband sleep in while I got up with Tyler to fix him breakfast. The day was spent chatting and wandering about in a tired haze. I was so tired, I don't really remember what else we did that day until dinner time. My mother was going to cook, but I couldn't stand the thought of another one of mom's standards. I suggested we treat them to our favorite local Chinese place.

Lotus Blossom has amazing food. The interior is so pretty too. We had pineapple shrimp, spring rolls, fried rice, beef and broccoli, General Cho's chicken (for Dad) and chicken fingers for Tyler. Mmm Mmm!

Ty was really well behaved. It's always a bit of a risk taking Tyler out. He is usually pretty good, but sometimes he just doesn't want to sit still and eat. We have learned to take him for walks, visits to the bar for cherries and oranges, and hand washing trips to the rest room make for great distractions.

Wednesday was also a prep day. My mother had lots of tasks she wanted to finish in order to be ready for the big day. One task that traditionally falls to me is the ceremonial "ripping of the bread". Ha! I just take a couple loaves of stuffing bread and pick it to pieces for the turkey stuffing. This was a task I figured Tyler would love to help with. I was so right! Although, I can't really tell who got more stuffed, the turkey or Tyler. He thought the stuffing bread was very tasty.


Having Tyler to look after got me out of a lot of the major Thanksgiving morning prep work. My mom is famous for putting me to work. This year I didn't even mash the potatoes or strain the gravy (usually my jobs). I missed a lot of photo opportunities, but did get a few pics at dinner. None of the beautiful turkey. It came out perfectly this year. My mother is not a very good chef when it comes to the mundane meals, but she is a pro with the holiday feasts. We had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, home made cranberry sauce (Tyler's favorite and the only thing he would eat) and peas. Dessert was a Friendly's Jubilee roll (ice cream confection) and Mom's home made apple pie. The pie was amazing! I did get a photo of the pie (minus one slice my brother snitched to bring home - he and his wife left early so they could return some DVDs to the video store.) I suspect the DVD thing was just an excuse.


We watched Elf and The Stepford Wives (the new one) after dinner. I thought they were both great. I don't know why they didn't perform well at the box office. I think I am just easily entertained.

Friday we took Tyler to Chuck E Cheese for an early birthday celebration lunch. My parents won't be able to come down for his actual party this year, you see. They were rather horrified by their Chuck E Cheese exposure. The noise, the chaos, the kids, the prices...they were decidedly not impressed. Oh well. Tyler loves it there. Tyler also loved his birthday present from Granny and Grampie. I have a cute video of him opening his gift that I may link to in here later. Also, rather than put more photos in this entry, you can see the rest of the day HERE.

p.s. John and I got to have a date night Friday evening (also documented in my photos). My parents volunteered to baby-sit and shoved us out the door. Other than my friend Norman's wedding, we haven't been out alone in, well, three years! It was WONDERFUL! We made a beeline to Legal Seafoods with chowder on the brain. We killed some time and had a ball at Fun & Games (a local arcade I used to visit in my teen days) and ended the evening with a leisurely browse through Barnes and Noble. I picked up two more books that I don't have time to read. Ha! The last of my photos are of Tyler passed out on the dining room (play room) floor with his bum in the air. He passed out mid-play not long after we got home Saturday night. I guess the all day drive home pooped him out. :-)

p.p.s. Hello and thank you to my new readers. I know I picked up a couple during my feature week. I have saved all the comments from new visitors and will be coming round to your journals for a looksie as soon as possible.

p.p.p.s. There was one small drama during our visit. I've often wondered why my brother and his wife never come down to visit us in NJ. I've invited them often. My mother finally told me that my SIL is holding a grudge (she does that a lot). What did I do THIS time??? Mom started telling me a story of the time she came to visit for a week and they came with my father to pick her up and bring her home. Hmm. It wasn't ringing a bell. Mom continued. They apparently came with my Dad, arrived at dinner time, and Katia was horrified that we didn't have a big dinner prepared to welcome them to our home. Hmm. Doesn't sound like me. I always go out of my way to make family feel welcome. Mom continued. "Oh you remember. You offered to order in pizza and they refused and she was mad because they had to go out to eat. Katia doesn't like pizza." Hmm. Nope. When the HECK was this??
Mom continued..."You remember. I came down for a week to help. When Tyler was born. You were actually on your way to bed when they arrived. They were late." OH MY GOD. When Tyler was BORN? I was a new mother with an infant and Katia was pissed that I didn't wait on them, serve them a big dinner and blah blah blah and she is holding a grudge over THAT. I was SO exhausted that week. It was our first week home from California, I didn't WANT my mother to come visit because I knew she wouldn't be a "help". I'd spend the week taking care of her AND the baby. Which I did. My brother and his wife darken my doorstep just long enough to realize I had no meal prepared and they left in a huff to get "real" food because pizza wasn't good enough for my SIL. Pardon my French...but *&$% them! Who in their right mind expects a woman with a brand new baby to roll out the red carpet and make a big fancy meal for guests who are only going to be there for an hour?!?! Oh, that royally pissed me off...for a bit. Now I just think it's funny and a bit pathetic. What ever. Drama over. LOL

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it. We are at my parents' house and the smells wafting up from the kitchen are KILLING me right now. John and Ty are headed outside to play a little Tee Ball, so I thought I would escape the holiday hubbub for a bit and read some journals. MusenLA was talking about her turkey phobia and she reminded me of my first time cooking one of those big boys.

It was back in my single days. I had just moved into my first apartment and I was eager to assert my new-found independence by cooking a big meal and having a dinner party for my friends. There was only one problem... I didn't feel comfortable cooking in my new kitchen with my roommate about. We were still getting to know each other and I felt more like a guest than a roomie. The solution? Cook the meal and have a party at my boyfriend's place! Perfect!

I had a great group of friends. I knew they would be up for anything, so I decided to really challenge myself. Why not make a turkey dinner with all the trimmings? I'd been helping my Mom do it for years. I was confident I could handle it on my own. John was all for it. (Then again, he was ALWAYS all for it if someone else did the cooking.)

I started spreading the word that Saturday would be the big day. Turkey party at John's place! I was so excited! I knew even if the meal was a total disaster, we would all still have a great time. Then my pal Harry, master of the obvious, said; "Uh...Bec? You do realize it's JULY and you are about to make a meal that requires use of an OVEN?"

Ah yes. July. And it was pushing 90 degrees every day. A heat wave is the perfect time to make a big turkey dinner, no? The solution was obvious. Turn the A/C on full blast and set the thermostat to 50. Problem number one, solved. Then came problem number two. The turkey, which had been defrosting in the fridge for 3 days, was still a touch frozen inside. I mulled over that for a bit, then decided to just rinse the bird under hot water. It needed to be washed off anyway, right?

I propped the turkey upright in a pan, turned on the water and left it to putter around the kitchen getting other things ready. After a few minutes, I went to check my bird. There was something odd bobbing up and down inside the carcass filled with water. Ah yes...a bag full of giblets! Good thing that bird was still frosty or I probably would have missed the neck/heart/gizzard et. al. and it would have added a nice giblet and plastic bag flavor to my stuffing. Problem number two, solved!

The giblets were popped into a pan of water on the stove to boil. Why? I had NO intention of eating them or putting them in my gravy. Hate that. But it was something my mum always did, so...time to stuff the turkey! Grease the outside good with butter, season with a touch of salt and pepper and into the oven she went. Done and done. Don't forget to baste...don't forget to baste...don't forget...door bell!

My friend Harry was early. No problem. I put him to work on peeling potatoes and other domestic tasks. John was off on his second, no third trip to the market to get yet another item I'd forgotten. I was melting hot by this point. Turkey dinner in July during a heat wave? Can't recommend it, but it sure was fun! Hours later the guests began to arrive. I'd timed the turkey badly, it wasn't going to be ready for a while. Good thing each of my guests came bearing a bottle of wine.

Our friend Kerry arrived bearing a bottle of champagne and porn. Porn?? He grinned and said something about British tradition. I didn't question it. The, er, questionable literature was set aside for another day.

Dinner was a smash hit! The turkey was perfect, the mashed potatoes, stuffing, cauliflower and cheese sauce, cranberry sauce...all perfect. I knew I could do it! I also knew I wouldn't be in any hurry to do it again. Now I knew why Thanksgiving was only once a year. Whew!

To top off the evening, one of my guests had passed out on the living room floor. Too much wine and triptophan, I wager. While he was snoring peacefully, we hatched a dastardly plot. His hand was already trapped under his body at a most unfortunate position...so we grabbed onto his pants and yanked them down a tad. Just enough to expose a little, er, crack. Then I grabbed my housewarming gift...the porn magazines my pal Kerry had so thoughtfully brought us. We carefully arranged the magazines around "the body" and propped one open in front of his face (the title was something like Big Jugs or somesuch).

The final touch? Why, photos of course. I still have them somewhere...if I locate them when I get back home, I'll post one here. You don't mind, right Harry? That's a warning kids. Don't drink and eat turkey. Your friends will play nasty pranks on you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Shopaholic

I have a confession to make. I am a semi-reformed shop-a-holic! Seriously!  

My first job, I worked for tips only. Having an all cash income made things pretty easy for me. When the cash was gone, I stopped spending. When my mother realized I was just blowing everything I earned, she took me to get my first bank account-it was a plain passbook savings account. The deal was, I would keep half what I earned and the other half would go into savings for college. (Keep in mind, I was being handed cash every day. Did my parents have any idea what "half" of what I earned each day was? Nope!)  

Under the influence of a new friend, I developed a new appreciation for fashion. I wanted to buy clothes, clothes and more clothes! Working in a supermarket just wasn't satisfying that need. I changed jobs and went to work at an upscale department store. Why? They gave me a 20% employee discount and my first credit card! My first credit limit? $350. Ha! I could get a TON of stuff with $350 and a 20% discount. I took my pretty light blue shiny new Filene's credit card and went to town! The interest rate was only 21% (now I say yikes!) and my minimum payment was $9 a month. I went NUTS! I had my card maxed out in no time. I looked so HOT in my new clothes too.  

That pretty blue plastic card put my name into the credit card ether, that magic place where credit is established and banks learn who you are. I started getting offers for other credit card companies. Next stop? A Sears "Discover" card. (Remember when Sears came out with that pretty black plastic card?) That increased my credit another $1000. Filene's increased my credit limit to $500. Then came the offers from Visa and MasterCard. As I would max out one charge card, that would prompt me to apply for a new one.  

It rapidly became apparent that I needed to earn more money. Suddenly my tiny Filene's paycheck wasn't covering all those little monthly payments I had. I got a second job at Friendly's (an Ice Cream parlor and restaurant chain). Oh man, I hated that job. I was also growing tired of taking a bus over to the Air Force Base to do all my banking. My passbook savings was at the credit union on the base and it was a joint account in both mine and my mother's name (the only way I could get a bank account early on). I abandoned that account and opened a new one at the Baybank in the Mall. Much easier! Plus I got my first ATM card and checkbook.  

I sat down with my Dad and he showed me how to write checks. I paid pretty close attention. (I think I am still doing it slightly wrong to this very day.) He also showed me how to "balance" my checkbook using my monthly bank statement. I didn't really listen to that part of the lesson too closely. How hard could it be? You write down all the money you take out of the ATM and all the checks you write. I did that part. You write down the amount of your deposits. I did that part. You sit down once a month and do the math to make sure you didn't take out more than you put in and that your statement is correct. I didn't do that part. Ever.  

You see, I would go to the ATM and check my balance right there on the terminal screen. If there was money in there, I would take it out. I had overdraft protection on my account and it was almost always in the negative. The bank would charge me fees when I used the funds in the overdraft portion of my account. I never accounted for those when I did my mental calculations of deposits and withdrawals. Yes! I tried to keep track of it all in my head. In my own mind, I thought I was doing a pretty good job!  

Then came my first "real" job. I joined the secretarial pool at Digital. Digital introduced me to the joys of Direct Deposit. Like magic, my pay would get put into the bank every Thursday afternoon. (Payday was actually Friday, but those of us with Direct Deposit got our money a half day early.) I would be at the ATM the instant work was over on Thursday to take out my cash for the weekend.   Was I thinking about my bills? No. I just wanted to be sure I had cash for gas, food and fun. I was making good money, and for the first time in a long time, I had extra left over! Then it happened.  

The crappy used-car my Dad handed down to me gave up the ghost. The transmission fell out on Rt. 62. It was towed away and I never saw it again. How was I going to get to work? I talked to my Dad. I really didn't want another piece of junk car. I'd been through 3 and was DONE. My friend Kathleen gave me a ride to a local Dodge dealer just to take a peek at the cheapest cars they had. I fell in love with a little Dodge Colt E hatchback. I couldn't even afford a stereo or power windows, but I scrapped together enough for the minimal down payment and struck a deal with my Dad.  

He would co-sign my loan if I agreed to commute to college and agreed to pay them $50 a week for living expenses (at first - they asked for more later). Deal! I looked so spiffy tooling down the road in my new white Dodge with the cranberry red vinyl interior.   After only a few months, I was already trying to weasel out of the $50 a week I promised my Dad. I stopped spending. I kept paying the minimum on my bills and now I had a boyfriend (John) to pay for my weekend fun. Poor guy. He had NO idea how bad off I was, financially.

Then I secretly dropped out of college so I could work full time (the subject of another post) and spend more time with John...oh, and have more money too.   Before moving to Massachusetts to be with me, John had been living at home with his parents. He had few expenses and his parents never asked him for any money. He'd been able to amass quite a savings! Moving to MA, buying a new car, getting a new apartment, furniture, house wares...blah blah blah...had eaten away a considerable amount of those funds. But here was a guy who knew how to manage his finances! The boy was GOOD!

When he finally found out the state of my own financial affairs, he was horrified. How could I live like that? Never knowing how much money I really had in the bank. Living paycheck to paycheck. Deeply in credit card debt. He paid off all his bills every month! He began to show me a better way to do things.  

He helped me with finances when I moved into my first apartment. He helped me again when I moved into his old place (he hated MA and was moving back to NJ...I was going to join him after the wedding. Also another post.) He helped again when I decided I needed to economize and move to a less expensive place so I could save for some of the wedding expenses (HA! That's a joke folks.)  

In the end, he financed our wedding. He paid off all my credit cards and got rid of many of them (it took YEARS for us to get out of debt). He spent time showing me the RIGHT way to do my checkbook. Eventually, I just handed him the checkbook, we got a joint account, and he manages all the money. It's for the best. Honestly. [Don't let me have the checkbook back, honey. Ever!]  

I still love to spend! But I have learned restraint. John will tell me when the finances are getting out of control. I am very lucky in that, with a little patience, I can usually buy what I really want. We always pay off all our bills each month. We put large down payments on new vehicles and take the least amount of years possible to pay them off. John pays close attention to the market and interest rates and he refinances our home loan appropriately (only a 15 year mortgage, folks!) How many people do you know who will have their house paid off before they are 50 years old?  

Not too shabby for a (slightly) reformed shop-a-holic. Ooo! Look at the shiny new Visa card John just handed me! Hmm. Wonder if there are any good sales at Gymboree.com...

Fool.com: Getting Out Of Debt -- Nine Ways to Pay it Back
Fool.com: 60-Second Guide to Getting Out of Debt

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Endometriosis

In a previous entry, I talked about the first time I heard the term "endometriosis". 17 was not the best age to throw 6 syllable medical terms my way. I didn't talk to another OB/GYN for years after that. When I finally went back to the doctor to again ask for help with my pain, I mentioned what the earlier doctor had said and the new fellow laughed. "You can't diagnose a condition like endo at 17. Many women have pain before and during their cycles, like you. You must just have a lower tolerance for pain." In other words, Becky, you are just a wimp. Suck it up and take some aspirin. My mother said the same thing. "This is a rite of passage. All women go through it."

Do all women faint in Math class and need to be escorted to the nurses' office? Someone once asked me what my most embarrassing experience was. Here is a good one. I was in the middle of a math exam. I was in horrible pain because my period had just started. Suddenly I was seeing large black spots before my eyes and could no longer hold my head up. I walked very unsteadily to the front of the class and told my teacher, in a whisper, that I felt ill and faint. He saw that I was white as a sheet. He took me out into the hall and sat me on the stairs while he rushed back into the classroom to use the wall phone to call the nurse. He came back to sit beside me and wait. He relayed to me that I should put my head between my knees and breath deeply. That did help a bit. What he didn't know was that I had already been to see the nurse once before, that day. I had been in so much pain, I was feeling nauseous and laid down in the nurses' office for a while. She knew I had my period. What I didn't expect was this:

Nurse arrives. Nurse cracked open this little paper tube under my nose that smells strongly of ammonia and says; "Hello, Mr. Mackie. I know what is troubling Rebecca today. SHE HAS HER PERIOD!" The nurse announced the last part in a rather LOUD voice. Did I mention that Mr. Mackie had left the classroom door open so he could monitor the class while they took their test? Did I mention that the hallways in my old Jr. High School ECHO? Need I tell you that now everyone in my class KNEW what was troubling me...I could hear the laughter echoing down the hall after me as the nurse led me back to her office to call my Mom. Mortifying, to say the least.

On the advice of my doctor, I spent the next number of years just grinning and bearing the pain. I should have bought stock in the makers of Midol and Pamprin. Until I collapsed (see earlier entry), I had no idea what kinds of damage were brewing in my unruly belly.

So listen up, ladies (and gentlemen)...in terms of your health, only YOU have your best interests at heart. Don't let so-called "medical professionals" bully you into ignoring symptoms. Stand up for yourselves! If you know something is wrong, don't sit down until someone figures out what the problem is.

Symptoms of endo include:

* Pelvic pain and pressure just before and during your mentrual cycle.

* Painful sex.

* Fatigue

* Painful urination and/or bowel movements during period

* Other Gastrointestinal upsets such as diarrhea, constipation, nausea.

Many endo sufferers also have frequent yeast infections, allergies and chemical sensitivities. Also, the only definitive way to diagnose Endo is to SEE it through an exploratory laparoscopy.

If you want to learn more about endo, visit the Endometriosis Association website. They have been a great resource for me over the years. (They have a neat interactive thingy that can help you determine if you have endo.) I also belong to an email endo support group called WitsEndo. These ladies are a wealth of personal experience and support.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Blabbity

Finally!! Yay me!


Thank you to the AOL Journals editors for featuring me as an Editor's Pick.

* When I first bought "natural peanut butter", I was a bit put off by the inch of oil floating on top. It took a lot of muscle power to blend that cement thick paste and oil together, but keeping the jar in the fridge really does keep it from separating (and keeps it fresh). Can you tell I am eating a peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwich right now? Mmm! Any ideas on how to get my ΓΌber picky son to try it?

* Had a bit of a set back in the potty training with Ty. Not to be gross, but he's only made a couple nuggets in the poop category. Yesterday he ASKED for a diaper so he could, er, do his business. *sigh* So how do I get him to cut loose on the potty? He's got the whole "pee" thing down. No problem.

* Tyler is also suffering from a horrible case of the I want's. He wants every toy he sees on TV. I may just have to turn off the TV until Christmas or poor Santa is gonna get a hernia trying to deliver to our house.

* Has anyone tried that new 7-UP with the vitamins in it? I am really curious, but I keep forgetting to buy it when I'm at the store. Soda is one of the things John usually gets on his monthly run to Sam's Club.

* I think my hubby is a tad annoyed with me. I was swept up in the joy of holiday shopping and forgot to consider when all these boxes would be dropped on our doorstep. Ooops! I didn't think about things being delivered while we were away. He is concerned that our nice neighbor across the street will throw his back out if my newcoffee table is delivered while we are gone. They usually keep an eye out for boxes and hold them for us if we are away. Oh boy.

* Finally...while researching a mystery structure in a photo my pal Sammie sent us (she wanted to know what it was too), John found this really cool website with all sorts of places off the beaten track in New York. Check out Forgotten New York if you ever wanted to know more about the places they never talk about in the tour guides and cool stuff about the history of the area. I love the subways section. :-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Thanksgiving?

Interesting day today... We went to see our new family attorney to sign our wills (Thanks Meyer!). The fact that John and I have wills now is a great load off my mind. Not that I am planning to GO anywhere any time soon, but it pays to be prepared. Must be all those years in Girl Scouts.

Tyler was very well behaved, for the most part, during our will read-through. Afterward, we took him to lunch. Wendy's again. *Giggle* I think we are in a rut. Since Ty missed his Gymboree class, we took him to his favorite indoor play place.


Time In
is a really neat place. It's like an amazing playground with huge climbing structures, soft play surface and tons of things to keep your average pre-schooler occupied for hours...and it's very safe. They take your shoes at the door, put a special coded band on your child's ankle and give you a sort of claim check. Your claim check code number has to match the number on the child's ankle, or they won't let you leave. Plus you have to be buzzed in and out, so it's very safe.

Now here's my dilema. I want to have Tyler's birthday party at this place. It's fairly pricey, so I need to have more than just Ty's two cousins to invite. Sadly, the playgroup we belonged to sorta fell apart a few months ago. Everyone seemed to be too busy to come and play. I sent all the former playgroup members two dates to check and see if any of them wanted to bring their kids to a party. So far, I only have one response. Pathetic!

I wish my brother or John's sister would have some kids! What is wrong with them? Ty needs some more kids in this family. Sheesh! I feel so bad for him. All the kids in this neighborhood are too old for him, except one. And that kid's mom is so odd. I invited her to join our playgroup and she only came one time. I could tell she felt very uncomfortable while she was here (it was at my house that time). So how do I go about finding more friends for my lonely little boy?

I sure hope this adoption goes through quickly. Tyler really DOES need a baby sister. Big time! In the mean time, I guess we can always grab Grandma and the cousins and just go to Chuck E Cheeses for an impromptu party. Ty will love it, what ever we do.

Now for some fun! I went outside AOL and created a special place to host my little video projects from. If you have a high speed connection (or if you are VERY patient), go here to see a cute little film from our recent snow day. (Kim, Stuart, Karen...you guys already saw this one. LOL)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Your Random Mix, 2004

Assignment -

1. Open up the music player on your computer.

2. Set it to play your entire music collection.

3. Hit the "shuffle" command.

4. Tell us the title of the next ten songs that show up (with their musicians), no matter how embarassing. That's right, no skipping that Carpenters tune that will totally destroy your hip credibility. It's time for total musical honesty. You can put the list in the comment thread, or write it up in your Journal and then post a link in the comments.

This is fun! I've never done this before and can't wait to see what comes up...

1. Laugh Laugh - The Beau Brummels
2. Thank You - Dido
3. Please, Kind Sir - PDQ Bach
4. Kawaipunahele - Keali'i Reichel
5. Orange Crush - REM
6. Girl From Ipanema - Herb Alpert
7. In My House - Mary Jane Girls
8. Alone - Heart
9. Tra La La song - Banana Splits
10. Dancing Queen - ABBA

LMAO! Cool. Let's go for it and give the next 10...

11. Summertime Girls - Y&T
12. Don't Give Up On Us - David Soul
13. Bless The Lord - soundtrack from Godspell
14. The Unforgiven II - Metallica
15. Human - Metallica (what are the odds? 2 Metallica in a row?)
16. That's Where I Went Wrong - The Poppy Family
17. I Think We're Alone Now - Tiffany (now that one is a tad embarrasing. It's one of Hubby's MP3s *cough*)
18. 18 - Moby (the entire album) (WILD! #18 is called 18!!!)
19. Sabbra Cadabra - Metallica (hmm. I think I have a lot of Metallica. Screw you Metallica! I got MP3's of your music! MUHAHAHAHAHA!)
20. Don't Dream It's Over - Crowded House

Monday, November 15, 2004

Sayings

John came in all dressed up and ready to leave for work. He spotted the plate full of freshly cut apple slices I had placed on the table for Tyler.

"You be a good boy for Mommy today, ok? And can I have an apple?"

"OK. You can have a owie apple, Daddy."

"Owie apple??"

Laughingly I explained..."Yeah! An owie apple is one with a bruise on it, Daddy!"

"Ha! Oh! I should have known that..."

Tyler came up with that one on his own. ;-)


Saturday, November 13, 2004

Snow!

Guess what we got last night!!



I can't believe we have snow already...

Friday, November 12, 2004

Outing


We had a nice day out today. Average and boring, but fun for us. John played hooky from work for the afternoon and we headed out to get some lunch, stop at Sam's Club and Shop Rite to get our groceries. Stuart mentioned being interested in photos of our everyday routine. So here you go, Stuart! It doesn't get any more routine than this. ;-) Click the image above or this link to see my little photo documentary.

I love Tyler's little "tuke" (a Canadian style beanie cap) and matching fleece jacket. I bought them on our trip to Niagara Falls. Cool, eh? Take off, you hosers. ;-)

Stocks

Got a nice surprise in the mail the other day. It's not often that I open my mail and find a big check to cash. Now where the heck did THIS money come from? We were puzzled for a while until we figured out it came from the sale of all my shares of AT&T Wireless stock.

This latest buyout transaction left me befuddled. I've seen stock swaps, splits, reverse splits, partial shares and so on...but I have never had a company I invested in get bought out for CASH. A flat $15 a share cash transaction. We didn't get any options in this deal. They just sent us our money. Thanks Cingular.

We took a major hit on this little investment, however. We bought in on the IPO of AT&T Wireless (we took out a second mortgage to finance our little venture). There were such high hopes for this spin off. When Bell Labs was spun off to form Lucent, the investors in that IPO made a killing. Why not us? It was the late 90s! Internet stocks were making people wildly rich! We were all set to cash in on the American dream...getting rich via the stock market.

Alas, AT&T Wireless stock value went right into the crapper almost immediately. The rest of the internet stock boom also went belly up at about the same time. The bottom fell out of the market and our little piece of the pie vanished like a puff of smoke. Ouch. What made it worse? We talked our family and friends into investing in the Wireless IPO, as well. Double ouch. We just sent checks to our fellow investors yesterday for a little less than half what they had chipped in initially. Hopefully they will see their checks as a welcome windfall, like I did, and not a big fat loss to put on the taxes next year.

The difference in the check I got versus the funds that were deposited directly into our investment account upon the sale of the company? I didn't "buy" these shares. The check I got was from shares I was given after Wireless spun off from AT&T. See, I already had a ton of shares in AT&T because I belonged to the employee stock purchase plan for almost my entire career with the company. Every time there was a spin off, you were given a certain number of shares in the new company and the value of your plain AT&T stock went down,accordingly. That's the theory, anyway. I saw it more as a gift. Free stocks just because I owned stock in the parent company. Wheeeeee! So what if the price of my AT&T stock went down a bit. It never stayed down for long. Until the last 4 years or so. It's so sad to see a company that was once an investors dream turn into something akin to junk bonds.

So, back to the mystery check. Mystery solved. These were the shares I got through my employee stock purchase plan. Lovely. That $15 a share is more than my regular AT&T stock is worth, currently. I know there is still a loss to be calculated for the taxes next year...but in the mean time, I am enjoying my unexpected windfall of cash. Check out my new flat panel monitor! Yeah, I've been talking about getting this for a while. But it should actually BE here tomorrow. Yay! Did I mention I was going to rip out the crappy moss colored carpet in my living room and dining room and put in hard wood floors? No? Well, that's the plan. (Hear that honey? I am gonna do it! Seriously! I am calling Home Depot or somebody within the next two weeks! Really! I am going for it! I don't care if we move in the next year.)

Bye bye AT&T Wireless. And thank you Cingular for not giving me any of your stock in trade. I am happy with my cash. Fewer headaches with plain cash.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Reading

Had a warm and fuzzy Mommy moment tonight reading the new story books we picked up today. Tyler snuggled in close and laid his head on my chest as we read bedtime stories. I love moments like this. John ran for the camera but his efforts show a little too much, er, crotch - so I won't be sharing until I can crop and edit a bit. ;-)

Today was our weekly Mommy and Baby day out; morning at Gymboree, lunch at McDonalds, shopping at Barnes & Noble and the Carter's Outlet. Tyler picked out a Spider-man picture book and a Disney "movie projector" gizmo that shines still images from various Disney/Pixar productions on the wall (and has an accompanying story book). I picked out a 35th anniversary edition of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree, a couple of P.D. Eastman books (The Best Nest and Fish Out of Water), and a few Curious George stories.

I was pleased at how good Tyler was behaving in the book store. He was hanging out with a couple of boys in the children's section. They were each pulling books from the shelves and sharing them with each other. Tyler actually sat on a bench and flipped though a book one of the little boys selected for him. It was adorable! Of course, the isle was a bit of a shambles from all the book sharing. The kids didn't quite have the hang of putting the books BACK when they were done. Oh well. I spent a small fortune in there today, so I am not feeling too guilty.

We have been reading to Tyler every day since practically the day he drew his first breath. I have a deep love of reading and have hoped all along to pass that love on to my son. It seems to be working! He gets so excited when he sees the book store. Just as excited as when he sees his favorite fast food place...so that's pretty good!

It's so nice, at this stage, because he actually sits and pays attention to the stories now. He brings us books and asks us to read to him. He even has specific favorites he likes us to read to him over and over. One of his current favs is "Tell Me Again About the Night I was Born" by Jamie Lee Curtis (yes...THAT Jamie Lee Curtis). It has a sweet adoption theme.

It's REALLY difficult to find children's stories with an appropriate adoption theme. There are MANY that talk about international adoption. Stories about China are very plentiful. I just wish I could find a few more stories that are more generically adoption related. I have two on order from Amazon - "A is for Adopted" and "The Day We Met You". We shall see if they hit a chord with Tyler.

Any artists out there want to partner with me to illustrate my children's book about adoption? Heck, if I can't find what I want - I might as well write my own, right?

As for my own reading...I haven't picked up a book in over a month. For me, that's scary. I have a stack on my night table, but I can't even tell you the title of the book I was last reading. I know it's a science fiction classic that has a time travel theme...rats. If I wasn't afraid of waking Tyler up, I'd be going in there right now to look at the title. *sigh* Hopefully I can get back into my habit of reading for a while before bed each night. I'll have to give up my reading in bed routine for a while, I think. I can't flip on the light with Tyler sleeping in there with us all the time now. *big sigh* I guess I can sit out here and read at my desk or sit on the sofa. It's just not as relaxing.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Sister

I've been fighting a nasty cold with hacking cough for almost two weeks now. It's left me with little energy for writing. I seem to think of things I want to write about when I wake in the middle of the night coughing up a lung. But by the time I would drag my near-lifeless body from the bed and come out to the computer (in an effort NOT to wake the sleeping boys with my congestion filled hacking), I would forget what I wanted to type. I've sat in front of this computer a half-dozen times and gone blank.


I've also had this cute video I wanted to share ever since our trip to the farm to go pumpkin picking. This is an experiment to see if I can embed the video right here in this entry. If nothing shows up, you'll know the experiment was a miserable failure. Let me tell you, it looks pretty darn cool here in FrontPage right now. :-) The video is a 4 MB file, so it may be slow to load for some of you (if it works).


Oh well...worth a shot. Right-Click HERE for video and select save target as... from the menu. That way you can just download it and watch it on your own PC, if you like. :-)


7:38pm - P.S. Not sure why video doesn't play all the way through. If you want to see the whole thing, let me know. I can easily email it to you. :-)


11/8 10pm - P.P.S. I think I fixed it! I had to upload to yet another screen name. The whole file is up there now. Right-click the link above and save or ask to open it in a new window. Yay! LOL