Thursday, December 29, 2005

Christmas Wrap-up

First let me say THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to comment on my last entry. Your thoughts did more for me than I can ever express. I love all of you!

And thanks to Karen for the wicked cool calendar and ornaments! I never knew you were so crafty! And that vintage ornament...wow. I cried when I read the back. I am sooo sentimental. Or maybe it's just "mental". Ya know... Did you know that our first Christmas tree as marrieds had a cat theme? LOL I was a little cat crazed back then.

As for Christmas...it was very nice. Cozy with just the three of us. Tyler said "This is the best Christmas EVER!" So that made us feel good. Front runners for favorite gift are his Pixter Multimedia (he is loving the mazes), his doctor kit (he has been having a ball giving us all checkups and giving poor Mommy lots of "happy shots"), his mini-trampoline and the foam disk shooter gun his Aunt and Uncle gave him...his first projectile weapon. Oh boy! He had a ball shooting his Mommy in the butt (big hilarious fun) and knocking down the targets that came with it. You can see the look on his face when he first opened the shooter. I could just SEE the wheels turning as he had his mischievous thoughts.

The only crushing Mommy moment (other than the ongoing family drama) was when Ty first opened his doctor set. I had specially made a doctor's lab coat with a name badge that said Dr. Tyler on it. I thought he would LOVE it; want to dress up as a doctor and play...but no. He said "I'm not going to wear that!!!" and when I begged him to wear it just for a minute so I could take his picture, he started to cry. It took some time for us to talk with him and find out what about that lab coat was making him so upset. Turns out he associates the lab coat with his last visit to the Doctor's office where the lady in the lab coat gave him two painful shots (that subsequently made him REALLY ill). Ah. The lights went on in my brain, but I was still horribly disappointed that we wouldn't try his cool new Doctor coat on. *sigh* Maybe the shot trauma will fade with time.

Photos can be seen here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Insanity 101



For those of you out there who are struggling to lose weight; have you ever gone out to eat and you watch while a pretty, thin person at another table digs into a wickedly sinful dessert and you think to yourself - "Oh man, I just hate them."

Or you are sitting on the beach and a girl in a bikini with a perfect figure walks by and you think, "I hate you!"

Of course, you don't REALLY hate them. Maybe you just really really dislike them a whole lot. But do you really? Well...maybe YOU do. But I don't. No. The person I really really dislike a whole lot is ME.

No. Really I HATE me. With a white hot passion. I mean really. Who would want to be me? No one looks at me and thinks, "God I hate you...I wish I were as large as you are. I wish I were infertile. I wish I needed a hysterectomy. I wish I had chronic pain from a debilitating disease. I wish I suffered from depression. I wish I had no friends close by to lean on or do things with. I wish I were physically incapable of maintaining my home in a pristine and neat fashion." OK. Maybe a few women (and men) might think, "I wish I had HER husband and child." But that is about all I have going for me.

So who do I turn to when I want to work through all the insanity rolling around in my head? I can't talk to my parents. They agree with the insane me inside my head. I SHOULD hate myself. No one can love themselves when they look the way I do. My parents are ashamed of me and lie to their friends about me to hide the truth.

I have a couple of friends who live far away. I can talk to them, but they have heard it all before and they have big problems of their own to overcome.

So I turn to the one outlet where I know I can work thought my internal insanity. I write it all down and work through it with words. I get the insanity OUT of my head, into black and white, where I can read it with the rational side of my brain. An added bonus are the handful of kindly stranger friends who happen by, read my insane drivel, and sympathize. They understand this insanity. They relate to it. They write about it too.

Now, one of my random rants that had a "God, I hate her..." theme has been taken completely out of context, taken LITERALLY, read and completely misunderstood and then used as a weapon to rip apart what little happiness I had left in my miserable life. They didn't get the whole "I hate her...no I hate MEEEEEE" thing at all. Why? Because it's impossible to understand self-loathing when you and your life are perfect. It's impossible to give me the benefit of the doubt when all you see when you look at me is someone not worth knowing because I am disgustingly fat, seemingly lazy, seemingly slovenly...someone you have already decided is worthless.

I'm not supposed to blog about stuff like this anymore. I was told to be more generic. I can't name names. I can't put my insane rantings in a public forum...I need to censor myself. I don't know if I can do that and still derive benefit from my formerly therapeutic outlet. John told me to start a private blog. I've tried to have multiple blogs in the past. It doesn't work. After a couple entries, they fall by the wayside. This main blog is just that. My main blog. My primary. My place to write everything and anything about where life has taken me.

Innocents are being hurt over this misunderstanding. I hate myself even more (and I didn't think that was possible).

Maybe tomorrow I can stop crying and try to post something cheerful. Something worth reading. Something that can't be misconstrued, twisted and thrown in my face in a glorious "Ah HA! I knew she was worthless..." moment.

I hate me. It sucks to be me. Thank God a couple people love me anyway (but I have no idea why.)

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Turkey Lurkey is Roasting in the Oven...

Turkey Lasagna... Turkey Scallopini... Curry Turkey Couscous... Crockpot Turkey Kielbasa Stew... Cranberry Turkey Muffins... (MUFFINS???) Turkey Minestrone... Turkey & Beans on Rice... Turkey and Mixed Veggie Stir-fry... Turkey Schnitzel with Applesauce... Turkey Fajitas... Turkey Creole... Turkey Legs Osso Bucco... Turkey with Peppers & Eggplant... Mexican Turkey Frittata...

*sigh*

Time to go baste.

Shh! Santa just left...


It's 1:00 AM and I couldn't resist snapping a few pics of Tyler's latest Christmas treasures. I just wish Santa wouldn't leave the assembly chores to US. Heh. I think Ty will be pleased. I am wondering if he will leave his mini-trampoline at all to go down into the living room to see the rest of his presents. Last year when he got his Spiderman play house and the Spiderman and Friends rescue center (or what ever it's called), he parked himself down to play immediately and didn't even open the rest of his gifts until the next day. This is the problem with having limited space in the living room. Santa leaves the large items upstairs where they get spotted first.


For those who were curious, yes I did manage to find everything I needed at the supermarket today...er...yesterday. The only problem? There were only 2 fresh turkeys left (remember, I couldn't buy frozen because it's too late to wait for a 3 day defrost)...20 lbs and 21.7 lbs. Oh boy! So yes. I am cooking a 20 lb turkey for THREE PEOPLE tomorrow morning. Eh. That's ok. I love turkey and I can freeze the leftovers. We'll have turkey soup, turkey tetrazzini, turkey sandwiches, turkey salad, turkey kabobs and anything else I can think of. ;-)

I probably won't have time to post later today (but then, you never know)...so Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Eeeeeee! I can't wait until morning. What is more fun that watching a kid at Christmas? Well, maybe BEING a kid at Christmas; but I'll settle for the former.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Blabbity

  • In a frenzy of activity this morning, while Tyler was at school, John and I got most of the presents wrapped and hidden away in his office. Originally I was just planning to put most of the gifts under the tree, unwrapped (the way my parents did it) but John likes to watch Tyler shred paper and reveal his gifts one by one. M'kay. I don't have a problem with that. ;-) There are still a couple of large items that will give me that treasured *gasp* moment for my video.
  • I still have not shopped for our Christmas dinner. Yes, I am a major procrastinator, but this is epic even for me. It's 2AM and I'm crossing my fingers and praying the supermarket still has turkeys, stuffing bread and other essentials when I go there tomorrow morning...er...later this morning.
  • One of our Hawaii relatives sent us a card this year with a little something extra tucked inside. Ever since Tyler was born and they sent us a lovely gift for him, I have included them on our Christmas card list. This is the first year they have sent us a card in return and to find a note and that little extra surprise was, well, a shock! A very nice shock, to be sure! The note had some very sweet comments about Tyler. I guess they have been enjoying the annual photo and progress report I send. Thanks very much to Tyler's Great Uncle and Auntie! We hope to come visit you soon!
  • What happens when Mommy gets all frazzled and wrapped up in last minute Christmas prep? Well, for one thing, she forgets to clean the one non-self-cleaning cat potty in the house. Poor Sparty doesn't have his own LitterMaid yet. I just figured that eventually he would start using Sasha's. Nope. I guess he likes having his own litter box (a necessity back when I had to keep these guys segregated until Spartacus could be certified pestilence free). So what's a clever kitten to do when he has to make sissy and his potty is too gross? Well...he noses open the hinged lid on the giant tub of scooping cat litter I bought for him and uses THAT. Wasn't that a shock for Mommy when I finally got around to cleaning his potty, only to lift the lid on the tub of "clean litter" to find...uh... Sparty! How the hell did you get IN there?! I was laughing my butt off trying to picture the maneuvers he had to make to climb in there, stick his head out of the lid and do his business. Unreal!
  • What else gets neglected when I get too busy? Check out the hairdo on my little man (photo from his school holiday party on Wednesday). Oh my! Someone's hair is out of control! Luckily Daddy came to the rescue and took Ty for a haircut yesterday. Wait 'til you see him. New photos coming soon (probably just after Christmas).
  • ...and if I don't see you later; Good Afternoon, Good Evening and Good Night! Oh, and Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Birthday Boy

Just wanted to take a moment and wish my hubby, John, a very happy birthday. Hunny, you are a wonderful man, husband and father. We love you!

Hope you liked the home made stir-fry and chocolate blackout cake. ;-)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Ho Ho Ho!

I finished my Christmas shopping!!! Whew! Some items I am worried about...will they arrive in time? I'll just have to sweat it out and cross fingers. I can't believe how long I waited to finish shopping this year. Thank goodness so many websites were offering free shipping deals or I would have gone broke from all the expedited shipping charges. I'll give a shout out to Barnes and Noble.com and Overstock.com especially. They were among the few to GUARANTEE delivery by 12/24. Overstock even has free expedited shipping on selected items. Very cool.

Tyler is still struggling with the aftermath of his latest vaccinations. He still has a low grade fever. The doctor put him on a 10 day course of antibiotics. It's day three and that fever isn't budging. Otherwise, he is acting pretty normal. He is eating a little less than he usually does, but he isn't ACTING sick any more. I'm not sending him back to school until there is no trace of fever tho.

Hopefully John's work schedule is light this week. I hope to sneak out one day this week to pick up some stocking stuffers for Tyler. I have such fond memories from my youth regarding my Christmas stocking. For a number of years my mother would hang these south western style hand-knit SUPER long stockings by the fireplace. They were so long that, once filled, they would stretch from the hook they hung on clear down to the hearth. My brother and I would save them for last, after opening up everything else under the tree.

The stockings would be filled with fun stuff like Christmas candy, small puzzles or games, little stuffed animals, and for me - some cool Avon products. I would get tasty lip balms, fun shaped soaps, and cool jewelry. (A friend of my Mom's was an Avon lady.) I miss all that fun Avon stuff. Anyone remember those neat puppet wash cloths that came with their own character soaps? Who can beat a combo bath and puppet show? I still remember the year we came running downstairs to find Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch watching us from their perch...stuffed into the top opening of our stockings.

I want Tyler to get that same thrill from the little treasures in his stocking. Last year he was so overwhelmed with what was under the tree, the stockings were forgotten until the following day. Nothing wrong with prolonging the Christmas joy, eh?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Quirky MeMe

Karen tagged me a few days ago...so just for her:

5 Quirky Things about Becky

- I wrap leftovers and save, no matter how little there is left. I hate to waste food. The problem is these leftovers rarely get eaten so I end up tossing them once then get old and moldy.

- I just asked Tyler to tell me something quirky about his mommy and he said "You poop in funny colors...like orangey green." Um. Oookaaaay. Not that I've ever noticed this myself, but that sounds pretty odd.

- I like to go through my day mostly in the nude. Only at home, of course. I think I should move to a warmer climate.

- I like to eat my Skittles (and other multi-colored candies) in color order. First all the orange. Then all the green and yellow, in pairs, to make lemon-lime. Then purple. Then red. My husband thinks this is odd (he just chows on them by the rainbow handful). I like to savor the individual flavors.

- I like mayo on my french fries. Heck, I like mayo on just about anything. But I hear mayo on fries isn't that odd in some parts of the US and some foreign countries.

- I love the smell of a freshly opened Pepsi. And only Pepsi. I don't feel the urge to sniff Coke, Dr. Pepper or any of my other favorites. Yep. I definitely don't sniff Coke. ;-)

Oh wait...is that 6? Oh well. Good enough. I think I'm supposed to tag 5 people, but most of my journal pals have done this one. Sara S? Andrea...you don't do MeMes, right? Kim, if you were still keeping your journal I'd love to see how you respond to this. LOL Holly? Stacy?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Mother Never Told Me There'd Be Days Like These

...well, actually she did. But I didn't believe her. Mother has a tendency to exaggerate.


No, Tyler isn't giving you all the finger. He is sadly showing off his bandaged digit because not only did he get a prick in the finger for blood work today at the doctor, he also had to have 2 shots. Poor kid has had a REALLY rough day.

My day started at 5:30 this morning when I woke to the sound of beeping in the hallway. It was the carbon monoxide detector. Once I had swallowed my heart back down into my chest, I realized one of the cats had knocked it out of the socket in the wall. I read a few journals then decided to try and go back to sleep once my heart rate returned to normal. I also decided to turn off my alarm clock. With how much Ty was rolling around, I figured he would wake at any moment.

Fast forward. Tyler wakes at 9:10am. That is 10 minutes AFTER he is supposed to be AT school. Ooops. The crying started immediately. He wanted to stay home (he really hates to be rushed and was resisting eating, washing, dressing...plus he knew he was going to the doctor today.) Drop off at school was a really ugly scene. He threw himself to the floor sobbing hysterically and begging me to take him home. *sigh*

It felt like I barely arrived back home only to turn around to pick him up again. His substitute teacher informed me that he hadn't touched his lunch. (I don't care for how his sub is handling the class...but that is a topic for a rant post at another time.) Time for a swing through the McDonalds drive-thru.

Things were quiet until 3pm when I announced it was time to get ready to go. Another hysterical meltdown and we were off. Did I tell you all that John just changed jobs again? More on that later. New job means yet another change in insurance. We don't have our cards yet. Luckily that didn't turn into a big stinkin deal (honey? We need to fax a copy of both sides of our new card to the doc's office ASAP, FYI.)

Tyler's doctor is super nice, but we always have a loooong wait in the exam room. Ty would periodically well up with tears and ask, yet again, if he was getting a shot today. I distracted him by making a trip to the potty. It's always fun peeing in new toilets. Ty likes to try them out where ever we go. The doc finally arrived, gave Ty a nice thorough exam, pronounced him terrific, and then said he was getting 2 shots AND a blood test, vision test and eye test. Oh, and could I get him to pee in a cup? *sigh* No go. I wish someone had told me they wanted that when I asked where the restroom was at the check in desk.

Ty did a great job on his vision chart. I should have told them he could use a standard chart with letters (since he knows them) but they used a chart with pict-o-grams instead. It was fine. The hearing test hasn't changed since I had one, like, 34 years ago. Headphones and raise your hand when you hear a beep. Pretty standard.

Then came the blood test (prick in the finger) and 2 shots. Poor Ty just sobbed and sobbed. I felt so bad for him. TWO HOURS had passed by the time we got out of there. It was dark. And rush hour had begun. A normally 10 minute drive took us 30 minutes to get home. Ty fell asleep. I don't blame him. I just wanted to go to sleep too. This day just wore me out!!

I did get to see some lovely Christmas lights on the way home. I think we'll take an evening drive this weekend.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Alerts, Anyone?

I've added a new doohickey to my side nav area...

One of those FeedBlitz signup forms.

In case you don't care for BlogLines and you want to get an email alert when I post something new in here, just drop your email addy into the form over on the right and click the SUBSCRIBE ME button. I gotta make things easy on my tribe, right?

Now I've just gotta figure out why my side nav menu has gone AWOL again. *sigh* Just scroll down if you don't see anything on the right. LOL

Holidays and Family

The holidays tend to bring out both the best and the worst in me. Joy and wonder join hand in hand with depression and stress. What I hope for is something to tip the balance toward the joy and wonder side. My immediate family (John and Tyler) go a long way toward helping in this. And then there is my chosen family...

I heard a great quote on one of my favorite TV shows tonight that just said it all.

"There is an old proverb that says - You can't choose your family. You take what the fates hand you and like them, or not; love them, or not; understand them, or not; you cope.

Then there's the school of thought that the family you're born into is simply a starting point. They feed you and clothe you until you are ready to go out into the world and find YOUR TRIBE."

I choose the second school of thought. The line to apply for my new tribe starts over there. Love me and my family? You're in. Welcome to the tribe. Dinner tomorrow is hamburger helper and spinach. Pull up a chair.

I love you Kim! Love you Karen! Love you Aria! Love you Joanne! Yes, Pam. I love you too. All my journal friends? You guys are the best. Welcome to the tribe too.

From this perspective, I'm blessed with the best family of all. My chosen family.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Cutting the Ties that Bind

Looks like Christmas may have it's own form of stress. Turns out my BIL/SIL have found my old AOL blog. I had a feeling it would happen eventually. I haven't said anything in there that I wouldn't say to their face, given the opportunity. But I guess they took extreme exception to my post about my feeling when I found out they were having a girl. I stated right in the post that I knew my feelings were borderline insane, but I couldn't help the thoughts in my head at the time. My journal has always been my place to vent my insanity and clear my head.

So now they are saying we will never be invited to their home again and they will never come here. What I want to know is...how is that different from them never inviting us over and never accepting our invitations?? LOL It's a matter of semantics.

Oh well. They can't help their feelings any more than I can. They took what I wrote the wrong way. John is trying to send them a note explaining where my head was at but I know it won't make a difference. They were just looking for an excuse to cut off all ties with us. It's a shame Tyler will lose the relationship with his cousins. He loves them so much, but he hardly ever saw them as it was. What can we do. They don't like me or how I live. I envy them for what they have, material possession wise, but I don't think their marriage is as strong as ours and I don't think they are as happy as we are. So it just goes to show, it doesn't matter what you have, if it doesn't make you happy, you have nothing. (And if they read this... Guys? You may argue that you are just as happy as we are, but how can you be when BIL, you work 12 hour days and only see your wife and kids on the weekend? How else can a person interpret you working those kinds of hours except that you don't want to be at home and your family is not your priority. Making money and your job is.)

John just read the note he wrote to his brother out loud to me and I have to say...it's like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. He really DOES see what has been going on for the last 15 years and he really understands. I always thought he was just supporting my madness because that's just the kind of man he is (great husband, always looks out for his family, puts us first before anything else). But he has seen and understood everything that has gone on between us and them. It's really a great feeling knowing I'm not crazy or just hyper sensitive.

They have cut ties with us and I am fine with that. I no longer have to stress over my appearance, where I sit, what I say, how I eat... I don't have to feel like everything I do is being looked at under a microscope and criticized for every minor infraction in the rules of social conduct. No more worrying about if I forgot to do something that my SIL will take as a personal insult and a deliberate malicious act. I'm not malicious. I'm just ditzy and forgetful!

Ah well. They don't like it when I talk about them in my blog, so this will be the last time I mention them. I am also making my old blog private. I won't archive my entries about them over here. I'll just print them for my hard copy binder and for posterity.

Just remember folks...it's not what a person looks like or anything superficial; it's what is on the INSIDE that counts.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Santa

Tyler went to see Santa today to tell him the Christmas wish list. I was thrilled to see NO LINE when we arrived at Little Professor Book Center. I had a feeling it would be a much more low key event than bringing Tyler to see the Mall Santa (always a zoo and very overwhelming).

Tyler had Santa all to himself for about 10 minutes before another child arrived. Ty was able to really talk with Santa and discuss what he hoped to get for Christmas. I was so proud of him! Other than when he was a baby and didn't know any better, this is the first year Tyler has approached Santa on his own without us, er, strongly encouraging him with a firm shove forward. Ha!

Santa said farewell with a bag of magic reindeer food (so cute! a baggy of oats with glitter mixed in) and some candy canes. Tyler got to pick out a new puzzle and a couple books before we headed for home. We still aren't 100%, but are feeling much better today.

We got hit with about 10 inches of snow yesterday and Tyler is itching to get out in it. Hopefully the snow pants I ordered from Junonia arrive soon and we are all kootie free. I love playing in the snow.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Advent

All the humans in this house are icky sick right now. I'm on antibiotics for an upper respiratory infection. John sounds like he is on the brink of losing his voice. Tyler...poor Tyler. He woke up last night throwing up; and in the process of coming out into the family room to look for us, he left a trail of throw up all the way down the hall. He was covered. His bed was covered. The floor by his bed. His pillow. As I was following this unsavory trail back with paper towels and carpet cleaner in hand, it suddenly hit me how far I've come in my life in my ability to deal with minor catastrophes like this. When I was younger, just the SOUND of someone being sick would make me gag, never mind the smell.

Gross, I know. But I am now able to clean up both cat and human upchuck and my dinner stays put. Considering how sensitive I used to be, that is a pretty amazing thing. Hopefully we'll all be back to normal soon. Ty has missed a week and a half of school in the last 2 weeks.

Onto a more positive (less disgusting) topic! For a few years now, I've been keeping my eyes open for the perfect kid-friendly Advent (or countdown) calendar for us to mark the days left until Christmas. I had a feeling that Tyler would love revealing daily surprises and sticking and/or hanging them onto ... something. I saw fabric wall hangings with velcro doodads in numbered pouches. Nice, but not exactly what I wanted. I saw poster sized paper calendars with little "doors" to lift open and reveal a picture or piece of chocolate. Not bad, but they were really only good for one year. I wanted something we could use over and over.

Then I spotted these pretty wooden ones, free standing with little drawers for each day of December. One I saw was magnetic. (Getting better!) THEN I saw it. It was a free-standing Christmas tree on a festive painted pedestal. The pedestal/stand was octagonal shaped with little doors all around marked with the days. Each door held a little ornament that would hang from pegs all around the tree and the entire table-top wood sculpture swiveled on its base like a lazy susan. I was in love!

Then I looked at the price. *gasp* $70. Yikes. So I did my usual internet comparison shopping research. I finally found it (and bought it) off Ebay for $40. Yay me! And sure enough, Tyler has been really looking forward each day to opening a new door, unwrapping the little ornament inside (each is wrapped in tissue) and then hanging it from a peg on the tree. The size of it was a nice surprise too. It's much bigger than I expected. It looks fab on my living room coffee table.

I expect we'll enjoy this little Advent Tree for many years to come.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Birthday Boy

Just got home from our super fun trip to Great Wolf Lodge in PA. What a beautiful place! We arrived on the first day of "SnowFest" - their winter/Christmas celebration. My jaw dropped to my chest and my eyes actually welled up with tears when I got my first glimpse of the lobby. Talk about a wintry fairy land! It was the stuff of my childhood dreams...right down to the piece of the North Pole and Santa's special ice throne (occupied by one of his reindeer when we arrived).

A band was playing live Christmas music, there was a roaring fire in the 3 story tall fireplace, people were drinking eggnog and hot cider while watching their kids visit with Rudolph...and then reality came crashing down as I had Tyler whining in one ear that he wanted to swim and John in the other ear bitching about the noise and crowds. *sigh* I swore if their attitudes didn't improve, next time I'll go back there with someone ELSE (Kim! You'll go with me, right?)

By lunch time the next day, the boys' moods had improved considerably. Tyler had a ball spending his birthday at the water park. We had a great dinner too. The look on Ty's face was priceless as the waitstaff sang their funny birthday song to him. Unfortunately, my head cold was getting steadily worse. It was a bad idea for me to go swimming, but I had to get in and play with Ty too. The park was WAY too fun to miss just because of a little coughing and sniffling, right? I'm paying for it today. But it was still worth it!

I really wanted to go on the big water slides, but I hesitated. My weight is always on my mind and never more so than when there are amusement parks involved. "Will I fit? Can I fasten the belt? Will I be forced to exit the ride because I exceed the limit? Will it be like that Simpson's episode when Homer got wedged in the tube of the water slide?" Ya know. I'm going to try my damnedest to be thinner for our next visit. Maybe by then Tyler will want to go on the slides WITH me.

Tyler's favorite thing from this weekend? The Whoopee Cushion he got with his prize tickets from the arcade. Boys and their fart noises...the amusement is endless. Photos from the week end can be seen here.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Birthday

Just a quick post to wish the best boy in the world a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY from his Mommy. Love you to bits, little guy. Tyler is the big "4" today. More later (with photos, of course)...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Assembly

After many years of listening to my husband curse and complain as he tried to wrestle our enormous artificial Christmas tree up from the crawl space into our living room...we decided to go out and buy a smaller, more manageable tree. One fast trip to Treasure Island later and we had our new 6.5 foot "narrow" tree sitting on the living room floor ready for assembly.

Tyler had fun helping his Daddy put the tree together (pre-strung with lights and MUCH lighter and easier to handle). Then Spartacus joined in the annual tradition of all the cats in our family...the taste test. Sparty seems to like his first Christmas tree. He doesn't seem to like getting sprayed with the squirt gun as I try to discourage him from nibbling and playing with the decorations.



The good news is, with the new smaller tree, my decorations fill it up quite nicely. (The old tree ended up looking a tad naked.) The bad news is...the new tree is SO much smaller that it looks odd to me. I'm used to my entire front window being filled with tree. You couldn't see the window or my end table at all. In fact, you could barely walk into the living room because the tree extended out so far and blocked the path past the end of the sofa. LOL

What do you think? Big difference, no?



Hmm. I think I'll go make a fire, plop myself down on one of my new floor cushions, and stare at the tree. Maybe it will grow on me with time.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Meltdown

Can you say "emotional breakdown"? I knew you could.

Wow. To say this weekend was hell would be an understatement. I managed to keep my cool, not have an anxiety attack or sob-fest until today after my parents left. It was soooo hard to put on a happy face when all I wanted to do was cry. I think everyone bought the act (including my poor husband who caught the brunt of my meltdown today...sorry hun.)

I won't talk about my history with my ---. Most of you already know it. Having my parents there made it even harder since I've been biting my tongue since last Wednesday when they arrived. Highlights of the weekend:

- My mother telling me I'm not cut out to be a mother and I should return to work ASAP.
- Mom handing me several articles she's been collecting about gastric bypass surgery and telling me every chance she got how I looked like hell and that I should go get the surgery.
- Mom's passive aggressive way of telling me I married the wrong man by asking if I still "love" a former boyfriend I had years ago (the only one she "liked") or if I have any regrets.
- Mom's confession that she lies to all her friends about my age, education and appearance. She's ashamed of me.
- Dad starting a fight with me over my memories of the day I got my driver's license. He takes every opportunity to contradict me and start arguments.
- Dad bitching that he was "bored" and feeling neglected the one morning John let me sleep until 11am.
- Mom telling me I'm a horrible housekeeper. (This one I already know and agree with, but I don't need to hear it 10 times a day.)
- Mom digging through my linen closet for other towels and wash cloths because she didn't like the nice NEW set I had put out for them. (This one is petty, I know. But it still pissed me off.)

There are loads of other examples of my parents being hyper-critical, passive aggressive, and down right annoying...but I'll quit now before I freak out again.

I almost hate this time of year. There is too much stress. Too much to plan. Too much shopping to do. Every year I tell myself I'm going to get an early start and not leave everything to the last minute. Today I finished all the toy shopping for Tyler. I always seem to do that by myself year after year. Yesterday, I picked out and got his birthday present too. I usually make the party plans, wrap birthday and Christmas gifts for everyone, make and send the Christmas cards... anything to do with the holidays except lug the Christmas tree up from the basement and hang the lights outside. I think after seeing my meltdown today, John has a better idea of how much stress I've been under.

I'm just sad that Tyler had to witness a full blown anxiety attack. I've managed not to break down like that in front of him before. He was a tad freaked out. Poor kid.

I'm feeling better now. We had a nice family birthday party for Tyler over Thanksgiving weekend and John had the brilliant idea of taking him to this new family resort in the Poconos that has a huge indoor water park, for his birthday. Tyler is thrilled and the pressure is off for me to try and put together a party with his classmates. I'm just going to bring cupcakes in for his class on Friday.

[inhale deep cleansing breath...]

All is well. We got a new Christmas tree today. It's a tad shorter and narrower than our old one. I am hopeful this will end the annual cursefest when John has to bring up the tree from the crawl space. ;-) It's even pre-strung with lights. One less thing for him to curse about.

If anyone is interested in photos of Thanksgiving/Tyler's birthday, you can take a peek a them here.

p.s. We found out John's cousins are adopting from China too! AND using the same agency as us! They are much further along with their dossier and stuff, so there is no chance we can travel together. That would have been cool. But now it's like we'll have a scouting party going ahead of us. LOL

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Video!!

Thanks to Stacy (thank you Stacy!!!) I have a cool video in my blog now. I know, I know...every other "My Space" home page you come across has these. But I've never been able to embed video in my blog before! It was verboden on AOHELL.

So...I'll have Godsmack be my musical selection of the week. Next week? Pussycat Dolls! Dontcha wish your girlfriend was hot like me? Well, dontcha?

Hey Lisa Jo! Come join us on Blogger! Look what song YOU can have in your journal!

Join us....jooooooin us! LOL Now can anyone tell me which entry has screwed up my sidebar? Hmm.

*runs off chanting "One of us! One of us!"

Monday, November 21, 2005

Tins

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Your Collection


Have something you collect? Then this is the Photo Shoot for you:

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Let us see your collection of whatever it is you collect. Thimbles, NASCAR collectibles, Star Trek figurines -- what it is, let's see those tchotchkes!



I have a few collections...I have a nice book collection, a collection of key-rings from every place I've ever visited, a collection of interesting cobwebs on my ceiling and other hard to reach places, a collection of funky martini glasses (I don't drink), a large comic book collection...but I thought my collection of food related memorabilia tins was interesting enough to show off here. I have a vaulted ceiling in my kitchen with a lot of open space above my cabinets. These tins make a nifty addition to my cabinet tops. They add loads of color to my otherwise plain white with green trim kitchen.


Click my tins to see them larger and in greater detail...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Margo

PHOTO ALBUM HERE

Another historic face-to-face has happened in J-Land! I got to meet Margo of MagogoS's Musings on Saturday! She was visiting her parents at their cabin in the Poconos. That isn't too far from my house, so off I went to meet her for lunch!


I love the Pocono mountains. What a beautiful area! The cabin is modest and charming. (What a great place to spend summer vacations as a kid, Margo!) Margo's parents were also charming. It was a pleasure sitting and chatting with them.


After sitting a spell, Margo and I went off to explore the Pocono Lake Preserve. The views around the area are just breathtaking. I could have sat and stared at the water for hours. Margo is great company and we chatted avidly about life, relationships, children and the differences in our respective childhoods.


I never had the experience of a cabin or vacation home when I was growing up. We never vacationed in the same spot twice. It's all a blur of endless road trips with my Dad behind the wheel of our old Thunderbird, my mother asleep in the front seat, and my brother, me and the dog battling for space in the back. A nightmarish blur of oppressive heat, stench, super-heated navy-blue vinyl seats that could melt flesh, flying fur, shoving matches, and dog drool. Add to that the endless stops at every battleground or military memorial on the eastern seaboard and the cut rate, flea-bag motels and motor lodges...ugh.


It was fine, once we finally REACHED our destination; it's just that the journey there was the stuff of nightmares.


Any way, I am rambling again. It was lovely to meet Margo and I look forward to hooking up with her again soon. Especially since I found out she lives not too far from the casinos! *very big wink*

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Wabi-Sabi

In my quest for the perfect Christmas Card photo, Tyler and I paid a visit to Lake Musconetcong to feed the ducks, geese, swans and sea gulls. I wasn't intending to take pictures for today's Round Robin Photo Challenge, but happy accidents sometimes occur.

More Photos Here

A little background info about the lake... During the mid-1800s, the Morris Canal and Banking Company created Lake Musconetcong as an additional water source for the Morris Canal. Completed in 1837, the Morris Canal was an engineering landmark that relied on canals, locks and inclined planes to lift and carry canal boats from Phillipsburg on the Delaware River to Jersey City, the Hudson River and New York Harbor. The boats transported coal, iron ore, manufactured goods and agricultural produce. However, as the more efficient Morris and Essex Railroad was established, the canal was abandoned.



Rocky remains of the dismantled Morris Canal.


This lake, which is located four miles west of Lake Hopatcong, was deeded over to the State of New Jersey with the other parts of the Morris Canal System in 1924. Today boating, fishing and ice fishing are popular recreational activities on the lake.


In this relatively barren area of the shoreline, peaking out from the tumble of man-made boulders, I spotted a splash of color. It seemed so odd to find this bunch of wild flowers growing out of a crevasse at this time of year. The imperfect beauty of the hand-hewn granite coupled with the perfect simplicity of the little purple blossoms struck me. That's Wabi-Sabi for sure!



I got a bunch of great photos yesterday, but that perfect Christmas Card photo still eludes me.


Round Robin Participants


Coy...Dancing in the Rain POSTED!


Karen...Musings from Mavarin POSTED!


Sara...Photographic Memories POSTED!


Kimberleigh...Life As I Live It


Renee...Timeless Calligraphy Studio POSTED


Carly...Ellipsis POSTED!


Kat...From Every Angle POSTED!


Nancy...Nancy Luvs Pix POSTED!


Betty...My Day My Interests POSTED!


Deb...Sassy's EYE


-rRose...WAIT-NOTYET/ POSTED!


Steven...(sometimes) photoblog POSTED!


Alan...F-Stop POSTED!


Tess...First Digital Photos POSTED!


Phinney...Paragon POSTED!


Marie...Photographs & Memories NEW POSTED!


Derek...Picture Of The Day NEW POSTED!


(Oh, and my apologies to the State Fishing and Gaming Authority! We didn't see the sign that feeding the water fowl is prohibited until we were leaving the boat landing. The sign is facing a little wonky and wasn't visible on the way in. We saw it on the way OUT. Oh well.)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Hungry?


After dropping Tyler off at school this morning and spending some time taking pictures of his class romping on the playground, I decided to try something *gasp* different for breakfast (yes, Sara, I am actually TIRED of sausage McMuffins!)


I cruised over to the trade center mall to see if Panera Bread was open for breakfast. I hoped they were. I've eyeballed their pastry a couple times when I've stopped in there to pick up some soup for lunch. This place is a pretty recent discovery for me. Until they opened this new one in the trade zone, I'd never even seen one before.


Heck yeah, they were open. The place was PACKED with coffee drinkers munching on muffins and whatnot. I spotted two things I wanted almost instantly. A spinach, bacon and egg souffle and a cinnamon roll. Wow, they looked amazing.


I raced home smelling warm pastry all the way. Once I got myself set up back at my desk (I am always eating at my desk), my new furry side-kick made an appearance. He was aware I had something good the moment I came in the door and was just biding his time waiting for me to leave my breakfast unattended. His chance came when I paused in my eating to comment on a journal.


He only got a few sniffs in. I snagged him (and some photos) while he was still in the exploratory stages. He did get a few bites of my souffle. Who could resist that face???


I know. I am only encouraging the marauder.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Breakfast

Eventful morning! Tyler came with me to Spartacus' latest vet appointment. Sparty received his last distemper booster and his first rabies shot. Poor kitty! He did well. Then we all went to breakfast at McDonalds.


Did you know that one McDonald's Deluxe Big Breakfast can feed:


* 1 hungry Mommy


* 1 hungry almost 4 year old


* 1 hungry kitten


* and about 10 hungry seagulls?


Tyler and I ate the hash browns and hot cakes...Spatacus and I shared the scrambled eggs...I ate the sausage patty...the seagulls ate the big biscuit with jam.


Why do seagulls hang out in so many shopping mall parking lots (so far from the ocean)? It's a mystery. But they sure do like buttery biscuits with jam.


Later today Tyler is scheduled to receive his first flu shot. He is NOT happy about this, but I think having him see Sparty get shots today too has helped his fear a little.


I've been meaning to post a Halloween wrap-up entry, but time seems to be slipping away from me since we got home from vacation.


Honestly, I didn't have a very good Halloween this year. Between rushing Tyler to school, running home to see if I had everything I needed for my costume, realizing I didn't, running out to Walmart, running back to pick up Tyler from school, taking him home for some lunch, putting his costume on him, running him BACK to school for their big Halloween party, running home again, realizing that the trick or treaters were ALREADY OUT in our neighborhood, scrambling to get Tyler's treat bucket ready and the rest of his costume found, running to fetch the big cauldron of treats...only to have the handle break loose and the 80 lbs of candy (slight exaggeration) go flying down the steps, trying to pick everything up as the doorbell is ringing, scrambling to get some of the glow bracelets assembled, glowing and ready to hand out....whew.


I just flopped into the chair in my entryway, waved goodbye to husband and son as they left to go from door to door, and could barely muster the energy to finish making the bracelets.


*sigh*


I never had a chance to put on the cool green makeup and purple eyeshadow I got at Walmart to go with my costume. My costume is still hanging in the bathroom waiting for me to put it on. Ah well. Maybe next year.


I did have a little fun when I put one of the green glow bracelets around Sparty's neck. He's so small it fit him perfectly...like an eerie collar. He is the first cat we've ever had that is brave enough to answer the door with me. My other 2 never wanted anything to do with Halloween. They hid. Which is a shame since my black kitty, Sheba, would have been a perfect Halloween cat.


What did Sparty do when he heard kids coming? THIS!



I swear I think he was trying to open the door for me! Then he noticed the cute bat chimes I had hanging from the screen. The kids got such a kick out of him and his glowing collar.


Sparty was also my candy guardian. Oh and here is a shot of my little Buzz Lightyear coming home from collecting treats. He got tired quickly this year (probably from all the fun and running around we did earlier in the day) so he didn't make it to very many houses before he asked his Dad to bring him home. So much for going out twice in both his costumes.



Lastly, I'd like to announce the arrival of Charles Samuel, first born of my friends Norman and Danit. Born on the 21st at 3:51AM (ouch) and weighing 9 lbs 7 ozs. Isn't he cute?! Norman has already given over control of the remote. Now THAT'S a good daddy.


Monday, October 31, 2005

Princess

Once upon a time there was the world's most perfect dog. She was intelligent, loyal, playful, sweet, sensitive and loving. She was the best dog I've ever known.

Princess was a mutt and a stray. She just wandered into our yard, lives, and hearts one sunny day and with the shake of a paw and a gleam in those big, expressive brown eyes, she made herself at home and became a member of my family for the rest of her life.

My heart broke the day I packed up my things to move away from home for the last time. I missed my dog horribly. My heart broke again when, several years into my happy marriage, my mother called to chat one day. She broke the news that my Princess was gone. Her health had failed to the point where my parents made the decision to put her to sleep. I cried bitter, angry tears. My mother should have told me ahead of time. I would have driven the 5.5 hours home to be with my puppy in her final moments.

Time passed and I got over most of my hurt and anger.

One weekend, while home for a visit, my parents went out to run some errands and I was left alone in the house for a while. I decided to sit in the family room by the fireplace and read a book.

I was enjoying the quiet and the warmth of the fire. I felt a familiar nudge at my knee and then the pressure of something laying on top of my foot. I smiled and murmured, "Hi Princess...come for a snuggle?" She would always poke you in the knee with her nose and then lay her head on your foot until you would bend down to scratch her ears and pet her. It took a couple minutes for the realization to hit me. How could that be Princess? She was long gone!

My heart skipped a beat and I looked down at my feet. At that moment, I saw what could only be described as a vaguely dog shaped shadow moving away from me. I held my breath while the shadow seemed to pause and look over its shoulder at me and then moved again before fading from view.

I was frozen. I wasn't exactly afraid. It was Princess! I have no doubt of that. The moment I felt that reassuring pressure on my foot, I was filled with a sense of peace and contentment.

I've never really spent much time in self-analysis over what my beliefs are with regards to ghosts. But after that weekend, I no longer had any doubts that sometimes...something is left behind that lingers beyond death.

I didn't say anything to my parents when they got home. I didn't want them to think I was nuts!

Some time later, my mother and I were once again chatting on the phone and we happened to be talking about a TV program that had a supernatural theme. I asked my Mom if she had ever experienced anything...odd...in her house. Without hesitation, she said, "Oh, just Princess. I see her or feel her here sometimes. Do you think I'm crazy?"

Well, yes I do, actually. But not because you've seen a ghost or two, Mom. But that is another story.

This story is the absolute truth, I swear it.

Happy Halloween, everyone. May all your hauntings be as friendly, safe and warm as mine was.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Smokies

We're back! Of course, leaving on vacation and having my journal go entryless during the Vivi Awards was NOT the best of timing...but it couldn't be helped. Our first log cabin awaited!


We had a fantastic time, but all the things I THOUGHT we were going to do, never got done. I'll just have to visit Dollywood another time. Ha! What did we do?? We took the kids to play miniature golf the first day and Tyler was totally HOOKED. We ended up taking the kids to play golf every day! Did we play every course in Pigeon Forge? Nope! That place seems to be mini-golf heaven! Every where you turn, there's another course to play.


Some highlights from our trip:


- The cabin was amazing! All that wood! All those windows! Waking up at dawn every day! Oh wait. I am NOT a morning person. Ooops!


- Tyler cheats at mini-golf. Blatantly! He will pick up his ball, walk to the hole and drop it in. Meanwhile, his pal Maddie was playing strictly by the rules. No one touch her ball! She wants to do it herself!


- Tired and hungry children do NOT play nice. We discovered our son has quite a mean streak. I think some more lectures about the evils of bullies are in order.


- After dinner one night, I was approached by a time share hawker (there are a LOT of them trying to sell vacation property in the area). He asked the ages of all my children, including my oldest (my friend Kim). Poor Kim! I guess there are worse things than being mistaken for my teenaged daughter.


- That worse thing came a couple days later when a worker at one of the mini-golf places was attempting to take a souvenir photo of all of us. He said "OK everyone, move over and make room for Grandma!" Grandma?! Who was he talking about? "Squeeze on in here, Grandma!" Oh...my...Lord... He was talking to ME!!!! Grandma?!?!?!?!?!?! Someone get me some hair dye, QUICK!


- John volunteered to baby-sit all the kids while Kim and I had a rare kid-free afternoon. We hit the outlet mall and shopped 'til we were ready to drop. I called John once to check on him. He was doing great! Then Kim and I went out for leisurely dinner. I got to try chicken 'n dumplings for the first time. Yum! John finally called and asked us to come help with bed time. Poor guy was worn out! But he did fine and said he would do it again. That's my guy!


I think that's a good place to stop. Time for some sushi! Want to see more photos from our trip? Visit my Shutterfly album here.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Pumpkins

I think it's funny that every year, without fail, Tyler assumes this same pose and looks melancholy over a squashed pumpkin. Poor pumpkin! This year's pumpkin picking expedition was with Tyler's school. Another nice day for a field trip!


Click the photo (or here) to see more photos of our visit to Ort Farms. What a great place.


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Reading

Weekend Assignment #82: What was your favorite bedtime story as a child?


Extra Credit: As an adult , have you shared that favorite bedtime story with a child?


There it is...The Velveteen Rabbit. I loved/love this story! I'd say this one was my favorite as a child. But I also adored this furry fellow - Curious George.


Have I shared them with a child? You betcha! The Velveteen Rabbit is still a little advanced for Tyler (a tad too long too), but he adores his massive collection of Curious George books. We have this hard cover treasury version (all the original stories) and we have a bunch of soft cover "new" adventures. The newer ones...I can't quite put my finger on it, but they seem to be missing something. Tyler doesn't seem to notice. He loves them all.


I hope Ty continues to love reading stories with me for many years to come. I have so many good ones yet to share!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Candy

Has anyone else gone out and bought their Halloween candy yet? We got ours yesterday. Tyler and I had fun last night ripping open all the bags and filling up my huge witch's cauldron.


Then I noticed something...


Not only was there fewer candy bars in each bag, the candy bars themselves were SMALLER. The more I thought about it, the more ticked off at the candy manufacturers I got.


Do they think we are stupid? We won't notice half the amount of candy/half the size and same price as last year per bag? But what can we do about it.


Am I forced to purchase those weird cheap candies imported from China just so I have something to pass out to the costumed hoards we get each year? I remember my reaction to weird off-brand candies in my sack back in the days when I was a Trick-or-Treater. I gave them to my Dad or tossed them.


I don't want to be "the lady with the gross candy" who gets egged every year. I want to be the lady with the cool glowing stuff AND cool candy.


*sigh*


Who knew Halloween would become such a popularity contest and I would have to sell my soul to M&M/Mars?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

SciFi

Weekend Assignment #81: Favorite Sci-Fi Movies

Weekend Assignment #81: Share one of your favorite science fiction movies. Note that this doesn't have to be the "best" science fiction film ever, or the most popular, or the most significant; it doesn't even have to be a good science fiction film. It just should be a science fiction film you enjoy watching over and over again -- the kind that always sucks you into the couch whenever it's on TV.


Extra Credit: Who is the coolest science fiction character ever? Note that this character doesn't have to be in the film you've selected as your favorite -- consider the entire genre.


OK John, now you're talkin' my language! I haven't done the weekend assignment in a while because, frankly, they haven't really applied to me or inspired me to write anything. This one is another story!


We just adore Sci-Fi in this house. To pick just one movie to share...that's tough. I love so so very many of them. Hang on a moment while I scan down my DVD racks...


...


Titan AE, 12 Monkeys, The Net, CrossWorlds, Dark City, Pitch Black, The Running Man, Blade, V The Original Miniseries, Matrix, Matrix Reloaded, Dune, The Cell, Hackers, Mars Attacks, Austin Powers (hey, it has time travel), Heavy Metal, Terminator, Demolition Man, Galaxy Quest, Judge Dread, Blade Runner, Wicked City, The Cat from Outer Space, Independence Day...AH!


Total Recall! We have a winner. Man, I love this movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger (yes, I looked at the jewel case for the spelling of his last name) is an average joe trying to earn a living at manual labor. He has always dreamed about taking a trip to Mars, but he can't afford it.


He sees a commercial for a travel company called "ReKall" during his daily commute. They offer to implant the memoryof a vacation right into your brain. It's like you were really there! And much cheaper than actually going.


He decides to go for it. The twist? He has already BEEN to Mars and his memory was erased...replaced with a new identity. Everything goes to hell in a hand-basket after this. I won't spoil it for you if you've never seen it before. The special effects...the scenery...the story...the action...it's all fantastic!


Oh yeah...Sharon Stone is in this film too (she plays his wife...her first major film role? Nah...King Solomon's Mines was...also a fun flick) for you male readers who dig pretty blonds who kick ass on screen. ;-)


As an aside...I've always wondered who the guy was on the escalator who ends up being used as a human shield. And the woman who plays the exploding head. I'll have to check IMDB to see if there is any info.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Gasp!

Well, we got the estimate from the landscaping company in the mail yesterday. I was so excited! Then I opened the envelope. HOLY CRAP! I thought I would faint... I think John noticed how big my eyes got. I said, "Guess how much the estimate is for?"

"$50,000."

"No! Lower..."

"$45,000?"

"Lower."

"$40,000."

"Lower!"

He finally said he was tired of guessing so I told him. Anyone care to guess how much it's going to cost?

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Well, maybe I should give some details so you know what is being done. A 30 ft. long, 3 ft. high retaining wall that curves along the side of the driveway (there is a killer slope there that has been slowly eroding into the driveway). A 5 ft long and 5 ft high retaining wall at the side of the house curving around to some steps leading into our new front walk (like the picture I posted a couple entries ago). A new planting bed around the mailbox. New planting bed along the front of the house. Large paver patio with retaining wall to make it level under the deck at the rear of the house. A "wall" of juniper bushes to form a barrier hedge along the 5 ft drop off that is between our house level and the lower part of our back yard.

A set of steps and bench height walls on either side of those steps leading down into the newly cleared lower yard. 50 cubic yards of top soil (to level things out down there), a large mulch bed where Tyler's future climber/swing set/fort thingy will go, grass seed and hay barrier for the remainder. A new planting bed along the back of the house leading to the new patio. Um. I think that's everything.

Ok. Any guesses now?

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Honestly, I don't know what I was thinking. Somewhere in my head I imagined the cost of the yard work would be around the same as the estimate for my new hardwood floors. $8,000. Boy was I way off. But after hearing my husband's initial guess...he had a better grip on what the cost might be. And the fact that it's a lot less than his first guess, maybe that means he'll actually consider going for it!

The house really does need it.

Ok...does anyone know anything about landscaping?

Is $31,000 a reasonable estimate for all that work?

Honestly?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Firemen

Had a nice surprise today. Found out the local fire department was paying a visit to Tyler's school...so I ran home for my camera and hung out for the action. Did you honestly think I would pass up an opportunity to photograph cute firemen? I didn't think so!


Pictures from today can be seen here.


I also paid a visit to Lowes to buy some pots of mums (purple, of course) for my front steps. I can't wait to get some real landscaping done. We've been in this house for 11 years and have basically done NOTHING. I figure we owe this house 10 years worth of upgrades.


Ten years. It staggers the mind! While I was at Lowes looking at the various offerings for Fall planting, I contemplated what ten years really means. I thought about the passage of time from age 10 to 20...20 to 30...and now, 30ish to 40 has been spent in this home. It seems like just yesterday the house looked like this:



And now it looks like this. Posts and front door are badly in need of painting, the whole house needs a good power washing, the over-grown shrubs need clipping (or removing), the roof looks worn and faded... my pretty "new" house has warts.


And so we reach a cross roads in the life of our home. Do we stay and invest some serious money in much needed upgrades? Or do we just do the minimum to improve curb appeal and sell/move? Just a couple months ago I was ready to pack my bags and relocate in a heartbeat. Now I'm not so sure. I find myself thinking of all the things we could do in order to stay put.


Decisions...decisions...


Could I actually be forming a *gasp* attachment to this house?! That's never happened to me before.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Spider

Check out the gi-normous orb weaver spider living on our mailbox!! Tyler was fascinated as I tried to get some good photos of him today. A light mist of water brought out the web quite nicely. And yes...I do think this spider could easily eat my face off...so I was VERY careful not to get TOO close. *whew*


More Photos Here

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

...continued

Item 3 on the list below...CHECK! Got some nice baskets at Pier 1 today. Woo hoo! Took Spartacus to the vet too. He's doing great! He's doubled his weight and was so sweet and cooperative with the vet. Didn't complain a bit about his shots. *sigh* I think we're keeping him.

The furnace guy is downstairs right this very minute cleaning our furnace.

Wow it was a busy day today.

P.S. As far as I know, nothing ever happened to Mr. Timmons. My parents probably should have filed a complaint...or a lawsuit...but they just weren't that way when I was a kid. They didn't make waves. In many cases, I think they SHOULD have. But, ah well...water under the bridge.

Priorities

This week has actually been rather productive! If you can't tell from my past journal entries, I tend to be rather non-productive. Why? My priorities are out of whack.


What I should be doing:


1. Picking up the clutter so that -


- the rugs can be shampoo'd
- I'll be able to call Merry Maids and get some help around here.
- get my hardwood floors installed
- I can mop the entire kitchen floor instead of just parts of it.


2. Shopping for some clothes for my vacation.


3. Purchasing some more baskets to contain above mentioned clutter.


4. Getting Tyler some wintry shoes (rather than sneakers).


5. Finally ordering the new furniture covers for the living room so I can get rid of the ratty stained off-white ones.


6. Washing my winter bedding so that the summer blankets can be put away.


7. Doing laundry, period, so I have something to wear on Friday (tomorrow is covered.)


I could go on and on, but you get the idea. But hark! Guess what I DID do this week?!


I stopped at Harold's Landscaping on Monday, bought 2 huge inflatable lawn decorations (one for Halloween and one for Christmas) AND scheduled a consultation and estimate to have our yard redone!!!


Guess who showed up today?! A young and gorgeous Mr. Clean. Wowszers...was he hot. And hairless. I really enjoyed showing him around my...yard. Whee! I can't believe we are finally getting an estimate on making this yard, front and back, pretty and livable. I hope by next spring, Tyler will have all new backyard space with a BIG fort/climber/swingset thingy to play on. And I will have the pretty front walkway I've always wanted. With steps! And lights! Like this:



Except...the walkway and steps will go along the front of the house and not straight toward you like in this pic. But same pavers and lights. And a retaining wall on the right side of the house just like the one pictured (the steps will run up in front of it).


And a patio in my backyard outside our slider! And steps going down into the new lower yard (which is currently all woods).


Dare I say it? Mr. Clean told me we DO have room for a pool down there.


I gotta calm down before I hyperventilate.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Trees

I had an intense "Mommy Moment" this evening. I was reading The Giving Tree to Tyler, but I gave him something to think about before I started the book. I said to him, "As I read this story, trying thinking about Mommy and The Tree being the same thing. Think of me as the tree." Then as I read, Tyler's eyes grew wide and I could see new realizations forming in his mind. Ah, the power of metaphor.


We talked about how eating the tree's apples was like how Mommy and Daddy gave him food, and sleeping under the tree was like sharing the bed with us, and so on...and we do it out of love. We want nothing in return.


I didn't expect the reaction that followed. He asked why the boy was leaving the tree that loved him so much. I told Ty that boys grow up to be fine young men who want their independence. They want to go off and see the world, make homes for themselves and start families of their own.


His eyes welled up with tears and he said, "But Mommy...I never want to leave you. I want to stay with you and Daddy for always!" I started to cry as well and squeezed him tightly to me. He asked why I was crying. I told him that I would love for him to stay with us for always and the fact that he loved us so much made me very, very happy. These were happy tears.


He gave me a kiss and said, "Don't worry Mommy. I'll never leave you."


If only it were true, my sweet boy. Little boys grow up too soon.


Sunday, October 02, 2005

Swing!

It was a dark and stormy day...the kind of dark and stormy that makes a school teacher ruin your week by announcing "No outdoor recess today. Quiet play inside only." The groan of despair still echoes in the darkest recesses of my mind. If that alone weren't enough to scar me for life...read on.


My fourth grade teacher probably never won any awards for his craft. He would frequently leave us alone in the classroom while he ran off for a smoke break. Does any teacher really expect 9 year olds to sit quietly in their seats while being left totally unsupervised for 10 minutes at a time? Certainly not any sane or responsible teacher.


As the rain pelted against the windows, we were once again left to our own devices. Most of the kids did remain in their seats, reading or drawing. I was happily coloring with markers. Paul Reiner decided to raid the playground equipment closet. He helped himself to a shiny metallic baseball bat and began to swing vigorously at the pretend pitches Doug Smith was lobbing his way.


Being a rather cautious sort, I gave Paul a wide berth as I ducked low around behind him to reach the sink area in our classroom. I washed the marker off my hands, had a drink from the handy water fountain built into the sink, and then tried to duck back behind Paul again to return to my seat.


At the last moment, Paul decided to turn away from the windows and swing toward the classroom door. It happened so fast, neither of us had time to react. You could hear the crack of the bat connecting with my head ring through the room like a gun shot.


I don't remember falling to the floor, but I do remember the look of horror on Paul's face a split second before the bat hit me in the face.


Next thing I knew a hand was on my shoulder and someone was shouting in my ear, "Are you OK?!" It was Doug. I was sitting up cross-legged on the floor. I don't remember how I got that way. Paul was standing in front of me babbling "I'm so sorry...I'm so sorry...I'm so sorry..." obviously in a state ofshock. I didn't respond right away. I was trying to figure out...WAS I OK? What happened?


I heard a girl scream, "She's bleeding! She's bleeding!!" and I remember thinking, "I am?" Sure enough, something warm was flowing around either side of my eye, down to my chin, and dripping into my hands that were laying rather lifelessly in my lap. I stared at the blood. I guess it was a good thing I had such thick eyebrows. It's also a good thing that I look down when I'm walking.


Doug yelled at Paul, "Go get her something!! Hurry Up!" Paul looked around helplessly and finally ran to the sink and grabbed a handful of paper towels. He held them in front of my face. I looked at them and him, but I couldn't quite figure out what he wanted me to do with them. My hands and arms wouldn't work. Finally he just let them go and they fluttered down into my lap.


I heard another girl scream, "Go find Mr. Timmons!" A third one interjected, "No! Go get the nurse! The NURSE!" Doug yanked open the classroom door and sprinted down the hallway. (I don't know what I ever saw in Alex D. Doug turned out to be WAY cuter a few years later.)


Moments later, Mr. Timmons strolled back into the classroom, saw me sitting on the floor surrounded by all my classmates and yelled at me to get up. The din of everyone talking at once about what happened drowned out any further reaction from him. The nurse arrived and asked if I could walk. I had no idea. My arms didn't seem to be working and I hadn't made a sound or movement since I was hit.


She helped me up, and I was relieved to find that my legs DID work. She walked me back to her office asking questions and pressing those paper towels over my left eye. I couldn't speak until I was sitting down on the exam table. She cleaned off as much of the blood as she could while trying to keep pressure on my head. Finally, she must have pinched the wound closed and tacked it in place with 2 or 3 bandaids. I only saw the bandaids. I still hadn't seen my head.


The nurse called the emergency contact numbers in my file. There was no answer. She kept looking over at me with a worried and rather freaked out expression on her face. I wasn't in any pain. I was...numb. It was like I was watching this event unfold but I wasn't really THERE. I was merely an observer.


After several failed attempts to reach someone, the nurse asked me if I knew any place else my Mother would be. I tried to think of all the places my Mom might go during the day while we were at school. The Burlington Mall? The nurse had her paged at the Mall. Nope. Mr. Gene's Hair Salon? Nope. Her appointment there wasn't until Wednesday next. The supermarket? Nope.


I was slowly kicking my feet and letting them swing while I stared out the door of the nurse's office. I could hear high heeled footsteps in the hallway echoing off the ugly checkered linoleum. Next thing I knew, my mother was walking past the doorway with my little brother in tow. She didn't look in my direction until I heard this unearthly scream of "Moooommmmmmyyyyyyyyyy!" (I assume the scream came from me.)


She spun around and it took a second for her to recognize me. She turned white as a sheet and rushed into the room yelling, "What happened to you?!" That is when the tears finally came.


"Ppp...aul Ra...Ra...Ra...einer hit meeeeee!" I hiccupped between sobs of relief. I clung on to her and tried to pull her close, but she was holding me away from her with a frown. Now I realize she was trying to keep the blood off her clothes. Turns out she was at the school for a parent-teacher conference with my brother's kindergarten teacher. I was so freakin' lucky that day.


I was bundled into the car and rushed to the tiny clinic at Hanscom AFB. After a long wait, the doctor on-call there took one look at me and said there was nothing he could do. The wound was too deep for them to handle. She would have to bring me to the big hospital at the Army base that was more than an hour away.


(That's one of the problems with being a military family. Sure, they paid for your health care coverage, but you HAD to go to a military hospital for treatment. If they had taken me to a regular ER, they would have had to pay for some or all of it. If it had been MY child? I would be headed straight for the nearest ER, regardless of cost.)


Mom was finally able to reach Dad. He came to meet us and make the drive to Fort Devens. My mother is one of those people who can't drive anywhere she hasn't been to before or is further than, say, 20 minutes from home. It's a phobia that drove me mental over the years. Especially after I got my own driver's license.


The ER at Fort Devens was the second time I'd been in a huge hospital (that I could remember). The first time was when my brother was an infant and he nearly died from spinal meningitis. The nurse who took me back to be examined was so nice. She told me if I were brave, then I could have any color lollypop I wanted from the glass jar at the nurses' station. I wanted a green one.


In the exam room, I was strapped down to a table and my parents were told they had to wait outside. After having watched every episode of the TV show ER since the beginning of the series, I now know why they do this. When kids get hysterical, parents tend to do the same...and oh BOY was I hysterical. You should have seen the size of the needle they stuck me with! Over and over they stuck that needle into my head and INTO my wound. Ouch. Then I finally SAW it for myself as this large round mirror was lowered to reflect more light onto my face.


The sensation of being sewn shut is one you never forget. Once the pain was gone, all I felt was this odd pulling and tugging. I listened avidly to the doctors and nurses as they talked. Apparently I was very lucky. The bat had split open my skin just above my eyebrow clear down to my skull (bone was visible) but I had no skull fracture. My "eye orbit" was intact. A half inch lower and I might have lost my eye.


The doctor also wasn't happy about the long delay prior to my being sewn up. I would have a scar, but he said it should fade with time. And it has. It's hardly noticeable now.


I have an exceptionally vivid memory of that day and I became quite the classroom celebrity after that. Everyone was interested in my head wound and how many stitches I had. That incident was the frequent topic of conversation for the rest of the year. Paul sort of avoided me after and became rather subdued. He was such a rowdy kid prior. The change in him was rather alarming, but I was back to my old self.


No real harm done.


Except that I hate baseball.


And the name Paul.


And green lollypops.


*wink*

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Secrets...

Doesn't SNL have a sketch where some voice over announcer will whisper dramatically "Seeecrets" and then someone famous will confess to outrageously contrived lies? Well, this voice-over is what's playing in my head for the latest Round Robin Photo Challenge (the topic is SECRETS, of course).


I love my bedroom furniture. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it at Huffman Koos. It's a California style wallbed in pickled oak (has a nice pinky-purple hue to it). The sales lady showed us the matching dresser with triple mirror and dramatically whispered to me "it has a secret..." as she pulled open one of the side mirrors to reveal a pegged storage space for hanging ties, belts, scarves or jewelry...whatever. Neat! The idea of having a secret compartment in my bedroom appealed to my inner 9 year old who loved reading stories about treasure maps and other precious things hidden in secret places and hidden compartments.


But it wasn't until the furniture was delivered and set up that the rest of my furniture's secrets were revealed. The delivery guy demonstrated how to adjust the hinges on my armoire and night-table cabinets and how to remove the drawers and, almost as an after-thought, he said, "Oh, and do you know about all the hidden compartments?" I mentioned the mirrors and he said, "Oh, there's lots more!"


I was enchanted as he showed all the hidden nooks and crannies (pictured is one of them hidden under the molding at the top of one of the upper side cabinets on the bed). I used to hide my best jewelry in there when we went on vacation. I've grown a little lazy since our home alarm system was installed. Neat, eh?!


Other participants in this week's challenge:


Patrick - http://astopatwilloughby.blogspot.com/


Lahoma - http://journals.aol.com/mzgoochi/LahomasLaments/


Promise - http://journals.aol.com/promiseluv372/PromiseMe/


Dorn - http://journals.aol.com/dornbrau/ThroughtheEyesoftheBeholder


Karen - http://journals.aol.com/mavarin/MusingsfromMavarin/


Betty - http://journals.aol.com/rap4143/MyDayMyInterests/


Carly - http://journals.aol.com/ondinemonet/Ellipsis/


Mary - http://journals.aol.com/alphawoman1/Alphawomansblog


Sara - http://journals.aol.com/shedrawsanime/PhotographicMemories/


Debbie - http://journals.aol.com/psychfun/MeThinksTooMuch/


Renee - http://journals.aol.com/acyrlicstains/publish/


Phinney - http://journals.aol.com/geminiwilder/Paragon


Marie - http://journals.aol.com/mariebm56/PhotographsMemories