Thursday, April 28, 2005

Diamonds

Our resident "Blogfather" John posted an entry yesterday about how 2-carats and above are becoming the new "norm" to replace the coveted 1-carat diamond engagement ring that most of us girls have drooled over back in our single days.


I agree with him...if you are all about the "rock" then buyer beware! That really should be a major red flag to your menfolk.


Now don't get me wrong. I love diamonds. Always have. But I told my man long ago that getting married to him was the most important thing to me, ring or no ring. Lucky for me I found a guy who likes to spoil me (within certain budget constraints, of course).


Thinking about diamonds sent my brain into rewind mode. John was so funny back when we were dating...quirky is a good word. He had very set ideas in his mind on how things would proceed once he made the decision that he was going to get married (and oh BROTHER was he slow to decide). Examples? He didn't want to get married too young. Not a bad idea really, but the age he had in mind as "perfect" was 32.5 years of age (his Dad's age when HE got married). Fine. I could wait.


He also didn't want our engagement or wedding to happen on any "special" days (like Valentine's or Christmas) because he wanted the day to be all about us. No holidays or obligations to take away from the significance of OUR day. Fine. I could understand that (even if I did think that getting a ring on Valentine's Day was really romantic).


John felt that old "rule" about the engagement ring being at least 2 months salary was stupid. What did it matter if the ring cost less (or more) as long as we liked it? True. I wasn't hung up on price. I just knew what I liked and knew I would know "it" when I saw "it". And I saw it! I found the exact ring that I loved in a Bridal magazine and covertly cut the picture out.


Now it was all just a waiting game. We had been seeing each other for years. I knew it was just a matter of time (and patience) on my part. I had to wait for him to be mentally ready (and he was waitingfor me to mature a bit too, I later found out).


Late in our dating years, I had moved to a condo in New Hampshire and John had taken a new job back in New Jersey. He hated Massachusetts with a passion and I couldn't blame him for wanted to go back home. I knew I would follow him down there as soon as we got engaged...in the mean time, we were doing the long distance relationship thing. It was a long long drive and we were taking turns...5 hours down and 5 hours back up again...every other weekend. Ugh.


I think all the driving is what finally convinced him it was time; all that time to think in the car and all...or maybe he got white line fever and went temporarily insane! We talked almost every night by phone and he surprised me one night by saying "I think it's time we went ring shopping." Holy crap! I thought my heart would stop. The next morning at work I started asking all the married women where their men had bought their engagement rings.


I struck gold...er...diamonds when I spoke with Diane. She had the most beautiful engagement ring I had ever seen. She clued me in about shopping in "the diamond district" in downtown Boston (same stop off the T as the big Filene's Basement store where I eventually bought my wedding dress). She also said our first stop should be DeScenza's. She taught me all about the 4 C's (color, cut, clarity and cost). She was like a walking encyclopedia of jewelry knowledge! Things like...always buy the stone separately from the setting (some jewelers hide flaws in their stones under the prongs)...yadda yadda. It was a lot to take in.


I shared all my new-found diamond shopping expertise with John so he would know what to look for. I even gave him the picture of the ring that I had cut out of the magazine. He wanted to know what part of "time for US to go ring shopping" had I not understood. He was PETRIFIED to buy the ring by himself. He wanted so badly to make sure it was the perfect one and was so scared of disappointing me. Sooo sweet! (See why I married him?)


Now here is where it gets fun...he was up visiting me for the weekend so I said "Fine. Let's go shopping." He got a little pale. "NOW? You want to go NOW???" Sure? Why not? Hee hee!! So off we went. We drove to a parking deck I knew of off Rt. 3a and took the T the rest of the way into town.


DeScenza's was pretty easy to find and packed full of shoppers. I don't know why I should be surprised. It was a beautiful day and SATURDAY, after all. We mentioned we were shopping for engagement rings to one of the people roaming the showroom and a short time later a nice looking young guy came over to us. He shook John's hand and introduced himself as Tyler DeScenza (oh cool!) and apologized that they had no "viewing rooms" open at the moment...would we mind going in the back to their workroom to look at stones? Uh no! I didn't mind a bit!


We got to sit where the diamond merchants sat...men who bought and sold those rare stones in bulk. It was so neat to see their operation from behind the scenes.


Tyler explained again about the 4 C's and how it was best to view stones against a pure white background so we could really see the color variations. Then he took John aside to have a quiet man to man talk about prices and to check John's affordability level. I thought it was so cute that they were keeping the cost of the ring a secret from me. I would only be shown stones in John's price range - therefore I wouldn't fall in love with anything that was way out of his price range. Cool, eh?


Tyler went to the safe and pulled out all these little paper packets (looked like waxed paper without the wax) and set them up on a tray. He would give us the details about the stone (size, cut, color, clarity rating, number of facets) and then pour the stone out of the packet onto a white sheet on the table. It was amazing how a stone that looked perfectly clear in his hand would take on a yellowish cast against the white. The color variations were amazing. I saw a pink diamond too.


I would study the displayed stone and then ask for one that was just a little bit larger...then one with a slightly better color rating...and so on. Until finally I saw it. THE stone. It was 2 facets shy of 1 full carat and had a perfect color rating with only slight inclusions (bits of carbon that were only visible under extreme magnification). Perfectly flawless stones, Tyler said, were really high in price and usually only purchased by collectors or the wealthy. I was happy with my stone. It LOOKED perfect. And really, that was all that mattered. *big wink*


Then came the really fun part...choosing a setting! Tyler asked if I had any particular style in mind... DID I! You betcha! In one rapid breath I told him "14K yellow gold, 6 platinum prongs with channel set diamonds on either side". Whew! Tyler laughed and said he loved a lady who knew what she wanted. He brought me back an entire tray of settings that matched my wants.


My eyes skimmed rapidly over the tray and there it was...upper right corner. Tyler laughed again and said "Most expensive one on the tray...you have a good eye." I grimaced and look at John. He just smiled and nodded at Tyler. "Give her what ever she wants." Gosh I love that man.


One last quirk...John made a big deal about having the ring shipped to him back home in New Jersey (which ended up somehow saving us from paying sales tax or luxury tax or somesuch, much to our surprise) and that I was NOT TO KNOW when it arrived...nor was I to know in advance WHEN he was going to give it to me. He was again adamant that it be a total surprise and he catch me completely off guard. Fine. I could wait. I was good at waiting. After all, I had only planned to LOOK at rings that day, not buy!!!


I may have told this story already in a previous entry about events leading up to my wedding day, but I don't feel like going back to look, so I will also briefly tell about how I got engaged.


Months past and ring shopping day was becoming a fond memory. We were hanging out in John's living room in the house he was renting from a pal of his. Everything else we did that day has flown out of my head because of the events that unfolded next. As I sat on the sofa, John excused himself to go to the bathroom. He was acting a bit odd, but nothing I could put my finger on.


A long stretch of time passed (not that unusual for a man with a bathroom full of magazines) and I heard a strange noise. It sounded like something was crawling around in the walls. The sound continued and I got up and went to the bathroom door to ask "What are you doing in there?"


"Nothing!!!" His voice sounded a little strained and the weird sound in the walls continued. I stayed outside the door and kinda started to put my ear up against it just as he flung the door open. I jumped back and noticed he had a packaged in his hands wrapped in brown shipping paper. "Uh...here." He awkwardly handed me the package and said, "Will you marry me?"


I started to laugh! "Are you really proposing to me in the bathroom?"


He grinned and said, "Well... the doorway, anyway."


I hugged him and I think I said yes before we sat back down on the sofa. I unwrapped the brown paper and started laughing again. Naturally, DeScenza's had wrapped the ring box in GORGEOUS wrapping paper and ribbon. John groaned. He hadn't bothered to look inside the brown paper to check for that.


The ring was breath-taking and I went from laughing to crying in no time flat.


So, I got engaged in a bathroom doorway. Romantic, no?



I took this photo while we were on our honeymoon. Our wedding bands are matching plain gold...but John told me one day he would get me a matching anniversary band...and so he did. Now the anniversary band is what I wear every day. I thought this shot of my hand now against my monitor showing the photo from my honeymoon looked kinda cool. (I took it for the flower, really, and not the ring).


I did sneak into the bedroom earlier to fetch my ring so I could wear it for this photo, but I couldn't find it in the dark without disturbing the boys. Tyler was asleep in the bed in John's spot and John was sleeping on the floor. For a little boy, Ty sure takes up a LOT of room in the bed. Someday maybe he will sleep in his own room all night.


 



And totally off the subject, I finally got a photo of my window that shows off the colors of my glassware (I mentioned I would post this when I did the original photo challenge and wasn't happy with how dark the glass looked). See? Hues of royal purple, fuchsia, aqua, celadon, sapphire...you should see the pools of color that get created on my carpet. I was inspired to do this display on my window ledge by THIS house...


 



This was a home we toured in an outer banks development in South Carolina when we were on vacation there a couple years ago. I would love to own a beach front vacation home like this one. Wow. Tyler loved the huge clawfooted tub in the guest bathroom.


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Acting

I looked out into the dimly lit auditorium and tried to focus on the woman with the clipboard sitting and frowning in the front row. I tried to ignore the scattered assortment of my peers occupying the other seats and laughing behind their hands; whispering to each other as I made my way to center-stage.


"I am trying out for the part of Lucy...or any other female role."


My voice was quavering from nervousness. The lady sitting at the piano looked up at me from her position at the foot of the stage and asked, "High or low?"


High or low...high or low...I had no clue! My singing voice had a pretty wide range, so I opted for high. The piano began the now familiar theme song from the musical I was desperate to get a role in:


"You're a good man, Charlie BROWWWWN..." So far so good...until the woman with the clipboard said, "LOUDER please."


Ugh. My voice cracked on a particularly high note and my voice trailed off. Stern woman with clipboard said "Thank you. NEXT?"


I slunk off the stage to scattered mock applause and giggles.


And thus ended my one and only time I mustered enough courage to try out for a school musical. Ah, if only I had selected LOW and showed off the lovely Alto vocals that earned me a spot, years later, in the prestigious Regis College Woman's Chorus. (My roommate twisted my arm to try out for that one based on hearing me in the shower and singing along to the radio with her.)


Ah well. At least I tried. I had a major crush on one of the boys who was trying out for the part of Snoopy. David Pepper...he was soooo adorable and popular. I didn't have a prayer of gaining his interest, not as the awkward, chubby, and socially rejected Junior High Schooler I was. But if I had a role in the play, at least I could hang around near him a lot.


Naturally, my name was not on the cast list posted on the announcements board the following week...but there WAS a signup sheet for volunteers to help out with the backstage work. I put my name on that list. I ended up with a very important job as curtain manager.


There were three tiers of curtains that needed to be opened and closed at various points during the performance. I had my own copy of the script with my curtain cues highlighted on each page and I sat high up in the scaffolding to work the ropes. What an excellent birds-eye view of the performance I had!


Working with the rest of the cast and crew for those weeks leading up to performance night was the most fun of my entire time at John Glenn Jr. High. Kids who had never given me the time of day in the past were suddenly waving to me in the hallways. I was so happy I felt like I could fly.


In a rare display of support, my parents actually allowed me to stay with friends, rather than go on a planned family trip, so I could be there for Opening Night.


The show was a smash hit. What a great group of talented kids! And I performed my curtain pulling duties flawlessly. At the cast pizza party, our music teacher had a large series of color and B&W photos on display. He had an order form and each photo had a number associated with it. We could get prints of any photos we were interested in. I promptly ordered several that featured glimpses of me in the background and loads of photos of David. *sigh* He was soooooo cute. I still have those photos...somewhere.


A few years later when I was in high school, I ran into a former Jr. High classmate. He was surprised at the changes in my appearance (I was now tall, slim and pretty). He gave me his phone number, but I never had the nerve to call him. Doug Smith was the one who gave me the devastating news...David Pepper's dad Tony, a semi-famous news anchorman in Boston, had given his son a fast red car for his birthday and David had wrapped his shiny new wheels around a tree in a fatal wreck.


Lessons learned from these experiences?


     * Never be afraid to try out.


     * Support and encourage your kids to spread their wings and try new things.


     * There are many ways to participate.


     * The awkwardness of your pre-teen and early teen years is temporary.


     * Don't give a sports car to an inexperienced teen driver...they are much better off with a large, used and slow-moving vehicle to start with.


     * Life is too short.


Sunday, April 24, 2005

Hugs

"Mommy? My blankies need a hug..."


I looked down at my precious boy as he piled his collection of security blankets into my arms. I gave the blankets a squeeze and said, "Awww blankies...thanks for taking such good care of my Tyler. Ty? Blankies say they love you."


Tyler grinned at me. "Mommy? Can I have a lifty-up hug too?"


I lifted him into my arm and cuddled him to my chest along with his pile of blankies. As he rested his head on my shoulder and wrapped his arms around my neck I heard him sigh with contentment.


"You're the nicest Mommy in the whole world...!"


As I was blinking away my sudden rush of tears, I squeezed my boy a little tighter and buried my face in his sweet smelling hair.


I don't know if I am the nicest Mommy in the whole world, but I sure feel like the luckiest.


Friday, April 22, 2005

Damaged

Some may find this entry disturbing, so please be warned.


In 1971, I was 5 years old and living in Las Cruses, New Mexico. We had a little 3-bedroom ranch style house on a quiet cul de sac. My Mother was all wrapped up in my newborn brother and had little time for me. My Father was in the Air Force and was sent overseas for months at a time (there was a war on). The kids in the neighborhood were friendly, but most were older than I was and had all grown up together. My family was a relatively recent addition to a well established neighborhood. I longed for a friend.


I'll never forget the day I overheard my mother talking with one of our neighbors. From her side of the conversation I learned that someone had bought the house next to ours. It had been up for sale for a long time. The house was larger than all the others in the development and was priced very high for the area. It had a pool. I could just see the pool on the other side of the stone wall in our front yard (the backyard of their house was against the side of our yard). Southern New Mexico was hot most of the year and I remember longing to swim in that pool.


Listening to my mother gossip with the neighbor, I learned that a divorced man had bought the house and that he had a young daughter. A kid was moving in next door!! I was so excited.


A short time later, I remember watching the moving truck being unloaded. I sat on the curb in front of my house hoping to catch sight of the new kid. She and her dad didn't show up until the next day. They arrived in a large truck with a motorcycle mounted in the back.  When they got out of the truck, I heard her dad say "Well, this is it! We're home!" The little girl looked so sad. She eventually looked over in my direction and I smiled and gave her a little hopeful wave. She smiled a little and followed her Dad into their new home.


I didn't see much of the new girl, at first. Occasionally I would hear her in their house when their back slider was open. I heard her get yelled at quite a few times when she would try to let herself out the screen door. She was not allowed out by the pool by herself. She had to wait until her dad or their maid, Dolores, was there to watch her. I knew she watched me and the neighborhood kids playing out in the street (our circle never had any traffic, only the residents.) I wondered why she never came outside to play with us.


Summer came and the heat was unbearable. I sat in the shade of the lone willow tree in our front yard and listened to the little girl next door playing with her Dad in their pool. I was so jealous. It didn't matter what the weather was like outside, once I finished my breakfast in the morning, I was shooed out the front door to play. My only rules? Stay in our circle, tell my mother if I decided to play at someone's house, and be home when it started to get dark. It amazes me now to think of it. So much freedom at five years old...


I'm not sure when I noticed the man watching me. He was leaning on the stone wall that divided his yard from mine and smiling at me.


"What's your name?"


Rebecca.


"How old are you?"


Five.


"My daughter is five also. Do you want to come swimming with us?"


YES!  ...oh. But I better go ask my Mom first.


"Don't worry. I'll call your Mother and invite you over."


I was too excited and couldn't sit still! I ran into the house and yelled "Mommy! The man next door is calling you! I want to go swimming!!! Please can I go?"  My Mother seemed startled and was busy tending to my brother. She was flustered when the phone rang. How he knew which number to call, I have no idea. I was sure my mother was going to say no. She always said no to anything I really, really wanted.


The man next door must have been really charming...my mother said yes. She put on my swimsuit and handed me a towel. I got the standard lecture on being polite and saying thank you...and was also told to be very careful. This pool had a deep end and I wasn't a swimmer.


That first swim date was the start of my new friendship with Katie and her dad Bill (names have been changed). Katie's Dad was like a kid's dream come true. He bought us ice cream from the ice cream man, he spent hours playing with us...tea parties, dress up, hide and go seek... Since I rarely saw my own Dad and tried my best to stay AWAY from him when he was home on leave (my relationship with my Dad is a whole other topic for another day), Bill became the Dad I always had wished for.


Bill took me and Katie to the car wash and gas station to fill up his truck. Bill had a CB-radio mounted under his dash. I had never seen one before. He had it rigged up with a speaker under his hood so that when he keyed up the microphone, anything you said would be amplified loudly through that speaker.  It was great fun making the gas attendant jump when I yelled "Hey you! Don't scratch the paint!" through the speaker, with Bill's prompting.


Bill also took me for my first motorcycle ride. He had a special helmet, just for Katie, and a special seat on the back of his bike. Bill asked me if I wanted to go for a ride, but I hesitated. I knew my mother would never allow it. Bill seemed to read my mind and whispered in my ear, "We don't have to tell your Mother...it will be our secret."  I was thrilled! He helped me put on the helmet, and then hoisted me up onto the back of the bike. He grinned at me and instructed me to hold on to him, tightly, and to lean into the turns, not away (as I soon found out, I really wanted to lean the wrong way!)


I was giddy! Riding that motorcycle was the most exciting thing I had ever done in my short life. It felt like flying! At the end of our ride, Bill again whispered to me, "Don't tell your Mom. I don't want you to get in trouble."  I nodded solemnly then grinned. I loved Bill. He was the greatest.  I trusted him without question.  Just as he had planned.


I was invited over again for a playdate with Katie, and I brought my swimsuit. This time, things went a little differently. After swimming the afternoon away, Bill announced it was time to get out of the pool and dry off. He told Dolores to take Katie to her room to get her dried off and changed. He took me into the downstairs bathroom to "help" me with my suit. He had never done that before, but I trusted him. He took off my suit and as I stood there in the nude, he began to slowly towel me dry. He paid particular attention to  my private areas. When he felt me starting to pull away, he stopped and wrapped the towel around me. He smiled, and said "There now. That's much better. You looked so cold...all warm and dry now?"


I looked up into his face and nodded. The expression I saw there scared me. I had never seen him look at me that way before. He took the towel away and I stood naked in front of him while he fussed with my clothes and looked at me. He helped me get dressed and deliberately let his hands and fingers brush against my skin and linger in places I knew he shouldn't be touching that way. I started to cry.


Bill had a look of panic on his face as he shushed me and hugged me to his chest. "What's wrong, sweetie? Are you tired? Maybe too much sun and swimming today. Don't worry. Everything is ok."  I nodded and wiped my eyes. I felt silly. Why was I crying? Bill was a nice man and he wouldn't hurt me.


I tried to convince myself that I had imagined the whole thing...but I knew something was very wrong. I couldn't articulate how I felt. I wanted to tell my Mother...but I knew she would just be angry with me. She would accuse me of making up stories and she would never believe me. I would just get hit again, like always.  I didn't really know how to explain to her what he did, anyway. I wasn't entirely sure that what he did was wrong and my Mother might even laugh at me and call me silly.


I decided not to tell. It would have made me feel worse not to be believed...and my mother never believed anything I told her anyway.


The next time Bill called to invite me over to swim, I made excuses to my Mom about why I didn't want to go. She called me ungrateful and spoiled. I didn't care...as long as I didn't have to go over to that house any more. 


Katie never came looking for me. I would see her watching me from her bedroom window, now and then. I think she knew. I think he did things to her too.


The end of summer came and something horrible happened. Once again, I heard my mother gossiping on the phone with a neighbor. The little girl next door had drowned in the pool. The maid found her floating there. A very short time later, the house was up for sale and I never saw Bill again.


I will always wonder if it was an accident. Katie didn't know how to swim either. Would a five year old commit suicide? I'll never know.


To this day, I've never told this entire story to anyone. I confided bits and pieces to my best friend (the friend I wrote my first journal entry about) and some to my husband. I hinted to one or two others about what I had experienced.  I was one of the lucky ones.  Fate intervened and things never went any further with Bill. But it was enough. The damage was done.



Watch your children. Be alert to sudden behavior changes. Be wary of adults who seem too close to your kids. And let your children know that they can trust you and tell you ANYTHING and you will listen without judgment. 


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Journaling

This Friday is the one year anniversary of the start of my online journal. I'm so glad I found this new medium to use as an outlet for my writing. Not every entry is pure gold...but I have been really enjoying crafting my entries and reading all the other great journals on my "list".


Just for fun, I thought I would compile some Journal trivia:


1. Entry with the most comments (39) - Blabbitty funny that was the entry where I announced that my journal was being featured for the first time on the Journals home page.


2. My first entry (on a very somber topic) - Suicide 


3. In my own opinion, my funniest (and grossest) entry - Affliction sometimes you have to laugh or you will just cry.


4. What I thought would be my most controversial post...but a future one will blow this out of the water - Circumcision


5. Topic that is the most "touchy" for me - Obesity


6. Most fun with PhotoShop...examples below:



I strategically removed the hose from this one...heh heh!



OK...that was fun. I hope I can find the time to finish the entry I want to submit on Friday. I have to be in the right mind-set to do these deeply personal narratives...


Monday, April 18, 2005

Chair

Ooooooh my gosh....aaaaaaaaah...........



I may never leave my desk again...ever...


This thing is FANTASTIC!!!


Sunday, April 17, 2005

Beyond TV

Back in my Marketing days with AT&T, I remember watching customer focus groups and categorizing people by their age and the likelihood that they would like a new service that we were potentially offering.


Folks who jumped on the bandwagon immediately and had to have the latest and greatest of EVERYTHING were called "Early Adopters". We almost fit that mold. We want the newest and coolest stuff as soon as we see it, but we are a little more practical about it. We wait for a bit until some of the bugs are worked out, until we see some reviews from those hard-core early adopters, and until we feel it's financially responsible of us to make a purchase.


Yeah. And sometime we throw that right out the window and buy buy buy! Yeeha!


I have the coolest new toy.


We have been doing research for a while now on some of the latest Tivo type devices. Sure, VCRs are swell, but I knew there were some cool features we were missing out on. So John picked himself up a DVR (digital video recorder) with a huge amount of internal storage and a DVD-R drive so he can save what he records onto DVDs if he wants to. He can also plug our digital video camera right into the DVR and use built in editing features to make DVDs of our home movies.


I wanted something even better than a souped up VCR. I wanted to use my PC and be able to watch stuff at my desk...maybe send shows to my friends...stuff like that. I got sooooo much more.


I have a new USB Tuner, USB hard drive to store my shows, and BeyondTV to monitor my TV listings and program my shows to record.


What can I do with this stuff? Hee hee! It's too much fun!


* I can watch cable TV at my desk.
* I can pause a show, go potty, come back and resume watching without missing anything.
* I can record a show every time it's on, no matter what time of day or night...that way I capture every episode of my favorite shows.
* I can watch TV or anything I have recorded on any computer in the house...including my wireless laptop. I'm looking forward to taking my laptop into the bedroom and folding laundry while watching last nights recording of Tru Calling.
* For those forehead slapping moments when I realize I forgot to program something to record, I can use my cell phone to communicate with my home PC to set up a show to record.
* I can use file sharing and send that episode of Survivor that my friend missed to her so she can watch it on her PC.
*Tyler can watch his shows on the TV and I can watch something else here at my desk.
*I can take snapshots of live TV or movies. (The image here is a standard screen capture with a TV still inserted into the middle because a screen cap doesn't show the TV broadcast and a snapshot still doesn't show the TV software around the edges.)
*I love that I can turn off that huge TV and just watch a show here at my desk while I blog and surf. I think it's a power/money saver.
*The TV tuner is also an FM receiver so I can listen to the radio.
*Once we get an additional tuner card installed, I'll be able to record up to 3 shows at the SAME TIME!
*I can use SmartSkip to bypass the commercials.


I've been having fun figuring out how everything works. On the negative side, we had a couple funky problems getting everything set up. There was a minor conflict with the USB hard drive (the PC wasn't seeing it). There was a funky problem with my LCD monitor where it would blank out. It took a while to work out all the bugs, but now everything seems to be working GREAT!


Well...time for a potty break. Shall I pause my show or just take the laptop with me and keep watching?


SnapStream: Beyond TV - Transform your PC into the Ultimate TV Recording Machine.


Hauppauge Computer Works: WinTV-PVR-USB2


Thursday, April 14, 2005

Spy

There are two "John" stories that came back to mind in the past couple days. My husband is a complex and funny man.


Not long after we had settled into our new home, I decided the time had come to order myself some new sneakers. I picked out some pretty white cross trainers with teal trim and waited patiently for the post office to deliver them.


John called me at the office to say he had come home for lunch and saw a package hanging on mailbox but didn't have time to grab it. No problem, I thought. I'll just snag it when I get home.


When I got home, there was no package there. I didn't think much of it. I thought perhaps John had been home again or took it with him after all. I was soon to find out this wasn't the case.


John confirmed that he hadn't taken the package when he got home. Where did it go? Someone must have taken it. But why? And who?


John morphed into Spy vs. Spy mode and rigged up a camera aimed at the mailbox. He made a decoy package and hung it enticingly on our mailbox to recreate the scene from the prior day. And he waited...


He watched from behind the drapes as kids walked up our street on their way home from school. He watched as three teenaged boys approached our property. They were ripping up some big wads of cotton batting and throwing the refuse around the street (who knows where they got the cotton from).


They paused in front of our house and one of the boys looked around. He casually lifted the package off our mailbox and they all continued walking.


Busted!


John called our local police department to file a report. A nice officer came to the house, interviewed John and was excited to hear about the surveillance video. He took it. They were able to identify two of the teens from the video (they had been in trouble with the law in the past).


Last we heard, the kid got probation, had to pay a fine...and I got my sneakers back. They had been worn. Eeewww! I donated them to the Salvation Army.


 


Story #2 has to do with John's home improvement skills. Really, he has none. But I give him credit for trying.


We had been talking for some time about what colors I wanted to paint the various rooms in the house. We got as far as Home Depot, purchased all the various paints and painting supplies, and brought them home. There they sat, down in the basement...for months.


John had NO idea how to paint. He had never done it before. He was waiting for me to run the show. Unfortunately, at that time I was traveling a ton with my job and wasn't home for weeks at a time.


One fine week, John's workload was light, I was out of town...so he decided to surprise me. He thought painting the hall bathroom by himself wouldn't be a big deal. It was the smallest of the rooms we planned to do.


He was so excited to show me his handiwork when I got home. He hid my eyes and led me into the bathroom...I opened them and was really pleased with the color. Orchid! Perfect...wait a minute. I turned around and closed the bathroom door. It felt like I was inside an orchid purple cave. He had painted the ceiling, walls, trim...even the back of the DOOR was orchid.


Oh...my...gosh.


"Do you like it?!"


Um. Yes. I love this color.


I didn't fool him for a moment. He could see the distress on my face.


"What did I do wrong?"


Hun...when have you ever seen the wall color in a room repeated on the ceiling, all the trim AND the door?


"Oh. What color is it supposed to be?"


White. Likeit was. I only wanted the walls to be orchid.


Ha! Well...at least he tried. He ran out and bought white paint for the trim and fixed his paint job that weekend. I told him to leave the back of the door as is after I saw his re-paint work on the trim.


The trim used to have these lovely grooves...amazing how a 'John' applied coat of paint can make a carved wood surface look smooth. I feared what our 6 panel door would look like after a repaint.


I love you, babe, despite your many flaws. [Very big wink!]


 


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Moan

No willful cheerfulness from me today. I am in a pissy mood!! So fair warning.


1. We got our tax returns back. Normally this would be an occasion for celebration, but husband turned right around and invested the Fed return into two IRAs for he and I. Bleh! Then he invested the State return into a 529 for Tyler (that is a tax deferred savings plan for college). No mad money! Pooh! We could have gone to Hawaii soooo easily on that much money. Ah well. Can't fault Mr. Sensible. I just hope I am around to enjoy all this lovely saved money.


2. Sometimes being a woman just sucks. Like today, for instance.


3. Does anyone have any hints, tips or cheats for Hamster Ball? ARRRGH! That game is sooo friggin frustrating! And of course Tyler wants me to finish all the levels so the higher ones are unlocked for him. *sigh*


4. I just got the supermarket order yesterday and there is nothing in the house that I want to eat.


5. I had to download a new Nick Jr. game just so I could avoid having to play Hamster Ball AGAIN. LOL Now Ty is asking for me to play this one for him too. He likes to just sit here and watch me play. *sigh*


6. I have the urge to go spend money. (p.s. I already spent some the other day when PMS was at its worst. Honey? I got a new desk chair...FYI. It has built in massage. Hope that's ok. I'll share.)


7. I need a nap. I had more to moan about but I've forgotten. Sleep fogged brain...


zzzzzzzzzzz....


 


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Features

I've been scratching my head the last couple days wondering why I've had so many new people commenting in my journal...


Duh! Apparently, I've been featured on the Journals main page under their weekly assignment section. Heh.


Hello to any new readers and thanks to all the looky-loos and fly-by-night commenters too. [waving]



Monday, April 11, 2005

Time

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Show us picture of something that to you represents the passage of time.


I mentioned in my entry before last that I get one professional photo shoot of Tyler done each year because I like the consistency of the background; so I can better see the changes in him over time...


What better way to show the passage of time than to line up each of his annual photos, side by side? 



Photo Credit: Ken from Treasure Portraits


Cocktails

I had an interesting sensory flashback this evening.


We had a rare night out...dinner party with friends of my MIL. How did we get invited to a party where the average age was 75? Apparently, my MIL's friend Helen really likes me. Go figure!


I don't seem to spend much time around adults these days, so I feel rather uncouth in social situations; but this little gathering was warm and comfortable. What set off the sensory flashback I mentioned above? The smell of Helen's cocktail.


John doesn't drink and I very rarely do. My MIL doesn't drink. Heck, most of my husband's family doesn't drink...so I haven't been exposed to social drinking in a very long time. That smell...


I was catapulted back in time to around age 11 or 12. I was in a sunshine yellow kitchen helping my mother get ready for dinner. My Dad had been home from work for about an hour and was already two beers into his nightly routine. My mother calls into the family room where he is watching the nightly news, "Bob? Make me a whiskey sour?"


And so began "cocktail hour" at the Rogers house. My Dad would open the high up cabinet and pull down various bottles of top shelf liquor...vermouth, gin, whiskey, martini mix, sours...his tall stainless steel shaker, the funny looking strainer that looked like a coiled spring, shot glass from our vacation in Cape Cod, and the little red book.


The little red book was leather bound and had a gold embossed figure of a very dapper looking fellow in a top hat. It was Dad's Pocket Bartender. He would crack the well worn spine and mumble measurements to himself; "...two fingers...three fingers..." and he would look rather like a mad scientist mixing up some evil potion.


I would hover nearby and watch him dump the shot glasses full of liquid into his shaker with a fist full of crushed ice. I loved the sound the shaker would make as the liquid and ice would all slosh and rattle together. With that look of concentration on Dad's face, I knew he was counting to himself. Just so many shakes, a quick pass through the strainer and I was ON DUTY! "Rebecca, get me theolives..."


I would race to the refrigerator, pull the squat jar of green olives out of the door, grab a toothpick from the dispenser next to the stove and rush them over to my Dad. He would carefully spear three and then swish the olive laden toothpick in his newly shaken martini. I would watch his face as he took that first sip. He would grin and say, "Ah...perfect!" Then I would watch as he began a new procedure to mix my mother's drink.


If my mother was busy at the stove or puttering around elsewhere, I would get to do the all important taste test. A tiny sip and I would proclaim my mother's drink "perfect". I would go back to setting the table, but I would keep an eye on my Dad's martini glass as he would chat with Mom about current events, politics, work...


When his drink was all gone, those olives were MINE, if I asked quickly enough. How I loved the tang of those olives marinated in gin and vermouth.


And so this ritual was repeated, five days a week, for many years. I'm not sure when my parents decided to stop having cocktail hour. I think I was in my later years of high school. Slowly the mixed drinks stopped being mixed and all they had in the evening was beer for Dad and wine for Mom. 


Something was lost...that sense that my parents were adept in the social graces. That air of cool, polite, and refined drunkenness that only people who were adults in the 50s and 60s seem to have mastered.


Oddly, I have a craving for a Manhattan...two maraschino cherries please.


Saturday, April 09, 2005

Professional?

I don't take Tyler to "professional" photographers or studios very often. Why should I? I get great shots of him on my own. But once a year I get a call from an outfit called Treasure Portraits. They do a "formal sitting" in your own home. The guy shows up at your door with almost all the gear needed... lighting, backdrop, camera gear...yadda. All I have to provide is a blanket for Ty to sit on and any props we want to use.


The backdrop is rather boring, but there is something to be said for the consistency of seeing the changes in Tyler, year after year, with no distracting background to take away from his total cuteness. *wink*


Another great reason to stick with these folks? The place that sold us Tyler's baby furniture gave us 7 years of free 8x10s from Treasure Portraits. Of course, they never told me how freakin EXPENSIVE the photo packages are.


I feel compelled to buy a basic package every time. Why? I want the proofs. Even if I don't get prints of them, they are all photos of Tyler and I want them all. Honestly? This kid can't take a bad photo! Seriously! See for yourself...



The big photo on top is the one I had made into an 8x10. The rest are all his proofs. Now are these really any better than the ones I take?


  I don't think so.


Thursday, April 07, 2005

Wisdom

Weekend Assignment #54: Tell us all a single piece of wisdom you've learned from personal life experience.


(Disclaimer: This entry is not intended for any woman who was easily able to conceive and birth their child. I am a happily married woman who suffered the pain of infertility and this is the wisdom that most resonated with me.)


I've learned many valuable lessons in my life time, but the single bit of wisdom that I find myself passing along the most often is directed at women desperate to have a baby:


Do you want a baby? Or a pregnancy?


The answer, naturally, is a baby. Sure, the whole 9 months of morning sickness, stretch marks, back pain, incontinence, and that little thing they call LABOR would be a swell experience. But really, what is more important?


Being a parent and raising a happy and hopefully healthy child.


Consider adoption, you'll be glad you did.


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Map

My house, as seen from space:



All that brownish looking stuff are trees. LOL Thanks to Celeste for this link.


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Action!

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Action! Catch something or someone in the middle of movement.



One of my all time action favorites of Tyler...he looks like an ad for Tommy Hilfiger.


I almost missed this assignment. I didn't get an alert for some reason. Glad I saw Karen's post for this one! And since she had an extra credit link to live action video...of COURSE I had to do the same! For your viewing pleasure - Tyler in action! The top video is the most recent vintage, produced just this evening. (Broadband recommended.)


Tyler's Totally Awesome Video Page!


Monday, April 04, 2005

Update!

Tyler Quote of the Day:


"Mommy? Daddy is new."


Oh yeah?


"He took all his hairs off...so he is new."


His hairs, honey? You mean he shaved?


"Yes! He shaved all his hairs off so he is new. When the hairs come out he is old again so he has to shave them off to be new."


Ooooh! OK! So...does that mean I am new because I have no hairs to shave?


"Right Mommy. You are new."


OK. Whew. Good to know son.



We heard from our adoption agency via letter last week. We passed our home study! Yay! The letter asked for two copies of our updated portfolio (and a check for $800) so I spent the afternoon on Sunday putting some final polish on the document that is designed to catch the eye of a birth-mother who is parent shopping.


It's a really weird feeling knowing our lives will be served up like a coffee table book for viewing by these scared and confused young girls (and occasionally women). I saw the family room style sitting area, where these women go to look through their selection of portfolios, the last time we visited the agency for our orientation meeting. It's very homey and comfortable. Portfolios from perspective adoptive families are spread out on the coffee table like a magazine selection at your dentist's office..."Have a cup of coffee while you look?" Weird!


I can only imagine how odd it is from the other side of the equation. Sitting on a sofa with stacks of binders, folios, and photo albums sitting in front of you. Trying to concentrate on what all these different couples are writing about and what makes them different from each other...hoping to spot "the one" that speaks to you on that sub-molecular level and screams THEY ARE THE ONES.


She will spend the rest of her life wonder if we really ARE the ones...if she made the right decision...guilt, fear, doubt, shame, sorrow, regret...who knows what other emotions going throughher mind.


I just hope our portfolio conveys how thankful we are and how much we appreciate what she is going through.


Tyler Update:


Ty has become a total video game junkie. His latest passion is Super Mario Brothers on my old Game Boy. Here he is, in deep concentration:



He can get through the first level of Mario Bros. all by himself. Amazing!


Tyler is finally drinking milk (for those who don't know, he has refused to touch milk since he stopped drinking formula and we tried to wean him to milk). He has been drinking calcium fortified OJ and other juices and getting calcium/Vit. D via supplements and cheese.


On a whim, John got him these Spiderman themed chocolate milkshakes at the supermarket and he LOVED them! Sadly, we haven't been able to find them lately so we tried Hershey's brand chocolate milk instead and he likes it almost as well. I'm so excited!


Now we get chocolate milk for him whenever we go out to eat. I'm so relieved.


Just in time for it to be all over the news that drinking animal milk may not have the nutritional benefits it was once thought to have. *sigh* At least it's high in protein.


Office Reorganization Update:


Just when I thought I was done cleaning...John got me a laptop for my birthday. Added bonus? They had a deal on photo printers if you got one at the same time...so he went for it. I have a new photo printer too! Problem...it was TOO BIG to fit on the shelf where I had my old printer. *sigh* Back to the drawing board with the office reorg. The DVD towers of terror had to come down. So after some more cleanup and switcheroo work, voila! My office has never looked so...empty.


Sunday, April 03, 2005

Park

This week's Photo Scavenger Hunt (#21) is of my favorite park:



These are from a little over a year ago...the best playground we have been to so far was this one in Anniston, AL near a friend of mine. (Kimmy! I have yet to find a place as nice as this one!)


They had a waterworks area (like running through the sprinkler only WAY better), they had an area for bigger kids; but the best area was the age 5 and under section. It was under a tent, so protected from the sun, had nice benches, and a really neat climber. They had these cars and animals on the giant springs too. A nice picnic area...ball parks...super clean and the kids had a ball.