Monday, November 5, 2012

My Reason to Vote

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to China for my new job.  While I am not in any hurry to go back, it gave me a better perspective on what is so great about America. 

The first thing I did when I arrived at my hotel was to try to log on to Facebook.  It didn't work, so I tried it again.  When it didn't work the second time, I called down to the front desk to attempt to ask them how to log on to the network.  Did I mention that nobody spoke English there?  They came up to my room and got me on the Internet, but when I tried to go onto Facebook again, it didn't work.  I skyped one of my co-workers and they told me that the government forbids it.  I cried. 

I then tried to log onto my blog, and again it was blocked because I go through blogger.  I could read which has to be one of the most irreverent blogs I read, but couldn't write on my own.  I cried harder.  The feeling of total isolation was overwhelming and more than a little scary. 

When a car is driving down the street, there are flashing lights.  I asked what it was and the driver told me it was a camera taking a picture.  I asked if he was speeding and he said no, it was just the way they kept track of who was driving. 

All of this was odd to me, but the biggest thing that I still can't wrap my head around is the one child policy.  I can't imagine living in a country where they can tell me how many children I am allowed to have.  I am all for fiscal responsibility, but for a family to have a second child, they have to pay the state a fixed amount before the child is born that is roughly the equivalent of what it will cost to raise said child to the age of 18.  Because this is so expensive, few people have more than one child.  I can't imagine living in a world where nobody has siblings.  It was strange to be out in public and you wouldn't see or hear kids at all.  Some of the people I talked to expressed concern about how this generation is going to be able to take care of the older generations.  It is a lot of responsibility for one child to make enough money to support both the family they create and their parents. 

There were some amazing things about my visit to China.  The food was not one of them, but Shanghai is one of the cleanest cities I have ever seen.  Crime is almost non-existent because the punishment system does a great job of deterring it.  The punishment for selling drugs is death.  They are not fooling around.  I felt very safe walking alone at night.  Everyone that wants a job can have one.  There were a lot of people doing jobs that were not the most productive, but they were working.  After a few days I realized that people in China are really just like us.  They are doing their best to live the best life possible.  They have lived under these restrictions their whole lives, and they are okay with it. 

I am not okay with it.  I am happy to have my two children, and am grateful my parents had 4, seeing as how I am the youngest.  I am thankful that I can have a creative, public blog without being shut down, and I can tell my friends that I am doing nothing on Facebook.  I am glad to know that nobody cares where I am driving my car and no pictures will be taken unless I am speeding in a school zone.  This trip to China underlined for me why America is such a great place to live, and why the Constitution is considered a living document.  While I will be happy to go for a year without any political ads, I appreciate that I have a say in how I want my government to be run, and my vote will count in an election that is really too close to call.  Now that I have seen an alternative, I will never take my right to vote for granted again. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Things to Know for Your First Trip to China, Part I

Have I mentioned that I have a new job that requires a lot of travel?  One of the places that I have gone was to Shanghai, China.  Here are some practical things that I learned about traveling to this area of the world.

  1. You need a visa.  It takes a while to get one, so plan ahead.
  2. If you are a woman, do some research on Turkish toilets or squatty potties.  You do not want to be caught off guard.  I didn't have to use one, but I was not prepared if I would have needed to.
  3. Contrary to many people who assured me that young Chinese people know English, they do not.  Be prepared with a Chinese phrase book and the address of your hotel/destination written in Chinese for a cab driver or for help on the subway.
  4. You are not allowed to drive in China, even if you have an international drivers license.  There is a reason for this.  You will get killed.  They have a whole different system that works for them, but it also explains why they are not typically good drivers in America.
  5. If someone honks at you in China, it really means, "Hey, I am here, please notice me."  It is intended as a friendly announcement that there may be danger.  Do not take it personally as they honk A LOT!
  6. McDonald's fries taste the same no matter where you are.
  7. Crime is virtually non-existent.  Do not worry about walking around but still be aware.
  8. If you are not right in the city, take a napkin and fork with you as they do not have forks, and napkins are not routinely provided.  For those of us that do not use chop sticks, this can be a messy situation.
  9. Social media is banned.  There are ways around it, but I will leave you to find those for yourself.  Also, you will not find American television and Netflix has not come to that area of the world.  Please be prepared for evening entertainment if you like to fall asleep to the television.  You will get tired of the Chinese CNN station which was the only one in English. 
  10. Please be prepared to pay cash.  Most places do not take Visa or MasterCard, etc as China has its own credit card.  Most smaller places only take cash. If you do use your credit card, be prepared with your PIN number as it is required, even if you are using it as a credit card. 
There will be more to follow, as well as the story about me missing my shuttle bus in the rain. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My New Excercise Routine

I have started a new job.  I am not going to tell you anything about it except for the following things:

*I work in an office building instead of my house for the first time in about four years.
*I am starting this office from scratch and currently work alone in said office building.
*I am alone all day and only really talk to a woman named Pam who is the person who works in the main office for the building.

Can you tell I am kind of lonely in my new office? 

The first thing I found out about this building is that I have to park really far away.  I mean really far.  I will be walking in with several people, but nobody talks to anyone.  I started to count how many steps it is to the building from where I have to park my car.  Guess how many it takes. 

Go ahead and guess.  I can wait. 

Okay, twist my arm, I will tell you.  350.  350 steps one way to my new office that I affectionately call The Palace. 

There is one bathroom on the floor.  I am lucky because I work on the floor with the women's bathroom.  The men's room is on the next floor up.  Guess how many steps it is to the bathroom.  I won't keep you in suspense any longer.  It is 65 steps one way.  That is 130 steps round trip and that is a little less than 1/3 of the way to the car in the parking lot. 

The elevator takes forever because so many people are lazy or can't walk up and down the steps to get to the respective bathroom, so I tend to walk down the steps when I need to get downstairs.  I am on the 7th floor and there are 22 steps for each level plus three steps to get around the landings.  That is an additional 175 steps each time I need to descend to the bottom.  Sometimes I do this just to see what is going on with Pam. 

The weather has been really nice so I have gone out for lunch.  Since I am now working downtown I have gone to Subway quite a bit.  I know what it is, it  doesn't cause me undue intestinal distress, and  it  fits into my very meager budget.  It is roughly 3000 steps round trip. 

All told I am walking about 4500 steps just to get around at work. 

With this information I have come to the conclusion that the recommended 10,000 steps a day is a ton of steps.  I also think that we better hire our second person soon or I may just lose my ever loving mind. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Step Aside, Julia!

I few months back, my friend Ruth told me about a cookbook that she said changed the way she cooks and thinks about food.  Ruth holds a degree in restaurant management and often tries to teach me better ways to feed my family.  In the past she has chuckled when I have asked her if the cookbook comes with pictures.  I like to know if my version matches what it is supposed to look like as I go along.  In short, I am a visual learner.  This book does not have pictures but her website does.  ( 

I was at the library and happened to come across the book she had mentioned and decided, what the heck, I would give it a try.  I have a bit of time on my hands these days, and I read about a book a week, it was a library book, so I really had nothing to lose. 

Seriously, you need to check it out.  Check it out so you can read the real directions.  Kathleen is so much more elegant than I am. 

In the interest of full disclosure, Kathleen Flinn doesn't know I exist, let alone is she compensating me for this post.  I am not sure she will want to be associated with it since I am not sure I do it exactly the way she says to but it is working for me.   This book is based on an experiment that she conducted with about nine volunteers wherein she took self-professed cooking disasters and turned them into competent cooks.  She found that the art of cooking is dying out and things that were considered common cooking knowledge are mysteries to people like me. 
My first foray into trying out her ideas was in making bread.  A loaf of bakery bread at our local store is almost $4.00.  When I found out how easy it is to make it myself I feel like I have been robbed.  I was almost angry.  I can make it better myself for about $1.00 a loaf.    Here is all there is to it:
Mix 3 cups of lukewarm water (at least 100 degrees) with 2 packages of dry yeast.  To that mix 1 tablespoon of kosher salt (I am still not sure what the difference is between regular and kosher, but I went with it.  When I called Ruth from the store, she assured me that it was worth it, and I really should not be cooking with anything else.  Who knew?) and then 6 1/2 cups of flour.  I have found that the bread flour works better, but both do pretty well. This dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks in a tightly sealed container. 
Let that sit loosely covered for two hours at room temperature.  It will fill up a 4 qt bowl. 
Here is where it gets kind of tricky.  Once it has risen for the two hours you can scoop up about 1/3 of it and form it into a loaf shape.  Put it on some parchment paper that has been covered with corn meal.  If you don't do this it will stick and you will never get it back off without it getting mangled. Also, cover the thing with flour or it will stick to your hands which will also leave you with an ugly, mangled mess.  I speak from experience here.   Let it sit on the parchment paper for about 30 to 90 minutes and then slit the top a few times or else it will erupt in the middle.  You need to preheat the oven and the pan you want to cook the bread in to 450 degrees.  Also, you need to have some sort of oven proof container that you can add water to to create steam while it is preheating.  I use a pie plate.  (I have never actually made a pie, so it is about time I put that wedding present to work. Have I mentioned that I have been married for 16 years?)
Once it is preheated, take the pan out of the oven and add the dough.  REMEMBER TO PUT YOUR OVEN MITT BACK ON, BECAUSE THE PAN WILL STILL BE 450 DEGREES EVEN THOUGH IT LOOKS LIKE IT WILL BE COOL. TRUST ME ON THIS AS IT WILL BURN THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS OUT OF YOUR SKIN! My kids learned some new language that I am not proud of because I had to learn this the hard way.  My hands have healed now, except for the scar on my left pointer finger.  It matches nicely with the scar on my thumb that required seven stiches, but that is a story for another day.  Suffice it to say that I also learned quite a bit from the knife skills chapter.   
Make sure you put about 1 cup of water into the steam pan.  This will help you get a crispy crust.  Cook it for 30 minutes, and then take it out and enjoy.  This is what you should end up with.
My next project is cooking a whole chicken.  It is in the oven now.  I have to tell you that it is not for the weak of stomach, and I had to use some gloves so I didn't have to touch it, but it smells amazing. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

What Not to Wear - The Kennywood Adventure

I know that I am no Stacy London or Clinton Kelly, but I do know enough to wear clothes that fit, and for God's sake, cover up things that nobody else should have to see.  Last weekend we went to Pittsburgh to an amusement park called Kennywood.  What is it about these places and county fairs that bring out the craziness of people's wardrobes.  Because I can't make this stuff up, and because nobody would believe me if I told them, I took some pictures. Out of the many that I took, I narrowed it down to the best (or should I say worst) three.  I ask you, do these people not have mirrors?  Do they not have loved ones that have the guts to tell them they look ridiculous?   I will apologize in advance because once you see these, the image can not be erased from your minds.  Fair warning, if you are faint of heart, turn back now.  I am saving the best for last.  I promise it will be worth it, and might just give you nightmares for days. 

The problem here is not that this man's shirt is pink, it is that it is mesh.  Yes, I said MESH!  I ask you, where does one buy something like this?  I have never, in all my 41 years, seen a mesh shirt, much less one that had buttons on it.  Here is another problem with mesh shirts in the heat.  If you have deodorant fade out, there is nothing to stop it from being shared with your fellow people in line.  It is even better when you have a 7 year-old with no filter who said "WHAT IS THAT SMELL, IT SMELLS SO BAD, LIKE BAD BBBBBBBBBBBBBBOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OR REALLY STINKY FEET!!!!!!!!!!"  On one hand, it really needed to be said, and I wished I could have said it.    On the other hand, I tried to pretend that he was not my child while simultaneously clamping my hand over his mouth.   My sister Laura and I have decided that they should have deodorant stations and they should be mandatory every hour, or every time you come off a water ride.  It would make this whole experience bearable.  I should be thankful that the next man was not wearing this mesh shirt...

I like to call this a Sasquatch sighting.  This man is extremely hairy.  I am not sure why I felt it necessary to point this out.  Many men suffer from this condition, and since I have not gotten my eyebrows waxed in over a year because it hurts, I do not expect this man to wax his back for my amusement park enjoyment.  I would, however, like to recommend that he wear a collared shirt.  I was longing for the mid 80's when the mock turtleneck was in style. 

Here is the grand finale of this slide show of horror:

First, let me point out that this is her back.  If you suffer from back cleavage, which I have never actually seen before, COVER IT UP.  DO NOT WEAR A SHIRT THAT SHOWCASES THIS FREAK OF NATURE!!!!!!  I would also like to tell you that her earrings say "SEXY".  I assure you that there was nothing sexy about this. This woman had teenage kids.  What person of at least late twenties or early thirties wears plastic earrings that say anything, much less sexy? It was even more horrific in person. Trust me when I tell you that you do not want to see these jeans from the front. 

I am not much for roller coasters anymore.  The lines were long and it was hot and crowded.  I am not in any hurry to go again, but the cotton candy was fresh and the people watching was fantastic.  It was a great day spent with my family, and that is really all I can ask for. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Is it Still a Tree House if There is No Tree?

One of the first activities the kids did this summer was to add on to the tree house at my parents house.  About five or six years ago my dad built a tree house for the kids in an old apple tree.  The rule was that you had to be at least five years old to climb into the tree.  It was a platform with some railing, and you had to climb the tree to get in and out.  It is about six feet in the air and was about 5'x10', big enough for the five oldest kids to get in and move around a little bit.  Over the years it gained a tarp roof, and then the tree died and my dad cut it down leaving just enough of the trunk for the kids to still climb in. 

Lauren and William have grown out of it, but Claire, Matthew, Cara and Ryan grew into it, and the kids deemed it too small.  Over the winter, whenever we gathered at my parents house, the kids would go into the basement and plan for the addition.  There were elections to see who would be in charge of the project, and Colin was selected to give "the pitch".  They drew up some plans, and when the time was right, they sent Colin in.

They had two things going for them.  Laura's family was going to be staying at my parents for a few weeks while they were moving, and Colin is irresistible.  It helped that he had the backing of all of the other kids, but mostly, when Colin turns on the charm, you really have very little defense. 

One day when Mom, Laura and I had gone somewhere, Dad took Andrew, Colin, Cara and Ryan to the Home Depot to gather the materials.  The people at Home Depot about had a heart attack when the kids were pulling the wood off the piles.  Colin dropped one of the planks on his toe and it is still damaged two months later.  Dad told them they needed some 2x4's for the deck part and Ryan found some, but they were untreated.  Dad, in his infinite wisdom told him that those wouldn't work because they needed the yellow ones, you know, the ones with poison.  Ryan had a conniption.  POISON, I CAN'T TOUCH THAT, IT HAS POISON!!!!!  NOBODY TOUCH THAT, IT IS POISON.  This went on all day long.  Ryan must have washed his hands about 30 times that day.  Finally, Andrew threatened him with bodily harm if he talked about it once more, and I am pretty sure that he had Dad's approval. 

Once they got through the Home Depot they had to get the stuff home.  While everyone fit into the van comfortably on the way to the store, they didn't anticipate how much space it would take to get it all home.  Colin and Andrew had to double buckle in the front seat.  Just as Colin had finished saying, "I hope we don't see any police", one drove by.  Both of them ducked. 

For the rest of the week, they worked on the tree house.  Ryan continued to worry about the poison wood, although he didn't say anything about it around Andrew.  I think we have since convinced him that it is only poisonous to bugs. 

This is the old side of the treehouse:

This begs the question though, how many of my family members does it take to build a tree house that does not have a tree? 

This is the new tree house.  You can see the old tree stump, and the new addition of the ladder to enter and exit. 

Hours of fun have been had by all, but much to my relief, the sleepover they were planning never took place.  They are still planning on putting on a roof, but time ran out before Laura had to move on to her new house in Philadelphia.  There is always next summer. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bent, But Still Unbroken

Here I am again.  I would say sorry that it has been so long since I posted, but that would be a lie.  I needed some time to catch my breath since I am now, once again, a stay-at-home mom.  So far this summer we have completed swim season (our third year of being undefeated!), done two sessions of coach pitch baseball (certainly this must be one of the circles of hell) , and survived the eight hottest days of the summer without air conditioning (forget the circle, that was hell).  I have also gone to Philadelphia in the back seat of our Camry with my two blessings from God, aka my kids.  A trip to the chiropractor was needed to make my hip useable again, but it was so worth it to spend two days with Laura and to see her new home. 

I has not been our best summer ever since our style of living to which we have become accustomed has been drastically reduced.  It has been a good summer in that the kids and I have had a summer of endless days stretching out before us with nothing in particular planned, nobody that we need to see, and nothing that absolutely has to be done (short of me finding a new job, of course). 

One of the things that I have done this summer is read.  I have been reading a lot, like about 20 books.  The books have ranged from the compulsory "Fifty Shades of Grey" series (don't waste your time) to the most recent book called "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand.   This was just the book I needed right now.  It follows the journey of a man named Louie Zamperini who would have been the first man to run a four-minute mile if it had not been for World War II. He ends up in the Army Air Force where he fights in huge battles in unstable planes, gets lost at sea for over 40 days, then captured to spend almost three years as a POW under horrific conditions. Finally, it covers  how he copes with the aftermath when he eventually gets home. Don't worry, there are no spoilers in that description. 

What this story is really about is how your attitude will make all the difference when life throws you a curve ball.  It is about patriotism, which is especially poignant since we are watching the Olympics.   It is about humanity, and how circumstances can cause people to do ghastly things, and how some people can rise above these same circumstances to maintain their dignity.  In short, this book put my issues back in perspective and reminded me that even though this setback is painful, my family is safe and healthy, and we will stay that way together through the good times and the bad.  This is time that I need to enjoy for what it is, not what it could have been.  That this too, shall pass, and what is on the horizon might be something great.  I just need to take one day at a time and keep my head up.  God will take me where he wants me to go. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Whole New World

I'm baaaaaack.  I know it has been a while since I posted, but we have had a wild start to the summer.  Laura spent three weeks with us, I took a trip to New York, the kids are on the swim team, and Colin has started to play the guitar.  This just hits the tip of the ice berg. 

Lets start with Laura.  As you may remember, Laura is my sister that was living in Cincinnati.  They have since moved to Philadelphia, but while they were waiting for their new house to be ready, they stayed with my mom for a few weeks.  It was crazy busy and so much fun.  Our kids had a blast hanging out and doing just about any activity possible in Northeastern Ohio.  There were sleepovers galore, but none that my kids participated in.  It may seem crazy, but none of the kids wanted to get up and moving for swim practice that started at 7:00 AM.  Yes, in the morning.  Can't say as I blame them.  A treehouse addition was built, but that will be a post all of its own. 

I went to New York with Ann, Mary Beth and Lauren, and it was great.  Not quite the trip I had planned in my mind, but we got to see Wicked and Memphis which were both amazing.  We also took a bus tour and saw Tom Cruise and Luke Wilson shooting a movie.  The Ground Zero memorial was very moving and well done.  We proved that we were midwesterners by being confused by the elevator situation, and did you know Laguardia Airport is infested with mice?  This will also require a post of its own. 

The kids have been keeping me busy with their activities.  Colin and Ryan are both on the swim team.  As I have mentioned, Colin's practice starts at 7:00 in the morning.  He resists every morning and one morning he said that he thought this was crazy and even Michael Phelps didn't get up that early.  His practice ends at 8:45 and Ryan's starts at 9:00.  I feel like I spend half my life at the pool, but they are learning a life skill that may save their lives. 

I almost never talk about work.  Three years ago I started a job that was supposed to be temporary, and it has finally come to an end.  I will miss some dear friends I have made, and I will miss my paycheck, but not really miss the job itself.  I have been working from home and it is really lonely.  I feel like I am poised at the edge of something great and I am looking forward to what my future has in store.  The timing was good because now I can give my kids a summer of my undivided attention.  We have been having a summer I like did when I was young.  We have a schedule of sorts, but we are not in a hurry to do anything, and it is very relaxing for all of us. 

Now that things have slowed down a bit, I will try to get back to my regularly scheduled posting.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Relay 2012

It has been a hectic few weeks lately with the end of school.  I am now the proud mother of a first and seventh grader.  On top of all of the end of school activities, we had our local Relay For Life over the weekend. 

I have been involved in this cause for the past two years on the committee, and this year I scaled it back and was a co-captain with Ryan's teacher.  She is hitting her 10 year anniversary of being a breast cancer survivor.  As a cautionary tale, she was 34 when she noticed something on a self exam.  She had no history of breast cancer in her family and had been to the doctor two months earlier.  This is a true case of if it could happen to her, it can happen to anyone.  We need to be our own first line of defense against this disease. 

This year our team was mostly made up of people from our elementary school.  These kids managed to raise $3600 by bringing in spare change and having bake sales.  I was teasing Jeanette saying that we should have named our team "Nickel and Diming our Way to a Cure."  We did not have any corporate sponsors this year, so these families did it all.  I am so proud of what we did, and I was so encouraged to hear how many of these kids gave their own money to the cause.  Now is the time to be instilling the idea of service to our kids.  It has been one of my parenting goals to lead by example. 

Weather in Northeastern Ohio in June is unpredictable.  In March we had weeks of 80 degree temps, but on Saturday it was windy, oh so windy, with a high of 60.  To say it was cold would be a monumental understatement.  As a fundraiser we were selling hot dogs, chips and soda.  The problem was in cooking the hot dogs.  We had to construct a tent of sorts to keep the heat from blowing away.  It became unbearable when it started to rain.  Just when I was ready to give up, this happened:

This was the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen.  In fact, this picture does not do it justice at all.  It was as if all the people we were honoring and fighting for were giving us a collective pat on the back.  There weren't many dry eyes at the event. 

Colin was having a great time.  It was his job to make sure everyone walking around the track knew that we were selling food.  He told every person, every time, they went around the track.  He also got to participate in the Luminaria ceremony and once again moved me to tears.  I just love him so much, and he is literally growing before my eyes.  He was overjoyed when he won a basket raffle full on Cleveland Indians stuff.  I think he had about 85% of the tickets in the drawing, and he told me he would have been devastated if he would have lost.  I think the people at that tent took pity on him and he would have been the winner even if his name was not chosen, but I do believe he won fair and square. 

All in all, it was a successful weekend.  Our Relay, which is only in its 4th year, raised over $75,000 to fund cancer research.  While I think this is my last Relay for a while, I can not say enough good things about my experience with the American Cancer Society.  They have 700 volunteers to every one staff member, and around 95 cents of every dollar raised is used to fund research and programs for all types of cancer.  It has been my privilege and pleasure to participate the last three years, and I think my Uncle Joe who is my reason to Relay, would be very proud of me. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

So. Tired. Of. Coughing.

Once again it is 1:30 in the morning and I am up coughing.  I have had what started out as an ear infection and bronchitis and moved to an epic sinus infection for the entire month of May.  If you wonder where I have been, it has been here coughing my head off. 

I am blaming this on Ryan.  He likes to snuggle with me and then cough in my face.  His body is a petri dish of kindergarten germs.  His immune system can handle it after being immersed in it day after day after day.  I, on the other hand, am a fragile flower that works from home and hardly ever engages in activity outside of this cocoon I call home.  Those kids, while being cute and loving and oh so affectionate, are also really gross.  They openly pick their noses and other body parts.  They like to see, touch, smell and taste everything.  They do not believe in personal space, and have never heard of the rule against close talking.  In fact, they can never really get close enough to you. 

Coughing is a wholly unsatisfying task.  I feel like I want to stick a pipe cleaner into my right lung and scratch the living daylights out of it.  It is like the itch on the middle of your back that no matter what body contortion you try, you just can't reach, but you know if someone could scratch it for you, it would be like the best fireworks display ever. (I would have used a different analogy, but my 12 year old reads this blog.)  It is exhausting to me, and irritating to those around me.  I know that if Dave was sick this long I would have lost all sympathy weeks ago.  Oh who am I trying to kid.  I am sympathetic for the first 3 days.  For the second three days I am tolerant.  After that I am a passive aggressive caretaker rolling my eyes at his pain and suffering while huffing and puffing at the extra work it is causing me. 

I am so tired from coughing that tonight I let Dave go and purchase my new stove, wait for it, without me.  I had picked it out a few weeks ago.  No, I was not crazy enough to let him pick it.  I would have either gotten a one burner apartment special, or I would have ended up with the top of the line gourmet one if I had let him pick it.  You can never tell which way he will go with something like this.    I did give him carte blanche to pick a range to go over the stove, but they are being held up due to a new design.  Can't wait to see what that will be, since I thought if you saw one range cover you had seen them all. 

If anyone would like to share a coughing remedy that is not Robitussin or Mucinex, I am all ears.  My old stand-bys have let me down.  I have a lot of fun things coming up and this has gone on long enough.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

My Head is Literally Spinning

It is the end of the school year, and things are crazy.  Colin went to camp for three days, and Ryan has the end of the year Kindergarten stuff that is so cute I think I now have a cavity. 

Add to that, I have had this weird cold/ear infection/bronchitis thing that just won't go away.  I am on my third round of antibiotics, the second one made me sicker than I was already so I only took one, so really that one doesn't count.  It, along with the Claritin-D I took to try to get it under control both made me so dizzy I could not function.  Yesterday I drove about 30 minutes away to take Ryan to my nephew's birthday party.  I had to have Ann and Bob come pick us up because I couldn't drive if my life depended on it.  I felt more drunk than I have ever been from drinking. 

Next weekend I will be participating in my final Relay For Life.  I hope I am feeling better since I will have to be there for 24 hours.  (I hate being outside at night.  It is just creepy when I have a perfectly good bed at my house.)  This year I am helping Ryan's teacher with a team from their elementary school.  We are running a campaign called "Coins for the Cure" that is a contest to see which grade level can bring in the most spare change.  The prize is an extra 30 minute recess.  That is it.  No pizza party, no candy, just the opportunity to play outside for an extra 30 minutes.  We have raised about $2000 doing this.  I told Mrs. L that we should have named our team "Nickel and Diming our way to the Cure."  The American Cancer Society is really such a great cause as it does research for all kinds of cancer, and they spend 93 cents of every dollar on research or services.  I really encourage anyone to go to a local Relay and see what it is all about.  I am moving on to helping the local library on the foundation, so this will be my last relay for a few years.  I need a break. 

Next week is the last week of school, so I am hoping that I start feeling better since I will have two kids with me for the next three months,  Should prove to be interesting. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

You Know You Are Having A Bad Hair Day When...

I have been growing my hair out for about seven months in the hope that I will be able to pull it back into a pony tail.  When we go to the pool it turns into a fly away mess when it is short.  I took a shower today and just dried it quickly so I could go get Ryan at the bus stop.  My neighbor was there so I chatted with him for a minute or two.  This is the end of the conversation:

Me:  Thanks Manny, I will talk to you later.   I have to run because I have a conference call soon. 
Him:  Voice or Video
Me:  Voice.
Him:  Thats good, because if it was video I am not sure you can get it together in time for 4:00.  Your hair is kind of crazy.

It has been several years since I have worked in an office environment, so my appearance is not as professional as it used to be.  Perhaps I should put a little bit more effort into it. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

How Rumors Get Started

I was at the grocery store with Dave and Ryan when my nephew called me to see what kind of Goldfish Crackers my kids eat.  The following is what happened when I hung up:

Dave:  What did Will want?
Me:  To know what kind of goldfish the kids eat.
Dave:  Why?
Me: She is at the store and saw them on sale.
Ryan:  Grandma is getting us Goldfish?
Me:  Yes.
Ryan:  What happens when they die?
Me:  Goldfish Crackers, not a real goldfish.
Ryan:  Oh good, we have enough pets. 

It is impossible for me to say anything to Dave when the kids are around without them getting into it with us.  It drives me CRAZY!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Is Vision Really That Important?

I have a confession to make....are you ready?  I hate to go to the eye doctor.   It is the only doctor that has ever caused me to cry.  Dentist?  No problem.  Who thought it would be a good idea to make someone stick their head into a machine and then literally shoot air at your eye with the sound effects to match?  I am scarred for life.  (If you cry and hyperventilate they mark your chart stating that you will freak the hell out and it would be better to use the drops.)  I have wanted to do corrective surgery for years but they keep telling me I am not a candidate since I am so freaked out I can hardly open my eyes when in the presence of an eye professional. 

I have had issues for years with going to the eye doctor.  I would avoid the whole thing except for my 20/650 vision and need to wear contacts.  It seems that they like you to get your prescription renewed every year to purchase new contacts.  I didn't think I would have an anxiety attack taking Colin.  Alas, I was wrong. 

Colin has been having headaches that cause stomach aches and we are trying to figure out what is causing it.  I took him to the eye doctor to make sure his vision was not the issue.  We went to the same eye doctor that I went to when I first got glasses, and when I walked into the room that has the puff machine I had to sit down.  I tried not to react because I didn't want Colin to have this phobia, but holy shit, that thing is evil!  As he stuck his head in the machine that has the hot air balloon in it I started to get a sick feeling in my stomach.  Thank God they didn't do the air test or I would have required prescription intervention.  The sound haunts my dreams.   We went into the actual exam room and I was doing the nervous talking.  You know the one where you are talking and all you want to do is stop, but the harder you try the more you talk until you have talked yourself into a corner and then the doctor was looking at me like I was crazy. By an act of God I managed to shut the heck up and we moved along. 

Dr. Andy did his tests and said that Colin had perfect vision, but that since we were there he might as well dilate his pupils and make 100% sure that it wasn't a focus issue.  We did the drops and had to wait for 30 minutes for them to work their magic.  If Colin can't read he is fidgety and he was walking around the waiting room.  This is a problem when your eyes are dilating and he kept bumping into things.  I made him sit down when he apologized to the chair after he ran into it. 

By the time we got back into the exam room I was in a full blown anxiety attack.  I wanted to crawl out of my skin, or at least wait in the car until it was over.  Since neither one of those were an option I sucked it up and sat with my eyes covered.  Dr. Andy actually asked me if I was okay.  I mentioned that I have anxiety with eye doctors and he looked at me like I was crazy.  He quickly finished the exam and got the heck out of the room. 

The conclusion I have come to is that Dave is now in charge of all eye care appointments.  There are not enough relaxation techniques in the world to make me go through that again.  It is bad enough that I have to go myself, but I am drawing the line in the sand.  As God is my witness, I will never take my children to a vision appointment again!  My blood pressure will thank me. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Random Thoughts for April

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.  For example, just because you can eat an entire bag of Snickers Mini's you bought for your kids Easter Baskets doesn't mean that you should as you will get a stomach ache and your kids will get skimpy treats. 

It is better to get treats that you don't like for the Easter Baskets.  See reasons above. 

Again, I would like to remind all ladies that tights are not meant to be worn as pants.  An exception can be made if you are running, but then must be changed before going anywhere else. 

Today I was looking for a pair of underwear in the unfolded laundry.  Ryan was so generous when he told me that I could borrow a pair of his.  He said they were soft and very stretchy.  There is no cotton in the world that can make a pair of underwear made for a 6 year old fit me.  I think this is a good thing. 

I am so happy that I was born into my family.  That is all I am saying on this subject. 

Even if you live a charmed life, sometimes you just need to give yourself a day to feel sorry for yourself.  Is it wrong that I want a bigger house or a nicer wardrobe?  Is it bad that I want to have a day to myself?  I love and appreciate what I have, but I would really like more.  I had that day earlier this week and it has past, but I feel better for having felt it. 

As a follow-up to my post titled "Better Things", the one where the lady was snotty as she reprimanded me for Max pooping on her lawn without me seeing, she walked past my house with her dog the other day, and I have never wanted a dog to poop on my lawn more than that day.  Of course, she is perfect with her perfect dog and he didn't even look at me.  Damn dog.

As a follow up to Jury Duty, it was reported today in the Akron Beacon Journal that the defendant was found guilty.  I feel good about this and can now let this rest.  Again, thank the good Lord above that I didn't have to sit on this trial as I would have been scarred for life.  One of the jurors fell asleep during closing arguments and had to be dismissed.  How does that happen after listening to testimony for 5 days? 

Finally, I have two new public followers.  Welcome Anne and Jeff.  Glad to have you aboard, and thanks for letting me know you are here! It is a boost to my ego to know that someone besides my family reads this.  Anne, I have visited your site as well and love what I see.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Jury Duty and The Cat in the Hat

Last Sunday was Easter.  It seems like from the time I was woken up by Colin to start the Easter basket hunt, until this very moment, I have been going at full steam ahead.  It was a bumpy ride along the way, but I made it.

My normal week usually involves a full slate of kids, school, house stuff, cooking, cleaning, and oh, by the way, I do have a job.  This week we added in Jury Duty, two doctors appointments, a volunteer meeting, several conference calls, two funerals and oh yeah, the kids were off school on Monday. 

I had to report for Jury Duty at the the courthouse on Monday.  I have been called several times before and have never made it out of the basement waiting room.  I usually end up sitting next to someone that wants to sell me Mary Kay or Pampered Chef.  This time I was prepared with a fully charged Kindle with several books loaded that I have been wanting to read.  Let me tell you what happens when you want to sit in the basement waiting room.  You get called to sit on a homicide trial, that is what. 

I was in the first group of people to be called.  I hadn't even read two pages of my book when they called my name.  I was juror # 19 so I was feeling pretty confident that I would not be picked until they told us what the case was about.  It was aggravated vehicular homicide.  I will spare you the details because it was pretty gruesome and really complicated.  If you want to see the specifics, you can check it out here. They start by asking each person about educational background, current job and if you have ever had any experience with court.  Out of 31 people, there were only about 4 that had not been to traffic court.  We finished that after about 90 minutes, and then each side got to talk about the jury selection process and ask additional questions. 

Let me say that the courtroom was about 90 degrees, and that is no exaggeration.  I was starting to sweat after about five minutes, and by the time they started asking more direct questions I was starting to experience deodorant fade-out.  The more I worried about that, the more I thought I was starting to smell.  It was a vicious circle.  I was sitting in the front row of the gallery and they kept asking me direct questions.  There were 30 other people and they called on me so many times that the other jurors knew my name.  The more questions they asked, the more I was sweating.  By the time I was dismissed, I felt like I had a dirt cloud around me like Pigpen in the Peanuts cartoons.  Thank the good Lord that I was dismissed, because that trial would have scarred me for life.  I have been following it in the paper and I think I might still be scarred for life. 

The week ended last night with 12 of my family members going to a high school production of "Seussical the Musical".  When my mom called and asked me if I wanted to go I said yes thinking that it would be like any other week when I am looking for any reason to get out of my house.  Also, Laura was in town, and when she is here I like to spend as much time with her as possible, not to mention with my lovely nieces, Erin and Cara and my nephew Andrew.  They are growing up so fast.   This was not the case this week as I would have rather been watching TV from my bed.  The kids did a great job, but I was reminded once again how much I dislike The Cat in the Hat.  I was also suffering from some intestinal distress, so it was a long couple of hours. 

Today has been a lovely day to rejuvenate me and get me ready to start it all over again.  It is great weather outside and Ryan and I are going to take Max to the dog park.  I will be ready to start all over again for next week.  It is Dessert Extravaganza week and there are still tickets available if you are interested and local.  We would love to see you there!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Not the Easter Miracle We Hoped For

I have written several times about our neighbor Quinn.  She came barrelling into the world a month early on the bathroom floor and commanded attention for every second of her short life.  I learned a lot from this baby, and I only met her once. 

1.  It is possible and necessary to find joy in the smallest things.  Her family could have fallen into only seeing how horrible this disease was for their precious baby.  Instead, they were able to take notice of the smiles they would get from her, and appreciate them for what they were.  Also, for Quinn to even smile with such pain is amazing in and of itself.  I understand that I take these things from my children for granted and I have been trying to live in the moment.  I am getting much better at this. 

2.  Never give up.  This family was searching for help as soon as this diagnosis was suggested to them.  They got her into a trial program and she was the youngest baby to ever receive a bone marrow transplant for this condition.  Marc and Mandy faced this head on, and they were amazing advocates for their baby.  Nobody knew her better, and they could often determine the problems before the doctors.  I hope they can take comfort in knowing that they did everything that could have been done, and then went and did more.  I am sure that they have more training in wound care than many people in the profession will ever get. 

3.  Faith can take you to places you never imagined possible.  The whole family operated with such grace under pressure.  They stayed positive in the darkest of days and were able to show me that my faith that I have been questioning in the past few years is, in fact, an amazing gift that I need to nurture.  I don't know that I could have done what they did, and I am praying that I never have to find out.  I learned that God does not always give you what you want, but he does give you what is best.  While I am having a hard time wrapping my head around this right now, I know that Marc and Mandy do believe this, and I will support them in any way I can. 

4.  Strength comes in many different packages.  I will never question anyone in their fight, and I will not count anyone out until the end.  This baby fought off problems again and again.  How such a tiny body could take on so much will always be a mystery.  She had EB, that is plenty, but then she had a bone marrow transplant, faced several kinds of pneumonia and battled to the very end.   Her fight for life may have ended, but her fight for awareness and a cure has only just begun.  She will continue to make a difference. 

Quinn's butterfly wings have taken her on to a new place, one of peace and no pain.  Her butterfly army will continue to pray for her and her family and hopefully they will also find peace and comfort knowing that their amazing little girl touched so many people in so many ways. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Better Things

Okay, let me preface this post by telling you I am in a rotten mood.  Please feel free to stop reading now, my feelings won't be hurt, unless I find out, and then I will be more mad directly at you. 

Let me also say that I am a big proponent of people picking up after their pets.  I take this responsibility very seriously as I am a "live and let live" kind of person and I do not want my family to interfere with the happiness of others.  As long as you are not breaking the law and/or getting in my way, it is really none of my business what your lifestyle is. 

So, as I mentioned, I woke up in a bad mood today and then Ryan was his usual uncooperative self while getting ready for school.  Nothing starts your day off better than having a child drag his feet at every single turn, especially on a Monday.  It is a brisk but sunny day here so I decided to take a walk and get some sun and fresh air.  Exercise is supposed to help when you are in a bad mood.  I debated whether or not to take Max and finally decided that I would take him because he deserves to be in the fresh air, too. 

Have I mentioned that I got an iPhone a few months ago?  One of the apps that come with it is Nike+iPad, so I decided to give it a try.  I entered my info and then it said, "Walk around to activate sensor."  I walked for about 1/4 of a mile and it was still saying the same thing.  I stopped to mess with it and Max pooped.  Not to get too graphic, but Max weighs about 17 pounds.  This poop looked like it would do the job for a day or two.  Instead of carrying the poop with me, I left it by the fire hydrant so I could pick it up on my way home.  I proceeded on my way and was walking and messing with my phone trying to get it to play some music or at least do something.  I stopped again as I finally got it to play my theme song, "Better Things" by the Kinks.  Unbeknownst to me, Max pooped again.  With the amount he had already pooped it could not have been any bigger than a peanut M&M.  The home owner was out mowing her lawn and came running up to me and said, "Ma'am, in the future, could you please not let your dog poop on my lawn?"  Of course I was sufficiently mortified and explained that he had already pooped so I left my poop bag and I would swing back and pick it up in a few minutes, and that I was sorry that I didn't notice that he had pooped since I was looking at my phone. 

Now if this had been me and I saw someone let their dog poop on my lawn, I might have said something.  The difference would be that I would have been gracious about the apology instead of being snotty.  Also, did she really think I would let my dog poop on her lawn if she was standing there?  If I was going to let my dog poop in someones yard and not pick it up, which I wouldn't, I would certainly pick a few others before hers. 

I realize that this woman did not know that I was in such a bad mood.  For all I know, this was her straw that broke the camel's back, but seriously, when someone offers a sincere apology, accept it and move on.  Now that I have vented, I am going to move on and let it go. 

That is, unless I see her dog poop in my yard, then it is Game On!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Fools

One of the best thing about having older kids is that they are able to get up on their own on the weekend and leave Dave and I to sleep in.  I remember the first time that Ryan got up on his own.  It was like my Birthday and Christmas rolled into one.  I was a new woman!  I am not a morning person on my best day, but to have to get up before 7:00 on a non-work day did not make me the happiest mother around. 

A few years ago we got a new alarm clock that would automatically set the time, and as a bonus it would automatically adjust the time for Daylight Savings.  Shortly after we got the clock they changed when the time change happened so the clock adjusts on the wrong day.  Today was the day it made the change.  I woke up at what I thought was 10:10 and flew out of bed to wake Colin up so he could get ready for PSR (Parish School of Religion) that started at 10:30. 

Colin rolled over and told me that it was really only 9:10 and that I should let him sleep some more.  I told him I didn't think this was funny and he needed to get out of bed RIGHT NOW!  DO I LOOK LIKE I AM IN THE MOOD FOR YOUR ATTITUDE?!?!?!?!  Colin turned his clock around to show me the correct time and then got up because once he was awake he might as well get out of bed. 

He came out and asked me if I knew what day it was, and then pointed out that it was April Fool's day.  I asked him if he changed my clock on purpose and he said no, he didn't, but he wished he had thought of it. 

The problem with having a clever child with a dry sense of humor is that he is capable of pulling these things off.  I put nothing past him these days, hence me accusing him of stealing my cupcakes.  I think these things are becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy when I am always on the lookout for his devious actions.  I should know that my beautiful, angelic child would not put me through such foolishness, Right Colin?

If the truth is to be told, he has never actually done anything like this.  It is the idea that I know he can that holds power over me.  May the good Lord himself help me when he actually does start doing these things or worse.  He is only 12.  It is all downhill from here. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Case of the Missing Cupcake

Okay, this post is going to seem like I am scattered and wandering in my thoughts, and that would be correct, but trust me, stay with it and it will all make sense. 

About two weeks ago Colin lost his little pouch, for lack of a better term, that holds his DS games.  We have looked quite a bit, and while I am hesitant to declare it gone, it has not turned up in all the usual places.  First he blamed Ryan, which is the usual target for blame, and then he accused me of hiding it. I ask you, why would I want to hide it?  Why would I want to hear about it every day, and why would I do that to Colin?  It is a conversation we have had every day since it went missing. 

Last week was spring break for our kids.  It was the most amazing spring break ever!  Spring sprang and the weather was in the 70's or 80's every day.  It was so nice that Dave took the whole week off to be with us.  On Monday he took the boys to the Natural History Museum in Cleveland.  On Tuesday we went to the Cleveland Zoo.  We wore shorts and were hot.  In March.  In Cleveland, Ohio.  It was an amazing day. 

On Wednesday, we decided to go to A&W.  In case you don't have this, it is where you go to get A&W root beer and you eat in your car.  They are closed during the winter so it is a big deal to go for the first time each year.  We then went for a walk, and the boys wanted ice cream.  They had been bugging me for days about the ice cream.  I wasn't in that big a hurry to get ice cream because, don't hate me here, I don't really like ice cream. 

Okay, stay with me here.  I have recently become a member of our local library's Foundation.  Our mission is to raise money to fill the gaps where public funding stops.  Our big fundraiser is coming up called the Dessert Extravaganza, and Ann and I had been out talking to bakeries to see if they would like to participate.  We stopped at a new bakery called Cupcake Binge and decided to try one while we were there.  I am telling you that it was THE BEST CUPCAKE EVER!!!! 

Well, the park we went to happened to be next to the Cupcake Binge so I stopped and got myself the Mexican vanilla which tastes like a snicker doodle in a cupcake, but I also got a chocolate/vanilla one because Ann raves about that one.  I didn't want to have to share so I waited until we got home after getting the kids their much anticipated ice cream.  When we got home I put my purse, phone and bag of cupcakes on the steps and went to do a load of laundry.  Good Lord, will the laundry ever end?  I finished that job and collected my things and went on my way.  About two hours later I decided I would like my cupcake and went to look for it.  I looked in the kitchen which was the most logical place, and no bag.  I looked in the car thinking I had forgotten to bring it in, and no bag.  I looked in the laundry room on the off chance I took it with me when I did the laundry, and still no bag.  I asked Dave if he had seen it and he said no.  I asked the boys, and still no results.  I accused Colin of hiding it in retaliation for him thinking I hid his DS games.  I am not proud.  I had obviously lost my mind. Still thinking that Colin had them,  I offered a $2.00 reward for anyone that returned my baked goods.  I was sure that Colin would hand them over and we would all go on our merry way. 

I was hot.  The nerve of someone to steal my cupcakes when they all got their precious ice cream.  I went to my bedroom to fold the laundry and wait to see who would be brave enough to admit to absconding with my treat.  About 15 minute later, the boys came busting into my room and flung a demolished bakery bag onto my bed and demanded their reward.  Max had stolen them from off the step while I was doing the laundry.  Now I was really mad.  My cupcakes were gone, Colin was demanding $2.00 and Ryan also thought he deserved a reward because he drew a picture of the scene of the crime. 

I swear he did this on purpose to mock me. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Happy Birthday to Laura!

Today is my sister Laura's birthday.  She is the one closest in age to me, but we could not really be more different.  Let me explain why.

I may have mentioned here that I strive to get my life organized.  I would love to have a place for everything and everything in its place.  It is a source of anxiety for me, and I often find it overwhelming.  Laura, on the other hand, has always had her life meticulously organized and scheduled down to a tee.  When we were little we shared a bedroom.  Her side of it was usually neat and clean.  My side always looked like a bomb went off.  It drove her crazy.  She had her planner mapped out each night from as soon as she came home until it was time to go to bed.  She changed her nail polish color to match her outfits for the next day, and actually knew what she was wearing for the whole week.  I did not have a planner, let alone use one, nor did I plan my outfit until it was time to wear it, and I have probably polished my nails less than 20 times in my whole life.

Now that we are older, Laura is the one people go to if they need something.  She is the troop leader for the Girl Scouts, and was the person in charge of interest groups for her school.  Her house is the one that the neighborhood kids want to visit, and she has these great birthday parties for her kids that a based on the Amazing Race reality show.  Me, not so much. 

While I wish that she lived closer, she was able to move four plus hours away, and not only did she do it, but she thrived.  I admire her independence and ability to create not only a support group, but a family away from home. 

I often talk about my other sisters because they live here and I see them often.  Heck, I go to lunch with Ann a few times a week.  I don't talk about Laura as much, but on her birthday, I wanted to take a few minutes to brag about her and let her know how much I love her. 

Laura, you are never far from my heart or mind, and I love you!  Happy Birthday, and remember, you are almost at the bottom of the list!  That puts me on the top for 47 hours because we "spring ahead" tomorrow.  Leave it to Daylight Savings time to rob one of  the few precious hours that I actually get!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The One Where I Actually Become the Middle Aged, Midwestern Stereotype

Last weekend,  Dave and Colin went to the Auto Show.  In theory this was supposed to be an enjoyable bonding experience for them.  They have gone for the last few years and had a great time.  Last year we actually needed a new car so it killed two birds with one stone.  Dave got to see all the new cars without dragging me all over town to see them.

We had a seven year old Honda Civic that was doing just fine.  It had 107,000 miles and needed some work, but all in all, Dave had said that he planned to drive it until Colin was old enough to drive it and then it would be his.  Colin just turned 12.  In theory we were keeping that car for at least four more years.  So it was with the thought that he was just going for something to do on a cold, rainy day that he went to said car show.

The two of them were gone for about five hours and I went to lunch with my parents.  Ryan was at a birthday party so all was well.  When Dave came home he got on the computer and was on it for the rest of the evening.  This, in itself, is not that unusual.  When I glanced over he was on car sites instead of sports, but again I thought nothing of it.  I went about my normal routine, and soon it was time to go to bed. 

The next morning, Dave decided to take a vacation day, but in my quest to get the kids off to school, I wasn't really paying attention.  He has days to burn and sometimes he just needs a mental health day.  Great.  He left to get a cup of coffee at 9:00, and when I looked up from work at 11:00 and he still wasn't home, I called to see where he was.  This was our conversation:

Me:  Hi Honey, where are you, I am starting to worry about you.
Dave:  I am at the Toyota Dealer
Me:  Why are you at the Toyota dealer?
Dave:  I am looking at the new cars. 
Me:  I wasn't aware that we were looking to buy a new car.
Dave:  I am just looking, don't worry.
Me:  Okay, do you want to go to lunch?
Dave:  Sure, I will be home soon. 

He got home and we went outside to get in the car.  Much to my surprise, our car was missing and  there was a different car in our driveway.  I looked at Dave and he said that they just let him "take it out for a spin."  We went to lunch and then the hard sell started.  He wanted to buy the car.  I asked is we could afford it, and he said yes.  I asked if he liked it.  He said yes. 

The next day we bought the car.  We are now owners of a 2012 Toyota Camry, thus making us the definition of a Midwestern, middle aged stereotype.  After I thought about it, I realized that this is what we have worked for our entire lives, and now we are living it. Not owning an actual Camry, but building a life for our family.  I guess this is what it feels like to be a grown-up.  I am still not sure I am ready. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Car Conversation

This is an actual conversation I had with Ryan while driving him to school yesterday.

Ryan:  M & K were being mean yesterday and they told on us when we had more than one person playing "Don't Break the Ice".  I told them that just because there was only one hammer, since we broke the other one, doesn't mean that we can't share.

Me:  Were they playing? 

Ryan:  No, but they told the substitute that only one person could play and then she took the whole thing away.

Me:  This sounds like a time that M & K should have minded their own business. 

Ryan:  I know, and that is why I told them so.  You know I like to tell people when they are doing something wrong." 

Me:  That sounds like a time when you should have been minding your own business. 

Ryan:  I don't think so because the substitute gave me a special seat right next to her and I got to stay there until Mrs. L came back. 

Me:  I am not sure that getting a special seat is a good thing here. 

Ryan:  It sure was, I got all the personal space that I needed, and I could see everything!

Me:  {{Sigh}}

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Brief Look into our Morning Routine

This is to be sung to the tune "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton. 
(For those of you younger than 40, you can listen to it here)

Tumble out of bed and
Stumble to the kitchen,
Time to start the nagging and bitchin’
And pack the lunches one more time…….
Start the shower, find the clothes
Those damn socks,
You think I’d know
That they are trying to put me
Over the edge

Its morning,
My day is just getting started
We are barely
Getting them moving,
They just won’t go,
Its like they’re in slow motion,
Its enough to drive you crazy if you let it.

Lets add in the dog,
its all barking and pooping
You would think that after
Two years we’d have a program,
Dave won’t walk him
Without me asking
I swear sometimes that man will make me crazy
(Back to chorus. Repeat two times.)
(I know this needs another verse, but after this morning I am wiped out.)

Really, it is amazing that they ever get out the door in the morning.  Once they are all gone I feel like I have just run a marathon and I should lock the door in case they try to get back in.   I can't remember how I used to do this and get myself ready in the morning, too.  This is the main reason why I love working from home. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Biggest Decisions in Life are Never Easy

When making life decisions, no other decision affects you more than the person you marry.  Nobody can exercise control over your finances, environment and happiness than the person with whom you choose to spend the rest of your life. 

Whitney Houston is a good example of a marriage decision gone bad.  By all accounts she was straight laced until the fateful night at the "Soul Train" awards where she met and fell in love with Bobby Brown.  I am sure she was attracted to the bad boy, aren't we all?  As a self proclaimed "good girl", I was attracted to many a bad boy in my time.  In fact, I once came home with a boy that smoked, had a handcuffed earring, and we had to jump into his car through the windows like "The Dukes of Hazard."  That pretty much did away with any black hair my father still had as he banned me from getting back into that car.  I will admit, that was not my smartest move ever, but I got it out of my system and chose a responsible, compassionate and caring man to marry. 

Whitney Houston chose to marry Bobby Brown and then we watched the downward spiral that resulted in her untimely death this past weekend.  She had an amazing gift that we have never seen the likes of before and probably won't again in my lifetime.  Her rendition of the Star Spangled Banner will go down in history as the benchmark for all who follow.  She made one of the hardest songs to sing look easy making the rest of us feel like we should be able to do it, too. 

On top of "The Voice", she had charisma that you just can't teach.  She looked like someone that I would like to talk to over a cup of coffee, you know, if I drank coffee.  Time after time we are hearing from singers who said that the highlight of their career was when Whitney would encourage them in their craft.  She was an inspiration to an entire generation of vocalists. 

It is just such a waste.  We will never know if she would have discovered the life of drugs if she hadn't married Bobby Brown.  I do know that if she had never gotten involved with him she would have had a better chance of sharing her gift with generations to come.  Instead, when I told my 17 year old nephew that she died, a kid that has been introduced to a wide range of music in his life, he did not know who she was.  She is not even relevant to the kids in high school. My generation has lost the two biggest musical icons of our time.  Both of them have been drug related.   Can we please let this serve as a lesson to everyone?  Can we please end this senseless death?  There can be no good ending with drugs.  It is a road paved with tragedy and pain.  You might survive, but you will not be unscathed. 

I said it before and I will say it again.  What a waste. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

12 Years in a Blink of an Eye!

It is 12 years ago today at 3:45 that my life changed forever in the most fabulous way I could have ever imagined.  For it is 12 years ago today that Colin was born!  He came into this world kicking and crying and amazed us all with how big he was.  He was 23 inches long and looked like a string bean.  He had beautiful blue eyes that seemed to see and understand everything that was going on as soon as he was born.  He was wise beyond his minutes and instantly followed Dave's voice. 

As a baby he was a bit of a challenge.  He was the kind of baby that would cry starting at 7:30 on the dot and would not be happy unless you were walking him around.  God forbid you would have the audacity to lean against the wall as that could invoke wailing that would alarm the neighbors.  John Denver was my savior during these years because nothing would put him to sleep faster than his greatest hits.  We wore out the tape, and I swear I will dance to "Annie's Song" with him for the Mother/Son dance at his wedding. 

As a toddler he was inquisitive and his ears were like a bat.  They missed nothing and he would ask you questions until he understood everything.  I got better at spelling during this time.  He had such a good nature and would entertain himself for hours.  I thought all kids did this, but as I found out later, this is a special skill, and one I was very lucky he had. 

As the years go by, he is getting to be much more entertaining.  His dry sense of humor is so funny, and there is really no sound better than one of his belly laughs.  If you can get him to smile a real smile it will light up a room.  He is thoughtful and caring and compassionate; all things I had hoped he would be. 

Colin, today I wish you the happiest of Birthdays!  I want nothing but peace, love and happiness for you.  I am proud to be your mother, and I am looking forward to watching the changes that will happen in the next 12 years.  It is so true when people say the days last forever, but the years fly by.  I am looking forward to watching you become the man that I know you will be. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Crazy Chiropractor and the Budging Socks

So I went back to the holistic chiropractor earlier this week.  I must first say that he has helped me with my stomach issues and my hip.  I am giving him full credit where credit is due.  I have been to countless stomach doctors to be told there is nothing wrong with me when clearly there was.  If you are doubled over more than once a week, there is a problem.  Since I have been going there and have adopted some dietary changes, I have felt a lot better. 

With that being said, our conversation came back around to my anxiety and all the ways it affects me.  He asked what was one emotion that I wished I handled better and I answered with frustration.  He said with all seriousness that he could fix that, so I let him try.  He did his voodoo magic which consisted of him tapping on my face for a few minutes and then told me that I should not get as frustrated as I did before.  I thought that was funny since his tapping on my face was causing me some frustration, but I thought maybe it took some time to to work. 

Enter this morning when I was attempting to get Ryan ready for school and he had to put his socks on.  It is well documented here that my kids have some issues with socks.  Today Ryan was complaining that his socks were "budging".  I am not entirely sure what that is, but I think they are wrinkling under his foot. I tried giving him several different socks to try and that didn't work.  I tried yelling at him, and that clearly didn't work.  Suffice it to say that the voodoo magic did not work either.  My frustration level was through the roof with him, especially when he missed the bus .  Did I mention that I had a dentist appointment today?  The plea for help has gone out to my sock connection for a fresh delivery.  There were some tears, I am not going to say whose, and some gnashing of teeth, definitely mine, and the promise of an early bedtime tonight, probably for both of us.

To solve my frustration level, I did some retail therapy and I am now the proud owner of an iPhone 4s.  Perhaps Siri can get Ryan to put on his socks because it is obvious that I could use some help.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Kindle vs. Paper

I may have mentioned that Dave got me a Kindle Fire for Christmas.  I have now read about 5 books on it and think I have a good handle on the book versus e-reader debate.  Here is my take:

There is really nothing like a real book.  I love the way they feel and smell.  I love turning the pages.  I love having Dave guess how many pages I have already read.  He is freakishly good at this.  I love being able to see the progression of the pages as I read the book.  I love going to the library and looking through the shelves to see what might catch my fancy.  I also love reading the book jacket to see what the book is all about.   A book never runs out of batteries.

I like that I can carry more than one book in my purse.  I really like the convenience of not having to leave my house if I want to read something and I am out of material.  Sometimes I just don't have the time to go to the library.   I like that my kindle also has apps and Internet access.  It fits nicely in my purse so when I am out and Ryan wants to play a game, it keeps him occupied for about 10 minutes which is usually all I need.  It does not require me to move my hand to turn the page, and you can change the font size if you need it a little bigger. 

Here is what I don't like about the Kindle Fire.  First, when they added the color and bigger screen, it is kind of heavy.   I also find that I am having a hard time looking for books from the library.  I have not mastered the search engine yet and it is not as enjoyable as going to the library and browsing.  I have it on good authority that our local library is adding many more titles and copies of e-books, so I am sure this will get easier.   In the meantime, I have found a website called where they offer about eight free books a day that cover all genres.  That has stocked my Kindle with a ton of books that are not authors that I have ever read before and I have found some that I like. 

All in all, I am enjoying my Kindle, but I don't think it will ever replace a paper book in my heart.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Three Phrases that are Driving Me Crazy

There are three phrases that are currently driving me crazy.  They are so overused they are becoming trite.  They have been bothering me for quite a while and I just heard one and it put me over the edge. Because I was in front of my computer when it happened, I will share them with you. 

1.  Journey.  Everything is a journey lately.  From the "Biggest Loser" people on their weight loss journey to anyone navigating a personal crisis.  I think it started with the "Survivor" reality series.  With the explosion of reality TV it has gotten out of control.  I propose we all start saying adventure instead. 

2.  Blessed.  This is totally overused to describe anything from giving birth to finding your favorite pack of gum on sale and you have a matching coupon.  The birth of a child is a blessed event.  Witnessing or being involved in a miracle is a blessed event.  Having a tissue handy when you sneeze is not a blessed event.  That is called planning ahead or a coincidence.  On the other hand, I will say "God bless you" if I am around when you sneeze.  Here are some examples of "blessed" being over used.  I think we can all agree that what you are really trying to say is that you are happy. There is a big difference. 

"I am so blessed to have you for my friend."
"I am so blessed that you were available to change my tire."
"I am so blessed that the dog finally decided to stop eating socks."  (This is a shout out to my friend Susan.  Here is hoping that it will be true sooner rather than later.)

The ultimate is when someone says they were on their journey to the grocery store and they were blessed when they found their favorite gum on sale.  Can we all agree that these words are losing their impact when they are overused?  Can we reserve them for the time when they really apply?  Awesome!

3.  This is somewhat unrelated, but I hear it all the time in the professional world.  We have gotten away from "thinking out of the box", but people still feel the need to "reach out to me".  People, please just say that you will contact me.  I don't need to feel the personal touch.  We all know that I don't like people touching me anyway. 

I will thank you in advance for making all appropriate changes to your vernacular.  I will do the same for you.  Please tell me what they are (without reaching out to me) so I can work on those changes immediately.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

We Were All Crying Over Spilled Milk

While I was on the phone with my sister last week, I heard a ruckus break out in the kitchen.  A ruckus you say?  What kind of ruckus?  It turns out that Colin was getting himself some chocolate milk and Ryan was being Ryan and irritated Colin.  Colin knew that Ryan wanted some milk, but since Ryan was being a brat he ignored him. 

As Colin was coming out of the kitchen to tell me exactly how Ryan was being a brat, Ryan decided to get himself a glass of milk.  Did I mention that it was a brand new carton?  Do we all see the path this milk is going to take?  You guessed it, it went all over my counter, down the front of the dishwasher, on the carpet in front of the sink, and even under the dishwasher. 

Yes, I was mad about the milk, but I was more mad that my children continue to battle over who can be the bigger brat.  We have been talking about choosing kindness when dealing with each other, using basic manners that I have been teaching them since the day they were born.  If they treated anyone else the way they treat each other I would be mortified.  We have had numerous conversations about what I expect and they continue to treat each other in such a deplorable way.  In this case it takes two to tango, and each of them need to take some responsibility in this quest.  Each of my kids are kind in their own right, but when you put them together, it is mayhem. 

So that was last week.  Today they are working together like the team I have always wanted them to be.  I have watched them play in the snow out the window and they have been making snow angels and such, and then I saw them having an intense conversation where they were obviously planning something.  It turns out that plan is to make our porch steps a sledding hill.  My question is, do I live in the moment and enjoy the fruits of my hard labor to get them to be kind, or do I yell at them and make them stop?  I think I am going to go with the first option.  I can make them move it when they are done, and since Dave pulled out our landscaping over the summer, there is nothing there for them to kill.

LOL means Laugh Out Loud...

It has been a bit hectic here for the past couple of weeks. It seems like the boys are off school every other day due to some teacher work day or Martin Luther King day or some other reason that isn't coming to mind. When they spend large amounts of time together they tend to start bickering like an old married couple. We have been working really hard on using kindness and respect with each other, and I have only lost my cool on them about three times. This is a huge improvement.

My Aunt Kathy visited us from Florida to take advantage of the amazing health care that we have here in Northeastern Ohio. We have some of the best hospitals in the world within 45 minutes from my front door. While she was here I got to spend some time with her explaining how Facebook works. My cousin had sent her a private message and had used LOL causing my aunt some confusion. I then had to explain the basics of abbreviation. It was great to see her and Uncle Ted and I look forward to the next time we see them.

In the middle of all that, My Aunt Mary Lou passed away. We spent every Christmas at her house while we were growing up. I can remember the smell of her house and how fascinated I was that she had two ovens. Her house was the first one that I had been to with a garbage disposal and I thought that it was sooooo cool. Most of her silverware had some sort of mark on it indicating it had fallen victim to said disposal. The thing I will remember most about Aunt Mary Lou is her amazing laugh. It seemed to come from her soul.  Just thinking of it now is making me smile. 

A quick update on Quinn.  She developed a really bad kind of pneumonia and needed to be intubated.  This is really bad because not only does she develop blisters on her skin, she also develops them internally and the trauma caused by the tube is really bad.  The good news is that she seems to be battling back again and they hope to have her off the ventilator by the end of the month.  She is one strong and stubborn little girl.  She also had her 5 month birthday! 

The laundry is calling so I must attack it with vigor, otherwise I will have to suffer the consequences.  It seems to multiply when I am not looking and then mocks me when I try to get it back under control.  AAUUUGGGGHHHHH!!!!!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Quinn's Caring Bridge Website

I had a lot of people ask how they can find out more about Quinn's current condition.  With Marc's permission I am posting a link to her Caring Bridge Website.  You can even see some pictures of this beautiful family.  Did I mention that they also have a 2 year old son?  Camden is his name and he is a cutie.

It does ask for an e-mail so Marc can keep track of who is visiting and he can reply. 

Here is to Quinn and her butterfly army!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Amazing Strength of Butterflies

One dark and stormy night over the summer the paramedics went up our street.  A few minutes later a second ambulance followed.  They went to the house at the end of the street where our neighbors were expecting a baby.  I didn't really know them all that well, but knew enough to know that the baby was not due for several more weeks. 

It turns out that Quinn was born four weeks early, but seemed to be in relatively good health, all except for a few blisters that were on her hands that they thought were from her sucking on her fingers.  We saw her when we were going for a walk and her dad, Mark, was walking her up and down the driveway. 

Turns out that her blisters weren't from sucking her hands.  They are from a rare, genetic disorder called  Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa - Herlitz, or EB for short.  Basically, the layers of her skin do not fuse together like normal skin causing blisters that are then treated as if she is a burn victim.  It is intensely painful and causes scarring wherever a blister has formed. They call these kids butterfly children because their skin is as delicate as the wings of a butterfly. You can get more information here. 

This beautiful baby is the youngest person to undergo a Bone Marrow Transplant for this disease.  She is amazing in her strength and  determination.  She has done better than we could have hoped for in her progress but is now experiencing a setback.  What is as amazing is the faith that her parents are displaying.  I am not one to say that someone is in my prayers.  I think it sounds so trite when people say this.  I always wonder how many people say that and then go on their way and never really think about it again.  Mark and Mandy have shown me what it means to really have God in their life to give them strength.  Every day they are in a hospital room with this child who is in a horrible amount of pain, and they face that pain and do everything they can to make it better.  They do not flinch when doctors come in and tell them they don't really have the answers they need, and are not really sure what is coming next.  They are dealing with the helpless feeling of knowing there is not a lot they can do for Quinn but to be her voice. 

As much as this post is about Quinn and the need to raise awareness to this horrible disease, it is about watching my neighbors show me how to walk in faith; to not question how the God they so love could inflict this pain on their beautiful baby.  They have shown me that life is not fair, but that it is what you make of the situation that is presented to you.  It is by watching them that I can actually see one of God's plans in action.  There are no parents that would be better able to deal with this than Mark and Mandy, especially with the grace and patience that they are showing.  This baby is also touching thousands of lives through the Caring Bridge website that they have working to get the word out on her condition. 

I am proud to be part of Quinn's butterfly army but it is my prayer that I can resign my post when they find a cure, or at least a way to manage it better then they currently do.  It is my prayer that Quinn can have a day without pain, and that Mark and Mandy can have a moment to enjoy their daughter instead of worrying about what is over the next hurdle. These are really my prayers, and I am not just saying that. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Here is to Stronger Stomach Muscles!

Today I went back to the holistic chiropractor, aka Voodoo Doctor.  As you may recall, this is the same man that told me that my stomach hurt because I was sensitive to all the foods that I like to eat. 

My stomach was killing me and I was sure it was not because I was eating anything off my diet.  In fact, I went all the way through the Christmas/New Year holiday with only having two days where I cheated.  It seems that I have a weakness for cheese and crackers.  Oh, and YumYum salad.  I only ate three Christmas cookies. 

So I went to the doctor and told him that I thought he might be mistaken.  I think my exact words were along the lines of, "I have followed your plan and my stomach still hurts.   I am not happy.  I think you are wrong."  He had me stand on one leg and tried to push me over.  On one side it took one finger, on the other he couldn't do it.  It turns out that my problem is really a weak abdominal muscle.  It starts at my rib and goes around my side and hip and down my leg, all the places that I have been complaining have hurt me for years.  He worked some voodoo magic and it stopped hurting. 

I am not totally discounting the food sensitivities as I feel better in general, but I think I am going to allow milk back into my diet so I can eat cereal again.  Oh how I have missed cereal.  It has been calling to me every time I pour a bowl for Ryan.  I think I missed it more than I missed soda. 

I also like that I managed to lose 10 pounds since Thanksgiving.  I have lost most of the muffin top that used to hang over my pants.  That is a good thing indeed.