Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Not A Creature Was Stirring

I find myself, strangely, home alone tonight. Completely alone. With the possible exception of the dog, 3 goldfish and an elf who has taken up temporary residence here until Santa takes him back on Christmas Eve. Which is tomorrow. Wow, it's already Christmas and I can't say that I'm sad to see 2008 go away. This year has been filled with a lot of trials and tribulations for my family. Here's a synopsis of life for us this year:

You might remember that as January began we were dealing with Pal having MRSA. That was one of the most disgusting things I've ever dealt with (see posts from last February, there are pictures...). The last flare-up he had was in July, and I am hoping that we are MRSA free, forever.
February brought many changes to my immediate family. My Father, after several close calls with my Mom wandering out of the house, and at all hours of the night, finally made the decision to move my Mom into an Assisted Living Facility. Our original plan was to move both of them into this one place we had already picked out, but my Dad decided that he wanted to stay at their house and just move my Mom. It was one of the hardest things we, as a family, and I, as an individual, have EVER had to do. Of course, all of us had assumed that once the "burden" of my Mom was off of my Dad's shoulders, he would regain his former life and continue on in freedom. However, this was NOT the case at all. My Dad became almost reclusive, drinking to drown the sorrow over the loss of the life he once shared with my Mom. It was something none of us saw coming, and we began the process of talking about selling the house and moving him elsewhere. He has always wanted to go to this one retirement community which is an excellent place for active seniors, but my Mom never wanted to go. I am thankful that I can say that we have SOLD his house and he will be going to that retirement community in January!

March brought on another problem my Hubby and I were dealing with, and that was Pal. His inability to pay attention or control his impulses had reached a boiling point at school, and he was ending up in trouble with the Principal, a LOT. Our suspicions had been suspicions long enough, and with the encouragement of Pal's teacher and lots of "discussions" between Hubby and I, we decided to have him evaluated by a team of professionals. Of course, we were not surprised in the least to have them tell us that he was "classic case" ADHD. He is not hyperactive, and there are other signs and symptoms of ADHD that he does NOT display, but the impulse control (or lack thereof) and inability to pay attention were the symptoms he displayed greatly. I felt so scared, but reassured that we were not crazy, and Pal's problems were not due to bad parenting or lack of discipline. Funny, how your own words can come back to bite you -- I had said many, many times previous to having my own child that I thought ADHD was a copout for those parents who didn't discipline their kids!!! Open mouth, insert foot. Thankfully, since he was diagnosed and put on a very low dose of medicine, his behavior at school and his grades are definitely MUCH better! He even commented to me yesterday that "he is so glad that the medicine helps him to act better because he hasn't been to the Principal's office once this whole year!". Thank God for small favors!!!

In April my father-in-law had a knee replacement surgery and everything went really well. That was until they looked at some blood-test results and his Ph levels were sky high. He ended up needing a transfusion in the hospital, and they sent him for a bone-marrow test. It turns out that he has leukemia. CML to be exact - Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. It is highly treatable and is not fatal, but it does explain the chronic fatigue he suffers from, as well as some other minor complications. He has been taking an oral chemo drug for 6 months and his Ph levels have evened out. He still has bad days but overall is feeling well.

May was fairly uneventful, with the exception of Pal's allergies. This poor kid looked like someone punched him repeatedly in the eyes! They were so swollen, and we were back and forth to the Pedi several times before they found a medication that worked. Another major event in our life was that Hubby went back to being self-employed. This was what he has wanted for a long time and now that I carry our health insurance it was the perfect time.

June brought dental problems for me, a nasty fall for a close friend of mine in which she was hospitalized and in rehab for almost a month. She ended up with the same injury as Christopher Reeve, except she didn't sever her spinal chord. Then the Assisted Living Facility (ALF) where my Mom was called us and said she needed to go to the hospital Psych ward and be evaluated because they "just can't handle her". Basically what was happening was she needed to use the bathroom (urgently most times) and because of her Alzheimer's she couldn't find the bathroom and would end up having an accident on the floor. And it was usually in someone else's room, or in the director's office. It was obviously embarrassing for my Mom, who was always an extremely proud and independent person, and she began refusing their help. She wouldn't allow them to help her clean herself, and she wouldn't allow them to put a "Depends" on her either. In my opinion, and hindsight, this was mainly because they just didn't WANT to deal with her. She was evaluated and in the Psych ward for 2 weeks, where they had her on a toilet schedule and she was allowing them to help her with her hygiene. As soon as she went back to the ALF, the same behavior started (and they didn't stick to the toilet schedule, either!).

In July, we got another phone call that my Mom had fallen and they sent her back to the hospital; our opinion is that she had not fallen, but they were shorthanded and didn't have the staff to deal with her. In all of this, we were adjusting her medications to see if that would help. When she went back to the ALF, the dosages they had her on made her catatonic and very lethargic. Funnily enough we stopped receiving complaint calls from the ALF while she was so doped up.

July also brought about my niece K's surgery, which I posted about a few times. This was an extremely stressful time for my sister, and obviously our whole family. K came through the operation fine, but hit a few bumps on the road to recovery and didn't end up going back to college like she had planned. Her healing has taken much longer than she expected and because she is such a "go-getter" she has had a hard time adjusting to a slower pace. Right now, she is improving every day and is hoping to return to college in January.

August. This was our emotional roller-coaster month. My Mother-in-law was laid off from her job of 10 years and this was especially hard on her, mostly because it bruised her ego a bit. I don't mean to imply that she has an ego, but that getting laid off was a tough pill to swallow for her.

On August 5th, my Dad and I went to my Mom's ALF for her 6-month evaluation. The director sat with us and told us that although my Mom gets agitated, they can handle whatever she throws at them. She reassured us, several times, that my Mom's behavior was 100% normal and typical of someone with Alzheimer's. We left there feeling pretty good about where Mom was. Then the end of the month rolls around and we get a call that they were sending her back to the hospital because they had seen blood in her stool. We knew this already, because it had been discovered previously that she was severely anemic and her doctor felt that she was most likely bleeding internally. Because my Mom would refuse most tests needed to determine where the bleeding was coming from, the doctor put her on iron pills and told us to consider a colonoscopy. My Mom would never, ever, have agreed to a colonoscopy in her RIGHT mind, so we said no.

Well, when the ALF sent her back to the hospital this time, the doctors at the hospital agreed to keep her in the hospital to do the colonoscopy, and that we should find out what was wrong with Mom for our own health history, if nothing else. My sister, C, had a very hard time making this decision but we all reassured her it was the right thing to do. They prepped her for 2 days before and did the colonoscopy on Tuesday. The preliminary results came back the next day: huge, bleeding polyp, most likely malignant. Colon cancer. Wow. I hadn't even given cancer a second thought, but with our recent family issues with colons, I shouldn't be surprised. The doctor told us that my Mom has probably had this for some time, and she could live a long time with it. It was, however, inoperable. She was released back to the ALF and we contemplated what to do about this new diagnosis.
This was now the end of August. The ALF called me to complain that nobody had notified them of my Mom's return and they were not prepared to care for her, so we would have to hire a 24-hour assistant for her. HUH? Isn't that what we are paying YOU for??? Someone even mentioned to my sister that we should probably start looking for another "place" for my Mom, because they were just unable to care for her there. This threw us into a tizzy, because most places have waiting lists. My sister and I went to a few different ALF's but didn't find one that seemed capable of handling my Mom. We finally found a Nursing Home (NH) that had a bed available, and my sister's sister-in-law was also a nurse at this NH. They took her with no questions asked, and we could not have been more grateful to get my Mom out of that godforsaken ALF.

September has arrived at this point, and Mom settled in nicely at the new NH. School has begun, I am back to work, and things are actually calm for once.

October, though, brought us to the death of a close family friend. You can read my full post dedication to Mrs. D. in August of this year.
Another friend formerly of our campground also passed away, 7 weeks to the day of being diagnosed with cancer.
Toward the end of the month, Hubby's Nana, who turned 90 in September, took a turn for the worse. We had a family trip to Disney planned and were obviously worried about Nana. All we could do was pray that the two didn't interfere. I know it's not nice to think about someone's death affecting your vacation, but let's be serious and think of all the money that would be lost - there were 13 of us going on this trip.

Sadly, Nana passed away on November 1. We buried her 2 days before our big trip. (Thanks, Nana!!) The Disney trip was definitely the highlight of our year. Of course, there are always highlights to go with the lowlights in life, but unfortunately it seems like we can only remember the low.

As we enter into this Christmas season, I know it will be difficult not having my Mom by our side during our annual traditions. But I rest easy knowing she is safe, cared for, and comfortable where she is. I visited her today and will say a prayer for her on Christmas. I will miss her deeply, too.

I can only hope that happier times are ahead for my family. The end of December 2008will bring about a lot of change for my Dad as he prepares to move out of the house he's lived in for 46 years. My prayer, and I hope you all will join me in praying for this: 2009 will begin a fresh start to those who need it, and a new outlook on life for my Dad.

I'm sorry for the Bah-Humbug post! I really do wish all of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and Happy New Year.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thirteen Years

Today marks 13 years of marriage for Hubby and I! Lucky #13. He was born on the 13th, so I don't feel like the number 13 means anything bad.

I just have to say that I love being married. And I love being married to HIM. (Most of the time, anyway!!!) I love coming home, knowing he'll be there with his quirky (read: dorky) greetings. I love it when he winks at me across a room and I know that he's saying "I love you". I love that he's such a good guy, like when he tells me that he helped an elderly woman to her car because it was icy. I love the feeling I get deep in my chest when he gives me a hug. I love that he can still make me laugh. I love it when he quotes movies and I don't know it, and I happen to see the movie years later and realize that's where the saying comes from! ("Hello, Willard!"). I love how he takes care of his parents. I love how he wants to do things with Pal, even though Pal doesn't always cooperate. I love that he loves me even though I've changed (read: gotten fat!) over the years. I love that he is a hard worker and is good at what he does. I love that he is a terrific budget-handler, because I'm not! I love that he enjoys hanging out with my family, too.

I could go on and on. He may wish I did! But all I really want him to know is that thirteen years later, I'd do it all over again as long as it's with him.

I love you, honey, Happy 13th Anniversary.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The End of an Era

This is the house I grew up in. This is where my Dad still lives, for now. We have just put it on the market, which I am totally fine with. Or was, until I drove by and saw the "For Sale" sign in the front yard. I actually broke down and cried, almost having to pull over because I couldn't see through my tears. Seeing that sign meant the end of an era in my life - this house represents so much of me, the me that made me who I am today. It is the place where I was born, the place I laughed in, loved in, fought in, cried in, puked in, played in, swam in the pool, sang in, opened birthday and Christmas gifts in, posed for countless pictures in, healed a broken heart in, enjoyed family get togethers in, I could go on for hours....

I am usually the strong one in my family, out of the girls anyway. I try to use logic over emotion whenever possible. I think I must have learned that from my husband, because I used to be more emotional than I am now. So I was surprised by my immediate reaction to seeing the For Sale sign.

Last week we had to finish cleaning out the house so it could be shown, and I found my dolls that I used to play with. I couldn't bring myself to throw them away, even though they look like they were in a dirty basement for 25+ years (they were technically on the front porch in a rubbermaid bucket, but the result was the same!). Seeing those dolls, remembering the hours and hours I played with them in that house, brought on such a strong feeling of nostalgia, making me wish that life was still as simple as it was for me when I was living there, playing with my dolls, eating dinner at 5:10 p.m. (on the dot, after Dad got home from work) sitting across from my sisters and brother and Mom and Dad. I knew I was loved, protected and safe. There were no bills to worry about paying, no sick parents to worry about, etc. It brought about the realization that I am officially a "grown up", with my own house, my own family, creating new memories for my son. I am still loved, protected and safe, and my husband is the one who worries about paying the bills, but it's just different.

It's a hard thing to face - I still want to be the little sister who everyone watches opening up Christmas presents, and I want to be that little girl who used to climb up on my Dad's lap and hear him tell everyone that I'm his "baby". I am still the baby of the family and that will never change, but my role has changed significantly. And that is because of the years I spent growing, learning and watching my family as we lived together in this house, our home. But the one realization that is most important is that it was not the house that made me who I am, but those who lived in the house with me. I am who I am, because of them.

So, pray for a quick sale...and most of all have a wonderful, Happy Thanksgiving. I know I have a lot to be thankful for.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

We're Off To See The....Mouse!

No wizards for us - we're Mouse fans!

Tomorrow we are headed to Florida for the family trip with Hubby's side. This is an Anniversary celebration trip for Hubby's parents who were married 40 years in June. We didn't go in June because it would've been too hot for my in-law's. Or rather, too hot for me!!! I hate the heat, so why would I leave New England to go to Florida where it's even HOTTER??? 13 of the 15 immediate family are traveling together, so this should be interesting!

This will be Pal's 5th trip to WDW (I know, spoiled brat!). I lost count of how many times I've been there...I know it's over 10 at this point, and that's only since 1990.

My first trip was with my brother and his (then girlfriend) wife, and my (at the time) boyfriend. It was a great time because I was experiencing Disney for the first time, but I should've left the at-the-time-boyfriend at home!!!

After that trip I broke up with the boyfriend. On my husband's birthday. Ironic?

I continued my newfound obsession with Disney by going with my new boyfriend, now Hubby, along with his sister and her (then) boyfriend, now husband. Hubby and bro-in-law would drive his Grandparent's car down to Florida for them so they could fly down, and then his sister and I would fly down with them and we would take our vacation from there. A couple of times we went to Disney, but a couple of other times we went on a cruise and to Marco Island. Those were the greatest times - no kids, no marriage, no worries! Hubby and I refer to those times as "Glory Days".

I also went in 1997 with Hubby's sister, and we rented a convertible sports car! We thought we were hot sh*t!!! We did everything from Busch Gardens to Disney to visiting the Grandparents and some other retired people we knew down there. It was an awesome trip.

Today marks the 10 year Anniversary of my Disney trip with my siblings. We went for 5 days and had a lot of laughs (and a few fights). We still giggle every time we mention certain things about our trip like "Who's that lady?"; "Disney is obsessed with water!!!"; "our brother's clipboard"; "I don't have a mug. Still."

We started taking Pal when he was 2. It was right after 9/11 so there were no crowds. He was in awe of all the activity and we loved watching him. He loved the Playhouse Disney show, until Winnie the Pooh and Friends came on...he turned to me with his nose all scrunched up and said "Can I play with my trucks now?"!!! Too funny, he never did like Pooh. Poor Pooh.

We went back with Pal when he was 4, with my in-law's. They had taken the other 2 grandsons when they were each 4, but we weren't comfortable with them taking Pal by themselves...he would be too much for them to handle. Well, that turned out to be the best decision we ever made, because Papa had a heart-attack about 2 hours after we landed. Luckily, we were with Hubby's cousin who lives down there (and happens to work for Disney!), so she knew the closest hospital and we got him there within minutes of the first chest pains. Thank God he was okay, it was so scary. Papa never did make it to any of the Parks. Then, in the same trip, Pal got bronchitis and we spent 7 hours at the ER with him, and I came down with the stomach bug and missed an entire day at the parks. I was too busy "riding the porcelain bus". Sorry, there's the poop talk again.....

After the previous trip from hell, and after Papa recovered nicely from his heart attack, we decided to give it a go one more time. This time we invited my oldest sister who loves Disney, and hadn't been since our siblings trip in '98. So, it was Hubby, Pal and I, my sister and my in-law's. We had a fabulous time, and Papa even surprised my sister by telling the waitress at "Whispering Canyon Cafe" (an oxymoron) that it was her birthday - they put a brown paper bag over her head because she was so mortified, and the entire restaurant sang Happy Birthday to her!! We laughed so hard because she was so embarrassed. Good times.

And then last year, Hubby kept bugging me to take Pal again, and I kept saying no...until I caved of course. So in 5 weeks time we booked, planned and executed our 4th trip without Pal knowing...We showed up at his school on the last day, dismissed him early and drove straight to the airport - he had NO idea before hand! The look of shock on his face was priceless - it was an awesome moment.

So now here we are at Pal's 5th trip to Disney. He will have his 4 cousins from Hubby's side to play with: 2 older and 2 younger. I'm sure we will take lots of pictures of all 5 boys and I will post one when I get back. My in-law's are excited to travel with (most of) their family. Now all I have to do is survive (most of) their family!!!! Just kidding. Really.

I'll say hi to Mickey Mouse and friends for you all!


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Finding Family

I have many Aunts, Uncles and cousins on both sides of my family, but rarely get to see most of them. Typically we are like most families: when someone dies we see everyone at the wake or funeral. My Father's side of the family is not as close as my Mother's side of the family. I only have 1 Aunt left on my Mom's side; her 2 oldest sisters and only brother have passed away, but we don't even get to see their families because they are spread around the country. My Aunt that is living lives in the same city I grew up in, and we get together at Christmas every year. I do see those cousins more often than any other family now. When I was younger, Mom's family used to have an annual BBQ and we used to sing songs and have a great time together. Those memories are among my fondest of my Mom's family.

Like I said, my Dad's family is not as close. For some strange reason, my Dad and his 2 brothers (who all lived in the same city until 3 years ago when the youngest moved across the country) were never that close. His only sister moved away 40 years ago and they've only been to visit a handful of times. Until a couple of years ago, I barely even knew that her family existed - an entire family full of first cousins I had never met. At least with my Mom's family I had MET my entire clan of cousins!

After my Dad had gone to Arizona to visit his sister for her 70th birthday, he gave me an email address for one of her sons, my first cousin whom I had never met. So, I sent him a "Hi, My Name Is" message and we started getting to know each other through email. It turned out that I was going to a conference in his hometown that coming June, at his own Church! So we met for the first time at the Church and I even went out to dinner with him and his sister (whom I had met briefly when I was young). On the next 2 return trips to the yearly conference, we met up again and it was so great to get to know this family who I had never known. They even got their entire extended family together for a BBQ in my honor. It almost made me sad, that I was robbed of the years that I could have known this part of my immediate family.

About 5 years ago, my cousin talked his youngest brother (who wasn't even born until after they had moved away from this area) into tagging along on a visit that their Mom was making to see our family. We happened to have a graduation party scheduled that same weekend so we incorporated their visit into the party and it was like a mini-reunion. I know my Aunt has found great pleasure in knowing that her kids and her extended family from "back home" have come to know each other.

In keeping with my theme of reuniting family that I never knew, I was on FaceBook (my latest and greatest addiction!) and found a man with the same last name as my family name, so I sent him an email through Facebook, asking him if he was related. Gutsy, I know! But he responded quickly and it turned out he IS related - he is my Father's first cousin! My Grandfather and his Father were brothers. It's funny, because he is the same age as my sisters, and has a couple of brothers and a sister. My Dad and his Uncle were having children at the same time! So, here we are again, back in that "getting to know you" stage with family I should have already known. I am hoping to arrange some sort of family reunion of ALL portions of my Dad's family eventually.

And then, there are those family members you wish you'd never met.....but that's a WHOLE other post.

Have a great weekend,

Sunday, October 19, 2008

But I'm NOT Bitter. Really!

So every year, Hubby goes on a "guys trip" with my brother and his friend. They've gone to all different places: Florida, Vegas, Florida, Arizona, Florida...see the pattern? Their denial that they just want to go to Disney World without their children manifests itself with the statement "But we go with them, too....". My husband has even been known to mutter "Disney is no place for kids." This makes me laugh every time I am in Disney World and see parents of miserable children trying to assuage their overtired, spoiled kids with a Mickey Mouse shaped iced cream...OH WAIT, that was ME. Last year! And the year before that, and the year before that!!! Just kidding...it was a bag of popcorn...

But seriously, all kidding aside, I don't really care where Hubby and my brother and their friend go on their trip. I think it's great that they get a chance to get away and just be, well, guys. I think it helps them appreciate what they have at home a little more. This morning Hubby called to say hi and said he was ready to come home. I asked if it was because he was sick of my brother and his friend. His reply was "No, I just miss you and Pal." It was nice to hear that.

Although I have enjoyed my weekend too, I missed having our family unit together. Pal and I went out with my mother-in-law on Friday night, and on Saturday my brother's wife (a.k.a. My Fave Sis-in-law, D!) and I took our 3 kids to the movies and out to lunch - here they are at the restaurant:

After the movies, we were on the way home and Pal asked if he could have his Best Buddy over for a sleepover. I waivered between wanting to have a quiet night alone, and giving in to Pal because he's an only child and I have guilt for that (I lied down until that feeling went away again!!) So in true Mom fashion, the guilt won and we picked up Best Buddy on our way home. This was both Pal and Best Buddy's FIRST EVER "friend" sleepover! It went very well, they went to sleep about 10:45 and slept until 7:30 this morning. Can't complain for a first time deal!! Today Pal's Cub Scout group went to the Harvard Museum of Natural History for their geology requirement. Our requirement was getting in for free before 12 p.m.!! And lunch in Harvard Square of course.

So it was a crazy busy weekend, and the main thing I missed was having Hubby on laundry-duty!!! But now it's Sunday night and the laundry is almost done, Pal has taken a shower, the Red Sox are about to play Game 7 of the ALCS, Hubby comes home tomorrow and I am sitting in my recliner blogging for the first time in a week. Life is good.

Before I sign off, I'd like to ask that you keep Hubby's Nana in your prayers - she's 90 and was just admitted to the ICU. After losing Mrs. D last week I'm not sure Hubby will handle this news too well...thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

Have a great week!


Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Birthday, Hubby!

Today is Hubby's 38th birthday. I tease him because he is 3 months older than me, and I won't be 38 until it is already 2009. I love to rub that in.

Hubby and I have known each other since approximately 1983/84. Our mutual friend, T, (who is also the son of Mrs. D who I have been writing about) went to school with Hubby, but lived near me. Hubby would come over to T's house after school and we would all hang out together. Of course when you are 13 you have NO clue that you just met the man you will someday marry, but one thing I did know for sure back then was that I really, really liked who Hubby was (and still is). If it weren't for Hubby's knack for keeping in touch with people, we probably would have lost touch during those years that we weren't hanging out. But every so often I would get a phone call from him, just to say hi, or a visit to where I worked. But it was a terrible accident that brought us together once and for all, and that was when our mutual friend, T, who is now our brother-in-law because he married Hubby's sister, D, (I know, it's get really confusing and almost seems incestuous!), got hurt in a floor hockey scuffle. T was pushed to the floor of the hockey rink and the bones in his forehead were broken. He was hospitalized and needed surgery to repair the broken bones. It was during our visits to T that Hubby and I reconnected. At first we were just friends and enjoyed hanging out together again. But then it bloomed into love and there was nothing better than marrying your best friend. We will be married 13 years this coming December.

But more about Hubby - I meant what I said above about liking who he is. We can still laugh and have a good time. He makes me laugh with his goofy nature even though I tell him he's a dork/freak/fruitcake. He's a great Dad to Pal, even though I'm not sure Pal appreciates him just yet. But what kid does, right?

Hubby is a terrific husband, friend, brother, son, son-in-law, co-worker, boss, teacher, Scout, electrician, Christian, citizen, American. All around he is just a nice guy. He likes to think that he's tough and sometimes comes off as shy or cold. The man I love is nothing but a mushy teddy bear inside.

Happy Birthday, Hubby, I love you with all my heart. Love, GM

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

'Til we meet again, Mrs. D.

My post in September titled "A privilege we don't often get" was about the opportunity to say goodbye to someone before they die. I got that privilege when Mrs. D's family held a "Celebration of Life" party while she was still capable of receiving visitors, and it was such a nice thing that she got to enjoy her own "wake" of sorts. Tonight, Mrs. D lost her battle with cancer.

I am so sad, more so because my nephews, her two youngest Grandsons, probably won't remember her too well....they are only 3 and 4. I was one of those kids who grew up without Grandparents and I know what I missed. Mrs. D loved her family, and her Grandkids were definitely her pride and joy. Her whole house is decorated with picture after picture of all 5 of them. She also loved her God, and now is resting comfortably in His arms. I'm sure of it.

The next few days are sure to be filled with a lot of emotions, so please keep Mrs. D and all that loved her in your thoughts and prayers.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Brooke Shields is an idiot. Period.

This morning I was driving to work and had the radio on. There was a commercial that starts with Brooke Shields saying "Our nation is facing a serious crisis." My ears perked up, thinking she was going to address one of the MANY serious crisis' facing our nation. No. Her next statement was something like, "People are having babies so they can drive the new Volkswagon Routan."

Seriously, can someone slap her?

With all the serious situations going on in our country, i.e. the stock market, the crappy choices for President, global warming, people really having babies when they shouldn't, etc. etc. etc....Brooke Shields chose to be a spokesperson for a new minivan???? She needs a hobby. Or a job. She is an idiot.

Enough ranting for today.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Memory Walk 2008

Here are some pics of the kids at the Alzheimer's Memory Walk 2008. It was raining the whole time and stopped right after we crossed the finish line! All in all it was a success, we had 21 people walk for our team, and my niece K made shirts for everyone that said "Memory Keepers" on the front (our team name), and on the back it said one of 3 things: Mom, Nana or Dotty with "08" underneath. They were very cool (see them on the kids in the pics.) My feet are killing me and I have 3 blisters, but the walk was good. Now, let's hope this money means we are closer to a CURE. Because I do NOT want to have Alzheimer's Disease. Ever. And I do not want anyone else that I know and love to suffer this way.

Here is a picture of my Mom with Pal and my niece, A in 2007 at their First Communion. This is one of my favorites (notice Pal holding Mom's arm...so cute.)

Thanks for everyone's support for this walk and of my family. Please keep us in your prayers.


Friday, September 26, 2008

A Banner Day

From what Pal said, the first trombone lesson went well! Of course, he thinks that he should have been able to play a full song after his first real lesson....he is quite challenged in the patience department! So this will be a lesson in patience for all of us....

Another big happening around here today was Pal had his first ice skating lesson. We tried this back when he was 3 and it didn't go over too well, so tonight I was apprehensive about the lessons because I knew the class would consist of mostly 3-year-olds. And I was right. Fortunately, though, the instructors (and there were plenty of them) stuck right with him and he actually did really well! Again, the patience was a factor....he thought that because he could walk on the floor in the skates, he was going to walk right out onto the ice! His first fall wasn't until the instructor told him to sit down on the ice for a minute, and he looked around himself like "How am I going to get DOWN there?" and then he fell forward and sat. Whatever works, right??? He did fall a few more times, but all in all for a first time on skates, he did great. Ray Bourque watch out!

Not to mention that he did this skating lesson less than an hour after having 2 more teeth pulled! His mouth was still bloody - that's how soon after it was. I was impressed at his resilience.

Added to the trombone lesson, the skating lesson, the teeth extractions - Pal made it through the school day (especially a Friday) without getting a punishment essay!!! Yay for a homework free weekend!!!

A banner day, for sure. I'd love to have many more of these to come!!!

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, September 25, 2008

"76 Trombones In The Big Parade"

Today, Pal got on the bus with his huge Trombone in his hand. I should have taken a picture of it, it was so funny. The case is almost as big as him! The night I went to buy the trombone, you should have seen the box that the case and trombone came in - I almost couldn't carry it, so one of the high school band members had to carry it out to my car! Of course, I was still having trouble breathing after seeing the price of said trombone!! They don't call them "wind" instruments for nothing - it knocked the wind right outta me!!!!

So, off he went with his newfound interest this morning. We'll see (after school) how his first real lesson went. Last week, I hadn't gotten the information and we didn't know he had to bring his trombone to school, so his first official lesson consisted of watching the other kids. But as soon as he got home, he opened up the case (he had been forbidden to even open it - by the music teacher, not us) and started making noise! He loves to assemble it, play it once or twice, polish it, disassemble it, put it back in the case...wait 20 minutes....then repeat the process all over again! He is already able to make some loud sounds with it, so I am hoping that he learns how to play it and comes to love it.

I wish I had learned how to play an instrument as a kid, and that doesn't include my sister's electric organ!!! It had numbered keys instead of chords, so instead of knowing how to play "Silent Night" by key chords, all I know is 5-6-5-3, 5-6-5-3, 9-9-7, 8-8-5, 6-6-8-7-6-5-6-5-3, etc.!!! Although I can play a little piano by ear, but that's about it.

Keep your fingers crossed (and your ears protected) as we go through our first foray into the wonderful world of music! Who knows, maybe someday he'll be playing the trombone for his college football team! One can only hope....

((((****Side Note - Punishment Essay Count: 4****)))) Will he ever learn????


Monday, September 22, 2008

Hello? Is this thing on?

Did I scare everyone with my poop-fest? I apologize. It was not in good taste but hey, it was what was going on in my life at that moment. And I was bored at work.

This weekend we closed up our camper for the last time -- we are getting rid of it and hopefully getting a new one for next year. We had to completely clean out the camper, after 15 seasons of camping in it, and it was like moving!!! There was so much stuff to go through and get rid of (which I love to do!! It's a sickness, I know). But we had to pack all of our stuff in boxes and move it up to my sister-in-law's camper to store for the winter. The owner of the campground wanted us to do this now so that he can haul the camper off of the site and do some repair work to the hill in front of our camper. It has been eroding for years and now the pipes are exposed. I am hoping that he actually DOES the job before next season...he has a tendency to promise things and then not follow through. I hate that. It would really suck if we buy a new camper and then can't have it delivered because the site is not ready.

Now it's Monday and I'm home with Pal because he caught my cold. I was miserable on Friday and Pal woke up yesterday with a cough, and this morning he felt warm so we decided not to send him to school. This gives me a chance to get myself 100% better and get some stuff put away from the weekend.

So, please continue to read my blog - I promise not to post about poop again. For a while at least.

Happy Monday!


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Update on Poop Fest

Good news - there was just a blockage in the pipe and the "Septic Guy" was able to snake it out. Now we get to fill it all back in.....

Everybody Poops...

I feel like all I do is talk about poop. And I don't mean bull-poop. I mean bodily function - people and animal - POOP.

When I worked in Boston, I used to take the bus to the train station and there was this couple that rode the bus with their little daughter. They would read to her on the bus, out loud, every day. One day, they were reading "Everyone Poops". It made me laugh out loud! There is even a girl poop book and a boy poop book!

Even Oprah isn't immune to talking about it with Dr. Oz on her show. According to Dr. Oz, your poop should be slightly green in color and S shaped. Go ahead, everyone looks. Oprah says that every time she gets nervous about interviewing someone, she just remembers to herself that everybody poops!

Lately, in my life, it has been talking about my niece, K, and her Ulcerative Colitis and her having surgery to remove her colon (if you want the gory details, her very descriptive blog is listed in my "Blogs I Like" section!!!). Then my Mom was diagnosed with colon cancer, and we were talking about her poop and her lifelong battle with poop-related issues. My sisters and I have talked about poop at length when discussing the need to have a colonoscopy.

My nephew has just recently become totally potty-trained, and we discussed his poop habits at length several times with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law! Of course, then I live with hubby and Pal and they think poop is a dinner-time subject. Then my father-in-law likes to regale us with the dog's poop-of-the-day! I can't get away from it! Another poop-related blog you should check out is Manic Mommy (on my list of "Blogs I Like") and read HER recent issues with poop! Now THAT is so gross I could throw up just thinking about it.

And last, but certainly not the least, is what happened yesterday....during dinner my mother-in-law told us that we might need to call a "Septic Guy" because they've been hearing gurgling noises from the toilet and shower whenever we do laundry. When she went to take a shower yesterday morning, there was a "brown liquid" in the bottom of her shower stall....NOT a good sign, no, not at all....hubby called the "Septic Guy" and he told us to dig up the septic tank!!! Well, not the whole thing, but the top of it where the caps are, so we can look in and see if it's full. EWWWWWW.
He also wants to know when the last time it was pumped, and I luckily remembered seeing a receipt from the previous owner for a pump-out in '02. I dug that out, and also found the plot plan for our house (which we have owned for 3 years) and on the back of the plans were EXACT DIRECTIONS to the location of said septic tank caps!

God Bless You, previous homeowner!!! We love you, buddy, wherever you live now!!

After about an hour of digging, hubby unearthed the caps and opened them, much to Pal's delight. EWWWWWW. Pal runs into the house and says "Daddy told me to shut the door because the smell is really bad." This is not a good sign. When I asked him if he looked in the tank he said "Yeah, it was all muddy and wet". EWWWWWW.

Today Mr. Septic was coming to see for himself whether the sucker is full. It's a sh*tty job, but someone's got to do it!!!! Glad I'm not doing HIS laundry, gurgling noises included!

I'll let you know how my poop-fest turns out, possibly tomorrow.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We're On The Move

My family and I are walking in the Memory Walk 2008 in honor of my Mom. Our team name is "The Memory Keepers". If anybody is interested in donating to our team effort, please let me know!!!



Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Good Start to 4th Grade

First, I just want to say that Pal DID go to N.H. with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law last Friday!!! Yay for us! He had a great time and so did we!!!! We had dinner out Friday night, and I slept in Saturday morning (not hubby - he's too busy to sleep!). We enjoyed reminiscing about the days when it was just the 2 of us, and we didn't live in a house with his parents. It's not that we don't appreciate what we have now, but it's fun to go back to the "glory days" once in a while!!! I love my son and my in-law's, but it was a nice break.

So tonight was the Open House at Pal's new school. In our town, the public school kids switch schools 5 times from Kindergarten through 12th grade. So Pal started at the "Intermediate" school (4th and 5th grade) this year. His 3rd grade teacher had a hand in picking his 4th grade teacher, which I was very glad about. Pal has some behavioral issues and he needs someone who will keep him in line. Since his 3rd grade teacher was excellent with him (tough, but kind), I had the utmost faith that she would pick someone just like herself.

When we got to the open house, my hubby was wearing a BC Hockey shirt and the first thing the new teacher said to him was "Nice shirt". It turns out she went to BC! She started out the meeting (all parents, no kids) immediately making everyone laugh, and I could easily see why Pal comes home every day with funny stories and excited about the things he is learning. This.is.a.first.for.us!!! Not once in the 5 years he's been in school (pre-k til now) has he ever come home excited about school. He almost doesn't mind doing the homework, either. His 3rd grade teacher gave a ton of homework, and so far the 4th grade teacher seems a little more relaxed in the homework arena. However, in her words, "the world had better open up and swallow you whole if you don't DO the homework". The first time you don't have your homework, you get a 125-word composition on responsibility. The second offense, a 250-word composition. And the third offense (which she claims no one has ever been stupid enough to get!) is a 500-word composition!!! Yikes!!

So of course, you know that Pal has already written a 125-word composition.

And a 150-word composition on paying attention to directions. On a Friday. Which meant weekend homework. The worst!!! Hopefully, we will not break her 500-word stupidity theory......
With any luck, he has learned not to mess with her. All in all, the fact that he is liking school right now is a good enough start for us. Let's hope that it continues.

On a side note - Pal had 2 teeth pulled today, and is having 2 more pulled next Monday. He handled it like a champ, and has NO idea they used a needle for the novacaine!!!! Some things are better off left unsaid!

Have a great night!


Friday, September 12, 2008

Just the Two of Us???

Pal might be heading up to N.H. with my sister-in-law and her family, and we'll meet them up there tomorrow after a friend's housewarming party. My in-law's are also on a cruise, so there is a distinct possibility that hubby and I will have the entire house to ourselves....could it be true? Is it possible? I really could not tell you the last time that Pal was not with us - he doesn't get many invitations to sleep out, and I am not a big fan of sleepovers anyway. Mainly because we are the ones who suffer the consequences of the lack of sleep!!

That's IF Pal really goes...he usually has an anxiety attack at the last minute and backs out. The only thing that might work in our favor is that he wants to go up to N.H. (to our campground) because it is "Halloween" and they get to carve pumpkins, go trick-or-treating and then there is a "spook ride" later tomorrow night. Hubby took him last night to get some costume accessories, and he was talking this morning about getting all the candy (which he doesn't even eat half the time!).

Dare I wish? Dare I hope? Dinner out alone? A morning to sleep in...undisturbed??? Other than the dog, that is, but he will sleep late if we do!

Keeping my fingers crossed until Pal gets in their van and they drive away!!!


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where Were You?

There's an Alan Jackson song called "Where Were You?". It's all about remembering the events of 9/11. Today being the 7th anniversary of that horrible September day, it seems like everyone uses this opportunity to remember exactly where they were 7 years ago today. At work today we all swapped stories. Then I ran into a friend whose husband is a Fire Fighter (FF) and she said he was out at a 9/11 ceremony. My brother, who is also a FF, was my first thought this morning when I realized it was 9/11. My brother-in-law, another FF, sent me an email asking me to "never forget" with a picture of the FDNY carrying the American flag in a St. Patrick's Day parade.

As for my "Where Were You?" moment, my friend Pat's father had passed away and his funeral was that morning. I was in my room, drying my hair, when Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America announced that something had crashed into one of the twin towers. They went live to the scene, and that's when my phone rang. It was my Dad, asking if I had my TV on, and while I was answering him - the second plane crashed into the towers. My Dad screamed "OH! Oh my God, that was another plane!" I felt this sense of dread in my legs and sat stunned as I watched it unfold. Obviously I had to go to the funeral, so I brought Pal (who had just turned 2 and was happily oblivious) downstairs for my father-in-law to babysit. The funeral went on as usual, because we really didn't know anything other than that planes had crashed into the towers. We still knew nothing about the Pentagon and Pennsylvania planes. Our cell phones were dead, and traffic going over to the cemetary was insane, probably because everyone was going home.

I just remember being home that night, watching the news with hubby and feeling vulnerable and scared. And because at that time I was a full time SAHM, I was watching way too much of the coverage on TV. I prayed a LOT during that time.

We found out the next day that we knew someone who was on the flight that crashed into the first tower. He used to be the organist for our Church choir (which most of my family was in.) He left behind a wife and 5 year old son. It really hit home.

Ever since 9/11, my hubby repeatedly says things like "Life is too short", and "We could be gone tomorrow" and our vow since then has been to live life to the fullest, take vacations and enjoy our family and friends as much as we can.

These are the lyrics to the song I mentioned above. Read them, and never forget where you were on that September day.

"Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)"

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day
Out in the yard with your wife and children
Working on some stage in LA
Did you stand there in shock at the site of
That black smoke rising against that blue sky
Did you shout out in anger
In fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cry

Did you weep for the children
Who lost their dear loved ones
And pray for the ones who don't know
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below

Did you burst out in pride
For the red white and blue
The heroes who died just doing what they do
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself to what really matters

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things he gave us
And the greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day
Teaching a class full of innocent children
Driving down some cold interstate
Did you feel guilty cause you're a survivor
In a crowded room did you feel alone
Did you call up your mother and tell her you love her
Did you dust off that bible at home
Did you open your eyes and hope it never happened
Close your eyes and not go to sleep
Did you notice the sunset the first time in ages
Speak with some stranger on the street
Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow
Go out and buy you a gun
Did you turn off that violent old movie you're watching
And turn on "I Love Lucy" reruns
Did you go to a church and hold hands with some stranger
Stand in line and give your own blood
Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family
Thank God you had somebody to love

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things he gave us
And the greatest is love


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Blogs I Heart !

So I just figured out how to add a list of blogs that I like to read and wanted to bring them to your attention. They are over to the right, under the "about me" section. Some are people I know, some are complete strangers from somewhere else in the world. My niece, K, who I've written about here, has started her own blog! She told me that I inspired her to start her own after she'd been reading mine. I even have a brother-in-law who told me that I'm a great writer, because he's been reading it, too! (Hi Uncle Billy!).

The weird thing about blogging is that I find myself quoting things I've read on other people's blogs, or sharing a funny (or sad) story I might have read. There are many more blogs that I've viewed and some I've even left comments on. The list will grow as I come across their blogs once again. It feels a bit stalker-ish, but I am thoroughly enjoying this new world I've discovered.

If you do visit these blogs, do me a favor and leave a comment on theirs. I know that it makes my day when someone leaves their comment here.

Happy new blog reading!


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

I'll warn you up front - this not a post about an ancient wedding tradition.

Something Old:

My Mom has Alzheimer's Disease. This is the "something old" for our family, we've been dealing with this for about 8 years. She was officially diagnosed in September 2005, but we had noticed the signs for many years before this. She would lose her car in the Mall parking lot, forget where she put her pocketbook at family gatherings, lose her cell phone repeatedly. In more recent times, she forgot that her Mother was dead...or even at her sister's own funeral would forget who was in the coffin.

Something New:

They don't call it NEWs for no reason. We found out on Wednesday that Mom has colon cancer. The word cancer itself evokes a nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach. Mom was living in an Alzheimer's unit at an Assisted Living Facility. They were not capable of handling her personality, and recently started sending her off to the hospital for what seemed like stupid reasons. Well, thank God for their persistence, or insistence. The decision to put Mom through a colonoscopy was not an easy one, because we know she would NOT agree to it if she was in her "right mind". But the hospital staff talked us into it and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. At least now we know WHY she has so many problems, and our decision to move her to a Nursing Home was made easier knowing that they will be able to keep her comfortable during this ordeal.

Something Borrowed:

As of right now, we are on borrowed time with my Mom. They cannot operate on the cancerous polyps in her colon because she could hemorrhage and bleed to death. And because they cannot remove the polyps, we don't know exactly what stage she is in. The doctor said it is NOT in the early stages, that's for sure. So, we really have no idea whether Mom will be around for a long time or if she'll go quickly. My faith is in God - He will take her when He is good and ready. In the meantime, we can only make her comfortable and make the most of the time we have left.

Something Blue:

We are all feeling blue about this latest development with Mom....I cannot stop repeating the words "My Mother has cancer" in my head. I wake up in the middle of the night and that's all I can think about. I've always been so thankful that cancer has not touched my immediate family, and now I can't say that anymore. Cancer invades more than just the affected person's body - it affects everyone that loves them, too. I have unfortunately dealt with the loss of many people in my life to cancer, but this is the first time it has felt so heavy...inside. I just have to have faith that God knows what He is doing.

I'll end this post with a line from a song I love:
"To hear with my heart, to see with my soul, to be guided by a hand I cannot hold, to trust in a way that I cannot see, THAT'S what FAITH must be."


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Happy Birthday, Pal.

When you're 9, it's all about the cold, hard cash!!!!

Wow, how time flies. Nine years ago today I was a new Mom. Here I was, holding this little perfect boy, and he was mine. I remember specifically looking at his elbows and saying to my hubby "Look, he has elbows!". (This went on for hours, I was so totally fascinated!).

I won't bore you with the details of his birth or how many hours (19) I was in induced-labor-hell (19). I won't freak you out telling you about the size of my C-section scar, or how I had an imbedded staple in it. Did I NOT mention the (19) hours of labor?

Pal has been a whirlwind of activity since day 1. He screamed all the way home from the hospital, probably because he received his "bris" (except we're not Jewish, if you catch my drift) right before we left the hospital. He hated the car from that moment on, too. I used to dread long rides with him.

Pal has brought us so many fun times as a family and we are so proud of him. Most people who know him well know that he is a sweet, kind, caring little boy who enjoys playing with his cousins, playing with our dog, Rusty, swimming, stuffed animals, Bionicles, lego's and watching his favorite TV shows. I can only hope that he will always know how much his Dad and I love him, and that he will grow up to be a warm, caring, responsible young man.

We love you Pal. Happy 9th. Love, Mama and your Da

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Official "End" of Summer

Seeing that Labor Day is so early this year and the kids are back to school, it feels like Summer is over. Part of me is happy, even though that means I also return to work next week. The weather wasn't even that hot this year, and seeing as I live in New England this is unusual. It was rainy, but that didn't really matter (other than when I was in a pop-up for 3 nights!!!!).

Since Pal is out of school for Friday and Monday, we are going to end the Summer with a couple of trips to local amusements. One is an amusement park, the other a water park. Then we will head to our camper for the remaining part of the Labor Day weekend and spend time with our family and friends who also camp with us.

Then my baby, my only child, will turn 9 on Tuesday!!! 9 years ago I was bringing him home from the hospital on Labor Day. I remember the first car ride, going home with him in the car - we were so nervous and have never driven so cautiously! Pal cried the whole way, and I sat in the back with him. The nice thing was that our families were at the house when we got home and my nieces had hung signs all around our dining room welcoming us home. It was the best Labor Day, ever!

I want to say Happy End of Summer and Happy Labor Day to you all!
See you on Tuesday!


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

School Days

(((Singing))) "It's the most wonderful time of the year!"

4th Grade - HERE HE COMES! I laugh at those Mother's that cry when their kids go off to school on the first day - I was dancin' !!!! Of course, I will only dance until next week when I have to go back to work...

He's also going to turn 9 years old a week from now, and I can't believe it. That means in another 9 years he will be a legal, voting adult! Yikes....can these next 9 go by a little slower than the last 9? Please?

Here are a few pictures from Cub Scout Camp last week:

This was "cooking" class, where they made a campfire out of edible treats.

He's the middle one, getting ready to jump in the lake (first one in, of course!)

Woodworking class, where they built bird-feeders. He looks so professional!

Here is Pal and his best buddy, (the one in the middle). The other Scout is best buddy's OTHER best buddy, hence why best buddy is in the middle!!

Here is the fishing pond picture from this year. I tried to copy last year's pose but didn't quite succeed.

So this about sums it up:
Summer vacation - $500.00. Cub Scout Camp - $140.00. 4th grade - free (to the town's taxpayers). Mom's sanity - priceless!!!


Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Privilege We Don't Often Get

(((Yes, I made it through the week of Cub Scout Camp. I'm here to blog so it couldn't have been that bad - although my back and my legs tell a different story! I will post some cool pics from Camp as soon I can.)))

THIS POST, though, is not about Cub Scout Camp at all. It is about the privilege of saying goodbye to someone before they are gone. As in, gone to the other side. And this woman, she will most definitely be going to Heaven.

Mrs. D is my brother-in-law's Mother. She is also my childhood best friend's Mother. She is also my hubby's best friend's Mother. (The bro-in-law and best friend are all the same person, by the way!!!). She was my neighbor and fellow parishioner at Church all through my childhood. She was there when my heart broke for the first time, when I was left behind for the Prom by a boy who took another girl and didn't tell me. (She accidentally let that cat out of the bag as the others were getting into the limo!) OOPS. Her husband, Mr. D, has been mistaken for being my father, and vice/versa. (We think they might be related somewhere down the French Canadian lines of heritage). She let us "kids" hang around their house when we had nowhere else to go. She made her son (above mentioned friend/bro-in-law) walk me home in the dark even though it was right around the corner. Both my hubby and I were invited to their family gatherings throughout the years, and they were invited to our Wedding and our son's Baptism and First Holy Communion. You could easily say that she is a second Mother to both my husband and myself. Our families are linked in more ways than one, and this pleased her to no end.

Mrs. D has terminal liver and pancreas cancer. She has recently decided not to continue with Chemo treatments. Today, her family held a "Celebration of Life" party at her home where she is resting comfortably. It was a wonderful thing to do - it gave all of us a chance to get together and let her know how much she means to us. And the best part of it all was the atmosphere was a happy one - because she has total, undying faith in her God and Savior, and she knows she is going on to a better place and that one day she will be there to greet us when we (hopefully) meet up in Heaven.

One thing we were asked to do before we left was to write her a message in a journal. It was very hard to do, both because it made me sad but also to try to say goodbye without actually saying it. In the end, it made me feel good and when I left her I was able to tell her I loved her and that was as good a goodbye as any. As my title says, it is a privilege we don't often get. I ended my journal entry with "Til We Meet Again", and I sincerely hope that it comes true.


Monday, August 18, 2008

I'm too tired. Day One.

I feel like I should blog, but darn it - I am just tired.

WHY? Did I hear you ask that? No, I heard it. Subliminally.

You've really asked for it now.

I just spent Day One of Cub Scout Summer Camp with 440 BOYS. Little boys. 12 of them were entrusted to my care. Does anyone out there realize that I have ONE child, and there is a VALID REASON why?!!? Does anyone really give a sh*t?! Nope. It was flippin' hot today, in the sun. In the shade (where we WEREN'T), there was a nice breeze. And the forest, get this, is NOT bug-proof. Go figure. Nature sucks. Oh, I don't really mean that - get over it.

This is my 3rd year of being a "Den Escort" for my son's cub scout den at Camp. I do actually enjoy it for the most part, but it also means a LOT of walking, standing, yelling (I mean "speaking authoritatively"), and counting. Counting heads to make sure no one is missing. Counting beads that they earn for every.darn.activity. Counting the number of cars that have blocked me in in the "volunteer" parking lot. I should "volunteer" to remove some people's keys from their pockets so I can LEAVE!

Unfortunately, Pal's best buddy was assigned to the other group that we share a cabin with (this is only day camp, but everyone gets assigned to an area so we can have a home-base, so to speak). Upon hearing that Pal's buddy wasn't in our group, I fully expected the ultimate melt-down. Which surprisingly, didn't come. Wow! I guess having the buddy to ride home with every day was enough to keep him from melting. I even allowed buddy to stay when we got home, and that was the ultimate benefit!

This is the first year that Pal will be allowed to travel off-site to another Boy Scout reservation. He also gets to shoot BB's and learn archery. The highlight for Pal is usually the Frog Pond, where he can get covered in inches of green slime while looking for a HUGE frog. This is my favorite picture from last year's frog adventure - not because of the green "water" behind him, but because he is just SO happy, and it shows in his smile.

And this was one of the many HUGE frogs they caught last year:

I guess I will stop whining now, and go to bed so I can be refreshed for Day Two.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Happy Birthday, "R"

Today is my nephew's 12th birthday. He is the only son of my only brother.
He was the fifth grandchild for my parents and the first nephew on my side of the family. "R" is a sweet kid, not that any 12-year-old boy wants to be called sweet, but he just IS. He always has a smile and kiss for you when you come in. He's got a devious older-brother side, too, and loves to tease his little sister....much like his Dad did to me for all those years (and is still at it, I might add!).

It was at our wedding that it dawned on my sister-in-law that she might be pregnant, and sure enough, 8 months later little R came into the world. I wasn't at the hospital or in jeopardy of losing my job at the time, but it was awesome to get the news that I finally had a nephew! (I had 4 nieces at the time). He was a happy, chubby cheeked, adorable baby. And sweet. Ooops, there's that word again.

So, Happy Birthday, "R". We love you. Stay sweet. And sorry for calling you sweet.

Auntie G

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

You can't BUY this kind of entertainment....

Our weekend in the White Mountains in a Pop-Up was both fun and wet.
We arrived at the campground around 1:30 and started setting up the pop-up, and around 4:30 our friends arrived with their pop-up. And it started to rain. Hard. So hard that we couldn't even think about setting up a grill to cook dinner, and we had a LOT of food to cook. But there was just no way with the rain pelting us from all sides of the little canopy our friends brought. So we decided to head to the little Italian restaurant near the campground. It was right on the Lost River, which is very swollen due to all the rain we've had this Spring and Summer. The food was good and at least we were dry. It had stopped pouring by the time we got back, it was still drizzling but at least the heavy rain had ceased. But, by this time, everything was pretty damp inside the pop-up.

When we woke up on Saturday morning, the rain was ending and the sun was peaking through the clouds. We decided to head to the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves. This was very cool - you walk down inside the gorge on a wooden staircase, which consists of 1000 steps. Yikes, was I tired after that!!! The kids absolutely loved this - all kinds of rocks to throw and caves to climb around in.

That same day, after a rest and some dinner, we decided to head to Clark's Trading Post and Trained Bears. This turned out to be a great decision because we had the place (almost) to ourselves. In 3 hours we accomplished everything in the park, and the kids got to do the bumper boats for as long as they wanted. The trained bears were nothing short of amazing - they are so cute, but I wouldn't want to find them outside my pop-up, that's for sure!!!!

On Sunday, it was promising to be sunny and warm so we headed up to Six Gun City in Jefferson, NH. This is an "old west" town with a water park inside. The kids really liked this place but the adults were thinking it was a rip-off. Despite the ominous clouds moving in, we enjoyed ourselves and the kids loved the water slides.

Unfortunately, this is what was waiting for us on our ride home:

It rained for the rest of the time we were there, although this time we were prepared to cook in the rain! I have to say, packing up wet, muddy camping equipment IN.THE.RAIN.IS.NOT.MY.IDEA.OF.FUN. But, we made the best of it and enjoyed camping with another family. We had a lot of laughs and burned a lot of wood in the fire pit. The kids had a blast, and really, that was the most important thing. This beats TV and Wii by a MILE:

Let's just thank the heavens we didn't go BUY a pop-up before renting one. We're now more appreciative of the RV we own and that stays in one spot!

Happy campers - going home. Notice the rain drops on the lens.


"K" is HOME!

Thanks to everyone who said a prayer or kept my niece, "K", in your thoughts these last few weeks. K had her colon removed on July 31, and did really well. She was happy to be in the hospital and enjoyed all the attention and flowers, balloons, bears, etc. She did have a minor setback last week and had to stay in the hospital a lot longer than originally planned. By Monday night she was desperate to go home. The good news came at about 4:00 Tuesday that she could go home! I'm sure she enjoyed her first night in her own bed (which happens to be a brand new Queen!). And a shower - I know she enjoyed THAT!!! (We all appreciated it!!!! LOL).

Continue to keep her and the family in your prayers, though. She still has a long recovery to get through, and hopefully can return to college in September.

Later I'll post another blog about our wet, fun, wet weekend in the pop-up!

Have a great Wednesday!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Camping...like it or not?

We are going camping this coming weekend with some friends of ours and their family. It's actually Pal's best buddy and his parents and little sister and little brother. Yes - the same people whose house the police had to come to looking for the "victim" (see older post "Good Cop, Bad Cop").

I am NOT a camper. Let's get that straight. I have been camping for 17 years now, but in a camper something like this one:

This is MY idea of camping. I have air conditioning, heat, full bathroom, microwave, queen sized bed, a screened in porch, and a beach on a lake that is a short foot path away from our site. When my husband and I were very first dating, which was the early Spring of 1991, he asked me if I like to camp. "Uh, NO." was my immediate answer. I don't DO bugs. I don't DO tents. But I did it for him. We started out with a tiny trailer that someone had given him in lieu of payment for electrical work! And because we camped with his sister and another mutual friend of ours (who are now married, to each other, and have 2 little boys!), we couldn't ALL sleep inside the tiny camper. So, we bought a huge tent and a huge air mattress, and we alternated weekends sleeping inside or outside. All for love. Yikes.

Now, here we are 17 years later, and we are renting THIS (or something like it) for the weekend:

And it's supposed to rain.all.weekend. Shoot me now! It should be fun, and all kidding aside, I am actually looking forward to it. After the weekend is over and we see how Mother Nature and her friend New England have treated those of us stuck in a pop-up for 3 nights.....stay tuned.....this could get ugly.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Girls Day at Cape Cod

I work with mostly women, of which I am the youngest. By years. Well, for some it's only a few years, for others it is more than 30!!! This group (about 20 of us) is c-r-a-z-y! In a good way, most of the time. The leader of the craziness would have to be Mrs. P2. She is a hoot, and loves to host these zany parties at her house. Or houses, since she has more than one. Last time we were at her home, which is fab-u-lous. This time we went to her Cape Cod house, and it just as fab in that Cape Cod style. Gorgeous. (secretly I'm hoping the next one will be hosted at her house in Florida!!! Just kidding, I'm not that rude to suggest she invite us there.....am I?)

The last party she hosted was a Crazy Hat Party. Everyone had to design their own hat, and prior to coming to the party, each person had to let Mrs. P2 know what our hat's theme was going to be, and she selected music to go along with each theme. We were "presented" by Mrs. P2's daughter and we modeled our hats down the stairs and into the room filled with our loud theme song and everyone screaming and laughing! It was a riot! We had the Queen Mum, Mrs. Foxwood's, Betty Crocker, etc. I had a sore throat the next day from all the talking and laughing we did.

Mrs. M as "Queen Mum"

My boss Mrs. P1, as "Chips and Dip", Mrs. R as "Easter Bonnet with a side of Depends" and Mrs. G as "Vegas Lights"! They were the winners of the Crazy Hat Contest.

When we first arrived, we also played a game called the "NO" game. Each guest brought a $5 lottery scratch ticket, and you were given a clothes pin to pin onto your shirt. If at any time during the first hour you uttered the word "NO" and another guest picks up on it, she can take your clothes pin. At the end of the hour, the guest with the most clothes pins wins all of the scratch tickets.

So, because I do not drink, (no, that's not a joke!), I waited until all of the ladies had a few glasses of wine in them before I really started playing the game. With about 10 minutes left, I targeted the guest with the most clothes pins, who just happened to also have a few too many glasses of wine! We'll call her Mrs. G. I asked Mrs. G, quietly, if she would like another glass of wine, and said (slightly slurring) "NOOOOOO". Thank you very much! I won $50 on the scratch tickets!

So yesterday, Mrs. P2 invited all of us to her house on Cape Cod. She lives there for the Summer and the house is a showcase. It is gorgeous, and has all the amenities you could imagine. Inground pool, patios, outdoor shower, a mile from the beach...she fed us like royalty and we played some crazy games that we haven't played since we were kids. The first game we played? You guessed it - the "NO" game. And this time it was $5 in cash from each guest. There were 12 of us so there was $60 at stake here! And who do you think won this time? You guessed it - MOI!!!!! Oh they were not likin' me.....!!!! This time I almost lost it right at the end of the game, but regained my "NO" sensor just in the nick of time. YAHOOOOOO!!!!

We also had a balloon toss, pin the tail on the donkey, and a hula-hoop contest. I didn't win ANY of those. Although I did come in second in the balloon toss!

Look at those hips swivel! GO MS. B!!!!

You get by with a little help from Mrs. P2's daughter!

So when our office politics get in the way during our crazy-busy time, we can look at these pictures and immediately start laughing. It's great to work with such crazy women who aren't afraid to chill out and have fun.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

AHHH, this is the life! (and scary near-miss!)

LOOK AT THOSE WAVES!!! This was at Salisbury Beach last Tuesday. There was some sort of tropical storm out to sea that day, and the ocean was MAD! Pal and his cousins had an awesome time running scared from the waves. It was the only day last week that was beach-worthy, which was not good news for Pal's cousins who were there for the whole week.

Aren't they the cutest?

After the beach we took a walk down to the arcades and the kids had a blast.

After all that fun, Pal and I said goodbye to the cousins and headed up to N.H. to our comfy RV. Except that Mother Nature had plans to ruin our stay and it rained for the next 48+ hours, also sending a TORNADO our way! Luckily we were about 10 miles East of the path of the tornado, so we narrowly escaped it. Very scary, and lots of people lost their homes and RV's, etc.

In a post last week I introduced you all to my niece, "K", who will be undergoing surgery to remove her colon this Thursday. Please, if you are inclined to pray, keep "K" in your prayers this week, and even after that so she can be healthy enough to return to college in the Fall.

Thanks! Have a terrific week!


Monday, July 21, 2008

Off to the beach...

If you happen to stop by here between Tuesday and Sunday, I will be (gasp) dis-internet-connected!!! I am going to spend some quality and quantity time with Pal at our comfy RV in New Hampshire, with a quick stop by Salisbury Beach in MA (coldest frickin' water around!!!). Hubby will join us in NH on Friday.

Here's my little silverback building a sandcastle last Summer....

Don't miss me too much.....come back on Sunday or Monday and check in with me!

Have a great week!


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, "K"

My niece, to be known here as "K", turned 20 today. She is my second niece, my 3rd sister's oldest daughter. I am her Godmother. She is a great kid. Seriously, though my sister and brother-in-law might disagree sometimes! Hubby, Pal and I genuinely enjoy her company. She is kind, thoughtful and sometimes downright gullible. I love it. I love her.

I almost got fired for her, 20 years ago today. My sister had a scheduled C-section, but since I had to work, I went in and then around the time she would be going into the O/R, I "pretended" that my sister went into labor and needed me to take her to the hospital. My boss at the time, who was a royal b*tch, didn't buy a word of it (was I so totally transparent?) and told me that if I felt I "had to go" then she couldn't guarantee that I would have a job when I got back. I cried and told her I had to go. Of course, I was only 17 and could have given a rat's patootie about the job. Looking back on that day, I am glad to say that I was in that waiting room when my brother-in-law came out of the O/R and yelled "It's A Girl!". I happen to think that's a better memory than processing some car dealership paperwork!

On a more serious note about K, she has been suffering from ulcerative colitis since she was about 13, and it has come to the point that her colon has to be removed. It is a daunting operation for a 20-year-old college student to undergo. She's trying to be brave but I know deep down she's scared. It'll be a miracle if my sister survives this ordeal with HER nerves intact, too. Please, if you are someone who prays, keep K and our family in your prayers. They are needed, badly!

So, on this July 20th, 2008, Happy 20th Birthday, K. I love you like you were my own child. I like you as my friend, and I wish you all the happiness you deserve.

Love, AG (Aunnie G)

Good cop, bad cop....

If you read my "One Word Meme", one of my answers refers to an incident involving the police being called to our friend's house. Here is the whole story:

Pal's friend calls and invites him over for a playdate. When it was time to pick him up, I went over and started chatting with the Mom & Dad about their upcoming Disney trip (as you get to know me, my family and my hubby's family - you'll learn that we are all Disney Fanatics! Any chance to share the excitement of going to Disney is relished!) Well, Pal's friend has a little brother who also likes to hang with the "big boys", so when the 3 of them were playing outside, something happened to little brother that sent him inside crying, and Pal's friend followed his little brother inside. Pal was left outside alone, and the doors were shut with the A/C running, so obviously the Disney chatter drowned out any sound from outdoors.

About 5 minutes goes by, and Pal comes in crying hysterically, saying "Why didn't you come and help me??? I was stuck in a thorn bush!!!!" He had little scrapes all over his neck and a few on his back and leg. Of course, I felt horrible for not hearing his cries for help. We cleaned the cuts and he went into the living room with friend and little brother.

Disney chatter resumes....until loud KNOCK - KNOCK - KNOCK on door. Friend's Mom opens the door and there is a POLICE OFFICER standing there. She opens the door and says "Can I help you, officer?" He wants to know if we happened to hear any "frantic calls for help" coming from the area!!!! OH.My.God-in-Heaven. I nearly fainted.

A concerned neighbor of theirs apparently heard the unanswered cries coming from somewhere around the area, but couldn't pinpoint where it was coming from, so the Police had done a house-to-house search for the victim!!!!

Officer was very understanding, but also wanted "a look at the boy"! I had to call Pal out to the kitchen for the Officer to check our story out!!! Oy Vey. And this is NOT the first time our town Police have been involved with Pal. I'll save the details of that for another time!!!

I can't stop apologizing to friend's Mom & Dad for embarrassing them!!!!

I swear a year is shaved off my life when I think of the teenage years. Hopefully they won't involve Police Officers.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Balloons, Balloons, Balloons!

Up, Up and Away!

Have you ever seen anything so colorful? If you have never had the opportunity to see a hot-air balloon up-close and personal, then you are missing something very, very cool.

This is one of the most beautiful experiences. It was even better because I was able to share it with some close family and friends. We had a wonderful time, and the kids just love it up there. Stowe, Vermont that is. Not up in a balloon!
The closest Pal has ever gotten was a tether-ride in a balloon with his Dad. I am completely happy right here on the earth with both feet firmly planted!

Too awesome to describe!

We also went up to the top of Mount Mansfield, which is the highest peak in Vermont. Here is a family photo at the highest peak! (Uh, oh, now you know what I look like!!!!)

It was a great weekend, and all in all I am glad I went. I admit I was not looking forward to it, but I ended up being glad I went. Now next year, I'm not so sure about yet!!!!