Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sheets and Towels

I attended and graduated from the Mary and Gloria School of Bed Making and Towel Folding.

Of course Mary is my Grandma and Gloria is my Mom. Without going into too much technical detail, simply let it be known that I can change the sheets on a bed (no matter what size) and fold bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths with the utmost perfection.

It is important to note here that I CAN do those things, but occasionally opt NOT to do them.

Ted and I have a king size bed and with my rotten knees and breathing issues (thanks to scar tissue in my lungs from pneumonia I caught during my last hospital stay) it can be difficult to change the sheets on my own. Ted usually helps me do that. There are certain things that he just doesn't get yet though.

Like the corners...if you don't do the "hospital corner" then the top sheet will come out during the night. Bless his heart, he put the clean sheets on the bed yesterday while I was doing laundry, but didn't do the corner correctly. I've spent the last 27 years trying to teach him how, but he really doesn't want to learn. That's why I always do the corners (and they never come out).

Well yesterday, he didn't do the corners correctly and this morning the bed was a HUGE MESS. The top sheet was all over the place, not even tucked in at the bottom anymore. I've also told him about trying to get the fitted sheet all the way under each corner and his reply is always, "Yea yea yea." Well the corners on MY side of the bed were coming off. This morning I basically re-made the bed before I made it, if you know what I mean.

His heart is definitely in the right place, but he needs a refresher course in Bed Making 101. Since Mary is no longer with us, I guess it's off to Gloria's for a semester.

The towel folding is a different thing...I refuse to fold the towels the way I was taught, just out of spite. I want nothing to do with their way of doing the towels. I will fold them the way I want to, not the way my Mom wants me to. I mean, come on...they're OUR towels, not hers!

She was a stickler for the towels...folding them exactly into thirds first, and I do mean exactly. Then they were folded in half, and in half again. The washcloths had to have the tag on the left side before they were folded, or if they had a corner tag, in the lower left corner. Then they were folded up, then over to the left. The fold has to go to the front when they are put in the linen cupboard.

To this day if my Mom happens to see my folded towels, she will make a comment..."why do you fold your towels that way?"

I just let it's not worth it to comment on it. She might make me re-fold all my towels, and there's NO WAY I'll do that!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

My Dear Friend Wayne

It's true.

I. am. a. Wayne. Newton. fan.

I've liked Wayne Newton since I was a little girl. I can remember seeing him on the Ed Sullivan Show. I'm not sure if it was the flirty smile, the hair, the banjo, or the fact that he was closer to my age than most other musicians and singers I was exposed to, or what. Even my parents kind of liked him. They had a Wayne Newton album that they would play for me on their stereo.

Not too long after Ted and I first started dating, we were discussing music and I mentioned that I liked Wayne. After I saw the look on Ted's face, I thought, "That's it...I guess we're finished now."

Fortunately, Ted stuck around, but he had made it pretty clear that Wayne was not a subject he was comfortable discussing. I continued my private crush and would watch him on TV any time he came on.

I even remember watching "The Lucy Show" (not to be confused with "I Love Lucy" or "The Lucy Desi Comedy Hour" or any of her other shows) when Lucy "discovered" Wayne. He was sitting on a little stool, playing his banjo, singing for the animals in the barn. How handsome!

Not too long after Ted and I were married, I found out that Wayne would be appearing in Cleveland and it happened to be ON MY BIRTHDAY! Well, needless to say, I pressed the issue with Ted and he agreed to go with me. I got the tickets through TicketTron (the predecessor to Ticket Master) and I was SO excited, counting down the days to the concert. Two days before the concert, a friend of mine called to say that she had heard on the radio that the concert was cancelled. I was in tears. (Yes, I got my money back, but that didn't help my disappointment.)

Throughout the years I would catch Wayne performing on some TV show or another, and even discovered an hour long show all about him on some cable channel. I watched it every time it was on.

In 2002 I went to Las Vegas for a week...ALL BY MYSELF. That's a subject for a different time, but before I went, I was able to get a ticket for Wayne!!! I was ecstatic!! And...the only show that had any seats available happened to be THE NIGHT BEFORE MY BIRTHDAY! (are we seeing a theme here?)

I had spent the day at the pool and went up to my room to shower and get ready for the show. The light was blinking on the phone. I checked the voice mail...and wouldn't you know it...the show had been cancelled. I was NOT happy. (are we seeing another theme here?)

By this time I had a couple of his CDs and enjoyed listening to them when I was driving to work or wherever...but only when I was alone. No one else would tolerate them.

I am still a fan, and watch him whenever he does a TV appearance. I still listen to his CDs occasionally, and was THRILLED to find out that he was going to be a contestant on "Dancing With the Stars" this season.

I watched the show Monday night, Tuesday night (when the men danced), and Wednesday night. I will honestly say that Tuesday night was a little disappointing for me. I realize that he's 67 years old now, but I guess I just expected a little more from him. I know that he's very active physically and thought that maybe he would have moved a little quicker, or with a little more footwork, or a little more of his charisma would show through, but heck, we can all have a bad day. At least he made it through to the next week.

Ah Wayne...that silky voice...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Visa Issues

A little over a year ago, in late August, Ted and Alex were making plans to spend Labor Day weekend in Gettysburg. Hey, that's just dandy with me! That meant I could basically do what I want all weekend long, and I knew that Joey would stay back in the "bat cave" most of the time.

Ted asked me to make hotel reservations for them, so I did that. First I checked out the prices online and he told me where they wanted to stay, so I called the hotel chain's 800 number and reserved their room. Since I was sitting there at the computer with my credit card handy, I thought it would be a good time to pay my Visa bill. I've been paying my Visa online for about 5 years and it's so easy to do.

I go to the website, punch in my username and password, and my account came up. I looked at it and thought to myself, "that's higher than I thought it would be." I figured that I probably spent a little more than I realized, as I clicked to view my actual statement.

As I checked through each entry, I was thinking, "I remember buying that...oh yeah...this is going to add up to more than I thought...yep, I recall that trip to WalMart....I forgot about those books I ordered from Amazon...those were the school clothes I got for Alex...WAIT...what's this MANSWORLD.COM charge for $399.50?????"

I wasn't about to visit that website, (because who knew what it would be???) but I called the Visa company. The customer service rep eventually told me that it was a website (duh, I knew that) and that I should see if it was something I purchased. I got brave and typed it in.


I told her that in NO uncertain terms. She asked me if anyone else in the house would have ordered anything from the site. I told her that I always knew the sites my kids went to AND they didn't have access to my credit cards. She asked if I was married and I replied that I was. Then she told me to ask my husband...who happened to be sitting right there in the den with me.

So I asked him. And his response??


I told him that she made me ask. I knew he wouldn't do that.

Okay, so then she said that they would take the charge off my account, and send me some paperwork to fill out. Then she said that since it was an issue of credit card fraud AND the amount was over $250, they would need to close my account, and they would open another account for me, and send the new cards in a week to ten days. Okay, that worked for me.

After we hung up, I thought that I had better call the hotel chain back and put the hotel reservation on another credit card. They were all worked up, making it clear that it was very inconvenient to them.

Talk about inconvenience!

But they were able to switch to a different card.

Then I realized that I hadn't paid my bill. I quickly went back to the Visa site to see if I could pay it before they closed the account.

NOPE. "This account is closed."

I had to call the Visa company back. They weren't too pleasant. I explained the situation to the person I spoke to and said that all I wanted to do was pay my bill.

"Lady, I can't help you because the account is closed and the new account isn't opened yet."

Let's just say that I was a little irritated by this time.

I asked the kind gentleman what I was supposed to do because I was NOT going to pay a late fee if the new account wasn't opened in time so that my payment would not be late. He told me to call back the next day and they would have my account open and I could pay it then, but I just wouldn't have the actual credit card.

What a freaking hassle.

The paperwork eventually came. I filled it out. I had it notarized. I sent it all back in. By the end of November the charge finally disappeared from my account, along with the interest they had charged.

And I haven't heard a word about it since. Thank goodness.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Picture Day

If I were the principal of a school, I would NOT make staff having their picture taken mandatory. I detest having my picture taken. There's too much stress involved. You need to find the right outfit, do the make-up thing, wear some jewelry, and make your hair look acceptable. It's not worth the stress.

To protest Picture Day today, I wore NO make-up, NO jewelry, just a regular outfit, and did nothing out of the ordinary with my hair, except wear it down for a few minutes. That's it. Then of course during the group shot, I tried to hide behind some people. Thanks Christa, for leaving some room behind you for me to just sneak in there!

I really don't like Picture Day. It's that simple.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


What a word...

The base word, intimidate, is something that some people have accused me of throughout my life. I know, I're thinking, "Cindi?? Intimidate people??? NEVER! Not her!"

Yeah, well I agree with you. I would never intimidate anyone, at least not intentionally (this is where I flash that really innocent grin)

Anyway, let me get to the point. Ted and I have two particular sets of friends that can reduce me to absolutely NOTHING in an evening we spend with either couple. The women of these two sets of friends intimidate me.

There, I've said it.

I know they don't mean to do it, but it happens. They're both very kind people and would never do anything to intentionally hurt someone's feelings. But I always end the evenings that we spend with either couple,, less of a person.

Why, you might ask??

They both cook. They both cook well. Heck, they're both fabulous cooks.

Last night we spent the evening with Melanie and Dave. We had a very nice time, but once again, I left there feeling inadequate in the kitchen department.

It's important to note here that Dave helps Melanie in the kitchen quite a bit, and I think that's wonderful. She said last night that he does all the chopping of ingredients that need chopped. That would be a huge help!

We started off with an appetizer...they fixed bruschetta. It was FABULOUS! Melanie knows that there are certain things that I don't like and that my tastes don't really go along with my Italian heritage. I don't like onions and am not really too crazy about garlic. I also don't like anything spicy. This bruschetta was PERFECT! There was garlic involved, but it blended in so well that I couldn't pick out the specific garlic taste. I know that there are a million different kinds of bruschetta, but this recipe had things that I actually like, so that was terrific.

The entree for dinner was stuffed manicotti with vodka sauce. When she first said this, I was thinking, "Vodka sauce? You can make sauce with vodka? Hmmm..."

Well, it was fantastic, to say the least! You couldn't taste the actual vodka, but I think that's what contributed to the sweetness of the sauce. It was absolutely perfect!

What made everything taste even better was the fact that they grow tomatoes and herbs in their garden, so everything was so fresh.

Melanie knows that I'm a little bit of a picky eater (yeah, like who could tell??) so I always ask what is in the stuff she makes. She was very hesitant when I asked her about the manicotti, and then laughed a little before she answered. I knew then, that there was some onion in it, but you really couldn't taste it at all. I was so impressed!

For dessert, she really outdid herself....she made Panettone Trifle and it was just out of this world! Of course by this time I was so stuffed that I couldn't quite finish it and Ted came to the rescue. It had this chocolate sauce over it....that was so rich and wonderful tasting.

And now you know WHY I am so intimidated after eating dinner at their house!

I can make a mean roast beef, or even chicken, or chili, but beyond the basics, I just don't have it. I tend to go with simple things that are tried and true. I'm just not brave enough to step out of my comfort zone when it comes to cooking. And every single time we leave Melanie and Dave's I swear that I'm going to try to do some more challenging things in the kitchen. And within a few days I've either forgotten about it or decided that it's too much work!

Our other friends, Kathy and Jim, are the same way. Jim helps a little, but Kathy does most of the work. She is another TERRIFIC cook. She can make something as simple as a hamburger taste like it came out of a top notch five star restaurant!

Where did I go wrong in the cooking department?

Friday, September 21, 2007


Okay, here's the deal. "Someone" has made a confession in the comment section. This "someone" is a teacher that I work with. She really had no control over what she confessed. I understand that. (Oh boy, do I understand that!)

For those of you who "know" me, you'll find this part amusing. She thought I might get UPSET with her because she had POSSESSION of my ONLY GOOD COPY of a book. Now, let's just completely put aside the fact that she was given STRICT orders to return the folder with the book in it, INTACT. Rumor has it that she LAUGHED it off when told that. Hmmmmmm....

But what is really amusing is that I'm not the kind of person to hold a grudge or get upset with anyone. (Quit laughing Melanie!) Nope, not me...I don't think I've ever lost my temper with anyone. Now why on EARTH would I get all worked up over something as simple as a book that I downloaded from a site, legitimately, I might add.

Poor Christa...actually thinking that she needed to tell me this TODAY so that I would be OVER it by Monday...imagine that! Oh Christa...I was over it as soon as I read it! And I laughed over it too. ME? Get upset over something like that? Come on...I thought you knew me better than that, hahaha!

Oh more thing. Having italian blood in you, I'm sure you're familiar with this phrase...

"We don't get mad. We get even."

Let's might want to let someone else start your car in the morning. Oh yeah, and you might want someone else to test taste your lunch on Monday too. And then there's the matter of that sign I said you could put in my yard? Um....changed my mind on that one too.

I'M JUST KIDDING! (I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea about me!)

Since you were so up front about the situation, I forgive you!

Thursday, September 20, 2007


In the past, I've stayed at work WAY beyond the normal day, trying to stay a step ahead of everything. It's worked...sort of.

Like all of us, I have 24 hours in my day. That's it. No more. I've tried to get more, but it just hasn't worked yet. Well, I also have 7 days in my week. I don't mind working a 5 day workweek, but I need a 3 day weekend. Two days to get all my "stuff" done to keep the household running smoothly, and a day to just sit back and do what I want to do for ME. So far that 8th day hasn't miraculously appeared in my calendar.

Friday nights were my "late" nights at school. Many times I would stay until sometime between 9 and 10:30 pm. The other days of the week, I would still be at school at 5 or 6 pm. My home life suffered BIG TIME because of this, and I vowed to try to become more organized and spend less time there.

I share a small classroom with two other teachers. They both leave the building by 3:00 every day. What's up with me??? Why do I feel like I HAVE to stay to make sure everything is perfect for the children I work with? Why do I feel like I have to go "above and beyond" to be successful? It's driving me crazy.

This school year I've promised myself that I will not put any more time in the building than I absolutely NEED to. So far, so good.

Usually I'm in the building by the second week in August, trying to get the room ready and pulling all my stuff out of the boxes it was stored in all summer and getting it out. My goal was to have everything ready to go before our first official day, our work day. This year I did NOT go in to school before our scheduled work day. It took all I had to stay away, but I did it. Not only was it good for me, but it was good for my family.

Since school began, I stayed late ONE day, but was still out of there before 4:00. It's taking a lot of work to stay half a step ahead of things, but so far, so good.

Unfortunately I'm beginning to lose ground. It's becoming more and more difficult to be prepared for the next few days. As of right now, I am prepared for only the next three days, and I'm beginning to feel the panic setting in.

Friday afternoons I'm scheduled to do planning with all the teachers that I teach with. That's really is. It's helpful to me, and to them. HOWEVER, by the time I finish planning with all the teachers, I'm left with about half an hour to get myself prepared...get out the books I'll need for the following week, re-read them, go over the lesson plans for them, create any vocabulary sheets I may need, find pictures of vocabulary words that the kids may not be familiar with, and develop several short (5 minute or so) lessons for the skill that the teachers are focusing on for the week...TIMES TWO... because I teach two different grade levels.

This year I'm also spending two afternoons a week at our 5th/6th grade building, doing reading and math intervention. This also requires planning, but so far I've just been sort of getting my feet wet and not really doing any teaching, thank goodness. Next week, when that starts, it will probably be total chaos.

I'm very lucky to have a career in a field that I really enjoy, doing what I love to do.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


As a person who does NOT commune with nature (see here ) imagine my surprise when I thoroughly enjoyed myself Saturday night.

It had been a cool day, and went into a cool evening. We have a table on the back patio with a small fire pit in the center. I mentioned that it would be a great night for a fire, so we Alex went to gather some wood (actually "borrow" some from U.T.'s stash) and we finally got a little fire going.

What's a fire without the famous s'mores??? So outside I bring the graham crackers, the Hershey chocolate bars and the marshmallows, in addition to the long bbq fork. A couple of minutes later Alex walks out with a big bowl and paper plates. From the big bowl he pulls out a package of hot dogs, a package of buns, and a bottle of ketchup.

We were set.

The s'mores came out pretty good. The hot dogs, on the other hand, didn't. Alex had no idea what he was doing and just couldn't get the hot dogs to cook properly. He put the first one down in the fire and the outside burnt up pretty quick. He put it on the bun with ketchup and eagerly took the first bite.

"It's cold in the middle!"

"Yep, that's what happens when you heat it up too fast...the outside burns and the inside doesn't get warm."

He threw it, bun and all, into the yard. Ted and I both yelled, "Alex!" and off he went to get the flashlight and find the hot dog. I have NO IDEA where he got the great idea that it was okay to just throw a partially eaten hot dog into the yard!

Eventually I heated up a hot dog and it came out just fine. Of course Alex wasted several in the meantime, trying to come up with the perfect method for cooking one. Ted and I both told him to just put it in the microwave and it would be fine for him!

After a while, Joey commented that we all looked like "rednecks" sitting out there around the fire, so he wanted to go inside. Honestly, where DOES he get that attitude?!?!

Then Ted and Alex were cold, so they went inside.

I, on the other hand, STAYED OUTSIDE!

I was watching the fire burn, and it was so mesmerizing...I really enjoyed that. I put my head back and looked up at the clear night sky and saw hundreds (well maybe several dozen anyhow) stars. They were so bright and clear. Of course it really helped that I had my glasses on for once too.

I must have stayed out there for at least half an hour, all by myself, watching the fire and looking at the was actually very nice.

And that, my friends, is about as close to nature as I get.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Communing with nature is not something I do by choice. I'm not good at it and I don't enjoy it. I went to Girl Scout camp for a week the summer between 5th and 6th grade. I had BEGGED to go there for a year and a half and was finally permitted to go! It was going to be a wonderful week!

Then I saw the long, windy path to the area I was assigned to. The path that went through the thick woods. I saw the tents. Where were the cabins?? I saw the latrines. OH MAN, THEY WERE NASTY.

Why on earth would my parents force me to stay in this horrendous place for an entire WEEK?!?!

They got us up at the crack of dawn every morning. They made one of us serve our table at each meal. The food was lousy. We only got to take a shower twice during our entire week there. They made us trample through the woods to go to various activities. We had to get in a rowboat on a pond that had FISH and other stuff in it. The counselors forced us to shoot at targets using a bow and arrow. We had to sit in a little ampitheater every evening and sing songs. We got bitten up by mosquitoes. One night a raccoon came through the tent that I shared with 3 other girls. Fortunately it wasn't a skunk. We had to take our own "bathroom tissue" to the 2 seated latrine each time we went...and boy, oh boy, did it ever STINK in there!

They did let us go swimming in a big pool a couple of times. That part was nice.

Of course then there was the "last night" that I spent at Girl Scout camp. It began to rain. And rain. And rain. Then the thunder and lightning started. The counselors woke us up in the middle of the night and made us walk to a cabin that was about 15 minutes away. Hmmm...on retrospect, it probably wasn't the best idea to have us walk through the woods while it was thundering and lightning, but I suppose it was better than having our tent wash away down the hill. We didn't have time to gather anything together and just had the clothes on our back. I remember getting to the cabin and lying on a mat, but freezing. We all had on shorts and there were no blankets. Fortunately they had "bathroom tissue" in their latrine. The next morning they took us back to our tents and there was water EVERYWHERE. We had to not only clean things up at our campsite, but also pack up because we were all going home. THANK GOODNESS!!!

It turned out that there were nasty floods from all the rain we experienced and people still talk about that 4th of July weekend and all the rain. And instead of being safe at home in my own bed, I was in the middle of a FOREST, heading off to who knows where, while it was storming all around. Ah yes...camping.

Since that wonderful experience, I've chosen not to participate in that activity again.

Nowadays, my idea of camping is sleeping with the window open. Period.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Patients

Yesterday was a rough day...first of all there was Marina getting spayed. Okay, I know you've heard enough about that already. Then there was me being slightly neurotic about her spaying. Again, I've heard enough about THAT too.

But there was also another patient.

Peg (Ted's sister) had arthroscopic knee surgery done yesterday. Her left knee has been giving her a lot of trouble and she has been off work (as an x-ray tech at our local hospital) for over a month. She has tried a cortisone shot and even went to the chiropractor for several treatments since this all began a few months ago. Some things worked temporarily, but then the pain would return with a vengeance.

(This is Peg with Michael, our great nephew and her grandson, taken this past summer in Myrtle Beach.)

Peg would talk to Ted because he went through arthroscopic knee surgery in mid April. He filled her in on things about his situation in regards to visiting the orthopaedist, the MRI, the actual surgery, follow up physical therapy, getting around with a healing knee, etc. Ted had torn cartilage, otherwise known as a torn meniscus (meniscus has become his new favorite word...he says it at least 5 times a day). Ted had a few other knee issues as he went through the recovery process and has just this past week declared that he thinks his knee is doing pretty good now, and is as good as it's probably going to get.

When Ted had his surgery at the local ambulatory surgical center, they had me write "NO" on his good knee with a Sharpie marker. We sure didn't want any mistakes as to which knee to operate on!They let me see him right before his surgery and he was actually looking forward to it so that he would get some relief from the pain he'd been having.

And then after his surgery he was in a little bit of a "fog" in case you can't tell. I should have gotten his knee in this picture, but I wasn't thinking. Heck, I even forgot to bring my camera and took these shots with my phone! They didn't come out too badly either.

Anyway, Peg went through her surgery yesterday and it sounds as though there was a little more trouble in there than the doctor originally thought. But the GOOD news is that she's not in any pain! Last night, the only thing that hurt was her throat, and that was from the tube they had put down. I talked to her a little while ago and she said that her throat is fine now and she still doesn't have any pain from her knee. She has a prescription for a strong painkiller, but hasn't even needed to take it yet. Although Ted wasn't in dire pain after his surgery, he was achy and took the painkillers. But he was surprised that he wasn't in much more pain than he was. Peg is also surprised.

Peg is hopeful that this will take care of all her pain and that she will be able to get back to work in 5 or 6 weeks. She really enjoys her job and the social perks it entails.

As for Marina...she's been walking around here, and jumping off the bed and chair. She's sleeping a little more than usual and trying to bite her stitches, but she's well on the road to recovery!

It's such a relief to know that two of our loved ones made it through yesterday with flying colors!

Friday, September 14, 2007

She's Fine

Whew! Marina is home and just fine! One of the veterinary assistants told us that Marina is the sweetest kitten, and that made me feel good.

Ted took her in this morning and Alex and I picked her up late this afternoon. I was just about going crazy in the waiting room. There were three ANNOYING pre-teens in there, waiting for their mother and their hamster. They were playing with all the dogs that were brought in and were waiting to be seen. They were running in and out of the office, and going back by the exam rooms. They were getting in the way of the other people who were there and basically driving me crazy. Alex would look at me and just grin...he knew what I was thinking. I even whispered to him that the kids were annoying.

We must have waited there for almost an hour before they called us back to talk to the vet. Have I ever mentioned that I just LOVE our vet??? He is absolutely wonderful with Pepina and Marina and us too. He talked to us about her bloodwork (just fine) and showed us and explained her x-rays (also just fine). He talked a little about the actual procedure and said that it took about 20 minutes, and that she was actually under the anesthetic for about 30 minutes. He said he took out her uterus and her ovaries and that there are three layers of stitches, two internal that will dissolve, and one exterior set that will need to be removed in 10-14 days. He also said that they put two tubes down her throat (that news made me cringe a little...she has a teeny tiny throat) during the surgery.

Of course I called them around 11 am to see if she had been done yet and how she was doing. They said she had been done and was sleeping. They also told me that she had gotten through it just fine. Poor little thing...I'm such a freaking wimp.

Anyway, she's resting now, but slowly walked around a little before settling down. She's not interested in drinking or eating anything. The vet said to offer her about a fourth of what she normally eats later on tonight, then her regular amount starting tomorrow morning. I have a feeling that she will drink if I give her a little water downed milk, so I may do that later on.

I'm just so relieved that she made it through everything alright.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I'm Struggling

This Friday Marina will go to our vet's office....and be spayed. I realize that this should be a very simple cut and dried procedure, but I'm really struggling with it.

When Pepina was spayed it was not a big deal. I made Ted take her in that morning and I picked her up late that afternoon. I wasn't crazy about the fact that we had to take her food and water away at 10 pm the night before, but we did it and she handled it. I called the office a little after 11 am that day and asked how she had gotten through the procedure and they told me that they were just getting started on her because their power had been out for a few hours. Without even thinking, I just blurted out, "But she hasn't had anything to eat or drink for 13 hours! She'll be dehydrated!" The woman was wonderful with me and assured me that she would be fine and told me to call back in an hour. I did, and they said she had made it through just fine. When I went to pick her up, our vet talked to me first, then I went out and paid the bill, and then they brought her to me. She looked so darn pathetic. I felt SO bad for her. We got out into the car and I was crying on the way home...I just couldn't handle it very well. When we finally got here (about 4 minutes later) I got her out of her carrier and thoroughly inspected her. Her little tummy was all shaved and I didn't like that, but I knew it had to be done. She finally ate a little bit and drank some water, and then just laid around. She was totally out of character. Over the next week or so she was able to jump up onto things, but couldn't jump down. She would "meow" until we got her down, even from the chair to the floor. She ended up with a respiratory infection and had to go on an antibiotic. The vet said that she probably caught it when she was in getting spayed. She just never quite returned to her playful self. She'll still play, but it's not like it was before. That sort of made me sad.

I know that the responsible thing is to have Marina spayed, but I don't want her personality to change from the hyper little thing she is now to a laid back kitty. I don't want her to have to go through the procedure, being put under, having surgery, and not being able to jump around like crazy for a week or so. I don't want to have to be on the lookout for a possible respiratory infection. This was scheduled for August 24, but I called and talked to the office woman and told her that I wasn't ready to do it.

The staff at the office is absolutely WONDERFUL! She told me that it wasn't a problem and that if I was having any doubts, I should go ahead and postpone it. She told me that I could even come in and talk to the doctor about it if I wanted. They must be used to "emotional" mommies. I told her that I just wanted a little more time, so it was rescheduled for this Friday.

I am completely aware of the fact that this NEEDS to be done, that we have to have it done for her and for our piece of mind, but it doesn't mean that I like it. The poor little thing doesn't even have any say in it. I just don't want her to be in pain. And then there's the look. When I go to pick her up, I just hope she doesn't look at me with those eyes that say, "You betrayed me."

Okay, I'm a wimp and I know it. When it comes to my "girls" I spoil them a little.

Friday will be a tough day and I'll probably have to call the vet's office a few times, for my own sanity. Thank goodness we have phones in our classrooms, that's all I can say.

And for the record...her nickname is "MiMi."

Monday, September 10, 2007

Italian Cooking

I was recently in a discussion with someone and the subject of cooking came up. Lasagna was mentioned, and she mentioned how simple and easy it was to make. I just looked at her. Then I commented that she obviously didn't make it from scratch. She insisted that she did....using store bought noodles, jarred sauce, a container of ricotta cheese, Kraft shredded mozzarella cheese and ground beef.


That is NOT how you make lasagna. It's a 2 day affair to make it the right way, and I even cheat a little.

I was the first grandchild for my italian grandparents, so I was also the first one to graduate from high school. My mom went to my grandparents' house a couple of weeks before graduation to help my grandma make lasagna for my "big event". Grandma, naturally, had done a lot of stuff the day before, so that day it was basically just grating and putting it all together. Mom also helped Grandma when my brother graduated, and by then everyone just expected there to be homemade lasagna at his party. When my oldest cousin was ready to graduate, I decided to go up to Grandma's and help make it. It was the least I could do. WHAT A CHORE! I just hope Davene (my cousin) appreciated it!

Anyway...on the first day you make homemade sauce. After the sauce is going, you make meatballs and let them cook in the sauce. While that is going on, you hard boil some eggs. Yes, you read that right...hard boiled eggs. That's the "secret ingredient" in my Grandma's lasagna.
To make things a little easier on yourself, you can do a little more on the first day, like take the big hunk of mozzarella cheese that you got at the deli and shred it, using a grater. You can also take the hunk of parmesan and do the same thing. At the end of the day, you take the meatballs out of the sauce and refrigerate them, along with the hard boiled eggs, and the sauce. Of course the cheese needs to be in the fridge too.

On the second day you get the meatballs out of the refrigerator and grate them with the grater. If you use a food processor, they can come out too fine, but if that's how you like it, then go for it.

While you have the grater out, peel and grate the hard boiled eggs. I use about six for one tray of lasagna.

After that you either make the noodles or boil the store bought ones. I use store bought because I don't have enough confidence in myself to make my own yet, although I do have a pasta machine and may give it a try someday. Grandma made her own, but that's a post for another day.

Once the noodles are cooked, you drain them, then dry them thoroughly with paper towels. They can't be wet at all.

Then you set up your assembly line.

I used to do this at my dining room table in our old house, but now I can do it in my kitchen because I have more counter space.

You start with sauce on the bottom of the pan. Then put down a layer of noodles. Add a little more sauce, spreading it with the back of the ladle. The meat goes on next, spreading it around, but not too thick. You should still be able to see the noodles. After that, sprinkle just a little bit of the hard boiled egg. (Believe me, you can't detect the taste of egg in this lasagna. I have no idea why you can't taste it, but you can't....and one time I made it without the egg and it just didn't taste the same.) The next step is to add mozzarella, then parmesan. On top of that, you put a little more sauce.

Then you start over.


And repeat.

(There's NO ricotta cheese in the lasagna I learned to make.)

Do as many layers as your pan will hold, finishing up with a layer of noodles and sauce. When it's all finished, I add a little extra sauce to the corners (per Grandma's orders) so that they don't dry out.

When I make lasagna, I usually prepare enough "stuff" to make at least three trays. I'm NOT going to go through all that for just one.

When I freeze it, and it freezes well, I wrap it all up in plastic wrap, then put foil on top of that, and then wrap it with the white freezer wrap. It'll stay for ages that way in the freezer. I've kept one tray as long as a year in the freezer and it came out just fine.

It's time consuming and really messy, but it's so worth it in the end. The first year that I hosted Christmas I was pregnant with Joey (almost 21 years ago!) and I made lasagna. My mom came and helped me. We did it about a week before and then froze it. Of course on December 23 I went into a panic and worried that I didn't have enough, so I made more sauce, more meatballs, and another tray of lasagna. On Christmas Day when we all sat down to eat, I announced that I was fixing a steak for myself. I was NOT in the mood to even LOOK at anything italian by that point! (As a little side note, I had MORE than enough and we had lasagna coming out of our ears for the next month! Also...and this is a biggie....GRANDMA APPROVED OF THE LASAGNA! I was so freaking proud of myself!)
This is my Grandma when she was in the nursing home. We would go up and visit her as often as we could and she just loved seeing Joey and Alex. This picture was taken around December of 1993, two years before she passed away. Fortunately both boys remember her, and they brought her so much joy.

So if you have nothing to do and have a real craving for lasagna, go for it! It will make you appreciate italian food even more than you already do!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Our Great Nephew

Michael was born on March 19, eight weeks premature. He has come SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO far! He is five and a half months old now, and has completely caught up! He's also absolutely adorable! He has been on vacation to Myrtle Beach and has attended other social functions. Isn't he absolutely ADORABLE???


Several of you "lurkers" have emailed me about the frustration you've experienced in trying to leave a comment here.

You do NOT need to register to comment. You can type a comment in the comment box, then type in the "code" and then click "Anonymous" and that's it. If you are going the "Anonymous" route, you can put your name at the end of the actual comment in the comment box.

It will show up as "Anonymous said..." but the actual comment will contain your name IF YOU REMEMBER TO ADD IT TO YOUR COMMENT.

So now there's no excuse NOT to occasionally leave a comment....let's hear what you have to say! I was really hoping to hear what you readers thought about the possibility of changing the spelling of my name.

Hopefully you "lurkers" will say something now!

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Mirrors. I hate them.

I avoid them as much as possible.

When most people wash their hands in a bathroom, they can't help but glance up at the mirror on the wall. Most of the time (like about 95%) I just refuse to look up. Looking in a mirror just makes me cringe. I've never been confident about my looks so why go through the agony of looking up and criticizing myself?

Then there's the rest of me.

In 1987 I had a c-section. The incision was vertical. There was a nice big scar from that.

In 1990 I had another c-section. My doctor followed the same line to make the incision. The scar was a little bit bigger.

In 2002 I had a hysterectomy. My doctor once again followed the same line. The scar was a little bigger, but then there were some complications with my incision. I had a 3"-4" section that became infected and needed to be cut open again. That part of the scar was wider than the rest.

In 2005 I had colon cancer. My surgeon not only followed the line from my previous abdominal surgeries, but extended it up a few more inches. He also cut out a hole on my left side, a few inches over from my vertical incision. The hole was big enough for my colostomy.

In 2006 I had surgery to reverse my colostomy. The good old abdominal incision was extended a little more. There is a scar from where the hole for my colostomy was stitched together. Naturally there were a few problems with that incision as it healed, so it's a little lumpy and wider and darker in a couple of places.

When we built our home we put a big mirror up in our bathroom. WHAT THE HECK WAS I THINKING?!?!?!

When I get out of the shower I can't help but glance in the mirror. I see my scars and cringe. There's a 4" scar on my left side that looks really crummy. It's at an angle. Then I have a scar that starts about 4" above my belly button and goes all the way down, and I don't think I need to be any more specific than that. There were about 60 staples in it from my last surgery, so that gives you an idea about how long it is.

Ted is wonderful about the scars. Whenever I mention them, he says such kind things and can usually make me feel a little better. He was the one who took care of all the dressing changes and cleaning of them, so he feels that he has an investment of sorts in them.

Anyway, they're long, ugly, bumpy, uneven, purplish and they're mine. I hate them. But they're here to stay. Every once in a while when I see them, I really start to feel down about them, and need to "snap out of it" and count my blessings.

After all, they are a part of who I am and what I have been through in my life.

Oh heck, maybe I should just get a huge tattoo to disguise them and get it over with.

Monday, September 3, 2007

My Grandpa

My maternal grandfather would have turned 110 the other day, however he passed away shortly after his 86th birthday.

Grandpa arrived in the U.S. from Italy on July 3, 1905 when he was 7 years old. He and his family came through Ellis Island. They left Rivisondoli and traveled to Naples where they boarded a ship that held 12oo passengers. I have no idea how long the trip to America took and I wish I had taken the time to talk to him about this when he was still with us. All he ever told me was that he was a young boy and could speak and understand NO English when he arrived.

His family settled in northeast Ohio, and I'm not really sure why. I don't know if they already had family there or not. Again, I regret not finding out from him. There were many Italian families that settled there for some reason, and many of them "hung out" together, possibly discussing their transition from Italian life to American life.

Ironically, when they lived their "every day life" no one else in the community spoke in Italian to them, nor did they have signs printed in Italian. My grandfather, his siblings, and my great grandparents had no choice but to learn the English language and learn it quickly since interpreters were not provided for them either.

And they did.

They never complained about it either. They knew that if they wanted to live here in the good old U. S. of A. then they had to learn and understand the language and laws as quickly as possible.

This is not to say that they let their heritage fall by the wayside....they kept up their traditions and customs, but they still were able to adapt to the culture of the United States.

Hmmm...imagine that.

After Grandpa married Grandma (whose family also came from Italy right before she was born), they continued with Italian customs. Grandma was one of the founding members of a group called the "Liberty Club" in their community. This club was made up of women who came to America from Italy and celebrated both their Italian heritage and their good fortune to be living in the United States. The group was very active in the community and raised funds for many causes. It wasn't hard since they usually just had to make and sell Italian cookies, elephant ears, or other Italian dishes. I really don't need to mention that they were all FABULOUS cooks and their recipes were passed down through generations and were not written down.

I remember my mother telling me many, many years ago that one day my Grandpa decided that my Grandma should teach their three children the Italian language. Grandma spent all day teaching them some Italian words and was so proud when Grandpa walked in the door and the kids were able to say something to him in Italian. Imagine her surprise when Grandpa said that she had NOT taught them Italian! She insisted that she did and he continued to tell her that she DIDN'T. It turns out that since Grandpa was from southern Italy and Grandma's family was from northern Italy, they spoke different dialects of the language. Shortly thereafter Grandma told Grandpa that if he wanted the kids to learn Italian then HE would have to teach them. Unfortunately they never really learned the language, but they were able to master a few words here and there.

I can recall spending a good bit of time at my grandparents' house while we lived in the same community. I always had a great time there. My grandpa would come into the kitchen at 8:00 every morning and sit down at the table. He never said "good morning" or anything else. He just sat down and waited for his coffee and breakfast to be served, and of course Grandma served it to him. At exactly 12:00 noon, it was a repeat performance for lunch, and then again at 5:00 pm.

With every meal, Grandpa would pour himself a shot of whiskey and have a glass of wine, without fail.

Grandpa also rolled his own cigarettes. I remember watching him, just being mesmerized with the process of seeing him lay out the thin paper, put the tobacco in, roll it up, lick the long edge like an envelope to get it to stick together, then wet the ends and twist them. Then he would put it in his mouth and light it and smoke it. Of course this was all before the bad stuff about smoking all came out. He eventually gave up "rolling his own" and moved on to smoking Camels.

He was bull headed. There was his way...and his way. I was their first grandchild, so I pretty much could get away with just about anything HOWEVER, I was also a good kid and really never got into any trouble. I NEVER took advantage of that first grandchild privilege. Really. I didn't. Not at all.

My Grandpa died on a Monday. He was upstairs in the bathroom getting ready to come down to dinner. Grandma called for him when he didn't show up at the table on time, and when he didn't answer, she went upstairs to tell him, and found him already gone on the bathroom floor.

The ironic thing was that Ted and I had just bought our first house and we had been working on it before we moved in. Grandma had sent me a cashier's check as a housewarming gift and wrote in a note to use the money for whatever we needed for the new house. In capital letters AND underlined, she had written NO THANK YOU NOTE. I chuckled at that because I knew that meant that Grandpa didn't know about it and was NOT to know about it. I had had a class right after school, so it was after 5:30 pm by the time I had gotten the mail and read this note from her. I called my mom to tell her about it and that was when she told me what had happened to Grandpa. She and Dad were just getting ready to leave to go Grandma's (which was a little over an hour away).

I'm so thankful that I got to know my Grandpa. I wasn't that fortunate with my paternal Grandpa as he was killed in an industrial accident before my parents got married.

I'm sure that both of my Grandpas are keeping an eye on all of us from heaven, and I'm really thankful for that.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Labor Day Weekend

Yep, I had BIG plans for this weekend....BIG PLANS. Unfortunately the weekend is going by a little faster than I had planned.

Yesterday morning Ted and Alex left for Gettysburg. It's a place where Ted likes to go, being the Civil War buff that he is. I've been there twice in my life (once with my parents and brother and believe it or not, Ted and I stopped there for a couple of days on our honeymoon). BOTH times we had car trouble. I won't be going back. To me, if you've seen one Civil War battlefield, you've seen them all. I know that's not absolutely right, but it's just not my idea of a great vacation. Lucky for Ted, Alex will go just about anywhere and seems to have an interest in history.

My plans for the weekend were to clean out my closet and go through all my clothes, getting rid of the ones that I don't wear anymore or that, ahem, don't fit. Then I was going to dust our bedroom. Okay, so that should be done every week, but it's not. It's done very rarely. Housekeeping is just NOT one of my strengths. Then I was going to sit back and watch DVDs, whether it be Dallas, Miami Vice, or Grey's Anatomy. I also wanted to fit in some pool time, not to mention getting the laundry done and the kitchen straightened up.

Well....I spent a little bit of time at my folks' yesterday, plugging in their printer and getting their antivirus straightened out. They got a new computer and I hooked it all up last weekend, but forgot to do a few things. But it all worked out and I finished it up yesterday. Thank goodness that they are patient!

Five minutes after I got home, I was in the pool. I swam and floated for a little over 2 and a half hours. The water was nice and warm, but the air was a little on the cool side. While watching TV last night I went through all 12 storage boxes of my clothes. I'm getting rid of about 1/3 of them. Right now the boxes are sitting around the bedroom, just waiting to be put away. I was too tired to do that last night. I still need to go through the dresser and then the worst part...all the stuff that's hanging up. It could be a LONG day!

I've discovered over the years that you have to be in the right frame of mind to go through your clothes. You have to be in a "throw away" mood, and definitely can NOT be sentimental. I was real honest with myself yesterday. "Have I worn this in the past year?" "Does this really fit or does it not?" "Do I have anything to wear this with?" "Does this still look nice and not worn out by a million washings?" If I answered NO to any of those questions, it got tossed in the pile to go to either the trash or Goodwill.

I have decided over the years that I don't mind working 5 days a week, but I just need a THREE DAY WEEKEND!!