Thursday, July 31, 2008

An Accidental Kitchen Tip?

Last year, one of the males in this house (who shall remain nameless) wanted some pasta. He made some in one pot, while heating up sauce in another. The pot with the sauce was the "lonely, forgotten" pot. He occasionally gave it a glance, and even stirred it once. When I stir anything that may stick to the bottom of a pot, I use a metal spatula with a flat bottom. I scrape it along the bottom surface of the pot so that things don't stick. Even though I've described and demonstrated this in detail, I apparently dropped the ball somewhere, because no one else does this, EVEN THOUGH they've been reminded numerous times.

It just so happens that this particular male in question opted (once again) to not follow my advice and although he claimed to have stirred the sauce, neglected to scrape along the bottom of the pot. Of course, many males tend to think that you just turn the heat up high and it will all heat up and/or cook faster, no matter what it is inside that pot.

After the male enjoyed his pasta, he eventually began to clean up his mess (not bad, considering he only needed to be reminded about 3 times), but when I heard an "uh oh" muttered from the kitchen, I knew there was a problem.

Apparently this male now had visual proof that it is best to scrape the bottom of the pot because there was burnt sauce along the bottom of said pot. Stuck. Black. Thick. Yucky.

The male in question began to scrub the pan in earnest, for a very long time, yet failed to win the "Battle of the Burnt Sauce." He gave up. Resident female (ME) said, "Oh don't just quit. You keep at it until it's clean. I use that pot fairly frequently."

To which resident male replied, "Well I don't know what to won't come off!"

"Keep at it. It's that simple."

The pot remained out and was attacked with a variety of cleaning agents and tools over the next several days. My mother was eventually consulted by the male in question. She suggested baking soda and boiling water. That didn't work.

Finally, due to sheer perseverance, the poor pot was fairly clean. There were a few little black spots on the bottom, but you could not feel anything. At that time, I told the resident male that it would be alright. Heck, the pot had been scrubbed, scoured, power washed, and sterilized over the past few days, the dark spots would now just become part of the cookware family, sigh.

Fast forward to yesterday. Around 3:30 I began the whole dinner making process. Part of the dinner menu included macaroni and cheese. (Homemade stuff, not the box.) I brought out the pot in question, and put in the butter to melt, then added the flour to make the roux.

As I whisked the roux around the pot, I noticed little, tiny dark flakes floating around. If I didn't know better, I would have thought it was pepper, but since I don't like pepper and don't use it when I cook (hey, people can add pepper when the dish is served!), I knew that the specks were something else.

AHA! The specks were the black bits from the sauce from LAST SUMMER.

I couldn't believe it!

How easy was that?? Just make a roux, and off the spots come??

I went to the sink, added water to the pot to cool it off, then poured it down the sink. I rinsed out the pot thoroughly.


So what's up with that?

I washed the pot, then started over, just tickled pink with myself.

I'm sure there's a scientific explanation for all of this, but since science is not my strong point, I'll just take the clean pot and run with it.

Take that, Heloise!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Parenthood, Part Five

We were shocked, to say the least, that this pregnancy didn't stick. Come on...don't most of them work out the way we plan?

We were relieved that we hadn't told anyone besides my folks. That made it a little easier when having to relay the information that we were no longer expecting a baby.

I saw my doctor and he said that at least a third of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, and we could immediately try again. In fact, he encouraged it.

We were no longer "innocent." We now knew that a pregnancy did not a baby make. And it was a lousy feeling. I resented the fact that I would now be a worry wart with any future pregnancies. And what about the baby we had lost? We (at least I) needed to grieve for this loss.

Again I went to the library and checked out some books on miscarriage and pregnancy loss. They helped a little, but I wish I could have spoken to someone who had actually gone through it like I did.

Then I began playing mind games with myself. "If I got pregnant again right away, maybe it would be like the miscarriage never really happened." Unfortunately that's when it happened, and we DID get pregnant again, very soon thereafter.

The books I'd been reading all said that if you made it to 12 weeks, you were pretty much home free. (I seriously wonder if those books are still out there, because most of us know that that's not true!)

By the second week in March, I was pregnant, but not taking it for granted. I decided that the miscarriage was just a of those things that just happens, and I was no longer going to let it get me down.

I tried to take things easy, but sometimes I forgot I was pregnant and would still do all kinds of things. Fortunately Ted would catch me carrying heavy grocery bags or things like that. He was so great.

Once again, we didn't tell anyone, because we didn't want to upset Shannon and we wanted to make sure it was a viable pregnancy.

I was feeling pretty good...virtually no morning sickness or nausea. Things were going along so smoothly. This was going to be a very easy pregnancy, I was sure of it! And the nurse at the doctor's office gave me an approximate due date of early December.

Wow...we'd still have a baby at Christmas!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Foo Fighters

Friday afternoon Ted and I took Alex to our niece Holly's apartment near Cleveland so they could go to the Foo Fighters concert at the Q (Quicken Loans Arena, formerly known as the Gund Arena). This was going to be his second concert...his first concert was Rush last August.

Holly and a friend of hers were going to go, and got tickets a long time ago. Her friend's cousin suddenly decided to get married Friday night, so Holly asked Alex if he wanted to go. Of course he wanted to go...why wouldn't he??

We took him to Holly's place, then we went home. They went to the concert, then he spent the night at her apartment, then she brought him home Saturday. She was planning on coming "home" for the weekend anyway.

Of course nothing with me is simple, and this excursion was no different. Ted took the day off because he had some things to do around here, then we left around 2:20 pm. I asked if he knew how to get to Holly's place and he said that he did, and he had put it in the Garmin before, when he helped her move. (I hadn't gone along that time.)

I had a feeling that it would be in everybody's best interest if I took her address along. Alex had her phone number in his cell phone. I pulled up her email that gave us her new address and printed it out. We were backing out and Ted said, "She should still have it."

This is where I should let you know that our Garmin GPS is a "HER." She doesn't have a name yet, but I'm sure that someday she will. I had to set it on the British accent because that's what Ted likes to hear. The Garmin is referred to as "she" most of the time. I'm beginning to wonder if I should be jealous or not.

Anyway, I checked and said, "Well, no she doesn't have it. It's not in here."

What I really wanted to say was, "HA! The address isn't here. Any ideas now, Big Boy?" but in the interest of keeping peace, I didn't.

I let them sweat it out for about 20 seconds, then said that I had printed out the address. I punched it into Garmin and it gave us an ETA of 3:55. Perfect. Holly had said we should get there around 4:00.

Things went smoothly....until we hit the Akron area. That's when traffic picked up. The closer we got to Cleveland, the heavier the traffic got. I do not like to drive in traffic, or even ride in it for that matter. Give me my little town and I'm happy. Ted said, several times I might add, that when they moved Holly there, it was a Sunday afternoon, not a Friday afternoon! Traffic was NOT an issue on a Sunday.

We finally made it there, whew. The apartment complex where she lives is very nice. It's gated and has security personnel walking around the grounds all the time. The most important thing is that Holly feels safe there. She has a very nice apartment too, with a garage! It's only about 15 minutes or so from her job, so it's very convenient, and because Holly likes clothes, it's fortunate that her complex is only a block from an extremely nice mall (that she occasionally frequents!).

As Ted and I were leaving, we saw one of the security guards in the lobby of her building and we spoke to him. That made us feel even better, but it's still a little difficult to leave your 17 year old son in "the big city" overnight.

Alex called me after they got back to Holly's car after the concert and said it was great. He had the best time! He said that someone spilled some of their beer on his shoes, and on Holly's back, and that he got to "help" someone go crowd surfing. He said they got really close to the stage too. Apparently now many concerts have general admission tickets, and where you STAND (yes, that's stand, not sit) is determined by how early you get to the venue. They were near the front and eventually even worked themselves up to the very front.

When Alex got home Saturday afternoon he looked WHIPPED. I almost felt bad for him, especially since he had to go to work at 4:00, but he wanted to go knowing full well that he'd have to go to work. Last night after he got home from work, he said he was really REALLY tired, but it was all worth it to see the Foo Fighters.

Then he told me that they're going to see Poison in mid August. I told him we'd see...after all, I'm still in charge around here. I think.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Last Lecture

Randy Pausch has died.

He'd have a fit if he knew I said this, but it makes me sad.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Plumber Misconceptions

Ted is a plumber.

Do you realize how fortunate I am??

When we bought our first house he replumbed the entire house before we moved in.

In 2002 we had the kitchen remodeled and he did all the plumbing.

When we had this house built in 2005/2006 he did all the plumbing. There was one thing that he didn't put in that I wanted, and then I sort of forgot about it, and just mentioned it again tonight. I asked if it was too late to have it put in. He told me that it would involve too much destruction, and we could probably get by without it, pout. I wanted a pot filler.

For those of you who don't know what a pot filler is, let me enlighten you. It's basically a faucet over the stove or cooktop. Our kitchen is sort of big and the sink is about 10 feet away from the cooktop. Tonight I was making fettucini and would have loved to not have filled up the big pot, then carried it over to the cooktop. Of course there's the matter of draining the pasta, but by the time that task needs to happen, Ted's around to carry it over to the sink for me. When we first talked about a pot filler, we also talked about a small bar sink next to the cooktop. I guess with all that was going on then, I sort of forgot about it and he sort of put it out of his head. Anyway, I guess we're not getting one.

Plumbers are very handy to have around, that's for sure. He's had to do all kinds of things at the spur of the moment, if not for our house, then for my folks or his brother. We're very lucky to have such a noble occupation in the family. (And Ted's sister is married to a plumber fact, Mac has his own business...and that's who Ted works for.)

When people find out that my husband is a plumber they immediately make a comment about how RICH we must be, since everyone knows that plumbers charge an arm and a leg for a 15 minute task.

That's when I try to keep that painted smile on my face and tell them, in no uncertain terms, that plumbers do NOT make tons of money.

A plumbing shop has tons of overhead. The shop where Ted works has eight trucks. Those eight trucks require routine maintenance (oil changes, new tires, things like that). They need to be kept in good condition so that they can always be ready to go out on a call. Do you have any idea what the insurance is like for eight trucks????

Each truck must be supplied with not only the individual plumber's tools, but other bigger tools that the shop owns. Each truck also has to have a variety of parts on it.

Let's just say that you call the shop and have a faucet that won't shut off. You have no idea what brand it is. The guys need to have parts for Deltas, Kohlers, Moens, Elkays, etc. If they don't have the necessary parts on their truck, then they have to go back to the shop to get them, which incurs more time that you will be billed for. So it's definitely in the customer's best interest that the plumber have a well stocked truck.

Not only does the truck need to be stocked, but have you ever seen a plumbing shop? Not the office part, but the part where everything is stored? There are all kinds of pipes and joints and other stuff there. The supplier doesn't just drop those things off...the shop needs to purchase them so that they have them on hand if a customer needs them. A service company wants to get a customer's issue taken care of as soon as possible, so telling someone that they will have to wait 3 days for the pipe to come in to reconnect their only toilet just isn't feasible.

Of course there's the office staff, without whom the business would NOT run smoothly! But, they are in the shop, not out in the field making money for the shop.

Don't forget the liability insurance that the business needs to carry. If a plumber (or any other service employee) walked through a customer's home and happened to accidentally drop something heavy and crack several tiles in the floor, the customer is going to want it fixed, as they should. Yes, accidents happen to everyone, but the customer should not have to live with a permanent reminder of that. Things must be restored to their original condition. In a case like I just mentioned, that would mean finding a tile service that does good work, and hiring them to find the correct replacement tile, pull out the damaged tile, replace it, grout it, etc.

One more important thing...the customer is also paying for experience. Ted has almost 30 years of experience. He's not "seen it all" but he's sure seen a lot of it. Without a doubt a customer wants someone to work on their plumbing who knows what he/she is doing, and has done it before.

Many people would also be surprised at how much work is done that the customers just don't pay for. It doesn't bother them to get a bill month after month and just ignore it.

On the other hand, it's also surprising how often any service business will find out about someone in dire need of a repair of some kind, yet perhaps they were just laid off from their job or the family is going through a medical crisis of some kind, or something else, and the business will do the job for free. These guys have hearts, you know.

So the next time you hear about a plumbing shop charging $50 or so an hour, rest assured that the business is probably making only about $4-$5 profit (if that), AND the plumber himself is more than likely making less than $15 an hour.

And the next time that you find out someone is married to a plumber, do NOT assume that they make tons of money....because they don't!
I'll get off my soapbox with a true story. Several years ago Ted and I were in Bristol, TN for a NASCAR race weekend. He's a tall guy (about 6'4") and usually requires shirts in a tall size. He wanted a Bristol Motor Speedway shirt, so at the souvenir trailer I asked the girl if I could see one in his size. Of course they don't come in talls, so we wanted to see if it would be long enough for him. I unfolded it and held it up to his back. Then I told him to bend over. I wanted to see if it would be long enough for him so that he didn't have a bunch of skin showing if he bent over. The girl started smiling and said, "You sure don't want a plumber's crack showing!"

I looked at her (with a very straight face) and said, "He IS a plumber." I've never seen someone turn red so fast and look so mortified. She apologized profusely, and Ted and I started laughing. It was really funny, and I bet that's the last time she ever said anything like that.

For the record, we did buy the shirt and it was long enough (at least through the first 20 washings or so)!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

In Denial

I've tried to ignore this day, I really have, but somehow it's still arrived. It's not so much that it's my birthday, but it's how old I've now become. Every time that first digit changes, it makes me cringe, and believe me, this is the worst it's ever been.

Don't get me wrong, I have a wonderful life...I have a husband who adores me, and whom I also adore. I have two wonderful, kind, loving sons (who occasionally drive me nuts at times, but that's just the way it is when you go through those teenage years). I have two healthy, fantastic parents who live in the same town. I've also been blessed with other family members who live very close by. I have a terrific job that I am pretty darn good at, if I do say so myself! I live in a well-functioning, comfortable home. Most importantly, I have my health.

But it's still rough when you reach this age.

We celebrated Saturday night by going to Bravo. If you've never been to a Bravo restaurant, I highly recommend it. Their ciabatta and foccacia bread is delicious, and their dipping oil is superb! We don't go very often (it's about 30 miles away) so when we do eat there, we come away stuffed to the gills!

The boys weren't too thrilled about having their picture taken, but fortunately they went along with it. Alex (on the left) ordered pizza, and Joey ordered spaghetti and meatballs. For years he's gone into a restaurant and ordered a cheeseburger and french fries, and we told him that he could NOT order that at Bravo! So he went to his second favorite meal...spaghetti and meatballs. His meal met with his approval!

Ted ordered tilapia. He likes fish, and I don't make fish, so he usually gets it no matter where he goes. He was extremely happy with his meal. I ordered penne` pasta with bolognese sauce and it was absolutely WONDERFUL!

We had a great time together. As the boys get older (17 and 21) things like this happen with less frequency, so we take advantage of it when we can.

(Although the date is correct on my pictures, the time isn't. I think it changed when the time changed this past spring. I need to figure out how to correct that. It's actually an hour later than the picture states. hair is much shorter than it was a month ago! I had about 10" cut off. Since I've reached "this age" it's probably time to stop wearing a ponytail all the time...sigh.)

I also decided to treat myself to a birthday gift. I don't usually do this, but for this year, I'm all about thinking, "What the heck, why not?" So I ordered myself an iPod Nano...not just any iPod Nano either. I ordered it from the apple store and even had my name engraved on the back. Of course to see it, you need a magnifying glass, but that's okay. Being that I live with a lot of testosterone, I decided to order it in PINK...sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. The only problem is that I haven't figured it all out yet. I had gotten one for Ted for Christmas (and I got Alex an iPod Shuffle), and it took him a little while to understand how to operate it. As long as I get it all figured out before I go back to work, I'll be happy. I even ordered a pink case to go with it, so it won't get all scratched up.

So that's it...another year, another decade. This getting old crap is for the birds! And if one more person says, "Age is just a number" or any other whimsical quip, I might have to get nasty with them.

Happy Birthday to me.

Edited to add:

I just had a delivery! Yes, a real delivery! And this is what I got!

Terre, you don't know how this brightened my day! Thank you for making it not seem as bad as I think it is. For the first time today, I've really smiled, and I'm going to handle with this with grace and dignity. Afterall, I have your wonderful example to follow!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Parenthood, Part Four

We were so excited about having a baby!

I'd purchased a book about getting pregnant, and also borrowed several from the library. After going over and over and OVER the information in them, I decided that I got pregnant earlier than I originally thought and had a much-abbreviated cycle after becoming pregnant. So I decided to take the plunge and become one of these "obsessed" mothers-to-be and called the doctor's office. The nurse was very nice and after listening to all that I said, agreed with me. Therefore, instead of being just two weeks or so late, it was more like SIX weeks. She even gave me an approximate due date of early August. WOW!

(As a teacher, we immediately decided that with an August birthday, we would keep this baby out of school an extra year. I'd seen firsthand what pushing a child through the system could do and it was NOT going to happen to our baby! Once I explained it all to him, Ted was in complete and total agreement with this.)

We would be hosting Christmas for Ted's family on Christmas Eve and my family on Christmas Day. Between those two days we would have a total of close to 30 people in and out of the house, and we were NOT going to say a word to any of them about being pregnant. THAT WOULD BE REALLY DIFFICULT!

Throughout this time I was not teaching. In fact, I had decided that I was DONE with teaching and was never going back. I needed a break in the worst way. I had agreed to sub for a principal who I really admired, but that was it. I wasn't even on an official sub list, but just worked for him. In retrospect, it was the best thing I could have done and it is only because of him that I decided to get back into teaching. I eventually re-entered the work force with a new outlook and attitude.

Since we had only been in our house for a little over a year, I wanted to make sure that it looked great for the holidays. I spent a lot of time finding the perfect tree, decorating the house, wrapping gifts so they looked like they were in a magazine spread. Afterall, this was going to be the last Christmas that I would have the time to do this because by the following Christmas, we would have a baby!

We were so attached to this baby already. We would both rub my tummy and talk to it, telling it about the things we would all do together. It was a feeling that I can't even put into words...thrilled, excited, delirious, ecstatic, overjoyed, elated...none of them could even compare to what we were feeling! We were SO in love with this baby! We'd already talked about how we were going to turn the "blue" bedroom into a nursery, and the kinds of curtains we would get, the theme we would use. We had plans!

But then...

Two days before Christmas (when I was approximately seven and a half weeks pregnant, I began to spot. I immediately called the doctor's office and was told that if the spotting was brown, it was "old" and I shouldn't be too worried, but if it was red, it was "new" and the doctor would want to see me. Fortunately it was brown, whew! The nurse recommended that I rest as much as possible and to let them know at the office if anything changed.

I've since decided that an early pregnancy is either going to stick or it isn't, and that decision isn't based on whether you constantly rest or not. I think they tell you that to make you think that you are doing everything possible to stay pregnant.

On Christmas Eve I was cramping a little, but I kept a smile on my face while playing hostess. Ted knew what was going on and did as much as he could to help me. He was great.

Things are always worse during the night...I think it has something to do with the darkness. Around 4:00 am I woke up with more cramps and the spotting was beginning to turn red. Definitely NOT a good sign.

I went back to bed, but not back to sleep.

We eventually got up and exchanged gifts. Ted had gotten me a pair of diamond earrings. They were small, but they were real diamonds. They were way out of our budget, but something he wanted to do for me. What a sweet guy! I'm married to the best man in the universe!

After opening our gifts we got ready for the day. I had a meal to prepare and we had to finish straightening up from the night before.

The cramps were getting worse. The spotting was getting worse. Come was Christmas Day. Why did this have to happen on this particular day???

My parents and brother arrived before anyone else. I told my mom what was happening, but not my dad. She kept her eye on me throughout the day. A couple of times I just needed to escape and went upstairs to our bedroom to lie down for a few minutes. Once she came in and asked me how I was feeling. NOT GOOD. I was scared. I was worried. I was upset. One of my cousins was there, and she was about four and a half months pregnant with she and her husband's first child. Needless to say, they received a LOT of attention that day! I kept trying to tell myself that things would all be fine for our baby and these two children would be able to grow up together.

After everyone left, I took a shower and just tried to relax, as much as a pregnant woman with red spotting and cramping could.

By the next day it was no longer spotting, but real bleeding with clots. I called the doctor's office. They were very good about always putting me through to the nurse. She said that the doctor wasn't in that day, but she was going to call him and get back to me.

Half an hour later, she called me back. In the meantime, the bleeding had gotten really bad, as had the cramping. She told me that the doctor said that it was over. I was having a "spontaneous abortion." (Oh, how I despise that term.) Because I was only about 8 weeks pregnant, I would not need a D&C. Nature would take its course and we could try again right away.

I was no longer pregnant.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

GI Joe Meets Eric Clapton

I recently uploaded the pictures from the digital camera onto the computer. I found this one:

It obviously didn't take long to figure out WHO not only took this picture, but who set it up.

Alex, our resident rocker, was the photographer.

(Nope, I do NOT upload photos very often!)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Book

I just recently finished Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich. She has written a series of books based on a main character named Stephanie Plum. Stephanie is a bounty hunter (otherwise known as a bond enforcement agent) who happens to work for her cousin Vinny. She has two men in her life...a police officer named Joe Morelli, and the mysterious Carlos Manuso, aka Ranger, who runs a security firm but used to also work for Vinny. Stephanie's Grandma Mazur lives with her parents and thinks and acts like she's 20. She has been known to "pack heat" and enjoys going to the funeral home to pay her respects, and to check out the cookie trays.

Most of Janet's Stephanie Plum books are numbered (One For the Money, Two For the Dough, etc.) but there are a few that aren't. She has also written a few other books that are not part of the Stephanie Plum series.

These books are absolutely HYSTERICAL! The first one I read (One For the Money) had me laughing so hard, I practically had tears in my eyes. By the time I finished the second one (yes, I have read them all in order) Ted was used to me just laughing out loud. Janet has a way of writing that makes you feel like you are right there, and you just know that things are NOT going to turn out right.

One year when we were in Myrtle Beach with my parents, we were all sitting in chairs by the pool. Ted was listening to his CD player (no ipod at that time), the boys were playing their GameBoys, my dad was just people watching, and my mom was reading a book. I was reading a Stephanie Plum book and just burst out laughing. She asked me what was so funny. I was laughing so hard I was shaking. I finally got the words out and pointed out two pages for her to read. You didn't have to know the whole background in order for the pages to be funny. By the time she finished she was laughing uncontrollably too. My dad chimed in with, "What the heck's so funny with you two?" and we just kept laughing.

As soon as I finished the book later that day, I gave it to her to read.

Another time I was in bed reading one of the books and was laughing so hard, Ted had me read parts of it out loud to him. HE began laughing too. Poor Joey yelled over to us to keep it down so he could go to sleep.

My mom would be sitting out on her front porch reading one of Evanovich's books, laughing like crazy as people walked by on the sidewalk. She ended up reading parts out loud to my dad too, and then he would start with his big, hearty laugh.

If you decide to read the books, they are very easy reads. It's best to read them in order, but not completely necessary. The characters are recurring, and each book gives a brief background of each. You can find out more about them here.

Fearless Fourteen was pretty good. I don't think it was the best one, but it was still very funny to read. There were a couple of things missing from this book that I usually get a big hoot out of. For instance, Grandma Mazur isn't in this book too much; neither is the funeral home really mentioned. Stephanie doesn't spend much time at her parents' house this time around, and that's too bad, because her mom is a real trip. Then there's her late uncle's Buick...that gets a brief mention this time, but that's it. In fact, I think this is the first book in which Stephanie doesn't lose a car. Anyway, Stephanie's sister, brother-in-law, and nieces aren't even mentioned this time, but that's okay. They weren't all that funny anyway. There was plenty of Joe Morelli but not quite enough of Ranger.

Despite all that, it was still funny. Bob, the dog, is quite entertaining.

On a 1-10 scale, I'd give this book a solid 7.

I would just love to see her books made into movies...some of the characters would be simple to cast, but others, I'd have to think about.

Has anyone out there read anything really good this summer?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Parenthood, Part Three

By early November of 1984, I was sure that this whole baby thing wasn't going to work. Yes, I'm impatient.

Shannon had been working with the Cleveland Clinic's fertility department, and she was going up there fairly regularly. That's about an hour and a half away, so it wasn't always convenient. Fortunately she had the early morning appointments (like 7:15 or so), and she and her husband had to get up really early to arrive on time. As she was talking to me about all of this and the things they were going through, I kept hoping that we weren't heading down the same path in the future.

Of course fertility treatments have changed SO much in the last 20 plus years that she would probably not be treated the same way now as she was then. Without giving away too much of her story (and it is HER story, not mine) let's just say that there were pills and shots involved.

By the beginning of December of that year, I knew "something" was up. I wasn't feeling right, I was tired and sore, and had experienced a very odd cycle in late November...just some spotting, and that was it. Back then over the counter pregnancy tests were quite expensive and we just didn't have extra money to spend on them. They were around $12-$15 each, and for 1984, that was a lot of money. So, I called the doctor's office and they had me bring in a urine sample the following morning.

When I called back that afternoon, they told me that I was definitely PREGNANT!! They scheduled an appointment for me for the beginning of February.

WOW, what a shock! This was going to really happen! We were going to be parents!

Ted knew what was going on, so he had called me from work and I told him. Then I called my mom. She was just getting ready to leave for the hospital. She was an R.N. and was scheduled to work afternoon shift that day.

I asked her if she could handle working if she had other stuff on her mind. She said she didn't know what I meant, but whatever I had to tell her would have to be quick because she had some things to do before leaving for work. She had no idea what I was about to tell her because, as I said before, we had told NO ONE that we were trying.

"Well...I just wanted you to know that you are going to be a grandma!"

She was very excited (which made me feel good) and then told me to tell my dad. He happened to be home from work for a short break. She put him on the phone and I told him too. He was also very happy. I told each of them NOT to tell anyone else yet, because we were going to wait a while due to the Shannon thing, and we just wanted to make sure everything was okay. After my first doctor's appointment, we would be good to go. They thought that was a great idea.

And all was right with the world!

We were going to have a baby!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Oh, How Time Flies

When Ted and I were in high school and had our senior pictures taken, we had a 20 minute appointment, and that was it. Now it's a TWO HOUR appointment!

This coming Saturday Alex will have his senior portraits taken. Yes, they now refer to them as portraits. Joey had this done almost 4 years ago, and I was surprised at how different things were. Obviously I had totally put it all out of my mind after the fact, because now I'm just really amazed at how serious of an issue this is.

We're to arrive 15 minutes early to get all the paperwork completed, even though we already received a couple of pages in the mail to fill out ahead of time. We'll also have to select the "special effects" backgrounds that we would like to use. Alex will need to arrive wearing his first outfit, so they can immediately get started after the paperwork is completed. Yes, that was his FIRST outfit...the first of FIVE.

When I made the appointment, I was also asked if he would be bringing any props along with him. Alex had told me that he wants some shots with the guitars, so we will be bringing along a total of 6 or 7 guitars. And that is exactly why Ted is going along too. I know nothing guitars. Nor do I want to be the one hauling all these guitar cases into the studio. It will be enough for me to handle the garment bag.

Which brings up another thing...FIVE OUTFITS??? We have two figured out for sure. We're definitely going with a formal look, with the black suit that he got for his cousin Kelly's wedding two years ago. Thank goodness it still fits and looks nice on him! I just dropped it off at the cleaners this morning, so it will be in good shape. He tried it on a couple of weeks ago and I was really quite surprised that it fit as well as it did. Of course I better knock on wood, because Saturday is still five days away, and he could still grow a few inches.

Another "look" he wants is the jeans/guitar shirt to go with his guitars. He's a huge AC/DC fan and has at least 10 t-shirts with either them or some other guitarist or just guitars on the front. He needs to decide which one he'll be wearing, so that I can make sure that it looks stains or wrinkles. But heck, that's the style these days, so who would even notice??

I told him he needs some kind of a sweater to wear with khaki pants. He seems to think that he has all the time in the world to pick something out, but he doesn't. He went to the mall about a week ago, looking for a sweater and they still didn't have them out. The ONE time that I want them to get their fall/winter stuff out early....they DON'T. Maybe this week something will be out. Otherwise, he may have to dig through his winter clothes to see if he can find one from last year.

And that leaves two outfits yet to named.

He was always so picky about his clothes. He went through about a 6 or 7 year time when he refused to wear jeans, and didn't even own a pair that fit. He had to have certain shirts too, in certain colors, along with specific shoes AND only certain kinds of socks. The entire family referred to him as "Mr. GQ" for quite a long time.

He's relaxed a little on his clothes, thank goodness. But all winter long, it's hoodies, with the "right" t-shirt underneath. That's right folks...the "right" shirt that NO ONE WILL SEE. Thank goodness he's been working the past few summers and can contribute to his clothing collection a little.

Anyway, I can remember having my senior pictures taken like it was yesterday. I also recall that my parents paid somewhere around $100 for what they ordered. We paid around $800 for Joey's, and I have a strong suspicion that Alex's will be closer to $900.

Now don't get me wrong. We were extremely pleased with Joey's pictures, and I'm sure we will be with Alex's too. If it takes two hours, five outfits, and $800-$900 to get those wonderful shots, then that's okay. For that kind of money, we can go all day long if necessary!

That's okay though...we've been blessed with good kids and are thankful for that. Senior pictures, excuse me, senior portraits, and all the other things that go along with being a senior in high school only come around once in a lifetime, so it's all worth it.

But I may need to be reminded of that by the time the graduation party rolls around next May!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Parenthood, Part Two

So that summer I had a regular checkup with my gynecologist and just casually mentioned that we might be thinking about trying to conceive. He told me that at that point he saw no reason to worry and that he wasn't anticipating any problems. If I was not pregnant in a year, we would talk about things. Okay, that seemed fair enough.

We had decided that we weren't going to tell ANYONE that we were going to try. It was going to be our little secret until it happened. But that wasn't going to take long. I would probably be pregnant within two months at the most. That's the way this whole trying to conceive thing worked, right?

I was desperately trying to remember everything Shannon had ever told me about her infertility issues and whether or not there was anything in all that information that could make this happen for us immediately. All I could come up with was a temperature chart. So I bought some graph paper and created my own chart. Remember this was back in the mid 1980s, before the internet could provide anything like that at the stroke of a few keys.

So I had a thermometer and graph paper and I was ready to go. Every morning I would take my temperature around the same time, then graph it. When I saw that ovulation was about to take place, I told Ted, and that evening, we let "nature take its course."

Afterwards, I can remember thinking to myself, "Oh no...what have we DONE???" I got so worked up about this that I was sick to my stomach. And then I thought that, hey, what's done is done, and our lives are about to change forever!

Oh wow...I can't believe how naive we were. We just assumed that it would work the first time. Heck, we were even looking at possible due dates! We thought that a spring baby would be so exciting.

We found out a couple of weeks or so later that it didn't work.

What's up with this??? It didn't work?? Why not? It was supposed to work. We did it at the right time. What was the problem?

Off I went to the book section of our local K-Mart. I was looking for books on getting pregnant, and found a few. I purchased the one that seemed to give a lot of practical information. I was already doing one thing (taking my temperature) so we needed to know what to do next to help achieve conception.

I knew I could have just asked Shannon, but of course did not want to let her know that we were trying. How could I possibly be the next person to tell her that there was a baby on the way?? She really suffered emotionally every time someone she knew got pregnant and knew that she could always talk to me about it because I was not expecting, nor (to her knowledge) were we trying. I felt like if I told her, it would be like abandoning her, so I just couldn't do that. I had way too much respect for her.

So the next month we tried the pillow trick. After our "session" I slid a pillow underneath myself and stayed that way for about 30 minutes. Surely that would work.

It didn't.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Nick, Our Former Ghost

So Nick never showed himself after those two incidents in our old house, but I somehow knew he was around.

When we decided we would be building a house, we spent a lot of time in the dining room, spreading papers and things out on the big table. We were taking a lot of notes, looking at a lot of pictures, comparing pictures of house plans, etc. After we met with a house designer, and got some preliminary plans to look at, we had those spread out everywhere. If anyone had walked into our dining room, it was very obvious that we were preparing to build a home.

The entire process takes months. We first met with the designer in December of 2004, broke ground in July of 2005, then moved in early March of 2006.

I do NOT have a green thumb, so we never had many inside plants. However, there were a few that we kept in the dining room, as there was a bay window there and it got a lot of sun. In February of 2006 we were trying to organize the upcoming move. I was off work at that time due to my colon cancer/colostomy/chemo and was getting ready to have surgery again on February 22. Because I didn't need to get up at 5:15 a.m. I would stay up a little later than everyone else. It was like my "quiet time" and I looked forward to it. I would usually be in the dining room, on the computer, either IMing friends, playing games, catching up on email, or doing something related to the house.

I was always the last one to go upstairs and go to bed. On weekday mornings, no one ever went into the dining room. There was never any need. Bookbags, lunches, or whatever were always in the kitchen, ready to be picked up on the way out the door. I was the first one to go into the dining room in the mornings, and that was usually to turn on the computer to check email or whatever.

One mid-February morning I went into the dining room to see that two plants had fallen over. One had been on a small table and had just fallen over, but fortunately had NOT rolled off the table onto the floor. The other was on the floor and had just fallen onto its side. How weird...I was sure no one had been in the dining room that morning, and the plants had been fine the night before when I went to bed. They had both been on solid surfaces and were not wobbly in the least. The pots were both sturdy too. It was COLD outside, so no windows had been open and therefore, no breeze had knocked them over. I cleaned up the mess, and put them upright.

That evening I asked if anyone had been in the dining room that morning. As I suspected, no one had.

A couple of mornings later, I saw the exact same thing. I cleaned up the mess again and that night asked, yet again, if anyone had been in there in the morning. Once again, no one had.

That's when it hit me.

Nick had knocked over the plants, both times. I decided that Nick knew that we were moving and was not happy about it.

The next morning I had a little "talk" with Nick. No one else was home, and I spoke out loud to him. I told him that we had loved living there, but that it was time for us to move to a different house. I told him that someone else would be moving in and he could take care of them, as he had taken care of us.

There were never anymore incidents.

After we moved, it took about a month to get the old house ready to sell. Once it went on the market, it took 4 months to sell it. That's when the real estate market was starting to take a dive and I now feel we were fortunate to get it sold as quickly as we did. A year earlier, our house would have probably sold in about 2 weeks due to the condition of the house and especially the location, but everything happens for a reason.

The people that bought our house were buying it for their son, daughter-in-law, and infant grandchild. It was perfect for them. They were paying cash, so the closing was about a week and a half after we accepted their offer.

The last weekend before the closing we went there and went through every room from the attic to the basement, to make sure that we had everything. Afterwards, when everyone was outside, getting ready to leave, I had another little chat with Nick. I told him that a nice, young family would be moving in and that once again there would be a child in the house. I also asked him to treat them as well as he had treated us. Then I told him to take care of himself, and goodbye.

And that was the last I had contact with Nick.

Amazingly enough, Nick and his wife had raised four children (two girls and two boys) in that house. We found it to be small for the four of us, so I can't imagine what it was like for the six of them, but back then, they didn't have as much "stuff" as we have nowadays. Nick's wife loved to can peaches too. Up until the summer before we moved, we would still find the occasional peach pit in the backyard. I always used to wish that walls could talk. I wondered what it was like for Nick's family in that each mark in the wall got there, when they planted certain trees, things like that.

So, Nick, I hope you're doing well and haven't given that new family any trouble!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Nick, Our Former Ghost

We purchased our old house in 1983, and spent about a month and a half working on it before we moved in. It was in dire need of some updating, so for a while we were working at our day jobs, then spending evenings and weekends at our new house, which was really an old house.

The house had been built in 1929, and was a 2 story with an unattached single car garage that had at one time been used as a chicken coop, but caught fire when a chicken knocked over a candle. That's all I know about that incident, honestly. We had the interior of the garage checked out and the wood was simply charred, not burned, so that was a definite plus.

Back then electricity wasn't nearly as important to people as it is now (point driven home after our power went out around 6:30 p.m. yesterday due to a nasty storm and didn't come back on until around 1:30 a.m.!), so one of the first things we did was get in touch with our electrician.

He added 29 outlets to our house, light fixtures in the kitchen, the bedrooms, the closets, the dining room, the hallway, the basement, the garage, and updated our service. Wow! The smaller two bedrooms each had ONE outlet before they started, and our bedroom had NONE! That's zero, zilch, and nada. They really had a lot of work to do.

While this was all going on, Ted was replumbing the house and I had decided to take down the wallpaper in one of the smaller bedrooms. Thank goodness our bedroom didn't have any wallpaper.

The "blue" bedroom was closest to ours and would be painted blue when everything was finished in there. I honestly cannot remember what color the walls were before I started stripping wallpaper, but I DO remember that there were SIX layers of various patterns of wallpaper on the walls AND the ceiling, AND the top layer was painted.

But I was ready for it! I was so excited to actually be doing something in the house. I had a garbage can, a couple of scrapers, a shop vac, and I was ready to go!

That first evening in the "blue" room was long and excruciating. It took me about four hours to clear off one square foot of wall space. I couldn't believe it had taken so long to do so little. That's when I realized that there just HAD to be something I could do to speed things along. Fortunately someone told me about some spray stuff to get and a special wallpaper scrapper. Of course since we now had a house payment in addition to rent for our apartment and we had hired an electrician, we didn't have too much extra money to toss around, so we were trying to do as much as we could without spending much. That plan sort of went out the window. It eventually took about 3 weeks to get that room finished, and my mom was a HUGE help!

As we were finally seeing moving day in the not too distant future, things were starting to fall into place. One typical evening we had a quick, early dinner at our apartment, then I told Ted I was going up to the house to wash out the inside of the kitchen cabinets. He said he would be up there in about an hour, as he had a few things to do at the apartment first.

So about 15 minutes later, I was sitting on the kitchen floor with two buckets of water and some old rags, reaching into the lower cabinets, washing things like crazy.

The house had three outside doors. There was a front door that opened to the front porch. There was a kitchen door that opened to the back porch, and there was also a side door that opened to the driveway. When coming in the side door, you could either go down the steps on the left side to the basement, or go straight up three steps into the little vestibule space between the kitchen and foyer.

And of course, being an older house, the floors, steps and doors all creaked.

So as I was sitting there, reaching inside the cabinets, I heard the side door open, and the steps creak. I said, "I didn't think you would be here for a while yet."




I pull my upper body out of the cabinet and quickly glance toward the vestibule, then back to what I was doing.

Then I realized what I had seen when I glanced, and looked back at the vestibule. This time there was nothing there.

However, when I glanced over the first time, there had been an old man walking up the steps, turning the corner into the foyer. He had on a light colored shirt and dark pants. He was at least 85 years old, if not more.



When Ted got there, I told him about it and he told me it was just my imagination. Yeah, right. HE didn't see what I saw. It was NOT my imagination.

About four months later, I was home by myself for the evening, sitting on the couch in the living room. I heard the steps squeak, as if someone was walking upstairs. I glanced over, then looked back at the television, realized again what I had seen, and looked back again. There was nothing there. But I knew what I had seen!

I had seen that same old man walking up the steps, dressed the same way, but this time he had on glasses.

Again, I told Ted when he got home and he sort of acknowledged that I had seen something, but didn't make a big deal out of it.

That following summer, I was talking to my next door neighbor about it, and she told me that the old man who had lived in the house before us, had died at the bottom of the basement steps. She also told me that he was 87 when he died. Then I described to her what I saw and she went in to her house and came out with a picture of Nick, the former owner of our house.

I got chills and had goosebumps all over me. That was who I saw both times.

Before this, I had never really believed in ghosts, but once I saw the picture, that changed. Ted believed that I had seen a ghost too. I never felt threatened or uncomfortable when I saw him, so I'm going to assume he was a "good" ghost.

After that, anytime we heard an unexplained noise in the house (as will happen quite often in an old house) we blamed it on Nick.

The rest of the story is coming....tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I Have a Confession

Okay, here confession.

I watch some reality TV.

And I really enjoy it!

I've been watching this season of the Bachelorette with DeAnna Pappas, except for the first episode. Last night DeAnna accepted the proposal of Jesse, and I sat there with tears in my eyes.
I really do think that she had the right two at the end. Prior to last night's episode I felt that either one would be great for her, however, that changed as the 2 hour episode went on.

Jason has a three year old son, and he introduced DeAnna to him. They seemed to get along great. DeAnna is 26 years old and wants to have three children by the time she's 30 (very naive, but I hope it works out for her). Jason said TWICE last night that if DeAnna accepted his proposal his family would be COMPLETE. Hmmmm....does that mean that he doesn't want anymore children? That bothered me immensely. I will give Jason credit though...when he first met DeAnna's family, he was able to impress them, and seemed to be very honest.

Jesse seemed to have matured a good bit throughout the process. A few weeks ago he commented to DeAnna that if she chose him she better be ready to get married because that's where he was in his life. I don't think she is the type of person who could be talked into anything she didn't want to do. She seems to be very strong, and I think she's at the same place in her life. The fact that they said on "After The Final Rose" that they have their wedding date set (May 9, 2009) pretty much indicates that.

I like DeAnna. She was honest with the guys, sometimes brutally so, but that's good. She even eliminated two guys at one time when she only needed to eliminate one. I really don't think that she led anyone on, at least not intentionally. She said what she thought.

I haven't watched The Bachelor/The Bachelorette for quite a while, and I found myself enjoying it this time around. Heck, I might even watch it again!

The Mole is another reality show I really enjoy. I watched it when it was on 6 or 7 years ago (two seasons), and then the two seasons of Celebrity Mole. This time around it's pretty good too. Of course I'm lousy at it. My top two choices for the mole have already been eliminated.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Holiday Gathering

When we lived at our old house, we were a block and a half from the city park, where the fireworks were held. Our park also hosts our town's annual festival.

Doesn't every small town have an annual festival? Where they have a queen? And a parade? And lots of contests?

Our festival is always over the 4th of July, and they usually hold the fireworks on the Saturday night of the festival, and that doesn't always fall on the actual 4th.

We always had a cookout on the night of the fireworks and half of the fun of the evening was watching people drive slowly up and down the street looking for a parking place while we sat on the front porch. It was also nice to see people walking along the sidewalk, heading over to the park. Often we'd see people that we hadn't seen in a long time and would get to chat for a minute or so.

Some of our guests would walk over to the park a few minutes before the fireworks actually began at 10:00 p.m. and the rest of us would sit on the front porch and watch them, which was sometimes a little challenging, but if you looked between the trees, it was okay.

ANYWAY, we have been continuing the tradition of the cookout on the night of the fireworks, even though we no longer live by the park, nor can we see them from our house. The boys wanted to keep this going, so that's what we did.

We had food out the wazoo (is that a word? I've used it before, but never thought about how to spell it) and I think everyone had a great time. Most of the people went swimming, so that was nice too. There were only about 15 people here, but that was okay.

I went to get my camera to start taking pictures, because there were many photo opportunities earlier...but I couldn't find it! I was looking everywhere for it, but it was nowhere to be found. Later on in the evening, just as people were getting ready to leave...I found it. By then it was too late and only took a couple, but they weren't exactly what I was looking for.

It was a challening time for Ted though. His mom was here and we celebrated her 82nd birthday (which is actually today) with a cake and gifts. She is living in an assisted living facility and is struggling with her memory. She was diagnosed with dementia several years ago, and even though she's on medication for it, it is still progressing. She has trouble remembering names, but still knows her relationships. For instance she referred to Ted and me as her son and daughter-in-law, but couldn't recall our names. She knows that Joey and Alex are her grandsons, but couldn't tell you what their names are. She gets somewhat confused pretty often too, especially when she is away from the facility where she lives. When we visit her there, she seems a little more secure in her surroundings.

It's been rough on Ted, watching her progress through this dementia, knowing that it's basically the beginning of Alzheimers. Hopefully that can be held off for quite a while yet though.

She struggled a little bit here Saturday night. She was outside walking around a little and Ted got nervous because he thought she was going to wander off. He went out to get her and lead her back inside. We had all three cats in our bedroom (with food, water, and a litter box) so that they wouldn't be going outside with the doors opening and closing constantly, and so no one would trip over them. We were afraid that she would open the bedroom door and let them out. She looked for the least little bit of lint or anything on the floor, and would pick it up and hand it to either Ted or me. (with all the food here, naturally there were going to be some crumbs on the floor) She also starts to get really nervous after a little while and says she's ready to go home. We try to get her to relax and stay a little longer, but that doesn't work often. She laughed though, when I asked her if she brought her bikini so she could go swimming. I think she knew what I was talking about.

For the most part though, it was a nice celebration. It's always good when the family gets together. We have a great time and will have wonderful memories down the road.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Parenthood, Part One

After Ted and I had been married for 4 years we decided to venture down that path of procreation. There was so much that went into that decision and we talked a lot about it before we felt it was the right time.

One of the issues was, of course, money. Would we be able to afford a child? Would we be able to provide for that child down the road? What about college?

Another issue was that I had a very good friend (who shall be referred to as Shannon) who was traveling down the infertility route at that time, and had been for several years. I know that it was a very difficult time for her, and when someone she knew became pregnant she always knew that she could call me and just let her feelings out. How would she be able to take it when her "sounding board" and last childless friend left her in the club all by herself? Ted and I decided that we would not tell her or her husband about our plans until we absolutely HAD when we hit the second trimester!

And then of course, there was fear. Fear of the unknown. Would we even be able to get pregnant? What about this labor and delivery stuff? Being that I did NOT like pain or discomfort of any kind, and that the mere thought of a needle sent my blood pressure through the roof, would I be able to handle this?

We pretty much decided that we would just jump into this journey feet first, without thinking analyzing each and every little aspect of it, and then deal with things as they came up.

Afterall, it wouldn't take long, right? I mean, when you start trying to have a baby, it just works right away, right? And my very good friend Shannon was just a HUGE exception, that only happened to maybe one out of around 100,000 women, right? about naive.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Chaise Longue

I was reading a book over the weekend and just about jumped out of the chair when I came across a typo!

The book was Sail by James Patterson. Probably somewhere around halfway through, I read about one of the main characters and a woman (who was NOT his wife *imagine that*) wrapped up in each others' arms on a chaise LONGUE.

It stuck out like a sore thumb. A couple of pages later, the book again referred to the chaise LONGUE, and I was really surprised that they would make the same error twice.

So, I immediately reached over to my laptop and went to and typed in "longue" and got "No results found for longue."

Well...I was just tickled beyond belief that I caught an error and was actually thinking about sending an email to the publisher. I was almost giddy because try as they might, they were NOT going to pull one over on ME!!

By yesterday morning I had decided that I wasn't going to email them, but was curious as to how many others had caught the mistake, and then thought I would google the word, just to see what happened.

Aha! It IS a real word! A chaise longue is a long seat for reclining and is from the French, meaning long chair.

Thank goodness I didn't make a fool out of myself by emailing them.

And for the record, the book was pretty good. Not a 10, but a solid 7.