Saturday, November 29, 2008

Parenthood, Part Eleven

After we got home from the hospital, I can remember sitting in the bedroom with Ted, talking. I told him that I was actually a little relieved that this was all over. Even though it hadn't been very long, I was tired of the cramping and the bleeding. He was in a different place than I was. He'd had no physical symptoms of pregnancy or miscarriage. I had. Therefore, I could put some closure to it because I was no longer suffering physically. As far as suffering mentally, that was an entirely different thing.

Christmas was a dismal day for me. We were going to spend the day at an aunt and uncle's about an hour away. All I wanted to do was sleep that morning. Ted kept trying to get me up so that we could open our gifts. I didn't care. I wasn't interested. He was doing his best to make me feel better, but it just wasn't working. I felt as though I was just starting a downward spiral and there was no way out. I tried to shake myself out of it, but that wasn't working.

So, two Christmases in a row were marred by miscarriages. Would the holidays ever be the same? On New Year's Eve that year we went out to dinner with my parents. I recall that I had on a white blouse with a bow at the neck and a beautiful shade of blue boucle vest. (Before you start laughing, remember that this was the mid 80s!) During dinner I had very little to say. I just wasn't in the mood to talk. I was thinking about how I just couldn't seem to do anything right. Then I spilled a drop of food on the bow of my blouse. I went to the restroom to try to clean it and ended up in tears. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. Would I ever be able to do anything right again?

After another week or two I was starting to "come back." Nothing in particular triggered it, but I was just glad that I was no longer wallowing in self-pity.

Once again I spent some time at our local library, trying to find out as much as I could about miscarriages. I was now a habitual aborter, a lovely title given to those women who suffered three or more miscarriages without a live birth. Oh what joy.

When I visited my own OB a few weeks later, he examined me and I bombarded him with questions. He sort of smiled as I asked him things. At one point he even laughed. That's when I said, "Well, we're obviously beyond you now. I want you to recommend a high risk OB for us."

He did and I went home, called that doctor's office and made an appointment. The only bad thing was that his office was in Columbus, almost 2 hours away. We would be seeing him quite often if things worked out, and that was going to involve a lot of driving back and forth. But if it worked, it was going to be worth it.

We went to the appointment. The office was in a hospital in a rather crappy part of Columbus. Of course they were running behind. There's a big shock. The doctor himself was....alright. Nothing great, but okay. He immediately started talking to us as though we couldn't get pregnant. THAT was not our problem. Our problem was STAYING pregnant. He had us watch a video about getting pregnant (a waste of our time) and then handed us a packet of information. He told us to make an appointment to come back for some testing.

We went to the desk and the woman had my head spinning with all the information. I finally told her that I was not ready for all this and would call when I was.

As we left, I told Ted, "Take a good look around, because we're not coming back." I was definitely NOT impressed. He wasn't either.

On the way home, I was reading the information he had given us. Our insurance was not going to cover any of this, so I was really scrutinizing everything. I could NOT believe that they were going to charge us $900 to see if bull sperm could impregnate the eggs that they were going to take out of me!?!?! Why on earth do we need to know if my eggs and bull sperm could work together???

That's when we decided to take a break from all the baby stuff.

We needed to just back off for a little while, relax, and enjoy each other.

There have been times in my life that I have drifted away from being a faithful church goer. Throughout the baby journey, I had been attending mass each and every week. At the time Ted was not Catholic, but he would occasionally go with me. Usually I went on Saturday evenings, but once in a while I would attend on Sunday mornings.

After the D&C, I began going to church a little earlier so that I could have my conversations with God. I can be quite a talker, and even though I was talking "in my head" while kneeling there, these were some pretty intense chats. Praying is something I have done, and still do, quite often. And although I know my prayers are heard no matter where I am, I somehow got this feeling during these challenging times, that when I prayed while in church, I had a little more of a direct line, if you know what I mean.

Ted and I were still not on the same page when it came to dealing with the miscarriages. I wanted to talk about them. He didn't. My friend Shannon still had no idea what was going on. If I couldn't tell her, I couldn't tell any other friends, so when we spent time with any friends, they had no idea what we were going through.

I wasn't sure how much more of this I could handle.

To be continued...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Shopping, Ahhhhh Yes

Black Friday 1991

Joey was 4 1/2 years old. Alex had just turned a year old.

I used to be a SHOPPER in the truest sense of the word. Thanksgiving night 1991, I spent two hours mapping out my plan for the next morning. The only thing that could possibly slow me down was having a pre-schooler and a toddler along, but I was up for it.

Fortunately Ted didn't have to be at work until 8:00, so I could begin my journey early and alone, as long as I was home by 7:40.

First stop....JoAnn Fabrics at 6:00 am. I was in and out by 6:45.

Second stop...K-Mart. In and out by 7:25.

Home by 7:35.

And this, my friends, is where my husband earned his first Husband of the Year Award.

Not only did he have both boys awake for me....but he had them both DRESSED!

Not only were they both dressed, but he had already given Joey his breakfast and was just finishing up feeding Alex!

All I had to do was wipe Alex up, get him out of the high chair, put coats on the boys, and we were out the door.

Ted said he knew that it would really help me out if he had them ready to go when I got back home. Then he made sure the stroller was in the trunk of the car for me.


Ted left for work, and the boys and I were at the mall by 8:05.

I was able to get so much done that day, and felt so satisfied by that evening.

Fast forward to Black Friday 2008.

Joey is now 21 and Alex is 18. No need to worry about taking them with me, HOWEVER, I have absolutely NO plans to go out shopping. There's nothing out there that I need that badly that it would be worth dragging myself out of bed while it's still dark on a day I don't have school.

If I do any shopping, I'll do it online...that's the only way to go!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

May you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Celebrations: One Down, One To Go

Yesterday we had Ted's side of the family here to celebrate Thanksgiving. I MUCH PREFER this holiday over Christmas, but I've already made that clear, so I guess there's no need to revisit that issue.

Yes, it's a lot of work to get ready for this, but it's so well worth it in the end. I was busy from the time I got up early yesterday morning until I pressed the "Start" button on the dishwasher in the middle of the afternoon. What I need to do is get a folder and put copies of all of my Thanksgiving recipes in there so that they're all in one place.

I had gotten to a point late yesterday morning when I thought I could actually stop and relax for a few minutes....but then I remembered that I forgot about the noodles! I had to get the chicken broth going and get the noodles started.

For dessert I had an apple pie, a cherry pie, and pumpkin bars. I was going to also make a pecan pie, but our niece Holly had either texted or emailed Alex and said that she was going to bring pecan bars. I decided that we would have plenty of sweets, so I eliminated the pecan pie. The pecan bars Holly made were absolutely EXCELLENT! I really need to get her recipe.

Holly is also the family's Mashed Potato Connoisseur and I was hoping that I would get a good review. She liked them last year, and this year I tried using Yukon Gold potatoes. I was anxious to see if that made a difference. Holly said they were really good, but the true acknowledgment came when we cleared the table off and there were NO mashed potatoes left! There were leftovers of everything else, but not even a spoonful of potatoes...and I peeled almost 10 pounds of them!

Last year I discovered that the stuffing cooked really well in the crockpot, so that is my new method of preference. It's so much easier. Put it in, plug it in, and forget it! It's even easier yet when I use a crockpot bag.

A.P. (Aunt Patty, Holly's mom) brought a big pan of a fancy dip, along with bags of Fritos and tortilla chips to munch on during the afternoon, so along with the desserts, no one went hungry. I heard that the dip was really good, but she knows that I don't do mayo, salad dressing, sour cream, or anything like that, so I didn't taste it, BUT those who did really liked it!

It was just so nice to spend a day surrounded by family...I think everyone not only got their tummies full, but enjoyed being together. That's what I really like about the holiday.

This Thursday we'll go to my folks' for the day. I'm in charge of ... mashed potatoes! I believe I'll use Yukon Golds again. I discovered last year that one thing that added to the flavor was using whipping cream instead of milk, and of course lots of butter! Hey, I never said that they were low in fat, carbs, or calories!

If you have any special Thanksgiving memories or traditions, I'd love to hear about them. Feel free to share them in the comments section!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Parenthood, Part Ten

I knew I would have to call my doctor in the morning, and until then, there wasn't much I could do. I wasn't spotting very much, but definitely enough to make me worry.

Somehow I was able to get a little rest that night, and Ted had to go to work in the morning. I told him I would let him know what was going on as soon as I knew something.

Finally 9:00 came and the doctor's office opened. I called.

Darn it.

My OB was out of the country. It was a little over a week before Christmas and he was OUT OF THE COUNTRY! The office gave me the number of the OB who was covering for him. There were only about three OBs in our area at that time, so I guess I was just lucky that all three hadn't decided to go on vacation for the holidays.

By this time the spotting was quickly turning into bleeding and I was starting to really panic. I called the other office and the woman I spoke to just drove me crazy. After I explained the situation, she said, "Well, we'll need you to come some time today so that we can make sure everything is okay."

I knew darn well that things were NOT okay and I wanted to be seen ASAP.

I nicely told her that and she told me to come in at 1:00, the doctor's first appointment of the day. Back then the doctors spent the entire mornings doing rounds at the hospital and didn't see patients until after lunch.

My mom called and wanted to know how I was. I told her what was going on and she said that she would be available if I needed her for anything. It was her day off from the hospital and I didn't want to impose on her unless it was absolutely necessary.

I was able to get in touch with Ted (remember, this was before cell phones) and he said he'd call back later on to see how things were going.

I began bleeding more and more. By the time I got to the doctor's office I was a mess both physically and emotionally. I told the receptionist that when I checked in. Do you think they'd have a little sympathy for me???


I sat there in the waiting room until almost 3:00, TWO FREAKING HOURS, before being called back to a room. I told the nurse that I had a real mess on my hands and would need to use the restroom. She told me that they needed a urine sample to do a pregnancy test. I told her that wasn't necessary because I knew that I was no longer pregnant.

She insisted.


That was a messy sample. That's all I'll say about that.

Thank goodness they gave me some towels to sit on in the examining room. Eventually the doctor came in. He was NOT pleasant. He actually yelled at me because I had shown up alone. He said that I needed a D&C right away and I should have brought someone with me to drive me to and from the hospital. I told him that it was a week and a half before Christmas and I wasn't going to tie up someone's day while I waited in his waiting room for TWO HOURS.

I was not happy.

In fact I was mad, hurt, angry, and every other negative word you can come up with.

He told me to go home, get someone to bring me back to his office to sign some papers, then take me to the hospital. I went home. I couldn't get in touch with Ted, but I was able to get my mom. I really hated having to call her to help me out, but I didn't have a choice.

She came to my house, picked me up, then took me back to the OB's office. I signed the paperwork and was told to get to the hospital right away because the doctor would be over soon for the D&C.

Fortunately things went smoothly as I checked in at the hospital. When I changed into a gown, I was so glad to be rid of the messy clothes I had on. I told my mom to throw them away. I'll never forget what I had on...heather gray pants and a light pink sweater. I didn't ever want to see those clothes again.

I was on a gurney outside of surgery and the nurse told me that we were waiting on the doctor. After another half hour of waiting, she called his office. He had a couple more patients to see and then he'd be over.

Sure, no problem. I was just lying there losing the baby we wanted so badly, the baby we had been praying for, and he was taking his good old time.

When he got there, he never said a word to me and just did what he needed to do. My anesthesiologist was wonderful, though, and he made me feel better by talking to me. In the meantime, apparently Ted had gotten home from work, read the short note I left for him, then called my folks' house. My mom wasn't there, as she was at the hospital with me. But my dad was home from work. Ted explained the situation to him. He'd had no idea I was pregnant, which was how we had wanted it. However, my mom had thought she would be home by the time Dad had gotten home, so she left a note for him, just saying that she had to go out for a little while. After that phone call, my mom was able to call Ted and tell him what was going on.

Honestly, cell phones sure are a handy thing these days!

Anyway, Ted came to the hospital just as I was being released. He'd brought some clothes for me to change into, and he was able to take me home. I felt so bad that I had made my mom go to the hospital on her day off, but I really didn't have another choice.

A mere 24 hours before, we were so excited about the possibility of a baby...and now it was all over.

So over.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One Week and Counting

Thanksgiving is really my favorite holiday. It's more about family and being able to enjoy one another's company, in addition to reflecting on our blessings than it is anything else.

This Sunday we'll have Ted's family over to celebrate the holiday. I don't really like saying "Ted's family" because we're just all one big happy family, but with that term, I suppose it just keeps it straight as to who will be with us. On Thanksgiving Day we'll be at my folks' and see the cousins, etc.

This is the third year that we've done the Sunday thing with Ted's side and we really enjoy it. Not only is it about being together and celebrating the day, but it's also about....THE FOOD!

I'll let you know what I'm making and maybe even how I'm making it. We've begun the thawing process of the turkey, and that's about it so far. I guess it's fair to say that I do better under pressure, hahaha. Of course no one else in the house will be speaking to me by the time the cooking is finished, but that's become an annual tradition!

It's going to be a busy weekend!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Two Hour Delay

I live and teach in east central Ohio. It's a rather rural area, so when a flake of snow falls from the sky there is always the possibility of either a day off of school OR a two hour delay. If we have a two hour delay, we are still in session long enough so that it counts as a school day, thank goodness. Here in Ohio we are granted five calamity days (popularly known as SNOW DAYS). Any days over and above those five that we need to take off must be made up. Those are usually made up on Presidents Day in February, if we've used up our allotment by then, or at the end of the school year. Unfortunately we had to take a calamity day in mid September due to Hurricane Ike (yeah, I know, go figure...hurricane related issues in Ohio).

We've had a few flurries over the past couple of days, and even got almost half an inch of accumulation, and that, in addition to the icy roads, led to a school district in the county to our west having a two hour delay. I heard this as I was getting ready for school this morning.

There's usually a pattern as far as schools calling a delay or even calling off. We know not to get excited until certain schools have been mentioned, and since the one that had called off wasn't even in our county, we weren't in any danger of anything happening here.

Around 6:40 or so, I left for school as usual. Of course before I left I had a little chat with Alex about black ice. He's not a morning person so the conversation was something like this:

Me (in a motherly voice): Alex, be really careful on your way to school this morning. There's black ice out there.

Alex (with sarcasm): I know mom.

Me (with love and concern): That's fine, but I just need to remind you. Do you even know what black ice is?

Alex (more sarcasm): it's ICE...what else would it be??

Me (starting to lose a little patience): But do you understand how it's a little different?

Alex (reaching the end of his rope here): It's ICE, and that's it. ICE.

Me (exercising my parental authority): Well, let me put it this way. If you can't tell me what it is, you'll have to find another way to school.

Alex (totally exasperated): Okay, WHAT IS IT??

And I explained it to him. And stressed that he needed to be extremely careful.

He left for his school. I left for my school.

I pulled into the parking lot and there were a couple of people already there. One teacher was getting out of her car and looked at me as though she wanted to talk to me. (She lives about 40 minutes from school.) I put my window down and she said, "You know we're on a two hour delay, don't you?"

Uh...noooooooooooo, I didn't know. We have a phone chain, but I was never called.

We walked into the building and the principal was a little upset. She had just gotten the phone call herself a few minutes before, but of course she was already at school. I merely said, "Someone sure dropped the ball on this one." I had plenty to do, so it was not a big deal for me to just stay and work. One teacher actually got out of his car, heard about the two hour delay in the parking lot, then got back in his car and left. Now that's the height of professionalism.

Anyway, school eventually started and shortly after that we got this email from our superintendent. He has a real sense of humor. This is what he said:

Ok, first of all I would like to apologize to anyone who did not get a phone call this morning letting you know that we were on a 2 hour delay. Here is what happened. If you like the show 24 you will appreciate this e-mail.

5:16 John Smith (Transportation Supervisor) calls me and alerts me there is snow on the ground.

5:17 I realize that I was speaking with Chuck. I was still groggy.

5:18 Chuck and I discussed a 2 hour delay.

5:19 Chuck and I agreed to watch the snowfall, and pray the snow stops and the roads clear up.

5:20 I begin my pilates program.

5:22 I finish my pilates program.

5:24 I hopped in the shower and began the bathing process.

5:25 Brush teeth in shower.

5:26 Shower gel my whole body.

5:27 I began to realize my belly takes longer to shower gel.

5:28 I begin blaming Donatella's Pizza for my extra use of shower gel.

5:29 I begin the process of shampooing.

5:30 I realize I do not have as much hair as I use too.

5:32 I make a shampoo mohawk and think it is funny.

5:33 I start to shave in the shower.

5:34 Shaving ends ,and I can see that I have great possibilities in becoming a model.

5:35 I step out of the shower and realize that I left my towel in bedroom.

5:36 I begin to ponder how am I going to run to the bedroom and get the towel without anyone seeing me.

5:37 I begin to army crawl to the bedroom to retrieve the towel.

5:38 I am now frustrated because I am dry due to the fact I army crawled across the floor.

5:39 I begin to pick the pepperoni off of my belly because apparently there is pepperoni all over my carpet, and I do not sweep thoroughly.

5:40 I also found a piece of sausage. I am wondering who ordered sausage on their pizza.

5:41 I begin using deodorant and spray on my cologne.

5:42 I look in the mirror and think, "oh my wife is a lucky woman"

5:44 I dress and wait for a call from John (Transportation Supervisor) and Jerry (bus mechanic).

5:45 I pour my first cup of coffee

5:50 I realize 5 minutes too late that I have started to drink caffeinated coffee instead of decaffeinated.

5:51 I now have extra energy.

5:52 Head out to the nursing home to read to senior citizens

6:20 Return home and help elderly man cross the street

6:21 I enter home and eat dry granola for breakfast. This is one of the many reasons that I am so thin!

6:22 John Smith calls me back. Remember John Smith? He notified me that the roads are not safe, and we must go on a 2 hour delay.

6:23 I call Mary Adams (superintendent's secretary) and all of the radio and television stations to notify them of this urgent news.

6:35 I begin to feel like I have forgotten something.

6:36 My caffeinated coffee kicks in ,and I go for a morning jog.

6:47 Ron Adams (Curriculum Director) calls me and lets me know that I forgot to call all of the principals.

6:51 Bill Taylor (High School principal) calls me and lets me know that I have really screwed up.

6:52 Josh D'Amicone (Junior High Principal and new to the district this year) calls me and asks me if it is common practice not to inform the principals of the 2 hour delay.

6:53 I sit on the floor of my home with my hands held tightly to my face weeping because of my error.

6:54 I try to figure out how to blame Ron (Curriculum Director).

6:55 A small voice appears in my head, and tells me to be a man and take the blame.

6:56 I once again try to figure out how to blame Ron (Curriculum Director).

6:57 I drive to Central Office and begin to write this e-mail.

10:00 I begin to type this sentence. I need to apologize to all of you who did not receive a phone call this morning. This was 100% my fault! Please forgive me!!! I will try not to ever have this happen again!

(All names have been changed to avoid embarrassment and protect the identities of those involved.)

I thought that those of you who are teachers would appreciate this!

(And one more thing...I asked our superintendent if I could share this with you and he gave me his permission!)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Parenthood, Part Nine

It's been a long time since I posted about our Parenthood Journey. If you've totally forgotten where I left off, you can find the last chapter here.


We had reached the critical 12 week mark of our third pregnancy...and it happened to be Friday, the 13th of December. This was quite a day, and I was finally going to admit to myself that this could really work out.

The day was great, and I was so excited. I knew that reaching the 12 week point did not guarantee a baby, but it sure increased the odds, and that was what I was thrilled about. Things were definitely looking up and we were finally about to exhale that breath we had been holding in for weeks.

For the first time in a long time I was going to sleep well that night.

Yeah, right.

I woke up in the middle of the night with nasty stomach pains. It was some kind of a gastrointestinal bug. I just kept rubbing my stomach, trying to sleep, but that wasn't happening. I put the waste basket next to the bed in case I needed it.

(I rarely throw up. Prior to the night I went to the hospital with severe pains and ended up being diagnosed with colon cancer, I had thrown up maybe five times in my entire life.)

Eventually (like about four hours later) I began to feel a little better, and was able to get some rest. However I was a little worried about the effect this had had on the little one growing inside of me. I didn't want to become dehydrated, but the idea of drinking water or anything for that matter, wasn't appealing in the least. I wasn't interested in eating anything either and didn't want to tempt the fates.

By that night I was able to sip some water and eat a few crackers. Then I gave in and called my mom. I wanted to talk to her as an R.N. and not as a mother at that point, because we still didn't want anyone to know that we were pregnant. I decided that I had to tell her so that she could tell me what, if anything, I should do. She assured me that I was doing the right thing by trying to eat and drink a little. I had a feeling that was all I could be doing, but I just needed the reassurance.

I felt a little better by Sunday evening and was starting to relax once again.

And then it happened.

I started spotting. Again. I felt the world coming down on me.

To be continued...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Growing Up

Alex is a senior in high school. We've been talking about colleges a lot lately. We just got back a little bit ago from a college visit.

This is probably where he'll end up going. It's close to home, only about 50 minutes away. It's a small, private, liberal arts college.

After listening to a panel of students, a panel of professors, admission personnel, etc. and then going on a tour of the campus, we came away with a real good feeling about this college. It seems as though this is a great fit for Alex. In fact, I was even happier with this college than I thought I would be.

So what's the problem???

We're talking about my baby here. It's time to let him go spread his wings a little and I'm struggling. Over the past 18 years we've nurtured him, loved him, raised him....and now it's time to let him go out into the real world and see how he fares.

I'm really going to miss him.

I know, I know...he'll only be less than an hour away, but in my mind, that's too far. He's still a little boy in my mind.

He's already grown up.

Now I guess it's my turn.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fruit Cocktail

I was a very fortunate child. I think I knew that at the time, but the older I get, the more it sinks in. When I was little, my mom worked two days a week as a nurse in the local hospital. On the days she worked, I usually went to my grandparents' house. It was so convenient for everyone.

Occasionally I would go to the nursery school (old time pre-school for you young things) at the hospital. How great was that? All those years ago the hospital was in tune enough to the needs of working mothers to actually have a nursery school. Of course back then it was more play than anything else and not nearly as academic as it is now. (THAT is a subject for a different post altogether!)

I still distinctly recall the play room, the nap room with all the cribs, the lunch area, and the restroom.

(I'm getting to the fruit cocktail thing; just be patient.)

My best friend Mary lived across the road from us. Her mom also happened to be an RN at the same hospital. As I recall Mary went to nursery school more often than I did, but I could be wrong on that. You know as time goes on, the memory starts to fade a little. And for those of you who read all the installments of Cindi and Ted, A Love Story you may recall that Mary was our maid of honor.

Anyway, it seemed as though when lunchtime came, the same type of fruit was served every day I was there. I don't remember anything else about the lunch, but that we always had fruit cocktail.

Mary and I always ended up sitting together at lunch on days that we were both there. Mary always got a cherry in her fruit cocktail. I never once, NEVER ONCE, had a cherry in my fruit cocktail.

For some obscure reason, this fact will just not leave my memory bank.

As I said, I was a very fortunate child. I was raised in a loving, caring environment. I was taught to honor and respect my elders. I never went without anything I needed. I knew my extended family. How much better does it get?

So why do I still remember not ever getting a cherry in my fruit cocktail as a child??

I suppose it's just another of life's mysteries....

Monday, November 10, 2008

Here We Go...

I've shared my thoughts about Christmas before. In a nutshell, I don't like it. There's too much stress involved, and I don't need it. I would love to be able to just sit back and enjoy the season for what it truly is, but that never seems to happen.

There's always a big rush for everything from shopping to doing cards, from wrapping to baking. I'm quite tired of all of it.

A little over a week ago I had to go to WalMart.


I avoid it as much as I can. In fact the last time I was actually in the store was sometime in August...or maybe it was July. Heck, I can't remember, thank goodness.

Anyway, they had holiday music blaring away and it drove me crazy. I could see that all the Christmas stuff was out, but I purposely avoided that part of the store.

I know they are the merchandising people, but for crying out loud, let me enjoy Thanksgiving first!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Bravo Restaurant

For those of you who haven't heard of, or ever been to Bravo, here's a link. Angie, I don't know exactly where you are, but I have a feeling that Fairlawn may not be too terribly far. That's not the one we go to, but I'm sure it would be just as good.

Mangiare felice!

A Very Nice Evening

It just so happens that the contractor who built our home is also an acquaintance of ours, along with his wife. We've spent more time with Mario, especially, and Vickie as well in the past few years, and have become friends.

Mario's story is interesting. He arrived in the United States when he was 15 years old. His father wanted to provide a better life for his family, so they all moved from a town it Italy to here. Mario has a brother, and a sister, as well as a sister who passed away a number of years ago. Both of Mario's parents are also no longer with us.

When his family came to America, he knew two phrases in English: Good morning and How are you? He and his siblings went through quite an adjustment period, attempting to learn the language, as well as just the general nature of how things go here in the U.S. He is in his 50s right now and although he still speaks with an italian accent, most people have very little trouble understanding him.

In the past we've talked about everything under the sun, including restaurants. A few years ago he discovered the Macaroni Grill (the nearest one is about 30 miles away) and thinks that their bread and dipping oil is out of this world. We kept telling him that he needed to try Bravo (also about 30 miles away). His wife and his kids had all told him how great it was there, but he just didn't quite believe them.

Last week we saw him finishing up for the day on Ted's sister's house that is being built next door. We had him come over and we talked. Then I told him that we were planning on going to Bravo in a week or so and wanted him and Vickie to join us.

Last night we went and had an absolutely WONDERFUL time! Vickie had been there once before with their kids when Mario had been off hunting with some of his buddies, so she knew what to expect, but he didn't. Fortunately we had a good waiter. A waiter can make the difference between a great visit to a restaurant and a lousy visit. By the time we left the restaurant (two and a half hours after we got there!) Mario agreed that the bread and dipping oil were better at Bravo than at Macaroni Grill.

We sat and talked about so many different things and really had a relaxing time. Their youngest son is getting married in a week and they will have 17 cousins (most of them from Italy) staying at their home! I can't imagine trying to get a house ready for 17 additional people, in addition to doing last minute things for a wedding. If anyone can do it though, she can. She is taking next week off from work as a nurse for our county health department, so that will be a big help.

Mario is extremely proud of his heritage, as he should be. We all should be proud of where we came from and realize that those backgrounds help to form us into who we are today.

One thing that he insisted upon, and Vickie pretty much had no choice except to go along with it, was naming his children italian names. They have three sons and one daughter. The boys are named Giuseppe, Michele (pronounced mi-KEL-ee), and Giovanni. Their daughter is named Bianca. Giovanni is the only son who wants to follow his dad's footsteps and participate in the family business, and Mario is very pleased with that. Giuseppe in is law school, Michele is working on his doctorate's in sports physiology, and Bianca is a freshman in college, still not sure what she's going to major in.

We had such a nice evening last night. The bread and oil were great, the food was delicious, and our waiter was attentive. And it was great to hear that Mario agreed with us about Bravo! (And I am NOT being financially compensated for sharing my thoughts on this particular restaurant!)

Friday, November 7, 2008


This is a copy of the email I want to send our school superintendent this morning:

Dear Mr. D,

Note for next school year: Please do not schedule a school day with students the day after a 12:00-7:30 pm day of parent teacher conferences...especially if that night the Cleveland Browns are playing and don't even kick off until almost 8:30...especially if the Browns start Brady Quinn as quarterback for the first time...and especially if Cleveland comes thisclose to winning, until there's only 1:14 left in the game.

If you happen to visit the elementary buildings in the district today and see that most staff members are walking around like zombies, at least you'll know why.


It's going to be a L O N G day.

Monday, November 3, 2008


I'm the first one to admit that I have a very difficult time letting go of a friendship. I've had some friends for several decades, and yet some others are only a few years old. I'm not a person who can be friends with a whole bunch of people at the same time. I was never comfortable with the big "group" friendship thing. I would never be part of a group of say 4 or 5 couples who vacationed together. That's just not my style. It works for many, but not for me.

Fortunately, most of my older friendships are with people who understand me, and realize that if I don't call, write, or email them frequently, that doesn't mean that I want the friendship to end. It just means that I think about them, but occasionally have trouble setting aside the time to stay in touch.

One of the most difficult things to do is to realize when it's time to let go of a friendship. It's almost like ending a marriage. I'm in the process of ending a couple of them right now, and it's hard. I mourn for what could have been, for what we had, and what we shared over time. However, I know when it's time to move on, and what hurts the most, is that I also realize when I've been used.


I thought my personality was enough to sustain a friendship. However, I now know that's not the case. Even though we've had a lot in common and could laugh and tease, the brick wall stares me right in the face.

For every friendship lost, though, there is another one to be nurtured, when least expected.

My best friend is my husband...I wonder how many other people feel that way? He has seen me at my worst, my best, and everywhere in between. We got married young and matured and grew up together. This is definitely one friendship that will last a lifetime, and for that I am extremely grateful.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Our cats are so darn smart.

They are bilingual. (We mostly speak to them in English, but occasionally I'll talk to them in the little bit of high school spanish I remember, thank you very much Senora Taylor. I'm trying to get Alex to teach them - and me - some German, but so far he's not cooperating.)

They can tell time.

Ah yes...they really can tell time.

They get their evening meal at 5:00. Around 4:45 or so, they begin their routine of hovering around, meowing occasionally, trying to lead the "feeder of the cats" to the box of Fancy Feast. Pepina especially, will walk in and around my legs, then walk in the direction of her food bowl. She'll stop, turn around to see if I'm following, then urge me forward.

It's truly entertaining to watch.

We have a pretty large clock above our fireplace. (It's 27" in diameter.) When I purchased the clock at the light place when I was selecting light fixtures for the house, the woman asked me if I had a large space to hang the clock. I told her I did. When our electrician brought everything here, he looked at the clock and shook his head. Apparently he also told Ted that I would probably be returning the clock because it was so big. Several weeks after moving in, we got the clock out and just leaned it on the fireplace mantel to see how it would look. Ted thought it was too big, so he took it down. (For the record, HE thought it was too big....I did not.) I purchased another clock somewhere else. It looked big enough at the store, but when I brought it home, it was way too small. Eventually I suggested he put the original clock back up. He did.

That's when he decided that it really wasn't too big after all. I told him that I could see it from the kitchen without my glasses on, so that was good. (I'm slightly near-sighted.)

It was a very involved procedure to get it hung in the exact right spot, but once it was up there, we were good to go.

Although I haven't seen the back of the clock because Ted was in charge of setting it, he told me it was unique. He said after you put the battery in, you punch in the time on the back, then the hands will turn rather quickly on their own until it gets to the desired time. If it takes 5 minutes to get to that time, the clock will add 5 minutes to the time you set it for. I thought that was pretty cool.

It also has another feature. It will automatically fall back an hour in the autumn, and go forward an hour in the spring. The internal workings of the clock are set to do this.

However, there's one little problem. Until last year the weekends of the time change were the last weekend in October and the first weekend in April. That's when our clock automatically changed. Last year, it became the first weekend in November and the second weekend in March. Why someone felt the need to change the dates, I don't know. But they sure didn't bother telling the inner workings of our Howard Miller clock, that's for sure.

Our clock changed last week. It's an absolute BEAR to take down, so we've spent a week looking at a clock with the wrong time. If we had changed it to the right time last Sunday, we would have had to change it again this weekend, and that just isn't feasible with this clock.

In other words, it's been a hour behind all week.

Getting back to our cats now... they have not bothered anyone about their dinner time all week. They look at the clock; they all do. They know when the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 5, it's time to eat. It's never gotten that far all week. According to the big clock, they've been eating at 4:00. Not ONE SINGLE TIME all week have they been chomping at the bit for dinner. In fact, they've looked downright surprised when they've been fed their evening meal.

Our cats are so darn smart.