Monday, March 31, 2008

Little of This, Little of That

Today was our first day back after Spring Break. Needless to say, quite a few people (kids AND staff members) were having a little trouble getting back into the groove.

Several of us are doing DIBELS testing for the next couple of days. DIBELS is an acronym for The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills. DIBELS consists of a small series of short (one minute) tests given to students individually three times a year to check fluency and to monitor the development of pre-reading and early reading skills. We're doing kindergarten, first, and second grades. The second grade is very simple...each child spends one minute reading a short passage, then one minute to retell it. They have three different passages to read. First graders also do that, but they additionally have to spend one minute saying individual sounds of various words AND another minute trying to read nonsense words. Kindergarten has different things to do, but someone else does that grade level, so I don't worry about it. The thing with DIBELS is that it's done three times throughout the year to measure growth. Technically it's to be done two weeks after a major event, in order to be most accurate. We did it two weeks after school started, then about a week and a half after we came back from Christmas Break, BUT we started today, the FIRST day back from Spring Break. I told our curriculum director that I have a concern about the validity of today's sessions because probably 90% of these kids did NOT read over Spring Break. He more or less blew me off. He said if we waited two weeks, we'd be a week out from our OATs (Ohio Achievement Tests). I mentioned just waiting until the end of this week, but he wasn't listening.

Oh well...I'll just do what I'm told.

Wednesday afternoon I'll be leaving from school to head to a professional conference a couple hours away. I am NOT taking my laptop and will not be online until either Friday night or Saturday morning, all depending on when we decide to get home. Yes, Ted is taking a couple of days off to go along with me. I did not want to go to this conference, but I was told that I HAD to go, so off I will go. I do NOT like to drive very far anymore, so he said he'd come along to do the driving. He's got his ipod loaded up (that's the next tidbit) and a new book, so he's ready to go. Now don't get me wrong...I'm perfectly capable of driving that far, and have done it many times in the past. I would do it again in an emergency without any trouble, but I just don't like to. I'm very lucky to be married to a man who will help me out with things like this!

Ted was getting his ipod ready for this little excursion, by loading up more songs. He thought that he had downloaded a bunch, then went off to the bedroom to relax in the recliner in peace and quiet and listen to his newest songs.

All of a sudden I heard him getting upset. He came out to the living room and told me that everything on his ipod had disappeared!! He said it was completely empty! He was NOT a happy camper.

I asked him if they were still in the itunes library on the computer and he checked and said they were. Then I told him to do what any sensible person would do: call someone from a younger generation to help! He called our niece, because Alex wasn't around. At first she sort of chuckled, then said that it had happened to her once and she just had to download them all again.

And that's what he did. He was just relieved that it could all be easily done. Then he found some other things to download from itunes. He got a couple of episodes from the cartoon "Huckleberry Hound," and another couple of episodes of "Jonny Quest." He was like a kid in a candy store after that. Last night I was trying to do a sudoku puzzle and he was laying on the bed, just laughing away at "Huckleberry Hound."

Neither one of us knew that those kinds of things were available at itunes.

I'm planning on a special post tomorrow since I won't be here on Wednesday. I probably won't get it posted until sometime tomorrow evening. It will most likely be one of the last things I do before I go to bed.

It has to do with a special day in my son's life. I'm just not going to tell you which son....yet!

It's time to DE-LURK everyone!

I would just LOVE it if everyone who is a lurker at this site would leave a short message in the comment section, telling me where they're from and if you don't know me in "real life" how you came across "Another Day in the Life."

You don't need to give me your life story...unless you WANT to!

If you don't have a blogger/google account, you can click on "Anonymous" and just include your name at the end of your comment

That's it for now....Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, March 28, 2008

I Actually Made Homemade Pasta!

Okay, so I've had a machine for quite a few years, but just never went to the trouble and the mess of making the pasta myself. I used to watch my Grandma make it and always thought it was a lot of work and mess, but she never once complained about it.

Well, it's STILL a lot of work and a lot of mess! I made it yesterday, and even took pictures to show you.

First, I got out the eggs, the flour, and the good old Kitchen Aid mixer. It's basically one egg to one cup of flour, as per Grandma's recipe. HOWEVER, it took me a little while to remember that she had an egg man who delivered fresh eggs to her house once or twice a week, and they were gigantic!

I cracked four eggs into a bowl, and beat them a little bit with a fork.

I'm right handed, and it wasn't easy beating eggs with my right hand while taking a picture with my left hand, but I somehow managed to do it!

Then I poured the eggs into the bowl for the mixer.

I only put the mixer on Speed 2, as I didn't want flour flying all over the kitchen. I added the four cups of flour one cup at a time.

So this is what it looked like, and I just kept mixing it and mixing it, but it still didn't do the trick. That's when I realized that because she used humungous eggs and I was just using large eggs, I should add another egg. And I did.

That's when it finally formed a ball, like it was supposed to. (thank goodness!)

After that, I kneaded it for just about a minute on a floured cutting board, then put a little bit of oil in the bowl, rolled the dough around in the oil, to get all the edges of it covered.

Then, because this is how Grandma did it, I put it on a plate and covered it with the bowl. A lot of recipes will tell you to wrap it in plastic wrap, but plastic wrap absolutely drives me NUTS!! It gets all clingy and you can never get it apart and it sticks to itself, and it's just not worth the trouble.

Then I let the dough rest for about half an hour or so.

After that, I uncovered it, cut off a section of it, and flattened it out a little. Then I dusted it with flour and began running it through the pasta machine.

This is where it got a little messy, as you can see. The machine has 7 settings for thickness and I ran it through each setting twice. Occasionally it would start to stick to the rollers, so I had to unroll it, dust it with more flour, then do it again.

I started at setting 7, then worked my way down to setting 2. I just wasn't comfortable going down to setting 1. Did it make a difference? I don't know...but I really didn't want it any thinner. I did the same thing to each section of dough, and then cut the sections in half before going on to the next step. I didn't think it was necessary to have strands of pasta over 2 feet long!

Then I put on the cutting attachment. It only gave me two choices: spaghetti or fettucini. I prefer fettucini. Most of my family doesn't really care all that much, so since I was the one making it, I went with what I preferred.

(And for the record, I really don't like this cheap pasta machine. The attachment kept sliding off and I really would like a couple more choices for pasta width. I have an attachment that hooks onto my mixer, but I just didn't want to get it out and try it yesterday. I got this one through Amazon and only paid about $13 or $14 for it at least 5 years ago.)

After it's cut, the pasta needs to go on a lint free cloth, so I just used a clean pillowcase. It served the purpose.

At this point, I could either cook it immediately, or let it dry out so it could be used at some point in the future.

I chose to cook it.

At this point I need to add that Alex was a huge help in this process. He was in charge of thawing out the frozen homemade sauce and meatballs, and heating it up. He also got the pot of water boiling for the pasta, and set the table. Oh yeah, and he made the salad too.

It only took about 4 or 5 minutes to cook, and I had forgotten how much it "swelled up" when cooking.

By the time it was finished, we were all hungry and started to eat, and I forgot to take a picture until Alex was on his second bowl.

(You can see how totally informal we are at dinner...the sauce and meatballs were served in the pot that they were heated up in, and the pasta was drained, then returned to the pot it was cooked in. I see no need in dirtying up any more "things" than necessary!)

Ted thought it was great too!

I'm sure I'll do it again sometime, but probably not until summer vacation. Cleaning up afterwards was pretty time consuming and that's not how I like to spend my school nights.

Anyway, it tasted GREAT! If I can do it, anyone can do it!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Couple of Commercials

Let me start off by saying that I am most definitely not a television commercial aficionado, nor an expert by any means. Nor was I a marketing major in college, so therefore I know very little about the advertising field. However there are a couple of television commercials that I really really like.

Cadillac. When I was growing up, the Cadillac was the symbol of success and power. We didn't know many people that owned a Cadillac, but I saw a few around town. When I met Ted, his dad had recently purchased a Cadillac Eldorado in a beautiful shade that reminded me of deerskin. It was gorgeous...and HUGE. I wondered how difficult it would be to parallel park that thing. There were a few times that we went places with his parents and I got to ride in the backseat and it was absolutely wonderful...the luxurious leather seats, the massive leg room, just the overall feeling of riding in a "top of the line" vehicle.

Recently a commercial has been airing featuring the actress Kate Walsh. I liked her work in "Grey's Anatomy" and also in her new show "Private Practice." In the commercial, I like how they show her driving the new Cadillac CTS in a tunnel. It's dark, but you can see the lights inside the tunnel reflecting off the car, and flashing inside the vehicle, ever so lightly. They show her in a dress, with her sleek arms and hands extended to reach the steering wheel, and they show her from several different angles. (I also happen to really like most red cars, depending on the shade of red, so it doesn't hurt that the Caddy in this particular ad happens to be red.) They also happen to film her looking away from the street, at the camera, during the most dramatic part of the ad, or at least what I consider the most dramatic part.

Kate's voice is perfect for this commercial. The first time I happened to see it on TV, I was actually thinking to myself, "This is a pretty good commercial," as she mentions the different features of the car, but in a way that makes you realize that although those things are very nice, there's something better yet to come...and in my opinion, there was.

"The real question is, when you turn your car on, does it return the favor."

I feel that the marketing people who came up with this, not only appealed to the male audience, but the female audience as well, which was a very good idea, since these days, there are more and more women who are making a LOT of money and are purchasing luxury vehicles.

Yep, I like this commercial.

Ford. The Ford Edge commercial that I really like also takes place at night. You see five young, hip people inside the car, and one girl in the backseat is looking up through the extended sun roof of the car. The soothing music is playing as she is taking in the sights of a large city. (New York City, perhaps?) They go past a cathedral and the lines of the building really stand out and she appears to be in awe of not only the church, but all that she sees as they drive past. The car appears to be moving in slow motion.

Without realizing what is going on around her, the car phone rings, and noticing that she is alone in the vehicle, she reaches into the front to press something on the touchscreen and answers. She says "hello?" with such a sweet, innocent, wondering voice, as though she can't believe where she is.

The car is parked in front of a small restaurant, and the rest of her group is waiting to go inside. One of the guys asks her if they should get her something "to go." She seems a little embarrassed at the fact that she was off in her own little world, admiring the city from the view up above.

The casting of this commercial was great. I think they got the perfect actress to play that role. I really like the commercial.

Now the big question is this...will either commercial lead me toward a dealership to look at either a new Cadillac CTS or a Ford Edge?

Nah...I'm perfectly happy with my Chevy Trailblazer.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I am NOT Happy With Our Accountant

We got a call last week saying our taxes were ready and we would be getting a refund from the federal government...YEAH!!

However, included with all of our tax stuff was a bill! And we were not expecting that.

Several years ago when Ted's dad was very ill, Ted's brother Tim contacted an accountant to take care of the farm books. No problem. It had to be done and we all knew that. None of us were "informed" enough to be able to take care of that kind of stuff in addition to taking care of what we each had going on in our lives, and spending time at the hospital with my father-in-law.

After Ted's dad passed away, our attorney strongly suggested that we keep the accountant for a while, as the estate was going to be pretty complicated. Okay, that was a great idea. So we kept him.

The estate took a couple of years to settle, and we decided to sell some land. Due to appraisals of this, that, and everything else, our accountant became very knowledgeable with our case. We also have a realtor involved due to the selling of the land. About 2/3 of the land has been sold off so far, but due to the complexities of the situation we were advised to retain our accountant.

Since there was so much involved in this whole situation, there were several "things" that would be covered by the fees charged by both the attorney and the accountant. We have been absolutely thrilled with the attorney...he has called us on the weekends just to check on things, and has encouraged us to call him at any time of the day or night with any questions. Tim called him one Sunday evening from our house to check on the validity of a formal document we were supposed to sign. Everyone's name was typed and we were to each sign below it. All of their formal names were used, except mine. They also had my "nickname" spelled incorrectly. Our attorney was glad that we had called, as someone else in his office had typed the paper and obviously made a few mistakes.

Our attorney also told all six of us that we needed to have updated wills, based on the inheritances from the estate, and he included that. And took care of it in a very timely fashion.

However, our accountant has done a few things that I'm not too happy about. He was going to do our taxes for several years at no additional charge. He was so familiar with the situation that we thought it was a good idea. He had told us that the first year he did them, we were all going to get hammered due to all the land and the estate and the value of property, etc. He gave each of us a ballpark figure that we would end up owing the government.

I had been off work because of my bout with colon cancer, and recovering from the surgeries. I had run out of sick days a little over 5 months earlier, and therefore had no income. Additionally, since I had no income from the school system, I was required to pay my own insurance. My insurance is absolutely wonderful, and covered soooooooo much of all of my cancer stuff, BUT it was costing us almost $1000 a MONTH.

So the five figure "ballpark" amount that we were going to end up owing the government was weighing heavy on my mind. I called the accountant several times between the beginning of February and the beginning of April to find out what the exact amount was going to be. He always said "he was working on it" and would get back to me as soon as it was done.

Just a few days before the deadline, Mr. Accountant called. "Hey Cindi...I've had your taxes done for a few days, but was afraid to call you "

"Just tell me how much we owe."

He cleared his throat and started off with a comment about the land, telling me that we were paying taxes on the land now, but when it was sold, we wouldn't be paying them.


He mentioned a figure that was DOUBLE what the "ballpark" figure was!

At first I was in shock. Then I said, "You can't get blood from a turnip. I'm not working and I'm paying my own insurance AND we're making two house payments right now." (We had just moved into the new home we'd had built and our old house had just gone on the market the week before, but wasn't yet sold.)

"You'll need to file an extension for us. We were prepared to pay what you told us earlier, but not double that amount."

Then I asked him how on earth it could happen that the exact figure would be double what he thought it might be. He told me that he had only given us a ballpark figure and that there were a lot of things that he hadn't figured in.


He filed the extension, and we paid the rest of what we owed a few months later.

Then last year...way too long of a story, but I wasn't happy with him again.

But at least we didn't have a separate bill to pay to have our taxes done.

Now this year...yes, we're getting money back, thank goodness, but to include a huge bill in the packet? Without giving us any notice that we were now going to be receiving a bill for his services? We were under the impression that he would be doing our taxes without any additional charges until the rest of the land sold.

Apparently that's not the case. But wouldn't you at least notify a client that there will be separate charges a little bit ahead of time?? Not just include it??

I can't wait until all this land is sold and we can go back to our old tax guy. He's fabulous.

I know I've rambled on and on about this, but I'm mad and I may just have to call this accountant and give him a piece of my mind.


Monday, March 24, 2008

A Much Better Day and Ramblings

Late yesterday afternoon, I sort of had a meltdown about this whole Easter thing. I basically need to get a grip on reality, and I realize that.

This is 2008, not back in the 60s and 70s when things were just different. I'd been thinking a lot about my Grandma too, and even though she's been gone for over 10 years, I miss her like crazy.

One of the smartest things I ever did was tape record a conversation with her in the late 1980s, after Joey was born, but before Alex came along. She was kind of quiet at first, but eventually was a little more talkative. I guess none of us really enjoy talking into a tape recorder. I haven't listened to that tape since right after she died, and I have a feeling that if I were to listen to it right now, it would sort of put me over the edge. However, I do plan on listening to it sometime this summer.

So today I'm trying to do a few things around the house since I'm on spring break. I cleaned all the kitchen counters, and we have quite a few. Several of them are sort of small, but a couple are good size, and then there's a bar area that is pretty L O N G. I've also been doing laundry, trying to get caught up on that, and I swept and mopped the laundry room floor.

As usual I have big plans for the week, but I don't know how much I'll get accomplished. It always seems to go that way.

I'm a list-maker. I derive great pleasure in crossing things off my list. It makes me feel as though I've really accomplished something. I used to get all organized and keep a little notebook, with the date at the top of the page and the list of things to do that day. I would skip lines and leave an extra space on the left side. Maybe I need to get a life.

I'm so freaking proud of Joey. He will be turning 21 in a little over a week, and he has made some very adult decisions lately. That thrills me beyond belief. What a great kid, I mean MAN, we've raised!

When I hear Alex in the kitchen, I tend to cringe, especially after it's been cleaned. He's not exactly the neatest person in the world, and has a strong tendency to not see the mess he's made, so therefore, can't clean it up. He just made a late lunch for himself, and I'm working up the nerve to walk through the kitchen on my way to the laundry room to fold a load of whites.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

I had a lot I wanted to say today, about Easter. However, for some reason, I've been struggling a little bit emotionally...because of Easter. I'm one of those people that tend to "live in the past" when it comes to good memories, and sometimes I have a hard time accepting that this is TODAY and not YESTERDAY.

Today is one of those days....I have so many pleasant, wonderful memories of Easters past, and it's just hard to accept that things are different now.
Not that they're bad, but just different.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Yet Another NASCAR Post (Thank You Kyle Petty!!)

Last weekend Ted and Alex went to Bristol, Tennessee for a NASCAR weekend. Even though it rained Friday and Saturday, they had a great time. They called me at least FIVE times from the time I got home from school on Friday until they got back to the hotel and went to bed that evening. How did we ever function before cell phones??

One of the highlights of the entire weekend for Alex occurred Friday. He was able to get a few autographs and he was absolutely THRILLED!!! He likes Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Alex had to get a new hat because Jr. switched teams for this year, and that's what he asked people to sign.

As I've said before, being a role model comes along with the territory of being a race car driver. And something that we all should remember is that our actions are a direct reflection of how we were raised.

For instance, back in 2002 I was able to get the autograph of a NASCAR driver. He was sitting at his souvenir trailer the morning of the Busch race, signing things for people. I was next in line, and as I approached him, I very nicely asked for his autograph. He wouldn't even look at me, but was talking to someone else while he signed. As he finished and shoved the program back in my face, I thanked him for his time and wished him luck in Sunday's race. He never even acknowledged me. Not a glance, not a "you're welcome", not a "thank you", nothing at all.


As I walked away I told Ted that I would never EVER even cross the street to see that man again. I have bad-mouthed him wherever I could. But the thing that makes me madder than anything is that he has made his parents look bad. Surely they didn't raise him to be rude intentionally. It would have taken him less than a second to glance at me and smile. He probably doesn't even realize that he has alienated at least one fan, and quite possibly hundreds more, if that's how he normally acts at autograph signings. He hasn't done too well in the sport in the last few years, and the vindictive side of me continually says, "That's what he gets!"

Anyway, to get back to last Friday, the first autograph that Alex got was Mike Helton's. Mike is the president of NASCAR and obviously knows how to treat the fans of the sport. He was very nice to Alex, looked him in the eye and smiled and nodded when Alex thanked him. Now THAT is how you treat someone.
Mike Helton

The others he got were also nice, but the one person who made quite an impression on Alex, in addition to Ted, was....

Kyle Petty.

The Pettys are one of the most famous families in NASCAR, with four generations.

The late Lee Petty was one of the pioneers of NASCAR and drove in the 1950s and 60s.

Lee Petty

His son, Richard Petty, is NASCAR's all-time race winner and seven time Cup champion, and raced from 158-1992.

Richard Petty

Richard's son, Kyle Petty, started in NASCAR in 1979 and is still racing.

Kyle Petty

Kyle's son, Adam Petty, ran his first NASCAR race in 1998 but was sadly killed in the spring of 2000 while practicing for a Busch race at New Hampshire International Speedway.

Adam Petty

Kyle Petty made a point of coming out to talk to the fans and sign autographs. He took his time while doing it and made a HUGE impression on everyone who saw him. Ted said he saw Kyle reach into his pocket and take out his blackberry, look at it for a second, then put it away, and go right back to signing autographs. He stayed and signed for quite a while.

Obviously Richard and his wife Linda raised Kyle properly...and taught him to appreciate what he has. What he did for my son that day has gone way beyond just simply signing a hat. And as a mother, that means so very much to me.

I've mentioned before that Joe Gibbs left a terrific impression on me when he waved to us at Bristol, and at his shop in Huntersville, NC, ( ) and now we can add Kyle Petty to that list. Alex was even able to get a picture of him, although it was a little blurry.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there was another rude driver who looked at Alex, then just walked away when Alex asked him for an autograph...he never even said anything. I liked this driver too...until that happened. Now he's been moved to the Rude List.

All in all, they had a wonderful time and it was a great bonding weekend for them.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Break Has Now Begun

Although it's a little early this year, it's time for spring break. Unfortunately, the weather department wasn't notified. It's supposed to be a little on the cold side (upper 30s) and rain and even snow are possible for the next 5 days or so. We've got some pretty nasty flooding about 15 minutes north of us, so we could definitely do without the rain. Our nearby dams were pushed to the limit back in 2005, and it looks like it's happening again.

Back when I was in junior high school, I remember one particular spring break. Several of us in the neighborhood would listen to a lot of music and just hang out together. It was sunny and warm enough to not wear jackets outside. Most of the girls were a year older than me, so they were definitely much more mature than I was at the time! Our local movie theater just happened to be showing the movie "Love Story" with Ali McGraw and Ryan O'Neal. Unfortunately my mom had seen the television commercials for the film and told me that I was NOT allowed to go see it.

Hmmm...that presented a challenge for me. The girls in the neighborhood decided one late afternoon that they would go see the movie that evening, at the early showing. We all tried to figure out a way that I could go with them. As luck would have it, my mom needed to go somewhere that evening and my dad was home with my younger brother. I was at one of the girl's homes and called dad to ask him if I could go to a movie with the girls. (Of course dad was completely unaware of the fact that mom had said I wasn't allowed to see this movie!)

Dad said that would be fine, and asked how we would get there. One of the girls in the group had an older sister who was going to take us because she wanted to see the movie too. All I had to do was stop at home and get some money from dear old dad.

Now to be perfectly honest, on the way to the theater I felt just a little twinge of guilt at the fast one I had just pulled. But not enough guilt to change my mind. I mean afterall, I was about to head on over to "the wild side" and see a my first adult-themed movie.

As I recall there were about 5 or 6 of us there, and by the time the movie was over, we were all in tears. It wasn't just tears flowing down our cheeks, but actual sobbing. We left the theater in silence and when we got out to the car, we all looked at each other and then burst out laughing at seeing each other crying so hard.
Now you would think that such a life changing event for me would be such a big deal that I would remember everyone who was there, but the truth of the matter is, I can only recall three others for sure, but have a strong feeling about at least one more, and I think there was another one, but can't come up with who it would be.

To this day when I see that "Love Story" is on television, I usually watch it, or at least part of it. And it still brings me to tears.

"Love means never having to say you're sorry" really sticks with me, along with the fact that the character of Jennifer called her dad by his first name, "Phil." And then there was the opening line: "What can you say about a twenty-five year old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant. That she loved Mozart and Bach. The Beatles. And me."

I'm tearing up, just thinking about it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cindi and Ted, Chapter Eight

The dark blue, velvet box stayed under my pillow all night long. Since about 5th grade I've always worn a ring on the ring finger of my left hand, so I had on a different ring throughout the night and when we went to church that next morning.

To say that I had a difficult time paying attention to the priest was an understatement. I kept thinking about how I was going to tell my parents this news. They treated Ted well, so I assumed they liked him. But maybe they really didn't, and it was just a front. Hmmmm... Then there was the fact that we were young. I was 20, and Ted was just a few weeks shy of his 20th birthday. Well, the worst thing they could say is that they didn't think it was a good idea, so it was time to tell them.

I had a feeling it would be easier if I told them one at a time.

After church, my mom would always start cooking Sunday dinner. We usually ate around 12:30, so I knew that she was in the kitchen cooking. I also knew that my dad and younger brother were outside doing something or another.

I took the box and went into the kitchen. I took a deep breath, and said, "Look at what Ted gave me last night," and waited for her to say something.

"That's really better go tell your dad."


Was there something more to this? I don't really know what I expected her to say, but I don't think that was quite it. I was wondering why she said it that way. Of course I was slightly paranoid and was probably reading things into her comments.

I went out the back door and found my dad and brother. Again I opened the box and said, "Look at what Ted gave me last night."

No comment from dad.

However, my brother spoke up immediately.

"So when are you moving out?"

He was 16 years old and saw this as a way to take over my bedroom, since it was bigger than his.

Finally my dad said, "That's nice."

I went back inside and took the ring box back to my bedroom and put it on my dresser. I left it there while we ate dinner and NO ONE said a word about it during the entire meal. Afterwards, while my mom and I were cleaning up, she asked if we had a date in mind and I said that it wouldn't be until after I was finished with college, and she seemed to be very relieved about that. Then she said that I should put the ring on. I told her I would when I got ready for him to pick me up to take me back to college.

I heard him come in an hour or so later and I heard my dad say, "Welcome to the family Ted" and that made me feel soooooooooo good.

We were officially engaged!

Now that my parents knew, and seemed to have approved, the question was with Ted's family. As we left the house with my stuff loaded up, he told me that he hadn't told his parents yet. His parents had divorced a couple of years earlier so that meant telling them separately. Ted was living with his dad on the family farm, and his mother had an apartment in town. He said that he would tell his dad that night after he got home from taking me back to school, but we were going to stop and tell his mom before we left town.

She was VERY excited for us! She wanted to know if she could tell people and we told her that it would be fine, but to also tell them that we didn't have a date yet.

When we left there and went to school, we talked about the date on the way. We knew that we wanted it to definitely be after I was done with college, and during the summer so as not to interfere with a teaching job I might have.

We didn't want it to be in August...too hot. We didn't want it to be in July...that's the month of my birthday and that was enough for that month. That left June. June would be a fine month for a wedding.

When we got to my apartment at school, we found a calendar for the following year and looked at Saturdays in June. I have a thing about even numbers, so right away June 7 and June 21 were out. That left June 14 and June 28. We decided we would rather have it in mid June than late June, so it was decided that we would get married on Flag Day, June 14.

The following weekend we told everyone the date of the wedding, and then just relaxed. Back then you didn't need to start planning a wedding a year in advance like you do now, so we weren't too worried about things. The main goal was for me to finish college and try to find a teaching job somewhere near home.

Fortunately everyone was very happy for us. In retrospect, we were surprised that NO ONE tried to talk us into waiting for several years because we were rather young. By the date we had picked out, we would both be 21, but that's still a little on the young side for getting married.

I began looking at some bridal magazines, trying to get some ideas. I had a little notebook that I wrote a lot of things down in. Since we didn't have the internet available at that time, most ideas came from either talking to people or magazines. I liked looking at the advertisements in the back of the bridal magazines and sent for quite a few catalogs. We would look over things together and make some decisions, only to change them within a matter of days.

The one thing I did right after we selected the date was to call my church and reserve it for that day. It was a good thing I did, because not too much later someone else in the congregation had selected the same date, but because we were first, they had to work around our schedule. We had scheduled the wedding for the middle of the afternoon, so they had to use it in the morning.

That was it for the plans...until the fall.

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bristol Bound

Ted and Alex are leaving early Friday morning to head to Bristol, Tennessee for this weekend's NASCAR races. They will be there for qualifying on Friday afternoon, the Nationwide Series race on Saturday, and the Sprint Cup race on Sunday. Then they'll leave very early Sunday morning to head home.

They did this last year and had an absolute blast! Ted and I did it a few times, but because my knees are so bad these days, I'm passing my seat on to Alex.

Tickets for this event are extremely difficult to get. Supposedly Bristol tickets are the hardest tickets to get in all of NASCAR, but I'm lucky enough to have them. We started out about 9 or so years ago, buying them off of a guy I grew up with who happened to own a gas station which sold the same brand fuel as NASCAR. In other words...he had connections! We bought our Cup tickets from him, but I got the Saturday race tickets in my own name. Those are fairly easy to get because it's not quite as popular as the Sunday race. When the racetrack decided to expand, they notified all ticketholders and I was able to buy 2 tickets for each event IN MY OWN NAME! They have a race weekend in the spring, and then again in August. In August, the races are at night and I would love to see them, but they are always held right after school has started and I can't get away then. Someday, though, it will work out.

Once when Ted and I went we hung out with other fans close to where the drivers, owners, crew chiefs, etc. all went into the track. Most were on golf carts, being driven around. We would all yell at them, hoping they would wave or acknowledge us as fans. HOWEVER, the only person who would smile and wave at us was Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing, and former head football coach of the Washington Redskins. I actually got to meet him a year or so later at his race shop in Huntersville, North Carolina.

WHAT A WONDERFUL MAN!! You can read a little about him here

Anyway, Ted and Alex are hoping that they may be able to wave at Joe again, or someone else. I know they'll have a great time.

Joey and I will have a great time here at home too. I think we both have some plans for the weekend, and although I love Ted and Alex with all my heart, when they are gone for a weekend, everything stays where it's supposed to be, and if anything is gotten out, it's put away. (The main culprit is Alexander!)

So although we'll miss them, we know they'll have a great time!

Monday, March 10, 2008

An Actual LETTER

When was the last time you received a letter in the mail? I mean a real, personalized, only written to you, and by hand LETTER? Well...I got one last week!

Terre, a frequent reader of this space, sent me a card with a letter written in it last week. When I got the mail, I saw an actual hand-written envelope and was so excited to see that it was FOR ME!

I didn't want to open it until I was completely comfortable and relaxed, so I could savor each and every second of reading it slowly. I walked into the house, put my purse, lunch bag, and school bag down in their proper places, laid the mail on the counter, then hung up my coat. I glanced through the rest of the mail, then put it in the basket that we keep incoming mail in (until we put it all where it goes....bills together, magazines together, catalogs together, junk in the trash).

THEN...I took Terre's card/letter into the living room with me, and sat down in the recliner to read it. It was WONDERFUL! A very pretty card, and two sheets of note paper, filled with her handwritten words...and all for ME!

Long ago I came to the conclusion that letter writing is becoming a lost art. With the speed and ease of email, texting, and yes, cell phones, not too many people actually write letters anymore. Me included.

However, that will change. At least that's my plan. Well, at least I'll try to change!

Thank you for your letter was a wonderful surprise, and made me feel sooooooo important! I'll be getting back to you really soon! I promise!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Happy Birthday Pepina!

Yesterday was Pepina's second birthday. We celebrated her first birthday with a cake and family, but this year, we kept it low-key, hahaha! Of course the snowfall would have cancelled anything that we had planned anyway.

We adopted Pepina from our local cat shelter on May 2, 2006. I had been off that entire school year to that point, due to my cancer, but was returning the next day for the final month. (It's a long story, but I had to go back for insurance purposes and to begin accumulating sick days again.)

Anyway, we had talked about adopting a kitten for a while, but no one else knew that it was going to be that day except me. Alex and I had stopped by a local menswear shop to pick up the suit we had purchased for him for our niece's upcoming wedding. As we left the shop, Alex commented that we weren't heading home. All I told him was that I realized that. He had no idea where we were going until I pulled up at the cat shelter.

I knew that they had 3 calico kittens as of the previous weekend, and my only requirement with a kitten was that it was female and a calico. Yes, I know that 99.9% of all calicos are female, but with my luck I would run into that .1% that wasn't!

When we got there, they only had one calico kitten left, and she was as cute as a button. They told me that she was about 10 weeks old, and she really "took" to us, so we adopted her.

On the way home, Alex was so sweet...he sat in the car, holding the box, talking to Pepina. I recall him saying in a soft voice as he petted her, "Hi Pepina...I'm Alex. Let me tell you a little about myself." And he went on.

Here she is at eight weeks old, the day after we adopted her.

When we got home, Ted looked at her, then looked at me. Later on when the kids weren't around he commented that he didn't know I was going to get a kitten that day and was I sure she was healthy?

To say that Ted became attached right away was an understatement. We had her food and litter box set up in the laundry room and put an old baby gate up at the doorway. We didn't want her wandering around the house when we couldn't be right there with her. That first night Ted was so worried about her that he slept on the couch, and got up every hour or so to go check on her. He said that each time he shined the flashlight in the laundry room, she was just sitting there, staring at him.

In the morning I noticed that her one eye was a little swollen and she had a lot of "gunk" in that eye. I went to work, and as soon as I had a free minute, I called the local vet's office and made an appointment for Pepina late that afternoon.

Well...we sure got our eyes opened at that appointment!

First of all, Dr. Dale said that she was only about 8 weeks old, not 10. Secondly, she had a respiratory infection, and needed antibiotics and eye ointment. Thirdly, she had ringworm and we were going to have to give her a bath every two weeks with special shampoo. He said that she wasn't very healthy, and we were not to pick the "crud" off her would come off by itself. She only weighed a little over a pound, but was still cute as could be. She hadn't eaten or gone potty in the 24 hours we had her, so he also gave us some special food for her to try.

We came home with all this stuff, and Alex immediately disappeared into his bedroom. Once we got all settled with Pepina, I made dinner. Ted went to get Alex and he was too upset to even come out to eat. He was really worried about Pepina.

Within the next 24 hours she began to eat, and go potty, and her infection started to improve. By the time we went back to Dr. Dale she had almost doubled her weight and was doing quite well. He told us that he hadn't even been completely sure that she would make it, but was quite impressed with her progress.

She was about 3 months old and had gotten into my closet when I was getting something out. She made herself at home!

Participating in one of her favorite pastimes!

In addition to sleeping on the chair, she likes to sleep on people too!

However, she's not too crazy about getting a bath, and yes, we bathe her every few months.

She just had to show us her climbing skills!
She's enjoying a piece of cake from her first birthday!

Joey loves to hold her...he calls her "Cat"!

Since then she has been such a wonderful addition to our family. After her first weekend with us, I commented that I hadn't laughed so much in years.
She is such a sweetheart!

What a Difference a Day Makes

It's still cold here (25 degrees), but the sun is out and it's NOT snowing! Ted was trying to use the snowblade on our John Deere lawn tractor, but the snow and the ice underneath it was just way too much. Instead, he tried to dig us out with a snow shovel. We have a pretty wide driveway up near the house...enough for five vehicles. The rest of the driveway out to the road is about 80 feet long, and wide enough for one vehicle.

Unfortunately, it's not going to get shoveled out any time soon. Ted still isn't completely over his bronchitis, so he can only do a little bit at a time. Right now he's come in for a rest. He's hoping that the sunshine will help melt things a little. With what I see out there right now, I have no idea HOW ON EARTH any of us will be able to get out of here tomorrow!

Ted's work truck is parked in the garage and it's heavy enough that he might be able to make it out. He was able to get out the Trailblazer that I use, but it's doubtful that it will make it down the driveway to the road. The boys' cars are both parked in the driveway and still snow and ice covered and have snow and ice all around them. Both cars are a little on the small side, so I just don't know how they'll be able to back out over the accumulation. This should be very interesting, to say the least!

Anyway, we're just relieved that the snow has stopped (at least for now, although a little more is forecast for tomorrow) and the sun is out!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

We've Got Snow

Yesterday our school was dismissed at 1:00 pm, due to the continual and accumulating snowfall. We knew that snow was coming, but I think it accumulated a little faster than most of us thought it would.

It settled down and we got a break in the snow last night. During the night, however, the weirdest thing happened.

It began to THUNDER! Just in case there was any doubt in my mind as to what that sound was, I heard it a second time...and a third time. As I was lying there thinking about how it just could NOT have possibly been thunder, it hit me. was the snow plow going down the road, and then he turned around and came back and did it a couple more times.

Satisfied with that explanation, I tried to go back to sleep, but couldn't. Ted woke up as another clap of thunder sounded. This time there was no mistaking what it was. Yes it was THUNDER. We were talking about how weird it was, then saw lightning, heard thunder, watched the entire room fill up with light from another bolt of lightning, and heard thunder once again. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it for myself. This morning, Alex said that the thunder and lightning woke him up, so it wasn't just Ted and me.

When I got up this morning, I checked the Weather Bug on my computer and our high temp during the night was 28 degrees, so it certainly hadn't been raining. Can thunder and lightning occur during snow??

So anyway, a little while ago I went out on the front porch and took a few pictures.

Then I went to the french door off of our bedroom and you could see how the snow had blown in through the screen. I took a couple of shots of the pool and back patio too.

Just as I finished taking a picture of the patio, Pepina decided to run between my legs and went out on the steps.
Pepina and Marina are INDOOR cats, but Pepina thought it looked mighty interesting out there, so she had to investigate.

She stood there, still as could be, and I told her to come in. She wouldn't MOVE, but then I heard this pathetic sounding "meow", then another "meow", and finally a big "MEOW".

So after I took a picture (of course!), I stepped outside to pick her up and bring her back in. She was shivering from the cold and snow. I immediately shut the door, and there was Marina, standing there, acting like she was waiting her turn, and I just told her, "Don't get any big ideas!"
What a way for Pepina to celebrate her birthday!!

Valerie Bertinelli

Valerie Bertinelli has written a "tell-all" memoir entitled Losing It: And Gaining My Life Back One Pound At A Time. I haven't read it yet, but it will supposedly discuss her time on the sitcom "One Day at a Time" in addition to her Jenny Craig weight loss, her depression (I had never heard about that before) and of course, her marriage to Eddie Van Halen, the famous rock guitarist.
I absolutely ADORED her in "One Day at a Time" (more about that later on), and watched her in just about every made-for-TV movie she was in, including The Promise of Love (about a woman who gave up college to marry her Marine boyfriend and then became a widow after he was sent to Vietnam), The Seduction of Gina (about a young, recently married woman who is bored and discovers, then becomes obsessed with blackjack, and tries to hide it from her husband), and Shattered Vows (about a girl who becomes a nun at the age of 16, then can't get used to the strict rules and when she falls in love with a priest, wants to withdraw her vow). There were so many others, but these stand out in my mind.

Valerie has always seemed to be the cutesy, girl-next-door type. She has that darling smile, a bubbly personality, and is always so...perky, for lack of a better term. When it was announced that she was marrying Eddie Van Halen, I was surprised. Although he is a very talented guitarist, he was NOT who I had in mind for sweet Valerie. However, it was not my call to make, so I just accepted it.I wondered if it would last. I just couldn't imagine her not marrying for love and expecting it to be a life long commitment. I remember seeing her on an episode of the Merv Griffin Show many years ago, and he asked her about the rumors surrounding her marriage (that it was on the rocks and Eddie was having affairs with other women). She looked Merv right in the eye when she said she knew that none of the rumors were true and that SHE was the one he went to bed with every night. Then I wondered if they would ever have children. After ten years of being married, their son was born. When I found out he was named Wolfgang (Wolfie), I wondered if she lost her mind. I was surprised that they never had any more children, but that wasn't my call to make.

I was NOT surprised, however, when they eventually separated and divorced. She's been involved with Tom Vitale for almost 4 years now, and I just hope she's happy with him.

As the press for the book has come out, I was surprised to find out that she had dated Steven Spielberg before she became involved with Eddie. I was also surprised to find out that she has suffered with depression. But I was REALLY surprised when I found out that she and Eddie had both been unfaithful. Of course, also included in her book is her weight loss story with Jenny Craig. I'm very happy for her. She seems to be doing well on all fronts right now, and I'm glad about that.

Back in the summer of 1976 I spent about three weeks in southern California. I stayed with my aunt and she made sure that I experienced a LOT while I was there. One of the things we did was see a taping of "One Day at a Time" and it was great! The tickets were free, but if you wanted to get in to see a show, you had to get in line EARLY. We got there about 3 hours before we would even be let into the studio. There was one woman in line ahead of us and we sat on the concrete patio and talked to pass the time. She had gone to see many tapings and told us "what was what" as far as actually getting in the door. If you had a ticket like we had, then you just got there early, waited in line, and hoped for the best. There was a second line with "regular" people that was next to our line. Those were people who had tried to get into other shows and didn't make it, so they were given tickets that were a different color for the taping we were waiting for. They would be seated before us. If all the seats were taken by the time they were all seated, none of us would get in. I kept watching that line, thinking that we should surely make it in...there weren't all THAT many people in the line. Unfortunately they didn't really have the need to get in line extremely early like we did.

Then just a short while before they were to start letting us in, a third line was forming, and it was a little further away. The woman in front of us told us that that was the VIP line, for special guests of the stars or others involved in the show. Great. Just Great. I was still hoping we'd get in, but that VIP line was getting a little long, in my opinion.

Then I recognized two guys in the VIP line...Andy and David Williams. They are the twin nephews of Andy Williams, the singer. Way back then, "The Andy Williams Show" was a variety show that had a pretty big following. His nephews sang on his show several times and I'd seen them. They were about my age, and when you're a teenager, you seem to notice people your own age (at least way back then!). I decided that they were there as Valerie's guests. were sitting there on the patio, waiting in the hot sun, the door that was about 3 feet away opened up, and Valerie Bertinelli herself looked out! She looked right at ME, smiled a huge smile, and said "Hi!", then glanced over at the VIP line, saw the Williams Twins, and waved at them. Then she stepped back inside and the door closed.

She was even cuter than she was on television...and she said "Hi!"...TO ME!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Alex's First Election

Yesterday was Primary Election Day here in Ohio. As I've stated before, Ted and I both feel that voting is NOT just a privilege or a right; it's a DUTY, and we take it very seriously.

Joey went to vote in the afternoon, but Ted and I had chiropractic appointments in the early evening, so we went to those, then picked Alex up and the three of us went to vote.

Although Alex is 17 right now, he'll be 18 by the time of the General Election. Therefore, he is eligible to vote in the primary, but for candidates issues. He has taken this EXTREMELY seriously, and we are so proud of him for that. The women at the polling place also told him how great it was that he was voting.

The polls closed at 7:30 pm, and we got there about 7:05. Because of Alex's rather unique situation, he was not able to use the "touch screen" system to vote. He had to fill out the front of a large envelope, then had to use a provisional ballot, which meant that he had to fill in the ovals in front of the candidate's names he was voting for, with a special pencil they gave him.

After voting we received a sticker, but the lady who was giving them out, gave Alex a strip of them and said he should put them all on to celebrate his first election. He didn't put them ALL on, but he put on several.

The ladies told us that he was the ONLY 17 year old they had vote yesterday, BUT only two 17 year olds had registered, so that's 50%. I read in this morning's newspaper that throughout our entire county, there were a fair amount of 17 year olds who voted...79 to be exact.

There was a higher voter turn out than what was expected, and I think that's great. At our precinct there are at least 12 registered voters with our last name. As we finished signing the register, one of the women said, "Well, all of the *******s have now voted!" (meaning the ones with our last name) Seven of us are closely related, and the rest are distantly related, so it was nice to know that they all take it as seriously as we do.

Congratulations to Joey for voting in his first presidential primary, and congratulations to Alex for voting in not only his first presidential primary, but his first election!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

On the Road to Recovery

Ted is going back to work tomorrow! He's really looking forward to it, too. He's been off for FOUR weeks due to this terrible bout of bronchitis. Although he's not 100% quite yet, he's feeling much better. It's been a long haul for him.

As bad as this has been on him, something very good came out of all of this. He has QUIT SMOKING!!

I'm so proud of him! At the beginning of this he could barely take a breath, let alone inhale a cigarette. After a couple of days of going outside and valiantly trying to have a smoke (like what's up with that??) he realized that it just wasn't possible. Therefore, it will be four weeks tomorrow since he last had a cigarette. He said he still gets an occasional urge, but so far it's nothing he can't handle.

We both feel that this is a message from his dad, who died of lung cancer (he had smoked for 60 years) almost 4 years ago. As if THAT is not enough, the little store where Ted would stop every morning for a cup of coffee and a pack of cigarettes, just closed.

He and I both believe in signs, and we think that these things happening are just a step short of being hit in the head with a 2" x 4"!

As far as I'm concerned, all the trips to the chiropractor really helped last week. Unfortunately, a slide in the snow on Friday messed things up again.

It's amazing to think that a week ago yesterday I first met Dr. Bill when I took Ted for an emergency treatment. I had my first appointment with him on Tuesday, then went again on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

On Friday I told Dr. Bill that the last time I met a man and saw him 4 more times that week, I married him! He got a kick out of that.

Each day I felt a little better, but a lot of my movements were still difficult to make. There is still quite a bit that I can't do. After we left Dr. Bill's on Friday, we went to my school so I could get my lesson plans done for this upcoming week. Because of several 2-hour delays due to weather last week, some of my plans would just carry over, but I still had to get some things copied and ready to go. After an hour or so there, we were leaving.

It's rather important to note that on Friday we had heavy snowfall for several hours. In fact, a couple of schools in the area even decided to dismiss early. The roads were pretty nasty, but sometimes you just have to go out and get things done. And we did. Going to Dr. Bill's was a top priority and going to school so I could do my plans was another high priority. Other than those two things, everything else could wait until the weather improved.

So as Ted and I carefully maneuvered through the falling snow and the accumulating snow already on the ground, to get to the car (and knowing full well that my middle name is NOT Grace!), it was with great relief that we had almost made it to the car. HOWEVER, being only about three feet away from the vehicle, I slipped on the snow and twisted my back and hip. Fortunately I caught my balance and didn't fall down, but I sure did a number on my back and hip. As Ted helped me into the car I was trying to quickly assess any possible damage I did to myself. I was sore and in some pain, but was really hoping that it was the kind of discomfort that I could shake off and it would disappear in a short period of time.

It's now almost 48 hours later, and that's not the case. I'm not as bad as I was at the beginning of last week, but I'm worse than what I was when I left Dr. Bill's Friday morning. I'm going to try to get in to see him tomorrow.

Ah yes...the fun continues!

At least Ted is doing much better....we're really thankful for that!