Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a super Christmas! We took off to visit my wife's family for a week. A very nice visit. Travel was pretty easy. The visit was fun. We had a nice Christmas, everyone got nice gifts, we ate awesome food for the week, and we came home feeling ready to kick back and relax for the rest of the holiday break.

Our family tradition for New Year's Eve (which may be a tradition for millions of people?) is appetizers. We just put out appetizers around dinner time. And we add more appetizers to the table as the evening goes on. We browse the table and eat all evening. Shrimp. Chips and dip. Little hot dogs in crescent rolls. Pizza bites. Meatballs. Chicken wings. It varies year to year...but always the appetizer spread. So I'm looking forward to some good eating later tonight. And the timing is perfect cause I'm actually pain free from the new braces for the first time! So bring on the food!!

I've got no words of wisdom or resolutions to share. I just hope you and your families and friends have a great New Year's and a fantastic 2009.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Gift List

Well this is my final post before the big day so I figured I better let you guys know what I want. Or more precisely, what I need. One of the blogs that I really enjoy is Greg's General Store. And Greg (see how the name just fits!) did this fun thing where he Googled what he in "greg needs" and hit Enter. Well I did the same. And here are the top ten things I need. Or so Google says. And Google is very smart and powerful.
  1. Em needs more love. Sure...I'm not gonna argue with that one. Fits right in with the spirit of the season. So bring on the love!
  2. Em needs G.E., and right now G.E. needs Em. Wow, I had no idea I needed G.E. But if they need me, their people should get in touch with my people and we just might be able to arrange something for the new year.
  3. Em needs more love. Again? Okay, who am I to complain? Let the love flow.
  4. Em needs help. Always. With so many things. So anyone who wants to help, drop by the house. I'll put you to work.
  5. Em needs enterprising minds with the attitude, products, skills, finances and business ideas that can change the world. You betcha! Give me that and we can probably forget about #4 on the list.
  6. Em needs $3351-$7151. Yep. No doubt about that. And let's try to keep it closer to the big number if we can.
  7. Em needs the approval of two-thirds of his neighbors. Absolutely. I love approval. It is great to be liked. And two-thirds seems to be a pretty reasonable benchmark.
  8. Em needs assistance with obtaining the food and helping with setup and cleanup. Sounds like a party! Let's do it!!
  9. Em need more timeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. And yep, that is an exact quote from Google. I told you they were smart. They really do know.
  10. Em needs him. Hmmmm....wonder what my wife will say about that?
Perhaps you won't be able to give me any of my Needs According to Google. But that's okay. You go have yourself an awesome holiday! And I'm sure when I return from visiting the in-laws and celebrating Christmas, I'll have stories to tell.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tooth Hygiene

I'm a brusher, not a flosser. Much to the dismay of my dentist, I've never really enjoyed the flossing experience. But I brush on a regular basis just like everyone else.

But now with the braces, I'm supposed to brush even more. Morning and night isn't good enough. Now I've got instructions to brush four times a day. After each meal and then at bedtime. And I've even got myself some prescription toothpaste to do it with.

Mostly I don't mind. I hate the feeling of things being stuck in the braces. And when I try to lick/suck/tongue/work it out on my own, I look like a dog that just bit a big spoonful of peanut butter. So brushing helps avoid all those facial contortions.

However, I have to say, brushing my teeth at work is weird. I don't know why it strikes me as weird. But it does. I feel odd standing in the big staff bathroom and brushing while various folks wander in and out to take care of their .....ummm....needs. And somehow, in my head, that all seems just a bit brushing and drooling and them peeing.

So I've taken to brushing in my office. I try to make sure I do it without any of the drooling. But then, I have to wander down one hall, turn the corner and head down another hall, just to get to the bathroom so I can spit and rinse. The walk is odd..meeting folks while my mouth is full of bubbles and paste and a toothbrush...

"Hi Em, how's it going?"

"Mmm mmm..mmmm."

I thought about going and spitting and rinsing at the water fountain. But would I want to get a drink after someone else just spit there? Nope. So out of consideration....I haven't.

Maybe it isn't too late to ask Santa for a spittoon for my office.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

12 Days of Christmas

Up to this point I've spent 1 hour cruising for parking places, 2 hours walking in the mall, 3 hours sitting in traffic, 4 hours shopping online, and 5 golden hours waiting in lines to check out. Will it be possible to survive the rest?

We have almost entirely given up on eating food that we prepared. Taco Bell, Wendy's, Chili's, Burger King...I should be able to earn something for being a frequent eater. I mean, I earn miles for being a frequent I should at least get a free piece of bacon on my whopper next time I pass through the drive-in.

We've also almost given up on family time. The holidays really aren't about family anyway...that is just in the movies. We are too busy to really see each other. Unless you count Daughter15's band concert. We saw her. Sorta. From our seat way in the back. Too bad she was sitting behind that tall flute player. Why can't they let the alto sax players sit on the front row just once?

But there is something for which to be grateful. Gift bags. All sizes and shapes. Instant gift wrapping, no tape, scissors. Just drop it in and cover it all with a big wad of tissue paper. Every year I silently send good wishes to the person who created that life saver!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My network has networks

Is it just me or has it gotten really hard to manage an online presence? I know we are all busy with holiday stuff and kids and paying the bills and all that good stuff. It all takes time. And then we try to squeeze in time to read a few blogs, comment on a few, and update our own.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg! This blog is just one blog for me. I also have two that are part of my job. In addition, I help maintain numerous parts of a large website for our school. But even those big pages are just the beginning.

Let's talk blogs. How many do you read? My Google Reader tells me I'm subscribed to 162! Some are for fun. Some are for work. But it takes time to read them all. Google tells me I've read 1,193 items in the past 30 days. There were way more that I didn't get time to read. The problem is...I wanted to! I wanted to read them all. But there just wasn't time.

Then there is e-mail. At the moment I've got eight (yep...EIGHT) e-mail accounts. Many I don't have to check cause they are just associated with work things and all the e-mail gets routed to one inbox. But I do check four accounts several times a day and try to respond to all the mail I receive.

And Twitter. Do you tweet? Did you have to download and try Twitterific and Spaz and a variety of other desktop applications so you could easily read the stream of tweets?

Facebook? a page...visit it about once a month. MySpace. Got a page...never go there.

And don't even get me started on things like Ning and delicious and bloglines and all the other social networking possibilities!

I guess what I'm saying do you manage it all?? Do you even try? Or did you narrow things down to a simple e-mail and blog?

I want to be in touch. I love being in touch. I love the social networking phenomenon. But damn, it sometimes seems like a lot of work to have fun!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Braces. Yep, you heard me. Braces.

I'm 52 years old...and yesterday I got braces. Two hours at the orthodontist and I've got a mouth full of metal and ceramic and I look sooooo handsome.


That is not actually a photo of me...but it looks exactly like mine. Ceramic brackets on top with metal on the bottom. And one tooth without a bracket on the bottom. And my reasons for getting braces are just like this example...overcrowding on the bottom. So, like this person, the tooth without the bracket will be "excised" next Monday and will allow space for the teeth around it to close up and straighten.

Excise is a nice word, huh? Much better than pull....or yank. But that will be Step #2 next Monday.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying a lot of pudding and mashed potatoes and applesauce. The soreness is definitely there...but the biggest issue is that my top teeth can't close all the way against my bottom teeth. So even if things weren't sore, I still would not be able to chew. I've been reassured this is normal and will resolve itself. I hope that resolution happens soon!

So is the soreness and the lack of chewing the biggest problem? Nope. The biggest problem is that I'm 52 years old and yesterday I got braces! Some things you just think you left behind when you were a teenager. But nope, it is never too late.

And does my vanity kick in? Oh yes. I'm quite certain that my awesome natural good looks just won't hide the fact that I have braces. However, my wife did say I looked "adorable".

Of course, she was laughing a bit when she said it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Just in case you've not been paying attention....or don't have a young adolescent girl in the family...Twilight is a book. Which became a series. Which became such a huge best-selling series that there have been many weeks when all four books in the series have been on the NY Times Top Ten list of bestsellers.

And now it is a movie. It premiered on Friday. And Daughter15 has been counting down the days for months! And her and her friends, being the smart little teens that they are, decided it would just be madness to try to attend the movie on opening day. Just too crowded. Sold out theaters. Why would anyone want to do that?!?!

So they waited. They waited all the way to the next day. They planned on seeing the movie on Saturday. Surely they would be able to get in then. After all, the local cinaplex was showing the movie on five different screens!

Well, not wanting to see the looks of disappointment on their faces as they were turned away, I went online ahead of time and purchased tickets for her and her friends to the 4:00 showing yesterday. And yes, they were a giggling bunch of thrilled-ness.

So off we go to drop her and her friends at the theater. However, since I purchased online, the folks in the theater want to see me and my credit card just to make sure the little piece of paper I printed at home matches. So I did have to park and go inside for a moment.

What a sight to behold! It was like walking into some odd tribal celebration. Packs of teen and pre-teen girls roaming the theater. Small groups of 3 or 4. Large groups of 8 0r 10. Small packs merging into larger packs. All there for one simple reason. To see Edward and Jacob and all the other characters as they struggle with their young romances and their vampireness. It was definitely an odd vision...and no place for a sane man to be! So I flashed my card and made a quick exit.

And when it was all over? I picked up my small pack of beaming, smiling, Twilight-thrilled girls. A good time was had by all.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Day After

I must admit, last night was a very satisfying night for me. And a somewhat emotional time. I am very happy Obama is our new president-elect.

There is no way, as a middle class white guy, that I can even imagine the feelings that many African-Americans must be feeling today. When I grew up in the south, I went to "the white school" in our town while the African-American kids went to "the black school". We finally brought the two together when I was in the seventh grade. We went home for Christmas break and returned to find half the kids from each school had swapped places. It was unsettling to be missing some friends, but I surely never understood why all our parents were so upset about it. I couldn't understand then - and I can't imagine now - how anyone thought it could be a bad thing for all the kids to be going to school together. But they did think that. I grew up with that.

And I grew up with places that had separate bathrooms and separate water fountains for "colored men" and "whites" and "colored women" and "whites".

I lived in Alabama, less than a hundred miles from Selma when they walked over that bridge. But at my young age, I didn't even know it was happening.

I lived in it. In racism and misunderstanding. And many still live in those places today.

Last night was an honor. I'm glad I saw the first African-American elected president. And I'm confident that my feelings are only a glimmer of what the African-American community must be feeling today. The relief and satisfaction of finally seeing our country make that choice. And the hope that this really can be a change for the better in our country.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Two Unrelated Thoughts

I should preface this by saying it is not unusual for my thoughts to be unrelated to each other. In fact, it is not unusual for my thoughts to be unrelated to anything! Just ask my wife!! But that being said, here are two thought chosen especially for this moment...

Thought One...
Halloween has come and gone. Samhain has come. Candy has been passed out and eaten. Candles lit. Pumpkins carved. Etc. We had fun and I hope you had fun. But here are the things that were hard about Halloween this year...

My kids did not go trick-or-treating. This is their second time to stay home. Last year they just decided they were too old to go. Up until that time, I had walked the neighborhood with at least one kid for 18 years. I knew every house. I knew every decoration. I knew every uneven spot on the dark sidewalk. I had walked on warm nights, on cold nights, in sleet and snow and rain. And I gotta say, I miss it. I still feel melancholy about not going out. I had fun passing out candy to the witches and warriors and demons and angels that visited our home. But I miss going out.

The other thing hard about Halloween is that no one really wants us to have time to enjoy it. When we purchased the candy we were going to pass out, we had to walk among light-up reindeer and wreaths! The store already had Christmas decorations on the shelves with the Halloween stuff. Seriously?!?! Can't we just enjoy one holiday before we have to start spending money on the next one? I love Christmas. But let me have Halloween and Thanksgiving first. Then I'll jump into the deep end of the Christmas pool and have some fun there.

Thought two...
Mine is not a political blog. I just write stuff. But I try to avoid politics cause we hear enough of that on TV, radio, internet, etc. But for those of you who have been living on Mars the past 24 months or so, you might be interested to know we have sort of a big election coming up on Tuesday. I don't mind saying who I'm can see it right over there to the right of the page...I'm voting for Obama. But this is not an attempt to get you to vote for Obama. This is just to say...please vote. It is astonishing to me how many people fail to go to the polls when we have elections. I know politics can turn some people off. But voting really isn't hard. And it is such a fundamental right and responsibility, I think. Our state is expecting nearly a 90% turnout on Tuesday. If that happens, it will be incredible. I just hope lots of states reach that mark! So no matter who you support, please go and vote on Tuesday. And if you live close to me, I'll see you in line!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Observations from the road

One thing we saw a lot of this summer when we were driving around on vacation was other people driving around on vacation. And we couldn't pass that many vehicles on the road without starting to comment on favorites, least favorites and oddities. And along the way, we came to the conclusion that there are two popular colors for vehicles right now that we just could not understand.

The first color that confused us was rust. Oh I know, the car companies have carefully crafted names for their colors. And this is no doubt something like sunset orange or pumpkin metallic or some such thing. But really...the more we looked at it...we became convinced it was nothing more than shiny rust.

The thing that was difficult to understand was why someone would choose a car that looked like shiny rust. I mean, rust is generally something we do not want to see on our car bodies. So maybe this color is designed to hide the real rust when it starts to eat away at the car? Or maybe we are so easily swayed by product marketing that we'll buy most anything as long as it is shiny?

Ah, but shiny rust was not the most confusing color option on the road. It was lagging behind in second place on the list of Most Confusing Vehicle Color Choices. The #1 confusing color choice...yellow.

No, not pale yellow. Not pastel yellow. Not even bright yellow. We're talking about glow-in-the-dark-oh-my-god-it-hurts-my-eyes-yellow! And there were a lot of them out there!

One model where we saw a lot of of this color was on little Volkswagon bugs. A cute little car...which can pull off being in a cute little color. Somehow that just looked okay.

But then there were these.

Gigantic macho trucks in yellow. Lots of them. And always some big guy driving this screaming yellow truck. And we just could not figure out that choice. Was that the only color available when the guy went to buy a truck? Or perhaps, along with buying the largest truck he could find (compensating??) he also wanted a truck that could be seen from the International Space Station?

Maybe he just walked into the dealership and said he wanted a gigantic, gas guzzling truck with the comment...
I want the yella truck cause I look purty in yella.
I don't know what prompted it...but it was undoubtedly our choice for Most Confusing Vehicle Color Choice.

And to any of my readers who may, this very day, be driving a sunset pumpkin rust metallic car or a lemon yellow truck so bright it hurts to look at it, I still love ya. And I respect your right to drive the car of your choosing.

But please don't be offended if I never ask you to go shopping to help me pick out a nice sweater.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Well that was weird

A surgical success! And yes, I know, it was just some minor skin cancers so it can hardly be called "surgery". Let's think of it as a procedure. A procedure where they scraped away three spots about the size of quarters on my back.

And did it hurt? Not really. I was pretty numbed up. But it was weird.

Scrape your finger over your skin. Go ahead...I'll wait.

And what did you hear? Not much, huh?

Now what does it sound like when you scrape cancer cells? Imagine the sound of someone eating rice krispies. That's it. That loud crunching sound. A little weird to hear that coming from your back.

And to put the cherry on top the doctor cauterized the spots. A little disconcerting to smell that burning smell coming coming from your own body.

And yet, none of that hurt.

Now...not so much of a hurt...but it really, really, really stings. A lot. And it does hurt to lean back on the couch. But other than that...which is mostly just my is all over and I don't have to go back for six months for a follow up visit.

Thanks for your good wishes!

You'll feel a little pinch

That's what they always say right before they really hurt you. Well, today I'm having just a bit of outpatient surgery. Three minor basal cell spots removed. And the doctor has stressed "minor" so I'm not worried about the cancer. But I always worry about the other part. I mean, the biopsies hurt some...and they were tiny! These spots are not so tiny. So we'll see how I'm feeling later this evening!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Learning about technology

I spent today at a very cool conference - the annual gathering of the Computer Educators of Connecticut. It is always a great opportunity to see the latest in tech stuff, to hear how other educators are using technology in their classrooms, and just to get a good pep talk about technology.

Today's keynote speaker was David Pogue, technology writer for the NY Times. In spite of his own technical difficulties (a problem with the equipment at the convention center, not anything of his own doing), he presented a very interesting and entertaining keynote address. He then followed it up with a presentation to a smaller group on Web 2.0 technologies. Both had a lot of great information. Both shared a lot of new things. And both were very funny.

The rest of the day was spent listening to other leaders in technology education as they shared about using blogs, podcasts, video, Google products, and other great resources in their class.

And I'll certainly get to take some of this back to work tomorrow and start applying it to what I do.

The only downside of the day was that there just wasn't anyone to share it with. If I talk about technology too much, my wife's eyes start to glaze over. I mean, she doesn't even have an e-mail account! (I know, I say that like it is the mark of satan! LOL) At work, since we work with kids with severe special needs, the integration of technology into our curriculum is challenging and limited. We utilize a lot of adaptive technology, but not a lot of what I saw today. So there just isn't anyone there to share it all with, either.

So yes, I'll take some of it back and share it and find other, unique ways for staff to utilize the technology for their own professional growth. But it sure would have been nice to have someone there to look at and say "did you see that?!?! I can't wait to try that tomorrow!"

Oh well, missing out on that certainly doesn't change how much I learned nor how much I enjoyed it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


The biggest event I missed writing about was our trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was our first real family vacation in 14 years...and it was fabulous. We spent 9 days on the road...flying into Norfolk, Va. for a night, then driving down to Nags Head for 7 days, then back to Norfolk for a final day to visit their aquarium and science center. It was all fantastic.

I could give you a day by day, activity by activity, meal by meal account of the trip...but I won't. It would take about 40 posts and involve overwhelming Blogger with hundreds of photos. But I will say we had the opportunity to enjoy swimming and playing in the ocean, going on dolphin watches, touring nesting sites of sea turtles, hiking, visiting the largest natural sand dunes in the eastern United States, flying kites on the beaches and the dunes, and so much more.

Yes, there were four of us with digital cameras so we really did come home with hundreds of photos. Son21 even documented his trip in food...taking a photo of his plate at every restaurant we visited. And I'm sure if you visited the Facebook pages of the kids, you would find more photos of our trip.

But I'll only show you a few here. If you want to see them all, drop by the house for a beer and a slide show.

We rented a house in Nag's Head for the week. It was a beautiful house with all the amenities - fully stocked kitchen, laundry service, heated pool, hot tub, five balconies, and nine (yes NINE) TV/DVD players. And each bedroom was a master suite so every kid had their own bedroom and bath. They felt quite pampered! LOL

The best part of it all was the location. Sitting in the family room or the dining room, we could look one direction and look out over the ocean...and in the other direction we could enjoy Albermarle Sound. And to walk to the beach...60 seconds. The photo above was the beach we visited nearly every day. It was perfect.

Not sure the photo really illustrates just how big and tall the dunes at Jockey's Ridge really are...but they were huge! It was definitely a workout to hike around the dunes. And Daughter15 and I returned to the dunes later in the week for some kite flying.

It seemed we could not get enough of the beautiful sunsets...whether on the beach, on our balcony, or here at the Sound.

There are a lot of famous lighthouses on the Outer Banks. This one, the Bodie Island Lighthouse, was closest to where we were.

It really was one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited. And even in a busy summer week, there were plenty of open spaces and serene locales.

It was a fun trip. And after the past ten months or so, it was quite restorative for our family.

Friday, October 17, 2008

It was twenty years ago today...

Well, not really. In reality it was two years and nine days ago today that I started this adventure into blogging with the Shakespearean paraphrase To Blog or Not To Blog. And over the first year and a half or so I did pretty well. I wrote. I visited you. I commented. I got to know lots of blogger friends online.

And then a harsh reality intruded. Life dealt our little family a series of blows starting last December with the death of our 16-year-old niece in a sledding accident. That was followed less than two months later with the death of my mom. At about that same time, my mother-in-law was classified as no longer being in remission with her battle against leukemia and a variety of treatments were reintroduced. Shortly after all that, my favorite aunt - one who had played a very large part in raising me - passed away. In addition, my wife had emergency gall bladder surgery followed by a difficult recovery. And thanks to all the information gathered during that episode, she has since been diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes. And finally, I was diagnosed as having several mild basal cell carcinomas.

Fun, huh?

As all that took place, my writing and my visits to read your writing dwindled. It was sporadic at best...and non-existent the rest of the time. Finally, as I reached the end of summer school and left for our family vacation, I took a break from the blog. I had intended to take that break just for a couple of weeks while we traveled and relaxed. But upon returning home, the stress of the past year still weighed heavily. Several aspects of our life felt out of control as we had devoted so little time to things around the house. So I just decided the blog had to rest until things felt somewhat back to normal.

Now here I am! Normal? Not a chance, really. But much better. The beginning of the school year is behind and things feel much more settled than they have in a long time. We are still working to settle some things with my mom's estate. My MIL has completed some very successful courses of chemo and the doctors are hopeful that she will again be considered in remission. And my wife's health is doing just fine.

So I'm back! And no, you don't have to leave any sympathetic comments about all that happened. We all have bad times and so many of you have already left comments or e-mailed (or both!) just to check on me. And I gotta say, to get so many e-mails from folks who just wanted to say "hi" see how I was doing...and who said they missed reading the blog, that was awesome. Thank you!

Over the next few weeks I'll try to catch up on things that I've missed writing about...and get back in the swing of things. And I can't wait to wander around and see all that has been going on with everyone!

To Blog or Not To Blog? The answer is still a resounding YES!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I love to read!

One thing I totally love about summer are the extra opportunities to read. Extra days off work allow for reading during the day. And it means I can stay up later at night and read. Days at the beach or the pool mean sitting in the sun and reading. Lots and lots of reading.

For the most part, I'm not reading anything of earth-shattering importance. I read a lot of journals and blogs that relate to my profession, but I'm not working my way through the non-fiction best seller list.

Of course there are some books to help plan our trip to North Carolina.

And I read a lot (a LOT!) of blogs just for fun.

But mostly I love the fiction. Murder mysteries. Horror stories. Creepy stuff. Funny stuff.

At the moment, I'm reading the second book in Dean Koontz's Frankenstein trilogy. Before that, I was reading a book about werewolves. The books in this photo are just a small portion of those I've worked my way through this summer. And I've still got about half a dozen sitting on my bedside table just waiting for me.

I love to read!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Where did he go?

Camping! And more camping. And swimming and kayaking and basking in the sun. And don't forget sleeping late. And napping. And eating tons of good food off the grill. And reading. And a bit of mini golf.

And then I started over and did it all again!

The best photos definitely come from the lake. The early morning trips on the kayak when the lake and campground is quiet. There might be a few columns of smoke up in the trees from someone cooking breakfast over a morning fire. But other than that...peace and quiet on the lake in the early morning.

And when I go out later in the day, Daughter14 is always eager to
jump in the other kayak and go along for a paddle. The rest of the family prefers a more leisurely ride in the paddle boat.

So what's next on the schedule? Well I gotta come around and visit your blogs...see what has been going on.

And we've gotta do a little work around the house and a bit of back to school shopping. Which seems so wrong cause school has barely ended and now we are buying backpacks and new clothes for the upcoming year. Too fast!!

And then, in just ten days, we'll be leaving for our family vacation. Now what makes this one so special? Because we have not taken a real family vacation in fourteen years. Yep, 14. My work schedule wasn't conducive to it. And sometimes we just couldn't afford it. And the reality of a kid with special needs is that it can be very difficult to travel, stay in hotels, deal with unpredictable schedules, etc.

But this time, we are out of here! We'll be heading to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and all the kids are coming along and we can hardly wait!

But for now...home for a few days...and I'll be around to visit soon!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

So what to do when it rains?

That's right...the 60/80 conundrum yesterday left us wondering what to do for fun. And all the kids said bowling! Something we had not all done together in years. But we headed to the lanes and had a great time!



and Son17 all showed off their styles.

And they all thought they would kick dad's butt. They didn't! Na na na na na na! But trust me, my score was nothing to brag about. In fact, I have photos of the electronic score sheet. But its my blog and I see no reason to embarrass myself by posting that! :)

Saturday, July 05, 2008

60 or 80?

Does it even matter? Our plan for the three-day weekend was to head to our camper, enjoy playing in the lake, use the new kayaks, sit by the campfire, etc.

But it rained. And rained some more. It rained so much we didn't even go yesterday. Even when it wasn't raining, it looked like rain. It was cloudy and cool. Not great camping weather.

So we stayed home yesterday. Watched some good DVD's. Took a nap. Took the kids out for dinner. So not what we had planned but not a bad day.

But today we planned to get up and get right down there and make the best of the two days left in the long weekend.

When we woke up, it was raining. The weather channel says an 80% chance of rain and thundershowers today. Going online it says there is a 60% chance of rain and thunderstorms. Who is right? And does it matter? Do either of those numbers sound like the forecast that would beckon you to put on your thong and jump in the water? How about building a fire and roasting some marshmallows? Hard to keep a fire blazing in a downpour.

Do we go camping? Or do I break out that new book and spend an afternoon reading and relaxing? Either way will be fun. But seriously...can we have a bit of sun sometime this weekend!?!


Note: To relieve those chills you've been having since paragraph #5, I don't really wear a thong swimsuit. So you don't have to cover your eyes and keep the kids inside. I do have a new swimsuit with a very cool Hawaiian print, though. :)

Monday, June 30, 2008

In memory...

A nod to Winston Rand at nobody asked.... Winston passed away on Saturday. He was a very good online friend - someone who encouraged me a lot in my efforts at blogging. And he was an excellent writer with a great outlook on life.

His voice will be missed.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bird Stuff

Mating dance? Territorial dispute? A bizarre and fascinating bird thing?

Yes...definitely the last one. Perhaps one of the others.

Yesterday, these two birds spent about 15 minutes doing their thing in our yard. They chose a stump from one of our recently removed trees as their stage. And they performed.

Sometimes one - or even both - would run off into the grass, but they never ventured far from the stump. And the ritual never ceased.

They sang. They danced. They bobbed and weaved.

There was lots of posturing and tail flaring.

And it was fascinating to watch.

I'm no avian expert. I have no idea what kind of birds they are. Perhaps a Ruby-Headed Grass Dancer. Or a Flair-Tailed Stump Hopper. Maybe some dear reader can identify our little friends. But if you have to look it up in Black-Throated Stump Dancers of Connecticut, Volume III, don't go pretending like you knew it all along.

Eventually, they both took off and the yard was quiet again.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Grab your PFD and let's go!

To all the dads out here...HAPPY FATHER'S DAY! Hope everyone had a great day in whatever way you celebrated. Some had breakfast in bed. Some got a long afternoon nap on the couch. Some had a special dinner. Some got gifts. A lot of ways to celebrate this day...and I hope your way was fabulous!

For me...a relaxing day. A delicious dinner of steak on the grill, potatoes and corn on the cob for dinner.

And gifts! Well, really just one big gift...and a couple of accessories that go along with it. And what was this one big gift?!?!

A little sit-on-top kayak for the campground!

That's right, boys and girls, I'm ready to do some paddling! And just to make it more fun, we actually got two of them so I can go out on the lake with one of the kids or with my wife. I'm so excited, I can't wait for school to be over so we can head to the campground and get out on the lake.

If you're in the neighborhood, stop by. We'll go for a little paddle together!

Friday, June 13, 2008


If you are a parent, you know just how crazy the end of the school year can be. There are band concerts, field trips, special assemblies, forms to fill out, missing library books to find and return, finals to help kids prepare for, schedules to preview for next year, letters from administrators and guidance counselors about special summer events, makeup work for things that got missed, and a long list of other special things that get crammed into the last days of the school year.

But it is almost over. There are only THREE DAYS LEFT in the school year for the kids. A few more finals on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and they are free!

If you are a teacher, you know just how crazy the end of the school year can be. There are band concerts, field trips, special assemblies, forms to fill out, missing curriculum materials to find and return, finals to prepare, summer school schedules to preview, letters to write to parents about special events in the summer and leftover information from this year, and a long list of other special things that get crammed into the last days of the school year.

But it is almost over. There are only THREE DAYS LEFT in the school year! A final day with the kids on Monday and two teacher days on Tuesday and Wednesday and I'll be free!

Well, almost. Because my job description is a bit different. I don't actually teach in a classroom any more. I'm the technology coordinator and a professional development specialist for our school. So while I attend concerts and assemblies and field trips and all that stuff to assist the staff, I'm also scrambling to set up e-mail accounts for summer staff, filling out requisition forms for equipment upgrades and replacements during the summer, finding missing equipment that got loaned out and never returned, writing letters to parents about planned upgrades to the school web site and blogs for next year, and a long list of other special things that get crammed into the last days of the school year.

But it is almost over. There are only THREE DAYS LEFT in the school year for me! Videotaping the graduation ceremony on Monday and setting up laptops and projectors for two meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday, installing new software in the building, backing up the servers, finalizing accounts for summer staff and I'll be free!

Well, almost. Summer school doesn't begin until June 30th, but I'll be back on the 23rd to prepare a summer workshop on using the advanced data analysis tools in Excel for a group of teachers and clinicians wanting to enhance their skills in collecting, analyzing and reporting data. But at that point, I really can say just THREE DAYS LEFT because I'll prep on the 23rd and 24th and lead the workshop on the 25th. And then I'm free.

Really. Four whole days off ... until summer school begins.

Monday, June 09, 2008

A nice celebration

Yesterday was Daughter14's Affirmation ceremony. An Affirmation ceremony is the "coming of age" ceremony at our church.

All 9th grade students spend a year in the Affirmation class. During the year they explore the principles and beliefs of our religion...but also continue to explore a variety of other religious and spiritual pathways. These explorations are combined with discussions of all the "big" topics - what makes a person unique and special; what does each of them value in others; is there a God or Goddess or multiple gods and goddesses and, if so, what form do they take and what is their role in our daily lives; what happens when we die; etc.

It is not easy for a 14 year old to figure out what they believe about these things. It isn't even easy for a 52 year old to figure it out!

But the culminating portion of the class is that each student, working with the two class leaders and their own personal mentor, writes a credo statement about their beliefs at this point in their life. And then those statements are shared with the congregation during the Affirmation ceremony.

My daughter hates speaking in front of a crowd. And she considers any group with more than two people to be a crowd! But the church was packed and she did an awesome job.

In fact, all the kids did a terrific job.

And then there was a nice reception afterwards. I mean, all good events have food...right!?! did great! We are very proud of you!!!

Friday, May 23, 2008


When I left for work this morning, our front yard looked like this...

And when I came home this afternoon...voila!

A huge change!

Stunning actually - even though I knew it was coming. To actually see the difference was amazing.

So what brought about this change? Just our hatred of trees? Hardly. We love trees. We chose to live with woods behind our house so we could see lots and lots of trees. But not too long ago, this happened...

We woke up one morning to find a rather tall tree had fallen across our back yard. Fortunatly, even though it fell toward the house, it was in the very back of the yard so it didn't reach anywhere close to the house. The only damage done was a few divots in the grass and a couple of azalea bushes got a little crunched.

But it made us think a little bit about all the really large trees that were very close to the house. In many cases, they had quite large branches that hung over the house. And we decided it was time to bring in an arborist and see what trees had damage or disease that might weaken them...and what trees were simply overgrown and in need of some pruning.

We'll have two days of work done in order to get it all done. And they really brought in the big stuff...

The bucket truck for the tall stuff...

The tractor for pushing trees, pulling tree trunks, carrying limbs, etc...

And what self-respecting tree guy would show up without a seriously powerful chipper...

On Tuesday they'll return to do a lot more work in the back yard (with me taking some photos, of course!). But for now, we have a couple of days to get used to our front yard...which just seems so much more sunny and open!

(Yes, all the pics are clickable if you feel the need to see the work a bit better)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Enough is enough

I don't mind a commercial that is creative, funny, and somehow entertaining. I know they don't come along very often, but when they do, I don't mind watching. I even enjoy them a second time...maybe a third time. But they grow old pretty quickly.

That is not the case with commercials that are bad, annoying, or poorly done. Late night TV is filled with the locally produced commercials with bad grammar, bad lighting, and really dumb appeals.

But not all annoying commercials are local. If you watched enough TV in the last few months, you've no doubt seen the commercial for the babybaby CD. You know the one...

Oh Amanda
Oh Amanda
My baby baby girl

A CD with 6 songs...customized with your baby's name. I've heard this annoying commercial approximately 92 million times. Or at least it seems that bad. The song is annoying. The repetitiveness of the commercial is annoying. Even when they change it up and sing to Emily, it is still annoying.

And if I understand correctly, if you lay down your money, you basically get the same song 6 times - 3 with various verses and 3 instrumental versions. Does anyone really need 6 versions of this same song??? Please, I think not.

If you've bought the CD for your kid, good for you. I've got no problem with the CD. Well, not too much. But I won't get into that here. But the has to stop!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Squeezing in the fun

I know my recent posts make it sound as if our life has become one crisis after another with nothing in between except grief, sadness, trauma and paperwork. And it is true that some days start to feel a bit like that! But we've done our best to squeeze in some "together" time and make sure we were remembering to enjoy our life.

A few weeks back, my wife and I traveled up to Northampton, MA to one of our favorite little clubs to have some dinner and to see The Wailin' Jennys, a folk group from Canada. These three women - plus one new group member, a guy they referred to as "the new jenny" - are just incredible. Between the four of them, they played at least 10 or so instruments throughout the show, entertained the crowd with plenty of charm and humor, and offered up some of their most popular songs. It was a really fun evening.

But we didn't want to keep all the fun to ourselves. So we also took the entire family to see Cirque du Soleil. This is the third time their touring show has made a stop in CT. We went to see them the first time, nearly four years ago, and all five of us were blown away! So there have been steady requests from the kids to see them again. And trust me, when you can get three teens too all agree that one thing is good, you don't take that lightly! So we were thrilled to have the opportunity to see them again.

If you seen Cirque, you know what they are like. If you've not seen them, words won't really describe it. And if you've seen them on Bravo, you know what they are about, but seeing them on TV does not do justice to just how incredible they are. While the tickets are a bit pricey, there isn't a bad seat in the tent. Yes, they really do perform in a tent. But once you are inside, it really doesn't feel like a tent. And the seats wrap around about 75% of the stage so every seat is close and has an excellent view.

And the performance itself is mesmerizing. Every aspect - the clowns, the lighting, the music, the gymnastics, the dance, the storyline - everything has been pulled together by what I believe are some of the most creative people around. One minute we were laughing as clowns raced through the audience and the next we were holding our breath as men performed on the wheel of death.

The kids loved it. We loved it. And the requests to see the next touring show have already begun.

So we've certainly had our tough moments over the past few months, but we've squeezed in some laughs and some good times when we've had the opportunity. And that time together has been especially nice as we've worked our way back to normal.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Fact or Fiction

Saturday was a good day of recovery for my wife - Ms NFMC (thanks for the alias, May!). But on the heels of one good day of recovery at home, she had a night of restlessness and nausea and vomiting. She was unable to keep down any food, any liquid, any of her medications.

And it was green. Like pea soup green.

So we looked on our list of "Call the doctor if any of these are present". This list had been kindly provided by the hospital when we left on Friday. There were about ten things on the list. She had three. Extreme nausea. Vomiting. Green vomit.

So the call was made. And guess what they told us to do???

You guessed it - return the emergency room - the place where it all began last Wednesday morning. The triage wait was very short. Nothing else on Sunday was short. We were in that tiny room in the ER for eight hours.

Eight is a very big number when you are bored out of your freaking mind! There is NOTHING to do in ER. Not one single magazine. No Sports Illustrated. No National Geographic. Hell, I would have been happy with Women's Day! But nope, nothing to read.

And no food or beverage. We left home about 8AM on Sunday morning. No coffee. No breakfast. And they would not let me bring in a soda or a snack. Nothing. Oh sure, I could go to the cafeteria and eat. But I could easily return to find my wife gone to some test with no idea what really happened to her. So I stuck around.

But I did eventually entertain myself. For example, when I took my wife's heart monitor off - that little thing they clip on your finger to monitor your pulse (heck, she was sleeping by then, she didn't know), I found out that my pulse was about two beats per minute faster than her pulse. And that little gizmo also monitors the level of oxygen in the blood. Don't ask me how, some sort of medical techno magic. But however it works, my rate was again about two higher than her rate. But we were both in the upper 90's - which apparently is good. But what was a little concerning about their magic technology was that the sheet had an oxygen content of about 60. Really? Hmmmm.

Oh, and those little stretchy things they wrap around your arm tourniquet-style to make the vein pop up for an IV...well those little suckers will really fly across the room if you pull back on them really good.

But enough about me and my fun. This is about my wife, huh? Cause she was the one laying on the bed. And since she went in reporting massive vomiting, they immediately gave her an anti-nausea medication. It stopped the urge almost immediately. And then, since she had been awake all night, she fell asleep and slept for most of the eight hours we were there.

And if they solved the problem right away, why did we stay so long? Well it wasn't cause the food was good! Apparently they wanted to figure out why she was throwing up. Picky, picky. So she slept...and periodically had someone take an x-ray or do an ultrasound or take a blood sample.

And the result of all that? They don't know! Their guess (gee, isn't it nice when the doctor only has a theory?!?!) is that she had a reaction to one of the anti-surgery medications they gave her. But did they change any of those? Nope. Just gave her some anti-nausea medication to take at home and sent us on our way.

After eight hours. I did say it took eight hours, right?

And today? She seems just fine. No throwing up. No pain from the surgery. Still sleepy from the medications. But basically it seems like the recovery is back on track.

Now...which parts of this story are fact and which are fiction?

Sadly, all of it is fact.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Put down the pins...

...and step away from the voodoo doll!

I'm starting to feel cursed! I mean, I just wrote last Friday about the on-going trauma to our little family. But we were bouncing back. And we bounced all the way to Wednesday morning about 3AM. That was when my wife woke me up due to her severe pain. We were off to the emergency room for a little visit by 4AM. And after a series of blood tests, ultrasounds, and 92 different interns and residents poking on her until she practically screamed and then asking "does that hurt?" was 1PM and they carried her off to surgery.

By the time I saw her again around 5, she was missing a gall bladder. But in so much less pain! Those little incisions were so much less painful than a gall bladder that was infected and engorged.

They kept her at the hospital until noon today...just monitoring lingering infection and pain, but she is home now and seriously medicated.

And the highlight of the whole ordeal (aside from her obvious improvement in health) was Son18 giving me a call at the hospital yesterday just to ask..."So when they took out her gall bladder, what did they do with it? Do they just have a big garbage can full of body parts?"

Whatever can they have, it now has one more seriously infected gall bladder. Better in the can than in my wife!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Landmarks in time...

During my absence from writing a couple of major landmarks took place in our family. First of all, my wife and I celebrated our anniversary. Twenty-three years of being together. And most of that time has been very good. Sure, we bicker about things at times. But not very often and not very intently. We generally get along very well.

And surprisingly, this year filled with sadness and difficulty within our extended family, has actually been a year that I've felt particularly close to my wife. Sharing our grief, supporting each other, and encouraging each other has been a really amazing bonding experience for us. We've become closer than ever. I hate the circumstances that caused it. But I treasure the new-found closeness that makes our marriage better than ever.

The other big landmark was a birthday. Son17 blew out the candles and became Son18. And of course we celebrated with a nice dinner out, a yummy chocolate cake, and plenty of gifts. And he was very happy with the gifts since he got exactly what he requested - an iPod Nano, the second season of LOST on DVD, an iTunes gift card, and some gigantic Lego model called the Exoforce Mobile Devastator. He got a few small things as well, but that was his "big four" and he was most happy.

A belated blogger Happy Anniversary to my wife and Happy Birthday to Son18!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Slowly coming back...

Well when I wrote my last post, I had no idea it would be 59 days before I sat down to write again. But before I even attempt to bring you up to date, I must start with some gratitude. So many of you have been so awesome while I've been absent from the blogosphere. Some of you have continued to leave comments now and then. Others have sent e-mail. Kati and Winston and May and Lisa and Joanne and Darren and Whimsical and Wizard and so many more. In most cases, I didn't write back. But that doesn't mean I didn't love hearing from you. Your brief words lifted me up on many occasions. And I thank you.

So...what happened? Well, my family went through a very tough time in December when my niece died in the sledding accident. I wrote about that. And we pushed through and tried to have a good Christmas. And it felt as if we were just getting our feet under us when my mom passed away in February. And that was pretty much when I stopped.

As an only child and the only immediate family member still around, I've had to step up and try to deal with every aspect of her life now that she is gone. There has been a maze of lawyers and financial folks as we tried to piece together things in a timely way to do tax returns for us and for her. And I think my last post about the piles of papers probably clued you in to the fact that she was not the most organized about pulling together important papers has proven more difficult than I ever imagined.

And then there is her home. Her things. Eighty-three years of living. And we've tried to cope with that. I've traveled to GA twice for a week at a time...and my wife has been there for a week in between my trips. And I never realized how difficult it could be to go through someone else's stuff. I could sort and pack things in my house. Cause I know what I have. I know where it is. But there, everything is a matter of discovery and then deciding what to do with it. Some things we want. Some things we don't want. Do we donate it? Tag sale it? Trash it? So far some of all three have taken place. But it is really hard to let it go. Things I totally have no desire to own are still difficult to get rid of. My mom or my dad wanted those things. They bought them. Saved them. These things had meaning and value to them. And it feels callous to just get rid of them. But that is what must be done.

And you would think all that would be enough. But that isn't the end of the story. I just recently returned from my last trip to GA...and the day I flew home, when I arrived home, I got the call that my aunt in GA had passed away. This was the aunt who basically raised me while both my parents worked full time. I had seen her recently. Talked with her. Knew she was not doing well. But didn't realize just how fragile she was. And the timing of it...just as I arrived home...made it impossible for me to turn right around and travel back to GA again. I'm out of days to take off from work. I'm exhausted from the travel. I'm emotionally spent. So the best I could muster was to send flowers.

It is enough. Three deaths. Dealing with an estate - small but seriously unorganized. Time away from my own family. We are all tired, physically and emotionally.

And that is why I've not written. I had nothing to offer other than just bemoaning the current state of affairs in my life. And it would have been just too easy for me to sink into self pity.

But little by little, at work, with my family, and now here...I'm starting to reclaim what feels like a normal life. We still have a house to sell in GA (and gee, isn't the housing market just dandy?!?!). We still have the actual move to deal with in terms of getting what we want from GA to CT. But I'm starting to feel like we are gonna get through it and move on with life.

And some days, when I wasn't so sure about our ability to move on, your words would pop up and cheer me up. Thank you.

It is good to be back...even it may be somewhat sporadic for a while before I get back to my usual routine of visiting your blogs and writing my own. But hey, sporadic is better than nothing!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

And in this closet...

I have returned yet again. The trip to GA was long and difficult. Lawyers and CPA's and probate judges and banks and so much more. So many things to do. I've never gone through this and I had no idea just how much was involved. And I learned two very important lessons very early in the trip...
  1. EVERYTHING takes longer than I thought it would take
  2. NO ONE on the phone can help me until they've transferred me at least four times
And I learned one other thing during my trip. Something I never really knew about my mom. She saved every piece of paper she ever saw in her life. Every bank statement. Every old check book. Every grocery receipt. Every Christmas card. Every one.

You may be what, one little pile of papers. What is he bitching about?

Oh no, my friendly blog reader, I'm talking many big piles. Many piles in this closet. More piles in that closet. Some piles under a bed. Some on the shelf. Piles and piles.

But hope remained. Perhaps all those piles were neatly organized, thus allowing me to quickly identify recent documents needed for accumulating assets and paying her bills while blindly tossing the 1994 Halloween cards.

No such luck. It was a hodgepodge. A jumble. A mishmash. A melange. A potpourri of papers. (Okay, I'll stop now. But are you getting it? There was a LOT and it was a mess!)

So what was a poor boy to do with all that paper when there were other things to be done? A game plan was hatched. Mornings were devoted to meetings with attorneys and financial folks. Afternoons were devoted to packing things in the house. Evenings were spent looking through papers - piece by piece - and either tossing or saving, as necessary. And on the final day, I packed up two large boxes and mailed them home for later inspection. I packed an extra suitcase with papers. I crammed my carry on luggage with papers. And I came home.

Now our family room has a new piece of furniture. The card table where I now sit - surrounded by boxes of paper. I think I might be here for a while...finishing the task of identifying what is current and tossing or shredding the rest.

Anyone for a parade? I've got all the paper you need!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

On the road again...

So today I hop on a plane and head back to Georgia for six days. This is the winter break at my school, so it gives me a chance to travel back to where my mom lived to begin the long process of dealing with her things.

What a cold phrase, huh? Dealing with her things. Better to say...sorting through her belongings? Sounds less than what it really is. Managing the estate? Sounds like she lived at Graceland. But no matter how you say it, there is a house to be gone through. Attic to shed. Every drawer and every cupboard. Eighty-three years of living. Some of it will come to us. Some will go to other family. Some will be donated. Some will be thrown away. And my job this week is to start making those decisions.

Plus probate. I gotta see attorneys. I have to start closing out her accounts for cable and credit cards and all those kinds of services. So a lot of phone calls and visits to banks, etc.

It will be a tough few days, I think. My wife and the kids will be staying at home. Son20 still has classes this week. The other kids need their school break to catch up on makeup work from missing a couple of weeks ago...and just to relax and enjoy a little free time.

And what will make the entire trip more difficult? NO INTERNET! (gasp!) I'm leaving the laptop at home. My mom never had an internet connection at her I would have to go to a coffee shop or book store to find free WiFi. And I would. But the temptation would be to go there every day. Maybe morning and evening. Cause you know I love my blog reading and my e-mailing. So to avoid all that, I'm leaving it at home and going cold turkey. Yikes!

But I've at least prepared a tiny emergency backup plan. I learned how to text message with my cell phone this week. I know...only ten years after everyone else in the world embraced that little trick of communication. But now I know. And if I reach a moment of desperation where I just have to type something, I can send a text message to someone. Now if I only knew all your cell phone numbers...... :)

Be good. I'll be around checking up on you as soon as I return.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Funeral Food

My wife grew up Mormon. She is no longer a part of that religion, but all of her family is very active. And one tradition I've always heard about is funeral potatoes. Apparently this is an unofficial tradition among Mormons - especially those who live in Utah. If you Google "funeral potatoes", you'll find more than 90,000 links to blogs, online magazines, recipe sites, and other web sites discussing this particular dish.

Funeral potatoes are not just for funerals. They might show up at other potlucks, parties and gatherings. But they are a staple item at enough funerals that the name has evolved to simply reflect that fact.

For something so commonplace at these events, the recipes can vary quite a lot. Some are made with cubed potatoes while others are made with hash browns. Sometimes they are made with cream of chicken soup, sometimes with cream of celery soup, and sometimes with cream of mushroom soup. And sometimes people go crazy and use two kinds of soup in one dish! Some recipes have no soup at all but substitute cream, evaporated milk, or other creamy substitutes. And some top it off with bread crumbs, some with cracker crumbs, some with corn flakes, and some with frosted flakes.

But in spite of the variations, it is a traditional dish at meals served after Mormon funerals in Utah.

Is it good? I don't know. When we went to my niece's funeral in December, there were no funeral potatoes. My sister-in-law hates them and insisted that none be served. So I can't give you first hand experience of the dish.

But while visiting Georgia for my mom's funeral, we were lucky enough to have many people volunteering to provide meals to our family. My cousin's church provided a meal. My uncle's church provided a meal. My mom's church provided a meal. Even the funeral home provided a meal. There were no funeral potatoes. However, there were other foods that clearly represent the southern funeral. Fried chicken. I guess we could call it funeral chicken now. Every meal that was served by some church or other group had fried chicken as the primary - and often the only - entree. And it was also clear that every platter of fried chicken was destined to be served with something creamy and white. Potato salad...macaroni salad...or cole slaw. One of those was piled high next to every mound of the funeral fried chicken.

Am I complaining? Nope. I love fried chicken and potato salad. I like macaroni salad. I don't understand how anyone can eat cole slaw, but that's just me. But the chicken and potato salad...delicious.

However, there was one thing missing at every meal. Veggies. No green salad. No beans. No broccoli. No asparagus. Nothing that could be classified as a vegetable. And we all started to miss that. At one point, the five of us went to a restaurant just to order the salad bar. It was wonderful!

But the whole experience offered this interesting opportunity to observe the different traditional foods served around funerals. Makes me wonder what might show up at other parts of the country. And what might be missing.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I have returned. Again.

I promise I'm not starting and stopping just to get attention. I am not competing for the title of World's Most Inconsistent Blogger. But just when I think I'm back on track...

My mom passed away on Sunday, Feb. 3. I never even saw the Super Bowl that I had so eagerly anticipated. Instead, I spent my evening making plane reservations, rental car reservations, and packing for a trip to Georgia.

My mom had a good life. She had not struggled with illness. She was as healthy as an 83 year old could possibly be. But that didn't stop the heart attack.

It was a long week of sadness, travel, finalizing plans, seeing family that I had not seen in years, and taking the first baby steps in the long process of dealing with her home and her belongings and any financial issues that need to be dealt with. And that process won't be an easy one to accomplish long I know I'll be traveling back and forth from CT to GA several times over the next few months. In fact, I'll be there again for part of next week.

This is two unexpected and very sad deaths in our family in just 9 weeks. That is too much. I'm crossing my fingers that my family can get a little bit of a break from such sadness.

And as I travel back and forth, I'll post when I can. I'm sure there will be observations and stories to tell.

For one is quite a shock to the biological system to board a plane in Atlanta when it is 69 degrees...and step off that same plane just two and half hours later in Connecticut where it was 22 degrees. The temperature changed very quickly. My body did not adjust at that same pace! Brrrrrr!!!

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Countdown Continues

I've been watching the pre-pregame coverage for 12 days now. Interviews with the coaches mothers. Analysis of how they grow grass on the field. And that wonderful special on which stadium has the best hot dog. I'm loving every minute of it.

What? Pregame to what? Surely you jest!

But just in case you missed it, the Super Bowl is this Sunday. And MY Patriots are playing. That's the PERFECT New England Patriots. They will be taking on the long-shot New York Giants. The two teams are just a short drive apart...and my house is just about dead center between the two stadiums.

Trust me, everyone around here has a serious opinion about how this thing is gonna turn out. We've been wearing our Patriots hats and our Giants jerseys and singing the Tom Brady theme song day and night.

But perhaps you don't care. Perhaps you don't live in the tiny corner of the US where these two teams reside. Maybe you live in Texas...or Minnesota...or Georgia. Anywhere but the New England area. And these two teams were just annoyances that got in your team's way this year.

Heck, perhaps you don't even like football. Though the mere thought of that is unsettling.

But if you are out there not me, I'll be enjoying it enough for both of us!

Now I would review each game of their PERFECT season...and the beauty of the 3-4 defense...but I'm pretty sure highlights of previous Super Bowls will be on in a minute...followed by interviews with people who knew someone who had a cousin who actually attended a Super Bowl one time. Can't miss that!!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Birthday Girl

Today is a big day in our house! Today is my wife's birthday. And before you even think about a number, you can be sure I'm not going to reveal her age. I have learned a few things in all our years of marriage! LOL (Don't even try counting the is not the right number!)

It was a very relaxing day...she got to sleep in...she got to spend an afternoon watching DVD's and opening gifts...and the family went out to dinner.

And what big, romantic gift did I give her? Nothing. At least nothing romantic. No jewelry. No flowers. was way better than that. It was better because I gave her something she truly loves. Something she really wanted. Something that will entertain her and make her happy for hours and hours. And hours!

So what was this magical gift?

The X-Files.

Not just one season. Not just the movie. Everything! All nine seasons, the movie, the movie poster, the episode guide...everything.

She'll be watching DVD's for a long time...and loving every minute of it.

Happy Birthday!

Friday, January 25, 2008

You came looking for me...

I know...I've been away. Haven't posted since New Year's Day. But here is just how awesome you guys have been...

tulipmom stopped by "just checking in"

whimsical, who never fails to check on me with a comment and/or an e-mail, stopped to ask "is everything ok?"

CS left a message hoping that my cold was not still hanging on and keeping me down

Mama P was about sex so we'll leave it at that

And then Gretchen said... "you never don't call...what's up?"

You got me Gretchen. I've not called. Or written. So I would do that right now...except...I don't know your phone number nor your address. So let's pretend...

Your phone is run to pick it up (thinking it is probably a poll for Clinton or Obama and why can't they just leave you alone!?!?)...and it is me! "Hey friend, how ya doing?!?!" Then we talk...we share funny stories...we compare what we got for Christmas...and life is good again. :)

For all the rest of you that have commented or e-mailed but that I didn't pretend-call, I have been away. Not for any dramatic reason. Work has just been crazy busy. Home life has been busy. And it takes a lot more time than you would think to figure out how to hide a receding hairline.

Does that mean I'm back now? Yeah, I think so. Things seem to be slowing down a bit. Everyone had the cold. Everyone is over the cold. And I haven't had to spend too much time shoveling snow lately. And my Patriots only have one more game to play. So I think I may actually find time for the fun things I enjoy again. And writing would definitely be one of those things.

And just as much fun will be visiting your blogs! It has been so long it may take me all weekend to get around to everyone and catch up on what's been going on. But I'll get there. And it will be good to see each of you again.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Did you? Do you?

Did you party and drink and eat and then set resolutions not to party and drink and eat so much? Or are you a stay-at-home, avoid the crowds, sit by the fire and watch TV kind of New Year's person?

We are the home type. The crowds hold no lure for us. We had wonderful snacks, hung out with the kids, watched some DVD's, and celebrated the new year in a quiet way. And it was nice.

And now it is New Year's Day. The snow is falling. And we are snuggled in by the fire for our last day off before returning to school and work. And it would be a perfect day....except...

I have the cold. No sore throat. No fever. But enough congestion to be in the Guinness Book of World Records. Not to put too fine a point on it, but my head is filled with snot...and the extra is leaking out. And this is actually Day 5 of the everyone is tired of hearing me snort and blow and sniff.

I tried taking the pills. Twelve hour relief with just one capsule. Bah. I might as well have been eating Tic Tacs. All that happens is that I have to suffer for twelve hours before trying something else.

I could do that liquid stuff. But I've never felt like that helped either. Sure, it makes me sleepy and I can take a long nap. But that isn't curing anything...just letting me sleep through the cold and wake up when it is over. And if that is all it does, why bother to buy it? I can achieve the same thing with liquor.

But for congestion...sniffles....stuffy noses...there is a remedy that I love. It works quickly...and reliably. When all else fails, I reach for the nose spray. A couple of squirts right up the nostrils and I'm breathing like a normal human again!

Now I know that isn't curing anything. I'm just getting rid of a symptom. But since that is the only symptom I feels like I'm cured. Until the twelve hours is almost over...and all the snot that has been held back comes rushing out. And I go running for my spray again. The vicious Snot Cycle.

But maybe the cold will be gone soon? Positive thinking, right?!?!

Well, if you've read through my ramblings about my cold (or if you just scrolled to the bottom hoping for something more interesting to read)...

Happy New Year to you!!!