Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Looookin' Gooooood!

I've said it before, I'll say it again... Family Weddings are costly! Hey, I'm not even thinking about what the bride and groom are spending on the festivities, I'm just talking about the drain on our pocket book to achieve proper attire.

You see, WE... Us... My family... We don't go out much, for fancy occasions that is. So when it comes to gettin' all gussied up in hifalutin' dressy clothes... Well, it's been so long since our last dressy event that we gotta go out and shop new all over again! Because there's no way my son is going to fit into those size 10 black dress shoes from the wedding we attended 2 yrs. ago, no sir! Today we had to purchase a size 12 EEEE! And that shirt he wore to the wedding 5 yrs. ago isn't going to cut it, he's still thin enough but has gotten so tall there's no way to tuck that bad boy into a pair of pants. New shirt of course meant a flashy new tie also.

Daughter, has a completely different figure at 15 than that which she sported 2 yrs. ago so a new dress was a must have and the search for matching shoes was a test not for the faint of heart... Oh, and don't forget the jewelry to match! Fortunately for the husband his feet have stopped growing so he can pull that dusty ol' pair of dress shoes out from the back of the closet. However, he did need new slacks for work so since I was already in the market for playing 'sharp dressed man' with the boy, I picked up not only new slacks for my man but a fine looking shirt and a handsome tie.

Surely you recall all the blogging I did about the search for finding my own natty frock for the affair, which, thank the powers that be, I DID finally manage to acquire. Today I polished it off with some bling in the form of a simple necklace and earrings.

So... Now that the family is prepared to dress to the nines for the wedding on Saturday, It's my sad duty to inform the couple that there's no money left for a gift. Surely your photographer will be able to spare a few extra shots of US cousins looking oh so fabulous, because that dear cousins is worth more than any physical gift you could ever receive.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

TNS Tuesday - Teaching an old dog what she should've learned in 7th grade

Okay see, I kinda forgot about TNS Tuesday (for anyone new here TNS stands for The New School which is the private democratic school my kids attend, you can read more about it here.) However, since I myself am struggling through getting educated, 'The New School' way, I thought I'd talk a little about ME today... ya, like I've never done that before.

I'm 43 yrs. old and I'm learning ALGEBRA. What's that I hear you say, "What Margie, you don't know Algebra?" Surely you learned that in Jr. High?" Well ya, I did... And I could expound on the shortcomings of my Southern California education but that might not be entirely fair. Jr. high was not only a time in my life when trying hard NOT to be the biggest dork on campus was at the forefront of my conscience, but also trying to survive my domineering, physically and emotionally abusive step-mother was also of main concern... Math class therefore sat in that part of my brain waaaay in the back, much like that rear facing seat in our circa 1970 station wagon.

So now I hear you saying, "So why Algebra, why now?" Have I mentioned that TNS is a school deeply rooted in philosophy? Every day, TNS students are challenged to think about themselves and their effect on others. Enter last Christmas... Holidays can be especially trying for me emotionally. Everywhere I look, television, magazines, movies, I'm inundated with images of the 'perfect' family gathering. I tend to manage this well in my home, with my immediate family. Doing all of the 'Martha Stewarty' things I expect of myself. Unfortunately though, I tend to reflect on the past and how the family I grew up in, scattered in the wind like dandelion seeds. For reasons I won't go into here, this past Christmas was particularly trying. My daughter witnessed me completely break down and bawl my eyes out. When the last deflated balloon was tossed out after my pity party, my daughter wisely recommended I talk with my friend Mel, who also happens to be the founder of TNS.

In January I met with Mel and poured out my life and frustrations over my emotional upbringing. I'm a person deeply rooted in emotions. I cry at the most nonsensical things. For instance, name a Disney movie, any one of 'em... I've cried. I walked into a 'Pottery Barn' last week and the smell in the air was so wonderfully, deliciously, aromatic... I cried (just a little though, I didn't make a scene or anything... My daughter was with me and she would've died of embarrassment.) And it doesn't take much to get me choked up when I read your blog posts... Tell me about your children and how much they mean to you... Tell me about a sick friend... Tell me about a thoughtful deed from your husband... That's right, I cry.

So due to all this emotional crap I've got bottled up inside, I can make myself pretty sick sometimes... Not to mention stuck! Unable to make informative decisions, unable to think clearly about things. So Mel suggested I do MATH.... Yep, MATH... For me, it's just like that other 4 letter word I let slip when I'm incredibly angry or frustrated. "You see", Mel tells me, "When one does math, one must use the side of the brain rooted in logic. When one thinks logically about things emotions move to the back burner and no longer completely influence our actions." So you see, by learning math I'm hoping to deal with emotional issues more appropriately.

Here's the rub... When I study math, I get emotional... I can't help it, though I'm trying to work through it. When I look at an Algebra problem I don't understand, I have to fight a very real demon inside my head that tells me repeatedly, "You're too stupid, that's why you don't understand it, you'll never understand it, why are you doing this to yourself, you're wasting your time, give it up, you'll never learn this stuff." It plays like a recording OVER and OVER again and I get a lump in my throat just thinking about it now. Mel knows I'm fighting this beast known as self-doubt and despite my set-backs when the beast gets the better of me, she keeps me fighting. We stop mid-way through a lesson and go back to a equation I'm familiar with and build from there. Sometimes it seems we keep going through the same methods over and over again but Mel is always prepared to show me a different way of thinking about the problem. "Patience of a saint!" I say. She says, "No, I know it's in you, I know you comprehend it all, it's just that evil voice of doubt that's holding you back."

So here I am, a 43 yr. old Algebra student. Not doing math because I'm planning to enter some competition or earn a degree even. I'm just working through it so I can better understand myself. To become more grounded in how I think about things, everyday things, discussions with my kids, with my husband even... Interactions that allow me to think things through logically and not lead with an emotional outburst. I think it's working. I think Life, for me, doesn't feel wrought with the sharp steel edges of emotion like it used to. Now I'm more apt to stand back, think carefully before I speak. I'm also getting better at wrestling that dragon in my head, that evil naysayer who tells me I can't. That guy who didn't think I could ever solve a problem like this:

Dr. Johnson took one hour to drive from her home to Mercy Hospital and back. The return drive took 8 minutes less than the trip to the hospital. How long did it take her each way?

but now I can.
To some it may be a trivial thing, to me, it's nothing short of amazing.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Feeling Pretty & Dog Prognosis

The good news, Anna, our dog seems to be okay... Well, as far as we know anyway. Her blood work came back with no adverse results. Making it appear that she is healthy as a horse, wait, is that possible?... A horse? There's still a matter of the results from the lab on the tissue sample that was taken, but the vet strongly believes the lump is due to a sound bump she sustained to her back. How might this have happened you ask? No, I don't beat my dog... However, my dog has the habit of completely freaking herself out due to thunder, lightning, fireworks, odd noises, bumps in the night, bumps in the daytime, loss of electricity.... Oh, I could go on... She's just one big psychotic mess! There's a possibility that during one of her freak out sessions she tried to squeeze her body into a spot where it didn't quite fit and therefore suffered the trauma to her back... A $445 trauma to her back... Thanks Anna, there went the flat screen television for my bedroom.

In other news, the make-up session was a success. I have to admit I was rather hoping for a consult with a make-up ARTIST rather than a make-up salesperson, but I'm not sure how to go about finding one of those. What I mean is, the lady who worked with us knew her products but I was hoping she could give some insight as the best way for my daughter to wear her make-up... I guess I've watched too many episodes of 'What Not To Wear' on TLC. I'm always fascinated how a good make-up artist knows how to play up a good feature.

Perhaps the most hilarious part of the whole make-over was what an idiot I must've looked like. Anytime the salesperson told my daughter how to apply a particular product, like blush for instance, I would contort my face in kind... Smiling, so as to reveal the apple of my cheeks, raising my eyebrows for proper shadow application, puckering my lips, etc. I just couldn't help myself! And you know if YOU were there, YOU would've done the same exact thing!

Despite the lack of formal face shaping expertise on the part of the saleslady at Merle Norman she did manage to help us find some lovely shades of foundation, blush and eye shadows that compliment my daughters skin. I don't know if she left there glowing more from the make-up or from the new found confidence she felt over having someone fawn over her "gorgeous long lashes" and "beautiful brown eyes." All in all it was a worthwhile experience and I look forward to seeing how she's going to look all dressed up for the family wedding next weekend, as she seems to be saving all of the items we purchased for the special occasion.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

I Feel Pretty?

In a rush this morning... Heading down to Virginia for an overnight with my kids.

My daughter wants to start wearing make-up. Our faces are very different. I've tried helping her with eye make-up before but I just didn't know what to do... Still not sure I've got it right when I put my own make-up on.

So I decided she should learn from a professional. I considered taking her to the local M.A.C. store at the mall but after looking at their website I decided the 'Super-Slut' look just wasn't her style and thought she might look nicer with something more age appropriate. My mother-in-law has been visiting the ladies at Merle Norman for years and that's where we're headed for a make-over today and dinner out together tonight.

I'll be back tomorrow. Quite sure I'll have plenty of blogger fodder.

M.A.C. Style
Merle Normal Style

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

To Better Health

This morning my daughter the Health Nazi... Uh, I mean Health Manager... Had us rising at 7:00 am for a 2 mile morning walk in the hot humid air. Okay, it turned out to be much more of a meander but it's our first day back from many long weeks of lazing in bed until all hours.

We did a LOT of walking yesterday in search of that outfit for the family wedding. We were both wearing sandals which do a poor job of supporting my feet and apparently hers also, as she was complaining of pain up the front of her leg (Shin splint... at her age?) So before we walked this morning I made sure she changed into walking shoes AND showed her how to stretch... C'mon, she's 15 and the idea of stretching never entered her vocabulary... Well guess what? achy shins, now it does! I shouldn't brag here but I can touch my toes, she can't... So Nyah!

Anyway, 2 miles... We take the dog and she's all happy, 'cause she loves a good walk. We get home, stretch... I mean, I stretch again and after we sit down and start petting the dog my daughter notices a big... BIG lump on her back... Something we've never noticed before and we pet her ALL the time! I feel the lump and an ominous thought immediately jumps into my head... Tumor? I don't want to worry my daughter but I don't want to make light of it either so I tell her we should make an appointment. Poor, Poor Anna... She's had a rough month, what with the anal gland problem, Fireworks going off at any given time, Thunderstorms (a 3 hour long doozy last night) and now this? The poor dog is just wrung out!

We got an appointment for the vet and he aspirated the lump. Now we're waiting for lab results and hoping everything is okay. The vet had to shave a little square out of Anna's lovely fur (not to mention shave a $445 hole in our bank account) for the procedure and every time I look at her I wince and try to dog whisper to her to let me know if she's feeling pain and also let me know if there's anything I can do. I'm not sure the 'Dog Whispering' thing is working but she's sure loving all the extra attention. Now I must go and apply a cold pack to my dogs back... Sure beats administering the warm compresses to her anal glands.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The New Deal

In our house we've always had a system. There are 'Chores' that are assigned to each person, which allow for the smooth running of the household. It's my husbands 'Chore' to go to work and earn a paycheck. It's my 'Chore', along with numerous others, to grocery shop and assure there's plenty of healthy food in the house. My sons 'Chore' is trash management (emptying bins when needed and getting the barrels out to the curb twice a week) and my daughters 'Chore' is taking care of the dog (food, water, taking her out.) I tell you all this because as of Friday all of this 'Chore' stuff was done away with... Allow me to explain:

I forget why I approached my son last week. It was probably to have a talk with him over something he did or didn't do (my little talks nearly always come about in this manner.) Among many other things, I told him how I was jealous at just how easy his life was. So little is asked of him, whereas when I was his age I carried so much responsibility on my back. I HAD to work, I HAD to pay for all my clothes and essentials, I HAD to pay rent to my family and worst of all, I HAD to appease my step-mother in every way that I could to avoid her wrath. It's difficult not to look at your kids and think, "Man, I wish I'd had it this good." It's also difficult for me not to sometimes feel resentment towards them for it. But how can they know? How can they understand my circumstances, when all they've ever known is there own?... But I digress.

As my son and I discussed issues and expectations he stopped, looked hard at me and then crumpled. He was emotional and fighting back tears. I asked him, "What?" He said he couldn't say. I said, "I'll wait." And I waited. After a couple of minutes he collected himself and said. "People say that now I'm 18 I don't have to do what my parents tell me to anymore.... *pause*.... But that's all I ever do, is everything I'm told." Now some parents might laugh or mock and I admit that was my first impulse. However, the more I thought about it, I realized he was right.

Allow me to share some insight. My son is, and always has been, what we refer to as 'The Absent-Minded Professor'... He's there but he's not always THERE, if you know what I mean. His mind is usually busy processing facts, figures and ideas. He's usually so engrossed with what's swirling around in his head, he's often half alert. For instance, the time he went to heat something in the microwave and typed in our phone number... Fortunately you can't microwave a hot dog for 8 months, the machine won't allow it. So what happens is this... We're always pointing things out to him that he needs to do, like, hold the door open for Grandma when we go to visit her or offer to take her trash out for her. The problem is, whenever we point these things out he hates doing them because Quote: "Now that you've told me to do it, it becomes an order and not a genuine favor from me." He DOES want to notice these things and DO them and he gets very frustrated with himself for NOT noticing them. I tell him he needs us to remind him so it becomes a practice that gets cemented in his psyche. He disagrees and feels belittled every time it occurs.

Which leads me back to our discussion. When he said, "
People say that now I'm 18 I don't have to do what my parents tell me to anymore but that's all I ever do, is everything I'm told." I knew exactly what he meant and I said, "I understand, and from here on out, I absolve you from any and all chores." By making this deal he will either feel immense relief at the idea of not having to do ANYTHING or he could feel the burden of having to be responsible for genuine generosity.

Friday night we told my husband. At first he didn't seem happy at all with the idea of my son being absolved from chores. Eventually he asked, "If he doesn't have any chores than why should our daughter have any chores? Why should any of us have chores? Why should any of us have to be told what to do." Further discussion allowed us to iron out that from now on, No one in the house would be allowed to ask anyone to do anything. I know, ANARCHY right? Well, the idea is that each family member shows their generosity by taking notice and doing things that need to be done. Following our family meeting, it was an amazing thing to watch everyone pop up and begin attending to things. My son immediately checked the kitchen trash and took it out. My daughter took care of dishes in the sink and loaded them into the dishwasher. I saw the dog needed to go out and took her. Everyone in the family was glowing with the reward of taking care of each other without it feeling like a chore, for doing something simply because they wanted to be generous.

Enter Sunday morning... When my husband found in the hallway a single dog turd, pointing like a compass directly at my sons room, where the dog sleeps. DUH! DUh! Duh!... Nobody took the dog out on Saturday night. Since it wasn't anyones chore, no one attended to it. The New Deal needed to be reworked. Over Sunday Morning Family Breakfast we discussed the new problem we were facing. How could we know if things were getting accomplished if no one was in charge of them? Initially my daughter thought up a Sign-Up sheet. Much like the ones you find in public restrooms that are signed off to show the time and date the bathroom was attended to. I could easily see this going the way of the wind and family members forgetting to sign off, or even locate a pen, needless to say locate the sign off sheet itself. So we came up with the 'Responsibility List'... This is a list of things that MUST be attended to, or our home as we know it could collapse into utter chaos.

The things that needed managing are:
Trash to the curb (2 days a week)
The dog (food, water, potty)
Secure the house at night (doors locked, garage door closed)
Dinners (the family can fend for themselves breakfast & lunch)
Exterior Maintenance (lawn care)
and one more my daughter came up with:
Health Manager

After we made this list each person in the family offered to take on the different tasks that needed to be managed. With the assurance that just because they were managing the task it didn't mean they had sole responsibility of it, they were just the person who insured it was taken care of. So, if I remember it's trash night, I can take the trash to the curb and inform the manager it got done... If the manager notices the trash hasn't gone out he'll take care of it. Keeping in mind that this involves a group of people who wish to be generous to one another and not just trying to keep from doing work. Each family member gladly took on the management of the different tasks.

Trash - Son (he's used to the job so he decided to manage it)
Dog - Daughter (same deal)
Lock-Up - Son (he's awake the latest so he'll secure the parameter)
Dinners - Mom (I do the shopping but I'm always open to suggestions)
Lawn Care - Dad (Doesn't mean he has to do it, he just has to notice when it needs attention.)
Health Manager/Nazi - Daughter (she wants to ensure we're all exercising and eating properly.)

We decided to revisit this in a week and see how it's going but last night I revisited it... DUH! DUh! duh!... Things seem to be going great, my daughter is pitching in and helping everywhere she sees the need. My son however, who spends most of his time at his computer in the basement, is never around to see where he might be generous. I informed him at dinner that my generosity has a limit that can cross over and feel like indentured servitude. I should reiterate, it's not that he doesn't want to help, he just doesn't know how to take notice. I realize this is where we're going to have to help him along. After being chastised at dinner he moped around as my daughter and I took over clean-up. He offered to take the dog out, but the dog didn't want to go. He played with the dog while we worked, I guess thinking that if he was in the same room with us it would imply he was somehow involved in the process of clean-up.... WRONG! I began to get frustrated and angry until I realized something... He doesn't know what to do! That's when I said, "Son, you need to learn something... It's a little phrase that goes, Is there anything I can do to help?" So he looked at me and said, "Is there anything I can do to help?" I said, "Um, Yes! Would you put the rest of the salad away in the fridge." He had to ask me what to put it in but I knew he'd be able to figure it out if I pointed him in the right direction. After he finished the task the kitchen was clean and he said, "Tomorrow Mom, I'd like to help you with dinner, I'd really like to learn how to make the noodle salad dish you have planned." With both of us smiling, I hugged him and told him, "You've got yourself a date!"

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Update on the Shopping...

So we're back from the mall, my daughter and I... I've tried on nearly every black dress on the racks between Penny's and Macy's... Because you know, black is supposed to make you look uh, SLIMMER... Not true folks, not true. First I tried on several dresses which were too small... Hey, I can hope can't I? Then I tried on dresses the next size up which all looked big, frumpy and gave the impression I was in mourning. I tried on one dress that was so matronly, if I'd thrown on a big floppy hat and a long strand of beads I might well have been asked as I walked into the church at the wedding whether I was the Grandmother of the bride or of the Groom?

That's when I saw this really beautiful blouse. Why wear a dress, I asked myself? Then I told my daughter, what if I wore a really spectacular blouse with a pair of black slacks? "Try it on." she said. I did and it looked great except for one, uh I mean two minor problems. This was a blouse not fit for a bra so when I tried it on sans bra, well... It got REALLY sexy! I LOVED the blouse but feared if I wore it to the family wedding my new nick-name just might become 'Cousin Nipples'... I thought it might work... Maybe it wouldn't be as cold at the wedding as it was in the dressing room? "No Mom, I don't think it's going to work." my daughter admonished. Then she suggested perhaps I could find a strapless bra thereby cementing my nickname to be something more like 'Cousin Snappy Dresser' and lessen the likelihood of the 'Nipples' moniker. So we ventured over to the lingerie section. Now can I just stop and make a note here... Roughly 10 yrs. ago I had breast reduction surgery, I won't go much more into it than lay out the fact that I had 7.5 lbs. of boobage removed and in it's place are now a much smaller, more manageable set of twins. I DO however still have a sizable girth. So when I search for bras I'm always and forever stuck with the options of either it's big enough around but the cup size is gallons too big or perfect cup size but there's no way the hooks will ever meet. I am a woman forever on the hunt for a decent fitting bra.... So anyway, back to the search for something strapless. After a fairly thorough hunt I found a bra/girdle type arrangement that seemed stretchy enough as to allow for my girth but not be so big in the cup area as to completely lose the twins. So back into the dressing room my daughter and I sojourned. I'll spare you the play by play but let's just say that I DID eventually make my way into the strapless garment all the while my daughter asking, "Mom, can you breathe?" It wasn't so much that I couldn't manage taking a breath it was simply that I was out of breath having struggled so diligently to get INTO the contraption. My chest was glowing red from the abrasiveness of it all but eventually I managed to get everything in it's place... Much like an overstuffed pillow into a much too narrow pillowcase. When at last I slipped the fabulous blouse over my head and it fell down upon the torturous undergarment, I was dismayed to find the blouse didn't cover the bra. I tried some adjustments but there was no covering the damnable thing. My daughter and I both agreed to just give it up. All was solemn until it came down to removing the bra/girdle/torture device. At first I started to go upwards with removing it... That is until I could feel muscles straining and beginning to pop in my neck. Before I became completely stuck in a position which I knew I would forever be unable to free myself I pulled the garment back down. My daughter convulsing with laughter was little help as I informed her there was no way of going UPWARDS, that it simply must come DOWN! You know that pillow analogy I mentioned earlier? Well, the pillow gets much wider at the base so that little sausage case of a torture device was made to stretch far beyond its practical measure (Fortunately the bra/girdle thing was crafted of some sort of memory fabric which allowed it to spring right back into its original shape or else I would've felt the need to purchase the awful thing for having ruined it.) As I went through the long slow struggle of inching the garment down my body, both my daughter and I were overcome with fits of laughter that surely rang throughout not only the dressing room but the entire 2nd floor of the Macy's department store. So not only while struggling to contort my body into unimaginable positions I was also trying desperately not to pee my pants as was my daughter. Once I got the garment down to my waist I realized it was NOT going to fit over my shorts so those had to come down too... As I inched the horrible thing over my hips it nearly swiped my underwear down along with it. All this pain from skin rubbed raw mixed with all the side splitting laughter left me completely spent. I wiped at the sweat across my brow, swiped at the tears that were running down my face from laughing so hard and dressed in my loose comfortable clothes. I took one more look at that oh so fabulous blouse and said my final farewell. I restrung the strapless bra torture device back on it's little hanger and was amazed it looked no worse for ware despite all it had been through. I on the other hand hadn't faired quite as well. Defeated by the process of having found nothing to wear for the wedding my daughter suggested we get a snack to cheer me up. So arm in arm we walked off to the food court and enjoyed a pretzel together and laughed some more about our shared experience.

I'm sure to find something to wear eventually, I've still got 2 weeks before the wedding and who knows what other adventures await?

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My daughter and I are off to shop for something to wear to an upcoming family wedding.

I'll leave you with this little story from a previous visit to the mall which I posted a couple of years ago:


After a diagnosis last year of Type 2 Diabetes I've been pretty diligent about getting myself into shape. I've lost roughly 45 lbs, but think I have about 25 more to go.

It's so much fun trying on clothes (especially pants!) that are 3 to 4 sizes smaller than I was a year and a half ago... So yesterday my daughter and I did a little clothes shopping. While I tried on one outfit I was lamenting the inevitable roll of excess skin that very unattractively oozes over the top of my jeans and therefore buckles up in the shirt that lays over them... Picture if you will, the 'Michelin Man'... If I slouch, which I normally do when I'm not thinking about how I look... the roll is especially unsightly. So, while I'm trying things on I look in the mirror and stand tall and pose and make a pouty look with my face (like an over-paid runway model)... Then I follow up with the slouch pose so I'll get a feel for how the outfit really looks on me.

So there I was in the dressing room with my daughter yesterday... Posing and Slouching, Posing and Slouching and bemoaning the fact that I still look fat... When my daughter said, "Mom I think you look Great! In fact I'm worried you're going to get too thin and not be 'squishy' anymore!" Then she threw her arms around me right there in the dressing room and started hugging me and said, "Because I love the feeling of your squishiness!"

So here's the problem... How do I become HOT looking for my husband or more importantly... Myself! Yet keep that 'squishiness'? Because as horrible as it sounds being 'squishy' has its real advantages.

Post Note: The 'Hotness' thing kind of wore off and pounds piled back on. Now my daughter has all the 'squishiness' she can hug... Much to my dismay!

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Long Time No Post...

Well hello there bloggy friends. I hope you realize I haven't forgotten you. It's just that thing called LIFE, you know about it? Well, it keeps kicking me in the pants with all sorts of things which need immediate tending to. Also, that notion of SUMMER as a time to unwind and while away the days with contemplative reflection?... It's a freakin' MYTH!

So where were we? Hmmmmm?

Oh I know, last time we were together I told you about the wonders of house cleaning, family coming into town and the Anderson Family Reunion in New Jersey.

Well, the house got clean... For a minute or two. Now it looks like it wouldn't hurt for me to run the vacuum again and freshen up a toilet or two.

At the 'Eleventh Hour' my son and I came up with the idea of creating a photo montage, DVD presentation for the reunion. So amidst all the cleaning we compiled a beautiful keepsake of photos from family events throughout the years all set to music and made a disc for each family who attended the event.

On Thursday the family came into town and much bonding and overloading on baby cuteness was experienced.

Friday we all merrily traipsed up and over to New Jersey (did I mention how much I HATE driving in New Jersey?) for the 'Grand Old Party' that IS the 'Anderson Family Reunion'... I believe there were approx. 55 people in attendance, ranging in ages from 83 to 'bun in the oven'. And remember that story I told about Uncle Jack and the 'Buddy System'?

So every 4 years since 1982, I get to hear the story of how Uncle Jack sat one August night on the shore of Horse Neck Beach in Cape Cod, with whistle in hand and issued the 'Buddy System' to his charges (sons, daughters, nieces & nephews). Instructing them all to find their buddy as soon as the whistle blew, throw an arm up in the air and yell "HERE!" You all see where this is going? Of course the first time Uncle Jack blew the whistle everyone dove under the water... And that was the beginning and the end of Uncle Jack's 'Buddy System'. Sadly, this will be the first reunion without Uncle Jack so the telling might be just that much more poignant.

Well take a look at this:

What you see here is a replica of 'Uncle jack' and his infamous 'Buddy System'... Cousin Jake being the clever sort, rigged up this little gem... But he didn't stop there, oh no! Out of site, in a nearby bucket is a tape player with a recording of a whistle blowing at 5 - 20 minute intervals. So every time the whistle went off, everyone in the yard would stop what they were doing and raise their hand in the air. It took me and several others some time to figure out the system. For a while I was under the mistaken notion there was a public pool nearby. However, by the end of the day... It didn't matter if you were in the middle of a horseshoe, bocci or volleyball tournament... If the whistle went off, you raised your arm up in the air and grinned at the memory of Uncle Jack.

So now I'm busy trying to catch up on all the things I should've been doing these past couple of weeks. Instead of decorating offices, swapping cards, cleaning like a fool and making dvd's. I need to do things like, pay bills, catch up on my reading and math homework, grocery shop and try to figure out what everyone needs clothing wise for the Family Wedding we're attending in 2 weeks. Ya, I've gotta go find a dress and lord knows with all the good food I dumped down my gullet in the past several days, it's not gonna be a picnic.... Mmmm, Pic-nic!

Before I close I thought it might be fun to leave you all with a group shot from the reunion.

By the way, that pointing thing? It's just something we tend to do in at least one group picture at every family reunion... In other words, it's a goofy Anderson thing.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Nap Time Cometh...

Life has been INSANELY busy...
I woke at o-dark-fifteen this morning to sadly send our visiting family members back on a plane to Florida.
Now I just want to lay my head down and pull a Rip Van Winkle.

Regular posts will hopefully commence starting tomorrow... Or a hundred years from now.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I Even Cleaned Out The Fridge!

Why I ask you am I sitting here typing right now? I have family arriving at my house in less than 48 hours and my TO DO List is miles long.

We're all attending a massive gathering of 'The Anderson's' (my husband's mother's extended family) in Northern New Jersey this weekend for a 3 day Reunion Extravaganza! The 'Anderson Family Reunion' takes place every 4 years, always on an election year so we all have something to argue over.

So every 4 years since 1982, I get to hear the story of how Uncle Jack sat one August night on the shore of Horse Neck Beach in Cape Cod, with whistle in hand and issued the 'Buddy System' to his charges (sons, daughters, nieces & nephews). Instructing them all to find their buddy as soon as the whistle blew and yell "HERE!" You all see where this is going? Of course the first time Uncle Jack blew the whistle everyone dove under the water... And that was the beginning and the end of Uncle Jack's 'Buddy System'. Sadly, this will be the first reunion without Uncle Jack so the telling might be just that much more poignant.

Anyway, I digress...

So, of course I need to get the house cleaned from top to bottom and yet I sit here and blog... Because quite frankly, what's more fun, scouring out toilets and washing bed sheets or fielding comments from my adoring fan(s)?

So I guess I'm off to make the house sparkle and did I mention? I even cleaned out the refrigerator! Because, you know it's fun to do, at least every 4 years whether it needs it or not.

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Monday, July 07, 2008

I know what I said... But a girl can change her mind.

This is what I said, "vow to NEVER take on a decorating project EVER again!" Here. Of course, as with most projects in my life, the frustration didn't end there. I ran into more problems before the entire thing was completed and wrote about that nightmare Here. Believe me, I was 100% serious about ending my decorating career FOREVER because that job was SO stressful.

However, when a dear friend calls you up and informs you she's made the exciting decision to open her own law practice and "Can you help me with some decorating ideas for my new office?"... Well, who could say no to that? And since, as I like to say, the Alzheimer's helped to mellow the horrors of the last decorating project, I acquiesced.

So this is the part where I look back and ask myself, "Was it horrible?... No." "Are you glad you agreed to do it?... Yes!" In the scheme of things this job was EASY and FUN! For one thing, Amy already had a nice desk so that particular nightmare was avoided. The budget was tight so there was no need to go through the angst of window treatments and annoying rod placement. I did have a couple little frustrating projects that didn't turn out quite the way I planned but that all comes with the territory of trying something new.

So, I give you the before and after of Amy's new office:

There is yet another desk coming in where the computer will eventually reside. The smaller computer desk will 'L' off the existing desk. I'd also like to place another plant on the bookcase and perhaps a tree in the back corner.

I'm thrilled with the transformation of the tired old bookcase. It's amazing what a little can a paint can achieve. Because Amy practices 'Family Law' and occasionally will have a child in her office she came up with the brilliant idea of adding the child's table. The top looks red in this picture but it's actually brown. It's just a simple IKEA piece that I dressed up with brown & espresso spray paint.

Now I KNOW the color scheme is extremely familiar to the color scheme in the last office project and if I'd had my choice I would've done something in a whole other palette, because I get bored so easily with sameness. However, gray walls and blue-gray carpet must be a contractors wet dream because I''d swear the same exact bucket of paint and carpet reams were used on both offices. Oh well, I rather like blue & brown together as is evidenced by the look of my blog.

SOooooo, now I ask myself, will I ever decorate another office again? Hhhhhhhmmmmmmmaaaaahhhhhhhh-Hmmmmm-Uhhhhhhh,.... Perhaps.

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

But I Feel Like I Know You...

This past Thursday I had the unique opportunity to meet one of my favorite blogger friends face to face. It was fun, she was sweet and gracious and I am grateful she would even consider taking time away from her vacation to spend listening to me babble on... Which is exactly what I did.

As always, when I'm unsure of myself, I revisit the event and agonize over my ineptitude... Which is what I've been doing for the past 2 1/2 days. You see, when I'm nervous I have this really annoying habit of exposing too much... Not physically (though that might be nearly as uncomfortable to witness) but in a personal way. For example, on our first date I told my husband my entire life story, sordid details of my dysfunctional upbringing, insane family members and all. Amazingly and gratefully enough, he continued to ask me out and eventually married me, despite my lack of restraint and my crazy family. My lunch with Lime, followed pretty much the same script. I guess I kind of lay it all out there as a bi-product of a take me or leave me attitude. Also, over time, I've left some rather cryptic comments on her blog regarding my past and assumed it was important to fill in the blanks. But here's the WORST part. Because I didn't want to come off as an 'It's All About Me' person, I asked her questions regarding some of her more personal blog posts... Because hey, after a couple years of reading her blog, well, I feel like I know her... Oh please, just shoot me now! I probably coerced her into sharing more of her private self with me than she dared, yet she was reciprocal and interesting the whole time.

You know NORMALLY, face to face, I think I can be pretty humorous, albeit in a rather sarcastic way. So I ask myself, why didn't I stick with laughable topics like boob jobs, bowling girls & why I'm afraid of the drive-thru car wash? Instead I got all dark and heavy with my topics of conversation. Then to make matters worse, I bragged about how wonderful my kids are... Ya, that's the kiss of death. Nothing bores another mother to tears more, than having to listen to someone yammer on about their precious darlings. Not that I ever refer to my son and daughter as 'precious' or 'darling' but I might've spent a bit too much time listing their merits. However, once again my dear blogger friend smiled and engaged me in the conversation and though she may not know it, I really DID enjoy getting the opportunity to learn more about her and her family.

So, there it is folks! What it's like to meet me face to face. Line forms to the right.... What, no takers?... Yep, I don't blame you.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Persistence Pays Off...

My daughter can be the most determined individual I've EVER met. When she sets her mind on something she'll follow it through with dogged determination, the likes of which she surely didn't inherit from me.

Case in point: The other day she decided she was going to photograph hummingbirds.

First, here's a little back-story...

Our next door neighbor, a sweet little retired lady has a deck with several feeders hanging from it. I'm not sure how or when it all began but it seems there's an all out battle for the birds going on between my daughter and the neighbor lady. It was all rather benign at first... We had a pole that held a simple feeder. Our neighbor put up a pole with a simple feeder... No biggie, we all enjoy discovering our inner Audubon. When the Goldfinches started coming in droves we purchased a special feeder for them, but not long after, there was a similar feeder hanging from the neighbors deck. When she put up a birdhouse, my husband and my daughter made a weekend project of building and hanging their own birdhouse. When we eventually moved up in the world of bird feeding and purchased a squirrel proof feeder, it wasn't but a short time later that the very same style of feeder was hanging from the little retired lady's deck... This is the point when my daughter began to sense the gauntlet had been tossed, the battle had begun and it was a fight she was going to WIN! It's not unusual for my daughter to come stomping in from the yard, battle weary and say, "She's trying to steal all our birds!" Now I don't know if this is indeed possible but I wouldn't put it past my daughter, to sit outside with a bird list and a number counter to verify her suspicions.

Then came the war of the hummers. When the correct season hit, my daughter mixed up and put out the hummingbird juice... Shortly thereafter, our sweet little neighbor displayed her hummingbird juice, but she'd take the whole thing to another level, by tying a giant red bow to the pole in an attempt to lure more hummers. This method seemed to work, as she did seem to always have a hummingbird at her feeder, while ours seemed to have no draw whatsoever. It was as though our neighbors feeder had made the Zagat's list for hummingbird dining and some bird got the word out that our feeder was a roach infested dive... Well, there was that bee that gave his life for the sweet nectar and was floating around for a week in the sauce... Ya, that might turn me off too. I eventually explained to my daughter that the nectar has a 'shelf life' and with the heat AND the dead bee, it probably wasn't the neighbors fault SHE was receiving all the hummingbirds. So, a jar of new nectar was produced and my daughter waited... and waited... and waited. All the while watching the hummers flit happily around the neighbors feeder. Then, it happened... We got a hit! A rogue hummer decided to c'mon over and give our nectar a taste. And little by little we got a bit more traffic.

Which brings us to the day my daughter decided to photograph the little buggers. Initially she sat inside, thinking this would be the most opportune place to photograph a hummingbird without disturbance. She wanted me to remove the screen from our 2nd story window and however badly I wanted to aide in her attempt at wildlife photography, I wasn't willing to either pop the screen out from inside or climb a ladder to remove it. So, she moved to our dining room table which is next to the deck and a giant sliding glass door. However, this too proved to be a difficult spot for a decent photo. Eventually she moved outside onto the deck. She sat down, propped her feet up on a chair, with camera in hand and she waited... and waited... and waited. Sitting still like that for over an hour. Mind you, this quest for the perfect photo had been going on all morning and well into the after noon... At one point she used some real ingenuity. You see, the hummers kept sipping the nectar from the far side of the feeder, beyond the camera angle. So my daughter found some red tape and covered the holes on the back side of the feeder. This way when the hummer came to feed it would realize the blocked channel and move on the the open side where my daughter could photograph it. Patience and a clever mind eventually led to these:

And here's a picture I took of the photographer poised for her perfect shots. Seriously folks she sat like this for over an hour... Determined and Patient.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Pounding Pavement... My Pounding Head

This has been going on in my neighborhood for the last 4 weeks... Last week it was the curb along my driveway, which necessitated finding another place to park for the better part of the week... And this week their tearing up the next door neighbors driveway.

It seems that roughly 6 or 7 yrs. ago when they put the sidewalks in around here some crap contractor used sub-par concrete for the curbs and sidewalks. I'd thank them for rectifying what could be a mess 20 yrs. from now but DAMN, my head is ready to explode with the noise of the constant rat-a-tat-tat of the jackhammer.

I guess however, I should be grateful that I'm nursing my 2 week headache in the relative comfort of my air-conditioned home. Life would be much worse if I were the one leaning into a jackhammer in the cruel summer heat and humidity... So ya, at least there's that.