Monday, June 30, 2008

Seeking Well Wishes

My grandmother found out today that she will need bypass heart coronary surgery. It was discovered she has 5 blocked arteries with one main artery that has several blockages in-a-row.

Grandma went to the hospital last Thursday 6/26 with chest pains. She was in the middle of her bowling league and found her self short of breath, weak, pain in her arms and chest pains. So, right away my Grandpa Chuck drove her to the hospital. She was admitted and many tests have been run to see why she was having the chest pains.
The first thought was her blood pressure was too high. Grandma thought nothing of it. She failed her stress test and knew she was going to have a catheter test done today. She thought that she would have a stint put in through the procedure and she would be back to bowling in no time. Well, the news she heard today knocked everything out of her.

She is at a local hospital at the time being, but we are all waiting to hear when she will be transported to the Lahey Clinic near Boston (an hour and 1/2 away) for her surgery. We don't know when her surgery will be either so we are all waiting by the phone. I know she will be in good hands at the Clinic since that is where my husband and FIL had their liver transplant done.

So, over the next couple of days, please send your good thoughts, prayers and well wishes to her for a complication free surgery and quick recovery. I would really appreciate it! I will post updates when I know them. Thank you!

What is Zack up to?

We can't wait to see Zack at the end of July! We will see him in Virginia for a week and then have him here in MA for a second week. My husbands company shuts down for a mandatory vacation of sorts for two weeks and this is the arranged summer visit. We haven't seen him since Memorial Day weekend when his mom brought him to MA, so we are really looking forward to seeing him soon.

But in the mean time, Mr. Zack has been keeping himself busy. He finished up school on June 13th and hasn't looked back. We just received a text photo of his report card this weekend and he finished up 4th grade pretty damn good. He got all A's, B's and one C, and in my book, that is pretty awesome. He had the same grades all year too.

He is playing some summer sports. Zack is in a golf league that meets every Friday and he competes with other kids in his age group for the best score. He did it last year and he liked it so much, he's doing it again this year. He is also playing baseball for the first time on a team. Zack is pretty excited since his team is the Washington Nationals (which he can say he plays for the Major League team). He was playing soccer too, but we haven't heard much about it for some time now, so I'm not sure if that is over or he just lost interest.

Besides playing sports, he is keeping himself busy with friends and swimming in his backyard pool (must be nice, huh?!?!).

We don't get much more out of him on the weekly phone calls. You know 10 year olds with the one work answers to everything (How was school this week? OK, Did you learn anything new? Yeah, What did you learn about? Stuff).

Now we are starting to make our travel plans for the July visit and then we will move onto activities. So, if anyone knows of any fun activities in the Roanoke, VA area please let me know. We are open to all and any family ideas. Thanks!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

She can't make up her mind

Yesterday morning, my husband was out golfing and my FIL was working. I did a few errands myself, moving at my own pace with no worries. I remembered at the end of my list of things to do, my mom mentioning that she wanted to go to one of the local parks to walk around and take pictures one of these days. I figured it was a bright and sunny day, perfect for pictures.

So, I called my mom while I headed home to see if she wanted to spend a little time in Szot Park today. The conversation went like this:

Me-I was wondering if you wanted to go to Szot Park, walk around & take pictures today since the boys aren't home.
Mom-Oh, your father just got home (from doing his errands) and I don't know what he wants to do yet. Oh, I'm sorry.
Me-Its OK, I just thought it was a nice day and you were talking about it the other day. Maybe we can do it the weekend after the 4th.
Mom-Sure, that sounds really great. Yeah, lets do it then.

So, after chatting about a few other things the conversation ended. About a 1/2 hour later after I had gotten home, the phone rings. Its my mom with conversation #2:

Mom-OK, I'm ready
Me-For what?
Mom-To go to the park for pictures (in a very excited voice)
Me-You said no and I'm home working on my blog (yesterdays entry)
Mom-Oh, OK (in a very disappointed voice)
Me-Hey, you said no earlier
Mom-Its OK (in a very disappointed voice, like if she was standing in front of me, she would be giving me the puppy dog eyes)

So, after we hung up, I sat there starring at the computer screen. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and thought to myself, ugh! I picked up the phone and called her back. And that's how conversation #3 started:

Me-Fine, get ready.
Me-Yeah, give me 20 minutes to finish up and I'll be over to pick you up
Mom-Oh, OK (now back in the original excited voice)

So, after the back-and-forth of yes, no, yes, we headed off to a small park in our hometown to walk around and take pictures. I'd like to share with you some of the photo's I captured.

Even though, it was very uncertain the whole thing might not have happened with the whole back and forth game we were playing, I'm glad in the end that we both convinced each other to go. I had a wonderful time!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Cel-a-bration Time, Come on!

Last night, was my husbands & my combo birthday party. Yeah I had a little cheesecake on my birthday last week and (don't tell Jeff) he will have a little cake on his actual birthday next week too (his is 7/1), but last night was the gathering birthday for everyone to come together and eat yummy cake.

Our usual birthday party grub is pizza and cake. Hey, its simple and everyone loves both so we can't go wrong. Once-in-awhile we throw in a BBQ, but its much easier after work to pick up a cake and a party size pizza.

This party's cake theme was, get what you want! We found a delicious bakery that makes to-die-for cakes. I wanted a lemon cake, but I knew Jeff wouldn't eat it (since "fruit doesn't belong in a cake") so I had a brain storm, let everyone pick out their own slice and everyone will be happy.

The only hard part is the bakery doesn't have a to-go menu of all the cakes and they give a VERY brief list of flavors on their website, so everyone gave a brief description of what they wanted (except my dad, even before I could finish asking him what kind he wanted he said peanut butter & chocolate....ok, he is a man who knows what he wants!).

My mouth waters just looking at the collage of cake slices below. The cookie monster cupcake was for my niece, then starting in the front going clock-wise is double chocolate (my FIL couldn't finish it, he let my niece help him), peanut butter & chocolate, lemon, raspberry, carrot cake & then 3 more peanut butter & chocolate. Next time I'm at the bakery, I will take a picture of the display case. They have so may flavors to choose from, its amazing!

As soon as my niece, Ally, noticed her cupcake, she was ready to dive in. She never made it to the actual cupcake part, but how she loved that blue frosting. At one point, she looked like she had clown make-up on she smushed her face so far into the surgery-goodness.

So, thanks again for the presents! Jeff can't wait to play his new video game, spend his money and go to his comedy show. I can't wait to read all my new books, try out my new camera gadgets and spend my money too!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Smell of Rain

How could I have forgot this on my summer favorite list? I mean, it may have been since it wasn't raining the day I created the list, but hey everyone is allowed a brain slip once in awhile, right?

So, I love the smell of a soft rain in the summer. The type of rain storm where the birds are still outside chirping away or bouncing from puddle to puddle. The kind where there is no threat of thunder storms or sever weather. Its the kind where the smell catches your senses and it just brings you to your favorite outdoor spot. I mean, its so invigorating it makes you stop, close your eyes and you automatically take a deep breath and your imagination runs wild.

The scent is so specific, I couldn't even find a candle at Yankee Candle to capture the it.

I know sunny days and smiles go hand and hand during the summer, but there is also something about a summer shower that does wonders to someones day.

Today at work, I walked into a room where the windows were open and the smell just took me away for a spilt second and it was wonderful. If I could add an eleventh thing I love about summer, it would be the smell of a summer rain shower.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a first time novel written by David Weoblewski. To be honest, I haven't read this book yet, but something about the description of the novel intrigued me. So my book tour buddy and I went hear David speak about his book.

I am so glad that we went. The author is very soft spoken, humble, kind and excited about his novel. The books basic description is a grown-up tale about a mute boy and his dog. The long explanation about the book goes into a deeper description about why the author wrote this particular novel.

One of the reasons was there really wasn't many books about dogs in this type of setting. There are plenty of breed books, training guides and basic novels that really don't go in depth about a particular training dogs. David mentioned that authors write books since what they were looking for in the first place isn't available.

The author is an animal lover, but particularly a dog lover. He has a dog himself named Lola but he didn't revel her breed. The reason was the dogs in the novel are a fictional breed and if he let us know what kind of dog he has, it could reflect in our minds what kind of dog he used as a template for the novel.

Here are a couple of praises on the back cover-

"In this beautifully written novel, David Wroblewski creates a remarkable hero who lives in a world populated as much by dogs as by humans, governed as much by the past as by the present. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a passionate, absorbing, and deeply surprising debut."
— Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street

"Edgar Sawtelle is a boy without a voice, but his world, populated by the dogs his family breeds, is anything but silent. This is a remarkable story about the language of friendship—a language that transcends words."
— Dalia Sofer, author of The Septembers of Shiraz

So, when I start the novel I'll let you know and keep you posted after with my thoughts. The book reading last night was just so warm and lovely, I wanted to share about this novel before I even began to read it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Its a waiting game!

As some of you know, Jeff and I had a miscarriage back in February. I haven't FULLY recovered. The notion is always in the back of my mind that if it happened once, it could happen again, but I am moving forward.

We are officially trying again to get pregnant since the doctors told us to wait at least two cycles before we can try again (of course we didn't wait, you can say we practiced) so now we are in the 3rd month and going strong.

So, the whole process can be a hit or miss and that alone can be frustrating. But after the fertile mertil part of the month where you have to time things just right in order to conceive your little miracle, the waiting now begins.

All the experts out there give lists of things to look for before you can actually test to see if you are pregnant (since it may still be too early to tell). My concern is, half those symptoms occur if you are pregnant or not (you know, the Aunt Flo visit). Some of the symptoms that are listed on the Parents website are, fatigue, bloating, frequent urination, cramping, cravings, headaches and so on. So as you try to weed out the question am I pregnant or not, you basically still have to wait and see if you are late so you can take a pregnancy test anyway.

So, that is where we are right now. We are in limbo. We wait for either the knock on the door from Aunt Flo or get the notification she will be away for 9 months.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Witches, Broomsticks & Pirates....oh my!

This year was the first time in 10 years that I had the chance to take my birthday off from work. Before this year, we just didn't have the office coverage in the summer to be able to have such little perks, but this year we do and I took advantage (Thanks Char)! I didn't HAVE to take the day, but I chose too.

Since I declared to my boss that I was taking the day, the next step was to figure out what to do. So, I called my mom and asked her if she wanted to head to Salem, MA for the day? We were suppost to go last year, but never got a chance.

Yesterday morning, we hoped in the car and started our adventure. Then just under 2 hours we arrived in the town that put witches on the map.

Our first stop, the Witches Dungeon. It was there we took advantage of a package deal to see a few "museums" in the area that spoke about the town's history. It was a little building that held a little stage for a live reenactment of a witch trial and then a dungeon in the basement. The dungeon was filled with wax figures, but we got the idea. Here's an interesting fact....people who were imprisoned had to pay to be there, their food, their shackles, their buckets to relieve themselves, etc. If they couldn't afford to pay and it came upon their release date, the prisoners were kept there until their families paid for them or they paid with extra imprisonment time.

Lock her up & throw away the key (Just Kidding Mom)

The next stop on the tour was the Witch History Museum. This was a walk through of witch hysteria history that started in Salem. The story was told by wax figures in a 1600's setting in a freeze frame of each important detail.

The cheesy rendition of the Salem hangings of innocent people

The final stop in the tour package was the New England Pirate Museum. I don't know why this would be in the package of museum tours because the town is all about witches, but maybe since we were by the water or there was some sort of theory during the coordination of the tours that they were connected, but who knows. Again, this was another walking guided tour, but with pirate wax figures showing the history of pirates not only in New England, but in the world. *Each museums wax figures were very weird and hokey looking, but they told the stories just fine*.

I was told this wasn't Johnny Depp, dang it!

Between each museum stop we also did some shopping. They have the cutest and quaintest little shops in that area. They have shops ranging from serious witch supplies for potions all the way down to souvenir shops for the area.

Also, while we were walking around I noticed a store front offering tarot, psychic, crystal ball, aura and many other readings. I looked at my mom and said, since I'm here there isn't a better place to get a reading done. I never had an official reading done and of course no idea what kind I had wanted. So, over the next few hours I had decided to go with a tarot reading. After searching for a shop that had a "reader' in for the day, I found a cute little shop called Angelica of the Angels and signed myself up.

I borrowed this picture since I couldn't take photographs during the reading.

I'm not going to bore you with all the details of my reading, but it was pretty interesting. I tried not to give her too many details so she couldn't feed off my answers, but on several occasions she brought things up that were true and I hadn't even said a word about the situation. For instance, she saw in my cards that I was getting a raise and it was quite sudden. So, I thought it was pretty interesting for my first reading.

If you are ever in the Salem, MA area and is interested in the town and the history of its people, definitely stop by. We did it in a day, but we could have stayed longer to see everything the city has to offer (and not just witchcraft stuff either).

Monday, June 23, 2008

What happend in 1979?

Cost of Living
1979 Inflation Rate USA 11.2%
Average Cost of new house $58,100.00
Average Income per year $17,500.00
Average Monthly Rent $280.00
Cost of a gallon of Gas 86 cents
Sony Walkman $200.00

Popular Films
Superman The Movie
Rocky II
The Muppet Movie

Popular Musicians
Bee Gees with " Love you Inside Out "
Blondie with " Heart of Glass "
Michael Jackson
The Eagles
Pink Floyd
The Police
Village People

Popular TV Programmes
All My Children
M*A*S*H The
Price Is Right
Happy Days
Little House on the Prairie
The Love Boat
Three's Company
Diff'rent Strokes
Mork and Mindy

And 29 years ago today, my parents welcomed a little girl weighing 6lbs 7 ounces at 1:05am. That baby girl was me! Happy Birthday to everyone who shares the same bday too!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I can't wait until next time!

We survived the weekend camping trip! It didn't seem like it was going to start in a good way since it was thundering, lightening and raining as I pulled into the driveway on Friday. Jeff was already home getting everything together. I walked in the door as a rumble of thunder was heard from above and Jeff saying, that doesn't sound good in a semi-sarcastic tone. I thought to myself, oh here we go a bad start off to the trip.

I explained in a calm voice to Jeff, lets calm down, pack the car and lets see what happens. Jeff then walks away grumbling under his voice. Finally the car was packed up and the house double checked for anything left behind and then we were off.

About 20 minutes into our trip, the sun was shinning, the rain had stopped and I could breath a sigh of relief. I could feel the anxiety melting away. My outlook on the weekend changed, phew!

We went camping at Tolland State Forrest in Otis, MA about an hour from home. We arrived at the check in area, did our paperwork and then it was off to find our site (#65 on the map above).

The roadway leading to our site.

I was a little worried since the sites at the begging of our journey into the park were so close to the road. It wasn't much room for relaxing or moving around. But as we approached our area, it was perfect. We had plenty of room to fit our car, tent and canopy to go over the eating area. And, if we had anyone with us (in a tent) there would have been plenty of room for their stuff too. This is the site we will keep in mind for future outings.

Our tent set up (it went up in less then 15-minutes)

The greatest thing about the site was the closeness of the "comfort station" with the restrooms, showers and sink to clean dishes. Now, I like camping but I need a toilet. There is just something about reliving myself in the woods that just doesn't make me feel easy. I mean if I HAD to , I would. The only "bad" thing was the constant slamming of the door of people entering and exiting the facility, but it was something I could deal with.

The "comfort station" near our site

So, what did we do this weekend? Not a whole lot and that's fine with me. Jeff has a co-worker that is a host resident of the park who basically lives there on the weekends and is a maintenance worker for the park. So, on Saturday he brought us out on the lake that surrounds the camping area during the day and then again at night for a sunset cruise. Then he was gracious enough to lend us some firewood when our pile was growing low. So, that was great.

Our site

We also played cards, played catch, walked around the park to explore the other sites and the beach area (for next time), relaxed, read our books, napped and relaxed some more. It was a lovely weekend. We enjoyed it so much we were planning our next two camping trips (one with Zack and one more before the end of the season) during this camping trip.

Oh, let me tell you about our s'more adventures. The first night, disastrous. The cracker was burnt while the chocolate and marshmallow were unfazed. So, we picked the pieces apart and ate what we could salvage. The next day, while we were sitting around, we had a brainstorm. Let's roast the marshmallow first then make the sandwich and put that back into the fire in our s'more maker. Oh, let me tell you I was in heaven when I took my first bite after our brainstorm. Yummy! Also, I tried the peppermint patty instead of the plain chocolate, oh that just takes you to the next level of scrumptious. I recommend it!

View of the sunset from the lake

We survived each other and the area. The weather cooperated. Mother nature gave us cool days with sunshine and brisk evening, but we were prepared. It was a lovely time with my husband and I can't wait to do it again!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Never Belive A Memoir

Unless its by Augusten Burroughs (well, that's according to him). My friend, Charlyn and I went to see his book signing & reading the other night. Augusten mentioned to never believe a memoir fully while he was answering a question, then he said unless its mine. After he made that comment he said, oh now that's going to be the headline in tomorrow's newspaper. Everyone laughed and I leaned over to my friend, well it'll be the headline on my blog.

The whole event was so carefree, inspiring to those who want to tell their stories, honest and funny. The tour was to promote his new book, A Wolf at the Table. During the talk, Augusten spoke about his relationship with his parents, but mostly about his father. He had explained that he wasn't even planning on writing about his father and just keeping a few chapters about him in Running With Scissors. After his father died & he had inherited his diaries and paperwork, it was then decided he would write about him. He explained that this memoir was hard to write since he had to remove his humorous defence mechanism to write such a truthful novel about his experiences with his father.

I wish I had asked the question, but Augusten never mentioned how his father came to be such a neglectful, mentally abusive father. Maybe Augusten will never find out, but maybe a glimpse into his fathers past (more then he spoke about) could help figure out why. I know there is no excuse for his father (or anyone) being such a "devil" of a parent, but at least there could be some revelation as to why.

The one thing that really stuck with me from the entire experience was his answer to a question regarding how he dealt with all the issues in his past. His stated that bad things happen to people and you cannot truly heal from that experience. Heal is a TV term to make things all warm and fuzzy. A person will have a hole inside of them that can become very large, but eventually it stops growing and it becomes enclosed with bravery. That hole is still there, but you are able to move on. He says he is like a piece of swiss cheese, but he can still love, shop and and continue to live.

Augusten mentioned he is working on another book, another memoir. I'm assuming the timeline for this memoir will be after his novel Dry, but he really didn't say. So, we'll have to see! Also his brother wrote a memoir regarding his life with asperger's syndrome. That book is "Look Me In The Eye' by John Elder.

If you ever get the chance to see Augusten speak, I would recommend that you do. After his talk, reading and answer & question session, we were able to have our book signed by him. As I handed him my book and I told him what a wonderful thing he did that night, he never stopped looking into my eyes. He made a connection with me (just like he did everyone else) and it made me feel like he honestly appreciated that each and every one of use came out to hear him speak. He never looked away even as he signed my book. Amazing!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Summer is knocking!

I know it may feel like summer out there, but officially summer starts tomorrow. I couldn't wait for the warmer months to be here and now they are, I want to share why I love the summer.
  1. BBQ's
  2. Fresh Strawberries
  3. Longer Days
  4. Smell of fresh cut grass
  5. Sitting Outside
  6. Homegrown Tomato's
  7. Corn from the local farmers
  8. Ice Cream
  9. Bike Riding
  10. Warm sunshine


I felt I had to share this photo of my niece Ally. She was showing her Uncle Jeff what she wanted from her magazines last night. She didn't want to look at the camera, so I finally told her if she looked at me I would leave her alone. Well, I didn't think I was bothering her THAT much, but hey....I was able to capture this cute picture. What a cutey, huh?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My Backyard

I haven't gotten a chance to report on our vegetable garden this year. The tomato plants have been in the ground since mid-May, but they are really coming along. We have 6 plants (which we bought already started for us) and they are getting taller. I'm so excited.

I can't wait to have fresh tomato's from the garden. We already have some flowers on the plants which is a good sign. Quick story-my FIL went out an bought our plants without me this year since we were at my cousins wedding in May and he couldn't wait for me any longer. So, the night of the wedding he lets me know he bought the plants and he had set them out in the garden where he would like us to plant them. Great! Then his next sentence was to inform me he bought the plants from Ocean State (which is a discounted store for rejected items from other stores) and he really isn't sure they are actually tomato plants. Oh geez! I said hopefully soon they will be showing signs that they are indeed tomato plants and finally they are! Phew!

We also are trying cucumbers from seedlings this year. Hopefully they will turn out better then my carrots from last year (OK Sarah, stop laughing). I have to report that my carrots did not grow any longer then 2 inches long, but they were fat so at least I has something! The first carrot I picked (early so I can check the progress) was so small and petite that my niece thought it was for her toy bunny. Nice, huh? So, we'll see if cucumbers work better for us this year!

Now onto my strange phenomenon near my swing in the back yard. I notice an occurrence of mushrooms popping up every time it rains. The next day after a heavy rain, I have dozens of mushrooms mixed in with my mulch! I have no idea why! I pluck them from the ground, then they keep coming back in different locations.

I have a weed/grass blocking material separating the dirt and the mulch to help stop sprouting so the only thing I can think of is either some kind of bacteria is on the material or its the mulch I bought. Any suggestions why? Or something to make them stop growing?!?

We've never had a mushroom growth like that in our yard (well, at least since I've been here for the last 6 years). Last year when we set the swing up, laid the weed/grass blocker and the mulch, this never happened. Its just very odd to me that its only in this area of the yard. I go out there every time and pick them, and they just keep coming back.

Stiff (the novel you dirty minds)

My first thoughts finishing this book was, wow I didn't know there were so many options after death for your body. Ok, let me back up here before I jump ahead.

This book is about a women, Mary Roach, who researched the countless ways a human cadaver is used with the notion the person requested their body used for scientific purposes after they die. The range is amazing. The author did bring up a good point that you may request one thing but truly it is up to the people who are left to carry it all out to actually follow through since they have to feel comfortable with what they are doing for you.

Mary researched all things a cadaver could participate in as long as the person requests there body to be used for science research. The topics she touches upon are plastic surgery research, anatomy research, human decay samples, human crash test dummies, plane crash passengers, military testing, religious theories, organ donation, possibility of head transplants, cannibalism & cadaver compost bin possibilities.

Yes, the book could be morbid at times but the author has a way about her style that makes it interesting. She loves her work and it shows. She goes after questions we all want to know, but are afraid to ask in disrespect to the person who is lying in front of you. The author made me laugh out load at times with her corky sense of humor with such an odd subject. Its definitely something to consider reading if you are interested in this type of thing. I wouldn't recommend it as a light hearted summer read though.

I know she got me thinking about what I would like to request my family to do with me after I am no longer here. But hopefully that is a long, long time from now and who knows what other possibilities there will be out there to chose from!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

S'More Recipies

While I was sorting through our camping gear last night, getting things ready for this weekends maiden voyage into the unknown (camping with my husband that is), I noticed these nifty new twists on the basic s'more recipes inside our s'more maker. I thought they were pretty interesting and wanted to share with you since its that time of year for s'more's.

Nifty Little Ditty, the S'More Maker

Also, don't think you have to make them over a campfire! Over the winter when we baby-sat my niece, we made them in the microwave. So, if there is no campfire in your near future, don't feel like you are left out. Take advantage of the tools around you and enjoy these ooy-gooey treats!

The scouts favorite basic recipe is simply placing a couple semi-sweet chocolate squares, along with a large marshmallow between graham crackers. Heated over your campfire until chocolate melts and the marshmallow is gooey.

Amy's Way
Use a peppermint patty in place of the chocolate bar square.
*Thanks Amy for the suggestion, I can't wait to try it!*

Merry Berry
Use one large marshmallow and poke a hole in the center and push in a fresh strawberry-or your favorite jam.

Peanut Butter Cup
Under the marshmallow place a mini peanut butter cup.

Whip It UP
Use marshmallow whip in place of a marshmallow.

Use 2 cookies in place of the graham cracker.
*Maybe chocolate chip cookies?*

Over and under the marshmallow, place a cube of caned pineapple.

Nutty Peanut Butter
Spread chunky peanut butter on a graham cracker, add a chocolate bar square and top with a marshmallow.

Trail Mix
Use trail mix and mini marshmallows.

Banana & More
Add a slice of banana under and over the marshmallow.

You Must Be Nuts
Push peanuts into marshmallows before placing it between the graham crackers. Also works with chocolate chips, raisins, M&M's caramel or chocolate kisses.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Grandpa!

Happy Birthday to my best buddy, grandpa. We have been the best of buds all my life, but even more so after my grandma passed away over 12 years ago. Since then, we have grown inseparable, even though there are hundreds of miles between us.

Grandpa has seen many things in his 82 years, but nothing as significant as being part of WWII. He was in the Navy and on a ship heading to Pearl Harbor during the infamous attack. Luckily they were called off the last minute.

He married his childhood sweat heart and remained happily married for almost 50 years, until diabetes caused her kidneys to shut down which claimed her life. But in those wonderful years, he became a father to two boys (my dad and Uncle David) and then became the proud grandpa to 3 granddaughters who absolutely adore him.

There is so much to say about this wonderful man, but I will be here for days telling you about countless stories. Everything he has been apart of has made him the great man he is today.

Happy Birthday to my best friend and may there be many, many more!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Our Weekend

What a busy, but fun weekend we had in MD visiting my grandpa. The weather was pleasant being not too hot but just right with a breeze all weekend. So our trip went like this-

Jeff and I headed to the airport after we left work early. We did the airport routine; parked car at airport parking, took shuttle, checked luggage, made it through security and then waited for our flight. Our flight wasn't bad except for a little turbulence towards the end, but nothing too major.

After we got our baggage we proceeded outside to wait for the rental car shuttle. So far, so good. We get our rental car and drove out of the parking garage. Before we go any further, let me explain that usually I am the navigator and Jeff usually drives. Well, this trip I was the driver and Jeff was the navigator (he had received 4 stitches in his hand on Thursday from a metal mis-hap at work, so his hand was still too sensitive to drive) and this just messed with our whole travel routine. I think our GPS knew this and decided to act up while we got lost getting out of the car rental place (the car rental place is not at the airport, so it makes things difficult).

Our cute little rental car (PT Crusier)

Eventually, the GPS woke up and started to work and so we were able to get on the correct path. We were riding around the airport looking for familiar routes or signs letting us know where to go, and no such luck. We were at the hands of the GPS Gods. I was worried this was going to be the start of a bumpy trip.

After we arrived at grandpa's all the worries that this would be a bad trip just melted away. He was waiting outside for us. We sat on the front stoop for about an hour in the nice breeze just chatting, catching up and making plans for Saturday. It was a good end to a busy day.

It was decided that grandpa wanted to go visit my aunt & uncle (his SIL & BIL) since he hasn't seen them for some time. We made it to their house for a nice relaxing lunch time visit. We passed the time catching up with stories that are just too long for email between us. Its was a wonderful time. A few hours later grandpa decided it was time to head back to his house. So we said our goodbyes until next time.

Aunt Virg, Uncle Carl & Grandpa

After we returned to grandpa's Jeff helped his with a few tasks around the house that he just couldn't do. Not a problem! Then it was time to go out to supper. We decided to go to our regular spot, Sibeals. We like to go since they have KENO. Its the perfect appetizer before supper. I hate to report that everyone won something except for grandpa. Oh well, there's always next time!

Today was an errand day. We ran grandpa around so he can get some shopping done at Walmart, went to the dollar store (for his word search books), to the cemetery (to visit his wife, my grandma) and then grabbed some lunch. While we were out, my uncle was out buying grandpa a cake.

When we got back to his house, the cake was sitting on the table waiting for him. Grandpa was so surprised, he was speechless after he blew out his candles. I guess we really surprised him

After cake it was back to sitting outside on the front stoop sharing stories and memories. Grandpa likes to talk about his childhood, the time he dated my grandmother, his days working in the printing office in DC, his retired years and any other memory he wants to share. And every story he wants to tell, I'm right there listening (even if I've heard the story many times).

This wasn't our plane, but I didn't want to post the ugly brown plane we had!

Then it was time to head back home. Jeff & I made it back to the airport with plenty of time to spare, since we didn't know if we would have the same issue as we did on Friday, so we decided to go sit at the bar inside security. I had a glass of wine (Pino Grigio), he had his draft beer (Sam Adams) and we split an order of crab cakes. What a great way to end a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Goin' to see my BFF!

We are leaving on a Jet Plane (Southwest Airlines to be exact) tomorrow afternoon to see my grandpa! It was suppost to be a Zack weekend in MD, but we all know how that turned out (with the old switch-a-roo to memorial day weekend). It would've broken grandpa's heart if we didn't go because of the swap, and I can't handle that. So Jeff and I are taken off to good ol'Beltsville MD. We are busten out of work early and heading to the airport.

This weekend is all about grandpa. We do what ever he wants to do....if he wants to walk around Walmart, we do.....if he wants to people watch at the mall, so do we......if he wants to sit at home on the front stoop and talk, well, so will we! You get the idea.

I've been visiting him on this combo weekend for over 10 years now and I'm not about to stop. Besides, I wouldn't hear the end of it. Grandpa may be turning 82 years old on Monday, but don't mess with his routines. No sir!

I will share our visit when we return, but until then........have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thats right, I like ice cream cake!

So, I borrowed/stole/used this wonderful little mosaic idea from my SIL Sarah's blog and made one for myself using my answers. I'm pretty proud of my photo collaboration. What about yours? Follow the simple steps to create your own!

a. Type your one-word answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into mosaic maker.

1. What is your first name? Amanda
2. What is your favorite food? Chocolate
3. What high school did you go to? Holyoke High
4. What is your favorite color? Purple
5. Who is your celebrity crush? Wentworth Miller
6. Favorite drink? Kahlua & Milk
7. Dream vacation? Ireland
8. Favorite dessert? Ice Cream Cake
9. What you want to be when you grow up? Debt Free
10. What do you love most in life? Family
11. One Word to describe you. Loving
12. Your flickr name. princessmagggie

Where my mosaic photo's came from on Flickr- 1. Amanda Style 2. Hot Chocolate 3. Holyoke High School 4. Purple Rose 5. Wentworth Miller 6. Kahlua & Milk 7. Let there be light 8. Big Ole Ice Cream Cake 9. Debt Free 10. Snowmen Family 11. LoveXOXO 12. Princess Painting

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Phew! Its Hot!

New Englanders welcomed our first heat wave of the season this week, and officially its not even summer. We have 10 more days until we welcome summer. Our heat wave started on Saturday and continued to get worse as each day passed.

Today, temperatures hit 100 in areas and had high humidly. Is it me, or did it seem to come upon us especially fast this year? We went from a cool Spring to a hot, sticky and humid late Spring in the blink of an eye.

Jeff and my FIL were able to put our Air Conditioners in our windows yesterday for some relief at home. I usually don't like AC, but on certain days, I welcome it like its royalty arriving for a visit. I figure when I sweat walking from my office to my car, its definitely AC time.

The one's I truly feel bad for are those who have to work outside or don't have the luxury of AC in their work environment, like my husband & FIL. Jeff and my FIL work in a machine shop and they have to count down the minutes before they can leave to go home to cool off. Granted there is an office with AC they can go into and have a brief break, but that to me (and them) is a form of torture, making things worse.

I can't wait for it for the humidity to "break" as they say around here. There are rumors that it should "cool" down starting tomorrow, but I don't believe those who predict the weather as mush as some do.

Monday, June 9, 2008

A Wolf at the Table

This book is a memoir of the authors father.

The first thing that popped in my mind when I finished this novel was thinking it would different. Most of the book was about his dis-functional childhood and how he and his mother would escape his fathers tormenting actions (or at times, no action just ignoring his family).

I thought the book would focus mainly on how his father became to be the way he was as an adult and maybe some insight behind his actions. One chapter in the beginning touched on a little of his father's childhood and a few at the end spoke about his father in his elder years, but the rest was about the brave child who had unstable parents and hope that someday things would change.

I did like the book even though it was dark and hard to imagine a child going through the disturbing type of situations. I'd recommend reading this book before Running with Scissors so you have background information before reading the other book since I feel its a pre-qual. Wolf at the Table talks about the authors adolescent years and Running with Scissors focuses on his teenage years.

The author states that a Wolf at the Table, Running with Scissors and Dry (his novel about his years after high school) are all memoirs, but you never know if they are true tales of someones life after the James Frey debacle with Million Little Pieces (remember the whole Oprah deal where she was crushed after she learned most of the detail in the book was exaggerated), but you never know for sure.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Happy Fathers Day *EARLY*

I know, I know its a week early, but I had to celebrate it early for my dad and the other father's in my life (like my husband, FIL & BIL). Jeff and I will be out of the area for father's day next weekend (we will be in MD celebrating my grandfather's birthday and of course father's day with him) and I didn't want to miss out on celebrating for everyone here.

I decided to have a little BBQ with hot dogs and burgers. The classic BBQ. We didn't have anything too fancy, just some time sit outside, enjoy our lunch, gossip and enjoy every one's company. We did miss my niece and SIL since they were visiting with her family. Oh well, there is always next time for them to join us!

So, to my dad....happy father's day early. I wish I could show you the gratitude for everything I have learned from you over the years. You've taught me respect, loyalty, gratitude and most of all love. I know mom is in there somewhere too, but you will always be my daddy. I will always be daddy's little girl. People tell me how lucky I am to be able to see my father every day (at work) and you know what, I am. I know sometimes I'm busy and we can't chat as much as we would like, but at least we get those few minutes to chat daily. I really appreciate you. Thanks dad!

*sorry for the heart-attacks for those who thought you missed fathers day

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Gearing Up

A couple of months ago, Jeff & I discussed the possibility of camping. I loved it when I was younger & he was a boy-scout when he was a kid (mostly goofing off while in the program, but none-the-less, a boy-scout) and he likes being outdoors so we figured we would give it a try with Zack. We decided to go with Zack when he was here in MA for his week visit in August. We wouldn't go for the whole week, just a few days.

I thought about our new plain a& didn't like the idea of our first time out camping to be with Zack. Don't get me wrong, but I didn't want the first time assembling a new tent (which would probably be a tense moment) and most likely figuring out we left important items at home since we hadn't camped before. I don't want it to be a bad experience and turn Zack against the whole idea 100% since he really isn't up for it in the first place. So, I brought up the idea we should camp out a few times before we get him just to work out the kinks and get a knack for the whole camping thing.

So, tonight Jeff and I headed to Walmart to stock up on camping supplies. We bought everything from a tent (a 6 person, 2 room tent) to camp fire starters. I think we are all set now to actually live out in the wilderness with all the stuff we bought, but hey....its better to be prepared then not! Right?!?!

Our new tent

After we checked out, Jeff made a interesting point. The register asked if the purchaser was over the age 16 for our shovel. Of course we are, but we found that odd. Then when the cashier scanned the propane tanks, nothing, no questions on age, just a beep and the price displayed. Jeff found this very disturbing that there is an age check on a camping shovel, but not propane tanks. I guess more under age kids get hurt with a shovel then propane, who knows!

So, this weekend we are going to set up the tent in the back yard as a test run and camp out in our back yard. I can't wait! Next, we have to pick a weekend to head out into the wilderness and try out the rest of the gear. I'm so excited!

So please pass along any camping tips, suggestions or even fun (or frightening) stories!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Throw in the towel, your done!

Tonight was our volleyball play-offs. Yup, 10 weeks of play have passed us by in a blink of an eye. I really didn't talk about our stats or competitions this time around since I really wasn't into it this session.

I'm not 100% sure why I wasn't buy maybe it had something to do with one of my teammates. I had the guy that mostly everyone dislikes in the legue, so that brought the energy of the team down to start with. Also, I missed a couple of nights due to the opportunity of some over-time and a hair appointment, but besides that I just wasn't feeling it this time around.

But, with that said my team ended up tying for 4th place for tonight's play-off. My team was tied with Jeff's. So, we had to battle it out to see who placed in 4th & 5th. On tournament night, we play the best 2 out of 3 games, playing up to 11 points (instead of 15 points during the other weeks). So, we matched up and my team lost 2 games in a row. Oh, well! So, our standings for the end of the session was Jeff's team 4th place, my team 5th place. At least we weren't last (there are 6 six teams).

Jeff really didn't want to play either, but his team kept advancing. He kept waiting to lose, but his team kept beating the other teams until it was his team against the first place team to see who would be the winners of this session. He wasn't expecting that. After Jeff was now head on head with the first place team, he figured he would put in the effort since they have a 50/50 chance of winning overall.

His team went on and beat the first place team, 2 games in-a-row! Nice! So, they are the champions. They all won a $25 gas card! Sweet!

Volleyball is now over for us until the fall since we play in a middle school's gymnasium and within a few weeks school will be over and the gym closed. So, we are hanging up our volleyball shoes for now and concentrating on other things for the summer like golf, bike riding, yoga and video games. I had to put that last one in for the hubby!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Backstage Pass

Have you ever wondered what your favorite musician requires for backstage? Check out this link to see what Christina Aguilera, J.Lo, The Backstreet Boys and many more what they "demand" for their shows.

The Smoking Gun, Backstage Pass

Some of them are pretty wild and some you wonder if they know they can have a little pampering, like Mandy Moore. But, hey she doesn't seem to be a diva and I guess she really isn't, so good for her. Check it out for yourself!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Feel The Burn

I know the title for today's entry sounds like something from a bad aerobics work out video from the 80's, but I promise its nothing like that. Its the first thing that popped in my head the other day when my FIL asked me "do you want to take the bikes out?". What he means by the bikes are our kick-ass mountain bikes. Ok, ok, I know mine is a hand-me down from my work (there was a raffle and I won) and my FIL's bike is a little old, but who cares. They still get the job done for us!

At first John just wanted to go around the block. We rode out of our driveway and started to head down the street and all of a sudden I hear, naaaaa lets go to the reservoir. Yeah! We both ran inside to change into our official bike riding clothes. Then he placed the bikes onto his neat-o rack on his truck and then we were off. You might be asking, where is your husband? Well, he was home trying to make it to the next level on Call of Duty.

Our bikes on the neat-o rack

Anyways, we arrived at the reservoir and the entrance way was lined with cars. I guess everyone else had the same idea, either to walk or ride in this beautiful area. In no time the bikes were on the ground and we were riding on the pathway around the water.

Entrance into the Reservoir

I didn't realize how much I missed being in that area. The sights, smells and peacefulness. Its hard to describe the smells that had awaken my senses right then and there while riding, but its a mix of pine, dirt and the woods. Those scents mixed together just mean happiness for me. It must be why I love the outdoors so much.

Half-Way Point View Around Reservoir

Ok, back on subject, we "felt the burn" in our muscles on the first incline around the reservoir. Yeah it wasn't long into our ride that we had, but we were out there having fun and getting exercise (no pain, no gain...huh?). We really enjoyed our ride watching the families walking or biking, spotting the wildlife (turtles, baby geese, a hawk and chipmunks). I hope we can fit another ride in this weekend, even if its just once around like the other day. Oh how I love the warm weather!

Turtles Sunning Themselves