Sunday, August 31, 2008

The History of Labor Day

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Founder of Labor Day
More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold."

But Peter McGuire's place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

Well, no matter who founded the those who actually have the day off (yeah, I'm working the college during the big move in weekend) enjoy your long weekend!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

My New Toy

I finally broke into the box of my new toy I bought last weekend. Jeff bought new tools to build our shed last weekend, but while he was looking, I noticed something that would help me around the house. It would also use the same battery as Jeff's power tools that he just bought too.

Its my very own wet/dry portable Ryobi vacuum. Its called the Tuff Sucker (nice!). I know, it may not seem like much, but its a back saver! I used it this morning on our basement stairs and oh, what a huge difference. It worked well and so light weight! I usually lug the upright, Dirt Devil up each stair as I vacuum and at the same time trying to balance it while I clean. What a frustrating thing to do!

Also, it'll help when we have to vacuum out the cars! What we usually do is bring out the same Dirt Devil or dig out the our huge Wet/Dry vac out of the shed, bring out the extension cord, get the cord caught on the wheels as you go around the car and stretch real hard to get to that last corner before the extension cord unplugs. Well, we no longer will have to deal with that! We just have to connect a charged battery to the new Ryoni and off we go.

Yeah for small discoveries!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Has this ever happened to you?

I have a question for you! Do you ever get in a mood, where you just can't shake it? I don't mean a happy feeling either, since those are pretty nice and who would want to get rid of something like that! What I mean is a real rut, you just can't shake and nothing you seem to do can help?

What would you do if you were stuck in an emotional funk, and just couldn't get out of it? I don't want to depend on any medication fixers (well, at the moment) so any natural remedy's?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thankful Thursday

  1. Rekindling old friendships.
  2. The last few glorious days we've had in August.
  3. My dental clean bill of health. It wasn't always the case, but I took care of that over a year ago and its been smooth sailing since then (even at today's appointment)
  4. Spell Check. Oh, how I love thee!
  5. Having some alone time. I absolutely adore my family, but quite time with myself is also fabulous.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - I Tried

Well, I tried to post a youtube video of a classic Staples commercial today. I tried at lunch time and then I tried a few minutes ago, but I just couldn't figure out how to do it. I know, its probably easy, but I couldn't figure it out. Oh well.

So, let me tell you which one I wanted to post and why! I wanted to share the one-of-a-kind commercial that all the parents know about this time of year.....its the dad in the shopping cart in Staples with the "Best Time of the Year" Christmas song while he drags his kids along to do back to school shopping. Yup that one!

I wanted to post it since all over, kids are either back to school or getting the last of the supplies they need for their first day of school. Well if you want to check it out anyway, I've posted a link just in case you are too young to even know what I'm talking about or maybe you never saw it.

Zack starts school on Tuesday 9/2. I hope we are able to check in with him that night to see how his first day of 5th grade went, but we will have to wait and see.

Also, happy back to school to EVERYONE!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

43 Odd Things About Me

This started off as an email forward I received from a friend and I thought right away this would be an interesting post. So, I guess I'm going to turn it into a tag of sorts! Enjoy!

1. Do you like blue cheese? no
2. Have you ever smoked cigarettes? no (I'm not just saying that because my parents are reading this either)
3. Do you own a gun? no
4. What flavor Kool Aid was your favorite? grape
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? sometimes, it depends on what its about
6. What do you think of hot dogs? they are a quick meal, but not my favorite
7. Favorite Christmas movie? The Christmas Story
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Tea
9. Can you do push ups? yes
10. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? My engagement ring/wedding band
11. Favorite hobby? reading
12. Do you have A.D.D.? no
13. What's one trait you hate about yourself? I always have to be busy
14. Middle name? Nicole
15. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment? I'm a bachelorette tonight, its trash day tomorrow and my vanilla milk shake from McDonald's us yummy!
16. Name 3 drinks you regularly have. Hot tea, Iced Tea and water
17. so is there a number 1 person in life? yes
18. Current hate right now? no chocolate around
19. Favorite place to be? anywhere with Jeff
20. How did you bring in the new year? working
21. Where would you like to go? Ireland
22. Name three people who will complete this? anyone who comments are repeats the tag
23. Do you own slippers? yes
24. What shirt are you wearing? black polo (yes I had to look down and check first)
25. Do you like sleeping on satin? no, flannel or jersey knit
26 Can you whistle? no
27 . Would you be a pirate? Only if Captain Jack Sparrow was there
28 . What songs do you sing in the shower? what ever is in my head
29. Favorite girl's name? Abigail
30 . Favorite boy's name? Nicholas
31 . What's in your pocket right now? left over lunch money
32 . Last thing that made you laugh? co-worker
33 Best bed sheets as a child? i don't remember
34 . Worst injury you've ever had? back injury
35 . Do you love where you live? for now
36 . How many TVs do you have in your house? 4
37. Who is your loudest friend? they are all about the same
38. How many dogs do you have? none (sniff, sniff)
39. Does someone have a crush on you? nope
40. What is your favorite book(s)? its too hard to make a list
41. What is your favorite candy? milk chocolate
42 . Favorite Sports Team? Washington Redskins
43 . What song do you want played at your funeral? no music, just family & friends chatting about the good times

Monday, August 25, 2008

Websites are Everywhere

The other day, I was sitting in a restaurant and noticed they were advertising themselves with a website in there name. That got me thinking! Do you remember the days where there was no such thing as a website? Or they were only on certain products as the Internet started to become popular? Nowadays, they are everywhere!

Don't get me wrong, I like that information being so easy assessable and at our finger-tips. It was just while I was sitting there, I tried to remember back when there was no, or as part of their commercials to check out further information on the athletes. Its just astonishing where and whom has a website for you to check out along with what information IS out there.

Its just amazing to see such a simple tool being advertised everywhere. Just think, the younger generations will always know about websites and how they are listed on everything as part of the advertisement. Its just like how most of them don't know what a record is (is that a big CD?)!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

New Hell's Angel

My FIL bought a new Harley Sportster today. Its a 2004 with only 5,000 miles on it. He is so excited! He didn't want to get off the thing. The bike was delivered the our house this afternoon by the kid he bought it from. My FIL hasn't been on a bike in over 20 years. So, the first step was to test it around the block. He made it back in one piece and he was so happy that his body was shaking when he pulled back in the driveway.

Then he wanted to go a little further, so went around a few blocks. Then his comfort zone kept getting bigger and bigger, but he never left town. All of his old tricks and knowledge about motorcycles came flooding back as he kept riding. Each time he would ride, it would become more and more like second nature. He was so adorable on it!

He doesn't know if he can sleep tonight he told me. He wants to go outside and polish it all night. Oh, he's never going to have enough of it! I don't think we will be seeing much of him around the house until the cold months roll around. He's even talking about riding it to VT to see his brother. I don't know if he's ready for that yet, but at least his spirit is there!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Weekend Warrior

We did it. We survived! We put together our shed today, but not before Jeff changed his mind on what we were going to put on the ground to raise it up. We were planning on laying out brick slabs and make sure they were all level first. After starting to do that and realizing how much of a pain in the behind that was, Jeff decided to build a platform (pictured on the left). It went together so much quicker then the first idea and much stronger too. That was done last night.

Then this morning rolled around. We are prepped and ready to head out into the back yard to tackle our project. It was about 9:30am.

Our shed, all over the back yard
The first step was to lay out all the pieces (the shed came in 3 enormous boxes) and make sure we had everything. After going down the inventory list, we were ready to get started with just the two of us.
The first step was to assemble the floor. We laid out all 6 pieces and the instructions said that each piece just clicked after they are pushed together. Well, when you have one person who is stronger then the other, it really doesn't work too good. Jeff would push his side and I was being pushed backwards as I tried with everything I could by digging feet in the ground trying not to move. After several attempts, it just didn't work. So, Jeff called his brother John Jr and he was able to come over and assist.
Its staring to look like something!
It took even the two guys a little effort, but they got the floor together. Jeff's brother decided to stick around and help a little while longer. So, the 3 of us were working like a well oiled machine putting it all together. The sides were the next step that they went up pretty quickly.
Jeff & John Jr making a roof
After the sides was the roof. The roof was a little more complex, but went together in no time. In our shed, we even have a sky light (that's the white plastic above Jeff's head).

Look at all that room!
After the roof, it was time to put the doors on and then all the little finishing touches. There was these little plastic whole covers (134 to be exact) that had to go in all the wholes in the walls and doors (we assumed it gives the plastic room to expand in the heat). But after that task, it was all done. It felt great to have built something from scratch! We were done a little before 1pm. Not bad timing if I say so myself!

The final project! It looks like the picture too!
There wasn't any real fighting going on while putting it together. A swear hear and there, a smart remark, but noting to earth shattering. Everyone was warning us that we would kill each other while we were putting the shed together, but John Jr and I let Jeff take the rains of the project and it all worked out. Thanks again to John Jr for coming out to help! Now, we just have to fill it!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Wild Kingdom

The other evening, Jeff and I were enjoying some time on our swing. We were enjoying the unseasonably cool evening for August while we moved slowly, swinging away. We talked about many things, but was really enjoying ourselves.

The evening was growing darker, but still enough evening light where you can see across the yard, but it was getting a bit difficult as time passed. We had a little pause in our conversation and I heard this odd noise from behind the neighbors fence, where it forms the back corner of the yard. I look over my shoulder and see a dark cat like animal with white on its head trying to get under the privacy fence behind us. I look at Jeff and whisper, do you see that. He shook his head yes. It was indeed the local skunk trying to get in the yard, right behind us.

The skunk tried a few times, trying its hardest to get under the wood fence that is 5 feet behind us. Then it was silent. Jeff and I tried to locate it through the spaces in the fence but we couldn't so we continued to swing and chat.

All of a sudden, I happened to turn my head and look under our pine tree that is about 9 feet to the left of our swing and guess who was there. Yup, Mr Skunk. How the heck did he cross under another section of the fence in stealth like mode? We both froze, but the thing is, I started to giggle to myself (Why?, I have no idea). The skunk was just minding is business, doing what ever it does and it started to trot towards us.

I start giggling harder to myself, so much so I have to put my hand over my mouth so I didn't make any noise. I was shaking the whole swing I was laughing so hard! Jeff looks at me and whispers, if I get spread that's it! That doesn't help at all. So while we are having this silent conversation, Mr Skunk wonders BEHIND us. I can hear it in the mulch less then a foot behind us. I can't even look with the fear of busting out laughing (since I was laughing so hard to myself, with my hand over my mouth, I had tears streaming down my cheeks).

Jeff then whispers, I think he's walking under us. I take everything I have, rest my forehead on Jeff's shoulder and stop laughing. And, it indeed walked right under us, through Jeff's crossed legs and continued to go his way. He just walked along the fence line on the other side of the swing, then disappeared. Jeff then looks at me and asks, what was that (referring to my giggling)? I told him that I have no idea.

I finally told him, I must giggle when I'm nervous! Who knew! It was definitely the closest I've ever gotten to a skunk!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thankful Thursday

  1. Its pay day this week! I get paid every other week and its tough with bills adding up and just trying to have a little spending money left over.

  2. My backyard swing. Its our little oasis just to be able to get away, even if it is out back.

  3. My husband for starting to lay the slaps in the area where the shed will go this weekend. Its less heavy lifting that I have to do.

  4. Chap Stick. I don't know what I'd do without that little handy little thing in my purse.

  5. The calm before the storm at work. The Athletes will start to return this weekend and on Labor day, the rest of the students return in droves (the beauty of working at a college).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A New Meme

Chilly's World had a cool meme on her blog and I decided to "borrow" it, so enjoy!

Ten Things I Wish I Could Say to Ten Different People Right Now:
1. You left this world too soon and I want to say I love you one more time.
2. I want you to move to MA and I don't care if you would have done it if you were 15 years younger. I've been asking you to do it for the past 12 years and all of a sudden this is your new excuse. I don't know about you sometimes.
3. We are taking him back to MA to live with us. I don't care what you say or do.
4. Your mom is brain washing you and does not want the best for you. She is only looking out for herself and what she thinks is her best interest.
5. Thanks for listening, even though at times I may go on and on and on.
6. You have to trust me. You have to realize I'm only saying this because its true. She is never going to change.
7. I don't bring you to Broadway plays anymore because you fall asleep during them and its just not worth it.
8. I am so proud of you. You are my hero. I am happy I am able to see you everyday (unless its during crunch time when we are both busy).
9. I don't have a sister. I wish I could be close to you like a sister, but I don't want it to be forced.
10. Would you please take some time off from work so I could get some work done rather then hearing the same stories over and over again and have to pretend to be interested EVERY time.

Nine Things About Myself:
1. I don't like to read instruction manuals. I like to figure it out on my own and rely on the manual in the event I can't figure it out.
2. I like to solve problems, but one at a time. If too many are given to me at once, I freak out a little.
3. I'd rather talk to people by email and text, rather then on the phone.
4. I love to receive mail (email & snail-mail)
5. I like to cook, but I wish I had the time to cook better meals rather then instant ones.
6. I'm still a princess.
7. I love to travel.
8. I like the smell of a fine cigar.
9. I don't like beer.

Eight Ways To Win My Heart:
1. Notice what I've done (at work and at home) and just don't take me for granted.
2. Know what I want from Starbucks without me telling you.
3. Send me an email (not a forward).
4. Drive for me. Even if its around town.
5. Ask me my opinion and mean it. Don't just do it because you feel you have too.
6. Let me read my book, even for a few minutes.
7. Buy me a book (or books, which ever you would prefer).
8. Give me a random hug (the ones where I don't have to ask for one when I need one).

Seven Things That Cross My Mind a Lot:
1. Why is it so touch to clean up after themselves?
2. I can't wait for the weekend.
3. Grandpa thoughts (Is he ok? Whats he up too?, etc)
4. Blog topics
5. Zack thoughts
6. What's going on in my current book that I'm reading
7. Christmas (believe it or not, I think about what I'm going to buy for Christmas presents a lot).

Six Things I Do Before I Fall Asleep:
1. Make sure the lights are off in the house and the kitchen night light is on
2. Check things out online (since Jeff is usually still playing call of duty).
3. Turn the lights off in our room.
4. Watch a little tv so our minds can start to relax.
5. Make sure the alarm is set (for weekdays and sometimes over the weekend).
6. After watching TV, kiss my husband goodnight.

Five People Who Mean a Lot:
1. Mom
2. Dad
3. Jeff
4. Grandpa
5. Four way tie for Zack, Ally, her parents and my FIL.

Four Things You’re Wearing Right Now:
1. Jeans
2. Tee-shirt
3. Reading glasses
4. Adidas flip flops

Three Songs That You Listen to Often (Currently):
1. Linkin Park "Meteora" cd
2. Bon Jovi greatest hits cd
3. What ever is on the radio

Two Things You Want to Do Before You Die:
1. Own a house
2. Have my own family

One Confession:
1. I've known Jeff longer then Zack's mom and that gets under her skin. I love it!

Monday, August 18, 2008


OK, I'm not testing a microphone or anything, but testing will be done on me and Jeff. I had a doctor's appointment today regarding our pregnancy hardships that we have encountered this year. I just wanted to touch base with the doctor and chat about what's been going on.

He mentioned there really isn't too much that can be done until after 3 miscarriages occur, but he probably saw the look on my face and offered that we could start doing simple tests now to eliminate some causes. When he mentioned that I gamble with my next pregnancy (when ever that will be) and see if I miscarry again before any testing takes place, my heart just sank.

But, he ordered some blood tests for Jeff and I too see if our chromosomes are in check, to make sure some other things in my blood are not present causing me to miscarry and to see if I may have some sort of "wall" in my uterus that may prevent from pregnancy's to advancing. So, Jeff and I will take care of our blood tests this week and I have to schedule my ultrasound.

So, now I feel a little better now. There may be some answers or maybe nothing (I hope nothing so it just means mother nature was doing her job rather then my body rejecting the pregnancy's). I will keep everyone posted. I'm not sure when the results will be in. Jeff and I still have to wait a few months before we can start trying again too. But until then, wish us luck!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tax Free Weekend...Yeah!

This past weekend was MA's tax-free weekend. Usually us Bay-Staters pay 5% on purchases (on top of excise-tax, smokers pay a HUGE tax, all kinds of home related taxes and what ever else tax-achussetts government decides they want to tax). It may not add up to hundreds of dollars on saving for large items, but every dollar saved is a dollar in my pocket!

Our tax savings terms were for this year:

"The Act provides that the sales tax holiday will occur on August 16 and 17, 2008 and on those days, non-business sales at retail of single items of tangible personal property costing $2,500 or less are exempt from sales and use taxes, subject to certain exclusions. The following do not qualify for the sales tax holiday exemption and remain subject to tax: all motor vehicles, motorboats, meals, telecommunications services, gas, steam, electricity, tobacco products and any single item whose price is in excess of $2,500."

When we found out it was tax-free weekend, one thing popped in my mind.....a new shed! I've been scooping out shed's at the home depot since spring, but haven't really convinced myself on getting one, until now. We have one in our yard, but its getting really cramped with all kinds of yard tools, car parts/tools, bikes, and anything else that was stored in there that we cannot find.

What the shed looks like now
We bought one to assemble (next weekend) and its mostly out of heavy duty plastic with a metal frame. We also purchased some patio stone slabs to put underneath it so it has something other the the ground to rest on. The floor of the shed is tough plastic too. I'll share our purchasing and prep photos on my wordless Wednesday this week.

What the shed SHOULD look like next weekend
Then we decided to buy Zack his school supplies. He was with us for the weekend, so it was a great time for us to head to Staples and let him pick the stuff out instead of us guessing on what he would like.
Yeah, we had to convince him that he doesn't need 6 book socks (what ever happened to the old paper bag covers anyway) and 2 packs of 5 highlights (I let him get the fanciest out of the two) and that he doesn't need dozens of pens. Other then those little challenges, it was fun to see him pick out what he needs to store inside his desk. He's going to be one prepared 5th grader!

I {heart} staples!
After school shopping, there was one more big purchase pending and my mom & I decided to take care of it this afternoon (after Zack left). My cousin has a baby-shower coming up in a few weeks and it was good timing for the tax-free weekend so we could save some dough on shopping for her. We ended up purchasing a bundle of cute things off of her registry (I'll share a picture when its all put together).
I say the hardest things was to figure out what to buy for her. But we definitely hooked them up! We decided on a cloth hamper and its going to be filled with diapers, wipes, some of the crib sheets, swaddle blankets, books, Tigger bathrobe and booties and a bath toy.

Isn't this the cutest thing ever?
I don't know the exact amount we saved, but on the shed and stones alone we saved over $40. I say if we saved over $50, its a great deal! I can't wait until next year!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

First, let me start off saying how LONG this book was. Its very intimidating once you see it and even hold it because of the weight. I guess 562 pages would do that to a book!

But after getting past the novels size (and weight) it was a pretty decent book. The entire book has an easy, soft flow to it, even in the exciting parts. This is what made me hold and continue to read during the slow parts since the author has such a uniquely detailed and beautiful writing style.

With such detail, the words grab you and bring your imagination into Edgar's world. I could vividly see the house he grew up in, the barn he trained the dogs in, the area's he would play in and especially all his adventures with the dogs .

I don't want to give to much away from the book but in sorts its a story of a boy, Edgar, born mute (not deaf) who bonds with a special dog, Almondine, who is Edgar's friend and bodyguard. He helps his family breed Sawtelle Dogs in Wisconsin on their farm. It also describes the hardships the family has to struggle through before and after he was born and beyond.

After a family tragedy, Edgar tries to figure out what happened to his father. While Edgar is overcome by grief he continues to try and prove that his Uncle had a hand in the tragedy but fails. Edgar is forced to run away into the wilderness. While he is out there beyond the farm, he learns how to survive on his own and grows up in so many ways. He chooses to return to the farm to face his Uncle and longs to be with the Sawtelle dogs.

I would recommend this book if you have time set aside to invest in such a large book and if you like to read easy paced, detailed orientated novels.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Chocolate Milk Cows

I'm not sure if you all know this, but I can have a warped sense of humor (hard to believe, I know). Sometimes, it just happens and other times I can pick the situation.

When I was younger and riding in the car, I had time to sit in the back seat and have many thoughts running through my head. One of the vivid ones I can remember was the thought of cows producing chocolate milk. Why not since the produce plain milk?!?!

So, lets fast forward to a nice car ride, with Jeff driving, me in the front passenger seat and Zack nestled in the back seat about 5 or 6 years old. We were driving along a country road and cows were coming up in pastures ahead. I noticed they were the dark brown cows and my thoughts came rushing back and I blurted out to Zack, Hey those cows make chocolate milk! He looked out the window and in the most amazed voice, said really? I shock my head and said yup. And Jeff just looked at me with a little smirk on his face.

Now, about a year ago we were all in the car and Zack who was 9 years old at the time. We ended up going down the SAME country road and I hear from the back seat, hey those are the chocolate milk cows. I smirked and said yup!

I don't know if I have corrupted my step-son for life or he was just humoring me, but it was damn funny to hear it coming from the back seat several years later. He's never out right asked us if it was true or not, but we'll have to wait and see when we get THOSE therapy bills!

Happy TGIF!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thankful Thursday

I got this wonderful idea from a few fellow bloggers and I wanted to adopt (steel) the idea to show what exactly I am thankful for. I'm not sure if it will be weekly, but I will put my thankfulness out there when I can.
  1. My loving parents. Without them, I wouldn't have learned my lessons, have good values and eaten my supper until I found the surprise underneath (I'll explain someday). I felt on my first Thankful Thursday, I should thank them first for everything they do for me!

  2. Home. There really isn't anything like it no matter how much I enjoy traveling, it always good to know there is somewhere I can call home.

  3. My husband. Yeah, we have our differences, but I can't imagine life without him!

  4. Gas prices lowering. Phew!

  5. Pj's. I love my comfy clothes.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Back to Reality

Yesterday, I returned to work after a very wonderful vacation. I wasn't looking forward to walking through my office door, seeing my desk covered in paperwork, my desk arranged to other employee's liking (since they tend to sit at my desk when I'm not in) and being asked questions about things that took place while I was out and I have no idea what the heck they are talking about.

So, yesterday I walked through the door to my accumulated paperwork, yup things were moved around and yes I was asked questions that I had no immediate answer too since I was away. Its so predictable sometimes, its frightening.

The only different thing was, I was informed about 15 minutes into my day that there was a mandatory training that the entire department had to attend either today or Thursday on another campus for 10am for two hours. Lovely! I chose to go today, since my wonderful co-worker, Char will be on her vacation starting Thursday so that left today's training for the both of us. We left and had a wonderful drive to and from the other campus while our Office Manager covered the office.

Yeah, I was a little irritated that I had all this stuff on my desk that I had to get through, but the little break in my day was nice on my first day back. It helped the day go by fast.

I do still have a lot to sort through and figure out what happened when I was out, but all-in-all, it was nice to be back in a routine.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Last Weekend of Vacation

This past weekend was the end of our two week vacation (sniff, sniff). We will have little weekend get-aways here and there to go see Zack, or day trips, but it won't top having two straight weeks off from work. Oh, well....until next summer!

On Friday we had decided to hop in the car and take a drive to the original Yankee Candle. The store is only 45 minutes away and all three of us love to go, so it was a wonderful thing to do towards the end of our time off. Of course half the stuff Zack bought was for his mother, but whatever! We all still had a great time.

Friday night, we had plans to have my niece overnight since Zack really like the idea of her spending the night. He heard about her staying over a couple of weeks ago and wanted her to do it while he was there. So, after some arranging, it was done!

Zack & Ally
It was such a blast that night with both of them together in the house, laughing, giggling and having a great time together. Yeah at times it got load, but it was all in good fun! It was a time when the both of them could relax and spend some quality time together since they really don't get to see much of each other living 10 hours apart.

Zack and Ally feeding the animals
On Saturday, the rain seemed to be holding off, so we decided to go to a local petting zoo/ice cream shop (it was too early for ice cream, but if the kids weren't with us, I would have definitely snuck a scoop.....I had to be a grown-up though). It was so cute to watch Zack help Ally feed the animals, giving her courage to go up to them and watching their reactions towards the animals.

Zack & Jeff on the same team playing outside
After lunch, we went back to Ally's house to play outside. The boys played badminton (they were practicing for the Olympics, too bad it had already started for this years games) and the girls played in the yard.
Ally on her favorite bike
Then on Saturday evening, we played one last game of poker (with REAL poker chips this time). It ended up being a very long game. I kept trying to go all in with my chips, but I kept winning. Finally it was down to me and Zack. Zack was the dealer and he flopped the first 3 cards. I noticed I had 3 of a kind and I immediately said I was all in. After some thinking on Zacks part, he called and continued his dealer duties. Can you believe it? We had the same hand! We both won! So, we called it a tie and settled in for the night.
Zack was picked up yesterday morning around 8am. He was heading to Cape Cod for the week with his mother. We will get him next weekend (well, not even a full weekend, but whatever) and then that will be it until Thanksgiving. MAYBE we will have a quick weekend in October in Maryland to see Zack, but its all up to his mothers new work schedule, so we'll have to wait and see.
Its going to be a very long day at work today!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Playing for Pizza

This novel was not the ordinary John Grisham writings, but it was still an interesting read. It was an easy flowing, smooth flowing book reflecting the typical writing style of the author.

The book was about a third string American Quarterback who had blown a playoffs game while his team was in the lead. While he was in the process of losing, he obtained his third concussion which landed him in the hospital.

When he was lying in the hospital bed, in and out of his medicated sleepiness, his agent found an American Football league in Italy for him to play since none of the NFL teams were calling his agent for the next season since his current team obviously let him go after the horrific loss.

The novel walks us through the first awkward moments of his arrival in a new country, learning about his new team to accepting his new surrounding and moving on with his life without giving up his new friendships/team and commitments.

This is a light-hearted, quick read that I would recommend any football fan to pick up. It was definitely a page turner (even if I didn't have my airport challenge to help me along).

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Rain, Rain, Go Away! Please!?!?!

I like rain on most days. Its good on a lazy days when I want to curl up on the coach with a good book or watch movies. Or to help water the garden or grass. Or to cool things off on a hot and muggy day.

But, today I'd rather it not be raining for two reasons. The first reason is my camping gear can't dry off with it laying all over our backyard trying to dry from camping the other day. We've had consistent on and off again showers/storms for most of the day and I can't catch a break (we even had some hail during one of the storms). I laid the gear out this morning since the weather said we would get PM Thunderstorms. I thought the situation was perfect! I could lay everything out during the day and by early evening we would be all set.

So I laid everything out this morning in the bright sunshine. I went out to lunch with my FIL (Jeff and Zack were golfing) and when we came out of the restaurant, it was raining. Ugh! So, that was the beginning of my run outside after the rain, dump all the puddles off the gear then hear rain again tapping on our windows indicated that all of the gear was getting wet AGAIN!

The second reason is, it brought water into our basement again today. It happened about a month ago after a hard, fast rain and we couldn't figure out what had happened. Well today, I was bringing in some of our camping gear to lay out in the basement and noticed that we had puddles in our laundry area. I immediately summoned Jeff and my FIL to check out the issue. We ended up having up to 2 inches of water in some areas and it just go into everything. *Sigh* We figured out it came through our sink near our washer since the street was temporarily flooded from today's heavy rain.

My FIL jumped into action putting some sort of fitting that would allow only out-going water through the pipe. I hope it works and prevent flooding somewhere else in the house. Oh, I hope the rain will end soon! But, it doesn't look like there will be an end in the immediate future since its still raining out there now! *Sigh*

Camping With Zack

Lets start from the beginning, Monday morning. We still hadn't told Zack that we were going to go camping. We didn't know how he would react since a few months back we brought up the idea and he wasn't too thrilled about camping. We just didn't know how to pack the van and not let him know until the last possible moment so there was no negative feelings.

So, we came up with a plan. Monday morning, Jeff would bring Zack to get a fishing licence. We could tell him that much since he had to pick out a pole and he already likes to fish. No problem. Then while they were out, me and my FIL/Grandpy would pack the car.

Yup, we got the van packed with all of our supplies without Zack even knowing what was in store for him. As Jeff asked him to get in the car, Zack noticed all the stuff and he heard that we were staying over (since Grandpy said I will see you tomorrow when I come to visit). Zack asked, are we staying in a hotel? Jeff looked over at me and said, Sure! So, Zack hoped out and got a few things to take along since we weren't going to be back for a little while.

After we hit the road, there were a couple questions - where are we were heading? (since he wanted to know if he could take off his shoes in the car), when were we going to fish? But nothing about all the stuff in the car.

About an hour later, we pulled into the check-in area at Tolland State Forrest. Zack stayed in the van and when we returned I mentioned to Jeff to ask him if he has any idea what we are doing. Jeff asked and Zack said, we are fishing and camping. Bingo I said. And then the questions came pouring in from the back seat. Since he's never been camping, there was a lot to ask. They were the basic, but good ones to know-
Where are we going to sleep?
Are there any animals around?
Where do we put our stuff?
Where do we go to the bathroom?
What do we eat?

Zack and Jeff setting up camp
After answering and showing Zack what our plans were, it was time to set up camp. Jeff immediately involved Zack in the set up process. He let him pick where we would put the tent, let him help pound the steaks in, carry the stuff out of the van (while I was getting things out of the van for the eating area) and load things into the tent.

Our camping area (the green tent covered the picnic table area)
After we were settled in and the van uploaded, Zack wanted to know what we would do? We said relax and spend time with each other in the great outdoors. You could tell he was a little nervous since he didn't know what to expect, but as time went by, he warmed up to the idea.

Our fire keeper
Zack helped run the camp. He kept an eye on the fire and made sure there was plenty of wood in it to keep it high. He also helped make the marshmallow sticks with his new camping knife (hey, we though he was old enough to have his own under our supervision since his mother still treats him like an infant which is obviously not the case).

After the evening wore on, he was able to see first hand how we eat our meals while camping and keep ourselves entertained by playing many games (yatzee, uno, scrabble & poker) . Then we made s'mores and sat around the camp fire. Yeah, he had his PSP, but he barely picked it up (score for us for keeping him away from it). Then it was time to sleep for the first time in a tent outside. I think it went well since we were all in the same tent and just kept telling him there are no bears (well, at least we hoped so).

Our little fisher man and Jeff in the back of the canoe
On Tuesday, it was time to go fishing. Jeff's co-worker has a camp sight there too and he said we could use his canoe to go out and fish. So, we all hoped in the canoe (I believe it was my first time and I know it was Zacks, and we all did alright) and headed to a quite area on the lake. Unfortunately, we didn't catch any fish, but we had fun trying to paddle and stay straight on the water. Yup, we did a few 360's but it was all in good fun.

Zack and Grandpy before fishing
About lunch time, Grandpy came to visit. He brought lots of goodies, including live bait to fish with (we used a lure earlier). After we ate and showed Grandpy around our camping area an a little beyond (you know the important areas like the restroom facilities) it was time to head back to the water and see if we could catch anything this time! The four of use couldn't fit in the canoe, so we fished off the co-workers docked boat (yeah, that was my idea) since he wasn't around to bring us out on the water.

Zacks first fish of the weekend
It took no time before the fish started to bite. Why didn't we think of this area first? But then we wouldn't have had the fun on the canoe! Zack caught 5 fish (we caught and released since its a lake rule). We think the first two were the same, but hey, it was still fun. He was such a big kid since after he caught them, he put the gloves on to hold the fish to help remove them from the hook. He even tried to use the pliers to remove the hook (but daddy and grandpy actually did it while I took pictures) but it didn't work out to good for him.

Me and my first fish I caught since I was 12 years old
After Zack caught his 5 fish, he was all set fishing. But our philosophy was after spending $30 on a licence and grandpy spending $20 on bait, we weren't done yet. So, we all took a crack at it. I caught 2 fish (under the agreement that I didn't have to take them off the hook, why should I since there were 3 guys who had done it 5 times before I picked up the pole....Zack needed the practice anyway, right?).

Jeff and his prize fish
Then Jeff tried a few times and caught one fish. He was trying out in a different area then us to see if the fish would bite there, but no luck. So, he was happy to catch the one fish in the same area as us. Grandy tried, but he had more fun tormenting the fish rather then catching them. He would hold the bait over the boat and move it out of the area before he would actually catch the fish. Oh, well what ever floats his boat (no pun intended).

After fishing again, it was time to eat supper. After we all ate we walked grandpy around the entire state forest camping area for a nice evening walk. Then he hit the road to head home. That evening we were invited back to the co-workers camp for some fire works and a big campfire. It was a wonderful end to a great couple of days.

Yesterday morning, was a little different. We woke up to the sound of rain on our tent. So, we packed up everything in our tent even before checking out the rest of camp. We got outside and realized it wasn't raining hard at the moment, but everything in our picnic area was soaked (the rain must have blown in sideways). So, we decided to skip making breakfast, pack everything up and take care of everything after we got home. Oh well!

Even thought it rained on our last day and cut our camping adventure short, it was still a wonderful first couple of days that we all really enjoyed! Jeff and I will camp one last time before the cold weather comes in the fall and we will definitely do it again next summer with Zack.