Wednesday, December 29, 2010

3 down - 50 to go and misadventure #1

My cooking adventures continue....

Boy-o came home from work (he has a part-time job during the school year at a local library - what a cool job!) famished and dove into the from scratch Red Beans and Rice. He gave it a 4 1/2 out of 5 once he added lots of hot sauce. Strangely enough, the large onion, 6 cloves of garlic, 3 tablespoons of chili powder and 1 tablespoon of cumin weren't enough. I tasted it and had to agree. It was a little bland. Once he spiced it to his satisfaction, he enjoyed it and said it was a "make again" recipe. Yeah. He said the TVP was pretty neutral. It didn't add anything to the taste but didn't ruin it either. Since it is high in protein (important for vegetarians), I think it is a "keeper" as well.

Inspired by my successes on Monday, I decided to try another new recipe. Boy-o has suddenly decided that he wants a hot breakfast every morning before school. He loves oatmeal (yucky in my opinion) so I decided to try a breakfast oatmeal recipe in the crockp pot. I tried one before Christmas and the results were only OK. The oatmeal was a very strange consistency. It was slimy. I checked with my sister and she suggested a new type of oatmeal (steel cut oats) and assured me that it would be better. I also picked out a new recipe with more spice. I assembled the ingredients and decided to try out a new gadget that I had received in my stocking from Santa. I had read in a cookbook that you can put your crock pot on a timer delay to have it start later. The whole food safety thing was a concern but when I looked at the ingredients (oatmeal, water, spice, nuts, dried fruit), I decided to give it a try. I read the instructions (in about size 2 font) and figured out how to make it work. I programed it to turn on and happily went to bed. I woke up a few times during the night and enjoyed the smell of spice. I got up the next morning and ran down the stairs to check on my masterpiece. As I approached the crock pot, I noticed that it still looked the same as it had the night before. I touched the side and it was stone cold. I grabbed the timer gadget and looked it over. It looked like it should be working. Hmmmm. After some muttering to myself about unreliable equipment, I happened to look down at the crock pot to notice the on and off button still firmly in the off position. Ahh. Not equipment error - operator error and misadventure #1. I ended up putting the crock pot into the frig and whipping up scrambled eggs for Boy-o. Last night, I reprogrammed the timer gadget, checked, double-checked and triple-checked, the on and off button and woke up this morning to cooking oatmeal. Boy-o said it was good and gave it a 4 out of 5. He did say that the consistency was improved over my first attempt with another recipe. A little work the evening before will result in an easier morning for me.

The first 3 new recipes have all been for the benefit of my son. Last night, I did use an existing recipe and roasted my hubby and I a chicken in the crock pot. The leftover chicken will go into a chicken noodle soup for tomorrow night. I love the two for one meals!

Monday, December 27, 2010

I am still alive and 2 down, 51 to go!

Why, hello there! Yes, I am still alive. I have been suffering from bloggers' block. I thought about blogging, occasionally started to log in but couldn't think of a darn thing to say. Nada inspiration. Zilch. Zero.

However, with the new year just around the corner, I have decided to make a renewed commitment to blogging and.... drum roll please.... I have come up with a new idea. Yessir, the bloggers' block is in remission.

I mentioned that last year my New Year's resolutions was to use my crock pot at least once a week. It was a very successful resolution. Not only did I use it almost every week, on many weeks I used a crock pot (slow cooker), two or three times a week. Confession time. I have never been much of a cook. Don't get me wrong, I have never given anyone food poisoning but we tend to eat easy to prepare meals. Even planning ahead to use my crock pot on a regular basis was something that just didn't happen. My son's favorite food as a young child was chicken nuggets and that was just fine with me. I know, I know, that was why I never got the Mother of the Year Award. Anyway, my commitment to the slow cooker resulted in a new interest in cooking because I started planning my meals for the week. It also helped to know that Friday night was a guaranteed no cooking night! We started going to the local farmers market and buying fresh vegetables. I also discovered tempeh as a meat substitute for Boy-o. That was a big turning point as I started making him "from scratch" meals. Not only did he not complain, he thanked me on a regular basis! In October, one of my facebook friends mentioned her new Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer and what fun she was having with it. With my newfound confidence, I decided that a buttercup yellow stand mixer would be a great addition to my kitchen. I started using that every week to whip up pizza dough, dip for holiday gatherings, meatloaf and cookies. On Thanksgiving, I tried many new recipes and the vast majority were resounding successes. I can't say I am a great cook but my cooking abilities are much more developed than they were in 2009.

Inspired by my recent cooking success and by a newspaper article about trying new recipes (written by one of my oh-so-talented cousins), I have decided that I am going to commit to trying 53 new recipes between now and 2012. I will blog about my adventures - and misadventures - in the kitchen on a regular basis. I will also blog about my adventures - and misadventures - in life. I hope you will come along for the ride.

Since today was a "snow day" for me due to the bad traveling conditions, I was able to try two new recipes today.

The first recipe was for Boy-o. It was ravioli stuffed with fake pepperoni and fake cheese. I searched online for a ravioli recipe and found one that sounded interesting on My husband/sous chef and I combined all of the ingredients in the trust stand mixer and plopped the dough onto my new silicon mat. Hmmm. Question. It says to add more water if too dry and add more flour if too wet but it doesn't say what the dough is supposed to look like. I grabbed a handful of dough and squished it together. It looked just like the dough Bobby Flay used in the last "Throwdown" I watched. Never mind that he was making a Mexican dish and this was an Italian dish, if it is good enough for Bobby, it is good enough for me! After waiting 20 minutes for the dough to rest (why is it tired when I did all of the work?), we attempted to roll it out using a brand spanking new pasta roller. Hmmmm. Perhaps buying the cheap $20 model really wasn't that great of an idea. Oh no, the directions for the pasta make say no salt and my recipe had salt in it. Many false starts and a pause to watch a couple of Youtube videos on how it is done (they make it look very easy. I am considering a complaint to the FCC for false adverising - just sayin'), we finally got our first sheet rolled out. Out came the brand spanking new ravioli press (where did those darn directions end up?) and voila, we had raviolis! These steps were repeated until all of the ravioli stuffing mix was gone. We made the remaining dough into angel hair pasta. For lunch, Boy-o tried the ravioli (served with homemade sauce made in my crockpot earlier this weekend and homemade grilled french bread). He gave the pasta a 4 1/2 out of 5 stars. Not bad. The extra raviolis were frozen flat on a cookie sheet and are now stored in a ziploc bag for future meals. The angel hair pasta is in the frig for hubby and me to try. One down, 52 recipes to go.

Before I started the pasta dough this snowy morn, I started 2 cups of red kidney beans soaking to make one of Boy-o's favorite dishes, red beans and rice. We have always used a mix to make it but I decided to try to make it from scratch. When buying a special pasta flour someone recommended, I noticed a bag of TVP and picked that up. What is TVP you ask? It is a textured vegetable protein that one of my facebook friends recommended. On the back of this package, there was a recipe for red beans and rice and I decided to give it a whirl. After soaking the beans all day, I went to the next step. Hmmmm. What is it with recipes today? Another somewhat confusing direction. It said to cook the beans with a large onion, 6 cloves of garlic and 2 quarts of boiling water. I decided to boil the water in the pan and then add the other ingredients. Oh no. I just realized that after we remodeled our kitchen a few years ago and put in the smooth top stove, we never replaced our dutch oven pan. I use the largest pan we have in the cupboard and add in all of the ingredients. It is full to the brim. It says to cook for 45 minutes (boil? simmer?). It also says later in the directions that the beans and TVP (which is added later) will soak up most of the liquid. I have my fingers crossed as my pan wouldn't take one more item. I let it cook for 20 minutes and decide that it simply isn't going to soak up enough water to add the remaining ingredients. Time for plan B. We don't have a dutch oven but we do have a lobster pot*. I transfer the contents into that. A few spills but all in all, a successful transfer. After the 45 minutes, I add 2 cups of the dried TVP, 3 tablespoons of chili powder and 1 tablespoon of cumin. I cooked it for another 40 minutes and - lo and behold - most of the liquid really is gone! In the meantime, I started rice in Boy-o's new rice cooker. Everything will be ready for him when he gets home from work.I have my fingers crossed that he will like this one too.

So that is it for today. I am off to read a cookbook or two to pick out some new recipes. I also welcome your favorite recipes. Check back in and I will let you know how many stars the red beans and rice got! Happy New Year!

*Even though we are both Maine natives, my husband and I do not like lobster. Our lobster pot has actually never been used for lobster but that was the name on it when we bought it. We use it for chili and for hot chocolate for parties, etc.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Twofer Tuesday

Twofer Tuesday is where I do a quick post on two different subjects.

Since I am into numbers this Tuesday, let me just say "Four more days!". (insert happy dance here). Four more days until my evil co-worker is gone, gone, gone! Can you tell that I am happy?!?!? Beyond happy is more like it! Truth be told, most of the office is looking forward to it. Evil co-worker is a very negative person who complains all of the time. We are all thrilled that we don't have to face another holiday season filled with sighs, complaints about the music and overall negativity. Yeah. They are reorganizing my department and I will now have an assistant all-to-myself!! My assistant is the current receptionist and someone who is not negative and someone who is excited to be there. The big difference between the two women is attitude. One has an attitude of "woe is me" and "I have such bad luck" whereas the other one is full of positive energy. Ironically enough, if you compared "luck" side by side, the one with the positive attitude has faced a lot more adversity (cancer, the death of two children, a failed business) but she faces each day with a smile on her face. Definitely an inspiration to be around.

I have turned into a cooking fool lately. This weekend, I took a chicken enchilada recipe and modified it to meet my son's dietary wishes. Out went the cheese and in came soy cheese because of his dairy allergy. Out went the chicken and in came the black beans and corn because of his vegetarian lifestyle. I tried a small portion of it and it was yummy. Last weekend, I made his a huge batch of faux chicken noodle soup. He loved it. The vegan corn chowder, one the other hand, was not a huge hit. My husband and I made Shrimp Po'Boys for supper last night with a food network recipe. Definitely on my "make again" list. We watched "The Next Food Network Star" this summer and this was one of the winner's creation. This is the second recipe from Aarti that we have tried. My resolution to use my crockpot at least once per week has changed me in many many ways!

Here's to Tuesdays! What's on your mind today?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Where have I been.....

I can't believe that it has been 1 1/2 months since my last post! I wish I could say that I have been off on a grand adventure but, alas, that would be a big fat lie. What I have been doing, however, is living life. In the past six weeks:

1)I have gone away for a Girl's Weekend with Mary Ellen and Judy. Judy has a wonderful lake house and she graciously invited Mary Ellen and me to visit. We talked, we laughed, we relaxed and we enjoyed each other's company. I am so lucky to have them as part of my life. I have also enjoyed a dinner out with them.

2) I have found a new doctor and started to feel a little better. I still have hip pain but between the new doctor and the new physical therapist, it seems to be going away.

3) I have started a Zumba class.

4) I have been a vocal advocate for our local high school. A few (very few) loud individuals want to close our high school and send them to the next town over. The majority of the residents don't support this idea but it just won't go away. I have been organizing people, ordering t-shirts and speaking at town meetings.

5) I got a wonderful birthday present when my evil co-worker gave her notice. Yup, right on my birthday! I literally danced out of the president's office when he told me. He was quite relieved by the resignation as well. The resignation was yesterday. I am wondering if she is going to even show up today.

6) I was sad - but also somewhat relieved - when the other high maintenance co-worker was let go a couple of weeks ago. Now, both Negative Nellies are gone (or will be gone shortly). The office morale is going to skyrocket now that we don't have to hear complaints from morning until night.

7) I have turned into a cooking fool. I have been going to a farmer's market on Saturday morning and buying fresh veggies. On Sunday morning, I have been getting up and cooking up a storm. Right now, I am on a corn chowder kick. Yummy!

8) I have been letting go a little bit and giving Boy-o a bit more freedom to go here and there. Him having a driver's license has been a bittersweet experience for me. On one hand, it is great that he can now get himself to his new library job or to the school for a meeting but on the other hand, I miss the time in the car.

That is what my past six weeks has been. What have YOU been up to?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Twofer Tuesday

Twofer Tuesday is a quick post where I focus on two subjects.

Usually by this point in the summer, I am ready for it all to be over and for fall. This year, however, the weather here in Maine has been so glorious all summer that I want it to go on and on and on and on. I can't believe that in a few short weeks, school starts and we will be back in the thick of meetings, concerts, conferences, open houses, etc. Maybe the fact that Boy-o will be a junior this year is part of my hesitation for the school year. If we delay junior year, that means that senior year and graduation are delayed as well. Yup, if truth be told, that might be why I am feeling this way. Where has the time gone?

I have been playing Family Feud on facebook. It is very similar to the television show except you play as a team of one except for the bonus round. Because of typographical errors and regional differences in language, they have a program set up to recognize answers that might not match exactly. For example, in this part of the country, we call carbonated beverages "soda" whereas in other parts of the country it is called "pop" or something else. If I answer soda, it recognizes that my answer is correct and gives me credit for it. Sometimes, however, the computer "recognizes" answers that do not make sense. For example, last night I typed in "machine operator". It matched me to "surgeon". One time I put in "wool pants" and it matched me to "sweater" and another time I put in "family" and it matched me to "love life" but then told me I had already used the answer when I typed "health". On the other hand, I didn't get a match when I put "Fourth of July" and the answer was "Independence Day" and I didn't get a match when I put "No One Laughs" and the answer was "No Laughter". I haven't decided if I think that the answer choices are done by someone in another country who doesn't know our language, etc. or if it is a bunch of computer geeks entertaining themselves by knowing that they are driving people crazy!

That's all that I have for this warm Tuesday. I hope things are great in your part of the world.

Here's to short posts!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What are YOU thankful for today?

Thankful Thursday is where I ask everyone to stop and think about the good things that are happening. Even during those weeks that stretch out more than the truth in a political campaign, there are always things that we can appreciate. This week, I am thankful for (in no particular order):

1) I am thankful for Tempeh. This soy bean creation is turning out to be a great meat substitute for Boy-o. I discovered it on Saturday at a farmer's market and have used it in an omelet, lasagna and sloppy joes.

2) I am thankful for the beautiful weather in Maine. After our summer of rain last year, I am really enjoying the sunny weather.

3) I am thankful that my husband and I have a loving and stable relationship. Watching the drama with some of the people at work is unbelieveable.

4) I am thankful for fellow employees who were happy that I decided to stay in my current job. I am also thankful for a boss who was even happier!

5) I am thankful for good friends and girls' night outs. I have had two of those in the past two weeks! (For those of you wondering, yes, I saw the one, the only, the incredible Mary Ellen. She is doing well. )

6) I am thankful for a son who asked to go get a haircut and who can drive himself there!

7) I am thankful for the pulled pork that is cooking in my crockpot right now. My husband and I will have an easy but yummy supper after karate tonight.

8) I am thankful for farmers' markets.

9) I am thankful that it is Thursday and this long long week is drawing to an end. As a bonus, my boss is out today and all next week!

10)I am thankful for the bloggers who read my blog and take the time to comment.

Here's to appreciation!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Katy, the wonder dog

Like most dogs, Katy makes it pretty clear what she wants. She has can let me know if she is hungry, if she needs to go out or if she thinks it is time to go to bed. Last night, however, she was very out of sorts after we went to bed and we couldn’t figure out what was wrong. She was pacing and the clickety click of her nails on the laminate floor was quite loud. All I could hear was click, click, whine, whine. There was no “I need to go outside” bark. We were mystified. Every so often, either my husband or I would tell her to settle down and she would relax for a few minutes. However, she would quickly jump up and start clicking and whining and whining and clicking. There wasn’t a lot of sleeping going on. At about 2:45 am, I decided to see if she wanted to go outside. I didn’t think that she did but I figured if she went out, it might settle her down. I opened the bedroom door and she streaked down the hallway towards Boy-o’s room. His door was partially closed and before I could even take a step she picked up her paw and whapped it against the door to open it all the way. She started racing back and forth in his room. Since Boy-o was still asleep, I turned on the hall light to peer in. I quickly realized that Katy was chasing a bat. Since I hate, hate, hate bats, I did the only thing I could think of. I ran back down the hallway and called for my husband to come. He told me to stay in our bedroom with the door closed and he and Katy rounded up two bats and got them outside. Apparently, Katy has a herding instinct because she rounded up one bat and chased it out of Evan’s bedroom and into the hallway where my husband was able to capture it. Boy-o finally woke up when all 85 pounds of canine landed on top of him when Katy was attempting to catch one of the bats. After my husband and Katy successfully removed both bats from the house, my husband returned to bed. Katy wandered the house for a few moments checking to make sure that her job was done. She collapsed at the top of the stairs in the hallway so she could make sure that no one else tried to invade HER house and promptly fell asleep. Being a wonder dog is hard work, you know.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday Fragments

Mommy's Idea

TGIFF! Thank Goodness It's Friday Fragments! Today is the day where we take all of the bits and pieces of randomness and mash them up, mix them up and throw in a few spices and create one clutter-clearing post. Think of it a mental hash! Please join me in thanking Mrs. 4444 for being the head chef of this randomness.

Lots of stuff going on in our small part of Maine lately. First of all, the big news! Boy-o is now a licensed driver! Yup. He passed his test the first try. You would be proud of me. He drove me from the testing site to our local hospital and dropped me off. No, contrary to what people might think, I wasn't having a heart attack at the thought of a teen age driver. I simply needed to have some x-rays. I sent him on an errand so he dropped me off and drove off ALL-BY-HIMSELF. I cheerfully waved and didn't even hesitate or shed a tear. I can hardly believe it myself.

I came closer to shedding a tear when I got the quote for the car insurance, however. The good news is that his kind grandparents gave him a car. The bad news is that his grandparents gave him a car and gave us a big insurance bill. Oy. Someone (cough, cough) told her son years ago that if he "was on the honor roll, I would pay for his insurance". Boy-o is on the honor roll AND apparently has a very good memory for some things. Luckily, I work in an insurance agency and got my agent to quote a different company and we got the premium down by several hundred dollars. Still costs a small fortune, however.

Things have been going better at work lately. I asked to be moved away from my co-worker who complains all the time and I have never ever been so caught up. It is a great feeling! Of course, with things going better, what should happen but a new job opportunity. I did interview for a new position and entertained an offer. When it came down to it, however, there just wasn't enough of a reason to make a change. Sometimes the grass isn't greener on the other side of the fence. It is nice to be wanted, however. I did discuss the offer with my current boss and it is nice to know that he was thrilled when I told him that I had decided to stay.

I have five weeks vacation at my job now and I have been taking a few random days off since my husband only gets 2 weeks. Today was one of those days. I came up with the brilliant idea of taking my son to get his photo taken for his permanent license. What should happen but we get into a car accident. Yup. He has had his license for 9 days and now has an accident under his belt! For a bad thing, however, it really couldn't have been much better. No one was hurt, it wasn't his fault, the man who hit us was an off duty police officer and couldn't have been nicer and I had a call from his insurance company on my answering machine by the time I got home. My son's car is a 2006 and was in perfect shape EXCEPT for a small scratch on the rear bumper. Since we were rearended, he is going to get a new rear bumper and the scratch will be gone! Can you tell I try to look at things on the positive side?

Last night, I had a Girls' Night Out with a friend. We have season tickets for our local repertory theater. We usually go to the same restaurant before the show to catch up. Last night, we decided to try a new place. Oh my. What a wonderful place! Great atomosphere and amazing food. Sorry old restaurant. You have been replaced in our affections for the new place in town. We have been going to shows on and off for 16 years. The production we saw last night of "All Shook Up" was definitely one of the top two shows we have ever seen. It was such a wonderful evening.

I have been reading up a storm lately. I am facebook friends with my high school English teacher and read a book she recommended "Sarah's Key". It is about France's round-up of Jews during World War II. Very enjoyable book. I am currently reading "Eat, Pray, Love" because of a friend's recommendation. I am thru the first part of her journey and am enjoying that book as well.

That is all I have for today. Have a great weekend and don't forget to check out everyone else who is participating in Friday Fragments!

Here's to summer!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Lunchtime stroll

Whenever possible, I like to walk during my lunch break at work. I find it helps clear my mind and it gets me away from my sometimes crazy workplace. The office is located in the center of a relatively small village and in the summertime the traffic zooms by. My walking place of choice is the cemetery that is located a few feet away. Let me be clear. I am very respectful while I am walking. If I see a service in progress, I stay far away and I also detour when I see someone visiting a grave site. If I play music or an audible book, I only do it with earphones on. Sometimes I walk with purpose and sometimes I wander and look at the various grave markers.

The first thing you notice this time of the year when you enter the cemetery is all of the flags. A local organization puts out flags on graves of the veterans. In addition, the fire department puts out their flags on their fallen comrades. It is wonderful to look around and see how many flags there are gently flapping in the breeze. A sense of peacefulness envelopes me in just a few steps.

On Friday, I took a stroll around the cemetery and stopped and looked at many graves. The cemetery has grave sites that are new and grave sites that are from the 1800s. Sometimes, I know the story of a particular person and sometimes I don't. Sometimes, I can only wonder and sometimes, I use my imagination.

One grave marker is very heart wrenching is the one that marks the grave of 6 children who were killed in a house fire in the 1940s. The family also lost a daughter a few years before that. However, I also see some positives reflected at that grave. The marker was donated to the parents by workers in our local navy yard. I imagine that the community rallied around these parents and gave them financial and (hopefully) emotional support. It also makes me happy to see that both parents are buried there. They both lived long lives and it appears that this immense tragedy did not break them up. This grave shows both sadness and strength to me.

Another marker that makes me grin when I walk by is from the 1800s. It lists a man, his first wife, Jane and his second wife, Jane. I also pause when I pass the marker for the man who was named after the Vice President from Maine, Hannibal Hamlin (insert last name here). Somehow, I don't think many babies are being named Joseph Biden (insert last name here). These two graves show how times have changed.

I stopped by and visited the grave site of a distant cousin of my husband's. I knew the parents but never knew their son who was killed in Vietnam. I get a sense that the parents and the son have been reunited.

Some grave markers make me shake my head in sadness as I go by because I do know stories behind them. I see the marker for the 16 year old who snuck out one winter evening to go to a party and never made it home. Her mother was sick in bed and didn't know her daughter had left until the police showed up on her doorstep. I see markers for people who lost the battle to drug addiction and wonder (as their parents must) what if.

I walk by the marker for a young girl who fought - but lost - a valiant battle against cancer. There were many fund raisers for her and her parents were dedicated to her and to the fight against cancer. This story has some happiness in it too. Shortly after her death, her mother discovered that she was pregnant. It wasn't a planned pregnancy but the new baby was born on the first anniversary of the older one's death. It makes you wonder if a higher power was involved in that one!

There is one marker that makes me wonder. It is a relatively new one and it lists the woman's name and "beloved daughter, wife and mother". I probably wouldn't even think twice about that except that I know that she was killed in a car accident when she was with her boyfriend who was drunk. I always wonder what her husband thinks when he sees the wife part on the marker. They had young children and I imagine he brings them to visit.

There are two large markers that don't have names on them. One says "Mom" and one says "Dad". The mother is deceased and she does have an individual flat marker with her name on it. In between these two marker is the market for a young sailor. This grave is several years old but is always well tended. It also has a plastic boat in front of it. The man who oversees the cemetery says that the boat has been there for years. It is against the cemetery rules but he looks in the other direction in many cases. He said it amazes him that the boat never gets blown away or taken by someone.

Of course, the children's markers are all very sad. Once gravestone has the picture of a young boy in a Little League uniform etched on it. The flat marker is white marble shaped like home plate and there are usually baseballs scattered around the big marker. There is also a plaque outlining his accomplishments in Little League. He was quite the player. I don't know what happen to him as he passed away just a few short months after a very successful baseball season.

As I walk, I also think about my parents. I live quite a few miles away from where they are buried and I rarely get to visit their gravesite.

I return to the office a little subdued but with a sense of peace and a sense of what is really important in life. Many markers say "Beloved Wife and Mother" but none say "Beloved Insurance Agent".

Here's to lunchtime strolls.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Feelin' Better Friday Fragments

Mommy's Idea

I woke up this morning with a headache and stuffed up sinuses. I immediately realized what the problem was. I haven't participated in Friday Fragments in a while. All of the random thoughts must be backed up in my brain. No wonder I am not feeling 100% today! Please join me in thanking Mrs. 4444 for encouraging us to take all of those little bits and pieces of thoughts and assembling them into one post. Join in the fun and you will feel better too!

This has been an eventful week in our household. On Tuesday, my boy-o returned home from a trip to Germany, Switzerland and Austria. He and ten other classmates and five brave adults were gone for 8 days. He had a great time. We got a few facebook messages from him while he was gone which was a nice surprise.

On Thursday, boy-o celebrated his sixteenth birthday. Where has the time gone? Birthdays are not nearly as much fun as they used to be, however. I loved the days of birthday parties and the gifts that made him so excited (Red Sox tickets or a Gameboy). All he wanted was money this year and the birthday party went by the wayside a couple of years ago. Part of me would love to go back to the when he was younger. However, my cousin summed it up when she said that she misses her kids when they were younger but she wouldn't go back because there were some young adults that she would miss way too much. I feel the same way.

As of 4:30 pm, I am officially on vacation for a week. For the first time in several years, we are doing a staycation. We already had a nice cruise vacation so this time we are staying close by and doing some day trips. Even though we lived in Maine (AKA Vacationland), most of our day trips are planned for out of state. How ironic is that? Revised - my boss just told us that we are closing early today. The vacation begins at 3:00 pm!

My son got a package in the mail yesterday from a friend of his. They had a disagreement a short while ago and she wanted to apologize. She went out and bought a children's book called "Do you want to be my friend?" and made a few minor modifications. For example, she amended the back of the book where it said from ages 3 to 6 so it read from 3 to 16 and she circled the name of another book by the same author called "The Secret Birthday Message". Finally, she wrote a message on a blank page to ask forgiveness. She got his mailing address somehow and make sure that it would arrive on his birhtday. What a classy young lady and what a cool way to apologize.

That is is for today, folks. Happy Independence Day to my American readers! May sure you go check out Mrs. 4444 and the rest of the folks clearing out brain clutter today.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Life is good....

I got to see Mary Ellen last night at a Girls' Night Out along with her college roommate Judy. They roomed together for 4 years at college. I feel so fortunate that they allow me to tag along! Seriously, I treasure both of them. They are wise, accomplished and loving women who enrich my life.

My son comes home from his trip today. I can't wait to see him! From the few messages I got while he was gone, it looks like he had a fantastic time. We paid for the trip and he provided the spending money. He took a travel visa card - and apparently didn't spend any money beyond the cash he had in his pocket. The chaperones had talked to the parents at a meeting about sitting down with the students and discussing spending. They were concerned about the students spending too much money! I guess I should have had the conversation with boy-o that spending money was OK. I imagine he came home with more money than everyone else. Perhaps as much money as the rest of the students combined! Yes, cheap describes my son pretty well.

I got my t-shirt yesterday from Heather. I can't wait for casual Friday to wear it to work. She makes it so easy to order and it came lickety split. I will wear it and think of her and her battle.

We have been working on opening the swimming pool because it has been very warm in Maine this year. Last summer, it rained all summer long and we never bothered to open the pool. It looks so inviting! I can't wait to get in it tonight!

I have next week off. We don't have any real plans beyond enjoying the great State of Maine. Normally we try to go away for vacation but we need to stay close for to get boy-o to work. We are planning a day trip to Boston, a day cruise out of Portsmouth (NH) Harbor and maybe, just maybe, I will get my upstairs bathroom painted.

My boss is buying us lunch today. Once a month, he treats the staff to sandwiches from a local restaurant. Yummy!

I am off to work to finish things up so I can take next week off. Here is to enjoying life!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I am back....

Wow! The end of school madness did me in this year... and boy-o is (was?) only a sophomore! I can't even think what it will be like in two years when he is graduating. Note to all. You might want to consider buying stock in Kleenex. I anticipate a big bump in sales in about two years. Just sayin'.

The social studies department at my son's high school does an event called the "History Extravaganza" instead of having a final. The students write a paper and then do a tri-fold and presentation one evening. All social studies students in the school participate. I skipped karate one night to go see my son. I walked into the gym to where my son's class had their posters set up. He came over and told me that he hadn't presented yet and he would prefer that I not be there. I ended up going out into the main lobby and giving directions to other parents. I did manage to sneak back into the gym a few times to look around and see what his classmates were doing. Apparently after I spoke to one classmate, he went over to see what I talked to her about. He was concerned that I might have said something embarrassing. Who? Me? Can you imagine?

Last week, I received my green belt in karate. I had to write a paper on the history of karate (8 pages, thank you very much) and also had a test where I had to show my stuff as they say. I will admit that I worked very hard on my katas. I will never be the most skilled martial artist but for an out of shape over-weight old lady, I do OK.

My son left Monday afternoon for his (delayed) school trip to Germany. When we dropped them off in April for the trip that ended up being cancelled, the parents and students were all pretty incredulous and stressed. We wondered if the trip would leave or if it left, if they would get stranded somewhere. This time, everyone was much more relaxed. The general consensus from all the parents was that we wanted to leave them home and go instead! It is great to see the opportunities that our children have to travel.

How does my dog know it is summer vacation? During the school year, she bounds out of bed and pesters me until we take boy-o to school. She is practically running laps in excitement. Once summer vacation comes, however, it is all I can do to drag her out of bed to make her go outside before I leave for work. I would understand it if she was hopeful for a week or so and figured it out but, somehow, every year, she figures it out from the first day of summer vacation. She also gets up with great excitement the first day of school. How-on-earth-does-she-know? She is going to be disappointed next year, however, when boy-o drives himself to school. Yup. He will probably get his license this summer. On the day of his last final this year, I commented that it was probably my last day of driving him to school. Needless to say, my reaction and his reaction to that news was a bit different.

That is it for today. Here's to having a bit more time in the mornings.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday is where I ask everyone to stop and think about the good things that are happening. Sometimes it is hard to see the rainbow behind the rain clouds but we know that it is there. This week, I am thankful for (in no particular order):

1) That the school year is winding down. I think we all need a break from the running around.

2) That I have a long weekend coming up and very few plans.

3) That the weather has been glorious here in my neck of the woods.

4) That I have good health insurance and I don't have to make a choice between going to the doctor's and buying groceries like some people.

5) That I have a wonderful fan in my bedroom that cools the room off so I can sleep at night.

6) That I have a doctor's office that I can call late in the afternoon and get an appointment early the next morning.

7) That scientists invented the drugs that I am anticipating will make me feel better after I visit said doctor.

8) That my son was inducted into National Honor Society this week. I am particularly impressed that the entire ceremony was handled by students. Not one word was uttered by the faculty advisors. I am also thankful that when the person slated to induct my son was unable to do so, two other students immediately stepped up to offer. They ended up doing rock, paper, scissors to decide!

9) That the Red Sox swept the Rays.

10) That I got a Girls' Night Out this week. It is so good for the soul.

What are you thankful for?

Here's to appreciation and rainbows.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Facebook - the best thing or the biggest waste of time?

I originally signed up for facebook because my nephew in Texas bought a house and I wanted to see photos of it. A few minutes, a few keystrokes and I was the proud owner of a facebook page. I didn't plan on really using it but it served it's purpose. Within a few days, I had a friend request from one of my oldest friends. I met Kris when I visited Liberty Elementary School the year before we started Kindergarten. We both had older sisters in the school so we both ended up staying there all day while the other wee ones went home after a few hours. We bonded over the swing sets and remained friends until we graduated from high school. However, we had been out of touch for many many years. I was thrilled to reconnect with her.

One thing led to another and I started getting friend requests right and left from school friends. I was enjoying catching up with everyone. We started challenging each other to find more and more. My list of friends was increasing rapidly! How fun! I did have a conversation one evening with a high school friend where we wondered where we would all be in 12 months. Would we still be in contact or would we not bother anymore?

Then it happened. I got a request to join Farm Town and I accepted it. I became obsessed with plowing, planting, harvesting, getting bigger and bigger. I looked at other farms and was jealous of their flowers, their items, their lay-outs. My family started commenting about how much time I was spending playing the games. I sent them away because they were breaking my concentration. I spent time at baseball games talking to another mother about farming. Then the Cafe World invitation arrived and, once again, I said yes. I started building my cafe. I did resist many games but Cafe World did manage to break my willpower. Suddenly, I notice people playing Country Life and I joined that one too. Oh no! Three games to control. Where would I find the time? After making sure that my three games were basically paused, I went to a conference in April. Even though I had my netbook, I didn't play one game. I realized I could live without them and I haven't started playing again. I have not deleted them but that is mostly because I don't know how to.

I have experienced both sides of facebook. The side I love where I get to reconnect with old friends. I am finding that, one year later, I am not as active on the site but that I do still make time to touch base with many of my friends. I have also had the opportunity to reconnect with others. I am so happy to be in regular contact with Kristina, Betty-Lu, Danny, Delina, and Julie. I am finding that in some cases, it was like we never stopped talking to each other. The years have simply melted away. With others, I have formed deeper friendships that didn't exist in the past. As we have grown up, we have much more in common. With some friends, I am finding it delightful to be in touch. I have reconnected with my ex-boyfriend's freshman roommate and quickly remembered how much I appreciated his sense of humor. He might be a little older but that razor sharp wit still exists! Paul also has a blog! I am very happy he did a search for me! On the other hand, some "friends" have basically faded into the woodwork in the past year. Neither of us bother to make an effort and that is ok.

So, to me, since I have deep-sixed the games, Facebook is back to being a great thing. What do you think?

Here's to facebook.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Twofer Tuesday

Twofer Tuesday is where I post two short items. Think of it as a drive thru post!

This past weekend, we had to buy boy-o a new mattress and box spring. This led to the declaration that he wanted to re-arrange his bedroom which led (of course) to the inevitable sorting of the various items that populate his room. He decided that it was time to clean up, declutter and move on. The three shelf baseball shrine was packed away. Ah, the memories! His homerun ball was put in a box for the attic. The plastic helmets from ice cream at the professional games were added to that same box. His signed Nomar photo was joined by his trophy collection. I carefully placed photos from various ballparks, baseball cards, his signed Varitek and Ted Williams' items and his signed Kevin Youkilis (YOUUUUUKKKKK) baseball in another box for the attic. His collection of baseball caps from his various Little League and Fall Ball team went into a trash bag. Yes, we basically packed away his childhood. Where are the time gone?

Last night, I jumped into my trusty SUV after work and met my friends Mary Ellen and Judy for our much needed Girls' Night Out. Yes, once again, I can report a Mary Ellen visit. She is doing well. She is very busy with end of school with her two boys. We spent the evening comparing pains - labor pains (from years ago, of course), growing pains (with 6 boys between us there are plenty of those) and pains of the heart and body (we all hit the big 5-0 this year). Of course, sharing our pains with long time wonderful friends make them all seem better. I needed that and can't wait to do it again.

Here's to growing up and growing old!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Car ride talks

Most parents of teenagers will tell you that the best time to get information from your child is during a car ride. There is something about being stuck in a metal box on wheels that loosens a teenager's tongue. Over the past week, I have heard about:

1) The classmate who started a facebook group making fun of my son. This was mentioned in a passing comment and boy-o assured me that he didn't mind it. Apparently, a classmate started a group saying that boy-o wasn't really smart and that he just persuades others that he is. This classmate is a former friend but as they have gotten older, they have drifted apart because they have very very little in common. Anyway, this kid started the group and sent invitations to it to many of the kids in the high school. He apparently didn't pay attention to who he sent it to because many students who are friends of my son received invites. First period, my son heard about it. My son went up to the other kid in band and politely asked about it. The other kid said it was a joke. My son asked him to take it down and the kid said he wasn't sure he wanted to do that but he would put it as a private group. That is apparently what he has done. The funny thing is that the other kid is the one who ended up looking stupid over the entire thing when other students - including the president of the senior class - came to boy-o's defense. Did I mention that the president of the senior class made it thru Pre-Calc because of help from my son? Or that they are in AP Calc together? Boy-o is getting an A and El Presidente is barely passing? Yeah, he is going to agree that Boy-o isn't particularly smart. NOT!
Of course, in this day and age, this could be construed as cyber-bullying. Another reason why this kid ended up looking stupid. I am pleased with the maturity that my son showed in dealing with it.

2) That my son is contributing articles to a website dedicated to Magic The Gathering. Once again - just a passing comment was made. His first article was published in April and the next one is being published this week. I read it. I have not a clue about what it said but it seemed impressive to me.

3) That my son was selected for National Honor Society. Once again - you guessed it - this was in a passing comment. We had already talked on the phone and I was told "nothing interesting happened at school today". He may not have been excited but I certainly was.

4) That cyber-bullying is alive and well and my son thinks it is stupid. I guess some kids started two facebook groups making fun of a middle school student and her mother's death in a car accident. One group is called "At least my mother knows how to use the brakes". How sad! He didn't know who started the group and he ignored the invitation.

So, I am off to gas up the SUV. You never know when a teenager might need a ride... or when a mother might need some information.

Here's to car rides.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Fragments

Mommy's Idea

Welcome to Friday Fragments! Please join me in thanking Mrs. 4444 for encouraging us to take all of those little bits and pieces of thoughts and assembling them into one post. Think of it as a crazy quilt of randomness.

It always amazes me how two people can look at the exact same thing and come up with 100% different conclusions. My co-worker was telling about how her sisters were trying to convince their father to give up smoking. My thought was "Ah, how nice. They are showing that they care." and then she continued on to say "They should just leave him alone. It is his life." I didn't get the impression that they were harassing the poor man but rather had just suggested that he try to quit for health reasons. I see love and she sees interference.

Our local high school participated in an "Every 15 Minutes" alcohol awareness program this week. For those of you not familiar with this, they reenact a drunk driving accident and the ramifications. They showed the accident (complete with a passenger thru the windshield and blood) and had emergency vehicles come and take the patient to the hospital with the parents following. They "arrested" the driver, had a hearse take away a deceased person, etc. The next day, they held a mock funeral. They had parents participate. I am not sure I could do it. Very powerful. They also had the grim reaper show up in classrooms every 15 minutes to take students away. The students then returned to class with special t-shirts like they were ghosts and couldn't talk for the rest of the day. After the grim reaper's visit, they would read the obit as an announcement for the entire school to hear. My only complaint about this program is that the announcements were distracting for my son and his fellow classmates who were taking an AP exam. Just would have been nice to pick a different day and not interrupt an exam. Just sayin'.

My son told me today that the AP Art, Calculus, Physic and English classes are going on a "field trip" to Boston since their work for the school year is basically done. I asked why the AP US History class wasn't going too. His immediate answer was "They are Juniors, Mom. Why would they go?" "Um, you are a sophomore and you are going." "Well, that's different."

The weather forecast for our little part of the world looks good this weekend and should be 75 and sunny on Sunday. You guessed it! I am planning on reclining on my new lounger with a class of iced tea in one handle, my kindle in the other and my dog next to me. Oh, yeah. The husband can recline too.

My co-worker's son is playing Little League so I volunteered to help out in the concession stand for one of his games. It was weird to be back in a place that I spent many many hours at a few years ago. Oh, how I miss the baseball games and watching my boy-o play.

In our small town, we have a relatively small Little League program. My son's last season in Little League started off questionable when his team was dissolved and he had to be redrafted onto another team. Of course, he didn't end up on the team he was hoping for. That year, there were 3 teams in his league. One was extremely stacked, one (his team) was average and the remaining team was not very good. Strangely enough, he wanted to be on the team that wasn't very good. One night, his (new) coach put him in as a relief pitcher and he did a great job. The next game, he was told that he was going to be the starting pitcher! Wow. What a great feeling. However, they were going against the undefeated team. Hopefully, they would be able to play an entire game and not get cut short because of the 10 run mercy rule. That was my hope anyway. When my husband showed up at the end of the first inning, he looked at the scoreboard and assumed that my son's team was losing. He was stunned to hear that our boy-o was pitching and his team was winning! How could it be? The game continued on in that vein. Our team was hitting everything and their team was not hitting much at all. At one point, a father came up to me and said "I know I could stab myself in the heart right now and it wouldn't matter because this is obviously a dream!". My son had an outstanding game. He went 4 for 4 at the plate, pitched a complete game AND made it home on a passed ball to end the game. My wish didn't come true. They did end the game early. However, it was because the other team was behind by 10 runs. Yup. Not only did they win, they mercy-ruled them. Happy Dance! Oh yes, the good old days. How I wish he hadn't decided to give up baseball.

One of my niece's fellow musicians at the University of Maine is one inspirational gal who is fighting cystic fibrosis. If you want to read about someone with a positive attitude, check this out. It definitely put a new perspective on my complaints. Suddenly I realized how trivial they really are.

Have a great weekend. Don't forget to go over to Mrs. 4444's and check out the rest of the crazy quilts.

Here's to Friday Fragments.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Perceptions of age

As a child, all adults seemed, well, OLD! Parents of my friends were all ancient and teachers were probably nearing retirement or at least that is how I perceived it. As I am advancing in age towards my (gulp!) fifties this year, a couple of things have made me realize how very far off my perceptions were.

I just received news that the secretary to the high school principal of my local high school passed away on Sunday. At the first telling, it didn't really surprise me. I mean, I graduated more than 30 years ago and, while I never really thought about her age, I was positive that she must be older. I figured she had retired from her job years ago. Imagine my surprise when I read a post from a former high school teacher that mentioned how strange it would be for her to go to school on Monday and not see Mrs. Curtis there. Huh?!? Was the poor woman still working? How could that be? I followed the link to her obit and discovered that she was only 65! That means she was in her early thirties when I was in high school! How could that be? She was old! At least that is the way I remembered her.

I have also become a facebook friend with the woman who lived directly behind me when I was growing up. In our small rural town, no one was particularly well off but this family had less than most of us. However, it was always a joy to visit their home because it was always full of fun and full of love. It makes me smile to remember their teeny tiny little house with the crank washing machine. She wore her hair up in a very old fashioned bun and wore cotton house dresses .She dressed like my grandmother! My mother dressed much more modern and had an up-to-date haircut. I knew that she wasn't as old as my mother but I had no idea until recently at how very young she really was. Her children posted birthday congratulations on her facebook page and I figured out that she was in her twenties and early thirties in my youth. I could hardly believe it. The cool thing, however, is that from my conversations with her and from all of the photos posted on her page, her home is still full of fun and still full of love. No surprises there!

I didn't become a mother until I was in my thirties. However, I don't consider myself old even though I have lots of white hairs. I just wonder what my son's friends think of me. Do they think I am old? Tell me it ain't so!

Here's to not being old!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mommy's Idea

Welcome to Friday Fragments. What is Friday Fragments? It is the place that you put all those little bits and pieces of things and try to assemble them into one post. Think of it as a mosaic piece.>Mrs. 4444 is the one who came up with this smashing good time. Make sure you check our everyone else's masterpieces.

In honor of Mother's Day, I want to post something that I have seen on facebook.

If lilacs grow in Heaven, Lord please pick a bunch for me. Place them in my Mother's arms and tell her they're from me. Tell her I love her and miss her, and when she turns to smile, place a kiss upon her cheek and hold her for awhile. Because remembering her is easy; I do it every day. She was a wonderful Mother and is an angel now, but there's an ache within my heart...♥ I LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU DEARLY MOM.

I lost my mother 5 days after I turned 22. There is so much that I missed with her and there is so much that she missed. Three of her four grandchildren were born after her death. She wasn't there to see me get married, to see me succeed in the field that we share, or to give me advice in child rearing.I don't think you ever get over losing a parent.

At karate this week, we worked on 'Multiple with take downs'. What is multiple with take downs, you ask. One person attacks and the defender reacts and does multiple techniques. For example, one person will throw a punch and the defender will block it and then punch back, do a kick to the knee, do a joint lock, an elbow strike, etc. When we do it with a take down, we take the attacker down to the ground. It is a great deal of fun! Normally my husband and I don't work together in karate. This is for 2 reasons. First of all, he is a much more advanced student and, secondly, our karate Sensei tries not to pair us up because she doesn't enjoy working with her husband and she doesn't want to cause stress in our relationship. Tuesday night, however, my husband and I got paired up to do multiple with take downs. The first time he punched me, I did my techniques, got his bent over and grabbed his collar and belt and threw him a couple of feet onto the mat. He rolled over to look at me and the look on this face was priceless. He didn't realize that I knew that technique! He was quite impressed. How cool is that?

We have been going to class early on Thursday evenings to learn bo techniques. A bo is a 6 foot wooden rod that we use to attack and defend with. Last night, we did 45 minutes of bo work and then 90 minutes of karate class. Can you say one-exhausted-old-lady?
Actually, it was one-exhausted-and-sore-old-lady-with-a-big-smile-on-her-face-because-it-is-so-much-fun!

Thinking of Hallie this weekend for her first Mother's Day without CJ.

One AP Calculus Exam done and one AP Physics Exam to go. Progress made on the Eagle project this week. It was a good week.

That is all I have for today, folks. Have an amazing weekend and Happy Mother's Day to all of your mothers and mothers-to-be.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Monday Morning Musings

I have always tried to support my son in whatever he wanted to do. He wanted to participate in scouts so I signed up to be the den mother. When he started baseball, I was the team mother. He was interested in music so I joined music boosters, he wanted his friend to visit from Connecticut so I said I would drive 3 hours each way to pick him up, and when he wanted to go to see a band with some friends in Portland, I drove and hung out in the parking lot (for hours!) waiting for it to be over. However, when my son started to get really interested in playing Magic the Gathering, I must confess, I wasn't excited. What is Magic, you ask? It is a card game. Beyond that, I don't really understand it. He attempted to teach me how to play once and it went totally and completely over my head. Apparently it is based on math and statistics. Anyway, I haven't been as supportive as usual about him playing Magic and, truth be told, have tried to discourage it whenever possible. I have recently realized that this is something that is important to my son and have been trying harder. The past several Tuesdays, I have come home from work, quickly gotten ready for karate and driven him to New Hampshire so he can practice with his team and then circles back to Maine and my karate dojo. Sunday morning, I got up at the usual workday time in order to drive him to Boston to a tournament. No sleeping in for me! He actually defeated pro players this weekend. Good Job, Boy-o!! I am proud of you.

The next two weeks look to be pretty stressful in our household as my son will be taking two AP exams. Once those exams are done, however, it looks like relatively smooth sailing for the rest of the school year. His AP teachers don't give finals and they will be working on "fun" projects until the seniors graduate. It looks like he will only have 2 finals at maximum. Phew.

Here's to Monday mornings!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Mommy's Idea

Welcome to Friday Fragments. What is Friday Fragments? I am so glad you asked. It is the day where we take all of the little bits and pieces and try to assemble them into a one post. Think of a a puzzle where all of the jagged pieces come together to make a picture? Why do we do this? Because Mrs. 4444 tells us too! Make sure you go over and check out and see what all of the other participants are putting together. You will be glad that you did!

When we went on our last cruise, I was impressed by some of the deck furniture. They had round loungers that could be flat, have the head up on either side and were big enough for two people. My husband and I enjoyed sitting on one and reading one afternoon. Since once of my goals this summer is to use my deck more, I came home with a desire to purchase one. I searched online without any luck. Lo and behold, one day when searching for screen houses online, I came around this an ad for the Orbit Double Lounger.. I have one on order for my mother's day gift. Can't you just imagine reading on this? Taking a late afternoon nap? I can't wait!

I am on our small town email list for information on town events. This week, I got an invitation to a Septic Social. Yes, you read that correctly. What is a Septic Social?
Septic Socials are workshops that suggest easy and inexpensive practices you can adopt to keep your system running effectively and to also know when you have a problem. Not only can a failing septic system cost you thousands of dollars and lower your property value, but the pollution from them seeps into our local waterways, closing clam flats and causing swimming bans. Who knew they could make learning about your septic system sound so interesting. I wonder how many names they discussed before settling on Septic Social? Can't you just imagine the suggestions? Poop Party? Sewer Soiree, Elimination Event. Yes, deciding was a shi**y job, but someone had to do it. (Sorry, I just couldn't resist.)

I have a lot more vacation time than my husband so I have come up with an idea for this summer to use up a week. It is a secret right now but it involves, the one, the only, Mary Ellen. I will keep you informed if it all comes together.

That is all I have time for today. Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thankful Thursday

On Thursdays, I ask everyone to stop and think about all of the good things in their lives that they are thankful for. Some weeks it is harder than other weeks but it is never a bad idea to stop and reflect. I bet you will be surprised about all of the positive things you have going on!

1) I am thankful to have a son to hug and talk to and, yes sometimes, nag.

2) I am thankful that my medical tests came out perfect. I don't even have to have a follow-up. (PS Thanks for the positive thoughts, Claudia!)

3) I am thankful that the weather has been glorious the past few weekends and the forecast is for 80 on Saturday. Yee Haw.

4) I am thankful that my sister and niece want to come visit this summer and take a jaunt into New York City for a show. Since my sister doesn't like traffic, it is a huge deal.

5) I am thankful that my son's trip to Europe got rescheduled and I didn't lose all of the money. I am especially thankful that his buddies are going too. It should be a great trip.

6) I am thankful for my crockpots and getting back on track. This week, I have made pulled chicken, turkey lasagna and roast chicken. Yum.

7) I am thankful for karate. With all of the stress in my life the past several weeks, I have needed it. For an out of shape old lady, you would be impressed at how far I have come!

8) I am thankful for the friends who gave me support while I was waiting for my test results.

9) I am thankful for my husband who fixes everything that I break.

What are you thankful for today?

Here's to appreciation.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

More Sadness....

In early February, I became aware of a young man who was missing from his college in Georgia. While it wasn't someone I knew, he did graduate from our local high school a few years ago and I know several people who knew him personally. He was from a military family so they were only here a short time which is why I didn't know him. His younger sister was in my son's grade so he knew her and he knew who the older brother was. This missing person story hit close to home.

Yesterday, they located his vehicle in a creek a short distance from where he had been last seen. That particular creek had searched before but more sophisticated sonar and a dive team made this search successful. There was a body in the cab of the truck. Identification will follow today but most people are assuming that it is the missing boy. While they will probably never know why or how he ended up there, he was returning home from a college party so lack of sleep or alcohol combined with a dark boat ramp is a likely answer. As long as foul play wasn't involved, it doesn't really matter.

Someone put it well on one of the facebook pages in Bryce's honor. "Tomorrow is not promised to anyone. Cherish those you have in your life today."

My sympathy goes out to the Tarter family.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Twofer Tuesday

I recently went to a conference. Before I went, I set up my farm, my country life and my cafe so that nothing would spoil or rot or go to waste. I have been back for well over a week and I haven't logged onto any of the games. I am attempting to quit them all cold turkey. I have given passing thoughts to going in and deleting the games but haven't quite made it. I will say that I am enjoying having more free time. I didn't realize how much time I wasted harvesting, cooking, etc. I still think facebook is a great tool for keeping in touch but it can also be a huge time waster.

Last evening, my son and I had a rare evening of both being home without anything we "had" to do. I suggested that we go for a drive. No place special but just out and about. He will be going for his license in a few months so extra practice time is never a bad idea. What is it about the confines of a car that causes kids to talk? In the car, he shares his concerns about work (will the hiring of two additional people really hurt his hours this summer?), his thought processes about why he didn't sign up for a college visit (it is held on his hard day of classes and he doesn't want to miss Physics a few days before the AP exam) and how he is looking forward to the Magic tournament this weekend. Of course, when we got back home, he quickly returned to the monosyllabic answers that parents are familiar with around the world.

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Morning Musings

Late Friday, we got an email from the high school secretary and chaperone of the trip-that-the-volcano-ruined. They have rescheduled the trip for June! Yeah. I was a little concerned that the two senior boys that my son is friends with might opt out because of summer jobs but they are both planning on going. It should be a fun trip for my son... and, yes, I plan on purchasing the insurance for this trip. We do have to pay some more $$ since we didn't get a full refund but I am relieved we didn't lose all of the money.

Saturday evening, I hopped on a limo bus and ended to Boston with some of my co-workers and a few people from other insurance agencies. We headed to Boston's famed and beloved ballpark, Fenway, to see a baseball game in style. No nosebleed seats for us in the outfield. Nope, we were in a luxury box with free food, booze and private restroom facilities. The bathroom even had a flat screen TV so you didn't miss any of the game while taking care of "business". Yes, for a few hours, I experienced life as one of the rich and (maybe) famous. The best news is that the Red Sox, who have been struggling this year, won! It was a late night but definitely worth it.

My nephew works for a company that services oil rigs. The company he works for does work on the oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico BUT he wasn't on that one. Phew.

So after a couple of weeks of worse news after bad news, things are starting to look up. I am expecting some medical test results back in the next few days so I am really hoping that the good news trend continues. Please send positive thoughts my way.

Here's to an upward trend!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Twofer Tuesday

Welcome to Twofer Tuesday where I post two short things.

We are still waiting to see what will happen with regards to my son's trip overseas. The email we received from the tour company said that they will be in touch later this week to share options. I really hope they get to go sometime this summer. If not, it looks like they will apply our payment to next year. Luckily, all of the seniors bought trip cancellation coverage. Yup, you guessed it - the insurance agent (that's me!) didn't buy the insurance. It looks like it will all work out but I am a wee bit stressed over the thought of losing all of our money. Note to self, next time BUY THE INSURANCE!!!

The good news is that my son has been able to pick up a couple of shifts at work this vacation week. They found out they weren't going to go about 3:00 Friday and he - and one of his friends - were able to work on Saturday. When Evan was in 7th grade, I fought with the school about what he should do about math the next year. I started in February and we didn't come to a resolution that our family found acceptable until June. Anyway, it turned about to be the perfect choice for him academically. What my biggest concern - and the concern of some at the school - was how Evan would do socially by being mixed in with students two years older. Well, one of the students that Evan met that year is the kid who got him this job. They have become very good friends. He already knew some of the other kids in the class and they have also become good friends in the years since then. Phew. Score one for following my mom intuition!

Here's to intuituion and short posts.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Fragments - back from the missing

Mommy's Idea

Sorry I just dropped off the face of the earth like that. For some reason, life just got the better of me the past few weeks. It is the perfect time for a Friday Fragments post because my mind is totally on overload. Thank goodness for Mrs. 4444 - she gives us the approval we need for all this confusion!

Two very sad events have really affected me these past few days. I was at a conference last week and got a message that a friend and former co-worker had been killed in a car accident. I had just sent her a message suggesting that we get together for dinner some evening and now we can't. What a wake up call to live every moment to the fullest and to make time for those things that are important. Time with friends and family is precious and should be at the top of the "To do" list.

I got a call on Wednesday evening from Mary Ellen that Hallie's son, CJ, had passed away. I simply cannot fathom the pain the family must be experiencing. Parents are not supposed to bury their kids. I have not met Hallie in person (yet) but I enjoy her blog and know that she has to be a special person because of her friendship with Mary Ellen.

My heart goes out to both families.

My son was supposed to leave on a trip to Germany/Austria/Switzerland/France today. They have been planning it for over a year. He was excited about it - especially since two of his friends were going. They are seniors and Evan realizes that this is the last chance for them all to go. Who would have thought that a volcano in Iceland would cause all this chaos? They actually told the students they were going, put them on a bus and took them to the airport. On the way, they got contacted that their flight to Paris was cancelled and they, of course, had to return home. The trip is cancelled for this week and may or may not be rescheduled. If they don't reschedule, it is possible that the seniors will get their money back and the underclassmen will get a credit towards another trip. How frustrating!

That's all for today. Don't forget to go over to Mrs. 4444 and see what everyone else is up to.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Is it just me........

Is it just me is little thing that Miss Hallie does where we blurt out all of those things that come to our minds and we wonder if anyone else thinks the same way. Make sure you go over and see who else has taken off their filters this week.

Is it just me or is slipping into a bed with fresh sheets a glorious thing? I swear I get the best sleep on that first night of clean sheets. I love being enveloped in the crispness.

Is it just me or does it make you cringe a little bit when you hear about someone taking advantage of the system? My co-worker mentioned yesterday that her son's family was on welfare now because they just had a new baby. Mom quit her full-time job and is not going back to work. She is healthy, the baby is healthy but she wants to stay home. I understand that but she can't afford to. She had a well paying job teaching at a college. What about the rest of us who want to stay home but we get up every day and go to a job we may hate just to pay the bills? I know someone else who is a single mother. Her ex-husband set aside enough money to pay for college for their son. She just decided to file for financial aid for him even though it isn't really needed. However, her income is low and because Dad isn't the primary caregiver, his income doesn't really count. She will get money that she really doesn't need. None of this is illegal but it does make me cringe. Anyone else feel the same way? I just think that there is only so much money to go around so the people who really need it are getting less than they should be.

Is it just me or does the weather report saying that the weather is going to be really nice in a few days make you almost giddy? March in Maine has been the rainiest on history but they are saying we will have 70 degree weather on Friday. Yee Haw!

Is it just me or is it time to dash? Here is to Hallie the magnificant!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Twofer Tuesday

Last night, I braved the driving rain and strong winds to head north to Portland. A little (really a lot!) of rain wasn't going to keep me from Girl's Night Out! Really, I have my priorities in order, thank you very much. So, I am pleased to report another Mary Ellen sighting. She showed up - a little late and a little soggy - but in the flesh! She looks absolutely MARVELOUS! She is still very busy but happy. We, plus our other friend Judy, spent the evening talking and eating and talking and teasing and talking. Did I mention that we talked? As always, the years since the days in Androscoggin Hall at the good ole University of Maine just faded away and it was like we were back there again. Back then, we discussed boys and homework and boys and family. Nowadays, we discuss boys (our sons, husbands, ex-husbands and new friends) and family and, yes, health issues. OK. A few things have changed but not everything. I am so lucky to have these wonderful, loving, caring women in my life. I can't wait until Girls' Weekend Away. Stay tuned!

Yesterday, I got a check-in phone call from my son who informed me that the paperwork for class scheduling came out. He informed me that he had questions that he would like my imput on but also reminded me "that the final decision was his". I guess he told me! His big quandry is how to fit in everything he wants to take with everything he needs to take along with taking advantage of the opportunity to "teacher assist" (TA) in the AP Calc class next year. During my long car ride to Portland, I was able to ponder the question and came up with a potential solution. I gave it to him when I got home and got a "hey, that's a good idea!" My response was "really?!?". Is it possible that Mom knows something afterall? I do find it funny that last fall his AP Calc teacher mentioned him assisting her his junior or senior year but she was adament that he be a TA in a calss of younger students. She felt that would be easier for Evan. How times have changed. She is now strongly encouraging him (ie - she went to guidance and got the signoff for it!) to TA the AP Calc class next year. The students will all be a year older than my son. However, she has figured out that he can hold his own. He is excited about the opportunity and I think it will be a great way to reinforce the knowlegde he got this year. He will also be doing the next AP Calc B/C class online. Yup. Another busy year.

That's it for today. Have a great one!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Fragments

Mommy's Idea

It is time for another session of Friday Fragments. FF is where we take all of the bits and pieces of information floating around and use them all. It is like when you clean out all of the leftovers in the refrigerator and assemble them all into a casserole. Make sure you check out Mrs 4444 who is the head chef in this party and all of the other cooks.

I have been a fan of Survivor since the first season. I was excited to see that Boston Rob - one of my favorite all time players - was returning for another season. While he is a snake, I love how he plays the game. This season, I have been particularly impressed with his game play - both physical and mental. I will confess that I searched for spoilers and was very upset to see that Rob was booted fairly early. Each week, I watched in dismay as the player "voted off of the island" followed what the spoiler said. On Wednesday evening, I sat down with some hesitation to watch this week's episode as Rob was on the list to be eliminated. However, THE SPOILER LIST WAS WRONG!!! Boston Rob won individual immunity and remains to play another day. YEAH! Furthermore, the two players voted out (in a rare double elimination) were much further along the list so it throws the entire boot list in question. Perhaps Rob will go further - and perhaps Russell will get elimiated soon!

My son was stage manager for his high school's competition one act play. For the first time since 1986, they qualified for the state competition. The week before states, my son was out sick on day. He soldiered on and went back to school even though he was very tired. He didn't want to miss rehearsal or the play. They were out late Friday night and left our town at 9:00 am Saturday morning. They spent the day at the competition and didn't return until 1:00 am Sunday morning. The school has a tradition of going out to iHOP after competition so they headed over. Unfortunately, because he was so wiped out, he ended up getting sick. I received a phone call from his friend to let me know. Come to find out, my son asked him to call. I think he wanted to make sure that I would be up when he got home. I was and stayed up with him for another hour until he was feeling a little better. Moral of the story: Even at 15, when you are sick, you still want your Mom.

Another woman has come out saying she had an affair with Jesse James. John Edwards' mistress has granted an interview about their relationship. As disgusted with the men involved (including Tiger), I am equally disgusted with the women. They knew these men were married. It takes two to tango as they say. I was particularly dismayed that John Edwards' mistress took the shots at Elizabeth. Beyond the fact that Elizabeth has terminal cancer, there is a child involved. Their children are half siblings. What message is she sending to her daughter who will find the article when she is older? What a lack of class.

The weather here in Maine has been very strange. It was in the 70s last Saturday and is supposed to be in the 30s tomorrow. It is hard to know how to dress each day!

Here's to Friday Fragments and Mrs. 4444!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Morning Musings - small town edition

Boy, I just love living in a small town and here is why:

Last Friday when I was at work, I received a call from my Credit Union. I had dropped my ATM card in the parking lot. Someone had found it and turned it into the town hall close to my office. The people in the town hall called the credit union who checked my file to find out where I worked and called to let me know. I had it back before I even realized it was missing. How cool is that?

We have had several bad wind storms the past month. One caused multiple roads to be closed and many branches in the road. In my journey to work, I drove over a branch at got it stuck under my car. That night, on the way home from work, I decided to stop in at the local coffee shop to see if I could pick up a few goodies for the next morning. I parked my car and went to the back to see what the unholy racket was to discover the branch. Since the parking lot was muddy and wet, I decided to wait until I got home to have my husband remove it. Before I could even walk back around my car, the coffee shop owner's husband was outside asking me if I was having car trouble. I explained that I had a small branch stuck and the next thing I knew, he was lying on the wet parking lot removing it for me.

Of course, it does go both ways. One of the other coffee shop owners lives a very short distance from us. He mentioned - in passing - that he was bummed he had traded in his truck because he had something to take to the dump. The next time my husband went, he stopped by and picked up the item and took it for him. Just so you know, we didn't know these people until they opened the coffee shop. It is just what we do in our small little town. Neighbors help neighbors.

Here's to small town life!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fragments for Friday

On Fridays, the wonderful, the all-in-one-piece Mrs. 4444 invites us all to join in with her and celebrate the coming weekend by clearing our minds out of the little bits and pieces of this and that. It is sort of a spring cleaning on a weekly basis. Make sure you check out her amazing blog and all of the blogs of everyone else who is joining in.

Our school department had a band concert this week. Grades 5-12 participated. We enjoyed music selection from the beginners band (with lots of eekks and squeaks) and ended with a standing-ovation evoking performance by the high school band. In addition, a local wind ensemble played a couple of songs and then joined with the 7-8 and high school bands for a joint song. What a great time! I, unfortunately, didn't get to really enjoy most of the performances because I was manning the music boosters bake sale table. It was oh, so fun. Well, not totally bad but I don't understand why some parents go to concerts and allow their younger children to RUN WILD. The parents were in the gym enjoying the music while 4, 5 and 6 year old kids were running around, out of their sight, yelling, hooting and hollowing, sliding down the wheelchair ramp, playing in the elevator, etc. The parents had no idea what these kids were up to. The high school principal had to leave the concert to make sure they didn't get hurt or didn't hurt anything.

Other kids were sent to the bake sale table with money clutched tight in their fists. One woman gave her two kids $5. each to spend on cookies, cupcakes etc. One first grader was determined to spend all $5. I was certainly happy he wasn't going home with me that night. He must have been bouncing off of the ceiling with a sugar rush.

We sell the baked goods by "donation". This means we don't set a price. In most cases, this works out fine but we did have two middle school girls who were taking advantage of the situation. To make it worse, they were trying to be sneaky about it. We had decided to shut them off the next time they came up but they must have figured it out (or must have figured out that 10 things each was enough!) because they ended up staying away.

We held a raffle that brought in over $8000. The nice thing was that staff members won 3 of the approximately 10 prizes. That made me smile because you know they get hit up for every fundraiser.

The weather these past few days has been glorious and tomorrow is supposed to be even nicer. I went to a play last night and was walking around at 10:00pm with out a jacket in a short sleeved shirt. This is not typical for March in Maine. I have to say, however, that I am loving it. Of course, if Old Man Winter decides to descend again, I am going to be crushed. I try to tell myself that this won't last but I really want spring to be here.

My son worked on his eagle project yesterday. Yeah - the first step! I didn't get to really discuss it with him but he is heading in the right direction.

That is all I have for today. Thanks, Mrs. 4444 - I feel a lot better.

Here's to Friday Fragments.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Is it just me........

On Wednesdays, I follow the leader and join in with Hallie on something she calls "Is it just me...?" where we throw the filters out the window and post those thoughts where we wonder if everyone or even if anyone thinks the same strange thoughts that we think. Why do I do this you ask? Because Hallie has been on a diet and I don't want to cross her! No, just kiddin', Hallie. Because it is fun! Isn't that what this is all about? Interjecting some fun into our mundane lives?

Is it just me or has anyone else had a hard time motivating themselves lately? I don't know if it is the post-vacation let-down or the yucky weather of the past week or the time change but I just can't seem to get out of my own way. I have thought about blogging but usually can't get myself motivated to put even a few words together. The weather yesterday was nice and the forecast is great for the rest of the week so hopefully I can get myself going.

Is it just me or does it seem like everything happens at once? Between concerts, meetings, karate, more meetings, fundraisers, even more meetings, I haven't had even a few seconds to myself since I got back from vacation. Somehow, that is probably related to the item above.

Is it just me or do you find the reality tv spoilers like a car wreck on the highway? I don't want to look but I can't stop myself. If the Survivor spoilers are true, I am going to be very upset with 1) who is voted off next and 2) who the final three are.

Is it just me but do you hate being suspicious about a co-worker's motivation? My evil co-worker is taking Thursday and Friday off this week (so she can recover from today's St. Patty's day activities) and she started coughing and complaining about 2:30 yesterday that she "didn't feel well". Yup, I predict that she is calling in sick today so she gets three days off for the price of two vacation days. This is the same woman who took off "bereavement" days when her mother passed away. Instead of having a funeral, they went to Foxwoods and gambled.

Is it just me or is it time to go to work? Have a great day everyone and I will try to be back soon - and in a better mood!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thankful Thursday returns

On Thursdays, I take a moment to reflect on all of the positive things in my life and I invite you all to do the same. On those weeks when it seems like Friday will never get here or the pile of laundry reminds you of Mount Everest, it is helpful to think about how lucky we really are. Think of all of the people who have very few clothes to wash!

This week, I am thankful for (in no particular order):

1) My husband. We just spent a week on vacation together - by OURSELVES - and we had an awesome time. I hear of people who face the "empty nest" and wonder what they will talk about with their spouses now that they don't have a child to run interference and I know I won't have that issue with my husband.

2) My son. We left him home alone for a week while we went on vacation and returned to a relatively clean house, no reports of parties, etc. He made it to school on time every day, got his homework done and was still speaking to his grandmother. No broken bones, no blood, the animals were still alive - yes, it was very successful! I am very grateful that I have a son I can trust.

3) Electricity - before we left on vacation, we lost power from a bad windstorm. Living without power is hard!

4) Parents who care out the students in our schools.

5) My son's friends. Two of his friends provided transportation while we were on vacation. It was nice to know that they were dependable and also that I didn't have to worry about them drinking and driving, etc.

6) A job to come home to. I might not love my job but I am happy to have one.

7) The money to take a vacation. I know I am lucky to be able to go on a cruise. Many people are not that fortunate in this economy.

8) Relatively good health. I may complain about my aches and pains but I am not facing serious issues like many people

What are you thankful for today?

Here's to the good life!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Is it just me.....

Is it just me is a little gig that Hallie (who I will meet sometime soon!) does on Wednesdays where we share all those thoughts where you wonder if there is anyone else in this world that thinks the way you do.

Is it just me but isn't it fun when you are in a meeting and you know that someone else is thinking the EXACT same thing you are? It doesn't happen all that often to me but, strangely enough, it happened twice yesterday. Something happened in the meeting and I made eye contact with a co-worker and realized that we were sharing a brain. The fact that one of the times it happened with my "co-worker from He--" makes it even stranger. Seriously, we have about as much in common as an apple and spinach. So to share the same thought was very strange and, to be honest, kind of scary.

Ia it just me or is taking a vacation with limited internet access hard to do? I really hate to admit that but it is hard to give up blogging and facebook and email. Of course, to add to my angst was coming back to facebook and having to catch up on farmtown, Cafe World and Country Life. Sometimes those games become more of a chore than fun.

Is it just me or is the fact that my son's drama club won their division in the one act competition pretty exciting? First time in over 20 years. What makes it particularly exciting is that I missed the previous performance because I was on vacation so now I get to see the play.

Is it just me or does it make you smile to hear that the drama club goes by TADA? Seriously, their name is Traip Academy Dramatic Arts and it is shortened to TADA. Someone had their thinking cap on that day.

Is it just me or does it piss you off when you are wide awake on those mornings when you can sleep late? Yup, I drag myself out of bed grudgingly most mornings. This morning, I realized I could sleep an extra hour and woke up at the normal time bright eyed and raring to go. Doesn't that just figure?

Is it just me or is this all you have time for today? Make sure you go over and just out what thoughts Hallie and the others are wondering about today. Have a great one!

Here's to Hallie!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Is it just me........

Hallie got some really great news this week but I am not going to tell. You have to go over to her blog and read it for yourself. She does a bit on Wednesdays called "is it just me..." where we all stop wondering and start asking. You know how you sometimes ask yourself if you are the only person who thinks a certain way? Here is your chance to clear out that log-jam of wondering. You better do it. If you don't, all those thoughts will jam up with the fragments and you won't be able to play along on Friday Fragments and your head might just explode from all of the randomness and wondering. That would be a bad, bad thing.

Is it just me or have you ever worked with someone who is clueless about what is going on in the office? A few weeks ago, a nice but very naive co-worked commented to me that she loves working where we work because "everyone gets along". I stared at her in absolute confusion. I have been there 12 years and we have more issues with personality conflicts than ever before. I really wanted to ask her where she was talking about because I just don't see it.

Is it just me or do you sometimes force yourself to go exercise and walk away with a smile? Last night was one of the few times that I have really wanted to skip karate class. However, I dragged myself and my aching back there. 2 hours later, I was very happy that I did. My back actually felt significantly better.

Is it just me or do you wonder if criminals ever read the newspapers? There are several newspapers in nearby Portsmouth NH. Two of them have been robbed several times in the past few years. Every 5 or 6 six months, there is an article in the paper about an attempted theft where the employees chase down the person and capture them until the police get there. Seriously, this happens on a regular basis. What don't they pick a different set of stores where the help doesn't chase them? They might get away with it. But, no, they try the store, get caught and are on the front page of the paper. I also wonder if the stores have speed in the 100 yard dash and self defense training as part of their job screenings. Just sayin' it might be important.

Is it just me or is time up? Have a great day!

Here's to Hallie's great news!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Twofer Tuesday is suspended for this week

Twofer Tuesday is suspended for this week because...... (drum roll please)
I won another award!! Yeah for me!! Thanks to the academy and all the little people.... Wait, it isn't that award? That's right, its a happy award and that makes me pretty darn happy! The kind (and crazy) Annie D is the one who gave me this honor. Make sure you check out her blog because she always makes me smile!

The rules for me accepting this award are:

1. Copy and paste the award on your blog.

2. List who gave the award to you and use a link to her blog (or hyperlink).

3. List 10 things that make you happy.

4. Pass the award on to other bloggers and visit their blog to let them know!

I am passing this award on to:

1) Melissa

2) Angie

3) Debbie

4) Nichole


5) The reason Girls' Nights Out make me happy, Mary Ellen

10 Things that make me happy:

1. My amazing boys, both of them (yes, husband does usually make me happy)

2. My dog when she put her head on me and looks at me like I am her favorite

3. Vacations (my next one starts on Saturday!)

4. Humpty Dumpty BBQ potato chips. That is my "OMG, I have had a bad day!" food. If you see me with those AND peanut M & Ms, you may want to leave the premises. Just sayin', Don't say I didn't warn you.

5. When my evil co-worker is on vacation. 'Nuff said.

6. Girls' Night Out

7. Sincere compliments

8. My kindle

9. Karate Class

10. New comments and new followers on my blog!

Here's to Annie D!

Have a great Tuesday.