Saturday, January 30, 2010

Another one bites the dust!

It was a fairly rough week and it's my own fault to boot! Since my earliest memories my parents would pop a huge pan of popcorn in the evening and we would sit around and munch on it as we played games or watched T.V. I continued the practice. Not so much of an addiction as it was a source of comfort. So much so that on a pre-school 'survey' about their Mom's, Julia had listed my favorite comfort food as popcorn(: I had been so good about avoiding salt as a way to manage my Meniere's that I had a good week or more with almost no dizziness. Then Monday night I felt I could splurge with a little bit of popcorn. Tuesday was a bit wobbly but I managed until I made fatal mistake #2...homemade chicken soup with dumplings!!! Now I had very deliberately used a low sodium broth and had added no extra salt leaning on the garlic and pepper to give flavor but I totally forgot about the fact that the Bisquick mix's baking soda = SODIUM!!! By Wednesday morning I was back on that tilt-o-whirl. This lifestyle change is going to take some mastering since the amount of sodium used in EVERYTHING is crazy! I mean MILK has a bunch of sodium?!?! Who would have thought that??? Label reading is my new sport and there is a new cookbook to read to reteach me how to cook salt-free. Here's hoping I can control myself in the future...boy am I missing my Mexican and Chinese favorites! A second consequence of the vertigo is a serious upset in my sleep cycles. Now at this I know a few of my family members who lurk on here are spitting Diet Coke at the computer screen as they laugh. (By the way, there's another whole dilemma!! I'm also supposed to reduce my caffeine consumption as a way to control the Meniere's but do you realize that there is TWICE the amount of sodium in the caffeine-free Diet Coke as there is in the regular Diet Coke??? For now I'm satisfying my Diet Coke addiction by alternating between the two in a weird and bizarre logic in which I'm trying to have my cake and eat it too!) This is because I've never had a 'normal' sleep cycle as far as they are concerned. I really do, it's just a nocturnal cycle which isn't particularly compatible with work and parenting! Post vertigo means I just want to sleep for a day straight and then a day or two of feeling hung over...also not compatible with work and parenting! So I found myself last night completely unable to sleep! I absolutely hate laying, looking at the ceiling, while I count down the hours until the alarm rings so I stay up and keep busy. Decided to start another knot style jumper in spring colors for the eBay venture. This one is 3t/4t as it has an elastic back band which allows for a range of fit. As I was sewing I also mulled over a plan to do a 'give away' like a few of my blogging buddies are doing! So keep coming back as I plan to announce my give away early next week!!! Then this afternoon we headed off to Julia's school for their Winter Carnival (a.k.a. PTA fundraiser). Mixed feelings since she would get into it and be so happy and then all of sudden she would run back over to me and ask, "Are you dizzy Mom?" I hate what this has done to her sense of security in having Mom as the rock to lean on and just have to get this under control so she can relax and just be a kid again! To that effort I really bit my tongue when she got in the line for the goldfish toss. Pets and Mahoneys don't really go together. We started with three parakeets who were 'free' from my brother who had waaaay too many due to his uncanny ability to breed them. UGH, the mess was overwhelming! Besides the cage cleaning there was the spray of seeds and feathers all over the room! When we moved from the city they went to Uncle John's until our new house was 'ready' for them which has been NEVER. Then came Butterfly and Flounder, the Beta fish that some wacky parents thought were the coolest party favor for their daughter's little mermaid themed 4yo birthday party!?!? I didn't protest too much because I figured they were short lived anyhow and that I would soon be recreating a scene from Nemo where all pipes lead to the ocean. Noooo, we get the only two Beta fish that just do not die! Eventually after more than a year Butterfly did develop some kind of tumor. After weeks of trying to explain humane euthanasia to a child who had just finished a unit on the miracles performed by Jesus who fully expected that Butterfly was surely a worthy recipient of a 'miracle of healing', Butterfly did go 'belly up'. Surely Flounder wouldn't be far behind?? Yeah, no such luck. What's so unbelievable about the whole Flounder saga is that I was so convinced that he couldn't last much longer that we never invested in a 'real' fish tank with aerators and heaters!! So every week I would have to transfer him to a cup while I scrubbed the bowl and washed the gravel of all his muck. When the end finally came and we stood in reverence around his porcelain coffin, I was earnestly in prayer...I REALLY was...prayers of thanksgiving for being delivered from the pet care servitude!!! So there she stands. Waiting so patiently. Waiting with the earnest hope that she would land one of those bouncy ping-pong balls in one of those little glass fishbowls. Meanwhile, I was waiting with more than a little hope that those balls missed their target mixed with a little, teeny, tiny tinge of guilt that our current pet-free state is due to her allergies and asthma. You see, after Butterfly and Flounder we did not remain pet-free for long. I was consumed by some warped sense of guilt over the fact that my children were being deprived of pets due to my lack of self-discipline. I convinced myself that I just had to suck it up and agree to accept the responsibilities of pet care and that is how we 'adopted' Kelty. Baby brother was simply the most people loving, good dog that a family could ever hope to have BUT after two years of escalating asthma/pneumonia cycles with Julia we broke down and did the testing we were dreading. As documented in one of my earliest posts, Julia was off the charts allergic to dogs...and a BUNCH of other things as well! Kelty's good natured ways had made it easy for Aunty Peggy to assume guardianship and though he's not gone he is also not a 'pet' anymore. So it was finally her turn and she launched her ball loaded down with all her hopes and prayers....... and here is where you are thinking that because of the title I tell you that she wins a fish who was indeed SHORT lived. Oh, noooooo. Here is where I get to tell you that not only did that ball land cleanly in the fishbowl but so did a second one!?!?!?!?!?!? The fish are still very much alive because the school did not want the aggravation of live fish at the carnival so Julia is asleep with a coupon under her pillow that entitles her to go to our local pet store and pick up TWO goldfish BEFORE February 7th...which to her means TOMORROW. But the reason I am having to tell you about this incredible feat is because what bit the dust was my CAMERA! In all the excitement of that first ball landing in the bowl I instinctively went to clap which resulted in my camera taking flight. The landing was pretty ugly. But now, with a smile on my face, I get to say how I actually PURCHASED the insurance this time and it's COMPREHENSIVE! I never buy that darn insurance but this time I just had this sense. Lucky for me because otherwise those would be two of the most expensive darn pets we've ever owned!!! Now, let's just hope they replace the camera QUICKLY.

Friday, January 29, 2010

FFF- Favorite January Photo

This week's theme is your favorite photo taken in January. So many of my blogging friends have either cute/funny or artistic photos up but mine are none of the above. I'm also stretching the rules by posting two taken on the last days of December...January has been kind of a bust this year. Family game night at Auntie Peggy's with a rare picture of my Dad enjoying the interactions of his youngest grandchildren...even when it means he has to perch on a little step stool chair! These are the ones most featured on this blog because they are contemporaries of my girls but there are another crowd in their 20's! Big Mike who got married in October is the second oldest of all the grandchildren. Someday I'll get around to scanning the portrait we take every couple of years of all the grandchildren so you can see the whole gang. Stretching the rules again by posting a second one! This is how Julia spends her time waiting for the Mac 'n Cheese at Outback.

Monday, January 25, 2010

At the watering hole!

Neither of my girls are keen on bathing unless it involves swimsuits and water slides. From the very first night in the hotel in Guatemala, both of them have wiggled, whined, and then wailed about having to take a bath! Sometime around first or second grade we reached a loose agreement that if I let them shower every other day they would stop resisting. Loose agreement I said, because I do still get the "not now' and 'later' even though the outright wailing has (for the most part) ceased. Then last night a RARE request for a 'tubby' popped out of Julia's mouth. It's been a dark and gloomy weekend and she felt like a warm soak, or so she said in her request. Now hair washing is another ball of wax when discussing a bath versus a shower so I popped my head in a couple of times to ask if she was ready for me to help with her hair. With each visit I noticed a certain phenomenon..... the herd on the side of the tub kept GROWING!!!!! I just had to get a picture but she was having no part of a camera in the bathroom while she was in the tub. (Glad the modesty thing is in full force...hope it lasts a decade or so more!!) So I had her crunch up in a ball at one end of the tub, behind the shower curtain, because I thought this was too cute to miss! When she was blown dry and in her P.J.'s she asked to see the picture...guess she didn't trust me! With a big, happy sigh she said, "It looks like my horses are loving the water hole." I couldn't help but think, "I wish you were like your horses!"

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Salt Mine is now safe!

Almost hate to jinx it by even mentioning it but the right ear apparently feels like keeping up these days. I've been able to make it into the Salt Mine several times this past week with no ill affect from seeing flashing needles! Thought it was time to check-in with my blog friends to keep my slacker reputation at bay so I'm posting pics of some recent work. When one of my readers noted that I had Mardi Gras fabric she contacted me about a custom order (always open to those!) for THREE outfits. I have the first one completed and the other two are well under way. Taken at night in the Salt Mine so not the best lighting and even worse is the lack of perspective! This is a little 12mos set. She wants the tops dress length so if the weather is warm they can wear it as a dress but ordered matching pants so just in case the weather is cold they can add t-shirts and jeans. Bonus would mean they could wear them as separates and get a couple of days of parades out of the outfits!! This is the last Valentine's Day item I mentioned in earlier posts. It's a 4t dress made from that same fabric as the denim skirt set. It's eBay item #120521914612 and has two more days left to the auction. Just a back view of the dress! Wish I had made the ties a little wider so the bow would be a little more substantial. We are in the midst of a heat wave!! 40's mean lots of melting snow! Just hoping the weathermen are right that it's going to stay in the 40's as a lot of rain is projected as well...I'd rather rain over snow. Optimal would be SUN and 80's but that's a June/July dream around here!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Oh so 'random'!

Toddlers exploring the powers of their new found vocabulary often provide us with quite entertaining expressions. Tweeners...not so much! If they should happen to actually engage you fully in conversation, you often get the same tired old word used over and over. Lately, the word I hear the most is RANDOM. Everything is "So random!" It's better than the 'whatever' I used to be getting but only just. This week that word finally induced quite the chuckle from Julia and I! Picture the scene; driving home from the city at dusk, in January, in Chicagoland with Mari exercising her new found privilege of sitting in the front seat of the van (over 12 and over 80lbs now!!). As I pulled onto the exit ramp that would take us into our suburb, Mari asks ever so matter of fact, "Mom, why are there random kids standing on the side of the road?" The mother in me kicks into overdrive as I scan the edges of the exit ramp for children in potential a matter of seconds I'm imagining abandonment, stupid teen pranks, or even a snowball ambush (happens here in winter world USA!). In as few seconds I 'find' Mari's "random kids"............ a stand of small pine trees!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The very second it dawns on Julia, the teasing begins and Mari responds with, "Well that was one thought I should have kept inside my head!" I tried so very hard NOT TO LAUGH but it was too much to pass up. In one of my less than empathetic moments I just had to respond.... "Guess those glasses that were prescribed for you in Kindergarten would come in handy about now...hmmmm?" Most of my readers would probably be unaware of the fact that Mari wears glasses. That would be due to the fact that she keeps them safely in her case until she gets to school where they then go on her face only until the last bell which time they are off and back in their case in a nanosecond! I know this because all of her teachers were notified of her propensity to 'forget' her glasses and have united with me in 'encouraging' her to wear them....since she can't see diddly after about 6ft from her nose! She used to wear them readily up until the whole tweener peer pressure thing reared it's lovely head. Now, well let's just say the only time she has them on in a picture is when she is so absorbed in an activity in which they are needed that she forgets to whip them off and hide them out of picture range. Like when we did our Easter eggs last year....which was how far back I had to go to find a picture in which you can clearly see the glasses on her face!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now every time we pass any kind of tree Julia says, "Hey Mari, look another random kid standing in the snow!" and every time I have to smother my smile and pretend I didn't hear the tormenting. A couple of more instances like this and maybe her need to see will overcome peer pressure? Then again, maybe we should have done contacts instead of a phone for her birthday? One last bit of family humor; Tonight was 'family night Thursday' and as usual the cousins were over for homework, church school, and dinner. It was not my husband's favorite dinner. Shake and bake chicken breasts with biscuits and string beans. Now mind you he is not one to waste food EVER and dutifully cleaned his plate but I did hear one mumble about the amount of vegetables on his plate. He is definitely not a fan of green beans or wax beans and tonight's offering was a mix of BOTH! Mari had herself worked into knots over the fact that she has to give a presentation tomorrow at school and barely touched her dinner. When Julia (feeling slighted that she had to clean her plate while Mari was allowed to abandon hers) threw out, "What's with Mari and the beans?" causing Alyssa (only paying partial attention and a HUGE Twilight fan) to respond, "What about vampire beans??" Patrick swung around and exclaimed, "What kind of country is this that they sell VAMPIRE BEANS and why would you BUY such a thing for us to eat?!?!?" I told him that they were good for your digestion as they sucked the blood from your stomach wall which meant he wouldn't be able to absorb all the excess calories from the 4 butter laden biscuits he had eaten!!! ...and well this would be my Julia for you! Just had to play along and sneak up next to Patrick and give him this smile. He wasn't amused. Guess I'll have to hold off on the green beans for a couple of months (:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This and That...

Nothing profound or even a bit interesting to say right now....just checking in so I don't get permanently branded as a 'slacker' by bloglandia! Very rough wake up call this morning which is bastante diferente para las chicas! Usually, my morning doves, need nothing more than the distant buzz of my alarm clock to rouse them for school and it's me hitting the snooze a million times. Winter cold and morning after a long weekend both contributing factors I suspect! While I was extremely tempted to roll back into bed, after they left, I stayed up and worked very diligently...sort of! Patrick had 'heard' of a new site on-line that had just come up with a bunch of birth/marriage records from the late 1800's in his hometown in Ireland. Not being computer comfortable, he had me go in search of said site and we hit the jackpot!! Printed off countless pages of records of his grandparents' generation and found a few interesting tidbits. Seems his grandfather was the godfather to LOTS of children in the parish leading us to suspect that Patrick's father probably got his gift of gab from his grandfather...who did not pass it down to my very quiet Patrick! It was a classic example of why Americans have a tough time tracing down records from overseas, though! Patrick's 'hometown', which is more like a smattering of houses on the side of a mountain (which my family call Brigadoon because it only appears for Mahoneys...a.k.a.-impossible to find unless you know where you're going), was spelled NINE different ways in the records...a few of which took quite a creative license with the pronunciation. Before we knew it the clock was chiming noon?!?!? So after this quick post I've got to get back to sewing and laundry!!! Just another shot of the girls watching Andrew's tournament showing how even though we were 'inside' we still needed our winter wear (: The girls just about died when I stopped in Target and whipped out my camera to snap this picture. They felt like it was 'illegal or something'! Just thought I'd note how the new spring line out in the Junior section had a certain influence....hmm? Did get one of the Valentine's outfits photographed and up on eBay! This is a 4t set using one of the denim skirts that Rhonda had sent for my little enterprise. A back shot of the 4t set which has a NWT long sleeved tee, to which I added the front motif, to pair up with the EUC denim skirt. One more Valentine dress to finish and photograph and then I think I'll head onto St. Patrick's Day and some Disney themed spring break outfits.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Short Long Weekend

While it may be called a 'long' weekend due to the Martin Luther King holiday from school tomorrow, it has flown by here in this house! Play dates and sleepovers meant for busy days and sleepless nights for the younger half of the family. The older half had work. Patrick's was outside of the house and mine was inside of the house. I had few problems with 'the little dizzies' and none with the BIG DIZZY!! I even had time to sew another Valentine's Day outfit for eBay and have another almost camera ready. I will post them as soon as they actually make it in front of a camera (: We even squeezed in some cousin cheer leading action! So this is basically a GIRL'S house. We don't really get into all the sports. We do play soccer, volleyball, and basketball and watch football and the Olympics but hockey just never grabbed us. So we show up to cheer on Andrew who's team is in the thick of a hockey tournament and see the group of whom is supposedly Andrew. Good thing they have their names on their jerseys or we would NEVER have been able to pick him out! We barely recognize him when he's up close!?!? Must say I was happy to see him wearing a mouth guard though (: He can skate like the wind and I must admit to being jealous of how easily he can turn on a dime and skate backwards. I think I was in my twenties before I finally got brave enough to swizzle backwards!! It just dawned on me at these games that Mari has only skated once and Julia never has skated?!?!? Guess it's kind of clear that I'm not a huge fan of cold weather activities. Besides showing Andrew 'mixing it up' on the boards, Auntie Peggy also caught the Mahoney women. We would be the red blob.... huddled up under the blanket. At least it is indoors so we didn't have to endure the outdoor elements but it's still an ICE rink after all!! Auntie Jenny posing proudly with her NFL hopeful. It was a quick picture because they had to head off to another ice rink a few suburbs over for the 'usual' scheduled practice. You'd think the hard fought wins would be 'practice' enough but noooooo, he had another hour or so of drills before he could take some well deserved Motrin and head to bed....only to be back up first thing in the A.M. for the championship game!!!!!!! GO CHIEFS!! Oh, by the way.... we had Mairead's last volleyball game of the season too! Life sure does get busy when they reach middle school!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Drifting back towards normal

No, that's not quite an accurate description. More like drifting INTO a NEW normal. January is never one of our busy months. We spend a vast majority of January handling the day to day business of work, school, and weather. This is a good thing for me right now. Remember how I mentioned that I might just turn some of the reasons why I had been a less than diligent blogger into a post? Well this post would be the first installment! As I've mentioned in past posts I've been having a tough time of late with vertigo. Not just your average dizziness that goes away after a moments rest but days upon days of earth spinning, vomit inducing whirling punctuated with periods of lesser dizziness. Once one of these sessions ends, I'm left feeling like I'm having the worst hangover imaginable. During the odd day, here or there, when the ground stayed put under my feet I was hard pressed to just accomplish the minimum Mothering duties let alone the work obligations! The slightest rolling motion on the TV screen or computer monitor could set it off in a nanosecond so I was off-line a lot in the past month! As I also mentioned, this resulted in my being put on the escalator of specialists visits to pin down once and for all what was the exact diagnosis and treatment. It's at this point that I need to back up in time and explain the "exact diagnosis" part of that sentence! Our family has a definite problem with our left ears!! Clearly some genetic link from my Dad's side of the gene pool. By the time we started to notice the problem, he was old enough that they just lumped it into the "permanent hearing loss due to nerve damage" category. My brother, Uncle Peter, is a typical man who has just embraced the fact that he too must have the same condition and has never pursued any medical opinions. Auntie Peggy used to hold the award for the most unique diagnosis and treatment...until now. At only 14 she was diagnosed with Otosclerosis. Cool term isn't it? Bottom line, the three little bones in her ear were calcifying together into a big rock so they did a Stapedectomy. Another impressive word...which means they surgically removed the defective bones and replaced it with a vibrating, Teflon implant. Except for the need to avoid diving into water or steep, sudden drops in altitude, she has been restored to the normal hearing world. When I was in college I started to notice the hearing in my left ear was not as good as my right. Not unlike Peter's reasoning process, I assumed it was Otosclerosis like Peggy and that with one straight forward operation I too would be 'back to normal'. Unlike Peter, I went to the specialist to confirm this assumption and walked out emotionally devastated after being told that I was now in the "permanent hearing loss due to nerve damage" category. Hearing aids are pretty much useless when the loss is due to nerve damage so I continued on in life. Then, shortly after I finished Dental School, I began experiencing what the medical world calls Tinnitus. Basically, it is NEVER quiet in my left ear!! I always hear loud ringing and hissing sounds and it is very disconcerting when it first begins. So off to yet another specialist! This time I decide to get a "once and for all" diagnosis and treatment so I went to the 'big guy downtown' who LITERALLY wrote the book....the textbook medical students use when studying the ear and hearing. Lots of tests later, "permanent hearing loss due to nerve damage" stamped on the diagnosis sheet and I'm back home resigning myself to a life of saying, "Pardon me"! Fast forward ten years. Sitting in the back of a darkened movie theater with my daughters and husband, viewing the much anticipated new episode of the Pirates of the Caribbean, sitting perfectly still...the world starts to spin. At first I tried to swallow hard and force myself to focus my eyes forward but it just doesn't work. Thinking I'm about to faint or something worse I bolt from the theater whispering as I pass Patrick, "I need to go to the emergency room NOW!" After treating me with IV's filled with all sorts of drugs, I was well enough to be sent of to see specialist #3....this time to rule out any brain tumors or Neuromas...another great word, right? Lots more tests later and this time I have a 'new' diagnosis...maybe. Compressed Loop Syndrome!!! Simplest way to describe what they 'thought' was happening goes like this; a blood vessel in my brain which runs alongside the nerves for the ear had grown a tangled mass of microfingers. When ever these microfingers got inflammed they would put pressure on my nerves resulting in the vertigo. Great! Just keep those babies calm and I'm all good. Sleep, diet, stress and a bunch of other things I don't manage well were all now to be strictly managed...hah! The past three years were composed of many little tiny dizzy incidents which I blamed on my lack of control over some one of the factors resulting in inflamed Compressed Loop Syndrome. Simple, I'd lay down for a few minutes, calm myself, then be right back up into life. At one of my regularly scheduled physicals, my general did briefly discuss this thing called Meniere's Disease but I blew it off because I had Compressed Loop Syndrome AND I had it all under control. Now, all the while, the hearing in my left ear has deteriorated to near nothing! Then all of a sudden, this fall, I could not 'shake off' the dizzy spells with a simple rest. I tried the stress angle (because it was a very obvious factor in my life!!!) but neither physical nor pharmaceutical measures worked to stop the dizzies. It kept intensifying and intensifying until I was now regularly experiencing hoursss long vertigo attacks accompanied by nausea. More tests, more specialists, more visits to the medical library only to finally conclude that I have a CLASSIC presentation of Meniere's Disease. I love my general. He has been dead on so many times in our several decades long relationship that I will be crushed when it is time for him to retire!! Meanwhile, specialist #4 has been a great guy too. He has been the only one to take any real time to listen to me and especially to listen to my concerns about parenting and working while experiencing this condition. He has been open to working with herbals as well as pharmaceuticals but the only problem is....Meniere's is NOT within the scope of his practice and should I continue in my 'classic' presentation I will eventually need to move on to specialist #5 whom he has recommended, sigh, sigh....I LIKE #4 A LOT...sigh. So, for those of you who said you had never heard of Meniere's Disease, here's specialist #4's great real world explanation; For whatever reason, my left ear has decided to commit suicide. The 64,000 question would be why and then Meniere's would no longer be a problem but in the meantime we don't know why it's dying. Since it's dying, the right ear needs to pick up the slack. Not only does it need to pick up the hearing part but it also needs to pick up those jobs related to balance that the two ears are supposed to do as a team. When I'm having my worst of the worst vertigo attacks are when the left ear is dying faster than the right ear can keep up!! I will have periods of time, weeks maybe even years, when the right ear will keep up and I'll only have the 'little dizzies' (as Julia now calls them) but when it cannot I will have the massive vertigo with nausea. Sometimes, if the right ear just continues to lag behind they have several surgical options to try and 'hurry the process along' at which point I'd then have to go to #5. Good news/bad news....I now know it's progressive and there are alleviating treatments but NO CURES. Most importantly, to a control freak like myself, I now know that if I just sit back and ride out the process it will eventually come to an end....once the left ear is completely functionless and the right ear is in full command.Bad news; I only have 25-30% of the hearing left in my bad ear. Good news; I've survived 70-75% of my Meniere's Disease. No knowing how much longer until this process plays out but at least I do know this will not be how I live the rest of my life. So, when I'm quiet here in blogland it will most likely due to Meniere's.....or that tweener who lives with me.... One of the things I've not been able to do during all of this is sew. Sad because it is one of my best de-stressing techniques but the flashing of the needle as it rose and fell would set off a dizzy spell. More sad is the way the eBay market for custom boutique children's clothes has died. I'm hoping it's just the economy and that things will pick-up again because not only does it help us provide Mari's birth family with food delivery but I have fun thinking up new designs! My right ear is keeping up this week so I snuck into the salt mine to give it a try...... Osh Gosh size 5 overall jumper which I 'cutified' with pink pirate print and polka dots! Put some heart appliques on the back to help target the Valentine's Day holiday! Now to see if I have the endurance to get it up on eBay by this evening. Quick pics from our Thursday Family Night with the cousins.... Andrew avoiding homework by 'helping' Julia trace horses from a new activity book she had gotten. We do a TRUE Family Night by sitting down together for dinner...the adults sit at the island so we can all get 'elbow room'. It's so funny to listen in on them sometimes! They still talk about things from YEARS ago as if they were just yesterday. We had Chicken Parmesan with spaghetti last night and Julia COULD NOT WAIT to try out her new 'spaghetti fork'! She's pushing a button on the end that 'starts' the battery operated fork spinning....what will someone think of next?!?!?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Finding our better angels!

I cannot let today pass without voicing my despair for the suffering of the poor souls in Haiti! In a decade of mind boggling catastrophes this one seems particularly cruel. I am praying fervently that the global community digs deep into their collective souls and find 'our better angels' this time and end the desperate plight of those impoverished people once and for all! We will be searching deep into our family's soul tonight and by tomorrow a check will be in the mail to one of the aide organizations. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Eternal rest grant unto them oh Lord and may perpetual light shine upon them!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

'Stellar' Day!

As my OCD friends already know, there is comfort to be had in order. Today order gave me comfort. No fears of me ever becoming OCD...that would take a discipline and attention span I am completely lacking but I just may take the time a little more often to create order in my life! I had a plan for the day, I worked the plan, the plan worked and this gave me much more comfort in the Room Mother role!! As I warned you, I did not get very many pictures. One can only accomplish so much multi-tasking!! I signed into the school at 9:50am and signed out at 11:10 am....schedule accomplished!!!! One of the teacher's aides poked her head into the conference room just as Julia arrived to do her fingerprint which did give me a moment to snap a picture while it was in progress. Being a pushy broad, I asked the teacher for a group shot with the finished Galaxy 120 platter! The finished platter was handed off to the PTA liaison and I can now officially put two notches in my Room Mother belt!! Julia has assured me that both events were 'fun' and I gave her nothing to be embarrassed about so there may be hope yet for the Valentine's Day festivities and the year end picnic......and how ever more extra duties they throw my way. In closing, I was always taught that all good writers do themes threes times. So here's ICICLE THEME #3! The neighborhood kids are in awe of this monster and more than one has contemplated making a play for cracking it off. It's a good five feet long and probably 6 inches around at the top thus the lovely, grandmotherly woman who owns the home has turned down all the children's requests...she doesn't want them to either ruin her gutter OR get injured by the mega dagger. I'll keep an eye on it to see if it grows any in the next couple of days..for your viewing pleasure, of course.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Where, Oh where, has that little backbone gone?

Oh where, oh where can it be? In a very weak moment last September I succumbed to the logic of my cousin Eileen. You see, she has a son in between Mari and Julia in age and lives here in the same town. Burke has attended the public schools here in town since Kindergarten while my girls attended a private school. So when we decided to switch the girls over to public school this year I was keen to pick her brain in an effort to 'come up to speed', so to say, on how things 'worked' in this school district. By this I mean, how political and back stabby are the crowd I'm diving into and what do I need to do as a parent to smooth the waters for the girls' entry into this different culture of education! My cousin would be known in my day as a "Rah rah". One of those effervescent, enthusiastic, the grass is always green personality types. I am sooooo very NOT like that! I'm sarcastic, distrustful, and quite un-politically correct. I am also the OLDER cousin and should have known better than to try and embrace her advice given our very different personalities. But noooooo! I go and dive right in and offer to be Julia's Room Mother....on the premise that it will get me up close and personal with the new classmates and help me see first-hand the dynamics of this new school. What was I drinking that day????? I am NOT Room Mother material....period. It's now too late. The damage has been done. I am official and have one assignment under my belt to date. Once the Holiday Party ended, I thought I was pretty much off the hook until Valentine's Day. Me, the distrustful, doubting Thomas and I bought the line about only "having three obligatory" assignments with this gig?!?!? Yep, you got it. The teacher e-mails last Friday that the PTA is having a fund raiser and that I need to organize all the kids in the class to decorate a ''platter' which will be auctioned off during an upcoming event......oh, and they need it by the 15 th but the only day she can squeeze into the curriculum for them to paint is between 10-11am TOMORROW?!?!? Oh, and another thing....can it somehow tie into their current Science topic of the Solar System? I consider myself fairly crafty. I'm not at all intimidated by "coming up with a platter that ties into the Science lesson". As a matter of fact, I had three different options e-mailed to her by Saturday! It's the wrangling 18 third graders wielding paintbrushes that FREAKS ME OUT! So I've done some strategizing and pre-prep. I've secured the conference room that is ever so conveniently right across the hall from their classroom and I've made a rough schedule of TWO (and only 2) at a time to come and have roughly 5 minutes each to get 'finger printed''ll get this at the end of the post! The platter is a 15 inch SQUARE white glazed ceramic piece like this. I'd have shown you the 'before' only I was well into the prep before it dawned on me that it could work as a post topic! Lucky for me I'm in a medical profession because after rushing in and out of Hobby Lobby 15 minutes before it closed tonight, I then read the paint bottle's directions. Platter MUST be thoroughly cleaned with alcohol before applying paint! Took a couple but they did the job. These cool Enamel paints can be used on an already glazed piece! Now it's not going to be dishwasher or microwave safe but it's meant as a display piece, not for use, so I painted away. Not being a painter, brush selection was pretty much limited to these cheapo sponge jobbers. This is how far I had gotten before having the brain storm to use this as a post. A handy, dandy blow dryer sped up the process!! Seeing as how I just started this at 9pm and when all the paint was in place it still needed to be put into a cold oven, brought up to 350 degrees for an hour, and then not removed until the oven was again cold, I didn't have time to let the different colors have time to 'air dry' if I was to get any sleep. Believe me, kids around a sleep deprived me are in jeopardy!! Getting the idea now? I ended up free handing the green continents because the stencil kept leaving marks in the bottom coat of paint that I did not want to show up after the baking. Now, tomorrow, the little angels need only come and dip their thumbs in whatever color "star/planet" they want to be and press it onto 'outer space' then clean their thumbs and return to class.....quickly! Thus I intend for Galaxy 120(their room number..get it???) to be as pain free for me as possible. Seeing as how I am the ONLY adult there to supervise this I'm pretty sure the picture taking will probably not happen...I'll try to multi-task by dipping thumbs with one hand while manning the camera with the other...but no promises! On a humorous note: ...and you thought I was joking when I called icicles "Nature's Popsicles"!!!!! Don't WORRY Auntie Peggy!!! Just keep saying, "Immune systems are built by being challenged!" Deep breath Auntie Peggy, deep breath....I have a fresh inhaler. Oh, and where did Mari get the idea that icicles can give you parasites ??????? Hmmm, just how did that get into her head?

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I have a 12 year old. I have more gray hair today than I did yesterday. I am now the proud owner of a pink cell phone...knew it would happen but just not this FAST! Thought I was keeping up with the challenges of this next generation. NOT! Someday we may sit together and laugh about these things...if she lives that long! Or maybe it's me who's days are numbered? I'm here and so is my Mom so I KNOW it's possible to survive this phase. Then again, I don't recall sitting around with my Mom laughing about this phase.............just my siblings.....hmmmm.....think I'll be calling my Mom tomorrow to formally apologize!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Feast or Famine!

You don't hear from me for days and then I have two posts within hours?!?!? Really this post is for the benefit of my friend Vanessa who could use a good laugh. In an effort to not be rude to my other readers I'll try to include some background. It's been a little over a year now since we were treated to an authentic Louisiana Crab Boil while vacationing with Vanessa in Sarasota(see January 4, 2009 post for pictures of this event). She and Big Lee greeted us after our loooong two days of driving, standing in my Dad's driveway with the boiling pot and food on the ready. We learned how to crack open crabs and which parts NOT to eat thanks to our NOLA friends! Sad to admit but we come from the "avoid all seafood" branch of the mid-west. This is mostly due to our looong distance from the sea resulting in less than stellar seafood offerings during those impressionable childhood years. I am gagging as I type my memory of our Lenten penance food of salmon patties....YUCK!!!! Seafood has improved drastically around here but imprinting is hard to erase!!...............until you sit with your little junior chef and watch the Barefoot Contessa prepare roasted garlic shrimp with cracked pepper. It looked too simple to be true but it also looked veeeeery appetizing. We tried it out as one of our New Year's party knoshing offerings. Big hit!!! So tonight..... they begged for a repeat and many a shrimp has only his tail left to prove he ever lived. Now this is where the inside humor do these qualify as 'real' shrimp Vanessa? Honestly, we ate them with only garlic flavored olive oil and cracked breading involved. See!!! Notice that Mari's popcorn potatoes went first...she eats only one thing at a time and tonight the spuds went first but she did 'clean her plate'! Now I know Vanessa is noting the sauce in the middle of the picture..... Baby steps Vanessa, baby steps! We let go of our breading but we aren't quite ready to ditch the cocktail sauce!!! Who knows, Iron Chef showed some scallops that looked easy too.....

Flurries and Fleece!

I guess one of my New Year's resolutions should have been to become a more reliably consistent blogger! Sorry to have maintained such a long period of silence! Lots of excuses, of course, but as my kids now say, "Whatever!" Hopefully I'll be able to use some of the 'excuses' as the subjects of future posts! Just like the vast majority of the country, we here in the Chicago metropolitan area are experiencing winter weather. UNLIKE, the vast majority of the country, this is pretty much NORMAL for us in January! The snow falls are now coming more often but mercifully coming in manageable amounts. Unlike our delicate southern relatives and friends, who get calls of school closures the night before any actual bad weather arrives, the girls have been off to school every day like clockwork...except for this morning when they got a "late schedule day" in order for the work crews to get the back-to-back snow falls of yesterday and last night cleared. Then off to school it was and there they stay until the dismissal bell frees them for a weekend to frolic in the snow. An idea of how much we've received in the past 24hrs.... or maybe this is a better perspective? Even cold weather grouches, like myself, find a new snowfall not only beautiful but peaceful. You see, the new snow acts as a sound muffler which makes for a much quieter city in the winter....that is until the snow plows come scraping down your street. Most every porch around here sports some sort of snow removal devices! It's a must if you want to even get outside some days as the snow can blow and drift up against your doors during blizzards....for my southern friends and relatives that would be a hurricane that comes in winter! Can you guess how snow climbs up trees?? Dear sun belt residents, this is what the spray of that lovely marvel of modern snow removal looks like! Snow blowers are a MUST have for anyone with any kind of driveway who wants to avoid landing in the cardiac care ward of the local hospital. There is, of course, a certain 'etiquette' to be followed when aiming the exit flume of your snow blower. The sooner it's learned the better relations are with your neighbors!! Plowed streets and parking lots means SCHOOL'S OPEN! Now the slip sliding one does on the slippery film of snow left behind by a snow plow can make for a less than optimal trip to school but nonetheless SCHOOL'S OPEN! This means we have to plow our driveway so the princess delivery vehicle can make it out onto the street! Nice of them to give us a extra two hours this morning to accomplish this feat but usually we are doing this in the dark of the wee hours. Even their afternoon coach needs to be cleared off in anticipation of the dismissal bell. You'd think this cold, wet chore would motivate us to turn our nice two car wide storage building back into a garage...but the motivation doesn't come until it's to cold and snowy to actually act and by the warm weather...there's no more motivation!! The girls have started a 'snow hill' in the hopes that we get enough this winter that they can sled in our own back yard (: For now it has only been named and claimed...Mount Mahoney we claim thee in the name of the United States of please grow up fast so I don't have to chaperon anymore trips to the town's sledding hill! Wait a minute! What am I saying!!!! NO! STOP! ENOUGH ALREADY! UNCLE!!!!!!! I'll drive to the hill. I promise I will if you stop growing right now! Even though schools are open there has been a spate of cancellations of after-school activities. This has left us with some time to get to a long neglected project... Some of you may remember how I used to make blankets for an organization in Guatemala. Well what with the costs involved in shipping to Guatemala and my realization of the organization's less than honest disclosures to it's donors, I had a stash of fleece just waiting to be turned into blankets for another deserving charity! We found such an organization and a local chapter happens to be only a few suburbs away from us! So for the past few snowy nights we've been 'blanketeers' for Project Linus! Working on this with kids the age my children and nieces/nephews now are is a joy! They 'get' the need and they 'get' the technique which makes for many willing hands (: I sew the two long sides by machine to give added strength during laundering and then cut fringe on the ends which the kids knotted into a decorative edge. Grown ups helped too!! Mostly Auntie Peggy was on homework/tutoring duty during the evenings but there was a lull here and there where she got in on the blanket 'bee'. Alyssa was the "Queen Bee" and knotted more than anyone else! This also had a lot to do with the fact that she needed significantly less homework/tutoring time. She also did a lot to help me with the 'prep' phase by being another set of hands to line the two layers up evenly atop each other before I sewed the sides. So here's a shot of the "Blanketeers" with a bunch of the finished blankets. Why is Patrick in this picture, you ask? Because not only do real men eat quiche but they also tie a mean square knot!!! I told you he was a 'keeper'!!!!!! So from oldest to.... youngest, we had a blast staying inside a nice warm house making soft warm blankets for children in need! Iced stalks make for a pretty glimmer of light but I'm of the opinion that the shorter this winter is the better! After last year's marathon of cold and wet it's just gotta be better...right? Because even if Currier and Ives made icicles look romantic, they are nothing more than nature's Popsicles waiting for thirsty sledders to snap off and suck, or icy swords for the young at heart to fence with,or frozen daggers that chill the heart of a beach deprived mid-westerner!!!