Monday, January 31, 2011


It is a NEW week and we started it off celebrating a NEW little cousin's christening!

A NEW little girl who took years of love and many, many, many trips to the medical center to arrive safe and healthy into those adoring arms!

I took MANY pictures with mixed success. 

Ones of the ceremony.

Of the godparents!

Pictures of the princess as she is dressed and comforted.

Doting Aunties....

and techie toddlers.

After loading them onto my computer I noticed one tiny little thing.......there were NONE of my long hoped for and special delivery little girls!!! Ahh, the babies always get all the attention, don't they?

Welcome and God bless little Mary Agnes!!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Me, oh my!

The week isn't quite over and I'm already exhausted! New little cousin being christened tomorrow so I'll have to dig deep in order to finish with a flourish....but I'm dragging tonight.

Besides the hundreds of little mouths I examined this week, I had driving duties to and from school, dance classes, grocery stores, and orthodontist appointments. I had lunches to pack and dinners to make...thank goodness for Thursday's Family Night which gave me one night off because Auntie Peggy handled the cooking by herself!! The laundry room beckoned louder than the sewing room and the driveway required several passes with the shovel this week. Just when the looming weekend gave others the promise of a respite from ones daily chores I had two events that were simply NOT to be brushed off!

Time for the Mom in this house to have her own little play date! As far as play dates go when you get to be my age anyhow.

My sister-in-law/BFF Agnes and I decided to surprise our friend Gina with a lunch date! Gina is housebound recovering from major surgery and sorely needed the conversation and laughs. Helped the mood when dessert appeared....

because Friday also happened to be Agnes' birthday! The three of us Musketeers, with a 22 year age spread, used to spend days and nights together just a few years back as we toiled over dance costumes for insane deadlines. Now we have gone our separate ways and the reunion was long over due. I only wish the two of them lived out in the suburbs so I could 'drop in' more often!!

Guess what those tickets in Julia's pocket mean???

Yes, it was the school carnival today. Had to come home from my play date yesterday to get  a German Chocolate cake made to deliver early this morning for the Cake Walk. Then I had two teens to get there in time to run a game....

because they have service hours to fulfill for confirmation. Andrew is in the home stretch but Mari has another year of volunteering before her confirmation!

He is such a goof-ball!!

Great news is that the school did away with the goldfish game!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Last year's prize is not only still alive but has necessitated the purchase of a TEN gallon tank and filters by the caseload. I'm threatening to donate him to my sister-in-law's Koi pond this spring as he is well over FIVE inches long and eats like a piranha. I'll get a picture up soon of Ditto the mutant goldfish.

Just a quick little closing thought. As I navigated the crowded halls of the grammar school I found the need to use the services of a rest room. The crowded conditions lead me to the plan to avail myself of the first one I encountered...which turned out to be the one located outside the kindergarten room.

After you stop laughing at the thought of me whipping out my camera in a junior sized stall, go ahead and read the directions. I am all in support of water management efforts but can someone please tell me who is the lucky soul who gets to teach this to the 5 year old students not yet reading proficient????

Friday, January 28, 2011


Well, Nora made it our choice so I chose Flashback Friday!! To see what others chose you can go to Nora's site and check them out. Meanwhile, here's my flashback......

We used to go to DisneyWorld......ALOT!! It would be back in the days of film photography. Yes, I'm old. I come across stacks of pictures that I want to scan into the computer but then rarely take the time to actually do just that! There has been this one particularly annoying stack that insists on sliding off the pile and onto the keyboard...just begging for attention! This particular series tells a story.

Once upon a time there were two families who used to spend their vacations together at Disney World. The cousins were very tight! They'd do everything together!!! The year Julia turned 3 years old they happened to be at the mouse's house. Julia had a very favorite character....

So, the two families went to the Crystal Palace character meal where the main man was appearing for the birthday celebration. After a big birthday hug from the Pooh himself the birthday girl was given a special birthday treat....

Much to the chagrin of the BFF/Cousin Deirdre who was used to getting everything Julia got! Notice...Julia was much more enthused by the fact that she had the "real live autograph" from Winnie the Pooh while Deirdre eyed that petite piece of baked goods.

It was just more than a girl could bear!!!!!! Sitting right next to the BFF/Cousin who is supposed to share everything and dare she?!?!? [note the front of the fleece- it was 80 degrees but Julia INSISTED on wearing it so Pooh would "just know how much I love him!] Anyhow, not to worry. The moms stepped in and cut that little bitty birthday cake into halves with Julia's sweet natured blessings and the broken heart was mended and.....

The BFF/Cousins spent all the rest of their birthdays happily ever after!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

So Spoiled?

Picture the following scene...

Large and noisy art room at a grammar school filled with 4 air compressors humming/buzzing/roaring as lines of second graders shift from foot to foot and nervously chat amongst themselves. Trailing from one of the five temporary dental operatories is a particularly boisterous line of children. Two women at the station are talking low and steadily as one dictates to the other the conditions found in the gaping mouth of another child laid out on their exam chair. The woman recording the dictation turns slightly and gently reminds the children that they are still in school and to whisper among themselves rather than the loud conversations they had been holding. As the line of children fall back into order, one little boy hops from foot to foot and grins from ear to ear and leans forward from his line to whisper in an exaggerated manner, "Oh thank so very much dentist ladies!"

Now let me tell you readers, this is so not a normal reaction that it cause me to look up and smile. He was genuinely glowing with happiness! He went on to say, "I am so so so happy for this!" His manner was like a child opening Christmas gifts! You'd think he was about to receive this....

or maybe this....

or these even??? 

But NO he was THRILLED to have been given this.....

Because as he went on to inform us, "My other one got old and broken and we are out of money so I've been brushing like this..." as he goes on to mime using the side of his index finger. Not on a medical mission to I was in a school in a Chicago suburb.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Behind the scenes...

My fellow bloggers can attest to just how much of our lives do not make it into posts! For reasons of every color and stripe ranging from privacy to monotony, there are things I just do not choose to articulate let alone photograph. Today's post will be a study in how to cover a topic near and dear to my heart without breaking any laws or regulations. As a WARNING I must say that there will be disturbing images found below so stop now if you have a squeamish stomach!!!! I  must also state that NEITHER of the photographs are taken by myself or depict an actual patient of mine!!! I Googled them so I could have visual impact to my words. Now I'm thinking that about covers all the necessary disclaimers so here's the post.

It is no secret that I am a dentist. I worked in a private practice when I first graduated from dental school. As the junior associate I was given the privileged of handling all of the after hours emergency calls and the 'honor' of assuming the contract that the practice had with the local jail. Yes, one day a week my waiting room was filled with men in shackles waiting to get a tooth, or two, or three pulled!!! At the time I was grateful for the money but resentful of the limited scope of dental care I was being allowed to perform. Now, more than 20 years later and decidedly wiser, I am beyond grateful for the experience as it took a sheltered suburban brat out of her insular little world and exposed her to the knowledge that life is not absolute...not black OR white...not good OR bad...not right OR wrong...not happy OR sad ...well you get the idea. The inmates taught me about mistakes in judgment due to ignorance not evil. The public aid patients taught me about social injustice and the collateral victims. The phobic patients taught me about the gray part of the emotional spectrum. Then in one of those moments that unexpectedly change your life, I discover that the foster child currently living with my parents was in jeopardy of being expelled from school because neither my Mom or her caseworker could find a dentist in our AFFLUENT county who would accept the public aid card... and therefore she could not get the required dental exam for the school's records! The practice I was working in at the time did take the public aid card but was located 40-50 miles away. My Mom called to ask if I could bring the child with me to work one day and do the required exam so she wouldn't miss any days of school?

The rest, as they say, is history!! I told my Mom to tell the caseworker that if she wanted to gather together all of her clients and bring them all on one day that I would do all the exams. The caseworker told her supervisor. The supervisor called the local health department with whom she had organized a "Back to School" fair which gathered a bunch of services together into one location to help the foster children and working poor of the county. The local health department called me since they were in need of dentists in the 'health' portion of the fair. I went and worked that night at the event and a month later I signed a contract to be an "On call" dentist with the health department. That was 17 years ago! In the intervening years I became a "contract employee" of the health department, got married, tried fertility treatments, left private practice, and adopted two daughters.

Well, that was my longest introduction to date for a post!! To the meat of the matter. My job with the health department involves going into the schools of our county and performing exams on children who's parents have filled out waivers. Everyone who fills out the waiver gets a FREE exam! Based on age, health, income, grant requirements, and a bunch of other factors, some children will qualify for some or one of the other services which include cleanings, sealants, fluoride treatments, and minor dental restorations. I work with a marvelous group of hygienists and assistants who not only perform their professional services but also pack/unpack, set-up/take down, and maintain a van full of portable equipment. I am the Prima Donna. I show up once they are set-up and I leave once all the exams are completed for the day. Some days that means I'm home before lunch and others mean I go back multiple days to the same school. I never really know which it is going to be until the day before I start a school and the office calls with the number of signed waivers?!?!?

Today I saw about 100 of these kind of mouths.....

and about 60 of these kind of mouths!!!

That's right, you read and saw what you read and saw. I saw 160 children's mouths today!! Sadly, almost none were caries free. I come home with a body wearied and a mind numbed by the scope of dental care given and yet NEEDED by the children of my county. I come home to two more children who need my driving, cooking, cleaning, homework assistance, hugging, and kissing skills. I probably won't sleep for tilting at windmills of social and economic injustices....
Is it any wonder that a certain blogger has nothing left but a shallow post about Gorilla Gardening or Lido Beach longing? So much easier to figure out where to get cheap seeds and how best to plant them than finding solutions to  poverty and corporate corruption.......

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Guerrilla Gardening...

coming soon to a lonely patch near you???? January 23rd with temperatures of 15 degrees and falling and I'm talking about gardening! While it may seem kind of early to start promoting a May 1st event I just fell like I should give you time to consider and prepare.....

The goal is to plant as many sunflower plants in abandoned patches of ground or public spaces that could use some floral sunshine as we can in a day! I've just come across this organization called Guerilla Gardeners and I simply loooooove the idea. This is the fifth year they are hosting this event! Last year over 6000 people the world over participated and some of their efforts can be seen here. I will definitely be participating this year!

Many a time I have looked at a neglected exit ramp or median and thought  "How much nicer it could be with  some wildflowers or perennials!" As I read the blog on the Guerrilla Gardeners site, I immediately thought of an exit ramp near my house that is edged by a motley collection of backyard fences that could use a sweep of sunflowers! I'll need the time between now and then to figure out the best time of the day to strike and what variety of sunflowers to plant....too bad hollyhocks take two years to flower as those would be even more perfect for this spot!!

The seed catalogs are out. Can you stock up on seeds and join me in promoting the event? Think I have the germ of an idea to turn this into a 'challenge' with a give-away as a 'reward'. Hmmmm....

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Surely it's not Saturday???

Ha! Thought I was going to falter on my last day of the challenge?!?!? Too close to the finish line to let that happen. Cannot believe that it is already Saturday and that in less than 24 hours we will know if we have to plan a Super Bowl Bash to celebrate a Bears win! Fingers crossed here in this house!!!!!!

Just a quick update on my Etsy Shop...

I have been working on some spring and summer outfits this week. Not quite ready for a photo shoot of the finished products because I want to have a bunch to load at once to improve the 'vibes' on my site.

As excited as I am to be working with some cute children's prints it is even more exciting to know that I can now edit the pictures to add a bit of 'pop' to the site!!!

Just a hint of things to come!!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

FFF- Paz

Paz....the Spanish word for peace. Some may wish to find it between global cultures. Some may wish to find it between political parties. Others hope to find it in their own inner beings.

Us Moms are just happy for their kids to show it for the few seconds it takes to snap a picture!!

Go here to see more FFF posts.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Some of my blogging friends have been putting up posts on Thursdays reflecting on the small things in their lives that make it great. I haven't been joining in. Not because I'm not thankful but because I'm not disciplined enough to keep it up weekly. A personal quirk of mine I know but I don't even start watching TV programs like American Idol or Next Top Model and the like because if I have to miss one episode, and you know that IS going to happen, then I cannot get back 'into' the show for the rest of the season! I respect those with self-discipline.

Today's pictures and post naturally lend themselves to this topic so just for today I'm going to post my thankfulness on Thursday. In the future, it will appear just as randomly as in the past!

My bread recipe makes two loaves. My family takes less than 36 hours to eat two loaves of bread. I'm finding that means I must bake every other evening. Evening? Well that is when I find myself already in the kitchen which has been warmed up by dinner preparations. My recipe calls for a quick roll out with a rolling pin after the first rise. As I turned the dough out onto my counter to roll, I saw this beautiful vignette....

The setting sun streaming in the window and casting lovely contrasts of lights and shadows. In that moment, after the 'quick grab the camera' thought, I started reflecting on many things regarding bread making. I am thankful for the generations of love I feel being reflected back at me in the well floured and aged rolling pin given to me by my Mom after she decided that it would see more use in my hands. I am thankful that I have the option in times of illness, fatigue, and any other number of reasons to make a run to the grocery store for bread. I am thankful for being born in the time and place that I was born. I cannot fathom on a day like yesterday, how my ancestors, without central heat or down outerwear, could milk cows, collect eggs, cook over an open flame let alone make bread daily!! I'm thankful to be born in this time and place where I can enjoy the breads of many cultures. My ancestors ate a daily fare of a quick rise soda variation...ever. My life is better for the rye, challah, pumpernickel, wheat, totillas, and pita breads that stock the shelves of my local store!

I am thankful for the two completely UNIQUE little beings that are my daughters. One who grabs life too seriously and delves through the depths of every emotion while the other avoids the serious moments of life and stays firmly in the shallows of emotion. One who's temperament predicted a tumultuous puberty with all it's identity crisis and peer relation crisis while the other's temperament promises the opposite. One who has a conflicted relationship with her Guatemalan roots and one who...

is not at all conflicted! One wouldn't 'advertise' her origins because it just might lead to questions about adoption and a sense of being too different while the other flaunts her origins and thrives on being different. One would never wear this jersey to any event other than an adoption reunion while the other wants to wear it at least once a week to school!

I'm thankful for our Thursday Family Night. I'm thankful for the time the cousins have together to build their relationships and memories. I'm thankful to have...

Auntie Peggy to share the time together AND share the cooking duties! 

Only two more days to complete my personal challenge to put up a post a day for a week! I did finish an outfit but there isn't enough natural light coming in my windows to get a photo shoot today...and at 13 degrees with a front porch doubling as a skating rink I'm not going to be going to any extraordinary lengths to get pictures today either!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What's Up Wednesday...

Kuddos to the bloggers who successfully complete the 365 Project! Just aiming for a post a day for ONE week seems monumental to me let alone a post/picture EVERY day for a year?!?! But here I am in the midst of the week and I'm still on track...

Still having fun playing with the picture editing program! Psychological analysis would probably reveal that it is an avoidance behavior on my part. So much more gratification can be gleaned playing with picture treatments than the challenges of mastering my camera or designing and sewing products for my Etsy shop, which I'm clearly avoiding.

But the hubby is out facing the challenges of a Chicago driveway in January so I need to bite the bullet and get into that sewing room and set those machines a whirring! Hmmm...wondering if it might be too great of a goal to have tomorrow's post be of a new spring outfit's photo shoot for Etsy??

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday - Games 411

On track to make my goal! 3 down with only 4 more days to go. So today was a work day. Turned out to be a fairly smooth day with no lice and only a couple of gaggers and criers...the joys of a public health care provider! Actually got home earlier than anticipated and fixed a 'real' dinner instead of the proposed left overs. Then homework was wrapped up in a timely manner leaving some quality time for Julia and I to work on an upcoming school project.

I don't know about the rest of you but I really do NOT remember covering barter/trade/free market economies in 4th grade Social Studies! Not exactly sure when I learned these business concepts but it sure wasn't 4th grade. Anyhow, in an effort to present the material in a more hands on, real life manner the teacher has designed a project where by the students make 3 inexpensive and homemade crafts of their choosing. On Thursday they are having a "Market Day". Not sure how the teacher is lesson planning for the disappointed little souls whose 'crafts' are deemed 'less valuable' and/or 'desirable' but then again it is a life lesson that needs to be learned! But I am off on a tangent again...Julia and I have been batting ideas around for a week or two now. We've been discussing price of production issues as well as trade and bartering issues. The biggest concept Julia has grasped and embraced is a diversifying of ones product line as a way to hedge against possible lack of interest or inherent 'value' in her craft offerings.

She made a cute sew-free fleece scarf to appeal to the girls in the class and a Bears pillow to appeal to the boys...though with their win and up coming came with arch rival Green Bay Packers it might appeal to everyone! Both items have a net cost of ZERO!!! 
Pays to have a Mom with a scrap bin the size of a bath tub (:

But her heart and soul have been invested in a 'new' product. She conceived and with very little sewing help from Mom has been working...

very intently...

with the labor of her own two hands....

on a mini-Super Heroes Bag game!!! This one has her complete emotional investment! It will be very difficult for her to actually part with this prototype but I've assured her that the technology is in hand and that more can be made ASAP! Deep in my mother's heart this one has me on the hook too. I want to think it will be a hit...aka desirable, valuable, tradable but what if it isn't?!?!? I seriously did not sign up for this part of parenting! I don't do broken hearts very well. When she sort of danced around the idea that it might not be "cool" I tried my darnedest to play Pollyanna and say, "Well , if no one wants it then you can be GLAD! That means you get to keep it for yourself!!" She kind of raised an eyebrow and said, "But I was kind of thinking we could make a horse one........" Sigh. 4th grade...she's only 10 years old...I not ready for the lesson on bankruptcy and foreclosure!!!!!!!!!!!

Update on Mairead's volleyball championships...

They played well but as expected they landed in second place. Congratulations Mairead!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Home-made Monday

Setting a bar for myself here in writing! I am going to try and post at least once a day this whole week. I've got Sunday and Monday covered. Working on Tuesday might trip me up but surely I could at least squeeze in some time for a picture and caption?!?!? Then a work-free rest of the week should make for smooth sailing.

Not like it was a New Year's resolution or anything, because we all know how treacherous making one of those can be....but I have set a personal goal to work on a few things in my life. Like our budget as it relates to our diet and getting the most value out of the big bucks dropped on my new camera! As I am working on these goals I'm finding that my cooking cooperates with me and my camera better than the girls. The food does not make funny faces or run as soon as they see me heading into my camera bag!!

So this morning I made bread. My family, and Mari in particular, would happily live on bread and water!! The crazy hike in bread prices at the store coupled with their preference for "crunchy bread" made making my own bread a logical choice. Besides, then I can control the amount of salt and sugar in our bread not to mention the complete absence of chemical preservatives! It makes a very well behaved model as well!

I even did a little 'staging'. Bet you're thinking I purposely got that black kitchen towel for the photoshoot? NOT, those are my everyday kitchen towels! I did, however, purposely cut the breakfast slices on the black towel to catch the crumbs. The zoom practice revealed what may be a fatal flaw with my photography goals. I tried a few other bread positions so that I could get down eye-level and have the crumbs in the forefront in focus with the loaves in back softly blurred. I was so excited to get what I thought were successful shots! Then I uploaded them to discover that ancient eyeballs...even with their glasses on...cannot discern fine focus on the camera's bitty 3 X 3 screen!!! All the crumb shots were of blurry crumbs with even blurrier loaves.

So off to the photo editing I went. Had fun...not necessarily a lot of success 'saving' any weak shots but fun with the program's other features! Now, just in case you got the misguided notion that my newly instituted cooking regime was for anything other than our financial health I give you....

our breakfast!

Folks, I'm married to an Irish farm boy. That means bangers and eggs =  a 'real' breakfast! The cereal and porridge that get served on other mornings is simply a nod to the American lifestyle of his wife and be endured but not necessarily enjoyed. Insufferable on the mornings that only toast or Pop Tarts are served!!----Now how about that frame and text?!?!?---- Yep, feeling pretty darn smug that I figured out how to do that WITHOUT once having to call for my personal geek squad...Mari. She was so smarmy in her congratulations..."Such a good job Mommy. I just knew you could do it!" Read high sarcasm and note the unusual use of "Mommy"....she is simply waaaaay to mature to use "Mommy" any more.

Our hard working man went off to work today well fed!

Now I'm off to the salt mine too! Thinking that some restocking of my Etsy site is in order. Been sending funds to Guatemala out of the Florida Vacation account lately. The drive to sit out on Lido Beach again is pushing me to make sure that both accounts get healthier...and if the clothing is as co-operative as the food in helping improve the camera comfort levels then all the better!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sports Shorts Sunday

Our family are not exactly sports fanatics. We enjoy sports. We are better at watching sports than actually playing sports though! This week we put our watching skills to the test TWICE.

First we went off to see Mairead's semi-final volleyball match. Unlike the quarter finals, where her team blew the competition out of the water, this match was a real nail biter.

All three games in the match had this score. Luckily, Mairead's team managed to get to the twenty first two times out of three and moved on to the finals!!! Monday marks the end of her grade school volleyball career and while it would be great to go out as champions, their opponents are undefeated in the league. Fingers crossed.

Guess what football team we were rooting for today?? Peggy and Alyssa came over to help us cheer on Da Bears. Patrick would have loved to join us as football is the only American sport he enjoys but work came first.

Their attention to the Bears domination over the Seahawks, distracted? I really think my girls watch football for the snacks....

Yes, Julia, the camera caught you in action!!

Die hard fans to the end. Yep, those are my girls. Game well in hand and snacks gone...and they are the computer!!!

Chicagoland has already gone beserk! Next week we play our arch-rivals. Green Bay versus Chicago in the semi-finals could not have been scripted better by Hollywood. That will be a game that brings this city to a halt!! Friends, don't come visit Chicago next Sunday afternoon ...or do come and help us cheer on Da Bears!!!!