Friday, February 29, 2008

We'll Take It

After the rollercoaster of sadness and disappointment, it was nice to have a day like yesterday.

Well, not all of it. Princess made me sit in chairs for 45 minutes when all I was there to see Nurse M for is some DUODerm to get me through until Wednesday's appointment. I was quite specific in what I needed, when she told Nurse M why I was there, TOLD HER to grab a couple, but no, she made me sit in chairs-and probably didn't tell anyone I was there.

I suppose it was good that made me late for work, for as I turned out of the hospital parking lot (at a time I would have already been working), I got the call from the realtor. We'll be renting the house. In a few minutes, we're headed over to our bank to get a money order (cheaper than a certified check) and sign the lease. Phew.

Later, when I left the store for my break, I found a message from my contact on the job front. She couldn't find my resume in the system, and asked for my social and the job posting number to locate it. I left her a message with the info and she called back right before I was walking back in the door from break. Not only did she find my resume, she found that I made the first cut for the position. So, out of hundreds, I'm down to dozens. Yay.

The last piece of good news is that Ed's mom has an interview/test on Tuesday. If she passes, she'll be home Wednesday. I guess we're moving just in time...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Punch List

All the things that have to be done before we move:
*Contact the realty to see if we do have the place (cross your fingers-no phone call yet)
*Call movers to price moving the darn heavy armoires and the piano. If there's a minimum time involved, figure out what other pieces they'll move.
*Call TECo, Water, and Verizon to cancel service
*Find out who to call to start electric, water and DSL in Lakeland
*Enroll boys in the new schools. Find out what color polos are dress code(yes, we're going to have dress code now)
*Call State Farm and change from Homeowners to Renters Insurance. Change address with them.
*Get more boxes from work.
*Price Pods and similar type storage to see if it's a better deal than hiring movers.
*Get the Saturn on Craig's List.
*Find a storage facility in Lakeland to store the contents of the garage for a month or so, so that we can use the garage for staging to bring stuff in to the house neatly.
*Find a family practice doctor in Lakeland. Get records transferred from current doctor.
*Change address with the current doctors.
*Change address with bank and credit cards.
*Buy metal racks for garage for staging and storage.
*Empty the freezer of as much food as possible over the next two weeks.

There may be more added, but this is the starting list.

There's a list of things that I have to put off until after the move, I may post that one, lest I forget all that has to be done later!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tagged again

I've been tagged by Project Mommy, and I am nothing if compliant. BTW, she is a great photographer-I love seeing her pictures!

Without further ado, Crazy Eights!

8 Things I’m passionate about

My husband
My kids
Cooking
Wine
Travel
My friends
Writing
Singing


8 Things I want to do before I die

Travel to Europe
Graduate College
Own a House Again
Watch my boys have successful careers
Have a blog with lots of readers!
Travel to Australia
Visit every Disney park
Get my darn leg healed

8 Things I often say
Thank you
Awesome
You Rock
Would you please?
Did I ask you to go to bed? No, I told you!
Get DRESSED!
Go to BED!
owwwwww

8 Books I’ve recently or currently reading

Queen of Babble
Anybody Out There?
The City of Gold and Lead
Ain't Mythbehavin'
When he Tripods Came
The Burnt House
Remember Me?
Setting the Table (in progress)


8 Songs I could listen to over and over (just 8?)

Bohemian Rhapsody Queen
Time and Tide Basia
Take Me As I Am October Project
If You Leave Me Now Chicago
Steppin Out Joe Jackson
It's the End of the World As We Know It R.E.M.
Scenes From an Italian Restaurant Billy Joel
Easter Marillion

8 Things that attract me to my best friends
Love of Music
Sense of Humor
Intelligence
Common Sense
shared values
great conversation
putting up with me!
road trips!

I'm not tagging, but if you like Crazy 8's, feel free to take it along and use it. :)

That was fun!

Moving Right Along

Yep, another trip to Lakeland. We took a look at the house again, asked our questions and then got the application to rent it. Yes, we can paint, add the rent w/option and no, there's no FIOS-but there is DSL.

We completed the application and dropped it off at the realty office. I'd called my boss while we were on our way to let her know she might get a call. She did, less than five minutes after we left the office. Okay. On the application, they wanted to know where we'd lived for the past three years. Well, we have been in the house 35 months, so they want to contact our landlord from the rental while we were building. The lady that the property manager dumped. The lady who left the house a pigsty for us to move in. She moved to Pennsylvania and apparently is in hiding from more than just us-we never got our security deposit back. (Long story and lousy lawyer involved). I wonder what she'll say if they reach her?

I'm waiting for the call back, because we gave them the info and they've verified all but deadbeat landlord from almost three years ago.

There's a list a mile long to tackle, and I'll be posting it later.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Scratching Them Off the List

Last night, Ed got a call back from one of the realtors who managed a property in mom's neighborhood. They set up an appointment for 10am this morning.

What we knew was that it was $100 less a month than the one we looked at the other day, at the cap I'd established for rent. It was smaller than the other house (and the third house up for rent was smaller still). From going to Mom's, we knew that it had been empty for at least six months, possibly a year. The smaller house has been vacant for a couple of months. It is a distinct advantage to look where we are, because we were in there on a regular basis. Heck, most of the neighbors wave when we come in, because they recognize my car.

We meet the realtor in the driveway and before we even walk in the door, she apologizes that we will see a lot of dead roaches. This is not promising and tells me that the house is not getting shown frequently, if at all.

Upon walking in, I like the layout, because it isn't an open floor plan. I didn't realize how much wasted space we have in our home because of the open layout. However, I liked that, I didn't like the extremely run down appearance of the house that is at most, three years old that probably had been occupied for only two of those.

The carpet was worn through in quite a few places, the linoleum had bald patches, the trim around the floors was all bashed to heck. The realtor told us the condition it had been in before-this was an improvement. There was a mural on one wall that required four coats of paint to cover. Another bedroom had blue handprints all over the wall, as if a child dipped their hand in paint and went to town. (My kids would be grounded for life if so much as one hand print went near anything!). She cheerily stated "Well, it's freshly painted."

She also said that the homeowner was undergoing chemotherapy and said she wouldn't be replacing the carpet because it was too expensive. To my mind that is penny wise and pound foolish. Potential renters are going to be turned off by the horrible carpet and you won't be earning rental income. Spend the three grand to redo it and you'll get someone in the house right away-you'll have your money back in three months. Don't spend it, and your house sits vacant for at least six months, losing you six grand.

Both of us felt slimy after visiting that house. They might get a taker at 800 a month, but definitely not at 1000, not in that condition. We thanked the realtor for her time and headed out. After seeing that floor plan, we knew the last house was even smaller and wouldn't work for us-we were wondering where our desks would go in this house.

We decided to go visit Mom since we were over there. On the way, we see the realty that is managing the property that's in a development up the block from the other houses. One turn later, we're in the office and meet the broker/owner. Their property manager isn't on site, but he calls her and hands the phone to Ed.

She has a house 'coming up' that is about a mile away from the one we wanted to see, but after a brief chat, she says she'll call back later. We thank the gentleman for his assistance and continue on to see Mom. As our visit was winding down, the property manager calls back and gives Ed the code for the lockbox on the door to the house we wanted to see. Back up the main drag we go!

I think if we hadn't seen the very first house, we would have said this one would do. It was nice, clean, well maintained. It's a hundred bucks less a month. However, the two smaller bedrooms will barely fit a bed and one dresser. The logistics of where the piano, and computers will go factored in to the layout. The master bedroom will fit half of our dressers (though I could always put the low dressers in the walk in closet. In fact, I think we'll do that no matter where we end up.

Over lunch, we decided that the extra 100 bucks a month is worth it. The kitchen is high end, the house was lived in by the landlord and there is that possible rent with option to buy to consider. Ed will call the owner later to ask if we can look again tomorrow and to ask a few questions. None of them are deal breakers, but we want to see if we can opt into the rent w/option later or have to do it now, if we can paint (already have it for this place) and if we can get FIOS over there.

Honestly, we drove back to look at it again after seeing the skeevy house and when I pulled into the drive, it felt like home. Ed says there's some romance to living right up the block from the family. I think that his mom loves the idea that we'll be there, too.

There's a long punch list to tackle in the next couple of weeks. I'm going to put it here on the blog as a separate entry so that we have an easy to access reference. No paper to lose and Ed can access it when I'm at work. (speaking of which, next week I'm back to 40 hours!)

A big worry about moving out is that I was afraid we'd be moving into a hellhole. Thankfully, for a reasonable amount of money, we can move into a house that is on a par with the one we're leaving behind. It makes this easier to accept.

Monday, February 25, 2008

School choice makes our neighborhood choice

This morning, once Gameboy got on the school bus, we drove once again over to Lakeland. The game plan was to visit the two schools whose attendance area we'd found potential houses. We'd bring Gameboy's IEP and the narrative we wrote to see which school would best be able to meet his needs.

If you're new to my blog, my eldest son has Asperger's Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. He is also diagnosed with a whole host of other issues that make him a complex student to place. Academically, he's 11th/12th grade level. Emotionally, he's a preschooler. Our narrative tells what challenges Gameboy presents, what motivates him and what will trigger the dreaded meltdowns. Forewarned is forearmed, right?

We had to make a decision. Do we go to the school further away or the one that puts us in the family's neighborhood? I said we should try that one first. We pull into the huge parking lot. The campus is immaculate and only two or three students were seen when we were trying to locate the main office. A young man, clearly with Asperger's or OCD sees the adults and says "the office is that way" as he walks past. We almost pass the door and he calls back to us "you need to go in that door!" Shades of Gameboy.

The ladies in this office are pleasant and helpful. We explained why we were there and what we were looking to accomplish. The placement coordinator was in meetings all day. We chatted for a few minutes, with the suggestion that we contact the district coordinator. We were given her phone number and they wished us luck. (I was thinking that I could enjoy dealing with the staff here-the staff at his current middle school does not have any warmth.)

We drive towards downtown and call the number. She answers her phone. Better still, she tells us to come over and she'll look over Gameboy's IEP and give us suggestions. Her office is literally five minutes from where we were.

After a brief misdirection, we arrive at the office and are introduced to the district coordinator. We spent a half an hour with her and were assured that no matter where we go, the county will be able to provide Gameboy with his needed services. Their philosophy is to staff each school to meet a variety of needs, rather than have magnet schools for the various ESE needs.

We've had experiences with both types of programs. I think both of us prefer the magnet approach, but that's because of the learning curve and transition hell we go through in the 'catchall' environment. However, it was comforting to know they'd be able to meet his needs at the two schools we were considering (and apparently, staffers in each school have kids on the spectrum in the family).

It was reassuring to us that we could pick a house to rent based on other factors. Phew. Honestly, we want to live closer to Ed's family. We look at it as time to get back some of what we've given in terms of help. We know that the scale will be tipped heavily towards us doing a lot for them, but if we live in the same neighborhood, they'll be called on to watch the boys after school or if both Ed and I are at work. (That'd really be a first for us. Maybe have some of OUR stress reduced, instead of increased)

Before heading back home, we drove into the neighborhood right up the block from mom's. The other day, we rolled through and only saw 'For Sale' signs, but rent.com and one of the realty websites showed a house over there. We located it and it seems on a par with the three nice ones in the other neighborhood.

Once at home, Ed called the numbers we had for the three houses we haven't seen yet. We have an appointment to see one tomorrow morning-awaiting calls on the other two. I'm reserving judgment, but something is telling me we'll be living in the house we looked at the other day.

One of the bright sides of working retail-an abundance of boxes at your disposal. I asked the receiving manager to save me boxes today, so I'll be in good shape. My coworkers expressed disbelief that I'd move 'so far away', but honestly, I will now have the same commute as the other five managers. Everyone lives 45 minutes from the store.


Our goal is to have a lease signed by Friday with keys in hand. Tomorrow, I'll call Pods. I am wondering if we can load up, have it picked up and then transported over there without it costing an arm and a leg. There are some heavy pieces of furniture to contend with and I'm not thrilled with moving them.

I can say we made progress today. A very big question mark can be erased. For a change, there aren't others to replace it!

Take 397 of "I hate my leg"!

Yep, it's another 3am post. I took a soak in the tub (the lovely garden tub that I'll miss a whole bunch) to get all the yuck and dried skin off my feet. Didn't even touch the RSD/CRPS danger zones on the top of the foot and along the ankle and leg.

That didn't make much difference. I've got the friggin 'waaah waaah waaah' throbbing, stinging pain in the ankle right now. So much for using the soak as a way to calm down and get to sleep.

I'm getting really spoiled by BlogHer. I start posting and they fuel my delusions of being a decent writer by putting me on the front page three times. We amateurs get inflated heads when someone likes the writing enough to give it a bit of exposure.

Today should be interesting. My doctor dictated a letter to my district manager about the shoe situation. In the past two days, my pinkie toes have sprouted blisters from the only shoes that I can wear to work. Today, the big toe got one as well, but this one has some underlying purple as if a nasty bruise is developing.

She's in my store every Monday. I'm wondering how long it will take to get called into her office about the letter (and what Dr. J put in that letter). It's ridiculous that I should be wearing shoes that don't exacerbate the multiple issues and have notes to that effect, but work says No Way, Jose.

Look for updates later...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

Soundtrack Sunday started so that I could be the same, only different. Everyone does theme days: I had to start my own. It's the soundtrack of my life. If you want to do the same on your blog, be my guest, because it's fun to write about the music.

Today, I talk about Broadway, baby. It is difficult to live an hour out of NYC and not be bitten by the Broadway bug. For me, the bug bit me hard when I was ten. I saw my first show for my 10th birthday, Doug Henning's "The Magic Show".

That also was the year that Dr. Wheeler, our music teacher, took a well deserved sabbatical. His replacement, Ms. Maynard, was even more energetic than he had been, and that's saying something. Long story short, because it is a long story, I chose to be in chorus instead of art club.

Ms. Maynard chose songs from "Fiddler on the Roof" as our songs for our Winter Concert. For weeks, we practiced "Sunrise, Sunset", "If I Were a Rich Man" "L'Chaim", "Sabbath Prayer" and several other songs. Something about that music captivated me. I talked about it constantly, with my mom, my dad, my Nana and Papa and anyone who would listed. I don't remember the specific conversations, but gosh, my dad and I would go on and on about the Great White Way.

Mid December arrived, and with it, my Winter Concert. At that concert: both my parents (who had been separated for two years) AND my Nana and Papa. My passion for the music made this elementary school show the must see event of their December. You have to understand, my grandparents really weren't too active in our lives and Mom worked nights. To have all of these adults there was a BIG deal for me.

Christmas came soon afterwards, and my dad had been holding a big secret. On January 13th, he was taking me into New York City to see Zero Mostel in "Fiddler on the Roof" at the Winter Garden Theatre. I was a lucky kid, my second Broadway show less than six months after the first. I don't know who was looking forward to it more, me for seeing what I'd just performed done by professionals, or Dad, who had someone to share in his love of Broadway.

Thursday, January 13, 1977 rolls around. I remember it was a Thursday because the following January 13th was a Friday. We had the infamous ice storm that resulted in Giggles stating she was freezing off a part of the anatomy she didn't possess! I get home from school, Dad comes over dressed in his nice blue suit and I change into my Christmas dress.

We hop the LIRR into Manhattan, then take a cab up to Restaurant Row. I can describe the restaurant, what I ate (and the Creme de Menthe dessert that really had booze in it that I somehow was allowed to have), but the name escapes me. Anticipation was building, I was so excited to finally be seeing the show, to see the man perform live that I'd heard on the soundtrack in the music room at school.

We arrive just before curtain and are ushered to our seats in the middle of the front row of the balcony (my dad was the best!) and I am the only kid in sight. At Magic Show, it was a matinee and there were plenty of kids. No, this time, it was just me and a couple hundred adults.

The curtain rises, the orchestra begins playing and shivers run up and down my spine. I thought that album was good, and it does not even begin to touch the beauty and majesty of seeing it all before you. I was entranced. The first act was a spectacle of color, and a joy to behold.

Intermission came and you know that feeling you get when you've been immersed in a great book? The one where it takes a few seconds to snap back into reality? That was me. We went to the concession stand, I get some raisinettes, we share a soda and I want to hurry back to our seats, because I couldn't wait for the music to begin again.

When it did, it was more of the incredibly sad story and haunting songs from the first act. I found humor in "Do You Love Me?" amidst the sad story of Tevye's family. Zero Mostel was Tevye, you could see the joy and despair all the way up in that balcony. Thelma Lee, his Golde, was a great balance to his larger than life persona.

All too soon, the show was over. I sat in my seat, dazed and numb. It was over. For three hours, I was there in Russia and felt the roller coaster of emotions that Tevye, his wife and daughters played out on the stage.

We made our way down to the coat check and grabbed our coats. Once outside the theatre, Dad turned to the right and we went down an alley next to the theatre. The man at the door asked "Who are you here to see?" and my dad replied "We're guests of Marian McPartland" and we were ushered into this tiny lobby that was bustling with activity. I was confused-who was Marian and what was going on? The man picked up a phone, called someone and said "Marian's guests are here." We were told that it'd be just a minute.

While we waited, I think my dad was enjoying my non stop babbling about the show, the music and how much I'd loved it. He had a smirk and a twinkle in his eyes-but I didn't pick up on it.

In short order, the man said "go up the stairs and you'll be met by someone". We went up some steep, narrow stairs and at the top, we were met by a lady who brought us down a narrow hallway. She and dad talked about Marian-I thought we were going to meet her (she was in my program as the pianist).

Imagine my surprise when we stopped at a door with the name Zero Mostel on it! She knocked and we entered. I was in awe-this is the man who had sung his heart out and made me believe he was Tevye. He asked how I'd enjoyed the show (and I gushed on and on about how much I enjoyed the performance), talked to Dad about Marian and autographed my program. He posed for a picture with me and told me "I'd love to kiss you, but I have a cold. I'd love to run away with you, but I have a cold." It was the huge cherry on top of an amazing evening.

That evening shaped a lot of my life. The pursuit of music classes, joining the drama company in high school and choosing my major of Technical Theatre (degree coming soon). The music captivated me, but the whole production hooked me completely.

To this day, I hear the haunting "Sunrise, Sunset", the lively "L'Chaim", the beautifully simple "Sabbath Prayer" and I am taken back to a winter's night with my father. It was a night that we both enjoyed the best that Broadway had to offer.

How did my Dad know Marian McPartland? How were we guests of hers? My dad delivered her mail. My dad had been delivering her mail for years, and as was typical, he'd chit chat with her fairly regularly. I don't know much about their conversations, I just know that with her being a jazz musician and my dad being a music lover, they had probably talked about music often.

As soon as I'd started raving about "Fiddler", a show Dad knew she was performing piano for, they talked. He mentioned that his daughter was performing the songs from the show in concert. She suggested that we come see the show and made sure he got good seats. She then offered to arrange for us to meet Zero.


It's amazing what a father will do for a daughter who expresses passion for something.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Scrolling Saturdays

Sherman, set the wayback machine for May, 2006, since it is time once again for Scrolling Saturdays!

I am a sucker for People Magazine. It fuels my 'useless trivia queen' status. I don't buy it all the time, but when I do, I read every darn article in the thing! Here's what runs through my brain (and my blog) when I pick up a copy.***



**********************
I admit it, I am a People magazine addict. It's my guilty pleasure-junk food for the brain.

Now that I've perused most of it (it's probably good for an hour's reading time), I ask:


Where is the picture of Tom and Katie's baby? I don't think she really exists-and why did they name her after a Lemur in Disney's Dinosaur?

Do they still produce celebrity Death Match? It'd be kinda funny to see Denise Richards get clobbered by Heather Locklear!

Is Chris Knight marrying the girl who was swooning for him on "The Surreal Life"?

Is Star Jones whatsherface off the View or not? I've only seen this show in doctor's office waiting rooms and found the woman to be unbelievably annoying and full of herself. I thought she was kicked out because Rosie was joining, but People says she *may* be out. LOL

You all know how little tv I actually choose to watch, so I find it weird that this stuff is so fascinating. That said, I'm glad the guy from American Idol got the lead singer job with Fuel-who wants to sing stuff like "A Moment Like This" and sound like they got songs Whitney Houston passed on in the 80s?

Heavy thinking, huh?
*********************

Back to the present day:
I think that Suri isn't Tom's child and was actually born in January 2006. Katie was seldom in public view, had the ever shrinking belly and they say the child can do things that are too far ahead of her peers. Besides, didn't Mimi Rogers dump Tom because he was shooting blanks?

I still think Heather Locklear could whip Denise Richard's butt!

Chris Knight married Adrienne Curry and now they're possibly having a baby. Their show is a train wreck. (Thinking your husband would like a photo album of nude pictures of you with another woman? )

Heck, Star is gone AND Rosie is gone from the View. Still don't watch it, though!

After all the sturm and drang of the past few days, I think a little fluff was needed. And peanut butter. Fluffernutters, anyone?

Seek, then seek some more

Yesterday's travels in Lakeland netted us a total of nine houses that looked promising. Now, we are seeking more information. Ed's on one realty's website, while I'm on rent.com and between the two, we're locating how much the rent is for almost all of the places on our little list.

Ed went to the county website to see if we have to worry about registered sex offenders nearby. It took one place off the list-there's one just six doors down. I followed up when I got home with looking at the National Sex Offender Registry. I don't want to helicopter my kids and say they can't ride their bikes, and while it is not a perfect word, keeping them away from the known deviants is our job as parents.

Beyond that, we're in a holding pattern on finding a place to live until Monday. First thing Monday morning, we're headed to the two middle schools that Gameboy could potentially attend. It's not just a simple matter of looking at the school's report card when you've got a child with multiple issues and isn't a mainstream student.

No, we plan on heading into the two schools with his IEP and our narrative about Gameboy and his issues. The county website lists programs for Autism Spectrum Disorders, including Asperger's. Ultimately, whichever school seems better equipped to educate to his needs will determine where we will live. Phone calls will be made to set up showings after we visit the schools.

I'm trying not to dwell on what we're leaving behind. The house is one thing, the community is another. We've found a great school, scout pack, cooking school, restaurants and more.

For now, I want to trek over here for the cub scout pack. This is just too good an organization to leave behind. Gameboy was about to bridge into the Boy Scout troop that seemed more than willing to accept his issues. We'll be doing some research on that front as well.

A big thing to contend with for me is the doctors. Gameboy just sees his psychiatrist every 6 to 8 weeks now, we can keep up with her in Tampa. (we kind of have to because of the medications he's prescribed.) We can find a new family practice. We like this one, but thankfully, we've been infrequent visitors. It makes sense to keep my various specialists until I find it too much of an inconvenience to travel to them.

The kids are aware of what's going on. Chef is upset at leaving his amazing teacher, but other than that, the idea of being closer to Mema's pool is exciting him. Gameboy is being his usual self-he doesn't care as long as he can play his games.

I joined BlogHer a few months ago, and never got my RSS feed to funnel my posts from here over there (I'm a dummy on that front, admittedly). As a result, the blog there laid empty. The foreclosure story is an important one, so I put it on there. The response warmed my heart. There were some very nice comments that mirrored those of you here (Thank you, by the way).

Somewhere along the way, a Lakeland news feed blog found my story. Between the two and my regular readers, I had 58 hits today and 30 at 2:30 today. I swallowed my embarrassment at the situation I'm in to tell a story that isn't being told. I thought others would want to hear it. The hits tell me I'm right about that.

This doesn't mean my blog is going to become one story, though. Since this is the big deal right now, you'll see many posts about what is going on. (same as always, but hey, this makes my health seems trivial) Eventually, it may be just a post here and there. Those of you who've been with me a long time know that I am seldom down for long.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A day later

It's easier to look at our situation after some sleep. No, not a good night's sleep-let's be honest, RSD killed that a long time ago. It's not going to be easy, but it can be done.

First order of business is finding a place and signing a lease by the 1st. We have to be out by the 13th. The woman at the law office has actually been very nice through all the phone calls back and forth, the mortgage company was willing to be flexible on the date. We have to have everything out, but we have to leave anything that is 'installed' behind.

We'd deleted the builder's grade dishwasher to buy a top of the line Maytag. As long as there is one installed, they'll be okay with it. We need to see if Ed's mom wants an awesome dishwasher to replace her builder's grade one. This also means we'll be leaving behind the over the stove microwave. At first, they were saying we had to leave the fridge, but the builder didn't provide it (and we spent a pile on this one).

Yesterday, we looked at a house in Ed's mom's neighborhood. Today, we continued driving around Lakeland when the boys got out of school. In a repeat of what I did in spring of 2004, we looked at several neighborhoods in the north end of town. There were a handful of houses for sale, more than a few abandoned homes and some communities that the builders began, but stopped construction. In total, in three hours driving around, we found six rental houses.

Phone numbers were written, pictures were taken and the calls will be made in the morning. We still think that the house around the corner is our best option.

The tax refund was deposited today. Originally, I thought it'd pay off the credit cards and fix Ed's Jeep. Now, it'll pay for the move and first month and security deposit. I don't know what we would be doing if we didn't have a refund.

Earlier in the day, we traveled into Tampa for a job fair. It was a bust: five commission based jobs, the Army, National Guard and two schools out of twenty companies present. One semi promising route sales position for a product we've spent our lives enjoying did come up, though.

We left scratching our heads, because all the recruiters would say the same thing: Apply Online. Uhhh, aren't you there to identify suitable candidates? Isn't that why you got that HR degree? Your employer spent how much on the booth and how much to pay you for you to do less than nothing?

The only booth that had lively and engaged people manning it was the booth for Taco Maker. They seemed very happy that we were familiar with them, but probably thought "darn, they know our product, but don't seem interested in working for us!" It ends up that they are opening quite a few locations across central Florida over the next year and I hope it goes well.

It was a productive day, but I still will feel like I'm spinning my wheels until we've signed a lease and started shlepping boxes...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Foreclosure, a personal story

We've all heard about the astronomical numbers of foreclosures currently clogging our courts. All over the US, people are in dire straights and losing their homes. Folks, count us in those numbers. Today, I'm going to tell you our story to put a face on what is happening everywhere.

When we moved to Florida, we had high hopes. We'd live close to my Mom, I'd continue to work for Disney (albeit at WDW instead of the stores) and we'd have nice jobs. We'd be able to pay all but the tiniest portion of our bills with one salary.

Plans changed a little. My regional director was reluctant to lose me to WDW and asked if I would consider staying with the stores. I expected the district manager to be like the three I'd had in the four years I'd been with the company, so I agreed. This changed where we'd look for a home, but not the plans to move.

We sold our townhouse in Maryland with a nice profit. We found a builder we liked in Lakeland, then found that they had a community under construction closer to Tampa, where I'd be working. After paying for moving, we put half of the remainder down on a new construction home with this builder, nearly 1/3 of the cost.

For the next nine months, we rented a house and Ed looked for a job. And looked. And looked some more. This was the big sticking point for us, however, we were able to manage on just my salary. I was NOT happy about this aspect, but I'm not a nagger.

Eventually, the fact that Disney sold the stores and I worked for a district manager who was not an inspiring leader (to put it succinctly, there's a lot more to that story) led me to seek greener pastures elsewhere.

It looked like I'd found the perfect opportunity. A job that combined management and cooking. The compensation package the owners came up with was compelling. The base salary was slightly less than what I was making, but there were many bonuses that had the potential to triple my salary.

At this time, Ed was working for the post office, like he'd done in Maryland. Unlike Maryland, though, his work week was at best, two days, whereas he was working six day weeks before. Basically, what he made covered the day care that was a needed. We paid for a full week because we never knew what days we'd need it.

The new job didn't provide health insurance. I'd thought that wouldn't be a big deal. I was wrong. Gameboy's medications had always been covered by my employer's health insurance plan. Now they were coming out of my pocket, to the tune of $1300 a month. Our mortgage was $1200 a month. I was grossing 3000 a month. Negative financing may exist for the federal government, but for everyday people, deficits are not permissible. Pay bills or medicate my child? I'm a horrible citizen-I'll medicate my child first.

After eight months in a job I loved, I realized that we couldn't exist in this manner. The compensation was based on the sales results of the original location of the business, and it took four years to get it to that level. It'd take me some time to grow the business to the level they required for me to be pull in the three bonuses that totaled about 50 grand. (a side note:I must have made a lot of inroads on that front, because the business runs at a reduced schedule now)

One phone call was all it took for me to return to retail and to health benefits. Okay, this hiccup can be fixed. We refinanced, but we went from a low interest rate to a higher one to roll all the bills into the mortgage.

The new employer did something I've never encountered in all my years of retail management. I was now a manager paid hourly-and I got about 35-40 hours a week. Ed was working for the meal prep kitchen because at least there, he could be out of work in time for the kids to arrive home from school. It was tight.

Then, because Ed took a day off here and there to tend to the family issues in Lakeland (and the fall off of the business after I left, apparently), the hours he was getting dropped off. First he went from five to four days, then two, then one. We were late on the mortgage.

Funny thing about mortgages. When you're late, you aren't allowed to pay a little to at least get something in. No, you have to pay ALL the money you owe. I contemplated cashing in the 20 or so shares I'd had of stock from a previous employer. Ed talked me out of it, saying we'd need it down the road. (now, it's worth 1/4 of what it was back then-I'd take a huge loss if I sold it.)

My health was poor, but I had to focus on trying to work with the pain and keep us insured and some money coming into the house. Ed had found a job as a toll collector. It was supposed to be 40 hours. It was overnights. However, the shift started at 9pm. I work retail, there are nights that he couldn't be there at 9pm. The interviewer told Ed 'No problem, we can work with that', the station managers said "we can't work with this." It was a very tumultuous few months, all for the lovely salary of 7.50 an hour.

All while employed in that job, Ed was looking for something more lucrative. He interviewed with Verizon. He got to the coveted fourth interview and then got the "thanks, but no thanks" letter. He found a temp job in the tech sector he'd left behind in 2001. He'd be replacing an employee who was reentering the military. That lasted three weeks, until the employee decided he didn't want to play in the sand box, after all.

We were still in arrears on the mortgage, because the lender wanted ALL or nothing. I didn't know where it was going to come from. The rumbling in the media was that George W was going to rescue those in danger of foreclosure. The announcement came: if you aren't currently in arrears, we'll protect you. If you're not in arrears, then you're not at risk of foreclosure. Help would not be coming for us.

So, for months, we've been waiting for the ax to fall. We knew it would because the lender wouldn't talk unless a lot of money (that we didn't have) came their way. Short of an unknown rich relative leaving us money or the Prize patrol showing up on our door, there was no money. There would be no happy ending.

The ax fell yesterday.

We have to be out by March 6th. Ed's full time job right now is to pack this place up. We started looking for rentals today. We're a practical lot, considering how much we have to go over to Lakeland, we're looking over there. Rents may be cheaper and there are a lot of older communities.

In fact, we found a house right around the corner from Ed's mom's house. This house is a little more than I'd said we could afford on my 40 hours alone (but I've been getting 25 hours). That is a problem, but probably short term. The homeowner is a realtor and we were upfront about why we're moving. He had answers and names of employers in Lakeland that Ed could try.

It makes a lot of sense to rent the place-it'd ease the stress that led to Ed's mom's stroke. If they're not up to marketing or cooking, or need stuff done, we'd be right there. I think it'd reduce my stress, because I wouldn't be wondering when I'd be called on at 2am to drive 30 miles. If Ed found a job that had hours that overlapped mine, the kids could possibly head over to Mema's.

I'm looking for a new job myself. Something recession proof. They exist in retail, as I've had them before. Something that will give me the 40 hours I am accustomed to getting.

Right now, I'm sad. All the reasons for moving to Florida: WDW, Mom and a house? I don't have a single one of them.

I'm sad, I'm depressed and I'm heartbroken. I'm a former homeowner.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The doctor is in...

Nurse M was under the weather today, so I went to the vascular clinic and saw Dr. J. The last time I saw him, there were two gaping ulcers on my leg that he was worried about. If I recall correctly, he mentioned a hospital stay if they didn't improve soon.

So, today, he got to see the leg at the best it's been since then. The DuoDERM works very well. I have to wear the compression stocking with it nearly 24/7. This is good for the skin regenerating, but not so good for the RSD. You can't have them all, I suppose.

As I hadn't seen Dr. J for a long time, I asked him about the vein graft surgery and whether I was a good candidate. Dr. M (in Hawaii) does well over 100 of these a year with about a 70-80% success rate. He does a few and feels that he cannot do them well-so off to Hawaii he sends patients.

He got a copy of my last Doppler study and I am a good candidate. I have no current clots, no arterial issues and nothing has deteriorated so bad as to prevent the surgery. I asked if I should consider this, as I'm afraid the ulcers will keep happening.

He concurred. Patients like me present a vascular surgeon's worst nightmare. It is a chronic issue that can't be cured-just managed. I'm compliant with treatment, so all is not lost. I got the distinct impression that now is as good a time as any. More ulcers means the leg tissue will atrophy more and eventually rule out the treatment.

His concern is with the RSD/CRPS. Sometimes, when a patient has this procedure, cutting the leg makes the RSD worse. I mentioned the nerve blocks and sympathectomy. He felt it was good that I was already considering that option-though getting them first may not work.

Then I brought up the fact that work is writing me up for wearing the Crocs, despite the multiple doctor's notes. He went off and dictated a letter to my district manager. I can't wait to get my copy of that one. No, it won't be too bad-he's all southern gentleman. He will mention the chronic nature of my condition, the problem with the shoes they insist I wear exacerbating the RSD and that they've been told several times that they are medically necessary.

He asked what crime did the Crocs commit? Apparently, they are too ugly for work.

I got some answers today, and they were all what I needed to hear. My next step is to contact Dr. M in Hawaii and find out what she needs from me and whether she thinks I should get those nerve blocks before hopping a plane.

Only time will tell...

Simple changes net results

It'll be a double post day, I've got a doctor's visit to update.

Those who know me, know I've had issues with my weight for most of my adult life. I was the string bean kid. I could eat anything and everything and not gain an ounce. Alas, that just set me up for poor habits and gaining the freshman fifteen and then some. Oh, I've had periods of time where my weight was acceptable for my height, but the time that it wasn't has been far greater.

I got myself down to a respectable 130 a few times: my wedding the first time around, when the ex left, and until I discovered I was allergic to Nutrasweet. That was the worst, because I just switched from diet soda to regular soda. I gained 50 pounds in 6 months. Then in the move here to Florida, I packed on more weight.

A couple of years ago, though, there was a big change afoot. I started managing a meal prep kitchen. Instead of eating out multiple nights a week, scarfing fast food for one meal a day several times a week and drinking lots of soda and preparing a lot of processed food at home, we now had wholesome food nearly every night.

My clothes started getting smaller. I dropped two sizes, then three. The only thing that had changed was the elimination of fast food and processed junk. I noticed that I started eating a lot less. Even after I left that job, and started eating some more prepared meals, the weight continues to slowly come off. A year later, the pants that I just began to fit in to start the current job are all loose. I mean loose enough that I should go buy more.

What I learned is simple. Today, I'll share it with you (since a couple of people have asked).

1. EAT breakfast! There are two simple reasons for this. Your body is like a locomotive:not enough fuel (food) and it is slow and sluggish. Feed it fuel and it barrels down the track.

Additionally, when you don't eat breakfast, or eat sporadically, you put your body into defense mode. It hoards every calorie you give it, because it doesn't know when you're going to give it more. When you eat breakfast (and small, regular meals), your body has fuel and doesn't feel the need to hold onto whatever comes in.

If you're the person who skips breakfast because you're hungry two hours later, that is what your body is supposed to do! (that's where smaller meals spaced throughout the day comes in)

2. Cut out the preservatives! The less processed stuff I have, the more I've lost. That's not to say that I don't eat junk (I eat candy every day, folks. I can't live without it). The big thing though, is now, instead of a meal from a box, we make the effort to make stuff from scratch. We eat out, but it is hardly ever stuff where you talk to the person in a speaker. The 'fast food' choices now are places like Tijuana Flats, where it's prepared in house from fresh stuff that day.

Seriously, the less high fructose corn syrup, sodium and the unpronounceable ingredients you have in your body, the more your body can burn the calories you give it.

3. Cut out the soda! I'm working on this one. I had the flu a few months ago and it turned me into a Vitamin Water junkie. It was pointed out to me that those have calories, and they do. About half of the comparable size of a soda. What they don't have is phosphorus (causes osteoporosis), high fructose corn syrup (instant fat) and the other chemicals that your body cannot process or turns into formaldehyde (eeeewwwwww). I'm a work in progress, but I notice now that when I drink soda, theres a salty undertaste that makes me thirstier. Hmmmm....

4. Give in to the cravings! If you want cake, eat cake! (however, I tend to make them at home, from scratch now, I can't tell you the last time I had a twinkie). It's better for you to say I want a Twix bar and have it and be done with it, than to deny yourself and end up eating more to compensate.

That's it. That's what's working for me. Some people need more, and yeah, I would love to add exercise and more to that, but for now, with the limitations I have, this works just fine for me.

If you're wondering just how much I've lost, well, I can't exactly tell you. I was slightly over 200 when I started this and now? Around about 155-160. My goal is to get to around 135...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Few Hours with Friends, double dose

Yesterday was awesome. We got to spend a few hours with the Joyce and Tim clan over at WDW.

We started our afternoon in Orlando with a nice lunch, then ventured to Downtown Disney, shopping mecca for Disney freaks like us. Gameboy had a leftover Lego gift card that he'd gotten ages ago, so we made the boys happy by picking stuff out. In a bummer move, though, the've got a huge Indiana Jones display but not one set for sale. Sorry guys, I'd pull that sucker into the stockroom. I guess they're gluttons for torture, hearing "where are the Indy sets?" hundreds of times a day.

Of course, Gameboy finally picks some things, but on the way out the door, he sees the Lego Star Wars Complete for the Nintendo DS and decides he wants that instead. Never mind that:
He's got it for the Wii
He's got it for the Gamecube
He's got it for the computer
He's got Lego Star Wars 1 and Lego Star Wars 2 for the Game Boy Advance
there is a version that he DOES NOT have-therefore, he will obsess until he has it. (and it does LESS than the Wii and Gamecube versions, apparently!)

Okay, this meltdown means that we'll get a phone call, and we did. We head over to Old Key West and get to see their DVC accommodations. I love OKW, the rooms are the biggest of the DVCs (and I've seen rooms in all the DVC resorts except Beach Club Villas). A one bedroom comfortably houses a family of five without everyone being on top of each other. Heck, there were nine of us in that living room and it was plenty of space!

After a while, we decided on dinner (their treat, thanks guys!) and off to Carrabba's we went. Yummy, Carrabba's. Not a dud on the menu, IMO. Service was great, couple of hiccups otherwise (Tim's food was slightly burnt and a wobbly table). Tim cracked me up with his tales of being invited to a family dinner where the food was family style and he didn't get to pick any of the entrees. Hmmm, emperor's new food? 75 bucks and a small amount of spaghetti later, he was hitting the Taco Bell drive through on the way home. (Joyce has a sibling like one of mine, unfortunately. Poor Tim!)

We went back to their room and vegged and yakked and the kids enjoyed playing and watching TV. Seems all our kids ask about the other family all the time, so it's nice when we can get them together. Oh, and if you want the kids to stay five feet from the TV, have a parent lay down in front of it with their feet on the tv cabinet and the kids behind mom's head! (don't tell them I'm 5'3" ish, though!)

At 10pm, we had a school night to contend with and they had a park to conquer the next morning, so we bid our farewells. I'm liking their DVC membership-it guarantees that we'll have them in the same state every year, sometimes twice if they play their points right.

they're talking another visit in July or August. I'm thinking that once they book, we'll get our ducks in a row and plan for a few days over there, too. The kids sure will love it!

Tonight, I finally got my act in gear for girls night out with Jill. We've done these sporadically, but after my moodiness a couple of months ago, we decided that it's important to actually see each other! Dinner was at Cheesecake Factory (mmmm, Cheesecake!).

I did my usual deal of forcing myself to choose one of the three million things I haven't previously tried. The winner was a chicken dish that was chosen for the sides of asparagus and mashed potatoes. They make great smashed, btw. The rest of the dish was primo. I've got two more meals out of that thing, easily.

Conversation ran the gamut: family, games, Disney, travel, work (yuck), health (mine), relationships and such. Time flew and it was good to see her again. No trip to the mall would be complete without a trip to the Disney Store, so we walked off about a bite of our cheesecakes by stopping in.

I escaped empty handed, as I seem to do a lot nowadays. If we'd gone over to Books A Million it would have been a different story. They saw her coming and made sure they had Aristocats merchandise she didn't already possess. I thought my in laws had a lot of Disney stuff. That was before I met Jill.

All in all, two great evenings. Now, who's going to visit tomorrow? :)



***A public service announcement to my friends*** I left Joyce with the impression that I was upset with her because I am not my usual hyper, happy self. I haven't been for a long time now, and I'm afraid it is a long term thing. Damn RSD/CRPS. I'm me, just a subdued me.

Newer friends won't really know the difference, but those who've been in my life for a loooong time will. It's not noticeable on the phone, just when you see my face and you're used to looking at this face.

I suppose the efforts to skip painkillers may not be a smart move. I guess my thoughts that I was good at hiding the pain was incorrect. Ugh...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Odds and ends

Yep, another night where sleep is elusive. CRPS/RSD is just so much fun. Since I'm up, you get some little things that don't quite merit their own posts.

*The DuoDERM-it's making a difference. Slowly. Nurse M's original thought was that the dressing would stay on for up to a week. However, with my itchy skin, I need to change it every 48 hours or so. It stinks when I take it off (but it is odorless when it goes on.) Cross your fingers.

I do need to get more compression stockings, though. I can't use the DuoDERM without one and over time, my supply of the stockings has dwindled. The 20's got runners in them like the weak crap they were. The 30 to 40 graduated are the best for me, but I've only got two of those. When the tax refund comes in next week, off to the medical supply for a pair of the jobsts.

*Giggles got a Pink Nintendo DS for her birthday. Her hubby saw through the 'I need to get him points" stuff when she was playing her son's DS. Now she's trying to figure out how they both can play the same game at the same time as the DS is supposed to do. I'm no help, my kids haven't done that yet. Oh, and I mentioned the awesome Zelda games to her. So far, she's just entered the Pokemon world. Even I like watching the kids play Zelda on the Wii, so I thought it was a good mention.

*Joyce and Tim are in Florida, yay. Either we'll see them later today (kids are off from school) or Thursday. Looking forward to seeing the clan over at WDW, though we won't enter the parks. If their son was just a tad older, I'd say mini golf would be a worthwhile endeavor.

*The Dakar will be run after all. However, it will be strange that the race that's named for its final destination will not even be on the same continent. I'm very happy that the organizers found a way to tell the terrorists that they didn't win.

The Dakar always has been run in the off season for many racing series-this new schedule runs smack dab in the middle of many racing calendars worldwide. How big will the field be?

*Thank you, all of you. I had a record (for me) of 41 hits on Valentine's Day! Now, on that same day, Amalah had well over a thousand comments for her happy announcement. I'd love to be on a par with the lovely Amy, but boy, I'm grateful for the 41 of you who did drop by! :) (and no, I can't pull one of those announcements off, anyway)

*I knocked another thing off my list, by cracking 10,000 posts on the DIS. Come on, it's a message board of Disney freaks, you think I wouldn't post there?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

We're taking a very long walk down memory lane today, I hope you're wearing comfortable shoes!

The beauty of living in the nation's largest television market is that as a kid, I got to see some decent children's programming. Some of what you will see is hopelessly dated, but hey, it was the good stuff at the time.

I mentioned Giggle's yesterday. She was an early bird, getting up at 6:30 in the morning. Not me. However, I can remember many a school morning waking up and finding her plopped in front of the tv, watching the show above. Dig the 70's hairdo on Doug!

Another one that I remember her and Sorta Sister watching is Magic Garden. In fact, Chef Junior earned a Magic Garden nickname as a toddler, he was called the Chuckle Patch. I'll see if I can find a decent video for that, because he laughed just like it.



Carole and Paula never called my name, but I'd watch them just the same. I have to give them major kudos, the songs are stuck in my head 30 years later. Another one is headed your way (two if I find the chuckle patch).

I trotted this one out at work the other day and one person laughed so hard that she nearly had an accident. It's a classic from the always great Sesame Street.



The programming for kids now is so sophisticated. Back then, the programming was simple. However, it had staying power-before I sought out the You Tubes for this entry, I could sing all of these songs for you. I'm wondering how many of the shows my kids watched (except for maybe Bear in the Big Blue House) they'll be able to recall when they're older.

Time for work, so I leave you with this gem...



I'd give you the "Kids are People, Too" from the couldn't miss show, Wonderama. Alas, the versions of it on You Tube are not worth adding here, but the words?

And so we hope
You'll understand
and try to lend a helping hand (ba dah duh dahhhhh)
Kids are people
Kids are people
Kids are people, too
Wakka du, wakka du wakka du!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Giggles!

Today is Giggle's birthday. Since she is so far away, the cake has to just be this virtual one. I know this was your favorite character way back when, so why not a cake with an old friend?
Unlike those dolls of yours, you only get one cake. No Peach Melba, Huckleberry Pie, Blueberry Muffin or any of the rest of those other characters for you!

Now, in honor of her birthday, here are a few little snippets into why I call her Giggles:

In the winter of '78, Mother Nature was pissed at Long Island. Three storms in three weeks dumped over 70 inches of snow, when we normally were cursed with freezing rain. An ice storm was thrown into the fray as well, one that resulted in the power at our house being out for three days.

As a result, we kids ended up staying at an older sister's boyfriends house the next town over. We didn't get to see much of Mom, who was staying at a coworker's house near work. Peggy (the sister) was given Mom's car for a couple of days to get us kids around. It was a late 60's VW Bug. It had no heat (did any of them?)

We were heading from the boyfriends house to meet up with Mom at her job to bring her some clothes and visit. It was cold-around zero. Giggles indignantly pipes up from the backseat "Can you turn on some heat, please? I'm freezing my balls off back here!"

Yeah, at almost 8, she didn't know she didn't have any balls to freeze off!

A few years later, Dad took us two on some 'Southern Exposure' vacations. During the first one, in 1982, she was on a swim team and took her practicing seriously. (I was a recreational swimmer at that point) Being a comptetitive swimmer means you had finals or speedo suits and swim caps. The swim caps usually matched your suit, but not always.

Well, with the olympics coming, somehow, she got this rather garish lycra cap-bright blue, with olympic rings on either side and the five olympic colors as wide stripes down the middle. It sure made it easy to pick her out from the rest of the racers.

The road trips with dad took place on some boring interstates, but Giggles spiced things up: she'd put that cap on and make crazy sounds in the back seat, all while making crazy faces at the passing cars! Dad dubbed her "Captain Banana". The name fit. I'd hear that 'bluhblughbluh BHLUGH" sound out of the backseat and have to control myself before I busted a gut laughing.

Last story, I promise! I chose Giggles to be my maid of honor when I married my first husband. My plans for that wedding were for her to wear pink and the men to wear charcoal gray. I ventured up to NY for us to visit bridal shops to find her bridesmaid gown (I'd found my dress at a department store).

We go into the first bridal shop (and one of the employees notices her sorority letters and is a founder of her college's chapter of that sorority) and she tries on the pink. Something to know here: I've always looked great in pink, thanks to the Irish fair skin. Well, she got the dark Irish/dad's trace american indian olive skin and pink looks bad on her. The first shop is a strikeout.

Plan B: We shop elsewhere for a dress and none of them have anything we agree on. Finally, in desperation, since she's a fashion plate and I am not, I tell her she can pick any dress-let's just get it over with! She asks "ANY dress?" As I am not a shop till I drop clothing shopper, I tell her yes, just let's get this over with.

She picks up this pumpkin orange satin THING and says "I want THIS ONE!" It was a nightmare:
spaghetti straps
shirred top
poofy pumpkin shaped skirt with a butt bow
and the piece de resistance: It was covered in black lace!

Uuuuuuuuuuugggggggggllllllllllyyyyyyyy!

I think we laughed the rest of the afternoon. Fortunately, the next store had the perfect dress. It was teal and three times the price of my dress, but she looked perfect in it. I think we had to have that laugh, though. ( Now you see why I'm happy I only was a bridesmaid once and it was only for Giggles!)

On second thought, I'm not making you that cake, Giggles. I'm finding you that fugly dress!

Happy Birthday!

Scrolling Saturdays

It is Scrolling Saturday again. Today, we go back to December, 2006. Weddings always make me take stock in the relationships in my life, thus this post:

Sometimes, I'm tired of being the glue.

You wonder what that is? It's when you're the only thing keeping something together. When the ex and I still lived in New York, it was basically me being the 'cruise director' and coordinating all the activities our group of friends did and keeping things together. Once I moved to Maryland, it was frequent phone calls back to NY-but the calls were reciprocal. The difference was, my phone bill would be triple or quadruple anyone else's. I was glad for this-it was part of being the glue.

The ex and I split, jobs changed, but through the years, I've picked up friends along the way and lost far too many of them that I wish were still in my life. As much as I hate AOL, I have to thank them for Instant Messenger, because it's how I maintain being the glue with a few friends who I don't even have phone numbers for (paging Dave, Jeff and Russ-this means you!). To an extent, the blog has some glue like properties, because it keeps you all in touch with what's going on in my life. The glue maintains when you call or email to bitch that I haven't updated in a while and I get to find out what's going on in YOUR life.

We attended a wedding yesterday (and I will report about that later when more time allows) that we enjoyed thoroughly. Afterwards, I pondered to Ed whether I'll see the friends much again. As much as I love and care about them, I don't see them much. The phone calls are fewer and fewer and we're all very busy people. In spending time with the couple, it made me happy to share in their day and very sad that I don't get to do this anymore. I explained to Ed that I can't be the glue all the time, and that bothers me.

Ed actually had a positive story to relate when he'd wondered the same thing. We'd attended Joyce and Tim's wedding several years ago. He had thought-will I really see them again? He'd been convinced that the end was near, that there wasn't enough glue to keep it together. I'm happy to report that 8 years later, we're closer than we were back then. Joyce recently gave birth to their third child and in trying not to interfere, I'd stopped myself from calling her (as baby's sleep patterns may not coincide with friend's calling patterns). Once again, we're back on the phone and commiserating about life with small children and being support for one another.

What is it that keeps us friends for 25 plus years? How is it that the person from Babbage's I thought I wouldn't be able to keep in touch with (due to overprotective wife) is the only one I'm still in weekly contact with? How is it that the former boss that drove me crazy is the same person who now calls to have a sounding board for her frustration and as a result, makes me laugh? How is it that the first friend I made at college (on the first day, no less) can spend time with us and it's as if we're back at the Pawnbroker?

By the same token, why is it that I can't keep in touch with people that mean so much to me? There are dear friends who are expecting a child any day, and I haven't been in touch, other than Christmas cards, since their wedding. There are some good friends back in Maryland that I just haven't kept up with-our lives are so similar, but I guess I don't have enough glue for everyone.

Weddings are magical in that they usually cause one to 'take stock'. I've got it pretty darn good, but I want more. Not the material but the intangibles-I want more glue.


**I am sad to report that I didn't have enough glue to keep the relationship together. On the other hand, since I wrote this, some casual friendships have become more. So I guess when you don't have enough glue for one person, another has some for you. :)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Pinewood Derby 2008

Chef Junior's car in this year's Pinewood Derby proved that just like in the real world, a Winnebago cannot get out of it's own way! Dead last in each heat.

this,that and the other thing


Those strawberries and red wine were soooooo good last night. I'm about to bring the laptop into work, so I can upload the pictures. Yes, the store still has my all in one on loan. I'm about to call my DM and ask where our new fax machine is.

Speaking of work, this is the first retailer that I've worked for were all managers aren't guaranteed 40 hours. At Disney, as a full time lead, you were guaranteed 32, but everywhere else, it was 40 plus. The past month and a half have been brutal and I'm getting about 30-32 hours a week. Next week, though, I've got 27 hours. That won't work.

Saw Ed's mom today. She's doing well and expects to be out of rehab soon. I hope it's Monday or Tuesday. I think his sister is pointedly avoiding us-if she visits, it's after she knows we have to be home for the kids. That's okay, and it's just fine if she keeps avoiding the blog too. Something about not wanting to read the tough stuff, I suppose.

With all the trips over to Lakeland, we've been getting home after Chef a few times. He's got a key, but now we think a cell phone might be a good idea, too. I never thought it was an appropriate thing for an 8 year old, but with no land line, it just might be.

Your thoughts...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

But will I like it?

Ed shared this tidbit of news with me a few minutes ago:

Starbucks retraining baristas on Feb. 26

Seattle Times business reporter

Starbucks will close 7,100 stores nationwide for three hours on the evening of Feb. 26 to retrain about 135,000 in-store employees and people who oversee the stores.

"We will have all new standards for how we create the drinks," said spokeswoman Valerie O'Neil. "They will be trained in creating the perfect shot, steaming the milk and all the pieces that come together in a drink."

Some people have speculated that Starbucks will return to manual espresso machines, but O'Neil said the espresso-making equipment will be the same. "It's really about ensuring that the customer experience that we provide is the best that it can be."


My complaint with $tarbuck$ has always been that it tastes burnt. Will this training session change that? If I am craving a jolt of java and the only coffee around is Starbucks, I skip it.


What can I say? Barnie's spoiled me and Indigo took me even further away. Indigo's Indulgence is such a smooth blend in comparison. Besides, Starbucks, in an effort to bolster their market share in Florida, bought all the Barnie's storefronts. Thank God the coffee is still around.

So, heads up if you like Starbucks coffee-you won't be able to get it for three hours.

I think I'll survive! ;)

The simple things mean the most

Happy Valentine's day to all! Yes, I know some of you hate it, some of you think of it as a "Hallmark Holiday", but I'm a sap and have always enjoyed it. It's an excuse to eat candy and spend time with the ones you love.

We've had a tradition for most of the past few years. We have a chocolate fondue after a yummy dinner. Well, I had it in my head that I'd be doing this today. My plans included stopping at the supermarket on the way home for some strawberries, heavy cream and a cake like substance to add to the other stuff already at home and ready for the fondue pot.

I got home and tell Ed that I got stuff for fondue. He tells me he's way ahead of me. He leads me to the fridge, where there are some chocolate covered strawberries chilling, along with some chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels. Yum.

It gets better, he also got a card and a box of Godiva and Chef Junior made sure I had a box of my favorite Valentine's day treat, Conversation hearts.

You can keep your jewelry-I've got better stuff right here!

(Oh, and if you're an Amalah reader, you need to check today's post) Talk about a happy Valentine's day in their house!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

the Fair, food and fun (not neccessarily in that order)

Sunday, after the stressful week we had, we ventured over to the state fair (yes, I am chipping away at that list, thankyouverymuch). I was waiting to write about it until I had pictures to add, but I suppose I can add them tomorrow. I've loaned the all in one to the store temporarily and the Nikon cable is MIA again.

We're veterans of a lot of fairs and carnivals. As a teen, Dad took Giggles and I to the big Kahunas of them all, the World's Fair. Twice. Knoxville in '82 and New Orleans in '84. That '82 World's Fair shirt got this strange kid to pretty much think I was his best friend the next year in HS because we. had. the. same. shirt. from. the. world's. fair. (oy, that was great fun)

In addition to those two major events, we also went to countless festivals, county fairs and the West Virginia State Fair and Maryland State Fair within a week of each other. (West Virginia's was MUCH better-they may be right about that 'almost heaven' thing).

There's a history there-I like fairs. Fortunately, I married a guy who likes them as much as I do. He even avoids the hucksters at those games of misfortune, too. (See? I like them smart!) From the time the boys were babies, we'd go to many fire company carnivals, and county fairs. We never did get to the Maryland State Fair in the 16 years I was a resident. It seemed our county fair got better musical acts, anyway.

With nearly 4 years as Florida residents, I didn't want to skip the state fair like I'd done in the previous state. It is harder to make excuses here, since we live less than 15 minutes from the state fairgrounds and have been over there every year for the Home Show. Why the Home Show and not the State Fair? Wine, my friends, Wine!

I'd driven by the fairgrounds on the way to and from work for the previous two weeks and the midway looked huge from the interstate. Let me tell you, it IS huge when you're traversing it with a walker over dirt, gravel path and electrical cable.

So,anyway, we go through the gate and immediately, we're surrounded by booths selling food. Yummy food. Food that you only find at these types of events. Sno Cones, Corn Dogs, Fried Bratwursts (basically a corn dog on steroids), Pizza on a Stick, and Walking Tacos (a/k/a Frito Pie). Somehow, we didn't blow our money in the first thirty seconds, because we were hungry and it smelled good.

No, we decide to head towards the big building where the Home Shows are held and quickly detour into the Department of Wildlife Management's building. This was right up Chef Jr's alley because there were fish to see and contemplate pilfering to make a nice dinner! Of course, Gameboy was happy to go, too. It's animals-no complaints about seeing animals. The building was full of tanks of fish and had a few representatives of the mammal genus. A bobcat, brown bear and some deer. I was glad the walker has a seat, as the kids like to spend a lot of time deciding how they're going to prepare the fish they'll appropriate ogling the animals.
Once we come out of the building, the smell of yummy stuff finally drives us crazy with hunger. A burger (guess who?) and a couple of corn dogs are purchased. After sitting to consume those, I find a gyro booth and get a delicious greek taco ;) . Chef Jr tries this and decides he really, really likes gyros. Never mind that we've offered them to him dozens of times in the past-I was the only one with food in my hand at that moment, so of course, he had to have it!
Into the big building we went. Unlike other fairs we've attended, instead of being full of crafts, baking or other contests, it was full of vendors. Many of the same vendors that are at the Home Show, even. Alas, no wine. Ed and I discussed the logistics of trying to staff a 10 day fair for an office with 6 wine consultants-it was not a pretty sight. The space that normally would have gone to the lovely wine was instead filled by the Florida Lottery. They had many booths. I guess after paying 10 bucks a head to get in, and blowing 40 bucks on dinner, they think you want to flush some money down the toiletbuy some lottery tickets. Uh, no.

Time to head out to the midway. Today is wrist band day. This means that you pay 25 bucks to ride unlimited rides. Not a bad deal if you get there early in the day, but we got a late start. Besides, the lines were extremely long. We decide to buy one sheet of tickets and do wrist bands at the Strawberry Festival in three weeks. It's more economical and it's equally close to home.

The boys have different tastes in rides. Gameboy loves ferris wheels and isn't afraid of heights or speed. Chef, on the other hand, HATES heights, but loves rides where he can take control. They both love fun houses, so that was their first choice.

Later, they split up, Gameboy wants to go up this big tower with a circular slide. It's a neat departure from the usual slide that he normally goes for. Chef finds a jungle gym type thing with a rope bridge and contained slide. The waits were not too bad, but not something I'd want to endure for long periods (can I tell you I hate my foot? No? Too bad, I hate my foot.)

While up in the tower waiting to come down, Gameboy sees some bumper boats and he HAS to go on. We head over there, and I am impressed that the child who looks for shoes at eye level is able to direct us to the red and blue canopy-there are the boats. Uhhhh, these are kiddie boats-I don't think he'll fit in one of those boats. This is confirmed when a boy about 4 or 5 inches shorter than Chef is wedged into a boat. No way that Gameboy is going to fit.

Another mom tells us she saw big bumper boats down another lane of rides (there were 5 long rows of rides, with 7, yes 7 ferris wheels). We thank her, then head down towards the ferris wheel she said we'd find it near. While walking, Ed and I hear this rather distinct voice "Hey, Ugly." It sounds like the person talking has gargled with Draino AND smoked a carton of camels a day for the past 30 years. "Hey, Fatso, I'm talking to you." I'm thinking there is NO WAY the insult clown that we'd seen at the Frederick County Fair back in Maryland is here. Nuh uh. We walk by without looking, lest he sling insults at us.

We find the bumper boats, just as they're closing briefly for refueling. Fine, this means it's time for funnel cake and elephant ears. We enjoy the cool, evening air and admire all the colorful neon (pictures to follow soon). I think to myself that the fair in February feels an awful lot like the county fair in September back in Maryland. Just a little tiny chill in the air to make you feel alive. This is why we live here-so that we can do this stuff in the winter-and sit in the AC during the summer.

The boys get on the bumper boats, which has a 'no single riders' rule. Fortunately, Gameboy has recognized his own shortfall-he's not good at steering these things. Meanwhile, Chef has all the makings of a race car driver and he is loving being in control of the boat. I envy him, because he is out there and whipping that thing around, while his brother is leaning back and laughing a bunch of genuine laughs.



After they've taken their turn, we've got 3 tickets and I asked Chef if Gameboy can have them. Meanwhile, Ed talks to Gameboy and says why don't you let Mommy have a ride. We walk back down the midway and I try to find a 3 ticket ride that doesn't have a huge line (those darn wrist bands!). This time, we look over at the insult clown and I swear, it IS the one from the Frederick County fair. No joke. If the voice didn't creep me out, I'd go over and ask the guy if that is his fall gig and this is his winter gig (different operators for the two). It's a Small World-a small, creepy world in this case!

I find a ride, we walk out towards the exit and take some pictures of the night scenery. All in all, a nice relaxing afternoon and evening. It was needed.

Now, in three weeks, we can gorge on strawberry shortcakes and maybe see Lotus's husband play guitar with this guy at the Strawberry Festival. Woohoo!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Me Me Me Meeeeeeee

Grandy posted a little meme the other day that I said I'd use, and then Sarah posted another one today. So, today, you get two memes for the price of one...

First, Grandy's:
Name something you do everyday: Read a dozen or so blogs, visit the DIS.

Name 2 things you wish you could learn: knitting and skiing.

Name 3 things that remind you of your childhood: The beach, American Top 40 (listened to it a LOT) and riding a bicycle

4 things you love to eat but rarely do: Prime Rib, Petit Fours, Italian Ices, Hard Rolls

Name 5 things/people that make you feel good: I'm going with things because I'd have to list a dozen people! Opening a new book, a day off spent with my family, a nice long soak in the tub with a book and a glass of wine, spending the day at Epcot, putting on a pair of pants that were tight last month and loose this month.

Now Sarah's,
1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).

2. Open the book to page 123.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the next three sentences.

5. Tag 5 people. Post a comment here once you post the meme to your blog, so I can come see.


Okay, there are six books within arms reach, and another 4 or 5 on the table. I'm going with Queen of Babble in the Big City by Meg Cabot.

"That's the same thing she says to me," I'd said with a sigh.

"Maybe it's hormonal," Luke had suggested. Which, considering all the bio he was taking, was a natural leap.


Okay, I'm not picking five of you-if you want to do either, or both, tag yourself and comment back. Thanks!

Monday, February 11, 2008

500

When I started this thing over two years ago, I never thought about where it would go or what it would become. I heeded a friend's suggestion to write. She'd pointed me towards a blog she had enjoyed reading and got me hooked. "You can do that, you like to write."

I never imagined that I'd have friends in the computer who read it, people I don't even know even! That I'd join other crazy bloggers and promise to write something every day. Or even that I'd have my friends griping that I didn't write often enough for their liking when I would put up a couple of posts a week.

I guess they are getting the last laugh, because it's been over a hundred days since anyone has said "when are you going to write again, anyway?"

Then again, you all might be wishing I shut up! :)

Thanks for reading...I promise there will be many more.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday: The Soundtrack of Work

This week, the joys of working retail and the soundtrack it provides.

Except for a few jobs, I've lived my life working mostly retail management. As a result, I usually do not have control of what gets played while I'm at work. There is the good, the bad, and the ugly associated when corporate wonks make the music choices (because they don't have to hear it, ha ha)

The Good:
Current Job: Right now, they're on a 70's/80's kick in the DMX disc that is sent to the store. For instance, I went in for a floor move this morning and we had great songs:
Sweet Dreams/Euythmics, Who Needs Love Like That?/Erasure, True Colors/Cyndi Lauper, Love Shack/B52's, Our Lips Are Sealed/GoGos, Video Killed the Radio Star/Buggles, Cars/Gary Numan, '65 Love Affair/Paul Davis and tons of other stuff.
Previous Job: The owners had XM for both stores, so it was safe to assume that if I had customers in the kitchen, I controlled the music. On top of that, I made some mixes on the iPod that I'd get requests for. (That was actually GREAT!!!)
Disney: I listened to a laserdisc or DVD all day. For the most part, it was good, with the "Magic Happens" era of 90 minute loops being the best.
Both Restaurants: Fortunately, the demographic that Unos and Outback expected to dine in their restaurants were my age group-so the tunes were all things I enjoyed.

The Bad: Working in a therapy practice. The other girl in the office refused to let anyone change the radio station, in fact, she got downright nasty if she knew I'd been listening to a different station when NO ONE was in the office but me and the owner of the practice! I endured one of those soft rock stations that only played a 50 song playlist over and over. I'd live for the half dozen decent songs and try to tune out the rest.

The Ugly: Working in department stores. Why do they think people want to hear synthesized string versions of Beatles and Neil Diamond songs? I think I spent years tuning the music at work out because it was so horrid.

I'm kind of appreciate that the regional director asked last year when visiting our store what we thought of the music. She described what we had at that time as "funeral dirge worthy." All of the managers in attendance that day said we wanted 70s/80s. Here we are a year later, and that's what we have.

It's cool to go to work and enjoy what I do-and the soundtrack that goes along with my day!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Scrolling Saturdays

I nearly forgot to do my Scrolling Saturday post, but here I am with 8 minutes to spare. (Can you blame me for being a little scattered?).

Once again, I give you Ponderings on the Electoral College. It was originally posted on June 16, 2006, but it seems more fitting in an election year:

I know, you're expecting an update of the busy week that has passed. Instead, we consider the Electoral College. What can I say, a phone conversation last night made me think that we should send the Electoral College to Iraq.

Do you think the wonks in Washington might take what's happening over there seriously if their butts were on the line?

Then we wondered what the admission policies were? How do you get in? Is it a party school?

What kind of degree do you get? I ventured Stupidity (since the college has no real correllation to the popular vote). Ed says one gets a Vestigial degree.

How many years does it take to get a degree from the Electoral College if you only convene once every four years?

(Yes, I am officially out of the loop here....Florida is not a bastion of political awareness, folks)

Paging Cleopatra, Queen of Denial...

I've been holding things in for months now about an issue, but it's time to talk about it. This is something that has been driving Ed and I crazy (and yes, they are my words, but know that Ed's opinion is the same). This is frank, serious and has not one funny thing about it. If you are not a relative or close friend, feel free to skip this one today.

In the time that we've lived in Florida, we've had one damn issue after another. Last week, Ed's mom had a minor stroke. The good news is that she's okay-some minor issues. She spent a week in the hospital and then was transferred to a rehabilitation facility a couple of days ago.

In her 81 years, until she moved to Florida, the last time she spent the night in a hospital was when Ed was born. Since then, she's on day 14 in two years. Again, she's 81 years old-I'd say that's a pretty darn good average-1 day per 3 years?

As with anyone her age, she's got her problems. Arthritis, a little forgetfulness, and she tires easier. She fell a week after moving here and fractured her cheekbone and collarbone. It didn't do any major damage, thank God. She's a strong woman and will do whatever is needed to get OUT of that rehab center.

On the other hand, Ed's sister allows her health issues to conquer her. When Ed's mom went into the hospital, both of us asked how long it would be before she, too was in the damn hospital. You know what? He got the call Friday morning that we KNEW would come-she had called an ambulance. An infection had pushed her diabetes out of control.

I don't have patience or sympathy anymore. If I felt that she was doing something to improve her situation, I would. She has multiple issues that require several specialists. Since moving here, I think the only doctors she has seen are as a direct result of a hospital stay. Oncologist? Rheumatologist? Allergist? Nutritionist? Nephrologist? I'm sorry, meeting a doctor from a hospital bed does not reflect favorably on a patient. It says "I don't care enough about myself to seek treatment for my health until I have no choice in the matter." The doctors are thinking that if you don't give a shit, why should I?

Thanks to the lovely chronic health issues of my own, I can only watch the same shit go down a couple of times before I lose it. If you have something happen to you once or twice, you should then know enough to see the signs of it happening again. Okay, the infection that caused the diabetic shock was new, but how many times do you have to have high sugar and then bottom out before the "A HA" moment arrives? The diabetic body responds to infection in the same manner, whether it is a sinus infection, cellulitis, or bladder infection.

When you have MAJOR health issues, you need to keep on top of things before you earn a ride in an ambulance. If it's too hard for you to remember, then get a notebook, for Pete's sake. Write down what you eat AND when. General health notes. If you're not feeling well, note what you are experiencing.

Then go over it regularly. Look for patterns emerging. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out "If I eat as soon as I get up, I have a good day. If I wait until 2pm, I can't get my ass in gear."

There have been two incidents that I know of where she has gotten behind the wheel of a car that I frankly wonder how she (and Ed's mom) arrived alive. Thanksgiving day, we met for lunch-at 1:30. (We met halfway between the two houses because frankly, it pisses us off that we have to drive over there-it's been almost two years since they've been to our house) She had not eaten all day and bottomed out as soon as we were seated at the table. I ask this-what if we hadn't been seated as soon as we got to the restaurant? What if you'd had to wait an hour for a meal? What if you'd bottomed out twenty minutes sooner?

Last week, there was another one that finally caused Ed to lose it. He was called and asked if he was busy. Why? Because he was told "I need you to come get me kitty litter." For real? The trip there and back costs 14 bucks in gas and the Jeep should not be driven any great distances right now-it needs major work. It came out that she was in the car and having an episode due to low sugar and had pulled over.

The kitty litter was needed since they hadn't been to the supermarket since Ed took his mom on New Year's Day. Since, late September, the only time groceries have made it into their home is because Ed has gone grocery shopping. Before that, the Sunday before Christmas, before that, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Before that, right after Veteran's day, before that, October 30th. (and those of you wondering-yes, that is from memory) If you are too tired to venture out and even do basic errands, get your ass to a doctor and get some help. If you can't perform basic daily tasks, what in the world are you doing booking a cruise? (Yes, I saw the confirmation sitting on the kitchen table)


I'll be blunt, I don't think she'll make it to see 60. My reasons are many:
-Her heart has suffered too much permanent damage and I see no signs of her changing her ways
-Each time she bottoms out, she makes the heart problem and related problems worse
-If any of her vital organs would need to be replaced, no doctor would perform the surgery because of all the trips to the hospital for diabetes related issues that are COMPLETELY CONTROLLABLE.
-Her body would not survive major surgery
-She views the insulin pump as a device that should control her insulin, not as a tool by which SHE controls her insulin
-A trip to the mall or the store taxes her so much that she needs a couple of days to recuperate.
-She's resigned herself to using an electric wheelchair instead of getting excercise that will improve her condition. The less she moves, the worse things get.

Mom's stroke? The doctors say it was brought on completely by stress. Who wouldn't be stressed when each night, they go to bed wondering if they were going to sleep through their ADULT CHILD's congestive heart failure episode and be too late to save her? The lack of sleep and stress would make me forgetful, too. So now, Ed's mom is sitting in the Rehabilitation center, worried that this will happen again. Nice way to spend your convalescence, right?

Call me a bitch, call me mean and horrible, but this is long over due. I love my sister in law and want her to be here for years to come. Something tells me that she thinks it is just too much work to take care of herself. She probably stopped reading as soon as the words got the slightest bit harsh. I cannot sit by and say nothing-that's pretty much telling her that I don't give a shit if she dies.

Jane, If you are still reading this, I applaud you. What's it going to be? Are you going to let your health conquer you, or are you going to pick up the phone in the morning and start making phone calls to the doctors I mentioned? Are you going to make the changes, or are you going to say "it's too hard". Do you want to live to see your nephews graduate high school, get married and have babies of their own?

Do you want to do what you moved here for, to visit Walt Disney World nearly every day? Most importantly, do you love yourself enough to do the hard thing and CHANGE?

We're here to help you, but YOU have to do the hard work...