Monday, March 31, 2008

Scouting Milestones



Tonight, both boys hit some cool milestones with scouting.


Tonight, Chef received his rank of Bear. In addition, thanks to participating in Scouting for Food, he was given a very cool "Good Turn For America" patch. Each year that a boy participates in a community service project, he receives a patch with the year on it. These are designed to circle the Good Turn patch. I like the idea that it encourages the boys to keep performing community service, to keep the years ringing the original patch.

Gameboy received his Arrow of Light. Last month, he was called up on stage with the fellow Webelo 2's-but didn't get his award. He kept his composure throughout the ceremony, but asked me why he didn't get his arrow once we were back to our seats.

Ed and I were very upset by the oversight, and that truly is what it was. The next week, our Assistant Cub Master apologized to Ed and said that Gameboy would have his own moment at this month's pack meeting. Gameboy was beaming when he was called up on stage to receive his arrow and patch tonight.

The arrow is very cool. It has an personalized ribbon with his name, pack and date of award and a tag with the story of the Arrow. The Arrow of Light patch is the only patch that can be worn all through scouting, even as an adult leader.

The Assistant Cub Master is also involved in our Boy Scout Troop. He took great pride in announcing that in less than one month into Gameboy's tenure with the Troop, he has *already* earned his first rank, that of Scout. Tomorrow night, he receives that patch at their Troop meeting.

After the meeting, I thanked the Cub Master for recognizing Gameboy. He really fulfilled the requirements with the old pack and technically (due to his age) was a 'visitor' with this pack. However, these are good leaders and it is a well run pack-they made sure he was given his moment to shine. It was so cool to see all the people coming up to congratulate him after the meeting!

She apologized for the oversight (record keeping at the old pack was abysmal, so Council didn't have anything on file for Gameboy). I told her that even though it was a negative, it was also a positive.

The old Gameboy would have thrown a tantrum on stage last month. Instead, he waited and calmly asked what happened when the time was right. I was upset by his sadness but proud of his composure at the same time. He has learned so much in two years of scouting that we had not seen in the years of dealing with Asperger's.

We also spoke with the Assistant Cub Master and one of the Assistant Troop Leaders. They both have said Gameboy, despite his issues, is the least of their worries in the Troop. He's focused and *wants* to be there, which apparently not all the boys do at this age. They enjoy having Gameboy there and tell us that he's easy to redirect when he goes OCD on them.

There was a time when I doubted that he'd keep interest for more than a few weeks-this was his brother's idea. Now, I think he can achieve whatever he sets his mind to, even becoming an Eagle. (However, I do realize that Ed and I have to plant the seed for that now to give him time to think of a project that he can successfully implement). With the adult support of this troop, if he wants it, it will happen.

So tonight was probably even more poignant to us: he was recognized for his efforts. This pack drove home why we will drive to participate with them.

(Somebody get me a tissue, I'm a little verklempt)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

I'm taking it easy today because I need a soak in the tub for my stupid leg. Today, I give you my iPod top 25 playlist. It shows you how eclectic my taste is-and that in the couple of weeks that Gameboy borrowed my iPod, he played some stuff A LOT!

Any questions about the who, what or why (lol), feel free to leave a comment!

The Top 25 in Suzanne's iPod (nowhere close to the top 25 in Ed's iPod, that's for sure)

Take Me As I Am
- October Project **the band that was Sony's diamond and they blew it

Whip It - Devo ** Hadn't realized I play this that much!

Over the Rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole **What a great Hawaiian musician

You're Pitiful - "Weird Al" Yankovic ** MUCH better than the original! :)

If You Leave Me Now - Chicago **this song will always remind me of Dad driving us home on the NY Thruway from our failed first family vacation

Longer
- Dan Fogelberg ** His songs captivate me with their simple elegance and harmonies

Life in a Northern Town
- Dream Academy **David Gilmour produced this group-wonder what happened to them?

Video Killed the Radio Star
- Buggles ** I had the album long before MTV used it as their first song

What I Like About You - Romantics **How can you not get caught up in this song?

Time And Tide
- Basia **her first US hit, though most people still don't know her

Steppin Out - Joe Jackson **I made this the ring tone in my phone, first song I learned how to cue up a record, Lisa's Sweet 16

Falling Farther In
- October Project **I'm a sucker for their harmonies

I Wanna Be a Lifeguard
- Blotto ** My song for the 80's

Leader of the Band - Dan Fogelberg **What a valentine for his dad!

Little Goodbyes - SheDaisy **Catchy

What Do All the People Know - Monroes **Yet another "Who DOES this?" song.

Fun in the Sun - Steve Harwell **solo effort that proves that he IS Smashmouth

Two Hundred
- Tommy Williams **High school classmate who recorded his own rock album

TronAction
(original version) -Tron soundtrack (hmmm, why is this here?)

Magic Landings
- Tron soundtrack (three guesses and the first two don't count)

Water, Music and TronAction
- Tron soundtrack (someone like Tron just a little bit?)

The Cantina Band - Star Wars Soundtrack (yep, someone's borrowed my iPod)

Somebody to Love - Ella Enchanted Sountrack - Anne Hathaway **I like this version

It's the End of the World (As We Know it)
- R.E.M. **Great Album!

Aquarium - Sant Saens "Carnival of the Animals" **Wow, only 1 of the top 25 was classical-I'm kind of shocked

Seems like the top 25 is stacked with more 80's than I realized. It should be interesting to revisit this down the road and do an A/B comparison of the list.

What's on your top 25?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Ones Left Behind

The ones left behind

We took Bill out for his birthday last night. While it was a nice meal out, it left me sad.


The kids adore Grandpa Bill, and enjoy going over there. He is always quite happy to see Chef, his little buddy. Those joyous greetings make me feel guilty that we don’t bring them to see him more frequently.

Right after Mom passed away, he talked of moving back to New York. He really has no ties down here and if had his way, they never would have moved to Florida full time. I know why she did it-to escape my squabbling siblings who lived to bleed her bank account dry. She sold the house, in a way to prevent Scorpio (need a better name), the champion freeloader from thinking she could live in the house rent free while Mom and Bill were in Florida.

Mom left some mysteries in the wake of her death. She sold the house and by Bill’s accounts, should have had a decent amount of money in the bank. If she did, he never uncovered it. I think that Scorpio (who had authorized user status on most of Mom’s credit cards) charged those cards up to the limit several times. I know that Mom sent checks to Scorpio’s landlord on several occasions to keep her from being evicted from her apartment.

After she died, Bill and I sent letters to all of her creditors and banks. Most of them just closed the accounts, some sent condolence letters. Citibank, however, was the least helpful of the bunch. She had a line of credit with them, like a checking account. It was multi leveled, and she had $1100.00 in it upon her passing. The line of credit had a balance of $2500 or so. My Mom was a savvy woman financially. She’d put life insurance on the accounts: in the event that she’d passed, the accounts would be absolved.

However, Citibank has chosen to ignore the letters and phone calls from Bill. They still
send him a statement each month. They continue to deduct 9.50 a month because the account is below the minimum they require for ‘free’ checking. Meanwhile, that $1100 is now $450 or so. Each time he calls to say she is deceased, please close it and send him the remaining balance, they play dumb.

To me, it’s a cautionary tale. Mom was worried how Bill would react to her spending her own money. They kept separate accounts, paid bills separately. The house was the first thing that was purchased with both their names on it. Mom expected to live the long life her mother and grandmother had. (Great Grandma live until she was in her 90’s, my Nana lived into her 80’s). She thought she had plenty of time to get her affairs in order.

She and I had talked about wills versus living trusts, and we both agreed that the living trust is the smart way to go. One’s assets are not tied up in probate and if she had to go into a nursing home, a living trust would prevent her home being signed over to them. Leaving her assets behind for her family.

Alas, she never got around to it. Instead, Bill has fared better and worse than I thought he would. He no longer has a loving wife nagging him to take care of his health. He does it on his own now. He has a palpable sadness. I think he thought he’d go first, too. He’s managing, but he lives somewhere he didn’t want to live without the person he wanted to be with.

He’s a smart man. I think one of these days, he and I need to go over the important stuff, so that there aren’t any surprises for my stepsister when he does pass.

It’s tough-no one wants to admit to their own mortality, but we have to. Ed and I have never made wills (or living trusts, which make so much more sense for us). We have never approached anyone about guardianship of the boys, mainly because I don’t want to burden anyone with the care of Gameboy. The way I see it, it’s not a simple matter of asking someone to care for him until he’s an adult-quite possibly, he’ll be in other people’s care his entire life.

Who knew that one dinner would bring on so much heavy thought?

Scrolling Saturday

It's Saturday, and time once again to step into the wayback machine, to a time where Suzanne only had 6 daily readers. (BTW, those numbers are creeping up. I've had 50 hits in a day, but I'm planted solidly in the 30 something range of daily readers. Thank you)

This post is from March of last year. Revisiting this makes me take stock. I'm still drinking too much soda, but not as much as I did last March. Thanks to a bout with the flu in November, I'm addicted to vitamin water.

The weight has stayed off for close to two years now. I'm not sure exactly what I weigh, since Dr J's office hasn't bothered to weigh me in a while, but even the pants that were tight this time last year are loose now. I take that as a good sign.


_______________________________________________________________________________________________
Weight has been an issue for me my whole adult life. As a youngster, I was the stringbean who could eat anything and everything. It didn't set me up with the best eating habits. Once I started college, I gained that freshman 15 and eventually the sophmore 15 because I wasn't constantly at the Rec with my dad, swimming while he worked out.

When I moved to Maryland, eating became something of a solace and I quickly mushroomed to a size 16. For a long time, I yo-yoed, losing weight to get into my wedding dress and then back up again. My dad at one point made the statement "If you're eating so much, you've got to ask yourself, what's eating you?" At the time, probably the abusive relationship that I didn't see as one.

The ex left, and suprise, I lost 40 pounds in two months thanks to the anxiety diet. For the most part, other than the pregnancies, I hovered around a size 8 or size 10. When I started working for Disney, I was a size 8 and nursing younger son. Once I stopped nursing, I resumed drinking the diet sodas and kept the weight off. Then I found out I was allergic to nutrasweet. It explained the 4 or 5 migraines that I was getting each week.

Instead of just cutting out soda, I switched from diet to regular and gained 50 pounds in six months. When we moved to Florida, the stress from Ed not working that I bottled up added another 20-25 pounds. I didn't (and don't) like being the only one with a full time job-the lack of a safety net and savings account stresses me out, and I'm a stress eater.

When I started managing the meal prep place, and interesting change came about. I wasn't eating out, wasn't eating fast food and at home, we were eating healthier foods. The nearly 60 hour weeks running my butt around all day and only eating the meals I made without all the crap added to it contributed to me losing weight. The recent health issues and RSD have also contributed to the weight loss, despite what everyone's told me about the various RSD meds.


The appetite has gotten much smaller along the way, a byproduct of managing the meal prep place. Look at Ed's plate and mine, and I'm probably eating a child size portion. I'm respecting that-all I've done is reduce the portion size of what I eat, not neccessarily what I eat, and the weight is coming off.

The downfall of my life has always been the soda. I love it, I'll drink it all day long. If I could consume Fresca nonstop, I surely would. It's made with nutrasweet, meaning I can't have it. I loved the taste and it didn't have all those nasty calories.

I made a promise to myself that March 1st, I'd cut back to one soda a day. It wasn't going to be easy-as I said, I love the stuff. I'm now 15 days in and I'm finding it's easier than I thought it would be. On the camping trip, we had only soda and kool aid to drink. We had a gallon jug of water, but it was room temp (I want water that's ice cold). Sooo, I drank soda and wasn't satisfied by it. Sunday, we got home and I proceeded to have tons of ice water to make up for it. Craved it, even.

To further help me along, the coke machine at work had a surprising change-the cans went from 50 to 75 cents while I was off. That was a sign that I should get a cup from the water cooler instead.

It'll be interesting to see what happens when I can add exercise to the mix, but the changes have been noticeable. First the diet, now the water. Gimme some water, man, I'm thirsty.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Someone else who isn't enamored of Oprah

This morning, the radio had some interesting listening. Skip Mehaffie interviewed LO, short for "Living Oprah." A woman has decided that she will spend one year doing whatever Oprah says is important. She will buy stuff, obey O's life rules, prepare food according to whatever Oprah dictates, read all the books club selections, etc. She is blogging about the experience here.

I have a confession to make: I am NOT a fan of Oprah. I don't know what it is: the carnival barker shouting, as if her audience were clueless shmoes (hmmmmm), the show contents, or the fact that she seems to be overly fond of Scientology weirdos. Maybe it's something else. All I know is that in the past ten years, I may have caught a total of ten minutes of her show. It does not appeal to me.

Part of me suspects that everyone seems to revere the woman as if she's a god and knows everything. I consider myself to be a savvy individual-I don't need someone else to tell my how to run my life. I also have issue with Dr. Phil for similar reasons. (aka Oprah's monster, lol)

Lo's experiment is fascinating. She wants to see if 'living Oprah' makes her life better, improves her relationships and makes her more successful. So far, she says she's seriously stressed but people tell her she looks good. (why am I hearing Nando saying 'it is far better to look good than to feel good, darling, and you. look. mahvelous!'?)

To hear LO tell it this morning, Oprah's guidelines are costing her a lot of money. She bought new clothes, which make her feel like a clown. Then book club selections and the workbooks that go along with them. She signed a diet contract that had her throwing out things in her pantry and buying things that fit in to the diet. (Meanwhile, part of that contract was 'no sugar' and the next day, O was eating ice cream on her show-do as I say, not as I do?)

I plan to look a little more later, but boy, it was funny as heck to drive in to work today and hear someone be snarky on Oprah. LO impressed me in that she says Oprah is not the greatest thing since sliced bread. LO, I agree 100% and I think we're a minority.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Searching

Whenever we move, things aren't unpacked fast enough for my liking. For weeks/months/years, we're always looking for stuff. "Honey, where's my beard trimmer?" (dunno, one of the boxes that says 'bathroom' maybe?), "Where's the thermometer/motrin?" (again, a box that says bathroom?) "Where's the coffee pot?" (that I found pretty quickly.) Heck, this move I found stuff that had been missing since the last move in 2005!

The search goes on to things outside the house. A new city means we have to find:
*A new butcher. The old one is by Chef's cooking school, but isn't convenient on a daily basis. Yes, I am spoiled, the supermarkets don't do it nearly as well.
*A new farm stand. Boy, how I'll miss the one that was right by our house. These are plentiful here, but finding good ones take a little work.
*A good pizza joint. A decent prospect has been tendered, now we need to check it out. If we want Cali crust or Chicago style, I suspect we'll still travel to Brandon.
*WiFi places. So far, I've only found Panera. (someone should have a web page for this!)
*Good mom and pop businesses to patronize (like a jeweler to fix my engagement ring)
*A dentist. We never bothered to find one in the old place.
*A Family practice. For now, we'll keep the old one. I like them a lot.


We've been fortunate, we scored a good homestyle restaurant before we'd even had the chance to sleep in the new place. There's a place in downtown Lakeland that looks like it's been there for eons. Harry's, right on Main Street. It's cozy, homey and reasonably priced.

The pecan pie is to die for and everything else? Well, it didn't come from a microwave. The burgers are fresh made, the pork loin and meatloaf we had recently was just like Mom's. They make sweet tea non stop (yum) and I am looking forward to trying breakfast.

I'll deal with having to search for things when I know that after all that searching, I've got someplace to get a damn good meal.


This is what comes of the searches I like to do. I'm going to enjoy this part of moving...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Company!

We had our first visitors this evening, our friend Bob and his son. They're soon to be Florida transplants and as they've done for several school breaks the past two years, they loaded up a van and brought stuff to their house down here.

Of course, those who know me well knows this means I'm dying to cook some food for them! Fortunately, they were happy to accept the dinner invitation. :) Bob's son is the same age as Gameboy and is equally game crazed as both of mine. This works out well-the adults get to hang out and the kids get to hang as well.

I got to prep off and on all day. I subscribe to my mom's entertaining philosophy-cook far more than you need and you'll have yummy leftovers to enjoy later on. My original plans were for london broil and the rosemary roasted potatoes, but Ed mentioned that I should make a lasagna. What the heck? I'll make it all, and some homemade brownies for dessert.

It was great to hang out on the lanai and shoot the breeze. Bob got to meet the 'neighbors', too. The kids played various games while we talked. Then we ate and Ed proclaimed tonight's lasagna the best I've ever made. (if you can get the frozen pasta sheets, do it! It makes preparing lasagna a breeze).

Tonight just makes us wistful for Bob and family to be here sooner and happy that we live closer to Jill. We love having people over. I get the cooking urge satisfied and we all enjoy seeing people other than each other. I'm just hoping this move brings more of what we left behind in Maryland-dinner guests on a regular basis.

So, Jill, when are you coming for dinner? :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Treasure Trove a/k/a the Old Computer

Once upon a time, Ed and I shared a computer. Well, before that, we each had our own computer, but mine was a 486 and was purchased right after the ex and I split up. We shared pretty nicely, that is, if you call me hovering over him, vulture like, as being nice. It's hard sharing when you've got two tech nerds in the house. (Jill and her sweetie have it right-they each have laptops and myriad towers between them).

Just over three years ago, I had a vein stripping to minimize the pain in my stupid leg (trademark pending-anyone want to front me the trademark application fee?). I spent a week at home recovering and followed Dr. J's orders to keep my leg propped up. Sometime during that convalescence, I got the bright idea that I would get myself a laptop. One was ordered from Staples and arrived the day that I returned to work.

Since then, I've hardly used Ed's machine. I think we both like it this way, though he's envisioning building himself a bigger and faster machine. He's good at that, having built several already. Every once in a while, he uses my machine, but it's probably best that we each have our own toy. Nevermind that he wants to build a new machine and I want a Mac Air.

Anyway, since we're hardwired to this cable modem at the moment and my laptop is missing one file to recognize the hardwiring, I'm back on Ed's machine. Back to being a vulture.

It's hard not having my links, my passwords, my...stuff. It's like going out on a blind date when you've been married for years. It's weird. I've got stuff uploaded on my machine that I want to use in the blog, but it'll have to wait. I don't want to retype the stuff (like the story about the new schools).

However, I went looking at pictures on here the other day and found the treasure trove. All the pictures that were taken since I got my camera (for Christmas 2002) until I got the laptop. Pictures of little boys, snow and WDW trips. Pictures of neighbors we moved away from, of a wedding in NY and meeting YaYa sisters. First days of school. Kids who have all their baby teeth. Eating at favorite restaurants. Pictures of mom, of mom's old community and the new house before she and Bill moved in.

It's pretty darn cool, and I'll share some of my favorites today. Come, take a look through my treasures...
The first picture taken with my digital. Notice the snow out the window. Yes, it's pretty, but I don't miss it!

Me and a cute kid, January 2003 (he's 3 1/2 here)

Gameboy with Granny, February 2003. This was the infamous 'blizzard trip' that cemented our plans to move to Florida.

The boys with "Donna Duck" at WDW that same trip. (Donna, I am NOT taking this picture down!)

The day this was taken, 36" of snow was deposited on our front yard in Maryland.

Taken on a solo WDW in May 2003. My favorite show, IllumiNations.

Two Goofs, August 2003. A fellow CM let me have her hotel reservation for the Downtown Disney Marriott for 20.03 a night. Score! It was a great trip.

If I hadn't cut Chef's head off, this would have been our Christmas card picture that year. Instead, it was the one with the cheesy grins.

That takes you through one year and me through 1100 pictures. Thanks for letting me hijack the PC, honey.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter, the new home and assorted stuff

I had every intention of participating in Lotus's Birthing Carnival today, but I'm sorta lazy and don't feel like typing up TWO stories today. Maybe tomorrow.

Instead, you get some pictures!


Here's one of the 'neighbors' behind our house. I suppose I can invite him to dinner since we're having chicken tonight.


Channeling Magnum, PI. Chef Jr. had his first school dance Friday night. He insisted that he pose near the rosemary bush. (I'm thinking I need to get him a haircut before school pictures on Thursday)







Last year, someone on the boards I participate in mentioned using a Star Wars egg coloring kit. I knew if I found it, I would buy it for the boys. I did, and they loved the idea. They had lots of fun choosing which sleeves they'd use and coloring. This is one of those things where I get to have the fun and they go wander off.

Gameboy wanted to dye his Darth Vader egg black, so I had several rounds with the different colors and it ended up a deep indigo with some tie dye like effects. Pretty cool. The look on my fingers wasn't as attractive, though! Perhaps I should head back over to Chez Target and see if they've got any of those kits left on clearance. (and use gloves next year)

Our original plans for yesterday were to avoid any drama of recent holidays and go to Aquatica, Sea World's new water park. Alas, when we woke up, it was raining. We canceled those plans. We will probably go the next Sunday I've got off.

Instead, we vegged around the house and had pancakes for lunch, then went to see Spiderwick Chronicles and had fondue for dinner. It was a nice, low key day.

Off to do some more unpacking. What fun...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

I've known what I wanted to write today for a while, but the words aren't flowing. I'll muddle through this and hope you can forgive that the prose doesn't quite match the feeling.

As a kid, I was blessed with a 'second family'. Dick and Marcella lived around the corner, and they were the adults who adored the neighborhood kids, especially me and Kathi. We eventually began attending Mass with them nearly every Sunday.

The highlight of attending church for me was the music. To this day, I hear certain songs and they bring back memories of sitting in the crying room at Sacred Heart with Dick, Marcella and my 'sorta sister', their daughter Mary. Songs that convey so much feeling in their simplicity. "Eagle's Wings", "I Will Raise Him Up" and "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring".

I'm not a church goer, but I consider myself spiritual. I feel that music is how I relate to my faith best.

In high school, I was blessed once again-with an amazing choir director. We had our own "Mr. Holland" in S. Talbot Thayer. He had a passion for the music and you couldn't help but feel the same way about the music and about being in that choir room. There are several posts in my future about that part of my life, today's is just a small portion of it.

We did two concerts each year, one in the Winter and one in the Spring. Many of the songs in our repertoire were sacred in nature, as they were masterpieces. Each spring, we did a major choral masterwork, and most of them related to Easter. In 9th grade, we were invited to participate with the high school's performance of Schubert's "Mass In G". To this day, I hear Mister Mister's "Kyrie" and know that they've mangled the translation of the words.

For the two following years, we performed another sacred piece, along with many other songs of faith. (Senior year was Carmina Burana, which contained profane songs! in several languages, even). It was a great foundation in classical music, but more importantly, a way to enjoy expressions of faith when you're not inclined to attend church.

We performed segments of Handel's Messiah, and as Rich commented several months back, the "Halleluiah Chorus" is really part of the Easter portion, not Christmas.

I could go on and on about the specific pieces and their history, composers, musical style, but that would just serve to bore those of you who aren't as enamored of choral music (now if you are, feel free to email me and we can discuss further). But there is one piece that to this day, brings tears to my eyes for the power of the message. One that is so appropriate for Easter.

We closed each Spring concert and choir event by forming a ring and holding hands, singing Peter Lutkin's "The Lord Bless You and Keep You." I went searching on You Tube a few months ago and found it-performed by a choir directed by a classmate. It is just as powerful to me (and tear causing) as when I was one of the performers.

The Lord Bless You and Keep You (arr. Peter Lutkin)

The Lord bless you and keep you
the Lord lift his countenance upon you
and give you peace (and give you peace)
The lord make his face to shine upon you
and be gracious, unto you
be gracious
the Lord be gracious unto you. Amen.

Just today, I got an email from one of our scout den leaders in which a parable is given about asking God to show a sign that he is there. All I need is a song like this to know.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Scrolling Saturdays

After a week's hiatus, it's time once again for Scrolling Saturday. This week's entry still holds the same weight as it did when I posted it last February.


Family

It's funny how we're born into this world related to others that if not for that one connection, we would have nothing to do with whatsoever. No shared interests or anything that would keep a connection going, other than having the same mother and/or father. Perhaps shared grandparents.

This blog has shared some of the downside of my large family. My mom's side has more than it's fair share of screwed up individuals. They probably think I'm as messed up as I consider them, lol. However, watching some of my relations make asses of themselves, treat others poorly or treat their own bodies like crap really made an impact on me as a kid. I think this makes it easier to understand why I don't have such a close bond with every sibling-and why I have a close one with Kathi.

On the other hand, we choose our friends. In the past month, I've told a few of my oldest and dearest friends what I've always thought, but never spoken-they ARE family to me. They've been there through thick and thin, supported me as I've supported them, laughed with and at me and enriched my life in so many ways that one hundred blog entries would never completely convey.

I feel I've chosen very well my 'family by association'. I find it worth mentioning after talking to Donna this week about this year's family vacation probably being a driving one. While we'd LOVE to visit California again, it's not in the cards.

So I'm thinking of the wonderful road trips of my teens (me, Kathi, Dad and the 'Captain Banana' bathing cap) and contemplating places like Atlanta, Virginia Beach, the Outer Banks. A family vacation means we should GO AWAY to experience things new and different. If we stayed home, we wouldn't really do much of anything, so it's important to ALLEZ et Cherchez.

Donna commented that it sounded so nice, and that she'd love to go. I told her she's more than welcome to come along. She IS family and while she's not related by blood, she's related by love. I feel that way about Joyce (and kin), Rich and even Bob.

After getting off the phone with Donna, I pondered the enormity of it all. Yeah, I come from a big family-of friends.

Suppose I need to send some Kleenex your way, ladies.
______________________________________________________________________________________

Donna sent me an email containing this today:

"Best friends are the siblings God forgot to give us."

How true it is!

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Moving Diaries

I originally wrote this last Friday, but was having difficulty posting it without bandwidth.

The past three days have been a flurry of activity. Twelve to sixteen hours each day of packing, loading a truck or the van, driving a half hour, only to unload and come back to do some more. (I totally am going to rock the Awesome Activity hours for this week and next, because dude, I have over 30 hours of moving activity this week!)

I got some furniture movers from Home Depot and I will say that it was forty dollars well spent. We were able to move the armoires out of the house with a minimum of smooshed fingers and bruised body parts-unlike moving them into the house.

In retrospect, we probably should have skipped renting the van on Tuesday in favor of doing more packing. It sucked a chunk of time in the middle of the day and not one thing went into the van until around 9am on Wednesday. We loaded some of the biggest things into the van: the two armoires, some odds and ends and the piano.

Yes, the two of us moved the piano into the van ourselves. It didn’t arrive here unscathed, though. One of the legs is partially shredded and Ed broke off the sustain pedal when he was trying to get the furniture mover out from underneath the piano once it was in the truck.

We continued to load up the truck and as soon as Chef Jr got home, he and Ed drove over to the new house. I waited at the old place, packing and waiting for Gameboy’s school bus. As soon as it arrived, we were off to the new house.

On the way over to the new house , one of the armoires fell over and dented the lid of the old upright. Some of what we saved by moving it ourselves will end up going to replacing the sustain pedal-can’t have a piano without it.

I expected to find the small things unpacked and Ed waiting for me to help him get that big stuff out. Instead, I found our next door neighbor there chatting happily with Ed and the van half unloaded! No sooner had Ed backed that van into the drive that the guy was over at Ed’s door asking what he could do to help.

He’s a very nice guy and has the brute strength that was sorely needed. Heck, I think he could have moved the piano on his own! I prepared for the three of us to get the upright out and he turned to me and said “We’ve got this-keep unloading the VW.” I offered him a bottle of wine, but he says he’s not much on it. After all was said and done, he agreed to us cooking him a meal as repayment, but only after we’re settled in.

I am blown away, as was Ed. The neighbor on the other side ran out to introduce herself Thursday morning. In our last neighborhood, we knew people, but didn’t have any friendships a la Karen and Pat in Frederick. We nodded and said hello, but nothing beyond pleasantries were ever exchanged. Heck, even the cows in the pasture behind us come up to greet us.

After unloading Wednesday night, we went back to the old house, got the kids into bed and packed some more, finally throwing in the towel at around midnight. I thought we’d be fine, Ed was worried that we wouldn’t get out in time! The liaison from the realtor handling the foreclosure had said we had until midnight on the 13th.

Thursday morning, the kids went off to school and we continued to pack the moving truck and Jane’s van. Our bed, living room furniture, refrigerator and assorted big pieces went in for this trip. I was thankful for the furniture movers, because my wrists announced their displeasure quite loudly. (Hey lady, don’t think you can cut us up five times and expect us to do things without complaint!) Even with the vicodin, I was in bad shape-but we had a job to do. Ed’s arthritis behaved in similar fashion and he was coming to the family drugstore (me) for his naproxen at regular intervals.

I had emptied the fridge into a few coolers and thus had a deadline for my departure. Ed and I loaded some kitchen stuff and items from the master bath and closet into Jane’s van for my trip, while he continued to pack as much big stuff as he could to maximize having the large vehicle.

This was the trip where I met the neighbor and her toddler son as soon as I pulled up in front of the house. I expressed my happiness that she runs a day care out of the home. My opinion? This means there’s always someone around to keep an eye on things. Other people who looked at the house? They thought it meant lots of noise. Their loss-you can hardly hear the kids when they’re playing in the yard. She’s very nice, and her two older girls are so cute and polite.

Now, to unload the coolers. Uh oh, we’d brought our freezer over the day before and Ed and the neighbor had arranged it with the washer and dryer, but hadn’t plugged it in (the extension cord was missing). I quickly called Jane to see if I could stow some stuff if I ran out of space. Somehow, it wasn’t needed.

Everything that was destined for the freezer was wedged into the one here except for a london broil (see picture below) and a shrimp primavera meal from the meal prep place that unfortunately wasn’t cooked in a timely fashion. Not bad, considering that the rental’s fridge is a lot smaller than ours. There’s nothing like a move to make you purge stuff AND also realize how much stuff you have on hand as staples because you have three cooks in the house.

Once I’d unloaded Jane’s van (slow going thanks to the wrists), I set off to get home to Chef Jr. I took a short break to update the blog, knowing full well that I would be without bandwidth at least until Monday. Then, it was full tilt boogie cleaning, then packing. Packing, then cleaning. The ADHD I have coped with so long had me spending about a half hour on one task, chipping away at it, then I had to refocus on something else.

As soon as Gameboy arrived, we went off to Ryder to pick up Ed. He’d called a half hour prior to tell me he’d dropped off the truck. They were nice-even though he’d arrived back after the 1:30pm deadline, they only charged us for the two days.

We drove back to the house one last time, grabbing dinner in there somewhere. Pretty much nonstop cleaning and packing went on. Sure, they’d told us not to worry about cleaning the place, that they’d have a cleaning crew come in. However, that’s not our style-we felt we had to leave it as clean as we possibly could.

Dumb move alert: When I called to turn off the water, they gave me the option of Thursday or the following Monday. I didn’t want to leave it on over the weekend, for fear that the ruffians next door would turn on the spigot and leave it running. It got shut off around noon Thursday. Kinda made spending the last afternoon difficult when anyone had to use the toilet!

One child was bone tired at about 9:30 and we set up a makeshift bed. He’ll sleep anywhere if he’s tired. The other one, well, he wanted to play his games. He kept asking “Can we leave now?,” which shows how much he cared about this place. Eventually, he climbed in Jane’s van because he was bored. He did ‘play a game’ with Ed of grabbing all the clean clothes that were in a pile to be folded (but never completed) and putting them in trash bags to go to the new house. It helped Ed’s poor knees.

I finally convinced Gameboy to sleep in the van at around 11:00pm. I found him playing the DS, and took it from him. Then, the next time I had gone out to the garage, he called to me and handed me the Pokemon mini kit. He showed remarkable restraint and understanding, giving up the game because he knew he needed the sleep and wouldn’t sleep if the game was in the car.

The pictures I posted to the blog of the empty house were taken just before midnight, after everything but the lamps had been taken out. We’d made the deadline, but couldn’t find the realtor’s number. The paperwork had been packed away somewhere. She hadn’t called us at any time on Thursday, either. We figured Ed would try to contact her in the morning, after driving the kids to school.

We got the kids to our new home and in their own beds at 12:45. Then we unloaded Jane’s van so that Ed could drive Gameboy to school in the morning. Bedtime finally arrived around 3am.

I had to be to work at 8am, so it made sense for me to drive Chef to his school for 7:30 and his last day with Ms.E. Ed dropped Gameboy off at school and then ran some errands over in the Brandon area for the day.

Ed stopped by the old house to see if anyone was there, to bring them our keys. The house had already been broken into by people from the realty. They were there to rekey the locks, throw out any trash and to clean. They commented that the house was in great shape, that they usually come in to a pig sty.

My opinion is that they aren’t responsible for what happened, I am, so I’ll give them the house in the best condition I possibly can. Ed apologized that we didn’t get to shampoo the carpet, but was told that anyone buying the house would probably rip it out anyway. It’s a shame, that barely three year old carpet is in darn good shape.

At 2:30, Ed arrived at the elementary school to pick up Chef, coming through the car rider line. Chef hadn’t emptied his desk. They went back into school. Ms.S, Chef’s co teacher, didn’t know that this was his last day. She seemed very upset, almost as upset as Chef was about leaving his school and teachers.

It was right before this that in the interests of cutting payroll, I offered to depart from work early. The Assistant said “GO!” and I called Ed to tell him that once he had Chef that the two of them should head home, that I’d pick up Gameboy.

I got out of work very hungry. Off to Buffalo Wild Wings, because I knew they had free WiFi and decent food. I sat for an hour, catching up on the blog and emails. Ed told me I had to go through the car rider line to get Gameboy, something I’d never done. Boy howdy, that line was about 100 cars long. Seriously. I’m thinking that I should go take pictures of it someday, because Gameboy’s new school warned us about their ‘long car rider line.”

Instead, I figured I’d use my handicapped placard to park and go get him. Ms.V, his teacher, must have expected this. She was waiting at the entrance of the school with him and walked out to the car. She gave him a book as a parting gift and told me that she’d really miss having him in her class.

When we left the school, I made it a point to travel a different route to get to the interstate. I didn’t want to drive by the old block. Not yet. The pain is still too raw, the feeling of failure too much. If I don’t pass by, it’ll be easier to focus on the road ahead, and the promise a fresh start in a new place will bring…

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Yay, Internet

Boo, no router! I've got a couple of posts that detail the move and the start of the new schools. Unfortunately, the cable modem requires one file that is not on my laptop, so they'll have to wait until we get a new router.

There's the rub. Do we get a super G modem or buy an N modem? My thought is that the N is the way to go. Ed's waffling on the issue, but if we're going to buy it down the road anyway, why not get it now? He's not convinced. In addition to the new router, I'll probably be picking up a wireless card for the laptop. It's been giving me loading errors with stunning frequency lately. I can't spend a pile of money on a new laptop, so I'll throw some money at a card instead.

Today was my first day off since completing the move. A day of rest and relaxation. Sorta. The phone rang this morning, waking me from slumber. After Brighthouse left, we ran a few errands and my tired body craved a nap. Once again, the phone rang.

I decided to use Ed's computer to check email and possibly blog. First order of business was to check where that box of See's was. It was delivered at 2:30 TO THE OLD ADDRESS!!!! Argh! I'd put in the new address and I am 99 94/100% sure that I'd checked the new address as the ship to (hadn't changed the address with the bank yet) address. No, it was delivered to the other address. It's 80+ degrees today and it's a box of chocolate. We called a fellow parent from our old school to pick it up, but I feared that the neighborhood ruffians would see a box at an empty house and swipe it (melted chocolate, yummy). I hopped in the car and a half hour later, the box was in hand.

We're nearly situated for Sunday. Candy: check. Baskets: check.(we have the boys set out their baskets for the Easter Bunny) Coloring kit: check, it's even got Star Wars sleeves to make those eggs look like R2D2 and C3PO, too. Sunscreen: oops, gotta get some.

This year is a little different. We're going to spend the day at Aquatica, Sea World's new water park. After the past few weeks, some fun in the sun and water is the perfect antidote for what ails us.

I suppose I should drag the laptop to work tomorrow to get part one of the moving saga out to the blogosphere!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What would YOU do?

Here's the scenario:

We moved from one county to another. As a result, the spring break schedules are different, with the new county going a week before the one we just moved from.

The Boy Scout troop that Gameboy just moved up into is planning a 4 1/2 day camping trip to coincide with their county's spring break. It's a good idea for him to attend this one, as it'd give us a good idea whether he can survive a week at Boy Scout sleep away summer camp. This is something he wants and we'd love to allow him.

Would YOU, if you had an academically advanced but socially impaired child, have him miss two days of school to go on a scouting activity? He has only missed a couple of days due to illness this year.

Our thought is to send him camping. He gains so much out of being with his peers in a structured setting that encourages teamwork and social interaction.

Oh and last night, he led the pledge and promise at the beginning of the meeting. Pretty cool.


(I can't wait until I have bandwidth again and can catch up with everyone else's blogs!)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Things that Come back

Several things have come back to me this week (or are coming soon)

First, the ability to wear the Crocs. Dr. J wrote a very eloquent (but FIRM) letter stating that I have a lifelong condition called Venous Insufficiency. It caused the Venous Stasis Ulcers and as a result, the RSD/CRPS. He briefly explained what all of was and that I suffer a great deal of pain and the only shoe that is beneficial to reducing the pain is the Crocs.

I won the battle, but the war is still waging. I am now told I have to dress FAR NICER than my peers to make up for the ugly shoes. This was communicated by my direct supervisor, my DM hasn't talked to me yet. Wonder how she'll take the comment that's brewing "Hmmm, what would the Labor Board have to say about the conditions you are placing on me because of a medical accommodation?"

Second thing that has come back: Vern Troyer has decided to attack my stupid leg (trademark pending) again. I've got the stabbing knives in the calf. The RSD mustn't have liked moving very much, because it is going full tilt boogie right now. If that weren't enough, it's exacerbating the Plantar Faciitis. Ugh. Waiting for Nurse M to call me back regarding new scripts.

Third thing, we'll have Road Runner come Thursday. I am suffering major withdrawal not reading all those blogs every day and fulfilling my personal comment challenge. The way I see it, I've been averaging 5 comments a day, so a week without commenting on a bunch of blogs every day isn't all that bad.

Fourth thing-for the kids-See's candies will be delivered in time for Easter. Woohoo. I also sent some as a Thank You to Chef Jr's awesome teachers while I was on the website.

Fifth thing-in transit-Jill brought some of the best potato chips back from Maryland for us:Utz Crab Chips. I'll be honest, I used to crave my Wise BBQ Chips like you would not believe, but the Crab Chips are soooooooo much better than anything Wise makes. I can't wait to have some of those.

And for all of you loyal readers, Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday will come back this week. I forgot in all the moving stuff. Tomorrow night, I'll be finishing the story of the move, an epic that may be spread over several parts.

I'm not torturing you with dinner pictures tonight. Maybe tomorrow?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Pictures are worth lots of words, since I'm still without bandwidth


The first meal I prepared in the new kitchen. (Ed's was Hamburger Helper for the kids)


Things we like about the new house:
The kitchen ROCKS! (a stove that works and is nice makes a huge difference)
The neighbors (bovine and human)
The neighborhood is quiet
More to come...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

How Tired Am I?

Apparently, I was VERY tired. After a week of nights with 3 to 4 hours sleep, I went to sleep yesterday at 4:30pm. I woke up a few times, but didn't get up for good until 8:30 this morning. Moving is a piece of cake, right?

I still have that update to post and I will. Jill's network is secured, otherwise I'd borrow the bandwidth there when I check in with the kitties later. In the meantime, you get a short post today.

On tap for the morning tomorrow is enrolling both boys in school. At least Gameboy's school gave us the pile of paperwork when we were there the other day. I spent over an hour this morning completing it. He apparently gets an elective and what was his first choice? Phys Ed. Are you sure this is MY child?

We have cow pasture behind the house and there are about a half dozen residents. Ed has dubbed them "The Neighbors". When I got up this morning, he asked if I'd seen "The Neighbors" this morning. I was confused, we've got a fenced in yard and I just woke up. No, he meant the cows. He says he likes having "The Neighbors." That's fine with me, as long as he doesn't invite them over for dinner!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hanging with my Peeps




I had to add the special Suzanne touch to the class I taught today. What better way to do that than to make a peep bouquet? Heck, anyone I know who eats then prefers them stale-this just hastens that along!

No, I don't like peeps. The colored sugar tastes nasty. Now Snowman peeps, count me in. Especially if you nuke them first.

Yes, there is a long update to be posted. It's on the laptop and I'm without bandwidth until Ed gets us Road Runner. If I lived near Jill and Bob, I'd have been able to transfer the FiOS. Bummer.

I'll upload that tomorrow after work. Promise.

(and I am so used to the laptop keyboard that I'm making beaucoup typing errors on the ergonomic keyboard that's just like my old one.)

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Chapter Ends

Our days as homeowners are over. Last night, around midnight, we packed the last of our belongings into a van and the Jeep and left the house one last time.

We had a three day marathon of 15-16 hour days, driving back and forth, unloading and getting more of our accumulated stuff. We discovered a wonderful neighbor on one side who blew us away with, well, neighborliness, something we so sorely lacked at the most recent abode. The neighbor on the other side is nice, too.

As I'm without bandwidth at the new house for the moment, I'm giving a photo essay with some brief descriptions. I'll blog about the experience offline and add it later. (The Buffalo Wild Wings Southwest Dippers pack a nice bite, btw.)


The last soak in the awesome tub. It was nice having such a roomy tub. The only thing missing that would have made it perfect was a Jacuzzi. (Something I pointed out to Jill when she used the same builder a few years later.)


The party shower stall. You can't tell from this picture, but you probably could fit four people in there and still have room. It was great to not bang elbows while showering. Always a plus when you're a klutz.


Master bath in the daylight. This builder was smart in the size of the master suite. I loved that we could leave the ironing board out. Too bad it was typically piled high with my clothes.

The view from the breakfast nook. I loved the airiness, but realize now that open floor plan translates into wasted square footage. This kitchen was great (except for the sucky oven you see there.) More cabinets than even the house in Maryland.

View from the front door. According to the bank liaison, most foreclosed homes are left a wreck. It's not their fault this happened, so we did our best to clean up before we left.

View from the hallway to the boy's room and bathroom. Whoever gets this house will eventually HATE those track lights for blinding them.

Bye bye, house. You gave us some great memories.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different

We've got a deadline here, so I won't tell the story of yesterday until tonight. It may even be tomorrow. In the meantime, I don't want to shirk my Blog 365 duties, so you get...










KITTY PICTURES!

No, not my kitty. My nose is still stuffed up from petting Scamp, but it's worth it because he's just so gosh darn CUTE. Here's yesterday's photo session. Scamp is the inlaws cat. Yes, they named him after a Disney dog. Their other cat is named after a Disney bug. I didn't have any input on the fact tact that there are dozens of Disney CATS they could have named him after.


Look at me, I'm as playful as a kitten on a string. Oh wait, I am a kitten. That's a string. Duh.


Man, that flash is BRIGHT! Why didn't you tell me that when I signed my model's release?!


So, which website are these going to show up in? LOLCats? I can haz Cheezburger? What? Just in So, You Don't Get Any Phone Calls From Me?


That's it, I'm not posing anymore. I want to be on a website with lots of hits every day. Oh wait, you have a hand that's ready to pet me?



Here's your money shot, lady. Keep petting.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Feelings of Loss

It's hard going the past couple of days, as we sort through things to move them out. We throw things away, and it is hard to do it. Mom bought that, Nancy gave them this, Mom was here for that. Right now, we're waiting for the men to come and take the Saturn. It needs about two grand in repairs, money we don't have. It has been sitting in the driveway since we got here.

I tried not to be a nag to Ed, to let him realize on his own that he needed to sell it. It was his baby, his cool car, the top of the line coupe the second year they were available. Time has run out-it isn't registered here and hasn't been started in ages. Instead of selling, it has to be junked. Inaction made the decision for him.

He feels about the car the way I do about the house...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Nursing Diaries

Thanks to Lotus, today is a celebration of feeding our babies! Welcome to the (Breast)feeding Carnival!

For me, there was never a question of what I wanted to do: I would breastfeed my kids. Funny thing is, Ed and I had never discussed this when we began dating. As ours was a long distance relationship, many hours were spent on the phone talking about our plans for the future. Kids most definitely were part of the plan. (According to my ex, that was his prime motivation to step out, because I wanted kids and he didn’t. His loss.)

We visited my niece, her husband and infant son and he spoke up for me, that when we did have kids, I would definitely nurse! I guess my ideas were pretty transparent! Little did we know, a year and some months later, we’d have our own son and we began on our own nursing journey.

During my pregnancy, I was big on asking any mom “What didn’t they tell you when you had a baby that you wish you’d known?”. I asked my doctors “What complications only happen to a small percentage of new moms?” I knew that these questions would serve me well-and they did, to an extent. My doctors confirmed that the gall bladder issues within a few months of having a baby were very common (which meant mine would perform perfectly).

I was told about the uncontrollable shakes after you deliver by my boss, so I was prepared. The lamaze breathing that had no use during the c-section served me in good stead when I was in recovery for two hours after having Gameboy. (Fair skin sucks-I’m already pale and look ghost like after any surgery, so they tend to keep me in recovery for hours.)

What no one told me was that nursing HURT! I would grit my teeth every time Gameboy latched on, and he nursed a lot. The first two weeks were torture. I had red, raw and cracked nipples. However, once we got past the two week point, it was like a switch had been flicked. It suddenly was very easy to nurse.

During my six week maternity leave, any excursions out were interesting. We tried to find suitable places to nurse in public. We were successful for the most part, discreetly nursing at a mall, some outlets and dining out. Alas, one time an elderly gentleman decided he needed to see the baby under the receiving blanket and got more than he bargained for! I think he was far more embarrassed than I was!

I returned to work with a Nature’s Choice double breast pump and pumped on my break. It worked like a charm. Yes, the pumps are stronger at latching on to you than a baby, but you get used to it pretty quickly.

One day, I’ll relate the whole long story that goes here, but the condensed version is that at seven weeks postpartum, I developed a DVT and earned a nine day hospital stay and a year on blood thinnners.

It was in the ER, waiting for the vascular surgeon that I was told unceremoniously that I could NOT nurse that baby! I was upset, he was upset and we had to stop cold turkey. I was on an IV drip of heparin during the hospital stay and was told I couldn’t nurse. I pumped and dumped because the pain was horrible.

Many times, I asked my vascular surgeon if there was some way I could nurse my baby. As he wasn’t well acquainted with nursing moms as patients (and he had a poor bedside manner), he told me no way. I stopped, sad that something so special had been taken away from us.

It wasn’t until my first visit after leaving the hospital that he told he he’d done some research and found that I *could* nurse, if I injected myself with heparin, instead of taking the coumadin that I’d been on for a few weeks already.

Gameboy had adjusted to life on formula, and I had dried up. It would be too much work (or so I thought) to start back up.

Three years later, when I found out I was pregnant with Chef Jr, things were different. I endured a lot of testing to figure out why I’d had that DVT. It is rare to have one more than two weeks post partum, with less than ½ of 1% of moms having one seven weeks after giving birth. My midwives wanted to know why.

We found out that I had several markers for Lupus, without actually having it. We found out I have Factor V Leiden, a clotting abnomality. I was five weeks pregnant and on blood thinners. This time, I was to inject myself with Heparin throughout the pregnancy and for eight weeks afterwards to stave off another DVT.

Since I was now considered a high risk patient, in addition to my midwives and OB’s, I gained a Perinatologist. Dr. Kramer was here in the US on a fellowship and I felt like he came especially for me. The research in England about blood thinners, pregnancy and nursing moms has been more thorough than in the US.

Dr. Kramer told me I could nurse with the blood thinners without hurting my baby. He provided documentation from several sources, and since I was already giving myself injections several times a day (from about 4 months on, it was 6 shots a day), I didn’t see any problem with two shots a day post partum.

Chef Junior arrived a healthy boy. The other Perinatologist worried that he’d have some kidney issues, so he was rushed off for an ultrasound when he was a couple of hours old, but he checked out fine. (and we had the diapers to prove it!)

He was just like his big brother in that he had no problems at all latching on. The same lactation consultant that had checked in on us during our first birthing experience checked in again and remembered us, commenting “you don’t need my help, you did great the last time.”

This time, I was primarily a stay at home mom. At eight weeks, I got a waitressing job where I only worked Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Thirty five hours in three days, eek. Fortunately, my employer was very understanding of my commitment to nursing. I returned to work with my double pump and spent 5 or 10 minutes several times each night pumping. At first, it was in the alcove where we had the ice machine, but some of the guys said they didn’t want me to think that they were staring at me, so I soon earned a key to the management office to pump in quiet.

I had a good system. I took one of the little pagers we gave the guests back with me. If I was needed, the hostesses buzzed me. It worked like a charm. Typically, I’d be teamed with a smoker in the adjoining station, so we’d trade off-they’d watch while I pumped and I’d watch while they smoked.

Six months later, I switched restaurants. I was upfront in my interview that I was a nursing mom and that I intended to pump. Once again, I was offered the office for pumping. Two of the managers had nursing wifes, so they were especially considerate of my needs.

The work front was a huge motivator for us to nurse as long as we did. At home, we worked out a system. After I’d worked the three nights, I found that Chef would nurse non stop on that Monday. I thought that it was due to a drop in milk production, though the La Leche league chapter I joined thought that it was more that Chef missed mommy.

I did some research and found that brewer’s yeast helps milk production. Another member of the online mom’s community I participated in suggested a Guinness a night when I worked to help. At the time, I found the stout to be very bitter. Another mom, from Dublin, recommended an Irish tradition: a shot of Chambord in the glass would take away the bitter aftertaste. It worked.

Other things that were different this time around: I purchased a baby sling just before Chef’s arrival. Gameboy was just under 10 pounds when he was born, and as a result, the Snugli we had would sway heavily from side to side. The information I’d found about the slings showed that I could wear my baby without that pendulum effect.

Chef quickly took to the sling. He had this amazing knack to start the hungry cry just as we’d walked into the neighborhood supermarket (conditioned response to the smell of the place? maybe!). After a couple of times nursing awkwardly in the car, I decided to put the sling to work. Hurray! It worked great. What was hilarous was that his routine was get into the sling, latch on, then work his bottom leg out of the sling. You’d see me walking down the aisles with a baby leg swinging merrily from beneath the sling!

We had no problems nursing anywhere. I purchased a couple of nursing tops from Motherhood Maternity and I have to say that they worked great. I never had a ‘peeking’ incident like I’d had with Gameboy.

One time, we were shopping in Target and he began to cry the cry I knew all too well. I was in the checkout. The check out of the ding dong that we would avoid at all costs. She noticed that Chef was crying and commented that he was probably very hungry. I replied that he was, and she asked why I hadn’t giving the little baby his bottle.

I said, “No, he needs to nurse”, to which she said “Well, the bathroom is right over there.” I had a hard time controlling my volume when I responded “Do you eat in YOUR bathroom?” I explained that if I wanted privacy, I could go to the fitting rooms to nurse him. Instead, I went over to the snack bar, got Gameboy a juice and fed Chef.

When he was ten months old, I returned to retail management and once again, had an understanding employer. I pumped in the office on my break, as did one of our part timers. Ed took him to his one year checkup and the pediatrician asked about nursing (I couldn’t get the day off from work) and suggested it was time to wean him.

Poor Ed, he was just the messenger. I wasn’t ready to stop, nor was Chef. We’d keep going, thankyouverymuch!

We passed 18 months and set our sights on two years. All the evidence that the longer a child is nursed, the less severe their allergies could be was mounting. Ed, Gameboy and I were already experiencing some pretty severe allergies and I hoped to minimize this for Chef.

However, when he was 20 months old, I developed severe vertigo. (Yep, chalk up another one for my weird file). The doctors were stumped, I was equally stumped. We first tried various medications for it that wouldn’t pass through the breast milk, with no success.

Finally, an MRI was ordered. I had to receive radioactive contrast dye. This would pass through the breast milk and I was told that I had to stop nursing. Once again, we went cold turkey because of my health. However, switching a 7 week old and switching a 20 month old are two very different experiences. Can I tell you how frustrating it was to find that the MRI didn’t uncover the cause for the dizziness? I was diagnosed as having Benign Positional Vertigo, and I still have it, though not as severe.

I would never trade the experience for anything. I would never give another mom a hard time for deciding not to nurse, but for me there was never a question. I had to do this-and I’m so happy I did.

About a year ago, Chef and I were talking about when he was a baby, and he pointed to my chest and said “I used to eat from those.” I said “yes, you did.” It was simple and matter of fact, but the connection he made is that the chest is there to feed babies. Pretty cool.

Wanna hear more great stories about feeding our kids, go to Lotus's blog!

Live From Lakeland




Well, almost. We don’t have internet access at the new place, and I thought I might be able to hijack bandwidth. No such luck. So I’ll type the entry at the new house, and probably upload it in a little while when we’re out and about.

Today’s tasks include enrolling the kids in school and picking up the Ryder truck. We’re the veterans of many moves, but we’ve never used Ryder before. Why this time? Well, I wanted to see if they had ramps for us to bring our heavy stuff up into the truck. When there are only two people doing the work, you need the help.

I had a coworker ask why we didn’t have anyone to help. Well, folks, that’s the life of Aspie parents. You can’t really leave your child in the care of a teenager, so you don’t go out without them. It makes it hard to socialize. Yes, an extra two people would save me a lot of money, because I wouldn’t have to hire movers for the piano, fridge and the two armoires. Oh well.

The Ryder truck has a hydraulic lift. Score. It means we’ll get everything but those four items out of the house ourselves.

Are we on track for being out by Thursday? Possibly. We still have a lot of packing to do. The kitchen needs to be packed, but that’s not all that bad. The master bath and all our clothes are not done. Again, it’s not bad, it’s just time consuming. The garage is nearly empty, just the bicycles, freezer and three million Rescue Heroes toys that are going to be sold at a yard sale as soon as we’re settled.

Time to go. If I have a place to sit tonight in the old place, I’ll update further.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Soap

I am allergic to a lot of stuff. Seriously. For instance, any time I see Nurse M and we decide to try a new product on My Stupid Leg (trademark pending), the first thing out of her mouth is “Are you allergic to this?” She quickly scans the ingredient list to see if there are any known Suzanne allergens in it. For this alone, Nurse M is worth her weight in gold.

We learned of my allergies at a very early age, thanks to the rashes I’d get from soaps. Ivory was the WORST offender. I’d get a chicken pox like rash on my body any time I used the stuff. In the late 60’s and early 70’s, ‘deodorant soaps’ were all the rage. All soaps de odor you, so why the special designation? People are suckers for advertising. Those deodorant caused me to scratch non stop. As I was one in a house of many, I had to suffer with what was offered.

Dad was a mailman. Back then, it was a fairly frequent to get free samples in the mail. Breakfast cereal, shampoo, candy bars (really), granola bars, feminine products, deodorants and SOAP. In those days, the companies were generous and there typically would be leftovers once all the carriers delivered to each of their customers. This meant my dad would come home with some of the extras.

One day, he brought home Tone soap. For the first time, there was a soap in the house that didn’t make me break out. Mom had sensitive skin, too, though not nearly as bad as mine-she also liked the Tone. From then on, we had it in the house, even though it was the most expensive bar soap on the market.

Once I moved out, I always had my Tone soap. I switched to liquid laundry detergent and found that my clothing could be comfortable. Nowadays, the Kirkland Signature is my preferred-that and the Amway brand have fragrance but don’t make me itchy. Well, not as itchy.

I started working for Bath and Body Works when Gameboy was a baby and I was the walking advertisement. Here I was, Allergy Central, and I could use all the products. (save for a couple of the floral scents, Plumeria and Happy Daisy were the worst). The shower gels, creams, lotions-I could use all of it. They had antibacterial hand soap and I started buying that. It sure makes life easy to change a diaper and get the hands washed quickly.

For years, that’s what we had at every sink in the house. I’d stock up when they had the bottles on sale 4 for 10 bucks. I went back to working for them for a while and my Shop Director would run down to the Disney store to let me know when we had the great sale so that I could get my 30% off, too. (My one big gripe is that they did away with their awesome deodorant soap with baking soda and tea tree oil-that stuff was heavenly)

Over the past couple of years, though, the scents became way to sweet smelling for even me. I decided to use some of the glycerin soaps I’d picked up from the Body Shop (who’s scents I prefer these days, anyway).

The kids where confused. “What are those?” they asked, as all they’ve ever used in their entire lives is shower gel, shower cream and liquid hand soap. They switched over to the bars, much as I’d switched to liquid from bar. I'll say this about the glycerin-it's not drying, even when you wash your hands as much as I do.

Ed commented yesterday when washing with one of the bars of soap. “I used to wonder why people would ever want to use those liquid soaps. It was stupid, the bars worked fine." He added, "Now, I realize why. It's so much easier to wash with the liquids.”

The liquid is much easier to use and those bottles last a long time. I just need to see what the supermarket has and hope I’m not allergic to the fragrance in them, because I’m not buying the sugar laden scents at Bath and Body Works anymore. Hmmm, wonder if they’ve got any liquid soaps at the Body Shop?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Cute Kid

Chef is full of laughs and makes us laugh daily. A sampling of today's gems, all within a half hour of each other.

I found him in the bathtub, bobbing his head up and down. He says "Don't mind me leaned over this way, I'm bubble fishing" Yep, he's taking his curls and trying to catch bubbles with them. He was successful.

He bathes and when he's finished, he pulls the plug and looks at the mirror like drain and says "Hello, Gorgeous!"

The boys are now on air mattresses in their rooms, and I asked him if he felt like was camping. He says yep. Then:
"Where's the grass?" Honey, we turned it gray.
"Are there bugs? No, we left them outside.
"Where are the mosquitoes?" Left them outside, too.

It's a riot to see how his mind works.

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday: Party Time!

Ultimate Blog Party 2008

It's time once again for Soundrack Sunday, and boy, this week, I had a lot of ideas for it. Ed found a lovely momento from the past that will be the feature of a future SSS post. There's a new artist that I bought from iTunes, thanks to the song being featured on the DMX at work-so I'll be doing that soon.

Today, though, it just occurred to me that I should feature something that relates to the Blog Party. A party is not a party without the tunes, right?

When I was a kid, I was a radio junkie and loved music(duh). As a teen, thought, I was very lucky. One of my friends had a low wattage radio station that he ran out of his home. I was very excited to be given a show slot and then later, taught how to run the boards and DJ my own show.

It started me down a path. I wanted to be a DJ. I went to college with the goal of getting a degree in Communications. I got on the staff of the college radio station, where I met Donna and Bawb the first day. Eventually, I moved up from doing a couple of newscasts to doing my own show. In three years, I got to do many great things at that station, including the coveted Saturday two hour air shift where I could play whatever I wanted. Nothing beats having people you don't know calling in their requests each week.

Bawb got a job DJing in a bar midway between my house and his. They needed a Saturday night DJ, and I got the job. I got a hundred bucks a week for 6 hours work, doing what I loved! Later, I was offered a DJing job at the bar we hung out at. Alas, it was just before I moved, but hey, seeing people grooving on the dance floor and stay there song after song? The power is intoxicating.

I moved to Maryland and got a paying job at a radio station. The money wasn't as good as club DJing, so I left the field. However, I still like making my mixes as if I were in a club or on the air.

When I managed the meal prep kitchen, I had several mixes on the iPod that I piped into the kitchen and the customers loved it. There was a regular private party that came in every month and they requested my mixes as soon as they came in the door. I was informed that after I left, they were a little bummed that they wouldn't get a personal Suzanne mix anymore (but they were consoled somewhat by having the XM 70's channel to groove to)

So, today, in honor of the blog party, I'm sharing a couple of my playlists.

This is the store mix, 2.7 hours of music (our kitchen sessions were two hours long)
Time and Tide - Basia
Tempted - Squeeze
Only You - Yaz
If You Leave Me Now - Chicago
Take Me As I Am - October Project
Two Hundred - Tommy Williams
Head Over Heels - Tears For Fears
Steppin' Out - Joe Jackson
Video Killed the Radio Star - Buggles
I Got You - Split Enz
Wake Up (Next to You) - Graham Parker
What I Like About You - Romantics
It's The End of The World (As We Know It) - R.E.M.
Make A Curcuit With Me - Polecats
The Futures So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades - Timbuk 3
I Wanna Be a Lifeguard - Blotto
Fun in the Sun - Steve Harwell (lead singer for Smashmouth)
Whip It - Devo
What Do All the People Know - Monroes
Little Goodbyes -SheDAISY
That Don't Impress Me Much - Shania Twain
Let Goodbye Hurt - Suzy Boggus
The Dance - Garth Brooks
Life in A Northern Town - Dream Academy
Take Me With You - Rippingtons
Over the Rainbow - Israel Kamakiwiwo'ole (eToys commercial)
Longer - Dan Fogelberg
Flesh and Blood - Wilson Phillips
Orinoco Flow - Enya
Falling Farther In - October Project
What A Wonderful World - Joey Ramone
I Feel Lucky - Mary-Chapin Carpenter
Breakaway - Kelly Clarkson
Leader of the Band - Dan Fogelberg
Impressions de France - The Official Album/Where Magic Lives (WDW)

Private Party Songs is one list I did for the ladies who loved to groove while in the kitchen. There's some overlap, but there's nothing wrong with that!

The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades - Timbuk 3
Good Lovin' - The Rascals
What I Like About You - Romantics
Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
The Logical Song - Supertramp
California Girls - David Lee Roth
If I Didn't Love You - Squeeze
We Are Family - Sister Sledge
In The Summertime - Mungo Jerry
I Feel Lucky - Mary-Chapin Carpenter
I Don't Even Know Your Name - Alan Jackson
Kokomo - Beach Boys
It's The End of the World (As We Know It) - R.E.M.
Steppin' Out - Joe Jackson
Take Everything - Graham Parker
Jet Airliner - Steve Miller Band
Who Can It Be Now? - Men at Work
She Blinded Me With Science - Thomas Dolby
Goody Two Shoes - Adam Ant
Friends in Low Places - Garth Brooks
Take It To the Limit - Eagles
Little Lies - Fleetwood Mac
Walk of Life - Dire Straits
Someday - Marshall Crenshaw
Rock This Town - Stray Cats
Birthday - Beatles
Love Shack - B52's
The Time Warp - Rocky Horror Picture Show
Situation - Yaz
Just Can't Get Enough - Depeche Mode
Take On Me - a-Ha
Sowing the Seeds of Love - Tears for Fears
You Make Lovin Fun - Fleetwood Mac
Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
When I'm Sixty Four - Beatles
Last Train to Clarksville - Monkees
Walking on Sunshine - Katrina and the Waves
I Wanna Be a Lifeguard - Blotto
Two Princes - Spin Doctors
One Thing Leads to Another - The Fixx
Baby One More Time - Bowling For Soup
Honey, I'm Home - Shania Twain
Little Goodbyes - SheDaisy
What Do All The People Know - Monroes
You Make Me Feel Like Dancing - Anne Hathaway
Movin' Out - Billy Joel
Baby, What a Big Surprise - Chicago
Games Without Frontiers - Peter Gabriel


I realize that neither one of these is my ultimate party mix, because I took requests and incorporated them, as well as tailoring this to the personalities of those who would be there. If I have time before the blog party is over, I'll add my ultimate party mix to this list.

Now it's a party!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling...

The progress so far:

Done:
Gameboy's room is moved.
The office is moved. (In the new place, the family room has become the office/studio)
The garage is 90% emptied.
One bathroom is completely moved.
Dining room is moved.
All the furniture in our bedroom is moved, except the bed.


Left to do:
The kitchen
Chef Jr's room
Living Room
Walk in closet and our bathroom
Move the piano
Swap out the dishwasher

You know the stage in moving where everything is a disaster and involves much more than 30 seconds to chuck it in a box? Yeah, that's where we're at right now. We've got huge piles of *stuff* everywhere.

Note to self-when you've kept the weight off for almost two years, there is NO NEED to keep all the XL tee shirts. Even if they've got your favorite Disney characters on them.



I want to be finished already!

Party Time!

Yes, this was originally posted on Friday, March 8th, but I wanted to keep it at the top for the blog party! Newer posts are below, including other Blog Party posts.

Ultimate Blog Party 2008



What do you do when you're in the midst of moving and got boxes and disaster all over your house? Have a party, of course!

No, I'm not having a REAL party, but I'm participating in the cyber party. You know me, the party girl. Actually, I was usually the hostess of the get togethers. Honestly, you do NOT want to see me dancing on the tables.

The Ultimate Blogging Party is the blogosphere way to mix and mingle and make new friends. Making new bloggy friends is a good thing. The past four months have brought some cool people into my life.

Oh right, I need to introduce myself! I'm Suzanne and I live in Florida (don't hate me because I'm warm right now). I have a very busy life, with a husband and two boys (Gameboy and Chef Jr). We're in the midst of moving, I'm dealing with some health issues and I've got my plate full of things to do. Life is never boring. As I frequently tell others, I don't know what I'd do with a quiet existence.

I started blogging over two years ago at a friend's insistence. I'm in that small percentage of people who didn't stop writing soon after starting because that's the way I roll. For some crazy reason, I thought NaBloPoMO was a good idea to join. It was. Then I joined Holidailies and had even more fun. Then, what the heck, I'll do Blog365. I joined BlogHer. Along the way, I'm having lots of fun and meeting so many cool people. So to all you new readers, hello. Have some food. To the long timers, you can take them aside and warn them about the crazy family members! ;)

So, in the spirit of my party hosting days, I bring you some food. :)


NY Diner Style Home Fries:



Cajun Crab Cakes:


And the wine rack up top is filled with PRP Wine's finest. Well, it was. That's an old picture and I think the wine holder right now has different wines. Odds are good that there are no bottles of white in it at all.

To be honest, I'm hopeful that the move to Lakeland means we'll have company again. It doesn't make a hostess happy when the guests are few and far between. So having some guests to my internet house will have to do for now!