Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Four Years Ago Today

I started this blog with a short post.

Here we are, 1329 posts later and blogging has been more than just a passing fancy. It's a way of life. If I haven't posted by 10pm, I'm antsy, because it is so ingrained to post every day. I'm a month away from two solid years.

Along the way, I've met some wonderful people and found some great bloggers to follow.

Four years ago, I'd never have a clue that the my most popular blog posts would involve getting banned from a Disney message board, a picture of Jim Carrey in a women's bathing suit, a post about my foreclosure, and pictures of My Stupid Leg (trademark pending) in an Unna Boot.

To those who have joined me on the journey, THANK YOU! Way back when, there were probably a half dozen. Now, there's usually around fifty people a day-some from places far, far away. I'd write anyway, but knowing that there are people paying a visit every day feels pretty darn good.


The celebratory rainbow sherbert.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mistaken Identity

Does this happen to you?

I'm sitting at the local Rita's yesterday, enjoying my ice and borrowing their bandwidth to complain to a friend on Facebook that she LIED, because this location didn't have the Caramel Apple Cream Ice.

As I'd just finished work for the day, I was dressed in business attire. A gentleman comes in and wishes to use a coupon that has expired. When the young lady behind the counter apologizes that it is no longer valid, he appeals to me to allow him to use it.

Yep, it's happened again. I've been mistaken for someone in authority or as having some skill I do not possess.

It happens a lot. Just last week, I was mistaken for a medical professional, because I know how to triage a medical situation. Nope, no training-just well versed in what doctors and nurses need to know, thanks to my own health issues. The person only realized that I wasn't one of the pros when I put a blood pressure cuff on backwards.

On the college campus, I was engaged in a conversation with a member of the staff and one of the IT guys. It was clear I was killing time before my class began. The staffer asked if I was waiting for Dr. so and so's class to begin. She was convinced I was a grad student. The look of surprise when I said that I was 37 credits shy of my Bachelor's is one I've come to know well.

Heck, two weeks before, at the campus Emerging Leader's conference, one of my tablemates thought I was an adjunct-in a seminar that was meant for students. "What course do you teach?". None...yet.

Each time it happens, it ends up being a great ice breaker. I take each instance of mistaken identity as a huge compliment, that someone thinks I am well versed enough in whatever we're conversing about that I must be an expert, a member of that field that is the topic of conversation.

Sometimes, I wish I could parlay that into some sort of marketable job skill. In the meantime, I'm just enjoying the recent spate of mistaken identity.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I Left You Hanging...

Remember last week's post about creating a rubber band ball?

As the week progressed, I worked on the ball, little by little. It was a source of amusement for my seatmates, and even the boss had a good laugh. (I was still answering questions while I kept adding to the thing). Friday morning, I succeeded in finishing it before we were released from training.

Part of the effort was to stave off boredom, part of it was because I didn't want to carry the box they came in. See how much space I saved?

Now that training is done, I'll be working for about two weeks. Of course, on the first day, I would come up with one scenario we didn't cover last week. At least it keeps me on my toes!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

This week, my friend Dan put up yet another video on Facebook that made me think of this week's topic: excellent lyrics.

It sprung to mind, thanks to Steely Dan's 'Reeling in the Years', a song I've always enjoyed. As it is with many songs by Fagen and Becker, the turn of phrase is sometimes what grabs me first. Best line in the song "You've been telling me you're a genius since you were 17, In all the years I've known you I still don't know what that means."

Sometimes, an artist has great abilities to write music, but the lyrics make you go WTH? Springsteen and McCartney as the prime examples of this phenomenon. Some artists write so-so words in an effort to fit the melody.

I don't know if the lyrics I consider the best are because they spoke of something I can relate to, or they're witty or cunning or if the words are really that brilliant. Suffice to say a good song can be considered excellent by the addition of those well written lyrics.

How about you? What lyrics do you find compelling?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

After The Week That Was...

I spent the day on the couch.

It's probably a good thing Jane decided that she wasn't up for a visit to the hospital, because I'm not, either. I had a pulled muscle act up, on top of the other issues and didn't feel like going anywhere. For those keeping score at home, three of four limbs have some sort of issue causing pain right now. Yippee.

So, I've been back and forth between Farkle, making the Chef Jr specialty paninis, reading message boards, listening to choral music, reading for class, listening to a web cast for class, getting dinner in the oven (rice pilaf and marinated chicken legs), reading some more for class and playing more Farkle.

Ed's mom is still confused, which is why we didn't visit the hospital today. She won't know the difference. I gave the authorization for an MRI late last night and it was supposed to be done today. A neurologist visited her today, but didn't call us as asked.

It sounds busy, right? No, it was nice and slow paced, which is what I really needed today.

How about you?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Yet Another Crisis...

This morning, while Ed was over at his mom's to give her medication (which he does every morning and evening), she fell and had another seizure. She's at the hospital, where they've admitted her for observation after doing a CAT scan and running various tests.

It looks like the plans are going to change a little bit. Instead of spending the next few months culling through their belongings, then moving them into some sort of assisted care, they will probably move first and then we'll sort through stuff.

Ironically, I was supposed to take Jane to look at another facility today. We looked at one last month that both of us really liked. If these seizures are continuing despite medications that are supposed to control them, then I can't in good conscience place Ed's mom there. She probably needs skilled nursing care instead of the assisted we had anticipated.

As long as we can hold off until open enrollment to get her a better medicaid plan, we should be better set for that plan.

This means other plans have to fall into place as well.

Why does this always seem to happen when either Ed or I are in a new job situation?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Guess I Can't Count Volkswagen Among My Regular Readers?

Since purchasing my Beetle, the car has been serviced at three different dealers: the one it was purchased from across Tampa Bay, Brandon Volkswagen, which opened six months after I bought the car (and where the majority of work has been performed on it), and the local VW dealer, who has only seen the car for a recall campaign.

I got this email recently and it was good for a chuckle. Wanna see?

It's a bummer that they didn't happen to catch this momentous occasion that I recorded in picture and posted on the blog. You know, the one where my VW Beetle turned its first 100,000 miles?

The saddest part? The last time that dealership serviced my car was at 75,000 miles! I know it's not the dealer sending out these emails, it's VW. You'd think they would actually tie in the service record information to generate those emails.

Psst, Volkswagen. I'd be worried if people only drove the car 5,000 miles a year. It would mean it isn't fun to drive!

Though I will say this. At least they're not contributing to the massive amounts of those awful forwards I seem to get. You know, the ones that say bad luck will befall you if you don't pass the thing on. Gee, thanks, people who send me those-you'd want something bad to happen to me?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Odds and Ends

This week's presentation of What's For Dinner Wednesday was a repeat, homemade Macaroni and Cheese. You've seen it before, maybe even gone to the tab to get my recipe from over at MomDot, so I won't bore/torture you with a picture and a recap this week.

Besides, I'm hurting, happy and harried-all at the same time. The details, you ask?

Hurting-the neurologist appointment isn't until mid October, but the shoulder/arm issues are increasing in severity and frequency. You don't notice how much you use an arm daily until it starts hurting. Lifting a half gallon of milk hurts. Today, I started to scratch my back and had a lightning bolt radiate down my arm as soon as I rotated the shoulder to allow the arm to reach behind me.

I'm making mental note of what type of pain, how bad it is and how long it lasts to be able to provide specifics to the neurologist. As these issue increase, it is time to write them down for fear of missing something that is important for treatment and/or diagnosis. As compared to My Stupid Leg (trademark pending), I've been fairly silent about this issue on the blog. It may stay that way, but we'll see what lies ahead.

Happy-Last week, I participated in a Leadership seminar at school. For me, the return to school had to include being on campus. So, the second week of classes, I went to an Arts and Sciences reception and found out about a campus group that intrigued me. The next day, I met with the advisor and found out the criteria. My grades are not an issue, but getting a reference from an instructor could have been difficult.

Enter my Issues in Music prof, who wrote a very nice recommendation. Then I had to complete an application packet and write an essay detailing why I should belong to this select group. Yesterday, I had a panel interview that went well. I left it feeling that I gave them the best of me, that if they didn't choose me, then I wasn't the right candidate.

Tonight's email held a congratulations email. In a sense, it will be an opportunity to give back to the school, while also gaining valuable skills and connections. The only thing that could make me happier about the college experience would be to be invited into Phi Beta Kappa. All in good time...

Harried-I missed an on campus class today, in favor of training. Even if the class were not my favorite, I'd rather have been in school. Ah, it's only one week I'm missing, because the schedule is flexible for this assignment.

Training is interesting. The materials are poor and convoluted, the instructor isn't effective at explaining what she knows when the inevitable questions arise and the best thing about it is the people sitting on either side of me. It was somewhat flattering that one of the guys I worked with last spring came to me this afternoon to ask if I'd spend lunch time tomorrow answering his questions, since I understand this stuff.

Juggling school work, family time, cooking and a full time job is something that could fail miserably, but I think I've got a handle on things. I just make sure I am working on reading or an assignment when the training class is lagging and as soon as the kids are in bed.

I will say this-I bought a Crock Pot cookbook a few years back and never really delved into it. Now's the time to make sure there are a few decent recipes to try over the next couple of weeks.

There is a lot more to the harried, but that is a post for another day. Sleep beckons.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It Was Either This or Fall Asleep in Training Class

I enjoy learning new things, except for when someone is reading a training manual to me verbatim. It's boring and is a quick way to lose the interest of the students. Especially when the trainer asks "Am I going too fast?" and the majority of us are reading ahead because the pace is so plodding.

It wasn't just me. I think we all take frequent bathroom breaks so that none of us actually falls asleep and starts snoring during the process. At least last time, my boss was humorous, reading in various accents and funny voices. It livened things up much more than this one has been.

One of the items in our bag of materials was a huge box of rubber bands. This morning, it was a round of hang man, then tic tac toe, but the afternoon session? I cracked out the box and started playing with the rubber bands.

I was smart. I didn't put them all in the ball today. After all, training is a week long!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back To Work!

This time, it's supposed to be a four to six week assignment. However, I've learned-take whatever time frame given and cut it in half. A week of training and two, maybe three weeks of work.

Today was interesting, with waterlogged training manuals, a trainer who took way too many phone calls, a suggested drinking game at the phrase stated over and over and over "Sorry, guys, I have to take this one" while her 13 year old daughter called repeatedly and the wish for an IV drip of coffee to keep me awake while enduring the boring reading to us. (I hate the fact that I'll miss the Wednesday morning class that I really like, all so I can endure more of this excitement!)

Then, school. Yes, it's going to be hectic for a few weeks, juggling all that is going on. Somehow, in all of this, I need to find time to check out the assisted living facilities that Jane wants to visit, cook, clean and spend time with the kids.

Somehow, I'll get it all figured out.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

Lately, there have been a lot of passings of musicians, and it causes me to stop and ponder why their deaths affect me so much more than when a favorite actor passes away.

The genres are both very public, acting and music making. There's a huge difference, though. Where you can watch a movie over and over and be captivated by a performance like James Dean's in Rebel Without a Cause, there are only so many times you can watch it. Songs, on the other hand, are a few minute embodiment of a musician's heart and soul that you can play dozens of time in the same span you would view that one movie. A movie can draw you in, but it's rare that the scenes reflect your life so completely, the way the words set to music sometimes do.

So, when a great musician passes, it tends to affect me much more. The recent release of Rock Band: Beatles and airing of the memorial concert to honor George Harrison on VH-1 just makes me miss the Quiet Beatle even more.

Then, this week's passing of Mary Travers makes me realize that all the musicians that created songs that formed my appreciation for good music are moving on to the great gig in the sky. We still have their songs like "Leaving On a Jet Plane" to remember them by, but the wistfulness and longing in the song just seem that much more real now.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Give Me Markers and What Do You Get?

I'm enjoying my classes, especially the ones where I have live lectures. (It will suck that I miss a class this week for training. Boo!).

The counseling class has been chock a block with self evaluations, which I happen to like. Several of you helped me complete my Johari Window, and I thank you for taking the time to describe me with a few words.

The assignment was interesting. To me, the fact that only one word was left in my facade (what I see that others don't) reinforces that I'm an open book. Then there were all the words used to describe me that I hadn't considered! No, nothing bad in all of them. Sweet.

In class, we were given a page to artistically represent the self others see, then the backside was the self we don't share. Give me markers and I go nuts, so this was my representation:

Anyone want to interpret?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thank You, Michael Proietti

This last season of Next Food Network Star had the contestants complete a burger challenge. Several of the contenders looked interesting, but the ultimate winner had me wanting to dive through the TV and grab that Mulberry Street Burger for an evening snack.

Of course, never one to follow a recipe to the exact specifications when it can be monkeyed with, I made some burgers inspired by Michael Proietti's winning entry.

I started by adding garlic and onion powder to my ground beef and made several very flat patties. Then, instead of Michael's basil leaves, I made a nice basil pesto.
Taking two patties, one is placed on the bottom and spread with pesto, topped with mozzarella and then a second patty, then sealed together.

Nothing beats a cast iron skillet for putting a good char on a burger, and I put down some sliced onions, too. When it was time for the flip, I scattered the onions around, then put a folded slice of ham atop them. After flipping, the ham and the burger got topped with more mozzarella and covered with a lid.

The final touch was toasting a bun, then putting a layer of pesto on the bottom.

So, thank you, Michael Proietti, for giving me the inspiration to take a detour off Mulberry Street. This burger was such a hit earlier in the week that I had to make it again!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Notes From the Sandwich Generation

The past month has made it abundantly clear that Ed and I are living the Sandwich Generation life. Yes, it could be argued that I did when my Mom was ill, or that he and I have been pretty much since Jane and Mom moved to Florida. That was nothing compared to now.

It began when Jane was in the hospital and Michael went home. We needed to make sure Mom was eating, taking her medication and generally was okay. Then she had the seizure and another hospital stay and no rehab. Jane would be coming home a few days later.

Ed's taken on medicine duties morning and night, because his mom doesn't remember what she's taken and when. I do my best to cook 4 or 5 nights a week. Last Sunday, I asked Jane what she wanted for dinner and I was told that they had plenty of leftovers for a few days.

Few to me means 3, maybe four, but the next night, as I'm halfway to scouts, I get the frantic phone call "when are you bringing dinner?" She'd run out of food, misjudging what was in the fridge. On the way home, a detour to grab food through a drive through that they shouldn't be eating.

Then there is the scramble to make sure medications are filled and then not being able to find scripts when the time comes to get more. The frantic phone calls from Jane saying "Oh my God, I am going to run out of medicines." Frustration on my part because I feel like I should have kept the darn prescriptions because both of them have gotten so forgetful.

I'll get phone calls early in the morning to tell me they're ready for a doctor's appointment, but my ringer was on silent from the class the night before. Calling back at noon to break the news that no, that appointment is THURSDAY, today is Tuesday. The disappointment in Jane's voice that she was dressed up with no place to go. I feel guilt and offer of taking them to Panera so they can get outside, even though I've got a long list of things I need to be doing. I do them all in an hour because I spent three hours between getting to their house, getting them in the car, getting to the restaurant, shuffling mom, then Jane, into the place and getting them situated. Then reversing it all when we're done.

Having to keep Game Teen away from their house because Mema just doesn't understand that Asperger's is something he's born with. Knowing that if he's there, she'll just antagonize the kid. Running errands for them and leaving him at home, because I can't risk an hour of him in Mema's company.

Taking them to the doctor and knowing what he's going to say, but Mom and Jane hold out hopes that he's going to think I'm over reacting. Feeling bad that first Jane is upset at his unequivocal agreement that she should NOT be driving at all, but relief at the same time that I won't have to someday go to the hospital or, worse yet, the jail, because she had another accident but hurt more than her car.

Having to ask the doctor about Mom's diagnosed dementia that no one at the hospital addressed with her OR us. While I'm explaining to him how the nurse said "well, she has dementia" as if this was a known diagnosis, and watching her face as she realizes that he is agreeing, she DOES have it and offering his suggestion of seeing a neurologist who can give better treatment options.

Knowing that major decisions, like choosing a Medicaid provider, is not one to let Mom make on her own ever again, because she went for the cheapest (and thus, crappiest) plan because she didn't want to pay. In turn, they provide almost no coverage and she pays through the nose for her prescriptions and hospital stays.

I am freaking out a little that I return to work Monday, and wondering how the hell the little things are going to get done, what phone calls am I going to get during the day and what happens when (not if) Jane goes back into the hospital, if Mom falls because she doesn't use the walker properly or any number of things that can happen.

Dealing with the impending move to Assisted Living, relieved that Mom agrees they need to go. Looking at the house full of stuff that they can't take with them and knowing it's up to me and Ed to clear it all out, because neither one of them is capable of doing the work. Explaining to Jane that we need to clear out the spare bedroom first and then, the things they will take will go into it. If it doesn't fit in that room, it will not be kept. Wishing that it could be a salaried, full time job to do the task, because that's the only way I see it getting done.

Trying to find the time within the day between work, school, scouts and family tie to get to the various Assisted Living residences. Finding time to visit the financial people at their bank to inquire about what my landlord suggested so that they can keep the house. Hoping they agree to my suggestion that if they keep the house, we can move in and pay them rent.

Letting someone cope with the news by going off by herself to grocery shop, then picking her up to find that she's barely done her shopping and what she has is picked out a dozen cans of soup, five big bags of candy and bakery trays of cookies. Get her home in time for her physical therapy appointment and sneak off the five bags of candy with Ed's mom. Then get chastised by the physical therapist that I let her stay out w/o oxygen. Feel like I have to learn how long a tank of oxygen lasts and make sure we have double what I think she needs, because every time I take them out, it will take about twice what I expect.

Thankful at the end of the day that I can finally take a Vicodin for the shoulder that has been throbbing all day, only to find it's not working on the shoulder because I ignored my own needs in favor of those who have more pressing issues.

Wondering whether the merry go round is about to go faster or if it might slow down...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What's For Dinner Wednesday

For years, an online friend spoke of making Pernil, a Puerto Rican dish. She had four healthy boys who liked to eat, her husband is Puerto Rican and well, she always told how it was good for feeding the masses. It sounded tempting, but the cook it all day long thing? I wasn't keen on that when I was working.

A few nights ago, I made my Gyro loaf again at Jane's request and I put it on my Facebook status. Sherry commented "send me some!" and the reply was prompt: if you send me some Pernil, I'll send you some Gyro. A deal was struck.

My memory jogged, I googled Pernil to see spices and preparation I had to do to the pork shoulder and was surprised to find how simple it was. Make a rub, possibly let it marinate for a day or two (I didn't, but will next time), then roast low and slow for hours.

Now I'm kicking myself that I didn't try this sooner. The meat falls off the bone and is tender and juicy. I am also kicking myself that somehow, the four pound roast is what made it into the cart, not the eight pounder. That won't happen again.

I want to see what Ed's take on this is. He hates pork chops but generally likes all things pork. I suspect this will be a hit and that I won't have leftovers.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Suzanne's Very Crazy, Busy Day

Started with me sleeping until noon-but I had a TON of stuff to do!

Then, I realized I never took my cell phone off 'silent' when I left class last night.

So, a nearly 3 hour trip to Panera later, baking mini cupcakes, making dip, mini caramel apples and setting up, we had a Boy Scout board of review.

Oh, and in there somewhere, I think I got a professor in some hot water.

Now, I have a paper due in 40 minutes. AAAAAACCCCCCKKKKKKKK!

I'll fill in details AFTER I write 500 words on my favorite childhood book. As is typical, I had a hard time picking just one, but I kept coming back to the same one, Sydney Taylor's All of a Kind Family. It put me on a path for further exploration. You could say that the love for the Faye Kellerman Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus series seed was planted with this series...

ETA: Since I said I would tell, and Lou asked, I sorta got a Prof in hot water. Here's the Reader's Digest version:

Web based class. The instructor never communicates with class, not by email, phone or via the Blackboard discussion bpard. She wrote four discussion board posts to say 'welcome to my class' the first week, as replies to specific students, then nothing until some classmates contacted their advisors. There are numerous discrepancies in the syllabus and assignment tabs on Blackboard (due dates do not match, etc)

Apparently, someone contacted her. She wrote an extremely nasty discussion board post which blasted all 40 or so students that turned in the first assignment for what one student submitted. She disappeared again. Anpther assignment was due, then the means to submit it was taken down, but the syllabus states if you email it to her, you'll receive a zero.

She didn't respond to emails (at least a dozen that I know of, there may have been more). Another week goes by without any contact and many posts/emails about some pretty major issues. We still had no responses. Several students call their advisors, but I called her department chair (figuring he's the one who hired her).

The department chair left me a fantastic voice mail. In it, he states he forwarded my voice mail to the person who handles these issues on my campus. Dr. T called me, and starts off by saying 'she's new and may not be familiar with Blackboard'. Nope, the three Universities she listed as teaching courses all have Blackboard. Dr. T speaks of glitches in Blackboard since a summer upgrade and I politely list the glitches that I've seen since said upgrades in my four web classes. How do you explain the lack of response to emails, since that has never been an issue with the upgrades?

There are a few more things involved that led me to apply corporate world thinking to academia, but in a nutshell, she's in trouble for not providing students with a course that meets USF standards...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Madness

If I haven't mentioned it, one of the advantages to becoming a college student again is that I have the ability to purchase health insurance. As soon as I was dispersed my grants for the semester, I paid up. I am once again insured.

As I haven't seen any doctors for nearly 18 months, it was time to start scheduling appointments. A neurologist to find out whether the RSD has spread. Another doctor for a checkup and an annoying issue that runs in the family. Soon, an appointment with Nurse M to do a baseline, since I haven't seen her in a while.

SSDI is of the mind that if you're not seeing doctors, you can't be that bad health wise and denies the claim. Never mind the fact that I'm hurting and don't have the funds to see my doctors.

So, the neurologist is scheduled-for mid October. The other doctor's appointment seemed too good to be true: I called Thursday and was offered an appointment for this morning. "Are you sure?", I asked. Yes, was the reply. 9:45, in the same building that I see Nurse M. One hour from home.

I arrive at 9:35, give my car to the valet and head to a different floor and wait 10 minutes for a receptionist to check me. My insurance card has not arrived, but I had my confirmation of insurance. This caused a little trouble, I offered to self pay and await reimbursement, but they 'don't like to do that.' I was sent to chairs and told that someone would call me. No new patient paperwork was offered. Weird. I would have asked, but she walked away from the desk.

Twenty minutes later, I get called over. They've checked with USF's student insurance, have my information, and she hands me a new patient pack to complete. I'm about 3/4 complete when I get called again. She apologizes, but it seems that my appointment with the one doctor was bumped on Friday when they realized that Dr. Mc was overbooked, and I was scheduled with Dr. M a HALF HOUR EARLIER. No one bothered to call me.

It's now 10:20-ish, a full hour after the time I didn't know I was scheduled and I'm told that Dr. M is also overbooked, so they have to reschedule me. I really couldn't go off on the receptionist, she was the messenger, but I mention that I live an hour away, I could have spent this time more wisely (studying for a test that's tonight) and asked why no one called.

See, this physician's group has a lovely automated phone system that calls to remind you of appointments two to three days prior (Game Teen's usually are three days ahead, mine with Nurse M would be about 2 days ahead). I think the doofus that rescheduled me and didn't call assumed the automated system would do it. Nope.

Since I was there and on a different floor, I decided to visit Vascular. (I saw RFKATGBA and she nodded and said hello-and smiled!) I spoke on the phone with Nurse M, since she wasn't seeing patients and she was stunned that they made the mistake and didn't squeeze me in. She kept saying over and over "We ALWAYS squeeze patients in, no matter what."

I guess the difference is that her patients can have life threatening issues and I was going for a routine exam with an additional medical concern in another department. I can't say I haven't had issues elsewhere in the system, but it's a little annoying that a change was made, but they can't find the time to call a patient.

The sad part? Every reception counter in the building has a little standee with cards, "We want you to give us a report card on today's visit". Yeah, so not getting a good grade.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

It's interesting how songs you learned when you were very little stay in your head and pop out of the depths, dust the cobwebs off and bounce around all day long. Today's musical selection might run around yours, too.

See, someone mentioned elephants. Someone else mentioned monkeys, and I was off to the Animal Fair. Of course, I googled it, but the version I found must be a British one (judging from the accents of the singers) and the words were slightly different.

The one I learned:
I went to the animal fair
the birds and beasts were there
the big baboon, by the light of the moon, was stroking his auburn hair
the monkey he got drunk
and sat on the elephant's trunk
the elephant sneezed, and fell to his knees
and that was the end of the monk, the monk, the monk.

But the British version?
I went to the Animal Fair
The birds and beasts were there
The big baboon, by the light of the moon, was combing his auburn hair
You ought to have seen the monk
He sat on the elephant's trunk
the elephant sneezed and fell to his knees
and what became of the monk, the monk the monk?

(I guess you can't talk of drunk monkeys or dying monkeys outside the US!)

Here's my version:

Now the monkey can run around your brain, too!


Yeah, I know, they look like Iced Tea. My preferred rum is Bacardi Select, so they don't look like the Mojitos you find at your local bar.

Don't be hatin'.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Every Picture Tells a Story

As far as future shutterbugs go, Chef Jr has really picked up on my love of being behind the lens. Game Teen, well, if you give him a camera, he'll use it-but he doesn't seek one out.

We knew a long time ago that he had a different perspective on things. When a coworker handed both boys disposable cameras to use on our vacation at Walt Disney World (the infamous 'blizzard' trip), you could tell what pictures were taken by each child. Game Teen showed signs of being a very good private investigator, taking pictures on the sly. There were many pictures taken of unsuspecting park patrons.

Chef appeared to be displaying our family's warped sense of humor, taking a picture of a souvie cart that had upended itself on the trolley rails while we awaited the 3:00 parade (which does start at 3pm, if you were wondering) and took pictures of several goat butts while we were at the Affection Section. This earned him the nickname "Chef Jr, Pet Proctologist".

Several times over the years, Game Teen has taken a camera to an event, but we had to ask if he'd like to do so. When the opportunity presented itself to once again attend our Boy Scout district's merit badge academy, I listed his options and was somewhat surprised at his choice-Photography. It seemed more likely that he'd choose Emergency Preparedness or Fire Safety, since these are badges he's mentioned he'd like to complete.

This morning, I drove him to a church and sent him off on his way with Donna's camera, but not before giving him a brief tutorial on how to change the picture modes. That's all you need with this kid when it's something he is interested in. (If only we could get such retention skills on the things he needs to do!)

He gained a lot out of the two hours in the class, and around the building while taking pictures. The scouts were informed that first and foremost, they want their pictures to tell a story. That's what Game Teen reported, that's what his pictures told.

My favorite picture of the day, though, is the first one the instructor asked the boys to take-one of themselves:
It's hard to get good pictures of the kid when I take them, because the red eye reducer makes him do a bug eye thing between the second and third pulse.

Perhaps I should just have him do self portraits!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Winner Winner, $500 Wal Mart Gift Card Winner!

The time has come to announce the lucky winner of the $500 WalMart Gift Card, so they can do a Your Zone makeover of their very own!

Are you ready?
Thank you to everyone who participated in the contest. Big thank you to WalMart for giving us the opportunity to redo the room and take the new product line for a test drive!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back to the Flats!

We live about halfway between Tampa and Orlando. What this means for us is that when we get a taste for certain restaurants or stores, we have to drive 30 miles or more east or west to dine in favorite establishments.

When we visit those favorite places, if we get a table visit from a manager, I freely cop to asking "So, when are you going to open in Lakeland?" It always gets a laugh and several times, we've become privy to information earlier than is posted on websites about future expansion plans. For instance, we knew Ritas Ices and Buffalo Wild Wings had their sights set on our town before they published the info. (I don't think that info is on BW3's site yet)

Since we've moved, each time we visited a Tijuana Flats, we'd ask the question. About six months ago, someone gave us the answer we wanted to hear, that Lakeland would soon have a Flats.

It opened recently, but it's not convenient to us, so we hadn't had the chance to go until Monday-and it was CLOSED! So, this was gnawing at Ed until today, his day off-and we dined there tonight.


Once again, Chef Junior not only ate his food, he tried to steal mine (Flautas, yum). Once again, we got extra queso and had to restrain ourselves from licking the cup. Once again, we perused the variety of hot sauces and had to pick just one or two to put on our food.

But this time, we didn't have to ask "When are you coming to Lakeland?". Instead, the manager types at the table nearby asked us how we were enjoying and we got to say what we always do when encountering the happy first time visit to the new locale, "THANK YOU for coming to Lakeland!"

Now, do you think we should start the campaign for Pizzeria Uno to follow our other favorites?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

What's For Dinner Wednesday

I mentioned making a huge batch of that favorite marinade the other day. The chicken has been soaking in for two days!

Tonight, I went simple and grilled some of the marinated chicken tenderloins, made a rice pilaf and nuked some broccoli.

I'm thinking some nice asian chicken salad for lunch tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

I Won an Award!

One of the lovely ladies vying for that $500 Wal Mart gift card has honored me with the Kreativ Blogger Award! Thanks, Baba, especially since I've been running around all day and didn't get to a blog post until now. LOL!

There are a few rules for receiving the award:
1. Place the logo on the blog.
2. Link to the person who nominated the blog for this award.
3. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
4. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
5. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
6. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

It's a good thing it's not seven things you don't already know about me, otherwise, I'd be scraping the bottom of the barrel! Instead, things that people find interesting!

1. I'm a lefty and both my boys are left handed, too. It makes it us very unusual around the dinner table and will make it interesting if Ed teaches either one to play guitar.

2. If you tell me your birthday, it will usually stick in my head and I'll remind people it's your birthday. That doesn't work with reading it, the person has to tell me. The best was when I'd call my old boss up in Virginia to remind her to wish William, the most awesome UPS driver who delivered to the mall, a happy birthday each year after I moved!

3. I like peas, but not pea soup. I love olive oil, but not olives. Don't offer me eggs in a form that I can tell they're eggs, but it's hard to bake without them.

4. Hi, my name is Suzanne and I have a magic marker obsession. There's a tub in my bedroom with probably 100 markers and there would be more if I had my way. Life is meant to be colorful, right?

5. I'm living a dream right now, in that I'm back in college. If I had my way, I'd be a student forever. The classes so far have just spurred me to read far more than I am required for each subject.

6. I am horrible at most sports, but back in the day, I was a cut throat deck hockey player. I was also a pretty good soccer player. Those days are gone.

7. When we were trying to find similarities in my counseling class, one person asked how many of us were the oldest, youngest, then middle. I had to explain that I'm an oldest and a middle. This meant I had different attitudes from the parents when I'd ask to do something. (all else fails, ask Mom-then borrow the money from Dad and tell him Mom already said yes!)

Let's see, who do I tag? I need a moment to figure that one out. Okay, I pick...

1 Joyce-because she's been strangely light on the MeMe front, is deserving of an award and especially now that two of the three kids are back in school, actually has TIME to blog again.
2. Songbird, because she's become a really good friend that I've never met in person. It'll happen. I find it cool that she's taken so well to this blogging thing.
3. Wobin-I love it when she writes something new, worry when she doesn't and wish she still lived here in Florida.
4. Grandy-One of the best things that came out of NaBloPoMo is meeting this lovely lady via her blog. She has such a great sense of humor.
5. LouCeeL-Joyce pointed me towards Lou's blog, and he is a true renaissance man. One of the bummers of not getting to Chicago for BlogHer is that I didn't get to meet him and get one of those world famous hugs. Next year, right?
6.Vixen-I don't check in on this wonderful lady nearly as much as I should, but she's another sweetie who handles life's lemons with grace and class.
7. YOU! If you're a blogger, you are hereby awarded this because consistently blogging? It's work, and I appreciate it!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

You may have noticed that I haven't written about the health issues a lot over the past year. The problems I have are still here, still troublesome, but they've become the norm-so I don't talk about them much.

The foot issue was mentioned last month, but there's another problem that cropped up before that did-my right shoulder. I've had issues off and on for years with my neck and shoulders, usually when I am stressed, one or the other will spasm. This is usually accompanied by a huge knot just under my shoulder.

For nearly two months, my right shoulder has been giving me grief. The pain is similar to those spasms, but different because this time, the upper arm is affected. There is no knot.

When you tune out pain, gradual increases aren't so noticeable. It had been a problem for a while when I went to go choose my backpack for school, because I'd even commented to Ed that the only good thing about doing it that day was that my neck and shoulder were bad, so I could determine which bag would be best when (not if) that problem arose.

It wasn't until yesterday that it came to a head. I had run errands both Saturday and Sunday, culminating with grocery shopping for Mom and Jane. Thankfully, I had Chef with me, because the trip through the store was hard. Very hard. Lifting my arm higher than my chest hurt. Grabbing anything from over my head was the worst, but I had to suck it up and do it, they needed the diet brown liquid and aardvark (diet, please) that were on the list.

It resulted in doing something I haven't done since the first week of April, 2008.

I took a Vicodin.

Yes, I raised the white flag, the pain has won.

The good news is that one of the advantages of being a college student is that I have access to a good health insurance plan. Many of my doctors are in the employ of my college, so I can see them without a copay. The neurologist I was seeing? He went off on his own two years ago to develop the RSD/CRPS Institute. Fortunately, one phone call to Nurse M and I have the name of someone to see.

I'm making the appointment as soon as the offices open tomorrow.

If I can hold out and be the 2% girl a little while longer, the knot in my foot and the shoulder pain are not the RSD spreading. (More like 20-30% girl, because almost 80% of us with RSD experience a spread of affected areas) This time, I suspect I'm just one of the crowd.

I wish I could end this with something witty, but for now, all I can say is OWWWWWWWW.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

One of the things I've been enjoying about Facebook is how I've reconnected with many of my fellow on air staff from the college radio station, WHPC 90.3fm (Long Island's FM Alternative, if you must know). Many of my peers went on to careers in radio and television production. All of us grew up with a love for radio and living in the shadow of New York City, got to enjoy some of the best radio that can be found.

A guy whose time at 'HPC briefly overlapped mine has been posting You Tube videos one of his friends has made of top 40 45's spinning on a turntable. I am dying, because I want that Technics SLBD-2 soooo bad! Anyway, the songs are a walk down memory lane, one where the songs themselves are old friends, but the listening brings back some great memories of youth-and of the disc jockeys that spun them while they climbed the charts.

I've spoken of the Sunday morning ritual of my dad taking my sister and I down to Jones Beach in the pre dawn hours, and we'd set up Dad's sand chair, a blanket and my radio. Had to have my radio, and it would be tuned to WABC am, so that I wouldn't miss American Top 40.

So, many of the songs that I'm watching on that turntable remind me of laying on the beach when I'd hear Casey Kasem talk about them. And so it was for John Lennon's "Watching the Wheels" the summer after he passed.

Other songs that stick out for being heard on the beach over the years are gems like "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Dream Weaver", "Silly Love Songs", "Love Will Keep Us Together", "Love Will Find a Way" and "MacArthur Park".

Interwoven with all the beach memories, are the countless hours riding my bicycle with the radio clipped into the carrier on the back, hearing such notables as Dan Ingram, Harry Harrison, Ron Lundy and the other jocks of ABC spin songs and ask for the 100th caller to win some fantastic prize.

Those experiences made being a disc jockey seem like an incredible job and for years, I followed that path. At the time, I didn't realize that the variety of stations we had in the listening area of NYC is not the norm, that the radio of that time was very special and wouldn't be there forever.

Then again, someone can spin one song on a disc jockey's turntable and put it on You Tube and bring it all right back...

Saturday, September 05, 2009

A Winning Marinade Recipe

Is one that the family likes so much, you make two quart batches of it!
This is not a refreshing drink, this is my latest batch of the Sweet Chili marinade I came up with a couple of months ago to use on chicken legs. Since then, it has been used on boneless breasts, fried wings and pork chops.

I started making enough to use once, but the last trip to the Asian market, I decided that it made sense to buy two bottles of the key ingredient and then make a ton of the stuff to have on hand for whatever is needed.

Now I need to restock the rest of the ingredients, because I wiped out the pantry tonight!

ETA-I meant to put the recipe up, and forgot. Those of you on Facebook have seen in in my notes, so don't worry that this is something new.

Sweet Chili Sauce Marinade

2/3 cup sweet chili sauce (my local Asian Market carries May Ploy)
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sesame oil

I'm going to try adding a tablespoon of fresh minced ginger to the next batch and see how it comes out...

Friday, September 04, 2009


I have my first assignment for one of my classes due at midnight tonight.

This instructor (web course) already has not endeared herself to me, because the stock answer to everyone who stated that we're leery of group projects is "Well, you need to learn how to work in groups because you will in the real world." Problem is, everyone stating it explained how they've worked for many years and are now returning to college. We KNOW how to work in groups, but there's a big difference between no work, no pay in the real world and the classroom group project.

Soooo, tonight's project? There's a 4 step process for determining an ethical dilemma and how to prevent things from happening.

I have to determine Abridged Rights and Neglected Duties. Only problem is that they are not addressed in the two videos or chapter of the text that relate to the topic (and the reading really isn't part of this week's assignment, anyway).

It sucks when I don't have the right information available and can't find it in the course materials!

Wish me luck.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Woohoo, Friends in Florida!

Joyce, Tim and the kids are over at WDW for this week before school starts in NY. Of course, this means we got both families together for dinner, conversation and some birthday cake.

We've been checking out the various DVC properties at Walt Disney World one by one, thanks to our various friends coming to visit over the years. This time, the Boardwalk-and a looooooooooong walk from the lobby to their rooms. That said, the DVC accommodations over at Boardwalk seem bigger than Saratoga Springs or the Beach Club Villas.

Last year, when they came over to Lakeland to spend time with us, we ended up at Smokey Bones. It had made such an impression on Tim that last month, he wanted to know what the name of the place was and if we dined together over by us or near WDW. (We alternate between going to see them or them coming out to our place). A couple of weeks ago, we passed by a location in Kissimmee and I passed that information on to Joyce. Works for us-we like 'que.

Their kids have gotten huge! It's funny how when you only see little ones once or twice a year how each time they just seem to have changed so much. I like taking pictures each time, because it's like a growth chart of a sort.

It will be cool to look back on some entertainment from the evening. I let their son play with my Flip and he appears to be a budding videographer. All I know is that my kids were in the car watching what he'd taped during dinner and were cracking up. I think that the dude has picked up a lot of his dad's wit.

I'll cull through pictures and video in the morning to see if I can add anything that can be shared.

I will share this - we ended the evening with a nice birthday for 'computer kid' (I think that's the nickname Joyce uses for him). They'll be on the road home on his birthday, so we enjoyed a cake tonight. Happy Birthday, Dude!

Thanks for the evening together, guys. We look forward to these visits!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

When's It Over Wednesday

This has been one long, frustrating day.

It didn't start so bad. Wednesdays, since Game Teen's school is on the way to college, I let us sleep an hour and a half later, then drive him to school. Yes, it gets me on campus early, but I like having that time to do a last minute check of Blackboard and checking emails from overnight.

My class went well. We have organized our groups to do a semester long service learning project. This is cool on a couple of fronts. First, we all agreed we wanted to do a project that benefits kids, but the second is that one of my team mates is in my Monday night class. After class, I popped in to visit my advisor and ask a question, and we ended up chatting for a half hour. (I think I like this small campus benefit!)

The afternoon agenda was to take Game Teen to find shorts that fit for school and get the tires changed on my car and some dinner fixings at Sam's Club.

Instead, I got caught up in the hospital BS because Jane got released. She really shouldn't have been released home, but has no more rehabilitation center days left to use. This bore out when we spent twenty minutes with her unable to stand after trying to get out of the van.

I can't lift her due to various issues that have emerged. Eventually, the only option was that I was going to call 911-and she somehow was able to get herself into the house.

There's more to it than that, but the game plan for the day involved being done with my errands by about 4pm and make a decent dinner for WFDW. Instead, I was dealing with other people's stuff until six, and then had to venture out for my tires much later than I wanted.

Instead of the Corfu Chicken idea I wanted to play with, my dinner was this:

I think it's time for bed...

Hey, Bloggers! You Want To Win a $500. Wal Mart Gift Card?

There's still some time to enter my contest!

We recently did a room makeover, thanks to the generous folks at WalMart, and my gosh, Chef's room is STILL CLEAN!!!!! Talk about motivation to get your kid to keep things tidy, lol.

Oh, and we found the Tiki String lights we bought to go with all the Polynesian resort furniture we had originally bought Chef from Mouse Surplus. They're hanging from the frame of that loft bed. It's too cool.

So, what are you waiting for? Write a blog post about the contest, check you WalMart's Your Zone products and you might have a chance to go shopping!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Local Hospital Must Have a Revolving Door

Because Jane is in the hospital.


This time, she has cellulitis. It's a scary infection, but worse when you factor in all her other health issues. She had the good sense to call an ambulance when she could not stand yesterday morning.

Meanwhile, we didn't get a phone call. I didn't find out until I stopped in at their house on the way to class at 4:30. Ed's mom's dementia is apparent, because she insisted that she stood there as Jane called me (nope, didn't happen) and insisted that Jane's been in the hospital three days. "Sorry, Mom, she was here when Ed stopped in LAST NIGHT." I am now convinced that every time she takes a nap, she believes another day has passed.

So, once again, we deal with the hospital insanity.

I guess it's a good thing that I hadn't made any appointments for both of us to visit the Assisted Living facilities that they are interested in viewing. That task will now be on hold until Jane gets out of the hospital. When Ed had cellulitis, he dodged a hospital stay, but was out of work for about a month-and he's a reasonably healthy guy. We have no idea what kind of recovery time can be expected with Jane's issues.

All I can say is it's never boring around here...