Rainfall and Slow Down

I’m making it a long weekend.

All of the kids will be home by tomorrow night and spending the weekend. We’re celebrating birthdays. Brad’s 25th was in March, Jake’s 23rd in April, and Kacey’s 21st  is coming up here in May. Geeze, how can my kids be getting so old when I’m still such a spring chicken?  ;-) Both boys, when asked how and when they wanted to celebrate, seemed embarrassed at the thought we might still celebrate their birthdays! But both were agreeable to celebrating the next time we were all together. So here we are. And while we’re at it, we’ll add Mark’s and my 26th wedding anniversary, which was yesterday, to the reasons to celebrate.

I’m thinking of making it a breakfast party on Saturday morning. I typically eat a responsible breakfast, like oatmeal and a banana, or yogurt and blueberries. But when it’s a kids-at-home weekend, all diets are off. Everyone seems to love when I make a big, old-fashioned breakfast. Waffles, pancakes, eggs, sausage, and/or bacon are all welcomed at these meals. I think I’ll try to find some fun breakfast recipes for Saturday morning’s birthday breakfast.

Oh, and my mom and dad just celebrated fifty years of marriage! We’ll be celebrating that too, on Sunday with a family brunch at a local restaurant.

Besides having a chance to get things done at home, I’m grateful for the break from work. I love my job, but the pace has been frantic lately. I said to one friend/associate that I felt like I hadn’t seen or talked to her in days, even though her desk is only a few yards away from mine. She agreed, saying there has been an uptight atmosphere around the office lately. Good things are happening all around, but there never seems to be enough hours in the day to do all that needs doing. Most recently, my small department was brought in on an important pilot project that has given us the chance to help our parent company. We have a short window of time to do a lot of research, but it’s been fun and has also been extremely educational, giving us some new knowledge that will prove invaluable to the work we do with our own clients. Yesterday, I finished the main part of the work for which I was responsible. It feels good to take a break.

It’s been raining here since last Sunday, almost non-stop, and seriously heavy at times. The lack of sunlight is a little depressing, but at least the grass is greening up and colorful flowers are sure to be popping up around the neighborhood in the very near future. The back yard has become a marsh and I think Lucy is getting tired of squishing around in it, but the birds don’t mind getting wet. Last weekend, I could hear a Finch singing his heart out in the Maple tree out front. He was soon chased off by a pair of House Sparrows who proceeded to destroy a nest that had survived the winter in the tree. Meanies!

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It’s still raining and doesn’t look like it will be quitting before the weekend is over. I guess I don’t mind if it continues while I take a couple of days to prep for all the weekend activity. There’s an old saying, Make hay while the sun shines, but I’d rather play when the sun is around. I do my best work when it’s not.

Life is Good – April 30, 2010

Flowering Crabapple Tree in my front yard

Wow, the weeks pass by quickly, don’t they? I can’t believe it’s the end of April already. And what a week this has been. It started out a little rough on Monday when we realized it was time to say goodbye to our ailing 15-year-old cat, Holly. It’s funny, because I never considered myself a cat person. I never really wanted her to begin with. She just sort of landed in our lives and found a place in our hearts for 15 years. It was so hard to let her go, but knowing that doing so put an end to her suffering helps ease the pain a little bit. Tigger is a little confused. When he joined the family, he had to compete not only with Holly, but with our Springer Spaniel, Shelby. Now he’s the only one left and he’s trying to find his bearings.

Dogwood bush in our back yard

But life goes on, and it is still good.  It’s been a beautiful spring so far here. The flowering trees are in full bloom and the air is filled with their sweet scent.  The weather has been warm and mild and there has been plenty of sunshine. The warmth of the sun does wonders for me. I’m so glad it’s back! And as you can see from the photos posted here, I’m taking full advantage of the opportunity to use my camera to capture the beauty of all this new life springing up outdoors!

Hastas resurfacing under the deck after a long winter

Work is keeping me busy. There are plenty of challenges and lots of opportunity to exercise my brain and find a creative outlet. Every day when I look at the clock and realize it’s almost quitting time already, I find myself feeling grateful to have a job that fulfills me.

I had a nice day off this week on Thursday. I decided to start the day by browsing through the local tile shop since the kitchen remodel project is still in the works. Yeah, the big stuff is done and it’s operational, but there are still some finishing touches that need to be done. Mark is working on installing new trim work and crown molding. I still have to find some lights and some glass panels for one of the new cabinets. And the back splash needs to be done. Mark is going to tile it, so I went in search of the perfect tile. And I found it. The only thing I knew for sure is I wanted to incorporate glass tiles into it somehow. Wayne, the salesman at the tile shop took a look at my counter-top sample and pulled out some tiles for me to ponder. I loved them immediately and made my decision immediately. So that’s done. Who knows when Mark will get around to the actual tiling, but at least we’ll have all the supplies when he’s ready.

Another thing I accomplished was picking out a pretty good gift for Mark. Why? We’re celebrating 22 years of marriage today! Over the last few years, Mark has really surpassed me in the awesome gift department, but I think I got him this time.  Happy Anniversary, Honey!

And happy weekend to everyone else!

Life is Good – April 9, 2010

It was a tough week here. The news of Holly’s tumor kind of overshadowed everything else.

Things seemed so dire on Monday when we were given the diagnosis, and again on Wednesday when she was so sick, but she seemed to be okay by Thursday. I spent most of the day at home keeping an eye on her, and she seemed better. She ate some of her dry food and kept it down . I also bought her some canned cat food. (Iams Proactive Health brand food. Now there’s irony if I ever saw it.) I was  hoping that the canned food would sit better with her stomach and it did. I gave her a small amount to begin with and she woofed it down. Poor thing was hungry!

And yes, I know the poor cat is on the tail end of her ninth life, but I seriously think she’s taking advantage of me and my obvious sorrow over her impending passing. See, every single time I use the bathroom now, and I do mean every-single-ever-lovin’-time…whether it be to actually… you know… use the bathroom, or simply to grab a tissue or just wash my hands…suddenly there she is trying to look all forlorn and pitiful and weak.

And then she starts in on me. “MEOW! MEOW! Poor me! Pick me up, puh-leeze! You know I simply can’t make the leap up there to your lovely sink and I want to drink out of that faucet thingy where the water comes out all fresh and clean and has no hairs of other cats in it. And also, be sure not to turn it on too much. Just a trickle please. Thank you. That is lovely. You know I just can’t possibly drink out of that big, blue bowl full of water into which Tigger has been sticking his tongue. Eeeew. Cough! Cough!

Okay, so cats don’t actually cough, but the rest is very true, I’m pretty sure. And I’m totally letting her get away with it because I plan to spoil her rotten for the rest of her days, even if she might actually be milking it just a little bit.

So, while Holly and I hung out on my day off, I was also waiting for the appliance repair guy to come and tell me what was so wrong with my brand spanking new oven that it refused to heat up. Steve showed up in a timely fashion and went to work figuring out what the problem might be. First he checked to make sure the gas was on. (Duh!) And then he started taking pieces off of and out of the oven. He stuck tools inside and checked his little computer and such. I proceeded to fold laundry at the kitchen table, trying not to look like I was scrutinizing him too much as he worked down on the floor with his head in my oven. He seemed a nice enough guy. He didn’t try to steal my pot-holders or Tupperware from the cupboard near where he was working, so that was good. I’m telling you, you can trust those G.E. Appliance Experts!

Steve talked on and on, sometimes to himself and sometimes to me. And wouldn’t you know it, he pulled his head out of the oven and turned to look at me just as I pulled a pair of my string bikinis out of the basket of laundry I was folding. I stuffed them back in the basket and tried to look all like “Underwear? What underwear? No, we don’t have any underwear in our laundry, Heaven forbid! No underwear here! Those hot pink things? Yeah, those were socks. Totally socks.”

Steve was kind enough to pretend not to notice my hot pink underwear.

So, as Steve the G.E. Appliance Expert informed me, the problem was simply something called a glow bar. I pretended to know just what a glow bar was, because, quite frankly, I didn’t care as long as it got fixed or replaced. Steve said that glow bars are delicate parts and  it is quite common for them to be damaged during shipping. He replaced mine and then showed me it was working, all like “behold the flames!” I did my best job of looking impressed, all like, “Wow, look at that. Fire. I can cook now. Yay.”

I thanked him, and off he went to rescue yet another appliance. All in a day’s work for Super G.E. Appliance Expert Steve, I am quite sure.

And also, I’m sure you are asking yourself what these pictures have to do with anything I’ve written here so far. Well, if you would just be patient, I will tell you that the tulips are getting ready to bloom in the little garden underneath the crab-apple tree. I actually tried to get rid of all the tulips a few years ago, but some of the bulbs were all stealth-like and escaped their demise.  I don’t necessarily dislike tulips, but they are only pretty for like a week before they croak, and then you have to leave all the stems there until they sort of dry up and you can pull them off the bulbs. But now I’m just too lazy to remove the rest of them, so there you go. Pictures of spring in my front yard!

And also, Kacey has a volleyball tournament this weekend, and I think I am actually going to stay home! Because I have been a super-supportive volleyball mom and attended every single tournament so far. And this weekend, Mark is available to go with her, and it is a very local tournament, so I’m thinking I’ll just stay home and have a non-chaotic weekend for a change. But I haven’t told Mark yet that I’m bailing out and he gets to go solo this time, so Shhhhhhhh, okay?

Have a great weekend!

Finally Slept!

I finally slept last night. I totally laid off the caffeine yesterday, suspecting that may have been my problem Tuesday night. I was so tired on Tuesday that I drank a mocha and several cans of Diet Coke throughout the day. When I hit the sack that night, my eyes were burning with the tired, but I just couldn’t get them to close.  Last night, I could feel myself drifting off to sleep and it was effortless. I feel a million times better today.

I need to get back to being an early bird. I feel my best when I start my day early and get plenty of rest. I think it will help that spring has arrived. The cold and dark days of winter stress me out and depress me. No wonder all I want to do is sleep. Now that there is warmth and sunshine and color to look forward to, I can feel my whole being relaxing and taking things in stride again. I hope I’ll get back to my old self now.

Went to my once-every-three-weeks chiropractor appointment after work yesterday. A good adjustment always makes me feel better too. I like my chiropractor, Dr. Dave. He’s a cool guy. Did I ever mention that Dave is married to the sister-in-law of my coworker, B? I’ve been seeing Dave longer than I’ve known B, so I’m of the opinion that this makes this a small world situation!

B is one of those people who, let’s just say, you don’t want to be on her sh*t list. Lucky for me, B really likes me, but she’s got a reputation around the office for being a… well…a really big B! Dave knows what B is like, and he likes to ask me about her every time I see him. He’s always asking me to give him some goods on B so he can give her a hard time the next time he sees her. I love to hear Dave talk about the times he and his wife have gone out with B. He talks about a side of B that her coworkers don’t get to see; the side that really lets her hair down. I’ve had occasion to see this side of B once or twice, and I agree. She can be fun. Most of our coworkers wouldn’t believe it, but it’s true. I like B. I can brush off her harsh side and choose not to take it personally.

So. Anyway. (This is turning out to be a long story, isn’t it?) Remember the time I mentioned running into Dave and his wife at a local bar? I literally almost ran into them because the place was that crowded. A popular local band was playing and there was barely room to stand much less sit. As I made my way to the bar to buy a drink, I just missed slamming into Dave and the little woman playing kissy-face right there in the middle of the bar. Ever since, Dave will periodically suggest that we all get together at that same bar. A lot of good bands play there and it’s a fun place to hang out. I never take Dave’s suggestions too seriously though as he never gives a specific date or time. I always just kind of laugh that he seems to have some sort of new-found respect for me because he apparently never saw me as one to go out to a bar and whoop it up. Anyway… (again, with the “anyway”) Yesterday, as Dave was making fun of B and talking about what fun she is to go out with, he again said, “We’ve got to all go out one of these days. We’ll get B and her husband to join us. Let’s go to that same bar. It’ll be a blast!” This time he didn’t let me leave the office without a promise to make it happen, so I agreed I’d take it seriously this time and plan a date. Mark really thinks Dave is a great guy, so he’s all over this, but I just think there’s something strange about socializing with your medical professionals. There are the people you go out with and drink with and let see you make a fool of yourself when you go just a little bit overboard. And then there are the people who have seen x-rays of your innermost parts. It just seems strange to mix them in the same company. I don’t know. Maybe I’m like the little kid who is shocked to see her teacher in the grocery store because she always thought that teachers were always just teachers and not real people.

Could be interesting. It should make an interesting blog post, to say the least!

The big excitement for today is that I got the stitches removed from my head, THANK GOD! They were driving me nuts with the pinching and itching. I’m such a wuss. I was seriously afraid that it would hurt to get them removed, but I didn’t even feel a thing. My doctor is a very laid back and friendly guy, so the conversation was casual. He made a comment about his daughter being married now, which surprised me, because when I first started seeing him, his daughter was a little girl. I remarked how I couldn’t believe she was married, but it made sense, I guess, because I started seeing him when I was pregnant with Brad and Brad is now twenty-one. So then I realized that my doctor, being the one to handle all of my pregnancies and child births, has seen a lot more of me than just my x-rays, so maybe I should be glad that I have social plans with my chiropractor and not my doctor because that would just be way too weird.

Time to pack up the kitchen

I enjoyed a sleep-in morning, this being my day off and all. I stumbled out to the family room and the scene out the window is one that’s been holding steady here for a few days.  Fog. Lots of it. It’s been raining off and on since early this week.  The mountains of snow are dissipating, slowly but surely.

I plopped myself in the recliner and while Mark watched an episode of American Eats featuring famous breakfast cereals on The History Channel, I grabbed my laptop to check up on blogs and such. While I was absorbed in what I was reading, I thought I saw a flash of light out of the corner of my eye, but the gas fireplace was flickering next to me, so I attributed the flash to the flames. However, the massive clap of thunder that followed made me practically jump out of my chair and I soon realized that flash was lightning and we were going to enjoy a rare sight out the windows; a thunderstorm while the ground is still pretty well covered in snow.

Weird.

Does everyone else hear a musical back-drop to the days of their lives? I do. I know Rock Chef does. Since the clap of thunder, I’ve been hearing Amii Stewart singing, It’s like thunder… lightning…. The way you love me is frightening….:

Today is the day I start packing up all the contents of the kitchen cupboards. Mark bought a bunch of boxes for me yesterday, then ripped out the soffits while I was at work. After dinner, he asked me how soon I’d be ready to part with the dishwasher. (NEVER!) The microwave? (DITTO!)

(The microwave is one of those over-the-stove kind. It hangs below a cupboard. The cupboards come down this weekend. Hence the reason I have to part with my microwave.)

I know I need to give up my stuff for a while, I just hadn’t given any serious thought to living with out my daily conveniences. I guess the next trip to the grocery store will have to include lots of crock-pot and grill cookable foods. And paper plates.

And wine. For medicinal purposes, of course.

Well, I better get off the internet now. I’ve got to go pick out a new sink and faucet today and the kitchen is not going to pack itself up.

Have a GREAT day!

Lazy Thursday

I had a lazy start to the day today. No alarm clock. No hurrying out of bed. It felt good. I needed that.

For breakfast, I made myself a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich on Country Hearth multi-grain bread, toasted, of course. I am a bread lover, and this bread is to die for!

Okay, I think I’ve hit a new low here on the blog when I’m describing my breakfast and singing the praises of bread… So as long as I’m down here, let’s talk about peanut butter. I’ve never bought natural peanut butter before. It’s pretty good. Not as sweet as my usual Jif, but good. Do all natural peanut butters have the consistency of baby poop? I swear, when I opened the jar and started stirring it up – because that’s what you do with natural peanut butter – you stir in the oil – my first thought was, “Baby poop.” Didn’t stop me from eating it though. It’s very tasty when combined with Nutella, which just seems sinful, but who could resist it? It’s spreadable chocolate and goes great on toast! (And shortbread cookies, I might add.)

Speaking of cookies, those Girl Scouts are evil. I currently have eight boxes of Girl Scout cookies in the house and I think I have six more on the way. It’s not that I want to eat them all. I just can’t say no to those cute faces when they give me their sales pitch and tell me how bad they want to go to Girl Scout camp. I went to Girl Scout camp once, even though I was never actually a Girl Scout. Not sure how that happened, but it was FUN!

So we have cookies. Lots of cookies. I’m going hide them and put them in the snack cupboard, one or two boxes at a time. Otherwise, Jake will eat three boxes a day. Not that it would affect him. The kid eats anything he wants and nothing of value and still doesn’t gain a pound. It’ll catch up with him someday though. I keep warning him.

I think I’ll take Jake bowling today. He doesn’t have class for some reason. He’s asked me a few times lately to go bowling with him, but I’ve not been able to take him up on the offer for one reason or another. My almost-19 year-old kid still likes to spend time with me now and then. I’ll take it. Today’s the day.

Reasons why I'm impressed with myself

First, I bowled a 195 last night! 195! Can you believe that? That’s my highest score ever! The pins; they just kept on falling! Of course, we were bowling just for fun. Do you think I can pull off a score like that in leagues? Probably not. I have this habit of showing up for leagues and forgetting what I did right.

Also, I had the grocery shopping done by 9:00 and dinner made before noon. It’s 11:40 a.m. and I have dinner made. A real dinner. With vegetables and everything! It’s a broccoli-chicken casserole kind of thing with slivered almonds. It just needs to go in the oven later on.

I don’t know what’s going on with me, but I like it!

Actually, I kind of know what’s going on with me. I’ve been working hard at eating better, avoiding junk food and exercising more consistently. And we all know I have that “plenty of sleep” thing pretty well covered. It’s amazing what these improved habits are doing for my motivation and productivity!

I have to go now. My arm hurts from patting myself on the back.