Sunday, December 14, 2008

Strays welcome

"Mom, who's the guy sleeping on the couch?"

That is a sure way to wake up in a hurry when you know there was nobody on the couch last night when you went to bed.

I usually leave my bedroom door open, but the door had swung closed last night. The dogs were in the room with me, and started barking up a storm around 4am this morning. I got up, checked the house, but everything was quiet and dark so I figured it must have been a neighbor setting them off. There are college kids next door who sometimes have parties, and I just assumed they were having another one last night and people were probably making noise as they went home. I let the dogs outside to go potty and to reassure themselves of nobody prowling around the yard, and thought I caught a whiff of cigarette smoke. That seemed silly since even smoking friends don't smoke in my house, so I figured a neighbor must have had a fire burning. I brought the dogs back into my bedroom, went ahead and pushed the door closed again, and went back to bed. One of my dogs kept looking at me like she was expecting me to do something else, but again, it was 4am and I was sleepy...

Then Alex's question this morning. Sure enough, an unknown guy was sleeping on my couch. We kind of stared at him, not sure what to do. He looked early to mid 20's, was in "going out" clothes, and seemed like a normal person. Except I've never met the guy before. Finally I shook him a little bit and he opened his eyes. He looked around and was clearly very confused. I asked him if he'd slept well and if perhaps he wanted to go home. He asked where he was, and finally woke up enough to realize he had somehow wandered into a complete stranger's house and gone to sleep. And then he started to freak out a little bit. He kept assuring me that he was an honest guy, he had a job and paid his bills, he had no idea what had happened but he was so sorry, etc. He wasn't driving, he had been at a party somewhere and gone with someone from there out to another party, and had no idea where he'd last been or how he'd gotten here. He seemed to have lost his cell phone, so I loaned him my phone so he could call home but he got no answer. He put his shoes back on and prepared to leave immediately, but he was going about 3 miles away so I offered to drive him home. Alex took the guy's picture because he said nobody would believe him if he didn't.

The front door was locked and closed, so I'm not sure how Chris got in. The door sometimes sticks, so it is possible it wasn't completely closed last night even though it looked it. And that bothers me. I do live in a neighborhood that has had very little trouble the entire time I've lived here, so I'm still not excessively worried about security. I do believe I'll be triple-checking the doors tonight, though. I'm also enormously surprised that apparently my dogs bark loud enough to hear a mile away if someone dares to step onto the property, but they didn't have much to say about someone actually coming into the house. I guess they figured they'd warned me; I got up right when the dogs started making noise, but the house was dark. So how did this guy enter an unknown house, find his way to the couch in the dark, take off his shoes, and get comfy and go to sleep in the moments it took me to put on slippers and come out of my room?

We've had a number of stray animals gravitate to our house over the years, but this is the first time a human stray has shown up. I guess if you are in the neighborhood, feel free to nap on my couch! Just make sure to close the door behind you.

I debated whether to post this, since I'm sure some of you won't find this nearly as funny as Alex & I did. Yes, it's a bit discombobulating. Yes, I'll make sure the dogs have free reign of the house tonight. Yes, the front door situation will be getting fixed very quickly. But no, I'm really not afraid. Either I have great faith in my guardian angels and God's timing, or I'm foolish and naive, but we were more bemused than scared. It occurred to me that this could be an interesting premise for a story line should I ever decide to write a book.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Laptop Withdrawal

Tuesday before Thanksgiving, my laptop died. Yes, I mean the laptop that was only purchased in July. It was working in the morning, I left to run errands, and came home to a non-functioning machine.

After spending over an hour on the phone with tech support (thank you God for Daniel in Indiana or something answering and speaking English!), it was determined that the hard drive had met an untimely death. Yippee... as it is clearly still under warranty, they sent me a new hard drive along with recovery disks to get the machine going. Those arrived after Thanksgiving, and then the new hard drive wouldn’t work either. It would start to load the recovery disks, then give a fatal error, then reboot itself. Over and over and over. This phone call to tech support landed in India to someone who didn't listen to the problem and merely assumed the recovery disks were bad and sent new ones. That’s not what online research was suggesting, and sure enough, 3 days later when the new disks arrived, I still had the same issue. Again, India answered the Help! call. *sigh* They sent a specific shipping box for me to send in the laptop so they can figure out where the problem is, and gave a 2 week estimate of when I'll get it back. The machine was sent in on Monday, so here’s hoping I can at least have it back by Christmas!

Ok, enough whining. Here’s a funny for you: A case manager – from America – called me after the 2nd India experience. He apologized for troubling me, but said he was having difficulty understanding the case notes on my account and could I please give him a synopsis of the problem. Nice. How much money are they really saving by outsourcing?? Not as much as they think, if they have to call people back anyway...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Warm in the South? Not always.

I really do enjoy fall's cooler temps and pretty scenery. It doesn't get as colorful here as it does further up north, but it's a little more color than typically seen down where I grew up. (Let's just forget about all the leaf-raking that accompanies this glorious display. No, this isn't my yard, it's just in the area; my trees just turn brown. *pout*)

Although it can get remarkably cold here, it very rarely snows and when it does, you have to see it while it comes down because it melts within seconds of landing. Imagine our surprise this week to see the school's practice field one morning. We saw a few residential yards with a similar "decoration". We are thinking it was probably ice rather than snow, but still... it was fun to see! And it wasn't on the roads to worry about driving in it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Out of the mouth of babes

For Alex's graduation last year, he had to write an essay about a hero in his life. He said most people were just writing something quick about a close family member, but he wanted to really put some thought into it. When Alex turned his essay in, his teacher actually contacted me to verify he'd written it himself! They read the essays out loud at graduation, and there were some real winners. The "My mom is my hero because she buys me stuff" was quite a thoughtful response, don't you think?

Apparently, the thought he put into it must have stuck with him, because this is his current tagline on one of his online games' chat boards:

"The best heroes are the people who don't even try to be one."

This caused me to look up his essay. They read it last, and it made half the auditorium cry. I publish it here with much maternal pride.


My hero is…. Everyone.

You may ask, “What exactly is a hero?” You may think a hero is “someone who does great things.” My mom says it is someone who makes a positive difference in another person’s life. I think it’s more along the lines of “Someone who does good things, big or small.” You have one version and I have another, and I’ll bet someone else has another.

Why, you ask? You may not be “this” and you may not be “that”… But then again…is someone else? You may be one thing another isn’t. They may be one thing you aren’t. Can you say you are better then someone? Maybe at one particular thing…but overall we are all equals. Everyone can be a hero in one way or another. It may shock you but even you can be a hero. Whether one person is better in one sport and you are better in another, to someone you are a hero. You can be anyone, but still be a hero. Teacher, policeman, grocer, pharmacist, farmer, even a child, to someone someday you are a hero. You may be unnoticed, you may seem invisible, but you will be a hero.

Know this: There is no such thing as an ordinary person. You cannot be ordinary, you shall always be unique. Whether it is today or tomorrow, you make a difference. As long as you are doing good, you are a hero, however seemingly insignificant. Tall or short, thin or wide, homeless or CEO for a big company, you reader, can be a hero.

Be the hero you can be.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I am thankful for...

faith... family... health... a place to call home... and the vacation time I didn't take this summer that will supplement the severance package I received when I got laid off on Friday.

Yep, after 13 years of PATLive, I find myself free of the telephony business. I was really quite tired of telephone services, so there are some advantages of being forced to find a new line of work. Too bad I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up!

I know this is a terrible time to be trying to find a job, both being so close to the end of the year and in our current economy. I also know that God is bigger than a bad economy and will provide. I'm not looking for work this week, I'm on vacation. I'd really like to spend next week doing some projects around my house that have been put off for much too long. After that, though, I'll need to start looking. Please pray that the right job will come my way.

Meanwhile, I'm off to keep counting my blessings. Food in the fridge... pets everywhere... friendships...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

Maybe I'm just weird, but I like actually going to the poll to vote. Thankfully we have a lot of precincts around here, and I try to go during off-hours of the day, so I rarely have to wait more than a few minutes to vote. Yes, I can do it by absentee, or early voting locations, but I like going to my own precinct on election day. For some reason, it feels more patriotic than dropping the ballot in the mail. (More secure, too, since I don't have to worry about misdirected or delayed or lost mail.) I like using the felt markers to color in the bubbles on the ballot. I like feeding it into the machine to be counted. No hanging chads around here! And I get to wear a sticker like this all day long. Whee!

Regardless of your method of choice, I hope you exercise your right and responsibility to vote. You can even get some of these treats if these stores are in your area.

It's Wacky Tacky Day

Intro note: This is spirit week at Alex's school, leading up to homecoming this weekend.

As we were getting ready for school this morning, I asked Alex if he had any preference for what I would serve for breakfast this morning. He asked if we had any eggs left from yesterday. I said we did have some scrambled eggs and some hash browns left from yesterday, but it wasn't enough and I'd think of something to serve with it. He asked if we still had the leftover fish from Sunday that he had really liked. I replied with an affirmative, but said fish for breakfast was a little strange. (it's perfectly normal in some places, though, isn't it? just not what we are used to here in the US)

His response?

"It's Wacky Tacky Day!"

So we had fish, eggs, hash browns, and yogurt for breakfast today. Why not? Maybe we'll try green eggs and ham tomorrow.

Monday, November 3, 2008

VisionWalk success

Thank you to everyone that supported the VisionWalk with us. Thank you cards are almost done and will be mailed out tonight.

We'd had a penny war at work, and Alex spent Friday afternoon sorting, counting, and rolling the change for the VisionWalk. It took almost 3 hours to determine he'd rolled:
$14.88 in pennies
$11.50 in nickels
$9.00 in dimes
$13.75 in quarters

That was really quite tedious. I don't believe we'll be doing another change-collecting fundraiser for a while!

We were blessed with a gorgeous day for the walk. Some may have said it was chilly, but I thought it was great. Even my fellow walkers who believe living in Florida means it should be hot all year round agreed that by the end of the 5K walk, they had warmed right up. We didn't end up getting our t-shirts until we arrived, so we just pulled them over the clothes we were wearing. I really wasn't looking like such a slob when I arrived...

Field Day Fun

What a blast! There were a variety of team games for the kids to play, followed by a pizza party. Parents were serving the food, to make sure kids didn't go crazy and eat it all before the other kids got a chance. I'd made that huge platter of cookies, plus 2 pans of brownies, but they disappeared quickly when attacked by 160 kids.

They also had some Best Buy gift cards donated that were awarded to the top GPA grades for the first 9 weeks. I thought that was cool.

The game I was leading involved listening as your partner gave audible directions to guide you to a goal post. You couldn't see it, since you were blindfolded. The opposing teams can shout out other directions to try to mess you up. It was hilarious both watching the kids, and listening to how the directions were given. Some used the more traditional "Turn to the right." or "Move a few steps to the left." But then I heard several that went more like this: "Take 3 steps forward then make a 38 degree turn to your left."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I heart my KitchenAid mixer

After many years of limping by with a wimpy little mixer, I was very blessed to receive this Kitchen Aid professional mixer for Christmas from my parents last year. I've used it numerous times during the year, but it seems I only had somewhat small batches of things to make.

But wait... here comes the fall! This is the time of heavy-duty usage. Bake sales for school, bake sales at work (we had one this week to raise money for the VisionWalk that it coming up this Saturday), holiday cooking... ah! Cooking and baking heaven!

I gave it quite a workout tonight, making these pumpkin cookies for tomorrow's field day. I made a double-batch, and this thing powered right through it like it was nothing. It was fantastic! I love this thing. Thank you again to my parents for such a great gift.

It had to happen sometime

Although it has been hard, I've always tried my best to participate in the special days at school, field trips, events, etc. I missed a couple during 7th grade - mostly because I didn't find out about them until the day before - but have otherwise always been there. Alex has been fine with that. If it's a field trip, he usually chose to sit with me on the bus instead of with friends. Sometimes that even bothered me a little bit.

Tomorrow is a field day at school, and we got an email asking for parent volunteers. My boss was ok with me taking the day off, so I said I'd be there. When I told Alex last night, he got a very stricken look on his face. Apparently, mom-is-not-so-cool-anymore has finally set in. "But this is high school, mom."

yeah, noticed that, did you?

So tomorrow I get to make him squirm while he tries to be cool and yet watches me from the sides of his eyes to make sure I'm not embarrassing him. Let the fun begin!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The prettiest art

comes from the Master Artist. Look at the gorgeous sunset we had on Saturday.

Ahh, marching band

I love marching band. I marched for 7 years myself, then was a proud band mama for Alex's 2 years of middle school marching band. Unfortunately, he decided he didn't want to pursue it in high school. What a bummer for me! I was hoping he would do it for at least one year, just to see how high school is different than middle school. Nope, he was not even remotely interested. I was very disappointed, but had to remind myself that while he might be my child, he is an individual person with different interests. Ah well, at least his best friend chose to march. It gives me a good excuse to go to the county bandmasters association evaluations without feeling weird. (I've gone several years when I didn't know anyone there and it was a little strange having nobody to cheer.)

Congratulations, Blake, on your superior rating!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The effects of technology

Me: Alex, wake up! Your alarm has been beeping for over 20 minutes.

Him: mphrgmesph

Me: Would you repeat that, please?

Him: [in agitated tone] I said, CHECK.YOUR.PHONE. I sent you a text!

Me: Uh huh. While you were sleeping?

... long pause ...

Him: Stupid dreams...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Whiter than snow

“Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7

Ok, so maybe it isn't quite snow level, but it is still amazing. (and now I have that hymn stuck in my head) It's been quite some time since the concrete at my house has been cleaned. I have done it in the time I've lived there, but probably not for about 6-7 years or so. I knew it was dirty, I just didn't realize to what extent. Until I had it cleaned this past weekend. Wow. The difference is unbelievable. I am absolutely NOT exaggerating when I say it is now so white, you can see it 2 blocks down the hill from my house. (we live on a curve)

turned into

(from this angle, I realize that we only cleaned the tops of the stairs, not the sides of them. ooops! shows the stark contrast pretty nicely, though)

As well as the Biblical reference posted above, this also reminds me of the Casting Crowns song Slow Fade:

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It's a slow fade, it's a slow fade

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sis!

A great big birthday hug is flying through the air from Florida up to Pennsylvania to wish my sister a very happy birthday. She's probably celebrating by riding her bike 20 miles or some crazy thing. Maybe she won't check the mail for a few days and thus won't realize that even though I saw her birthday on the calendar, knew it was coming up, and even thought about the card I wanted to make her, I never actually got it into the mailbox. ahem.

I'm fantastic about remembering the birthdays of my friends and family, even those from high school and people I haven't seen in 10+ years, and usually don't even need to see them on the calendar. (Jan 20, Aug 23, Sept 20, Dec 24, Dec 31, you know who you are) For some reason, though, some part of my brain always neglects to compute that one needs time for the cards to travel through the mail in order to get there on time. I usually end up mailing it the day of the birthday, instead of having it arrive that day.

I don't know why my brain has this mental block. I can't even blame it on the instanteousness of email, since I had this problem long before email was popular. I've even tried putting reminders on the paper calendar as well as the electronic calendar, telling myself to get them mailed a few days early. It never works. So, if you end up with a card a little after your birthday, please know that I really was thinking about you. If you're one of the lucky few that gets it on time... congratulations!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tech support, please pick my bathroom lock?

This is something Alex found and it tickled him so much, he's been sharing it with everyone he can find. I'm posting it for him so you can share in the hilarity. Unless, of course, you're the one that called in one of these particular questions...

Weird requests push buttons of IT pros

(CNN) -- Forgive your tech support staffers if they sometimes take a snarky tone. You should see the unending stream of oddball requests they field. Robert Half Technology, a California-based staffing company that provides information technology professionals, asked 1,400 chief information officers nationwide about the strangest queries their help desks had ever received. You've probably heard about the person who confused a CD-ROM drive for a cup holder, but some of the other survey answers, released Wednesday, were baffling.

Katherine Spencer Lee, the executive director of Robert Half Technology, said in a statement it's helpful to review the odd questions. "These unusual requests highlight the need for technical support personnel to also demonstrate patience, empathy and a sense of humor," she said.

Here's a look at some of the oddest questions that IT executives reported receiving:

  • "My computer is telling me to press any key to continue. Where is the 'any' key?"
  • "Can you reset the Internet for me?"
  • "Can you rearrange the keyboard alphabetically?"
  • "My laptop was run over by a truck. What should I do?"

Some people wanted answers to make their lives a little less stressful. They asked:

  • "How can I block e-mail from my manager?"
  • "Can I open the bank safe using my computer?"
  • "Can you install cable TV on my PC?"
  • "I'd like to stop receiving e-mail on Fridays."

And some demanded entirely too much:

  • "I'd like wireless computer access in my motor home."
  • "How long does it take to bake a potato in a microwave?"
  • "My daughter is locked in the bathroom. Can you pick the lock?"
  • "Where can I get software to track UFOs?"

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tallahassee VisionWalk 2008

Glen and Sharyn Davidson have employed me for 12 years. They are great people, and do a lot to help others. When approached with the idea of PATCares - our employee organization that holds fundraisers to benefit our community - Glen supported the idea so thoroughly that for several years, he personally matched all the funds that collected. (it now comes from company funds)

Unfortunately, Sharyn and at least 2 of her brothers inherited a macular degeneration disease from her mother and grandmother. Over time, her field of vision has shrunk smaller and smaller, and her ancestors have gone completely blind. The Davidsons have 4 children, one just a year older than Alex. One of them also carries the gene.

Amazing research breakthroughs have been made in the last few years, and there is hope for a cure. For a number of years, the Davidsons have held a big party at their farm to raise money for research. This year, they have decided to hold a VisionWalk. Much like the March of Dimes or Relay for Life or any of those others, each of us try to collect sponsorships for the walk, and then we show up that morning in solidarity and support for the cause. Alex & I are trying to raise $100 each. I realize times are tough and money is scarce. If you can find an extra $10 or $20 (or more), we would appreciate it. A little bit from several people would really help us reach our goal quickly!

To donate online, you can click here or on the VisionWalk logo on the right. If you prefer to send a check, mail it to me but make it payable to the Foundation Fighting Blindness. All donations are tax-deductible.

Thank you for considering it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Customer Service Week

I love Customer Service Week. It's a national event, held the first week of October, although I know a lot of places don't celebrate it. Thankfully, PATLive does. Each year, a theme is picked for each day. There are decorations, special treats, and a video from the Answering Center supervisors and trainers to go along with the theme of the day. Each day is "sponsored" by a different department, providing recognition to the cs reps of the work they do, and includes an email from that department head usually written to conform to the theme.

Those actually in customer service get the treats, the free foods, the themed games played throughout the day, etc. You know, the things that cost the company money. The rest of us still get to dress up and participate in other "free" things. It's like a week of Halloween, when nobody else outside the company is dressing up. It's absolutely hilarious to be in costume and then go shopping, or get gasoline, or whatever else after work. You get the strangest looks from people who have no idea how to react. Those of us that have done it a few times used to feel self-conscious and would explain ourselves, but now we find it funnier to just let the people wonder what planet we call home. Maybe it gives them something to talk about at dinner that night. "Honey, you'll never guess what I saw at the grocery store today…"

So here are this year's themes. Would you participate?
Monday – Bed and Breakfast. Wear your PJs to work and be ready to be pampered!
Tuesday – Finding Nemo. Bring your luau gear and think tropical!
Wednesday – Dr. Seuss. Wear your wackiest, tackiest outfit ever. We'll also have a crazy sock competition.
Thursday – Viva Las Vegas! Use your imagination, anything goes in Vegas. (Please keep work appropriateness in mind)
Friday – PATLympics. Wear your sportiest and most patriotic outfits today.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

TV trivia

I did… poorly… on the TV show theme song quiz that was sent to me. ahem. Trying to redeem myself, I took the game show quiz, achieving a 9 out of 10. yeah, me. I didn't realize I had so much game show knowledge.

how do you do?

Mystery Man

Our church has a small café area that serves food on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. It used to be run by someone at the church, and then a few months ago, the job was taken over by a local bagel company. Ever since the bagel place moved in, I've seen a guy in there that looked really familiar. Every Sunday morning, it would bother me as I tried to figure out where/how I knew him. I kept trying to convince myself that he must have been someone from children's church when Alex was little or something, but that just didn't seem right. The place gets a lot of business between services, though, so I didn't want to take the time to disturb him to ask.

The first Sunday of each month, Alex and I volunteer in the 2 year old room during the second service. We'd been in a hurry to get to church on time ourselves for first service (we made it!) so we only grabbed a quick breakfast instead of the heartier meal I usually try to prepare on "First Sunday". I was a little bit hungry after our service, and Alex was starving. To avoid the temptation to eat all the cheez-it crackers we are supposed to serve the tots, we decided to get a bagel and split it, figuring that would tide us over until lunch when church was over. Sure enough, the mystery man was there. Ah ha! Now I can maybe figure it out….

When we reached the counter, he looked at Alex and said, "Wow, Alex, you've grown a little bit!" Ok, he obviously recognized us, and even knew Alex's name, so I wasn't imagining anything. Unfortunately, I still couldn't place him, and I was forced to ask. It turns out, he was the Assistant Principle at the school Alex attended for 5K-4th grade. He left after Alex's 2nd or 3rd grade year to join his father-in-law's bagel business. Obviously it worked out for him.

I was very relieved to finally connect those dots. It seriously bugged me every week when I saw him, and now I know. But that leaves me to wonder… he hasn't seen Alex in 6 years, yet there was no hesitation on his part at all. Does he really have a phenomenal memory for every one of the hundreds of kids he worked with, not to mention however many regular customers he's met since then, or did Alex just spend that much time in his office for not being able to sit still in class??

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Where have all the parents gone?

A while ago, Mindy asked if a lack of parental involvement is a cause or effect of children doing poorly in school. I don't honestly know the answer to that question. I used to think it was primarily a cause, with of course exceptions for individual kids. Now, I'm almost starting to wonder if it has any effect at all. My brain says surely it must, but my recent experiences seem to contradict that thought.

When we were growing up, our elementary school classes were segregrated by honors kids, average kids, and those who needed extra help. On open house nights, the majority of the parents of the honors kids would show up, and they usually ended up borrowing chairs from the extra help kids' rooms. Why? Because the one group showed up and the other one didn't. Either the parents didn't care, or just were afraid of hearing bad news about their kid, or I don't know what. You might expect parents to be there especially for the kids that struggled with school, so they could find out how to help their kid at home, but such was not the case. It was a private school, the parents were paying a decent amount of money to send their kids to the school, so it wasn't like they were completely disinterested in the child's education.

Then I became a parent, and started attending the open house night myself. My son was in a school very similar to that which I had attended, except the class rooms were no longer sorted by "ability". It seemed like there were usually a lot of parents there, but as the kids were all mixed together, it was difficult to know which segments of parents bothered to come. You would think that with the cost of tuition being what it was, a parent would want to keep tabs on how their child was doing.

Then we joined the ranks of public school kids. Not only public school, but we were zoned for what is very close to a ghetto school. Most of the kids are from very low income families, live in rough neighborhoods, and it's a D-rated school. The first time they had open house, there were so few parents there that I honestly thought they'd changed the date and I just missed the notification. Seriously. It was a very sad commentary.

This year, Alex is in high school, in an advanced honors magnet program. There were something like 250 kids that applied for the 100 positions open (which is already double the 50 spots they had last year), so you know it was rigorous admission. Kids had to prove they were ready to excel in this group. Tuesday night, we had open house. Of the 180 kids in the entire program, there were maybe 50 parents that attended. I realize that some parents have more than one child, and there were possibly some scheduling conflicts. Maybe some of them have to work nights. I cannot believe that applied to 2/3 of the group, however. So where was everybody? Do they not care? I don’t understand, I really don't.

On the bright side, Alex was awarded a Skip Homework Tonight pass yesterday because I attended the open house. That was a nice surprise for him!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Tale of Two Experiences

This whole wisdom teeth removal experience has been... interesting. Not fun, mind you, but interesting. The two teeth on the left side of my face came out, were sore for 2 days, and then poof! All better. No big deal, let's move on with life. And that is honestly about how I expected it to go. Somehow, though, the right side of my face missed the memo.

The upper right molar was basically sideways in my mouth, and so it was nearly impossible to keep it clean, never mind how frequently I ended up biting my cheek. This was the tooth that I knew needed to come out. The bottom right tooth is the one that only came in last year. While I wanted it to grow in before it was removed, it apparently had not really come through enough for them to get a good grip on it, and so it had to be cut out after all. What a major bummer. That side of my face is still swollen, and I definitely notice when the pain pills wear off. I rarely take medications, so to be regularly taking these pain pills every 4 hours or so is quite out of character for me. Dumb tooth is even waking me up in the middle of the night in horrible pain because the pills have worn off. The pain pills tend to make me sleepy, though, so I’m really not sure how I’m going to last at work tomorrow.

Because this bottom right tooth is taking soooo long to heal, I still can't eat properly. I'm starving! I was pretty good at first, eating yogurt and applesauce and making fruit smoothies and generally keeping it reasonably healthy after all. I splurged on some Kozy Shack chocolate pudding. Tried the rice pudding, but the rice was too lumpy for now, so I stuck with the chocolate. When I finally tired of the fruit, I pureed a can of chicken noodle soup. Since the surgery was Wed morning, by yesterday I should have been able to start trying to eat soft foods. Lump-free potatoes were edible. The mushy green beans were still too much chewing and I had to give up. Today, I've so far stuck with the fruit smoothie and going to have some more mashed potatoes again. Yippee, how exciting. I want some real food! *pout*

I also did more talking yesterday than I've been doing. It honestly just hurt too much to move my jaw before. Too much of a good thing... by the evening, I knew I had over done it. Now I'm back to not talking much, because it just is uncomfortable. I did manage to keep myself out of bed for a couple of hours yesterday to clean the bathroom cabinets and do some more throwing away. Alex doesn’t really need squirty foam soap spray cans any more, for instance. But then back to bed for the rest of the day.

So anyway, that’s my update thus far. On one side, quick and easy. On the other side, misery. Guess now I can empathize with anyone else’s experience, since I’ll have had it both ways!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Wise... or not so much?

Wednesday morning at 8am, I'll be having all 4 wisdom teeth removed. Yes, I'm a little old to be just getting this done, but the last one only grew in within the last year. I'm not that keen on doing this in the first place, so I certainly didn't want to have to have them slice open my gums to get out the teeth that hadn't come in. That excuse is now finally invalid, and the dentist complains every time he sees me, so my oral surgery is going to be this week. At least they will knock me out, so I won't have to listen to the teeth being ripped out of my head. Whee!

This of course puts me on a cold-food, liquid diet for the rest of the week. I have a sneaking suspicion the calorie-watching activities will be conspicuously absent for the next little bit...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Labor Day weekend

I have all this stuff everywhere that is there from ages past and nobody uses it anymore but still it sits there cluttering up the place… and I'm tired of it. We spent most of our weekend cleaning out and throwing away. We even got up into the garage attic a little bit, and I can't even hazard a guess at the last time I was up there.

Our big outside trash can was literally overflowing, and we had more trash to go that just didn't fit into it. After they picked up the trash this week, Alex hauled the rest of the stuff out to the can and promptly took it right back down to the street since it was full again! I probably could have just stacked it up next to the can, but I know they have an arm on the truck to pick up the can itself and I figured the guys would have enough manual work to do this week with everyone cleaning out the stuff that got wet from the tropical storm, so I waited. The same thing happened for the recycling. I have a huge collection of clothing that I still need to sort into little boys, bigger boys, and ladies clothes so I can take them to our women's shelter. We also have a large collection of books to take to the library. And that's just a fraction of the junk in the house that needs to be removed. Maybe there's hope for some uncluttered space in this house after all!

Coming from such a packrat family, actually getting rid of some stuff was a challenge. It's funny, though, how I would be chucking this and tossing that and then come across some silly little thing that I suddenly wanted to keep for no good reason except that I have it and I might want it some day… Alex - an even bigger hoarder than I am - would look at me like I was crazy and tell me to throw it away. aaahh, the power of teamwork. *laugh* He even finally conceded that some of the stuff in his room wasn't really necessary to keep any more. We didn't get to his room yet, so I hope that attitude is still in place when the trash bags show up!

On a side note, I had Alex replace the toilet seat in the hallway bathroom. It's not a difficult job, but I thought he should learn how to do it. Instead of just a plain white seat, it's now an oak seat. It's truly amazing how that picked up the gold streaks in the counter and really brightened up the room. I never realized what an impact a toilet seat could make to one's décor.

beach photos

After promising pictures, I was then quite remiss in not actually posting them. Sorry!

Here comes the storm...


Rain bouncing off neighbor's roof:

After the storm:

Starfish found by Morgan and Valerie:

Full moon reflected off the water:

We found this jellyfish on the beach when someone accidentally stepped on it (and was thankfully not stung). It was too dark to even see it so I literally "took a shot in the dark". It came out pretty nicely, I think.

Generators finally powered the island:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The ducks are swimming in the street

I had a chance to go by one of our downtown park areas on Monday afternoon. It's normally this pretty little lake with a gazebo, a walking path around it, and some charming little cottages that house some small, local businesses. Unfortunately, that's not quite how it looks now.

When I drove by, I first noticed that the water was inches away from running into a major downtown street. I pulled off the road to get a better look, and was amazed. You can hardly even see the park benches peeking out of the water.

I really did have to laugh, though, when I saw the ducks swimming in the water that had flooded a side street. What an excellent example of how to deal with the difficult twists and turns that sometimes pop up in life. The ducks weren't complaining that their home had changed, or that things weren't how the ducks thought they should be. No sirree, they just swam around to see what was different and to joyfully explore their changed circumstances. Matthew 6:26 came to mind: Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fay's all gone

Well, we got a ton of much-needed rain, but she's moved on now. In my neighborhood, it wasn't all that big a deal. The power flickered a few times, but never even went out, which is quite unusual for my area. (I'm starting to think that them clearing out all those trees in the woods behind my house in order to build new houses might have removed whatever used to cause our electrical problems every time the wind would blow.) There are a few branches down here and there, but nothing of much notice. It was just a heavy rain storm with a little extra wind. We had fun watching the rain during the spurts of torrential pours.

I have seen and heard of quite a bit of flooding in other areas of town, however. It took my boss almost 2 hours to get to work today instead of the usual 30 minutes because he kept having to take detours around flooded areas and downed trees. So I guess I should be thankful! The paper reported an electrican was killed while trying to restore power to other homes, which was sad. But everything's otherwise back to normal again now. Thanks for keeping us in your prayers!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tropical Storm Fay

Apparently the next 48 hours are going to bring some interesting weather. We've been told to expect 6-12" of rain. School is cancelled for tomorrow: "All information available at this time indicates the possibility of heavy rainfall and wind gusts for our area, which can provide great difficulty in transporting our students safely. Safety is our district's number one priority; this decision is made in the best interest of our students and employees." Even that year we had the marathon of hurricanes, our schools didn't close.

Personally, I'm not expecting any problems, I'm just letting you know the potential for loss of electricity. If you try to reach me and I'm unavailable, then I'm probably outside, playing in the puddles!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's my baby and I'll cry if I want to

As mind-boggling as this sounds, today is Alex's 14th birthday. wow. How is this possible? When did he become 5'10", 170 lbs? *sigh* At least the years have been fun. Here's to the next 14!

Monday, August 18, 2008

PE? really?

Yes, indeed, we've now started high school. Hard to believe, but true nonetheless... 9th grade has arrived. It should be a fun ride!

Because he's in the Academy of Information Technology magnet program of his school, there will be a lot of the IT stuff incorporated into his non-IT classes. It also means that his first year only allows for one elective. He was able to select between some different types of math and science classes, but they still had to be math and science. Only one class period was a "what do YOU want to do?" allowance. He requested Guitar for his elective class this year, with the PE class as a second choice. (He's required to have 1 year of PE in order to graduate. I seem to recall having it every single year, so what's up with that?) Unfortunately, upon arriving at school this morning, he discovered he did not get the guitar class after all. His friend, whose last name starts with Gem, did get the class. Gos is soooo close... but not enough. Ok, so get PE over with and not have to worry about it again, right? Would you believe it is his very first class of the day? PE is bad enough anyway, but at 7:45 in the morning? You've got to be kidding me.

It being the first day of school, with all the kids running around and trying to figure out where they are going and what they are doing, we understandably did not get much info about what to expect from this class. I'm wondering if he can just go to school in his gym clothes and take regular school clothes for after that. But I'm still left wondering: do I bother having him take a shower in the morning?

The rest of the schedule looks like this:
1st: PE
2nd: Algebra II honors (did Alg I in 8th grade for high school credit)
3rd: English I honors
4th: Networking & Geographic Information Systems
5th: Biology I honors
6th: Intro to Information Technology
7th: World History honors

Friday, August 15, 2008

unbelievable trip

Remember I said it was raining? That apparently turned into some horrific galestorm that tore up the island but good. We went out to the beach to ride the crazy waves (I kept looking for that hurricane tracker guy to show up with his TV crew to record the stupid people out in the ridiculous weather) and when we came back in, we discovered the power was out. Ok, no big deal, this can be fun for a little while. After a few hours, it got dark, and then it was not quite so fun. Board games by candle light can be amusing. After 2 days of having no dry towels, half our clothes filthy, and cooking all our food on the itty bitty charcoal grill downstairs, the "fun" had definitely passed. This morning, we finally got some power back, and we are so excited. The laptops, the cameras, our cell phones, and the handheld video games - everything is plugged in to recharge. The things you take for granted... I was thanking God for giving me the foresight to bring some candles and flashlights to the beach! Those were our saving grace at night.

After the fix-it crews showed up, I asked them what was going on. Apparently the transmitter lines that connect us to the substations came crashing down into the ocean. They brought crews from Pensacola and somewhere down S Fl to come rebuild the lines to connect us to generators. I don't know how long it will take them to correctly fix the situation, but for now the island is running on several humongous generators.

I did manage to pick up some fun photos of the situation before the camera battery ran out. I wish I'd gotten one of me cooking tacos in a frying pan on the grill, but I didn't think about it in time and the bugs were just feasting on me and I couldn't take it any more. I'll post them later. Meanwhile, it's sunny now so we are going out to the beach!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

on vacation

I think I told most people that I was on vacation this week. (if I missed you, then sorry) School starts next week, so we are at the beach this week. Like last year, we rented a house that we are sharing with some friends for the week. My friend couldn't come down on Sunday, so I brought her kids down with me. The first day had the kids trying to do this:
I got to rain on their parade by insisting that they get off the computers and go outside to go swimming with me. They complained the whole time until they actually got in the water. The next 2 hours flew by as we had fun with the noodles and water fights and wave jumping. Amazing, it really is possible to have fun without a power outlet around!

Valerie arrived Monday afternoon, so around 5pm we all went back out again. The waves were much calmer, so we just lazed around. Valerie's dogs also came down. (mine get carsick, so it's just easier to leave them at home) This was the first time the black dog had ever experienced the beach, so it was fun watching the dog adjust. It didn't take her long!

and then today.... it's pouring down rain. yippee. :)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

yum yum

I asked Alex yesterday what he'd had for lunch. He said he made a sandwich with "the meat that looked sort of like bacon". It took me a little bit to figure out what he'd done, then asked if he meant the package of turkey bacon. He supposed so. I asked if he'd cooked it first, and was rewarded with a look of stupefaction. "Maybe that's why my tummy hasn't been feeling so great this afternoon."

Yeah, I bet that would do it. Raw bacon probably doesn't sit that well on the tummy, even if it is made from turkey instead of pig. Can you tell we don't have bacon in our house very often?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What $700 of school supplies looks like

Last week, PATCares held its 6th annual Italian Café lunch to raise money for school supplies. In case you don't remember, we do a school supply drive every year for the Tallahassee Foster Parent Association. The FPA sets up all the supplies in a room and lets the kids "go shopping" to pick out what they like and need for school. We had about $100 worth of supplies donated to us at work (and from some of my friends - thanks!), and we bought the rest. PATLive matches all the money we collect, so Alex and I went shopping last night to purchase $600 of supplies. It took us almost 3 hours!

It's an ordeal, since we have to try to think of what kids from 5K all the way through high school might need, and pick things in colors and designs for both boys and girls. We know they have a real need for backpacks, so we usually start with those. Understandably, a foster parent finds it easier to buy the $0.25 pack of crayons and the $1 pack of pens than the $30 backpack. I've noticed that some backpacks might be cute, but they don't even last until Christmas at our house, and I'm sure these kids have the same problem. The association chairwoman confirmed they would rather have a fewer number of good quality backpacks than a plethora of the cheap junk ones. So, we bought 12 bags that ended up almost $400. That left $200 for everything else. As you can see, we ended up with quite a number of things! We have notebooks, dividers, paper, duotangs, spiral notebooks, pencils, pens, erasable pens, highlighters, protractors, scientific calculators, erasers, crayons, report covers, glue, pencil pouches, and other assorted goodies.

Exhausting? Yes. Worth every moment of it? Absolutely.

Monday, August 4, 2008

It was a little scary

I did something this weekend that I've never done before. I put a political bumper sticker on my car. Crazy, I know. I think I've only ever put one sticker on my car in my life, and it was my "Class of '90" sticker in high school (on the car that ended up a little crunched). I know I've never put on a political sticker. I don't even put the my-kid-is-on-the-honor-roll thing on my car.*

Life continues to change, and "tomorrow is the next day" as my dad likes to quote. (quick, 5 points, what movie does that come from?) My friend's husband is running for the Florida House. As he played football at FSU and then in the pros for several years, he's quite good at running. and winning. The political arena is a little different, however. He's not even in my voting district, so I can't support him with my vote. I did decide to advertise for him, though, by putting a sticker on my car. I investigated quite thoroughly, and have been assured it should not be a problem to get the thing back off the car after the election. I hope so, since I don't want this on my car for the rest of my life. Just in case, though, I hedged my bets a little: I put it on the plastic tire cover on the back of the car, rather than on the car itself. We'll see in a few months if it really does come off or if they lied to me. Scraping it off the tire cover doesn't bother so much as scraping it off a painted car.

* I have taped it up in the window for a 9-week period. I told him he had to continue to earn it each grading period in order for it to stay up. It did stay up as long as he was in that school; subsequent schools haven't had the stickers for me to have to worry about. I didn't actually peel the backing off and stick it onto the car, though, I just taped it from the inside of the window. Peter's sticker is truly applied as it was intended to be stuck.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Happy Birthday

to my mom! Hope you are having a great day. We love you!

Alex the repairman

I noticed the other day that there was a compacted napkin and a big ol' wad of chewing gum in the bottom drain part of the dishwasher. This made me a little irritated, since I know I wouldn't have had such a big glob of gum on my plate… I managed to pick out the napkin bits, but when I tried to get the gum out, it slipped further down into the drain. great. I took out the bottom shelf in hopes of better accessibility, but simply taking the drawer out apparently turned it into a "manly" project. Alex was suddenly very interested in helping out!

He got the screwdriver and started taking things apart to get to where the gum was. After much exertion on his part, he had the thing half disassembled and the main part of the drain separated from the water line, etc. He probably would have taken more of it apart except mean mom put the kibosh on all that. I was slightly afraid he wouldn't remember how to put it all back together!

Unfortunately, after all his great attempt, it turned out we couldn't remove the little piece blocking access to where the gum had slipped. I got a straw, stabbed it into the hole, and pulled the gum out. Solved in 30 seconds… but the project was an entertaining bit of evening. He decided that being at such an odd angle and without being able to support himself by balancing his weight on the door (didn't want to damage the door) was challenging and not something he really liked to do. I pointed out that while plumbers have important jobs, he should remember the discomfort when he doesn't feel like applying himself in school…