Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Why I like blogging

Yesterday, as I was in the shower after GOING TO THE GYM, I realized what it is I like about blogging. I was having an internal dialogue with myself about how much I am enjoying the cats, since George had followed me into the bathroom and was chasing his tail again, and I realized that I was composing a blog entry in my head. And that I always have. I have always had these conversations with myself - replaying events that have already happened, editing conversations that may happen in the future, telling stories that I may or may not actually tell to a person. It seems to be part of the "living in my head" that makes me obsess/worry over events and experiences. Like, say, John's near-drowning experience. I still am occasionally re-living it, although less as time passes. It definitely still makes me sick to my stomach. But the good thing is, it's starting to feel a little like picking at a scab to re-tell the story, and now it's easier to focus on the good ending rather than the bad beginning.

So blogging fits right in with that obsessive replaying that I've always done. Perhaps once I get stuff out in the blog, I can stop replaying it in my head? Maybe?

Monday, July 28, 2008

You Go, Girl!

Inspiring note here. My friend Jill, who lives up in Massachusetts (www.midlifemotherhood.blogspot.com), just finished her first Danskin triathalon on Sunday. I am so proud of her.

I've never been athletic or athletically inclined. "Lazy" comes to mind, in fact. I can't even fathom signing up for a race of any sort at this point in my life. But I can understand the motivation that once you've signed up, there is incentive to not embarass yourself. And for her first triathalon, I think she did spectacularly.

There was also just a little fear for her in the back of my mind. There was a triathalon in the New York area over the weekend. A 50-ish man went missing during the swim portion. They still haven't found him. Given the events of the last few weeks, I was just a little scared for Jill. But she was fine.

I don't think I'll be signing up for any races of any sort in the forseeable future. Given my foot issues and general health, that may be a "not in this lifetime" activity. But it does inspire me to work a little harder at making myself more fit. If she can train with two kids that are younger and less self-sufficient than mine, what excuse do I have?

Of course, I'm sitting here in my gym clothes, blogging, and haven't gone to the gym this morning. Yet.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Rainy Days and Sundays...

I've got a two-fer here - rainy Sunday. Since we've been home, we've had several really severe thunderstorms. Quite impressive, actually. There's a part of me that likes thunderstorms - as long as I'm not forced to go out IN the rain, they are pretty exciting.

So we are back into what passes for normal routine for summertime. JC and Rachel are off at the local gaming store playing role-playing games. Yes, I'm encouraging my children to be nerds, you got a problem with that? John and William are channel-surfing, I think they've found a wake-boarding show, and now possibly a NASCAR race. 57 channels and nothing on...

Guess it's a song-quoting kind of day.

I am blogging rather than playing with my new toy. Yes, I unexpectedly have a new toy. It comes with a story. Ready?

Five or six years ago a scrapbooking store opened in the town next to ours. It was right downtown, had a decent location but only street parking, and offered crops and classes along with a huge amount of product (mostly paper). I was a sometimes customer, took a few classes, but showed up often enough that most of the staff at least recognized me even if they didn't know my name. Not really a regular, but semi-regular. Then, about 2 years ago, their town got severely flooded. I don't really remember all the circumstances, but it wasn't the first time. The store owner was able to save a good percentage of her stock, but not all, and the store itself was TRASHED. Ah, but she was wise enough that she had flood insurance! Nevertheless, she decided it was stupid to rebuild in a location that had been flooded twice in about 8 years, so she moved the store. Of course, finding and fitting out the space took longer than expected so they were closed for quite a while. But they re-opened about a year ago, nice clean space, with a parking lot! I was hoping to go more often, especially with a built-in babysitter and three kids in full-time school.

At the beginning of July, they sent out an email. They are closing. In fact, as of yesterday, they are closed. I went on Friday, to say good bye and of course take advantage of the closeout sales. The owner explained that they decided to close rather than go deeper into debt, and they will be around as an eBay store and running local crops. So she was selling everything, inventory, furniture, fixtures. Everything. Including an AccuCut Mark IV. For those of you who are not crafting nerds, it's a die cut machine. A big one - about 12" wide. The kind you see in a school or a store. And of course, it's no good without dies. The dies got flooded - they're a little rusty in spots, and the wood is stained by mildew. But they work, and really don't seem to leave rust spots on the paper. So I now am the proud owner of an AccuCut, 13 large dies, 6 small ones, and an entire alphabet, all for less than the cost of a new machine. Used, of course, but still good!

Do I need it? No, of course not. Could I let the opportunity pass me by? Obviously not. I may actually try selling some die-cuts on eBay, yes, people do sell packages of die-cuts. I have a large pile of old stamps I need to unload as well, so perhaps between those things, I'll make back the money.

It's just such a COOL machine. Anybody need some die cuts? Felt, foam, paper, chipboard? I can cut anything! Bwahahaha..... (evil laugh). I actually passed on the chance to buy the bigger one....

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Alabama mama

Ok, the title doesn't rhyme, but work with me here.

We had a lovely time in Alabama. After all the craziness and "go go go" of Florida, we did a lot of sitting around watching the kids play. My sister (http://www.zsquarednews.blogspot.com) has three kids, all three and under (twins!) so even sitting around watching the kids gets tiring!

The kids and I drove all day from Orlando to Tuscaloosa. I was really proud of them. We had put John on the plane the night before, and they had gotten packed up and we were on the road by 8:30 am. And they behaved themselves in the car. The GPS gives us the mileage remaining and the estimated time of arrival, so instead of "are we there yet?", I got "what time are we supposed to get there?" and "how many more miles?". Frankly, those questions are far less annoying, especially since I always answer "are we there yet" with "does it LOOK like we're there?"

But we arrived safely late in the day (but still daylight!) and proceeded to take over my sister's basement. We brought three boxes of toys and books and videos for the kids. Yeah! They're out of MY house! It worked out well - whenever children weren't getting along, we had a new distraction. Andy melted me the first night. He found a book on construction equipment (his love), and, in that adorable 3-yr old way, asked me to read to him. Awwwww......

There was also some sight-seeing. We took the kids on a bus ride around the U of Alabama campus. We went to a hands-on museum for children (a hit with all ages!). We went to Krispy Kreme - yes, that counts as sight-seeing. We don't have Krispy Kreme where we are in NJ. Rachel is still rhapsodizing about her hot donut experience.

We also saw barges and tugboats on the river, and did lots of hanging out. I would have loved to stay and hang out more, but I was getting worried about doing the drive home to NJ in two days by myself, so we ended up leaving late Sunday afternoon. The kids didn't want to leave, even though William was having the occasional "difference of opinion" with the twins. It's tough not to be the youngest, when that's what you're used to.

I did, however, come home with an excellent souvenir. They have a fig bush in their backyard, and when we arrived, Jim was canning fig jam, and the next day I observed the canning of fig pickles. So he sent me home with a jar of each, and I am looking forward to having friends over in the cold of winter and having these lovely figs to open. The fig pickles taste much like spiced apples (or pears). John decided that fig pickles was an awkward name, how about ... Fickles!

Yeah, this is the sense of humour I live with. Pity me.

Anyway, we got ourselves all packed up (only forgot my shampoo and razor, both replaceable), and left by 4pm. Drove to Chattanooga, then the next morning made it to Chambersburg, PA. We could have made it home, but it would have been close to midnight and I was already tired. So we were home by noon on Tuesday, and now we are readjusting to life at home.

Two weeks is a long vacation. It's nice to be home.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Disney Days

Despite the admittedly upsetting events at the beach, we did actually have a good trip. Our primary purpose was to celebrate John's parent's 50th wedding anniversary, and we did. The party on Saturday went very well - lots of people came, good food was eaten, cake was cut, pictures were taken. His parents seemed to have a good time, and the kids pretty much behaved themselves. What more do you want from a party?

50 years of marriage. Wow. Hope we make it that long.

Sunday, since we didn't feel like going to the beach (gee, ya think?), we went to the Speedway and did the NASCAR thing after church. Now, we are not really a NASCAR family. My dad would watch anything that raced (cars, trucks, boats, swamp buggies, you name it), and I did watch with him on occasion, but I really haven't followed it since then. And John's not really into it. But we had a good time. We saw the movie first, which was good, because it did a good job of introducing NASCAR for the kids. Explored the museum area some, but the highlight was John and JC doing a simulator race - JC beat all the human racers (but not the computer). And we took the tour of the track, though, alas, it was cut short by a torrential downpour. The guide took our picture on victory lane - but the camera lens was wet so it's out of focus. Rachel and William had to have souvenirs with their favorite drivers - turns out they are logo-driven, so William wanted Home Depot and Rachel went for M&Ms.

That evening, we drove to Orlando. I was driving, and as we came into the city, we hit a torrential downpour, and the GPS actually gave us the wrong directions, so it was a bit stressful. But we had a room at a timeshare place that was HUGE. Let me tell you, if you are traveling to a resort area with children, look into renting a timeshare condo. We had a two bedroom, two bath condo for a rate comparable to or less than a decent hotel room in the area. And if you sit through the timeshare pitch, you get a rebate on your Disney tickets! Yes, we did, and hopefully, we will. Disney is pricey, and we saved a couple hundred dollars by spending 90 minutes on Tuesday morning. Really!

Disney was, well, Disney. They are so good at what they do - except for the mob scene at the parking lot shuttle stop. Somehow they lost control there, and it was a zoo. But we all got to the park. It was brutally hot - Rachel actually fainted on the ferry ride, we think from the heat and dehydration. We gave her water and sat in a/c for a while and she was fine afterwards.

John's dad was the ultimate concierge. He would go on ahead and get fast pass tickets for the next "big" ride we wanted, and then as soon as we could get the next one, he was off to the next thing. We really waited in very few lines. It was crowded, but manageable. The hard part was William - turns out he doesn't really like rides. "It makes my tummy feel funny, Mom." We made him go on Splash Mountain, and then we had a hard time convincing him that Pirates of the Caribbean wasn't too exciting. Poor kid. He did like the People Mover, or whatever they call that now. And Buzz Lightyear was ok. We stayed until fireworks, so didn't get back until almost midnight.

Tuesday morning, the kids got to sleep late while John and I resisted the sales pitch. Then we met John's sister and his parents at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The big draw there was Expedition Everest roller coaster, and I have to say I'm glad John's sister was with us. She took the big kids on that, and John and I took William through an animal exhibit. Unfortunately, there was a torrential downpour (are you sensing a theme here?), and they actually closed all the rides including the animal exhibit we were in. We spent close to an hour huddled under the eaves of a cart, waiting out the rain. The kids and John's sister were next in line for their 2nd ride on the roller coaster, so at least they were in shelter - except that there was a lightning strike that hit the "mountain" right above their heads. They were all fine, but a little freaked out! Never did get the 2nd ride, it was closed for a while. John, William and I went on the animal jeep safari, and saw a TON of animals - probably because of the rain, it was cooler and the animals were more active. We even saw cheetahs (stalking an eland) and lions. Perfect for William, much more his speed.

Alas, there was more to do at Animal Kingdom but we had to take John to the airport. Fortunately, since his parents live an hour away, I think we'll be back to Disney. And now I'm off to bed, since our torrential downpour seems to have stopped for the evening. I'll let you know about Alabama tomorrow.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Narrowly Averted

I'm not really sure where to start, but perhaps by saying everyone is OK. It has been a most um... interesting trip so far. I am at my sister's house, borrowing her wireless network, and catching up on all the Internet stuff I haven't seen for the last week or so. And we are thanking God for His grace.

We started by driving down to Daytona Beach for the visit with John's parents. A couple of things happened on the drive down that were unpleasant but relatively minor (a lost credit card being the big one, but all that really means is a phone call). Got to town, checked the kids in with his parents, checked us in at the beach side hotel.

We went swimming fairly early the next morning. The kids were dropped off by the grandparents, two of John's sisters joined us, there was wave jumping and sand digging.

John almost drowned. He got caught in a current parallel to the beach, and ended up in an deeper area where he couldn't touch bottom. He was far enough from us that I could see him, but couldn't hear him or tell that he was in trouble. Rachel ran down to "swim with Dad" and ran back to tell me she thought he was calling for help. I ran down towards him, heard him calling, and started screaming for help.

God sent us our brother-in-law and two strangers, who brought him in safely. He's OK.

Perhaps I can write more detail later, but it still makes me absolutely sick to my stomach. You can know intellectually that things like this happen, or even that you could be hit by a bus at any time, but it is a horrible gut punch when you are face to face with it.

The rest of the trip has been fine. I'll post more about it later. But I had to get this out, and over with. Thank you, to the strangers who helped save him. I will never be able to thank them enough. And thank you, God, for putting them in the right place at the right time.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Ready, Set, Go!

We are almost ready for the Great Southern Marathon. This is a two-week trip that involves a 50th Wedding Anniversary, DisneyWorld, a business trip to Toronto, 5 entire days of just driving (not contiguous), multiple relatives from both sides of the family, and a Suburban packed to the gills.

We are leaving tomorrow morning. John is not yet back from the last trip to Toronto. I still have a smattering of stuff to do, most of which the kids can't really help with (they've actually been really good), but I'm sitting down for a much needed break. I was hoping to start loading the car tonight, but I think I will settle for having everything in a pile to be loaded in the morning. I finally got my suitcase packed except for jewelry and makeup. I haven't double-checked the kids suitcases, I think I'm going on faith.

But the house is mostly clean. All the laundry (except for today's) is done. Cat boxes are changed. Recycling is on the curb. And now I have to go chase William through the shower.

Wish us luck! Even more sporadic posting for a while!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Chicks in the Nest

All my babes are safe at home. We picked up Rachel and JC from camp today. A little stinky, but not too bad. A couple of loads of laundry, which of course they had stuffed their towels into so it's wet laundry. But John's on top of it, so it's already in the washer.

They had a good time. Rachel said it was hard at bedtime, and it didn't sound like she really bonded with her cabinmates at all. They were all girly girls, and apparently were loud and talked all the time. 10 yr. old girls - gee, ya think? But she hung with the boys and played running around games and canoed and had fun. Yes, she wants to go back next year, and she was giving William the hard sell when we were picking her up.

JC had fun as well, although it's always harder to get a story out of him. Sounds like he fished a lot, canoed, and.... well, maybe we'll find out more over the next few days.

It was very quiet with them gone. William watched a lot of tv, and we did a couple of day trips (Kutztown Pennsylvania Festival on the 4th). Now the dishwasher fills up much faster, there's some squabbling over tv/video/etc. But it's nice to have everyone home.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Letters! I got letters!

I got letters from camp! Of course, it is camp policy that they must write a letter on Sunday if they want to eat that night. But I got letters!

JC says:
"Dear Mom,
Camp has been good so far. It is very much the same, a few changes but nothing drastic. It is unusually hot, humid and icky. In general, although, there has been a happy lack of blood-sucking insects. This has been disproving the camp song (on back). And if you could, sending a small battery powered fan would be nice. Very small so it can go on my bed area.
Love, JC"

Rachel says:
"I'm having a great time at camp. How's things at home? Last night we had carrot cake for dessert, and after lunch today, we had ice cream! Today we had a swim test, so tomorrow we'll go canoeing! Today's crew job was "dishwasher". It's a bit hard to sleep, but it's fun at camp. My cabin mates are very loud AND like to talk all the time.
Right now it's rest time, where you can sleep, draw, or write, and a thunderstorm has started. Bye!
Love, Rachel"

As a mom, you know they're going to have fun, but it's nice to have confirmation.

Beach Bums

I am not a beach person, let me make that very clear. I sunburn really fast, never tan, and bright sunlight gives me a headache.

However, William and I went to the beach yesterday and had a lovely time. A friend of mine who has a son the same age as William has a beach house down in Manahawken (ok, it's her mom's, but close enough). They were going to be down there for a week or two, and since JC and Rachel are off at camp this week, we thought it would be a nice diversion for William to go down and visit for a day.

We had a lovely time. William and I got there about 11am (it's an hour & 45 minutes from here), so we put suits on the kids and let them swim and splash in the little aboveground pool at the house while we drank iced coffee and sat in the shade. Then we went and got lunch at a bar (hey, it had kid-friendly food!) in our swimsuits. I could do this beach-living thing!

Then the beach. We managed to forget beach chairs, but remember the umbrella. I don't think we schlepped too much more than we needed to, and we did bring a wagon. We had really good parking karma, and it wasn't a long walk. And the beach had a lot of people but wasn't really crowded, so it was easy to find a nice spot to spread the towels. And it was lovely. I got to sit in the shade of the umbrella, there was a nice breeze so it wasn't too hot, and the ocean was cold enough William really only wanted to get his feet wet. So the kids wave-hopped, dug in the sand, rolled in the sand, got wet and rolled in the sand some more... and I sat in the shade and talked to my friend and helped dig for the castle. I still got sunburned, even with SPF 50, but not badly.

Back to the house, showered the sand off the kids, and then went for a ride in their speedboat. I'm really not a boat person either, but it was fun (if a little windy) to see the bay and the kite surfers. We tried to pull into a restaurant for dinner, but the kids didn't have shoes and they wouldn't even let us on the deck without them. So we had to go back to the house and then to dinner. Then William and I drove home - they offered that we could stay the night, but since we're off to Florida next week, I was feeling a little time crunched.

Have I accomplished anything today? Not much!