Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Favorite Place



 Early mornings on the houseboat are the most peaceful place and time I know. Jeff wakes early, gets the coffee percolating, and takes the dogs outside. That is my time to just lie still and enjoy the tranquility. The faded coral curtains cushion the harsh light of the morning sun and cast a pink hue in the cabin, warming my face. The gentle rocking of the boat as the waves lap the shore almost send me back to sleep. But there is just enough noise to keep me awake. Occasionally I can hear a small fishing boat puttering its way past the back of the boat. The deep timbre of fishermen voices is muted. They seem to appreciate the need for quiet. After they pass, the plop of fishes jumping out of the water makes me smile...they are safe from the hook, for now. Creaking springs and rustling from the back futon means the girls are rousing, perhaps disturbed by the passing boat, but only for a minute. From a distance, I can hear Jeff call to the dogs and then make conversation with the friends in the next boat. Amanda’s voice is still croaky from sleep. The smell of the coffee grows stronger, its pungent aroma trying to pull me from the comfort of bed. And just when I think I’ll have to give in to it, the pounding and prancing from the feet of 5 dogs makes the boat dance and the boards shake. The sliding door fooshes open. I dive, shrieking, under the covers as three little wet dogs jump on me in a cascade of water and sand. The Rottweilers shake their butts in an effort to wag stubby tails, wishing they could join the little dogs on the bed. My peace is shattered…but as the excitement of another day on the beach begins, my joy continues.

*This is my Tuesday Quick-Write for the Teachers Write Virtual Summer Camp. :)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A bed fit for a queen...

My husband and I have been married for almost 19 years. When we were first together, we were happy to snuggle up in a twin size bed. For the 19 years of our married life, we lived under the assumption that we couldn't get a bed bigger than a double up the stairs to our bedroom. Our house was first constructed in the late 1800s, with add-ons over the years. But in the last 6 months or so, we have been unable to sleep in that little bed together. Jeff began sleeping on the sofa in the living room and I was happy to stretch out and have a bed to myself.

But it wasn't fair to make him sleep on the couch. And I kind of missed him. Just a little. So, with income tax refund money, we decided it was time for a new mattress. We read and researched and looked and got confused. Then we finally made a decision. We ordered a mattress (we thought we could fit a California king up the stairs, and Jeff managed, but he had to ratchet-strap it to "git 'er done"!) and Jeff got busy building a platform for the mattress. We'd just had a mattress and box springs on the floor and I decided I was too old for that. I wanted a real bed, off the floor, that looks pretty and makes my room look like a grown-up room.
The first step was to get the old mattress and box springs out of the way. You can see where the old one sat from the faded paint on the floor!
Getting boards in place.

It's taking shape!

Figuring out how to get things screwed together from the bottom.
It's finished!

But we were still awaiting delivery on the new mattress. Look how small it makes our old mattress look!
Then the mattress arrived and next came the new bed comforter. It is a bit short, so the sheets show at the top.

So the new sheets are the same color as the comforter. Mom fixed up the dust ruffle to make it easier to take off and put on. And now it is all done!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Twelve Things

Twelve years ago, a colleague at work had to drive me to my mom's house. I was having contractions strong enough that she wouldn't let me drive myself. Once at my mom's I was stuck--she had no car at her disposal! But at the end of all the crazy obstacles was a pink and perfect Lili. In honor of her birthday, here are twelve things you should know about Lili.
 1. She's the baby! I never wanted another child after Lili, which is a good thing because she is NOT a middle-kid kind of child!

2. She is creative. Dancing, drawing, crafting, cooking...Lili loves to try it all.

3. She is a dreamer. I don't know when it started, but Lili has always seemed to live in a world of her own. One of the first phrases we said to her--and haven't stopped saying--is "Focus, Lili!"

4. She is a charmer. Lili has always seemed to understand the mantra "Better to ask forgiveness than permission." And we have never not been able to forgive that little pixie face.

5. She loves to snack. She gets her sweet tooth from my family. But she also buys out the gas station's inventory of Cheese Pringles on a weekly basis.

6. She is messy. We often tease her about her collecting and warn her that her house will look like an episode of Hoarders.

7. She loves cats. Along with her messy house, we tease her that she will be a crazy cat lady some day.

8. She is a hard worker---if you pay her!

9. She is so smart. She used to be overshadowed by her big sister's academic achievement, but she has proven that the classroom is her domain as well.

10. She has a unique fashion sense. Just read this and you'll see what I mean!

11. She will probably NEVER give up her pink blanket. This lovey is considerably less pink and fluffy than she used to be, but Lili still carries her around, tucked right up under her nose!

12. She is unpredictable. Lili sure does keep us on our toes. Every day with her is a joy--sometimes a frustrating joy, but we wouldn't change a thing about her!

Happy Birthday, Lilienne!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fifteen Things

Last year when G turned 14, I spent some time pouring my heart into a blog post for her. I didn't think I had it in me to write a new one this year. My depth of feeling for her hasn't changed...so it just felt like it would be a repetition of all the stuff I already said.

Then my good friend Jenn* posted this about her own 15 year old, Spencer. And I had my inspiration. So, here are 15 things you should know about Genevieve.

1. She is thoughtful. Genevieve is always quick to jump in and help. When she hears me in the kitchen making dinner or cleaning up, she is right there to help. When I go to work and she is home with a snow day, she does little things to help out around the house...cleaning the bathroom, doing some laundry.

2. She is caring and generous. When one of her best friends was in a car accident, she wanted to be at the hospital all the time. She took magazines for her friend to read, new headbands to keep her feeling fresh, and her favorite photo album of all their friends on their East Coast trip.

3. She has a fabulous way with words. Whether in writing or speaking, G's intelligence shines through. She loves to write: stories, songs. She began her writing career when she was just little, creating menus and 'taking orders' from her dad and me.

4. She is sarcastic and punny. Genevieve says something that makes me laugh every day. Her sense of humor is dry, witty, and sharp. She has always been able to keep up with Jeff's and my  "playful banter" and it didn't take long for her to join right in. She can find pretty funny stuff on the internet too....Jenna Marbles...

5. She is passionate. When G finds something interesting, she grabs on and doesn't let go...sometimes to the point of almost obsession: Law and Order SVU, Lady Gaga, writing music, reading realistic fiction, playing volleyball. She gives 100% to the things she loves.

6. She is comically uncoordinated. Although she is a pretty good volleyball player, she cannot cut paper. She cannot walk in high heels. She looks hilarious trying to dance. And she knows it and can laugh at herself.

7. She has a natural confidence. Genevieve knows who she is and doesn't waste time trying to fit in or to be something she is not. And she has little patience for others who are fake or intolerant.

8. She is logical and level-headed. I love that Genevieve can see the stupidity in a lot of things. She will refuse to do things just because society (or school) says she should. She wants a good reason and she'll be civilly disobedient if not given that reason. She doesn't get involved in the regular teen girl drama either.

9. She has a way with little kids. Even though she's lately taken to saying that she isn't having kids, she is so fun to watch around them. She's patient and calm and kind. And she loves them, so it is joyful just to watch her be with them.

10. She has an awesome sense of style. Though I miss her insistence on wearing dresses every day like she did when she was little, she does know how to put together an outfit.

11. She sings REALLY loudly in the shower. Like so loudly that we can hear her clearly across the house.

12. She has a strong sense of family. The pictures all over her bookshelves in her room show it. She was lucky to know her great grandparents and she knows how lucky she was.

13. She is responsible. I could let her go out and play by herself when she was little. She was like a little mother to Lili when Lili was a baby. And I've never been worried to leave her in charge at home when Jeff and I go out...even for a weekend last summer.

14. She is introverted. This is a change from when she was younger. She used to want to be the center of attention. She wanted to be at a different friend's house every weekend. Now she seems content to be at home. Sometimes I worry she's losing the fearlessness that used to mark her personality. I hope it is a natural part of making her way through her teen years and that she regains some of that courage when she emerges into adulthood.

15. She is intelligent. Genevieve cares about and knows what is happening in the world. She can hold intelligent conversations with adults. She is going to be a successful woman and I am thoroughly enjoying watching her transformation.

*I met Jenn and 13 other moms online in an AOL forum when G was a couple months old. We all had babies born in February of 1997. So not only is G 15, but so is my friendship with these other fantastic moms. :)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Traditions...New and Old

I love Christmas. And I am a stickler for traditions. As a kid, Christmas Eve was always spent at my grandparents' house. We always had pork sandwiches (we call them porkies) and macaroni and cheese. The house was full of people and the proliferation of presents was amazing.

As we grandkids got older and started our own families, we didn't always do Christmas Eve at Nana's, but there was always a celebration at her house some time before Christmas...whenever we could all get together. Christmas Eve 2010 was the last time for the tradition of Nana's house. It turned out that it was a blessing that my family, my parents, my sister's family, and my brother's family could all be together one more time. It was a special day, but we didn't know how special until the next day.

Christmas 2010 was the worst Christmas ever. First my sweet G woke in the night sicker than she had been in a long time. The poor thing was puking every hour and then after a couple of hours, it was my turn. I called my dad to come and pick up the other two girls (Lili and Gab) for Christmas dinner at mom and dad's house (another tradition.) An hour later, he called back to say that mom wouldn't be cooking dinner. Nana, who had been diagnosed with lymphoma for quite some time, was rapidly declining. Mom was staying by her side.

Nana passed away later than evening. It was a terrible Christmas.

This year I decided to take over for Nana. Christmas Eve is going to be at my house. I have a pork roast in the oven for the porkies. Genevieve made Nana's Chex Mix...she used to make gallons of it and everyone got to take home a huge bag full. Mom is bringing my brother's favorite corn beef dip. And G made pumpkin pies all by herself.

And the Noel/Leon train is all ready for my brother. :)

So we carry on old traditions in a new way and we will be thinking about the precious people in our lives who began these traditions that we are lucky enough to carry on.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Christmas List...with commentary

I LOVE my Pill. Seriously, if you need an illustration of how awesome she is, just check out this Christmas list she gave me yesterday. Comments in italics are mine. :)

1. Leg warmers
2. Arm warmers
apparently she gets cold
3. playdough dentist umm, no
4. mind flex she's seen the Try-It-Before-You-Buy-It that shows this is worthless but I guess she thinks her mind is more powerful than most people's
5. stompies I don't even know what that is
6. socks
7. new room in a new house? an addition?
8. cloths or maybe clothes?
9. ripped leggings
10. white sparkally heels those must be even fancier than sparkly heels!
11. red sparkally heels
12. flats
13. leggings good to know I don't only have to look for ripped ones!
14. Gaga stuff
15. laptop
16. new phone
17. shoes/heels in case I didn't know what sparkally heels and flats are, I guess
18. shirts
19. Wii games
20. xbox kennict hmm, I'm not sure I'll be able to find a kennict!
21. ripped shirts
22. kitten
23. bunny
24. bags
25. money
26. bows
27. playdough icecream what is with the playdough? She knows I hate playdough.
28. shorts
29. make up even though I took away all her make up about a month ago!
30. nail polish
31. jackets
32. posters hmm, any old poster? She hates Justin Bieber, I should get her a poster of him! 
33. jeans which she will never wear because she only wants to wear ripped leggings and tutus. I can't believe there are no tutus on her list!
34. crowns
35. puppy because the kitten and bunny aren't enough AND we don't already have 5 dogs!!
36. this one is my favorite: go to wesco that's right, wesco the gas station. Doesn't every kid want a trip to the gas station? No? Only The Pill? Well, she did used to ask for a bag of cotton balls every year. At least she makes it easy for me!
37. movies trip
38. any other things
Yep, that's right she ends with "any other things." What a goofy kid!


The Pill in the orange skirt. She is one of a kind...although she is rubbing off on her friend!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Anyone could lose weight on 500 calories a day!

I have a good friend who just finished following the HCG diet. That's the one where you put some homeopathic drops under your tongue...I'm not sure it's really HCG. But she looks great and she swears the diet works. So, seeing that I was still skeptical, she let me borrow her book: The Weight Loss Cure "They" Don't Want You to Know About by Kevin Trudeau.

Let me just begin by saying, Kevin is not a good author. The only reason this book ever made the NYT Bestseller list is because so many people are so desperate to lose weight. And if you can lose weight on this diet, you can lose weight on ANY diet. It is unrealistic and full of lies. That alone made me so angry that I would not do any part of this diet that might cause money to enter Kevin Trudeau's bank account. He has such a thing for conspiracy theories, but if anybody is telling lies to make money, it is he.

From here on out, I am just going to share quotes from the book.
Page 7 "When you finish the protocol your metabolism is reset to the normal level...You will be able to eat any food you want."
Page 9 "Most importantly, when I finished losing all the fat, inches, and weight I wanted, I needed to be able to eat anything I wanted, any time I wanted, as much as I wanted, and never gain the weight back."
Page 19 "This does not mean you will be restricted to certain kinds of food. On the contrary, when you finish 'the weight loss cure protocol' you will be able to eat any food you want in any amount you want any time you want."
Page 29 The even better news is when you are finished with the protocol you will be able to eat any kind of food you want. You will be able to eat cheeseburgers, French fries, ice cream, cookies, cakes, breads, pasta, cheese, butter, cream, steak, pizza, Mexican food, mashed potatoes and gravy, virtually any kind of food you want."
Page 47 "To further prove that the treatment, in fact, cured the disorder, all patients must have the ability to eat normally any food he pleases in any amounts without regaining abnormal fat or weight after the treatment."

Compare those quotes with these:
Page 76 "Phase 4: This phase is for the rest of your life. It contains the simple easy to follow dos and don'ts that make sure..."
Page 105 "Phase 4 is for the rest of your life. This phase will consist of some basic and easy to follow dos and don'ts that will become your new, exciting habits."
Page 106 "The simplest rule to follow is to eat anything you want, as much as you want, as often as you want. The only caveat is only eat 100% organic food."

The "simple easy to follow dos and don'ts", the "new exciting habits" consist of a list that numbers 50 items! I'll just give you a taste (which is really about all you can eat on phase 4: the rest of your life!)
Page 106 "1. Eat only 100% organic food."
Page 107 "2. No "brand name" food. The rule here is not to eat food produced by publicly traded corporations. Remember, large publicly traded food companies are the enemy."
Page 107 "3. No fast food, regional or national chain restaurants."
Remember, this is THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!
Page 107 "4. Do a Candida cleanse."  Umm easy? I don't even know what that is!

It goes on to list a colon cleanse, a liver cleanse, a parasite cleanse, a heavy metal cleanse...and on and on and on. The list is so ridiculous. But it's the dichotomy of his first chapters that claim you can eat whatever, whenever, as much as you want and then the chapter where he finally lays out the phases of the diet and it is clear that you will NEVER be able to eat whatever you want, as much as you want, blah, blah, blah. I hate when I get lied to. I hate people who don't think I am smart enough to figure out their game. Kevin Trudeau's game is to make money by writing about a diet that is so impossible very few people could ever follow it, and therefore, they can't blame him when it doesn't work.

Please, please, please be careful if you do this diet. I have serious concerns about the healthiness of some of the procedures he recommends. And at the height of the diet, you are only supposed to eat 500 calories a day. Anybody could use weight on 500 calories a day but it sure doesn't seem healthy to me.