Sunday, September 30, 2007

Playing catch up

I've spent the past week getting caught up on home and work projects. Now, it's time to get caught up over here. It reminds me of one of those squishy liquid-filled tubes that the kids have. You squeeze one end, get a handle on it, only to have the other end baloon up and get all out of proportion until you eventually drop the whole thing on the floor.
First, I want to to thank a couple of fellow bloggers who were nice to tell me I make them smile:) Or, I guess, my blog makes them smile. Tonya, at Homeschooling Momma has a really nice place (and her Christmas ticker reminds me that there are only 86 days left until Christmas. Talk about getting my to-do lists squeezed out of shape. Yikes). And, I apologize 50 times over, but I cannot find the other person who was so kind to name me for this! I read it last week when I was buried under. So, thank you, whoever you are, from the bottom of my heart.
And, guess what? It's time for some new reading challenges. I was actually going to refrain from joining any reading challenges for a while. I belong to two book clubs and am in a family of readers. As much as I enjoy sharing reading as a hobby, I also love the thrill of coming upon a book spur of the moment at the library or a book store, and picking it up and reading it for the sheer joy of doing so. Not having a thought in the back of my mind that I will eventually be discussing it with a group, reporting back to the person who recommended it, or be held accountable because I put it on my list. From past experience, I'm not very good at sticking with lists anyway. But, having said all of this, there is a challenge that I can't resist. It's the In Their Shoes Reading Challenge and it runs from January to December 2008. You can read as many (or as few) memoirs, biographies and autobiographies as you want, and at your own pace. And you can use the books for cross-challenges and even do re-reads. How can I miss?
To re-cap the weekend, a funny thing happened when I set some goals for this week. I got started on getting my to-do list knocked off, and I just couldn't stop. The photos I ordered from Snapfish came in the mail Friday, so I spent Saturday cleaning bathrooms, stripping beds, then doing laundry and getting photos put in albums. Yeah!
In other news, how 'bout them Rockies? Friday's game was a bummer (but we did get to go down on the field to watch the fireworks display afterward, and that's always fun. Lying in the grass in the same spot where Brad Hawpe runs around catching fly balls. Watching the firewords light up the sky and listening to Lee Greenwood belt out "God Bless the USA.") But, last night's game and today's game. We're still in it! For those non-baseball fans and, just to irritate one of my readers (you know who you are, bro

Friday, September 28, 2007

Catching up

Just a quick cup of coffee and a quick blog this morning. Looking back over the week, I got a lot of things crossed off my list. There were two three biggies though. I finally finished entering all the books into the computer for our parish library -- yippeeeee! There are close to 2,000 items, including books, videos and DVDs, audio books, CDs. Now, it's all nice and tidy, in my computer at the moment. Yesterday, I went to Office Depot and bought some binders and dividers to organize it all, and the next step is getting all the cards printed out.

The second project was uploading our family photos from this summer to Snapfish. I ordered the prints and they should be here in a few days, ready to put into photo albums.

The other project involved getting caught up with work, so I'm set to take on a new project beginning on Monday. Ahhh, life is good.

And, of course, in the middle of all this, life goes on. . . laundry, meals, volunteering at the school, tai kwon do lessons (for Em, not me, although I do feel like I got a couple good chops and kicks in this week, having accomplished all this stuff).

Tonight, we're going to see the Rockies at Coors Field. They're hot! and let's just hope the winning streak continues.

I'll be around to catch up with everyone soon!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Break time

I'm taking a little break from blogging this week because my to-do list looks kind of like this: Because this past weekend, Dan and I spent two days up in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, surrounded by beauty like this:
And it was worth every minute! See you in a couple days.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Happy Birthday, Joe!

Today, Joe, our oldest child, turns 18. Wow. Eighteen. It feels like a milestone for all of us. Being the "old soul" that he is, he's glad that the rest of the world finally acknowledges him as an adult. At long last he can open his own checking account and register to vote. And for me . . well, I feel as though I should get a certificate or something for having gotten him this far. Other than a broken wrist and a missing appendix, he's pretty much in one piece.

The scarey part is how quickly the past 18 years have flown by. Granted, there were days that seemed endless, but truly those were few and far between -- getting through 3rd grade "definitions" assignments come to mind. Thank goodness for scrapbooks and  journaling. There were so many of those "I'll never forget this" moments, that are forgotten, but I did manage to document a few of the important ones.

I'm writing this as though my job is done and he'll be moving out next week. Of course, that's not true. (Thank God!) My grandmother's advice for raising kids was to "bury them at two and dig them up at eighteen." If that were the case, Joe should be perfectly seasoned about now and ready to face the world on his own. And this is where I find myself in a panic. I'm not done with him yet! There are still so many things I have left to teach him -- how to separate the whites from the darks, Ramen is not a balanced diet in itself, and neck ties aren't supposed to go through the washing machine.

However, for now, I choose nostalgia as I think back to the night we brought him home. His first three weeks of life were spent in a cradle home, where a young couple and their children adored him and cared for him and snuggled him for us, until we could bring him home for our very own. I remember holding him for the first time, falling in love at first sight, changing him into the soft blue sleeper we had so carefully chosen for him, and then, taking him out to the car to put him in his new car seat. It was almost dreamlike and I recall whispering to Dan, "They're not even checking that we put him in the car the right way!" One day it was just the two of us, the next day it was literally as though a stork had dropped this priceless cargo in our laps. Driving home that night, I sat in the back seat as close to him as the car seat would allow. With anticipation, I waited for each street light that we passed, to shine a soft light on Joey's little face, so I could watch him sleep.

I still look at him and see the light shining on his face -- it must be the reflection of the stars in my eyes for this baby boy who has grown into a young man I'm so proud to call my son.

Happy birthday, Joey. I love you! xoxo

Monday, September 17, 2007

Home Sweet Home

This afternoon I had coffee with my brother at his house. We sat on his back screened-in porch that looks out over the back yard. A yard lush with rose bushes, lilac bushes, assorted shrubs and a huge maple tree that canopies the yard. It's the maple tree that always takes me back in time. I think back to when the house belonged to my parents, and my brothers and I grew up there. I picture in my mind all the birthdays, baby and bridal showers, Fourth of July barbeques and graduation parties that were held in that yard, the lawnchairs circled beneath the maple tree, tables lined up laden with food. When my dad decided to move three years ago, having lived there alone for several years following my mother's death, I was saddened that strangers would move in, and all the memories would be washed away like sand castles melting on a beach. I was overjoyed when my brother and his wife decided to buy the place. Now, once again, the house is filled with the noise and goings-on of a family with three boys. A week ago I had the pure joy of spending an entire day in the house with my nephew who is now three. It occured to me, as I fixed his lunch, sat in the rocker in his little room that is decorated with cuddly baseball bears, and chased him down the hallway to the kitchen, that when my family moved to the house, my youngest brother was just Tommy's age. I thought of my mother doing these things with him during the day, while the three of us older kids attended the elementary school, just a block down the street. As I baked cookies with Tommy so we would have a surprise for his big brothers when they got home from work and school, I thought of my mother and how she made that house a home. I remember an aunt who visited us one time. She came in the front door, and looking around she sighed, "Oh, Caroline, your house just hugs me. It's so warm." My mother took pride in keeping the brick, Cape Cod style home neat as a pin, and more important, comfortable and liveable. The hardwood floors and braided rugs seemed old-fashioned compared to the fashionable wall-to-wall carpeting in my friends' homes. (Yet my friends flocked to my house and loved my upstairs bedroom with the sloped ceilings and old-fashioned four poster bed that was my grandmother's.) Every room in the house contained bookcases; built-in bookcases that flanked the fireplace in the living room, and smaller bookcases tucked into the dormers in the bedrooms upstairs. Most of these were my dad's handiwork. His craftsmanship was seen throughout the house, in the woodwork that finished each room and the pieces of furniture that he crafted in his workroom in the basement. To this day, the smell of sawdust and varnish makes me think of my dad at work on some piece of furniture that would delight my mother. The heart of the home was my mother's blue and white kitchen. Blue-checked wallpaper was on the wall behind the cupboards, while blue-and-white delft plates and tiles added cheer to the larger, painted white walls. My mother's home sewn curtains decorated the windows, and on the handle of the oven there always hung a pretty new dishtowel themed for the current holiday or season. The round table was more than adequate for a family of six, and it was where we gathered around when it was time for "tea" -- a ritual that took place every afternoon. Or morning. Or evening. Or whenever anyone was inclined to sit and chat at the kitchen table. The spoonholder and sugar bowel sat in the middle, at the ready for the kettle to whistle. As much as my mother knew how to make the house feel like a home, her gift was making anyone who entered feel like they were at home. There was nothing that couldn't be made better over a cup of tea and a piece of coffee cake. She and our next door neighbor were the best of friends, and many afternoons we would come home from school to find Mom and "Aunt Barb" discussing world events over a cup of tea. The kitchen was also the place that Mom did her ironing. Stacks of freshly ironed clothes would be piled on the table, and Mom would have a portable television set up so she could watch the Weekly Afternoon Movie with host Starr Yelland "Dialing for Dollars" during the intermission. She wasn't one to watch the soaps, but she loved the "old movies". And I loved coming home to a warm kitchen with the smell of freshly ironed clothes, and the tea kettle at the ready. I think about my mom a lot these days and hope that I'm creating the kind of home that my kids will remember fondly. I guess as a child growing up, I didn't give the details much thought. I just knew that home was a place that was safe and warm and that I was loved. And there was always time and a place at the table for a cup of tea.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Morning cup

It's a beautiful September day in Colorado. My favorite kind of day. The sky is brilliant blue and the air has a touch of fall in it.
If you haven't visited Kim at Daisy Cottage, you really should go over and take a peek. Stopping over there has become my morning therapy. Today she's all about ric-rac and Wedgewood. I love visiting her little yellow cottage and just drinking in all of the goodness and prettyiness of it all.
And for those of you who commented on the neatness of my office space -- of course I straightened it up before I took the picture! That's what last weekend was all about. But, I'll have you know, I'm on Day 3 and it is still in order!
Random thoughts about Wednesdays -- I picked Luke up from school for an orthodontist appointment this morning, and because it's Wednesday the church across the street from the school has their "Jesus Pizza" sign out. For $2 the kids get pizza, a drink and chips. I guess they do quite a business over there. Luke says they have cool music! . . . . .The grocery ads came out in the paper today, so it's time to plan menus for next week. I'm loving my new "old system." I feel so on top of this supper thing these days. . . . . Em has Tai Kwon Do after school. She's only been at it a few weeks, but doing so well. I love watching the kids of all sizes in their clean, white outfits and bare feet. They all look like they're running around in the pajamas and it's endearing in a way. The studio plays soft music, the kids are intent on doing their forms and eager to help each other learn the various routines. When it's time to work as a class, they hurry to line up in formation. It's fairly quiet, save for the voice of the instructor and the frequent yells of "Ki ahp!" as they hit their marks in their punches.
My "mission today" ala Mission Impossible (and I have no choice but to accept it) is to buy vacuum cleaner bags -- I'm all out. So I'm off!

Monday, September 10, 2007

My space. . .

Good grief, a whole week since I've blogged. I guess the good news is that I've been busy and quite productive doing things around the house. One of my projects has been getting the office up to speed. And, wouldn't you know it, Robyn is hosting a "Show Your Creative Space" tour. Just in time, I have mine all cleaned up! You would not have wanted to see it last week. I've also been inspired of late to get my menu and grocery shopping system back up to speed. It seems there are a number of bloggers working on the same kind of thing, probably because with the fall weather we all feel like cooking again! I've had fun pouring over other people's ideas, and even asking my friends "do you plan menus, how often do you shop?" (I'm sure they're thinking I need to get a life, but after 20 plus years of doing this, I'm thinkin' there has to be a way to shake it up a bit and make it more fun.) In the end, I've stuck to the plan I've had all along, with a few changes. (Isn't that the way it goes?) I have a three-ring binder divided into several sections -- menu lists, copies of my grocery list, blank weekly menu sheets, even a special section for holiday meals and the menus I've done in the past. I managed to weed through a lot of old recipes (and stole Becky's idea that my "recipes to be tried section" will be limited to a certain number. If I add a new one, then I take one out that has been there forever. If I haven't been inspired to try it yet, it must not be that great.) Also, before I put a menu on my master menu list, I have a self-imposed rule that I must have made the dish at least twice and that it was generally favored by most all of the family. This way my menu list is comprised of all family favorites. I make a menu plan for the week, but it's flexible enough to switch the days around, since I would go crazy trying to stick to a rigid plan. Also, I plan my menus from what I have in my freezer. I shop for meat, poultry, fish when its on sale. Then on menu planning day, I take stock of what I have in the freezer, plan the menu accordingly, and make up a shopping list for any other ingredients I might need, as well as staples. For this, I have a shopping list that I've put on the computer and can just print out. Mostly though, I rely on the list on the fridge. When we're out of something, I write it down. I've trained my family that if they want something, write it on the list. I'm not responsible for remembering anything they just tell me! As I shop, I buy whatever meat is on sale for the next week. I guess I should add that I also use the newspaper ads to make up my menus. If I have beef in the freezer and taco stuff is on sale, well. . . we're having tacos. Short of coming up with a flow chart, this system seems to work for me!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

100 Things About Me

In the tradition of the 100th post (actually it's my 108th post, but who's counting?) I present The List. One Hundred Things About Me 1. I was born on April 24, 1958. 2. In Newark, New Jersey. 3. My parents names are Joe and Caroline. 4. I don't have a middle name. 5. I'm the second of four children and the only girl. 6. When my youngest brother was born, I cried because I wanted him to be a sister. He is now one of my very best friends. 7. I don't know what I'll do without him for a year when he starts his deployment to Iraq in October. I'll hound him with e-mails is my guess. I tear up just thinking about it. 8. I play the piano. 9. I met my best friend in 7th grade. 10. We are still best friends. 11. I am 6'1" tall. 12. In junior high and high school I sewed all my own clothes. 13. I also had a sewing school and taught sewing classes for children. 14. I've been to 8 different emergency rooms in 4 different states. 15. In college I had my own house painting business for a summer. 15. I have a degree in History. 17. As you can tell, it wasn't in math. I just skipped number 16. I don't like math. 18. I'm afraid of heights, including crossing bridges. 19. I like to drink my tea with milk and sugar. 20. I used to be a waitress, worked in a medical lab washing test tubes, and worked for a cleaning business. 21. I hate to clean. 22. My husband and I met when we were on the company bowling team. 23. I had the worst average in the entire league. 24. I like buying souvenior pencils wherever I go. 25. I've never watched "Lost", "American Idol", or "Dancing with the Stars." 26. This will change in a few weeks when Jane Seymour is on "Dancing with the Stars." 27. My favorite books as a child were Charlotte's Web and the original Bambi by Felix Salten. 28. My favorite dessert is vanilla ice cream with hot fudge. Whipped cream and nuts are good, but leave off the cherry. 29. I've been interviewed on a morning radio talk show. 30. I am not a morning person. 31. My favorite snack is peanut M&Ms. 32. My favorite flowers are Lily of the Valley and violets. 33. I've read everything I can find by and about Anne Morrow Lindbergh. 34. I play golf . . . poorly. 35. I can type over 100 words per minute. 36. I've never been on a jury, but I would like to be. 37. I became a mother for the first time at the age of 31, when we adopted our son. 38. We've adopted two more children after that, another son and then a daughter. 39. The age difference between our first and second, and second and third is exactly 3 years, 8 months. 40. I love to organize things, but I hate to clean. Right now, my house looks like I do neither. 41. I'm addicted to chocolate. 42. My dream job would be to own and run a stationery store. 43. I like to collect and use teapots and vintage linens. 44. One of my favorite books of all time is "Valley of Decision" by Marcia Davenport. I don't know of anyone else who has read it. (Have you?) 45. I used to have insomnia as a kid. Now, I can sleep anywhere, anytime, and love to nap. 46. I'm a big time procrastinator. 47. I used to play a lot of tennis. I haven't played in five years or more. 48. I was an all-conference basketball player in high school. 49. My favorite sport now is baseball, because I enjoy watching my son play and going to games with my husband. 50. I love having time alone, by myself, in my house. 51. When I was in college, I met the second best friend in my life. How blessed am I to have two best friends? 52. I loved college more than high school. 53. If it were practical, I would still be going to school. I love new pencils, notebooks and every September is a new beginning. 54. I graduated from the University of Northern Colorado. 55. I was a nursing student for two years, but quit the day I had to give someone a shot. I don't know why I didn't think that it would bother me before that. 56. I love to take pictures. 57. I love putting together photo albums and scrapbooks.
58. My checkbook rarely balances and it doesn't bother me. 59. One of my favorite classes in high school was an art class I took with my brother (#2). 60. Giraffes are my favorite animals. 61. I spent my 45th birthday in the hospital passing a kidney stone. 62. I've broken a wrist and cracked a rib (but not at the same time). 63. I've had surgery on both feet. 64. People's medical issues (including my own) bore me. Moving on . . . 65. My favorite perfume is Chanel 19. 66. My favorite foods are Mexican, my mom's Thanksgiving dinner and her Christmas cookies. 67. My mom died, unexpectedly, seven years ago. 68. It was the first, and so far the only time, I have experienced true grief in my life. 69. My dad remarried three years ago, and I love his new wife. 70. I love the ocean. I have been to a number of beaches, but my favorites are in Hawaii and the good ole Jersey shore. 71. I have a messy desk, because for me "out of sight is out of mind." This is a constant battle for me. 72. It takes me at least 20 minutes to fall asleep at night. The best method for going to sleep, for me, is saying the rosary. I don't think God minds that I fall to sleep, talking to him. 73. When I was in high school I was told I looked like Jennifer O'Neill. 74. I love to paint. Interiors, that is, especially when it's a bold, pretty color. 75. I have a hard time naming favorite movies, but one of my favorites is The Way We Were. I also like any movie with John Wayne. 76. I love pedicures and foot massages. 77. I don't like board games or card games. 78. I don't have a favorite TV show. I don't watch much TV. 79. I don't like to buy shoes, but I love to buy pocketbooks. 80. I don't sing very well -- at all -- but I sing anyway, in church, at home, in the car. 81. My husband and I took country swing dance lessons before our wedding. He's a great dancer. He's so good, he makes me look good. 82. I used to love cats, but now I don't. I'm not sure why. But I do love dogs. 83. People who can always make me laugh: Ellen Degeneres, Billy Crystal and my brother, Matt. 84. My favorite day of the year is Christmas Eve. 85. Grande percent mocha, extra hot, no whip. 86. My favorite scented candle is Yankee Candle lavendar -- and they discontinued it:( The lemon lavendar is just not the same. 87. I love used book stores. I love library book sales. I love new book stores. 88. I've been married to my husband for 23 years. 89. He is definitely the better half of us. Probably the better 60%. His is patient, generous, selfless and even-tempered. 90. He gets embarrassed when I write things like this in my blog. 91. If I could live in a different time period (and medical stuff wasn't an issue) I would choose to live in the latter half of the 1800s. Out west. 92. I love crossword puzzles, Scrabble and cryptoquips. 93. Favorite place to camp: Yellowstone National Park 94. Favorite room in my house: the screened-in back porch. 95. Favorite color: lavendar 96. Favorite sandwich: leftover Thanksgiving turkey on Jewish rye with cranberry sauce and mayo. 97. Favorite season: Fall 98. If I had another girl and boy I would (be a single parent, says my husband, and) name them: Caroline and Benjamin. 99. Favorite quote: That which hinders your task, is your task. (Good quote for us procrastinators). 100. (nudge, nudge -- still awake?) I never dreamed it would be so hard to come up with 100 things. But I did it:)