August 24, 2016

The Trip - a follow up post

If you read this blog then you know we just returned from a trip to see family.

First off, no - The Girlfriend did not join us.

Man-Child and I told The Husband in no uncertain terms that we NEEDED to arrive on Thursday.  Yes, I know the 9 hour drive can be taxing - but honestly, if you've driven six hours and are that close there is no point in stopping.  Just switch drivers and move on.

And as I predicted, the MIL was not happy that she wasn't clued in to as when our arrival would be - but ever resourceful, she determined that sauce and meatballs would work for dinner on Thursday or Friday at lunch.  There is nothing like Mom's meatballs!  YUM!

On Friday, we woke up and headed to Connecticut.  Yes, it was only a two hour drive - but after the nine hour drive the day before it felt like four hours.  When we arrived, no one was home - but we expected that and had the code to get into the house - where we immediately made ourselves at home.  Then left Mom to get comfortable (and sneak in a nap) to scout out where we could find supplies.

Considering none of us (other than Mom) had been here before, all we knew was the way we came in - so we headed out toward the main road that took us into their neighborhood.  Little did we know that we came in through the less desirable side of town.  We quickly figured that out once we found a grocery store.  Which kind of surprised us, since the neighborhood my BIL lives in is quite nice.

Turns out, if we had turned left instead of right out of his neighborhood we would have been in a COMPLETELY different area of town.  It isn't apparently clear just how thin the line between the two very different sides of town is - until you come from out of town and make a wrong turn.

When the BIL came home we went out to dinner and caught up.  Not long after we returned to the house, my SIL came home and the fun really commenced.  We laughed and chatted about their trip to "the shore" (apparently, this is what a beach trip is called "up North").  During the course of our conversation the game Cards Against Humanity was brought up as the game was played during their visit to "the shore."  The SIL declared it was an awful game.  It reminded me that I had brought a game to play - one that I thought my MIL would enjoy (once she got over the fact that electronics were involved) - Catch Phrase.

Our little family LOVES this game - but rarely get to play as there are three of us.  The odds of us having enough people here to make even teams is rare.  Even rarer?  This is a game that The Husband WILL play without having his arm twisted or threats uttered.

It was decided - we would play.  MIL was hesitant at first - because of the electronics issue - but once she got the hang of it and realized it wasn't electronic charades, she LOVED it.  It was a wonderful night.  We all laughed like we haven't laughed in years.  If you've never played Catch Phrase before, you need to play.  It is hilarious.  Throw in some adult beverages and it ratchets up to insane hilarity.

On Saturday, we all pitched in to get things ready as the BIL/SIL were expecting about twenty-six people to show up for the mini-reunion.  The BIL, The Husband and Man-Child all headed one way while the SIL and I headed another - again leaving the MIL to take care of a few things and rest as necessary.

The mini-reunion went off without a hitch - well, except for the fact that I'm an introvert and not one single person in this family is one - plus, they all know each other well and I have only met a couple of them once or twice YEARS ago.  But they were all kind and accepting and drew me out of my shell - with the help of some wine.

It's funny, I just viewed a picture of all of us that the BIL posted to Facebook - MC, me and one other in-law are oddly out of place in this clan as we are all obviously NOT Italian.  I told The Husband - you can EASILY see who the non-Italian in-laws are!  He found that hilarious.

After everyone left, we all prepared for bed and while doing so I promptly dropped and washed a contact down the sink (perhaps one glass of wine too many?  Maybe).  This became a problem only because I neglected to bring a "just in case" pair - which I had thought about while packing and promptly forgot because in all my years of contact wearing, I've never lost one!

On Sunday we headed back to Mom's - all exhausted and out of sorts from the night before.  The Husband and Mom both napped heavily that afternoon.  I almost drifted off several times but woke myself each time because I knew I needed a good night's sleep for the next day's trip home.

Poor MC (oh, okay - me too) suffered from the lack of Wi-Fi at Mom's - but we powered through it somehow.  We were offered a brief reprieve while at BIL's  but it wasn't enough to stave off the withdrawal symptoms.  Between the two of us we read quite a bit and played several rounds of Rummy.

Monday dawned with the realization that we needed to get back in the car and face another nine hour drive.  It wasn't pleasant.  And this is our problem with our trips up North...we can never seem to arrange them to have more than a day or so without spending extended periods of time in the car.  This time we seriously tried to plan it better - but with MC's ever changing schedule it just wasn't possible - maybe the next trip.

Plus, this time, I couldn't drive - even if The Husband was willing to give up the wheel - because I was stuck wearing my glasses - which are at least ten years old - and so far out of date that I don't feel comfortable driving with them.  I mean, I probably could have drove during the stretches where construction/traffic wasn't present (which was few and far between; particularly in PA - that state has a LOT of construction!) - but really, I shouldn't drive with them.  This was particularly apparent after we arrived home and I put in a new pair of contacts and realized just how tired my eyes were from straining to see just the closest objects on the road while sitting in the passenger seat.

So getting new glasses is now added to my ever growing To-Do List.

I have to say, I am one lucky gal.  My co-worker tells me stories about her in-laws; particularly her mother-in-law; that sends shivers up my spine.  My in-laws are pretty awesome; particularly my MIL.  She made it perfectly clear that we need to visit more often and I happen to agree.

August 17, 2016

I've never been so stressed out over a vacation...

We have had this trip on the calendar for MONTHS.  We are headed off to visit family and have a mini-family reunion and throw in a surprise birthday party for my Mother-In-Law (sssshh!).

Our plan was to take tomorrow and Friday off along with next week.  The hope was that we'd have the reunion, maybe take a trip into NYC (my first visit!) and a few other day trips.  Everything was set.

Until last week.

We have been asking Man-Child for weeks now when he needed to be back - he's finished his summer classes and is all set to do his student teaching this fall semester.  Turns out that school starts on the 29th, with teacher meetings taking place during next week.  And he, of course, had no idea whether or not he needs to attend the meetings.  Finally, last week he informs us that he has to be back on Monday, the 22nd.  Of course.

We adjust our plans - we figure we will skip the week off and come back on Sunday and The Husband and I will just take Monday and Tuesday off and plan for a vacation for just the two of us in the fall.  Long time readers will know that this is almost unprecedented.

The next thing I know, Man-Child now doesn't have to come back until Wednesday *sigh*.  We leave our plans as is.  Then I find that Man-Child is asking that if his girlfriend can join us. *sigh*

Truly, I'm sure her joining wouldn't be a big deal's the deal - the car we rented isn't really big enough for The Husband, me, Man-Child, The Girlfriend AND the MIL that we are picking up on the way.  Not to mention, the fact that it is rude and inconsiderate to add another guest last minute to the Brother-In-Law's hospitality - particularly since we will be staying in his condo.  Which by my count - if she comes - means SEVEN overnight guests (us three, The Girlfriend, the MIL and - possibly, BIL's two girls) and remember - this trip has been on the books for MONTHS - why wait till the last minute?

Then I overhear The Husband on the phone with his mother waffling on whether or not we will be arriving on Thursday or Friday.  First off, knowing my husband, I was shocked.  He is the kind of guy who wants to know what the plan is and doesn't want to deviate from said plan.  Second, my Mother-In-Law is a woman who wants to know the plan.  She needs to know whether or not she needs to worry about dinner on Thursday or lunch on Friday.

And then, in the past two days, I've been informed that, yes, The Girlfriend is coming and that, no, Man-Child really has to be here by Tuesday.  By now, both eyes are twitching simultaneously.  And my temper is rising.

So this morning, I asked The Husband when The Girlfriend was planning on showing up as are planning to leave early tomorrow.  Whereupon, I am informed that The Girlfriend "may not be able to get off work" - not to mention that classes started yesterday.  Needless to say, today I was aggravated, as all my co-workers can attest after listening to me vent ALL.DAY.LONG.

This evening, as I'm driving The Husband to pick up the rental car he informs me that we STILL don't know whether or not The Girlfriend will be joining us.

At this point, I figure I will wake up tomorrow and whoever is here when we leave will join us.  I also figure that lots of wine will be featured in this trip - at this point, I think I deserve it; especially since I still won't get to NYC.

August 8, 2016

Laundry, easy fixes and procrastination....yes, this is my life.

What is it about humans...oh, excuse me, I mean SOME of us humans; i.e. me, in particular?

I am someone who immensely enjoys the rewards of completing a simple, little task.  A task that should, in theory, only take five to ten minutes to accomplish.

I am also someone who has the ability to put things off for a ridiculous amount of time.  Remember this post?  Yeah, I'm still shaking my head over that one.  Granted, this latest incident isn't nearly as spectacular as ELEVEN years, but still....

How long have we been in this house now? *counting on my fingers* Yeah, about six months or so.  From the first day, as the washer and dryer were being installed I knew that the shelf above the dryer was too high for me to reach easily - and despite the fact that these shelves are the re-positionable kind rather than the kind that are permanently attached AND despite the fact that these were shelves that I could easily re-position all by myself with no tools necessary - I did nothing about it.

This meant that for the past six or so months, I have struggled every week to reach the detergent...for the last twenty-three weeks (give or take) - until about two weeks ago, when I'd finally had enough.  I took everything off the shelves, got the step ladder, re-arranged the shelves, replaced everything - it all took about 10 minutes.

And for the last two weeks, I have been able to easily reach up and grab the detergent whenever I started a load of laundry.  I cannot even begin to express how happy this has made me.  So what is it about me that made me put this tiny task off for so long?  How to fix this flawed personality trait?

Now, if I could just figure out a quick fix for getting the wet laundry out of the extra deep washer - I keep going in head first and struggling to make it out on my own...or even better figure out a way to quit ignoring the dryer's alarm when it goes off...why yes, I DID just discover the towels left in there from last week.


I think I'm incurable.

August 4, 2016

Where I prove JUST how uncoordinated I really am...

Oh I look at me you'd think I was graceful and coordinated (HA!)...but in truth, I'm a klutz of the first order.

Proof?  Just look at the various bruises I sport on a daily basis...bruises I generally don't even know what caused them.

Apparently, I am my own worst enemy.

This was proven without a doubt Monday night...

It night was like any other night...The Husband was in the kitchen pottering around doing whatever it is he does in there while we discussed our day.  And by "discussed our day" I mean we complained about the things which annoyed us and laughed about the things that were ridiculous.

At some point during our evening, I reached up to scratch an itch near my eye.  And promptly stabbed myself in the eye with my nail.  The pain was brief and I didn't think much of it.  Until later, when The Husband walked up to me in search of a back scratch and exclaimed, "What the HELL did you to your eye?!?!"

Me, being completely clueless, replied that I'd done nothing.  He informed me that my eye was all red and bloody.  So naturally, I went to the nearest mirror to investigate.  And he was right.  The entire right side of the white of my eye was completely red.

It didn't hurt - so there was that.  But still...

The next day (and every day after that) I have had to explain to just about every single person that I came in contact with that I am an uncoordinated idiot who can't even scratch an itch without almost putting her own eye out.

Needless to say, I have been extra careful around my eyes lately - which makes putting in my contacts and doing my makeup super fun.

And now, everyone who walks by makes a point of stopping and evaluating my eye and telling me that it's looking better (while wincing and grimacing) - as if I haven't been monitoring it myself.  

I keep telling myself that they are wincing/grimacing because of how it looks and not because they are pained by the fact that I'm such a klutz who can't be trusted to keep her fingers out of her own damn eye...but you and I both know it's the fact that I'm such a klutz.

July 20, 2016

SCORE! I was FINALLY able to rope my husband into going to a play.

Yes, you can quit rubbing your eyes - you read that right.

As I mentioned in my last post, we recently attended a play.  (Well...really a musical, which you should know is something that usually isn't my cup of tea.  I find that it can be difficult to catch all the words if they are being sung - plus, how many of us actually break into song in the middle of a sentence?)  And, as usual, I found out about it right before the show closed by reading a rave review in the local paper last Thursday.

Considering the paper also lists local events well in advance, you'd think I'd notice these things earlier...but no.  Usually, I read a review that interests me, look up the schedule and discover there are only two or three more performances.

My usual partner in crime for these types of events was out of town.  So I began to look around to see if any of my other friends might be free for the Sunday matinee at the last minute.  And I struck out on every score.  One friend said she would check but knew that her son had an event that she had to attend and wasn't sure of the timing.

I was convinced I wouldn't get to see this one.

So when I got home, I looked at The Husband and declared that he needed to take me on a date.  He looked surprised but agreed.  Apparently, the element of surprise is what it took to swing this around in my favor as he agreed before he even knew what I had up my sleeve.

After securing his agreement, I informed him that we would be going to lunch downtown - this was meet with enthusiasm.  And then informed him that we would be going to the musical - this wasn't taken in with any enthusiasm...but he didn't refuse.

I explained that I had tried to find another date and that I really wanted to see this show and being the gentleman he is - he fell on the sword for me.  My hero.

Then he asked how long the program would be...

After a pause, I quickly spit out the fact that these shows usually run about two hours.  His response?  He gave a sigh and asked if alcohol would be available.  Not knowing if that would be true or not for a matinee, I fudged my answer and said that there usually is a cash bar available.

So when Sunday rolled around, he took it on the chin.  We had a lovely lunch at a local Irish pub.  Afterwards we strolled around downtown and checked out a quaint, quirky independent bookstore - where I was able to pick up a great book by a local author.

As a side note, it is great fun to be reading a book that highlights local towns and places that you know...since you live there.

Then it was time to head to the theater - because this particular theater is an intimate space, we were unable to choose our seats when we bought the tickets - we determined that in order for The Husband to get an aisle seat (his only real demand) we needed to get there as soon as the box office opened.  This strategy paid off AND there was a cash bar available, in The Husband's eyes things were beginning to look up...until he began to get fidgety while we waited for the show to start.

Eventually, the show started and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  When asked The Husband said that it wasn't bad.  Granted, he never laughed out loud, I did catch him grinning a few times throughout, so I know he was paying attention.  All in all, I would say we had a successful date - albeit one that he was not an enthusiastic about - which is what marriage is all about - sometimes you do something you really don't want to do just to make your partner happy.  And he made me very happy.

So, I suppose after all that I should tell you what we saw...

25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.  One of the fun aspects of this Tony-award winning play is that four members of the audience are invited on stage to participate in the spelling bee.  During our show, the majority of the four were given fairly easy words at first gradually getting a little harder as the play went on until three were eliminated.  The fourth one was pretty good with spelling and they kept calling her back until they came up with some wild word that stumped her.

Our cast consisted of people ranging in age from 13-21 - for such a young cast, they were stellar.  Truly.  Even The Husband was impressed with their ability.

Should this program show up at your community theater, I would recommend that you attend...even if you have to coerce your other half to attend.

July 19, 2016

Breaking Night...another book review.

Yeah, I wasn't kidding when I told you I'd been reading more lately.  Turns out when you read more, you find more books to love...who knew?  Also, it turns out when you realize you are down to the second to the last season of a show you love (Parenthood...seriously, even if you aren't a parent this is an AMAZING show - okay, Netflix...I'm done sending you all this love for free) you tend to slow down on the binge watching in order to "savor" it.  True story.

But back to the reason you are here....

Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard by Liz Murray is a compelling read.

And by "compelling" I mean this should be required reading for every high school across the land.  I almost think it should be required reading for every middle school but some of the content would be hard for most middle schoolers to comprehend unless they were living a parallel existence...and the fact that there ARE middle schoolers out there (or younger) who ARE living a parallel existence breaks my heart.

Generally, I don't do memoirs...I don't know why, but I don't.  I'm more of a fiction kind of girl.  But this story caught my interest when a co-worker mentioned she was reading it after seeing the author speak at a luncheon she attended.  She gave me a brief synopsis of the book and I was intrigued.  The coworker offered to lend me the book after she finished - although she had promised it to another first - because she knew I was a fast reader.

And let me tell you, once you pick this one up you won't be able to put it down!  I started the first chapter Friday night and by Sunday afternoon with only about 40 or so pages to go, I was reluctant to put it down to attend a play I had actually talked my husband into attending with me!

Yes, I know.  You are absolutely shocked that he agreed to go to a play with me...I was too!!  I'll try to post about that next time.

Here's the synopsis that Amazon has on their website:

Breaking night: (Urban slang) staying up through the night, until the sun rises.

Breaking Night is the stunning memoir of a young woman who at age fifteen was living on the streets, and who eventually made it into Harvard.

Liz Murray was born to loving but drug-addicted parents in the Bronx.  In school she was taunted for her dirty clothing and lice-infested hair, eventually skipping so many classes that she was put into a girls' home.  At age fifteen, Liz found herself on the streets when her family finally unraveled.  She learned to scrape by, foraging for food and riding subways all night to have a warm place to sleep.

When Liz's mother died of AIDS, she decided to take control of her own destiny and go back to high school, often completing her assignments in the hallways and subway stations where she slept.  Liz squeezed four years of high school into two, while homeless; won a New York Times scholarship; and made it into the Ivy League.  Breaking Night is an unforgettable and beautifully written story of one young woman's indomitable spirit to survive and prevail, against all odds.

This blurb doesn't begin to do this book justice.  What this woman/child went through is heart wrenching.  But what amazed me the most?  Was the child's ability (because she WAS a child when this all began) to see things as they were and her will to try to change them.

*mini spoiler alert - but really if the sub-title didn't give away the ending to you then we have bigger things to talk about...*

As a mere child, she tried to will the safety of her parents as they scavenged for drugs in the middle of the night...figuring if she could stay up until they got home they would be okay.

It was also frightening to think that, up until she was shown a different lifestyle, she thought this was normal behavior for most families.

This little girl figured out ways to make money in order to eat when she was hungry.

What this child/woman has accomplished, in spite of all the obstacles standing in her way, leave me in awe.

This book is a testament to what we can do - if we put our minds, hearts and souls into the endeavor - when we seek a goal to achieve.

I would definitely, without reservation, say that if you only read ONE book - ever... (which honestly?  I can't even finish that sentence because...who can only read ONE book in their lifetime?! It would be a crime to limit oneself to one book)...

Okay, let me re-phrase that...

If you are looking for a book to inspire to remind you of what kind of good mankind has to offer (and aren't we all looking for that right now, with all that is going on?) and one to remind you that forgiveness and love really does conquer all...then this is a book you need to read.

July 12, 2016

Honesty and Kindness...

After work today, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up an item or two.  As I stepped into the checkout line, I looked down to rummage for my wallet and happened to notice a lone dollar bill sitting on the floor.

I bent down and picked it up and then said to the customer at the front of the line, "Sir, I believe this is yours."  The startled man turned around, with a handful of bills, and accepted the money saying, "Yes, it probably is.  I'm always losing money.  My wife keeps telling me to use a wallet."

Apparently, he just shoves the cash in his front pocket and bills keep tumbling from his pocket when he tries to pull it out.

He thanked me, paid for his groceries and walked away.  I proceeded to have my groceries scanned and paid for them.  At this point, I had completely forgotten about the exchange.  I thanked the cashier, picked up my bag and headed toward the exit.

It was there the man met me and handed me a slip of paper.  It was a lottery ticket.  He informed me that as often as he lost money, it was very rare that he ever got it back.

I was touched.  As, apparently, so was he.

As I'm sure you are aware, honesty and kind gestures are rare in the world we live in today.  But they are there - we just have to look for them.  And we have to create them. Can you imagine how much nicer life would be if everyone was honest and kind?

Now, if I actually hit the $15,0000 jackpot tonight, I'm going to have to hang out at that grocery store, until he shows up again - so I can repay him for his small kind gesture.