December 29, 2016

Why I've been ignoring you and the laundry...

Sorry about that but I have an excuse - really.  I bought a jigsaw puzzle.  Yes, I have been derailed from life by A PUZZLE.  How's that, you ask?

Well, not only have I been neglecting my online life, I've been neglecting my real life as well.  Case in point?  Today alone, I estimate that I've spent at least 6-7 hours working on the damn thing.  I finally had to quit because I'd given myself a headache from staring at it.

I should have known better.  I know how I am - I can easily get derailed by a challenge.  And this particular puzzle is a challenge.

At any rate, I'm about halfway done and have almost decided that this will be the puzzle that never gets finished.  There is too much sky and too many greens.  But, I know myself, and I will do whatever it takes to finish that damn thing.  I'm just hoping that will be sooner rather than later.  Because between you and me?  The laundry needs doing, errands need to be run, the house needs to be know, the list goes on....besides, I only have four more days of vacation that I'd like to spend doing something besides a puzzle.

December 14, 2016

That first real step into being an adult is on the doorstep...

Well, would you look at that?  SIX posts for the month of December so far...looks like I'm on a roll - let's see if we can keep the momentum up.

I have NEWS!

Man-Child had his first real, grown up interview last week (I think - this time of year really screws up my sense of time).  He said that it went very well and that they seemed shocked when he told them that it was his first interview.  The position he applied for was a high school Physical Education Teacher/Coach.  Basically, exactly what he wants to do.

Two days (I guess) after that, he finished up his student teaching with the elementary school kids.  During that last week, he brought home stacks upon stacks of notes from all the kids.  They told him how much they would miss him, some reminisced on their favorite moments with him, some wished him good luck and "congratuions".

It was all very touching and sweet.  I asked him if this was making him re-think his desire to teach mean, old high schoolers.  He replied, "A little."

In fact, The Husband's boss has children that go to that school and they told their dad that Mr. X had left and they were sad because Mr. X spent so much time with each kid and that Ms. M (their regular teacher) wasn't as nice (which I'm sure is not true because Man-Child loved working with her).

Fun fact - the elementary school that Man-Child was student teaching in is approximately two minutes from the house and we live in a very small community.  Being seen around town on the weekends by the elementary set with a "teacher" is entertaining.  It's like he is a rock star.  Some of them giggle and point.  Others are shy; peeking out around their parents legs.  And then there are those bold enough to run up and say hi and then remind him (so he tells me) in front of their friends at school that they saw him at such and such; in case he forgot.

Anyway...Fast forward to this week.  He got a call from the school he applied to - they wanted his references and needed his signature for a background check.  A teacher from the elementary school informed him that they only run background checks if they are serious.  The thought that this might really be a possibility amped him up - but he kept trying to temper it because, as we all know, the odds of getting a job - your dream job - on the first interview, at that; are slim to none.

This morning, bright and early, he received THE phone call.  He has the job!

When he called to tell me I could hear the utter shock and amazement in his voice.  He couldn't believe it.

Honestly, I could.  I've seen how hard this kid has worked.  I've seen the reports from some of his professors.  I've seen this kid in action around adults since he was tiny - that kid has known how to carry on an adult conversation practically since he learned to talk.  I've seen him interact with children young and older, and seen the patience and kindness that he has.  I know that this kid knows his stuff - he has made it a point to because he had a dream.

One that he has now achieved - all due to his hard work and dedication.

He starts in January.  Unfortunately, as he is one online credit shy of his diploma (which, let me tell you, came as a nasty surprise to us as we assumed he was done), they can't hire him on as a full time teacher just yet - but they are going to hire him as a long-term substitute until he gets the degree, which should happen in the spring (if it doesn't, then I'll have to kill him).  Then they told him they would bring him on full time with benefits.

This school is out of our county, which means he'll have a bit of a drive, and is a smaller school but I think it will be the perfect place for him to start out.  And I am so over the moon excited for him and so very proud.

This is it guys - he's taking his first, real step into adulthood.  *sniff*  That completely empty nest is suddenly looming.  Somebody hold me.

December 11, 2016

If he'd read the directions first - it would have never happened

Do you know what this is?

No, contrary to what you may think, it is NOT an ordinary bathroom vent.  It is actually a symbol of my husband's undying love for me.

I know what you are thinking - "Well,what do you know - she's finally lost her marbles.  I knew it was only a matter of time."

I'll have you know that all my marbles are still intact, thank you very much.

It all started a few days ago when the temperatures here dropped drastically.  For some reason, the master bedroom/bathroom - but particularly the bathroom - are at least ten degrees colder/hotter than the rest of the house; depending on the season.

So when the temperatures plummeted, I asked The Husband how difficult would it be to install a vent/heater combo in the bathroom.  We had one at the last house, which is the only reason I knew this was an actual thing and not a daydream.  He responded that he didn't think it would be a difficult thing to do.  Which then prompted me to ask him to install one as I was getting tired of the unbecoming blue shade that I acquired after spending the time in there getting ready for work in the mornings.  He never really responded.

This morning he informed me he was headed out for a walk.  I thought it was his way of getting out of the house as I wrestled with the cookie press; after all these years he knows when it's time to make himself scarce.  The next thing I knew he was walking in the door a couple hours later with a big box containing the vent/heater combo.  Apparently, he'd hit Lowe's Home Improvement after his walk.

He then proceeded to unbox the item and went and looked at the old vent.  About this time, I decided it would be prudent for me to take all the goodies to the office in order not to have to worry about getting them there in the morning.  You see, after all these years, I've also learned when it's time to make myself scarce.

When I came home about an hour or two later, I walked into the bathroom to discover a pile of insulation on the floor, a gaping hole in the ceiling and The Husband beyond aggravated.  He informed me that we needed a bigger breaker for this contraption - something he doesn't feel comfortable doing himself - but figured he'd attempt it after getting the vent/heater in - yes, at this point it still was sitting on the floor.

I suggested that he take a break and that we grab a bite of lunch.  He agreed.

After lunch he headed back to the bathroom and I headed toward my closet/room/studio/whatever to finish wrapping a couple of gifts.  This is when we learned that no matter how loud my husband can be - and believe me, he CAN be loud - when we are on opposite ends of the house I can't hear him.  As I was finishing up the last gift I heard a faint noise and thought I'd better go check on him.

When I arrived he said, "About time!  I've been calling you for at least ten minutes!!"  as he was standing on the ladder holding the new contraption trying to keep it from falling.

Ooops.  Lesson learned, when The Husband is involved in a project, it's best to stay within earshot.

Another lesson learned - when The Husband is involved in a project that's in the ceiling - it would be prudent to have a taller person than me on hand.  I ended up standing on the toilet, on my tiptoes, trying to hold the contraption while he finished connecting whatever it was that he needed two hands to connect.  Eventually, he was able to connect it and shove it up into the hole in the ceiling.

At this point, I figured I'd best stay in the area.  He finally succeeded in getting everything situated just right and was able to finish the project - minus replacing the breaker.  At this point, he'd spent approximately four hours on this project and was done.

I helped clean up the mess and told him how much I appreciated this "easy" project.  And he informed me that had he read the directions before he started (he didn't, he never does.  His preferred method of madness is to jump right in and only when he gets stumped does he stop to look at the directions) this project would have never been done.

Apparently, one of the first things the instructions said was "you will need access to the attic above the space" - which we do not have; if we had, this project probably would have been as easy as he thought.

And that, my friends, is why that humble vent is a symbol of his undying love.  Because he did it for me and suffered untold aggravation to get it done.

December 10, 2016

Finally! It's about time we started getting our act together for the holiday....

And by "we", I mainly mean "me."  Although The Husband has been pulling his weight and doing the things I demand ask nicely of him.

I took yesterday off in an attempt to get some things done - hopefully bypassing the shopping crowd that I expected today.  I failed; at least in bypassing the crowds.  Apparently, everyone else in town took the day off for the same purpose.  But, I persevered and got a lot accomplished.  And by "got a lot accomplished" I mean, "I spent a boat load of money."

But, in my defense, I will give the same argument I gave The Husband, it was all necessary and you should have seen how much money I actually saved.  As a defensive argument, I will admit it's weak but it's all I have at the moment.

This morning found me running a few errands and then headed home to hide from the crowds.  Since I hadn't followed my own advice of wrapping gifts as they were bought, I found myself in a marathon wrapping session.  One which brought to a screeching halt as I realized there were two wrapped gifts without half the gift packed inside.  Surprisingly, I was actually able to unwrap and re-wrap the gifts without too much effort.

Speaking of paper, this year, I feel victim to Pinterest and all the neutral decor and decided to wrap all my gifts with white kraft paper and let the ribbons add the color.  After wrapping a sea of white gifts, I decided that I needed a little more color under the tree and wrapped a few using Christmas paper.  Then The Husband wandered in and declared, to my surprise, that he liked the white gifts. Huh.  Who would have thought that he, of all people, would be on board with something new?

The wrapping was again brought to a halt because I ran out of boxes - but the majority was done.

On to the next project...making goodies for the office "thing" on Monday.  Generally, our floor is pretty sedate about Christmas.  A few will decorate tastefully.  And some will bring in a few treats.  There may be a departmental lunch here and there.  But for the most part, Christmas is ignored on our floor.

Until this year.  A co-worker decided that we needed to have a floor-wide Christmas thing.  And she dragged me into it.  So we decided to have a Christmas/Holiday Goody Day - similar to what other floors do every year.  Although, I have recently been aggravated with some of my co-workers, I begrudgingly agreed.  Which is why after the marathon wrapping session, I found myself in another marathon - of the kitchen kind.

I made a cheese spread, fudge (which I just realized I banished last year - let's see if it fails me this year, if it doesn't it stays in rotation), peanut butter fudge (which is divine - recipe here), and almond bark.  I fully meant to do the spritz cookies tonight but was completely worn out; so they may get done tomorrow - but hopefully early.

My plan is to take all the goodies to work tomorrow to store in the fridge so I don't have to carry everything in on Monday.

And then there's this - a post done.  Yes, it's been a very productive day.

Although I am no where near ready for Christmas, I'm that much closer to being done.  And?  We have a tree!  The Husband found the perfect one today.  Currently, it's sitting in half in our front hall and half in our living room.  It has lights and the angel and is otherwise bare but it's beautiful.

In addition to cookies, I've just added decorating the tree to tomorrow's ever growing To-Do List - it appears tomorrow may also prove just as productive.

How about you?  Are you ahead of the game or are you like me - just getting by?

December 8, 2016

It's been what? Not quite six months...

Remember when I told you it took me ELEVEN YEARS to have my wedding rings repaired?

Well, guess what?  Yup, another diamond went missing today.  Are you freaking kidding me; less than six full months later?!  Am I THAT hard on my jewelry?  I think not.

If you ask me, it is a serious design flaw if the diamonds just keep falling out.  Instead of asking them to fix it, I plan on seeing if they can re-design it using the same stones.  I have a feeling they are going to tell me that to re-design the ring using the existing diamonds will be utterly expensive.

Luckily, I'm off tomorrow, so I plan to hit the jeweler then - fingers crossed - we already have plenty of evidence on the table that shows I have the ability to put things off forever.

The Husband just looked disgusted when I told him; shook his head and muttered, "If I had to do it again, I wouldn't have bought that ring!"  I hope he meant that he would have bought a different design.

*Kidding...I hope.*

I'm posting this in hopes that it will spur me on to get the issue resolved.  And if it doesn't, well then I will have an accurate record about how long I've procrastinated next time.

December 4, 2016

The Christmas Tree dilemma solved

Thank you DJan and Booksandcandy for your suggestions to my Christmas tree dilemma.  I spent a good portion of the day trying to figure out to incorporate one or the other into our living room. Considering it's an "open" floor plan there is very limited wall space; it was challenging.

But all is not lost!  No, the boys, knowing just how disappointed I was, spent some time today while I was out coming up with a new game plan.

Now this new plan means that the living room chair needs to be moved into the dining room - because the chair is too big to fit through the door to the bedroom - of course, the buffet in the dining room needs to be moved either into our bedroom or the kitchen and that means we will have even less seating in the living room than we already have but we will be able to squeeze a tree in there.  So basically, we have to rearrange the whole damn house.

And although it is utterly ridiculous to have a giant chair in the dining room; I have decided to make the best of it and call it a "reading nook" as there is plenty of natural light due to the double windows. That, my friends, is called making the best of it.

Those two are my heroes.  They saw how unhappy I was and set about to make me smile again - the best Christmas present!

Yes, I'm impossible to live with - I know this and own it.  Someday's I can't even stand myself.  But they claim to love me anyway; I honestly don't know how they put up with me.

Sadly though, this game plan came about too late in the day to go get a tree - not too mention the fact that it was seriously cold and rainy here today - so most likely we won't get a tree until next weekend.  Unless they decide to pick one up after work this week.

But nonetheless - we WILL have a tree!!

Let the Christmas insanity begin...

December 3, 2016

Is it still Christmas if there isn't a tree?

Yes, I know the reason for the season - but still, we generally do up the house for Christmas with all the usual trappings up to and including a tree.  Even when we were in the tiny condo - we had a tree.  Even when we moved into said condo exactly three weeks before Christmas, we had a tree.

This year, sadly, it is looking like there will not be a tree. *sob*  I've never had a Christmas without a tree.  This annoys and saddens me to no end.

This morning the boys went off to do something so I pulled out my boxes and began happily decorating the front porch, my mantle and tucking in festive touches here and there.  When they came home, we spent the majority of the morning rearranging the living room in hopes of finding a spot for the tree.  We failed.

I left the house frustrated in search of battery operated candles with a timer, which also exasperated me as I have plenty of window candles with cords that have the sensor in them to turn them off and on.  But can I use them? No.

Because of the five windows facing the street only ONE of them is anywhere near an outlet - of course.  Luckily I did find the candles - but am dubious about how well they are going to work.  I've held onto my receipt just in case.  If they don't work that will be the final nail in the coffin on this holiday season - because along with the tree we always have candles in the windows.

Yes, I am a big believer in tradition.  And one by one all of our traditions are falling by the wayside.

While I was out I did have the brilliant idea that if we moved the TV, etc. upstairs we could shove a tree in that little corner of the living room.  The Husband nixed that idea immediately because he's a Grinch who would rather not be inconvenienced when watching TV than having a tree.

The only other areas that could accommodate a tree is the kitchen (never gonnna happen - how ridiculous is that?), our bedroom (nope - for the same reason) or the back porch - where at least we would get to see the tree from the living room - but honestly; how would the decorations hold up in the elements?

So unless some amazing idea comes up within the next day or so - we will be without a tree come Christmas morning.  I KNEW this was going to be an issue when we bought this house - I just didn't realize how big of an issue it was going to become.

At this point, I'm practically ready to pack all the decorations I put out this morning away and just forget about the whole damn thing; that's how annoyed I am right now.

What a way to start the Christmas season - annoyed and frustrated to the point of tears.

November 27, 2016

Name my room...

:gasp: I know!  THREE posts in less than two weeks?!  Sometimes I amaze even myself.

The productive streak that was mentioned in the last post seems to continue.  I have to wonder just how long it will last?

Today found me snapping up a few more Christmas gifts and feeling very proud of myself.  And then, I found myself home alone - a rarity indeed - and decided that I should at least start to tackle my dressing room/closet/whatever it is you call a room you have commandeered for your clothes and shoes (what say you? Dressing room? Closet? Her Majesty's Room of Clothes?).

Remember those boxes that found their way from Man-Child's room to my room way back in September?  They were still sitting in my room.  Along with three other boxes that had never been dealt with.

Today was the day that I decided to tackle those boxes AND the closet in this room.  To be honest, the closet wasn't in too bad of shape - but I figured I needed to pull down my winter scarves, etc. to make them more accessible as the weather continues to plod toward winter.  I was able to deal with three boxes easily.  I still have two boxes sitting here filled with old photos, etc.

I figure the baby pictures of Man-Child can be tossed because I know that I have copies.  It's the other pictures and mementos that I'm having a harder time deciding how they need to be dealt with.  I'm thinking for the photos that I don't have copies of I'll take out of their frames and put in an album.  The other stuff needs more thought as they are precious but not needed or necessary - such as the personalized sampler that a friend made and framed for Man-Child's birth that outlines his name, birth date, weight, etc.  In my heart of hearts, I know this is not something he will want but at the same time how can I just heartlessly toss it?

Although those two boxes are still sitting in here, having gotten the rest of it squared away I realized just what a resource I have in this little room.  I have a comfy chair, I have a door and I have some quiet.  And that is why you are reading this.  I have a room that I can escape too occasionally.  To think.  To write.  Am I writing great prose? No.  But I am exercising that creative muscle - which frankly needs some exercise.

This room is far from finished.  I still need to clear the Christmas gifts from the dresser - but you and I both know that until those gifts are wrapped and sent off to their recipients; it is there they will stay.  My shoe storage system is woefully ugly - but useful.  I still have a few prints sitting on the floor awaiting a decision as to whether they will be hung, stored or given away.

But that's okay.  I've discovered my room.  And I love it.  Now let's figure out what we should call it; because I'd like to think I'm going to be spending a lot more time in here.

November 26, 2016

Thanksgiving / Black Friday recap.

What can I say - both were all around success stories - for once.  With only a minor hiccup here and there.

I'm not going to lie - Thanksgiving was stressing me out this year.  You may have picked up on it in my last post, but if you didn't that's okay because we all know how subtle I can be...

I flew home on Monday (so glad I wasn't traveling later in the week) exhausted and still sick but muddling through.  Like a dummy, I neglected to take Tuesday off so I had to work.  Wednesday, although I was off, found me feeling really ill.  I'm not sure if it was just the tail end of whatever I've been battling or if it was sheer exhaustion from the long, stressful weekend.

At any rate, not much was accomplished on Wednesday, which meant that the actual D-Day was extra busy as I scurried around and prepped the house for guests.  And I'm proud to say, that I accomplished everything I'd set out to do, for the most part.  But the stress of having seven of us for dinner, one of whom I barely know and three of whom I'd never met at all (an introverts worst nightmare), meant that I wasn't surprised when I had a mini-meltdown regarding missing forks.  Oh sure, I've known that some spoons have gone missing and a few steak knives but forks?  I thought I'd been keeping a better eye on them.

Apparently not.

But here's the deal - just WHERE does missing cutlery go?  We all know that the dryer eats random socks on occasion but forks?  I'm beginning to wonder if the dishwasher has picked up on what the dryer is doing and has become a copycat.

Eventually, I calmed down and used a salad fork in place of a regular fork and since I was the one using the salad fork; I don't think anyone else was the wiser.  And after a glass of wine and chatting with The Girlfriend's mother and sisters for a few minutes my shattered nerves were somewhat put back together.  Turns out they are very nice people.  But I know me, it will take several more meetings before I feel completely comfortable with them.

The Husband put out a wonderful spread which was well received.  As were the pies that I'd made - including the pumpkin one that I tweeted about the day before...

Turns out our children really ARE kind of clueless about us.  I've been making him pumpkin pie every year since he was old enough to request it but he'd never noticed that I never, ever ate it.  The only reason he noticed this year was because he was in the kitchen as I was putting it together and noticed my grimace as I was adding the pumpkin in to the mixture.  Maybe that means he's becoming more aware?  Doubtful.

Yesterday morning found me up really, really early.  The Husband had to go to work and Man-Child was sleeping, of course.  The paper person has been running really late here recently, so I didn't have my usual routine of coffee and paper.  So instead I was idly sifting through the Black Friday sale papers.  I had no real intention of heading out.  But as I was turning the pages it began to dawn on me that I had not bought one single gift.  And even worse?  I hadn't even started a list of ideas.

I pulled a pad of paper over and began to jot a few items down that I knew would suit certain people.  I figured I'd head out and if it was too crazy, I'd just come home.  So imagine my surprise when I walked into Kohl's around 8:00 am and found that the store was practically empty.  Clutching my list in my hand, I darted around the store and was able to find everything but one thing.  I was in and out of that store in under 40 minutes; walking away with at least five gifts.

After that I came home and made lemon poppy-seed muffins for Man-Child because why not?  I have to admit, I fudged the recipe though because I didn't feel like searching for an actual lemon poppy-seed muffin recipe; but they turned out okay.  My only nit?  Not lemony enough.  I've made a mental note to add more lemon juice next time.

Once Man-Child loaded up his car with leftovers to take to friends at school (yes, he's headed up the mountain for the weekend) and took off it was about lunchtime.  The Husband and I had made plans for lunch.  And honestly?  That was the extent of my plans.  Until after lunch, when I had the thought that if I hit the other Kohl's, I just might find that one gift I'd missed out on this morning.

And I did.  But the lines at this Kohl's were INSANE.  So I headed over to the jewelry.  I figured I could find something for my mother-in-law and check out there (they will let you check everything out there as long as you are actually buying a piece of jewelry) and, once again, hit the jackpot and was in and out of the store in no time.

All of this success emboldened me, I then headed for Michael's and Bath & Body Works.  Where once again - despite the crowds, I was able to find what I wanted and get out fairly quickly.

Today, I joined a friend and her mother and daughter for The Craftsman's Christmas Classic Arts & Crafts Show.  Basically, we and a million other people file into the Coliseum to look at various arts & crafts.  People have some talent and creativity, let me tell you.  I didn't buy much but it was a good way to spend time with friends and help get me in the Christmas spirit.

Now, while I am no where NEAR being done, at least I have made some headway on the Christmas shopping and maybe that will be the impetus to getting it done sooner rather than later.

How about you?  Are you in the Christmas spirit yet?  Have you finished your shopping (if so, I'm really jealous) or are you in a blind panic wondering just how you are going to do it all?

November 17, 2016

Struggling yet thankful.

I'm not gonna lie, I've been struggling a bit.  Yes, I remind myself of all that I have to be thankful for everyday.

But I have to say, a lot has been going on over here.  No, nothing too monumental or life altering (thank goodness!) but enough that I have been struggling to process it all and it continues to take up space in my brain.  And wrestling with how I should handle some of the things.

Work things.  Like a lack of communication from a key person.  Well, that's not quite right.  It's not so much a "lack" of communication and more of a "refusal" to communicate.  In all my years, both here and elsewhere, I've never run across such a situation.  Whenever I point out the obvious, it's laughed off.  As is everything else.  It's like this person not only doesn't value me or appreciate what I am capable of and thinks it's all a joke.  To be honest, this is probably the not the biggest thing that I've been wrestling with over here but it is a biggie considering that I have to deal with this on a daily basis.  The icing on the cake?  Being told by my old manager that this behavior will not change any time soon and that there is nothing he can really do about it.

Thanksgiving.  What can I say?  I can't believe it's next week and I'm no where near ready.  Yes, I realize, I don't actually cook the dinner but still - I do have my part.  But considering what I have to deal with this weekend any and all prep time I may have had has been reduced to a single day.  Which wouldn't be a huge deal if it was just the three of us, as I initially expected.  But no, I've been informed that Man-Child's girlfriend and her mother and sisters will be joining us, which is fine really.  But this house?  To say it needs some work is an understatement.

And can we talk about this house?  All the projects that I want to get done are swirling in my brain.  And yet, nothing is getting done.  Not even a little bit is getting done.

Speaking of this will find me jetting my way to Arkansas.  Yes, Arkansas.  Why might I be heading to Arkansas voluntarily 5 days before Thanksgiving, you might ask.  Because I have the unenviable task of attending my very favorite aunt's memorial.  The aunt who was my second mother.  I am well and truly an orphan now.  And my heart is completely broken.  If it weren't for the fact that my cousin is hurting so very much and needs support, I have to wonder if I would be headed that way for a memorial at this point.  Apparently, after my aunt died, my cousin didn't/couldn't face a funeral - which I understand, so there wasn't one, had there been, it goes without saying that I would have been there.  She said she would have a memorial later.  Until I received notice last weekend, a mere 6 days later, that they would hold it this weekend and when she said she needed me what else could I do but say yes?  That's right, nothing.  So I will be there.

Of course, right before I received notification that I would need to fly across the country, I began "trying to get an ear infection" - my doctor's words.  So, I've been trying to overcome that before I get on the plane on Saturday.  As you know, when you don't feel well, everything is overwhelming.  I'm happy to report I'm on the mend and hope to be able to fly without any excruciating pain on Saturday.

And, of course, there was the lead up to the election, the election and the aftermath.  You know, I don't do politics here, but I just want to say the whole thing was ugly from the beginning.  We discovered just how ugly we can be, as people.  I hope we've learned something from all this - particularly about empathy and kindness.  Unfortunately, as screens continue to be something some of us can hide behind, I have my doubts.

There was also the whole party that was thrown into my lap.  Which, I have been told, was a complete and total success (finally!  ONE thing that worked out!).

So maybe, that's my way forward - handling each little thing as I have to - rather than trying to deal with it all at once.

Actually, that's my only option at this point.

Now about Christmas...NOPE.  Not even ready to think about that yet.  I keep telling myself I will get back on track but every year seems to throw me further off track.

At any rate, I AM thankful.  And considering this will probably be the closest to a "Thanksgiving" post that I'll get to this year...have a happy Thanksgiving and remember that I count each of you as a blessing and am thankful for you each and every day.


October 19, 2016

The Girl On The Train...a movie/book review

I can't believe I never did a book review of The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins...but a quick perusal of my blog tells me I didn't - which is odd, because I LOVED the book but that is being remedied with this post.

I loved that book so much so that when the movie came out I texted my friend that we should see it, in addition to a local play.  Since the play was coming to a close, we figured we'd go to the play last weekend first and then schedule ourselves another date for the movie.  Unfortunately, we waited too late to buy the tickets for the play and were unable to secure two seats together.  As a backup plan, we decided on the movie.

My friend went into the movie cold - as in she hasn't read the book - I don't know whether or not she'd heard anything about the book or the movie; but basically she went in without really knowing what to expect.

Truth be told, I did too in a way.  I remembered the basic premise of the book - there's a girl on the train and she sees this "perfect" couple in this perfect house every day.  While her life is currently in shambles, in her mind she imagines what their perfect life might be like.  And because of her demons, is drawn into their lives and a missing persons case.

What I had forgotten - this is a story told from three different women's perspectives - which can be confusing if you aren't completely focused on the story.  But the most important part that I'd forgotten?  The ending.  Which is really surprising considering the ending, but honestly?  As much as I read, I'm not surprised.

The ending ties everything together - so even if you've missed a few things here and there (either while reading or watching) it still all becomes clear.

When it was over, my friend looked at me and said, "That was THE most intense movie I've seen in a long time!"  And I had to agree.

Based on my (vague) recollection, the movie faithfully followed the book - which is rare.  So if you haven't read it, read it.  If you don't want to read it but are intrigued by the movie, go see it.  Or even better, do both!

Have you seen it?  Read it?  What were your thoughts?

October 18, 2016

Seriously kids?! Never, EVER leave Mom out of the planning...

I swear, some of the people I live with and/or have familial ties with are so clueless!  Most recent example?  Read on.

In casual conversation the other day, The Husband's upcoming birthday came up - Man-Child responded to his father with "Oh, don't worry about it; "we've" got it covered."  I glanced at him completely puzzled thinking, "Who's this we, sunshine?"

Because here's the thing, I didn't know anything about this - despite Man-Child's protestations that he told me (he hadn't).  The next morning I was able to corner Man-Child alone and discovered that "we" are having a party.  In less than three weeks.  At our house.  Apparently, he and his sister have determined that a 60th birthday party MUST happen but no one bothered to talk to ME about this.

From what I can gather several people have been invited and one other has agreed to "do" the food?  Wait...WHAT?  YOU are hosting a party but yet expecting one of the guests to provide ALL the food?  Ummm, NO.

I only had a few minutes to discuss this issue with him before we both had to go our separate ways for the day.

That evening, I pulled him aside, we set up a group text and I promptly took over.  I told him to tell the "food" guest that she was relieved of her duty and that I would deal with the food.

If The Husband's beautiful daughter lived in the area, I feel certain that she could probably pull this off; but she doesn't - she lives about 3 hours away.  And Man-Child?  Well, he's grown up a lot in the past few years, but since I've witnessed a lot of him and his friend's plans going sideways because of their "planning prowess" (or lack thereof) I knew that the majority of it would fall on him - so basically I HAD to step in.  Not to mention that he's about to take an extended road trip which won't have him back at the house until approximately four days before the party!

Since I don't cook - and, obviously, we can't have The Husband cook for his own party, I will be spending the next couple of days straightening this mess out and getting everything back on track...up to and including invitations - because despite this recent technological wave of sending "evites," a true party requires real invitations, the kind that you can put up on your refrigerator - the kind that every time it catches your eye, reminds you that you have a fun evening lined up soon.

And THIS, kids, is why you always, always, ALWAYS include Mom in your special, birthday surprise for your father because otherwise?  Chaos, people. Complete and utter chaos.


Update - as I typed all that above days ago but neglected to's where we are now.

  • Invites have been sent - *phew!*  
  • Finding the caterer has been tough because The Husband keeps turning down all the ideas I've had.  I've informed him that I will contact this one other caterer and if he still can't decide I will remove him from the process.  The only reason he's even being included on this part of the party is because he can be such a food snob.  I've reminded him - over and over again - that considering the diverse group that will be in attendance (i.e., children) we need to be flexible with the menu.
So, yeah...not much has changed since I first typed this post and neglected to publish - except for the invites - but considering how picky I can be about those types of things, maybe more has been accomplished than I first thought.

October 8, 2016

I'm slowly being driven insane by forces beyond my control...

We all know that some things are beyond our control - we can't really do anything about them ourselves but they make us insane anyway.  Yes, I know I can't change the behavior of others - or inanimate objects - or the weather - I can only change my reaction to them.  But, in these specific cases, I don't think I can change my reaction because they just make me totally crazy.

First of all, it's raining (thanks Hurricane Matthew).  And we all know that rain for any extended period (and sometimes even for not so extended periods) brings me down and generally puts me in a foul mood.  It is expected to rain here through tomorrow.  But that's not one of the things driving me insane.

Okay, I lied.  It is.

So yesterday morning, when I drove to work in the rain - well, you couldn't even really call it rain then because it was just spitting - you know, the kind where even if you put your wipers on intermittent there's just not enough water on the windshield so you hear that nails on a chalkboard SKREE sound.  That.  The noise makes me insane - but there's nothing I can about it other than a) listen to it and grit my teeth for the entire commute or b) hold my hand close to windshield wiper control and hit it once enough water has accumulated for the whole commute, which means you have to time it just right otherwise you can't see out the window.  Guess which one I did?

If you guessed, "b" you win the prize.

While driving in this manner, in the pitch black, rain spitting morning, I happened to pass a car that was half in the opposite lane and half in a ditch with the flashers blinking.  I didn't see anyone around, so I kept going.  Now immediately beyond where I saw this car there is a fairly sharp curve which meant that the disabled car wouldn't be seen by someone coming down the road in that lane.  As I was approaching the curve, I noticed headlights FLYING toward me (people constantly fly down this road - it matters not whether it is pitch black, raining, sunshine, whatever - they will fly) so I immediately began to flash my headlights in an effort to get this person to slow down.  They did not.  I can only hope they saw the car and was able to veer into the oncoming lane without encountering traffic.

Now, reverse the scene - minus the car half in and half out of the road - and that was my drive home.  On the plus side, I didn't see any evidence of a wreck or police tape - so maybe it all worked out okay.

Upon driving up to the driveway, I noticed two things.  One: The Husband was not home (not terribly unusual but we generally arrive within minutes of each other) and Two: Man-Child was home and parked in The Husband's spot (this is unusual as he generally goes to gym and doesn't get home until about 30 minutes later than us).  As I opened the door, the first thing I heard was the SKREE of what was either a fire alarm or the radon detector whose batteries have died.  The second thing I noticed was that Man-Child was in his room, fast asleep, right next to both the suspected culprits.  HOW?  How could he sleep through that God-awful noise?!  But sleep he did.

I figured I could stand the noise for the few minutes it would take for The Husband to arrive and fix the problem.  So I sat.  And sat. And sat. And sat! All while that damn noise drilled deep into my brain.  Finally, The Husband called - he was going to be late (no kidding, I'd noticed that already!) but was on his way (Thank God!).

Meanwhile, Man-Child continued to slumber through the racket.  HOW?!

And another thing.  People who refuse to use their blinkers - this, by the way, is an every day, all day long issue.  It's become such an issue in this area that in the past few weeks TWO letters were written to the editor of our local paper.  The last letter had me laughing as the writer lamented those "poor people who can't afford a car with 'working' blinkers..."

Sadly, I don't think the people responsible for not using their blinkers read the paper.  And this lack of blinker-usage is the ONE thing that enrages me almost more than anything else.  It is SO inconsiderate.  The act of flicking that blinker on is SO minute...AND?  Ninety-nine percent of the time, you don't even have to turn it off - it "magically" turns itself off.  And yet, so many people can't be bothered.  It is rude, inconsiderate and downright dangerous.

Now back to the rain - it has been pouring steadily all day long.  I just looked at the hourly forecast and it predicts that this deluge won't end until about 5 am.  This is a LOT more rain than what they were predicting for this area.  I'm sure there will be some flash flooding in the area if their predictions hold true.

This is what the forecast looks like right now

We are located somewhere in that red circle - I think.  I'm fuzzy when it comes to geography.  As you can see we are far enough inland that we don't have to worry about storm surges but we are taking a beating nevertheless.  In fact, I just received an alert that a Flash Flood Warning is in effect until 11:45 pm (speaking of which, I don't know HOW my phone is getting weather alerts but it about gives me a heart attack every time it does - SO loud).  It's time for Hurricane Matthew to make a hasty retreat.  We've had enough.

Despite my complaints, I know we are the fortunate ones.  As you know, Haiti and other areas were hit hard and practically destroyed.  This article gives links to several charities that are helping both the national and international victims of Hurricane Matthew, in the event that you want to help.

Our thoughts and prayers are with those that have been affected.

October 5, 2016

The Nazi Officer's Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Halocaust...a book review

This past weekend, on one of Barnes & Noble's many tables, I happened across a paperback copy of The Nazi Officer's Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Halocaust by Edith Hahn Beer with Susan Dworkin.

You may know, I read. A LOT.  But considering how expensive my habit can be, I generally stick to the clearance section.  This book was not in the clearance section - but I bought it anyway - after reading the back cover how could I not?

"Edith Hahn was an outspoken young woman in Vienna when the Gestapo forced her into a ghetto and then into a slave labor camp.  When she returned home months later, she knew she would become a hunted woman and went underground.  With the help of a Christian friend, she emerged in Munich as Grete Denner.  There she met Werner Vetter, a Nazi Party member who fell in love with her.  Despite Edith's protests and even her eventual confession that she was Jewish, he married her and kept her identity a secret.

In wrenching detail, Edith recalls a life of constant, almost paralyzing fear.  She tells how German officials casually questioned the lineage of her parents; how during childbirth she refused all painkillers, afraid that in an altered state of mind she might reveal something of her past; and how, after her husband was captured by the Soviets, she was bombed out of her house and had to hide while drunken Russian soldiers raped women on the street.

Despite the risk it posed to her life, Edith created a remarkable record of survival.  She saved every document, as well as photographs she took inside labor camp.  Now part of a permanent collection at the Halocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, these hundreds of documents, several of which are included in the volume, form the fabric of a gripping new chapter in the history of the Halocaust - complex, troubling, and ultimately triumphant."

I also generally don't read memoirs as I'm more a fan of novels - but this book was haunting and compelling.  It is my understanding that this book was made into a movie in 2003.  I have to wonder how I missed that?  Unfortunately, I wasn't blogging back then so I have no real reference as to what was going on in my life at that time.  All I can say is that I had a nine year old - so I was knee-deep in mommyhood at the time and this film wasn't on my radar otherwise, I surely would have seen the movie and read the book.

At any rate, I picked this book up on Friday and was drawn back to it every free moment I had over the weekend.  I finished it on Sunday afternoon.

I explained the plot to my (non-reading) husband and even he was intrigued enough to say, "I might have to read that."  (Not that I'm holding my breath - but if we could find that movie on Netflix, I'm sure he'd agree to watching it).

So, if you are as behind the times as I am and you haven't already read the book/saw the movie, I would recommend that you do so.  This story is well told and so unbelievably gutsy.  I certainly don't think I could have hidden in plain sight in the heart of the Nazi Germany - the fact that she did and lived to tell the tale leaves me in awe.

September 25, 2016

Well, I wasn't expecting to do THAT today - but I'm sure glad I did...

Remember my Backyard Dreaming post from a few months ago?  Well today was the first day in forever that the temperature was a reasonable 73 degrees and overcast.  So this morning, I got it in my head that I would spend about 20 minutes or so, and relocate those irises.

When I got out there though I noticed that some morning glories had taken over the patch where I had planned to put the irises.  So I started to remove them.  Then I discovered that these morning glories were strangling the rose bushes, so I kept going.  And then I was attacked several times by that damn blackberry bush.  Did you know that as pretty as morning glories are they can be considered invasive?

Image result for morning glories

I didn't.  But I do now.  After I had pulled up all of them (I also now know I will be fighting these things forever now according to this link.) and the blackberry bush had attacked my hair and my arms for the millionth time, I knew it had to come out TODAY.  So I went and got my loppers.  As I was hacking away at the bush, Man-Child unwittingly wandered out and officially became my helper - whether he liked it or not.  We hacked away at that thing and then began to dig all the stumps and roots that we could...until we saw a baby black snake.

After that I was DONE.  I don't mind yard work, but I DO mind critters.  If we hadn't seen that snake, I feel sure I'd still be out there even now; hours later.

So even though the ONE thing I went out there to do didn't get done, I still feel a huge sense of accomplishment because the hardest part of this ongoing project is done, even though I know, like the morning glories, I will be fighting the remnants of this bush for a long, long time.  Every time I looked out there and saw that damn blackberry bush, I would become overwhelmed at the thought of tackling that part of the project.  Which is why my initial plan had been to start small.  But now that this piece of the puzzle is pretty much dealt with, the moving of the plants themselves will be a breeze.

And not only that?  The island looks SO.MUCH.BETTER now!  The transformation is absolutely amazing.

Man-Child also learned a thing or two about gardening.  As we removed another plant - no idea what it was but it was UGLY and the root ball was huge, he asked me, "Is that sea shells under there?"  No, they were bulbs.  I told him to pull all of them out because we don't want that ugly thing to come back.

Here is where I was going to do a Before and After shot, but it turns out that is one piece of the yard that I didn't take a photo of for the Backyard Dreaming post.  So instead you just get the After shot.

Ignore that ridiculous contraption holding the birdhouse.  That empty spot between
the butterfly bush and the birdhouse is where most of the blackberry bush was.
(The Husband has promised that the rest of the fence will be coming down soon.  He doesn't yet know that the ridiculous birdhouse is also coming down....)

Now I can see what we have; what we might need to fill a few gaps and my vision for what I want this backyard to look like is becoming clearer.  

So although, I'm exhausted after spending 2 and a half hours out there and am covered in scratches, I am one happy person.  

Am I surprised that it turned out this way?  No.  As much as I was dreading dealing with it, I knew I'd never purposely make the time to do it.  Like any onerous chore, I have to just take a tiny step in the direction I need to go and then tenacity takes over and it gets done.

Now I just have to get my friend over here to take the daylilies away on the left side of the yard.  Once those are gone, the other plants relocated, the rosebushes are trimmed then we can seed that area and then we will have a normal looking backyard and be able to turn our attention to other projects.

September 22, 2016

Performance Reviews...

It has been brought to my attention that the deadline for our performance reviews is the 30th - so just about a week away.

This is the first performance review that I will have to endure in the last two years.  Due to the transition well over a year ago - reviews weren't done company-wide as we all had other, more pressing matters to attend to and now they are back AND re-vamped!

Oh fun.

Personally, I think performance reviews for someone in my position is a waste of time - particularly if I am doing my job capably.  Why do I think it's a waste of time? my entire career I have only had one - maybe two - managers that actually knew what I did on a day to day basis.  Oh sure, they have my job description to go by - but that doesn't actually speak to the nuts and bolts of my daily duties.  So if the managers don't really know what I'm doing or how I'm accomplishing it how then are they capable of reviewing my performance?  They aren't.

My new, big boss - who is a very nice person - particularly doesn't have a clue.  Mainly because it seems he has little interest in what is going on outside of his office.  Case in point - we have less than a week to get this exercise in torture behind us all and he has yet to say a word about it to anyone in the department.

My next complaint regarding this new and improved performance review process - apparently we, the employees, are supposed to be prepared for this meeting (the one that hasn't even been addressed in passing yet) by having worked out what our developmental goals and aspirations are for the coming year.


What does that even mean for someone in my position?

Considering my qualifications, I've pretty much peaked in my career.  I can aspire to be an attorney or an executive - but the odds of my getting there ever, much less in the coming year, are slim to none.  As for developmental goals?  What?

I just had a thought - maybe my aspiration could be to streamline the whole review process.  Knock it down to a basic formula...

Is the employee doing a good job?  Yes or no.
Is the employee generally pleasant and easy to get along with?  Yes or no.
Is the boss happy?  Yes or no.
Is the employee happy?  Yes or no.
If no is the answer for any of the above, please explain and then, only then, does the conversation go deeper.
Review over.

I freely admit I was cranky before I even found out about all this but honestly, this has just raised the level from mildly cranky to full on cranky-pants mode.

September 10, 2016

Finding memories and making room...Finally

We moved from our last house to the rental in December of 2013.  Man-Child did not unpack.  Though this irritated me to no end seeing all those boxes sitting in his room, I understood the why behind his not unpacking.  He was at school for the majority of the year and he knew we would be moving again eventually.

We moved into this house in February and those boxes have sat in his room since then, making me increasingly twitchy every time I walked in or by that room.  But here we are, approximately 2 1/2 years later, and he has FINALLY unpacked.  He and I spent the majority of the afternoon going through each and every box.

The memories he found were priceless, pictures of friends, mementos from various significant life events.  He even came across the Words of Wisdom that we had people fill out at his high school graduation party, he re-read each one with a smile on his face - and placed them in the "keep" pile.  He also found a bunch of stuff he now realized he'd outgrown.  To my surprise, he kept the things I would have suggested that he keep and tossed the same things I would have tossed - he is my child after all.

Before we started, he kept saying that he had nowhere to put all the stuff - by the end he realized that he didn't need all the storage that he thought he needed.  We hauled out five bags of trash (not trash, trash but stuff that really couldn't go to charity) and four bags headed to Goodwill.  He even admitted that it felt good to have a real room and not a room that felt like a storage room.

And me?  I'm feeling MUCH less twitchy.  It's a win-win.

Until I walked into my closet - where MC deposited a few boxes which contain household stuff.  Now I have to find a home for this stuff...and let's not even think about the garage and all the stuff in there.  THAT can wait until the weather turns.

September 9, 2016

I'm onto your tricks, Husband...

A couple of weeks ago I asked The Husband to tighten the toilet tank in the guest bath as it wobbled every time I cleaned it.

Surprisingly, instead of putting me off as is wont on some chores, he decided to take care of it immediately.

H e tightened the tank and then thought he should go ahead and tighten the bolts in the floor - why he thought they needed tightening, I'll never know.  The next thing I knew he was swearing like nobody's business.

Apparently, the bolts hook onto something and he couldn't get them re-connected - honestly, I don't know all the technical details, but it was bad.  To the point that the toilet was out of commission.  The next day he called his plumber who informed him that we would need a new toilet.

And here's where I begun to suspect this was all a ploy on The Husband's part...

See, ever since we've moved in The Husband has complained about our toilets - he thinks they are too low and doesn't like the fact that the seats are round and not oval.  I don't disagree with him but I don't harbor the hatred of them that he did.

Luckily, Man-Child hadn't come home for the semester yet and we didn't have any company as we were stuck with only one working toilet for over a week.  The next weekend we purchased a toilet and then discovered that it wouldn't fit in my (old) car. *sigh*

So we left it at customer service as we tried to scrounge up someone with a truck, van or trailer - which we eventually did.

Several days later, the plumber was able to come and install the new toilet.  The Husband is EXTREMELY happy with it.

Which is why I waiting to see what "happens" to the Master Bath toilet.

September 3, 2016

All you can do is laugh....

I walked into the bathroom yesterday and found this...

Generally, our clothes hamper resides in this corner.  It appears that I have trained my husband very well.  Too well, actually.  He knows that this is where his dirty clothes belong.

Whenever I take the hamper down the hall to do laundry this is what happens.

I can't complain, unlike other husbands I've read about who leave articles of clothing all over the house - socks in the living room, shoes abandoned in the middle of the hall, a shirt tossed over the bed - these are issues I don't have to deal with because I never find his clothes anywhere but in the hamper...unless, of course, the hamper isn't there.

August 27, 2016

I've been grounded...

This morning my car guy came by to listen to my car.  It has been making a rattling noise for a while now whenever I started it.  As the noise would generally go away after the car warmed up, I did as I usually do when it comes to my car - I ignored it.

Until The Husband heard it.  Then he harassed me until I asked our car guy to come take a look.  When I talked to him on the phone, he sighed.  And then told me that it is probably one of two things.  One of those things is bad and the other is a fairly easy fix.

I was hoping for the easy fix.  I'm sure you can guess where this is going.

He informed us the problem was bad.  He offered two solutions - replace the engine or get another car.  He seemed to leaning to the newer car option.  He then told me that I should only drive the car to work if I HAD to because I could end up stranded on the side of the road if and when the car decides to seize up.  We are thinking for the meantime, I may drive The Husband's car to work and he will drive mine since his job is about two miles up the road while mine is a good twenty minutes away.

Also, for those of you ready to chastise me about ignoring the noise - I've been told that it wouldn't have mattered if I'd called the first time I heard it.  It's only a matter of time before it dies.

The Husband and I are now weighing our options and will most likely go with getting a newer car - which I really wish we didn't have to do right now; we were hoping to have Man-Child out of college and The Husband's car paid off before we replaced mine - but what can you do?  Even if we lived in town, the public transportation here is such that it's practically non-existent.  We simply cannot live without two cars - it would be next to impossible.

I have to say that this poor little car has held up well - especially considering it had me as an owner for the past ten years.  It's closing in on 200,000 miles so I suppose it is time to let it go.

In the meantime, I'm sitting here stuck at the house with a means of escape - that I can't use - sitting in the driveway.  I absolutely loathe being without a car.  I mean sure, I don't have anywhere to go right now but if I wanted to, I can't.  At least not until The Husband comes home and I steal his car.

If it's not one thing, it's another - isn't that the way life goes?  But, in the grand scheme of things, it could be worse.

August 25, 2016

The Kitchen House - a book review

As you may know, we just returned from a vacation where Wi-Fi was virtually non-existent.  As such, Man-Child and I reverted to our go-to offline way to pass the time...reading.

I only packed two books but Man-Child - the over-achiever - packed at least five!

At any rate, one of the books I packed was The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom.  Now, I realize this book has been on the market for quite some time, but it has just hit my radar and I absolutely loved it!  And after visiting the author's website, I notice that she has recently released a new book, which is a follow up to The Kitchen House - so I will definitely be searching out that book soon!

The description on the back reads as so:

"At the turn of the nineteenth century on a tobacco plantation in Virginia, young, white Lavinia, who was orphaned on her passage from Ireland, arrives on the steps of the kitchen house and is placed under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate, black daughter.  Lavinia learns to cook, clean, serve food, and cherish the quiet strength and love of her new family.

In time Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, caring for the master's opium-addicted wife and befriending his dangerous yet protective son.  She attempts to straddle the worlds of the kitchen and big house, but her skin color will forever set her apart from Belle and the other slaves.

Through the unique eyes of Lavinia and Belle, Kathleen Grissom's debut novel unfolds in a heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful story of class, race, dignity, deep buried secrets, and familial bonds.

*Minneapolis Star Tribune."

I started this book on the two hour drive from Connecticut back to Pennsylvania and was entranced.  As my MIL and The Husband napped on the couch, I finished it -all 365 pages of it.

The book goes back and forth between Lavinia and Belle's perspective, so at first I had to be fairly vigilant about which character was "speaking" but quickly I was able to switch gears between perspectives.

This book will be one that will live on my bookshelf forever and ever - right next to my copy of Gone With The Wind - and will be read over and over and ever more cherished with every reading.  If you have even a glimmer of interest in reading this book, I would suggest that you do so - you won't be sorry.

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.