Monday, September 29, 2008
Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks...
Last week we had the happy occurrence of taking our older dog, Elway to the vet to check out his rear end. Without giving you TMI it is less than normal, and $144 later we had some very expensive antibiotics, some steroids and some nice little wipes. I was particularly thrilled to take home the wipes, knowing who got to administer them.

My life, it's nothing if not glamorous.

Lately I've noticed that this same dog, who has in ten years run up enough vet bills to repurchase him 20 times over, seemed to be drinking an awful lot of water. Shoving his face into the bowl and taking big gulps til I'd order him to stop. And of course I'd say it in a lovely, sweet, soft voice.

In spite of the fact that the pet accrual appears red when I pull up our online budgeting tool, I scheduled another vet appointment. It makes perfect sense to slide grocery money or life insurance or Christmas shopping or whatever over to the pet accrual, again. So that's what I did then I phoned, and was given another appointment.

Today Elway and I went to see Dr. Bush, who is always calm, and very nondescript, which does make it easier to discuss the dog's rear end, etc. when the need arises. They did bloodwork that cost more than I thought it would cost to check my blood. It came back normal. They checked organ function and we're not talking the type that chimes out 'Rock of Ages' across the neighborhood at the end of the day. Organ function was just fine. They needed to do a urine check and asked for the leash, to take him for a walk outside, hoping he'd cooperate.

He didn't.

So home we went, after paying the bill, me with visions of sliding yet more line items over the again red pet accrual. And with orders to get a urine specimen sometime today and run it back to their office.

I didn't have the guts to ask how to go about it.

Later in the day I walked outside with Elway, when I knew nature was calling, and as soon as he started to pee I shoved the little plastic container under his belly and caught the stream, then turned loose of the dog, looked around praying none of our neighbors had seen me, and would think I'd lost my ever lovin' mind. BTW, I've never been so happy as I was today that our boy dog pees like a girl.

There you have it. Not only did I make the beds, do two loads of laundry, pay the bills, paint the basketball goal, and not shoot the painter who is here dealing with the picket fence. I also figured out how to get a urine specimen from a dog.

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? The question is which one of us is the old dog...So the dog is fine, we don't know why he drinks buckets and buckets of water, but the vet suggested I bring in a specimen every three months. Of course he did because my life, it's nothing if not glamorous.


  posted at 8:26 PM

Need I Say More?

Streetman, TX 59°F
Current:Mostly Cloudy
Wind: N at 0 mph
Humidity: 93%Today

88° 61°Tue, SUNNY

85° 54°Wed , SUNNY

83° 56°Thu , SUNNY

83° 56° , SUNNY

Pittsburgh, PA 61°F
Wind: N at 0 mph
Humidity: 94%Today

70° 52°Tue

68° 49°Wed , RAIN

56° 47°Thu , RAIN (did you see that? HIGH of 56, the 1st week of October!)

61° 45° , RAIN

There you have it, the answer to why we're moving south. And if this isn't enough, the comparison come January and February will be ridiculously depressing.


  posted at 9:16 AM

Sunday, September 28, 2008
Not Giving Anything More
Felicia Riley - 39 year old, single mother of three - actually that's not right. She was separated from her husband, and while he had the three children, Kate - 8, Michael - 6, and Julia - 4, he shot and killed each of them, then himself, back in February of 2007. So she's technically a widow and her three children are deceased. Before he killed the children and himself, he changed the beneficiary on his insurance policy so she would have no proceeds from it.

I read Ms. Riley's story on the front page of the paper this past weekend. The awfulness of the story isn't what struck me the most. Awful things happen every day in this world. What struck me is her response to it. Here's what she had to say:

The first thing I think of every day is just breathe and then everything else is just extra. When they were gone, I felt, why am I here, what's my purpose? Then I came to realize I'm still their mother. I'm living for them. I need to keep going for them and not let them be forgotten."
That was heart-wrenching, but not the part that really spoke to me, the part I'll remember a year or more from now. It's this:

'She said hating him for what he did would only cause more pain.' "The honest truth is that I choose not to give him anything more, including filling my life with anger. I continue to pray for the ability to forgive...and spend no energy from what is left of my life on anger that would give him continued control over me."
The article said she was 'anchored by her faith and buoyed by her support system, she finds purpose in giving of herself in volunteer and advocacy work.' "It gives me more purpose, to play with children, paint a school, construct something, give out beans and rice, pray with people. I'm here for a reason." She says her mantra is a version of Hebrews 12:1 - "let us run the race that is before us and never give up."

I missed church this weekend, or maybe I didn't. Maybe I attended Sunday morning, sitting at my kitchen table, sipping coffee and reading the Sunday paper.


  posted at 8:06 AM

Thursday, September 25, 2008
Bought a House, so I'm Flying the Coop...

We signed our names so many times today, after awhile it just became a scrawl. The house is ours, sometime between tomorrow at 11 am southern time, and Monday when the sellers actually get their money. They've already changed the combination to the garage lock, so we're saying the place is ours. We did something called a 'paperless closing'. Hahahaaaaaaa! Sort of like email and the internet were supposed to make us a paperless world, paperless closings work like this: they email you the documents, which you download, print out, make a copy of, and send back to them so they can likely make many more copies.

It's been over 12 years since we bought a house, and we've never bought one from an owner, without a realtor on either side. Thank the Lord, the seller is a realtor/broker so she knew what she was doing. We actually sat in the snack shop of Bass Pro to write up the contract, and after countless phone calls, emails and mailings back and forth they have become friends of sort. So tonight, they're staying, for one last night, at the lake house they so lovingly had built fifteen years ago. She told me today they have such mixed feelings, and it'll be bittersweet to sit with coffee and watch the birds from the sunporch tomorrow morning for the last time. I told them, give us some time in the house to do you proud, then you can come back for a stay, and have coffee and watch birds with us.

We've prayed over which house will be our home, for about 18 months, and feel God led us to this specific one. We've seen his hand guide us through each step, and the last few mornings I've had coffee with devotions, on my family room sofa, praying for the last few steps of buying this home. For the couple who is leaving it behind, for our family and all the wonderful times we'll share there. I'm praying it will be a blessing to many friends and family, and that going to the 'lakehouse' will be something to really look forward to - coffee, birds and all.

But right now, after a solid week of being on the phone, and signing papers and faxing papers and scanning papers, for a 'paperless closing', I'm over the moon to get up tomorrow morning, make the bed, kiss DH goodbye, give the tempermental cat one last pat, and jump in the car for a girlfriend weekend. Hope you all have a great weekend out there as well.


  posted at 11:46 PM

Having an Office Party
Last season of Gray's Anatomy put me over the top on disgust, disappointment, etc. so we broke up. DH didn't really get a vote - I just told him I'd had it with people who never resolved their relationship issues at any level, and that I found it highly unlikely people who don't get enough sleep are constantly sneaking into supply closets for a little hanky panky. It'd be much more realistic that they'd be sneaking in there for a nap I'm pretty sure, but then that wouldn't really draw viewers. Anyhoo, we broke up, in spite of all the enticing previews of this year's show, where McDreamy asks Meredith to marry him, but alas someone else is expecting his child, possibly from one of those closet trysts that all busy heart and plastic and brain surgeons apparently have.

I think I made a good choice.

Not that it has a lot more redeeming values, but after working in offices for many years, I decided to go with the more realistic show, "The Office". We've spent the summer catching up on the first four seasons, Netflix is sending as I type the last disc which Mr. Mailman should deposit in our box today, and we're having an Office Party tonight. Our middle daughter, Leslie and SIL Jeremy (commonly called Les and Jer because in our family nobody gets more than one syllable, except Janae because that one's a bit tough to shorten unless you want her name to sound like a horse), are coming over. We're rewatching the season four finale to refresh what happened last May, then with heaping bowls of chili and plates of cornbread, followed by pumpkin pie and some other dessert involving chocolate, a fire crackling away, we're going to have the first of many weekly office parties.

I think Angela would disapprove! No streamers, no birthday cake, nothing taped to the walls, just an hour of comedy to end the day together. If today is anything like yesterday was, then I'm pretty sure a dose of The Office will be much more therapeutic than Gray's Anatomy would. Happy Fall! Happy new season of TV! And thank you God for Tivo so that I can watch The Office, while Survivor is busy recording away, saved for another night when I find it comforting to watch people argue with each other.

How about you? Have you dumped any shows lately, picked up any new ones? Or just given up on TV completely? For someone who didn't watch TV at all eight years ago, I'm tickled to pieces over the sound of football in the background, or being curled up on the couch with my knitting, watching people drive each other crazy at work, and knowing no matter what kind of day DH and I had, it could be worse!


  posted at 7:44 AM

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
It Appears the Cat Gets to Live After All....
I thought I'd update any of you who were so kind as to care about whether my little kitty got to live for another day, and gave me some tips through comments.

The kitty powder room is again being used regularly and for that I'm grateful - seriously! When I told DH this, he rolled his eyes, just a bit, but I explained to him that the last thing in the world we need right now is to have to take dear kitty to the vet, have them administer the final shot while I'm weeping and moaning and in deep distress, and that if he realized the seriousness of the situation he'd be much more grateful for the news. 'If mama ain't happy.....'

He didn't make any more little comments at least. I do realize when the stock market is going nuts, and quarterly statements at his company are less than stellar whether the cat uses her box isn't of paramount importance to him, but that's the beauty of marriage. I care about what he cares about (like whether his football team wins because we all know that world peace depends on that!) - and he cares about my cat and catboxes that are used, or not.

So - here's what I did, and I don't know which steps turned the tide, so I'll continue them all:

I removed the hood on the catbox, after the website said they were for owners, not cats who don't care for the odors being held in. Who knew cats don't like stinky boxes?!

I removed the liners, again the websites said they annoy cats, are strictly for humans who have to empty catboxes.

I located and purchased the cat litter - Cat Attract - that is 100% guaranteed. At $14 a bag, it's a little bit pricey, but not overly so compared to the regular stuff at Walmart. Walmart does not carry it - the speciality pet store does and thankfully it's right here in my town.

I sprinkled the cat litter with catnip and she jumped right in and went nuts. I always feel like sprinkling cat nip is a little like giving my cat a marijuana brownie, but if it works, then I can live with an pothead cat. Pothead is better than poopy in my book.

I paid $50 for a plug in that emits pheremones, or whatever those vapors are, that make cats blissfully happy. It doesn't smell nearly as nice as the Glade Jasmine and White Ginger plug in I had, but it does smell better than what she was leaving on the my laundry room floor. The refill is $14 and lasts one month.

I switched her food up a bit, adding something a bit more fattening, because really I'd rather have a fat than dead cat. She was on diet food. What woman is happy for very long on a diet?

So I don't know if it was one step, or a few or all of them, but I have one very happy cat. She spends more time around the annoying dogs, up just high enough on a chair to observe them, but she's not skittering all over the place, trying to get away from them. She has not had one accident, if you can call using the laundry room floor an 'accident', and she sleeps with me the entire night, seeming very content. I think I've increased the cost to maintain the cat by about $19 a month, which is the same as about 5 Starbucks, or one movie and popcorn, or 1/4 of a tank of gas - so it seems a good bargain to me right now. In spite of DH rolling his eyes, just a bit. To each of you who left me comments that helped me find a solution, in case you end this day feeling like you didn't get much of anything done, you were a part of saving my little cat's life, and someday's that's about as good as it gets. I'm gone again this weekend, so let's hope the happy holds! xoxoxo


  posted at 7:52 AM

Monday, September 22, 2008
All Work and No Play....
would make Bev a dull girl, and I sure don't want to give the impression that I work all the time, or that I'm dull. Annoying at times (I've been told), but rarely dull...

So this Friday I'm heading out, in a caravan of two cars full of six giggly women, loaded til the sides bulge, with sewing machines, cutting mats, rotary cutters, power strips, pajamas, board games, wine, snacks and chocolate in various forms. We're headed to Chataqua. This is what the website had to say about Chataqua for any of you 100 - 1200 miles south of me:

In the southwest corner of New York State, just 10 miles south of Lake Erie and Interstate 90 lies a beautiful 23 mile lake, Lake Chautauqua. On the northwest shores of Lake Chautauqua is the world famous Chautauqua Institution, a cultural resort like no other in the world, in its over 125 year history, Chautauqua Institution has provided its participants with stimulating lectures, famous performers, symphony music, opera performances, ballet, all manners of visual and performing arts, lively debates, inspiring religious speakers and music. Presidents, ambassadors, actors, authors are among the many who have spoken from its famous lectern.

A little photo of Chataqua Lake, for any of you who haven't been this far north.

We're attending a quilting conference that is expected to draw FIVE THOUSAND WOMEN, and contrary to what you may think, if you're getting a visual of a bunch of women sitting around with buns on their heads, and laced up corset-style dresses, we're a fun, crazy bunch who happen to love quilting. We're staying for two nights, in three efficiency rooms, and have already figured out how to drag tables together to set up a sewing center where we can stay up way too late chopping up pieces of fabric so we can sew them all back together again. The speaker is Eleanor Burns, known as The Stripping Lady, not because she undresses more often than normal, but rather for the quilting technique she promotes.

The photo is teensy but this is where we're staying, St. Elmo's Resort, inside the gates of Chataqua. That means we won't fight for parking spots every day!

I've been stashing my allowance for months for this little trip. I found out today I don't even have to drive, I get to sit in the middle seat and knit the whole road trip. There's a quilt show of 900 quilts one day, and of course there will be vendors selling fabric, and street vendors selling foods that consist mostly of grease and salt. One whole weekend away with girlfriends eating too much, sleeping too little, possibly spending a bit too much, talking and giggling til I'm hoarse - All play and no work - I'm all over it!


  posted at 9:40 PM

Sunday, September 21, 2008
Work Out Without Ms. Fonda
Back in the mid-1980's when I was thirty years old, I'd don my one piece leotard, pull my hair up in a ponytail, clear out a spot on the living room floor, and pop in the aerobics video. I vividly remember watching Jane Fonda, also wearing a one piece leotard with a ponytail, jumping and gyrating and 'goin' for the burn.' Back then the thinking was, 'no pain, no gain'. It was a pain, but I figured I might come out equal for all the bags of doritos I'd munched away on, sitting on the front porch steps, mad at DH surveying the world. Sit and eat doritos - jump around with Ms. Fonda. I was willing to do what was necessary to avoid a gain in measurements of the three vital areas of me.

I remember at some point hearing or reading that Ms. Fonda was FIFTY YEARS OLD!?, and wondering what on earth I'd look like when I was ancient fifty, since I did the aerobics but also ate the doritos and I highly doubted she ate the doritos since she also wrote a cookbook that mostly involved putting various strange things in blenders, and pouring them into tall, icy glasses. Slurping it down, you'd call it dinner. I wasn't willing to eat whatever she ate to look like she looked at that age.

Twenty plus years later, I don't do aerobics, I don't even exercise that often, not in the purest sense anyway. I definitely don't wear that one piece leotard anymore. I did not get up either morning of this weekend and walk or spend time on the ellyptical. Instead, I got up and drank three cups of coffee with creamer while I read most of the paper and ate two cinnamon rolls. Then I put on my paint-covered overalls and tank top and headed to the garage. I applied the second coat of dry-lock to the cinder block walls of the garage. I've gone through four gallons of the mucky stuff this past week. Then I cleaned that brush, grabbed another and began to paint the ceiling of the garage. After getting half of it done, I cleaned that brush, put away that roller, switched out of my overalls to an outfit more comfortable for yardwork, and began to trim shrubs in the front beds. Three hours later, I'd cleaned up that mess of limbs, dead plants, trimmed leaves, etc. and dragged all the yard stuff to the ravine behind our house. I then dragged me into the house, climbed into the shower and scrubbed every inch of me to clean off dirt and dust and two kinds of paint, paying special attention to my hair which felt lumpy from the ceiling paint.

I didn't exercise this weekend, but what I did do was a pain. While I was having a blast with my activities, DH was busy mowing and power washing the fence and sorting through the junk in the garage since trash day is just around the corner. Tonight we're both whipped, but we think we gained on the battle of getting this house ready to put on the market next spring. I don't know if I could say I felt a 'burn' but my body is weary from top to bottom, too weary to eat doritos actually. Who the heck has time for exercising? Surely Ms. Fonda looked so great, back then, because she was busy jumping and gyrating all over the place, rather than painting cinder block walls and ceilings that left lumps of wet paint on top of that ponytail? There you go, that's the biggest difference between us. Lumps of wet paint on our hair - please don't correct me on this one, I'm way too worn out to eat doritos, let alone argue with anyone.


  posted at 6:46 PM

Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Help with a Stinky Situation
If you're not a cat person, then you'll likely just tell me to drown the cat, or abandon the cat, or give the cat away. If you're a cat person then you'll possibly tell me to sit and talk baby talk to her all day long, stroking her and giving her treats and trying to calm her psyche.

I'm desperate - I need some help here. I've had a cat since I was 15 and that's getting to be a very long time! I've even had several cats at once, and you might call me more of a cat than a dog person, although lately I'm not sure you'd call me either, for all the muttering under my breath going on regarding either species.

Miah is going to be ten this November, she's always been a bit nervous and I think she suffers a bit of post-traumatic stress disorder from previous experiences in her early childhood that I did not cause, and could not prevent. We've had episodes with her now and then.

Lately, she's taken to using the laundry room floor as a catbox on a consistent basis, five feet from her catbox, for her daily doo. I've read on the internet and have done everything they suggested, short of putting her on anti-depressants, which was also suggested. Right when I think she's over it, it happens again.

My last cat was a huge, semi-nasty cat who did this for FIVE YEARS STRAIGHT, in the basement, until I finally just could not tolerate it any more, and had her put to sleep. I swear she was hissing at me to the last minute, and I still cried like a baby.

Miah is sweet, quirky but dear. She's never, ever nasty - but between the two male golden retrievers she has to tolerate, one of which tends to maul her in an attempt to be friends, and my off and on travels away from home, she's obviously stressed.

I have no idea what on earth to do about this. Has anybody had this problem, anyone who actually likes cats, but doesn't value them more than their kids, and can give me a suggested solution. I'm gone again next weekend, for two nights and I know it'll send her for a tailspin, not that she's calm right now, and I'm gone in November for almost two weeks. I just can't bear to ask a housesitter to deal with this, and am willing to try about anything that might help. I've read of shutting them in a close quarters kennel to force them to use the box, but I really think that would stress her even more.

Help please! Jesus would probably think she's a dandy cat, but I'd prefer to keep her here with me.


  posted at 4:14 PM

Sunday, September 14, 2008
And All Parties Went Away Feelin' Good....
So here's how the painting gala weekend ended up:

I painted two walls of the garage with dry-lok which is a bit like painting with gritty pancake batter. You look really lovely at the end of the process. Don never lifted a paint brush, after expressing his extreme dislike for the chore.

Here's what he did instead, being eternally grateful for not having to lift the cursed paint brush:

Replaced the nasty ceiling tiles in the rec room
Fixed the storage room closet door that was sticking
Adjusted the setting on the attic fan
Vacuumed up all the bat poo in the attic from our recent visitors
Ran to the hardware store to buy more dry-lok, kilz and ceiling paint
Replaced the plug on a broken lamp
Repaired the broken corners on the pool table
Vacuumed the entire basement

One of us could use a manicure, but it's a small price to pay for so many items off the list. By Sunday afternoon one of us was piled up in the leather recliner with an icy brew and the remote, watching his favorite team play football. One of us took a hot shower, put on pjs in spite of the early hour, and curled up on the sofa with her bag of knitting. And both members of this union will start the new week, feeling like happy campers.

PS. No need to mention to him that he could have gotten away with just sucking up the bat poo for me to feel like the count was even!


  posted at 6:06 PM

Friday, September 12, 2008
A Blast of a Weekend
Because we tend to be a laugh a minute and are always busy as bees, living the beautiful life, we decided to go completely over the top this weekend and paint the garage. That hasn't been painted in a good thirty years. While it's raining cats and dogs outside.

We're not only really fun people, we also are a little OCD so we put this weekend's plans on the calendar several weeks ago, figuring first we'd paint the garage walls, next weekend would be spent painting the floor and throwing those cool chips onto the wet paint to jazz it up a bit, then the next weekend will be spent power washing the picket fence. See? Our fun plans rate right up there with flying in personal jets to exotic places for a weekend jaunt, or maybe running over to the wine country for a little tipsy tour, or whatever else fancy-schmancy people do with their time.

I'm actually a bit tickled to paint the garage because I'm all about marking things off The List, and for all the painting I've done, I've never painted a garage. You have to paint just about everything else in the house before you ever get around to freshening up the area that only the cars live in, or the mud-crusted gardening tools and flammable materials and insecticides that might kill the pets if they get into them. Since we have indeed painted almost every square inch of the inside of this place, we've decided the garage needs a face lift so that the house can be perfect top to bottom when we finally list it next spring.

DH was completely good with this plan, so tonight we headed to the local Lowes, where we'd already pre-priced cans of Dry-Lok, and those kits for painting your garage with stuff that won't lift off when you drive over it. For a mere $300 you can have a garage that looks brand spankin' new, top to bottom. We went up and down the aisles of Lowes, gathering all we needed, paid and drove home. As we were unloading the cans, out of the blue, DH said to me, "I hate painting."

What? I haven't asked him to paint anything since we painted the living room for the third time, five years ago. He helped and didn't complain so I thought it wasn't that awful. Obviously he's dreading our fun-packed weekend after all. So I said to him, "well, if you really don't want to paint, how about if I paint and you replace ceiling tiles in the rec room, and just yell out cheers of 'atta girl' once in awhile, where I can hear them? He said, "that could probably be arranged." Then, after another moment he asked, "how would you feel about me watching college football from above you, in the family room, and cheering from there?"

Sometimes you can speak vast amounts without saying a word.


  posted at 8:55 PM

Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Spending time at my other place..........
I'm over here today, at GRITS, talking about bugs on strings and grandparenting and sweet neighbors from the past and what I hope for in the future. Grab some sweet tea, or maybe a cup of warmed apple cider and join me.

Sorry, but there's not enough time in the day to keep two places clean and tidy and the beds made up all at the same time.

  posted at 7:48 AM

Monday, September 08, 2008
Talkin' Nice & Photos of Cute People
My momma taught me, as likely yours did too, 'if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." We were piled up in the family room, enjoying an evening of football, when the political ads began to come on. The first one slammed Obama, and ended with "My name is John McCain and I approve of this message." The next break slammed McCain, and ended with "My name is Barack Obama and I approve of this message."

So I'm done with politics til I go vote, won't be saying anything more about it since my momma raised me right. Of note, I did enjoy going to the political rally, if only to see the crazy Republicans who showed up (some were truly completely off the charts bonkers.) We didn't hear anything new, just a cheering session which reminded me of the old high school pep ralleys where we promised to whip the tails of the other team. So I'm glad we went, but we don't think we'd bother again. I will, however, be watching all the debates and the interviews of the candidates on the news programs. But the commercials - good time for a potty break, and the phone calls - since they're not really real people on the other end, I'll be hanging up. Isn't it sad, though, that by the time most of us go to the polls we'll be wondering why we should vote for any of them? And how about other countries who must hear our negative campaign ads and wonder who on earth we're electing? How many days are left til the election?

So much for that - let's move onto something uplifting - how about family photos of our recent vacation? You'll figure out quickly who was taking the photos since there are none of her, but the way her hair looked for most of the trip, she's actually grateful for the omission....

Here's how we started out - with Papa driving and Curious George on the DVD player. We listened to it five gazillion a few times... (Scene of CG in jail for pulling the fire alarm and yes, I do know the entire movie by heart now.)

Bubby never seemed to get tired of it, rather kept asking for "monkey movie". Thank the Good Lord for headphones. Happy kid with a Steeler fleecey blanket, Go Diego Go, his beloved Bull and of course one deeply planted thumb.

The men volunteered to do all the driving, and the ladies sat in the back entertaining Bubby. It was a system that worked pretty well, although the natives did almost have an uprising on the way home, when the youngest started saying, over and over, "out, out, out" and the men thought we'd stopped plenty of times. So one more ice cream stop was made, with Landon running in circles around the parking lot to burn off some steam.

The very fancy 'resort' we stayed in. Funny unleveled doors that wouldn't stay shut, nothing matched, critters knocked over the trash every night, but we loved being there. It felt very rustic, like a vacation to the lake should.

Landon was quite happy to wade no deeper than his ankles at the beach area. He spent an entire morning filling this cup with rocks and sticks.

So many rocks to choose from, so little time. A year from now they'll likely have to watch him or he'll be out in the middle of the lake!

Possibly his favorite item at our resort, the owner's mower. He kept asking for the 'tractor' and was quite content to just sit on it.

And Diane since you asked, I'm sorry to say the muskie memories didn't happen. The fishing guide day was a bit of a bust, although Don did tell me a wonderful story of the boat ramping to get through a chute of water, and whacking down four feet below and scaring the bejeebies out of him. I wish I'd seen that! Jeremy, having taken this trip before, knew it was coming and said he just sat back, waiting for it, then enjoyed the chuckle at Don's expense.

The men stopped for a 'shore lunch' where Larry, the fishing guide (shown here with Jeremy) cooked up what had been caught, threw in some potatoes and called it good. The men swore by it, and I know Jesus did one of those too, for the disciples, but that's a little too fresh for me!

Last stop of the trip was at Niagara Falls, which Jeremy and Landon had never seen. Not that Landon will be remembering this moment, but they sure do take a nice family photo!

  posted at 10:32 AM

Saturday, September 06, 2008
Home Sweet Home
Six days, and 1300 miles, we've gone full circle. Pulling into our driveway tonight, we emptied out the spewage that occurs when you put five people in a vehicle and travel together. Food and pillows and fishing poles and toys and movies and empty Starbuck cups and dirty beach towels and a knitting bag and the most recent People magazine and maps and a GPS named Sue and Go Diego Go toys and sippy cups and diapers and licorice and grit and mud and grime and smelly shoes - the stuff of a great family vacation.

This one was notable because it's the first we've ever taken with any of our married children and their families. We came, we went, we conquered, and we arrived back home still enjoying each other's company, but happy to head to our own homes. And that feels really good. We'll do it again - there's talk already of future trips to Washington D.C. or the Outerbanks or maybe an Alaskan Cruise - together, all of us, even hopefully another little one someday to fill in that backseat and give Landon someone to kick and pinch and breath on and bug for hundreds of miles, like siblings do.

So here - the highlights of our fun, funny trip:

Sitting around a campfire several nights, and seeing more stars than I ever have, in my whole life, and seeing 2 1/2 shooting stars. I only caught the second half of the first one. It's amazing how many stars you can see when there are no city lights.

Sending Leslie and Jeremy out in the boat for a fishing date, and she came back with a photo of a very nice northern pike she caught. Impressed her husband to pieces.

Watching Napoleon Dynamite on the computer together, finally. I was the only one who didn't get all the family jokes, repeating famous lines. I'll be right there with them now.

Seeing Jeremy see Niagara Falls for the first time. Everybody should get to see Niagara Falls at least once. Amazing, truly.

Having the resort owners tell us to look quick, and there in the middle of the lawn was a big, bushy-tailed red fox. I swear it looked like Little Red Riding Hood should have been somewhere nearby. He just laid there awhile then dashed off into the woods.

Having lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on a deserted beach in Killbear Park, and spotting bear tracks in the sand. We multiplied one seagull into twenty with one slice of bread tossed in the air. Landon thought that was fabulous, running around feeding them all.

The very next day we had lunch on rocks in the parking lot of Bass Pro (Canada) enjoying the looks of the other shoppers. We didn't notice the vacant picnic table around the corner. Landon thought it was fabulous to eat on a big rock in a parking lot and it was certainly memorable.

Enjoying a week of meals where the two year old said every prayer. Very specific prayers, "Dear Jesus, thank you for milk and spaghetti and apples and Papa and Grammy and and and..." I have to bet God loves hearing them even more than we did.

Watching a two year old little boy catch his first fish, even if it was two inches long. He won't remember it, but his parents and grandparents will.

Singing the Wonder Pets song inside the car til we all thought we'd go looney toones. It was appropriate for our trip however: "What's gonna work? Teamwork!"

Meeting a Canadian family around the campfire, roasting marshmallows and talking to them about their life, their politics, their insurance, the cost of living there, etc. Lovely people. They'd been coming to the place we were staying since the wife was 10 and she was now 37. How blessed their children are to live with that tradition.

Playing ping pong in the rec center, all four of us while the two year old ran around retrieving the ping pong balls and serving them for us - hysterical fun when you don't follow any rules except keep the ball going at all costs.

Trying to order meat from the deli, realizing I had no understanding of metrics AT ALL, and it was surprising to see how expensive everything was. Made me realize I need to quit complaining about how much anything costs here in the US, it's more there. Their money is much prettier I think.

Driving back across the border, and having the border guard ask us why we went to Canada, and why were we returning to PA. Was she blind? Did she not see the smelly shoes, the dirty beach towels, the movies, the Starbuck cups, the Go Diego Go toys, Sue the GPS system, the pillows and fishing poles and knitting bag and People magazine?

We went on family vacation, it was wonderful, then we were all quite ready to go back each to our own Home Sweet Home.


  posted at 11:45 PM

Wednesday, September 03, 2008
A Friend Like Henry
I was asked by Source Books to review a wonderful new book, A Friend Like Henry. It's an incredible story of a boy born with autism, the journey he and his parents take and the role a golden retriever named Henry plays in changing their world. If you'd like to know more about it, run over to Five Minutes for Books. I've put a link to a video of the family on You Tube, and you can also enter to win one of three copies of the book they are giving away.

You don't have to be a dog lover to be moved by this book. Anyone with a heart will be touched and enlightened by their story, I promise.

No comments here please, go over there to enter to win.


  posted at 12:15 AM

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    Girl Raised in the South

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