Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Addition

Little H was born on Friday, December 22 at 7:35 pm (a Capricorn by one day!). She weighed 10 lbs., 8 oz. and was 21 inches long. My ob/gyn sent me to Labor & Delivery at the hospital Friday morning after my last regular check-up because she didn't like the results of the non-stress test they did in the office that morning. After much back and forth, my c-section that was scheduled for Tuesday the 26th was moved to Friday night.

The surgery wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Mark was there the whole time and was even able to cut the cord again. My parents and Big H were waiting just outside. The only bad part of the whole hospital stay was being stuck there Christmas Eve.

But we all came home Christmas morning and moved the Christmas celebration from my parents' house to ours instead. It wasn't exactly what we had planned, but everyone is healthy and happy and we were still able to celebrate Christmas at home.

Monday, December 11, 2006

2006 Reading List

Unless I read a book while I'm in the hospital, I think I'm done for 2006. I don't think I'll be squeezing in any more reading in the next three weeks, so I might as well post this now. Here is my 2006 reading list. Much smaller than I had hoped - I didn't even average a book a week this year, which is rare for me. I read more young adult fiction than I have in a long time, which was a nice change of pace, and discovered new authors Megan McCafferty and Sarah Dessen. I categorized the list this year by genre (CF - crime fiction, M - mystery, F - fiction, SF - southern fiction, not scifi, YA - young adult) and by where I get my books. As you can see, most of my reading material comes from the library. I rarely buy new books. Past lists can be found here, here and here.

1. Last Lullaby by Denise Hamilton (CF) (bookcloseouts)
2. Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs (CF) (library)
3. The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd (F) (library)
4. Buried Diamonds by April Henry (M) (bookcloseouts)
5. Crosscut by Meg Gardiner (CF) (bookcloseouts)
6. The Rosary Girls by Richard Montanari (CF) (library)
7. Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty (YA) (library)
8. Butcher’s Hill by Laura Lippman (M) (library)
9. Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx (short stories) (library)
10. Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty (YA) (library)
11. Forests of the Night by James W. Hall (CF) (library)
12. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (F) (library book sale)
13. Trace by Patricia Cornwell (CF) (library)
14. Predator by Patricia Cornwell (CF) (library)
15. Blue Ridge by T.R. Pearson (F) (bookcloseouts)
16. Starting from Square Two by Caren Lissner (chick lit) (library)
17. Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen (YA) (library)
18. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (F) (library)
19. Cage’s Bend by Carter Coleman (F) (library)
20. Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen (YA) (library)
21. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (YA) (library)
22. The Last Girls by Lee Smith (SF) (library)
23. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl (YA) (library)
24. Crusader’s Cross by James Lee Burke (CF) (library)
25. That Summer by Sarah Dessen (YA) (bookcloseouts)
26. Cold Mountain (historical/SF) (borrowed from a friend)
27. The Skin Gods by Richard Montanari (CF) (library)
28. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen (YA) (bookcloseouts)
29. Stone Garden by Molly Moynahan (F) (bookcloseouts)
30. Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty (chick lit) (library)
31. Exile by Denise Mina (CF) (library)
32. The Cheer Leader by Jill McCorkle (SF) (bookcloseouts)
33. Death Dance by Linda Fairstein (CF) (library)
34. Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson (SF) (library)
35. Legacy of Masks by Sallie Bissell (CF) (library)
36. The Twelfth Card by Jeffrey Deaver (CF) (library)
37. The Delta Belles by Penelope J. Stokes (SF) (library)
38. The River House by Margaret Leroy (F) (library)
39. Break No Bones by Kathy Reichs (CF) (library)
40. The Same Sweet Girls by Cassandra King (SF) (library)
41. Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns (SF) (library book sale) (English class)
42. The Contender by Robert Lipsyte (YA) (English class)
43. The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper (F) (bookcloseouts)
44. Baker Towers by Jennifer Haigh (F) (bookcloseouts)
45. A Rip in Heaven by Jeanine Cummins (true crime) (bookcloseouts)
46. The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson (F) (bookcloseouts)
47. by Kathryn Tarbox (YA) (bookcloseouts)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Christmas Miracle!

Not really, but this is the first time Big H has sat on Santa's lap. I didn't think she would do it and we didn't really talk about it, but she walked right up to get her present and sat down to have her picture taken. This was at my work's children's Christmas party on Saturday, so maybe it wasn't as overwhelming as going to the mall.

Three Down, Four to Go

Class #3 is over. We handed in our final projects last week - the unit lesson plan on Cold Sassy Tree - so really all we had to do for the final class was pick them up and discuss them as a group a little bit. I got a 30/30 on the unit plan (and should have an A in the class). Only five people in the class received a perfect score, so that made me feel good, especially since some people in the class do this every day for a living.

I'm undecided about the spring semester. Classes don't start until the last week in January, so if I would take one night class, it would be while I'm on leave except for the last two weeks, which wouldn't be that bad. But we'll have to wait and see what kind of baby we have. If she's colicky like Hayley was, taking a class might not be possible. I know I don't want to take another two night a week summer class. That was just too much. Another possibility would be to take a condensed summer class. They offer a few that are a week long from 9-4pm, Monday-Friday and it's still worth the whole three credits. I might use a week's vacation and take one so I don't have to wait until next fall to take another class.

There's still time to decide. You can register right up until the last minute as long as there is still space in the class. I don't have to decide right now.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving Weekend

I love having four days off in a row! There should be more long weekends like this. I took a nap every day, even after sleeping until 8am on Saturday. Thanksgiving Day was fun and relaxing. Big H and I watched the parade together and then all three of us went to my parents' house for dinner. It wasn't too hectic or crazy and all the kids played well together.

On Friday, Big H's BFF came over for a little while in the morning to play since both of her parents had to work. Then I had a doctor's appointment at 11am and Big H went with me. She's been asking to go to the "baby doctor" all along, so I think it was a fun visit for her and she asked a lot of questions. In the afternoon, we wrapped presents. Big H was in charge of the tape, but she only lasted through three or four presents, then she lost interest. But I did accomplish my goal and wrap everything that I have so far.

Saturday and Sunday, we just stuck close to home and enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather. Big H played outside with Daddy, freeing me up to get a few more things done in the house, like putting all of the fall decorations away.

Tonight was dance class. We had to put down a deposit on the costumes for the recital that isn't until June. At least there's just one costume and not two separate ones for ballet and tap. I think they're dancing to a song from "Beauty and the Beast," so the costumes will be some sort of princess costume.

Next weekend is the second-to-last class for school and our final projects are due (the lesson unit plan on Cold Sassy Tree), so that will keep me busy this week. After class, I'm planning on stopping at a few places on the way home to finish up my shopping without dragging Big H along. I'm almost finished!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Christmas Shopping

Well, I didn't meet my unofficial goal of having all of my Christmas shopping done by Halloween, but I did check quite a few people off my list. I made a toy layaway for Big H back on October 11 and ordered a few other things for her from catalogs. I'm just waiting for the boxes to arrive. I need to get her one more toy from Walmart, but it was all the way up on the top shelf and, of course, there was no one around to help me with it. Of the 12 other kids we buy for, all but three are done and I atleast have one thing each for them. For the nieces and nephews we don't see very often, everyone is getting a board game this year. I also have presents for my dad, who is one of the hardest people on my list to buy for. I placed a catalog order today that takes care of the aunts, sisters-in-law and my younger sister. My next goal is to do all of my wrapping Thanksgiving weekend. I shouldn't have to go shopping by then!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

Have a "wonder"ful Halloween everyone!

Big H, age 4, 2006

And me, age 5, 1977

Monday, October 30, 2006


A great article from the Washington Post Magazine that could help inspire and motivate high school students.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

1001 Books You Must Read

Some English teacher I'm supposed to be. I've only read 31 of the books (or 3%) on this list from the book "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die: A Comprehensive Reference Source, Chronicling the History of the Novel." And I haven't read any of the books from the 2000s. I'm not sure what that says about me.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Smooth Ride

Here's a shot of Big H riding her bike on our glorious new blacktopped road!

Friday, October 06, 2006


Big H made her first trip to the dentist yesterday. I originally tried to schedule her to go with me the last few times I've gone down to Aunt J's office, but it never worked out and we needed to go, so I found a local dentist instead. Big H did an amazing job for her first trip there. She wasn't scared and cooperated with the hygentist through the entire cleaning and fluoride treatment. The hygientist was great, too. She explained everything she was doing and really took her time with Big H. The only bad part of the trip is that the damage to her weird front tooth is a cavity. The dentist thinks it will probably fall out sometime in the next year, especially if she bites into something hard like an apple, because it is very weak, but he recommended filling it anyway to make it stronger. The silver lining is that I think she finally understands she can't drink chocolate milk in the middle of the night any more. We had broken her of this habit and then M. was weak and started giving it to her again. Last night, I didn't hear a peep out of her. He also is going to recommend an oral surgeon to have the piece of skin that connects the lip to the gum cut (Hayley's comes all the way down in between her front teeth, which I think contributed to the cavity and her "perceived" speech problem), which I'll probably wait and do sometime while I'm on maternity leave.

M. had an appointment at the same time as Big H. He hadn't been to the dentist in a very long time (as someone who goes religiously every six months, I'm too embarrassed to say how long) and it showed in his appointment results. Needless to say, M. will be making a few more trips to the dentist between now and the end of the year.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Book Choice

I finished Cold Sassy Tree a few days ago (I think it took me three weeks to read, very unusual for me, but I'm hardly doing any reading at night because I'm too tired) and I'm glad this is the book I chose for class. In class on Saturday, we had to go around the room and say which book we chose. Three people picked The Giver and two chose To Kill a Mockingbird. No one else selected Cold Sassy Tree and everyone else chose a different book, so we should have lots of different lesson plans at the end. We were given some time in class to start on a couple of the elements of the final lesson plan project. The class continues to go well - everything is new to me, so I'm learning something new every week. And we continue to get out between 10:30 and 10:45, which is great.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


After only four hours of sleep Monday night, this was me trying to take a nap Tuesday after work from 5:30-6:15:
  • After riding her bike for about 5 minutes, Big H comes into the room and wakes me up. Great babysitting, Dad.
  • Our next door neighbors are mowing their lawn and they are completely inept about it. It is like this every time they mow. For some reason, they turn the mower on and off about every 10 minutes. And of course, our bedroom wall is the wall that faces their yard.
  • The phone rings and the machine picks it up.
  • Big H comes in and wakes me up again.
  • M. decides to start the race car. And then he asks me why I'm up and cooking dinner when he comes in the house a few minutes later.

So at 9pm, after we put Big H to bed, I'm ready to collapse. But this is the moment the farmer who owns the field behind us decides to cut down the soybean crop. Who starts culling a field at 9 o'clock at night when it's pitch dark out? So I turn on the air conditioner to drown out any other background noise and finally fell asleep at 9:30.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Okay, so August and September were a wash. No excuses, really. This pregnancy has knocked me out in a way I wasn't expecting. I am supremely tired all the time. I've become an expert at finding a place to nap in the afternoons at work. Otherwise, the pregancy is going very smoothly. I'm currently in my third trimester and almost 28 weeks. Now that October is here, it hit me that this baby will be arriving before we know it. With the expectations of upcoming holidays and finishing my Saturday class, the time is flying. I can barely even read anymore, which upsets me to no end. I hardly make it through one or two chapters and my eyes droop and I'm out like a light. And keep in mind I do a lot of my reading while eating lunch at my desk at work!

I hope to go back and post-date some entries - our big family vacation in August, my ultrasound photos (it's a girl, by the way), etc., and if I do, I'll enter a new post with a link. Plus, there's always plenty going on - Big H started ballet and tap a few weeks ago, all of the fun fall craft shows are coming up and more. So, I'm sorry for the absence and I'll try to do better. Pinky swear.

You Know You Live in a Small Town...

...when you get way too excited about the fact that the township is paving your street.

Don't get me wrong, our street is paved, but in typical Pennsylvania fashion- some strange mix of rocks and concrete that is one step above a gravel road. Today it is being paved with real live blacktop! The reason I'm so excited is that we live on a cul-de-sac with only one other house, so there is no traffic. But the court area is usually so full of rocks, stones and debris, that it's hard for Big H to ride her scooter or her bike out there. So now it should be the perfect place to learn how to ride a bike and play basketball. It makes our location ten times better than it already was.

Monday, September 11, 2006


The fall semester started on Saturday with class #3 in the program - the methods class for teaching English. I'm there from 8:30am-11:15am (meaning I leave the house at 7:30am and should be home by noon; we actually got out at 10:45am for the first class). Solely based on the first class and the syllabus, I think this is going to be a great class, on par with class #1. Since this is the methods class, everyone is teaching or will be teaching middle school or high school English. There are only 12 people in the class, with a mixture of already teaching and not teaching. Quite a few are first year teachers who just started teaching a couple of weeks ago when the new school year began. I'm not the oldest person in the class, probably somewhere in the middle. One of the first activities we had to do was "share in pairs" with a partner to talk about our best and worst experiences in school. For the best, I talked about my sixth grade class, which was 1983-84. The girl I was sharing with was born in 1983. There's also a girl from class #1 in this class, so there was one familiar face.

As a class, we'll be reading The Contender by Robert Lipsyte (which I've never read) and creating an entire unit on it. Then, on our own, we have to read one book from a predetermined list and we will be creating similar unit lessons for that book as the main project in the class. I can't decide if I should play it safe and choose a novel I've already read, such as To Kill a Mockingbird or The Great Gatsby, or stretch myself and pick a book I haven't read yet so I will get more out of the class and check off another book on my reading list. I'm leaning toward Olive Ann Burns' Cold Sassy Tree, which I have a used copy of that I found at the library book sale but haven't had time to read yet. I'd like to read a book I already have a copy of, so other potential titles include Lois Lowery's The Giver, Steinbeck's The Red Pony (which I only read once in sixth or seventh grade) and a couple of others I can't think of off the top of my head. Any suggestions? Everyone in the class has to make copies of the final lessons/unit to give to the rest of the class and I'm guessing very few would choose Cold Sassy Tree and half the class could end up choosing To Kill a Mockingbird.

PS - One thing on my list of useless things to worry about: the desks and chairs in the classroom. For class #1, we sat in all-in-one desk chairs. I was afraid that if we had them again, my ever-expanding belly wouldn't fit in the chair and I'd have to sit sideways the whole time. Luckily, we're seated at tables with very comfy adjustable, padded desk chairs.

Monday, July 31, 2006


The day I've been waiting for, the last day of class. Last night was it and now I have a nice break until after Labor Day. I was almost weak when it came time to do the evaluation, but I stuck to my guns. Tuesday night's class was exactly the way all of the other classes should have been - the instructor taught for awhile and then we had lab time to work on projects that were due. If only the rest of the class had been that way, it would have been a much better class, even at the beginner level. Now I'm just waiting for my final grade, which should be available online sometime next week.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mark Your Calendars

The season premiere of Grey's Anatomy is Thursday, Sept. 21 at 9pm (which is much better for me, personally, than Sundays at 10pm).

Fame is Fleeting...

...when you're an Oscar-nominated child star who drives a '95 Saturn.

Friday, July 14, 2006


That's the only word I can use to describe my second summer class. As good as the first one was, the second one is bad. First, I'm stuck in the beginner's class because of some bad advice from my advisor (the beginner and advanced classes are both held at the same time and are supposed to swap students on the first night regardless of which one you registered for, but both classes were so overbooked that there wasn't room to switch). And is some ways, it's even a pre-beginner's class. I knew I was in trouble on the first night when the instructor asked, "How do we maximize a window in Explorer?" And then a girl sitting behind me asked the instructor to define the word "telecommunications." Huh?

This week, we spent two hours on Tuesday and another hour last night on Word. Word! Even though the project due next Tuesday has to be in PowerPoint. But that's typical of the class as a whole. It's very unorganized and the syllabus is completely confusing in the way that it's written. What's more frustrating is that the people who don't know what they're doing don't listen and end up asking questions that the instructor just answered.

My mantra right now is, "Four more sessions, four more sessions." But the sad thing is that I'm paying for this class.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Car Trouble

All of our vehicles have been cursed as of late. We've spent a fortune on them in the past month or so. First off, the Neon died at the beginning of June. This is the car M. drives back and forth to work. We knew it was coming eventually and can't really complain. It was a '97 with over 200,000 miles on it, so we got our money's worth. So for two weeks, he drove the truck to work. The first week, he spent $170 on gas; the second week, $190. We had to stop the bleeding, so on Sat., June 24 we went and bought a Chevy Cobalt. We hadn't planned on buying a new car, but we got a really good deal on it and it won't be something we have to sink a lot of money into. And we specifically bought an American car because we haven't been that happy with the Kia.

June is also the month we have to renew our tags and get all of the vehicles inspected, not a cheap investment in PA. The van passed no problem, then we dropped off the truck for inspection and to replace the spare tire. It also passed, but when we went to pick it up, it wouldn't start. It wasn't the battery, it was the starter. Well, M's truck is a 2004 and surely that's covered under the warranty. The warranty to the truck is a measly 3 years/36,000 miles. Guess how many miles M. has on the truck? Guess! 36,433! Can you believe it?! No wonder people don't want to buy American cars anymore and so much for us going back to Chevy. $400 later, it's fixed. My dad thinks I should still call Chevy and see if I can work a deal with them to pay half or something.

In the meantime, the van has been acting kooky. Last Friday, I had to run into the doctor's office. When I came back out, the gas gauge was on E and the gas light was on. I knew I had atleast a half a tank of gas left and was only at 169 miles, when I usually get 300 out of a tank. But I went and filled it up anyway. I only put 12 gallons in to fill it and the light went off and the gauge went back to normal. Now I'm waiting to see if it does it again when I get back down to a half a tank. And to top it all off, on Saturday, as Big H and I were driving up to the mall, we got a flat tire. Yes, another flat tire. And of course, we were in a construction zone. If we had driven another 25 yards or so, there wouldn't have been any place to pull over and the shoulder we were on was already very narrow. I called AAA (my cell phone that I've had for 5+ years paid for itself just with that one phone call) and while we were waiting for them to come, a very nice man and his son stopped to help us. I told him he didn't have to change the tire because AAA was on the way, but he changed it anyway, which was incredibly nice. I tried to give him a twenty, but he wouldn't take it. I am extremely grateful!

So now I'm hoping we can make it through this week without spending any money on our cars except on gas!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Various and Sundry Items

An excellent long 4th of July weekend! I started it off by going to bed at 9:30pm on Friday night (after an exhausting day of work, a doctor's appointment and entertaining the exterminator). Big H stayed up later than I did. But don't worry, it gets more exciting from there. I spent Saturday morning cleaning. That's right, cleaning all of the bathrooms! But then Big H and I left to go to my parents' house. She spent the day with them at a 4th of July cookout and watched fireworks for the first time while I went out to dinner with Na and Wendy for Na's birthday, where we had a very relaxing and enjoyable evening. I ate so much that I struggled to stay awake to watch the end of the NASCAR race, but did not make it. But those two nights of going to bed early gave me lots of energy for the rest of the weekend.

We went to Aunt J & T's marina on Sunday for a family 4th of July celebration. I spent most of the day in the pool with Big H, who is still a little fish when she's in the water. She did great with the water wings, so I might not have to worry about the other swimming inner tube that exploded and not being able to find another one since Walmart has all of the school supplies out already.

On Monday, we did a family togetherness thing, just the three of us. M., Big H and I went to the Hershey Gardens. I had never been there before and was very impressed. But then again, Hershey is like Disney - they usually know how to do things right. There is a children's garden area with a Butterfly House. Big H was much better behaved than she was at the butterfly house in Niagara Falls two summers ago when she was too rough with the butterflies. We also went to see the Big Bugs exhibit - giant bug sculptures made out of natural materials, which was very cool and Big H really seemed to enjoy it, since she loves all things bugs. The only downside was the weather. We went early to try and beat the heat, but by quarter to twelve, we had had enough and headed off to lunch at Applebees.

Tuesday was more cleaning and playing with Big H. We finally went to get her inflatable pool out of the shed, but alas, a mouse had taken up residence in it for the summer and it was unusable. She was devasted, but we promised to get her a new one this week. We finished the fun weekend with hamburgers on the grill and local fireworks.

Back to real life this week. School starts again on Thursday. Our Monday/Friday summer babysitter is on vacation, so we're using a back-up, but I think that will go smoothly. My doctor's appt. on Friday was fine. I gained two and a half pounds in June and my blood pressure is looking good. We made the appt. for our ultrasound on July 27, so hopefully we'll find out the sex then. Just in time for vacation and lots of shopping!

Friday, June 30, 2006

One Down, Six to Go

I finished my first class in the ACT program last night. Overall, I was very pleased with the entire class and with my grade of 98% - an A! The instructor was great - very honest about her experiences as a teacher and very knowledgeable about the subject.

Now I have a week off before the next class begins on the 6th. There are a couple of people from the first class taking this one, so I will actually know a few people on the first night. This class is a technology class and I'm afraid it's going to be utterly boring, not unlike other computer classes I've taken that cater to the less knowledgeable users and dumb down the class. A girl in the reading class has already taken the technology class and told us it's pretty much "Create a lesson plan in Word! Create a spreadsheet in Excel! Create a PowerPoint presentation!" The only saving grace may be that the first half of the class is instruction and then you can go work on your project either in the computer lab or at home. So maybe I won't get home at 10:30pm every night.

PS - Last night, we had to do a group activity to complete a chart. One girl was sharing her (handwritten, not typed) chart with a phrase that was supposed to read "a pencil and a piece of paper," except pencil was "pensil" and piece was "peice." Yes, her content area is math, but still, this is a girl who already has a bachelor's degree and those are elementary school vocabulary words. There's a big difference between typing and having a typo and having an error when something is handwritten.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Recitals, Vacations and Birthdays, Oh My!

Busy June continues. Saturday was a marathon ballet recital-Father's Day-birthday celebration. Big H and I left the house at 10am and didn't get home until 10:30pm. First stop was the card store, then we were off to my parents' house for the first ballet recital. Little K danced in the 12:00pm recital. She was in four groups - tap, jazz, ballet and modern. In two of them, she was the lead at the front of the group. She's really very good! Big H loved watching all of the performances, but she seemed to really like tap (probably because you get to stomp around and make noise). We might have to sign her up for tap in the fall instead of ballet. The finale was a medley from "Annie" and Big H was riveted, which is good, since I wanted to take her to a dinner theater performance of "Annie" that's coming later this summer. I definitely think she'll sit through it.

When the recital was over around 2:30, we went back to the house for a quick snack before Big K's 4:30pm recital. Big K was only in two performances - ballet and modern - but we had to sit through another two-hour recital. We finally made it back to the house again just after 6:30 and prepared for our Father's Day/Mom's Birthday cookout. After dinner and presents, we finally got to the big surprise of the evening, the one we had been waiting for since December. My sisters and I told my parents about the anniversary trip we have been planning for August. K&K & Big H came down the steps dressed in their Smoky Mountain t-shirts and read the following poem (written by moi, but in the tradition of the Block family, all of them master poets):

Honey and Pop Pop-

Come this November, you’ll be married 40 years,
Years full of laughter, joy and some tears.

To celebrate this special event,
A trip with all of us is our intent.

Three daughters, three sons-in-law and one stray Bubble,
Plus Big H, K & K – triple trouble!

We hope you’re free from August five through twelve
Any plans you’ve made you’ll have to shelve

In Gatlinburg, Tennessee, we’ve rented a chalet
For a week-long mountain get-away

Golf, shopping and Dollywood,
How can it not be good?

Forty years is big and we wanted to make a fuss,
And no need to worry, it’s all on us.
Happy Anniversary!

Of course, my mom cried. But they were both really surprised, which is a miracle because so many people in our family knew. Big H said the line, "Triple Trouble!" and was upset that she didn't have a bigger part, even though we explained it was because she couldn't read yet. Now I'm really excited for the trip to be here!

Sunday was more relaxing. We went swimming at my mother-in-law's after M. cut her grass. Even though it was extremely hot out, the water was still freezing cold, but it felt good. Next weekend is another family birthday party, and then it will be 4th of July weekend (a nice four-day weekend).

Class in Review

Class has begun and I'm actually halfway through already! It's been tough because I'm so tired during class (I had to have afternoon sickness instead of morning sickness), but the class is very interesting. The first session was overwhelming and there are so many terms I don't know, but I'm learning and that's what matters. The instructor is a high school English teacher (at my alma mater) and chair of the English department, so everything she teaches us is very practical and useful. The class is a mix of non-teachers and those already teaching, which made me feel a lot better. We handed in our first project last Tuesday, reviews of three journal articles, and I received a grade of 100%. What a relief! Project #2 is due tonight - three sample lesson plans that incorporate pre, during and post reading strategies. My very first lesson plans! All of mine focused on Truman Capotes's In Cold Blood, since it was fresh in my mind after reading it for the American Lit class I took last year.

I'm debating dropping the class I signed up for in July, only if I don't feel any better by the 4th. I'll hit week 13 of the pregnancy this Thursday, so I'm hoping the first trimester symptoms will pass and I'll feel more energetic. The July classes run until 9:30pm instead of 9pm and I just don't think I could make it, with not getting home until almost 10:30pm after working all day, the way I am feeling right now. We shall see!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Sorry for the silence around here lately. Life happens. Mostly, I just haven't had the energy or the attention span to focus on putting a comprehensive entry together. Why, you may ask? That's because all of my bodily functions are focused on growing a new little life form. Yes, baby #2 is on the way, due at the end of December, right around Christmas. I'm tired at work, I'm tired at home, so I just haven't been able to muster the energy to think about all of the things I need to think about right now.

But all of that should change soon, hopefully. Morning sickness (afternoon sickness for me) should be tapering off as the third trimester ends and school starts this week, so look for some updates over at the other blog. I promise I'll try not to turn this into a pregnancy blog, but will keep my few faithful readers updated on any news.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Nothing Like Waiting Until the Last Minute

I registered for summer classes this morning. I had to do it in person since I'm registering for the first time, so it was hard to fit in my schedule until today. The first class starts on Tuesday. The summer session is two four-week, eight-class sessions, so the first class is from June 6 - June 29 on Tuesday and Thursday nights, followed by a short break for Fourth of July, and then the second session is July 6 - July 27, also on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'm taking "Teaching Reading and Writing in the Content Areas, Pt. 1" first, followed by "Technology for Instruction and Management" for the second session.

I'm afraid I'm biting off more than I can chew at this point, but I really want to get as many classes under my belt as possible right now. The second class should be fairly easy - it covers how to use the electronic portfolio that you will need for the rest of your classes, but the first class is a real live education class. Even though I took those online classes last year, I'll actually be back in the classroom now. I have visions of Elle Woods on her first day at Harvard Law. I'll be in class with my gel pen and spiral notebook and everyone around me will whip out their laptops and already have read and outlined the first five chapters in the textbook. Gulp!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Stand Up

Support free speech and the right to hold an opinion that may differ from someone else's without being publicly vilified for it by ignorant, intolerant people and country radio stations controlled by conservative corporate interests. Buy the Dixie Chicks' new CD, out today.

UPDATE 5/31: This is exactly what I hoped would happen!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Mother's Day Weekend

The weekend started early, since I took a vacation day for Friday, but it didn't start out very well. On the way home from work Thursday evening, I blew out a tire on the van. Luckily, I was near a little parking lot in a county park, so I could safely park the van. Of course, M. was going to be home late that night; any other night and he would have been home before I even left work. So I called our neighbor, trying to catch her before she picked up her daughter at the same daycare as H. I did get her and she was nice enough to come get me and then stop so we could pick up H, too. And of course, it was also tumbling class night. I would have skipped it except we missed last week when H banged up her knee, so we got home and left right away in the truck. I left M. a message, since he would see that both the truck and van were missing, and we made it to tumbling just in time.

After we got home, we called AAA, thinking they could tow the van, but if you have a spare, they will put the spare on instead of towing it. Since it was raining, we decided to let AAA put the spare on instead of M. doing it himself. I felt so bad though, because as soon as we got back to the parking lot, the rain turned into this giant thunderstorm. We asked the mechanic guy if he just wanted to come back in the morning and change it, but he didn't seem to mind doing it in the rain. Good thing we had him do it, too, because the spare was a monster to get off from underneath the back of the van. We would have been there all night if M. had to do it!

Luckily, the spare is a full-sized spare, so it didn't delay or cancel our trip to Ocean City for the weekend. First, I had the Mother's Day tea at H's preschool, which was absolutely adorable. They sang songs and served us iced tea and snacks and gave us flowers. We left for the ocean just after one and got down there right at 5pm. We had a wonderful dinner at a restaurant on the bay and watched the sunset in to the water.

On Saturday, we went to Assateague in the morning. The weather was absolutely perfect. H was more interested in getting her feet wet than building a sand castle. She loved playing just at the edge of the water, running when the water would come up to meet her. We stayed there for a couple of hours and even though we didn't see any ponies on the beach, we did see quite a few along the road in the wetlands area.

We went up on the boardwalk Saturday night and H got on a bunch of kiddie rides. She really wanted to get on some of the big-kid rides - she has no fear - but she's not nearly tall enough. We just had pizza for dinner after walking around and were back at the condo around 9pm. I crashed around 10:30, not even making it to the end of the NASCAR race.

Sunday morning was cold and overcast, so we had a terrific Mother's Day breakfast at some little hole-in-the-wall restaurant and headed back home. It was a very relaxing Mother's Day weekend, even though the usual laundry and cleaning chores were waiting once we returned home. The best present was getting to watch The West Wing finale Sunday night uninterrupted! (And how about the Grey's Anatomy episode Sunday night? I'm so glad it's on again tonight. I couldn't bear to wait for September!)

Monday, May 08, 2006


I had my admissions interview at NDM yesterday afternoon. It went very well and I’m in the program, with my official acceptance letter to come in the mail later this week. It was more of an information session than an interview, except for some questions at the end. The interviewer/adviser was very enthusiastic and ready to have me go to the registrar’s office right then and there to register for the summer session. But I need a few days for everything to sink in and to talk over the schedule with Mark, since he will have to take care of Hayley for two nights a week for eight weeks over the summer, beginning just after Memorial Day. So I’m going to enjoy our weekend at the beach and then come back and register and finally get started. Real forward progress at last!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Rough Week

H had a rough week this week. At school on Tuesday, she cut her finger with the scissors - not with the blades, but she pinched it between the plastic handles and had to have a band-aid for it. On Thursday at school she fell down outside on the asphalt and had a huge scrape on her knee and elbow. She still wanted to go to tumbling that night, even though her knee looked really sore and I didn't think she could participate fully, but we went anyway. Halfway there, she told me she didn't feel good and wanted to go home. I turned around and headed for home when she told me she had to "growl" (her word for throwing up). There was no place to pull over, so I handed her the little trash bag I keep in the car and she growled into it. What a trooper! And then, on Saturday, when the scrape was feeling better and starting to scab over, she managed to get stung by a bee inside the house. She had already had her bath and was in her pajamas and somehow a bee made it inside the house during the day and stung her on the foot. She was exhausted and slept until 8am Sunday morning, which she never does.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Warning, This Post is Kind of Whiny

Still can't post pictures to Blogger. Is it just me? I guess I need to try from home. Maybe my luck with posting pictures from work has run out, even though I tried it from two different types of computers (network and non-network).

A jumbly, emotional weekend, both good and bad. M. had to work late Friday night and didn't get home until 10pm and had to go back for a full day's work on Saturday, too. When he finally got home Friday night, he told me work had just let him know he had to go to Virginia starting Sunday until Thursday. This is the first time he's had to go out of town for work since H. was born.

So on Saturday, I was scrambling to at least get the laundry started before H. and I left for the mini-Etown reunion in West Chester. The phone rang just before 9am and it was my friend W's mom, who (a) never calls me and (b) probably would never call that early if she was calling me. Ws father-in-law had a sudden heart attack on Friday and passed away. Very terrible, sad news indeed. I volunteered to let N. and my parents know as well.

H. and I were late leaving, the weather was unbelievably crappy (buckets and buckets of rain) and we got lost when we were about 5 minutes from my friend D's house, so we ended up being about a half hour late. But the get-together was wonderful. D. had done quite a bit of remodeling on her house since the last time we were there, we had a great lunch and got to see her business, too, which is just a few minutes down the road. And H. and her daughter got to play together for awhile, which they hadn't done since they were both very little. The monsoon-like rains continued for the drive home, too.

Sunday was a blur of laundry, shopping and spending time with M. before he left. As of right now, H. seems to be handling his absence fairly well, although she was a little clingy when I dropped her off this morning. Tomorrow, I have my follow-up urologist's appointment, then H. is going to stay with my mom while N. and I go to the viewing for W's FIL. My third funeral in four weeks. I hope this is it for awhile - I don't think I can handle another one. We're driving back and forth to Ocean City all in the same day, so it's going to be a long day.

Monday, April 17, 2006

What About Brian?

I watched “What About Brian” last night, since it took Grey’s Anatomy’s time slot (I guess they’re saving all of the new episodes for sweeps in May, since it looks like next week’s episode is a recap ep and not really new). I haven’t decided if I like it or not yet. Maybe I’ll watch tonight’s episode, if I can stay awake, before deciding. It had a very “Singles” feel to it, which I liked, but it was also very “L.A.,” which was somewhat of a turnoff. The whole story line about the couple with kids who never has sex – that’s such a cliché (although they did have three (!) kids who all seemed to be pretty little). And then the suggestion that they each sleep with other people to spice up their own love life – that was the part that seemed very “L.A./they only do that in California” type of thing. The guy from Legally Blonde wasn’t a very likable character so far (yeah right, a young Harrison Ford) and Rosanna Arquette just seems way too old for the role she’s playing (she’ll be 47 later this year in “real life”). I’ll give the show one more chance tonight before I decide whether or not to add it to the TV rotation.

Holiday Weekend

Even with the day off on Friday, it was a jam-packed holiday weekend. I cleaned for most of the morning on Friday, and then H. and I went to the grocery store, ate lunch and dyed Easter eggs. She was really good at it this year; a little rough with some of the eggs, but only one broke. She could really balance the egg on the dipper and get it in and out of the cup. Friday night, H. went to her friend J’s for a couple of hours so M. and I could go the viewing and funeral for my sister’s father-in-law. Back to the same funeral parlor we were at two weeks ago!

Saturday was another day of cooking, laundry and playing outside, since it was so beautiful, except for a very short shower in the early afternoon. J. came over to our house to play for a little while in the evening and the two of them were all over the place – four-wheeler, bicycles, swing set, tag and hide-and-seek. On Saturday night, we had Domino’s pizza for dinner. It was so delicious! And worth driving 15 minutes to pick it up. We were gluttonously bad when we had dessert before dinner, stopping for ice cream first, since H. had been asking for some since Thursday, and then eating our pizza.

I cooked a little more Saturday night after H. went to bed and then had to play Easter bunny. H’s basket was light on candy and heavy on little gifts this year. Of course, the Easter bunny made a basket for M. and me, too.

H. slept until seven Easter morning, which was great. She came into our room and said, “I think the Easter Bunny came last night.” She was very patient while I got the camera and video camera ready. Here she is waiting for me to give the all-clear signal. She enjoyed two Peeps at 7am, her first of many on Sunday, and then searched for the twenty Easter eggs I had hidden in the living room.

My sister J. and T. came early to help hide more eggs out in the backyard for a big Easter egg hunt for nieces K&K and H. H. helped Aunt J. put the prizes in the eggs. Everyone arrived on time at 2pm, except for my one aunt, who didn’t show up until 2:30, and the kids were dying of anticipation to look for the eggs. We were so lucky with the weather this year, finally.

I was exhausted by the time everyone left around 6pm. H. passed out on the couch shortly thereafter. I let her sleep while I cleaned up, and then woke her up to get ready for bed. Since she went to sleep early, I saw most of The West Wing, but taped it, too, so I can watch the whole thing without interruption.

Note: Once again, Blogger sucks. It won't upload my photos because the server is clogged. Hopefully, I can add the photos to this entry shortly.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Killing Time Before My Day Off Tomorrow

I think this sounds likes a cool idea. I’m sure it will take off now that it’s been profiled in the NY Times.

I hope this doesn’t ruin NASCAR the way corporate excess has ruined some of the experience at Camden Yards (and other ballparks, too, I’m sure).

Good for them! And Mark Tooley – what a tool.

"Politically Uncorrect." Try "Grammatically Incorrect." If it’s meant to be ironic, it’s not. It’s just annoying and I can’t even listen to it.

We recently had the Hallmark Channel added to our cable system. They might as well call it the sappy Western channel because every time I turn it on, they’re either running episodes of Little House on the Prairie or one of those movies with Izzy from Grey’s Anatomy, Love’s Enduring Promise Comes Softly or something like that (which are directed by Michael Landon, Jr., so you see the connection).

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Easter Egg Hunt

My work had its annual children's Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday. It was originally scheduled for Saturday, but it poured down (some much needed) rain all day here, so it was rescheduled for Sunday. K&K were supposed to go with us, but they couldn't make it on Sunday.

H. looked so cute in the outfit I dressed her in for the occasion that I had to take her picture before she got all dirty. Here she is hamming it up for Easter (ha, ha).

The weather was a little bit chilly and breezy, but sunny. And the ground wasn't muddy at all, considering how much rain we had the day before. The two and three year-olds had their eggs on the mulch at the playground.

After H's age group was finished, she played on the jungle gym for a little while and climbed this very high and very steep ladder.

By Easter, she should be an expert on finding Easter eggs. She's having an Easter egg hunt at pre-school on Thursday and then we'll have a big hunt in the backyard for all of the kids on Sunday (if the weather cooperates).

edited: I have been trying to post this entry for two days. The first time, I had it all ready to go on Wednesday morning, when the Blogger connect died. When I finally reconnected, the pictures wouldn't load, so I just saved it as a draft. I got the pictures to load on Thursday, but then Blogger was down ALL DAY, from before lunch until 5pm.

Loose Ends

I've heard back from two of my three references so far and they both promised to complete the recommendation form this week. My NDM interview is scheduled for the afternoon of Monday, May 8th, which seems really far away, but I'm already thinking of some portfolio-type materials I can pull together for the interview, such as my sample lesson plan from the American Lit class I took last spring and some items I used for Junior Achievement.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Lucky Me

Luckily, this is not the surgery I had for my kidney stone. But lucky me, I'm in the 5% of the female population under the age of 70 that has had a kidney stone.

Friday, April 07, 2006

One More Step Forward

Yesterday in the mail, I received a letter from NDM with the next steps for completing my application package. I need to submit three letters of recommendation and also schedule an admissions interview.

Coming up with three recommendations is hard because I can't ask anyone I currently work with, since they don't know I'm working toward changing careers. So I just sent out three e-mails - one to a former co-worker from my previous job (who also happens to be entering the teaching profession herself), one to an English professor I had at UMUC last Spring, and one to the teacher whose class I taught Junior Achievement to in 2002 and 2003. Hopefully, all of them will be willing to complete the form and that will be my three.

This afternooon, I'll call to schedule the interview.

Defeated Again

Well, I managed to stay healthy for what, two and half weeks? I now have a killer cold. I was trying to fight it off all week with Zicam, but it caught up with me last night. I felt achy and stuffy last night and then I woke up at 4:30am with an unbelievable headache. I blame it on two things. One, a girl at work who came in last Wednesday with the flu - not just a cold, the fullblown flu- and probably contaminated all of us. And two, the priest at the funeral on Wednesday who was blowing and wiping his nose through the whole service. I knew I shouldn't have taken communion from him! I wouldn't be surprised if everyone who was at the funeral and took communion gets sick. And we all shook hands with him afterwards, too!

Now I'm just as guilty as the girl from work because I'm in the office today. I would have stayed home, but my boss is in today and he's been out of the office since last Thursday and he's out again next Monday through Wednesday. Plus, I have a newspaper deadline I need to meet today, so I really needed to be here. I need to go to the pharmacy at lunch today for more Zicam and special cold medicine for people with high blood pressure.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


What an awesome game last night! Way better than the last three games in the men's tournament. Take that, Peter King (see item 10a).

Monday, April 03, 2006


This past weekend turned out to be a pretty busy one. Friday after work, H. and I were visiting our neighbors who have a little girl the same age, J. When it was time to go home for dinner, they didn't want to be separated, so they suggested H. spend the night, if we thought she would stay. H. was all for it! So we went home to eat dinner and packed an overnight bag and went back. H. stayed the whole night and didn't even wake up during the night (although she was up at her usual early time Saturday morning). J's mom said they were up kind of late, giggling like teenagers. It took them awhile to settle down and get over the novelty of the situation before they finally fell asleep.

M. and I had the whole evening to ourselves and most of Saturday morning, too. By the time I went to pick H. up, I had three loads of laundry done, had made all of the beds, swept the kitchen floor and cleaned the inside of the van. H. and J. still didn't want to be separated, so the four of us all went to the dollar store for Easter dinner paper products, among other things, and lunch at Chick-fil-A. With a promise that they could play together after they both took a nap, we finally tore them apart (you wouldn't think that they see each other every day at pre-school). The sleepover must have worn H. out because she took an almost four-hour nap, waking up just in time for dinner. Then J. came over to our house for a little while to give her mom a bit of a break for the day. We'll have to try having J. spend the night at our house one weekend.

I watched The Wedding Date while M. watched drag racing Saturday night and it was quite awful. I thought it would be a good chick flick to watch by myself, but I'm not even sure why I finished watching it (because I paid to rent it, I felt like I had to watch the whole thing). It was like large chunks of the movie were missing. I couldn't follow how they made the connection from one scene to the next. And it was short - barely an hour and a half, so there was definitely time for more character development or involvement. Not recommended at all. Serendipity, which I watched earlier on TNT while H. was napping and had never seen before, was much better.

On Sunday, H. and I went to my parents' house and spent most of the day shopping - Target for Easter candy, Kohl's for Easter decorations and a new pair of tennis shoes (or sneakers, as they say here in PA) for me (I bought a pair of Skechers - I feel so cool!) and the jewelry to store to get my engagement and weddings rings repaired (which I should have back by this weekend - I feel naked without them). We didn't get home until almost 8pm and I had to rush to set the VCR for The West Wing, which I'll have to watch later this week, but I don't know when.

Today, it's off to the library after work and pre-school, and then the next few days will be a little hectic. My mom's uncle died on Saturday, so the viewing will be Tuesday night down in Baltimore, then I'll probably go back for the funeral during the day on Wednesday.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Where Things Stand Now

So here's where I am on the road to my new adventure. Because my bachelor's degree is in Communications, I needed 9 additional credits to meet the Maryland state requirements for teaching English (luckily, I had taken a lot of English classes as electives in college). So in the Spring and Fall of 2005, I took four online classes with UMUC, which I loved, to bring myself up to code, so to speak. I even voluntarily took a math class in case I decide to teach in PA some day. (Maryland only requires 3 credits of undergraduate math to teach at the intermediate level; PA requires 6.)

After completing these classes, my original plan was to enroll in UMUC's Resident Teacher Certification program this Spring. Two other requirements for this program were to take and pass both the PRAXIS I and PRAXIS II exams. I took both last year and passed (I was sweating bullets on the math section of the PRAXIS I), even earning a certification of excellence from ETS for my score on the PRAXIS II in the English content area (props to me!). I sent in my application for the RTC program, but much to my disappointment, this year they changed how the program was organized and there was no way I could work it into my schedule. Previously, you enrolled in online certification classes for the Spring, culminating in two weeks of student teaching. You could then begin teaching in the fall as a fully paid teacher, but the teaching experience was a mentored, supervised experience. And this experience could take place in one of several counties in MD or in Baltimore City. After the year-long teaching assignment, you would be certified, However, the new program eliminated the two weeks of student teaching and now the supervised year of teaching only takes place in Prince George's County. Living in southern PA, I just couldn't commit to driving to PG County every day for a year.

So this Spring semester was a lost semester. I applied to the teacher certification program at Loyola College and was recently accepted. I have also sent in an application to the College of Notre Dame's Accelerated Certification for Teaching (ACT) program and I'm waiting to hear about my acceptance there before I make my decision where to enroll. With both programs, I can start taking classes this summer. I think I will be able to complete the Notre Dame program more quickly. ND offers two summer sessions instead of one, so I could complete six credits out of 21 before the fall semester starts. Also, ND only requires one semester of student teaching. Loyola's program is more credits and requires one semester of observations one day a week and then a whole semeseter of student teaching (I need to keep working my regular job for as long as possible before I make the transition to teaching - and a lower salary). Believe me, I created a whole chart comparing the two programs! And both programs offer the opportunity to put the certification credits toward a master's degree, which is another long-term goal.

So between now and May, I'm just in a holding pattern, waiting to hear from Notre Dame before registering for classes in one of the two programs. But I'm very anxious to begin!

Thoughts on a Friday Afternoon

  • I can upload photos to my blog from work now. I didn’t used to be able to do that because of our firewall. I’ve probably been able to do it since Blogger reconfigured how you upload photos, but I never bothered trying until I had that photo of H. to post. A new way to procrastinate!
  • Do you think it’s strange that there are three different commercials airing right now using three different songs by the Go-Go’s ("Vacation" for Priceline, "Head Over Heels" for Pantene and "We've Got the Beat" for Papa John's pizza)? And just for the record, changing the lyrics to “We’ve got the meat” for Papa John’s is totally disgusting.
  • I’m very excited about the release of the new Dixie Chicks CD on 5/23.
  • As of this moment in time, I am completely caught up on scrapbooking – from H’s birth to the present. Let me enjoy it while I can; it won’t last long. (Not to mention all of the photo projects from the past that I have in mind.)
  • Spring happened yesterday. It wasn’t just the nice weather (finally!), but trees that weren’t blooming yesterday morning were starting to bloom and color by the time I drove home in the evening. Although we also desperately need some rain around these parts. That would really make things start to green up.
  • I’m hosting Easter this year and I think I’ll have to get the Peeps paper plates and napkins that I saw at Walmart the other day. Apparently, there are quite a few Peeps novelty items on the shelves this Easter. I’ll have to check out Target, too, this weekend.
  • To add to the Chick-fil-A, Starbucks and Home Depot that recently opened here in small-town America, we now have a Rita's, which opened last week, and a Domino's, opening this weekend. It will be interesting to see how the Domino's fairs. All of the pizza places around here are local places, with the exception of Pizza Hut, and don't deliver, I guess because the houses are too spread out to make it economical (and it would be a stretch to do it in 30 minutes or less). With all the new buildings and housing developments, it should work in the area around Domino's now.

Monday, March 27, 2006

A New Adventure

I've decided to to chronicle the newest phase in my life here (instead of in an originally planned separate blog) - my mid-life crisis. Actually, I'm contemplating a career change, one that has a huge online journal presence, and I wanted to join in. Last year, I began working toward becoming certified to teach high school English. I'm doing this for both selfish (holidays and summer vacation) and unselfish (a naive ambition to make the world a better place) reasons, but the more I think about and the closer I move toward the end goal, the more I know this is what I really want to do, even though a lot of people think I'm crazy.

I'm still in the very beginning stages of the process and it's slow going at times, but things should pick up speed this summer and I want to be able to document all of it. So come along for the adventure!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Celebrity Look-Alike?

My sisters and my mom keep telling me they think H. looks like the young actress, Sofia Vassilieva, who plays Eloise in the TV movies. (Now older, this is the same girl who plays the daughter Ariel on Medium.) I just don't see it - Sofia has brown eyes and H. has blue, and H's lips definitely aren't that full (although she does have full lips, and I don't know where she got those from!). What do you think?


Sofia, aka Eloise

And no, I did not stage this photo. When I saw that picture of Sofia on, it made me immediately think of a very similar picture that I took of H. at the end of last summer. It's just a coincidence that they're both wearing orange, posed under a tree with purple flowers.


The above headline is a note to myself, a reminder not to give in to any more books in the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell. I swore up and down the last time, after Blow Fly, that I wouldn't read them anymore, but on my last visit to the library, the latest in the series, Predator, was on the New Books shelf, so I checked it out along with Trace, the prior book in the series and one I had avoided reading. Well, I should have left both of them there. It's really sad how far downhill this series has gone. All of the main characters are completely unbearable, especially Pete Marino. Back when I used to read the new ones as soon as they came out, there was usually atleast a year lull in between books. Reading these two back to back was worse. In Trace, Lucy's company The Last Precinct is still up and running and her right-hand man, Rudy, is a main character and the only person Lucy trusts. In Predator, there's no mention of The Last Precinct or Rudy; instead, Lucy and Kay are running a National Forensics Laboratory that the local police in Florida are just all too happy to have butt in and do all of their crime scene work. Completely unbelievable and inconsistent!

The dialogue in both books is stilted and repetitive. Lucy, Pete and Kay live in a cocoon where everyone around them is evil and against them and out to get them. The way they treat other characters in the book, even the good guys (see Pete and Reba's relationship in Predator), is pretentious and induced eye-rolling from me on several occasions. And I can do without all of the descriptive text about how many expensive cars, motorcycles and other "toys" they all own. Again, pretentious.

So let's move on to some much better books I've read since then. Starting From Square Two is the second novel from Caren Lissner, author of Carrie Pilby, which I read back in 2004. I don't know why it took me so long to read this one, I guess because I needed to request it as an ILL from the library, but I finally did and breezed through it on Tuesday and Wednesday (it was the book I took with me to the hospital). If you're not reading Caren's blog, Addled Writer, you should be.

I also discovered a new author this week, thanks to a comment in an online chat Jennifer Weiner posted. Sarah Dessen is a YA author based in North Carolina and I just finished Keeping the Moon, which I read in about two hours yesterday. She also has an online journal and website, so check her out. I like her, even if she is a Tarheel fan. As part of my renewed interest in the YA genre, I plan to spend the next few weeks devouring her other five books (my library branch has all of them but one, which I'll have to get through ILL), maybe even before her new one comes out some time in April.

Also, right before I lost myself in the insane world of Dr. Scarpetta and friends, I read Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. If Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird is one of your favorite characters in literature (as she is for me), then go read this book. You'll love Swede as much as you love Scout.

That brings me up to 17 books read so far in 2006.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Back to Normal

Almost. I'm officially stone-free. I had my surgery yesterday and it went very well. They put me to sleep around 10am, I was awake by 11am and home by 1pm. They showed me the stone and I'm really glad I didn't have to pass it. It was larger than they thought it was. And FYI, kidney stones don't look like small, little round pebbles or stones. They look more like rock candy, sharp edges and all! Once I was home, I ate some lunch, took a two-hour nap and then pretty much felt as good as new. I didn't even stay home from work today. So hopefully we can get back to business as usual around here instead of this turning into a sick journal!

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Back to the doctor yesterday for another x-ray and consultation. The stone is still there and has moved some, but still has to move some more to get into my bladder. Since I'm young and healthy, the doctor would prefer that I pass the stone, but since he could sense my high level of frustration, I'm now on the surgery schedule for Tuesday, March 21, which seems really far away, but atleast there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

Monday, March 13, 2006

And This Too Shall Pass

No news to report. Still trying to flush out the plumbing. I saw the urologist at 11:30am on Friday (actually, that was my appointment, time, but I didn't see the doctor until almost 12:30pm) and he wanted me to try and pass the stone over the weekend. I didn't. (It was a long weekend.) Now I'm waiting for his office to call me back to see what the next step is.

I lost my patience with this whole thing in the middle of watching Grey's Anatomy last night (that's what I get for watching a medical show in my condition). It may be similar to labor, but I was only in labor for six hours, not a week plus!

Also, for the record, if you picture Ben Stiller in about 20 years with a head full of gray/white hair, that was my urologist, both in looks and personality. Seriously.

Friday, March 10, 2006

I'm Very Thankful That I Have Health Insurance

I realize there are people out there with a lot more serious health problems than me, but I would really like to make it through a whole month feeling healthy. Is that too much to ask? As I write this, I am in the process of passing, or not passing as the case may be, a very large kidney stone. I'm waiting for a phone call from my doctor about an appointment to see a urologist some time today. All week, I thought I was fighting off a urinary tract infection, but when I didn't feel any better by yesterday, I called the doctor back and she saw me in the afternoon, then immediately sent me to the hospital for a CT scan. I had to wait for the results and the doctor's exact words were, "You do have a kidney stone, a very large one, probably too large to pass." My options were to check myself into the ER or wait until today to see the urologist. I wasn't in excrutiating pain, so I opted to wait for the appointment today instead of spending god knows how many hours waiting in the ER last night. So I'm at work, not feeling that bad, just waiting for the phone to ring. I don't have any meetings today except for one at 1:30 that I'm supposed to chair. I can pretty much guarantee that my appointment will be at 1:00 or 1:30. But I've already made back-up plans if I need to leave.

I think I get to blame genetics, atleast partially, for this one, too. My younger sister Vanessa has had kidney stones since we were in high school and she gets about one a year. My older sister Jenn had one several years ago, but that was her one and only so far. I'm hoping my experience is more like Jenn's. And I'm trying to look on the positive side - I went through natural childbirth, surely I can handle this, right? Logically speaking, it's the same concept of a big thing being pushed through a much smaller hole. I'll just keep telling myself that, especially since Vanessa told me that passing a kidney stone can be worse than childbirth.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Right Place, Right Time

Friday night, I finished reading Forests of the Night by James W. Hall. I have never read any of his books and picked this one up because it takes place in the Great Smoky Mountains. Well, actually, it mostly takes place in Cherokee, NC, which borders the Park, but close enough I guess. I've always wanted to visit the Native American village in Cherokee and see the famous play, Unto These Hills, but we've never been able to squeeze that in on any of our trips to the Smokies. Anyhoo, the book was okay, but didn't make me want to rush back to the library and pick up one of his others. The beginning was very rushed and didn't really give me enough time to care about the characters. The second half was better, but the backstory that helps to solve the mystery was a little convoluted.

The one cool thing was that several times throughout the book, the main character references the old movie "Mildred Pierce," an Oscar winner from 1945 starring Joan Crawford. To be honest, I had never heard of or seen this movie. So after finishing this book Friday night, on Sunday afternoon I was flipping through the channels and lo and behold, "Mildred Pierce" was on TCM as part of their "31 Days of Oscar." So I watched it, since it was a somewhat central part of the book I had just finished. What great timing! I missed the first 10 minutes or so, but it wasn't a bad murder mystery. A little predictable, but enjoyable, with a strong female lead surrounded by a bunch of loser men. (Side bar: Throughout the entire movie, the woman playing the character of Ida looked really familiar, but I couldn't figure out who she was. Turns out, it was a very young Eve Arden, Miss McGee from Grease.) Even better, it was followed by "Gone With the Wind" in all it's uncut, commercial-free glory and I was able to watch a fairly good chunk of it throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening.

Friday, February 24, 2006

It's Official

I'm old. Barely a month after my 34th birthday, there's no denying it. As of today, I start taking medication for my high blood pressure. Like my dad, who started taking it in his early thirties as well, I'll probably have to take it for the rest of my life. I went to the ob/gyn on Tuesday and at 9 o'clock in the morning, my BP was a whopping 164/96, the highest reading yet. I haven't done so great in the exercise department, but I really had been watching what I eat, especially salt, and even lost 7 lbs. since my last doctor's visit in September. So the ob/gyn recommended I see my primary care physician as soon as possible and I was able to get an appointment this morning. I have to go back in a month to see if it's working and if we have to adjust the dosage, etc. My theory is that the last couple of years were a great crashing together of baby weight, slowing metabolism and genetics, not to mention my couch potato lifestyle. It took awhile, but it's finally hit home that it's time to get off my bum and help this along a little bit more. No more excuses!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Snow Day

Like most of the Northeast, we were hit with quite a storm last night. I think we got about 12 inches; it's hard to tell with all of the drifts. H. was very excited about the snow. I don't remember getting a really good weekend snow last winter, one that she could really enjoy, but she was up at 6:30am and wanted to go outside. I managed to hold her off until about 10:30am, when we finally went outside. We tried to build a snowman, but the snow conditions weren't right. The layer on top was too soft and powdery. Then we walked up the street, before it was plowed (it was quite a hike up the hill) to play with J. The two of them sledded down the little hill in J's yard. I even went down it a couple of times, too. The plow finally came down our street around noon and they did a great job. We walked back home for lunch and a nap - both of us!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

It's Snowing

Snowflakes are falling outside, beef stew is cooking in the crockpot, H. is taking a nap and I'm scrapbooking. Just about the perfect day.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Book Reviews

A few thoughts on some books I’ve read so far in 2006:
  • Last Lullaby by Denise Hamilton – third in the Eve Diamond series. I started off 2005 with the first novel in this series, so I guess I can’t go wrong by starting 2006 the same way. I enjoy these novels because I learn something new every time I read one of them. Coincidentally, Jenny was reading The Jasmine Trade at the same time and did not care for it and ironically, the same situation cropped up in another book that I just read, Buried Diamonds. This is the fourth book in the Claire Montrose series, more of a cozy mystery series than I usually read. I read the third one way back in 2002 and I guess my tastes haves changed because I found this book very slow and boring. There was a horrible transition from a scene at the end of the chapter with a dog getting poisoned and taken to the animal hospital in the afternoon and the next chapter beginning in the middle of the next night with someone getting shot. I actually went back and read it twice because I thought I missed something and even checked the page numbers to make sure pages hadn’t been torn out. Not only was the transition poor, but to voice the same complaint as Jenny, you didn’t hear a thing about the poor dog for the rest of the book.
  • The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd. This is the follow-up to the much-loved The Secret Life of Bees. Eliza hated this novel, which surprised me. It wasn’t as good as Bees, but I didn’t hate it. It was very much up my alley of loving any kind of Southern women’s fiction, along the lines of Anne Rivers Siddons, one of my favorites.
  • Crosscut by Meg Gardiner, the fourth in the Evan Delaney series. I love, love, love this series, even though it’s a little over the top in some instances. Evan is a strong heroine and I love the relationship between her and Jesse. I’ve had to buy all of these books from since they aren’t available through any of the local libraries, but they are well worth it.
  • The Rosary Girls by Richard Montanari. This serial killer novel set in Philadelphia had a surprise ending that really threw me, which doesn’t happen often. Overall, a very engrossing book, but with a few holes. I’m not really sure why the author introduced the side story of how the main female character was an amateur boxer on the side, other than to let the reader know that she’s a strong character. After a boxing match at the very beginning of the book, it’s never brought up again. Also, a major secret about the main male character is resolved much too easily and didn’t sit too well with this reader.
  • Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty. I haven’t read a YA novel in ages, but this one was recommended on Joshilyn Jackson’s website and sounded interesting. I breezed through it in about three hours yesterday. It’s written as a diary by high school sophomore Jessica Darling, interspersed with letters to her best friend, who moved to another state at the beginning of the year. Jessica has a great voice and the dialogue rings very true. My only one small complaint is that if I hadn’t known there was as sequel to this book, I would have been disappointed by the ending. Otherwise, I liked it so much that I put in a request this morning for an ILL so I can get the sequel, Second Helpings, as soon as possible.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Music to My Ears

The summer concert schedule is starting to heat up. It was announced this week that Brad Paisley is coming to the York Fair in September. I may have to move Hayley’s birthday party up a week, but I’m getting my tickets this Saturday.

Faith Hill and Tim McGraw will open their new Soul2SoulII tour April 21 in Columbus, Ohio. Only a few dates have been scheduled so far, but the tour is sponsored by Hershey’s, so I would expect a date at Hershey Stadium or the Giant Center (hopefully the Giant Center, since it rains everytime I go to a concert held in the stadium).

Monday, January 30, 2006

On the Road Again

I drove over 500 miles this weekend! I took a half-day off from work on Friday to drive to S’s and we went into Philly to see the George Strait concert, with opening acts Miranda Lambert and Tracy Lawrence. The show was awesome and our seats were excellent! George Strait was on stage for just about two hours; he could have sung for hours more as far as I'm concerned. We hadn't seen Tracy Lawrence in concert for ages and he was still as good as ever.

I spent the night at S’s and drove home Saturday morning, getting home around 2pm. I didn’t have time to stop and check out the new Cereality on the PA Turnpike, but I definitely will the next time. I was home long enough to go to the grocery store, then I had to get cleaned up and M. and I went to my work’s holiday party. We weren’t going to go this year since I already knew how busy I was this weekend, but with the fire and everything, I thought it would be a good idea to go. We actually had a good time and stayed until about 9:30. H. spent the night at my mom and dad’s, so it was strange being in the house without her Saturday night.

I was up bright and early Sunday morning to drive halfway back to Philly for my college friend D’s baby shower in West Chester. The shower was a very nice event and she received a ton of cute little boy clothes. My thoughts will be with her all day on Wednesday when she’s induced. I made it back home around 3:30pm, just a few minutes after my parents and K&K had arrived with H.. I missed her so much! I hadn’t seen her since I dropped her off at school Friday morning. Everyone stayed for dinner, which I threw in the crockpot before I left for the shower – perfect!

I haven’t done this much driving in a long time. I had lots of thinking time, listened to some CDs I hadn’t listened to in awhile (including all George Strait and Tracy Lawrence on the way to Philly on Friday to get me in the mood) and also came up with a cool idea for a new scrapbook. I need to flesh it out a little bit more, then I’ll share.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

TV Shows on DVD

One of my wishes came true - the first season of "Life Goes On" is coming out on DVD in May. That would make a good Mother's Day present! I'm also happy to see the first season of "Grounded for Life" as well as "Charles in Charge" (shut up!) are forthcoming. But please tell me why Lifetime is putting out DVDs of "Strong Medicine" and "1-800-MISSING" when they haven't done anything with the much-better series "Any Day Now?"

Monday, January 23, 2006

There and Back

I feel like Lois Lane at the end of Superman II, after Superman has erased her memory and she sits down at her typewriter and says, “What’s happening in the world?” The new year is off to quite a start and I don’t even know where to begin.

I came back to work on the third, after eleven glorious days off over the holidays. A short week was even shorter since I took a half-day on Friday the sixth so N. and W. and I could go the annual weekend-long scrapbooking event in Gettysburg. We had a great time again this year, our second year. N. stayed up all night the first night and I think W. stayed up until 4am both nights. I only made it until about 1am both nights, but I accomplished a lot, getting halfway through my 2005 family album (January through the beginning of July). This time last year, I was finishing H's first-year album. Since then, I've completed my 2004 family album and an album of our honeymoon.

Being away for the weekend throws off the whole schedule and I was planning on catching up as the week went on. My birthday was on Monday the 9th and we celebrated with cupcakes that H. picked out at the grocery store. Then on Tuesday, everything changed. Just before lunch, there was a small explosion at work and we all had to evacuate for a couple of hours. It wasn’t very serious – the sprinkler system extinguished the fire before the fire department even arrived – but we spent the rest of the day following up on the incident.

We skipped tumbling class that night since I left work later than usual. Around 9pm, M. was out in the garage and heard an announcement about an explosion at work. That couldn’t be right; they must have been talking about the incident from the morning. And there was nothing on any of the TV stations. He heard it again while I was trying to find out more information, but I didn’t believe him. Finally, I called the fire department and they confirmed there was a second explosion, much worse than the first. So I spent the rest of the night on the phone until the 10 o’clock news, when I saw the first pictures of the fire. Based solely on those pictures, I thought there would be nothing left. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep very well Tuesday night.

I talked to my manager on Wednesday morning and went in to work at 10am to a satellite office we had established down the road. Amazingly, no one was injured in the fire and damage was contained to a small area, only about 5% of the entire facility. The next few days are a blur of crisis communications plan implementation. I worked until 8pm on both the Thursday and Friday after the fire and went in for a little while on Sunday, too, writing press releases and updating our corporate website. I had to call my mom and have her come over on Saturday to help me because I was feeling so overwhelmed. I was behind after the weekend away and now I was really behind. She helped me get our very dry, fire-hazard of a Christmas tree down and I was able to catch up on the laundry, too, plus put the rest of the Christmas decorations away. Last week was a little better, although we couldn’t return to our offices until Thursday and we still have to carpool from a satellite lot for a little while longer. I also had to go to a funeral viewing on Tuesday for the mother of a friend of my mom’s, which messed up the tumbling schedule again, so we did tumbling on Monday and Thursday to make up for the two missed days.

By this Saturday, I was completely wiped out and I think my body was trying to tell me that. I spent all day yesterday on the couch with a fever of 102 and could barely move. There was nothing else wrong – no stuffy nose or sore throat. I think it was just sheer exhaustion. I felt completely back to normal this morning. So now I’m back and ready to resume regularly scheduled blogging. I have a book entry I need to post about my first two reads in 2006 and some outdated pictures from the holidays, plus this weekend will be a busy one with a concert, work party and baby shower - all in less than 48 hours!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


M. was home sick today. When H. woke up this morning, she went in to see him and he said, "Daddy doesn't feel good today." H. asked him, "Did you drink some liquor?"

I can only attribute this to New Year's Eve, when M. and I had a few strawberry margaritas that we made at home. We made one for H. without the alcohol, and when she wanted another one, we told her she couldn't have one with any liquor in it because it would make her sick. Two weeks later, she remembered this. I'm sure she went in to school today and said, "Daddy's home sick because he drank some liquor." I'm expecting a phone call any minute.
Fun Phrases

My new favorite phrase is "thigh girth."

Hopefully, I'll have a real entry up soon, with an update about the situation at work, plus the big scrapbooking weekend, which seems like it was a million years ago after the week I've had.

Monday, January 02, 2006

To Do List

Things I Accomplished While I Had Off Work for 11 Days:

1. Baked two batches of cookies with H. on 12/23.
2. Obviously, celebrated Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, both of which were really great this year.
3. Made cookie cutter birdseed ornaments with H. to hang outside for the birds and the squirrels on Christmas morning (much messier than it looked on the Today show).
4. Completed a scrapbook of our honeymoon (from back in 1998) on 12/28.
5. Installed an external hard drive on the computer to back-up my photos and music.
6. Installed an internal CD/DVD-ROM drive on the computer since I could no longer burn data CDs on the existing CD-ROM drive. (This required taking the computer apart to install it internally and I was actually able to do this without any problems. I was quite proud of myself.)
7. Returned H's duplicate toy gifts to Walmart.
8. Made homemade spaghetti sauce and cooked dinner for 7 on 12/29 (when we didn't get to go to Dutch Wonderland to see the Christmas lights because of all-day pouring rain).
9. Installed and loaded music on my new, free iPod Shuffle.
10. Made strawberry margaritas on New Year's Eve (after getting carded at the liquor store - ha, ha!).
11. Watched the 40th anniversary edition of The Sound of Music (the color was spectacular - I wish I had a big TV to watch it on) and the DVD of The Dukes of Hazzard movie (really, really terrible).
12. Returned ill-fitting Christmas gift clothes to Kohl's and bought new ones to replace them.
13. Hosted two play dates for H.
14. Uploaded 100+ pictures from the month of December to have prints made.
15. Watched Days of Our Lives every day but Wednesday the 28th (and had to call my sister several times to ask clarifying questions).

And honestly, I felt like I didn't do a whole lot but watch TV and lay around on the couch, playing the Disney Memory card game with H. But I guess we managed to squeeze in a few fun activities. Now it's back to work and school and the regular routine.