Sunday, December 31, 2006

So sorry, Mom - but not for when I was sick at night

It's generally not until people become parents that they truly realize the sacrifices that their parents made for them. This has specifically crossed my mind during the many hours I have spent awake when I should've been sleeping but couldn't because Kevin wasn't sleeping.

I've planned to write poignant thank-you letters to my parents but have not done so. I rationalize my laziness with figuring that I can write a letter at each of Kevin's big life changes, including starting elementary school, middle school and then high school, etc.

Last week, I came close to sitting at the computer to compose a letter of apology to my parents. I stopped myself when I realized that after all of the difficulties we've had in the past two years, it was THIS that made me apologize for my behavior as a kid rather than the "important" stuff of needing to be hugged while throwing up overnight, forcing my mother outside on cold nights when I had croup, needing to be run here, there and everywhere for gymnastics practices, meets and ballet classes, etc.

I am not ready to apologize for any of that yet, but I am ready to apologize for all of the "Grody to the max!" and "Yeah, that's the ticket!"'s that I ever said.

Because, really, I've had more "Yeah, Baby!" responses to my questions in the past 3 weeks than I can count and I've had it.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Certificate of Citizenship




Kevin and I were interrupted while mixing up Andy's birthday cake (you can see the bowl in the background) by our letter carrier at the door. He had a certified letter for Kevin Aguilera. It was his Certificate of Citizenship! He doesn't have a clue what that means but he knew I was elated to have it and he humored me by holding up the certificate and saying, "Cheese!"

He became a U.S. citizen a year ago, but it's taken this long for me to get the paperwork in and have it processed.

Kevin can use this paper and his Maryland birth certificate to accomplish any official task such as getting into school, proving his age for sports and getting a U.S. passport. Woohoo! Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 15, 2006

Ten more years, less freaking out




Ten years ago, Andy turned 30 and I thought, "Oh my heavens, I'm dating a guy who's thirty. This isn't going to work - he's too old." Yesterday, Andy turned 40 and I'm just glad that he's still able to walk without a cane.

I'm becoming all sorts of things since becoming a mother

I'm not known for my perseverance/determination/sticktuitiveness/etc. I find it much easier to stop trying than to try hard.

When I became a mom and started scheduling playdates, I thought, "Wow, this will be my chance to let Kevin play with someone else and for me to talk with another mother about how much I hate parenting!" What actually happened was that Kevin and the other kids needed some help learning how to play together. They didn't just need a referee (although they really needed that, too) but with some of his friends, they needed to know what to do besides sit and look at each other.

Playdates were supposed to be about the kids playing, and me on a date with a friend. Didn't happen. But as time went on and the other mothers and I spent a lot of energy working directly with the kids, playdates became easier and more productive regarding the kids playing and me being able to enjoy time with a friend.

This afternoon we had a babysitter come over to play with Kevin while we were here. It was to be a trial-run for having him babysit sometime so that we can go out - on a real date - and see each other without Kevin in between us or trying to talk over us so that we can't have a conversation without him (how dare we?)

I thought that G and Kevin would laugh and play and run around together while I floated about getting all sorts of cleaning done. Alas, what actually happened was that Kevin and G needed some help learning how to play together. This was weird because G babysits other kids, so I really thought he'd be a bit more proactive. Or even reactive. Just some sort of active.

To make a very long story about the first hour he was here much shorter, I spent a lot of time worrying about what to do. HOWEVER, I didn't think to myself that this will never work. I made sure that I instead looked for ways to help it work. And as I was doing so, I was proud of myself for helping the second hour of our trial run be more about G and Kevin playing and me floating about getting all sorts of cleaning done.

This could definitely work out.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Of all the (*&*%$ing @%#*&$s

Does posting an entry saying that I want to throw a chair at one of my coworkers constitute a blatant break of the dooce rule that thou shalt not blog about work unless thou is willing to part with thine job, which I ist not?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I jinxed it!

I did it! I said my truck was dead and, lo, it is sitting, ever ugly but functional, in our driveway, waiting to cart me off to work tomorrow.

P.S. Andy is pretty handy to have around.

The end is near - I can really feel it this time

This REALLY might be it for the truck. I know I've said it before, but this is different. Up 'til now, everything wrong was either a convenience issue or an easily fixed issue. This time, a headlight is out. The problem is that when I replaced it with a new headlight, wackiness ensued.

The new light didn't come on at first. Then it came on dimly. Then it worked but the other headlight went out. Then they both worked in low mode but one was dim. The new one never worked in high beam mode but then it started to and the other one went out. This went on for awhile last night and Andy cleaned up the connections and we got them both to work in low beam mode but neither to work in high beam mode. That's not a problem, just a convenience factor. Andy never uses high beams, I almost never do because there are always too many cars around where I usually drive.

Andy called from work to say that both low beams worked but only dimly today. And, the high-beam indicator on the dash always stays on. The indicator light is no big deal. Again, a convenience factor. But driving with dim headlights? Definitely a huge safety issue.

I have other wiring problems in the truck but they aren't safety hazards on the level that this is. And we know how expensive it can be to pay someone to track down a wiring problem - and then, who knows how long the fix will last because the whole system is probably corroded to the point of being dust held together by some road grime.

Andy left work early and just got home so that he'd be able to drive in as much daylight as possible. He told me he stopped at the surplus store and bought a couple of grenades.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Her sticks are made for walking

Andy and Kevin saw a woman wearing high heels and Kevin asked, "Papa - why is she walking on sticks?"

Saturday, December 02, 2006

I became "one of them" last night

I was out shopping by myself last night and at Staples, I found something I needed to ask my mom about (because we sometimes help each other out with picking up gifts the other can't find near them.) So I realized I had my cell phone with me and I stood there, inside the fairly quiet store and called my mom. As we were talking, we decided against me getting what I was looking at but we kept talking so I walked out the store and down the sidewalk WHILE STILL ON THE PHONE. I knew I was breaking one of Dianne's Cardinal Rules of Etiquette but it was so... thrilling. And convenient.

Even though I did stop outside of Target to finish my conversation before going inside, I still would have given myself a sneering look had I been watching from outside myself.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Kevin, at the toy store

He winds his way through the toy store, looking for something on which to spend his money. He stops, his eyes widen and he says, "Oooh... is this Polly Pocket?" He picks up the box, viewing the Polly Pocket mermaid playset on sale for $9.99. He puts the box down and says, "Nah, I have enough Polly Pockets at home already."

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I'm so glad we laugh about most things

This morning we got up late for church on the day we were scheduled to subsitute for the kids' classes. Bummer.

We were asked for one of us to report to the 2nd & 3rd grade class. Bummer.

After a few minutes, the teacher determined that there were enough teachers for the few kids and she let me go into the service. Woohoo!

This afternoon, Andy set up the van to change the oil. Woohoo!

Andy found some really light oil on the grille slats and a hole in the AC compressor in front of the radiator. Bummer.

I decided to take Kevin out for the afternoon to do some birthday and Christmas shopping for Andy so that Andy could have some time alone. Woohoo!

Andy pointed out the screw stuck in the front tire of the truck. Bummer.

I decided to put on the spare and let Andy plug the busted tire when he was done changing the van's oil. Woohoo!

The spare tire only had 20 lbs of pressure in it. Bummer.

We remembered that our neighbor has an air compressor. Woohoo!

Andy removed the screw and plugged the tire while it was still on and filled both tires with the compressor. Woohoo!

I unplugged the compressor from the outlet in the truck and the cover wouldn't close. I fiddled with the door (which also covers the other outlet) for 5 minutes trying to convince myself that I could fix it but had Andy confirm that it wasn't possible. Bummer.

Andy discovered that we didn't have enough oil for the van. Bummer.

I went to the auto parts store first and got some oil for the van. Woohoo!

I asked for those rubber replacement covers for the outlets in the truck. They don't have them and suggested I try Radio Shack. Bummer.

I tried Radio Shack and they suggested I try Home Depot. What?? The outlets are still exposed on the dash. Bummer.

I returned home and started making dinner by putting water in a pot. Water shot out of the wrong end of the faucet. Bummer.

I put Andy to work on the faucet and went out to put the rest of the oil in the van. I cleaned up and Andy turned on the van to take it off the ramps. The fan on "high" made a crazy noise. We turned it up and down trying to diagnose the problem and had no clue what was going on. Bummer.

After a minute, the noise stopped. Woohoo!

I realized that Andy will be driving the van tomorrow since I'll take the truck to work. Woohoo!

We realized that we can't take the van in for service of either the possible AC problem or the new tires it desperately needs because we can't all fit in the truck to get back home. Bummer.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

From my outbox


Dear Paul & Sally,

Congratulations! You were the first inadvertent call that I made from
my cell phone because I didn't have the keyguard on. Oops! :-) It
happened this morning so if you have a message or caller-id that
confused you, it might have been my purse calling.

Dianne

Monday, November 13, 2006

Roundup

Phones
We got our phones on Thursday and when Andy was playing around with his on Friday, he unknowingly downloaded a ringtone - "The Ride of the Valkyries." Fortunately, I found out what he did before he downloaded a bunch more because he didn't realize he had to pay for it. Now he has to keep it as his ringtone because he doesn't want to waste the $2.50. I think it fits.

Tour de France
In a controversial but well-calculated move by both parties, the U.S.'s Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team signed superstar Ivan Basso for the next two years. He was the leader of Team CSC last year and he won the Giro d'Italia (a stage race like the Tour de France but in Italy) and then was sidelined days before the Tour de France because of allegations that he was involved in Operacion Puerto, the Spanish doping scandal. He was one of the favorites to win the Tour last year but never had the chance to try. Again this year, he will attempt the rare Giro d'Italia/Tour de France double-win. He's got the goods and I will be cheering him on as I was hoping to do last year.

Cars
Kevin and I watched "Cars" last night at a friend's house. It wasn't as good as I'd expected and hoped. I thought it was pretty slow and most of it I wouldn't expect a young child to understand. It was rated "G" and either I'm a prude, or that wasn't valid. My guess is that I'm a prude but, whatever. I already ordered the DVD for Kevin for Christmas but I wonder whether I would have had I waited until I'd watched it.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

One of the best pictures ever

We went camping in October with Amy and her kids. The kids got along very well over the weekend and had a lot of fun. One day they were running and racing and then decided to tackle each other. They wrestled for awhile and surprisingly, nobody got hurt. We even have proof of how much fun they had. The timing of this shot is perfect.

  Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tonight's after-dinner dinner table conversation

Kevin: Knock-knock.
Andy: Who's there?
Kevin: Boo.
Andy: Boo who?
Kevin: Aww, why are you crying? Hahahahaha. Knock-knock.
Andy: Who's there?
Kevin: Boo.
Andy: Boo who?
Kevin: Aww, why are you crying? Hahahahaha. Knock-knock.
Andy: Who's there?
Kevin: Boo.
Andy: Boo who?
Kevin: Aww, why are you crying? Hahahahaha.
Andy: [ahem] So there was a priest, a rabbi and a duck on an airplane...
Kevin: And a beast and a rabbit and a turkey.
Dianne: And the pilot said, "What is this, some kind of joke?"
Andy: No, that's not it and there was no turkey. But there was a skunk.
Kevin: Ewwww! He said skunk! There was a, uh, beast, a rabbit, an elephant, a turkey...
Dianne: Continue your joke, Andy.
Andy: I was trying to but now I can't keep track of all of the animals involved.
Kevin: There was definitely a turkey!
Andy: So, there was a priest, a rabbi, a duck and a skunk on a plane. And the duck said to the skunk, "P-U, somebody stinks."
Kevin: Ewwwww!
Andy: And the skunk said, "Yeah, but it's not me - check out the priest over there."
Kevin: [gibberish]
Dianne: Go ahead, Andy, finish your joke.
Andy: That was it.
Dianne: Ugh.
Kevin: Knock-knock!

Monday, November 06, 2006

One small step for most people, one giant leap for us

So what made us finally get cell phones? It wasn't just that we couldn't tell my parents on our way to Cape May that we'd be there late because of traffic, it wasn't just because I made a Dr. appointment over the phone with a doctor who changed practices and offices and I didn't find out until I showed up to my appointment at an empty office, it wasn't just because I needed to contact a volleyball teammate at the emergency room after a dislocated shoulder injury or that I've searched all over Laurel and part of Elkridge in the past couple of weeks for a working pay phone....

No, it was because I found out that my parents, my brother and my sister all have "pay as you go" plans with Virgin Mobile where they pay about $7 per month to use their cell phones. And they are all able to use them just a little, which is what I'd want to do with a cell phone (THIS, I will need to point out to Amy, "[Cell] Phone Queen.")

We placed our order on Friday evening and I have no idea when the phones will arrive, but I am excited to get them.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Don't tell Amy

I just ordered mobile phones for Andy and me. I'm going to surprise Amy by calling her from mine after it gets here. She has no idea we have even been thinking about getting them. Shhhh...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Chat Transcript

me: Did you see the picture I posted on my blog? Warning: severe cuteness
Elesa: ...
oh brother!
you have sunk too low in this mommy thing
this is not the real dianne!
come back, dianne, come back!
me: I know - I couldn't believe how INSANELY CUTE he was when he put that costume on. I took a bunch of pictures of him at the zoo yesterday even though I have a million of him there already. I didn't take any of the animals, just him wearing his costume.
and I'm showing off his costume picture to people I work with!!!!
Save me, Elesa
Elesa: I think it's time for an intervention!
me: Tell Jeff you need to fly over here to help me
Elesa: That's true! I fear you're too far gone, though. I wish I could introduce you to old dianne. She would help me make fun of you.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Can you tell which one is the costume?


(Yes, I know the real one is very small and far away but elephants at the zoo don't respond to, "Here, Dolly... come here, Girl... come on, Anna, you too...")

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The only dogs barking in my house are my feet - and they're loud

God designed me as a beautiful creation but he got my feet a bit mixed up. They have a lot of problems from extra bones (which don't seem to cause problems but make for interesting facial expressions by doctors the first time they see an x-ray of my feet) to weak arches to nerves running right where the most pain is felt to shorter than average tendons which don't like to stretch and are therefore inflamed most of the time.

My point isn't to get you to feel pity for me (although if you do, feel free to send a note of sympathy.) My point is to say that I wear orthotics to treat some of my problems and they cost hundreds of dollars and health insurance doesn't cover them because they are not orthotic shoes and I can transfer them from shoe to shoe (excuse me for needing them in athletic shoes, cleats AND hiking shoes - darn my active interests.) Moreover, Flexible Spending Accounts don't cover them either. Keep in mind that Tylenol and Band-Aids are now eligible for FSA coverage so that we can buy them with pre-tax money, but orthotics, which cost hundreds of dollars plus copayments for doctor visits for casting and such....

*BEEP* I interrupt this rant to bring you (and myself, more importantly) the news that orthotics appear now to BE ELIGIBLE for payment through a Flexible Spending Account. Wahoo!

*BEEP (again)* This issue is not as clear as it should be. I can't find on the IRS website any specific mention of orthotics although some employee benefit administration providers say that they are eligible.

So, um, nevermind - maybe.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A proclivity for laziness starts early in some boys

Kevin: I want to wear my sleeper to bed without underwear.
Me: You may not wear your sleeper without underwear.
Kevin: But if I want to go to the bathroom, then I'll be all ready.

We now own 2 new fire extinguishers

After all the hype, this isn't all that exciting but it is still funny (since nobody was hurt.)

We really love our new woodstove insert in our fireplace. We're still learning how well it works.

Thursday night we had a fire and on Friday after work, Andy shoveled out some of the ashes into a bucket. He put some kitchen trash on top of the ashes and left the bucket for about an hour and then dumped the contents into the compost bin. He and Kevin walked up the backyard into the shed and then as Kevin was milling around he noticed a problem and yelled, "Papa! There's fire in the compost!" Andy walked out to see 3-ft high flames above the bin. He ran inside for a fire extinguisher and put out the fire. He walked away but turned around one last time to see flames coming out the vent holes on the side of the bin so he used the extinguisher again. Then he doused the whole thing with the garden hose. The hard plastic bin was melted and is deformed with holes in it.

That was all on Friday. On Saturday, Andy and Kevin went to the local firehouse's Open House where Kevin learned all about fire safety and fortunately didn't tell the firefighters about the fire the previous day.

I finished reading Life of Pi

My last post was so mysterious that I thought the comments you all would leave would fill up my gmail inbox (get it? gmail inbox? which is so large it's theoretically limitless? haha?) Anyway, no comments. Perhaps nobody wants to hear what happened.

Anyway... if you have read Life of Pi and would be willing to discuss it with me, please let me know. I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it yet but I'd LOVE to talk to (or email) someone about it. Thanks.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Email from home

I was away this weekend, scrapbooking with friends. This morning, I borrowed Kirsten's laptop and read this email message:

Hi mama!

I hope you are having a good time. Papa is taking good care of me.
Papa says that he hopes you are having a good time also.
kevin313-808593179317. You guys have to get a new compost bin but
don't worry Papa has already bought a new fire extinguisher. I miss
you and papa says he misses you too. See you tomorrow.

Love,
Us

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Happy Two-Year Anniversary

Dear Kevin,

Tomorrow marks the two-year anniversary of you joining our family and of us joining yours. Usually when I note some sort of appropriately significant amount of time since we met you, I spend more time thinking about what it was like at the beginning. This year, I’m ready to tell you more about who you are now.

1. You are charming to those people that you allow to see some of the real you.
2. You dance like there may be no music left tomorrow.
3. You love to look at books and have them read to you. Lately you have a strong interest in learning to read.
4. You love role-playing, whether with toys or other people.
5. Your feet are more coordinated with a ball than your hands are.
6. You love swimming lessons.
7. You can turn off the TV and the video player by yourself.
8. You enjoy watching Leapfrog videos, Thomas the Tank Engine, Blue’s Clues, Kipper and Berenstain Bears.
9. Your favorite books are Berenstain Bears stories and you like to pick out stacks of dinosaur books from the non-fiction section of the library.
10. You are testing the waters of telling lies, particularly when we ask if you did something wrong.
11. You are learning to play independently and that is usually with little people or other toy figures.
12. You have a grand time playing energetic and rough-house type games with your cousin, Julia.
13. You don’t like most people touching you, especially younger kids.
14. Your favorite part of preschool is Show ‘n Tell on Fridays.
15. Your imagination is off the charts.
16. You take good care of Alyssa, watching out for her.
17. You use words like "actually" and "similar."
18. You’ve learned to ask Papa, "Are you joking?" instead of immediately crying when he tells you something you don’t want to hear.
19. You know that you like the taste of orange medicine but not always the red kind.
20. You like to help in the kitchen, particularly with measuring and mixing ingredients.
21. Your tastebuds have become more refined and pizza is still your favorite food.
22. You eat all of your vegetables when your teachers at preschool tell you to.
23. You would like to drink “Sprite soda” all day but you are happy enough with milk when I say no to soda (which is 99% of the time.)
24. You have figured out how to solve the cases of Freddi Fish and Putt Putt on your computer.
25. You have a tendency to tell us you can’t do something because you’re too lazy to try or because you tried once and it didn’t immediately work.
26. Your manners are impeccable for a 4-yr old.
27. You rarely have to go to timeout.
28. You delight in making us proud of you.
29. You work hard to make me laugh.
30. You are afraid of dogs, although you sometimes try taking steps to get past that.

Know that no matter what I’ve left off the list, you are an incredible person and I can now see past myself to want the best for you and to enjoy seeing you as my child.

Love,
Mama

Uncharted territories

This afternoon, Kevin watched TV while Andy and I took a nap. We're great parents, aren't we? After the video was over, Kevin asked me to read some books to him. When I leaned over to sit next to him on the couch, I noticed his brand new pants were ripped. Some thoughts ran through my head:

1. I wonder what happened?
2. This is the first time he's worn those pants!
3. Maybe he got pinched and is hurt?

I asked him how it happened and if his leg was ok. He looked up at me strangely - I couldn't read the look on his face. He didn't say he was hurt but he didn't really answer my question. Then I noticed that his shirt was ripped, also. His pants had a small, neat "V" cut in the thigh area and his shirt had a 4-inch long jagged tear.

I couldn't help but crack up laughing when I realized that he'd done this to himself with his scissors. He was pretty upset at my laughter but I couldn't hold it in. He was really afraid of getting into trouble so I told him that he wouldn't this time but that we had to go show Papa. He was vehemently opposed to that because he didn't want to get into trouble. This is also new territory for him - wanting to hide what he's done so we don't get mad at him.

We guess that the cut in his pants was an accident and then he thought, "Hmm... I wonder what happens if I try to cut my shirt?" This part was definitely not an accident.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Sweet product

I just used some Loctite Gel Super Glue and I am in love. The gel is thick to stay where you put it and you have to (easily, but suredly) squeeze the sides of the bottle to get it to come out. The bottle has a wide base and stands stably upright.

I have a history of super glue accidents (THANK GOD never with my eyes) and this stuff makes it really hard to have an accident. Should you have an accident, there are instructions on the package for how to get your fingers unstuck. It doesn't, however, describe how to get your wedding and engagement rings unstuck from each other and the dining room table.

You might think he's just a polite sweetie...

...but there's more to him than that.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Burn, baby, burn

The first fire in our new wood insert. Bring on the cold weather!

Still Growing



Compare to the collage of photos from the same location previously.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

First black eye

Andy left after work on Friday for his "No Talking Allowed" camping trip. It was supposed to be 2 other guys plus him but one was sick so it was just Andy and Chris.

Kevin and I went to Chick-Fil-A for dinner and to play on their playground. Not less than 2 hours after Andy left, Kevin has his first black eye. He bumped his face on the playset, I don't know how. He had a large red lump under the outside corner of his eye. After a few minutes he wanted to keep playing so we stayed for another half hour or so.

The next morning, the red spot was still there but some blood had seeped away from it to directly underneath his eye. At breakfast I said, "Kevin, you have a black eye!" He jumped up from the table and ran to look in the mirror and then he walked slowly back to me and said with a surprising amount of condescension, "Mama, I'm SUPPOSED to have black eyes, that's how God made me."

I told him that's the phrase we use when there is a bruise around someone's eye. He still has the black eye but it's getting better. Where the bruising had spread along the entire width of his eye, it's now a little smaller and the coloring is fading.

When Andy got home on Sunday afternoon and the black eye was at its worst, he said, "Kevin, how'd you get a black eye?" Kevin looked at me and rolled his eyes and slumped his shoulders in exhaustion at having to teach us everything, then repeated to Andy that he's supposed to have black eyes.

Parents - sheesh.

Friday, September 22, 2006

First ever family portrait



And second ever professional kid portrait.

Day Out With Thomas

On Wednesday night, we informed Kevin that we would all be visiting a railroad museum on Thursday and riding on Thomas the Tank Engine.

At first, he was stunned.


Then he did a happy dance.


Then he fell over from happy dancing so hard.


Shortly after we arrived, we saw The Holy Grail.


Then we rode on The Holy Grail.


Right before this picture was taken, Kevin and Alyssa were shoving each other out of the way from in front of James (the red engine.)

What local community building will do for you

As I've mentioned, we had our neighborhood picnic last Saturday to help our little community get to know each other. The next day, I took Kevin to a barbecue at a coworker's house and left Andy at home to relax by himself. While trying to do that, one of the neighbors came over to talk about a zoning issue that she was trying to fight. She stayed for 30 minutes moving the conversation to the "appalling" state of some of the houses on the other end of the street. We have no idea what she is talking about but we had heard previously from another neighbor about her saying such things in the past as well.

Last night when we came home, 2 families of neighbors were talking in one of their front lawns. We've never seen these 2 families talk together before the party. They may have, but we didn't see it. Last night, we saw it. When I went to get the mail, I met one of those families who said that Bill up the street was finding people to take their food because their freezer had gone belly-up that day. I also had a phone message from Bill's wife saying that she had a bit of an emergency and asking if I could call her. I called back and left a message but I assume the problem was their freezer. Either way, I would have never gotten that call in the past because nobody knew our names or phone number.

While this is all a bit tiring (trying to rest away from people and they find you, having to wave and be neighborly when you're exhausted from a day trip, etc.) this is also pretty cool - and it is what we asked for.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

R.I.P. Northern Lights

I realize that there are small groups in the area that still consider themselves Northern Lights, but to me, my group was Northern Lights. And it is no longer.

Ten years ago, 7 people met together in an apartment in west Catonsville - a married couple, an almost-married couple, a married woman whose husband couldn't come, and two single ladies (I was one of them.) We met every Wednesday night to study the Bible and other books together. What we didn't know was that many of us would become very important friends to one another - nor that we'd still be at it 10 years later.

Since 1996, we've twice split into 3 groups because we grew so big. It's hard to have a meaningful discussion with 20 people in the room, especially when over half of them are introverts. We've changed meeting locations from house to house and we've changed leaders over the years.

The past couple of years, our group has been slowly but steadily declining in the level of satisfaction it has provided its members. The members' commitment to the group waned and the conversations became stale.

Tonight, 6 people met together in a house in Catonsville - four were members of the original seven. We met to discuss the fate of our group and came to a near consensus that it's time to fold.

I agreed with the decision and have been feeling that way for awhile so I was surprised on my drive home to feel very sad and then scared, in a way. I know that some of my friendships from the group will fade. I think that's ok and normal but it's still sad when I think back on how strong they used to be. Times change and relationships change and although I feel it's time to move on from meeting as a group every Wednesday night, it's sad to know that the "We'll still stay friends!" sentiment we tried to keep close to our hearts will not be upheld. It's hard to be separated by time and space and remain close. I found myself feeling scared because without such strong relationships forged by many hours spent together in prayer, mourning, joy, silliness and personal growth to support me, I may slip and fall. Honestly, that doesn't rationally concern me because I know they're still there and I know I will have room for new relationships, but the feeling came over me anyway.

I can't begin to express my gratitude and thanks to the people who have touched my life through Northern Lights. You've been my best friends, my companions, my supporters, my pray-ers and my entertainment. You've provided me windows into myself that I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to peer through. Thank you for also opening the windows into yourselves so that I could peer through to see the real you sometimes.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

It was worth it

Today was our neighborhood cookout at our house. We worked pretty hard this week to prepare for it but we didn't prepare for rain and what did we get? Rain. Oh well, at the last minute we moved the party from the front lawn to the back porch and inside and made do.

Today was exhausting, but so worth it. The introductions, conversations, smiles and laughs flying about the crowd were fantastic. There wasn't a person who came that didn't say, "We are SO glad you did this. Thank you." And we were just as thankful that they came because that was the point of it - to get people together to meet, converse and become something other than anonymous to one another.

It's easy to list the ways that community is hard but what you gain from it is immeasurable.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Don't Drink the Water

The other day, my parents received a certified letter that stated the gas station which they are 2 houses away from, was leaking and MTBE, the additive that helps gasoline burn cleaner, was found in nearby wells. This has been a problem for some time around their county but this was the first that their local station was reported to have a problem.

The Baltimore Sun ran an article with some further information including:

the levels have been rising since spring

The letters, sent Friday, come nearly two months after the state received the results of groundwater testing at Meller's Food Mart, a convenience store and former Sunoco station. The state's delay in notifying the county Health Department could be a violation of Maryland law.

the county Health Department did not receive word of detection until Aug. 31 - nearly seven weeks after the findings

One of the wells also showed benzene, another gas additive, at 171 parts per billion.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It's Done

I just finished handing out the rest of the neighborhood picnic invitations. I knocked on some doors but I mostly just put them at the front doors or porches of the other houses. You know, even if only the people who I invited in person and who said they'd come come, it'll still be a good time and I'll consider it a success.

This is a moment for a huge PHEWWWWWWWWWWWWW! But then hopefully no migraine.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I did it! Well, I started to do it

Kevin and I just returned from over an hour of inviting some people on our street to our neighborhood picnic next Saturday. Last night Andy and I realized that we have to do it next Saturday or wait until next year and we didn't want to wait again, especially because we already have a bunch of hamburger meat and hot dogs in the freezer for the cookout. So... I took Kevin with me as an ice-breaker and hopefully a way for people to realize I wasn't trying to sell them something when I approached their door.

Anyway, people responded better than I expected! Which means that we were out there meeting and talking to people for longer than I had planned. And we're only 1/3 of the way done! We talked to people from our house to the north end of our street. Now we have that many people still on our street and then 6 houses to visit on the street between ours and the main road.

It's probably best to have a short time to get fully prepared because I've done some preparations already (bought meat for grilling, paper plates and napkins, thought about logistics of chairs and tables, etc.) and this way I won't have time to get burned out before the big event. And, this forces me to get out there and knock on some doors - which is one of the most unpleasant things I can imagine doing.

Kevin didn't really talk to people except to say "Bye!" but he did a good job of handing out flyers.

It just keeps getting better

Kevin picked out some purple bedsheets at Target last week so I put them in the wash yesterday. He helped me switch them from the washer to the dryer and as he put them in the dryer I said, "Do you know what this is?" He answered, "Your bathing suit?"

I gave him a quizzical look and he said, "Your underwear?"

He learns a lot from his father.

Friday, September 08, 2006

What I bring to our family

There's a Baby Einstein video about farms that includes a song to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell" that goes:

The cows give us milk! The cows give us milk!
Hi-ho the derry-o, the cows give us milk!

The chickens give us eggs! The chickens give us eggs!
Hi-ho the derry-o, the chickens give us eggs!

Ever the musician and songwriter/stealer, Kevin made up some other words to the song such as

Our plates give us food! Our plates give us food! Hi-ho the derry-o, our plates give us food!


Then we came up with

Papa gives us silliness! Papa gives us silliness! Hi-ho the derry-o, Papa gives us silliness!

After hearing our rendition of the song, Andy prompted Kevin to come up with words about me and Kevin came up with the following gem on his own:

Mama gives us hair in the shower! Mama gives us hair in the shower!
Hi-ho the derry-o, Mama gives us hair in the shower!


And he sang it with the gusto of a Broadway performer.

Weekly Roundup

This week has been weird. I'm a creature of habit, by any definition. This week's schedule change to 5-day preschool for Kevin, the start of swimming lessons for Kevin and my holiday on Monday which is a day I'd usually get 8 hours of work in has thrown me for a bit of a loop, albeit not as big of one as I might've expected. That's probably because I expected it to be bad, so anything would've been better than that.

Swimming lessons went great. Kevin started out the class crying as soon as he got in the water. He sobbed for about 10 minutes but I held my ground (I'm such a good parent) and stayed on the bleachers instead of going over to him. He eventually learned to trust the floatie strapped on his back and to trust the teacher and by the end of the 1/2 hour class, he was jumping off the side of the pool and then "swimming" without the teacher pulling him. Good stuff.

Now that preschool has officially started (and summer time fun is over) Kevin is learning school-type things each day. He even has a project due next week (technically, *I* have a project due next week) and he gets to take something in today for show and tell. I am still glad that he was there for the summer to get to know the other kids and teachers but I was ready for something a bit more structured and I'm happy he's getting it now.

I like putting jigsaw puzzles together and I recently realized that while working on them, I spend a lot of time in contemplative thought. I think through things rather than just thinking about them and I think about other people and their needs. Even when I specifically set aside time to do that, I don't keep my brain on the task for as long as I can while I'm putting a puzzle together.

This afternoon we'll meet with our social worker for the last time in reference to Kevin's adoption. This will be our last post-placement visit and report. In one month, we'll celebrate the 2-year anniversary of Kevin being part of our family.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Buns

Last night when I was finished eating dinner, I left my place at the table to work on the puzzle set up at the other end.

Kevin: Mama, did you wash your hands?
Dianne: No, I don't need to. I didn't touch my food; I used my fork and knife.
Andy: (whispering to Kevin) Ask her how she ate her hamburger.
Kevin: Mama, how did you eat your hamburger?
Dianne: I did eat it with my hands, but my bun wasn't dirty because it wasn't inside out like Kevin's.
Kevin: (squeezing his bottom with both hands) I can't turn it inside out, silly!

Photo comparison

We finally laid out all 3 sets of photos and made our decision about where we'll order prints from. The big winner? Shutterfly!

Here are the 5 photos we had printed by Snapfish, Shutterfly and Kodak EasyShare Gallery.







Surprisingly (at least to me) the Kodak photos were the worst. They looked washed out because the colors were lighter. The picture of Nicholas in half sun and half shadow didn't look nearly as nice because the contrast between the light and dark wasn't natural. The Kodak photos also lacked detail, which I don't understand. In the picture of the mountain through the logs on the bridge, the logs in the foreground were smooth while in the Shutterfly and Snapfish prints, you could see the wood details. In terms of convenience, Kodak took the longest to get our prints to us in the mail.

Snapfish and Shutterfly were close enough in print quality for us to be able to make our decision based on convenience factors. While we already use Snapfish for all of our film developing so we have a lot of pictures stored there, I really like that Shutterfly prints my file name on the back of each picture and sends an index print. Snapfish was the only one that didn't send an index print and I really think they should.

I've spent a lot of time this weekend transferring photos to Shutterfly's website. I can drag and drop them into their photo upload application and then let my computer and dsl connection do the rest.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The paperwork never ends

I suspect that I'll be filling out paperwork for Kevin (or at least double-checking his efforts) for another 20 years, but most of that will be paperwork that we can call someone to ask about should a question arise or that won't affect his life drastically if we get something wrong. "Oh, you wanted his birthdate, not mine? Sorry, let me correct that and hand it right back to you so he can join the t-ball squad."

I'm down to my last nerve (or is it fed up to my last nerve?) with federal government paperwork for Kevin's adoption. This is almost as bad as trying to make a call to the phone company except that I don't expect this to be easy. However, it is still frustrating.

It appears that the number of different forms the government creates is less so that the question of whether a person is filling out the correct form or not is not as difficult of an issue. But, on each form, there are so many options for how to fill it out, that it's just as confusing as trying to figure out whether I'm on the right form at all.

I'm currently filling out the N-600, "Application for Certificate of Citizenship." I honestly think this is the last thing, other than tax forms, that we'll have to file for Kevin. We will probably get him a passport soon, since I have extra passport photos due to a misunderstanding with the helpful lady at FedEx/Kinko's yesterday and they will technically expire in 29 days, and that will somehow be affected by his adoption because we'll have to prove that he's a U.S. citizen and I'm sure the CoC application won't be even looked at by then, let alone finalized. So I guess that's one more thing.

I'm not saying that all of this isn't worth it because, honestly, he is.

And to think that although I've spent the last 3 months loving the idea of not having anymore kids and even telling a bunch of people that all the way up through last week, I now think I want another. What the heck is wrong with me?

Pictures I've taken lately

In preparation for the remnants of tropical event Ernesto to slide through here, we saved some of our roses before the wind hit. I don't usually cut them and bring them inside but as pretty as they are on the table, I should do it more often!




In the mood to eat cookie batter the other day, I had Kevin help me make chocolate chip cookies. We baked some right after dinner so they were extra yummy.


I went on a spending spree yesterday. Although it was somewhat planned, I'm still slightly uncomfortable with it. When I graduated from college, I bought a shower curtain for my new apartment. I've been using it ever since because although my tastes may have changed, there was nothing wrong with it. Yesterday, I bought a new one. And not only the shower curtain but matching curtain hooks, hand towels (to use only when guests come), soap dispenser, and bath towels for Andy and me.

Now with Blogger Comments

When I created my blog, Blogger didn't include a commenting feature so I enlisted the help of HaloScan, which I really liked. Now that I've switched to Blogger's new (beta) version, I can't get my comment code to work with their new template format. I could revert to my old template and blogger version or I could just suck it up and use blogger's comments, which is what I'm deciding to do. So, go ahead and comment, you legions of commenters who I'm sure have so missed my commenting feature over the past week or so.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Swimming Lessons are ON

It's official, Kevin likes to swim. This was the scene last Friday at Kevin's playdate.



The scene this morning was me getting out of bed at 5:30 am to go to the YMCA to sign Kevin up for swimming lessons. I've never been to the Y so I didn't know if there'd be a horde of crazy parents camping out to register so I took what I was hoping was the middle road and I aimed to be there at the time registration started - 6:00 am. Turns out because only first-time participants have to register in-person, I was there with a group of older ladies signing up for the arthritis swimming class. And don't think I'm being facetious, that's what they all said when they got to the desk: "I'm registering for the arthritis class." And they were all dressed up with their faces made up and their hair nicely coiffed.

Now that we're in their system and they have my signed waiver, I'll be able to register online for any other classes anyone in our family wants to take. So, you can bet I won't be rolling out of the driveway at 5:50 am anymore to sign up; I'll be rolling out of bed and over to the computer still in my PJs at 5:59 am next time.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Out with the old, in with the new - unless I take them back to the store

I used to not let people see my feet. There's nothing wrong with my feet, at least nothing anybody would notice, really, I just felt vulnerable when my feet were exposed. I know, you didn't need to know about another neurosis of mine but seriously, I'm over this one. I decided to let my toes out to see the sun my junior year of college and I even painted my toenails - which led my friends to remark that my short, round appendages with red nails looked like pimento-stuffed olives. Ok, then.

I bought a pair of Teva sandals. They were cutting edge because they were one of the first models to have more than just the thin, flat, flexible sole - I think they were called some sort of "shark" something with the extra tough layer of gray material as well.

Fast-forward 13 years (holy cow, could I be that old?) to 3 weeks ago when - oh my! - the 2 pieces of sole on my left shoe separated. Granted, the velco was already wearing out and the straps had split apart long ago, but they hadn't been noticeably worn out until the left one starting flapping.

I immediately shouted for joy as I LOVE to buy shoes and this was a bonus because earlier in the week my purse started sporting holes and if there's anything that I love more than buying a new pair of shoes, it's a new purse. "Woohoo!" I said out loud.

While dreaming of the new styles by Keen and Teva that all the cool outdoorsy types are wearing this year, I wondered whether I'd really find anything this time of year in my size. Or maybe I should wait until next spring when the new styles come out and then I'd be the first one with the coolest shoes on the block.

I asked Andy if he could glue my old pair back together and after making sure I was serious, he gave it a go. My poor sandal sat in the garage with some sort of epoxy or glue on it and any number of clamps to hold the pieces together for good adhesion. (Don't ever say Andy does anything part-way.)

A couple of days later, I had my old shoes back and I continued to wear them. In the meantime, I bought a new purse so I didn't feel so bad about the shoes. Then we got a sale catalog in the mail from REI and guess what was marked down but advertised so they MUST have lots of sizes in stock? The Keen Newport H2 that I so wanted waiting under my bed every morning for me to slip on!

We went to REI last night and guess who came home with a brand spankin' new pair of Keen Newport H2s? NOT ME. Ask Andy what's wrong with his what, 5- measly years old Teva sandals and what is his answer? "Nothing, really." Yet he brought home the Keens. Unfortunately, they didn't fit me. But I did come home with a new pair of sandals that are nice enough. I think.

Here are my old ones, not looking too bad except for all of the mud right now, thanks to a highly productive day in the garden.




Here are my new ones, not looking different enough from my old ones (they didn't have the red in my size) to warrant much excitement although they do feel nicer.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Firewall

My parents lent us the DVD Firewall and we watched it tonight. I was expecting not to like it because of the crazy way computer technology is shown in films and on TV but that wasn't why I didn't like it. I had such a visceral reaction to what happened to the main character's family that I almost stopped watching the movie and then a few minutes later, I was stuck watching it with my stomach tied in serious knots because I couldn't wait for it to be over so that I could see the main character kick the crap out of the bad guy for messing with his family.



People say that when you have kids, you see the world differently. I've said that I see things differently now that I have a kid. But this was more than I ever expected - I can't describe how it felt to watch this man's kids go through that.



One of the bonus features on the disc is a dialogue between Harrison Ford (he played the main character) and the director and Harrison Ford said at one point that you have to be careful not to make the mistake of putting kids in such peril that the audience blames the good guys in the story for putting their kids in a position to have to go through that. I didn't blame the good guys, so I guess they didn't cross the line that way, but I had a hard time paying any attention to the story. All I wanted was for the movie to end. I wonder whether I would've cared if it had ended after just a half hour and not made any sense vs. having to wait 2 hours for it to just tie up nice and tidy and make sense (which is usually all I want in a movie.)



I don't mean to say it was a bad movie. It was just a bad movie for me to watch and not for the reasons I expected!

Sleeping better

On Wednesday night I took Benadryl hoping to "reset" my sleep cycle. I slept a little better. Thursday night I took Benadryl again and slept terribly, even during the first four hours, when I thought I was guaranteed some good rest. I didn't take any Benadryl last night and I finally slept better. I do feel better overall but still not quite right. I'm ok with not being back to normal as long as I'm moving in the right direction.



The other night, Andy had a dream that our friend, Will, found a Chevy 2500 pickup truck with 4 doors and 4-wheel drive for sale for $6000. Andy tried to figure out how to present the idea of buying it to me and then he saw a "ULEV" sticker in the window (Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle) and he thought that and the price tag might win me over, at least enough to look at it with him. Even in his sleep, he knows me well.



Last night, I had a dream that I went on a road trip with Matthew McConaughey and all sorts of weirdness ensued - not because he was weird as he has seemed in some news stories in real life, but because it was a dream and it was my dream and so my neuroses came across as they often do in my dreams. One of those weirdnesses involved him driving away from McDonalds without me because I was taking too long in the crowded and really dirty restroom but it turned out that he hadn't left me there, he was just in a navy blue pickup truck instead of the car that we'd arrived in and I couldn't find him in the parking lot. Then we were taken in by a very wealthy family for a night (I don't remember why) and Matthew wasn't as gracious of a guest as I would've preferred so I kept going behind him to fix things that he didn't leave the way he found them and writing thank you notes and signing his name on them.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Sorry, feed readers

Blogger posted the beta version of its new blogging interface/tools and I went ahead and said, "Sure, upgrade my template to your test version so that I have to re-enter all of my customizations AGAIN" and then I found myself re-entering my customizations and using their test version to easily select page elements and such. I enjoyed that so much that I kept making changes and more changes and more changes before realizing I hadn't turned off my site feed. Whoops, sorry about that.



You'll note a bit of a new look around here but nothing amazing except that you can't comment right now but I'm sure the legions of readers who leave me comments daily will understand that it's just for a short time until Blogger allows full customization of the HTML surrounding posts themselves and then, THEN you all will be able to comment on my witty and insightful drivel.



Yes, I know that's an oxymoron.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I don't feel well

For the past few days, I've realized that something is wrong. The problem with diagnosing it is that I can't say, "I have a migraine" or "I think I have a sinus infection" because I don't have a list of symptoms that I can describe. I have had a headache part of the time, but it's not the main problem. I have been sleepless, which is incredibly odd for me. Maybe one night every few months something (other than Kevin) will wake me up overnight but this has been many days in a row now. I am consistently waking up multiple times overnight either sitting up in bed or out in the hallway thinking that there is something I was supposed to do. I usually call these "stress dreams" but they're usually based on a particular stressor that I've always been able to pinpoint.



There is nothing in particular stressing me out this week. And I am not only sleepless, I feel.... icky. That doesn't clarify anything, does it? Physically, I don't feel well but, like I said, there's no list of symptoms that I can use to describe how I don't feel well. I just don't feel well, all over.



My brain doesn't feel right, either. It feels muddled and clouded yet it seems to be working just fine. I've gotten Kevin to preschool when he needs to be there, done a huge grocery shopping trip, worked at my job, prepared for tonight's small group gathering at our house, etc. I guess my brain doesn't feel well all over either.



I'm confused and frustrated that I can't figure this out. I'd like to feel better not just to feel better (this really isn't as bad as, say, being nauseous all the time) but to be better to my family and friends. I'm more impatient and short-tempered than I usually am but I can't figure out how to cut it off.



Sleep would probably help but there is no precedent in my life to know what to do to fix that.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Comparing the big guys

I uploaded the same 5 digital photos to Kodak Easy Share Gallery, Snapfish and Shutterfly and ordered prints so that I can compare apples to apples when deciding which company to order prints from in the future.



I sent photos from our trip to New Hampshire because they include a variety of different exposure/printing needs, such as a long-distance landscape shot with some items close up in the foreground, my cousin in half bright sun and half shadow, a cloud with the sun shining out from behind it, an indoor shot of 4 people with widely varying skin tones and 2 people swimming in the water.



I'll let you know my opinions of the prints when they arrive in a few days.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

We've got two more to pick very soon

Remember the accidental melon? Apparently it tasted really good. I say "tasted" and not "tastes" because it was gone less than 24 hours after I cut it open.



And to think that I almost threw it in the trash without cutting it because it smelled so bad I was certain that it was rotten.

Coming to a blog near you


At the dinner table tonight, Andy and Kevin put on their show of trying to make me laugh. This usually takes a few trial and error steps before finding something that sets me off. Elesa has never seen this before. After about 5 silly faces and 2 silly voices, Elesa said to Andy, "You know that everytime you do this, she blogs about it, right?"

Takin' out the trash


Andy: I guess I could put this bag in a trash can and take that to the road.

Dianne: Well, that's how one usually takes out the trash, no?

Andy: But I mean, this will be the only thing in the trash can.

Dianne: So just take that bag out to the road.

Andy: But then the crows and other animals will be able to get it.

Dianne: But there's no food trash in there.

Andy: Crows be lookin', you know.

Next time, it's Andy's turn

I called the phone company today to renew our annual DSL contract at a lower price. They had no problem lowering my price, but they had a hard time letting me talk to someone who could help. I was more frustrated than I can describe. Why is it that calling the phone company is the most aggravating call I've ever made?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Confessions of a Truck Driver

My truck, God and I love it, is the first vehicle I owned. Now I also co-own a Honda Odyssey van. Neither are cars. Andy owned a car once but he has since owned pickup trucks and now the van. We like trucks and truck-like vehicles.



Our van has been in the shop for a week now. It needs a new power steering pump and pulley. It's at the dealer so I expected that they'd get the parts rather quickly but that isn't the case. They were supposed to call us when the parts came in and today is day 7 since they placed the order with no word. Perhaps they have the parts and are waiting to contact us until the van is ready to be picked up? I can hope.



In the meantime, we can't all fit in the truck so we rented a car last week - a 2005 Honda Civic. Andy and I cringed at the thought. I tried not to like it but I couldn't help myself... the tight turning radius, the peppy engine, the air conditioning... there was too much not to love!



I returned the rental car on Friday because we're fortunate to be able to borrow our friends' car while they are on vacation. It's a 1997 Honda Accord and while there is a little more leg room in the back seat, there's not as much else to love as I expected. It turns out that new vehicles just feel better than old vehicles and they really can't be compared on most levels - who knew?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Accidental Melon

People visiting our vegetable garden earlier this season were heard to remark, "Is this yellow squash over here?" and "I thought you weren't growing squash this year." We responded that we planted no squash this year and we weren't sure what that viny thing in Kevin's section of the garden was.



We decided to let it grow to see what it was as it wasn't twirling itself around any other plants and we were curious. It grew longer but still didn't interfere with the enlarging sunflowers next to it so we kept watching it. It grew lovely yellow blossoms that turned into small green, furry fruits that we didn't recognize. They remained smaller than golf balls so we thought that was the end of our experiment.



The sunflowers harbored a pesty caterpillar species that killed them so when Andy cleared most of the sunflowers out of the area, we had a better view of the mystery vine. When we returned from vacation, I found 2 softball sized, still green and still slightly furry fruits! I showed them to Andy and after a few minutes he proclaimed, "These are cantaloupes!" I wondered how he knew and then he picked up another part of the vine to reveal an almost-ripe melon that couldn't be mistaken for anything other than a cantaloupe.



I suspect that it'll be ripe in the next few days and Andy will give it a try. I hope it's not disgusting but even if it is, it's still fun to know that we inadvertently grew cantaloupes.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Ahhh....

Kevin and I are enjoying thermostatically-controlled air conditioning right now. Andy will be highly impressed - mostly by the fact that I used a level when installing the new thermostat.

Yesterday was an interesting day

This is an email message I sent my parents last night.

So Andy called me this afternoon to say that something is wrong with
the van. It started acting up while he was in DC for a work test.
It's now at the shop with a possible busted power steering unit (no
leak, fluid is full, belt is fine). We have a rental car as the
dealer probably can't get to the van until Wednesday.



Tonight's thunderstorms gave our yard a bolt of lightning and we're
fortunate that most everything is working normally but our thermostat
is kaput. The display won't come on but the correct number of volts
are coming to the base plate. At least the air conditioning is stuck
"on" and we'll wait to decide when we're ready to turn it off some
other way before doing anything that we might not be able to reverse!



During the lightning storm, I got a migraine.



Last night we kept the air conditioning on all night and this morning we couldn't see out of any windows because they were all covered in water. We tested turning off the AC at the breaker panel and when we turned the breakers back on, both the outside and inside units came back on. So, right now they're off and I'll turn them back on when it gets a little warmer later. Either that or when I get the new thermostat installed (!), which I'm in the middle of now (but waiting for Andy's opinion on something before I finish.)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

This is what happens....

...when you forget to tell the people taking care of your garden that they may harvest anything they find of value while you're gone.



This is a cucumber the length of my forearm from fingertips to elbow that is sun-bleached white.


Trip Photos

We took over 200 photos of our week in New Hampshire. Here are a few for you to enjoy.






The Swift River runs along the Kancamagus Highway through the White Mountains National Forest. There is no bad view of the river - it is cold and clear with mountains on either side and rocks creating waterfalls.






Quite a bit of our entertainment was water play in rivers and lakes and even this municipal fountain in North Conway.






We stayed at my cousins' in-laws' summer house in Madison, NH (with my cousin, her 2 sons and her in-laws.) This is the town hall and police headquarters of Madison.

We're Home

Left Madison, NH, this morning at 10:00 am. Rolled into our driveway at 1:00 am. Time for bed.



Oh, and the grass is brown. Will need to ask the neighbor (who mowed while we were gone) about that.



Good night.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Look out New Hampshire (and all the states in between) - here we come!

We're leaving for New Hampshire in a couple of hours. Andy is napping so that he can drive through most of the night. Kevin will hopefully sleep through most of the drive and we'll have breakfast at a restaurant (Kevin has inherited my love of eating at restaurants, although I suppose most people do) and meet my cousin at her in-laws' house in the late morning or mid-day. That's our guess, at least, given our current plan, which is, of course, open to change.



Big thanks to the Sitnicks for lending us one of their older laptops to use on the drive for Kevin to watch a video.



Congratulations to our relatives in Missouri - there's a new member of the family. Welcome, Christina Maria!



Catch you in a week or so.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Historic? Yes. Questionable now? Yes.

I previously stated of Floyd Landis's epic ride in Stage 17 of the Tour de France, "
It was astonishing and it will never be questioned as heroic.
"

Apparently, I was wrong.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

In-car entertainment - DENIED

Andy's coworker was embarassed and quite apologetic when he told Andy that he'd forgotten his wife's trip to Vegas next week and that she'd asked to take his portable DVD player with her for the plane trip. D'oh!

In-car entertainment for the young-un

We're driving to New Hampshire this weekend. The trip could take anywhere from 10-12 hours. Lots of people have told us to borrow/get a DVD player for Kevin to watch on the trip. Our first reaction was, "No thanks, he'll have to learn like kids did in our day to entertain himself with books and toys in between times that we entertain him.



After thinking it over for a day or two, I thought that maybe watching a video for no more than 2 hours of the trip wouldn't be so bad for him. That's still a lot of hours that he'd have to entertain himself with books and toys.



I told Andy that if a DVD player landed in my lap, I would - and at this point I could tell Andy was still reluctant so I said - "consider it." I left it for him to think about and if indeed a DVD player landed in my lap, we'd talk about it then.



Andy arrived home from work yesterday with... a DVD player in his lap! I asked him if it just fell there and he said that yeah, it kinda did. One of his coworkers brought in a DVD with pictures of his recent trip to Alaska and a portable DVD player to show the pictures on. Andy said, "Hey, that's kinda nice. Do you need it for the next week or so?" Note that this is the same coworker whose digital camera I dropped on the tile floor and broke when we borrowed it a few months ago. He was willing to let us borrow the DVD player but he did comment, "Oh, sure, now you're going to let your son break my stuff."

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Floyd Landis brings the yellow jersey back to the U.S.


Stage 17 of this year's Tour de France is going to show up in all of those "Best nn Tour moments in history" highlight reels. When this year's Tour is about and there is talk of the bouncing of the top contenders before the start, other contenders being taken away from the race in ambulances because of some spectacular crashes, THIS stage will also be discussed. Floyd Landis's name has gotten much bigger.



In a stage with 5 categorized climbs through the Alps, "Floyd Landis splintered the field on the day's first climb" and never stopped (quote from tdfblog.com.) The climbs were as follows:

(1) 14.9 km climb averaging 6.4 % - Category 1

(2) 5.9 km climb averaging 7.1 % - Category 2

(3) 11.8 km climb averaging 5.8 % - Category 1

(4) 5.1 km climb averaging 4.9 % - Category 3

(5) 11.7 km climb averaging 8.5 % - 'Hors' Category = "beyond category"




Eurosport calls it

"a performance that will go down as one of the greatest in the history of the Tour de France."



ProCycling:

"an exploit worthy of Eddy Merckx."



Bob Roll says it's

"the greatest single day ride in the history of the Tour de France."



TDFBlog.com

"What Floyd Landis did today is all that even if you completely ignore his ride yesterday [in which he couldn't hang with the other riders and he lost over 10 minutes to the race leader]. Throw that in, and it's just incomparable.



TDFBlog.com

Landis versus 142 riders today just wasn't a fair fight; the peloton needed more guys.



Frank Schleck:

"We didn't let him go, he was just so strong at the beginning and we didn't think he would make it to the end."



Carlos Sastre, CSC's GC man [the CSC team's rider going for the win] said he expected Landis to attack today:

"I saw him this morning and I thought he would attack, but he just split the peloton in thirty pieces. He went like an eagle on the first climb and against that you can't do anything."



What Landis did on the road to Morzine was unthinkable. It was astonishing and it will never be questioned as heroic. Nobody (that I've read, anyway) has mentioned of this epic ride, "Would this have happened were Basso and Ullrich in the race?" because as good as this ride was, there's no doubt in our minds that it would've happened had it needed to.



And with that ride, he brought himself close enough to the top of the heap that his time trial yesterday clinched his title as Winner of the 2006 Tour de France. Congratulations, Floyd. You made us all believers.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Lady in the Water


We saw Lady in the Water today because we love most of M. Night Shyamalan's movies ("Signs" and "The Village" are AWESOME, in my opinion.) I was letdown by this one, although I admit to not having high expectations given the previews I'd seen. Andy really enjoyed it, so whether or not we recommend seeing it depends on which one of us you ask.

So that's what you think of me?


Andy: If you went to a costume party, what kind of costume would you wear?

Dianne: I don't know, I don't like wearing costumes. I guess something mild.

Andy: Mild?

Dianne: Yeah, so I wouldn't have to wear something very different than what is usual for me - I'd be someone or something similar to who I am and what I already have.

Andy: Barbara Bush?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Both usages are correct


Scene: Andy and I discussing the amount of clothes in his dresser that he never wears.



Me: Can I help you by pulling stuff out of the drawers and asking, "Do you ever wear this?"

Andy: That might not help because I keep some of those things for their sentimental value.

Me: That's fine, but can't we archive those items in a place that isn't in the way on a daily basis?

Andy: My clothes don't belong in a museum!

Dianne: What?? [pause...] Ohhhh - you mean like archiving important papers?

Andy: Yeah, like the National Archives.

Dianne: I mean archive them like taking them off the file server and putting them on tape to store offsite and out of the way yet accessible in case of emergency.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The last straw?

I walked out to the truck to drive to the mall in the searing heat to find this...




My first thought was, "This is it - Andy is going shopping for a new car tonight."



A friend was expecting us at the mall and I was going there to get something specific so I drove with the mirror dangling like this. I felt more hickville-ish than usual, which is saying a lot. Fortunately I didn't get pulled over for this surprisingly-obvious-to-other-drivers situation because we also have a crack a third of the way across the windshield.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

The excitement - it's really here!

I admit that even though I'm not a Lance Armstrong fan to the max, I enjoyed watching him steamroll the competition in 7 Tours de France. He was/is a machine and I have the utmost respect for the level to which he took his gifts and abilities.



This Tour was going to be exciting because without Lance racing, so many riders had a chance to wear the yellow jersey into Paris. Then came the doping scandal and a number of top contenders were ousted before even coasting up to the starting line. I was bummed not to see some particular face-offs (Ivan Basso vs. Jan Ullrich, specifically) but I knew that I'd still enjoy watching the race because no matter who rides it, it's an amazing thing.



A few more top contenders are out now due to crashes and that's never good. It's hard to see people who have worked so hard to be in The Race get beat down by what seems like a cruel twist of fate rather than some other rider being better than them. But that's all part of Le Tour - hard work, conditioning, mental toughness, and luck/fortune/fate/whatever you want to call it.



The first week of the tour is all about the sprinters, those guys who go fast and hard like rockets only to be left behind (usually) when the race moves into the mountains. Yesterday was the first day of "real" climbing in the Pyrenees and it was a surpisingly "boring" event. I could only guess that the contenders were playing it safe to get a feel for their own legs and a look at the condition of their competition.



Then came Day 2 of the Pyrenees.



And what a day it was! I had a hard time containing myself at my desk at work while reading the live updates at www.letour.fr as a group broke away from the peloton only to be reeled back in while some more people broke away and then a bunch of people got dropped off the back when they couldn't hang with the large group pedaling up the mountains. On the screaming downhills, the groups would meld back together and then smaller groups would take off up the hills trying to leave the rest of the riders behind to get their names in lights, try for the stage win and pick up some climbing points. And then... then came the breakaway of contenders that I'd been waiting for! Leipheimer, Landis, Evans... But wait! There was only one Discovery Team rider in the bunch and it wasn't Hincapie! Oh, Big George, you dropped my heart like the lanterne rouge on an HC climb. You didn't hang with the leaders and I don't understand why! Why, George, why? Azevedo was there but I just don't have any heart left for him. Landis and Leipheimer and Kloden were there, but they aren't you, George. They aren't due to shine in yellow after playing a perfect lieutenant role for Lance Armstrong all those years. It's your turn, George! I fear that you're out of contention now but there are more days of climbing ahead so I'll keep some hope alive for you.



American Floyd Landis, who rides for Phonak, is now wearing the yellow jersey and I'm proud of him but I just can't find a soft spot in my heart for him no matter how hard I try. If he wins it all, and at this point it is his race to lose, I will be proud of him and American cycling.



No matter who won today, they were exciting times and I look forward to the next week and a half of watching these amazing men dance on their pedals.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

At the Independence Day parade




I'm sorry, Kevin, that your mother had no idea of the proper way to put a liberty headpiece on until after this picture was taken.

Beets are cool

I don't eat a lot of vegetables but beets are one of my favorites. There isn't much that tops pulling beets out of the garden, cooking them and eating them fresh with a dab of butter. Yummm! So this time of year, people visiting our home for a meal are likely to be offered beets. Now I know that beets aren't high on many peoples' lists of yummy foods, but I love them so I serve them.



Jeff and Elesa came over for dinner tonight and I offered beets. Elesa ate one (I'm very proud of her because she's done that before even though she knows she doesn't like them) and Jeff ate a piece smaller than a square centimeter but it was more than he intended to eat. I tried to get them to find beets intellectually stimulating if not delicious.




Dianne: Do you know what is cool about beets?

Others: No, what?

Dianne: The red pigment in them is water-soluble and most people can't digest it so when you go to the bathroom, it comes out red.

Andy: Ugh, our son is so going to get beat up when he gets older.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Conversation

Me: Kevin, I'll be home after you go to sleep. Well, that is, assuming we win our first match.

Andy: Which you should, right?

Me: Yes, definitely; we've been in first place all season. Then we'll wait while the other match plays before playing in the finals so I'll be home after 10:00.

Andy: If not, then just don't come home at all.

8:30 pm, I walk in the door

Andy: Why are you home?

Me: We lost.

Andy: What, did you play with 4 people?

Me: No, six.

Andy: (blank stare)

Me: But not our usual six.

Andy: Please tell me you lost in 3 games.

Me: Yes.

Andy: Ok, you can stay home.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Nostalgia

I just sold my copy of Aural Ecstasy, a techno CD, on Half.com. I was surprised to see that I'd offered it up for sale and a little saddened by that. What if my kids want to listen to it someday to hear how cool I am?



Before shipping it, I decided to listen to it one more time. Andy was in the room when I put it on and he asked, "Isn't this the kind of music they play to torture hostages and make them talk?"

I'm very lucky...

...to have time like this every day.


Kevin is very lucky...

....to have time like this every day.


Friday, June 30, 2006

An unbelievable shakeup in the Tour

I'm currently shocked, jaw-dropped, stunned and saddened to read which riders won't start this year's Tour because of Operacion Puerto, the Spanish-based drug and doping scandal that is currently rocking the cycling world. Am I surprised that high-level cyclists dope? No. Am I surprised that they're getting caught? No. Am I sad that they dope? Yes. Am I sad that they're getting caught? Yes, except selfishly to the extent that my Tour dream for this year of seeing Ivan Basso in the yellow jersey in Paris and Jan Ullrich scraping together whatever he could to try to win is now crushed. There are other great cyclists and the Tour will always be the best race ever but I can't hide my disappointment on so many levels. I am rocked.

Out with the old, in with the new

I've mentioned before Kevin's aversion to bare- or even socked-feet. When he first came home he'd scream without his shoes on so he even wore them to bed. We tried to get him to wear slippers but it took a lonnnnnng time for that to work out. Once it did, we created a slipper monster. It's hard to find replacement slippers during warm weather when you don't want to spend more than $10 (mail-order surely works but we were hoping not to go that route.) As you can see, the time came when it was necessary to suck it up and hand over the cash.




Kevin ceremoniously slam-dunked the old slippers in the trash after trying on and determining that he loves the new slippers he picked out.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tomorrow the Tour teams will be presented

I have a scrapbook in which I create a page for each of our wedding anniversaries. It's fun because really only one picture of us, to see how time and living with each other damage us, is all that is necessary, so I get to really whack out on the creativity. (If you know me well, feel free to chuckle now.) Anyway, I did years 1 and 2 but haven't done any since then. This year's anniversary passed a couple of weeks ago amid a flurry of photographic activity because I was determined not to let another anniversary pass without a page in our anniversary album for it. At this point, we can't even remember what we did for our anniversary the past two years - neither of us can remember, and that's saying a lot for Mr. "I Remember The Date We First Did 'X' Activity Together" for every single activity we've ever done together. See how important a special anniversary scrapbook is? It'll help you remember all of those fancy dinners at restaurants you never otherwise visit. Or at least that's our life.



Anyway, this post is supposed to be about Le Tour, according to the title. So Andy was searching through my old blog posts to find out what we did the past two June 16ths. Alas, I mentioned it was our anniversary but said nothing else. He told me to get with the program and write what we did because he is getting old and can't remember much. Maybe he didn't say that.



In searching through previous summers' blog entries, Andy was heard to exclaim, "Sheesh, you really ARE obsessed with the Tour - every year!" My excuse is hey, it happens every year, how much more often do you want me to obsess??



Tomorrow is the presentation of the teams. It's the official start of the Tour although they don't ride until the Prologue on Sat, July 1st. It'll be a fun and crazy tour by my estimate. Not only is the winners podium pretty wide-open this year without Lance Armstrong, but there has been a way huge doping scandal that is ramping up in the press as more information leaks out before the case goes to court. If it goes to court during the Tour, who knows what might happen? If it stays only in the press, it will definitely get top billing among news of who attacked, who was dropped and who won each day.



My picks for this years podium? Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich and Floyd Landis. I was going to say that they're in no particular order but the more I think about it, the more I realize that's how I think it will shake out when everyone rides into Paris at the end of the show.



This year I will miss the Team Time Trial which provides some of the most spectacular bicycle racing viewing around and the photos the professionals take of the TTT are pure artistry in photography and subject matter.



Vive le Tour and may you all find yourselves inexplicably glued to the TV whenever you click by Outdoor Life Network's coverage of this year's 3-week ride across the plains, bridges and mountains of Europe.

The best bike race starts in THREE DAYS!

Tour de France Fans (and those of you who will soon see the light, no doubt), we have 3 days to prepare for the amazing 3-week spectacle! I hope you've got your DVR ready to record every precious minute of racing (if so, send me a copy because we don't have cable ;-)



I splurged $8 on the VeloNews Tour de France Official Guide yesterday. Andy said it didn't count as a splurge until he found out that I went to the bike shop specifically to get it instead of just finding it somewhere that I already was. Oh well, it's not like he's not reading it, too :-)



I was afraid that I'd not get any reading done of the 2 books I'm in the middle of (The Secret Message of Jesus and The Grail Bird) while poring over the VeloNews TdF guide, but when I went to bed last night I decided that it wouldn't help me sleep to read that because it would be too exciting. Andy agreed, mostly because he didn't want me to keep him awake talking about it.



THREE DAYS, people. That is all.

More pictures more of the time

Look out for changes ahead. Andy and I ordered a digital camera last night. *gasp*



We decided it was worth it to get a point-n-shoot type for now instead of waiting for years until digital SLRs drop in price enough. We'll see how well it works. If the pictures come out well (will probably print them at Snapfish) then I'm sure I'll carry the new camera around much more than the film camera we use, which is quite big and heavy.



Despite the valid warnings from our friend-in-the-know, we ordered a Canon A620. If we end up with the dreaded E18 error, Kirsten is free to laugh at us.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Father's Day Interview

Click here to read the 2005 interview.

June 2006

Is Papá tall or short? Tall
What color are Papá’s eyes? Black and white
What color is Papá’s hair? Black

What does Papá like to eat? Scrambled eggs
What does Papá love to eat? Watermelon
What does Papá like to drink? Milk. Does he like milk?
What does Papá take with him to drink every day? Soda

What is Papá’s favorite color? I don’t know, I need to ask him.

What does Papá do at work? He works!
What kind of work does Papá do at work? Puts books in a truck

What do you like to do with Papá? Play tumble on the old couch and with the pillows that we land on; you don’t want to use your shoes, you should wear slippers

Where do you like to go with Papá? To the zoo
What do you like to help Papá do at home? I like to help him make dinner
When Papá wears a yellow shirt, what do you like to wear? A yellow shirt

What does Papá do to make you laugh? He makes jokes
What does Papá do that is funny? Tumble with you

Is Papá a good singer? Yup, he’s a great singer
Is Papá a good dancer? Yup

How old is Papá? I don’t know - is he fourteen?

Does Papá love Kevin? Yup!
Does Kevin love Papá? Yes!

Monday, June 19, 2006

He's pretty cute



If I were his age, I'd totally have a crush on him.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Canning terminology


Andy: Do you put the paraffin in the lid?

Dianne: No, you put it right on the jelly.

Andy: How do you get the paraffin out - is there a string or a ripcord or something?



Note: Never fear, I don't use paraffin for canning, I use a hot water bath canner.