Monday, December 15, 2008


Our brother-in-law visited Maryland with his youngest daughter, Christina, last week. This is Christina sleeping on her grandmother's lap.

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Chore help

This is what happens when you don't feel like taking the compost garbage to the compost pile and you leave it on the porch to get to it later.


The wildlife comes and takes care of it for you!
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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Tonight on... Survivor

The part of Sugar is being played by Dianne.

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Sometimes I pretend to be a real photographer

This is a "garden angel" on our mantel.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Life lives on


My grandmother - the one who is 104 years old - had a stroke in her upper-90's and moved out of her apartment into an assisted living suite in her community. That meant her furniture and other belongings needed to be distributed amongst the family and one of the things I got was her "Christmas cactus" plant. I am usually pretty good at taking care of plants but this one didn't like living in our house no matter what I tried to do to it (or stop doing to it.) It lost leaf after leaf and eventually branch after branch. I read that I could root cuttings so before it completely died on me, I took a few cuttings and put them in water. It worked! I planted the babies in a set of small pots in a matching tray and let them go, hoping that at least one would survive.

That was at least 5 years ago and lookie what we have here. My first ever blooms! Yeehah!

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Creative Play

When Kevin asked to play with some of my kitchen utensils while I made dinner one night, I assumed he'd pretend to make dinner himself.

Nope. The whisk became Wonder Woman's jail and a lock on the cabinet in which all of the other bad guys were staying (I don't know why WW was a bad guy.)

The potato masher served as an elevator.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Look who came to dinner


This guy/gal stopped by our yard shortly before sundown, sitting on the shepherd's hook that holds our finch feeders. The finches were mighty perturbed at having their dinner time stock up thwarted by the big beast and they were all around the area making a ruckus. Within 5 seconds after the hawk flew away, the finch feeders were covered with finches again.

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I'm reading a novel ("Killer Material" by Dan Barton) about a stand-up comic and it's written by a stand-up comedian so I trust that most of the stuff that happens at the shows is close to real. His main character says:

The connection you could feel with a crowd that was engaged in your performance could be... better than anything. Reality paled in comparison. It made addicts out of people. Life was on the stage. The rest was waiting.

Emphasis mine.

That begs the question - What is "life" to you? What is better than anything else? What do you wait the rest of your life for?

There is no wrong answer.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lone red leaf

At the edge of our property there is a line of Bradford Pear trees. They're the last leaves to change color and fall off in autumn. This leaf decided to be bold and change early.

It's the only leaf in a row of trees that isn't green.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Microsoft Security at its finest

From the Microsoft Developers Network website:

To view all the hidden objects, right-click the Navigation Pane (but do not right-click an object), select Navigation Options, and then select the Show Hidden Objects check box. The hidden objects appear but they are partially transparent. Casual and intermediate users generally will not stumble on this, so your objects are protected.

Emphasis mine.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Kevin is still sleeping

Shhh... I know it's already 7:15 but Kevin is still sleeping! He hasn't slept this late in months.

Yesterday was the 2nd Annual Turkey Trot at his school. It was actually on the track at the high school. The main event was a 30-minute period in which we walked, ran, skipped, whatever, around the track. Each lap was marked on a card and if you finished at least 4 laps in a 1/2 hour, you received a "charm" for your school charm necklace. I finished 5 laps wearing my boot.

Kevin ran more this year than last and completed 2 miles! I also forced the family (both guys grumbled) to walk to and from the event, so that was maybe another half mile of walking.

Then we had a couple of Kevin's friends over to play for a couple of hours in the afternoon.

After dinner, when it was still only 6:30, Kevin laid down in his sleeping bag on the dining room floor and listened to a book on CD. For an hour! Just laying there! With only a stuffed animal to keep him company!

After that rest, he went to bed. And he's still sleeping.

Kevin would never run or walk that much on his own or at just my behest - so can we have a Turkey Trot every few days? Or at least every weekend? This sleeping in thing is kinda nice.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I'm back in the boot

I have new information regarding my ankle pain. When I researched it online after going to an orthopedic surgeon who gave me two different diagnoses, I determined that I might have os trigonum syndrome. Turns out I was right.

I have this extra/accessory bone (os trigonum) in my ankle that is in the way of my joint and causes pinching which causes inflammation which causes pain. Most people don't have that bone but some people do, so it's not as if I'm an anatomical anomaly (at least, not because of just this.)

The only way to get rid of the problem for good is to surgically remove the os trigonum. We are first going to try other methods. I had a cortisone injection where the troublesome bone is and I'm to wear the walking boot for 3 weeks. Then I'm to resume walking on it for 3 weeks and then, slowly, add athletic activities back into the mix. If at any point the pain gets worse or if after all the rest it isn't better, I then have the choice of living with the pain or having the bone surgically removed (and going through that recovery.) The recovery from the surgery would be 100% barring any complications, but it is still surgery and is not trivial.

I'm back in the boot for now and am not to play any sports. At least there are lots of leaves in our yard to rake, even if it's not as many as we had before the tree fell down this summer when I had the boot on last time.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Pumpkin carving

"Son, first you need to listen to the pumpkin. Discover what it longs to be."

"Who needs a store-bought set of plastic pumpkin carving tools? Not us!"

This is as close as Kevin would get to the pumpkin guts.

Andy: "What we need is..."
Kevin: "What we need is more pouf," as he sticks the feathers in Andy's face.

Kevin's creation; he drew the design on the pumpkin all by himself.

What a team.

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Happy Halloween from Officer Kevin

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Don't tell him I posted this

Kevin told me not to send this picture to anyone. I said, "Not even Grandma and Grandpa? Or Mrs. Labanz?" He decided that would be ok as long as I told them not to laugh at it. So maybe it's ok that the rest of you are seeing it, too, as long as you don't laugh.

You can't help but smile though, can you?

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

School Picture

I pledge that next year I will, before the morning of the day school pictures will be taken, make sure Kevin has a suitable shirt that is a good color for him to wear in his portrait.


The photographer made Kevin say, "I love girls" to get that grin and a hint of neck scrunch.
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Monday, October 27, 2008

The bird kind

Kevin and I played Rush Hour, Jr. before dinner and we are missing one of the cars so I substituted a different one of the same size in its place. Kevin said, "Yeah, you just need another 'two-bee' to use instead. Haha, 'two-bee,' 'blue-bee,' 'boo-bee.' You need boobies!" I wasn't sure if he's heard that word used at school before so I just kept my mouth shut to see how he reacted. After my pause he said, "You know, boobies!" I said, "Like Blue-footed Boobies?" He said, "Yeah, like those." Nary a giggle from the kid. Still safe, for now.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


This conversation took place on Friday evening during another of Kevin's playdates at our house. This one, however, was not with a giggling girl telling Kevin she's in love with him.

Note: No weapons mentioned in this conversation were used against one another.

Kevin: I want to use the sword.
Z: No, I want to use the sword. You use the gun.
Kevin: No, I want the sword. YOU use the gun.
Me: Why don't you take turns?
Kevin: Good idea.
Z: Let's do "rock, paper, scissors" to see who gets the sword first.
Kevin: Ok!

I think we adults should consider using "rock, paper, scissors" more often.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A bird in the hand


Today we visited the bird banding project at Eden Mill in Harford County. Kevin helped let go a couple of the birds including this White-throated Sparrow. These sparrows are only in our area when they're not breeding, so they've just returned from up north to stay here for the winter.
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Friday, October 17, 2008


Kevin has a (girl) friend over for a playdate today. I just overheard this conversation.

J: Kevin, guess what?
Kevin: What?
J: I'm in love with... *giggle*...
Kevin: What?
J: *giggle* I'm in love with... *giggle*... can you guess?
Kevin: *laughing* With what?
J: You! *giggle*
Kevin: Don't say that!
J: But I LOVE YOU, Kevin! *giggle*
Kevin: Don't tell anyone.
J: *giggle* Ok, you either. Especially not your dad.
Kevin: Don't tell your mom.
J: She already knows.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I had a dream last night that I was a nerd

Last night I dreamt that everyone on Earth was going to die and there was nothing we could do about it. Everyone handled the situation differently - a number of senior citizens where I was got all dressed up and had an extravagant dinner at the fanciest, most expensive restaurant around. Some people just couldn't admit there was no way around our demise and tried to convince everyone that they had a plan to save us. I found myself walking around, observing the different reactions. I was scared and sad and I slit one of my wrists in an effort to speed up the process - I certainly didn't want to be the last one to keel over and die, watching everyone else do the same first.

After some time, those of us still alive noticed that as the sun was rising over the horizon, nobody had died recently. We began to wonder if we actually weren't going to die after all - 99.9% of the world died, but we were the chosen few who didn't. I checked my wrist and instead of the group of bloody slashes I'd seen previously, there were a few faint scars where I'd quickly healed.

Looking around at the others that were left and who had conveniently gathered together in some sort of town square, I didn't think about why we were saved and the others weren't or what to do with all of the dead bodies or how were we going to choose a group of leaders. No, what I yelled out to the group was...

"This gene pool is way too small for effective repopulation!"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Call it what it is

A few weeks ago, Kevin received a birthday party invitation in the mail. He asked me to read it to him, so I did.


He was excited for the party and had a great time with the moon bounce, play house and swingset in his friend's backyard. The only Hannah Montana items were some paper goods.

When we got home, I commented on how nice it was that his friend invited him to her party and that I was glad he had fun and that he better make sure not to leave that favor bag on the living room floor.

His response was, "It was fun but it wasn't a rockin' party. The invitation said, 'You're invited to a rockin' party' but it wasn't rockin'."
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"I'm picking up your sarcasm." "Well, I should hope so, because I'm laying it on pretty thick."*

After breaking the exciting news to one of my closest, dearest, truest friends, she replied with this comment.

you were THAT close to greatness?

i think that lance armstrong sat behind you in homeroom, too.

Snarky is as snarky does, Elesa.

*Do you know what movie the title is from?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Do you recognize this woman?

Below is a photo I took of my 8th grade yearbook. The woman in the picture was my home economics teacher in 6th and 8th grades. She was really fun, which you probably have to be to teach a bunch of middle schoolers how to cook, sew and wash their faces properly. When I was in 7th grade, in 1985, I had a different teacher for home ec but I remember this teacher being pregnant as she walked around the halls of school.

Her note says, "I'll never forget making those blue & white shorts. That was a riot. Take care & have a fun summer. Much happiness..."

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Can you read that signature?


Monday, October 06, 2008

I change, you change

Yesterday I helped with the kids during second service at church and as we approached the building Kevin said, "I've never been to second service - I wonder what it's like!" We always go to first service but there have been a few times we've gone to second, I guess we just haven't done that since having Kevin. I told a friend about it and said, "So it's been over..." (pause while I consider how long ago October 2004 was, when Kevin came home) "... 4 years - oh my gosh! Last week was our anniversary of meeting Kevin!"

I've been saying, "He's been home for 3 1/2 years" for awhile and hadn't considered that we'd already passed the 4 year mark. Oops. I'm not that far overdue, at least. Today is the anniversary of us flying home from Guatemala, Kevin's first time setting foot in the United States. It wasn't until Oct 7th that he stepped foot into his new house as we had to spend our first night at the Sitnick's house because ours smelled too strongly from having our wood floors refinished while we were away.

Here are links to my posts regarding previous anniversaries. Seems that I missed it last year, too.

2005 - 1-yr anniversary
2006 - 2-yr anniversary
2007 - 3-yr anniversary

How has Kevin changed? Mostly, he's changed like any other 2 1/2-year old changes by the time he's 6 1/2 years old. But he's also grown from a scared, quiet, clingy, eating machine into a social, expressive, hanger-on-for-basic-safety-but-not-out-of-fear, eating machine.

Perhaps the bigger change has been in me. I've changed from a beaten down, life-hating, tired, angry, selfish person who had a kid in the way of her life to a sometimes sparkling, sometimes life-loving, only sometimes tired, and sometimes unselfish person who can say to Kevin, "It's ok that you woke me up with your coughing - I only want to help you feel better and that is more important than me being grumpy in the morning."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Kevin's first catch

We camped at Greenbrier State Park in Boonsboro, MD, this weekend. The weather was BEAUTIFUL and we enjoyed hiking, kayaking, fishing and roasting hot dogs and marshmallows.

This was Kevin's first time using a hook on his fishing pole. He has practiced a lot in our yard with just a weight and is good at casting but never had to be that concerned about hurting anyone. Andy took quite a risk allowing Kevin to fish with him in the kayak.

The first day, Andy caught one fish and that was it. Fishing quickly became boring.

The second day, we fished from the shore with smaller hooks and Kevin caught his first-ever fish! And then he caught his second, third, fourth and fifth fish, too. He exclaimed that the fish was so heavy - I think he thought he was reeling in a marlin.

No pouty, bored face here!

I caught some fish, too.

Andy only caught one fish, but it was a Big Daddy (in Bluegill terms, anyway) - he coulda made a sandwich for lunch with this guy.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

What to do when feeling blue about what usually makes me feel yellow

What do you do when what usually provides you with the most happiness becomes one of your biggest frustrations?

Here's my dilemma.

I love sports. I enjoy watching sports, I love to play sports. I regularly play ultimate [frisbee] a couple of times a week and volleyball once a week.

I spend a lot of time looking forward to games of any sport. I smile more talking about and playing sports than just about any other time. Sports energize me.


Lately, that is not the case and it's thrown me for a loop. Last week's ultimate games were so frustrating I would've walked off the field mid-game if it wouldn't have drawn attention to me and my bad attitude. Last night I didn't want to go to my volleyball game. When I was playing, I would've been fine for the match to be over at any point. Afterward, I didn't feel like talking about how we played.

I'm apathetic about playing but also quick to anger when I do play. If someone makes 2 stupid plays in a row (mental mistakes, not just missing something) I get angry at them. When two people do it, forget it, I feel like stomping off the field. The anger I felt last week at myself and other players was so great that I would rather not play today.

This is coming from a woman who plays even when she has a migraine. This is coming from a woman who has driven 30 minutes home and 30 minutes back to work (during the work day and knowing the time would have to be made up in the evening) when she forgot clothes to play in. This is coming from a woman who knows what each player needs to hear, in order to decide to play on a day that they're not sure if they want to come out or not, so that she can get enough people for a game. This is coming from a woman who knows that she should get home to her family but instead stays for an extra hour of volleyball because it's impossible to pass up a chance to play doubles.

All my life I've had what people might call a "bad attitude" about things like my performance in sporting events. When I was young, I competed in gymnastics and I recall a distinct event when, during practice, I used a very serious curse word at my coach when I was 9 years old.

Over the past 10 years, I've gotten away from some of my more childish behaviors regarding sports, in particular. Now it seems as though I'm a kid again, unable to control her temper, wanting to stomp off in a huff.

Where did this come from? Why is it showing up now? How do I get rid of it???

Friday, September 12, 2008

Needs nobody

This comment, made last night by a dear person whom I love very much, provides a glimpse of the life of an extreme introvert. It was made thoughtfully and honestly.

"I have never missed anyone."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The mental picture is at least as good as real-life

Tell me you can read this without laughing:
(By the Associated Press as read in the Baltimore Sun)

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) A middle school teacher suffered some bruising and a big scratch on his back after he struck a bear while riding his bicycle to school.

Jim Litz said he was traveling about 25 mph Monday morning when he came upon a rise and spotted a black bear about 10 feet in front of him. He didn't have time to stop and T-boned the bruin. [T-boned! Ha!]

He tumbled over the handlebars, his helmet hit the bear's back and the two went cartwheeling down the road.

The bear rolled over Litz's head, cracking his helmet, and scratched his back before scampering up a hill above the road. [I hope he got that spot right in the middle that's so hard to reach on your own.]

Litz's wife drove by shortly after the crash and took her husband to the hospital. He hoped to be able to return to teaching science at Target Range Middle School on Friday.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lance Armstrong to be in 2009 Tour de France!

This summer's Tour de France passed by without any comment by me, at least not on this blog. That doesn't mean I didn't pay attention to it. That doesn't mean I didn't get wound up and excited about it. It just means I didn't write anything about it on my blog.

However, I have to comment on next year's Tour even though it is 10+ months away. Why? Because LANCE ARMSTRONG IS GOING TO RACE AGAIN!

Here is a VeloNews article about his return to professional racing.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Top Ten Things Overheard When the Neighborhood Girls Come Over to Play

10.) "Can Kevin come out to play?"
9.) "Can we play with your cat?"
8.) "I love foamy stickers!"
7.) "Where's your cat?"
6.) "Can we have a piece of candy?"
5.) "Can you go find your cat?"
4.) "Can you play SPUD with us?"
3.) "Can we give your cat a treat?"
2.) "First, we need to clean off this table - it's a mess."
1.) **squeal**!!!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

My ankle is all better, right? Wrong.

Before vacation, I had a cortisone injection in the sheath of my peroneal tendons. It took care of the pain on the outside of my ankle but did nothing for the pain in the back of my ankle, which was a little better from wearing the boot for three weeks. After vacation, I restarted playing ultimate, very carefully at first. It felt ok, so I played some more. After the third time playing, I woke up the next morning with a very sore ankle that was swollen once again.


This week I had a followup appointment with my doctor and told him that the cortisone injection worked for only 2 weeks and did nothing for the pain in the back of my ankle. He revisited my MRI report and said, "Well, the radiologist noted signficant arthritis in there. You should see a specialist yadda, yadda, yadda...." I admit to zoning out when he said there was really arthritis in there. I pictured my grandfather who worked outside and lumberjacked "for fun" as a way to combat the painful arthritis in his spine and not succumb to a wheelchair as his father did from debilitating arthritis. I pictured my mom's hands which are becoming more gnarled as the years pass with arthritis in her fingers, despite the rest of her looking and acting like a much younger woman than she is.

I never found the presence of mind while in his office to ask why he hadn't mentioned that before. I also didn't ask how a slowly developing disease suddenly caused my ankle to swell and made me limp one morning.

Either way, he said I should go see a foot and ankle specialist (orthopedic surgeon, not podiatrist) at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore. Yesterday I decided to go ahead and make an appointment (earliest available is Nov 6th - next available is sometime after January) because I really want to know what the problem is although I had little hope of really finding out.

After making the appointment, I headed to Google yet again to search on ankle pain. I found - THE ANSWER. I discovered a description of the pain in the back of my ankle! It was the first time anything made sense regarding my ankle. The problem is called "posterior impingement of the ankle." Something in the back of my ankle is getting pinched, simple as that. Now the problem is to figure out what is getting pinched, and why, and then how to stop it from getting pinched. There are lots of possible causes for posterior impingement, including subtalar arthritis and an os trigonum getting in the way - both of which I've been told I have. The os trigonum is a bone that up to 10% of the population has in their ankle which usually causes no problems. X-rays when I was much younger showed I have that. So.... I could still have the arthritis as a problem, but how it is a problem makes more sense now. Or it could be something entirely different causing the impingement.

But now I have hope again that we can figure out the problem and work out a plan to take care of it. I look forward to November 6th.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Labor Day Kayaking

Oddly, this Great Blue Heron didn't flush even when I floated slowly by it fairly closely. They usually don't stick around that long.

The front of my boat. Can you find my camouflaged water bottle?

The engine of a train that roared overhead. The first time one of these came over the bridge while we were kayaking, I thought, "Wow, I'm gonna go float under the bridge as it goes over!" Then I realized that is way too scary and not worth the adrenaline. Sitting close by is ok - still exciting what with all the noise and rumbling. This picture was taken from farther away because there were other people watching from closer.

We hadn't been to this area - the Daniels Area of Patapsco Valley State Park - in about a month. Since the last time we were there, this part of the river just above the dam had filled in with a lot of greenery below and on the water. Andy looks like he's in a swamp somewhere.

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