Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday

I have to admit that I got this idea from Flylady, but once I found that it really works for me, I've adopted it as my own!

I have a large selection of washcloths (mostly white and simple) in one of my bathroom drawers. When I take a shower, I grab a clean one and bring it in with me. After I wash my face with it in the shower, I then use the washcloth to "swish and swipe" my bathtub and the tile around it. I don't obsess about it, but I just wipe down an area or two, paying special attention to the areas where my tub USED to get dirty first. Now, it never seems to get dirty at all!

If I'm not taking a shower and just washing my face at the sink, I do the same thing -- wash my face with the washcloth and then quickly use the wet cloth to clean around the sink, mirror, wall, toilet or shelving unit. It takes all of 15 seconds and keeps my bathroom looking great!

When I leave the bathroom, I just drop the washcloth in the hamper I keep just outside the bathroom door. Done!

It works for me!!!

"Character of a Happy Life"

One of my high school friend's father passed away this fall. I was very moved by his memorial service even though I'd not known him much at all. As I was cleaning up tonight, I found the program from the service and discovered a lovely poem on the back that I'm going to try to think about as I fall asleep tonight and whenever I need a little reminder about the important things in life. Here it is:

Character of a Happy Life

How happy is he born and taught
That serveth not another's will;
Whose armor is his honest thought,
And simple truth his utmost skill;

Whose passions not his masters are,
Whose soul is still prepared for death,
Not tied unto the world with care
Of public fame, or private breath;

Who envies none that chance doth raise
Nor vice; who never understood
How deepest wounds are given by praise;
Nor rules of state, but rules of good;

Who hath his life from rumors freed;
Whose conscience is his strong retreat;
Whose state can neither flatterers feed,
Nor ruin make his oppressors great;

Who G-d doth late and early pray
More of his grace than gifts to lend;
To crave for less, and more obey,
Nor dare with heaven's high will contend.

--This man is freed from servile bands
Of hope to rise, or fear to fall;
Lord of himself, though not of lands;
And having nothing, yet hath all.

H. Wotton

Sick Day

Poor HandsomeBoy. He started coughing just as he was going to sleep last night and I should have known what that meant. Every time he starts to cough, it goes right to his lungs. So, we did a nebulizer treatment around 3am and he's home sick today. I do have to go a few places this morning, so we're having a nice slow morning; then, we'll take CutiePie to school and HandsomeBoy and I will run our errands. He's not so sick that he has to stay in bed, but he's sick enough that I don't want him to go to school. For one thing, he'd just run around and get sicker, and also he sounds bad enough that the teachers would worry that he's going to infect other kids. I don't think he would, mainly because his coughing is just an asthmatic or RAD reaction to a minor cold, but still.....

So, I guess I have to reevaluate my plans for the day. Maybe I can get a couple good hours of organizing and planning out of this. HandsomeBoy will be thrilled to hang out in front of the TV or play with some of the games at home he doesn't get much of a chance to play with.

Off I go!!!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Y'know what I think?

On the subject of menus and cooking.....

The other night after dinner, HandsomeBoy came up to me with a rather mean look on his face and said to me, "Y'know what I think about your dinner?" I said, "No, what?" He paused for a moment, then smiled that giant luminous smile of his and said, "It's AWESOME!!!!"

How great is that?

Tackle It Tuesday - 1/30/07

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Today, I really need to take care of filling out some very important paperwork! I found a very large fraudulent charge on my VISA card last month and need to complete the paperwork documenting the fraud so that I don't get stuck with the bill! Yikes! You'd think I would have done it as soon as I opened the envelope, wouldn't you? Oh well. There's always tonight!

Ladies Love a Country Boy!

I just heard this song on the radio this morning and almost bust a gut laughing! It's waaaaaaay too close to a history of me and RockStar! Too funny!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Menu-planning Monday

Nancy has declared Mondays to be Menu-Planning Mondays, which sounds like a pretty good idea to me! I know that my week always goes so much more smoothly when I have my meals planned out ahead of time! I'm a big fan of MenuMailer, but I also use recipes I've found online, in cookbooks, from friends or just very simple foods that I happen to like. MenuMailer has worked well for me because it's helped me try foods or cooking styles that I may not have approached on my own. At the very least, it inspires me to actually plan our meals even if I don't end up using the MenuMailer meals that week! If you've never checked it out, I highly recommend it!

Here's what I have planned for the week:

Sunday - Cozy Cheese Strata (toast, cheese, milk, eggs, all baked together) with salad, creamed spinach and baby carrots

Monday - Pork Chops with Cream Gravy, smashed sweet potatoes and steamed cauliflower topped with spicy brown mustard and shredded cheddar cheese

Tuesday - Asian Chicken Salad with sliced pears drizzled with honey and steamed sugar snap beans

Wednesday - Crockpot Stuffed Green Peppers with salad and a veggie

Thursday - Islander Chicken Drumsticks with salad, smashed potatoes and broccoli

Friday - WooHoo!!!! I'll be eating at the buffet on my annual scrapbooking weekend. The rest of the family will be having dinner at the synagogue because it's the annual Preschool/Kindergarten Shabbat Dinner & Services that night. We're all off the hook!

So, what are YOU eating this week????

Manic Monday Meme!

I got this meme from Manic Monday Meme.

Have you ever danced under the stars?
Yeah! Too many times to count! Some of the most notable places I've done so are the Israeli Red Sea Resort town of Eilat, Blue Rocks Campground, a womens' spirituality retreat in the Poconoes, Assateague Island (within sight of the fabled ponies!) and an Aruban beach!

Have you ever listened in on a private conversation?
I'd be lying if I said I hadn't! I don't go out of my way to do so, but sometimes, you just can't help it. Sometimes, it can be a very moving experience. One conversation in particular still lingers with me. It was 1992 and I was taking the bus to law school and sat in front of two men who had run into each other on the bus after not seeing each other for a long time. In the two miles I was their bus-mate, they caught up on where they'd been (prison), their families (doing okay) and started to talk about current events. Magic Johnson had just announced that he was HIV+ and they were both shocked. But, both of these very tough, urban young men said that, after hearing that Magic was positive, they were both going to get tested as soon as possible. Magic's confession had convinced them that they COULD be at risk and they wanted to do the right thing and find out. I left them and their conversation at that point, but I always wondered what became of them and what their test results were.

Have you ever splurged on something you normally wouldn't purchase? What was it?
Not really. If it's something I wouldn't normally purchase, then it's probably something that I don't want, don't need, or really can't afford, so I just don't buy it!

How about you?

Weekend Update

Wow - how can it possibly be Monday already???

This was a very nice weekend! On Friday evening, I dropped the boys off at my parents' house and RockStar and I went out with two other couples. He knows the guys (and one of their wives) from work. The six of us have been good friends for a decade now, although it hardly seems like it's been that long! We always have a great time together and this was no exception. Poor RockStar -- no matter how many things we discuss, the conversation always turns to his backwoods exploits as a kid growing up in a very rural part of our state! The rest of us all grew up in the city or suburbs, so Rockstar's tales seem like complete fabrications to us! Do people actually live that way?

On Saturday, I got up early and cleaned up a lot of the house before my parents brought the boys over. As much as I enjoyed the quiet and clean(er) house, I do miss them when they're not underfoot and causing trouble! That afternoon, I took a nap (ahhhhhhhhh.......) while Rockstar took HandsomeBoy and CutiePie to the park to play. I hadn't even realized how much I'd needed the nap until I woke up! Then, we made dinner and watched Pirates of the Carribean (again) all together while eating popcorn on the family room floor.

Sunday morning saw us all up early because HandsomeBoys' Sunday School class had a family education program that RockStar and I were supposed to attend with HandsomeBoy. Becuase I'm one of the room moms, I had to be there early, so we were all up, dressed and fed before 8am! Ugh! The program was nice and HandsomeBoy enjoyed coloring a pillow case with the Shema painted onto it. That afternoon, the boys had a playdate with a 7yo boy who was adopted from the Ukraine at age 4, much like HandsomeBoy. However, this other boy did not have a smooth transition like HandsomeBoy did. The boys had a good time playing together, but we could see drastic differences between our boys and the other boy. His mom is doing everything she can to find the proper treatments, medicines and behavioral routines to help him along and she seems to be doing a great job. After he left, RockStar and I looked at each other and then at our boys and once again, were so thankful that they are as healthy and happy and well-adjusted as they are. We were prepared for it to be so much harder, as it often is with International Adoption, especially of older children. We were very fortunate to have a fairly smooth transition to family life. Not to say that it was easy, because it wasn't. It was just a smooth uphill curve to where we are now.

We capped off the weekend with a yummy dinner, reading a chapter of Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone outloud and then bedtime. After the boys went to sleep, RockStar and I watched the new special by Lisa Lampenelli, which was piss-your-pants funny. She really is the Queen of Mean, but her meanness is evenly targeted at everyone, including herself, which softens the blow a bit! She's not for the faint of heart or the ultra-politically correct, but she is a lot of fun!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Life's (not so) Little Surprises

My week was pretty dull, but two of my friends got BIG surprises this week!

First, SuperMom found out that her software-dude husband had received an offer to work in Germany for two months and that the firm was willing to pay for his entire family to come with him! They'll have an apartment for the entire time! How freakin' cool is that? So, SuperMom, Dad and all four kids (7yo to 17yo) are going to say Auf Weidersehen to America and Guten Tag to Deutchland! I can't wait to hear about their adventures overseas!

Then, another friend of mine who has adopted 3 children over about 10 years and who was JUST telling me how excited she was that the youngest was starting Kindergarten this fall and was planning on getting out of the house and back into the workforce as soon as school starts and..... well, you get the picture.... Now, you just KNOW what's coming, don't you? Yep - that's right -- she's pregnant! Three months pregnant! She was so sure she couldn't be that she wrote off all the obvious symptoms until she couldn't NOT suspect pregnancy any longer! How's THAT for a surprise?!?!?!

Wow! Life can be pretty surprising sometimes, can't it? Overseas adventures, unexpected children..... I guess we never really know what's waiting for us around the next corner, do we?

Makes me wonder what the next big surprise will be in our life and when it will happen!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thursday 13 - 13 Jobs I've had

* Office worker for my dad's medical equipment rental company. Mainly filing, typing and phone work.

* Receptionist for an insurance agency. This was a temporary afterschool job when I was a sophomore or junior in high school. I actually operated a switchboard! I was the ringy-dingy lady!!!

* Office worker for my dad's party rental company. Also started doing some warehouse work such as washing dishes and laundering tablecloths. It got so busy at one point that some of my friends from high school and I worked the overnight shift! Same dad, different company.

* Driver, then later Supervisor, for a sandwich shop at college. Picture the result if Subway mated with Domino's Pizza!

* Sales Rep for my dad's party rental company. Same dad and same company! But, while I'd been in college, the company had gotten HUGE! It was like walking into a completely new company that happened to have a few familiar faces.

* Speaking of Domino's Pizza, Driver for Domino's Pizza. Hey - it was easy money and I got to drive around a really beautiful area, collecting tips from rich people who were too lazy to cook their kids a real dinner and got to listen to public radio all day!

* Office manager for state office of NARAL. Pretty much just answered phones, deposited donations and sent packets of information.

* Bet you can't guess where I went next???? That's right! Back to my dad to work for his new party linen rental company as a driver!

* Big change this time -- law clerk at a personal injury firm. Great job! Set my own hours, had my own office, easy work and great pay! Loved this job, but I graduated from Law School and had to get a "real" law job.

* Law Clerk on a state Appellate Court. This job looked great on paper and on a resume, but was hell on earth! Hated every second of it for the two-year duration. I still can't believe I made it the whole two years. The only good thing was meeting Princess D, who became one of my best friends!

* Lawyer specializing in Commercial Real Estate Development and Zoning, which essentially means that I "paved paradise and put up Wal*Marts"!!! Stop laughing! It's true! I really did this!

* I know you're going to be shocked now --- RAN BACK TO DADDY! Since 1999, I've been doing a variety of jobs at the party linen rental place including, driver, office staff, office manager, and project manager.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

January Blahs

I've got it and I've got it bad! No, not the flu -- the January Blahs!!! I'm not depressed, I'm not upset, I'm not suicidal, I'm just.... blah. I'm going about my business, taking care of the things that need to be done, but I just have no enthusiasm about it. At work, I'm just spinning my wheels, totally uninspired. I'm willing to bet that I'm not the only one, either -- it seems that many of my favorite blogs and yahoogroups have been unusually quiet lately, too!

Okay, I'm going to go down to the microwave, make myself a cup of tea, then come back to my desk and throw myself into a project. I don't know which one yet (I'll figure that out while watching the microwave nuke the water). Perky needs to perk up!

Anyone else have any suggestions? Anyone else feeling the same way?

Wordless Wednesday

(The original work of art is "Best Friends" by Keith Haring. Appropriate for my boys!)

Catching up with myself

I figured I better catch up with what's been going on before too much more time goes by! I'll start back about 10 days ago and bring my story up to date. Don't expect anything too exciting, though! LOL!

On Friday the 12th, we went to dinner at P.F. Chang's with Trace and Sweetness. We had a great time! Even though RockStar and Sweetness work at the same company, it's such a big campus that they've never met each other before (although they do seem to know a lot of people in common!). We enjoyed a dee-lish meal and had a great time talking about everything, but especially about our respective adoption journeys. I have no doubt that they will be chosen by a birthmother, adopt a wonderful little baby and have the happy household that they dream about! While we were at dinner, HandsomeBoy and CutiePie were at Parents Night Out at their daycare, enjoying movies, pizza and games with their friends!

The following day, we decided at the last minute to go to a Farm Show about 90 minutes away. I knew that it was the last day, but had no idea that they'd already be closing up when we got there! What's with that? If you say you're open until 6 on Saturday, then you should be OPEN until then! We got to go in and walk around, but all of the tractors and most of the animals were already gone! Many of the vendors were still there, so we did have fun sampling all the various jellys, jams, mustards, dips, candy samples, etc.... We even treated the boys to ice cream cones to offset some of their disappointment. This was our third annual trip to this Farm Show and now I'll know to NEVER go on the last day again!

On Sunday, HandsomeBoy and I took a bus to New York City - the Big Apple - to visit our cousin who lives and teaches in Manhattan! I was pretty sure HandsomeBoy could handle the trip and I wasn't disappointed! He loved it! When we first started walking around NYC, he was a little overwhelmed by the size of the buildings, the number of people, the volume of the noise and everything else that makes NYC what it is, but he got over it pretty quickly! His favorite things were shopping at FAO Schwartz (where he danced on the piano from the movie "Big") and learning to ice skate at Rockefeller Plaza!!! My cousin took him skating and was surprised at how quickly he caught on! In fact, he started doing SPINS (freakin' SPINS!!!!!) on his 4th lap around the rink!!! That's just not right! This kid is shaping up to be an Olympian!

I have to say that as much as I enjoyed travelling with HandsomeBoy, I also really enjoyed spending time with my cousin. Even though we grew up near each other and are only about 7 years apart in age (I'm older), we never knew each other very well. I've been so pleased to see her overcome a crazy childhood and family and grow into an accomplished, sophisticated, fun young woman! She recently moved in with her boyfriend and I got to meet him last weekend. I'm also thrilled to say that I really like him and wish them all the best! I'll hope there's a chuppah in their future!

Anyway, back to the trip -- on Monday morning, we went to the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. What an incredible museum! I know that the critics gave "Night at the Museum" very poor reviews, but I wish we'd seen it because HandsomeBoy would have even more excited about the museum then! As it was, we saw A LOT in a pretty short amount of time! His favorite, of course, was the T Rex skeleton and the giant whale. Personally, I didn't know which way to look -- there was just too much to see! We'll definitely have to go back!

The rest of the week was pretty typical - work, school, cleaning, cooking, laundry, etc.... The only hiccup was that CutiePie woke up on Wednesday morning with an earache, which can mean only one thing for him --- another ear infection! So, I bundled him up and took him to the pediatrician. The bad news was that he did have an infection and it looked pretty yucky. The good news was that his tubes were still in place! YAY! The last big infection blew both tubes out of place and perforated one of his ear drums!

This past weekend was fun, too. On Friday night, one of my best friends came to town and spent the night with us! "Zigana" and I met 16 years ago when we were both represented our local NOW chapters at the state Board level. It was trouble at first sight! I tend to make friends slowly, so it's notable that Zigana and I hit it off instantly. The first day, we sat across the room from each other, but were constantly building onto what the other one had said. That night, we had dinner together and a forever friendship was forged! The second day of the meeting, we sat next to each other and had such a rollicking good time that the Board actually threatened to pass a resolution forbidding us to sit together ever again! Anyway, we didn't do anything wild and/or crazy this time, but it was great to see each other again! She had Shabbat dinner with us and then stayed over for a "sleepover", as HandsomeBoy called it! Sometimes, just being with friends is exactly what is needed! Maybe next time we'll go out and raise some hell!

On Saturday, RockStar had to work, so the boys and I ran some errands (veterinarian, farmers market, etc...). They really wanted to play at a playground, but the weather just wasn't good enough, so we went to a nearby IKEA, which has an incredible indoor activity center/playland for kids, in addition to having cool furniture and a yummy cafeteria! So, I checked the boys into to the playland and headed to the cafeteria to enjoy a yummy cup of coffee while doing some paperwork. An hour later, I picked the boys up and we headed off to a Burger King that also has a giant Habitrail-like indoor playland where the boys could keep playing while I finished my paperwork.

Sunday morning, for the first time in nearly two years of Sunday School, we OVERSLEPT!!! I can't believe it! That never happens! The whole house -- 2 adults, 2 kids, 1 dog, 2 cats and 2 fish -- all of us, snoozed away! Then, off to birthday party and then to a model train club open house. Whew! What a weekend!

This week has been pretty typical -- work, clean, cook, sleep, school, etc....

So, there you have it! If you were actually wondering what I've been up to, now you know. If, however, like most of you, you really didn't care, now you also know!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Blogger delays

Not that anyone really cares, but due to Blogger being down for awhile yesterday, my Wednesday and Thursday posts will have to wait until tonight or this weekend. I'm sure you're all on the edges of your seats waiting!!!! LOL!!!!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

6 Strange Things About Me.....

I was tagged by Trace to list 6 Strange Things About Myself. What? Only 6? Ha ha ha ha!!!! There's not enough bandwidth on the net for me to list ALL the strange things about myself!!! Here goes.... in no particular order..... off the top of my head....

1. I am a card-carrying member of the Spelling and Grammar Police! I can't say that I never make a mistake, but I do try very hard not to. Reading minor spelling errors and egregious grammar errors made by others in print drives me nuts!!!

2. I hate getting my hands wet. Hate it. Hate it. HATE IT!!! It's not so bad that I am unable to wash dishes or myself, but as soon as the neccesary task is complete, I dry my hands immediately!

3. I love gefilte fish! Now, most Jews eat "filthy fish" (as I call it at home), but I really love it! I eat it all year round and not just on holidays. I'm eating it right now, in fact! For anyone who doesn't know, gefilte fish is whitefish, pike and/or carp chopped up, seasoned, formed into patty, boiled and then served cold, usually on a bed of greens and topped by horseradish (either red or white).

4. I've never seen a Peanuts special on TV. Nope. Never. I know the theme song and I know all the characters and I've seen You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown performed by local theatre groups, but I've never actually seen any of the TV specials.

5. On the day I started Kindergarten, I was already reading at a 5th grade level.

6. I can't sneeze just once! I usually sneeze four or five times in quick succession.

Wow -- that's just scratching the surface of this iceberg of weirdness that is me!!! Okay, I tag Rachel, Dani and Anjali!

Thursday Thirteen

Okay, cats 'n kittens... hold onto your mittens, because here's my Thursday Thirteen (finally!).....

The Thirteen Household Gadgets that I Can't Live Without!!!!

1. My Foodsaver.
This little vacuum sealing device has been worth its cost a hundred times over! If you've seen the infomercial, then you can imagine all the things I use it for. I love this little guy!

2. My Cuisinart food processor.
I don't use this device every day, but when I need it, I really need it! I can't believe that I ever used to make gazpacho, salsa or harossets by hand! It's a clean, easy and quick process since I got this device! Also, when I made Rum Balls (yum!!!) I actually used to crush vanilla wafers by putting them in a ziplock bag and rolling over them with a rolling pin! What was I thinking? This guy does the job in seconds!

3. My small knife.
You need to use the correct knife for the job, but the correct knife varies a bit from person to person. Me, I generally prefer to use the smallest knife possible for a particular task; I just feel like I have more control. So, my small paring knife is also used for cutting small veggies for soup or salad, cutting sandwiches (on the diagonal, of course) and other quick little tasks.

4. My OXO veggie peeler.
Far and away the BEST peeler I've ever used! It fits comfortably in mind hand, slides easily along the item being peeled and takes off the right amount of the peel without slicing too far into the flesh of the food. I don't know exactly how to explain the difference other than to say it just works better! Try one and see -- you can pick it up at your local Bed Bath & Beyond store!

5. My Pizza Stone.
My friend turned me onto these about 10 years ago. Her pizzas are still better than mine, but the pizza stone makes even mine taste great. Essentially, its a large tile stone that you heat up to 500 degrees in your oven and then you use a big wooden paddle (just like in a pizzeria) to put the pizza crust onto the stone. At such a high temperature, the crust parbakes very quickly. You then remove the partially-baked crust to the safety of your countertop, add your sauce, cheese and topping and return the pizza to the pizza stone in the oven to continue baking. It makes homemade pizza into gourmet pizza! Two caveats -- 1. Use the rectangular stone. It costs a little more than the round, but gives you a little more room which gives you a little more "wiggle room" when trying to position the uncooked dough onto the stone! and 2. Only bake pizza at home during cold weather -- the 500 degree oven and the fact that you will be constantly opening the oven door to place and remove the pizza crust means that your kitchen will also heat up!

6. Filtered water from my fridge.
Yeah, I know most people had these kind of refrigerators decades ago, but I didn't! I LOVE getting cold filtered water at the touch of a button! It's still a novelty to me! And it encourages me to drink more water each day!

7. "Disposable" reusuable plastic containers.
You know the type -- Tupperware created the genre and Glad and Ziplok have taken it to a new level by making them affordable, freezable and microwaveable. As much as I love these for food storage, I also use them for tons of stuff around the house! Look in any drawer or cabinet in my house and I guarantee you'll find them!

8. Zip-top plastic bags.
Ditto everything I said for the previous item and then multiply it by 100! Seriously -- I don't think I could live without Ziploks! I use them for EVERYTHING! How did I ever get through a day without them before????

9. My Gevalia coffeemaker that brews into 2 thermal mugs.
I'm the only one in my house who drinks coffee, so this little device is perfect! When my coffee is finished brewing, it's already waiting for me in my own thermal mug. I just add milk and Splenda and I'm ready to hit the road! No cleaning up at all (well, okay, I do throw the filter in the trash, but there's no soap/sponge cleaning involved!)!

10. My MP3 player.
It's not an iPod, but it holds a gig of music or books on tape. RockStar bought it for me when I was training for the 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk in 2005 and was starting to get bored while walking 14+ miles by myself. I can burn CDs or download audiobooks onto it and walk for hours while getting lost in a story! And there's no extra discs or tapes to carry around! I've yet to break into podcasts, but plan to try it out pretty soon! I'm always a little behind the curve with technology, but RockStar pushed me along with this one!

11. DVD players.
I love DVDs! I don't particularly care whether the sound or picture is any better. I hardly ever listen to a directors' commentary track. And I don't really care how much can fit onto a single disc. What I love the most is how SMALL they are! They take up so much less room than VHS tapes! Right there, that's enough for me!

12. My Digital Camera.
Once again, I have RockStar to thank! I was very happy, thank you very much, with my Canon 35mm camera with all its lenses and filters. I knew how to use it and took great photos with it. I had no desire to screw things up with some digital device. UNTIL Rockstar bought me my Canon 20D. WOW! It's a digital/SLR hybrid, which means that I can use all my old lenses and filters with it and it works just like my old 35mm EXCEPT that it's digital! WAH - HOO! Now, I take all my fancy artsy-fartsy photos, then go through them while they're still in the camera and delete all the worthless ones, upload the good ones and then choose only the best to print! Do you know how much this saves me in wasted film and developing charges???? It also allows me the freedom of shooting an endless number of photos in order to capture a single great one! That's how I got the great photo of CutiePie on the swings from WW last week -- I just kept shooting pictures as he kept coming around the corner! I didn't have to worry about changing rolls or how much it was going to cost to develop all the blurry and crappy shots! I LOVE MY CAMERA!

13. My computer - duh!!!
RockStar teases me that I'm addicted to my computer and to the 'net. What's his point? Ha ha! Yes, I love being connected to the 'net! When I'm offline for too long, I start feeling like Helen Keller! I rely on my computer for access to all the information I need to get -- directions, weather, facts, figures, calculations, keeping in touch, shopping, etc....

So, how about you --- what are a few of the household gadgets that you can't live without????

Wordless Wednesday

HandsomeBoy learned to ice skate last week at Rockefeller Center! How cool is that?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tackle It Tuesday!

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

This is my first try at Tackle It Tuesday and I'm not exactly sure where to start! There's SO MANY things I should be tackling!!! I think I'm going to start with something easy like making menus for the rest of the week.

Friday, January 12, 2007

I've been tagged!

I just noticed that Heather at Barefoot in the Garden tagged me the other day! So, here goes.....

0) What’s your name and website URL? (optional, of course)


1) What’s the most fun work you’ve ever done, and why? (two sentences max)

I worked at a Haunted Ghost Trail (like a haunted house, but mostly outside) as a "random crazy" and as a "plant". Random Crazy meant I got to run around and do whatever I wanted as long as it was scary and didn't interfere with any of the scripted stuff; (btw, neat use of the semi-colon to restrict this to two sentences, ain't that????) being a "plant" meant that I was "planted" into the waiting line and every few groups, one of the guides would claim that she needed a single to join a group and would pull me into the group, whereupon I would pretend to be scared, befriend the youngest child in the group and make them promise to protect me ..... until the third stop on the tour, at which time one of my friends, dressed like a ghoul, would suddenly jump out a tree, run toward the group, throw me over his shoulder and carry me off into the bushes while I screamed pitiously and emotionally scarred that little child for life!!!!!! (okay, yes, that WAS a run-on sentence, but I don't care!!!)

2) A. Name one thing you did in the past that you no longer do but wish you did? (one sentence max)

Yoga on a regular basis

B. Name one thing you’ve always wanted to do but keep putting it off? (one sentence max)

Jump in my car and just drive wherever the road takes me for about a week or two.

3) A. What two things would you most like to learn or be better at, and why? (two sentences max)

I'd like to get better at Russian, German and Hebrew - languages I've dabbled in but cannot speak fluently. I'd like to know Russian so I'll be more proficient when we adopt our next child, German because I took it in college and enjoyed learning it and Hebrew because I feel that I should be able to speak the language of our prayers and the modern Jewish state!

B. If you could take a class/workshop/apprentice from anyone in the world living or dead, who would it be and what would you hope to learn? (two more sentences, max)

I would have loved to brainstorm with Steve Irwin about how I could make a career out of nature the way he did.

4) A. What three words might your best friends or family use to describe you?

Perky (of course), Energetic, Crazy

B. Now list two more words you wish described you…

Organized and tall

5) What are your top three passions? (can be current or past, work, hobbies, or causes– three sentences max)

Giving my family happy memories and educational experiences
Showing people the joys of nature
Travelling, both to places familiar and foreign

6) Write–and answer–one more question that YOU would ask someone (with answer in three sentences max)

If you could go back in time and meet yourself at 10 years old, what would your younger self think of your current self?

I think my younger self would be much happier with my current self than my self of 10 years ago. Younger me might be somewhat surprised to find that I'm STILL working for my dad and never truly moved away from home, but I think she'd be very pleased to discover that I did actually adopt my children and am still very much like that little girl I was. I think she'd also be happy to discover that I'm once again in touch with some of the friends she knew back then!

Bonus: What is one question you wish people would ask themselves?

Is what I'm doing/about to do going to make the world a better or worse place?

Now I tag......

Rachel, Trace and Lillian

Five on Friday - Playtime!

Here's my response to the Five on Friday meme of the week. I found it here. I admit that I haven't learned how to work the memes quite right yet, so this isn't as well-done as I'd like, but I'll get a little better next week, okay???

1. As a child, what was your favorite toy?

Definitely books! Yes, I had toys and yes, I played with them, but a mere toy could NEVER compete with a book!

2. Were you more likely to play by yourself or with other children?

Definitely by myself! For the first four years of my life, I lived with my parents, grandmother and younger brother in an apartment where there weren't any other kids around. All my cousins were down south and my parents didn't have many friends with kids our age. Once we moved to our house when I was four, I discovered that although there were many kids on our street, I didn't like them! As I got older, the feelings only intensified. Phrases like "bully" and "anti-semites" and "juvenile delinquents" and "distant alcoholic parents" come to mind when I think about the other kids on my block! Once I got to school, I guess I had developed a habit of playing by myself. As I grew up, I developed friendships but never had a problem playing by myself!

3. What was your favorite children's game?

Board games & such - Monopoly, Life, Battleship, etc...

4. What kind of play were you most interested in?

Once again - reading or games I could do by myself.

5. How well did you share?

Actually, I share pretty well! I've been very fortunate in life, so I feel joy in sharing!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A long time ago when I was older..........

Since I met the boys about two and a quarter years ago, I've been telling myself that I really should be writing down the things they say! At first, CutiePie didn't talk much, but he implied funny things if you know what I mean. HandsomeBoy on the other hand, was funny even in Russian. He made very funny jokes that even with our rudimentary Russian we found funny! Since he learned English, he's constantly wowed us with the things he says. Of course, I HAVEN'T been keeping track of those funny things. Until now! One of the things I'd like to do with this blog is have it be the place where I record all those little things I don't want to forget. So, you'll have to bear with me occasionally while I delve into the exploits of my kids.

Anyway, CutiePie tends to say things that aren't exactly "cute" but that are very memorable and surprising. He also has a very low-brow sense of humor. For a four-year old boy, that usually manifests as potty humor and CutiePie is a master of potty humor! However, sometimes, he'll surprise us and start telling his Stories. I capitalize it because he can spin a tale better than a professional storyteller! However, lately, he's been telling people versions of a Story that is starting to make me ...... nervous.

If you've read The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, you'll understand why these Stories are so unnerving!

For the past few weeks, CutiePie has been starting his stories with the phrase, "A long time ago when I was older....." and then goes into a long, very detailed story about different jobs he's worked, schools he went to, people he knew, things he learned, etc... The very idea of such a Story coming out of someone so young is unusualy, but it's the level of detail that makes it so crazy!!! He's been telling people that he was a cowboy, a rodeo rider (but the clown saved him from the bull!), a pirate, an astronaut (but that job scared him) and that he's been to Mexico. He'll even tell you how old he was when he did each thing and he says it earnestly and seriously!

However, the strangest Story of all was this morning, when he told me the following Story:
"Mommy, a long time ago when I was older, I had a daughter. Her name was Karen. We used to ride our motorcycles together. We would go "vroom vroom" together and ride all over town with each other."
"That's nice, CutiePie. Is your daughter Karin nice? Do you like being a daddy?"
"No, she's dead now."

And then he went on with eating his breakfast. Now, I ask you ---- what kind of a 4 year old tells a story like that? He doesn't even KNOW anyone named Karen!!! I do, but he doesn't!

I can't wait to hear the next Story about something he used to do when he was older.

On a somewhat lighter note, when I asked HandsomeBoy what was the best part of his day today, he replied "Seeing you, Mommy"!!!! It just doesn't get any better than that, does it?????

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

CutiePie's expression says it all!

A few of the many things I've done so far in my crazy life!

I saw this onNancy's and Rachel's blog a few weeks ago and thought it was pretty neat. So, now that I have my own blog, I thought I'd try it! The idea is that you take this list and then bold print the things that you've actually done in your life. Here goes.......!

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree-------for photo purposes only :o)
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea

13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game (and survived the crush afterwards)
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper

21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope

26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
(well, it was a lunar eclipse)
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment

39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach

50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them

54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater

66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas

86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date

89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds (can I count losing the same 2 pounds 50 times???)
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth

112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours

123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read

136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language

139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair (ha ha ha!!!! I wouldn't dare NOT bold this one -- there's too much evidence against me!)
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

Monday, January 8, 2007

What a weekend!

Wow! This weekend was at times exhausting, invigorating, interesting, and relaxing!

It started on Friday when we had two other families over for Shabbat dinner before services at our shul. It was nothing fancy -- a spaghetti dinner served buffet style, but we all really enjoyed it. Between the three families, there were 5 adults and 7 children (4 of which are 6 and under!)! Add to that my large dog and two cats and you get a very full house! We always celebrate Shabbat, but we don't often have company for it. I'd like that to change, though! It was so nice to have other families over for a casual, fun meal and light the candles with a crowd in the kitchen! I think everyone really enjoyed themselves!

Then, we all went to services because I and one of my friends who was at dinner both had to "work" the service that night. It was the monthly family service, so it was targeted to the children of the congregation. We are very fortunate to have a Rabbi who is extremely child-oriented and doesn't get upset by children wandering around the sanctuary or talking or rolling on the floor! My boys may not be able to sit quietly through an entire service, but they enjoy going anyway! Their favorite part is when the kids are invited to follow the Rabbi as he carries the torah around the sanctuary.

On Saturday, one of the girls who'd been here for dinner on Friday came over and babysat the boys while her mother and I went scrapbooking with some of my FlyFriends. Again, we had a great time! There's something so energizing about being in a room full of women who have many of the same interests, problems, situations, desires and goals as myself! We always have a great time and this weekend was no different!

Of course, by the time I got home, I felt a migraine coming on, so I sent Handsome Boy to a neighbor's house to play and Cutie Pie and I crawled into bed and put Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on for the millionth time!

Sunday began with Sunday School as usual, but in the afternoon, we did something different - we went to the annual Winter Party sponsored by our local chapter of FRUA - Families United through Russian and Ukranian Adoption. We had a great time there! The boys enjoyed the buffet and the music and LOVED playing all the games with the other kids. I don't think that they really CARED that the other children there were from Russia, but they did think it was kinda neat! We even met a little girl who lives near us who is Roma (Gypsy), just like Cutie Pie! He doesn't really know what "Roma" is, but he is very aware that he looks different from the other three of us. I'd like to get together with that family again sometime so that at least Cutie Pie will know another Roma child!

We returned home to watch the Eagles game. I guess we all know what happened with that, right???? E! A! G! L! E! S! EAGLES!!!!!! Go, birds!!!!!

Anyway, after all that, it was all I could do to read the boys another chapter of Harry Potter and crawl into bed myself. I think I'm actually GLAD that the weekend is over!

Now..... onto the week!

Sunday, January 7, 2007

My new title!

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Very Lady Abbe the Coherent of Nether Wombleshire
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Okay, I admit that it's the "Coherent" part of the title that I really like!!!! I don't always feel so coherent, so it's nice to see it officially made a part of my designation (whether it's true or not!)!

Just another manic Monday......

Wake up, campers!!! Time to get back to reality! It's Monday again and the holiday hype should be a just a memory by now. Some of us will have Martin Luther King day off next week, but that's just not quite the same thing!

Let's start this week off right! Have a good breakfast, move around a little more than you want to and get some sleep! I'll post some weekly goals and summarize our crazy weekend in the morning!

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Where the heck did winter go?

Okay, it's January, right???? We should all be doing what HandsomeBoy is doing in the photo -- making snow angels and eating as much of the white stuff as we can before our tongues freeze to the roofs our mouths!!! Instead, what are we going to be doing for the next few days???? Wearing shorts, playing frisbee, gardening, SWEATING......!!!! I know I'm starting to sound like Snow Miser here, but this is ridiculous!
Don't get me wrong -- I love warm weather! There's really no such thing as "too hot" for me, but NOT IN JANUARY!!! It's January!!! I want my snow! I want my sleet! I want my frigid icy winds blowing through leafless trees! I want icy sidewalks and frosted windshields and visible puffs of breath and mittens!!! I want mittens!
It's going to be almost 70 degrees here this weekend! And the temperature isn't forecast to go below 40 for at least another week! That's just not right!
I guess I better go unpack a pair of shorts or two!

Thursday Thirteen

I just thought that I should do a Thursday Thirteen list about all the things I have to do today. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to do it correctly with the meme (whatever that is) and link to all the others. Maybe one of you Blog Veterans out there who actually read this will take pity on me and explain it to me! Until then........

1. Fold 2 baskets of laundry
2. Put sheets back on upper bunk of boys' bunkbed
3. Get ready for my meeting tonight
4. Take a shower and do hair
5. Put new bag in vacuum
6. Vacuum downstairs
7. Take newspapers to recycling box at the school
8. Take plastic bags to recycling box at grocery store
9. Attack clutter hotspots
10. Walk dog
11. Download insurance reimbursement form for eye exam
12. Find new dentist
13. Return phone call to friend

If I do all that, I'll really feel good tonight. And the thing is, it's all doable!!! I just have to (okay, everyone say it with me......) DO IT!!!!!!

Today's goals

I'm sitting here at my desk on my work-from-home day and looking at all my hotspots -- ugh! There's holiday decorations and cards hanging all over and just stuff everywhere! I don't like this!

My first goal this year is to keep doing the good things that I do already (meals, laundry, activities, homework, billpaying, etc....). My NEXT goal is to start chipping away again at the clutter and chaos around me. I know that's a big reason why I just can't seem to think when I sit down at my desk -- the environment is too chaotic!

I've made myself a reasonable list of things that need to happen today and I'm getting started on it now. Hopefully, by tonight I'll feel like a actually made a dent in the chaos while still progressing on all the other levels of my life!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Two days down..... 363 to go!!!!

I'm happy to report that this year is off to a very good start. Well, yes, I know that I've only survived two measly days, but those two measly days have gone pretty well!

I've eaten fairly healthy meals with my family, enjoyed their company, kept up with the household tasks, communicated with friends and made plans for the future. The big red boy (our Golden Retriever, aka "Best Dog in the World") has been walked and exercised. I did a yoga tape before bed on Monday. I've even taken my vitamins each of the three mornings. I don't know why I usually fight doing that, but I do. So, all in all, not too bad of a start.

Yesterday, HandsomeBoy got a special treat at school because he answered all four of the questions correctly during his listening exercise. I'm so proud of him! Of course, I know he's smart, but it's always nice to hear that your child is listening, cooperating, paying attention and/or trying his hardest! He's been doing so well in Kindergarten! I still think that he could have done it last year, but I'm actually very glad that he was on the other side of the age line and HAD to wait until this year to start. In the long run, I think it's going to benefit him. He's the tallest and the second-oldest kid in his class, so he really feels like he's a big boy. Considering he just started learning English two years ago, I'm very comfortable with how he's doing in school!

CutiePie (aka "Goofball"), on the other hand, did NOT have such a good day in school yesterday. He got in trouble a few times because he was teasing his friends, not paying attention and talking about guns and violence. Sigh. He just does it to push people's buttons. He's so good at pushing buttons! He knows that his Pre-K teacher has a zero tolerance policy on violent talk, so when he's in her class, he talks about shooting people and chopping off heads. I don't want to scare anyone here..... when he does this, it's not like he's serious. He says it all in a very comical, silly way that makes it quite clear that he's just trying to push your buttons! So, we had a long talk last night and this morning about proper behavior in school. We'll see if it worked when I pick him up tonight!

Monday, January 1, 2007

A Fresh Start or One Step Closer?

So, here we are at the beginning of another calendar year. There's no reason why January 1st should be any more of a watershed day than any other on the calendar. In fact, days with much more personal meanings, such as birthdays, anniversaries, religious holidays, or the start of the school year, would seem to be more appropriate times for reflecting on the past, evaluating the present and planning for the future. I don't even start a new calendar in January since my calendar goes from September of one year to the December of the following year; therefore, I'm always getting a new calendar in September. Also, the Jewish year begins sometime in the fall on the standard American calendar, so for me, I'm compelled to become more introspective at that time of the year, when the leaves are falling and the warm temperatures are quickly fading. And yet, there's just something about the new year that makes us all want to start over with a clean slate.

For the past eight or so years, my life has changed very much. First, I left my law practice after reaching the undeniable conclusion that I didn't like it and wasn't going to like it in the future. Soon thereafter, we bought our house and started really settling ourselves into the community we'd already been renting an apartment in for four years. After two years of work on the house, we decided it was time for children and, although we planned to adopt, decided to try to have a biological child first. Our reasons for doing so and our two failed pregnancies are a topic for another blog posting, but suffice it to say, that the two years that we tried and failed to create a child were very emotional, frustrating years. Once we decided in the spring of 2003 to return to our adoption plans, we immersed ourselves in the adoption process and research that goes along with it. That was also the year that my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and RockStar's mom was mauled by a dog (within days of each other, in fact!!!). Their medical emergencies definitely helped me have a better perspective on our adoption problems! It was also in 2003 that I realized that we really needed to get our acts together and start living like adults: keeping our house cleaner, being more organized, controlling our finances, etc... If we were going to be parents, it was time we started acting like it!

The first half of 2004 was extremely unpleasant and frustrating as we ran into one obstacle after another in our Russian adoption process. Finally, just when I was ready to throw in the proverbial towel and seek another path, we were surprised with referrals and before we knew it, we were parenting the world's best children - Handsome Boy and CutiePie. Needless to say, 2005 was a blur! I enjoyed almost every second of it, but if it weren't for photos, I'm not sure I'd have any clear memories! Going from no children to two children (who are able to run from you in opposite directions at the same time!) was life-changing, to say the least!

Last year, 2006, I worked hard at getting our lives stablized again. The boys have fallen into a great rhythm with their various schools and activities and are completely adjusted to living in a family rather than an orphanage, I've gotten back on schedule at work, RockStar has taken over some household responsibilities on a regular basis while still working mega hours at his job. On the whole, 2006 was a great year for us all!

So, now it's 2007. Do I have any resolutions? I'm trying to take the FlyLady approach and not make resolutions, per se. I'm trying to look at what I've done well and see where I can make improvements. Baby steps, right? So, on that note, here's some "improvements" I'd like to make in my life:

  • Work more hours. We can use the money and I enjoy working. Last year, I got back into a good routine with work, but I need to be there (or work from home) more.
  • Continue to control our budget. I've been paying all the bills ontime and taking care of those things pretty well all year, but now I need to take a serious look at our expenses and find a few places to cut back. Nothing drastic, but I'm sure we're still wasting money unnecessarily.
  • Read to my boys more. I love reading to them. I mean LOVE it. And they love it when I read to them. However, at the end of the night, I'm tired and they're fussy and I get frustrated. It's so much easier to let them watch a movie and then carry them to bed. Maybe I can aim for every other night.
  • Keep in better touch with those I love. This is a perpetual goal of mine. Maybe the blog will help; maybe not.
  • Be better to myself. Although I try to take care of myself (regular doctors appointments, regular meals, good food, relax when necessary), I know I can do better. I need to work out more, lose a few more pounds and read more books for myself.
  • Make my marriage a priority. Poor RockStar -- I'm always running around, going this way and that, zipping from one thing to another, and he always seems to get my attention (or maybe just my presence) at the end of the day when I'm tired and cranky and worn out and miserable and critical and ready to snap at him for not carrying his weight around the house. It's not nice and it's not fair. This year, I'm going to make more time for him or at least find a little more energy at the end of the day to be a good and pleasant partner!
  • Continue to get more organized and on top of things. I've done so well the past few years! When I found FlyLady four years ago this week, I was at rock bottom. The house was a pit, I had no control of my life and we were living minute to minute. Now, the house is in okay shape (lots of room for improvement, but soooooo much better than it used to be), I manage to get myself and the boys through each day and get work/homework/lunches/projects/etc.... done on a regular basis. The FlyLady system is just common sense, but I guess I needed to hear all of it from her before I could internalize it.

Well, I guess that's enough to think about for now. There's so many other things that I could list, but if I just work on those areas, my life will be significantly improved.

Happy (secular) New Years to you all!