Friday, September 30, 2011

Yes, I Have an Immature Side Too...

When you are raising teenage boys, a point comes when you have to stop pretending that fart jokes aren't funny, boobies aren't hilarious and whoopee cushions are inappropriate for social gatherings.  In other words, you have to admit that part of being an adult is actually embracing your immature side.

Which is why I agreed to frost Jack's birthday cake. 

A week ago, Jake came tearing into the house announcing that he had decided to make his best friend Jack a boob birthday cake for his next visit to Orono.  He then asked me, the resident baking genius, just how one makes a boob cake.  "Get a boob pan," I replied.

The next day, Jake and his best friend showed up with cake mix and frosting determined to make a "practice" boob.  They didn't want to buy the cake pan...they seemed to think they could "carve" a boob out of cake.  It wasn't pretty.

Tuesday I came home from work to find both boys back at it, with boob pan in hand.  Filled with strawberry cake mix, they baked a lovely set of boobs and baked a "torso" out of a white cake mix.  Which is where I came into this ordeal.

Having failed at their first boob attempt, Jake and Nick begged me to frost their next set of boobs.  I could have feigned adultness and told them I am above frosting a "boob" cake, that my time is better spent on "adult" pursuits.  But, I'll admit it, I wanted to say I frosted a boob cake.

So Wednesday I spent an hour frosting, then smoothing, then re-smoothing, then nippling, the boob cake.  Because sometimes being a grown up means giggling with the boys about boobs.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Taking a "Sick" Day

I woke up with a cold this morning.  Yuck.  I hate being sick.  But I do love excuses to do nothing but sit around and read, so I'm taking advantage.  So, on the pretense of "getting rest" and "speeding up my recovery," I'm going to plan on accomplishing nothing today aside from reading a few good books.  (Ok, by "nothing" I don't really mean nothing, I will still do the dishes, feed Ben and myself, prepare dinner, frost a cake and probably vacuum...but nothing aside from those things...unless I decide to take Ben to the playground.)

I started this morning by watching last night's episode of Glee.  (I know, that's not reading, but it is mindless and I enjoy it.)  It was pretty good.  Not great, but pretty good.  (Am I the only one that doesn't really care to watch them sing show tunes?)  After watching that, and getting Ben up, fed and dressed, I hunkered down on the couch to finish Lord John and the Private Matter.  It's a short novel (by short I mean like 300 pages) by Diana Gabaldon, authoress of the AMAZING Outlander series.  (Gonna say it because I have to: If you haven't read these books STOP what you are doing now and read them).  I like the Lord John books, but I don't love them, mainly because they are about Lord John, and not Jamie and Claire and I can't bring myself to "love" anything that is taking Ms. Gabaldon's attention away from Jamie and Claire.  (Yes, I know I have issues...but I'm pretty sure all her fans feel this way about Lord John.)  In any event, the books are pretty funny, well, considering they are mystery novels set in the 18th century featuring a closet homosexual in the rigid upper class, they're pretty funny.  I only started reading this one because I finished The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly (AMAZING) and the next book isn't available from the library until the END of OCTOBER.  I needed something quick, something light, and since Diana Gabaldon will be publishing another Lord John book this fall, I figured now would be a good time to catch up on good old Lord John in preparation for his next book, which, fortunately, features Jamie.  (Yay!)

So that's my plan for today.  Start another Lord John book, do some household chores, and hopefully shake this stupid cold.  I can hear the couch calling me now....

Monday, September 26, 2011

When I Grow Up...

Don and I have been doing a bit of talking lately about going back to school.  The other day I had mentioned to him that when we thought it was time for me to go back to a 9-5 job I thought I would drop off my resume at some local insurance and real estate offices.  I was once a pretty good receptionist and would be an excellent fit at one of the local companies, should they find themselves in need.  And I would love to work close enough to home that I could spend more time with Ben.  Don told me that he thought I should go back to school instead.  Get my teaching certificate and teach, like I had wanted to do when I was in school in the first place.  I thought about it for a minute, but told him I honestly didn't know if that's what I still wanted to do.  I told him I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up.

He was very quick to jump on me about that, reminding me I had my English degree and I wanted to teach, once upon a time.  So I snapped back at him and asked if he knew what he wanted to be when he grew up.  Ten years older than me, he should have a clue, but he admitted he didn't know either.  He's good at what he does, but he doesn't love it.

So we're both stuck now, not knowing what we want to do, how we want to go about doing it and how to pay for furthering our educations.  But we do know two things.  First, Jake has to get into school and get his financial aid set.  Second, something has to change. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Who Is Angus MacDougall?

After Don and I went to the Scottish Highland Games last month, we vowed to start putting money away for a trip to Scotland to visit the Clan MacDougall lands and castle.  Before making this trip we thought it would be a good idea to start working on a MacDougall genealogy so we'd know when his ancestors came over from Scotland and specifically where they came from.  Since it's going to take us approximately our entire lives to save up the money for this trip, we weren't exactly rushing on the genealogy bit.  Then, two days ago, while digging through Don's Nana's photo albums (that have been annoyingly living in my dining room for well over a year now even though my husband promised he'd give them to his uncle after a few weeks....grumph) I happened to stumble across death certificates for Don's grandfather and great-grandfather.  The death certificate for his great-grandfather (John) lists his father's name (Don's great-great-grandfather) as Angus MacDougall and his mother's maiden name (Don's great-great-grandmother) as Jennie Chadwick.  I showed them to Don and he was amazed, he had no idea there was an Angus MacDougall down the line.  The death certificates also revealed another fact: The MacDougalls are from Canada. Canadian Scots? What are you talking aboot?  So yes, it appears that the MacDougalls originally immigrated to Canada, which I believe was actually a pretty common thing, as I discovered some of the counties and town in Nova Scotia are actually named after towns and counties in Scotland.  Go figure.

Now that we had this little bit of information, Don and I decided to see what we could track down on our own about the MacDougall family.  And that has become my new obsession.  I think I have spent like 20 hours in the last two days hunting through documents online and trying to piece together the location of Don's family in the late 1800s.  And I'm sad to say that damn old Angus MacDougall is as far as I can get without another death certificate.  Who'd have thought that THREE Angus MacDougalls were born in Nova Scotia in a 2 year period in the 1860s.  Seriously people, Angus was the best name you could come up with??  Needless to say, since I can't figure out which Angus we're talking about, I can't move much further with the MacDougalls.

So, I decided to look at MY family.  Since my family came over from Italy in the early 1900s I thought we could just track them down and exchange our Scottish savings to Italian savings and go visit them!  That was until I discovered the town my great-grandmother came from was destroyed by an earthquake in the 1960s.  Damn.

So, if any of you HAPPEN to know of an Angus MacDougall born in 1864 in Canada....could you let me know?  Looks like we'll be trying to go to Scotland anyway...

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Book About Tea? Yes, Please!

Well, my plan for today's blog was going to be to write about a discussion Don and I had Saturday about going back to school.  But....I just finished an AWESOME book, so I need to write about that first.  Priorities you know....

So, back in June, Don's cousin Michelle, who's a huge Diana Gabaldon fan, recommended that I try reading Jennifer Donnelly's "The Tea Rose."  it.was.awesome.  Don picked it up for me at the library on Thursday, I started it right away and found that by Saturday, I didn't want to be torn away from it.  I stayed up late finishing it last night, and it was so worth it.

"The Tea Rose" is the story of Fiona Finnegan who grows up in the poor district of London at the end of the 19th Century.  Jack the Ripper is roaming her neighborhood.  Workers are being exploited on the docks and in factories.  Unions are just starting to form, and to strike.  Fiona Finnegan and her best friend/love of her life, Joe, dream of owning a shop together and rising above their poor beginnings.  At this point you should be wary, as I was.  Books that start out with a happy love affair at the beginning are troublesome, obviously something HAD to happen.  And it did.  The rest of the story is how Fiona and Joe work hard to realize their dreams in London and in America. 

I found there was a lot of suspense, quite a bit of action (though that was a touch lacking in some of the middle parts) and plenty of romance and heartbreak.  And lots of Tea.  Fiona revolutionizes the tea industry and since I'm a tea addict, almost as bad as books, this little background aspect kept me intrigued as well.  (I'm actually drinking a cuppa as I write this).

So, thank you Michelle, I appreciate your recommendation, and, yes, I have the next in the series on hold at the library.  With a little luck it will be almost as good as the one I just finished.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ten Years Later....

So first, I have to say, I was completely flabbergasted by how many people last night said they read my blog.  I had NO idea!  So, um, thanks for reading, fellow GNG high school classmates. 

Last night was really great.  Sam and Aaron did an excellent job organizing a simple, yet classy, shindig.  And while I was a bit saddened by the small turn out of grads, it was nice to get a chance to talk, ever so briefly, to almost everyone that came.  There were a few people I didn't get a chance to talk to, that I really wanted to say hi to, and a few people that I only got a quick "hi" to, but not a chance to actually talk to, that I would have like to have said more to, but not much I can do about that now.

But I did get to see a lot of people that I really enjoyed talking to in high school and haven't been in touch with, aside from on facebook, since.  What fun it was to see people and talk to them and see how much, and how little has changed in the last ten years.  I think what I enjoyed the most was seeing that no matter how different a path someones life may have taken, whether they have become super successful in their career, or have a happy, growing family, or be in the midst of the ups and downs life throws at us, the good parts of them, their smile, or the way they talk, or the way they laugh, or their sense of humor, hasn't changed at all.  There is still that familiar part of all of us that takes us back to who we were, and who we are, and who we will be, when, in another ten years, we get together again.

When we left last night, I think the first words out of my mouth were: "I miss having friends."  And I have some friends now, I'm not a complete loner, but I think I miss the familiarity of those friends I was close to and the easy way that after ten years we can still chat about nothing and anything.

I didn't get many pictures, but this is a nice one Gabrielle posted.

Happy Ten Year Reunion Everyone! 

Friday, September 16, 2011

My Garden...The Finale

Well, my garden is pretty much finished for the summer.  It was not the most productive garden in the world, but it did alright.  I certainly learned a lot for next year!  For starters, I will double the amount of green beans and peas I planted.  It ended up getting plenty of green beans, but it was so spread out, I only got to enjoy them with a few meals since it took days to save up enough to make a decent amount to cook.  The peas barely survived, I really only got a few to snack on.  But, Ben loved them, and I really like them, and I think I'd like to try again with more in hopes that even if a few plants die in the heat, a few others might survive.

My tomatoes actually did pretty well, aside from the fact that I could barely keep them upright.  I think I will plant a couple more next year since the spaghetti sauce I made was a hit with the family but I only had enough tomatoes to make one batch.  I will also invest in some heavy duty tomato cages!  The cherry tomatoes were Ben's favorite, he's been eating a few of those almost every day.  The cucumbers did alright...they are rather oddly shaped, but I think that's a common occurrence.  They still tasted good.  As for the rest of the plants, well, it was fun, but I don't think I will be doing carrots, cantaloupe or hot peppers again.

My plans for next year include adding at least one more square foot garden, possibly two, and adding zucchini and squash and beets to my list.  I think I will also try a variety of lettuces...perhaps a bit of arugula?  It's been fun, and pretty easy since I didn't have to battle much in the way of weeds or bugs.  Making my own dirt was worth the hassle and the investment since I spent zero hours weeding.

In a few more weeks I'll put the garden to bed for the winter, digging up a few herbs to see if I can get them to survive the winter in my bay window, and day dreaming about another crop of veggies next summer!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wedding Vows

So I went to a wedding this past weekend.  My husband's co-worker was the bride, and I used to work with her too, back in the good old days when I had a 9-5 job.  It was a very sweet little wedding, but I have to say, she was probably one of the most excited brides I've ever seen.  I'm not sure I've ever seen a more genuine smile, it was so sweet.

What really struck me as out of the ordinary, and very moving, were the vows she made.  Obviously she and her husband exchanged the usual love, honor, cherish, etc...vows, but when they were finished she turned to her three new stepdaughters and made them a vow as well.  It was very moving, she vowed to love them, to encourage their relationship with their father and their mother, and to set a good example of what a happy marriage should look like.  She was in tears, and I think the oldest of the girls (about 12 years old I think) was a little teary too.  And more than a few of the guests were moved as well.

I didn't make vows to my stepsons at my wedding.  Not ones out loud anyway.  I grew up with a stepmother and I knew, to a point anyway, what I wanted to be for the boys.  I wanted to be their mother for them at times when they needed it, and give them space at times when their own mother was there for them.  I wanted to be their friend, when I could, and when they'd let me, and an honest but fair disciplinarian when I had to be.  I wanted them to see that I was there for them and their father.  I wanted to set an example for them about the value of family, the value of education, the value of hard work.  I just wanted them to be happy.  And all of that is still true.

Though my own vows to my stepsons remain unsaid, I really hope that someday when they think back about their lives with me in it, they can see what I had been hoping to be for them when I married their father.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Was I?

It was the first September since I was three that I wasn't in school.  I had the morning off from work and I was (surprisingly) laying in bed reading.  It was a Robert Ludlum novel, though don't ask me which one.  My mother called from work and told me to turn on the tv, a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.  I turned on the tv moments after the second plane had hit.  I told her what was happening, we chatted for a minute, and hung up the phone.  I called Katie.  I asked her if she was watching tv.  She wasn't.  I told her to turn it on, to any channel.  Together we watched, from our own houses, as the towers collapsed.  I will always remember that moment on the Today show, with the towers in the background, smoking, Katie Couric and Matt Lauer talking about whether or not this was a terrorist act and seeing in the corner of the screen the first tower crumbling to the ground and the Katie and Matt pausing what they were doing in a moment of horror.

I don't remember many details from that day.  I know like most of the country I watched the news coverage almost non-stop for days.  I remember watching Tom Brokaw cry.  I remember eating ice cream at Katie's house watching the coverage.  I remember watching Rudy Giuliani speak, the President speak, World Leaders speak.

The next day I went to the cookie shop, where I was supposed to be working.  The streets were silent.  The owner had hung large American Flags over the windows and the shop was illuminated in a somber Blue and Red light.  It was so quiet.  And I remember that night, after going into Portland, there was a vigil at my neighbor's house whose son had died in the attack at the Pentagon.  I didn't know the neighbor, had never met her son, but I went, and stood quietly, watching and thinking.

When I think back, about my own experience, I remember being glued to the tv, watching and waiting.  I think I was waiting for answers that to this day I don't think I've ever gotten.  How can anyone justify the loss of that many innocent lives?  Where does that mindset come from?  I still don't understand, I'm not sure I ever will.

Today I am remembering the innocent and the heroes of September 11, 2001.

This song always reminds me of 9/11 and this video was haunting

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What's Next?

So, yesterday I posted about my upcoming high school reunion and how I am feeling anxious about attending and answering the inevitable "What have you been up to?" question.  But let me clarify, I don't necessarily feel as though I haven't been "successful" thus far in my life, I feel just a bit more irritated that I have not met my own expectations of where I would like to be at this point.  I had hoped to have a fulfilling career, or at least an idea for a fulfilling career by this point in my life, but I find that I am still completely clueless as to what I want to be when I grow up. 

I have been very successful on several accounts, I managed to graduate from college while working full time, raising a family and living an hour away from school.  I'm pretty pleased with that accomplishment.  I'm also quite pleased with my success with Ben.  You know, how I actually conceived him.  For a lot of people it's as easy as "Let's make a baby" and boom, they're done.  For me, there were a lot more challenges, right from the beginning, lots of failure and many, many opportunities to just give up.  I remember at one point the nutritionist I had been seeing for years asked me if I was ready yet to look at adoption.  I had to take a long hard look at what I was doing and what I wanted, and ultimately, I decided I wasn't ready to give up yet.  And I didn't.  I found an office in New Jersey that would provide IVF at a price I could (almost) afford, and I MADE it happen.  We will likely be paying off credit cards for the rest of our lives, but I don't care, I was SUCCESSFUL in getting what I wanted.

Perhaps that's what has me so frustrated right now, I don't know WHAT it is that I want next.  I think once I figure that out, once I find something I want bad enough, I will make it happen.  I KNOW I will make it happen...I just need to figure out what that next step is...and that has me very frustrated.

That's Success

Friday, September 9, 2011

Reunion Time....Yikes!

I'm starting to get a bit anxious.  My ten year High School Reunion is a week from today.  (gulp)  I'm mostly excited about seeing people and catching up, there are a lot of people that I have only communicated with through facebook that I would like to give hugs to, and some people that I only get to see a few times a year that I just enjoy spending time with.  Plus it's been a long time since all us girls were together in one place and I'm hoping for some good laughs and a bit of reminiscing.

There's just one part that makes me feel a bit uneasy, and that's my answer to the question I will inevitably hear: "So what have you been up to?"  Just what have I been up to for the last ten years?  Funny, it doesn't really seem like much.  Yes, I did go to college, and for a period of time I ran a small business in the Old Port with my mom.  I was also a receptionist in a law office, and I did get married, I've been helping raise my two stepsons, and of course there is Mr. Ben, the highlight of my life.  But right now, I'm a waitress, which is far from glamorous.  Don't get me wrong, I love my job, it's exactly what I need right now so that I can be home with my son during the day, and still contribute financially to the family, but the thought of having to answer that question with "I'm waiting tables" really bugs me.  I could just say I'm a stay at home mom, but again, that bugs me too.  For pete's sake, I was voted most likely to succeed, and all I can say for myself is that I can successfully change diapers and not drop a tray of drinks?  It bugs me just a little.  I would like to say that I have done more with the last ten years, but I guess I just haven't.  I'll have to make some definite plans for the next ten years.  I'm pretty sure success takes more than ten years anyway...right?

I suppose I'll just have to make up for it with my dazzling personality and a stunning dress.  Now to find that dress and polish up my personality....I guess I've got a busy week ahead of me.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Electricity Junkies

I have always loved "pioneers."  I was a huge fan of The Little House on the Prairie books, I loved playing The Oregon Trail on the old school Apples in elementary school and even now I love reading about people living centuries ago going about their day to day business without cars, tvs and electricity.

Reading.  Not participating.  I do not want to LIVE like a pioneer.  Washing my husband's "unmentionables" by hand is NOT my idea of a good morning.  Fortunately my mother had her power this week and I invited myself over to do a load of laundry.  And take a shower.  And give the baby a bath.  And eat food that had not been sitting in a tepid refrigerator.

I am so not a pioneer.

The lovely hurricane Irene (who I thought was a pretty sad excuse for a hurricane) knocked my power out Sunday at one and left us in the dark until Wednesday at 4:30.  That's 75 1/2 hours without electricity.  With a fridge and freezer full of food.  With a one year old who likes to throw flashlights and play with candles.  With teenagers that are dependant on the internet and tv.  And dangerously low levels of clean underpants.  So, no, it was not fun, and, no, I'm not the only one who isn't a fan of pioneering it.

We're electricity junkies at my house.  And we're ok with that.