Thursday, December 31, 2009

December 2009 Round Up

Created using Big Huge Labs Mosaic Maker.
Click mosaic to biggify, or see my December 2009 Project 365 Posts.

What books and/or magazines did I read this month?
Wait, I'm supposed to *read* the books? I thought they were just decorations for the built in bookshelves in our new den.

What movies and/or tv shows did I watch this month?
At the Theater: Avatar (good to very good; MUST be seen on big screen in 3D) and The Princess and The Frog (okay to good; missing something that I can't articulate).

On the Tube: No new movies, I don't think, and virtually no other movies. I really can't even recall what we watched for rest time films. We did watch the short series on NBC called "The Sing-Off." It was an all a capella group competition, 3 nights one week, then one night the following week. It was wonderful! We also got Friday double shots of Dollhouse.

What special days did I celebrate and how?
Spent Christmas with my family, as always. Also got to see much of my mom's family at her mom's house on the 23rd, including one of my cousins and his pregnant wife, neither of whom we have seen since their wedding.

What gifts did I give and/or receive?
We received two housewarming gifts, one from our local realtor and one from the realtor who helped us find our local realtor. And as an unexpected surprise, my friend Charisse sent me a beautiful ornament from the very evil site she introduced me to on the board. Lots of Christmas gifts, of course, but I always feel odd when listing those out. I'm sure you'll see or hear about most of them as the year goes on. (But if anyone wants to share their favorite slow cooker recipes, I'm all ears!)

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
I picked up Dad's cold over Christmas, which took about 4 days to become a sinus infection, bronchitis, and ear infection. Still not over it as the new year dawns, but so glad I went to the doctor early when I did, or I'd be "nearly dead" sick by now.

What fun things did I do with my friends and/or family?
Sadly, there was very little that was fun about December. It all felt like work, either at work, on the old house, on the new house, or prepping for Christmas. We only squeaked in 2 movies on the 28th, and even then, I was sick as a dog, so they were enjoyable and distracting, but not "fun fun."

And while it absolutely was not fun, we enjoyed seeing all of DH's relatives at his grandfather's funeral. Obviously, the situation was no fun at all, but it is always so great to see extended family.

What new foods, recipes or restaurants did I try this month?
After hearing about it from so many folks, we finally tried Five Guys Burgers and Fries. It was good, but a bit on the expensive side. Nice for an occasional change, but not a place we are likely to frequent. I had a new cookie recipe to try, but I never got around to making it. Just ran out of time.

What special or unusual purchases did I make?
New fireplace screen (to replace the pile of boxes we were using to block the firebox from the cats), and rugs for the den and dining room (which were delivered on Christmas Eve, Merry Christmas to me!). I also bought several curtains, but they didn't work and I have to return them.

What were this month's disappointments?
DH's grandfather's death, of course. My laptop that stopped working, which meant my CD calendar will be late, and I didn't have time to make my own Christmas card insert (had to use premade, which just bothers me). I also never got to my November 2009 Round Up, which was not completed until after New Year's. I only managed to watch a single Christmas movie (usually I watch quite a few), but it is the best one: Muppet Christmas Carol. We tried installing a light in the dining room ceiling, but there were all sorts of frustrations with it, and after we got it connected and all the way up, we realized that the rod that screws in is too short, so we had to take it all back down. We ended up with no light in there for Christmas (or New Years!).

What were my accomplishments this month?
Another two items off the 101 Things List. That puts me at a total of 28 items for the first year after 38% of the time has lapsed. A few of them I already know won't get done, but I need to work a little harder on it this coming year.

76. Clean the inside of the windows. DH did this right before we got to the next item.

90. Put the house on the market. And there was much rejoicing in the land!! Now to wait for an offer.

And Project 365 is complete. Very hard to believe, and it was quite an experience. I'll do some thoughts on it later.

That assumes that the two huge problematic and now escalated projects at work don't kill me first. Did good on the super-huge hurry up project that is demanding to be complete in only about 40% of our usual cycle time. Other one will be... interesting as it unfolds. Wish me luck; we need a lot of it to hit our target date. I may not come up for air at work until March sometime.

What were Luke's accomplishments this month?

We had his first official parent-teacher conference of the year (the state requires two a year). He received glowing reviews. He is generally well-behaved and very honest (that was news). "He will tell the truth, even if he knows he will get in trouble." And he can't do that at home why? Socially, he gets along well with the other kids. "He talks a lot. He needs to listen more when we are teaching." Gee, I can't imagine where he gets that from (cough). It's not that he's not paying attention. Even when you think he's not, he is listening and can recall what you said. The problem is that it is distraction to the other children. We've talked to him about it, so hopefully it won't continue to be an issue. From a learning perspective, he is doing great! "He knows all of his letters and his numbers. He knows his shapes and his colors. I really don't have much else to teach him." As nice as that is to hear, it is also frustrating. Why am I sending him to Pre-K if you can't teach him anything?

Luke slept until 8 AM Christmas morning. Yes really! No one was more surprised than all of the grown-ups. He seems to be enjoying all of his gifts. Things were going well until the "cat in the night" incident (part 1, part 2). I'm not sure he'll ever sleep fully and soundly in his room again. ::sigh::

Anything else noteworthy to record?
I surely can't think of anything. I really need to just take the entire month of January off and recover, but that is highly impractical.

Monthly Round Up courtesy of Katie the Scrapbook Lady.

Currently feeling: hoping 2010 is a little less bonkers

It's going to be a long new year

As expected, last night's semi-success at getting the child to sleep in his room again was just temporary. He was simply too tired to fight anymore then. Tonight? Plenty of energy and took over 2 hours to get him to stay in bed (somewhere around 10:30). I can't fight him like this for another couple of weeks; I don't have the mental or physical energy. We'll try various other tactics over the coming days. Wish us luck.

Currently feeling: so tired

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Luke update: tentative success?

I'm not sure if we've had real success, or if he was simply exhausted, and I may have just jinxed myself by blogging about it, but I did finally get him to stay in bed starting around 9:30. DH worked with him from about 7:30-9. I took over after that, and it took a bribe and a promise, and as I said, it may have actually been exhaustion that won out, but right now, he's in bed and we'll take it. I told him that if he could stay in bed, close his eyes, and go to sleep, he could open one of the Transformers Mighty Muggs my parents gave him for Christmas. They were sitting on the top shelf in his room, and at some point while trying to get him to stay in bed, he pointed and asked to open one. We weren't saving them for any special reason, we just hadn't opened them yet, so I made the deal: stay in bed and sleep, and you can have one tomorrow.

He did get up again once after that, saying that he was too scared to close his eyes. I went back in his room, tucked him in again, and told him that he didn't have to close his eyes if he didn't want to. He could keep them open as long as he wanted, he just had to stay in bed. Haven't heard a peep since then. His eyes were droopy already when I left him that last time, and I know DH had already told him that very same thing about an hour before then to no avail, so I really think it was just exhaustion overtaking him and not anything really that I said. But regardless, he's been in bed for nearly an hour now. I desperately want to go check on him, but I am not about to wake him accidentally! I am, however, fully expecting him to wake up sometime in the night and be scared again. Baby steps, though. If we can get him to sleep in there, even a little, for the next few nights, I hope he will eventually get back to being okay with bedtime.

Thanks for listening. I'm sure there will be more to come.

Currently feeling: going to attempt to sleep some myself

A suspect emerges

Luke is still terrified of his room. Even with the full on 8 AM sun streaming through his bedroom window, he did *not* want to be in his room this morning. At. All. He went in with me long enough to grab a shirt, but he begged to be allowed to change clothes somewhere else. I left his door open, hoping that watching the kitties going in and out would help the fear subside. Instead, it almost seemed to make him more aggitated. "No, don't go in there, Cleo. There's nightmares in there!" (He picked that up from DH last night, who was convinced that it was a nightmare, even though I didn't think he'd had time to go back to sleep.)

As things have unfolded this evening, we may have finally discovered what really happened. As we were working through all of Luke's objections at bedtime, it suddenly came out that a cat may have been in his room. I don't think Luke was hiding that information or holding it back, I think he didn't realize it until he was "talking through" what happened. "But I saw it! I saw the hatch open, and then Bengal jumped on my bed." Ah-ha! As I mentioned in my previous post, Luke had come into our bedroom just before 3 AM to ask if it was time to get up (um, no). Knowing Luke, he probably left his bedroom door open, and being the Fluff of Opportunity that he is, Bengal likely took that as an invitation and waltzed right in.

I highly doubt that Luke had time to actually fall asleep enough to dream in the time that lapsed between tucking him back in bed and the screaming. That has been the most baffling thing about this whole ordeal. It was less than 5 minutes, and he takes after me in that respect (takes me forever go to back to sleep, too). Here is what we have surmised: either he was still awake, or he was just starting to drop off when Bengal decided he needed to look out the window. Imagine if you will: you are a 5-year-old child in a dark room that you've only lived in for a month, lit by a single night light, and you see the floor length wooden blinds to your left pulling away from the window all by themselves, with you laying in bed not 3 feet away, followed by a bang as the blinds slam back down against the window and a giant dark thing that you can't really see jumps on your bed. I know the thought gives grown-up me the willies; as a child, I'd have been screaming bloody murder, too. I can only imagine what it was like for Luke.

Now, knowing all of this (and putting a lamp with a low watt bulb on his chest of drawers) has helped him be in his room and lay in the bed without being as afraid. But as soon as DH or I leave the room (with the lamp still on!), he is petrified again. I am trying so hard to do what is right for him, but I have warring parental instincts right now. Part of me says we should stay in the room with him, but that is not a precedent I care to set. How many nights will it take for us to ever leave the room if we start that? But would that be faster/better than the constant up and down that we are having so far tonight? (We're at the 80 minute mark at the moment.) I don't think one night of successful sleeping in the room will cure it. It is going to take several nights for the fear to recede, and even longer for it to disappear completely (if it ever does). But is staying with him just validating that fear, telling him on some level that there is something to be afraid of because we wouldn't be staying if there weren't. I have no idea what the right thing to do is.

More than anything, I hate that even though I have experienced such feelings myself, I have no way to help him. Honestly, I never really got over it, I just learned to cope, to live with it. I had a bunch of stuffed animals, sometimes a flashlight, and occasionally resorted to sleeping with the room light on (once a year or so even now, as a married adult in my 30s, I still have an occasional "bathroom light on" night). DH is somewhat frustrated that telling him that it's not real and it can't hurt him is not helping. I know it won't help! But you still have to say it, over and over and over. The only things that got me through many a frightening night as a kid was squeezing my "friends" to death and chanting "it's not real, there's nothing to be afraid of." It didn't really make me any less afraid, but it gave me just enough of a grip on reality that I could stay in my bed until I was just too tired to stay awake anymore. But all of mine were either dreams or something frightening I had seen on television (or read in a book), and I always had that to fall back on. "It was just a dream. It's not real. It was just a television show, it was just a book, it's not real."

Luke's experience was not a dream. It *was* real, and he *was* awake, which isn't helping. Having a rational explanation after the fact is not doing any good at all. "Bengal was being silly. He just wanted to look out the window. He didn't mean to scare you. We'll make sure Bengal is out with us and that your door is closed tight so he can't get in. You're fine! There's nothing to be afraid of. It was just Bengal."

Nothing but empty words to a terrified child. I feel so helpless.

Currently feeling: miserable

Terror in the Night

Time required to go from in bed dozing but not asleep at 3 AM when the child start screaming hysterically, to finding the child petrified but physically unhurt in the hall: 5 seconds

Number of distinct scenarios this mother can imagine in those 5 seconds, ranging from mundane to absurd to horrific: 6 (along with about 50 refrains of "oh my god, please be okay")

I am quite sure those were the longest 5 seconds of my life. I'm still shaking from the adrenaline buzz, and highly doubt that I (or the child) will be getting any more sleep tonight. He is convinced that there is some purple thing coming through his bedroom window. Neither DH nor I can see anything new that hasn't been there for the month we've lived there. No new lights, nothing unusual outside. DH even laid down on the bed with the lights off to see if he could figure out what happened.

Luke had been up just a few minutes before asking if it was time to get up, so he could not have been asleep very long, if at all. But there is no faking the visceral terror he clearly feels at the thought of going back in his room without the lights. We could get him back in bed, but once I turned the light off (he has a nightlight, same one he's always had in the same place he's always been), even with both DH and me in the room with him, the thought of laying down again in his bed was too much and he physically pushed off DH who was trying to hug him and calm him so that he could leave his room and go out into the hall.

Despite clearly remembering being scared like that, both as a child and an adult, I have absolutely no idea how to help him. I, at least, now have DH to huddle up with in bed, but having Luke sleep in our room (which was his request) is not a precedent we care to set. He and DH are tucked in the den right now with the lights dimmed. I'm trying not to add any additional unusual elements to the environment by sniffing every 2-3 minutes, so I'm back in our bedroom (wide awake now, of course). It's been about 45 minutes since I tucked them in, and I've heard Luke fussing every 5-10 minutes, which is probably about how long it takes him to start dozing off. I can hear the fear in his little voice all the way down the hall, even if I can't make out his actual words. Clearly, he is still "seeing" whatever it is whenever he closes his eyes, and I can completely sympathize (the movie SE7EN, anyone?). I see many long nights ahead.

Part of me feels like this is my fault. DH almost never remembers his dreams, maybe once a year at most. I'm the one who has nightmares like that, and I'm the one who, when being perfectly honest with myself, is still more than a tiny bit afraid of the dark. Another part of me simply cannot shake the feeling that there could have been something (someone?) out there. At least at the old house, there was no chance of someone being outside his 2nd story window, but here? It is possible. I find that to be the most fundamentally disturbing aspect of this whole ordeal. I may sleep with the light on myself tonight.

Currently feeling: exhausted

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Move Along, Mr. Cough

Okay Mr. Cough, I've had enough from you. I've put up with you and Sniffle Nose for 3 days now, but once you started trying to corrupt Lungs and Right Eardrum this morning (which would only lead to them inviting Bronchitis and Ear Infection to the party), I called in the big guns. I have Antibiotics & I will use them! Move along now.

Currently feeling: unwell

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

To those who celebrate it, I wish you the Most Merry of Christmases.

And to each and every one of you, I wish you nothing but love and peace for the coming year.

Currently feeling: treasuring the gift of family and friends

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Anyone need a house?

We have a great 3-bedroom 2.5-bath starter house (finally!) officially on the market in metro Atlanta! Anyone interested?

Currently feeling: hoping for a quick sale

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Transfiguration: A Conversation with Luke

It took me a brief moment to figure out what on earth he meant, and then I couldn't stop laughing.

Luke: I have a callapiller (sic) at my [imaginary] home. He will turn into a raccoon and then be a butterfly.

Currently feeling: still giggling

Friday, December 18, 2009

Still here

Didn't want anyone to worry, so I thought I would pop in. I am unlikely to get much of anything posted until after Christmas. Too too too much to do, including a super-hot project I was handed on Thursday. So much for the "quiet period" at work. But I am here, we have gone about 10 days without any sort of catastrophe (knock wood), and I feel like we might finally be starting to breathe and settle in to the new house. I have been making some small notes as the month has rolled along so that I don't forget anything blog-worthy, I just haven't had time to flesh them out into anything more than a few bullet points. (Twitter and/or Facebook is getting a little more info in the "short burst" format, but not much, so don't feel slighted. It has mostly been complaints about the weather. COLD!!) I have a Christmas greeting slated to auto post on Christmas Eve, but that's probably it until sometime the week of New Years. Hope you are all doing well!

Currently feeling: attempting to prep for Christmas and escalate a project simultaneously

Saturday, December 12, 2009

House warming gifts

We have received two wondeful house warming gifts since we moved in. I wanted to give a big public thank you to both of them.

First, we received this absolutely beautiful frame from our realtor Jayme. "I know you love your pictures." It is styled perfectly for our tastes and our home. I absolutely cannot wait to load it up with photos and get it hung.

Next, our "other realtor" Elizabeth, who saw my lament about moving on Twitter and helped us find Jayme in the first place. She sent these amazing cookies that are made by a local (to her) bakery in Arizona. Three each of 4 different flavors, and each cookie is about the size of my palm and over half an inch thick. Mm-mm-mm!!

I'm feeling more homey already.

Currently feeling: house-warmed

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Crazy Hat Day

Yesterday was Crazy Hat Day at school. However, both Luke and I completely forgot come Tuesday morning. He was rather devastated when we arrived and he realized it. Being the amazing wonderful mommy that I am, I made the 2 mile round trip back home to try and find something, even though I really had no idea what I was looking for. As I hunted through the hat collection, I remembered his Cars ear hat that we got this year at Disney. Perfect!

(This photo is from March on the way home from Disney.)

As I brought it into the classroom, his entire face lit up, but the best part was yet to come. I put it on him, and as he returned to the group (they were sitting on the carpet for group time), a chorus of little voices immediately went up: "Oh wow, that is so cool!" Oh yeah, best mommy ever! LOL

Currently feeling: the magic of Mickey ears

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Project 365: Hold Please

Well, it was bound to happen at some point this year, I just had a feeling. My laptop is still not working at present. Not sure what the issue is, other than the hard drive is not engaging (spinning) when I press the power button. I didn't hear the mythical crashing drive noise, but who knows. I think it is still under warranty, but I just haven't had time to investigate, but replacing the hard drive won't bring back my data.

I have a back up of all of my photos at least through the end of October. I may or may not have backed up again right before the move, I can't remember now. I know I have not backed up since. (Nor can I lay my hands on my back up drive, but that's a different issue. It's around... somewhere.) My laptop was also the only computer loaded with editing software, so I can't even tweak my pictures (and I am not uploading unaltered photos if I can help it). All of the photos I took in the meantime are still on memory cards that I have access to. It's just the time and effort to download them and re-process them that I don't have right now. With all the other craziness, I'm not sure if I'll get caught up by the end of the year, but I will try. Right now, it is very nearly midnight at the end of yet another very long day, and I must go to bed.

I am still taking photos, and I shall return. Eventually.

Currently feeling: completely frustrated

Monday, December 07, 2009

Why am I being punished?!!

Oh, for %$#& sake! Now my laptop won't boot. You know, the one one with all the Christmas recipes and menus (replaceable), my Christmas card list that I was going to finish up with this week (may or may not be replaceable), and the CD calendar that I spent the better part of 3 DAYS putting together back in October so that I wouldn't have to scramble come December (don't have the time to replace it at this point). WHY AM I BEING PUNISHED?!! Y'all put in a good word for me with whatever higher power you believe in, because I am seriously starting to think this punishment does not fit whatever crime the universe seems to feel that I committed.

I've rebooted, I've popped the battery and left it out for over an hour, I've done everything I can think of. The hard drive simply is not engaging when I press the power button, so I can't even load it in safe mode to try and save anything (like pictures, which are all still (thankfully!) on cards that I have access to, but I still have to re-download and re-process them all). I'm so angry I'm in tears. I know life isn't fair, but geez! I'VE HAD ENOUGH!!!

Currently feeling: seething

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Empty Nest: A Conversation with Luke

I think this conversation may have been prompted by us telling Luke that we were going to see Steve's Dad (it's his father who passed away), even though he started asking these questions many hours later. Luke has meet him a few times, but the most recent time was a couple of years ago and I'm sure he doesn't remember.

Luke: Why when I'm a grown-up do I not live with you?
DH: Well, after you go to college and get a job, you'll have your own stuff and you'll want to put it in your own house.
Luke: But I will miss you!
Me: You will still see us. Remember that Nana and Papa are my mommy and daddy. I used to live with them, but now I life with you and Daddy. But we still see them a lot. They come to see us or we go to see them.
Luke: But I don't have a car.
DH: You will when you get old enough.

Currently feeling: awww

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

So far, December is not really better

I know, I am woefully behind. Thanksgiving was pretty bad. I had a kidney stone that started killing me just as we sat down to eat our big family meal. Two hours on the hard bathroom floor to pass it, plus a 2 hour nap afterwards pretty much wiped out turkey day itself. Sleeping off the pain meds erased most of Friday for me as well. Saturday went okay; I did get some rugs picked out for the new house, though I haven't had time to buy them yet. Then Sunday as we were leaving, I closed Luke's thumb in the car door. It's not broken as I feared, and he's fine, but it just seemed like the perfect end to such a crappy month.

December has to be better, right?

Or not. Steve's grandmother just called. His grandfather died last night. He has been in failing health for some years, and she did email Steve within the last week or so to say he had been moved to hospice care, so it's not a surprise. Doesn't make it suck any less, though. We were already discussing going down there this weekend anyway, I just hate that we didn't make it. We'll be going to the funeral on Saturday (have to wait for extended family from North Carolina, Washington DC, Texas, South Dakota, and Australia to arrive).


In the meantime, I have to come up with something for both myself and Luke to wear. Luke should be pretty easy. Thanks to Mom, I already have some nice shirts for him, just need to get him some pants (he only has jeans right now). Me, not so much. I haven't worn business clothes in almost a year, since the last round of holiday work parties. I pray they still fit. It *might* be as "warm" as the 40s and raining for the service, and I'm wearing pants, whether it is "proper etiquette" or not. Might also break out the long wool coat I bought back in January. Summer funerals are no fun in the heat, but I think cold and rainy will be worse.

Currently feeling: just trying to keep it together

Monday, November 30, 2009

November 2009 Round Up

Created using Big Huge Labs Mosaic Maker.
Click mosaic to biggify, or see my November 2009 Project 365 Posts.

I can't believe this is the first one I have missed since I started doing the round ups in January 2007. I didn't even get notes made during the month, things were so incredibly insane. I'll have to use my blog and Twitter to back me up here.

What books and/or magazines did I read this month?
I genuinely can't think of a thing. I had no time to even contemplate reading.

What movies and/or tv shows did I watch this month?
Shows were the usual, all in November sweeps mode. Didn't see any new movies, I don't think. I'm telling you, there was just no time! We did introduce Luke to The Pink Panther cartoons, though, and he loves them.

What special days did I celebrate and how?
I spent a tiny bit of Thanksgiving with my grandfather, what portion of it was not spent on the bathroom floor passing a kidney stone. Joy. Much of the rest of the holiday weekend was spent sleeping off the pain meds.

What gifts did I give and/or receive?
I can't recall any off the top of my head over a month after the fact. Nothing noted on the blog or on Twitter.

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
More than our share! The ENT put Luke on more antibiotics and antihistamines in hopes of avoiding more tubes, my grandfather suffered a serious bleed, grandmother was diagnosed with a recurrence of lung cancer (she's never ever smoked), Luke was throwing up one weekend, DH's grandfather was moved to hospice care, I passed a kidney stone, and I closed Luke's thumb in the car door.

What fun things did I do with my friends and/or family?
Star Wars in Concert! It was awesome. Luke's first concert of any kind, excellent music, great exhibit accompanying it. I could not have asked for better.

What new foods, recipes or restaurants did I try this month?
Hey, we actually tried a new recipe at Thanksgiving! One I suggested, and it was good even. Cornbread Dressing from 5 Ingredient Fix. We tweaked it a little, adding some poultry seasoning, using chicken stock instead of water (we also increased the amount a little; this may depend on the cornbread you use), and adding in finely diced celery that we sauteed with the onion. Yummy! Seems like we may have done some other new recipes that weekend, but they escape me 5 weeks after the fact.

What special or unusual purchases did I make?
We bought a new pipe to replace the newly leaking one in the Jack & Jill sink in Luke's bathroom.

What were this month's disappointments?
Almost too numerous to name. Extensive expensive plumbing repairs needed, all the illness issues with various grandparents, having to delay the move a week, Home Depot only sending half of our special order toilet, plumbing repair leak causing the basement bathroom ceiling to split open, some school drama with Luke, having our cable shut off twice in two days when I already had major work issues (can't work from home without internet), having to delay Thanksgiving departure, missing most of Thanksgiving and time with my grandfather. There's probably more, but that will do for now.

What were my accomplishments this month?
I've probably said this before, but this month, I really mean it: purely surviving was an accomplishment in and of itself. In addition to all of this, work was not much fun either.

I did manage a single item from the 101 Things list:

67. Get new bedding for our bed. Mom and I went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and I got a beautiful coverlet set for our bed. I thought I had taken a photo of the bed all made up, but I can't find it, and DH is currently sleeping. I will get one to document it for the 101 Things List. Here is the one from the website.

Project 365 did not go so well this month. I think I missed 3 photos, which is my most ever, and I feel like I had more "desperation photos" than usual. As you can see from the above, we had a lot going on. Only one more month. I'm really amazed that I've managed to keep it up all year. Go me!

What were Luke's accomplishments this month?

His own survival was pretty amazing, but he seemed to time his episodes well. For the most part, he chose to misbehave on days when other things were not going on/going wrong. I know we were keeping him up late and whacking out his schedule and dragging him all over creation, plus the usual disruptions of travel and his sensitivity to our own stress (no matter how much you try and shield them, it still seeps through), as well as some trepidation of his own over the move itself (will you take my bed? my toys? etc.).

There was also some school drama that I did not document on the blog (believe it or not, I don't discuss *everything* on here). It turned out okay. In fact, in a conference with his teachers, he got glowing reviews for both intelligence and behavior, but that was an extra couple of stressful days we really could have done without.

He genuinely enjoyed Star Wars in Concert, though. That was the highlight of my month.

Anything else noteworthy to record?
Oh good heavens, I surely hope not.

Monthly Round Up courtesy of Katie the Scrapbook Lady.

Currently feeling: I've had about enough

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I would like to wish all of my USA friends a very Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are enjoying friends and family today and celebrating the gifts in your life.

I celebrate you, all of you, my friends. Thank you so much for being a part of my life. I am thankful for each of you every day.

Currently feeling: blessed

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Survived the Move

Just wanted to pop by and say that we did survive the move. Our movers were exceptional! The move itself could not possibly have gone better.

Things since then, however, have not gone so well, but we're surviving. (Nothing earth-shattering or life threatening, just more frustrations.) If things ever calm down enough, I might have time to blog again. Not holding my breath, though. Maybe after Thanksgiving.

Currently feeling: just trying to keep going

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Ceiling is Falling

Previously on "As the Gastons' World Turns": We had the cable disconnected by the cable company twice in two days. That necessitated me working at Panera for 2 days rather than at home. I had gotten the Monday disconnect fixed Tuesday morning. DH was left to correct the Tuesday afternoon disconnect when he got home from work a little early. And now, our story continues....

DH called me at Panera around 3:30 Tuesday afternoon to say that our cable service had been restored. It was turned off in the system, not disconnected at the house, just as I suspected. I still had some work I needed to do, and Panera is between the current house and Luke's school. The new house is between Panera and Luke's school. So we made a plan. DH would load up the car with some packed boxes and drop them off at the new house. He would then pick up Luke and swing back by Panera to pick me up. We would go to dinner, come back for me to pick up my car, and head home. Sounds like a plan!

Except DH called me, seething, just after 4. "The ceiling in the basement bathroom has collapsed. Water is leaking from the Jack and Jill sink upstairs."

I can't make this stuff up, folks.

Smidgen of relevant background info: We had discovered on Monday that the county had turned the water on to the house, which was most efficient of them. DH had gone through the whole house checking each and every fixture to make sure they all worked. There was no sign of a leak or anything at that time. Now, less than 24 hours later, the ceiling had collapsed due to a leak, but there was no real flow of water coming from the ceiling, just a very small but steady drip every few seconds.

DH continued: "I'll call the plumber to see what to do now and when he can get here to look at it. Just wanted you to know. I'll call when I know something and we can figure out what to do about picking up Luke and dinner." I was completely numb. My brain just kept shouting "this cannot be happening!" The only consolation is that that sink had been repaired by the plumber the previous week, so most likely, all of the repairs for the damage would be covered by *them.* An inconvenience, surely, but not detrimental financially. My main fear was of exactly how much damage there was, which was a complete unknown at this point. I was also petrified that we would have to reschedule the move AGAIN! (Can you imagine having to reschedule disconnects with the cable company again? I may as well set up a permanent office at Panera!)

Here are some photos of the damage:

Is that a ceiling or a trap door?

Plumber arrived around 4:30, which was actually much quicker than we expected. Based on his inspection and subsequent discussion with his boss, this is what we theorize happened. During the repairs last week, a pipe broke off at the wall under the sinks of the Jack and Jill bathroom. We were having those pipes replaced due to rust, and that one had apparently rusted through to the point that it broke with only the slightest pressure applied during the repair. What should have happened is that the plumber should have stopped what he was doing and explained that they needed to go into the wall and replace the pipe at our expense. Yes, we would have been terribly unhappy about it, but we likely would have agreed. However, the plumber felt like he had broken it, so he should fix it, and at no cost to us. He cut a new length of pipe and soldered it to the pipe in the wall. Problem solved. Except there was a pinhole size gap in the solder, and once the water was turned back on by the county, it started to drip. Because the drip was small, however, it had not gotten to the point of showing up downstairs yet when DH had "made the rounds" Monday afternoon. It took an additional 24 hours of small but steady drips to collapse the ceiling.

Here's the good news (can you believe I just said that?!). #1: The water was dripping directly into the center of the shower in the basement bathroom, not onto the floor or down the walls, so there was no additional damage to the basement bathroom, just the walls and ceiling around the shower. #2: Due to the whole cable debacle, DH had gone in to work early, which had allowed for a trip to the new house on Tuesday that was not originally planned. Otherwise, it may have been Wednesday or Thursday before we discovered the problem. #3: Because the cable guy showed up early, DH was able to work the whole day Tuesday instead of just half a day. This meant that he could now take off all of Wednesday to meet the plumber at the new house to start the repairs. #4: Instead of having to go through the wall in the Jack and Jill bathroom, the pipe repair could now take place through the "convenient" new hole in the basement ceiling, so no additional demolition work would be required. #5: The manager was going to check on what to do about insurance covering the damage. We weren't sure if that meant he was checking to see how to go about handling it, or if that meant he was trying to see if they had to cover the damage. (Likely a bit of both.) However, from what DH overheard of the conversation with the manager, it sounded like the plumbing company would cover both the physical damage and the pipe repair to correct the problem.

So as bad as it was, it had all unfolded in about the best way possible. The plumber needed a special piece of equipment that he did not have with him. He would retrieve it Wednesday morning and meet DH at the house at 10 AM Wednesday morning.

[Quick aside: We ended up at Artuzzi's for dinner Tuesday night. They delivered my food and DH's food to the table, but no pizza for Luke. "Excuse me, he is supposed to have a cheese pizza." Yes, sir, but when we were removing the pizza from the oven, it slid off and hit the floor. We're making him another one right now. ::sigh:: Just the perfect end to the perfect day, no?]

There did end up being some negotiations Wednesday morning with the manager about who would cover what part of the repair. We finally agreed that we would pay for the cost of repairing the pipe that was leaking, since that is what should have happened in the first place. It was also a known fixed cost. The plumbing company would be responsible for the water damage, including any mold remediation and such. I still think they should have paid for all of it, but it was not worth the fight or the possible delay of the move (again). We were willing to pay for part of it just to have it over and done with as quickly as possible.

The water damage company arrived around noon with all sorts of gadgets and gizmos. They also checked every single spot that I was concerned about without us having to ask. DH was very impressed with their thoroughness. They removed all collapsed portions of the ceiling in the basement plus a little more to allow for good airflow up in there, hopefully to dry things out. They also took out the sheet rock around the shower that their moisture-checking thing said was too wet to be salvaged. They set up two huge dehumidifiers/heaters, one in each bathroom, and a fan in the basement that pointed straight up at the ceiling. They'll come back to check it on Friday (yes, the day we move), and we'll discuss any additional required measures (hopefully none) and when to have them come back and repair the walls/ceiling at that time. The water damage people finished up around 1:30, and the pipe repair was done by 2 (thanks to the basement ceiling access). Water to the house has been restored once again. Let's just hope it stays that way.

I am so ready to return to my boring life. Oh wait, I still have to move on Friday!! It's not over yet. Wish us *good* luck! At the rate we've been going lately, we're gonna need it.

P.S. The first person to say "what else can go wrong?" gets smacked!!

Currently feeling: trying so hard to hang in there

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cable cut-off deja vu

I feel like we're starting to turn into a "reality show." Every day is a new drama to contend with, some our own fault, some not. And I'm not even sure which category this one falls into.

As you all know by now, we were supposed to move last Friday, Nov 13. We did not. This change in plan necessitated phone calls to a couple of utilities to continue service at the current house until we do actually get to move on Friday, Nov 20. Now, we are not having the power, water, or gas cut off at the current house, but we were scheduled to have the phone and cable service disconnected. Remember, I work at home, so external communication capabilities are required.


Monday afternoon, just before 2 PM, the television suddenly froze. A message box popped up on the screen that said something to the effect of "One moment please, this channel is currently unavailable. If the problem persists, please contact [cable company]." About this time, I also heard the unmistakable "ding" of my work computer disconnecting from the secure network. No cable TV, no cable internet. They've been doing a *ton* of utility work lately, and it has been affecting both my cable and my phone service off and on for over a month now. Cable interruption usually takes one of two forms: either it's back in under 5 minutes, or it is out 30-60 minutes. I kept trying to reconnect every 10 minutes or so. After 2.5 hours, I finally call it in.

There is no widespread outage reported in my area. I ask to be press buttons until I am connected with someone in the television department. The have record of us pushing out the new connection at the new house, but it still shows us scheduled for disconnection of service that day (Monday). However, she swears up and down that no one has been sent to the house, so we should still have service. I find that hard to believe, but okay. She changes our disconnect date to Nov 23, so that should prevent them from actually doing the physical disconnect (that I still think has already happened, but she still says no it hasn't). She then transfers me to the internet department to see what they can see. They, too, report that no one has been sent to the house, so our service should still be active. "It must be a repair problem. We can have someone there tomorrow during an 11AM-2PM window."

So let me get this straight. #1: You are asking me to believe that even though your own system says service was scheduled to be terminated today (even though DH swears he had them change the cut-off date when they changed the new service date), just because your computer does not show the work as done, you are absolutely certain the disconnect did not happen? Rebuttal: I've issued enough work tickets in my time to know that just because the ticket does not show complete yet does NOT mean that the work hasn't been done. It just means that they have not yet had a chance to close the ticket in the system. #2: You are also asking me to believe that it is sheer coincidence that the day your computer says we are scheduled to have service terminated at the current house is the same day I have a mid-afternoon service failure at my house that will require a repair? Rebuttal: I will admit we have had rather a bad run of luck recently, and while not impossible, I find that theory highly improbable. Guess we'll see.

In the meantime, I am very limited in my job functionality because I cannot "see" any of the systems I need to do my job properly. We were also going to miss the semi-finals of Dancing With the Stars which, though not life altering, is rather frustrating! I actually went to Panera after dinner to download any of my email from that afternoon and handle any big problems that may have come up since my "loss of signal" at 2. When I got home at 9:30, I filled in hubby on all the details, including one I had neglected to mention earlier. Not only is our service out, it also will not allow us to access our DVR. We usually have access to recorded programs, even if the incoming signal is gone. This, to me, is a clear sign of a service issue. It *could* have been that our actual cable box was bad, but that wouldn't explain the lack of internet. DH decides to call again, just to see if the ticket was worked today and input in the system sometime after 4:30 and is *now* showing up on their screens. Nope, a 3rd person swears that the disconnect has not been worked, so it must be a repair issue. If you say so. I just hope that if the physical disconnect *has* been worked, whoever you are sending on Tuesday is not "just a repair guy" but can also reconnect us. If not, and we have to wait for another service call, I'm going to be really ticked.

[Side note: We ate dinner out, taking separate cars. I picked up Luke in my car and met DH at the restaurant. DH took Luke home in his car while I went to Panera. Only after I got home around 9:30 did I realize that I had Luke's kitty in my car! DH knew how upset I was and how much I needed to get some work done, so he didn't even call me when he realized it, he just put Luke to bed and promised to bring up Kitty as soon as I got home. I felt like a terrible mom! But all things considered, Luke handled the whole thing very well.]


Tuesdays at work are very busy for me, but DH has taken off so much unexpected time off work of late, we came to a compromise. I would take Luke to school, then go to the McDonalds just up the street that advertises Wi-Fi. I would work there until about 9:30, then be home by 10 in case the cable fixer guy came early (unlikely, but if I didn't get home until 10:30, I was convinced I would have missed him, simply given our luck of late). DH would go into work an hour early and take a half day off, coming home to relieve me for the "cable watch" so I could go back to some Wi-Fi spot and continue working. Great plan, right? Except that McDonalds does not have *free* Wi-Fi! By the time I finally got connected enough and then read all the gobbledy-gook and realized they were charging (not a lot, but still!), I would have had to purchase a 2-hour block of time and only get to use 45 minutes of it. I packed up and went home. My co-workers were kind enough to supply me with phone numbers of some people I needed to contact, and I did the best I could while I was home feeling completely disconnected from the world.

Good thing I went home! At 10 AM sharp, the phone rang. It was the cable guy; he was sitting in my driveway. (Remember, our assigned service window was 11AM-2PM. Score one for me for being prepared!) He comes to the front door with several bits of testing equipment. I begin explaining the problem, including the part about having to move the move and the computer still saying we were supposed to be disconnected on Nov 16, but that 3 different people during 2 different calls have *sworn* it was not disconnected at the house. He turned and walked right back out the front door and looked across the street to where our cable connects to the pole outside. "It is physically disconnected. I can see it from here." [insert mental string of color metaphors here] "Let me go see if I can reconnect it without having to call a service crew with a cherry picker." The cable was connected a good 15-20 feet up the pole, and he only had a ladder. A big ladder, but still. I was *terrified* watching him go up there, but he did it, which I most sincerely appreciated. By the time he gave me the thumbs up, my television and internet were both working. I thanked him profusely, and he left. I called my husband, since it was only about 10:20 AM, hoping he hadn't left work yet. "The cable is back. Don't come home. Stay and work." Okay, he said, but since he came in early, he would be home a bit early, probably just after 3. Great! Problem solved.

Or so I thought.


I've had my cable back for over 3 hours now. I am typing away on an email, trying to get it out before my 2PM conference call, with the television on in the background. Suddenly, the TV noise cuts out. At nearly the same instant, my work laptop boots me off the network. "It's like deja vu all over again." I am now steaming mad! I glance outside at the street, just to make sure it was not another physical disconnect, but I already have a suspicion as to what is going on. Even though she had changed the disconnect date in the computer to Nov 23, I was willing to bet money that the message had not been received by the service department, so they had cut off the actual service (not physically, but via computer), since the physical disconnect was done the previous day. Again, having worked in this type of job long enough, I have no doubt that when the guy issued the "complete" on the physical disconnect, it triggered some sort of work ticket/work queue to the service people to cut off the actual service, so even though the date was changed in the computer, the disconnect ticket completion notice trumped what was done Monday. The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing, so to speak.

The problem was, I had 15 minutes to be on a conference call, and as of 1:45 when I lost service, I had not yet received the spreadsheet I needed! I threw all of my stuff into a bag and raced to Panera, hoping to arrive in time to set up and download email before the call started. I also called my husband. I was practically spitting the words. "We have no cable television or internet." I thought they reconnected us this morning, he says. "THEY DID!! I bet they cut off our service in the computer once they were notified that the physical disconnect was done. I am leaving the house to go to Panera right now for my 2PM call. You call [cable company] when you get home." I dialed in to the conference bridge as soon as I parked the car, right at 2PM. By the time they got to my first project (3rd or 4th on the list), I was powered up and looking at the spreadsheet. DH called around 3:30 to report that my theory was correct and all service had been restored. Whew!

I cannot thank Panera enough for offering free Wi-Fi!! (And quite comfy chairs with mini-desks and near floor outlets.) They really saved me two days in a row. Funny how I used computers for a good 15 years (1983-1998) either before the internet existed (to the public) or without an internet connection at my dwelling and found computers both useful and fun. Even after I first got online, I really only had access at the college computer lab (no internet in the dorm back then), yet my dorm room computer was tremendously helpful. Since then, we've had a home internet connection for 10 years, and I now consider my laptop practically useless without an internet connection. My my, how things change.

Believe it or not, our trials and tribulations for Tuesday were not yet over, but that completes the cable debacle portion of the program. I'll save the next chapter in my tale of woe for a separate post.

Currently feeling: ready to work from home (not Panera)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Potty humor, but I'm not laughing

Oh yes, folks, there is yet more plumbing drama to document. When we last left our heroes, they were waiting to get the plumbing repairs completed so that they could apply to have the water turned back on at the new house. You may recall that the county turned off the water while we were waiting for our special order toilet to ship from Louisiana. Wednesday actually went pretty well with the repairs, but only 3 of the 4 toilets got installed Wednesday. The "special toilet" did arrive during mid-afternoon, but there just wasn't time to get to it. Since the water was already off, there was no great rush, so we told the plumber it was fine for him to go home and complete the work Thursday (he had been out most of the previous night on an emergency call).

Thursdays are simply crazy for me at work, so DH took half a day off and agreed to meet the plumber back at the house at 11:30. Everyone was on time, and the plumber set about unboxing the very large box that UPS had delivered the previous day. Then DH hears him call out, "we have a problem." As most of you probably know (though I did not until we started down this road), most toilets come with the bowl and tank as separate pieces. You can buy one-piece toilets, but that is not the standard configuration. I'm sure you can guess by now what I'm about to say.

There was only a bowl in the gigantic box, no tank. It had not occurred to my husband or the plumber to check the box that was delivered because it was easily large enough to hold both pieces. The sticker on the outside of the box said "1 of 1," so there was absolutely no reason to suspect anything was missing. When he texted me the news, all I could think was "tell me you are joking." But it was no joke, and I was not laughing. "They WILL overnight a tank at their expense, or there will be bloodshed" was my text response. DH set about calling the store and prepared to kick butt. I, on the other hand, reached the end of my strength and had a minor meltdown (at home, alone). I sat on the sofa and had a good cry for about 5 minutes. Loud boo-hoos, body racking sobs, the works. Then my work phone started ringing, and I had to be a big girl and get with it.

DH was smart to not keep me updated in real time for the rest of the story. I was upset and angry enough as it was. Had he kept me current on events as they unfolded, I likely would have snapped. Not finding the people on the phone to be very helpful (he could not get connected to someone in the actual plumbing department, despite several promises of "I'll transfer you"), DH went into the store himself. He ended up speaking with the original guy who helped us, though not the guy we actually placed the order with. When he pulled it up in the system, he says "oh, the tank is backordered." And you were going to tell us this precisely WHEN?!! They were ordered on Friday, they knew we were in a hurry, and we called Monday to make sure everything had shipped as promised. No one ever said a word about anything being backordered. "We don't know when they will come in. Do you want us to order a different toilet?" No, we can't wait several more days for that. Try again.

So he checks the part numbers. Turns out, there is a toilet in stock at the store that has the same tank part number. "You can buy that toilet, use the tank, then when your backordered tank comes in, you can return it." I THINK NOT!! That *may* have been a viable option if you had told us back on *Friday* that the tank for the one we wanted was backordered. But now, especially after we verified the shipping on Monday? Absolutely unacceptable!! DH looks at the guy very seriously and says, "No. I am not buying anything today. You will open the box and give me the tank I need. You do *not* want to have to speak to my wife about this."

They gave it to him.

The tank fit fine, and is now installed. Plumbing was finished late Thursday afternoon, complete with water upgrade certification. DH was first in line at the county water department Friday morning. "Service to your home will be restored sometime between Monday and Friday next week." Could you possibly be any less specific? But it's done, and supposedly, we will have water next week. And if the county doesn't get it turned back on by then, as promised, I think I might explode.

Are we there yet?

Currently feeling: absolutely frustrated

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Moving the Move

Well, we will not be moving this coming Friday, Nov 13, as planned. Given all of the insane craziness of the last 2-3 weeks, that's probably not a bad thing in the long run. It's just frustrating, especially since it is largely our own fault. We did not get the water upgrades completed at the house in time to simply transfer the water service from the old owner to us. (I would like to point out that I was in charge of scheduling movers, DH was in charge of scheduling plumbing.) We (ahem) did not even get a plumbing assessment until last Friday, though we thought we had a pretty good idea of what needed to be done from our very thorough home inspection. Turns out, a few things were not mentioned, and there are several additional "recommended repairs" that it would be easier to go ahead and do while we are replacing the toilets (which we already knew was required).

The original plan was to have the assessment done Friday morning, purchase toilets Friday afternoon, have repairs done Saturday (no additional charge with this company for weekend work; part of why we went with them), and have water transferred on Monday. We wanted to be sure and transfer the water before it was cut off, since it can take "up to 5 business days" to turn it back on if it has been turned off. The kicker is that we didn't know exactly when the water would be shut off. We figured it was sometime around Wednesday of this week, give or take a day. The seller had agreed to Nov 7 in the contract, but he mentioned at closing that he had extended it into this week "sometime" to try and give us enough time to get everything changed out, which was very nice of him. Only he couldn't remember exactly when it was. But we (ahem) figured if we had the repairs done Saturday, we could take the certification over Monday and have service transferred by Tuesday at the latest. No problem. Except that one of the toilets had to be special ordered because the house is older and modern standard toilets are too big (deep) to fit in the master bath! And it is shipping from Louisiana (that's about 550 miles (890 km) away, for those unfamiliar with USA geography). It won't be here until Wednesday.

Great. Now we're racing the clock. Plumber has promised he can have all the work done Wednesday so we can go to the water department on Thursday. You can see where I'm going, can't you? When DH dropped by the house this afternoon to try and change out the shower heads, the water had already been cut off. If we'd had the repairs done Saturday, we might have made it. Instead, we have no idea when they will be able to turn it back on, even if we do go in first thing Thursday. It's possible we could have it back on by Friday, but Monday or Tuesday next week is more likely.

Now I don't know about you, but I don't really want to move into a house with no running water, especially not with a 5-year-old. That just seems like a very very bad plan. And knowing how government departments work in general, I highly doubt they will have the water back on in less than 1 business day. We could always go ahead with the move but still sleep at our current house, but do we really want to spend all weekend sleeping on the floor in an empty house? I don't. My parents were also supposed to come this weekend, but with everything else going on with their parents (see yesterday's post), they really need to chill for the weekend and relax, not come up here unpacking boxes. The logical course of action is to delay the move. It will also give us extra time to do all those little things (like ceiling fans and such at the new house) instead of having to bust our rumps to get done before Friday. We called the movers, and it was absolutely no problem to shift it out a week. "It happens all the time." So as much as I hate to put it off for another week, in other ways, I am relieved to have some of the pressure off. With everything else going on, I was really starting to feel like I was going to crack. New move date: November 20. See you there!

Currently feeling: bumped out, but not all that upset

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Grandparental Scares

I have two grandparents left: my maternal grandmother and my paternal grandfather (Mom's mom and Dad's dad). Both have had health scares in the last week or so. I'm sure my mother is cringing at my layman's descriptions below; hope I'm not mangling them too badly.

My grandmother had some fluid removed from her chest that had built up on the outside of her lungs. When the fluid was analyzed, they found malignant lung cells in it. She saw the oncologist today, and they said that she does have some cancer activity at the microscopic level, likely a recurrence of the same lung cancer she was treated for back in 1999 (a type that nearly never recurs, naturally). Keep in mind, she never smoked! Given the tiny size of the cancer at this time and the current slow rate of growth, they do not see the need to do chemo or radiation at this time. Obviously, they will monitor her to make sure things don't start progressing rapidly, but if it's taken 10 years to just now start having symptoms, we all hope it will be many many more years before we have to worry about treating it aggressively.

Then my grandfather was admitted to the hospital Sunday with bleeding. He was very weak and had apparently lost a good bit of blood. They gave him a couple of units in the hospital on Monday to try and stabilize his blood count. The idea was to make sure everything was okay on Tuesday and send him home. Unfortunately, the blood tests they ran today were not satisfactory, so he got at least one more unit (that's the last I heard this afternoon) and will stay another night. Hopefully, things will look good in the morning and he can go home. He is almost 90 and gets very confused at night at the hospital. Due to previous experience with him being extremely agitated, one or the other of my parents has stayed with him overnight each of the past three nights. I'm sure each one of them is looking forward to being back in his/her own bed, hopefully tomorrow night.

If you have any good thoughts or prayers to spare, for my grandparents and my parents, it would be much appreciated.

Currently feeling: cautiously hopeful

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Missing the Shot

We spent a lot of time at the new house this weekend trying to prepare for moving day. Luke loves the back yard at the new house and has begged each time we've gone to spend time out there, which is fine, as long as one of us can be out there with him. Sadly, that has not been possible with all the "inside work" we've been doing. But Sunday afternoon, we were unloading things from the car, constantly in and out the back door. At least one of us was out there more often than not, so we let him stay outside and run around.

One thing about Project 365 is that it has forced me to look at my world a little differently and to carry my camera with me everywhere. In fact, I usually feel like a part of me is missing when I don't have it. There are still occasional days when it doesn't cross my mind to take a photo, but those are thankfully rare. I am nearly always there, with a camera, waiting for the opportune moment. But this time, my camera was inside on the counter instead of on my person. At some point, as I came back outside, Luke was completely oblivious to my presence, so I got to watch him "just being Luke" for a while.

He was wandering around, his head thrown back, chasing leaves as they fell from the trees, smiling and laughing the whole time. I was moved to tears watching the pure joy on his face, something so simple and innocent on a perfectly stunning fall day. It was a beautiful moment, and I'm so glad I came outside at the right time to experience it.

As I went back inside, I saw my camera sitting on the counter. For a brief moment, I lamented the fact that I hadn't had it with me. I could have captured that beautiful moment forever. Wouldn't that have been great? Then I reconsidered. If the camera had been in my pocket, where it usually is, I would have been much more focused on getting the shot than on what I was seeing. The "experience" of the moment would have been lost. Yes, I would have the photo, but it would have interrupted the emotional impact of simply "being." Instead, I have a complete unblemished memory of a brief perfect moment in my son's life.

Sometimes it's better to miss the shot.

Currently feeling: blessed

Saturday, November 07, 2009


So you're probably thinking that "frostbite" is some sort of clever title, but in fact, I mean it quite literally. I think I gave myself frostbite this morning. I was using ice out of the ice maker to fill up a small cooler of drinks to take over to the new house. As I was reaching into the bin, my hand brushed the underside of the actual ice maker part. Suddenly, I felt intense pain on the back side of my middle finger (the segment closest to the palm). I thought I sliced the back of my finger open, and I really expected to see blood dripping as I pulled my hand out.

Instead, I saw nothing, which made no sense. Maybe I had just scraped it? I didn't see anything, and I couldn't really feel anything, but it still hurt quite a bit. I could provide no logical explanation. I continued to put ice in the cooler, carefully avoiding the under side of the ice maker, and went on my way. Within 30 minutes or so, the back of my finger started to hurt again, only this time it felt like a burn. When I looked down, I saw a red mark about half an inch long (1.2 cm) and about a quarter inch wide (6 mm). It sure *looks* like a burn. All I can figure is that I managed to brush the actual chiller coils under the part of the ice maker that physically makes the ice and quite literally froze the skin on my finger, which (as I understand it) is the definition of frostbite. It was only in contact for a second or two at most, but yowie! It hurt for several hours, but it has now subsided. It's just really bizarre to think that's what happened.

Currently feeling: frozen

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Star Wars in Concert

My friend Charisse and I, though never having actually met face to face, have been "kindred spirits" for a long time. We connected several years ago over being the family of ministers (she married to one, I the daughter of one), which is something you cannot truly understand unless you have experienced it yourself. Even though we are different denominations, we have become very good friends.

We also have another love in common, though: Star Wars! So being the good friend that she is, she was kind enough to let me know back in July that Star Wars in Concert was finally heading to the United States. I remember reading about it many moons ago, but it was only in Europe at the time. I figured it was just a matter of time before it landed in this country, and sure enough, they started touring in October, but without Charisse's heads-up, I wouldn't have known to be watching for it. I would also like to thank my father for letting me "borrow" his American Express card so that we could get in on the pre-sale. We decided we would also take Luke. What better first-concert experience could there possibly be for our child who has been able to recognizably sing 3 different "Star Wars songs" for well over 2 years now?

In addition to a live orchestra performing select themes from all the films with synchronized video of clips from the films, there is also a travelling exhibition of props and costumes from the films. According to the press release, many of these have never before left Lucasfilm to be displayed in public. I truly wish we'd had more time to look around. Everything was simply amazing in detail. We wandered around for a good hour before the show, and I still don't feel like we saw it all. At first Luke didn't want to even stand near the displays, so DH and I had some fun (hey, we've been fans since *we* were children!). Apologies for the blur in the first photo. I obviously didn't have the flash on (and then the next picture is a little over exposed because I didn't have it set right). And you know it had to be good if I am about to post a photo of myself with just me in the picture.

The local 501st was also there, so there were plenty of characters wandering around as well:

Still, Luke wanted nothing to do with them (other than admire from afar), until we stumbled on this!

It was a truly magical moment. I have never seen a grin like that on Luke's face in my life. Other than the obnoxious kid right behind him who pretty much flatly refused to get out of the way even after we had patiently waited our turn, kept (roughly) touching the droid, and whose grandparents had no desire to make him stop or *move* (ahem), I wouldn't trade it for anything. That was really the worst time we had with people (other than those who felt compelled to stop right in the middle of the already crowded corridors to tie their shoe or something). Generally speaking, everyone waited their turn and was very gracious and patient.

Once Luke had been near one, he was more comfortable being near the others.

They also had these large screens set up with different scenery, which I finally got him to stand in front of for a photo op (but only with Daddy). There were several others, but I correctly predicted that the droid battle would win.

But of all the amazing things they had on display, this was my personal favorite: three pages of John Williams's hand written score! It was the music for the droid battle from Episode I. Awesome!! How sad that there was not a single person near this display when I got there. Sure, it's not as flashy as the full jedi costumes or Han in carbonite, but these oversized pieces of paper were the real reason we were all there!

The concert itself was equally amazing. I knew from the start that this was something we simply had to take Luke to. The music of John Williams lights up his soul; you can see it on his face. (I recognize the signs well, he gets it from me.) I had chills and tears more than once, and sometimes simultaneously. Thanks, Dad, for letting me take the good camera so I could get some properly exposed photos.

The music alone would have been enough for me, but I'm not sure Luke could have sat still for a 2 hour concert that started *after* his usual bedtime without the visual montages that accompanied the music (Charisse, the second pic I took just for you!).

There were some pretty cool special effects as well. Luke was simply enthralled.

To say John Williams is a master of music and emotion is nothing short of a gross understatement. To combine that with the genius vision of George Lucas's universe, and you have nothing short of a cinematic masterpiece that has enchanted generations. Say what you will about the execution of the more recent three films, the actual story and the music are still both haunting and breathtaking. So thank you, Mr. Lucas. Thank you, Mr. Williams. You have given this family at least three generations of magic (starting with my parents), and I predict many more to come.

The force will be with us, always, thanks to you.

Currently feeling: R2 saves the day