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

Monday, November 02, 2009

Full Moon: A Conversation with Luke

On the way home this evening, Luke noticed the beautiful full moon hanging low on the horizon and looking especially large and lovely. I have to agree that his explanation as to why makes much more sense than mine!

Luke: The moon is really big tonight!
Me: Yes, it does look big tonight.
Luke: Why sometimes it's bigger and sometimes it's smaller?
Me (trying to answer honestly): Well, the moon doesn't actually change size. It's always the same. It just looks bigger or smaller sometimes, like an airplane up in the air.
Luke: But it's bigger tonight!
Me: It does look bigger tonight, but it's really not. When things look different than what you know is real, that is called an optical illusion. What you're seeing isn't really real. [NOTE: I didn't really expect him to understand, but I did want to start introducing the concept.]
::a silent pause of several seconds; I could practically hear the wheels turning::
Luke: Maybe the astronauts filled it up with air, or gave it extra food.

Currently feeling: appreciating my son's perspective on the world