Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gas Stations

On our car trip back from the East Coast this summer, we stopped at a handful of gas stations to "fill up."  At one of the stations that we stopped at, as the hubby was getting ready to hop out and pump the gas, we heard something that sounded like someone was yelling at us.  I thought maybe it was somebody saying we cut them off at the pump :(  As it turned out, it was an attendant at the gas station asking us what kind of gas we wanted!  It was a full-service gas station :)  Wow, I don't even know the last time I saw one of those!!  Back in the day (I was born in 1963), that's they way all gas stations were, now most are self-serve. They remodeled the gas station that I frequent the most in town.  A few weeks ago when I was pumping gas into our van I took a look at the pump.  It had a screen attached to the pump with advertisements for the various products you could buy inside the gas station going across the screen. Pretty clever marketing - you kind of have to look at it while you're pumping the gas :)  Inside the station, you could buy just about anything!  In a way it's kind of good, what if you were on your way home, but needed some milk.  It's usually more expensive, but it's definitely convenient. Most of the gas stations I remember going to growing up had restrooms and possibly a little stand where you could get the newspaper, some chips, candy bars or soda pop.  I've seen more than one gas station with  a restaurant attached to it.  I do like that I don't have to go inside to pay for my gas.  Especially if I have one or both of the kids with me.  That's a convenience I definitely like!  If you can remember the days of full-service gas stations, do you miss having them? I think most people these days are so busy, they probably prefer just getting their gas by themselves and keep on going!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Water "Babies"

We went to the beach over the weekend.  When we told Dominic we were planning on going to the beach, he thought we were going to Jamaica.  That is where we went at Spring Break and I had to explain to him that we didn't need to go all the way down  there just to go to a beach :)  As soon as we put all of our stuff down on our beach blanket, he couldn't wait to take off his shoes, etc. and run right into the water.

The waves were relatively tame and Dominic had a great time body "surfing."  He got wiped out once, but quickly recovered.  A few times I tried to lift him up before a big wave came and he got kind of mad at me because he wanted  to ride the "wave."  Lauren, Dominic and I are big water "babies."  I grew up going to the beaches of the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  Near a beach or the water is still where I am the happiest.  Even now, that is my favorite kind of vacation.  This summer has most definitely been the hottest one I can remember since we have been living in the Midwest.  We had several days in the 90's, which is pretty unusual.  Dominic spent a lot of time indoors this summer.  Lately he has been telling me, "headache, stomachache, shade."  I think he's trying to tell me that the sun has just been too hot for him this summer and it doesn't make him feel well.  It was a warm day at the beach yesterday, but kind of overcast, so it was good.  We have toyed with the idea of joining a pool, but we like hanging out in our backyard with a sprinkler and a hose.  I bought a Slip 'N Slide a few years ago and the hubby and I have even tried it a few times.  Thank goodness Lauren didn't take a picture of that :)  This is Dominic's favorite thing to do, pick up a bucket, fill it with water and toss the water at whoever is the closest.

He has tried to throw the water (including the bucket) at us and we have had to tell him you don't need to include the bucket when you're tossing water at somebody! See the little smirk on his face, he knows EXACTLY what he is doing :)

We belonged to a pool when I was growing up and it was okay, but it was always so crowded :)  To me all you need is a hose and a sprinkler to have a good time.

I heard  on the radio this morning that the temperatures will be in the 80's and 90's this weekend. I know where we'll be - the backyard!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

School Pictures

This week was Lauren's first week of her junior year of high school.  She had to get her school pictures done on Monday.  I was thinking school pictures have come a pretty long way from the days when I would get my picture taken.  Usually it was one and done! Take one picture and the photographer would say, "next!"  Below is my senior picture.  As you can tell,  I was a big fan of perms. I really wish a friend would have handed me a comb and mirror before I got this picture taken. The only thing I see whenever I look at this picture is my bald spot right in the middle of my forehead. That, and my shiny lip gloss!

Now, you can add all kinds of features when you're getting your pictures taken.  The most expensive package Lauren's school was offering was $58.  That doesn't include "extras" like a premium retouch for an additional $12 :)  You can even get the pictures on a CD! When Dominic first started school he had his pictures taken.  They took a picture with him crying and snot coming out of his nose.  I promptly sent those back!! Yikes, why in the world would I want that picture?!?  Next summer, we will be getting Lauren's senior pictures done.  It's kind of exciting to be thinking about that.  I'm a big picture person.  On my mantelpiece right now I have a bunch of pictures in frames.  I love looking at them.  I carry around pictures in my purse.  Isn't that usually one of the first things a person will ask you? do you have any pictures of the kids?  I'm hoping that Lauren's junior pictures turned out well.  Dominic is the one whose school pictures don't always turn out the way I would like them :) I'll take this picture any day over the "snot" picture, though!

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Reminder

I got a "reminder" recently of how far Dominic has come and yet how far he has to go as far as communicating.  Last Thursday was his last day of summer school.  When he got off his bus in the early afternoon, he seemed okay, but as the afternoon wore on, he became extremely disoriented.  I could not get him to look at me when I called his name and when I asked him to turn on the microwave, even though I was telling him where the start button was he kept reaching above the button.  He has turned on the microwave numerous times, so the fact he couldn't do it on top of him being really disoriented really freaked me out.  I was thinking maybe he was having a mini-stroke. Yes, it was that scary :( The only other time he acted like this was on a Saturday morning a few years ago.  He woke up normally, but late morning, he started staggering around, collapsed and we called 911 and had an ambulance come because I thought he was having a seizure.  After some testing (and a visit to the local hospital), it was determined he gets migraines.  He had another migraine shortly after the 911 adventure and this time, I let him lie down on the couch and rest/sleep until he felt better.  Dominic has gotten really good at telling us when something hurts.  A few weeks ago, he went looking for a Band-Aid.  He used to despise them, but within the past couple of years he has gone to the other extreme - always wanting one!!  I asked him why he wanted a Band-Aid, he said his eye hurt.  He put a Band-Aid over his eye for a few hours until it started feeling better.  I guess in his mind, a Band-Aid means it will make something hurt feel better.  When he was acting so disoriented this time, I could get his attention briefly and then lose it again.  We have gotten so used to him being able to communicate with us, to let us know how he is feeling, the fact that I couldn't have him tell me had me really scared. What we finally figured out around dinnertime, was that he was most likely very hungry, very thirsty or had another migraine.  At school on Thursday, they had made sugar cookies and I'm thinking he mostly ate that and not his lunch.  Too much sugar was most likely the culprit.  I think as parents we worry about our kids.  I worry extra about Dominic because of his special needs. I will keep working on teaching him to let us know when he isn't feeling well. He has come a really long way communicating his needs and wants, but he still has loads to go.  Dominic was feeling like himself again by the weekend, thank goodness!! He really likes to keep us on our toes :)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Me vs. the Wasps

Before I moved to the Midwest, I had never seen wasps build a nest in the ground.  About two or three years ago, the wasps built a nest in the ground of our front yard.  I needed to mow our lawn, so I figured running the mower over it would suck them all up or the noise would keep them in the ground until after I was done mowing.  Little did I know!! As soon as I got near it with the mower, a bunch of them flew out of the nest and started chasing me around the yard!!  I got stung about six times :(  This year, they decided to mess with me a little and build a nest in our backyard.  See the picture below.

On Friday night, I squirted some wasp and hornet spray into the hole, thinking it would take care of the problem.  Well, no such luck.  I think the wasps invited all their buddies from neighboring yards to come visit the hole in our backyard on Saturday morning, on into the afternoon.  Mid-afternoon on Saturday, the kids and I were hanging out minding our own business and one of the wasps flew over to the little pool I had set up for Dominic. That same wasp landed on my foot, but Lauren told me in enough time before it stung me. On Saturday night,  I decided to squirt some more spray into the hole.  Stay tuned to find out what happened!!

*Update - the spray did absolutely nothing, so I decided to just leave the wasp hole alone for the time being!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Love and Hugs

This past Sunday, Dominic came up to me while I was sitting in the family room and said for the first time, "mommy, I love you!" followed by a hug.  It took everything in me not to start crying like a baby :)   Sure, he's been giving me tons of kisses lately, but him telling me he loved me, spontaneously, without me prompting him was a MAJOR milestone. Some parents of children with autism wait a lifetime to hear those words, some never hear those words.  I feel blessed I only had to wait eight years :)  I remember a friend of mine telling me that she had to "teach" her autistic daughter to hug.  Wow, Dominic for a long time has been a pretty affectionate type of guy.  I consider myself lucky that he does like to hug and kiss.  I think my heart would break in half  if he didn't want me to hug or kiss him. Dominic is still small enough to sit on my lap and cuddle. I know that won't last forever, and believe me, I am savoring every moment of those "cuddle" moments (just like I did when Lauren was little).  When I first met my stepson, he would snuggle on my lap - he's way too big to do that now - he'll be 29 in January!!  We only see my stepson once or twice a year, he's a busy guy with his own career.  When he does come to visit, the first thing he gets from me is a hug and the last thing I give him when he leaves is a hug.  We say, "I love you" and dispense hugs a lot in our house.  Earlier this week, I ran into a  friend of mine that I hadn't seen in a while and we greeted each other with a hug :)  Most people shake hands, I hug!  If I know you, you're getting a hug!  Very few if any people have ever backed away from me.  The power of physical touch is amazing.  When my mother-in-law spent two weeks in the hospital and then was moved to hospice, I would hold her hand.  She was very ill and couldn't squeeze my hand back, but she knew I was there.  She has only been gone less than two years, but I miss those hugs with her.

 Tell those special people in your life how much you love them and give them a hug.  It's a win-win!!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

House "Rules"

I was thinking the other day about an old friend of Lauren's that she used to have frequent play dates with.  This little girl would run full blast through the rooms of our house.  When she would visit, I would have to gently remind her no running was allowed inside our house.  It was one of our "rules."  Maybe she was allowed to run at her own house and thought it was okay here.  Different house, different rules.  When you're a guest in another family's home, you follow that family's rules. In some families there is no set bedtime, others have very strict bedtimes. I think having a set bedtime for the school year is a good rule, kids crave routine. Some families only eat their meals at the kitchen table, others eat wherever!  A major rule when I was growing up was no television or radio could be on during mealtimes.  The hubby grew up in a household where the television or radio was always on!!  That took some getting used to when we would visit the in-laws.  They had their radio on the kitchen table :)  I haven't gone as far as typing up a list of rules, laminating and posting it, but if that works for your family, I say go for it!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Needing to "Censor" My Kid's Books??

Dominic started walking around saying, "shut up" to us a week or so ago.  We don't use that kind of language around here, so I was racking my brain trying to figure out where he would have heard it.  After listening to him read his favorite Thomas the Tank Engine book, I realized he got that phrase from one of the stories!!  Since he gets a reaction every time he says it, he thinks it's funny to say it.  He'll go around saying, "shut up" to all of us, smirk and then laugh.  I decided since he can read the Thomas book to himself, I better do something about it.  So, I took a pencil, crossed out "shut up" and put "be quiet." Lauren used to love the "Junie B. Jones" series of books when she was in elementary school.  It was written the way an elementary school girl spoke (not proper English).  I kept wanting to say the sentence the right way, but I guess that was the charm of the book.  I'm glad the hubby was the one that used to read that book to her most of the time!! I guess the other thing that bugged me about that book was that the little girl "Junie" could really be quite sassy at times.  That's my new favorite word, "sassy."  It's not a word you hear all too often.  I guess it's a word more from my childhood :)  Has anyone read the "Hunger Games?"  I read recently that the American Library Association has it number three on the top ten list of "challenged" books for 2011.   The classic, "To Kill a Mockingbird" is also on the list.  Do you "censor" what your kids read?  If you found a book objectionable, would you go as far as I did and cross a part out and change it? Dominic has not been saying "shut up" to us as much as he was, but he is still saying it.  He now says it and then goes, "Dominic, say, "be quiet!!"  Basically repeating back to me, what I say to him.  Hopefully the phrase, "shut up" is on it's way out the door!!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

School Lunches

It will be back to school soon for the kids.  Lauren goes back in about two weeks, Dominic's school starts up after Labor Day.   That means packing school lunches!! Just for fun, I started looking through the 1927 version of "Good Meals and How to Prepare Them, A Guide to Meal Planning, Cooking and Serving."  This page caught my eye:

I especially like the first suggestion as a dessert for a high schooler.  What the heck is "Date Blanc-Mange in Cup???" I've never heard of that in my life!  Looking at the lunches for a child in elementary school,  Dominic would not be too impressed if I gave him a egg and celery sandwich or an egg and lettuce sandwich.  I'm guessing that would come back in his lunch uneaten. He is actually easy to pack for.  He likes any kind of leftover meat, cold, like chicken, pork, meatloaf, etc.  Lauren likes yogurt or a sandwich.  They both have their favorite "hot" lunches at their respective schools :) Growing up, I usually took a cold lunch (I was a big peanut butter and jelly gal). I can even remember my favorite lunch box - it was a Hollie Hobbie plastic one with a handle - I thought I was super cool.  Just out of curiousity, I looked online to see if they still make them. I found a website that sold "classic" lunchboxes, it was $48.00!! Good grief, I wished I would have saved mine : ) My favorite school lunch consisted of a hamburger, tater tots, corn and a piece of cake.  Funny, but that lunch is still a favorite of mine!! Now, you can buy a pre-made lunch, like a Lunchable, etc.  I actually like those for field trips, because they're so compact.  Do you pack your kid's lunches? what are their favorite lunch foods? or do they prefer the school lunches? I would love to hear!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Julia Child - A Remarkable Chef

Who remembers Julia Child?  I used to watch her on PBS (Public Television) and be amazed by some of the food she could make.  She would accidentally drop food on the floor and say something like, "I'll just pick it up later!!"  That would just crack me up :)  She was a trained chef, but had a wonderful sense of humor!  This month she would have turned 100 (she passed away in 2004).  I have loved to bake and cook from a young age and I think that's why I used to like watching her cooking shows when I was little.  She showed you didn't have to be a perfectionist and serious in the kitchen, but could still be a fantastic cook.  I read recently in the paper that her longtime publisher of her cookbooks, Alfred A. Knopf, is putting all kinds of social media information on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr.  The social media keyword is JC100, it stands for Julia Child's 100th :) I wonder what she would think of all the cooking shows on the Food Network (my favorite station).  She seemed like the kind of chef that you could kick back with and have a cup of coffee and a croissant.  Who has influenced or inspired you to want to cook? I know Julia Child was a big influence for me! Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


I started this blog a little over a year ago.  A few days ago, the page views hit 5000! Wow, I would have been ecstatic if one person looked at it and got some kind of comfort, a good chuckle or the feeling of, "oh, yeah, I've had that happen to me too!" Thank goodness for Lauren and her computer and photography expertise.  I didn't even know how to turn the camera on and take pictures before she showed me :)  Yes, that's how much I knew about operating our camera.  I love that I can write about whatever is on my mind.  Sometimes it's quite a bit!!  I try to keep things in perspective and not hop on my "soapbox" too much. Whether this is the first time reading my blog or if you have been following for awhile, I am sincerely grateful.  We all lead such busy lives, I appreciate that you have taken the time to spend a few minutes with me.  What I have come to realize at the ripe age of 49, is that nobody's life is perfect.  I try to see the glass half full versus the glass half empty of every situation. Ever the eternal optimist!!  Life is to be enjoyed and each day is to be cherished!!  Hope you come back again to visit me soon - have a terrific day :)

My New "Relationship" with the Sun

Long gone are the days that I would sit on the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean for HOURS at a time with just baby oil on my skin for prote...