Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Superstitions and Old Wives' Tales

Black cats kind of get a bad rap.  According to superstition, you shouldn't cross paths with a black cat. Since today is Halloween, I thought I would bring up the subject of superstitions and old wives' tales.  I had a conversation several weeks ago with Lauren and one of her friends about how a lot of buildings don't have a thirteenth floor.  Next time you are in an elevator of a tall building, look and see if it has a thirteenth floor. What about how you shouldn't walk under a ladder? I asked the hubby about that one and he said something like, "why would you walk under there, it's unsafe!"  True :)  One I remember from my childhood, was don't step on the cracks of the sidewalk - "step on a crack, you'll break your mother's back." Ouch! Another one I have heard FOREVER - don't  go out with a wet head, you'll catch a cold.  I always go outside with a wet head - I have very thick hair and it takes hours to dry - it's already dry enough because I color it, so I don't blow dry very often :)  I have yet to get a cold from going out with a wet head.  If I ever do get sick, I'll try a little chicken soup!!  How about when you're pregnant and you put a needle/ring on a string in front of your belly and if the needle/ring goes a certain way you're having a boy and if it goes another way it's a girl?  There are so many superstitions and old wives' tales still floating around out there!! Don't ever break a mirror - seven years bad luck, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, the list goes on and on and on.  My husband told me that his parents told him growing up if you changed the calendar to the new month before the old month was over, that would bring you bad luck. We still adhere to that one around here, whether I want to or not :)  Maybe I'll go around today and change all of our calendars in the house to November, just to play a little "trick" on my husband!! Two superstitions that bring you good luck are finding a four-leaf clover or picking up a penny.  What are some old wives' tales or superstitions that you believe or don't believe??

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Food and Memories

Don't certain foods remind you of certain people? Kolaches remind me of my mother-in-law, because she would always make them around Christmas. Below is a kolache making "lesson" my mother-in-law was giving Lauren and the hubby a handful of years ago.

While looking through some old pictures recently, I stumbled across this picture from Christmas of 1988.  This was my grandmother and I horsing around with the turkey.  We had nicknamed the turkey, "Fred."  I can't remember why we named the turkey, maybe because it was the size of a toddler!!!!

I have talked about my grandmother before, she was a really special person to me and a lot of other people.  She lived on her own into her 90's and then went into assisted living.  She passed away in 2004 at 101, the year Dominic was born.  I still use her metal mixing bowl whenever I bake, which is often  :) Food and memories just seem to go hand in hand.  My father-in-law was a great cook.  He made the absolute best pork chops.  He told me the "secret" to making them one time and I really wish I would have wrote it down.  One year for Christmas, my in-law's bought us a turkey roaster, which we still use whenever we make a turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  When the in-law's would visit, I would always make french toast for my father-in-law.  To this day, whenever I make french toast, I almost always think of "Pop-Pop."


The picture above is still one of my all-time  favorites of my father-in-law.  Of course it involves food!! This was his birthday and we had made him a cake. Lauren was so little, she was standing on the dining room table.  This morning, since my stepson is visiting us this weekend, I made my mother-in-law's sour cream kuchen.

I think when you no longer have those special people in your life, when you make the foods that were their favorite or foods they would make for you, it kind of keeps a part of them with you :)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Best "Gift" of All

The hubby has a milestone birthday coming up next week.  He doesn't like me telling everybody that he'll be 60, but with my big yap, I've had a hard time keeping it shut.  When I first met him almost 22 years ago, I thought he was around my age.

He is in fact, 11 years older than me.  The only time we ever have an "issue" is with our musical tastes.  I like bands from the 1980's and 1990's and he likes the music from the 1960's and 1970's.  We both do like the Rolling Stones, though. That band has been around forever :) My husband is a hard person to buy a present for, so I was kind of racking my brain trying to figure out what to get him.  I thought a few months ago about throwing him a big surprise party, but he doesn't like being the center of attention.  How about a trip? We already went to Jamaica in April, so that was out. I was really beginning to get stressed out trying to figure out that perfect "gift."  Well, a few weeks ago we got an e-mail from my stepson telling us that he would be able to come see us this weekend.  We have not seen him for almost a year, due to his job commitments. When he said he could get out to visit us for a few days we were ecstatic!!  We were supposed to have been going to a wedding out of town this weekend too, but thank goodness the bride was a gem and understood. Marrying my husband almost 17 years ago was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I knew when I got married to him, that he would be a wonderful father to any children we would have based on the great relationship that I observed between him and my stepson.  The hubby is an amazing dad and he is always there whenever any of his "kids" need anything. Given the ages of our children (28, 16 and 8), means there is never a dull moment in our house :)  Dominic definitely keeps the hubby "young."

I don't need to worry any more what to get my husband for his birthday.  My stepson being able to visit so close to the hubby's birthday is definitely the best "gift" of all.  I can't wait for our whole family to celebrate!!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

On Strike???

This week has been pretty busy and I haven't been home too much during the day.  A casualty of that has been the laundry starting to really pile up.  I figured I would get around to it this weekend. The hubby took a look at the big pile of laundry a few days ago and asked me if I was "on strike."  Sometimes my husband is a real comedian :)  When we got married, doing the laundry become one of my household "chores."  I wash all the dirty laundry, fold it and sort it, but my family members are responsible for putting their own clothes away.  It's a system that for the most part has worked well all these years.  A few weeks ago, I happened to have the television on in the early afternoon and caught a little of Katie Couric's new talk show.  She had a mom on her show that did go "on strike" from her household chores. The mom stopped doing everything like making meals, etc. for a set amount of time. I guess the mom was frustrated from picking up after her family and didn't feel appreciated.  Going on strike is a bit extreme, but maybe the mom felt she had no other choice.  Personally, I think it's better to talk to your family before it gets to that point. When you make meals, clean the house, wash dishes, etc., you might not always get a thank you from your family.  That's when it's good to give them a "gentle" reminder about all that you do, so they don't take you for granted :) One of the things I do almost daily is to sweep our kitchen floor and the hallways near our front door, closet and mudroom.  It's one of those "chores" that if I didn't do, the dust bunnies would be bigger than Dominic!! Some moms have set days they clean, wash laundry, etc.  I would get too stressed out having to follow some kind of schedule like that.  But, everyone is different. I say, if it works for you and your family, go for it!!  Yesterday, I did finally tackle that huge pile of laundry.  The hubby didn't say anything, but I think secretly he was happy I finally did it!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How the Questions Have Changed!!

When Lauren was a baby, the questions I got the most often were - are you breastfeeding or bottlefeeding? are you using cloth or plastic diapers? These days, the questions are - which college is Lauren thinking of going to? and, what is she interested in studying?? I think the questions were easier to answer when she was a baby :)  I had someone as recently as last night ask me the college question.  It feels like it was just yesterday that the hubby was giving her a bottle.

Gone are the days of diapers, pacifiers and taking naps together:

Since starting her junior year, Lauren has had loads of homework almost every night and stays up late getting it all done. I have told her having all that homework while balancing other activities, friends and sports is a preview of college :)  Lauren's choices of colleges and courses of study have changed a handful of times. At one time, she wanted to go to college in California because it's much warmer than here where we live in the Midwest. Then, it was a college about an hour away.  Most recently, her college of choice is the one ten minutes from our house.  Where we live there are many in-state schools that are great (and affordable).  Next summer, we will be touring college campuses and getting her senior portraits done. Time seems to be going by at warp speed lately - I wish it would slow down just a little and let me catch up  :)  Enjoy every day and cherish the time with your kids, they grow up in a blink of an eye!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Soliciting in the Parking Lot???

When I was walking towards my car in the parking lot of the grocery store earlier this week, I heard someone coming up behind me saying, "excuse me, excuse me!!!"  The voice belonged to a well-dressed, young woman maybe in her early 20's.  She launched into a rehearsed speech and was talking really fast.  So fast, I couldn't quite figure out what she wanted.  She opened up a box of suncatchers and was showing them to me asking if I would buy one to help fund some trip she was going on.  I told her politely that I wasn't interested and she moved on to someone else in the parking lot. When I get phone calls asking for donations of money and it's not an organization I've heard of or wish to donate to, I've been saying, "please remove me from your calling list."  The hubby says, "I'm sure your organization is worthwhile, but we already give to other organizations."  Most telephone solicitors say thank you and hang up. I think they respect the honesty. It's getting towards the holiday season, so I know we'll be getting more of those type of calls.  Unfortunately, there are organizations that try to scam you into giving them your credit card number and other personal information over the phone.  It's much harder to say no or politely hang up the phone when someone is in your face in a parking lot. Many years ago, when I still lived with my parents, I had a young woman come to the front door saying she was from my old high school.  She claimed to be selling something on behalf of my old school and wanted the money upfront.  I'm still waiting to get what I ordered :(  Another time, a few years before we moved to the Midwest, I had a gentleman come to our front door selling magazines.  I told him nicely that I wasn't interested and he called me a very nasty and insulting name.  Since those two incidents,  it's made me very leery and hesitant to open my front door to solicitors.  I pretty much only open the front door if it's someone I know, like students from the local high school raising money for school sponsored activities. What would you do if someone sidled up to you in a parking lot trying to sell you something??  Would you buy what they were selling? or would you walk the other way??

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hard to Explain

Dominic woke up one Saturday morning a few weeks ago earlier than I would have liked.  Before I had my first cup of coffee, he kind of caught me off-guard.  He said, "Grandma, live, heaven."  I asked him if he missed her and he said, "yes."  It took everything in me not to start crying.  It was about this time two years ago that my mother-in-law starting slipping into severe dementia.  She lived in an assisted living facility close by and we would visit her there and/or she would come to our house for Sunday dinner.  Around Christmas of 2010, she was hospitalized for two weeks into the New Year of 2011.  Shortly into the New Year, we moved her to hospice, where she passed away three days later.  To say it was a traumatic time for our family would be an understatement.  My husband is an only child and we had to make arrangements long distance (she was to be buried in Cleveland).  We spent a lot of time at the funeral home, which isn't exactly the best place for kids. I think when someone passes that you are close to, it is hard to explain to small children what is going on.  One of the most difficult things I have ever had to do is explain it to Dominic.  Lauren and my stepson are older, but it was still very hard for them too.  I have asked different people about how to go about explaining the passing of a loved one to a special needs child.  Believe me, there isn't too much information out there.  The best thing we have found to tell Dominic is, "Grandma was broken and she has gone to a place where they can fix her, that place is heaven."  When he was asking about my mother-in-law, we went down to our basement where I have a couple poster boards full of pictures that we had at my mother-in-law's funeral. I told Dominic he could look at those pictures anytime he wanted. It's hard explaining loss to children and extra hard if your child has special needs.  I'm glad that Dominic got to meet her and know her.  My mother-in-law was a really big supporter of Dominic and all of his challenges.  She would have been so proud to see how far he has come.  She was a special woman and I still miss her a lot!!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My "Mandatory" Daily Coffee

I used to think the smell of coffee was one of the nastiest smells ever invented. Since I was about 12 (when I drank Tab out of a glass bottle for the first time), instead of coffee, I would drink a Caffeine-Free Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi first thing in the morning. When my husband and I first got together and he would see me drinking pop in the morning instead of coffee, I think he was taken aback a little. He has been a coffee drinker for a LONG time.  The hubby loves his coffee and I would sit looking at him wondering why he loved his "colored water" so much.  One day, when Dominic was a few months old, I decided to give coffee another try. Maybe it was those early days of sleep deprivation that was making my body need some caffeine.  Much to my amazement, I discovered I kind of liked coffee. Now, I absolutely HAVE to drink two cups a day - it is mandatory and helps me function :)  Lately, I have been waking up way too early.  To be coherent whatsoever in the morning, first thing I do is get that coffee machine going. I'm so impatient, sometimes I don't even wait for the coffee pot to fill up, I stick my mug right under the direct stream.  I'm a creature of habit, I drink out of the same coffee mug every morning. It's one I've had for a really long time. It was from a soap opera that went off the air a number of years ago :)  That will kind of tell you how old this mug is!

I never thought I would ever say this, but I look forward to my coffee every morning.  Any other late in life coffee drinkers out there?? I know I can't be the only one!!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

"Savant" Qualities??

I like to watch the movie "Rain Man" from time to time.  If you've never seen the movie, it's about a man with Autism that has spent the bulk of his life in an institution.  My favorite parts of the movie are where he shows his "savant" type qualities like memorizing entire pages of a phone book or counting toothpicks that fall on the floor.  I have had more than one person ask me if Dominic is a "savant." I've wondered the same thing myself sometimes.  I do know that he can take a bunch of Legos that look like this:

And turn it into this:

Dominic has been using the computer since he was very young.  What we discovered a few months ago is that he will go into YouTube, find what he wants to build and then will build it.  He figured out all on his own how to access YouTube with absolutely no help from us.  No matter how many times I offered to do an educational CD-ROM with him, the answer most of the time was no.  Dominic is strong-willed like the rest of us in this family and he likes to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it  :)  Even this morning - I asked him to make a chair for the piano above and it took him probably 30 minutes to make it.  I should have just left him alone and let him make it himself.  He has Lego kits geared towards his age and he can put those together in minutes.  Dominic also loves puzzles.  I have talked in prior blog posts about him doing 500 piece puzzles.

The one in the background he did already by himself.  The one he was working on was before he went to school one morning.  The thing of it is, both of these puzzles were mixed together.  He found which pieces went to which puzzle and if any pieces were missing.  He bugged me one day for hours asking for a few pieces that were missing from one of these puzzles.  I had to keep telling him I think they were lost.  It took him a few days before he understood that and would continue making the puzzle.  He kept telling me, "puzzle piece missing!"  Dominic also has ADHD which makes him sitting for hours and doing his Legos or puzzles even more remarkable.  Over the weekend, I was sitting with him at the kitchen table helping him do his homework.  He sat just long enough to finish it and then ran back to the computer to work on another Lego project!!!!

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...