Thursday, August 29, 2013

A "Green" Challenge

Shortly before school started for Lauren, she and I spent an entire weekend doing a "deep" clean of her bedroom.  By the time we were done, we had filled up six bags to throw away.  Yikes!! I thought we were pretty good at recycling and not throwing so much trash away, but I guess I was wrong!!! The hubby even asked me yesterday as I was bagging up our kitchen trash, "didn't we just empty that recently??" I told him yes :(  My challenge for the month of September is to make our family  more "green."  Lauren is taking an art class this semester and if she donates some art items she'll get extra credit points.  To me that's a win-win.  A local charity comes through our neighborhood about once a month or so. They are scheduled to be in our neighborhood tomorrow, so I am spending the better part of today going through the kid's clothes and getting some boxes ready to donate.  If we have clothes that are full of holes and/or stains, they become rags to use around the house or to dry off the cars when we wash them. I want to see if I can donate our gently used toys to a local homeless shelter.  I got a few books out from the library this week about composting and living the "zero waste" lifestyle that I plan on gleaning information from!!  At the grocery store, I'm going to start asking for the clerk to bag my groceries in brown paper bags, not plastic. I have been taking my used printer ribbons from our printer to Office Max for a long time and they recycle them for me and give me credit.  For the past couple of years, I have had Dominic's school signed up with an organization called TerraCycle - here is the link: .  You will be absolutely amazed what you can send to them! I currently send the Capri Sun drink pouches. They pay for the postage - all you need is your own box or shipping envelope. When you accumulate enough points, you can donate them to the charity of your choice. I have also been the coordinator for both the Box Tops for Education Program and the Campbell's Labels for Education Program at his school for several years.  It takes just a few moments to clip those box tops or labels.  If you have kids, see if their school has either of those programs. If they don't, start it - it's a great way to volunteer! If you don't have kids, see if you can donate your box tops or labels to your local school.  Do you drink beverages with those pop tabs? We have been donating our pop tabs to the Ronald McDonald House for ill children around where we live for several years. I would love to hear from others who recycle and/or are more "green" than our family.  I'm sure I could learn a thing or two! Anyone up for taking the September "challenge" with me???

Monday, August 26, 2013

Mastering Twitter

Back when I was a teenager, I had a major crush on the actor Parker Stevenson.  I had pictures of him all over my bedroom wall. I'm guessing that most of my pictures were clipped out of Tiger Beat!! Is that magazine even around anymore???  I can even remember writing a fan letter to Parker Stevenson and hoping so much that he would write me back or better yet show up at my house!  I think I must have watched that Brady Bunch episode too many times where Davy Jones of the Monkees showed up unannounced to see Marcia!!!

These days so many celebrities have Twitter.  Some have over a million followers.  When I first got Twitter a few years back, I didn't understand how it worked, so I de-activated my account.  I re-activated my account a few weeks ago and figured it was time to give it another try, given that several people close to me think it's the best thing since sliced bread.  Three words - I LOVE TWITTER!!!!!!!!!  I really feel like I have entered another world.   Being the "foodie" that I am, there are tons of food groups and personalities on there. Yesterday, I "tweeted" a celebrity food personality and within about 20 minutes she "tweeted" me back. She even "retweeted" my original "tweet." So cool, it really made my day.  Twitter makes a celebrity seem more attainable, but not in a strange or creepy way. I wonder if Parker Stevenson is on Twitter??  It doesn't really matter anymore,  my crush on him ended after he never wrote me back!!!  Now, if I could just figure out what a "hashtag" is and how to use it!?!?!?!?!?!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Spreading Those Wings

I like to think of our household as our "nest." I have a tendency though, to want to be the "bird" in charge.  I have been working very hard, this summer in particular, in giving both of my baby "birds" more independence. For about the past week, I have been standing at the top of our driveway and letting Dominic go down and pick up the mail out of the mailbox.  It might not seem like a huge deal, but it is.  There was a time when he was younger, that he would run into the street full blast and not think anything of it! Yikes, that is certainly something I don't miss. Today, Dominic was telling me that he wanted to stay in his pajamas all day.  I told him I didn't think that was an option.  His "favorite" red shirt was in our bedroom with the rest of the clean laundry, so I told him to go up and find it.  I figured he would come down with the red shirt on, but pajama bottoms on the bottom.  Nope, he had found a pair of black shorts that actually matched the shirt.  I told him several times throughout the day that I was proud of him.  About four or five months ago, when had the worst migraine he has ever had in his life, he regressed with the potty training.  It has been hit or miss with that throughout this summer, so he is back in training pants for the time being.  I have been trying to not make a huge deal out of it, because all it does is get him super stressed out and creates tension in the entire household. We know that he is capable of being full trained, because he was before the bad migraine.  We just have to keep working on it and be patient.  I have been quizzing Dominic every few days to make sure he still knows our phone number. Yesterday, we met Dominic's new bus driver for the coming school year. As I stood outside by our front door, I kept gently encouraging him to come out and meet the driver.  At first Dominic didn't want to meet him.  He then came outside and said hi to him - about 15 seconds later, he gave him a hug :)  He did both of those things on his own, unprompted by me.  Dominic has known for a while how to pour his own drinks and retrieve food out of the pantry if he's hungry.  I still have to help him pour cereal, etc., but today, I was showing him how to do it.  He has known for years how to turn on the computer and manipulate his way around.  The other day on the i-Pad, he found some pictures he had taken and then set it to music, like a slideshow. I don't even know how to do that!!   One of the last times Dominic came with me to the grocery store, I let him push the cart, get things off the shelf, put them into the cart and then, when we were checking out, put our items on the conveyor belt. When we were leaving, he wanted to push the cart out of the store.  Every time I kept trying to help push the cart, he would push my hand away and want to do it himself.  I let him push the cart to the car and he helped me load the bags in.  The next time we go out to eat, I think I'm going to let him order his own meal.  As he gets ready to start the fourth grade in less than two weeks, I am confident that he will continue to make progress in many areas.  It's hard for me to imagine that this time next year, he will be preparing to enter middle school.  My littlest "baby" bird is slowly spreading his "wings" and I can't wait to see how high he will soar!

Friday, August 16, 2013

My Friend Bonnie

Bonnie was an older woman that I was friends with back when I lived on the East Coast. She had some eating disorders and was very, very thin.  Many of the other neighbors on our street really didn't talk to her because of the way she looked and acted.  She was extremely introverted. Bonnie didn't have a husband/significant other or any children. She had few friends on our street, basically myself and a neighbor I'll call "T."  Bonnie and I used to walk at a park near our neighborhood.  We walked for a few years and got to know each other pretty well and shared quite a bit.  One day when we were supposed to be getting together, she didn't show up.  I noticed that the windows were open at her house and given that she was so private, I decided to ask her through her window if everything was okay. She answered back that she was fine, so I took her at her word.  When another day or two went by and I still hadn't seen or heard from her, I alerted her neighbor "T" and told him that we should investigate to make sure she was okay.  We decided since we didn't 100% know for sure what was going on, he and I decided to call the police.  They came and went into her townhouse for a bit and then came back out.  When they came out, I asked them if she was in there.  They responded, "yes."  I then asked, "is she okay?"  They responded back with "no, she isn't."  Sadly, she had taken her own life. I was stunned.  I had absolutely no idea, talk about the guilt.  The policemen wanted to talk to both "T" and I since we were the last ones to see her before she passed away.  I remember taking Lauren to another neighbor's house, because she was very young and didn't really need to hear all that the policeman and I were going to be talking about. A week or so later after she died, her family came to town to clean out her house and get it ready to sell.  One evening, they showed up at my front door and wanted to talk to me.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  They kept asking me if I had any indication that she would do something like she did.  It was so sad.  I was unable to attend her services because they were not local. Even to this day, a part of me still feels guilty. How could I have not known? how come I didn't do more?  It is something I don't think I will ever get over. I think about Bonnie's family and how they are doing. The only way I have found to cope with the guilt has been to say a special prayer for her every week in church. My dear sweet friend Bonnie. You are gone, but not forgotten.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Too Young to Babysit??

While Dominic goes to his music therapy class there is an area where you can wait that has a few tables and chairs and is where I hang out.  A few weeks ago, I noticed there were four small children by themselves in that area.  At first, I thought they were with an older woman who was also sitting in that area.  Nope, they weren't with her.  The kids were pretty well behaved for a while and then they starting getting really loud.  When the littlest one fell on the ground and started crying, I asked the oldest child (she looked about Dominic's age, like 9 or so) where their parents were.  She said, "oh, my mom is upstairs."   The older woman and I were kind of watching this little girl take care of her three siblings.  She was entertaining them, taking them to the potty, etc.  The entire time that I was there, I never once saw a mom or dad come down to check on them.  I was thinking that it would probably be okay if she was watching her siblings at home by herself, but to be in a public place, seemed I don't know, dangerous?  The front door to the building where this waiting area was is close to the front door.  There is a receptionist area you have to pass by, but still, something about the whole thing seemed wrong to me.  The older woman that was watching these four kids told the oldest child, "you're a really good babysitter."  She definitely was - she was extremely mature. It seemed like an awful lot of responsibility for a young girl to be watching three younger children in a public place.  When Dominic was born, Lauren was about 8.  I would make her keep an eye on him when I took a quick shower, but that would be about 15 minutes or so and we were in our own house.  In hindsight, I wished I would have said something to the receptionist. I'm curious as to what other moms (and dads)  think of such a young child babysitting that many other kids in a public place.  Let me know your thoughts!

Friday, August 9, 2013

What Would You Have Done?

Two different "what would you have done" moments happened this week.  The first was while I was in the produce section of my favorite grocery store this past Tuesday.  I heard a man tell one of the clerks, "hey, I made a mess that needs to be cleaned up!"  Being the "Curious Georgette" that I am, I had to go investigate.  An older gentleman had spilled about 50 grape tomatoes all over the floor, covering about 6-8 feet in all directions.  The clerk looked over and said, "okay, I'll take care of it."  The man kept waiting for the clerk to come over and clean it up. When the clerk didn't immediately come over, he then squatted down and started picking up the tomatoes himself.  I think maybe he was afraid someone might step and/or slip on them.  I watched the man start picking them up and at first I wasn't going to do anything. I went over and said, "uh-oh" which I don't think he found very helpful. Then, I thought, if I spilled a bunch of tomatoes all over the floor, I would hope that someone would take a few moments to help me.  I went over and helped the guy (it took all of 20-30 seconds). Over the course of those 20-30 seconds, he probably thanked me about three times.  I wasn't doing it to be thanked, it just felt like it was the right thing to do.  The second thing happened while I was on the way home from running errands with Lauren on Thursday morning.  We were on a local road a little less than three miles from home.  There were two cars in front of me and I didn't take much notice, until the second of the two cars slammed into the back end of the car in front of it! I was keeping a safe distance from both vehicles, so there wasn't any chance at all that we were going to be involved in the accident.  Since it happened right in front of us, my first instinct was for me to stop, especially when I saw a little smoke coming from one of the cars.  I think at first the two drivers were startled and then within 10-15 seconds they both were out of their cars.  The driver of the second car opened his door and then lay down a few times on the road, then got up. I thought maybe he was hurt, but then figured out he was looking under the car to see how much damage there was.  The driver of the first car was standing by her car on her cell phone.  I kept thinking to myself, should I get out? should I call 911? should I keep going past the accident since I had to get Lauren home?  I asked Lauren about 3-4 times what to do and she said she wasn't sure what to do either.  I decided to hop out of my car.  I then asked the two people, "hey, are you both okay?"  The driver of the first car looked at me and said, "should I call 911?"  I told her yes.  They didn't appear to be injured at all, so I hopped back in my car and then wondered if I should stick around since I had just witnessed an accident. I made the decision since it wasn't a hit and run, no one was injured and they were calling for assistance, that I wasn't really needed.  I drove Lauren home and we decompressed a little.  Both of us were a little shook up.  Even though we weren't involved in the accident, it still was a bit disconcerting.  Lauren just got her driver's license about two weeks ago and she was getting ready to drive herself to a sports practice. Both the tomato incident and witnessing an accident right in front of me made me realize that I guess it's in my nature to want to help others.  That's what I hope I'm instilling in my children.  That we shouldn't be so focused on ourselves and to always be aware if someone needs our help. What would you have done in both circumstances? would you have helped? why or why not?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Guess I Don't Know Everything!

This December it will be 23 years that I have known my husband and 18 years that we have been married. 

Wouldn't you think I would know everything that there is to know about him by now?? Well, when I asked the hubby the other day if he liked blueberry pancakes, he told me they were his favorite!  I never knew that about him.  Since I can't recall EVER making that particular kind of pancake for him, I decided to put them on the "menu" this past Sunday for breakfast. I asked the hubby to rate these on a scale of 1 to 10.  He said they were a 10!!  I guess he liked them, because he ate three both Sunday and Monday morning.  I love the way the blueberries kind of come up through the top.

If you are interested in making these pancakes, the recipe is below. They are so yummy, you almost don't need syrup!!

3 cups white flour
1/4 cup white sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
3 cups milk
1 1/2 cups blueberries, rinsed

In large bowl, put all the ingredients in the order given, except the blueberries.  Using a large spoon or whisk, blend together until smooth. It's okay if there are still a few lumps.  Fold in the blueberries gently until well combined.  Makes 20-22 5-inch pancakes.

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...