Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dinner At Drew's Apartment

Last night we hopped in the van with all the makings for a pizza party and headed to Richmond. It was me, Alex, Hannah, and Shauna. Luke had to work and we invited Gramma, but she had to work at 5:30 am both Saturday and Sunday, so she couldn't join us. Mikey had stayed in DC to help a friend move, so he drove down and met us at Drew's place.


Drew and Julian cleaned the kitchen before I got there, which I appreciated, since pizza making takes up a lot of room! I pre-made the crusts and mixed the sauce at home, but even the assembly/cooking process uses a lot of space. They had some fresh pineapple, which was so good on the pineapple/bacon pizza. I normally like canned pineapple better, but in this case, fresh was so much better.
Drew in his clean kitchen

I was very impressed by Drew's room and bathroom. They were neat and clean! What??? Is this the same kid whose room had to be cleaned by me and my now infamous snow shovel??? When he moved out of his bedroom (or was forced out by me!), it was a room worthy of any Hoarders television show. He isn't a hoarder because he has no problem parting with things, he was just too lazy to actually get rid of them. Anyway, his room was spotless. I checked the closet since I thought he might have shoved everything in there, but it was perfect. Clothes were hanging neatly there was a cat carrier on the floor and a couple of things on the shelf. It was probably the neatest closet I've ever seen! I asked one of his roommates, Julian, if he cleaned for days before we came and he said no, Drew always keeps his room like that! Julian is well acquainted with Drew's old room, so he is just as surprised as we were. I talked to Drew about it and he said he just never let it get messy. Just like his mom! (Shut up, Denise!)

Hannah, Shauna, and Alex, enjoying Drew's front porch

Anyway, the weather was absolutely perfect and we enjoyed our pizza and conversation out on their front deck. The kids, especially Alex, were very impressed with the active and interesting area that they live in. It is called The Fan district of Richmond and they are right on a main road, so people are constantly walking/jogging/skateboarding/roller blading by. It is a prime people watching spot. I still can't get over how gorgeous it was, between the perfect weather and the beauty of the area. The street is all large, old houses and the median is lined with crape myrtles, which are in full bloom. It was very relaxing and we had lots of fun conversation. Besides Julian and Drew, their other roommate, Mario, stopped by for a little while. We hadn't met him, yet, so it was nice to finally put a face to the name. Hannah thought he was cute, speaking of his face! One of their neighbors, Ryan, joined us, also, as well as two of Mario's longtime friends. Everyone enjoyed the pizza and Julian gave me the ultimate compliment when he told me this was the first time he has actually felt full in longer than he can remember. It was so good to meet everyone and spend time with Drew and Julian. Julian was a regular at our house for many, many years before they moved to Richmond. Have I ever blogged about the time Julian scared the crap out of my by climbing up to the second story porch and coming in that way?

Me and the sign that used to hang in the cafe at the rink

Living Room wall and cool neon artwork. That door leads to the front porch.

Alex had been having trouble falling asleep Friday night, so he baked a cake at 4:00 am! Shauna was his partner, although it sounds like she mainly cleaned up his mess! The cake was awesome. Since he didn't have access to my frosting recipes (they are on my computer, which is password protected), he looked a recipe up on his ipod. It was really delicious and he had decorated it to look like the beach. He used graham cracker crumbs mixed with cinnamon (which I thought was going to taste horrible on a cake, but it was so good!) for the sand. Then he used medium blue sprinkles for the ocean and light blue for the sky. It really looked like the beach, it was amazing. He tinted the frosting the perfect blue. I was impressed.

At the end of the night, we had to part with Mike, as it didn't make sense for him to come all the way home for a little over 12 hours. He headed back up north and we headed to Drew's Walgreens to pick up a DVD of my 2nd birthday party. We got to see the wild cats that live there, that Drew has been telling me about. We saw 5 or 6, including one with no tail. The clerk at Walgreens was super sweet and so excited about meeting "Drew's Mommy", as she called me. I'm working on uploading the video to You Tube, but Jack has to reformat it for me, so I had to send it to him. Hopefully, I will be able to get it up by tomorrow. I have to say that Jack was very patient with me, giving me detailed instructions on how to decrypt the birthday DVD and send him the information he needs to make it You Tube ready for me. His phone was acting up so he couldn't call me and mine kept going into roaming and was taking forever to send and receive texts. He didn't even yell at me once! I think it took almost an hour start to finish.

Speaking of my infamous snow shovel, keep an eye out for a rebuttal post to the above highlighted link from Denise! The Hotel Cinderella posts are in the works, as well. I just need some more time and energy in the day to get it all done.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I Got In Trouble! Hotel Cinderella Apology!

On Friday, Mike and I went out to lunch, since we had been apart (other than the few hours at Drew's last weekend) for almost two weeks. On the way, he told me that my blog post about Denise and Hotel Cinderella was MEAN. He thought it sounded terrible and he thinks that Denise is probably mad and not speaking to me. Wow! He might be right, since I haven't heard from her since I posted that, but I know what she is going through right now and thought nothing of it.

I apologize if anyone took this in a way it was not meant. I am not a snotty, bi*ch who complains about everything (shut up, Mike!) . That post was meant to poke fun at our time together and was in no way meant to offend or be mean or disrespectful to Denise. I think Denise will agree that we had a wonderful time together. We laughed our way through the week.
Okay, please read this very carefully!

1. Everything that I said in that post actually happened.

2. Everything I did at the Hotel C. was done out of love and caring. NOT because Denise was "demanding" it!

3. Denise said everything I said she did. However, everything she said was said in jest. She didn't force me to do anything.

4. Denise and I have a back-and-forth joking, kidding, silly relationship.

Here is an example of what I mean. I did spend forever and day, chopping veggies and making the stir fry. Denise did complain (jokingly) about the fork, as well as other things. She did lecture me about the fork. All in a joking manner!!! I did not mind making the stir fry, nor was I forced to. Get it????

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hotel Cinderella 2011, Chapter One-Arrival

**Edited** Please read this post before you read this.

I awoke to my blaring alarm at 5:00 am. I had to get the rest of the car loaded and get ready for work. Alex helped me load the car and I made it to work on time, at 8:30. I was already tired!

I got off at 1:30 and Luke brought the kids to my office so we could jump on the interstate from there. It was 2:00 before we got everyone situated in the van and got on the road. We made great time, even stopping for dinner at Steak 'N' Shake and stopping for gas. I had told Denise that we would be there at 9:00 pm, at the earliest. We arrived at exactly 9:00! I don't remember if we knocked, probably not because the Hotel Cinderella just isn't a formal, knocking kind of place. We walked in and were greeted by...wait for it...no one! Yup, after 7 long hours on the road, no one was there. We called out a couple of times and then finally heard an angry voice from upstairs, complaining that we had arrived early and our room was not ready. Are you kidding me???? Good thing I am so attached to the staff at this hotel or I would have skipped check in and driven straight back to Williamsburg.

The kids and Denise eventually made their way downstairs, along with a therapist. After some hugging, Denise informed me that she was planning to have a stir fry for dinner, but her friend, Chris, was supposed to make it, but wasn't able to. I volunteered to make it, even though I've only made a stir fry once and had no idea what I was doing. I sort of had to make it, anyway, because the stir fry ingredients were taking up a ton of room in the fridge and I needed to put things in there. The package of spinach was so huge it almost took an entire shelf! (I think this was when I found some moldy, black bananas in the fridge, but I didn't keep any notes about it, so I can't be sure.) Denise told me to cook anything that was green, so I did. First I had to cut it all, though. So...after what seemed like at least two hours, I had everything cut and in the wok. Had I known that I was going to be going into a sweat lodge so quickly after arrival, I would have worn my bathing suit. It was really, really hot and humid with that wok going! Remember, I've only made a stir fry once and I don't even remember much about it. I kept asking Denise when it was done and she kept saying, "maybe another minute". There were a lot of "minutes" involved. I don't think I did a very good job because she didn't finish it all and didn't eat the leftovers! She said it was good and although she doesn't spare my feelings often, she did this time.

So, I serve the Queen her stir fry and she says, "Oh no, this isn't the fork I like. I can't use this one." She then proceeds to show me which forks (among the million and ten in the drawer) she can and cannot use. By this time I was pretty much wrung out, but I do remember something about flat ends and forks that had been through the garbage disposal. I just can't remember if she likes flat ends or doesn't like them. Then a few seconds after the fork lecture, I hear her say to Alex, "I don't want to be a bother." Are you kidding me????

Lest anyone get the wrong idea, Denise is not that ungrateful! After I was done cooking and she was sort of eating it, she said, "Thanks for making this. You really didn't have to." Oh, I almost forgot this part, when I finally finish cooking and am wiping the sweat from my brow, she says, "I'm so tired." Are you kidding me???? I was thinking, "I've only been here 1 hour and 37 minutes and I'm ready to go home!"

J, Alex, Hannah, Shauna, GracieGirl, and E
July 2, 2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Rebuttal Blog

This is what Denise blogged about, just before my visit. She has most of these things correct, but there are a couple of items that I need to correct or clarify. :) Here is a link to her actual post, in case you want to follow any of her links.Denise's words will appear in blue and mine will be green.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Michelle's Upcoming Visit

Michelle is coming for a visit. She sweetly posted on her blog, wondering why she was looking forward to this visit, when I am officially the world's worst host. So, I'm going to explain why.

I met Michelle online around 12 years ago, on her transracial adoption group. She and I first met in person 10 years ago. We were vacationing in Virginia with my parents, celebrating J's first birthday. We'd agreed to meet, but she kept telling us how "busy" she was. We finally went to her house, literally after we'd checked out of our timeshare and were leaving to go home.

I might have been hurt by that, but I learned that she's as socially awkward as I am. Besides, her husband convinced her that I was an axe murderer. Okay, this is true, I did put her off until the last day. I'm not sure if I've even told Denise the whole truth about this, so she may be surprised, but here it is. Mike did think they might be axe murderers and that it wasn't safe to meet anyone in person, after meeting them on the internet. I felt that I knew Denise pretty well, though, and most people don't adopt different race kids just to be able to get involved in an internet group so they could meet people to murder! I am very socially awkward and was very nervous about meeting them. However, and here is the part I don't think I've told Denise or Nick, I was terrified that they would be annoying weirdos and if I met with them at the beginning of their trip, they would bug me the entire time they were in Williamsburg! As it turned out, we got along great and I would have loved to spend more time with them.

Here's an account of our first visit, and here are some pictures of my kids from that trip (E insists that the top pic is him!). When I saw that picture, I thought it looked like E, too!

Since then, she's come to visit here several times, and we've gone to visit her. She named our house the Hotel Cinderella, implying that it's an awful place to stay. It is, but at least we let her stay in our hotel. Every time we go to Virginia, she makes us stay in a timeshare! And when we visit, she doesn't let us go upstairs or into her bedroom because she says that they're a mess. One time, she let me venture upstairs to the kids' bedrooms. Um yeah, she wasn't exaggerating. And there really were snow shovels propped against the walls for cleaning! The Hotel Cinderella is the best awful place I've ever stayed! However, I do not make them stay in a timeshare. They are always welcome to stay with us and we would prefer that, but they have allergies and we have 8 cats and a dog. Oh, and when my kids were little, we were a lot overwhelmed by issues, issues, and more issues. Their rooms were horrible! Keeping them even semi-clean was not a priority as we struggled minute by minute just to get through each day. Surprisingly, they have grown out of that and now keep very neat and clean rooms. No snow shovels necessary for quite a while now! The game room has been the exception, but they are even keeping that cleaner now. This last statement does not include Luke. You will probably see him on a future Hoarder's show.

We've also vacationed together in Ohio, Lancaster County, Orlando, the beach, and in the worst timeshare on the planet in Basye, Virginia. There are probably more places, but my memory cells have been destroyed. Michelle, on the other hand, can undoubtedly tell you where we went, when we went, how long we stayed, and how much the price of gas was then. That's where she and I differ. LOL! I do remember things that Denise does not, but she also refreshes my memory on a lot of things, so we work together perfectly.

I let Michelle stay at our luxury hotel because I can be myself with her. No matter how much of a mess I am, I can just be a mess; I don't have to pretend that I've got it all (or any of it) under control. My house is trashed, and that's just the way it is. The rugs are stained, the furniture torn, there are holes in the walls, and I can't walk through the yard without humming the theme to Sanford & Son (yes, I'm that old). True, I never judge people on housekeeping or what they own or don't own.

This is from a person who still attempts to alphabetize her spices, who used to have her clothes arranged by color and length in the closet, who never had a single weed in her garden, and who once was shocked when she visited a friend and saw dust on a table! There will be a mention of the spice alphabetization in one of my upcoming Hotel Cinderella blogs.

Yes, I've been humbled.

I never, ever thought I'd live like this, but there's no use fighting it. I'm learning lots of lessons in acceptance. This is my life right now. The destruction is inevitable, I physically can't fix it, and Nick only has time to focus on the major issues. The cosmetic stuff just has to wait. AMEN!

I digress.

Even though I am stressing just a bit because Michelle recently posted a really clean picture of her house and said that she turned over a new leaf, I'm still letting her see things as they are here. If she really has found the secret to keeping a clean house with destructive kids, I'm hoping she'll show up with her snow shovel and a dumpster and fill me in! This is where Denise outed me. I have been a closet snow shovel cleaner for many years and, apparently, I failed to tell her that it was a secret!

Anyway, I'm so excited that she's coming up, and I can't wait to laugh (even if it is at my expense!). And then we can go to the mall, and get our nails done, and get into all of the latest celebrity gossip...Oh, wait! She doesn't do any of that. No wonder we get along so well! LOL! We did laugh, a ton! While much of the laughter was at Denise's expense, much was also at mine. Do wooden spoons ring any bells, Denise? No mall, although I visited Giant and Home Depot, sans Denise.

I could go on and on, but E just dumped a cup of water on me because he thought I wanted to take a shower.

Give me strength.

I guess my computer time is over.

Oh, and Michelle, my pizza cutter broke, so could you please bring yours? I still have your pizza pan from last time!


P.S. Nick informed me that the ice maker isn't broken. How's that for enticement? Maybe you'll even show up early! I forgot that you said this! As will be evidenced in future blog posts, I showed up on time and got in trouble!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

One Hour and Forty Five Minutes Left...

...To get ready for Hotel Cinderella. I only have a minute, but wanted to get this down while fresh in my mind.

1. Accidentally left Rebel out on porch when changing Hummingbird water. Got delayed in the house and heard knocking on the front door. Yes, knocking. The dog even barked. Opened the door and there was Rebel with her two front paws on the doorstep!

2. Texted a teenager:

Me: Where are you?
Teen: At the park with So and So.
Teen: (30 seconds later) If my mom texts you, tell her I'm with you.
Teen: (20 seconds later) JK
Me: BUSTED!!!!!

Must finish packing, loading car and making dinner. Now have one hour and 40 minutes left!

***Edited to add: Told Luke the story about Rebel.

Luke: "I'd be more impressed if she rang the doorbell."
Me: "Me, too, since the doorbell is broken."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Denise is washing the Bob the Builder towels!!!

Denise is preparing for my visit next week! By prepare, I mean she is on the computer blogging about it. There is no actual preparation. I still can't figure out why I'm looking forward to this trip!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

So I Don't Get In Trouble!

I don't have much time, but I wanted to do a quick post before I start getting yelled at by my only two fans! Not to mention any names, but they would be Denise and Mikey.

Speaking of Denise, we are heading to the Hotel Cinderella next Wednesday. Yay! I'm really looking forward to it, even though it is called the Hotel Cinderella for a very good reason!

Luke is now working at Walgreens. Someone robbed the pharmacy the other night, when Luke was working. Ugh! There have been a rash of robberies here, even though this is not a high crime town. At least it hasn't been a high crime town in the past! Several banks have been robbed in the last few months and several pharmacies. Two McDonald's were robbed within days of each other a few days ago. On my way home from work, I pass a bank and it had crime scene tape all around it. The police had the driveway blocked with squad cars and I saw a police officer entering the front door. He stopped to put gloves on before touching the door. I'm assuming it was robbed, but haven't seen anything on the internet yet. I hope they catch these criminal(s) soon, it is getting scary!

Yesterday was my Mom's birthday and Drew was over, so we all went over to celebrate. We brought strawberry shortcake and had a great time.

The mom of one of Hannah's friends died on Sunday and Hannah is attending the funeral tomorrow. I'm not sure how she died, but she was a year younger than me. I spent an hour or hour and a half with her about 6 weeks ago and she was depressed because her husband was divorcing her and she didn't want the divorce. I know she was an alcoholic, so I'm not sure if that had something to do with it. Hannah said she had been in and out of the hospital recently. It is very sad. Her daughter is a very nice girl, but already has some anger issues. She punched another girl in the face (the same night I talked to her mom) because they liked the same boy. Anytime is a bad time to lose a parent, but I think the teenage years are the worst. Nothing like making a difficult time even more difficult!

We went to the beach last Friday, as I was off. It was a beautiful day and a lot of fun, except for the fact that Hannah was going through a rough time (euphemism for manic) and was cranky and uncooperative. I don't feel like going into all the details, but she had been starting to go downhill as the last week of school approached. She stayed out until 11:00 on a school night last week (and only came home then because I went out and tracked her down). She was at the park behind our house (which closes at night) with two boys. They weren't doing anything but standing around and talking, but still. Alex went with me and we spied on them, so I know there was no funny business going on. We grounded her, of course, and she went out the next two days anyway. (She can never understand why she is grounded because, after all, she "only stayed out until 11:00 and she wasn't doing anything bad. It was OUR park, right behind the house!) We went and brought her home the first day, which she was not happy about. The second day, we went to find her again and this time she hid in a friend's house, the brother insisted she wasn't there. Boy did he manage to find her really quickly when I told him that I had reported her as a runaway and the police would probably be stopping by to look for her. Suddenly, he said, "well, um, maybe...just a minute...maybe she...(he looks behind the door while I hear a female voice telling him something-not Hannah), she isn't hear, but I will tell her to call you if she comes here." Within a minute or two, she called. Surprise, surprise! She refused to come home at first and her friend was furiously texting me to please not send the police to her house. She finally came home after I assured her that the police were not going to pick her up on the way and put her in the squad car. When she got home, she started to rage. She didn't destroy anything or hurt anyone, thank goodness. We put the dog on the lease when it started and went out to the front of the house. She is much less likely to rage if neighbors can see her. She yelled a bit, but ultimately went inside and watched tv for the rest of the night. That was on Friday, the first day off school for summer. She was better on Saturday, although she was very giddy, which is usually a sign she is ending her manic phase. She was quite good on Sunday and did abide by the grounding for the whole weekend, which is very difficult for her! It has been, however, a very stressful week for me!

I hope that all makes sense, as I was typing quickly and don't want to think about it anymore, so I'm not going to proofread!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hannah's Eighth Grade Graduation and Dance

Hannah ready for the 8th Grade Formal

Mommy, Daddy, and the Girls at the Graduation. Well, the Reflections Ceremony, to be specific! AKA a stepping up ceremony.

Gramma and Hannah

Hannah's flowers

Another Dance Photo

Former Blogger...My You-Know-What!

Someone, not to mention any names, (Denise) stated in this blog post that I am a former blogger. I beg to differ. I am a lazy and busy blogger, not a former blogger! Yes, there is a difference, not much of a difference, but a difference non-the-less.

I tried to comment on Denise's post, but blogger wouldn't let me, so Denise, here is part of my comment. The rest of my comment will follow when I am there, in person, to discuss it all with you!

Don't worry, I'm bringing my snow shovel when I check into the Hotel Cinderella on the 29th!
I've turned over a new leaf with my house. Just hoping that I don't turn it back the other way anytime soon. WWACPD? is my new motto. Will fill you in on that when I see you in two weeks. Hang in there until then!!!
From the Former Blogger!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

We had a wonderful Mother's Day this year. We went with my Mom, my sister, brother-in-law, and two of my nieces to pick strawberries. We took the ferry across the James River and got really lucky to get right on, considering the two largest ferries are both out of commission. It was a beautiful day to pick strawberries! Not too hot and a bit overcast, so we were very comfortable. Strawberry picking in Virginia can get really hot! The picking wasn't perfect because Friday and Saturday were very busy days at the farm and we had to look pretty hard for strawberries that were totally red, but we managed just fine. Sydnee and Hannah were especially good at finding really red ones.

Mike, Me, Tricia
Shauna, Hannah, Gramma, Tatum, Sydnee

After we had over-filled our baskets, we headed off to the barn to pay for them and get some homemade strawberry ice cream cones. The ice cream was incredible! We had a ton of fun, with lots of laughing and joking round. My Mom suggested that we make this a Mother's Day tradition, so I hope the weather cooperates next year.

I asked Tatum if I could take a picture of her with her basket. She refused until I told her that it was for Wrigley and she ran right over to do it! She and Wrigley have become best buddies.

Shauna, Hannah, Gramma, Tatum, Sydnee

The only down side to the day was that when I got out of the van upon arriving home, I could barely walk. I have Plantar Faciitis and it was acting up, big time. This is the worst I've ever had it and I had to use a crutch to get from my bed to bathroom (about 10 feet) that night. In the morning, I was forced to call work and tell them I couldn't come in. This was my first sick day and I hated it! I wanted to go to work, but there was just no way I could possible carry the baby around and do the things I need to do for her. Luckily, by the next day, the pain had eased up quite a bit and I was able to go back. My bosses are the greatest! They offered me the use of a wheelchair, which I, in complete Denise-style stubbornness, refused. I did agree to take it easy, though. I was off on Friday, as they were going to a conference, and I started having quite a bit of pain, again, that afternoon. As of today, it is better, but still painful at times. I really need to get new shoes and some good arch supports. I plan to do that this week before we go camping next weekend. More on that later.

Hannah and Shauna

Tim and the Girls

Friday, May 13, 2011

Quotes of the Day

These are both Stephen B. quotes of the day, I seem to get quite a lot of these.

Stephen: "Mrs. S., look at my fly, it's broken."
Me: "That is a sentence I never want to hear again."

Me: "Drive carefully and don't speed."
Stephen: "I won't. I promise I'll go zero miles per hour on the ferry."

Ice Cream, Anyone?

Shauna was texting a friend. She asked, "Is it Baskin in Robins or Basket of Robins?" I was laughing too hard to answer, but after a minute or two, Alex was able to get out, "Neither, it's Baskin-Robbins!"

Hmm, I guess we need to go out for ice cream more often. I wonder if Basket of Robins has an early bird special?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The BIRDS are so annoying this yearrr! Ugh

The title of this post comes straight from Alex's Facebook status. He posted that a couple of days ago and after doing a bit of talking back and forth, Alex, Shauna, and I realized just why the birds are driving him crazy. It seems that some woodpeckers have pecked a hole in our house, in the eaves, right between Alex and Shauna's windows. They have, apparently, pecked completely through and are now residing in one of our attics. Mikey will be thrilled to read this, as I haven't told him about this yet. We just figured it out last night.

Shauna texted me this morning, telling me that she didn't need me to wake her up, since the woodpeckers had already done so. We talked about it this morning and Shauna's ideas were: 1. Call Animal Control. When I explained that Animal Control wouldn't come out to remove woodpeckers from our attic, she said, "well, what the heck are they there for, then?" (Good question, as there is a lot they won't do!) 2. "Dad can go in the attic and close up the hole. He can just swat at the birds if they try to attack him. Maybe he should use a pillow for head protection."

I'm thinking that Alex's ideas for getting rid of the woodpeckers might include poison and BB guns, seeing as he is losing quite a bit of sleep. As a teenager who can never get enough sleep, they are really making him suffer!

A post about Mother's Day and why I took my first sick day from work yesterday to follow.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

And the Capitals lose...

Mike had tickets for the Capitals playoff game this Saturday. However, they had to win at least one of four games in order for the game to happen. Unfortunately, they lost all four games! That means instead of spending a romantic weekend with my husband in DC and enjoying a fun Caps game, I will be staying in Williamsburg and doing projects around the house. Ugh! The bright spots are that I will save the gas money I would have spent driving to DC and I will get to spend Mother's Day with the kids. We are going to take the ferry across the river and go strawberry picking with my sister, her husband and kids, and my mom. Should be a fun day, unless it rains!

Luke has been getting very few hours at work lately, since his store decided to hire way more cashiers than they need. He is interviewing at a different store today. Hopefully, he will get the job and more hours.

More Birthday Party Pictures

Mikey, Janine, Jack

Luke, Drew, and Jack, enjoying their stuffed pizza. Andrea is in the background, hiding from the camera!
Mike and Michelle

Drew and Luke

"The Twins" Jack and Mike

The Family Room and Kitchen

Shauna, Hannah, Sydnee, and Tatum

Another view of the decorated family room

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Please don't faint!

What a great weekend we had! Mikey had his 50th birthday on the 25th, but he was in DC that day. Jack, Janine, and Andrea were coming down for the weekend, so we planned a surprise party for him on the 28th. Although he had some suspicions, he had forgotten about them by the time he walked in the house on Friday. We decorated the house and six of the kids were there, plus my mom, sister and her kids. I ordered pizza from Giordano's in Chicago and that was a huge hit. Pizza from Chicago is the absolute best, no matter what is said about New York pizza! While I would have loved some delicious thin crust, as well, stuffed is the only kind that can be delivered and it was delicious. We also had a delicious yellow cake with milk chocolate frosting which is Mikey's favorite, thanks to Janine. I made Jenni's Cherry Cheesecake (if you're reading this Jen, I make this quite often and everyone loves it!), although we had strawberries and blueberries on the side, instead of the cherries. We all pitched in a bought an ipod, docking station, and itunes card for Mike. Unfortunately, the ipod went through China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Alaska, and New Jersey before finally arriving in Williamsburg four days after the party. I will post pictures that our official birthday photographer, Janine, took for us.

My job is going great. I cannot express how much I LOVE it! I take care of a now-15 month old baby girl and she is awesome! I had a feeling I would like this job, but I had no idea that I would fall completely in love with this little girl and that she would become like part of my family. Her parents are fantastic, kind, and wonderful. They are so understanding of my family issues and so considerate of my needs. Whenever I need time off, I can have it. Whenever I need to schedule around doctor, orthodontist, or other appointments, they find a way to accommodate me. I could not ask for a better place to work. The best part is when the baby, L, practically jumps into my arms when she sees me and puts her head on my shoulder and gives me a giant hug each day! No matter how much stress I am going through at home, I can walk into work and have an instant stress reliever in my arms.

We also do fun things at the office. There are three other women who work there. They are all very nice. The doctors bring lunch in once a month and take us out to a nice restaurant for special occasions, such as some one's six year anniversary working there and Administrative Assistant's Day. We have also begun doing holiday exchanges. Normally, I would hate that. It is so stressful, trying to find things for someone you work with when you don't really know their preferences too well. However, our exchanges have fun rules. We have done Valentine's Day so far and today is our Easter Exchange. We pull names and then pick a date for at least a week after the holiday. The rules are that the gifts cannot cost more than $6 and they have to be purchased on clearance, after the holiday. They must also include at least some candy. It is so much fun to shop around and find the bargains!

The kids are doing well. Drew moved to an apartment, with two friends, in Richmond about three months ago. We miss him, but he is doing great and loving living on his own. I have to admit that although I miss him, things are a lot less stressful, for me, now that he is gone. It is really hard to have an adult child living in the house. They want to do their own thing and make their own rules, which don't always mesh with my rules.

Jack is loving his job in Philly and has been there almost a year now. Janine is set to graduate from Radiology School in August and then start a mammogram program.

Steven is still in jail (not sure if I ever blogged about that!). He has been in since June 23rd and is doing fantastic! It was amazing to watch his transformation, as his brain slowly began to clear, the longer he was away from drugs and alcohol. He has been in the "good behavior pod" since early September and has been working 6 days a week in the kitchen. He just got approved for work release last week, which means he will be allowed to go out and work at a regular job every day, returning to jail when he is done. He has a couple possible jobs in mind, we are just working on the details at this point. When he is released, which will be either in the beginning of August or the beginning of September, he will go straight to a long-term rehab program. He will be there for 14-18 months. He hates it when I say this, but getting sent to jail is the best thing that has happened to him.

Alex is still very busy with his drama. He just finished the high school play and is involved in two more productions at the moment. He is almost ready to get his driver's license and is taking Spanish and American Sign Language at school.

Hannah's behavior has improved in many ways. Her rages are becoming much further apart, instead of daily, as they used to be. She is slowly (very slowly) learning how to control herself and monitor her own behavior. We have a lot of ups and downs, but she is more and more often showing us mature, rational behavior. She will never be "normal", but I will take as close as we can get!

Shauna is as sweet as always. She has been having issues with severe abdominal pain and missed three days of school last week. She was diagnosed with a reflux disorder and has been doing better since being on medication. She is also a teenager and has her moments of talking back and getting mad at us, but she is still on the low end of "the teenage moodiness" scale. She has a ton of friends at school and has really started to go out a lot more to hang out with them. For those who know her, I have often had to put a few sticks of dynamite under the couch, just to get her to actually move off of it!

Time to get ready for work now. (Smile!) Did anyone notice that I didn't mention how I haven't blogged in forever???? Yeah, just thought I would jump right back in and pretend that I blogged yesterday.