Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day!

Today is Leap Day.   A special day as it only comes once every four years.   Today is my son-in-law's birthday.   He's 7 years old today!!  

Also, today is Sadie Hawkin's Day.  A day when women are allowed to ask men to marry them.  It's an old tradition.  Women ask men to marry them all the time now.  But it's cool to think that there used to be only one day every four years when a woman had any say in the matter.

I didn't ask my Hubby to marry me on Sadie Hawkin's Day.   Because I wanted him to do the asking.....and he also wanted to do the asking.  But I did "suggest" to him on that day that he should ask me.  And I gave him until the end of the year to make the big proposal.

And we got engaged on December 18 of that year.  I guess it works.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

This n That

It's been a week since I put up a post.   That probably makes it seem like I've been incredibly busy, but I have not.  What's been happening this week?

*  We unfortunately had a few deaths in the family.  That old superstition about deaths coming in threes seems to hold true.  Except in our case it was four.  Okay.....a couple of them were pretty far-fetched.  One was my cousin's wife's son (my second step-cousin in-law??)  and another was my niece's husband's grandmother.  (I can't even begin to figure out that relationship).   But two were my husband's aunts.  One aunt died during the week, and we found out her sister died on the day of the first one's wake.   Strange.  That leaves my husband as the patriarch of the family.  Even stranger.

*  I did put my new card-making skills to work making sympathy cards.  Despite the reason for it, it was fun.

* I decided it would be fun to make a couple of cute spring dresses for my two grand-daughters.  After a tough day at work Monday, I decided to go to the fabric store for a bit of "retail therapy".   Now, anyone who knows me knows I hate shopping.  Hate it!!  I don't usually consider shopping therapy.  But in this case I thought it would be fun and relaxing to browse through the patterns and pick out fabric.    After finding two very cute patterns in the new Spring pattern book, I was informed that "those patterns aren't in yet.  They'll be here in a few weeks."  What?????   That's just mean!  Since I couldn't get the patterns, it seemed fruitless to browse through the fabric.   So I went home and did what I usually do.  I found the patterns I liked on-line and ordered them.  They should be here in a couple of days.

* I've been playing Words with Friends through Facebook.  I have about 6 or 7 games going.  It takes up more time than I think it should, it's aggravating when I have either all vowels or all consonants, and even more aggravating when I'm losing......but I'm hooked on it.

* Hubby and I have been pretty stagnant the past couple months.  Even though the weather here has been unbelievable (as in - NO snow......and I mean none!)  we were winter couch potatoes.  We didn't do anything with house renovations, we didn't go out to open mics or music venues.   But I'm starting to feel the spring juices flowing, and it's time to get moving.  We'll be going to an open mic tomorrow night, and hopefully pulling up the carpet in our bedroom to start that renovation project this weekend.  Things are starting to move!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine Day Tradition

Several years ago, Hubby surprised me with a trip to the Aquarium for Valentine's Day.  For most, that wouldn't seem like the most romantic thing to do.  But for me, it was very romantic, because I just love penguins!  And our New England Aquarium in Boston has the largest display of penguins I've ever seen.   Somehow, we've made this our tradition.  Here's this year's trip:

We start the trip by taking the train into Boston.  This is really Hubby's part of the Valentine gift, since he's the one that really loves taking the train.


Our first stop, of course, is the penguin tank.  I wish I could just reach over and grab one of these little guys and tuck him into our backpack.


We saw the harbor seals being trained.  This guy is painting a heart for Valentine's Day.


And we got to see a Valentine's Day seal-smooch.


Notice my penguins in the background.


You can never have too many pictures of fish.


I loved the coloring on this guy, but he was camera shy.   I chased him all over the place trying to get his photo.


Real coral.....and I love this guy's fins.


Hubby's favorite is the dragon fish.  Can you see him?


Jellies are so peaceful and beautiful.


They have a new Manta touch tank.  There's supposed to be sharks in there too that you can touch, but apparently they are "shy"!


We made sure to be there to watch the penguins being fed.  They're pushy little buggers.  And pretty funny when they knock each other off the rocks to get a better chance at the food.



It amazed me that each penguin got four or five fish.....some of the fish looked bigger than the penguins!



This is the giant sea turtle seen from the top of the enormous central tank.


Couldn't resist a photo with the penguin and his baby....even if is it was a statue.


Walking through Quincy Marketplace, they always have an ice sculpture where you can have your romantic photo taken.


And the real reason for Hubby's trip to Boston.   We had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Painting a House - the 4 year old way!

We got the call during the week.   Emily had been given a big, wooden dollhouse.   It needed painting.  And Emily insisted that "Pepere has to help me paint it."  She knows that Pepere is a painter, because he has lots of paints in his studio room.

So we agreed to have Emily over with her dollhouse for a painting party.  When Emily assured Pepere she had on her painting clothes, and asked if he had his on, Pepere said, "All my clothes are painting clothes!"

We set up the house on the kitchen table.


And Emily added the first color.


She was very gracious about allowing us to color it "anyway you want".  




A lot of the fun was in the mixing.


We spent two hours painting......and we still have a ways to go.



After a clean-up and a change of clothes, we settled down to read the book we gave her for Valentine's Day.



Then enjoyed some pizza (has to be Papa Gino's!)  while we watched an episode of "Calliou".



Then Pepere decided it would be fun to get her all riled up again playing with his drums!


Enjoy the show!

video







Sunday, February 12, 2012

Instead of this......let's do that

Trying to prioritize projects when you've bought a new old house isn't easy.  Especially when that house is almost 100 years old, and was woefully neglected by the previous owners.   The 1970's orange shag rug in the living room is proof of that.

So Hubby and I tried to decide what should be done first, second, etc.   The most obviously glaring and disgusting things needed to be tended to first.   The ripped and peeling bathroom floor, the rusted medicine cabinet, the leak in the roof at the chimney all came first.

Of course, cost comes into play during the decision-making process.   $6 wallpaper and free floor tiles in the bathroom puts that project ahead of the thousand-dollar remodel we'll need to update the kitchen.

A new bathroom vanity and sink were well down on the list. Even though the vanity was rickety and shaky, it was functional and didn't look too bad.  Until this happened:


Apparently, the staples holding the whole thing together let go.   Now it was neither functional nor aesthetically pleasing.

So off we went to Home Depot to buy a new vanity.  We found one we like that also had a sink top, and figured we'd be on our way.   But of course, nothing is ever as easy as you think it's going to be.
No matter how much we pushed, shoved, turned, rotated, cursed or yelled, the damn box would not fit into our car.  We tried the trunk.  We tried the back seat.  We considered tying it to the roof.  But it wasn't happening.

We called Jamie, the only person we know in Salem with a truck.   She wasn't in town.   We thought of Doug, who has an SUV, but 8:30 on a Friday night didn't seem like a good time to ask someone to come out and save us.

So we coughed up an extra $20 and fulfilled Hubby's dream of driving a Home Depot "rent me by the hour" truck.


We had to hurry, because the store closed at 9, and if we didn't have it back by then, we'd have to brign it back in the morning and pay for the entire night.   Luckily, we live literally less than 2 miles from the store, and we got the vanity home and the truck back just before 9. 

(This included "topping it off" with gas.  Despite the fact that we drove about 3 miles in it, the store employee insisted that unless we had proof that we'd filled it back up, they'd have to charge us an extra fee.)

And the next morning, Hubby got to work.



And it came out looking like this;


One more item checked off on our list of things to do!

Friday, February 10, 2012

It's the Little Things

A friend of mine, Betsi Mandrioli,  wrote a song called "It's the Little Things".  (If you go to her site, you can click on a link of the song on the right-hand side)   In the song, she talks about all the little things that make her relationship with her husband so special.    He leaves the porch light on when she's out.  She hands him Advil before he even asks, because she can tell he has a headache.  

Most good relationships are like that.   All the little things that make your love so real. 

My hubby is the king of "the little things".   One of my favorites is the cup waiting on the counter near the tea pot in the morning when I get up, complete with tea bag and spoon.   It shows me that he's thinking of me before he leaves for work.

This past week has been horrendously stressful at work.  Hubby has been the soul of patience, listening to me blab along about all the drama.   He knows I needed to relax, so he told me he'd give me some TLC last night.

And so he planned, shopped for, cooked and cleaned up a wonderful dinner for me.  Not only was it a dinner, it was all my favorite things:

A beautiful salad



Wine


Marinated chicken on the grill with mushrooms!


Homemade mashed potatoes


Steamed Broccoli


The thing about this meal is, it didn't just relax me for the evening - it finally made me realize how stupid I've been.  How crazy I am that I've allowed situations beyond my control to overshadow the most fantastic thing in my life.   That no one in the world has a Hubby like mine, who loves me so much and is willing to do anything for me.   Why have I been wasting my time with stupid crap, when I have so much that's wonderful in my life?

Everyone is a work in progress, and I'm no different.  I'm going to try, once again, to change my attitude and count my blessings, rather than my aggravations.  

And when I'm stressed out at work, I'll think of grilled chicken and mashed poatoes.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

20 Weird Things

My good friend Joan over at  How To Be A Housewife  put up a post called "20 Weird Things" about herself, having been challenged by a friend of hers to do so.    Joan, in turn, challenged her readers to do the same.    So........here they are, in no particular order:

1.  My sheets and blankets have to be smooth and square on the bed or I can't sleep.  If the blankets become messed up at night, I have to get out of bed and re-make the bed before I can go back to sleep.

2.  I love the smell of coffee, but I drink tea.

3.  I like most things toasted very dark, almost burnt.

4.  I can't stand anything soggy, but I do like the soggy bread in a bowl of French Onion Soup.

5.  I like to read a real newspaper, and a real book vs. online newspaper or e-reader.

6.  I suffer from mono-hiccupitis.....the tendency to hiccup just once after the first sip of a carbonated beverage.

7.  I adore penguins.......real, stuffed, photos or videos.

8.  I can say all the United States alphabetically.

9.  I have a cat that thinks he's a dog and looks like a cow.

10.  I started doing Child Care and worked in the field for 30 years, because I didn't believe it was good for my children to be in daycare.

11.  If I get the hiccups once in a day, I will have them three times before the day is over.

12.  I got my first tattoo and went white-water rafting to celebrate my 40th birthday.

13.  I was the best man at my brother's wedding.

14.   I have a daughter who plays professional football.

15.  I say Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit at the beginning of each month to insure good luck for me for the whole month.

16.  I learned to play a card game called "45's" at the age of 5.  This game is played only by people living in the Merrimack Valley area of Massachusetts.

17.  I like to go to the beach in the middle of winter, but not in the summer.

18.  I married a hippie, who is the love of my life.

His contributions to the list - things he thinks are weird but that I find perfectly normal:

19.  I read in bed, on my side so that the book is sideways.

20.  I love to cook on the grill  and he doesn't   (he thinks that's a "man thing")

21.  I can watch repeats of the same TV show over and over (I also can read the same book more than once if I really like it).

So there you have it.   21 Weird Things about Me  (I gave you an extra).   Now make a list and leave me a comment with your blog address, and I will link it to my post.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cha-ching??? Not really

It's "tax season", and I'm sure everyone is diligently putting together all the crap they need to do their taxes.

For the past few years, I've used Turbo Tax. With a condo that didn't generate enough interest payments to get me over the standard deduction, and no other considerations, it was the easiest and fastest way to go.

This was the year I thought I'd need to dole out the dough for someone to figure our taxes, what with the selling of the condo and the buying of the house.   I was anxiously delighted to find out what kind of tax break I'd get for losing thousands of dollars on the sale of the condo.

But at the last minute, I couldn't find it in my heart to fork over $300-$400 to have a professional do it, and decided to give Turbo Tax a try.  I paid the extra $20 to do the upgraded version.  

Sadly, it turns out you don't get a break on a personal loss.  If I'd been a business and sold a property at a loss, I could have gotten something off my taxes.   Go figure.

Anyway, after punching in all the numbers and answering all the questions, I came up with a return of over $2K between the federal and the state ( We have to pay MA state tax cause Hubby works there, even though we live in NH  -   the bastards).

Cha-ching!!   $2K!!  Until a friend reminded me that it was my money in the first place, and they've just been holding it, interest free.

Friday, February 3, 2012

I'm So Done.......

I'm so done with being polite.   There's holding your tongue to avoid conflict, and then there's being walked all over.   And I'm so done with it.

When someone is infringing on our personal space, why don't we do something about it?

A person in a restaurant is speaking loudly on their cell phone.   Do we go over and ask them to please take their conversation outside?    No.....we roll our eyes and complain with our companion.

A person is smoking within our breathing area.  Do we ask them to please go smoke their cigarette elsewhere?  No.......we wave our arms about and try to give a "hint" that the smoking is bothering us.

A person is loud and obnoxious and annoying at the movie theater.   Do we ask them to tone it down?  No.......we sit and become aggravated because our movie is being ruined.

I'm one of the worst offenders of this kind of non-confrontational behavior.   The scenarios I've described have happened to everyone, and for some reason we cannot get up the chutzpah to do something about it.

We don't want to be rude.  We don't to offend.  We don't want to make a scene.   

It might take me some time  - but I want to grow a backbone -- I want  to stand up for myself - I want to recapture my personal space and assert my rights.

Anyone have any ideas how?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Seriously?

I know money is tight these days, but here are some real-life scenarios that happened in my office:

1)  Phone Call

Member:  I have a question about my bill.

Me:  (thinking she means her membership bill) Let me check that for you.

I check her account and see nothing amiss.

Me: What seems to be the problem

Member:  My car was towed, and they charged me for 6 extra miles and it was only 5. 
They overcharged me by $4. 

Me: If it was 5.1 miles, they would have charged you for 6.

Member:  Oh no, my husband and I each went out seperately and measured the distance in our cars with our odometers and it was just 5.

Seriously?   $4???

***************************************

2)  In the Office

Member:  I'd like to buy Disney tickets.  I need a whole bunch of them.  I need 2  2-day passes, and 2 2-day Park hoppers, and 2 2-day water park passes.

Me:  Are these all for different people?

Member: No, they're all for me and my wife.

Me:  Sir, it would be much more cost effective to buy 6-day park hoppers with water parks.  With Disney tickets, the more days you buy on one ticket, the less you pay per day. 

I do all the math and demonstrate to him how, if he does it my way, he will save over $250.

Member:  Wow, thank you so much.  You saved me a bundle of money.

That afternoon - on the phone - same member:

Member:  I made a mistake.  I should have bought 5 day passes.  I don't think we'll use 6 days.

Me:  Sir  - the difference between 5 days and 6 days is $8 per ticket.  (I'm thinking now I have to void the whole sale and do it over again)

Member:  yea, so I'll come in and change them tomorrow.

Seriously?   $16 on an $1100 sale?

*******************************

3)  My very favorite:

Member:  I'd like you to explain these charges to me on this receipt.  My husband bought these gift cards and movie tickets two days before Christmas.

Me:  Well, it looks like I charged him as a non-member.   Let me check.

I check the account and sure enough, his membership was cancelled in July.   Her membership, however, is valid.

Member:  He shouldn't be cancelled.  I didn't cancel him.

Me:  Let me check with Membership.

I call membership, and they assure me he was cancelled.  However, they can re-instate him as of today.

I explain this to the member and she says, "oh no, you can't reinstate him.  He died Christmas day."

Seriously?  You spend time 2 weeks after your husband suddenly died sorting through receipts and confronting a company that you think overcharged him by less than $20?

Seriously??????