Monday, September 29, 2008

No Play

Time for some grumbling............. Hubby and I were supposed to be in a play. Hubby got involved with this theater company several years ago when he was pressed into service as their piano player. They loved his work, so he was asked to play again for every musical they've done. The last time they did a musical, I joined in the cast with a very teeny tiny part so I could go to rehearsals and spend time with my hubby. Each time a play ends, Hubby says that's going to be his last play. They're so much fun, but they're also an incredible amount of work. A few weeks ago, Hubby got the call again and despite his protestations, he agreed to do another play. I figured maybe I could do the same thing - get a small part so as to be part of the cast. Since the actors need to audition with a song, Hubby was asked to be at the auditions. The first one was a Sunday late afternoon and literally no one showed up! That should have been the clue! Another audition was already scheduled for Monday night. We went again (the play is in a town 1/2 from our house) and this time three people showed up. Five men and five women are needed to stage this play. The director isn't one to give up so he asked if we could come back the following Monday if he drummed up some more actors. We said sure....he got four more people to come last Monday. Still not enough. We left the playhouse after being told by those that came to audition that they'd ask around their friends. Hubby and I both left with the impression that we'd gather again this Monday and hopefully we'd have enough people. We were ambivalent all week about whether or not we wanted the play to be staged. It really is a lot of fun and you meet some great people. But the time commitment is huge, and with a new job and a new grandchild.....we just weren't sure we wanted to do it. We showed up tonight at the appointed time of 7:30 and the place was dark......and locked. No one called or emailed us to let us know the rehearsal was cancelled. I was mad....we'd wasted our time and even worse - our gas by going down there for nothing. When we got home I got online and checked my email.....and there was an email from the director (with a time of 7:35) saying so sorry they wouldn't be able to stage the play but perhaps we could stage it in the spring and he hoped we'd be part of the cast then. No apology for not letting us know ahead of time. I don't know what happened. Hubby and I are both positive we left there with the director saying he'd see us all this Monday. But not one single person was there. So either we got it wrong, or he let everyone else know except for us. It's suspicious to me that we had an email when we got he realized he forgot and was just trying to cover his ass. Hubby sent a return email thanking the director for including us and assuring him we'd be interested next spring. I wouldn't have been so nice. Mine would have started with, "Where the hell were you?" I guess we'll never know what really happened.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Day with Emily

Hubby and I really wanted to go apple picking today and thought it would be fun to bring Emily, who is almost 14 months now. Unfortunately, Hurricane Whoever showed up and dumped tons of rain on New England this weekend, effectively ending any outside activities for the whole weekend. We still wanted to take Emily out for the day, so we searched around online and found a place called "One Stop Fun". It's an indoor playground and advertised a toddler area. The toddler area turned out to be a small ball pit and a slide, but it was enough to keep Emily's attention for an hour.
When we first go there she was fine with all the noise and the kids running around. I was relieved because she'd never been to a place like this before and I wasn't sure if she'd like it. She did stand there for about ten minutes and just watch in wonder as kids jumped around her.

Eventually she walked close to the ball pit so I put her in it. She sat up to her chest in balls for awhile, just trying to figure out what to do.She figured out that she could make the balls move by kicking her feet, and also by pushing them around with her hands like she does with water in her bathtub.

Then she found the stairs leading up to the slide.She thought it was pretty cool that Pepere was at the bottom of the slide. She went down once or twice but it was really too big for her and she had much more fun going back down the stairs.Finally she figured out how to "swim" through the balls.

She had a great time.

From there we went to Kimball's Ice Cream Stand in Westford which is right down the street. Pepere wants to be known to his grandchildren as the "Ice Cream King" so we got some and sat outside since it had stopped raining. Emily couldn't decide if she wanted to eat ice cream or her flower. She did have a few bites of ice cream:

But really just wanted to get down and see the goats. She went home happy and dirty, which follows my motto - "At the end of the day, a dirty kid is a happy kid".

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Surprise Gift

I came home from work today and noticed, as I pulled up in front of my condo building, a big white styrofoam box sitting on the front porch of the building. What the heck was this? I got to the door and looked.....Omaha Steaks! Some lucky person got a shipment of Omaha Steaks. I leaned over closer to see which condo it belonged to, and the label said, "Karen and Tag Vennard"!!! Wow!! It was for us!! I carried the box inside, curious beyond belief to know who would send us such a gift. I wanted to wait for hubby to get home so we could open the box together, so I checked around for a card, but right on the front of the box was a note, "from Isabel Frechette". My Aunt Isy had sent us the steaks. My Aunt Isy is my Dad's brother's widow. She is somewhere in her 80's and has only one son, Michael, who is divorced and has no children. There is no other blood relative in Aunt Isy's family. Recently, she moved to Salem and I sent her a note saying if she needed anything.....a ride to the grocery store (although she still drives) or a help with anything, she could give me a call since we're neighbors now. Several weeks later her son became very ill and they didn't think he'd live. Aunt Isy called and asked if it would be okay if she put my name as her Emergency Contact Person in case something happened to her since her son was no longer capable. I said of course. She went to a lawyer and got me papers to be her Durable Power of Attorney in case of illness. We went over and got the papers and then I kept in touch with her about how her son was doing. Thankfully, he recovered but will need nursing care. So all this apparently led to her sending us a gift to say thank you for our help. I don't think we did too much, but I know it makes her feel better to show her gratitude. So now our freezer is full of steaks, hamburgers, hotdogs, pork chops, stuffed sole, stuffed potatoes......and I can't remember what else! There was also a nice cutlery set in with the meats, which is something we've been wanting to get. Thanks Aunt Isy. You're a sweet woman.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The New Job

Working in a regular job again is pretty weird. I really like having a real place to go everyday. I dont' have to wait and wonder if I'll get called in to work. I don't have to worry about my paycheck being too small. I don't have to be bored or disgusted with "kids these days" and how bratty they are. Those are all the up sides of having a "real job". I also like having co-workers. When you're subbing you're always the odd person out. Even though I've worked in the School District for many years and knew a lot of people, I was never a regular, so not included in anything. No invitations to Tupperware parties, no one ever told me when it was "Jeans Day" (so I'd show up in a skirt and be the only one without jeans on) - no Christmas party or Secret Santa Gift exchange for me. It sounds funny but you really do miss that stuff. The down side is organizing my life with the knowledge that I will be going to work every day. Right now I'm working 32 hours a week, which gives me either a couple of half days or a full day off. Once the new office is up and running I will be full time. So right now is not so bad. Tomorrow is a half day, so I'll have some time to do laundry, clean my bathroom....possibly shop for a fall jacket and some new shoes. There are too many things I need to scrunch into one half-day. The rest will just have to wait for the next day off! So far I'm happy with the job. I'm still in training and will also be in training all next week. It's a very varied job, which I will like. And a lot has to be learned "on the job". But I'm confident I'll be able to learn everything and I'm told everyone is very helpful when you're stuck. We'll see about that!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Yesterday was officially the first day of Autumn. The weather has been cool...... very autumn-ish. It's hard to believe summer is over and it's time for another New England winter. It's been a busy summer as usual, and it doesn't look like things are going to slow down anytime soon. Hubby and I have signed up to do a play. Hubby got started with doing plays several years ago when he was asked to fill in at the last moment for a piano player in a musical. Since then he's done several shows. A couple of years ago he was asked to not only play the piano, but to have a speaking part as well. He did a couple of shows like that. Then last year I ended out doing a very small role in a play....mostly because I didn't want to be left at home while Hubby was out two or three nights a week doing rehearsals. This time I've auditioned like everyone else and have a good chance to have a speaking part. I'm a little bit scared. Not of going up on the stage ... it's a melodrama so acting talent isn't a high priority. As long as you can be over-the-top dramatic it should be okay. I'm worried about learning my lines. I have a terrible memory so I'm going to have to come up with all sorts of tricks to memorize. It's a big commitment.....we must be crazy. I worked my first full day yesterday at my new job. Right now I'm in the Lawrence office for training. It's kind of a crappy drive.....straight down route 28, which is all lights and traffic. It takes me about 20 minutes to 1/2 hour depending on how I hit the lights. I guess that's not bad considering the commute that some people have to do. When I finally work at the Salem office my commute will be about 3 minutes. Now that's more like it. The training yesterday was pretty bad. The trainer is an extremely nice woman. I'd love to be working side by side with her on a daily basis because she's fun and easy-going. But she loves to talk....and not about the job. In our 8 hour day yesterday, she literally trained us for 45 minutes. I love to sit and chat about her kids and everything else under the sun but I'd also like to learn something! I go back there today all day and a half day Wednesday, then Thursday and Friday I'll be in Haverhill with my friend Sylvie. I'm sure that will be more informative. Our new grandson is thriving. His mom says he's eating like a pig and pooping it all out the other end! Perfect! She goes Thursday for his first check-up to make sure he's gaining weight. I'm so proud of my stepdaughter and her boyfriend. They are both very involved and have put the baby at the center of their it should be. Time to get ready for work!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Genius Babies

Everyone in our family knows that my granddaughter Emily is the cutest, smartest baby in the whole world.....because I tell them so all the time!
So here are two stories to prove it:
DIL Kara told me one day last week she told Emily, "time for a bath Em, splish splash". Emily went over to a big pile of books and sorted through until she found the one she wanted, turned to the page with the baby having a bath and pointed to the page!!
I was babysitting the other day and singing "A You're Adorable" to Emily as I do every time I'm with her. The letter K is "K you're so kissable" so I usually stop at that letter and make a big kissing sound. This time when I sang it to her, when I got to the J, she put her hand over her mouth in anticipation for blowing a kiss when I did the letter K! Unbelievable, yes???
And by the way, our new grandson is just as smart. Grandpa Tag was playing the guitar and Noah picked his head up off my shoulder and stared at Tag as he played. He's going to be a musician....we just know it!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Noah Frank is finally here!

We've been waiting rather impatiently for our new grandchild to arrive. Today was finally the day. Hubby had spoken with his daughter during the day on Wednesday and she said she was having contractions but they were still too far apart for her to go in. We text messaged around 10pm and got a message back that she'd call when things got going.
At 2am, we got a call from Wendy's boyfriend Allan that they were at the hospital, she was 6 centimeters dilated, and the hospital staff had told him he could call and let grandparents know they could come to the hospital.
We were a little surprised by this. We thought we'd be waiting at home until the baby was born. But if the kids wanted us at the we would go. We grabbed some coffee and tea and made our way to Leominster, almost an hour away. When we got there, Allan's parents were there and we settled in to wait. The nursery window was right there, so we spent some time watching the nurses care for the newborns.
Finally at 4am or so, Allan's mother went to the window to inquire how they were doing. Of course, the nurse wouldn't give out any info, but she could send the father out. (It's still so funny to think of these kids as the "father and mother".) Allan came out, looking very tired and weary, to tell us that they'd given Wendy a painkiller and it had slowed things down. She was dozing at the moment. We thought it would still be hours yet.
At 6:30, Allan came back out yelling, "It's a boy!" Once things had gotten going again, they'd gone with a vengence. Noah Frank was born about 5:45. We were delighted to find out we could accompany Allan inside to see the baby. The parade of grandparents followed him to Wendy's room, where she was sitting up in bed like a queen holding her new son.
Everything had gone incredibly well. No epidural, no episiotomy, and a minimal amount of pushing. Wendy looked wonderful, like she'd hardly had a problem. We got the chance to hold him and take many photos.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

First Day on the New Job

My first day of orientation at AAA was today. It was a bit anti-climatic. It was only three hours and we spent the whole time going over and filling out paperwork. What I did like was that the woman, Pat, was very organized, very precise and very professional. She certainly had all her papers in order and went through them with us page by page. AAA seems like it's going to be my kind of company....I like things well-organized. And they don't seem to spare any expense to make sure the employees are well trained. Tomorrow is another three hours of orientation. Pat said we'll probably get on the computers and start seeing the work we're going to do. Cool.
My daughter Jamie took Emily out in the car and sent me this photo of Emily using her "big girl muscles" to try and buckle her own car seat:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Another False Alarm......of a different kind.

Daughter Jamie called last night at about 11pm. Since she is not the one who's pregnant, I was instantly on alert that something must be wrong. Sure enough, she says, "Guess where I am?" She was at Parkland Medical Center with a 90% chance of having appendicitis. I was instantly in "Mom Mode"...asking questions. She said she'd begun to have pain around 3pm and by 8:30pm she felt the need to go to the emergency room. Luckily she was at her friend Jen's house, and Jen was able to bring her there. The doctors did blood tests, etc., but were still unable to determine if it was appendicitis due to some symptoms that didn't match up.....primarily that the pain was not localized in the right lower quadrant. She also told me later that she didn't have severe pain when they raised her right knee to her chest. I know from my own appendicitis when I was 11 that this is a primary indication. So they wanted to do an MRI, which involved drinking two big cups of contrast medium, which would take 2-3 hours. I offered to go and sit with her, but she was comfortably enconsed in a room with a TV and was watching the football game. I told her to call me as soon as she knew what was going on. She called about 2am.....the scan didn't show much...they couldn't see the appendix very well because she didn't have enough fat for contrast!! (God knows I wouldn't have had that problem!) So now the ER doctor wanted to confer with the surgeon and then they'd make a decision. I told Jamie to call me back when that happened. About 4am she called again. The doctors were releasing her since she had no fever and the pain had subsided. They told her to come back in the morning and they'd re-do the bloodwork. They re-did the bloodwork this morning and her white count had gone down. They'd given her an antibiotic last night and another to take today. I asked her if they'd given her an indication of what they thought was wrong. The only clue she had was the discharge papers that said "abdominal pain of unknown origin". I know you can have chronic appendicitis that flairs up periodically. Awhile before I had my appendix removed, I had had abdominal pain that they diagnosed as a pulled muscle. Looking back after the appendicitis that put me in surgery, they decided that the first episode was probably a flair-up. I also remember that when my brother John was little they thought he had appendicitis but it turned out to be an infection of some gland that is near the appendix. So we'll just have to wait and see what happens. I hope it was just an infection. I know that appendix surgery is much easier these days....all arthroscopic....but it's still surgery. I'd rather Jamie can avoid I'm sure she is too!

Friday, September 12, 2008


I have finally found the most boring substitute job in the world. I am subbing for the secretary in the IT department. This office is in a separate building from all the fact, it's in an old school in town that houses various offices that they have no other room for. The IT director was here for about an hour this morning, then left for the day (he said "have a nice weekend" before he left....otherwise I wouldn't have known.) There are two other people here in another office, but besides that I am alone. Those two people left for a meeting this morning for about an hour and I was completely alone! My only job is to answer the phone, which has rung 7 times in 5 hours. So far today I have: 1. Finished reading one book and started another. 2. Checked my email four times. 3. Checked my AESOP account for subbing assignments 4 times. 4. Taken an online IQ test (where I scored well above average) 5. Looked at all the other blogs I like to read whose URL's I could remember since I don't have my favorites. 6. Written emails to several people. 7. Played Text Twist 8. Played Minesweeper 9. Turned on Pandora so I could listen to music. 10. Checked Adperk where the only magazines available for the last month have been yucky ones.....all the others keep saying they're "coming soon". 11. Talked to my daughter for 1/2 hour on my cell phone (while I was alone). This is just confirming my decision to change jobs. I can't be this bored every day. My mind is turning to mush. I'll go home exhausted from doing nothing....not a good exhausted....a "can I lay on the couch and veg the rest of the night" exhausted. I'm hoping the new job involves some time of brains....because if I don't use mine soon, I will lose it!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A New Job

It looks like I have a new job. For the past 4 years or so I've been floating. Up until that time, I'd done some form of daycare. Home daycare, working in the Vocational Department with the Child Care program, Director of a preschool program and finally being a partner in opening and running my own center. During all that time I loved my work. I loved being with kids all day, loved doing curriculum, loved every aspect of the job.
Unfortunately, the situation ended badly with the daycare I owned. 'Nuff said on that subject....I can't dwell on that. But it put me in a weird situation. I got a job immediately after as the assistant director at a large national daycare chain. I won't say the name of it, but it was the most horrendous job I've ever had. I lasted 4 months and then moved on to another daycare. Same situation. From there I started subbing in the school system, left that to try another assistant director in another daycare. I hated that, and went back to subbing. And I've come to hate the subbing as well.
There's lots of reasons why the daycares didn't work out. I've come to the conclusion though that two reasons are the most prominent.
1) They were not MY centers. After owning and running a place of my own, I couldn't work for someone else. They didn't do things the way I liked....they didn't handle the kids and the families the way I thought was right. It was too frustrating to have to sit back as the assistant and not handle situations the way I wanted to.
2) Kids are not the same as they used to be. I guess I'm "old-fashioned". I expect kids to behave, to learn manners and to respect adults. Kids don't do that anymore. Parents bend over backwards to allow children to "be themselves" and any hint of discipline is not in their vocabulary. When I was doing child care in my home, and in the center I owned as well, I treated the children as I had treated my own.....with heavy doses of both discipline and love. And most kids in my care thrived. At the other centers I worked at there was neither discipline nor love. And I can't work like that.
So all this left me in limbo. I don't want to do child care any more, but it's the only thing I've ever known. I started subbing as an interim thing and I've done it for the last four years. Two years ago I started subbing as school secretaries as well, and I found that I liked it. I never thought I'd really like working in an office, but it's okay.
I've tried for two years to get hired in the school system as a full-time secretary, but I haven't been successful. So I've decided to move on to something else. It's been hard to find another job, because I have no experience or background besides the subbing I've done as a secretary.
Lucky for me, I have a very good friend. Sylvie is the office manager at AAA and worked very hard to get me a job there. They're opening a new office right in my home town, and I've been hired to be a "MSC".....a Member Services Counselor. Basically I'll be answering phones and helping customers with travel information, signing up new members and helping people who come into the office. It's full time, full bennies, 9-5, no nights or weekends. I couldn't really ask for more.
But I'm really nervous. Because it's a huge change. And I'm not a change kind of person. I still have the same curtains up in my living room since I moved in 5 years ago, for crying out loud! I usually find what I like and I'm happy to stay with that for a long time. So switching jobs.....actually switching a huge step for me. I don't know if I'll like it....if I can adapt to NOT working with kids....if I'll be able to stand being in an office all day. But I'm going to give it my best shot.....and hope things work out for the best.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Family Reunion

We had our Bergeron Family Reunion yesterday. The Bergerons are my mother's side of the family. There were seven siblings in my mother's family, and those brothers and sisters produced 25 grandchildren. (my generation) We lost count of how many are in the next generation (my children) - last time we counted there were fifty - and now there's another generation. We started the reunions in 1994 after my Uncle Joe died. We went to his wake and saw cousins we hadn't seen in years. After talking for a while about how sad it was that we only saw each other at funerals, it was decided that we should have a reunion. The first year, I was working for our town's recreation department at the town beach/park. I talked to my boss and she gave me permission to have the reunion there on the Sunday after Labor Day since the park would be closed after Labor Day. And so a tradition was born. This year was our 15th reunion - on the same date, at the same time every year. It's incredibly easy. Everyone brings their own food/beverages and a dish to "pass". Bring your own lawn chairs....some bring grills....some bring folding tables. People show up when they can....some for all day....some for an hour or two. This year we had over 70 people. The highlight of the event was a visit from my cousin Ruth, along with her husband and son, from Ohio. I hadn't seen her for something like 30 years. We've been very lucky with the weather. Last year was the only "iffy" year. It rained lightly for a bit.....we sat under the small overhang. Later in the day it cleared and more people showed up. We've never had rain any other time. Some years are chilly, some hot. This year was outstanding.....a glorious day....especially after the drenching rains and high winds of Hurricane Hanna went through on Saturday night. It's a blessing for us to have a tight-knit family. I enjoy seeing all my cousins every year. My Uncle Chanel, who at 82 (ish) is the oldest member of the family, mentioned to me that he hoped the reunion meant as much to the younger generation as it did to the older. I hope so too. I'd like to see the reunion go on forever.

Friday, September 5, 2008


I got to babysit Emily yesterday while DIL did some school stuff. She can now climb onto the couch without the assistance of another piece of furniture....or a toy.....or the dog. She also blows kisses! Yesterday I got a regular kiss, a blown kiss and a wave bye-bye when I left! She either loves me or wanted me to move my ass out the door!
Here's a picture or two:

She loves her books!

And she loves her Cheerios!

Here's how much she loves her dog, Tina.

Even Tina gets her famous kisses!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Jim's German Fries

On Monday Hubby and I went up to the Hopkinton (NH) Fair. We love going to fairs but our reason for going this time was to visit my friend Sylvie. She and her husband and another couple started a little wagon to sell German Fries. Since both Sylvie's husband and their partner's names are both Jim ......well, you can see where I'm going with this, right? The fair was tons of fun. It was very big...had all the animals you could ever want. The 4H program there was excellent. It was fun to see all the young kids showing off their animals. There were also many, many rides ....which Hubby and I refuse to go on just on principle. Seriously, do we want to go on something that is taken down and put back up every week or two? Too scary for us. The ride prices were pretty outrageous too......$4-$5 PER RIDE!
What they didn't have were very many craft booths. Most of the stuff was "commercial" - such as Tupperware or pots and pans, etc. The fair we usually go to has lots of booths for people who make their own crafts. Also, the crafts booths were all intermingled amongst the food wagons. It was pretty confusing. And there were HUNDREDS of food wagons. Too many, really. I mean, how many different fried dough places does there need to be? It took us a couple of hours of walking around before we found Jim's German Fries. It was like finding an oasis in the desert! It was worth the wait though.......freshly sliced potatoes...real peanut oil....and mine all covered in cheese! Heaven! Jim's German Fries will be at the Rochester NH Fair on September 21 - 27. Check it out......and tell Sylvie and Jim that Karen says hi!