Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Colin Goes to College

Just in time for Christmas, Colin got an acceptance letter from Western Carolina University.  He's over the moon!  His senior exit project presentation went very well; he got a 7 out of 8.  Now if we can just get him to pass Statistics!  WCU is in Cullowhee, a small mountain town 50 miles west of Asheville.  Looks like a beautiful campus.  We'll probably be taking a tour over the holidays.  He'll have snow!  Lucky.

Is anyone still reading this blog???

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Peeking Through the Cobwebs

Let's see ... at the end of October, my dear friends Judith & Jeremy from across the pond in Oxford, UK, came for a visit.  Long, long ago, in another galaxy, Judith and my mom were friends in the Philippines.  We spent two summers with her at her home in England, after she moved back home.  One summer I worked as her nanny for her two children, Rupert & Clare.  Suffice it to say, Judith and her husband, Jeremy, are dear, dear friends of ours.  Melanie fell in love with "Juwith" and never left her side.  We went to Old Salem in Winston-Salem, and one day they went to Asheville to see the Biltmore House.

I just burned my finger on a hot glue gun, so I will finish later.

Monday, October 15, 2007

How Many Peachtree Roads ARE there???

Just returned from Atlanta for the annual World Partners Adoption family reunion.  We had a really good time catching up with old friends.  I drove down with friends in my van (as it had the built-in video player).  They brought along their nifty-thrifty GPS doo-dad.  In the middle of the night Friday night, as the car lay slumbering in the parking lot at the Hilton Suites on Peachtree Dunwoody Drive, some punk-o-matic decided that he/she liked the looks of that GPS doo-dad and decided that he/she was entitled to have it!  A quick jab to the rear window with a baseball bat or some other blunt object, the window shattered and the car was open!  The delicious GPS was pocketed and off they ran.  Probably was in a pawn shop before our sleepy little eyes opened to the rays of the early morning sunrise.

As to why my car alarm didn't go off?  Who knows.  Maybe it did, but someone heard it, cursed under their breath for it waking them up, put a pillow over his head and went back to sleep.  Who pays attention to those things anyway?  All they are is an annoyance.  And where was the burly security guard hired by Hilton to make sure all their guests' belongings are safe and secure?  Either he was "on break" or, closer to the truth, he doesn't exist.  The attitude I got from the front desk was, "Hm.  Sucks to be you!  Here's the phone book!"  No free breakfast, no coupon for the health club.  No fruit basket, nothing.  Zip.

We spent "45 minutes" (as promised) (which turned into 1-1/2 hours) in a nondescript industrial section of Atlanta, on some street named Peachtree Something or Other Avenue, I'm sure, getting the glass replaced in my van.  We made it to the reunion without any more diversions.  Had quite a nice time, actually.   We made it back to CLT in 3 hours (amazing how quickly you can get here without potty or dinner stops).  And may I highly recommend the Burger Barn in Cowpens, South Carolina?  The burgers are out of this world, but I would skip the chicken stew.  What do you expect from a town called "Cowpens"?

 

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Adventure in Dog-dom, continued.

...so I go out and check out this dog.  I'm completely bumfoozled because both of the gates in the yard are closed, and I can't see where he got in.  Unless, as I said, someone decided we looked like a nice home for an unwanted dog, and they put him over the fence.  He wasn't a very friendly dog; he growled at us, and wouldn't let us near him to see if he had a collar.  I gave him some food, but decided I wasn't in the mood to get rabies, so I called animal control.  The Animal Lady had a time getting to our house due to a gas leak in the back of the neighborhood.  She finally got the dog into her little noose thingie and off he went.  I felt a little bad, since he probably would be euthanized.  I didn't see that he was even a little bit sociable.  Who knows?

Friday morning our own Boudreaux appeared to be feeling a little bit under the weather.  He hadn't really eaten in several days, and just lay on the couch sleeping all the time.  He wouldn't even run after a Beanie Baby (they're all his now; I knew those things would come in handy some day!!)  So off to the vet we went.  As he was running a little fever, she scared me a little suggesting he might have bladder stones, common with schnauzers.  But the xray showed nothing.  Tonight I made him a scrambled egg, and he wolfed it down (dogged it down?  Ha!) so I'm wondering if his food was bad.  I always buy Purina, none of that Chinese dog food with melamine or lead paint or whatever in it.  Dunno ... I plan to ditch it and buy a new bag tomorrow.  Poor puppy.

So I dearly love dogs, but I think I would like to call a moratorium on any stray animals heading my way! 

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Dog Lady

What the heck?  Am I the town dog lady?  Wednesday we were driving down the parkway (the main drag in our neighborhood) and I spotted two identical beagles trotting down the road.  They obviously belonged to someone; they had collars and looked quite civilized.  So being the soft hearted person that I am, I pulled over and called them to me.  They eagerly came up to me, panting and wagging.  They only had invisible fence collars on, no address.  A lady stopped behind me and pointed out the house where she thought they lived.  I coaxed them into my car and off we went.  We rang the bell, but no one was home.  We left a note on the door who we were, but lucky for us, another lady walked up, a neighbor, and offered to put them in her garage.  Mission accomplished!  Note to dog owners:  Please put an address and phone number on your dog's collar!!  Invisible fences sometimes fail.

The next day, I was making up the bed in Quentin's room, which is the basement and overlooks the back yard.  Suddenly I heard a dog barking, and it was NOT Boudreaux's bark!  I looked out the window and was surprised to see a little black mixed breed dog.  In our yard!  With both gates closed!  What the heck?  Did someone drop him over the fence?  Had he been dumped?

Stay tuned!

 

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Water ... water ...

Wow, a drought of epic proportions.  First only 2 lawn waterings per week were allowed, now they have banned them completely.  What's going on here?  It hasn't rained here (much) since Labor Day (and no, that light sprinkling we got the other day doesn't count).  Even the water coming out of the tap looks sick.  Yesterday it had a yellowish tinge (no, it wasn't that the kids weren't flushing!).  Very strange goings-on.

Quentin is really enjoying the cross-country team.  He has really stuck it out, and I went to my first meet last weekend.  It was at the Cannon School, which is 100 miles east of our house.  Southlake, the kids' school, where Christian had a football game, is 100 miles west of our house.  (Exaggeration inteded for effect).  I set out with Quentin to his meet, while David set out with Christian to his football game.  Halfway to the cross-country meet, David calls me and says I have all of Christian's football equipment in the trunk of my car.  If I don't get Quentin to the meet by 11, he can't run.  I was indeed in a pickle!!  I decide to get to the meet, then run as fast as I can back to Southlake (note distances between point A and point B above) so that Christian can at least play the second half.  Problem is, I can't FIND the freaking school where the meet is, and when I get there, the entrance is blocked by the course of an earlier race, and cars are stacked in the street trying to get in.  I notice that a friend is right in front of us, so I kick Quentin out into the traffic to get in their car, and peal out going back to Southlake.  I can hear the gas sucking right out of the tank.  30 minutes later, I'm back at Southlake with the equipment, toss them off, and set out BACK to the Cannon School to catch the race.  Quentin does really well (he doesn't finish last!) and I'm impressed at how big a deal this is.  There are about 20 schools participating, and let me tell you, some of these kids can RUN.  I could really get into this.  Pictures of the meet to follow.

School continues to go well for me ... I'm enjoying every minute of it, and am learning so much. 

Sunday, September 16, 2007

From my dad's 80th birthday party, 9/1/07.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Summer Fun

Just catching up on some pictures from this summer.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Back to school, school, school and school!

The three "middle" kids (Quentin, Christian & Lisa) started back August 8, poor slobs.  But they'll be singing a different tune in the spring when they get out on May 23, and the others still have to slog along until June 8!  Melanie and Colin start this Monday, the 27th.  This afternoon we'll go to Melanie's open house and drop off her nice new school supplies and meet her teacher.  Colin has been shuttling back & forth to his school, getting a parking pass, classes changed etc.  He is taking a class called "college experience" which lets him check out of school at noon, and attend a class at the community college here (CPCC).  His very challenging, academically rigorous class: history of rock & roll.  Ha!

My new career as a graduate student started last night.  After attending Colin's open house in the 100+ heat, then coming home to threaten the children with bodily punishment if they didn't behave while I was gone (David was on his way home from NYC), I set out for the UNC-C campus.  After I parked, I walked around like a lost soul trying to find the building (also in 100+ heat).  Finally found it, and my class began.  It was a very cursory first class, introductions all around, basic overview of the class (Foundations in Library & Information Science).  Our professor is a hoot, very entertaining with stories of her early career in the public library, then doing her doctorate as a single mom with three kids on food stamps.  I'll be interested to see if I can still create a coherent term paper.  There are so many young, beautiful girls in the class (and three men!) but there are at least 3-4 of us senior citizens.  I'm so intimidated, because many of the women have worked in libraries of various types for years, and know all the "lingo" and I feel like a babe in the woods.

I was suprised to see the school librarian from Melanie's school there.  She remembered me from "Beginners' Day" in the spring.  I laughed and said, "I guess I have no excuse for not volunteering in the library now, huh?"

My recovery: still hoping that I will return to some semblance of normalcy someday.  My insides still feel like someone put them in a blender, mixed them all up, and put them back, along with some bricks and lead weights.  I have a follow-up appointment next week.  Someone told me that it would be closer to a year.  <sigh>  I guess old ladies heal slower than most.

 

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Medical Leave

Sorry about the down time.  I had surgery on July 12 and have been happily doped up since then, planted firmly in the recliner, wishing to do nothing more than sleep in my side, something which isn't in my near future.  It has been quite an experience, being waited on, literally hand & foot by my mom and my sister (who will arrive in the morning).  I've had quite a bit of <ahem> discomfort ... wait, no ... it's been painful, there's no pussyfooting around that.  But nothing that a quick dose of Percocet won't help.  I've been trying to wean myself off the narcotics (don't want to end up Lindsay Lohan's roommate in rehab!) and Advil & Tylenol has been doing the trick during the day.

Sorry I don't have gory pictures to post!! 

We will return to our regularly scheduled program in due time!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Colin's Excellent Japanese Adventure

Here are some pics from Colin's trip.

Moondoggie Here we Come!

friends at the beachWe're heading to Destin, Florida this month.  Destin is the 'destination du jour' for most of the folks who live in Mississippi, Alabama, etc., and we used to go there a lot when we lived there in the Deep South.  In fact, when David and I started dating, we went to Destin with his parents.  Our first 'trip' together.  David's dad told me one time it was on that trip that he knew that I was 'the one' for David  I tend to be ready to go quickly, while David seems to take forever to assemble all his 'stuff' for the beach ... cooler, sun tan lotion, stero, umbrella, etc.  I would sit quietly on the bench in the front hall while David ran to and fro getting ready.  Anyone who could put with that was the perfect wife for him.  I found some pictures of that trip recently ... that was 21 years ago! ... and I harldy recognized the skinny youngsters that we were.  Anyhoo, we will be there with our neighbors-who-are-like-family from Memphis.  We try to meet them every year.

Colin arrived home safely Saturday night.  They flew straight through from Osaka, so were understandably dragging.  We did stay up for a while looking at his pictures, but he was in bed pretty early.  He's been struggling with jet lag ever since, added to the torture of taking finals this week.  Life is so rough sometimes.  He is over the moon about Japan and is already plotting to go again next spring, and perhaps to University there.  Better start saving his pennies!

Our beach trip will be my last hurrah before I go under the knife in the beginning of July.  I started having some weird symptoms and decided to get checked out by my doctor.  After two pretty thorough ultrasounds, it was determined that I have a lemon-sized mass that needs to come out.  So I'm having a hysterectomy, and as an added bonus, a tummy tuck due to some herniation that I have, a vestige of my three very large babies.  There will be less of me this fall!  I'm a little unnerved thinking about the aftermath, but the dr. has assured me that there have been significant advancements in pain management.  Hope it's a little more than a shot of bourbon and a bullet to bite on.

Quentin is taking drivers' ed this week.  They've seen"Red Asphalt" and have learned all about road signs.  The other day I let him drive home from Melanie's bus stop to our house (about 100 yards) and he didn't know the difference between the brake pedal and the accelerator.  Boy do we have our work cut out for us!!!

So, there you have the latest and the greatest from the Branch front.  See you on the other side!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Did I Win??

 I entered an essay contest at MissCellania (http://www.misscellania.com/) about stress in parenting (not that I have any stress at all in my life).  I didn't win a Brand New Car or anything like that, but MissC did put my little ole essay on her website as "one of the funniest".  Heh.  Some of the other ones made me ROFL.  MissCellania's blog is one of my daily routines ... she never fails to make me laugh.  Check it out (but fair warning, it's not always rated G!)

The Japanese voyagers are reaching the end of their trip.  Here are some of Colin's emails:

Heymom I made it and I am beat. 10 hour plane flight and not a bit of sleep... oh well good night`s rest tonight because school doesn`t start til 9:00. Ok well I`ll email you again tomorrow with more updates
 
2 days have gone by and i am enjoying my stay in Japan very much. The first day of school was very interesting. If I wasn`t that tired i`d write more but i am beat...
 
Ahh... third day and i am close to getting rid of all the jet-lag so i can give you most of the details now :) The first day at school was just an introduction to the school grounds with some basic classes. Today was a half day and then a trip to the Nanzan University Seito Campus, that was kind of boring but not all that bad. The family i am staying with is very nice, although i wish they would let me use my Japanese more... anyway they have a Wii and I got to use it today woo!! I also had real Japanese Ramen for lunch today. It was different from what I`m used to but i liked it anyway. So until i can write you tomorrow again... see you :)
 
(This one is in answer to questions I had).
 
1.  Where does your host family live?  House or apartment? 
 
a house 2 actually they`re connected by a little walkway
 
2.  How is it getting to school?  Bus/train?  Long ride?
 
we walk to the bus stop and then we ride the bus for about 10 min it`s not that bad
 
3.  What are you eating?
 
Well last night we had a big slab of teriyaki chicken so i am eating pretty well. I even had ramen for lunch one day
 
4.  Are you keeping up with your journal?
 
i dont think anyone is we are having too much fun
 
5.  Have you cracked "The Great Gatsby" open at all?
 
i have read the first couple of chapters
 
things are going great and i seriously want you to look into doing that gap year
see you soon!
 
Well the first week has gone by and i am looking forward to spending the weekend with my host family.  Im actually kind of disappointed that i have to leave on tuesday (Monday should be interesting because most of the students dont know that we are coming back). Anyway almost died of a heart attack when this huge spider showed up on the carport. It was about this big (                                                       ) no joke either. then i got another scare because Asami was still spooked and she screamed real loud when their dog ran in (interesting family no?) Still i am kind of disappointed that i have to leave on tuesday because the family is starting to grow on me. Even if i cant understand what theyre arguing about sometimes, they are still a very nice family (Yuika is a little shy though). Back to the point, tomorrow i will be able to attend Asami`s sports festival so that will be a real treat. Not many gaijin get to see them. Then, On Sunday, WE might be going to a nearby amusement park so that will be a lot of fun. To wrap up i am having a real fun time and I can wait to get home (I just love this country so much).
 
forgot to say something, Tonight we had a going away party type thing and i got to make Mochi (rice cakes) the traditional way (cool huh)
 
Well... the sports day thing yesterday was interesting... it started out simple with just a couple of footraces and a relay race before lunch. thats when things got... umm... wierd.  next thing i know they have finished this one event where the children bring in their parents to help out and they picked up this huge inflatable ball and tried passing it over the croud of pople. the rest i too pictures of so ill just show you when i get home. I also got a wicked sunburn n the back of my neck ouch... then we went bowling for some wierd reason and then we went out to eat at a Japanese/American steakhouse. The food was very good but the ketchup for the fries was a hassle. it was packaged with mustard and to get it open you had to squeeze both of them together which made the mustard side explode. anyway im still having a blast and can wait to get home. Cya then


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Colin Goes to Japan

Colin and the crew made it to Nagoya, Japan!  They arrived last night around 1 a.m., after an 11 hour flight.  He said he didn't get any sleep at all, but that he was planning on getting a good nights' rest.  According to emails we exchanged with the host family before Colin left, he will ride the bus with their daughter, Yuiko, to school .. where he'll go to classes in Japanese language and other cultural things like origami, flower arranging, the tea ceremony and Judo.  I'm dying to know the details of the trip, and will pass them along to you, my dear readers, as soon as I get them.  You can also read the group's blog at http://www.jpnclub.com/, where they'll be posting their photos as the trip goes along. 

As for the home front, Mom and Dad are here, partly to see Colin off at the airport Friday, and partly because my birthday is Tuesday.  Mom helped me landscape an empty spot in my front yard.  Yesterday we were at the mall, where I treated myself to a makeover and professional photo shoot (a deal that Estee Lauder had set up).  Wonder how goofy the pics will turn out.  I will share them here if they're not too evil looking!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Out of Witty Titles

My blog is public again; for some reason AOL won't let non AOL'ers be registered as readers, and 90% of my readers are non AOL'ers.  The reason I took it private is that recently I read a news article about Blog Stalkers.  People who have nothing better to do than surf the internet looking for people to creep out.  But then I realized that there is really nothing earth shattering on my blog, and any stalker who came across it would fall asleep from boredom before he could plan anything.  So ... here I am, back in the saddle again.

What's going on?  Let's see ... Colin is leaving for Japan in 6 days!  He is going with his Japanese teacher and 14 other kids from his school.  They will fly to Nagoya, where they will each stay with a family for a week, go to school with their kids and basically hang out and learn to live like the Japanese.  The next week they will go to Hiroshima, Kyoto and Osaka.  They'll be home on June 2.  He is really excited and I am completely jealous.  Several times over the last year I offered to go along as a chaperone but Mr. N. just laughed.  He didn't get it that I was serious.  I haven't been back to Japan since I was 15 (having lived there for 3 years in 1965-1968).  I've had to buy him a whole new wardrobe of plain t-shirts since most of the ones he has have some rock group logo on it or something.  I have to take him to get a hair cut (or should I say a bush hogging - I didn't realize afros were back in style).  At least his pants don't hang down around his knees and he has no body piercings that I know of - ha!  He's a very good, conscientious kid and thinks the "freak" are just plain stupid. 

Right now he's looking at colleges, as he'll be a senior next year.  We visited UNC-G over his spring break and he was completely pumped up about the whole thing.  Dorm rooms, etc.

Speaking of UNC-G ... Supposedly I am poised to go to grad school there this fall.  Imagine my shock when I got a letter from the dept. of Library Science saying that I still hadn't submitted some forms.  WHAT?  Apparently my transcripts from Trinity U. have been misplaced.  And I had sent them to UNC-G in January, and again in April.  I had stopped by the grad school while Colin and I were there and were told that the transcripts were missing, so requested them again.  A call to Trinity told me they had been mailed in January AND in April.  I placed an outraged phone call, and the Dept. Head called me yesterday to tell me it wasn't too late.  That he would try to track down the transcripts.  They were under my maiden name, so they're probably in someone's file trying to find their way to the proper place.  So I'm hoping I'm still on track.  I was told that if Charlotte-Meck schools found out I was in grad school they would hire me in a second.  Well, shh, don't tell them.  I'm not ready to work AND go to school.  YET.  And my goal is to work at SouthLake anyway.  In the future.

Quentin turned 15!!!  And my bad, I didn't do a special "Happy Birthday Quentin" post.  He is so grown up, just got contacts and will take drivers' ed in June.  His birth was the easiest of the three, but man oh man, he screamed like a banshee for 6 months.  But once he became mobile he was the funniest, laughing-est, cheerful-est baby on the planet.  And that sense of humor has remained, honed and sophisticated, to this day.  Poor guy had around 7 projects due this week, poor guy.  Talk about pressure.  This school is pretty challenging, and he's only a freshman.  (For another week!) [Woo!]* <--_Added by Quentin himself.  Why did we name him Quentin?  (Which he thinks is a totally cool name, thank goodness!) 

In college, I was a history/political science major.  I studied a lot of US foreign policy history, which included Theodore Roosevelt, the Panama Canal and  all that.  He and his second wife, Edith, had four sons: Teddy Jr., Archie, Kermit and Quentin (and a daughter).  Quentin was a mischievous imp -- one time his brother was ill and Quentin brought a pony up in the White House elevator to cheer the brother up.  He was also an aviator in WWI.  I just always liked the name.  And his personality really matches the first Quentin Roosevelt.  Go figure.

And to close out ... a bit of trivia.  One time when I was working for a law firm in Baton Rouge, we had a lawyer from New York come in on a case.  He was the grandson of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  (Who was related to Teddy Roosevelt by marriage -- Eleanor was a cousin of Teddy's).  Anyway, I was assigned to drive Mr. Roosevelt to the airport at the end of his visit.  He was very tall and squeezed his long legs into my tiny Honda Civic.  I was all aquiver about being so close to my historical hero, even if only through a descendent.  He wasn't really that friendly though.  I asked him who his father was, (the youngest of FDR's four sons) but he wasn't really into talking much.  Oh well.  My ten minutes of a brush with fame.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Disney is for Grown Ups Too!

David and I celebrated our 20th anniversary with a trip to Disney World ... without the kids!  It was sooo much fun, I can't begin to express how much fun it was.  I had suggested it because back in the fall when we went I had a terrible time, was alone with Melanie the whole time, while all the others were having fun.  So I wanted to go and have a good time!  And man did we ever.  We were met at the door of the hotel (Grand Floridian) by our personal valet (shall I say valette - she was a lady) who guided us to the honeymoon floor (i.e. no kids running up & down the hall).  In our room we found a bottle of champagne chilling in an ice bucket and an autographed photo of our hosts (Mickey & Minnie).  Our balcony overlooked the lagoon.  There was a daily hors d'oeuvres buffet every afternoon on our floor, with various wine and beer selections.

That evening we ate dinner at "bluezoo" which is Todd English's restaurant at the Dolphin resort.  The next morning we headed over to the Animal Kingdom for a "behind the scenes" safari tour.  Then David got me on Expedition Everest, which is Disney's newest roller coaster.  It was too cool!!

That evening we had booked a couple's massage at the spa.  Was it coincidence that the lady who was massaging David was from New Orleans, and that the lady who was my masseuse was from the Philippines? 

Then ... dinner at Victoria & Albert at our hotel.  Exquisite ... delectable.  Over the top.  Any meal that includes Iranian caviar and chocolate mousse is just too ... too ... indescribable.  For a long time my favorite restaurant on the planet was Gabrielle's at the Richmond Hill Inn in Asheville, NC.  I think it's a definite second now.  We had duck ... we had lamb.  I had a filet of turbot (fish) with lemon caper sauce.  And a wine pairing .. different one with every course.

Saturday was a Segway tour of Epcot.  Quentin says we look like dorks in the picture.  You be the judge.  Sunday ... MGM Studios, where we went on Tower of Terror and Rockin' Roller Coaster.  Too fun. 

Sigh... re-entry was hard.  Real life beckons ...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Manila Again!

We flew to Manila on my birthday, May 22.  If I could have gotten out of the plane to push it to make it go faster, I would have.  My feet hit Philippine soil again, and they were off and running.  We were staying at the Peninsula Hotel this time, and no sooner had we checked into the hotel I was downstairs, hailing a cab.  I pulled up to my old school and ran inside, completely over the moon to be back again.  I spotted my best friend, Leslie, in the hall, and we literally fell over in an ecstatic, screaming hug.  Several of my old friends hailed me in the hall with "Hi LIZ!" and "Look who's back!!"  The prom was the next evening, and Leslie had fixed me up on a blind date, with a guy who had just moved to Manila that past January.  (My smoldering ex-crush had already left for the summer -- I didn't see him again until I was in my 20's .. but that's a completely different story!)  His name was David, and he was G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S.  We're talking tall dark and handsome, with curly brown hair, deep set eyes and a killer smile.  Who gave blind dates such a bad name, I ask you?

He picked me up prom night with a full pink lei, which he had coordinated with my dress (so THAT'S why he asked me what my dress looked like?)  I can't remember the theme of the dance, just that we danced the night away in a euphoric haze.  When they closed down the dance, the four of us (Leslie and her date joined us) took a cab downtown to Manila Bay and stood soaking in the lights flickering on the water like undulating jewels.  The wind was warm, and the palm trees whispered in the breeze.  We didn't say much, I just had to stand there and let Manila back under my skin.  <sigh!>  I was back home.

After a night of disco hopping, I think it was sunup before we got back to my hotel.  I had been given a pretty liberal curfew (as in none!) by my parents.  I slept most of the next day, but had to report for graduation rehearsal late in the afternoon.  My friends and I spent the evening together again, at Leslie's house and we took in a movie.  I think it was Saturday Night Fever.

The day after that was the actual ceremony ... when I stepped up to the stage to receive my diploma, I knew that the folder was empty; the school had mailed me my diploma back in January.  But that didn't matter.  I was happier at that moment than I think I had ever been, nor have been since. 

Once again, I had to say good-bye to the Philippines.  It was back to Singapore for a little while, but another adventure was just around the bend.  I had been offered a job in London with a British family as nanny for their two children, and was going to take a college class at Richmond College there.  Heady times, indeed.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

And then to Singapore

In the fall of my senior year in Manila, Dad announced that Ethyl was moving their office to Singapore.  Was it political?  There were stirrings of Marcos' downfall, although he didn't actually "fall" until the 1980's.  Money?  I can't imagine that it was cheaper to live in Singapore; Singapore is a modern, cosmopolitan city/state, unlike Manila, which, as much as I hate to say it, was a little late to arrive into the modern era.  Part of me was excited to see a new place (as I always felt when it was announced we were moving), but the other, larger part of me was crestfallen at the injustice of it all.  I mean, in the MIDDLE of my SENIOR YEAR??  For crying out loud!  Couldn't we just stay in Manila another four months until graduation?  Maybe there was an underlying mysterious reason that they never told me.  Had my father been named "persona non grata" by the government?  He was really in the CIA, wasn't he?  Not just a humble businessman .. he was really a spy!  (Of course not, that's just my imagination taking flight).

We spent Christmas at the Manila Garden hotel, with a pine cone Christmas tree.  Christmas Eve I said goodbye to my teenage crush-of-the moment, a smoldering Eurasian boy who was half Belgian and half Filipino.  Can you imagine how my little heart fluttered when he spoke French to me?  But I digress. 

We arrived in Singapore, another green, lush paradise, Hot and Humid (capital letters for emphasis - we were now even closer to the equator).  We stayed at the Shangri-La hotel, in the lap of luxury for about a month before our furniture arrived.  There was a 30 day quarantine for the dogs (we had three by that time) so we visited them daily at the very nice kennel at Jurong.  I used to sit out by the pool at the hotel, where a man sold satay (chicken on a stick with peanut sauce) and a tropical drink with fresh pineapple would arrive at the snap of my fingers.

Mom and I explored the city ... Orchard Road shopping; the Raffles Hotel, reminiscent of the British colonial times, Arab Street, where the four cultures of Singapore converged: Chinese, Tamil (Indian), Malay and English.  Shops lined the streets with colorful fabrics and exotic carved wood furniture spilling out onto the sidewalk.  Huge burlap bags filled with spices and beans were for sale.  We visited the food stalls in the median of Bukit Tima Street ... and lived to tell the tale.  I went to Bugis Street with a visiting friend of the family, the famous late-night spot where the transvestites hung out.  That friend was an Ensign in the US Navy, whose ship, the USS Kitty Hawk had made port in Singapore.  One afternoon we took a launch out into the harbor to tour the ship.  As we stood on the runway of the leviathan ship, sailor after sailor would come up to our friend, Frank, salute and ask some lame question.  They had been at sea for 6 months and hadn't seen a woman, much less a blonde one, in a very long time.  I think they were just hankering for an introduction.  I loved it!

What to do with me?  I had already completed my graduation requirements.  I could have sat on a lounge chair for four months working on my tan ... but it was decided by the Powers that Were (mom and dad) that I would go to school!  I was overjoyed by that decision.  I attended Singapore American School with all the enthusiasm of going for a root canal.  I sat through Algebra and Physics classes, staring out the window.  I didn't make many friends.  I was shy and filled with angst.  Why should I?  I was leaving.  Little boys threw peas at me in the cafeteria because I was the "new girl".   One guy even asked me to the prom, saying "No one else I asked would go."  I told him where he could go.

Mom and I did take day trips, one across the strait between Singapore and Malaysia, to tour the Sultan's Palace.  We ate at amazing restaurants.  We went to a classic movie festival at the British Club.  But overall I was miserable.  I missed my friends.  I was promised a trip back to Manila for graduation in May, and I tediously counted off the days.  It stretched forward for an eternity.  I buried myself in music; to this day I when I hear America, I can close my eyes and be in my bathroom, where I listened to the music getting ready for school, showering as quickly as I could because the water tank outside my window was the size of a small ice chest and the hot water only lasted five minutes.

In my next episode: graduation in Manila: a dream come true.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Manila Memories

Did I mention in the past that I went to high school in Manila, Philippines?  My dad was the director of Sales & Marketing of Southeast Asia for a large chemical company called Ethyl Corp.  Their headquarters were in Baton Rouge, hence my connection to Louisiana.  In 1974 we were transferred to Manila.  I had lived in Japan and Belgium also, so a new move overseas wasn't a big deal.  We had two schnauzers at the time, and they flew in the cargo hold of the Pan Am 747 all the way from New Orleans, to San Francisco (the last time we were able to take them out of their crate) .. to Honolulu, to Guam, and finally to Manila.  When we finally saw them emerge from the baggage hold, they had a look on their faces that said, "WHERE THE $%*& ARE WE??"

Our first "home" was the Intercontinental Hotel in Makati, then the business hub of the city.  My first impression of Manila was that it was hot (of course) and was very green, with palm trees and flowers everywhere.  The food we got in the restaurant was the ultimate in tropical fare: fresh pineapple and mango (which doesn't taste as good anywhere in the world) and fresh calamansi juice (a key lime) that you sweetened with a tiny pitcher of sugar water.  The Miss Universe pageant was being held in Manila that year, and every morning the newspaper slid under our door contained color pictures of all the contestants, and I poured over them for hours.  (Miss Spain won that year).

We moved into our house in North Forbes Park shortly after we arrived.  My dad was out of town on business, and my mom and I, after a hard day unpacking in the heat, treated ourselves to a big milkshake at the hotel.  That night, my mom had a serious attack of pancreatitis, and was rushed to the hospital.  There I was ... alone in a strange country, with no parents, alone in a hotel ... scared out of my mind.  We had been assigned a driver, named "Boy" ... (let's just say the names in the Philippines are quite unusual ... I knew a girl there named Cherry Pie) who drove me back and forth from the hotel to the hospital. 

Our house was a freakin' palace.  We're talking Beverly Hills here, although weweren't by any means rich.  However, things are a little more affordable in the P.I., and we lived like we were rolling in money.  We had two maids: one to cook (Jeannie) and one to wash (Carmen); a driver (the aforementioned "Boy") and a gardener named Ruben.  One wing of the house was the maids' quarters, complete with bath, their own kitchen and separate bedrooms for each.  The garden looked like something out of a magazine, with terraced grass and bougainvillae and all types of exotic plants.  We had a pool in the back yard ... a POOL!  There was hug stone wall around the house, with bits of broken glass embedded in the top, I guess to keep the prowlers out.  Out house backed up to a very busy street, E. de los Santos Avenue (shortened to EDSA) and also to a bus stop on said busy street.  People would climb to the top of the bus shelter and peer over our wall into our back yard.  Used to piss off my mom in a big way!

My mom wasn't allowed to hold a job, due to regulations for foreigners, so she passed the time playing bridge or mah jongg (basically Chinese gin rummy!) and having parties.  At the time we were there, the country was under Martial Law, as decreed by President Ferdinand Marcos, which included a 1-4 a.m. curfew.  If my parents' parties accidently went over past 1 a.m., they just kept partying until they could go home at 4.  I used to bar tend at the parties ...

I went to school at the International School of Manila.  It was a great school, although we used to joke about the fact that our Filipino English teachers couldn't speak English all that well.  I got a very solid education there, in the IB program.  I took classes like British Literature and Theory of Knowledge.  My friends made up a high school United Nations.  I dated a guy from Israel, whose best friend was Lebanese.  I had friends from Pakistan, India, Scandinavia and Australia.  We were all the same; just kids, only different colors and accents.  We never gave it a second thought.  Of course, my high school years weren't perfect; they were full of the usual angst and hangups, but overall, I wouldn't trade my experience in Manila for anything.  I volunteered at the Manila Symphony as an usherette and was the first "girl" acolyte at our Episcopal church.  We used to go on trips to the outer islands, where it was like swimming in an aquarium.  Oncewe took an outrigger canoe (banca) from one island to the other, and almost capsized in bad weather.  One time I got a job in a TV commercial for a brand of Jeep made in the P.I.  We shot the commercial on a beach, but when the Jeeps broke down, we were stranded and had to sleep in a nipa hut overnight.  Believe me, it does get cold at night in the Philippines, especially sleeping on a thatched floor with no blankets.

2008 will mark the 30th anniversary of my high school graduation.  I haven't been back to Manila since we left in 1978, and my class is planning a reunion in Manila.  I'm hoping I can go, but this will be about the same time that, God willing, we'll be putting Colin into college.  We'll see ... I know it won't be the same when and if I do go (even my school is in a different location) but part of me won't be complete until I return; until I once again smell the bougainvilla and taste the mango. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Back to New Orleans

Well, Mardi Gras is ancient history this year -- I think lent ends on Sunday -- but I thought I would talk about our trip down there.  Seeing as I just got the pictures loaded.  Our new digital camera doesn't have a teeny little memory card that you insert into the computer and download the pictures.  You have to use some photo program and I'm just not smart enough to figure it out.  However my IT guy finally got around to doing it (that would be David) and now I have pictures!

Driving south towards Laurel, Mississippi, we started to see trees sheared off pretty close to the ground.  There was verey little foliage, (although that could have been the season, too) but there was also a whole lot of scrambled up branches and scrub on the ground, in amongst the trees.  We passed acre upon acre of FEMA trailers, empty!  And they are kicking people OUT of them?  We saw classified ads in the local papers selling the darn things.  WTH?  When we finally got to the outskirts of New Orleans, we could see water lines on the houses.  10-12 feet up!  Right under the eaves.  And in the front lawn of many of the houses was a FEMA trailer, connected via large white pipeage to the sewer and water systems.  We saw houses that had been abandoned, again with very high water lines.  It was so sad ...

In New Orleans itself, where once upon a time you would wait hours in line for a poboy from Mothers' restaurant (on Poydras Ave) we walked right in.  In the crowds of the Mardi Gras parades, there were very few African Americans.  I thought glumly to myself that they were all in Houston or elsewhere.  (I remembered when Barbara Bush toured the Astrodome and saw the rows after row of cots, she commented, "Well, these people were disadvantaged anyway, I'd say they're doing pretty well!")  They are the ones who suffered the most, the ones who were herded into buses and dumped on the side of I-10 ... exposed to the elements.  They are the ones who would be raped in the halls, or died on the sidewalks outside the Convention Center, the same one we could see out of our hotel room, and past which we walked to watch the Bacchus parade.

The stores in the Riverwalk Mall closed at 6 p.m., there just weren't enough customers going through to support them being open any longer.  The food court was almost deserted.  There wasn't enough wait staff in the restaurants to open whole sections.

But the spirit was still there.  The parades were still crazy and funny as ever.  The kids caught tons of beads (want some?) and the crowds weren't too bad.  Not like in years past, where a body could literally be crushed in the surge.  So I felt kinda comfortable with the kids.    Christian started off the trip with the flu, and we were all taking tamiflu the whole time, so he didn't feel too great.  And it was COLD ... we had layers on layers against the wind.  But in the sun it was pretty comfortable.

Maybe next year the people will come home.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The First Lisa

This is a picture of my sister Lisa.  She was 6 years older than I .. she and my other sister Debi were 2 years apart.  They were, obviously, closer to each other than to me, but I was a real live baby doll for them to play with.  As I grew older, I grew into more of a pest, getting into their stuff and generally being annoying.  I remember knocking on the locked door as they shared teenage secrets with each other.  After Debi went off to college, we moved to Brussels, Belgium, which is where my most vivid memories of Lisa lie.

Every morning, as she got ready for school, she played music on her record player.  Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors" ... Elton John's "Madman Across the Water" and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.  These are the songs that, every time I hear them, remind me of my sister.  She was a cheerleader, and quite popular with boys and girls alike.  She had the uncanny knack of being self assured and friendly with everyone, and everyone was drawn to her sparkly personality.  She was short ... and had curly hair when curly hair wasn't cool.  She used to roll her hair on giant orange juice cans and wrap it around her head to sleep, to straighten it.  All the cool girls rode mopeds to school, and my mom and dad bought her one.  Off she would go with her helmet on, but as soon as she was out of sight of the house, off came the helmet.  It messed up her hair!  The high school trips were to Switzerland and Germany.  A trip to Spain with friends.  What a life! 

She had a beautiful singing voice.  She was in the school play, Carousel, playing Carrie.  She and her friends would gather in our living room and they would sing, while some of the boys played 12 string guitars.  Occasionally my dad would set up microphones to capture the moments on tape.  She was looking at colleges that had good music programs, East Carolina, North Texas.

About six months after we moved back to Louisiana, in 1972, during her senior year, Lisa and her boyfriend, David, went out to dinner.  It was the night of her 18th birthday.  We're not sure of the real story, but rumor has it they drove from Baton Rouge to New Orleans to visit a bar that had refused to serve her because she wasn't yet 18.  On the way home, David driving the car, he made a u-turn, and they were broadsided by a pick-up truck loaded with several men heading to an early morning job.  It was 3:18 in the morning.  She died instantly.

To say that our family was devastated is an understatement.  I have found peace with her death, although her absence is a constant ache in my heart.   When I got married ... when my children were born ... she wasn't there.  What would she have said?  She would have gotten a laugh out of that.  If only ...

Why do these things happen?  There are those who say that this kind of thing is punishment for a sin.  I belive that God grieves right along with us.  He created a world with certain physical laws that are unbreakable.  Accidents happen, people die.  Young people with promise and talent die.  But punishment?  I can't believe that.  And I'm not so sure that these things happen for a "reason".  That God makes them happen for some higher purpose.  That's just not the God that I know and love.  I think things happen as a result of loss, but I think that chicken definitely comes after the egg. 

What has it done for me?  It has made me more empathetic towards others.  Every time I hear of a teenager dying, it makes me grieve for the dark path that the family will be on for several years.  For me, it was about five years before I felt less pain.  Our family never again was "normal" but we went on.  We survived. 

The last time I was at my parents' house in Baton Rouge, I found several reel-to-reel tapes of those jam sessions at our house in Brussels.  I was able to have them converted to digital CD's by a company here in Charlotte.  As I drove home from picking up the CD's, I put one into the CD player in my car, and once again, my sister Lisa's voice was real, alive.  She sang songs from Carousel, from "Spoon River Anthology".  All the years melted away ... she was back.  My reaction was not sadness ... it was just a familiar "hello again" from my sister from so long ago. 

And I honor her every time I speak my daughter's name.

Happy Birthday Lisa!

Lisa is now officially nine years old.  I wasn't there when she was born, but I can put together a picture in my mind, of a young mother frightened out of her mind, giving birth in secret, in a strange city miles from home, to guard that secret.  I wonder if she was beautiful, like Lisa is.  If she had creamy pale skin and ebony colored hair, like Lisa.  I wonder if her heart had been broken by a lover.  Was it a Romeo & Juliet type story, or just a puppy love romance gone wrong.  I wonder if she was young, a teenager?  Does she also look at the date and think about the child she never knew?  Has she since grown up and gotten married?  Had more children?  Will I ever know the truth? 

Who held Lisa as a baby, gave her bottles, then fed her mush, like we saw so many of the other babies in the orphanage?  Did she cry a lot?  Did she stop crying, giving up when the caregivers were too busy with 10 other babies to tend to her right away?  Did she have a special caregiver that she bonded with as she grew?  When did she first go outside?  See a bird, hear a dog bark?  When did she take her first steps?

All these things I mourn in my heart.  I mourn for all the answers that I do not have for Lisa.  Things that she will wonder about as she grows older.  I grew up with the stories of my babyhood that my parents and my sister passed along to me.  Lisa will have none of that.  I grieve that Lisa will always have that hole in her self, a hole that I'm not able to fill for her.  I will simply try and do the best I can to raise her to be self-assured and happy, and able to fulfill all her dreams for the future.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

So How Was the GRE?

Oh yes, well, since you asked!  It was great.  I found the place with no problem, and it was somewhat like getting into a Federal penitentiary.  No belongings could be brought inside.  They issue you a locker, and practically do a cavity search for any cheat sheets.  All you can take in the room is your drivers' license and the key to your locker.  No jackets or anything.  Each person is video taped the whole time they are taking the test (don't pick your nose!) These people are serious!

The test itself wasn't too bad.  I feel that I did pretty well on the writing sections, and while the math was a little cryptic (isn't it all?) the vocab and analogy parts weren't too bad.  I scored right smack dab in the middle of average.  Not stellar by any means.  I suppose I could have really pulled out all the stops and studied non-stop, but what would that have shown?  That I can learn a test.  At any rate, the head of the MLIS department at UNCG said it was fine; no need to take it again. 

Oh, and I learned a new vocabulary word!  "Cozen" ... look it up.  And it doesn't mean the child of your uncle.

Happy Birthday Christian!

Christian turned ten on Monday (two digits!  One decade!)  He celebrated with a bowling party, followed by a sleepover with five of his buds.  They were all such well-behaved kids, and I told them that.  Nice to know that, away from home, perhaps my kids will say "Yes Ma'am" to someone, even if I have to pull teeth to get them to do it at home.  We celebrated as a family Monday night at Kabuto, with the "authentic" Japanese <Czech> chef juggling his cleavers and throwing shrimp into his hat.  Guess it's hard to find good Japanese help around here.  Even the sushi chef was Korean. 

Christian almost wasn't.  After I had Quentin I suffered a miscarriage, and as a result of the bloodwork associated with that, found out that I have something called a "Little c antibody", which acts much like the Rh factor.  The antibody attacks the fetus' red blood cells, which are then broken down into bilibrubin and excreted into the amniotic fluid.  This can cause fetal death.  It didn't affect Colin or Quentin, I suppose in much the same way that the Rh factor doesn't affect the first pregnancy.  At any rate, presented with such a grim outcome, we thought we were done.  That is when we looked at adoption for the first time. 

However ... I had an appointment with a perinatologist in Memphis, who seemed very cavalier about this horrible sounding condition.  "No problem" he said, "I treat patients with Little c all the time!  Go forth and get pregnant!"  Okay ... well ... so ... we did!

Beginning at about 22 weeks of pregnancy, Dr. Perinatologist (can't remember his name!) did the first amniocentesis.  For those not in the know about such things, this is a procedure where they stick a two foot long needle into your stomach, and into the uterus, and extract a vial of amniotic fluid.  And if you think it sounds painful, It Is.  Then they send the fluid via FedEx to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to have the bilirubin levels checked out.  If they are too high, they will need to perform a blood transfuion for the fetus, through the umbilical cord, again, using the famous two foot long needle.  Sound like fun?  Lucky for me, my levels were still pretty low after that first procedure.

Two weeks later, we had another one.  Again, levels are rising, but still low enough to carry on.  Two weeks after that, another one.  They slather this brown stuff called betadine all over your (very large) belly and it is like Elmers' Glue and smells like dirty feet.  Lovely, eh?  I think I had five in all, and by 38 weeks, the levels were pretty high and by that time it was okay to induce labor.

Christian was born not breathing, with almost a negative Apgar.  They had to bag him for a very long time.  No one would look at us.  He had a true knot in his umbilical cord.  He had a systemic infection.  He had a spinal tap to rule out meningitis.  He had no glucose in his system.  He had heart arrhythmia.  He was a mess.  He was in the NICU for a week, albeit the largest baby in there.  Most of the other babies were premature, and he was huge by comparison.  A home health nurse came to our house for a week after he came home, to give him shots of antibiotics.  But in spite of all that, he was a happy, content and perfect baby.

Is there any wonder that I call him my miracle child?   Happy Birthday baby!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

How Math Affects a 46 Year Old Brain

Thanks to GingaJoy (http://gingajoy.blogspot.com/) for this ... I laughed out loud this morning.  Good thing I had finished my coffee.  You see, next Tuesday I am taking the GRE (Graduate Record Examination).  On the way down to New Orleans last week (more on that later) I was studying my Kaplan's GRE practice book.  The vocab stuff isn't too bad, I recognize most of the words, but the Math stuff is giving me a nervous breakdown.  My eyeballs, literally, went into spasms.  I only get more freaked out when I ask David a question and he says, "Oh, EASY!  All you do is multiply this by this and then that by that, and there ya go!!"  Heh ... easy for you maybe, you're a freakin' SCIENTIST.   I, on the other hand, am steeped in Liberal Artism.  Let me discuss the ramifications of the German invasion of Poland, or the British parliamentary system, and I am right at home.

I am very hopeful that the Powers that Be at UNC-G will know that I am going to study Library Science (think: words, books, reading, literature) and NOT Rocket Science, so my miserably low Math score on the GRE will not be a factor.  (Factor?  Did you say Factor?  As in Factoring Polynomials???  AGH!!) 

It is a CAT ... "Computer Adaptive Test", which means that the exam is given on a computer.  If you answer an easy question correctly, it will then give you a hard question.  If you miss that one, back to the easy ones.  Then score you accordingly.  There is a writing section too ...well, we all know I can put together a coherent sentence (Right?  RIGHT?) so I'm not too worried about that.  And argue?  Yep, I can certainly argue a point.  I'm a woman, after all ...

No more No. 2 pencils.  No bubbles to fill in.  Just point and click the mouse.  Thank goodness.  When I took the SAT all those millenia ago, I remember stressing more about getting No. 2 pencil marks outside the bubble than the actual test itself.  I can't remember what my scores were, but they were good enough to get me into a pretty decent, competitive school (Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas).  But ya know, today, my qualifications would never have been enough to get in.  Now you have to have 1,000 hours of community service, volunteer in the bush of Africa, start your own business at the age of 16, and participate in at least 20 clubs or extracurricular activities.  Sheesh.  When I was in high school, the most I did was participate in the school play because it got you out of school early for rehearsals, and smoke behind the gym.  And get invited to the best parties, held by the kids with the fanciest houses and most lenient parents.  Doesn't that count for something??

So, wish me luck ... and that Academia will welcome me back into its fold with open arms.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

In Defense of the Much-Maligned MiniVan

Vintage minivan: Lloyd LT 600What the heck?  Why in the name of unleaded gasoline, are so many people such virulent haters of the minivan?  I read a few blogs on a regular basis, and many of them are fessing up to (hanging their heads in shame) "crossing over to the dark side" by buying a minivan.  They bemoan the fact that their "cool factor" has bitten the dust, and gnash their teeth that it has come down to this.  No more cute zippy sports cars ... we have <gulp> CHILDREN now, and so we have to drive this monstrosity that they call a minivan.  Heavens to murgatroyd, how far they fall.

Granted, I chuckle to myself when I arrive at a function (be it a baseball game, or school orientation meeting) at the row after row of almost identical minivans in the parking lot.  It's kinda humorous to me .. but denigrate them?  Why?  I have driven a minivan since 1993 (after trading in our BMW that had a standard transmission .. ever try to give a baby a bottle and shift at the same time?  Yes, this was back in the Stone Ages when it was okay to put the baby seat in the front) with a short period of time during which I coveted my neighbor's Suburban.  I whined and pleaded and hinted to David that I really really wanted a Suburban, it was so cool -- the cool factor was ratcheted way up for Suburbans!  I was ready to step out into the cool zone.  So, we bought a Yukon XL.  At first I felt like I was piloting a bulldozer, but I thought, I'll get used to it.  And the first day I tried to load the kids into it, with the REAL (not sliding) doors, that actually stick out from the sides of the car, I knew that this was going to be a gigantic pain in the butt.  But since I had gone to such lengths to get the thing, I felt I had to suck it up and be happy.

Then I kept hitting things.  Parked cars.  Parking garage ticket booths.  Garage doors.  (I told David one time, "I'm so tired of having dents in my car!"  His answer:  "Then stop hitting stuff!"  Thanks hon.)  The thing was just HUGE.  I never got used to the sense that I was taking up two lanes (or more) and I was almost embarrassed that I was head & shoulders above everyone else on the road.  "Look at me!  I can afford to pay $75.00 to gas up this thing!  I can squash your Audi like a BUG!  TAWANDA!"  That just wasn't me ... I was ashamed at the damage I was doing to the environment with the behemoth.

Fast forward 18 months.  David no longer has a company car.  We're in the market for a new vehicle.  After checking out all the dents in the Yukon, David decides that we really need a minivan again.  We bought a 2006 Honda Odyssey, which I love love love.  It drives like a sports car, very tight turning radius.  Low to the ground ... I no longer need a catapult to get Melanie into her car seat.  The automatic sliding doors are ... just too cool for words.

So what?  I have kids!  I am a (fingers making the quotation marks) MOM.    Should I stick with a (more quotation marks) cool car just because it's cool?  or should I have a vehicle that is functional and easy to load up and operate?  And that gets good gas mileage? 

So come over to the bright side, people!  Minivans are not Darth Vader reincarnate.  They are the vehicles that we use to shuttle the future around.  Is there any shame in that?  I think not.

**Editor's Note:  I should mention that the Yukon is now David's truck.  It is a manly type mode of transportation better suited to him than to me.  It is, however, a blessing on long road trips due to its cavernous luggage space.  I have been known to drive it from time to time, including part of the trip from Mississippi when we were pulling Colin's new car on a trailer.  Through Atlanta, no less! 


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Friday, February 2, 2007

Yikes! Long Time No See!

What they say about January being the longest, most depressing month must be true.  What a cold, dreary time it was; hence the lack of posts in a while.  Add that to the death of the batteries in our camera, and you have true doldrums.

David and I did get away to Naples, FL, the 2nd weekend in Jan., like last year at the same time.  (Business meeting).  If you flip back through the old posts you will be reminded of how sick I was last year, with food poisoning, which led me to swear off all seafood for the next decade.  This year was perfect, and since we were at the Ritz Carlton, I felt confident enough to sample the sushi.  And the lobster.  Ah, all systems are again a go in the seafood department.  One day I drove the golf cart while David and his boss played; the next I sat on the beach with a book (the biography of Walt Disney ... very interesting!  Not such a nice person, old Walt!)  I had a chair and an umbrella, and a little flag pole.  Flag pole?  For what is this flag pole?  I raised the flag and here came a lady to grant my every wish.  Okay, it was only a sandwich and a drink.  How decadent, indeed!  It was about 78 degrees, and I napped.  I read.  I napped, I read.  Utopia.

This month I made the momentous decision to try to go to graduate school this fall.  I am hoping to get my Masters' in Library and Information Science.  Not very sexy, I agree, but books are my life, and this is a dream I have had for nearly 10 years.  Now that Melanie will be in kindergarten, the time is right.  I take the GRE on Feb. 27.  Been studying vocabulary like a fiend.  Never knew that my kids were obdurate.  Some days I can be very truculent with them.  When I make aspic, I need to macerate the gelatin.  HA ... got you reaching for the dictionary, didn't I?  Now the math part; that may be a lost cause.  Wish me luck.

My degree (should I suceed in all matters educational) will be from UNC Greensboro (1 hour north of CLT) but I can attend classes here in CLT through teleconferencing.  I only have 1-2 classes per semester, so I'm hoping I'llbe able to pull it off.

Today is Melanie's 2 hour craniofacial clinic with Dr. Matthews.  Long day.  I'm packing the portable DVD player, some snacks and a lot of patience. 

We actually had snow yesterday!  About an inch, but we'll take it.  Got the kids out of school anyway.  It's all gone today.

Hope it won't be another month  before I post again!

Friday, January 5, 2007

Happy Birthday Colin!

Sorry, couldn't resist.  Sums me up in a nutshell.  Heh.  Well, how do I sum up Colin's birth, which happened exactly 17 years, 14 hours ago?  For my first childbirth experience, it's a freakin' miracle that I went back and birthed two more.  Seriously.  First of all, he was due December 23 of 1989.  Everyone was staring at me all through Christmas, as if waiting for the Jiffy Pop to open up.  Didn't happen.  I started having some hefty Braxton-Hicks contractions and promptly quit working.  Heh.  Joke was on me, I went 2 weeks longer.  My boss had started watching me walk (or should I say Lumber?) down the hall and comment, "Liz, you look deFORMED!"  Gee thanks so much!

Finally we reported to the hospital on January 4 of 1990 (David still hasn't forgiven me for not getting that tax deduction).  After TWENTY FOUR hours of sheer misery and pain (epidural didn't work on one half of my very enormous belly) and screaming in pain and crying and begging and doing all the things I swore I would never do (never say never, EVER!) the doctor used salad tongs to forcibly remove the child from my body.  When they brought him to me after they had cleaned him up, I didn't know what the hell to do with him.  All I wanted to do was take a nap that lasted a few weeks.  And stop the pain in my bottom.  He was very cute, and his mouth was opening and shutting like a little kitten, but it just wasn't REAL to me.  Here was MY baby, but it wasn't mine, they must have been kidding, fer shure.  But they let us take him home.  And he was the most beautiful, cherubic, angel-haired, rosebud mouthed baby.  And content, slept through the night at 6 weeks.  We called him our little Potato, and he was a sweet one.  His goodness suckered us into having another one, who shrieked with colic for 6 MONTHS (no lie!) and thus risked being chucked out the window on more than one occasion, and who cut the cords on the mini blinds and small appliances, and was in the ER for stitches 7 (count 'em SEVEN) times before he was 10.  But I digress.

And now Colin's all grown up, driving a car, needing to shave, talking all deep and stuff.  What the heck happened?  My God, you are so cruel to make time crawl when we are young, and swoosh by us in the batting of an eye when we are old. 

Happy Birthday, my beautiful boy!