Monday, June 30, 2008

The Bachelorette

good lord, I confess, I've gotten myself wrapped up in yet ANOTHER season of this asinine television show. What's wrong with me??

I can't help it. Late at night, when I'm exhausted from using my brain all day, I look forward to relaxing with some mind-numbing escapism. Is that so wrong?

Well, even if it is, it's too late--I'm hooked on the latest season of The Bachelorette, featuring the narcissistic Greek-goddess DeAnna, who was herself rejected on a previous season of The Bachelor (which, fortunately, I did NOT subject myself to). We're down to the final 3, Jesse, Jason and Jeremy. After tonight's all-new episode (DeAnna takes the guys home to meet her folks) we have The Men Tell All special episode. I can already feel my brain cells melting....aaaaaahhhhhh.





I'm rooting for Jesse the snowboarder (not the typical "tall and hunky" type, but a real sweetheart) and Jason (the single dad who is probably too good for DeAnna). Jeremy seems a little wooden and boring to me. I'm predicting he'll be given the boot tonight.


How sad is it that I'll be missing the finale because I'll be on vacation? The horror!

Thank goodness for DVR technology.

Casualties in Iraq

As of today:

4,082 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq

30,112 have been injured.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Flip Ultra Camcorder

Since I'll be away for my birthday this year, my dear husband made sure he ordered my presents early. Of course, he works all day to support our family, toiling at his office for hours on end, which means I get to answer the door when UPS arrives. Yay!

Oh, sorry hon, did you want me to WAIT to open these?

Ha...too late!

Lookee what I got:

Yes, it's a pink one. Because he loves me. ;)

It arrived on Friday and I've been learning how to use it, hence the video of Squeaky that was posted earlier. Expect to see more video entries here on the blog, particularly of my upcoming cruise. Fun!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Meet Squeaky

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Off to see the wizard

I'm headed into NYC today to see the fantastic Broadway play, Wicked. My 12-year-old's Girl Scout troop secured a group rate, which includes some shopping and a pre-show dinner. My older daughter has already seen the show, and my youngest is obsessed with the music, so I'm really looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sun, sand...and snowmen?

Just went to the mailbox, and found a notice that my local Hallmark store is having their big Keepsake Ornament premiere event July 12th.

Summer started 4 DAYS AGO, and we're already looking ahead to Christmas? Seriously??

Christmastime is my favorite time of year, but there's no way I can even start thinking about it until at least October.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin: 1937-2008

"I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately."

"Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck."

"When someone asks you, 'A penny for your thoughts?', and you put your two cents in, what happens to the other penny?"

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pride and Stupidity

One of my favorite books of all time is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I love it so much, I have seen every movie adaptation of it--the original BBC version, the A&E version with Colin Firth, and the 2005 version with Keira Knightley and Matthew McFayden. I'm a sucker for a good romance with a happy ending.

In the 2005 version, directed by Joe Wright (he also directed the recently acclaimed Atonement), the eldest Bennett sister is played by Rosamund Pike, who is perhaps better known as the "Bond girl" in Die Another Day.

During filming, Wright and Pike became a couple off-screen. After two years of dating, they got engaged in September of 2007. They were to be married this year, but about 3 weeks ago they abruptly called off the wedding.

At first, it was reported that Pike broke things off because she got cold feet. Then, reports began to surface that it was Wright who broke up with Pike, after she sent out hundreds of wedding invitations that included a steamy picture of the two of them in a hot tub.

I don't even know where to begin with this one.

First of all, what kind of a narcissistic idiot sends out an intimate, provocative picture with their WEDDING invitation?

Secondly, if a bonehead move like that is enough to make you break up with the person, then how committed were you to getting married in the first place?

I have no idea what the future holds for these two, but it sounds to me like they both dodged a bullet in this instance.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Grandma's Visit

My mom was here yesterday. Rich and the kids were at a BBQ party, so it was just the two of us for most of the day. She and I went to a family reunion nearby, enjoyed a lovely dinner, and spent some great mother-daughter time together. Later, we had a huge thunderstorm blow through, with lots of lightning and thunder. My 8-year-old was spooked, and managed to coerce her way into sleeping in Grandma's room.

I went in to check on them, and found my daughter snuggled up with my Mom, holding onto her arm like a treasured lifeline to all that is safe and warm and comforting. Before long, she drifted off to sleep, despite the raging light show outside.

It brought back a lot of memories for both my Mom and me. As I tiptoed out of the room, the sight of them peacefully nestled together was like looking back through a window of time, 32 years into the past.

It's a sight I'll cherish for a very long time.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I Don't THINK So!

I received this scam email today.

Tell me...does anyone actually fall for this crap? Ugh.

There may be "a sucker born every minute" but I ain't one of 'em, sister.


From Mrs Susan Morgan

N�[38 Rue Des Martyrs Cocody
Abidjan,Cote d'Ivoire


I am the above named person from Kuwait. I am married to Mr.Abram Morgan, who worked with Kuwait embassy in Ivory Coast for nine years before he died in the year 2004. We were married for eleven years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days.

Before his death we were both born again Christian. Since his death I decided not to remarry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is against. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of $2. 5 Million (Two Million Five Hundred U.S. Dollars) in the bank here in Abidjan in suspense account.

Presently, the fund is still with the bank. Recently, my Doctor told me that i have serious sickness which is cancer problem. The one that disturbs me most is my stroke sickness. Having known my condition I decided to donate this fund to a church or individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct herein. I want a church that will use this fund for orphanages, widows, propagating the word of God and to endeavour that the house of God is maintained.

The Bible made us to understand that blessed is the hand that giveth. I took this decision because I don’t have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are not Christians and I don’t want my husband’s efforts to be used by unbelievers. I don’t want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly way. This is why I am taking this decision. I am not afraid of death hence i know where I am going. I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the Lord. Exodus 14 VS 14 says that the Lord will fight my case and I shall hold my peace.

I don’t need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health hence the presence of my husband’s relatives is around me always I don't want them to know about this development. With God all things are possible. As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the bank here in Abidjan. I want you and the church to always pray for me because the Lord is my shepherd. My happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy Christian. Whoever that wants to serve the Lord must serve him in spirit and Truth. Please always be prayerful all through your life.

Contact me on the above e-mail address for more information’s, any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing another church or individual for this same purpose. Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I Stated herein. Hoping to receive your

Remain blessed in the Lord.
Yours in Christ,
Mrs susan morgan

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Summer Countdown--2 days to go high schooler is already out for the school year, and on Friday, my younger two kids will be done.

Summer officially arrives at 7:50pm on Friday, but in my house, the celebrating will begin at 12:30pm, when that last school dismissal bell rings.

I love Summer, and the opportunity to have my babies all to myself for awhile. No more getting up early to make lunches, rushing to catch the bus, juggling dinner preparations with homework help, shuttling hither and yon like a taxi driver to extracurricular activities....just lazy, hazy summertime relaxing.

It's time off for them, and time off for Mom, too.

2 more days!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Teacher Gifts: A Garden Party!

Every year, my children try to think of something special to give to their teachers as a thank you for all of their hard work during the school year. For my middle schooler, we usually give one big group gift, so that no one feels left out. (She has way too many teachers to purchase gifts for individually.)

This year, we decided on a "Garden Party". Amy spent several days painting and decorating wooden birdhouses for each one of her Core Curriculum teachers (from left to right: Math, Social Studies, Reading, Language Literacy, and Science).

This year, several long-time teachers are leaving our district, so she made birdhouses for them, too. She went to great pains to make sure that each and every house was unique and special, geared towards the individual recipient. She made two for the retiring science teachers, a cabin for the retiring Social Studies teacher, a hospital for the Nurse, and an art studio for the art teacher:

We brought in tea, some croissants, cakes, and a flat of begonias to round out the Garden Party theme. It all turned out beautifully, and the teachers were very appreciative. Amy enjoyed making something special for each one, and I think she did a great job.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Book review: Ghosts Among Us

I've been reading the latest offering from medium James Van Praagh, Ghosts Among Us. Van Praagh has been around for many years, and serves as a producer on the show "The Ghost Whisperer." His book offers a fascinating perspective on the world around us, which he insists is populated by ghosts/spirits that most people can't see. The book provides insight on how to recognize the presence of a ghost in your life, how to protect yourself from negative energy/troubled spirits, and puts forth a view of the afterlife that is positive and uplifting.

The book does not preach any particular faith, and the information is offered at face value--take it or leave it. He's not out to "sell" you on the idea that ghosts exist.

I enjoyed this book thoroughly, and recommend it to anyone who is even remotely curious about the spiritual realm. The highlight of the book, for me, was Van Praagh's take on how we need to live our earth-bound lives in a positive way, to make the transition to the next life that much easier.

Good stuff.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Always a day worth celebrating...

Today is not only Father's Day, it's also my husband's birthday. So, today's entry is dedicated to the two most important men in my life:

Happy Father's Day, Rich...

...and Happy Birthday to you, too, you big kid

And to my Dad, who I miss every single day:
Happy Father's Day

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Loving Baby #2

I wrote this several years ago, for my parenting book that still hasn't found a publisher. Today, my "baby #2" turns 12 years old. Amy, thank you for all that you've taught me over the years, and for proving to me that my heart was capable of a deeper love than I'd ever thought possible.

Happy Birthday, sweetheart.

When I got pregnant with my second child, I was thrilled and excited—at least, that’s what I told everyone at the time. The truth is, my joy at having another baby was clouded by a nagging fear: that I would not, COULD NOT possibly love this new child as much as my first one. Christina was my entire world. She had supplanted my husband as the love of my life, from the moment I felt her move, to the first time I gazed at her beautiful, blotchy little face. I knew immediately that she owned my heart. Once I learned that I was expecting for the second time, I secretly confessed to myself that although I would love the new baby, Christina was my number one, and there was no changing that. It made me wonder how my own mother hid her true feelings from me all of these years: as the youngest of her three children, I realized now that I must surely take a backseat in her affections, even though she had always managed to make me feel loved. She repeatedly claimed that she didn’t love any one of us more than the other, but now those words seemed hollow to me. Once you’ve given over your entire heart to one child, how can you possibly have anything left for another?

The one advantage I could possibly foresee for this new baby was that this time around, I had some solid mothering experience under my belt. I would not be afraid of holding her the wrong way, wouldn’t panic when she ran her first fever, wouldn’t feel the same gnawing doubts that I didn’t know what I was doing. This baby may not have the best of my love, but at least she would reap the benefits of my past experience. That would have to be enough.

Compounding the problem was the overwhelming guilt I started to feel as the birth got closer. Not over my inability to love the new baby, but guilt over the fact that I’d be taking attention away from daughter number one. As my belly grew larger, it became nearly impossible for Christina to climb up into my lap for a cuddle. Towards the end of my pregnancy, she perched precariously on my leg as I tried to read her a storybook. Leaning closer to see the pictures, she inadvertently pressed down on my burgeoning tummy. Its little resident took immediate offense and gave Big Sister a swift kick in the arm. Christina was delighted (“Hey Baby!” she squealed, “Are you saying Hi to me?”), but I was angry. How dare this new upstart infringe upon our last few moments alone together?

The big day arrived. Unlike my first tumultuous birth experience two years prior, this new baby was born, quickly and conveniently, via scheduled C-section. When the doctors said, “It’s a Girl”, my first thought was “a little sister for Christina!” Even at this crucial moment, my mind was consumed with thoughts of my first child, not my second.

Just a few moments later in the Recovery Room, they handed Amy to me for the first time. This was much different from my previous experience, when I didn’t get to hold my first daughter until many hours later. Chris was born more than 2 weeks late, a sturdy 8-pounder with big, brown eyes, olive complexion, and full head of thick, dark hair--she looked just like my own baby pictures. When I first saw her, we had just endured 45 hours of grueling labor together, and our connection was instantaneous. This time, it all happened so fast, I felt oddly detached. Looking down at this new little person, I searched desperately for any similarities that could help me tap into the feelings I had for Christina.

Amy, born 12 days early, was much smaller, with a teeny little head, and wisps of silky fine hair delicately draping her face. I stared in awe at her tiny body, her translucent skin, and her non-existent eyebrows. As she wrapped a wrinkled hand around my finger, I felt a familiar stirring in my chest, but a voice inside my head pushed it away defiantly: “Yes, she’s cute, but she’s not Christina.”

And then, there it was. A small noise, unlike anything I’d ever experienced: a high-pitched, squeaking sound, similar to the squeal emitted by a slowly deflating balloon…and it was coming from my new baby. I had heard babies coo, cry, and even snort, but never before had I encountered one who sighed high notes of pure contentment. In that instant, an incredible rush of emotion blindsided me, and the tears of love and surrender flowed freely. All at once, I felt the long-overdue gratitude for this new life that I was privileged to bring into the world. I looked down at the perfect, squirming infant in my arms, and marveled at my husband’s beautiful blue eyes, now staring back at me from within this tiny, upturned face. I saw that Amy’s lips were petite and pink and stretched into a perfect smile. There was soft, blonde fuzz covering her face that I hadn’t noticed before, and a huge beauty mark hidden just above her left ear. And again, there was that squeal…her precious, unique, adorable squeak of joy.

Somehow, it had actually happened. There was no question now that I loved and cherished this baby with the same all-consuming fierceness that every mother feels for her children—all of her children—regardless of their birth order. I realized that my mother had been telling me the truth all of these years. Having another child doesn’t divide a heart in two: somehow, it makes your heart double in size, with room enough for all.

Looking back, my mistake was in thinking that I’d love them both “the same.” That is impossible. What is possible is to love your children individually and equally, no matter how many you have. Even though they share the same genetic makeup, each child is their very own person. It is this uniqueness that should be celebrated, for it allows them to carve out their own place in the universe, and more importantly, in their parents’ lives.

I love Amy, not because of the ways she is similar to her sister, but because of all the extraordinary ways she is a miracle in her own right.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

another cruise

In less than a month, I'll be setting sail once again on another cruise vacation. This one is different from the rest, though: for the first time, I'm leaving the kids and the hubby home, and taking a trip with my sister, my mother, and my aunt. It's just a quick 5-day excursion up to Canada, but now that it's getting closer, I'm starting to get excited about it.

It also reminds me that I still haven't given a full recap of my last cruise, the one I took in February to the Caribbean. Oops....must get on that!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Fun with Fruit

I made this for the party yesterday:

Proof positive that I've seen one too many fruit carving demonstrations on my summer cruises.

Friday, June 6, 2008

No more pencils, no more books...

Today is my eldest child's Last Day of School. Next week, she's got final exams, but today is the last day of classes.

She asked me on Tuesday if it would be okay to have a few friends over on Friday to celebrate. I said, "Sure, why not?"

At last count, we have 18 kids coming over. Egads.

If you don't hear from me for a couple of days, don't worry--I'll simply be buried under a sea of chips, dip, and pigs in a blanket.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Is there anything better....

...than holding a newborn baby?

Today, I had the pleasure of meeting my newest cousin, Matthew. He's 12 days old, and very sleepy, as you can see.

Everyone always says "you forget how small they are," and it's so true. Holding him today was like a slice of Heaven on Earth.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Breakfast Buddy

Woke up, went to get my morning coffee, and this guy was staring back at me through the window.