Wednesday, December 27, 2017

my microwave might not work but my anemometer sure does

Well, another Christmas has come and gone and I hope yours was merry.  We've had various Christmas celebrations over the last week or so, and concluded with Christmas dinner at my mom and dad's house.  It was just the five of us. The girls wore ugly sweaters and fuzzy socks, my mom set a beautiful table, my dad grilled filet, and it ranks high up there as my favorite Christmas dinner.

I know everyone says don't bring up politics with your family at the holidays, but they should add farm animals to that list because the most heated discussion we had was when my dad and Matt got into a debate about whether Perdue chicken breasts come from hens or roosters.

I know.  It always comes back to chickens with us.

I took this whole week off of work, and I planned to dedicate today to cleaning and organizing the entire house. I was pretty sick two weeks ago, this past week we were busy with holiday stuff, and let's just say things had gone off the rails big time.  My mom had to stop by Saturday afternoon  while we were out to pick up a Christmas gift, and I felt ashamed at the state of our house.  My sister was with her and she texted me "Mom says your house doesn't look bad at all" and while I appreciated the kindness, I can spot a lie when I see one.

It looked like a frat house.

This morning, I slept in and then went downstairs to get a cup of coffee to fuel up for my marathon day of cleaning.  Matt made the coffee before he left at 6:30, so it was a little chilly, and I stuck it in the microwave for fifteen seconds.

Except when I hit start, nothing happened.

I almost lost my mind.  We bought the microwave last year, but just installed it in mid-September.  I called the Samsung help line and the (rude) woman on the other end told me that the error code indicated that the control panel was dead.

It wasn't the fanciest microwave on the market, but it also wasn't cheapest and it matched our stove perfectly and we factored in the measurements when we bought out BRAND NEW custom cabinets and I was just so mad.  

And then I remembered my dad's Christmas dinner toast, when he said that we are all very blessed, with a great family and comfortable lives and nice houses, but that we should never lose sight of the things that really matter in life.

You know what doesn't really matter in life?

My microwave.

So I sucked it up and cleaned the house like a madwoman and I felt so. much. better.

And then my phone beeped with texts and I had to laugh when I looked at it.  As a little backstory, Matt LOVES the weather and the statistics and data that comes along with it.  It is a borderline hobby for him.  He is constantly tracking weather patterns and and watching the radar, major storms are his jam, and he has a nightly ritual of reading the ten day forecast to me so I know how to dress and drive for the upcoming week. 

For Christmas I bought him a fancy weather station, and it comes with an anemometer (I totally googled that) to measure the wind speed, which Matt mounted atop the chicken coop (I'm so sorry neighbors) and a feature that allows you to remotely monitor the weather at your house on an app.

It turns out, it was a slow day at work for him and he was keeping a close eye on the wind speed here at the homestead.

For the record, I did not get the eggs.

Although I will probably have them for breakfast tomorrow, since I can cook them on the stove and not in the microwave like my usual oatmeal.

At least the coffee maker works.

Friday, December 22, 2017

'tis the season

Well, I'm officially on Christmas break for the next TEN days and I'd be lying if I said I didn't squeal with glee when I got into my car after work this afternoon.  Work has been a little more stressful than usual this past year and I am so glad to have ten days to not think about it for one single second.

I just finished wrapping a few last gifts, and I decided I'd borrow this Christmas questionnaire from Michelle.

1. Real tree or fake tree?   This year, fake.  When I moved into my first apartment after college in December, 2011, I got the cheapest fake pre-lit tree Walmart sells and I've used it ever since.  Last year we put the fake tree in the living room and got a real tree for the family room.  While I loved having two trees, we didn't get a real one this year because quite frankly our house is chaotic and messy enough with the kitchen renovation and I wasn't thrilled about vacuuming pine needles all month, but we will probably get one next year.  For now, the little old fake tree is serving us well in the living room.  Every year when I plug it in I cross my fingers that all the lights still light up, and so far so good.  

Except this year it's a little lopsided.  I guess you can't expect a $30 Walmart tree to last forever.

Pretend it isn't leaning precariously to the right.  It is, as Michelle called it, the leaning tower of treesa.

2. Favorite Christmas cookie? I'm not fancy.  I enjoy a good old chocolate chip cookie.  Matt also makes pizzelles and they are delicious.

3. Home on Christmas morning or travel? Home.  With the exception of my brother, we live within three miles of our families which makes holidays convenient.  This year we will stay home on Christmas morning and go to my mom and dad's for dinner.  

4. Clear or colored lights? I prefer colored lights.  Which is weird because our tree and all of our outside lights are white.  I need to start buying what I actually like.

5. Send Christmas cards? I sent them the first year we were married because I was getting a lot of mileage out of those wedding photos, but I haven't since.   

6. Favorite Christmas present received? The year I was 8 I was obsessed with all things teacher related.  My mom and dad gave me the actual Highlights sticker box that my teacher had, a chalkboard, a real teacher's planner book, and MADE AND PAINTED a podium for me.  I was in my glory.

Matt got me a FitBit last year which I love and have used every single day since.  

He also got me a butter churner, which I can't quite say the same about!

7. Favorite Christmas present given? This is hard.  I can't think of anything right now.  I'm not great with giving presents.  I am excited to give Matt his gift this year but since he reads here I don't want to post a spoiler.

8. Stockings or no stockings? We hang stockings but don't really fill them.  

9. Christmas PJs? If you consider yoga pants and an old t-shirt Christmas pajamas, then totally.

10. Favorite Christmas carol?  It changes every year with one exception.  If I had a dollar for every time I played Dan Fogelberg's Same Old Lang Syne, I'd be rich.

This year my favorite is the Mercy Me version of I Heard the Bells.  

In fact the other day at work was a particularly sad one, as some days in child welfare are, and this came on as I was driving home.  I sang along and a few tears might have slid down my cheek when it came to this verse and I thought about the lousy situations I'd heard about all day:

And in despair I bowed my head
"There is no peace on Earth," I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on Earth, good will to men

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead nor does He sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on Earth, good will to men

11. Favorite holiday tradition? I love Black Friday shopping marathons with my sister, and Matt's Christmas pancakes!

12. Early shopper or last minute? Early!  The past few years I've done the bulk with my sister on Black Friday and picked up the last few things by the beginning of December.

13. Favorite Christmas movie or t.v. show? I love all the traditional Christmas movies but I'm going to throw a wildcard out here and say A Very Brady Christmas, circa 1988.  My parents recorded it for me on VHS and I'm considering buying a VCR just so I can watch it again.  I LOVED seeing the crazy Brady's all grown up and when Mike Brady leaves Christmas dinner because the building he designed collapses and he has to go check on his workers, oh man.  And don't even get me started on when the whole Brady clan gathers outside the caution tape and Carol kicks off a rendition of "Oh Come All Ye Faithful."

14. Favorite holiday beverage? Peppermint hot chocolate.  I got a huge canister of it this year and I'm having a mug right this minute.

15. Cookies and milk for Santa? Since no kids live here Santa doesn't visit our house, but cookies and milk for Laura and Matt?  Yes.  Lots of them.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

as long as cheese is involved, it's excellent in my book

It's December 20th.  I have exactly 19 hours and 25 minutes of work left before I walk out of the office on Friday afternoon and into a ten day vacation.

Not that I'm counting or anything.

I was supposed to have a meeting this week and everyone was told to bring something to share for lunch.  We had to let everyone know what we were bringing beforehand so we didn't have a potluck with 14 bags of napkins and 600 paper plates and no actual food.

Anyway, I laughed out loud when I saw the last dish on the list.

I feel like it encapsulates how we all feel at this point in December.  Our hopes are high but we have a lot going on and we're just hoping we can come through with the execution when the time comes.

Unfortunately the meeting was canceled so I have no idea what the dip what, or if it was, indeed, excellent.

I already did some holiday baking, and just have to bring an appetizer to my mom and dad's house on Christmas night.  I still haven't decided exactly what to make, but I feel confident in saying that it'll be some sort of excellent appetizer.

Monday, December 18, 2017

i bet red and purple socks would be acceptable on the polar express

I met some friends for dinner in the city on Friday night.  I was planning to take the train downtown, and then a little snowstorm popped onto the radar Thursday night and was predicted to hit our area between 2 and 6 pm on Friday.  And so, because I was scared to drive even one mile to the train station in the snow, I made an alternate plan.  At 1:30 I put on my warmest clothes and boots, and drove to the Starbucks next to the train station where I worked for a few hours until my train came.

The train was crowded, and most people quietly watched the snow fall outside.  But not the woman next to me.  No, the woman next to me chose that time to have a phone call with a local deli about ordering some sandwich trays.  Except she wanted to order them as a  gift for someone.  And she wanted that someone to be able to call the deli whenever he wanted to say he was coming to pick up a tray of ONE HUNDRED sandwiches whenever the mood struck.  She wanted him to be able to do that four times, and she wanted the deli to guarantee that the sandwiches would stay good for five days following pickup.

From what I could overhear, her request was denied repeatedly because, shockingly, the deli requires some advanced noticed to prepare a tray of one hundred sandwiches.  But, she kept saying, "In other words," and then proceeded to phrase her request IN THE EXACT SAME WORDS. 

I thought we were never going to get to the city.

When we finally rolled into Suburban Station, I operated the way I typically do when I take the train downtown, which is to say that I hop on the first escalator I see to take me up to street level, and then I pop out in a surprise place and rely on my GPS to turn me around.

Anyway, I navigated to the Cheesecake Factory successfully and we had a great dinner.

And then my friend offered to drive me home because she knows that snow and public transportation are not my favorite combo.

She knows me so well.

When I got home Matt was sitting in the living room and I had to take my snowy boots off right at the door.

Remember when I said I put on my warmest clothes?  That included my socks.

Both pairs.


It's a good thing the people on the train couldn't see what was underneath my boots, because then it would have been me, not the deli lady, who looked like the crazy person.

Monday, December 11, 2017

show us your books: december

That month sure went by fast, it's already time again for the monthly book linkup again with Steph and Jana.  I read a bunch of books this month.  It's amazing how much time you have when deactivate your Facebook.  When I went into the library the other night to pick up my most recent request, the librarian pulled it right off of the shelf and said, "You're in here so often I don't even need to ask your name anymore!"

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.

Like Cheers.  Or the local library.

Anyway, this month confirmed that during the holiday season I am powerless to resist a Christmas book set on Nantucket. 

First up, Christmas Letters by Debbie Macomber.  

Totally cheesy but perfect to read under a blanket by the Christmas tree.  Also, the main character's job is to write Christmas letters for people, so basically I've identified a new life goal.  If you're typically a fan of Debbie Macomber's books, you'll like this one.

Next, Winter Stroll and Winter Storms, by Elin Hilderbrand.  

There are two other books in this series but they were checked out of the library so I haven't gotten to them yet.  Despite not reading the books in order, I had no trouble catching on to the plot and characters.  Matt asked what my book was about and I said, "It's about a family who is dealing with some troubles, including jail time for insider trading, drug abuse, a prisoner of war, a woman with two boyfriends, ex-wives, new spouses, celebrities, and the father's ex-wife having an affair with the town Santa Claus."

I couldn't quite see but I think he might have rolled his eyes.

Despite the slightly ridiculous story line, I enjoyed both books.

I also read The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella.  

This was my favorite book this month.  The characters were so enjoyable. Much like her book My Not So Perfect Life that I read over the summer, I wished they were all real because I'd love to meet them in real life.  I truly didn't want it to end.

Finally, I finished up with Heating and Cooling: 52 Micro Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly.

 And by micro, she means micro.  Some were as short as a sentence.  It was a small book so I read it in a night, but I had super high hopes for it and it kind of fell flat.  I think someone with a little more life experience might enjoy it, but after reading it, I don't agree with a lot of the reviews I read.

Right now I'm in the middle of Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery, and Last Christmas in Paris is in the lineup after that.  Did you read anything great this month?

Saturday, December 9, 2017

it's beginning to look a lot like winter

Matt left for a hunting trip on Wednesday night.  I didn't mention that here on the internet because I didn't want anyone to know little old me was home alone.  But, as the late, great P. Swayze would say, I had the time of my life. I also had soup and cheese and crackers for dinner because while I consider that a full dinner, Matt laughs in the face of cheese and crackers as the evening meal.

Just kidding.  I missed Matt (and his stellar coffee making skills), and was happy when he decided to come home a day early because of an impending snowstorm.  Despite watching countless episodes of Dual Survival, he and his dad didn't want to get stranded in woods of northeastern Pennsylvania, and I can't say I blame them.  

In preparation for his hunting trip, Matt decided to try out his new tree stand last weekend.  Initially he was going to do it in our backyard, but then changed his mind and took it to his dad's house which crushed the possibility of me getting a photo of the whole experiment.

But, dreams really do come true because a few hours later my father in law texted me this picture.

I hope Matt knows these telephone poles don't exist in the woods.

I decided to take a vacation day on Friday, and originally I planned to wake up at 6 am and clean and ambitiously sort and organize the ENTIRE house, but then I decided I'd rather use my vacation day to do absolutely nothing.  And so I slept until 9:30, and then relaxed all morning with coffee and a book.

Around lunchtime I decorated our fake Christmas tree in the living room.  I got it seven years ago at Walmart, and I think it's beginning to show its age.  Its a little tilted.  As Michelle brilliantly called it, the leaning tower of tree-sa.

After lunch I went to the library, Ulta, Home Goods, and Bed Bath and Beyond, and wound up at my parents' house.  I let their puppy Pearl out when I got there and within fifteen minutes she'd shredded both a plastic bag and a glove that she discovered on a walk with my dad earlier in the day and carried all the way home.

When my mom got home we turned on the local news, and we knew snow was coming because Cecily Tynan was wearing a sleeve.  Cecily wears sleeveless dresses 355 days a year, so you know she means business/severe weather when she wears a sleeve.

And sure enough, it snowed all day today.

Matt and I played 3 games of scrabble and stayed in pajamas until noon and then finished installing the rest of the kitchen floor.  

Growing up my mom always made spaghetti and meatballs on the first snow day of the year, so that's what we had for dinner.  It was delicious.

Just as good as the cheese and crackers I've been eating all week.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

ford focus on the little things

My friend Rose and I talk on the phone several times a week.  She has three kids and a busy life and we usually catch up when she's in car line or when I'm driving to a meeting or when we're both cooking dinner before our husbands get home.  Once in a while we can talk for 45 minutes, but usually it's five or ten minutes here and there, and depending which of her kids are around, she has to spell half of her end of the conversation which always makes me laugh.

Anyway, Rose called me early the other morning and when I answered she said, "Oh I'm sorry! Did I interrupt you in the midst of some kitchen installation?"

When I told her that I was driving to work, she said, "Oh, it sounds like you're sawing!"

Her comment officially completes a trifecta of construction tools that my car, and its very loud, rattling dashboard, has been mistaken for.  I drive a lot for work so I have my car's Bluetooth set up, and I've also been asked by unsuspecting callers if I was using a drill, or if I was standing near a jackhammer.

I took a video to give you an idea of the noise.  This is how it sounds when I'm parked in the driveway.

It gets even louder when I accelerate and/or drive up a hill.

Then, according to my sister, it transitions from construction tools right into helicopter category.

All that to say, Rose and I talked for a few minutes about how lately it seems like so many moments in life are built up and staged and documented for Facebook and Instagram.  There's so much pressure to make things fancy and perfect.  We started talking about the most vivid memories from our childhoods.  I have lots of awesome memories from big events growing up, like going to Disney World and vacations at the lake every summer.

But I also remember random little things.  For example, I got a Shark watch when I was little and thought it was the coolest thing in the world.  It was also water resistant to 200 meters which was perfect in case I took up deep sea diving in the second grade.  My dad showed my how to set the alarm, and I selected 8:12 p.m.  I have no idea why that time was significant, but the alarm went off every night at 8:12.  Now when I look at the clock at 8:12 I always think of my Shark watch.

On big days, like report card day, we got to have a backwards dinner.  Chips Ahoy and milk before dinner was the ultimate day in my world.  I was living large.

One weekend, when my dad and brother went fishing, my mom took me to J.C. Penney and I got a ribbed turtleneck sweater.  It was blue and magenta and lime green striped, and I have no idea why that particular day and sweater stands out to me, but I loved it.

When I was about 22, I woke up and dramatically and JOKINGLY declared that I wish I could have cedar plank salmon and broccoli and alfredo noodles for dinner with strawberry shortcake for dessert.  That night, when my parents told me dinner was ready, I walked downstairs to the exact menu I'd wished for and it was like I hit the jackpot.

One year my mom and I made Christmas cookies with a homemade red glaze.  I remember dripping red frosting all over the booklet for Amy Grant's Home for Christmas CD, which I had out on the table so I could follow along with the lyrics, OBVIOUSLY.  I bet if you looked at the CD booklet at my parents' house you would still see some red frosting stained on the pages.

Growing up, watching the opening ceremonies for the Olympics was a major event.  One year I watched at my cousin Jackie's house and my Poppop was there.  As the parade of nations began, we were so excited that the USA would be near the beginning because America starts with A.  My Poppop broke the news that we would be near the end, because, United States of.  And then when the winter Olympics were in Salt Lake City in 2002, right after 9/11, we watched the opening ceremonies and we all stood right there in our family room as they played the National Anthem.

With the exception of the fancy salmon dinner, none of those things were photographed or set up to be big events.  But I remember them all.  So in 2018 I'm going to try to remember that the big things in life are great, but the little things sure are are great too.

Like people thinking my car is a construction tool.

Monday, December 4, 2017

we'e been to lowe's so many times i feel like i should invite the employees over for christmas dinner

Well, as of today we have officially owned our house for two years.

In that time we've remodeled the master bedroom, office, living room, and family room (which I somehow do not have a picture of) from floor to ceiling.  New paint, new floors/carpet, all new woodwork, everything.

We've also done a lot of little things.  We built a chicken coop, removed an ugly black wrought iron railing out front, tiled the floor inside the back door, built a huge vegetable garden, installed a new back door, put all new water pipes in the laundry room, installed a new toilet in the upstairs bathroom, converted the fireplace from gas to wood burning, and chopped down two trees.

Well, a professional chopped one tree down.

We chopped the other down.

And then we threw it away little by little in our trashcan every week in a strategy I'm not so certain was legal.

Anyway, I have to give Matt a lot of credit.  He does not let moss grow under his feet.  I would never turn down a weekend to just lay around and relax but Matt's motto is that weekends are not for relaxing.  He never stops.  He also has a healthy amount of self-confidence when it comes to home projects, and that confidence combined with Youtube tutorials and an affinity for This Old House has worked in our favor.

Not only is today two years since we moved in, it's two months since our kitchen cabinets were delivered.  Some of them are now on the walls, and some are still stacked in the living room.

And the dining room.  And the family room.

But we got counter tops installed on the half of the kitchen that's finished, which felt like a big milestone.  Now, we move onto phase two.  We didn't want to be without a sink, so now that the sink in the island is working, we can work on the other side which had the main sink.

Growing up, my dad did a lot of work on our house but plumbing was his least favorite department.  It's the same around here.  When Matt hooked up the sink in the island, he said excitedly, "Well, give it a go!"

I turned the faucet on, full blast, and the tiniest trickle of water dribbled out.

I didn't want to hurt his feelings but I said, "It's a bit of a weak stream."

We decided to just let it run for a while and crossed our fingers that the issue worked itself out, and sure enough about fifteen minutes later, we heard a VERY LOUD gurgling, looked at the sink, and there was BREAD coming out of the faucet.

"Oh yeah, I forgot I put that bread on there and then used the blow torch in it.  Now, it's wet toast," Matt said.

After a few minutes the bread had worked through the pipes and it ran perfectly. 

I can't say the same for the water dispenser at the fridge.  On Saturday night I was filling up my cup with water, and when I pulled it away, the water just kept spraying out.  All over our beautiful brand new hickory hardwood floor.  Matt thought I was joking around until I screamed "IT WON'T STOP."

We held a giant bowl under it and eventually it stopped.  I don't know what the problem was. 

Maybe we need to put some bread in the pipe.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

congrats to the happy couple, whatever their names are

I just put the finishing touches on a nice, long post and then highlighted the whole thing to change the font, and instead deleted it.  It started out with the story of how I found out Prince Harry was engaged and I'll admit, it went down from there.

I'm sure now you're dying to know how I learned of the news, so I'll tell you, although fair warning that the last minute 11:00 pm Thursday night draft won't be nearly as funny as the draft I wrote when I was bright eyed and bushy tailed at noon on Tuesday.

My eyes were barely open on Monday morning when Matt announced "Did you hear the news? Rachel and Peter are engaged!"

Rachel and Peter, Rachel and Peter.  I knew it was early, and that it was the Monday after a holiday weekend, but for the life of me I could not think of anyone we knew named Rachel or Peter.

After a few seconds I asked, "Wait, do you mean Meghan Markle and Prince Harry?"

"Yeah!" he said.

I know Meghan Markle's name on Suits is Rachel, but I cannot for the life of me figure out why Matt thought Prince Harry's name was Peter.

Anyway, I could not be more thrilled for another royal wedding.  If you weren't around back in 2011 when Will and Kate got married, I took a vacation day from my job and woke up at 4 a.m. to watch every single second of royal wedding coverage.

With scones.  And a tiara.

It was one of the best days of my life.

Michelle and I have analyzed and over analyzed the impending nuptials and are planning a sleepover once the happy couple finalizes that May date.  I'm glad we have a few months because it gives me time to find my tiara and perfect my scone recipe.

So, that's the royal engagement news.  And I cannot even remember what else I wrote about in my original post, but I do want to share that Matt has worn his headlamp every single day since Monday.  In fact, he's worn it so much that the light bulb burned out tonight. 

I tried to take a stealthy photo of him in action wearing the headlamp, but he caught me and said living with me is like living with the paparazzi.

I bet Prince Peter feels the same way when people try to get pics of him wearing his crown.

I mean, Harry.

Monday, November 27, 2017

never thought id' say thank goodness for the head lamp

I woke up around 6:30 last Sunday morning to complete and total silence.  I immediately knew something was amiss because normally our bedroom sounds like an airplane hangar, since we sleep with two or three fans, a humidifier, and a sound machine.

I know the words you're looking for.

Low maintenance.

Anyway, Matt wasn't in bed so I walked downstairs to find him and my suspicions were confirmed.  Our power was out.  It was a windy morning and our neighbor's tree had blown over onto a power line.  The worst part of it all was that Matt had made a pot of coffee just before the electricity went out, but he'd forgotten to put the lid on the pot so the grounds went everywhere and we couldn't drink it.

Sad trombone.

It was also dark in the house, since the sun doesn't rise until about 7:00 now, and Matt had his headlamp at the ready.  That headlamp is a frequently worn accessory in the wintertime when the sun sets early and rises late.  He wears it to do chores at the chicken coop and take the trash out and all manner of things that require a hands free light after sunset.

One of my dad's hobbies is to make fishing rods, which is extremely intricate work and requires the use of diopters.

I always used to laugh when he would wear them.

And then, I married a man who wears a headlamp on a regular basis.

Life is funny.

Matt lit a fire in the fireplace because it was chilly with no heat, and looked at me totally seriously and said, "If the power isn't restored by 3:00, I'm going to have to start collecting evening rations."

Well, that escalated quickly.

The power didn't come back on until about 5 pm but I was already gone because my dad had an invitation to an after hours event at Cabela's, World's Foremost Outfitter, and I wasn't going about to miss that.

There were mocktails, sales, and snacks galore.  My parents shopped and Emily and I visited the aquarium, enjoyed a popcorn bar, a sophisticated cranberry beverage, root beer floats, cotton candy, and even got our photo taken with Santa Claus himself. 

I took a vacation day on Monday, and Emily and I went to visit my niece and nephew in New Jersey.  Emily was staying overnight to babysit so I made the drive home solo.  Before I left, Matt texted me and said, "I placed an order at Tractor Supply, could you stop and pick it up on your way home?"

And that's how I found myself in the Tractor Supply parking lot on Monday night, picking up 100 pounds of chicken feed. 

I listened to Dan Fogelberg and the Eagles on the rest of my drive home and sung my little heart out.  I didn't get home until well after dinner, so while I ate, Matt unloaded the various chicken supplies from my trunk.

The headlamp comes in handy yet again.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

the traditional thanksgiving day dog show

Growing up, we always watched the National Dog Show on Thanksgiving Day.  I've carried that tradition into our married life.  Last year when we watched the dog show we got so caught up in it that we sent emails to some dog breeders, and a year later I just have to say I am forever grateful we did not go down that route.  

We are currently watching the Toy Group and Matt and I are aggressively rooting for our favorites.  The Pomeranian was just shown and Matt said "BOOO!!"

(No offense to anyone who knows or loves a Pomeranian.  This one just looked like it needed a comb and a barrette.)

We always want the English Springer Spaniel to win, because, Exhibit A, Rosie.

And exhibit B, Pearl.

Anyway, today I'm thankful for traditions.

I'm also thankful for friends and family, and for the following things that make life a little happier, in no particular order:

Dunkin' Donuts

My Dyson vacuum

Annie and Jack (they fall under family but I feel like they deserve a special mention).

Matt's enthusiasm about everything I do.  For example, I was vacuuming this morning (I was not kidding when I said I am thankful for my Dyson.  Imagine how much I'd vacuum if we'd actually gotten a dog.) and Matt walked in and said "Well ladies and gentlemen it's the World's Greatest Vacuumer, right here in PENNNNNSYVLAAANIAAAA!"  You know that song that goes "Oh I think that I've found myself a cheerleader?"  I have.

The library


Everything But the Bagel Spice from Trader Joe's.

Fires in the fireplace on a chilly night.

Funny memes.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

since i'm not going to be able to sleep tonight, i may as well write a blog post

Well, I'm coming to you live from the middle of a police manhunt. 

I think.

Let me back up.

Until we moved into this house, we had little to no contact with law enforcement.  When we moved in, things started off innocently enough.  First, there was the time that I called the police because I noticed a low hanging wire in the yard.

And those are only the times I've written about.  Earlier this summer our neighbor's teenage granddaughter had a party and served a few too many cocktails to her guests, who ended up in our backyard throwing up and falling asleep and we officially became "those neighbors" who call the cops to bust underage drinking parties.

And one time a man deposited a suitcase at the end of our neighbor Paul's driveway, and found his way across the street and into the bed of our neighbor Rob's pickup truck.  The man snoozed in the pickup for a bit and then woke up and tried to break into their house.

Anyway, we downstairs watching TV tonight and Matt said he was going to make himself a snack.  He stood up and looked out the window for a few seconds longer than normal.  I almost asked him "Is there someone out back?" but I knew he would probably say yes just to scare me and I'm no fool.

Instead he calmly walked upstairs.  A few minutes later I went up and saw he wasn't in the kitchen, but in the upstairs guest room looking out the window.  "The cops are here, and they're looking for someone," he said.

And sure enough, there were police cars out front and police officers in our backyard and the neighbor's backyard, running around with flashlights.  

For several minutes we watched as the cops searched, then got back in their cars, and sped off with their headlights off.

Shortly after we saw their flashlights again, this time in the backyard of the house behind us.
My heart was beating out of my chest.  I could barely speak.

Matt said, "I hope the chickens are okay."

We were in the cross hairs of a possible felonious pursuit and Matt was concerned about poultry.  

While Matt watched the backyard I looked out front, as a black SUV pulled up in front of our house.  Someone got out, carrying a brown bag, and WALKED UP TO OUR FRONT DOOR.  At the last second, she turned and went to our neighbor Diane's house.  And then, she turned and went to Paul's house, on the other side.

In a split second my mind went wild and I hoped my friends and family would say nice things about me when Keith Morrison interviewed them for Dateline.

She turned around before she got to Paul's house, got back in her car and drove away.  I am going to assume she was a food delivery driver, and just had the wrong street.  Because that would be some intricate planning for someone on the run.  But still, BAD TIMING.

We haven't seen flashlights in about 40 minutes and the cops aren't driving by as much, so I'm hoping they found whoever they were looking for.  

I'm still too keyed up to go to sleep, so I think I'll watch a show first.

But definitely not Dateline.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

what i read: november edition

It's time for November's book post with Steph and Jana.

I didn't get much reading done this month because pretty much all of our nights and weekends were filled up with kitchen work.  

Or, watching the Fall Harvest movies on the Hallmark Channel.

Either way, here's what we have.

First, Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes Courter.

This is a memoir written by a young woman who spent nine years in the foster care system, in fourteen different placements, was ultimately adopted as a teenager and is now an author, speaker, and adoptive parent.  I should start by saying that I work in the foster care/adoption field, on the legal, government side.  For the last six and a half years I've spent five days a week working on cases like Ashley's, and seven days a week thinking about them.

Because I work on the state side, hearing about the foster care system from the perspective of the child really hit home.  It brought tears to my eyes several times, especially when Ashley said no one ever celebrated her birthday until she was seven years old.  

Ashley writes about advocates who worked tirelessly on her case, but also about caseworkers and foster parents who mistreated her terribly and didn't do their job.  The social workers that I work with have an incredibly difficult job, one that I couldn't do.  They get paid next to nothing and have to work within a system that is at times, admittedly broken, just like the families are.  But they work their hearts out for those kids on their caseloads and I feel fortunate that I've gotten to see that.    

I could write forever about my thoughts on foster care and adoption so I'll end this here.  I highly recommend this book.  Chances are you or someone you know has some sort of connection to the foster care system and this book will be an eye-opener.

Also, November is National Adoption Month so you can go here if you're interested in learning more.

The second book I read was The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

A colleague recommended this to me and it was pretty short, but I read it really slowly and took it all in.  I don't always love books about abstract ideas and inspiration (exhibit A - my very unpopular opinion on Big Magic), but I liked this one.  It was direct and thought-provoking.  I got it from the library but I think if I owned it, it would be one that I would pick up again and again and read a little bit here and there.

Right now I'm in the middle of two books- The Dogs of Littlefield, and High Performance Habits.

Have you read anything great this month?