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31 December, 2011

A More Legitimate Review of the Year

I haven't been really great about blogging this year, so you might not know what a great year it's really been around here.

Travels
We started the year with a quick weekend trip to Ft. Myers to visit the O'King side of the family, and then did a two-night mini cruise on Disney's newest cruise ship, the Dream. 

In September, we took a road trip that included the Georgia Aquarium, the Penn State campus, Philadelphia, the NJ shore, and Hilton Head.  We had such a wonderful time... I can't believe I didn't blog about it.

We wrapped up the year with another cruise, this one our "last hurrah" before I start school.  We celebrated our anniversary and Christmas in style, and got to see the new Muppets movie onboard rather than get off the ship in Nassau.


The Cousins doing "jazz hands"

Family Visits

In addition to our January trip to FoMo, it seems like 2011 was the year to reconnect with family.  Mary and Richard's 50th anniversary party in August turned into the biggest family reunion in probably 20 years.  We spent two days in the parks with different groups of family and had a great time at the actual party as well.

I also got to spend Thanksgiving with Mom and Michael.  This was the first "family" holiday we've had in what feels like a million years.  Sadly, Scott had to work, but I brought home lots of leftovers for him.

Changes...in Shades of Blue
I got a new car, we painted an accent wall in our bedroom, and I decorated the garage.  (well, I decorated half the garage.  I really am planning on finishing that one day!) Blue was definitely the signature color of 2011.

Culinary Adventures
I'm getting much better at cooking big chunks of meat.  My favorite cut of pork is the "butt shoulder," which is the butt or shoulder, and makes a darn fine spaghetti sauce and/or pork roast.  I'm a huge fan of beef short ribs, and made a new cut - horseradish-crusted brisket - for Christmas.  We also killed a pair of lobsters this year.

Entertainment
We finished up our second subscription series at the Straz Center in Tampa and decided to not renew for a third.  Shrek and Billy Elliott were wonderful, but overall we were disappointed in the shows we saw and this season's shows were mostly outside our interest.  We put some of our theater money into Sea World annual passes.  We haven't really made use of them as much as I'd hoped, but I've used the time we spent practicing photography.  I also got Scott a subscription to GameFly for his birthday and he's played about a million shoot-em-up games so far.  He'll also get a lot of use out of it once I start school.

I think that's most of the highlights.  I'm looking forward to finding out what 2012 will bring.  I'm expecting big things...

2011 in Non-Sequitor

How did it get to be December 31st already?  Did I miss Thanksgiving and Christmas?  I really let the past few months fly past and barely looked around.  Maybe that's because I've got so much change coming up next year.  School? At my age? Bwahahaha!  Anyway, before I leap into a new year, pardon me while I indulge myself in my annual look back...

Take the first sentence of the first post of every month this year on your blog and put them all together.


Milo took the opportunity to nap in the laundry room, which is generally off-limits, while I was packing up Christmas. I set out to take a picture of the birds on the light poles that I see every morning. Driving home feeling sleep-deprived after an overnight shift? 
 
We painted the garage yesterday - a beautiful solid coat of white. The oven timer has about 45 minutes left on it, though dinner certainly isn't going to be before 5, since that's when Scott gets home from work.  I just noticed that all of the pictures in the gallery at the top of the blog currently contain Scott. 
 
The following happened between 7:00 and 8:00 this morning: Scott and I have an event to attend in New Jersey this fall. I spent August 24-27 in a whirlwind of family fun. We're in a bit of a money crunch right now.  It's been a rough week for the Penn State faithful, myself included. Can you believe Scott had never made gingerbread (or graham cracker) houses before we decorated these beauties in 2008?

25 December, 2011

Happy Christmas!

Here are a few pictures from this very morning.  I was out and about, the cats were home, and Scott was at work.  Very Merry Christmas from all of us to all of you!

24 December, 2011

Oh Baby Baby

Ladies and gentlemen, I now present the final young Jamie and Santa photo.  Here we have my second Christmas, age 19 months.

I imagine based on the background that Santa visited his cousin Wilbur at his camper in the Florida Everglades.  Santa, not used to moonshine, passed out just minutes before children arrived for their annual photos.  So Wilbur grabbed Santa's suit, hung a piece of a sheepskin rug on his face, and stood in for the photos.

See how little Jamie is focused (rather unhappily) on something just off frame?  That's Santa, stumbling into the room, hung over, wearing only his long underwear.

(the next year, Jamie's parents took her someplace else to meet Santa.  good call, Mom and Dad.  good call!)

23 December, 2011

You Would Cry Too

I'm going to attempt to channel Prince Humperdink for a moment. 

There was a great battle here...between a little girl and an old man...she fought to get away, but he held her mercilessly.

Seriously, look into the eyes.  It's hard to tell which one of us is angrier!  My money is on the old guy, who seems to hate children and desperately needs some spiked eggnog if he's going to make it through the end of his shift.

Although, judging by the way he's pinning my arms down, I'm guessing there was a mighty freak-out before the picture was taken.  Think I kicked him in the shin?

20 December, 2011

Not Trustworthy

This is the face of a kid who doesn't like her situation.  "Sit with this old man with the dead eyes? Umm...why?"

Aside from the look of suspicion (I'm sure Scott would be proud), this picture shows a problem with MANY of my childhood photos: overexposure.  As a near-albino living in South Florida where everyone else is tan year-round, most of the time I looked like a marshmallow with eyes (but not eyebrows) in pictures.

Anyway, I'd bet money that I was told by my Dad to not cry and managed to suck it up for the picture.  Because a sullen kid is a better photo subject than a screaming one.  Or something like that.

17 December, 2011

Christmas Then and Now

2008: Kitten Elphie's first exposure to fake evergreen:

2011 (this morning): As I was up on the step ladder putting the angel on top of the tree, Elphie jumped up to help. She stayed there long enough for me to take this picture, and then when I carried the step ladder away from temptation.

Some things never change! (Except for her size, because man she is a GIANT!)

16 December, 2011

Christmas Miracle

Of all my Santa pictures, this one is my favorite.  Though I enjoy the happy smile of 1984, I super-puffy-heart loved the dress I wore in the 1983 picture.  I still have this dress in a Space Bag upstairs.  It's got a crinoline...and a bell.  What could be better than that?  Plus, I think that the kid in this picture really looks like me.  (maybe it's the lack of smile?)

I do have some current news to share, so I apologize to 4-year-old me for upstaging her.

My boss today gave me the excellent news that I'm being promoted.  I'll be doing the same job, with with a different title and a new pay grade.  Effective January 1, my current title becomes "senior ," and I'm getting a 6% raise.

Now, 6% doesn't really sound like it would be enough to bring me near tears, but it's been a long time since I got more than 2-3% at once.  In fact, two years ago my annual raise was a piddly 6 cents per hour (the tears that year were plentiful, and certainly not happy ones).  This one raise literally equals the amounts of the past 4 or 5 years combined.

And aside from the money, there's also the fact that I've been promoted.  Someone thinks I'm good at my job, and I can't adequately express what that means to me.  I love this job.  And apparently the job loves me.  It's super-awesome!

15 December, 2011

1984, But Not in the Orwellian Sense

This is my second-favorite Jamie-and-Santa photo.  Look at those chubby knees! The pinafore dress (also, I believe, featured in my school picture from the same year)! The genuinely gleeful expression!

'84 was a big year for me.  After all, it was my first year of school (first grade).  Since we were living in Philly at the time, I'm going to assume that's where this photo was taken.  I'm also going to assume that Santa was an alcoholic Italian (the dark hair on his hands and eyebrows and the big red nose - you know I'm right!). 

I'm pretty sure I got a Cabbage Patch Kid this Christmas.  Thanks for that, Santa!

14 December, 2011

26 Years Ago

As I type this, I've got pepperoni-mozzarella bread in the oven.  The house smells delightfully Italian, but not at all Christmas-y.  Back to the task at hand... two things about the photo above:
* Burgundy velvet
* Ruffled collar

Something about this dress makes me think of a 50-year-old secretary in the 60's or 70's. 80's? Maybe from "9 to 5" or something.  Whatever era, it just doesn't seem like a kid's dress.  But knowing how much I still to this day enjoy wearing fuzzy clothes, I bet this was a favorite of mine.

10 December, 2011

Pigtails!

Dear Santa,

I formally request some teeth - I seem to be missing a few.  I am also slightly concerned about the position of your left hand.  Are you about to snap my tiny little neck?  And why aren't you smiling at the camera?  Your eyes seem to say "I hate little girls," but I'm sure that's not your true feeling.  After all, who could possibly hate little girls?  Especially one whose dress matches your outfit?

Thanks!

Seven-year-old Jamie

08 December, 2011

8 Going on 12

Christmas 1987: I was 8 (almost 9).  This is the last of the Santa photos in my baby book.  Perhaps because once your head is higher than Santa's you're officially too big to sit on his lap?  If my math is correct, I was in the 4th grade in this photo. 

I have no idea what I got from the Jolly Elf this Christmas, but apparently I was quite excited to see him and ask for something.  Was this the year of the tiny pastel boom box? Some form of Cabbage Patch product? LEGOs?  Whatever it was, thanks Santa!

05 December, 2011

2005: The Casual Christmas Portrait

When you attend Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, you receive a free souvenir photo from the event.  What they don't tell you is that the photographers are drunken monkeys incapable of correctly framing a shot. 

Actually, I really like this picture because I remember having a lot of fun that night.  I actually sang in a Candlelight show and then we headed over to MK.  We sat on the curb on Main Street watching the "snow" falling, and I was so tired and emotional that I got weepy and homesick for real snow.

Plus, look how YOUNG we both were!  Apparently the last 6 years have been rough.  Of course, I think we can all agree that the difference between 2005 and 2006 (one post below) is pretty jarring.

04 December, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree!

Scott and I went on a Disney cruise in December of 2006 to celebrate our anniversary and actually paid money for the photo below!
 

Oh 2006, why did you make my hair like that?  Actually, this was after I donated Locks of Love, so I forgive myself for the hair.  We won't discuss the arms-white-as-shawl or Scott's nearly-flesh-tone yellow shirt. Anyway, this was another of those pictures we bought but never put in a frame.  Can you blame me?

02 December, 2011

Tip of the Hat(s)


We spent New Years Eve 2007 at the Grand Floridian, having dinner with Rose and Gary, followed by stupid hats and fireworks.

(there is a Christmas tree in the background, so this does count as a Christmas picture. Because I said so!)

01 December, 2011

2008: A Very Sweet Christmas

Can you believe Scott had never made gingerbread (or graham cracker) houses before we decorated these beauties in 2008?  We sure had a lot of fun that day, and took many more pictures.

Yes, I'm poaching my own blog for posts now.  No, I'm not ashamed!

29 November, 2011

Crusty

I accidentally used a different pie crust recipe for my Thanksgiving apple pie.  "Accidentally," you ask?  Yes.  See, "my" pie crust recipe is from the little spiral-bound booklet that came with my stand mixer.  Who'd have thunk that the recipe in the KitchenAid Best-Loved Recipes cookbook (a.k.a the official stand mixer cookbook) would be completely different?

By the time I realized my error, I had 1/2 pound of butter cut into pieces and setting in the freezer.  There was no turning back.  It turns out that this recipe, along with my own special modifications, was pretty fan-damn-tastic.  And so, I'd like to share it with the world (or the three of you who read this).

Jamie's Fan-Damn-Tastic Pie Crust
(adapted from the Pie Dough for a 2-Crust Pie, "KitchenAid Best-Loved Recipes")
makes 2 crusts for a 9-9.5" pie

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, each stick cut into 16 pieces and chilled in the freezer for 10-30 minutes
1-2 shots vodka (limoncello, orangecello, or any other flavor-infused vodka may be substituted)
1/4 cup cold water
ice

1. In large mixing bowl, stir together flour, salt, and sugar.  Using stand mixer paddle attachment (or food processor, pastry knife, fork, etc.) incorporate butter into flour mixture until pea-sized pieces of butter remain and flour has a coarse texture.

2. In rocks-style glass, combine vodka, water, and ice.

3. With mixer running, add liquid 1 tablespoon at a time until ingredients are moistened and dough begins to hold together. (generally 5-7 Tbs.)

4. Shape dough into a ball and divide in half.  Shape each half into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before rolling out.  Finish as your pie recipe directs.

5. The rest of the cocktail is yours to enjoy.  Go ahead, you've earned it!

Note: I used limoncello for Thanksgiving because we didn't have vodka in the house.  The crust was incredibly sweet (after the cocktail, I kept referring to is as "a damn sugar cookie").  If you use limoncello for a pie with a sweet filling, I'd recommend leaving the sugar out.

Another note:  I've heard that super-cold ingredients make a flakier crust, thus frozen butter and wet ingredients on the rocks.  I've also heard that vodka makes a flakier crust because it has a lower evaporation point and therefore leaves less liquid in the crust.  This crust was definitely flaky!  I can also tell you for sure that there was plenty of dough for a 2-crust pie and it was easy to roll out, if slightly delicate.

Happy Pie-Making!!

Back to 2009


I love the Osborne Lights, but hate the crowds.  It's telling that this photo was taken on a side street, with Scott leaning on a trash can.  It's the only place we could go without being elbowed by a stranger or run over by a stroller! I'm pretty sure that 2009 was the first time we'd been back to see the lights since 2003.  I'm also pretty sure we'll be skipping it again this year.

28 November, 2011

The Daily Christmas #1 (which is sort of #2)

Remember the Month of Holiday Cat Photos (otherwise known as December 2008)?  I've decided to resurrect that this year, but instead use pictures from my own past Christmases.  They're not going to be chronological, mostly because I have a big hole in my albums in the 90's and 00's, and partly because I'd hate to blow all of the adorable mini-Jamie with Santa pictures in the beginning.

I'm also starting today, knowing that I'll probably fall off the posting wagon once or twice.  So without further adieu, I present Christmas morning, 2010:


We took this picture on the parking tram at Disney's Hollywood Studios on our way back to the car.  We signed in Jackie and her family, and then (according to the caption on Facebook) went home for eggnog pancakes and presents.  It was pretty darn chilly last year, but I won't complain.  Better 60 than 90, right?

26 November, 2011

An Open Letter to Santa Claus

Dear Santa,

Hi it's Jamie. You might remember me from this picture *cough cough* years ago.  I was the little girl holding the red toy truck.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know I won't be expecting any gifts this year.  Scott and I have decided to celebrate our anniversary and Christmas "off the grid" with no gifts.  Money is tight, and we have what we need and can wait for anything else we want.

Whatever extra money we do have this season is going to be donated to our two chosen charities.  This year, we'll be giving to the Alzheimer's Association (and not just because their ribbon color is purple!) and the Wounded Warrior Project.  We know our friends and family will understand our desire to "pay it forward" rather than give and receive trinkets, and we hope that they consider making a donation to a charity of their choosing instead of buying anything for us.

It's nice to know that our money will be helping those who deserve not only our help, but our gratitude.  And I'm not going to lie - not having to fight the holiday shopping crowds is a gift in itself!

Merry Christmas to you and the Mrs., and feel free to stop by for some cookies. We'll be sure the save you some!

Love,
Jamie

25 November, 2011

I *Told* You Not to Do That!

Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to Cassidy.  I met her today and got to hold her so long my shoulder and elbow still hurt.  (I call it "baby arm." It's like tennis elbow, but getting this is so much more fun)

Cassidy was born on Wednesday night, and she belongs to Matthew and Kristen. By now though, I think it's safe to say they belong to her.  They let me come and visit today, though at 6:00 this morning I was really not sure I'd ever meet her or speak to her daddy again.

Perhaps you remember this post from last month where I gave sage unsolicited advice about the perils over over-sharing to future parents everywhere?  On one side, my post focused on photos, but the gist was pretty much "everyone doesn't need to know everything."  Matthew actually read and reposted what I said on Twitter.  And that's why I was so shocked and disheartened last night when he started basically live-tweeting Cassidy's day.  Weight, temperature, consistency of poops... I was wondering if he was doing it just because he knew it would drive me bonkers or if he really thought his Twitter followers were that interested in meconium.

This morning, after waking up to another 8 updates, I tweeted to Matthew (with love) that for my own sanity I needed to unfollow him until if/when he stopped tweeting literal and figurative baby crap.  He texted me a few hours later, "OMG!!! I had no idea it was doing that!!!"  It turns out the iPhone app he bought to track baby crap (and did I mention breastfeeding?) asked for his Twitter ID and he thought he'd be able to pick which entries to tweet - smiling, rolling over, etc.  He was so mortified over what happened that he logged into Twitter and deleted all of those posts before I even had a chance to get a screenshot to mock him with later!

Needless to say, Matthew turned off the auto-tweet and I followed him again.  And I scored an invite to the hospital.  How could I say no?  So I brought lunch (I still suspect that's why I was invited. though the smooth "will you stop on your way?" was pretty classic) and held the baby, heard the story of how she was born and doled out some assvice (no, she doesn't need a Black Friday TV in her room to turn her brain to pudding; yes, she needs books that aren't on an iPad!) and talked to Cassidy about life.  I also decided to snap a classic self-portrait while I was holding her:

She and I decided that we'd do this every time we see each other. It'll be our thing. Of course, while I was getting this picture just right, Matthew got the best behind-the-scenes picture ever. It's now my Facebook profile picture, though I'm not sure how long I can leave a hospital picture of me with a baby before it just confuses the crap out of everyone I know!



Welcome to the world, little one.  I hope your life is filled with love and happiness.  And don't worry - I'm sure your daddy deleted all of those tweets about poop before the Library of Congress had the chance to archive them!

10 November, 2011

The Cowardly Blogger

A few days before my twenty-second birthday, I found myself in a date rape situation.  A bad combination of a recently prescribed antidepressant and a few shots of vodka with a girlfriend and two guys that I trusted resulted in a night that to this very day I can only remember in very short flashes. 

I'm not going to share the details of the night, because they're not important anymore.  But I did want to tell you what happened in the following days.  The next morning, I woke up in my own bed in my dad's apartment undressed from the waist down.  I walked over to my girlfriend's apartment to check on her because I genuinely believed at that point I'd been drugged.  We had coffee and I eventually went home to shower and go to work.  I ran into him in the cafeteria at lunchtime and when I asked him what happened he lied to me.  When I called him out on his lie, he back-tracked and lied again in a different direction.  I stopped listening.  After work, I called my ex - the one person around me I thought could point me in the right direction - and we went out to dinner.  He expected to hear a story about some silly boy troubles.  When I told him what happened, he turned six shades of white and was the first one to say the "R"-word.

The next morning, after the girlfriend and I went to the apartment gym to jog on the treadmill and talk things through, I called my mom and told her.  Then I went home and told my dad.  The rest of the day was sort of a blur of witness statements, interviews, a pelvic exam, and uncomfortable drives.

I didn't want to press charges.  The guy had a young kid and I couldn't bear the idea of the kid losing his dad, or the dad losing his job, because of me.  I only wanted to tell my story in case it happened to someone else; maybe that person would have a stronger case. 

They said it didn't work like that.

While trying to verify the name I had given them, they found a mug shot and showed it to me.  It was the same guy, a few years earlier, charged with domestic battery.  There's nothing quite so jarring as seeing the mug shot of someone you once viewed as a potential boyfriend and finding out the guy has a history of (at the very least) disrespecting women. 

So I pressed charges. 

As it so often happens, it turns out I went through all of that only to be on the wrong side of a very weak he-said-she-said situation.  After the detective spoke with both of us, he was never even charged.  I wasn't surprised.  To this day, I sometimes question whether I was more responsible for his actions than I believed at the time.  Obviously the guy was a scumbag, and in retrospect I missed some pretty obvious tells.  Plus, I'm the one who didn't bother reading the alcohol warning on my prescription pills.

Anyway, why bring all this up now?  Well, the same quote keeps coming up in the comments on stories about the Penn State incidents: "all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."  Today I came across stories of multiple survivors of childhood sexual abuse who say that the acts against them were witnessed, and that the other adult did not intervene.

And while it's easy to point the finger at everyone who looked the other way and say "I would have intervened/called 911/beat the shit out of the guy," I wonder how many people really would have done any of those things.  Doing the right thing is hard. Had it not been for one strong voice of reason in my life, I doubt I would have even reported an attack against me

I lack courage.  There are a lot of points in my life I could point to and say not just "I should have handled that differently," but simply "I should have handled that."  (If that movie "Defending Your Life" is real, I am definitely coming back to Earth the next time around!)  I have seen so many wrongs in my life and I don't think I've ever really stood up to any of them.  The job Scott has?  I never even pursued that career path because I didn't think I could handle people being fired or arrested because I caught them doing something wrong.  I knew I'd blame myself.

But in place of courage, I've got an amazing ability to see the good where others don't.  I think that people deserve a second chance.  And I'd like to believe that Joe, misguided though he was, thought his friend of half a lifetime deserved a second chance.  And until I hear something that changes my mind, I'm going to continue to believe that his legacy, while obviously tarnished, still shows a man deserving of the respect of the Penn State community.   Let's not forget that that quote involves "good men."  I'm not ready to give up on the idea that Joe is, for the most part, a good man.

Of course, the story seems to keep getting worse.  If he was part of a cover-up that spanned three decades in order to save the University (or himself) from embarrassment... if he really did know about the allegations and continued to let Sandusky bring children to University-sponsored events... then maybe he wasn't a good man after all.  But right now, as someone who knows how hard it is to report a crime - to stand up and say to a friend "what you did is NOT okay" - I'm going to continue to believe the best of him a little while longer.

09 November, 2011

Blue

Photo Credit
It's been a rough week for the Penn State faithful, myself included.  Rocked by scandal, we're seeing the reputation of our University tarnishing before our eyes.  We're seeing a house-cleaning of the administration that's likely to claim more before it's finished.  And we're seeing an unprecedented amount of hatred aimed at everything our school stands for.  In short, I has a sad.

Assuming that the allegations against Jerry Sandusky are true, there was a monster in our midst and none of us knew it.  Assuming the reports are correct, Sandusky was caught doing horrible things to children at least twice by Penn State employees on the Penn State campus and the University failed to investigate. And now an attempt by the University to look the other way and pretend that nothing bad had happened has backfired in a way that none of those involved had anticipated.

This is probably a good time for me to make abundantly clear that I find Sandusky's alleged behavior disgusting and deplorable.  There is nothing ok about using your position of power and authority to abuse children.  There is nothing ok about a sexual predator being allowed to continue work with at-risk youth after the first allegation was raised.

And while I am sickened by Jerry Sandusky's decades of abuse, I find myself sad that Joe Paterno's career is ending because he only did what he had to and not what he should have done.  Because Joe didn't stand up to his boss and his boss's boss based on the word of a graduate assistant, his entire legacy is tarnished. 

Let's remember that Joe did not commit a crime. Frankly, if the coach at a school like Miami or Auburn found himself in the exact same situation, no one would be rounding up a lynch mob or even raising an eyebrow. Joe's big crime here is not living up to his own high standards.

And to those like Piers Morgan who think that Joe doesn't deserve to be remembered as anything but "a guy who helped cover up sickening child abuse," I ask you to consider whether you think you should be remembered by your biggest mistake.  Do you think you should be forced out of a job you have done (and done well) for most of your life because you went along with the decisions of the person responsible for your employment? Have you ever looked back and thought, "yeah, I could have handled _____ better. I'm glad I got a second chance?"
 
Unfortunately, Penn State's failure to act in the first place changed the story from "former PSU assistant coach abused a child" to "Penn State Sex Scandal Cover-Up Involves Coach, Administration." I think Joe's decision to retire is what's best for the University community at this point.  I think that Graham Spanier, Mike McQueary (who, amazingly, is exactly as "guilty" as Joe and possibly more considering he parlayed an assistant job to a coaching job at the exact time of these allegations), and whomever was running The Second Mile nine years ago should step down.   

In the statement he released today, Joe said:


“I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case. I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief...

This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."

To me as a once and future Penn State student, Joe Paterno will always be more than just a football coach with a lot of wins. He'll be the man whose personal donations doubled the size of the Penn State library. He'll be a class act - the coach with higher standards of conduct than anyone else coaching today. He'll be the ultimate Penn Stater. He's larger than life...a living legend.  He is Penn State.

25 October, 2011

Fresh? Not So...

After last summer's near-death experience with a car air-freshener, it should come as no surprise to you that I'm not really fond of scented anything.  Even before that, I've always found most fragrances overwhelming. 

Cinnamon brooms at Publix? Sorry Scott, you'll have to do that corner of the store yourself.

Powdered carpet cleaner? I'll just avoid that room for a few days.

I even remember trying to hold my breath in the "stinky aisle" of cleaning products as a kid. (of course, I also remember freezing to death in the freezer aisles. it's possible the only part of the store I did like was the free cookie part!)

20 October, 2011

Before the Afterbirth

At last count, I have about a half-dozen friends and acquaintances on Facebook who are pregnant (or the male equivalent). In the past few months I've seen ultrasound pictures and videos, status updates from cribs to cravings, and everything inbetween.

And for the most part, I've been uncharacteristically quiet.  These little social media baby booms are always sort of tough on me emotionally.  Scott and I decided many moons ago to take the "if it happens, it happens" approach to parenthood, knowing that more than likely it wouldn't just happen.  And more and more the idea of having a kid alternately terrifies and annoys me (have you SEEN the cost of a family healthcare plan? clothes? furniture? daycare?). But every time it comes up I'm hit with pangs of jealousy, bitterness and a little bit of "what if?"  Don't get me wrong - I've done enough soul searching to know that I am already a complete person who doesn't need a baby to feel whole. (not that I'm saying any of you "need" a baby - I'm just rather clumsily saying don't worry about me)

But this post is only partly about me.  It's a cautionary heads-up to those of you who fall into the "expecting" category.  I love you all.  And I already love your babies. Even when I can't say it out loud, know that I'm overwhelmingly happy for you.  I can't wait to see the 8,000 pictures of every milestone of your precious angel's early years.  But I'm going to let you in on a secret that your other friends might not tell you:

The miracle of childbirth?  It's gross.  It's awe-inspiring to the people involved (even just as a spectator), but to the people outside that room, it's bloody and there's a lot of ick involved.  And most of your co-workers, your college drinking buddies, and maybe even your own family members just don't want to see what you might be tempted to share on Facebook.

So here's my sincere request:  if you are at all tempted to post pictures of the following:
  • the placenta (or any mention that you're planning on doing anything with it besides letting the hospital dispose of it)
  • anything on mommy that would usually be covered by a bikini
  • naked baby pictures that include genitalia
  • poop
please go ahead and un-friend me from Facebook now.  I'd rather have you just dislike me for my snark and bitterness than totally hate me for submitting of one of the above items to the STFU Parents Blog. (WARNING: the previous link goes straight to their "gross out" category. click at your own risk...though I personally find myself laughing through the gagging!)  It's just better for all of us this way.

10 October, 2011

More Culinary Adventures

We're in a bit of a money crunch right now.  Between paying off my college debt (you know, so I can accrue new college debt), my new car, and last month's road trip, our savings are way lower than I'm comfortable with and my credit card debt is way higher.  All in all, not an ideal situation. 

So we're eating out a lot less. 

And I've gotten really sick of the same chicken breast/pork chop with brown rice and veggies.  Blahhhh... 

I'm also watching (but not completely avoiding) sodium, which rules out most easy foods that come frozen, boxed, or bagged.  I should also be avoiding red meat and butter, but I've slipped off that wagon.

And since we're attempting to be thrifty, I've started reading the weekly sale flyers from Publix.  I'm looking for whatever random cut of meat is on sale, and then searching the Food Network website for a recipe to go along with it. 

Inspired by a restaurant at Downtown Disney, I first tired my hand at pork ragu.  The recipe was moderately successful, considering I substituted the dutch oven for a crock pot.  The veggies, even after 6 hours of cooking, still weren't soft enough to dissolve in the sauce the way I wanted.  I loved starting a recipe at 10 am and then having it for dinner that night, and for a while we were contemplating buying a new crock pot.  We haven't though, so this recipe is bookmarked to return to another time.

Short ribs were next.  Scott expected to be disappointed by this recipe, since it's from the lady who only uses 5 ingredients.  No celery/carrots/onion?  Are you mad?  I guess the vegetable stock makes a huge impact.  The depth of flavor was impressive, the meat actually fell right off the bones (I thought it was just an expression!), and the second time I made it we used the leftover braising liquid for shepherd's pie.  The last time the meat was on sale, I actually made a mid-week trip back to the store to get more to freeze.

This week I had a craving for chicken & dumplings.  I grew up on Sweet Sue, and occasionally get them from Cracker Barrel.  This recipe was nothing like either of those.  Unlike the chicken and thick noodles in slime from the can (which, by the way, I still super-puffy-heart love), this was a creamy chicken stew with veggies. The dumplings looked like giant puffy matzoh balls, but were ridiculously airy, tasted like the chicken stock they were poached in, and melted in your mouth.  Of course, with both buttermilk and heavy cream, this recipe can't go in heavy rotation!

Here are some things I've learned from my recent culinary exploration:
  • The dutch oven is my favorite cooking vessel...but probably wouldn't be if I was the one who had to hand-wash it every time.
  • A 3.5 lb. chicken will not completely submerge in said vessel for poaching unless chopped up.
  • I am emotionally strong enough to butcher a raw whole chicken (not neatly, but well enough)
  • You can really make chicken stock from scratch
  • I make awesome chicken stock!
  • You could simmer a shoe in red wine and vegetable stock and it'll be delicious and tender
  • I'm getting better at dicing vegetables
  • If the house smells delicious when he comes home, Scott might not notice that I haven't showered yet
  • I really enjoy cooking, but only when I haven't worked 8 hours first
I think the next project is going to involve oxtails, since I have a tray of those in the freezer.  I'm still looking for a good recipe.

04 September, 2011

Tasty, Tasty Murder

Preface:

You may have seen this t-shirt or at least heard the comment before.  It's a concept Scott and I laugh about a lot.  Watch enough food/travel shows, and you're going to see all sorts of animals - from cows to fish - killed and cooked.  Everyone knows that meat used to breathe and think.

I, of course, am more of a supermarket murderer.  By the time I get my food, it's long-dead.  I never saw its face, never watched it breathe, and certainly didn't help kill it.  Heck, I've never even caught a fish that didn't get released back into the water!

The Story:

Scott and I were told a perishable food-related thank you gift was to be delivered to us yesterday morning.  We were expecting an edible arrangement.  After all, the thank-you was for something we genuinely didn't expect to be thanked for!  And so, imagine my surprise when the doorbell rang and I opened the door to find a very large box under the welcome mat.  (about that: the UPS driver often "hides" our packages under our doormat.  it's always obvious - even a small package makes the mat look like a cat is hiding under it - but yesterday's was just-plain comical.  the box was at least a foot tall, and about the same other dimensions as the mat that was covering it!)  The box had a big logo on the side - LobsterGram!

No way!

Yes, way!

So I hauled the box into the house and put it up on the dining room table, grabbed Scott's pocket knife and pulled out the shipping manifest.  Now having some clue about the contents, I though I should probably open the box.  So I did.  And inside was a giant styrofoam cooler.  I opened that lid, pulled off a layer of bubble wrap, and saw a wax paper sort of thing.  I picked up the corner, enough to see a rubber-banded claw that was definitely not bright red.  I put everything back in, closed the cooler, backed away slowly, and took the shipping paper upstairs to Scott (who had been in the shower).

He came back downstairs with me and agreed that yes, there were two lobsters in the box. That were moving.  In our house!

In retrospect, I think we both probably made the face new parents make the first time their precious miracle has an explosive poo.  You know you should DO something, and quickly, but all you can really do is stand there frozen and staring.  It was really a "umm...what do we do now" moment.  Scott then covered the lobsters back up and closed the cooler.  I should mention that neither of us really has a humanitarian hang-up about lobster.  Like all sorts of other creatures of the sea, they also fall into the "tasty, tasty murder" category.  But I think maybe because I had fish tanks growing up, the sight of a lobster in a tank at the grocery store is really no different to me than the sight of fish waiting to come home with you and live in your house.

We of course knew right away that we weren't going to look a gift-lobster in the mouth, and started reading their enclosed cooking manual (how's that for a "To Serve Man" type fate?).  The paper that was on top of the cooler suggested that we pose our lobsters for fun pictures before cooking them.  I thought that was pretty mean-spirited, though did have a momentary flash of "Mary and Richard playing with lobsters?" that quickly passed.  Scott also read in the manual that sometimes the lobster tails will splash boiling water when you put them in the pot. Yikes! So we followed the sage advice of Alton Brown and put them in the freezer to stupefy them while the water came to a boil. 

When the time came, I held the pot lid, Scott deposited them into the water, and I put the lid back on.  And the worst was officially behind us.  I guess the freezer trick really worked, because this scene from "Julie & Julia" certainly didn't happen to us...

(coincidentally enough, I just saw this movie for the first time this morning. oh how I laughed!)

Nine minutes after the water came back to a boil, they were cooked.  Scott did the ripping and rinsing, and I got the clarified butter, a few glasses of chardonnay, and all the appropriate tools together at the table.  While Scott was still working on cleaning his lobster, I grabbed one of the legs off my plate and sucked the meat out of it.  And in that moment, I had a food-piphany.  Lobster is so good that it gives you lobster-prep amnesia!

The parts of the meal where we were able to extract actual big chunks of lobster meat from the shells were even more amazing.  I might have shattered-claw-shell shrapnel buried in my face (came close to getting my safety classes out of my work bag...for real), but that's half the fun of eating crustaceans.  I barely touched the butter. The meat was just so perfect without it!

I get it now - why foodies are so willing to kill and eat lobsters in their own homes.  I don't think I'm at the point emotionally where I could go to the store and pick one out of a tank... but I could probably give someone else the money to go buy one for me!

Epilogue:

We had sort of a weird schedule yesterday, and actually ate the lobsters for lunch.  Tonight, we're having the rest of the stuff that came in the cooler with the lobsters.  It's the gift that keeps on giving!  And now I can add lobster to the list of things I can cook...with a little (ok, a lot of) help from my hubby!

Between Vacations

I spent August 24-27 in a whirlwind of family fun.  Of course, I'm a terrible blogger and didn't bother to record anything of note at the time.  Now on the eve of another "memory maker," I'm going to throw up a random list of things I want to remember about how wonderful it was to be with everyone again.
August 24 - evening - dinner at Downtown Disney with Rose, Gary, Mark, Dawn, and Scott.  Good food and wine, followed by a trip to Goodings to pick up ponchos for the tourists!

August 25 - Magic Kingdom with a ton of people! 

Our original plan was to meet up with Dawn and Naomi and their respective spouses and children, sign them in, and go off with just Dawn and Mark.  Then 7 others showed up, including Jenn and her family, so we stuck with the crew long enough to ride Pirates (not a good idea with a tiny baby...she wailed through the whole thing, and everyone on the boat was throwing me the "bad mommy" look because I was holding her!), Hall of Presidents, and Haunted Mansion.  By the way, the new and improved Hitchhiking Ghosts at the end of Haunted Mansion blew my freaking mind! I want to go back again and again and again!  After that, we bailed on the family fun and headed home... with a Dole Whip pit stop.  Mmm...magical Magic Kingdom treat...

August 26 - Happy Birthday Scott!
The day started with a little birthday brunch for my halfway-to-70-year-old.  Actually, it started as a little brunch and ended up being me feeding 11 people and trying to keep the stress away from Scott.  Note: I've never even really participated in Thanksgiving dinner (besides the pies).  I was so proud of myself - sticky buns, a bread casserole (with pancetta...that I fried...with splattering oil), individual chicken pot pies... and the only thing we didn't do from scratch was mashed sweet potatoes from our local favorite BBQ place.

Then we napped.  I needed it!


The evening was spent in celebration of Aunt Mary and Uncle Richard's 50th anniversary. In addition to the planned activities - dinner, musical performances by some grand kids, and a DVD of 1950's home movies that made me laugh and cry - we brought a little entertainment of our own.

I bought these 2 11x17 picture frames on clearance a few months ago, for the purpose of using them as silly photo props.  I brought them with me and stashed them in a corner until I saw a photo op.  As soon as the frames came out, they were like catnip for the kids, even the camera-shy ones.  People were squeezing as many faces as they could, going 3D and popping out of the frames, and generally laughing and having a good time.  I got major brownie points for bringing them along!

Alicia as Richard, and Richard as Mary
I was also a (small) part of the night's most fun surprise: "Flat Mary" and "Flat Richard" - customized masks of their faces, perfect for taking even more ridiculous pictures!

After the evening's fun and frolic, we asked everyone to take a pair of masks home with them, and to take pictures where they live.  Our plan is to create a travel diary of The Adventures of Richard and Mary.  I hope people remember to take pictures!



August 27 - Another day of Park Hopping, this time with Rose and Gary, Laura and Richard, Alicia, Alex, and Megumi.  We did almost all the "E-Ticket" rides at the Studios and at Magic Kingdom, got caught in a monsoon, and had lunch at Prime Time Cafe.  Some of the highlights for me:

Laura and Richard's 10th Anniversary Hoop-La!  We got them bride and groom mouse ears and anniversary buttons. Everywhere we went, people congratulated them.  They got up on stage for the Indiana Jones show, got shout-outs from parade performers, and generally got a lot more attention than they were probably comfortable with.  It was awesome!

The new Star Tours was so much better than I expected it to be!  There were 9 of us, which apparently qualified us for our own private ride.  I was the "rebel spy," (you'll understand when you ride it) and Alex was yelling back at the screen that he wanted to turn me in.  Our tour saw Chewbacca, Yoda, and JarJar Binks.  The 3D is great, and the simulator motion matches the image on the screen pretty seamlessly.

Riding Big Thunder Mountain with Alicia and literally laughing until I started to sob.  Because the lap bar was set to my legs and she's so much skinnier than I am, she got tossed around a lot.  The first dip, I thought she might fall out.  From then on, I just couldn't stop laughing.  By the time we pulled into the station, I had tears streaming down my face. When I recounted the story to Scott, people were looking at me to see who the sobbing freak was!

Laughing to tears again on Space Mountain. I was in the front of our rocket, and every time we went through a jarring turn on sharp drop Alex would yell "woah, Space," as though he was trying to get a horse to stop. It just got funnier and funnier.  Honestly, I can't remember the last time I had so much fun on Space Mountain!

Having great seats for both the Electric Light Parade and Wishes. Thanks to this, I was able to learn about what I'm now calling the "shaky shaky" feature on my camera and get some killer pictures of both without a flash.

And of course, we brought Flat Mary & Rich along for some killer photos "where Magic lives," but I won't be previewing those quite yet.

Driving home after a marathon day in the parks, with sore wet feet and total exhaustion setting in, it was hard for me to not get emotional.  I miss them all already - not just the ones I had a chance to "play" with, but the ones I only saw at the anniversary party.  I met some new extended family members, made a baby cry in terror, and took a zillion pictures (of which, about 50 came out).  We had a fabulous time - even better than we were anticipating - and look forward to seeing everyone again.

23 August, 2011

Murderer

I killed a bird this morning on my way to work.  Scott and I talked about filming a dramatization, but we're probably going to be too busy for the next few days so you'll just have to rely on your imagination.

There I am driving down the road when a little bird swoops down from the other side of the road and hits the front of my car with an echoing thud that actually resonated a bit like a gong.  I did what I always do in this situation (this is the 3rd bird, and 4th animal, I've hit in my driving career): I immediately craned my neck to get a good look in my rearview mirror to see the damage.

No bird behind me.  Did it bounce off onto the shoulder?  But before I even had a chance to consider that perhaps I had a new hood ornament, the bird must have dislodged from my bumper.  While I was still focused on the view behind the car, the bird rolled up the hood and thud thud thud up and over my windshield.

I actually yelled "oh my GOD!" and in retrospect am shocked I didn't crash the car.  I was stunned and freaked the heck out. The resulting adrenaline dump got me to work, but the mental crash was awful.  I hope that never happens to me (or another bird) again... but if they don't stop swooping in front of me I guess we don't have much of a choice! 

12 August, 2011

The Never-Ending Tooth Problem

I've got what can best be described as a "problem tooth."  The first problem with this tooth was back in January 2007.  That's when my dentist saw a small cavity.  According to this blog post from March of that year, the small cavity wasn't filled in time (through no fault of my own) and needed a root canal, which took 2 appointments to complete and then got infected.  Ironically, at that time I was referring to this as the never ending cavity.  If only I had known...

Right after the crown was put on, I was convinced there was a problem. I kept cutting my tongue on a sharp spot on the inside, but the dentist poked, x-rayed, and otherwise inspected and said there was no problem with the crown.

Fast-forward to August of 2010.  The crown on the problem tooth had cracked and was starting to crumble away. I returned to the dentist, and he decided to have a new lab-made crown made.  He put a temporary seal on top of the tooth, and sent me on my way.  I was supposed to return the following Monday to have the new crown put on, and took the day off to accomplish this.  They called me Monday morning to cancel because the lab hadn't returned the new crown.  The woman who called me was rude, didn't apologize, and didn't call back to reschedule once the crown came in.  When I e-mailed and brought the terrible customer service to the attention of the dentist, he e-mailed me back and basically said "don't come back."

So I didn't.

And unfortunately I waited until early this year to finally make an appointment with another dentist.  And then it took until April for the new crown to be made and cemented into place.  It hurt the day he put it in.  When the assistant dry-fitted the crown, it felt like it was too big.  The dentist just jammed it in and said it was fine.  It felt like the crown had little barbs on the bottom that were digging into my gums.

It was sensitive, but I sort of shrugged and figured it was all part of the healing process.  Then I started to notice that occasionally when I bit down on that side that there was some sort of "old man denture breath" liquid squeezing out.  After the first two wisdom teeth were removed (on the opposite side of my mouth), that tooth got super sensitive.  My dentist took a look and said "crown looks good," but perhaps there was a secondary infection under the tooth that would require an endodontist to re-drill the tooth.  When he suggested we wait a few weeks, I was happy to oblige.

When I had the other two wisdom teeth removed, I mentioned that the tooth was no better.  He said maybe it's just crowded in my (small) mouth and that removing the wisdom teeth would help.  It didn't.  So finally I got a referral to an endodontist.

Two weeks ago I went to the endo, who took a look at the x-ray and said the root canal was beautiful and that the problem was with the crown.  After talking to me, and sensing my displeasure at the idea of being sent back to my dentist, he recommended a course of treatment that would rely solely on a periodontist.  (at this point I encourage you to look into the term "tooth lengthening" or "crown lengthening," but not to click on wikipedia)  I got a call from the endo's office on my way home, and she said that my regular dentist said he could do that procedure in office.  Yeah.  Right.

I got a referral to the periodontist for this morning, and went for a combo consultation & treatment appointment.  Imagine my lack of surprise when he removed my crown and asked, "was that temporarily cemented, or was it supposed to be permanent?" I laughed out loud.  Well, I guess that explains the smell!

So after today's procedure (which really wasn't bad at all), my crown was temporarily cemented back into place.  I go back in 10 days for a post-op appointment (oh - haha - I'm not allowed to brush or floss that tooth until then. thanks for the special mouthwash, doc!), and the crown isn't going to be permanently cemented back into place for "a few months."

Four years, four dentists, and well over $1,000 out-of-pocket later, I am ready to be done with this process.  My jaw is still numb, but I have a good feeling that perhaps this time will be the beginning of the end of this saga.  (and yes, Scott just brought me a chair to knock on)  I'm hoping to be able to chew on both sides of my mouth again in a few weeks.  For now, nothing sharp like chips or popcorn (or cereal, I guess), and a few days without a straw or hot drinks or spicy food.  Gee...it's like having another wisdom tooth removed!

01 August, 2011

Putting the "Trip" in Road Trip

Scott and I have an event to attend in New Jersey this fall.  No matter how we sliced it, plane tickets were going to end up costing us more that I felt we could spend (and that was before I got my transcript out of hock). So we decided to take a little more time off from work and make the drive.  Even if gas was $4/gallon by then, we'd still be spending less than the airfare and rental car would cost.  But really, anyone who has ever driven up I-95 knows how miserable the DC to Philly leg is.  No matter what, the traffic is terrible and the drivers are hostile.  So today I had a crazy idea that might not be so crazy after all. Working with the following parameters: Work on Monday, event on Saturday morning, home on Tuesday here's what I'm thinking:

Monday afternoon: leave immediately after work and get at least an hour into Georgia before finding a place to spend the night

Tuesday: arrive in Atlanta by noon at the latest, spend 4-5 hours at Scott's Happy Place (the Georgia Aquarium), and then spend 3-4 hours headed North before finding a bed.

Wednesday: driving day! 9-10 hours to reach State College and spend the night some place walking distance from the PSU campus

Thursday: spend a couple of hours exploring Penn State and showing Scott the interesting touristy places and things.  And getting ice cream.  Leave State College and drive 4 hours to Philly, hopefully early enough to see my Grandpop.

Friday: something touristy in Philly before heading to the Jersey Shore.

Saturday morning: The Event. We'll be on the road southbound by 4 pm, and hope to make it south of DC before crashing for the night.

Sunday: drive straight down I-95 to Hilton Head, SC in time to go to dinner at Red Fish (no lie, we went there in 2008 and Scott is still talking about this place!) and crash at the Disney resort there.

Monday: drive home and get ready to go back to work on Tuesday.

I'm not deluding myself - it's A LOT of driving. Google tells me the route above is just over 2,500 miles, but the Orlando-Philly trip would be 2,000 miles round-trip. And this way the whole trip feels like a vacation instead of 2 long days in the car on I-95 with a few relaxing days in between.  It also gives us the chance to revisit the "best of"our other out-of-state trips and hit some places Scott has never been.

Of course, we still have a fair amount of time between now and then.  Lots could change. Heck, this vacation is on version 4.2 already!  Still, these plans are really exciting to both of us start to finish, which definitely makes the extra miles worth it.

Anyone want to play devil's advocate?

27 July, 2011

Laughing at the Past

Guess what I got today!  OK, don't really guess.  I got an official copy of my transcript.  The news contained, while not great, was actually better than I'd expected.  My last two semesters didn't count at all (Fall because I got a "trauma drop" of all my classes because of the bus accident...and I think I would've failed them all anyway, and Spring because my Dad never paid the tuition and I was never officially enrolled in any classes).  Financially that sucked, but it's a lucky break because I don't have two straight semesters of F's on there.  Even with that "good" news, I still left with a pretty dismal 2.2 GPA, and only 82 credits completed.

But the transcript provided some good laughs for Scott and me this afternoon.  I mean, I don't remember taking Arthurian Legend (D) or Astronomy (B-), but apparently I did.  I vaguely remember Genetics, Ecology and Evolution (B), which was basically a re-hash of AP Bio.  Scott was dismayed to learn that I got a D in Criminology, but I did get a B+ in Intro to American Criminal Justice 2 years earlier (which I also don't remember).  Honors Freshman Comp? B+ Three semesters of Italian? C, C+, C+.  My proudest semester was the last one I passed: Summer of '99, when I got a B+ and an A in two 400-level communications classes and an A- in nutrition.

Mostly, looking at the transcript just makes me sad.  My priorities were never what they should have been, and that I passed any classes at all after my Freshman year shows how damn smart I was, because I almost never went. And having taken 11 years to dig out of the financial catastrophuck I left behind, I wish that I could go back and smack some sense into my 18-year-old self and also go back and (while not blaming them) tell my parents to force me to show them my grades at the end of the semester.

But that's enough of looking backwards.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll be able to start taking classes again in January, though thinking about it for more than two minutes at a time makes me nauseous.    I'm hoping that the re-applying process is quick and painless so that I can actually make plans (and find out how much more I have to go) instead of this purgatory I'm in now. 

26 July, 2011

Definitely Not Free, but Clear

So...I spent $2,520 today and am having a bit of buyer's remorse.  Perhaps because I don't have anything to show for it.  Literally nothing, not even a receipt!

Actually, more than buyer's remorse, I have a little bit of pride and a lot of cautious optimism.  Pride, because I have officially paid off every last cent of college debt (two years after I found out about the last 252,000 cents I owed) (and not counting the personal loan that I got two years ago, which still has almost three years left on it). Cautious optimism because I no longer have any financial holds on my transcript, which means I'm free to continue my education.  There is a hold on there, but I just needed a note from the DoE that said my Perkins loans were paid off. They said they'd fax it over to Penn State in two business days.

Would you like to hear the ironic part?

After a few hours of Google searching (that's how one picks a school nowadays, right?), the most intriguing degree program I found is from Penn Freaking State's online campus!  At least most of my credits would transfer... theoretically... if I were to be accepted... and get some more lovely student loans that I promise not to default on as long as I live, so help me God.  Anyway, I'm still looking, and I'm not going to talk more about the degree or anything until I have a plan in place.  You know, a plan that will cost more money and take more time and brainpower than I've put in to anything in about... umm... ever.

But, you know, cautious optimism.

*vomit*

14 July, 2011

Slippery When Wet (with blood)

The dentist had trouble removing my last wisdom tooth.  The top-left one pretty much popped right out (along with the filling on the tooth in front of it.  see you again Monday morning, Doc!), but the bottom-left one was holding on for dear life.  This was the least "erupted" of all of them, and the one I was dreading the most, so I wasn't entirely surprised. 

I was, however, surprised when he stuck the large fancy dental pliers in my mouth one more time and the tooth popped out like a watermelon seed at a spittin' contest (too... much... time... in... Florida!).  I laughed, a hearty single "HA!" at the sight of the dentist recoiling in horror and the click click as it bounced on the floor.  It also felt it hit my hair on the way down, and checked for a bloody toothprint when I got home, but there was none.

Anyway, I'm home now, most of the numbness having worn off.  I still hate the taste of blood (remedy: lots of water drinking - but not swishing), and am still grossed out by the same things that grossed me out last time.  Luckily for me, the tooth I'm having the most trouble with is also on the left side, so I'm thinking I'll be on solid food on the right side faster than I was last time.

For now, bring on the yogurt and pudding! (whilst I enjoy the smell of Scott's lunch)

12 July, 2011

One of Those Days

The following happened between 7:00 and 8:00 this morning:

* I walked out of the house, locking the door behind me, only to discover the my keys (house and car) were still inside.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is why we have a key stashed in the garage.
* I narrowly avoided being hit head-on by a speeding dirt truck who was in my lane "sharing the road" with a bicyclist.
* I narrowly avoided being side-swiped by a convertible BMW merging onto my road off of the local toll road.  I recognized this car because he zoomed past me a few days ago on my way in. Apparently road rules don't apply to BMW convertibles.  I know where he works...considered leaving a note, but couldn't come up with wording that wouldn't get me fired.

The following happened between 8:00 and 8:30 this morning:
* I found out that the trainer I had scheduled for a class with 6 learners called in, and that I would need to cancel the class.
* The new guy who started yesterday had parked himself in my office waiting for something to do. His stuff was on my desk when I got in, and he literally hovered over my shoulder while I got logged in.  He's a nice guy. I blame this morning's little incident on the fact that he is brand new to the company and his manager likes to pawn off work on other people. "Just see Jamie in the morning - she'll get you set up" doesn't fly when his regulatory training is done.  OJT is out of my jurisdiction.

While none of these individually were such a big deal, my defenses were down *cough*PMS*cough* and everything together was more than I wanted to handle. 

I did have some bright spots, including well-meaning co-workers bringing me some pretzel m&m's, a lunch to celebrate something awesome that happened yesterday (which gave me indigestion...sigh...), and a new electric stapler by the copy machine that has a red light on the front (which I have named K.I.T.T.).

Still, now I'm home with no desire to go back and do it all tomorrow.  I'm tired and defeated, and the only thing stopping me from crying my eyes out is the knowledge that I have no good reason to cry my eyes out (tell that to my sad gland though).

And thus concludes my whine. Sorry if you tuned in expecting something interesting or non-pathetic.  I hear I'm having my left wisdom teeth removed on Thursday...perhaps that will yield something interesting.

13 June, 2011

Extracted

A few months back, the first time I visited our new dentist, 'removal of wisdom teeth' was once again added to my treatment plan.  (With my last dentist, I went so far as to visit an oral surgeon for the initial consult, but with our HMO they had to submit the paperwork to the insurance before the insurance would approve the procedure.  The paperwork got screwed up, and I wasn't in any hurry to have this done, so I just pretended the whole thing never happened rather than follow up. Scott's paperwork went through just fine a few months later, and he survived having his taken out just fine. That still didn't inspire me to go through it all.)

Anyway, the new dentist said he could take them out in-office, under novocaine but not anesthesia, two at a time.  And so I asked Facebook if anyone could think of a reason why I shouldn't go this route and save myself $500 or more.  Aside from a few people with "ooh - dentist - scary" reactions, there really weren't any.  So the next time I went in, I scheduled the first two to be pulled - #1 and #32 on the right side.

And now I'm going to attempt to post the juicy part of the story behind a "jump break" to spare anyone who can't bear the horror of what goes on when most people are asleep in the chair.  I personally don't think it's so bad, but Scott seemed to get a little squirmy when I told him parts of it.

07 June, 2011

All Jamie All the Time

(a book-end post)

Well, it took me about a zillion refreshes over multiple days (during which I found out a connect-seven of Scott pictures isn't nearly as uncommon as I originally suspected), but I finally got an all-Jamie banner:

And because I know you're dying to know, these pictures are from a pretty good variety of places: 10-year Disney party, our room on the Disney Dream, 10-year Disney party, Disney Magic character breakfast, Animal Kingdom (by the hippo viewing window at Pangani), FL Aquarium, and Castaway Cay/Disney Dream.

And now I can stop endlessly refreshing my own blog!

03 June, 2011

All Scott, All the Time

I just noticed that all of the pictures in the gallery at the top of the blog currently contain Scott.  I can definitively say that I have never seen this happen before!
 

Also of note: only one picture contains any sort of booze.  It seems most of the time when there is a camera-worthy occasion, there is also beer and wine.  Or a mojito.  Or a margarita.  Refresh the screen a few times and you'll see what I mean.  I guess we're both special occasion photographers and special occasion drinkers!

And in case you were wondering, the photos would be labeled "cruise, cruise, cruise, Epcot, Sea World, Studios, cruise."  Or more specifically, "Disney Wonder emergency drill, Castaway Cay/Disney Dream, Castaway Cay/Disney Dream, Epcot parking tram, Sea World penguin building, Mama Melrose's at the Studios, Disney Magic atrium."

I often find myself refreshing the blog whenever I'm blue or bored and wanting to jog happy times back into my brain, so that's why I'm so sure I've never seen this happen before.  It's like I won the Flickr slot machine or something!

24 May, 2011

PotD: Almost Empty Nest

I know this photo is less than great, but I was so excited to see "my babies" AND an adult this morning when I left for work that I had to snap a picture. This is the first time I've seen any of them in over a week, and I wouldn't be surprised if it's the last time.

All grown up and flying away...sigh...
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

13 May, 2011

Repressed

A quick read through the updates on my favorite blogs last night brought up a long-repressed memory.  The blog post in question was about the world's most awkward date, college dorm style.  And I'd like to share my own awkward date with you, but first two caveats:

* Yes, I was young and stupid.  Not all young and stupid girls end up on the business end of a bloody scimitar. Some of us were also lucky.
* I acknowledge that this might not be funny to you.  I was drifting off to sleep last night when my eyes popped open and I started laughing out loud.  I told Scott the story, more of the story than I'm going to include here, through laughter-induced tears.  He wasn't laughing along.  Maybe it's just not funny?

The story takes place very early in my Freshman fall semester at Penn State.  I know that because it wasn't yet jacket weather, and because the story starts in the dining hall at breakfast time and I was alone.  Breakfast quickly became a social-or-skipped event for me.  So anyway, there I am alone eating my breakfast when I am approached by a pair of guys who want to share my table.  One is a generic fleshy white guy (picture the guy next to me in this picture.  for example only. it wasn't actually him. I can't stress that enough as the story goes on!) and the other is a scrawny Indian guy.  They're friends or roommates or something, computer science or math geeks, and the white guy is incredibly chatty.

Somehow, in some details I continue to repress, I end up accepting an invitation to a concert from the generic fleshy guy.  And to be clear, when I say "concert," I actually mean Glee Club concert.  The Penn State Glee Club, as I'd discover my sophomore year, is an incredibly talented, and mostly gay, group of guys who throw a really fun party.  That night, however, I was simply impressed with their talent.

There was rain.  I don't know if it was raining the whole time, or if it started to rain as we left the concert.  All I know is that "Guy" and I were soaked to the skin.  The logical thing to do, apparently, was for us to go to his dorm, because it was closer than mine.  And he decided to get changed.

He got changed right in front of me.

And didn't do the gym class shuffle either.

He got completely naked, in all his white fleshy glory.

And so I did what any Jamie in this situation would do: pretend it wasn't happening.  Keep talking and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, don't look! Naked guy? What naked guy? No naked guy here!  And so, while he's all naked in front of me (you couldn't open the closet and use the door as a shield???), he's talking about being naked.  He's talking about nature and how nudity is normal and natural and I'm all "uh huh...mm hmm...HOLY SHIT DO ALL GUYS IN COLLEGE JUST GET NAKED AT THE DROP OF A HAT?"  I'm descended from actual Quakers, guys.  The good, decent people of my heritage do not think that there is anything normal about stripping in front of strangers.  We have a healthy dose of prude, and we think full-body covering is completely natural.

Obviously, there was no reciprocal nakedness from me.  Though the remaining details of the evening have been blissfully removed from my memory, I can assure you of that.  "Sweet Seventeen and never been naked in front of a stranger," as the song goes.

I do remember him implying, either that night or some time after, that we were dating.  (perhaps he didn't just drop his drawers for just any Glee Club groupie after all?)  I kindly set the record straight, telling him that I wasn't ready to commit to just one person, that I was young and still finding my way around school and blah blah blah...

About a month later (maybe less?), I was in the company of Guy - please don't ask me to recall the remaining details - and the subject of my boyfriend Evan came up.  Guy looked completely heart-broken. "I guess you're ready to commit now?"  Umm...well...you see...when a girl isn't interested in a boy, she says she's not ready to be in a relationship. She doesn't just come out and tell him that his nakedness traumatized her to an extent that she won't fully realize until she's in her 30's.

I guess all boys don't know this?