Saturday, March 31, 2007

Wake up call

The same day we returned from Gatlinburg and I found out my entire department at work had been outsourced, I got a phone call. My aunt was calling from Louisiana, asking if I knew where my mother was, as she hadn't answered her home or cell phones.

My uncle, my mother's younger brother and my godfather, had been to the doctor that day for a nagging cough. A nagging cough that ended up being cancer.

And here we are, just over two weeks later. He's had a biopsy, which resulted in his lung collapsing and a hospital stay. The cancer has spread to his brain, and other parts of his body. How many parts we don't know, as he hasn't yet been able to be transported to Baton Rouge for a PET scan and a better picture of what he's facing.

What we do know is that his future is far too short. The fact that he's still alive is a blessing; the doctors say that due to the pressure on his brain, had it gone untreated, he wouldn't have made it this far.

He's going through three rounds of radiation, and depending on how he reacts to those, may continue. If the radiation doesn't help, they're giving him a few months to live. If the radiation treatment does help, they say he could live comfortably for 18 months or so.

Once we get word from my aunt on how he's doing, my sister, J.J. and I will be traveling to Louisiana for a visit. I just wish it could be the first of many times J.J. visits his great-uncle.

If the passion for good food is genetic, my Uncle Ron passed it on to me (I also have a good dose of his pessimism). Growing up in Delaware, my siblings and I would go to Maryland to stay with Uncle Ron and his family. We'd go to the bait store, get a bunch of chicken necks, and spend the day on the dock catching blue crabs, carefully measuring them against the markings my uncle made on the cooler lid. Then, we'd head home with our catch, throw them in the steamer with some Old Bay, and spend the afternoon picking crab meat from the shells, feasting on our catch that very evening for dinner.

Now that his family is in Louisiana, the cuisine has gone from blue crab to everything Cajun. When I was last there for my cousin's wedding in May of 2005, Uncle Ron and I spent the day after the wedding at the grocery store and in the kitchen, and enjoyed a poolside meal with our extended family.

I'm hopeful that our upcoming visit will provide us with yet another good memory of family and food and fun.

Friday, March 30, 2007

TGIF (yeah, right!)

Okay, TGIF for those of you who can differentiate Friday from any other day.

So much for the whole, "Hey, now that you're not working, you can blog more" theory. I've never been busier.

What I've done with my first week off:
  • A couple of interviews. Knocked some jobs off the "possibilities" list and added a couple of new ones.
  • Cleaned all three bathrooms. And recaulked the tub upstairs. Next step: Clean out the refrigerator. done!
  • Sorted through all of J.J.'s clothes and baby stuff and packed away the things he's outgrown. Next step: sort through into "keep", "take to consignment" and "offer to others".
  • Got my driver's license updated.
  • Joe and I cleared out all the flower beds and put down 74 bags of rock. I also replaced that hydrangea with a rose bush and watched Joe mow and edge the front yard and cut back the shrubs and that Crepe Myrtle that was about to swallow the dining room. Next step: Now that we've had rain, it's time to weed and feed.
  • Emptied and refilled the dishwasher at least eleventy-seven times. Twice that many sink loads of bottles.
  • Organized my shoes so there's no longer a bunch under our bed and a bunch more in the Bear's closet. Now, they either live in an under-the-bed (on wheels!) bin or in a canvas hanger on the back of the Bear's closet door.
  • Went through my clothes in my dresser and J.J.'s closet (have you noticed I don't have my own closet?) and sorted into "keep", "pack away for when I gain weight", "pack away for when I'm pregnant" and "Goodwill". Next step: tackle the closet in the laundry room and the bins in the garage that I haven't touched since we moved.
  • Vacuumed the downstairs. Next step: Laundry room floor. done!
  • Did all of the laundry. For now.
  • Spent too much money on things for the yard and organizing the house. Next step: Serious budget time.
  • Went to the Preds game to watch them lose to Detroit, who still suck.
Gotta run - I need to get the fridge and laundry room done today so I won't feel so guilty doing nothing tomorrow and Sunday. I'm done! Anyone free for a late lunch? :)

Happy weekend!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Save the date!!!

It's my favorite time of the year...

Make sure you head over to Ben & Jerry's on April 17th for Free Cone Day.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Things I'd like to discuss with the previous owner(s) of our house:

(1) Thank you for replacing the cabinet doors in the kitchen. They are beautiful. However, using half-inch screws and choosing to use one screw per bracket has proven to be not such a good idea. Good thing carrying around J.J. has given me great biceps; I've needed them to use the drill and screwdriver, and only have 9 more cabinet doors to go.

(2) I also appreciate the motion-controlled spotlights that surround the house. I'd prefer if they weren't dependent on the front porch light being on, though.

(3) We thought it was odd that you chose to cover both the front and side porches with ceramic tile. I'm guessing that you got a great deal on ceramic tile, and/or didn't think about how slick it gets when it rains.

(4) I'm sure replacing both showers improved the value of the house. We certainly thought they looked great. However, not securing the downstairs shower drain to the drain pipe, and neglecting to tighten the overflow outlet in the upstairs tub made for quite an expensive plumbing repair, not to mention the gaping hole that still adorns our family room ceiling.

(5) Turning what I believe at one time was storage space between the garage and downstairs family room into an office was a fantastic idea. Having a home office was one of our "must haves" when we were shopping for a house. We just never thought to make sure the renovated space had vents; heat and air conditioning are useful in all rooms of the house.

(6) A fenced-in backyard was also something we had to have, as we knew we'd be adopting a family dog. Lillie Biscuit has enjoyed the yard immensely. She also has had great fun pushing her way out through the gate that doesn't quite fasten and forcing herself under the fence around the entire perimeter of the yard. We've been quite busy staking down the fence as she finds new escape spots and the bungee cords on the gate seem to keep it closed. They also make it quite challenging if we want to access the backyard from the driveway.

(7) Thank you for repainting the entire interior of the house before you put it on the market. You chose great colors and we have had no need to repaint any of the rooms, as they have fit in with our decor. We would have liked to be able to open the windows, however. This might be possible if you had opened them while you painted the trim.

As much as I gripe about things like this, we do have a great house. And, if we hadn't moved in when I was halfway through my pregnancy and already on bed rest, we probably would have fixed all of these things by now.

At least I have plenty to keep me occupied before I start my next job! :)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

So, this whole "out of work" thing ain't so bad.

Yesterday was my first day of unemployment. I:

Woke up and played with J.J., had breakfast, got us both ready, then took him to the babysitter.

Had a pedicure and got my brows waxed.

Met a friend for lunch.

Went to the baby consignment store and got J.J. some clothes.

Went shopping and got some stuff to help organize the house.

Got my hair cut.

Went to the hardware store and got yard stuff (including a new hose to replace the new hose that Lillie Biscuit ate).

Picked up J.J. and took him for a wagon ride.

Watched basketball.

Spent two hours pretending to be a travel agent and FINALLY got Joe and his sports producer a flight home from New York later today (they had optimistically purchased a return flight for Monday).

Friday, March 23, 2007

Time for a change

So, I finally got my hair cut:

No comments on the quality of the self-portrait, please. I've already proven it's not one of my strengths.

Here's a before.

What a game!

Oh, how I love the month of March!

As much as I would have liked to have seen Vandy beat Ewing Jr. Georgetown, I'm glad Joe will be heading home tomorrow (yes, I'm home alone - don't think about breaking in to my house - I have the three A's: (1) Attack dog (2) Alarm System and (3) Attitude).

Sweet boy

What on earth could he have done to end up behind bars? :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Starting over

First, I want to offer a big heartfelt thank you to everyone who called, emailed or otherwise responded to me in the past week in reference to my job being eliminated and the service I provided to my company becoming outsourced. I've mentioned before that my job was a Dilbert comic strip, and this has pretty much secured that.

I have been blown away at the generosity of others to help me find something new to fill 40 or so hours a week and provide me not just a paycheck, but an opportunity to learn, share my knowledge and provide for my family.

Tomorrow (Thursday), I will go to my office for one last day. The functional part of my job is over - I just need to go to the farewell lunch, finish carting my personal belongings to my car and collect my last check.


Now what?

I'm not sure yet. In the past seven days, I updated a 7 year-old resume (and edited and modified and tweaked it a few times), forwarded it to friends and have been overwhelmed at the positive response. I've had several inquiries, exploratory phone calls, interviews and have some more scheduled.

While work has always meant a lot to me, I think it's safe to say that in the past year, I've been focused primarily on my family. Realizing that I'm so much more than "just a mom" has given me a new perspective and I'm looking forward to finding the right place to work.

My goal is to find that place, then take some time to unwind, detox and tackle that "to do" list before starting over.

I spent my childhood moving from state to state, being the new kid at school and finding new challenges. I'm thoroughly looking forward to the next one!

Friday, March 16, 2007

I'm getting there...

Resume updated? Check!

New interview suit in post-J.J. size? Check!

Attitude adjusted so I don't snap at my husband? Better work on that...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I can't make this stuff up...

So, earlier today (my first day back at work after I found out that my job, along with 23 others in my department, was eliminated), I get this email message from a "coworker" that I have NEVER had a conversation with (we might have been in the break room at the same time a handful of times and exchanged hellos):

(edited to protect the innocent ignorant)

Hey Linda,

[Random first name of some other woman I also have had no interaction with] and I were inquiring about Justin T. concert tickets.

And, if I am remembering correctly, your husband was given (sic) some away yesterday.

Do you know if he has any extra (2 tickets) that we could purchase?

-Thank you.

[Insert name here]

I could have had a field day with this, and gone off on her for marrying me off to Brad Schmidt, or for hitting me up for tickets (yes, I do realize she did offer to pay for them) the day after I was informed that I was being "transitioned" next week.

Instead, I replied that she must be mistaken, as my husband was (1) on vacation with me yesterday and (2) is in the sports department and probably wouldn't have access to concert tickets.

Sometimes, I wish I were more mean-spirited... :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Things it's not OK to say to me right now:

1. At least you got to enjoy your vacation before you found out you were laid off.
2. Well, you don't have to wait for an announcement anymore.
3. Hey, now you can spend time with your husband on his days off.
4. You said you wished you could stay home with J.J.
5. Maybe you can find some way to work from home.
6. Now you can tackle that "to do" list.
7. It could be worse...
8. Look at the bright side...
9. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise.
10. Is there any way you can just stay home?

What you can say:

"That really sucks!"

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Bracketology time

Go here and print your brackets.

I love March!!!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Family time...

Yesterday evening, as Joe was reporting live from the GEC Nashville Arena, J.J. looked up at the television, smiled, clapped his hands, and said "Da-da!".

I spent the rest of the evening trying to convince him that even though Daddy is inside the same television, he doesn't know Tinky Winky, Dipsy, La-la, or Po...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Talk about a pain in the butt...

Saturday afternoon, J.J. and I decided to visit Pied Piper Creamery to see our friend Jenny and to let J.J. have his first taste of ice cream.

When I tried to put him in his car seat to come home, he screamed in pain, his face turned scarlet, and big fat tears streamed down his face. I immediately unstrapped him, held him tight, and kissed his tears away.

Back in the seat, and the screaming began again.

And I could tell he was hurting. Bad. He calmed down enough that I didn't feel the need to rush him to Vanderbilt's Pediatric ER, and decided to get him home.

He was fussy all the way home, and I couldn't get him inside fast enough. When I was holding him, he was OK, but the minute I laid him on his changing table, all hell broke loose again.

My mind raced, wondering how he got hurt and what could be hurting him... did he try to stand up and slip and bruise himself or break something? When could it have happened? I needed to get him down to the diaper and check out my little guy.

I examined his legs, arms, tummy, chest, shoulders, back... Nothing. The only thing I discovered was his diaper was in need of changing.

And that's when I found what was making my happy little boy so miserable:

Diaper rash. I'm here to tell you, these guys are nothing compared to diaper rash.

The worst part is, the diaper rash is from his antibiotic... So the medicine that made the pain of his ear infection go away (third in two months - we're off to the ENT soon to discuss tubes) has caused him the most pain he's experienced in his entire life.

The good news is, things are starting to clear up & we have just 4 more days of antibiotic. I'm just glad this will all be a memory by the time we head out on Spring Break next week...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Hatin' the gates...

Since last weekend, we've been living in a gated community. No, we didn't move; the gates are within our house.

You see, J.J.'s crawling has advanced beyond the "better keep an eye on him" stage, as he has not only learned that all of the rooms in our house are connected, but has determined the best way to get from one place to another, and his increasing speed has made all of this a dangerous combination.

After joking that we needed to go get a giant hamster ball and let J.J. have the run of the house, we went and got a few gates.

They have taken some getting used to, to say the least. One of the gates is between the kitchen and dining room (rendering the pocket door useless for now). This is a critical gateway, as it takes a split second from the time J.J. enters the kitchen until the cat's water bowl is overturned. It's also the most direct path for me to get dinner from the kitchen to the table. While taking the indirect route of the side hallway/nursery/ back hallway/living room worked on Saturday, the second gate was installed between the living room and back hallway on Sunday. It's now necessary to carry only what I can manage in one hand, leaving the other hand free to unlatch the gate.

While Joe and I are certainly trainable and flipping the latch one-handedly is becoming second nature, Lillie and Zitty don't have the benefit of opposable thumbs and have found themselves on the wrong side of the gate on more than one occasion. Without access to the (now cloistered) dining room/living room area, Zitty can't lie in the sun on his window seat. And Lillie can't scavenge for abandoned Cheerios and "clean" the highchair tray (Joe has started calling her "Nu Nu"*).

Our solution has been to prop the gates open whenever J.J. is not roaming about the area. It's been fairly successful, as so far the Bear and I have each stubbed our toes only once and Lillie has wrestled the door stop (AKA her dog toy) free just once, causing the door to slam shut, trapping herself in the dining room, and waking me up in the process.

The next step is to install the final gate at the top of the stairs that lead to the basement. And to Zitty's litter box. And to Lillie's outdoor access.

I'm starting to think the hamster ball isn't such a bad idea after all...

*For those of you lucky not fortunate enough to get the reference, Nu Nu is the vacuum cleaner on Teletubbies.