Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sibling Rivalry

Now that schools are out, I begin watching my three nieces all day Tuesday while my sister works. They are nice girls and fun to be with... except when sibling rivalry rears its unruly head. It usually involves the oldest girl vs. the two younger girls. She likes to boss them around, and they don't appreciate it. She can be relentless when she starts picking on them. Sometimes it descends to physical violence. Punching, poking, pinching... and a lot of yelling and crying.

People tell me this is normal. It may be normal, but it drives me nuts! I have never had children of my own so I haven't had to deal with this before. They can be reasonable when I sit them down and talk to them... but when tempers flare, all bets are off. It escalates quickly and intervention seems futile.

Any suggestions?

Friday, May 29, 2009

My Neighborhood

Good morning! Well, I am feeling better today. It's clear and cool outside. I am going to take myself for a walk. This is where I will go. There is a horse farm next door to our neighborhood. Isn't it a nice sight?

When we moved here three years ago, we could hear cows from a farm down the road. Since then, they have built more houses on that land. We live in an area that is being quickly developed. When we finally retire, I would like to find a place free from development. Do you think such a place still exists?

I'm thinking of a village where development was finished long ago, where it's quiet and there are big, old trees. Where you can walk to little shops and cafes. I know there must still be places like that. I wish someone would tell me where they are.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

On the Mend

I am happy to report I am feeling much better. My husband practically carried me into the doctor's office. They gave me a mighty injection of antibiotics. That was Tuesday. It's hard to believe, but I felt better within an hour.

I'm still resting and taking meds, but Wednesday I got out of bed. I even cooked dinner. It felt good to be functioning again. Today it was a real treat just to ride in the car with my husband to Wendy's for a Frosty. Just down the road, past a horse farm, past Don, Jr.'s garage, to Wendy's. It was nice to get outside and breathe some fresh air!

It seems that I occasionally need to be reminded of how good it is just to be able to get up in the morning and do things. When I was twelve years old I had rheumatic fever and had to stay in bed for six weeks. I remember how difficult it was to watch the other kids running around and playing and having fun. I thought if I could just be normal again, I would appreciate it every day. Now, every once in a while I get a reminder of what it's like not to be able to go about my normal daily life. It always makes me appreciate having good health all over again.

Thanks to my friends who left "get well" wishes here. It lifts my spirits to hear from you.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

An Impatient Patient

I've had a fever off and on for a week or so. I have had blood tests, urinalysis, a chest x-ray and a visit with a hematologist/oncologist. Yesterday, I had a fever of 103 degrees again. We called the doctor and he had me come in for an antibiotic injection. He says my tests indicate a kidney infection.

When I got out of bed to go to the doctor, I thought I was going to collapse. I walked unsteadily as my husband held me up. By the time I got home after the shot, I felt remarkably better. Now I have to take antibiotics by mouth for ten days and rest. My doctor had initially ordered an echocardiogram to rule out endocarditis, but he cancelled it after he found the kidney infection. I am hoping the kidney infection clears up and that will be the end of it. I just want to get back to my normal, crazy, hectic, boring life!

Friday, May 22, 2009


I've been reading a book called "Happier" by Tal Ben-Shahar. He teaches a course in happiness at Harvard. It contains some very practical suggestions... nothing too "pie-in-the-sky" or mystic or anything.

One suggestion is to just write down the things that you love/want/need to be happy. Here is my list:

to be near an ocean
collecting shells
drinking wine with friends
a private pool to just float in
a cool, shady spot when it's hot
a roaring fireplace when it's cold
a lanai
a "Randee/Darla"

I have to explain the last one. When I was in junior high and high school, my best friend was Darla. She was outgoing; I was shy. She was confident; I was not. She initiated things, and included me in them. I would not have had half the fun I had in those years if it had not been for Darla.

When I lived in Philadelphia, my "Darla" was Randee. She is outgoing and loves to have fun and take others along with her. She is the best friend a person could have. We could talk for hours. We went on adventures together. She initiated trips, parties, get-togethers, and I went along and enjoyed life. I miss her. I don't have a Randee here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Doctors, Doctors, Doctors...

I sure have been seeing a lot of doctors recently. Fortunately, mine are more pleasant than the guy in the photo.

My fever has gone away and I feel fine now. But now we are trying to find out why the fever keeps coming back. Today I gave them a lot of blood to test. I hope to have answers by the end of the week.

By the way, my sister had her surgery, a lumpectomy was enough, and no cancer found in any lymph nodes. She is at home and feeling well.

I hate to talk about all these health issues, but that's what is on my mind at the moment. I promise not to keep it up!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mystery Illness... Again!

I haven't been very active this weekend. Yesterday, I started to feel chilled. Then I started shaking. I piled on the sweaters and socks. I took my temp, and it was 103.2. My sister, the doctor was worried and said to start taking Tylenol. Then my face turned red and my chills turned to being too hot. This went on all day... alternating between hot and cold.

I took my temp again several hours later and it was down to 102.3. My sister was still worried. I went to bed and took more Tylenol. I slept well last night, alternating tossing covers off and adding more covers on. I was having crazy, weird dreams all night. This morning my temp was down to 101.2. "Still too high" my sister said. This afternoon I got the chills and the shaking again. The shaking was crazy! I needed help to drink a glass of orange juice!

Well, now it is 3 p.m. and I feel well enogh to sit up. I have no idea what this is. It's really aggravating because it's been a beautiful weekend and I haven't been out the door. Now I am watching President Obama speaking at Notre Dam. It's very emotional. Actually, I am holding my breath for him.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Oh Dear!

Yesterday, as promised, I took my sister's dog to the vet to have a micro-chip implanted. My sister had suggested this as a birthday gift for her husband. He wanted it done before their next camping trip, and hadn't had the time to go.
My three nieces were coming with me so they could be in on the surprise.

First, I picked them up from school. We had an hour before the vet appointment so they worked on making birthday cards for their dad. They did a good job. They cut out shapes, drew pictures, colored, and wrote lovely birthday greetings on their cards.
Sarah, the oldest, decided she wanted to put Sammy's paw print on her card. She told me she was going to dip Sammy's paw in blue paint then place it on the card. I told her no, it would be a big mess. She, a very determined almost twelve-year old, wouldn't give up; she said she would wash it right off. I told her it might not be good for Sammy, as the paint could be toxic. She insisted it was non-toxic. I said we would ask the vet.

That was my first and last mistake. I hoped she would forget all about it after the trip to the vet. Well, she didn't. She remembered to take the paint to the vet and ask about it. The vet said it wouldn't hurt Sammy. I told her when we got home to wait for me to help, so I could supervise the whole thing. I planned to take Sammy into the basement bathroom, do the print, and wash it off immediately. Sarah, on the other hand, thought she didn't need my help. I came down the stairs to witness Sarah and Sammy in the middle of the CARPETED rec room, placing a blue paw on paper. I saw the paw print smear all over the paper, as there was WAY too much paint on it. Then I saw Sammy break loose and scamper all around the room, leaving BLUE paw prints all over the carpet.

Suddenly Sarah looked very small and very sheepish. The other two girls heard the panic in our voices and came running. They took Sammy outside and washed her off with the hose. I went looking for cleaning rags. All three of us sat on the floor and scrubbed, producing a pile of wet, blue-tinted rags. I think we got most of the paint up. The spots still looked wet, so we couldn't really tell until it dried. Their dad is a perfectionist and very house-proud. We knew he would be apoplectic if he noticed. So we left the basement to let the carpet dry. I told my sister about it later, and she just laughed!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fun with Nieces and Puppy

My three nieces' last day of school is next Thursday. Next week, they have a series of field trips. This week, they have a different theme every day. Monday was "Hawaii day". They wore grass skirts (over their jeans) and leis around their necks. They also had flowers in their hair and wore flower bracelets. Yesterday was "wacky hair day". I wish I could have taken photos of them, but their dad picked them up from school yesterday.

Today is "backwards day". They are supposed to wear their clothes backwards. Not sure how they are going to accomplish that!
Thank heaven they are not having "inside out" day and have to wear their underwear on the outside!

Tomorrow is "hippie day". Since I am old enough to remember real hippies, I helped them find hippie clothes. I took a bag full of hippie clothes over to them yesterday after school. They were really excited! They pulled everything out of the bag, each one choosing her favorite. I brought some leather lace and told them to tie it around their heads like a headband. Aubrey said, "sure, I already know about that". Not sure where she learned it!

Since both of their parents are working this week, I have been helping them get ready for some of these days. It's fun for the kids, but I don't know how parents find the time to put all this stuff together!

Tomorrow is their dad, Todd's birthday. My sister suggested he wanted to have their puppy Sammy micro-chipped, but hadn't had time to do it yet. So, for his birthday I am taking Sammy to the vet today to be micro-chipped. I will pick up the girls from school, then we will go home to get Sammy and take her in together. I thought they would have fun being in on the surprise for their dad. (It sounds like Sammy has a boy's name, but it's actually short for Samantha; the girls' names are Sarah, Aubrey and Molly, so together they are SAM. It comes from that.)

That's all my "auntly" fun for this week. In two weeks I will have them all day every Tuesday, so I will have to think of a lot more adventures to have with them.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day Family Gathering

Parker, the youngest member of the family:

Parker, and his mom Erin:

Parker's brother Jackson:

Molly and Jackson driving the Jeep:

My sister Anne, and her daughter Aubrey:

Aubrey just got her summer haircut:

The oldest member of the family, Grandpa Dave, playing with Jackson:

We are pretty sure Jackson is going to be an engineer:

Erin with my mom, who is married to Grandpa Dave:

Mom, with her gift from Jackson (he painted it):

My sister Theresa, with her gift from Emma, who painted it (Emma is Parker and Jackson's big sister... she was outside playing):

This is Sarah, practicing to get her driver's license four years from now:

As you can see, it was a beautiful day, and we all had a happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tomorrow is Mother's Day

Next Monday my sister will have surgery for breast cancer. Not the sister with the three little girls, but my older sister, the one whose daughter has three little ones of her own. The photo shows my sister on the right, with her daughter Erin, who is my oldest niece. Tomorrow we are all getting together at Erin's house for Mother's Day. My mom will be there, and two of my sisters, and all of my nieces, one great-niece and two little great-nephews.

I wonder how my sister will be feeling as she thinks about having surgery the next day. I imagine we will be talking about it, as my youngest sister, a physician, will be there. So far in my life, I have never had anyone close to me who went through this, with the chemotherapy and everything in the months to come. It will be an emotional time, I am sure. It makes me think about a time when we were the younger generation and all the things that come with age seemed unlikely to ever affect us. Now we becoming the older generation, and the things that come with age are upon us. I think about that when I see all the little ones running around. We used to be those little ones.

Anyway, Happy Mother's Day tomorrow. It did my heart good to go to the store today and see all the men with their children, buying flowers and cards for the moms.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Cheering Myself Up... well, I tried.

This morning I was blue. This picture of Tinkerbell says it well. It looks like she is saying "I just can't face it anymore".

So, I browsed through some of my old photos to find images that would cheer me up.
I found this one of my youngest niece, smiling in the sunshine:

And this one with Molly and Sammy... I like the action in it. They make quite a team, I think:

And I always love to see my kitties snuggling together:

And a fairy princess to sprinkle a little fairy dust over everything:

I feel a little better now.

Update on Saturday, May 9th:
p.s. I would feel even better if someone would leave me a comment. I hate seeing that big old zero down there, it makes me feel like a big old "zero". I guess I'm not artistic enough or funny enough. And I'm not a "mommy" either. And one of my sisters was just diagnosed with breast cancer.

Geez! I didn't get very cheered up after all, did I?

Monday, May 4, 2009


As we drove toward Palm Springs, we passed by these fields of windmills. (Or wind turbines... not sure which to call them, but in either case they fascinate me). They seem to go on and on and on. It is impossible to capture them in one photo, because they go on for miles, and in some places as far as the eye can see. My husband says they look like something out of Star Wars. They do look very futuristic.

A Midwesterner in California

This is where we have been for the past week... in Indian Wells, California.

I enjoyed the clear, blue skies, eighty degree weather and no humidity.
Also, I couldn't help wondering:
1. Where did all these palm trees come from? Are they native here, or have they all been brought in and planted like the ones in the Winter Garden in New York City?
2. I thought this area was in the desert. Where do they get all the water for golf courses, pools, and waterfalls? Every hotel and restaurant we visited had waterfalls on the grounds.

We swam, we spa'd, we drank mai-tais by the pool. Alas, no umbrellas in the drinks though. (Where did we think we were? Hawaii?).

Both my husband's and his daughter's birthdays are in April, so we were celebrating. His daughter, son-in-law and their four-year old daughter drove down from Sunnyvale and met us there. Daughter and granddaughter below, faces alight with vacation smiles:

Granddaughter and I had a lot of fun in and around the pool while the golfers golfed. She was in a good mood... can you tell?

They even had a little sand beach at one end of the pool. We built a sand castle with a moat, and elephants marching around it!

One night, we had spaghetti:

She had dessert (one of the perks of being four years old!).

We toured some examples of mid-century style in Palm Springs. We learned that almost all of the homes here are vacation homes, not full-time homes. We saw more Mercedes', BMWs, and Bentleys than I have ever seen before. We had rented a convertible and had fun riding in it, but we realized that no one else here has convertibles... I guess it's just too hot. So, we rode around with the top down and the a/c running.

Here I am, standing in front of an old gas station that they've turned into a visitor center. It has a famously pitched roofline.

A fun vacation!