Jenster's Musings

Friday, May 30, 2008

Two Down, One to Go

Apparently I'm back from hiatus. Does ten days qualify as a hiatus? And is it just me, or do you guys think of a hiatal hernia when you see the word "hiatus"? Just me? Hm.

Anyway, today was the final touch up on my tattoos. Happy I am that's over because it means my reconstruction is officially complete! I see the plastic surgeon in July - I think. Could be June. I'm not sure. Guess I'd better check on that. - for the final word and then I will be released. Which I suppose means I have to be happy with the results.

"Happy" isn't exactly the word I would use. "Resigned" maybe? No. That's almost too harsh. Oh, I don't know what the proper adjective would be. All I know is, while the results aren't what I had imagined, they're not so bad and I'm okay with them. And really, the issues I have with the girls are private matters now that I'm not taking my shirt off to every person in a lab coat. Meaning most people will never see what the problems are.

Speaking of people in lab coats, I wonder what my last appointment will be like. I'm used to seeing the plastic surgeon with a felt tip marker in one hand, a camera in the other and a plethora of students behind him.

Not only did I have the touch ups today, I also had my second round of laser hair removal under my arms. I was cursing myself (in my curse language which is usually something like, "Dangit, Jen! You're such a bonehead!" - I'm such a potty mouth) because I forgot to take some ibuprofen before the appointment. I also cursed my lack of leather accessories because it left me with nothing to chomp down on. I figured my Crocs would taste like rubber and that's just icky.

So I'm laying back in the chair, left arm up over my head and eyes shut tight behind metal goggles, anxiously wondering when she's going to zap me. You know how they say you don't remember pain? What a crock! I had no trouble remembering the sizzling, smelly snap each time a hair follicle was obliterated and I wasn't looking forward to it today. So I kept trying to picture gloriously hair-free underarms in an effort to convince myself the pain was worth it.

Turns out the first treatment was such a success that there wasn't even half the zapping going on today. Oh, some of them hurt pretty bad. They liken it to a rubber band snap, but I liken the worst zaps to being vigorously poked with an extremely hot needle. Last time she put ice packs under my arms afterwards. This time they weren't needed.

I go back for my last laser treatment on June 30th. Hopefully that will be the end of it and I'll never ever ever have another unwanted underarm hair for as long as I live. If only I had the money and the pain tolerance to do my legs and bikini area. Looks like I won't be throwing away my razors any time soon.


Mused by Jenster :: 6:10 PM :: 14 People musing:

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

The End of a Season

I am officially no longer an assistant preschool teacher. As I've said many times, my gifts lie elsewhere very far away from child care or teaching young children. Now that doesn't mean I don't love them and two to three-year-olds are pretty adorable. When they're being adorable. And frankly, even when they're not being adorable they're still pretty dang cute. Exasperating, but cute.

I haven't quite decided which is the appropriate emotion - relief, excitement or melancholy.

My physical self is relieved the year is over. It seems I've had a lingering cold since somewhere around September and I'd like to get rid of it. I'm not sure how many noses I wiped just this morning, but on the playground I had a pocket full of snot. Please don't whine about the disgusting nature of that comment. You're not the one who had a huge bulge from countless AND FULL kleenex. I still think it was a good workout for my immune system, though. Now I just need to give it a little rest and Presto! I should be as good as new. That's the plan, anyway.

The rusty knees are relieved, also. There were several times when two of my personalities argued with each other regarding whether or not I should get down on the floor. The 42-year-old-woman-trapped-in-a-90-year-old's-body was always quick to gripe about how getting down wasn't the problem, getting up was. The 4-year-old-trapped-in-a-42-year-old's body really wanted to play with the cars or build blocks or have a tea party on the floor. Assuming I had adequate amounts of coffee that morning, the 4-year-old usually won. Unfortunately the 42-year-old would end up hobbling for the rest of the afternoon.

I am excited about my "new" job. I say "new" not only because I have finally accepted it as my calling, but also because I have several projects on the horizon. Which is probably because I've finally accepted it as my calling. (More on those projects in the near future) And just like I had a schedule to follow for preschool, I'm going to schedule time for my writing. I know for a fact it's the only way I'll ever get anything accomplished.

But mostly today I have felt melancholy. What an incredible privilege it's been to help nurture these kids for the past nine months. The differences in their behaviors, their speech, their counting, their singing, their fine motor skills, etc., has been amazing. Because some of them had just barely turned two when school started circle time was chaotic at best. But eventually they all learned the routine, listened to the stories and sang the songs.

I know I've mentioned this before, but our class had some unique challenges. When I subbed in the MWF class certain things were easier because they didn't have those challenges. But it seems as though that difference is what made the Tuesday/Thursday class so special to me.

The best part about working at a preschool is the love that grows between the teacher (or her assistant) and the kids. I could easily pick up every one of my kiddos right now and squeeze them and munch on them. But the problem with that attachment is it's only for a season. A very short season. Thankfully I go to church with a lot of the kids so hopefully I'll still get to see them.

Oh, and I didn't even get into the darling mothers. Such sweet young women! They so often reminded me of what it was like when my kids were in preschool and the friendships I had with some of the other mothers at that time. *sigh* That was easily one of the very best seasons of my life. And these young moms were so good to make me feel appreciated. If they only knew how inadequate I am as a preschool worker! But they puffed me up nonetheless and several of them told me they had hoped I'd move up and be with their kids again next year. But I do know the teachers for next year and those moms are going to be thrilled!

Then there's Beth, the teacher I assisted. I had briefly met her at a birthday party last summer, but really didn't know her at all when I started. What a delight she was! My melancholy is also due to the fact that she's moving to Ohio next week. OHIO! That's not a "let's meet for lunch" kinda distance. I think of her as a kindred spirit - or at least someone with the same sense of humor as me. We knew all the same songs and movies and old TV shows and quoted or sung them often. She was very easy to assist and we fell into a good working routine. I will definitely miss her.

The rest of the staff is pretty incredible, too. Our director, Kelly, started this preschool and what a phenomenal job she's done. I would say Providence Christian Preschool was a major success in only one school year. She's so good at what she does that she's no longer the preschool director. No, now she's in charge of the entire children's department at the church (which includes the preschool). I can tell that her successor, Leanne, is going to do a fantastic job as well. Them I won't miss much because I see them all the time anyway.

Even though preschool is over, I'm not quite done. As I said above, I'm no longer an assistant preschool teacher, but I will be working next week and two weeks after that. Our preschool is doing three different week long camps and I'm working at two of them. I was only going to work at the last camp - Space Camp - but one of the women who was going to work the first camp - Dinosaur Camp - can't be here next week. So I was asked to fill in for her.

"No problem", I said. And I meant it. Of course it never occurred to me that she's an excellent teacher and no doubt would be doing something teachy and not merely "babysitting". Turns out I'll be doing the Activity Center and had to make up a lesson plan and everything! I was a little freaked out by that at first, but once I got into it I had fun planning the week. I have a feeling I'll be freaked out again on Monday. And Tuesday. Probably Wednesday. Possibly Thursday. I think I'll have the hang of it by Friday.

So while preschool is technically over, I still have a paying job until June 20th. Then this season will be over and a new one will be starting. I wonder if it will ever be as fulfilling as this past school year was.


Mused by Jenster :: 2:51 PM :: 13 People musing:

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Monday, May 26, 2008


I'm not back to stay, but seeing as today was a holiday I decided to tell you about my weekend. I have checked a few things off the list, though I still have quite a bit left. Still, I probably will be hanging around a little bit more. (Thanks to those of you who sent me such nice emails and made me want to say, "You like me. You really like me.")

Katie and I left the house at 5:30 Thursday morning to drive to Hilton Head, South Carolina for Ben's wedding. As you see, there was an obvious lack of male influence. Let's just say Taylor couldn't afford to miss two days of school and leave it at that. So it was a girls' road trip. The car was stocked with all kinds of consumables in the event we found ourselves faint for lack of sustenance. We had cheese and crackers and frosted animal cookies and candy and water and Starbuck's bottled frappuccinos… We also wanted to see if we could go through my entire iPod song list of 499 songs.

I don't think we were even through Philadelphia when I thought about my new camera nestled with care in my new camera case and the beautiful pictures I was going to be able to take on our trip. Unfortunately, it was still sitting on the dining room table where I had packed it all away the day before. Katie forgot her camera, too. You must know how sad this made me. There was a split second when I considered turning around, but good sense won out.

The trip down was pretty uneventful. Good weather, bad traffic through Baltimore and DC, but after that it was smooth sailing. We did get to see the Washington Monument and the Capitol dome from the freeway so that was kind of exciting. [Insert imaginary photo.]

While there are Cracker Barrels here in PA, there isn't one very close to us. That's as Arkansan as Sonic so I treated Katie to lunch at a CB in Virginia. When we hit North Carolina we started seeing these big billboards – tons of them - for Pedro's South of the Border. They touted restaurants, mini-golf, convenience store, gift shop, leather goods, hotel, petting zoo, and every other type of roadside tourist trap imaginable. [*Mom & Dad – kind of like "The Thing" on I-10*] As soon as we passed into South Carolina there it was. Pedro's South of the Border. Funny stuff! [Insert imaginary photo.]

I-95 through South Carolina looks a lot like Arkansas. A couple of times I forgot where I was. Finally we turned off and headed for the island. We made it to the hotel between 7:30 and 8:00. After unloading the car we went looking for dinner. The hotel had a pool and also a pond. Katie said something about being afraid of alligators and I just sort of blew her off. Especially when she started looking up at the trees looking for tree-climbing-ninja-gators.

We finally landed at a restaurant called "Skillets" with an Elvis impersonator crooning to the outdoor diners. The waiter talked us into ordering an appetizer of fried green tomatoes – Katie's first – and they were delicious! Served over Creole marinara with bubbly melted mozzarella on top. The best fried green tomatoes I've ever had! She ordered shepherd's pie and I had a chicken stir fry. [Insert imaginary photo.]

Friday morning we woke up when we woke up, showered, dressed, and ate breakfast at the complimentary breakfast bar. That's where we found out there were a bunch of college kids from Ohio staying at the same place. It wasn't until later that night when we found out they were a bunch of obnoxious college kids from Ohio, but I'm not to that part yet.

We spent the late morning and early afternoon exploring the island and finding great places to shop. Neither Katie nor I could get the thought of those extraordinary fried green tomatoes out of our heads. So we went back to Skillets for lunch. Unfortunately our cravings weren't quenched because the appetizers weren't on the lunch menu. No complaining about the food, though. I had the vegetable crepes – crepes with a wonderful egg, cheese and spinach filling – and rosemary skillet potatoes. Katie had the shepherd's pie again.

While walking around the shopping center after lunch we ran into some friends from church, Kevin and Terri. We chatted with them for a little bit and they mentioned the alligator in the hotel pond. THE ALLIGATOR IN THE HOTEL POND! You know, the "alligator" that Katie was freaked out about? The one I told her didn't exist? Yeah. That one. Apparently it did exist.

Katie and I decided to get some disposable cameras and what better place to make that kind of purchase than the local Piggly Wiggly? Besides, she'd never been in a Piggly Wiggly before and I feel like one should have that experience when the opportunity arises. Because how much fun is it to say, "I went to the Piggly Wiggly"?

After that we walked across the street to the beach to see the ocean and then back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding later that evening. The wedding was simply beautiful. Vans shuttled us to the beach house where the wedding and reception were to take place. The ceremony was under a flower laden arbor on the beach with a cellist and violinist accompanying. I was snapping pictures with our Piggly Wiggly disposable cameras and chatting with Terri and Kevin and Mandy and Alex and Amanda, not paying any attention to the noise the film advancing mechanism made. Until the wedding started and everyone stopped talking. Then I had Terri cough or Katie sneeze to mask the sound or I just advanced it one tiny click at a time. And it made us giggle.

Our former youth minister, Matt Silver (he and his family moved to Maryland a few weeks ago), officiated and it was great to see him. Another transplanted friend, Leland, was in the wedding so it was fun to see him, too. All the CCV people sat at the same table for the reception and had a blast! The DJ knew all the right songs to play and we had a great time cutting the rug and just having fun. Ben and Katie (his Katie, not mine) sure know how to entertain!

Remember those Ohio college kids I mentioned earlier? The hotel was infested with them. And while I hate generalizations and would never say they were all horrible - I'm sure there were some nice, unhorrible students there - there were a lot of rude, obnoxious and over-indulgent kids there. And apparently 2:30 to 4:00 in the morning is the best time for playing frisbee, drinking beer and catching up on the day's events in the hotel hallway.

Saturday morning Katie and I got up and drove to Savannah with the express intention of eating at The Lady and Sons, Paula Dean's restaurant. Sadly, they were full for both lunch and dinner so we only saw the outside. Not a huge deal, though. We just have to go back, that's all. We ended up eating cheesy hot spinach dip and cheese pizza at a place on the Riverfront called Spanky's.

We really wanted to get a picture of the statue in the movie, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil", but it turns out it's in a museum. We'd even considered going to the museum but we ran out of time. We did go on a house tour, though. [Insert imaginary picture] The house of the people who own the statue, actually. Savannah is a beautiful city – very Pirates of the Caribbeanish. There are "squares" every few blocks which are wonderful when you've been walking a lot. Katie and I would figure out where we were going to go next and then walk from square to square, resting on a park bench before moving onto the next one. It was a pretty warm day so our last stop was at a Starbuck's for some sort of frozen concoction. Just as we were leaving to get back to the car only a few blocks away there was a sudden flash of lightening and a loud boom immediately following. The rain hadn't started yet so we high tailed it for the parking lot. Half way there it started to sprinkle with more flashes and more booms. And then the sky opened up about a block from the car. I yelled, "Run!", which Katie took literally. Unfortunately I'm not much of a runner so I told her, "Save yourself!" Except for that I didn't unlock the car until I got right there. We scrambled inside, laughing the whole time, and realized there was hail mixed in with the rain. Once it slowed down we left and drove back to Hilton Head.

Hungry for dinner when we returned, can you guess where we ate? Skillets!! Can you guess what we had for an appetizer? Fried green tomatoes!! Can you guess what Katie had for dinner? Shepherd's pie!! So sad that we only ate at one restaurant the entire time we were on the island. But oh so good!

Sunday morning we woke up at 5:00, got dressed, packed the car and were on the road by 5:30. The ride home was even more uneventful than the ride there. Except the GPS took us THROUGH Washington instead of around it. That took us forever! But we did get to see the Pentagon and the Jefferson monument this time.

We pulled into the garage about 6:30. I soaked in a hot bubble bath and read a little bit, then went to bed around 9:00. The trip was a lot of fun – Katie and I ate well and laughed a lot – but it sure was good to be home and sleep in my own bed.

Over the long weekend we were in 7 states and the District of Columbia. I've decided my next writing will be Jenster's Guide to Highway/Interstate Driving.

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Mused by Jenster :: 9:36 PM :: 15 People musing:

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Taking a Break

sorry closed

I've decided I have too many irons in the fire and not enough hired help. There's the spring cleaning, end of school year activities and a few writing projects. Never mind the usual stuff -- cooking, laundry, work, etc. - that I never seem to be caught up on.

Maybe if I didn't spend quite as much time on the computer I'd get some things done. So I'm closing up shop for an indefinite period of time. If I know me like I think I do (and I do) it won't be a long hiatus. Just long enough to check some tasks off my list.

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Mused by Jenster :: 6:02 PM :: 21 People musing:

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Monday, May 12, 2008

The Most Incredible Mother's Day


Yesterday was an odd, yet wonderful Mother's Day. It ranks right up there as one of, if not my favorite Mother's Days ever. Another high ranking Mother's Day was when the kids were small. It was a chilly, rainy day and when we came home from church Todd and the kids went to take naps. I laid on the couch and watched my gift of Breakfast at Tiffany's all by myself. Then I dozed off and when we all woke up we had a nice dinner. But yesterday Todd, Taylor, Katie and I walked the Philadelphia Race for the Cure with three other families. Thankfully my prayers were answered and my cold never turned into much of anything.


I'm going to give this post a PG-13 rating. There were a couple times I forgot where I was and thought I was in the Big Easy. I kept waiting for beads to be thrown! Well, maybe it wasn't quite like that. But you'll see what I'm talking about.


We had to get up at five-bloody-o'clock in the morning. Not such a great start to Mother's Day when you're the least morning person you know. We met our friends at the movie theater and then caravanned into the city. Mario Andretti led the pack and had scoped out a cherry parking place. And let me tell you - good parking places in the city the morning of the Race are hot commodities. So yeah - we're definitely taking him with us next year.

The term "5K" is a bit misleading in my opinion. Maybe if you get dropped off right at the starting line and picked up right at the finish line. But when you factor in walking from the car to the race area, walking from wherever you are to the starting line, mulling around after the race and then finally, walking to your car you're talking more like a 8.64K. But I guess that doesn't sound good so we'll stay with the 5K.

We set out walking for the "staging area" and passed a car being towed.

I'm not sure why I thought it was blog-worthy, but I did. So there it is.

After walking about a mile (according to Mapquest) we got to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

I left my party and crossed the street to venture up the Rocky steps for the Survivor's Parade. According to the announcer there were roughly 6,000 survivors. I don't believe there were that many on the steps, but that's how many had registered for the walk.

Todd's perspective:

Me hanging out before the parade:

My perspective:

Before the Parade:

The Art Museum flag at half mast in respect for the fallen Philadelphia police officer, Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski:

The parade begins:

The crowd watching and cheering:

I had one of Todd's hankies in my pocket because I was a little concerned about the emotion of it all. While I did get a little misty, I didn't end up a blubbering mass. It was all kind of surreal. Maybe it was the early hour or maybe the lack of coffee. But it was almost like I was watching it -- not a part of it. And yet at the same time it was incredible to be a part of it.

Making my way through the crowd to the big statue where my party was waiting I came across this interesting statement:

For a confusing second I forgot where I was. Bourbon Street or Benjamin Franklin Parkway...

A Philadelphia bakery made this special cake. Wish I would have gotten a piece. Wonder what kind it was.

Here's a guy's t-shirt admired greatly by Todd

And these great bags for sale on the parkway

Finally it was time to make our way over to the starting line. Random pictures of the race:

At this point we needed to find a restroom. The only port-a-potty we saw was for a construction site behind an 8 foot gate. And then we saw this:

It was as though the clouds parted and heavenly rays guided our paths. Some in the group were thinking, Yea! A bathroom!! I was thinking, Bitchen! A venti White Chocolate Mocha with double whip to go!

The Starbuck's was in the lobby of luxury condominiums which meant restrooms. Unfortunately, several other people had beat us to them. I'm not sure who thought of it, but the girls in our group ended up going in an Irish bar - Tir Na Nog - not yet opened for business.

The best part was the bathrooms were clean!!

I skipped the refreshment and we continued on. Just sixteen people among the masses.

Somewhere along the line I met a man who was a breast cancer survivor. He was the only man in pink I saw, but there may have been others. Funny thing is his wife is an 8th grade science teacher at the school Katie will go to next year. Even funnier thing is his dad used to be a minister at a church in Redondo Beach - where I grew up. Small world.

After about 2 miles or so we saw a sign indicating we'd walked 1 mile. *sigh* So we kept going. And going. Then we passed the 2 mile sign. So we still kept going. And going. As we crossed the bridge to get back to the Art Museum I snapped a couple of my favorite Philly scenes.

Philadelphia Water Works:

Boathouse Row:

And can I just say this kid had it made!

Finally we finished the race! The local news estimated about 45,000 people doing the race with a total of 100,000 people in the area to support the race in one way or another. That's alotta people!

Two of the families had to leave for Mother's Day lunches with family. That left eight of us to find a place to eat. Originally we had thought to drive back toward home, but as we crossed the freeway we saw the cars were bumper to bumper. So we decided we should eat in the city.

We checked TGIFridays as we were walking by and oh happy day! They had just opened and were able to seat us right away. But that's not the best part. No. The best part was when Alex ordered a raspberry tea and I thought that sounded good so I ordered a raspberry tea. In fact, I think I ordered like this:

I'll have a raspberryteaand... um, parmesan-crusted chicken.

So when the waitress brought us our drinks I noticed my raspberry tea didn't look at all like Alex's raspberry tea. Turns out she thought I said raspberrytini. And because of the kind-hearted soul that I am, I didn't want to make more work for the staff by sending it back and having them bring me a tea. It was quite tasty, though I only drank about half of it.

The other mom, Tina (and the organizer of our team), and I were given a carnation and a yummy little mint chocolate shot glass dessert that tasted like a Girl Scout Thin Mint. After lunch it was a walk around the corner to get the cars. Following a couple failed attempts at finding a decent paced freeway we finally got on the road home. The kids immediately fell asleep. Todd tried to, but he was driving and he thought better of it.

We were so incredibly exhausted by the time we got home. Todd and I both got in a little cat nap here, a little cat nap there, but nothing worthy of being called a true nap. At about 8:00 I went upstairs and hopped into a hot bubble bath. Ahhhh... It was divine. When I woke up (I know, I know. You're never supposed to fall asleep in a bath tub, but I did.) I got out, dried off, threw on jammies and went to bed. And slept the sleep of the dead. Except Todd said I snored all night and I don't think the sleeping dead snore. I blame that on a mix of complete exhaustion and the sinus stuff I've been trying to get, though I don't think I'm getting it anymore.

So that, in a very large coconut shell, was my Mother's Day. Hope all you moms out there enjoyed yours even half as much!

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Mused by Jenster :: 10:11 AM :: 18 People musing:

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

My Week in Arkansas, Part 3

**My ears are all plugged up and I've got that nasty, post nasal drip thing going on. Tomorrow is the Philadelphia Race for the Cure and my first time to walk since both my mom and myself were diagnosed with breast cancer. Which means it's my first time to do the Survivor Parade down the Rocky Steps (the Philadelphia Art Museum). I'm telling you right now, if I end up missing it AGAIN because I'm sick I will cry. Not just a little boo-hoo, but body wracking sobs. The kind that makes your eyes-a-ruddin' and gives you the hooty puckers. But I don't think it will come to that. Well, actually it may come to that just from the sheer emotion of it all. But not 'cause I missed it. I'll keep you posted.**

And now for the exciting conclusion to My Week In Arkansas. No doubt you've lost sleep from the anticipation.

Will our heroine finish the dining area? Will the living room be completed on time? Will the beautiful and sweet youngest sister fall prey to the scheming manipulations of her mean and jealous sisters? And if so, will anybody save her?

Not to worry, gentle readers. Today's installment will answer all your questions.

Sunday, April 27:

We all went to church with the folks. The last time we were all in the same church at the same time was five years ago so it was nice to worship together. Katie's second grade teacher goes to that church so I got to visit with her for a little bit. She finds it hard to believe Katie is in 7th grade and isn't always sweet.

*You know how when your kids' teachers tell you how sweet and well behaved they are and what a pleasure they are, yadda, yadda, yadda. Do you enjoy hearing it, but in the back of your head you're thinking they're only telling you that because they know you want to hear it and in reality your kid is a brat? No? It's just me??*

After church we went for lunch at The Cracker Barrel. When I lived in Arkansas I used to regularly meet a good friend of mine there for breakfast. Most of those breakfasts with Wilma turned into lunches. She and her husband, Ray, are very special to our family and I think of her as my spiritual mentor. They're about the same age as my folks and they all enjoy each others company so when I half-jokingly said the night before that I didn't feel right about going to Cracker Barrel without Wilma Mom said to invite her and Ray. So they met us there and we had a great visit and the food wasn't bad, either.

Finally it was time to get back to the house and pick up where we'd left off. We got about four hours or so of work done Sunday. And we had, of course, ice cream for dessert.

Note to Terri - Yes, we did comment on the lack of paint fumes, but that's the way they work. They mess with your brain so you can't smell them. Really.

Monday, April 28:

We pretty much jumped right into work on Monday. It was our last day to get everything finished so we didn't waste any time. The dining area, the hall and the entryway were completely done which left the living room. Shelli and I worked in there while Terri did all the running around, straightening, hanging up stuff and those little things you don't think about but take up a lot of time.

The painting finally got done, curtains were hanged, switch plates replaced, furniture moved back... And this is what we have to show for it:

The dining room:

The living room:

And Terri's handiwork over the kitchen cabinets:

All our work paid off and everything looked fresher, cleaner and quite nice, if I do say so myself. Which I do. And my mom wanted me to say that she's very glad we didn't keep the wallpaper. She was pretty worried for a day or two when she saw what a mess I'd made of the walls, but it all turned out okay in the end.

After days of hard labor we decided to celebrate. So we had ice cream.

Tuesday, April 29:

I'm pretty sure Terri and Michele felt the same way I did Tuesday morning. Excited to be getting home and sad at having to leave. We had flights out of the Little Rock airport close to the same time so Mom and Dad dropped us off together. After we made it through security we went to Starbuck's for breakfast while we waited for our planes. That was nice, too. Again, the last time it had just been the three of us together (except for when we drove to Baskin Robbins) was when I was having those scans almost three years earlier.

Neither Terri nor Michele abused me much, if at all. Or else I'm so used to it I didn't notice. I think, however, it's because there is power in the written word and they knew I'd tell on them for all the world to see. Or the five people who read this blog.

All joking aside, I was so happy we managed to coordinate our schedules and do this for Mom and Dad. Not even the painting so much, but just all of us being together. That doesn't happen very often anymore because for one thing we're fairly spread out. But more than that, Terri and Michele have grown children - also spread out and some with families of their own. So it's a bit of a balancing act on their part - who are we going to go see this time. Even if we spent most of the week painting it was just great to be together.

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Mused by Jenster :: 10:46 AM :: 11 People musing:

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Monday, May 05, 2008

My Week In Arkansas, Part Two

I'm not sure what my deal is, but I'm having the hardest time getting the Arkansas trip written. In fact I'm having the hardest time getting anything written. Or done. I think I'll blame the puppy.

When we last parted I was regaling you with my wallpaper faux pas. Let's move past that, okay?

Friday, April 25:

After a stout cup of coffee and cereal, Shelli and I went back to work. She worked on the entryway while I continued to angrily rip gently pull the rest of the wallpaper from the kitchen wall. Mom and Dad went to pick Terri up at the airport and Rhonda showed up to see my mess handiwork. I think I'd finished the removal and had done a bit of Spackling and sanding, preparing the wall for the next step. But I didn't have what I needed for the next step so Rhonda drove me to Lowe's for primer. Used to be when I got in this predicament I would buy some drywall mud and mix it with the paint. That worked pretty good, but it made the wall almost too textured. This day, however, we found wall texture specifically made to mix with paint. So I bought that, a can of primer and voila!!

Terri was at the house when we returned from Lowes. She tried to convince me and Michele that she came to supervise, but two against one trumps the oldest. So Shelli worked on the hallway (the entryway was finished and looked great!), I set out to redeem myself and Terri started taping the eating area.

After I got the textured primer applied I began to relax. It looked pretty much like a regular wall so I knew most likely I was going to get to go home the following Tuesday. Which was a good thing because I was almost getting those little tiny twinges you get when you kinda, sorta miss someone.

Terri did trimming, I did trimming, Shelli did trimming, Terri did taping, I did painting, Shelli did painting, Terri did painting, I did taping, Shelli did more painting. We had four areas to paint and it was nice to have three of us always with something to do.

I wish I had taken notes while I was there like I'd meant to do, but the slave drivers my sisters cracked the whip so I wouldn't have had time to write anything anyway. Since I know somebody will tell on me I'll confess right now that I did take frequent Sudoku breaks. However, they were only to keep my brain sharp against the dulling effects of paint fumes. Anyway, since I didn't keep a paint trip journal I'm a little sketchy on when we finished one project and started another, etc. Not to worry, though. I'm pretty sure Terri or Michele will be perfectly happy to fill in any gaps.

What I know for absolutely positive (because how could I forget) is we had a delicious roast with vegetables and salad for dinner that night. And what roast beast meal would be complete without following up with ice cream later? So the three of us hopped into the folks' car and drove to Baskin Robbins. My sisters had to decide what flavor they wanted while all I wanted was Vanilla. "Boring", you say? Quite the contrary!! Vanilla ice cream, melted chunky peanut butter and chocolate syrup. Now THAT'S delicioso!!

Once again we stayed up too late.

Saturday, April 26:

At the risk of being redundant, we trimmed. And taped. And painted. I believe this was the day we put the finishing touches on the dining area. My parents have cathedral ceilings in the living room and we had to do one side at a time. So I trimmed one of the "triangles" on Saturday.

We couldn't get too into the painting because we had some major celebrating to do. We worked for a couple of few hours and then cleaned up so we could take our parents to dinner for their 55th anniversary. Yup. You read that right. Fifty-five years. We took them to the same restaurant the family went to five years earlier after their 50th anniversary party.

I was driving so instead of going straight home after dinner I took the scenic route past our old house. It's still as cute as ever. *sigh* I miss my wide front porch. And the most beautiful redbud tree I've ever seen still grows in the front.

Comfy jammies, conversation and ice cream completes day four. I'll try not to go so long before the final installment of the My Week in Arkansas chronicles.

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Mused by Jenster :: 7:47 AM :: 13 People musing:

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

My Week In Arkansas, Part One

While I'm not even close to being a linear thinker, I do believe stories are best when started at the beginning. So here it goes.

Wednesday, April 23:

Todd and I stopped at the local Wawa on our way to the Philadelphia airport for gas and coffee. In that order. Gas for the car. Coffee for me. I don't think we'd even made it to the freeway when I'd spilt coffee on my pristine white tee-shirt.

I've only ever flown Delta out of Philly and the Delta terminal is horrible. Old, dirty, nothing good to eat... This time, however, I flew out of the US Airways terminal and it was much better. So much better that I wish I would have foregone the Wawa coffee. Next time I'll know better.

I had a two-and-a-half hour layover in Charlotte, North Carolina. Now that's a nice airport! Just look.

A pretty Wright Brothersesque Biplane.

A really cool clock mobile in the middle of the main terminal

And because Brian Jones (our pastor) hates is such a fan of NASCAR I snapped these shots just for him.

The sign says Charlotte, NC - June 19, 1949: The first NASCAR strictly stock race. Who knew an airport could be so edumacational?

I arrived at the Little Rock airport about 30 minutes before Michele did. By then it was time for dinner so we ate at Ruby Tuesday just a few minutes from my parents' house. We then proceeded to stay up way too late.

Thursday, April 24:

We all woke up. And this would be where things started going downhill. Do you remember the following paragraph when I was talking about removing wallpaper?

Bad idea. It was put directly onto the wallboard except for a few places where they had Spackled something - the spots we tried. So we made three times more work for ourselves than we would have had we just primed the wallpaper first and then painted.
You did remember it? Why didn't you remind me!?!? It was a major case of deja vu, except Rhonda wasn't there to relieve some of the blame! Oh, it all started out okay. In fact it was pretty fun. Pulling off wallpaper and watching it come away without a hitch. And then... and then... I can't even bring myself to say it. Just see for yourselves.

The brown is where the wallboard ripped.

This is where I was sweating profusely, thinking what have I done? Surely they're going to disown me after this! While on the outside I was reassuring them that I knew what I was doing and it would all turn out fine.

My mother even told Todd that if the kitchen wasn't finished the following Tuesday she was taking my ticket and flying to Philly until I got it fixed. I think he was kind of excited because he said, "Great! Then we'll get dinners cooked and a clean house and washed and ironed clothes..." and I can't remember the long list.

In my defense, there was a spider in the garage and Michele drowned it in Raid. But it wasn't just your everyday, average spider. No. Not this one. Take a look:

That's right, folks. It was a bonafied Black Widow. Between the shock of finding a lethal arachnid only a door away from the kitchen and the fumes from the aerosol poison I wasn't thinking clearly and, ergo, the kitchen wallpaper debacle.

** Side note: If you haven't noticed, my talent for procrastination is only superseded by my gift of rationalization. **

Terri wasn't coming in until the next day and when she called, my mom told her what I did. She said, "Doesn't she read her own blog?" Shelli hadn't read it and I was all, "What? What did I write?" So Michele and I went to read it and when we got to that paragraph there were serious tears and crossed legs and red faces and trouble breathing.

** Both my sisters left comments on that particular post and I just want to say for the record, those comments are erroneous at best, bald faced lies at worst. And I don't think it's fair when two people gang up against one helpless, defenseless, much younger person **

That evening I went to dinner with three of my good friends, Teresa, Rhonda and Beth. Rhonda couldn't believe what I'd done because, well, I'm pretty sure I swore I'd never do it again after the office fiasco. But my memory is faulty so... Anyway, it was fun catching up. The waitress took our picture and I'd thought about posting it, but I haven't figured out Photoshop/air brushing yet so no such luck.


Stay tuned for the next riveting installment of My Week In Arkansas.

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Mused by Jenster :: 7:38 PM :: 18 People musing:

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