Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I have a Lily (the flower this time!)

I was so excited to find a real live Lily blossom in our yard today when I was walking the dogs. It's my first flower bloom in our new yard. I'm actually surprised the plant bloomed because the stem isn't even upright...it's been lying flat on the ground since I transplanted it back in May. Lily (the dog) actually trampled the other Lily (the plant) that I planted and I don't think it's going to bloom at all this year.

My Hostas are all about to bloom as well and my vegetable garden is coming to life now that the sun has started to shine again. I might just have a green thumb afterall!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Adventures in Gardening- Part 2

The tomato cages are up (on the left with white tags)
I will start adventures in gardening the second installment with a funny story. I am terrified of snakes. I can't even see them on the television without cringing and fumbling for the remote control to change the channel. I was causally preparing the next mound of dirt to plant the last of my seedlings (carrots) when I grabbed what I thought was another clump of old grass roots. I mindlessly threw it behind me only to notice from the corner of my eye that it moved. I looked closer to discover a garden snake...at which point I screamed, dropped everything, and ran. As I was shivering with the heebie jeebies my husband saved the day and went into the garden to save me from the "mean" 6-inch long snake. I have been back in the garden since, but I am MUCH more careful where I stick my hands. I know garden snakes are harmless but I'm still sceeved out.
The bean poles are up!
This week my beans have really taken off growing, so I bought some stakes from Ocean State Job Lot and set them up. A.R. and I also set up the tomato cages and discovered I'm two cages short. I really hope we get some serious produce with all the time, money, and work we are putting into this garden. We also added two watermelon plants into our garden along with the row of carrots I planted.
The butternut squash blossomed!
Yesterday, I noticed from our window some flower blossoms in our garden. My butternut squash is blooming! I love squash and I'm so glad it's growing well. I just hope the tomato plants catch up...I've been craving home grown tomato sandwiches.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

I would like to wish my Dad a very HAPPY Father's Day! On days like this I wish we lived closer so I could show my appreciation with more then just a phone call. I think my Dad feels the same way. My dad and I aren't that close but I know he loves me and he knows I love him. I remember the first time I really saw him show how much he cared about me and was proud of me...it was the day I moved out of my parents home soon after I turned 18. He didn't want to help me move my things because he knew it would mean I'd be gone that much quicker.

The first time I saw him cry that I can remember was when he helped me pack up a moving van with all my things and watched me pull away for a new life in Connecticut in October 2001. He gave me the biggest bear hug and hesitated to let go with tears of pride in his eyes. I brushed him off like it was nothing that I was moving 12 hours away and starting a new life and finally going to finish my Bachelor's degree and continue my career. I promised him I'd move back in 3 years after my degree was done, but deep down we both knew I would not be back. He knew I'd find and build a life all my own in my new state.

The next time I saw my dad cry was just before he walked me down the aisle at my wedding September 6th, 2008. He was so proud of me and his new son-in-law. His little girl had finally found her Prince Charming. I still think he sees me as the freckle faced girl with pig tails begging him for ice cream before I ran outside to climb trees and ride my bike with my best friends...and for that I love him. It is good to remember the kid in you.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. Never forget that I love you!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Blast from the Past

I visited my Aunt in Massachusetts last Sunday and went through some of my grandmother's things with her. We came across a box filled with old pictures of my grandmother, her wedding, her sons through the years, and many of my cousins. Some of the pictures she had were quite incredible with the oldest photos dating back into the late 40s. The older photos were tiny...maybe 2" x 2" on much different paper and of course in black and white. My grandmother was very beautiful when she was younger and I have to say that I resemble her quite a bit. I also got to see what my grandfather looked like. He died in 1960 when my father was really young. My dad is a spitting image of his father only with darker hair...it was incredible to see the resemblance.

While going through her stash, I came across these photos of my parents at 3 of their proms. My mother hand-sewed all of her prom dresses. She looked so young and beautiful...I have a picture from when I was 16 and I look JUST like her. My parents were high school sweethearts and because my mother was younger they attended 3 proms together. Here are two of them. The 3rd one is a bit bleached out from being displayed in the light. I think I'm going to take it to a photo store or even CVS and see about having it restored to give to my parents who just celebrated their 35th Wedding Anniversary on June 15th. I believe these shots would be from the early 70s. My parents got married when my mother was 19 and just graduated from high school.
Also in the box were some baby pictures of my older brother and I! I don't have many baby shots being the younger sibling, so they are like liquid gold to find. My brother and I are only 15 months apart in age (I was an OOPS!) and are best friends today. May were we two cuties...I hope A.R. and I make such beautiful children. LOL
Me- 9 months old and Pete- 1 year old (Dec. 1981)

Pete- 2 yrs, Me- 21 months (Nov. 1981): I love my grin & tiny hands!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Our 1st Lawn Mowing

Over the weekend we went to just about every home store shopping for the perfect lawn mower. A.R. wanted a rear-wheel drive, self propelled, push lawn mower for now and once our entire lot is excavated and cleared he'll add in a ride-on. After consulting with the other men in his family (his Dad and two of his brothers) and bringing them to all the stores on Sunday, A.R. brought home a Sear's Craftsman lawn mower and he even found it on sale! I'm so proud of my self-trained bargain shopper.

Yesterday he mowed our yard for the first time! We still have a long road ahead of us to establish our lawn and kill the weeds that are growing, but it really looks like home now. I can't believe how much more it looks like a real yard now. Last year at this time our foundation had just been laid. This photo was taken on June 26th, 2008:

It took him a couple hours to mow the side and rear lawns, but he didn't get to finish the front before the sun set. It was so cute to see him out there in his wife beater with his latest man toy. He was so proud of himself and I think he felt pretty manly after mowing the lawn for the first time ever. A.R. grew up in a home with 3 older brothers and a father so he never had to mow the lawn as the baby of the family. (Spoiled!) I can't wait until our whole yard is established. I think it'll be bigger then we anticipate and have plenty of room for our deck, patio, shed, and one day a play scape for our children. It'll be nice to watch our future children play on our yard one day... :)
A.R. mowing in his wife beater (that's our neighbor's house)

Our side yard all mowed (my garden is in the background)

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Recent Reading List

FINALLY, after sitting on my book shelf for over two years collecting dust I was able to read the last Harry Potter book. A.R. got it as a gift for me in December 2007 and I just finished reading it in May...see what Grad school does to a girl?! I honestly can't remember the last time I read a book that wasn't a textbook or required by a professor for the shear joy and fun of it. I was always a book worm growing up and now I'm happy to get back into reading a book a month. My favorite authors include Nicholas Sparks, John Grisham, and Dick Francis to name a few.

I've greatly enjoyed the Harry Potter series, but I have to say that book 7 was a bit long and pretty much the first half of the book could've been omitted and still told the story successfully. I did enjoy reading how the author tied everything together and ended with a look forward to Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermoine's children traveling off to Hogwarts. BUT, but I feel like she left it open for a sequel (the last horcrux lost in the woods could still be rediscovered by accident, right?!) and that disappointed me a bit. I hope she doesn't reconsider and Book 7 remains Harry Potter's last.

I also read a memoir written by one of my favorite Glamour bloggers, Christine Coppa (Storked!). Her book is called Rattled! and it is about her life as a single mom coming to grips with life as she discovers herself single and pregnant at 26. It was a quick read and a great book with a Sex & the City meets suburbia twist. I look forward to her next book (and I hope there is one!).
Lily & I enjoying Rattled!
Next up on my list is a book by another (former) Glamour blogger, Erin Zammett. It's called "My (So-Called) Normal Life" and talks about her diagnosis of cancer in 2001 at age 23. Her blog just ended on Glamour and she is now happily married with one son and another baby on the way. I can't wait to read her book as I remember the very first article I read about her in Glamour many years ago. She is a strong woman and a survivor in more ways then one.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Adventures in Gardening- Part I

I'm the one in our relationship that typically comes up with special projects for us to undertake together. A.R. simply comes up with more electronic gadgets for us to buy...his latest dream gadget is a 58" flat panel TV which he emails pictures of daily and points out while we are in various stores. First, it was a 46" that he HAD to have. Then, he talked me into getting a 52" inch and now I think he's pushing his luck with a 58" on his wish list. We plan on purchasing a flat panel to go above our family room fireplace at the end of the month and I think he's going to win on getting the 58". Sneaky. He knew I'd cave. Especially after he had two of his brothers coerce me. Plus, I don't really think I have much choice in the matter after all the sweat, blood (yes, my DH has scars from our garden already!), and aggravation that went into starting up my latest project for us.
The seedlings start to grow!
"My" vegetable garden has now turned into "our" vegetable garden and after all the work we put in just starting it, we both have a greater apprecation for all the farmers out there in America and the world. Gardening is NOT easy, but we're hoping in a few months it WILL be rewarding if only we can get one vegetable after all the labor we've put in. I think I was a bit ambitious with our first garden and perhaps we both got a little over-excited over the thought of fresh, home grown tomatoes. This year's garden will consist of green beans, cucumbers, Dixie Squash, Butternut Squash, tomatoes, carrots, and pumpkin. I started all the seeds indoors myself in special trays. Much to my surprise a lot more of them then I anticipated actually grew, so I didn't transplant all of them. Of course we tilled and planted in the middle of a mole's wonderland, so we'll be fighting the rodents for the fruits (er, vegetables) of our labor!

Farmer A.R. with his hoe in hand...he hates this pic. LOL!
Two freshly hoed rows, with strings line up for two more...
Our gardening adventure began on Memorial Day weekend when we arranged to rent a tiller and a truck from our local Home Depot for 24 hours. We both thought it would be a piece of cake to till our land which borders wetlands and has great soil. What we didn't anticipate was the subsequent 4 trips BACK to Home Depot for more supplies including a trimmer with a bush wacking attachment to weed wack the waist high grass where our garden was to be. It turns out that the tiller couldn't handle tilling the ground until we cut the grass down. DOH!

Saturday, we wasted the first 12 hours with the rented tiller making trips back and forth to Home Depot getting additional supplies we didn't anticipate needing. It was actually so bad that our bank card got put on fraud alert and the company actually froze our card until we called to tell them we were idiots and that Home Depot now owns a small share of our home. Bright and early on Sunday A.R. woke up and started weed wacking the grass with our new trimmer when he got his first battle scars slicing his knuckles while changing the blade on the trimmer. Then, he staked out the 4 corners of our garden. With just 4 hours left on the tiller rental he began tilling the spot that would become our garden. After tilling we loaded the tiller back in the rented truck and headed once AGAIN to Home Depot. It turns out we mis-read the time the tiller was due back and turned it in a mere 3 minutes before we would've been charged another day. PHEW!

The 1st rows are planted...the stakes have a deer fence hooked to them that you can't really see.
Learning to use the tiller on Saturday was quite an adventure as well. When we first got it we tested it out by trying to till some of the land by a fence that is on our property so I could plant some Hostas under it while A.R. tilled the vegetable garden. The tiller started once but then sputtered out and we couldn't restart it prompting a call to the rental department of Home Depot (I think they know our names now!) and come to find out there's a teeny tiny switch on it that shuts on and off access to the gas tank. A.R. soon had it up and running again and practiced for a bit before taking it down to the vegetable garden spot.

Next year we will plan a lot better BEFORE we rent the tiller as far as doing all the prepwork, so we can maximize our time with it. Unfortunately, we wish we had the tiller a few more hours as now there are a lot of grass roots in our garden and some grass is re-growing. One more pass with the tiller would've really helped break them up more. We learned so much this year and after two days of hot baths to ease my aching muscles I now swell up with appreciation when I drive by a home that has beautiful well-kept gardens. It is HARD work. Every muscle in my body ached for an entire week as we finished hoeing the rows and planted the seedlings. This weekend I get to weed it for the first time and plant the last row (carrots) of vegetables. I also have to put bean poles and some form of trellis contraption that my cucumbers can use to grow on.
Our garden is pretty big. Now we have the tomato cages up as well.
If you have any tips for a gardening beginner feel free to comment away. I'm learning about fertilizing now (1st application went on last weekend) and stablizing those veggies that need cages, poles, and trellis' to grow well. Remembering to water has been a challenge, but the rain we've had this week has really helped. Now I have to make sure little bugs aren't eating the leaves on my tomato plants!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

I am a VERY proud granddaughter

My grandmother's obituary was in the newspaper over the weekend and I finally looked it up online Tuesday. I didn't know my grandmother was so involved with her church and did so much for them and her community over the years and especially after her husband and young son died in a tragic car accident. She was left a widow with 3 young boys in a time when single mothers were not the norm. My eyes welled up with tears and I swelled with pride when I read about her accomplishments which I have excerpted below. I think she is inspirational in the hardships she overcame and yet she was so humble as to not boast about her good deeds. I really hope she is at peace now in heaven with her husband, son, and 1/2 sister frolicking in the clouds, painting, and playing her hand bells.

I have one of the last items she painted at my house on our front porch. She made Alexi and I a birdhouse painted hunter green to go along with our shutter colors as part of a house warming gift to us. I will cherish it always...this picture of it is kind of crappy, but it's on the bottom of my garden rack.

"Her main stay was her faith in the Lord and she was an active member of the *** Congregational Church in *** for over 60 years. She served as a Sunday School Superintendent, sang in the church choir, when needed served as a substitute organist, directed the Junior Choir and played in the hand bell choir for many years. She was active in the Prayer Shawl Ministry and was a member of the Ratcliffe Guild, the Whats-So-Ever Club and the Lunch Bunch.

In the 1960's, following the tragic death of her husband and son, she was very instrumental in a major renovation project at the church. She helped oversee the addition of Sunday school classrooms, the church parlor and fellowship hall, complete with a kitchen. "Sweet Hall" was attached to its original building to where it stands today.

A resident of *** for over 60 years, Eleanor enjoyed painting, tole painting being her favorite. She was also an avid knitter, enjoyed playing and teaching piano and playing the accordion. Mrs. T was a former Girl Scout leader and led many *** girls (including my own mother!) from the starting point of a Brownie to becoming a full-fledged senior Girl Scout. She loved children and had donated over 200 hand made baby booties and hats for newborns at *** Hospital. Her proudest accomplishments were the ways in which she raised her devoted sons as a single mother and reaching out and helping other children in many different ways."

Monday, June 08, 2009

Everyone Needs A Little Lily Love

Because I'm infatuated with her and she is going to think I'm the paparazzi following her around, here is Lily's latest adventure...she has determined that our coffee table is a great place for sleeping/playing.

Gotta love the little tush and her "stubby" (tail). :)

A.R.'s New Throne

He won't be facing Bobby Flay anytime soon for a grilling ThrowDown, but A.R. sure does love his new grill. We stalked it at Home Depot for a month before we finally broke down and bought it. So what that our deck isn't built yet (we have a design layout in mind!) and that our stone patio (complete with fire pit and beautiful path with trellis to our vegetable garden) is probably another good 3-5 years from being started or even fully imagined. A.R. swiped a few stone steps our builder had piled up and made a home for the grill outside our walkout basement for now.

The funny part: we aren't so good at grilling. I swear I think it has to be an art. Either our food comes out blackened beyond recognition or it's raw in the middle and we end up having to finish cooking it inside. It's sad, really, that we suck at using it. I hope by the end of the summer A.R. will have mastered his throne and I can revel in delicious shrimp skewers, kabobs, ribs, and hot dogs that actually still resemble hot dogs when removed from the grill.

He practiced every day for a week before my graduation party to try to figure out the right temperatures and how long to cook various foods insisting that the directions were wrong. Yes! My husband actually reads the directions for his man toys instead of crumbling them into a ball and discarding them as useless. Shocking, I know. Alas, at the party, the tongs were relinquished...ah-hem, taken...from A.R. by his brother who saved the day and the last 1/2 of the pack of hot dogs! My poor hubby was deflated, but he will try again later this week to conquer the grill once again. Let's hope the chicken comes out resembling chicken this time!

Happy summer and happy grilling everyone!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

11 Years Ago Today...

...I became a mother. It isn't something I normally shout out from the rooftops, but it isn't something I try to hide either. Afterall, I have the stretchmarks to prove it! I went into labor on a Thursday afternoon, but was sent home because I was only 2 cm dilated. Friday morning, after a sleepless night, I returned to the hospital and was admitted. My labor continued all day and finally the doctors broke my water at 8pm. My son was born screaming at 5:26am Saturday, June 6th after over an hour of pushing. I melted when I saw him. Cried. Laughed. Smiled. I held him in my arms in awe at what I had just done. I gave my son the best gift a mother can. Life.

He weighed 9 lbs 4 3/4oz and was 21 1/8" long and arrived over a week late (I was due May 25th!). I named him Jacob and as I gazed at him it was bittersweet. I knew our time together was coming to an end. My son was being adopted by a wonderful family as I was just a teenager at 18. I still shiver when I remember the day I found out I was pregnant. It was on my mom's birthday. My father had taken her out to dinner, so my best friend had come over to be with me as I took a pregnancy test. I already knew the results deep down before I even took the test, but I still couldn't look at the test. My friend looked first and just sat on the toilet dumbfounded and handed it to me. I was 17 and pregnant. When I dropped out of high school, as class valedictorian, to homeschool the last half of my 10th grade year my classmates assumed it was because I was pregnant. I laughed it off, saying it was rediculous. A year later, I was pregnant albeit I had already graduated highschool with my GED and was in college. I was smart. I couldn't be a pregnant teenager. Impossible.

I agonized over the decision I had to make. Abortion was never an option. I decided to keep my son and raise him as my own until I was 5 1/2 months pregnant and started to really think about how exactly I could do that when I had nothing. My parents weren't rich, they were struggling to raise my younger brother and sister and couldn't afford another mouth to feed. I was working my way through Community College, but I knew flipping burgers wouldn't cut it. After many conversations with my mother, my son's father (we were still dating), and a counselor, I decided that my son would be adopted by a family that I picked out. I began searching through the stack of profiles and was amazed how many loving families are waiting out there for a child of their own. I knew who my son's parents would be the instant that I saw their profile. They had lost two children of their own. As toddlers. There was a photo in that profile I will never forget. It was of my son's future mother holding her dying toddler while the child was covered in tubes and looking lovingly into her eyes. I cried. A lot. My decision had been made.

My son's father and I were still dating, but it was long distance. He was very supportive over the phone but only saw me twice during the pregnancy. When I was 6 months along he flew down to see me and then again when our son was born. He was supportive of my decision towards adoption as he was in no way ready to be a father. I think in some ways I am still bitter that all he had to do was show up and sign his name, while I carried our child for 9 months, went through a long and painful back labor, and then took months (years) to cope with my decision and finally be at peace. He should've been there, but he wasn't and that is something he has had to live with. I know that I made the right choice and I'm so thankful that my son has a wonderful family. He is doing so well.

I had a semi-open adoption through the agency where my parents adopted my younger siblings. I received pictures of my son every month for the first year and now, 11 years later, I still get an update and photos once a year. I send him gifts on his birthday and Christmas and he knows that he is adopted. His family and I communicate through the adoption agency. Although we have never met, I cannot thank them enough for doing such a wonderful job raising my son. He is their son now. I will never search for him, that decision is up to him when he is old enough (18). He knows his story, has letters that I've written, and he has seen what both his birth father and I look like through pictures. If he wants to meet me someday I will welcome him with open arms, but if his story/letters/pictures are enough for him, I am at peace with that. He knows he is loved and I think he's a pretty lucky kid to have two moms that would do anything for him. Happy Birthday to my "baby" boy!


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Coming to you via video: Lily

Here is a short clip of Lily & Tomas bonding on Monday. They are going to be such best buds before long! Please ignore the talking in the background...it's my mother-in-law and A.R.'s aunt speaking in Spanish. I hope they aren't saying anything dirty because I have no clue what they are saying. :)

Minor Oral Surgery Today

I had one (out of two) skin grafts done today for my lower gums. My brother had the same surgery when we were younger for the same thing. The gums in two spots on my lower jaw are receding to the point where I was in danger of losing some of my teeth which is why I needed the procedure. The periodontist took the skin from the roof of my mouth and stitched it in place where my gums were receding too much. I was supposed to have two skin grafts done today, but he didn't want to take too much skin all at once so he ended up only completing one.

As soon as the numbing meds wore off it was excruciating and if I bend over or do too much standing up the blood rushes to my head and it hurts. Right now I'm on 2 Motrin, but I have Hydrocodone (generic Vicodin) in case I need it. I can't believe I have to do this AGAIN once the first one heals in about a month. :(
The stitches on the roof of my mouth...top right
I have to say that the surgery itself wasn't too horrible. Getting the shot into the roof of my mouth was the most painful part of the procedure. I felt it all the way up in my sinus! Once I was numb it was smooth sailing besides the fact I could watch and hear everything. Seeing a scalpal head towards you isn't really my cup of tea and it gets a little unnerving when you see your own blood on it (sorry if TMI!). One of the grossest experiences I've had in life was definitely watching my doctor actually sew me back up. I wouldn't have minded being knocked out for that! I told him he should put posters on his ceiling to occupy his patients for that part of the procedure. :)

The skin graft is under this special putty which is like a band-aid.

My lower lip is a bit swollen but I shouldn't bruise and I can still eat soft foods. I had good old fashioned mac & cheese in a box tonight accompanied by homemade mashed potatoes. Mmm, carbs. I have to be careful while eating for a couple of days for the stitches on the roof of my mouth to heal. I'm also not supposed to bend over and exercise excessively to prevent the blood from rushing to my head and I've already learned that lesson. Potty training a puppy while recovering is going to be a challenge!


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

10 Things We've Learned about Lily

Our little Lily came to live with us on Sunday...a bright spot to a crappy day. She is already giving us a run for our money (and her big brothers, too). Here are 10 things we've learned about her in the short 48 hours since she joined our family.

1. She is stinkin' cute. As in the pouty look from her eyes with the drooping Cocker Spaniel ears you can't say no or call me "bad girl" too many times cute.

2. She learned how to climb stairs in less then 24 hours. Yes, we are in trouble! She is only 8 weeks old and it took Tomas until at least until he was 12 weeks to figure stairs out.

3. She is definitely a "cocky" Cocker...all piss and vinegar and sassy to boot.

4. Lily LOVES bling. She regularly tries to chew my e-ring, earrings, necklace, and her Dad's watch. I wonder if that goes along with her pick pocket abilities as demonstrated at my last meeting with her.

5. Lily doesn't play nice on the playground. She pulls hair. Hard. She even gets her razor teeth around A.R.'s short hair and pulls it.

6. She is a bed/couch space hog. We've been suckered into letting her onto both the couch and our bed to sleep to stop the pitiful whining. I know, it's sad and bad for training. But. She makes it a point to spread out as much as possible once on said bed/couch.

7. Like her Dad and big brother, Tomas, she likes electronics. I am typing this blog from Alexi's desktop because she chewed through my laptop power cord today and my battery pack has been dead for awhile and won't hold a charge. We've ordered a new power cord to tide me over until Santa brings me a MAC.

8. Lily has an uncanny resemblance to her big brother, Tomas, in so many ways. The way she sits, plays, wiggles her whole butt instead of just her stub of a tail when she's happy, "play growls" at you to get your attention, lies with her back legs stretched behind her, sleeps. It's kind of freaky how similar they are!

9. She already respects the king of the home, Sebastian the cat. He already swatted her and now she runs from him. I can't get a picture of the two of them because she keeps her distance.

10. Lily loves belly scratches. Loves. Scratching her belly puts her to sleep.

Alas, when I get my power cord or figure out where the USB port is on A.R.'s computer I will download and post some pictures and videos of our little Lily. Until then, I must say that she has already won over our hearts. She is quite a little girl. I hope Sebastian grows to accept her and stops pouting at me and Tomas learns to love her even as she grows.