Wednesday, July 16, 2014

It’s Time

Our hearts are full of sadness this morning as it is Chloe’s last morning with us. We have been preparing ourselves for over a month now and have talked to the kids – they knew it was coming. Naturally we expected Sophie to have a harder time with this than Ethan, as Sophie has known Chloe since she was born and Ethan has been through this before with other dogs. But I have to say, Sophie is doing exceptionally well, considering. She just told me this morning:
“The bright side is that when Chloe gets to heaven, she gets to see Penny. And we will have another guardian angel watching over us. And when we get a new dog, we will have someone else to love.”

It has really been me holding out. I wasn’t ready yet. I was waiting, watching, praying for a sign. Chloe was still eating and drinking and wagging her tail and getting into the trash and begging for human food and doing those types of things that Beagles love to do.

Well, I finally got my sign. Monday night was really, really rough for Chloe. She woke up at 4am panting and shaking in pain. Later that morning she laid on her bed, still shaking in pain. Grandma Sue and Sophie were home with her most of the day Tuesday and said she did not have a good day. Jeff checked on her at lunch and she was still shaking in pain. This is despite repeated doses of medicine throughout this time. I spoke with the vet yesterday at work. I explained all the Beagle things she does. I explained her pain, straining to pee, leakage, and all of the tumor-related things. He agreed it was time. He told us again – this was my regular vet now – “You have done EVERYTHING you could for this dog. You put her through chemo; you’ve altered your lifestyle for her…don’t you want her to go out while she is still a bit happy, instead of completely uncomfortable?”

We told the kids when we got home. Sophie snuggled Chloe and had tears in her eyes but held it together. We took some pictures; Jeff wanted no part in it because he didn’t want to chronicle Chloe when she was so miserable. I cradled Chloe in my lap many times last night – she never lets me do that. Despite additional doses of medicine, she still shook with pain. She looked miserable, and sad. Her head was down. I knew she was ready. I was ready for her to be rid of the pain.

Jeff made sloppy joe’s last night and gave some to Chloe in her bowl. She ate a bit of it, but not the whole thing. She made it through the night and is still shaking in pain this morning. It is time. She is a great dog who helped complete our family and I will always be grateful for her love.

Ironically, Jamie’s younger brother Ryan and wife Tiffany had their second child on Monday. A baby girl they named Chloe. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


So this morning I was working from home while waiting for Grandma Sue (Jamie’s mom) to come over and watch Sophie (our babysitter is out of town) and Jeff was already at the office and I log into my email account and see a bitchy email Marcy sent Jeff and cc’d me on. It was all “Blah blah blah you don’t communicate with me; you don’t respond to my texts; you should have been at Ethan’s orthodontist consult appointment yesterday; I’m sick of being treated like crap by you” (I have NO IDEA why the kid is going to see an orthodontist; the first I heard of it was yesterday morning and Ethan has a beautiful smile and perfectly straight teeth but ANYWAY). I told Jeff right away, “I don’t know what she has up her butt but she CANNOT involve me” which of course he agreed, and sent her an email to that effect I later found out.

Marcy drops off Ethan for a couple of hours before his basketball camp and Grandma Sue still isn’t there and I saw the email so I know what she wants when she looks at me and says, “Can I talk to you for a minute?” And I say, “No, it’s between you and Jeff.” Then she says, “Not in front of the kids, here, just a minute,” and steps onto my porch. I should have never gone out there but I did and duh, no shit not in front of the kids which is why I was attempting to shut it down before it even began.

Anyway, we are trying our best to whisper-talk and she is going off about Jeff and how he never returns her texts or her phone calls and blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

First of all, it’s not true. What happens is Marcy texts Jeff on a weekend when he has Ethan and says “please have Ethan call me.” And then if five minutes go by in silence, she calls Jeff’s phone. Five minutes after that, she texts him again. Five minutes after that, she texts ME: “I can’t get a hold of Jeff, will you please tell him to have Ethan call me.” It’s not that Jeff is staring at his phone plotting an evil plan. It’s because the boys are outside playing catch or the kids are swimming together or Ethan & Sophie are playing or we are all doing something together as a family but because Marcy is apparently a toddler who expects it NOWNOWNOWNOW, she flips out.

She talked for a while; blabbed on and on and finally I look at her and I say, “Marcy, I don’t know what you are wanting or expecting from me right now.”
Marcy: I want your help getting Jeff to talk to me. It’s for Ethan. Don’t you want to help Ethan?
WTF is she talking about? Ethan is an emotionally, physically, mentally stable kid who doesn’t need any help. I mean, does she REALLY think I’m going to go off on the man I married just FOUR months ago and say, “Oh yeah you’re right he’s a total douchebag let’s go get coffee and chat about it.”????
Marcy: Jeff says you don’t bug Jamie like I bug him; but I bet Jamie actually RESPONDS to you.
That’s when I kinda’ got up in her face a bit and:
Me: Marcy, Jamie left me when I was 7 months pregnant…
Marcy: I know that.
Me: …Believe you me, we have had plenty of disagreements, differences of opinion and communication issues of our own over the past 10 years but we found a way to work it out. And let me tell you that I have never, nor would I ever, involve Sophie’s step-mom in a disagreement that me and Jamie were having. It’s completely inappropriate.
Marcy [throwing up her hands]: How? How did you work it out?
Me: We figured it out; we are both mature adults.
Marcy: Well I’m mature but Jeff isn’t. He isn’t a good dad.
Me: I beg to differ. This conversation is OVER.
And I walked inside.

About 2.5 seconds after she pulls away, she texts Jeff (I know because he read me the time when I called him about the cat fight he missed) “I’m going to call my lawyer and get a mediator!”
He doesn’t get all rattled up about it which just pisses her off more. Then, for my own entertainment, he forwards me the five emails she sent him (and his responses) between 9:19 and 10:52am where she tells Jeff he is mean and treats her like crap and threatens the mediator again but at least she’s not copying me in on these. But then! Then she just starts saying (in the emails) stuff that is completely untrue like how “Ethan knows you and Farrell don’t like me, you talk bad about me and Mike [her boyfriend/fiancé] and it affects him tremendously.”

First of all, her accusation is simply not true. Neither Jeff nor I talk bad about her or Mike in front of Ethan. We don’t talk about either of them much at all, actually and I’m sorry if that’s an ego blow to her. Also, she needs to remember who I am and where I came from. I have not said a bad word about Jamie or TT in front of Sophie EVER and if I can do that, I’m CERTAINLY not going to talk about Marcy and her boyfriend who I’ve met twice and don’t know well enough to have an opinion about him one way or another in front of her son.

Jeff thinks Marcy interrogates Ethan when he comes home to her place after a weekend with us – i.e. “What’d you do? What’d you eat? Did you eat at the table or in front of the TV? What did you talk about? What did Sophie say? What did Farrell say? Where did you go? Who were you with?”

Marcy is a drama queen and obviously she is either (a) fighting with her boyfriend/fiancé or (b) bored.

Jeff took Ethan out to lunch since he had to drop him off at camp anyway. They had a chat and Ethan has never heard us say bad things about his mom or her guy and he did mention that his mom was in trouble with her boss.
Ah ha.
So she’s taking her anger with her boss out on us.

JEEZ LOUISE, what a way to start the day.

Jeff kept apologizing to me and he said, “Well I guess it was inevitable that you two would eventually have a run-in. It’s a testament to you that it hadn’t happened until now.”

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

I Feel Like a Teenager…

…and not in a good way. I am 37 years old and I still break out before “that time of the month.” And I can’t resist picking them even though Jeff & Sophie “yell” at me about it. And I get wicked PMS – where I like to wallow in my depression and everything is woe and nobody likes me and why don’t I go eat some worms. It’s bad, people. It’s not surprising because people who suffer from depression/anxiety do tend to get more emotional/depressed during that time but this is ridiculous. I’m old enough and I’ve been doing this long enough that I should know nothing I am feeling during that time is reality. Other than staying away from alcohol and eating healthy and taking my vitamins, does anybody out there have some other PMS emotional home remedy relief?

Of course, it was all this past weekend – 4th of July weekend – when we were kid-les and my diet mainly consisted of fried chicken and beer. Oops. But I didn’t gain any weight which is…bizarre. And even though “they” say you should stay away from caffeine, sugar, and alcohol during that time, those are the things I crave, during that time.

I tried cleaning with coconut oil – no go.
As I write this, I have a zit on the top part of my ear. That’s fun.
What works for you? Am I the only almost-40 mom who still gets breakouts?

Have I just committed myself to oodles of spam spouting skin care remedies with this last part?

Thursday, July 03, 2014

The Grass Isn’t Always Greener

A lot of married people with kids are jealous of me and Jeff, and other divorced parents, because we get every Wednesday night free, plus every other weekend. We don’t have to plan date nights; they are built in to the schedule for us. I remember our Pastor talking to us (and seeming jealous) about it during our required pre-marital counseling.

However, what people don’t realize is that we would rather have our kids full-time, like “regular” parents. In addition to splitting weekends, we also have to split holidays. That means there are some years when I don’t get to wake up on Christmas morning with Sophie. (Jeff always gets Ethan Xmas eve night bc Marcy’s Jewish, even though she celebrates Christmas too). There are some Thanksgivings we don’t get to celebrate with the two people we are most thankful for. And - can you imagine NOT being able to wake up your child – the child you gave BIRTH to – on the morning of their birthday? It’s heartbreak I tell you.

Yes I am looking forward to this kid-free long weekend – we try to make the best of it and have lots of fun things going on – birthday parties and graduation parties and parties at the pool, etc. – but we don’t get to watch fireworks with our kids.

Try planning a weekend getaway during the summer. Any baseball weekends are out, so that means May/June is out. (Ethan plays on two teams; Sophie on one). That leaves July, and the beginning of August. Take away half those weekends when the kids are at their other parents; add in work travel; and that leaves us with exactly ONE weekend to schedule our weekend at the lake.

There is a young couple (age 30) in our neighborhood with two great kids. Yet they ship their kids off to Grandma and Grandpa’s every single weekend because they would rather party with their friends. Immature, selfish. They voluntarily give up their children when I would do anything to not have to give up mine.

And yet when Jeff teases me about having another baby (NOT going to happen. Pregnancy was hard enough for me at age 27; I cannot image at age 37!), I think, “Jeez. If we did that kid would like, NEVER LEAVE. We’d never, ever get a break!” I’m kind of kidding but it would certainly be a MAJOR lifestyle change.

It’s hard enough when your kid gets older and they have this whole school life outside of you. And you don’t really know their friends because you work full time and don’t really have an opportunity to volunteer at the school. And then they want to have these strange kids over and you don’t know them at all and you don’t know the parents. Coupled with the fact that they have a whole other family on the other parents’ side; with entirely different experiences, vacations, etc. It’s just a weird, disconnecting feeling sometimes even though when Sophie comes back from her dad’s I constantly ask for funny Sutton or cousin stories so I can get a glimpse in.

This post has no point other than to say the grass isn’t always greener.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Kitchen Remodel: We Have Plans! Now All We Need is a Money Tree

Last week, we met with our contractor friend/neighbor who took us to his “for contractors only” supply place – where he gets all of his materials at contractor pricing – to pick out countertops, cabinets, flooring and a backsplash. His designer showed us the proposed plans. It is much like what I talked about

This wall is the major issue:

We are going to cut that in half to create an island/eat up bar. In the new plans, the sink & dishwasher are going to switch places with the stove & microwave.

The sink & dishwasher will be on the island, along with a covered and divided trash receptacle – one for recycling, one for trash; it will look like a cabinet. The dog will no longer be able to eat our trash (unless we leave it open).

The stove & microwave will be on the far wall.

As you can see (above), we are extending the counter and cabinets pretty much all the way down to the bay window, where the baker’s rack currently sits (below).
At the contractor place, everyone was really helpful – I told them I would be easily overwhelmed with all of the choices. But the designer said, “OK, here are the cabinets in your price range.” And then granite: “Top row: Not your price range. Bottom row: your price range.” So that was really helpful. Like an idiot, I didn’t take pics of the backsplash or flooring and Jeff and I both want to go back and re-assess our decisions (my mind was swirly with all of the possibilities) but here is the granite we chose:

We didn’t think we could ever afford granite. But it came to only $1,000 more than laminate, and that price included installation (the laminate pricing did not), AND we’ll never have to replace it AND we’ll definitely get our money back on that investment if we ever have to sell. So really, in the big picture, it was a no brainer.

As for the cabinets, I wanted to save our current ones because they aren’t bad- I wanted to resurface/restain them or whatever but Jeff & Jared (our contractor friend) said no. But we need to go back and look at the cabinets more because the designer showed us this, on the left, which is…hmmm…almost exactly what we have (see right).

I am unwilling to pay this much money (the cabinetry is the bulk of the expense, other than installation) for the exact same thing. I want something deeper, more cherry, less brown, like in my dream kitchen photo. And a different style, like this, which we also saw and liked (also in my dream kitchen photo):

We also picked out a nice porcelain/ceramic tile floor (18” squares) and glass backsplash that I am in love with, though I neglected to take pictures of either one.

Now when we watch House Hunters or Property Brothers or Love it or List it, we are seeing “our kitchen” everywhere. “Open concept; granite countertops; stainless steel appliances!” Now we “just” need the remaining funds needed to get the project started!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


One night last week, as we were lying in bed and had just finished reading, said our prayers, and turned the music on, Sophie started to cry:
I don’t want to be 10. Because then I’ll be 20 and then 30 and then 40 and then 50 and then I’ll get old and die.
I was like, WTF??? Where did THAT come from? And how do you think I feel? I’m nearly 40 and halfway there! I soothed her and tried to say what I thought were reassuring things like she has her whole life ahead of her blah blah blah. But seriously? I wonder: have puberty hormones started already?? Oiy vey.

The next night, she did the same thing, only this time I was a lot less patient as now I thought it was a stalling technique. But speaking of old, I feel old because I just found out I need reading glasses. Working on a computer 10 hours a day for 13 years straight has finally caught up to me. I think I wrote about this a short time back; bouts of blurred vision, very tired eyes, tearing eyes, etc. Luckily my distance vision is still nearly perfect. I DO have VERY dry eyes and the optometrist (a very nice, pretty lady) gave me some OTC samples of drops to try. My prescription is very mild for the lenses, but it should help with the eye fatigue. Let’s face it, when I’m not on the computer, I’m starting at an iPad screen or at a backlit Kindle screen. I wasn’t surprised after she checked me all out and tested my eyes to hear that she recommended reading glasses; after all, that’s why I went in. She said I should probably be good with this prescription for the next three years, until I turn 40. Then it will go downhill from there, LOL.

I was there by myself and went to see Sharon, who is responsible for fitting clients for glasses. I tried some on and picked 5 favorites. I was SO happy when she said, “Oh, we just got these in – look, they’re purple and I haven’t even taken them out of the package yet.” She had me at purple. I have a purple iPad, a purple iPhone, a purple Kindle…She kindly calculated the cost of each choice and wrote them down for me. I told her I would bring my daughter back tout suite.

Sophie and I returned about 15 minutes before they closed and I tried them all on for her. At first she wasn’t thrilled. But she was my best pal and as I knew she would, immediately gave her opinion. A shrug of the shoulders and an “eh” or an empathetic shake of the head. “No, take those off; those aren’t right. Here, try these pink ones on instead.” I kept going back to the purple, and in the end, that’s what we chose. Sharon, the eyeglass lady said to Sophie, “What are you, 27, 28?” I said, “Yep, she’s an old soul, that’s for sure!”

And now more for the old: Oh, my parents. God bless them but they worry me. My mom refuses to use a cane to help her balance. We didn’t have Sophie on Father’s Day as obviously she was with Jamie. But we all went out to eat – my parents, me, Jeffrey and Ethan – and then to Ethan’s baseball game where he did awesome, and pitched his second no-hitter of the weekend. Going into the baseball fields, there is a large parking lot with many fields. We saw Tom’s van and I called him as we were waiting down a bit and said, “Go straight, go straight, we’re down here.” And I could hear Tom saying to my mom, “Honey, do you see Farrell? I can’t see Farrell.” And I was like, “OMIG, it doesn’t matter, I see you, just GO STRAIGHT.” Jeff was like, “What the HELL is he doing??” Finally the van arrived and we got mom out and walked her to the field, which was many steps away, but the closest drop off possible. Then at one point she had to go to the bathroom and refused to allow one of the park guys take her in their little carts. So it took them a full inning to go to the bathroom and get back. On their way out, I noticed Tom shuffling along – he turns 80 next month – he was not walking any better than my mom. I’ve never seen him do a day of exercise in his life. It worries me and makes me sad and also about Tom – while he was still parking the car, I told my mom that she needed to get him checked out because it’s not going to get better. I’m pretty sure he has Alzheimer’s. And she just kept saying, “I know, I know.” And I get that she’s scared and worried about it but putting it off won’t help any. Once again, I’m determined to be healthy for the sake of my children now, and my future grandchildren. I want to be able to play with them and take them places and move easily enough around.

In closing, I give you our retirement plan, Ethan the pitcher:

Friday, June 06, 2014

Do You Know What Happens When You Watch Too Much “Love it or List it”?

Do you know what happens when you watch too much “Love it or list it”? It’s kind of like when you were a teenager and would look at Glamour or Seventeen magazine. You think, “Wow, I dress like crap. My hair is crap. Everyone is prettier than me. I’m not fashionable AT ALL.” So I’ve been obsessed with the show lately and now even Sophie is into it. But if you watch it too much, you look around your house and think “Oh my gosh, this place is crap! It could be SO much better! I need Hilary STAT!”

So yeah. Our house COULD be so much better. There are things that need re-organized, re-done, spiced up…all it takes is money. A buttload of money.

In case you aren’t familiar with the show, it’s on HGTV and here’s how it goes: One part of the couple wants to stay in the house, and one wants to go. Hilary the designer renovates the house with the couple’s budget, and David the real estate agent tries to find the couple a NEW house. At the end, the couple decides are they going to love it, and stay in their renovated house, or are they going to list it, and move to a new house. So either Hilary or David “wins.” I wanted to apply – many people apply with no intention of moving (I moved a year ago and have no desire to do so again anytime soon) – but to be on the show, you must be in the Toronto area:( It’s totally scripted and there is a template for each show. Hilary and David banter; one spouse loses faith in Hilary while the other loses faith in David; Hilary always runs into a big problem that will eat up some of her budget which means she can’t do everything she originally promised; the couple always, always is insistent on staying in their neighborhood but their budget isn’t big enough and David takes them out of their neighborhood to show what they could have; in the end, Hilary always does a fantastic job; they always love the last house David shows the most; and in the end the couple either decides to stay (love it) or go (list it). The couple “makes” their decision across the room from Hilary and David who are bantering back and forth while watching the couple “talk it out.” Yeah, right. I read that the producers film both possible endings – having the couple say “love it,” and then having them say “list it” – and they choose which one to air. Probably so that in the end, the “score” is even between Hilary and David. Anyway, that’s reality TV for you, but it’s still fun.

Some of these people though, jeez. I would LOVE to know what the HELL they do for a living, as I’ve seen many a young couple with a new baby with a $600-800k budget. Must. Be. Nice.

So now I see why my mom – who is nearly homebound as she can’t drive – who sits around all day watching HGTV – has spent so much money on her backyard. Because she’s sitting there at the kitchen looking out into it thinking, “Wow, this could be so much MORE.”

I was talking to Tom about the show at Sophie’s softball game last weekend (she still has to go to support her team even though she can’t play due to her cast). He was so funny – he knew all the lingo. He said, “If I hear ‘open concept’ or ‘granite countertops and stainless steel appliances’ one more time…”

Anyway, back to me. Our kitchen is the eyesore of the house, for sure. What happens when people want to sell their house? They redo a bunch of stuff, sell it and move out – which means they never get to enjoy the work they’ve put into it. I would like to live in a house that is ready to sell at any moment. NOT because I want to move, but because I want to enjoy the upgraded-ness.

Our kitchen is in a half box and there is a wall we definitely would like to cut in half:

The countertops are awful and back when this opening was widened and the counter was cut, it was never finished so there is still painters tape on it.
The floor in the kitchen doesn’t match the rest of the house. We need a new dishwasher. Our stove works great but would need to be replaced. The dishwasher and stove have a fake gray/silver paint that Marcy put on to make them look like stainless steel. The fridge is relatively new and can stay.

I actually think our cabinets are pretty good – they could be resurfaced, we could keep the “box” of them and add hardware. Though I would LOVE to have self-closing cabinets/drawers. Ours are slammy slammy but that could be partially because there are no handles.

It’s narrow, galley style so that is what we have to work with. Where that glass table is above, close to the wall, is supposed to be a formal dining room I guess which we don’t really need. Instead, we use that table as the craft table/homework table and just eat in the kitchen.

I would like to turn it into something more like this:
I showed it to Jeff and asked him if he liked it. He laughed and said, “Of course I like it. Do you have 50 grand?”

Then we have this bar wall thing which doesn’t work because it’s too far away from the kitchen to be a functional bar. Currently, it’s basically where we put all our crap: lunchboxes, mail, purses, stuff we haven’t put away yet or don’t know where to put…
And those are the stairs leading down to the basement.
I would like to build storage into that wall thing or take it out all together.

The other major issue we have is the living room which is a disaster. This bookshelf – well, it doesn’t work. It’s always messy and it doesn’t match and Sophie’s papers are everywhere.
Then we have this cluster on either side of the fireplace.
I would like to resurface the fireplace – maybe slate? Get rid of the bookshelves; put shelving above the cabinets. Or remove the cabinets and put something functional but pretty so that all the art supplies could be covered up and not on display. I’m thinking a double door thing with shelving inside but not something you would put in your garage; something that is pretty.
We do have some things going for us. You can see the windows and we could even open up the whole wall – the wall where the bookshelf is – to make that whole back of the house windows; maybe French doors instead of sliders; maybe add doors where my desk currently is…
One thing at a time though, right?

Design, organization ideas – stuff we can do NOW (other than “put your crap away”) to make this better is much appreciated. Design ideas for what we could do if we invest some money are also appreciated.