(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday – Chalk It Up

I know, I know. Wordless Wednesdays should be just that — wordless. But, I suck at not writing/talking. It’s just…”how I do.”

So, given how involved with the show I’ve been lately, I thought it would be cool to share this picture that I snapped quickly before the writing got erased…

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image f94ed-wordlesschalkboard on http://megactsout.com
Boring, right? Just a homemade chalkboard with scribbling sitting on the stage floor.

But, there’s more to it than that.

This is a set dressing (technically prop since we actually used it during the show) from “1940s Radio Hour,” which we performed a handful of years ago. As each singer in the radio show arrived for “rehearsal” (all in front of the audience, mind you), we signed in. I was first — “Connie.” Then, a sweet actress named Char (who played “Ginger”), and my sister Mary (who played “B.J.” — it was changed from a male character and worked quite well). Finally, (others didn’t sign in) we see Neal. Er, “Heel” (as I jokingly changed it to each night). In other words, Dave.

That was the show in which Mary and I got to actually interact, and joke around, and sing duets together. It was the show during which our grandmother passed away. It was the show that we were allowed to cry during the last song (“I’ll Be Seeing You” — how can you NOT cry to that?), so Mary and I wept and wept over losing her. No acting needed.ย 

It was the show in which I had to sing pig latin. PIG LATIN.

It was the show in which countless ’40s songs were sung. It was the show we “took on the road” to a local library and an assisted living home or two to spread the cheer around. It was the show with “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy;” one of my all-time favorites.

It was the show in which I drank about 8-10 Cokes each performance with no bathroom break until it was over.

It was the show in which Dave and I met. We were both seeing other people, and we didn’t speak a whole heck of a lot offstage (except for a silly/snide remark here or there…I’m socially awkward), but we had a blast together onstage — and since we were allowed to improv, we still got to know each other pretty well from the start.

This was an important show. And it’s beyond awesome that the chalkboard will be a part of my current show, considering it’s my first show back in a couple of years and I’m enjoying it so much (and it doesn’t hurt that it’s frickin’ HYSTERICAL).

It definitely feels like returning home again, and something as small as this makes my heart swell.

SIDE NOTE: MOHAWK VALLEY PEEPS, THE SHOW OPENS THIS WEEKEND (March 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23 – Friday & Sundays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm). TICKETS ARE $12 ADULTS, $8 STUDENTS AT THE DOOR.ย 

Just in case, I like to mention that there’s a bit of “PG-13” (or maybe worse) language. No “F” words, but yeah…it’s not for kids. ๐Ÿ˜‰

A Valentine’s Day Look Back

Hey, folks! Happy Valentines Day! We’re setting aside our tradition of eating at Beardslee Castle (our go-to romantic locavore meal place, since it was where we had our wedding reception and it’s just so freaking awesome) in favor of a homemade, “adult” meal. Read: Mom’s watching the Hadman so that I can cook food that he doesn’t really eat (or, at least I don’t have to worry about whether he eats it or not); scallops provencal and a nice steak (surf ‘n turf, anyone?), probably with a bit of wine.

So. What’re YOU doing for the day? Nothing? Having a romantic dinner or watching a sappy movie? Watching your annoying daughter’s kid so that she can spend a couple of hours with her husband?

I really have no idea where this post is going to go today. From time to time, I have folks mention that they have a hard time finding their way around MAO (erm, the blog), although the “Archives” tab should help a bit with that. But, I thought it’d be interesting to “walk around” the ol’ joint and share some of my favorite moments. And, according to page views, a few reader favorites, as well.

Come along, won’t you?

Since it’s V-Day, and this is, of course, one of my all-time favorite posts, I thought I’d share my “it’s been 6 months and I finally got around to showing wedding pics” post. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll find reality is a harsh broad when you realize how many of our friend-couples aren’t together anymore. Ahhh, life. And I can’t believe that was 2011…seems like yesterday.ย 


While we’re at it, I would be remiss if I didn’t include a post about the Hadman. Because, of course, he’s everything.

Okay, more than one post (such a scary weekend!). Maybe three (such a fun weekend!). And the original post where I talked about breastfeeding issues…and announcing his birth.

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image 5585e-hadley on http://megactsout.com

And our other boys are also still tops with us, even with a kid in tow. I’ve shared about how we got each of them, but I think a brief kitty post like this fits the bill just fine. Just a blurb about their personalities and what we appreciate about each of their idiosyncrasies.

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image ada59-boys on http://megactsout.com

And, now for some of YOUR favorites (based on what my stats tell me).

BY FAR, my most-viewed post is about Overcoming Facebook Addiction. This is still an uphill battle for an addict like me, but I try to keep it at a minimum. And, not to make excuses, but this becomes a bigger challenge in the winter months when my mind and body go into hibernation mode. (Can’t wait to get outside with the monkey!)

In a case of “ya never know what people will like” lies my mantle-without-a-fireplace post…which should really just be called “hanging a shelf.”


Similarly random (and voyeuristic) is the showing of how horrific our bathroom started out. I recently found better “before” pictures that I’d like to show when all is said and done, but I really don’t want to call our bathroom “done” until I can get the shower surround completed. It’s about 90% done, in that case. ๐Ÿ™‚ (This is what I would call the “in-between” phase where we’d at least switched up the sink and mirror, etc.


Sadly, this next post has a ton of views, which makes me proud yet numb to think about. It’s about a few days that changed the way of life in our humble little towns. No pictures, just words. Very true, very broken words.

Aaaaand a trip down memory lane wouldn’t be complete without a breastfeeding post, right? But, this isn’t just ANY breastfeeding post. This is the ever-controversial (in my mind; nobody had anything negative to say — thank goodness) “I lost my baby weight thanks to breastfeeding” post in response to countless comments from folks (women) regarding how much weight I’d lost.


Last but not least, since our own Dorky Daddy’s birthday just happens to be two days after Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share my favorite gushingly corny post about him. Just for embarrassment’s sake.


Mind you, some of these old posts are from before I realized that small pictures kinda suck, so please be kind. The heart’s still there, and that’s what matters most.

What about you? Do you have a favorite old post? Are you surprised at how things have changed around here, or do you think they’re pretty much the same (just with three more cats and a kid)? Anything you want to read more (or less) about? I’m always open to suggestions. ๐Ÿ™‚

Facing Our Home’s Imperfections

I love our home. It’s our first. We went from separate apartments to, for a short time, one apartment, to this starter fixer-upper. It’s the place we became a family and learned how best to live together. Where we brought in one cat after another until, one day, we cautiously – anxiously – carried in a newborn in a carseat.

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image fcd4f-bwchair on http://megactsout.com
Sarah Beck Photography
and our pretty darn cool kitchen.

This is where he first smiled…gloriously rolled over on his protruding belly…danced like Fred Astaire (sort of)…tippy-toe walked…slept a full night…said anything resembling a real English word…got scolded for pulling one of those patient cats’ tails. This is his place. This is ours, and we love it.

But, we’ve always known it wasn’t our forever home. We’ve yet to find even a forever town or village. It has been a challenge – perhaps because we’ve been watching far too many Andy Hardy movies lately. There is no Carvel anymore. No white picket fences. No absolute security.

So, while we search and hunt and constantly adjust our mindsets, we take the bull by the horns (says the stubborn Taurus) and decide to take control of the factors that we do have control over. Namely, getting our current abode sellable.

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image 0b212-diningroom on http://megactsout.com
Walk-through day picture of the can’t-wait-to-paint-it dining room…

Ugh. When I say “I love my home”, I might want to attach a disclosure – I love it as a home, but as a house, it ain’t perfect. Hence our not staying here forever.

It is by far a different house from the one we purchased. Then, it was in pre-foreclose, so its pipes had burst and it was quite outdated. Some of our current, hopefully fixable quirks are thanks to those irresponsible owners. Paint – smeared on woodwork and a horrific red dining room – is my latest bane, but there are a dozen (that’s actually a conservative number) tiny issues from previous owners floating around.

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image d9815-bathroom1 on http://megactsout.com
What our bathroom project USED to look like…

Then there’s the age factor. Funny thing is, I’ve always been the sicko who’d love living in a 200-year-old house. Yes, I know the cost of upkeep is high. Yes, I realize that the issues are greater than a newer build. But, much as with adopting a shelter animal, there’s a sense of selfless pride that comes from saving a house from poorly executed modernization, or worse. The fact that you’re that house’s steward vs. owner is pretty rad. Bring on the crooked ceilings.

That said, ours is a 1925 build. Love that era. Post-WWI, pre-Depression. Lots of great details. (One set of built-ins clinched the deal for me; for Dave, it was the “front room” aka sun room.) Of course, it’s small – around 1,000 square feet. Closets are pretty small, too.

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image e61f0-hallway on http://megactsout.com

We do have a crooked factor. It’s darn near impossible to hang a shelf straight (although we’ve done pretty well a couple of times). We’re working to get our doors to close and shut. (It’s not being a mom that gives me zero privacy in the bathroom – it’s Winston + non-shutting doors.)

Paint is piled, so I’m going to be busting out my sander to take down some of the build-up on our kitchen cabinets before painting them (inside and out, God help me).

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image 310f6-kitchn on http://megactsout.com
From our walk-through. These aren’t nearly as grody.
The handle hardware is changed and it’s all been cleaned, but it needs a once-over again and, as mentioned, paint.

Then there are just those “lived here so long it’s hard to look at it with a fresh eye” things. Like, the aforementioned front room. It’s a bright, calming room full of windows and we can’t figure out how to best play it up. I think I may have an idea or two, but it’s not 100%. A few rooms have me stumped. Pinterest, here I come.

But, when we do leave, any of those quirks will fly out of my heart. All that will be left is the happiness that we’ve shared as a family here, along with those memories that happened in such fleeting moments. I know I’ll be quite practical about our pricing (our neighborhood is very working class), but will know that, no matter what we accept, it won’t be enough. That I’ll mostly be concerned that a nice family moves in – for the sake of our wonderful neighbors as well as the house, itself. That they’ll be able to appreciate it as much as we loved (and, some days, were frustrated by) it.

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image 2b771-hadmom2 on http://megactsout.com

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image 2e1ec-fathersdaypic on http://megactsout.com

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image c92eb-dsc04657 on http://megactsout.com
Wow. Okay, NOW I see how he was over ten pounds. My “see how fat I get” pregnancy pictures were taken in the hallway outside of our door, near my beloved built-ins.
And, yes, my eyes are BUGGIN’.

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image 72533-photo1 on http://megactsout.com
Where Dave learned to be a daddy…

As we roll along, I’ll make a wishlist for you of what we’d like in our new home. We like to think we’re not one of those high-maintenance HGTV couples (hopefully our realtor doesn’t think so!), and it sometimes bugs me when I’m reading what other bloggers want in a home — like, seriously, raise your hand if a multimedia entertainment room AND separate man cave are a must (not sure if it’s good or bad that you won’t be seeing much of your hubby…maybe good? Who knows) amidst two dozen other “absolute must-haves”. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

These guys get me. Thank yooooouuu, Buzzfeeeeeed!

Oh, and we also live in the Stone Age in our part of the country/state. We weren’t too affected by the housing bubble and its subsequent burst. That said, housing is supa dupa low in our county (like, a good house for under $100,000 – I kid you not). However, that brings up the idea of what type of area we want to raise our family. We’re not in the ghetto…but there are car break-ins all the time and drug crimes that were unheard of maybe 10 years ago. Not to mention, a recent article doesn’t paint our town in the best light (at the bottom…that little place you probably haven’t heard of…that’s where we live).

So, it’s tough to wrap one’s head around moving out of a relatively inexpensive (relative to, say, the 1800s…yeah, that’s our competition in the housing market) county for a nearby one (again, while my brain is in “get a good deal” mode) while paying up to 60% more for the house. I mean, as I mention to Dave quite regularly — some of these crimes are totally random and can happen anywhere and at any time, so who’s to say we move and will be completely untouchable?

It’s a good thing we have those guard cats…

Conversation to be continued, but any thoughts are (as always) welcome below!

Whoomp, Hair It Is

I don’t do this. I don’t look in a mirror much. Once my makeup’s faded for the day, I tend not to reapply. The second I get home, I make a dash for the shower (alone time!!! Well, except for the cats) and sweatpants. (Don’t worry; I don’t wear them in public.) And I hadn’t gotten a professional haircut in about a year.

My mom trimmed it for me a couple of times when I asked her, but she’s not a hairdresser anymore and I’m sure she wanted me to go to someone who could do something beyond trimming the split ends.

So, I finally took the challenge (okay, I waited a few weeks before finally getting up the nerve) and called one of the few hair places I feel totally comfortable going.

Side tangent: Is it just me, or do beauticians seem to need to have built-in professionalism classes in their training? I’ve been anything from completely ignored, talked over, texted over, sneered at, and any number of other unpleasant things. My girl this time was great and tried to converse, which was lovely. Maybe I’m just a poor socializer these days, but if I’m not talking about the local bar scene (and I clearly don’t spray tan like you, ladies), I don’t exist.

Blah. *shakes it off* Okay, all done.

So, yeah, I got it cut. Here are some just fantastic…grade A…couldn’t-be-better iPhone pics of what I looked like before…

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image  on http://megactsout.com

…and after.

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image  on http://megactsout.com

I know, they’re both poorly lit selfies that are hard to see. Let’s just say that I had fallen victim to the dreaded hair-tie. And when I make a ponytail or bun, it isn’t instantly cute in a messy, sweet little way. I tend to have a wayward bump (cowlick much?) or my bun comes out too tight (Why, yes, I am a librarian…why do you ask?) or so loose it falls out. And, no, the other accessories out there made for these particular purposes don’t work. My hair rejects anything non-hair-tie.

So, before was a ponytail. SUPER long and uneven and just bad. Draggin’ down my game, I guess.

After, it wasn’t styled per se (it was more of a cut and blow-out), but felt way lighter, had some funky layers (but not too funky; I recall saying, “I’d like some layers, but not, like, Joan Jett layers.” And I now realize that she graduated two years ago and probably has no clue who that is. D’oh.), and I can definitely work with it. Winning!

And the best part? Just like post-haircut last year, Hadley was the first to notice. He came right over and, while I was untying his boot, he started running his hand through my shorter front layers.

So. Sweet.

I may have to do this more often. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Oh, and it only cost 20 bucks (plus tip), so it easily came out of my “cash allotment.”

Reminiscent Smells

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image  on http://megactsout.com

Thanks to some insanely gorgeous weather over the weekend, I got to paint our back deck. Unfortunately, I need to slap another coat on the floor boards and do the trellis (which will undoubtedly take another several hours) if weather permits, but that’s not what this post is about. ๐Ÿ˜‰

While hunched over, rolling paint and letting my mind half wander, I was suddenly struck by a distinct odor. It wasn’t at all a bad smell, or a wonderful smell, but it was pleasant and warm and so darn familiar. And it had little to do with the paint.

I’ve always had a super sensitive nose (especially versus my average to below-average sight and hearing) and, as many do, I’ve always attached memories to the smells.

One of my first memories were of my dad’s beard. Sure, I remember how scruffy and downright painful it felt when he hugged me close with the stubble rubbing on my soft little face. Mostly, though, I recall his sweet-smelling Old Spice cologne — not too much, not too little — after a shave. Those memories are all I have of him anymore, and I cherish it. That being said, I HATE the smell of Old Spice now. It’s just too bitter a smell. (Not literally.)

I remember what our favorite dog, Brie, smelled like. When you stuffed your face in her super-soft black fur and fell into a nap. So fresh yet earthy, with dry flakes of white skin dotting the black. Then, the distinctly goopy smell that accompanied her in-need-of-a-cleaning ears. Ick. Poor thing.

But, the most important smells that I hold closest to my heart were those that wafted from my mom’s parents’ house. After Dad passed, we spent a hell of a lot of time there, whether as a family unit or one-on-one. It was like stepping back in time to a simpler place, where the structure of certain known rules and uncomplicated fun had a major calming effect.

The house itself gave forth scents that I’ve never again experienced anywhere else, excepting for those rare, brief “is there a ghost about?” moments. Grandpa’s basement workshop (and the room with the bar and pool table that we played on, under, and around) wreaked of dusty sweet sawdust and musty coolness. Grandma’s pantry hit you in the face with pungent spices far stronger than any at our house of some long-since-spilled herb or spice; maybe nutmeg? Clove? I always thought about it when we discussed the spice trade in Social Studies. I loved sticking my head in that cupboard.

Of course, there was also the ever-present smell of smoke, which somehow didn’t seem to overtake the house. Grandma was known for her unfiltered Camel addiction, which she gave up only after being permanently hospitalized after a heart operation. (She famously said that her doctor told her it would be BAD for her to quit. Scared, we tended to believe her.) Being both bulldog and nurturer, she would notoriously blow it in your direction when you started winning at gin rummy; I think she was hoping it would burn our eyes and lower our game. Tricks she undoubtedly learned in the Marines on Parris Island.

Grandpa went through his bouts with tobacco, as well. He had long since quit smoking (and quite easily, which I admired), but at times would sneak chewing tobacco (which he hid under the driver’s side seat of his car and told us “not to tell Grandma”) and, others, openly smoke a pipe. I so loved the bittersweet smell of a pipe that I smoked one for about a semester in college. Yes, seriously. It was the smell of the thing, and the memory soothed me.

Their breezeway, too, contained a distinct, nice smell which led to an earthy, wet garage and second work area for Grandpa. He built a kennel with a little pass-through (which we kids used as much as our beloved border collie, Bri…said “Br-EYE” ;-)) with an abrasively sweet-smelling, ever-present leaf pile — one of my all-time favorite smells.

I still recall vividly the imaginative games my sister and I would play in their massive backyard. We would collect pine cones and acorns, pretending that we lived in the wilderness, sitting on the soft bed of pine needles under perfectly-sized trees. That same timeless smell would get kicked about when we took “nature walks” with Grandpa behind our nearby elementary school (always so much more special to visit there with him than with any classmates or teacher). It was what I imagined it to be like when the “Indians” lived there, long before us, running amongst the birch. I’m not sure if the locals referred to that hill as “Mount Suribach” (a slightly altered reference to Mt. Suribachi, the Japanese hill the Marines famously took) or if it was just my grandfather’s nickname for it, but it was a glimpse into his past. It feels like we were born knowing about his involvement in the war, without actually knowing.

I could talk about the smells of the molasses cookies we helped to bake or the laundry detergent we helped to pour, but it all just leads down the same road. It was a home away from home that was harder to leave behind when it was sold just last year than our true childhood home (which was sold shortly after my graduation from high school, with all of its ghosts still haunting us and all the music we filled it with still ringing softly).

And that smell — the smell of THEM — hit me like a slap as I rolled and slathered that blue-gray paint into those wood crevices. My first thought, as with any time the smell finds me, is whether Grandpa is okay. There’s no point in worrying. We know that his time will come sooner rather than later (he’s doing okay in his assisted living facility, but the dementia is setting in and he’s by far not the vibrant character that once protected and guided me). But the concern still arises.

Then, I wonder if it’s Grandma, or any number of past loved ones, reaching out to me in a moment of solitude. I was recently reminded that it’s the 5th anniversary of her passing, so this could very well be the case.

All I know is that I’m grateful to be reminded, at the most mundane of moments, by the simplest of smells, that I was a lucky, lucky child.

TJ to the Maxx

First of all, let me give you a quick update on how our debt diet is going. In a word, great. I actually have been experiencing overlap in the incidental area (which is okay with the holidays coming up; I’m sure it’ll get used!) since I’ve pretty much only purchased “needs” lately. It’ll be a learning process for me to actually allow myself to occasionally do or get something for myself. Like…y’know…a haircut. That, I need.

I was out and about in Utica for a day of developin’ my profession recently, and I stopped for a few necessities at Price Chopper and Pet Smart (yes, cat food is a necessity! Don’t want Kitty Protective Services coming for a visit!). While in the area, I found myself glancing at TJ Maxx. A lot.

This, like eying Target, can prove fatal. It’s SO easy to spend a kazillion dollars on all the loveliness these places dole out. Must. Stay. Sttrrrrrong.

So, I decided that I’d allow myself to go in, but not buy anything unless it was a Christmas present (which I’ve got money budgeted for). There are some AWESOME gift ideas at a TJ Maxx, folks, just give it a chance. But, guess what. I didn’t leave with one darn thing…and it felt pretty good.

I did, however, lurk around corners waiting for people to clear an aisle for me to take pictures of stuff that I liked. That way, I could chat about what I like without actually taking the stuff home. If I find myself dreaming about something and envisioning where it should live, MAYBE I’ll bring my cash allotment in for a visit. Maybe.

So, here’s some of the stuff I found myself drooling over…

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image  on http://megactsout.com
I have far tooย  much glass storage ware cluttering our kitchen shelves…but if you’re on the lookout for some, check out the Maxx. Oh, and The Christmastree Shoppe is good for this, too. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ย 
(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image  on http://megactsout.com
ย  SILVER!!! And for a closer look…
(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image  on http://megactsout.com
I was SO close to buying one or two of these (look at that PRICE!) but realized I didn’t have an immediate place for it. Wop wop.
(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image  on http://megactsout.com
The same goes for this round, adorably-patterned box. No purpose, not gonna get it.

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image  on http://megactsout.com

I almost got this awesome blue container/vase (especially considering its size at $10) but eventually decided to walk away. #juststepaway

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image  on http://megactsout.com

ย  And my weakness? Pillows. So proud that I walked away with NADA.

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image  on http://megactsout.com
I always enjoy checking out the furniture they have in hopes of one day replacing my eyesore of an armchair (still didn’t get the Target chair; the quality wasn’t enough for my everyday sittin’). They didn’t have a lot this day, though. This chair came the closest.
(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image  on http://megactsout.com

Need baskets?? We’ve got baskets!! And at incredible prices. Needless to say, I didn’t need any…this time.

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image  on http://megactsout.com
ย I know it’s not a homegood, but I was shocked to find some pretty well-priced Melissa and Doug toys. Hadley’s not quite old enough for these yet, but I can’t WAIT to build him a play kitchen (real men cook) in a little while…and fill it with some of these things. (Although that “Fruit cocktail in light syrup” is questionable.)

Speaking of toys…CHRISTMAS!!! (Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image  on http://megactsout.com

Loving on that deer…and even the huge bronze turkey next door to Mr. Reindeer. ย 
(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image  on http://megactsout.com
ย …and wreaths!!! I’m kind of surprised at how real (and well-priced) these looked while standing there. I’m considering heading back to see what they have left. Look at that jingle bell one on the right, and the snow-dappled pine cone one!

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image  on http://megactsout.com

Vintage Santa art!! I totally should’ve gotten one of these to surprise Dave with. He’s all about the vintage these days. However, I couldn’t figure out where I’d put ’em. Isn’t that always the key?

But, yeah. Mr. Red-and-White may come home, if he’s still there.

ย (Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image  on http://megactsout.com
ย  Check out the array of trees! Rustic wood, sparkly winterland, and seashell…whuh?? And the pokey shells on those deer? Holy crap. So cool. Way too cool for me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

(Wordy) Wordless Wednesday - Chalk It Up - image  on http://megactsout.com

Last but not least…look at the awesome guy gifts! Dave got himself a couple of these when he got his new job (with his own office) and I’ve been in awe of them ever since. Awesome for the holidays, folks. I’m hoping Santa will bring him one or two more.

I also find boxed work shirts for Dave here, as well as the occasional pair of jeggings (okay, just the one pair) or handbag…um, for me, not Dave. But, on this particular day I finally left after getting a contact high when a fellow patron walked by. WHOA. This is one classy joint, folks. **Side note: The first TJ Maxx I ever went to was down in Westchester County, so needless to say, they’re not all like this.** **Side note #2: I want a Home Goods. And an IKEA. And a Whole Foods. Is that too much to ask?**

So, what about you? Do you do the Maxx? (I will NOT refer to myself as a…you know what they call TJ Maxx shoppers on their commercials. Yeah. I’m not one of those.) By the way, I wasn’t perked by their company to write about this. It’s just an anecdote by a person they don’t know exists. ๐Ÿ™‚ Or do you have a different place that you like visit to drool all over stuff then leave? Or is that just me?

For Those Times When Facebook Gets You Down

Sorry, no “Foodie Friday” here today. I worked some basic magic with apples, but it wasn’t anything special enough to chat about. Otherwise, life’s full of musicals and family and Christmas shopping and all the other wonderful things that this time of year brings. So, my post can staaaaaart….NOW!

I have what I like to call a lukewarm like-hate relationship with Facebook. I’ve talked about my attempts to cut down (or *gasp* even cut out) my use, to no avail. After all, it’s the best way I have to let people know that this blog even exists. It is what it is.

It’s easy to hate the thing. It has become a place of hatred…a means to bully…a way to say the most scathingly cruel comment in relative anonymity. It’s a spiteful place full of leftists and Tea Partiers who care not whose brain they make explode with their unreliably-sourced opinions. I could clearly go on…



Today. (It’s Halloween, as I type this.) Today, I was made aware of the uplifting side of Facebook. The side that makes you despise people a little less. The side that makes you grateful (yes, grateful) for the chance to connect to these people I probably wouldn’t be able to communicate with…ever. Sure, some of my “friends” I actually get to see regularly. Still fewer I get to see on a rare treat of an occasion. But, then there are those that, without Facebook, I literally wouldn’t know existed anymore.

Colleagues from jobs past. Teachers who touched my life in an inexplicably real, unforgettable way. Long-lost relatives whom I’m glad to know — for real, KNOW — just by seeing their regular day-to-day thoughts. Those friends from high school and college who were FAMILY (not “like” family, but FAMILY — we knew everything about each other, even if we didn’t hang out as besties). Those dear family friends whom I had thought melted into the recesses of my bittersweet memories. Again, I could clearly go on…

It was a simple moment. I had posted a collage of Hadley’s Charlie Brown “costume” (a yellow polo shirt with the Charlie Brown zig-zag and black pants and sneakers, and a Snoopy stuffed animal; I wanted to make the shirt, but it was impossible to find a plain yellow one!), and one by one, the “likes” started slowly coming in.

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Sure, I’ve had plenty of “likes” on posts before, especially Hadley ones and profile pic changes. Heck, when he was born, he got TONS of FB love. But, for some reason, it hit me hard how many people think my son is as great as we think he is. (I know he’s not perfect, but he IS freaking awesome.)

Awesome former students…who still remember me as much as I remember them.

Friends of my husband’s who have since become MY friends, even vicariously.

Parents of friends.


My SISTER’S co-workers.

My 9th (or was it 8th?) grade math teacher. The one who got me the 91 on the Regents.

Cousins. Aunts. My sister’s in-laws. Students-who-were-like-daughters.

Friends who started as farmers’ market buddies.

People who remember me as the annoying little sister following around the bigger kids in marching band.

Friends I’ve had since 2nd grade.

People I met through every job I’ve ever had, who are still kind enough to keep up on my goings-on.

Dave’s former co-workers.

My kindergarten teacher. Oh, the awesome memories with her! Those were the days.

My brother, whose “like” on ANYTHING sends my heart soaring. He’s a busy guy, and doesn’t dole out “likes” for just any old thing.

My godmother, who moved away to Florida when I was in junior high. She was like another (cooler) mother, and her son was like a best friend and brother rolled into one.

People I acted with onstage YEARS ago who have since moved far, far away.

The list just keeps on comin’. I realized that these people are a part of my history in one way or another. Some, I don’t speak with today, but past negative experiences have washed away to a simple, “Oh, it’s nice to see that she’s a happy mom of some beautiful kids today.” Others, it’s awesome and uplifting to reconnect with.

All I know is that it filled me with some happiness. For once, Facebook was able to provide me with some positive perspective rather than the general, “What’s wrong with the world?” thoughts that usually pop up.

I still try to limit how much time I give to Facebook, because that’s what it is — handing time over that I’ll never get back which, for the most part, consists of anger or hurt or rudeness.

Except when it involves George Takei. Or a little boy’s Charlie Brown costume.

Now It’s My Turn to Take a Quiz

To take a break from the plethora of recipe posts I’ve been piling on you folks, I happened upon Honeybee in the City (almost wrote “Honey-Boo-Boo”…which I blame on Sir Paul, not actual viewing of the ridiculousness) and her fun little quiz. So, of course, I thought I’d take it! Nice change of pace.

If you’re a blogger, feel free to copy-and-paste. Oh, and write in the comments that ya did it! I’d love to see your answers…

1. What is the first thing you do when you wake up?

That depends upon which time you’re talking about. The baby wakes up anytime from 3:30am to 5:15am for his first “feeding” of the day (he actually goes back to sleep afterwards). Most of the time, I’m able to get back to sleep at this point, but since I have to grab my phone at that point to set the alarm (I charge it the rest of the night…then Dave’s goes off at 5:30…and mine goes off at 6…then the snooze button ensues), I will *once in a blue moon* check FB. But, most of the time I ogle the comfort that is QVC (or PBS, if something good’s on) until I fall back asleep.

Oh, and I use the bathroom at some point there, if ya must know. ๐Ÿ˜‰

2. What is the 3rd picture on your phone? Share it!ย 

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Flooring. Sexy.

3. What TV show are you most excited about returning this Fall?

Eh, maybe just Parks and Rec. Otherwise, I’m excited for some new ones; we can’t believe it! Namely, The Michael J. Fox Show, The Goldbergs (I know! I’m surprised, too!), and a handful more. Oh, and I’m into theย  new “Genealogy Roadshow” idea on PBS, although I’m not sure it’ll last.

4. What is something really popular that you secretly (or not so secretly) loathe?

Probably a lot of things. I’m not really into “current” music (it’s a miracle I could choose any current TV shows, honestly). Maybe just the general infectious entitlement that seems to have society in its clutches…that, I loathe.

I’m sure I’ll come up with something way better in the middle of a deep sleep….

5. Do you have any pets? Tell us about them! Bonus points for pictures.

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and, last but not least, Winston (aka WeeWee)

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All together now…

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6. If you could put together one outfit that represents you perfectly, what would it be?

Favorite Outfit

Thar she blows! I’d actually love to find coral flats like that (it’s by far my favorite color right now), but my favorite outfit *that I actually own* is a pair of skinny jeans (I know. I can’t believe I said that, either), a t-shirt or cami, a blazer (this time of year, a corduroy one or a more “professional” suit jacket will do…sleeves pushed up a la Don Johnson…again, can’t believe I just said that), my favorite super-high-but-not-super-tall brown riding boots, and a “statement necklace” of some sort. (Here, I’d do the coral shoes with the navy necklace, brown boots with the coral). Sometimes a scarf (neutral with texture or a not-too-crazy pattern) thrown in on chilly/need a shot in the arm days.

As if I’m into fashion! Psht.

7. What is your favorite adult beverage?

I so infrequently partake these days!!! So…any wine that doesn’t take itself too seriously (sweeter side, please!) or an amaretto sour. Beer, anything off the Ommegang list. But anything, as long as the baby’s down for the night.

8. What is your favorite guilty pleasure?

Dave says I should mention the occasional “19 Kids and Counting” viewing, but that’s like my QVC-watching; it’s really just there to have something “calming” on in the background. Generally, I’d say a handful of classic films that I watch again and again, and magazines that don’t make me think too awful much.

9. What are 3 positive words to describe you?

Intelligent, silly (I also take that as meaning “funny”), creative. Again, thanks for the help, Dave!

10. What is your favorite Friday afternoon/evening activity?

Not showering. Seriously, I usually shower every afternoon/evening when I get home only to find myself on a dead run to get dinner and everything else underway before the boys get home. Fridays, I tend to say, “Screw it, I’ll shower tomorrow morning like everyone else” and get a few extra moments to breathe, reflect on the past week, and do some cleaning so that I REALLY look forward to getting up (eventually) in the morning.

11. A day in the life: What does you typical day look like?

After the whole BFing wicked early thing, I finally get up a little after 6 to help get lunches together, the baby ready, and the boys out the door. I then get myself ready, grab breakfast, and eat it while doing my daily phone call with Mom. I head into work shortly after 8 (we’re technically supposed to be there at 8:30), then the day’s schedule depends on what day on our 6-day cycle it happens to be. Some are crazy busy and I have a hard time sitting down for a lunch while others allow me a “break” here and there to eat and shelve books and catch up on inter-library loans.

School’s over at 3:30, but like most of my colleagues, I stay until after 4. I generally get home between 4 and 4:45, feed the cats their snack, pump, shower, work on laundry, and get dinner underway.

The boys get home anytime after 5:30, at which time we play, have dinner (while a) listening to an old radio show or Pandora station, b) watching Wheel and Jeopardy, or c) just talking). Then, it’s Hadley’s kitchen sink bath time (still), followed by crawling up the stairs to hear our stories at 8 or so. He’s usually down by 8:30 or so, at which time Dave and I work on our own projects or catch up on stuff. We hit the sack around…eh, 10:30 if we’re lucky. Needless to say, it’s getting to feel later and later, LOL.

12. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

England…or Canada…or Ireland. Y’know. England or some place that has been under its rule. (Although France and the Netherlands are up my alley, philosophically.) Stateside, some place like VT or western Mass.

13. You’ve got a whole day to yourself…what will you do?

Depends on what work I have to do!!! If nothing, there will be a constant stream of old movies on in the background (unless I decide to actually GO do something…ha, no) while I work on several writing projects. Wow, that sounds so boring.

14. Dream job?

Writing. Or acting. Or singing. Or puppy hugging. But something that Hadley could tag along for would be sweet.

15. Least favorite chore?

Hmm…I don’t LOVE many chores, but I guess there’s nothing so bad I won’t do it. Maybe…oh, yes, garbage. Dave’s my garbage man, and I love him for it.

16. When do you most feel like a rock star?

When all the books on the library cart are re-shelved. Or when Hadley sleeps the whole night through. Or when I wake up thinking, “Aw, crap, it’s Sunday” only to realize…yep…it’s totally Saturday.

17. What is something you are currently trying to improve within yourself?

Finishing what I start, allowing myself more time for creative projects (tough one) and not beating myself up quite as much.

Mesothelioma Awareness Day

You may be wondering why I’m writing on a non-Monday, Wednesday or Friday (my usual posting days).

Well, I received a sweet email from a kind blog reader named Heather who shared her harrowing story of cancer survival with me. Needless to say, I was touched. Who among us hasn’t been touched by cancer of one form or another? So, when she asked if I’d help her get the word out about Mesothelioma Awareness Day today (and to spread some hope — one grim prognosis and 7 years later, she is a survivor!)

Her goal is to reach 7,200 social media shares. Please help us out! ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s the link for her page on the Mesothelioma web site:

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Knowing the exposure that my stepfather had to asbestos, through his work on construction sites and other plumbing projects, and that he’s had a lung growth monitored for many years, this hits home for me (as it does to many others, I’m sure). Please take a moment to visit the site and especially check out her video. If it raises awareness, great! If nothing else, maybe it’ll be just a simple pause and reminder to appreciate the good in your life.

Have a great Thursday!