Saturday, October 24, 2009


I'll just come right out and say it: Halloween is my very least favorite..., um, time of the year (it's not really a holiday is it?). And there are several reasons for this - but I won't go into them now. However, I do have to say that I love the spooky shadows cast by my new lighted twig pumpkin (I need to figure out how to hide that cord though!).

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing

Even though we had a great time on our trip to Connecticut and New York, our travel arrangements were a real pain in the rear! It was a really powerful reminder to me of what can happen when one element of a great plan goes wrong.

I haven't even tried to add up the number of hours that Starfish, Gigi, and I spent waiting in an airport, train, or subway station . Let's just say, that the majority of the photos that we took for the trip were actually taken in one of those three places.

It all started when, just as we were boarding our first flight (at 7 am!) we realized that Sophie had forgotten her insulin. So we missed that flight and tried to get on any other flight. I learned never to fly on a Friday! EVERYTHING was booked solid! We ended up not getting to New Haven until 10 o'clock that night! (that's about 15 hours of flying and waiting)

On the way home, we were to catch an 8:05 am flight out of new York. I was pretty nervous about making it there on time, so I gave myself almost 3 hours to go the 60 miles. Well, I've never driven in New York at that time of day, and of course, we missed the flight (just barely!)

This led to the same chain of events - sitting, waiting, and hoping that the next flight would have 3 empty seats. We made it to Baltimore, but couldn't make it all the way to Raleigh until the next morning.

Fortunately Uncle Chad lives nearby and came to our rescue and took us to his house for the night. We enjoyed visiting with him, Laura, and their dogs and cats. (I'm so glad we didn't take the flight connecting in Chicago!)

The ideal caption for this photo would be: "Trying not to be Crabby in Maryland even though we got stuck here overnight with no luggage on poor Gracie's Birthday!!" but that's just a little too long, don't ya think?

We finally made it home, about 30 hours after we first set out on our journey. We learned that airport seating, when you can find it, is NOT that comfortable, and that moving walkways can provide a good hour of entertainment for 2 bored girls!

People Should Smile More

One thing that struck me while riding miles and miles on trains and subways in New York was how people could be riding packed together at high speeds on these mass transit systems, yet insist on avoiding eye contact! I did an experiment to see how many people I could get to look me in the eye. Not many!

Also, and I know I am a bad example of this - but people really should smile more!! During our trip to the crowded Northeast, I realized how few of the thousands of people I saw were actually smiling. And I noticed that those who did smile, seemed so much nicer to be around than the rest.

I have to mention 'Oma', our new adopted Grandma from Germany. (Her real name is Doris, but she says "Call me Oma (that's what they call the grandmas in Germany). Now, we met Oma on our first full day at the Ronald McDonald House. She had been there 5 weeks with her great grandson Aiden, who was having heart surgery. Even though we were basically 'just passing each other' since she was leaving soon and we were just there for a very short stay, she took the time to talk to us, learn our names, and was just generally a joy to be around, and with her German accent, so fun to talk to!

The girls and I agreed that she looked a whole lot like their own 'Nannie', and she was so thrilled to hear that! She treated us like long lost family, and even though we spent very little time with her, the girls plan to keep in touch, and I am sure they will remember her.

Oma was such an example to me of the power of a smile, a happy countenance, and loving spirit that I decided that I would try really hard to be more like her....and smile more. : )

Monday, October 19, 2009

Art, Science, History, and a Little Home-Ec

This was a really educational trip for us: Mom, Starfish, and Gigi. Usually Starfish and I go to her appointments at Yale alone. But this time we took Gigi for a little birthday trip. It sure was fun to have a sister along for the ride!

Along with some amazing sightseeing, shopping, and culinary experiences (Vietnamese anyone?) we got some educational opportunities that would make any private-school-tuition-paying parent positively green with envy. (Thus I had absolutely NO guilt whatsoever about the 3 days lost from school!) And we accomplished all this in a VERY short time and managed a big 6-hour doctor's visit plus a little relaxation too! Here are the highlights:

BODIES REVEALED exhibit at the South Street Seaport - perfect for my aspiring doctor, (above).

What a piece of work is man! How like an angel, how like a god. The beauty of the world! ~William Shakespeare

This was the most amazing museum exhibit I have ever seen. I can't even describe the feelings I had as I was able to see, up close, and in such extraordinary detail, how our bodies were created and function.

The specimens were real human bodies. It was hard not to think about the fact that these were real people, just like us. We all learned so much!

I am humbled and in awe of this gift of a body that we have been given while we spend our time on Earth. It is truly wondrous and magnificent!

at the Yale Art Gallery - perfect for my little artist.

The Yale Art Gallery has lots of wonderful things to see. But Mrs. Delaney's Flowers was the headlining exhibit while we were there. Apparently Mrs. Delaney was a very artistic woman who had mastered all of the "leisure arts". Some of these beautiful flowers were created by cutting and arranging tiny paper pieces. Others were embroidered onto a black velvet background and used for dresses or in screens. She took here inspiration directly from nature. I was amazed at what she created without any patterns or color charts.

While we couldn't take photos inside the gallery, I took this at the entrance. This is a massive display of greenery and dried flowers that seem to float in the air to soaring heights. The picture doesn't really do it justice. I walked away wondering how I could duplicate the floating flower effect in my house...

GROUND ZERO at the World Trade Center Site.

We were blown here!

This was not on our list of places to visit, simply because I didn't think we would have time. But when we were trying to figure out the right direction to get to the Bodies exhibit, the wind was so strong and cold that we couldn't really wank in any other direction than the one that brought us here.

I didn't even know we were that close to it!

Unfortunately, we weren't able to see much because the area is all fenced off. But we saw the pictures of what the final monument will look like one day and see the cranes and all the work going on to create it..

Most importantly, I was able to feel that this was indeed a very special place. And feel the hope that comes from seeing the people going on with their lives yet never forgetting...


We finally got the chance to explore around Yale and had a good time even though the weather was bad.

A Yale sorority brought cake decorating supplies over to the Ronald McDonald House and the girls had fun decorating a cake--and probably ate way too much frosting in the process!

Monday, October 12, 2009


Starfish decided to run Cross Country during seventh grade way back at the beginning of sixth grade. I don't know what caused her to make this decision...our family isn't the most sport-oriented. It occurred to me that our kids might turn out a little weird - not having had the exposure to sports the way other kids are. No ball games dominate our TV - We don't really go to sporting events-although I am thinking we should.... And neither Big T or I played serious sports growing up--both being raised by cerebral "sciency" type fathers.

Wherever she got the notion, I am really proud of her for taking on the challenge. Of course there was the initial "self-conscious in the uniform" thing - I don't think she's ever worn shorts that short or a tank top before. Then there was the "I'll be embarrassed if I can't finish the race or come in last" thing. I sometimes forget that little things like that can seem like really big things to a quickly growing ,"all knees and elbows," preteen.

But it's more of a challenge for her than for other kids. She has to be aware of how she feels before, during, and after a practice or race. What's her blood sugar? When did she eat last? When and how much insulin has she had? Does she need to eat now before she runs? Does she have a snack nearby? Is someone there to help her if she needs it?...It's a little much for a 12 year old.

Well, she wasn't able to finish her first race, and she did come in last once, but she has been able to take it all in stride. Each race gets a little easier. She had decided that she wanted to participate in Cross Country before she had diabetes. I am so glad she didn't let it stop her, and hope it never will.

Cleaning Up

Total: $38.79

OK, it's another bargain bragging blog post, but this time I'm really proud--and I'm DONE shopping for the week!

It's been a while since I seriously used coupons to try to get our food budget down. But while combing through our September bank statement I added up how much I'd spent on groceries and household goods. It wasn't pretty. Way more than I thought.

I researched how much couponers claim they can feed a family on and tried to emulate their numbers: shooting for $300/month or less for our family of 6. That seemed a little tough, but I decided to take on the challenge - our Christmas trip is just around the corner...

I can't believe I finally did it...actually bought a week's worth of groceries (and a bunch of cleaning stuff) for our big family (plus 2 cats) for less than $50. I've gotten great deals on a couple of things to stash away for later - but never a whole week's-worth of things we'll use immediately.
I posted this photo because everything in it cost me only 39 cents at CVS. Yup, six 2-packs of razors was what I bought. The other stuff--halloween candies, lotion, a pill-counter, and a book of coupons was in a gift-pack that the cashier gave me...she said "here's your prize!" I don't know what it was for - I didn't see her give anyone else a "prize" - maybe it was for being the biggest cheapskate of the day.