Many, many pictures to be processed and posted soon.

Our trip down was miserable and long. Bad weather for two days in Dallas messed up all flights in or out. So, we spent a "lovely" seven hours in the Philly airport, trying to get out Wednesday night. That night we crashed at a Holiday Inn Express (I feel so much smarter, now), and picked up the rental and headed down to Burleson the next morning.

Thursday morning we visited with Grandma C at the nursing home before Em and I trekked up to D/FW to pick up Mom and Aunt Deb (delayed by an entire day). We got significantly lost and then found our way back to get them. After that we headed over roughly half an hour to the Dallas Galleria for the American Girl Bistro for dinner. Much grumbling, irritation and general fatigue later, we left without any food. We lucked upon a great restaurant (Pappadeaux's) on the way home and had some wonderful seafood and oversized desserts. Stopped in to see G-ma briefly before heading home.

Friday was bright and sunny again. We hung out a bit and then went shopping for summer clothes for Emily (happy birthday from Mom (not me, that's my mom, her grandma...) all this was even confusing in person ... "Mom, Grandma, Great-Grandma" etc). We picked up G-ma at the home (Uncle Ray met us there with Jonny and his girlfriend, Jenny) and headed to Sake. We had a fabulous time being entertained by (and eating) Japanese hibachi cooking. The chef guy paid particular attention to our little birthday girl, which was sweet. Played some Wii that night and crashed.

Saturday was a more-eventful-than-it-needed-to-be trip to the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens. Our two cars got separated and we (Uncle Ray, Jonny, Em & I) feared the others would never find us. Plus ... they had all the picnic lunch in their car. We finally hooked up about an hour later. One wonderful picnic later, we visited the butterflies in the conservatory and then sort of split up again for walking around through the gardens. Jonny had to take flower pictures for a school project, and was wow-ed by my camera's macro feature (his didn't have it, and it was frustrating trying to focus for him). He wound up giving his camera to Emily, much to her delight. I think he's now in the market for a Canon PowerShot. We had steaks at Logan's Restaurant for dinner, then dropped G-ma back off and colored eggs at home.

Sunday was comparatively cold (high around 52* and breezy). Aftyer more Wii-ing (Em is hooked!) We "ladies" all went to visit G-ma, while Jonny and Uncle Ray headed over for baseball practice or maybe a Father-Son scrimmage (if they got enough dads). They called and said there was going to be a game after all, so we went and caught some of the game. We saw Jonny make a great game-winning catch. Woo! We drove around a bit trying to find something good for dinner, and wound up getting some great Mexican food. Yum! More Wii and some board games that night.

Monday was our last real day. We visited with G-ma again with cupcakes for Em's birthday. Em opened presents and Mom showed 2 hours (!!!) of pictures on the nursing home big TV. After that we were pretty drained, and frankly I wasn't too disappointed that the local mini golf (which Em wanted to do on her birthday) was closed. We hit some sales at the Hobby Lobby, dropped Mom and Aunt Deb at home and drove out to pick up Jonny after baseball practice. Everyone met up at the house and we hit Sonic for dinner (Em's birthday dinner request). Back at home we saw Christy (finally! yay!) and had cupcakes and sherbet, singing Happy Birthday and all that good stuff.

Tuesday morning we pretty much got up, finished packing and headed out. We volunteered to be bumped (and they even asked for more volunteers), but they didn't end up needing us. Too bad...those $150 vouchers would have gone a looong way toward a return trip to Texas this summer.

I really want to get back as soon as possible. Em and Jonny got along so well. I really would love it if the cousins would really have a relationship of some sort. We'll see....



Heebie Jeebies

Em and I are flying to Texas tonight for a long Easter weekend with relatives down there.

So, naturally, the first news story I hear when I begin my usual commuting-with-NPR drive this morning is .... all about how the FAA has been "too cozy" with the airlines it regulates. And how 4" fuselage cracks were recently discovered on some of Southwest's Boeing fleet.

Now, we're flying American on a McDonnell Douglass, but still ... heebie jeebies, man! Not the news story you want to start your day with.

In other news, I'm mourning the loss of Sir Arthur C. Clarke, may he rest in peace. Some of my favorite Clarke quotes include:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. (Clarke's third law)
The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible. (Clarke's second law)

... and finally ...

When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. (Clarke's first law)



Minor Injury

So, yesterday while slicing and chopping veggies for a fabulous salad I discovered on The Pioneer Woman Cooks, I managed to mandoline-slice off the end of my right thumb.

Yeah, I know. It's pretty bad. But it actually sounds worse than it is.

Anyway, Joe made me go to the emergency room for it1. They pretty much treated me like, "What do you expect us to do about that???" Which, frankly, is what I expected.

The doctor said if the bit (about the size of a pencil eraser) had been partially still attached, they'd have stitched it back down, but as it was ... I paid a $25 co-pay for some antibiotic ointment and a Band-aid.

And, it wasn't even a nice fingertip Band-aid with proper bandaging capabilities. No. It's one of those 3x5" mega-Band-aids. They wrapped it (quite painfully) over the end of my thumb and down the sides. Then they sort of wrapped the sides around together. It sticks out ridiculously on both sides of my thumb. Adding literal insult to literal injury, the orderly joked, "Aww...it has little ears! You could draw a face on it!"


It stopped throbbing sometime overnight. And today I can actually bear to have it below the level of my heart (for which my other four right-hand fingers are extremely grateful). But I think it's going to be quite awhile before I'm Band-aid free. But I'm definitely going to the drugstore for a real fingertip version.


1 In all fairness, I made him go to the ER for slicing a much smaller bit off the end of his thumb back in '98.


How I Met My Husband, I

One of my favorite bloggers (thepioneerwoman.com) has been recounting in lengthy and wonderful detail the story of how she and her husband (an actual cattle rancher she calls (at least in her blog) "Marlboro Man") met, fell in love, got married.

I only wish I had the kind of detailed recall she delivers so effortlessly. For all I know, she's making the whole thing up to some extent. But, as I know someday my kids1 might like it ... and, because I think secretly Joe2 will, too ... I think I'm going to attempt some semblance of the same. (I should mention here, my asbsolute love and adoration for asides in the form of footnotes. If this bugs you, just skip 'em, they won't really propel the plot, such as it is. But, I really do kind of talk like this, full of dependent clauses and parentheticals and, well, footnotes.

And so to begin ...

The Professor and I met in college. That seems a pretty basic way many couples meet, but somehow for us it felt fated, destined, meant to be.3 Some background would probably help here.

The Professor grew up in Southeastern Pennsylvania, in a small suburban development about an hour from Philadelphia. He grew up (and still is) a complete math genius. So, naturally, he scored a perfect 800 on his math SATs. This got him an awful lot of attention from a bunch of colleges and universities all over the country. He even had full scholarships at several.

Throughout The Professor's junior year at St. Pius X, he and his mom took the obligatory College Tour roadtrips. He'd expressed absolutely zero interest in weeding through the mountain of brochures and letters, and basically asked her to pick out a few to go see. He spent most of his free time at this point playing soccer, bussing tables and singing at the Trolley Stop restaurant, and running D&D games with anyone he could find.

So they headed across the iconic PA Turnpike to Pittsburgh. The Professor had interviews set up at Pitt and CMU, who were both quite interested in his math geniosity. They showed up as scheduled at Pitt, first. From what I've been told the interview went pretty well. But, the campus tour was a complete disaster.

The Professor's not fond of cities. He'll visit DC, New York, sure. We've even lived in Philly and Pittsburgh, right in the city, all young and urban and professional (only without money). But, he's really not happy with the noise and bustle and traffic and smells and noise. Really he can't stand anything city-like, except the museums and cultural sites, or the odd historic landmark. Buses, subways and taxis, fuhgeddaboudit.

And Pitt is in a city. A big one. Sure, Pittsburgh is nothing compared to "real" inner cities like New York, LA, or even Philly. But, it's a noisy, busy, smelly city. With buses and everything. Pitt's dorms are high-rises. Academic buildings are separated by some of Pittsburgh's main thoroughfares, accessed by crosswalks and dodging lunatic city drivers. There's some greenspace, of course. But, it's not a rural or even suburban campus, by any means.

Right then and there, without even finishing the tour, The Professor just said No. So my patient Mom-in-Law suggested they head over to Carnegie Mellon for his interview and tour there.

"Is it in the city?" he asked.

"Yes, it's not far, just up the street4," she replied. (wrong answer, by the way)

"No, I'm not going," The Professor asserted. "I'm not going to college in a city."

"But, it's not like Pitt. It's gorgeous! And a great school!" She was really trying at this point, but he was the immoveable object.

So, she called and cancelled the interview with the Admissions office and the one with the Chair of the Math Department. And they turned around and drove home.

(I should mention here that The Professor would eventually attend Carnegie Mellon for grad school. In fact he not only went there, he dreamed, longed, ached3 to get in and get funding at this prestigious institution he wouldn't even deign to visit at the wise old age of 17.)

He eventually toured a few other schools, but didn't "feel the love" for any of them in particular. Based on his now firm and increasingly picky criteria, my patient Mom-in-Law came up with Allegheny College5. So, they went up for one of the Open House weekends in the early spring of '88 (early spring is decidedly not Meadville's most attractive season). As soon as he arrived, he announced he'd found his college. He didn't want to tour anywhere else. He didn't care that he had scholarships awaiting elsewhere. He didn't care that Allegheny was offering him exactly $0 in scholarships and/or grants.

Which means that, in late August 1989, the young 18-year old freshman version of The Professor arrived on campus in charming6 and historic Meadville, PA, little knowing how much his life, mind, heart and soul would change over the next four years....


1 I don't know if it represents a lack of creativity, or what, but I don't have cute blogsphere names for my hubby and kids, like Ree, Josette, and Adrienne do. I should work on that. But, then, they also have their own domain names and I don't, so maybe those issues go hand-in-hand.

2 I kind of mentally think of him as "the Professor," so I'm going to go with that for now, anyway.

3 Yes, I know that's three things that mean the same thing. In the process of re-watching the first very excellent season of The West Wing, and that's a thing they do.

4 Seriously, they're a mile apart along Forbes Avenue.

5 I really believe it says something (not sure what exactly) that just typing those words "Allegheny College" makes me fell all sort of warm and fuzzy and proud inside. I don't think it's that I met the love of my life there. I really think it's Allegheny, itself. I've met plenty of people who fell in love at college who don't seem to get the same feeling about their own alma maters. And I've also met plenty of Allegheny alums who totally get the same feeling, themselves. It's an amazing and wonderful place.

6 Hey, it's my reminiscence, just go with it.



I apologize for another very brief, lacking insight into anything in particular sort of post.
I'm experiencing a certain amount of frustration at one of my jobs. To the point where I actually broke down and cried.*
I can't go into details, nor do I even really want to. But, I'm really looking forward to the brief spring break I'l be taking in Texas.
* In private. And thankfully, allergy season has begun here, so my sniffly nose and red eyes will not be unusual.



Missed this bit of news the other day.

Rest in Peace, Gary Gygax.
1939 - 2008



Suspension of Disbelief

I want my kids to keep believing forever.

N ever.

In Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, yes, even in monsters under the bed.*

This has been on my mind lately. I've been going through a rash of lost teeth with Matthew. And, Em expressed concern at the Easter Bunny finding us (or not) on our upcoming Easter Weekend trip to Texas.

My friend, Josette, has been dealing with this as well.**

Em honestly still seems to believe in magic. Movies like The Water Horse and The Spiderwick Chronicles and the literally dozens of hours per week she spends reading Harry Potter must be helping the cause. But, I know most of her third grade cohorts have likely moved past fat men in red suits, six-foot rabbits with bow ties, and incisor-wielding pixies. It's only a matter of time.

And I'm honestly not sure how much is actual belief and how much is covering-of-bases. She's clever enough to catch onto gravy trains ending when Imaginary Gift Bearing Entities are no longer eagerly awaited at every holiday.

Matthew, thank God, he's still in deep. He was almost traumatized at the thought that Santa might not come to see us in Colonial Williamsburg. And, he wants to go out leprechaun hunting every March. I'm hoping we get a nice warm day this weekend to do just that.

Hang on to the magic, kiddos. I'll do my best to keep the wonder in the world as long as possible for you.


*Or in our case, in the closet. Em's mattress and box spring sit right on the floor, and Matthew's bed is a giant loft/desk.dresser combo. So, no real room for monsters.

**Not a coincidence. The daughters she's writing about were born in March 1999 and June 2001, Em's and Mack's birth months, respectively.


"Famous" Girl

Em is in the local newspaper.

Here's the article. :)



Nothing Glamorous

It wasn't a wildly exciting weekend, but very satisfying.

Friday after school, Emily and I took Matthew to tap as usual. After dance class, we met Joe at the local Pizza Hut for dinner, dropped the extra car at the college and zipped up to Philly. It was Scout Night at the Philadelphia Wings. If you've never experienced indoor lacrosse ... well, I'm not sure I can do it justice. Professional indoor lacrosse makes AHL hockey look mild. I'd never seen lacrose before, nor learned the rules. And, after having seen a game ... I'm not sure there actually are any rules. Bludgeoning with sticks is par for the course, as is ramming an opponent up against the wall with your stick.

And the fans aren't any better. When the announcer called out the Wings players at the beginning of the game, the crowd was appropriately amped up and cheering. But, after each of the New York Titans players were names, the announcer paused for the fans to scream out "SUCKS!" As in ... "John Brown" -- "SUCKS!" "Tom Johnson" -- "SUCKS!" etc. Same thing when the officials were announced.

Wings goals were called out with enthusiasm, "Wings GOOOAALL!" But, Titans goals were a mumbled, barely audible, "bad guy goal."

Anyway, the Wings won, and generally speaking a good time was had by all.

Saturday morning, I went out and hit High Street begging* for gift certificates, merchandise, etc to auction off at our upcoming Blister Sisters** fund-raising events. People were pretty generous and receptive. We have a few follow-ups to make this week.

After that I buzzed back home to pick up Emily and my friends the Fantinis for the Girl Scout International Day of Thinking event. 12 troops from the surrounding community had display booths on various countries***. Snacks, crafts, girls in costume, facts. It was a well-put-together and well-attended event. I had fun and I know the girls had an absolute blast.

That night the Fantinis joined us for meatball subs and pinochle. After pinochle we played Monopoly. (Joe wants me to blog about my Monopoly trading "strategy." He mocks me openly.) Fun, but late, night.

Sunday morning we got up nice and early and went to the later church service, which made for a pleasantly leisurely morning. Yeah!

After church we met friends (the art teacher here at work and her family...her kids are in 5th and 3rd grades and are two of my students) for a Subway lunch and bowling. Matthew started out with two strikes in a row and clobbered all of us except Paul (the friend's husband).

They came back to the house afterward, which was great. They ran around in the yard and wore out the dog, who was a big hit with all the kids.

Last night we had a "Dugan Restaurant" dinner (read: everyone gets to "order" his/her own choise from the vast selection of leftovers in the fridge), followed by the first half of North by Northwest. We paused it here and there to reiterate the mistaken identity stuff for the kids, but really they kept up with it and got into it quite a lot. What an excellent movie.

And, now ... back to work for our regular week. The usual bustle and busy-ness supplemented by two dentist appointments and a trip to the orthodontist. Fun!


*Joe made several jokes about solicitation and pandering before I went out. *rolls eyes*
**The name of our Breast Cancer 3-Day team.
***Japan, Russia, India, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Ireland, Madagascar, France, Egypt, the UK, West Africa, Italy