Saturday, October 31, 2009

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Happy Halloween from the Spaz family! :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mamma Mia

When I was growing up my mom was an ABBA fan. It seems like it was every day that I walked home from kindergarten to find my mom vacuuming our little house with Super Trouper or The Visitors playing at maximum volume on the stack system in our family room.

The Piper would always have me picturing my storybooks telling the story of The Pied Piper drawing the rats out of the town. When the intro to The Visitors came on it always sort of scared me a little but then the song would really start and I'd have to resist the urge to dance along with my mom and her vacuum cleaner. Does Your Mother Know had me picturing my dad dancing with my sisters and I at all assorted events and Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! was perhaps the most confusing song of all to me... I mean really, why would anyone want a man after midnight? Sounded pretty scary to me.

When Slipping Through My Fingers would come on my mom would hug me and tell me how it reminded her of me. That song absolutely brings me to tears to this very day.

When I got older and went off to college I had the ABBA Gold CD and my best friend and I would listen to Dancing Queen so loud in the car we got stares from other people.

Now when I listen to ABBA I'm always reminded of my mom and how she used to sing and dance, her energy just lighting up every place she went. She doesn't do much singing and dancing anymore and I can't say I don't miss the way she used to be. But she still lights up a room with her smile.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oh where oh where has The Man gone?

So there comes a time when we all have to pull up our big kid pants and do stuff we just don't want to do. Frankly, I've really never been good at this. I'm an impulsive girl and I live in the moment. I think of it as a flaw but it's probably done some good things for me in my 32 years.

32... really? Crap.

Moving on.

So The Man has been having some difficulty with his Internet Marketing Empire and his other plans to take over the world aren't quite complete and my eBay store has been basically sucking and the bank accounts sort of started dwindling and then sort of being empty... and it came time to do some stuff we aren't proud of.

Not that kind of stuff. Get your head out of the gutter. Geesh.

The Man had to go get a real paycheck producing job. And since the economy is in the toilet and the unemployment rate in South Florida is something like 15% the whole getting a job thing didn't really go as we expected. He interviewed for a bunch of jobs that he was more than qualified for and applied for everything under the sun and in the end he ended up getting a job as a security guard.

And it's not that being a security guard is some horrible loser job or anything... it's just that it's a bit of a step down from what he's used to doing.

And it's not permanent. He has other things in the works and eBay will come back up eventually and things will go back to normal.

But for now, Mr. Man is spending his Friday and Saturday nights dressed in unbreathable polyester and I'm packing his lunch.

That, combined with him working weekdays (sometimes 14 hour weekdays) on some other hopefully more profitable ventures has The Man out of the house for most of his time. And me left here with the kids by myself.

It's proving to be quite the adventure.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I did mention a baby shower here somewhere, didn't I?

Yep... I knew there was something I was forgetting.

Jenny, being the unconventional girl that she is (and one of the reasons why I truly love her so) didn't want to have a traditional baby shower. Nope... there would be no girls only tea parties for her. She was having none of that.

Jen's party would be an eclectic mix of company complete with a full bar (courtesy of the Elk's lodge), karaoke, and quilt decorating. That's right... I said quilt decorating.

After two uneventful but packed flights I arrived in Pittsburgh accompanied by Shea, a friend from high school and also Jenny's oldest friend. We had a lovely conversation about fresh foods and Heinz ketchup chips with a mentally questionable woman while walking to baggage claim and then Jenny was there to rescue us.

After retrieving Shea's monstrous bag from the conveyor belt (she had to open it to be sure it was hers) we were off to Braddock.

The first stop was the no longer a convent that Shea and I would be staying in for the next few days.


The convent is owned by the mayor of Braddock and is a place where people traveling through or moving to Braddock can lay their heads for a few nights or more. There is a communal kitchen and dorm style bathrooms for everyone to share and sinks in every room.


The rooms are simple and to the point. The window in mine refused to close, though it only bothered me one night when I had to sleep in my sweatshirt and socks. A 24 hour steel mill is located directly across the street from the convent and the constant humming lulled me to sleep every night. Seriously, I need a noise maker with a steel mill setting to get me to sleep, evidently. Rain forest and thunderstorm aren't cutting it.

My lovely shower co-host and super long time friend, Liz, had driven down from Massachusetts so it was exciting to get over to Jenny's house and socialize and see her after years of not seeing her pretty face. Not only that, but Lizzie has a baby bump to ogle too!

The next day was filled with much shower planning and then dinner and an impromptu baby celebration for Lizzie at this little restaurant that served the literal best Reuben ever. (I think it was called Big Jim's - Jenny, correct me if I'm wrong.) Seriously, if you're ever in Pittsburgh go get a Reuben there. That sandwich was so good I wanted to curl up in bed with it. No joke.



Lizzie was pleasantly surprised to get a happy little party for her and a kick ass Reuben.

Saturday was shower day for Jenny so Jenny's mom, Liz, and I were all a flutter in preparation. There was cooking and decorating to be done!

We got it all done and set up just as the first guest arrived at the Elk's lodge and the party was in full swing soon enough. We all ate, drank (virgin pregatinis, of course... oh, and beer), sang (horribly), made quilt squares, and were merry.







Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A thief named Parkinson's

I don't think I've written too much about my mom here on the blog but the time has come when I'll probably be talking a lot more about her.


My mom was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease when I was about 15 or 16 years old. It started as a small tremor in her left hand and remained relatively minor for several years. Over the course of about 10 years, though, her disease progressed to a more advanced state. A few years ago, when traditional Parkinson's medications started failing her, my mom and her doctors decided she would be a good candidate to undergo a procedure called Deep Brain Stimulation. With this procedure a neurostimulator was placed in my mom's chest to transmit signals to a lead implanted in her brain.

When my mom had this procedure done she had trouble walking and controlling her tremor. She would occasionally just completely freeze and be stuck wherever she happened to be, which was sometimes quite frightening for her.

Last week the battery in my mom's neurostimulator died and we all got a cold awakening to how much her disease has advanced in the past few years. She is almost completely immobile. She is unable to adjust the way she is seated in a chair or lying in bed. Walking more than a few steps is nearly impossible and even those few steps takes what seems to be a lifetime. Not to mention difficulties with bathing and using the bathroom.

Today mom has gone down to Miami to have the battery replaced and is recovering nicely at home. But it has become apparent to the rest of our family that mom needs a little more care than she used to. So it has been decided that I will stay with her while my dad is at work and the Spaz kids are at school.

As much as I worry that there will be days when taking care of mom will be difficult for both of us, I am really looking forward to opening this new chapter of our relationship.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I took a skip through blogland and look what I found!

Stacy at "Shhh... don't tell the kids I'm here..." (don't you love that blog name?) nominated me for this lovely award!

Isn't it beautiful, y'all?

The rules of the "One Lovely Blog Award" are accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Honestly, I haven't been newly discovering any blogs lately so I decided to take this opportunity to go ahead and discover some.

So here are my nominees:

As Seen On The Bathroom Wall
Pumpkin Delight
Twenty Four At Heart
Juggling Life
Choosing My Own
Dogs and Jeans
Suburban Bliss
Cheaper Than Therapy
Laid-Off Dad
Okay. Fine. Dammit.

10... that's all I've got for now, Blogosphere. :) I have to move on to my real, much more boring, life.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Why Delta Sucks, in 500 words or less

My trip to the wonderful city of Pittsburgh was lovely, but Monday afternoon I was ready to jump on a flight home and see my family.

Jenny drove me to the airport and dropped me at departing flights, we hugged, and I rolled my carry on into the airport, very happy to be going home.

I got to the little Delta self check-in machine and entered my confirmation number.

"It's too late to check in for your flight."

Excuse me?

I entered the number again.

Sure enough, Delta had been so kind as to cancel my original 4:30 flight and put me on a 1:30 flight without any notification whatsoever. No phone call (yes, they had my cell phone number), no text message, no email.

In fact, the people at Delta couldn't get me home at all on Monday. Nope. I would be staying in Pittsburgh another night.

I was comped a room at the Hyatt attached to the Pittsburgh airport and put on a 5:30 AM flight out Tuesday morning. Delta was even kind enough to give me a voucher for $7 for dinner and one for $7 for breakfast. Thanks, Delta.

I hope you're picking up on the sarcasm here.

I checked into my lovely room at the Hyatt (it really was a nice room and the service at the hotel was wonderful) and decided to order room service.

What can I get for $7?

Um... nothing.

I decided to order a blue cheese burger and fries for $14 (plus a $3 delivery charge and 20% gratuity and I think something extra for the cheese) and jumped in the shower. It was a lovely hot shower with delicious smelling white ginger shampoo and soap.

Before I was even dressed the burger had arrived. I scrambled to get my clothes on and opened the door. And my burger? It came with the most adorable little Heinz condiment bottles!


I ate, Jenny came back and visited me, I sent the little Heinz bottles home with her, and I tried to get some sleep.

Now, the beds at the Hyatt are like queen sized clouds of happiness. But I still couldn't sleep. I began the attempt around 9 and it wasn't until after 2 that I finally found sleep.

Remember when I said my flight left?

Yep, the wake up call came in at 4:00 AM and I was not happy. I managed to pry myself out of bed after my 10 minute reminder call and get my crap together. Back to the airport I went.

I got on my 5:30 flight with no problems and landed in Atlanta to make my connection to West Palm Beach. My boarding pass told me I had 50 minutes to get to gate B12. In Atlanta that means "MOVE YOUR ASS!!! RUN!!!"

We pulled into gate A33 and I hauled ass to get to gate B12.

And when I arrived I noticed that the plane leaving from gate B12 was going to White Plains, NY.

Thanks again, Delta.

I had to locate someone to help me figure out what gate I was supposed to be at and it was then I was told I had to get back to concourse A and get to A2.... the absolute farthest point in the concourse.

As I was hauling ass a Delta Sky Miles representative hounded me to stop and learn how I could get my next flight on Delta for FREE! And I told her I wouldn't be flying Delta again so that wouldn't be necessary.

I hauled even more ass, arrived at gate A2 just as they were boarding, and made it on the plane.

And when we began our descent into West Palm Beach, I had to fight back the tears of joy. It's good to be home.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bringing Back Braddock

Thursday I got my first taste of Braddock, PA - the defunct steel mill town my friend, Jenny, and her husband have chosen to build their life in. I visited to co-host her baby shower with another friend of ours and Jenny's mom. I'll talk more about the baby shower in another post - because right now I want to talk about the town.


Braddock is a town long lost and just recently found. Even before we officially entered the town neglect was apparent. Everywhere we turned houses were abandoned, boarded up, condemned. Storefronts on Braddock Ave were long ago forgotten and the town took on an eerie quiet.


But when I took a moment to really look, it became obvious that Braddock was once something great. The houses that remain have large bay windows and wide open front porches where one can imagine the occupants enjoying a cool drink and a neighborly chat on a cool spring afternoon. The abandoned churches and schools, all unique in their architecture were once proud and grand - now they find themselves crumbling and exhausted, waiting patiently for the wrecking ball.


Upon even closer inspection, Braddock shows real hope. Sort of like a single green sprout of life in a long forgotten barren field. The town has become a sort of haven for artists and free thinkers. People who take the ruins of the town and create undeniable beauty. Gardens are flourishing in empty lots where rotting houses once stood. Life is being breathed back into this town that perhaps once seemed hopeless for recovery.


Visiting Jenny in Braddock, really seeing what she has become a part of - it makes me proud to be her friend. The people who can see the value there in a town most would simply detour around - well, those are the kind of people the world needs more of.