Wednesday, January 31, 2007

1/31 Snow in the future?

Tomorrow Raleigh is supposed to have freezing rain, sleet, and snow. And up to 1 inch of ice on the roads. Yikes. That will make things stand still here--well, unless they're sliding on the ice that is. We're an hour southwest of Raleigh and are supposed to get some of the weather, but not quite the beating Raleigh will get.

Beata just wants enough snow to cover the ground for a few hours so she can play in it, then it can go away. I told her it doesn't often work that way, but perhaps it will here.

I'm supposed to hear from the people in Austin within two weeks or so. So I'm looking to hear by Friday, February 7. Still don't know what's going to happen. I did apply in Raleigh for a Red Cross disaster job that was advertised on the internet. It will take a long time to hear about that, those internet jobs move very slowly.

It sure will be grand to get back to work. Sitting around just isn't my style. Although my sibs all know how lazy I can be, I do love to work.

Today is my brother-in-law Tim's birthday. He was stationed with my husband Phil in Hawaii. And Phil and I introduced him to my sister Jan. We really had him picked out for a friend of ours, and had chosen another guy for Jan, but Jan and Tim hit it off immediately. They've been married now for nearly 36 years.

Happy birthday, Timmy.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

1/30 A nighttime adventure

...but not a fun one.

I was lying in bed and started sneezing, almost uncontrollably. Took some meds, but nothing helped. I was congested, coughing, hot, and sneezing. Just miserable. Since I hardly ever get a cold or the flu, I was sure it wasn't sickness. Plus it happened so fast, going from zero to 60 in a matter of minutes.

Then it hit me! I'd bought some cheap detergent and fabric softener, trying to economize. And yesterday I washed my sheets.

So I put my sheets through a warm rinse and dried them. Although it was a little better, it still wasn't quite enough. So I put my bedspread on the bed, and placed my old poncho liner on it; then covered with my brand new poncho liner (that R and B gave me for Christmas). I was very comfortable surrounded by those silky covers. It took a long time for the symptoms to finally go away, but when they did I was in heaven.

Guess I'll have to take a nap today. Plus buy some fragrance free detergent and fabric softener.

Monday, January 29, 2007

1/29 A quiet weekend

Yesterday was quiet. We stayed in except for going to Kathryn and Tom's for dinner. Tom's sister, Linda, was there, so there were six of us. As usual, it was a delicious meal. My favorite part was this frozen cranberry salad. Wow. It was so good that I bought the ingredients this morning and made it already. It'll be a nice surprise for Rob. Poor Beata is having some stomach problems and can't have dairy.

(Yum--more for me!)

Since I don't have much to talk about, here are more pictures.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

1/25 Pictures of Hunter

Finally, some pictures of the kids. These are some of Hunter and will follow with Kayla's pictures tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

1/24 NC

I returned yesterday to find that Beata had to put her cat down. Adi was 13 years old and she and Beata had traveled from Denmark to Okinawa to North Carolina together. So obviously this household is very sad. I feel so bad for Beata, but am so proud of how Rob supported her (and is supporting her) through this really sad time.

As for me, I came away from Mississippi thinking I'd probably take the job if it were offered to me. We'll see what happens.

Monday, January 22, 2007

1/22 Gulf Coast Louisiana to Gulf Coast Mississippi

I woke up at 3:40 AM--still didn't know when someone was going to pick me up, and I was a little worried. Turned out it was one person thought the other had given me the pick-up time. We straightened it out.

Jessica picked me up at 10. She's the state coordinator for Louisiana. We talked about many organizational matters as we toured. She took me through Lakeview where there had been about 12 feet of water. She showed me what looked like a park--originally full of homes, but when they disappeared, the place was used for debris piles--30 to 40 feet high and several blocks long.

We then went through the 9th Ward, one place where the levees broke. There, and in Chalmette, there is still no electricity in most places. Jessica said that when they first started doing disaster work there, they had to show IDs to go in, and had to go through decontamination stations to leave the area.

Jessica and I met John for lunch, and afterward John took me through the Mississippi side (where I would be working). We drove through Waveland to Bay St. Louis, where the bridge is out, so we took a car ferry over to Pass Christian. The highway 90 bridge is out also between Biloxi and Ocean Springs.

The damage in Mississippi different than in Louisiana, but whole cities are still devastated. Many of the casinos are back though, so the economy is on the upswing. Unfortunately there is so much work yet to be done, and the odds are that another hurricane will hit prior to everything being finished.

John and I had dinner tonight with his deputy. If I become the state coordinator, she would be my deputy, so it was important that we talk.

I really like everyone I met today, and I'm so impressed with the work they are doing. John is picking me up tomorrow and we're driving back to the New Orleans airport. I'll have more questions for him tomorrow.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

1/21 New Orleans

I arrived here two hours ago. Am at a lovely Hilton hotel with free wifi. Gotta love that.

Cried four times today (not boo-hooing, just wet eyes). The first time was when Kayla told me that she thinks I'm such a beautiful grandma. The second time was when I said good-bye to Jill, Kayla, and Hunter at the airport (Todd wasn't there). The third time was 20 minutes later when I realized I'd left my cell phone in Jill's car. The fourth time was when Jill came back to the airport and gave it to me. So I think I've reached my crying quota for a long time.

It was such a wonderful visit. Can't imagine what would have made it better--unless I could have fit the kids in my suitcase.

Am looking forward to tomorrow. Hope I absolutely LOVE what this company is doing in the field!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

1/20 Whew, I'm tired

Jill, Kayla, Hunter, and I just returned from the Pasadena Children's Museum. It was superb, but I am tired. There were so many fun things to do and of course the kids did everything. And if it was climbable, it got climbed. More than once. The two favorite climbing places were: a three story indoor rainbow tower and an outside climbing wall. My oh my that Kayla is a monkey. She was everywhere, and climbed so quickly too. Hunter used his imagination and made up a story about every climb.

Last night, Todd, Jill, and I watched Talladega Nights, the Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Parts of it were side-splitting funny. Other parts caused me to doze off. Luckily my snoring woke me up for the other funny parts.

Tomorrow I take off for New Orleans and another adventure. Tonight I'll read more from Charlotte's Web (we're currently beginning Chapter XI). Jill will finish the rest of the book with the kids since I won't have time.

Also, tomorrow I'll cry. I do so every time I leave the kids. They are so very, very precious.

Friday, January 19, 2007

1/19 News

The Red Cross called me this afternoon to deploy me to Oklahoma because of the winter storms. There are people deployed all over the place because of the storms--from Colorado and Texas all the way to the northeast. I had listed myself as "secondary availability" for this month because of my vacation here, so I had to say no. I did say I was returning to NC on Tuesday and would be available to go on Wednesday. Hope they call back.

Hunter is so crazy about his husky from Build A Bear that he keeps talking about those dogs and watching Snow Dogs, the movie. I showed him the pictures of the dogs on his Aunt Beata's blog and he loved them. He asked me if they were boys or girls. I said I didn't know. He said, "Let me look." He stared and said the first one's a boy and the second one is a girl.

I smiled because you couldn't see the dog parts that would indicate the sex. Asked him how he knew. He said you can tell the difference between boy and girl dogs by the eyebrows--girl dogs have eyebrows and boy dogs don't. You heard it here first, ladies and gentlemen.

Oh, and some other news. I got a letter of approval for another mortgage. So after my condo sells, I'll be able to buy another one, if I choose. Don't know if I'll want to buy or rent, but it's always nice to have options.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

1/18 Fun with kiddies

Yesterday we had a great time at Chuck E. Cheese and Build A Bear. I'm enamored of Build A Bear Workshop. You first pick out which animal you want. Kayla chose a white bear with a pink nose and some pink fur scattered throughout her body. She named her Pinky. Hunter chose a husky dog and named him Husky. He said he's a husky that doesn't like snow or cold and that he wants to stay warm. Today he changed the name to Max after a dog in the movie Snow Dogs. Both he and Kayla are crazy about their new pets and have been taking good care of them.

While Kayla was at school, Hunter played with Max nearly all day. He has such a great imagination. I got to be the vet when Max was sick. Hunter said he had a really big thorn in his side and I needed to be very careful when I took it out. "When Max gets hurt sometimes he bites people." I am crazy about kids' imagination.

When Kayla got home from school she spent about 90 minutes on homework, and then I took the kids to the movies. We saw Charlotte's Web. It was absolutely delightful. We ate popcorn and candy and drank soda while watching a great movie. My idea of a good time.

Near the theatre is a big Border's book store, so we stopped and bought the book of Charlotte's Web. Before bedtime we were able to get through the first three chapters. The kids are excited that we'll read some every day. I promised that if I didn't get to finish the book with them, that Jill would finish for them.

Jill and Todd went out to dinner while we were gone. A good night for everyone.

Tomorrow should be quiet, but Saturday Todd is doing motorcross with some friends. Jill and I plan to take the kids to a children's museum in Pasadena. Can't wait.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

1/17 What to write about...

There's so much I want to say.

Jill made a great meal last night--salisbury steak over pasta, and corn. She made mine with a veggie burger, a very good idea. Then we opened our Christmas presents. I got the coolest coffee mug and a really big Amex gift card. That will come in handy when I move (whether it's Mississippi, Raleigh, or Quincy). Everyone seemed to like the gifts I got them. The kids especially loved books with stuffed animals. The animals star in the books. Kayla got a kangaroo with a baby roo with the book Do You Have A Mommy? She was reading it the first time through. That's a thrill for me. Hunter got a gorilla and baby gorilla with the book From Head to Toe. He says they are King Kong and baby King Kong. Both of them brought the animals downstairs with them this morning.

Both kids are thrilling me, as always. I sat cuddling with Kayla and just basked in her loveliness. I said, "Kayla, you are so beautiful." She replied, "I'll never be as pretty as you, Grandma." Made me cry--because she really meant it. (Now one of my brothers will probably remark how sad it is that Kayla has gone blind, but I don't care.) :)

And Hunter has come up with some good ones too. When being teased about a girl at pre-school giving him a kiss, Hunter replied: Nope, Rachel's not my girlfriend. No, Hannah's not my girlfriend. Grandma is. I'm going to marry her. (Again, the beauty of it is that he was serious.)

Later I said to him, "You are so funny, Hunter." Hunter: I was born funny.

I went to bed at 8:30 last night, right after putting the kids to sleep. It had been a long day--got up at 1 AM Pacific time to go to the airport. Because I went to bed so early last night, I woke up at 2:30, 3:30 and 5. Finally got up at 5 and showered. A short while later this sweet little voice said, "Grandma, good morning," in almost a singing voice. It was Hunter. We had some special time together before Kayla woke up.

Todd took Jill to work, and after breakfast Hunter and I took Kayla to school. She is wearing the headpiece that Jill wore as the flower girl in John's and my wedding more than 26 years ago. (Cindy, remember making that cute headband with ribbon and flower streamers? So cute.) Kayla looks so much like Jill, and she absolutely loves it. Says she's a princess in it. She had to wear just the right outfit so it would go with the princess crown. Lovely.

I was going to take Hunter to the park and to Chuck E. Cheese for our special time while Kayla was at school, and then later Kayla was going to go with me to Build A Bear for our special time. Unfortunately for the kids (but fortunately for me) Kayla has a short day at school and gets done at 12:30 instead of 2:30. So I'm taking them both to Chuck E. Cheese and both the Build A Bear. It'll be such fun for me. Then we'll go to the park tomorrow.

Jill took off work coaching gymnastics tomorrow and took off work at Advanced Bionics on Friday, so I'll get so much wonderful time with her. See me smile?

Gotta run. Hunter and I are going to watch Mulan. I am one lucky bug.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

1/16 In Southern California

Jill and Hunter picked me up from the Burbank airport. After a brief lunch we went to school to pick up Ms. Kayla from first grade. I wasn't standing near Jill, and suddenly saw Kayla looking up at Jill with tears in her eyes. "Where's Grandma?" I immediately said, "Here I am, sweetie," and she was fine right away. What a treat to be able to make her so happy with just my presence.

I helped a little with her homework, and Jill finished. Afterward, Kayla and Hunter made a "water stand" indoors, where they pretend it's a hot day and sell water. I bought some for Jill and myself, and boy was it good. The cost was $6.51, so I was lucky they accepted pretend money.

Tonight, after dinner we'll have our (very) late Christmas. Can't wait.

Monday, January 15, 2007

1/15 Hee-dee-oos

That's kind of how Beata used to pronounce hideous, and still does (as a joke). She cut her hair today, after cutting her bangs earlier. It's really cute, so I said, "My turn."

It had been nearly three months since I had a hair trim. Usually it's five to six weeks. So I'm pretty shaggy. She cut the back of my hair, and also my bangs. Left the sides and top alone. Looks pretty good. I'm proud of her, plus proud of my courage to let her do it. :)

Well, back to packing. Rob is taking me to the airport tomorrow at 5 AM. Yikes.

Can't wait to see my grandkids!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

1/14 Yum

Had a great meal at Judy's today. Her daughter, Robin, was in town from Austin and she cooked. She made vegetarian chili (sweet!) and the best ever cornbread. We all enjoyed ourselves. Linda, Tom, and Kathryn were there as well. I'll miss next Sunday's get-together, but will be with my LA-based family, so it will be wonderful.

Not much else to report. Are you yawning yet?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

1/13 Beata won!!!!!!

Well, the headline says it all. After coming in a heartbreaking second place in nearly every poker tournament she entered, tonight Beata took first prize. I came in second and got 30% of the money. She won a whopping 70%. Good on her.

She was ecstatic, and had every right to be.

We had such a good time, and so did our friends. Rob was crazy about the sloppy joes I made. Must be something about the comfort food of one's childhood. Some of the other guys showed a real appreciation for it too.

Such a nice group of friends. I will hate to leave.

(Supposed to be 78 degrees tomorrow. That depresses Beata, who is still praying for snow. She said that next Thursday we're supposed to get snow showers. I'll be in LA, but sure hope she gets her wish.)

Friday, January 12, 2007

1/12 What happened to yesterday?

Yesterday just flew by. So fast that I forgot to post a blog. I had my laptop in the living room and spent lots of good time with Rob in the afternoon while Beata was running errands. We did have a great dinner--each had something different since Beata went to the market. I love meals like that.

This morning I made a big, fat breakfast--bacon, scrambled eggs with cheese, and home fries. It was very filling, and very good. Tonight Beata is making cheese-stuffed jumbo pasta shells. Yum. I'm getting hungry.

Received a call from the crew coordinator from the Chicago Avon Breast Cancer Walk, wanting to know if I would make the team leader meeting. Guess I'd forgotten to tell her I'm no longer in Milwaukee.

Also got an email from Betsy in Austin. She'd received a letter from the lawyer I met at the airport, asking how my interview went. How sweet.

I'm in a good mood...had a good day with Rob and Beata and the zoo. Think I'll sleep well tonight.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

1/10 Traveling is heating up

Lots of travel to look forward to:

1/15 to LA with Jill and her family (yay!)
1/21 fly from LA to New Orleans
1/22 check out the Louisiana operation
1/23 check out the Mississippi operation
1/23 fly to North Carolina

Looking at both the Louisiana and Mississippi operations will give me all the information I need to make an informed decision. I'm very excited about it.

And seeing my beautiful grandkids will make the trip especially wonderful. Haven't seen them since September, so I'm desperate to do so. Kayla said she thought we could make it a really special trip if we went to Build a Bear. How cute.

Life is good.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

1/9 Traveling stories

Had such fun on the Southwest flight from Austin to Raleigh. I ended up singing into the microphone while a flight attendant did the hula. Sure was fun.

And a few hours after arriving home I got an email from Betsy. They're flying me to New Orleans later this month...when I get back from LA. Then I'll drive from NO to Biloxi. Lots of traveling this month. Am really looking forward to checking out the area. Then comes the decision!

Monday, January 08, 2007

1/8 Mississippi

Betsy emailed and said they want me to go to Mississippi so I can really see the place and make an informed decision. They'll arrange it soon. The only time I'm not available is mid-January when I'll be in LA spoiling my grandkids. Can't wait for that.

1/8 The interview is finished

They interviewed me from 9-2:30. My pal, Betsy, picked me up at the hotel at 7:30, so it's been a long day.

The interview seemed to go well. Met mostly with the Senior VP for Disaster Response--the person this position reports to. But met with other folks as well. Don't know if they'll offer me the job. And if they do, I don't know if I'll take it. But the odds are good.

The next step is for them to fly me to Mississippi to meet with some people there. I should know about that soon.

Now it's sit and wait to hear from them. :)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

1/7 More on traveling

I finally landed in Austin and am at a lovely La Quinta Inn. All the rooms are mini-suites with free high-speed internet and so I'm very pleased.

At the Raleigh Airport I started talking to a few people. The man sitting next to me was an attorney from Austin. He asked why I was traveling there. I said, "For business." He asked if I was familiar with Lutheran Social Services. My jaw dropped, and I told him I was going there for a job interview. He knows all the execs there, including my acquaintance Betsy. Amazingly small world, huh?

1/7 A traveling day

I'm not the type to not work. Although I'm enjoying some of this "forced vacation," I'm also getting bored and lazy. I want to work. Not enough to pray for disasters, but you get the gist.

Still haven't heard from the Red Cross about when they are planning to bring me in to the DOC to work for a while. That would be helpful, and give me something to look forward to. But as it is, I'm staying home and playing with dogs all day. On the surface that's wonderful--and fun. But their conversation leaves a lot to be desired. And they don't pay me to play with them. :)

We'll see how the interview goes tomorrow in Austin. It will have to be a great job to lure me away from the Red Cross. Even though I'm not working much, this is what I want to do.

I told Rob that there's an opening (full-time, with benefits) at the Raleigh Red Cross. If I applied, there would be a decent chance I could get it. I know the pay would be low, because the pay scale tends to be low in the organization, but it would be doing what I love. Just not nationally, only in NC. The position is still part of National however, rather than the Raleigh chapter. I'll check it out after returning from Austin.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

1/6 What wonderful weather

I can't believe the spring-like weather here. In the low 70s with rain at night. It's so beautiful!

Rob's friend Brian spent the night. Nice young man. Rob picked him up at the airport last night. The dogs (except Chilli) knew him already since he used to pet sit for R and B in Okinawa. His wife will be joining him soon. In the meantime, he's staying in the hotel on post.

Today we played a little poker which was fun. Then Rob took Brian to Ft. Bragg so he could get settled in. Rob should be back shortly. In the meantime I'm prepping for my interview. Am printing out some of the agency's web pages so I can study them. Might as well be prepared, just in case.

Took another walk today, then iced my knee afterward. I'm only walking about 20 minutes a day until the knee heals more.

Friday, January 05, 2007

1/5 Quiet night

Last night I made mac and cheese for Rob and me. We both love it. Tonight it's grilled cheese and tomato soup, another favorite--and his idea.

No excitement though. He worked a while on a voice over project for the military. I must admit he sounds great. Both of us went to bed early, but I stayed awake late watching TV shows recorded while I was gone.

It's not quite as lively around here without Beata. Her flight was delayed for several hours because of weather in Chicago, but she finally arrived okay. I'm sure she's having fun.

Yesterday I started my walking regime. Only made 15 minutes because of my stupid knee. Today I did 20 minutes, but had to stop. I'm glad it's just my bruised knee and not because of any serious reason. I plan to keep walking every day, and am sure my knee will not be so stiff and sore.

Right now Chilli is sleeping at my feet. He dragged a couch pillow into my room so he would have something comfortable to sleep on. Couldn't believe it. So cute.

So no excitement to report. Back to boredom, but I love it.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

1/4 Home again

It felt good arriving here yesterday and being greeted by Beata and the zoo. Rob came home shortly afterward. Everything felt comfortable.

After dinner we played some poker. It was fun to get back into our daily poker routine. :) Bea leaves today for four days so I doubt Rob and I will play head to head poker every night. We'll miss her (and not just because of the poker).

Right now Beata is getting ready and I'm catching up on my laundry. We'll leave at 1 to take her to the airport.

Yesterday the ride through the Smokies (and adjacent to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park) was stupendous. Thanks to b-i-l Tim for the suggestion. The only problem is that it's about 100 miles longer--almost exactly. 855 miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains and 950 miles through the Smokies. Both rides were lovely and I think I'll keep rotating to make the drives more interesting.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

1/2 In Cookesville, TN

I'm more than half way back to Sanford, NC. Drove another way today after consulting with my b-i-l Tim. He said he's driven this way on a motorcycle before and it's beautiful. I am looking forward to the Smokies tomorrow. Today was an easy drive, but long, with another one hour delay. This delay was because of a five car accident. I can't complain about the delay, because I arrived safely.

Last night I stayed at Jan and Tim's because Pete was really sick and Jane suggested I move to our other sister's. I'm glad I did. He was miserable, and I'm grateful I'm healthy. Of course, Rob just told me via phone that he and Beata are sick. Maybe staying in Tennessee is the best answer. :)

Yesterday was so much fun at Joe and Cindy's. We started with the trip to the cemetary, for the drinking and celebrating with Mom and Dad. As usual, it was a special occasion. Then back to J and C's for a fantastic meal, with several soup choices and tons of desserts. That's why diets can never begin on January 1 in our family.

I gave out my Christmas presents and also gifts from Rob and Beata for people who helped with their dogs and cats earlier in the year. The gifts from Okinawa were much appreciated.

Poker was a riot, but a disaster for yours truly. As stated elsewhere in a comment, there was nothing wrong with the game, but it's just organized differently than how we do it in NC. Maybe next time, I'll be more relaxed and do better. But it doesn't really matter. I had my money's worth of fun. :)

After two poker matches, we played other games. Team "Scene It" and Catch Phrase. What a riot with 14 people playing. Loved it.

Thanks to Joe and Cindy for having us all to their home. You guys are great.

Monday, January 01, 2007

1/1 Happy New Year 2007!

Am excited about this new year and the changes it will bring. Yes, I've had tons of changes since October, but soon I'll decide where I'm going to live, and I'm thrilled.

As for now--I got up early and have minestrone soup simmering on the stove to take to Joe and Cindy's house. We will go there at 11.

Yesterday I went to Mass with Jane. Usually I see so many people I know, but didn't this time. Then she and Kris and I ran errands and ate lunch at Panera. Is it a publicly traded company? If so, I should buy some stock, as much as I eat there.

We went out to the cemetary to bring flowers, but someone had beat us to it. We'll all go out there today around 11:30 for the ceremonial beer drinking and remembering. Then back to J and C's for a scrumptious spread. Joe made chili, Jane made French Onion Soup, and I made minestrone. We'll surely have enough soup choices. :) Then of course, they'll be tons of other things. Around here we never start a diet on New Year's Day, but rather the day after.

Last night we watched Little Miss Sunshine. I was the only one who really liked it a lot. Jane and Sarah tolerated it and kept walking in and out of the room until the end. So it just wasn't their kind of movie. Then we watched part of Bend It Like Beckham (again). I love that movie...but we got tired a little after 11 and went to bed. I knew I'd have to get up at 7 to start my soup, so it didn't make sense to stay awake until midnight. Jordan stayed over at a friend's house, so he probably made it.

Sarah hardly coughed last night. I'm so glad as my heart just goes out to her, she hasn't been sleeping. She stayed in her own bed instead of having to sleep in the recliner, too, so that was also good.

Okay, better get busy. Will write about the details of the day later. Happy new year to all! (Hope I kick some butt in poker.)