Sunday, May 31, 2009

Nice Quiet Day (Day 59)

I worked out on the deck today while Rachel enjoyed having Dennis and Amanda visit. Here they're playing Nintendo DS together. Rachel and Dennis swam for a bit, but the water was kind of cold. Dennis' dog Sammy swam, too, but I didn't get a picture of that. Maybe tomorrow.
We barbecued for dinner. Dennis made some Old Bay shrimp and Fred made his Freddie burgers. It was a beautiful relaxing day.

Fun Friday (Day 58)

Rachel had her well visit at the doctor today. Girlfriend is in the 97th percentile for height on the US charts. I can't imagine how far off the Asian chart she is. She's 4' 11 1/2". Another inch or so and she be as tall as I am. She got her second Hep A vaccine today, and the doctor gave us a script for an anti-malarial for our trip and a script for an antibiotic for our trip, just in case.

In the afternoon I had a 3 hour job in Reading, PA, and then had to drive home in Friday rush-hour traffic. It was stop and go almost the entire length of the Schuylkill Expressway. Once I got through the city and onto the bridge it wasn't too bad.
Fred's brother and his fiance came down to visit us for the weekend. Rachel went to a sleepover Friday night, so Dennis, Amanda, Fred and I went to Atlantic City to meet up with some of Dennis' friends. We had dinner at PF Chang's at the Tropicana. Oh my goodness was it good! I've been wanting to try it for several years, but there's always a long wait to get in. This time we got seated right away. We had lettuce wraps as appetizers. Yummy.

We met up with his friends in the casino. The men gambled while the women sat in one of the lounges and talked. It was a lot of fun, but it'll be a long time before I stay out until 2:30 a.m. again!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Carnage (Day 57)

Ferris occasionally relieves stress by beating up his toys. This is what I came home to today after work. He ripped the guts out of his Easter bunny and left them lying on my bedroom floor.
It kind of reminded me of this:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My Old Apartment Bldg. (Day 56)

This was the view from where I had a job today.

About a year after I started court reporting, Fred and I moved into an apartment in Center City Philadelphia. It was at 1500 Locust Street. It was a high rise building, and our apartment was on the 40th floor. We had a great view of South Philadelphia, including the Drake Tower, which is on Spruce Street. The Drake always fascinated me. At the very top was a round glass enclosed area, and I always wondered what was in there.

At that time the agency I was working for had their office at the Warwick Hotel, two blocks from our apartment. I passed a big church every day going to and from the office, and there was always an old homeless man hanging out on one corner of the church. He had something wrong with one of his hands. I gave him change or a dollar almost every time I saw him. I didn't see a homeless man; I saw a grandfatherly gentleman with a kind face.

Bonwit Teller was a department store that I used to enjoy going to. In fact, I bought the earrings I wore at my wedding there. Now there's a store called Daffy's there. I've never stopped in.

The Bellevue Hotel is on Broad Street, and in July 1976 it was where the American Legion held its convention where so many member got sick with a type of pneumonia which was later known as Legionnaires Disease. If I remember right, the Bellevue was still closed down when I moved to Philly in 1986. It has since reopened, and there's a great food court in the lower level, as well as a Williams-Sonoma (which I love) and some other cool shops.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Goal (Day 55)

I just realized I haven't taken a single picture all day. So I took one of our change jar. It's a gallon wine bottle that we've used for the last 20 years to collect change. When it's full to the top, we've gotten as much as $400 in change. So my goal, between now and the last week of June (basically before we leave for China), is to fill it. Once we get to the neck of the bottle it'll go much quicker. Until then, it fills slowly.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day (Day 54)

For love of country they accepted death... ~James A. Garfield
Including this one, even if he is pointing a Super Soaker at my camera. :-) See what I have to put up with from these neighbors of mine?
Just kidding. I love all my neighbors. We have too much fun together. Sometimes way too much fun. *** New Year's Eve a few years ago ***
The kids had a lot of fun today, too. This was the second round of swimming. Rachel had two other friends over earlier in the day. Two of our friends here are camera shy. And one is wearing clothes instead of a bathing suit because she came right from a water balloon fight in her back yard and jumped in the pool. She was already wet, so why bother with a bathing suit!
Violet had a good day, too. Fred was making bacon-wrapped bbq shrimp kabobs and she could smell the shrimp. The kabobs were laying on a piece of foil, and she kept reaching up. I thought for sure she was going to pull it all down.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cat in a Bag (Day 53)

I went grocery shopping today. Will I ever learn that weekends are the worst time to go grocery shopping? Probably not.
After I brought all $157 ($190 before coupons and sale prices!) worth of groceries in, I ran upstairs for something midway through unpacking. When I came back down, this is what I found. Beavis with an Acme bag stuck on his head. The handle was around his neck. The bag had been on the table when I went upstairs. So obviously Beavis was on the table. Stupid cats! Stay off the freaking table!
Like my Publix reuseable bag in the background? I miss Publix. One of the few things I miss about Florida. That and my family. And Arigato. Oh my gosh do I miss Arigato! And my family. But Arigato has yummy yummy and goody goody sauce. Arigato is hands-down the best Japanese steakhouse anywhere. There are several near us in NJ, and they're good, but not Arigato good. So if you're ever in Clearwater, FL, do your taste buds a favor and go to Arigato.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Carnival! (Day 52)

With Fred away at the Indianapolis 500 this weekend, Rachel and I went to a carnival with friends. Rachel loves rides. She's pretty much fearless and will try any ride out there. The carnival tonight had a Zipper ride, but I am not crazy about rides at carnivals, so I wouldn't let her on it. Rides at amusement parks are not trucked from location to location and have people whose job it is to keep them safe. Carnival rides are driven all over the place, and who knows how many bolts or parts are jarred loose. Rachel pointed out several times tonight that she rode the Storm Runner at Hersheypark, as if that would convince me to let her ride the Zipper. I did let her ride the Round-Up. I'm not sure what makes this one any safer than the Zipper, but I felt better about it. Enough that she rode it. Twice.
Next was the swings. She looks a bit bored here, doesn't she? Truth is, she's so bored she's picking her finger nail polish off in this picture.
I can't remember what this one was called, but it's just like the Scrambler. They liked this one, obviously.
A good time was had by all, even though we didn't let them ride the Zipper. We had funnel cakes, too, but they didn't last long enough to have their picture taken.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Unofficial Start of Summer (Day 51)

Friday afternoon traffic heading to the shore -- the unofficial mark of the beginning of summer. This was taken on my way home from work around 2:30. What usually is a 20 minute ride took me 45 minutes. It was stop and go traffic almost the whole way home. This is a big part of why I try not to work on Fridays in the summer. Sometimes, though, I have to bite the bullet and work a Friday. Sunday nights and Monday mornings are just as bad heading back to Philly. Monday mornings you get all the people who stay "down the shore" for an extra night and head right to work from there.
Another sign summer is approaching....Rachel and a few friends went swimming after school. The water temp was 74 degrees, so I didn't go in. But the kids were in for about an hour or so.
Ferris went swimming in his little pool, too. He was running with the dog on the other side of the fence for a while. When he got too hot he'd come up on the deck for a drink and lay down in his pool. Almost looks like he's blowing raspberries here, but he was just hot. :-P to you, too, Ferris!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Brace Face! (Day 50)

Rachel got her braces on today! She chose pink and green bands. I think it looks cute. She did really well sitting in the chair for an hour and a half and was rewarded with a mini shopping spree at the mall. She can change the color of the bands at every visit if she wants to. Her next visit is in four weeks. They're hurting her a little bit, but Tylenol is helping. She made it through cheerleading practice with no complaints, so it must not be too bad.
Extreme close-up!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thing('s) to Do (Day 49)

This is just a part of a large graffiti art project just across the tracks from the train station I use. It encompasses the entire back wall of a building, and it's pretty good. But this one little part of it bugs me every day. I just want to sneak over with some white paint and cover up the apostrophe in the word "Things"! Unless, of course, he's talking about Thing from the Addam's Family and it's Thing's To Do list. If that's the case, I humbly apologize to the artist, who I believe is shown in a self-portrait below. Like I said, the artwork is good. It's something to look at while waiting for the train.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dad! (Day 46)

~*~*~*HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!!~*~*~*

I spent tonight watching the season finale of Desperate Housewives and going through pictures from Rachel's first five years. I'm putting together an album to give to her orphanage when we go there in July. There are so many good pictures of Rachel, and so many wonderful memories! Some pictures almost made me cry, like pictures of Rachel and my grandmother, who passed away last March. Other pictures just made me miss old friends, like Kathy, Rachel's babysitter when we lived in Florida; Cindy, my boss in Florida; and Tammy, Larry and their son Williams, our very good friends from Florida. Some of the pictures I look at and can't believe what a beautiful child Rachel is. I don't know how I'm going to narrow down the number of pictures to include in the album! And speaking of an album, I really need to get these pictures out of boxes and into albums. I remember how, when I was growing up, I used to love looking at our photo albums. Looking through so many pictures I also realized that there are way too few pictures of Rachel and me together, Fred and Rachel, and the three of us as a family. And I have yet to find one of Rachel with my mom. I hope I can find at least one. But mostly, looking at the pictures, I just don't know where the last ten years have gone and how we got so lucky to be blessed with such a wonderful daughter.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Why? (Day 46)

Could somebody please tell me why the lawn had to mowed and weed whacked in the middle of our yard sale? Don't get me wrong....Fred takes very good care of our lawn, and he's very proud of it. I can appreciate that. I'd actually say he's borderline OCD about it. And he's not the only one on our street. :) There's a friendly little competition between him and the next door neighbor. One mows, the other has to follow right behind. OMG! Kevin mowed! I better get out and do my yard! But why did it have to be done today, smack dab in the middle of the yard sale? Probably because somebody mowed his yard yesterday. That's it. It's actually that person's fault that my yard sale stuff got grass on it!
Fred also opened the pool today, not that anyone's getting in it any time soon. It's pretty darn cold!
Ferris wants to know "why" too. WHY, WHY do they insist on making me wear goofy things!??!

Friday, May 15, 2009

"Cool" Find (Day 45)

Rachel and I went to Staples the other day for poster board to make signs for our yard sale tomorrow, and she spotted these at the checkout. I had been looking for small fans to take with us to China. It's going to be hot there, and I hate the heat. Heat is a big part of why I wanted to leave Florida. That and I missed the change of seasons. I guess the two kind of go hand in hand. Anyway, I was resigned to just buying a regular old fan for each of us once we get to Beijing. But these are so cool! They even have a little carabiner so we can hook them to our bags when we're out and about sightseeing. We'll just have to make sure we only put bottled water in them, though. No tap water! We don't want to be getting sick because spray from the fans got in our mouths. We don't want to get sick at all, obviously.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Three Person Stunt (Day 44)

Sorry for the blurry image. It was the best I could do from where I was. This was actually taken through a darkly tinted window, so I'm surprised it turned out at all.
This is Rachel and her friend Emily at their second cheerleading practice with the all-star team them joined. They've both been cheering for five years and have done stunts for that long. But this is the first time they've done a 3-person stunt. They've always had a backspotter, usually Rachel, behind the flyer, holding the ankles of the flyer. This picture was the very first time they tried this stunt, and for being the first time, it looks great! The team actually had 11 of these stunts going up simultaneously! I'm very impressed with this organization.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Riding the Train (Day 43)

I sat in the front of the train coming home from work today. The train goes over the Ben Franklin Bridge, between Camden & Philly. This picture was taken heading towards Camden. Sometimes I get a little freaked out when the train is on the bridge. I think it's the whole height thing. A couple times last year the train actually BROKE DOWN ON THE BRIDGE. I wasn't on it, thank God. If I had been, that would probably have been the last train ride for me!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Separators (Day 42)

Rachel doesn't have blue gum stuck in her teeth here. She got separators today in preparation for braces. I guess the separators make it easier to get the actual braces on the teeth. She said they only hurt a little bit, and I was told chewing would make it feel better, so after her appointment we went to McDonald's for breakfast. I wanted to go to Denny's, but the Queen Bee wanted Mickey D's. And what does she order? French fries and a milkshake! Fries weren't made yet since it was only 9:30. She she had to make do with hashbrowns. And the milkshake wasn't ready until we finished eating. Glad she chose McDonald's! Then we went to the mall. The Macy's at our mall doesn't have athletic shoes, which was one of my main reasons for going. Couldn't find any at Kohl's, either. I'll have to hit either Famous Footwear or Sports Authority this week.
Her teeth bothered her a little at dinner last night, but we had spaghetti, so she suffered through.
She had her first cheerleading practice with her new squad last night. There were 37 girls! The biggest squad she's ever been on was, like, 22 girls. Some of the girls last night can do double back handsprings and back tucks. It's an all-star squad....they only do more football games! At least until middle school, if she cheers there. So far she really liked it. She looked good, too. She backspotted one flyer doing just a basic stunt. Then she based another flyer doing basket tosses. She's been a backspotter for five years. She based a little bit last year, but backspotting is really what she knows. So I was proud to see her doing such a good job basing last night, especially on something a little more difficult like a basket toss, where the setup is different and you really have to throw the flyer up more.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Blood Typing (Day 41)

The organization we've booked our China trip through, Our Chinese Daughters Foundation, requests you send them your blood type before travel. We didn't know any of our blood types, so we sent for a home test kit that OCDF suggests. Fred did his test first, and after poking his finger with the lancet, he made the mistake of telling Rachel it hurt. But I let Fred poke my finger, instead of doing it myself, and I barely felt it. It was just a little pinch.
The kit is kind of cook. Each circle has a different reagent in it, and you put a drop of water in each circle to activate the reagent. Then, after you poke your finger, you use a separate stick for each circle to apply a drop of blood and smear it around.
Fred's finger bled pretty good, and his card was very easy to read. I was opposite in every way!
I struggled to get enough blood fill each circle. And see that circle on the right? It's the control circle, and it's not supposed to be speckled like that. If it's speckled, it means the test was invalid. If the control panel weren't speckled and looked like one of the first two circles, it would mean I'm O positive. I think I'm going to order a new test and redo it.
Rachel's test if questionable. There were a few little speckles in the control circle. If her test is accurate, she's AB negative. Fred is A negative.
Tomorrow is a busy day. Rachel goes to the orthodontist at 8:00 to get her spacers. I have to run our visa applications to FedEx, stop at the mall to return something, transcribe my job from Friday, get poster board to make a yard sale sign for Saturday, make dinner and get Rachel to her first cheerleading practice with her new squad. There are one or two other errands I want to do, but I'll be darned if I can remember them now. I guess order a new blood type test would be one!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day (Day 40)

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. We miss you.

Happy Mother's Day, Nana! We love you!

Happy Mother'sDay, Meemaw! We love you!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Whatchu lookin' at? (Day 39)

Why does this young robin look so ticked off at me? Probably because my neighbor, T, and I inadvertently made it leave its nest prematurely. See, we saw a mama robin with food in its mouth fly into an evergreen, and we brilliantly deduced that there must be a nest in the tree. T has had robins nests for the last couple years in one of her trees, so she is quite the expert at stealthily checking out the nests. This time, though, apparently we weren't too stealthy and the two babies flew the coop. Well, one flew. The other kind of fell and ran. Or is it hopped? Anyway, he went towards the road. So of course T and I feel a responsibility to keep the little guy out of the road, so off we go into the road to try to get him to hop back towards his tree. He wasn't very bright, though. He kept going the opposite way. His more advanced sibling was sitting in a nearby tree, then flew into the maple in my front yard, which is where he was when I last saw him. The above picture is of "Hopper". He made it back near his tree. I'm thinking if he had tail feathers, maybe he could fly. So I took the liberty of giving him some.
That's better, right? Now he looks a little less, um, stumpy. Glad I could help him.
This is what we planted tonight. Yes, it's grass. Plain old backyard grass. Nice northeast grass, though. Not that yucky thick St. Augustine grass they have in Florida. I thought maybe if I make some grass readily available on the deck, Violet won't try to escape the confines of the deck when she's out there with us. Fred and I had pizza on the deck tonight (Rachel was at a friend's house) and Violet was out with us. She nibbled on this grass, then snuck down the steps. Instead of going in the grass, though, she was standing in my little herb garden, where the parsley has just barely sprouted.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Bonus (Still Day 38)

This was too cute not to post.

Tumbling Injury (Day 38)

Rachel took a little spill on the mat at tumbling last night which resulted in a brush burn and a sore elbow. She has tumbling again tomorrow morning (4th time this week), so hopefully the elbow will be better. She's still working on that back handspring. Part of the tumbling class is spent working on connecting her round-off and her back handspring. She's still being spotted on the back handspring, but is getting better at not pausing in between. I'm hoping to get a little video of it tomorrow.
Ferris, and I think everybody else, was happy the sun came out today! I worked from home today, and he bugged me all day to go out. He loves rolling in the grass and playing with the neighborhood kids. He's such a good dog....he stays in our yard pretty much, unless I walk into another yard...then he follows me. If he wanders too far from me, he comes right back when called.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Here Comes The Rain AGAIN! (Day 37)

It has rained every day for the last NINE days! A few days it rained all day. Today it was showers here and there, with one nice thunderstorm. As you can tell, the grass and trees are loving it. Everything has greened up nicely in the last two weeks. I have never minded rainy days, and I love thunderstorms, but I'm over this. We've barely seen the sun. It pops out for maybe five minutes at a time.
I had to go to CVS today to get a money order to pay for our visas for our trip to China. I pulled into the CVS, which is right next to a bank, and there were a bunch of cops, weapons drawn, in the shrubs between the two buildings. The one cop had a big black rifle out. That was all I needed to see to decide I didn't really have to go to this particular CVS at this particular time. Judging from the 15 or so cop cars and the police mobile command unit, I'm guessing the bank was being robbed. Pretty safe assumption, wouldn't you say? I didn't stick around long enough to find out. I did, however, take the time to hop out and, from a safe distance, snap a picture. :) Driving down the road a couple miles I did see at least three more cop cars, lights and sirens blaring, heading in that direction. I listened to the all-news station on the radio and never did hear anything about it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Buddy Poppy (Day 36)

I bought a poppy from a veteran at Wawa this morning.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Arbitrations (Day 35)

(Crappy picture...sorry) This is where I was today. While the majority of the jobs I do are depositions, every so often I have to do arbitrations. Some arbitrations are good jobs. The labor and/or union arbs we do are pretty good jobs. They usually long, so lots of pages. And they're fairly interesting. Arbs done here aren't usually ordered, so we just get an appearance fee. And a lot of times there's a long wait for your particular case to be called. There's a large waiting room that's usually pretty crowded, and it has the most uncomfortable wooden chairs. I usually try to make sure I have something to proofread or a magazine or crossword puzzle book. I can't stand having nothing to do. I've even occasionally cleaned out my purse while waiting. I think the longest I've waited for an arb is 2 1/2 hours.
Today I was lucky. My case was the only one scheduled for 1:30, so we got called right away. This is what the hearing rooms look like. Three arbitrators hear the case. Nine times out of ten it's an accident case, which are almost never interesting. I didn't get the witness chair in this picture, so I drew it in. That's some darn fine drawing if you ask me! Anyway, the witness chair is opposite where I sit, along the wall. Why is it that witnesses in an arbitration rarely keep their voices up? It seems like they get in a courtroom like atmosphere and feel like they can't talk loudly on the stand.
Today one of the witnesses needed an interpreter, so it took extra long. But the interpreter was good, so it went smoothly.

Tonight Rachel had her first of four tumbling classes for this week. Next week she starts allstar cheerleading practice, twice a week, plus one tumbling class a week. I think she's getting closer to that back handspring!

Monday, May 4, 2009

My Dinner Companion (Day 34)

Every night at dinner, this is who's sitting to my left. See that devilish smile? She knows what she's doing. She sits there looking all cute, waiting for a handout. I swear she thinks she's a dog sometimes. She begs at every meal.
This is her other side. This is the side of Violet that wants no part of being a dog. In fact, she pretty much kicks Ferris' butt on a daily basis. And he keeps coming back for more! He gets right up there in her face and she hits him repeatedly. It's fun to watch. Beavis does the same thing to the dog. The cats really look fierce sometimes, with their ears flat against their head. I figure if they're not enjoying it on some level they'd run and hide. And when they've had enough, that's what they do.