Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mischief night


Tonight is Mischief Night... the night before Halloween, which is the night before All Saints Day.
I don't know all about the history of these nights, but Mischief Night around here is the night for the "tricks" in the trick or treats. Halloween is the night for the treats and the costumes. And All Saints Day isn't really celebrated at all, as far as I know.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wordy Wednesday


I thought about doing a wordless Wednesday post, which is why I took this photo. But then I decided I wanted to write something. But I really don't have anything important to say. Like usual. So it's a wordy Wednesday. 'Cause I just want to mention a few things.

One thing I wanted to say is Happy Diwali. I don't know a lot about the holiday, but I know a lot of people celebrate it, so enjoy!

Another thing I wanted to mention is what Frank pointed out to me before -- I passed 10,000 views! I'm sure that at least 5,000 of them are me, but I'm still excited.

My photo is of the tree in front of my house, an old magnolia. I love that tree. It looks bright and sunny and warm, right? But yesterday, we had flurries. And my mom in Pennsylvania had TONS of snow. EEK! What does that say about global warming???

Finally, I wanted to remind y'all about Nanowrimo starting in November. I don't know if anything I write will be good enough to share, but I'm really looking forward to it. My blog posts may be less frequent, or shorter, while I'm in the middle of it. Or on the other hand, they could be longer and more frequent, if I'm procratinating. But I've done some of the pre-work, thinking about themes and characters. I have no plot. But I read somewhere that you should flesh out your characters, and then see what they decide to do. That's kind of what I'm going with.

I was thinking about writing young adult fiction, because of the trouble I had finding anything for the boys to read this summer. But then I thought about it, and I thought, what do I really know about young adult fiction? So I started thinking about writing it from the viewpoint of the mama, which I do know. And then I started thinking about Catcher in the Rye. I googled it and reviewed the spark notes. That's what I have in mind -- something like that. Aim for the top, right? Apparently Catcher in the Rye is a "Bildungsroman" novel, a novel about coming of age... I have some notes started, but I haven't started writing. Wish me luck!
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Monday, October 27, 2008

Another night for Frankie.


When I started blogging, it was all about Frankie. I started while we were in the hospital, and I had nothing else to do, and Frankie "wasn't out of the woods yet," and everyone wanted to know what was going on. It was a great way to pass the time and feel like I was still in touch with everyone.

Somewhere along the line, I feel like this blog has de-generated into a brag fest about my wonderful children, (BOTH of whom are healthy, and out of the woods, now). I hope you don't mind. I write about what is going on in my life, and what is going on in my life is basically whatever is going on in my children's lives. That's why it's a mommy blog. Everyone always says, write what you know. This is what I know.

Nick has always taken a back seat in this blog. Because Nick is quieter, and more laid back. He's less focused on big achievements. The great things about Nick are what make him easy to live with and great to have around. Nick is not interested in drama, good or bad. (Not that Frankie likes to create drama. But he is much more extreme in the things that happen to him, and in the things that he accomplishes.)

Right now, Nick is working on his homework. He's been getting good grades, just not straight A's. He's involved in clubs -- at tonight's event, he was working the sound system with his friend Kyle, and at the same time, he was keeping an eye on his cousin William.

Before Nick was born, we were thinking about names. There was a quote in a movie somewhere that said of the name Nick:
"Now, Nick -- Nick's a guy you can trust." That was one of the reasons I liked the name. And he is becoming that person. I know I can count on him.

So please realize, as you read this blog -- I write more about Frankie, but not because he's my favorite son. I love them both, of course. And I'm just as proud of Nick as I am of Frank. Frankie's just got more to report on.
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Spanish Honor Society Induction


Tonight, it was the World Languages Honor Society night; both French and Spanish. Frankie was inducted into the Spanish Honor Society. Criteria is A's in Spanish for three years in High School. It's been one of his goals since he was a freshman, and he achieved it.
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Just a face in the crowd.


He has an amazing class. They are complete potential at this point in their lives. They will all be doctors and lawyers and teachers and engineers. They will all go to great schools and have amazingly successful lives.
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Sunday, October 26, 2008

More about Nick

I'm very impressed with Nick, getting himself to his soccer game today. He had to get himself up, bike more than 3 miles, using a map because he didn't remember how to get there, coach the little people team, and then bike home. And he never once complained about it.

He's doing the coaching thing because he's thinking about being a gym teacher. And he's doing a pretty good job, I guess. I know he isn't complaining about going.

Tonight, he's had his new girlfriend over. This is a first in our house. She's a cutie. But that's all I'm gonna say about THAT right now!

Friends don't let Friends Text and Drive.

Frankie and I went to visit Rowan University today. It's about an hour and a half away, which is a long time in the car together. (Nick was home; he had a soccer game. He's coaching 5 and 6 year olds. He actually got himself up, got himself to practice on his bike, and had the day to himself! More about him later.)

As we ate lunch, Frankie asked me, "Ya know the 'friends don't let friends drive drunk' campaign? I want to start my own ad. Friends don't let friends text and drive. Because that is just ridiculous, and people are doing it all the time."

We talked about his idea for a little while. He really wants to do this. His idea is that it's not just an info campaign, about how dangerous it is, it's peer pressure to keep people from doing something that they know is foolish but that they do anyway. (He didn't use the word foolish. He used more derogatory language.)

The question of whether that phrase, "Friends don't let Friends drink and drive" is copyrighted, came up. I wonder if someone already owns that phrase? Can he use it?

So anyway, the campaign is starting here. Because he's right. It is a (foolish) thing to do.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Another Morning Glory Photo


I wanted to post another photo, because I think I need more art on here.

Today, all my artistry was taken up in cooking. I made galumpkis. I'm not sure how you write that. They are little stuffed cabbages. First, I made rice. Tnen, I fried bacon. Then, I fried onions. Then, I chopped parseley. Then, I added ground beef and ground pork. Then, I wrapped the whole thing up in steamed cabbage leaves. Then, I baked the whole thing in tomato sauce.

They are a polish tradition. I never had them until I was an adult; they are from my husband's side of the family. I really enjoy them, as an adult. But they are a LOT of work. The cabbage leaves don't get soft enough all the time; there is a big rib down the center that doesn't want to fold up correctly.

I like to make them, and I like to eat them. But I don't feel very creative when I cook. It's not as much fun for me as photography or painting. On the other hand, it's much more practical. It's an art with a purpose. When the boys came home from the big football game they went to, I had something interesting for dinner. Plus I made enough for the party I'm having on November 1st. (Everyone, including you, is invited. Just let me know if you can make it.)

I really wanted to spend some time drawing a picture. But I didn't.

So I am posting this photo, which I took the other day. It's not really a good picture for today. It rained today. It wasn't much like this photo shows. But, the photo is more artsy.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Yesterday - Your oldest memory - What were you doing 10 years ago?

I think my oldest memory is of Gram Rodger's house in Elizabeth, getting in trouble for purposely stepping into the dirt she had just swept up in a room. She swatted my butt, and it didn't hurt, but I was very insulted and cried. And then everyone got mad at her.

Ten years ago... lets see, it was 1998. My boys were 8 and 6. I was probably babysitting and freaking out because I had too much to do, getting ready for Halloween. I was still friends with Jill, and I was probably shopping and on the phone with her. I thought about her this morning, too; I daydreamed about calling her up, and asking her what she could possibly be thinking? I regret not being friends with her anymore, but not enough to call her.

Today -Your first thought today morning - If you built a time capsule today what would it contain?

My first thought when the alarm rang was, "ALREADY? IT's still DARK OUT!"

And if I built a time capsule today... assuming it's a time capsule to save something about this day, and not a time machine in which I can travel...I really don't have any idea. Sorry. Ya got me on that one.

Tomorrow - This year ….What do you see yourself doing 14 years from now?

This year is a big year, and I should find out what Frankie will be doing for the next four years and how that will change our lives.

And 14 years from now, I should still be working for the school system, and I'll have10 years to go before retirement. I'll have more time to paint and to write, and to read. I'll probably be lonelier, with the kids gone, but I'll still have Frank, and hopefully four or five grandchildren. Wow! That would be great!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Pink Dogwood tagged me. I copied the questions here... but I'm gonna do them tomorrow. I spent all evening at scouts, then watched the Mentalist on TV, and THEN got on the computer, and now I've gotta get to bed! So check back tomorrow night, OK?

~ The tag copy ~Two questions in each category answer them and then tag your friends from the blog-o-sphere. (Simple enough right) Leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been tagged and you are all set.

Yesterday - Your oldest memory - What were you doing 10 years ago?

Today -Your first thought today morning - If you built a time capsule today what would it contain?

Tomorrow - This year ….What do you see yourself doing 14 years from now?

From the Nanowrimo Website:

"What is NaNoWriMo?National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

In 2007, we had over 100,000 participants. More than 15,000 of them crossed the 50k finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists."

My Nanowrimo page links here...

Not much to say

Everything is going along quietly here... nothing much to say, so I haven't been saying much.

I'm set up to do Nanowrimo next month. Nanowrimo is "National Novel Writing Month" and it's a great challenge. The goal isn't to write the perfect novel, it's merely to write the right number of words in the format of a novel. Last time I did it, I succeeded. But I had an easy thing to write about; I was writing about Frankie's illness. All that writing actually helped me process the stress. I thought it would eventually turn out to be a novel, but even though I succeeded - I wrote the correct number of words -- I didn't polish it enough to be a novel.

This time around, I'm going for fiction. That's all I've had, up until today. I want to write fiction, and I want to succeed.

I narrowed it down a little over the weekend, deciding that it wouldn't be fantasy fiction. Too many people are really into Neil Gaiman, including me, and he does it best. I don't want to try that yet.

Today, I narrowed it down even more. I think I will write fiction for a teen or pre-teen market. And obviously, it should be about boys, since I have boys.

Any boy names? I have to come up with a character next. And then, a plot. (gulp.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tag, you're it... a survey

Clothes Shop: Well, usually JCPenneys. I do pretty well there. Not very exciting, though.

Furniture Shop: Antique shops and used furniture stores and the attics of family members. I hardly ever buy furniture, mostly everything I have is a hand-me-down, but I like it!

Sweet: Lindt Chocolate Orange bars. And French Creams. And Milkyways. And really everything.

City: I've enjoyed visiting Philly and Boston and Washington, but I have to say NYC because it's so varied and huge and close to home!

Drink: Lipton Tea - cold in the summer, and hot in the winter.

Music: Yes. But the kind depends on the day and time and a lot of other things. Obviously Pearl Jam, and Nickel Creek, and... a lot of others, as long as it doesn't become "overplayed" in my head. I'm into Nirvana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Linkin Park this week.

TV Series: Grays Anatomy and that new one, Life on Mars.

Film: I never get to the movies. And I rarely even watch them on TV.

Workout: Walking.

Pastries: Eclairs! Yum.

Coffee: Only the smell, not the taste. I LOVE the smell of coffee. But I would never drink it.

Now I must tag some others? I tag first 5 people who feel like it :)

Summer is over


I always loved morning glories because of the way they glow.

I love black-eyed susans, too, because they are "my" flower -- my name is susan, I have black eyes... right. Anyway, morning glories are really cool.

I hate when the bugs start really chomping on the leaves and everything starts to get raggedy in the garden.

But today I've decided to embrace the raggedy-ness. Hey, I like Raggedy Ann alot too.

I went out into the garden today, and it's rather cool. Quite a nice fall day. The leaves should be falling all over themselves to start changing color. In fact, I've noticed a serious leaf drop since just yesterday. Anyway, back to the morning glories.

I went out into the garden and found a whole section of morning glories that were a different color than the ones I had planted originally. I don't know if they just mutated, or self-seeded, or if Ahn next door (who shares the fence) planted new ones.

So I wanted to take a picture of the new color. But they were all raggedy. I had trouble focusing on them. And I had trouble keeping out the raggedy leaves. I almost became disgusted with them.

But it's the end of the summer. Things get raggedy after the growing season. That doesn't mean they should be any less appreciated. I should appreciate them simply for the joy of finding a new flower that I didn't expect, and I shouldn't judge there looks by the same standard as the spring bulbs or the summer morning glories.

Wow, deep, huh???

I also had some other, unrelated thoughts. I was pulling weeds and became very aware of the fact that everything we do is a choice. It was like this zen realization of something I already knew, but it became clearer to me in the cold air with the birds singing and the sun in my eyes. Things don't just happen to us. Well, actually I guess things do just happen to us. But we still have a complete choice in how we react to them, and what we do about them. And whether we pull the weed, or put up with it just sitting there. We can choose to let it go and not worry about it, maybe even enjoy it's own peculiar weediness. We can choose to pull it out and clean up the garden. We can do anything we want, and it doesn't make the slightest difference. And if we want to be happy, we can do any of these things, but we just have to choose to be happy about whatever it is we do.

I'm totally believing in all of this happy horseshit, as Uncle Merle would have called it. Because it does make me happy, at least it does today. I hope I can keep believing in it tomorrow when I'm stressing out.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

HOORAY! He made it!!


Frankie is officially an Eagle Scout.

Ok, I know that having gotten this far, it wasn't likely that he WOULDN'T make Eagle.

However, it isn't over until it's over. What if there was a glitch that I hadn't noticed, that kept him from making Eagle????

I was having palpitations all day.

Tonight, Chris came over after scouts... he's really one of the family anyway. I gotta tell you, I love that kid like he's one of my own sons. Plus, he has the added bonus of having gone through this all before, because Chris is already an Eagle Scout. He was just as excited as I was.

Frankie called at some point and just said, "Yeah, I made it." I didn't have any details. But Chris and Nicky ran out and got a cake from Carvel. And I had a bottle of champagne in the fridge.

So we celebrated...!!!!! YAYAYAYAY!!!! :D
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It's Official!


And this is the badge!
OK, he won't get his OWN badge until after his Court of Honor, and that's in May. But he's earned it as of today.
This is actually Chris's badge... he made Eagle in December.
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Off he goes


We took this right before he left for the Board of Review.

My heart's been pounding hard all afternoon!
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Eagle Scout???

Tonight's the big night... Frankie's Board of Review for Eagle.
Tonight's the night that he has to be interviewed by several members of the District Committee, to see if he is truly qualified to become an Eagle Scout.

There have been SO MANY steps along the way to get to this point.
He's learned all of his skills - camping skills, knot tying skills, compass skills, first aid skills.
He's earned all of his ranks, from the basic "Scout" through "Life."
He's done countless hours of volunteer work.
He's had leadership positions to help run the troop.
He's earned 34 badges, ranging from easy - Basket Weaving - to complicated - Personal Management - to really challenging - Cycling. His favorite may have been Nuclear Energy, or Engineering, or Architecture.
He's completed a complex service project, proving that he has the skills to organize and direct a huge undertaking. His project was the Toy Drive for Goryeb Children's Hospital.

Tonight is the final step -- his interview.

Keep your fingers crossed!!!

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Here's Nick.


I didn't want to leave out Nick. Sometimes it seems like I mention Frankie way too often.

Nick doesn't want to be an Eagle Scout. He just wants to be in scouting. He is in both the troop and in the Venturing Crew. He's actually Vice President of the Crew.

Just because Nick doesn't have the "over-achiever" gene doesn't mean that he isn't just as great.

In fact, Nick is just super-cool.
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Monday, October 13, 2008

I went camping this weekend.


It wasn't Merrill Park, but it was just like that, only in Woodbridge.
Not at all wilderness, but a nice setting anyway. And anything we forgot, we sent someone back to go get. So it was an EASY trip.

We had a campfire on Friday Night. The campfire was associated with a little more drama than I usually like. I already lectured everyone involved, though, and said I'd drop the subject, so I'll say no more about THAT.
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Home Sweet Home


This is me (at least my foot) in my tent... I got a new light pink tent, which is perfect for when I'm camping with the Boy Scouts.
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Saturday during the day, activities were planned.
There was a Karate demonstration, an Environmental demonstration, and a fire safety demonstration. Because the weekend had originally been planned for September and been rained out, we had less demonstators and less campers than we had hoped.

Football and Dogs

 was an important part of the weekend. Everyone was looking forward to the annual Football game. This is a pretty good shot because you can see the campsite -- not our side, but the other troop's side. We also got free hotdogs, thanks to Town Hall and Wegmans... I've decided to shop in Wegmans from now on!
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The Mayor stopped by

  and gave a presentation for Citizenship in the Community, which is a merit badge that every scout must earn in order to get Eagle Scout.
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After the Mayor's speech, the boys had time to run around and do whatever they wanted for a little while. Basically, they played a little catch and then ate every bit of food we had left, including the Ramen noodles.

Then we packed them up into our cars, and headed out.

Topped off by a concert

This is Runway Orange (I think. Or maybe Runaway Orange.) They were one of the four bands that played at Casey's Eagle Scout Project. They were really very good. Casey did a benefit concert for the foodbank at St. James Church. It was a very successful project. I was more than a little stressed, but the project was great. I kept imagining all of the things that could go wrong... but they didn't.

He collected two canned items per person for admission.

And then, the troop went back to the campsite.

Weird weekend.
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Sunday, October 12, 2008


Everyone's out, and I have the house to myself for the first time in weeks...


I have a glass of wine and some coffeehouse music on Sirius...LALALALA

It feels like it oughta be Saturday.........


I don't have much to say, just thought I'd say hi

(Only one glass of wine.)

Maybe I'll post later.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Camping in the 'burbs/urbs

This is a great weekend to camp. It's going to be warm and sunny.

Every urban area has, or at least should have, an area where all you can see are trees. Even though those trees will be a very narrow strip, with hundreds of apartments right behind them.

That's where we'll be camping.

It actually may be a little scarier than camping in the woods...

Talk to ya later!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Frankie's 18th Birthday


I missed his actual birthday this year. Thinking back, I probably missed Nicky's birthday last year. He's a December baby, and December is CRAZY.

But here (belatedly) is a birthday party picture for Frankie. This year, we went to Bertucci's with a few of his friends and family. 18 is a big year.

Why is 18 a big year???

For one thing, when I called the insurance company to question one of his medical bills, they told me that they could only speak to him. Because he's 18. A legal adult.

They also said that if we don't PAY his doctor bills, it goes on HIS credit rating. (WOO HOO!) (JK)

18 year olds in New Jersey can buy lottery tickets, but they can't gamble in Atlantic City because they serve liquor.

I hear that 18 year olds can go to strip clubs -- the real nude ones -- because those kinds of strip clubs serve juice, not liquor. The other kind of strip bars, where the girls don't get completely nude, serve liquor, so you must be 21.

18 year olds can get a tattoo. They can join the military.

Today, he went to the Division of Motor Vehicles. He updated his license, so it is no longer a provisional license. He no longer has a curfew or a limit to the number of passengers in his vehicle. (He still has a curfew according to his mother.)
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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Walkathon for Make A Wish today.


Today was the Make a Wish Walkathon. It was held in Liberty State Park, which is exit 14B off the NJ Turnpike. I've never been to this state park before. I've never been to the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island. Isn't that sad? I guess it's harder to make the time to sightsee around your own area. I've see a lot of sights in Washington DC, and Chicago, and even in Hollywood. I've been to Philadelphia and Boston. And I've been to NYC, of course, but I've never really seen ALL the sights. So this is the closest I've ever gotten to the Statue of Liberty. Well, no, actually I was on a boat tour once or maybe twice that went around the statue. But, anyway, you get the idea.

It was a good day for a walkathon, because it was cool and not raining, but not cold. Of course, it might have been nice to sleep in today after Alyssa's party last night... but we did it anyway.

I didn't earn a whole lot of money to donate, but it's a start. I plan on volunteering more for Make a Wish in the future.
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What a view!


There was plenty to see while we waited to begin. Here is a New York City Water Taxi, and a kayaker, in the Hudson River between us and New York City.
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Many walkers walk for wishes!

What wonderful walkers! We were among many, many walkers, walking for wishes. What were we wearing? We wore what we wanted. We were wondering whether we would wear wish shirts.... well, one of us wore a wish shirt. (Me.) Many more made team shirts. I had made team shirts for the last walkathon, but I didn't this time.
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"Frank's Xtreme Team"

Here we are, the whole team. I didn't really push hard to get people to sign up; we just did the CCFA walkathon, not too long ago, and it's hard to ask people to donate more. I did get Frank and Frank's parents to walk. (Nicky had a soccer game - I'll post more about soccer another time - and Frank had gotten up early for the SAT's the day before, and I find that he needs at least one day to sleep in. I think it's important for his health. So I didn't push him.)
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Ellis Island


Thor took this photo as we waited for the walk to begin. You can see Ellis Island in the foreground and the Statue of Liberty is right past that.
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