Monday, October 13, 2014

Celebration Weekend...

We had a beautiful weekend here in western NY. We had the honor of being invited to the wedding of one the first friends we made when we moved to Buffalo, Lisa Marsherall. Lisa married Jeff Faunce this weekend. It was a second marriage for both and it was a beautiful ceremony, perfect for these two wonderful and deserving people.

Both Lisa and Jeff work at Medaille and Norm got an honorable mention in the ceremony and shares March 11 with the happy couple. They had their first date on March 11 at a Dunkin Donuts and March 11 is Norm's birthday! Karma!

On Sunday I got to go to my boss's daughters's baby shower. We love Jessica and Scott and are so happy for them. They are having a baby girl and everything, I mean everything was pink!

There was also pink wine, tons of pink and adorable baby clothes and accessories and Jessica wore a pink top. Here she is judging the 'How big is Jess's belly?' contest.

There were games, although the dirty diaper game was a bit much for me. Relax, it was little diaper filled with baby food and we had to guess what flavors they were by sniffing them. I passed on that one ;-)

It was a wonderful weekend and to top it off both the Patriots AND Browns won! Fall doesn't get any better than this!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fall is FINALLY here!

Do you ever look at the lottery drawings, watching all those little balls bouncing around in those clear containers each one with a different number and possibility and say - "That's what my brain must look like inside?" Well, I do...

So many thoughts, too little brain, too much pinging going on in my lottery container. Let's see what pops up first!

In no particular order, Alexa's 'Last, First Day of School' I've taken a photo of Alexa's first day of school for the past 13 years. Here is the last one...I've got to dig out the film version of her first one to look back on. (Now, don't tell anyone I said so, it would ruin my image as a cold, unsentimental grump, but God, she is so pretty and I love these two so much...tears are forming).

Next up! I've been doing a two page layout each month since the first of the year using the new Graphic 45 releases. I love this paper but I struggled with this layout. Photos of my tennis star, aka, Alexa will grace these pages. I've also got done my Halloween layout and may start my Nov/Dec layouts using the "Raining Cats and Dogs" and Christmas paper (I can't remember the name of the collection).

Photos, photos, photos! Getting senior photos these days is like getting wedding photos. You go to a studio, you have location shots, formal shots - 400 proofs! Well, Heather, our photographer took 400 digital photos we now get to choose from 75 of them, 10 to be re-touched.

We also have to 'buy' a senior parent page. Lucky parents get to buy a 1/4, 1/2 or FULL page in the yearbook to congratulate their child on graduating high school. On the plus side, you get to choose your photos, even embarrassing childhood photos, and you write a heartfelt message to your child that everyone will get to read. On the down side, whatever happened to students selling space to local businesses to help fund the cost of the book! Do you know how much these page selections cost?! As Alexa is on the yearbook committee/club, as I said above, we've been told we MUST buy one of these ads (and create it or pay someone else too!) KA-CHING!!

My hair is a mess and my hairdresser suggested I might want to change my color. How does red sound/look to you? All my stress goes to my hair and skin. I'm like that poor character in Ocean's 13, the reviewer who checks into Al Pacino's casino only to be visited by every plague, illness, condition and misery that Clooney and his pals can come up with. I'm starting to look like him. So I'm not sure changing my hair to red so it matches my itchy, flakey, red, blotchy, rash like skin is that great an idea. Plus, my hair doesn't look like this! It's flat, limp, straight as a board and will not hold a curl for any longer than 5 minutes. I'm open to suggestions...

Shopping with my daughter for myself. I usually don't do it. To say our tastes in MY clothes are different is an understatement! I bit the bullet (more like a shotgun cartridge) and let her come with me as I looked for some summer tops. These are her picks...
 These are mine...

Out of about 15 tops tried on, I came home with three. On the plus side, and size, two were Alexa picks. Maybe I should let her come more often...

That is a short? recap of the end of summer and the beginning of fall here. Oh, and I have all this time to type this because of this...
Alexa has her license, a junior license (because she didn't go through the 300 hours+ that NYS requires for a 17year old to get a regular license) and she can drive by herself, up to 9:00 pm and with only one other non-family individual in the car. Whereas I cringe every time she leaves the house, (she still needs a lot of experience) the only way she will improve is to practice and drive more. So I'm home typing my blog and she took the car to school and will be able to drive herself home after tennis tonight. Change is good, change is good, change is good...

See you soon.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Muir's Victory Garden...

We live on a very nice street, with dutiful neighbors who tend to their yards, religiously, or have a lawn service that does. The people who owned our house before us had a landscaping service and we were excited when we first saw the house because we thought if the inside looked as good as the outside we found our Buffalo home. 

We had a lovely red Japanese maple, a string of manicured evergreen bushes that framed the front of the house and a hydrangea bush in the front right. Well the hydrangea went first. Winter was not it's friend. We had to pull it out. The lovely little red maple went next, along with the bushes in front of the door. They turned an ugly shade of rust and we had to pull them out. Last winter was the final straw, almost everything died. 

We'd get regular 'reminders' from my MIL about how nicely all our neighbors kept their yards and wasn't it too bad Norm didn't 'get' his father's talent-desire-ability-gene-pride - whatever, for keeping the yard 'perfect'. The shame was unbearable...we were homeowner failures :-(  So we sucked it up, put our big girl and boy pants on and...paid someone to pick out the right shrubs and trees, design a plan and plant it! Here is the result.

I picked out the flowers, petunias and geraniums! We can know show our faces in public. Our neighbors are speaking to us again, victory is good and blooming!

Friday, July 4, 2014


I love Stuff! I think I've said this before... I thought I'd share some of my stuff. I'm also a hopeless copy-cat. I have several friends who have started various collections and I've shamelessly started the same kind of collections. They are terrible enablers...

Let me give you a little back story, First, I have a friend who travels all over the world. She collects, among other things, floaty pens. You all remember floaty pens. These are ball point pens that have liquid in the upper portion of the pen and when you tilt them a picture/object/whatever slides up and down in the upper barrel usually advertising the place you are visiting. Easy to collect, easy to pack, takes up very little space - sometimes hard to find. I cannot visit any attraction, museum, airport,  touristy thingy without looking for floaty pens. I send my husband, daughter and friends on floaty pen searches! I'm excited because my friend Barbara brought a pen back from Paris!!! for me. I carry around a pen from Boston in my pocketbook because I want to carry it with me and play with it!

OK, that's one collection. I've got a little collection of old globes because of my same traveling friend. I do specialize in pre-WWII though. The older the better, but, I'm getting off track. The topic was STUFF!

I have a small bedroom in my house that serves as a mini guest room, my computer room, my craft room and my Stuff room...I love everything in this room, clutter and all (and there's lots of that). I've covered the walls and every surface with things that bring a smile to my face. It's my happy place when I'm home. So here's a little peek at some of my stuff.
Every year there is a craft show at the Fairgrounds in Hamburg. Usually there is an artist who makes these miniature flowers out of clay. I've got a collection of mini-orchids; all types, but mostly cymbidiums and phalenopsis - love them! Behind them I have one of the last pictures of my parents with myself, Norm and Alexa. Right where I can see it, everyday.

My motto - "Life is what happens while we are making other plans." It's the title of my life. It's not a negative and in many cases in my life for each negative there are many more positives to off-set. It also helps keep me humble.
More orchids, pictures of Norm with Kasey, my grandfather who I never knew and my little teapots. Also, the tip of my stamps. I keep several stamps at my desk that are there more for their words, wicked and true, and just because they make me smile.
Old stuff and new stuff. There is a gift store near me that sells these hand made embroidered felt and bead ornaments, I have everything from mini stockings to butterflies, bunnies, fall wreathes, birds - I'm always looking for something new. I also collect key chains - unusual key chains. The one in this photo is Achmed the Dead Terrorist, one of the puppets Jeff Dunham has created. This key chain even talks! Most of the rest of my key chains are hanging from my big Cropper Hopper that I take to scrapbook crops with me.

The keychain and butterfly are hanging from two old bottles I found at various estate sales. This is my boss, Sharon's fault! She got me started going to garage sales (didn't care so much for those) and then going to estate sales. I check them out every week. I started by looking for salt and pepper shakers that were made in Occupied Japan. They aren't worth a lot, but I like unique ones, colorful ones, different ones and I'm always on the lookout for the stamp 'Made in Occupied Japan'. The orange ones in the photo below (right back) were my first. Little beakers, unusual bottles, quirky little things, 'smalls' as they are known, are my thing.
On top of the ancient TV in my room I have these stuffed Basset Hounds. The smaller one is WebKidz, remember those?! My daughter had to have many, many of them! The larger was made by a woman from Penn Yan who used to work for one of the companies that made collectible bears. I also have a blonde panda bear she made, but I have a fond affection for Bassets as my first dog as a child was a Basset Hound, Duffy. Like my RCMP salt and pepper shakers? The little wreath on the wall behind the dogs I've had for close to over 30 years. Norm and I would go to a yearly craft show in Chester, NJ and there was a vendor who made tiny mice that were like pin cushions. Hand sewn, very detailed and just adorable. I've got several including several Christmas ornaments. This one was set inside a miniature wreath with ribbon, silk flowers and leaves. Love it!
My daughter the artist! These are all pieces of artwork Alexa did in elementary school. I think they are so cool and if she reads this she will be so embarrassed! So it's worth the post! When she was in Kindergarten or first grade she made a picture that Norm and I loved so much and thought was so good we had it framed. I couldn't get a good picture of it but it is also hanging in my room.

This is my Mom shelf. When Alexa was younger and would pick out presents for mother's day or my birthday, I took to clustering them together. She made the paint can, picked out the 'Donna' on wheels and the little stuffed animals. The movie clapboard was a gift to my Dad from me the year he 'starred' in his first movie, The Hudsucker Proxy. I've posted the picture many times here on my blog and on Facebook of him standing in his costume outside the door marked "Extras". It's hard to spot him in the film (he mostly ended up on the cutting floor), but I swear I see his nose in one shot! I'd know that nose anywhere!
Just more goodies from estate sales, an old wind up duck, spools, a chid's top and several Swedish horses. My Uncle Karl came from Sweden and my aunt always had them in her house. I started collecting them wherever I could find them. I have several sizes and colors. Love them!
Another phrase I live by. I do have what some would call a pessimistic bent to life, but really, I do look for the best and expect the best. I just want to remind myself that life is not perfect. It is not always fair and you don't always have control. You need to change what you can, accept what you can't and 'It is what it is' with the rest. As one of my stamps says, "Put your big girl panties on and deal with it..."
 Lastly, the ultimate goal in my crafting life.
I'm in the running for this and I won't be beat! Welcome to my stuff!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Ah, Summer, Ah, Youth

It' a lovely weekend here in Buffalo and Alexa decided to kill two birds with one stone - start her summer tan and do her homework. School is almost over and apparently pretty boring as she has already done all her AP class exams. I've been trying to get her to start applying for a summer job and we're going to start driving lessons, by taught by someone else! 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Boston begins with "B"

Along with hundreds of other families from across the country we are on the first of the 'Great College Tours". 
As the title suggests we are visiting five of the 60+ colleges in the Boston metro area. All but one the schools we are seeing begin with the letter "B". 

The view out our window is of Copley Square, just past the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The building with the red tile roof is the Boston Public Library or the BPL. You can see the white tent top of the race organizers. I think it's the medical tent. We walk past it all every day we visit a college in the city to get to the "T" stop. 

Tuesday marked the first anniversary of bombing at the end of last years race. The vibe in the city was a combination of remembrance, mourning and defiance. It was heart breaking to see the little girl who lost her young brother placing one of the wreaths at the sight of the bombing. Watching her standing there wiping her years away and then walking away on her own prosthetic leg was so sad. 

We also could hear, very clearly, the explosion as the bomb squad detonated the back pack that had been left near the finish line, a scary reminder and a terrible reminder of how easily terror can grip your life. 

Moving on to the purpose of our visit. Having lived on, worked on and being married to a college professor and dean for the past 36 years you'd think we wouldn't need to do this, that we would know all there is about the process of choosing, applying, and selecting a college, au contrar!

Out first school was Brandeis. This is the castle on campus. It is currently a dorm. They had a great presentation, an informative tour but I came away thinking the fit wasn't right for Alexa. It ranks at 3 out of the 4 we've seen so far. 

Weather was a bit of a downer on Tursday as we visited Boston University. We took the T and struggled with wicked wind and rain. 

We took the tour then had to wait over two hours for our Dean's tour at the School of Management. Here is one if the school cafeterias, Mariano, and it was really good. 

We had some communication issues, "Norman, answer your phone!"  We eventually ended up at the Dean's tour and we even met the Dean and a spare!  

The building was gorgeous. This is a sculpture in the lobby. Here are a few photos of the building.

We were very impressed. Right now BU is either 1 or 2 on the list. That's it for our first two days  more tomorrow and, Saturday my feet hurt!

Friday, March 7, 2014

My Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon or is it Alec Baldwin??

I love Kevin Bacon. I love his wife, Kyra Sedgewick, I love his new show 'The Following' - viewer discretion is highly advised for that one and not for the squeamish! I even love the that I can play the the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, based on the premise that everyone can connect to Kevin
Bacon within six associated people or less! Now see if you can follow this:

Kevin Bacon was in A Few Good Men with Tom Cruise. Tommy Boy was in Rock of Ages with Alec  Baldwin, Alec Baldwin grew up in Massapequa, NY and his mother banked at the then Marine Midland/HSBC bank on Sunrise Highway where MY Mother worked. My mom knew Mrs. Baldwin as a customer and I think once opened an account for one of her other boys!

So I can connect to Kevin Bacon in 4 moves thanks to my Mom!

For me the key is Alec Baldwin or rather his mother and mine! I can connect with anyone in Hollywood through my mother and Alec Baldwin's mother! I wonder when the Hollywood invites will begin to pour in. Too bad I'm too late with my post for awards season.

Now if only I liked Alec Baldwin as much as I like Kevin Bacon. Hey Kevin, can I meet your mom?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Planning on Letting Go...

My mother-in-law complains to me all the time that I'm not sentimental. Just because I don't 'reminisce' and regale every conversation, every day, about going to China, seeing Alexa for the first time, her first diaper change, her first word, memories of her doing EVERYTHING! Apparently I'm not sentimental and am basically a cold fish with no sense of humor because of this. Now that I've gotten that off my chest, we are preparing to start the great college search for Alexa.

Now, I will admit to being the consummate worrier. Also, Alexa is a very smart cookie so the decision and process for her is a little more complicated than mine was. My mother didn't think my grades would get me into a four-year school and she was high on the junior college bandwagon - Nassau Community College. I went to my guidance counselor and told him I wanted to go far enough away that I couldn't and wouldn't want to come home every weekend, but close enough I could drive home with someone else for major holidays and school breaks. The guidance counselor basically looked inside a 5 hour drive radius and he came up with Keene St. College in New Hampshire, the only school I applied to besides NCC. THANK GOD, I got into Keene! You see, the important thing for me was to 1. get off Long Island 2. Go where no one knew me 3. Go where I could get in (in that order)! I went to Keene sight unseen except for a few pictures taken in a snowstorm from the only other person I ended up knowing before going to New Hampshire, a childhood friend who I saw only occasionally.  It all worked for me. I got a good education, discovered I was not teacher material (especially to little kids) and most important, met the love of my life.

Alexa is a completely different story. She is smart, very smart - she is driven, has a great work ethic, has no problem making friends and is beautiful (everything I wasn't). However, Alexa is singularly driven. Her focus is completely on finishing high school as successfully as she can to prepare for college. As for college itself, she's kinda clueless. I mean that in a good way, she wants to go to college, she just doesn't know where or what she wants to study. Not an uncommon thing for a 17 year old. So far, she's going on what friends are doing and since all her friends are as smart or smarter than her, it's not a bad thing. Alexa is a child of college campuses. She has lived on a college campus or has been on college campuses her whole life. She is friendly with college presidents. She is comfortable around college students. All of these things would make it easier to plan for college, you'd think…

We are looking at Boston University, and a few 'reach' schools. Also, we're focused on New England. Lex really has no preferences, but - she wants to go on college tours. Do you see my dilemma? How can we go on tours when she doesn't know what she want to see or do for that matter.  Ask her and she'll say, "Business--? maybe Finance? Management? Science, no I'm not smart enough…"

It is hard to give her guidance because both Norm and I are such small school advocates and that is the environment we are used to. Trying to not impose my own prejudices on her and yet guide her to what will work best for her is really hard. Looking at my daughter as a grown-up and subjugating my preferences is such a part of letting go and sending your child into the world. It's scary, not the going, but guiding her in the direction that is best - for her. If that doesn't make me sentimental and caring for my child then maybe my MIL is right, but I don't think so. My child she may have been, but she's an independent free thinking individual now and I need to be a mother to who she is now, not who she was then.

Now, letting her drive, that's a whole other story, she's way to young, a baby...

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Moose and Muffin Effect...

I discovered one of my favorite children's books when I was working at Keuka College. The Learning Center on campus that assists students in helping them succeed in college via a variety of strategies and tutoring asked staff members if they would help some freshman students who were having a hard time prioritizing not only their school work load but life away from home. As an introduction to the program, we read If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff

It's a delightful story that helped us to understand how students can get distracted, off course, loose sight of goals and objectives and generally get side tracked by their new college lives.  Lately, especially yesterday, I was the moose!

I had a project I needed to finish for work so I gathered my supplies, sat down at the kitchen table and started to work. First thing, break open the file folders I bought that was part of the project and cut them according to the directions. LEGAL file folders, not LETTER file folders - like the ones I bought. OK, quick trip to Office Depot, I could be there and back in 10 minutes.  I'm literally going out the door, keys in hand and my daughter says, "Mom, I need a stamp! This application has to be mailed so they get it tomorrow!" Who, doesn't know that the P.O. isn't open on Sunday? my daughter, that's who. We hope that if we get it there early enough to be processed first thing that it will be delivered the same day, Monday.

She borrows a stamp from her grandmother who asks me to get her stamps as I'm going to the post office…I sit down on the couch as Alexa is writing out the envelope and I hear, "Mom! I need a check to go with the application!" Like the good slave I am to my child, I write out a check. I sit down and hear, "Mom! you need to sign the application!" I sign the application.

20 minutes later I finally leave the house. I drive to the post office and check the mail slots and find one that picks up at 6:00 AM, drop the letter and head home. (After first buying 3 books of stamps from the automated machine, one for me, one for the grandmother and one for Alexa).

Almost an hour later I arrive home, and yes, I remembered the LEGAL file folders! Just call me Bullwinkle...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mama Buddha...

We all have those longings to go back to weight we were when we were younger. Each year as I visit my doctor for my yearly physical I get the usual warnings about losing weight. Over the years I've gained AND lost significant amounts of weight, but currently I'm on a gain swing. 

I'm a contradiction when it comes to food, because I don't 'Love' food. It's a necessity of life. I love watching cooking shows and cooking competition shows. I strongly dislike cooking. I don't drool over pictures of food. My downfall is dessert. I love cookies, cakes and most importantly CHOCOLATE! Chocolate is my 'drug' of choice. I'm picky though, a purist really. Don't make me fancy decorated cakes and cookies, a basic Toll House cookie is nothing short of nirvana to me. 

I love a variety of fast food also. An Arby's Mid-Classic with cheese is a current favorite. Firehouse's Engineer (sans mustard and pickle) is my current all-around favorite. Bagels, have I mentioned bagels? A sesame bagel with butter, I could eat one every day. Robin at Bagel Jays (the best bagels in the Buffalo area) knows it's me as soon as I give my order at the drive-up window. Did I mention sandwiches? I love sandwiches. Turkey with Swiss, a little lettuce, tomato and mayo is my favorite.  

I also love a variety of foods that my family will have nothing to do with, like mushrooms. I love mushrooms, sautéed, stuffed, fried, in cream soup, yum! I also like olives, plain old cocktail olives and recently black olives, split pea soup, escargot, gazpacho, and more.

I don't get these favorites often so I'm not overdoing on them. My doctor did, however, put the fear of Weight Watchers in me this time around. I'm getting a little out of control. The cakes , cookies, sweets, and carbs are starting to catch up to me. I'm also not the best at exercising. Rather,  I'm in running (ha, ha) for the biggest couch potato award. So, in response, I and we, as a family, have decided to join the local Y. Yes, I'm going to start exercising (you can stop laughing now). They even have exercise bikes I can sit down at and watch TV (my kinda exercise!) I'll check in in a few months and let you know how I'm doing, provided I survive!