Friday, March 16, 2012

It had me at "Turn your iPAd on"

So I bought an iPad 2 last week.

The day after the announcement of the 'new' iPad. As you can see I am not an early adopter. I only purchased my first cell phone two years ago (much to the amusement of my friends and family). I didn't need one before then just as I didn't need a tablet before now. And those who know me well know I'm not an impulse buyer by any stretch.

So, I brought my new toy home and opened the box looking for the instructions. And as some of you already know - being iPad owners already - all I found was a little card that read  "Turn your iPad on". Right then I was hooked. What an awesome concept. Turn it on and go! No fuss no muss... just do it.

So a week later and I still don't have a lot going on the iPAD. It has made my internet browsing life extremely compact and convenient but I haven't loaded a lot of apps yet. I know 16 gig is a lot of storage but I'm taking my time finding out all that this little device can do. For now you'll find me muttering "Well now isn't THAT clever".

Stay tuned.

Monday, February 20, 2012

It's Countdown Time

I do not want to wish away the year. There is lots to be done and experienced between now and vacation but a countdown adds some fun to the wait as well.

This year Dave & I will be spending the Baseball Birthday vacation with my sister KT and her husband, JL in Florida. Dave and I will take the Auto Train (tickets already purchased so it's official now) to Florida. We'll spend a day at KT and JL's home and then the four of us will head to Miami to see the Marlin in their new stadium. It will be extra fun as the Marlins will be playing the Phillies!

The next day after the game the four of us will head to Key West for a visit. We'll drive back from Key West via Route 1 to Kissimmee (KT and JL's home) and after a day's rest there, Dave and I will return to Media, PA via Route 1.

We plan to have hotel reservations for the night after the baseball game and in Key West. The rest of the trip we will find our hotels along the way giving us much more flexiblity to explore.

In September, I'll be heading to Ocean City New Jersey with my sisters to celebrate KT's 50th birthday. We'll stay at the Scarborough Inn where my friends and I spent our 50th birthday celebration in August 2010.

Lots to look forward to. :)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hold onto the bar and don't get off until the ride comes to a complete stop.

A co-worker died in the early morning hours Tuesday. It wasn't a surprise exactly but it is still a shock to the system and I've been thinking about him and our relationship a lot these past few days. We learned on Monday that he wouldn't survive surgery and without surgery he wouldn't survive.

The fact that he is gone is weird and it will be quite a while before I can really grasp it. Jim was sick the entire time we knew him. He worked for our company for 7 years. His heart was bad. He was in his 40's but his heart was 80 and not a healthy 80. I'm not sure what condition or disease caused that - it was what it was. He survived at least two serious hospitalizations in those 7 years and always came back. This time the infection was too much for his body to fight anymore. I am still reeling some from this.

This post isn't about Jim's illness or my dealing with his death, though It's about what I learned from knowing him. You see, Jim and I clashed often over work. Quite frankly, to my way of thinking, he was just short of useless in our workplace.

And what I learned from knowing Jim is that no one should be defined by any single aspect of their life.

Jim was a good husband and father. He adored his girls (one just graduated from college another a freshman) and his wife. He loved the Beatles. He loved photography and was quite good at it. If he asked you a question about your day or your family or something you did; he was genuinely interested. He wasn't just making conversation. He had a sarcastic side that - once you got used to it- was pretty funny.

He was a terrible co-worker and frustrated me endlessly in that arena but he was a really great person. He will be missed.

And here's something to think about  .... 4 hours after we heard of Jim's death we learned that a former co-worker with whom we have all remained close had a baby. Coincidence? Maybe - but the baby (healthy and fine) was born two months early. Can anyone say emotional roller coaster?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Arthropoda; Say it Three Times Fast.

Good luck. I could (barely) say it once and I'm pretty sure I got it wrong.

Today was the Lancaster Homeschool Spelling Bee. For the second year in a row I had the privilege to be the pronouncer. This Bee has two sessions; a junior bee for 4th and 5th graders and a senior bee for 6th, 7th and 8th graders. Each had 15 participants. The event was held at the Eprhata Public Library.

I enjoy my participation in the Spelling Bee a lot. As a young child I was a poor speller. My father was fond of saying, "Paula, if you could spell as well as you swim...." I really wasn't a great swimmer but I enjoyed it much more than I did spelling. It was my second grade teacher, Ms. Forrest who got through to me finally. So watching these kids work through the words is fascinating to me. I enjoy my role as pronouncer because it feels so personal. It's me and the child. I wonder if they know how much I'm rooting for them. I would make a horrible judge - that's the person who has to ring the bell when the speller misses.

Today's bee had lots of memorable moments. In no particular order:

-The spellers were not given pre-assigned numbers this year. They were permitted to sit where they wished; in the order they wished. The speller who ended up in seat #1 in the junior bee was Sara Zook. I wondered to how often she gets to be first with a name like that.
- Each level began with an unjudged round where each child spelled their name to become comfortable with the standing up front alone with the microphone. One speller stumbled over spelling her name. When we mentioned it later she said she couldn't hear her voice and thought the microphone had cut out. Her sister suggested that perhaps it was because most people do not call her by her formal name - the one she was trying to spell. (I love you, Bippy. BIGHUGS)
- In the junior bee my heart went out to the speller who (I think) forgot what word she was spelling. The word was CROWD. I said the word, put it in a sentence and said the word again for her. She repeated it back to us. The judges, too, felt certain she understood the word. Yet she spelled CROWN. Ugh.
- For each speller I would look at the word and say it to myself first and then say it out loud. This was helpful especially in multiple syllable words. I wanted to make sure I didn't rush through the pronunciation. The word was PROGRESS. I say this with a short O sound. My husband, the Canadian, always says it with a long O sound. It's something we 'fuss' over from time to time. When I came to the word it was his voice I heard in my head and almost laughed out loud.... almost.
- One little speller was obviously guessing on a few words. She would search the air and come out with the right letters and when she realized she had survived another round she'd break into a huge grin and walk back to her seat with a little extra kick in her step. It was adorable.
- And then there was Arthropoda. We were in the senior bee now. The word for the speller was PHYLUM. She asked me to put it in a sentence. I looked to the guide and the sentence was "Insects belong in the phylum ....... " and then there was silence. Perhaps only 4 or 5 seconds but that's a lifetime when you are the only one speaking and everyone in the room - including the speller - is waiting for you. Forutnately that's all the time it took for me to realize it didn't matter if I misprononounced ARTHROPODA because that wasn't the word she had to spell. So I plowed ahead and I'm pretty sure it was wrong. When I looked up the speller (and eventual winner of the bee) had a very kind, sympathetic smile. To me it said, "It's ok, we'll get through this".

To summarize - I had fun today. My brother (who organizes this bee with his wife) told me that my glasses are the perfect pronouncer glasses. I hope that means I get to do this again next year. :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

White Christmas

Today we had our almost annual Christmas in January. My dad and stepmom go to Florida from mid-Decmeber to mid-January and often that means having Christmas with them in January. It hasn't happened that way every year but most of us would prefer it that way.

This year we planned to meet for brunch and gift exchange. We woke to about 3 inches of snow and very cold conditions. Sleet and icy rain followed the snow making driving a lot of fun (NOT!). Dave, Jimmy, Emma and I arrived a little before 11. We were STARVING. I had been out running and had only had a granola bar to tide me over. The others ate sparingly (if at all) knowing that Dinana is such a good cook. Unfortunately, due to the weather (getting stuck behind a snowplow can really slow one's progress) the other family members - Christine, Amanda & Bruce and Erin did not arrive until around 11:30.

Brunch was as good as expected consisting of scrambled egg casserole, mixed fruit, biscuits and sausage gravy. I didn't have the sausage gravy but I heard it was very good. Brunch was followed by birthday ice cream cake in honor of Christine (1/29) and Emma (1/31).

We spent a good amount of time around the table reminiscing about Christmas' and other family gatherings. As in most families there are things that just won't be forgotten. I'm pretty sure we remember most of the same stories year after year but it never seems to grow old and we laugh just as hard each time.

We also made a decision to 'officially' change Erin's name to Fred. Family members know that thanks to Uncle Thomas, Erin earned the nickname Fred several years ago while playing "HATS" at Aunt Meg's sibling BBQ. Asked to relate the story to Gumpop and Dinana however, we realized that, similar to "Where's the Pool" no one was quite sure exactly how the name thing happened but we know it involved the people named above. Anyway, the reason for the 'official' name change is that Emma's boyfriend is named Arron and the confusion - although often comical - was getting to be too much. Emma pointed out that it was interesting that Erin who is family by blood was having her name changed whereas Arron who is not family gets to keep his. We tried to consider changing Arron's by asking what his middle name was. It's Christopher. Well we already have a Christopher (Dinan's son) and a Chris (my sister) in the family so that would not do. Therefore, Fred it is .

After breakfast and birthday cake we went to the living room to exchange gifts. After that there was the annual reading of "Red Ranger Came Calling". Dad first read this book to Amanda in 2000. Then in 2001 to both Emma and Amanda at Christmas. I don't remember when Erin joined in but it is written in the front cover of the book. Dates also inscribed there include the year that Gumpop forgot to bring the book (celebration was at our house that year) and the girls made him go back to get it and the year that the lights went out and they had to read by flashlight. As you can imagine every year now someone checks to make sure there are batteries for the flashlight and that Gumpop has not fogotten the book. :)

After the reading was completed, Dave commented that it was evident how important this reading was because it took priority over the first half of the Villanova basketball game. So we turned on the game and all watched the second half and the overtime. Villanova won (over St. John's).

All in all a very good day! :) Here are some picures.

Wating.... and blocking the heat from the fireplace

Yes, Emma really does have a brother. 

Cute picture of Amanda and Bruce

Two of these really did contain Pajamas!

It's all about the boxes. These two have been known to argue
over who got the best box at Christmas.

Gettin gready for "Red Ranger Came Calling"