Monday, October 27, 2008

Busy Weekend

It was a whirlwind, crazy weekend. Blake and I had a BLAST in Gainesville on Friday. We got there early enough to be one of the first 500 fans and get a free sub for dinner(although I did have to pay $4 for a bottle of water) and didn't get home too late either.

I was up at 7 on Saturday morning to make my Chili. At the cook off, I got scammed, swindled, cheated out of second place. 6 chili's, each had a different color ticket, the citizens visiting the fair, go down the row sampling each chili, taking a ticket from each. At the end of the row, common sense would reason, you put the ticket of your favorite in a jar, but noooo, you put your top 3 choices in either a 1st place jar, a 2nd place jar, or 3rd place jar. There was lots of smack talk happening because my red tickets and Jimmy's pink tickets looked pretty even in the first place jar, with a few green and blue. The second place jar had mostly blue and purple, where 3rd had mostly green. One poor guy had a chili soooo hot it took the skin off the roof of my mouth, I don't think I saw any orange tickets in any jar, and his family was there! So I didn't even place in the cook-off, but I did have tons of fun and got lots of recipe requests!

I went straight from the cook-off to the soccer field where we lost, but Blake made a spectacular goal!

Freshman/Sophomore homecoming was canceled at the last minute due to lack of ticket sales, they're gonna go back to just one homecoming for the whole school next weekend.

Sunday was spent being lazy in the morning, grocery shopping in the afternoon and helping the kids with the final assembly of all their "spirit week" costumes.

Today I was supposed to be getting ready for the Relay for Life kick off party, JJ had 3 sleepless, manic (happy manic, this time, not testy like usual) days and now is down with day 2 of a migraine and (I'm crying as I write this) I felt it was in the Relays best interest to send this e-mail to the Event Chair this morning...

I'm so sorry to spring this on you at the last minute. I really, until just last night, planned to be the Survivor chair and throw myself into it. I cant do it. Things, at home, are not well and I have to focus on my family now. We are working on getting JJ better, but there are good days and bad. Problem is, I have no idea when or how bad, the bad days are gonna be. When Billie asked me to chair the Survivor committee, we were in a phase of many more good days than bad, now the phase has swung around. It breaks my heart to quit, but I cant be relied on and I don't want to do a half-ass job of it. RFL is a cause that speaks to my heart, I really feel like my time and effort makes a difference to the people that the Relay benefits. I hope that maybe things will be better next year and I can give freely of my time. Again, I'm sorry to leave the committee in a lurch. Suzanne

I have been "relaying" for 6 years now, some years I'm more involved than others, but this year, I was so honored to be asked to chair the survivor committee. I have chaired the luminaria committee several times and have seen the heartbreak of those who lost loved ones, multiplied over and over, I was looking forward to celebrating on the fighting and sometimes winning side of the all pervasive deadly disease that is cancer. I'll still be there, I'll still help,and fight and hope, but I cant be counted on in a leadership position, as I never know when I'll have to tend my own family and that really where my heart needs to concentrate.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chili Cook-Off

As if I didn't have enough going on, with the soccer season starting this weekend, freshman/sophomore homecoming dance, surprising my baby with a road trip on Friday to see his all-time favorite college team, Relay for Life kick off party on Monday( I'm the Survivor chairperson this year). I went and signed up for the firehouse chili cook-off on Saturday morning! What was I thinking? Actually, when I signed up for the cook-off, two or three months ago, nothing was going on this weekend! There wasn't anything on the calendar...I swear.

I have five slowly maturing palates in my house, some like spicy, some don't. My tomato and beef chili is nothing to write home about, its just like my spaghetti sauce except I swap out the oregano and obscene amounts of garlic and throw in chili powder and kidney beans, then set out 3 different Tabasco sauces(classic, green and sweet) for everybody to adjust the spiciness to their liking. My Fiesta Chili, is another story, ooh baby...seriously yummy. I'm hoping to be the dark horse, slipping my chicken chili in between everybody else's "classic" chili, and maybe "wow" the judges with it...I'll let ya know.

Fiesta Chili - Not just yummy, pretty too!

2 pounds chicken - cooked and shredded

1 sweet onion - chopped

1 red bell pepper - chopped

1 yellow bell pepper - chopped

8 Jalapenos - chopped (really tiny)

2 cloves garlic - minced

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/2 tsp sage

2 tsp cumin

3 Tbsp butter

1/4 cup flour

2 cups chicken broth

2 - 15 oz cans great northern beans, undrained

I do my chicken this way, and i usually just chunk up the veggies and give em a whirl in the food processor.

In a big pan that everything will eventually fit in, saute all the veggies until tender, throw in the spices (adjusting to suit your spice tolerance)(same goes for the amount of jalapenos you use). Mix in the chicken. In a separate pot, melt the butter, whisk in the flour, cooking it for a minute, then stir in the chicken broth. Now, dump both cans of beans and the broth mixture into the veggie/chickie mixture stir it all up and let it bubble gently on the stove for about 20 minutes.

This gets very thick, you could rinse the beans and add a little more broth to loosen it up a bit. We like to put shredded pepper jack cheese on top, maybe a dollop of sour cream and some green onions. I don't know if this is the winner, but I think it'll be enjoyed at least!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday Stuff

Lots seemed to happen this past weekend...
I took Friday off to get ready for the volleyball party...which was great! We had so much fun! JJ set the gas grill on fire, unfortunately, I missed that part. I won the coin toss to take John and his girlfriend to the movie, while JJ got to stay at the party and entertain the "personality deficient" coach (she's a nice lady, just kinda lacking in personality). He got to talking and suddenly the coach says..."um, I think you ought to check the grill." Flames were shooting out of the vents and licking the screens of the pool cage. JJ moved the grill a little farther away from the screen and nonchalantly just kept re-filling his water bottle from the pool and pouring it on the grill hood, as a retired fire fighter he knew better than to actually open the grill. He said the looks on the coaches faces, at his lackadaisical attitude toward the whole thing was priceless!
I almost over slept on Saturday morning, 6:10 JJ wakes me up and asks if I was going to work...OMG, YES!!! I showered and got out of the house in 20 minutes ( I may have skipped the drying off part)...apparently, I've got some latent hurrying skills I didn't know I had. I even got my lunch ready too! After 12 hours at work I was blessed to have my house and husband all to myself Saturday night. Every. Single. Kid. Was somewhere else for the night, with no advance planning, the stars aligned all on their own. Then it was a lovely surprise to get home and discover my slightly manic (but happy) husband had cleaned the whole house so no remnant of the late party remained. He also had done all the laundry...even folded and put away! Normally, over sleeping is a bad omen...
Then last night I get home from work expecting the Sunday night "oops, I forgot I have homework, so I couldn't do my chores" routine, but nope, all homework done, everybody watching the Ray's game (woo-hoo, we're going to the World Series!!!) and I got to go to bed early.
Now its Monday and I'm looking forward to a day off tomorrow, the weather has blissfully started to change around here, the humidity has dropped and the evening air is cool and sweet. I love my Tuesdays off, I work four 12 hour shifts, have Tuesday off and then work two more 12 hour shifts, so I plan nothing on my Tuesday off but re-charging. Of course there's always laundry and making dinner, taxi-ing kids hither and yon, and thanks to manic hubby, I think I can skip the laundry tomorrow !

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Teenage Girls

I've got two teenage girls, fourteen months apart in age, but light years apart in every aspect of themselves.

One brunette/olive skinned, One blond /golden skinned.

One slim build, One curvy.

One athletic, One studious.

One adventurous, One cautious.

One hip-hop, One alternative.

One argumentative and bull headed, One over-agreeable and eager to please.

One who lives in the minute, One who lives for the future.

One who makes life spicy, One who makes life sweet.

One boy-crazy, One not.

One procrastinator, One planner.

Both are extremely creative girls who have learned to decorate their lives to perfectly suit themselves. Both have archaeological digs scheduled for their closet floors. Both are part of close knit groups of 3 best-friends, with countless acquaintances. Both have amazing faults and blessings that make them the spectacular young women that they are. These traits will serve them well in adulthood as they learn to be themselves. They compliment each other perfectly and may learn from each other, but for now, neither understands or "gets" the other, but still, sisters they are.

As they grow up, (as an "only girl", growing up, my sisters in law have assured me) they will learn to like each other, to learn to live with their differences and appreciate each other. Looking at my sisters in law's personalities, and their relationships with each other ( BTW, there are 4 of them) I have always thought it might actually be possible, but my heart, feared it would never happen (how can two girls who fight so much and are sooooo different actually get along?). They won't suddenly wake up one morning and be best friends, it'll happen gradually over time as maturity and acceptance sets in. I don't have a specific example of this happening, but lately, their manner with each other seems to be easier, I've seen more smiles between them than I have negotiated arguments, I have heard them consult each other on Homecoming dresses and it really possible that a huge source of grief in my life is ending? I know it's not totally gone, but the beginning is here!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Learning to Blog

This weekend I learned something important...I need a notebook.
Saturday morning at soccer practice, I had the pleasure to sit next to the most awful, miserable human being I have met in a long time. She was telling me a story of her life from grade school and was telling it with such passion, you'd have thought it happened to one of her kids yesterday. I kept thinking...gah, get a life, get over it, but wait, this will make good blog fodder. I sat down Saturday night to write it, and most of it was gone, I shoulda written it as soon as I got away from her.
On Sunday, as I was going about my business, I composed in my head, a lovely little bit about what a nice day I was having, the kids acting human, not over cooking the roast(again), welcoming 2 friends to our dinner table and having enough to go around, so on and so forth...I sat down last night to write about it...poof, it was gone.
I could probably try to bring back the feelings I wanted to convey to you, but, it just wouldn't be the same. I gotta remember how fast life moves around here and get my thoughts down the first time 'cause otherwise they get lost. and the initial thought of "wow, this'll make a good story" gets fouled up in either my insecurity or just plain lost.
I'll try to do better by you, sorry I lost those two...they sounded really great in my head.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Power of Communication

A couple of days ago, I was in a mood. It started with something that annoyed me and I didn't say anything...well, ummm, it morphed into something big, childish and ugly. Suddenly everything was irritating and just kept feeding the beast. I let go in a shouting, cussing, slamming things down kinda way. It wasn't pretty.( I'm blushing right now just writing about it).

For my efforts, I got it thrown right back at me. It was ugly, it's happened a couple of times before, and I'll say, I never want it to happen again.

I (mistakenly) thought that "letting it out" would make me feel better. Not a chance, I realized, as I was ranting, that all the things I was complaining about were petty, so what if Sam's club cant put anything in the same spot two weeks in a row( for example). I don't want to be that person to whom every little irritant is cause for a big hulla-baloo. I want to cherish my blessings and not waste my energy ranting about the little things.

To accomplish that, I've discovered, I need to voice my irritation with certain things and not let them sit and start sucking all the other negative thoughts into it. Angry is not an emotion I like, in myself nor directed at me.

Communication is key and we have struggled with it over the years, we both have a problem with holding things in, so as not to burden or bother the other, until it gets bigger than it needed to be in the first place. Neither of us thinks enough of our own thoughts and feelings to imagine the other wants to know, to help, or just hear.

With every ounce of my being, I intend to be conscious of my own feelings about what matters and what doesn't, to voice my opinion when it really matters to me, and not let the little things get in the way of counting my blessings.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Volleyball Party

To this point, I have come up with very little. I have to call the coach and see what she expects. I'm thinking, volleyball net in the front yard(back yard has a slope), Wii or PS2 guitar hero in the living room, and the pool out back. There has been a lot of high school drama on the team this year and this "team building" party is mandatory. They party instead of practice. Its still togetherness, my house isn't that big and here in FL, its all on one level.

We host a lot of huge sleepovers, so I think this party wont be too much trouble, they go home when its over.

After all, they are teenagers, loud music, and food are pretty much all they need. Maybe if I'm feeling creative I'll decorate in the school colors(again, no brainer, school colors are red, white and blue). I'll dig out my Fourth of July stuff, and just use the stuff without flags all over it.

We love veggie trays around here and not just for parties. In addition to the standard carrots, celery, cucumber, and broccoli, we like to have Vidalia onions, pea pods, cauliflower, and several colors of peppers.

Deviled eggs



maybe chicken too, if parents expect to stay. I'll buy it and cook it later in the weekend if parents don't stay.

I have to work until 2 that day and Jill has a Dr. appointment at 2:50(weird time). So all of that can be done the day before(my day off) and all I'll have to do is set it out. Hubby mans the grill, I man the condiments and open the cheese slices.

My godmother gave me a deviled egg tray that holds 30 egg the math...not 12, not 24, not 36...did they sell eggs in cartons of 15 at some point in history?

Hey, I think I just planned the party, Coach said she was bringing drinks, and one of the parents offered to buy the burgers(I just have to figure out which one now).

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Its Only Little OLD Me

It just dawned on me, that now I've outed myself to ya'll, started posting, made my subscriptions public, and started commenting, I might want to introduce myself properly.

Hi, I'm Sue!

By trade, I'm a 911 operator for a small fire department on the west side of Florida (hurricane lane). I've been doing that for a loooooong time (17 years, actually, shhh, don't tell anyone). I started this blog with some posts about my co-workers.... I'm over that now. There are forces at work, in my life, that whisper "your shift working days are numbered".

I live in a suburban, malignant sub-division surrounded by country that has absolutely no local personality other than "change is bad". I'm an hour from Big City, and an hour and a half from "the mouse".

9 years ago my 3 year old son and I moved in with the man and children I married last June. On our first date (and since this is MY blog, I can say with certainty...the first time we went out together to a movie, he picked me up, he paid, we went out for ice cream after, was a what if all 4 kids were there and the movie was Toy Story WAS a date) he told me, that he had trouble finding women, to date, that didn't think 3 kids, who were barely school age, were "baggage". To which I replied...didn't you know I'm a bag lady? Those kids are MINE, I dare you to defy me!

We've had quite a life together and our wedding wasn't the "beginning' as weddings typically are, We merely confirmed the family that we had already become, publicly and legally.

Last winter it came to our attention that a friend (and ex-stepbrother, on their mother's side) of our kids needed a place to live. He was given a rotten slice of life...Mom's a junkie, Dad's in jail, he was living with his granny until she had a stroke and had to go into a nursing home. Then he lived with his 23 year old, sister (who'd just had a baby), and failed to get along with her hubby. Punk-ass 17 year old, talking to his big sister, wasn't respectful enough for hubby. So, as we had a spare room(which is why I'm blogging at the dining room table), we laid out some ground rules and said welcome.

So that's the basics of how I came to be at this place, I read all your blogs and wanted to start my own, but I didn't know what my voice was, I don't have a shtick, a draw, or even any knowledge of this computer stuff(I still can't get my profile pic to work), then I realized that my life, while, to me, seemed mundane, really is something that might possibly be interesting, I find funny, clever stories to tell family and friends in everything we do...why not share them?

I don't have clever monikers for my kids and since I'm using my first name I, what's the harm in using theirs. I'd like to introduce them...

Dave - 18 year old high school senior, mediocre grades, rap music, huge pants, gangsta wannabe that works at a daycare center after school program and LOVES it.

Cat - 16 year old high school junior, mediocre grades, a million friends, volleyball and basketball playing athlete, works the YMCA camp in the summer, and is officially only allowed to wear potato sacks from now on.

John - 15 year old, (first born twin, therefore "older" than his sister), high school sophomore, stellar grades, but struggles to achieve them, soccer playing athlete, with lots of friends, he's a thoughtful, thinker who genuinely cares what you think of him and his actions.

Jill - 15 year old, (younger twin), high school sophomore, stellar grades and makes it look effortless, athletic, but has never settled on a favorite as she didn't take to dance and didn't want to compete in gymnastics, she's trying soccer this year. she has a tight knit group of three girls that do everything together and yet all maintain unique individuality.

Blake - 12 year old, middle school senior( 8th grade), my dearest baby(I can't was him and me against the world for his first 3 years), mediocre grades, struggles to get done with his homework fast enough so there's more time for sports, he plays basketball and soccer but LOVES anything sports related and is training to be the next Schwab.

And as for me... well, um, ...I don't know. I was never taught how to think for myself, or to trust and accept my likes and dislikes as being acceptable. It was always about "fitting in", or belonging". I don't know myself, actually, and I'd kinda like to. I want to find my voice now, I want to live my life rather than letting life happen to me. That's what's happening here...I'm discovering I like commas and my spell checker likes to point out that I don't like apostrophes Ill chronicle my letting go of the apostrophe even if my spell checker doesnt like it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pay it Forward

Here we go!

Diwriter set up a pay it forward contest and picked me! YIPPEE! That girl has got some fierce knitting skillz. One would think, that after many years of friendship and my total failure to understand how you can actually use two pointy sticks and a piece of string to make something pretty, she'd have made something for me (even, if only, so she could stick her tongue out at me and my lack of skillz)...but alas and alack, nothing. Now she has to make me something (sticking my tongue out at Diwriter). I'll probably get a doodle on a used napkin after teasing her this way!

I'm not totally without my own skillz, I can crochet, I can do laundry, I can maintain a modicum of sanity with a houseful of teenagers (or at the very least a facade of sanity) .

So with that said...I don't know if you're gonna get, something home made? freshly laundered? maybe I'll just send you a kid. Tell me your skillz, I wanna know what else is out there to do besides laundry! First 3 win!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Crazy Life

It would seem that I'm being taken up on my offer to host my daughters volleyball team party! YIKES!

It was during the pre-season parents meeting/pep rally, I don't know what came over me, I was just so proud of my daughter, getting picked for the varsity team, and, well, I guess I got caught up in the moment. We had some scheduling conflicts (stalling?) trying to pick a date at the meeting and then it just kinda slipped from my mind.

My husband calls me at work the other day and simply says "October 17th." I had no clue what he was talking about.

He said "you know, for the party."

"What party?"

"The one you offered to host, at that meeting I couldn't go to."

"Oh... yeah... right...that."

So now we get to planning, I have a huge week at work,

- union meeting tomorrow night,

- Commission meeting Wednesday,

- Town hall meeting Thursday,

- political sign waving on street corners on Friday evening, closely followed by a meeting at the middle school about the 8th grade D.C. Trip.


all this fun gets wrapped up nicely with a 45 minute drive to get my mother from the airport on MIDNIGHT!

and that's all in addition to the usual...4 soccer practices for 2 boys, Volleyball practice every day( no late bus at our school), key club pumpkin patch, and I have no idea when the next orthodontist appointment is ( I lost the card) I have a sneaking feeling it's this week.

... Damn, who told my mother she could go away this week. I need drivers!
Maybe I can charm her into helping with the party plans...she loves that stuff

Shout Out to My Roots

You Might Be From Long Island If…" By David Strauss and Evan Goldstein.

I did edit this a bit I took out all the references to sports( I didn't get them)and the ones that belong in "you know you grew up in the 80's when..."

Half your senior class worked at Roosevelt Field.

NCC may be 13th grade, but heck, Playboy voted them the best looking college girls in America. And Hofstra sucks.

You know the exact point at which Queens turns into Nassau simply on intuition.

You love the Glen Curtis Boulevard, and use it every time you visit the Coliseum.

Four words: United Skates of America.

You grew up thinking Chinese food was a basic food group.

You know that the EAB tree is such an attempt to become Manhattan, but you go out for the ceremony every year anyway.

Oh, your parents are from Brooklyn? So are mine!

After seeing a movie, you remembering spending hours deciding what to do afterwards, then ending up at the diner since nothing else was still open.

Yes, admit it, you've cruised the Pike.

You can pinpoint the day that you realized that Adventureland sucks. You are nearing the day that you realize that Great Adventure sucks.

You remember when you'd rather walk than take the late bus.

You think that High School sports just aren't that important.

You know where the Coliseum Motor Inn is, but you've never actually stayed there. You know someone who stayed at the Commack Motor Inn after Prom.

You've sat around on New Year's thinking: "Times Square, or something lame? Times Square, or something lame? Oh, what the hell, something lame."

You once ditched school and went to Eisenhower Park or Jones Beach.

You've tried to find the Amityville horror house.

You've gotten a Slurpy in the winter.

You remember where you were May 24, 1980, at 7:11 of Overtime.

You remember when Newsday first added color to Part II.

You have cursed at the monopoly that is Cablevision.

You've argued with your city friends over whether LILCO is worse than Con Ed.

You know the many advantages and disadvantages of LaGuardia vs. Kennedy, and once you actually schlepped out to Islip.

Long Island Voice? Why the hell would I want that? Oh, it's free? Gimme two. And a couple of those Island-Ears too.

The most exciting day of your summer was when tickets to every Jones Beach show went on sale. You used to camp out at Ticketron for them.

Your elementary school promoted dodge ball as the top gym activity. (That's gym, not P.E.)

Loews? Sony? Loews? Sony?

You don't remember why, but you actually ate at White Castle that night after all those beers.

You can spout off all the LIRR stops between Penn Station and Seaford.

You get a wave of nostalgia when someone mentions Nunley's.

Two words: Safety Town.

You accept without question the East Meadow triangle: a nice school, a nice hospital and a nice maximum security prison.

You know the back way out of the Jones Beach theater.

You remember WDRE, but complain that the original WLIR was better in the mid-80s anyway.