Twenty-five years ago

This morning began a bit rushed; I was so focused on making breakfast, packing lunch, and getting ready for work that I completely forgot the importance of the date to me until hours later.

Again I had not slept well, so I was more tired than usual. Only when I was gathering my laptop, my pump bag, and my sneakers from the van, after I’d parked in the overflow parking lot where I usually park because it’s closer to the side of the building where my desk is, did I realize that I didn’t know where my ID badge was.  Ug!  Rather than be too upset that I needed to walk around the building to the front lobby and request a temporary badge from the always-friendly receptionist, however, I considered it an opportunity to get some more steps for our annual walking challenge currently in progress. Also, I guessed that my badge was in the plastic bag in which I’d put several things to carry home, along with my other items, on Friday–I worked from home on Monday–and that I would find it in the bag when I got home.

After I got the temporary badge, I went to the break room to put my lunch into the refrigerator.  That’s when the day got even better.  When I entered the room, I saw the layout of baked goods on one of the tables. Usually on Mondays, one of our summer interns brings leftover donuts, pastries, cakes, pies, and other bakery products from his grandparents’ bakery for the rest of us to enjoy. He wasn’t in the office, either, on Monday, so he brought the leftovers on Tuesday.  Lucky for me!

Lunch safely in the refrigerator, I eyed the delicious-looking spread of goodies.  When I opened one of the boxes that usually contains donuts, the rest of my not-so-happy mood disappeared.  One of the leftovers was pain au chocolat! Woohoo! Often I joke that I lived on that tasty bit of Heaven in a chocolate-filled rectangular croissant while I was in France the first time, because the university cafeteria food at lunch and dinner was not especially to my liking.  (I refuse to eat veal, which seemed to be the entree more times than not.) Seriously. I think I spent 90% of my spending money at the local bakery, especially on Sunday mornings after church, when the cafeteria did not serve breakfast (and maybe not even lunch; I can’t recall).

As I was enjoying the unexpected treat, which I’ve only had a couple of times here at home since that trip, I realized that exactly twenty-five years ago today, I returned home from my first-ever trip abroad, a nearly-one-month study program in Dijon, France. What a wonderful way to remember the trip!  J’aime le pain au chocolat!



Homemade Pizza and Birthday Cake

Yesterday, I had fully intended to write and publish a post, but never had the opportunity to do so.  To be honest, I guess I could have written the post instead of editing my LinkedIn profile, or more specifically, removing myself from several groups in which I no longer have interest, and reading a few articles that did interest me.  The rest of the day, I was caring for the baby, pumping, helping the other kids, and trying to take care of myself.

I did try to start this post late last night, but I had just opened the blank post page when the baby woke up.  She didn’t get back to sleep until nearly 01h00, at which time I just wanted to lie down.  She slept until about 03h30 something, when she needed a diaper change, and then food and burping. She finally fell asleep again around 05h00 and slept until around 07h00, and she’s sleeping now as I type.

More about the baby in another post.  Before the baby wakes up again, I want to finish this post by writing about what I had originally planned to write yesterday.

My kindergartner is now 6 (as of Monday).  He requested homemade pizza for his birthday dinner, and homemade cake resembling an Oreo cookie for dessert, so that’s what my husband made for him.  (My husband likes to cook and bake and is good at both, so he makes most of our family’s meals.)  Most of the day, my son kept asking when he would get his cake and presents, and I said, “After dinner,” so of course he wanted dinner at around 16h00, and was a bit annoyed when we didn’t actually have dinner until almost 19h00, and then didn’t have his cake until nearly 20h30 (because I needed to feed the baby in between).

Our homemade pizza is:  homemade pizza sauce (canned last summer); homemade dough made earlier that day; freshly grated cheese (my labor contribution to the meal); freshly cut pepperoni; and freshly cooked bacon and sausage.


My husband made the “Oreo” cake that morning.  The cake consists of:  2 layers of dark chocolate cake, a middle layer of homemade whipped cream with crushed Oreo cookies mixed into it, and an outer layer of creamy chocolate icing.  The whole cake is decadent.  (The most processed ingredient in the cake is the Oreo cookies in the middle layer.)


(Yes, my photography skills need some improvement!  Usually my sister, who is definitely a better photographer than I, takes the photos at our family birthday parties, but she was at work, so I took these 2 photos using my phone instead of my digital camera.)

Because the birthday boy was so eager for his cake, we didn’t put any decorations on it, but we did put a “6” candle and then 6 other candles on it and lit them for him to blow out.  Also, we didn’t bother to wrap his presents, because he doesn’t care about the surprise of unwrapping them; he was just eager to have them.  I was glad that he didn’t mind that his presents were not wrapped, because wrapping is a tedious task for me.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the camera ready when he got his presents, so I didn’t get any photos, but I don’t think that he minds about that, either.




Spent Most of Today Resting

I spent most the day in bed, getting up only to eat and use the bathroom.  I just felt that I needed to rest.  So far this pregnancy I haven’t even had so much as a cold, thankfully, and I’d like to keep it that way.  I do NOT need to get ill now when baby’s birth is so close (hopefully!).  Even though my husband is convinced that his sinus congestion and sneezing are from irritation from either paint or chemicals with which he was working in the garage, I’m not so sure that he doesn’t have a cold, even if it doesn’t follow the typical pattern for him, which means that he would have had a sore throat first (and he hasn’t had one).

Around 1:30 PM I got up and got a late lunch, then turned on the TV and watched Star Trek: Voyager reruns for a while before going back to sleep until nearly 5 PM, when I got up and started helping kids with schoolwork.  Then it was time to prepare dinner (Swedish meatballs and delicious sauce, mashed potatoes, and green beans). After my first helping, I still wanted more of the sauce, but on something other than potatoes, so I poured some sauce over a bowl of the leftover rice from last night’s Chinese dinner. Yum!

When my daughter and I were discussing one of her schoolwork assignments–to write a descriptive essay about a place–she lamented that she hasn’t been to Florida, and asked when we could go.  I don’t know the answer to that, but I know it won’t be soon.  Since baby is taking his or her time in coming, I won’t have much vacation left for trips after this maternity leave ends.

Since she wanted to see photos of Florida, I dug out my photo album of my last trip over 15 years ago, and she enjoyed looking through the photos, especially the ones of the natural beauty of Blue Spring State Park west of Orange City, Florida.

Well, it’s time for the kids to get to bed, and I’m again ready for sleep, so I’ll post this now.

A Day Late: Remembering Fallen Heroes

Yesterday was the NASA Day of Remembrance, honoring the fallen heroes, the crews of Apollo 1, space shuttle Challenger, and space shuttle Columbia.

Sadly, I’d forgotten about it until I read about it this morning, otherwise I would have written about it in my post last night.

But I write about it now.   I have vivid memories of the TV coverage of both the Challenger and Columbia tragedies.  I was in school on January 28, 1986, and I was a newlywed when the Columbia disaster occurred.  Although the Apollo 1 fire happened years before I was born, I remember reading about the members of that crew, along with those of other crews/missions.  Actually, as a teen, I read everything I could about space exploration, NASA, and astronomy– and for a brief time considered a career as an astronaut.  I soon realized that I didn’t have “the right stuff,” but I remained enamored with the astronauts, and still have a great deal of respect for them.

It’s hard to believe that a few days ago was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 1 tragedy, and that it’s been over 30 years since Challenger.  Just as my parents can tell me where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news that JFK had been shot, I can remember exactly what I was doing when I heard about Challenger.  My French class had just finished.  Most of the students had already left the classroom on their way to the cafeteria for lunch, but a few of us were still packing up before going to lunch when the librarian came running into the classroom with the horrible news. I had stayed to help my best friend, who was wearing a knee brace because of a roller skating injury, and couldn’t easily carry all of her books.  I remember the shocked looks that we exchanged, and that Challenger was all that we talked about at lunch.  After lunch, we didn’t have any lectures or regular lessons.  The teachers seemed as shocked as the students were.  Several classes gathered in the library to watch the news on TV, and we watched until the end of the school day.

Although I didn’t see the tragedy live, I feel as if I did, after having seen the footage so many times, not only in the hours and days after the tragedy, but in the years since.  That Challenger launch was one of the first that I didn’t see live.  Before that, watching the space shuttle launches was a big deal, and if they occurred on a school day, then we would watch whatever TV coverage was available of the event.  I guess by January 1986, the shuttle launches had lost a bit of their novelty, so the school administrators/teachers didn’t bother to preempt regular subjects (unless the launch happened to be when we had science class).

I wonder if my children will have any event in their lives such as the Challenger disaster or 9/11.  I pray that they don’t, but it seems that every generation has its own defining tragedy.  I also wonder if they will ever get as excited about an event as I did about the shuttle launches.  The last space shuttle mission occurred when my first two children were in grade school and my third child was a preschooler; sadly, they don’t have any specific memories of any shuttle missions, although my oldest shares my interest in science fiction, which I think is a natural extension of my interest in the real science of space.  Perhaps my children will live to see a successful mission to Mars.

As a dreamer, I look forward to seeing further missions of space exploration, whether from NASA or from private organizations.  I hope that we never forget the pioneers who paved the way, including the crew members of Apollo 1 and the Challenger and Columbia disasters.  Rest in peace Gus Grissom, Ed White, Roger Chaffee, Greg Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe, Ron McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnick, Dick Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark,  Rick Husband, William McCool, and Ilan Ramon.

A More Relaxing Work Day

It was SO nice to be able to work from home and not worry about dressing in office-appropriate attire, packing a lunch, going out in the cold, driving to and from the office, finding a place to park, getting to and from the building, and doing my best to avoid germs from seven dozen co-workers just to do work that, most of the time, I only need a laptop to do.  I worked a full day and actually accomplished a few things because I was able to focus without dealing with those above-mentioned factors that are distractions for me, at least right now in the last days of pregnancy.  Yes, my youngest 2 children interrupted me a few times, but that really didn’t bother me too much.  Sitting in sweats I was more relaxed and focused on the work on my laptop.  If I could work that way every work day, I would be much more productive!

After I finished work, we had an early dinner, and then the older kids (who had finished chores and schoolwork) wanted to watch a movie, so my husband and I watched the most recent X-Men movie with them.

My husband was using his laptop during the movie, and at some point mentioned that the man who created the Pac-Man game had died. More accurately, he was the man who created the company that created and sold the popular arcade game, one of the few that I actually played growing up, and even then, not very much. One of my neighbor friends had the game, and I’d play for a while when I was at her house, but more often, if I were lucky enough to get quarters to play, I would play the game at the console in the grocery store while waiting for my mother to finish in the check-out line. I was never very good at the game, and never got very far, but I liked that it was non-violent, just challenging.  Even today when I think of Pac-Man, I have fond memories of my childhood.

It’s amazing how far video games have come since then.  I watch my three-year-old play some games, and I’m just amazed at how he figured out the controls to move through each game towards the goal.  This weekend he wanted me to help him to play one game where the character that he was controlling needed to avoid several obstacles to get a key, and then get the key to the lock in another part of the screen.  He had to show me which controls to use, and even then, I didn’t did very well, and the character “died.”  My preschooler already has better hand-eye coordination than I do!

40 Years Ago Today…

…there was a blizzard in my hometown.  I remember how the snow came blowing in under the closed front door, even with the storm windows in the screen door, and how my younger sister, a toddler then, and I stared out the windows watching the snow pile up.

I have no recollection of how much snow we got from that storm, or if I played outside in it or not, but I do remember the other important event in my life that came with that storm: the birth of the younger of my 2 sisters.  My mom has repeatedly told the story about how while she was in labor, really close to delivering my sister, my dad and the nurses were all in a hallway of the hospital staring out the windows at the snow, and my mom saying, “I need some help in here!”

Today, 40 years later, we saw a few snow flurries, and it was colder today that it was earlier in the week (when, one day, it was in the 50s, maybe even actually 60 °F, I think), but definitely nothing blizzard-like.  We’ve been lucky so far this winter, with above-average temps many days, and little snow, which is how I prefer it.  (I’m one who would prefer a warm Christmas to a white one.)  Winter Storm Leo went west and north of us.

If I weren’t anticipating giving birth any day now, I would have planned a party this weekend to celebrate my sister’s birthday, because she deserves a party for her 40th birthday. Maybe I’ll be able to surprise her with one in a month or so, after the family has adjusted again to life with a newborn, and I have energy to deal with more than my immediate family in my house at that time.

My Favorite Outdoor Winter Decorations

Last Tuesday on my way to work, I passed the former property of a man who, for years, put up my favorite outdoor Christmas/winter decorations, and I saw that the house and out building–it was a bit more than a shed, but not quite a garage–was a pile of rubble. An excavator was scooping up a pile of debris. The only thing still standing was the chimney (which, I noticed this morning, was also now knocked down).  Although there have been other changes on the property in the past few months, I did not expect to see the house torn down (even though it did seem run-down, from what I could see in passing)..

The man who had put up the decorations had moved over a year ago, maybe two by now, and a few months ago, crews had removed most of the trees and much of the bushes and brush on the property.  I was sad that they had torn down the trees, but happy that the overgrown bushes were removed.

The trees were where the decorations had hung every Christmas for over 15 years. The decorations were large, lighted snowflakes.  I loved to drive by before and soon after Christmas and admire them.  They were so much more tasteful and beautiful than the tacky inflatable snowmen, reindeer, and other creatures that many people in my area have started to use for outdoor decorations at Christmas time.

It will be quite interesting to see what the new property owners do now   In the meantime, I have my memories of the lighted snowflakes in the trees.