Friday, May 31, 2013

GREAT-BIG EXCITING NEWS HERE!

Ok, family and friends and super-cool people who read this blog (because reading this automatically makes you super-cool), I have very exciting news. Great, big exciting news.

I hope you will all want to share in it, and share it with your friends.  And tell them to share it with their friends.  You obviously come here to read my rants, musings, stories, and, well, blather.  It seems that some of you even come here repeatedly, and with little in the way of financial reimbursement or blackmail from me.  So, if you are here because you like my writing, I'm going to ask a big favor...

Please buy my book.

Yep, I said it.  But, it sounds so cool, that I want to say it again, this time with feeling.  MY BOOK!

I wrote it about two years ago.  I finished it over the summer, and immediately did some internet searching, and found out how to go about sending it to literary agents.  And then I waited.  I got rejected.  I waited some more.  I sent it out to other agents.  And then I waited.  I got rejected.  Lather, rinse, repeat, as necessary.

So, here I am two years later with this completed manuscript.  Not the next great-American novel, but an entertaining read.  The literary version of a chick-flick.  An entertaining way to spend a few hours, especially with summer (finally) rolling in.  I have great ideas rolling around in my head for book #2, which I'm trying to get down.  But what to do with book #1?

So, I do some more internet research.  (By the way, I completely love being able to find out all this stuff without ever leaving my house!)  Then I find it...Nook Press.  I can self-publish my book on Nook for free!  And there's one for the Kindle too!

Shut the front door.  This is a game changer.  Who needs a literary agent ? (If you are a literary agent, are reading this, and are interested, call me!)  I can do this by myself.  I can self-publish.  I upload my book.  I find a cheap program to make a cover.  I mess that up, and do it again, doubling my expenditures for the project, but still coming in under $10.  And I enlist the help of some friends to read the book, looking for typos, bad grammar, and to see if it was worth putting out there.  These friends, who are now listed as my editors, read the book and gave me feedback.

And then I hit the 'Publish' button.

Holy crap.






Here's the summary:

Maggie Miller is about to start her life in Boston.  She's done with grad school and has a good job as a pediatric physical therapist.   Maggie sees herself as plain and ordinary, nothing remarkable.  She doesn't see that surviving a horrific car accident that killed her mother and brother as anything special.  She's had bad taste in men and is jaded, and has decided to lay low while she focuses on her career.  Matt Slavin is Maggie's best friend from college.  He has an atrocious girlfriend, who hates Maggie for no reason.  But he also has this good friend from home.  Ryan Milan is a drop-dead gorgeous young attorney who, despite significant reservations, has relocated to Boston to start his career as a prosecutor.  He is good at reading the people he's prosecuting, but cannot read women.Maggie and Ryan dance around each other, never sure of where the other stands.  After months of push and pull, they finally realize that the other is actually interested.  After finally getting together, they are pulled apart by Ryan's family tragedy, and he is unable to return to Maggie.  Just when Maggie thinks she does not have the strength to rebuild again, she finds she no longer has that choice.  And when they're finally reunited seven years later, Maggie's life is barely recognizable...

So, now I'm, in a totally dignified way, begging you to buy my book. Or, if you're in publishing, read my book and publish it in paper form.  Tell your friends.  Tell your family.  Tell the person next to you in line at Starbucks.  I don't have an agent, an editor, or any fancy publicity.  This is it.  Word of mouth.  Social media.

Oh, and if you like it, please write a review.  If you don't, I'm sorry I wasted your time and money, but please don't trash me. Thanks.

On sale now, for Kindle and nook.



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

If They Could Just Stay Little...

With yesterday being Memorial Day, I did a lot of reflecting over the weekend.

(NOTE:  I know that Memorial Day is really to honor our fallen soldiers, not to talk about my own stuff.  While the blog is about my own stuff, please know that I do hold our military, past and present, in the highest regard and appreciate the sacrifices made for our country.  After all, freedom isn't free.)

I had time to reflect, since I was cleaning out my children's dressers and closets.  Mother Nature appears to be a little, shall we say, indecisive with the weather, but I'm having it no more.  Also, my children are growing freakishly tall.  Now, for those of you who don't know me, I'm short.  My husband is not the tallest, either.  Although we have tall family members, I think we always thought the kids would be short, so it still surprises me that they are growing like weeds.

On Friday, I had to make Jake take off his jeans last minute because he looked like he was expecting a flood.  In hindsight, with all the rain, perhaps they would have still worked.

Anyway, with the forecast to go near 90 by the end of the week, I am taking the risk, and FINALLY taking all the long sleeve stuff out, as well as cleaning out the clothing that is just too short.  My children are beanpoles, so nothing is ever too tight.  It is always just too short.

So I started bagging up their clothes.  They each had bins in their closets of discards, so I had to sort through them for the 'keeps' and the 'gives.'  When they were babies, I kept pretty much everything.  After all, with Jake, we knew we were having another, and we were undecided after Sophia. I have bins and bins (and bins and bins) in the basement.  (That will be a summer project to go through those!)  Now, I'm into getting rid of the stuff.  I actually (gasp!) throw out clothing that is stained.  And I pass on the stuff that is not.  My cousin's son takes Jake's stuff, and I have some friends who take Sophia's.  Great system.

Until I hit a road block.

And that is my damn memory and sentimentality.

I like to keep the special outfits, but often, it is a simple t-shirt that I cannot part with.  I look at it, and remember it on my child.  I remember the day(s) that they wore it, and where they were at that time in their life.  The article of clothing brings a picture to my mind that I don't want to let go. I get very sad that that moment has passed.

Sometimes, I see pictures of my cousin's son wearing Jake's old clothes, and it makes me smile.


Like this photo...because his parents are DIE HARD Yankee fans (I mean, their cats are A-Rod and Jeter, for Pete's sake!), but he sooooo wanted to wear the shirt from cousin Jake.

And then there's this one:


We laugh because Chunky Monkey here is only 10 months old.  His brother, before he decided to show his unwavering support for the Red Sox, also took the outfit out for a spin:





Big Brother was 17 months old when he wore it.  So was cousin Jake, when the outfit originated:



I look back on this little guy, who was so absolutely adorable.  He's now almost as tall as I am (I know, not saying much).  I can't really pick him up anymore.  He's getting so big and so mature.  This little guy is gone.


Here is a group shot of Jake, Sophia and their cousin, when the cousin wore the outfit:



Ironically, Sophia's outfit was a borrowed hand-me-down from her older cousin.  It was an adorable dress and kerchief with cherries on it.  It did not make me sad to have to return it.  I was just happy to have had the chance to see her in it in the first place.

I know parting with the clothes is a good thing.  And it keeps me one step ahead of being on the show, Hoarders.  I truly love where my kids are now.  But on the other hand, as Sophia is not feeling great, and just wants to sit and snuggle, I think it's ok to celebrate Memorial Day but remembering how it was when they were little.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Trolling

A few weeks ago, I thought I had made it big time in the blog world because I wrote a guest post.  I was wrong...I really made it now.  I got my first Internet Troll!

In case you were wondering, here's what Wikipedia has to say about internet trolls:


In Internet slang, a troll (pron.: /ˈtrl//ˈtrɒl/) is someone who posts inflammatory,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[3] The noun troll may also refer to the provocative message itself, as in: "That was an excellent troll you posted."
While the word troll and its associated verb trolling are associated with Internet discourse, media attention in recent years has made such labels subjective, with trolling describing intentionally provocative actions and harassment outside of an online context. For example, mass media has used troll to describe "a person who defaces Internet tribute sites with the aim of causing grief to families."[4][5]

Basically, I describe an internet troll as the world's biggest loser.  This is a person (or people, because I'm certain there are a whole lot of them out there) who gets his or her kicks from reading blogs and posting nasty comments just to make trouble.  These people are cowards, hiding behind the name of "Anonymous" and attacking people who are using the internet to express themselves.  Some people would consider these trolls as bullies, but I don't.  Bullying involves an imbalance of power, like an older child picking on a younger one, or the federal government imposing ridiculous education mandates on our children in return for financial reimbursement.  These trolls have no power.  They are weak, miserable people who think that putting others down will make themselves feel better.  They particularly prowl parenting blogs, and will attack a parent who has a sick child or who has lost a child.  These trolls are disgusting cowards.  

I feel badly for the people who are vulnerable, like following the loss of a child, that are attacked by these scummy trolls.  It is really just pitiful that adults resort to this behavior for amusement.  Play Candy Crush instead.  It is no more productive, but at least it is not destructive.
I write for me.  I write because it helps me.  I hope my friends and family, and even complete strangers enjoy reading what I've written.  I understand that not everyone will agree with me all the time.  I write what is MY opinion, knowing that not everyone supports it (but they should).  If it offends you, then don't read it. 

And if you must comment negatively, have the balls to put your (real) name on the comment.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

And Oldie...Reflections on a Decade

I was just combing through my Facebook page, and found my 'Notes' section.  Most are relatively humorous  questionnaires, but I found this one that I had written on December 31, 2009.  It is hard to believe that it was almost 3 1/2 years ago.  I thought I'd post it here, because it seems like it was my first real blog...Enjoy!

When I was a child, I figured out how old I would be when it turned the year 2000. I would have just turned 24 years old. I would be married and have kids and I would never have fun anymore. 

When the new millenium arrived, I indeed had just turned 24. I had just finished PT school with my Master's Degree. Unfortunately, there were no PT jobs to be found. I was living with my parents, working for my mother in her office and shuttling my grandmother to doctor's apppointments, as she had just been in a car accident and diagnosed with cancer. I was studying for my boards as well. There was no man in sight, let alone a husband. Although I was ready to move on from the college lifestyle, I was sad at having left my "independent" life and my dear friends. I was without a plan and without a direction. 

Fast forward a decade. For those who can do math, I am now 34. My life is virtually unrecognizable from a decade age. I have been blessed in infinite ways, and had a lot of dumb luck too. While home after leaving school, I reconnected with a childhood friend. When the poor job market for physical therapy cost her her job, she followed her sister to Ohio, and I followed my friend. I immediately met a man who intrigued me and apparently I intrigued him as well. We were married less than 18 months after meeting. 

I began working with severely disabled children, first in schools, then in a care facility. I got my first job by showing up for a second interview that was not scheduled (apparently, I mixed up what county I was going to and no-showed for someone else's interview). I loved the job, but was very unsure of myself. I put on a false bravado and "fake it 'til you make it" was my motto. Unfortunately the job was in Cincinnati and my true love was in Columbus, so that job only lasted for one school year. 

After Patrick and I were married, we lived a carefree life. We traveled a little, but not enough. We honeymooned in Paris, went to South Dakota, Florida and took weekend trips to Boston, Cleveland and Chicago. Patrick finished his degree and we found ourselves expecting our first child. Our wonderful downtown townhouse was not suitable for a baby, so we decided to move east. Although the plan was to end up in the Boston area, we decided to stay in New York for a "little while." We bought our first home together and set about refurbishing and getting ready for baby. I was again working in a school for severely disabled children and was sure that I could leave my baby at day care every morning. 

Jacob Philip was born on February 21, 2004 after a very long and tenuous labor and delivery. The next day, Patrick was hired by Tokoyo Electron and found out he would be working in Arizona for the next few months. It was a hard start, and I knew that I could not leave Jake in daycare. I left that job and again had no plan. The very next day, I received a call from a local hospital who wanted me to work evenings. Although I never wanted to work in outpatient ("I am not treating 40 year-olds with low back pain!"), the hours fit the lifestyle, so off I went. 

I went back to school and received my doctorate as I was mothering an infant and working part-time. We soon realized that our house would not be big enough if we wanted to continue expanding our family and we set about on a massive renovation process. It was a very difficult year that necessitated us moving out of our house and a lot of heartbreak, stress, tears and yelling. I still don't know if I can say that the end result was worth it, but we do love our house and are trying to focus on the positives of the situation. 

In the midst of the renovation process, we found ourselves about to become parents again. On August 12, 2007, Sophia Dorothy entered our family. Upon holding her and Jake, I had a sense that our family was complete. I continued working in the outpatient clinic and began working with kids again on the side. It was very hectic and I was stressed all the time. 

As Jake entered Kindegarten, I felt that I needed to manage my time better so that I could be a better mother and wife. I returned to the schools so that I could be on the same schedule as my son. I made the decision to send my daughter to a babysitter's for short periods of time, and this time I was ok with it. 

My life is about structure and routine. I work because I love what I do. I feel that I make a difference in people's lives, and that is important to me. I still dance because it makes me happy. I have a beautiful home that is often messy, but its where my children play and grow. My husband does not say a lot, but he is my backbone and we support each other. There are times when I yearn for more or wish for a different lifestyle, but a hug and kiss from my children snaps me back to reality and I am happy where I am. I have old friends and new friends and friends who I have found again. There have been many tears in the last decade, but the peals of giggles from my little ones wipes them away. There is some amount of heartbreak and worry, especially for my son, that will forever weigh my heart down. Yet, somehow, the added weight helps me to stand taller. 

The decade did not start out how I planned. I cannot say that it ended how I planned, either, because I have stopped having daydreams about how things should be. What I can say is that I have been blessed beyond belief. I can only wish that others feel the sense of peace and contentment and pure bliss that I feel when I am with my family and look at the wonderful life Patrick and I have created together. That, and I wish for a mini-van.

(5/13/13:  I got the mini-van almost 2 years ago, just incase anyone was wondering.  I realize that it makes me super un-cool, but I can't pass up how functional it is, and I'm all for anything that makes my life easier.  But sometimes, I pretend that it's a Porsche Cayenne.)


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Inspiration From an Unlikely Source

Every Wednesday morning, as I drive to work, I listen on the radio to the man who changed my life.  As a pediatric physical therapist, it is hard to see that I owe my life to a 74 year-old sports contributor on National Public Radio, but I do.

When I was in 6th grade (circa 1987-88), my grandmother received an envelope from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, asking for a donation.  Included in the request was a book called, Alex: The Life of a Child, written by Frank Deford.  I was sick, and over at my grandparents, so I started reading the book.  It was about a little girl, Alex, who had and died from Cystic Fibrosis.  Alex was born in 1971, which is when my oldest brother was born.  I was immediately fascinated by the disease, as it seemed to effect a little girl like me, with a love of dresses and brown hair in pigtails.  Other than cancer, which no one would talk about, it was the first time I realized that kids could get sick, and not live normal, healthy, long lives.  I did several research papers on it throughout grade school and high school.  After reading that book, my life had direction.  I put aside my aspirations of becoming a professional dancer (plus, it was pretty clear that I was not going to make the minimum height requirement to be a Rockette), and decided to go into medicine.

(I had no idea that Frank Deford was a famous writer for Sports Illustrated.  He has gone on since then to have an illustrious career in sports journalism, as a novelist, and public speaker, including his weekly commentary on Morning Edition.)

The first few years after that, I was pretty firm that I was going to go into research and find a cure for CF.  My mom kind of sensed that perhaps I was not really a lab-research-type of person, and urged me to look elsewhere in the medical field.  She rationally put it that I would not be a full-fledged research doctor for about 17 years, and didn't I really hope that a cure for CF was found by then?  I didn't disagree, and still often thought about becoming a doctor (except for that brief period Sophomore year, where I dabbled with being a writer,but, oh wait, still trying that one out...).

I don't know when the self-doubt came in about becoming a doctor, but I changed gears slightly into physical therapy.  I knew that physical therapy was integral for people with CF, although chest PT has now been replaced by nifty equipment.  I think being a PT has been a great fit for me, although there are still days when I wish I had gone to med school.  I'm fairly certain now that I would have made it.  I'm also fairly certain that I have no business being in a lab.

[I do also have to give credit to a neighbor for indirectly helping me find the specific field of Physical Therapy.  His profound experience led me to say, "I want to do THAT!  That is how I want to help people."  However, I don't think I would have been open to anything in the medical field if I had not become so invested after reading Alex: The Life of a Child.]

So, 25 years later, while there is still no cure for CF, the treatment is a lot better.  Alex Deford died in 1980, at the age of 9.  At that time, the average lifespan was to the late teens.  As of 2008, in the US, the median life span is 37.4 years.  It is still not long enough.  I am exactly 37.4 years old, and I cannot imagine being at the end of my life.

One of the things that so struck me in the book was when Mr. Deford commented that because his daughter was born in 1971 and died in the beginning of 1980, she was never counted in a Census.  I feel that his words, his experiences, his daughter's brief life really provided the direction for me to travel in my own life.  So, this little girl, the age of my own son now, who was never counted, certainly has had a profound effect on a whole lot of people.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Prodigal...um...Cat?

Last Wednesday, and again this Wednesday, I was inspired.  Today, I vowed to write about it.  However, something else came up that I wanted to share.  I will write about inspiration, but perhaps later.

The story started almost exactly a year ago.  Ok, the prologue started last April, when our family cat, Harper, died.  I reassured the kids that we would get kittens.  Harper, while she loved us, did not tolerate other animals.  This time around, I wanted to get a pair of cats so they could keep each other company, and tolerate other animals better.

When the right time came, we went to a nearby horse farm.  There are always lots of cats around there (we buy hay there), so we figured there were kittens.  And there were.  Sophia said immediately and unreservedly that she wanted a yellow cat.  Jake wanted a gray cat.  Low and behold, the litter of four kittens consisted of three grays and one yellow.  Two weeks later, we went to pick up our new family members.  The owner remembered that we wanted the yellow, and brought him out first.  One of the gray kittens had disappeared. There were two gray cats left.  One was really skittish and hid, so we got the less skittish kitten (say that ten times fast).






The first day or two, the kittens were scared of us.  Finally, we just held them and petted them until they relaxed and trusted us.  We named them Butch and Sundance.  Very quickly they became part of our family.  Friends and family came out of the woodwork to visit.  Within a few days, the kittens had ventured upstairs (just in time to tuck the kids in).  There was little sleep and lots of scratches.  But we loved it.  Sophia invited friend after friend over to see "the boys."  Sophia, while happy with her yellow cat, was disappointed that the gender of both cats was male.  She felt that this somehow lessened them, because they were not girls.  I'm not even touching that one.  She was heard, making apologies to a playmate, "I don't want to upset you, but the kittens are both boys."




Needless to say, the boys dominated our lives.  They were always together.  We joked that we should have named them "Smoke" and "Fire," because where there's smoke, there's fire.  The kittens' markings are also virtually identical.  They often sit in the same posture, or curled up on each other.


The cats love the kids.  For a while, Butch ("Jake's cat"), would sit outside his door, and promptly at 7 am would meow for Jake to get up.  Now, Sundance meows for Sophia to get up.   Except, he wakes with the sun, so it is more like 5 am.  Sundance, who is "Sophia's cat," also has an obsession with Sophia's hair doo-dads, and often lifts up the lid on her jewelry box to steal them.  Sundance follows Sophia around, no matter how much she manhandles him.  Butch engages in lengthy, reciprocal conversations with us.  He also feels that if we pick him up, it must mean that we want him to climb up on our shoulder and perch like a parrott.  He's not the sharpest tool in the toolbox.  Butch likes to sleep with me, right next to my shoulder so it is impossible for me to roll over.
No matter how much manhandling there is, the cats keep going back for more.
The cats, like most house cats, dream of the big world outside.  I know, in their little feline souls, they are all fierce, and could bag those pesky squirrels, no problem.  Every so often, I think about letting them out, especially when the squirrels are doing their damndest to chew through our composter.

Our cats' birthday/anniversary is this Sunday,  I was trying to think of how we would celebrate that milestone.  I cannot believe that a year has gone by, but on the other hand, I cannot imagine our life without the boys.  Today, Butch went missing.  I realized this morning that I had not seen him.  The kids and I searched, and called for him, but nothing.  My first thought was that he had gotten into the garage last night, as I left the door open while making several trips out to my car.  The garage was the first place I looked.  No response.  No response anywhere.  Butch is such a vocal cat, that we figured he was either dead or had gotten outside.  I was lax about the sliding glass door while grilling last night, so it could have happened.  No one remembered exactly when they had seen Butch last.  Pat came home at lunch and walked around the neighborhood, calling for Butch.  After work today, I called Animal Control and the vet's office.  I drove to the animal shelter and another vet clinic.  I went over to the neighbors' and showed pictures.  I was trying not to despair.  Butch likes to climb (up our wooden newel posts, up our table legs, up our cabinets, up our backs, so I was hoping that natural instincts would kick in and make up for some of the brains that he appears to lack, and keep him safe in the big bad world.

Now, I know, it's just a cat.  But he is like our family, and I was very scared that he was dead, either in the basement or outside.  I did not know how Sundance was going to live without his brother.  He spent all day walking around, meowing for him.  I was trying to hold back my tears.  I could not believe that four days short of his birthday, he was gone.  Suddenly, Sophia reported that she heard Butch meowing.  We listened, and sure enough, we heard him too!  The dumbshit was in the garage the whole time!  I opened the door, and he came flying in, very skittish.  I yelled at him, "Where have you been?!?"

Pat and I were incredulous.  We both had looked in the garage for him, and called for him out there.  Sundance, while relieved, was a little pissed at Butch for deserting him.  The kids were just happy to have him back.  Cat birthday celebration back on, the Biels are once again complete.
Chilling out, trying to recuperate from his adventure.

Getting the sniff test to see what Butch has been up to.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Spring Cleaning

After weeks and weeks of significant and successful (depending on how you look at it) procrastination, I am finally biting the bullet and attempting to tackle some spring cleaning.  You can tell how well it's going, since I am writing at the moment instead of cleaning.  In my defense, I was cleaning alongside Jake, who was pressed into service since he decided he wanted to spend the day at home rather than at his grandparents'.  See if he ever does that again.  Anyway, he was working on his task, and my vacuuming was bothering him, so I came upstairs to throw in a load of laundry.

I am trusting that Mother Nature is now on an even keel, and I'm washing the winter coats, along with a collection of miscellaneous sweatshirts that have piled up downstairs.  So, if we get snow tomorrow, I may have to accept some responsibility.

Our house is a little funky (not the smell, although it could use some airing out).  We have a small room-type space when we walk in out of the garage.  It is up one step from the garage, with four (plus one more) steps up into the kitchen, and four steps down into the basement.  The room is only 3-4 feet wide, but spans the almost the depth of the house.  For lack of a better term, we call it the breezeway, although one could debate endlessly about its true name.  But I digress.  This room is disgustingly filthy.  It is where all of the outside dirt, mud, asphalt (I often wonder how this happens), grass and whatnot gets tracked.  Ideally, the room works great, but somehow, it actually doesn't.

There are coat hooks to hang our coats on.  Yeah right.  My coats get hung up.  Sophia throws hers on the shoe rack.  Jake takes his off and throws it on a chair (or floor) in the kitchen.  And Pat, well, Pat's ends up in the kitchen.  Or dining room.  Or living room.

Our shoes go on nice little shelves, or in a big bucket for the kids.  I usually kick my shoes off in a pile, without bothering to place them back on the rack.  The kids put theirs near, and sometimes, even in the bucket.  Pat's end  up in the kids' bucket.  Or the kitchen.  Or the dining room.  Or the living room.  Pat got frustrated about my shoes a few weeks ago, and pulled out two big plastic bins and pitched my shoes in them.  However, he just randomly threw the shoes in there, so I have had to go searching in each of the two bins, as well as on the racks to find a matching pair of shoes, especially now that it is warmer (fingers crossed), and I'm pulling out spring and summer shoes.

Anyway, our breezeway has become a catch-all place for all of our miscellaneous crap (like Jake's Native American Pueblo house out of 3 shoes boxes, from November 2011).  It really needs a good cleaning out, so I'm tackling it.  I already have a full 13 gallon trash bag.  Bible study crafts, old paperwork, plastic bags, and yes, the pueblo are all gone.

My kids' school is doing a fundraiser, which is helping me to clean out.  We are collecting gently used (without holes) sneakers.  It is through Green Sneakers, and they clean and refurbish sneakers to give to children in poor areas.  I knew this fundraiser was coming up, and have been hoarding sneakers that I would have otherwise tossed.  Jake's project was tying or binding the shoes together and bagging them up, so I can get them off my breezeway bring them into school for donation.  The Biels are donating 17 pairs!

(I don't usually ask for things from my readers, but if you're local to me, and would like to donate some gently used sneakers, email me and I can pick them up.  It is a fundraiser for our school, but it is also Earth-friendly, as it is REDUCING WASTE, RECYCLING PRODUCTS and HELPING THOSE IN NEED!)

Amongst the things I have to deal with on the breezeway is a box from my grandmother.  It has some of her scrapbooks and things in it.  When I say scrapbooks, I mean, this woman had probably 20 (not including the 12 that I got suckered into taking about 10 years ago) albums of stuff (no pictures).  My grandmother saved every card, every wedding invitation, every thank-you, in addition to cutting out articles in the paper about people she knew.  The scrapbooks illustrate her life, what was going on and who was in it.  And I feel horrible for saying this, but they're virtually meaningless.  What do I do with them?  I'm not ready to pitch them, but I'm leaning towards that, eventually.  I will probably go through them once or twice (seriously, there are a LOT of them), and pull out anything that has family meaning, but I don't know that I can save them forever.  I tried to go through some of her older scrapbooks once.  I stopped when I found a letter from my grandfather (away for his national guard training) to my grandmother, talking about how he "sure does miss the nookie."  Blech.

The washer with the winter coats is almost done, ready to go into the dryer.  The boots are put away in a closet (wish we could have a fundraiser to donate old boots...they get far less wear!).  The shoes for donation are all bagged up, and ready to be put in my car so I can remember to bring them to school this week.  The coats are cleaned out and hung up.  Now I'm ready to tackle cleaning the shoe racks.  I think.

Wish me luck.