Monday, September 29, 2008

And now for something completely decadent...

I've started drinking coffee.

How grown up of me, right?

This started in earnest probably five or six months ago, in an effort to save money and be a little healthier. Before this, the day just did not begin until I'd had a 20 oz diet Coke. I've replaced this with a 16 oz car mug of some sort of flavored coffee with plain creamer, yay for me.

I ran across a recipe for a homemade pumpkin spice latte recently, appropriate since we just passed the Autumnal Equinox, that's supposed to rival what Starbucks makes (wouldn't know, never had one). I made a few modifications (to keep the diabetes gods happy), and O-M-G, I am now HOOKED on this stuff, and have it every weekend.

This makes 2 servings... or 1 1/2, a 16 oz car mug for you, and an 8 oz coffee mug for your significant other.

1-2 TBL canned pumpkin

1 cup skim milk

1/2 Splenda brown sugar blend

1/4 tsp cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

pinch of ground cloves

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups strong brewed coffee (If you can handle it. I'm a bit of a wimp, so I just brew it regular.)

4 TBL creamer

4-8 tsp Splenda sweetener (sweeten to your taste)

In a blender, puree the pumpkin, milk, spices, brown sugar and vanilla. If you're feeling really sassy, throw in a squirt of sugar-free maple syrup, too. Pour this into a small saucepan and heat over low heat until the milk is warm and begins to froth slightly (about 4-5 minutes).

For each serving, pour 1/2 cup of the pumpking mixture into your coffee mug. Add 2 generous TBL of creamer. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds, then add 1 cup of the brewed coffee. Sweeten to taste with Splenda. And if you're just crazy enough to do it, top it off with some whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg (I haven't taken it quite this far yet!).

While you enjoy this, I'm off to find a similar recipe for the Starbucks Carmel Machiato...

Friday, September 26, 2008


Well hot-diggity, another weekend is finally here. I feel as if I spend all my time wishing my life away, waiting for the weekend.

My friend's funeral was this past Tuesday, and it was hard and easy all at the same time. My assumption is that this was an overdose of some sort, as this was what she tried in the past. The flowers were lovely. Her casket was pink. I feel horrible for saying this, but she looked bad. There's always something unsettling about viewing the deceased, but this went beyond that. I hadn't actually seen her in about a year; our communication of late had been mostly e-mail or text message, with an occasional phone call. I knew she'd gained a bit of weight, so I wasn't startled by that... but she was very heavily made-up, which wasn't her in life at all... and her mouth was set at a funny angle, like that of a person who's had a stroke. It was very odd, and made me wonder if perhaps, as a result of the overdose, she'd had a stroke at some point. I was glad that they had a nice display of photos of her in her better days. After just these few days, the memory of what she looked like, laying there, is already starting to fade... and I'm glad of that.

I've been to more funerals than I'd have liked in my 38 years, and this time I really sensed the feeling of saying goodbye to someone, of setting their spirit free to soar high into eternity. Jennifer was tortured by demons, both real and imagined. She was an exquisite person, but took everything too much to heart. It was wrenching to see her in her darker moments, agonized by what was going on in her head. At the same time, though, she knew yet refused the only kind of help that would have healed, or at least helped her manage, what she struggled with. It's hard to watch someone you care about hurt like that, maddening to sit while they do nothing to help themselves.

Of course I mourn for my friend, mourn for the daughter she left behind, and wonder if I couldn't have done more. But she truly now is finally free, which is what she wanted most. How can I be sad or angry about that?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's always easier to leave than to be left

I found out yesterday that a friend passed from this life into the next by her own hand this week.
I'm more heartbroken than shocked, because even just since I'd know her, she'd tried this twice before. She was beautiful and sweet and kind but tortured, and impossible to reach when it came to convincing her to seek the only kind of help that would have moved her past the demons that sometimes consumed her. She was my Dave Matthews buddy. She was the one who dropped everything at work and drove me to the hospital the day I got the call that my father was in cardiac arrest. Her daughter is just 13, and I wonder how she'll ever come to terms with this.

Rest in Peace, Jennifer. You will be missed, but I hope you finally feel set free.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

She lives!

Although my lack of posting lately speaks to the contrary, I am here and all is well.  You've probably seen/heard/read the last day or two about the windy remnants of hurricane Ike that swept through my part of Ohio this past Sunday (although not nearly as bad as what Texas got, to be sure).  Many areas around me are still without power; we were very lucky at the home of Ruth Speaks Up in that our power went out for about 20 minutes, but then came back.  We also were very lucky not to have any damage to our home, although folks at just the other end of our street did not fare as well.  I've been itching to get out with my camera, to get some pictures to post for you...  I'm sure you can imagine what a wind-toppled tree looks like, but still.
Moving on...
THE WEDDING of my best friend to the gassy, redneck truck driver took place, as scheduled, this past Saturday.  WHAT I SAW OF IT was lovely...  here's what happened...
Friday, I spent the afternoon and evening helping my friend and her family get things set-up at the wedding venue.  The groom-to-be was there, also, and let me tell you, I've never seen a more nervous groom.  He did... absolutely nothing toward the preparations for the day.  He wandered around outside the lodge they'd rented for the festivities, drinking beer and playing cornhole with his buddy.  Every so often, he'd run in frantically, quiz my friend about this, that and the other that needed to be done, then run back out.  Nice, eh?
I got home about 8pm and went straight to bed.  About 9:30pm, I was struck with some sort of vile stomach/intestinal bug that had me doubled over with cramps and in and out of the bathroom for the rest of the night.  I made it to the wedding venue by 9:00 the next morning, and told my friend what was going on.  I made it through the ceremony and one round of pictures, then had to lay down.  Lucky for me there was a cot in the room where the girls got ready.  I was down for about an hour, then had the husband take me home.  At home, the thermometer told me that my temperature was 101.8.  I crawled into bed and stayed there, save for desperate runs to the bathroom, until about noon Sunday.  Bummer, eh?
Okay, back to work!  Although the winds took our sign that used to sit at the main entrance to the parking lot, the Casa de Insurance closes for no one!

Monday, September 08, 2008

After the Montessori school debacle of Wednesday, and the decision by the husband and me that we just weren't going to send the precious boy back there, I told my boss on Thursday that I'd be taking Friday off, to find another place for the precious boy. The fact that this time next year he'll be starting Kindergarten, and all that that entails, is weighing somewhat heavily on me right now. There's lots he needs to work on to pass that Kindergarten testing next spring, so not having him in preschool isn't an option.


To make a long story short, he started today at the preschool at a Baptist church that's about 2 minutes from our house. If we could cut across the field that our backyard butts up against, we'd have a straight shot from our house to this church, that's how close it is. We toured the place Friday and met the woman who teaches his age group. We confirmed later that afternoon with the director that they have spots available, and picked up the paperwork. They have preschool and daycare, and even before- and after-school care for elementary school kids. They have a lovely and large fenced-in playground outside, and a full-size gymnasium inside for days when the weather's bad. His teacher was very nice and sincere, and eased our fears about the precious boy having a hard time adjusting to being away from daddy before we could even bring the subject up.

The precious boy started today. Needless to say, I sat here at my desk at the Casa de Insurance feeling the urge to vomit from 9 am to 12:30 pm, when the husband finally called to give me the report. Well...

The kids were playing outside when the husband got there to pick up the precious boy, and the precious boy was having such a WONDERFUL time that he didn't want to leave. His lovely, sincere teacher reported that he had a GREAT day, that he sat nicely in circle time with the other children, that there were a few times he seemed like he just wanted to be on his own, and that was fine and they let him, but for the most part he participated and was a perfect little gentlemen.


I'm sure he'll have bad days. All kids do at some point; as his parent I'm quite biased, but I'm not afraid to admit that he's a typical kid who probably has been a little spoiled by daddy, so I'm sure we'll run into issues at some point. But isn't it curious how this teacher and her assistant were able to handle him, and the others weren't?


And in case you're curious, we have yet to have any response to the e-mail I sent to them last Thursday, or the phone message the husband left for them last Friday, to find out when we could pick up the precious boy's stuff. Snobby Montessori bastards...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

So... obviously Montessori isn't the program for us...

--- On Thu, 9/4/08, Ruth Speaks Up wrote:
From: Ruth Speaks Up
Subject: Our precious boy, and the awful day he had yesterday
To: The Montessori School we decided to try
Date: Thursday, September 4, 2008, 1:43 PM
Dear director of the Montessori school we decided to try:
I'm sorry to say that after our precious boy's disappointing day yesterday, and after our discussion with his hag of a teacher after school, we've decided that the your tiny school, up on top of the hill, isn't the program for our precious boy.  And I must say, quite honestly, that our talk with his hag of a teacher left us with the impression that she felt the same way.  While we understand clearly that the Montessori method is not at all like a 'traditional' school program, and that the children work on their own with very little guidance or supervision from the teacher, we didn't anticipate that he would be expected to 'get it' his very first day in the classroom.  Although our precious boy was in preschool during the 2007-2008 school year, this is quite a change from being at home with his father all day, every day, which we brought up when you gave us a tour of your tiny school, up on top of the hill.  It's to be expected that there might be a rocky transition period as he adjusts to a new environment.  After prompting her for a recommendation of what our next step would be, his hag of a teacher did immediately suggest taking our precious boy to half-days, but frankly we did not get the feeling from her that she was interested in helping him adjust to this new setting.  Her comments that "he just doesn't seem ready to learn" and "this is a school, not a daycare" also left us quite taken aback.  Our precious boy is a very bright child, and in the right setting and with the right encouragement and guidance learns new things quickly. 
While, after hearing so many good things about your tiny school, up on top of the hill, we had very high hopes that this would be a wonderful learning experience, we must ultimately do what we feel is in the best interest of our son and his education.  Please let us know when a convenient time would be for us to pick up the items our precious boy left - boots, snow pants, etc.  We also hope for at least a partial refund of the $100 deposit/activity fee that we paid with his enrollment forms.  If it's more convenient, please feel free to mail these items to our home address.
Thank you,
Ruth Speaks Up