Monday, August 19, 2013


Have you ever read a book to your children or grandchildren called, "If You  Give A Mouse A Cookie"?   It's a great little book about how even the simplest things can get complicated before you know it.  If you give a mouse a cookie, he'll want a glass of milk, but you have no milk, so you'll need to go to the store.  When you get home you'll find that all of your glasses are too big for the mouse to hold, so you'll need to find a little glass and.....whatever.  And it goes on and on.  It's very cute.

I have come to the conclusion that that book is really an introduction to home ownership.  "Huh??"  you say. Really, it's true!  I'll prove it to you....

We had some hail damage to our roof a couple of years ago and the roof needs to be replaced.  Okay, that happens.  Not great news, but not horrible either.  With the interest rates down so low, the decision to replace the roof became a decision to re-finance the house..  Because we are in a good equity situation with the house that led to a decision to take out money for the re-roof rather than finance it separately.

While we were looking at the roof, we were reminded that the deck needs replacing too and that project could be folded into the re-fi.  And I've always wanted a pergola for our completely open and uncovered deck.  If we are replacing the deck (which is neither very large nor multi-leveled), it would only make sense to add in the pergola at the same time if it isn't cost prohibitive.

Okay, we've got a plan!  Okay, time to get the bids....Okay, got the bids...Now for the okay on the re-fi.....Okay we got the re-fi....Now we have to get the HOA approval....Once we get that, we're good to go.  So we're getting closer to actually getting started on the roof.

While we were waiting for all that, we decided to go ahead and replace our garbage disposal.  It was 20 years old and recently gave up the ghost.  So....we were in Home Depot looking at disposals and the Big Guy said, "You know, if you ever wanted to get a different kitchen sink, this would be the time."  Really?  Well, of course, I've wanted to get a new sink that was deeper that the 7 in deep sink we have now!  So we bought a disposal....and a sink.   And then Mikey said, "You know, if you ever wanted to replace the old Formica counter top, this would be the time."  Really??  Really???  So we're looking at new counter top materials.  No decisions on that yet, but I bet we'll find something soon!  Mikey will do those projects himself, so they are not as costly as they might be otherwise.

And you know, with the new sink and the new counter tops, and the pretty view of the new deck and pergola outside the windows of the kitchen......this would be the perfect time to do something to update the cabinets....paint and new hardware maybe??  Oh and the lighting fixture will then look even more dated than it does now.

No, No, don't even look at the wood flooring!   Really, NO, don't look....that flooring covers not only the kitchen, it also runs into the family room  and down the hall to the front door area.  DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!  Hmmm,  I hear bamboo flooring is nice......NO NO NO NO NO!

So you see...."If you give a mouse a cookie...."

Sunday, August 11, 2013

"Little Sister" Part II

Finally the day came!  My little sibling was ready to be born!  We were ready too.  Couldn't wait to meet him or her..... Mom and Daddy went off to the Hospital and I spent the bulk of the day waiting with our good friend Mrs. L.   I don't remember exactly how long a wait there was, but it seemed like days!!

Daddy promised to call when there was news and he did!  WE HAD A NEW BABY!  Mom was okay and baby was okay and oh, by the way, I had a new little.......SISTER!!!   YAY!   I was dancing and yelling and jumping up and down.  My very own little sister, Debra Ann, had arrived.

I'm sorry to say I don't remember when I first saw her or got to hold her.  I know mom and the baby were in the Hospital for a couple of days, which was pretty standard.  I know Daddy took me to the hospital to peek into the nursery and there she was.  A little blonde-headed, blue-eyed, cutie who looked exactly like....nobody!  I was disappointed, I wanted a little carbon-copy of me.  She didn't look like me, or mom, or daddy!  At a couple of days old, to me she just looked like all the other babies in the world!  I didn't realize until I was actually able to hold her when she came home, that it takes a bit of one on one time to begin to see beyond the "baby-dom" and begin to see the little person.

As soon as I held her I fell head over heels in love with this precious bundle!  As I recall she didn't cry much and was a pretty happy baby mostly.  After that first couple of days when she still looked kind of squished and red and a little on the skinny side like all newborns, all of a sudden she blossomed and she was gorgeous!! Really!

I was fascinated by this little miracle.  It was like a training school for how to take care of a baby.  I watched and learned and was little like a second mom.  I loved to hold her and sing to her.  She would let me hold her for along time in the rocker on the back porch as long as I was singing.  I think it was probably our best bonding time.

As she got a little older she really was an adorable little girl, her pretty blond hair like a cloud of gold around her face.  She began to become her own person and I spent a lot of time with her.  I played with her and helped her and read to her and she would stick to me like glue, following me around whatever I was doing.

But the reality is that she was 12 years younger than I.  That's a pretty big gap.  As she started school, I was already in college!  She was in 2nd grade when I got married, so we never had the true sister to sister experiences of growing up together.  She was a part of my life, but before long I had a baby of my own and a life separate from hers.

Her life experiences were so different than mine, other than having the same parents, we had very few similarities in our childhoods.  She grew up in the urban environment of a big city, I was a small town girl.  She lived in one place from age 6 or 7 until she was finished with college and got married.  I moved more times than I could count and lived in multiple different towns.  She went to Catholic school all the way through high school.  I was in public schools from 7th grade on.  She went away to college and I went to a "commuter" school.  She chose a profession (Pharmacist) and stayed in school through a five year degree program.  I never finished college.  I was married at age 19 and a mother at age 20.  She married after college and didn't have kids until she was about 26 (I think, its hard to remember exactly.)   I've been married forever, she is now divorced.

Our personalities are different too.  She will avoid conflict whenever possible, I am confrontational.  I liked the pink cats, she like the blue but wouldn't SAY so!  (This is an inside joke just for Little Sis!)  I have rarely seen her angry, I am angry half the time!  She has a wicked sense of humor that pops out at just the right moment.  A lot of people don't even know when I am joking!  However, she always gets my jokes and she can make me laugh at the drop of a hat. I tend to want to talk everything to death, while she holds things in and doesn't go in for long conversations exploring her feelings or experiences.

She came home from college to see me in a show!
Circa 1980

When she first went away to college, I began to see what a great person she was as an adult.  I knew that we were on our way to being best friends forever!   I have always been extremely proud of her, she is a good person, a loving sister, a great caregiver, and a person I like very much.

But our lives continued to take us in different directions.  She and her family moved to Phoenix, then the Big Guy and I moved to California and then to Texas.  Although we talked on the phone frequently, we wouldn't actually see each other for years at a time.  Even now we see each other only sporadically.  It's been a year and a half since the last time we were together.  Her kids are grown, close to fully achieving their career goals and it looks very much as if they will settle in Colorado and Washington.  Once they are set, I'm pretty sure my little sis will head to one of those states permanently.  It's what parents do these days.  So yet again, we are doomed to be in different places.  These days, emails and Facebook are our main mode of communication.

Little Sis and her children, Matthew and Christina

Tomorrow my "Little Sister" will reach her 55th birthday. It's hard to think of my baby sister being that age. (But then it's hard to think of being MY age!)  Despite all our differences, we still are alike in many other ways, But our lives have been different.  We have different interests, different experiences, and different desires.  Those 12 years have never become completely irrelevant.  I struggled with bridging the gap.  I always wanted to be best friends forever but the years and the paths we took never quite allowed that to happen in the way that I wanted.

I realize though, that being best friends forever has never really  been a realistic goal.  We both have several great friends, a couple of which are even considered to be "best friends."  The reality is that we each only have one sister.  She is the only person who has known me all of her life,  the only person who loves me as unconditionally as only a sister can, the only person who shares our family history, and the only person who understands what that means.  She's my Little Sis and I will love her and be grateful for her and for everything she has brought to my existence all the days of her life.  I miss her and wish we were able to enjoy each other's company more often, but I know that we share a mutual admiration, pride, love, and caring unlike any other relationship in our lives.  She's my Lil' Sis and I am her Big Sis and nobody could ever change that.  A best friend forever??  Nah, she is something far better, she is my SISTER.

Photo: My big sis took very good care of me.  :)
My poor wounded Lil Sis!
She's been dealing with that broken wrist for nearly two years!!!

Happy Birthday Deb!  I hope you have as wonderful day as you deserve!!  Wish I was there to sing you Happy Birthday in person!

Friday, August 9, 2013

"Little Sister"

When I was somewhere around 3 or 4, my mom suffered an ectopic pregnancy.  The doctors told my mom that it would be very unlikely that she would ever get pregnant after that.  I don't know what Mom's reaction to that was, though my Mom was a very accepting person.  I'm pretty sure that she just accepted that and went on.  She never talked about wanting more children, I think she was perfectly fine with having only one child, after all she came from a family of 11 children!  Being able to pour all her love and attention on just one child might have been wonderful to her.

I wouldn't say that I was spoiled, exactly.  We didn't have the money for me to be too spoiled!   Mom was a strong disciplinarian and a very down-to-earth woman.  Nonetheless I never wanted for anything important.  My mom and I were very close and we enjoyed each other's company..  She was a great mom and for most of my childhood I had her all to myself.  My dad was in the restaurant business and he worked afternoons to closing around 10 pm.  So mom and I did things together.

I do remember mentioning several times that I wanted a little brother or sister, but Mom always made it pretty clear that there wouldn't be either one.  That was disappointing to me.  Like most only children I wanted somebody to play with, and a built-in playmate/friend/sibling would have been just the thing, but somewhere along the way I gave up the idea and stopped asking for a baby sister or brother.

Then came 1958.  I turned 12 in 1958. I was almost a teenager!  I got a bit taller that year.  My hair was cut fairly short and it was up to me to keep it nice.  I had a poodle skirt and crinolines and I could finally wear shoes without socks!  I had my first real crush.  I was going into 7th grade and 1958 was the year rock 'n roll burst into my life (and everyone else's too!)  Bill Haley and the Comets', "Rock Around the Clock" was a huge hit and I remember being at my first "dance" and dancing to that song about 15 times.  It was a great song, it had a great beat and you could dance to it! I gave it a high mark!

I was almost a grown up!  I was thinking about boys, and fashion, and music, and boys, and girlfriends, and boys and did I mention....boys??!!

And then Mom had news!

A baby was coming!!!  Really, after all those years!  Our very own  baby!  A little brother or a "Little Sister"  I was thrilled.  I guess part of me had never given up hoping!  Wow!  I was still young enough to get excited and not be embarrassed that my mother was......GASP!.....PREGNANT!   My Dad was thrilled, my Mom was thrilled, our friends were thrilled.  My grandparents were thrilled.  My mom's sisters and brothers were thrilled.  But I was the most excited of all!  It was wonderful news.  I could hardly wait!

Mom had no big problems with the pregnancy (at least none that I knew about.)  She was active and energetic and as long as she got a little nap in the afternoon, she was in a great mood.  We talked about possible names for the baby.  Mom and I decided on a boy's name and a girl's name.  (I'm sure Dad had an opinion too, but I didn't see him very much because of his work hours).

Nobody expressed a preference for a boy or girl, we just wanted healthy!  Still deep in my heart of hearts, I wanted a sister....a sweet, cute, "Little Sister" who would be my best friend forever!    I didn't think August was ever going to come!

More to come....

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