Slice of Life March 25th, 2013 #slice2013

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Today Chris and I discovered that the hospital wireless is decent enough to let patients stream from Netflix.  After browsing the recently added TV shows and movies, Chris said he wanted to give Dr. Who a try and I agreed.

Most of my friends are big Who fans.  Many, many, many of my students are huge Who fans.  (Is there a name for the Who fandom?)  Some of my students have been begging, or really demanding, me to give the show a try. I always have it on my list but we rarely have time to binge watch anything besides Downton Abbey, which  is in a class all its own.

So we decided today, in the hospital, would be the perfect excuse to sit down and give it a shot.  We browsed the many, many, many seasons and tried to decide where to start.  We quickly made the decision to skip the 60′s version and start with the 2005 Season 1 reboot.  We watched one episode with Rose and Nine (look at me, using the right terminology already!) and it was enjoyable.  But I wasn’t very attached to the Doctor.  We laughed at the episode and enjoyed it, but something was missing.  I asked Chris if he minded skipping to the second season, which starred David Tennant. I wanted to see if that hooked me a little more.  He didn’t mind, so we tried the first episode of Ten’s season.

Well, Ten is my Dr. Who.  Yup. Definitely.  David Tennant, who I know from Hamlet  and Harry Potter, is a force of

The Doctor has changed appearance ten distinct...

The Doctor has changed appearance ten distinct times. These are the eleven faces of the Doctor. (Top) L-R: William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker (Middle) L-R: Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann (Bottom) L-R: Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

nature.  What an amazing actor!  We flew through his first episode and now I plan to binge watch as many seasons as possible! Chris will be coming home at some point this week (trying not to jinx it!) and I am on spring break.  He has a few weeks of recovery ahead of him and we are looking forward to lots of time spent watching new TV shows and movies, and Dr. Who will definitely be at the top of the list.  Finally!

Slice of Life March 24th, 2013 #slice2013

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I don’t think this even counts as a Slice of Life.  But I can’t come up with anything else.

Today’s theme is exhaustion.  Mental and physical and emotional.  Just exhaustion.

Slice of Life March 23rd, 2013 #slice2013

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Just a quick slice tonight.

I spent the day at the hospital with Chris, and my in-laws took a break and watched the dogs for most of the day.  My mother-in-law, who has two cocker spaniels, always teases the dogs by saying that one of them will win “Dog of the day” for being the best behaved.  It’s a very important prize.

Today they had their two Cocker Spaniels plus the two Aussies.  This is the first time Bailey has stayed with them and I forgot to mention that since St. Patrick’s Day she has been on a counter-surfing kick.  I need to deal with it but just haven’t had the time (clearly).  Well, my mother-in-law bought a hoagie today and left it on the table for a minute while she finished getting lunch.

I’m sure you can see where this is going.

Bailey ate the hoagie.  The whole half.  In one bite.  With no chewing. And she was quite proud of herself.

Needless to say, she did not win Dog of the Day.

And I think she’s ok with that.  Because the hoagie was delicious!

Slice of Life March 22nd, 2013 #slice2013

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I’m sitting here, trying to fall asleep, and I’m watching Friends.

Friends is my go-to comfort show.  I watch it when I’m sick, when I want to fall asleep, when I need to wind down from a long day. I’ve seen every episode a hundred times and Chris would tell you that I can recite the episode title with less than 30 seconds of any episode.  He’s right.

 I started watching Friends when I was in about 5th grade.  Then, I wasn’t allowed to stay up an watch the episodes, so I would sneak and watch them whenever I got the chance.  I remember that my friend Colleen loved the show too, so for her birthday I got her a Central Perk t-shirt and coffee mug, and I was convinced it was the best present ever! We would sing “Smelly Cat” together at school and we all wanted to be like the characters when we grew up.  Living in NY, hanging out at a coffee shop, spending every day with your best friends — it sounded like the best life ever!

I watched Friends all through middle school, high school, and into college.  The episodes would be on the background as I studied or napped.  They played as I got ready to go out on Thursday nights and while my friends and I did each other’s hair and make-up. Then, they announced that the series was ending.  My college friends and I piled into one room, crammed onto beds and the floor, and watched the last episode together.  I remember crying as the characters walked out of the apartment for the last time, because my friends and I were only a few months away from graduating college and walking away from our lives, too.

Friends is my show.  I can recite almost every line.  I still laugh at all the jokes.

“My god, this parachute is a knapsack!”

“The cushions are the essence of the chair!”

“Could I be wearing anymore clothes?!”

 And tonight it will help put me to sleep.

Slice of Life March 21st, 2013 #slice2013

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Today I had to take the Aussies to doggie daycare.

Go ahead and laugh.  I’ll wait a minute.

Ok, yes, sometimes I take the dogs to daycare.  This (expensive) treat is really a treat for me, because I take them when I know I have to work late and won’t be able to give them the attention they need.  This means they spend 7-9 hours running around, playing, and getting their energy out so that when I pick them up, they are exhausted. Aussies are exhausting, especially when you do not have a backyard for them to run in. So I am grateful we have other options.

Today, I felt like I was dropping children off.  I went back to school for the first time since Chris’ surgery and I knew I would be too exhausted to even consider taking care of the dogs after school.  But when I woke them up this morning, they both sounded like they had post-nasal drip.  The hacking was unbearable.  Very quickly, I did the math in my head and realized allergy season is here in full force. Aussies are ridiculously allergy-sensitive and I just read that this year’s allergy season is forecast to be the worst in decades thanks  to the hurricane. Dublin and Bailey also spent a lot of time playing outside for the past two days, thanks to my amazing in-laws, sister-in-law, and friend.  But they suffered the consequences today when they could not stop clearing their throats.

So there I was, dropping off two dogs and trying to explain that no, they were not sick and please ignore the hacking because the benadryl hasn’t kicked in yet. Thankfully, everyone at the daycare is awesome and fawned all over them, telling (the dogs) that the artificial turf they use would help them feel better.

At 5pm, I picked up two very happy, very tired dogs.  Benadryl worked its magic and they are passed out next to me on the couch.  I have been able to pack to go back to Philly and get some work done without them nagging me.  So thank you to our awesome doggie daycare!

Slice of Life March 20th, 2013 #slice2013

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My husband’s cousin posted this website earlier today, and it’s my new favorite.

Real tough guys don’t need guns,

they just need a positive, can-do attitude

Today’s slice of life is short and sweet.  I am incredibly proud of Chris.  Today he was up and out of bed, taking two walks around his floor at the hospital.  He wanted to see the view (he is on the top floor) and got to watch the helipad for a bit.  His positive attitude has amazed me, because I don’t think I would be able to do the same thing.  Plus, he is sitting in a hospital bed and still manages to make sure his parents and I  eat regularly and get everything done that we need to do.

So, in essence, today’s slice is really to say “thank you” to Chris, for being incredible.  And for being so positive through all of this.

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Slice of Life March 19th, 2013 #slice2013

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  I’ve spent the last week bursting into tears at random moments, culminating when I wept over Bailey eating my corned beef sandwich on Sunday.  Today was one of the hardest days of my life.  At 5am we left my in-laws’ house in South Jersey and drove to UPenn.  At 7:15am, Chris was taken into surgery. I’ve been a weepy, awful mess since last night.

The surgery went well, even better than expected.  He will be much better in the long run.  But wow.  And then he spent almost 10 hours in the recovery room, because his room wasn’t ready yet.  Talk about ridiculous!  But the nurse who was with him all day was great and Chris did an awesome job.  But there are no words for the ball of emotion that I am.

I have amazing friends and in-laws who took care of me all day.  I can’t thank my best friend Julie enough for driving own and spending most of the surgery sitting next to me, keeping me calm.  In 2002 she moved to Ithaca to attend Cornell, then to Massachusetts when she went to MIT for grad school.  Two weddings and a baby later, we are back in the same state as of two weeks ago.  Someone was looking out for me in that regard.  I’m not sure I would have made it through the morning without her there.

And also, a big thanks to the nurses who checked with me all day.  I so don’t do hospitals.  Needles make me faint and I get pale at the thought of an IV.  Three or four times today different nurses pulled me aside to make sure I was ok if I looked woozy.  They also made fun of me when I explained that I couldn’t watch them take blood or change the IV.  But I guess I would make fun of them if they cringed at the thought of dealing with high schoolers!  To each his own.

Most importantly, I am so proud of Chris, who has dealt with this for the last few months, dealt with my over-the-top weepiness at the drop of a hat, and came out of surgery smiling and joking.  He has a fabulous attitude and I am ridiculously proud to call him my husband.  One day down, only a few more days to go before he comes home.

We’ve reached the top of the mountain, and hopefully it is all downhill from here.

*PS- I am also grateful for awesome students, who took my absence in stride.  Especially my seniors, who won’t see me all week but followed the instructions in my googledoc to a tee.  They ran a backchat while analyzing a disaster movie and the conversation was fantastic.  They even managed to clean up and send me a copy before the end of the period. As I skimmed the transcript earlier today, I breathed a sigh of relief. One less thing to stress about!

Slice of Life March 17th, 2013 #slice2013

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Today is my favorite holiday.  It may even beat out Christmas, in my book.  This year we had a very low-key St. Patrick’s Day, complete with Bailey eating my corned beef as I was making sandwiches, but I did spend some time going through my photos from our last trip to Ireland.

In 2011 my father finally made it to Ireland.  We’ve spent years tracing our family tree though Ancestry.com and other websites.  Chris and I went to Ireland before we got married, but we had only been to Dublin.  My father flew our entire family out there this time around, renting an amazing house in County Meath.

Abhain Lodge

Abhain Lodge

If you are ever looking for a place to stay in Ireland, Tony and Wendy, who own Abhain Lodge, are fabulous.  We still stay in touch today!

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While in Ireland, we spent time in Navan, Dublin, and all over the coast.  Chris and I spent a day driving along the Irish Sea, and I happily dipped my toes into the cold water. I grew up minutes from the Atlantic Ocean.  I’ve been swimming in the Caribbean.  But I had not stepped in the same waters that my ancestors sailed so many centuries ago.  It was cold, but thrilling.

 

But the most amazing part of our trip fell into place only a few days before we flew to Ireland.  For years, my father and I researched my great-grandmother’s history.  We knew she fled to the US as a teenager, after her mother died and her father remarried.  She did not have much contact with her many brothers and sisters back in Ireland and rarely spoke about them.  We did not have much to go on, so about 5 years ago we posted a message on an ancestry.com forum for her surname.  We received a few responses, but no solid leads.

About two weeks before we left to visit Ireland, my father called me to say he had just received a notification that we had a response to a message and he wanted to know what I had posted.  I racked my brain and all I could come up with was the question we had posed years earlier.  Thinking it must be a mistake, we logged in to check.  And there it was: a message from a man who said his father has a half-sister whose story matched my great-grandmother’s.  It seemed too good to be true, but we emailed him via private message and waited.

All of it matched.  A little digging, a few conversations, and it was clear that my great-grandmother was his father’s half-sister.  The next think I knew, my great-uncle Ronnie was asking to meet with us when we arrived in Ireland.  We set up the date and time and agreed to pick him up at the train station in Dublin and then he would take us on a tour of Kildare, where my great-grandmother grew up.

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Some of my family and my long-lost great-uncle

It was an amazing journey.  We learned that Ronnie and my great-grandmother were very close, and that she had even named him! (After a famous movie star at the time).  She later went on to name her son Ronnie, too.  She was a teenager when he was born, after her mother died and her father remarried.  About a year later, she boarded a ship to the US and never returned.  Ronnie had heard she lived somewhere near NYC, but was never able to track her down.  He went on to become a successful businessman and even traveled to NY a few times, visiting his siblings and relatives in the area.  But he never saw Hannah again and did not think he would hear about her again.  Then his son happened to see our post online.

 

The entire journey was amazing, but meeting up with my great-uncle was life-changing.  We exchanged stories and photos, telling him about my great-grandmother while he led us around Sallins, Naas, and Kildare.  We visited graveyards and the family home, and even managed to get inside the house where he and my great-grandmother grew up.  He told us stories we had never heard and we even learned that we are related to Michael Collins.

St. Patrick’s Day has always been important to me, but even more so now that we have learned more about our Irish heritage and I have stood where my ancestors stood.

 

 

 

 

Slice of Life March 16th, 2013 #slice2013

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My morning started with the sound of the vacuum downstairs as I got dressed for our walk with the dogs.  I thought it was odd that Chris was vacuuming, but I figured that the dogs must have knocked something down.  I just crossed my fingers that he wasn’t cleaning up a present from the cat.

When I got downstairs there was no sign of the vacuum, but Chris was smiling sheepishly as he stood with the dogs.

“There was a situation, but I took care of it, ” he said.

“What kind of situation?  Was one of them sick? Or did they eat something?” My mind began to race with possibilities.

“Just a situation.  It’s taken care of.  Don’t worry.”

I was not having any of that.  In the event that they did eat something they were not supposed to, I needed to know what happened. “No way,” I said.  “Tell me what happened.”

Chris glanced at Bailey, who was sitting at his side, gazing at him adoringly. “Well, I took Bailey out to the bathroom and …”

“She had a leash on, right?”  I could tell by his face that she had not been wearing her leash.

“We were just on the front lawn.  But then a lady walked by on the sidewalk….” he trailed off for a second.  I looked at Bailey, who was still sitting next Chris, smiling at him. “She ran after the lady.  It’s ok, though!  She didn’t really jump on her.  But I had to get her to come inside somehow.”

At this point, I still wasn’t sure how the vacuum figured into the story.  Bailey hates the vacuum, so he wasn’t luring her back to the house with it!

“So I grabbed a stick,” he continued.  “And she came right back.  But then I had to give her the stick.  And she brought it into the house.  Then Dublin stole it from her, then they played tug until it broke.  They both chewed part of the stick and it made a big mess.  But I cleaned it up!”.

He was so proud of himself for cleaning up the mess that I couldn’t even make a big deal about him breaking the rules and taking Bailey out without a leash.

Never a dull moment, even first thing in the morning!

Slice of Life March 15th, 2013 #slice2013

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Tonight was my first agility class with the dogs.  We’ve done a bit of informal agility work in the past, but we’ve never done anything official.

If you aren’t sure what agility is, take a look at this quick video.

It’s been a long week and I’m exhausted.  I was dreading the class a little because it’s 25 minutes away and I was so tired. But at 5:30 I met up with my friends who are also in the class, took one of the puppies in my car with the Aussies (three Aussies in one Honda Civic…oh my!), and headed west.  When we got to the barn where class was being held, there was a bit of confusion and chaos, but everything soon got settled.

The class started with a lot of handouts (for the people, not the dogs!).  They went over the definitions and a lot of the technical terms in the sport of agility.  Then we started to work.  First, we worked on front and rear crosses, which I am terrible at.  The dogs did a great job, but I am ridiculously clumsy and almost tripped a million times.  But Bailey was complimented on her beautiful movement (and her speed).  Of course, Bailey started the activity by running “crazy-go-nuts” around the arena at first.  Always a bundle of energy!

I spent the night switching back and forth between both dogs, as we practiced crosses and targeting.  Dublin was awesome at targeting, which is when  the dog stops at the end of a ramp and pauses, waiting for a command, with the back paws on the contact and front paws on the ground.  Both dogs had their own strengths, which was so cool to see.

It was a great class and all three of us left tired.  It’s so cool to watch the dogs learning and taking in information, figuring out what I am asking them to do.  Plus, I got to spend an hour outside, working with them.  I can’t wait for the next class!

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