Jake's New Wheels

Jake’s New Wheels

Today we picked up his Jake’s new wheels.  For the past two years, Jake’s been driving an older model Ford Focus.  It wasn’t beautiful, but it was functional and has served our family well.  The AC on the Focus went last spring, which makes driving it untenable.  When you combine the AC issues  with the electrical system issues, it was time for Jake to get a new car.

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Thankfully for Jake, his Uncle Jon has been keeping an eye out for deals at his work.  This was a complete godsend for Jake and us.  Once we got back from Norway, he was able to locate a couple of Mini Coopers that would be perfect or Jake.  My brother is a car expert.  Much like my dad, he loves cars and knows everything about them. There is nobody better than Jon to find the perfect car for Jake.

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Today was the day, Jake got to pick up his wheels.  It was hard for us to tell who was more excited about the car Jake or Jon.  It was a toss up.  Uncle Jon took him through the controls on the car, so he’d know  how everything worked.   Hubby was sending me pics throughout, so I could see the joyous moment.

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Jake was ready to give me a ride in his new car as soon as I got home from work.  The car is gorgeous black on black with all the bells and whistles.  The car oozes performance and style.  Needless to say,  it is a pretty big upgrade from the Focus.  Sadly,  my Prius now looks a little less sexy in the driveway next to his new mini.

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Jake’s been close with Uncle Jon since he was born and it shows in the pictures.  Jake and Jon have a great relationship. Their relationship has evolved over the years from exploring airplanes and sharing ice cream cones to playing adult league hockey and exploring Europe together.  While Jake is exceptionally lucky to get this great vehicle, he is even luckier to have aunts and uncles that have always championed him and always been there for him.

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Solar Let Down

Solar Let Down

Like most things in modern history, the great solar eclipse of 2017 was hailed with much fanfare leading to a major solar let down.  I’m not quite sure why our news media feels compelled to fixate on things for months.  They talk ad nauseam about the amazingness of this eclipse for months.  It was to be both amazeballs, life altering and crisis inducing.

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Fortunately or all of us, the sky did not fall today.   Nope, it was another normal day.  Well…  Except for when the moon covered 79% of the sun for a brief window in time.  It did not get measurably darker, nor did it cooler.  In fact, I felt a little left in the lurch by the eclipse.  It would have been wonderful for a little relief from heat indexes in the 100s even if for a minute or two.

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My work did a great job today providing everyone with eclipse glasses and moon pies.  The glasses worked fantastically and we were able to see the eclipse.  I was quickly regretting my decision to wear a black dress today as the sun’s rays were still exceptionally hot.  Nevertheless, I did get to enjoy the eclipse with some of my favorite people.  Finally, even if we weren’t in the path of totality, we did get to listen to some great tunes courtesy of eclipse themed playlists.

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Solar Eclipse Soundtrack

In light of hysteria over today’s solar eclipse, I thought I’d share some songs that are perfect for the occasion.

  • Bonny Tyler: Total Eclipse of the Heart
  • REM:  It’s the End of the World As We Know It
  • The Beatles: Here Comes the Sun
  • Violent Femmes: Blister in the Sun
  • Soundgarden: Black Hole Sun

Wonderful Weekend

It’s been a wonderful weekend, but like most it is coming to an end all to quickly.   Friday night we had our favorite take out and relaxed to some of our favorite shows on Netflix.  Our Saturday and Sunday were a stark contrast to the relaxation of Friday night.

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I can’t hardly complain about Saturday.  It is hard to complain about enjoying Peanut Island with good friends (aka hockey family) and on a boat.  We had a blast with the Kennedys and Whips  in the beautiful, calm waters near Peanut Island.  The boys had a blast.  Their favorite part of the day, the visit from the pizza delivery boat.  Amazing!  Unfortuntely, despite the copious amounts of sunscreen applied over and over, I am now the shade of a lobster.  Its not a good look.

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Unfortunately for my sun burnt back, we had a fundraiser for the hockey team last night.  It was a casino night, which meant I had to dress up and a sports bra wouldn’t be acceptable. Boo!   There is nothing more uncomfortable than bra straps on a sunburned back and shoulders.

We had a great evening filled with drinks, food, friends and gambling.  I was a little worried about how I was gonna feel this morning.  Especially after enjoying 3 or 4 vodka sodas,.  Fortunately, the bartender was light on the pour.  Thank god because I had a lot to do today.

After our second drink, we felt it was time to lose our chips at the blackjack.  No sooner had I played my first hand when I received a call from Goalielocks.  He, TK and the Mayor were at our house hanging out as John, the hubby and I were at the fundraiser.  Apparently, the dogs were were going insane barking, which worried the kids.  I’m not sure what they thought we could do from there, but I told them to keep the dogs out.

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Our dogs are large and have a bark to match, so they’d likely scare anyone off.  I instructed Goalielocks to call the police if they saw anything unusual and then call me.  I didn’t hear back from them after that call, so I texted him and he informed me everything was now okay.

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Meanwhile Jake started texting me from John’s house where he was babysitting TK’s sisters.  They have a kitten, Destiny, who usually stays upstairs.  Last night she decided to take a trip downstairs.  Last night, we rediscovered Jake’s severe allergy to cats. Quickly his friend Arielle, who lives in the neighborhood,  was able to bring him some benadryl.

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I checked back in on him ten minutes later and he was feeling woozy.  At that point, he informed me that he had taken 3 benadryl. Now I’m freaking out since the proper dose is two.  I was certain he had misread the box since he was feeling pretty rough.  He sent me a photo of the label, which indicated a dose of 1-4 tablets.  I was confused as I had never seen a benadryl box that advocated taking more than two pills at once.

We hurried back to John’s house since I was a bit worried about Jake.  Throughout all our text messages, he neglected to mention that he had taken children’s benadryl. It was kind of a key piece of information to leave out.  Nevertheless, we got him home and into bed quite quickly.

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My sunburn kept me warm all night, so sleeping was not working so well.  I woke up to huge cracks of thunder and copious amounts of lightning.  I’m pretty sure lightning struck our yard or our neighbor’s yard given the amazing thunder we were experiencing.  We spent the rest of our Sunday running all the errands I neglected on Saturday and working out with the boys.  The younger two did awesome job on the TRX.  They’re starting to understand that in order to achieve their own ice goals, they have to work hard on and off the ice.

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Lastly, the big topic of conversation in our house this weekend is the solar eclipse tomorrow.  At this point in the weekend, my boys have been given the “don’t look directly into the sun” speech so many times they can recite perfectly.  Moreover, it seems to put them into a trance like state until I remind them they’ll be going to school tomorrow.  I’m sure they’re no different than 100% of the kids already back in school that are hoping for a random Monday off.

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Solitary Places

“Orlando naturally loved solitary places, vast views and to feel himself for ever and ever and ever alone.” – Virgina Woolf.

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We’re not always comfortable enough in our own skin to be by ourselves.  There is real value, however, in learning to be comfortable in our solitude.  I have found as I get older solitude has become more comfortable and more natural.   When I was younger, I hated being alone.

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Albert Einstein, one of the world’s most brilliant minds, left us some nuggets of genius on the topic. He recognize the challenge of solitude when we are young.  Especially in our school years, solitude can be quite painful.  As we get older, we realize how important it is for us.  Consequently, he also commented on how man in general is at one and the same time both a solitary being and a social being.  Every day depending on how much coffee I’ve had, I vacillate between the two.  The more coffee I’ve had, the more social I am.  Some would say, when I have coffee in hand, I glow.

 

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As a mother of three kids, finding solitude has become akin to finding the holy grail. Silent contemplation is a gift of my daily commute into Broward.  Set against the backdrop of an eclectic mix of music, I look forward to my 35 minutes of solitude.   Of course a happy and productive life needs a mix of solitude and togetherness.  One can’t find happiness in either extreme.

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Hangry

One of my favorite commercials, is the Snicker commercial featuring the Brady Bunch’s Marcia Brady.  Marcia is so hangry that she’s morphed into a big, mean biker dude.  As soon as she takes a bite of her Snickers bar, however, she turns back into the sweet all American girl we know and love.  I’d be lying if I said I was any different.  I would also be lying if I said that food makes me happier than coffee.  I run on Dunkin.

As cranky as I can get when I’m hungry, my younger boys can be absolute curmudgeons.  They’re like an 80 year old man going through puberty.  Quite frankly, it’s ugly.  Like the sour patch in the commercial, he goes from sugary sweet to dastardly sour.

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When we were hiking on the Vindhellavegen section of the Kongsvegen, the Mayor had become hungry.  As we hiked the Sverre hjornevik, one of the most picturesque parts of the trail, the Mayor’s hangriness started to peak.  One problem…  The trail was wide enough, but was gravelly in places. If one were to fall of the side of the road, one would fall into a rocky gorge.  It wouldn’t be a good outcome.

 

The Mayor felt the entire mountainside from Borgund to Husom should know of his discontent.  He was not quiet in sharing his displeasure.  Jake and I trekked to the bottom to see Husom and take pictures, while the Mayor, Goalielocks and the Hubby waited on some benches up the hill.

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We finally made our way back up the trail, which was much steeper on the way up than it had been on the descent.  The Mayor whose hangriness has reached a new level of ludicrousness was beside himself.  His antics were annoying Goalielocks and Jake, leading Goalielocks to ask the Mayor if he could be any louder.  This wasn’t not a good question to ask.  The Mayor started to scream, shout and clap as he did a jig a la GOB from Arrested Development.  Out of breath, I had to stop hiking because I was laughing too hard.

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While the Mayor was attempting to annoy his brothers, the rest of us ended up in hysterics because it was truly the funniest thing we’d ever seen.  This, of course, only made it worse.  It wasn’t until he saw my iphone recording that he started walking normally.  As soon as we got back to the Borgund Stave church and museum, we got him some food.  We couldn’t unfurl the wrapper off the muffin quick enough. Once the food was on board, my sweet angelic Mayor was back.

 

 

Memories

I’ve been using Shutterfly to house and print my photos for the last eleven years, so many of memories are housed there.  In fact, I’ve been on Shutterfly longer than I’ve been on Facebook.  That’s a long time.  One of the thing, I love about Shutterfly is the memory emails.  Much like Facebook Memories, Shutterfly now sends email with a link to your old photos.

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Today’s memories email from Shutterfly was of memories from 10 years ago.  What a fantastic trip down memory lane.  Ten years ago, Jake was starting 3rd grade.  This year he’ll be starting at Palm Beach State.  The Mayor was a doll at a year old and Colin was almost four.  Now both of them are in middle school.

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You can see how digital photos has evolved since 2007 when comparing the quality of photos from 2007 to 2017.  Their are several super cute, but super grainy pictures of the boys.   Admittedly, part of the problem could be that they simply were unable to sit still long enough for me to get a quality photo.  However, they haven’t changed that much and the photos should still be super grainy if that was the case.  Grainy or not, the photos from 2007 are a wonderful trip down memory lane.

 

Vacation Planning

Vacation planning for families is no joke.  With a trip like that you can’t just plan things willy-nilly.  When planning a big family trip, especially overseas, a lot of careful planning and consideration must go into it.     We took over two years to plan the Norway trip given the cost, length of travel and number of people going.  My brother took point on the itinerary booking the Norway in a Nutshell tour.  Meanwhile, we booked a car and mirrored their stops.

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Renting a car in Norway was fairly easy and was reasonably priced through Hertz when booked with our AAA discount.  Driving in Norway was fairly easy and straight forward.  The roads were significantly narrower and full of roundabouts.  In stark contrast to South Florida, Norwegian drivers were adept at the roundabouts and very congenial drivers.  I didn’t hear a horn once.  Norwegians are serious about their speed limits with speed cameras littering their road ways.  Thank God for Waze and its speed trap warnings.  Waze and Apple Maps worked perfectly in Norway.

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Food is ridiculously expensive in Norway no matter which route you take. MacDonald’s set us back $60 in Bergen and that was fast food.   The lodging, however, was reasonably priced.  Hotels were nice as they often came with a complimentary breakfast that was quite impressive.  Our hotel in Trondheim, the Radisson Blu, had one of the most incredible hotel breakfasts I had ever seen.  The Air BnB’s worked perfectly for our family in Oslo and Bergen.  It was great to stay in the neighborhoods of these cities and away from the tourists.   Near our Air BnB in Bergen there was a great local coffee shop that had the most incredible coffee and treats.

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As I look to our next big trip, a couple of things I will keep in mind.  First, under no circumstance will I accept a compact car at the rental counter- no way, no how.  Secondly, the car was nice as it gave us a great opportunity to see the Norwegian countryside and cities, but it was slow going.  Next time, I think we will look to combine car, train and boat to see more of the country.  Thirdly, I will take out a second mortgage to cover the cost of food.  Lastly, when abroad it is not necessary to eat enough pastries to make up for the last two carb free years.  #lessonlearned

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Flam A Picturesque Hamlet

Flam is a picturesque hamlet at the end of the Aurlandsfjord.  Surrounded by mountains and the beautiful fjord, you couldn’t imagine a more beautiful, serene or more Norwegian place.  On the surroundings hills and mountains, the farmers let their sheep and goats roam freely to find the best grass.  It was even more beautiful that I had imagined.

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Our first night in Flam, we met our family at Flamstova for dinner.   Our dinner was incredible, but the kids had grown weary from sitting at the table.  My cousin Jessica and her husband Jeff volunteered to take them out to see the sheep in the pasture.  With the kids gone, we could enjoy the remainder of our dinner in relative silence.

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Meanwhile the kids were in seventh heaven as they fed the sheep that ventured near the fence.  Colin had his first run in with the prickle of a stinging nettle he had picked to feed the sheep.  He learned his lesson and was more careful when he picked the grass.  The kids loved the animals we would see grazing freely throughout our Norwegian travels, but the opportunity to be up close and feed them was even better.

We made several more visits to the sheep before leaving Flam including a walk behind the fence to find some good fishing spots.  The boys, particularly the younger two, had to visit their sheep named Jeffry.  All of the kids enjoyed feeding and interacting with the sheep.   They loved to watch their silly antics as they ran down the mountain or assaulted their mother for milk.  It certainly isn’t something our kids are accustom to seeing.

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It was awesome to see the how freely the sheep and goats were to gallivant about the mountains finding the best grass.  Each morning the farmers would let their herds out and then each night the farmers would bring them back home.   How they got them to come down the mountain, I don’t know, but each and every night they’d return home from their pastures.

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Purple Stride Broward-Palm Beach

Last week I received an email announcing the Purple Stride Broward-Palm Beach Event.  I can’t believe it is that time of the year again.  We are less than a month away from the racing (running) season in South Florida.  Since the heat index has been in the triple digits since we got back, I’ve been training on the treadmill.   It is never too early to start training as the race will be here in a jiffy.

Today I setup our team for the purple stride event happening on November 19th at FAU (Florida Atlantic University) in Boca Raton.  We will be racing under the team Deb Force Five for the third year in a row.  My goal is to be the number one team in fundraising for the second year in a row.  We are shooting for $10,500.

As I updated the information and the team’s website, I got choked up.  It hit me like semi-truck that this year would be painfully different.   August 26th will make five months since we lost Debbie, but it still feels so fresh.  Grief is awful.  Like a thief in the night, it comes out of nowhere and steals your happiness.  It pops up unexpectedly, forcefully and with so much pain.

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After I collected myself a bit, I got on the treadmill to put in my thirty minutes.  The first five minutes were tearful, but as my run continued my hope and sense of purpose returned.  I made a promise to Debbie to continue advocating for pancreatic cancer awareness and fighting for a cure.  It is a promise I cannot and will not ever break.

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In the coming months, we hope to announce the launch of a pancreatic cancer immunotherapy clinical trial that Debbie, Melissa Nicholas and I had started working on last December.   It destroyed me that we were not able to launch the clinical trial, so Debbie could benefit.  In hindsight, I think Debbie knew this since she was a pharmacist.  As a neophyte to the industry, I had hopes that we could get it started right away.

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She was a second mom to my kids and they loved her to pieces.   Her memory is never far for anyone us.  My boys insisted on lighting a candle in Debbie’s memory at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim.  Afterwards in the gift shop, they picked out a praying angel, for her, that watches over us from our kitchen.

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You may have seen the new shirts that were posted to the site this weekend.  My boys and I have been hard at work designing shirts and a business plan for our new store.  For all of us, the creative process and the opportunity to honor Debbie’s memory has been cathartic.   The profits from our merchandise will go towards funding the clinical trial and towards a scholarship program that helps families with the expenses for travel hockey.

For more information on Purple Stride Broward-Palm Beach or to join our team click here

For more information of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network click here

Fore more information Pennies In Action click here

Fore more information on our store click here