Sunday, April 27, 2008

RIP Babchi

It’s been awhile since I last blogged. I have a good excuse. My grandma, Teofilia, or better known as “Tillie,” died last Saturday and so we spent the week juggling between returning from our respective trips, driving down to Jersey, attending the services, then returning to work. It was quite a whirlwind.

A little bit about my Grandma, my Dad’s mom. She was almost 88 and pretty sick for the past year. I mean, she’s been sick for awhile, but it really went downhill this year when she was back and forth between the hospital and nursing home. She was born in America, but her parents were both from Poland. So she was very Polish. Yes, I have Polish in me, in case you didn’t know that before. She even spoke Polish and I picked up a few words here and there. “Babchi” is Polish for Grandma. Growing up, I saw her probably 2-3 times a year and talked to her on holidays and her birthday. She was always a good cook and I loved her lumpy mashed potatoes the most! My Grandpa, her husband, died over 20 years ago, so she was on her own for a long time. She always talked so highly of him and how she couldn’t wait to be with him again. You could tell they had true love. My Dad had two sisters and my Grandma treated him like gold. He could do no wrong! Of course, he held her in the highest esteem too. She always told me I looked like her when she was young, which was a great compliment because she was a truly beautiful young woman. I think I usually shocked her with my life decisions because her common response when we would talk was, “oh my.” When I decided to move to Arizona, our conversation went basically like this:
Me: So I’m moving to Phoenix, Arizona.
Gma: Why would you move there?
Me: I don’t know. It will be a good opportunity for me and I like the sun.
Gma: Oh my. So far away. And what about the people?
Me: What people Grandma?
Gma: You know, the people.
Me: You mean the Mexicans?
Gma: Yeah.
Me: They’re just people like you and I. There’s a lot of different people in New Jersey, and we all mix well.
Gma: Yeah, but it’s so different there.

She was funny like that. Not racist, just that she grew up in different times. You can imagine how much her heart went faint when I started dating a Mexican! I think that’s why she liked J so much … When my Dad was young, they spent a good time living in the projects of Jersey City as the last white family. She was also funny about living day to day. Because you never knew what tomorrow would bring. That was the experience of living during the depression coming out in her.

So now she’s gone and we only have the good memories. I included a photo below from my wedding, probably the last time she was really well. I love those rose-colored glasses she always wore!

This was my first funeral/wake (I was in Germany for my Pop-Pop’s in 2004). It was very … happy. It was just good to have the whole family gathered. We did a lot of reminiscing. Not that I want to have another funeral, but it was great to see everyone.

That’s it for now. I’ve thought about several other posts I want to write. I even missed Earth Day (everyday is Earth Day for us though!). But, my writing is on hold for now. I am heading to Nashville tonight and am still way too busy at work! Things should simmer down soon.

I'm ending with a quote from Leo Rosten, a Polish-born American (fitting) writer and humorist …
“The purpose of life is to matter—to count, to stand for something, to have it make some difference that we lived at all.”

Saturday, April 19, 2008

From the City of Brotherly Love to the City of Google workers

Greetings from San Francisco!

My trip to Philly was fantabulous! I have a lot of girlfriends around the country, but none where I live (right now), so it’s always nice to reconnect. There’s nothing better than good girlfriends really. I got to spend a lot of QT with Chile and Charlotte, both one-on-one and together … it was just like the good ol’ days when we were college roommates. We talked about EVERYTHING and we laughed a good portion of the time. It is quite funny how much we’ve grown up though. In college, our biggest concern was who was hooking up with who and whether we were going to finish our paper on time. Now our conversations center around mortgages and babies! It’s also funny to see how much we’ve evolved into our own persons. We cooked dinner together and it was pretty comical to see our different “methods” of cooking. Charlotte is still methodical and precise in how she does things (cutting peppers so that they each measure the same) and apparently I have become neurotic and a germ freak (does anyone besides me think it’s a good idea to have separate cutting boards for your chicken and vegetables?). Overall, Chile looked superb for just giving birth and dealing with new motherhood. We all can’t get over how ginormous her boobs are, but I guess that’s to be expected. And her little one is so, so sweet.

I also did get to see RedJeepTrvlr, but our time was way too short. I had to catch that darn train to catch my plane!

San Fran has been pretty uneventful thus far, seeing as I’ve been working nonstop the whole time. We did eat at Bubba Shrimp Factory at Fisherman’s Warf last night and that was yummy in my tummy. My sessions have been really enlightening in terms of health care trends—past and future—but I won’t bore you with my work passion. The most exciting thing about my conference is that I got to meet Ted Koppel!! Okay, I didn’t really get to meet him, but he was the keynote speaker at one of the sessions. My schedule conflicted with his presentation, but I got to see 15 minutes of it and boy was he a phenomenal speaker. He inspired me more in those 15 minutes than I can describe! I like that these conferences are bringing in some famous faces more and more. This past year, I met Mark McClellan and Dr. Ruth!

So, I just posted my last assignment, which means I am home free! Tomorrow will be a day of exploring. I’ve been here several times, so I’m mainly going to play tourist with my coworker. Speaking of which, can I just say that some people are pretty helpless when it comes to new cities. She’s one of those types. She has stuck to me as good as glue. I don’t mind, but sometimes I just want to say, stay back puppy dog.

I think that’s it for now. J is having a blast in Vegas, winning me money I hope. We are both heading back to NH Sunday. Home sweet home is always so nice.

Here’s a picture of my girlfriends … then and now.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Last weekend, this weekend

I’ve been super busy at work this week and every night, so my weekend update is a little delayed …

Last weekend, J and I played house with my almost 6-year-old nephew, Bones, and 2-year-old niece, CurlyLocks. We volunteered to watch the kids for my sister, QuickQuestion, and brother-in-law, Yankee, because they had a christening to go to. We figured since we hadn’t seen the kids since Christmas, it’d be a good opportunity to spend some QT with them. This is the first time we’ve been alone with the kids for such a long period of time. Well, it was only one day, but still. J asked if it was nap time at least 9 times. He was a trooper. QuickQuestion of course left us a detailed list on what they can eat/not eat, meds, etc. Actually, I really wanted the list because damnit, kids are complicated and I barely can take care of myself, let alone two (three?) others.

The day turned out great. We took the kids to Kent State Park in CT for a hike up to the top of the waterfall. I debated about doing this. As you all know, J and I are outdoor enthusiasts and we want to get Bones and CurlyLocks as much interested in nature as we are. But, I wasn’t sure if they were too young for a real hike. I feared we would be carrying them the whole way and that they would be disinterested in trees, rocks and the waterfall. But it was quite the opposite. They had more energy than us!!! Even CurlyLocks wanted no help climbing the mountain, though she is still at the age where she falls a lot and makes my heart drop every time she runs on pavement. In any case, they were mesmerized by the 70-foot waterfall and Bones asked a ton of questions about the trail and stuff. That just made us so happy. To top it off, Bones went #2 in an outhouse!!!! Proud moment for us. Next, we’re going to teach him to dig a hole to do his business.

So now I’m headed to PhilaSanFranash. Actually, the Nashville part won’t be for another week and a half, but I am going to Philly this weekend, then straight to San Fran. In Philly, I’m going to see Chile’s new babe!!!! I’m staying with Charlotte the whole time and we plan to catch up and hear about Chile’s birthing experience. I’m also going to try to see RedJeepTrvlr (and her little boy) Wednesday before I fly out to San Fran. Unfortunately, theChief will be out of town when I’m there, so I won’t see her. She’s actually in Israel vacationing!

In any case, I’m excited for the trip. Then I’m going to San Fran for work. I have one day to play and will see J’s Grandma who lives out there. I have to give myself a premature pat on the back. In both Philly and San Fran, I will have to navigate the mass transit system (with all my luggage in tow) to get around to see people. I’ve done it before, so I know I’ll survive, but I’m not a city girl, and this is still a big venture for me.

In the meantime, J is going out to Vegas next week with some Prep boys (Beef and DrPilot) and others. Vegas, his second love next to Alaska. All I can say is watch out for the strippers and bring home the bacon baby. He usually is pretty good for that.

With that, I'll leave you with some pictures of the kids.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Fly no more?

There’s been a lot of shakeup in the airline business and the recent closure of several airlines has us a little bit worried. The shutdown of Skybus hit close to home, actually. I previously blogged about our awesome experience with the airline for our trip to Danville in February. We knew Skybus was doomed from the start, but we were taking advantage of it while it was around. J had a very cheap and direct flight planned to visit the Hoss in Ohio in May. Then, the Is/Was family just planned their summer vacation to NH using Skybus upon our recommendation. So to hear that Skybus was terminating all business so soon sucked. Thankfully, J will get refunded from his credit card company and will probably be able to book another flight. Same with the Is/Was family. But it’s just insane, especially how it happened. Skybus made their announcement Friday night that their last flights would run Saturday. What the heck would you do if you were in the middle of your trip??? I mean, we definitely have our share of delay/cancellation stories, and they are increasing every year. My biggest worries are that airlines will keep folding or they will do away with frequent flier miles (they are already cutting back and putting expirations on miles). We fly a lot and we love our FF miles. We need airlines to stay strong. Hang in there guys, hang in there.

Friday, April 4, 2008

La Vigne is French for …

“The Lover.” That’s what J used to tell me when we first started dating. It’s actually “the vineyard.” So J has French descent, none of which he embraces, but that’s beside the point. Coincidentally, my first name is actually common among French … men. That wasn’t my Mom’s intent and our family has absolutely no French heritage. She was pregnant with me watching soap operas and liked the name of Susan Sarandon’s character at that time. That’s where it comes from.

So anyways, I’ve been communicating with this researcher in Canada this week regarding her study that I was covering for work. We had a couple of email exchanges and today I got an email asking if we should be corresponding in French because my name makes it seem like I come from Quebec! Of course, she also thought I was a guy. Too funny!

Awhile back, I came across this Web site that tells you how many people have your name. There is only one other person with my first and current last name (J shares his name with 17 other people). Surprisingly, there are currently 39,490 people with my first name alone. I have noticed it’s becoming more common because in the last 5 years or so, I’ve met a lot of people with my name. And females at that! Previously, I never really met anyone with my name.

Now, if I kept my maiden name, there are far fewer people with that last name and there are 0 people with the full name!!! I used to be the lone one.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

20/20

I’m happy to report that my vision reached 20/20! I was 20/25 for the past two months, as we all know I had a very slllloooowwww healing process. The doctor said he doesn’t want to see me until December and that I can stop taking all my prescription drops!!! A long way from the repeated corneal abrasions and asking J to turn down the lights when they weren’t even on. The doctor asked me if I would have still done the surgery if I knew then about the pain I was going to endure. I hesitated a little bit, but I think I still would. Boy, do I love not having to worry about contacts and glasses and being able to see ALL THE TIME. Honestly, though, I would hope we would go about the process a little different. Like try to clear up my chronic dry eye BEFORE the surgery. But, hindsight is 20/20, right? HA!