Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The BIG TRUCK lunch box

Gotta give my daughter credit.

BHB purchased LW a GREAT new lunch box for his first day of school.  It is a "Big Truck" lunch box.  He was so proud heading off to his new school. (I am so very proud of what a great mom BHB is.)

It looks like she did a fantastic job for a great transition.  He cried - of course he is a two and half years old.  But he looks happy here.

I did not sleep well last night.  As I tossed and turned all night I couldn't figure out what was bothering me. Now I realize I was just worried.  But apparently there was no need.  BHB had it under control.

Today is starting off pretty good!

Cheers, Brenda
What a cute young man.-- new school uniform and a Big Truck lunch box to go along with it.  

My Last Responsibility

It is nice to be needed.  It is even better when someone needs you and you feel you did a great job of helping them.

Today has some very sad and a few happy feelings for me and how I have been helping my daughter.

Yesterday was the last day my daughter needed me to pick up LW at school for her.  He is starting a new school today (a very good school – this is a good thing) and I will no longer be needed to pick him up in the afternoon.

One side – I am extremely sad to not have this responsibility any longer.

Second side – I am happy he is going to a great school and my daughter will have the security of knowing she does not have to rely on me every single day.

Not that I am a security risk, I just am not always around to do it for her.

Every afternoon about 30 minutes prior to pick up time I would get a text, “Are you getting LW?” I am sure it was comforting to her when I replied that I was on my way.

When we moved to Florida from Bahrain, BHB decided to return to her work in a law firm.  She loves the work and a good firm presented it’s self close to where she lives.  However the Montessori school for LW has very limited hours and I would need to pick him up every day.

At first I was daunted by the responsibility and commitment. Would I remember every day (leave on time, have gas in the car and all that), would I be able to structure what ever I ended up doing around these hours, could I still take Hubby D to the airport and pick him up after his travels, would I be able to travel from time to time with Hubby D? My worries were for nothing.  It was easy and I fell into a routine rather quickly.

But yesterday was the last time I would be required to pick up LW and he starts in the new school today. Time flies when you are having fun.

Yesterday I tried taking a last picture of LW and myself in the room but the lighting did not work out too well.  We also tried to take a picture with LW’s best friend, however that was a disaster as we were standing next to the bookshelf and both boys instantly decided they wanted to read books.  The school has a great book about big trucks and LW really enjoys sharing it with me when I arrive to get him.



LW and I had a routine each day. After I signed him out, he would put on his cute little green turtle back pack and we would hunt for lizards on our way to the car. Generally we saw one or two every afternoon. One day we actually saw a large turtle and watched as it sauntered out of the parking lot into a pond area.


Some days pickup was easy and some days it was a challenge.  BHB complained that I let him explore too much and when she occasionally did pick him up (when I traveled) it took forever to make it to the car.  I actually liked that criticism.

I tried to make our last night together as much fun and special as I could. Once we were in the car I gave LW a special “Papa cookie.”  They are Oreo cookies that Hubby D loves and so does LW.




I was very lucky and it happened to be a night when BHB’s husband (LW’s dad) was traveling so she and LW stayed with me for dinner.  Hubby D was in Chicago so it was just the three of us.

LW and I spent time waiting on BHB to arrive playing in my kitchen courtyard with climbing toys we have for LW.



I cooked pizza for LW (his favorite) and great fish for BHB and myself.  We finished the meal off with homemade ice cream (LW and Hubby D’s favorite).


Take note of the cute cup.  It was Hubby D's cup when he was LW's age. It is so cute because LW looks just like Dennis the Menace as well.

Will I miss our safari into the bushes to hunt for “baby lizards”?

Will I miss the nightly trips to the school and the routine of getting LW to “jump” into his car seat and buckle up?

Will I miss hearing “Oma, BIG truck!” as we run down the highway?

Will I miss that sweet, cute, lovable, amazing smile when I tell LW that Papa (Hubby D) is waiting at home to play (which happened a few times)?

Will I miss handing my little snack bag back to LW in his car seat and hearing his squeal with delight for cookies?

YOU BET!!!!

More than you could ever possibly imagine.

One thing you can count on is that life goes on and things change.  Children grow up and babies become toddlers who become little people.

And, the joys of grand parenting grow with every change.  I have loved my responsibility but it is time to get this house remodel finished and move on to another challenge of my own.

I cannot believe this is only my second post for 2017.  I apologize but I was busy making sure I created that strong bond with LW.  :-)

Granddaughter ML is visiting and we are playing golf together today.  That is another wonderful and heart warming story.

Cheers,
Brenda






Monday, April 24, 2017

Getting Up to Date

I know, please don’t gripe at me.  It's been a really long time since I blogged!

I am sure you understand. We’ve all done it -- We get caught up in our busy life and procrastinate somewhere.  My “somewhere” is my blog.

When we started the renovation of our newest home and downsized our living space into just the master bedroom, my desk space became only as big as my laptop.  The large monitor I had been using for a few years was stuffed away in a storage closet and I only had a tiny, little, itty bitty, scrunched up space to sit and work on my small laptop computer. It was not very inviting.

And, then there is the renovation.  What was I thinking???? Hubby D asked me if I could handle it and I said, "Sure!" Maybe I am rethinking that decision. . .

What started out with a goal of 6 months is now in the 7th month and I am certain we will not be finished in the next month - maybe 2 if I am lucky.

The exterior of the house was painted Florida Coral.  I could not wait to get a new color on the outside!
Livingroom, dining room, office, bedroom all rolled into one room.
D's desk was looking out over the pool deck. Here they are getting ready to install the granite for the outdoor kitchen.

Leaving Bahrain I had many adjustments, but I never dreamed finding good tradesmen in the States would be so hard.  Apparently (unknown to me – dah!) every painter, electrician and plumber is 100% booked from August through December.  That seems to be the season everyone wants to update and renovate here in Florida.

I was out of luck finding good tradesmen for our interior work until AFTER the first of 2017.

So we decided to start with the outside – repairs, new paint and all new landscaping. Overgrown palm trees had to be literally pulled out of the pool decking and multiple dead palm stumps had to be ground up throughout the yard.  At one time the entire yard must have been a palm tree paradise.

Hubby D grilling on our "$20 WallMart Special" grill. Our outdoor kitchen was not complete until March. Notice the palm tree to the left. It is a pony tail palm and was growing through the top of our screens around the pool.
We had 7 large (very large) palm stumps that had to ground up so I could replace the landscaping.

The hundreds of boxes from our household goods that were stored before we left for the Middle East were delivered and I picked out just a few of pieces of furniture so we could survive – a sofa, some kitchen chairs, a glass table from the old basement, our bed and night stands.

Then everything else (enough to fill a 3 car garage) promptly was put back into storage. (Oops – when was the last time I went over and checked on it??? – better go soon!)



Our shipment from Bahrain arrived and took up residency and filling the garage AGAIN. Now we were overflowing with stuff.  I have a feeling a big garage sale is in my future.  UGH!

As we started the outside painting and landscaping, we also had some concrete work done and LW was enthralled.




In the mean time, Thanksgiving came and went.  We had no dining table so we ate out on the pool deck.

In early December we celebrated Hubby D’s birthday by babysitting LW while BHB and her hubby went to a holiday party in Orlando. It was LW’s first overnight and we loved it.  BHB baked an angel food cake for her dad (fantastic!). LW and I made ice cream.





Hubby D (known as Papa to LW) is reading the "Big Truck" book with LW.  It is so cute because LW LOVES Big Trucks!

Here is a video of LW reading the BIG TRUCK book. If you are reading this in an email, you will need to go to my blog page online to view the video.  http://brendahyde.blogspot.com 



We did make a couple of short trips. We traveled to Amish Country and visited with good friends LW and YW celebrating their son's graduation from high school (in Bahrain).



We also traveled to NYC for a SAME function and visited the new One World Trade Center. Later we traveled to New Orleans for a CMAA conference and had some great meals in the French Quarter. No exotic trips, just RENOVATIONS!


Inside the new train station at the One World Trade Center.

Burbon Street. Same as it always was. . . however I think they have better restaurants than before!
Granddaughter ML came for winter break. Grandson BSJ and father-in-law DM came for the holidays. All we could offer them was a small bed and chair in an empty guest room.  We did not even have holiday decorations. They did not seem to mind. We promised next year would be better.

On Christmas Day and we hosted BHB and her family on folding tables in our dining room.  That was a hoot!
Father-in-Law, DM caught a fish in the lake right off our back door.
We took ML to the "Surfn Santa" festival. There were A LOT of strange Santas and they WERE surfing. We are considering this as an annual event for us.
I was able to bake cookies with ML and BSJ.

I also baked cookies with LW and BHB.

January 3 Hubby D was off on another business trip so ML and DM helped me move our the small bit of furniture BACK out of the house and into the garage so construction could start on the interior on January 9.



From then until just a few days ago we camped out in the master bedroom of the house – we had our bed, two cozy chairs (our living room), a small folding table (our pop-up dining room) and two LOADED folding tables with desk chairs (our office) in a 400 square foot bedroom. There was a make shift kitchen (coffee pot, hot plate, microwave) in our bathroom.

I lived for over 2 years in Bahrain without a garbage disposal, and here again I did not have one.  However, the biggest challenge was washing dishes in the small bathroom sink.

January 25 LW celebrated his second birthday, but the week prior I became extremely ill and I did not get to attend.  Hubby D was there and told me all about it.  However I was very ill and spent almost 3 weeks off my feet. It was a huge setback for me.

Celebrating birthday number 2 at the zoo with the sting rays.
When we were nearing completion of the construction stage in the main part of the house I started the interior design stage. To prepare to decorate, we rolled out some of our rugs (carpets) from our time in the Middle East. It was almost a rug flop. And, it was certainly fun for us and for LW. He started tumbling all over the rugs.


LW loves to help no matter what you are doing.

We have divided the renovation into 4 stages

1- Exterior (done!)
2- Main spaces – foyer, spiral stair case, living room, dining room, guest bedroom and bath, kitchen, family room, laundry room and office AND the outdoor kitchen, pool and pool deck (almost done!)
3- Master bedroom and bath (started 2 weeks ago)
4- Two upstairs guest bedrooms with baths (will start when Master is complete)

Over a recent weekend, we moved our possessions out of the master bedroom and into a much, much smaller bedroom to start demolition of the master bedroom.

So I guess you can say we downsized one more time. LOL

Construction has been consuming my time.  I played a little golf before stage 2 started but after the tradesmen started coming every day at 8AM, my schedule has been to stick around.  Every morning I get up early, check my text messages to make sure no one has canceled (happens) and move the cars out of the driveway so the trucks, trailers and vans can arrive. They all fight over prime placement close to the house.

I know we will enjoy the home when it is complete, but I am tired of workmen coming and going every day, all day. I just cringe every time I see plumbers crack (which is often). I am ready to be past that!

Baby crack is better than plumbers crack!

And, now we have a dumpster in the driveway as well.  That is yucky in my opinion.  I can’t wait for it to go away!

          Just a few of the problems along the way:
New doors too short for the space
Countertop cut too long
Electrical outlets that had to be moved
Electrical outlets (many) put in the wrong place
Drain installed but not unplugged when icemaker installed (It flooded at 3AM one morning.)
Pedestal sink not same color as toilet (same manufacturer, wrong color)
Paint the wrong color
Instructions not passed along to workers from their boss (fired that company after it happened 3 times)
Wrought iron not painted correctly
Whole house audio system not working correctly
Grout not right
Mounted 75 inch TV crooked
Delays, delays, delays
Dishwasher not level because of tile floor
Scratches on stove hood from HVAC workers
Scratches on outdoor grill from installers
Pool forms not working right
Not enough tile ordered (not my fault!)

In the scope of life, not big problems.  As my friend DW would say, definitely first World problems.

I have been blessed and have a great life. Our home will be beautiful after it is all complete.

Here are a few of my favorite picture memories for the past few months while I have been having fun with LW (along with managing the construction). I hope granddaughter ML and grandsons BSJ and MB will forgive me for all the photos of LW but I am trying to savor all the "Grandma with a baby" moments I can. He is the last and I want to experience it all. (Big thanks to Hubby D for letting us live in Florida and close to BHB. xoxo)

Sharing a splash in the water running down the driveway.
Helping Oma (me) unpack.
LW at Papa's "desk."
Riding on Uncle BB's old hot wheel when we unpacked it - he loved this bike so we kept it for him to play with. Uncle BB will turn 39 this April 30. WOW! The makes me feel old. 
Helping clean up after hauling some plants for the yard.
He loves to play around with my glasses.  I had to find just one pair for him so he would not tear them all up bending them.
LW found one of his mom's old hats while helping me unpack and had fun wearing it.
On Good Friday Hubby D took the afternoon off and we went to the beach with LW.


Someday I will have plenty of time to blog my heart out.  The only question is will I have anything of interest to say?

Cheers,
Brenda


This is the view over the lake looking back towards our new home (in the far distance) at sunrise. I captured this image early one morning after returning from taking Hubby D to the airport in Orlando. Enjoy!


Monday, October 24, 2016

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

A good friend of mine sent me a link to this wonderful blog when I first started planning my move to Bahrain. The author is a mom who has lived in 7 countries in the last 17 years. She is also a great writer. I have been following her adventure ever since.

As October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month winds down she posted this blog and I think it is a wonderful reminder for all of us ladies to take care of our selves.  When was your last mammogram?

She has a great story about knowing where Ikea is located in every country and also knowing where to get a good mammogram.  

Yes, I can tell you exactly where the closest Ikea is from Manama, Bahrain. It is in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia. 

Unfortunately, I do not know where the best mammogram is.  Do you?

Please pass this on!

Cheers, 
Brenda




A Buttered Bum
Posted: 22 Oct 2016 11:43 PM PDT
*I gave a talk yesterday at a Breast Cancer Awareness function in Doha. There were some great speakers from Hamad and the Cancer Centre – lots of great info and a great event to show women in Qatar that they are in good hands. I really want to say thank you to the American Women’s Association. Those love heart cushions and drain bags are so incredibly useful after surgery. We love useful.  Here’s my speech from the event (that I completely messed up after I lost my place)* 
 
My girlfriend Erika has a phrase that I love, it’s one she uses for someone who always manages to land on their feet. Someone who appears to live in a constant state of good luck. You may have heard it, she’ll say:
“She/he always lands with her bum in the butter” this comes after she hears of the latest good fortune.

I’m not sure why having your bum in butter is a state to be envied – but I completely understand the context.

I’m pretty sure if you were to ask my parents and childhood friends they’d tell you that my bum has always appeared to be perfectly buttered.
Until last year.

My good fortune in life has meant I grew up with two loving parents in a very comfortable middle class Australian home. My sister and I had our grandparents living next door, and a swag of uncles and aunts to turn to for advice or help. I was physically able, heavily involved in sports and had enough talent to sing a song in a school play or dance in a chorus if required. Don’t get me wrong, I was not a star but any stretch of the imagination, but I had something that I didn’t realize was a gift until years later when I had my own children. I had the confidence to attempt anything. I was always happy to try. The biggest problem my parents had with me was that I wanted to do everything, every sport, every activity, every event.

When it came to luck, I had it handed to me in large doses. I put absolutely no effort into school but still managed to just scrape by. Once again, don’t get me wrong, I was not a star – but I always knew things were going to work out. I wasn’t nervous about what would happen next. When you’re someone who as my friend Erika would say “always lands with her bum in the butter” you’re never too worried about what will happen next – because you’re always fairly confident that it will all be okay.

Me and my well buttered bum had a lot of fun in our twenties. I stumbled across a career that I loved, one I of course fell into because of mutual friends. And when it came to finding the right man? Where did I find him? Well, he arrived at my  front door of course! Hand delivered by a girlfriend. Kirsty, meet Greg. See? Bum in the butter.

We dated for a few weeks and were married within a few months. ‘How can you be so sure? Aren’t you worried’ people asked. I just knew. Like a girl who always lands with her bum in the butter does. He was perfect, I adored him, he adored me. Of course it would be fine.

Like most married couples we’ve had our every day ups and downs. Through mortgages,  moves, and the complete madness of having four children under the age of six. Our adventure has meant that we’ve lived in 7 countries over the past 17 years. I appeared to share my butter with my husband. Four healthy children, constant employment, many giggles, and friends from all over the world.

So, having told you all of this, you can understand the confusion on my face when the doctor walked into the room to tell me that they’d noticed something “sinister” on my ultrasound.

Fourteen months ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

And for a girl with a buttered bum, this was highly inconvenient news.

My instant reaction was to thank the lovely doctor and radiologists for letting me know, and to  explain politely that I now had to head off to lunch with a girlfriend and then fly back to Doha with my children because, you know, school starts on Monday!

To say I had no concept of what was about to unfold in our lives, would be an understatement.

Last year I watched a YouTube clip of a breast cancer talk in the Middle East, I can’t remember if it was Abu Dhabi or Dubai – but I’ll go and find it and post it on my Facebook page. The one thing about the breast cancer talk that I clearly remember, was when the presenter, a woman in a headscarf, asked the crowd of women if they knew how to get to the closest IKEA. I think 90% of the crowd raised its hand. She then asked for a show of hands on how many people knew where to go for a trustworthy and reliable mammogram? About 10% of the room raised its hand.

I could drive you to IKEA in 7 different countries, but I only knew how to get a mammogram in Australia. Thankfully, and maybe because I always land with my bum in the butter (depending on how you look at things) I was in the right place at the right time. I had my mammogram and following ultrasound when my tumor was about 9mm big. I found it early, I got to it before it made its way into my lymph nodes. These are all good things, and all reasons why you need to make yourself get checked regularly.

Here’s what I didn’t know about breast cancer before last year.

There are so many different types. My breast cancer is probably completely different to the breast cancer of your aunt, sister, friend or mother. Therefore my treatment is completely different. While my breast cancer is triple negative which means there are no drugs I can have after chemotherapy or radiation, my girlfriend’s breast cancer is hormonal which means she will take drugs for the next ten years to protect herself. My breast cancer is highly aggressive and has the highest return rate within five years, bizarrely though, if I can get through the next five years my success rate is higher than other breast cancers. What does this mean?

It means we’re having a really big party in about five years time.

This time last year I had my first round of chemotherapy. I did this in Doha with the help of amazing friends, and with my children and husband around me. I went though the experience that most of us see in the movies. My hair fell out, my face took on an appearance of steroids, and I had some of the usual side effect: tingly fingers and sore feet, nausea, weight gain, yes gain! So unfair.

But here are a few of the other side effects.  I began a new job and acquired a whole lot of new skills. I bought a block of land with my husband and began planning our dream home. I gained an insight into the world of health care and those who are trapped in the cancer cycle. I met women whose cancer had metastasized, which means it had spread to other parts of their bodies and would never go away. “When do you finish chemo?” I naively asked someone one day. “When I die” she answered. 

These are the women we need to think about – and why I struggle so much with the pretty in pink. It’s not fun runs and girl’s night out for everyone.

Landing with your bum in the butter is all about perception. We may perceive that someone has been lucky in getting a certain job, or a house, or a partner. They are a moments in time. None of us know what’s around the corner, whether it’s fabulous or not, and while people like myself will always assume it will end fabulously – we really don’t know.

The only thing we can do is check in now and then to see how things are tracking. Find out where you can have a trustworthy and reliable mammogram, get a second opinion, ask for an ultrasound. Follow your instinct.

And here’s to years and years more of buttered bums.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Sizing Down, Down and Down Again

When we decided to go to the Middle East, I had to consolidate and get rid of many of our possessions (and junk).  I was eventually forced to hire a company to bring a full size dump truck to our home to haul away the junk and things that could be recycled. I completely filled our garage with junk.

After I was done with all of that I felt like I had downsized very nicely. We left our 6,000 square foot home in Virginia to move to Bahrain taking only about 50 boxes with us.



The rest of our household goods and furniture went into storage in a facility in Delaware.


Even after I "downsized" in our big house, se still had a large amount of stuff.

In Bahrain we had a 3,000 square foot flat.

This is a picture of our boxes getting ready to come back to the US. I can't find my good photo files from Bahrain. I think the photo drive is still on that slow boat from Bahrain that has not arrived in the US yet.  They think (remember they are coming from Bahrain so this is just a suggestion) they might arrive in September.
This is taken in our Bahrain living room.
The Bahrain flat did have some spectacular sunrises.

We downsized from Virginia by 50%.

When we left Bahrain we shipped back 78 boxes. This was a few more than we took because of the wonderful carpets and art I collected there.  Today those boxes are in route to us and I believe they are still on a boat. Pretty soon they will arrive in Miami.

 However I keep telling myself these are coming from Bahrain so don't count on them arriving until they arrive.

In late June when we arrived back in the States from Bahrain we moved into one of our rental properties in Florida that is furnished. We brought with us only what we could carry in 6 suite cases.

The condo we are in has 1,100 square feet. 




The condo is small, but it has a nice view for sunsets.

We downsized from Bahrain by 60%.

TODAY we will be moving out of the condo into a great house built in 1992 that we are going to COMPLETELY remodel inside and outside. It could take up to 6 months so we will be living in one of the guest bedrooms with an attached bathroom and we will have only 400 square feet.


Another downsize of 54%.

Whewwww!

For those of you who have downsized, you understand.  For anyone who has not downsized, it is a great feeling to reduce your footprint.  You feel liberated.

This will be a short-lived freedom.

Our TWO moving vans filled with possessions from Virginia will be delivered to the new house in just a few days.  I am not at all sure what I will do with all of those things while we complete our remodel work. This will definitely be a challenge.

Our 78 boxes from Bahrain should be delivered sometime, maybe in September. REALLY? I certainly do not know what I will do with all that stuff.

I guess I better start searching for a good consignment store.  LOL

It really is a first world problem and you won’t hear me complain (much).

Cheers,
Brenda