Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Coffee To Chaos

For the past couple of years my hubby has been becoming a gardener.

It's not the type of thing one becomes overnight.

It takes work and lots, and lots, and lots of reading. Not to mention the fact that he's doing organic gardening which takes more time and more reading.

It's worth it in the long run to know that we are not poisoning our kids with pesticides and we are being environmentally responsible with any runoff that might come from our property.

I help when I can but my cake business keeps me pretty much married to the kitchen during the week and I work a part-time job on the weekends.

Given how busy my schedule is I'm rarely able to get out by myself for any length of time. Meeting a friend for coffee is such a treat that I can't really describe the enjoyment I get from it.

Last week I arranged to meet a girlfriend of mine in the evening at Starbucks for a much, much needed break. We were there barely 30 minutes when hubby started blowing up my phone with panicked messages about the corn going bad. I joked about having a big party over the weekend and he informed me that the corn wouldn't last that long.

Evidently, the bugs had gotten to it.

Bugs are an organic gardeners nemesis. We don't use the high powered deadly pesticides that others use and therefore our 'crops' are more susceptible to infestation.

So...there I sat at Starbucks, desperately trying to enjoy my caramel Frappuccino, researching methods for freezing corn while not ignoring a friend that I haven't seen in six weeks.

Fortunately, the information isn't in-depth because the panicked text messages kept coming and it was nearly impossible to hold a conversation or concentrate on what I was trying to read.

We agreed that my assistance was needed at home so I hugged my BFF and headed home to calm the hubby and get to work.

The good news is that it looked pretty simple. There are basically 9 steps and most are not difficult.

1. Pick
2. Husk
3. Clean
4. Blanche
5. Cool
6. Dry
7. Remove from the cob
8. Bag
9. Freeze

Easy? Yes.

Messy? Very.

I returned home to a wheelbarrow full of corn and a totally freaked out hubby desperate to save all of his hard work from this summer.

I showed him what I had found and got him to settle down and relax we got to work on the, more than, 6 dozen ears of corn that needed to be saved.

We make a great team!

He husked, I scrubbed, blanched and cooled the cobs in an ice bath. After they were cool hubby did the drying, cutting and bagging.

After hubby husked the corn I scrubbed that silks from the cobs and put the pots of water on the stove to blanche the corn.





Once the water was ready I put four ears in the pot and removed them after the water returned to a boil.



The ears were then put in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and then inspected for silks that I missed when cleaning and moved to a towel to dry before cutting.



After they were dry hubby hubby cut the corn from the ears and we bagged it for the freezer. We kept the best looking ones to freeze on the cob so we could enjoy a little summer during the winter months.


Once the corn was bagged, it was submerged in water to squeeze all of the air out before the bags were sealed. This will prevent ice crystals from forming around the corn which would give it freezer burn. Contrary to popular belief it is not "protective ice." 


The end result is a freezer full of delicious sweet corn that we can enjoy once the weather gets cold. 

Hopefully this week, I'll be able to go back for coffee with my girlfriend. Maybe this time I'll be able to finish a sentence! 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Bloglovin'

I'm listing my blog on Bloglovin'

Pretty cool service that lists all of the blogs that I follow and recommends others based on the one's I've chosen.

Check it out.

www.bloglovin.com

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I Want It All...Just Not Right Now

Two and a half is an amazing age!

The rate that our boys learn is astounding. 

Their verbal skills leave our mouths hanging open on a daily basis and their memories are incredible! 

Days fly by in a blur and no matter what I do I never have enough time. 

This was much worse when I had a full time cake assistant. 

Since I started the cake business, I've dreamt of becoming a household name and having a booming cake business. I wanted to have this amazing reputation and be sought after for every major event that could be enhanced with a specialty cake.

I did it! 

With Ismael's help we were completing eight orders a week that consisted of anything from 19 dozen cupcakes and multiple tiered cakes with oodles of flowers to carved cakes made to look like cartoon characters or trucks. 

I attended networking events as often as I could. Invested in being the sponsor at the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce monthly Network at Noon Luncheon and provided cupcakes and cake pops for the WSFS Bank After Hours Business Card Exchange and the Hotties for Humanities fundraising nights. We were booming! 

My dream had come true!

Woohoo!!! 

I was miserable...

I was paying my assistant to make cakes, I was paying a teenager to watch my kids, I was working 2-3 times harder than ever and I making less. 

My kids couldn't understand why I wasn't available. The house was always a mess, I was cranky and sleep deprived and my hubby was taking the brunt of my lousy attitude.

It was obvious to everyone that I had overdone it, and despite my very big mouth, bitten off more than I could chew. So I decided to go back to what I was doing before: 2-3 orders a week and more time for the family. 

I'd like to say that my house is spotless, it is not. But the laundry is finished and put away. The kitchen is clean and the beds have been made.

More importantly, my family is happy.




I'm no longer cranky all the time and, despite being an insomniac, have actually gotten some rest.

The orders are still coming in just not as fast, and that's ok.

I am a little bummed about the timing of all of this. But at the same time, this is the second time I've slowed things down and the business is still coming in.

The good news is that I didn't fail! I quit my full-time marketing position to invest in my cake business and it was and is still succeeding it was just growing faster than I could keep up with right now.

I love to be the supermom who can do it all: full-time domestic engineer who oversees the family finances while raising twin boys and running a cake business.

I want it all!

But, sometimes I want to sleep too. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Withdrawal from the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk

Since my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and has undergone surgery, chemo and radiation my breast cancer awareness has been heightened.

I, like most people, wasn't overly worried about the breast cancer issue until it hit a loved one. So, when a friend contacted me to say that she would be walking again this year and wanted me to join her I decided that I would.

I emailed my friends and requested donations, began taking frequent walks and even got the treadmill hooked up in the basement to train for the walk. 

I have the best friends in the world! Almost overnight I raised close to $1000 and within a couple of weeks was up to 4.5 miles on a daily trek.

To be honest, I did know that SGK donated to Planned Parenthood but I've had many friends who have used PP, not for abortions but for general gynecological services. For this reason and because of my desire to do something to help with breast cancer research I was willing to move past my concerns and do The Walk.


Then the Planned Parenthood videos came out.

I began thinking about The Walk and where the money would go and I knew that I would have to withdraw.


As a woman who has struggled with fertility I cannot fathom the idea of killing a child because it was perceived as a mistake. There is a lot of crap out there about a woman's "right" to kill her child, also referred to as "a woman's choice." How about making the choice to not have sex or to use birth control rather than having an abortion as a form of birth control? A little responsibility up front would be nice to see, but I digress.

Abortion is by no means a black and white issue. While I believe that killing a child is wrong, I do understand that in cases of rape, incest and a true medical threat to a mother there may be few alternatives. My heart goes out to those ladies as it can't be an easy decision. However, to use abortion as a means of birth control is wrong and for an organization to profit from the sale of the aborted babies makes me want to puke.

Since being outed Planned Parenthood has been less than contrite. Their way of dealing with it was to take The Center For Medical Progress to court to block the release of additional videos, not to apologize for committing an illegal act.

It's bad enough that they are considered to be an abortion factory, with 149 abortions being performed to every 21 adoption referrals (see Lies, Corruption and Scandal), but to be a willing participant in the trafficking of aborted baby parts is abhorrent.

Since there are "8,735 licensed mammography facilities in America and Planned Parenthood operates exactly zero," (The Federalist) I see no need for Susan G. Komen to provide Planned Parenthood with one penny never mind millions of dollars.

For the Susan G. Komen Foundation to know about Planned Parenthood's illegal organ trafficking and not sever ties makes them as guilty as a man who watches a rape and does nothing to stop the rapists.

For me to participate in an event that will raise money to eventually end up in the hands of people who kill babies and then sell their body parts for profit goes against almost everything I believe in.

For that reason I have withdrawn my registration, contacted all of my donors to let them know what I have done and why, and have sent them the contact information of the person responsible for refunding their money should they wish to do so.

I have no doubt that I will sleep much better tonight. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Big Boy Beds

For about two months now the Stuntman has been climbing out of his crib. He is a very accomplished climber and not one I really worried about. The Engineer weighs nearly seven pounds more and is not as agile. While he would climb in and out he was much more hesitant and I just knew that trouble was around the corner if we didn't do something soon.

I ordered the toddler conversion kits for the cribs.

I got the wrong ones.

I returned them, got the credit and discovered that despite being only three years old, our cribs had been discontinued and the toddler conversions were no longer available.

Ugh...Great!

So after doing lots and lots of research and reading parental reviews I found double sided twin bed safety rails.

On the day they arrived David AKA Stuntman repeatedly asked, "Are you going to open the boxes? Do you need scissors?" My response, we'll open them when daddy gets home was received with, "Oh."

Hubby was home for maybe five minutes when David started in about opening the boxes and hubby looked at me with a very confused look on his face. I explained that the bed rails had arrived and that I'd been telling the kids all day that we had to wait for daddy.

So...After dinner we ventured upstairs to dismantle the cribs, move the twin beds from the guest room to the boys' room and install the rails.

The boys were insane! The excitement was hysterical and they even did the wide-eyed "Oooooo!" when the boxes were opened.

As hubby was removing the final screw from the cribs I asked if he wanted to move the dressers first. I awaited his response, which never came, so David took matters into his own hands.

Picture this...

Hubby is kneeling on the floor unscrewing the final part of the crib and David walked over to him, bent down, put his hands on his knees, tilted his head and yelled,"SHOULD WE MOVE THE DRESSERS FIRST!"

Do you think hubby needs to wear his hearing aids a little more often?

Nah...Me neither.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Pile of Rocks

My hubby has become obsessed with baking bread because of a pile of free rocks.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Go ahead, read it again, I'll wait :)

Now let me explain...

Late last fall a stone building located near his office was knocked down and a sign that said "Free" was posted on the rubble.

Hubby began bringing home the rocks with the intention of using them for landscaping purposes. Before long he had amassed a large pile of rocks in the backyard and had decided that he needed to do some research.

Hubby is accomplished on all of the trades, save for one: Masonry.

So he set out on the information highway called the internet and in addition to researching outdoor patios and fireplaces he found information on summer kitchens and outdoor bread ovens. Knowing nothing about bread or baking (or the kitchen) in general he decided that in order to properly build an oven he needed to know how to bake bread.

I thought he was kidding. I mean really, bread? Some of the most accomplished cooks I know don't make bread. It's time consuming and difficult and can result in something akin to a baked rock if done wrong.

It's taken me seven years to get him to understand that you bake bread but cook dinner and now he's just going to jump into baking bread?!

My mother-in-law is a fabulous cook and has never attempted bread. Some people just know better.

I guess the good thing about having little, to no, kitchen experience is that hubby didn't know enough to be afraid.

Hubby doesn't read for entertainment, he reads to learn something.

He can do this for hours if uninterrupted and can be so involved in his reading that the boys can be screaming around him and he is oblivious.

I am not criticizing, I am jealous, but I digress...

He read and read until he felt confident enough to make his first attempt at making bread but as we all know reading and doing are entirely different things.

I brought home pizza sauce and cheese...The whole rising thing didn't go as planned and his first attempt ended up making really good pizza dough.

He tried again and we got a loaf of something that was a mistake but very delicious. Another loaf of something that could be used for sandwiches and a third loaf that he added blueberries and walnuts to that was out of this world!

Having had some success he opted for some Amish Friendship bread as a starter. This is the stuff that you add things too over time and then divide it up to give to people you hate to make them add stuff to it for a week and then they can make bread.

This was good but the breads that come from using this starter are all sweet bread like banana, pumpkin, etc.

Hubby was still reading.

He discovered sourdough.

Sourdough starter is a massive undertaking that requires "feedings" twice daily for a week before it is ready to be used. Before feeding one has to dump half of the starter into the trash, add the and flour and then cover until the next feeding when the process is repeated.

You do this for a week.

It smells like beer but the bread tastes like heaven.

When the starter is really active it gives off a gas that blew the lid off the container while we were coloring Easter eggs and scared the daylights out of the entire family.

One day he called first thing in the morning to tell me that he'd forgotten to do the morning feeding and when I reached up to grab the container the lid was gone. Evidently the gas had blown the lid off sometime during the night and it took two days to find the lid!

Hubby has become obsessed and smells the starter multiple times a night...yeah I thought that was weird too.

The sourdough starter can be used for pancakes, conventional sourdough, regular bread and pretzels.

Yes, pretzels!

His first attempt at pretzels was so good that I can't wait for the next batch! Auntie Anne's has nothing on this hubby. Those pretzels were out of this world!!!

We have a great relationship with the Amish family that lives behind us. We frequently drop off treats for each other's families. He dropped off pretzels as a thank you for the pumpkin pie they gave to us.

The wife was so impressed that she came over just to tell us how much they all enjoyed them and that she was impressed with the flavor!

Huge props as that woman can cook like there is no tomorrow!

His obsession has progressed to making 100% organic bread. He is very proud of the fact that we are no longer buying bread from the store and that we now have a freezer full of bread that we can use for any number of things.

It's been fun to watch him evolve into a bread man. The man who could only cook eggs, fish and steak is now making some of the best and most difficult bread on the face of the earth and I couldn't be more proud.

Breadcrumbs

I went to logon today and Blogger informed me that my last post was on January 28, 2015. Really? Where have February, March and now April gone.

Life is a blur!

Just before Christmas my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. In fact, it was four years to the day that we had the memorial service for my dad that mom was told that she was now a cancer patient.

She called me right away.

It was not the news we were expecting but given what it was it could have been worse.

Surgery was inevitable as was chemo. What type of chemo was where the big questions were and after two consultations with different oncologists she chose to do the one that was four treatments vs six.

We call it "chemo light."

There have been ups and downs and now that she is headed into the final treatment we are all breathing a hesitant sigh of relief and we begin to plan for the future.

Interestingly, when a family member is undergoing a treatment that takes place every three weeks, life begins to exist in three week chunks and before you know it, time has flown by at an amazing rate!

Lump that in with a home based cake business, part-time weekend job, twin two-year-olds and being a wife and mommy and there are never enough hours in the day and the house is always a mess.

I was never the type to keep a spotless house but I was never this bad before!

As much as I love my weekend job, I really miss weekends with my family.

My not being home to cook dinner has become a stressor between hubby and me and a constant issue that is best solved by my calling Dominos Pizza or bringing home Chinese.

After many evenings of arriving home to cranky kids and a stressed out hubby at 6:45 I finally told him that he really needs to figure out the whole making dinner thing so that we're not eating at 7:30 or 8 o'clock when I've finished making dinner.

In truth, it pissed me off to work all day and then have to make dinner when I arrive.

One weekend, in an attempt to ease this stress, I made a pan of pasta stuff (it's like lasagna only easier to make) and all he had to do was heat it up in the oven...which he did not do.

Argh!!!

I finally informed him that his inability to cook dinner was getting under my skin and it wasn't fair to the kids to make them wait so long to eat dinner either. We discussed the things that he could do that fell under his "I don't cook" limitations and I thought we had it settled.

I had another thought coming.

One night on my way home from work my phone chimed with a "what should I do for dinner?" message.

Sigh...

I replied (via voice to text) that there was chicken thawed in the refrigerator and he could put bread crumbs on it and put it in the oven or do it on the stove.

"How do I get the breadcrumbs on the chicken?" was his response.

Lord help us all!

A few weeks later on my way to work I received a text from hubby asking if he was supposed to peel kiwi fruit. I replied (again using the voice to text function on my phone) "Yes." He then asked if it was bad if you didn't to which I replied that it "was inedible." (I mean really, have you looked at it? It's liked eating velcro!)

Anyway, he asked me in what way it was it inedible at which point I lost it and was yelling at Siri to send a text message telling hubby to find a flipping knife! He sniped back that one of the boys had eaten it and wanted to know if they would be ok.

Oy vey...

Yes they will be fine but he might want to state that little tidbit first! He said I should have just answered the simple question and I replied telling him that he was right but that he was the man who asked "How do I put the breadcrumbs on the chicken?"

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Language Unto Itself

Four and a half years ago, mom, siblings, niece and nephews, cousins and an aunt and uncle accompanied my dad to the hospital to have his cancerous bladder removed. The doctor never got the chance. The cancer had grown so fast that it had breeched the bladder wall and invaded his abdomen.

He was opened and closed.

When the doctor arrived in the waiting area 45 minutes into what was supposed to be a 4-6 hour surgery I look at him and said, "Oh shit! This can't be good."

After my dad regained consciousness in the recovery room my mom and siblings stood at his side as the surgeon delivered the death sentence.

It was one of the worst moments of my life.

Prior to that surgery date, my mom and I has taken dad to meet with an Oncologist in Baltimore and I remember sitting in that little exam room listening to the doctor tell my dad what types of chemicals they were going to pump into him.

I took copious notes and studied up on all of the lingo associated with chemo.

We could never get him strong enough to endure the chemo. He opted to just have the surgery but even that was not an option.

He died less than two months after that Oncology appointment.

Cancer: 1 My family: 0

Two weeks ago, my siblings and I accompanied my mother to the hospital outpatient wing to have a lumpectomy that would remove the breast cancer that had invaded her body.

After my mom was taken into the prep area and well, prepped, my siblings and I were escorted back to stay with her until the took her into surgery.

As I entered the pre-op area I had a flashback of the recovery area we walked into four years ago. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and telling myself, "Not the same, not the same."

She came through surgery with flying colors and, despite arguing with me about almost everything, had recuperated very well.

Tie score!

Today we sat in an exam room in the same complex where we had taken my dad in Baltimore and listened to another doctor describe the toxins they were going to pump into my mother.

Oncology is a language unto itself.

One I had hoped to never have to learn...again!

There are two standard types of chemo that would work for my mom based on her hormone receptors and her HER2...still not entirely clear on that but it has something to do with proteins...and how they attack the ducts and breast tissue.

There is no such thing as good chemo but one protocol is a little tougher to tolerate than the other. We were referring to the second as chemo "light." Not that it's really any 'lighter' but it's four treatments over 12 weeks as opposed to eight treatments over 16 weeks.

There are other things that we've learned, one of which is that nearly 80% of all cancer patients are cured by surgery but there is no way to determine the difference between the 80 and the 20 and chemo is recommended to keep any rogue cancer cells from migrating and taking root in another part of the body. In other words, clear margins don't necessarily mean that there is no more cancer.

Another is that there are no two cancer patients that are the same. Cancer is a mutation and those mutations differ from one patient to another.

Chemo is really an insurance policy against one of those mutations implanting itself into another of my mom's organs. But...there are no guarantees.

The difference between my mom's cancer and the cancer that took my dad couldn't be greater but I constantly have to check myself to keep from going to the "worst case scenario" and "what if" crap that my brain likes to toy with.

Staying positive can be extremely difficult but I have to repeat the, "Not the same, not the same" mantra that I said over and over again in the hospital two weeks ago.

I have never been a terribly religious person. I consider myself to be a Christian as I believe in Jesus but I tend to venture more toward the spiritual side of worship and prayer. I talk to God every day and also find that prayer has a way of calming me down and focusing on the things that are important.

What is important is to concentrate on the here and now and give thanks for what we have.

We are blessed that she caught this so early that it's curable.

This too shall pass and before we know it we'll be sitting poolside soaking up the Vitamin D.

In the meantime, we'll take our supplements and pray for the chemo to be as gentle as possible on her system with the exception of making her cigarettes taste so gross that she comes out of this a non-smoker.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Powder Room

I bought two training potties quite a while ago. Initially both boys were interested but the novelty quickly wore out for the kids.

Or I was waaaaay too lenient with the positive reinforcement jelly beans.

Anyway...I originally began the potty training with them sitting down and purposely chose potty seats with tall splash guards. Then hubby changed course on me, "Because its more manly to have them pee standing up."

While this is a little more fun for the boys, it's entirely too much work for me and I put my foot down.

They sit.

There is plenty of time for them to be manly and stand to pee. We'll get there when their willies are over the top of the bowl.

In the meantime, we all struggle with the twin thing of trying to get two kids on the potties at the same time.

The Stuntman prefers the training potty on the floor but the Engineer prefers to sit on the big toilet with the insert because he has unlimited access to the flush handle.

Hubby and I have learned that the first release is not the full voiding of the bladder and they need to be encouraged to sit, relax and let it go.

This lesson was hardest learned by hubby who had brought the Stuntman into the powder room to pee. After the initial pee pee hubby prematurely removed the Stuntman from the potty set him on the floor where he proceeded to empty the rest of his bladder. At that very moment the Engineer exclaiming, "Pee pee!" stepped across the threshold and pushed hubby, in his stocking feet, into the puddle and closed the door behind him!

The powder room is a total of five and a half feet long and only 35 inches wide.

Hubby was now trapped in a puddle of urine (at least it was warm) with two two-year-olds one of whom is without pants and a diaper and the other wants to pee on the potty.

He'd reached overload!

What did hubby do? Scream for me.

What did I do? Laugh.

For some reason, he did not find this to be anywhere near as humorous as I did.

Anyway...he was in complete panic mode and practically stuttering when I came to his rescue. I joked that I do this all day long and don't see what the problem is. He replied that he can handle the peeing part it's the "multiple thing" that he has trouble with.

I guffawed!

Once I could finally breathe again I reminded him that we've been doing this for two years now so he might want to hurry up and figure it out.

Pooping on the potty has not been anywhere near as successful.

In fact it's happened only once with one of the boys and only because he had the runs and the timing was perfect. The problem occurred when the other one wanted to pee because the first one was on the toilet.

I was already in the powder room sitting on a tiny little stool across from the toilet in front of the sink when the Stuntman, not to be left out, pushed his way into the room yelling, "Pee too! Pee too!" and closed the door.

I was trapped!

Picture the scene here...

The Engineer was sitting on a Cars toilet seat insert that has handles on the side that when pushed make race car sounds. The Stuntman is sitting on the training potty next to me on the floor. Remember the room is just over five feet long and is only 35 inches wide.

Just about the same time I have the thought, "If he pees and his willy's not behind the shield I'm..." AAAACK!

He's peeeeeing......ON ME!!!

I put my hand up to block the stream which deflected onto the Stuntman. Both of the boys started to laugh and we were all in a fit of giggles when I whipped the door open and called to hubby. His response was that he could hear what was happening and I told him that he really needed to see the seating arrangement to truly appreciate it.

Getting peed on by the kids is nothing new. We went through the first six months of their lives in a defensive posture while changing diapers.

You just never knew when one was going to let loose.

It's been quite a while since I've had to be on my toes to keep from getting peed on.

I've yet to get either of them to poop on the potty again so I have no doubt that this will not be the end of the potty training stories. I am however, letting them control the pace that they are potty trained. I've read and heard more nightmare stories about people who pushed their kids and had accident after accident not to mention the stress for everyone.

It will happen in their time no matter what I do anyway.

That being said, I have learned my lesson.

I sit in the doorway when they are on the potties...safely out of the line of fire.





Wednesday, December 3, 2014

His Passion

Four years ago this morning I kissed my father goodbye for the last time.

He had been diagnosed with bladder cancer in September and took his final breath on December 3, 2010.

The world has not been the same since.

We all know that our parents are supposed to die before us. In fact, anytime someone loses a child the saying is, "You're not supposed to bury your children." It's a natural order of things to let the parents go first.

That being said, it doesn't make the loss any easier.

Dad was one of the healthiest guys I've ever known. He quit smoking in the '70s, rarely drank to excess, ate well and was not the least bit overweight. What he did suffer from was a genetic predisposition to cancer. Men in our family all get prostate cancer. Dad did but beat it with radioactive seeding. According to the oncologist, it probably wasn't even necessary but dad said that he didn't like living each day with the knowledge that he had cancer in him.

In the end it didn't matter.

Some people just draw a short straw the day they were conceived.  You can't argue with DNA.

After his biopsy confirmed the bladder cancer in September. He was scheduled for surgery in October to have his bladder removed and was trained on how to empty the "bag" that he would be wearing for the rest of his life.

Surgery came and went...the doctor opened him and closed him back up.

In the couple of weeks from the biopsy to surgery, the cancer had grown at lightning speed, breeching the bladder walls and taking over the lower part of his abdomen. There was nothing more that could be done.

He opted for palliative radiation in hopes that it would buy him a little more time but even that wouldn't do much to extend his life or the quality of what he had left.

The family and our friends rallied. We did everything we could to make what time he had left as good as it could be. From coordinating volunteer drivers to radiation and taking dad for his last sail.

Dad, who was a Quaker, turned to his friends and our pastor for spiritual guidance. His belief in God was deep but something he didn't force on others. Over the years we'd had some great conversations about God and spirituality and prior to passing he confided in me that he was concerned about the afterlife as he, "hadn't always been nice to people."

That was the most amazing thing about him.

Even as he lay in bed slowly surrendering to the cancer, his concern was not just about himself but about anyone he might have wronged.

I told him that I highly doubted that if God was willing to forgive those who had done something as heinous as murder, that He would be more than willing to forgive a man who would have yelled at someone because his passion ran high!

Dad was a passionate guy.

If he really believed in something you'd be best to just get out of his way or better yet give him a hand because he's going to draft you to help him anyway. He was instrumental in rescuing a yacht club from near bankruptcy. By the time he stepped down as Commodore the club was in the black, had expanded to put in an in-ground pool, started a sailing school and was holding regular regattas. Mom worked at his side and the club became the family annex. If you came to visit you could pretty much count on working.

Dad's passion easily translated to enthusiasm and you couldn't help but get involved. If you didn't believe in what he was doing he'd be the first to point out that you were wrong and he was known for having a temper and voice to go with it.

One of our friends loved the fact that he could get into a very spirited debate with my dad and when it was over, belly up to the bar and have a beer together. He was not a grudge holder.

He had a great sense of humor but a horrible memory. I could tell him the same joke every year and he'd laugh as if it were the first time he'd heard it.

I loved his laugh.

While he could be a really serious guy at times, he didn't take himself seriously.

Over the years we'd teased him about looking like Inspector Clouseau from the Pink Panther movies and referring to him as Chuckles. One Thanksgiving his sisters teased about attempting a comb-over because he hadn't had time to get his hair cut before the holidays.

He took all of it in stride and would even laugh with us (but did get his hair cut the next day.)

I think that's the thing I miss most...his laugh.

While my boys can look at his picture and know who he is, they will never know his laugh. He would have loved to play with them and I would have loved to have heard him laugh at their antics.

There is not a day that goes by that I do not miss him and I'm not alone. His impact on those around him was astounding! Which is both a blessing and a curse.

While we were all enriched by his presence but we all suffered when he passed. Fortunately, we were left with lots of great memories and stories to share.

While he is no longer here to laugh with us, I take solace in the fact that to this day I can still hear his laughter which makes me smile and warms my heart.