Today my step-son Joe turns 26!  I literally cannot believe it.  He was 10 when I met him (okay – almost 11!) and he was this cute little chubby kid who I think at the time wondered who the hell I was coming into him and his Dad’s life.  Mind you, Tony and his ex-wife had already been separated/divorced for seven years, but it had to be hard to see his Dad with someone else – not that Tony didn’t date around, because he did.  It’s just that Joe never saw that part very much. 

Although I do remember Tony telling me about this woman Cindy that he dated.  Joe HATED this woman because all she wanted Joe around for was to get shit for her – like all weekend long.  “Joe, go put my coat away.”  “Joe, go get me a pop.”  “Joe, go turn the t.v. station on for whatever her kids name was.”   

But quickly Joe and I formed a really good relationship.  He knew I loved his Dad and I guess that was enough for him at the time to feel comfortable with me.  His Mom wasn’t a very good cook, and I remember the first time he and I cooked together I asked him what he wanted to make and he said “chocolate chip cookies!”  So I went to reach for the flour, sugar, etc. and he went to the fridge and was like “I don’t see the cookies!”  Seriously, Tony would buy TWO tubes of refrigerator cookie dough – Joe got to eat one while Tony cooked the other tube.

I am so proud of him.  He moved out when he was 18 and rented a whole house that was about to be torn down to make way for condos – but he rented the house for $100 a month because the owner didn’t want to leave it vacant while the real estate development negotiations were ongoing. 

He met his now wife in the spring of 2010 and in the summer of 2010, they both packed all their belongings and moved to Austin, Texas.  A year later they bought a house and this November they will be celebrating their third wedding anniversary. 

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This is the first birthday without his Dad – I wish I could be there to celebrate with you Joe and give you hugs and kisses, but know I will be celebrating in spirit!  I love you! 


So something happened that never would have happened if Tony were still alive.  You see, I am a pretty impulsive person – if I put my mind to something I don’t think about it for days, or wonder if it’s even a good idea, I just decide something, and well, I do it.

The interior work is done and painting will begin in my living room and dining room this week.  Next up is replacing the God awful carpet that I’ve hated for years and replacing it with hardwood.  Well I started vacuuming the carpet and it was so disgusting – so much dust and debris, so right then and there I decided to rip it all out.  Yep!  The kids were at work, I am still getting over bronchitis, but in that moment, that’s what I wanted to do.   If Tony were alive I never would have been able to be impulsive like that.

In the end I probably saved myself hundreds of dollars in labor costs!  So our house was built in 1922 – originally was a summer cottage home on the Fox River.  Over the years it’s been added onto – basically to make it a longer house.  What we believe were originally an open front porch and back porch have been enclosed to become our living room and back family room off the kitchen.  So when I pulled the carpet out of the living room, the sub-floor was all different kinds of wood – pine, laminate, barn boards – who knows what else – there are four different types in all. 

So imagine my surprise when I took out the carpet (Hannah was now home to help me with that part!) I found hardwood floors!

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Neighbors who have lived in our neighborhood for decades, told Tony and I that our house used to be a brothel in the 30s and 40s.  We are right off the Fox River on a channel and it was said that boats from Chicago would make their way up to our neck of the woods and our basement used to be a bar and, ahem, the bedrooms may have had some activity going on!  Lori, I totally thought of you when I was doing this rehab stuff!

There was always a bit of a “dip” when you walked from the kitchen to the living room.  Once I removed the carpet, I could see a clear square cut out and there is a metal hinge that kind of holds it down.  So I told Hannah that it was probably a treasure chest that’s hidden under there.  Maybe the mafia hid their guns and money in there when they were in my house in case the house got raided!  We haven’t opened it yet, but it’s really weird because it’s hard wood all the way around it, and it’s some weird soft wood on top.  Lori, not sure if you can even tell me what kind of wood that is?  I am not sure it’s salvageable, because the “treasure chest” alley leading into the dining room is all pieces parts.  I’ll have to figure that out later.  I’ll keep you posted about the treasure chest!

It was an absolute gorgeous weekend temperature wise and it will continue this week = highs in the low 70s and lows in the upper 40s.  Perfect!  Although once the kids got home from work on Sunday they were tired and went to nap.  So Red sat outside with me while I grilled.  It’s times like those that I miss Tony most.  Us listening to his Doug Benson podcasts and him laughing his ass off, or us listening to his Frank Sinatra station on Pandora.

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Note to self:  throw the smoker out because it doesn’t work! Open-mouthed smile

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It was dark by the time dinner was finished, so I had to dip into my photo archives:


And here we are back to Monday already, but I have to say, I had a good weekend.  It’s great to be alive.  Make it a great day!