Miracle of Science – Part Two

Back in the end of August, we saw our daughter Krissi and her husband Mike, when Mike’s sister Sara, her husband Gabe, and teenagers Maddy and Ethan rented a house in Ocean City for a week from our neighbor Neen. It was the first time we’d seen them since they surprised me and helped me celebrate my 70th birthday back in January. As we were in the height of the pandemic, Krissi and Mike didn’t stay with us, Mike’s parents Paula and Jerry stayed at a local Bed and Breakfast, we observed social distancing by visiting together in our garage and at the beach, and we exchanged the briefest of hugs. It was something, but it wasn’t what we really wanted.

Turn the clock ahead 7+ months, and now Krissi, who is an administrator at Weill Cornell Medical Center in NYC, and Mike, who sells wine and spirits with MS Walker are both fully vaccinated. Add in the fact that Susie and I are fully vaccinated too, and it’s time for a real, old fashioned weekend with our favorite daughter and our son-in-law! Last Friday, Mike dropped Krissi off with us, while he worked some clients with one of his local salesmen Bryce, which was the beginning of a weekend they spent staying in our house! Old times were back again!

Our time together started with hugs and kisses all around, and then a good old fashioned weekend of visiting. Rather than heading here, there, and everywhere, Krissi decided on a laid back weekend, with home-cooked meals, and lots of time for visiting! She had a hankering for some grilled food, as living in their new condo in New Rochelle doesn’t give them a grilling outlet. Luckily, Susie and I had visited Costco just the day before, so Pork Chops and Pork Tenderloin Medallions were on our Mixed Grill menu. Krissi, Susie and I hit the local Acme to get the fixings for a big salad, while Mike headed off to work with Bryce, and because they looked wonderful, some grilled asparagus were added to the menu! The weather wasn’t wonderful, so I headed down to the grill, while Susie, Krissi and Mike stayed upstairs. After all was done and said, it was a great meal, accompanied by some great wine that Mike had brought for us! Earlier in the day, Krissi also joined Susie and I in our daily exercise routine, and a new chandelier was also put up over our dining room table, by Susie, Krissi, and me, but we don’t need to talk any more about that.

Saturday was a hanging out day around the house, watching some TV and being lazy! Poor Mike was subjected to our Wedding Album when the topic of weddings came up. Then Krissi and Mike proceeded to cook us a wonderful dinner. It was a Turkey Taco Salad, with lots of wonderful vegetables. There was lots of chopping to be done, and the two of them were a perfect team! It was a great meal, and during it we watched one of their favorites on TV – The Masked Singer.

We carefully checked the weather, and although not perfect, Saturday night looked like the best chance of the weekend for some time Fire Pit time, so that’s what we did!

Sunday morning was, of course, Bagel Sunday, so orders in hand, I headed off to see my friends at Hot Bagels and More in Somers Point! As usual they were yummy!!

Again, Sunday was not a great weather day, but we were able to get out a bit with the kids and hit BF Mazzeos and Tilton Market, to both get some things for us, and for Krissi and Mike to bring home. Then it was time for Sunday Stir Stir Vodka (for Susie and I) and Gin (for Krissi and Mike). We decided that Sunday night dinner would be a hors d’oeuvres buffet of sorts, so I was called upon to make my Dad’s Stuffed Mushrooms. It was accompanied by Shrimp Cocktail from Costco, Eggplant Meatballs from BF Mazzeos, Buffalo Chicken Sausage from Bagliani’s (along with Blue Cheese Dressing from Charlies), and a charcuterie platter with delicacies from Bagliani’s and Passion Vines!

Susie and I relaxed while the kids took a walk around the neighborhood. That night we played a rousing game of “That’s What She Said,” and laughed a lot! After a good night’s sleep, about 10:30 on Monday morning Krissi and Mike headed back to their new condo in New Rochelle, where we will turn the tables and be their guests in two weeks!

It was a great weekend with our middle child (by 2 minutes) and her husband, and just another clue that our lives are returning! Stay tuned…we’ve just begun to live again – we may even have a road trip in our future!! Thanks again Moderna!

Miracle of Science – Part One

Last Saturday, April 3rd at about 8:15 AM, Susie and I pulled the Honda CRV out of our garage and headed towards the Ninth Street bridge. Just about an hour later, at 9:12 we crossed the Ben Franklin Bridge, entered the city of Philadelphia and our neighbor state of Pennsylvania. For the FIRST time since we returned from Florida on March 14, 2020, we had left the state of New Jersey! 4 states, and about 7 hours later, we pulled up in front of our son and daughter-in-law’s house in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Grandma and Grandpa were ready to spend Easter weekend with our three precious Grandkids and their Mom and Dad!

Last year, on January 30th, 2020, on our way to Florida, for what we thought was going to be a two month stay, we stopped overnight to see Billy and his family. The next morning, when we left, headed south on I-95, we expected that we’d see them again in a couple of months later on our way home from Florida. Little did we know that on January 31st, 2020, we would see Lori, Bill and Layla, Henry and Annabelle for the last time till last Saturday afternoon. At that point we knew nothing about something called Covid-19, or what America and our family would look like during a pandemic, or that we’d lose an entire year out of our Grandchildren’s lives!

Our son’s family had been at Busch Gardens for several days, and they arrived home about an half hour after we got there. It took zero time after hugs and hello kisses for the kids to put us in Grandparent mode…and we loved it after a year away! It took Annabelle a bit to warm up, but before too long she was calling us Grandma and Grandpa, and we were so happy to once again be back in our three Grandchildren’s lives! Billy and Lori went out to shop for Easter brunch, and Grandma and Grandpa had Chinese food with the kids and then settled in for a night of playing games!. From Henry and Grandpa playing with his Nintendo Switch, and Grandma and Annabelle playing with Stickers, and Grandma and Grandpa as a willing audience for Layla’s performing, up to and including watching some show called the Haunted Hendersons, we had a great night!! When Lori and Billy came home, they thanked us for watching the kids. We thanked them for giving us several uninterrupted hours with our 3 favorite people 7 and under!

Easter morning was wonderful as we watched them hunt for Easter Eggs and try and find where the Easter Bunny had hidden their Easter baskets. Then we were almost as excited as they were as they discovered what surprises were in the eggs they found, and dove into their Easter baskets!


Then it was time to check out Easter presents from Mommy and Daddy and Grandma and Grandpa, before it was time to shower and get dressed before the rest of the family arrived!

The rest of the family included Lori’s Mom Kathy, her sister Keri and husband Bill, along with their two kids Molly and Max, and Lori’s brother Sean and his girlfriend Lauren. Lots of hugs and kisses were exchanged, and we were all thankful that everybody in the house (but the kids) had had both vaccine shots! It was wonderful to once again be with family. To eat (oh what a spread Lori and Bill put out), drink, and as they say, be merry! The kids played, the adults played, and a good time was had by all!

We slept very well that night after a day spent with young kids. They were all wonderful and we were so glad to be back on track after a year of FaceTime calls! The next morning, after breakfast and getting dressed, we were off to see Bill and Lori’s new Lake House! The cars were packed, Layla and Henry rode with Grandma and Grandpa, and we departed Wake Forest for the hour and a half trip to Roanoke Rapids lake!

To say we were thrilled by where Lori and Billy’s life has taken them would be an understatement! What a wonderful life they have created for themselves, and their 3 incredible kids, and what remarkable memories they are going to create with this great Lake House! They’ve done, and had done, a lot of work already, but the vision is very clear and we loved it! It’s a 2 bedroom/ 2 bath house, but Lori came upon with this great idea to convert the upstairs bedroom to a bunk room, which is able to sleep 10 people in comfort! A great idea and we loved the execution of Lori’s idea by their handyman Oscar!

We totally enjoyed the rest of Monday, on the large deck overlooking the lake, on the pontoon boat on the lake, and around the fire pit that night! It was a magical time, in a magical place, with 5 people that we love so much!

Tuesday morning, after some more Grandparent/Grandkid time, it was time for Susie and I to head back to Ocean City. The traffic wasn’t the greatest around Washington, DC, but what’s new about that? We safely got home, with nothing but wonderful memories of Easter, 2021! Thanks to the Miracle of Science, and the Modern vaccine that Susie and I got back in February, we were once again able to enjoy hugs and kisses from our family, and to put memories of 2020 in the background, as we move ahead to make many more new memories in 2021 of Family Time!! Stay tuned…we’ve just begun to live again!! Thanks Moderna!

Our Adventure in New Counters!

Our house on Pennlyn Place in Ocean City was built in 2001. When we bought the place in 2005, it was just 4 years old. At that point, we’d spent 20 years living in a house in Mineola that was approaching 90 years of age. Having 4 year old electrical, plumbing, cabinets, counters, etc was a new experience for us, and one that we loved. In those early years, although we loved being at the house, finances dictated that we rent out the house for 9 to 10 weeks every summer. Although we did painting and updated the furniture, we left the basic house the same. As you probably know, in 2016 I joined Susie in retirement, and in 2017 we sold the Mineola house and officially Ocean City became our home! Now it was time to make the house ours!

We’d always wanted a wine fridge, and after doing a lot of research, we bought a new “under the counter” model. This meant that it vented from the front so it could be buried under a counter. Then we added a glass doored cabinet to the end of our existing cabinets, which would hold glasses, and reside above the wine fridge. Now, all we needed to bring the whole thing together was to extend the counter over the wine fridge and under the glass cabinet!

The wine fridge and new cabinet before it got it’s glass door

The term “Builder’s Grade” denotes the quality of items that a builder puts in a house as part of the basic build. Our countertops certainly qualified as that! Built of Formica over plywood, they were serviceable, but without the cache of stone counters. In the beginning we figured that they were the perfect thing for a house that was still being rented. Unfortunately, they were also green as was the matching fireplace surround. In order to match the greens, the furniture we’d updated in our early years of ownership stayed in the green palate, even though Susie always thought that a beach house should reflect more the nature of it’s seaside environment, and blues and beiges would be much better colors. Now it was time for another updating and for a color change!

Susie did a lot of research on the type of counters she wanted, and everything she read led to manufactured quartz. That decision done, then it was time to select who we should turn to for help with this job. Once again Susie researched, checking out all the kitchen places in both Cape May and Atlantic counties. After several days of combing reviews and ratings, the answer looked obvious to her. Merlino Marble and Granite in Oceanview, NJ had by far the best reviews. Our next question was “How much was this going to cost us?” We took pictures, drew a diagram, and measured what we needed, and then we visited their showroom to see what was what.

We met with with Matt in the Merlino showroom in Oceanview, and talked about the job. He showed us what was available and took our measurements and promised he’d have a quote to us later in the day. After looking at all the samples in the showroom, we went home with 2 samples to choose from, and told him we’d be back the next day to return the samples. Remember, at this point, we still had no idea what it was going to cost us, but we’d pretty much decided that whatever it was, we would do it. That afternoon, true to his word, Matt emailed us a quote and we were surprised by how reasonable the price was. Having selected the quartz we wanted, when we returned the next day, we also told him we wanted to add in the fireplace surround. As quartz wasn’t a good material to use around the fireplace (doesn’t like heat), we walked the yard and quickly picked out a slab of marble we liked, and that worked well with the quartz we’d selected. He once again took our measurements of the fireplace surround, and using the material we’d selected, wrote up a contract.

The next step was to have the official measuring and template done. Here we had a little issue because we had to have a wall built for the far side of our wine fridge, so that it could be integrated into the cabinets. Once that was done, however, I called Charm at the Merlino office, and she sent Chris our way to do the design work. Using a laser, and computer, as well as a good old fashioned tape measure, Chris spent about an hour and a half plotting our counter tops, the island, and the fireplace surround in his cad program. This had to be exact (the reason for both the laser and computer and the tape measure back-up), as the cuts would be made in our quartz based on the design he was preparing. We were once again impressed.

This past Wednesday morning, at about 9:30 AM, Tim, Alex, and Dan showed up and first removed our old counters (goodbye green), and then started to do the prep work for the quartz installation. We had no idea that there was so much prep that had to be done, but they explained that having a good surface made the installation that much better. They used their crane to remove the old counters, and to bring the new quartz up to our porch, and in short order, our new kitchen started taking shape. When they put the first piece in place, we were thrilled, and as the work continued, our thrill level increased. The 3 guys worked very hard, with Tim taking charge of the counters and island while Dan and Alex worked on the fireplace. About 2 and3/4 hours later, the end result was nothing short of perfection, and Susie and I are thrilled at the transformation, and how our add-on cabinet and wine fridge now look like they were there since the place was built!

The entire process, from the first day we walked into the showroom took less than a month. From working with Matt and Charm at the showroom, to having Chris over to template the whole job, to the installation of our new counters, island, and fireplace surround by Tim, Alex, and Dan, Susie and I could not be happier! Everyone at Merlino was professional, and wonderful to work with! It was a real pleasure to have this job done by Merlino Marble and Granite…all home improvement stories should have such a happy ending!

BEFORE AND AFTER PICTURES

Next task is picking out and having someone install the backsplash….wish us luck!