Monday, December 31, 2007

Ready for a Change?

Last night Hollywood and I went to see Barack Obama speak in Des Moines. Iowa holds the first caucus, so we have been completely bombarded by political ads on tv, radio, billboards, and cereal boxes (not really, but probably someday!) We have constant visits from the candidates, get recorded phone messages from them, and news segments on them as well.

It used to be that I could line up most of my beliefs with the Republican party. I have always voted the conservative ticket, so I'm a bit puzzled at my change in heart lately.

Could it be the poor choices being made daily by the president that we have in office at the moment? Maybe. Could it be my mother-in-law is slowly wearing me down and turning me into a Democrat? I hope not.

On many issues, ones that are important to me, I still side with the Republicans. But this current administration has ignored these issues only to focus on a war that's not only unwinnable, but is one that we shouldn't have gotten into in the first place.

I don't think that America is going to elect a Republican president in 2008, and maybe that's for the best.... Because of this, I want to make sure that the Democratic ticket holder is someone I can live with. So I started researching, and I started listening to my Mother-in-law who is a precinct captain for Obama's Iowa campaign. I read through Barack's 'Blueprint for Change' handout and agreed with many (but not all) of his points. Here are a few of them:

1. His ethics campaign is focused on getting lobbyists, special interest groups, and big business out of the white house. Whether it's oil companies or drug companies. I read a book this summer about the AIDS crisis in Ethiopia. It talked about what the drug companies are doing to virtually withhold life saving medicine to millions of dying Africans. They're doing the same thing to our seniors right inside this country, with the full support of the government and that's despicable.

2. Ending the war in Iraq. This one seems like a nobrainer to me. It surprises me that there are still Americans out there who think we should be in Iraq.

3. Coming together to bridge the partisan gap in our country. Sure, all the candidates say that they'll do this. Barack has a history of bringing party lines (not panty lines) together. His quote, "I don’t want to pit Red America against Blue America, I want to be the President of the United States of America." is a great mantra.

4. Reducing our dependency on foreign oil. People, we sent a man to the moon. We spend gazillions of dollars on a war that will not make us safer or gain us allies. If we spent a fraction of that amount coming up with a clean energy alternative for vehicle use, all cars would be equipped with a Mr. Fusion by 2010. (Remember Mr. Fusion? From Back to the Future? When Doc Brown comes back from his trip at the very end of the movie, he puts a banana peel and pours a half empty beer into the receptacle on the time machine. Mr. Fusion was the upgrade from the plutonium that he previously used to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of power needed for the flux capacitor to work...)

Ah, Back to the Future. What an awesome movie.

Anyway... these are the big points that are causing me to change my political affiliation (at least for the caucus) and go caucus for Senator Obama.

Last night we had front row seats, and I got to shake his hand twice. My MIL introduced Hollywood and me to him, and he even kissed Hollywood on the cheek. It was pretty cool. He's a very charismatic speaker, very motivational and I think he'd be a good leader for our country. My bleeding heart friends might be shocked to see my change of heart.

****I'm Monnik, and I approved this message.****

Friday, December 28, 2007

Post Holiday Eating Habits

We've all spent several days eating nothing but junk. Between the cookies, the breads, the baklava, the dips, the chips, the crackers, the cheeses, the chocolates, the sausages, and about a million other things, our bodies are in complete revolt.

Well, mine is anyway. I went to the store last night and bought $40 worth of produce. Broccoli, beans, brussels sprouts, bananas, apples, and those delicious clementine oranges. It was like my body was begging me to ingest something - anything - with nutritional value.

Bumblebee's body, however, doesn't seem to be craving healthy food at all. Here's what she asked me while eating her breakfast this morning:


Whipped Cream Cereal from Monnik on Vimeo.

Yes, that's right. She wanted 'whipped cream cereal'. Um, no. Not today. And yes, this video was a re-enactment. I don't typically roll film while she's eating breakfast (from a tv tray) on the floor of the dining room.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Recap

Christmas was great this year. I usually bemoan the fact that I have a thousand things to do at Christmastime, and this year was no different. In fact, it was worse because of the trip to San Francisco for my brother's wedding.

For some reason, this year didn't actually stress me out as much as it usually does. I have no idea why. Maybe it was because I folded under pressure and bought the kids the super expensive electronic gifts that they wanted instead of taking the time to search for something more thoughtful and less trendy. One year, Hollywood begged and BEGGED for these stupid electronic pets called a Meowchi and a Poochi. I spent forever looking for the damn things, and spent a fortune on them when I finally found them, and she played with them for about two hours before she lost interest. Seriously. I was not pleased.

So, in light of that, it's been a rule of mine not to give in to their demands for for electronic gadgetry. Until this year. Hollywood wanted an iPod Nano Video. The Boy wanted a Nintendo DS. They got them because I didn't have the time to think of something better for them. And, of course, they loved them. At least with a DS and an iPod I know they'll get used - more use than I want them to, I'm sure. I told The Boy that he had to read for an hour for every hour of video game time he spends. Since he loves to read too, that wasn't a terrible rule.

But anyway, back to the fact that I didn't feel stressed out this year. It was really great! We had Christmas with my side of the family on Sunday. The early afternoon was spent at my dad and his wife's house. 15 people were crammed into a small living room watching the Packers/Bears game on tv. My brother is a Bears fan. My husband is a Packers fan. The Packers got KILLED by the bears in an ugly, ugly game. The Husband showed an amazing amount of good cheer and didn't get mad and mopey about the loss. My brother was a good sport and didn't cram the win down TH's throat.

We moved on to Mom's house afterwards and spent the time drinking wine, eating too much food, and playing games. It was a really fun time. On the way home, The Husband said, "I married into a family of real squirrels. But I couldn't love them more." Which is one of those backwards compliments. But I knew what he meant - my brothers are a bunch of squirrels. It's hard being the only normal one.

We went to mass at a tiny church on Christmas Eve. I wish I'd have taken a picture of this church. It had eight rows of pews (one on each side of the aisle). Each pew fit six people max, so it was a very small church. And it was so pretty and charming - it really made the evening special.

On Christmas Eve before we sent the kids off to bed, Bumblebee set out cookies for Santa and reindeer food for Rudolph and his friends. In the morning she ran into our room and said, "Mommy! Santa ate all of the cookies but one! He must have gotten full!"

I asked her if he'd brought her presents, and she said she didn't know. She'd only ran out to the living room to check to see if he ate the cookies. (There were new toys all over the living room left by Santa, so she really must have been on a mission to check out those cookies only!)

I let the dog outside in the front yard while the kids were checking out their Santa booty. While Merlin was outside, she ate the reindeer food and left a nice yellow pee spot in the snow.

When it occurred to Bumblebee to look outside, she saw that the food was gone and that there were tracks and a pee spot in the snow and she exclaimed, "The reindeers ate all of the food! AND they peed by it!"

"EW, Daaaad!" Hollywood said with disgust. The look on her face cracked me up. She was convinced that it was The Husband who peed out there - she didn't know I'd let the dog outside.

We spent Christmas day with The Husband's family and spent the afternoon eating and drinking and hanging out. It really was a nice time. There was way too much food and drink. I actually felt queasy and thought I might not keep all that food down, but in the end, I managed not to get sick. And, as usual, I vowed not to let myself become a gluttonous fool at the next holiday gathering. We'll see how well that promise sticks.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas!! I hope you have a relaxing (ha!) and joyous holiday. I'll be spending mine with family - who could ask for anything more?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My Least Welcome Things

Travis over at One Word, One Rung, One Day wrote a warm fuzzy version of his favorite things on his post today. It's really great, so you should go check it out. Being the pessimist that I tend to be this time of year, I decided to steal his idea, and flip it around so that it's about things I don't love so much. So, without further ado, here goes:

My Least Welcome Things

Clients who whine and children who bicker
Not being able to bribe them with liquor
Having a telephone that always rings
These are a few of my least welcome things

Too many emails and crazy work deadlines
Stories of whackadoos hogging the headlines
The slush and the snow and the ice winter brings
These are a few of my least welcome things

Holiday shopping when my list isn’t done yet
Why didn’t I buy all of my gifts on the internet
Driving with idiots and getting door dings
These are a few of my least welcome things

When the school calls
Asking for baked goods
The day before they are due
I simply remember my least welcome things
And then I feel twice as blue!


***

Don't forget to check out the post below about my mom. It's worth the scrolldown.

The Male Tree

We're back! And I'll write up a real post about our trip (which was awesome) when I have the time. Until then, you'll have to be content with this photo of my mom feeling up the "male" tree in the Redwood forest. For those of you who don't know - Mom is blind and when my brothers and I spotted this, er, protuberance on the tree, we knew that we had to show it to her. I snapped a picture of her fondling the tree peener and told her it was going on my blog. And here it is!!!

It cracks me up every time I see it! I think I will look at this picture whenever I'm in a bad mood from now on. If a picture of your mom having her way with a tree-penis doesn't cheer you up, what will???

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Snow Day

We had an ice/snow storm and school was canceled today. I worked from home, and it's times like this that I'm thankful for Giant Ass Bank's flexibility. The older kids had a fun day - I was glad to see them out playing in the snow, even Hollywood was outside sledding and having fun. I was glad they didn't spend the day in a Play Station or MySpace trance...

Unfortunately, Bumblebee was cooped up inside because we left her snow pants at her babysitter's house. She tried to go out with sweatpants on but was just too cold. Being confined with her all day was about as much fun as my annual gyno exam. She was like a kitten on speed - zipping all over the house, creating a giant mess everywhere she went. And she didn't want to listen to anything I said. It wasn't pretty. And it really frightens me that we have to get on an airplane in two days with her. I'm hopeful that the novelty of a plane ride will at least occupy her for a while. I'm picking up an armload of I Spy and Where's Waldo books from the library and am hopeful that they will occupy at least fifteen seconds of her time.

We're heading out to San Francisco this weekend for my brother's wedding. I think the entire family is cursing the couple for choosing to get married halfway across the country 10 days before Christmas (he's the only brother of mine who doesn't live in the Midwest), but it will be a nice time to get the family together. Hollywood is a bridesmaid and Bumblebee is the flower girl. I'm some sort of commanding officer - supposedly I'm in charge of telling people what to do when it's time to do something. That should be interesting!

I did some online Christmas shopping today. Turns out I can't even control my urge to shop for myself even while I'm online! That's pretty pathetic. I bought myself 3 books. Oh well. You can't fault someone for buying books. At least that's my story.

I'm running again... shorter distances to keep my hip from screaming at me. It feels good to be back on the saddle. Or the treadmill...

Well, that's about all I can blabber on about for now. I'm on one of my late night conference calls for work and it's making me itchy that I can't be curled up in bed right now... I'm sure the pot of coffee I had to keep me awake this late will do wonders for my sleep when the call finally ends.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Joys of Holiday Pictures


I took Christmas pictures today. And I wrote my Christmas letter. I didn't really think I'd have time to do either this year, but the weather prevented me from going to my mom's house today, so I had the time and decided to go for it.

I think this year's picture is really pretty - the kids are beautiful in it and the absence of The Husband and me made us both very happy people. Neither of us chose to shower today, so we weren't in picture condition. But the kids sure all looked cute, as always!


Last year's Christmas picture was an ordeal. Since we'd purchased a Packers jersey for everyone in the family, we decided to take a family portrait with them on. So, I read the directions for the timer function on the camera and set up the piano bench in the sunroom so we could gather around the tree. The camera sat atop a stack of books that were just the right height for the picture.

Family Christmas picture take one is what I like to call "Huh? It's time to actually take this thing?"


NOBODY is smiling. They are all irritated that they have to sit so close together. They're all looking at me, watching my ineptitude - while I'm behind the camera trying to figure out how long the timer lasts. Let's try again.

Take two - this time the dog jumped in on the fun. Everyone seems to be laughing at something, well, except for The Husband who has his this-is-retarded-can-we-please-be-done-now look on his face. I clearly didn't make it to my perch on the bench quick enough this time either.


I actually made it into take three but it's a disaster. Remember that part in Steel Magnolias where Shelby tells her mom (Sally Field) that her hair looks like a helmet? Yep - that's me in this picture. And this picture makes it glaringly obvious that Bumblebee has no socks on. It's December, and that means it's cold in my house. Why wasn't that kid wearing socks?! The Husband has a goofily cheerful grin on his face, which is a departure from the usual grimace he flashes for the camera. The boy has unnaturally good posture, and Bumblebee looks like she's either in pain or has to poop, so on we move to the next one.


This next one isn't bad, except that I thought The Boy looked too pale and too much of my thighs were showing. And we all know that since I'm the final approver on which picture makes the cut, it's going to be the one that makes me look the prettiest, slimmest, and least helmety of them all.



Finally, we come to the one that was the least awful. I played around with it in photoshop and here's what we came up with:


Here's hoping that you have an easier time getting your family together to pose for a Holiday Picture.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tickety Tock

Here are only few of the questions Bumblebee asked me today:

"Mom, how many universes are there?"

"What do you think God's favorite color is?"

"What does 'vomit' mean?"

"Can Kennedy (her daycare friend) become my step sister?"

***

Today I was on an elevator where two women were talking about a mutual acquaintance of theirs who'd recently had a stillbirth. I think I had an audible intake of breath when I heard it, kind of an "Oh, no..." sort of reaction.

Then I started thinking about Joseph, the baby we lost. It amazes me that I will go for days, weeks even, without thinking of him. And then when I do, it's a fleeting thought - usually to contemplate how difficult that time in our lives was. But sometimes I feel guilty that our life went on so completely after we lost him. I know these are useless feelings, of course I'm glad that our lives did go on after Joseph.

I write these thoughts not to make anyone sad or to elicit pity for our loss. I've written before that losing our son was something that taught us many amazing lessons in life and ultimately gave us Bumblebee. I bring up the thoughts simply to reflect on how feelings can resurface from time to time and be edgy again, if only for a few moments, and certainly when you least expect them.

****

Tonight I was on my way home from work and I turned off the radio because I had a headache. I came to a stoplight and in the silence heard the tick-tock of a clock coming from somewhere inside of the car. I looked around, puzzled. I held my watch up to my ear, and heard a softer, different ticking so I knew it wasn't the source of the sound.

The displays on my car, are obviously digital and don't tick. Though I really wish digital clocks did tick because if so, I would have been spared the fate of being embarrassed one Christmas. My parents had bought me a Strawberry Shortcake watch (digital) and I'd opened it before Christmas to sneak a peek (I've never been great with surprises) and then I rewrapped it. When Christmas came and it was my turn to open the present, I made a big show of squeezing and shaking the package and wondering aloud, "Whatever could it be?" Then I sealed my fate by saying, "Hey! It's TICKING!!!"

"Nice try, Sunshine." my mom said flatly. "Digital clocks don't tick."

Yeah, I was busted. And it was embarrassing because I was probably 10 or 11 - definitely old enough to know better than that. Duh. But anyway, back to the ticking in my car. Since I learned that Christmas that digital clocks don't tick, I knew it wasn't my dashboard clock.

What was it then? Did my brand new car have a ticking engine? No - it wasn't the engine.

Was it a bomb? Did someone mistake my shiny new black car for a mobster's sedan and place a bomb under it? Exciting as that sounds, of course it wasn't the case.

I must have looked pretty special at the stoplights on the way home, because each time I stopped, I searched frantically around the interior of my car for that maddening sound. It was making my headache worse by the second.

Finally - I found it. The Husband was given a coffee mug with a clock stuck to the side of it for his birthday. Since it's purple, I stole it, and it's been an interesting conversation piece during boring office meetings. It was sitting in the cup-holder. I never noticed that it ticks before.

Yeah, well, that's not an exciting story necessarily, but it does illustrate that I need to do what I can to get these headaches to stop again. And I know that working out will help get rid of them, so here I sit in my workout clothes with my iPod downloading a podcast. I WILL run tonight and hope that my gimpy hip doesn't act up. Wish me luck.

Fire Alarm

This is what I'm hearing while I'm trying to work at my desk.

"May I have your attention please. May I have your attention please. There has been a fire reported in the building. While this report is being verified, the building manager would like you to remain at your workstation. Wait on your floor for further instruction."

Followed by a loud screetchy alarm, and repeated all over again.

This message and the screetcy alarm has been going on since 7:55 a.m. It's 8:18 now. I am going to go crazy.

They blocked off the downstairs entrance. And exit, too, if you think about it. So we're basically trapped in a building that's supposedly on fire.

Nice.

Edited at 8:32 to add - it's finally over. My head is pounding, though.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Basketball Brawl Between Gray-Hairs

Hollywood plays basketball. She's a scrappy little thing and starts as point guard. I love the fact that we live in such a small school district that my kids can play whatever sport they want.

The basketball team is a bit of a disappointment this year, though. No, scratch that, it's not the team, but the coach who is a disappointment. Normally in a school district like ours, the coaches are teachers who pick up a sport or two for extra money. This year, we got a new coach who isn't a teacher and nobody really knows who he is.

I knew we were in for a long season when Hollywood told me that he doesn't even make the girls run during practice. Now I didn't play basketball, and only like to watch basketball when my kids are playing it. So I don't claim to be an expert on this. In fact, if you want to know the truth, I actually had to look up what a 'point guard' was when Hollywood excitedly told me that's what she was playing. However, I know enough about basketball to know that you need running drills - killers, whatever - to keep the players in condition to play the game.

Another illustration of this coach's questionable ability came in the first game when he didn't know what an 'over and back' call meant. Again, I'm not a basketball person and I'll admit I had to be told what that meant last year. But I'm not the coach!!

I should describe this guy to you. He's old. Like retirement age old. And very soft spoken. The girls claimed they couldn't even hear what he was saying to them. He left the girls alone during halftime at the last game so they sat in a circle and tried to coach themselves. Nobody knows where he went. He rarely calls timeouts to coach the girls and never tells them what plays to try.

Some of the parents have been launching a campaign of sorts to try and oust this man. I'm not happy about him and have no faith in his ability, but as a parent, I think it's important not to undermine authority figures, even when they might be questionable. Hollywood already has issues with authority, and my blabbering on about how ineffective her coach is, would only give her license to ignore his direction. Provided that he was giving any direction, that is. And I'm also not a lover of conflict, so I chose to let the season run its course, assuming that he wouldn't be back for another year.

And then last night happened.

The stands were packed - standing room only, which is really cool for an 8th grade game, if you ask me. Hollywood's team was holding it together fairly well - at least at first. They were losing 10-2, which may sound atrocious, but since they lost their last game 55-5, it wasn't so bad. I was proud of my scrappy little point guard because she was doing the best she knew how. All of a sudden, though, the coach - this bespectacled, soft-spoken, septuagenarian - was chest to chest with the referee. Who, as it happened, was also in his sixties or seventies. Coach was all up in this guy's face, saying who knows what in his soft voice. They walked across the entire court like that, and the seventh grade coach ran down to jump in. The coach lunged at the ref and started shouting. It was surreal, though, watching a couple of geriatrics going at it. The coach was shaky and threatening. The ref was trying to hold it together, but you could see he was getting mad.

Our coach tried to throw a punch, but it was intercepted by the seventh grade coach. Then he was handled by a couple of dads who ran down from the stands and had to forcefully carry him out of the gym. On the way out he yelled something like, "I've got a couple of friends who can call fouls too!" Whatever that means.

We were all stunned. Most of the moms who were trying to get him fired were sort of smug, assuming that this was the last straw. And I'm sure it will be. I participated in the gossipy chatter for a while, but then started thinking about it further. He's a crappy coach, but I still feel sorry for him. I mean, what if he forgot to take his medicine that day, or what if something bad happened to him, like his pet rabbit died or something? Seriously, what would cause such a complete break in character for a man like that? Incidentally, the calls weren't particularly bad. If anything, the refs were letting both sides get away with way more than they should have.

That's what I always do, though. Try to give people the benefit of the doubt when maybe they didn't deserve it. There's always more than meets the eye, though, isn't there?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Little More Random from a Sickie

We're Packers fans in our household, as I'm sure you've gathered. Thursday was the big Cowboys/Packers showdown. Both teams were 10-1, both will win their divisions, and this game was likely to decide who gets home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Bumblebee's babysitter is a big Cowboys fan. On Thursday morning, I dressed Bumblebee in her Brett Favre jersey and when she walked into her babysitter's house, she saw that R was wearing a Cowboys jersey. Without prompting, Bumblebee yelled, "GO PACKERS!!" Good for her.

Oh, if only they would have 'gone' harder. They lost in a game that may not have had the outcome I wanted, but was really very good.

My boss is also a Cowboys fan, and she slung a few 'smack talking' emails with me on Thursday. Yesterday, I decided at the last minute (on Friday morning) to take a day off and go Christmas shopping. My boss emailed me back saying, "Jeez, Monnik, it's just a game. You don't need to go into hiding and take a PTO day because your team lost..."

Bumblebee and I went to the mall and on the way she asked me, "Do you know the Pick Wick Steelers? That's Allie's favorite team. They don't really steal. That's just their team name."

We spent a lot of time at the mall yesterday. Even though Bumblebee was reasonably well behaved, shopping with a 4 year old is hard work. I was looking for Christmas presents (I got several) and an outfit to wear to my brother's rehearsal dinner in a few weeks. I only bought jewelry and a great handbag. I guess I'll wear something that I already have for the dinner, because I don't have the time or energy to do that kind of shopping again. I was exhausted when I got home, but I actually wrapped a bunch of my Christmas presents. I'm pretty sure it's the first time I've ever wrapped presents in November. I'm usually doing it on December 24th.

Does anyone else hate wrapping presents? I cannot stand it. The artistic/creative side of me wants things to look nice, but the practical part of me keeps telling me this is such a waste of time as I try and fold the corners just so. I can never get the darn things to lay down smoothly on the ends. Urg! My side of the family was never really big on beautiful wrapping. Usually we get gifts wrapped up in Wal-Mart or Target bags. The Husband's side is completely the opposite. I swear that my MIL must spend hours and hours wrapping things - her packages are so beautiful that it's a shame to open them.

My brother and his girlfriend came over to hang out last night. I felt really bad because I was soooo tired. I just sat on the couch and we talked and played a really lame Iowa trivia game. They left and must think that The Husband and I are the most boring couple alive.

This morning I understood a little more why I was so wiped last night. I thought it was from the shopping, but when I woke up this morning, my neck, back, and shoulders ached, and I had a headache. Looks like the beginnings of the flu. I spent all but 3 hours today on the couch. Those 3 hours that I didn't spend on the couch were spent in my bed. I'm in bad shape. An Advil and Excedrin cocktail at least gave me the energy to make dinner for myself (I heated up a can of green beans. How's that for extravagant?!) and get up to write this entry, but I'm heading straight back to the couch to finish the book I'm reading after I get done here.

The Boy had a friend spend the night last night. He's a pleasant little guy - a new kid in the neighborhood who has a lot in common with The Boy. They spent all of last night, and then all day today hanging out. The Boy went over to his friend's house and had dinner there. He called to see if he could spend the night there, and I told him no since he'd been with this friend for over 24 hours by now. Five minutes later, his friend's dad called to plead The Boy's case. I ended up caving in, but that made me mad. I said no, dude! Why would he call to get me to change my mind? Maybe it's the fact that I feel like crap that has made me grouchy about this, but I do think it's odd. The Boy probably gave him that wounded puppy dog look that's melted my icy heart a time or two... who knows.

Ok, I've babbled enough for one night. I know I'm not making sense now - so I'm going to curl up on my couch. The Husband made a nice crackly fire in the fireplace for me and is keeping Bumblebee occupied in the basement. So it's really cozy and peaceful up here. Curling up with a cup of coffee in front of a fire with a good book is the best way I can think of to nurse my aches and pains.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Little of This and a Little of That

The Husband called me this morning to tell me that he came upstairs to find our dog with her head stuck in a box of cookies. She almost knocked over the Christmas tree while she was thrashing around the living room, trying to get it off. What a stupid mutt! The Boy had just fed her too! Apparently she wanted a dessert of almond crescent cookies to finish off the Dog Chow.

I must remember to throw the cookies away tonight when I get home. I can just see myself reaching into the box absent-mindedly while watching tv. Uh, like I did while I was watching The Biggest Loser last night. Not a great choice of mine to have a box of cookies next to me while that show was on. It would be even worse to do it now that the cookies have dog slobber on them.

**

So I've started running again after taking a two week break to heal my hip. My first run was Saturday - I did only 2.5 miles, and it felt really good. I ran again last night, and only did 2 miles, but this morning my hip is in bad shape again. This makes me crazy! I'm not supposed to get injured when I've been taking it slow and easy. I suppose it means I have two choices: I can quit running entirely or go to a doctor to see if there's anything they can do to help me get over this hip pain. It's times like this that I want to wail like a two year old and yell "It's not FAIR!!" Because it isn't. It sucks. All I want to do is become a good runner. Hell, I'll take becoming a mediocre runner. I know I'll never win any races - that's not what I want. I want to be able to consistently run a base of 15-20 miles per week so that I can maintain good aerobic health and eat cookies while I watch tv shows and not grow an ass while I do so. I'm in good health and should be able to do that! Wah. Enough whining.

**

Last night I stopped what I was doing and listened to my surroundings. For a moment a really nice warm, toasty feeling came over me. The dishwasher was running, which meant that the kitchen was clean. The washing machine had a load of towels going, and the dog was snoring on the floor next to me. I heard Hollywood downstairs listening to music while she did her homework. The Husband was in his workshop watching Modern Marvels. The show was about the history of pigs. In Bumblebee's bedroom, I heard The Boy reading her a Scooby Doo story. I paused to listed to these sounds and it dawned on me that things can be pretty damn good sometimes.

**

I do this goofy thing with the kids where I sternly call out their names - first and middle - so it sounds like they're in real trouble. When they come to see me, I try to act like an angry mom and then I sternly demand a hug. Bumblebee almost always catches on, and says "HUG" as soon as she hears me yell out her name. Last night The Boy actually thought he was in trouble when I did it to him. Which makes me wonder... was he up to something or did he have a guilty conscience?

**

Hollywood got to go over to her boyfriend's house last night for a while. He'd gotten her a birthday present, but since she's been grounded, they haven't been able to hang out together, so he hadn't given it to her yet. She came home and showed me the present - great big "diamond" earrings and a teddy bear. Oh, to be 14 again and get gifts from boys... (Wait - when I was 14 boys ignored me because I was a scary mess of chubbiness, bad hair, and orthodontia.)

**

I took the kids to see the movie Enchanted over the weekend. It was fabulous. All three kids enjoyed it, and when you have kids whose ages span 10 years like mine do, that's a tough assignment! Patrick Dempsey is so darned... well, for lack of a more creative word... DREAMY, that it's hard to take your eyes off of him. This is the first movie that Bumblebee actually sat through and watched the entire thing. I give it an A+. Definitely worth seeing.

**

I started reading a very interesting book last night. It's a new one - now the two half-read novels sitting next to my bed have a companion. It's called Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. It started off with a great voice, and so far it's fresh and interesting. I'd have read longer, except that I wanted to get to bed at a decent hour so I wasn't late today.

That sort of worked. I got in at 7:20. Which isn't quite on time, but it's closer. AND my hair is neatly styled and not in a ponytail. So we're making progress.

**

Well, that's about enough random rambling for one post. Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Funkytown

I'm in a funk. Maybe it's post Holiday depression, or stress, or whatever, but I have no drive or motivation to do much of anything. Here's a list of my funkiness:

  • Last night was the first night since Thanksgiving that I made dinner. We've had takeout or leftovers instead.
  • I ran once over the weekend, but didn't run last night - even though I had every chance to do so.
  • I've been eating so much food that it's no wonder my pants are tight. And tight they are... we haven't even gotten into Christmas food season yet!
  • My house is a mess. Laundry needs done, my bedroom is still a sty, the deep cleaning needs done.
  • We forgot to take the trash to the street last night, and since I overslept this morning, the garbage men were long gone by the time we thought about it. Since we hosted Thanksgiving - the trash is already overflowing. It'll be a fun trash week.
  • I have gotten up later and later since the time change. I'm supposed to work 7-4. Guess what time I got in this morning? 8:03. Not good.
  • I've worn my hair in a ponytail 4 out of the last 5 workdays. I'm too lazy or sleepy to actually style it.
  • I've got two books that are half finished sitting on my bedside table and they're collecting dust.
  • My couch and tv have formed a secret alliance and are hypnotizing me into watching endless episodes of What Not to Wear, Tim Gun's Guide to Style, Project Runway, Design on a Dime, etc. Which is pretty ironic because I sit on my sofa watching these people learn how to look great while my ass grows bigger.
See? It's a funk. And I'm going to try to pull myself out of it starting NOW.

I am eating oatmeal and a banana for breakfast.

I am going on a walk at lunch.

I am going to buy Christmas presents online for at least four people today.

I am going to get some actual work done too. (Though this is my calm down season - I'll have a couple of weeks of downtime before things get crazy again.)

I think that's about all I can commit to right now. But it's a start.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Recap


Two posts in one day! Can you tell that I don't want to work today? By using company time to write another blog post, I'm protesting the fact that I have to be in the office when everyone else in the country is shopping or putting up their Christmas tree.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. We hosted it at our house this year, because the Packers were on TV and The Husband didn't want to miss out on the game. We had family from both sides come over - my mother in law brought one of TH's brothers, and another one came with his family. My mom and three of my brothers joined us as well. I think there were 17 people there. Enough to fill the house and the tables, but not too many to make me crazy and worry about my hostessing duties.

I made the mistake of having two or three (or was it four?) glasses of wine before dinner. This meant that I threw caution to the wind and ate at least 33,210 calories at dinner. But it was a fun time, and that's what counts.

The men were all downstairs watching football. (Way to go, Packers!!! 10-1, baby!) Which left the women - my mom, my mother in law, my sister in law, Hollywood and me all hanging out in the kitchen. With the wine. It was nice.

Highlights of the day:
  • Getting help from The Husband without any grumbling. He really did make the day a breeze by helping me with a few of the last minute things that needed to be done.
  • Getting advice from my mom on how to prevent a hangover so that I could come to work today. "Drink Gatorade," she said. "It really works." I sent Mom home with a big old bottle of Gatorade herself.
  • Reminiscing with my mother in law about the first time we met - which was a nerve wracking situation for both of us.
  • Chatting with my sister in law about her life - getting to know her better.
  • Welcoming Hollywood into the sisterhood of the kitchen on holidays. It was nice having her there, but she probably heard more than she bargained for.
  • The food was good, the company was even better. We have a lot to be Thankful for.
  • Ending the day by watching two Tivoed episodes of Project Runway with a sleeping Bumblebee on my lap to keep me warm. Mabel (the new cat) joined us after she was certain that Hollywood was completely asleep and wouldn't be harassing her.
Thanksgiving is such a nice holiday. Low pressure, good food, family, and wine. Who can ask for more?

The Sock Trasher

I feel like The Boy doesn't get enough 'blog press'. Almost all of Bumblebee's conversations are so cute that they're blog fodder. Hollywood's challenging attitude makes for blogging gold too.

But The Boy, who has always been my "easy" child, happily goes through the day saying sweet things like, "Best Mom in the world." as his good night salutation. He rarely argues with The Husband and me, and if he does get in trouble, he accepts his punishment without opposition. I'm serious - if he didn't remember to practice his trumpet and I take the GameBoy away for a day, he almost cheerfully says, "Ok, Mom." before handing it over. Our biggest struggles with The Boy aren't really that big at all: he's very unorganized, and has trouble focusing on the task at hand sometimes. Think of it as a creative genius disorder, if you will. His bedroom is usually a disaster, but then again, so is mine, so how hard on him can I be for that? The kid TRASHES his socks. I buy brand new ones and after one use, they look like a homeless man has walked the streets of LA in them for weeks.

He's scatterbrained, unorganized, and a sock-ruiner. I'm a lucky parent to have a kid with these three things as his top challenges. I'm sure he'll go through a difficult stage when he's older. I hear that high school is a particularly trying time for boys. But maybe not... Maybe he'll always be a well behaved, rule following, mom-loving little man. I can dream, right?

Friday, November 16, 2007

In the Blink of an Eye

How does one go from here:


To here:


To here:



To here:


To here:


To here:


To here:


In the blink of an eye?


Happy 14th Birthday, Hollywood. I love you.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sins of the Past Coming Back to Haunt Me...

In 13 years and 364 days I have been viewed by my daughter as the following things:

Caregiver/protector - I loved parenting an infant. I miss the days of complete helplessness, that snuggly warm feeling, the gentle thump, thump of a baby's soft spot on your lips as you're kissing their silky head. Hollywood used to lock her big gray eyes with mine as an infant. She seemed so content. (When she wasn't a screaming, collicky mess, that is...)

Teacher - Hollywood wanted to learn everything when she was a toddler. She craved knowledge, asked about a billion questions, and listened intently to my answers. She absorbed these teachings like a little sponge, and looked at me with adoration when I explained why snakes don't have legs.

Playmate - Endless games of Candyland, a thousand tea-parties, Games of hide and seek, Twenty Questions, I Spy, and so on. I loved getting down on the floor with my kids and playing with them. I remember Hollywood's deep, belly laugh when we'd be playing goofy games together. She used to be so amused by my silliness.

Confidant - When Hollywood was in third grade, she had trouble with another girl her age. I remember her eyes welled up with tears, telling me how this little monster, er, I mean girl, would hurt her feelings. I loved hearing about her life, listening to her stories. My heart broke when hers broke, my heart leapt when hers leapt. She trusted me with her secrets, she felt better after telling them to me.

Cheerleader - I love watching my children play in their sports games or events. I adore watching them sing in their chorus concerts. My chest puffs up with pride when I watch Hollywood compete in her activities like Mock Trial and other academic events. When other parents compliment me on how great of a player Hollywood is, I always think back to one of my earliest cheerleader experiences that occurred when she was in Kindergarten. They picked her to narrate the class play about penguins because she was the only kid who could read it clear as a bell, and sound conversational even. I was so proud, I was bursting. I love watching my children do what they love to do. Hollywood used to get a small smile when she'd look out into the stands to see me cheering at a game or an event. Every once in a while she even waved hello at me! She liked having me there to watch her succeed.

And now... here's what stage we've come to, just one day before my charming daughter turns 14. I am no longer seen as a caregiver, teacher, playmate, confidant, or cheerleader in her eyes. Nope. I am now an old hag who knows nothing about anything.

Sigh... Be quiet Mom, I can hear you laughing from here. This is payback in its finest form.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dorky Dorkenstein

Don't you hate when you do something dorky? I am such a dork. Seriously. Sometimes I can disguise it. Most of the time, though... not so much.

Today I went to lunch at The Boy's school. It was their annual holiday dinner. Yum, yum... Instant mashed potatoes with turkey and gelatinous gravy plopped on top. As I was standing in line to eat such delectable goodness, The Boy's teacher took a look at my outfit (purple blazer and top, black dress pants) and said, "Hi Mrs. R! Purple sure is your color!"

Here's where I became a dorkus maximus. I said, rather enthusiastically, I'm afraid, "It sure is!"

I didn't have time to explain why I answered that way - before I knew it, The Boy's teacher was off complimenting other parents, who I'm certain replied with much more grace and tact than I.

The Boy's teacher was paying me a compliment, telling me I look nice in purple. She must have thought I was quite the egomaniac with my response, because clearly you don't say "yep - I sure do look fabulous in purple" as a response to a compliment.

My face is turning red, just thinking of it.

But I'll explain to you why I answered that way, because, well, it might make me feel better. Or not. Probably it will just make me dwell on my dorkiness even longer, but whatever...

Purple is my favorite color. It's been my favorite color since I was teeny tiny. I love the color so much that I wear it A LOT. People at work have commented before on how much purple I have in my wardrobe. I was thinking Mrs. H's comment was along those lines, which is why I answered the way I did. Those dumb words were out of my mouth before I realized that Mrs. H, who sees me about three or four times per year would have no idea that I wear purple all the time, and would therefore not be telling me that purple is my color for that reason.

I know that in the grand scheme of things this isn't a highly embarrassing moment, but I'll keep replaying it over and over in my head until that queasy feeling in my stomach shows up. Why did I say that? I'll ask myself for about three days. Then I'll do or say something that trumps even this dorky incident, causing my mind to obsess about the new dork action.

It's great to be me.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Kid Stuff

Bumblebee was on a roll today... Here are several illustrations of her take on life:
  • The Husband was playing the guitar with her, and letting her strum the chords. They were singing goofy songs like Tie Me Kangaroo Down (Bumblebee thinks it's "Tiny Kangaroo Down") and the Scooby Doo theme song. For a long time, she's been telling us that she's going to be an Animal Doctor when she grows up, but that she wants to be a waitress first. Tonight she told The Husband that she was going to be a guitar player, then a waitress, then an animal doctor, and finally, an OLD LADY.
  • We were talking about getting the new car (we pick it up tomorrow) and Bumblebee was wondering why we didn't get it yesterday. The real reason is that the bank was closed on Saturday, so they need to finalize the loan, but we figured that explanation would just open the door to a bunch of questions, so we told Bumblebee that the car was going to be washed and cleaned, and that they're getting it ready for us. She got very reverent and said, "Dear God, please make sure our new car is washed clean. Amen."
  • I was putting her to bed tonight and she was all sorts of wound up. Finally, I had to scold her. "Mom! You don't have to be so rude about it!" she said. And then, after a few seconds of silence, "I don't think God is very happy with you right now."
  • And finally, after she really did settle down and was getting ready to sleep, she said, "Mommy? I'm sorry when I was naughty a few seconds ago. And the second after a few seconds ago too."
God, I love that kid. Four year olds are awesome.

In other news, The Boy almost beat me in chess tonight. He's really improving! Soon I won't stand a chance. He wants me to teach him to play cribbage, and I'm excited about that. I think I'll get him a nice cribbage board for Christmas. It's a game I played with my Grandpa. And then, when my brother K was in college, we'd play online cribbage while we were both supposed to be working. It'll be fun to teach The Boy cribbage.

Last night we were at my brother in law's house and were sitting around a fire telling creepy stories. The Boy told a story that he made up on the spot, called The Spirit of Cedar Lake. It was really very inventive and suspenseful! If he's not the next J.K. Rowling, I'll be surprised - his creativity is amazing.

Hollywood is going through an argumentative period. I told her before mass this morning that she had way too much eyeliner on, and to go wash it off. I was rewarded with a lovely argument... She wants me to let her have a slumber party for her birthday. This wouldn't be a huge deal, except that she wants to invite 15 girls!! God help us all... I'm not sure when she'll learn that it's easier to get your way if you're sweet and charming beforehand. She's usually the queen of brown nosing, so I'm not sure why her game's off this week. She turns 14 on Friday, and I can't believe it. She'll get her driver's permit and can then drive with a parent. Scary timing since I'll have a car that's 5 days old... Hmmm, maybe she'll have to learn to drive TH's monster truck instead.

Well, it's time to get ready for the week ahead. Sunday nights are so depressing...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Next Stage (Not a Wells Fargo Ad)

Is it possible? Could I really be on the verge of a new stage of parenthood? Just as I passed the breastfeeding stage, the waking up four times a night stage, and the diaper stage, I am on the cusp of moving out of the MINIVAN stage.

We are trading the minivan for a car - possibly today, but definitely within the week. That's right, folks, a regular old midsize sedan. No more sliding doors that whack like thunder when a kid slams them too hard, no more 19 miles per gallon nonsense, no more soccer mom stigma. (Well, maybe that one won't go away. I am what I am, after all...) No more trouble pulling the van into a compact sized parking space; No more loud, bumpy ride; No more tossing things into the far back of the van hoping that the kid who is sitting there catches the item so they don't have to unbuckle their seatbelt to retrieve it.

I have owned a minivan since I was twenty-five years old. My brothers made fun of me when I got my first one, but they are convenient as hell when you have kids to run here and there and everywhere. We still have kids that we have to run all over the place, but we've decided they can sit three abreast in the back seat. Gas prices have helped us with this decision.

I'm excited to be moving past this stage... there's no bittersweetness in this one. The minivan has defined me for almost 10 years. But now I can be a car girl!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Bad Blogger, I Have Been

Hmmm, not sure why I went all Yoda on the title, but this is a drive by post to say that I will write something, about who knows what, in the very near future. I promise.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Mabel

The Husband and I took the family out to dinner last night. We ate at a BBQ restaurant and had a nice time. Bumblebee is old enough to behave herself while out to dinner, so taking the family out to eat isn't the torture that it once was. We had some interesting conversations while there. At one point TH was teasing Hollywood that we almost named her Mabel, Gertrude, Bertha, Eunice, etc. She didn't really believe us, but it was funny.

Guess who was waiting for us when we got home? Our favorite stray cat. The Husband thought it was probably a wild Tom. The entire family (except for me) went out to greet the annoying little thing. As they bent down to pet it, I saw it rubbing up against TH's legs, and it was purring. Then it raised it's front paws and put them on TH's leg to stretch. That's when we found out it was declawed. TH picked it up and verified that 'it' is a 'she'.

They all turned to me, asking me if we could let her inside. The Husband seemed to be the most influential: "She chose us!" he told me. My heart of stone softened to a less hard stone, something porous that is easily eroded. If it weren't for the fact that she was declawed, I'd have been strong in my refusal to let this poor thing inside. But I saw her across the highway yesterday morning, which means she's risking that pretty little neck of hers by darting across traffic, and she's been begging to get inside our house since last Tuesday. Without claws, she can't defend herself against other animals... I'm still leery, though. Why was she lost? Did she run away? If that were the case, she wouldn't be far from home - our neighborhood is fairly isolated and is only two blocks of houses surrounded by miles of cornfields. But what if she was dropped off intentionally on Beggar's Night because she's a naughty cat - one who pees on the couch or barfs in the hallway so that you step in it on the way to the bathroom at night?

Even with these doubts, I begrudgingly told the family that she could come in temporarily. But we'd have to create flyers and send them around the neighborhood seeing if anyone lost her. She was obviously someone's cat... How did she end up in our neighborhood?

So the family immediately assumed that means we get to keep her. I suppose we will if nobody claims her and if she doesn't turn out to be an evil, horrible cat... They decided to name her Mabel, after our conversation at the BBQ joint. Bumblebee keeps calling her 'Maple' - which is almost a cuter name... She's been checking out the place, got a nice meal in her belly, and has Merlin and Jazzy all stirred up. Last night she tried to sleep in our bed. Uh-uh, no way... I tossed her onto the floor, so she cuddled up next to Bumblebee in her bed all night.

She really is a sweet thing. I'll be sort of sad if someone claims her... But don't tell my family that.

Jogging update: Today was my scheduled "long" run of 6 miles. Wednesday I slacked off and didn't run, so I made up for that run yesterday. I did 3 miles on Thursday, and the makeup 3 on Friday. Today I got on the treadmill to do my long run, and my legs responded with an emphatic, "Hell no!" I only got two miles in. Guess my legs aren't ready for three consecutive running days, especially when the last day is my long run. That'll teach me to screw up my schedule by being lazy... I'm bummed. But I will start fresh this week and hopefully I won't be lazy again.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Eyebrows and Stray Cats

Who can believe that it's November already? Sheesh.

I got my hair cut and my eyebrows waxed yesterday. I'd never had that done before. Well, I have had my hair cut before. Just not the eyebrow waxing thing.

I am in love with my new eyebrows. They are so shapely and not an errant eyebrow hair in place! And you know what? Waxing hurts WAY less than plucking. (Aside: plucking my eyebrows makes me sneeze - anyone else have this curious affliction?) In fact, the warm wax feels soothing on your brow up until the moment that the cloth is ripped off your skin. And even that doesn't hurt very much. Seriously! I love it. For $15, it's totally worth it.

The hair cut is nice too. She didn't go quite as far as I wanted her to with the layers, but I'll get her to cut more layers next time. I think I might have finally found a keeper of a hairdresser. I've only been looking for one for my entire life. But either the location wasn't good or the hairdresser was too chatty. I cannot stand hairstylists who talk the entire time they cut your hair. I'm a very talkative gal with my friends and family, but not so much with strangers. I would prefer to keep the conversation to a few polite comments about the weather and leave it at that. This gal was good - she recognized my preference to chill instead of jabber and went with it.

It's Friday! This week's been long. Not because I've had a busy week - I've actually been slacking at work, and that's totally going to bite me in the ass next week. It's just been a long week. So I'm glad that the weekend is almost here.

Update on the cat: it comes to our door every night and howls incessantly. A few times in the morning it's been there too. This morning I saw it about a half mile down the road (across the highway) so I'm starting to get nervous about the little thing. I'm not sure what to do... If I take it to the rescue league, it might get euthanized if nobody wants it... I do not want another cat in my house - especially this one since I know it likes to howl and whine a lot. Think I'll talk with my neighbors this weekend and see if anyone knows who the poor thing belongs to.

Argh! This blog post sucks. I'm sorry for droning on about eyebrows and stray cats.

(Ok - who has the Stray Cat Strut song in their head now?)

I don't bother chasing mice around
I slink down the alley, lookin for a fight
Howlin to the moonlight on a hot summer night
Singin the blues while the lady cats cry
Wild stray cat you're a real gone guy
I wish I could be as carefree and wild
But I got cat class and I got cat a style

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Does this Sound Familiar?

How weird is this? Last night was Beggar's Night, so I took Bumblebee trick-or-treating, while The Boy went out with a group of his zombie friends. In Iowa we do this the night before Halloween instead of on the holiday itself. I don't understand it either.

So anyway, my mother-in-law came up to go with us, and we had a great time. We noticed a cute little kitten following several groups of trick-or-treaters. I didn't recognize the cat, and felt kind of sorry for it. My MIL has a softer spot in her heart for cats than I do, and she tried to get it to stay out of the street and go home, she was afraid it would get hurt. But it ended up following another group of people, so we didn't end up doing anything about the kitten.

We got home and mentioned this to Hollywood and The Husband who'd stayed home to hand out candy. They told us about a different cat who had been trying to get into our house every time the door was opened to give the neighbor kids candy. Sure enough, this cat (a different one from the kitten we'd seen out and about earlier) was still hanging out on our front porch.

After I got the zombie cleaned up and turned into The Boy again, and gave the princess her bath, read her a story, and put her to bed, it was time for me to rest my weary feet and watch my TiVoed The Biggest Loser. As I sat there and watched the show, that dumb cat meowed over and over again for me to let it inside! The cat thinks it lives at our place.

I don't need another cat. I have one who is quite pleasant, though she sucks at mousing (we live about a hundred yards all around from cornfields, so field mice are an issue in the winter). I don't want or need another animal in my household. And I especially didn't want a cat meowing incessantly while I was trying to watch my favorite reality show.

So I 'sicked' the dog on the cat. Merlin had been itching to get out and chase that cat all night. So I opened the door and let her at it. (yes, Merlin is a female. Don't ask - that's a story for another day. The bottom line is that she had lumpy lady bits as a puppy and we were misled.) Now before anyone who is more animal friendly than I gets in a huff over me sending the dog out to get rid of the cat, you should know that Merlin would never actually hurt the cat, but she'd have fun chasing it away.

After I heard the dog run a couple of houses away, I called her back in. She happily came home and I thought my troubles were over. Not so. Less than a minute later, the cat was back at the window meowing over and over and over again.

Merlin was happy to help me with the problem, so I let her out to chase the kitty again. The dumb cat was back again a minute after we let Merlin in. When the third try with the dog failed, I gave up and turned up the volume on my show, finished it, and went to bed, thankful for once that The Husband sleeps with a fan blowing on his head. The fan at least blocked out the sound of the cat.

This morning, as we got up and were getting ready, the stupid thing was STILL meowing at us to let it in. I snapped a picture of it on our front porch:

Cute cat, I know. Someone should give it a loving home, and all that. But not me. I opened my garage door to go to work and the darned thing ran into the garage! It is bound and determined to get into our house!

As The Husband left to go to work, the cat trotted along behind him as he walked down the driveway to his van. After he left, the cat tried again to get into our garage. I had to shut the garage door to freak it out enough to get it to leave. And by leave I mean exit the garage, not actually go to wherever it belongs. It is still hanging around the house.

Isn't it freaky how we're being harassed by a cat on Halloween? Maybe it's someone's - what's that called when a witch has a cat that does it's work for her? Off to google. Back in a jiffy... Oh, WOW. When I googled 'witch's cat' I clicked on the first entry and got the following definition from urban dictionary:

witch's cat - Another name for unkempt, hairy female genitalia.

I did not expect that one!!! What I meant to find was the term "familiar." You know, an animal shaped spirit who serves for witchery.

Well, this post is going in a direction I didn't expect. So I'll end it with a picture of a princess, a zombie, and a teenager who didn't feel like dressing up last night: Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Toddler Theology

I guess Bumblebee is no longer considered a 'toddler' but I love alliterative titles, so I'm sticking with this one.

Bumblebee started religion class about a month ago. She loves it, partly because they basically hang out and do arts and crafts and singing, but also because it's the first activity that she gets to go to for herself. She's been dragged along to her brother and sister's sporting events, band concerts, school events, etc. since she was born. This is something she gets to do for herself. And she really seems to enjoy it.

I will admit, I haven't done a lot of foundation laying when it comes to religious education. We have bible story books that I've read to her, and we go to church. But we don't do a lot of talking about God and religion. So whenever she comes up with a good nugget like the one last night, I know it's her own mind drawing conclusions and not her parroting something I've said before.

Last night we were laying in her bed and I'd just read her bedtime story to her. She was chattering away, and was supposed to be quiet and settle into sleep. She just couldn't do it, though. She kept squirming and chattering away.

"Bumblebee, it's time to be quiet and go to sleep. Stop talking now." I sternly said.

She thought for a moment and said, "It's my brain that makes me talk, isn't it?"

I nodded and shushed her.

"Mama, I need to tell my brain to stop talking. Right?"

I nodded again.

"Mama?" she asked.

I didn't answer - I was keeping silent in the hopes that she'd follow my example.

"Mama. We're kind of like robots since our brains tell us what to do."

Silence from me still, but I was smiling now.

"And God is the owner of all of the robot people in the whole world, since he made us."

I had to give her props for that thought, so I gave her a big hug and told her to go to sleep.

I think it's interesting that she's thinking about God as our maker and how if our brains tell our bodies what to do, we're like little robots that God has around to do His work. And really, in a way, isn't that what we are?

Interesting thoughts.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I Will Forget This

I think I have early Alzheimer's. Honest to God, I forget everything. I can never remember where I park my car - I've had to call friends who went to lunch with me to ask where I parked my car on the way back into the office. I never remember where people's houses are, even if I've driven to them over and over again. I have to detail every last minute of my schedule into my calendar or I'm toast. I can't recall much about my childhood, and as far as I know, it was a good one - no memories to repress. My brothers remember things that happened and laugh and talk about it, and as they're recounting their stories, I just laugh and play along as though I remember. But in reality, I'm doing the same thing my Dad does when he didn't hear a question someone asked him. I just nod and smile.

It's embarrassing, really. The Husband will say something like 'don't you remember when we were looking at houses and we saw the one with the green stairs and the tricked out garage?' And I'll think for a minute and mentally reach as far back into my memory as possible, only to come up with nothing. I pretty much only remember the house we looked at that had a dirt basement, and the only reason I remember that house is that I'm convinced to this day that there was a dead body down there.

Even Bumblebee remembers things that I don't! She's only FOUR years old! "Mama, remember when we went twick-o-tweating and I was a spider and Grandma came along and we went to Gene's house and he didn't wecognize me?"

Uh, vaguely. Maybe. Or not.

And tv shows? Movie lines? Forget about it. My brothers will spend hours quoting movies verbatim. I have a good friend who remembers every Seinfeld episode ever. If I try to do that, I sputter things like "You want the truth?! You can't deal with.. or is it take? Maybe it's handle. Yeah, it's handle. You can't handle the truth!"

There are these great podcasts called Brain Teasers, Memory tricks, etc. They're supposed to help you exercise your brain to improve things like memory. So far, they haven't worked. One of them suggested I park my car in a different spot every day as sort of a calisthenic for my brain. It only ended up stressing me out and making me late for daycare pickup.

Anyone else struggle with this? What was I talking about again?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sometimes the Weekends are More Exhausting than the Weekdays!

I'm beat. It's 6:43 p.m. on Sunday night and I'm sitting in bed with my laptop. When I'm done writing this post (and uploading my weekends' pictures) I will likely read my book (The Boleyn Inheritance a juicy Tudor-England period piece by Phillipa Gregory) and go to sleep.

This weekend wore me out! Friday night was fairly uneventful - I did a little bit of work, some laundry, and I can't remember what else. My memory is so bad - you'd think Friday was years ago for as much as I remember about it!

Saturday was busy - I spent the morning working for a while followed by cleaning out the garage. What a mess that was - and it was all my mess, left over from when I was working on refinishing the table. Later in the day, The Husband took The Boy to the Iowa State football game, while I took the girls shopping. We went out to find a dress for Hollywood - she's a bridesmaid in my brother's upcoming wedding. We didn't find one. But we did find her a nice suit for her mock trial even that's coming up in a few weeks. The mall exhausts me anymore. Especially with the girls. Bumblebee was so well behaved, though! She was a trooper as we watched Hollywood try on dress after dress after dress. She kept freaking out other shoppers by popping out from behind the three way mirror in the dressing room and shouting "Boo!" And then she was dancing and singing some High School Musical song that I didn't know she knew the words to.

Saturday night I did some laundry and tried to get to sleep early so that I could be rested for the race I had this morning. But Hitch was on, so Hollywood and I watched it while I cleaned up my room - another large task. I don't know why I can't just hang my clothes up or put them in the laundry room. I keep the rest of the house in fairly good order, but our bedroom gets to be a complete pig sty, and then it stresses me out! After Hitch, that old Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell movie Overboard came on tv, so I watched it for a while. The part where Kurt Russell is wearing that cutoff t-shirt and he puts his thumbs into the sides of the shirt, revealing his pecs... Nice. Even with his 1980 style, he's yummy.

Ew - I used the word 'yummy' to describe something other than food. That reminds me of a play I was in when I was in junior high. Y'all didn't know I was theatrical, did you? Anyway, the play was about a bunch of princess sisters, but I totally don't remember the plot. I don't think it had a very memorable one to begin with, but we are at the mercy of my memory here, so of course that means that I've got nothing. I do remember that we had to wear old bridesmaid or prom dresses as our costumes. I played the sister-princess who said everything was 'yummy'. It was a terrible play, and the casting director (aka our drama teacher) chose me for the yummy part because I was chubby, and it makes sense that a chubby gal would call things 'yummy', right? Groan, that is soooo embarrassing to think about, even now. I was such a dork!

Sorry, minor digression. So this morning we ran our race. Hollywood and I joined my brother and sis-in-law to run the 5K that was being held at the Des Moines Marathon. The Half Marathoners finished as we were finishing the 5K and those guys were smoking by us. That's a pretty humbling experience, and I didn't think I could BE much more humble when it came to how I perform while running. It was a fun race, and I think that I beat my time from the race we ran two weeks ago. Here's a shot of us after the race. (Picture order is Hollywood, me, my brother E, and my sis-in-law K.) It was K's first 5K and she was nervous, but she totally smoked my ass at the end of the race. Which I knew she would - look at her legs! She's athletic and I'm not. But I'm cool with that. I, being the veteran racer that I am (my first race was 2 weeks ago), felt calm, cool, and collected before the race. It's why I had to hit the porta potty three times before we even started!


After the race, we came home, showered up, and headed to my MIL's house for lunch and a trip to the pumpkin patch farm. Here are some pictures of that - it was fun!

All of the kids (including my nieces and nephew):


Hollywood in front of the 'how tall this fall' pumpkin sign (holding up a 5 and a 1 because she's 5'1")


Bumblebee being buried in corn in the cornbox:


The Boy shooting out of the slide - it looks painful but he came off that thing laughing:


Me standing by the 'how tall for fall' sign:


After the trip to the farm, we headed back to my MIL's for pie and ice cream, and then headed home. I took a nice hot bath and am now sitting in my bed. Cozy, warm, and super sleepy... I wonder if I can stay awake until 8 p.m.

Friday, October 19, 2007

"I'm Not a Runner" Ad by Nike

This is funny! I love it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Award or Sucker Prize? You Decide...

I got this award at work. It's called the 'Superior Service' award. Several weeks ago, they blasted out this email campaign and hung up posters all around to remind folks to nominate someone for this special award. It's supposed to go to people who go 'above and beyond their normal call of duty to provide excellent service.'

I ignored the campaign, not because I don't see the value in giving people props for good work, but because I've been swamped and didn't have the time to consider a nominee and write up their nomination. I forgot about the campaign until the winners were announced in an e-mail on Friday. I blinked hard at my computer screen when I saw that I was one of them.

Cool, I thought. I'm special! I spent the next half an hour sending out 'thank you' emails to people who congratulated me on winning the award. Wow, people take this stuff seriously! I thought.

And then, I kind of forgot about the award again. But this morning I logged into my computer and my calendar reminder told me that I had a two hour 'meet and greet' breakfast. Ugh. Those of us who were chosen for this award had to sit in a room and meet everyone who came by to congratulate us. They really came by to get free coffee and breakfast, but that's ok. I like to mooch free food at work too, so I don't blame them.

So we were sitting in this conference room that has a c-shaped conference table in the center. The award winners were congregating around the room, talking to people, and meeting and greeting. The administrative assistant actually herded us into the center of the c-shaped table, so that when people walked through the room to congratulate us, we were stuck in the middle of the room. For TWO hours. One of my fellow award winners is a very sweet gal who was talking about the seventeen appetizers she's preparing for her husband's surprise birthday party this weekend. As she chatted along about her salmon puffs and cheese balls, I could not stop staring at her 'stache. I'm serious! She is a fair haired gal, so it wasn't dark, but boy was it furry. I was very distracted and ready for that two hour meeting to be done with.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of our superior service recognition day! We had lunch catered in as well. As we sat in the second meeting of the day, we were told that by winning this great award, we were automatically put on a special task force to come up with our departments' mission statement for excellent service.

Yep, that's right folks, we get to meet every other week for the next year to come up with new and exciting ideas on how to provide excellent customer service. I don't do customer service, so I'm not sure how I will contribute to this group, but it appears I have no choice in the matter.

So it's an award, but it's really another assignment, task, expectation, etc. Fun. On one hand, it's nice to be recognized, but on the other, it earned me six hours worth of meetings this week, and another hour every other week until next October. That's a lot of hours in meetings.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Dreary Monday

I'm in a foul, crabby, grouchy mood.

My throat hurts.

I'm starving and I want to eat food that is bad for me.

It's a dreary, drippy Monday.

I have many, many things to get done at work.

I didn't get my long run in this weekend.

. . .

I got to spend a lot of play time with my kids this weekend since we didn't have much going on.

I beat The Boy twice in chess yesterday.

I took a nap on Saturday AND on Sunday.

Hollywood is handling her punishment from last week with grace and good-humor.

I got to catch up with my best friend over the weekend - haven't done that in a long time.

I won an award at work - someone nominated me for my 'superior service'.

I don't have to pick anyone up from any kind of practice, or take anyone to any kind of event this evening.

I have my afternoon free of meetings, so I can actually get some work done.

. . .

See? More good than bad. I can always find more good than bad, even on a dreary Monday.

But my throat still hurts.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Quote of the Day

From Bumblebee as we were in the checkout line at Target this morning:

"Jinkies, Mama! They have Scooby Snacks at Target!"

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Socked in the Gut

Parenting is hard. I'm serious - it's WAY harder than I expected it to be. You don't want your kids to be unhappy, but you can't let them do whatever they want, so you set rules to keep them safe. And while you want them safe and sound, you also want them to experience life. I'm going to go deep here and quote Finding Nemo.

There's a part where Marlin is talking to Dory about his son Nemo, and he says "I promised I'd never let anything happen to him."

Dory replies with, "Hmm. That's a funny thing to promise. You can't never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo."

So you want things to happen to your kids, but nothing bad. I like this part of Nemo because it shows that you have to give your kids some room to grow and make their own experiences. I believe that this is important. Through their experiences and decisions, both good and bad, they grow as people, and hopefully they learn from their mistakes.

I'm going somewhere with this, I promise... Stay with me.

I think of myself as an informed parent, meaning that I try to know a lot about what's going on in my kids' lives. I keep an open dialog with them, we talk about all sorts of things, and I like that they can come to me and talk about anything. I try to give my kids room to grow up, experience life, and have fun. They are, after all - kids - and when else is the best time to have fun? But I'm also the kind of parent who sets rules and does my best to enforce them.

But with rules, come rule breakers. Kids break the rules. Sometimes it's accidental, an oversight. ("Mom, I'm sorry I'm fifteen minutes late - Joey's mom didn't tell me when it was 6 o'clock!"). But sometimes it's blatant, and conniving, and deliberate.

Hollywood did something yesterday that falls into the latter category. She's broken rules in the past, behaved badly, and done a million things to make me mad. But this is the first time I was more sad and disappointed than mad. I got that 'socked in the gut' feeling when The Husband and I, casually conversing about how our days went, realized what she'd done. I know it won't be the last time she errs in judgement and the result is extreme disappointment. But I can honestly say that it's the first time I've felt personally offended (my feelings were hurt!) by her actions. Sure, she was contrite and apologetic when she got caught, but the fact that she so brazenly threw our rules out the window was really hard to see. She violated our trust and I don't know how long it will take for her to earn it back.

So back to the Nemo reference, I so, so, SO want to act like Marlin and lock her up to keep her safe, and to... hell, to keep her from growing up, I guess. But I can't stop her from growing up anymore than I can stop the wrinkles from appearing near my eyes. I can't stop these errors in judgement from happening, I can only hope that she learns from them and doesn't continue to break the rules. I have locked her up temporarily, though. She got two full weeks of 'ultra-grounding' which means no cell phone, no computer, no friends, nothing.

I guess we all need to follow Dory's advice and sing "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming" to ourselves. Because that's about all we can do.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Another Running Partner

Last night I asked Hollywood if she'd run with me. She didn't feel like it, so The Boy piped up and said, "I will, Mom! I could use the exercise."

I had mixed emotions about it, because I selfishly wanted to get my 4 mile run in last night, and I knew that he wouldn't be up to running that far. But I decided that spending time with him, and promoting healthy activity would be better than getting my full 4 miles in - I could do that today if I wanted to. So we laced up and headed out.

It was a gorgeous night - a bit on the warm side for October, but breezy enough to make it comfortable. My plan was to start slow - we were going to run for five minutes then walk for a bit. But after five minutes he was doing great, so we kept going, setting goals for ourselves. We got to the water tower, which was about 3/4 mile from where we started to run, and I asked him if he wanted to walk.

"Nope, let's keep going." He said. We turned around and ran back to our original starting point, and still he didn't stop to walk. I was amazed - this kid can run! Yes, we were going slow, but still... He decided after we got to where we started (which meant we'd gone for about a mile and a half) that he wanted to run for 20 minutes without stopping. We only had to run for an extra two minutes to get to his goal. Then we walked.

I'm so proud of my little man! (Who isn't so 'little' these days...) He ran the mile a couple of weeks ago in school and had a 14+ minute time. He said he stopped to walk at least four times. I wonder if maybe he was running with one of his friends who needed him to stop, because last night he didn't have to stop to walk and we ran our route in about a 12:30 minute mile pace.

He's so cute - he kept thanking me for letting him come along. (I kept telling him that I was grateful to have a partner to run with!) We had fun on our run, and I think running is a great activity for him. I'm surprised he did so well, and can't wait to take him out the next time.

Ok, I know you people are probably sick of hearing me blog about running. I'll try to tone it down. :)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Monday

Howdy. It's been a while. I've been slacking on blog postings lately, but things have been really busy.

Saturday, Hollywood and I ran our Race For the Cure 5K. It was my first 5K and I finished in about 35 and a half minutes. Not speedy, but better than I'd have done a year ago... And, it was a really awesome event. My friend "J" from work ran it with me, and she really kept me from stopping to walk. Hollywood ran it with my brother and they finished in about 30 minutes. There were 22,000 people who participated in the race and walk. TWENTY-TWO THOUSAND people. It meant that before the race began, we all stood in line, crammed together, for several minutes. I'm amazed nobody got hurt when they shouted 'Go!' We kind of moved as a swarm of bees would for about a quarter of a block before we finally got some space in between us. At first, I felt like I was riding in a car driven by my Grandpa - EVERYONE was passing us! But revenge was sweet when slow and steady did indeed win the race because later in the race, J and I passed many of those people who'd flown past us at the start.

I am amazed at how many people are able to run! There were OLD, OLD, OLD people out there running! And young kids! Hollywood said that an 8 year old flew past her and ran the whole thing ahead of her. There was a man dressed up as Ronald McDonald, people dressed in tutus and superhero capes, all sorts of craziness. It was the perfect first race for me to run, because it was informal, and I didn't feel like a complete novice runner, even though I am a complete novice runner.

I'm now starting my slow training program for the 20K I'm going to try to run next spring. I'm going to do four runs a week. Two 30 minute runs, a 45 minute run, and a 60 minute run. I think those are good totals to build up a good baseline. Oh, and I'm going to lose these last 10-15 pounds. I really am. I must concentrate on eating right instead of eating whatever I want, just because I work out. It's time to get serious, because I know it would be easier to run these long distances if I weighed less than I do now.

I love the Public Service Announcements that are out there designed to get parents moving with their kids. I think it's sad to have to remind people to do that, but I sometimes can use the reminder, and I applaud the program. I try to get my kids to play outside with me when we have time. We love to walk the dog, go for a bike ride, or sometimes just play catch or work in the garden. But every once in a while I get in a slump where there are so many activities, that we slack off on the outside play time. So I do like the PSAs that remind me to get moving. Here's one of them that I saw on fitsugar.com:



Cute, isn't it?

I got Bumblebee a shirt that says "My Dad is the MAN." She loves it and wanted to wear it today. She's really starting to understand letters and all of that. She looked at the shirt and picked out the words 'My', 'Dad' and 'Man'.

My Packers decided to hand the sucky Bears a win last night, despite a good performance by my man Brett Favre. Sigh. It was painful, and even more so since I stayed up past my bedtime to watch it.

Well, that's about all I've got for today. Busy week ahead, as usual.