Thursday, February 19, 2009

I LOVE this Site

If you ever have a day that is full of crappy meetings and conference calls, head on over to Overheard in the Office's Website for some fun. (overheardintheoffice.com)

Seriously, it's funny stuff. Take this little tidbit, for example:

4PM Portrait Of Three Guys Who Have to Go to the U.S. to Meet Girls

Colleague #1: Pi is 3.14.
Colleague #2: You gotta be more accurate than that, it's 3.1415926536...
Colleague #1: No, that should be 535. If you're gonna use it as an example of accuracy...
Colleague #3: Maybe it was an example of irony? Ranting about accuracy and getting the 17th decimal place of pi wrong...

High Holborn
London
England


Wasting time at work doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Re-reading

I just finished an amazing novel. I’ll be writing up a book review for a later posting, so stay tuned on that. The book mentions the novel Jane Eyre several times, so I decided to read that again – I’ve read it before, but not for years, so it’s almost like a new read. I’m enjoying it so much! There are certain books that you can read again and again throughout your lifetime and pick out different points of view to identify with. Jane Eyre is one; timeless where human nature is concerned and rich in character development. East of Eden, my very favorite novel of all time is like this too. In fact, I think it’s about time for me to re-read that one too. It’s been a couple of years.

I don’t tend to read new fiction more than once. I’m not sure why, though. It’s the older, more classic novels that have moved me enough to read them a second or third time; the ones that might have been a bit tough to get through initially, either because the setting was unfamiliar to me, or the language was more dense than I’m used to. The second readings have been more rewarding, less challenging because I'd already blazed the trail in the first reading.

Having said that, there are a few contemporary novels that I’ve read over the past few years that I’d like to read again someday. Life of Pi is one. I'm not easily fooled, but I didn't see that ending coming. I will have to read it again to see what clues might be there that I missed during my first read. The Red Tent and Water for Elephants are others. The book I referred to at the opening of this post is another that I will definitely read again, if only to experience the sensation of the elegant prose wrapping itself around me like a warm blanket and transporting me to another time and place. (It was that good!)

That brings me to this question: Do you enjoy reading books for a second or third time? If so, do they tend to be the classics or contemporary novels? What book could you read countless times and not tire of?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tidbits About the Kidlets

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Bumblebee:


Bumblebee has the honor of placing the tithe envelope into the collection basket at mass. On Sunday, she examined the envelope and asked me if it was a 'special' dollar bill that was in there. I usually enclose a check, but put cash in there this time, so I wasn't sure where her question was leading. I explained that it was a regular bill, nothing special. She looked up at me, with those serious, inquisitive eyes, and nodded her head towards the men who were collecting the baskets at the end of the pews.

"How are those guys going to get that money up to God if it's just a regular dollar?" She asked.

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The Boy:

My little man isn't so little these days. He'll be 12 in a few weeks. Yesterday he wasn't feeling well, so I worked from home while he rested all day. It was nice having him at home with me, even if he did sleep most of the day. He was feeling much better towards the end of the day, and he told me about a song that he wrote.

I asked him to sing it to me and he did, though he said he'd only finished the chorus. His inspiration for music is, sadly, his father's old heavy metal cassette tapes. So it didn't surprise me that the song he sang had an Iron Maiden-esque flavor to it. I believe the song was called, "Fight No More".

There's nothing quite like a heavy metal song about death and fighting being sung by the sweetest little voice you'll ever hear. I much prefer the style of the Latin song that he's practicing for honor choir, but I'll never tell him that.


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Hollywood:


She's got my back. The Husband was giving me a neck massage the other night and he pointed to a gray hair of mine.

Hollywood's instant response was: "You've got WAY more of them than she does, Dad."

And, here's the transcript of a text conversation Hollywood and I had yesterday. It doesn't show the best side of my daughter, but it cracked me up. Which probably says a lot about me too, when you think about it:

H: So I'm here in chorus and we're picking solos for our Wicked songs... Some of these girls are so horrible, I want to kill a bab(text is cut off at this point.)

M: You want to kill a baby?!! Argh!

H: I want to rip out these girls' voice boxes.

M: Hee. You're mean.

H: At least I can sing.

M: True.

H: Unless I'm like some of these girls who think they can but they actually can't to save their life.

M: No. You're good for real.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dessert

I am such a mean mom.

We don’t have dessert often, but when we do, I make my kids eat most of their dinner before I allow them to eat it. Gasp. I know – the horrors! Told you I was mean!

A few weeks ago, Bumblebee wanted to make a recipe in her kids cookbook, so we bought ingredients for an orange juice and ice cream float. We made it once (it wasn’t great) and the rest of the ice cream has been in the freezer since.

Bumblebee has been hounding me about that ice cream ever since. It’s a real obsession for her. She absolutely will not let an evening go without commenting on that ice cream.

“Mom, can I have ice cream for dessert?” She’ll ask, a plate full of dinner that she hasn’t touched sitting in front of her. The kid lives on bread and butter; getting her to eat meat is near impossible.

When I explain that no, she can’t have ice cream if she won’t eat her dinner, her eyes will fill with tears, and she'll say:

“Mom! You’re wasting perfectly good ice cream by not letting us eat it.”

Last night, after lamenting the wasted ice cream yet again, her tears suddenly stopped, as a new idea formed in her brain. She scowled at me and muttered, “Probably you’re just saving it for yourself.”

Gack! She’s on to me! I purposely make dinner that she hates so that I can deny her ice cream for dessert and keep it for myself. Where’d I put my pointy hat and cauldron?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

My Town Monday

Travis, over at One Word, One Rung, One Day, has been doing a regular themed post called My Town Monday for quite a while now. I have put off writing about my town because I couldn't decide which town to write about: the town where I went to high school, the one I attended college in, the city I lived in for years, or the tiny town I live in now… I finally settled upon the last option. Today I’ll attempt to articulate what small town life means to me.

******

When my husband and I bought our first house in the ‘big city’, we knew it wasn’t where we wanted to stay forever. It was a nice first home, but the city life just wasn’t for us. Maybe we realized that when our son wandered away from home one day at the tender age of two. He walked past several of our neighbors who did nothing to stop him, before a stranger who lived four blocks away finally rescued him from going towards one of the busiest streets in the city. Perhaps we decided to move after we watched the 120 pound Rottweiler named Tiny, who was forever tied to a tree in the yard next door, toss a squirrel up in the air repeatedly. Playing catch, only with a small animal instead of a ball. For my husband, it was the thought of the kids attending high school with 2500 students. He grew up in a small town and this idea was foreign and unwelcome to him.

So it was a relief to us when a house that fit our price range was listed for sale in a tiny town 25 miles north of the big city. And I really do mean tiny. In the 2000 census, Alleman had 439 people. Our town has no grocery store, bar, bank, convenience store. We don’t get pizza delivery and there’s no fast food. We do have lots and lots of cornfields, a school, a co-op, and a café that caters to the local farmers, and is open for breakfast on a very irregular schedule. We also have four very tall blinking television towers – the only landmark that helps explain to Iowans where our town is located:

On the day that we moved in, we received two loaves of banana bread, a plate of cookies, a house plant, and some lemon bars from the neighbors. They came over one by one to say hello as we unpacked the moving truck, feeding their curiosity about the newcomers. I could hardly believe it – we’d only barely known our neighbors in the city. This was something else!

It wasn’t totally Mayberry, though. In the city, we'd let our dog roam free, since she was very good about staying close to our home. We gave that a try in our new house, until our next door neighbor, a crusty retired police chief who was meticulous about his lawn, told my husband, “I’m pretty easy to get along with, but I won’t tolerate dog shit in my yard, so keep that dog of yours away.” So, poor Merlin didn’t get to roam free anymore, but she did get to go on plenty of walks.

Our neighborhood sits a mile to the south of the actual town of Alleman. It consists of two streets, one long straight road, and a curved street that connects with the straightaway on both ends. It’s perfect for a walk. The loop around the neighborhood is 0.7 miles, so a couple of times around is just right for an after dinner stroll. Our youngest daughter was born a month after we moved in, and I would walk the kids and the dog around the neighborhood to help work off some of that baby weight. In the process, I met many of our neighbors.

There’s the woman who lives with her aging parents and has two giant poodles, a black one and a white one. She’s very active in politics, always pushing the fringe candidates. This year, she put pamphlets about an unknown presidential candidate into the goodie bags of the trick-or-treaters. She once gave me two grocery sacks full of daffodil bulbs.

And there’s the neighbor who shares the back border of our property. He’s a character – a compact, leathery man who spends his summer days either in his garden or his garage, always listening to a game with a can of beer within reach. My kids adore him, and I never need to buy tomatoes or peppers in the late summer because he keeps my fridge stocked.

An old man, I don’t know his name, takes a walk faithfully every day. His left side is weak, and he needs the help of a cane, but he’s out there for his walk, even when it’s cold outside. He’s not a talker, but he nods and smiles when we pass him. I’ll be sad when I don’t see him walking anymore.

Then there are the children... Teenagers, toddlers, boys, girls. My older kids play sardines in the darkness of the summer nights, and my youngest has two best friends who live next door. On a warm day, you can drive through the neighborhood and see families barbequing, with their kids playing in the bright green grass. Children on bicycles dart through the streets, ponytails flying behind them. In the cold of winter, you’ll see snowmen and angels, forts and tunnels created in the snow. Any hill you spy will have sled tracks snaking down it. This is the perfect place for kids to grow up.

My commute to work is longer than before, it adds time to my workday. I have to deal with traffic and the freeway, and when gas prices were high, it pinched our wallet. It takes me half an hour just to run to grab a gallon of milk if we run out. The school district is made up of four combined towns, so I do a lot of driving to taxi my kids to their friends’ houses and their activity practices.

Though I miss many of the conveniences of big city life (what I would give for Chinese food delivery!!), we will never go back. The benefits outweigh the inconveniences, and we feel like we’ve found an oasis of old fashioned life hidden away from the modern bustle of the rest of the world. Alleman is our home, and we have created a nice life here among the other 434 people around us.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bliss

Today. Was. Awesome.

It was fifty-some degrees and sunny outside.

I'm not sore from my kickboxing class, which might mean that I'm starting to build some strength in these wimpy muscles.

We had two basketball games to go to, and Hollywood and The Boy both played well. The games were done by 12:30, so we had the rest of the day completely free.

What did I do with my time? Did I fire up my laptop and put in some more hours at work? Did I clean my messy house? Did I run errands, get caught up on organization, do my taxes, my bills, or my laundry? No!

I took a nap with Bumblebee.

A three hour nap. (Crap. Now I have Gilligan's theme song in my head. "...a three hour tour..." )

And then I spent the rest of the evening continuing my not-so-secret love affair with Edward the vampire. I only have 100 or so pages of Breaking Dawn left. I hyperventilate every time I think of the book being finished, so I purposely stopped reading tonight so that I have another day to read.

Pure bliss. I needed a day like today...