Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ok, I'm just going to do it: VOTE FOR ME!


Alice in the Palace: The Real Life Story of a Part-Time Princess

This contest is for me to get published electronically.  In addition, my daughter's elementary school will get a full blown electronic picture book library for free!  The company is called MeeGenius and this is what they specialize in, electronic picture books.

My story is a real story, about a princess.  I hope it conveys the fact that princesses aren't about being pretty and getting the prince, but about doing the right thing and not worrying about your looks.  My critique group said they liked it because it wasn't about being a pretty princess, cancelling out all those princess stories out there.

I am so far behind the top vote getter, I don't think I'm going to make it to the final round.  That round would let me be edited and get pretty pictures.  I just would really, really, really like to get my book edited and illustrated, just to see what it's like, for once.  Although, I'm not going to scrap the book.  It could probably use a lot more work.  But I think the idea is solid and could maybe be sold.  I know I can and need to get better.  Maybe I'll go to my picture book guru and see if she'll give me a critique.

But, if you find it in your heart to post it with your 1000+ blog followers and tell them to all go vote for mine, just to make my dream come true, I would be eternally grateful.  I might even knit you some wrist warmers.  Because I've picked that up in my spare time, too.

From Lion Brand website

Monday, November 28, 2011

What am I doing with my time?

What am I doing with my time, you wonder?  I guess living up the forties.  So many firsts.

Started my first weight training program.  Never would have thought of myself as a weight lifter.  I am going to be STRONG. No joke.

Started coaching a Future Problem Solving team.  First time ever.  Future Problem Solving, you ask?  Well, click the link and find out more about it.  I knew as much about it as you know right now.  But it is a pretty cool process.  And I work with some pretty cool sixth grade kids.  Yes, sixth graders?!  Can you believe it?  They are neat little people though.

Started my first year as the mother of a middle schooler.  Oh, boy.  It is simpler and more complicated.  He seems challenged enough.  We are.  I feel a little more lost.  But he still gives me hugs and doesn't mind holding my hand in public still, so I feel blessed.

Got our first Wii!  Well, ok, it's not the first gaming system in our house, but we finally joined the rest of the world.

Bought a new camera, the first time in years!

When the casing is falling off in pieces from your old camera and has been doing so for about 24 months, you really should bite the bullet and get something else.

Joined my first writer's organization AND attended a writing retreat!  SCBWI and SCBWI-Wisconsin is an awesome place to be involved.  We loved our critiquer and her points on our book were fabulous and just the push we needed to work harder on it.  We're still working on it, but now, we understand that books take YEARS.  Yes, YEARS.  When one lady says one of her picture books was twelve years in the making, well, we've been at it about 3 and a half, so we still have a lot of work to do.  People on the writing websites say join the groups, attend the conferences and get out there and meet people!  They are so right!  You just have to quit hiding in your little writer's desk and go to the conferences.  Of course, yes, that's putting money out there before you even get published, but all those who are experienced are willing to help and be your cheerleading section.  And you meet other new people, who are so fresh and excited and you can be excited with each other.  Who knew there were so many fascinating stories to be told?

Speaking of stories to tell, I also pushed myself and wrote a picture book (in addition to the middle grade I am working on with the best author partner in the world, yes I'm biased).  I entered it in a contest!  The book is found here and if you like it, please pass it around the blog-o-sphere and encourage your friends, family, relatives and the guy down the street to stop by my story page and "like" it too!  Click the caption below for more on the rules and MeeGenius!
MeeGenius! rules and website

Thanks for playing!!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Edith Wharton: American Jane Austen?

Edith Wharton, writing nearly a century later than Jane, is what I believe to be a cynical version of Jane Austen. At least in the House of Mirth.  She can write about the nuances of behavior and looks, the confusion between men and women about love, power, or intent in the confines of society rules.  But I find Edith a bit more cynical.  I don't believe she means for her heroine to triumph, even though I'm only 1/3 of the way through the novel.  We shall see.  But I would recommend checking out her works.  Next on my list is the Age of Innocence.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Horrible Histories

My new favorite past time (ha, ha, no pun intended) is watching clips from Horrible Histories, a British children's show about the icky and creepy stuff from the past.

Be sure to check out all the offerings on YouTube you can find. It will entertain you for hours!

Monday, September 5, 2011

For someone who loves historic clothing of all kinds

Only thing I wish they did in this video was to label the slower version with the actual years they were hitting as they danced back to 2011.  Otherwise this is a fun romp.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Thinking me like the new Blogger interface

I am getting sucked into more computer media.  I've been using the new Blogger interface (what the hell, be an early adopter) and find it is fascinating to get a look at which posts have gotten the most views.  So much easier than trying to use a site counter.  Now I know which posts have attracted the most looks.  Funny.  I will have to send the Blogger folks some feedback.  Maybe this will get me back in the game.  I was going to be all chronically about my life as a forty-year-old.  Turns out pretty much like a 39 year old.  So it's been hard to see where I should go with this blog.  Maybe the new feedback info will help.

Look out world.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Questions of balance

Some days, I feel I'm a lazy mom.  I was just reviewing what I did, or did not do, with my kids the week I had off before school started.  I am afraid I just let them veg in front of the TV or with a video or computer game for too long.  I had no gumption to get out of my pjs before noon.  I spent too much of my time letting them do whatever with each other with electronics.  Usually, I let this get to me, but that week, I just let go.  I was tired from work and let my brain rot.  Rot on reading FB posts, emails and strange internet news.  Wandered around the house organizing small piles of stuff here and there.  Catching up on DVR shows.  Reading several different books at once: a guidebook on Maui, a book about weight training and the House of Mirth.

About noon I would realize I needed to get dressed and "do something."  And maybe feed my kids lunch.  Most days, lunch came at 1:30 pm.  I did take them to a museum and we spent quite a bit of time there.  They did have soccer practice at 5 pm several days that week, so I guess I felt justified in letting them veg in front of the TV.  Three days that week, I also got them to the pool and one day my daughter and I went to the farmer's market.  So I did make an effort to get us away from the house.  Just not really hard.

So I know other people who talk about writing in gratitude journals, taking walks at sunrise for inspiration, taking time to think and ponder on the meaning of life, finding time to exercise, wanting to make sure that they spend as much time as they can as a family without TV, video, or computer.  I feel a pang of guilt, because I feel I am not being a deep person, not making life meaningful for my children, not facilitating their sense of self and spirituality.  I feel guilty that I'm not spending more time with them.

Then I realize, I wouldn't be happy doing that.  I can't sit and be emotional and spiritual in front of my children.  I have to be matter of fact, open and honest but matter of fact.  Logical and straight from the hip.  I also want my me time, which, I guess, for me, is to spend some time on the computer web surfing.  I surf for information, often reading news articles and Wikipedia, for questions that come up.  I relax by watching goofy SyFy shows and just letting my brain turn to mush.  I don't want to spend every waking minute with my kids, I want them to find ways to entertain themselves.  Maybe they need to see me doing more reading, like when I lost an hour just reading about Maui and suddenly realized I should shower and work on lunch.

I ponder life's problems driving to work, always.  I have composed some awesome blog posts in my head.  But as soon as I get to work, they are forgotten, because I must deal with the mundaneness of work.  I probably get enough time to wonder as I drive to/from work and maybe I don't need to write it all down.  It is enough to think it through in my head.  I defy being there every minute for my kid and embrace the lazy parenting attitude. 

Come to think of it, when I was kid, I was outside, wandering the front and back yard and next door parking lot.  I don't remember spending a lot of time playing with my parents in elementary school.  They were doing whatever parents do and it didn't make a good or bad impression on me.  It just was.  So I think we have some time yet to get it all in and I'm not going to sweat the small stuff.  It will come when it needs to and will shape our family life however it can.  They will grow up how they are supposed to.

Because that is just how it is.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Nostalgia: that's what all those posts are for

Did a little look through my "favorites" and I decided I chose well. They reminded me of times and stories I hadn't thought about in a long time. So maybe that's what the blog is for, to look back, laugh, be glad I recorded it somewhere and to come back to it time and time again. Sigh, dream of the sweet days gone by. They were soooo cute, but they can be something else even now. The oldest and I sat down and reviewed the middle school handbook. I'm one of those parents who does exactly what the letters from the principal says to do. Goes over the handbook *with* my child. It was a good time to discuss what could, might, or what he should expect to happen and to have him declare that he would get A+'s only and he would never, ever end up in anything other than Honor Level One (which means no demerits. Really? They use demerits at this school?). We read all the classroom policies he brought home, signed all the papers promising he would abide by teachers' rules and I would be the back up to enforce that he abide by teachers' rules. Then I had him stuff them back in his backpack. For Tuesday. Yes, I'm an overachiever. I'm going to finish MY homework ahead of time, so I can relax and enjoy the weekend (well, Monday anyway, I am working the next two days.).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

First day of school

I am just blown away by the fact that my oldest is in middle school.  This should not come as shock, there are people who I know with their youngest leaving for college, but still, I am probably more nervous about middle school than he is.

My favorite comment about middle school from him today was that "It isn't like on TV where there's a lot of bullies in middle school."  Good call, my dear boy, I think we need to talk about fact vs. fiction again.

The other thing I had to get over was that they are now in two separate schools until he is a senior and she is a freshman.

More passages this year.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The insanity

Nearly twenty years ago, I took this test, in anticipation of taking school to the next level: a master's degree.  Here I am, so many years later, signing up to take the GREs.  This, in anticipation of possibly, maybe, going ahead with a doctorate.  I think I might be insane.

Differences: Now the test is on a computer.  The price has gone up exponentially.  I can take the test not on a Saturday.  My brain has not been in the school mode for at least 12 years.  I am a little more freaked out.

Worst part is that I did, actually, amazingly well the last time.  I wish I could have just kept that score.  Unfortunately, they let them expire after five years.  So, I am worried that I will not do so well.  Don't we lose brain cells every year?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ah, me!

Yes, where has a whole month gone by.  I was going to get all excited about being forty.  Being forty means living up to responsibilities, which is working so that I can have health benefits for my family.  And work I did.  I am getting too old to do so many weekend days.  I'm just tired of being a weekend worker.  I should have known better working in museums.  Our visiting public is on the weekends.

Instead, let's think of nicer things: lovely CSA (community supported agriculture) foods that are no longer mostly salad greens.  The first beets of the season, roasted on the grill, sliced and served with a shallot, red wine and balsamic vinegrette and feta cheese.  Son taking on his first triathlon, finishing and not last, as he hoped.  Siblings offering to organize another family trip to Hawaii (oh, how we all adored Hawaii and together!).  Husband doing so much better after some major surgery.  He is a trooper and I love him for taking on the challenge so that he can eventually feel so much better.  Getting on the bike again after too long.  The super heat ending, somewhat.  I hope it stays down for the next few days.  Starting in a writing group, making me read, share and critique.  Reading new YA books.  Deciding to read the House of Mirth, it's good to keep up with the classics.  Daughter enjoying her Laura Ingalls Wilder day camp.

Ah, that's better.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Recovering from my 40th birthday week!

Oh, yesterday I had to go back to work.  (boo)  I had spent the last week and a few days with family and friends and enjoyed it all.  It started with a trip back to my home state.  I met up with my sister and her daughter and our cousin who is my sister's age and her family during a nice downtown concert.  After Chipotle, a playgym and some rocking ice cream I headed back to the hotel with the kiddos.  We continued with the celebration of my brother's marriage to a really great gal, which was a nice time, but all too short.  My dear sister and one of her daughters rode back with me and my kids in the car.  That was a fun trip.  A bit long, but we took breaks for gas and Cold Stone, and a Subway pit stop.

The week was anything goes.  The kids had summer school, so my sister and her kid got up at leisurely hours.  We did things a toddler could handle, walks to the swing and to the park, playing in the backyard, pulling out trains from my son's toddler days, riding tricycles and bikes.  My kids, being 6 and 9 years her senior, did surprisingly well with a small toddler cousin (who is only just two and can tell you in whole paragraphs about anything and everything, which floored me).  A run to the tattoo place (which you already know), a visit to an indoor pool (hey, it may be summer, but it still is Wisconsin), a few naps, mommy bike rides and mommy runs and a couple of visits to our favorite ice cream place.

And the late nights.  My sister and I come from a night owl, our mother.  Our brother also seems to have gotten this gene.  If we could all get up at 10 am and stay up until 2 am, I think we'd feel we had it made.  (My poor dad falls asleep by 8 pm, but is up and  at them by 5 am.)  Good thing I didn't have to work, but I did have to get up somewhat early as I had to send a couple of kids off to summer school on time.  I drank a lot of iced coffee this week.  But those late nights were good for reconnecting and discussing all sorts of kid raising issues, friends, old times, things we remembered.

Your siblings and parents have known you the longest and at your youngest.  Though we change as we grow older, there's something comforting knowing that someone knew you "before."  What you liked and disliked, how you acted as a kid.  They may have changed, but still things stay the same.

My birthday rolled around and I had a brother, a sister-in-law, a sister, a brother-in-law, two nieces, two kids of my own, a husband and friends from way back, friends who are tight with me now, and newer friends that are gracious and fascinating.  Not everyone could show up and they were missed, but it was the right amount and right mix of people.  We had a great time at the park, all the kids that came got along very well and the set up and take down was so easy with all my relatives at hand.  My high school friends sent me my "over-the-hill" flowers, which made me smile. 

One of my very best college friends made the trip with her family, which was fantastic since the last time we saw each other might have been two years ago.  People came and went with food and we nearly got rid of all the cake the first time around. 

It was a great way to start the forties.

The night ended late, as only we siblings can do.  The kids were in rare form, making up dance recitals and plays, while the adults gathered at the kitchen table to reminisce about childhoods, giving away family secrets to spouses, gentle teasing and literal ribbing.  The next morning, before all my siblings and spouses left, we took pictures. 

Now, you will note that me and my siblings seem to be on the short side.  That is correct.

And you may note that our spouses are on the tall side.  That is also correct.

 I think we all had some innate need to even out the gene pool.

I am contemplating that maybe my career should be in getting together with my family and friends.  Life would be perfect, then.  There's just this little thing called money (and health benefits) that would not be forthcoming with that lifestyle.  I need to keep looking.  If I could combine a career with a way to get to see my family and friends every day, or at least once a week, I might find what I'm looking for in life.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fabulous Forty

John Cougar Mellencamp, I'm sorry, but I think you got it wrong:

"Oh, yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone....  Hold on to sixteen as long as you can..."

Don't hold on to sixteen as long as you can.  It gets better and better.

And the thrill of living is just getting started.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I think this qualifies as slightly wild

Having kicked off my week of celebrating with visiting my cousin (makes you feel like a kid again), celebrating my brother's marriage to a really great woman at a reception dinner, bringing my sister and one of her girls home to stay with me for the week, I continue with my birthday week celebration with the following:

Wild Child indeed. 

Monday, June 13, 2011


Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.

-Attributed to Nathaniel Hawthorne and/or Henry David Thoreau in various forms.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What evolutionary purpose does this have?

Why is it, when my son, who completed fifth grade this year, walked across the stage and took his certificate of completion from his teacher, that I teared up like I was going to cry forever?  Why did I feel an ache and sadness while watching the slide show of pictures of the whole school of fifth graders with pictures of my son at various stages in his elementary school career, including the one where he and his sister pose in front of the school sign on her first day of kindergarten?  Why does my throat lump up as the principal and teachers tell the kids how great they've been and how great they'll all do in middle school?

Shouldn't I be so happy that he's growing into a responsible young man and is ready for his next level of development?  That he's going to take his challenges and manage them well?  What makes me so sad and weepy?

At this rate, I am going to need a box of tissues and permission to bawl my eyes out when he graduates from high school, and when he gets married, I may need some people holding me up.

PS--I don't remember such a fuss being made of me finishing sixth grade (which was the top grade in elementary back when I was a kid).  Maybe it didn't impact me all that much.  We'll have to check with my mom and see if she was weepy.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Stupid number

So, I am trying to be all positive about that number 4-0.  I feel great.  For the most part.  There are maybe a few aches and pains that surprise me.  Recovery time maybe takes a little longer from some exercise, but that could just be I'm not in the top shape I could be.

I don't think I look much different from my 30s and 20s.  There's a wrinkle here and there, or a sag, but on the other hand, I am a mother and going to be 40, so I should forgive these.  And I should also remember that no one notices what I see.

Logically I tell myself to not be obsessed with images, numbers, age.  I should work from what I have and make it the best it can feel: healthy and strong.  Compare myself to myself and remember I am a forty year old and that's exactly where I should be.

As one friend put it, we should all be so lucky to arrive at forty.  She's damn right.  There are a few acquaintances, high school classmates that didn't.  I should be thankful and thankful for the many more years that I hope to look forward to.  And take my own advice and use up the body for what it was meant to.  Gather the wisdom and stay healthy and strong.

Youth is wasted on the young.  Old age should not long for the looks of youth, but use the wisdom to create a healthy and happy life to be enjoyed to the fullest.

'Bout time I take my own advice.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Oh, I'm so addicted

Somebody stop me.

First I bought this:

But to use that, I wanted the shoes:

And of course with the shoes I need the cleats and the right pedals:

I had a bad dream that I could never click into the pedals properly.  You'd think I'd be more worried about falling down.  But then I fell down.  I had to literally get back in the saddle and get over that fear.  I also started not being able to click in properly.  Finally it helped that the local bike shop loosen the parts on the pedals that hold the cleats.  By the way, if you bike with any regularity and without the cleats, I highly suggest getting the cleats.

I rode (without cleats) about 10 miles back in April.  Cold, but I loved it, but really should have been carrying a water bottle.  So I had to get the water bottle carrier:

After that ride, which was my longest on the road up to that point, I also felt pretty butt sore.  I hadn't been in my spinning classes (I've been taking since January), so I thought I was fine.  But, I had to go and buy the biking shorts with padding.  (The matching shirt didn't hurt either, love those colors) Bliss:

I also had really numb hands after my first long ride.  My friend loaned me some on the next ride, so I had to get my own pair.  Got a mirror, got a carrier for the front of my bike and finally added a kick stand because I got tired of leaning the bike up against things.

Nobody tell my husband.  However, since he's done reenacting in the past, I'm sure his bill for his two guns (here and here and this is not including his historic clothing or camp gear) came to more than what I've spent up to now.  Maybe some glasses to protect my eyes?  I already had the helmet.

Somebody stop me.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thinking about forty

People sometimes get all worked up about twenty and thirty, but I think we can all agree forty is quite the milestone.  It's ever present in my life, because my high school class is all going through it at the same time.  Facebook makes that fact ever present.  I think that's great.  I don't feel so bad, because we are all in the same boat.  It's allowed me to make it a bit of fun, too.

When I was a senior in high school (still sweet seventeen) myself and the three other girls who were seniors in the show choir got wind of the fact that our music teacher was turning forty.  We got the date, which, I believe was a Monday.  We made a plan.  We got the band teacher in on it.  We gathered our forty decorating supplies and waited in the school parking lot the night before.  Our band teacher arrived and let us in the music room.  We filled the office with black streamers and black balloons and signs all over the room proclaiming his age to the whole world.  One of my sneaky friends had ordered a "dead bouquet" which was black roses with a stuffed bird hanging upside down on a limb (get it? dead bird).

The next day, we made sure we were by the music room bright and early.  He was quite surprised.  He took it in stride.  Then we were gathered for our show choir class during the lunch hour period.  The bouquet arrived.  He was flustered, but appreciative.  We 17 and 18 year olds thought we were so clever.

Now, here we are 22 years later.  Um, now we know what forty feels like.  Some of us take it in stride.  Some of us are hesitant about this number.  Some of us are ready to celebrate this milestone like crazy.  I cooked up a plan with two of the three others.  We found our own "dead bouquet" (which are very hard to find now, I was disappointed, but mine came from Gifts for Geezers, whew!) and we all pitched in and sent it to our first victim who turned forty on New Year's Day.  She was a bit hesitant about the number, but appreciated the bouquet and told her husband the story of making our music teacher's wonderland of forty decorating.  It made her smile.  Two more have had their birthdays.  Lucky me! I'm the one left.  I'm expecting nothing less than the "dead bouquet."

I'm all about that quote:
Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand - strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming: WOO HOO, WHAT A RIDE!

I am looking at the number 40 and thinking, dang, I have a whole lot more I can do and accomplish and it doesn't have to be professional.  I need to get a tattoo.  I need to ride RAGBRAI.  I need to spend more time decompressing and enjoying my family and friends. I need to spend more time on writing and working on PUBLISHING, even if it starts with just a magazine.  I need to save for my quilt/tea shop, so I can open one (hey, I don't have any plans for my 50 decade yet).  I need to get more involved in my community, state, and nation, because professional politicians are not getting the job done, and if I don't do it, who will?

I am hitting this decade running and I hope to leave it proud.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Woman Never Tells Her Age

Yeah, right.

I am nearing that magical age of forty.  Not quite there yet, but it is at the end of the month.  Fabled as the middle ages (this assuming that I am living until 80, but with the family genes of women in my family living until the 90s, doesn't quite work for me), I am excited about this decade.

Everyone can pshaw me.  I have a complex about being treated as younger than I am.  I will say, I know I look younger, which is fine in social situations and not an issue for me.  Usually this bugs me most in a work situation.  It is getting more fun to say I'm in my late thirties, but still, I get the "you're still young" statement at work more times than I can count.  In my twenties, I thought, fair enough, but I do have ideas I would like to try.  In my early thirties, sure, I've only been out of grad school for 5-10 years, I need to get some time under my belt.  But now I'm starting to get a bit peeved.  How many years should one expect to be in the work force to get respect for experience?  So I keep thinking that maybe 40 is the magical number.  That this is the time that people will say, "Ok, yeah, she's been around the block a few times."  On the other hand, I have always worked with people older than me, so I guess they deserve to lord their years of experience over me.  But I would like them to acknowledge that I have spent enough time in my business to warrant a nod of recognition that I do know what I am doing, on occasion.

This has been a fun year on Facebook.  Old high school pals and acquaintances have been turning 40.  I've been trying to say witty and fun things for everyone's 40th birthday.  I think we all should embrace the 40 and run with it.  So many sayings about 40 is the new 20 and all that.

I have noticed, once the kids got older, it leaves more time for mom and dad to look back to themselves again.  I have a goal to participate in the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) next year.  I've done spin classes since January and try to get in 2-4 bike rides a week.  I'm impressed with myself in staying power in tackling 20+ miles.  I know I need to boost this number by quite a lot, but I'm very psyched about what I've started.  I think my son was inspired enough that he is going to sign up for a youth triathlon.  I'm almost thinking about doing it.  I never believed I was an athletic person in jr. high and high school.  Now I believe that maybe people like me might have responded better, if I hadn't been compared to my peers' abilities, but instead compared to my own abilities and that improvement over time was emphasized instead of trying to get me to beat the fastest people in class.  Seeing improvement in oneself is a great reward already.  It might be more motivating to kids rather than comparison to each other.  (I suppose that might also apply to learning)

Hitting this decade also makes me a bit reflective.  What have I done with my life until now?  What haven't I done that I used to do, that I should do more of?  What really matters?  Should I be doing more to improve the world, or is improving my part of the world, no matter how small, enough?

Nostalgia also hits.  I sometimes wish I could have told my teenage self that the things I cried over were really not worth it in the end, because they didn't matter in the long run.  But that is what age is for, to understand what is not worth it in the long run and to pare down your life into what is really worth it.

I'm taking you with me on this journey of hitting the big 4-0 from before the big day to beyond.  Let's see what this 40th decade is all about.  I am going at it with a cando attitude and challenging ideas of myself that may not be totally true and need to be changed.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spring Cleaning at Work

So, how satisfying is it to clean out your email?  Actually, quite a bit.  I was using 160MB of my mailbox.  I went through the inbox and sent mail portions, then went and deleted it out of the deleted box and cut it down to 75 MB.  Lots of email from the second half of last year that I hadn't had a chance to clean out.  Then I went through files.  When you move office, you find you have a number of files that you need to comb through and whittle down.  Most of yesterday I spent shredding a lot of those files (yes, it was sensitive information) for about four years worth of stuff.  So I didn't accomplish much of anything else (filled the shredder about five times though), but it was satisfying to get my office less full of boxes and putting the files away.

Now, if I could just get that feeling about the papers laying around my house.  They just keep coming.  School papers, ads from the mail, bills, stuff I need to make a decision or take action on.  I also need to finish taxes.  They are almost done, but need to force myself to do them.

Remember my organization from several weeks ago? Ok, maybe a few months ago already.  Yeah, that lasted about a week.

Friday, April 8, 2011

I dreamed a dream

This political fighting is getting to me.  It's haunting me in my dreams.

I am in a train car with separate compartments.  I happen to be in a compartment with Speaker of the House Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Reid.  I find I have a unique opportunity to speak to these two gentlemen.  I start off by saying that I'm disgusted with the fact that they cannot work together to come up with a compromise.  I state that life is full of compromises and we don't always get what we want.  In fact, people who compromise are valued for their ability to do so.  I'm tired of the bullying and standing off.  Both men just sit and stare at me.  I wax more poetic, telling them that I have a bachelor's and two master's degrees, and I can work with people to get things done.  Then I say, but I don't need those to know that working together is better than not.  All this I learned in kindergarten.  Then I round on Mr. Speaker, telling him that he should play well with others, and learn to share and that kindergarteners get this better than he does.  Then I yell at them both for sitting in their offices, getting perks, privileges, and extra money, just for having been elected.  I said they were out of touch and no politician really knows about what they do and how it affects people.  I said they didn't deserve the salaries and the high paying friends they had because they weren't getting the job done.
I woke up, still angry about the fact that these elected representatives aren't doing us a bit of good.  I started wondering if we needed to limit Congressional terms as well.  If they aren't worrying about getting re-elected, would they instead think ahead to the future and be brave enough to make the tough decisions to get us out of this mess.

The commission on the budget has said we need to change Social Security and Medicare.  They have suggested raising the age of retirement.  They have also said to get us out of debt, we need to increase taxes.  I'm sorry people, the reason why the banks failed was because too many Americans were over-extended.  But there's no incentive to save.  Not when savings rates are 1.35% and that's on a CD.  Do you remember when you could get 5% on checking?  Yes, really, on checking!!!  Instead of getting more credit people, we have to spend our hard earned money.  Yup, which means also the government needs our hard earned money to get out of debt.  We can't keep living in lalaland thinking we are going to get out of this by cutting what we spend.  Eventually, in a household, you don't eat, or don't drive your car, or don't pay your doctor bills.  Then the household will implode.  Not going to work for the government, either.  It's going to hurt and if people on the left would quit crying about the entitlements, buck up and say, hey, ok, we'll raise the age limits and cut back some, and those on the right, if they would quit hollering, no taxes (I'm sorry guys, your hero Ron Reagan raised your taxes.  He didn't like it, but he did it.  He and Tip came to an understanding. So if you're going to be all excited about him, remember, he PLAYED WELL WITH OTHERS).  Right wingers, we cannot be policemen of the world and spend our money on the military if you're not going to pay for it!

So, I'm thinking, I'm tired of politicians.  I would like to see the regular folks say, enough is enough.  And I mean moderates, not Tea Party unknowns or extreme liberals.  Moderates, who would think about running for office, think about only staying in one term, and if enough of us got there, would we be able to tackle the hard questions, talk civilly to each other and come to a compromise?  I would hope so.  But civilly minded people don't run for office.   Winners run for office, and they want to keep winning and have their opinions win.

It is getting so divided.  I will admit it, I find myself being a hater.  I hate being angry at the TV, angry at the person who votes against me or my position, angry at the people who won't work together, tense because I'm judging people before I really should, just because they are of a certain party.  I am tired of extremes.  I want a civil conversation.  I want my conversation to have give and take and, in the end, I want both groups to say, hey, that was a lot of hard work, but we each got a say and what we produced is something we ALL can be proud of.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Random Tuesday--Spring Edition


While you are reading this, I am in a water park with my kids.  The water park has a flow rider.  I want to try to fake surf.

I love how my kids love America's Funniest Videos.  It's so cute to listen to them laugh.

Julie/Julia was a really good movie.  I should check out the book.  This is courtesy of the fact that our satellite provider has all the Starz channels on complimentary for a year.  Something about being their 30th year in business (really 30 years?).  So we're seeing movies that were out recently.  Many of them I am glad I never spent the money in the theatre for.

My ideal job would be to go antique picking.  If I could go with Mike and Frank on the History Channel, that would be a blast!

I'm trying out NoScript to protect myself from getting clickjacked on Facebook.  Do you know what clickjacking is?  Neither do I, I have no idea how it happens, but maybe it won't happen now.  If anyone knows anything more let me know.

Go, be random!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Random Tuesday--Getting out of the shadows


Ok, I could talk about this, but I think we all know what's going on there, so we'll let others deal with it for now.

Instead, I'd like to talk about The King's Speech.  A movie I have not seen, but desperately want to.  But I am so happy one of my favorite actors got an Oscar.

  Very handsome and modest.

From here.

What else? Oh, I guess my book won't take as long as this.  At least I hope not.

And today is the first day of  metereological spring.  Yay!  February is over, March is in like a lamb and I really, really, really want a new bike.  I'm thinking Trek women specific design.  Trek is made in my home state, I think I should put my money back into my state.

If a person has a master's degree, how much money do you think they should be making annually?  $30k? $40K? $50K? $60K?  I suppose you will say, well it all depends on what you do.  But, if everyone with masters has to take 60 hours of credit and write a thesis, no matter what the subject, and have to pay the tuition and fees, what should they have to show for it at the end?  And if they shouldn't need a master's, then what is the case for postgraduate education?  What is the purpose?

(Yeah, the ulterior motive is I want to see if I'm making what other people think I'm worth.  I have two masters by the way.)  And if you haven't seen Keely, head over to the UnMom via the ugly button at the top.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Longest labor ever!

Dear Book,

I know these things take time.  I know you need the time to become perfect.  Because if you're not and we send you out into the world, the world will chew you up and spit you out.  But, oh, my, have you changed since you first peeked your way into the world.  And even that took a while.  We had all these plots twists, turns, locations, neat places, tons of characters.  Then we set you aside and then looked at you again and suddenly you were less places and different characters.  How does this happen?  Then we took turns and you changed a bit more and got shorter.  Which is good, I guess, since you are for the middle graders.

I am so embarrassed when I say, "We're really nearly done," and come to find that we really nearly aren't.  I don't even want to say it anymore.  But coming up on two and a half years, I really think this labor process is taking a long while.  Even my first born at 22 hours is nothing compared to you.  You need to be done already.  Got it?  I really think you are ready to shine on your own.  For heaven's sake, we wrote a kick-ass logline about you.  You should be proud to show yourself off.  I'm hoping the query letter is just as kick-ass.  Because it is time that some other people got to share you.

So, if this time I say, "We are really close," be a dear, and make sure that we're there.  Because there's a few other babies swirling around in my head that need to get going.  Having a full-time job, while being a full-time mom and a part-time writer is a bit hard.  So it would be nice to say we finished something.  Okay?



P.S.--plus, my fortieth birthday is coming up, so that would be a nice present, don't you think?

Monday, February 21, 2011

So much to blog about, but I keep quiet

Lots of political things happening in my state and the nation.  I have definite and naked opinions.  But I also have a job that I need to keep.  I want to shout from the rooftops my frustration with what appears to be illogical thinking and gross misrepresentation and generalization of how I as a taxpayer feel about things.

I will say that education is incredibly important and that cutting it is the most short-sighted thing we can do to our nation.  Not just for our children, who, as an average, are falling behind the rest of their counterparts in other DEVELOPED countries, but also for the future innovation and pulling up from our bootstraps to make us who we are.  We are cutting off the opportunities for our future to continue to have the majority of us live good middle class lives.  It seems many people are believing that taxes are evil and are what are going to drive us into the ground.  I believe that is not true.  However, none of those people will be alive when their grandchildren or great grandchildren have to deal with the fallout of their decisions.  Why should it bother them? 

Stopping spending now, which seems to be the direction we are going, appears that it will make local governments and school districts have to shed personnel.  This will remove good middle class paying jobs.  More and more parents will both have to work just to maintain a $40,000 income (and I'm talking in my area, there are many other places where the cost of living is so much higher and they need to make more just to be able to own a home in their area).  Down the rabbit hole we go.  There will be no wonderland on the other side.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Random Tuesday Thoughts are here


Check out my new profile photo.  Not the best quality, but I wanted a pic of my haircut and I did it with the laptop camera.  It's okay.  I like the background.  It's our office and I like how it makes me look all professorial, even though I'm not.

Did a little change up to the background.  Feeling a litte romantic and historic these days.

Well, well, climate change strikes again.  141 years ago actually.  Check this out.  Essentially, even our ancestors noticed that their acts upon the prairie land changed the soils, which changed the runoff, and then changed the air mass temp, which changed the winters, to cooler.  They were happy for 2 out of 3 winters good for sleighing.  I got a kick out of that.  And then the end of the article trumpets human change as progressive and good for the world.

Now I think I have a reason to visit Florida.  I've wanted to go to Disney World, but it is so DISNEYFIED.  I really would rather have other things to do.  Well, I have a few friends out there that have been to the Universal Harry Potter theme park.  I think now is the time to go.  My kids would love it, I would love it, I think even Mr. Wild would love it.

What's not to love:

From here

From here
 And that's just the scenery.  Who doesn't want to take in a butter beer, or a broom stick ride?

Ok, ya'll go and be random with Keely.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ahem, yes, we need a reality check...

Here's a great blog post on the "socialist" agenda in our country.

Measured out with coffeespoons
Socialism in America

Couldn't have said it better myself.  Pass it on...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Things you should not do

It was a cool idea to start out.  My mother had made quilts out of t-shirts my brother and sister wore in high school and college.  I had some college t-shirts that I should have parted with, but had yet to do that.  So I asked Mom to make me a quilt out of those shirts.  I thought the shirts were clever, funny.  I did not think about their appropriateness for elementary school students.  The quilt arrived at Christmas, but really didn't get used until recently, it is so dang cold, that the pile of the other quilts dwindled as they got used and we pulled this one from the bottom.

Then, sitting on the sofa, my daughter reads and repeats what's on it.

She says, "Marching band is better than," she pauses.  Makes a I know that's a naughty word and I'm not going to say it face (you know, that excited look you get running across something forbidden.  You're all grinny and embarrassed). Then finishes reading, "because..."  Then her grinniness becomes more pronounced and she repeats it louder and with more finesse, making a quiet hand gestured emphasis to show that she was not going to read that one word, but with so much glee about its inappropriateness.  Her brother takes note.  They start to giggle.  I start to get embarrassed.  Then I admonish, "You will not talk about this with anyone outside the house, okay?"  She nods and giggles some more.  I do an eye roll and that sigh my sister knows so well.

Then a thought occurs to me.  So I ask her point blank, "Do you know what S-E-X means?"  She blushes and shakes her head.  And I say, "That's fine, we'll talk about it later."  Then my son announces that they are learning about sperm, eggs and genes at school.  OKAY, way more than I wanted to deal with, but I take the bull by the horns and try to get him to tell me what more he knows.  He doesn't want to talk about it.  Fine, but I make a mental note to dig into that conversation privately, at a different time.

Luckily, she did not notice the back side of the shirt lower down on the quilt.  Son did.  He starts reading and says, "What?!"  And I grab the quilt and flip it over.

Lesson learned: College created t-shirts probably should not be used in quilts used around the house until your kids are at least the same age as you when you got the shirts and then maybe you should still keep it under wraps when they are around.

What's one of your parent faux pas?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Random Tuesday Thoughts: Crushing


If I were Queen of Everything (or even Princess of Quite A Lot), or perhaps an author who gets to see her book made into a movie, here are some actors I wish I could meet.

Colin Firth
Pierce Brosnan
Val Kilmer
Nathan Fillion
Anthony Michael Hall
Jensen Ackles
Zachary Levi
Matthew Morrison

I would worry about being all fan-like and would not probably say very much.  Like, "Hello, Mr. Firth, very nice to meet you."  I wouldn't even remember to say, "I really enjoy your work.  You're very good."  Which is what I'd like to say.

It would be interesting to see how these people act and look IRL.  I know the camera and production makeup can be superkind.  I wonder if it might be a let down, like they look much older than they do on camera.  (well, those that are older)

No, I do not have any famous females listed.  This is my fantasy and I'll meet whomever I want to.  And this is not like that deal on Friends where you pick five celebrities you'd get to sleep with and your partner can't get mad.  Come on, I'm a grown-up!  And probably not any of their types anyway.

Seriously, what is up with my almost 40 year old self?  I suppose this is just fine and normal.

Anyone else coming up on a milestone birthday.  It seems like my 30s was spent with raising toddlers and elementary students.  Now I have a kid who will be in middle school next year.  Am I just wigging out because I'm getting older.  I seriously don't think so.  Because I feel pretty good for an almost forty year old.  It's fun to watch my high school classmates on Facebook hitting the big 4-0 before me.  I'm a summer baby, so I can watch all of them turn the milestone and see how they handle it.  Ignore it, trumpet it, bemoan it, celebrate it.  I'm looking forward to saying, "I'm forty" and having people say, "No way."  That will be cool.

My friends are going to make fun of my celebrity crushes.  Oh, well, I got that out of my system.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hopeful Inspiring Education Salmon

NPR asked listeners to describe Obama's State of the Union speech in three words.  Then they made word clouds out of these 4,000 responses.

What I found most interesting, when they divided the word clouds into self described independents, Republicans and Democrats, the top words that came up bigger than the rest were HOPEFUL, INSPIRING, and EDUCATION.  Nothing else was as big as these on all three word clouds.

(Well, except SALMON, which, apparently was a funny reference to how salmon are regulated and one of the funniest parts of the night.)

To me, that says people are all touched by the same thing, and that if we come together on anything, we should start with education.  Let's roll our sleeves up, put our money where our mouth is and get to work.

Unfortunately for me, I forgot about the speech, as I was watching Eloise at the Plaza with my children and we had a good time.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The King's Speech and other asundries RTT


I haven't seen the King's Speech yet and I really want to go now that I see it has been nominated for 12 Oscars.  Plus, I just adore Colin Firth.  I would see a movie with him in it any time.

I did see True Grit and that was a good movie.  If you haven't seen it on the big screen, I don't think that will damper its watchability much.   I think it will be fine on your home theatre.

And surprisingly, I enjoyed The Social Network.  Got that one on DVD and yes, it will be well worth your living room watching.

Ok, enough about movies.  I'm at home with a sick kid.  It's not terrible, but I didn't feel comfortable sending him to school when he said he had a bad tummy pain and was curled up in our horseshoe chair.  The tummy pain seems to be gone, but he is chilled.  I should take his temp again.

I have to admit, I decided to record and watch the Oprah Show about her "big family secret."  But from all the previews, I knew it had to be a long lost sibling.  I do have to say, I am just as impressed as Oprah that the half-sister did her best to keep it quiet, while she was trying to get in touch with her birth mother.  It is a story with, I hope, a happy ending.

I was in an organizing mood this weekend.  While the rest of the family stayed in pjs playing computer games or video games, I spread THE PILE out all over the floor and started to put things in their proper folders and filing cabinets.  Then I kept some folders out and went looking for a table top file folder holder that is tiered so you can see all the folders.  I got tired of them being in a pile too.  So here is where I hope THE PILE ends up.

Pretty snazzy, eh?  Of course, don't go to Walmart or other big box stores looking for these.  I had to go to Staples to find one, and at least I found several, in different prices, that I liked.  Here's to no more of THE PILE, which could overflow onto the table, kitchen counter and rolling kitchen counter.

Now, I have a pile of the early 20th century magazine, The Craftsman, that I need to have Mr. Wild to finish selling on ebay, so they don't continue to sit as a PILE in our office.  Anyone an architect or interested in 1910s architectural magazines?  Some are in rough shape, but we have about 7-10 left.  I'd entertain some offers.  Just let's get them out of here.

Speaking of old things, my husband and I haven't been in antique shop since the youngest was out of the stroller.  I can't tell if it's because I have enough antique "stuff" or if the antique things don't hold any charm for me anymore.  There's one collection we had when we moved here that fit perfectly around the plate rail in our dining room and there literally was no more room for more.  If I get more pieces, where would I put them?

Anyone else feel they need design help in their house?  I really would like something more comfy and cozy, but I can't figure how to get there.  So I become static in my decoration.  It ain't really broke, so why fix it?  But every so often I get design envy and wish I had someone to come help me beautify my house.  Oh, well, next life, I think.

Go be all random over here.  My sick son is hungry and I must feed him.  Must be a good sign, except he has a sore throat.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bored on a Sunday

I liked a little Firefly and Serenity in its day.

(by the way, I got this quiz by going to Nathan Fillion's MySpace.  Don't ask me why I was there.)

Your results:
You are Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
Wash (Ship Pilot)
Derrial Book (Shepherd)
Inara Serra (Companion)
River (Stowaway)
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)
A Reaver (Cannibal)
Dependable and trustworthy.
You love your significant other and
you are a tough cookie when in a conflict.

Click here to take the "Which Serenity character are you?" quiz...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Food Revolution Fail

I don't know where else to vent.  My school district has been discussing the flavored milk issue of late.  It might be because I brought it up at a parent teacher meeting.  I expressed my concern for the extra sugar the kids get in their milk since they are offered flavor.  The principal and the school board member sitting in on the meeting said they'd look into it.
They did. At the following parent teacher meeting, the principal brought the three milks they offer: fat-free, 1% and fat-free chocolate, so that we could look at the labels.  The fat free had 80 calories.  The 1% had some fat and 100 calories.  The fat-free chocolate had 130 calories, no fat, but the second ingredient, after milk, was high fructose corn syrup.  Cocoa was such a small amount that it was listed as less than 1% of the total ingredients.

The principal explained that a committee was convened with our food service director, a nutrition director from the local hospital, and one of the elementary school principals to make a recommendation to the superintendent.  They said they looked at the research.  Their recommendation was to eliminate chocolate milk from the breakfast menu, but still offer it for the milk break and lunches as a choice.  Their biggest reason for keeping the choice was that if they limited it too much, they were afraid the milk consumption would go down.  Their argument was that it was better for the kids to get all the nutrition of milk with the extra sugar than to not get it at all because they wouldn't drink white milk.

On-line, I've found the National Dairy Council supporting putting flavored milk in schools.  The same reasons were brought up as were listed by the committee that made the recommendation to the principal. also lists a study about how the consumption drops dramatically if flavored milk is removed and goes on to argue that more calories and fat, half again as much sugar, and more dollars must go into the food then served to make up the difference in the nutrients lost.  If these organizations have research and papers supporting it, how can one make an argument against it.

So these things are only upsetting a little.  What was more upsetting was the parents at the meeting, whose children are in the same school as mine are, who were so very against removing flavored milk from the school entirely.  They came prepared with stacks of research and surveys.  One mother said her doctor told her that her child could drink chocolate milk because he wasn't going to drink white milk at all and he needed the nutrients.  She was all ready to get a doctor's excuse to bring in chocolate milk if it was banned entirely.  She also said she checked with the dentist and that the dentist said it wasn't the cause of cavities.

I cited the Princeton study out a year ago that rats fed virtually the same diet and the exact same calories, except one group drank sugar water and the other drank HFCS water and they found the HFCS rat group gained more weight and showed more tendencies to obese diseases.  To that she said, what's a little HFCS in one drink?  I said, well it's all cumulative, isn't it?  It's not just in these drinks, but in so much else.  Then another mother pulled out a poll she had done at the school.  This was the most disturbing to me.  She was using it to argue for chocolate milk, because if they didn't have it, she was arguing they wouldn't drink any.

This survey showed that out of 289 students who chose to take milk at milk break, 227 chose chocolate milk, and 62 chose white milk.  That's 227 students who chose a milk that had 50 extra calories and 12 more grams of sugar which were all HFCS.  That does not count lunch choices.  And teachers stated opinions like, "My personal opinion...if they will drink it, what difference does it make if it is chocolate?"  "Most kids like chocolate and get a good source of calcium and vitamin D from it.  I would rather the children get chocolate milk and the good that it provides rather than juice. ... I was a kid who didn't like white milk and would not have drank milk in school if chocolate wasn't offered.  Overall I think chocolate milk does more good than harm."

Another parent stated that it allowed the kids choices and that the kids had to start to learn to make good choices, just like when they are offered alcohol, they have to decide in that moment that alcohol is bad.  If our children make the choice for alcohol like they do for chocolate milk, we are doomed.  My children, even though we discuss at home better food choices and enjoying making and eating our food, still choose chocolate milk.  We have discussed high fructose corn syrup and the rat study and they still choose chocolate milk even though they know it is in there.

I am not a perfect parent.  I give in to McDonald's and ice cream and all sorts of things.  But I have come to realize this is about their future and conditioning my children to like the healthy choices.  If you have sugar sabotaging us all the time, at every corner, and parents who still think, well a little HFCS here and there can't be all bad, it will accumulate and our children will be left with an even worse health care mess.  I feel I have no back up in this community.  The issue even came up at a party.  One parent could see both sides, especially since he had a kid who wouldn't drink milk unless it was chocolate, but he agreed that we had too much sugar drinks as it was and it might be a good change for the school.  But people waver when it might mean their children will not get the calcium they need.

My question is, since when did chocolate milk become so ubiquitous?  It was a treat at my house when I was a kid.  We maybe had it once a week with school lunches, but I honestly don't remember.  But I don't remember thinking I could have chocolate milk ever on a regular basis.  Where between the late 1970s and now did it permeate our lives and schools?  I suppose it is just like soda.  It got cheaper to make and buy, we all like sugary stuff and we went overboard.  Now, compared to soda, chocolate milk is a "godsend" for those kids that "hate the white stuff" and won't eat anything else calcium related.  I am so sad that our attitudes about food have become so warped.  What about soy milk, or plain old water?

So I guess I will watch out for my own kids.  Some parents suggested I tell my kids' teachers to watch them and make sure they only take white milk.  But honestly, should I make the teachers work that much harder just to make sure my kids are not taking chocolate milk?  They have so much work as it is.

I thought asking about flavored milks and seeing if they could be really limited or eliminated would be an easier way to start the Food Revolution in our community, but it seems that if this is the reaction to the whole thing, the Food Revolution will have a very long row to hoe in these United States of America.

Randomize me: RTT


Snow, snow, snow.  Ok, which do I hate more?  When it snows in fits and spurts nearly every day, or when we get a big huge ass snow that shuts down all the roads and we get a snow day and I have to stay home from work?  It seems to me that I still do a lot of shoveling either way, so getting a day off for the snow is better.  Hear that Wisconsin weather?  I want 18" of snow so I don't have to go into work.  Then I'll take all day to shovel out and play with the kids.  None of this pussy footing around with an inch here and there, everyday, without sunshine and having to clear the drive some little bit here and there nearly every freaking day.

Oh, and I probably should watch the weather more often so I know what to expect.  Although they got yesterday wrong with saying, "oh about 2 inches" and then we get nearly six.

And why in the heck won't I move to warmer climes?  But I just can't do it.  I think it's because I need season change or I'm afraid I'll be bored with the weather.  I know, call me a dope.

It's so funny when my husband tells me some snippet of news and I've already seen it or read it because it was on Facebook, or I was checking mail and the news section on the homepage shows it and I've clicked through to read it.  The thing is, he may be on computers or video games more, but he's using them all to play games.

Speaking of which, I was asleep by 11 pm and he played video games until almost midnight.  Talk about random.  Usually I'm the one up late.

I started watching an archived webinar on "how to get published."  I couldn't watch it when it was on live, but I thought, hey I should get some good information.  I'm just now in the mood to watch it, but  I'm a bit annoyed by the fact that the first 12 minutes are talking about first you must write a book, and revise it and revise it and revise it and then have someone critique it, before you even start querying. Duh!  If any of you are writers worth your salt, you've already read the myriad of websites that state this very same thing.  I got bored about 12 minutes in and decided to watch it when I was more alert.  I hope the rest of the hour and fifteen minutes is more worth my $70.

Ever try to spend 30 minutes in a car with an 11 year old boy, who is related to you and you're going to an orthodontic appointment, so you have to drive far to get to the orthodontist and it is snowing out pretty heavy and you decide to try to make conversation?  Well, don't.  I've learned an 11 year old boy really doesn't want to talk about school or school work with his mom.  Worse than pulling teeth, though, fortunately, we won't have to pull teeth during this treatment.  Moms should never expect that their sons really want to talk to them.

I had the day off and it wasn't long enough.  I did manage to spend yet more money.  This time I got a pilates video and a yoga mat.  I got exercise in and also did some snowblowing (oh yay, more snow [sarcasm]).  But I didn't do everything I wanted.  We had a nice dinner of lemon chicken broiled, mashed potatoes and mixed veggies.  And I finally sat down and planned meals through next Monday.  I do better with suppers if I plan what they are ahead of time.  I do pick specific menus for specific days, but if I have the week's list, go out and get groceries for it, I can switch it up, because I have groceries for it.

Okay, join Keely and the rest of the gang at the UnMom.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Thursday Goodness for Friday

Sorry a little late, I hadn't seen a good story until today.  Since I have NPR in my FB newsfeed, I am getting some feel good stories from there lately.  I am not doing the guy with the great radio voice, we've all heard that one and I think it is fantastic.  Here's another one to finish up the holiday season.  If you'd like to add something, join along using Mr. Linky below.

One Student's Christmas Lesson

Don Michaels really didn't like school for a while when he was growing up.

"I had terrible migraine headaches when I was in fifth grade," he explained to his daughter Jennifer recently.  "Whether that was because of the pressure, or because of the reputation that the teacher at the time had, and my having gotten reports from my three brothers who had her, I just, I just don't know."

Michaels remembers his teacher, Miss Leister, having very sharp features.

"The most prominent thing was her nose — it was very hawkish," the 72-year-old said. "She didn't smile a great deal. And she was a taskmaster — she expected you to perform."

Miss Leister wasn't very warm, he said.

"But we had a Christmas party — all the classes had Christmas parties — and we all exchanged names for gifts. And the Christmas party started, the gifts were being handed out, names were being called, and one by one all my classmates went up to get their gift. When the gifts were all gone, I had not been called and did not receive a gift, for some reason or other."

The day before Christmas, Miss Leister showed up at Michaels' house, unannounced.

"And she had a small gift that she gave to me," he said. "That gift was a key chain. I kept that for years and years. And as odd as it may seem, my headaches went away about two days after she came."

Michaels' relationship with Miss Leister changed from that day on.

Produced for Morning Edition by Jasmyn Belcher. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo. Recorded in partnership with WPSU.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Random Tuesday: We're lacking in the Random


How random can you be when you start the new year and back to school and back to the grind?  Not so random.

I started the new year off with a spinning class.  Not the spinning wheel kind of spinning:

(Though with my background, you can be forgiven for thinking so)

The bike training kind of spinning:

We did "hills" which means you increase the tension and "climb" for five minutes with your butt off the seat (which I couldn't make the five minutes, ugh) and "jumps" which means you get your butt off the seat and pedal for about a minute, then sit on the seat and pedal for a minute.  It got me sweating and breathing heavy.

And when I say I started off the new year, I got up at 8:00 am and headed to the 8:30 class on January 1st.

You can call me an overachiever.

That same weekend I took all the random physical photographs I had laying around and stuffed them into an album.  Not much call for albums when all the photos are on your computer and pop up as your screen saver.  But enough for the stuff lying around.

We still have a tree up and a puzzle to put together.  Do NOT buy a puzzle that has foil on the pieces.  Hard to see and figure out in any type of light.

(Hey, we didn't get that nice included poster!)

Everyone seems happy with their gifts, Santa and otherwise.  Except maybe me.  I was hoping for an iPod Touch, but I don't think Santa had it in the budget this year.

Mr. Wild bought me this hat.  I'm not sure if it's me or not.  I'll keep you posted.

Check out more random with the UnMom.