27 December 2006

Stay-at-home mom

The way the holidays landed this year, I decided it made sense to stay home this week. I get paid to stay with my kids and we don't spend on daycare.


So far, so good. This week has gone better than planned. Sure, we've had whining and fights, but not many. They've been playing together fairly well (thank you Santa for Hullaballo and more Thomas bridges).

We even survived a trip to Wal-Mart this morning for groceries, all three in tow, something I rarely attempt because it is a nightmare. Instead, the gentleman behind us in line complimented the kids on how well-behaved they were. Shocked, I am. But happy.

Tomorrow is a playdate with middle child's best friend. I'd like to catch a couple of movies and go ice skating, too, before the week is over.

If we could afford to have me stay at home full time, I think I'd do it. I feel so relaxed and on top of my mommy game right now. I'm getting projects done around the house that have piled up. I have time to play with the kids and enjoy them without being tired. The laundry isn't overwhelming, because I can do two loads a day and keep up.

Work seems more stressful than it is worth. I've been working so long for the paycheck, and not enjoying what I do, that this refresher was sorely needed.

Honestly, I'm dreading going back. It's not fulfilling or fun any longer. Work is a long, hard slog.

The kids are much more fun.

12 December 2006




(oh, and hey, 100th post, for those interested in such stats)

06 December 2006

Salt? Sand? What's that?

I really hate this city right now. It's been almost a week after the nasty ice storm hit here, and guess what?

Our neighborhood streets (heck, most neighborhood streets here) are still glass.

The city doesn't plow or sand or salt the neighborhood streets. Heck, by Sunday, some of the main roads were still utter messes, nearly three days after the storm.

I've always lived up north (St. Louis, Columbia, NY, Iowa, Chicago). They know how to plow. They send out multiple plows when the storm starts, not at the end. Some places better than others, but you can believe a week after a storm streets would be 90 percent snow/ice free, especially after multiple days in the low 40s.

They put down salt and sand. Even our neighborhood in Chicago, which didn't get plowed constantly, at least saw salt and sand trucks go through once a day.

No, here, they wait for it to melt.

That could be a while. Our neighborhood is lined in trees. Oh, and it's hilly. Did I mention that?

Grrrrrr. I want to move back north. Now.

Breakfast with the Jolly Elf

A few days late. My apologies, all three of our home computers are on the fritz.

We struggled through the snow and ice to get downtown for the event. Two days after the storm, no plowing of major arteries, and our neighborhood streets were glass. Fun.

Once there, once signed in, we settled in to pancakes, juice (or coffee, in my case) and bacon. Sang carols. Did art projects that made reindeer ornaments. (Where did I put those, now that I think of it? They must still be in the diaper bag.)

Middle child whined mightily because the balloon artist wasn't coming our way fast enough. You'd think the threat of Santa walking among us would be enough to stop that, but you'd be wrong. A balloon candy cane is wayyy more important to a four-year-old than impressing the big guy.

Youngest played shy with everyone: University president who came by to say "Hi"; my VP who did the same. Santa, too. The jolly old elf was fine from a distance ("Santwa!!"), but once we were in line for the lap-sit and chat, she wanted no part of it.

Her brother informed Santa what his little sister wanted, and pointed her out to the big guy, just in case.

Ticky-tacky gifts received from student ambassadors dressed as elves (really, not that bad. Santa hats and in red), we had to go back to the balloon guy to repair the popped blue part of the blue-and-white balloon candy cane before we could go home.

All in all, not any better or worse than last year. Kids had fun, hubby and I survived.

Oh, and city streets after ice and snow storm: Sucked.

01 December 2006

Snow Day!!!

I'm as bad as the kids.

Yesterday morning, a particuarly bad ice/sleet/snow mix was headed our way. Every school district but ours closed in anticipation of a mess. Our superintendent was just hired from Colorado. He didn't understand that two inches of ice + snow here = disaster. The plows: Don't plow until the storm is done. Sand and salt? What's that?

I've lived here nearly four years, and they never clean the roads well. After living up north for years, it just boggles the mind.

At any rate, by noon, the roads were glass, and I was picking up the kids. An hour later, we made it home. I drove in sleet so falling so thick that visibility was nil.

Today, my older two are outside, reveling in the first significant snow they've seen since we moved here. First snow day in years. My youngest is two, and she's never seen snow.

She was not impressed. She was fine with sledding, if you carried her to the sled, sat with her on the sled, and then picked her up out of the sled, never once letting her brother's old SpongeBob snowboots touch the snow.

I just went out to let the dog frolick in the snow with the older two, and my kids look like yetis. You can't tell that they have on coats.

Later, we'll have hot chocolate and cookies. We'll clean up the house so we can decorate for Christmas tomorrow. The wood stove will be roaring with a fire.

A good snow day, all around.

Just wish my husband could enjoy it. The media never rests, and he's glued to his desk posting updates. He called at lunch, wistful tones in his voice. I know he'd love to sled. I might have to allow sledding after dark just so Dad can have his turn, too.

Be safe, all on the East. It's headed your way. It's nasty at first; beautiful later.

28 November 2006

Sorry, busy

My boss's last day is two weeks away, and the other assistant director and I are swamped.

Quick wrap:

Kids had a blast at my family's farm. They were dirty filthy from playing in hay, cattle feed, and who knows what, but they had a great time. Tractors and four-wheelers and hikes through the woods, oh my!

We had a blast out at a Blues game and The Dubliner downtown with N&M. Sometimes, ya just gotta ditch the kids and go hang with college friends, who also ditched their kids.

Our kids hung out here with Grandma and Grandpa while we watched the Blues play pathetically poor hockey, so they weren't hurting.

Next post will be the Breakfast with Santa insanity. Wish us luck. Pray for patience for us.

09 November 2006

Unsure and unhappy

Two bad days at work. Back-to-back.

I've already been questioning why I'm there . . . for months, actually. But nothing more appealing has opened up.

This past week has really done a number on my psyche. It's really hard to do my job when I don't feel respected, when I'm second-guessed. It's been even worse, recently, as more projects come down the pike, but no real help or new hires to take on some of the work load.

I had planned to take the afternoon today, anyway. My kids were out at noon because it is parent-teacher conferences days. It's nearly 80 degrees here today, so it was a good fall day to get out. Especially after a morning meeting didn't go well. I needed out, mentally and physically.

But the day in the sun with my kids, a picnic at the park, and a quick explore of the cave there helped. Some.

02 November 2006

Three is a magic number

Years ago, we bought the Schoolhouse Rock DVD when it came out. Our eldest was fascinated by it, and as Gen Xers who grew up with it, we thought it was beyond cool.

After multiple watchings and a move from IL to here, we packed it away and didn't bother pulling it out. There's only so much Conjunction Junction one can stand.

I pulled it back out about a month ago, and our eldest rediscovered it, and our four-year-old son was mesmerized by it. He has favorites. He can sing entire songs. This from a kid who previously had zlich, zip, nada interest in anything educational.

We took all three to a local production of Schoolhouse Rock Live! recently. That's when I learned that "Three is a magic number" is my son's favorite episode.

He's now fascinated by it. He looks around the house for combinations of three. He's learned subtraction this week, just by figuring out how to get to 3, or 6, or 9. Basic multiplication: He's got it, at least when it's the 3s.

I'm blown over. It's like a switch flipped on in his head, and now he's learning by leaps and bounds. Math. Reading. He now spends hours with this phonics computer game we bought his older sister years ago. He spelled ANT last night, out of the blue.


It's inspired my little hyperkenetic kid to learn, more than 30 years after it was created to teach me (and the rest of us) to learn during Saturday morning cartoons.

27 October 2006

Go crazy folks!


St. Louis Cardinals, World Series Champions!

My kids are happy, my daughter's thrilled that I'll no longer be stressing out by the TV. My brother is somewhere in downtown St. Louie right now, partying with the masses. Wish I were there with him.

So very, very close

We're so close.

We've been this close before, only to lose. 1985 and 1987 are etched in my memory banks. They aren't good memories. Don Denkinger's name mentioned in my presence is still likely to set me off on a tirade.

It's a very good thing I didn't know my husband in 1987. I probably wouldn't have married him if I had.

Lest you think I'm the only slightly insane, slightly superstitious Cardinals fan out there, I direct you here, to recent IM chats among our friend Christian and his two friends Julia and Jenny.

Scroll down a bit if it doesn't display properly. Then settle in for blow-by-blow hilarity.

20 October 2006


Oh. My. God.

That was the longest game of my life. I was sure we were doomed when Beltran came up in the 9th with the bases loaded.

Adam Wainwright is now my baseball hero. Wow. Three curves, three strikes, got him looking.

Keep it up, guys. Four wins to go. Hopefully not in the snow.

19 October 2006

Go Cards!

Please, please, please.

I'm scaring my kids, because I yell at the TV when you do something dumb, like swing at a breaking ball in the dirt, or line out to the second baseman.

Please, please, please, win or lose, don't do dumb things, 'kay?


Go Cards!

13 October 2006

Stupid Killer B

Carlos Beltran v. Jeff Weaver. Did not end pretty.

Beltran finds a way to mess with our pitchers' heads every October. See Jayson Stark's commentary on that lovely development here.

10 October 2006

Yay Cardinals!

That's what my son and I said all last week.

Here's hoping we can replicate it this week. Unfortunately, most of the games will be on at times he can't see, being as how his bedtime is at 8 p.m.

That frustrates me, because the way you raise baseball fans is to take them to games and let them watch the important ones. The latter is impossible to do if they are all on during prime time.

(oh, sorry twins fans. didn't mean to jinx you last week.)

03 October 2006

We made it, barely

The only time I've ever cheered for the Atlanta Braves: Saturday and Sunday.

We made it to the postseason. We don't deserve it. But let's make the most of the opportunity, guys.

Go Cards.

(oh, and go Twinkies. I have more hope that you'll make it to the second round.)

26 September 2006

Bad Mommy

I totally forgot about the checkup I scheduled for the youngest.

There is nothing worse than looking up at your Outlook notes and seeing: "You should be at the doctor's office in nine minutes, and you have no prayer of making it, because you are on the north side of town, and the doc is on the south side."

Crap, crap, crap.

For about 30 seconds, I was delusional enough to think I could make it. Then I gave up that delusion, and called the doc and rescheduled for next week.

22 September 2006

What, exactly, are you on?

Fashion designers, I'm lookin' at you. What in the name of
  • Michael Kors
  • is going on?

    I've seen the Getty Images of the fall shows, and I'm NOT impressed.

    This is not the '80s.

    I've already lived that. The skinny jeans, the shorts with tights,
  • bubble skirts
  • . . . that looked silly on me in junior high and high school.

    I'm sure as hell not going to my next power meeting in ANY of this stuff.

    Seriously, if you are going to redo an era, can we do
  • this
  • .

    20 September 2006

    My hometown's 15 minutes of fame

    Over. Thank goodness.

    I'm happy the child was found, safe, sound, and unharmed.

    And I'm forever grateful that now CNN, FOX NEWS, et al have departed, and will no longer be showing the place I grew up as the land of rubes and idiots and hicks.

    Some of them, are, sure. But most, not so much.

    I'm a reporter, and I'm appalled at how little effort was put into finding the intelligent to interview. Then again, the intelligent don't usually hang out at the Quik-E-Marts of the world.


    17 September 2006


    I thought things would slow down a bit after Labor Day. It was not to be.

    Just in the past few days since our last holiday:

    * Youngest came down with hand-foot-mouth virus, and was out of daycare for four days this week.

    * My boss announced he's leaving at the end of the year. Suddenly, work is even more hectic as he's got a short-timer mode about him, and the power vacuum is being filled by someone else. This is not necessarily a good thing.

    * Hubby and I signed up for a couple's retreat months ago. Then I forgot about it, completely. It's next weekend, and somehow, we have to be in St. Louis by an incredibly early hour on Friday evening and have dropped the kids and the dog at my parents' long before then. Somehow, this seemed like a better idea last February when I signed us up.

    * We did a family portrait over the weekend. We won't be buying any. It was that bad, as middle child made goofy faces in every shot, youngest child had finger in mouth the entire time or was ready to blow at any moment. Maybe we'll try again at my cousin's wedding in three weeks. Surely we can get one good picture that day, right?

    06 September 2006

    My pretty, pretty princess

    My baby is two.


    Can't be, but it is all the same.

    She's very petite, so it's easy to forget how old she is. The child still fits in clothing made for children half her age.

    She reminds us of her age through action, though. Climb to the top of Mount Couch. She talks in complete sentences, and started speaking that way that much earlier than my other two ever did.

    You wouldn't think someone so short and semi-verbal could scare a four-year-old boy, one big for his age and mouthy, but she can.

    * * *

    Two years ago, we nearly lost her before we had her. Her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck three times, and she came so quickly, no one realized until she was nearly born.

    I was told not to push, and had to stop for a full five minutes. Those of you who have had kids know that's almost impossible.

    Those of you who haven't: Remember that trick where you drop a lit match in a narrow bottle, then set a hard-boiled egg on top of the bottle opening? Eventually the vacuum pressure is so strong, the egg is sucked through. Just at the moment the egg is to pull through . . . stop it. Hold it there. For five minutes.

    Right. Impossible.

    Somehow I did, and they unwrapped the cord, and she smiled at me. (I swear, we have photographic evidence.)

    * * *

    My youngest is the most cheerful child I've ever met. She's sweet, she's empathtic and loving. She has a temper, but generally, it never shows.

    Unlike my first girl, when I banned pink in all shades, hues, and forms, this time, I'm embracing it. My youngest is likely to greet you with a tiara, a pink tutu, and a sword and a Thomas train in her hands.

    She loves all things pretty pretty princess. She also loves getting dirty and playing with her brother outside, following in his daredevil footsteps every chance she can get.

    It took me almost 10 years to learn those things aren't mutually exclusive. You can be a pretty pretty princess, and still love Legos and dump trucks.

    We had a pretty pretty princess party over the weekend. Pink castle cake, pink tiara, pink straws, lots of pink. My little one is now the proud owner of a Bear Co. bear she picked out and stuffed herself, complete with pretty pretty princess tutu. Pink, of course.

    She has two new dolls, and a pink stroller that she pushes them around in. She's willing to share the dolls and the bear with her siblings. But woe to the person who touches her stroller. She attacks her brother, assaults his ears with a high-pitched screech if he touches it, then comes over to shove him away from her baby's stroller.

    My pretty, pretty princess isn't going to wait for a knight to come rescue her. She's willing to fight for herself, and her stuff.

    Isn't that the way all our pretty, pretty princesses should be?

    01 September 2006

    Train wreck

    That's what this week has been.

    My boss is on vacation.

    I'm wearing two hats, one of which is his public relations one.

    I'm horrid at PR. I duck it whenever possible.

    So, this week:

    * Stadium is hit by vandals. We share the facility with another entity, so that PR person is asking me if it will be cleaned up in time for prep football this weekend. Me, I'm thinking, "Prep football? Already?"

    * Stadium clean, I have to deal with a zillion little fires.

    * Big fire: major speaker for a scheduled debate, well-known speaker, one who is 50 percent of the debate, is stuck in O'Hare, scrambling for another flight. Five hours before the debate is due to start. Panic ensues. After hunting for a backup (thank you to that brave person, btw), turns out the stuck person manages to get unstuck, arrives in time (though frazzled), and does a wonderful job with her counterpart on a debate about civil liberties.

    * After working a (ugh) 17-hour day, I had planned to stay home and sleep in a bit today. Not happening, because as I walked in my house at near 10 p.m., dh has to bolt out the door, drive to work, and stay up way too late in an attempt to fix something. So he got to sleep in, not me.

    * Early dismissal at kids' school. Grab them. Carry sobbing, crying, unhappy four-year-old into his room at aftercare. Leave feeling very guilty because:

    * Plans to leave work by 1 p.m. and take kids to park after school lets out early foiled, I try for 2. Then reminded by student of photo shoot I scheduled at 2:30. Try for 3. Leave office at 3:45 p.m. Take kids home, let them play in yard and sandbox. We're all happy about that, at least.

    So, it's been a long, long, long, long week. Thanks to those who have listened to me whine, both in person and by cyberspace.

    Long weekend now here, I'm off to pull together youngest's second birthday party for tomorrow/Sunday. Somehow, I managed to buy pretty pretty princess party stuff during a lunch hour this week. My mom has cake stuff, so tomorrow, I'm makin' a castle cake. Photos, if it turns out, to come.

    19 August 2006

    Start o' school

    I knew I was in trouble when my son started hinting that I should go two minutes after I dropped him off.

    We were in the gym with the other kids, waiting for the start-of-school bell to ring. I wanted to hang out and make sure he could find his room. Plus, he couldn't possibly carry everything, even if he thought he could.

    My eldest was already with her friends at the fifth-grade table. Her best friends said "Hi" to my son, then promptly told him to leave them be. He actually seemed okay with that.

    The morning prayer and Pledge of Alliegance said (Hey, I still know all the words. Go me.), we followed the crowd up the steps.

    "Mom, go," he says, grabbing for his nap mat as we are in the middle of the melee on the landing.

    "No, I can help you carry this, at least," says me.

    "I can do it," he says.

    "I'll leave as soon as you get to your room," says me.

    We walk down the hall, turn into his room, and he's grabbing the mat away from me. I hold on, ask his teacher where she'd like it. Son is practically shoving me out the door.

    I make an attempt at a kiss, which he rebuffs. So, out the door I go. Truly, I held in the tears until I was in my car.

    Two days in:

    Son loves K4. (It's a meld of preschool and kindergarten, with Montessori thrown in). He already has a "very good listener" note from his teacher. If you know him, you know that is a huge deal, because listening is not his strong suit with us.

    Eldest's class is practically all girls. In first grade, they had a huge class with a good gender mix. For second and third grade, they stayed in the same room, because it was the only classroom that could hold them all. Now, they are down to four boys and 12 girls. Those poor four boys. Outnumbered 3-to-1, in fifth grade, the year of female hormones starting to hit.

    16 August 2006


    This last six weeks have been crazy. Crazy at work, crazy at home, crazy with extended family, and hey, school starts tomorrow, so you only get a list of high- and low-lights, not a real post:

    * Funny: Youngest loves to be read to. Loves to drag books to a victi-, er, reader and demand reading ability. Overheard while fixing dinner: Middle child, in best four-year-old plaintive wail: "C-, I don't know *how* to wead!"

    * Stress: My younger sister had her appendix out three weeks ago. Genetically crummy appendixes run in our family, so now I live in fear for my kids. Interesting appendix facts: One in 15 Americans has their appendix removed. Some folks (read "us") are genetically predisposed to getting appendictis because of a smaller opening from the intestine to the appendix, which allows crud to accumulate and eventually get infected.

    * Social: I finally get to go to a conference. One week to SPJ in Chicago. Drop me a line if you'll be there, or know someone I might know there, 'cause I'm on my own, all alone.

    * Silly: My three kids, in a kiddie pool, dumping water on top of their heads in 100 degree heat, and laughing like loons.

    * Depressing: My grandmother slipping into full dementia. She's now out of her assisted living apartment, into a nursing home. She's already tried to escape, multiple times. She's winging among decades, sometimes three or four in a 10-minute span of time. One minute I'm me, another minute I'm baby me, yet another, I'm not even around, she's 18 and a housekeeper in St. Louis. It's exhausting for the entire family. Some of us are coping better than others.

    * Sweaty: It has been insanely freakin' hot here. No rain to speak of in weeks. But at least no sinkholes or power outages (sympathies to the St. Louie folk).

    * Heartburn: Is what the Cardinals are giving me. I can handle losing years better than this schitzophrenic mess of a season.

    * Scary: School starts tomorrow. I have a fifth grader and a pre-kindergartener. Two more years, and my youngest will be in pre-K, too. Babydom is finally done here. I'm a tad verklempt.

    * Proof God has a sense of humor: My youngest has a temper to match her red fuzzy head. Lucky me. My husband calls her Mini-Me.

    Stop laughing. All of you.

    13 July 2006

    Relative humidity

    The recent rains have added a layer of wet sogginess to everything. You know it is bad when the last rain was three days ago, but the yard is still a muddy swamp. Our dog needs a bath, but I refuse to do it until I'm sure he won't be muddy three seconds later.

    I'm trying to reduce stress and get back in shape by biking on the trail near our house. Right now my personal trainer is with her grandparents (a nine-year-old who loves to bike is a *great* nag) and the downpours have slowed me down. But I'll be back on the bike this weekend.

    Slogging through the air on a bike when it is this humid, it just feels like you are cutting through jello.

    But it's worth it. On the days I bike, I have more energy. I'm reconnecting with nature, as the trail cuts through some of the prettier parts of the city. It gives me time to think, something I rarely have time to do anymore, with three kids who think chanting "Mom" will get them what they want sooner, and an office where the same type of thing happens all too frequently.

    I've found interesting things, like the pet cemetery. And the memorial there for a human. A state trooper lost his life in a shootout near that spot, on Pearl Harbor Day.

    I paused at that spot to check out the marker. Then I paused to think about that moment: While half a world away, one of the biggest tragedies in U.S. history was taking place, in that spot, a small tragedy that affected a small number of lives happened.

    Another reminder to take the time to enjoy life while it happens.

    29 June 2006

    Proud member: Cardinals Nation

    For those who know me, I'm a wee bit obsessive about baseball.

    Especially the Cardinals. I grew up listening to them with my dad and his dad, while out on the farm, in the truck, in the farmhouse. My dad and I went to games. Straight-A tickets were my life in grade school, and when I couldn't get 'em anymore, I bugged my siblings to get 'em.

    Sure, I married a Twins fan. It's a mixed marriage. If we end up in the World Series against each other, I've promised to move out to save the marriage.

    I'm not joking. Those of you who know me best know that.

    So the recent eight-game skid has sent me over the edge.

    My husband is a Twinkie's fan. He's philosophical about losses. My eldest is a Cubs fan (I know, I know, I'm working on it). She's learning that it's expected and a fact of life.

    So, watching the last two innings of the game last night on Fox Sports Midwest (greatest invention ev-ah), I was about to throw in the towel in the ninth. Hubby made me stay.

    Thanks hon.

    Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch(who I've been reading since he was a cub reporter and I was a kid), details how nuts we Cards fans get in light of a fluke win after an eight-game skid.

    20 June 2006

    Summer slam

    Somehow, every day, I have good intentions of posting.

    And somehow, every day, real life intervenes with cyberlife.

    So, forgive me, but posts will be few and far between. In light of recent deaths this year (look, I can be taught, Maurie and Rob), I'm taking time in the real world to enjoy my kids, and my life.

    I won't abandon y'all, but after losing a surrogate mom to cancer and one of the best mentors/Iowa columnists ever to ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) in the first six months of 2006, I've decided some things in life are more important.

    Life is busy. But in a good way. My son started swim lessons last night, and is having a blast. My eldest is in her second week of day camp, and having a blast. She learned how to sew with her grandmother at the start of the month, and made a gorgeous quilt. Now maybe that sewing machine will get some use.

    The little one, while still small in stature, is large in life. Her favorite word is NO. She doesn't want to be carried any longer (sniff), but will squirm out of my arms and run to follow her siblings to do what they are doing.

    I'm going to enjoy the summer with my kids. Maybe later this week I'll post about lightning bugs, as we plan to catch some this weekend at my parents' farm.

    25 May 2006

    Blog shout out

    Okay, so we're headed to family for the weekend, which means my chances of posting for the next week are nil.

    I'll leave you with some baseball blog gems that we've found for our teams. If you have a funnier Cardinals blog, let me know, because BatGirl is hard to compete with.

    The Twins best (and funniest) blogger, with a hilarious recent entry:
  • BatGirl

  • A Cards blog that is mildy entertaining:
  • Cardinals Diaspora
  • 23 May 2006

    Currently spinning

    Dixie Chicks, Taking the Long Way.


    I'm not a techie like my bud Christian, who has a running feed from last.fm (quite cool, btw). But I ran out today and bought the new CD from one of my favorite groups.

    It's good. Really good. Not as bluegrassy, but it's not bad. "I Hope" has a gospel tinge to it. "Lullaby" is beautiful, and I love that since they've had children, they always include a lullaby on the album.

    Oh, and they don't only call out W., they also call out Lubbock. Which, you know, those who have lived in Texas, really needed to be done. So amen, good job chicks.

    11 May 2006

    Death in the family

    That's how it seems.

    Every summer of my life as a child, my parents would pack us up in the car, drive up U.S. 63, and after seven hours of torture (first in a Nova, then in Celebrities), we'd land in Newton, Iowa, for our summer vacation visit with my dad's best friend's family.

    Newton was idyllic. It was also Maytag. Maytag Park. Maytag Pool. Maytag museum. Dad's friend: engineer at Maytag.

    Maytag died yesterday.

    They'd been struggling for a while in the new, competitive marketplace. But they prided themselves on building and buying in America.

    About three years ago, it became an annual question: Would my dad's friend be able to stay on long enough to get his pension? Layoffs abounded. For a while, it looked like he'd have to move to Chicago, when a CEO decided the way to profitability was to move the entire works to the Chi 'burbs.

    Whirlpool bought them a few weeks ago, after a threat from a Chinese company. Two weeks ago, my dad's friend got a mannila envelope with an answer.

    Today, the rest of Newton received an answer.

    Maytag died today. Newton's in trouble.

    Read about a very special place, one I spent time in every summer for 18 years.


    10 May 2006

    Why I love my daughter's school

    Thursday night was her school's annual talent show. As always, she did a piano piece, and did great.

    But that wasn't the best part. This was:

    For every performance, every other kid in the place--and parents too--cheered loudly.

    Didn't matter how well they did, didn't matter if they were first graders line dancing or a fifth grader telling corny jokes or piano players at any level or a seventh grader rockin' out to licks of Motley Crue or an eighth grader so emotional at his last performance on the stage he's haunted for the past three years' worth of talent shows and Christmas plays that he
    forgot some of the lyrics to his song.

    Every time: Loud cheers. Wolf whistles. Claps. Pretend lighters held in the air.

    That sense of community is just priceless. In so many schools today, it's just not there.

    My daughter's school may be the smallest in the school system here. It may be the oldest building.

    But it--hands down--has the best atmosphere, and by far the most caring student body, teachers, and parents, I've ever seen.

    26 April 2006


    Why does it have to be so darn hard?

    I knew parenting wouldn't be easy, but why did I pull the card for three strong-willed kids?

    Don't get me wrong, they are great kids, but raising them to be functioning members of society instead of hedonistic cavepeople is work.

    Why is it when new management comes in to work, they seem to think they know better than the people who have been there for years?

    Both my husband and I are dealing with newish management. We both feel so darn frustrated sometimes, when they take off on some new path that we just know will lead to grief, and they don't listen to us?

    It just ends up leaving us feeling like cogs in a wheel. Our institutional knowledge and history of place count for nothing. Oh, and apparently 10+ years in the business count for nothing if you don't have a terminal degree.

    Sheesh. I can't write what I'm probably going to want to say after the next few days at work.

    Why does corporate America think it owns us body and soul?

    Our raises are less than inflation, they expect us to work longer hours, in my case, sometimes travel without much notice, kill our self-esteem, belittle our credentials, and oh, not listen to us (see above). I care about what I do. Deeply. I just don't want to live there, no do I want to be dictated to. Hello, I've got a degree from a major university. Nowhere on that degree does it read "Slave".

    I just want to tell them to chuck it. Nothing is as important as my family, and I resent the fact that my husband and I are forced to negotiate, or worse, value work over time spent with the people most important to us.

    In case you can't tell, it's been a pretty darn awful couple of weeks, and it doesn't look like it's gonna get much better soon.

    17 April 2006


    I love Easter.

    I love dark chocolate.

    'nough said. :)

    Some funny moments:

    Twice this weekend our son was up before the crack of dawn. Both times I caught him with chipmunk cheeks o'chocolate. (once from his daycare party stash, once from the Bunny basket stash).

    Our youngest looked cute as a button in her frilly pink dress. (yes, I have caved with the second girl. I dress her girly. Deal.) But ten seconds after pulling it over her head, she was saying "NO. NO. NO."

    Later that day, she ripped off the skorts Dad changed her into. Apparently she is rejecting the girly clothes at 19 months.

    Once again, the only photos we have of our eldest during the Great Egg Hunt are of her back, in blur, because she's running around like a psycho child to snag more eggs than anyone else. This despite the fact that she's pretty sure the Bunny involves trickery with Mom and Dad and other accomplices.

    13 April 2006

    Bevare, the Vampire!

    Also known as our nearly four-year-old son.

    It is a really sad thing when you have to drop your child off at school and preface each day with this line:

    Okay, you aren't going to bite anyone today, right?

    He's decided that the best way to get his way at school is to chomp. Earlier this week, he was defending his friend, who was having a toy taken away by another egotistical four-year-old (they are all egotistical four-year-olds, mine included). Kid two decided the best way to help his friend was to bite the hand of the offender.

    Where are the parenting manuals again? Seriously. We need them.

    In other news, our little one is half-monkey. She's decided it is fun to climb on and over furniture. She's barely 29 inches tall. You just don't expect anyone that small to be able to be sitting on top of the back of the sofa.

    Want to take bets on how long it is before I have a post here on her breaking her collarbone? Over/under is within a year.

    26 March 2006

    Mental mommy weekend notes

    1) Sleeping in past nine a.m. is bliss. Two days in a row is heaven. No idea why they let me do that.

    2) Albert Finney played Daddy Warbucks in Annie.> He also played Ed Masry in Erin Brockovich. Knowing one has now totally ruined the other for me. But my eldest loved watching Annie, even though I had to practically twist her arm to watch it.

    3) Why is it that no one is selling sundresses this year? I have a wedding to attend in Texas in two weeks. No sundresses anywhere in petite. Not online, not locally, nowhere. Sheesh.

    4) Work cranks up again as spring break ends. But I have no interest right now.

    5) Kill Bill entertains me wayyyy more than it should. Especially the soliloquies in Vol. 2.

    17 March 2006

    Publishing, take me away!

    Some of my blogging friends have running lists of what they read.

    I don't.

    I read.

    A lot.

    I've always read. My mother banned books from the dinner table when I was a kid (something I still struggle with today, even though I know it is impolite and a bad habit). I started reading somewhere around 3 or 4.

    My first book: Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss. My dad read it to me all the time, but by an early age, I didn't have it memorized. I knew how to read from it.

    I read to other kids in kindergarten. I'd read in the family car on long trips. I'd read on weekends, nice or not outside, to my parents' chagrin. My mom put a limit of 20 books on me per checkout of the library during the summer.

    I still read on trips. I try to read to my kids. Right now my son's favorite is Harry the Dirty Dog (he and Harry have a lot in common). My youngest's favorite is Easter Bugs by David A. Carter. (or any of his books. She loves his pop-ups.)

    My eldest isn't a reader. It baffles me. She doesn't read fiction. She's like her dad; she'll read nonfiction. If the topic interests her. Right now, she's plowing through our Calvin and Hobbes collection during spring break.

    I consider that a good sign, both for her perspective on life and our parenting skills.

    I haven't updated the books side in a while. I've read a lot of great books, and a lot of trash--love my romance novels, I do. But I'm a lazy wench, and editing code takes more time than I have.

    But this time, I've added a few well worth reading. Take the time and read them, then let me know what you think.

    13 March 2006

    Hello, tormado season

    Long night . . . tormado warnings and tormados (stealing my son's pronunciation) from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. last night. Two separate hits, one south of us by a bit, another north of us by a bit.

    We're fine. We even missed the softball-sized hail, which hit a mile down the street. We only had marble-sized. Shooter marble-sized, but still.

    Kids are still freaked. Husband and I have had three and four hours of sleep respectively. Check out our local paper for photos.

    Night all. I'm crashing now that the tormados are gone. Just think, this will only run until September. Being a parent and reassuring scared kids when you are slightly wigging yourself is just no fun.


    03 March 2006


    Illness has felled us again. Like many of my blogging compatriots, the evil viruses have us down. I've burned more sick days this year covering ill kids than I want to think about.

    Nor do I want to think about the amount of money in copays and medicine we've burned through since Christmas.

    My CT is acting up again, so I'm in the brace for another month and the anti-inflammatories for another month. I'm going to be scarce.

    To tide you over:

    * Why is it that daycares are petri dishes for every bug out there?

    * Why is it that my college roommate has to choose between her incredibly awesome job at a major publisher and her newborn? Why can't a valued near-vice president get cut some slack for a couple of years, maybe at 60%? Instead, they are going to train four people to replace her. How insane is that?

    * Why is it that I constantly feel behind the eight ball at home and especially at work? I'm always forgetting something. Why?

    * Why is it 18-month-olds have to learn how to do a high-pitched shriek just short of the range that only dogs could hear?

    * Why is it 18-month-olds must try to kill themselves climbing on furniture/stairs/stacked beanbags/gates/cribs?

    * Why is it that the puberty mood swings seem to hit earlier and earlier? My friends with nine-year-olds and I are watching this and wondering what the heck 15 will look like at this rate.

    * Why is it my nearly four-year-old shows no interest in writing, but can tell me every minutia of SpongeBob for the last three seasons?

    * Why can't I get a good night's sleep lately?

    Discuss amongst yourselves. I'll be back when it doesn't hurt like blazes to type. And the kids are healthy.

    24 February 2006

    My love, my life

    The days in and out of marriage, you can take each other for granted. I know I sometimes am horribly guilty of it.

    You go days without a kiss. You get bogged down in the minutia of life and forget about the other person in your life. Or you are ships passing in the night (or days), chasing after kids and work and whatnot.

    And then something smacks you upside the head.

    This morning, it was a StoryCorps report on NPR for me.

    It was a report about Danny and Annie Perasa, a couple from Brooklyn who first recorded the story of their proposal, acceptance and love two years ago in a StoryCorps booth.

    Today was an update. He has terminal brain cancer, but he wanted to tell his story, his love for his wife, one last time.

    It had me and my eldest in sobbing tears as I was driving her to school.

    Love the ones you love, and let them know it, every day, just like Danny Perasa.

    16 February 2006

    Pets. Not worth it.

    Ick. We have a floater out in the pond out back.

    Dh and I are trying to ignore it. We put goldfish in the pond last spring to cut down on the skeeter population in the backyard. Care has been, um, not the best since winter hit.

    My son was obsessed with the floater this morning: "Mom. Mom. MOM....one of the fish is dead. it's floating. i think a squirrel got it. it's floating not squimmming any more. we need to take it out. mom. mom. MOM!"

    Wonder if that bloated little sucker has sunk to the bottom yet, or if I'm going to (ew) have to fish it out and take it to the woods tonight. Ick.ick.ick.

    I swear, it's dh's turn. I had to clean up the nasty baby bunny ick in des moines after the cat killed it and left it "eeping" on the unfinished basement steps. I can still here that massacre in my head. *shudder*

    13 February 2006

    Meme from Britain

    Foiled! Tagged again, this time from my sil.

    I've been lying low, back on anti-inflammatories and brace for carpal tunnel. But this is relatively easy.

    Four jobs you've had in your life:
    1) A$W carhop/cashier/manager
    2) Teaching assistant at journalism school
    3) Editor for middle-school textbooks
    4) Reporter for newspapers

    Four movies you could watch over and over:
    1) Pride & Prejudice (A&E/BBC version)
    2) When Harry Met Sally
    3) Twister
    4) Any of the Monty Python ones. Well, maybe not Meaning of Life.

    Four places you've lived:
    1) St. Joseph, Missouri
    2) Westchester County, New York
    3) Altoona, Iowa
    4) Plainfield, Illinois

    Four tv shows you love to watch:
    1) Grey's Anatomy
    2) Family Guy
    3) Anything PBS
    4) Boston Legal

    Four places you've been on vacation:
    1) Grand Cayman
    2) Cooperstown, New York
    3) Cape Cod
    4) The Great North Woods, Minnesota

    Four of your favorite foods:
    1) Most anything with chocolate
    2) Italian dishes. Northern or southern.
    3) Meatloaf
    4) Chicken, roasted.

    4 sites you visit (most days):
    1) wonkette.com
    2) The New York Times
    3) PNM
    4) televisionwithoutpity.com

    07 February 2006

    Some things aren't meant for kids

    Especially real shortbread cookies from Scotland.

    Thanks B. & A.

    Super-yummy. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

    31 January 2006


    To get back into the blogging swing, I'm shamelessly stealing from Ms. Gina.

    Ten Things You Might Not Know About Me

    1. I grew up on a farm. Two, actually, because I had the run of my mother's parents' farm as well. And I liked it.
    (That last part's the bigger secret. I complain about it alot, but I did enjoy it as a kid, for the most part.)

    2. I was a speech and debate geek in high school. Extemp. I competed against John Ashcroft Jr. and 11 others at state. As I had laryngitis that day, it wasn't much of a competition on my part.

    3. My hair was bone-straight and mostly blonde until puberty.

    4. I was in College Republicans. No. Really. Stop LAUGHING! Ask Paula R. She joined with me.

    5. Three labors: No pain meds.

    6. #5 = not by choice. All kids born in under 5 hours from water breaking/first contraction.

    7. I had five miscarriages. So, eight pregnancies, only three kids, one with the help of fertility drugs.

    8. The little (and last one) = totally not planned. Ooops. But she's cute, so we'll keep her.

    9. I obsessively read trashy romances. No, not Harlequin. The good ones, that Mira and similar publishing houses put out. Julia Quinn, Celeste Bradley, Jo Beverly, Stephanie Laurens. Good stuff.

    10. I like bluegrass and NASCAR.

    Technical difficulties

    Sorry folks. We've had server troubles and DNS switches.

    It's all good now though, so I'm back.

    More blogging later, with the latest Meme from Gina.

    13 January 2006


    Our son, putting his pajamas in the dining room:

    "I can't talk now Dad, I'm naked."

    This is even funnier, knowing that a mere three minutes before, he'd been bouncing around the dining room, which has windows on three sides, totally nude and shakin' his thang.

    The other side

    While at the wake for my friend's mom, I connected with a few folks from college who I hadn't seen in four or five years.

    It was great to see them again, if the venue left something to be desired.

    Talking, catching up, it dawned on me how the grass really is always greener.

    One of my college friends has been trying to have children for years. She and her husband are getting ready to adopt. I know the pain of infertility; we fought it for almost three years. It can be heartwrenching, seeing your friends with babies and you can't have them yourself.

    She wanted to hear about my kids; I wanted to hear about what she and her hubby were able to do without them. She's earned two master's degrees; I'd love to have the money and time to do that.

    She'd love to have three kids, even though they might drive her insane.

    The entire experience made me realize I should appreciate my kids more.

    08 January 2006

    Ashes to ashes

    After the weekend I've had, I probably have enough to blog for months.

    My friend's mom is at rest. She chose to die (I firmly believe this, and so does her daughter) on her wedding anniversary.

    How fitting: Her husband died years ago, while we were in college. I know she missed him; I know she loved him. But she knew her kids needed her. She grieved. She also moved on. She was there to help her youngest graduate from high school.

    She helped her daughters get started in careers, support them when they found spouses. She did the same for her son when he was of an age to do the same.

    She hung on, after a bleak diagnosis. She saw not two, but three grandbabies born; I had no idea the little boy I remembered had a child of his own, but at the wake, there he was, a precious new baby who his grandmother was able to hold before she died.

    She held onto her children, their lives, until she was sure they didn't need her any longer.

    Then she let go.

    In life, she was a great example. In death, she was the same. She lived with her illness with dignity. She died on a day to follow her lifelong love into eternity.

    May God grant us the same grace.

    More blogging on this in the days to come. Truly, I learned a lot this weekend, about death, yes; but also about life.

    03 January 2006

    2006, I expected better

    We're not three days into this year, and already I'm wondering if it will be a repeat of 2005.

    In 2005, we were all ill. My son broke his collarbone. My job was frustrating. We were stuck here.

    So far in 2006: I'm sick. Youngest just got over ear infection. Son rebroke (sigh) his collarbone. My job is getting more frustrating to me. We're still stuck here with no sign of getting out.

    And a good woman lost her fight with cancer today. One of my best friends ever is now an orphan, technically. Her dad died years ago.

    Life is too short to dwell on the negative, so I'm trying to think of all the good things my friend's mom taught me:

    Being a mom does not mean you have to be a jerk.

    You can be quiet and still make a loud impact on life.

    Wilton cake decorating/baking stuff is worth the money.

    Wedding cakes can be constructed in an hour if you have to do it. (That's what she did for ours. She drove it three and a half hours to our reception, gladly, even though we told her it would be okay not to. She insisted on making our cake.)

    Life is too short to not enjoy every moment, or at least try to.

    Redheads are the best women ever. :)

    I knew this was coming, but man, it still hurts.