28 December 2007

Head . . . throbbing

No, not from the kids playing the Wii that Santa brought.

No, not from incessant Christmas music.

No, not from the huge 40-minute line I stood in yesterday to buy cheap Bath & Body Works stuff.

I have yet another *)(&^*&^ sinus infection.

These things hit me like a freight train. I got one at Thanksgiving, and now another one is in full swing. I'm off to go take a nap with my Vaporizer running full tilt and load up on Sudafed. Even my teeth hurt.

This is one Christmas gift I could have done without.

Hopefully I'll rise from the throbbing in time to raise a glass of bubbly on New Year's Eve.

20 December 2007

Dear Santa

In shamelessly stealing from Ms.G and C2, I'm doing this blog post in honor of a fine Maneater tradition. Although I was only a groupie, and not a staff member, I fondly recall the wacky notes that they'd use to fill out the ad columns around Christmas.

In that spirit --

Dear Santa:

I know I've been incredibly whiny this year, but I've tried to be patient and good whenever possible. Give me bonus points for not actually ripping several peoples' heads off during long meetings this year, even when they deserved it.

My list, to wit:

* A lovely new silver MacBookPro to call my own, complete with decent audio editing software (Garage Band is good, not great).

* A new freelance website. My husband says he'll build one, but he never has time.

* Clients. Lots of them. Well-paying clients.

* The Registrar's Office to not mess with my classes so that I can earn my graduate degree in Dec. 08.

* Patience. I know I ask for this every year, but I need more. A lot more.

* V.Sattui reds. Cases of them. Greg Norman Cab Sav will do as well. Preferably 2002.

* A new school board that understands the wonder and great possibilities within my kids' school. They are on the warpath again to shut it down, and I'm tired of this battle. It would be a tragedy for it to be shut down, and I need you to help them see that.

* More time for my husband.

* Better jobs for both of us. Ones that don't drive us crazy, require us to care about school closings other than the ones our kids attend, and ones that pay well.

* My husband could really use some free time. And help him to find a hobby. He needs to remember how to play.

* A Wii. And hopefully, said Wii will help us get off the couch and move more.

* Unlimited clothing and shoe money. Ann Taylor Loft and Target could really, really, really use an economic boost, don'tcha think?

* A handyman. We really need to finish a zillion projects around the house, and neither of us have time or skills to do it. At the very least, could I get someone to paint the ceilings and the living room in my house?

* Healthy kids. Thank you for that gift this year. I'd like it again next year.

11 December 2007

Where I Stand

If John Cardinal Henry Newman doesn't sum up my ideas on truth, faith, and belief within a university setting, I don't know what does:

“a place to which a thousand schools make contributions; in which the intellect may safely range and speculate, sure to find its equal in some antagonist activity, and its judge in the tribunal of truth.”

Where I work right now would have some disagreements with Cardinal Newman. So would some of the hierarchy within my church.

I'd noticed a few years ago that place my husband and I were married no longer referred to itself as The Newman Center. Not that the saint they now tout (St. Thomas More) is a slouch. But somehow I missed that Cardinal Newman is not only uncool, but a threat.

In National Catholic Reporter this week, there's a good analysis of how critical thinking and questioning seem to be discouraged in Catholicism lately. That is a loss. Rigidity lead us to the Reformation and the Inquisition. Do we really want to go back to that?

08 December 2007

Day in the life: Weekend

7:30 a.m.: Hear youngest screaming "MOOOOOOMMMMMYYYYYYYY!!!" Try to ignore.
7:31 a.m.: Give up. Get youngest. Bribe her with "snuggle" in bed in attempt to sleep in.
7:32 a.m.-7:47 a.m.: Have youngest thwap me with stupid bunny blankets. Stick fingers in my eye. Whap me on the chest for fun.
8 a.m. Ask second child to take sister with him and feed her breakfast. Shove husband out of bed, under pretense of concern that he needs to go to the gym.
8:15 a.m.: Youngest comes in to torture me further. Chase out.
8:30 a.m.: See above.
9 a.m.: Shout at younger two kids, who come into room to torment me while I attempt to sleep.
10 a.m.: Wake up. Consider getting up.
10:15 a.m.: Get up. Clean bathroom before taking shower.
10:39 a.m.: Take shower. Enjoy hot water, which I rarely get because our hot water heater does not work well in winter.
11 a.m.: Make coffee. Consider options for lunch. Alert husband that I am awake.
11:15 a.m.: Make peanut butter fudge.
11:30 a.m.: Start lunch.
11:50 a.m.: Call kids down for lunch.
11:53 a.m.: Yell at kids for complaining about all the food on table.
Noon: Clean up lunch. Start cleaning toilets. Discover eldest didn't really scrub one sink well, bring her back to redo.
12:30 p.m.: Throw tablecloth and rugs in the wash.
12:50 p.m.: Toss wash in dryer. Beg husband to take youngest and tuck her in nap, as youngest is whiny and annoying.
1:20 p.m.: Husband finishes work on computer, tucks youngest in nap.
1:24 p.m.: Inform elder children to find somewhere else to play, as Mom must work on research paper.
1:45 p.m.: Get really annoyed that APA style takes for-freaking-ever to do references page.
2 p.m.: Stall for bit on Fark.com.
3:36 p.m.: Decide hands are freezing, reference page almost done, go make hot chocolate.
3:47 p.m.: Praise elder two on the tent/fort they made upstairs in guest room. Ask them to come down for hot chocolate and peppermint Jo Jos from Trader Joes.
3:51 p.m.: Lick fingers from Jo Jo, take hot chocolate upstairs to re-read research paper and revise.
4:30 p.m.: Finish research paper (thank God!) and decide to start dinner.
5 p.m.: Get little one up from nap.
5:12 p.m.: Ask husband to come upstairs and pry youngest off my leg, so I can work on dinner.
5:13 p.m.: Remember stuff in dryer. Get tablecloth out and put on table.
5:14 p.m.-5:45 p.m.: Make dinners (one for tonight, one that can simmer on wood stove, should we lose power in ice storm tomorrow).
5:50 p.m.: 6:15 p.m.: Eat dinner.
6:16 p.m.: Send husband off to bathe younger kids. Tell eldest to take long shower and get a break. Clean dinner dishes.
6:20 p.m.: Discover son wet bed. Son did not tell anyone he wet bed. Strip sheets. Shove new sheets at husband and march off to laundry room to wash &*)(^%*&%^ sheets.
6:30 p.m.: Decide to make bar cookies, because I like them and they won't take long to make.
6:47 p.m.: Toss sheets in dryer.
6:55 p.m.: Slide bar cookies in oven, head off to take long hot bath while husband has kids occupied with SpongeBob.
7:30 p.m.: Shout vaguely at husband as he announces he is leaving for poker game.
7:31 p.m.: Get out of bath, dress, go fetch cookies out of oven.
7:45 p.m.: Feed kids snack, chase to bed.
8 p.m.: Help brush teeth. Tuck in bed.
8:15 p.m.: Tuck youngest in again.
8:30 p.m.: Start freelance project.
8:40 p.m.: Figure out freelance site won't let me in.
8:45 p.m.: Grumpily discover youngest is banging on her door. Ask eldest to go to bed 15 minutes early, tuck youngest in again.
9ish: Send note to freelance client that system not working.
9:17 p.m.: Tuck youngest in AGAIN!
9:20 p.m.: Decide to read Fark.com
9:24 p.m.: Blog pathetic day.

And that's it. I'm going to bed. I might read Real Simple. I can't bear to watch TV. It's weather porn right now, as every station spazzes about the ice storm that may or may not hit. If it does hit, you probably won't hear from me for days.

02 December 2007

Stupid Sooner Saturday

It was a busy Saturday for us:

Breakfast with Santa in the morning. The eldest was rolling her eyes, because she's clued into the Jolly Old Elf. The youngest was terrified, to the point that she shrieked, and NOT with glee when Santa made his appearance. We hid out by a coworker who came in late and was seated far, far, far away from Santa.

We put up Christmas decorations during the day.

At night, we started the M-I-Z chant, but the flipping Sooners started off strong in the second half, and our defense AND offense didn't show. Bummer, baby.

Being ranked No. 1 was good while it lasted.

26 November 2007


No. 1.

I never thought I'd see it in my lifetime. Seriously.

I'm on cloud 9. Forget turkey. The best part of Thanksgiving happened Saturday night.

And to celebrate (with apologies to KU fans Allison and Kathy, and NU fan Brad):

Four football fans go rock climbing one afternoon, a Nebraska fan, an Oklahoma fan, a Kansas fan, and a Mizzou fan. They had been arguing all the way up the mountain about who among them was the most die-hard fan.

Upon reaching the top of the mountain, the Nebraska fan proclaimed to the other three, "THIS IS FOR THE HUSKERS!" and promptly threw himself off the mountain as a form of sacrifice, screaming "GO BIG RED!" as he fell to his death.

Not to be outdone, the Oklahoma fan jumped up and shouted, "THIS IS FOR THE SOONERS!" and threw himself off the mountain.

Refusing to be outdone by the Nebraska and Oklahoma fans, the Mizzou fan rose to his feet and yelled at the top of his lungs, "THIS IS FOR THE MU TIGERS!" and without hesitation pushed the KU fan off the mountain.

16 November 2007

He'll either be a brilliant lawyer

or a psychopath. Or a brilliant psychopath lawyer.

(is that redundant? --sorry my lawyer relatives and friends, couldn't resist--)

My middle son, age 5, is showing a great capacity for drawing very, very fine lines with ethics. He's also good at pushing and pushing and pushing right up until he finds where the line is.

Point No. 1:

Amazingly, he does nothing wrong. It's always his younger sister. Or some kid at school.

Point No. 2:

When he stole a magnet from school yesterday, he informed my spouse that "The guardian angel on my shoulder must have been looking away for a minute."

Point No. 3:

He informed me early in the school year that he could get into some trouble at school every day, but not a lot of trouble.

How is this possible, you ask?

His teacher does the green-yellow-orange-red system. You get in trouble, you lose your green popsicle stick and get a yellow, and so on.

But to get to yellow, you get three strikes.

So my son, Lord love him, has been getting two strikes, knowing that he can.

I informed his kindergarten teacher of this at parent-teacher conferences a month ago. She was, um, a bit surprised he figured that one out so fast. So she's been keeping a hawk's eye on him to nip him in the bud.

Yet, he managed to steal a magnet from school yesterday. My poor spouse got to lower the boom on him, because I was in grad school last night. When I got home, the boy was chastened (sort of).

We sent him to school with the magnet, a note, and the requirement that he apologize to his teacher and fess up to what he did.

I'm going to pick him up from aftercare in 20 minutes. I'm really hoping that he had a good day, but yet, still learned a lesson.

This parenting thing is HARD, y'all.

12 November 2007


People at work are driving me nuts.

Others are being supportive.

It really is a toss-up some days on who outnumbers whom.

07 November 2007

New Crockpot Recipe

I tried a new one tonight. It went over so-so, but I suspect it is because I live with picky people.

Chicken Burritos

1 14 oz. can of corn
1 14 oz. can of black beans
1 package of taco seasoning
1 package of ranch dressing mix
4 chicken breasts
1 16 oz. jar of salsa.

Mix the undrained corn and beans into crockpot with spices. Add chicken on top. Pour salsa over all. Cook in crockpot on high for 4-5 hours.

Heat up tortillas when you get home. Shred chicken, and add your favorite toppings w/bean and corn mix.

I like it. The chicken went over well with the picky. Most of my crew hates beans (black, pinto or kidney), so that part was a hard sell.

Warning: This is very filling.

03 November 2007

Note the (small) changes

I still haven't gotten around to doing the template the way I want it, but I did edit the left bar.

Note the new books we at Mommy-Tracked are reading, as well as the link to the Amazon.com gift list. It is under my name, but it reflects the wants of our entire Mommy-Tracked family for the upcoming holidays (and in the case of the eldest, Turkey-day birthdays).

That latter change is for family only. For those in the friend/outside unknown reader loop, you can browse to see what we are up to, but do not buy us anything. : )

30 October 2007

21 Deer

Imagine that old Johnny Carson Carnac sketch:

21 deer, one skunk, one possum.

What are the potential animal ping-pong balls aiming for your new car as you drive up Hwy. 5 in Arkansas at midnight on the way to visit the grandparents for a long weekend?

Yeah, that was fun. I'm never driving that curvy, nasty stretch of road late at night ever again.

On the upside, kids had great time with grandparents, and we didn't actually hit any of the targets. Or have the targets jump into us.

14 October 2007

The Wisdom of Anne

Anne-with-an-E, Anne of Green Gables.

Whenever I get downright depressed, demoralized, and discouraged, I pull out my Anne of Green Gables novels. In this latest re-reading, I'm amazed at how true so much of what L.M. Montgomery wrote a century ago is.

When I was 12, I was the red-headed misfit who daydreamed too much. I never read the other novels at that time (and just as well, because I wasn't emotionally ready or mature enough for them). But Anne spoke to me. I was a "kindred spirit."

When I was in high school, I discovered the other novels. One of my college roommates and I read those books again and again. We sobbed when Ruby Gillis died a horrid death. We felt Anne's agony of knowing Gilbert cared too much, and then died a death with her when she learned that she really did love him.

When I lost my first child to miscarriage, I wept when I re-read the chapter where Anne and Gilbert lost their little Joyce.

Now, re-reading again (and sobbing again when Ruby Gillis died, which convinced my eldest that her mom really is nuts), I'm amazed at how well Montgomery knew human nature and how well she portrayed love and marriage. In Anne of Ingleside, the final chapters are focused on an Anne my age, who is feeling neglected, overworked, and unloved.

Everything ends up all right between Anne and Gilbert, but the overall message -- that we mustn't become so self-centered that we forget our loved ones have weighy things on their shoulders, too, and that we should care for ourselves, and not just our houses, our children, and our careers -- just brought tears to my eyes.

That passage spoke to my heart. I feel that way now. And the fact that women a century ago had those same feelings just makes me realize it is natural. We must take a break to feed our souls.

I've been doing that this weekend. Fall break is this week. Two of my grad classes are cancelled. I put things (like housework and writing) on hold, to take time for me, for my children, and for my husband.

Anne (and L.M.M.) is wise. I'm taking a century's worth of wisdom to heart.

08 October 2007


Remember last winter' when a child was kidnapped from one of the stops on my bus route?

The guy who did it pleaded guilty today. He'll be in jail for life. Good.

In a message he passed on through his lawyer, he says he feels at peace with his decision.

You know what, NO. I want him to have no peace. What he did to those two families, those two boys, was horrific. I want him to be remorseful, guilty, and agonize over what he did for the rest of his confined days.

Story is here

03 October 2007

Mr. Goodbear visits

We had a furry visitor last night. He was about three feet tall, caramel-colored fur, and very polite.

Mr. Goodbear only visits kindergarteners who are good for an entire month. "Good" is determined by keeping your popsicle stick green. If you act up after three warnings, you go to yellow. Then orange. Then red.

My little guy, suprisingly, kept his popsicle stick green an entire month. He was the first kindergartener to have Mr. Goodbear visit. So Mr. Goodbear hung out at aftercare with my little guy. He rode home in our van. He ate dinner with us, he watched SpongeBob with us, he ate a snack, brushed his teeth, and went to bed.

My little guy, who can be the rowdiest, goofiest, silliest five-year-old boy you've ever met, was just glowing the entire visit.

27 September 2007

Oh, for the love of Riley

Guess what?

Latest Thomas recall . . .

Yup. We have Toad. And I'm pretty sure it was the one they sent to us as a freebie for turning all the other lead-coated stuff earlier this summer.

You have got to be kidding me. This is a farce at this point. We are checking the Consumer Product Safety Commission website almost every other week and then searching through the piles of toys in our house.

I don't care if it would cost more for toys if they were produced in the U.S. Move the manufacturing back here. This is ridiculous.

19 September 2007

In honor of my husband

Because without him, there is no way I could stay even semi-sane after all the stress of the past 18 months:

Powered by AOL Video

17 September 2007

Too many great-grandmothers

We were at a family wedding this weekend. My family.

With 16 cousins on one side and 14 on the other, we go to a LOT of weddings.

At any rate, I'm herding the younger two out to gather more food from the snack line at the reception. I'm leading them out, my grandmother (my kids' great-grandmother) is being wheeled in.

Now, keep in mind, my grandmother has been slipping in and out of reality for months. You never know what you'll get.

She sees my son, calls him over, and asks, "Are you the little boy I used to watch?"

Oh, Lord, thinks I. I have NO clue what she's talking about, or who she thinks my son is. Could be anyone over a 60-year span of time. So I whisper to my five-year-old guy, "Play along."

So he does, he nods, he smiles. Then he says:

"I thought you were dead!"

Oh God. Save me now.

Keep in mind, one of his great-grandmothers did die recently.

"Other great-grandma," I hiss. "Other great-grandma." And I shuttle them away. Thankfully, no one but me heard him.

Kids: You never know what will come out of their mouths. Be warned.

14 September 2007

Nary a bubble skirt to be seen

Thank goodness!

Being sick means I've missed the NY fall fashion shows. But NY magazine has a good wrap up, with photos.

No bubble skirts. Normal, cute slip dresses. Suits I'd wear.

The insanity is over, thank God.

12 September 2007

Cough, hack, wheeze

I have been down and out with one of the worst illnesses I've ever had.

Seven days of hacking, wheezing, fevers that come and go, lack of appetite, and utter exhaustion. I finally dragged myself to the doctor yesterday and now have a lovely stash of antibiotics and other drugs.

I've never taken five sick days in a row. Never. Not even with morning sickness at its worst. But this totally kicked my tuckus.

Let's just hope the kids don't get it. If they do, we're toast.

03 September 2007

Death in our family

My husband's grandmother passed away last week.

We had just visited her during our vacation, as a part of the trip we stopped at a family reunion, planned partly to celebrate the 65 years she and his grandfather had been married.

She was a wonderful woman. She welcomed me to the family with open arms. Literally. She swallowed me in a bear hug after our college commencement ceremonies. This was the first time I had met most of my husband's extended family, a mere two weeks before our wedding. His grandmother made me feel comfortable within their family.

She called herself the weather witch, and she took responsibility for any and all weather. She apologized for the drizzle on our wedding day, and then reminded me that rain on anyone's wedding day is a sign of good luck.

I loved her like my own grandmother. In fact, she felt like my grandmother. When we lived in New York, we'd drive up to their house for holidays and sleep in the cramped back bedroom, and eat from a groaning table filled with food fixed by my husband's grandfather.

My only fault, as far as she was concerned, is that I hated playing cards. Oh, I often did, but I am a miserable card player (I really do hate playing card games). Right now, I'm treasuring those memories of her attempting to teach me how to play hand and foot.

She loved my kids dearly, and always e-mailed to ask for pictures.

I miss her dearly, and she hasn't even been gone a week. It seems slightly unreal, because I was just talking to her three weeks ago.

I'm not sure who would be designated the new family weather witch, but I'd like to apply for the position, in honor of her.

31 August 2007

Start o' school

Actually, we started two weeks ago. This year has been a blur. Immediately after school started, my husband came down with the flu, then I caught it, and my grad classes started that same week. So it actually was a miracle that our children were dressed, homework finished, and at school on time at all.

Eldest starts middle school/jr. high. Sixth, seventh and eighth graders at her school change classes. This is her first taste of the rotating days, juggling multiple assignments from multiple teachers. It's also the science fair year.

Remember my post on recorders?

This is worse.

My only saving grace is that I a) sort of like science and b) her teacher believes it should be a part of their class work each day. Bless her.

Middle son started kindergarten. He was a little nervous this year, but once he settled in, he was okay.

I went back to my office and cried. I dropped him off at kindergarten in the same car we brought him home from the hospital in. He shouldn't have grown up so darn fast. He's still my little guy, one who loves to snuggle and cuddle. I know those days are numbered. I don't want to lose my little guy, but he's getting bigger each day.

Littlest one has become very independent. "I cawn do IT mySELF!" is her favorite line. Unless, of course, we ask her to do No. 2 on the potty. Then we get: "No, I cawn't do it."


I'm thinking next semester I will only take one seated course for grad school. I'm starting to feel overwhelmed, and I'm only two weeks in. It probably isn't as bad as I feel it is, and once I get some homework done, I'll feel better, I know.

Plus, my boss gave us all the afternoon off. Happy Labor Day, y'all. Enjoy the last blast of summer!

24 August 2007

Oh, ick

So, I suspected that a mouse might have gotten in our house, and I've found confirmation today: mouse doo-doo and Fruit Loops scattered all through the cabinent with cereal and the utensil drawer, too.

Oh, ick, ick, ick, ick, ick.

I can handle snakes and all sorts of creepy crawly things, but not rodents.

I want it out of my house. I don't even care about painlessly. I just want it GONE.

The kids are appalled that I want to kill, and I quote, "One of God's creatures."

My response: "God's creatures are welcome outside. Where. They. Belong."

I have never wanted our bitter, angry cat back more than I do at this minute. I may ask the parents to bring her back from the farm for a week or so if we can't get rid of the rodent quickly. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick.

15 August 2007

We're back

I didn't mean to go on hiatus there, folks. I had two papers to finish and a web project to do the first week of August for class. Then things hit the fan at work. Then we went on vacation.

So I sort of dropped out of sight.

Vacation was good. We met up with hubby's extended family in upstate NY. Corning of Corning Glass fame. It's gorgeous up there.

I know I hit the jackpot with my in-laws. I love them all. We don't get together often (maybe that helps), but we do get along well when we do. It was nice to commiserate with my husband's cousins, get sympathy from his aunts, and see my sister-in-law and brother-in-law in person again, as opposed to communicating via blog entry. :)

The kids had a great time. My eldest played with her older second cousins. My middle son had a blast with the second cousin who is only a year older than he is. Both boys spent a lot of time exploring physics and gravity with a see saw. The youngest charmed everyone, mostly because she was the youngest there, and most of them haven't seen her in person.

We also hit the Baseball Hall of Fame, Gettysburg and King's Island on the way home. The Hall of Fame was packed and not much fun because of it. Barry Bonds kind of ruined it, too. The Wall of Records on the third floor is updated constantly, and he's on quite a few. Depressing.

Gettysburg was humbling. Just thinking of the sheer numbers of men who died on those fields is overwhelmingly sad. It was hot, so we didn't hike many of the stops, but we did manage to paint a visual picture for the older two, enough to keep them occupied and interested. We did have to tell them to, um, stop pretending to be exuberant Union soldiers at the Hornet's Nest on the Little Big Top, because there were relatives of Confederates there, too. I didn't want to offend, or get into an argument about the War of Northern Aggression.

King's Island was fun, albeit hot. It was 101 the day we were there. I forced the little one to go through a SpongeBob maze that involved sprinklers, even though she hates things like that. I was so darn hot. Middle child learned that not watching where Mom is will result in you getting lost. He wandered away from me in the maze, and I couldn't catch him. Luckily, he did the right thing, and found a worker who led my sobbing little guy to me. It was a lesson painfully learned for him.

We'll go back someday. And hopefully the littlest will acquire some daredevil tendencies. She rode three rides, total. All tame, and one only after much convincing. The carousel was much too scary for her, believe it or not. This is the same kid I caught jumping from hotel bed to hotel bed, covering a gap bigger than she is.

22 July 2007

I believed in Severus Snape


I believed. I was right.

I cried buckets. RIP Dobby, Fred, Lupin, Tonks and Hedwig.

It was a wonderful book. A wonderful series. Now I have to keep my opinions under wraps, so my kids can find out in their own times.

Thanks J.K.R.

18 July 2007

Someone else like me

I'm trying to get a news ticker on this blog. I have one on the one for class, and it is nice. But because this blog goes through our server rather than Blogger's, I have issues.

One of the stories that popped up on my ticker (set to "working mom") pretty much sums it up for me on the economic impacts of having kids:

If I continue my accounting of the annual bill for my working summer, I can't omit one number that begins to explain why my work can't possibly cover the costs of the childcare that makes it possible: government statistics say that mothers like me have to stomach a 7% hourly wage penalty per child. I have three kids. That's 21%. Ouch. The survey cites the usual reasons--loss of job experience; employer discrimination against women with children; and the one I'm most interested in for the sake of this argument--a tendency to seek lower-paying, mother-friendly jobs. I have to be in a flex job, working freelance from home instead of full-time in my old office at Fortune magazine. How else am I going to stop at four o'clock to pick up all these kids from all these camps?

I fail to understand why, as a nation, we persist in structuring the year this way.

Stephanie Losee continues to explain the true cost of working. It's not a choice for a lot of families like ours. We need two incomes, plain and simple. The price we pay is a high one, folks.

Read the full article

16 July 2007

Gah. Too much (home) work

Okay. My name is Mommy-tracked, and I admit it: Taking six hours of grad school classes within a month's time was not smart.

I'm drowning here. Okay, I wouldn't be drowning if the Harry Potter book wasn't due to land on my doorstep in a few days, tempting me to read the book rather than write the two five- to six-page papers I have due before August starts.

Um, yeah. I can do it. Really, I can. I just have to avoid HP temptation and not blog much.

Sorry guys.

On the upside:

Second child has learned how to read a bit. He's very excited.

Youngest child has figured out how to use the potty doing No. 1. Anyone who has tips on getting her to do No. 2 is welcome to offer them below. Blackmail of more jellybeans is not working.

Eldest is awesome child who is helping me get through this with some semblance of sanity intact. I owe her. What to get child to show her how much I appreciate her help? Ideas helpful.

11 July 2007


I'm messing around with the blog, so please ignore any goofy layout or settings. I'm doing it when I have time. Apologies.

09 July 2007

Back to School, Day One

So, I survived day one of grad school.

Actually, it wasn't that hard. I showed up with my notebook, my pen, and sat at the computer. The class is taught by a former co-worker, and they've lumped grad students in with undergrads (joy). There are probably 10 of us.

Our task today: Set up a blog on Blogger.


Two of us already blog, so it took us about five minutes. Several others had never heard of a blog or Blogger or TypePad or Wordpress.


If you are a communications undergrad (and as best I can tell, I'm the only grad student in there), how can you NOT know about this? I was amazed.

So, I now have two blogs, one here, and one for class. I have to do a major project. No idea what that might be, but if you have ideas for a multimedia one that I can do in a month, shout out below.

The rest of the class will involve things that I barely know how to do . . . building a website using Dreamweaver, podcasting, vidcasting, all those cool toys I barely know how to use.

But day one was just easy. Hope it stays that way.

28 June 2007

'I get beanbeans?'

So, we're potty training. Again.

This is one of my least favorite tasks in child rearing. It involves brainwashing a small, strong-willed person that the way they've been doing things for years is now unacceptable, and that sitting on a large (to them) suction device is the way to go. Literally.

It bites.

Our first put us through 18 months of battling, screaming, pleading hell. I still have nightmares about potty training that child.

The second was a breeze. I took away his diapers about two weeks into changing two kids' diapers, and never looked back. He bought into the whole concept within a weekend. I marvel at how easy that was.

The last one is somewhere between the two. For weeks, we've heard "I cawn't doooooo it!" plaintively said while perched on the big potty. So we hauled out the training potty seat. I was hoping to avoid this, because, honestly, cleaning out the sucker is gross. And a pain. So much easier to do it directly where you want it, kwim?

So, the potty seat's been a hit. I plop her on it, put on SpongeBob, and wait. Unfortunately, this child has better bladder control than anyone I've ever seen.

Thus, I give you the following play, "Extortion by Two-Year-Old, in One Act":

SCENE: Living room. Toys are scattered everywhere. TV is blaring Winnie the Pooh, Classic Version.
Child sitting on potty seat, watching TV. Mother collapsed on couch, arm over eyes, trying to rest.

CHILD, who stands up, happy: "I diwd it, I diwd it!"

Mom gets up, looking in potty seat, sees five drops of urine. After weeks of no output, decides this is probably worth praising, and shrugs, then . . .

MOM: "Good job! High five!" (Child high-fives Mom.) "Okay, let's go get a jellybean! Great job!"

CHILD, who lusts after jellybeans: "I get bean bean?"

MOM: "Yup, great job! You get jellybeans for going potty in the potty! What color?"

CHILD: "Orwange."

Mom gives child jellybean from stash kept on high shelf. Both resume positions held previously, child on potty seat, happily chewing jellybean, mom collapsing on couch to get nap. Silence, held for about two minutes, then five seconds later:

CHILD: "I diwd it, I diwd it!"

Mom, looking in potty seat, sees five drops of urine. Decides to keep up positive reinforcement.

MOM: "Good job! High five!" (Child high-fives Mom.) "Okay, let's go get a jellybean! Great job!"

CHILD: "I get bean bean?"

MOM: "Yup, great job! You get jellybeans for going potty in the potty! What color?"

CHILD: "Bwue."

Mom gives child jellybean from stash kept on high shelf. Both resume positions held previously, child on potty seat, happily chewing jellybean, mom collapsing on couch to get nap. Silence, held for about two minutes, then five seconds later:

CHILD: "I diwd it, I diwd it!"

Mom, looking in potty seat, sees five drops of urine. Starting to sense she is being played, mom says lines in less enthusiasic voice:

MOM: "Good job! High five!" (Child high-fives Mom.) "Okay, let's go get a jellybean! Great job!"

CHILD: "I get bean bean?"

MOM: "Yup, great job! You get jellybeans for going potty in the potty! What color?"

CHILD: "yewwow."

Mom gives child jellybean from stash kept on high shelf. Both resume positions held previously, child on potty seat, happily chewing jellybean, mom collapsing on couch to get nap. Silence, held for about two minutes, then five seconds later:

CHILD: "I diwd it, I diwd it!"

Mom, looking in potty seat, sees five drops of urine. KNOWS she is being played, mom drags herself over to jellybean stash and says:

MOM: "Um, could we do more in the potty next time? You might get more jellybeans."

Child considers, then shakes head:

CHILD: "I cawn't do it."

And scene.

Yup. That's pretty much how it's been going, though we've convinced her that for five jellybeans, she can give up most of the um, product, she's withholding.

20 June 2007

Thomas Trains and China

So, my younger two are Thomas the Tank Engine addicts.

We own several hundred dollars worth of table, track, trains, accessories, DVDs. It is insane. But it is one thing my son, and now my youngest daughter, truly loves and plays with, so I buy the darn things almost every holiday and birthday.

Last week's recall really sucked for us.

One television news tease had my husband looking for more details. A visit to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's website confirmed that we owned several of the lead-paint-coated suckers. We spent a few hours comparing a huge bin of trains and other train-related things to the photos on the website.

They've been mailed off for a refund. I'm just annoyed that no one is bothering to do any oversight of the places that they subcontract with. I mean, I can see el cheapo toys not meeting requirements, but Thomas the Tank Engine sets aren't cheap. Those puppies range from $10-$200 each. At those prices, I expect quality and safety. Not some lame answer about how they didn't know.

Back to School

Not the kids.


As part of my benefits package, I get free tuition. I've never seen how I would have the time, but two summer classes pricked my interest.

If I do two classes, I might as well do the other 10.

So if I blog less, now you know why.

Blame the homework.

12 June 2007

Poison Ick

Okay, remember the post below, when I mentioned that I had a few bug bites on my arm that looked awful?

Guess what? Not bug bites.

Poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac. Not sure which I got into while weeding, but it was one of 'em. And it has been years since I've had poison ivy, so I didn't realize what it was.

Also, the Calamine (tm) lotion we had in the house was left over from when eldest had the chicken pox. In 1997. Apparently that stuff doesn't last 10 years, because it didn't dry up the "bites."

By Saturday, it was bad. I was in St. Louis with the parents, when my dad id'ed the nasty stuff. By Sunday, it was spreading.

By Monday, I called in sick, because I had blisters on both arms, my stomach, and one leg. All up and down all four body parts. I was going through half-a-tube of the new Calamine (tm) lotion at a time.

My doc looked at me, sighed, and decided that at this point, the only thing to do was suppress my immune system. It was attacking everything, not just the original ivy. So I'm on pills to keep my immune system down for a couple of weeks, to let the nasty stuff work its way through my system.

I look like I've bathed in Calamine (tm) lotion. Aveeno baths are my savior. Thank God for Benadryl (tm).

I'll look just fine and dandy for my cousin's wedding. Maybe a pantsuit will hide the worst of it, assuming I can bear to wear it.

It could be worse. This isn't nearly as bad as when I had the chicken pox at 12. Close, but not quite there.

08 June 2007

Ahhh. Spaaaaaa.

Today, I cash in my Mother's Day gift: An afternoon at my favorite spa. I can't wait.

I just hope the massage therapist doesn't cringe at my skin. I'm covered in mosquito bites. There was one in the house all week, and it just feasted on my eldest and me. My right arm looks awful.

Maybe I'll bandage that before I go.

30 May 2007

Parenting one is so much easier

This week, the older two are hanging with their grandparents. While they fish, sail, and in general have fun, we only have the youngest.

Ways this has made life easier:

1) The ride back from grandparents' house was silent, as youngest napped most of the way. No squabbling.

2) Youngest knows how to occupy herself, unlike middle child, who treats alone time like solitary confinement.

3) Youngest does not whine incessantly. Yet.

4) No one to pick on. No one to fight with over the couch. No one to fight with toys. Youngest has taken to a "mine, all mine!" attitude with toys. And there is no one around to gainsay her. She's in heaven.

5) Youngest goes to bed at 8 sharp. I have hours of time to do housework, errands, whatever before I collapse.

6) Only one kid means we don't have to wake up as early to start the morning shuffle.

7) Only one place to stop after work for daycare pickup.

8) Possibility that I'll get called out of work due to sick child is now much less.

That's not to say I don't miss the older two. But silence in our house right now is golden.

Plus, it gives me a good chance to fix the popped nails/broken plaster in my son's room without a curious five-year-old around to "help."

21 May 2007

Me & Bob B. II

Video, now uploaded at YouTube. Props to B.Shipman, the professor who created the video, and did an awesome job helping us out all weekend with the video end of things.

14 May 2007

Me & Bob B.

I survived.

For all the work, it was actually pretty fun. I only got to see Bob up close (and he looks about like what you'd think your 83-year-old grandpa would look like). I didn't get to chat with him. Child 1 got to talk to him and shake his hand; she was mortified. (I was out of the room, answering a question after the magazine photo shoot, she was sitting there, waiting for me, and Bob came up and talked to her.)

Everything went off without a hitch, despite the fact that it was 86 degrees, the gym has no AC. A lot of the photos look like everyone up there in robes has flop sweat. Unavoidable, but still.

I had to use my "Mom Voice" (tm) during the procession. Photographers were leaping into the street and into the line (our students process down the main college street to the gym; Bob and the faculty are at the head of the line). I firmly but loudly asked them to step back off the street. They were crowding the faculty and eventually would crowd Bob, plus they were screwing up the shot for the TV crews, who were behaving.

I'll post video when I can, but for now, Bob gave a great graduation speech, seemed to have a good time, and I'm happy he's now headed back to Cali.

I'm wiped.

20 April 2007

Bad things happen

That's what I've been telling my daughter. My son. My students.

Virginia Tech and what happened there is a bad thing. Bad things happen. They happen, and there isn't a darn thing you can do to prevent it.

Scary, but true.

My workplace has been on a low-level freak-out ever since Monday. It amazes me that some people seem to think we can write a crisis plan that would prevent this.

You can't stop someone bent on causing havoc. You can plan, but eventually, bad things happen.

Bad things happened at Virginia Tech. Bad things happened at UT years ago.

I refuse to live my life in fear of bad things. I can't.

Life is risk. You can weigh the risks, but ultimately, risk is there.

Bad things happen. You can't do anything about it. That's life.

Whether you use faith in religon to help you understand, or you are more pragmatic, or both (in my case), you have to be prepared for bad things. You can't wrap yourself or your kids or your other loved ones in bubble wrap.

Go. Live life. Take risk. Celebrate good things, and don't fret about the bad ones.

31 March 2007

Quiet Saturday thoughts

I'm at work on a Saturday.

Why? Because our eldest is doing a math competition in another building on campus, and it seemed silly to drive home, then come back. I can crank iTunes as loud as I want, with explicit tunes, and no one will bother me. I can finish a bunch of little projects that have been hanging over my head while she does her thing, then walk over in an hour or so to see the award ceremony.

It's so quiet at work, I figured I'd take a minute to blog about silly things:

Our son has a crush on "Miss Sandy Duncan." Santa brought the first season of The Muppet Show and we watch it quite a bit. My little guy also has a crush on Miss Janice. It is very cute.

My littlest is about to be potty trained. Very sad in some ways (darn it, she's growing up, and I can't deny it), but hey, no more money wasted on diapers. Yay!

Okay, weird. I'm listening to a cd my former boss gave us before he left, a bunch of songs he burned from his eclectic iTunes playlist. This track: Tony Bennett singing Def Leppard's "Jump". Um, ick.

My eldest has a real soccer coach for the first time ever. Usually it is some parent who is just trying to coach. But this year she scored a mom who is a trained coach, trying to build a resume to get a "real" coaching job. My eldest is super-thrilled.

21 March 2007

Six weeks of heck

The next six weeks are going to be bad.

If you think I haven't posted much lately, just wait.

Some of it is child-related: Soccer starts x 2 this year. Middle child's birthday party is in there, too. Oh, and we are going to try and potty train the youngest over Easter break.

Some of it is work-related: Major speaker for Convocation series will come. Complete with protesters, because someone who is anti-war in this town will draw out all the pro-war folks. We've been catching heat on talk radio and letters to the editor for months. This happens the same week as middle child's birthday, btw. Oh, and Bob Barker is coming to speak at our commencement, and the Bob groupies are coming out of the woodwork.

No, I can't get you tickets, btw.

Some of it is politics-related: My kids' school was slated to lose a certified teacher this budget year. Problem: We don't have a teacher to spare. Many parents fought back, and we won a temporary reprieve from the school board. We get to keep the teacher this year. If the numbers aren't higher next year, we lose the teacher. No arguments. Guess who is one of the parents driving the new marketing committee for my kids' school?

Some of it is friend-family-work related: We have one weekend in there that has 1) a wedding 2) a family reunion 3) my husband presenting at a journalism conference.

So if you don't hear from me until after Mother's Day, don't send out search parties. I'm around. Just really, really, really freakin' busy.

01 March 2007

Ugh. Mom's tired.

Still no replacement for my boss. The other assistant director and are are starting to fray from the workload. It's been three months, going on four. Two major events around the corner. Not good.

Tornado sirens went off at 4:30 a.m. this morning. Lucky us. I should have stayed up and did laundry. Instead, I attempted to sleep. My four-year-old son made sure I didn't actually get any.

One good thing: Happy birthday Cat in the Hat!!

12 February 2007

Yay Dixie Chicks!

They cleaned up at the Grammys.

They deserved it. It's a great album, unlike a few others, which I have listened too. Other competitors had good songs, a couple of good hooks, but the Chicks had a solid album of awesomeness.

Other acts also probably didn't get death threats on a daily basis, and other acts actually had their music played on the radio.

I'm getting some sick pleasure from the fact that it also sticks it to the country conglomerate and Clear Channel. Enjoy your preprocessed country crud, which Haggard, Ford, Scruggs, and Lynn despised.

31 January 2007

Working mom survival guide

My sister-in-law discovered the wonder of crockpots recently. They are a complete staple in our house. We couldn't eat without ours. At least once a week I'll cook something in there. Often, it's enough for two meals for us, a family of five. It's a big crockpot. ;)

Work has been awful (note the lack of posts) since my boss left for his new job, and the crockpot has been doing a lot of duty.

Some favorite recipes:

Roast Beef ala Crockpot
1 roast
1-2 cans beef broth or consumme
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 bay leaves
Pepper to taste
1 can cola of your choice (diet or regular, does not matter)
Carrots (as many as you like)
Pearl onions (if you like)

Put everything in the crockpot. Order does not matter, though I've noticed that the carrots don't necessarily cook all the way through if they aren't in the liquid. Turn crockpot on high for 10-12 hours.

To mix it up, sometimes I'll add a 1/2 c. of sherry or red wine. Sometimes I add mushrooms (I love portabella).

I'll make either mashed potatoes or noodles when I get home.

Spaghetti Sauce
1 pound ground beef, cooked
1 small can tomato paste
2 jars tomato sauce, or 1 jar Prego or Ragu or your favorite spaghetti sauce.
2 Tbsp. minced garlic (note: I love garlic. If you hate it, leave it out.)
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning.
Mushrooms (as many as you like)

Mix all in crockpot. Stir mushrooms and meat through well. Cook on high 8 hours. Fix spaghetti when you get home.

For variety, I'll toss in all sorts of veggies (shhhh, don't tell the kids). Green and red and yellow peppers. Leftover eggplant. Whatever works.

A variation is to toss the noodles into the crockpot about 30 minutes before serving. I prefer the more traditional serving method (sauce ladled over spaghetti before eating), but for leftovers, if there are enough noodles, I'll toss 'em in and reheat.

My Mom's Soup, ala Crockpot
1 soup bone
Enough water to cover soup bone
1 28 oz. can tomato juice
1 can crushed tomatoes
Coupious amounts of seasoned salt or Mrs. Dash of your choice
1 bay leaf
Vegatables of your choice, chopped

Throw everything in pot. Cook for 5-6 hours on high, 8 or more on low.

At the last 30 minutes, either toss in rice *uncooked* or alphabet noodles *uncooked*.

I have more; I'll add a few some other time, but SpongeBob's almost over.

One more working mommy recipe to share:

Mommy-tracked's Hot Toddy
1-2 fingers of rum
Squirt of lemon juice
Dash of both nutmeg and cinnamon
1-2 fingers of piping hot water from teakettle
1 sugar cube

Mix. Enjoy!

23 January 2007

Nine days.

That's how long it took to get power back to our house.

We are lucky: There are still about 10,000 people in the city without power. At least one professor I know is living out of his office with his family, still, 10 days after the storm.

Yesterday I took time off to clean the house, scrub the fridge and floors, and move our things over from the rental where we were staying. There's at least one more load left. I still need to clean our deep freeze of the primordal frozen ooze in the bottom. That's tonight's project. Ick.

This weekend will probably be spent chainsawing the brush and trees down in our back yard. We need to reset the rock around a flowerbed, too. The ice played havoc with that, as well.

All in all, we came out well, if a bit cranky and frazzled. And now we know what to do next time:

* Have water. Lots of bottled water. We never lost water, but I know people who did. Best to have enough to get each person through at least two days.

* Put fuel in your cars before the storm hits. We actually know this, but didn't do it. We've lived north for years, and before a blizzard comes, you fill your tank. This time, we were busy and rushed, I was sick, and so it didn't get done. Then we were among those scrambling for gas after the storm, when 90 percent of the city was out of power. No power = No working gas pumps.

* Plan what you'll need for at least a week if you have to leave your home. On this, we did pretty well. I packed clothing to get us through, warm things, and as much as I could cram in a suitcase.

* Take all your important papers with you. We forgot this, but at least we had the option of going back to our house a day later and getting them. If it had been a hurricane, we'd have been screwed. Insurance papers, passports, birth certificates, financial statements. Take them with you. Buy a fireproof safe to keep them in, one that you can carry.

* Check the batteries. The first night, we figured out we had two working flashlights, and one was a Fisher Price kids' version. Ditto on the weather radio/battery-operated radio. Once power's gone, you are toast.

* Keep a landline phone. We have this, and it helped family members to know they could call us. Our cells stayed charged (car chargers), but there's no guarantee of the towers staying up (my coverage was awful, and I had tons of dropped calls while I was trying to work that first Monday).

* Have food ready that can be cooked over a fire. Again, I did well. We had tons of canned food. We had a woodstove, so we could eat.

* Have tons of firewood. Again, we did fine here. My parents delivered a stack this fall, and it was enough to get us through.

* Wrap pipes. My husband had to scramble to Lowe's late one night to get insulation to wrap our pipes. We should have done it years ago (just good fuel economy, actually). But it keep our pipes from freezing.

* Have a back-up, back-up, back-up plan. Our back-up plan fell through when my cousin lost power. So did our back-up back-up. It was sheer luck that we found a place to stay, and didn't have to spend a fortune in hotel fees. Plan three steps away from what you think you'll need to do. Next time, we know we can go to our church and stay. Or my office. Neither is ideal, but both were warm and had access to showers.

The more you know.

May none of you ever have to use these tips, but get them lined up, just in case.

19 January 2007

Crabby, man, am I ever

Still no power. At last count, there were 18,000 of us in the city without it. Snowstorm is on its way here, too. Joy.

Our yard is a wreck, limbs and two trees down. More could fall later, we'll just have to wait and see. Yet, we have it good: Some neighbors have trees on their homes, others are trapped by fallen trees in the next block up. They can't chainsaw the suckers: Powerlines are threaded throughout the mess.

You can tell at work now who has power and who doesn't: Those of us without power are cranky as all get out. It's been a week (as of 8 p.m. tonight). Most of us have been living elsewhere (hotels, offices, one friend had her family living in their restaurant). We've been checking property compulsively, both to keep pipes from freezing and to make sure our homes haven't been broken into yet.

It's exhausting.

Those of us still waiting for power are feeling a lot of sympathy for those who have been in hurricane hell. Katrina takes on a new perspective now. At least we can get to our stuff, and it hasn't washed away. I now understand how short-tempered you can get in a crisis. I'm trying to keep a good face for the kids and the overworked hubby (day 13 working now). But it is freakin' hard.

Does NOT help that I'm in a position of some limited power at work, and I'm getting heavier workloads from above, and folks from below who still need their projects done.

Crabby, thy name is Mommy-Tracked.

17 January 2007

Happy news followed by citywide crisis

On Friday night, I learned that they found not only the kidnapped boy from my hometown, but another boy who had been missing for four years. We couldn't have had better news.

Two hours later, we were in the middle of a horrid ice storm without power and only a wood stove for heat.

Five days later, we still don't have electricity at our house. We're fine, thanks to the generosity of my husband's boss, who has a vacant rental home in the 10 percent of the city that never lost power. The kids are safe and relatively happy.

Until the ice melts (tomorrow, hopefully it will start melting), we're in danger of having one of several trees land on our home. Our house is surrounded by trees, which are right now coated in an inch of ice. So far, so good. We've lost trees, but they've avoided hitting anything important.

Photos will go up at a later date, but you can check our local newspaper for the damage photos around town. I've lived through ice storms before, but nothing like this.

10 January 2007

Security shattered

I know that we can't keep our kids safe forever. The big bad world intervenes.

I know, for example, that there are three listed pedophiles within a mile of our house. Our kids know, too. They know pictures of these guys. They know that's why they can only play in the back yard, or the front yard with adult supervision.

But Monday afternoon, something happened to completely shatter my sense of having any secure place in this world.

A boy was kidnapped from a stop on my old childhood bus route. He's still not been found. I know his mother.

I grew up in a very rural area. People think (thought) nothing of letting kids walk a half mile home from the bus stop. Most of us hunted or hiked over miles of woods alone from the age of 10. I personally would go off on my bike with a neighbor boy and we'd go for five- or six-mile rides alone at 13.

Once, I was so annoyed at my mom, I took off through the woods for a waterfall I knew was on a neighbor's property. The sounds of water plunging four feet off the precipice soothed me.

My mother was frantic when I didn't come back for an hour. She had my uncle out searching for me. Not because she feared kidnapping, but because she feared I'd be shot.

It was deer season. I was wearing a brown coat. It was, in retrospect, an incredibly stupid thing to do.

But kidnapping was miles from her mind.

Now, when my kids go with me to the farm, I'm going to think twice about letting them hike alone. My eldest is at the same age I was granted freedom to wander the 300+ acres alone.

I can't let her do that now.

And the fact that I can't just breaks my heart.

08 January 2007

New year, new post

Dude . . . I know you are in a rush and all, and it's Sunday at Target, which is only slightly less hellish than Sunday at Wal-Mart.

But. . .

This is a parking lot, not Le Mans.

Don't run me down as you move that Suburban around the lanes, trying to find the. perfect. close. parking. spot.

Just park the damn thing and walk like the rest of us.

Thank you.