17 December 2008

Okay, mea culpa

I've been busy.

I wrapped up my marketing plan for class; I wrote my thesis. Several hundred pages of writing, proofing and revising later, I just didn't feel like blogging.

Then I was sick.

I'm better now, and happy to have had a writing break.

Holidays are upon us. The Mommy-Tracked kids have:

1) Placed first chair at district orchestra competition
2) Lost several teeth
3) Gotten bitten by the "reading bug" (if you have old Encyclopedia Browns you want to get rid of, let me know. I have a six-year-old who would love them.)
4) Decided that they love all Princess stuff. And the "spicy" JoJos (also known as the seasonal Peppermint ones. Oh, ye who live in the land of Trader Joe's, if you want to get a cheap gift for the Mommy-Tracked kids, there ya go. Boxes of JoJoes.)

Other things are perking and brewing. I'm getting ready to pitch a book. I'm rethinking my freelance business and planning to retool it a bit. I have one semester of class remaining until my master's. Praise be.

If I don't get back on the blog before the holidays: Merry Christmas to all of you (and Merry whatever you celebrate, too). See you on the flip side in the new year.

25 November 2008

Update: The car lives

Yay! A fix, a bill, and well, I have to live without AC for however long I drive this baby, but at least we don't have to find a way to fund another car payment.

20 November 2008

No wheels

The trusty car I've had for 12 years is currently sitting at the dealership.

Nothing huge: A belt snapped. Said belt runs the power steering. YOU try driving a manual transmission without power steering. Not easy.

It is fixable; the dealer is backed up, though. It could be another day, though. This job is fussy and a PITA to fix. I cringe to think of the labor on this bill. The parts are nothing, cost wise.

However, it is tempting to consider a new car. I hate sinking $$ into an older car. I've been burned more than once. If the CR-V hadn't died last year, my car would have been replaced. Now, it has to hang in at least another two or three years. Maybe more, if this economy doesn't get better.

Sigh. I love my car. I hate spending money. I really hate not having wheels to get around. Carpooling gets old when your husband doesn't get out of work before 6 p.m. on a good night.

12 November 2008

The end is near

At least, it is for grad school.

My thesis is due next month. My marketing plan is written (mostly).

I registered for my final class today. I'll do the capstone during the winter 2009 semester (and try and get a publisher interested in my thesis). Then I'm done. Finished.

I have NO idea what I'll do next. I had toyed with the idea of starting a master's in education program, then decided that was insane.

The original plan was to hit the job market. In this economy, I'm not sure I'll get much interest. I'm going to try, but I'm not as hopeful as I was a year ago.

Know anyone who needs an overeducated editor who is an expert on Web 2.0 trends and social networking research? If so, send 'em my way, please.

07 November 2008

RIP, Murray the Furry

You were a good dog.

You were fuzzy and you shed quite a bit, but you were also patient with the kids.

As a rescue dog, we wondered what we would get when we adopted you. We couldn't have picked a better dog if we tried. You were just the right speed for us: You didn't require much beyond occasional long walks, loving attention, dog treats and pets.

You hated to be brushed.

You loved rolling in the grass, leaves and snow. You especially loved doing it after I gave you a bath.

It is strange to not see your grinning face looking at me in the morning now. You could drive me insane, because I probably would have loved you more had you loved me less. But you were a good dog, even for cat people at heart.

We miss you already.

Love,

Your MommyTracked Family.

06 November 2008

Gobama

My kids are thrilled beyond belief that Obama won.

I'm thrilled that they were able to see history being made. C1, sort of, grasps what happened. She was listening to John Lewis being interviewed after the election was called; his voice cracking as he tried to speak said more to us than anything he commented about in words.

C2 was impossible to wake, though I tried. The next morning, as I woke him for school, I told him. He woke up with a smile on his face.

My kids have friends of all colors and creeds. We've taught them that character is more important that the color of anyone's skin. I'm glad that I've been proved right.

I know there is quite a bit of work ahead for President Obama and his team. I don't have rose-colored glasses: I know we are in for some difficult times. But I honestly believe that for this moment, we picked the best person for the job.

27 October 2008

M-I-Z,

Z-O-U!!

Family Mommy-tracked was up at Mizzou this weekend for Homecoming. Dad marched in the alumni band. Kids gathered gobs of candy at the parade, then hiked all over campus, climbed on the columns, donned Santa hats for me so I could get a picture for the Christmas cards, tossed a plastic football on the Quad while I basked in sunshine, and in general had a great time.

Things have changed: We bypassed the long line at the Berg for the Noodles & Co. next door. Quieter, food the kids would eat, and we got free footballs. There was whining about the wait for a game that started at 5 p.m., but once in the stadium, C1, C2, and C3 were all about the football.

We sat with the alumni band, next to Marching Mizzou. The eldest was watching not only the game, but also the clarinet section. I could tell she was thinking six years ahead. (Can you imagine?)

The last time we tried this, C3 was in a Snugli. C2 was 2.5. It was not pretty. This time around, it went better. C2 had to be told to not shout at the top of his lungs "You can do better!!' at the Mizzou defenders after a bad play. :0

C1 was explaining football to C2. C3 was all about cheering and checking out the cheerleaders (she was in her own cute cheerleader outfit). All three knew all the words to all the cheers. It was amazing how well they did.

It helped that it was a nice night, not too cool. It helped that the Tigers decimated Colorado, 58-0.

But I have to say, I think we made some great memories all around.

24 September 2008

Long month, bright spot

First, it was the cancer diagnosis.

Then, it was some idiots at my workplace who decided it would be brilliant to take their Bid Day Bash off campus to a rural area two counties away. They d@mn near killed a freshman from alcohol poisoning in the process.

Last, my son was diagnosed with eczema. We suspected he had it; a rash that never disappeared confirmed it yesterday.

However, I love our pediatrician.

As she's looking at the poor boy's itchy armpits, she asks about flu mist. I dither, like I always do, then remember, my mom's going to be immunocompromised for months, duh. Yes, I say, we need the mist. My mom starts chemo next month.

Our ped immediate stops what she is doing, and asks, "How's she doing?" Oh, she's fine, I say. She follows up, looking right in my eyes, "How are *you* doing?"

That's the sign of a good doctor. My well-being immediately reflects on the kids, because my stress trickles down to them.

After saying that while the diagnosis was a shock, I'm okay now, she says that if we need anything, she'll make sure it happens. She's going to make sure we get in for the second shot of flu mist ASAP. She'll have a chat with the eldest at her checkup in a few months, just to reassure her that because Grandma has cancer does NOT mean she'll get it. Our worrywart needs to hear this from someone other than me.

I love our ped. She's one of the best docs we've ever had. So, Dr. K, if you stumble on this, I just want you to know that we appreciate everything you do for us.

21 September 2008

Cancer strikes us again.

Wondering where I've been? Well, grad school, thesis writing, freelancing and soccer season have kept me busy.

Three weeks ago, I added something heavier to the mix of stuff to do.

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 58.

She's always been fairly obsessive about getting her mammograms. She had a good friend die after a long fight against breast cancer in the '80s. So when something didn't look right, she went to get checked three weeks ago.

One mammogram, one ultrasound, one biopsy later, she was diagnosed with early stage one cancer on her left side.

The good news: It is stage one. It wasn't in her lymph nodes when she had a mastectomy last week. It's a highly treatable form that was caught early; there's a 95% survival rate.

The bad news: She's going to have chemo. We're waiting on the path report and the oncologists' plan for what mix will work best and how long she'll have to take it.

So, to my girlfriends and other Mommy-Tracked mom readers out there: Go get your baselines done. Now. Today. Before the new year. And be vigilant. My mom's type does not present as a lump. Usually there is no sign. Unless you get it checked out, you could be a lot further along the stages than you'd like.

Add a pink ribbon to your social networking sites for us, and prayers, love and support are welcome. But we aren't going to let this get us down. It's not all bad news; a lot of it is quite good. It will not be much fun for the next few months, but it will be over with and dealt with soon enough.

26 August 2008

Amen, sister!

"Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them."


~Michelle Obama, Democratic National Convention, Monday, Aug. 25, 2008

21 August 2008

Sniff. Sniff. Not ready. At all.

We just dropped our baby off at preschool this morning. She took her Dora "packpack" and her Tinkerbell lunchbox in hand, tugged my husband across the parking lot, and happily marched off to Mrs. McE's room.

Just like her brother, she practically shoved us out the door. High fives, hugs, kisses, then see ya.

Four years ago to the day, I was bemoaning the aches and pains of pregnancy; I was wishing she'd pop out and spare me misery. How on earth did she grow so fast? It's been a blur.

Her brother ran into his first grade room, hugged his teacher, and then went to hang up his backpack. I might as well not have showed up. I was a pack horse to carry school supplies, that's it.

Our eldest, all long and lanky and beautiful, raced up the steps to the level where the junior high is. She's a 7th grader. So not ready for this. It seems like just yesterday I was fighting with school administrators to have her skip a year. I wouldn't wish that back, because she's smart and witty and needs to be challenged academically. But she's so mature. So old.


They are still my babies, but they are so not my babies any more.

18 August 2008

Nine down, three to go

Straight As.

I rock!

(Oh, and said paper that needed to be revised for a conference submission? Still haven't done it. Will do it tomorrow. Freelance work got in the way.)

I have three courses to go over the next two semesters. Two seated, one dissertation (I get three hours for writing it.) I'm really trying to crank up the energy to get through this, but I'm wiped. Summer session took a lot more out of me than I expected. Somehow, in the next 10 days, I have to get mentally back in the game.

08 August 2008

I *heart* Google Scholar

I'm in the process of revising a paper to submit to the Midwest Communication Conference. I needed to find some very specific, on-point research. Research on a trend that is fairly new and hasn't been studied much yet, because it is so new.

I looked through the university database system and found a little, but not enough.

On a whim, I put the search terms in Google Scholar.

Ding. Everything I needed and more. Newly published research that hadn't hit the databases yet. I could search on terms within texts, have it highlighted right on the page, skim, determine if it would work or not, and then move on.

What would have taken me days in the old (or weeks in the old, old microfiche, Dewey Decimal System) way took me a matter of hours. Now I can block out time to revise the paper this weekend and be done with it.

Excellent.

04 August 2008

What the hey?

When I was a reporter, we all dreaded heat waves. It was like everyone went insane when the temps topped 95. Woe to the poor schmucks working GA shifts during a heat wave. You might as well live at the cop shop, because the crime rate would spike with freaky stuff.

My cousin who used to be an ER nurse reported the same thing.

It is miserable hot right now where we live. In the past few days, it's been 90+ with humidity to steam you as you walk outside.

As a result, it seems like there's more crime stories than normal; all seem odd:

  • Tied-up victim


  • Tiger attack


  • Shooting


  • And then, to prove that even politics goes nuts:

  • Blunt and ice cream
  • 28 July 2008

    "Say, Mom and Dad

    Did you notice that it is a lot quieter without C1 around? Without her here telling us everything about everything?"

    So sayeth our son this evening. Soda really hurts when you snort it through your nose, btw.

    His older sister (C1) is away at camp. C2, our son, is right, it is quieter. Pleasantly so, because he and she fight like cats and dogs over every fact known to mankind.

    For the next four days, the boy is top dog (or cat). He's loving every second of it.

    I'm enjoying the silence in the car and at the dinner table. It's nice not playing factual or logical fallacy referee.

    14 July 2008

    Homework panic!

    Amazingly, me. Not the kids.

    It was midsummer break in my grad program. We had the week of the Fourth off. I looked at my online course assignments, then blissfully went to Hot Springs and crashed at the in-laws' place.

    We came back. I dove into work. I finished one project.

    The other, I would have sworn, was due on Saturday at midnight. But Friday night, after doing laundry and dinner and chasing kids off to bed, something niggled in my brain. I booted up the computer. Looked at one class. Nope, I was good in that one. Looked at the other class.

    Dang. Due at midnight Friday. As in, 2 hours and 40 minutes away.

    I somehow managed to pull together a short story in record time, and post it with about 20 minutes to spare.

    I hereby promise to cut my kids one night of slack when they forget a homework assignment this fall. Humbled, thy name is Mommy-Tracked.

    08 July 2008

    Glug.

    Homework has got me down. Thank goodness I'll only have three classes left after this, and none will be online. I'm tired of writing.

    28 June 2008

    Very tired for this former Red Fed

    I'm back from Girls State.

    I only did four newspapers in two days. Whew.

    I pulled off a newspaper with several 17- and 18-year-olds from across Missouri as we covered the creation of democracy, building it from the wards on up to the state level, with the final announcement of our Senators who will go to Girls Nation next month.

    No clue how some of those women (some much older than I am) manage to pull off that schedule for seven days. I'm wiped.

    It was inspirational. It was fun. It was exhausting.

    I might even go back next year and do it again.

    19 June 2008

    Bugs.

    We've been invaded by ants for weeks because of all the rain. So we've got ant traps everywhere. We'd spray, but it isn't dry enough long enough to be able to spray.

    A new menace cropped up this week. Lice. Blech. One of the kids was infested at the Y camp. We caught it early (bless you Terri, my hairstylist who spotted them).

    So, insecticide and combing. And laundry. And more laundry.

    I hate bugs.

    11 June 2008

    Tired. So. Very. Tired.

    I don't even understand why.

    We did our annual staff retreat yesterday, and while it was sitting in a conference room, it was a conference room that looked out on a lake. I watched Great Blue Herons fish while I was half-listening. We went for a walk during a break.

    It's not like I had a hard day. Yes, I worked out for a bit after work. I took the kids to swim lessons and read grad school stuff while I was there. None of it was what might be termed "exhausting."

    I guess once I arrived home and finished making dinner, then did a few loads of laundry, flipped and vacuumed our mattress, okay, yes, that was physical labor. Again, not really out of the norm.

    Yet when I woke up this morning, I was wiped out. So were all of my co-workers. We can't figure it out. It wasn't really hard, what any of us did yesterday. Yet we are all walking zombies today.

    I have to slog through one more interview and one more meeting, then grocery shop, get the kids, go home, make dinner, get through piano lessons, finish laundry and maybe finish a proofing project. That's all more exhausting that yesterday was, as a whole.

    Just strange.

    03 June 2008

    Surfacing, then sinking

    Sorry, we went on a longish vacation after grades came in, and hubby and I made it a point not to do ANYTHING. No computer. No news. Just slugging around, swimming, golfing, running (okay, well, me running), and relaxing.

    It was wonderful.

    Sadly, I'm back at work. Classes start tomorrow. We're carpooling, so that means that I'm stuck downtown longer than usual. On the upside, this forces me to actually make time to work out at the Y. On the downside, no one in this family eats dinner until after 7.

    The next few weeks are busy. Beyond work and coursework, I have a freelance story to finish, a consulting gig to do, and I'm helping out at Missouri Girls State. I'm an alum, Crowder City 1993. I finally live close enough -- and have kids old enough to leave behind for a few days -- to help out.

    So I'll post. Just not as frequently as usual (not that it was that frequent).

    Enjoy the summer, folks!

    21 May 2008

    4.0, baby!

    Grades are in.

    Seven classes down.

    4.0 average.

    Five to go.

    My brain is mush. It really needs to get back into shape by next Friday night, when my short-term course starts.

    Thankfully, we'll be on a short vacation at the in-law's place soon. I need the easy access to running trails, coffee, and wine.

    If all goes well, by this time next year, y'all will have to call me Master Mommy-Tracked. ;)

    14 May 2008

    Wow. Just . . um, wow.

    Let me preface this by saying that if I find out that any of my children do this in college, I'll throttle them for the profs.

    I'm sitting here, on my lunch hour, frantically working on finishing my final project for marketing grad class presentation tonight.

    Phone rings.

    Undergraduate--who is not my student, btw: Um, hi.

    Me: Hello, UC, can I help you?

    Undergrad: Um, I heard that you have the capability to TiVo stuff.

    ---Aside: We do. We have three of 'em hooked up to record stuff for our news archive.---

    Me: Well, what exactly are you looking for?

    Undergrad: Well, um, like I'm working on my final project for a paper, and I need clips of the governor's races commercials. They are supposed to air for the first time, tonight. Can you clip those for me?

    Me: Well, we do have TiVo, but we have it set up to clip items that we need for work. We don't have anyone on staff who can set this up for you right now. Currently, all of our student staff is gone. (This is true. The last techie left yesterday. We're slammed with work for commencement/board meeting. I'm not helping this guy out.)

    Undergrad: Well, but I have no way to save those commercials to my computer.

    Me: Sorry. I can't help you; there's no one here who can do the clips right now.

    And I hung up.

    This annoys me on three levels--

    1) Who has the nerve to call an office out of the blue, on a long shot, and ask for a major favor like this? I don't know this guy from Adam. I might do it for a student I know and trust, but even then, I'm not trusting our glitchy TiVo setup to just anyone.

    2) This guy acted like I would help him, if he just explained why he was in a hole. Not. My. Problem.

    3) This guy should have, I don't know, PLANNED OUT a way to get the clips if they are so important to his paper.


    I get that we are to be supportive and all, but I didn't bail my kindergartener out last night when he had to redo homework. I'm surely not saving some undergrad's skin when I'm frantically trying to do my work + my homework.

    09 May 2008

    Miss Independent

    My little one has become the most stubborn, willful, independent child in the past month.

    She started pushing me away a month ago, when she told me, "I dwess myself" in the mornings. Then the morning snuggles stopped a few days later in favor of playing with her siblings. Then, she decided cuddling while watching TV was passe.

    I love that she's becoming her own person, but darn it, I wasn't ready for this yet. I thought I had at least another year. Her brother was still having me dress him when he started kindergarten and I had to force him to dress himself.

    I managed to persuade her to cuddle with me this morning for a few minutes, under the ruse of "help me wake Daddy." Those minutes were precious, because it showed to me how much she is growing up. She no longer easily fits curled into my body. She's half my height now (okay, that's not much, but still). She's a bouncy little kid, usually pretty cheerful, and well, she just doesn't want to need me much right now.

    After months (years, really) of being clung to and needed, all three of my kids are pulling away at various degrees. My eldest was flirting with an old friend at a band concert last night (that's scary). My middle guy is proving that he's a perfectly capable person when it comes to doing things around the house (if he choses). My little one is practically shoving me out the door of her room most days (because, really, Miss Independent Fashionista doesn't need help).

    It's bittersweet, I tell ya.

    For Mother's Day, I want the following things: Art made by my munchkins, that I promise to frame and thirty-minutes of cuddle time with each of them -- with their undivided attention -- so I can enjoy those precious moments before they slip away completely from me.

    03 May 2008

    Prayers for friends

    who lost their firstborn last week. He was due to be born in July.

    Instead they will be having a funeral on Wednesday.

    Sometimes, without knowing the rhyme or reason, life just sucks. How is it possible that teen starlets (I'm looking at you, Ms. Spears x 2) can have kids, and good people who would be great parents don't get the chance?

    21 April 2008

    Attack of the new screen door

    It was a blissfully beautiful Saturday morning. I was making great progress getting ready for the son's birthday party with eight of his friends, ages 5-7. Dinosaur cake was good to go. Ice cream purchased.

    I stepped out onto the porch to tell the eldest something. She was cleaning up the yard in preparation for the burial of plastic dinos in our sandbox. I turned back inside.

    And learned that the newly installed screen door moves a lot faster than the old screen door.

    Four hours at urgent care, 12 stitches, and much gratitude to my husband, my daughter and her friend, who herded the little boys for the first hour of the party, I managed to limp back and enjoy the rest of the day.

    The party was a success. Our son proclaimed it "The best birthday ever!!!"

    I'm still limping. And I'm hoping that door doesn't go all Stephen King-Christine on us. Let's just say I'm a lot more cautious around it now than I was Saturday at 10 a.m.

    16 April 2008

    Too many hats

    Right now, I think I'm going slightly nuts with the number of hats I'm wearing. Yesterday:

    Mom hat in morning
    Work hat after 8:30
    Student hat at 1:30
    Back to work hat at 2
    Mom hat at 3:15
    Freelancer hat at 4
    Mom hat at 5
    Student hat at 6
    Mom hat at 7
    Student hat at 8
    Wife hat at 10
    Sherrie hat at 11
    Sleep.

    08 April 2008

    Career guilt

    It's time for some professional development, some professional bonding, and maybe a bit of networking to get outta SWMO.

    In 24 hours, I'll be hanging with a bunch of people who are even more grammarian geeky than I am.

    The American Copy Editors Society conference starts Thursday. I'm just glad to be with people who understand the entire concept of apostrophes, capitalization, and can debate the use of the serial (or Harvard) comma.

    I have mixed feelings about going. It's the mom conundrum: I want to do something for me, for my career, and by extension, will better my family. But I don't want to miss my kids for three days, miss a soccer game, miss the possibility of my eldest winning a regional science fair award (she finds out on Thursday). I hate to leave hubby in a lurch, trying to get all three kids hither and yon on his own. I did ask my bro to help out (thanks, bro!), but I feel guilty that I did that.

    I swear, does the guilt end? Ever? I'm trying to not feel guilty about this, because I know I shouldn't, and because my boss is (quite frankly) making me go to this. But I still feel guilty leaving my family because I won't be there to help make things go smoothly.

    Heck, I know they'll survive. They can cook. Two of the four people normally in the house know how to operate the stove and can do laundry. But I know how much harder it is with just one parent there, and I hate leaving hubby to juggle it all on his own, even for a few days.

    I hate knowing I won't be there to fix the hurts, the slights, and help with homework. I won't be there to cheer on the eldest at either the game or the science thing.

    25 March 2008

    Slingbacks, candy and other things

    Kids can be like living with a Vulcan. You can have a reasonable explanation for something, but if it isn't linear logic, you'll lose the battle.

    Point No. 1:

    We're rushing to get to church on Friday night. I shout that the kids should have shoes and socks on and get in the car. My three-year-old looks at me, wearing her white patent dress shoes and no socks, points at my feet, currently shod in black slingbacks (sans socks or hose, of course), and says: "You not wearing socks."

    We were late. I wasn't even going to try to explain fashion to a three-year-old. I let her go sans socks.

    Point No. 2:

    It doesn't matter how many times you tell the eldest that she should leave the easy candy (as in, the candy on the ground) for her younger siblings. If she sees it Easter morning, it is hers.

    Point No. 3:

    It doesn't matter that you are putting the finishing touches on Easter dinner. If the three-year-old wants to lug her basket around the house and gorge, there's not much you can do that won't result in a screaming tantrum over sugar.

    Point No. 4:

    It doesn't matter how many bribes, begging lectures, cheers, and discussions you can have about poop with a three-year-old. It will be the weirdest thing that you never thought of that will finally get through her head and result in her being fully potty trained.

    In our case, it was the fact that another kid at daycare got an ink stamp for pooping on the potty. Kid 3 wanted one, too. The teacher didn't cave, but told her to go poop, and she'd get one. Boom. That's it. She walks in the bathroom, does her thing, and then continues to do it for the rest of the weekend.

    Never in a million years would I have thought an ink stamp on her hand would be the thing that convinced her to do her duty.

    Sheesh.

    19 March 2008

    Oh, and the cosmic kick me sign needs to come off.

    Not only did my basement flood, but I got a call from my administrative assistant at 5 yesterday.

    At first she asked how my day was (knowing I was battling with Lake Mommy-Tracked in the basement). Then she informed that it was a good thing I wasn't at work yesterday, because two ceiling tiles came crashing down on my desk. There is a leak in a window on the second story, and apparently the low spot in the subfloor is over my desk. Lucky me.

    that was sarcasm

    I can now see into my building's heating system and despite the best efforts of our janitor, I'm still finding gympsum bits all over my desk and paperwork.

    Really, I'm starting to think God is trying to tell me something.

    Welcome to Lake Mommy-Tracked

    dock your boat right over there, please.

    Oy. Rain is good, but not in the amounts we've been getting.

    If you've seen the news, you know that torrential rain hit the Ozarks yesterday.

    We at Mommy-Tracked were a bit busy trying to keep our basement from becoming a lake. Yes, we live on a hill, but the water table is now so high that the torrential rains not only filled our crawlspace, but also sent water cascading through our basement at a rate of more than 2.5/gal a minute at times. (Yes, I timed it. My Shop-Vac holds 2.5 gallons, and I was swapping it out every minute there for a while.)

    Lake Mommy-Tracked is now at a manageable level--as in a huge puddle under the pool table. I've never been more thankful for the icky linoleum that is in that basement than I was yesterday. It is fairly indestructible.

    We managed to save pretty much everything. Our only losses were a few baseball posters, the dog's bed, and all of my Missourian clips. Sadly, I'll no longer be able to read over the details of Ray Beck and Woody Cozad through my own news stories. All in all, not a horrid loss, especially considering some of the damage folks are facing today.

    That said, if you have an ark, we might need it. More rain is predicted for the weekend.

    12 March 2008

    We're back

    I'm just swamped. Work, school, family life. It is chaos. Soccer started. NCAA Div. II rounds of b-ball hosted here. Paper due. Too.Much.To.Do.

    And yet, the best thing ever was coming home. Our kids wouldn't let us out of their sights. My husband was hugged by our son. Twice. He never does that.

    I think they missed us. And that's nice. They drive us nuts, but apparently we are better than grandma and grandpa, and they love us to pieces, even if they don't show it all the time.

    05 March 2008

    We're off!

    Headed to the Big Apple and areas thereof for the divine Ms. G's wedding.

    See y'all next week.

    Pray that the kids don't drive the grandparents loopy.

    27 February 2008

    Overheard

    I give you a one-act play: Misinterpretation by a Three-Year-Old


    Context: Our youngest still is resisting the potty for No. 2. We had some success, but we've backtracked. To the point that we are now stirring Miralax in her juice to prevent her from holding it for a week or more. We can tell she's holding it because she stuffs her hands down the back of her pants and holds her cheeks together. And walks around like that. It would be funnier if it weren't so frustrating.

    Setting: Hubby and I are upstairs working and watching TV. Kids are downstairs eating snack.

    Middle child, age 5: Hey, do you have to go to the bathroom?

    Younger child, age 3 (presumably with hands down back of pants): No. I fine.

    Middle child: Are you sure? You look like you need to poop.

    Younger child: NO! I NOT NEED POOP!

    (cue parents upstairs valiantly trying not to laugh)

    Middle child: It looks like you need to poop. You shouldn't hold it in like that.

    Younger child: I fine. I not holding it. See, my hands are cwean!!!

    (cue parents, losing battle not to laugh upstairs, and realizing they need to be a lot more specific in their wording with the youngest.)

    Yup. It's been fun. Who said being a parent wasn't great? Riiiiiight.

    I'm betting no one else in my grad class had to disinfect a tub that had been pooped in last night before proofing a research paper.

    She'll figure this out, right? Right?

    19 February 2008

    Into the ether

    that seems to be where some of my posts went. I can see them, but you guys can't.

    Let me know if you can read anything after Eulogy, 'kay?

    12 February 2008

    I HATE winter

    We have ice. Again. There's a tree down in our back yard, a tree looming over our house, and branches everywhere.

    We just bloody did this, and now we have to clean up the mess again.

    Groan.

    08 February 2008

    What happened in Kirkwood last night

    could happen anywhere.

    The tragedy isn't as unlikely as you might think, as any city council reporter could tell you.

    In my younger reporting days, I'd seen more than a few city council gadflies who seemed around the bend. They'd get up, rant for quite a while, until someone from the council, usually the mayor or city attorney, managed to cut them off. Some cities imposed time limits during public comment just to make sure they had a legal way to shut the mikes off.

    Honestly, I'm not surprised this happened. I was stalked by a gadfly who was convinced I was the answer to all of his troubles, if only I'd listen to him and his issues. And not that he didn't have issues or a justifiable complaint, but it wasn't truly news. Or verifyable.

    Quite frankly, the fact that he was convinced the power lines in town were a form of mind control impugned his credibility. In that case, the very police I was investigating escorted my pregnant self from City Hall to my car twice a month after meetings. It was only about 50 steps, but this guy would stalk my every step, then try to follow me home. I had cops sitting near me in meetings to protect me. I didn't ask for it, but they didn't trust him, and they worried about me, even though I was doing investigative reporting on their department, which was in the midst of a horrible scandal.

    I'm not sure what the answer is, but know this: Every elected official takes a risk by putting themselves out there on the dais to make decisions. Some people take those decisions much, much, much too seriously. When that happens, the potential for a mass shooting in a council chamber is there.

    07 February 2008

    Oh, how I hate the carpool line

    I rarely pick the kids up in the carpool line. We pay for aftercare; I work until 5.

    But today, we had an appointment, so I had to pick the eldest up in the line.

    I get that some parents get there 30 minutes early to be first in line. I tried to do that today, but alas, I was only 15 minutes early, and thus 10th in line. No biggie.

    But man alive, I HATE the parents and grandparents who think they are more important or more rushed than the rest of us. The line is supposed to circle around the perimeter of the playground, out the gate, then north on the street.

    We had parents pulling in and parking in the middle of the semicircle. We had them parking three deep in the middle of the semicircle, which makes it dangerous to even pull up in the semicircle when they are trying to unwedge their cars and get out before the rest of us.

    I saw one woman squeeze her huge Dodge Durango in a spot wayyyy too small for her car. Still not sure how she didn't manage to clip either car in front or behind her. Then she nearly clipped the person who was first in the line and trying to pull out as Ms. Dodge was backing up to rush out of the lot.

    Seriously, the whole line moves through in 15 minutes, tops. Usually when I do carpool line, I come 15 minutes after school is out, because the line is gone and I can wing in and wing out. Alas, today, our appointment was at 3:30, and we'd not be able to pull it off if I'd not gotten there right as school let out.

    What are you teaching your kids, presumably at a Catholic school to learn values and ethics, when you place yourself, your time, and your safety (not to mention the safety of other people's children) ahead of others at all costs?

    05 February 2008

    Legacy

    Walking into the Catholic church where I've spent many a major family event, where I spent Sundays as a kid with my grandparents in the front pew on the right-hand side, in the church where just eight months ago one of my cousins was married, I followed my grandmother's casket.

    Standing there in the pew, looking around at my family, I was thinking about the legacy she and my grandfather left behind.

    Six children.
    Sixteen grandchildren.
    Eleven great-grandchildren.

    All good people. We have our problems, like any family. We have our difficulties with each other. But we are all strong, confident, trustworthy people. Every one of us you can rely on in a pinch.

    I looked at my sister and our other female cousins and saw a group of strong, confident women. Each one of us has a different profession, from homemaker to engineer to nurse to teacher and everything in between. But we are all, each one of us, confident at what we do and who we are.

    I looked at my brother and our male cousins and saw a bunch of guys who I would trust with my life. Each one of them, in his own way, is the type of guy you'd want your sister to marry. (There are still a few single ones, folks. :)

    But the best legacy my grandparents left was laughter.

    We are a family who teases constantly. In any situation. That can take outsiders a bit to get used to. I'm pretty sure that most receiving lines at funerals do not have people telling the bereaved: "I'm so sorry. Truly. Very sorry you have to stand next to him." (Insert person pointing at one of my mom's brothers, the one who is the family cut-up; his friends are very like him.)

    Sitting in the funeral home's family room, trying to help my youngest cousin write a eulogy, all 16 of us were laughing like loons at our memories of our grandparents.

    The cookies hidden in the Tupperware container in the dryer.

    The fact that my grandmother would mix both chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies together, so well disguised that you couldn't tell the difference. You had to take the first one you picked. I was unnaturally good at picking the chocolate chip oatmeal cookies -- they are slightly flatter than the raisin ones.

    My grandmother chasing the dogs away from Easter eggs so the younger grandkids could actually find a few.

    My grandparents loved to laugh. And they passed that ability along to all of us. Somehow, I think that's among one of the better legacies they could have left to us.

    So, in honor of Tillie and Bill, do me a favor: Laugh with someone you love today.

    31 January 2008

    Eulogy

    Last night, I lost the woman who most made me who I am today.

    My grandmother's been slipping away from us for a while. She lost herself to dementia last summer, and it has been hit or miss whether we would see her lucid or see her in some decade long past when we'd visit.

    We had a complicated relationship. She had very traditional views on what a girl or a woman should be. I fought against those at nearly every turn. While she and my mom were in the kitchen, cooking supper, I'd try to sneak out and go hang in the living room and talk politics with my grandpa.

    She attempted to instill the "womanly" arts on my fellow female cousins and me. We were given embroidery kits for Christmas, and we were expected to learn how to do it. We were taught to quilt. We were taught to cook and how to maintain a garden during our week-long visits with her each summer.

    Looking back, I loved the gardening and the cooking, heck, even the cleaning, but that embroidery still makes my fingers hurt. She'd make me pick out numerous stitches and insist I do it right.

    She was very focused on what was right and proper. There was a *right* way to do things. That's part of why I think I'm so obsessive compulsive about things (especially cleaning) today. She taught me the *right* way; to me, that's the only way.

    And yet . . .

    I fought back against her ideas of how to be a woman at every turn. I didn't want to be relegated to the kitchen. I didn't want to sew. Heaven knows I hated every embroidery stitch.

    It took me years to learn that in her world, the gossip with her friends over coffee that I so disdained was her way of consolidating power and keeping control of her world. My grandmother was a bit Machiavellian, honestly.

    I love her, and yet . . . I rejected her at every turn, because what she wanted me to be I just couldn't be. I had to get away. I was stifled by living in a place where everyone not only knew everyone else but also knew every family scandal going back five generations, back to freaking Prussia, and carrying those grudges and stereotypes and misperceptions through the generations. I turned my back on that, and opened up to other people from other places, other backgrounds.

    When I married someone who wasn't Catholic, you would have thought I'd completely rocked their worlds. Maybe, in a way, I had.

    I was the first to go away to college.

    I was the first to marry (and no, none of us saw that coming). The fact that I married a Methodist took them some getting used to.

    I was the first to keep working outside the home once my kids were born.

    She made me that way. As much as she tried to force me into her mold, I'd fight back so hard to do the exact opposite.

    Neither of us were right. There are different ways for different people. That's a lesson I've learned, and she was the one who, inadvertently perhaps, taught it.

    29 January 2008

    For a minute, I was in Chi

    It was an illusion, but a nice one.

    A stiff, warm gale was blowing -- the kind that will knock you over when you turn a building's corner -- as I walked along a main thoroughfare downtown. Two city buses rushed by me, and I watched a window washer ply his trade on the second story while he dripped on first-floor retail/restaurant customers passing on the sidewalk below.

    Just for a minute, I felt like I was back in Chicago. The wind. The buses. The window washer. The retail/mixed use configuration of the buildings. It all took me right back. I just felt at peace.

    I love big cities. I love being anonymous and melting into the crowd on city streets as I walk by first-floor retail and gaze in windows as I rush home.

    I had that feeling again . . .and then, when I crossed the street, and the buses were gone and the window washer behind me, it was gone.

    I really need to move. This place, as one of my grad school professors aptly put it, is the biggest small town you'll ever live in. I can't go anywhere and not see someone I know. Some people like it, but I find it stifling.

    I need more Chi moments around here.

    25 January 2008

    Super Tuesday, here I come!

    This was fun. Confirmed what I already suspected, but fun all the same:

    88% Barack Obama
    86% Mike Gravel
    85% Chris Dodd
    85% Dennis Kucinich
    85% John Edwards
    84% Hillary Clinton
    83% Joe Biden
    74% Bill Richardson
    41% Rudy Giuliani
    32% John McCain
    23% Ron Paul
    23% Mitt Romney
    22% Mike Huckabee
    21% Tom Tancredo
    11% Fred Thompson

    2008 Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz

    18 January 2008

    Oh, happy day

    The youngest decided to do No. 2 on the potty last night.

    We praised her and gave her tons of Skittles.

    If she does it again, we're going to Mr. Bulky for a mass jellybean purchase.

    The days of not needing diapers and PullUps are at hand, folks. When that happens, I'm throwing a party.

    So. Very. Serious. about the party.

    15 January 2008

    I *so* rock

    I just found out that I won an award for my Bob B. press packet.

    Oh, and my designer and I won something for the Cindy S. stuff, too.

    Oh, and our team won a sweepstakes award (most points).

    I really, really, really needed that news today. My ego is back where it should be (not too big, but not three sizes too small, either).

    11 January 2008

    Look, redesigned Mommy-Tracked!

    I finally took a few hours to update the site. It's a bit more like my real-life personality now.

    I've been tired of the green bubbles for a while. I started playing around this summer while I was in grad school, but I never had the time to do what I wanted.

    With a little assistance from Mr. Mommy-Tracked in deciphering Blogger's style sheets, I now have it set up the way I want it. Almost. I still can't get the news feed to work.

    But I have a few new features besides the new color scheme and layout.

    Note on the right that you can now go to my Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. Connect with me!

    I've also officially put on the legalese to copyright my work. Note the button at the bottom from Creative Commons. That's the fine print, folks. You can link to me, but if you want to use my stuff in publishing, you have to credit me when you quote my stuff in fair use, or contact me for details on how to publish my work.

    Want to use me in an anthology or journal article? Awesome.

    Pay me.

    I'm a writer. I live by my words. So sorry, you can read for free, but if you want to publish me in print, you have to talk to Mommy-Tracked. Or Mommy-Tracked's cousin--the lawyer--if I catch you busting my copyright.

    08 January 2008

    We're fine

    Our worst damage is a large tree branch down in the yard. But we had two that came really close (as in, within a mile).

    There's a Home Depot/Expo kind of place across the expressway from our university, and its roof was obliterated. I had to pick my way around sheet metal and lining to get the kids to school.

    It was a long night. To quote child three: "Tomadoes freak me out."

    No kidding. And I like stuff like that. But that was too close for me.

    07 January 2008

    I like warm January weather

    because it means I can Rollerblade in short sleeves.

    I dislike warm January weather because it means we have a chance for tornadoes tonight as the cold front blasts through.

    02 January 2008

    Relentless

    There is nothing more determined than my youngest at 8:30 a.m. when she's convinced that her mom should get up, vacation or no vacation.