31 January 2008


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


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.