Monday, December 26, 2011

Organization Smorganization

As I type, all I can hear is Pink YELLING at me that she's a rockstar and wants to start a fight. The kids all now have their own radios, courtesy of a few years of Oma style gift giving. Nate is the latest recipient of a radio, and his is sweet because it has a remote, making Maddie jealous enough to try and entice captain Lazy Bones into a swap. It didn't really work out for Maddie. But the boys are enjoying yelling that they want to start a fight. They don't even know what they're saying.

Also, I'm horrified as I walk from room to room and see crap-shit everywhere. I told John as I was putting away laundry that I am definitely going to finish my upstairs office/reading room. He laughed and said, "Yeah, right". Okay, that kinda pisses me off. I am the kind of person that when I decide to do something, I do it. So I made it a point to point out to him that he had the same reaction when I said I was going to do a triathlon. And then a 10k. And then a 15k. However, I am smart enough to stop there. I refuse to say, "Hmmmm... a marathon sounds like a GREAT idea". Because unless my fat ass is sitting on the couch eating cheese and crackers and watching the Biggest Loser, the idea of running a marathon sounds pretty much like getting a root canal, only it would take longer- because I'm a damn slow runner (and I am okay with that. You burn more fat and calories with the slow steady pace 2x's a week right?).
Thanks, but no.

So my goals are pretty simple. I want to go to a cool store and get awesome storage containers to organize all this stuff. Maybe get some decos for the wall...make it all homey and inspired and Martha Stewarty up in here. Get my writing room done. Get the damn rolltop desk from my parents and attempt to refinish it. Get myself a laptop and get serious about my book, the rough unfinished 2nd draft of which I got great reviews on.

However, my BIGGEST problem comes in a package of 3. Life takes over. I still have to do laundry and get the kids to where they need to be for their activities AND work. So if anyone has time and talent they want to donate, I will take your offer and run with it. I don't have that kind of brain that allows me to be creative and organized and think of cutesy projects and how my rooms should look. And to be fair, the weaponry that my boys are now wielding in the form of Nerf World doesn't store well at all. There's no place for this crap to go. Except all over. Which leads us back to the horrified stares in every room as I pass through them.

Sigh. Full circle.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Conversation About Running

Me (While eating something fatty and delicious while watching the Biggest Loser Marathon Special): "John, I really think I should run a marathon.

John: "Why the hell would you do that?"

Me: "Look at them! Look at THEM! These 400 pound people are running a marathon. In a fricking desert. If they can do it, why can't I?"

John: "Uh. You know, they're doing it in like, 8 hours. If you're not even trying to be competitive, then what's the point of running a marathon?"

Me: "I don't know, because it's all inspirational and shit? Look at them! They are so proud, and crying and hugging, and they just ran an effin' marathon. I've never done that?"

John:" Dude. That guy just 'finished in 10 hours. Big deal. You could do it in 10 hours. So again, what's the point."

And I concede: He is sooo very wise, this husband of mine.

Pass the hummus babe.

Friday, December 09, 2011


It's like an "addendum", but beforehand.

Right now, my kids are watching a Veggie Tales movie about "St. Nick and the Joy of Giving". I contend, that with what you are about to read, that if even the Veggie Tales "get it", it's okay. Long live the Claus.

Even Jesus Believes in Santa

Contrary to popular belief, I do not drink and blog. Okay, in the spirit of Christmas I will be honest and say that sometimes I drink and blog. Or most of the time. Whatever.

So you liked the hook of my title, eh? Well, before I get all these hate comments that I need to moderate let me explain (by the way, in case you're wondering, if EVER you leave me a comment and use the "R" word, you are blackballed, banned, blocked, etc. I don't even care that you don't like what I wrote. You may NOT use that word in my presence.)

Apparently my ADD kicked I was saying, before I get all these hate comments, let me explain. There has been lately online and in kindergarten classrooms mention this anti-Santa backlash, saying the image of Santa defeats the spirit of Christmas and feeds into commercialism and blah blah blah. I say that is bullshit. Mostly because I freaking LOVE Santa. I love the idea of Santa, and I will be upset the day my kids don't believe probably more than they will.

Some parents say they don't like lying to their kids. PUH-LEEEZE! Welcome to parenthood! About 90 % of what you tell your kids is mostly lies. Okay, maybe not that much, but when your 4 year old asks you where babies come from, are you REALLY going to give them the dirty? I think not.

Some say it's about RELIGION. Seriously? The very first St. Nick was a Bishop in like, the 6th century or whatever. HE WAS A BISHOP! Who can argue with the religiousness of a Bishop?

And here's my point. Christmas is all about celebrating the birth of Jesus. Jesus, the original teller of all fairy tales...but we don't call them fairy tales because that may be sacrilegious. When Jesus is talking, we call them "parables", which are really just stories with a lesson. If you don't like the notion of calling them "fairy tales" you can call them what the Brother's Grimm did. Fables. Either way, they are stories that aren't true, but PREACH just the same. Consider the story of the Good Samaritan. He did good when no one else did. Or the mustard seed. Or the parable of the talents. Pick one. Jesus told STORIES so that his disciples could easily understand God's heart and intention. I ask you then, What better story to use to teach very young children about the joy of giving to others than Santa?

I even read one report that had the disclaimer that Santa just says that "if you're good you'll get a toy, or something materialistic". Isn't the point of being a Christian that if you are good, and do good for others and live in love you will also "get something", like, a ticket into heaven? That idea is waaaay too abstract for little kids. Give 'em something to understand. If you choose to go all overboard and buy into commercialism, that is your own problem, but you can teach kids the meaning of what the spirit of Christmas represents and still have Santa as you bff come Dec. 24th. It's okay. Seriously, didn't Jesus himself command to us to do something for another without that person knowing it was us? So that we aren't taking credit instead of listening to the message... Do for others.

Look, when I was a kid my parents ROCKED OUT the whole Santa thing. Boot prints in the snow. Windows opening and closing. Bells ringing. They went all out. And why not? Little kids are only little for such a short time and once you take away the fantasies of whatever it is they believe in, be it Cinderella or Santa Claus, they are one step closer to adulthood, and WHY throw them into the harsh realities of the real world before we have to? Why is it so demonized to let kids believe in magic? Why can't they have a wonderful, wonder filled world only for them for the brief time that it's okay to enjoy it?

As I said, my parents ROCKED it when it came to Santa. And guess what? I still believe in the "REAL" story of Christmas. It's still my favorite holiday (remember, I got married 9 days before Christmas). I'm still able to teach my kids what it means to be kind, generous, loving, appreciative, non-materialistic, family centered, and joyful. I also don't use just the Christmas season to do this. The spirit of giving and generosity and thinking of others happens 365 days around here, Santa notwithstanding.

Look, if you want to get all preachy on the birth of Christ and shit, consider the following points:
1.) The Bible doesn't even reveal Jesus' actual birthdate.

2.) Half the shit you're telling your kids about the "story", like the pageant is b.s. Nowhere is it found in the Bible that Mary rode on a donkey, or the whole story of the Inn, or even of Jesus laying in a manger. So, if you're going to condemn "Santa' and his spirit, I hope you get that crap right.

3.) If you're going to tell your kids Santa isn't real, I hope you don't have a "Christmas" tree in your home. It's well known that Christmas trees originated from Pagan beliefs. Look it up.

4.) Technically speaking, if you decide to call bullshit on Santa, you should also tell your kids that the December 25th date for the "birth of Christ" is also bullshit. In Pagan traditions, Dec. 25th refers to the birth of the sun God Mithros or something like that. Scholars and theologans believe Jesus was born sometime in the fall...septemberish thru novemberish...

5.) And if you really want to get all super technical, God does not command us to celebrate the birth of Christ in the bible. Rather, we are commanded to take communion "in rememberence of me". Soooo, we are to celebrate his death. Some hardcore Christians think it's even sacriligous to celebrate Christmas. Do a little research. I. Kid. You. Not.

The point is, it's not whether you teach your kids about Santa or the "True meaning of Christmas." Whatever the hell that is. It's about love, joy, kindness, and everything that THE LIFE OF JESUS represents.

And so, if Santa were to be made into a parable, I think Jesus would do it. Because the Santa story embodies everything Jesus himself embraced and taught about. Some people who've bought into the commercialism have just ruined that message for themselves, and others in the process. And just to hone in on the message, I work with little ones whose parent's can't afford to do the "commercialistic thing" and they rely on the Santas all of us have it in us to be.

But I still believe.

I believe in magic.

I believe in love.

And most whole-heartedly, I believe in Santa.

Give someone less fortunate than you something without them knowing it, and if you can, enjoy THEIR joy.

I'll bet you believe in Santa too.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Thankful, and Other ThinKs

Apparently, the fact that I have been very involved with life (read: busy) is inconveniencing my sister and her reading pleasures. Not only has she verbally reprimanded me to get my butt in gear and get back to work on writing, she has posted at me on facebook, which is like a public lashing. So, for her sake I'm writing, although she may not like what I have to say. I have a lot on my mind right now. To use one of my new favorite words, I have a SHIT-TON going on. And there boys and girls, is your new usable phrase. SHIT-TON. It's like douche-canoe, only more descriptive, like an adjective for potty mouths (or those of us subjected day in and out to small children and who have to really rein in all too much in a typical 24 hour period).

I need to rewind a couple of weeks to Thanksgiving. When asked what you're "Thankful for" you're supposed to say the usual. "I'm thankful for my home." "I'm thankful for my family", "I'm thankful for my friends' and on and on and on. How very unimaginative of us all. Those are not things most people usually take for granted, and you look like a complete ASS if you happen to be thankful for something out of the ordinary and/or material. Whatever. If you have the ability to be in possession of something wonderful, like say, a new iphone, I think it's okay to be thankful for something so stupid.

So, after reading a kid's book to Nate at bedtime right before Thanksgiving, I realized that this year, I am thankful for the pilgrim's stupidity. Sure, they were brave. Whatever. They were Effing Morons if you read the story closely. Consider this: They left England to worship their own way or whatever that fairytale tells you. Fine. But the dumbass pilgrims left late summer and it took them 3 months to cross the ocean, so essentially they didn't reach the "new world" until the Winter. BAD PLANNING. They had nowhere to live, ran out of food, and did it even ever cross their minds that when they got to where they were going it was going to be pretty fricking cold and they were all diseased and living in cramped quarters breathing their smallpoxy breath on each other? More than half of them died that first winter. Duh! I get they needed to pray their own way, but they really should have prayed for a better plan and headed for My Country Tis of thee when it was a little warmer. I'm just saying.

No, I think this year I'm making a statement. I'm not thankful the pilgrims decided to build their own versions of a new mega church in the new world. I'm thankful for the Rockstar also known as Samoset and the other Masosoit Native Americans. I'm pretty damn sure that without them the entire pilgrim colony would have been wiped out. The NA's had to teach these people how to EAT for gods sakes. Here is the second part of the lack of planning that just baffles me. They got on a cork, floated across the ocean, half of them died, and then there was no forethought on what would happen once they got to where they were going. Farming in England is different than farming in New England. My only hope is that they were at least smart enough to lug enough alcohol across the pond so that when Samoset and his buddies showed up they at least had something to offer. Thanks William Bradford, but no thanks. Without the KINDNESS and GENEROSITY of the natives, the White Man wouldn't have even survived a few months, let alone long enough to decimate an entire race of ahem...'savages'.

Alright. Enough on that. I think it's a testament to my getting old that you start looking at history and realize the stories are written only by the winners. Sometimes rightfully so. I can't imagine world history and what it would look like if Hitler had been a success. But I'm tired of looking through the annals of history and spoonfeeding my kids some bullshit story about how Columbus discovered America (because he didn't) and made friends with "Indians" (because he didn't) and then how the Pilgrims chose to be brave and daring and create a free-er life in the new America. Because they didn't. Those early colonists did some pretty messed up stuff in the name of "Religious Freedom" (hello Puritans, and can anyone say Salem Witch Trials with me?).

So don't believe everything you see, or hear or read.

And be thankful for whatever the hell you want to be thankful for. And remember to be grateful you didn't have to put your happy ass on a boat in the winter and hope for the best.

And Thank God it's almost Christmas!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Channeling my Inner Erma

Saturday last I went to this really sweet writing workshop in the big city. Super exciting info on how to write and get published in the children's book world, because I aspire to be a decent writer someday (so Um... could you please just destroy that crap I sent you for review because I realize now how much it really sucked it and have reworked the entire thing).

I made connections, and by connections I mean I met other writers. Sometimes, it's just really, really good to get out of suburbia and meet other people who think like I do. Granted, I'm damn near positive I was in the minority at this Women's Voices Seminar, being all hetero and all, but whatever. Where I live there are no people of color, or very few, and I really can't think of anyone I know who doesn't drive a mini-van; shuffling from soccer to dance to scouts to wherever after school (insert your own sport) shopping at the local huge grocery chain for food not locally grown, and every home has a mommy and a daddy and a smattering of kids.

The neighborhood the workshop was in was one of the neatest in Chicago, with an independent bookstore and neighborhood shops selling works by artists, bakers, photographers, you name it, and people owned restaurants serving menus of organic, locally grown and vegetarian menus. No icky mall food chains. I have forgotten in my wrapped up world of white hetero Honda comfort that there are other more interesting people out there that I can learn from. Worth the hour in the car for sure, even navigating city streets.

However....however. I decided to go to the after conference to the 'after hours' coctail party. For a women's voices conference I met some interesting dudes, and that is all I will say about that. But I did learn that once you told people you are interested in writing a children's book, you get a look of discreditation. (I'm pretty sure I just made that word up)

Are you kidding me? Writing for kids doesn't mean I AM one...okay maybe I am a little but so frickin' what? And, one of the things we had to do was write a book on our nametag that may provoke discussion. I've read a shitload of books, so I just wrote the last one I read, "Ophelia". Great story that revamps Hamlet's "crazy" love. I recommend it if you think she got the raw end of the stick in a male dominated maybe Shakespeare was really a sham world. What's that, Elizabethan? Frick.

I seriously thought all these crazy chick lit Women's rights granolas would be really interested, but apparently it wasn't a witty/inteligent/thought provoking premise. Whatever. Maybe I'm not witty, or thought provoking...I wanted to tell all these posers (because I really HATE when people TRY to be smart and impress you. The smartest people I know never say jack or try to prove their own points. They just exist and occasionally toss out a comment that makes you say to yourself...oh DAMN! He/She's right. Shit!) So anyway, I wanted to tell these people that

1.) Just because I'm a mom of three and drive a minivan and I think the word Douche-Canoe is a keeper doesn't mean I'm not smart.
1a.) I also think "Shit-snacks" should be a phrase interjected into every conversation.
That doesn't make me less creative than anyone else.

So to sum up, what have we learned, dear readers in my blogosphere?
1.) I want to write a children's book.
2.) YOU want to say shitsnacks out loud at some point today and call your boss a douchecanoe.
3.) I like suburbia, but I like to get out once in a while.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Girls Are Just Stooopid, period.

Wow! I really did say that! I really looked at my 8 year old precious boy and said, 'You know son, sometimes girls are just stupid.".
Me, who is all pro women's rights.
Me, who took multiple feminist lit classes in college.
Me, who would have burned my bra in a war protest had I been born at the right historical time.
Me, who is trying to raise my daughter to be strong, independent, carefree, secure in her own skin and not pressured to conform to what those dreaded "boys" think looked my son in the eyes and told him girls were stupid. It defies all logic.

To be fair, he is having some issues at school socially. He confided, finally, that some girls tease him, and say he's gross. So instead of explaining how that means they must have a "crush on you" and give him some other paltry rhetoric, I just came out with, "Girls are stupid".

So what lessons have I taught my son? When girls say something you disagree with, they are lower on the intelligence ladder of evolution. What lesson have I taught my daughter? Mommy just says things she doesn't mean? I'm all hot air and no action? Don't believe what I say?

Or, better yet, "Honey, just tell boys what they want to hear, and continue life as it were. Literally, they cannot function without us, but we must pretend to let them think that they can. We are good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like us."

Or have I simply taught my children the definition of a hypocrite?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

On Bios and Goodbyes

I mentioned in the last post that I have joined a writers group. We meet once a month, and our first assignment, due in about 10 days is to write a bio about ourselves. Some people are going to do it the easy way, they've already stated. That includes basic stats. For me that would be: born: June 23, 1976, Hair Color: Brown, Eye Color: Green Height about 5'7", Weight: irrelevant.
Occupation: Wild animal wrangler, AKA Mother of 3.

I want to write my bio to be more personal though. I could write a dissertation on my feelings about Neopolitan ice cream and how on so many levels it's wrong, my distaste for the word "moist", and how I'm pretty sure Almond Joy and that other crappy Halloween candy, the coconut one are bred from Communistic ideas of what constitutes edible candy. I could say I'm a Developmental therapist and go on to explain what that is, but I'm standing firmly ground in the belief that WHO I am is not necessarily WHAT I do.

I'm a reader, a writer, a faith seeker, a do-gooder (sometimes), a family chef, and a lullaby singer. But that's just what I do. It doesn't really describe me or separate me from the pack of other mom's who work both in and out of the home. Thus, I am relatively stumped and have a little over a week to figure myself out.

On my journey of self-discovery this past week, I have decided that I am without a doubt a person who has a hard time with Goodbyes. That's long-term goodbyes. This has come to a head as I recently found out that Nate's Occupational Therapist has resigned from the clinic we both work at to follow another path. In fact, today is her last day, and at this very moment I am at the aforementioned clinic with him for his very last OT session with this modern day Annie Sullivan. We are here to say good-bye, and I am having more difficulty with this than ever I thought I would.

Last night I was describing this aching sense of loss I feel for this woman to another co-worker and also a dear, dear friend as she was on a long drive through Iowa. She started to console me by saying, "I know she's leaving but she has given you so many tools and strategies to get you through" at which point I totally cut her off. "Look, I'm sad on a personal level, as she's been my own miracle worker, but on a professional level I'm feeling a sense of HUGE loss. I have learned more about the sensory system from her than any course or book or handout out there. She has no idea what she has done for me".

And that is the crux of it, isn't it? So very rarely we have the prescience of mind to know when we are in the presence of a true jewel of a person, and so, when it comes time to let go and let them go, it becomes a bittersweet battle royale. I wish her the best in all she does, but like a tantrumming 2 year old I want to shout out, "DON'T GO! YOU CAN'T LEAVE ME LIKE THIS!". We've all had our good-byes that were necessary endings and we didn't think twice about, like forever leaving behind high school, or that crappy job you had at the dry cleaners for a few summers. But when we have to say goodbye to someone or something that is so inherently good for the soul, and who has held you, and taught you, and been an example of a standard you strive to achieve, well, those are the hardest of all.

Can I write all this in my bio due next week? I could, but it doesn't really describe me, just frames a few thoughts on how I feel. So I won't put it down on paper for my peer group to critically assess.

I will though, keep good thoughts and prayers sent out into the universe for my Annie Sullivan's continued career success. You have touched our lives in so many ways you will never know, and will continue to touch others with your gentle words and healing hands.

Good Luck Lynn. You will be missed.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

OhGawd....It's Time To Get Back to the Swing of It...

It's been a while, I know. But in my defense I've been on an exciting journey of self discovery and spiritual growth and some other mumbo jumbo that has keept me to quote Lloyd Dobbler, "Monumentally Busy." Summer was a blur, an absolute flew by so fast I'm not sure it really happened blur, and I think I was the only person I knew who was sad when school started because we did everything and yet NOTHING all summer.
Things we did included:

+5 triathlons, one of which was in Omaha. Jack completed his first KID'S tri and I have never been more proud. It was AWESOME! I also did a tri fairly close to home called "She Bangs" because the sea weed infested lake that we swam in is called Bangs Lake

+Camping. Overnight. In tent in Wisconsin (I freaking LOVE Wisconsin. You all have no idea how much). In a rainstorm. Very long story short, we were camping in the middle of all those horrific rainstorms in July courtesy of my brilliant planning and impeccable timing. It rained so much the first night the roof of our tent made a bowl and water dripped in, until it really just poured in so at 3 a.m. up we went to the local Walmart and hung out until the storm passed. We spent the entirety of that day drying our crap by a campfire only to be rained out AGAIN for night 2. At 6 a.m. we called it quits, literally threw our crap in the car and got the hell out. The kids, to their credit were AWESOME and they want to go camping again. I say not until we get the Weathermaster Twenty Twelve Tent from Coleman.

+Working. Good lord I have been putting in craptacular hours. In case you didn't know, it's really a pain in the ass to start your own business. The logistics and the paperwork are really cumbersome. And then....Oh and then...every quarter I have to pay taxes. Damn but that hurts. Apparently when you are self employed you pay extra social security or some such nonsense. What the what?

+ The boys got to go to Great America. Twice. Once with Daddy, because they got free tix via a reading program at school, and once with their BFF's for their friends' B-days. Glorious.

+ VBS and Boy Scout Camp. Also known as "slight respite for a desperate mother".

+ Loads of pool time. Even Maddie was jumping off the high dive by mid July. That's 3 meters of awesomeness.

+ Baseball. Lots and Lots of baseball. And, as it turned out, Jack hit the game winning homer to win the overall championship. But I'm not going to brag about it or anything. The best part of the baseball season was the TEAM. I really bonded with the other coaches wife and the other moms. They were and awesome group of people to spend all those hours and hours and hours with. I'm not kidding. I loved it.

+Drive in movies....Kung Fu panda for Jack's birthday party (yes! 4 bucks a kid!) and even a double feature with Cars 2 and Mr. Popper's Penguins. Of course, by 11:15 they were all asleep....

What we didn't get to this summer:
+ Dammit, not ONCE did we make it downtown, and that is ALWAYS a goal of mine. Hello aquarium (which will cost an arm and a leg to go to)...didn't get there once.

+No museums either. Really? How does THAT happen?

+Zero instances at the farmer's market. Too busy. And that hurt.

+Zero sightings at anything resembling cultural growth. Although we did see Aladdin at the Marriott, maybe that counts?

So what are we doing now? I'm working my tail off. John got a promotion so he is now a Senior Manager at Accenture. I don't know what that means. All I know is that he's in the top 1% of his company and he does magic with math and computers. He's like Chandler Bing...nobody knows what he does....and I am a-okay with that.
The kids are in school full swing. Maddie is LOVING full day kinneygarten. Nate is, eh about first grade, and I have my fingers crossed that Jack has turned a corner. There is no arguing about school work. There are no fights when I say it's time to read... he just does it. I vaguely wonder if I have a little Alfred Hitchcock angel on my shoulder.
Me? I've been writing like a fiend. Maybe someday I will be published, but for now I've joined a writers group and am persuing the craft with some good friends, spending a morning here and there at a local coffee shop talking about writing. I love it.
I'm also following in my dad's footsteps and seeking wisdom, knowledge and guidance wherever I can.

I subscribe to Podcasts from Willow Creek ( you all know the Mega church, and no it is not a cult). My favorite speaker as of late is Dr. Henry Cloud. He gave an amazing talk (he's a psychologist) about "Necessary Endings", also the convenient title of his latest book. Google him, he's super cool. And, on the subject of Willow the mega not a cult church, my good friend who is a member there invited me to hear Temple Grandin speak! I. am. SO. Excited. If you don't know who she is, then you're not in my biz, but google her too. So inspiring. And I'm gonna try and get continuing ed credits from that one for sure!

So that's us in a nutshell. I promise to get better about my writing. It's good for me. Oh! I forgot to mention that my new latest hobby that has been sucking the life out of me is taking my local school board to task and sending them scathing emails, FOIAing Board Documents, and defending my local teacher's and the kids who are affected by the BoE's crappy policies. I could go on about it forever, but not tonight.

Tonight I end with thoughts of how my 3 fantasy football teams will do tomorrow, and with a small smile of knowing that Jackster gets his 3rd grade Bible in the morning.

Life is good, but damn it goes by fast.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Evidence of a Storm

How beautiful is this? On our way to the double feature drive-in of the terribly appointed Cars 2 and the awful-didn't-follow-the-book-at-all-in-yet-another-attempt-to-ruin-literature-for-children Mr. Popper's Penguins, I snapped some photos. This is driving over the river. Less than 2 mi. from my home.

So beautiful. Even out the carwindow. Even more lovely since you can't smell it.

Aaaaand here we are. This is at the gas station we had to go to in order to get cash from the ATM. Power outages in mass quantities mean no credit card machines work, you have to actually drive further than usual to get gas because the pumps run on electricity, and your library fines just might be absolved if you're lucky.

Fence down!

Trees were looking like someone just twisted the top of them off, like unscrewing a mason jar.

Closer to home, this is what I saw when picking up Maddie's BFF for a playdate. This is about 1 mi. from my home. The people who live near this debacle just got power back today. They went 4 days without it people....and they are on wells. That means no toilet flushing. No running water. Nothing.

This is the root system of aforementioned tree. There were two such deformities in one yard.

If a tree falls in the woods, and no one hears it....well, I'm sure these people heard it.

The other one.

And while those are some of the biggest I saw, the damage is everywhere. Here are some from my block. My entire neighborhood lost trees just like this.

From further away. I really wish this was the exception, but in fact, it was the rule.

Haven't yet heard if anyone's been hurt, so that is good. While this is bad and losing power sucks, it totally coulda been worse.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Don't Know Whacha Got....Til It's Goooone

Remember that old song, from the 80's or whatever? Who sang it, Skid Row? Some other frizzy hair band? I think they were singing about love, but really, when it comes to "HAVING" and then "HAVING NOT" you could really be singing about anything, right?

In our case, this was demonstrated fervently by the push of some pretty serious storms that pushed through our area on Monday morning. In Hindsight, we probably should have brought the kids to the basement. My good friend Jenny reported swirly cue patterns in her grass. That is super Awesome. Anyway, the storm hit, and luckily I was running late to head to work (as usual). So I waited it out, and am glad I did. Not only did we lose power but over 500 THOUSAND people in the Chicagoland area did as well. Driving in to work I noticed down powerlines, trees, branches that had fallen on name it. It was scary. Super scary in fact.

We have power now, but lost it for about 30 hours with the rest of the hood. Some of our good friends and people in our town are projected to get theirs back, maaaaybe by Friday. That's 5 days, no power. And let me tell you, Monday night was HOT. I am not a fan of airconditioning, but we always have our fans on to move the air. And 90 degree air plus humidity that just sits on your skin with no breeze plus your father's borrowed generator making noise outside your window makes for an uneasy nights sleep.

You don't ever really notice how quiet a house is, even full of people when there is no power. No refrigerator hum. No tick tock of the nightstand clock. No gentle whirrrrr of an overhead fan. No distant buzzing of the closet lights on in the kids' rooms. No neighbor's air conditioners kicking on and off. It is silent and still, and though oddly beautiful, still unnerving.

We are taking the kids tent camping sans electricity for 3 days soon, and after this, I'm sure the novelty has worn out. Although they are excited to sleep in tents, their little bodies crave that electronic stimulation and I'm torn between being horrified that they (and I) are so reliant on devices and rejoicing that they are back on and the kids are drooling in front of Bugs Bunny and leaving me alone. What will happen in a tent with nothing?

Still, we are the lucky ones. We didn't lose any food. We didn't experience any major catastrophies, even though everytime the power goes the kids like to run around yelling that "We're all Gonna DIE!". Somehow we survive. Imagine that. And the kids even got a little bit of a technological detox.

I can find the silver lining anywhere.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The First Tri...*Sigh*...

The craziness of life is such that it has taken me a week to get this posted. Crazy.

Sunday the 12th was the first Tri of the season, a delightful affair with about 2000 women. I was reminded why I love doing these, when in an act of camaraderie a few girls in my wave and I were chit chatting about the looney tooney Iron Man people who just go to the bathroom while on the course. It's a lovely visual, isn't it? Some dude, riding his bike for a hundred miles whipping *it* out and just peeing as he goes. Or worse. My new lady friends and I decided that we enjoyed the sprint distances and lack of urinating men just fine thankyouverymuch.

The swim was tough. Tougher than usual, because it hurt a bit. My time wasn't the greatest as I did better last year. My physical therapist put it in perspective when she said that a.) she hasn't let me train really and b.)I'm working with an injury. This point was hammered home Monday thru Weds when I had radiating pain in my wrist and had ZERO hand strength. I couldn't even hold a pencil, that's how bad this gets. So I will forgive myself for the swim.

My transitions bit the bomb though. I am full of excuses on this blog today, so I'm going to chalk it up to being in a really sucky position for the swim in and bike in/out.

The run went okay. My time was a bit less last year, but they changed the course this year and I am thinking it was not a full 5k last year. I've never run a 5k that fast, even just in a road race without biking and swimming. Either that or the caffeine pills I took last year had more of an effect than I gave them credit for.

The irony is, I felt so good after this race. I mean, super good. I wound up doing the hour long drive home, hit two ball games and a birthday party and was okay. Tired, but okay. Monday it was tough rolling out of bed for work, but that doesn't separate me from anyone else doing the race. Well, maybe I can be separated from those who have desk jobs since I am literally rolling on the floor with a bunch of 2 year olds for 8 hours of the day. Good stuff though.

I'm ready to do more. Now I just have to find the time to sign up!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

I Stand Corrected

I stand corrected...and humbled... and quite honestly, floored.

Yesterday we were at the pool. Jack jumped off the diving board, did something goofy, surfaced, and proceeded to tell me that he had just "hurt his BALL SACK". I was standing next to our next door neighbor in the water and he wished Jack's ballsack well, at which point I told our neighbor we did not need to encourage that.


I guess I'm glad he didn't say NUTSACK.

But does it matter?

Friday, June 03, 2011

Bad Words

I'm going out on an exaggerative limb here and I'm going to say right out that the best day of Jack's 7 year old life came about four months ago when I allowed him to start swearing. You have never seen a kid so excited to express his frustration in the video gaming world when I approved the questionable yet harmless "crud" and allowed him to add it to his verbal repetoire.

For some reason, (and I'm sure it's some kind of normal development thing) Jack is obsessed with being able to say "bad words". On a cognitive level, I realize he thinks it's a very grown up thing to do. On an emotional level, it's something akin to watching the years roll by...just adding one more step in the growing up process. It's a blessing that he thinks "crud" is a really bad one that in this house at least, you're NOT allowed to say until you are 7 ANDAHALF. That ANDAHALF (all one word) are very important, as they establish that Jack is in fact, more grown up and older and more important than his younger, less sophisticated sibling counterparts. I think he has a countdown going to his 10th birthday; the golden age of being allowed to say, "crap".

His innocence is really sweet, but on a whole other level, and something I fight myself on, he does seem a little socially immature. Two days ago we were at soccer tryouts (another blog story for another blog day). Jack's age group was on the field. The next age group up, third graders were next to me on the grassy knoll practicing. Calling each to other, 'Hey, Nutsack" like I call my girlies, "Hey Girl". Wait a minute! Is this how kids talk when adults pretend not to listen? And what do I say when my kid calls another kid a 'nutsack'? Is that a normal boy-in-sports-phenomenon? I don't even think Jack knows what a 'nutsack' is. He questioned his anatomy once and I gave him the correct medical term. Maybe he does and acts smarter than that for my benefit. Who knows.

Last week we had a super interesting conversation based on some slide at the park graffiti. "Mom" he said, all serious and not afraid I would be mad, "Mom, Is GAY a bad word?"
REally? Just put the loaded gun in my hand now.
"Well, son, it depends on how it's being used. Where did you see it?"
His response of course, was on the playground, while he and his buddy Tyler were playing while their daddies/baseball coaches were chatting.
"On the slide it said, 'JUSTIN BIEBER IS GAY'"

So I launched into an entirely lost on 7 year old brain diatribe on how calling someone GAY is mean because people do it to try and hurt someone's feelings, navigating the minefield of what being GAY means because I am NOT ready for "THE TALK" yet on any level. I mean, how doyou do sex ed with a kid who doesn't even know what a NUTSACK is?

Someday in the very near future we will have a chat on what it means to be gay, especially since on the news the big thing around here is that Illinois FINALLY approved the legality of civil union ceremonies and both the mayor of Chicago and the Governor of IL attended a few held in Millenium Park yesterday. I will get to explain to my child that being GAY does not equate being bad, being a sinner, being wrong, or the next thing on the list to Jeffrey Dahmer. It's like saying you have brown eyes. And to me, saying someone is GAY just to be mean and hurtful is waaaaay worse than calling your buddy a nutsack. Aside from the literal dictionary defintion, GAY is very much NOT a funny derrogative.

Love and be loved. Accept and be accepted. Take care of and be taken care of.

Thanks to your song of the week is
One Tribe
By: the Black Eyed Peas.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Most Magical Place on Earth

No, it's not some Indian Ashram where you can feel enlightened. It's Disney World. And I LOVE it!

We surprised the kids last Friday morning with music from Peter Pan BLARING over the surround speakers. Yes kids, you can fly! Here are your packed suitcases. And they were only a little crabby we woke them up.

I took 560 pictures. The following are just some highlights. I have a few hundred more on Nate's very own camera and Maddie used my small one too. Needless to say, there are lots of nostril shots, but I did get one of me and the Mayor of Disney. The coolness factor was way high.

So, this is pretty much how these kids roll. In case you didn't know. Literally singin' in the rain.

I could be this Belle. What do you think she gets paid?

Now Opa...back away....let go and back away slooooowly.

After a day at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and a pink weave, daddy spoiled her with some sweet earrings.

This is her beauty treatment. She secretly loved it. Sabina from Argentina did her hair and Maddie with blonde hair took her pictures. It was meant to be.

Okay, so this Ariel wasn't the best looking, but I liked her. Seh and Maddie did theri 'crazy eyes' thing together. Very cute.

Sure, some people do amazing chalk drawings. In Epcot we sit in broken tires.

Here's the crew. It was nice my mom and dad were there...even if they ditched us for their luaus and hoopdie doos and what they were the little kids...

Definitely one of the trip highlights. My dad got pulled out of a crowd to play this instrument. And then he got fired and demoted to maraccas. Funniest thing ever.

"And there I was...just walking along...mindin' my own damn business and I get pulled out of the crowd for this crap." Thanks dad....I'm glad you got picked. I hope you had fun doing it too. Even if you got fired.

For the boys, part of the fun of the trip was taking Oma on rides and making her have heart attacks. Like scary rides and water rides. Oma was a gamer and even suffered getting literally soaked. She and John got the worst of it...even in 90 degree weather their underwear was wet ALL DAY. It was almost funnier than Opa's stint in the band.

We saw LOTS of characters. But I refused to wait in line for an hour and a half for stupid repunzel. Even if Maddie and her dress and weave were a cute RIPENCIL.

Anyone know what this is? It was right outside our room in the river. I kept calling it a sealion, but I think it may be a muskrat.

So, of all the princesses, I find Snow White to be in the top 3 annoying. She wanders into a house that's filthy and the midget residents have names like "Dopey" and "Sleepy"? Aside from the stereotypical male references regarding such, what obligated her to clean that mess? Because she thought cute little children lived there? Girl, please. You're a princess. Hire a maid. And don't be so stupid as to eat a nasty apple from an ugly old lady. Stupid. You give teenage girls a bad rap.

Another park, another classic pose.

I've got my eye on you Mike Wazowski.....

Honey I shrunk the kids. And tried to leave them there. But they found me. And followed me home.

It used to be the 588-2300 Empire today guy. Now Opa's squaring off with a cartoon handyman.

It's cool to get your picture with Walt's frozen head.

Ahhh if it were that easy.

Who doesn't love Woody and Buzz?

My 4 favorite people on the tea cups. I will not go on them. Ever. But I will take photos.

Again....if only it were this easy....

So that's a brief sampling of the almost 600 photos. I love Disney world in all of it's King of American Gluttony implications. There is a certain amount of guilt, but John is like a little kid there creating memories. I love the time spent with the kids. The bonding...the memories. Mr. Walt was a genius. Absotively posolutely.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

With This Ring...

Somehow, my beautiful symbol of John's eternal and undying love, my engagement ring broke after almost 12 years of intermittent wear and tear. The setting for one of my side diamonds just snapped off from the rest of it's pretty little diamondy world, and I didn't even realize it until we were driving home from my sister's house on Easter. Because I only wear my ring on a sometimes basis, I have no idea how long it's been broken for.

I know that the statement, "Wearing it sometimes" bothers some. I have good valid reasons though.

Reason one: I wore it once after Jack was born, changed a dirty diaper and scratched the bajeebies out of his little hiney. To avoid a call in to DCFS, I just took it off, unless I was wearing nice clothes and sans children for a while.

Reason two: I NEVER wear my rings to work. I work with small children, some of whom are very "active', or their special needs require me to do a lot of holding and positioning. Back to reason 1: instead of having an agency called on me and DCFS show up at my door, I decided to keep my job by not causing bloody gouges on some poor babies' face. Or butt for that matter.

So now my ring is broken, and what to do? I took it to a local jeweler where I've had it cleaned and polished before. They do a GREAT trustworthy job.

The saleslady looks at my ring and points out that yes, the ring can be soldered into a working wearable piece of jewelry....but...well, you KNOW it's just a band aid solution, right? Apparently, the only way to really fix the problem is to reset the whole damn thing.

As the soldering band aid can last a week, or years (but not likely according to this fine jewels pusher) I really should try to re size it. And, Oh Look! Here's our book of bands, we could find the exact same one...and it will cost OVER A GRAND to reset it.

At this point I had to ask what resetting entailed. I am not a jewelry person. I don't really accessorize, as there's really not much by way of accessories that will "fix" my flaws. Sparklies ain't makin' it better you guys.

I became educated on the idea of a complete reset button on the ring. Apparently, it's like a whole new ring, and they take my old broken down 12 year old band and melt down the gold for a credit or some such ridiculousness. Well...if that's the only way to fix it, then maybe next time I have a few spare grand lying around I'll consider the option....but the guilt creeps in.

The saleslady finishes her reset pitch and looks at me...a bit deviant for my liking and says, "Well, you know, you could ALWAYS get a NEW setting." I countered with the fact that I like my ring. It was a gift. I'm not a big fan of re gifting, unless it's a really horrible gift, like purple sweatpants, or teddy bear t-shirts.

I sear, she looks at me, and says, "Well, honey...we don't' keep our cars or hairstyles forever! We change those up!" Now I'm getting a wee bit frustrated, because my husband, has in fact, had his hairstyle forever. We're longtermers, her and I, so I say to the lady, "Well, I DO plan on keeping my husband forever. This was the ring he chose for me and it was blessed by the pastor when we got married! I would feel so guilty."

The Resetting Pimp looks at me very, mmm, I don't know, sympathetically I suppose is the right word. Like I just said I have cancer or something, and she says, "Oooh, you're one of those sentimental ones. How cute!"

Cute. She said that because I value a heartfelt gift that was blessed in a church in front of God and everyone that I am cute. This bothers me on so many levels, not the least of which I have never been referred to as "cute" for any reason ever at all. And now I'm being patronized for my sentimentality?

So I wonder, does anyone else feel this way? Does the ring, which is just a symbol, I know, but does the ring being blessed in a sacramental ceremony not mean anything anymore? Or did it ever?

Now, if my husband wanted to buy me an anniversary band to add on to the already existing fine jewelry I own I wouldn't oppose, but that ring, that man, this life we have created...well, we're lifers. In it for the Looooooong haul.

To quote a great friend, "That's just how we roll"....

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chuckie's Bride Lives With My Sister, so Watch Out!

My sister starts out a conversation during opening her daughter's birthday gifts with something along the lines of how sweet and cuddly her neighbor is. Who also happens to be older and missing a few fries from the order. Whatever. Then she goes on to say things like how nice this lady is, she just "shows up" and gives her kids her old stuff from her closet. Toys and games and whatnot. And then she says, "And look what she gave Brooke...just because!" Showing us this: After my initial shock and revulsion and multiple expletives, and gasps of "What the HELL? What in the hell is that thing?" I was informed it was some Madame Alexander doll. Uh, not to me baby. That is pure Bride of Chuckie material.

I don't know about you all, but I am NOT a doll fan. I used to pull Barbie's heads off because, well it was Barbie. And her head just came off soooo easily. After seeing this real Shirley Temple Doll now I know why I ripped their heads they couldn't see to attack me and eat my face off while I was sleeping. My brother in law wants to get rid of the doll. I can't say I blame him, because it looks cursed. But my sister thinks it's worth a lot of money. So I say sell it, get rid of it. That is the stuff of nightmares.

You can almost hear it intoning..."Animal crackers in my soup...monkeys and rabbits loop the loop...don't fall asleep with me near, I just might nibble off your ear!"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

This Is How We Do the Egg Thang

On the day before Easter (for those of you with memory issues, it would have been Saturday), We had an egg hunt (our 3rd of the season), a baseball parade, a baseball game, and then the neighbors came over for what I call a White Trash Pizza Party. Thats where you bring your own frozen pizza and we all share it after it's cooked up and ready to go. Incidentally, they stayed until well past 11 p.m., because we were playing some dice game, betting quarters, and after I had a few glasses of wine I started telling completely irrelevant stories. Mostly about nothing. Does anyone else do that after having a few? You just start telling stories with no point and that don't make a whole lot of sense? I seriously can't be the only one.

I wanted a picture of the kids all together. This folks, is maybe as good as it gets. This is after John yelled at Nate to "Look Up!"

"But my Ear is itchy!"

Let's try one more time....

Finding eggs tossed on the grass at various intervals is apparently serious work.

She was happy about this egg hunt. There was a lot of chocolate involved.

Here we are dying eggs. Maddie has decided that anytime her picture gets taken she wants it done in her 'crazy eyes' pose.

This is pretty typical for this kid.

As is this. Never mind the magic wand you get in the dye box.

Happy Easter, Love, Crazy Eyes.