Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sorry for such a long absence, but I just haven't felt too inspired to write. And while I'm not sure it's incredibly exciting, I thought I'd share a few conversations with my oldest child.

Anna: Can I go outside to play?
Me: Do you have any homework?
Anna: No
Me: Why don't you pull out your agenda so I can see what you've been up to at school.
Anna: Oh, yeah, I do have a test tomorrow.
Me: Shouldn't you study for it? You said you didn't have homework.
Anna: I don't have homework.
Me: What do you call studying for a test?
Anna: A choice.

As for the next story, I'll provide a little background info and then sum it up. There are several members on the paternal side of my family who have this somewhat ridiculous work ethic that sometimes makes it very difficult for us to say no to certain responsibilities. Some of us even volunteer for certain jobs because we're afraid that they may not get done if we don't do something.

This explanation leads to me to the following story. Recently Anna shared with me that she was tired of taking her class' lunch cart, because as a result of taking on this task, she was the last one to eat and then didn't have much time to eat her lunch. She said that no one had the job of taking the cart to the cafeteria so she kept doing it. The purpose of the lunch cart is to give students who bring their lunch a place to leave their lunch boxes on the way to recess. I thought of a simple solution -- don't take the cart on a day when she doesn't bring her lunch. However, she wouldn't agree to this because then no one would take the cart and people might lose their lunch boxes. She has been cursed with my family's over-active sense of responsibility. However, I do have hope for her because she has already taken the important step of telling her teacher she did not want to do it anymore, and the teacher agreed to find someone else to be responsible for the cart.

I'm sure there will be many more interesting conversations with my daughter. She has already begun questioning me about certain coming-of-age issues, and so far I've survived. We'll see how the year progresses.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Oh, my! It has been a very long time since I've written anything. The past month has been a whirlwind. School starting, D's new job(s) starting and our annual Labor Day reunion with my college roommate.

I wish I could write something witty or share some entertaining story; however, I'm drawing a blank. I've got some free time tomorrow night, so I'll try to get creative.

For now, I'll leave you with a few back to school shots...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

We are so lucky to live in a great neighborhood. It's a place where kids are usually playing outside at any given time of the day. My kids are running back and forth between our house and neighbors' houses. We easily have three parks to choose from and the kids can ride bikes and scooters throughout the neighborhood. I know we often take all this for granted, but all I have to do is cross over to a nearby neighborhood where I know the area is not as kid-friendly.

I think my comfort level within my neighborhood can be attributed to the fact that I actually know my neighbors. We visit often, and our kids who range in ages all hang out together. The adults are able to share happy or sad news with each other, and we also look out for each other. Most importantly, my immediate neighbors are just as willing to participate in our annual block party, which consists of water balloons, food, drinks, small fireworks and more water balloons.

I'm very glad our children will have some wonderful memories of their neighborhood friends.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Somehow I have become the social media "expert" in my office. However, with a staff of six and so many projects that it's difficult to keep up with various trends -- marketing, design, etc. -- it doesn't take much to be an expert. In a larger office, particularly in the private sector, I would just be a worker bee trying to keep up with new technology.

As it is, I have read several articles online and even attended a conference focusing on social media. Remember this story where I unintentionally disregarded the keynote speaker?

This was an unfortunate experience especially since he was very interesting, entertaining and knowledgeable. Tomorrow Penny and I will have another chance to listen to Peter Shankman when we attend a workshop in Tulsa. Since money is tight, especially at a nonprofit, I don't have too many professional development opportunities. So I'm glad the powers that be at OkieSMart are bringing Shankman to Oklahoma.

Hopefully, we will manage to forget what idiots we were in Frisco and learn some very helpful information. Because for the first time in quite a while, I'm excited about learning new things in the field of PR/marketing.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Life has been a little rough lately, so I'll take this moment to focus on the lighter things.

We took the kids swimming yesterday, after Jeremy and D returned from boy scout day camp. It worked out perfectly because we got there 45 minutes before the pool closed which was just long enough for the parent who was entertaining Spencer and we got in free.

Back to Spencer, I could not take my eyes off him for a second at the pool because he would jump in regardless of who may be able to catch him or he would take off for the diving board. So I got a lot of repetitive exercise lifting him out of the pool, moving back (back, mommy, back) and pull him above the surface after he jumped. After we watched Anna dive off the side in the deeper water, he decided he could do that too. So he started falling into the pool headfirst. Eventually, he figured out that a proper dive requires placing the hands above your head. Olympics -- Michael Phelps or Greg Louganis -- here comes Spencer!

This boy knows no fear -- except the terror he feels when he sees a certain neighbor's runaway dog. Between him and his partner in crime, there will be two mothers who will not be breathing easy for awhile -- even though we appear calm while Thing One and Thing Two find new hiding places or make up new games that require playing around the storm drain.
Photo credit goes to Thing One's mom.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It has been interesting around our home the last few weeks. While I could be bitter, I'm actually enjoying having a husband who is available to help with the kids and the end of year activities all day, every day. Yes, I could be concerned about the lack of a full-time income, but I know it will all work out.

As for showing grace and forgiveness to the individual who has made this togetherness possible, I doubt that's going to happen any time soon. I have reached the point where I'm dying to run into him or his wife at the store and kill them with kindness.

That update was for you, Amber. I'd tell more, but that post would be WAY too long, and I'd hate for it to come back to bit us.

Anyway, on to family updates. Jeremy has finally become a real boy -- no he wasn't a puppet -- but he now has the appetite of a growing boy. While this is exciting for the parents of perpetually petite kids, the timing could've been better since I'm shopping very carefully with limited funds. Every night he wants to eat something before bed because he's still hungry. I'm going to have to work on this since I know it's not a good idea to eat and then sleep -- even though I do it all the time.

Anna is about to become a fifth grader. It's hard to believe. I'm so proud because she is one of the top readers in her class so she got special privileges during the reading carnival. We are currently reading To Kill A Mockingbird together, which REALLY makes me proud. I didn't read it until I was a freshman in high school. I can't wait to watch the movie with her once we finish the book.

Jack is Jack. He's excited about finishing pre-K, but he seems to be under the impression that he gets to skip kindergarten and go straight to first grade. He's smart, but I don't think he's ready for that. He still says "guess what? I love you." So he's not getting too big for that.

Spencer's lates method of trying to wrap me around his finger is to hug my neck and say, "I miss you!" This was pretty cute when I had just returned from somewhere -- whether I'd been gone 30 minutes or the whole day. Now, he's using it to his advantage, particulary when he's supposed to be in bed. Sorry, son, but using that line 30 seconds after I've sent you to your room is not going to earn you any points.

That's a quick summary of the state of our household. We'll see if I survive the last few days of school followed by a week of VBS...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The next 20 years are going to be very long with several heart-stopping moments -- all because of a toddler named Spencer. We know he is capable of extracting himself from certain situations, rooms or even houses. However, I've been a little lax in believing that as long as I throw the deadbolt, he's safe and I can take a breather.

Wrong! A locked door? He laughs at a locked door -- and the adult who actually thought that would keep him from his goal.

Within an hour, he escaped from my neighbor's house where he was supposed to be playing in the backyard. This neighbor knows my son well, so she locked the storm door on her front door. What was she thinking? Once Spencer realized that one method of escape was blocked, he simply opened the garage door -- a door most toddlers would have trouble with -- and headed home ACROSS the street!

But I don't blame her because I can't even keep the kids contained. After his father and Jeremy left for Cub Scouts, Spencer was inconsolable because he wanted to go. Then life got even worse because I wouldn't let him have a popsicle until he ate dinner. I was determined to keep him locked in the house until he had eaten, so I quickly locked the deadbolts on both the garage and front doors. After successfully blocking his potential exits, I went to the bedroom to pick up a phone.

As I walked back to the front of the house, I thought I heard a door. When I entered the living room, the only child missing was Spencer -- and the back door was open! I ran out the garage just as he rounded the corner to the front yard. At least he hadn't entered the street yet...

Now you can understand while it's going to be difficult over the next few years. I may have to get my hair colored every other month to hide all the gray hairs he will cause.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I'm glad Jeremy is keeping me full of amusing stories since I've got so much crap going on in other areas of my life. (In the middle of a couple of the busiest weeks of my year, D was ridiculously let go from his job. I'm not going into to details because it is to crazy to really explain.)

Anyway, here's my Jeremy story for the week.

Insurance is paying for a new roof and gutters after the damagin hail storm in February. However, we are just now getting around to having these things done. The roof is finished, and the gutter guys were here yesterday.

Jeremy, watching the gutters being installed: How much do gutters cost?

Me: I don't remember. Insurance is paying for it.

Jeremy: Did it pay for the roof, too?

Me: Yes.

Jeremy: That's a good deal.

Me: Well, we do pay for our insurance every month so we can get the money to make these repairs when needed.

Jeremy: Still it's a good deal.

Ah, the wisdom of an eight year old.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sometimes I'm afraid my oldest son is becoming too much like me. I rarely laugh out loud, and I'm usually too serious. However, apparently he doesn't perceive me as a kill-joy. During the morning assembly at school, his class has the opportunity to share why their mothers are special. Jeremy described me as fun and exciting. I'm not sure where that came from.

But to support his positive image of me, the gifts he made me at school (which he insisted I open this evening) stated in a variety of ways that I am nice, silly and fun. Good to know that my crankiness is not the overriding memory he has of his childhood so far.

I still believe he has inherited my dry sense of humor. When I was telling the kids that the new principal at one of the other elementary schools in town was my high school history teacher and I used to babysit his kids, Jeremy responded by saying, "he TRUSTED you?" Once he took a look at my face, he promptly followed that up with, "Were you the best student in his class?" I honestly told him it wasn't very hard when there were only about six kids in the class and four of them barely passed.

Jeremy is definitely one of a kind.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Several junk emails are sent each day to my work address. Fortunately, the majority head straight into my junk mail. But occasionally, one or two will sneak through to my main inbox. Usually, they are obviously trash, but sometimes they have subject lines that are very vague.

Today I received a message simply titled "hot dogs." Of course, my immediate thought was that was a code name for a male enhancement product, but I took a chance and looked at it. Much to my surprise I was being invited to a hot dog dinner Memorial weekend by someone who worked in a local school district. Although I regularly send emails to faculty and staff at schools throughout the state, I did not remember ever having contact with this person. While it was an odd email, I dismissed it and continued on with my other more pressing responsibilities -- like an event for nearly 1,000 people next week.

However, because I'm strange, I checked my work email this evening, and got a very good laugh. Two people who received the original "hot dogs" message chose to reply to all. The first person couldn't make it because her husband has to work. The second person was trying to coax that individual to ditch her husband and join the fun. Evidently, it was some type of family reunion.

At this point I began looking through the addresses listed and noticed a few belonged to a couple of media guys and another has the address of a local gentleman's club. I can only assume that the original sender completely botched someone's address when they sent it to me. While it appears my last name is the same as some of those listed, it would take some effort to come up with my work address.

D's response to it all was that we should show up on that Saturday. Unfortunately, the sender did not provide the location -- probably because all the people (except me) she was sending it to would know where she lived.

After the week I've had I needed a good laugh.

Monday, April 27, 2009

DVR is a wonderful thing. It has me a much more relaxed person. I'm not wasting my late nights surfing channels trying to find something interesting to watch. I simply pull up one of the shows I've recorded and enjoying skipping commercials -- and weather alerts.

It has also taken the term *instant gratification* to a new level. My toddler has no concept of time, so when he wants to watch Curious George, Dragon Tales or The Backyardigans, I am able to grant his wish (or demand). I'm sure this is an issue I'm going to have to deal with at some point as he becomes more demanding, but for now I'll take 30 minutes of time I can spend doing something constructive around the house.

Hopefully, that time in the near future will be spent planning a home addition. We'll see how this week goes...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

It has been a cranky few days in my household. All week I've encouraged Anna to work on a social studies project that was due Friday. Of course, she's known about it for a few weeks -- we've also known since the end of March. She did spend a little time each day finding some of the information she needed to do the poster. But little did she -- or I -- realize how much time it would actually take to complete the poster.

Anna pulled the first late night (of many, I'm sure) finishing the project. She was up until midnight, but I have to say she was quite a trooper. Normally, she's a whiny drama queen when she has to do something and she's tired or just doesn't want to do it. But it wasn't until midnight, when she was writing her teacher's name on the poster, that the tears appeared. With all the maps and other random pieces of information she had to find, it was her teacher's difficult-to-spell name that sent her over the edge. But the tears didn't last long and she was finally able to go to bed.

While I was not happy with the fact we were up until midnight -- which meant I was really up until 2 a.m. because I still needed some down time -- it was OK the next morning. When she was walking out the door to school, she stopped and said (unassisted or guilted into it), "Mommy, thank you for helping me on my poster." It was said very sincerely and without any sarcasm.

I'm very proud -- and very glad she chose Oregon for her project since we had all kinds of resources to pull from!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We had a fun but exhausting Easter. For days leading up to the weekend, I was excited to try to make what would be an inferior version of Bakerella's cake pops. I had high hopes that our Easter egg pops would be adorable, but I should've known better. The highlight of the experience was the fun I had with Anna, neighbor Kristin and her daughter.

As for Easter, we made it to church and enjoyed a nice service. Then we returned home where I immediately prepared the sweet potatoes and awesome banana pudding -- all while wearing my heels. My feet were killing me, so I changed clothes while I made the kids keep on their Easter clothes. I'm so mean...

Our annual Easter picture was not the best one we've taken, especially since we had to take it inside due to the rain and Jeremy was upset for some reason.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Jack turned 5 today. In some ways it's hard to believe he's growing up so fast, and in other ways, it seems like he should be older. He was only 1 1/2 years old when I began working part time, so we've spent more time together than I was able to spend with the older two kids during their preschool years. Of course, the older two spent those years with D and I know that was great for them.

I love all my kids, but my relationship with each of them is different. Anna, my only girl, is my emotional, drama girl who helps me remember how fun and silly it can be to be a girl. Jeremy is my serious boy, and I enjoy spending one-on-one time with him because we actually talk and he is able to be a little silly and mischievous. Spencer is the baby and that's a whole post on it's own.

Jack is my buddy. We just hang out and talk about random things (Mommy, our house faces north and Grandma's faces south, right? -- How does he know this stuff???). He has always been eager and ready to help me in the kitchen. He is so observant and absorbs so much that I'm very interested to see how well he does academically.

He's a sweet, funny kid who seems to be a best friend to many, and I hope he carries that with him through the rest of his life.

Happy birthday, Jack!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I have been exhausted lately and Daylight Savings Time isn't helping. Not only is it taking superhuman effort to get the kids in bed and asleep before 11 p.m., but now I have to buy a new alarm clock.

When I bought the current clock several years ago, I loved it. Nice big numbers used to be large enough for me to read without my glasses or contacts, but over the years, I think those numbers have decreased in size. The clock also reset itself if the power went out without the need for backup batteries.

Even better -- it automatically adjusted the time during the spring and fall time changes. At least it did before the U.S. government decided to mess with the time change weekends. This change wasn't a problem at first because there were several news stories about how a certain weekend *used* to be the night to fall back or spring forward. But now that we are a few time changes removed from the government's helpfulness, no one talks about it as much anymore.

And that is the reason I have to buy a new clock. The media failed to mention -- at least any of the media I saw/read -- that the time change would've occurred this past weekend rather than a few weeks ago. So when the alarm clock started singing at 6:45 a.m. the other morning, I kept hitting the snooze until 7:15ish. When I realized D had crawled back in bed rather than started to get ready for work, I asked him what was going on. Yeah, it was actually an hour earlier than what our clock said. So wrong!!

So I was awaken much earlier than I should've been and for an anti-morning person, this is grounds for trashing the failed electronic. To make matters worse, evidently Leap Year was involved because this time change occurred Monday morning instead of Sunday morning, and now the date on the clock reads April 6.

It has caused more confusion that it is worth. So when I take one of my many trips to WalMart or Target, I will be shopping for a new clock.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tonight was Jeremy's turn for a little one on one. Evidently at some point I promised to take him to Chili's and he didn't forget. So we spent the evening dining on junk food. I have to say Chili's chocolate molten lava cake is really the best dessert I've had anywhere -- not including the snickers fondue at The Melting Pot. That was in a category all its own.

Anyway, I felt I needed to end the evening with a little pep talk since he kept having run-ins with his siblings earlier in the day. What were my words of wisdom? You can't control other people's actions but you can control yours. AND your siblings don't wake up in the morning thinking about how they can make him mad that day.

Sounds pretty solid, right? Wrong. According to Jeremy, he has heard Jack in the middle of the night saying, "what can I do to make Jeremy mad."

So I just told him he needed to be less serious. I'm not sure that heart to heart was a roaring success, especially since he started fighting with Jack about three minutes after we returned home.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I took a walk down memory lane this evening. Fifteen years ago in May, I graduated from college and moved into my own apartment. It was a wonderful time -- I enjoyed my small apartment and its peacefulness. And that fall when the new TV season launched, I was able to sit quietly each evening checking out new shows like Friends and ER and getting hooked on some that had already been around a few years like Law & Order -- before there was a Special Victims Unit or a group to deal with those with Criminal Intent.

Yes, I watched ER from the beginning. I remember many of those "special" episodes -- Love's Labor Lost or Doug's return. But over the years I got a social life and gave birth to children, both of which interfere greatly with TV watching. In the past few years, Friends said farewell and Without a Trace provided more entertainment that ER. But since I'm still a fan of Jack McCoy's, I check in on L&O every now and then.

Tonight my daughter and I spent the evening watching the final episode of ER. Yes, it was past her bedtime, but sometimes you have to make an exception when you are having a bonding moment. But it became quickly evident that while I had a few brief moments of emotion remembering certain characters or incidences, Anna is definitely her father's daughter.

She has not had the life experiences I have had. Lost loved ones as I have. Or felt the great disappointments I have. But ER still managed to make her cry while I sat there and laughed silently at her.

As for the question that was posed during this evening's special look back, Dr. Gates or Dr. Ross? I have to go with Dr. Ross.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I am a night person. I've never been a morning person. One of the biggest mistakes I've ever made was enrolling in 8:30 classes my first year of college. Not a good idea.

Once I graduated from college and started on the career path, I adjusted to go to sleep by at least 11 p.m. and getting up around 6:30 a.m. However, since I've been working part time for the past few years, I have reverted back to a night owl. On my days off, it takes me most of the morning to start functioning and even though I could spend the entire day focusing on cleaning the house, I still find myself folding laundry and mopping floors at 10 p.m.

I am going to be in for a world of hurt when I return to full-time employment. Now off I go to finish folding laundry and if I'm still energetic I might tackle the kitchen floor.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I'm watching basketball and feeling too lazy to download my own pictures of this evening's activities, so you can get scoop on Kristin's blog. I know she is skeptical of her middle child's ability to endure tonight's sleepover, but I'm not sure my oldest son can manage to not intentionally make things more difficult for Andy.

I would say more, but I've got to focus on basketball and my bracket.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

You know those women who love to shop for shoes? Who have hundreds of pairs of shoes in their closets (Amber)? Who can find a cute, comfortable, cheap shoe that fits at any store they walk into?

Well, I'm not one of those. A sure-fire way for me to sink into a depression is to go shoe shopping. It's even worse if I MUST find a pair of shoes for a specific event. So much pressure! To add insult to injury, I have to shell out big bucks for a good dress shoe. The reason the task is so difficult for me is that my foot is ridiculously narrow.

Before I was pregnant, I wore a 7 AAAA. I heard rumors about how pregnancy can cause your feet to spread. And after giving birth to four children, I now wear a size 7 AAA. I was very disappointed. I had such hope for an average-size foot.

However, I have never been so excited about buying shoes as I was late last week. I was googling a variety of things to test out this fundraiser search bar I had downloaded for my church. On a whim, I inserted the brand of shoe I have been very please with over the years -- Munro. This wonderful website, Shopzilla, popped up and conveniently provided me with a summary of online stores that carried the brand. Again, I was thrilled (very much an understatement) to find a style of Munro on Sierra Trading Post for about $20!!!

To make a long story short, I bought two pairs of the $20 shoes in navy and black, and a slightly more expensive pair in dark brown. I bought THREE pairs of shoes for the same price or less than I would've paid for one pair at my usual local store. Granted I prefer to support local businesses, but my last experience wasn't that great and it was still difficult to find a style in their limited inventory that I like. Plus, it's not like I can afford to drop $100 bucks on one pair of shoes.

I love the Internet!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I wish some people out there in the blogosphere could give me an honest opinion of Oklahoma Professional Search. I have received positive personal feedback on one of their consultants, but I can't seem to find much -- other than an obscure comment on a two-year-old blog post -- that can really help me determine if the company is legitimately helpful and worth it.

I know I will find out more in the next meeting, and I know I'm pretty good at playing the devil's advocate. So I guess we'll see how it goes by just asking specific questions. But it would be great if I unknowingly had a massive readership that could provide me with some helpful feedback ASAP.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Many times I have wondered how someone like myself ended up in public relations. Specifically, I'm not too fond of mixing, mingling and forcing conversations with complete strangers. For this reason, I was looking forward to attending a conference out of state -- because I would feel no great need to network since I have no plans to move to Texas and if I did, I know enough other people in the state who would be able to give me the career boost I would need.

Of course, my plan to keep a low profile was shot before I even attended the first session. While I was focused on trying to solve a long-distance issue for my husband and my good friend Penny was concentrating on business, a friendly guy stopped to make conversation. Needless to say, we were not very social.

A half hour later we walked into a packed meeting room. While I was trying to locate two seats, Penny uttered something along the lines of *oh, crap.* Silly me, I thought she was referring to the lack of seating...until I noticed who was at the front of the room preparing to give the main address -- the expert we had traveled nearly four hours to hear. This speaker, Peter Shankman, was the same guy we had dissed earlier.

To make matters worse, where do you think the only open seats were? If you said the front row, you were correct. He was an awesome speaker, and I regret not taking a little more time to chat earlier that morning. But in my defense, my husband had a very important meeting that could have a huge impact on his career, and he needed my assistance in securing some much-needed documents. So I did not have time to speak to a man who unfortunately reminded me of a previous supervisor. Also, he looked NOTHING like his picture in the conference materials.

He led a breakout session that afternoon and was just as interesting. Of course, we still ended up in the front row, so we probably looked like stalkers. Believe me -- the queen of the low profile -- the front row is not a place this backseat Baptist usually sits.

I would have loved to have spent the entire day focusing on social media and his experience. However, I'll take what I got. And if I'm not blogging more often, you can blame it on my growing interest in Facebook and Twitter...oh yeah, and having four kids.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I've never done the math (I leave that kind of thing to D), but I would assume that making homemade pizza would be cheaper than ordering it. However, if I only eat a couple of slices of a chain's pizza but I eat 8-9 slices of my own, would it be better to spend more money so I eat less? If I didn't like my own pizza so much, I'd probably go the easy route and order it. Then again, to have pizza delivered, I would easily spend $30+.

As usual, I started out quite well with planning each week's menu. But, as I knew would happen, any menu item got thrown out once I hit my second busy week of the season. Also, when I'm not home, I don't bother to come up with something. I was gone a couple of nights last week, and I'll be gone a couple of nights soon. At least we haven't been dining out as much...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not overly emotional. My own husband has jokingly accused me of having a cold heart many times over the past 14 years. But this story brought tears to my eyes. Maybe you have to be a true fan of basketball or at least remember suiting up in high school to appreciate this kind of sportsmanship and to even get choked up over it. It saddens me to think of a teenager losing his mother, who is only a couple of years older than me, but I'm encouraged to know there are still coaches and players in this world who remember that the world doesn't begin and end on the hardcourt. And high school, especially sports, is just a sliver of the memories you will make in life. However, as the coach said, the memory those players and spectators will last so much longer.

Monday, February 16, 2009

What is up with Facebook? I know this is not a new Internet site, but suddenly people I haven't spoken to in years are finding me -- and I them -- and articles are popping up everywhere about this phenomenom. I'm even going to a PR conference later this month that includes a breakout session on these social media tools so I can better understand them.

Since I actually have fond memories of my childhood, it's been great catching up with the people I used to spend the majority of my days with. It's also nice to keep up with those I've met throughout my professional career. So if I don't post blogs frequently, it's because I'm feeding my addiction to Facebook.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Do you need to brush up on your US geography? Just try this. It's not enough to know the general location of a state with the help of outlines of all the states. You have to figure out where random states belong on a totally blank outline of the country. My best is 90%, but I'm sure I'll keep trying.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I had a very confusing experience this evening while treating my kids to dinner and ice cream at Braum's. While D was teaching class, I decided to take the kids to dinner. And since they behaved relatively well, I told them I would also get them junior ice cream cones. Here's where it got tricky.

My order was fairly simple, but I was having trouble communicating...mainly because Jeremy wanted a waffle cone. That detail threw me off and was actually the cause of the confusion. Before ordering, I asked if junior cones could be served in waffle cones. The young man said yes. OK then give me one chocolate junior cone in a waffle cone and one in a sugar cone.

He hands me the *waffle cone* which looked mysteriously like a sugar cone to me. When I clarified the type of cone, this employee tried to tell me that it was a waffle cone. When I said it sure looked like a sugar cone, he pointed to the cake cones and described them as sugar cones. Obviously, his employee training was sorely lacking. While I finished ordering without actually calling the cones by the incorrect names -- I just pointed. I couldn't encourage his ignorance -- I discreetly looked over the wall behind me so I could see the boxes of cones that are sold in the grocery section.

Sure enough the smaller pointed cones were labeled Sugar Cones while the larger pointed cones were called Waffle Cones. Hopefully, someone will set this poor boy straight at some point because he made ordering ice cream cones WAY too difficult.

And now I have a headache.

P.S. Spencer has recovered very nicely from his ordeal. By that evening, just as the doctor suspected, that little boy was climbing on everything, including the kitchen counters.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

At 2:38 p.m. today I breathed a sigh of relief. The first phase of the project that consumes the first half of my year was finally finished. Of course, that moment of peace did not last long because I had to finish our newsletter today since I would not be available tomorrow. But everything is now complete and quiet...at least for two weeks until phase two begins.

And see this cute little boy? He will be having outpatient surgery very early in the morning. It's a *minor* procedure, but the only thing I'm worried about is the anesthesia. I'm hoping and praying for the best possible experience.

And in other news, the Facebook addiction continues...

Saturday, January 31, 2009

I am addicted to Facebook. Someone asks me to be his/her friend on Facebook, and then one thing leads to another and I've lost a couple of hours of my life. I'm afraid to even get started with Twitter. The problem is I really don't know how to fully use these tools.

These social media tools have suddenly fascinated me, and I haven't been this excited about learning something that could greatly contribute to my work in a very long time. I am so interested in these tools that I'm willing to fork over my own money to attend a PR conference next month if my employer does not have the funds. Money is tight everywhere -- especially at a nonprofit.

Anyway, I'm going to shut the computer down now before I think of someone else I want to look up on Facebook.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Have I mentioned I really like our school administration? The powers that be deemed that the conditions were safe enough to go back to school tomorrow. So to reflect on the past two days of no school, here is a series of shots my neighbor took of Jeremy as he *snowboarded* down the driveway -- while two older guys who weren't as talented watched enviously.

That's the closest he'll get to snowboarding this year. But I guarantee you if we go skiing next year, he will try to convince me that he doesn't need lessons because he's an expert.
We have a great neighborhood where kids of all ages will hang out together...some of the time. Today's activities take me back to my childhood when kids on my block ranging from 5 to 15 years old would gather sleds or some other sledding device to make the most of a day without school. The kids were fine today - day one of school cancellations. I'm not sure about day two. Let's just hope there isn't a day three or the local news' naming of this cold blast as Ice Storm: State of Emergency will no longer describe the layers of ice on every surface but the situation in my home.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Even with four children rotating a virus, I still managed to make a Snickers cheesecake AND peach cobbler as well as mop the kitchen and make ham, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and crescent rolls. I also managed to provide a few gifts for D's family birthday dinner. Tomorrow is the actual birthday, so I'll present him with the major gifts then. Of course, he's working, eating lunch with co-workers and teaching a college algebra class that evening. I'm not sure when I'll see him because I'm not a morning person no matter how special the day is so I don't plan on getting up any earlier than I have to.

Of course, all my accomplishments today were due to the fact that I have great parents (I'm giving Dad some credit here, but it's really because of my awesome mom). They kindly took in the four kids not knowing which one was going to start running the fever next, but I equipped them with a variety of meds, directions and a new thermometer. Mom provided new DVDs, so the kids spent Saturday evening enjoying movies.

D and I met up with another couple and enjoyed steak, ice cream, limited shopping and great conversation. It is so relaxing just hanging out with friends without the pressure of returning home to relieve a babysitter. Thank you, brother, for purchasing the house nearby for the folks!

Anyway, due to the fever that will not end, I had to cancel a playdate with a friend whose son is month younger than Spencer. I'm very disappointed because I was looking forward to catching up with her. Hopefully, we can find some time in our schedules to meet up again.

Of course, a major ice storm is *supposed* to hit in the next couple of days, so I may not be going anywhere -- I just hope school isn't cancelled.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I should go to bed soon, but someone kept referring to The West Wing. So I've pulled out my sets of the series and am working my way through Season 1. The problem is since I have all the episodes, it's hard to come to a stopping point. Unfortunately, I have a slightly addictive personality, so I'm not very good at resisting temptation. So while I watch TWW, I'll probably be playing Diner Dash on my wonderful iPhone.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Here is the proof...(that would be Woodstock in the fireplace)

that this sweet, angelic boy...

is not as innocent...

as he may seem.

My only daughter is very sensitive and sentimental. She got very upset with me once when I through away her collection of used popsicle sticks. She also seems to have inherited my insomnia. Each night she is told it is time to turn out the lights and go to sleep, but she consistenly complains for at least an hour that she can't sleep. Of course, I don't think she stays still for more than a few minutes.

There are several things that keep her from getting her beauty sleep -- her baby brother who shares the room, a good book or her own thoughts. One night a few weeks ago she came to me in tears saying she missed Grandma Great, Don's grandmother who passed away in September. I took the time to comfort her before I sent her back to bed.

Tonight she came into my room looking very upset. I expected her to say that she missed Grandma Great or maybe even my cat Scout who died six years ago. No, it was much worse...she missed the blue car. That would be my '89 Honda that was killed in February 2006. How do you comfort a ten year old when she's crying over a car that didn't even belong to her?!?

Her attachment to that car and sadness over its demise actually eased my pain during that trying time. For anyone who may not know or does not remember the story, a pregnant teenager -- who didn't speak English, didn't have insurance and didn't own the car -- ran a red light and plowed into the car while D was driving with Jack in the backseat. D was transported to a nearby hospital because of back pain while Jack got to enjoy lunch with the friends I was scheduled to meet that day. Later when noticed Jack had a bump on his head and decided to take him to the pediatrician just in case.

It was during that doctor visit that I received some devastating news -- my car was totaled. This was the first car that I had chosen and paid for. I bought it my senior year of college and drove it for 13 years. For our anniversary the previous year, D had the car tinted and installed a new stereo and keyless entry. It was a great car! Even my father decided foreign cars may be OK.

To get back to the point of this post, we took the kids with us to the salvage yard to remove our personal effects. It was during this visit that Anna collapsed in tears. She was so hysterical that the salvage yard employee thought she had been in the accident and was having flashbacks. No, we said, she's just very attached to the car.

She's got a lot of love to give.

Monday, January 12, 2009

D and I are taking at least part of Suze Orman's challenge for 2009. So for today we will not spend any money. For the week, we will not charge anything. And for the month, we will not go out to eat.

However, we have made some exceptions. Any previously scheduled dining out meetings and work-related lunches are allowed. We are also allowed to use restaurant gift cards. And since D's 40th birthday is later this month, any birthday-related spending is exempt.

My strategy for today is to go nowhere so I won't have any reasons or temptations to spend money. I have used the notes option on my wonderful, practically free iPone to plan the menu for this week using items we already have on hand.

The greatest challenge will be not dining out as a family for the entire month. It is so easy to use lack of time or energy as an excuse to pick up something for dinner. Hopefully, if I can get into the habit of planning ahead on meals, fast food or any other dining out option will not be such a temptation.

I downloaded Orman's Action Plan for 2009 from Oprah's website, but I haven't read much of it. The thing about finance books is that they rarely offer any new insight. We know what we need to do. We just need to be more self-disciplined and follow through.

Here's to our Action Plan for January 2009!

UPDATE: Jeremy brought home the snack box. Usually I would try to plan ahead for this occasion, but he hasn't brought home a snack calendar for January so I had forgotten about this possibility.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Weekend Roundup

The weekend kicked off with a Girl Scouts parent meeting to discuss the annual cookie sale. Strangely enough, this is the activity Anna loves the most. Maybe someday she will be a successful entrepreneur and be able to give back a little to her parents. Anyway, I made some new friends since I don't hang around with that group. I usually drop off Anna for the meetings and take off for another activity or enjoy a peaceful hour.

Saturday evening, my oldest son chose to watch Grease and asked me to watch it with him. During the various kissing scenes, my two-year-old son would say "ewww."

I watched P.s. I Love You last night alone which was a good thing and bad thing. It was good I was alone because the bad thing is I cried pretty much through the entire movie and I wouldn't have been as free with my tears if others (my husband) were present. The movie was OK, but it was not a good choice since in the past three months a friend my age lost her husband and my oldest friend lost her battle with leukemia. I've gotten way more emotional with age, so it doesn't take as much to make me cry. But the entire story line hit too close to home.

This afternoon I dozed through Anna's viewing of Sound of Music. I am proud to say I am instilling a love for musicals and old movies in my children. Anna and I still need to find time to watch Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I may also sit them down for To Kill a Mockingbird. If/when we have a snow/ice day this winter, maybe we'll have a movie marathon made up of movies produced before 1980.

Now I'm off to fold laundry...it may take another week before I have time to post.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Another year is coming to a close and I wonder if I will ever feel like staying up to celebrate the new year again? Gone are the days of hanging out with friends until midnight or quietly greeting the new year with D and a glass of sparkling cider. The only reason I'm up now is that I began thawing some sausage earlier to make a breakfast casserole for New Year's Day.

Since it's almost midnight, it would be appropriate to post a litte 2008 wrap up. In only the last few weeks, Anna has seemed to grow so much! Earlier this year, she was a little third grader, and now with a new hairstyle and the lessons that fourth grade provide, she is acting more like a teenager than I would like.

Jeremy has made so much progress in the second grade. I am very proud of him and how hard he has worked. Sometimes he can be such a challenge with his need for details and specific communication, but when he and I spend some one-on-one time, he is a fun kid.

Jack has been so much fun. I can't imagine what he's going to be like in the next few years. He can be so sweet -- You know what, mommy? I love you. He comes up with that at the best times and sometimes the strangest moments. I find myself focusing on his gap-toothed smile. Since he's been missing one front tooth since he was two, I'm not sure I'll recognize him with a complete smile. For awhile I've been noticing how observant he is, so I'm interested to see what the next few years of school will bring.

Spencer, my baby. I'm not sure what to say about him. He is devious and ornery, and has the sweetest smile that it's hard not to smile even if you should be scolding him. He's a camera hog and begin smiling and saying "cheese" as soon as he sees a camera. He's an escape artist who will keep me on my toes for several more years. I'm getting even more tired just thinking about it. He is my last baby, and I know our family wouldn't be complete without him.

As for D and I, it has been a long, fun, busy and hard year. We have suffered career and health challenges as well as the loss of friends who were taken much too soon. And while we hold onto the fact that God can see the big picture, it's hard to understand why they are gone when they are so needed here. We will just continue to feel so blessed because while we've had our challenges, we still have jobs, my health has rebounded somewhat and our family is healthy.

According to my clock, it is now 2009. I've never made resolutions, and I'm not planning to now. It is simply a good time to regroup and refocus on the goals we have already set.

Happy New Year!