December 31, 2009

Whew, it's been a while!

The last month off has been great! I finally piled up enough vacation time at work to take time off without trying to make up the hours. In November, I also cut back my hours at my part time job. I knew my life was really unbalanced, but didn't realize how much I disliked it being that way.

I have missed my blog though and it's time to get back to writing, starting tomorrow.

November 22, 2009

I had no idea....

This is the part where I share embarrassing stories!

At work a while back, a couple of 20-something boys came back from a night on the town (they always travel in packs). As they rounded the corner near the front desk I overheard one say, "Dude, check out the MILF at the desk." I went through every possible slang I could think of, because I knew I had heard it before, and couldn't remember what it meant. I finally resorted to googling MILF. And let me just say I am conflicted.

The thing is that I am old enough to be their mom (hence the term MILF) and I have step-children older than them. And as much as I'd like to say that's just weird, if the two guys that came into the hotel were Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, it would certainly put a different spin on things.

At least they didn't call me a cougar....

November 17, 2009

At least I didn't flush my keys....

Today I picked my oldest up for an appointment with an oral surgeon to put a bracket put on a tooth. We stopped at the mall for lunch on the way to the office, and I realized on the way back out to the van that, for the third time in a month, I locked my keys in the van - which is a whole other story.

Fortunately my stepson was not too far away on a errand, and agreed to run by and get us - except he had his pickup not his car and could only take one of us at a time. When I called the office, they agreed to do the procedure even though we would be 40 minutes late.

Once the procedure started I made a stop in the bathroom, which I probably should have done hours before while I was still at work but I forgot (which every mother will relate to). As I flushed, I realized that the water wan't flushing. One thing everyone who lives in Wisconsin knows is that most "flushable" products, ARE NOT FLUSHABLE! The person in the bathroom before me was obviously from Illinois or something, because that's exactly why the water rising to the top of the bowl.

So I am late to the appointment, have to make two trips to get us both there, and now I am flooding their bathroom. Way to make an impression I know.... Desperate, I did a quick sweep of the bathroom - soap dispenser, garbage can, toilet brush.... toilet brush! I am saved!

The rest of the afternoon was much less eventful....

November 16, 2009

A new conference record....

Tonight at parent-teacher conferences we had what was probably the shortest conference in the history of education - except maybe for the parents who don't show up at all.

We did the 10 seconds of obligatory introductions, and sat down. I looked down at her report card and said, "Good grades, good comments - unless you've got something, I'm all set." He paused for a moment, kind of thoughtful, then stood, stretched out his hand, smiled and said, "Nope, that about covers it. Have a nice night then."

November 7, 2009


Poor Favre....

Is it any wonder Brett Favre can't seem to figure out what he wants to do? It's from living with the weather in Wisconsin for so long. Last month the kids wore winter coats and mittens to homecoming and today my youngest played outside in a t-shirt. It's not Favre's fault - it's the environment....

November 2, 2009

Changing of the seasons

November 1st. It's probably safe to assume that the rummage sale I was planning is not going to happen anytime soon - which is really sad because I had it all set up and just couldn't find a weekend when I was at home long enough to hold it.

I have to say it was really tempting to just leave the rummage sale set up over winter, so come spring I could fling open the garage door, and be ready to go. Fortunately for me, my family and friends all shopped when they stopped over, and there's not much left to worry about - which left plenty of room for... the snow gear!

October 18, 2009

Back in the nest

Well, the first flight into the adult world was a success. My oldest returned from her trip to D.C. with photos, souvenirs, stories, new friends from across the country, and so much to consider about what she wants to do with her future. That was the hardest thing I have done in a really long time – and probably the best.

October 15, 2009

Shopping anyone?

Every parent has done it. You’re shopping at the mall looking through sale racks with your preschooler by your side. You look down and she’s gone. The practical side of your brain is telling you that she’s probably hiding in the clothing racks. But there’s no convincing the protective parent part of your brain that goes into full panic mode, scanning the store for every possible abductor, calculating the number of possible exits against the amount of time since you last saw her.

I can’t shake that feeling. I’ll be happy when she is back home.

October 13, 2009

Sick Irony…

I left the airport after sending my daughter off into the great unknown, and stopped to pick up a paper on the way home, thinking the crossword puzzle would take my mind off it. The feature story was about the plane that landed the plane in the Hudson river a while back. Are you kidding me?

October 12, 2009

Like the first day of school... kind of… not really…. Ok. Not at all.

Tomorrow morning I am putting my oldest daughter on a plane to D.C. alone to attend a conference for a week. I wrote all her important numbers on an index card to keep in her wallet. Would pinning it to her shirt be overkill?

October 4, 2009

At least I feed them

We have all seen that baby who couldn't keep going any longer and fell asleep face down in her food on the high chair tray. I give you the 14 year old version.

I went up to her room to make sure she had enough to eat and say good night, and found her sleeping with her dinner plate on the bed next to her (and yes, that's a steak knife inches from her head).

Weekly Cards

Two years ago I started a project called "the weekly card". Each week I decorated an index card using paint, paper, stickers, and found items to create a piece of work that represented the week for me - kind of an journal entry without the words. I really missed doing them, and decided to start again with the start of the school year. I'm gonna try to do them again. We'll see.

October 3, 2009

Excuse me, you have toilet paper on your....

Glad it's the neighbor's house not mine.

September 16, 2009

I'm not addicted to my toys - I'm not!

So, I'm way up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin for work. I had great plans to get caught up and work on some photo projects for my family while I was here. Instead, I wound up at a hotel without cell reception and WIFI. When I set my cell on the bed by my feet I had service, in my hand on the right side none. The WIFI in the meeting room would be strong for 20 minutes then cut out, and the help line was no help.

Need an idea for a quiet place to get away from it all? Call me - if I can get service I'll share....

September 13, 2009

And the day begins....

I would never be awake to see this if I didn't work nights....

September 11, 2009

In honor of today...

This morning my kids and I were talking about how remembering September 11 is so much different now that we've been there and seen these places. I thought in honor of today, I'd take you on a little sightseeing tour of some of the memorials we saw on our visit to NYC last month.

Eleven Tears: This memorial is beautiful, peaceful, and so simplistic, but no element of symbolism was overlooked. It's located across the street from the WTC in the American Express lobby at the World Financial Center. It is an eleven-sided pool with the names and descriptions of the eleven American Express employees who died on September 11 etched into the granite. In the middle is a huge, eleven-sided quartz suspended by eleven cables. Water drips down the cables and lands in the pool, making a ripple that extends out. Here is a complete description of the Eleven Tears memorial.

St. Paul's Chapel: This tiny little church across the street from the WTC has history dating back to George Washington, and became the rehab center during rescue efforts. Most of the pews were damaged by the firefighting equipment, and the decision was made to remove all but two. Now, chairs face a podium in the center of the church in a circle. Surrounding the chairs are exhibits documenting the events following September 11 from the church's perpective. The thing that makes this special is that it tells the story of how St Paul's Chapel provided and served the community during this time.

FDNY Memorial Wall: As a firefighting family this was especially powerful. Ten House sits literally across the street from the WTC site. A memorial wall on the side of the building recognizes the 343 firefighters killed on September 11. Even all these years later, people still leave momentos at the wall. It's amazing that the firehouse was even standing after the attack, and even more amazing the work these guys did that day.

WTC Site: If you follow the skywalks, you can walk completely around the WTC site. In this giant construction site, the WTC Plaza is beginning to emerge. The new 1 World Trade Center, called Freedom Tower has risen above street level. The tower will be 1776 feet tall when completed, and become America's tallest building. Work has also started to construct the two waterfalls that will be set in the exact footprint of the original towers as the main feature of the National Memorial and Museum.

Staten Island Memorial: We wandered upon this by accident. We took the ferry to Staten Island after dinner, planned to relax by the water, and then take the ferry back at night. We sat a few hunderd feet from the Memorial for more than an hour, and even commented on what an interesting piece of artwork it was, before we made it down the shoreline and found out it was a memorial. Two large "wings" are made up of each person's profile with names and photos in some of them. When you stand looking toward Manhattan, the wings perfectly frame the WTC site.

There are so many more memorials around the site and throughout the City. The Sphere from the original plaza was recovered and now stands in Battery Park. The Ground Zero Cross, a piece of steel in the shape of a cross that was recovered from the site, sits outside St. Peter's Church.

Seeing these things first hand makes the enormity of the events more clear, and in some ways more frightening - it's closer, more personal. These places also represent our ability to recover, rebuild, and remember the things that are important in life.

September 3, 2009

That's right...cover the guilt with shoes

My sister sent me this today, and I thought I would post it here, because I feel much less like a bad parent when I know that she is doing the very same thing that I would have done....

Well worth every penny…

In the last few days, my youngest son has been missing his older sisters who now both attend school all day. He is reminded that he is without playmates every time I slow down the momentum. I was reading a label at the grocery store when he piped in, “I miss the girls.” In the car when the music ended he said, “Can we go pick up the girls?” When we sent the girls off in the morning he stood at the end of the driveway asking, “When can I go to school?” He truly misses them.

So, with all the back to school commmercials over the past few weeks, my son has seen the “Sketcher” shoes commercial several times. When he asks for them my answer is always the same, “Your birthday is coming. We’ll see.” As parents, I would like to think that we don’t over-indulge our children. We do not partake in the back to school shopping spree. We often stay away from the backpacks and clothing with licensed characters on them. We don’t run out to purchase the latest toys and trends “as seen on TV”.

In my attempt to distract my son from his loneliness (and my feeling of being “chopped liver”) we have been doing a lot of bumming at the mall and the parks. Now, if you were to see a pair of policeman light up sketchers, where might you see them?

I caved after the third encounter with a three year old boy wearing “policeman light up shoes” on the swing next to us. Thirty-six dollars (yes, I did) and three stores later, my son was gleefully dancing around in his new “Sketchers”. He keeps them in the box and tucks them in at naptime with great care. Now, when momentum slows down, his shoes light up and save the day. So worth the $36.00!

September 1, 2009

I knew one of them would give me a good story....

As my oldest was getting ready this morning she announced, "I hate my schedule. I'm going early to change it." Why she could not do this two weeks before school started, when she got her schedule, I have no idea.

So I dropped her off at school an hour early with her "sucky" schedule, her locker shelves (again, you have two weeks to do this and wait till the morning that school starts), and a lock that she did not have the combination for. How's that for parenting....

Just get on the bus....

This morning all the children here are back to school.

Some parents must capture every last memory before their innocent baby goes out into the big world. As I was leaving the subdivision, I watched as one mom climb onto the school bus with her little one to take a picture, and took three more of the bus pulling away (I think she might have even chased it just a few steps before she realized and stopped). I also know some parents who spend the day celebrating "mom freedom day" with a few cocktails.

Me? I'll report on my kids later - I'm sure there's a bloggable story in there somewhere....

What about you? Happy to see 'em go? Can't let 'em go? Or somewhere in between....

August 30, 2009

How moms get stuff done

My teacher-husband, unlike the rest of the world, has off all summer. The first week of June we put together a list of the things that really needed to get done over the break. Today when I pulled in the driveway the giant tree branch that was on "the list" scraped along the windshield again, and I couldn't take it anymore.

I know the reasons he will give for not doing it - we don't have a chainsaw, or a ladder tall enough, the neighbor said he would help but wasn't home this week, and we should really wait until the right time in the growing season - yada yada yada.

Yeah, no. I have done everything on "the list" this summer - like painting the upstairs, cleaning the carpets, and building shelving in my daughter's closet. Did I mention he was off work all summer? My first thought was to just leave it, switch so his car is on that side of the garage and let him stand out there in November sawing away with frozen hands while I waved from the window with a hot cup of coffee. I just don't have the patience to play games.

Instead, armed with a handsaw from the toolbox downstairs, I pulled the van (the mom ladder - also useful for getting little rubber balls out of the rain gutter) onto the grass right next to the tree, and started working. An hour later, I can walk to the mailbox without ducking under the tree.

You want stuff done, ask a pissed off mom.

August 29, 2009

How predictable....

My kids went for school physicals a few weeks back, and after being measured my oldest stepped off the scale and asked, "Am I still five-foot-eight'?"

It just reminded me how it is to be a teenager - from day to day, nothing - not even your height - is a given.

August 24, 2009

The future of education....

If my husband's new school "spirit wear" is any indication of the state of our educational system, we are in serious trouble. Today at the in-service they handed out t-shirts that represent the new school philosophy of being not just a teacher - but a hero - to kids. The teachers all have to wear them tomorrow to the district meeting.

Saving and changing lives? Right after we feed them all breakfast and buy them pencils. The concept is great, but maybe a little reality check is in order. Especially since today, before school even started, a teacher's car was broken into and the GPS unit stolen right from the school parking lot!

My husband says, "Better a hero than a baby-sitter, at least."

August 23, 2009

New math

  • 2 parents
  • 6 children
  • 12 grand-children
  • 24 great grand children
  • 1 family reunion

August 22, 2009

You don't know what you don't know....

I thought I knew some parenting things - then I went to a workshop on drugs. Thank God I have good kids because there's a whole crap load of stuff hidden right in front of us. All of these t-shirts are a reference to pot, and I probably passed kids wearing them in the hallways.

Kids are mixing cough syrup and alcohol cocktails that go by names like: green lizard, purple monster, sweaty Italian, and orange crush (never would have caught that).
Powerful drug substances can be made from morning glory, saliva, nutmeg, and coffee. Yeah, coffee - boiled down, mixed with ammonia. It's some scary shit.

Get educated:

August 12, 2009

Time to get back to work (almost) ...

Last week we took the very first family vacation ever that did not include visiting relatives for a funeral, wedding, or reunion in a state that touches ours (that's this weekend).

We spent a week in New York City visiting museums when it was raining, wandering Time Square when it wasn't, and eating pizza and Jamba Juice. I don't usually post pictures of my kids, but this is one of my favorites from the trip - my three daughters on the ferry leaving Ellis Island.

July 22, 2009

How to work at the humane society....

If you want to work at the humane society you have to know how to answer basic questions about dogs:

"Will he shed?"
"No, not more than any other dog."

"He won't be a big dog, will he?"
"He should only grow to about 30-40 pounds."

"Will he always chew like this?"
"That's just a puppy thing."

"Wow, he's really slobbery."
He's just teething. He'll outgrow that."

"That's quite a bark."
"He's just excited because he's with you."

July 18, 2009

Driving me crazy....

Well, my oldest passed her driver's test this week. For those of you who have yet to reach this milestone, I can only compare it to the first time she went to a sleepover party when I didn't know the classmate's parents.

I debated a lot about whether I would let her drive right away or not, and had still not reached a decision when she got home that day. I decided that making her wait would only add to the anticipation and the pressure to do well her first time out.

So, she drove to herself to her basketball games the same night she passed her test. She remembered to text me when she got there, and I didn't even remind her to. She is a good driver and a safe driver - I've ridden with her - I've taught her. I guess it's really just me that isn't ready.

July 16, 2009

You don't have to toot....

After my ride into work today, I thought I might provide a brief lesson on the use of car horns and cyclists. I am a safe and defensive rider, who has logged thousands of miles, and it still startles me when a driver beeps at me. My first reaction is always, “What danger am I missing?” (the words are usually more like WTF but the thought is still about avoiding the possible hazard).

I have put together a few quick tips for using your horn while sharing the road with cyclists:

1. Do not beep to let us know you are there. I am riding in the street for God’s sake! I expect there to be cars around me. And pedestrians, and city buses, and people on the cell phone who open their car doors to let their toddler climb out of the car right in front of me. I know you are there.

2. Do not beep to encourage us. Although I appreciate the thought, I won’t acknowledge you anyway, because as soon as I turn around to say thanks I will be sucked up by a pothole the size of the Grand Canyon. If you really want to encourage me, just hold your Starbucks out the window for me to grab on the way by.

3. Do not beep because we are in your way. Because I am not in your way. I am supposed to be riding on the road (not on the sidewalk). There is only so far to the right I can ride – have you looked at the side of the road? On a normal day I'm navigating broken glass, fender parts, and road kill - and that's in the bike lane.

And, if you make me really angry you leave me no choice but to ride even s-l-o-w-e-r. So if you are feeling a little horny as you pass the next cyclist, do what you need to do - but please don't beep at us....

July 11, 2009


I went to use the bathroom at a the hotel where I was attending a conference and this is what I found. So do they have a little stack of the pre-folded fans on their cleaning cart? Or do they fold one each time? And if they fold it each time, where in the bathroom do they do that - on the sink? On the floor? On their leg? I'm still not sure if I am impressed that they care about the details or annoyed that someone feels the housekeepers actually have nothing better to do than fold toilet paper fans. I wound up using a different stall so I wouldn't ruin all their work.

July 10, 2009

Put those back!

Our dog was out in the yard and dug up a bunny nest that was hidden under our pine tree. We stopped him before he injured any (he grew up with guinea pigs and hamsters - I think he was rescuing them). I would have been perfectly willing to keep five baby bunnies (in your dreams) but every source said to put them back.

While we were debating what to do with them, the momma bunny came back looking for them. We did our best to replace the nest around them, and I arranged some long grass over top so I'd know if the momma had been there. The momma will only come back at dusk and dawn to avoid drawing attention to the nest. And the grass was only slightly moved, so I doubt any predators ate them.

I am just gonna stay in my happy place believing that they are the ones I see hopping around the yard....

July 6, 2009

I feel so helpless....

My computer has been down for the past two weeks and it has been horrible! Every time I wrote a check I worried that an automatic payment cleared while I couldn't check my balance. I sent back a Netflix movie and didn't know which one was coming next. I had to scroll through pages of Face book status updates to find out what everyone is doing. Event schedules, the weather, the headlines - all gone.

My brother in law hooked me up with a temporary computer, and now I have internet and all my applications again while he fixes my other one (I love you BIL).

June 17, 2009

How NOT to train your employees.

I just got back from a required training on how to provide excellent customer service. The training was scheduled from 9am-1pm. At 1:15 we were only half way through the outline, so I motioned the instructor over and asked, "How much longer do you think we will go?" He said, "Oh, we should be out by 2:30 or 3:00."

Someone who keeps me 2 hours over the scheduled time clearly doesn't respect my time, doesn't really know what he is teaching, and isn't gonna share anything about customer service that I don't already know. Maybe I just have a bad attitude.

June 14, 2009

5 Tips for Hosting a Safe Teen Party

Last night we had a houseful of teenagers, 27 of them to be exact. My middle daughter wanted to have an 8th grade graduation party (and since her July birthday parties are generally less spectacular because everyone's on vacation, we said sure).

We have hosted several big teen parties over the years, and I'd like to think we have gotten pretty good at them. So how do you survive a teen party? Five steps:

1. Deny all responsibility. I put Party Girl in charge of the bash from the get-go. The kids are responsible for planning the activities, food, decorations - and clean-up before and after. The flip side of that is that they are also responsible for the actions of the people they choose to invite.

2. Do your thing and go home. A free-for-all is a recipe for trouble - so is pin the tail on the donkey. Have activities planned, but not too much. Last night Party Girl planned an hour and a half at the park, where they could organize games of basketball and volleyball, or sit and talk. Then they came back to the house to watch a movie and eat.

3. Go big or go home. I don't mean spend lots of money, I mean do it right. Yes, we used the sports equipment laying around the garage, and provided the regular concession stand variety of junk food. But, my brother in law loaned us his DVD/projector set-up so the kids could watch the movie on the whole garage wall - a far cry from piling in the basement in front of the 30-incher, that's for sure.

4. Enlist help. No one wants parents hanging around, so we sent the group to the park, 2 blocks away, unsupervised - sort of. I escorted one late-comer to the park and got a good look at what was going on. I put my neighbor who lives behind the park on alert for any trouble, and my brother in law stopped on his way into the subdivision to make sure he "connected with Party Girl about the video set up". Add in the pesky, tag-along siblings, and they had a spy-by every 20 minutes or so.

5. Earn a reputation. I overheard Party Girl telling a friend, "if anyone brings stuff to the party my mom won't call their parents, she'll just call the cops." Zero tolerance, and I mean it - and they all know it. The kids who want to avoid drugs and alcohol know our stance - and the kids we know use are clearly absent from our events.

In the end, it's about combining teen recklessness and the adult "rules" for one awesome evening.

June 13, 2009

Today is the last day....

...of school. Finally. 

The end of the school year is always such a frenzy for us, that we never really started any traditions for the last day of school. Here's one from Having Fun at Home that I wish I had thought of when my kids were little.

Any ideas for next year? Maybe if I start planning now.... (everyone who knows me is stifling a giggle, because they all know how last-minute I am - go ahead and laugh - I have a whole year to work on this).

June 12, 2009

Who knew she was so observant?

My middle daughter and I were running an errand today and she pointed out this sign as we passed:

"Las Fajitas"
"Mexican Restaurant"

(insert 13 year old's sarcastic tone) "Really? Las Fajitas is Mexican? I never would have guessed."

June 11, 2009

Hang on, I'm coming....

My daughter and I were on the way to pick up pizzas for dinner (because I am too cheap to pay the delivery charge and tip) when she got a text from one of her best friends, Erin, whose boyfriend just broke up with her.

"Mom, I have to go over there. She could barely talk, she's so upset."

So I went in for the pizzas, and we headed for Erin's house. As we pulled into the driveway I asked my daughter when I should plan to pick her up. "I'll call you. Probably tomorrow. Erin needs me." With that she grabbed a pizza from the stack, ran up the front steps, went inside without knocking, and was in Erin's room before I even left the driveway.

There are some things that are the same no matter how old you are. Like best friends who will drop everything and bring you their pizza when you really, really need it. 

June 9, 2009

What a nut....

My co-worker's five year old daughter Annie started a new summer day camp today. About 10am the day care called in a panic, because Annie had eaten almost half a peanut better granola bar before she told them she was allergic to nuts. My co-worker's laughter really threw them off - until she said, "Annie's not allergic to nuts." Turns out she just thought it would be fun. Kids - gotta love 'em!

June 4, 2009

Enough! Enough! Enough!

The kids are done with school next week Friday. Exams are next week. The teachers can stop assigning homework any time now. If they haven't learned it by now, it isn't gonna happen. Wrap it up already!

June 3, 2009

I knew I shouldn't have joked about it.

Sick. I spent my whole weekend sick. I had to check my phone to make sure I actually called work, not just imagined it. I have no idea what my kids ate - if they ate. On the plus side, the giant pile of laundry on the bathroom floor is collecting all the dog hair I didn't sweep up....

May 10, 2009

What's not to love?

Dear Two Guys who came in to the hotel after the Brewer's game in your Cub's shirts, drunk off your butts, cause your girlfriends are both at home, then hit on the desk clerk who has step-children older than you, while getting directions to the strip club at ten minutes before bar time. I have to smile because it's my job, but I think I know why you're still single....

May 2, 2009

You knew I'd have to comment on it....

Probably only my family knows what a big time germophobe I am. I would rather fall than touch the escalator railings, and I use the handicap buttons to open doors in public places. I ask for salt and pepper packets instead of using the shakers on the restaurant tables, and the thought of eating at a buffet gives me the heebie jeebies. My kids call me Monk.

And I hate to say it... but this pandemic situation has been great for us hygiene freaks. I realized it last night as the Wal-Mart greeter wiped down the shopping cart handle before pushing it in my direction. Surfaces are wiped down regularly. Hand sanitizer is being provided in public places. There have been lessons about HOW to wash your hands on the news. People who don't cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze are actually shunned.

Now I will get the flu for sure for making light of it, but we're all gonna get it anyway....

April 25, 2009

Spring (please don't) Break (anything)

"Are you guys sure you'll be ok in the room alone while I'm at my conference?"

"Mom, we'll be fine, really. We'll probably just swim or walk over for food or something."

(door closes)

April 13, 2009

Netflix is the best strategy game ever!

I know it is supposed to be a movie rental service: we choose a movie, they send it to us, we watch it, send it back, and they send us the next one on our list (que). That's the movie rental version. That's where the game version begins.

I have compiled some strategy tips for others playing the Netflix game (based on an unlimited, one movie subscription, with the whole family sharing access).

1. Keep your movie at the top of the que. Once you have chosen your movie the enemy will log on and move their movie to the top of the que. You will need to monitor the que closely to be sure your movie is at the top at sending time (kind of like bidding at the buzzer on ebay).

2. Make sure your movies are still in the que. Another easy form of sabotage. The enemy will log on and delete all your movie choices from the que, leaving only theirs.

3. Mail movies back in public mailboxes. If you use your home mailbox, the enemy will take the movie out of the mailbox. This gives them time to reset the que before mailing it back.

4. Keep your movie with you at all times. If you leave it laying around the enemy will mail it back before you can watch it. While you are searching for the lost movie, the next movie on the que is already on its way to your home.

5. Guard your password. The serious enemy will log on and change the que, then change the password. Once the movie is successfully sent they will change the password back, leaving you to think that you were just typing the password incorrectly yesterday.

Maybe it's a good thing we haven't given up our Blockbuster membership....

April 3, 2009

It depends on your definition of cool....

We got to do the coolest thing today! I am in New York (for the first time my life) with my daughter and her school orchestra - so if I want to be truly accurate I have done a lot of cool things today. Right, back to the story.

We were dropped off at Rockefeller Plaza in the pouring rain at 8am after an 18 hour bus ride. After the organized tours we had free time and my group of kids wanted to go to Carnegie Hall. When we arrived our clothes were soaked despite our umbrellas, the raincoats had served as a really effective way to channel water right down our backs, and our shoes were squishing as we walked.

As we opened the door and stepped in we were greeted by "Greg" and directed to the ticket table for tours. "Are there any parts of the Hall we can see without going on the tour?" I asked. His answer was the expected "no" but he offered to sell us tickets to a concert that night. "Thanks," I said, "but we have to meet our group for dinner." He offered two other opportunities for us to return, but I each time we had another event planned.

We either looked really disappointed (or really pathetic) because he said, "Hold on." He talked briefly with another guide and said, "Would you like to watch the rehearsal?"

He escorted us into Carnegie Hall and directed us to seats near the back. We watched more than an hour of a closed rehearsal for the New York Pops Orchestra. At one point I looked over at the four kids with me; one held back tears and the others sat watching every moment.

That was not the highlight though. The highlight was realizing that I was with a group of teenagers who would consider special admission to a rehearsal at Carnegie Hall the highlight of their day.

March 29, 2009

The post-game game....

My family is at a basketball tournament this weekend. We had a little time after games tonight back at the hotel, so we pulled out The Game of Things. One person reads a card and the rest of the players write down an answer. For example, "things you would do if you were a superhero" or "things you shouldn't do on your boss's desk." The answers are collected and read, and you get points for guessing who wrote what.

We played with a group of about 10 people - half teens and half parents. I saw a whole other side of my kids and their friends! They were creative, funny, realistic, and twisted. When one of the adults crossed the line a little with an answer (things you shouldn't do on your desk - yeah we went there), the kids followed it and we all laughed together.

It was a little reminder for me about how much closer my oldest daughter is to being an adult than she is to being a child - and I like who I am seeing.

March 25, 2009

Sometimes I amaze myself...

...or how to be an awesome (but not cool) mom....

I have always made it a practice not to spy on my kids, but I also try really hard not be stupid either. At the start if every school year I make each kid give me her locker number and combination. At first this was not such a popular idea. Strange how they have adjusted.

On occasion I stop by their lockers to drop Halloween candy, extra "lunch" money, or my favorite (because it also requires me to have their schedule to time it right) hot chocolate in honor of the first snowfall.

Today my oldest was home sick. I signed in at the office, walked down the hall, and let myself into her locker. As I grabbed her history book and left Breaking Dawn for her girlfriend, a teacher I hadn't seen following me said admiringly, "Wow, you're good!" I have my moments....

March 23, 2009

It happened again.

I had half an hour to kill on my way home from an appointment today so I stopped at Barnes and Noble to look around. Ten feet inside the door I hit the "New in Paperback" section. I started thumbing through one of the books on the shelf, and suddenly I was 10 minutes late picking my kids up from school.

I have read more books standing in the aisle at the bookstore. I think it's because I am a good skimmer, and I don't mind reading the ending first then going back to fill in the gaps. This time it was Kristin Hannah's "Firefly Lane". Last time it was "Wednesday Letters" by Jason F. Wright. The time before that it was "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. How does this happen to me every time? I think I need help....

March 19, 2009

Recess is for weenies

A lot of schools, my daughter's included, have banned tag and dodge ball at recess. There are restrictions on basketball, tag football, and kickball. They can't hang upside down on the monkey bars or sit on top of them because they might get hurt.

Her taekwondo class this week was "fun week" and they did leapfrog, log jumping over each other, and piggy back races. They were crashing to the mats left and right as they tried to get on each others backs and trying to hang on without touching each other. They were falling over each other, off each other, and on top of each other.

And you know what? No one got hurt. And it was funny.

March 14, 2009

Frogs.... who knew?

My youngest daughter is all about messy, dirty, creepy crawly things. Since the start of the school year she has grown increasingly interested in fish and frogs. Was I surprised that she saw the frog habitat kit in her teacher's closet? Not really. Was I surprised that her teacher said she could bring it home to look at? (I owe you big for that one, Mr. F.) Not really.

The kit came with a phone number that you call to have your tadpoles shipped once the habitat set up. Except they don't ship to Wisconsin when the temperature is over 80 during the day or under 40 at night - they do realize that leaves only one week in the middle of June, right?

No problem. We'll go to the pet store, spend $5, and have tadpoles to put in our habitat. Yeah, um, no. Pet stores don't sell tadpoles, neither do aquatic stores, or bait shops. Too many people buy them, raise them, then release them into the wild where they damage the ecosystem.

Fortunately for us, there is a science supply store an hour away that another teacher uses frequently, and they ship same day in any weather. When you order, you get 10 tadpoles that will either be African Water frogs or Leopard frogs, but you can't specify which, and they say to allow for about half to croak (ah ha ha) before they mature. Total cost, about $8 a frog. Release them into the wild - are you kidding me? The best part? We got African Water frogs, that can't even use the habitat....

March 7, 2009

See, I'm a not just a slacker as a mom....

I am a slacker mom. I don't deny it. I am the last one to turn in the field trip permission slips, I forget when the girl scout meetings are (did I mention I am the leader) and again, I refer to the Easter Bunny story. At least I am a slacker in other areas of my life or my kids might take it personally. It seems my blog has been the latest hit. Don't worry, I'll get caught up - I always do...

February 17, 2009

Cause basketball is my life....

At the basketball game tonight I overheard one of the parents talking about a dad sitting a few rows down fom him whose daughter graduated last year, "He does know his kids don't go here anymore, right?"

January 30, 2009

Not the workout I planned on....

I was having a great workout on the bike trainer in the basement with my headphones on, when my daughter came down and said, "Mom, there's something wrong with the dog - he's in the bathroom shaking." In the past 24 hours our two dogs had somehow gotten into an entire pan of brownies and 1/2 bag of M&M's, so I was more than a little concerned. I ran upstairs and managed to coax him out of the bathroom to go outside. I encouraged him as he wandered around the side of the house, hoping that any issues would "pass". But as soon as he got to the backyard he was gone like a shot to the neighbor's house to visit.

So there I was, chasing the stupid dog through the yards in my spandex cycling shorts, a sports bra, and winter boots. My poor neighbors.

But wait that's not the best part. As I opened the door to go back in the house, I was blasted with the smell of five years of pizza cheese burning on the bottom of the oven. "Did the smoke detector go off before?" I asked. Of course it did. Only with my headphones in I couldn't know that, and didn't realize until after the chase, that the dog was in the bathroom hiding from the detector.

And do you think one of them could fill me in?

January 27, 2009

Where's your stuff?

I was pulling into the parent drop off line for my youngest, and asked her if she had her coat. She glanced around, shrugged her shoulders, and said, "It must be at school." "Are you sure," I asked. "Yeah, if not, I'll just grab another hoodie from the lost and found." As we pulled around and she stepped out of the car I said, "Where's your backpack?" "Hrmph. Must be at home."

Aside from the obvious fact that my daughter showed up at school without a coat or backpack and we were both ok with that, I was struck by something else - the change from 5 years ago. She was having a meltdown over her missing lunch and the teacher was out of ideas, so she called my older daughter off the playground to help! It took most of the afternoon to calm her down, and she has taken hot lunch most days since. What a difference!

January 25, 2009

Scouting - and not the girl scout kind.

On the phone the other day another parent and I were talking about our schedules, and she said, "You don't mess with basketball - it's a cult." She couldn't know how on the mark her comment was.

My youngest daughter had a game yesterday. A coach from one of the teams known for its active recruiting of talent, approached another dad from our team and gave him a business card for his daughter and mine. A week earlier we were approached by another coach scouting for a select/all-star team for summer. I have a couple of thoughts about all this:
  • First of all, my daughter is good, but not great, and I can say this because I have two older players and know what "great" looks like. She's not there yet.
  • Second, my daughter is in fifth grade. What if she has a growth spurt that leaves her hopelessly clumsy between now and then?
  • Third, it's January. I am just getting back into the schedule for the second half of the regular season - I am not thinking about summer yet.
She will play competitive ball over the summer, for sure. If she doesn't, there are other girls who will, and talent gap widens quickly, even at this age. Today in most sports, if they aren't playing competitive leagues by the end of grade school, high school is a long shot. When I was a kid, we were lucky to have enough girls for a team. On the positive side, it will be good for her to play with kids that love the game like she does and have skill levels that can challenge hers. But scouting in fifth grade? Seriously?

January 17, 2009

I hired a driver!

I have always said when I make it rich, the first person I’ll hire is not a cook or cleaning person, but a driver. I have a lot of pet peeves related to driving (yeah, that's a surprise, isn't it), so I won’t list them here, but as a result, driving is just not much fun for me.

So for the unbelievable cost of a $415 (the fee for driver’s ed these days) I have hired a driver. I have her for the next five months, until she turns 16 and can legally drive alone. As we pulled into the school lot yesterday, she looked at me relaxing in the passenger seat and said, “You’re never gonna let me take my driver’s test are you?”

Not until the next kid turns 15-1/2....

January 10, 2009

It's a curse I tell you....

I am planner challenged. I can't seem to find the right fit.

If I was just responsible for me I could pick up any one of the free monthly pocket calendars that are handed out this time of year. I like monthly calendars, because I can see before we get to the "day of" that we have basketball, a fundraiser, and a girl scout meeting on the same night. But as the social director and transportation manager for four other people, those itty bitty boxes just don't do it.

So I switched to a weekly format. I tried 1 page per week, 2 pages per week and even tried making my own pages. But there is no room in a weekly for for other things like bills that are due, fitness goals, or grocery lists. Part of my obsessive organizing is list-making - that, or it's a highly developed strategy to compensate for my absolute lack of memory. Either way I cannot survive without lists and need to keep them with me, preferably safety pinned to my jacket. Last year I thought I had the right planner - I bought a Moleskine with the weekly calendar on the left and a blank page on the right. It was great for keeping schedules and lists in one place but still too small for our lives.

Now, add the one other complication that I am an aesthetics person. It matters to me what the paper feels like, how see through it is, how big the lines are, and what color the cover is. I like spiral bound so I can fold it over, and it has to be durable enough to take with me everywhere (that memory thing again). I am open to suggestions....

January 4, 2009

Back to school - boo.

Most parents are doing the happy dance right about now because in less than 24 hours the kids are back to school. I'm not one of them. I like having my kids at home. We stay up late, sleep in, eat donuts, watch movies, read, and have friends over - luxuries that don't happen during the school year as often as I'd like. So sadly, tonight I will set out breakfast, backpacks, and lunches, and get ready to send them off to school. I wonder if Starbucks will soften the blow?