Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Soooo, what do you think? But umm don't say anything if you don't like it because I like it. That and I'm still sick, so I'm feeling a little overly sensitive since my brain isn't working yet. I don't know if I could take crushing criticism today. Although I'd like to avoid it any day.

Anyway, see, isn't it pretty? Lex at Indelible Creations made it for me. And the best part is that she's still speaking to me. See, I'm one of those people who doesn't know exactly what she does want but know exactly what she doesn't want. This is why it took me a year and a half to find my house. Granted, I'm very happy with it, but it's a long process because I know what fits in my head.

Anyway, I told Lex that I wanted something purple and elegant picturing something very regal, but that's actually not at all what I wanted. Throughout the whole process, Lex was incredibly patient with me (and if you haven't noticed, you need patience to deal with me) and offered suggestions.

Plus, apparently I'm in the Stone Age (newsflash, I know). My browser doesn't support the latest and greatest so many blogs look funny on my screen when they have cool things like the rounded corners I wanted so badly. But Lex persevered and kept at it until she got it absolutely one hundred percent right. I'm really impressed that she figured it out so my blog isn't all greyed out or off-center like many others I read are.

Lex is probably tired of the phrase "tie it all together" as she knows it's going to come out of my mouth at least once in any conversation, yet she never made fun of me. And she was super responsive and flexible. Letting me work on my schedule rather than rushing to finish me so she could move onto the next project was also really helpful, as I have this nasty habit of working and doing things that keeps me from my computer. This has actually been ready for about a week, but it took me this long to get my act together.

I hope you like my new home as much as I do!

PS She also designs jewelry that's gorgeous and reasonably priced. Check her out over at The Life & Crimes Of A Mom.

Monday, September 29, 2008

This Is What Happens When I Get Sick

Yeah, I get lazy and creativity goes right out just like the snot dripping from my nose. Sorry, that was a bit too much of a picture, wasn't it? I'm off to go wallow in my sinus infection and pray that when I wake up it's gone. In the meantime, have fun with the below.

Some of my favorite recurring posts to read are the ones showing how people found various sites. Stat Counter is a great tool. It not only tells me how many people visited my site (100 did for the first time ever yesterday, and I'm still beaming) and where they came from, but also how they got here. Some of the searches make perfect sense based on posts I've put up, but some just crack me up. Or confuse me. Or both.

My all time personal favorite though was "goddess." How that knew to go straight to my blog, I'll never know. But I'll take it!

Other recent favorites:

i found love never even crossed my mind
Apparently, the old adage is true that you'll find love when you're least expecting it. But I didn't think that my blog would be the conduit. Or maybe I'm interpreting that search incorrectly. Maybe that person doesn't love whoever loves them. But unfortunately, I don't see how my blog fits in there.

should i stay with a man i don't truly love but is good to me?
Oooo, now this is a potential post all on its own. I know several people, including some close friends who have settled. They really wanted to be married and some to have a family and so married someone that they know isn't a soulmate but is "good enough." I always felt bad for both parties in that arrangement.

When you're in love with someone, you want that person to be in love with you and not in the relationship because they feel you're suitable. I actually broke up with someone a couple years out of college who worshipped the ground I walked on but who I knew wasn't right for me. He was crushed, but I honestly believe it was the right thing for both of us. I want any relationship I'm in to be equitable. I just hope whoever searched for this finds happiness.

I promise, the rest will be less maudlin!

i truly hate my life sometimes
Now really. How do you get to my blog from this one? Have I really been that painful to read? Do I sound like I hate my life? I'm guessing that maybe this is the other person in the relationship who can't decide whether to stay or go.

redecorating the attic
Interesting concept. Of course, considering that I've never decorated an attic to begin with (unless you count the mouse droppings from the invaders we had last fall), I'm not sure that I can help this person.

my throat only whisper
Mine doesn't. Mine frequently gets much louder than that. I'm usually pretty good about not yelling at the wee ones, but I suppose it does happen. Although my sinus infections have been known to grow into laryngitis....

ladys lost underpants
While I do frequently lose things. And apparently sometimes I find them, that doesn't mean that if you've lost your underwear you're going to find it on my blog. I do really wonder what the purpose of this person's search was. Did they think that there might be a site where people find underwear, then post about it so you can claim it later? Freaky thought, really.

repair jeans rivet
I think this is one of my favorite searches. It proves to me that I'm not the only person cheap enough to not just toss a pair of jeans because the rivet broke. Of course, most people probably don't try to use Gorrilla Glue to fix them.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

High Fashion

In summer, I tend to wear the same shoes repeatedly. They're comfy, so I can wear them while chasing the wee ones everywhere and not have to worry about blisters. Plus, they aren't the most expensive shoes, so if I happen to get a little water or whatever else on them, no big deal.

In fact, the majority of the time, I wear these shoes:
Or these:

Or these:

And sometimes these:

Raise your hand if you see a trend developing. Yeah, me, too.

By the end of the summer, my feet look like this:

Yes, thanks I like the pretty purple polish, too, but that's not what I was referring to. Look again. There, see the nice farmer tan stripe going across the top of my foot? It's attractive, isn't it?

Fortunately, that's not generally a problem as the weather cools off and I'm back to fully covering my foot kinds of shoes. Except when I have times when I need to dress up. Oh yeah. Like the charity event my husband and I went to on Friday night. Fancy and farmer tan don't really belong in the same sentence, do they?

Luckily, I found shoes that help. Check them out! They're sort of cute, aren't they? And they're super comfortable, although I know I won't win any awards from critics. They work for me, and that's what matters.

Check out the magic! Ta-da! My farmer tan appears to be gone thanks to the magic placement of those straps.

I actually have another pair of silver shoes that have some great strap placement for this problem that I can wear with other dresses. Either way, it's yet more proof that there's always an answer to a fashion dilemma.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cook Book Thank You

Wow. That's really all I have to say. Oh yeah, and thank you! Do you remember the cook book where I was asking for recipes? We had not nearly enough at the time, and it was looking a bit dire. Want to know what happened? I got a ton of recipes. So did everyone else who asked for them. In total, we have more than 976 recipes in the cook book. In fact, there were so many that some of them couldn't even be input (those don't count toward the 976 total). You guys are fantastic.

Even though we have 976 recipes, we're keeping the price of the cookbook the same at $20, which is a great price for any cook book. I took some sneak peeks at recipes while inputting them, and there are some really great ones out there. Several people asked me if you'd be able to purchase a cook book when they're published.

The short answer is yes.

However, there isn't an official shipping process. But I did some thinking about it, and here's what I can do. The books are being sold via a presale with delivery (here) on November 21, still plenty of time before the holidays. If you are interested in buying a book, I've calculated the approximate price of shipping (based on a similar cookbook). You can send me a check for the $20 book plus $3 for parcel post or $9.80 for Priority Mail shipping, and I'll order the book with the presale orders that I'm placing for myself and then mail it out myself.

However. All the book orders need to be received by the woman coordinating this on Monday October 6. That's one week from Monday. Like really soon. So if you're interested, you need to email me ASAP so I can get you my address so you can mail me you check so it arrives by the 4th so I can get it to the coordinator by the 6th. Capice?

So let me get on with it here. A huge thank you goes to:

Angela at Hello, Dahrlin' gave access to all her recipes, and I selected a couple that looked particularly good (like her Salmon with Peas in Butter Broth!).

Edbteach submitted a divine-sounding Key Lime Cake.

Jules over at Just Because offered up her Chocolate Chip Banana Bread. And I'm totally bummed because I just found out that her blog is invite only which I didn't realize because I'm using the reader thing now and don't visit each invidivual site. But I promise that banana bread is yummy!

Janet makes a mean Brownie Cobbler with Homemade Whipped Cream. Plus Ranch Chicken. And a Vidalia Onion Casserole. And an easy Cherry Cobbler. And Cheesy Potatoes. Yeah, she's an overachiever!

Holly gave us a Carrot and Toasted Cumin Soup, some Black Bean Salad, and Polenta Bruschetta.

Jackee at Runs With Scissors contributed two yummy hot wings appetizer recipes for us.

Debbie at My Noggin Bloggins (I LOVE that name) gave us a yummy Cocoa Pie.

Susie over at Susie's Homemade offers up anything on her site but particularly recommended her Grilled Strawberry Shortcake.

Eleanor provided the an Apple-Sesame Cake.

Melissa is after Little Miss's heart with her Macaroni and Cheese.

Cass from Chop. Stir. Mix. offered up any of her recipes, and there were lots of good ones to choose from. I feel horrible, but I forget which ones I chose. I had some really late nights typing these in!

Carrie at Barely Controlled Chaos submittd a Hummingbird Cake.

Jules from The House of Jules created the most yummy sounding Guinness Cake that I soooo need to make.

Emily contributed a recipe for Spicy Chicken Enchiladas.

Greedy Grace gave us her Sour Cream Chicken recipe.

Stacie offered up a Mexican Casserole.

AngiDe from Nana's Box makes Pani Popo for her three year old.

Swati via hello, net baby! provided Matar Ghugni.

Stacy from Salmon and Milk offered up anything on her website, and I know I grabbed a couple of her Friday recipes. Shame on me, I can't recall which (I blame it on another late night). Sorry!

Maureen sent me a Red Chicken recipe that is super easy to make and sounds great.

Annette sent me the Lazy Man's (or Busy Women's) Spicy Chicken Corn Chowder, and I love corn chowders!

Jamy sent me a recipe for Taco Soup, Parmesan Crusted Chicken, Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies, No-Bake Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie, Mexican Chocolate Cake, Chicken and Broccoli, Baked Quesadillas, Easy Chicken Pot Pie, Vegetable Dip, Fruit Dip, Fast Fried Rice Bowl, Club Quesadillas, Spaghetti Pie, Parmesan Zucchini Sticks, and Mastacciohi with Spinach and Feta. I want to head over to her house for dinner!

IF I missed anyone, I apologize. I tried really hard to keep good notes, but I know I'm not perfect. Also, with so many recipes, I know a few recipes were weeded out where there were duplicates. I haven't seen the final version so I can't guarantee that every one of these recipes is in there, so my apologies if your recipe was left out. It's nothing against you or the recipe, but we had a massive outpouring the last two days of the collection period that everyone was overwhelmed!

And for those of you who missed it before... there is a new foundation in my area supporting the families of children with special needs ages 3-21. This cook book is the first fundraiser they've done, so this is the base that they'll use to get their programs off the ground. Totally worthwhile cause, plus it's a rockin' cook book!

And once again, thank you to EVERYone who contributed recipes or asked how they could help. It means a lot!

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Sandwich Bandit

We have a new issue at work. In fact, when I discovered this my mouth hung open wide enough to let all the flies congregating at the local horse barn to fly in and set up residence.

Someone in my workplace has been stealing sandwiches.

At first, it was thought that this was a practical joke (and in poor taste) on one particular fellow, as he would go to the kitchen to get his lunch from the fridge and discover a bite taken from one half of the sandwich.

But we've since discovered that this is happening to others, as well. Someone has the gall to steal other people's lunches. And not only that, they taste test them first. If the bandit likes the sandwich, half the sandwich will disappear entirely. And if the bandit doesn't agree with your culinary selection, he will take a single bite and then return the sandwich half to the Ziploc bag and the Ziploc bag to the lunch bag.

Seriously, who does something like this?

I am quite disturbed on a number of levels.

First of all, we can have no food at our desks (more on the issues behind this in another post), so we can't protect our lunches by keeping them with us.

Second, someone thinks it's OK to steal from coworkers. And not that I really understand, but I sort of understand the attraction to stealing purses and the like, but stealing people's food? What on earth has to go through someone's mind to think it's OK to steal food? That's somehow even more personal than a purse.

Third, who tries out the sandwich and puts it back if they don't like it? The sandwich is ruined anyway -- at least it is for me. There's no way I'd be able to eat any of my lunch knowing that some unknown person has been pawing through it. But to put it back? Dude, if you don't like it, just toss it. Seriously.

Lucky for me, I pack leftovers that aren't easily stolen. I bring in my extra chicken briyani or homemade chicken noodle soup or lasagne or whatever I've eaten the night before. It's not really in the Sandwich Bandit's wheelhouse. Unless they're using a spoon to try it and then not taking the rest of it. Now I'm grossed out.

Next time I go in, I'm putting on my Sherlock Holmes hat and staking out the kitchen area.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I've Got Issues

Before I forget... I have a Pay It Forward going on. Enter it here. Now back to your regularly scheduled post.


If I could take the day off work tomorrow, I'd so get organized and caught up on the things I like. I tread water pretty well and get the daily stuff done that I need to, but the things that I'd like to do just don't always get done, and a day off work would really help me. I'll give you an example.

I was reading the paper yesterday, and when I got to the sports (yes, I read the sports and I save that for the end because it's the best part of the paper) I read about football and hockey and some high school sports.

What were those high school sports? Baseball, of course, with some track and field thrown in. And the football? Talking about the upcoming draft. Hockey? Talking about who was going to make the playoffs.

Yeah. It was a paper from April. Like I said, I've got issues.

We get a daily paper, and in my mind, if we pay for the paper (and the extra $0.40 per week to have it delivered), I'm darn well going to read it. Eventually.

Every day, my goal is to get through reading the paper. I start with the neighbor section, then read the business section, then whatever "special" section that day has be it Lifestyle and Entertainment or Health or Food, then the front page, and then sports. Same order every day. But some days I get busy or caught up in something or am tired, and I don't finish it.

Whatever sections I don't finish go on my nightstand. And for awhile there, I was only sometimes even getting to the beginning of the front page. My stack grew and grew. It got pretty sad, actually. My husband urged me to throw them away, but I couldn't throw them away without reading them first!

For the last two months, I've been concentrating on getting the day's paper finished and then trying to read at least a section or two of the unread, older paper. And I did. The trips to Vegas and Minnesota and St. Louis helped me whittle the stack down some, fortunately.

Reading the paper backwards (because I had to read the newest old paper first just because) was actually really interesting. Some stories stay in the news for awhile, and as I would read older and older stories about the same item, it was fascinating to see how information changed and sources changed their slants on the item. Kind of like an archaeological dig in a weird way (OK, maybe just in my head).

But yesterday? I read that last paper. I'm officially caught up. And right now, I have only the sports section to finish off. So what does that mean?

Now I need a day off to read the magazines that I've been ignoring for the last oh year or so. Actually, I may need more than one day off work for this one. I subscribe to no magazines right now. But yet, I still get them. When I started to think about how many magazines I get, it started to make me giggle. Let's walk through them, shall we?

1) My alumni magazine comes quarterly.
2) The alumni magazine for the school I went to within Northwestern comes quarterly, as well.
3) My health club sends me a (I think) monthly magazine. I actually discovered this on the plane to St Louis -- and there's more to that story yet to come.
4) The consulting company I used to work for sends me a quarterly very dense (but interesting) business journal they put out.
5) I made the mistake of subscribing to Parents for four years when Mister Man was one. That's still arriving every month.
6) A friend bought me a subscription to Cooks Illustrated two years ago for Christmas, and I still have a few of those issues that I haven't read (LOVE that magazine, by the way, hint hint).
7) My SIL bought me a subscription to Southern Living for Christmas last year. I'll say no more on that one, either.
8) I did a four year subscription to Cooking Pleasures awhile ago. I used to really like that magazine but I've grown weary of that one. I think Cooks Illustrated killed the joy for me.
9) Costco sends me a monthly magazine.
10) Our Realtors send me a home and design magazine that arrives monthly, as well. Not that I rip out pictures from it of beautiful bathrooms or kitchens or anything....

I was going to post a picture of the stack of magazines I have to read. It's over two feet high. But then I decided it was too embarrassing. And I refuse to officially measure it. Do you think my work would give me a sabbatical so I can catch up on those magazines? Maybe that one day off wouldn't quite do it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

PIF Redux!

Soooo. I'm a bad person. For a couple reasons. Actually probably for lots of reasos, but we'll only get into two of them today.

Remember the Pay It Forward thing that Swistle started back in June? Yeah, me, too. Shelly won my prize for the contest I had in early August. She was moving to a new place and mail delivery was a bit sketchy at the place she was living in before moving, so we decided I'd hold onto it until she moved August 21. It would be like a housewarming present for her!

I mailed it yesterday. That's 33 days after I was supposed to, for those of me who are counting. And I did it only because she oh so politely asked if it had gotten lost in the mail. No, it got lost on the kid table and just sort of faded into the background. I saw it but didn't see it anymore. But it's finally in the mail (sorry, Shelly!).

And about a week ago, I received a prize that I had won from Joanne at Bebellyboo. I did take the appropriate photos but I forgot to upload them. Until she emailed me asking if I'd received my prize. Umm, yeah. Can I blame it on an unusually bad work month and back to school and in general being a moron? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Anyway, I did receive this beautiful package (see my lovely offwhite suede couch in the background? Ha! What was I thinking?)

She was so sweet. She even wrote me a little note. And do you see how nicely she packed it? Bubble wrap! That's Little Miss' favorite toy. All afternoon, I heard pop pop pop pop pop as she walked around with it.

Inside was a lovely treat for me. See all the super yummy smelling lotions and bath gels? I haven't used them yet because I have to do my appropriate thank you prior to partaking. Kind of like how I don't let the wee ones play with birthday presents until the thank you note is written. Guess what I'm doing after choir practice tonight (oh yeah, did I mention that I joined the church choir last week?).

And there are cool activities for the wee ones, too. I've never done origami before, but I've always been fascinated by it. I love that there are rules and order to it -- big shock -- but that it's also so creative! We're way into animals around here, so I'll be breaking this out tomorrow after work. Here's hoping I succeed at it!

I love this prize. It's completely unique yet totally (I've used that word a lot today, haven't I?) up my alley. Yay, Bellyboo!

So do you all remember what this means? It's another contest where you have the chance to win. The final prize has yet to be determined, but I think I've done pretty good here and here. I can almost guarantee the prize will involve books that are preread as I'm trying to get more bookshelf space for the wee ones but we have no more room to put bookshelves in the house. Only one solution, right? And I have a really cool Dora cup that I'll toss in. Beyond that, I have to do some thinking, but I promise it will be a good one.

So what do you have to do to win this fabulous array of prizes?

1) Comment below by next Tuesday September 30 at 12pm CST.

2) In your comment, give me your best suggestions for how to enjoy Disney in a day or what reservations I should try to get for umm less than a month from now. Or just perk me up and tell me that I didn't totallly (there it is again!) screw myself over by not making reservations before now.

3) One entry per person. If there are multiple comments from the same person, I'll only count the first one. If I comment on your comments, that doesn't count, and I skip over that entry.

4) I will use random.org to choose a number. Whoever has that comment gets the prize. I'll send an email and post the winner. If I don't hear back from the winner by Thursday, I will select a new winner.

5) If you win, you are obligated to hold a PIF contest yourself. Thus, the pay it forward portion! Because this involves holding a contest after winning, to win you must have a blog. And be in the US. Shipping gets expensive even here.

Good luck! Oh, and remind me to tell you about the Sandwich Bandit. I'm a bit creeped out.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Things I Don't Buy

As with umm some people, I have idiosyncrasies. For example, there are certain large ticket items that I just don't (or put off) buying. Witness the 11 year old car that didn't like summer that I finally replaced. Or the fact that until my husband forced me to buy a tv for the family room when we moved, I had never (and I truly mean never) bought a tv. Ever.

In fact, the only vacuum I've ever had used to be my Gram's. She very generously gave me her (my mom said) $500 vacuum. And really, it was a good vacuum. It even told me how dirty the floor was, so I was able to continue going over the floor until it showed the pretty green.

Wait, you recognize this vacuum? And you remember it having a different kind of attachment, too? The kind that made it a standup push vacuum? Yeah, me, too. It used to have this part. That was the part with the pretty red and green lights.

About four years ago, something on the vacuum broke (a belt maybe?). My husband took it to Sears to be fixed. Three weeks and $170 later, the vacuum was as good as new. Mostly. Another year, another $170 later, and it was again fixed.

Last fall, the standup part stopped working. It just wouldn't get power anymore. We debated sending it to Sears yet again to be "fixed" but ultimately decided that it wasn't worth the time and money. Again. My mom rallied against this plan, reminding me how good of a vacuum it was and how expensive. Well, now with three repairs I could have bought a brand new Dyson or other functional vacuum with all sorts of new-fangled technology. I assume.

When I was doing some Christmas shopping last year, I happened across this pretty little number.

See, it's purple! And I believe it cost $15.

I now understand why this thing cost $15. It quite simply doesn't suck. I didn't realize it at first, as my house magically doesn't get that dirty. Eventually, the truth dawned on me that it simply moves dirt around in the air and never goes into the holder container. Apparently you get what you pay for in vacuums.

So while I debate actually buying a new vacuum, we've been using the attachment portion of the old vacuum. It might be faster to just pick up each individual piece of dirt, but yet I procrastinate.

Then I see that Mama's Losin' It is giving away a beautiful vacuum. Is it providence that I haven't bought a new vacuum yet? Or is this just the final nudge that I need to get my rear end into a Costco and find a new vacuum?

You do need to go check out her vacuum though. It's a gorgeous Hoover that apparently really sucks -- in the right way -- and moves by itself. Vacuuming could become a less than three hour activity with something like that! Can you imagine?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Who's On First?

This year has become a bit more complicated with the wee one's schedules. But hey, I'm the one who was so busy in college I had color coded markers to help me remember where I was supposed to be when in my calendar. And it worked!

MWTh - I work. Mondays I go to the office, and generally I work from home on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

M-F - Little Miss goes to preschool on the bus in the mornings.

M-F - Mister Man goes to preschool on the bus in the afternoons.

MW - Little Miss goes to daycare after preschool, and the bus drops her off there.

MWTh - Mister Man goes to the "kingergarten" program at daycare in the morning and gets on the bus from there.

Last week, Little Miss was sick all week and we kept her home. My mom was a huge help and did babysitting for me when I was working, which made life so much easier.

So someone please explain to me why I was sitting on the front porch on Thursday at 12:15 while my mom was on a walk with Little Miss (she was feeling a bit better then) waiting for Mister Man's bus.

Seriously. I even called my mom to ask where she was and why she was still walking and not home waiting for Mister Man's bus. Oh. Yeah. I'd dropped him off at daycare at 9am, and the bus was coming to daycare around 12:30 or so to take him to preschool. No bus.

And I wonder why I have them signed up only for swim lessons on Saturday mornings and no other extra curricular activities at the moment.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Why I Read The Paper

We get the local daily paper, and my goal every day is to finish off the sections I read (in order -- I'm anal and I'm OK with that). Today's paper particularly entertained me, although it also had me a little concerned about the world.

Case 1: Blagojevich on Rezko

"...maybe they didn't even know they crossed those lines."
Four paragraphs later.

"Nothing I ever did ever crossed the line."
Soooo if people may not know they crossed the line, how does he know he never crossed the line? What a conundrum. I won't express my personal opinion of him and his actions.

Case 2: Anti-abortion on Planned Parenthood

More than 50 anti-abortion leaders from across the country have joined up to plot the demise of Planned Parenthood clinics across the nation....
My high school journalism teacher would never have let this go. Nice slanted language; I wonder how the author feels about abortion.

... Scheidler (League spokesman) said the group will also work harder to educate the black community about other options available to them.
I'm totally cool with this. Options are good. Education is good. People shouldn't feel trapped into making a decision because it's the most convenient or what others tell them is OK or that they should do. This is a good initiative.

(Next paragraph) "African-Americans have far more abortions than any other group," he said.
Really? No stats to back that up, but I can see that being true. I'll go with you here.

"But that's because Planned Parenthood targets them so much more than the rest of the population."
Uhhh, what? Please, describe how this is the case. Apparently Planned Parenthood is also racist, which is news to me. Of course the only two Planned Parenthood clinics I know of are a) on the Gold Coast of Chicago which is a pretty well to do area -- I rented an apartment across the street from where they opened up the Planned Parenthood clinic. Walking to work right after the clinic opened and having to wade through protesters was fun, let me tell you! and b) in Aurora which is again a pretty white and middle class/upper middle class area from what I know of it -- and from what I've read, the protests there were pretty horrific, too. And the most recent plans I've read about for Planned Parenthood has them talking about opening up clinics in malls because that's where they can attract those with health insurance who don't want to report it (not that I think this is necessarily a good idea, mind you). Please explain to me how this is targeting the African-American community. And where this inflammatory rhetoric got its start.

Case 3: Dumb Lawyer

A northern Illinois attorney has been suspended for accepting nude dances as partial payment for a client's legal fees. ... The commission said that Erwin and the woman, who'd worked as an exotic dancer, mutually agreed that she'd perform nude dances for him in his office to reduce her legal fees. The report said the DeKalb attorney credited her for $534.
Seriously? A lawyer thought this was a good idea? Or appropriate? My husband's comment is that it must be like (and please excuse me, as I've never watched Seinfeld) when George had sex with his secretary on his desk at work and pleaded ignorance saying he'd never have done it if only someone had told him it wasn't allowed. And just a random question, how did he figure out that the bartered reduction would be $534? Not being an expert in exotic dancing, I'd sort of assume that the dances would be in round figures.

Case 4: A historic house in Plano flooded last weekend

"It's very definitely our worst nightmare, but it could have been a lot worse without a doubt," said Justin Lyons of Landmarks Illinois, the Chicago-based advocacy group that manages the house for the owner....
Your very worst nightmare but it could have been a lot worse? Please explain that one for me. Either your imagination needs some improvement or your command of the English language does. I'm placing my bets on the latter.

And the entertainment continues. The good news is that today's paper only had two stories that cut off in the middle of the sentence at the "end" of the story. And you wonder why the printed newspaper is going the way of buggy whip makers. And yet, we haven't canceled our paper. Yet.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I'm Done

We all have our various email accounts that we use for various purposes. I have a work email account (that bans personal email). I have an email that I share with friends that is strictly for personal and PTO correspondence. Then I have an email that's where I get a few subscriptions and some things from friends. Lastly, I have my email for all the junk and the subscriptions I don't trust -- yes, which is what I use for blogging, among other things.

Each of the emails has its own limitations. My second personal email I rarely use anymore at all for the pure idiocy of whoever programmed it (Netscape FYI) makes it such that if I try to click on an email before the page has fully loaded, Explorer freezes. I've learned to read that email in a background window and take. my. time. It's a complete pain though, and I'm transitioning away from it.

The worst though, is my Excite account. It used to work fine. Then some moron had the bright idea that it needed an upgrade. Let me tell you about the upgrade:

1) It has about a gazillion loading screens now so it's almost impossible to backtrack to a website you were at prior to checking your Excite email (granted, I've figured out the workaround that I go to another site then work my way backwards, and the gazillion loading screens are gone. Go fig).
2) It now gets stuck at 3% loaded a lot.
3) It takes forEVER to load the inbox. Or my sent mail. Or my junk mail.
4) Junk mail frequently isn't junk mail.
5) There's not a good way to delete spam without actually opening it. I've again discovered a workaround -- hit the control key while clicking on it, but how intuitive is that?
6) The mail delivery is delayed by hours. I get email to this account up to 14 hours after it's been sent. And it doesn't arrive in order, which drives me batty.
7) When you hit delete, it asks if you really want to delete it. When you click "yes" it takes forEVER to delete the email and sometimes deletes the wrong one, necessitating a 5 minute trip into the trash bin to restore the email.
8) If you press the up or down arrows - natural as you're reading an email to see more of the screen - it instead moves to the previous or next email.
9) Did I mention that it's slow as s^%#@?
10) Every time you send an email, it gives you a stupid message asking if you want to save the email address. Every. Time.
11) When you hit send, it doesn't take. You hit it again and it doesn't take. You hit it again and mayyyyyybe it sends.
12) It puts the thread of the email into an attachment which makes it difficult to reference a previous email.
13) When you click to read an email, it doesn't naturally open a new window or give you a full screen. You can only read about 6 lines of text at a time, which is incredibly irritating.

Needless to say, it annoys the cr#^& out of me. I finally hit the boiling point when trying to read six emails and responding to two of them. It took me 45 minutes, and I only got through three of the emails and could reply to one.

I hopped on over to Gmail and opened up a handy dandy account there. And now it's time to migrate everything there and abandon the morons who decided to "upgrade" Excite without asking anyone's opinion or providing an option of staying with the system that worked. They actually sent out an email describing HOW the email system that works about a month and a half after the upgrade. Because email isn't supposed to be intuitive or function in their minds, apparently.

I really hope no one got promoted over this boneheaded move. But I'm moving on and taking my email with me. SO if you ever send me email, let this be the formal notice that my email address has changed.

Oh, and please, please, PLEASE don't ever put yourselves through the torture of using an Excite email account. I feel so much better after getting this out.

Friday, September 19, 2008

You Know What I Mean!

In our family, we tend to encourage questions. And when we answer them, we don't dumb them down. While we don't try to get too detailed and over their heads, we want to answer their questions honestly and factually.

At dinner tonight, Mister Man told us he knows all the shapes.

Mister Man: There's squares, and circles, and triangles, and parallelagrams, and rhombuses and rectangles and cubes and --
Daddy: Actually, cubes aren't shapes, they're polyhedrons since they're three dimensional. Shapes are things that we can draw on paper while polyhedrons are things that have length and height and depth.
Mister Man: Oh. So what's another thing a circle can make?
Me: Well, a sphere is one.
Mister Man: What does a sphere look like?
Me: Well, a sphere is a three dimensional circle. A cylinder is another kind of solid circle.

Daddy then ran into the garage and came back (keep in mind, we're in the middle of eating dinner, Angela's yummy Garlic Lime Chicken) with a can of diced tomatoes and a basketball to demonstrate the two kinds of circular solids.

After running through the differences and how they're alike but different and which one is a cylinder and which is a sphere, I thought Mister Man got it.

Me: You're right. You can tell that the can is a cylinder because from the side it looks like a rectangle, but the top makes a circle.
Mister Man: Well yeah, but so does the bottom.
Me: Very true. You're one smart cookie.
Mister Man: No, I'm not.
Me: What are you then?
Mister Man (quite indignant): I'm a kid! No one is a cookie!

Yeah. I'm in trouble. He's already thinking outside the box and beyond what he's told. I can't wait for the day he truly outsmarts me. And figures out that he's outsmarted me.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I'm Not Overcompensating

I sort of fell down with Little Miss's birthday in that I didn't think about it until about a week before her actual birthday. It was summer, and time just got away from me.

My husband is no help. When he was growing up, he never had birthdays celebrated at all. Well, I shouldn't say that, but he never had a birthday party. As in completely, totally nothing. His mom made him a birthday cake only a few times. He doesn't get the birthday thing, so I'm on my own.

For Mister Man, I figured out quite awhile ago what I was going to do. The trick was trying to find a time to do it. His birthday is in October. Looking back, I really didn't plan that out too well. I didn't get married in fall because, hello!, that's football season. Silly me, I didn't ensure that I wouldn't have a child in fall.

Birthday parties generally happen on weekends and usually on Saturdays. So let's run through my calendar this fall. Sept 13? NU football game. Sept 20? NU football game. Sept 27? Ok, actually I could do that day but it's so early in the school year and two weeks before his birthday. Nah. Oct 4? Husband's family reunion. Oct 11 (his actual birthday)? NU game. Oct 18? NU. Oct 25? In Florida. Nov 1? Ok, I could maybe do that although we get back from Florida on Oct 30 and Halloween is the next day and wow that would be tight. Nov 8? NU. Nov 15? Friend's wedding in Seattle. Nov 22? NU game. Nov 29? CARE Faire that I volunteer at and the Sat of Thanksgiving weekend. Dec 6? Ok, that's getting ridiculous.

So apparently the birthday is November 1. Was it this hard when we were growing up?

I remember my mom always throwing great parties for me. They were always at home (except for the one year I talked her into having it at Cheapskate -- the local roller rink), and we always had a ton of fun.

I think my favorite was when I turned 8 and had my first big sleepover. I got to invite seven other girls, and we all had our sleeping bags. Nowaways, we probably would (ok, at least in my area) have someone come in to do hair extensions and nails and makeup, but we did it all ourselves.

We had pizza for dinner, then we started on the requisite fun. Do you remember light as a feather stiff as a board? I don't think it worked for any of us, but we were 8, so what did we know? Then we spent hours making the prediction triangle things and asking questions of it. I actually even partly remember how to make the folded paper thing-a-ma-bob, but I can only get about five steps in. Someday I'll have to go back and relearn how to be an 8 year old girl.

From what I remember, we stayed up until past six in the morning. My poor mom was probably sitting on the steps the whole night watching over us and worried about us. Nonetheless, she had a lovely breakfast of pancakes waiting for us around 9 or so in a vain attempt to rouse us. Parents picked up all my friends by 10 or so, and I slept the rest of the day away.

When I think back on it, all my memories of birthday parties are the things that I did with my friends. It isn't the presents I got (or didn't get), and it isn't the glitz and glamour that I cared about -- nor did I have it. I can only hope that the wee ones have as happy a memories of their birthdays as I do.

And yes, I'll be the mom sitting on the steps in the middle of the night listening to the whispering and giggling and hearing my heart break as I realize that Mister Man and Little Miss are no longer wee ones.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

When You Have Too Much Time On Your Hands

I mentioned this spring that I was somehow finagled into doing the PTO presidency for Mister Man's (and now Little Miss's) preschool. Yeah, between working three days a week and the two wee ones and everything else, it just slides right in.

One of the responsibilities of the president is actually a fun one. We have a presidents' council of all the PTO presidents in our district (yes, that makes 18 of us with the co-presidents and superintendent and other board reps). The council meets every first and third Wednesday of the month for lunch and to discuss what's going on in the various schools and the issues.

Today was actually our second meeting (and I'm learning what types of food and how much I need to bring when it's my turn), and all I have to say is W.O.W.

The first hour and fifteen minutes were taken up discussing milk in the school cafeterias. In fact, because this was brought up as a fairly contentious issue at the first meeting, one of the school nurses and a local pediatrician who helped to design our wellness policy attended the meeting to educate us.

The basis of the issue is that there is no longer chocolate milk offered as part of the hot lunch.

I'll wait for everyone to put down their pitchforks and torches.

Apparently, the schools used to offer white, strawberry and chocolate milk to students until this year. Unfortunately, no one communicated this, so parents discovered the change when their children came home up in arms about the lack of chocolate milk. Except that apparently at least one of the middle schools still offers strawberry milk and apple juice. Go figure.

Some of the statistics that the pediatrician supplied are really eye-opening. They've taken data from the required physicals for students and compiled information showing that two years ago 26.9% of students are overweight or obese and last year 27.1% were. The national average is 25% for children. This is not a good trend.

According to the pediatrician who spoke, when she sees a child who has had a major weight gain, she reviews a variety of factors and frequently is finding that parents are watching the food and exercise but that beverages are not being paid attention to.

White milk has 11g of sugar per serving. Chocolate milk has 28g. Strawberry milk has even more. And juice, not surprisingly is far worse. The interesting thing that I learned (really, is the above a surprise to anyone?) is that there is something in the cocoa bean -- used for chocolate, duh -- that interferes with the GI tract's ability to absorb calcium and iron. So much of the point of drinking milk is wasted when it's chocolate. That I had never heard before.

The school district strongly feels that it's important to model good nutrition for the one meal a day that they have the children. And that now means no chocolate milk. I do sort of get it. Yeah, kids will want to drink chocolate milk but if the school doesn't offer it and consistently doesn't offer it and gives white milk, eventually the children will learn to drink white milk, right?

OK, unless you're Mister Man who hates white milk. But now I'm reevaluating my adding of Ovaltine to his milk and trying to figure out how to wean him onto white milk (fortunately, I've always used just a bit).

Needless to say, there was only one mom who was in support of the chocolate milk ban.

The other PTO presidents just went off on the poor pediatrician who I'm pretty sure will never address the council again, nor will she accept any of these parents' kids as patients.

* Kids are throwing away the milk
* Kids are drinking apple juice in some places
* The white milk at school tastes funny compared to milk from a jug
* It isn't organic and we have students going through puberty in first grade so milk shouldn't be served at all
* The milk is sitting out and isn't cold enough

We spent an hour and fifteen minutes discussing the chocolate milk uprising. Seriously. An hour and fifteen minutes.

On the plus side, if this is the biggest problem that parents and PTOs have right now, life is pretty good.

On the downside, that meant I had no time to talk to the PTOs about having some of them sponsor classrooms in our building to bring more books into them. The preschool PTO's entire budget is generally about 5-15% of the elementary, middle and high school's individual fundraisers. It's pretty sad, but we're working on it. Lucky for us, they've been generous in the past, including buying six adaptive bikes two years ago.

But hey, the next time you think your life is rough, just remember that in schools in my area, chocolate milk is verboten.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

An Open Letter To The Ladies Of My Office

Dear Ladies,

I really hope that I can call you ladies. I sometimes wonder, but we'll start optimistically. I have just a couple of really small requests, and I sincerely hope that you'll take them under advisement.

We are, after all, professional women who share an office. We know most of the women on our floor by sight if not by name. I hope that we can treat each other with the respect that we all deserve.

When we use the restroom, please note that we have toilet cover seats that the lovely paper company Weyerhauer has made. Two hundred fifty of them, in fact, according to the language on the box. I've yet to walk into a stall and find the dispenser empty. If you really are freaked out by the germs that you'll pick up while sitting on the toilet seat that is cleaned at least once every two hours and used only by other ladies in the office, please consider using one of these toilet seat covers rather than crouching over the toilet and peeing all over the seat and, I'm sure, yourself.

Personally, I find it disgusting to walk into a stall and find the seat covered in random droplets of someone else's urine. I then have to use toilet paper to clean off the toilet seat before I can use it, as it doesn't matter which stall I choose, they all are urine dropped. If we all sit down, either with or without a toilet seat cover, none of us will have to worry about either urine or yucky germs, right?

And please, when you finish using the toilet, I can see when you flush and then walk straight out the bathroom without washing your hands. EWWW! Seriously, just eww! Can't you at least fake it if you really have that much of an issue with washing? Actually, no, I want you to really wash. You're then touching things that I have to touch, from elevator buttons to desks in conference rooms and everything in between. Tell me we don't have to review why this is important.

Plus, you ladies who fake washing your hands by putting them under water for 0.000005 seconds and then dry them off without using any soap, come on. I appreciate that you're at least starting to make an effort, but can we please use soap? Germs, people! I've already got two wee ones sick since the start of the school year, and I can't afford to get sick myself (FYI, that tickle went away; I give full credit to yoga, as it seems to kick out the germs and keep me healthy every time).

I will admit that I am truly impressed by the women who brush their teeth in the bathroom. I will admit that I am just not that dedicated to my oral hygeine. Putting a toothbrush into a work drawer in my desk just absolutely grosses me out more than slightly funky teeth. However, if you do choose to brush your teeth, at least have the courtesy of rinsing out the sink. Just like I don't like to see toothpaste scum at home, it's disrespectful to leave it behind for the rest of us. Especially the few of you who miss the bowl when spitting and instead leave it all over the sink counter.

Oh, and lady on her cell phone while in a bathroom stall (I assume) using the facilities? If I were on the other end of the conversation and could hear the periodic flushings of the toilet and God knows what else, I'd be grossed out. That's just rude to do to people. Is your conversation really so important that it can't wait until another time or more appropriate place? I really don't want to hear the details about what happened the last time you got a manicure or how you smeared the polish getting into your car. I really don't care, and I don't want to hear about it when I'm using the restroom.

Lastly, ladies at the health club, don't think I'm forgetting about you. Seriously, whoever taught you that it was acceptable to remove a (necessary) tampon and throw it onto the floor of the shower in the locker room, they were wrong. You are horribly mistaken, and this is simply not acceptable. Ditto with placing used gum on the shampoo shelf. I'm assuming that either you're the same lady or that you know each other, as I discovered both in the same stall when I went running last time. Seriously, that's disgusting, and I don't know how you ever thought that this was a good idea. Just don't do it again.

Thank you for your attention.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Mister Man Rocks

Really, I know this already. I sometimes forget though because we don't have a ton of one on one time. Little Miss is a me-too-firster, and that sometimes puts Mister Man at a disadvantage, since he's such an easy kid ninety-nine percent of the time.

We had a birthday party to go to in Glenview, which is about an hour from our house. It was at 2pm, and Little Miss was not invited. She naps, and wouldn't have been able to go even if she were invited to decorate a cake and a cookie at a bakery. HA! Like I would have let her make that mess anyway.

I decided to take the easy way out and go to the Kohl's Children's Museum right after church and just make it a non-issue for Little Miss that a) she wasn't going to the party and b) that she had to nap and Mister Man didn't.

We belong to the museum because it's a great place that the wee ones and I love. We don't get to go too often because it's almost an hour from our house, but we go a half dozen times or so times a year. With two wee ones, it gets hard because I'm contantly monitoring who's where and doing what and negotiating to keep someone at the current activity or with the other to move on to another exhibit. It gets a little stressful.

I've never gone with just Mister Man and I, but we had fun. In fact, he asked if we could do this with just him and me again soon. Awww. You betcha, kiddo!

In the craft room, we got to look at worms in dirt and touch them and see what they do. Then, Mister Man drew a picture of a worm. He named it Lurker Turker (or LT for short, as you can see on his page). I thought it was very creative that his worm was a rainbow of colors with purple hair and lots of legs.

As always, we loved playing with the construction set. This is the first time we've been that he really figured out how the levers work and that he can control the crane bucket to pick up the "dirt" beanbags. And yes, that's a CAT tee shirt, so he inadvertantly dressed himself properly (my only requirement for his dressing is that it be a bright color if we're going to be in a crowded place).

He did a lot of really hard work on the conveyor belt where you place the dirt onto the conveyor belt, turn the wheel (which he did cooperatively with a little friend he made -- he made a friend!) which sends the bean bags down a chute and off the roof, catch the falling beanbags in a wheelbarrow and wheel the load back to the conveyor belt. It was really neat to see him sharing the duties with several children who came and went and helped with various parts of the work. For a boy who started out with social delays, this is so cool to see!

We also went to Dominick's where Mister Man picked up a shopping list and picked up one (and only one) of each item on his list. There were plenty of other kids who swept whole shelves of items into their carts leaving nothing for the others. No comment from me on that. He was really proud of what he put in his cart, and he loved it when I helped him check out at the register and he had to "pay" me for the items.

I forget sometimes how much fun it is to spend time one on one with each of the wee ones. They really are good kids and a delight to hang out with (ok, usually). My goal is to spend at least one afternoon alone with one or the other at least once every other week. I'd like to do it more often, but with my and my husband's work schedules, that may be a bit of a stretch.

Either way, we have no school this coming Friday, so guess where we're headed!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Old Home Weekend

In addition to Vegas, we did also make it to Minnesota for the State Fair. I grew up going to the State Fair and yes, even showed there many years (hunt seat horseback riding, although my horse was so spooked by the arena and we had some issues -- I still have my cooler and my silver plates for winning various classes there). I haven't been since before the wee ones were born, although I talked a good game.

This January, I lost my mind and agreed to meet some friends of mine from high school who now live in New York. Yay, sounds fun. I had some angst about the trip, but we all went.

And it wasn't so bad. Except for the constant whining and crying from the wee ones who couldn't truly fall asleep during naptime in the car but rather doze off and on. I do highly recommend swim lessons immediately prior to leaving for a road trip. Fortunately we arrived safely and with sanity mostly intact.

On a random note, we went to Southdale to eat on Thursday night because it was close to our hotel and easy. And we found an interesting sight in the parking lot on our way back to our car. I had to take a picture. Ten points to whoever can identify why I took the picture.

Some people have more money than sense.

On the plus side, we had fun at the Fair. I highly recommend it. Of course, I outlasted everyone else we were with -- the wee ones were asking if they could go home about a half hour before we left. The good news is they asked to go back again next year.

On to your tour:

There are lots and lots of great baked goods and other items that are judged. I have no idea what makes a certain honey or vinegar or cookie or whathaveyou better than another, but I'd be happy to taste test and figure it out. And yes, if I still lived there, I'd probably enter just for the fun of it.

There are certain food items that you must eat while at the Fair. This includes cheese curds, chocolate malts (which unfortunately we didn't get because the line was too long and the wee ones were way past done by the time we got to the Dairy Barn), Tom Thumb donuts (not Tiny Tim), and Sweet Martha's Cookies. And to wash down the cookies? You get the $1 cup of milk that has infinite refills. Yum!

I also discovered this year that they had lingonberry ice cream (Mister Man's favorite new berry), but we never got a chance to have any. Next year, right?

The Dairy Barn also houses the butter sculptures. Every year, Princess Kay of the Milky Way and her court get their likenesses carved out of butter. Like 55 pounds of butter, I think. I discovered that day they get to take them home. Because one woman was in the court decades ago and still has her sculpture in her freezer. I would have had a huge party that involved eating a lot of butter, but that's just me.

It's something like 45 degrees inside there, which is how the butter doesn't melt (duh!) and is also hard enough to carve. Thus, the princess was wearing a jacket and gloves in August. I actually find the sculptures mildly creepy, but really, where else are you going to find something like this?

Something new (to me at least) wasthe Big Fat Bacon stand. While intriguing, I was content to look at the building and walk on.

One of my friends attending was not content to leave it at that. He had to ask what it was (one quarter pound of premium bacon cooked blah blah blah on a stick), and that sold him. Being the good Jew from New York that he is, though, he had to blot off the excess fat before he could eat it. Yes, I laughed at him. You can, too.

He really did enjoy his bacon though. And yes, I tried a small bite of it. Pretty good for bacon, actually. I wouldn't rush back to the Big Fat Bacon stand anytime soon though. The lingonberry ice cream stand would edge ahead of it somehow.

Said friend was also adopted by Little Miss. It all started when Mister Man discovered the big yellow slide. Growing up, I was never allowed to ride the slide. You essentially ride a potato sack down a three bump slide. Once. And it isn't cheap, although granted this is a Fair so what is?

Mister Man discovered the slide and really wanted to ride it. My husband, being the sucker that he is, agreed that he could. And Mister Man was especially pleased to discover that he was just tall enough to ride alone. He's soooooo proud when he can do things like this all by his lonesome.

So is anyone surprised that Little Miss also decided she had to ride the slide? And our friend was kind enough (and enough of a child at heart) to oblige her.

For the rest of the day, she stuck by his side. It's possible that she was also influenced by the frozen grapes that he generously shared with her, not that she could be bribed or anything.

She wanted him, and only him, to hold her hand and hang out with her. This included the seed exhibit. Yes, there is such a thing as seed art. Some of it is impressive. And I think that's the nicest thing I can say about it, but I do have to check it out every time I go. The seed scarecrows were also fairly impressive.

Their other favorite activity at the Fair was another of my not favorites.

But, being the nice mom that I am, they got to ride the round trip. With Daddy. The rest of us walked. Sucker!

And what would a fair be without animals? This was another one of the hits of the Fair. I unfortunately didn't get a picture of the baby pigs we saw being born, but that was really cool. The birthing barn is a new thing since I was growing up. Essentially you take a ton of pregnant farm animals and put them in one barn, each in its own enclosure that people can surround on all four sides with bleachers that can easily be moved around from station to station. Bring in vets, and voila - instant maternity ward with the less privacy a mother could imagine.

Having small children does come in handy sometimes. When parents saw me lifting up Mister Man, they insisted that he come up to the front because "he needs to see this!" Ok, if you insist. We'll move up. I'm definitely remembering this trick whenever I need an autograph or want a baseball tossed to me or whathaveyou.

We hit the majority of the animals, and I didn't take pictures really because ... they're farm animals. In a barn. I'm sure you've seen something similar before. Mister Man, on the other hand, was fascinated by the poultry. He wanted to take my camera and take pictures of them. We compromised in that I agreed to take pictures of him with the poultry. Score one for Mom!

You may have noticed that both the wee ones have leashes on. I debated whether I was going to use them or not and finally decided that their safety was worth my concerns over whether or not using them made me a bad mom. For the most part, Mister Man held my hand, so the leash was superfluous but it was a great safety net for my peace of mind.

On Saturday, we went to Mall of America for a little while to show it to the wee ones before I went to a visit a friend and her family. I was vindicated there. A man was running around Legoland frantically crying "Natalie! Natalie! Has anyone seen a little girl about this tall with yellow shorts and two ponytails? She's about two years old. Natalie!" Yeah.

Mister Man requested that the next time we go to Minnesota we ride some of the rides at whatever they're calling Camp Snoopy now. We'll think about it. But he was really intrigued by all the motion and rides and fun things we saw there. And he's right, it is pretty cool. Plus, the Legoland is a neat diversion.

By the time we left Minnesota, the wee ones were exhausted. Of course, only one of them slept, but isn't he a cutie?

We're so going back next year!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I Need A New Umbrella

I actually figured this out last night.

Mostly because I was going downtown for a Girls Night Out (GNO, hereafter) at Fulton's by the River. It was raining and scheduled to keep raining. I'm nothing if not prepared, so I brought my umbrella. It was one of the little fold up ones that would be easy to take into the restaurant and carry on the train.

I first realized there was a problem when I stepped out of Ogilvie and opened said umbrella. It was one of the tiny short umbrellas that really can cover only about three-quarters of a person. Unfortunately, this umbrella was also partially broken, so one side of it flopped down sadly.

I was not to be deterred, however, and soldiered on to the restaurant. When we left, it was raining harder, and it's possible that I got a touch damp.

Before I continue with my narrative, please note that I know this is nothing compared to the devastation being wreaked by Ike in Texas right now. I feel for everyone there (including my friends' parents who are without power and didn't stock up on food), and I pray that everyone is safe and that normalcy is restored quickly. The below is meant to poke fun at me and not to belittle the suffering of anyone experiencing an actual hurricane.

Today, the rain continued. In fact, it was supposed to rain more and harder today than yesterday.

But today is a Saturday in the fall. That means college football, and yes, Northwestern had a home game. Neither rain (been there), nor snow (done that) nor dark of night (done that, too) shall keep me from my appointed seat.

I prepared. I work shorts and a tee-shirt, knowing I'd never be able to keep jeans and a long sleeve tee dry under my poncho. I packed a backpack with three pairs of socks, a pair of jeans and two more tee shirts, one long sleeved. I added binoculars in case the rain was bad enough that I'd move to high seats under the overhang. I took out my camera from my purse (and oh did I wish I had it several times today!) to avoid it getting ruined, ditto with my Blackberry. I brought along a semi waterproof lined jacket. Oh, and I packed a chamois to dry our seats.

We drove my husband's car. He has a Camry. Given the weather, I would have driven mine, but he got to the cars first and was waiting for me in his car with it running directly behind mine, so I said nothing.

As we were driving on the Edens, traffic suddenly slowed to essentially a stop just south of Tower Road. Having listened to traffic that morning while getting ready just a little before that, I knew that there had been several accidents and that it was tight by Touhy. I figured it was just that.


As we got closer to Skokie Blvd (our exit, of course) we finally realized that the three lanes of traffic were merging to one. Because under an overpass, there was a river. And this river was deep. And cars were slowly braving this torrent. One by one.

My husband started freaking out. He found out the hard way that Camry's have the air intake valve under the engine. Yeah, he figured this out when he ruined the engine of his last Camry (long before I knew him) driving through water that didn't look as deep as this did.

So he did what any logical person would (read: not me).

We backed up the three quarters of a mile to the Tower Road exit. When we got there, we saw many cars in the waiting traffic turning around and driving up the exit ramp. He waited for a break and then u-turned it and drove up the ramp.

It was about this point that I addressed the radio and told the Wildcats that I expected good football karma for all that I was going through to get to the game.

As we drove east on Tower Road, we got ohhhh a half mile before the police had the road closed due to flooding.

Now. If you were a normal person (I'm not claiming that I am), what would you do here? Keep in mind that I have attended every home game of Northwestern's since the fall of 1994 (except one that occurred before school started when I worked the summer in Minnesota).

Lucky me, I've spent a little bit of time in the Skokie / Winnetka / Evanston area.

We turned around and I started finding roads I knew were major enough to not dead end into neighborhoods, and we started jogging south and east. Twice we ran into more flooded roads and had to turn around to try another route. Once we ran into fairly deep standing water, but my husband decided he could brave it. At three miles per hour so we wouldn't create many waves.

And somehow, we made it to the stadium before kickoff. Phew! Of course, this is when I dared to mention to my husband that I was a little concerned about getting home. As much trouble as we'd had already and knowing that it was going to continue to rain for the entire game, I wasn't optimistic. But that was a worry for after the game.

I put my backpack on front ways, knowing that it wouldn't be comfortable to sit with it on my back. Oh, and that I'd look pregnant so the security guards would let me take my backpack into the stadium. The jacket went over the backpack, and the poncho over the jacket. I left my purse on the outside, so I'd have something for security to search. As I'm typing this, I realize that I've been to way too many sporting events that I can think all this through without breaking a sweat.

My broken umbrella protected me from getting too wet, and when we got to the stadium, I tossed it into the pile of umbrellas others had to abandon. I did this before being asked, and unzipped my tiny purse for security to check. The guy looked at me and waved me through without looking at anything. Pregnant ladies wouldn't do anything untoward, you know?

The chamois was pure brilliance, I must say. No matter how much it rained, I could just wring it out, wipe down the seats if needed and stay dry. I saw others with towels. Amateurs. They'd use the towel to push some water to the side, but inevitably, they were soaked.

Of course, I didn't do a good job of instructing the rest of the crew. My husband had on jeans and a long sleeve tee. My friend had on grey velour pants (that she could at least wring out) and a shell that was only mostly waterproof. Her husband had on khakis (which are see through when wet we discovered) and a windbreaker. They were all soaked. Hugely soaked.

At halftime, we went into the concourse to dry off and so my friends could get something to eat. It was then that my friend's husband discovered that his Blackberry was toast. It really didn't like sitting in a wet pocket in his jacket. He dried it off as best he could and we placed it into my warm, dry backpack. Midway through the third quarter, he realized that his bluetooth was in the same pocket, and we're pretty sure that's toast, too.

I also took this opportunity to change my socks into dry ones. My shoes were somewhat wet, but not totally squishy. New socks really made a difference.

At the end of halftime, I used the chamois to again clean the seats, while snickering at the woman a couple rows ahead of us sitting on a towel that was just soaking in water from everywhere and depositing it on her bottom.

When the game ended (33-7, Northwestern beat Southern, thank you very much), we walked to the exit, and my broken umbrella was, not surprisingly, still there. No one had tried to steal it, and I had additional cover as we walked to the car.

We did (obviously) make it home safely. We sort of cheated though. Knowing that the roads into the city from Evanston weren't flooded, we went to my friends' house and hung out there to watch the Michigan game. By the time we left at 7, the Kennedy was back to normal and we didn't run into any standing water.

The only thing I didn't think of? A second pair of shoes to put on after we got back to the car. Putting my shoes on when we left my friends' house was not pleasant. It was pretty much the same skin crawling sensation of putting on a cold wet swimsuit, just on my feet.

Here's hoping my purple Pumas dry out by next Saturday. After all, we play Ohio, and they played Ohio State tough!

PS Wish us luck. We're supposed to fly to St Louis tomorrow for the Rams game. The blue line and the 190 ramp were both shut down earlier today due to flooding, and it is supposed to keep raining all night tonight and all day tomorrow. I'm a glutton for punishment, aren't I?

Friday, September 12, 2008

From The Mouths Of Babes

I always have interesting conversations when I'm getting the wee ones ready for bed. For some reason, some of the best ones occur when Mister Man is going potty.

Mister Man: Mom, is my penis sticky right here?
Me: (praying he's not going to ask me to check) I don't know, is it?
Mister Man: Yes. Why is it sticky?
Me: (smothering a giggle and remembering that he's only 4) Well, you did a lot of running and biking today, didn't you?
Mister Man: Yeah....
Me: So maybe it just got a little sweaty.
Mister Man: OH! And that made it sticky?
Me: I would have to assume so, Sweetie. Oh, and Mister Man, maybe you should wash with soap tonight when you take your shower.

I'll spare you my husband's commentary on the conversation.

I really hope - when these kinds of questions come up with my oh so inquisitive wee ones - that I'm handling them in a way that won't damage them down the line. Why couldn't I end up with one of the children who is satisfied with the first answer given? Why do I have two children who "why" everything until I have no more answers?

At least they never stop cracking me up!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Viva Las Vegas

OK, so it's been awhile since I went to Vegas, but I absolutely have to share some of the photos of where we stayed, etc.

Somehow, I tend to manage to find pretty good hotel deals, which means I can stay at decent places for not exorbitant rates. For example, this time we stayed at Wynn for less than $150/night excluding taxes and around $170 all in. This included full access to the pool, where they had lovely complimentary iced water, as well as their health club (yeah, didn't make it in there) and everything else.

From the moment you walk in, you know this is going to be a nice hotel. I love the promenade of trees with little lights on them. It's so lovely and bright and open. And yes, I liked the floors, too. Marble, I think?

The pool totally rocked. It was nicer than honestly any other pool I've seen. This was only the first "pool" part. It's large enough that the entire pool doesn't fit in my viewfinder at one time.

It was so big that it needed bridges to get from one side to the other in the "river" part of it.

Now I've been places where they had cabanas before. The hotel we stay at in Florida has them and charges around $50 per day for them. I wouldn't pay that, but I'm cheap.

I finally had to ask about these cabanas. They don't include any of the food or drink, although you do have waitstaff at your disposal. Yeah. $300 per day, from 9am to 5pm. That's about twice what I paid for my whole room. And really, if I'm paying that much, I don't want to be time restricted and be kicked out at 5!

But ummmm, they are pretty nice!

The pool also had a second pool. This was the European style pool. I am not allowed to take pictures (see the sign), but the sign alone cracked me up. And yes, they had floating gaming tables in the pool. Because you'd hate to lose out on gambling time while lounging at the pool, right?

Our room was really nice.

And proof that it was really nice? They put a towel at the side of the bed. Now for those of you who aren't as ummm particular as me, you may not get this. I hate to have my feet touch the floor in a hotel. I walk around in either socks or shoes the entire time I'm there. And before bed, you step out of slippers and feet touch the floor, ditto with when you first get up in the morning. Not at Wynn!

And yes, I'm all about the bathrooms in hotels. I really liked this one, although -- no surprise -- I refuse to take a bath in a hotel bathtub. YUCK! I did really like the design of the shower next to the tub there and am remembering this one for when I remodel our master bath, which desperately needs to be done.

We did make our way outside the hotels. And what's Vegas without a little sex? Unfortunately(?) it wasn't yet open. But soon. They were hiring!

We also went to see a few shows while there, in addition to my lounging by the pool and watching gambling.

The first night, we saw Tony & Tina's Wedding. I can now say that I've seen it and don't need to go again. I'll leave it at that, and draw your own conclusions.

OK, OK. I'll share pictures of my husband (in the green shirt) who got tapped to be the cowboy in YMCA during the reception. He was a little too into it, if you know what I mean....

We also saw two other shows. The first was Zumanity, a "Cirque does showgirls" kind of show. It was definitely interesting, but nowhere near one of my favorites. Of the ones I've seen in Vegas, Mystere is still far and away my favorite. (And yes, I've seen O.) My friend summed up Zumanity the best: It's too tame for the prurient among us and too racy for the prudes. No one's satisfied.

The last night before we left, I got discounted tickets in the second row to see Le Reve. (See those bargain hunting skills?) That show rocked. I'd go back to see it in a heartbeat. It was really compelling and very fast paced. It was unique in a world where Cirque tricks have almost rote. It is almost like what O could have been but isn't. I'd definitely recommend that one.

And with that, I'll end my travelogue and return you to your regularly scheduled blogcast.

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