December 31, 2009

Recap

It's the last day of the year. Also the last day of the first decade of the 21st century. I can't believe it's been 10 years since the Y2K hysteria. This has been a typical crazy, wonderful year. Nothing too eventful in terms of startling revelations or events. Chunky had an injury. Sassy started something new. I persevered though I don't know all the things I'd like to. We have our health, our jobs and each other so we're ending the year as well if not better than how we started. Ever the eternal optimist, I'm looking forward to 2010.

My 2009 resolutions were to start and maintain a blog, catch up on scrapbooking and enroll in a Master's program. I'm two for three. I don't really have any new resolutions. I figure I should just carry on with this year's - continuing the two and actually doing the third.

My favorite things haven't changed. I still love food as much as I did a year ago hence I haven't parted with my love handles. I still heart Christmas music, all things Twilight, snuggling with my kids (furry and otherwise) and vacations. I've discovered new blogs - The Pioneer Woman, Smitten Kitchen, The Spohrs are Multiplying - and parted with others. Still inspired by these folks. I'm glad I joined the ranks and hope readers - old and new - find this blog inspiring, funny or just plain crazy (I'm at peace with my craziness).

Sassy's best friends, Miguel, Sprinkle and Muffin are over along with assorted boyfriends and girlfriends. They alternate between grazing, giggling and general goofing around. Sometimes it's loud. REALLY LOUD. Sometimes not so much. Which makes me nervous and necessitates a "hand check".

I'd best be off - the furry kids are circling the appetizer smorgasbord. Happy New Year!

December 29, 2009

RIP Kiwi

My Mom lost her beloved Kiwi, an Eclectus Parrot, in an unfortunate accident yesterday. We have many memories of Kiwi. He stalked me once because I called him "stupid" (sibling rivalry - he had my mom wrapped around his big toe). He and Chunky bonded intellectually as they were about the same age, and Sassy fondly remembers his attempting to mate with my hand on one visit. He was a very pretty bird and will be deeply missed.

December 26, 2009

Merry, Merry

We had a very Merry Christmas. Hope you did as well. Marching on to a new year and a new decade!

On the weather front, here was the front page of yesterday's paper. As of 12:30 this morning we had about 9 inches. Could be worse - Duluth had 24 inches! We're hearing now the next round may not be as bad as "they" initially thought. Who else has a job where you can be wrong at least 50% of the time?!


Scenes from Christmas Eve
We gathered at the in-laws with Hubby's sisters' family. We started the gift giving with "magic" undergarments - boxer shorts for the big boys, socks for Chunky and tshirt/short pjs for Sassy. These come in a small compressed package and expand in water. Everyone ran into the bathroom to see what theirs looked like. Chunky couldn't wait to wear his.



Another big hit were Lacoste baseball hats for all the grandsons - Chunky's second from the left.

Scenes from Christmas Day: Our House
Sassy really wanted DJ Hero and Santa complied. I didn't know what to get Hubby. He has unique and expensive taste. I got him a netbook but he's not crazy about it (too slow, not a Mac) so it's going back. At least he had something to open. I love that he's still in his trashy snowthrowing clothes. He showered AFTER gifts. He's worse than the kids.

Scenes from Christmas Day: Grandma & Papa's
Sassy got a couple of other things from her "Santa wish list" - Ugg boots and a L.A.M.B shirt (she hearts all things Gwen Stefani).

Papa had some enthusiasm forced upon him when we cajoled him into modeling one of the many new shirts he received. Hubby got in the act too.


Chunky got lots (and lots) of clothes. This made him really happy. Not! I was surprised he liked this sweatshirt enough to put it on for a photo. He had to eat a little crow later when a discovery was made after everyone had finished opening gifts. We started cleaning up and ... Oh my! What's this?! Another gift in the closet? Who's could it be? Thank you Grandma & Papa for a remote control car. You saved Chunky from an almost certain death of no toy-itis.

December 24, 2009

Winter Wonderland

It is a vision of white here in the arctic. Snow has been slowly but steadily falling since mid-day yesterday. Not sure what the exact count is - I heard 4-8 inches this morning. Hubby has already had to use the snow thrower twice - pre snowplow and post. If you live somewhere with a good bit of snow you know that the snowplow is a double-edged sword. It clears the roads and also leaves a lovely ledge of snow at the end of your driveway. That ledge can be the height of a small child depending upon the amount of snow being plowed. If you don't take care of it right away, it gets hard and crusty. Like a glacier. Lucky for us Hubby has a four-wheel drive diesel truck (aka monster truck).

Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2009

A for effort

I got an A in Ethics and Leadership! Now on to Strategic Communications. Of course there are assignments due the very first class. I must be insane!

#1: Present a 4-minute narrative about a time in which you have taken a stand on an ethical issue. This is an extemporaneous presentation (no notes). Just tell the story. Your challenge in presenting is to decide what “the moral of the story” should be. What theme or principle does your narrative illustrate? Frame your introduction and conclusion purposefully.

#2: Write a one page short description of yourself. Include your rationale for being here and what your current interests are. Tell us everything you would like us to know about yourself.

December 22, 2009

Baby Names #2

For those of you who think I'm crazy for blogging about my never-to-be-used baby names (you know who you are), here's a timely story regarding pop culture influences on baby name trends.

For the fifth consecutive year, Aiden is tops for most popular boy name. And for girls? Isabella takes the number one spot away from Emma.

Twilight had a big impact - Bella, Alice, Jacob and Jasper - all have gained popularity.
What about Edward?!

December 21, 2009

Baby Names

I'm now thinking Ava Elisabeth and Giovanni (Van) Robert for the twins' names. note: I am not pregnant, just have an overactive imagination/dream cycle. I wonder if I'll still have baby names picked out when I'm past childbearing age. This makes me laugh because when I visited my grandma (dad's mom) while pregnant with my kids she would tell me what her girls names would have been if she had had more kids. I think she wanted girls - she had two boys and unfortunately both passed away before her. Grandma was 87 when Sassy was born and her favorite name was Allison. I entertained the idea of using it for a moment, but just couldn't.

The top three girl names for 1994 were Jessica, Ashley and Emily. My favorite name at the time was Emma but Hubby hated it. Said it sounded like an old lady. I've always liked Emma - it was my other Grandma's (mom's mom) middle name. She hated it too, but I thought it was better than her first name, Angeline. Her mother wanted to name her Juanita Rose, but great-grandpa won out. Emma was the #1 name in 2008 so I must have been progressive back in 1994. The name we chose for Sassy was #106 then. It was the ONLY one Hubby and I agreed upon. Her middle name is after Hubby's maternal grandmother. She would have been named Andrew (Drew) if a boy which was the 12th most popular boy name in 1994. Grandma was 93 when Chunky was born and still liked Allison. I was sure I was having a boy so picked out only one girl name, Annabelle. The top three boy names for 1999 were Jacob, Michael and Matthew. Chunky's name was #117 and my favorite - I got to choose whatever I wanted since Hubby selected Sassy's. Chunky shares Hubby's middle name to keep with tradition for a family name. Hubby sure gets a lot of choices around here. I'll have to work on that.

December 19, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like ...

I finally got the ornaments on the tree today. For the record, I thought it looked perfectly lovely without the ornaments. Chunky and I decorated while listening to Christmas music. He kept turning the CD off to tell me he liked his version of whatever song it was better - then proceeded to sing off key. Oh the joy.



I love seeing ornaments that take me back - these were special to my grandmother.



Even the critters have ornaments around here -


My mother schlepped this bowl all the way from Tuscany for me. I thought it made a nice dining room table centerpiece with Hubbys' Aunt Hildegard's handmade mini Christmas tree skirt. I thought about filling it with ornaments but decided not to as you wouldn't be able to see the unique pattern.


I have most of the presents bought and wrapped. I haven't done any baking, but plan to make Rugelach and Peppermint Fudge tomorrow.

On a random note, I have babies on the brain lately. I had a dream I gave birth to twins the other day. I'm thinking Ava, Elise, or Liesel for the girl and Kiefer, Lance or Milo for the boy.

December 13, 2009

Mrs M



Happy Birthday to my favorite New York traveling buddy!

December 12, 2009

After all... tomorrow is another day

Name that movie and who said it!

I technically finished the paper yesterday - I typed the last words at 11:46pm. Then the printer started making funny sounds. And then I ran out of 3-hole punch paper. Good gravy. I shut everything down and went to bed. This morning I reviewed, made minor edits ('cause I'm a dork), downloaded to a flash drive and headed to Kinko's (evidently it's now FedEx but I still call it Kinko's). They printed put my 10 page paper on 3-hole punch paper for $1.48. For the record, I'm not embarrassed that I had to use my credit card for that measly amount. Off I went to turn it in. I had a dream the other night that I went to turn it in and all the doors were locked. Then last night I dreamt the doors were open but there was no place to put my binder - they had already been picked up. You could not imagine my relief when I arrived this morning at 10am and saw a pile of binders. Phew! I figured I'd buy the books for my next class while I was on campus. As I was walking my right boot heel felt a bit wobbly. I arrived at the bookstore only to find it closed today. of course. I walked back to my car and as I was arranging myself in the driver's seat my heel broke off. Merry Christmas.

Scarlett O'Hara - Gone With the Wind

December 11, 2009

I Think I Can

I've taken the day off of work to write my last paper. Pathetic I know. Better late than never. It's due tomorrow at 2:00 but I'm optimistic I can get on a roll and finish by this afternoon. I have to turn it in with a 3-ring binder (portfolio) of all my work from the class, including drafts, notes and grading grids. I spent spare moments the last couple of days making a nice cover with index sheets and 3-hole punching paper. Oy!

On a random note, I've added a countdown to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics in the sidebar. I heart the Olympics. While in labor with Sassy in 1994 I was really hoping I'd wait to dilate and deliver until after the pair skating team Gordeeva & Grinkov performed. In the end I had a less than three-hour labor with only a half hour of pushing and a beautiful baby girl, but there was a little part of me that was bummed to have missed the gold medal performance. In 2004 Chunky's birthday party theme was the Summer Olympics in Greece. Yum ... Spanakopita appetizers. And who could forget the local tie-in to the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" hockey game?! 12 of the 20 USA team players were from MN as well as the infamous coach, Herb Brooks.

December 8, 2009

Shut Up and Drive

We're getting our first real snow. It's not that bad it's just that we here in the arctic forget how to drive for a few months out of the year when we experience the great thaw that is summer. I carpooled with MPB today and she almost threw me out of the car for singing Christmas songs. I heart Christmas songs. It wouldn't have done much damage though 'cause we were only going five miles an hour. We saw one car crashed into a street light pole. Not good. We picked up MPB's almost five month old daughter from daycare and I was vindicated when the only sounds that soothed her crying were my renditions of 'O Holy Night' and 'Jingle Bell Rock'. That girl knows a good thing when she hears it.

December 5, 2009

So Much Shopping, So Little Time



The arctic is snowless these days. Never fear, it's still plenty cold (25° tops). We did a little holiday shopping today. For some reason I'm really struggling for ideas this year. I didn't know what to get the girls at work and I got tired of overanalyzing so they're getting......what I give them :) I bought Sassy a cute sundress for our upcoming vacation and myself some clothes at my favorite store to celebrate the (almost) end of my first grad class. Just one more paper due in 6 days. Last night was the last class and we had a potluck. I made savory goat cheese & herb biscotti but they turned out a bit more toasted than intended (darn oven). I served the lightest ones along with hard salami and herb cheese spread. Another classmate brought homemade tamales (yum!), while others brought salads, veggies, cheeses and even pizza. We had quite a smorgasbord. In other news, Chunky had his first basketball game for teams A and B this week. He's made a lot of improvement and things are going well. Let's hope that continues!

November 30, 2009

I did it!

I've posted every day during national blog posting month! Thankfully it was all about quantity over quality. Thank you Wikipedia! Please forgive me while I hibernate for awhile and attempt to get my Christmas groove on :)

November 29, 2009

Christmas is in the house

Literally. Hubby and Chunky picked out our tree today. It's a 9' frasier fir and smells wonderful. I'm not feeling very festive though. Could be there's no snow (I'm NOT complaining) or that I still feel like a stuffed turkey from Thanksgiving. I made another pumpkin pie. Gobble gobble and waddle waddle.

November 28, 2009

Intentions

I had the best intentions of taking photos of our Thanksgiving smorgasbord. Scroll down, go ahead. Yep, you guessed it. No photos. Those intentions were not realized.

The turkey was perfect. I must give Hubby props - he was adamant about NOT basting it because he saw it on a news show. I questioned the credibility of said news show over my beloved Food Network, but in the end I figured who am I to judge. Besides I think the brining makes the bird, but let's not tell Hubby. He's walking around like the proud turkey he is.

My gravy was A. MA. ZING! I tried something different this year - I cooked the neck and giblets on the stove in some chicken stock and wine (which I also put in the bottom of the turkey pan for "steaming", but most certainly not glazing). I then added two rosemary sprigs, garlic cloves and some salt & pepper. When that was good and bubbly, I added just a zip of sherry (my little secret to give it flavor and color). I discarded the turkey parts and rosemary. Then I transferred the liquid and enough pan juices for a total of 2 cups into a small pot. I brought to a boil then added a mixture of 1/4 cup flour plus 1/2 cup cold water. I let it simmer then turned down to low for the last few minutes. It was A. MA. ZING. And I don't like gravy. At all. I would have drank this stuff through a straw.

I triple-dog dare you to make the Moon Pie and not eat it all in less than a day. It's impossible. It beckons you, seductively. You start rationalizing that the crust might get soggy if you don't eat it soon. Or that the top is too soft to put a wrap on it and you must know if it tastes as good a couple hours later as it did when you last had a bite. Or that it's taking up too much room in the fridge and you simply must liberate some space. It's just that darn good. And it's long gone.

I've shamed Paula. My pumpkin & pecan squares were not great. My oven runs hot and the bottom cake layer was overdone even though I took it out early. I'll try once more. Maybe next week for my grad school potluck dinner - because I have nothing else to do besides write those blasted last papers.

I had the best intentions of not polishing off the pumpkin pie since Hubby specifically requested it. But then I got to thinking I really don't do that five-a-day thing and pumpkin is a fruit.

November 27, 2009

Countdown

See that countdown to the left? That's how many days I have to get swimsuit ready. Scratch that. I'll be happy just to get sleeveless shirt and shorts ready. Guess I better dust off the pilates chair. It's currently being used as a "table" for my grad school books. Speaking of countdowns, just two more papers plus a leadership credo and metaphor to go! December 11th will either come too quickly or not quick enough. I'll let you know on December 12th.

November 26, 2009

Thankful

I'm thankful for so much. My family, health, friends, experiences, comfort, safety, freedom just to name a few.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2009

T Day Desserts (part 2)

Mmmmm, Moon Cake (we call it Moon Pie for some reason). It's like a huge, flat eclair! I'm sure it gets its name from the "craters" the dough forms when baked. The dough takes just a bit to prepare, but then it's a breeze.

Yvonne's Moon Cake
Crust
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
4 eggs

Bring water and butter to a boil. Add flour and stir until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat and let cool a bit. Add eggs, one at a time, beatin each time with a spoon. Srpead onto ungreased jellyroll pan (11x15 cookie sheet with sides). Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Middle Layer
1 8oz pkg cream cheese
3 1/2 cups milk
2 3oz pkgs instant vanilla pudding

Blend cream cheese and milk briefly, mix in pudding. Spread onto crust and cool in fridge 20 minutes.

Top
8oz container whipped topping
chocolate syrup
finely chopped nuts

Frost cake/pie with whipped topping. Drizzle with chocolate (I like big looping "swooshes"). Sprinkle nuts as final step.

November 24, 2009

T Day Desserts (part 1)

I'm ready, bring it on! The in-laws are responsible for rolls, cranberries, sweet potatoes and green bean casserole (none for me thanks but it's hubby's favorite). I'm making a brined turkey, mashed yukon gold potatoes, sausage & apple stuffing (with craisins, yum!), and three desserts. Hubby has to have pumpkin pie (though a chocoholic, pumpkin pie ranks right up there for me as well), but I needed to satisfy my desire to try new things as well as overachieve. I settled on Paula Deen's Creamy Pumpkin & Pecan Squares as well as an old favorite from a dear friend I don't talk with often enough, Moon Cake.

Paula Deen's Creamy Pumpkin & Pecan Squares
1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 8-oz pkg cream cheese, softened
3 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
16 oz powdered sugar

Combine cake mix, butter, pecans and 1 egg. Press mixture evenly into bottom of lightly greased 13x9-inch baking pan. Beat cream cheese and 3 eggs with electric mixer until creamy. Add in pumpkin and spice. Gradually bean in sugar until mixture is smooth. Poor over crust. Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Cut into squares - top with whipped cream and cinnamon if desired.

November 23, 2009

23 straight days!

On this day in history (personal favorites) -

1889 – The first jukebox goes into operation at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco.

1903 – Governor of Colorado James Peabody sends the state militia into the town of Cripple Creek to break up a miners' strike.

1963 – The BBC broadcasts the first ever episode of Doctor Who which is the world's longest running science fiction drama.

1859 – Billy The Kid, American outlaw, is born (d. 1881)

1992 – Miley Cyrus, American actress and singer, is born

November 22, 2009

In or Out?

Thanksgiving is only four days away and we still haven't decided. While In entails a lot of work to prepare, I really like to cook and it's a great stress reliever for me. Problem is, I get overzealous and start to make things harder than they need to be in an attempt to outdo myself. When I asked hubby to choose between ginger pumpkin tart and chocolate chestnut trifle, he said "how about just plain pumpkin pie?" I'm leaning towards In and keeping it simple. I already have a brining kit so just need a turkey and fixins. What are you doing?

November 21, 2009

Ramblings

I went to bed at 1am after being up since 6am (and going to bed at Midnight the day prior). Just got up - did a little laundry and fed critters - it's almost 11am. Awesome!

New Moon was good. If you like buff guys with their shirts off, British guys with gorgeous red lips or dream of driving a Porsche in the Italian countryside. There are a few flaws, but I choose to overlook them and accept it for what it is - a modern Romeo & Juliet with vampires and werewolves.

I got a 9.5 out of 10 on my Ethics paper. Yeah! So we know now that I'm only mildly ethically challenged.

Basketball coach response:
Understanding is the key to success. We will work with him and accomplish what we all desire. All of us have short comings that we must work through. Thank you for the insight.

November 20, 2009

New Moon

Crazy = me, three teen girls and a ten year old boy heading out the door to see 10:30 showing!

November 19, 2009

Addict

Finally, the movie based on the second Twilight saga book, New Moon, is here! I am tempted to stay up and see the first showing at Midnight. I think that would be unwise since I have to work and go to school tomorrow.

November 18, 2009

Smokin' Eyes

and other beauty favorites -

November 17, 2009

High Road Advocate

ADVOCATE – noun – a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc.

I received an email from Chunky's school basketball coach the other day that was not entirely surprising, yet got my mama bear defenses up.

[he who is spirited] is much more disruptive than the other players. This makes it difficult to teach. I and my assistants do not feel that we are baby sitters, but are there to teach them the fundamentals and how to play the game. The main problem is -- is that [he who is spirited] has talent and potential as a player -- if he would only act a little more mature and endeavor to learn what the game is all about. Have a talk with him. I would love to see him develop as a player and a young gentleman. Since 1958, I have coached 50 teams. This of course being the 50th. Why at the age of 75 I have chosen 5th and 4th graders -- I don't know -- everyone thinks I am crazy.

This guy has obviously been around the block so I trust his coaching. He's also "mature" and I know some other folks of his generation that have low tolerance and high expectations. What to do? This is a parenting dilemma I have become very familiar with over the past ten years. I know there are certain words that will likely never be used to describe my son. These include mellow, calm or laid-back. It can be hard for people to see this body-function humor loving, unfocused, whirling dervish as a bright young boy with a sweet heart and deep mind. So here was my response -

Thank you for your note. We appreciate your confidence in [he who is spirited] and would very much like to work together for the best outcome for everyone. [he who is spirited] has sensory integration dysfunction. We cannot control this. We've been working with him since before he could walk via occupational therapy. This is however something he needs to work with and he has made tremendous progress year after year. As parents, our job is to advocate for him and guide him to be the best person he can be. We always appreciate it when others understand that [he who is spirited] looks the same as other kids his age, but his neurological system operates a bit differently. We want him to be afforded all the opportunities everyone wants for their children and we believe in him working hard for these opportunities. We have talked with [he who is spirited] about the importance of teamwork, good sportmanship and respect. He wants to be on the team and has agreed to work harder. He has told us - prior to your note - that he is getting teased about his shorts being "too short". Not sure if this is 100% accurate, but we ask that you and the assistants please watch for and address any teasing (anyone, not just [he who is spirited] ). Thank you again and we look forward to working with you.

November 16, 2009

Here We Go Again

Sassy made her school Jr Olympic Volleyball team (JO)! So lucky you, lots more volleyball posts to come after the first of the new year!

November 15, 2009

Ethics

I finally did it! Oy vey that was a hard paper. Academic writing is very different than business writing. Professors want tons of (psycho) analysis and profound insight. Here are excerpts from the final -

I feel confident in my value of authenticity and desire to lead with integrity; however, recognize growth is essential for effective leadership. My goal is to regularly engage others in ethical conversations within my organization. I will ask what rights and virtues we think are at stake in the choices we consider. I will ask whose interests are supported by the decisions we make. I will ask what our duties are to the members we serve.

I saw a sign in a high school gymnasium many years ago that read “character is what you do when no one is watching.” My interpretation of “taking the high road” is aligning my actions with my values regardless if someone is watching or not. This is exercising ethical leadership.

November 14, 2009

Work It

I am working to ...
- finish my ethics paper (God bless an extension)
- finish my group project (God bless three other women, their work ethic and positive spirit)
- finish a work presentation for Monday
- relax and enjoy life

November 13, 2009

Friday the 13th

I heart Friday the 13th. I was married on one 22+ years ago (on purpose) and I happen to think it's a very lucky day.

In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve signs of the zodiac, twelve hours of the clock, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, twelve gods of Olympus, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper, that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.

November 12, 2009

A Decade


Dear Chunky, I can't believe my ten pound baby is ten years old today! How did a whole decade go by already? You are my super-spirited only son. One-third of the great loves of my life (Daddy and Sassy of course being the other two). I think you were the most wished-for baby ever. We had given up trying after years of infertility and a miscarriage. In a last ditch effort, I tried acupuncture, herbs and the Atkins diet all in the month of February 1999 - voila, nine months later a little toeheaded miracle entered our lives! You were a big, happy baby like Sassy, but unlike Sassy you were VERY cuddly. I wanted to drink in every part of you - your smell, your soft skin, the sweet little sounds you made. You outgrew the bassinet I kept by our bedside within two weeks. Like Sassy, you slept through the night at 5 weeks and if you didn't get your naps in there was heck to pay for all. You could sleep anywhere and we brought you everywhere. You were quite a load to carry though. You started walking at 10 months and never looked back.


Dressing up is one of your favorite activies. Sassy had a large basket of playclothes in her room and you were always rummaging in there. I bought you capes, pjs and costumes to keep you supplied with fresh material. One of my favorite photos of you is in batman pjs with a bow & arrow. Another is a lion costume with snorkel gear. And who doesn't love a penguin? You've always had a strong creative side. You LOVE going to the Children's Theater with Grandma G and I can definitely see you being an actor someday.


Dad is your favorite person. Papa and both Grandmas are close seconds.


You are currently in a love-hate phase of your sibling relationship with Sassy. You always wanted to sleep in her room when you were younger and we had to bribe you to start sleeping in your own bed at age three. You two have always protected one another and I hope that will continue your whole lives. I'll never forget the time we were discussing Sassy eventually going to college at the dinner table - you were about four or five. You started silently crying and when we asked why, you said you never wanted Sassy to leave. At another dinner conversation Sassy was describing something funny she'd done that day and your Dad and I called her a dork. With fierce defensiveness you exclaimed, "she's not a dork, she's beautiful!".


Your favorite non-human is Maddie Rose. You were two years old when she became part of our family and the two of you have been joined at the hip ever since. Maddie follows you wherever you go and sleeps in your bed every night.


You love nature and being outdoors - water, trees, hills, valleys, flowers and yes, even butterflies :) Your favorite foods are chocolate milk, noodles, anything cinnamon, pears and apples. You have an abundance of energy, are extremely bright and inquisitive. You are loyal and a quick, but deep thinker. You like tv (too much), basketball, math, science and reading a good book series (currently Fablehaven and Diary of a Wimpy Kid). Though we've had our battles of will, challenges with boundaries and constantly need to work on focusing your energy, we love you just the way you are.

HAPPY 1oth BIRTHDAY CHUNKY MONKEY!!!

November 11, 2009

Poppy Day

I'm a huge supporter of all those that have fought, and continue to fight, for the freedoms we Americans enjoy. Thank you to all who serve and happy Veteran's Day!

The poppy's significance to Remembrance Day is a result of Canadian military physician John McCrae's poem "In Flanders Fields:. The poppy emblem was chosen because of the poppies that bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their red colour an appropriate symbol for the bloodshed of trench warfare. An American YMCA Overseas War Secretaries employee, Moina Michael, was inspired to make silk poppies based on McCrae's poem. She then made an effort to have the poppy adopted as a national symbol of remembrance, and succeeded in having the National American Legion Conference adopt it two years later.

November 10, 2009

Bangs

Yep, I got myself some bangs yesterday. I feel very Jennifer Garner-esque. Sassy obtained her driver's permit yesterday. Let's pray there aren't any "bangs" in her future!

November 9, 2009

World Freedom Day

November 9th is World Freedom Day to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Also on this day in history -

  • 1620 – Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower sight land at Cape Cod, Massachusetts
  • 1887 – The United States receives rights to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
  • 1906 – Theodore Roosevelt is the first sitting President of the United States to make an official trip outside the country to inspect progress on the Panama Canal
  • 1913 – The Great Lakes Storm of 1913, the most destructive natural disaster ever to hit the lakes, destroys 19 ships and kills more than 250 people
  • 1918 – Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany abdicates after the German Revolution, and Germany is proclaimed a Republic
  • 1921 – Albert Einstein is awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work with the photoelectric effect
  • November 9th is often called Germany's Schicksalstag (day of fate) due to the events of 1848, 1918, 1923, 1938, and 1989

November 8, 2009

Festivities


Today was Chunky's 10th birthday party (actual day is the 12th). In a word it was FUN! Full of family, friends and food! The "burger and fries" were a hit and actually easy to make - just takes a bit of time to get it all together.


Chunky's favorite part was present time. I think he looks a little like Richard Nixon in this photo. VERY SCARY!

Many thanks to everyone who came - it was so nice to see you all and thank you for a lovely day!

November 7, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

What have I been up to when not cruising Wikipedia for each days' fascinating historical events?
  • I have new job responsibilities (in addition to my old ones of course).
  • My mother is coming to town tomorrow.
  • I'm making these for Chunky's birthday party the day after tomorrow. I am not making the cute little trays and holders. Goodbye Martha - Hello Marley. I figure that's a good white trash version of Martha and I am naughty and neurotic, but adorable like the dog (as in Marley & Me).
  • I have an ethics paper due in four days and really haven't started. I send myself notes so I could say I have an outline but that would probably be stretching it. I guess you could say I am ethically challenged.
  • I partied like a rock star the night before last and still have been a) close to passing out at any moment, b) chomping on antacids like they were Halloween candy, and c) craving a good bloody mary. As my Grandma P said, "it's hell getting old."

November 6, 2009

Who Wears Short Shorts?

I've been informed it's uncool to wear short shorts. As in shorts that show your knees. Especially to basketball practice. Who has time to know all these things?!

November 5, 2009

Must See

This is Thursday which means must see TV. Don't judge me. And don't call!
7:00 The Vampire Diaries
8:00 The Office
8:30 30 Rock
9:00 Project Runway

November 4, 2009

Love is

Love is what makes two people sit in the middle of a bench when there is plenty of room at both ends.

Happy 48th Anniversary B&G!

November 3, 2009

Stand and Deliver

This is one of my favorite songs, circa 1981. Don't judge me. No Doubt sang it along with Paramore in their second encore (wicked awesome concert by the way).

Adam Ant (born Stuart Leslie Goddard, 3 November 1954) is an English musician, who gained popularity as the lead singer of New Wave/post-punk group Adam and the Ants and later as a solo artist, scoring ten UK top ten hits between 1979 and 1983, including three No.1s. Goddard was also a star in America where he not only scored a string of hit singles and albums, but was once voted sexiest man in America by the viewers of MTV.

November 2, 2009

All Souls Day

On this day in history (personal favorites) -
  • 1889 - North and South Dakota are admitted as the 39th and 40th U.S. states
  • 1898 - Cheerleading is started at the University of Minnesota (football)
  • 1920 - KDKA of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania starts broadcasting as the first commercial radio station. The first broadcast is the result of the U.S. presidential election.
  • 1930 - Haile Selassie is crowned emperor of Ethiopia
  • 1936 - The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is established
  • 1936 - The British Broadcasting Corp initiates the BBC Television Service, the world's first regular, high-definition (then defined as at least 200 lines) service. Renamed BBC1 in 1964, the channel still runs to this day.
  • 1959 - After being struck in the face with an ice hockey puck, goalkeeper Jacques Plante returns to play wearing a protective mask for the first time in professional play
  • 1983 - U.S. President Ronald Reagan signs a bill creating Martin Luther King Jr Day
  • 1865 - Warren G. Harding, 29th President of the United States is born. The good and the bad -
    Known as a "good fellow," Harding enjoyed being liked more than he prized being a good leader. Most historians regard Harding as the worst President in the nation's history. In the end, it was not his corrupt friends, but rather, Harding's own lack of vision that was most responsible for the tarnished legacy. Decidedly conservative on trade and economic issues, Harding favored pro-business government policies. He allowed Andrew Mellon to push through tax cuts for the rich, stopped antitrust actions, and opposed organized labor. Harding advocated civil rights for all Americans including African Americans in a 1921 speech. He suggested appointing African Americans to federal positions and was willing to sign an anti-lynching bill. Harding also advocated the establishment of an international commission to improve race relations between Whites and African Americans. However, severe political opposition prevented any of these initiatives.

November 1, 2009

National Blog Posting Month

I have nothing better to do this month* so have decided to blog every day for the next 30 days. This is known as NaBloPoMo. Enjoy - or see you December 1st!

* besides host a birthday party for my 10 year old son, host my mother for a week long visit, write two grad school papers, prepare for and host Thanksgiving, taxi children to volleyball/basketball practices, chair a PTA meeting, teach my 15 year old daughter to drive and work 40 hours a week that is.

October 31, 2009

Happy Haunting



It's chilly in the arctic (39°F), but at least it's not raining or worse, snowing. We had the ILs over for white chicken chili yum before Hubby and Chunky went out. The rest of us waited for Sassy's boyfriend - evidently his mother was checking his homework. Do other parents do that for their teenagers? He finally arrived for the inevitable 20 questions and off they went. I handed out candy for awhile but it was mostly older kids. I miss the little kid stages - princesses, pirates and Disney characters. My kids say that's so "uncool". Now the darker, more macabre, the merrier.

How did we go from this -


to this in four short years?

October 29, 2009

Driving Miss Sassy

Sassy drove for the first time tonight. I picked her up from driver's ed and surprised her by bringing her up to the gradeschool parking lot while Chunky was inside for basketball practice. He "made" the 5th grade team as a 4th grader - no tryouts, just needed more players. Sassy did fairly well, only a few curb swipes. I knew stopping was going to take some practice, but I really should have worn something thicker where the seat belt hits - I'm pretty sure I have bruises. It was all good though - she's got to start somewhere sometime.

Minnesota Dreamin'


October 26, 2009

Photo Shoot

I am bound and determined to send out Christmas cards with photos AT Christmastime this year unlike last year when I ended up sending Easter cards :)

My friend and co-worker Emily is starting a photography business and offered to do a photo shoot with the kids. It was a little chilly but the local park was a beautiful setting with the leaves changing colors and some sun. I was a bit of a stage mom at first (stop hitting your brother, quit acting like a dork), but loosened up after awhile. The photos turned out awesome! They're all so good - it's definitely a tough choice.

Thank you for putting up with us Emily!

October 25, 2009

Sassy Story #1

Sassy attended a montessory-style "center" from age two through kindergarten. She absolutely thrived there (Chunky, um not so much - but that's another story). I recommend it highly and one of the things Sassy liked most was the weekly field trips. The school is very conveniently located within proximity of two intersecting freeways. It's very close to where my husband grew up and we lived nearby. The kids almost always took a school bus for field trips and the shortest route to the nearest freeway was turning east from the center. One day when Sassy was about four or five, the bus headed west. I can't recall where they were going, but the teachers practically ran over one another when I arrived at the end of that particular day to tell me about the first 10 minutes of the bus ride. Every one of them was laughing so hard it took a few trys to get the whole story.

Just west of the center is the cemetery where hubby's grandparents are buried. Sassy saw it and yelled, "There's my cemetery!" I'm sure everyone was impressed. Just west of that was our bank where my BFF (and Sassy's godmother) worked. So only a minute later, Sassy yelled, "There's my bank!" Again, everyone was duly fascinated. Just west of that was a business we knew well - it was owned by hubby's best friend's family (the friend now owns it) and hubby was welcome in "the back" when he visited. As soon as she recognized it, Sassy jumped from her seat and exclaimed with great glee, "And there's my liquor store! My dad is there ALL the time!" We are legend at that center.

October 24, 2009

Scarred

I wasn't sure what to name this post - Scarred for Life or Goodwill.

This morning hubby and I were discussing our plans for the day while Chunky was outside picking up doggie doo. I mentioned that I may drop some things off at Goodwill. Evidently this got hubby in a "charitable" mood and next thing you know we were making hot fudge sundaes. This is the point at which Chunky barged into our bedroom. I should note the door was closed, tight. He says he may never be the same.

October 23, 2009

Cute Cherubs

I took a half day today to work on my school assignments - group project and another paper. I couldn't help myself though - I just had to stop by MPB's house to see [my] baby Nora. She had on the most adorable pink sweater onesie with argyle pattern. I could eat her up she is so cute. Speaking of cute, here's a photo of Chunky and my BFF's youngest, Eva. BFF and her three girls came to one of Sassy's games a couple of weeks ago. Eva is a sassy, spirited ham. Everyone - people we didn't even know - remarked how cute she is. Good thing! Chunky was so super spirited in his younger days that I would say it was a good thing he was cute or he'd be out on the curb. I also said he was cutest when he was sleeping. Parents can say things like that - we live the challenges with love in our hearts. Now I simply refer to him as "the cherub".

October 21, 2009

La Vida Loca

It's pretty much the same old crazy around here.

Sassy's team won the last game of the season. Yeah! She's #14.

Today was Sassy's first day of driver's ed. gulp! She'll be 16 in February so we figured it was probably time. She informed me she needs at least 7 hours a week practice in the car before she can take her permit test. I. AM. NOT. READY.

Chunky is doing his thing - between Club Penguin, reading his favorite book and building a model car, he barely fit in time to carve a pumpkin. I'm not sure what's going on here. I'm thinking it's either a sidelight or very symmetrical scar.

I'm half way through my first grad class! My first paper was due two days ago - I submitted at 11:20pm. Nothing like getting it in under the wire. My second paper is due next week. Guess what I'll be doing this weekend?!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!

October 16, 2009

Colds (and the cold) Suck

I have been absent from blogland for an extended period as I battle a hellacious cold. I got a flu shot (regular not H1N1) last week and the very next morning my throat was really sore. It was downhill from there. I'm feeling more human with each passing day, but Peter, Paul & Mary I didn't know someone could have so much gunk in their nose/head. I sound like a dying goose when I blow my nose.

It is cold and rainy (sometimes snowy) - earlier in the season than normal though this is the arctic. I hear El Nino is making a comeback but won't believe it 'til I see it. Not a lot of other things to report. Sassy's team won their second to last game of the regular season so just one more to go. I believe they're B Squad conference champs. I bought Chunky another Halloween house kit, but one of the furry kids got into it and ate the gingerbread and powdered frosting right out of the bag. I went to the grocery store last night and one of my purchases was bite-sized candy bars for my work candy jar. I should have acted on my intuition to leave the candy in the car, but was lazy and left it on the counter. That was dessimated within two hours of being home. Geesh, some people's kids. I have class tonight, coffee with my BFF tomorrow morning (my lovely niece plays violin for the Minnesota Youth Symphony and practices nearby), my mom comes home from Italy so we'll be catching up by phone, and I'm making apple squares with my in-laws on Sunday. It will be a fun-filled, action-packed weekend. Oh, and my first grad school paper final is in three days. My professor wrote a note on my draft that I have a tendency to use run-on sentences. Picky, picky.

October 10, 2009

Vengeance

Sassy's team had another pairing against their main rivals (remember this post last month?) two days ago and it was not pretty. They lost. Bad. This has been their only regular season loss (they came in second at a tourney last weekend). Fast forward to today - tournament with four teams, including the rival and the team they came back from behind to beat earlier this week. They won all four matches!

I've noticed some bad sportsmanship lately - by parents! On Sassy's team and others. It's disappointing. I'm a vocal supporter, but I just don't think it necessary to yell derogatory remarks about the other team or to make it seem like a lost point is a failure. You can't win all of the time and you never know when someone from the other side may be your friend, neighbor, coworker or in a position to render aid someday. Lighten up, Francis.

What am I going to post about when the high school volleyball season is over? Well the JO volleyball season is right around the corner and Chunky starts basketball in December. One of these days I'll post some deep thoughts. I've been pretty busy studying and writing papers for my grad course as well as some revelations at work that are timely given my study of leadership and ethics. LOTS to think about. I'll admit I've reached the point where I'm a bit weary and overwhelmed - I tend to overthink anyway, buy now my brain is on overload. Add to that a hellacious cold and my head just hurts all the time. Someone out there is calling me a whiner. Don't judge me!

October 7, 2009

How 'bout them ...

Polars!
Sassy's team remains undefeated as they made an AMAZING comeback tonight. They lost the first set by 11 points (25-14) and I figured they were done - they were just completely off. They were losing the second set 24-17 and came back to win 28-26 (sets play to 25 points but must be won by two points which means they clawed back 7 straight points to tie and then won one back for every one the other team won). They won the third set 15-10 with Sassy winning 8 of those 15 points!

Twins!
Following Sassy's game we went out to eat and catch the Twins vs. Detroit Tigers game for the AL Central championship. It was a nail biter through 12 innings and it looked like the Twins were going to give it to them on a silver platter when the bases were loaded in the 11th. Way to go Twinkies!

October 6, 2009

Not So Favorite Things

Edible Craft Projects - No sign of the haunted house today. We think the furry inhabitants of our home ate it (we just pay the bills). Not one crumb to be found.

Headbands - I cannot get these things to stay on my head for the life of me. I've tried every kind imaginable. And if I do get one to stick, I have a blazing headache a couple of hours later. Is my head mishhapen or are these things just pure evil?!

Gum - I have a love/hate relationship with this treat and I'm currently in the hate phase. Two words: intestinal gas. It's not pretty I know, but we've all had it so let's not be pretencious okay?

Puppy Press-On Nails - In a moment of desparation at attempting to save the beautiful hardwood floors when we moved to our new (old) house, I purchased these. Bad idea. For the record, I only bought them in black.

Twitter - I think it's a cult. I just don't think any good can come from constantly updating others about my goings-on or whereabouts. It's bad enough I've asked people to read this blog!

October 5, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things

Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse Foundation - I have porcelain (okay, ghostly) skin and have a hard time finding foundation to match. I've been using the lightest shade of Bare Escentuals for the past few years and like it very much, but sometimes I want something with a bit more coverage without being cakey. This stuff is light and has a wide spectrum of shades. The price is nice too. I found this in Sassy's makeup bag while on our Up North vacation (ah, the joys of five people sharing one very small bathroom - rummaging through your daughter's stuff).

Trader Joe's - What's not to like?! I love their dried fruit and trail mixes. They always have beautiful flowers for a beautiful price too. On a recent visit I scored a fresh guacamole kit - 2 avocados, 2 tomatoes, 1 onion, 1 garlic clove and 1 jalapeno pepper. It was nirvana. The Reál Sangria I enjoyed with it was excellent as well :)

Silpat Mat - Easily the best piece of kitchen equipment I've ever purchased. It makes cleanup a piece of cake! It works equally well with handmade delicacies and frozen cookie dough 'cause I'm not always channeling my inner Martha.

Crock Pot Liners - If summer means it's time to fire up the grill, then fall means it's time to simmer up the slow cooker. There is nothing like having a meal ready and waiting after a long day of work or play. These are pure genius - line your pot, throw in ingredients and cook; when all is said and done, lift out the liner and toss. Easy peasy.

Chico's - Three words: Garanimals for adults. The philosophy behind Garanimals is that by making it easy to choose coordinated outfits by themselves, children gain self-confidence. 'Nough said.

October 4, 2009

Spooky

We had a family cleaning bonanza today. The kids were sooo excited. I'm sure you can imagine. We spent the afternoon chilling, though for me that means I'll still be doing laundry 'til 10pm. Sassy took still life photos for her digital photography class and Chunky helped me decorate a bit for Halloween. He also decided to tackle a craft project. These are a cross between letting your wee one go hog wild with their creativity and volunteering for more cleaning as everything needs to be hosed down and de-gooed. If you're a mom of kids over 12 months, you know what I'm talking about. When Sassy was little I'd set her up with a mat and an apron, everything just so for collecting all the creativity that didn't make it on the desired object. With Chunky I just give the kid a roll of paper towels and tell him not to wander too far from the kitchen sink.

Craft project: Haunted Cookie House

Decorating ideas from the box -




Chunky's final product -


He's a bit of a storyteller and said he thought his house had been in a bad storm or tornado. I responded with something like "oh, that makes sense." To which he replied, "Mom, that kind of hurt my feelings." What can I say, the truth hurts sometimes and I'm all about giving him the tools he needs to be a well-adjusted adult. That and all my sugar-coating skills have been snuffed out by cleaner fumes.

October 1, 2009

Undefeated

Sassy's volleball team is undefeated! It's very exciting and Sassy's skills are improving with each game. She is a middle hitter and made great attacks tonight as well as blocks and a couple of kills. They have a tournament this weekend and just four or five more games until the end of the season. It would be nice to see them finish on top. I hope I didn't just jinx things but I don't believe in bad luck - I got married on a Friday the 13th and have a black cat (my third one no less). It's freezing here in the arctic (I know, what do you expect) - hubby finally callled it when we could see our breath and turned on the heat. Do you hear the sound of money flowing out of our front door? ch-ching. Homecoming is tomorrow night but I have class so may not have photos as hubby is not as adept at recording milestones. I say that tongue-in-cheek as I'm the mother who forgets the camera for visits with Santa. Smile kids and hold the memory in your heart :)

September 26, 2009

Good Morning Sunshine


I lived in a condo during high school, for which I am now grateful, so I don't know if this is a ha-ha prank or malicious act. I do know Sassy will be busy when she wakes up around Noon. Some guard dogs we have - not a peep out of 'em. Hubby must have experience - not sure if as a participant or recipient - because from the time our kids were old enough to see toilet papering in someone else's yard, he's told them if it ever happens at our house they will be the ones cleaning it up. It rained overnight. ewww. Is it wrong that I can hardly wait for Sassy to get up?!

September 25, 2009

Short Stories

Did you miss me? I was attending a work conference in Chicago. I am worn out - I worked almost every minute not spent listening attentively to speakers (some good, some not so much), eating or sleeping. Good times. I think I am becoming a workaholic and may need an exorcism. I do not like to arrive at the airport one moment before I absolutely have to - hospitals and airports are not my favorite hangouts. I have become so pathetic/insane that I intentionally arrived at Midway 2 1/2 hours early so I could get a "good seat" in the airport. I fly a certain airline that recently merged with another airline to form a behemoth with scant services. Another smaller airline that still allows bags to fly free has a seating area down a spell from my gate with "luxury" seating and built in electical outlets.

Flight to Chicago, $200
CTA transit card for Midway to the Loop and back, $5
2 nights at Magnificent Mile boutique hotel, $250
Comfortably sitting in the airport charging one's iPod and laptop while studying, priceless

Stay tuned for head spinning.

Now for a couple of Chunky short stories.

The other day I kicked Chunky off Club Penguin and shooed him outside to play. He met up with a [girl]friend a couple blocks over who is in his class at school. He came home hours later with two sports jerseys in hand. A neighbor of the girl's is a family from our school as well - they recognized Chunky and asked if he'd like the jerseys. He recognized them as the family who owned a cabin we stayed at last year (fundraising auction at school). They asked how the cabin stay was and he told them no one else liked it but he did. He went on to tell them they should get new beds because the ones they had were uncomfortable and there was a dead mouse in the kitchen. Have I mentioned I'm the president of the PTA at Chunky's school?!

Another day Chunky brought home a "Star Parent" form from school. Parents are encouraged to share their talents - profession and/or hobby - with the class. I had no sooner picked up the form to read it before Chunky took it out of my hand saying, "yeah, I'm going to ask Dad to do that 'cause I don't really know what you do". First thought: ouch. Second thought: yeah, I don't really know what I do either so he's a much better bet.

September 20, 2009

Mad

Have I mentioned my obsession with the show "Mad Men". LOVE it! I love the women - they have such depth - trying to make their way in the man's world of the early 1960's. I found this great article after I started writing this post and it's a great summary of the female leads. Another reason I love it is that I have a freakish obsession with Grace Kelly (I collect memorabilia including a Limoges porcelain souvenir ashtray depicting her and Prince Rainier of Monaco) and January Jones looks so much like her it's eerie. I really like the clothes - I kind of wished we still dressed like that but I'd much prefer to use today's undergarments (I heart Spanx) versus the torture shapers of the middle century.

September 19, 2009

RIP Minny

It's a beautiful day in the arctic, unfortunately it has been marred by an untimely death.

Remember when we went to the Great Minnesota Get-Together a couple of weeks ago? We visited the Butterfly pavillion and left with a caterpillar (purchased) for Chunky in hopes it would transform into a beautiful Monarch. Sure enough, within just a couple of days it spun a cocoon at the top of it's container and early today we were rewarded with a butterfly! It's little wings needed to unfurl so we took it outside and set it on one of the last hydrangea blooms. I decided to sit outside to read a book I started when we were up north (yes, I know that was two plus months ago but remember the name of the blog is "better late than never"). Chunky joined me to watch Minny the butterfly and Sassy came out as well. We decided we needed to nurture it so we prepared two paper plates - one with sugar water, the other with a mashed up banana and strawberry. Little Minny seemed more interested in taking a walk-about so we just let it be and left the "snacks" to be enjoyed at its leisure. Before long we heard the angelic sound of the ice cream truck. Chunky fetched some money from my purse and we made our selections. While I paid I asked Chunky to grab a wet wipe from inside so we could keep the mess to a minimum. He came running out of the house to collect his treat and jumped from the top of the stoop and landed - yep you guessed it - right on top of Minny. Squish! I have lots of pre-mortem pics but out of respect for the deceased I've decided not to post them at this time. A moment of silence please.

Mascot


My grad class requires that I develop a credo and metaphor to convert my leadership model into an image from which I can draw immediate inspiration. Do you think this will fly?

September 18, 2009

Can't Get It Out of My Head

The Beyonce song "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" that is. I had zero interest in this song last summer when it was released. Nothing against Beyonce, it just didn't catch my attention. Until now. I saw her perform it on the Video Music Awards Sunday night and now it is stuck, stuck, stuck. Never saw the music video but if it's anything like her performance the other night, then DAMN! that girl can move!

September 17, 2009

Abducted by Penguins

It was bound to happen ... Chunky has discovered the internet. And Club Penguin has abducted my child. OMG! What the hell is Club Penguin you ask? Come closer and I will tell you - not my words.

Club Penguin is a snow-covered, virtual world where children play games and interact with friends in the guise of colourful penguin avatars. HUH?! Players create a penguin and explore the snow-covered island of Club Penguin, engaging in a variety of fun and imaginative activities. Players can chat, send greeting cards, use emotion icons, or choose from a set of pre-defined actions such as waving or dancing. Users can also attend parties and special events, take on a role in the latest stage play, adopt and care for a cute and cuddly puffle pet, and play games to earn virtual coins which can be used to design the perfect igloo and create hundreds of outfits for their penguin. In addition to being a great place to play and have fun, Club Penguin is a great place to learn and grow. CUE CHEESY MUSIC On Club Penguin, children practice reading, develop keyboarding skills and participate in creative role playing. By accumulating and spending virtual coins earned through game play kids practice math and learn about money management. The cooperative nature of the Club Penguin environment, along with initiatives such as our secret agent and tour guide programs, also help children develop important social skills while gaining a deeper understanding of their role as members of a community. Club Penguin is designed for 6-14-year-olds but is open to all ages. New content is added every week. EVERY WEEK. OMG!

Chunky promptly told me when he arrived home today that he had a "date" with two girls from school at 7:30 on Club Penguin. WHAT?! What happened to going to the park or talking on the phone? As if there's not enough for me to worry about regarding his precious brain and moral development, now I have to compete with penguins? Good gravy!

September 13, 2009

Rivalry


Sassy's team won against the rival team for first place in the conference! I wasn't sure they were going to pull it off but they did it and Sassy played well. She's center (#14) in the pic above. One of her best friends plays for the other team but wasn't able to make it tonight - she might have H1N1. Yikes!

Firsts Photos

Awesome shoes

Hip blouse



Vine



September 12, 2009

Firsts

My first class was wonderful - great energy, terrific instructor and 14 amazing classmates with a 20-yr range in age and diverse backgrounds (only one guy in the bunch!). I was exhausted by the time I got home (after 10pm and I started work at 7:15am) but oddly energized as well. I was really looking forward to a day of rest and relaxation today. What better way to achieve that than shopping?! I went to MOA with my MIL and got the cutest blouse and funky shoes.

I felt a little guilty shopping while Sassy had a volleyball tournament, but I needed the break and the tourney was 30 miles away with an hour between each game (yawn). I sent her with lots of good luck and I think it worked because they won first place! They'll be playing one of their chief rivals (the school Sassy attended last year) on the 14th and these teams are tied for first place in the conference. Go Polars!

Another first is the only element of my backyard that doesn't make me cringe - the blooming 'sweet autumn' clematis vine we planted along the west side of the dog fence. Hubby cannot believe how much the spindly plant I brought home in early May has grown. Never fear, project backyard beautification is underway and I'm optimistic I'll be proud to share a photo of the entire backyard a year from now.

September 9, 2009

Lotus Touts 999

According to Chinese numerology, today is a very lucky day. The word nine in Mandarin is pronounce “jiu” which sounds similar to the word for longevity. So in honor of this day, I am passing along some luck. Or as the british say "Lotus Touts". I received the following via an chain email titled "Mental Feng Shui" and thought it was sound advice even though I hate chain mail. I mean HATE it. If you send me an email with some cutesy quiz and instructions to forward lest a million years of bad luck hail upon me, I will ignore it. I have a black cat AND I was married on a Friday the 13th. Ha!

ONE. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
TWO. Marry someone you love to talk to.
THREE. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.
FOUR. When you say, 'I love you,' mean it.
FIVE. When you say, 'I'm sorry,' look the person in the eye.
SIX. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.
SEVEN. Believe in love at first sight.
EIGHT. Never laugh at anyone's dreams. People who don't have dreams don't have much.
NINE. Love deeply and passionately.
TEN. In disagreements, fight fairly.
ELEVEN. Don't judge people by their relatives.
TWELVE. Talk slowly but think quickly.
THIRTEEN. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, 'Why do you want to know?'
FOURTEEN. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk. '
FIFTEEN. Say 'bless you' when you hear someone sneeze.
SIXTEEN. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
SEVENTEEN. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; and Responsibility for all your actions.
EIGHTEEN. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
NINETEEN. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
TWENTY. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
TWENTY- ONE. Spend some time alone.

September 7, 2009

The Great Minnesota Get-Together

We heart the State Fair at my house big time. I know I'm biased and haven't attended a fair in another state, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say ours is the best. Did you know President Teddy Roosevelt gave one of his most famous speeches, “Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick” in 1901 at the Minnesota State Fair?

We got up at the break of dawn yesterday - hubby likes to arrive early - so we could make the most of our day and beat the heat. There isn't a lot to do before 9am besides eat so we got henna tattoos - Sassy's is the chinese symbol for 'love', Chunky's is a shark and mine is a flower (hubby has the real deal). From there we ate our way through most every corner of the fair's 320 acres. Samplings included corn dogs, pork chops on a stick, crepes, fries, cheese curds, malts, cones, lemonades and assorted sodas. The two must-have items we didn't have room for were mini donuts and Sweet Martha's cookies. Not sure why - I feel like we let someone somewhere down though our arteries are likely rejoicing. We didn't get to the Barn Area (cattle, horses, swine, etc.) - the young'uns are past the age of getting excited by farm animals and I don't really have any interest in livestock in various stages of eating, sleeping and ahem relieving.

I forgot the camera at home (my legacy) but was able to grab a photo at the Butterfly Pavillion with Sassy's new phone:

September 4, 2009

Riddle Me This

A new network tv season is about to begin. As always, I'm excited and apprehensive. Each year I commit to at least one new show against my better judgment and just when I'm hooked it ends up being canceled [e.g. Philly (yes it's been 7 years and I'm still bitter about it), Cashmere Mafia, Swingtown, Pushing Daisies, Samantha Who]. I can't tell you how frustrating it is. This year I have the added pressure of being a student so will have to make good use of limited TV viewing time (note to self: good time to use the pilates chair collecting dust in the bedroom). I have my "must haves": Desperate Housewives, Brothers & Sisters, Dancing with the Stars, The Office and 30 Rock. Lost and 24 join the rotation after the first of the year. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays are wide open (though I DVR What Not to Wear on Fridays, I don't actually watch it until the weekend 'cause I only like the 360 mirror and finale makeover parts). Fridays will be busy with grad class, except of course on the nights I don't have it which should be spent doing family stuff or on dates with hubby. So, the big question is should I invest my time in any of the new Wednesday shows that look interesting: Hank, The Middle, Cougar Town, Eastwick? Major dilemma here.

September 3, 2009

Gobsmacked

I am overwhelmed. Volleyball season is in full swing, work is crazy busy, I have 79 things to do before my first grad class and tonight is open house at the grade school (I will be representing the PTA as president and we meet Chunky's fourth grade teacher). We need to attend The Great Minnesota Get-Together this weekend and oh yeah, school starts next week. It's embarrassing as I pride myself on our having homemade family dinners several times each week, but we've had take out every day this week - Subway, McDs, Taco Juan, Pizza. I'm ready for summer to start, not end!

September 2, 2009

Pillow Princess

My husband is a pillow snob. Every couple of years he requires a new one and he is picky with a capital "P". I usually scour to amass a selection from which he can test and select the perfect resting place for his center of intellect. This past Christmas I thought I had found the perfect gift (a feat in and of itself) - a gift certificate to make his very own pillow from the inside out. Do you think he's redeemed said gift certificate? As the saying goes, "you can lead a horse to water ..." Hubby's mother attended Sassy's first volleyball game last night and when she asked how hubby was, he went on about needing a new pillow. My mother-in-law looked at me incredulous. How had I not responded to this great need? Good gravy, I can't win.

August 30, 2009

79

It was my father-in-law's 79th birthday last week and we went out for dinner last night at one of our favorite restaurants to celebrate.


What a lovely family!


Grad school orientation went well. I bonded with another "mature" student. She's in the same program and taking the same class as I this term so it will be nice to know someone the first night. I think I have 79 things to do before the first class:
- Online Discovering Diversity Profile
- Write a Personal Best Leadership story and give oral presentation at first class
- Read the first four chapters of The Leadership Challenge
- plus two other readings

Guess how I'll be spending my free time this week and next?!