Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Baby It's Cold Outside

It's cold here in North Florida right now. It's 41 degrees and tonight it's going to drop in to the upper 20s. For this uprooted Buffalo chick turned Florida girl let's just say that 20's cold is just too cold for me. But instead of whining or complaining about it I'm going to be happy for some things instead.


  • Cold weather helps me get in to the holiday spirit. We're starting our store shopping this week (we've already shopped online) and it's much more fun when it's cold outside. Unfortunately this means Christmas Day will probably be 80 degrees. And that's just wrong. But instead of complaining about that I'll be happy that I have a 6 mile run scheduled for Christmas Day and I will not be worrying about freezing my tookus off for the first mile or two like I did on Monday when it was in the 30s and I ran 4 miles. So WIN-WIN!!

  • Cold weather means the boys get super rosy cheeks when they play outside and seriously cold noses and rosy cheeks on little kids is just adorable.

  • Hot chocolate.

  • Slippers and FUZZY socks.

  • Extra snuggles.

  • Needing my fleece blankets on the sofa because it's really cold and not just "air conditioning cold."

  • Frost on the roof tops and grass in the morning that makes the whole neighborhood glow a little.

  • The smell of fires burning in the hearth. (Not that we have a hearth anymore, nor that we ever used it to begin with.)

  • Having an excuse to wear my favorite sweatshirt of all time that Hubs absolutely hates because it's sort of ugly. I got it my Freshman year of high school when I still lived in New York. It still fits. It's worn and soft and awesome. And who isn't proud of the sport they played thier freshman year of High School? (You're not? Really?!) I mean, I got rid of my Varsity letter jacket and all but I saved this. This sweatshirt reminds me of my roots. It makes me happy. And everyone should have comfort clothing. Seriously.


 


So yeah. It's cold outside. It's all good.

Friday, November 12, 2010

We Share a Brain

In 1995 I left home to go to school at the University of Florida. Within weeks of being there I pretty much found a new circle of friends and only held on to a few friendships from High School. For the most part, the friendships I formed, or held on to, that first year of college are the friends I still call on today too.

One of the friends I kept from High School was Andrew. We were both in most of the same business classes and before pagers, cell phones and Facebook, we managed to keep in touch. It was during one of our study sessions at the library (the one by the French Fries fellow Gators!) when he first mentioned Meredith. They hadn't been dating very long, he was worried about it being long distance, and he REALLY liked this girl. I heard a lot about Meredith over the next year and when we graduated he moved back to Jacksonville, home, where she was too.

I still kept up with Andrew over the course of the next seven years. I knew he married Meredith. I knew they had a baby boy. Our families exchanged Christmas cards every year and that was pretty much it except for the big "global" emails announcing births and big news to our closest friends and family.

But then we moved to Jacksonville too. And I connected with both Andrew and Meredith, who I had yet to officially meet, on Facebook. It was three years later though when Andrew gets the idea to invite my family and another friend and her family over for dinner. I finally got to meet Meredith and the kids.

Something clicked with us that night. As Andrew will later tell you he knew we'd either love each other or hate each other. I can't even begin to tell you how glad I am that it turned out to be the former. A few weeks, maybe a month (?), later we started running together because I conned her in to running the River Run with me. (Yay me!)

And so began a friendship that was (is) dirty, sweaty, gritty, painful and raw. While we ran we talked about a lot of shit. She could finish my sentences, and I often knew what she would say before she said it. It was like we shared a brain. And that soon became our mantra. We share a brain. Sometimes it's creepy.

I can't tell you though how much I needed her to appear in my life when she did. Sure, I'd "known" her for years, over a decade in fact. I wrote out Christmas cards to her. But the timing of our face-to-face introduction and the need I think we both had in our lives for the type of friend we could truly relate to and depend on was pretty much perfect. Yes, we share a brain, but to me, well, it's more than that. Starting a friendship with her helped towards healing a lot of hurt and pain I have had. I felt... likable again, worthy of a new person meeting the me I am today and wanting to be my friend. And I think that even with the greatest of friends (and mine are wonderful) who stick by you through the thick and thin, who get that you aren't the sum total of a few encounters, that still... everyone needs to know that you can make friends as a new you. And I needed that.

At some point many of our running conversations centered around blogging, what I use it for, and how I thought she should start one too. Eventually she came up with a name, bought a domain, came up with a theme, and opened up shop. I know most of you know how scary and crazy that can be. But I think that if you read her, if you know her, you'll love her as much as I do. So go check her out.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bedtime

Every night I tuck my boys in to bed with numerous snuggles and kisses. And I say the same thing to them, a little ritual of words that started with just a few lines and was appended and adjusted as I felt I needed to throw in a life lesson or confidence booster... like "I love you every day, all the time, no matter what," or "You make me so happy and I'm so proud of you."

When I was done the other night my little Bug hugged me extra hard and said he was now ok to go to sleep because I had said it all and it helps him relax. Given that most nights he interrupts me to tell me about a random part of a game he played, or a thought he had, or an item he'd like to ask Santa for, I was beyond thrilled that perhaps my words are reaching and sticking to the deep recesses of his crazy amazing brain.

I know Bear loves what I say. If I sit for too long enjoying a quiet snuggle with him he will grab my hand and say "Say Daddy loves me. You love me..." and wait for me to start. And he nods at the right times. And when it's over I usually get the world's greatest hug and "I YUV YOU TOO!"

It's... my favorite time of day. And not because the kids are in bed and I might have a moment or two to myself. But because in those moments of quiet snuggles and daily reflections on all that we have to be thankful for, I feel like I'm (we're) doing an ok job and they're growing up loved, and safe, healthy, and happy.

Last night though I had a little meltdown while rocking Bear. I allowed myself to drift down the dark roads of "What if something happened to you (me, Bug, Hubs, etc), a road made quite real when you read blogs or know family and friends with real life heart aching losses) and I cried and cried. So I'm going to ask you, please, today, to go over to Friends of Maddie and make a donation for what would have been Maddie's 3rd birthday. Despite our grief, and fears, and losses, we have so many reasons to be thankful and hopeful. And I believe we should share that love with others who need it too.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gas Station

Dear Idiot Woman driving the huge white Cadillac SUV at the gas station just now,

You're really not smart. I know you were shocked when I asked you to turn your car off while you pumped gas, and you were in complete disbelief that pumping gas while your car was running was a fire hazard. I know you think the gigantic sign above the gas pump that says "Turn your car engine OFF while pumping gas" does not apply to you. It obviously applies to other people. You think you're very important.

But let me tell you this dear Idiot Woman. My children are more important than you. And they were at that gas station in the car I was putting gas in to. And if you were to blow yourself up with your stupidity, you could have blown them up too. So that means I get to say something to you about the lack of connections between your brain cells. I'm sorry, but that's just the truth. And I was really nice about it. Honestly. I know when I'm being bitchy. And this time? Totally wasn't!

I also know you thought you were being super cute when you told me "I guess it wasn't my day" as you drove away. But that also showed your lack of brain power honey. You do know the day's not over yet, right?

Love,
Me

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Space Between

It starts as a tiny blur in my vision. And I blink, rub my eyes, hold my breath and look again.

Then there is dread, panic, nausea. It is fear, and loathing. I am powerless to stop it completely.

I rush to ingest the meds. The cocktail of drugs, prescription and over the counter pain relievers, that eventually bring relief.

And I wait. I wait with my eyes closed for the aura to pass and the world to focus.

I wait for the rolling waves of nausea to stop as I will the dry heaves to remain dry heaves because I hate to vomit.

Then the pain starts, throbbing inside head, crashing in to my skull as I try counter-pressure techniques to hold my head in place.

I am lost somewhere in the space between consciousness and sleep, in a time warp of deep meditative breathing and controlled visualizations. I float on the surface of water, above, and somehow outside, the weighted pain that threatens to pull me under and consume me.

Eventually I am functional. Just functional though, until the migraine hangover releases its grip and I am back in control again.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Master of None.

I'm struggling.

And I'm thriving.

I work best under pressure. My best papers, highest quality projects, best retention on studying have always been done at the last minute.

When I have more to do I am at the top of my game.

But my lack of confidence threatens the careful balance of keeping so many balls harmoniously juggled in the air.

It doesn't help that I'm battling injury (again) and off my work-out routine.

I just don't feel like I'm good at anything. Or rather, I'm good at a lot of things. But I don't excel at anything.

I try so hard to talk myself out of every negative emotion I have towards myself. I wish I could let go and allow myself to just feel whatever it is I want to feel. I get caught up in the "you shouldn't feel this way because..." rationalizations in my mind. I can step through "well this happened today that was different and then that caused *this* to happen" ... and why the hell should I freaking care? Action. Reaction. LEARN. MOVE ON. LIVE. You should listen in on the conversations I have in my head where I'm always trying to figure out what should be the high road and take it.

I've got to get out of my head.

Master of None.

I'm struggling.

And I'm thriving.

I work best under pressure. My best papers, highest quality projects, best retention on studying have always been done at the last minute.

When I have more to do I am at the top of my game.

But my lack of confidence threatens the careful balance of keeping so many balls harmoniously juggled in the air.

It doesn't help that I'm battling injury (again) and off my work-out routine.

I just don't feel like I'm good at anything. Or rather, I'm good at a lot of things. But I don't excel at anything.

I try so hard to talk myself out of every negative emotions I have towards myself. I wish I could let go and allow myself to just feel whatever it is I want to feel. I get caught up in the "you shouldn't feel this way because..." rationalizations in my mind. I can step through "well this happened today that was different and then that caused *this* to happen" ... and why the hell should I freaking care? Action. Reaction. LEARN. MOVE ON. LIVE. You should listen in on the conversations I have in my head where I'm always trying to figure out what should be the high road and take it.

I've got to get out of my head.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Memories

Sometimes I wonder what my kids will remember about the things we do together now.

Lately I've had a lot of flashbacks to when I was a kid. I remember things like my Dad going in to work on Saturdays because the office was quiet and he could concentrate. And he'd take me with him and let me sit in someone else's office to do my homework and pretend to work. Back then calculators with the paper rolls were the rage. (Were there rages about office equipment?) And he made sure I got to sit in an office that had one. I remember the long, long, narrow hallway of office doors and around the corner a single water fountain near the boss's office. I remember the rooms of drafting tables, of blue printed engineering designs - some rolled up in stacks, others spread out to be examined. I wondered what work I would do when I grew up.

I remember my mom teaching me to sew, first with just a needle and thread, making little pillows and change purses and accessories for dress up with scrap fabric from her bins. Later she let me use her sewing machine. She made so many dresses for us.

I remember how my mom drove my sister and I home after a long day spent at a family friend's house. We drove home in a complete white out, one of the worst snow storms I can ever remember. The normal 90 minute drive turned in to several hours. We drove in a tiny Honda Civic and I was terrified. My sister and I sat silently, barely breathing for fear of distracting our mother. But she made it home. She says the only way she did it was because she knew every inch of the back roads we were driving. She knew where every curve was supposed to be, where every dip was. She knew her car, she was present. I am still in awe of how she held it together, how calm she was, how she reassured us we'd be fine. She always kept it together. She made me feel safe.

I remember scaring my father once, hiding behind a wall and jumping out at him when he came through the doorway. I learned then how much my father hated being startled. And I never did it again. Only now, after recently learning about why he has chronic ringing in his ears, do I wonder if the two things are related.

And my mother used to play her records loudly when she cleaned. Our home didn't have central air so we always had the windows opened. Well if I got off the school bus and heard Linda Ronstadt blasting from the windows, I walked very slowly up the driveway to prolong the inevitable "I saved cleaning the ... just for you!"

I remember Dad grilling hamburgers and all of us eating outside on the patio with lemonade and fresh corn on the cob, and my mom taking us shopping for new school clothes every August. I can also still hear her voice calling me in from playing outside as the last of the sun's rays faded from the sky.

I close my eyes and am transported back in time to a wonderful childhood. It is a movie in my mind that I can pause, skip around, and replay often. So many memories are random and I can't help but wonder what little things Hubs and I are doing now that our children will remember years later? Will it be the daily little things or just the big special things?

Will they remember how I lost my cool at the end of the day, after they didn't nap and it was dinner time and their whining crescendoed in the kitchen as I prepared their meal? Or will they remember that I counted to 10 and then as they ate I played rhyming games with them and we made silly faces and laughed? Will they remember playing train tracks or cars or building marble machines or water tube contraptions? Or will it be the constant prodding to "hurry up" and "get moving" in the morning as we balance a non-morning-person mommy with two slow poke children and a clock to beat to get to school on time?

My memories are of warmth and love, and are very special. I want theirs to be too.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fear

I live with fear.

I say "with fear" as opposed to "in fear" so as not to convey that I am crippled by it, that is consumes me. But it haunts me at times. It sits there on my shoulder as the fabled Devil in a battle between good and evil. Fear is definitely evil.

Fear is what sits like a weight in my stomach when my karate students tell me about the gangs in their schools or the bullies at their bus stops. It's knowing that my boys still have to grow up and go through school. It's the worry that they will know only the angst of a broken heart from a first love, and not from the anticipation of a punch from looking at the wrong someone the wrong way. Fear is hoping I raise my children well enough that they will run with the right crowd, that they will care about making it home by curfew, that they will think to call home to say hi to their mother.

Fear is the chill of uncertainty down my spine as I say the words "I will always be there for you" when I know that someday I won't. And when I'm gone, by some freak accident, illness or old age, will they all know how much I loved them? Will I have done enough so their memories will carry them through lives with joy and hope, confident in who they are as wonderful, smart, funny, beautiful people? Will they know how happy they made me?

I am so happy.

Fear is the little voice inside that says to lock the car doors, lock the garage door, set the alarm and hawk my children in the parking lots and stores. Fear is a freak accident and no time to say goodbye. Fear is losing everything and everyone I love dearly. Fear is being forgotten.

And I am temporary.

We are all temporary.

So I live with fear.

Because I live with love.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Options for None

"Step out left, 90 degrees, to left forward stance left lower block. HUT! Step through to right forward stance, right lunge punch. HUT! 180 degree turn behind, front foot moves clockwise, stepping out with right forward stance right lower block. HUT! Step through left forward stance, left lunge punch. HUT!"

Don't forget to bend your front knee. Can you see your big toe?

Back leg straight.

Hips forward.

Both hands load up strong for the block.

Turn your front foot in.

Step strong! You're in a fight!

Snap your head! Look where you're going. Eyes up!

*****

I didn't have to think through any of that. It's as automatic for me to teach kata to karate students as it is for me to wash my hair first in the shower. I can zone out while I watch a group of students performing techniques but really that is when I'm in my prime. That's when I can figure out their body mechanics and hone in on what is causing them to do moves incorrectly and fix them.

Like tonight a girl was punching more like an arm swing rather than a straight shot. And it wasn't because she didn't now how to move her fist. It was because her elbow moved first, drifted off her body and, you know how that kids' song goes, the elbow bone's connected to the wrist bone. So by correcting the right piece of the system, the whole system works effectively.

What the hell does this all even mean?

I have no idea.

It's a big, fat metaphor for life right? Step back, find out what's not working and why. Fix the why, step back, look again, let it ride, tweak some more. Small changes in the right places can mean huge improvements. But you have to know how to find the right places.

Tonight another student asked us if we were ever going to be Masters. While I have learned to never say never, the likelihood of that ever happening is not something I'd bet my house on. I did manage not to laugh out loud though.

So if I'm not on track for that (or on track for really anything), what's the point of still going, still showing up, still putting in the time to teach and promote the martial arts?

Later elbow girl told us she was practicing her self-defense with her father and she started the "what if?" game with us. "What if he grabs my other hand? What do I do? What if he kicks me? What do I do?" I love those types of questions. That's when you know you've got a student who is excited. Or maybe scared. Or both. Oh man, yeah, teaching self-defense is probably the #1 reason I am still teaching karate. Not only do I feel like I am helping people, but I freaking LOVE doing it. The "what if?" questions from students fuel my brain and keep me trying to learn more.

We had to tell elbow girl that you have to crawl before you can run. And that the things we teach have to be practiced (a lot), that sometimes things don't work the first time and you have to try something else, but we'll teach her (or anyone) more than one way to get out something. And giving up is not an option.

Giving up is not an option.

How's that for another big, fat life metaphor?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What Would You Do?

Yesterday we stopped for gas on the way to visit family for lunch. While I pumped gas and spaced out in the Florida heat, Hubs called out to me to look over at the pickup truck at another pump across the lot. At first glance all I saw was a man and a young, maybe 10 year old boy. Then I saw the baby. She was maybe 9 months old and she was sitting on the boy's lap. I looked at Hubs and said "maybe her car seat is in the back?" His response? "In that pickup truck?" To my dismay I realized that it was not an extended cab truck. Hubs commented that there were three of them and no child safety seat for the infant. Then I realized there was a very large woman who was hidden by the gas pump. So that made 2 very large adults, 1 young boy and a baby to fit in a two-seater (i.e. only 2 seat belts) truck. And we watched in horror as the man got in the driver's seat, forcing the boy with the baby in his lap to straddle the middle area, then the woman got in the passenger seat. As they started to drive away I told Hubs to get their license plate while I searched for a pen in the mess of my car.

We ended up calling the Florida Highway Patrol to report them. They took the information and then transfered me to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, who also took the info. I have no idea if they took me seriously or not.

That truck happened to be headed in the same direction as us and we followed them for a good 15 miles before they pulled off in to a shopping plaza and we continued on. I was hoping, so hoping, to see a cop car zoom up and bust them. I wanted to know that my phone call made a difference and that baby would be safe.

I realize that the family may not have been able to afford a bigger car or a car seat. I realize that nothing will probably come of my phone call. And I know that everyone has problems and issues and most of the time we do the best we can with what we've got. But I draw the line at driving with a 9 month old child sitting across your lap as you drive down a very busy, fast highway.

Would you say anything to this family? Would you call to report them also? Would you turn your back and ignore them?

I am so afraid I am going to read about this in the local paper.

"Baby Not Secured In A Safety Seat Ejected From Truck In Minor Traffic Accident Dies At Scene."

This makes me sick to my stomach.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Not Fiction

I've been home for several days. Back to the daily grind. Back to work. Back to the kids. Back to teaching karate twice a week. Back to exercising and staying up too late in an attempt to find "me time," all the while forgetting that sometimes the best "me time" is to sleep. Yeah, I don't get enough sleep. And I never seem to have enough time to write.

NYC and BlogHer was a really great experience for me even though I did not buy a knock off hand bag. Years of heartbroken disappointment after annual meet-ups with another organization taught me to know my limits, to set realistic expectations, and to accept myself for who I am, not who I think I want to be.

The people I expected to be awesome were awesome. So awesome in fact I commented to them, at the end of the weekend, in a quiet moment when some of us were in the same space but surfing Twitter or the Interwebz from our phones, that I was so happy it was so comfortable with them. That it was like walking away from my computer screen and an awesome Twitter conversation, and in to real life and an equally awesome conversation face to face. It flowed naturally and being around them was just easy. And I love them. They inspire me in different, simple and wonderful ways.

There was a little drama, but I expected drama. I was a little dismayed that at one party many women looked down their noses towards me because I was not already a part of their crowd. My attempts at conversation were thwarted early. But that's ok. After listening quietly for a short while I knew the loss was theirs, not mine. And I left happy to have spent an evening one-on-one with the friend who I attended the party with.

I sang karaoke at a real karaoke place. And for someone who sings a lot and sings fairly well, someone who has acted on stage and sang solos, I was terrified. But it was very late, I was tired, and I am glad the music was loud to sort of drown out my voice, the flashing glittery globe masking my jitters. I am grateful for friends who cared more that I was there than what my voice sounded like.

I met a lot of amazing new people. Several made me laugh, laugh, laugh out loud. Hard. I enjoyed honest conversation with others. I found the nerve to tweet Linda and ask her if I could find her and say hello. (And whoa I was a total dork) I did not find the nerve to introduce myself to others. I hugged Heather twice. And it was all ok. I am happy.

I am also incredibly grateful for a friend back home who held my hand virtually on Friday when I was so overwhelmed with the size of the conference and the constant "go-go-go" of an over scheduled day.

My fondest memories of the conference are not of the parties nor the 3 boxes of loot en route somewhere between NYC and here. They are not of the panels or the elevator hell. They are of the people. The smiles. The hugs, however brief the moments we caught them. Knowing that those I think are so awesome on Twitter and their blogs are really amazingly real, and not just fiction. I needed to know they were not just fiction.

Pictures to prove it!

I capped the weekend visiting with friend I have known since I was eight. The last time I saw her was her wedding seven years ago. She brought her young daughters to the city to spend only a couple hours together with me. And despite the seven years with scarce (if any?) phone calls (but annual birthday emails), we picked up right where we left off, caught up, moved forward, reconnected, and created new memories. Seeing her was like a piece of my heart finding its way back home again. There is something special, very, very special, knowing the comfort of that kind of friendship.

I will go again to this conference. It might not be next year but I will go again. There are many more of you who couldn't go, didn't want to go, or chose not to go. I want to meet you too. I want to know that you are real and not fiction.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Take Me Back to Manhattan, Take Me Back to New York

Anyone know what musical my post title comes from?

So in two days, TWO, I will be headed to NYC for BlogHer. I only know one person there in real life. But I've met some great people through this blog and Twitter and many of them will be there too. I'm not going to kid you, I'm excited. This is a big deal for me.

I love NYC. It scares the pants off me (you know, crime) but I LOVE the energy there. I love the crazy skyline, I love the water. I spent summer vacations as a little girl, on Long Island, driving through the city on the way there from Buffalo and back, spending time with my family there. I went with my high school music group, and saw my first Broadway play (Cats) there. I've been up the Empire State Building, to the Statue of Liberty, Madison Square Garden, and several museums. I have stood at Ground Zero a year after 9/11 and cried. I love New York City.

Yes, part of this trip is about business for me. Marketing is my thing. I'm attending sessions about things I can bring back and use for what I do. But this trip is about more than that to me. This is my attempt to put myself out there again. To make friends who don't have any preconceived ideas about what I may have been like when I was 18 and young and naive, or when I ran a karate school and didn't mind sticking my neck out against higher ranks if I truly believed the cause I was standing up for. To meet people as who I am now, with my strong personality, my integrity, and my heart-on-my-sleeve-completely-non-poker-face face. I'm excited to meet you all too.

I am going to feel insecure. I won't lie. My heart is going to feel like it will pound of out my chest at times. But I am going to be smiling. I am going to laugh. I'm going to have eyeballs the size of saucers as I take it all in and enjoy it. I am going to appreciate the opportunity I have to go and remember to thank everyone I come in to contact with who helped put it together. I am probably going to be a huge dork.

But that's ok.

I give really good hugs.

And I want to give a lot of them while I'm there.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Own HGTV Day (without the actual HGTV)

We bought the home we live in almost four years ago. When we toured it I knew immediately I wanted to buy it but I humored Hubs and viewed a few more just so we were sure this was the one. (I was sure, he wasn't.) There were a few things we didn't like about the house and knew we needed to fix up.

The major thing on our list was removing the fireplace.



I am happy to say the fireplace is gone.

It's not like we need a fireplace in Florida. They look nice (when they are installed/maintained/updated correctly) and those nights, one, maybe two a year when it's cold, well they are nice to have. But totally not necessary and certainly not needed as a giant room divider.

Watching the workers remove the fireplace in less than 30 minutes was crazy fun. But then it took another day and a half to put the room back together again nicely. We had to re-tile some of the floor in the kitchen area, fix the wall & ceiling, paint and lots of little things. Then a few days later we had new carpet installed.

It's awesome now. The room is so much bigger and brighter.

Here are all the pics!



I also truly believed that before we had it removed we would make at least one trip to the ER for stitches from one of our kids falling in to it. By some sort of graceful miracle, we did not!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Mommy Vacation

A couple weeks ago I boarded a plane and headed to Denver, CO to visit some of my dearest friends. Alone. By myself. No Hubs. No kids.

Whoa.

I had so much fun! Vivien picked me up and took me to Red Rocks. We walked (I nearly died) to the top and sat down to watch the sunset while eating homemade mango, pineapple salsa with chips. It was delicious and the view was spectacular! It was so different than what I am used to living 10 miles from the Atlantic coast!

The next day we drove out to an area called Loveland Pass and we stood at the Continental Divide for some photos. I'm such a tourist! Originally that morning I had on shorts and a tank top. But after thinking it was a little cool (dry, not humid, not used to that at all type of weather) I changed to jeans, but still kept on my flip flops. I'm really glad I brought a jacket. It was windy and cold up there. But it was also refreshing and wonderful.

Then Vivien took me to Mt Evans. Holy cow Mt Evans is 14,258ft above sea level (you know, where I live). The drive up (and down) was probably one of the scariest things EVER to me. I have terrible vertigo and am terrified of heights, like looking straight down heights. And as we drove up the winding road, the only thing between me and a sheer drop off the side of the mountain was a truck door and about 2 inches of dirt. DIRT. No guard rail, nothing. I even asked Vivien why they didn't put up guard rails. Since she works for the Dept. of Transportation I figured my request could go straight to the top. Her response was "there isn't enough room for guard rails." Hello?! I know!! A little wiggle one way or the other with her truck and it would have been a long, bumpy tumble over the cliff. But the view from the top was well worth the sore hands I had from gripping the door of Viv's truck. I did make a vow though that the next time I drive to the top of Mt. Evans I will be driving in a Smart Car or some other such tiny vehicle that will leave me more than 2 inches of dirt before the drop off.

Later that day we drove up to Boulder and had tea at this amazing tea house. It was all hand done wood work and tiles and completely gorgeous. Then we drove up to Ft. Collins to stay with our friends Matt & Lisa. We went to this great local restaurant and ended up scoring free ice cream sundaes because our server said we were his best (perhaps least annoying? perhaps funniest?) table of the night.

Saturday the four of us drove to the Rocky Mountain National Park and took a gorgeous walk (also known as a Beginner's Hike) around Bear Lake and then up to a water fall. I scaled a few boulder-ish rocks so I could be authentic. I took about a bazillion photos of the mountains and decided that I could live there.

I was also pretty stoked that I had two people say "Go Gators!" to me on the trail! Ahh! The Gator Nation really is everywhere!

This trip meant so much to me. It was my first time away from the boys, all of them, alone. I got to see one of my BFFs and some very dear and wonderful friends. I got fresh air, non-humid air. I got to pack a suitcase without diapers or any baby gear. It was crazy.

So THANK YOU Hubs, Kiddos, Family Who Helped Make This Happen...Vivien - for not laughing (too hard) at me on Mt. Evans, for hosting me, for planning everything and showing me how awesome Denver is... Matt & Lisa for being awesome and wonderful (it was so good to see you both only a few months after your wedding!)... and the airline pilots for not crashing, the weird people I sat next to who made interesting conversation about what Jesus would do, and for my sanity over randomly running in to people I never really cared to see ever again.

Such a great trip!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My House IS NOT Filthy Despite What This Post May Imply

There is a mouse in my house.

I say mouse like I know it's only one. But saying mice? That just gives me the creeps. I have barely gotten over the snake being in my closet last summer and now there is a mouse in my house. One mouse.

I hate getting up in the middle of the night to pee, which happens once or twice and I'm not even pregnant. But these critters have ruined me. I have to jump over the floor by my closet door to avoid the potential snake ghost, and now I have to listen for the mouse nomming away on the food in my pantry.

Yeah. One second there little bugger. That's Hubs' food. That's the boys' food. Dude that's MY FOOD.

We threw away three large yard trash bags of food, plus two boxes yesterday. Food we found teeth marks on, food we weren't so sure about since it was open and might have been breathed on by the mouse, and food that well, had expired. (Expired food in my pantry? It's genetic. My mom tried to poison Hubs when we'd only been dating a few months. Like she offered him honey mustard for his ham sandwich and it was green. GREEN. And it was 10 years old. That was 10 years ago. We still check the dates on anything coming out of her fridge and shelves now.) It was a lot of food.

I spent about five hours going through the food in our pantry, throwing it away, cleaning and reorganizing. How'd you spend your holiday? The entire time I had two thoughts.


  1. Why did we re-home our cats last fall?

  2. There are no cats in America and the streets are filled with cheeeeeeese.


Later I had a couple more thoughts.

  1. Oh my cake mixes! Oh my brownies!

  2. Damn it this mouse is forcing me to purge all the things I shouldn't have in my pantry anyways because I eat too much, when I'm stressed and anxious and it's totally not healthy, and I need to get over the emotional roller coaster I'm on right now and kick this habit to the curb along with the crappy-ass memories of people who attended my wedding but shouldn't have because they were shitty (former) friends who continuously bring me down by the sheer fact that they exist on this planet.


  3. breathe in, breathe out, breath in, breath out


This morning I drove to my friendly neighborhood Target to buy storage containers for my cereal and the boys' snacks which I have to restock up on tomorrow since we threw most of them away.

I really hate this mouse. Last night I had giggly thoughts of it scampering over to my pantry and staring up at the shelves in utter despair, its heart breaking in to a million tinier pieces as it realized it'd have to find another place to live. That it's cozy nest under the cupboard that also houses my pots and pans wouldn't be the best place on the earth to hunker down and breed in. Shudder.

Consequently I don't mind the pots and pans banging about when I put them away now. I delight in waking that mouse from it's peaceful, food-induced slumber with ear crushing clanging. Because it ate my food. It lives in MY house. And I didn't marry it nor did I birth it. It doesn't pay rent either. I have limits. I say this like I cook and bake every day and need to be using my pots and pans often. This is definitely not true but should be reconsidered as a viable rodent deterrent solution.

We did glean some useful knowledge about this mouse though while cleaning up its mess. It likes cereal bars and teddy grahams the best. So we use some of the nibbled on leftovers in the traps we have out. LIVE traps people. I haven't reached the point of really wanting to kill it. I'm not cold. Yet. But the funny (not-so-much) thing? It managed to get some of the food on the ramp of the trap last night. Without actually getting caught in the trap.

If that mouse turns out to be smarter than me? I'm going to write a letter to my alma mater to ask for a refund.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Strong Personality

There has been a lot on my mind lately.

Things I want to talk about but don't want to talk about, to admit here because here makes it real in ways that it's not when I talk to Hubs and my amazing friends who live mere miles from me.

But Linda over at All & Sundry posted something recently and it made me cry. Straight up cry.

Then a few days later a friend told me I apologize too much and I didn't need to. That sent me on another crying jag while I stood in the shower and let the hot water wash away the chlorine my skin drank in during that morning's swim workout.

So I have been thinking about all this.

For as long as I can remember I've been labeled as "someone with a strong personality." And when it's brought up, it's always in a sort of negative way, explaining away why I am upset about a falling out with a friend, or why people react to me the way they do, why that bothers me, etc, etc. I'm tired of that being the only thing people see or talk about. There is more to me that a strong personality. And having a strong personality isn't always bad. That's what I keep telling myself anyways.

My friend telling me I apologize too much was... well, rough. But it forced me to think about it more, and I realized that I am always apologizing to people because saying I'm sorry often times disarms people. If I admit fault first, well, maybe then the person with whom I have an issue will, well, not hate me. Or dislike me. Or feel any sort of negative feelings towards me. I realize that a lot of people don't like me. And most of the time I'm ok with that. But when it's someone that *I* like and want to have a friendship with, well, that hurts. And I feel somehow responsible for the relationship not working out. You know, because of MY strong personality.

Never mind about the fact that other people have their own issues and personalities and I can't control that. That's the rational side of my brain trying to explain away everything because I'm supposed to be all mature and adult now that I have children and everything.

So when Linda posted again (Yes, I love her blog. No I am not stalking her, she just deserves some credit here for being awesome.) with a link to a Meyers-Briggs-type personality test, I clicked on over. Heck I know who I am but I needed to see if the INTERNET agreed with me. Because all things are validated on the internet, right?

And what did I come out as? ESFJ.I'm an slightly leaning extrovert with a borderline sensing, super strong feeling, evenly judging personality. How's that for strong?

ESFJs at their best are warm, sympathetic, helpful, cooperative, tactful, down-to-earth, practical, thorough, consistent, organized, enthusiastic, and energetic. They enjoy tradition and security, and will seek stable lives that are rich in contact with friends and family.

I'm so tired of being labeled negatively as having a strong personality. What about how much I love people? How much I truly want others to succeed at what they are doing? How I want them to be happy? How I genuinely seek to find the good in everyone, to the point where I rationalize away shortcomings? I am the biggest advocate for my loved ones.

I'm so tired of being sad when people I love and respect fail to see me for me. For all of me. For the bad parts AND the good parts. This is not my fault if their minds and hearts are not open. I'm tired of feeling empty when I am so richly blessed. I feel like such an ungrateful fool. I am tired of the people who don't matter still holding on to pieces of my heart, pulling me back down, making me question all the things I believed I was good at, making me doubt the person that I am.

I am a good person. I have integrity. I have a big heart. I am a good friend. I believe there is good in everyone.

And I have a strong personality.

I wish that didn't sound so negative.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Tiny Tank Cannon. And A Nose.

I was having a lovely afternoon sitting on my sofa, sipping fresh iced tea I let steep in the sun this weekend, working and chatting on IM with Jenn when she sends me a note saying she had to put her daughter down for a nap. No worries here, I heard screaming from the back bedrooms and thought my Bear, who had stayed home from school with a fever, was up from his "nap" and needed some milk and a snuggle. But then I realized it was actually Bug who was screaming from his room where he was also supposed to be napping.

I opened the door to find him sitting up in bed with his hands to his face. His expression was contorted and he kept screaming "I have a bad itch in my nose." I tried to shush him lest he wake Bear but he wasn't having any of it. I scooped him up and carried him across the house to our bathroom, sat him down and said "Now what is going on?!" He repeats he has a bad itch in his nose. I get a tissue. He tries to blow his nose and he screams.

That's not right.

After a few deep breaths together to calm us both down he wails "There is a gun in my nose!"

WHAT?!

"MygreentankgunisinmynoseandItriedtowipeitoutbutit'sstuckupthere."

I rush to his room and find the green matchbox size army tank on his floor and think maybe the huge cannon arm on the front just scratched his nose. (But why the hell was it up your nose kid?!) The thing looked intact.

As he and I discussed the problem I realized that hey, there is tiny looking cannon behind the big cannon and "what is that tiny hole right next to the tiny cannon?"

Yeah. There's supposed to be two tiny cannons behind the big cannon.



Not really sure what to believe, I fetch a flashlight and see nothing up his nose.

After a quick call to the doctor to ask "what the heck do I do because I don't see anything but he insists it's up there?," they suggest I bring him in. So Hubs came home from work to stay with the still sleeping (thank you!) Bear.

After a 30 minute ride to the pediatrician and an hour wait in the lobby, we see our favorite doctor ever. Bug is all cheerful again because the gun thing must have settled in to place and isn't really bothering him except for the stream of clear snot running down his lip that he tells me I can only wipe gingerly and "NO MOMMY I WILL NOT BLOW MY NOSE AGAIN."

She asks him what's wrong and immediately he says in a sweet sing-song voice. "Oh I have a gun up my nose from my green tank and it's just a little bit stuck up in there."

I showed her the tank and she grimaces, then checks him out. The look she gave me as she said "Oh I can see it" was a mixture of horror, nausea and laughter. She got some scary looking tools and a nurse and explained to Bug that she had to get it out because it would make bad boogers, he couldn't move when she did it or it'd hurt, and she didn't want it to hurt him. I love her. Bug totally was like "yeah ok, that would be bad." And despite the nurse holding his arms and me holding his legs, my kid didn't flinch any muscle except his eyebrows as it took her two minutes and a lot of determination to dislodge the tiny cannon.



Bug's reaction to this?

"Oh I feel so much better without a gun up my nose!"

And

"Now I can have GOOD BOOGERS!!!!!!! I can shoot good boogers from my nose. HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!"

She told me I made her day bringing him in.



Later Hubs asked Bug how he got the gun up his nose. He replied "Oh I just put it between my finger and my thumb and it swirled around and got stuck up there."

Yeah. I am raising boys.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Random Things

I think of all these random things a lot. Then I think "Oh I should write a post about those things." Yeah, there's a meme for that. Do you think I remember what day it's supposed to be or where it started? No.

Then this awesome thing happened when I sat down to write said post about random things my brain mulls. Nothing. Well, there is one thing but I can't write about that HERE because I'm pretty certain that the person it's about would decide TODAY was a good day to read my blog. It figures. And yes, I'm paranoid about that. My mom always said if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

Oh the guilt that courses through my veins at the mere thought of offending someone.

Gah.

I'm terrified to go in my garage most of the time. I have this fear that there will be someone out there. I imagine someone hiding behind the side of our house and as I hit the garage door button to close and step instead then that person jumps in to the garage to wait for an opportunity to invade. I usually deadbolt the door behind me. And when I have to go out there again? Well I either A.) Make sure I'm ready to punch someone or B.) Send my kids first. I'm awesome, right?

There is also a mouse in our garage.

Where's the snake that was on my driveway last week when I need him? Oh wait... I hate snakes.

I'm screwed.

Bug earned all of his responsibility magnets this week which resulted in a trip to the toy store with Daddy for a new Transformer yesterday. It's already broken. It's partially a design flaw but also partly that he hasn't figured out that not all the parts move the same way as other Transformers that he has. "What? This one's wheel doesn't turn in to a hand?" SNAP. Sigh.

We are on week 3 of the Mommy Boycott. It's getting old. It's still sort of funny. But it's still really old.

I have not had a laundry pile last more than 24 hours in the past month. I made a goal to just put it away when it came out of the dryer (novel concept). The only times I've not stuck to this is when the laundry came out of the dryer late at night and it was Bug's and he was, you know, sleeping.

I'm going to Denver in a month to see my girl V! Just me. By myself. I can't decide which might be more exciting (besides seeing my friend!): sleeping without a 4 year old waking me up in the middle of the night, sleeping in, or going somewhere without a diaper in my bag. Of course it will be my luck that her neighbors keep my up all night.

Hubs and I can not talk to each other in the car. One of us will start to talk to the other and immediately Bug starts with the "Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? MOMMY?! EXCUSE ME MOMMY?!" business. "Yes Bug?" "uh, Mommy... uh... Mommy... you see that *insert some street sign or flower or car type thing* over there?" (repeat with "Daddy" ad nauseum too.) Oh my GOD this drives me batty. First of all stop interrupting, I'm talking about YOU already or your brother (mostly). Second - you don't need to be the center of attention all the time. And last? SPIT. IT. OUT. My little man's brain is racing way faster than his little mouth can process the words. It's cute and funny though too.

The worst thing about this? This makes me feel OLD. I don't know why but it does.

I am struggling with a site design for someone. It has to be perfect. But it's not perfect yet and sweet Mother Mary, this is difficult.

So... my brain hurts.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Clearly I am doing something right... RIGHT?!

Earlier this week I noticed a new movie show up on the Netflix instant queue, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. This is a favorite book in our house so I thought it'd be fun to have another family movie night (or afternoon) watching this movie together. To prepare, we convinced Bug to EAT spaghetti for lunch (you know, my picky eater agreeing to TRY something in order to watch a movie was incredibly awesome!). So I started rummaging around in the pantry and somehow managed to knock over the box of orzo I had in there. It was closed but didn't seem to want to STAY closed as it tumbled from my shelf to floor.

Meanwhile I have water about to boil on the stove. Oh and then Bear decides to RUN THROUGH IT.

So I find the spaghetti, throw it in the pot and get out the vacuum cleaner. This caused my Bear to run up and say "I DO IT!"

You want to vacuum kid?

Let me think about that for a second.

OK.

(Ignore the bottom shelf. Note the Orzo box where it landed, upright, damn it. And that Tassimo box covered in Orzo is where I keep the coffee discs. The actual coffee maker is on the counter, thank you.)



(Picking up one piece of Orzo at a time and feeding it to the vacuum cleaner is a totally efficient way to clean up the mess. Totally.)



(Note Optimus Prime (above on the left) supervising the cleanup, ensuring my Dyson was not an evil Decepticon. So glad he had our backs.)



I made sure, you know, Bear didn't stick the end up to his eyeball or anything.

Clearly I am doing something right... RIGHT?!

Earlier this week I noticed a new movie show up on the Netflix instant queue, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. This is a favorite book in our house so I thought it'd be fun to have another family movie night (or afternoon) watching this movie together. To prepare, we convinced Bug to EAT spaghetti for lunch (you know, my picky eater agreeing to TRY something in order to watch a movie was incredibly awesome!). So I started rummaging around in the pantry and somehow managed to knock over the box of orzo I had in there. It was closed but didn't seem to want to STAY closed as it tumbled from my shelf to floor.

Meanwhile I have water about to boil on the stove. Oh and then Bear decides to RUN THROUGH IT.

So I find the spaghetti, throw it in the pot and get out the vacuum cleaner. This caused my Bear to run up and say "I DO IT!"

You want to vacuum kid?

Let me think about that for a second.

OK.

(Ignore the bottom shelf. Note the Orzo box where it landed, upright, damn it. And that Tassimo box covered in Orzo is where I keep the coffee discs. The actual coffee maker is on the counter, thank you.)



(Picking up one piece of Orzo at a time and feeding it to the vacuum cleaner is a totally efficient way to clean up the mess. Totally.)



(Note Optimus Prime supervising the cleanup, ensuring my Dyson was not an evil Decepticon. So glad he had our backs.)



I made sure, you know, Bear didn't stick the end up to his eyeball or anything.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Books, Books, Books

Do you read?

What are your favorite novels?



I love to read. There have been periods of my life when I have done nothing but read. As a kid and teenager I brought books with me everywhere. Going to the store with my mom? Well that was 10 more minutes in the car where I could read, and then 10 more minutes going home. Those were the days of Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High, Danielle Steele and The Babysitters Club. (Dear Lord the things that Girl Talk Thursday makes me admit publicly!)

Thankfully for my brain and unrealistic views on romance I was introduced to Sci-fi and Fantasy very early in college. And I couldn't put them down.

I read the first six books of The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordon back to back. I loved them. By book seven I was completely lost with the bowl of winds or something like that and I ended up giving up the series. I have always said though if he finishes the series I'd read it all. We'll see. You know, in my spare time.

Some of my favs:

Orson Scott Card - I first read Ender's Game. Then the entire Ender's Series. The Alvin Maker and Bean (Ender's Shadow) books. I loved them.

Robin Hobb - Have you read the Farseer Trilogy? Then it goes straight in to the spin off trilogy about the Tawny Man. Beautiful, tragic books. Her later series for The Liveship Traders and Solider's Son were very hard for me to get in to. But I pushed through because I loved her other books. Normally it takes me about 50 pages to become attached to a story. These two series took well over 100 and sometimes I had to re-read chapters and push, push, push myself to continue. In both cases I was happy I did. But if you read this author, don't start with Liveship Traders or the Solider's Son.

The Ender's books, the Liveship Traders, and the Solider's Son completely ruined Avatar for me by the way. I liked the movie but the story wasn't extremely original.

The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny. I need to read these again.

My current favorite author and series is George R.R. Martin and A Song of Fire and Ice. This series is tight. It's compelling, creative, gritty, and Good Lord do not get attached to anyone. He has no problem killing off characters you think are, like, kind of important. It's epic high fantasy. And I have read the published books all two to three times each. I am anxiously (ANXIOUSLY) waiting for the next book, A Dance with Dragons. So anxious I follow his blog and read all his stuff about NFL football and other books he's writing, all the while wanting to comment and be like "DUDE STOP WRITING OTHER BOOKS AND FINISH THIS SERIES BEFORE YOU DIE AND RUIN MY IMAGINATION." I don't comment. But I want to comment. And if you like strategy board games there is an awesome, AWESOME - YES, THANK YOU I AM ADMITTING THIS TOO - board game based on the series that is so great I want to read the books again every time we play because it makes sense, it brings the story to life and OMG, I love it. (breathe)

Other books I've read and loved and worn out reading many times are:

Not Without My Daughter, the story of an American woman who married an Iranian, went to Iran to visit his family with him, and was held hostage for years before escaping through the mountains to Turkey in the dead of night with her young daughter.

Gone With the Wind and Scarlett. Yup. I'd read them again too.

In to Thin Air A heart wrenching true story about the Mt. Everest disaster. I cried.

Right now I'm in a lull for reading. The most time I make for reading is opening up my Google Reader and scrolling through my blogs. Then I hit CNN and a few other news sites and that's about it. I have two books on my nightstand that I want to read and am looking forward to a couple upcoming plane rides to dive in. The first is probably boring to most and is a book about improving your running without injury. The second is Wicked. Yes I love that play/music so much that I want to read the series.

No I have not read any Twilight Books. Yes I loved the Harry Potter books.

Hubs sort of laughs at me now. He introduces me to books (many more than mentioned here) and I end up reading the entire series before he does.

I need to read more. I love getting lost in a story. I love putting a book down and wondering what will happen when I sit down to read again. I love a satisfying ending to a well written, thoughtful series. I love discussing books.

I need to read more.

Do you?

Monday, May 24, 2010

I love my Daddy!

My little Bear has been on a Daddy streak lately. As in, a full on Mommy boycott.

Me: I love you!
Bear: I love my Daddy!
Me: I love your Daddy too!
Bear: NO!!!!!! I LOVE MY DADDY! NO MOMMY!
Me: Daddy loves you too.
Bear: Not you. I love MY DADDY.
Me: Who loves you.
Bear: Me. And Daddy.
Me: Who else loves you.
Bear: Daddy.

Rinse. Repeat. Daily.

Today he was running around yelling "I love my Daddy!... Daddy?!" You see, Daddy is still at work and he was looking for him. So I grabbed the camera and filmed a little.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Saving Time

Today's Girl Talk Thursday is about Saving Time. What do you do to cut corners?



I really have only one thing I do that saves me time and that is to prep everything for the next day the night before. I put out breakfast bowls, cereal boxes, my tea bag, Splenda packets, mug, fill the tea kettle so all I have to do it plug it in and turn it on. I set the silverware. I make lunches. I pick out my clothes. I pick out the kids' clothes. I set out shoes and socks. I sometimes will pack up the car, or at least make sure all the day bags are packed.

Honestly though? This is not necessarily about saving time. It's more about sleeping longer and operating as efficiently as possible while I'm in my grump mode, I mean early in the morning with morning children. The mornings after nights I don't prep everything? Not as good. (p.s. I'm also much happier to wake up to a clean kitchen then a dirty one.)

Beyond that, I've got nothing. I just do what I do to get through all the things that need to get done during the days. Hopefully others will post some words of wisdom that I might, ya know, use for my benefit. :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Teach Me

I grew up in Western New York and we moved to Northeast Florida when I was a sophomore in high school. To say that the educational systems in both locations were different is laughable to me. They were night and day. Yes, there were school buildings with teachers and students and administrators. Yes they both had English, Math, Science and History classes. Yes, both schools had school buses. But the academic standards in Florida paled in comparison and so did the social scenes.

But in both places there were teachers who stand out in my memory as the best educators I could have had.

Who were your favorite teachers? Why? It's Girl Talk Thursday. Let's chat. (p.s. Technically the topic was FAVORITE, meaning one teacher. Sorry! I have more than one!)



Top Honors go to my 7th and 8th grade math teacher Mrs. Siegel. (I think that's how you spell her name now.) She had this great way of teaching Algebra that involved rhymes and cadenced phrases that to this day stick with me. She was tough but she was fun. She taught the way that I now know I learn best and since math has never been a strong point for me, well, I'm glad for the foundation she helped me build.

Coming in an extremely close second was Mrs. Balon (she got remarried after I moved away but when she was my teacher, that was her name. So it's gonna stay that way in my brain.) This woman was my French teacher for 5 years. Most people couldn't stand her. I don't really know why. Maybe they should have taken Spanish classes instead of complaining? I thought she was great and she is the only teacher I have ever gone out of my way to visit again when I returned to Western New York years ago for one of my cousin's weddings. If I could reconnect with her again, I would.

Mrs. Cooney, my 4th grade teacher. She hugged everyone (I love hugs) and she once told me that I'd be the first female President of the United States. (cricket)(cricket) Sorry about that Hillary.

Mr. Saylor - Senior High School Physics. Ok so back when I was young and afraid of Math, no one told me that we'd have to APPLY IT ALL THE TIME. Physics? Me? Not so much. But Mr. Saylor let us have cheat sheets on the tests. We could put anything we wanted on an index card to help us with the tests. Do you know how small I can write now? Plus we always had exams "on Thursday" and there is no way for me to convey the funny inflection in his voice when he said "on Thursday" but everyone thought it was hilarious and it was a running joke for anyone in his classes.

Mrs. Basney - Senior Applied Economics. You know how in high school most people don't know what they want to go to college for and they sign up for Psychology and then go to college and figure it out? Last semester of my Senior year I took her class and although I had accepted attendance at UF and declared Psychology as my major, I ended up changing it the first week of classes that Fall. I changed it to Marketing because of her class and that's what I've stuck with and done with my life since. She made me believe I could be really good at business and the creative aspects of Marketing and she was a really, really good teacher too.

So thank you teachers! I was too young and naive to thank you back when you were my teachers, so I hope you know how awesome you were and hopefully still are.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Refills To Go

When Hubs and I go out to eat I usually order an Iced Tea or a Diet Coke. I know I should drink water. But water tastes blah and I don't like to drink plain water. So I maximize the $2.50 soft drink I purchase and I almost always get a drink to go at the end of the meal.

It drives Hubs craaaazy.

I'm not exactly sure why though. I mean this third (usually) drink makes my expenditure *almost* worth it. Right? You see I'm now getting old enough that I can say "Back when I was young soft drinks were $.99 or less at every meal." Now they are $2.50 and mostly ICE. So getting refills and getting them to go means I *might* end up consuming enough of the beverage. Oh the store owners hate when I ask for "only a little ice please."

When I don't get a drink to go Hubs' jaw usually drops and I am mocked. "What?!" (feigned shock and horror) "No drink to go?!" It happens. But not often.

I don't know why I decided to write about this. But I like my refills. I like getting To Go cups. I like my Iced Teas and Diet Cokes.

And that's all there really is to say about that.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Week

I didn't feel like posting for Girl Talk Thursday this week. It was prom week and I just wasn't in the mood. Not because prom was good or bad. It just was. And The only thing I remember really about that night was a gazillion people crashing in one tiny hotel room and then getting up really stupid early and eating breakfast at IHop.

So there isn't really anything more to say about that.

The thing that got me most though was that Wednesday night late, after I hit the send button on a final email with the last report of the day, to my boss, I got an email from him. An email that told me his 34 year old son had died suddenly that evening from a blood clot. I tiny little blob of blood after a relatively routine and easy surgery on his leg to repair a ligament or tendon or something like that.

This gets to me. My boss is difficult to work for - he's always in business mode and rarely satisfied with things even when they are perfect. But he's a nice man. And if you ever heard him talk about his son and his grandchildren, well, you know he loves them dearly.

I can go down a hundred dark paths of thought. His son was 34. Hubs is 34. He had two boys, 5 and 3. Our boys are 4 and 2. His wife stayed at home. I work at home, not really the same thing but certainly I am not the bread winner and if anything happened to Hubs - I'd have to scramble so much it's not even funny. My boss and his wife are my parents' ages. They have to bury their son, their grown son on Monday. The day after Mother's Day.

That sucks.

So as much as I complain about how undervalued I feel at work, I wouldn't wish this on anyone. I have no words of condolences I can offer that feel appropriate. It makes absolutely no sense to me.

So keep their family in your thoughts please. There is a long road ahead.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Grown Up, Mostly

It's been a while since I posted for Girl Talk Thursday here on my own blog. Most of the time I forget it's Thursday and if weren't for the little calendar reminders I set up for when I host, well, I'm lucky to remember. Heck these days I'm lucky if I can find my check book (it was in the garage... don't ask) or my pen that I just had two minutes ago (it was over my ear... this morning... true story).

Oh but this week - What did you want to be when you grew up?

I love it.



So yeah this implies that I think I've actually grown up. Most of the time I think I have but sometimes I wonder how the heck I got here, like "when did this happen?!" I always wanted to be a mom, to be married with a nice house and two cars and the fenced yard. I wanted to work but I wanted to be the mom that was home when school let out, who drove to all the sports practices and music lessons or whatever activities. So far I'm living that part of my dream. And I'm a happy, happy girl.

Unless you ask me about my job.

I really have no idea what I wanted to be when I was little. I fancied being a teacher, some sort of business person, an Olympic Horseback Riding Champion, but mostly, an astronaut. I have Space Camp to thank for that. Sadly, I never made the grades like Tish did.

But I do get to say I'm a teacher and a business person. The horse thing? Must have been a phase.

Mostly I am happy with what I am doing for work. I'm still unhappy with the pay and the fact that I'm constantly questioned about whether I am putting in the hours required. I'm running myself ragged and I find myself realizing that this pain isn't going to result in much gain, financially anyways, as I originally thought. I am looking... so fingers crossed.

But, every time I write the mortgage check, or pay the utilities, dress my children, or buy groceries I think "wow, I'm the adult now." I'm watching the kids I babysat for graduate from high school, go to college, asking "What do I want to be when I grow up?" And I can close my eyes and picture the exact time I was in those shoes. And when the blink is over, and that breath exhaled, I can only smile. Because I hope that in 16+ years they've figured it out, that they are living their dreams, and are as happy as I am.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Once Upon a Birthday

Yesterday my blog was one year old.

365 days of putting myself out there. Here. In this space.

My space.

A place I can belong to.

Everyone needs a place to belong. Everyone needs a group. A posse. A home for your heart, and a place to rest your mind. Friends. An identity.

365 days ago I was struggling to find a place to belong. I had lost my footing, the rug swept from beneath my feet in my own kitchen. In my home. My safe place. That was the end. It was the beginning. Another beginning. A different me.

I didn't like that me for a very long time. I just didn't feel like I fit in anywhere, my identity felt foreign.

And then I got this crazy notion that I could start a new blog. One I might actually keep up with. One I could use to connect with others because maybe there were other people out there like me and I didn't have to feel alone in my head anymore. So I did. And now I don't.

Writing is therapy. Reading. Talking. Sharing. It is good for my soul, and for my heart which still has not fully healed.

I'm a work in progress with still so much to learn and share. I like to share.

Starting this blog was one of the best things I could have ever done for myself. I've found my voice again. I've gained some confidence back. I can be me here and if someone reads this, great. If not, that's ok. I'm working myself out. But, I have connected with some amazing, thoughtful, funny, brilliant, good and kind people, all whom I adore.

I needed this.

So Happy Birthday Baby Blog.

Let's eat cake.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Road

You can hear the soft hum of the interstate when you sit silent in our backyard. The white noise of vehicles, each with at least one person in it, each with a story to tell. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed by the number of people there are out there.

I was walking in the Target parking lot a couple days ago. A woman about my age was driving a huge SUV. She did not stop to let me cross. She was too busy on the telephone. Who was she talking to? Where was she going? Does she have children? Were they in the car? Does she have a home? A partner? Is she happy or does she cry herself to sleep at night?

What about that old man in the car in front of you going 10mph under the speed limit? Can you see his hands carefully placed at 10:00 and 2:00 as he sits a little forward towards the wheel with his shoulders slightly hunched over? Is he driving you crazy because you can't pass? What's your hurry? Where do yo think he's driven in his life? Was he in a war? Did he drive a tank? Does he have a family? Do they call him or see him often? Has he shared his stories with grandchildren?

You pass a crash. Mangled metal. Burned rubber. Rescue vehicles with lights flashing. You can see airbags deployed. You don't see any victims, they have been taken away already. Did they survive? Did their vehicle save them, protect them? Who are they? How does the crash change their lives?

Do you ever wonder about other people on the road?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

One Year - Remembering Maddie

Monday I got a pedicure. I chose dark purple polish.

I made sure I had something purple to wear today.

And I'm lost.

Last year on my birthday I wrote a post for all the loved ones I have lost. I can find no other words in my heart to express the feelings that swirl within. So for Heather and Mike, today, one year after Maddie passed away, I'll share what I wrote last May.

Maddie - There are few leaders who could unite people as you did and continue to do. You opened my eyes to a community I knew existed but didn't share in until now. Your beautiful blond curls and shining eyes will forever remind me of the goodness of people. I hope your family knows how powerful your grace is.

Today I remember Maddie.

Each year I remember them all on their days and I cherish the lessons, the friendships, the laughter, and the love. I am a better me because of them.

***
I am walking in the March for Babies on April 24th as part of Team Maddie. Will you help me raise money today, on Maddie's day, so that others do not experience grief like the Spohrs and so many other families?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mock Fighting

I last tested for rank in martial arts in 2004, a year before my Bug was born. It was a goal of mine to get my 2nd degree black belt in Cuong Nhu before I started having children. Today I happened to be backing up files on my hard drive to our server and I ran across this demo video of the applications to the katas I had to perform on the test. I performed 6 katas but only had to do applications to 4. (I also broke boards, wrote a paper, and gave a speech.) We shot the video several weeks before the test so we could all sit down and watch them and go over things that weren't working. My friend (and student - the really tall one) Jeff took all the short videos Hubs filmed and put this big video together with music.



I have to say that watching this demo today really got my fired up. I LOVE doing this stuff. LOVE IT. I have been teaching a children's class for the last two years and while that keeps me involved on a level, I miss the actual training and learning. You can't see some of the little things I did in the applications with this video because it's very low-res, but some of those chokes and in-between moves were awesome. (Sorry again Vivien! You bore the brunt of those!) Sometimes I watch things like this and think "holy crap look what I can do!"

The sad thing though is that after living in Jacksonville for 4 years I don't feel connected at all with the style, despite teaching it twice a week. So many things have led me farther and farther away from training on this path. I don't particularly want to start over in another style but I also don't want some petty, lying nonsense to be the end of my training. It would take a lot of things that are unlikely to happen in order for me to train there again. So I am stuck.

Maybe I should just have another baby and delay thinking about this for another couple years? How about that? :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

I was RUNNING!

About a month ago I posted an update about my running progress on Twitter and my dear friend Tatiana told me that I should write a post about my training and how I went from minimal activity (I wasn't exactly a coach potato) to running a 15K in a few months. Well I love my friend for asking and for the support, so thank you.

Some back story... I grew up watching my Dad go out to run several times a week. As a young child I would wait for him at the end of the driveway with a huge cup of ice water and give it to him at the end of his run. Then we would walk around the block together for his cool down. As I got older I would actually join him on his runs but I would ride my bicycle. I even got up at o'stupid:30 in the mornings in the summers to ride with him before he went to work. I started running track in middle school with mid-distances and then progressed to hurdles in high school. (I could not hurdle a hurdle now for the life of me, so I have no idea how I did that.)

In college I began my longer distance running (I had kept up the 2-3 miles on my own) when I was lined up as a brown belt in my karate class and my instructor, now lifetime best girlfriend Joyce, asked "Does anyone want to run a half marathon with me?" I was also training for my black belt at the time and had a Cardio requirement (only 3 miles, I am an over achiever I guess) and I think that is what prompted me, the only one, to raise my hand and say "Sure, I'll run it." I learned a lot about knee pain and IT Band tendinitis and a host of other injuries that fall. But I ran my race in December and finished in a respectable 2 hours, 10 minutes! A few months later, in March 1999, I ran my first Gate River Run in Jacksonville (the nation's largest 15K (9.3 miles) race) and finished in 85 minutes. At the time I thought it was a slow pace. But 9:27 miles? I was so young and stupid then. It's a goal now to get back to that time!

Many years later I picked up a new and wonderful running partner, my friend Vivien. We ran 2-3 times a week together around the awesome University of Florida (GO GATORS!) campus and talked and talked and talked. I told her how fun the River Run was, the course is awesome, and we agreed to run it together some day. But then I got pregnant and we moved away, she graduated and moved to Denver, and it hasn't happened yet. But it will happen. I miss her and our great running conversations, and it's a goal of mine to race with her someday.

Last year I ran the River Run and my goal was only to cross the finish line. Time didn't matter. I was in a horrible, dark mental place and I hated EVERY minute of my training. HATED IT. Going out to run was torture. I ran alone. But Joyce and Vivien kept me going, motivating me over the miles that separated us, to keep training and pushing through. We exchanged Facebook messages, reporting in on our training and they are the reason I managed to continue when I wanted to quit. Vivien even flew in from Denver, having survived her first freezing winter just to cheer me (and Joyce - the speedy fitness guru) on from the sidelines. How is that for awesomeness?

After the race though I really backed off the running. I just wasn't in a good place. I didn't run again for about a month and then it was only sporadically for the rest of the year. At a BBQ in September I mentioned I wanted to run the River Run and needed to start running again. That is how I got my local training partner, Meredith. She had run the race twice before. years ago, and somehow I tricked her in to training with me this year!! We didn't start seriously training until January though (and she said she hoped I had forgotten about her promise to run me when I posted this in December) and she has quickly become one of my greatest friends here. Having a training partner, especially one who thinks so very similar to you, is the best. For me, it's kind of necessary now that I think about it. With a partner it's harder to bail on your workouts and it's much more fun when you're out there pounding the pavement.

So in January, with a new (more positive) attitude towards life, and a new running partner, I started training. We ran a few times a week on our own and met up on the weekends for our long training runs. Each week was at least a Fartlek speed workout, a tempo run, maybe an easy base builder (just to get extra miles in) and then the long run. We also did some crazy (awesome) strength building exercises 2-3 days a week that her trainer Ali set up for her. As the weeks went by we watched our long run times go from an 11:50 per mile pace to 10:11. And I personally saw my short distance runs go from 10:30 on a 2 mile jog to today's 8:44 pace. I even took a photo of my watch the first time (in 10 years) I ran a 9:00 per mile pace for 2 miles because I couldn't believe it.



The training this year is working and instead of hating EVERY minute of running, I only hate a few, usually when I'm reaching a threshold of pain I need to push through.

I also joined The Daily Mile to record my training in a space other than the Excel file I've kept for 2 years with the date, distance, route, and pace for every run I did. The Daily Mile is awesome and I highly recommend it if you need a good exercise journal and place to collaborate on pretty much anything. A friend who I got to join said it is like Facebook and Twitter for runners. I completely agree.

The day of the River Run this year was a little bit of a disappointment for me only because I didn't run as well as I wanted to. I suffered some pretty horrible shin splints two weeks before the race and they never really went away. The pain kicked in full mode at about mile 6 and the bridge just killed me. Normally on the bridge you make it to the top and cheer because gravity can carry you the final mile to the finish line. But for me the race down was worse than the way up due to the impact pain on my leg. But I finished. I finished 20 seconds under triple digits, which was my goal this year, under 100 minutes. I'm happy I did it and I cut a significant amount of time off my pace from last year. Now my goal is to get back to that 1999 pace of 9:27 per mile. It might take a little while, but it's going to happen. Maybe it'll be the year Vivien comes to run with Joyce, Meredith and I? I hope so! I miss you V!

See my post race evening?



Meredith ran a great race this year too! She battled a crappy arch cramp near the end that threw off her stride but she tamed the Green Monster bridge and finished in just a hair over 98 minutes. She's awesome and I am so happy she joined me for the run. I'm looking forward to many more races with her this year!! Thank you girl!!



So I guess how I did it was just by getting more serious about training, finding a good running partner, and having the absolute BEST support group in the world. Thank you to my wonderful husband who never questioned my long weekend runs. He encouraged me to get out there and try again, listened to me prattle about my paces and distances, and watched me stretch and cry over injuries. And my girls, past and present running partners, you kept me sane, kept me moving, and made me feel loved too. I appreciate all of you!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cough, Cough, Hi, Cough

Um, Hey.

How's it going?

I am keenly aware that it's been almost three weeks since I wrote on some topic in my brain. I have a lot of topics in my brain too.

In the past almost three weeks my computer died. DIED. The harddrive had over 200 bad sectors just like that. There was no warning, no signs of distress, nothing. One minute I am working, the next I go tuck my darling boys in bed and I return to find a message that says "Hey, screw you but there's no operating system installed on this drive anywhere, do you want to reformat?" UM HELL NO. But see I think my Grandma Jeanne has been looking out for me because I had a spare laptop hard drive that still and Windows on it, and I had an external case with a USB cable and somehow out of sheer brilliance I recovered all of the important data on that piece of crap dead drive (you know, PHOTOS of my boys) through magical free software* with a really dumb name. (That software really was magical and wonderful. No sarcasm there.)

I only had two panic attacks in the 48 hours it took to "Recuva" my data, figure out the RMA process, and ship the drive in all its paperweightness glory back off to Seagate. The new (cough-refurbished-cough) drive should be here tomorrow.

No, I do not need to get a Mac.

After that I got ridiculously busy with work even though my boss still doesn't believe I put in a full work week. Ahem... read: frustration.

Then I got focused on my running because I ran in the country's largest 15K last weekend, Jacksonville's Gate River Run. I'll post about that soon because I have a story that involves three really awesome girlfriends who have kept me motivated to run over the past 15 years. And they deserve some credit for being awesome. Plus I ran a lot better than last year. Oh and there were Olympic runners there! That was cool. The girl who won the women's division also could have run the race TWICE before I finished my course, but hey, whatever, she gets paid to run and I cram it in whenever I can.

Hubs also just got back from a business trip that involved snowboarding in Vail. Nice, no? I may or may not have purchased three new movies to help me entertain the boys all weekend too, plus new coloring books, plus a new action figure hero each. Um, yeah, winning the parenting awesomeness award right here please... Anyways I really missed my husband and the highlight of his absence was the webcam call we did one night with the boys. Hearing those kids laugh so hard at Daddy's antics was heartwarming. It was also charmingly adorable when Bug broke down in soul-wracking sobs when the call was over, wailing that he missed his Daddy and couldn't Daddy just come home now and play Batman Legos on the xBox with him? Moments like these are reasons why I fall in love all over again with my husband and family and the life we've built.

So pardon the dust settling in around here. It fits in well with the bunnies residing in my home too. Spring is around the corner though and there is a cleaning frenzy on the horizon.

*The magical free software creator did not pay me, nor give my any incentive other than being awesome and recovering my data, to give them a plug in the mess here.