Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jacksonville Friends of Maddie

Last year I learned of the death of Maddie Spohr from a good friend of her parents, Maria. I clicked over to the family's blog and from that day on was captivated by the little girl with the golden curls and strikingly beautiful eyes. Her parents are inspiring, gracious, strong and kind. The have blogged through their grief, started a not-for-profit organization in honor of their daughter supporting families with children in the NICU, and recently welcomed another daughter, Annabel Violet, in to the world. Annabel was born nearly full-term and 100% healthy. You can read more about this amazing family and their wonderful little girl Madeline at The Spohrs Are Multiplying or at Friends of Maddie. See below for a message from the Spohrs from the Friends of Maddie website.

From FriendsOfMaddie.org:

"After 28 weeks and 6 days of an extremely rocky gestation, Madeline Alice was born on November 11, 2007. She weighed three pounds one ounce, and was 15 3/4 inches long. Because she was over 11 weeks premature, she was rushed to a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She spent 68 long days there until the wonderful January afternoon she went home.

Maddie′s prematurity left her lungs scarred, but her amazing happiness remained unscathed. She lit up the lives of everyone she met (and countless more she didn′t) with her bright eyes, infectious laugh, and gigantic grin.

On April 6th, Maddie came down with a severe respiratory infection. She left the world suddenly and unexpectedly April 7, 2009."

This year I'm starting a Jacksonville Friends of Maddie group to raise money so that one day no family has to experience what the Spohrs and other families have gone (or are going) through. Sadly the Spohrs are not the first family I have known that have faced infant prematurity. So even though I walk for Friends of Maddie, I am also walking for Jake, for Ava, and for Vista. Jake is no longer with us but Ava and Vista are. And their families are no less amazing nor strong.

Are you local to Jacksonville or close by? Will you join our team and walk with us on April 24th?

Please help me in raising money to honor of the children we've lost and also to celebrate the ones that have lived.

The mission of March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.

The Not-So-Secret Secret

Sometimes when I see the Girl Talk Thursday topics I wonder what the heck I am doing participating because I'm mortified beyond belief or have nothing to contribute. The latter was the case this week when I was reminded of the topic "Tell us your favorite 'beauty secret'."

Oh for heavens sake...



Runner Up Secret:
Hair Muds/Deep Conditioning Creams and an Air Rolling Brush Thingy.


I love my hair, it's fine but there is a massive amount of it. And every once in a while I use a deep conditioner or hair mud concoction to keep it sleek. I also avoid using a blow dryer (which results in me rocking a pony tail most days) but when I have to I use an all-in-one contraption that's hair dryer and curling brush in one. I am absolutely not coordinated enough to use both a hair dryer and traditional roll brush at the same time. So this contraption thing saves me a boat load of time, and I get volume and a soft curl under. Very nice.

# 1 Secret: Photoshop

Oh my favorite hobby has been useful for my self-image so many times. Every photo I publish of myself has most likely been retouched, color enhanced, cropped or something in Photoshop. I have terrible skin and am overweight, so I find myself touching up a lot of photos or cropping out my body. I know that people in real life don't get to see me retouched but I guess I'm vain about my digital appearance because that's a pretty easy, fast and simple fix to make. The real life stuff, well that's an on-going struggle of mine that's not beautiful and therefore, not a part of this post.

What's your "beauty secret"??

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Guarded

Do you use privacy filters on Facebook? Do you accept friend requests but then compartmentalize them, these people being allowed to see your status updates, those people allowed to see photos, but not those over there?

I do. I use filters like a mo-fo.

I'm connected* on Facebook to some minors. Kids I babysat for in high school are now in high school (SOB) and have connected with me. Other current high schoolers have connected with me. I love it and I love to stay connected with them. But they don't need to see everything about me, every political opinion, link, etc. Not yet anyways.

*I should have added "Facebook Friends" to my list of Pet Peeves last week. I use this expression myself but I loathe it. If you are "Facebook Friends" with someone chances are you're friends with them also, so just say you connected with them on Facebook. Just a minor annoyance, I am not in the majority on this opinion.

I use filters to prevent some people, once thought close and wonderful friends, from seeing my links or family photos. I hide my contact info from others. If they need to get in touch with me they can message me on Facebook.

Most people see everything.

But I still feel the need to protect myself. 15 years ago I'd have said my life was an open book for all to read and discuss. Now? Now I am guarded. Now I lack the carefree trust that came with my youth. Now I look to protect my children, my family and my heart.

Are you active on Facebook? Do you trust everyone with everything you do in your space? Do you use privacy filters? Why? For what kinds of information?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Play Dates

Tomorrow when I pick the boys up from pre-school we are staying a little longer to play on the playground with another little boy from Bug's class. This little boy's brother happens to be the same age as Bear so hey, how cool right? Four little boys each with his own playmate his age. Except... except... I don't really know how I feel about the mom. She's very nice. And proper. But we have nothing in common except our boys happen to be the same ages. Other than that, nothing. I've talked with her before and sometimes there are just dead silences in between the topics. And trust me, I can do small talk. I can talk to pretty much anyone. And I'm just lost here.

The other thing? Bug does not talk about this little boy very much. When we go through the 20 questions of "what did you do at school today?", "who did you play with?", "what are your friends' names?", "what do you play with your friends?", etc, this boy's name never comes up. I've prompted him "What about *George*?" (*name obviously changed for privacy and all that anonymity and stuff) And he replies "I don't know. He plays too." So I've said "Why don't you play with *George*?" And his responses are usually "Well, ok. I guess maybe." Or something like that. Of course I go in to the whole "Honey we should play with everyone and everyone in our class is our friend" spiel... but in reality I know that it's not true. At some point they learn who they get along best with, who they have the most fun with, who has similar interests, etc. I'm trying to instill good friendship values in him (them, Bear is included in this sentiment but, he's two, so yeah...) but at what point do I let him say "I don't want to play with *George*" and trust that he knows what he wants and that's ok? And if that happens, how on Earth do I dodge request after request. This mom has my phone number from the class roster and it's just awkward the few times she has called.

So tomorrow we'll stay and play. I know it will be fun because four little boys on a playground is almost always fun, if not rowdy and adventurous. I will make small talk and fill the silences as best I can. And I'll make sure that Bug has a good time too. I hope I have a nice time, that I am pleasantly surprised, and conversation flows across common ground. But if it doesn't? How do I field the next encounter or phone call request if it comes in?

I'm not good at this.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pet Peeves

Girl Talk Thursday!



This week it's Pet Peeves. Where to even begin...


  • Chewing with your mouth open and smacking your lips.
  • People who talk on their cell phones when they are checking out of a store. Put your phone down and be polite to the person ringing up your merchandise. You can call the person back.
  • The "Yell Phone." Volume control people. I know it's possible. And the rest of us do not want to hear about your business anyways.
  • Dry, peeling skin. I have to peel it. If it's flaky it drives me bat-shit crazy. I haven't been sunburned in very long time but wow, when that starts to peel I can spend a long time concentrating getting it all off.
  • Social Ladder Climbing. Basically, ass kissers. I hate it. I hate the people always looking to be in the know, to find the person who's going to give them a leg up all the time. The name dropping to get you in to another social circle. Stand on your own merits. It's about you, not who you know.
  • Underwear lines. I can't stand to see underwear lines.
  • I had this one boss who would constantly tuck her super short hair behind her ear. It was a nervous tick, I think, followed by an audible "um."
  • Reading over my shoulder, especially when I'm on my computer. I really have no idea what this bothers me but I can't stand it. I don't have a large required personal body space but maybe this falls in to the category of mental space? My laptop is space for my brain to learn, be challenged, let go, interact (yes, I know it's not the only place I can do these things, I'm not that socially challenged). On a related note: touching my computer screen. Please do not touch my computer screen or grab it, roughly angle it back or jerk it around. Thank you.
  • Loud chatting/play in the morning before I've had a chance to wake up. For heavens sake we don't have to start the day with an ear ache or bruises. Not before hot tea please.
  • People with a complete lack of awareness for others in the grocery store. The aisles are barely big enough to fit two carts down so please, unless you have grabby kids in the cart, don't park in the aisle, then become engrossed in your salad dressing selection that you forget you are not the only person in the store. But if you do, it's super awesome to just say "oh, I'm sorry!" and not act like I am evil for nicely saying "excuse me please" after waiting a few moments for you to see me.
  • Talking out of both sides of your mouth. I could write a whole post about this.


I could probably think of a few more, but these are the hottest ticket items in my brain today. Now it is time to open a bottle of wine and relax.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cozy Nests and a Moon over Miami

Little Bear has been "nesting" lately. He has been bringing more stuffed animals in to his bed at night and also making a little circle around him as he sleeps with his animals, blankets and pillow. A couple nights ago Hubs had to go to his room in the middle of the night and ended up sleeping on the floor for an hour to keep from picking Bear up (because then the likelihood of Bear returning to his own bed at that point is slim). Well the next day at nap time I heard Bear grunting and whining for a while. After about 10 minutes he settled down and when I went in to get him up later I discovered that he got out of bed and dragged his Daddy's big sofa blanket that was still on the floor in to his crib with him to sleep. I had to laugh because the day before at my mother's she woke him from his nap to discover that he had found the stuffed cat door stop in the room and dragged it in to his bed to snuggle. The cat shaped door stop. It's a brick, covered in pillow material and fabric to look like a cat. My Bear snuggled a brick. And it was cozy.

***

Hubs is on a work trip this week in Miami. He's never been away from the boys like this before so explaining to them where he was going was interesting. This is part of the conversation that I had with my 4 year old Bug this morning at breakfast.

Bug: Where is Daddy going?
Me: To Miami for work.
Bug: Your Hammy?
Me: No to Miami. It's a city, like Jacksonville. It's called Miami.
Bug: His Hammy? Not Your Hammy?
Me: No honey it's not his or mine, it's called Miami, it's a city.
Bug: I don't understand.
Me: I know, it's ok.

Tonight he talked to his Daddy on the phone to say goodnight. And he said "Daddy are you in Your Hammy? Do you have to work in Your Hammy tomorrow?"

I feel like I'm in a sitcom.

Enjoy your few nights of quiet, uninterrupted sleep Dear Hubs.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Body Parts

How did it get to be Thursday, January 14, 2010? I mean seriously? 2010? And half way through January? Oh and it's THURSDAY!



What's your favorite body part?

I have to say I kind of snorted when I read this topic and thought "yeah right." I have a very low self-image and since I'm struggling to lose weight, you can probably imagine that it's even worse.

I'm working on it. I'm working on it.

In my pre-pregnancy days I had a nice stomach and butt. Now, they sag. I like neither.

During my pregnancies all I can say is HELLO BOOBS! Oh my boobs were awesome. And for the first years while breast-feeding they made my stomach look smaller. I loved those boobs. I miss those boobs.

Now? Well, now I can go back to the things that won't change with the scale of my weight. I like my ears. They're small and cute and I like their shape. It's ridiculous but I like my ears. Also, I inherited my mother's smile and I grew up thinking she had (has) the most beautiful smile. So I am happy about that.

What about you? What's your favorite body part?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ingrained

My first job out of college was as a Sales Admin for a local software development company in Gainesville. It was a decent first job. I learned a lot but I strongly disliked the first person who was my boss there. I moved up and around at the company before leaving five years later.

The company was run by a special man. And by special, I mean, well, unusually peculiar and all together quite impossible to describe.

(No Wicked fans, I have no idea if he was blonde in his more youthful days.)

He had order for everything. Without order there was chaos. Chaos was scary. He painted a ridiculously expensive (and kind of ugly) mural in the lobby that hailed his personal motto. "Do what you say. Say what you do. Prove it." He later added "Improve it" to the end of that expression. I liked this motto actually.

We had kind of an awesome corporate digital documenting system that made ISO compliancy a drop in the bucket. It was one of his brain children and could have been, at the time, one of the best solutions on the market. The problem? It never went to market. It was kind of like his tinker toy. He made changes, set guidelines to the point of such rigidity that it was impossible to adapt to any other way of thinking/corporate culture. You either adopted it as gospel or you didn't get it. He truly, truly believed he had superior brain power and therefore everyone should follow in his most efficient way of doing things.

Examples? There were rumors at one point that he was going to require everyone keep the same desktop icons in the exact same places as him on their desktops. And if he happened upon your computer when you weren't in the office he was known to rearrange your files to the *proper* order. Keyboard Hot Keys? You know, CTRL-C or CTRL-V. Inefficient. Highlight, right click and copy or paste that way. Hot keys were bad. It was easier to not use them when he was around instead of listening to his thought process. (Unless you were Pate. Pate thought it was funny to agitate that man.) He also insisted that trash cans be kept under the desks, not to the sides, lest paper inadvertently fall off and be collected with the garbage run.

EVERYTHING had order. Every policy, methodology, and action was required to be documented in the network system. Nothing existed unless it was first defined in the software. Nothing. (I am not even remotely joking on this. Believe me we had countless circular "which came first the chicken or the egg" conversations about this.)

The people who delivered our office mail had to follow an exact walking route through the company hallways.

If you were using a stapler and the staple clip was more than half empty you were to remove the partial staple clip, throw it away and then replace it with a new full strip. Broken staple strips were inefficient.

There was a policy regarding personal hygiene and when it was appropriate and not appropriate to wash your body parts. Yes, there was a section that included washing your private parts. (That part of the policy was removed when H.R. got involved.)

One policy stated how many spritzes of air freshener you could use after having a bowel movement in the bathroom.

For all the insanity there (and there was more) this company owner did have a generous spirit too. The company paid for everyone to get flu shots each year for instance. They contributed to a medical flex spending plan for you each week. There was monthly profit sharing for every employee in the company (cough - when there was profit). Our vacation/sick leave was by far the most generous I've ever heard of. If you got married while working there you got a week's vacation as a wedding gift added to your time bank. (Score, hubs and I were both working there when we got married!) Everyone had a private office with a view of either interior courtyard gardens or lush green fields with old Spanish moss trees.

There was so much drama there. But it was a fun place to work and I made some life friends in the process.

But what inspired me tonight to think about this job and business relates to the project I am currently working on tonight. I am in the process of scanning about 1200 business cards in to my computer to be read and imported in to Outlook. (snore, are you sleeping yet? I want to be sleeping this is so boring.) When you are the only marketing person and are trying to build a database of email addresses and contacts, well, you have to do the grunt work sometimes. I digress (again).

What makes this project tonight partially slow going is that I have to FIX every part of the address that does not adhere to the USPS STANDARD ADDRESSING SYSTEM that was beaten in to my brain when I was an admin at my first job. For instance? Street suffixes could not be spelled out. Nor punctuated. So Street was "ST". Not "ST." nor "St" nor "St." Road was "RD". Circle was "CIR". Suite is "Ste" and had to be on the first line of the address after the building number and street name. No # sign in front of the Suite number either. Northwest had to be "NW" (etc.) So he took this great standard from the USPS and applied it to everything else in the customer database. Corporation was "Corp" and Incorporated was "Inc" and there couldn't be punctuation. Dear Lord NO PUNCTUATION. IT IS NOT STANDARD. THERE MUST BE ORDER! Someone checked all new customer database entries and order entries EVERY day and if she found a mistake you got a lecture on the standard and had to go back and correct it. No, she couldn't correct it on the spot. No. You had to have a lesson.

You'd think it'd be easy to remember this and after a while it was. But at first? ugh.

You're going to have to come in on Saturday, mmmkay? That'd be great.

So as I scan these cards tonight and the OCR bridge recognizes characters to help me out so much by telling me the company name is something like *^A(a)-ER, I also have to change the street suffixes, take out the punctuation and make it all standard. STANDARD.

Because if it's not I start to twitch.

I start to twitch.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Walk to Remember

Yesterday we took our annual beach walk to honor our son Noah who didn't survive my pregnancy with his brother, our Bug. On what would have been their first birthday we scattered his ashes in the ocean and each year we have gone back on or very close to that day and we throw flowers in the water, one for each year he would have been. Yesterday we took four beautiful orange flowers. They were really lovely against the grey, cold day.





It's funny that I got orange flowers. I didn't think about it until I started writing this post but this year we also did something for our Noah right in our own backyard. We planted a Tangelo tree for him. I call it my Noah tree. It's right outside our bedroom window. Back on my first Mother's Day hubs told me he would buy me this tree so that we could get new life, new fruit every year in his memory. Well we were in the process of moving at the time, then the years later we were over-hauling our backyard and never had the right space for it. This year we resolved that problem. We got one fruit from the tree this year. It was delicious and I am looking forward to watching more grow every year.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Things I learned on this last vacation...

So we ended the old year with a trip to Baltimore to visit family and attend a wedding. It was an awesome trip (really!!) but I did learn a few things along the way. In no particular order...

  • The entire family being sick while on vacation sucks. Two children and two adults in one double bed because the children feel like crap and want to snuggle? Is adorable, but also is crowded, uncomfortable and difficult to breathe when they lay directly on top of you and you already have a head cold. Eucalyptus oil was the single greatest extra little "just in case" thing I packed.

  • Always upgrade your hotel room whenever possible to a suite so you can put the kids to bed away from a sitting area and then you have space to relax. It's usually $20 more. And $20 is WORTH your sanity.

  • Dropping an iron on your foot accidentally never feels good. However it's worse when you have to cram your foot that evening in to a closed toe (haven't-been-worn-in-awhile) shoe with heels, chase after a 2 year old and then have said 2 year old think it'd be funny to stomp on that foot.

  • Winter clothes you buy in the stores in Florida are not adequate for the kind of cold you can experience while walking from a parking garage to the National Aquarium in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. This Florida girl and a 7 degree wind chill don't get along all that well.


  • The amount of stuff you have to bring for two boys to entertain them in a 13 hour car ride, turned 16.5 hour car ride (on the way up, thanks traffic), a wedding and a late reception is laughable. But? My kids were amazingly well-behaved and wonderful.

  • 97% of weddings occur on Saturdays. 2.5% occur on Friday or Sunday. The other .5% occur on other days of the week. If you are going to a wedding on one of those "other" days of the week it's very important to remember what day of the week it is (you know, while you're on vacation and supposed to be forgetting that). So when you leave for the wedding at 5:41 for a supposed 13 minute drive to the wedding that is starting at 6pm and hit rush hour traffic, you shouldn't be surprised to be late and have to sneak in past the wedding party to quickly get a seat before the mothers of the bride and groom are seated... P.S. I made those numbers up.

  • There is never a bad time for fuzzy socks, flannel jammies and a snuggie in the winter.

  • Wegmans is the best grocery store ever.

  • I am excited about buying a minivan some day. (yes, you read that correctly!)

  • My children absolutely LOVED playing in the snow and were not fazed by the cold.


  • My hair? Looks fantastic in cold weather.


    Happy New Year everyone!