Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The List I Thought You'd Never See

Welcome to my 100th post!  It's hard not to give a nice round number like that some special notice. So to commemorate this feat in blogging continuity and self-discipline, I am going to do something that I usually don't like to do. I'm going to give you the "100 Things About Me" list! (insert fake enthusiasm here.)

I know what you're thinking:  Hasn't she already given us this list?  Isn't that what the 99 previous posts were all about? That's what I thought originally too.  I mean, really what is my blog (almost anyone's blog for that matter) but an acceptable platform from which to talk about myself and things I deem funny, important, shocking, lame, etc. You're right, you already have nearly 100 things about me.  BUT your list is not in a concise presentation that is really usable. Your list is spread out over more than a year of posts and it would be oh so hard to find something specific in your list, making it very frustrating for you to refer back to (as I am sure you have wanted to many times).  So I'll organize it a little better for you.

And furthermore, I am not even sure I can come up with 100 things about myself that are list worthy.  Surprising, I know. But, at times like these, I question what I really know about myself. So, this also is a personal challenge to see how well I really do know me.  It's not all about you afterall.

And don't we all have a little Toby Keith in us, right? Wanna talk about me,wanna talk about my, wanna talk about number one, oh my, me, mine. What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see...

So here goes:
  1. It takes me a while to get to the point.
  2. I like lots of details.
  3. I married my college sweetheart.
  4. I said I would never get married.
  5. I'm glad I change my mind.
  6. I love to write.
  7. I love photography.
  8. I am a coffee addict.
  9. I remember almost every phone number I have ever seen, heard, or dialed.
  10. My memory for useless information is astounding; it spans decades and genres in unbelievable proportions.
  11. But I have difficulty remembering what books I have read.
  12. I need lists to keep it all together.
  13. I like things organized my way, preferably on a list.
  14. I always think I can improve whatever it is I am doing.
  15. I love the mountains, specifically the Great Smoky Mountains.
  16. It's still hard for me to believe I have 2 great boys. (not believe they are great, just believe that this is my life with these 2 wonderful kids.)
  17. I still love snow, in reasonable amounts.
  18. I use the same kind of mascara that my mom first bought for me when I was prepubescent - Maybelline Great Lash, brownish-black.
  19. I am the youngest and only girl in our family, with 3 older brothers.
  20. I like doing nice, unexpected things for other people.
  21. I wish more people would do nice, unexpected things for other people.
  22. My favorite clothing item is a great fitting pair of jeans.
  23. My second favorite clothing item is a great pair of boots.
  24. I wish I lived close to my immediate family members (all of them).
  25. I wish I was one of those people who stayed in their hometown and loves living there.
  26. I am glad I moved away from my hometown.
  27. I have conflicting feelings about many things.
  28. I love being from the South.
  29. I don't like professional football.
  30. I love SEC football.
  31. I can knit and crochet.
  32. I'm killing you with this.
  33. I volunteer for my kids' school and scout packs.
  34. I love the movie "Cliffhanger" and I don't know why.
  35. I worry so much for my kids' futures sometimes that I can't enjoy the day we're living right now.
  36. I have faith that they will have wondrous lives and come out just fine.
  37. I don't understand how the internet works...I think it is magic.
  38. I have lived in Maryland for 8 years and I still don't like eating crabs.
  39. I like to cook when I am happy.
  40. I like to eat when I am sad.
  41. I used to be a tax accountant and a CPA.
  42. That life seems so far away.
  43. I speak a little French and wish I spoke more.
  44. I like to pretend I have a British accent and when I do, my name is Fiona.
  45. I need to work on patience.
  46. I can't wait to see the adults my boys become.
  47. I don't want my boys to grow up.
  48. I had braces as an adult and am so glad that is over.
  49. I want to live in the American West before I die, surrounded by huge mountains, vast deserts and amazing skies.
  50. I love the art of Georgia O'Keefe.
  51. I met my oldest best friend on our first day of college.
  52. I met a few of my newer best friends on my son's first day of preschool.
  53. Making this list is easier than I thought I would be.
  54. I love the kids' shows "Peep" and "Arthur".
  55. I have watched every season of "Survivor" and firmly believe it is only reality show that we need.
  56. I never watched ER or Sex in the City, not even a second of them.
  57. I am concerned about our country's economic, political and global situations.
  58. I think our government is as peopled with egomaniacs and misguided folks as is Hollywood.
  59. I sound like my parents.
  60. I like the idea of being liberal but not the reality of it today.
  61. I need to change the subject.
  62. I have a perfectly rational fear of clowns.
  63. I believe all citizens have the right to know when a clown, mime, ventriloquist with dummy or flamboyant magician moves into their neighborhoods.
  64. I have a fear that I will stand in my own way and never reach my potential.
  65. I am a pop-fiction snob...only a small percentage of it is good in my opinion.
  66. I prefer to read bad non-fiction to marginal fiction anyday.
  67. I love anything by Jon Krakauer.
  68. I am realizing how opinionated I am.
  69. I believe that you have a huge amount of control over your own life and your beliefs take you where you think they will.
  70. I believe in a higher power and a greater framework that we can't even begin to see.
  71. I respect your choice of religious beliefs, just don't maim, kill or attempt to prosthelytize me if I differ.
  72. I believe no one is exactly right.
  73. I have never been good at answering questions like, "where do you want to be in your life in X years?"
  74. I'll wake you up when I am finished.
  75. I am thankful for the conveniences of our times but I wish we lived simply like Half-Pint and Pa Ingalls.
  76. I have a wonderful network of family and friends and am thankful for them.
  77. My husband still makes me laugh.
  78. I love running and need the release, boost, balance it provides me.
  79. I wish I practiced piano when I was young.
  80. I can still play the intro to "I Write the Songs" pretty well.
  81. I am amazed by the changes that life brings.
  82. I am all over the place.
  83. I find empirically unattractive people attractive IF they are funny.
  84. Ben Stiller is a hottie.
  85. I always a felt a bit behind the curve in what is cool, just ask my high school friends.
  86. I don't care about that now.
  87. I love being a stay-at-home mom, but most days don't admit it.
  88. Even on days when I complain bitterly, #85 is still true.
  89. I can adapt to most situations.
  90. I always wanted to be a singer but believe there is still time.
  91. I want to grow really old but feel young the whole way there.
  92. I am a yeller but I don't mean anything by it.
  93. I can be difficult to live with but my friends might find that hard to believe.
  94. I have a fantastic husband who has figured out how to live with me and does it quite well.
  95. I don't like to fly.
  96. I love to laugh until I cry but I don't get to do that often enough.
  97. I like sweet and salty food combinations.
  98. I make really good guacamole.
  99. I feel much younger than my age states.
  100. I live an enchanted life.
If you made it this far, thank you for indulging me. Was it as good for you as it was for me?  I hope so.  I always hope to be giving as much as I receive.  And I promise to NEVER do that to you again.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Heart of Rock n' Roll is Beating in our Children

There is always a lot of music in our house. At any given point, there is usually someone listening to music, playing an instrument, writing some music, or at a minimum, reading about others doing those things. My husband is a musician.  He plays guitar and piano.  But he is also one of those people who could play just about any instrument with some level of proficiency if you gave him a few minutes to fiddle with it.  Yes, even a fiddle. You can learn more about him and hear some of his music on his space here and you can buy his music on here on

Both of my sons are learning piano and my oldest is also taking violin lessons. They both are quite good and seem to have been born with large parts of my husband's music genes.  I, on the other hand, don't play an instrument anymore. My clarinet was retired immediately after the spring concert my senior year in high school. But I do love music and love to sing. So I am happy here in this musical home.

I just took a quick mental count and determined we have 22 musical instruments (mostly playable and some otherwise) in our home. Which is why our home was the perfect spot for our youngest son's Cub Scout den to work on their Music belt loop requirements last night.  Seven nearly seven-year-old boys learned about music, listened to some music, made a few musical instruments and then made some music of their own.

My husband led the musical discussion and exposed the boys to many types of music. He played classical, blues, boogie-woogie and jazz on the piano for them. He played some country songs on his acoustic guitar.

Throughout, the boys were interested and engaged. But when he brought out the electric guitar and the amp, they really got excited. When his picked up the guitar, they started whooping and cheering like Eddie Van Halen had just walked on stage. And just as that familiar electric crackle of guitar plugging into amp sounded, they were up on their feet screaming.  And as he stroked the first power chord, they began gyrating and dancing with abandon. It was an amazing sight. For most of the boys I assume, it was their first rock concert. But they knew just what to do. The only things missing were lighters held high and a hazy, funny smell in the air. The love of rock music and the attendant responses it provokes are hard wired into our children!

I only took a few images of the spectacle but this one really captures the frenzy that the boys were brought to.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Blueprint of Humanity Unveiled

The closest thing I have to a sister is one of my brothers' wives, L.  Over the years, L has been a confidante, a counselor, someone to laugh with and commiserate with. She began dating my brother when I was still in high school so she has seen me through my first big heartbreak, college applications, sorority rush, choosing a major, my second big heartbreak, the decision to go to graduate school, my first experience with the death of a close family member, graduation, real job interviews, my reunion with and subsequent marriage to my second heartbreaker, the birth of my sons, life as a stay-at-home mom, and on and on. She has always been a few steps ahead of me in life experiences so she could always share insight on what to expect on my next endeavor.

The only problem is that many times I believe she withheld pertinent information. I didn't see this until much later in our relationship so I can't cite any early examples. Most of the situations seem to be centered around pregnancy, childbirth and raising children. Like when I was pregnant for the first time. She was thrilled and was full of advice for me. She told me about morning sickness and cravings and sleeping on your side and all the things that I had read in a book or heard from my ob/gyn. There were a few fun pregnancy related body situations that I experienced that I didn't expect, like having to sit on a medical donut for the last six weeks of work (not going to give you any more details that than) before the baby was born. When I talked about it to L she said, "Oh, I'm sorry. There may have been a few details I forgot to mention." I thought, oh well, no big deal.

And then, after my first son was born, when I was deep in the throes of sleep deprivation and sore areolas, I talked to her one day between crying jags about how hard these first few weeks had been.  And she said, "Oh, I'm sorry. There may have been a few details I forgot to mention." Something in the back of my hormone addled mind noted a tinge of familiarity with that statement, but I paid it no attention.  I was too engrossed in feeding schedules and dirty diapers to spend anytime questioning her response.

There were many other times in the ensuing years when her tag line came out.  And I began to notice a little twinkle in her eye as she said the words. Her mouth even curled up mockingly a few times but she quickly recover to a face of concern. But the twinkle remained.

Then when I had a toddler and a preschooler running around the house and driving me to levels of madness I had not known existed, she gave it to me again. I can't even recall what the boys were doing at the time. I only remember my desperate, raging stage of mind and those words again..."Oh, I'm sorry. There may have been a few details I forgot to mention." But this time, there was a laugh!  I distinctly heard her laugh.  She even threw her head back in delight at the sheer humor she found in my situation!

Then I knew it for sure. There is a secret women's club. It's a club of many but each woman is her own little franchise of the bigger club. On the surface this larger club is all about women sharing womanly experiences and making it better for the next generation. But the little satellite entities have a different agenda. Their job is to have the appearance of following the larger group's mission all the while keeping the dirty details of the female reality out of the hands of the newbies until they are too far gone down the path of motherhood to turn back. That day when L laughed (in my face!) was my initiation into the club. I had shown my worthiness and had gone far enough into the motherly realm to be welcomed as a true sister in the club.

What is the purpose of this secret club you wonder?  I'll tell you. It's for the preservation of mankind. If young women embarking on the path of motherhood had access to the full blueprint of what was coming their way, the birthrate across that planet would plummet to nil. If young wives and first time preggers had an inkling of what their bodies and minds were about to undergo, things would get really ugly. And it starts even earlier than that...why do you think pubescent teens are taught to say things like, "Aunt Flo is visiting." It's so the younger ones have no idea what the heck they are talking about. Keep 'em in the dark until its too late.You just can't trust the uninitiated mind with this level of reality. It's not until some point (and it's different for each woman) that a woman is able to handle the depths of motherhood and be trusted not to do something rash.  You have heard that some animals eat their young. Sadly, these animals don't have access to the club.

The benefit of the club to both the women who make it to initiation and to the world as a whole is that the mothers get to the point where the sacrifice and humbling nature of motherhood becomes well worth it to them.  And their children thrive and survive and grow up be adults. And some of them (the girls) grow up and start the process themselves. But even their own mothers can't and won't give them all the details. The survival of our species depends on it.

Now I could hold a lot of other women in my life responsible since they didn't seem to be shelling out much information to me either.  But L seems to be the only one with the infamous tagline.  I came to find out, the club has a structure like a sorority "little sister" thing or an AA sponsor.  You're paired up with in a mentor relationship. It's works best that way.

So now when L says to me, "Oh, I'm sorry. There may have been a few details I forgot to mention, " I think of it as a secret handshake. The key to the city. Although, I do have a suspicion that there is another inner circle that I have yet to be brought into. I think it's got something to do with the another big life change I may be embarking on in the next 5-10 years. But so far L's not giving me many details. But I'll know something big is coming when I hear that tell-tale laugh again.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New and Improved

I hope your day is going along just swimmingly. I've been getting things organized this morning.

I finally started my Flickr account.  There are only a few images there right now but please check it out.  I'll add more soon. And I also have revamped my Zenfolio site a bit. It now has a cool slideshow feature. Fun!

And I've got buttons over to the right linking you to these sites too. Thanks for checking these out!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Wonder of It All

It was just announced that our county school will be closed again tomorrow making it the 8th full day of school missed due to the recent snowstorms. Clearly our area was hit extremely hard by the snow and our government hasn't fully been able to clear the roads and sidewalks enough to make them safe and passable for our students.  All the surrounding counties are back in session, if only under a reduced schedule, but I'm not going to comment on that. I would assume our county leaders are doing the best they can to get our kids back to school.  But it makes me wonder if more could have been done along the way.

And with all this time spent with my kids at home, I have been wondering about some other things.  Like, how much time does it take two boys to eat an entire bag of Goldfish.  Well, I really wasn't wondering this before they ate the whole thing.  But I wondered after when I found the scattered pile of crumbs leading to the basement and the empty bag on the basement floor. I then pieced it together. I think it was approximately 4 minutes. I saw one boy enter the pantry area at approximately 10:33 a.m.  I blinked and then he was gone.  At approximately 10:38, I descended the basement stairs, followed a trail of crumbs, saw the empty bag next to the two boys playing Legos.  They were no longer chewing.  So I assume it took four minutes to open the bag, shovel handfuls into their mouths, swallow and get back to playing with one minute to spare as I came down the stairs.

Then I wondered how long it would be before they asked for something else to eat.  It was only 15 minutes.

I also wondered how many times can you check your Facebook, Blogger and Hotmail accounts in one hour.  I lost count somewhere around 35 when someone interrupted my counting and asked me for a snack.

I then began to wonder how many times you can get away with pretending to listen to your child tell you the plot of Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark before he notices that you aren't really paying attention to the finer details. I got caught the third time when I reacted favorably to the part where the Nazis drop Indie and Marion into the snake filled tomb. That clearly was not a good turn in the plot and I shouldn't have said, "That's wonderful, sweetie."

After that, I began to wonder how many rounds of MadLibs you can play with a 9- and a 6-year old boy before the words "butt" or "poop" are offered up as viable nouns.  Not a full round.  Butt came up right away followed closely by poop. I couldn't get too upset when one of them pointed out that poop could be used as a noun or a verb. At least he had retained something they had learned at school.

Then I wondered how I am going to get my kids back on a normal school routine, if and when that day arrives. We've been staying up and sleeping in hours later than we would during the school week.  We have been eating at times and in amounts and varieties that are more like a holiday time than just an average week in February. We've had family movie night replete with popcorn and treats six out of seven nights a week.  We've had more homemade hot cocoa in the last two weeks than the boys have had cumulatively in their entire lives. How can we just get up one day and head back to school like none of this has happened?  There will be repercussions.

We need rehab.  We need to be detoxed.  We need a 12-step program. Or maybe we need boot camp. Yes, a good hard dose of accountability and routine would whip us back into shape.  I just wonder which one of us has the presence of mind to be the ranking officer in that scenario...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Iva Jean

My Oma was proper southern lady. She wore lipstick to breakfast. She could pull off wearing some hats that most could not. She played bridge and served in the church circle. She knew there were ways to behave and ways not to behave. And she had lots of saucy ways to let you know into which camp your behavior fell. I like to call them "Omaisms", her concise quips of life lessons, dished out with a drippy sweet southern drawl.

"Can't never could do nothing," she would say. This confusing yet accurate triple negative was used to challenge displays of low self-confidence. As in, "I can't ride a bike!" "Well, can't never could do nothing." How can you argue with that? What does that mean afterall? Is it "You're right, you can't do that" or "you can do anything you want"? I'm still not exactly sure.

When it came to keeping secrets, gossiping, and public behavior in general she would counsel, "If it's not something you'd be proud of, don't write it down." This was her way of making sure things you said and did wouldn't come back to haunt you. Good advice. This was before these days of life online, so I would say this goes for photographs and videos too now. I am very careful about what I put in this blog. I don't put anything in here that I can't deny. Some politicians, celebrities and Facebook users should heed this advice.

Oma could have been a pioneer in the homeschooling movement. She asked us kids many times, "Why don't you just stay home with me today and be my little ignoramus?" Oma was also a master in sarcasm as this was clearly said tongue-in-cheek so all you homeschoolers out there, do NOT get angry about that one.

She also had great health and beauty tips. Whatever ailed you, needed moisturizing or just looked a little odd could be fixed by putting Super Lube on it. I don't really know what Super Lube was, but it came in a small tub and was a pink, Vaseline type substance. Strangely, I googled it but only came up with links to auto products and services. But my brothers and I survived our childhoods wiping the pink stuff on our cuts and abrasions.

Oma was a card shark. She played bridge with the ladies but she also knew almost every other card game known to man. I learned canasta, wagon wheel, 21, rummy and all its variations, hearts and so many versions of solitaire, all by the age of 8. We would play for hours. Sometimes just the two of us, sometimes with my brothers and parents too.

We also played "Find the Thimble". I assume she made this one up to occupy us when she had run out of other ideas. Literally, she would hide a thimble somewhere in her living room amid all the knick knacks and trinkets and we would have to search for it. Whoever found it got to hide it the round. I am amazed that that game held our attention as it did. If I introduced that to my kids they would ask if there was an app we could download for it. But we played Find the Thimble competitively and today I could kick any of my brothers' asses in a game.

Oma also had a good sense of direction. The address for any place remote was "44th and Plowed Ground." As in, "You know the Eggers' farm, it's way out Louisville Road, past 44th and Plowed Ground." You knew right where she meant.

These are my early memories of a lady who would have been 102 today. Her legacy lives on though our family. Not a holiday or family gathering goes by without a reference to some memory of her. Silly or serious, we live by our Omaisms today and always.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Doppleganger Revisited

A few weeks ago all the Facebook junkies were changing their profile pictures from pictures of themselves to ones of their celebrity doubles. Doppleganger week it was. It didn't participate because I couldn't come up with anyone even close that I look like.  I concluded that a 5'1" frame topped by unruly coarse red hair and the occasional adult acne doesn't rise to the top of the celebrity cream.  Alas, the week and the fad passed.

But today I'm bringing it back 'cause I found my double!  Can you think of who it might be?  I know I'm a hard one to pin down.  But my double is soooo famous and soooo popular right now.  And my double and I have lots in common, more than just looks.  Here are a few hints.
  • we both have crazy red hair
  • we both have fair complexions (did I need to say this?)
  • we are both alive right now
  • my double can defy gravity and parts of my body defy gravity
  • my double's nickname is "The Animal" and I like animals
  • my double has clothing line 4 Target and I shop at Target
  • my double is a snow boarder and I am bored of snow
  • my double is in Vancouver right now and Vancouver is on my TV right now
There are so many similarities!  We could almost actually be the same person! But really I know there are a few minor differences. For instance,
  • my double drives a Lamborghini and I drive a minivan
  • my double has 690,056 FB fans and I have 139
  • my double has of lots trophies, medals and awards and I have lots of laundry
  • my double and I are not anatomically the same, if you know what I mean
Okay, have you guessed who it is yet? you go:

I know it might be hard to see the resemblance right away, what with all the Olympic hype surrounding Shaun, so here's a recent shot of me for comparison.

Uncanny, huh? And even weirder, is that Shaun and I at some point were in the same tele booth in London.

Even though, I had attempted to tame my crazy hair by cutting it off, you can still see the similarities. And the same phone booth! I told you the parallels were amazing!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Snowy Perspective

It's hard to capture an image of the magnitude of this recent double blizzard we just experienced. But maybe these images can give you a little perspective. Remember my sweet little Adirondack chairs. Here they are, last Thursday, sitting nicely in my backyard, enjoying a colorful sunrise:

And here they are on Saturday (just two days later and the morning after the first blizzard). They don't look quite so inviting.

And here they are this morning, after our second blizzard. That's them, those humps in the middle of the yard.

Care to sit a spell?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Frosty the SnowChicken

You've probably heard more than you want to hear about the Blizzard of 2010. And you've probably seen many images of the snowbound digging their way out of the over 3 feet of snow that has been dumped on the mid-Atlantic region. There have been many heartwarming stories of neighbors helping neighbors, folks sharing snowplows and shoveling each others' walks.

But what you haven't heard about yet is how Sticky Chicken is handling this excessive winter weather. Well, being the trooper that he is, he has done his share of snow shoveling just like the rest of us.

This was a huge feat for him for a number of reasons. First, I don't know how he was able to manage the shovel without thumbs, but he did it! Such an amazing bird. And of course, they don't make snow boots in his size. And even if they did, he wouldn't be able to keep them on due to his physical deformity. (If you are new to Sticky Chicken's story, click here for more information. Talks of forming a foundation are underway as you read this.) But on the bright side, he wasn't freezing his feet off like the rest of us.

Just being outside in this weather is so much harder for Sticky Chicken that it is for us. All he has to wear is a scarf. It serves double duty, keeping his neck warm and settling his somewhat irrational fear of decapitation. I've told him that sort of thing doesn't happen in our neighborhood, but he still worries about being taken by surprise. Aside from the scarf, he is naked. Yep, no feathers. We're not sure how he got plucked since he arrived at our house that way. He isn't forthcoming with the details and I suspect he has some very unpleasant memories of that day. So we've stopped asking. He'll talk when he's ready.

Sketchy past aside, Sticky Chicken still knows how to have a good time. After the shoveling was done, he still had enough energy to build a snowman just his size!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ode to Joy(ce)

I have been blogging for a bit over a year now. I didn't celebrate my blogiversary with a memorial post. But the passing of the one year mark has gotten me thinking recently about why I blog and what I have gained from it.

First, I've learned lots of new words: blogiversary, blogosphere, blogstipation, blogerati, blurker, to name just a few. Increasing one's lexicon is always good, right?  Even with words that aren't really words, right?

And blogging got me writing again. Writing was something I used to do a long time ago, mainly for myself. But I always loved it, thought I was decent at it, was always critical of others' (their writings, that is) and secretly wanted to write stuff that someone other than me would read. With blogging, I really don't know how much of this blather is really being read (except for the few commentors, thank you!) but it gets it out of me and makes me want to do more.

Blogging and my photography work well together. The images incite stories and the stories beg for pictures. Perfect match. Here's one that has absolutely nothing to do with anything I am saying, but I brought up photography so I felt like I had to include at least one image here.  And you may see these chairs in another setting, another post, another day.

Through blogging, I've connected with some really great photographers, writers, mothers, artists, and ordinary people doing amazing and simple things. As a stay-at-home mom, sometimes my world could get pretty small and routine. My world expanded once I entered the blogosphere.

One of the biggest benefits I have reaped from this blogging endeavor is one that was a bit unexpected. I have connected with my family through blogging. My family is spread out across the country and, in the not so distant past, across the world. None of us are good "phone people".  And we only see each other maybe a few times a year and those visits are usually hurried and chaotic and typically not conducive to good quality sharing time. You don't always get to say what you want or need to say. So I blog. I tell stories of silly things that happen, I share my warped slant on the mundane, I show my images so they can see what I see. I feel like we are having a conversation each time I click the "publish post" button.  Maybe I have a knack for one-sided conversations.  But that's not good, is it?

Anyway, I realized another benefit of these one-sided blogversations (another new word!) when it occurred to me that I really got to know someone through her blog that I had already known for more than 25 years. My sister-in-law, Joyce started her blog a bit over a year ago and she inspired me to start my own. Over the year-plus of blog entries, I came to know more about her than I had gleaned in the preceding 25 years. I learned that she is a really good writer. I knew she had a good sense of humor (a requirement to thrive in our family), but I didn't realize how funny she was in her own right. I knew she was a patient, thoughtful person (a requirement for marrying into our family) but her blog holds many examples of her patience and thoughtfulness in action.

How is it possible to know someone for so many years and not really know that much about them? Easy. You never live in the same city. You are always in a different stage of life. Even though our age difference now seems minor, when she came into our family I was just cracking open my first container of Tickle and was more than a decade away from marriage. (So as to not get Joyce mad at me To be fair, I was much older when I got married than Joyce was when she did.) And more recently, her youngest started college as mine started kindergarten. (To keep the peace again, To be fair again, I was the late bloomer on having children as well as getting married.) My nest is only empty for a few hours a day while her babies are making their own nests now.  Our lives never really had common ground until we met in the blogosphere.

My blog has been read by people clear on the other side of the planet, people I don't even know. But my point is that while blogs are generally intended to be sent out to any and all who happen upon them, I've benefited from blogging in a way that really is close to home. So thank you Joyce for inspiring me to start my blog.  It's been a great year!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Oh oh, We're Halfway There! Oh Oh, Livin' on a Prayer!

This post was originally intended to go out 3 hours ago. But the power went off as I loaded the last picture. So these images are 3 hours old  thus my data is obsolete.  I'll remeasure the snow again later.  But thankfully, the power is back on.  Here's the original post:

I don't know why Bon Jovi popped into my head as I looked at these images. But I do know it is supposed to keep snowing for another 12 hours.  Are we really only halfway there?!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

First Grade Fine Art

Both boys are home from school today with a stomach virus.  I'm not going to tell you about how many loads of laundry I have done as a result. I'm not going to talk about how many Clorox disinfecting wipes I have run through. And I'm not going to even mention the word vomitorium.You should look that up. Really, it's not what you think.

What I am going to tell you is that I noticed something today that has been staring me, so to speak, in the face for weeks and I only now recognized it. I guess being cooped up in the house today with all the bleach fumes has enhanced my perception. See, back in December, Son#2 made a gingerbread man at school. A big brown construction paper cut-out one that he and all the other first graders decorated to their own liking.
Gingerbread Man came home from school and was prominently displayed on a door in the kitchen where all current and highly prized artwork goes. We all oohed and aahed over the detail and choice of embellishments that our creative son chose. We noticed right away that this Gingerbread Man was an amalgamation of things that our son was obsessed with way back in December.  He is fashioned after Harry Potter, sporting the infamous lightning-shaped forehead scar.
 And he is a Cub Scout.  You do see his uniform, right? We didn't either at first. But anyway, back to my eagle-sharp perception.

Gingerbread Harry the Scout hangs on the door all January and then today I pass by with an arm-load of sheets, dirty I think, and I see it. It had been there all along and I, or anyone else in the house, never saw it. Until today. Gingerbread Harry the Scout is anatomically correct. He has a thing! Albeit a green beaded one, it is a thing. In case you missed it too, here you go:
How did I miss this?!

It's perfectly positioned and was clearly placed with intention. I should have known! I'll say it again, Gingerbread Harry the Scout is an amalgation of things that our son is obsessed with. (Can you read the meaning here?!) I guess this obsession starts earlier than I thought.

Oh well. Maybe this is how Michelangelo got his start.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Back by Popular Demand

Because you wanted it, because I felt terrible about you not knowing, because I couldn't imagine how you were making it through the day, wondering, worrying, obsessing about what was really going on.  For these reasons, I brought it back:  my mileage tracker.  You should feel better already.  Your little savior is over there to the right again, under "Status Quo".  That means "the existing condition or state of affairs."  And I added something to it this time.  Not only will I be tracking my total running mileage from the beginning of this year, I will also be tallying the number of abdominal workouts I do.  You can see that January was a quiet month for my torso.  Apparently, my abs have been likin' their soft and squishy status quo and have said "status no" to crunches.  Unfortunately, you need a strong core to run a decent distance and not end up hunched over like a "C" at the end of your run. So my legs say to my abs, "Game on!"  Interestingly, my attitude is taking sides with my abs so we'll see how this plays out...


Monday, February 1, 2010

Running Down a Dream

I had a running dream last night.  Not the kind that dogs have where their paws are twitching about while they sleep, but a real runner's dream.  In my dream, I was racing in a 5K.  For some reason this race was indoors as in through the hallways of what looked to be a school.  Weird, I know.  Maybe it was a fundraiser for the school.  Anyway, you had to run through the hallways, up and down stairs, cut through classrooms.  There was one section of the race which was a loop that you had to complete twice before going on to the next portion of the race route.  Well, I got mixed up and started to do the loop only once, but I realized this about 30 yards past the point where I was supposed to loop again, reversed, corrected my course and got back on track.  This broke my pace and concentration and generally made the rest of the race mentally challenging.  Oh, and did I mention that I was carrying a purse?  Yep.  About that.  Don't really know how that plays into the meaning of this dream, but I started that race with my purse hanging on my left shoulder like it always is (not when I am running, but usually when I am not running).  At some point in the race, after the course correction, I got really irritated by my purse.  It kept slipping off my shoulder.  I kept jerking it back into place.  So finally around mile 2, I just dropped it off in a locker. Maybe it was my locker. I don't know.  But anyway, I got rid of the purse and then finished the race.  And my time was exactly what my time was in the first 5K I ever ran!  Crazy, huh?

That is weird but also very frustrating and motivating for me.  See, I did my first 5K almost 6 years ago.  I did this race with virtually no preparation and no running history (read not a great finish time.) I ran a little bit here and there for a few years and then I really started running three years ago.  I ran alot for about 2 years and got pretty fast for a 40ish, previously non-athletic type like myself.  Then I was stopped in my tracks by an organ gone bad and didn't run for about 8 months.  I am running again and am in the very early stages of building back my mileage and my speed.  So therein lies the frustration - a 5K time that hasn't changed in 6 years!  I know it was a dream and I know I had a set back.  But rebuilding stinks!  It's worse than building (for the first time) because you know what you used to be capable of.  When you are building, you have no idea what you can do so every little improvement is amazing.  You expect more when you are rebuilding and that can get frustrating.

Now I am a firm believer (as most runners are) that running holds many metaphors for life.  And any dream analyst worth a dime would say that this dream has ALMOST NOTHING to do with running.  So here's my quick and dirty life through the eyes of a runner dream analysis:

  • Race route in a school = life is all about learning, we are students of life, etc.
  • Almost missing the second loop = setbacks arise in life - deal with it, taking shortcuts doesn't pay, life requires course corrections
  • The purse = easy one...baggage!!!
  • Same darn finish time = it is the journey that counts, hare v. tortoise allegory

Or this dream could just be about running.  Either way, it motivated me....I got up this morning and did speed work.  It was hard but I made it through by thinking about what was in that purse....