Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The best ever...

spicy food?

Name your best ever spicy food meal, please.

(Just something we were talking about today, trying to come up with best meals can be hard. So many of my favorite meals are surrounded around events and I don't necessarily remember what I ate at some.)

My best ever spicy meals...

a few come to mind.

  • Green chili from El Chapultapec in LoDo... before Lower Downtown Denver was actually cool and LoDo. I ate there when I was 18 with my then boyfriend. I cried their green chili burnt my mouth so bad. But for years after I went back for more.
  • My husband's green chili - modeled after El Chapultapec's but with a twist - smoked pork loin.
  • My first time eating Thai food when I was 18 also. It was spicy, and a bit hot, but the flavors were a taste sensation. I had never had anything so flavorful in my entire life.
  • Spicy tuna rolls from Pete's Sushi restaurant in Alaska.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Window up or down?

On the way home this evening it was gorgeous. Warm, sunny and the car felt vaguely hot and stuffy. I rolled the windows down.

Leif: "Roll my window up, I don't like it down!"


As a parent, every once in awhile you get a very clear glimpse into your child’s future and it is one of the most amazing things to see. And then you wonder if it is real. Will they REALLY be like this? Will I be hobbling around saying, “I KNEW you would be an engineer?” or "I knew you were a wild thing from day one!"

Leif is a pretty open book. My reading of his crystal ball says he will be an engineer. He says he wants to be a scientist, but I am pushing engineer. He also says he wants to come back and work with me after he goes to college. That would be really cool and all but at age 5.5 I am also guessing he is envisioning living with us… which I will someday put the kibosh on because I don’t want him to be one of “those” guys. But I am saving that discussion for later.

The non-mom part of me hopes he finds his way somewhere else because the world is so wide open with possibilities. But the mom part of me would love to have him nearby and he would fit in well here. Right now, this is what he aspires to do. Leif doesn’t like major deviations from his routine and while he seems to enjoy traveling, he enjoys more being at home in familiar surroundings. He likes his windows rolled up.

Skadi, on the other hand, is going to be my jetsetter. She recently requested that we go to the Cayman Islands. She enjoys flipping through catalogs and magazines and sometimes gets bent out of shape if I throw away a catalog before she has had the opportunity to flip through it. “Why is this in here mommy?” she squeals when she finds a catalog in the trash. She snatched the "Pottery Barn Kids" catalog out of my hands this evening before the mail could even land on the countertop.

The other day she found the new “Food and Wine” magazine and flipped it open to the ad inside showing a family of four standing in a beautiful blue crystal clear lagoon petting rays.

Skadi: “Where is this mommy? Is this Seattle?”

Me: “Nope, it says it is the Cayman Islands. You have to get on a plane to go there.”

Skadi: “I want to go to the Cayman Islands.”

Me: “Yeah, I do too Skadi.”

Skadi: (Yelling to Hans as he walked in the door) “DADDY WE ARE GOING TO THE CAYMAN ISLANDS!”

And for a solid week we have heard about the merits of going to the Cayman Islands.

Skadi usually starts the day by telling me where she would like to go that day. Up to this point it has mostly been going back to places she has already been – Seattle, grandma’s house, the zoo in Denver. But Saturday it was a zoo anywhere, “it doesn’t have to be Denver zoo mommy, there are lots of zoos!” (Just like she has heard that phrase before.)

For the first time I get that she is understanding the possibilities of going new places, places to “explore”, places with new things to see.

Skadi is a mover and shaker and I see her traveling the world. I don't know what she plans to do for work... but her window is down whipping her hair around her face.

A few weeks ago a number of the children in her class went to China and she was ready to hit the road with them. (It also cracked me up that while these kids were in China they were blamed for EVERYTHING. Me: “Skadi who drew on the Wii remote?” Skadi: “Alex drew on the Wii remote.” Me: “Isn’t Alex in China?” Skadi: “Yes, Alex is in China AND he wrote on the Wii remote, can we go to China?”)

There has been enough talk of the Cayman Islands lately that she has AB and I craving a beach and sand too… someday.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Goals update

AB suggested that his cleaning the carpets in the playroom should count as a monthly goal.

Ok, sure, I can add steam cleaning to the list.

Yes, I AM one of those people that will add something to a list just so I can cross it off.

March is only about half way through and I have accomplished my goals. Mostly. Pillowcase dresses are made. Cross stitch is started. Spice cabinet needs to be remeasured and ordered. Then done! (OH and the steam cleaning is done!)

This has of course, raised the question of what's next.

In an ideal, money laden world, AB wants to start an outdoor living area. We have ideas kicking around. But alas... I just don't see it happening.

So AB has relented.

Office? Playroom? Master Bedroom? Downstairs bathroom? All good options, but the one screaming for attention. The one where boxes have recently landed.

The office.

The big need for that room is book storage. Or book purge.

And file cabinet purge.

And maybe a spash of paint...

Productive weekend

I can't say that I actually did anything goals related... except for be attracted to random pillowcases. Yes, I have inherited a love for pillowcases and the possibilities that surround them...

But, we got loads done. Loads.

First what we didn't do. We didn't mow, trim, edge or clean the yard. Nope, that was done, but in the interest of not only time, but beauty (because I suck ROYALLY and so does AB at trimming shrubs), we paid someone to come in who knew what they were doing. Someone who knew what could be cut to the ground and what could be trimmed gently and who can actually cut a shrub into a cone. (With like three whips of a fancy chainsaw like trimmer that made AB a touch envious.)

I did go rent a steam cleaner and remove all the toys from the playroom so AB could steam clean the carpet up there. And it looks fabulous! Seriously it was pretty ick when we moved in and one of the goals this year will probably be to rip out that carpet (that attracts our pets - who never ever soiled carpets before) and put in bamboo flooring in there and through the upstairs hallway. But that won't happen for some time and since we would like to actually use the room, we steam cleaned. And then wondered how much a steam cleaner might actually cost? And its usefulness in real life?

The kids have spent most of the later afternoon and evening playing up there. Without the toys put back in. This has additionally prompted me to look at all the toys stacked in the hallway wondering how many should really go back in? If a big OPEN space might be more utilized by the kids?

I packed up Skadi's 2T's. Most of them. Some still fit her. But most of them are in a big plastic bin. Sigh.

I got some groceries and whined a little about our lack of decent markets here. I whined just enough to prompt agreement that we should probably stop at Cost Plus World Market on our way to Silver Mountain next weekend. AB has a love of harissa and we are out.

We had an evening off from cooking as we went to a friends' house for game night. Loads of fun. Made me want to do the same. Soon. I only had to play a few games of Uno, until another little boy showed up with a NEW Uno game that shoots cards. Leif has actually decided he would like to spend his piggy bank money on that game instead of continuing to save for the Harry Potter Wii game. I would think this noble and be proud except that I think he is just angling for us buying it for him for his birthday (in 4 months).

And I actually started giving more serious thought to Skadi's birthday party. We officially nixed the gym party. Skadi then decided that she would opt out of inviting her girl friends if only Coach Brett would come to her party and tell her she is beautiful. Sigh.

Yeah, nixed that. Poor neglected three year old never gets what she wants. It will be a small princess dress up party with her four closest girl friends. I am planning a "tea-style" lunch. A pile of dress up clothes. (Cameras) And decorate your own cupcake bar.

One of the last things I got to thinking about this weekend was courtesy of church. How can I better serve others. It's awfully easy to write a check.

AB wants to go to Honduras next year to work in a village that the church has adopted. He is feeling pretty strongly about this and this makes me proud of him.

I am presently reading Stones Into Schools and for the second time, I am feeling particularly motivated and moved to help in this movement to build schools for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan. No, I don't envision going there. I don't think that I could actually go there for certain reasons. However, I would love to do something to raise money for the cause.

Ideas anyone?

Just wondering...

If everyone wouldn't mind going back and re-entering your comments back for the last 5.5 years?


(Yes, I lost all my comments. As suspected. That bums me, but I needed to make the switch before I paid for inconsistent, ugly commenting service. Live and learn.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Boys will be boys?

Otherwise titled "Am I raising a mama's boy?"

Hans and I don't really battle over anything. We are pretty easy going people and easy going parents. But one thing we aren't seeing eye to eye on all the time is how to raise a boy.

Me, being the know it all mom, who always knows what's best for her boy, and apparently has loads of experience to draw on given that the last boy born on the side of the family I am close to was 50 years ago - my Uncle Robert. Yes, my tongue is stuck well in my cheek. (He is no model for effective parenting as a son or a parent.)

So why I don't defer all matters of "boyness" to my husband I don't know.

AB, one of three brothers and himself being male. Might have an idea. I know.

There is a boy in our neighborhood who goes to Leif's school and conveniently lives on one of the parks we frequent weekly within 3 blocks of our house.

Great, right?

Wrong. The kid is awful! He has a horrible potty mouth, he is a brute, he is a whiner (yeah, I know *my* son has *never* whined...) and he is mean.

And his dad is so excited we are nearby and always sends him out to play when we go to the park in addition to giving us his phone number a few times now so we can call in advance when we are coming over.

And I keep losing the phone number.

And AB keeps looking for it and kicking himself for not calling before going.

My tongue was bloody from all the biting I did on Sunday when he and Leif and another boy from the sister room played. AB claims it is all "boy stuff". Leif doesn't take it seriously, he tells me. It's just boy macho crap.

But I do. I despise hearing the things this boy says to my son.

I admit, Leif loves his mama lots and has promised that even when he is 13 he is going to snuggle and love me even more than infinity plus 51 (the Leif to mommy love meter last night). He IS going to remain the sweet little boy that he is and that I am enjoying right now.

I fear what comes next.

Example: Leif had to go and break my heart and decide he wants his hair cut. Like all the other boys in the class. And like daddy's. Short. And so it sticks up in the front.

Just rip my heart out right now!

He did agree to "think about it" until this weekend and if he still wants it buzzed this weekend we can do it.

Correction, AB can do it.

Because I don't think I can.

"The SUN man!"

First I am just going to say - and I posted this on Facebook a month or so ago. Seeing some guy jumping and dancing wildly on a street corner dressed as the Statue of Liberty? Not a big selling point to me in picking someone to do my taxes.

However, I will say that for 3.5 months of the year this does provide a huge amount of entertainment to the apparent target audience.

Skadi calls him "the sun man".

The other day, "Hims the sun man, why hims dressed like a sun mommy?"

Yesterday Skadi: "Sun man is dancing mommy! I am going to wave at him!"

Yesterday Me: "Please don't. Please."


Yesterday Me: "No." (Pressing the gas pedal harder.)

Today: "HEY SUN MAN! HI SUN MAN!" (Followed by loads of laughter. Loads and loads.)

Can April 15th get here sooner?

Bye bye Echo

I really hope I don't lose all my comments, but it is a distinct possibility.

See if I hadn't been with Haloscan for 5.5 years then I wouldn't have the old html integrated system whereby they have to go through and pick the bits out of my template.

I just can't do Echo. So glad I didn't pay for the service and opted to test for 30 days. Really glad. It's slow. It's ugly. It's unreliable.

My template is in to have the bits picked out and so in the next few days I will be reverting back to what I should have done on day 1 - Blogger comments.

And if I am really lucky I won't lose all my comments to date.

Why do I not feel optimistic about this?

Sunday, March 07, 2010

March Goals Update

This month is good for me mentally... pretty much. Ok, the trip to Home Depot yesterday wasn't exactly good for me mentally... more on that later.

I have always loved crafting - of certain types. I enjoy creating a lot, though as a working mom, I don't often get the opportunity to do this. I needed a month for me, a month not centered around improving our home.

My Orange Tree cross stitch is started and I have been working on that a few evenings a week. I enjoy cross stitching a lot, though not a huge fan of the single stitches. I like to put a color on and move across the fabric. Not do one stitch. Last night I had two colors on the entire page (one page of twelve), I found a single stitch of each color. Not a huge fan of that. But oh well, I can deal and with these huge works of art, this IS to be expected.

Yesterday we went to Home Depot to the kitchen design center where we sat in front of a woman and her book of pull outs.

No, we don't know the brand of our cabinets.

Don't tell me that I have to know this for pull outs, I have found plenty of sites that sell non-custom pull outs.

No, we aren't going to replace the CABINET we want a pull out in.
No, we aren't going redesign our kitchen based on a single pull out. (?!?!)

I went about 10 steps back yesterday from everything I had looked up on the internet with regard to pull outs. Finally she pulled out a catalog from the exact website I had scoured recently, "oh yes, I guess this one company DOES make generic pull outs to install yourself". When I saw that all they are going to do is order it from the same website and put in a Home Depot adder, we left.

I will get the pull out ordered here soon.

Today I tackled the pillowcase dresses.

I estimated I could make one in under 2 hours the other day.


I can make three, including coming up with my own pattern and making loads of mistakes on the first one in under 2 hours. 1:45 to be exact. And I showed you the prices of the ones I found online right? $89 and $98 respectively.
Well I paid $8.99 for the pink flowers pillowcase from Pottery Barn Kids (it IS actually hard to find the *right* pillowcases for this. The pattern has to be oriented correctly and I don't need sheets with it.) Then I bought the white pillowcases for practices on clearance from PBKids for $1.99 each.
Ribbon spools of 5 yards for $1.99 each color from JoAnn's. Shiny, sparkly thread was the big expense at $5.99.


They are a touch big on her. (Glad I didn't try to do this last year.) But that means she can have them for a few years! They are quite adjustable too.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

When I am a big mucky muck...

If I RSVP to a meeting I will understand that means I will BE there!

I will remember back to being a little (bitty) mucky muck and how life changing it can be to know that a big mucky muck is coming to MY review.

Yeah, you guessed it. The big mucky muck and his entourage were a no show.

We even prepared additional material to bring them up to speed and provide background.

Oh well.

The meeting went great otherwise and not only do I think it moved me and my team up in the eyes of the mid-range muckies, but I also think it helped my credibility to my own team to see me stand up and vigorously defend our program.

My lead engineer that I pulled in is notoriously late and resistant to change on the team. Really like the guy and respect his technical ability... and it is his amazing technical ability that keeps him on the team.

But dare I say that he got it?

In today's team follow up meeting I heard him repeat the same phrases that management stated on keeping on schedule and the importance and uniqueness of this project.

I smiled a bit...

Hypochondriac Post #4

Graduate school was, in many ways, a step back for me. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that my colleagues also pursuing Ph.D.’s in physical chemistry and chemical physics weren’t the most touchy feely things in the world.

Add in to that my being a member of the opposite gender....

I suspect now that many of these guys came from my same mold. It was not awkward at all to sit in a room together and eat lunch and not say a word to each other. Walking in the lab didn’t merit people to stop what they were doing and welcome you or ask how your day was.

It was easy to settle back into that groove whereby interacting with others was not a necessity. I think back to the doctor’s office whereby I would see a person a few times a year for short spurts and would know so much more about them then the fellow grad students I worked with day in and out. It wasn’t until my final year in grad school that I realized I had developed good relationships with a handful of these guys… after only 5.5 years!

The doctor’s office was really the turning point for me. Talking to others and starting conversations is something that comes a whole lot easier for me now, though I often wonder if my teams tire of me always asking “how are you today?” when they walk into meetings. I wonder if they see through me and I wonder if they see me as a fraud asking this question!

Then on days when my team members phone me and share personal stories or events, like “oh, my dog of 15 years was put down today” or “I really enjoyed this book and wanted to know if you would read it and discuss it with me” or little things like when random smileys pop up on their e-mails. (Can I just say that while I use smileys in blogs and personal e-mails I am not sure if I have EVER used one in a work e-mail?) I feel that no, they know that I really do care. They don’t have to know that I learned this and that it was a long process, they just need to know that I do care. Because I do.

AB commented the other day when we were talking about the daycare rooms at school and I was trying to reconcile the fact that the parents of kids in Skadi’s room for the most part aren’t digging the room we picked for our kids saying it is “cold” and “unfriendly”. I balked a little! It is not! AB’s response was, “well not like you and I are the most warm and fuzzy people around to judge this”.

Nope, I am not. I tend to say things out of turn. I say things that don’t make sense to others. It isn't my natural impulse to hug my team members and I am not always the first friend to offer help. I sometimes have a blank look on my face while I try to process if a question requires a response and what, if any, an appropriate response would be.

As Robison stated in his book - it isn't a disease, it's just part of what makes me "me".

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Face time

I should really be headed to bed so that when my alarm goes off at 5:48am tomorrow morning I will bound out of bed and scurry down to do my exercises instead of roll over and complain that I didn't sleep enough. I really should.

But I have this big meeting tomorrow. Big big. Big as in when I stood in my manager's office the other evening with the lead engineer saying, "We have a meeting with X", she said, "yeah, I should probably be there, put it on my calendar".

It's a project review that would be typical except that the invitees are enough to make me gag a little. I didn't even have time to wonder if I was overreacting with my stomach flip flops before I got a note indicating that I might be feeling a touch nauseous at the list of invitees, but the goal of the meeting is the same as it is every quarter and to not get sidetracked. He suggested that it was just good for me to get some face time (which in my heart I was wondering if this is what they do before they fire you).

I am not sure I completely bought it at the time and so I quickly came up with my couple of people that "needed" to be there. And wow are they thrilled that I decided to pick on them!

Tomorrow I will be meeting my maker... or at least the person who signs my bosses bosses paycheck and his entourage.

And I will try not to say anything wacky, call them all by the right names, not say "umm" too much, not blush uncontrollably... and not look like I got absolutely no sleep. (Going to go work on that one right now.)

Which is worse...

The other day I went in to our season's pass on Tivo and killed Bakugan, Transformers, The Amazing Spiderman and thought about killing Clone Wars, but then thought twice that AB might miss that one.

Leif has tuned out to the TV. He has absolutely no interest whatsoever in watching TV anymore.

I wish I could say I thought this was a great idea and that instead he was reading or playing outside. But nope.

"Can I play a Wii game mom?"

"Well can I play a game on your phone then?"

"No? Can I play on the computer then?"

He is ALL about the interactive play.

We work hard to rein him in on the Wii... and my phone (which contains his favorite games - Battleship and Uno)... and the computer.

Part of me thinks that the interactive play is better for him then veging on the couch watching TV. But I am actually not convinced.

Sure, playing Wii he is far more active and I do think he is improving his coordination and dexterity. Have I mentioned that the kid stomps me at sword fighting? And on Saturday he ran 2.6 miles in 10 minutes on Wii Fit - that can't be bad for him, right?? I think it has helped his concentration too. (I can't get him to look away when he is playing...) But you know, call me old fashioned, I am just not sure this is the best thing.

Leif is going to have a tendency, like AB and I, to absorb himself in technology. AB and I both enjoy computer games (though neither of us has had an opportunity to play in ages) and before we had kids could waste an entire day conquering the world or ridding it of all evil.

But 5 years old? And do I even admit that Leif knows the parental controls 4 digit code? And not only that but has gone into the Wii store and purchased a game on his own? Technology seems to come easy to him - he uses the word "download" in his sleep. Literally. I have heard him.

We have tried a few different tactics - Wii as reward worked for a little while. Taking away Wii privileges for negative behavior worked as well. If you want Leif to do something it is easy to offer Wii or suggest losing Wii privileges. He jumps like no ones business then.

I remember being in 5th grade and staying in from recess to play Lemonade Stand and Oregon Trail on the computer. I LOVED those games. Loved them. I remember my teacher MAKING me go outside. Yeah, I feel like my teacher.

At church the other day our pastor suggested that interactive entertainment or interactive being is the wave. Expecting people to sit and listen without participation is a cause for decline in the church. As he spoke about this I sat there thinking of Leif... he has caught that wave and is riding it like a pro.

But I don't want him to live in fantasy land.

How to handle this? What is the answer?