Friday, December 31, 2010

Random Stuff on New Years Eve

I love my daughter, she says the funniest things.

Skadi: "Is it today mom?"

Me: "Yes."

Skadi: "YAY! I am so glad it is today!"


I am drinking my last pumpkin spice latte of 2010.


I bought that remote control helicopter mostly for Leif. I am just so thrilled I bought it for LEIF. I am getting very tired of being chased by it by my husband!


53 weeks remaining of my 30's.


One year ago today was the last day my kids saw my mom.


We made lefse today. It is delicious. The last time I made lefse I made a huge batch and mailed half to my mom since it was about the only thing she was enjoying eating.


I am looking forward to friends coming over for a game night tonight.


I used to love downhill skiing. I didn't love it yesterday. It is awfully hard wrangling two young children on the ski slopes.


But those little bitty things sailing down the slopes with ease are so freaking cute.


My legs hurt. It is probably good that I didn't ski more than a few runs.


Pumpkin spice lattes are very, very yummy and it is very, very cruel that they are only available for a few months a year.


My jeans are feeling a bit tight after all the food over the past few weeks. Maybe it is good pumpkin spice lattes are only available three months a year.


There's that stupid RC helicopter again.


I wonder how it would fly if a rotor were missing?


Lemon meringue pies are a serious pain in the rear to make.


I don't think I will ever master meringue. Like ever.


Chain restaurants that sell meringue coated pies have some serious molecular gastronomy thing going on.


Must remove rotor.


Speaking of molecular gastronomy, was Top Chef not on this week?


It's like a hummingbird. And I despise hummingbirds.


They scare me.


When I was a kid my grandpa sent me outside to stand next to a hummingbird, I willingly went. I was wearing a sundress. I was attacked. I was never the same.


Oh, THERE are the sleeves I bought for cds and dvds!


Must set up my new digital frame tomorrow. I am so excited to get one for my office!


Wonder how the twins are doing?


I need to boil down all those chicken and turkey carcasses for pot pies. Tomorrow. I will do it tomorrow.


The last two weeks have gone way too fast.


I remember when I was 13 and stayed up till midnight at my best friend's house in Casper. Right after midnight I called my mom to wish her a happy new years! She was sound asleep and so not happy with me.


I can totally understand my mom right now.


Wow, I must be really old to need a latte at 6pm to stay awake past 10:30pm.


I have no idea what to get AB for his birthday. Does the 3 night vacation skiing at Silver Mountain that weekend count?


Yep, I think I am going to put both kids in ski school when we go to Silver in 2 weeks and go back to the condo and read. The.entire.time.


How am I EVER going to put down The Girl Who Played With Fire and read The Alchemist for book club next Friday. (Sorry RAB.)


Love the fact that the RC helicopter has a short battery life. Silence. No hummingbird hovering over my head. (No husband standing around the corner laughing.)


Wow, that pumpkin spice latte went fast.

Maybe there is something to it...

I used to be a diehard horoscope reader. I got it from my mom. She bought horoscope calendars and read hers daily. I have dropped off in my dedication. But sometimes I catch a glance and it is a bit freaky how true it can be.

Year 2011 Overview
'Change' is your middle name at this point, Capricorn. You've been through more personal transformation in the past two years than perhaps in your entire life. The upside is that you're getting used to the intensity of it all. It helps that you're realizing the futility in holding on to people and possessions that only stunt your growth. So many layers continue to be shed on a daily basis but this also gives way to unquestionable personal power. Pluto in Capricorn will carry on for another 14 years; so if this is just the tip of the iceberg, imagine who you will be on the other side of your metamorphosis.

This year the focus shifts from a lifestyle focused on gadgets, information and social networking to introspection, home and family. You are about to encounter your most uncensored raw self on levels as of yet unprecedented. Ready yourself, Goat, because this spring an explosion of fiery planets in Aries sweeps the very base of your horoscope getting you back in touch with some of your most primal instincts. Competition, aggression and the need for plenty of physical outlets ensue.

Some long-standing money issues are finally coming to a finish as the planet of illusion and delusion gets ready to move on to your communication sector. You've learned to use your discrimination in choosing where to invest and where to spend. For the next 14 years, instead of worrying about money leakages you'll be working on mindfulness to avoid spacing out. In any case, your way with words is apt to become poetic and inspired, which can only make the world appear infinitely more beautiful.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

4.5 Days Remaining

We are on the downward slope from 2 weeks off. The kids are still enjoying their time off as am I. I haven't reached that point yet where I am longing to get up and go in to my office.

Before the two weeks off I made a list of what I planned to do, let's check the progress:

Organize recipes - Does it count that all my recipes are in one general location?
  • I have recipe boxes from my grandmother. They are old metal boxes with recipes unsorted into categories. Not to mention, that they are recipes that I am unlikely to ever make. I like having them for the attachment to the past. My grandmother was not organized, nor was she a cook. She was a master of one dish casseroles and spaghetti sauce made from tomato soup and Velveeta cheese.
  • I have one recipe box that was my mom's and it is the opposite. Neatly written out cards all organized carefully. When my sister asked me for a peanut butter pie recipe and key lime pie recipe, I had my hands on them in a matter of minutes.
  • My recipes fall somewhere in between. My large box crashed and burned and not knowing what to do with the gazillion cards at the time I put them in a Ziploc freezer bag. As long as you don't jiggle around the bag, they are still reasonably organized.
  • Anyways, obvious that I haven't figured out what to do with these? I am not sure I want to intermingle the eras yet. So for now, the recipes will all sit in one area in my pantry.

Finish quilt - yes, the one that I started, sure I could finish in three weeks, then the dog broke my sewing machine and I had to replace it - the sewing machine, not the dog - and then life got in the way.

  • I am happy to report that the quilt top is DONE!
  • I am thinking I might venture to JoAnn's today to get fabric for the back and batting.
  • I am also thinking that since my new machine has a little opening and this is a huge quilt that I will be handquilting this one. Any advice? I have only handquilted one quilt to this point.

Make salted English toffee.

  • Done and it is freaky delicious. I am partial to the sea salt version while my husband prefers the almond one.

Digital Music (I am sure I am supposed to organize it, organize my playlists, upload my cds or something here. My digital music simply needs attention)

  • I was funny to think I would get to this... Maybe it will be a goal for February?

Make lefse

  • Plan to do this on New Years Day, I think.

Make and decorate sugar cookies

  • Done and do I admit that they are very nearly all on my thighs right now?

Take kids to see Tangled

  • Done and it was a great flick. Even Leif liked it and talks about it. Skadi's favorite part was "all of it".

Take kids to open gym one (or more) afternoon at Garlands

  • Done once and not relishing the thought of doing it again. In fact, I haven't even told them this is an option. Love Coach and talked to him for a bit while there, and it was super that one of our friends brought his daughter with. But there were A LOT of kids there and I spend much of the time fretting about where Skadi was. I couldn't see her around all the equipment. The kids don't even realize going another day would be an option.

Organize Kitchen Desk and Desk Cupboard

  • Done, done, done! Yippee yay yay! And I even found the long lost address book and at the last minute got cards out. Phew!

Catch up on our recorded shows

  • We are working our way through this season of Glee and AB is anxious to get to the Halloween week themed one. (Hope he doesn't read this and find out that his secret is out!) We have not watched any Boardwalk Empire though because it appears that our DVR has been spotty with recording it. Sigh.
  • We did however, rent a movie! Actually I have seen two! Tara and I rented Sex and the City 2 which was a fun and lighthearted movie. I enjoyed it. AB and I rented Inception and it only took me three nights to get through it. Very good, but I kept falling asleep in it. Irony?


  • See my thighs.
  • AB's orange Turkish coffees are amazing. So were those couple bottles of wine we delved into. And my Ruby Red martinis...

Wear my pajamas past 7am.

  • This one was easy to accomplish since the kids have given us a reprieve and have been sleeping in until 8am most days. *I* have been sleeping in till nearly 8am.

Watch entire movies, not just bits from the kitchen, with my children. (I am allowing magazines or Kindles to be in my hands through this though.)

  • Yes, I have done this. I am all the way through my magazines and have a new high score on iPhone SkeeBall.

Plan my house projects for 2011

  • Done

Other things that have popped on the list? We are headed up skiing tomorrow. I am tackling Christmas decorations today. Walks on most days. Phone calls with family. All the stuff that matters!

The Zone

I have learned, during my days off over the holidays, that I really am not a good candidate for a work from home gig.

When I was a grad student I attempted to write my dissertation from home. That didn't work. I could not force myself to sit at the computer and write. Instead I cooked and baked, I took the dog for walks, I watched bad daytime TV and I called my mom. I cleaned. I would look around and see things that needed to be done and instead of doing what I really needed to do, I would get up and clean the catbox, or the fridge, or vacuum the apartment carpet that never seemed to get clean. Not to mention the internet... I would surf the net.

If I wanted to finish my dissertation I had to give it all up. I had to get up and go into my lab each morning and sit at the computer and write without allowing myself the pleasure of browsing the internet (huge time suck). I gave up my discussion board for a few months too. I had to finish that 300 page tomb.

Since then I have never really attempted to work from home. Sure there were days when one of the kids was sick and I would come home and put them in bed or in front of the TV and I would work.

That is so so so different from having two, very healthy children who play and fight and bicker and want to do art and play Wii and play on the computer or need a glass of apple juice or can I have this snack? and never at the same time.

There have been a few fires that have needed put out at work the past few weeks. Really, everything was semi-typical and all in the course of a normal days work. But doing this all from home? Really not my forte.

I suppose that it is easier if both kids are say over the age of 5. Leif is pretty independent and understands that "mommy needs to take this phone call now". But Skadi just does not care. I was attempting a three way phone call with two male coworkers and ended up saying, "not now honey" and may never hear the end of that.

Something happens when I get work on the brain. I get in this zone. It is like I am a race horse with blinders on making me incapable of hearing or addressing things going on around me. I am normally a good multi-tasker - able to handle lots of projects and WORK issues at the same time. This does not extend to home life and children.

I get the work groove going, my blinders are on and until whatever issue needs to be addressed is solved, my pace quickens, my mind races, my food goes untouched and my heart beats a bit faster.

Thankfully last night when I started getting e-mails from my east coast client (at 6:15pm), AB was there to jump in and save our children from starving and to let me pace the house with my phone in my hand, my fingers texting, my laptop remoted in.

And until things were solved (sorry to my coworkers I was texting at 9pm) to the level that I was satisfied and the product line notified on the latest actions, I was in the zone. Could.not.extract.myself.

And in the end - I was terribly pleased with myself for handling the issues that needed to be dealt with.

I know people who work from home, and quite effectively at that.

Not me. I need the serenity of my office with a door I can shut (and a window overlooking the river for occasional daydreaming) with little guilt. Guilt that comes from my own head as the zone pulls me from "make your own pizza night". Guilt that I place on myself for dividing my attention with an unfavorable advantage towards my work.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Staring down the 2011 goals

Last night we went for a nice walk around the neighborhood and up on the ridge above town. The kids and dogs ran ahead playing, giving AB and me a change to talk about the upcoming monthly goals.

The past few years, instead of annual New Year's resolutions I have undertaken monthly goals. It is easy for me to see changes by focusing one thing or set of things each month and then at the end of the month - regardless of doneness levels - I try to move on to something else. I like progress and doing goals this way enables me to see progress easily. AB used to give me a hard time about my monthly goals, but he has jumped on board recently. Most of the time lately we discuss the goals and work on them together. Except when it involves the garage and then I make myself scarce...

I haven't spent much time thinking about specifics of my 2011 goals until now. And I was actually looking for AB's input.

He announced straight away that he had a goal in mind - starting a boat. He has wanted to build a boat for awhile... ok, years. And he is thinking that January is the perfect time to do this.

He went on to suggest that going along with this it would be nice to get the garage cleaned out so that we can both park on one side and have the third bay to devote to the boat.

I reminded him that cleaning and organizing the garage - a non-heated garage - in January wasn't exactly my idea of a fun goal. But that he could have at it.

During 2011, we would like to tackle our dining room floor, the office floor and paint the walls. I would like to paint our half bath on the first floor. And we would like to renovate the back yard/porch area so that we have an outdoor living area like we did at the other house. However, I am feeling a bit miserly right now after a big vacation, Christmas and AB's last employer screwing up his last paycheck - which we have yet to receive.

AB suggested that it will probably be awhile before we get to the floors and that if I would like to paint either the dining room or half bath... I can.

This is where my mental block comes in. I am still not sold on a color scheme. And I want to be sure. Entirely sure. Way sure. 100% sold. And excited about a new color scheme too. And I am not at this point.

January 2011... seems that January according to the home magazines is all about organization. And I have spots in my house that could use some organization.

I have a list started so far:

Recycling Bins - right now our recycling gets stacked on the counter until one of us head towards the big bin - and remembers to take recycling with. We intend to continue to recycle now that the program is in full force in our region. Why not make this permanent and get some recycling bins?

Dog Food - the dog's food is presently in a trash can that is missing a lid and is ugly. We need a new dog food holder.

Stairs - I toss stuff on the stairs that needs to go up. Then when *I* go up, *I* take the items with me and sort to the rooms at the top of the stairs. I am going to get some bins of some sort to put on the stairs with handles. Something I can put each of our names on. Stuff goes in the bins and here is the really novel concept... the KIDS can take their own bins up!

The Wii stuff - I need some organization method for all the Wii accessories. Seriously need this.

The desk in the office - it is a nice big open flat space with stacks of stuff. Seriously in need of some pen holders and desk organizers and the like.

Shelves for Leif's room - he has so many trophies from participating in sports and I haven't even unpacked a few boxes in his closet that contain breakable things because he doesn't have a good, safe place to put stuff. Shelves for his room would help with that.

And the last task for January that AB has encouraged. Let's decide once and for all on a color scheme for the dining room, office and half bath.

February (provided we have time - February may be a month off since I have a big client visit and then we are going to Palm Springs for a number of days) or March will be for painting.

Merry Christmas!

We had a quiet Christmas. It is the first Christmas in years that we have not travelled. I used to get a bit bent out of shape about always traveling for the holidays. Annoyed that no one would come to us for holidays. Now the fact that we are home is a bit bittersweet. In one instance I am relishing being in our own home for the holidays, while the next instant that fact is soured because the reason we are not traveling is that my mom is no longer with us. It hasn't been easy.

Little events have brought loads of memories. I normally do Christmas cookies early so that we can enjoy them through the season. Doing cookies this year was a bit tough and I procrastinated them until just a few days before Christmas. Memories of Christmas both as a child, as a teenager and adult flood through of doing cookies with my mom.

When I was a child my mom would cut them and bake them - making sure to never put different shapes on the same cookie sheet when baking so that they would all cook evenly. I thought she was horribly boring that way. Guess how I do them now? Yes, the exact same way.

Memories of "retarded" angels. No, I don't really mean to be anti-PC here - but back in 1980, "retarded" wasn't a horrible thing to say. When I was a kid we would always try and put faces on our angel cookies. My mom would laugh and tell us that was definitely a "retarded" angel.

As a high schooler, my mom would try to cut corners and change up the labor intensive cookie recipe that was my great grandmother's. It wouldn't take so long if we did this other recipe she would tell us. And my sister and I would roll our eyes. Because they never TASTED as good.

And as an adult my mom would wait to do cookies until we arrived in town and then we would go down to my sister's house and decorate them with her kids and occasionally my aunt and cousins would come down too.

Our Christmas Eve tradition was always to eat seafood and open one gift. Those lean years where we didn't have much, we would still have snow crab legs and my sister and I thought we were the luckiest kids alive. I made a friend's boulliabaisse recipe this year and it turned out fabulous and we were lucky enough to have king crab shipped directly from Alaska to put in it.

My kids had their one gift to open on Christmas eve which surprisingly turned out to be pajamas! (Do you know how hard it is to find Christmas - not winter - themed pajamas for boys in size 7??) Skadi cracked us all up when she opened hers, jumped around the room with a huge grin squealing, "It is EXACTLY what I always wanted!"

I may be deluding myself, or maybe it is what I need to believe to make things easier, but I believe that this was the first year that my mom was in our house with us on Christmas. I felt as though she was here watching all these traditions and partaking with us.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The 23rd already?!

Day six. I can pretty officially say that the holiday is in full swing. My work e-mail has dropped off to nearly nonexistent - I did get two e-mails from one client this morning. I replied with a note of thanks for letting me know and Happy Holidays. You know to acknowledge that I am here for them, then to remain open to all denominations and all, but to mostly say "HELLO I AM ON HOLIDAY!"

Yesterday there was a flurry of work activity again that sent me scampering on the way out to go see Tangled with the kids. At a recent review in Washington DC I had dropped my business card in many people's hands, like I am supposed to do. Normally I never hear anything back... but every once in awhile...

It was a visit request from a high ranking military official. I quickly replied back that I would be happy to arrange the visit and copied it to many levels of my management, like I am supposed to do. Of course pretty quickly thereafter I got a note back from the sector saying that this request will require extensive sector involvement and that they will be providing assistance in scheduling this visit and even went so far as to suggest that maybe we should suggest holding the meeting in Seattle to minimize potential weather interferences and travel difficulties on their part. We want to make sure there isn't ANY reason why they aren't able to meet with us. I will be working dang hard to keep my foot in this...

Oh that's right... we aren't talking work now. We are on holiday! And vacation! My focus is not work!

Tangled! Yes, we went and saw Tangled yesterday! It was very good. Really well done. Even Leif liked it. Skadi was mesmerized the entire time and announced her favorite part was "all of it was my favorite part". Truly well done and I highly recommend it.

AB and Leif played their parts (Innkeeper and Shepherd) in the Living Nativity. 12 of 15 shows down as of tonight. They are finishing the shows off tonight and I look forward to having my family home with me in the evenings again. Whenever I start feeling selfish I read the posts from local friends on Facebook who rave about the experience. Then pride swells. Leif has been great. He hasn't missed a show and has worked hard at his character role. I am proud of my husband for handling the torch well and "hip-checking" the donkey into place and not butchering the cranky camels. I am not sure camel would taste good...

Skadi and I have enjoyed our evenings together with Aunt Tara too.

My accomplishments:

Butter Toffee - Check!
Sugar Cookies Baked and Decorated - Check!
Divinity - Check! (Attempted at least, so it ended in the trash...)
Wrapping - Check! (AMAZING!)
Laundry - Ongoing Check!
New Tires for my Car - Merry Christmas!
Fish Stock made for Bouillibaise - Check!
Organize kitchen desk and cupboards - Check!

That list of things I want to do? (Quilt, Organize Recipes, Address my Digital Music...) It's moving up in ranks.

Orlando Vacation Day Four

Wow. Amazing to think this vacation as just about a month ago...
Animal Kingdom! Just over halfway done with our vacation at this point and I think we were all showing signs of wear. But we arrived at a new park ready to tackle it. At this point we had finally figured out the whole fast pass thing and knew to zoom our way to the Safari to retrieve fast passes first.

It is a difficult concept to understand if you haven’t been there. Why would I get a fast pass when the sign says it is only a 20 minute wait? I am here, right now! Well because the wait time isn’t always correct and there are a lot of things to do that have no wait. Get your fast passes and then walk over and do those things instead of stand in line. Then when your time slot comes up, walk on the ride. Yes, it took me a few days to figure this out – apparently I am a bit slow. Friends told me to use the fast pass system, but I didn’t really get why until I was there.

We hung out in Africa, the kids loved the giant toads, the hippos and the gorillas. There was a new baby gorilla that weighed in at a whopping 9 lbs who was the most adorable little thing on the face of the earth as she clung to her mama’s belly. Kind of made my uterus ache a bit…

Anyways, moving on.
Giant Toad: (The bowl is like a big dog bowl... not some little kitty cat bowl.)

The Safari was fun and a nice way to see a bunch of animals in a matter of minutes as we pretended to be chasing poachers. We caught up with our friends briefly at this point before dividing up to conquer different things and the intent to meet up later. Which actually never panned out, but that was ok.

We headed over to the raft ride where I read the warnings that you WILL get wet and you MAY get soaked. This is where AB assured me once again, that I wasn’t going to get that wet. And I certainly didn’t need to spend $7 on a rain poncho. Well, I could if I wanted…

And at that point I was so tired of being nickeled and dimed that I decided I was NOT forking over money for a rain poncho after reminding myself I was not wearing white.

The woman in front of us didn’t check this. She was wearing white. She was also a bit weird in that she talked endlessly about how she always eats the entire apple, seeds included, the seeds have a nice almondy flavor and she wished that stores would sell apple seeds to top your salad with. I debated.

Do I admit to eavesdropping on her conversation to tell her that that nice almondy flavor comes from cyanide? Stores will never sell apple seeds because they are poisonous?

Anyways, finally we were on the ride. Even Skadi got to ride this one.

Let’s just say that Skadi was the only one who escaped getting absolutely soaked.

$7 didn’t seem quite so expensive when you are drenched from head to foot.
We had Fast Passes for this one and AB and Leif rode it again. Skadi and I did NOT.

AB headed over to secure fast passes for the Dinosaur ride while I took the kids and headed to the Tusker House for our lunch reservations.

Tusker House = the best food we ate on our family vacation hands down. I did have some great Italian and Cuban food with RAB before the actual vacation portion started. Anyways, it was an African buffet that was amazing. The only bad part was listening to Skadi scream about not having picked THE plate. THAT plate was blue, not pink and she wanted the PINK one and I had already put food on the BLUE plate. And if you know Skadi you know that nothing will fix this. Switching to the pink plate and dumping all the food and starting new won’t fix it. My bad. Temper tantrum-ville. Regardless AB and I enjoyed our food immensely and toyed with the notion of just hanging out there… all afternoon, grazing.

Except that we were given reserved seats for the Finding Nemo show. I believe this is a ploy to ensure people don’t just hang out all afternoon. So we finished up and raced to Finding Nemo. Amazing. Truly amazing and one of the highlights of the trip.

AB and Leif hit the Dinosaur ride with two of the fast passes while Skadi and I waited outside. Skadi found these "pretty berries". She wasn't kidding. They are pretty. She wanted me to taste them and see if they were good. I declined though.

AB and Leif got off the ride and we decided that I would go on it with Leif again. “It wasn’t too bad,” AB told me, “just a bit loud. Nothing that will make you sick.”

This was also the wrong thing to do and I should have noticed Leif’s slight hesitation. As we were getting on the ride he started freaking out and admitted he just wanted to hang out with me, not actually ride this ride again. It was scary and loud. And loud doesn’t begin to describe it. I am positive our ES&H person would never sign off on that ride.

And so Leif spent the ride buried in my armpit.

At this point we realized the time. And as was par for the course we realized we had intended to head back to the hotel for a swim about 2 hours before this point and finally hopped on the shuttle bus.

On the way back my phone was ringing… a call with the same prefix as my work. Of course I wasn’t going to answer it. (Though I would check the message after it came through.) AB pulled out his phone and asked me, “what number did you say that was?” He had a call from the same number.

That is when things start get concerning since it was definitely an area phone number. And we don’t work for the same companies, so for both of us to get calls from the same number… a bit disconcerting.

AB was the first to get to his voicemail and his jaw dropped.

I started freaking out nudging him for details. What’s going on? I can only imagine the worst. A terrorist attack?

He keeps telling me, “just a second” and the dang voicemail hasn’t come through on my phone yet. (AT&T service in Orlando was spotty at best.) I am going nuts.

Finally he hangs up and says, “I just got a job offer”. (Mystery of the phone call to my phone? My sister in law had given them my phone number after they had called the house.)

We got back and I took the kids for a quick swim so AB could return the call and get the details before we went and got ready for our dinner out at Boma with friends.

Boma was nice. The food was good, definitely the second best we had at Disney, but it wasn’t as stunning as I had hoped for. It was African buffet as well. Skadi was carrying a plate at the buffet when it slipped right out of her hands and broke. The woman cleaned it up and then brought her a light up Tinkerbell to make her feel better since she "looked so sad".


I didn’t tell Leif why she ended up with another Tinkerbell. I was afraid there would be a dishes flying.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day four

Today is my fourth day of two weeks of vacation. I have learned today that "working from home" just isn't really an option at this point in my life. My 6 year old views it as an option to prey on my weakness of needing time on my laptop by requesting computer game time on NickJr. I have a hard time saying no, because it keeps him well occupied for when I need to be on the phone with a client. But there is no such negotiation with my daughter who simply sees my being on the computer as "not being with her".
And as we all know, 3 year olds are the most self centered human beings ever. It is ALL about them.

It was a rough night since Skadi has decided again that sleeping through the night really isn't a great idea. Leif then got up at 6:06am. Then once in our bed, under the covers, he fell asleep again. But I was awake.

I got up and finished off cutting out Christmas sugar cookies.

Then things started going haywire at work and I just had a horrible time dividing my attention between my one needy daughter, my tuned out son and work.

Then I tore myself away from both and snuck out and had lunch with a coworker.

Then ran home and grabbed the kids to head to Open Gym. On the way home I was impulsive and stopped and grabbed a Starbucks - which I have been avoiding lately both for a calorie and cash perspective. But I decided I deserved it but was disappointed to find out that pumpkin spice is already passe at this Starbucks, but they decided to gift me with whatever option I wanted instead. So it only cost me the calories.

We ran out and picked up our farm share and I am excited by the assortment in our box.

I am four days in and my to do list is nowhere to be found. Things that I have wanted to do? Not done at all. Things I have needed to do at home? Not done. I still have a stack of gifts - mostly for Skadi - to wrap. She loves to help wrap and since I resist in allowing her to wrap her own gifts, I still have a stack of Skadi gifts to wrap.

Today was AB's last day at work and so I am somewhat optimistic that my success in getting our house ready for Christmas at least will start. We need to score a few things for Christmas dinner. I need to get a few stocking stuffers. And I am hoping to send that last deliverable off.

Overall, the kids had a good day - lots of fun at the Open Gym. I got a really nice note from a coworker friend who helped remind me what the really important things are in life - he came by to get our cosleeper last night for their brand new twins who will hopefully be out of the NICU for Christmas and I handed him dinner last night too. It hadn't been much for me to double my batch of soup and pack it up with all the fixings. But it made a big difference to them as they travel back and forth to the hospital every three hours day and night for feedings.
It reminds me that so far this week, I have done the important things. I built a snowman. I made soup for a new family. I kept my mom's tradition of making sugar cookies - I am quite confident she was there rolling out the dough with me. And I did my best to balance life at home with my kids and things that need to be done at work, striving not to let my team down or my family down.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Huns

Skadi calls her dolls her "Huns".


Skadi: "Mommy here is your Hun to sit on your lab while we watch this movie." (Hands me a doll.)

Skadi: "Mommy I need to put my Huns down for naps now."

Skadi: "I am going to pick up my Huns so that Freya doesn't eat them."

Somehow I think she has picked up my calling her (and everyone else in my family and even supposidly a coworker today - see below) - "honey" and occasionally, "hon".

Somehow when she talks about her hons, they sound more like "THE Huns".

And all I can see in my head is marching Far Eastern soldiers.

Multi-tasking fail

Famous last words - "I am going to work from home some next week."

I have a big deliverable due Monday cob. (Do you know how long it took me to figure out what "cob" was when I started working here? Like forever. For those of you like me, that would be "close of business".)

But I needed time off. I needed a full two weeks off. Not 4 days and a week. A full two weeks.

Today I worked on laundry, I folded laundry, I spent lots of hours remoted in to my work computer, I made Christmas cookies, I played in the snow with the kids, I watched movies with my kids.

While this sounds productive, it is not.

See I did like one load of laundry and never got it it moved over to the dryer.

I started folding the five baskets of laundry in my bedroom and got like one load folded.

I did deliver the two major components (of three components) to my client. All the while ticking off at least one or two team members.

I burnt two batches of cookies while on the phone with a coworker and my daughter squealed in both our ears. And I called him "honey". Actually I called my daughter honey, but then had to answer when he said, "did you call me honey?"

I watched movies from the kitchen and listened to them on my computer.

But I DID play in the snow with the kids and get a snowman built.

And as AB reminded me, I did get dinner fixed (and half of it packaged up for my friend who just had twins) and it was yummy.

I am hoping for more success tomorrow. Though I am not terribly confident. I still have that one deliverable component pending, lunch with a coworker and then I promised the kids I would take them to open gym.

We will see if things loosen up then.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Nearly two days marked off of my two weeks "off". Not that I am counting, or anything. No, I am not anxious to go running back to my office. Yet.

That said, my company has unveiled a lot of remote working technologies recently that enables me to use my kitchen table as my office easily. I can remote directly to my computer and get stuff done. Which has been vital in my taking two weeks "off". I have a large deliverable going out on Monday and no intention of setting foot in the office.

Anyways, my evenings have been quiet. AB and Leif are performing nightly in our church's Living Nativity. They volunteered to be shepherds and AB was suddenly - the night before the media performace - promoted to Innkeeper. They seem to be enjoying it despite the long hours every single night until the 23rd.

Skadi and Aunt Tara and I have spent our evenings watching movies and hanging together. Skadi, I believe, has really enjoyed this one on one time.

Saturday I decided to start out my days off on a good note by getting up and mixing up divinity.

Then we went to the last swimming lesson of this session - since it had snowed two inches that morning, the kids were the only ones at their respective lessons and lucked out with private lessons.

We went and saw Dancer and Prancer at Beaver Bark. Leif asked - as he does everytime we go there - if they have a Venus Flytrap plant. (Still no.) Then we headed to Leif's last basketball game. It is always nice when these YMCA team sports come to an end. We are ignoring the existence of Indoor Soccer next month. Shhh.

We got back and unfortunately the divinity was still the texture and consistency of marshmallow cream. (Not terribly surprising. I bat about 50% with candy.)

We mixed up sugar cookies. My great grandmother's recipe that is tempermental at best - but I have mastered it. And my kids will also master it. Skadi was a bit disappointed to hear that the dough needed a full 12 hours - no shorter - in the fridge and it would be tomorrow before we could roll it out. Leif was just disappointed there was no chocolate in it.

Sunday I decided to tackle the kitchen desk (worst ever design idea in the world... I would far rather have extra counter/work space than a desk in the kitchen. I organized that space and cleaned out the cupboards above.

It's the cupboards above I am struggling with. I don't know what to put there. I do realize it is of huge benefit to actually have empty cupboards in my kitchen. But I have plenty of things that NEED spaces. It is just a decision to decide what to put there. The cabinets are not terribly easily accessible. (They currently hold the phone book - who really uses that anymore? As well as light bulbs and vitamins, essentially.)

What would you put in cupboards above a desk in a kitchen?

Oh and the last thing I did today before leaving the kitchen a mess and landing on the couch with Skadi for our evening movie?

Butter Toffee.

I am fine with the 50% batting average with candy, as long as the butter toffee turns out. And oh wow, it did. Wow.

Butter toffee, English toffee, Almond Roca, whatever you call it.


I did half a batch with sliced almonds and the other half with sea salt.

Sea salt butter toffee. This is where my hips grow a few inches.

Stacker? Stuffer? Or other?

When you live with someone you get to know their habits. Habits are most often connotated as negative, yet we all have them.

My mom learned to deal with the one that, as an adult I realize, was probably very difficult for her. My mom was one of those very organized people. Not only in her work (I am organized from a work perspective), but also home. My home isn't horrible wrt to organization, but it needs help on occasion.

Anyways, the thing that drove my mom nearly insane is that I am a stacker. I have stacks of stuff. If I pick up something and am not sure what to do with it, I put it in a stack. And there is organization to my madness, I have stacks of books, stacks of bills, stacks of kids' papers from school... And at work I have a stack of lab notebooks, stack of stuff to go up to my lab, stacks of post-it notes.

I do go through my stacks. But this is a side effect of my type of multi-tasking. I generate stacks and then at some point I sit down and deal with my stacks. I have a bit of pack-rat to me though. At first glance, I can't get rid of anything. But give me a little time and distance and I am much more brutal with what goes to the trash.

Stacking works for me.

And it doesn't bother my husband. And in fact, he is probably a stacker too and contributes to my systems.

I have recently discovered a new system that was foreign to me. Stuffers.

A "stuffer" by my definition, instead of making stacks (like me) or putting stuff in a proper spot (like my mom) stuffs things in random drawers, containers, pockets and nooks.

I was working on my holiday vacation to do list and clearing off my desk area when I discovered random stuff (coins, paper clips, note pads, pens, pencil sharpeners) stuffed in random and IMO, just wrong places. My rationalle with stacking is that eventually, the items will get to the right places. It may be tomorrow, or three months from now, but it gets there.

With stuffing, not only will I never ever find said item I might be looking for, but you have to remove it from the stored spot and then find a new spot.

Ah well.

It's what makes us all individuals.

And I will try really, really hard not to steam when I find handfuls of change dropped in my phone charging station. Or paper clips in my remote caddy. Or Lego pieces in my pencil jar. Or spare keys stuck in my bamboo notepad holder. Or my notepads in the fruit bowl...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I want my two weeks!

Two weeks!

I am saying it like the kids saying, “two dollars” in Better Off Dead. One of the single best movies. Ever.

I want my two weeks!

This is what I should have said to a colleague the other day, “you are right, I don’t HAVE to keep my kids home for the next two weeks, yes, they could go to daycare, but we WANT to be home for two weeks”. Instead I just looked at her blankly like 'you really didn't suggest that did you?' Oh well.

I somehow have gotten a boat load of vacation time. Seems that every time I go to take a day off I check my chargeable hours goal and am over. It has just been one of those starts to the current fiscal year. I have had many fiscal year starts that were in the red. So I will take it.

Normally I take Thanksgiving week off. It is *MY* time off to do the things I love. Prepare for the holidays. Cook fantastic food. Get things done around the house.

Yeah sure, I had that whole vacation thing. And while that should count, you know, it just really didn’t in the sense of "my" time. Vacationing can be hard work! And nothing gets done around my house. And I am struggling to keep pace. Never mind, there is no “keeping pace”. I am struggling not to fall too far behind.

Normally by this time I have cards out and all my shopping done. Normally.

While in Orlando I had a horrible time getting in the groove for Christmas. It was hot. Hard to think about Christmas shopping when you are sweating. I did buy one gift there though. Not telling!

Coming back to snow really helped me get my Christmas groove but between my husband wrapping up one job, starting another, swimming lessons, gymnastics lessons, basketball practice, birthday parties out the wazoo and the fact mentioned above that I have hours (actually days…) to burn. Yeah, you can imagine what all I have gotten done around the house.

Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

We aren’t even looking particularly Griswoldy this year and please ignore my husband’s ladder on the porch.

This is also why I haven’t talked at all about goals. Though I have good intentions for 2011.

I have a good list of goals for my two weeks off. (And yes, I promised to remote in regularly… and hence not use much of that pile of vacation time I have…)

My list:

Organize recipes (yeah right… well I will think about it! This was one of those prior months goals, the system is there, just need to do it.)

Finish quilt (that one that I started, sure I could finish in three weeks, then the dog broke my sewing machine and I had to replace it - the sewing machine, not the dog - and then life got in the way)

Make salted English toffee (it's a small must)

Digital Music (I am sure I am supposed to organize it, organize my playlists, upload my cds or something here. My digital music simply needs attention)

Make lefse

Make sugar cookies

Decorate sugar cookies

Take kids to see Tangled

Take kids to open gym one (or more) afternoon at Garlands

Organize Kitchen Desk and Desk Cupboard (it is ugly. Really ugly. I will organize it, hopefully find my address book and then send out my Christmas cards. They may be WAY late this year. I can’t find the silly address book.)

Catch up on our recorded shows. (Dying to start this season of Glee. Oops, did I say that out loud?)

Wear my pajamas past 7am.

Watch entire movies, not just bits from the kitchen, with my children. (I am allowing magazines or Kindles to be in my hands through this though.)

Plan my house projects for 2011.

What do you have planned during the holidays?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Anyone seen my friend?

Her name is Sugar, she is about half an inch tall at most and white. I can't believe I have lost my sweet tooth.

They say that your tastes buds change every 7 years. I can track these changes in the somewhat recent past. For about seven years I could not eat shrimp. I despised shrimp. It tasted nasty and metallic to me. I kept trying it in hopes I was just getting bad shrimp, but nope. Shrimp just tasted horrid to me. And I had LOVED shrimp for years. I feared I was becoming allergic, so I quit eating it.

Shrimp has slowly, after about 7 years, come back into favor for me. I don't love it. But it doesn't taste horrid anymore.

The one that has been killing me the past two months is sweets.

I have lost my sweet tooth and I can't find her. My favorites are still ok, pumpkin pie and I can't refuse a cupcake. And it is hard to walk by those Spudnuts every Wednesday. And occasionally I cave.

But candy? Chocolate? Ice cream? Fudge? Cookies? Even brownies? Random fluffy desserts?


But those meat pies I made the other day were amazing. As was the turnip potato gratin. And the ham and bean soup I made last Sunday. To.die.for.

I will do sugar cookies, because you HAVE to do sugar cookies for Christmas. It is a family rule.

And I still have a bit of affinity for anything with a little salt in it, so I will be doing a salted English toffee.

But what I really want for Christmas? A great seafood soup for Christmas eve (any suggestions?) and my husband's smoked grilled prime rib.

That's what I call good eats.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The place where all the Magic happens

On the Sunday of our vacation we headed for the Magic Kingdom. We looked over the park map beforehand and decided our plan of attack. Fantasyland (princesses, Peter Pan, Small World, all the fairy tale characters), Tomorrowland (Space Mountain, Astro Orbiter, etc) and then over to Adventureland (Pirates and the Swiss Family treehouse).

The Magic Kingdom is very much like Disneyland in California. I went there when I was 13 and given my foggy memory after 25 years, I could have walked into the same place.

We headed over to Fantasyland and got in line for the Peter Pan ride. This is where we learned that the time displayed on the “wait time” sign isn’t always so accurate. It stated 15 minutes, but it was a good 45 minutes. The kids were somewhat impressed with the ride and so we headed over to “It’s a Small World” next. The wait there stated 15 minutes and was actually more like 10 minutes. Skadi loved the Small World ride. Leif was a bit less than impressed with that one. The kids rode the carousel and when we realized that half the day was already gone (and our in hotel breakfast snacks weren’t sticking with us) we grabbed some lunch at Pinocchios. Very yummy meatball sandwiches.

We wandered around a bit and Skadi started spotting characters – Winnie the Pooh and a few others. Thankfully when I saw the mile long lines and subsequently gave her the choice of riding more rides or standing in line for hugs, she picked the rides. AB took Leif over to the Tomorrowland Speedway while I braved the Tea Cups with Skadi.

I don’t do well with spinny rides, so I was a bit nervous about this. Last thing I wanted to do was puke up that meatball sandwich. Still I was coveting the neat pictures my friend RAB and her husband had taken on the Tea Cups the week prior and wanted some of Skadi in a similar fashion. Happy to say I survived!

We met up with AB and Leif (who was a bit disappointed with the Speedway, “you couldn’t even go fast mom,” he lamented).

Space Mountain had a wait, so I grabbed fast passes and we ran over to Adventureland and made a beeline for Pirates of the Caribbean. The wait cited was about 50 minutes, but I would put it more like 20 minutes. They kept us walking the entire time. Both the kids dug Pirates and of course we ended in a gift shop. Leif isn’t a huge shopper… he whines a bit (kind of like AB) at the notion of having to shop. Skadi eyes it all, but is never overly insistent on buying stuff, she is picky. I am lucky that way, we got out of most everything to this point without stopping in a gift shop.

Then there was Pirate gear, and Jack (the pumpkin king) gear! And well, we spent a little time and money in the Pirates gift shop.

On to the next adventure… the Swiss Family Robinson tree house, which AB and I enjoyed and the kids thought we should just move in.

At this point we agreed that even though the kids weren’t seeming terribly tired that it WAS time for a break before our long evening at the Pirate’s Cruise. We headed towards the entrance to catch our bus and just so happened to make it to main street in time for the Parade!

Finally we hit the entrance, got on the shuttle and went back to the hotel for a quick break.

We had fast passes for Space Mountain and I (yes, Mrs. Motion Sickness) had wanted to ride it. AB was in no way interested. I had remembered Space Mountain from my 1985 trip and remembered thinking I may actually like roller coasters after that one. It was fun! And smooth! (And for the record, I didn’t suddenly like roller coasters, the two I tried after Space Mountain scared the daylights out of me.)

Disney Tip! Skadi couldn’t ride these rides, many of them either AB or I weren’t interested, but one of us would do it with Leif. When you get Fast Passes get as many as tickets you have even if not everyone plans to go on. On occasion we would ride twice – usually Leif would get to go twice and AB and I would trade off. Other times we would ride once and then walk up and hand the remaining fast passes to someone standing outside and more than once felt like we were gifting someone a hunk of gold with the gratitude they returned.

We headed back to the park and managed to hit to the entrance (like earlier, this was unplanned and pure luck) to see the castle frost over and all the colors. We jumped in with a photographer and got the best family picture from Disney that is gracing our Christmas cards this year. We tried to get pictures of the castle ourselves, but it just didn’t work. You really need good photography equipment to do this at night.

Leif and AB wanted to do the Astro-Orbiter. I wasn’t so thrilled, but that was fine. We all stood in line and listened to the music and watched the characters dance. Finally up at the top – you take an elevator up – Leif was my driver.

I guess one of my observations at Magic Kingdon was that everything seemed a bit old. When I think of how everything looked the same as when I was in Disneyland 25 years ago… and it seemed a bit dated then, it made me start to wonder when most of those rides were built?

This is not a good thought to have while getting ready to go up in the Astro-Orbiter. Because what if a few bolts broke and it sent Leif and me – or AB and Skadi hurtling through the air???

Leif insisted on flying us all the way to the top and not going up or down at all.

I told him he was scaring me and the little turkey only laughed.

Cruel child. He learned this from his father.

Soon enough the ride was over and we were forced down.


As though I hadn’t had enough I ran over with Leif in tow to make the Space Mountain fast passes. AB and Skadi went in search of dinner as Leif and I flew past the throngs of people lined up. Here is where the fast passes kind of suck though. As we are walking through Leif is seeing video games that you play while waiting! And lots of information about space!

We aren’t ride junkies. We like the information just as much. Ok, *I* like the information… Leif just likes the video games.

We hop on the ride and can I just say that this was NOT the same Space Mountain as the one in Disneyland. It was bumpy and creaky and wow I was glad when that was over. It is official, I do not like roller coasters at all. Leif went running up to dad and started raving… about the video games he saw.

Can’t we go back in and do the video games?

We hurried ourselves over to an obscure little room at the Contemporary – we weren’t the only ones running late trying to find it – for our Pirates and Pals fireworks cruise. We signed in, got our bandanas and stood in line. (I know, surprise, huh?)

When we were finally released into the waiting room I felt like I was my grandmother. They had free snacks! And free bottles of water! Disney had turned me into my grandmother who covets free items. I think AB and I were so used to opening our wallets for every.single.thing that when presented with “free” things, we went a bit nuts with ordering the kids back to the table to get more packaged brownies and gee mommy would really like another bag of SmartFood, and oh, while you are at it, how about another bottle of water, hmmm?

Yes, I know. Free is in the mind. We had paid big time for the cruise. So it wasn’t really free… just prepaid… but it helps me to think that I was getting something for free.

We hung out and met Captain Hook and Mr. Smee. Skadi walked right up and told Captain Hook to “WALK THE PLANK SCURVY DOG!” This was met with lots of chuckling from the staff.

We headed out to the boats where we watched the electric boat parade, then the Disney fireworks. AB likes to be right up there under the fireworks. This worked best for me. I despise crowds and it was getting crowded in Magic Kingdom as people were saving their spots 1.5 hours before the fireworks. Our emcee for the event was a great pirate, but I did wonder how loaded he had to get to do this every evening?

Leif won a Pirate pistol. Skadi won a pirate ducky. (More “free” stuff.) The fact that Leif won the Pirate pistol made it all the more special and AB and I spent the entire remainder of the trip saying, “no you cannot take the pistol to X”.

When we got back Peter Pan met the boat and then hugged each kid and posed for a picture. One of the staff saw Skadi coming and yelled to Peter, “watch out for that one, she told Captain Hook to walk the plank!”

We finally landed back at the hotel, fully exhausted, with two sleeping kids. Ever try getting two sleeping kids and a stroller and backpack off a shuttle bus? Somehow I got stuck carrying Leif… I can barely lift him anymore, let alone carry him off a bus. AB did have Skadi, the backpack and the stroller though. Yeah, it was brutal. But we got them back to the hotel room with neither waking.

Then we crashed.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Four Ingredients

to deliciousness.

When I was a little kid I loved getting the phone call from my grandma saying that they were having hamhocks and beans for dinner. Because it meant that I got to go over to their house and eat it with them.

My grandpa would mix up four ingredients and come out with my favorite dish - or one of two of my favorite dishes (the other being tuna fish casserole). One of my favorite memories is sitting there at that old metal table of theirs eating ham hocks and beans with my Pa.

My version:

Soak one bag of Great Northern beans overnight.

Brown 4-6 ham hocks on all sides in a large stock pot.
Remove ham hocks.
Cook 1 diced onion in stock pot (if need be, add a bit of canola oil so it doesn't stick).
Cook until translucent.
Add 2 quarts of chicken broth.
Add soaked Great Northern beans.
Return ham hocks to pan and bring to a boil.
Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 2-3 hours.
Salt as needed.

I have worked the kids up to eating the ham from the soup. And the other day Leif ate a bean accidentally that stuck to the inside of the ham. And it wasn't awful! I will have them eating ham hocks and beans. It is a family tradition on my side of the family that runs as deep as Swedies on AB's side.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Princesses Galore!

The most magical evening we were at Disneyworld was that Saturday night with the princesses. We managed reservations at Akershus for the princess dinner courtesy of friends who held the reservations previously, but were giving them up after lucking into a Cinderella Castle dinner. A little finagling and wrangling with the online reservation site and we were in!

Akershus is a Norwegian restaurant and for that reason, we were thrilled to have dinner there.

Skadi dressed up like a princess, Leif in nice clothes (after whining about "princesses, ick") and we all hauled it back to Epcot. (Yeah, don't pay attention to the shoes... I was willing to haul the princess dress... I wasn't hauling a pair of dress shoes that she might - or might not - wear.)

For having reservations, we were surprised at the line. We were checked in, informed that they were running behind and told to wait in front of the restaurant.

We wandered over to the Norwegian shop. All while keeping our ears peeled for our announcement.

Soon after they started announcing families.

And we waited some more.

Finally we were lead into the restaurant.

Belle was ready to meet the kids at the front and much to our surprise we were presented with a photo of the kids with Belle with wallet sized photos too! Explanation of the high price was now starting to become apparent.

The kids ordered from their menu - Leif opted for the roast chicken. Skadi for the pasta and sauce. I ordered something I couldn't pronounce - meat wrapped in pastry. Never can go wrong with that and AB ordered the beef tips. There was a buffet to partake in while we waited, which was super nice. Both kids filled up on salmon, cheese and crackers.

Then we saw our daughter's eyes grow wide!

She wanted to get up and run over and wrap her arms around Aurora. But we convinced her to wait patiently at the table and she would be there soon.

For all the princesses ick we heard from Leif, he didn't miss out on the photo ops.

Midway through there was a princess processional where the princesses brought the little girls (including the one dressed like Buzz Lightyear) out onto the floor and they paraded around the restaurant waving at the onlookers. Snow White picked Skadi to walk right behind her and Skadi beamed the entire processional!

The highlight of the evening came at the end for Skadi.


And she realized quickly that she was Skadi's favorite. She helped her twirl and then gave her a big smooch on the cheek that left red lipstick marks that Skadi wore like a trophy the next day. We were not allowed to wash her face.

The food was "eh". My meat wrapped pastry was missing the pastry and the gravy a bit sweet for my tastes. AB's beef tips lackluster. The kids loved their food, the dessert plate (we got the whole plate of desserts, no picking) was great and after Leif asked for a second chocolate mousse (and we protested that we did NOT need another chocolate mousse), they brought him one. Oh well. Three chocolate mousses in one day (one from the French pastry shop earlier)... Disneyworld doesn't happen everyday.

I expected grumblings from my frugal husband about the bill.

"Seeing the look on Skadi's face that entire dinner was worth the price," he declared.

And Skadi declares this as her favorite part of Disneyworld.