Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goals?

Phew! Goodbye 2011. It wasn't a bad year here. As all years tend to go, it just went fast. Wasn't 2011 just starting?

One nice thing about working where I do is that learning to write 2012 isn't hard. I have been writing it for three whole months now.

Every year I sent out to do monthly goals. And in the first few months of the year, usually January through May, I really kick butt. Then I either take the summer off, or we tackle a larger project. Then a few more monthly goals in the fall before the Holidays take over. It works for me.

But honestly, I haven't given my monthly goals much thought.

I had a huge list of goals for my just over two weeks off in December and managed to hit all of them (make chicken pot pies, make lefse, make chili, make latkes, make bolognese sauce, clean and organize Leif's closet and room, clean and organize Skadi's room, help AB install the dining room floor) except three. And the three I didn't hit aren't major - I didn't get the trailer cleaned like I had planned. And I didn't get the two planned playdates done with other kids we don't normally have playdates with. Maybe if I got return e-mails from the two other parents, the playdates would have worked out...

So with any luck we will have our dining room completely done on January 1.

My list of things to do during 2012 is long, but not really organized in a monthly fashion...

Empty the office.
Finish painting the office.
Rip up the carpet in the office.
Enable AB to do the floors by fielding the kids for 2-3 days.
Come up with plans for the outdoor kitchen.
Start execution of outdoor kitchen/patio area.
Start purging the baby stuff out of the house (sigh)

Part of my problem is that I am just so blinded by my long list of other stuff...

January:
My birthday weekend
AB's birthday weekend, skiing?
Ski weekend?

February:
Potential travel to Florida and Connecticut
Ski weekend for President's Day

March:
Anniversary weekend
Travel to DC

April:
Leif's Spring Break - Yellowstone in the trailer?
Travel to Tennessee (oh yeah)

May:
Travel to Pittsburgh.

And now it's summer.

Where do I fit in all my to do stuff?

Friday, December 30, 2011

It's good we can cook...

Because dining out in this city just sucks!

We hadn't eaten out in quite awhile and I convinced AB to go out to dinner last night. He was tired from putting the floor in and I was tired of fielding the kids all day and dealing with Miss Sassy. We needed to get out of the house.

My one request was that we couldn't go to the usual haunt (Sakura) because I wasn't in the mood for sushi (amazingly enough) and I wanted something different. We stepped only slightly out of the box and headed to a Korean restaurant not far from us. One where if we were "regulars" anywhere other than Sakura, this would be #3 on the list. (#2 being a Mexican place a few blocks from the house.)

Having kids has really impacted our dining out style.

Ok, so we go to the sparsely decorated Korean restaurant that still (after 8 or so years) lacks a liquor license. That's ok.

New and very young waitstaff as usual.

Waitress: "Can I take your order?"

AB: "Yes, we will start with the combination tempura..."

Waitress: "Ok, is that all for you tonight?"

AB: "No, the kids will split a Sweet and Sour Chicken with the Sweet and Sour Sauce on the Side."

Waitress: "Ok, is that all for you tonight?"

Me: "No, I would like dinner too. I will do #54."

Waitress: "I am sorry, I don't know the menu yet, what is that?"

Me: "It's the Spicy Pork Bulgogi right here," I said pointing to the menu. AB noted he would take one as well.

A bit of time passes and she returns with the tempura that the entire family chows. Then the Sweet and Sour Chicken arrives, covered in sauce. Skadi is happy, Leif is in tears.

AB tells the waitress that he requested the sauce on the side. Yes, she remembers that but thought he meant something else. I mean really lame long rambley response about why the sauce was on the top and not on the side.

AB: "Can you just bring out a saucer of the chicken without the sauce on it."

She heads in to check. Skadi is chowing away at the sweet and sour chicken.

Waitress: "No, I am sorry we can't. I can return this plate and the chef can remake it, but we can't just bring out extra chicken without the plate being returned."

AB: "But she is eating it and I would rather not take it away,  you are just going to throw it away."

Waitress: "No, I am sorry we can't do that, we are just too busy to do that."

?!?!?!

AB: "Fine, I will order another order of Sweet and Sour Chicken with the SAUCE ON THE SIDE."

Then our meals come out. It looks a bit different, but we start eating. Our Korean side dishes don't arrive, so I flag down the waitress.

Me: "Will our Korean side dishes be coming? The Kim-Chi and such."

Waitress: "Let me go see."

She returns.

Waitress: "I am sorry, you ordered the spicy pork teriyaki, it doesn't come with Korean side dishes."

Me: "Umm no. I ordered the bulgogi and we had a conversation about you not knowing the menu and I pointed it to you."

Waitress: "Let me go see."

She returns.

Waitress: "Ok, she will remake your meals for you."

AB: "Nevermind. Can  you just bring us the Korean side dishes to go with the pork teriyaki?"

And she does.

Then she brings out a grilled chicken breast sliced up on a plate and puts it in front of Leif.

And if I didn't have a plate of hot food in front of me my head would have just dropped onto the table and maybe pounded a bit.

We all ate. The waitress avoided us.

Then she brought us our ticket charging us for EVERYTHING including $4 for the grilled chicken breast.

Sigh.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Quiche, Latkes and Meatball Sandwiches

I may be onto something!

A few weeks ago my son's pickiness came to a head with me. It was driving me insane.

And as a formerly very somewhat still picky person, I get picky. I get the extreme picky. I know that there are times you just look at a food and know that it cannot go into your mouth. I know that it is inexplainable. I know that it sends shivers up and down your spine. I get it.

But my son has recently taken picky to a new extreme and it was driving.me.insane.

"Fine then," I told him one evening. "Once a week it is up to you to plan a dinner with me and help prepare it."

I knew then that my biggest challenge with this would be ME sticking to it and not falling to the "I don't have time for this tonight".

The first week Leif declared he wanted to make "egg pie". Just like that.

"Sounds like a quiche," I declared and found a simple recipe.

I made the crust... because you just don't mess with crusts. Someday I will teach him the art, but he needs a few primers in other food prep first.

He mixed the eggs, the cream, cooked the bacon and by himself chopped the broccoli. AB shredded the cheese. We mixed it all together and tossed it into the crust. Wa la. One amazing quiche. And Leif was proud of himself. He grinned from ear to ear as I took his picture and posted it on Facebook.
"Mom," he said, "I don't want you to fix any other food because I want Skadi to have to TRY this, it is so good."

Oh the irony. Words that I have recorded well... because he IS going to hear them again.

Then was meatball sandwich night. They were good, but not quite up to whatever it is that he gets on meatball sandwich day at the school cafeteria...

Then last week Leif came home from school and declared that he wanted to make latkes.

Latkes, as in potato pancakes? I asked. My mom used to make latkes, but I don't remember them well.

You see Leif has a weird and unexplainable potato aversion. He doesn't eat French Fries, Tater Tots, Potato Chips, Mashed Potatoes make him gag, backed potatoes give him the willies.

I am not sure he is mine because *I* am the opposite. I love potatoes in all forms.

Actually I should correct that Leif DOES like lefse. But who doesn't like lefse?

I agreed and AB started cautioning me, "make them as Leif friendly as humanly possible, the potential for disaster on this one is HUGE. And you don't want this to be a disaster".

I treaded carefully. No onions. No toppings. Just plain latkes.

We peeled the potatoes. Ok, Leif peeled a half a potato and in the interest of having them ready in under 8 hours, I did the rest. He shredded them in the food processor, mixed the eggs in and the flour, put them in the colander to drain. We did a whole safety talk on hot oil. Then he stood there handing me quarter cups full while I dropped them in hot oil and pressed them flat.

OMG they are good. So freaking good.

Skadi, who doesn't care for potatoes much more than Leif except that she will eat potato chips and fries (sometimes), ate two. AB and I nommed on them.

And Leif ate one and said it was "ok".

Success!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Elf Calamities

Invariably, if you are going to do the Elf on the Shelf thing, you are going to have mishaps.

Like forgetting to move the Elf and the kids discovering her first. "That silly Elf tried to trick you guys (again?) and came back to the same spot!"

Or the day the housecleaner knocked her off her perch and left her sprawled on the floor. Horror! "Well I hope she forgives the housecleaner for touching her and doesn't give a bad report to Santa."

Or the day that daddy stepped on her.

Our elf was sound asleep on the dolly bed in Skadi's room on the floor next to Skadi's bed. She had survived the whole day there, I THOUGHT we were out of the woods.

AB was putting Skadi to sleep that night and at some point, got up, and stepped right on Mina!!

The world screeched to a halt as Skadi's eyes welled with tears, "DADDY! You hurt Mina. You touched her and will get a bad report and now she can't fly back to the North Pole and so Santa won't get our good reports. WAH!"

It didn't stop there. I heard about it for the next two days. Not only from the kids but AB as well.

"I don't care that it is cute she was in a little bed, she should NOT be on the floor or SOMETHING is bound to happen," and he was probably right.

But as it turned out Mina was none worse for the wear and flew to Santa that night and issued her good reports.

(Thank goodness AB didn't step on her face and smush it in or something catastrophic like that...)

The Bomb Story

Skadi: "Mommy, will you tell me the bomb story again?"

Me: (Sigh) "Are you sure you want to hear that story again?"

Skadi: "Yes."

Me: "What part of it do you want to hear?" (Hoping she doesn't say the Japanese part.)

Skadi: "All of it."

Me: "Wouldn't you rather have a princess story?"

Skadi: "No."

Me: "Ok."

Blame Leif. He is the one who introduced Skadi to the concept of the "biggest bomb ever". Actually, I blame his teacher. Because do we really need to talk about nuclear weapons in the 1st grade? Yes, I know it was December 6th, the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. But I was a bit surprised the depth of questions.

December 6th:

Leif: "Mom, Mrs. H told us about today a long time ago we were attacked."

Me: "Yes, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on this day 70 years ago."

I could go on and line out all the conversation surrounding this, but I won't. And in fact, I don't remember it well. I just know that he was very concerned that Hans and I had been there (we reassured him we weren't), that it would happen again (we hope it won't), that children were killed (I don't know if children were killed) and then he wanted to know about the "biggest bomb ever" that ended the war.

The conversation ended with me stating historical fact that we actually live near where part of the bomb was made (so nontechnical speak) here and that Daddy's job is in cleaning up the work from making that bomb and that Mommy works in ensuring that nothing like that (we haven't talked about 9-11 yet) doesn't happen to the people of the US again .

And life went on.

Until Skadi, about a week later, asked to hear the "story of the bomb" again. I confirmed, before delving in, that it was the story from the prior week. She nodded her head.

And now it is just after Christmas and the "bomb story" has become a mainstay. I have modified it to suit my needs in speaking with a four year old.

The Bomb Story

Once upon a time, a long time ago before mommy was born, before grandma was born and when great grandma was a school teacher in North Dakota, the bad Japanese (as opposed to the good Japaneses) attacked Pearl Harbor, a US base in Hawaii. They flew planes in and attacked the soldiers there. The United States then said we are at war with the Japanese (for Skadi's purposes, I haven't expanded to the axis and allies...)

Great grandma decided that she wanted to help the US and so she joined the Army Nurses Corp and she went to Spokane where we get to go to see Beauty and the Beast at the end of January to learn to be an Army nurse.

While she was there being a nurse, the bad Japanese started invading islands in the South Pacific and were pushing their soldiers through the islands and taking them over. Roar!

But while this all was happening the scientists that were living here where we live decided to make a bomb with some other scientists at another lab. The scientists here out on the Hanford site made a very special ingredient for the bomb, the plutonium. But they were messy and made a huge mess that Daddy is still working on cleaning up.

Finally the day came that they flew the two bombs named Fat Man (Skadi invariably thinks this is funny) and Little Boy over to Japan and they dropped them on the bad guys. Those bombs were the biggest bombs in the world and so Japan said to the United States, "you win, we give up!"

And all this happened just a few weeks before your great grandma was supposed to ship over and be a nurse in the war! So she didn't have to go overseas after all. So instead she met your grandpa in Seattle and they moved to Casper where they had two boys, then a girl, who was your grandma Barbara and then another boy. And Barbara was a good girl, but when she got mad at her brothers she would chase them into the corner with the broom!

And then Barbara grew up and she got married to my daddy, Perry. And soon after that they had a little girl, and that was me. And my sister just a few years later. And we had so much fun playing Barbies and Little People! I played with those exact same Little People that you have!

Pretty soon I grew up and I went to college and met AB! (At this point Skadi giggles hearing her daddy's name.) And we moved to Reno, Nevada so I could go to more college and we got married at Lake Tahoe.

Then we packed up and moved up here where mommy got a job working to protect us from bad people and Daddy got a job cleaning up the mess from the bomb. Then they had a baby named Leif and a few years later, a little baby girl named Skadi. And Skadi was a good little baby, but she did cry a lot. Her favorite food was milk and applesauce. Once she learned to walk though, she started running. Then she turned one and her grandma Barbara and Grandpa Rick came to visit and they pushed her on the swing. Then she turned two right when we moved into our new house. But she was sick on her 2nd birthday. When she turned three the year after that we had a princess dress up party in our house with all her friends. Another year passed and she turned four and she had her party at Coach Brett's gym! And now we are here, I wonder where she will have her party now

Twisted, huh?

Friday, December 23, 2011

What we did this Christmas season...

I didn't work. Well that much at least, just a few hours here and there.

We didn't bake much. So I am not much of a baker and I don't have much of a sweet tooth. We did do Christmas cookie cutouts. It's a tradition in my family to make my great grandmother's sugar cookie recipe that is so finicky, but so tasty. But no nanaimo bars or Gingerbread cookies that were on my list to do.

We didn't sit in front of the TV and watch the Christmas specials. We usually do, and I love them. So do my kids. But not this year. I did rent Elf one night and was happy that many of the jokes didn't go unnoticed by my son.

I didn't put up the Christmas village. I wanted to, but ran out of time.

We managed to get a few lights on the bushes outside, but no lights on our house.

I have barely put away the Thanksgiving decorations inside, Christmas interior decorations? Ha. We have a tree and the stockings were hung a few days ago.

The Advent calendar? Sorely neglected.

We haven't driven around our town and looked at the Christmas lights.

Our Christmas Eve and Day meals are barely planned. No prepwork started.

We didn't go caroling.

I didn't even take the time to find the Muppets Christmas cd.

What did we do this Christmas season so far?

This:


We have stood by our fire.

We have petted goats, sheep, horses, camels and donkeys.

We have pulled our clothes out of Sparkle's (the sheep) mouth.

We have kneeled on the ground with our foreheads in the hay.

We have begged and pleaded with our wriggly children to be still and quiet.

We haven't cooked dinner, instead eaten whatever the church prepared for us (which has been hit and miss!).

We have coached our children in some semblence of acting.

We have stood and kneeled in front of crowds of 800-2000 people a night.

I have watched my husband guide Mary and Joseph and wrangle a donkey into a pen.

I have had tears in my eyes seeing my daughter walk up and kiss the baby Jesus a few times a night.

I have nudged my kids' bedtimes to nearly 1.5 hours later than normal, with the hopes I can nudge them back.

I have been amazed at the tenacity of my children to willingly and with minimal whining, participate in 11 performances (so far).

I have hidden Lifesaver candies in my boots for those times when tenacity is waning.

I have watched new friendships form and a community be created by us strangers brought together to perform the Nativity for strangers.

We smell like farm animals and smoke.

I am amazed at how I remain moved at each of the 11 (so far) performances we have participated in.

I have prayed the camels be well behaved this year.

I have no regrets at surrendering my evenings of Christmas prep.

We hope that the beauty of the Living Nativity has brought a season of joy to those who have witnessed it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Crush

Way back at the start of the school year, Leif met a girl.

She is a cute little blonde who wears great shoes, plays the cello and loves little kids. And she is a FOURTH grader!

It all started innocently enough. Leif was nervous to ride the bus, he never had before. I was nervous to have him ride the bus - because what if the bus dropped him at the wrong school... or left him on a street corner... or decided to drive to Texas or something? You just never know these days...

But the cute little blonde at the bus stop (with cute boots) promised me to help Leif out.

And for a few weeks she diligently rode the bus with him next to her.

And AB and I worried when we saw stars setting in Leif's eyes upon gazing at her.

"What if she wants to sit with her friends?" we started asking him.

"She doesn't want to," Leif assured us.

Gone was the crush on the girls his age... now he had his eyes set on an OLDER girl! And he would blush when her name would come up. And he would blush when he would see her at school holding the door. And he would hide from her when her class left the gym and his arrived...

Then just a few short days later Leif complained that she keeps trying to sit in other spots. And he was trying to come up with tricks to force her to sit with him. There started a war at the bus stop whereby she was trying to make him get on the bus first so that she could select her seat afterwards. And Leif tried to make her get on the bus so that he could sit next to her.

And even when she would take a seat with somebody else, Leif would squish in and make it three in the row!

AB and I tried to take the tactic of reasoning with Leif, "you know, she is older and has friends and maybe doesn't want a first grader hanging around all the time?" To which Leif would reply, "she does, she just pretends she doesn't."

Poor, poor oblivious little boy.

Then AB and I took the opposite tactic. Don't mention her at all and hopefully the heart throbbing would subside. I reluctantly followed this path. Reluctantly because to me it seemed akin to sticking my head in the sand.

Then last week the little miss sealed her own fate unknowingly.

"Leif," she said, "if you can answer a math problem that I make up, then you can sit with me for the rest of the year. BUT, if you get it wrong, then you can't sit with me the rest of the year. Ok?"

Leif agreed.

"What is 44 x 10?" she asked.

"That's easy!" replied Leif, "440!"

And so Leif has a spot saved for him on the bus for the remainder of the year.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Two weeks off!

The past few months have been a real whirlwind. I am sure that is just what happens when you have two careers and two busy kids. I have got a big long list of blog topics on my phone and I am hoping to get to those over the next two weeks as I enjoy my two weeks off. But right now? Just a general catch up is in order.

Let's see... the kids started gymnastics again. This second time around, a year later, is much better for Skadi. She is now in the big kids area and not the little kids area, which is really what she wanted all along. She is quite happy being a gymnast. And same as last time, I have put Leif in gymnastics as well because I would just rather not have him sit next to me with his nose in his DS for an hour every Monday night. Nope, he gets to be out there too. Last year he loved gymnastics, this year a little less so for some reason.

Both kids are in swimming. My Skadi fish has passed up again so that she and Leif are now in the same class. While this reflects great on her, I won't tell you how many years Leif has been in this level. Some day he is going to get it, right? One day it will all click and he will take off.

Leif loves first grade and is doing so well. He has a super teacher and we are just so proud of him.

This year we decided to all volunteer to be shepherds in our church's Living Nativity. Last year AB and Leif did it, while Skadi and I stayed home and held the fort down with many "girl's nights". This year we decided we would all give it a try. I figured that Skadi and I could always bail if it became too much for her (or me). Well that worked until the first rehearsal night when she was picked to be the little shepherd to kiss baby Jesus at each performance. And suddenly we are there and commited for every performance!

Me? Things are good. A lot of changes.

I had a rough year on my one big project dealing with a demanding client, in a difficult funding year, and a team that was ripping apart at the seams. I tried and tried to deal with the team issue and I knew exactly where it was stemming from. One person. One person who was sucking the project dry funding wise, constantly pushing scope in the wrong direction, being divisive among the team, and who, no matter what I tried, I could not trust and nor could most of my coworkers.

After a long year of trying to manage the situation both from the client's side as well as our side, the client made a phone call to my superiors and asked that the person be removed. A day later it was done. It was ugly. It remains ugly. But the project is seriously one of the happy places for all of us now. My team is just this happy little cohesive unit that smiles and jokes and delivers.

It makes me sad actually though. Sad because I always liked this person, until I worked closely with him for a few years. He gave me opportunities, career changing opportunities. And I will never forget that. But I will also keep in mind the actions of someone whose career was spiraling and the desperate accusations made towards me.

On the rare occasion I see him in the hallway he always looks right at me and pushes his glasses up with his middle finger like a junior high kid. And I smile. AB has uttered the words, "hostile work environment". But I am not like that. I can get past it. I can see why he is angry and hurt and seeing his reaction only makes me feel more sorry for him. This is how you deal with adversity? With your middle finger? Well, I am better than that.

We found out last week that we won an award for this project! A big award that involves a cross country trip to receive our award in May. Wheee!

My career has recently catapulted. I managed to pick up five additional projects to manage, one of those to PI, in late September. They have kept me busy. Too busy. Then one of my favored clients had a proposal call and because I was a delinquent in returning proposal ideas for consideration (too much other stuff on my plate and I truly just forgot), I was just handed one to write up. That works. My least favored, but flush with cash, client has issued a proposal call and I have found out that my name is being put on at least 3 proposals as manager. Then on Friday one of the PI's I started working with in October asked me to manage another $3M project he is pulling in.

Yes, I have problems saying no. But my ALD, who was once my boss, once complained to me during lunch one day, "I can't believe that he told me no, that he couldn't take that project. You never say no! You say yes and then you make it happen even if you aren't the one doing the work. Delegate." My next goal starting in January is to build a team of project managers. Ones I know and trust and who can adapt to my style (if needed) and who can help me with the nearly $8M worth of projects I am presently sitting on with hopes for another few mill on top of that for the coming year.

Given all this, you would think my management would call it a good year for me. Wrong. After two years of exceeding expectations, I have apparently faltered.

I call it that I am being punished for the above issue concerning my coworker. He is the "popular" one in my group.

I can't quite figure out how I can be an author on more papers, have more deliverables, be in higher demand, but have dropped a couple notches in my manager's perspectives. This whole review process has never made much sense to me.

I made a snap decision the other day. Actually it was a decision I have been mulling over for a year and have discussed with my mentor and a few other people in higher ranking positions. But after reading my review I made the snap decision to jump ship over to the manager ladder. After all, it is those requirements that I am meeting, not the scientist ones so much anymore. According to my mentor I am functioning two levels above the manager level I map to. Time to make that change and start receiving credit for my work.

So at the first of the year I become one of the pointy haired sorts.

The other change? Early this fall I made the decision to drop to less than full time. But... I take a lot of calls at home. I always have a surplus of hours (I haven't had to actually USE vacation time for anything until this two weeks off). And I have 3-4 trips coming up this spring, which becomes a sink for hours typically speaking.

When I made the change my management told me, "just make sure you are getting paid for the hours you are working".

I need to either turn off, or get paid for it. And it is hard, so very hard, to turn it off. Especially when I have big deliverables and procurements to approve and visiting scientists that I am hosting who need things. I will be working from home the rest of my hours and going back to full time starting in February.

So there it is. My work update. And bits of updates on my kids. More on them to come over the next few days!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

One post in November?

That's pitiful.

I have sworn in the demise of blogging in favor of quick one liner updates that I would always maintain my blog. I mean my kids' baby books are nearly bare because it is all here. The good photos, the vacations, the milestones, the good, the bad, the ugly... you know.

But last month has kicked my booty. Seriously.

I have gone less than full time at work and so you would think that would afford me more time, right? Yeah wrong. I am considering bumping back up to full time, because when I made the decision to drop my hours my management said one thing, "just because you are at home doesn't mean you aren't working, just make sure you are getting paid for the hours you put in".

And well, here I am at home fielding phone calls, sending e-mails. All the things I said I wouldn't do.

I need to either turn off or get paid for it.

I love the time at home with the kids. And I keep telling myself that next week will be less intense. And a lot has recently happened on my big project to make the intense stress evaporate like a poof of smoke on a windy day. But it isn't happening. That poof of smoke is gone, but I keep picking up things here and there that dominate my time. And with those little things I have picked up is one client who I have worked for in the past that thinks they are the be all, end all and that a few hours is not an unreasonable time frame to demand for turnaround of documents.

Anyways, I will detail the work stuff here soon. As well as some hopeful good news that we hope will be announced on Tuesday.

And I will detail the kids and all those lists on my phone of blog topics I have made.

I work next week and then I have two weeks off. Two weeks of cooking and baking and family and holidays and love and movies and crafts and decorating and...

Until then... bear with me. I will return.

Friday, November 11, 2011

My daughter may be the funniest thing ever...

Skadi: "Mommy, what kind of animals are we?"

Me: "Well we are humans, which I guess are a type of animal."

Skadi: "No, what type of ANIMALS are we."

Me: "Well we are closest to monkeys."

Skadi: "NO, what type of animals are we?"

Me: "Well Skadi we walk on two legs and most animals walk on four..."

Skadi: "So that means we are kangaroos!"

---------

Skadi: (Whispering in my ear.) "Mommy, your pajamas are old and ugly, you need to ask Santa for some pretty pajamas with roses on them for Christmas."

---------

Skadi: "Ouch, you bumped my twohead Leif."

(Love that she still calls her forehead, her twohead.)

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Skadi: "No mommy, go to the picking page."

Me: "The picking page? Is there a Dora story about picking apples?"

Skadi: "No, the picking page mommy."

Me: "Show me."

Skadi: (Annoyingly flips the book to the front to the table of contents.)

Duh.

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Skadi: "Why do we have houses mommy?"

Me: "To provide a place to sleep out of the bad weather and stuff."

Skadi: "Ha, you are silly mommy and wrong too. We have houses so that when we change our clothes no one sees us."

-----------

Skadi: "Mommy, I love you more than strangers."

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Skadi: "Once mommy a woman came up to me, but she didn't take me."

Me: "What Skadi? When were you by yourself that a woman came up to you?"

Skadi: "She came up to me and said, 'where is your grandma' and then she said, 'where is your grandpa' and I didn't know and I told her. But I was SO happy she didn't steal me."

Me: "When did this happen Skadi?"

Skadi: "When I was jumping on the trampoline at the cabin."

Me: "Oh, that person was probably one of your relatives!"

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Me: (Reading one of the Mo Willems Trixie books.)

Skadi: "The person who wrote this book really messed up bad. He accidentally wrote my name as Trixie, not Skadi. Will you read it right please?"

Me: (Sigh.) "One time long ago before Skadi could even speak..."

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Skadi: "Mom, let's see how smart you are, what's 16+18?"


Me: "34."

Skadi: "Wrong. I think you better call dad and ask him since he is so much smarter than you."

Me: (Thinking someone better watch her little mouth if she wants Santa to visit her!)

-----------
 
Skadi: "Mommy, I might not be made of bones. I think I am made of power instead because I am a good fixer."


----------
 
Leif: "Pretty please Skadi?"


Skadi: "No Leif."

Leif: "Pretty pretty please Skadi?"

Skadi: "No Leif."

Leif: "I'll say you are beautiful."

Skadi: "Ok."

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Skadi: "Mommy the only thing that will make me happy this morning is to listen to Uncle Kracker."


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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Family Pictures












The saddest children's book EVER!

Ok, maybe except for that Robert Munsch book - "Love You Forever". Do you want to turn a new mom to mush in 60 seconds or less? Give her that horrible book!! (Ok, so it isn't horrible... plenty of people think it is beautiful...)

I don't often order from the Scholastics Book flyers, but I noted recently that we had very few books about my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. So I decided to stock up on some fall and Thanksgiving books through the monthly book orders at the kids' schools. I suppose this is where the problem started. Because if I had ordered from Amazon I would have read a synopsis of the books before ordering.

But nope. I saw Amelia Bedelia's First Apple Pie and thought in my head... girl theme... apples (my daughter's favorite)... a cute little girl kind of like my own on the cover... and PIE (my families specialty)... no brainer!

But little did I know what awaited me under the cover.

Tears!

See Amelia Bedelia was spending the day with her grandma and grandpa and she and her grandma set about making an apple pie.

Right there my first thought... My mom was THE pie maker and if you have read my blog in years past, or if you know me, you know the importance of homemade pie in our family. My little girl won't ever get to make pie with her grandma. And teaching the art of making a homemade pie was extremely important to my family.

Of course I could wallow in this and feel sorry for us and let the tears keep rolling as I read it.

And yes, I did let the tears keep rolling as I read the book. But I know my charge. I know that it is *my* duty to teach the art of pie to my daughter (who appears to love to bake as much as her grandma).

My next charge is to get rid of that horrible, awful, sad book!

(Ok, so it really isn't a "horrible" or "awful" book. It is quite charming. But it doesn't belong in my house.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Conversations with the kids

I love asking my kids scientific questions and seeing how they respond. Here was our conversation from our drive home from the eye doctor this afternoon.

Me: "Leif why does the wind blow?"

Leif: "Oh, I know this one! It's because of the moon."

Me: "Nope, that's the tides."

Leif: "No, it works with wind too, the gravity pulls the wind around."

Me: "Ok... why do the colors of the leaves change?"

Skadi: "Because God makes them do that!"

Me: "Ok, good answer, why is the sky blue?"

Leif: "Because space is blue and the clouds get in the way and make the sky."

Skadi: "I wanted to answer Leif! It's because God made it blue."

Me: "Why are there volcanos."

Skadi: "Because God made volcanos."

Leif: "No Skadi, it's because wherever there is an earthquake a volcano pops up."

(Kind of sounds like a zit...)

Me: "Well I don't know if Skadi is wrong, but that's interesting Leif. Why does it get cold in winter."

Skadi (screaming): "BECAUSE GOD MADE IT!"

Leif: "That's easy, because the seasons change."

Me: "What are mountains made of?"

Leif: "Wood. Hey mom, what makes planets?"

Me: "Something like the big bang."

Leif: "Nope, you are wrong, dirt makes it and someone packs the dirt really hard together and a planet is made."

Skadi: "GOD MAKES PLANETS LEIF!"

(Yes, apparently Skadi has embraced Sunday school.)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Flooring selections

This fall we plan to replace our office and dining room crap carpet with hardwood. We went and picked out five options and once home immediately narrowed it down to three.

Going from three to one has proven to be more difficult. We love them all for various reasons. Here is where you come in.

Vote! I am posting the three options below. Please post in my comments picking your favorite selection and stating why.

A few details about our house. It is a very traditional style house. Lots of windows, two stories. We only plan to use this flooring in the two front rooms of the house - the formal dining room and office. There are two - yes two - different types of tile off the formal dining room.

The builders/original owners of this house were spastic with flooring. We have about five different carpets and three different tiles throughout the house. I need some consistency. The office and dining room are separated by a dark clay/terra cotta colored smooth tile. Off the formal dining room on the other side is pale cream rough tile.

We have maple trim.

The first is tiger bamboo. It is a solid hardwood, two toned bamboo. Bamboo is of an advantage because it is also the hardest material out there - and we have dogs.


Close up of the bamboo.

 The second choice is a tobacco teak, handscraped hardwood. It has a rough finish and will successfully hide little dings and dents.


Australian Cypress. The light color matches our trim very well. Disadvantage is that it is light and shiny and will show many different dings and dents.



So... what are your thoughts?

Sunday, October 02, 2011

The New Normal After 1 Month

It has officially been 1 month since I started my new schedule saying I would leave work at 3pm four days a week.

I like it.

I have an ongoing list of things that need to be done. Some are fun, some are chores. But I try to pick one of each most every afternoon.

And then there are the days when I abandon the list all together and do something crazy like tape off the foyer and paint the majority of it.

I like to work.

I completely respect people who choose to stay home with their kids. I don't get the SAHM vs Working Mom debate. We are all different. We have choices in this country. What works for me is not expected to work for others. Freedom to choose. Etc, etc.

I like to work. I am good at what I do. I get a jolt inside from the things I do on a daily basis. I have a whole lot of pride in my work and love my pats on the back. I need that.

But at the same time my kids' childhoods are flying by WAY WAY too fast. I need the time with them. I need them to come home to a mom in the house afterschool.

And I am in a very privileged position because *I* can make that choice. Not a lot of people can.

We are into our groove and I feel a sense of calm that has come over our house.

No more crazy rush to get something, anything on the table for dinner every night.

No more Wednesday night scramble to get the house picked up. Ok, so it is Wednesday afternoon scramble, but that leaves our nights open.

No more immediately ruling out any activity that starts before 6pm.

Less stress.

Even today, Sunday that is, I always do laundry on Sunday. And I stress about getting the laundry folded. I find myself saying in my head that if it doesn't get folded (because I am reading Bon Appetit) that I can always do it tomorrow afternoon. Ok, nevermind, that IS just called procrastination.

I am to the point where I feel like I can start adding to the schedule. That we have a routine, I know what to expect from the kids each afternoon. I am thinking I can start running on the treadmill again during that 30 minutes that I give in and put SpongeBob on. Gymnastics has moved onto the schedule (or at least we are waitlisted for the coveted classes).

Things are good. I am happy. The kids are happy. AB is happy. We are good.

Little Girl Wanderlust

The other day Skadi asked me if we were never going to ever stay in a hotel again now that we have the trailer? She was quite concerned about this. I told her no way, mommy couldn’t live that way. I have to have my hotel room vacation getaways. She was pacified for a few weeks, but the question keeps popping up still, “mommy when are we going to go somewhere and stay in a hotel?”


My little girl loves to travel. AB and I have surmised that Leif will be the engineer living with near his parents all his life, while our little girl is going to be wandering the globe. Of course I also remind myself that my mom always thought my sister would run off from Colorado (and previously Wyoming) as quick as possible never to return. And if we hadn’t left Wyoming I am SURE that would have been true. And maybe she might at some point, but I don’t see her leaving her stomping grounds anytime soon.

I was the one, way back when, that never intended on leaving Colorado or my family. So who knows!

Skadi loves her vacations.

Yesterday she received (finally) a poster that I had been talking about putting together for 10 months. A poster of all her character meetings from DisneyWorld. I figured I needed to get this done before we hit the one year anniversary of the trip. I ended up putting the poster up out of arms reach yesterday after she was lying on it and kissing each princess so that I could try and avoid it being ruined before I can get a poster frame on it. She holds that poster dear.

Of course, the poster arriving prompted a whole other realm of questions, “when can we go stay in a hotel mom?”, “when can we go back to DisneyWorld?”, “well if we aren't going to go to Disneyworld, can we go to Seattle then?”

I am with my girl. I think we need a vacation, a hotel vacation.

I always cringe just a bit when I hear parents talking about looking forward to their kids getting older so that they can do certain activities. I always think that day is going to come too soon. Revel in the here and now while they are little.

But I have to admit that I was wondering how old she needs to be before we start doing mom and daughter power shopping trips in Seattle complete with fancy dinner and hotel room? It was one of my mom’s and my favorite things to do and one of the things I miss most in having lost my mom. I do look forward to these outings with the next generation.

That time of the month... Goals!

I think the last time I talked about monthly goals was the end of July/first part of August. I am trying to remember (while being lazy and not scrolling back too far) what I put? I am pretty sure that it was August to select colors for the dining room/office/foyer and that in September I would paint.

For this being a late summer goal, I didn't do too bad!

We got the colors picked and I have so far, spent two afternoons painting to total one hallway in the foyer and one wall painted and two in the dining room. We need to double check our second accent color against the new taupe color of the dining room, purchase it and then paint.

We decided on a taupe neutral to use throughout the three rooms and I am thrilled with it. The second accent color will be a slate-ish grey.

Today we went and picked out new floors - or at least picked out 6 options which once home were quickly narrowed down to three.

Tiger Bamboo

Tobacco Road Teak

Australian (or was it Austrian?) Cypress

So that is the goal for this and next month - get the new floors decided on and in.

I seem to have a bit more flexibility with time lately and so my goals can be more than "clean out Leif's closet" because in theory WE can do that one day after school.

My stretch goal is that by Thanksgiving, I have a newly painted foyer and new paint and floors in the office and dining room.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Working the new normal

I mentioned a week or so ago that moving toward the new normal was proving to be a challenge. That packing up from work, leaving early and then knowing what to do with myself once home, was difficult.

Leif has challenges, according to his present and former teachers, with transitions. I think I know where he gets this from.

I struggle with it too. When I work, I like to have lots of projects and lots of things on my plate, but I tend to spend large chunks of time on one project and work it until all my outstanding to do items on that project are dealt with. While everything else festers sits idle. I claim myself to be a multitasker, but I wonder if I am more just a person who dislikes idle time? A person who fears boredom?

Say for example I am working project X and someone from project Y calls me. I have to fight my gut response that says, "what! Don't you know I am fully entrenched in something that has nothing to do with you or your work? Go away!"

Ok, so I would never ever say that. And I probably don't think it in those terms. But when I break it down and acknowledge my annoyance with phone calls on topic Y, while working topic X, this is where my annoyance stems. I can't transition to what you are talking about on this topic!

(And what is it lately with the increase in phone calls? Doesn't anyone e-mail anymore? My phone seems to ring off the hook lately at work.)

Ok, back to the topic at hand. The new normal.

My problem for the first few weeks is that I came home to work and didn't really know what I was supposed to be doing. Should I be doing laundry? Or fixing dinner? Or answering work e-mails? Or sitting in front of the TV with my kids? Or should we go to the park? I really want to sort photos. And I really need groceries... Argh! And before I knew it AB would be home and I would feel like I hadn't used my time wisely.

This last week I have kept a list on my phone of things I *want* to do. Ok, also on it is my list of things I *need* to do. I planned out my days and our dinners and the kids activities. I checked things off my list (yes, I have been known to put something on my list just so I can check it off). And happiness ensued.

Dinner gets made. The house gets picked up. Homework gets done. Books get read.

I enjoy work. I am good at what I do. I just need to apply my same strategies for a happy work life to my time at home.

The groove isn't worn in yet. But the wheel is working it. Once I get our schedule down and the new normal sets in, then I can set about changing and adding things.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

On the importance of the whole package

AB and I are suffering foodies. We love good food, we love eating out. The food I can cook, but wow I get tired of my kids questioning and turning their noses up to everything. We occasionally seek to eat out, but we truly do not live in a restaurant town. There are a few places that are angling to take the area a little more in that direction. But it is bad. AB and I reflect on our years of dining out in Northern California fondly. We used to eat at some fabulous places both there and on travels.

Now that we have kids, those adventures are fewer and further between.

The other night we had AB's sister babysit and we had reservations at a local restaurant, Picazo 717. We have eaten there twice before. The first time was fabulous. The second time we shared the paella and were less than enthused. This was the third time.

If you have read my blog before you know that I have secret dreams as a food critic. I would be the undercover type...

Anyways... we had fabulous food at Picazos last week. Really the food was solid. I didn't care for the clams, but that's just me and the fact that I think I have become horribly spoiled having a family cabin on a great clamming beach.

What sucked? The service. It was so so bad that AB and I were contemplating dropping our normal 20% tip to 10%. I can't stiff a wait person, my sister is a waitress and works her butt off. But it says something when I look to drop below that 15% mark.

Indulge my critic-ness... or scroll past. I just need to get this out.

  • 20 open tables, 3 of them occupied, we were sat at a small little two top next to two guys sitting at a 4-top. And I am talking SMALL two top. We were awkwardly close (I should have asked for a different table.)
  • The hostess spills my water and doesn't even return with a rag to wipe it up.
  • Waitress doesn't speak to us for 15 minutes, seriously we were ready to go find a wait person.
  • When she arrives she asks for our food order. I asked her what the specials were. She recites them and asks for our order. We sent her away while we contemplate our plan with the specials in mind. (She didn't ask for a drink order, but we didn't think to ask for drinks...)
  • When she finally returns we tell her we are doing tapas and salads and place the order. I call her back to ask for a glass of sangria since she never asked if we wanted drinks. Which they didn't have any sangria then. So I went back to the wine list.
  • After what seems like ages she brings a huge tray out with all our tapas and salads and then declares, "I don't know what YOU are going to do, all this food won't fit on this table." I said, "yes, the table is VERY small". She had the tapas on the table, I sent her back to the kitchen with the salads since there wasn't room and she suggested we don't uncover the clams until ready to eat so they don't get too cold. Duh. Doesn't seem like this took too much forethought... but I was suddenly wishing I would have sent her back with the tapas and not the salads. Oh well, my stomach will survive.
  • We finish the tapas, but she has disappeared again. Seriously like 20 minutes pass between being done and AB deciding to flag down the hostess to see if she can find our waitress.
  • She returns and asks if we want our salads now. Umm yes.
  • Salads were delicious.
  • She clears our plates and announces, "thanks for joining us, I will be back with your check".
  • "How about dessert?" I ask her. "Oh, your choice is X, Y or Z, what did you want?" Z we answer, with two Spanish coffees. She leaves.
  • Comes back with dessert that has ice cream topping. AB asks her if the coffee is on its way? It is.
  • 5 minutes later she comes back and asks if the Spanish coffee is a bar drink. We tell her it is.
  • 10 minutes later (dessert is gone) she comes back and says that the bartender only has Kahlua, will that work instead of "whatever else is supposed to go in"? YES, we tell her, just bring them.
  • Coffees finally arrive.
  • Check arrives. Dinner in right at 2.5 hours.  
Her saving grace tip-wise was that she didn't charge us for at least $25 worth of food. Did she know she sucked it up royally?

Some people can get by with being given sucky service. But for AB and me, our opportunities to eat out are rare, we can cook food as good as ANY restaurant in the area, I will wager that hands down. Our indulgence with eating out is having the quiet atmosphere to sit and talk, not having to clean up, not having children whining and having someone wait on us. Food for us, is only a minor part of the package. When the rest of the package is screwed up, it isn't worth it.



Adventures in bedtime

Each kid has their own bedtime ritual. Leif goes to bed and we do a chapter book. AB is reading the classics to him while I work my way through Harry Potter series with him. AB and Leif have read Robinson Crusoe, Tom Sawyer (which AB has deemed highly inappropriate, but that's ok I guess) and they are now on Robin Hood. I never read the Harry Potter books at the peak of popularity and so they are new to both Leif and me. We are on the "Goblet of Fire".

Skadi gets in bed and we read three short books and then we go to YouTube. AB and I discovered awhile back she wouldn't fall asleep to books being read to her, but she would fall asleep to music. Actually, AB would sing her to sleep. When it was my turn with Skadi I would start singing, she would tell me to stop and go get daddy. I got even with him one night and pulled out my phone. YouTube has loads of songs.

Recently we happened upon a video that Skadi likes (click on it, it is only 20 seconds long...):


Skadi thinks this is THE funniest thing EVER. Ok, it is pretty cute.

Skadi has figured out that you can link to "related" content on YouTube and so lately her obsession has been "baby pandas" in general. And there are a freaky number of "baby panda" videos on YouTube and they are very adorable.

Invariably though this does NOT put her to sleep. I need to somehow switch over to a song. Last night I put the kibosh on "baby panda" movies and navigated to the stand by "Rainbow Connection" with Kermit on the log.

"NO!" Skadi screamed, "I DO NOT want to watch any videos that don't have baby pandas in them!"

I stiffled my laughter.

She got mad at me and then rolled over and promptly fell asleep.

See songs work every single time.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What's on your playlist?

I'll post mine... if you post yours!

I am tiring just a bit of my current play list. I tend to update it whenever I am on vacation. Last good update was July 4th. One of my goals for the year is that whenever I sit down at the computer that I tack a stack of cd's with me and upload them. It actually doesn't take long and iTunes organizes it for me. Slick. As long as I remember where that stack of cds is...

My kids have their current favorites. Leif is full on into Les Miserables and while part of me wants to brag a bit about this I have to admit that he is nearly driving us all up the wall with it. We like Les Mis. We probably love Les Mis. But not like Leif. The last time we came back from the cabin he was a bit nauseated in the car playing his DS, so we agreed to put on Les Mis. Oh my goodness. We finally put a stop to it most of the way through the second complete play. And he was disappointed.

Whenever we get in the car that is his first request, "can we listen to Les Mis?" And my answer is becoming more often "no". I gave him my old iPod loaded with only the Les Mis soundtrack. He has his headphones, he can (and does) listen to it whenever he wants.

But oh, there was that other day a week or so ago when "Pepper" came on. (Butthole Surfers) And Leif said, "I LOVE this song Dad! Mom plays it all the time!" Ok, I don't play it ALL the time, but it is on my current playlist. He was overly humored when AB said to me, "you let Leif listen to the Butthole Surfers?" Yeah, the Butthole Surfers is a new favorite saying... joy.

Skadi on the other hand has embraced rock, both classic and contemporary. Her current favorites are "Say Hey" by Michael Frant, who she just calls simply, "Michael". Sigh, my daughter is on a first name basis with a rock star. Her second favorite is ABBA's "Dancing Queen" and the new favorite is simply identified by his name... "Uncle Kracker". Is it bad that my daughter loves, "Follow Me"? Am I corrupting her little brain to think that affairs are ok and that marriages are unhappy??

My favorites? I have always always been a big Richard Thompson fan and he will forever be my favorite. But Mike Doughty is moving up near Richard. (Yes, *I* am on a first name basis with Richard... or at least in my dreams...) I will always be a Dylan fan. And the Rolling Stones - yes when MTV first came on the air I do remember my mom's look of horror when I declared Mick Jagger "cute".

So here's my list...

Breathe Me, Sia


Bittersweet, Big Head Todd & The Monsters

Pepper, Butthole Surfers

Tangled Up In Blue, Bob Dylan

Radar Love, Golden Earring

In a Big Country (Radio), Big Country

Anchorage, Michelle Shocked

Friday I'm In Love, The Cure

Tiny Dancer, Ben Folds

Buckets Of Rain, Bob Dylan

Walking In Memphis, Marc Cohn

Sweet Child o' Mine (Rick Rubin New Mix), Sheryl Crow

Grey Ghost, Mike Doughty

Lay, Lady, Lay, Bob Dylan

Grease, Frankie Valli

Say Hey (I Love You) [feat. Cherine Anderson], Michael Franti & Spearhead

Steal My Kisses, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals

Heavy Things, Phish

Maggie May, Rod Stewart

Bubble Toes, Jack Johnson

The Gambler, Mike Doughty

Pride and Joy, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble

Come on Eileen, Dexy's Midnight Runners

Peaches, The Presidents of the United States of America

Dream Cafe, Greg Brown

Punk Rock Girl, The Dead Milkmen

I Melt With You, Modern English

The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades, Timbuk 3

You Can't Always Get What You Want, The Rolling Stones

Landslide, Dixie Chicks

1952 Vincent Black Lightning, Richard Thompson

Walkin' On the Sun, Smash Mouth

Stayin' Alive, Bee Gees

I'll Fly Away, Alison Krauss & Gillian Welch

Electric Avenue, Eddy Grant

Follow Me, Uncle Kracker

The Cape, Eric Bibb

Cannonball, The Breeders

Tainted Love (7" Single), Soft Cell

Lips Like Sugar, Echo And The Bunnymen

Whip It, Devo

Pretty In Pink, The Psychedelic Furs

Persuasion, Richard Thompson

Hey, Soul Sister, Train

Let's Go To Bed, The Cure

Under My Thumb, The Rolling Stones

Save Tonight, Eagle-Eye Cherry

Centerfold, The J. Geils Band

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Looking for the groove

We are all two weeks into the new normal. Leif riding the bus to and home from school and me meeting him at the bus with Skadi and the three of us having afternoons together.

I want to say it is an easy transition, but it seems to be perplexing us all at times. I keep wondering when this is going to become the normal feeling, because it sure isn't yet.

I have to admit that I might be a bit of a workaholic. Not the one that works long hours. I was FAR from working a 60 hour week. Nope. I was 40 hours, but the vast majority of time a very productive 40 hours that makes me very proud.

I am very lucky that I love what I do (for the most part). I have my days... and my people... that make life far more difficult than it really should be. But for the most part I am really, really happy with my work life and well after I get home each night, my brain is still working.

I admit that the change to getting up and walking out of work 2 hours early a day isn't coming easy to me. I know it will get easier and I do think that the fiscal year end (read crazy ridiculous government rules imposed) has a lot to do with it and I am waiting until well into FY12, after October 1, before I start making any meaningful judgments.

I love, love being home with my kids in the afternoons. But I need to get better organized. I have a list of things on my phone I want to work on, need to do and dinner ideas. But somehow I get home and actually feel a touch lost. I have trouble turning work off, even when I am not checking my phone for e-mails. My brain rolls along wondering if person X is getting that presentation done, if contracts specialist Y is  talking to that vendor, if client Z is trying to get ahold of me or who is up working in the lab and if they will lock the door at the end of the day. I worry about what people will think when they hear I am not working full time - will the managers I work to impress suddenly shy away from me? Will people be reluctant to work with me because they will view me as unreliable? Or will it go largely unnoticed?

My list of things to do in the afternoons is so often errands - go return the soccer gear to the YMCA, take Leif to the doctors, take Skadi to get new glasses, go get new paint samples from Home Depot - that I just don't feel as though I have really sunk into a good routine. I think I will. Actually I know I will.

I keep eyeing the 4:30pm tennis lessons for ages 4 and up and the club... and thinking about that stack of cds I want burned onto my computer... and the photos files that I have intent to organize during my free time and not to mention my goals. I am organized in every other aspect of my life... I need to apply it to my after schools planning!

We will get there, I am sure of it. I realize that I am so very lucky to be in a position to be able to scale my hours back and not to have to rely on after school care, but I need to sink a bit more into it and the new routine.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Soul Sister


Ok yes, one of my favorite songs… Hey, Soul Sister… can I admit that here?

In the past few weeks in discussions with friends and actually online as well, we have hit on that “right person”. Who is it and how do you know?

I know my right person… my husband. We have this super marriage. A marriage that when others are in groups and venting about their significant other about all I can find to say is, “I got nothing.” (Now if they wanted to switch the topic over to work? I could so bend some ears there.)

I am lucky. Very, very lucky.

My husband supports me in everything I do. He gives me his opinion, even though I may not want it, and then he shuts up when I ask him if I asked for his opinion. We talk all the time. He has heard my stories 6832 times and I have heard his 6833 times. But we still learn from each other. We are a team and ever proud of being a family together. And I pray to God that he never finds a reason or desire to leave me.

We started dating when we were in our senior year in college, just before we each turned 22. Those first two years were rocky. We broke up a number of times. I always swore (before him) that I wouldn’t go back to a failed relationship. But something kept pulling me back each time. Then I decided to go to grad school. He followed me a few states over and by that action, I knew we were in it for the long haul, though we didn't marry for 3 years after that.

I dated a lot (read too much) in high school. I look back now and realize that I wanted someone so badly that I dated anyone who took a second glance at me. I hope I can infuse in my daughter a stronger sense of worth in herself and less of my early dependence on feeling like I was someone because I was with someone. With only a few exceptions I went from dating one person a prior weekend to having a new boyfriend the next. It wasn’t until a particularly stifling year and a half in early college that I decided I needed to be brave. I needed to be by myself for one full year. I needed to figure out who I was.

And I did it. When AB came along that senior year, I was ready.

Is he my soul mate? See I am not sure I believe in a soul mate. The whole one person for each person out there and if brought together, sparks will fly and all will be good in the world, doesn't really jive with me. And AB agrees with me.

I, in no way, believe that if the stars hadn’t aligned bringing AB to Colorado for college (because his dad decided to get his graduate degree at the same university) and then bringing me to the same university because I was dating Mr. Stifler who wanted to switch universities… or say I hadn’t put off PChem Lab that one year, maybe I decided to take it on a whim the semester prior… or say I hadn’t looked over in PChem Lab on that first day and said to myself, “OMG I so cannot be lab partners with Wayne again, I have to pounce on someone else” and AB was standing there… that we wouldn’t have been perfectly happy with someone else.

Who that someone else would have been, I have no idea.

Would I have gone on to grad school by myself and dated one of my fellow grad students? Or would I have moved along single into a job and married one of the many single (probably for a reason) nuclear physicists or engineers I worked with?

There have been other people who have come into my life that I believe, if circumstances were different, that we could have successfully made a go at it and been happy. Does that make me want to jump ship and test it out. No freaking way. I have my small list of guys in the back of my head that on a rare occasion I think back on, “if things would have been different… where would we be now?” And I think it would have been good, but I am in no way kidding myself that that list of guys is also guys that I never actually dated either.

So maybe, just maybe, I did luck out and find my soul mate. I don't know. But I look forward to spending the rest of my life with that fabulous man that is driving our children up the street right now as I sit here typing.

Domestication?

This week there have been a lot of changes in the house. I have spent my week resisting the urge to fill in the space. The beloved space. The space I have craved for months... yes, actually years.

Years ago when Leif was little I said it was my goal to reduce my hours once he left our quiet peaceful private school for the hustle and bustle of the public school. I remember once my mother in law made the statement - "it is best to work when the kids are little, be home in the afternoons when the kids get older and can get in more trouble". That spoke to me way back when. And so it became my goal to reduce my hours to be home when they headed out into the world.

This week that goal was realized. On Tuesday, the first day of school, I sent my boy off on the big bus. He quickly friended a 4th grade girl who according to her mom, "loves to mother" and miracles of all miracles, he has made it successfully to school AND home every day so far this week! (Knock on wood.)

And so at 3pm when I am at work, or in a meeting, I have packed my things up, stood up and walked out.

With my managers concurrence of course.

I have to admit it has been a very weird feeling as quite often I am one of the last ones left in my hallway. Not because I work long hours, but because everyone else manages to get in WAY before me. Now I get in later than them, and I leave early. At least Monday through Thursday. Friday's AB is off and so it is his day to field the kids while I get to have my long day at work.

I tell you what, those two hours less at work are noticeable! My day seems so short. I feel that I have just enough time to get done what I need to get done. Anything extra? Well that is for Fridays. I actually love Fridays at work. It is often very quiet and I usually have a last burst of energy before the weekend to plow through my lists. Monday then becomes my busy day as everyone works off my productivity the day before the weekend.

I get home and those 2 hours at home make a world of difference. I can get settled in, go meet the bus, pick up the house, unload the dishwasher, make dinner...

Our Wednesday night pick up night? Nonexistent. Because by dinner time, my house is picked up and ready for the Thursday housecleaner. Yay me! Domestication?

I expect the downside is that my husband will gain weight since I have actual time to cook stuff... like manicotti (last night) instead of just throw together whatever is in the fridge.

The extra time I have in the afternoons affords a lot more flexibility for the family. Easier to get out for a walk in the evenings. Easier for my husband to justify time at the gym since he doesn't have to help me come home and scramble.

One other advantage? My daughter will spend less time at preschool a day, hopefully resulting in fewer opportunities for her to lose random privileges at school. Well, I can hope at least!

I am oh so tempted to add swimming, or gymnastics, or tennis lessons (just saw that option in the court club's newsletter) for the kids. But no. I am resisting the urge for a few weeks to settle in.

But I may do myself a favor and venture to the gym... just maybe!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Huh...

Just noticed that the time stamps are wonky on my posts... apparently if I start a blog some long past day and the finish it today, the time stamp is from that long past day!

All I did last Tuesday was type in the title and first line to remind myself to blog on that topic. But it is coming up as being done last Tuesday during the day.

Ok, just had to comment on that.

Catching Up

It wouldn't be a catching up blog without me wondering where the month has gone. Yes, wasn't it just yesterday I was posting about July? And now here I am with one more day of summer camp for Leif.

My baby boy is going to the first grade! I remember the first grade... (there's a blog topic for a another day).

So us. Let's see...

AB - he's doing great. I am constantly amazed by him waking up at 4:30am every single morning - well at least Monday thru Thursday and some Fridays and going into work and working a 10 hour day. I know many people who would have walked out on that gig a long time ago.

Skadi - things are looking up for her. She was moved out of the corner and all summer long has only lost one or two privileges. She truly has been such a pleasure to be around lately. She even has started showing an interest in wearing jeans! Gasp! I still embrace the dresses for her because I don't think this will last for long and I want to enjoy the dress phase.

I ordered a pair of cute jeans for her the other day, super flare with embroidered flowers. She was so excited when they arrived. Put them on and they were too tight. Gurr. There were tears. She couldn't believe that happened and wanted them so badly to wear a pink belt with. Me? I can't believe I just ordered size 5's to replace the ill fitting ones. 5? Really?

Me - work is going well. I had posted previously about concerns with being light on work. I really should know better than to send a note to my manager and team lead before actually putting my own feelers out. Within 3 days I was back to being fully committed for the remainder of this year and the coming year. And AB cursed me - he told me this would happen - and he was right. Now I am looking at my plate and wondering if I have too much on it? Because if I am not scrambling crazy busy, I don't have enough. I sent a note to my managers the other day - please do NOT send me any work (unless you know, it is just exactly perfect for me... like this other stuff I just accepted...). Sigh.

All of this has resulted in for me a whole lot less stress. I know the source of my stress... concerns over work. I can enjoy my weekends again!

Goals? Well let's see here...

If on Friday I buy paint samples and this weekend I put them on the wall and see how they look, I think I will hit my August goal!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Probably an unpopular vent

For years AB and I have supported strongly national parks. We donate money to the parks system and believe strongly that it is an important asset.

I just have one beef.

The pet policy.


That would be the pet policy that basically says your dog should never leave your vehicle and even better - leave said dog at home.

Last weekend we went to Mt. Rainier National Park to the Sunrise Visitor's Center - a side we had never been to and man it was packed. We went to the visitor's center, found a place to take some pictures, grabbed some lunch and headed out.

You know, here, yes, I can understand a no pets please request. It was busy, the trails were packed and there was hardly room to get cars parked. We were just happy it wasn't hot in the car and were able to leave the dogs in the car.

But umm, the park is big. And we wanted to hike somewhere. And the dogs need to pee.

But nowhere that we stopped were those dogs allowed to leave our car. At each stop there was a park ranger wagging his finger and threatening hefty fines.

At one stop we thought we were over the border of the National Park and into the National Forest which does not have such pet laws.

We quickly found out we were 500 feet short of the National Forest boundary and those dogs could go right back into the vehicle.

And I know this will be an unpopular post because a woman standing near me went up and congratulated the ranger on his score of booting the dogs out by saying, "I just want to thank you, the GALL of some people to think they can bring their dogs ANYWHERE!" I couldn't help a quick retort to her citing the fact that it is a bit hard to know exactly where the park and forest boundary is when you are visiting a place for the first time. She, of course, glared at me fierce - but I think she was more embarrassed at being busted with a reasonable argument that she had no quick response for (not realizing *I* was with that crazy dog guy).

I get that not all pet owners are top notch. And for this, fine them. But not everyone is a bad apple! There certainly are enough rangers around to write those tickets out (and generate revenue in the meantime for the parks that we hear are starved for cash).

We found the invisible line separating park from forest and got out and set about a hike, where the trail was packed with dogs at every turn. Dogs not allowed just 500 feet away (with the same terrain and same views).

We love to travel. We love the parks. We love our long weekend adventures. We love hiking. We love our dogs. It makes me sad that this all can't be combined.

I am planning for a Yellowstone trip next spring break and already trying to figure out what the path forward will be with our dogs... who normally travel with us.

Summer of Fun



I hope that some day Leif looks back and relishes his first real summer outside of full time school/care. To this point Leif's summers have beeen about the same as his winters, work and playtime at his Montessori school. This year, things have been different...


There was robot racing...



And even some robot Sumo wrestling in August.


I wish *I* would have had a summer of camps!


He has learned a lot of lessons though throughout the summer...



  • like the necessity of keeping track of ones things... (one wallet lost, goggles lost...)

  • and that while it is good to be generous, that buying other people food results in first not having money for lunch, and second offense resulted in it coming out of his money and then tears.

  • that nothing comes for free. That when the concession stand at the club asks for his name after ordering a Super Nachos, a drink, a snocone, a smoothie and a push up, that it goes to mom and dad's account.

  • that mom and dad DO find out everything.

  • that it is possible to get tired of all the fun things after awhile.

Ah well. A new world awaits him (and us) a week from today when I put my baby boy on the school bus.


And I will resist in following the bus to the school to make sure everything goes ok.




Sunday, August 14, 2011

Love my Beaner

Me: "Hmm, the instructions are in Chinese."

Skadi: "Let me have it, I read Chinese."

(I hand her the instructions.)

Skadi: "It says this is a remote control car and it needs batteries."

---------

Time for bed.

Skadi: "Mommy, I am going to put you to bed tonight. Lay down your head here."

She rubs my head and sings me a lullaby that she made up very softly and sweetly.

Skadi: "If your hands are dirty, wash them. If your clothes are dirty, wash them." (Repeat 23 times.)

Skadi: "Mommy, you are the best mommy ever." Rolls over and falls asleep.

Me? Luckiest mom ever.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Shoe Girl Status in Question

Skadi loves her Keens. She has since she was a baby and she was just learning to walk in the summer after she turned one.

We each have our preferences, and while I want really badly to love Keens, they just don’t fit my feet well. Though I am thinking I might need to try their boots… maybe those would be better? Or maybe I am just sucked into thinking that by their adorable-ness…

Anyways, every year Skadi has had pink or purple Keens. Sandals or shoes. I asked Skadi earlier this summer what kind of shoes she wanted for the fall (in case I happened upon some clearance options) and she told me, “shoes like these” (pointing to her pink Keen sandals on her feet) “that don’t have have holes in them”.

Gee… there is a surprise… shoes like she has had for the last three years.

But then a few weeks ago she found an old pair of Leif’s Keens. His only pair. And Leif, like me, didn’t care for them on. They are brown size 10’s, the size she will need for the fall.

And Skadi has latched onto them. Her dad has latched onto Skadi loving them and 9 times out of 10 when dad is getting her ready in the morning those brown Keens grace her feet.

Can I be honest? I cringe a little. I know I shouldn’t. I shouldn’t cringe at my daughter wearing brown “boy shoes”. She is pink and frilly in everything else she does in life, a little bit of ordinary brown shoes won’t change that special something about her. Right?

I keep reminding myself that it is $50 saved. And that if one day this fall she adamantly decides that she doesn’t want the brown shoes anymore, we CAN go get her a pair of pink cute Keens.

Still though… this drastic out of character move of my daughter’s to latch onto something so… so… brown… and ordinary… just perplexes me.

And makes me a bit concerned about her status as a "shoe girl".

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Well shack.

Leif is picking up "new" words this summer at summer camps. Skadi's new favorite movie is "Ramona and Beezus" and "guts" has been about the speed of Leif's naughty words to this point.

A few weeks ago this happened:

Leif: "Skadi get in the water and don't be a chicken shack."

Me: "What did you call her?"

Leif: "A chicken shack, you know."

Me: "We do not call each other chicken shacks!!"

----------

Then there was this week.

Leif: "He said the 'a' word."

Me: "What is the 'a' word? You can tell me, you won't get in trouble." (I am thinking ass, but wanted to see if he knew.)

Leif: "Shit."

Me: "Shit does not have an 'a' in it. And you are right, that is a bad word. Do you know what it means?"

Leif: "Dumb Donkey."

Me: "Uhhh..."

Ok, so maybe he did mean the "a" word?

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Memories

Ever have one of those memories that triggers so much more than "oh yeah, I remember that"?

Last night Skadi was picking YouTube songs before bed and she happened upon "Bert Sings Imagination". I couldn't have told you at all what this was about - and I am a vault of knowledge with regards to Ernie and Bert. Even as the video started I didn't know what it was.

Then the singing started.



Umm yeah. I watched it with Skadi one time and it triggered such an intense memory that I immediately recalled all the words. If someone had asked me to sing "Imagination" prior to that I would have wondered if Bert really had remade John Lennon's song.

And can I just say that "Wubba wubba" still makes me giggle? And I loved at the end when the balloons came down and my sweet baby girl squealed, "It's a miracle mommy!"

Last Sunday I sat in the church that I hadn't walked into in about 18 years.

I could not have told you what the lights looked like. But when I saw those horride funky lights from the 70's... well they immediately took me back.

I did remember the wooden strips paneling the ceiling and how I used to count them and recount them. And it must be habit because when the tears were feeling imminent, and the service was droning on, I started counting them again.

I couldn't have told you 8 days ago what color the pew fabric was.

But when I saw that horrible red and purple pattern I was a child again sitting on the pew taking Butter Rum Lifesavers from my grandmother's and mom's hands.

Hangin' with the cousins


The 4th of July wasn't nearly so much fun since the closest child to my kids' age was 12. But it was a weekend of cousins under 7 for Leif's birthday!



Seriousness can only be maintained for so long.


Skadi and Hazel are always fast and inseperable friends.



Much time was spent in Signe's cabin playing dollies, putting dollies to bed, putting each other to bed, feedling the dollies...




As well as outside in the pool... with the many pool toys...




And on the trampoline...





Happy 7th Birthday Leif!







Seven just seems so much bigger than six. At six, I could still get away with saying "little boy". But at seven? I am just not sure that seven is little anymore. He no longer asks for toys really... except ok a Nerf gun picked out by his sister WAS really cool...







he wants big kid stuff... like Donkey Kong Country Wii...






and Super Mario Brothers v. 63. Or it seems like they should be on v. 63 since I remember Super Mario Brothers from when I was a kid...



The nice fishing pole from grandpa Perry was MUCH appreciated...




This year Leif decided that he wanted two things - to go to the cabin for his birthday to see his cousins from Boston...










and then a sleepover with three of his friends also "gamers" to play Wii all night, with no parents and no girls allowed.



Leif had requested a three layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and a cherry on top. No problem, I thought. Then I took the three round layers out of the oven and Leif looked dismayed, "why are they the same size?" Turns out he wanted a three tier chocolate cake, like a wedding cake with a cherry on top.




Well a knife works wonders... and then *I* got to munch on cake before the actual party.




The other thing that is very important to have when you are seven years old is trick candles!








Because everyone wants their cake covered in spit from the effort taken for blowing out candles for 5 minutes...






Happy 7th birthday Leif!