Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Skadi-ism #1

“Ok parents,” she says.

We are “parents”.

We aren’t “mom and dad” or “mommy and daddy”.



“Parents, I want to know if you would like your children to sing you a song?”

“Parents, you should go in the other room and not look over here.”

“Parents, can I have a snack?”


At a restaurant waiting for food. The kids have their complimentary crayons and placemat. Skadi is coloring away. Leif is writing words. He prints “fo” on his placemat.

AB: “That’s not a word.”

(I know where this is going. Leif is always writing fo as opposed to “of”.)

Leif: “Yes it is daddy.”

AB: “No it isn’t, it says fo. Fo isn’t a word.”

Leif (becoming insistent): “Yes daddy, it is a word!”

AB: “Ok, use it in a sentence.”

Leif: “Someone who isn’t a SuperHero friend is a foe!”

AB: (Silence.)

Me: “Take that daddy!”


Skadi has a knack for spinning yarns. She gets on a roll and it just doesn't stop.

Leif asked me what my name was before I got married and I told him my maiden name.

Skadi: "My name before I was in mommy's tummy was Vanya and I was a person who helped other people and made sure they were ok and I did good at my job. Then something happened and I don't know what it was and I was in my mommy's tummy."

Me: "Okaaaaaayyyyy..."

Leif: "Before I was in mommy's tummy, she was in her mommy's tummy and I was still in her tummy and all people are in tummys now."

Me: "Wow, this is deep." (Change subject fast.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Things I suck at...

-Lying – seriously. I suck at this. I quiver and shake and my eyes start darting. I used to try to lie to my mom way back in high school and she would laugh at me. Now I look at Leif and see what she saw when she would look at me lying. Poor Leif is never going to get away with anything. (His sister, however, freaks me out with her amazing fibbing abilities. Her teachers have also marveled at her ability to pull one over on them.)

-History – I wish I knew more about history. But I don’t. I suck at it.

-Speaking Spanish – Yes, I know I had like 6 years of Spanish from Junior High through High School and I did at one point speak it fluently. I can understand Spanish, but I cannot any longer wrap my tongue around speaking it. (I have a Spanish speaking intern I am sharing with another colleague coming in and this concerns me a bit.)

-Baking – So maybe I don’t suck suck at it. I have a small repertoire of items I can bake. But baking is not my forte. Cooking a fabulous meal, yes.

-Growing indoor plants – I bought a lemon tree after a long hiatus of living in no plant land. They are messy and I just don’t like them. But dang, I wanted a lemon tree! Poor baby lemon tree…

-Cleaning – I suck at this. I also don’t like it. But mostly I suck at it. No wait… mostly I don’t like it… (Question – which came first, the chicken or the egg?)

-Meeting new people – I become a clam. I never know what to say. I get nervous. I worry that I will do something wrong. I worry what they will think of me. And I always come off wrong. Yes, I suck at meeting new people.

-Keeping a secret – Maybe I should caveat this… keeping a secret from my husband! I had a very exciting thing happen this last week. I made a wee tiny inquiry and received a fabulous response from someone regarding an anniversary gift for AB. And it is absolutely killing me to keep this secret. And I have to keep it for TWO FREAKING MONTHS. I am queen of ruining presents for him. This one I am not going to ruin. Nope, not going to spill the beans. Going to forget ALL about it.

Seriously. This is hard.

Yep, keeping secrets is my number one thing I suck at.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Winding down the month

As typical for most resolutioners, my first of the year goals are filled with lots of spunk and promise. Promises of an organized house, followed by a beautiful and elegant new half guest bathroom and lots of ideas to follow for the months after. Then by summer I am talking about taking months off because we are too busy. And goals over the holidays? Yeah right.

I wandered the Target aisles over lunch yesterday with AB… and no kids. He doesn’t work on Fridays and I met him for a quick and easy lunch and then to grab a few things.

I have been coveting some cute desk organizers for our office. I didn’t find much.

I haven’t found much online either.

The desk organization part of my January goals is not flying. I bought a little square caddy thing that can either lie on its side for cds, or sit upwards to hold – what I am thinking – pads of paper and midsize desk stuff. I bought a couple magazine storage containers. But I don’t need an In box or an Out box or alphabetical storage. We walk in the house through the garage and everything lands on the surface in the opposite corner of the house. Office type stuff often gets stored and organized in the kitchen first instead because of this. If I am looking for a piece of paper, I don’t go straight to my office. The kitchen is the first stop.

Our computer desk just raises a big question mark for me.

I think I did my shopping for organizing items prematurely. I think I should have cleaned off the desk, figured out what really needs to be there and then gone shopping. I knew we needed a pens container and I bought that. But it isn’t cute. In fact, I am already wondering if it would be better suited for Leif’s room and wondering if I would be better suited for a trip to Hobby Lobby?

Oh well. It’s on my list for the weekend, clear off the desk and organize. (Maybe go to Hobby Lobby…)

Today I worked on Leif’s mess of a closet. (A trip to Hobby Lobby would definitely serve as reward that effort…) Done. Finished. Whew. Not fun. Skadi has already started back to destroying it now that she can see all the fun things.

I am trying to finish out my January organization tactics before getting too amped about the downstairs half bath. But I found these… and I fell in love with them:

I love irises. Always have. There was an iris field in Boulder near my apartment in college that I loved. Irises were my wedding flower.

And oh, they were on sale. I got one for $36 and the other for $41. Yay me!

They are going to look spectacular in my bathroom! And now I have color inspiration for the lackluster room!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Stuff that lasts a lifetime? Or a lifetime of stuff?

The other day while skiing with AB, we were sitting on the ski lift (because our children were in ski school – yay ski school!) and he commented that all his ski gear was getting old. We had purchased nearly it all in Reno, which was 9 years ago. I looked at my stuff and felt a fondness.

There have been lots of articles out there lately about how purchases are not satisfying, they don’t fill ones soul, basically. I think in the down economy it is an attempt to make people feel better about not having the cash-oh-la to go out and buy buy buy. There is a lot of talk out there about reusing and what a wasteful society we have become. Disposable is bad.

I like shopping. I like stuff. I admit it.

My family likes stuff. My grandmother REALLY liked stuff. This last summer we cleaned (I use the term “we” loosely here) out her house as she went into an Alzheimer’s care facility. As a kid I thought she had loads of treasures. Turns out? She bought the cheapest stuff she could find. I found a little crystal tea service set that I loved – I don’t remember seeing it as a kid – it was stashed away in a secret spot. Very retro and fun looking, but missing a cup. I went to and was a bit disappointed to find out I could only order the entire set, not just the missing cup. But then again, the entire set was $14. (And yes, I do still love it.)

This is the type of stuff my grandmother had. Depression era mindset, never spend money on luxuries for yourself, save everything. My mom, a few years ago, went to my grandmother’s house to help her clean stuff out and found an entire cabinet full of all the lotions and soaps she had ever given her for Mother’s Days, Christmas, her birthday.

“Why haven’t you used these?” my mom asked picking up the dusty, cruddy old bottles.

“I am saving them,” was her reply.

“For what?” my mom asked.

“To use,” she replied.

And I expect my mom rolled her eyes and left the conversation there. No one ever won arguments with my grandmother.

Lately I have been looking through my stuff with a bit of a critical eye given the articles and general opinion out there about buying new stuff, as well as combined with my recent experiences “helping” clean out my grandmother’s and my mom’s belongings.

My purchasing habits have changed over the last few years. I do still find joy in my older purchases though – the common consensus out there that purchases won’t fill your soul is a bit flawed I think.

My ski bibs and my ski gloves are two of these things. I truly believe that these two items will last my lifetime. High quality, good fitting and timeless items. Clarification, they will last my lifetime at my current level of commitment to skiing and cold weather activities, which is that I am a fair weather skier living in a warm-ish climate that is 2 hours 45 minutes drive to ski.

I bought my grandmother a good set of stacking stainless steel mixing bowls just like mine after she visited my house and commented a few times, “I wish I had a good set of bowls”. I love my stainless steel nesting bowls. They will be with me for life.

My kitchen items – I have a ton of kitchen stuff. But instead of replacing my $4.99 Woolworth special hand mixer that my grandmother bought for me with another of its type, I plan to get a Kitchen Aid hand mixer (in cocoa silver, in case you were wondering) and never ever have to replace it again.

This blog topic has been floating around in my head for a few weeks. And as I have walked around my house I have made mental note of the things I have purchased that will last a lifetime. What do I believe I have bought or been given that I will never have to replace?

And it isn’t always the most expensive things.

My ski bibs, for example. I think I bought them for $28 on clearance at Sierra Trading Post in Reno. But they ARE fabulous.

A few shirts/sweaters I have may go the distance. I have a few of those chunky wool sweaters that were so in style in Boulder in the 90’s. I love those still (shhh, don’t tell) and I expect they will go the distance if only because I don’t wear them currently – I would roast and well my colleagues might mistake me for a hippy. But a weekend in the mountains? Yes sir!

My hutch. Yes. My shelves that AB built me exactly 8 years ago. Yes. NOT the crappy dressers from Furniture Row. (I need to work on the furniture aspect of this mindset in my house.)

My All Clad griddle, my Le Creuset pieces (have I sung enough praises lately about my Dutch Oven and Skillet?), my Kitchen Aid Professional mixer has made it 10 years with no sign of decline.

My beautiful, lovely purse will last – especially if I continue to stop by the retailer I bought it from to swoon at other purses and random sales people continue to clean it and massage it with lotion for me.

Years ago as a shopper I sought quantity. I need to outfit a kitchen, what do I need? I want a new work wardrobe, what should I buy?

Now as a shopper, I seek quality. I don’t always want to pay the prices for quality, I am a danged good sale shopper. is my best friend in online shopping.

I wonder if it seems morbid to ponder if something will last my lifetime? But I plan on living a long, long time.

Age 108 here I come with my Le Creuset and Coach purse!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

January Goals Update

It is almost halfway through January, so I figured it was time to update my goals!

Goal #1 – Organization Needs

I have addressed a few of my organization needs throughout the house.

Recycling Bin – Done – I bought a neat big basket from Target that seems to be doing the job – as long as I continually remind the occupants of the house to RINSE out the containers and BREAK DOWN the cardboard.

Dog Food – Purchased today! Who knew that Amazon was THE place to go? I have had a horrible time lately finding anything I need on Amazon and with Prime shipping. (Leif ski gloves, hello? Hello?) Anyways, I got a nice rolling bin AND a scoop. The rolling bin will be super because I have two dogs who cannot eat together. Unless you want to listen to growling. I mean you each have your own bowl, what is the big deal? Fill one bowl, roll the bin over and fill the other. And for $21.

Stairs – Did these. Found some cute leather containers that sit at the foot of the stairs. Now if I could just get some small people to empty them…

The Wii stuff – I bought an el cheapo storage ottoman. Ottoman for someone who has small feet or butt – whatever you are supposed to put on an ottoman. Anyways, it actually looks halfway decent and fits perfectly save for the Wii lightsabers – which are never used. For some reason Leif doesn’t actually like them, go figure.

Shelves in the kids’ room – Done and I am thinking both kids might need a few more shelves since I really only addressed the stuff that was sitting out in their rooms and not the box of breakable stuff still packed up in Leif’s closet.

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. This is still pending. And it is pending me finding some NEAT and in the colors I have selected for the paint accessories. So, this is pending…

SO this was the stuff I set out to tackle in December. I did a few more things too – we got a Hobby Lobby recently. Yay us! Anyways, I bought a nice, large leather tray for my peninsula in the kitchen. It is the stacking place, the landing place. I have tried tactics to minimize this and I have finally just embraced it. The tray at least makes it look a little nicer. Or better yet, when I need it to look nice quickly, it can be done.

I have additional organizational needs. They just keep popping up.

The tops of my and AB’s dressers in our rooms. And the area next to our nightstands. Our nightstands actually hold a lot. But we still have stuff stacked. I am halfway wondering though if I don’t need to devote an entire month to the needs of our Master bedroom… I am not sure 2 weeks can do it justice and I fear I really need a more functional piece of furniture there. AB tonight told me it didn't just need a piece of furniture, it needs all new furniture and by the way, why have we never had a bed frame?

Leif’s closet. The poor child can’t even walk into it – the largest closet in the house. Now it is his fault for dumping his stuff in the doorway. But we need to fix this. THIS IS on the schedule for one of the last two weekends of the month. It shouldn’t really take purchasing anything, just some organization time.

My closet. Specifically my clothes. I have a thing with buying more. I just bought a boatload on after Christmas uber-clearance. Like seriously a sweater originally priced for $150 that I bought for $24. I hate to even admit that last week, I found a pair of really cute cords. Found them. As in forgot I even bought them last year. I need to ruthlessly purge my closet. Who knows what treasures I will find.

Goal #2 Paint Colors

We are working the paint thing. Working and working it. AB and I have narrowed into a color scheme, now it is just a matter of testing said colors and then deciding where to put them - and where to stop. Very difficult in a foyer that is two stories tall. And if you know AB you will not be surprised to hear that the word "scaffold" has come up with enthusiasm. I know. Scary.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

My husband, the beggar

We were in Costco on Saturday and AB had gone to fetch food for the kids to eat in the cart on the run. We shop, they eat. Works out great.

We are nearly halfway through the store - the VERY packed store, mind you - and I say to the kids, "I wonder where your dad is?"

Leif: "He is probably up at the front of the store begging for money," he replies matter of factly.

Me: "What?" I am positive I didn't hear him right.

Leif: "I bet he is begging for money again."

Me: "What are you talking about?" (Stifling the laughter and confusion.)

Leif: "He begged for money a few weeks ago. He is probably doing this again."

Mind you, we are in a very busy store and it isn't like Leif is whispering this. Nope, he is announcing it to the entire store. And it was no use convincing him he was mistaken, so I dropped it.

Later that evening I told AB about the comments and he (in between laughter and confusion) called Leif in to explain.

Leif: "You remember daddy, it was a few weeks ago, but you said, 'give me some money' and the lady gave you some money and there were chickens squaking too."

AB: "WHAT? What in the THE WORLD are you talking about?"

Leif: "Dad, you were being a beggar. You told the woman to give you money and she did and there were chickens."

AB: "Was this a dream? This had to be a dream."

Leif: (Getting annoyed.) "No dad, you remember! It was not a dream, you begged for money the other day!"

AB: "Wait a second... was this when we went to the store and I bought a candybar and asked for money back?"

AB does this. He doesn't like to drive all the way to the BofA ATM and doesn't want to pay $2 to use a nonbank ATM. So he goes into the grocery store, buys something in the checkstand and gets his cash.

Leif: "You asked the woman for money and she gave it to you! You were begging for money dad."

AB: (Huge sigh.) "No, that isn't really what happened."

No telling what daycare thinks of us.

(Oh and we haven't figured out the squeaky chicken aspect yet.)

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Reflections of book club and of 39 years of life

I love my book club.

We have been together for 5.5 years (I think... or is it 6.5 years?) I think it is 5.5 years because I am pretty sure my son was just shy of one year. It is a great core group of women. One of my best friends suggested starting it to my other best friend and myself way back when. We each invited 2-3 women and wa la. Here we are 5.5 years later.

Last night we noted that it was our original core group of women. We have added to the group, but it is interesting to me that none of the newer additions seem to have as strong of a commitment to the group and I am not sure why. I wonder if those of us there from the start just had a stronger investment? Or if we failed in making other people feel welcome? Or maybe some of both.

Last night I failed to even buy the book. I had excellent intentions actually, but the book I was reading, "The Girl Who Played With Fire" just kept going on and on. And I am not one of those people who can successfully read two books at once. I must finish one before starting another.

The book was The Alchemist and I did read a primer and a few spoilers and reviews on the book before going to book club so that I wasn't completely clueless. But yes, I did a lot of smiling and nodding. As the conversation went on I actually did have a lot of thoughts to add based off of the flow of conversation, though I didn't so much because it isn't my thing to jump in and yap about a book I didn't read. I was there just to enjoy the company.

Thoughts on the book were all over the place, from one woman who absolutely loved the book and would put it in her top two (or did she say five) to others who said, "eh". That's par for the course with our book club. We rarely get across the board agreement on a book, yet we all still love each other.

A few of the thoughts really resonated with me. How do you move throughout your life? How do you make the decisions you make? Why do you make the decisions you make? Are there omens? Are there signs? What if you get to the end of your life and well, it sucked? Are you the only one to blame? Is that because you were ignoring the signs? What is happiness in life?

Huge questions.

The woman who loved the book made me want to read it most when she talked about how in her life, she goes along a bit and then evaluates - "am I happy?" If yes, great. If not, "how do I make it better? How do I fix it?" Then make it happen.

I can completely identify with this.

When I was growing up and through college I let things happen. I rarely made things happen for myself. Things just happened around me. I followed the crowd, I did what others did. If it made them happy, certainly it would make me happy, right? I majored in chemistry because I did well in it, not because I loved lab class (though I fell in love with my lab partner).

I think I got this from my parents. They are/were both great people, but they were young when I was little. Things happened to them, and while they both got better at making things happen for themselves as they got older, my early formative years saw them as being thrown around by circumstances and not in charge of the circumstances.

It wasn't until I graduated from college, worked for a year, applied (unsuccessfully) to grad schools my advisor told me to apply to, that I really realized it was up to me to pick myself up, quit whining about things that have happened to me - because really, I had a great upbringing and life and a future wide open to me - and make things happen for me.

I applied to grad school again and picked myself up and moved a few states away to a mid-range school that seemed to fit. It was the single hardest thing I have ever done, but really my first jumping off point.

Many of my decisions have been gut reactions. What feels right? Then do it.

I have had to remind myself a few times to take the reigns and make things happen for myself. I can only really rely on myself to know and do what is right for me.

I have talked a few times before about making decisions to change course, to make myself happier, to move myself in a different direction. I have recently made another move in life to make things just a smidge better. I finally realized that in my career I have been doing what is expected of me as a scientist. What my mentor a few years ago wanted for me. I kept ignoring and denying a direction that was popping up for me.

In October I decided to listen to that inner voice and make the step to follow a different career path. I went and talked to a few people who have since jumped onto my team and have encouraged me to follow a new path and have even gone so far as to put me into positions to enable me to further this career path.

I look at my path since leaving Colorado for grad school and I have to say, it just keeps getting better. 39 years so far (that realization is starting to hurt my gut), 15 years of following my heart and wow.

Who knew it could be so good?

Thursday, January 06, 2011


I need help with one of my January goals. It’s the paint colors one.

AB and I went bold and had no problems selecting colors in our other house. Unfortunately I am having a serious problem with selecting colors in our new house. The kids’ rooms, no problem. Our entryway? Gah.

I have been playing with the site, but my biggest issue there it seems is that I cannot share with you the colors I have selected. No copy and paste allowed.

Ok, so my foyer area is painted “Egyptian Nile”, it is a deep green. I liked it at the time, but have to admit it isn’t sticking with me. And there is some part of me that wants to scrap that color altogether so that my palatte can start new. Because trying to coordinate all my other adjoining areas with Egyptian Nile is giving me a headache. The Egyptian Nile is the reason I cannot commit to anything. About the only coordinating color I can come up with is shades of grey and frankly, grey isn’t tripping my trigger.

Oh yes, this blog was going to be about selecting colors for my half bath.

I need inspiration! I want something slightly funky, slightly sophisticated, not stuffy, a bit edgy and that will match ANYTHING I decide to do to the foyer/office/dining room.

Make sense?

Small half bath with a beautiful deep mahogany framed mirror (that I love) and white white toilet and pedestal sink, mirror finish stainless fixtures. The lights are good too. Floor is a clayish terra cotta colored 18” tile.

Go forth and bring back ideas!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Making allowances

I deluded myself that this date was coming anytime soon. I bragged on Facebook that *my* son hadn’t asked for allowance yet.

I should really learn that this type of thing never results in anything good and only ensures that my days are numbered.

Last night as he was getting ready for bed Leif said he wanted to earn some money.

“Maybe,” he suggested, “we could make a chart of things I can do and when I do them, I can earn money?”

See sticker charts and the like have never gone over well in our house. When Leif was little we tried sticker charts for behavior. He just didn’t get them. He didn’t want to put a beloved sticker on a piece of paper, nor by any means, in a box! My friends reminded me, “well it doesn’t *have* to go in the box… you could just count stickers”.

Nope, didn’t work. He didn’t want to put the sticker not only in the box, but on a random piece of paper. He would rather hoard it somewhere unknown, for some future use. (I get it, I have this problem too, it is why my Halloween candy used to go uneaten, why I have bars of great smelling soaps in my linen closet… I save things.)

Then Skadi came along and we decided to try the sticker charts again.

It went moderately better with Skadi, but the biggest issue became that I sucked at making sticker charts. I didn’t have time to sit there with a piece of pretty paper and a ruler. Fine, I resorted to Excel. I printed up a few, but then would get busy and forget to print up more. And invariably the titles of tasks changed. And she couldn’t read anyways. I sucked.

We ended up with a piece of paper covered with stickers – every inch, of that piece of paper covered with stickers.

Finally I read a post from a friend on Facebook that talked about using marbles and jars. The kids earn marbles for random things. If I see a good act of kindness from one of them I often announce, “very nice, you may go get a marble for your jar”. If they are fighting and generally being mean I threaten to remove a marble, and then very often, I actually do remove a marble and then live with the crying and screaming and flailing that happens after a marble loss.

And funny thing – this has been ongoing for months now. Leif is saving his marbles for a trip to Chuckee Cheese. (Oh joy.) Skadi hasn’t really honed in on anything. Collecting the marbles is enough for her at this point.

So when Leif suggested we do a chart, I balked a little. I am organized at work and love my charts and lists. At home? My organization sucks. Why would I come home and make charts when I do them at work all the time?

I pulled AB into Leif’s bedroom and we all agreed that we don’t pay for things that he needs to do on a regular basis. Clearing his plate, brushing his teeth, doing our Wednesday night pick up? Those things don’t get marbles and we won’t pay for them either.

Now things like cleaning the cat box? Folding his clothes? Taking out the trash (I think he is getting big enough to flip open the dumpster lid and throw the bag in…)? Sure thing. We will pay for those.

Or that is the plan.

I found a quick template in Excel for a chore chart and modified it for our purposes and printed it up.

Nope, I don’t have high hopes.

But I, for now, have one motivated to earn money little boy.