29 November 2007

My Dirty Little Secret

I am a stay-at-home-mom, which implies that I am also a housewife (and all of the chores that go along with that moniker). I totally enjoy being home with my kids and wouldn't have it any other way. However, I can safely say I hate housework as much, if not more, than the next person.

Dusting? Bah!
Scrubbing the toilet?
Picking up a million
Legos and Polly Pocket clothes? Arrgh!

I have no qualm doing the laundry or loading or emptying the dishwasher and I love to cook. My answer to the housework conundrum is to not do it. Come closer and I'll tell you my secret.

Psst, I hired a cleaning lady.

Do I feel guilty having another person clean my house when I'm the one who should be doing it (it's part of my job after all)? Yes, I do feel a little guilt. But then I figure my main job is to take care of my children. I'm not a fastidious person by nature (as my neat-nik sister can attest), neither is my husband and I inherited my father's clutter gene so I need all the help I can get when it comes to keeping house.

My angel swoops in twice a month and I do the picking up between visits. She does everything: cleans the kitchen (including the floors), dusts, vacuums, makes the beds (even though I tell her she really doesn't have to do that), cleans the bathrooms and generally makes my house look fabulous. Smells good, too, since she spritzes a little lavender-vanilla room spray around.

She'll be here in a couple of hours to work her magic.

And I couldn't be happier.

28 November 2007

A-Z Me

I cribbed this idea from my friend, Mrs. Chicken. You should read her blog.

Anyhoo, the idea is to use each letter of the alphabet to describe a positive aspect of your character. It's kinda fun and more challenging than it sounds.

Here goes me:


Bloody-minded (on occasion)

















Sarcastic, or as my mom calls it, Smart-Assed





Xenophillic (-phillic NOT -phallic)



Let me know what you come up with. Enjoy!


The above is how long it took me to run 3.1 miles today (that's a 5k). Twenty-nine minutes and fifty-nine seconds! That beats my previous personal best, set last Wednesday, by 1 second.

Not that it was easy.


It was very, very hard. And my hamstrings are yelling at me right now.

But I did it.

I'd do a happy dance if I didn't fear repercussions from my legs.

Maybe tomorrow...

27 November 2007

Cultural Hero

Each month my son's first grade class elevates a particular children's author's status from mere writer of books to that approaching cultural hero. This month's author is Marc Brown, the guy who created Arthur.

Evan's on an Arthur kick as of late - loves the show on PBS and likes reading the books.

As he put it on the way home from school yesterday, "Marc Brown is the MAS-TUH!"

26 November 2007

I Need Your Help!

Over the holiday weekend I asked my sister-in-law for some gift ideas for my nieces, ages 8 and 1/2 and 10. She mentioned that the girls could use a new CD or two to listen to before they go to sleep. I love making mix discs, but I'm at kind of a loss since I don't really know what songs to put on the discs for these 2 beautiful, lovely girls. They are pretty typical tweens - totally into Hannah Montana and High School Musical.

So, I'm asking for suggestions. What songs should I put on these discs?

'Tis The Season (Already)

This is the Christkindle Market, downtown Chicago. Lots of good German food to be had here (and at my Mother-in-Law's house).
By the time I took this picture, Evan had had enough of the Christkindle Market and was ready to either go back to Oma's or the Lego store on Michigan Ave.
Flynn admiring the windows outside the former Marshall Field's, now Macy's. The windows are decorated telling the story of "The Nutcracker" and celebrating the 100th anniversary of the store's HUGE Christmas tree. If you haven't seen it, you should. What's more impressive is the giant stuffed animal dragon on the 5th floor.

21 November 2007

The Education of Miss Flynn

I was unloading the dishwasher when I overheard the following conversation:

Evan: I'm a penguin and you're a leopard seal, Flynn.

Flynn: OK, Evan.

Evan: You are my enemy and you chase me and kill me, then you eat my flesh.

Flynn: Ewww, gross. I don't want to be your enemy. I want to be the mommy penguin!

Evan: It's not gross, Flynn, it's the way life is.

Giving Thanks

I'll be away from my computer for a few days taking a break with family. And since it is Thanksgiving here's what I am very thankful for:

1. My family and that we're all pretty much within driving distance.
2. My friends
3. That I am able to stay home with my children.
4. Books
5. The internet
6. Starbuck's light iced coffee
7. My Bodum electric kettle
8. tea
9. chocolate
10. More books

Have a Happy Thanksgiving! Frank and I will be hitting the sales Black Friday (not that we like to shop that day but we take advantage of Oma's Babysitting Service and get to spend the day together sans children).

20 November 2007

Boneheads in Action or The Great Oz at Work

I fully intended to write about something entirely different and had, in fact, started to draft a post which I had to leave unfinished to take my daughter to school.


I'm on the elliptical machine at the gym grooving to some fine tunes and watching the TV which is tuned to CNN for "breaking news." The news is a press conference being held at the White House in which President ceremonially pardons two turkeys. Apparently, this is a Thanksgiving tradition harking back to the 1950's. I don't really have a problem with this. It's cute, warm fuzzy "news." Awwww, look, these turkeys don't have to die. I believe the President's quote was, "You can't take the heat and you'll stay out of the kitchen." Nice.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. I can hear Dubya now: "We'll have a nice little happy press conference to deflect the public's short attention span away from what's going on in the rest of the world. I mean, it's almost Thanksgiving! We need fluff." Can you hear me rolling my eyes?

What I do have a great big huge problem with is that May and Flower, the turkeys, will now be whisked away and flown FIRST CLASS to Florida where they will be the grand marshals of the Thanksgiving parade at Walt Disney World.

I think my first reaction to this bit of information was to quote my 2-year-old niece Emmy, "That's bullshit."

There are so many things wrong with this I don't know where to start. I mean about the turkeys, I've gotten used to the fact that my darling little niece swears.

And I have a couple of questions for the Bonehead in Command:

1) Why not spend the money it would take to fly two birds first class (that just blows my mind) to Florida on food for people who need it? I'm sure that in the metro D.C. area alone there are plenty of people who are hungry and the price of an airline ticket would fill their empty stomachs.
2) Why waste jet fuel on effing turkeys? Well, I guess we taxpayers do that whenever Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney get on a plane.
3) Why contribute to global warming by putting these birds on an airplane? Why not just let them go home to Indiana?
4) Do you think the turkeys really give a damn that they're going to Disney World?

Oh, I'm so happy Mr. Bush is on his way out. There was an opportunity to actually do something worthwhile and he blew it (again).

I'm going to go have a cup of tea and calm down. Happy Thanksgiving, America, from the Great Oz. Sheesh.

19 November 2007

What's on your iPod?

I don't have an iPod - just a cute little MP3 player my mom gave me for Christmas last year and I use it just about every day while I'm running or otherwise working out. If I could wear it all day, I probably would.

There are over 250 songs crammed on to 1 gigabyte.

A sampling of artists:
The Beatles (lots)
Rolling Stones (not as much, but still some good stuff and I now know the lyrics to "Sympathy for the Devil" other than the "woo, woo" bits)
The Who
Guadalcanal Diary (yes, Scott, "Always Saturday")
The Jam
The Smiths
The Killers
Franz Ferdinand
The Futureheads
Junior Senior
The Kaiser Chiefs
The Caesers
Snow Patrol
The Dandy Warhols
Oingo Boingo
and a bunch of other bands/musical artists

What are you listening to these days?

18 November 2007

Pretty Pretties

A couple weeks ago I went to the Kris Kringle arts & crafts fair (or as Flynn called it, "the crap fair") with my sister and aunt (Flynnie, too) with the intention of not buying anything. I'm really not one for country crafts as my tastes tend toward the less cutesy.

I knew I "needed" a nice piece of jewelry to go with the fairly understated dress I wore last night to the C-U Junior League's Festival of Trees Gala. I looked and looked, scrutinizing necklaces, bracelets and earrings peppering Katy and Aunt Cindy with, "What do you think?" or "What about this?".

There were some gorgeous handmade pieces but I was especially taken with the beautiful set pictured above.

The necklace and earrings were made by Pimonpan Nelson, a jewelry maker originally from Thailand who now lives in Crown Point, IN. Each one of her pieces is handmade with amazing attention to detail. My necklace is made with glass Japanese beads that catch the light just so - it's a little sparkle, not too much - with added faceted cat's eye stones at the "knot" of the bow and at the ends. I love the whimsical design which can be dressed up or down and the adjustable chain length. The price wasn't too bad either with the necklace and brown Swarovski crystal earrings costing me grand total of $26.

Check out Pimonpan's website: www.moncreations.com where she exhibits a lot of her stock. You may order from her site and she offers customer design services.

17 November 2007

Did you think I was kidding about the 75 stuffed animals in Flynn's bed?

I swear somewhere in there is a 4-year-old little girl.

16 November 2007

My kids could probably kick your ass. Not they'd want to; they're actually very kind and loving.

Two years ago a new taekwon do studio opened near our home. One summer day as we drove by it, my then 4-year-old son Evan said, "I want a karate uniform, please!"

After Frank and I talked it over, I scheduled a meeting with the school's owner and then signed Evan up for karate lessons.

Last night Evan earned his blue belt and is now half way to becoming a black belt. Just before he fell asleep he said, "I'm earning my black belt and then I'm quitting."

Absurd as it is to say it, my 6-year-old has had weapons training. He knows how to use nunchukus and a single stick (it looks like a policeman's baton, but foam-padded). He knows how to punch and kick and disarm an attacker, but more importantly, he knows when not to use those skills.

After watching her big brother's twice-weekly classes, Flynn declared last December that she wanted to be a "karate girl." She would walk around the house copying the moves Evan was learning. Occasionally, I'd hear her cute little girl voice yelling from somewhere in the house, "Front kick! Side kick! Power punch!"

We made her wait until her 4th birthday to join the Tiny Tigers class (for kids ages 4-6) and she is now half-way to earning her yellow belt. Not too shabby for a girl who wants to be a princess when she grows up.

I'm so proud of my karate kids.

15 November 2007

"Put on your pants/'Cause you just might want to dance"

Every once in a while I get a CD that I can't get enough of. An album (does anybody make albums anymore?) gets its hooks in me and I play it over and over and over. Gwen, remember the semester of C+C Music Factory?

Over the years my musical obsessions have ranged from Adam Ant, to the soundtrack to the movie Amadeus, to Vivaldi's
Four Seasons, to U2, to the Smiths, to the B-52's, to said music factory to Beck's Odelay which, no kidding, was in the stereo for something like 5 years. I'll also add ABBA, the Carpenters, the Osmond Family (specifically Donny and Marie), and much later Death Cab for Cutie. The Beatles are a constant, just part of my life, and therefore I've never obsessed about their music. My affairs with certain artists or bands can be short-lived (like C+C Music Factory) or extend into decades (like Beck and Mozart).

My latest earworm comes courtesy of Denmark - a group called Junior Senior. Their second disk, Hey Hey My My Yo Yo, is tons of fun - complete and total candy; sweet and has no nutritional value at all. I call it "roller skating music" because the songs really take me back to the late-70's/early-80's when I lived in my skates (duh). When you hear these songs, colored lights flash will flash in your mind and you will want to get up and shake your boo-tay.

The lyrics are completely shallow (the title for this post is one of their lyrics). Junior and Senior are no Lennon and McCartney and certainly no George Harrison but they don't want to be. To paraphrase Cyndi Lauper, they just want to have fun. Their infectious old school white-boy rap disco and dance beats make your feet itch to dance. And if it couldn't get any better, Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson of the B-52's guest on one of the tracks. Yipee!

Check out Junior Senior's my space page: http://www.myspace.com/juniorsenior. They showcase a couple of their videos - one which actually has people roller skating in it!


14 November 2007

Back to Normal

I come from a family a relatively small people. I think the tallest person in my entire family is my great-uncle Ray and he's not exactly a towering specimen (he's also 85 so I'll cut him a little slack). That being said, we also tend to get a little round except for my paternal grandmother who seemed to exist solely on coffee and cigarettes until she was diagnosed with emphysema.

I had always been what's called "petite" - I'm 5'1" (yes, that 1 inch is important) and when I graduated high school twenty years ago I weighed 113 pounds. Instead of gaining the "freshman 15" in college, I dropped 10 pounds the first semester. I didn't actually set out to loose weight, but a combination of disordered eating (like making a small pizza from Domino's last a week, fear of eating in front of people due to a hyper-critical, abusive step-father), not eating in the dining hall because of acute shyness and the fact that the food was pretty gross, and lots of exercise (walking everywhere including up and down 7 flights of stairs to and from my dorm room several times a day, a dance class, and participating in an extra-curricular modern dance troupe) took its toll. I honestly didn't see the weight loss until Thanksgiving break when my then-boyfriend put his hands around my waist like a hula hoop. After that my weight went back up to what would be "normal" for me and stayed that way for about 5 years.

After college I was out on my own, enjoying my single life when I met the man who would later become my husband. I didn't have to eat by myself anymore and, more importantly, I didn't have to fear Frank would ridicule my eating; he accepted me and loved me as I was. I could relax with him and enjoy food. And enjoy I did. I started to gain weight (we both did) and became rather sedentary. We were fat and happy.

Fast forward 13 years, 2 kids and 30+ pounds later.

At a routine physical last summer, my family doctor palpitated my thyroid and felt what he thought was a nodule. After a sonogram and an appointment with an endocrinologist to rule out cancer, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease, a fairly common autoimmune disorder (the immune system goes haywire and attacks the thyroid). My choices were to a) start taking thyroid hormones now to stave off the inevitable (my thyroid going kaput) or b) wait until my thyroid goes kaput and then go on the hormones. My choice was easy; I decided to be proactive. So, now I'm on medication that I'll take for the rest of my life.

This put things in perspective for me - get it in gear or you'll never, ever loose the weight.

Jan. '07 saw me at the gym for the first time ever as I began implementing what I came to call my "getting back to normal" plan. I started walking on a treadmill for a minute then I would run for a minute. I did this for 30 minutes. I kept this up - gradually decreasing my walking time while increasing my running time until as of today I can run a 5k in just under 31 minutes. On the days I don't run, I try to get in some strength training (although I loathe lifting weights). I also adjusted my eating habits (eating meals off a salad plate, choosing nutrient dense food, upping my water intake, still making room for chocolate). Those extra pounds are now gone, I lost my "ass shelf" and, more importantly, I feel great.

Now if I can just stay there. Especially with Thanksgiving next week (mmm... turkey, my sister-in-law's pumpkin torte and her sweet potato & leek casserole, my mother-in-law's everything).

Well, at least my mother-in-law has a treadmill and I intend to use it.

13 November 2007

Windy City

*sigh* I love Chicago.

12 November 2007

Big Butt Teeth

While shopping at the grocery store this afternoon, my son saw a classmate of his and her mom. We exchanged pleasantries and went our separate ways.

Upon exiting the store, I remarked to Evan that it was a nice surprise seeing his friend. He said, "Yeah. Her mom has big butt teeth."

"What?", I replied.

"You know, big butt teeth. The kind that stick out in front."

"Oh, I think you mean 'big BUCK teeth.'" I said, biting my lip trying not to laugh while I tried to explain that the 'big butt teeth' comment wasn't exactly polite.

God, how I love that little boy.

Small Miracle

Occasionally, we play a game at our house called "musical beds". This involves one or both children crawling in bed with me and my husband, which we don't mind. Our children are so incredibly fidgety when they sleep that, despite the fact we sleep in a king size bed, I usually move to a bed recently vacated by said child(ren) to get a decent night's sleep.

Anyway, the other night my daughter comes padding in at around 3 a.m. She crawls in between me and her brother, daddy on the other side of the bed snoring away. She spends about 30 minutes trying to get comfortable then whispers, "Mama? Can you take me back to my bed, please?" Internally, I scream, "Yes! Yes! Go back to your own bed!" "Sure," I reply, grabbing my glasses and pillow because I'm unsure how long it will take her to fall back to sleep. We walk down the hallway to her room, get her settled under and among the 4 blankets and 75 stuffed animals on her bed and then I settle in at the other end. We both drift off.

That's not the miracle of which I write.

Approximately 4 hours later, my son enters the room and crawls under the blankets trying not to wake me, but I'm a light sleeper. He picks up a book and begins reading, whispering quietly to himself. He reads each word perfectly.

That's the miracle.

You see, last week during a parent/teacher conference, my husband and I were told that our boy was not reading up to first grade level.

But he reads just fine cuddled up under a hot pink down comforter on an early Sunday morning.


11 November 2007

Help! My daughter's joined a cult!

"Mommy! Mommy! Did you see her? She's soooooo pretty! I love her!" Thus began my 4-year-old's induction into the cult of Hannah Montana. For those of you who don't know, Hannah Montana is a character on the self-titled Disney Channel show. She's a singer who lives a double life - by day she's regular 14-year-old Mylie, by night she's teen pop sensation Hannah Montana. Mylie is played by Mylie Cyrus, daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus (he plays her dad on the show, too). The show is typical Disney Channel tweeny drivel, but does have its charm. Yes, Mylie's cute and has a great voice and she's not out boozing it up with Britney, as far as I know. But, my gosh, my little girl's 4 YEARS OLD, for crying out loud. I thought I had a few more years before she'd be obsessed with some pop star or other. Can anyone commiserate?

It's official: I'm a joiner

Alrighty! Welcome to Misc & co. - postings about me, my fam and stuff. After being inspired by a couple of friends with blogs of their own, I've decided to join the throng. Whether this will pan out or not, time will only tell. Thanks for showing up.