31 March 2008

This Does Not Bode Well For The Future

"What shoes are you going to wear today, Flynn?" I ask my four-and-a-half-year-old.

"Hmmm, I think I will wear these," she says pointing to her black knee-high imitation Uggs, "because they are popular and I like wearing popular shoes now."

I don't even know what that means but it scares me and it sounds expensive.

30 March 2008

Wanna Know What's Sort Of Demoralizing?

Shopping for bras in the little girl's department.

I knew the ta-tas had gotten smaller (and let's face it after nursing 2 children for a total of 5 years they ain't exactly perky either), but come on. Seriously, what the f**k?

I wouldn't be surprised if my 10-year-old niece and I now wear the same size.

Gawd.


A New Life For An Old Shirt

Anyone remember this?

I've been meaning to do this quick project for months and have been waiting for my husband to go through his t-shirts for ones I could use. Figuring he'd get to that about, oh, a quarter to never I bit the bullet and traipsed over to the Goodwill store while Flynn was at a birthday party yesterday afternoon. My son accompanied me. A couple of bucks later we walked out with a fair assortment of heavy weight t-shirts ready to be made into handy shopping bags (Evan's favorite, that he claimed for his own, has a bat on it). We chose XL-sized t-shirts, but any size will do.

After a good washing and a trip through the dryer, the shirts were ready to go. First I turned the shirts inside out and pinned the bottom seams together.

I then sewed the seams together. I used a zig-zag stitch, sewing the seams twice for added strength.
To trim off the neck band I used an upturned 9" pasta bowl and my rotary cutter. If you do not have a rotary cutter, use a fabric pen to trace around the bowl and then use regular scissors to cut the neck band off.Evan was begging to help, so I let him cut off the sleeves to make the shopping bag's handles. We did not cut the seam joining the sleeve to the rest of the shirt, cutting just to the edge.

Turn the whole thing right side out and in about 10 minutes you have a new bag to hold plenty of shopping.

And I no longer have any excuses not to have my own shopping bags with me since I've already packed my new stash in the car.

29 March 2008

For A Happy Day Just Press Play



Yes, I know this is in Japanese. But I love this song, Ayano Tsuji's "Harukaze" from her album Calendar Calendar. How anyone could be in a bad mood after hearing this song is beyond my comprehension. Plus, the bunny puppets in this video are super cute.

Enjoy!

28 March 2008

The Cat, Language Lessons and Children's TV

Our 11 1/2-year-old cat, Bootsie, was very happily curled up on the couch in the middle of her 20-hour nap when Flynn came up to her and said, rather loudly into the cat's ear, "Ni Hao, Bootsie! That means 'hello' in Chinese."

Boots looked at Flynn like she was thinking, "It's a good thing I don't have claws, kid." And then promptly resumed her nap.

********

Flynn resumed watching one of her very favorite TV shows: Nick Jr.'s Ni Hao, Kai-lan. Kai-lan is a 5-year-old little girl and much like Dora the Explorer, only much, much quieter. Kai-lan has animal friends, like Dora and teaches vocabulary, like Dora (only Kai-lan teaches Mandarin Chinese instead of Spanish). And she does appear to have adult supervision (her grandfather) while Dora's pretty much off in the rain forest or wherever exploring by herself, though she is accompanied by a monkey. My guess is Dora's parents sent her outside because she shouts so bloody much.

On a side note, I'm very happy Flynn is outgrowing her Dora obsession, which has been there since infancy (when she would cry the only thing that would make her stop was the Dora theme song).

Flynn's other favorite on Nick Jr. is Yo Gabba Gabba!. She adores the funky-looking characters, one sung a song that actually got her to eat ("There's a party in my tummy/so yummy/so yummy"). DJ Lance Rock introduces each episode by removing friendly toy monsters from his giant boom-box and placing them in a magical land full of music, dance, colorful cartoons (including the great "Super Martian Robot Girl" by Sarah Dyer and Evan Dorkin), and simple life lessons that get Flynn dancing along every time. Yo Gabba Gabba! is hip and fun and cool and weird.

But DJ Lance could use a sandwich, he's waaaaay too skinny.



A show both my kids love (and I like it too) is Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! Each half-hour episode promotes positive values like honesty, tolerance, fairness, and cooperation. It's from the producers of Nick's wildly popular show, The Fairly OddParents (we enjoy that one as well). What makes this show different from other preschool shows? First and foremost it makes them laugh. The show uses humor to drive the stories. The writers and animators use classic cartoon physical comedy as a way to keep my kids laughing so that they just naturally soak up the underlying message. For those of you not in the know, Wubbzy is the cute little yellow guy with the long tail. He is joined by his two friends, Walden the bookish scientist and Widget the mechanical genius (she can build/fix just about anything).

What I dig about this show is its art direction (I like the direction on all three shows). Wubbzy!'s style is very modern, but not cold, and whimsical. It's very child-friendly but not child-centric, adults will enjoy this show too and the music reminds me a little of Devo, in actuality musician/composer Brad Mossman. The songs are high-energy catchy pop tunes. I'm hoping they put out a CD of the music from Wubbzy.

So whether the cat learns Chinese or not remains to be seen, but Nick Jr. sure gets the thumbs up at our house.

27 March 2008

He's Got It!

My poor hubby came home last night sick with this gastroenteritis making the rounds. Or at least I'm assuming he was sick when he got home, I don't know for sure since I was asleep. I could've gone to sleep at 8 and almost conked out while getting the kids to bed. I was out like a light by 9 (that may or may not be due to the fact that I'm currently reading Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Illyich). Hope I'm not coming down with anything. I feel fine, though.

Let me just say that my husband has been working 12-14 hour days for quite a while now so the average time for his arrival at home is 8:30 or 9 p.m., at the earliest. He's an art director for a local video game developer and his game is the next one up for publication so he's under an amazing amount of pressure, thus lowering his immune system. It's not unheard of for people in the gaming industry, specifically artists and programmers, to work these long hours. Even more time will be put in during "crunch time", the weeks preceding the game's final deadline. Yeah, it sucks, but what're you gonna do?

Frank was up for a bit this morning - long enough to keep Flynn company while I ran Evan to school and to email work to let them know he was out for the day. He's been asleep since.

Neither of the kids is sick (yet) and I'm keeping my fingers crossed it stays that way.

26 March 2008

Survivor Update

Well, apparently Flynn was one of two kids to survive The Great Purge of '08.

Her teacher, however, has not been so lucky.


I just got a call from another parent, the school's personnel chair, telling me school is canceled for Flynn's class tomorrow because Flynn's teacher is home vomiting (in my mind I'm hearing strains of Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust"). We do have a sub list, which I am on, but we made an executive decision to not hold class since 99% of the kids are sick.

I guess it's time to fumigate the building. Or at least the 4/5's classroom.

AND

Today was my day to carpool home from Evan's school. Usually, the boys (my son and his friend that I bring home) play for about 15-20 minutes while N's mom and I chat. Not today. N went inside, told his mom he was hot, and didn't come back out.

Later, I received an email from N's mom letting me know he has a fever of almost 103.

We're getting hammered on both fronts now.

I'm just praying my kids continue to dodge this illness, especially since my MIL & SIL (and her 2 daughters) are supposed stop by for a visit on their way home to Chicago from Missouri. We haven't seen my nieces or SIL since Christmas and it's been over a month since we've seen my MIL (my kids are jonesing for their Oma).

Sole Survivor

Since we belong to a cooperative, today was my day to volunteer in my daughter's preschool classroom. We arrived at 8:50, our requisite time since I was to be supervising the art project (and it was our turn to bring snack). Flynn's teacher told me the class was going to be small as at least 7 children were out sick - vomiting and running a fever.

By 9:00 the class number had dwindled to a possible 5 and we decided to take a field trip across the hall to combine our class with the 3 year-old class (they were down 2 or 3 kids with the same symptoms). We were still the only people there representing the 4/5 year-old class.

The phone rang at 9:05 and we were down to 3.

By 9:30 Flynn was the lone representative of her class - the only one not sick out of 15 kids. And I'm beginning to think my child has a constitution made of steel.

At this point, Flynn decided she didn't want to stay in the 3's class even though she's friendly with a few of the children in that class and she said she wanted to go home.

So here we are.

With snack for 15 kids and 3 adults.

If you want a banana, some chocolate chip mini muffins, and some Cheerio snack mix I have plenty.

As long as you're not running a fever or throwing up.

25 March 2008

Clean Slate

Over the weekend I decided to add some more music to my mp3 player. I'd only gotten 4 or 5 songs on it when I was notified that the disk was full. I figured I'd delete some old stuff to make room for the new, but after trying just about everything I could not access the music I'd added using my old laptop (that died about a year ago). I was so frustrated that I considered just buying a new player and even went so far as to price them online.

I ended up reformatting my mp3 player - effectively wiping out all previous uploads and starting afresh. A little Spring cleaning, if you will.

These are some of the artists that now reside on my mp3 player:

Ayano Tsuji, a Japanese singer/musician whose stuff is very different from mainstream J-pop music. I don't know what the titles are for her songs, since they are in Japanese. All I know is that she makes awesome music. I first came across her music in the animated film, The Cat Returns, and then heard NPR's interview with her on "Weekend Edition". She's a little folkie and plays the ukulele.

The Beastie Boys and Alice Cooper.

Adam and The Ants, a throw-back to my teen years when my friend Deanna and I were into Adam Ant big-time. And Oingo Boingo.

Amy Winehouse

The B-52's were on my mp3 player before (I'm a big fan and can't wait to hear the new album) but this time around I added stuff from their Mesopotamia/Party Mix disc. Fun and energetic music - perfect for the gym.

A couple of Daft Punk and Bloc Party songs.

Another couple of my favorite groups from the 80's: Duran Duran and Depeche Mode.

Feist. Gosh, I just love her.

The "Feel Good Inc." remix from Gorillaz's D-Sides disc.

I stumbled upon Jonathan Coulton while browsing Yahoo! News. His "nerd rock" is smart, well-crafted and hilarious. "Code Monkey" is my favorite song of his.

Loads of Junior Senior.

Several songs from the best thing to come out of Norway, Sondre Lerche. If you've never heard his music, you're missing out on a very good thing. WILL used to have a sort of video juke box show on late Sunday nights. One night I happened to be awake and channel surfing when I came across this show, which played lots and lots of good videos by such artists as The Shins and Badly Drawn Boy. After a BDB video they showed Sondre Lerche's "Two Way Monologue," prompting me to purchase the disc of the same title the next day. I am now a confirmed Sondre Lerche fan.

I'm surprised I didn't have any Talking Heads on my player before, but they are on there now.

Those of you with small children will probably remember Steve Burns from Blues Clues. Did you know he put out an album, titled "Music for Dust Mites", not long after he left the show? I have it and it's pretty good, certainly distancing him from his kid-friendly TV persona. I included the first track, "Mighty Little Man," which never fails to energize me with the lyric, "Nobody else is stronger than I am/'Cause today I moved a mountain/I would like to be your hero/I am a mighty little man."

Venus Hum opened for Blue Man Group a couple of years ago on the "How To Be A Rock Star" tour. The group is comprised of 3 people: 2 guys on computers and 1 girl singer, who's quite petite but has a big voice (think Judy Garland big or Jane Horrocks if you've ever seen the movie Little Voice). I love their album, Montana and most of the songs on my player are taken from that disc. Cool, fun electronica.

Speaking of Blue Man Group, the couple of times I've seen their touring show they've encored with "Baba O'Riley" by The Who, a song that can power me through the most difficult of work outs. My adrenalin starts pumping the second I hear that opening fluttering synthesizer and I love those opening chords - they just hammer through me. So, of course, The Who's version is on my player. I put "Pinball Wizard" and "Happy Jack" on there too for good measure.

U2 is a band I've been hooked on since I saw them for the first time when Nickelodeon televised their concert at Red Rocks in 1983 and they are sufficiently represented on my mp3 player with songs spanning the entirety of their career.

Supergrass
Presidents of the United States of America
We Are Scientists
Ice-T
New York Dolls
Wings
The Ramones
Peter Bjorn and John

And I still have room for more.

Any suggestions?

21 March 2008

It's A Funny Friday

While window shopping at Macy's today I overheard a woman say, "Honey, we are shopping not just wandering around." I saw her look down, so I assumed she was talking to a child. When her little girl walked into my line of sight I saw she was about 13 months old. Man, that is one woman with a purpose.

I had to bite my lips to keep from laughing out loud.

*******

This is a true conversation I had with my boy-o not 10 minutes ago:

"Mom? Do we have any Holy Water?" asked my son, the Jesus wannabe.

"Uh, no. We're fresh out," I replied.

"Don't we have any packets we can use to make some?"

"Evan, Holy Water is not like Kool-Ade. You can't just whip up a batch."

"Huh," pause "because I could really go for a glass of Holy Water."

*******

Flynn, after having asked politely for a piece of candy, "Mommy? Did you like how I asked nicely? I was using my good manners on you."

20 March 2008

Addendum

About 30 seconds after I finished my previous post, I headed downstairs to get snacks ready to take to the kinder when I retrieved them from karate camp.

As I was walking down the stairs, my foot slipped out from under me causing me to catch my arm in the banister and also bounce down the rest of the flight on my bum (roughly 10 stairs), my mouth issuing forth profanities like there was no tomorrow. I'm certain the f-bomb was dropped more than once and I think I recall the m-f word slipping out as well... I'm glad the kids were not home to hear their mom do her impression of a foul-mouthed sailor.

I've now a wicked looking bruise on my left tricep and a touch of whiplash.

Surprisingly, my butt does not hurt.

And now that I'm replaying the incident in my mind, it's pretty hilarious.

Oh, Happy Day!

It feels as if Spring has finally arrived! Happy Vernal Equinox day!

And Happy Birthday to the man who, as a child, I considered my surrogate grandfather: Mr. Fred Rogers. I have vivid recollections of wishing he was my grandpa (when I was a kid my closest relatives were over 400 miles away and both my grandfathers were alcoholics). The world is a better place to have had him in it.

On another note, I had a grown up lunch today! I met my husband for lunch at Sushi Kame on Church St. This place has become our favorite restaurant, supplanting Kamakura. I had the salmon teriyaki bento box, which was awesome as always.

No sewing today. Maybe tomorrow...

19 March 2008

Baby Quilt No. 2 Done!


This quilt is for a friend due next month with baby number 4, a girl. She has 3 boys, her oldest being one of my son's best friends. So, Tami, if you're reading this - surprise!

The quilt is 36"x36", backed with super-soft white fleece and quilted with alternating light and hot pink embroidery thread. The binding is a baby pink satin. I thought about binding the quilt with a hot pink satin (that I love), but went for the softer pink. Since this is Tami's first girl child I wanted to make the blanket very girly and sweet. I think it's a success.


I have to say, I love these two fabrics together. They just remind me of an English garden party circa 1900. Very feminine and soft with the cascading roses in light pink, dark pink and pale yellow. I like the way the green gingham picks up the green in the rose pattern, too.

Now on to baby quilt No. 3 - made with the "Nerds Rock!" fabric.

18 March 2008

One Down, Two To Go

I spent a couple hours this morning working on a baby quilt for friends who recently adopted, one of the projects on my "to do" list for Spring Break.

This is the result.

The quilt is 36"x36" and backed in the softest green fleece. The prints are called "The Magical Dragon" and feature a cascade of colorful dragons on black and orange backgrounds. The third fabric features the dragons climbing in and out of castle windows. It's very cute and whimsical.

I generally quilt using embroidery thread and hand-knot at the corners of each quilt block. For this quilt I used a bright yellow-green that picks up the colors of the dragons.

The binding is satin baby blanket binding that matches little blue orbs in the fabric. (I can make my own binding but prefer to use satin on baby quilts).


I hope the new little guy likes it.

17 March 2008

Coolest Fabric EVER!

I found this back on the 50% off table at my local Hancock Fabrics store. I bought 3 yards of it.

Really, I should not be allowed to shop in there by myself because I have zero self-control when it comes to fabric.

At least today I only spent $32, which is a pittance compared to what I could've spent.

Future Days

Today is the first day of Spring Break and both of my kinder trundled off to karate camp this morning not to return until late this afternoon. Both were out the door by 7:45 and I was alone in my house.

It was weird.

And as I was picking up the family room it occurred to me that in a few months this is what my days will be like - not empty, per se, but certainly not filled in the way to which I've become accustomed. No more mornings spent volunteering at preschool. No more racing around trying to cram in one more errand before picking up my daughter at noon. No more preschool board meetings. Flynn will be entering kindergarten in August and I will not have a child in the house during the day, a first in almost 8 years. Sure, I'll occasionally babysit a niece but my children will be off in school.

What the hell am I going to do to fill these days? Not just the days this week. I have a boatload of projects to do (a few quilts to make, toys and clothes to sort through for an upcoming yard sale, get the Easter crap together, laundry, etc.) after my daily workout. But the days to come? I've come to that fork in the road that I was putting off thinking about until later.

Well, it's "later" now.

One solution to this conundrum is to substitute teach. I subbed for both Champaign and Urbana school districts the semester after I finished my student teaching and never had a hard day (and I was at the high schools). I figure I could sub a few days a week at my kids' school so we could be on the same schedule and my guess is they could use a new sub for the higher grades (6-8). So for now that's my plan.

As for the present, though, I have to get a move on if I'm going to make any headway on my "to do" list.

15 March 2008

Is It Just Me Or Is There Something Missing?

Today was a lazy, lazy day. Evan went to a model train show with his grandpa (they were gone from 9 a.m. until 3:30 this afternoon), Frank was at work, and Flynn's always happy to play by herself so I was afforded a day of television viewing (spent mostly watching BBC America and Bravo). This is a rare occurrence.

Come lunchtime I wasn't energized enough to actually make a meal so I reached into the freezer for something quick. I came up with a Lean Cuisine pizza which, on the box looked great - spinach and mushroom. (Flynn had her favorite: an open face PB & J with apple slices [peel removed] and Cheetos.)

What emerged from the box was VERY different from the picture, as you can see...

There's, what, 3 measly blobs of spinach and not a mushroom to be found. You can imagine my disappointment. But I guess that's what you get with convenience food.

Funny that there's no way to contact the Lean Cuisine people (no phone number or web site on the box). I think I may need to do a little searching...

14 March 2008

For All You Parents Looking For Inexpensive Children's Clothing...

I just got this email ad - looked pretty good to me. The OshKosh store in Tuscola is one of their "select locations" for this sale. Could be worth the drive.

My First Best Friend

This is a picture taken, oh, about 36 years ago. It is me with my dog, Cindy. As you can tell, Cindy was a Black Labrador Retriever. What you can't tell from the picture is that she was the best dog in the world.

My parents bought 8-week-old Cindy in 1967 while my dad was attending vet school at the University of Minnesota. I believe my dad had purchased her with the hopes of training her to be his bird dog when he went hunting. During her training she was accidentally shot. The wound was superficial but it was enough to make her gun-shy and, therefore, useless as a hunting dog. She became our house dog and my family was all the better for it.

By the time I came along in '69, my parents owned 2 dogs - Cindy and a basset hound named Monty, we moved to Urbana (my dad had taken a post as assistant professor and veterinary practitioner with the small animal clinic at UIUC) and a few months later to Tolono. My mom says both dogs were very protective of me. They both slept under my crib and wouldn't let anybody, other than my parents, near me as I slept. Once I was mobile, though, Monty took a disliking to me and bit me. It pained my dad, but he decided that Monty had to go.

Cindy, however, treated me like one of her pups. I would nap on her, play on her, follow her around. My parents told me time and again that I learned the hand signals Cindy was trained with (my dad still trained her because he said it was good exercise and she loved running after the dummy decoy he used) and used those to communicate with her. There is one story that fully illustrates this and a even photo documenting the occasion. I was maybe 18 months old and had brought Cindy into the kitchen and over to the counter. I signaled her to lie down and then to stay. Then I stood on her back and retrieved the sugar bowl on the counter fully intending to devour the contents. The picture shows me swaddled in a diaper standing on the dog's back, sugar bowl in hand.

As a preschooler I was obsessed with Lassie. Every morning I would watch reruns of the old black and white show wishing I was Timmy. Afterwards I would play "Lassie" with Cindy, which was me hiding in the recesses of my parents' closet yelling, "Help! Lassie! Come find me!" Cindy always found me. Always.

When my parents split up I was 8 and Cindy was my greatest comfort during that period of emotional upheaval. She was a constant - always there with a lick on the cheek or hand, always listening.

Cindy lived to be 15, pretty old for a Lab. She was arthritic and then her kidneys gave out. My dad was the one who was with her when she died. He was the vet who administered the "blue juice," what he called the serum that ended her life. I know that was incredibly difficult for him to do but it needed to be done to stop her pain; there was no alternative.

How I miss that dog, my first true friend, even 30 years later.

13 March 2008

What The Cat Thinks As Translated By Flynn

While I was sitting at the kitchen table having my morning cup of tea, our cat Bootsie decided to join me. She hopped up on my lap for either some pets or her feet were cold and needed warming. She was purring her enormously loud purr so I'm inclined to think she just wanted some affection but you never can tell with cats.

When Flynn saw this she immediately stopped dressing her Barbies and came over to love on the cat. She can't not touch the cat, something Bootsie tolerates well (until she's had enough "loving" and either gives Flynn a little growl or pops her one on the hand).

"Mommy," she said, "Bootsie thinks you are comfortable. She thinks you are a bean bag. That's what she said."

Great. All that work at the gym and my cat still thinks I'm a bean bag.

12 March 2008

I've Been Tagged!

Hey, this is my first tag and it's kind of exciting, though I'm not too sure if I can come up with 5 interesting facts about me! Thanks, Carrie!

OK, here goes...

1. I'm ambidextrous but favor my left hand. My dad was the same way, but wrote with his right hand. My son is a lefty, like me, but only decided this last year as he could use both hands equally. I can write with both hands and switch hit.

2. Today, while at Bergner's, I tried on a pair of shorts in the junior's department THAT WERE THE SAME SIZE I WORE IN HIGH SCHOOL (and they fit)! I was stunned, amazed and then rather giddy.

3. My eyes change color from dark brown to light green, depending on the light and what I'm wearing. This is a trait I inherited from my paternal great-grandmother (her eyes were the same) as my mom has dark brown eyes and my dad's eyes were grey-blue. Genetics is fun!

4. I have a deep-seated fear of deep, dark water. If I can't see the bottom, I'm not going in. Just the thought of being in, say, the ocean (or even a pond or lake) where I could not see what's underneath me creeps me out. I saw a psychic once who told me that in a past life I was on an ocean liner that sunk and I drowned so that's where this comes from. Uh-huh. I like being on large bodies of water, just not in them.

5. I began reading independently when I was 3 years old, or so says my mom. I have no recollection of this but I do know I was reading well above grade level throughout my schooling and was one of 3 kids that could read in my kindergarten class (one was my best friend Ann and the other was a kid named Mark).

Allrighty, I think that's it. I'm going to tag Katherine, Mrs. Chicken, Wordy Diva, Lisa over at Champaign Taste (maybe some food facts?), and Little Blog on the Prairie.

Rules:
Link to your tagger and post these rules.
Share 5 facts about yourself.
Tag 5 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

11 March 2008

My 2 Cents

Is it just me or does Eliot Spitzer's wife look super pissed, like she's about to deck her husband? I mean, she has every right as her husband, New York's current governor and former state's attorney whose entire political career has been centered on prosecuting organized & white-collar crime, has been linked to a prostitution ring.

And how about apologizing, not just to his family, but to his wife? He didn't mention that in his brief statement yesterday (most of which was comprised of his ideology concerning politics).

Normally, I don't feel compelled to comment on political happenings, but this photo struck me as kind of funny and sad. You can just see the curses she's lobbing at him in her head.

My guess is that this guy's political career is dead in the water, and pundits were stating he was on the short list to be a running mate for Hilary Clinton. For someone apparently so smart, he sure is dumb.

10 March 2008

Real Simple Questions

Real Simple magazine showcases a "typical" reader each month. I was emailed their questionnaire and thought I'd share it with you. It's a little long, so bear with me.

My life would be simpler if...
I had a clone that would do all the dirty work, like pulling weeds, cleaning the toilet, dusting.

How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
20-25 min. from out of bed to finish. No kidding. I lay out clothes the night before (mine and the kids'). My husband gets the children dressed and fed while I'm in the shower. We've pretty much got it nailed down.

If you suddenly came into $1,000 in spare cash, what would you do with it?
Save it for our family vacation. Or a new laptop since mine bit the dust last year.

What's the quality you least like about yourself?
I tend to keep myself to myself. It took me a long while to be able to open up to my husband and be able to ask for help when I needed it.

What's the quality you least like in others?
Closed-mindedness.

What are you most proud of?
That my kids are turning out to be pretty neat little people. They are both kind, caring, smart, fun individuals. Frank and I are doing something right.

What was your mother right about?
Good Lord, just about everything, which I'm realizing more and more as I raise my daughter. My mother claims she's just like me.

Current obsession?
I have to keep a lid on my love of ceramic pitchers, vases, and Beatles cookie jars. I also like aluminum pitchers (from the 50's). My grandmother had a purple one and I would love to have one in that color.

What makes you laugh?
My children. I love listening to their conversations.

What did you want to be when you were little?
I wanted to be like my dad - a veterinarian.

Bath or shower?
A bath is nice if it's hot, not lukewarm, but I have a tendency to get bored in the tub. Ten minutes go by and I'm thinking, "Is it ok for me to get out?" A shower usually makes me feel great, though.

When do you feel most beautiful?
When my husband says, "You're so pretty" or "You're so beautiful." He's the best.

What scares you?
The fact that I could loose my children to sudden illness or an accident or some random person taking them. When Evan was born I didn't go through the "baby blues." Instead, I was completely paranoid that someone would take him. He slept in a port-a-crib in our room and I had Frank bring it downstairs before he left for work those first few weeks. I would wheel it into the bathroom while I would shower, not so I could hear him if he cried, but so I could keep an eye on him. Like somebody would break into my house and take him. That was my crazy new mom moment.

Simplest pleasure?
A really, really good piece of chocolate. And reading a good comic book.

Guiltiest pleasure?
Many pieces of really, really good chocolate. And my book club that meets Saturday mornings at a local coffee shop.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
One day I wore high heels to school (this was in high school). In algebra class, the last class of the day, I took off my shoes for a minute. The boy sitting if front of me (on whom I had a huge crush) said, "What smells like stinky feet?" I turned beet red and put my shoes on. Mortifying.

What's the one thing about your younger self that you'd like to reclaim?
Other than my figure, not much else. I was pretty irresponsible in my late teens and early 20's. I like who I am now.

What's your favorite item in your wardrobe and why?
I don't really have any one favorite, but I do have some special items hanging in my closet. I have one of my dad's lab coats (that still smells like him) and one of his ties.

How often do you weigh yourself?
Just about every day.

Who was the naughtiest kid in your elementary school and what did he or she do?
I can't recall any one specifically naughty kid. There was Gary, the tough kid, who we were all afraid of, but who turned out to be a pretty nice guy. And Marvin, the weird, dirty kid that nobody wanted to play with (though I did on occasion) who, in third grade, threw up in his desk.

If I had a free hour, I would....
Read. I love to read. There's a stack of books on my nightstand and piles next to my nightstand.

How do you get yourself out of a funk?
I listen to music. Nothing makes me feel better than great music.

What is your motto?
My motto is the golden rule - treat others the way you want to be treated.

My first kiss was...
in 8th grade and happened and my friend Kathy's birthday party. It wasn't very memorable other than the boy I kissed wore a lot of aftershave.

What's your favorite feature?
My eyes. They are the same color as my great-grandmother's and change from brown to green, depending on the light and what I'm wearing.

Before I die, I'd like to...
learn to ski, go ice skating again, and travel, travel, travel.

What are you really good at?
Listening. I don't try to offer solutions to anyone's problems unless they ask. I'd rather just be there to listen, which is usually more helpful.

Favorite junk food?
Reece's peanut butter cups. MMMMM....

Most useless invention?
I have this wooden lemon juicer I got as a wedding shower gift and every time I've tried to use it, I end up with seeds in the juice. I'd rather just use my hands.

Would your rather be a little smarter or little sexier?
I think I'm fairly smart, so I think I'd like to feel a little sexier. I think my hubby would appreciate that, too.

Beauty product you couldn't live without?
I love C.O. Bigelow's "My favorite lip balm". I wear it every night. It has a great texture - not gloppy or sticky and does wonders for chapped lips. I'm also partial to Burt's Bees tinted lip balms. I think there are 3 or 4 in my purse.

Red or white wine?
My mom, sister and I are all partial to rieslings. My husband is allergic to wine but can tolerate ice wine. Our favorite is from a winery in Ontario that we visited, Inniskillen.

How many pairs of jeans are in your closet?
Far too many. They are the staple of the stay-at-home mom's wardrobe.

How many pairs of shoes do you own?
My weakness. I own way, wayyyyy too many pairs of shoes. And no matter how many pairs I have, I always fall back on my Lands' End slip-ons in the winter and my Birkenstock flip-flops in the summer.

What's your favorite place in the world?
Home. I also love Liverpool, England. I spent a few days there once and I would love to go back. The whole of Ireland ranks up there, too, especially the town of Dingle and Galway city (where my family's originally from).

What's your favorite possession?
I have all of my dad's old photographs and slides and there are a lot from his side of the family, some dating back to the 1800's. Those are my treasures.

If you had an "I'd rather be_______" bumper sticker on your car. What would it say?
Reading.

I wouldn't be caught dead...
wearing stirrup pants. I hear they're making a comeback. Why?

What was the first concert you ever went to, and what do you remember most about it?
The first concert I attended was the Osmond family. I was obsessed with Donny and Marie and for my birthday the year I turned 8 my mom took me to see them at the Illinois State Fair. I don't remember anything about the concert itself except that a lady a few rows down from us got a paper airplane stuck in her bouffant hair-do.

If you could change careers now without any consequences or financial loss, what would you switch to?
I would resume my career in the classroom without hesitation. I loved every minute I spent with my students.

Who was your favorite teacher and why?
I was very fortunate to have many exceptional teachers but a few that stood out were my first grade teacher Miss Awalt, fourth grade teacher Miss Heimburger, fifth and sixth grade homeroom/language arts/social studies teacher Mrs. Lottman, eigth grade English and drama teacher Mrs. Page, high school teachers Mrs. Wickline and Mr. Cochrane. They took an interest in me and that made me feel that I could do anything I set my mind to.

Biggest waste of time?
A bad movie - not one intentionally bad, but one that takes itself way too seriously and is not executed well.

High Road or Low Road?
I prefer to take the high road, but the low road is awfully tempting sometimes.

What's the best song ever?
Any Beatles song. And Dee-Lite's "Groove Is In The Heart." Just try to be in a bad mood while that song's playing.

What's the item most likely to break your budget?
Probably a trip to Border's bookstore. I have a notebook that I write down all the books I want to read. About 13 pages are full, so I'd be in deep if I took it to a bookstore.

How often do you check your bank balance?
Not often enough.

What is the superhuman power you'd most want to have?
My husband and I have discussed this before. I'd like to have super telekinesis. I could be writing this, folding the laundry, changing Barbie clothes, building Lego things, and cooking dinner all at the same time!

Craziest fashion trend or hairstyle you've worn?
I was a teenager in the 80's. That should tell you plenty. Yikes.

What celebrity crushes did you have as a teenager?
Simon LeBon of Duran Duran, Adam Ant, Sting, Paul McCartney, Howard Jones, Bono of U2, Elvis Costello, Michael J. Fox, Robin Williams

What is something that no one knows about you?
My sister and I had serious, albeit short-lived, crushes on Scott Baio when he was on "Happy Days" and "Joanie Loves Chachi". We would kiss the picture we cut out of Tiger Beat each night. It's kind of embarrassing.

If you could change places with anyone, living or dead, for one day, who would it be?
Dr. Stephen Hawking. He's an amazing person and to be in his brain for a day would be incredible.

What's the perfect age?
I have no idea, but I'm liking 38. I guess the perfect age is the one you feel the most comfortable.

What's the nicest thing that anyone has ever said to you?
"Mommy, you're the best mommy in the whole wide world."

What amount of money would make you feel you were set for life?
A couple of million ought to do it. We have school to pay for yet. And Flynn's already talking about her wedding (she's 4).

What's your idea of the perfect meal?
All of the items on the menu would be ones no longer available to me: steak grilled by my dad and his key-lime pie, spaghetti cooked by my grandmother, my great-grandmother's bread.

What's the one thing you refuse to eat?
Liver and onions. Bleah.

Favorite movie moment?
There are so, so many I can't choose. Since my last birthday, my favorite movie moment has been the scene in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" where King Arthur meets the peasants played by Michael Palin and Terry Jones. Michael Palin's peasant says, "I'm 37. I'm not old!"

What's the one thing you'll never understand?
How to multiply or divide fractions. It boggles my mind.

How many books have you read in the last year?
Around 90, not counting children's books.

What's your favorite book?
I have lots of favorites: the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit, the Narnia books, Lamb by Christopher Moore, The Diary of Anne Frank. And I will read absolutely anything by the following: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, and Christopher Moore. They are amazing writers that have an incredible gift for words.

How many hours of television do you watch per week?
Not many, maybe 5.

How many cups of coffee do you drink a day?
Maybe 1. I do drink 1-2 cups of tea a day.

How often do you exercise?
Between 3-6 times a week.

How many phone calls do you make a day?
Maybe 1-3.

How much time do you spend on the Internet?
Maybe 1 hr. a day.

Morning person or night owl?
I'm certainly a morning person. I'd much rather get up at 4:30 a.m. than go to bed at 4:30 a.m..

How many hours of sleep do you get?
Between 6-8.

What's the messiest spot in your home?
The entire back half of the first floor of my house. It's where we cook, eat, play, do homework, live.

What's your main source of news?
NPR. I listen in the car and while I'm in the shower. And I check a couple of news site online.

How often do you see a doctor for check-ups?
Once a year. 2 years ago I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease, a fairly common thyroid disorder, so now I see my gp once a year to check the 'ole thyroid.

How many times a week do you cook?
5-6. I prefer to cook, but weekends are fair game for take-out.

How much candy do you eat in a week?
I allow myself 1-2 pieces a day.

How often do you entertain?
Maybe 5 times a year.

What surprises you most about your adult life?
That it's so much fun. When I was a kid, I thought being a grown-up would be dead boring. Boy, was I wrong. My adult life is incredibly rich and I'm blessed with a wonderful family and good friends.

07 March 2008

Heard Around The House

Flynn: (singing) I am playing the bum-bum drum, the bum-bum drum, the bum-bum drum! I am playing the bum-bum drum, the bum-bum drum, the bum-bum drum! Yeah! (after each phrase she spanks her bottom).

This never fails to cause gales of laughter from her brother.

**********

Evan: I AM THE BOOGER MASTER!

I don't even want to know what that means. This from a kid who wants to be Jesus. I don't know, maybe Jesus was a Booger Master and that part just got edited out of the Gospels. There's a lot we don't know about his childhood, you know.

**********

The top-rated knock-knock joke in our house for 3 years running:

Knock. Knock.

Who's there?

Banana.

Banana, who?

Banana in your underwear!

(hilarity ensues)

Can you tell a certain then-4-year-old boy made this up at preschool?