Monday, December 28, 2009

A timely holiday injury

On Christmas Eve while I was washing dishes, I did something my jr high home-ec teacher warned us to never do: 1) never put a whole bunch of sharp knives in the sink to wash, and, 2) if you're dumb enough to do this, always look before reaching into the water.

I never did adhere to rule #1, I've always put all knives in the dishwater to soak a bit instead of washing them one-by-one. I've done this for years and have never cut myself reaching for those submerged knives. But I was surprised on Christmas Eve when in my haste I reached into the water and sliced my left thumb with a knife.  I've recently been keeping all of my knives pretty sharp, and this one was definitely in its prime.

The cut wasn't deep, but it was almost the entire width of the meatiest part of my thumb. It bled profusely at first, and I continued to wash up the dishes despite the cut, figuring that the soapy water was probably pretty good for it. But I did have to double rinse the knives to get the extra spot of blood off the handles.

Finally I attended to the cut -- like I said, shallow, but long, so it was hard to get a band-aid to cover the whole thing. And it's been probably one of the most annoying injuries I've had of late. Do you know how many times you use your thumb, even your non-dominant thumb? I've re-opened the cut numerous times doing dumb stuff like turning a doorknob, turning on the water, closing the washing machine door, etc.

Just four days later it's mostly healed up, but still hurts depending on what I'm doing. So I think this means this is my last post of the night if I want to be able to type at work tomorrow.

Update: Ugly Cake Again






It just wouldn't be Christmas if I didn't attempt my mom's infamous sour cream coffee cake in a bundt pan, would it?

And it REALLY wouldn't be Christmas if I got the damn thing to turn out, would it?

No, it wouldn't.

I was telling my new co-workers about my various failed attempts to make this coffee cake year after year. One asked, "You aren't going to try it again this year, are you?" Are you kidding? By this time it's tradition! Of COURSE I'm going to try to make it, that's half the fun!

And it did look beautiful. Truly beautiful! Unfortunately the filling on one half of the cake had sunk to the bottom of the pan and stuck again, so it did not come out of the pan as planned. But it did still taste delicious -- we ate it all in about 3 days.

When I finally went to take it out of the pan, the girls both accompanied me to the kitchen for the unveiling. When I was having a hard time getting it out, Lindsey watched in anticipation for a while, then she abruptly turned and left, saying, "I can't watch this."

Like I said, it's tradition by this point, it will be a shame the day I finally get it to work.

Our Children are Spoiled and Don't Even Know It

What can I say? By the end of our gift opening, which lasted all of 50 minutes, the entire floor was covered with bits of wrapping paper, boxes, tags and twisty tie thingys that we had to un-do to get to some of the toys. This after Wayne told me of his Christmases growing up when they got one gift each.
We got the girls to bed a little too late on Christmas Eve. They were downstairs watching A Christmas Story while Wayne and I were upstairs, enjoying a glass of wine and some uninterrupted conversation. Uninterrupted conversation! What IS that?! We were loathe to end it by ending the movie early, but at 9:00 Lindsey finally came up and said, "It's over and Marissa's sleeping." Oops, Marissa's sleeping. Uh oh...

It took all of 10 minutes to put them to bed, then we traipsed downstairs to get "Santa's" gifts out of the closet and put them under the tree. Then off to bed we went.

We were awoken at 5:30 am by a squeal from Lindsey's room. "Eeeee!" she said. Then little footsteps as she ran into our room and jumped into our bed. "I think Santa's been here!" she says. Ummm...maybe, but we ain't checkin' at 5:30 in the morning to find out.


We got her to go lay there for another hour but she didn't go back to sleep. We finally got up at 6:30; Lindsey ran downstairs quickly to confirm that yes indeed, Santa had been to our house and left a whole bunch of presents! By this time Marissa was up -- she was about to start crying from being woken up, then she remembered it was Christmas! So downstairs we all went to check out the presents with instructions to look but not touch.

I was in the kitchen making coffee and Wayne was opening the blinds when I heard Lindsey exclaim, "How come Santa has the same wrapping paper as we do?!"  Hmmm...guess we'll have to change that little fact next year. Hopefully she won't remember that Santa uses paper that she bought with me at the store.

Favorite gifts were definitely the Snuggie (thank you, Aunt Shelly and Uncle Steve!) and the new nightgowns from Grandpa Tom & Meme. This was followed by the Strawberry house for Lindsey and the Tinkerbell playset for Marissa. We've been getting a lot of use out of Connect Four as well, a gift Wayne and I picked out that Lindsey hadn't asked for.

Marissa had asked Santa for dress up ballet clothes, which she did get, sans the ballet slippers. She said, "Maybe he forgotted that I wanted ballet slippers." Well, maybe the dress up set we bought didn't come w/ballet slippers! Thankfully Lindsey's got ballet slippers around...somewhere, we'll just have to find them for Marissa.


She had also asked for a game called Elefun for both she and Lindsey, which they also received. Ironically, that game has gotten the least attention and been played with the smallest amount of time. Shocking.

Lindsey had asked for a swing for her backyard from Santa, but surprisingly hasn't mentioned disappointment at not getting it. Perhaps that's because there's a good 2 feet of snow on the ground outside and she hasn't actually breathed in fresh air for more than 2 minutes in about 3 days.

The rest of Christmas Day was...well, to be totally honest it was trying. We had two sleep-deprived girls trying to play with their own toys in the same space (why, oh why do they insist on playing in the same room?) We had to separate them several times and they needed constant parental supervision to not get into scraps with each other. Marissa threw her own Tinkerbell toy and now has a door on it that is constantly falling off and needs to be put back on about every five minutes. She now knows the rule that if she throws her toys she loses them for the rest of that day, so no more toys were thrown that day.

They were well behaved during dinner at least, which was good so that we could all enjoy it. Marissa our vegetarian decided that she didn't want the steak and found a pint of grape tomatoes in the frig that she devoured instead. Works for me.

They were both in bed by a reasonable hour and slept past 7:00 the next morning, so the 26th was a MUCH more pleasant day. They took turns w/each other, had fun, and both got separate play time in their own room with their own toys for a while, a needed break from each other. And Wayne and I both enjoyed playing games with them alternately. I'm sure it will be so much fun when both girls are at a closer developmental level when we can play games the four of us. Right now we have to play one-on-one with one or the other -- Marissa can't follow the rules of many of Lindsey's games, and Lindsey doesn't care to play many of Marissa's younger games. So we kept the Christmas enjoyment up through the rest of the weekend.

Christmas Eve 2009 Activities

I'm putting a few posts up from the last few days of activities. This was part of the lovely Christmas Eve that the girls and I had while Wayne worked one last day before taking off work for a week and a half.

Marissa's Doggy Diet

Recently Marissa fed Dax a treat after having him roll over, then said, "I wish I could have that."

"Have what?" I asked. I thought perhaps she wanted to learn how to roll over.

She pointed to the dog biscuit that Dax was devouring and said, "Have THAT."

So I told her to go ahead and eat a dog biscuit. Seriously, there's nothing in there harmful to humans, it's just that most humans don't prefer dog food.

She helped herself to a dog biscuit and then asked for another. I think that dog biscuits and crackers taste the same to her.

I cut her off at one.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Our Cruise Ship Home

Our cleaning lady came yesterday, just before Christmas, so our house is nice and clean for the holidays. Can I just say how much I LOVE having a cleaning lady?? It's so nice to not have to clean on days off, I can do other things, like go sledding with the girls, make cookies, and so on.

One of the other cool things is that she makes the girls' beds. She would actually change the sheets for us if we wanted, but that seemed weird to me to have someone else totally make my kids' beds, so she just makes the beds for us. And since I think it's weird for her to make our bed, I make sure our bed is made before we leave in the morning.


Every time we come home it's like a little surprise to see how she's arranged their beds. Every time, there are different blankets or stuffed animals on the beds. Sometimes there are books buried deep in the covers. She'll find them and put them on top of the bed. It's like how I've heard cruise ships are, when every time you come back into your room you find your towels in various shapes of animals, plants, etc.



Yesterday she had Marissa's little hippo pillow on top of her blankie, and Lindsey's two stuffies were lined up on the bed, ready to snooze. And she had neatly folded both of their jammers on top of their pillows and blankies. The girls were both delighted by how she had arranged their rooms.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Steve

That is what Marissa calls "Christmas Eve." This from the same girl who says "stister" instead of sister.

Don't try to correct her, it's Christmas Steve.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Two Christmas Traditions

Our house is filled with all kinds of Christmas traditions -- many which involve food, but two that I feel impelled to highlight.

The first is not my family's Christmas tradition, it's a neighbors, but we benefit from it. Every year since we had kids after moving onto this block, we've received a plate of gingerbread cookies from a neighbor of ours. And not just any gingerbread cookies -- cookies in shapes of a man, a woman, and little tykes. Even babies! All have our own names iced onto them.


I've taken some pictures in some years, other years they get eaten too quickly to snap a photo. Because not only do they look awesome, they are also ALWAYS delicious! My girls LOVE getting these gingerbread cookies. Thanks to our neighbor Bridget who makes part of her holiday tradition baking all of these cookies up for her friends and family.


The other tradition...also involving food...well, let's just take a quick look at our reminder of what happened last year, shall we?


Yes, yes it is time once again for me to attempt my annual coffee cake. Or as it is now affectionately called in this house, ugly cake. Because it is more often ugly than not, but always delicious.

I shall report back in a few days on my progress on this project!

Little Miss Muffet...New Cast

And if you didn't catch it, check out the prelude by Daddy in the background before the narrator began.

Lindsey as Little Miss Muffet

This is the re-enactment of the infamous "Little Miss Muffet" first performed by Jenny and Kristi Floria in the early 70's. In the original, the younger sister was played by a baby, who actually crawled toward the little starlet, and the starlet sat on a little stool, and not a full-sized chair.

So while today's adaptation is not true to the original, one piece of the set is historically accurate: the bonnet being worn is the same used by the original players so far back in time.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Commuting Thoughts

While my new job is only a few miles further in the opposite direction of my old job, I am finding that my commute back home from work...let's just face it...sucks. It takes me 30 minutes to drive to work, and usually betwen 45 minutes and an hour to get back home. Turns out that traffic is ALWAYS going towards Minneapolis, both morning and evening. Poop.

This, of course, gives me lots of thinking time, something that can be very dangerous depending on the day and the mood. Yesterday evening I was driving home, crawling along at 8 mph per my GPS and I was taking in the sunset. The entire sky was the tapestry, with long fingers of pink, red and orange extending across the entire sky. The colors grew deeper and deeper as twilight slid up behind me. I was stuck on an overpass (8 mph, folks, it takes a while to cross a bridge at that pace) and watching the spaghetti fingers of traffic coming toward me, and overlapping the other exits and lanes that were interconnecting while this incredible light show of a sunset was happening over the entire scene. The sunset was huge, larger than the whole movement of all of the cars within my sight.

As I took it in, the cars and their headlights took on the personality of ants, and I couldn't help but think that humans are not meant long for this world. Long after we are here, the sunsets will still happen, the sky will still deepen, but we will not be here to witness them. Deep thoughts for a commute.

And then..this evening's commute.

It was a bit later when I started out and I ended up taking a different way out of St. Paul. For a while I was at a streetlight in front of the St. Paul Cathedral, a beautiful building that has a gorgeous church belltower on top, with architectural lights lighting up the various stone edifices. The sunset was long gone with twilight well settled in, yet there was still a deep blue tinge to the sky behind the cathedral. And tonight, as I gazed upon this landscape, I thought about what an incredible feat this piece of architecture was, and that it would probably be standing there for hundreds of years to come.


We'll see what tomorrow's commute brings.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Visit with Santa

As I mentioned in the prior post, one of the things we did this past weekend was take the girls to see Santa Claus at Southdale Mall. It seems that most of the santas we see around now have real beards -- none of that fluffy white fake stuff for them.

I'm not sure at what age kids start doubting whether or not Santa is real, but I think Lindsey is getting to that age. We watched "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" the other night, the old stop-action show which has Santa Claus as a baby, then as a young man bringing toys to a town called Sombertown, where Herr BurgerMeister has outlawed toys. Throughout the story it explains everything from why he wears a red suit, why he enters via the chimney, to why presents are stuffed in stockings on the mantle. Afterwards, she asked if that story was true. I said, "Well, no one knows for sure, but some people think that that's how Santa Claus came to be." Then she asked if he ever died, if he was around when we were little, when the grandparents were little, etc.

When we were driving to the mall to see Santa, she asked if this would be the real Santa or Santa's "helper," as we call other people who dress up like Santa. "That's a good question," I said, "You can probably ask him that."

I don't think she did ask him, but she did walk away whispering, "I think he was the real Santa." We had a picture taken of them with Santa, and when we got home we put in on the mantle, next to a picture from a few years ago of them with Santa again. It's obvious from the photos that they are clearly two different men -- one's beard is completely white, the other was white with a little grey, etc. She looked at the two photos side-by-side and announced that she believes the Santa she saw this year was the real one, and the one from a few years ago was just a helper.

It was really sweet seeing them both with Santa. They both wanted to speak to him separately, to tell him what they wanted for Christmas. (This was promptly followed by a last-minute purchase for a dress-up ballerina costume for Marissa that Wayne bought online.) Lindsey asked for two swings for the backyard so she can swing at our house and not have to go to the park. (Hmmmm...not sure what to do with that one.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

Everywhere where you go....



Take a look at Pershing Park...sledding down like a lark...
whatever, I'm done trying to rhyme.

But...could we fit more fun into one weekend??

Between sledding, going to the holidazzle parade Saturday night, then going to see Santa on Sunday AND...going to our dear friends the Lassiter's Sunday night for even MORE fun, I don't think we could pack more into one weekend. What a great time!



Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Post Office to Arkansas

In typical fashion, it isn't what Marissa says that's so funny but how she says it, so I'm sure this story won't be quite as funny as it was when it happened.

Today I made a trip to the post office to ship off my dad's Christmas/birthday package. I also already had our Christmas cards addressed, stuffed and needing stamps, and the girls decided to accompany me on this errand.

Marissa was all excited to come with me to ship the package to Arkansas; I didn't quite understand why until we got to the post office. There was, of course, a line going up to the door, not quite out, and we had to wait a while to get the package weighed and posted. While we were waiting in line Marissa was unusually quiet, taking in all the sights and sounds of people with their packages and cards.

It was rather quiet, so finally she turned to me and she whispered, "Mommy, is this Arkansas?"

I had to explain to her that the package was going to Arkansas, but that this was the post office, and we give the package to a mailman, who gives it to someone else, who puts it on a truck and it eventually gets to Arkansas. But we weren't going to Arkansas.

I think I need to get my girls out on errands more so they can see the way the world works. Or maybe I need to get my youngest to Arkansas now.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Our Star Student

Lindsey was picked to be her class's Star Student beginning this Wednesday for five days. Her teacher picks one every week and I assume she's going to make her way through the entire class through the school year, but in Lindsey's mind it is clearly quite an honor.

First, we were sent home a black folder with instructions on what it means to be a Star Student. The Star Student gets to help Ms. Lyga-Jones around the classroom -- handing out papers, distributing books, erasing the chalkboard, etc. We also had to take on a project of creating a poster board about said star student -- photos, awards, and whatever the star student wanted to put on the poster board. Lindsey was so excited that we began this project Friday night, the day she found out she was going to be the following week's star student.


She and I picked out photos she wanted to put on the poster board, and then of course I had to order them via Walgreen's and go down and pick them up, since we don't actually keep any printed photos around anymore. Then Lindsey decided how to organize them on the board, and her recommendation was photos taken at home on one section and photos away from home in another section. I love the way her mind works! We decided to categorize them a little more, and have photos of the entire family in one area, photos of Linden Hills/Lake Harriet in another, etc.

I love the fact that she had three photos of Dax on the board. We also put some photos on of when she was a baby, and we also had a photo I had taken of her Cinderella and prince dolls set up in the castle, "waving" to the crowd; she thought that was pretty funny so she wanted to include it. I also have a photo of her sleeping with an open book on her head, which she also thought was funny.

She wanted to put on the poster board her medal that she got from the Family Fun Run she did this past May, but surprise surprise, we can't find her medal. Anywhere. We spent the entire weekend looking for it. So I am sure that this spring it will show up in some random bag or purse that she put it in and we subsequently put away for the season. But we did put her field day 1st place ribbons on the board, so that was enough for her.

So today when Wayne dropped her off he walked the poster board all the way to her teacher's room, so that Lindsey didn't have to carry it around and get it ruined before she got to class. She gave her talk today on the photos and she said it went well. We're very proud of our Star Student!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Lindsey Finally Lost her Second Tooth!


Almost 3 months after her first one came out, she finally lost her second tooth today! It'd been really loose for almost two weeks, but she didn't want anybody to pull this one.

Today she and I were driving to the grocery store and she was munching on a sweet bun from a local bread store on the way. She said that it hurt her tooth when she bit into the bun, and all of a sudden the tooth came out in her hand! She was so excited!

So the tooth stayed in a little tray up by me for the duration of our outing, and is home now safe in her tooth box, where the tooth fairy will hopefully remember to take it in exchange for a dollar tonight. You can already see the new tooth behind where the old one was -- it had started to come up behind her baby tooth.

Poor Peanut

Wayne's been battling a cold the last couple of days and just this morning it appears that Marissa has come down with it...or with something.

She awoke this morning feeling just fine, but within a couple of hours she said her throat hurt and she just wanted to sit on someone's lap and snuggle. I took her temp and it was a low-grade 99 degrees. We gave her some Ibuprofen since her throat was really bugging her, and she seemed to perk up.

Lindsey and I were gone for a few hours grocery shopping, and when we came back she had been helping Wayne decorate the house for Christmas. He said she'd been playing, singing and play-acting most of the time while pulling out Christmas figurines. But shortly after we got home, she looked at me and said, "I'm cold!" Her teeth started chattering and the shivers started -- it was so obviously involuntary. Her temp was still hovering around only 99 degrees -- but she was clearly miserable.

I snuggled up with her for probably an hour and a half, and she finally fell asleep in her bed (okay, I did too for a little, but only for about 20 minutes or so). I got up and she kept sleeping for about another hour. Now she's up again and still feels a little warm, not too badly, and is playing with Lindsey.

There is one good thing about when the kids are sick -- they want to snuggle. A lot. That's something you can definitely talk me into doing for a very long time.

Friday, December 04, 2009

These sisters DO love each other!

With my new job this week Wayne and I switched drop-off/pick-up duty, so that he drops off in the morning and I pick up the girls in the evening. Marissa's school is closer to me coming back from St. Paul, so the last two nights I've picked her up first, then Lindsey.

So tonight Marissa and I came in to pick up Lindsey together, and Lindsey immediately stopped playing with her friends in the coveted "Pet Vet" area of the playroom and retrieved something from her bag. It was a card, made from a single, folded piece of construction paper. The outside said, "I love you" and the inside read exactly this:

I love you so
much marissa
wen it my
birthday
I hope I
wembire
to sawr
withe you.
Love, Lindsey
xxxxx
ooooo
xxxxx
ooooo

Translation:

"I love you so much Marissa, when it is my birthday I hope I remember to share with you. Love, Lindsey, xoxo."

And as if that didn't take the cake, she had made a bracelet for Marissa with beads that have letters on them to read "Marissa" with hearts on either side of her name.

How sweet is that?!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

An interesting twist

I started my new job today...it's been a while since I didn't know where to get coffee, how to login to my computer, how to make a phone call, or even where I sat. I met a lot of people and finally told one person that everyone needs to wear the same outfit tomorrow so I recognize everybody again.

Yesterday my new boss called me on my cell to confirm that I was starting today, the time I was coming in, etc, and to give me a piece of advance news before I started -- she has resigned. She will be working at Gillette until December 18th, then beginning at another healthcare foundation after the holidays in January.

What?

I thought that perhaps I'd have a few months to pick her brain, learn the ropes and get acquainted with processes, people, politics, etc, and instead I have two weeks.

Needless to say this puts more pressure on me to get up to speed and quickly. Like I don't put enough pressure on myself sometimes, now I won't have a go-to person who can help me figure out who to ask to get things done! And I really like her and was looking forward to working with her. Huge bummer.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Transition in more than one way

For many, Thanksgiving is a time of resting and relaxation, of football and beer starting at noon, perhaps a little football tossing outside to justify the huge meal you're about to consume, a time to get together and enjoy.

Those people are called men.

In most of the Thanksgiving traditions I've seen and heard about, the majority of a woman's Thanksgiving is spent in planning, preparing, shopping, cooking, presenting, praying and eating, followed by clearing, scraping, boxing up and storing this thing called THE FEAST. And somewhere in there some child-rearing happens for many of us.

Which is why I am looking forward to these next three days between jobs. No job pressures at the old one, no job pressures at the new one, just...what do I want to do for three days? And you know what it entails, right? No, no trips to the spa, though I do plan to go to my chiropractor, which is just as if not more healthful for me.

I will be volunteering at both of my kids' schools for short periods of time. Because once I start my new job I won't be geographically close enough to them to be able to do this, nor will I have the flexibility to volunteer. And I LOVE my kids and know how much it means to them to have their mom or dad there.

I will be cleaning my closet of all the clothing I've been meaning to take to the consignment shop but they only consign Monday-Thursday from 11 to 4, so duh, obviously nothing I've set aside "meaning" to consign has ever made it there. I've got a stash full, I hope they take some of it before ripping my ego to the ground with a harsh, "Um....we'll donate this one for you."

The "side" project to this one is definitely a pleasant one -- I get to refill my closet a bit. My new company is business casual -- my old one was eh, as long as your tush or muffintop isn't out for everyone to see, it's good. So I got to wear jeans to work several times a week -- every day if I wanted. This led me to invest heavily in great, dark denim dressy jeans that were perfectly appropriate at work but doubled as going-out jeans, paired with an awesome blouse and heels and just the right jewelry. Now I have great going-out jeans, but alas, they have lost their dual identity as work jeans. So...I own one pair of khaki pants, 1 pair of black pants (kind of charcoal gray now), and a pair of brown cords. Those three are the basis of my new "business casual" wardrobe, which clearly needs beefing up. So that is another one of my 3-day projects...preferrably without blowing a budget.

I will be tackling my youngest's closet, the upper reaches of which I believe have not seen the light of day since the closet organizer went in there 2 years ago. I think I still see some baby things up there that should either be properly stored (i.e. not exposed to dust) or donated.

I will be tackling our desk area, in which the lovely file folder organizer that is so far away off in the corner of the desk cannot be seen for all the stacks of files and paperwork and random artwork that fills the entire countertop. One could get claustrophic sitting here.

And I said I would tackle all the toys areas in the porch and living room, but suspect that I will not actually get to them. And besides, this may be better tackled with children in tow (I know, really??) because otherwise it is guaranteed that I will throw away something that is very precious to someone that they cannot live without and cannot BELIEVE that I threw it away. I think if this project is jointly tackled as a way to make room for "new" toys from Santa, that it will be addressed with the proper goal in mind which is to PURGE.

And if possible, at some point in this I would like to go to lunch with a friend. What a concept -- a weekday lunch with a non-work friend, in which no one has to check a watch to make a meeting, make a conference call, how grand! And I believe I know who that friend is, as my husband is taking Wednesday off so he and I can do some Christmas shopping together, something we've never done as a couple since having children. So enjoyable!

A blog of an entirely different color

Just as I was leaving PM, I was asked to become a regular writer for PM's company blog. ParadyszMatera decided to create a blog in order to generate online content which could drive natural search to our site. (There is some marketing magic behind the reasons why companies do things such as this.) I am glad that I was able to pen a single entry to the blog before my departure:

http://blog.paradyszmatera.com/2009/11/you-are-what-you-eat

I thought it was pretty clever, though perhaps it's going to get more pings of people looking for that Subway commercial.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Transition

Now that I am on the eve of my last day of work, I am free to put it out here: I have a new job.

And as most people who know me know, this isn't something I do every day. Or every year. Or even every other year.

The last time I had a first day at a new job was 14 years ago. It was my second job out of college, and is the job I am leaving right now. I've been promoted, I've worked on different clients, different projects, and two years ago completely changed team members. But I was at the same company this entire time and never had to deal with walking into a situation I was completely unfamiliar with. There is a certain comfort in that.

That comfort, and the incredible people I work with, have been a part of why I've been there so long. Because to be honest, I love what I do. Our CEO jokes with me that I love my job so much, I would do it for free (not true, by the way). My other favorite saying is, "Love what you do and you will never work a day in your life."

Over the last 14 years I can probably count on one hand (okay, MAYBE a couple of fingers on the other hand) the number of days that I've awoken and did not look forward to going to work.

So why? Why, you ask, would I leave this?

Two reasons, and they are named Lindsey and Marissa.

Because I was finding myself not actually going to work as often as I was heading to the airport. Being in Minneapolis with a client base primarily in New York and DC, I found myself gone -- a lot. When I finally did the math, turns out I travel about 25% time -- I would have estimated that at 10%. At my high school reunion this past summer I had numerous people who know me on Facebook approach me and say, "Wow, you travel a LOT!" Looking back, I didn't realize how many of my status updates had to do with going somewhere, being stuck somewhere or coming home again.

I began looking around at how other working moms add balance to their lives; of all of the moms I keep up with from the neighborhood, I am the only one who travels frequently for my work. Our family life was suffering -- the demands were high, the stress was high, the patience for childish antics was low, and our coupledom was not in a happy place.

I did not want to be the parent who, upon reflection at her child's high school graduation, realized that I made the wrong choice years before, and that I missed too much of their precious, short childhoods. You can't get those years back -- once they are gone they are gone.

Once I made the decision that I wanted something different I began to search in earnest, and found a perfect fit with a position at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, a hospital based in St. Paul that specializes in children with disabilities. Hmmm...a nonprofit, looking for someone to raise funds via direct mail and telemarketing channels? Who is analytical yet has enough people skills to build bridges across departments to meet their goals? I think I know someone like that, someone whose passion is children's causes. The more I heard about what they want to do, the more I felt impelled to try this challenge. This was just too good of a puzzle to not pick up and want to try to solve.

So next week begins a new journey for me. I may have a "first day of work" outfit, wonder where to park, which are the alternate routes to work when the freeways get clogged up, wonder when lunch is and who will sit with me. But I'm excited for this new chapter in my professional life, and the changes that it will entail in our family life. After 14 years of client services, I am the client. Wow, this will be different.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Marissa Blows Bubbles for Dax

Dax has always gone crazy for bubbles -- we have a video of him when Lindsey was just a baby chasing and catching bubbles in our house while Lindsey laughs maniacally -- wish I could figure out how to transfer that to digital to show you.

But here he is more recently, catching bubbles being blown by Marissa on a recent beautiful November weekend.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Present I Give Myself...Every Other Week

After years of holding off, saving, grumbling, sweating and working ourselves, we finally decided that we should get a house cleaner.

Housekeeper, house cleaner, maid service, whatever you want to call it, we finally gave in.

It was fortuitous that a neighbor of ours left us a message on our voice mail one day recommending her cleaning lady to us the same week Wayne and I had been saying that perhaps it was finally time. After all, we had once upon a time said we would get one when we had kids. We had one child, and we continued to clean our own house. Not that big of a deal then.

Then...we had kid two. One infant and one toddler, and two professionals working our respective jobs. This is a bit more work, and perhaps a housekeeper would be in order. But no, we said, they are all so expensive and we'd rather take that money and put it into college funds than spend it to have a clean house.

Then...this year we finally began spending LESS money on daycare expenses, now that Lindsey is in school all day. Hmmm....might be some money in the budget.

So we finally decided to get a housekeeper, and I cannot say how much I LOVE it!

Every other week, it's like a gift one night that week when I walk into the house. The carpets have been vaccuumed, the furniture dusted, countertops bleached, toilets scrubbed, floors mopped, and always a surprise cleaning item every time.

We use the lady that our neighbor recommended and she does a great job. She says for us to just leave notes about whatever special thing we'd like cleaned the next time, and she'll do it. A while ago I left her a note and asked her to clean the ceiling fans, which were literally black on the edges with built up dust from running all summer. Not only did she clean them of dust, but she actually got something like 10 years worth of built up black grease off of the ceiling fan in our kitchen. I had tackled that fan several times myself, and while I could reduce the dust build up, I could not get them un-blackened. That fan was spotless when we came home. It looked like a brand new fan.

Today we come home and she's cleaned and conditioned all of our leather furniture as I had asked. I hadn't realized how dirty they were until she cleaned them. No drips of apple juice on them, no dribbles of drool from the dog. We can actually have company over and not be ashamed to offer them a chair.

She makes up the girls' beds and folds their blankies so sweetly on their beds. She readjusts our furniture and occasionally the items on our countertop, which I find amusing. (Because all I'm going to do is put them back the way I want them anyway, but at least I know she moved everything and cleaned underneath them, which is why I think she doesn't put them back where they started.)

A side benefit is that every other week we have to pick up the house before she comes to clean. Items get put away that wouldn't have been put away, we purge things that are sitting around aimlessly, missing their eventual home in the circular file, and the girls chip in to clean up their rooms. Marissa even made her own bed this morning and offered to make Lindsey's too.

I am so grateful that we are in a position to be able to hire a cleaning lady. It is like a gift I give myself every time she shows up.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Why I Love Autumn

The before picture -- a lawn full of yellow leaves.


First: A goodly romp in the leaves to hear a satisfying "crunch."


Next: actual raking takes place.


Followed by throwing of leaves -- piling them up first makes it easier to grab a whole bunch at once.


Followed by a little "nap" and some posing.


Followed by more throwing.

There is no "after" picture -- the lawn didn't actually get raked, Wayne completed it 5 hours later after busting his butt on the front of the lawn first. But boy did we have fun!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

A Puzzling Piece

My mom and stepdad recently came for a visit. They brought with them the early Christmas gifts for our kids, since we don't usually see them over the holidays.

They bought a jigsaw puzzle and a Barbie for both the girls, and the girls immediately played with the Barbies, followed by puzzle making.


Marissa's puzzle was of a lamb with a baby chick, baby bunny and some other cute fuzzy things around and on it. But there was a part of the puzzle that was...let's just say, puzzling.

While we were putting it together, I found the corner piece, which was the section that had the lamb's tail wrapped around its behind. I said, "Oh look Marissa, what do you think this is?"

She looked at it, then turned to me and whispered in my ear, "I think it's her girl parts."

And upon closer inspection, she was actually not far off.


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Flu Hits the Horsman's

And every time I say that I knock on wood, or whatever equivalent that's nearby that I can find.

Because when I say this household had the flu, I actually mean just Lindsey. At least to-date. And she had it rough. She missed four days of school, and not four days in a row, she missed a Thursday/Friday and the following Monday/Tuesday, so she was out cold for six full days.

She definitely gave us a scare when at first we thought she'd gotten off lightly. She had two days of 100.8 temps, then on Saturday she awoke and the fever had miraculously gone away! Wow, she's gotten off light, we thought, after hearing the nightmare stories of other children. Little did we know.

Sunday morning she woke up screaming and writhing like someone was killing her. She said her ears hurt soooooo bad, and she was running a low-grade fever. Luckily the Minute Clinic at Target opens up at 9:00, and she and I were there bright and early. Turns out she had a double ear infection. The PA took one look in her one ear, looked slightly startled and asked me, "How long has she been complaining of ear pain?" I said, "About 24 hours." He said, "Well, this ear is bright red and bulging, it looks extremely painful." The other one was infected too, so he wrote a prescription for antibiotics and we got the prescription filled there. The bottle was about the size of a pint of vodka.

We started her on antibiotics when we got home and she still had a low grade fever. We thought the fever was related to the ear infection and didn't think much of it. She slept poorly that night, as she was up many times coughing, and Monday morning she still had a fever so we kept her home.

By Monday afternoon Wayne called me at work and said, "I'm really worried about her, she's slept all afternoon; even when she's up she's lethargic and she's barely eating." Being the non-alarmist that I am, I thought, well, it's the flu, you sleep a lot. Then he called back later and said, "She won't really wake up when I try to wake her and her eyes are glazed over." Okay, now I'm concerned. I called the pediatrician's helpline and was the 20th caller in queue. I've never been the 20th -- I don't even think I've been the 10th. I finally got a live person 30 minutes later, and I described the symptoms and what was going on and she said to take her to the ER.

So that's where we went, as soon as I got home from work. That was about the longest commute home that I've ever had, and I think I got it down to 15 minutes that day.

Long story short, after a long wait at the ER, we get seen and get told that she's just got the flu, and yes, this year it's really this bad. No pneumonia, no secondary infection, she's processing oxygen well, and she's not even the sickest kid they've seen. Be prepared to be home with her all week, it takes a while, they said.

Later on I started to feel somewhat foolish for having brought her in. Then a friend of mine told me about someone she knew whose son spiked a 105 fever after being sick for days. They brought him to the ER, only to be told to take him home with several strategies for bringing his fever down. They called the ER back twice when the techniques that they'd told them to try didn't succeed in dropping his fever, and five hours later he was dead. Gone. So I don't feel bad for having brought her in. If it had indeed turned out to be something serious, I would've kicked myself forever for not having gotten her checked out earlier.

As it was, by the next morning her fever had broken and she was making up for the lack of energy she'd had the prior six days. She made Halloween costumes for her stuffed animals, then she painted with her easel and paints. Then she did her writing homework with me and danced around the house. She and I decided to celebrate her good health by going to a local restaurant for lunch. And by the following day, Wednesday, she was back at school.

As I mentioned earlier, no one else in the house is sick...yet. Marissa had a cold several weeks ago that she is still coughing from, and I had a sinus infection which is resulting in a lingering cough as it breaks up. We make a snazzy duo. But all in all, we're very fortunate.

I am hoping that in a day or two I am not regretting these words. Where's the nearest piece of wood again?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Somer Thompson

You may not remember her name, but Somer Thompson is the name of the 7-year-old girl from Florida who went missing walking home from school and whose body was eventually found in a garbage landfill some miles away.

If you've read any accounts of her abduction, I hope that the girls who had been walking home with her that day are receiving counseling. She apparently had an argument with one of the girls she was walking with and Somer's older sister told her to "cut it out." At that point Somer ran ahead to walk home alone, and never made it.

The guilt that those children must be feeling must be enormous. I hope that they the "what if's" aren't running through their heads any longer, and that they understand they are not responsible for what ultimately happened to their friend that day.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Summer Entertainment

Here's a video from this past summer, when we vacation in Upper Michigan. This evening was in Marquette, at my cousin's house. What oh what did we do before children for entertainment??

Worth Retelling

Forwarded by my sister-in-law:

A woman and a baby were in the doctor's examining room, waiting for the doctor to come in for the baby's first exam.

The doctor arrived, and examined the baby, checked his weight, and being a little concerned, asked if the baby was breast-fed or bottle-fed.

"Breast-fed," she replied.

"Well, strip down to your waist," the doctor ordered..

She did. He pinched her nipples, pressed, kneaded, and rubbed both breasts for a while in a very professional and detailed examination.

Motioning to her to get dressed, the doctor said, "No wonder this baby is underweight. You don't have any milk."

"I know," she said, "I'm his Grandma, but I'm glad I came."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Fall Picnic

Yesterday our family went for a picnic at Lake Harriet. Being the wimpy coldy family, we drove down there, which made for an altogether more pleasant experience than we would have had walking and whining. Much less how much the kids would have complained.

The picnic started like any picnic, with a cooler full of food which we promptly set into. Then the ducks discovered us, so they began swiming toward us looking for some goodies, which the girls obliged them with. I think Marissa threw half her peanut butter sandwich at them a piece at a time.




Then the picnic went for an odd turn, as pedestrian by pedestrian walked by our table and looked oddly at the two "babies" at our table. Yes, Lindsey and Marissa's "big baby" dolls, which are oddly life-like, were drawing some stares. One appeared to be sitting upright on the bench, while the other was sprawled across the table. Finally two people approached us and told us they thought the dolls were real.

For an idea of how big "Big Baby" is, here's a photo from when Marissa was born. Marissa is the small one wrapped up in my arms, Big Baby is...well, bigger than she was.



So needless to say we decided that the Big Babies should have some more fun on their picnic than they were currently having. So we propped them up against a tree and told them to "smile," as if they were real babies. They were happy to do so.

Then we asked if they wanted to climb a tree, which they did.

And just to make sure they didn't fall, their ever watchful parents, Lindsey and Marissa, stood under them, ready to catch them should they fall.


After the fifth person glanced over and wondered if they should call social services, we decided to pack it up and go warm up with a cup of coffee and hot chocolate. So off we traipsed to Dunn Bros in Linden Hills, where they have a nice sized but somewhat dirty play area for kids. Not that the kids cared. They were too busy "reading" to their big babies, and dancing when the music turned funky.


That's my idea of an urban picnic.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Our Staycation

Lindsey was off school this past week Thursday and Friday for a very Minnesota-like break, called MEA. Now everyone I know who grew up in Minnesota knows exactly what MEA is and why it is a sacred holiday to all those still in the educational system. Me? I was a little confused for a lot of years, and to a certain extent still am.

MEA stands for Minnesota Educator Association. It is a two-day conference that the fine educators in our school are supposed to attend each fall, usually the third Thurs/Friday of October. From what I've heard from friends of mine who had gone, usually only teachers at the beginning of their careers or specialized teachers (music, media, art, etc) go -- your normal, everyday teacher who's been at it for 15 years or so is often a no-show. So when we get back to school and I ask Lindsey's techers, "How was MEA?" it's kind of like asking "How was your weekend in the Bahamas?"

This entire concept is new to me because growing up in Wisconsin, if we DID have an educator conference, they didn't close school for it. Why on earth this conference happens six weeks into the school year and not over the 12 weeks of summer is beyond me...but at any rate...

Wayne and I took these same said days off of work and decided to get a hotel room for one night in Brooklyn Park, a suburb about 10 miles north of us. I know it seems silly, but it was less expensive than the hotels that were in Bloomington, close to the Mall of America, and had the same amenities that our kids would love, namely a pool and two queen sized beds to jump between.

I'm thankful we decided to just do one night -- had we forgotten how poorly our kids sleep in hotels on the first night of any vacation? I think we were fooled into thinking they were better sleepers when we were away, because on our last vacation they were really exhausted by the end of the week and slept like logs, but we'd also been away for an entire week. The first night had been brutal, and this wasn't too much better.

They did eventually fall asleep some time close to 9:30 pm, only to awaken at their normal hour of 7 am. This after Marissa was up a couple of times in the night because "Lindsey stole my covers" and "my arms are cold."

The highlight had to be the hours we spent in the hotel pool. The first time we had the whole place to ourselves, and the next time there were a few other families there, who had clearly also had the same idea of a "staycation." One of the dads there with his kids asked us if our girls were twins. Twins! They are 2 years and 3 mos apart in age, thank you very much, even though they weigh just about the same and are only 2 inches different in height. It was rather amusing. His boys were 12 and 14 -- it's amazing the difference a couple of years make at that age, the one was clearly boyish looking while the other was so much taller and broader in the shoulders.

Puberty is amazing -- I can only imagine that as a parent it's like watching your cute little fuzzball Gizmo turn into a Gremlin. You just have to wait it out until the moon goes down, and hopefully at the end of it you have a creature that will at least talk to you between growls.




Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lindsey's Hoe-Down




Last week Friday, when there was no school due to parent-teacher conferences, Lindsey's before/after school program had a hoe-down. They had decorated up the gym with bales of hay and corn stalks. And every child who walked in the door that day received a bandana of the color of his/her choice and a cowboy hat.

Lindsey had LOTS of fun that day, and when she came home that evening she kept saying things like "howdy partner," and having some "vittles." And she keep posing like this too, so I had to take a few pics of it. She clearly had a really good time!

Monday, October 05, 2009

She went to bed and bumped her head...

I decided to check in on the girls one last time as I was going to bed. I checked on Lindsey and saw this:


Yep, she's definitely out, hope Dax doesn't fart during the night, though.
Now how about the other one:



What?! What happened here?! Let me check...is she sleeping?


Yep, she's definitely out. She must've fallen out of bed and just kept on sleeping. So I put her back in bed, which was clearly very disturbing to her:


I'm not sure how, but she woke up well rested the next morning. I told her she had fallen out of bed and she didn't believe me until I showed her the pictures.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Deep Thoughts by Lindsey

Here's a sampling of the questions I was peppered with today by Lindsey as she and I drove to the grocery store:

Mommy, if someone lives alone and dies, how does anybody know they died?

When you die, if you were good all your life, do you get to be an angel?

What if you were bad?

Does being mean to your sister count as being bad, or good? What if you say you're sorry?

What deep questions! I did my best to answer them, and often said things like, "Some people believe..." because some people believe that we all become angels, others believe you go to live with the angels, etc.

I wonder what spurns these questions sometimes. She's pretty deep for a six year old.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why Flashlight Tag Rocks

Tonight Lindsey wanted to play a game of flashlight tag. Now that it's getting darker earlier, we were able to play this by turning off all the lights in the house to play and it was like dark twilight, not pitch black.

For those of you unfamiliar with childhood games, the refresher course is:

1. The person who is "it" has a flashlight.
2. No one else does.
3. The person who is "it" counts to 10, then tries to find everybody by shining her flashlight everywhere.

So here were the best two parts:

When it was Marissa's turn to be "it," I opened the closest door and closed it, then hid behind the couch, thus fooling my 4-year-old into thinking I had hidden in the closest. (I'm an evil adult, I know.) Then I watched her walk by me, shine the light under the door and say, "Mommyyy....I found you!" She paused, then opened the door, shined the light all around and said, "Oh! You're not there!" Then she turned and accidentally shined the light on me, sitting there practically in the open, and jumped up in surprise.

The best other part:

The game had somehow traveled down into the basement by this time it was Lindsey's turn again and I hid in the boiler room. She remembered to check all the other closets but forgot the boiler room. I heard her go upstairs and look for me, then she started calling for me, so I called her name back and she figured out I was in the basement and came back down to keep looking.

When she finally opened the door to the boiler, I was holding up a cooler in front of my face. So picture this: a grown woman, crouching on the floor but whose body is in plain view, holding a cooler in front of my face so Lindsey couldn't see my face or hair. I kid you not, she looked right past me. She even shined the light right on the cooler, which was apparently floating in midair in her view, as she didn't see the body or the hands holding it up. When I finally dropped the cooler and said, "Surprise!" she jumped about three feet and screamed.

I think I'll be waking up a few times this evening, comforting some nightmares. But it'll have been worth it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dining Out

Now that it's darker in the morning, Wayne is finishing up his marathon training by running some evenings -- this night was one of them. So I decided it would be a good night to take the girls birthday gift shopping for a party Marissa's going to on Saturday, then take them out to eat.

It's been a while since we've taken the girls out to eat, and with good reason. We work hard on manners, on actually eating our food and not playing with it, that restaurants are not places to play tag, etc. Now it was time to take those lessons to test in a REAL restaurant: Perkin's.

For the most part they did well, and it helped that they were actually starving because it meant that when our food came they went to town. And they've learned from their daddy that Perkin's means breakfast 24 hours a day, so both of them ordered the french toast tower for dinner.

Halfway through our dinner an older couple sat in the booth behind us. After they'd been there about 10 minutes the gentleman looks behind him at whose sitting right behind him, and I realize that Lindsey's constant movement (really? not Lindsey...) has clearly been reverberating through the booth and disturbing him. So I ask her for the billionth time to sit still, please, not slump, and not stand up, and certainly not leap up and land with her feet under her butt on the seat of the booth.

She tries to oblige, but the "blue water" drink that came just before the actual food (and is Sprite with blue food coloring in it) is full of sugar that's hyping her up and she is unable to sit still. So she starts nibbling on her bacon that came with her french toast tower. She seems to be eating just fine, and then suddenly she starts choking. Well, instead of actually biting off pieces of bacon she'd been nibbling it up, and ultimately it was still one single piece of bacon in her mouth. So she spits it out onto the table, breaks it apart and begins to eat the pieces one by one. At which point I hear myself say something I don't believe I've ever said before:

"Lindsey! We do not re-eat food that we've spit out. Put that down!"

We? WE? As if somewhere in this country there is someone for whom that is acceptable behavior.

Don't Google it, I'm sure you'll find some case of some tribe somewhere who regurgitates food to give it to their young, but no thanks, still not acceptable here.

Better yet not five minutes later Marissa, who had eaten her bacon the same way, also begins to choke with chipmunk cheeks full of bacon. I end up holding out a napkin for her to spit her bacon out into and scrunching the napkin up into a ball. I feel sorry for whomever has to clean our table and hope to God the napkins on the table stay scrunched up when they pick them up.

As we left I apologized to the couple behind us if we had disturbed them. The woman smiled and said, "No apology, we have grandchildren too," but the man looked clearly annoyed.

I'm sure he lost his appetite as soon as he overheard me telling my child not to "re-eat" her food.

And just for a kicker, Lindsey did indeed ask if she and I could play tag while waiting for our food. But just from her side of the booth to mine, not all over the restaurant because she knows she can't do THAT anymore.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lindsey's Fire Drill

Two unrelated facts:
  1. Lindsey's school had a fire drill last week. Or, if they didn't they talked about an upcoming one.
  2. Lindsey has a favorite little puppy that she carries with her everywhere, including in her backpack at school.
How these facts collided:

This week, Lindsey began bringing her puppy with us in the car to school, but invariably when I drove to work I would find puppy sitting on the seat next to me. I kept thinking Lindsey was forgetting puppy in the car, an unusual thing considering that right now this thing goes with her everywhere.

So today I went to bring it in to school, and she handed it back to me and said, "No Mommy! Puppy has to stay in the car and be safe in case there's a fire, because if there's a fire I have to leave my backpack in the school and wouldn't be able to save him."

Makes sense to me.

Marissa-ism - a new one

Last weekend Wayne took Marissa to Hyland Park, a large park in Bloomington that has all kinds of areas and activities in it. They ended up walking the park trails for a while...a long while.

Marissa started to get tired, so they turned around and began walking back. At one point she sighed and said, "My legs are out of breath!"

How awesome!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Beginning of the End

I like reading the postcards on Post Secret (I have a link on this blog). This one really struck my heart.

About a month ago we had our dog Dax's teeth cleaned. He just turned 11 and has never had them cleaned. Over the past several years his vet has been tracking a heart murmur that has been getting persistently worse, and she recommended we get his teeth cleaned because if bacteria traveled from his teeth to his heart, well, it just wouldn't be good.

So while we had him under for the teeth cleaning, I asked if they could also take an X-ray of his heart. This had also been recommended a couple of years ago back when the heart murmur first appeared, but I couldn't see spending the money. Well, now I figured that since it would be convenient since he'd be under anyway, just take an X-ray while you're there.

I got a call at work mid-morning that the X-ray confirmed that Dax has congestive heart failure. As I understand it, this is when the heart gets weaker and weaker until it cannot pump away the fluid in the sac surrounding the heart. Eventually the pressure outside of the heart is more than the pressure in the heart, and it stops beating. Same thing that happens in humans.

Dax doesn't have fluid build up in his lungs (another symptom of congestive heart failure), nor does he have much around his heart. There's really nothing that can be done for him until fluid starts to build up, then he can take some heart medication and diuretics which will help clear the fluid. But eventually, we all know how this ends.

For now he is enjoying his days, tolerating the girls, and loves sleeping with them alternately at night. And when and if the day comes that we need to end his suffering for him, I hope I have the strength to stay with him until the end.

Our new art

We replaced a painting in our family room today with one of my favorites -- a photo I took of the girls when they stood up in Travis & Elizabeth's wedding this past summer.

I hope it hangs there for a very long time...like at least until we have graduation photos hanging next to it, or perhaps even their own wedding photos. Graduations pics first though, girls, let's not get ahead of ourselves...

Lindsey Lost her First Tooth!

Her hair's wet because she just got done with a bath. She actually let me pull it out!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Proof we need to start going to church

Last night, while putting Marissa to bed:

Marissa: Mommy, who is God?

Me: Uh...well, God is the Being who created the whole world.

Marissa: Then who is the Cat in the Hat?

[Offstage right: raucous laughter from Daddy]

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Reflections on Walden Pond

I recently finished reading Walden by Henry David Thoreau. This was a book I was required to read in high school, hated and never got anything out of it. The one thing I remember about it is that he had entire paragraphs that were comprised of only two sentences, that had so many sentences and commas in them that I could not make heads nor tails of them and never actually understood the points of his sentences.

Hmmm....I'm re-reading that sentence now and have only to say - touche, HDT.

One of my on-going goals is to read and re-read the classics, to see if perhaps they mean more to me as an adult as they did as a teenager. In this case, I have to say YES, I definitely understood and appreciated much more from this reading than I got out of it the first reading.

As I went through I highlighted passages that I found most impactful to me...not because I thought I needed to look for some relevance for a teacher or an impending test, but because I actually found relevance. It was staring me right in the face.

Some of my favorite quotes:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

My life itself was become my amusement and never ceased to be novel.

If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal,--that is your success.

Goodness is the only investment that never fails.

If one advanced confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. I sat at a table where were rich food and wine in abundance, and obsequious attendance, but sincerity and trust were not; and I went away hungry from the inhospitable board.

Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.

The last line is the closing line of the book. Thoreau died at the age of 44 of complications from tuberculosis. He never married and never had children. Yet our lives are the richer for his.