Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Signs of Spring

It's actually snowing today, but previously to today, spring was definitely in the air.

Some of the signs of spring that we've noticed around our house:

1. In the morning we hear a host of birds chattering away -- hello, birdies!! So good to hear that you guys are back!
2. As I look out my office window, I see a wide swath of trees that have a greenish tinge to them. Hope that soon buds will be growing on those trees.
3. I can see the landscaping that was buried under our snow all winter, since the snow is now melted away.
4. Oh yeah...the dog poop has now been uncovered and sufficiently rained on to make a mushy mess.

The best part of the dog poop is that during the winter our dog poops along the edge of the patio, since he's a wimp and won't walk over the snow to get out to the yard to do his business. Throughout the winter, when Wayne snowblows the patio, the snowblower will accidentally pick up the dog poop and fling it out into the middle of the yard. So last weekend as I was picking it up, I had to pick up a line of poop in the middle of the yard, even though Dax hadn't been in our yard since November. It was all in the same area too, so now I know the approximate trajectory of the snowblower.

Last note, last weekend I went for a walk around Lake Harriet -- took me about an hour from our house and back. It was rather windy that day, and I started out with the wind in my face, warm and strong. As I came around the other side of the lake, the wind was coming OFF the lake, which was still covered in ice. It's amazing the difference that made in the temperature of the air! Now the wind (which was now at my back) was probably 10 degrees colder than it had been on the other side of the lake. It was amusing coming across many of the same people I'd seen on the path on the warm side when I crossed paths again on the colder side, with their jackets zipped and hoods up the second time I saw them.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I have a co-worker who is in the enviable position of purchasing her first home. I say enviable because she does not have a house she is currently looking to sell, and most sellers are taking a bath on the value of their homes and their debt load, and interest rates are at a historic low. (30 year mortage rate is currently 4.625%).

She's looking in South Minneapolis and has come across a couple of foreclosed homes, selling well below market value. Other non-foreclosed homes that they've looked at are thousands higher than the foreclosed ones, and on the high end of their price range.

This past week she put a bid in on a foreclosed home -- it's within their price range and they offered the asking price. Today she found out that there are six bids in on the home, so now begins the bidding war.

So perhaps, through all of this, equilibrium will be reached. Some of the foreclosed homes may sell for a more reasonable price, thus not de-valuing neighboring properties as much as homeowners fear. And in the meantime, other homes which are exorbitantly overpriced will have to lower their prices to compete.

Hang tight, it'll be an interesting ride!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A new talent for Marissa

Yesterday morning while dropping Marissa off at daycare she tried to show me how she had zipped up her fleece jacket. She wasn't able to complete it, but then the teacher told me how the day before she'd been getting the kids ready to go outside, and she didn't have to zip Marissa's jacket because she'd done it all by herself.

Marissa looks up at her as she tells this story, smiles and says, "I'm growing up."

All too fast, yes she is.

Just last week she began saying "Lindsey" instead of "Dinzee." Another milestone gone.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lindsey's Reading Material

Lindsey is getting more proficient at reading, and now we're pulling out many of Marissa's old baby books for Lindsey to read through at night.

Recently we came across a book I had gotten from a neighbor of mine. It's a reading primer from the 1950's -- yes, the old Dick and Jane reading primer, back when Dick was actually a boy's name and not just a body part.

The book is made of several different stories and for those of you who aren't familiar with these, there is a family with three children: Dick (oldest brother) Jane (middle sister) and Sally (the baby). They have a dog named Spot and a cat named Puff. The primer is perfect for Lindsey right now, a small number of works repeated frequently throughout each little story, and the next story builds upon words learned in the last story. So as a reading primer it's perfect, as a story line, it leaves something to be desired.

Lindsey loves to lie on her bed with me and read me her little stories, so last night she is reading to me and we get to a story called "Big and Little." I kid you not, these are the words verbatim from the story, accompanied by pictures of the various family members standing back-to-back to each other, to measure how tall they are:

Oh, oh, oh.
Look Dick look.

Big, big Father.
Little, little Mother.

Look Sally, look.
Big, big Dick.
Little, little Jane.

This was immediately followed by Lindsey stopping and asking, "Mommy, why are you laughing?" To which I had no reply.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Sleep Reading

Once in college I freaked out a roommate of mine. I was lying in bed with a book propped up on my chest and my light still on. She came in from a study session, chattered at me for a little while, went and washed up in the bathroom, then came back and kept chattering away. When I didn't respond, she finally looked around the book to find my eyes closed; I was clearly in a deep sleep. She thought I looked creepy, looking like I was reading when I had actually fallen asleep and hadn't let go of the book.

Good to know Lindsey will some day be able to play the same trick on a college roommate of hers. Though she'll have to work on her book-propping skills.

How to Raise a Hearty Minnesotan

This morning our family was running absurdly late for school/work. About an hour late, the exact amount of minutes we set our clocks back yesterday. Imagine that, what a coincidence.

Because of this, I was dropping Marissa off at daycare a little before 9:00, well after the kids had eaten breakfast and as the class was starting their morning calendar routine. This is where they work on what day of the week it is, what day yesterday was, what day tomorrow is, the month, season, weather, etc.

They were getting to the weather spinner, where they set the arrow to whatever the weather is for the day. The teacher asked the class, "So everybody, was it cold this morning?"

The answer, without exception, was an emphatic, "No!"

The teacher's answer, "You're right, it was a little warmer today, wasn't it?"

Mind you, it was 23 degrees when I left my house. So clearly "cold" is a relative concept.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Industry Training

I don't usually talk about work on my blog, but this one made me laugh so I had to share.

I had the honor of being tapped to co-present a one-day workshop that nonprofits would attend called "45 Must-Have Techniques to Survive and Thrive in Today's Economy." The workshop was sponsored by the DMA (Direct Marketing Association), and was to be held in mid-town NYC next week Friday.

I found out yesterday that it was postponed by the DMA, as were all "non-essential" training and meetings, in respect for the challenges that nonprofits face and the fact that many of their travel and training budgets have been slashed.

Which is true -- as it was, we were on the fence about postponing it anyway because we only had two people sign up for it with two weeks to go. We needed at least 30 to make it worth having.

In the past few months that I have been prepping for this, I had become keenly aware of other training opportunities for our industry and for businesses in general. Kind of like how you become aware of every new car on the road after having purchased one, to make sure you made the right purchase decision.

I could not believe the number of seminars/webinars/audio workshops on "surviving and thriving" in the economy. I get at least one email blast a day promoting somebody's special training on surviving and thriving. Padgett Thompson, CareerTrack, National Seminars Group, as well as all the industry trades: Target Marketing, Fundraising Success, Nonprofit Times, National Catholic Development Council, etc. all having various sessions/trainings on surviving turbulent economic times.

The seminar that I was to be co-presenting was going to be priced at $249 for a full-day seminar -- 9 am to 5 pm. In person, with break out sessions, workbook, etc. If you asked for the "special guest" discount that I or one of the co-presenters could give to you, you could get the whole day for $149, a pretty good deal for a lot of knowledge.

I just got an email for a one-hour audio workshop (audio, mind you, meaning you're just on a conference call, you don't even have materials available via your PC to keep your mind from wandering) that was charging $199 on "surviving and thriving" in today's economy.

Really? $199 for an hour?? Of hearing someone TALK?

I am pretty sure that the first piece of advice that person should be giving is "Don't spend $199 for a one-hour audio seminar." Duh.

I imagine Dogbert standing in the background, tail wagging, with Evil HR Catbert standing beside him, purring wildly, as the speakers drones on for only one hour and collects his $199 per person listening.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Like Mother Like Daughter

Hey family, remember when I was a little kid and mom would serve us chili? And I hated the beans that were in chili and refused to eat them? (They were kidney beans, mind you, the biggest, ugliest, mealiest beans around.) And remember when I used to ring my bowl with the kidney beans that I would fish out of the chili, and then eat the beef and tomato mixture that was leftover? Kind of like this?

Yeah, heh, heh, like that.

Well....guess who this bowl belongs to?

Scroll down....

Scroll down...

Keeep scrolling...

Yep, that one! Some things never change, eh?

Marissa's Wish

Here's a little "wish" that Marissa learned at KinderCare. Guess calling it a wish is how they get around calling it a prayer. A boy named Colton added the ending part.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Accidental Chiropractor

Every once in a while Marissa will finish out her night's sleep in our bed. Some time between 5 and 5:30 am we'll sense a presence and suddenly plop, there's a wiggly 3-year-old between us in the bed.

This morning she was settling in, trying to get snuggled down to go back to sleep. She stretched out and her feet pushed against my middle back. I felt a very satisfying "pop" of a couple of vertebrae that my chiropractor had worked on the last couple of times I was there but couldn't get to move. Here in the middle of the night the 3-year-old applies the right amount of pressure and aahhh! relief. (I think it had more to do with the fact that I was completely relaxed and not expecting it, to be honest.)

She also managed to crack my neck about 5 seconds later, which also felt pretty good.

Perhaps she's got her career cut out for her already.