Thursday, July 30, 2009

Where Babies Come From

Overheard this morning as I put on my make up and the girls played baby dolls in Lindsey's bedroom:

Lindsey: Marissa, do you know where babies come from?

Marissa: Where?

Lindsey: From their mommy's tummies. But Daddy told me that when mommies have babies they stand up and they poop them out.

Marissa: Eyew!

Lindsey: I know, but they don't come out of the same hole poop comes out of.

Marissa: Oh.

End of lesson.

I'll set them straight...some day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Land Lines

In this digital age, I can't tell you how many places I've read that people should always have a corded phone in their house, in case there's an emergency and your power goes out. That way you're not reliant upon a cordless phone that needs power to run, you can still make a phone call on your corded phone. I even read this relatively recently, in the last six months or so.

I think that advice is officially now WAY out of date. For example:

If you use VOIP like Skype or Vonage for your phone service, if your power goes out so will your phone line, so don't bother.

If you use cable for your phone service, your cable modem will go out when the power goes out, so your corded phone won't work either.

And most overriding of all, if you own a cell phone, you don't need a corded phone.

If I'm in the kitchen and our phone rings, I walk past our corded one on the wall to the cordless one in the living room to answer the phone. I think it's officially time to replace that phone with a cordless one.

Mall Experience

On Sunday I took the girls shoe shopping for the dress shoes they'll be wearing under their flower girl dresses this Friday. We had lots of luck at JCPenney's -- got them both matching shoes that were on sale.

We then walked through the mall and walked past Abercrombie & Fitch. Lindsey is attracted to this store like bees to honey -- I don't know why. Perhaps it's her inner mall rat that she'll become in 10 years or so coming out early. Everything about the store makes me want to walk away from it -- from the dark interior to the booming music. But we walked by and she came close to the entrance to check it out.

She took a peek, then a whiff and said, "Smells like boys."

A Funny Reaction, not as in ha-ha

Last night Lindsey and I were playing outside, a really nice treat for both of us. She wanted to roll down the hill in front of our house, so she and I both took turns rolling down the hill.

The first time I did it I stood up and felt my skin start to itch. Then I remembered...I am allergic to grass. All grass. Every kind. I usually don't notice my allergies because I just take a Claritin every day from Spring through Fall. They are for the most part mild and don't bother me.

But I remember in 2005 when I finally had a skin test done for allergies, I was MOST allergic to grasses -- where they had injected the grass essence under my skin I had puffed up and gotten a red hive about the circumference of a baseball.

So that was the end of rolling down the grass. Within minutes my entire arms and legs had broken out in little tiny red welts, where the blades of grass had left their miniscule little cuts. I couldn't believe how quickly I reacted.

It was about bedtime anyway so we went inside and got the kids ready for bed, took a Benadryl and went to bed myself. I woke up all better, and a shower helped get rid of the last little itchy spots.

I feel sorry for people who have really strong allergies.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Marissa's Birthday Party

Different story, same birthday.

About 8 weeks ago I went through the trouble of renting a room at the rec center at Linden Hills park for Marissa's 4th birthday party, which was this past week Saturday. Had to fill out a two-page contract, got confirmation that the room was available and the total cost, with a request that I send half down in now with another half due the day of the event. I dutifully sent in my $50, and that was that.

So Saturday morning I hit the ground running, making fruit kabobs (why is it that food is so good to kids when it's on a stick?) little turkey sandwiches shaped like gingerbread girls (they look like princesses, close enough), get all the juice boxes/water in a cooler, go pick up the cake, etc. We had the room reserved from 9:30 until 12:30, even though the party didn't start until 10:00, just for set up and clean up.

When do we arrive, you ask? At 9:55, just as the first guest is arriving. Oh well, not much to set up, it's fine.

Except the building is locked.

The entire building. Back door, front door, outside bathrooms. Locked and dark. Nobody around.


There are two numbers on the front door to call. I call the first one -- from through the door we can hear the phone inside the building ringing.

Not helpful.

But in hindsight, funny.

I call the second number, the office of that park's director. I leave a VM, knowing that it's probably an 8-5 Mon-Fri kind of job, there was no way somebody was going to answer that before Monday morning.

Then I and other guests started calling around to other parks in the area. No one answers ANY phones. I finally got pissed enough I drove to a nearby park and found it staffed. (Apparently they can't answer the phone, though.) A mom is unloading her van calmly, preparing the room she reserved 8 weeks ago for a birthday party. Hmmm...funny thing, I did the same thing, only I got NOTHIN'! And the staff member, being just one individual, cannot leave that park to come to ours, and has no additional phone numbers for us to try beyond the ones we'd already called.

Thank God it was a nice day out so the kids could play outside. But the party did have to take a little break in the middle of it to have 4 little girls traipse to a parents' house nearby to use the bathroom...since there were no unlocked bathrooms.

I was most upset at spending the first half an hour of the party just tracking this shit down. I wanted to enjoy her birthday party, not get pissed off. But I brushed it off, I didn't want to ruin the party by brooding over this, but I was going to give them a piece of my mind come Monday.

Except that on Monday they were so sincerely apologetic and very willing to make it up to me (beyond just refunding me my money) that I couldn't possibly be mad. The park director took a very customer-oriented approach to it, he was nice to talk to and offered me free enrollment for any of the classes that take place in the park there. Would love to...except all the classes are geared for stay-at-home parents and take place during the day. (Not that he knew I worked.)

And...he informed me that the bathrooms are supposed to be open on the weekends, even if the building isn't. So at least he learned something new to fix.

It just seems like Marissa is always getting the short end of the stick...even when it comes to her actual birthday party. Sucks being the second child.

Marissa's 4th Birthday

Marissa's 4th birthday was today, and finally, she had a great birthday.

Prior birthdays have been frought with illness and tantrums -- for her first birthday she had eartubes put in, for her second she had her adenoids taken out. (Not on the exact day, but close enough to it that it extended over her birthday, or she was in need of surgery and was miserable for her birthday.) For her third she fussed and was put in timeouts all day -- Wayne and I were exhausted and thought that our second child would never actually have a special birthday.

Finally...her fourth birthday, and overall she had a great day.

It started with a smile and us both whispering happy birthday to her. She got dressed for Wayne and nearly had a moment when I was dropping her off this morning. She was clingy and didn't want to be at KinderCare on her birthday. But then while I was trying to leave another parent dropped his child off, who is a bit older than Marissa, while she cried and clung and sobbed after he left. Marissa looked at her, looked and me and said, "I don't need to have a big cry." And she gave me a kiss, a hug and a wave good-bye. What a big girl!

I stopped by over lunch and dropped off cupcakes for her class, and got to see her and give her another little hug. For their afternoon snack they had cupcakes and sang her "Happy Birthday."

I was already home when they all came home, with a dining table filled with presents from us and her Floria grandparents (well timed, Dad -- thanks!) She joyfully ripped them all open -- with no "help" from Lindsey for the first time -- and at one point stood up and said, "This is the best birthday in the whole world!"

I had bought little delectables from Lund's and we put candles in her little dessert and sang happy birthday. She blew them all out on her third try.

She played with her toys for a while, watched her new videos, then off to bed it was, with her new dolly by her side.

All in all a very enjoyable day...for everyone.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Conference Observations and Behavior

I am at a two-day conference in Washington DC with no co-workers with me. It's a bit odd, we so often travel in packs. But I've certainly met a lot of new people and had a fun time doing so.

In the process I thought I'd jot down some of the rules I've learned along the way when it comes to conferences and/or professional social gatherings, regardless of the profession.

When at a cocktail party, never hold your drink in your right hand. It makes your hand cold and you'll have to switch it over to shake people's hand with your now cold hand. Learn to drink with your left hand, even if it feels unnatural.

Don't carry food and drink at the same time, for the same purpose above. Grab a nibble when you're done with your drink, or if you are standing near a table where you can put your drink down while you have an appetizer.

If you want to say hello to someone you know and they are talking to someone else, don't wait for a break in the conversation -- it's awkward standing next to these people, obviously wanting to talk to one of them but trying at the same time to not eavesdrop. Simply touch their shoulder and smile as you move past so that it isn't awkward if they are unable to cut their conversation short. Or they may welcome you into the conversation, glad to have a respite from the blabbermouth holding them hostage.

If you are attending a session being given by a volunteer speaker, even if you think a presentation completely sucks, give the presenter your complete attention. It takes a lot of courage to get up to speak in front of people; at least let the person think they are doing well while they are up there. But then do him/her a favor and be honest on your speaker evaluation so s/he can improve.

If you absolutely cannot stand a presentation, quietly leave. It is less disruptive to the speaker and other attendees than sitting in the audience, looking in your lap and trying to discreetly thumb away at your Blackberry. And by the way, I can hear you texting.

Repeat people's names after you're introduced to them to seal the name in your mind. If you forget, it's okay to ask them again, but only once. (It will only get more awkward if you end up talking to that person several times throughout the evening never remember their name.) Or, sometimes as people are talking, I'll listen while at the same time repeating their name in my head a few times.

I go to conferences where I meet people only once or twice a year, if that. It's happened often that someone remembers me and I don't them. Therefore when I'm being introduced to someone that I am not sure if I should remember from a prior conference, I'll say, "Nice to see you!" instead of "Nice to meet you!" It implies that perhaps you've seen them before, but doesn't confirm nor deny that fact, in case you are indeed meeting them for the first time. I learned that one from an interview with Hillary Clinton.

Never. Ever. Ever drink too much. Ever. And don't talk about how you can't wait until it's the cocktail party, you'll sound like a lush.

Be polite to everyone, even people you meet who you think you may not have anything to do with in the future. You never know when you may meet your future client or employee. (Or boss!)

Remember that you are human. Conferences are filled with non-stop action -- from pre-conference workshops that start at 7:30 am to cocktail parties and dinners that last well into the night, you could fill a 16-hour day with activities. If you need to take a break for yourself to re-charge, do so. You will not be on your best game if you don't take the break you need. Your boss will thank you for it (as will you).

And apparently my idea of re-charging included a 20-minute run, followed by a quiet dinner (party of one, thank you), and a few moments to jot these ideas down.

Have a good evening!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Flying Experience

As I have a lot of opportunities to take flights through my work, over time I've become somewhat numb to the stunning vistas that can be seen from the window of a plane mid-flight. But today, flying in to Washington DC, we had quite an incredible view that captured my imagination.

There were thunderstorms in the area and we were warned of a potentially turbulent landing. We stayed above the clouds for quite a time, and from above the clouds were incredible -- pure white against a bright blue sky, puffy and seemingly still. Because we were expecting turbulence, they reminded me of icebergs, beautiful from a distance but dangerous up close. Our plane would get close to one, and it would rear up in its whiteness, growing larger and larger in the window. Then we would go by, unscatched. If we ever did have to descend into one, sure enough, turbulence and a grey mist would fill the windows. Then out we would come, and the scene was filled with these silent giants.

We finally descended enough that we came underneath them all, to a gray-blue day with large swatches of shadows moving over the landscape.

We landed on time, early even, to an airport in disarray, as many of the flights leaving the area had been delayed or canceled due to the threat these clouds posed. It wasn't even raining outside.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A visit from an old friend

Previously I wrote about how my friend Anita and I re-connected via Facebook She is someone that I knew for one singular week of my life, yet she and I both made an incredible impression on each other and I was tickled pink when she sought me out on Facebook. We got a chance to meet up for lunch in Wisconsin as my family and I were on our way to Michigan, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
As fate would have it, she was in Minnesota this week visiting her sister who lives here, and she also was able to carve a little time out of her family vacation to come to our house with her three girls for an evening meal. We had a great time, and surprisingly (at least surprising to me) my girls warmed up to hers pretty well. Before you knew it we had a living room full of girls playing with various toys.

Anita is a very artistic person and a free soul, and while technically she's a stay-at-home-mom, she dabbles in all kinds of arts that she could probably make a living from if she chose to. She paints, she draws, she gardens, she watches people (both old and young) for others, and lately she's been doing henna. She hopes to go to India to mentor with a henna artist there and learn the art even better. But since she was at our house and brought her henna stuff with her (I love that she did that without asking if I might be interested), she offered to create some glitter "tattoos" for the girls and henna art for me.

So here's a few pics of the evening including the henna art, which I am totally loving. I'm actually loving it right now because the ink is infused with eucalyptus, and I'm loving the fragrance emenating from my hands right now.

We had a great visit and a wonderful dinner, and I'm so glad she took the time to come to our house! Thanks, Anita, for taking time out to come see us!

An evening stroll

This evening as I was driving home from work I encountered a man walking his dog along the side of the road. This is unusual in our neighborhood, as our neighborhood is lined with sidewalks which are infinitely safer for both pedestrians and canines. But this man was on the road with his faithful dog beside him, head down and hands in front of him.

I assumed he was texting on a phone, something that I had dabbled in doing both while driving and walking. In both cases I found it very difficult to concentrate on where you are going (yes, even on foot). Just last week a 15-year-old in NYC fell into an open sewer cover where some men were doing work, because she was texting while walking and didn't pay attention where she was going. She was covered practically head to toe in raw sewage, and her parents are thinking of suing the city for "psychological trauma," so right now my tolerance for texting and doing anything is at an all time low.

As I passed this guy I saw that he was fiddling with a Rubik's cube while walking.

So here I assumed he was texting by his posture, and he was fiddling with a conundrum invented in the 1980s. I'm not sure if it was any safer, but it was amusing to me.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Vacation Round-Up

We just got back yesterday from an 8-day excursion. And by excursion I meant 2 excruciating days in the car, followed by four days of fun, followed by 2 excruciating days in the car.

I believe that we are in agreement -- for next year we are staying somewhere a little closer to home, not Upper Michigan. I would like to actually come back from a vacation and when people ask, "So are you well rested?" I can actually say "Yes!" As it is I was on the phone making an appt with my chiropractor while we were driving back, wondering if we could scrape up enough money for a one-hour massage right after. Neither were available, so my neck is still hurting from craning around to the back seat to catch fallen toys, stop the sissy fights, fetch dropped blankies and lovies, etc.
But truly, I exagerate, we did have a really nice time. This year both kids were a little older, which made the car ride a bit more tolerable.

We started with two days at my folks' place in Wisconsin, where we got to visit with cousins Paulie (age 3) and baby Maddie, age 4 months.

We then trekked it the rest of the way up to Marquette, and spent the rest of the evening at the pool, drinking wine, or both in alteration.

The next day was spent at a fabulous Int'l Food Fest at the lakeshore in Marquette, with cousins Yvonne, Yvette and Josette, and Josette's offspring Dominick, also 3, who was immediately Marissa's best little playmate. And did we mention the cotton candy as big as Marissa's head? Actually, bigger. It was crazy.

The next day we drove to Munising to spend time with my aunt, uncle, cousin DeeDee and sister Kristi and take in the Munising parade. Then we headed out to Dana Lake for a cook out and some good times. We got to visit with my grandma Glady, who took a spill down a flight of stairs a few weeks ago. The ENTIRE flight of stairs. She's incredibly lucky that she only separated her shoulder and had 3 stitches in the back of her head. She will live to be 100 I swear, she's a tough old bird.

Then on Sunday we decided we needed to not be driving anywhere. After all, Munising/Dana Lake, et al all requires time in the car...this after spending 10+ hrs in the car to get to the general vicinity. All the kids wanted to do was play in the pool, and here we were driving them around kingdom come. So we had a completely un-scheduled day, didn't need to go anywhere, be anywhere, see anyone, and had a fantastic day of swimming, eating and beaching it in Marquette. We even got to fly a kite in the stiff Lake Superior breeze.

And then on the next day, we began the long trek back -- 7 hrs in the car, overnight stay in Wausau, WI, followed by 4 hrs the following day. (We had to stop twice during what was supposed to be a 3 hr drive, and almost had to stop 3 times when the 3-yr-old had to go potty just 20 minutes from home.)

Three loads of laundry and one take-out meal later, two kids were snoozing in bed and I was ready for bed as well, followed by another vacation.

Duluth sounds really good to me next year.