Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I'm meditating! Ohmmmmmmzzzzzzzzzz

I am trying to become a calmer, more centered, more present in the moment type of a person. As a part of that effort, I've been listening to these 15 minute meditation segments of a CD. 

 This is the cover:

See the way "Adult relaxation" is stamped on there?  It really kind of makes me think of other "adult" media..which makes me laugh every time it comes on my ipod screen.

Anyway, so one of them is on breathing.  And you have to focus on your breathing. The guy who narrates the whole thing breathes the way you are supposed to breathe so you can hear him.  And so I when I do that one, I try so hard to focus and breathe properly, but his breathing is so loud and dramatic that I can't focus on anything but the way that he's breathing.  It is very distracting. And therefore hard to focus on my breathing. Especially when I'm laughing.  Then I really can't breathe right.

Most of them, though, are really good.  There's visualization.  There's affirmations. We've already had that discussion. If you didn't, you can read it here:  Delusions...I mean, affirmations
There's also relaxation...  It's lovely. I am not kidding, I can FEEL a difference in my patience, the way I deal with my kids, in my intensity level during the day because of this practice.  Here's the problem though.

The problem is, I keep putting it off until bedtime. So I go to bed 15 minutes before Tad, with my headphones plugged into my ipod and listen to Adult Relaxation.   A lot of the time, I am sleeping before the one I'm listening to is over. And I'm jarred awake when my narrator begins introducing the next segment. 

I guess I better find a better time of day.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Is 'you look like a mom' a compliment or an insult?

Today's blog is inspired by my friend and coworker who, when another coworker heard that she was a mom, said "Wow! You don't seem like a mom. You don't look like a mom. I'm really surprised to hear that you have kids."  She was wondering if that was a compliment or an insult.  I told her immediately, COMPLIMENT!  But she said she wasn't sure, after she thought about it awhile.  What did that MEAN exactly...I am trying to understand this.

I think it's probably a two-fold thing.  What moms look like and what moms act like...  So, I googled "mom face" and this was the first picture:

Okay. So she looks fine. She's a nice looking lady.  Do you think she 'looks like a mom'?  I kinda do.  I'll be honest. When I get a haircut, I usually say "Don't make me look like a mom."  They always know what I mean.  So, next, in this very interesting study, I googled "mom jeans". This picture was my favorite.

Then I googled "TV mom".  Lots of moms on TV made being a mom look cool.  My favorite TV mom? Claire Huxtable.  For sure.She looks like a mom. But she is so confident about it, that it doesn't matter.  See?


So I guess what I've come up with is that it depends.  If someone tells me I look like a mom, or I smell like a mom or something.  I don't so much like that.  Someone actually told me that once.  That I smelled like his mom.  Oh, it took me WEEKS to get over that.  But if someone makes a comment about me being a mom based on one of my actions: like remembering a snack for ALL of my coworkers so no one feels left out.  Or having tissue in my purse.  Or being the first to produce a band-aid when someone's been injured.  Well, okay, yeah, I'm a mom.  I'm good at that stuff.  I have to be!

I guess I, and maybe all moms...want to be appreciated for the things that we do and think and convey that make it obvious that we are moms.  But we still want to look super cute and youthful like we could be out at a night club.  When I googled simply 'mom', many pictures came up, but the one below is hands-down my favorite.  I'm a mom.  A worker.  A feminist.  A funny gal.  A blogger.  A lot of things.  I just want to look like me.  Just like Rosie here does.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mr. Shimmelfinney

We've been watching a lot of Fraggle Rock at our house.  When I was a kid, we didn't have cable and when I wanted to watch the Fraggles, I went over with my sister to Katie and Rachel Lawry's house where we sat on their couches and watched, loving every minute of it. 

Lately, our kids have been watching Fraggle Rock on DVD.  Tad and I enjoy reliving our childhoods.  We have the 1970s collection of The Electric Company, several episodes of The Great Space Coaster, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, and The Fraggles.  If you ever watched the show, you remember, up in the room at the end of the tunnel lives Doc and Sprocket the dog.  They cut to storyline about them along with the Fraggles and the Gorgs.  Doc is always talking about his neighbor Ned Shimmelfinney  Mr. Shimmelfinney has a cat named Fluffinella and she is Sprocket's nemesis. 

Anyway, when Coen refers to this character who we never actually see on the show, he calls him "Mr. Shit-elfinney".  It really makes us laugh.  And Tad told me today, that all he has to do is just say "Shimmelfinney" out loud, and it gives him energy.

Thanks, Mr. Shimmelfinney. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011


First of all, I don't understand why it is that I always look so terrible in the mirrors at the hair salon.  Do they do that on purpose?  I mean, come on!  I walk in there, feeling perfectly good about myself, albeit in need of a haircut, and I sit down on that fancy chair, gaze into the mirror and what do I see?  I washed out, pale woman with bags under her eyes and scraggly hair.  What gives?  So, here's what I look like, walking into the salon:

And HERE'S me, in the salon mirror:

I seriously do not get it.  And THEN, the hairstylist, the woman cutting and washing my hair is just adorable. She has color in her cheeks and her hair is perfect and she's so cute and she smells good and she's dressed nice.  Every time!  Like this:


So Saturday, I went in to get a haircut and sat down and saw my suddenly transformed from cute to hideous face in the mirror.  My super adorable stylist with her blonde wavy hair and vintage blouse asked me what I wanted. I told her, "maybe one or two inches off; it's been awhile."  And she said, "Well, one inch isn't very much.  Maybe more like two or three. You don't want your hair just hanging flat in your face like that." 

What? That's how my hair ALWAYS looks!

So she gets started and then asks, "How do you usually do your hair?"  "Oh..." I reply. "I just wash it."  She is silent for a moment until I see her face register that I just wash it and go.  That's it. "Sometimes I comb it!" I add, trying to be helpful. 

So she begins cutting.  I am staring at the bags under my eyes and suddenly she tilts my chair to the left a bit.  "Sorry about that." She says, "You don't want to be staring at yourself in the mirror!"


She goes on snipping and I find the whole thing so uncomfortable. I mean, am I supposed to try and make conversation? Is it okay if I'm just silent?  She asked me a question earlier, which I answered.  But now its just quiet and I feel weird.  I ask her about the music playing.  Then I'm quiet again.  When it's done and she's ready to dry my hair, she says, "So, how you do your hair again?"  "Um..." I say. "I just wash it.  Then I go. That's it."  "Do you have a hair dryer?"  "Yeah!" I say, enthusiastically. "But I just use it to put plastic on my windows in the winter!"  "What?" She says, not hearing me over the hairdryer.  "Um...yeah, I said yeah, I have one, but I just use it to put plastic on my windows when it's cold." I laugh nervously.  "Oh." She says.  Maybe she doesn't know what I mean.  I decide to let it be.  As she dries my hair, curling it under, she says, "So do you usually blow your hair dry like this?"  I don't know what to say. I cannot stomach saying yet again that I simply don't DO anything to my hair.   So I say, "Yeah. like that."  I think it saves time.

Then she says, "What product do you use?"  I am quiet.  "Well, I don't use product. But I use that minty shampoo from Trader Joe's.  Sometimes Aveda, when I can buy it."  "Good." She says "It's good to use the good stuff."  "Yeah" I say, "My husband really likes the good stuff.  When I try to buy the cheap grocery store stuff, he always looks under the bathroom coutnter for the better stuff..."  "What?" She says.  She's blowdrying again.  "Um..I buy Aveda or the stuff from Trader Joe's."  Did I already say that? Oh dear.

Finally she's done.  I look like I play a receptionist in a movie.  That's okay, when I get home I'll wash it and dry it and look like me again.  I'm just glad to be outside again.  And not looking in that mirror!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Kitchen magician


We just had three rooms of our house painted. The dining room, the living room and the kitchen.  I have always wanted a yellow kitchen.  When we moved into our house, we did a lot of upgrades--pulled up all the pepto bismol pink carpeting (wall to frickin' wall, it was!) and had the wood floors refinished...  We re-carpeted the upstairs and painted the childrens' rooms, our room the hallways, playroom and the kitchen. 
What was funny about it was that I-along with my parents are of the 'get things done and get them done quickly' camp...while Tad-along with his parents are of the 'get things done properly and well no matter how long it takes' camp.  They were painting Coen's room deliberately and slow, vacuuming all the window wells and taping off the molding, while we were doing Lucy's room. No tape, no prep, just painting.  At that time, Lucy was actually in-utero--six months away from her birth into the world.  We had two weeks before the move in date and I was FREAKING out about getting all the work done to make it move-in ready.  Thus the no-tape no-fuss painting.  My sister, also pregnant at the time, showed up to see how things were coming along.  She walked into Lucy's room and saw us painting and said, "What?! You guys aren't taping the moldings? You're going to make a mess!"  I turned around and looked at her.  "Go join the Mainella camp!" I said.  Everyone laughed, while I explained to my sister what I meant.

Anyway, at that time, we didn't do the kitchen because the whole kitchen had these hand painted grapes all around the top and I didn't have the energy to get those covered up. So we left the grapes and matched the walls to the leaves.  We didn't do the dining or living room because both those rooms are stuccoed and it was too much of a task for the time we had.  Finally, as we're working on our house again, the living and dining room are freshly painted, and we got rid of the grapes.  And I got my yellow kitchen.  And I hired someone, who taped, vacuumed, and was done in two hours.  The best of both camps, I'd say!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Self improvement

One of the things I do in my job is teach kids about having better self-esteem. And how better self-esteem leads to assertiveness and how assertiveness and liking yourself really makes you the best person you can be and leads you to good relationships, success, fame and fortune..well at least satisfaction with your life anyway.

And when I do talk to groups of kids, one example I always use is the scenario of ordering a Big Mac at McDonald's (teenagers love McDonald's, in case you didn't know) and getting a fish sandwich instead!  And we talk about the possible reactions: Yelling at the person-Aggressive, Just walking away dejectedly with your fish sandwich, wishing you had a Big Mac-Passive OR telling the person politely and with confidence that you got the wrong order-Assertive.  Not always the easiest thing to do.  But the best way, indeed.

And I always confide that I am one of those people who will do the third option, but feel very nervous about it.  Tad makes fun of me at restaurants because when our server comes, and I ask for another glass of water, or some jam or ketchup, I act like I'm asking for their first born.  This is how he says I look, when I'm asking for these types of items:

I do NOT do that, by the way.  But when he does the fingers crossed joke, it not only makes me laugh, but makes me realize when I'm being all nervous about being assertive. And then instead of 'can I please have a glass of water, whenever you have big deal....' I say 'Yes, I'd like another glass of water please.'

So I'm working on it.  It's very hard for me.  I'll be honest.  I want everyone to like me.  Everyone.  But I do know, as a smart intellectual-type person that not everyone is going to like me.  I do know that. Jeez Louise! And I feel better and stronger every time I practice my assertiveness skills.  Every time I tell someone 'no'. Every time I tell someone I do not like something they did.  I realize that its part of being confident.  Not caring if everyone doesn't like you.

So anyway, I was at work, mailing some photos to one of my support group members and wrote 'DO NOT BEND' on the envelope. Then of course, I felt bad for the mail carrier. I did not want him or her to think that I was yelling.  So I fixed it. It looks like this.

See how I added the smiley face? That'll make 'em feel better!  Ha ha.  Apparently I still have lots of work to do in my self-improvement quest for assertiveness skills.  But at least I'm trying.

Enjoy some assertiveness cartoons and have a good weekend! If you want to, that is.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Back on the music scene...somewhat

I finally did it. I went to open mic. I haven't sung up on a stage of 2009?  O' Brien's pub had the Milwakee Artists Resource Network open mic night on Tuesday and I went and performed and it was lovely to do so.

I feel a need to do something new with my music. Most of my songs are really slow and mournful.  I guess I've always been moved to write when I've been sad.  But I think its time for me to write some happier, faster songs.  At the open mic, I was way out of my leauge as far as guitar playing goes, but my voice held up.  I guess, in the end, it's my voice that's REALLY my instrument.  I do love to perform.  I think it is undebatably, when I am happiest.  When Coen was three, when we travelled around Europe, I used to sing on the street with my guitar case open.  He loved coming along to that and watching people throw change in my guitar case.

So, though I have not been onstage as much as I want, I have been performing a lot at home.  It was a comment from my wise 8 year old boy, that REALLY got me thinking about changing my music.  Coen's really into play money and his new cash register he got for his birthday.  He likes to play this game where I play my guitar and he and Lucy throw play money into my hat or a bowl they put on the floor.

So we were playing, and I was singing, and Coen threw some money in my hat.  And then he looked at me and said, "Mom. If you sang some jazzier songs, you'd get a lot more money in your guitar case."

I bet he's right.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A 10,000 dollar idea

   I used to love mornings.  And now?  I am telling you, I would seriously pay someone 10,000 a year just to get my kids out the door in the mornings.  Every day, I get up at 5:20, stretch, go running, hurry back to shower, get kids up, complaining out of bed.  Tell them sixteen times to get dressed, make breakfast that's usually unappreciated, half-eaten, or ignored entirely.  Ask them twenty seven more times to get their shoes on and their backpacks on, and then leave, frustrated, to drop them off at school.

Oh, that's why I used to love mornings.  I used to get up a leisurely hour before I had to be anywhere, shower, drink coffee and listen to Bob Dylan or Sarah Harmer, look out the window, enjoy some quiet solitude and get to work on time...every day. 

Now, the two above descriptions are obviously on the extreme ends of certain kinds of mornings...Those were nor are they now the way every morning goes. But today was one of those bad ones.  I had to wake both kids up from a dead sleep and they were not happy about being upright.  I took pains to make a breakfast that both of them would like (which meant different breakfasts for each kid) and Lucy had a meltdown because Coen had star-shaped vitamins and she didn't.  She wanted star shaped vitamins. Howcome Coen got them. Whaaa haaaa haaaa..  

And then after breakfast they played, and each time I was not in the room (because I was getting us ready to go) there was an enormous fight.  I heard "Don't DO that Lucy!" "Stop it Coen!" and plenty of crying.  I was in the bathroom and saw some toy coins fly in my general direction.  When it was time to go, there were tears from both of them and I declared that there would be no more toys in the morning if this was how it was going to be and was met with more tears, which just meant more time before anyone would actually put their *&^%ing shoes on!!!!!  I got so frustrated, I excused myself to the back hallway so I wouldn't freak out in front of them.  Shutting the door behind me, I shouted out some choice words and proceeded to have some kind of manic adult tempertantrum. 

When I opened the door, Coen and Lucy were behind it and Coen was poised (in his shoes, mind you) with these wierd laser things on his fingers saying, "Don't worry, Lucy. I'll protect you!"  When I emerged, he said, "Oh! Mommy. I'm glad you're back.  When you were gone we heard some scary noises coming from somewhere!  First we heard a weird kid crying and then we heard a weird old lady!!"  I didn't tell him that the weird kid and weird old lady were actually his weird mom, freaking out in the privacy of the back  hallway. 

At any rate, they were ready to go. And so was I.

My wish is for a morning where everyone is smiling and calm. And we're all on time for where we have to be. And I drop them off like Mary Poppins, giving them kisses and floating away to work like an on-time angel.  That's were my $10,000 a year paid staff comes in. Getting my kids dressed and fed, whilst I read my magazine and take over when it is time to dole out goodbye kisses.


Monday, September 19, 2011

I'm not a mother but I play one on TV.

Today my little boy...who was conceived despite the message on the box that promised 99.9 % effectiveness..who has changed my life entirely...who makes me laugh...who makes me proud...who sometimes makes me want to pull my hair out... who sometimes makes me want to melt in a puddle of love and joy on the eight years old.

In honor of Coen's eighth birthday, I will share with you a funny story about his birth.

Labor with Coen was mostly unremarkable.  He took about 13 hours to be born.  I labored all night during which time, I walked around, kicked Tad's ass at Yahtzee, listened to Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones and Clem Snide, and breathed through my pain.  I made it through the whole labor drug free with the help of my amazing partner who was by my side sleepless all night long, a big old bouncy birthing ball, and my own determination.  My mom had told me, "As soon as you feel like you can't take any more, it will be time."  So after laboring all night long, at about 8:00 in the morning, the nurses sent our waiting parents home to get some sleep.  "It's going to be hours yet." she had said.  I thought to myself, 'I can't do this for very much longer...' and moved from the bed to the recliner.  Suddenly, I knew it. It was time.  "I am ready to push!" I said. " can't be!" the nurse said.  She checked. Sure enough.  "You'll have to get back in bed", she said, "You were right. It's time!" "Noooo", I pleaded. "Can't I just have the baby in this recliner?" 


When it was time to push, Tad held my hand, the doctor was there and the nurse was on my other side.  He had called our parents back to the hospital on their cell phones.  I took in a deep breath and then, just like the ladies in the movies, I pushed and while I pushed, I screamed dramatically.

"What are you doing?" my doctor said.
"Screaming..." I said.
"Don't scream, just push. Save your energy for pushing.  Why are you screaming?"
"That's what they do in the movies!" I said indignantly.

The doctor, the nurse and my husband...they couldn't help themselves. They laughed.

Coen was born after four big pushes. One with a scream, the rest properly. Bob Dylan was playing.  I took that little baby in my arms and said, "Hello Coen. I'm your mommy."

Happy birthday to my eight year old boy.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Transitional troubles in birthday land

Wow, I haven't blogged since my cold medicine haze last week!

Coen, my baby boy.  My meant-to-be kid conceived on 2 methods of birth control (I'm not kiddin'!) turns 8 years old tomorrow!  What?! How do I have an eight year old?

Anyway, I swear, kids' social lives rival someone in the royal family these days.  He's got school friends, neighborhood friends, family friends, friends from summer camp, and soccer...  So of course when you think of planning a birthday party, who to invite is always a dilemmna.

What we did was settle on a school friends party and a family lunch today after which all the neighborhood kids were invited over for cake.  And of course tomorrow is his real birthday and we'll do a special family dinner and dessert and MORE presents. SHEESH!

Anyway, my family is good at lots of things..but one thing we are  NOT good at is that lag time between just hanging round home and a big event like a party.  Because of the two-party weekend, we had TWO of these lag times.

Saturday, we decided we'd all ride together to pick up the subs before we went to the Urban Ecology Center for Coen's birthday party number one.  In the car, Tad and I were both tense.  Tad because these kinds of transitions always make him tense and I because we weren't sure how many parents would stick around and I knew the two of us might be in charge of 10 children for three hours.  The kids were both excited and picking up on our tension.  (WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH KIDS PICKING UP ON PARENTAL TENSION, by the way? Its really difficult!)  The two of them were fighting and finally, Tad put on a Shel Silverstein spoken word CD and they fell silent.  It was hilarious.  After quiet had settled, Tad said, "I wish someone could hypnotize me."  I looked at him and then said in a low voice, "When I clap my hands, you will be filled with a sense of calm and peace. You will feel that you can not think of any other thing that you'd rather be doing than hosting an 8 year old's birthday party" *clap!*

Sunday we had an hour before party #2 started and the kids were fighting each and every second we walked away from them at all.  I found myself asking them, how is it that you cannot be left alone for TWO SECONDS without someone screaming or crying?!  But Tad told me (wisely) that I should just focus on them (even though I wanted to focus on doing the dishes, cleaning up the kitchen and getting some party food ready) and I did.  When they began playing nicely, I went in the kitchen and started the readying process.  When I returned to the playroom, I found Coen and Lucy with an acorn that they'd found, attempting to bust it open with a scissors!  "You cannot cut open an acorn with a scissors." I said.  "What CAN you open an acorn with?" Coen asked.  "A hammer?"

Suddenly the house was party-ready and Coen and Lucy were smashing acorns open on the porch with toy wooden hammers. 

Oh, family hood.  Whether through hypnosis or acorn smashing, we'll eventually get better at lag times.

The birthday boy with his cake

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Blogging under the influence

Of Nyquil...that is.

I am sick. I have a cold. And I'm not usually such a baby about a cold, so this one must be a bad one. I am definitely being a baby.  I'm even thinking of calling in sick tomorrow.  I'm actually going so far as to dread a lot of things, assuming I'm going to feel this way forever.  Tad was out tonight so I was in charge of getting both the kids to bed. Coen had to go to the bathroom and wanted me to come down with him in the middle of Lucy's story. I paid him fifty cents to go by himself...  What a racket!

So last night I took Nyquil.  I only allow myself 2 days in a row of Nyquil and then I cut myself off. I think I like it too much.  I've never been drunk in my life...did you know that, readers?  And so a Nyquil buzz is as high as I get. I took it again tonight.  Maybe I should see if we have any Pink Floyd videos.

I also tried some Yin Chiao. My coworker gave it to me. She told me I should take four at work, four before bed and I'd wake up good as new.  I also took some sinus medicine this morning which has made me so thirsty all day I feel like I'm in the dessert with a stuffy head and a fever.  yeesh.  Then tonight I took my second dose of Yin Chiao, did the neti pot treatment twice and then slammed a shot of Nyquil.  I'm like some kind of cold medicine junkie!

I'll let you know how I feel in the morning.  Too bad I won't know which of these methods did the trick!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

All the contractors think I'm so funny!

We're having some work done on our house.  We got a new roof.  And I must admit, I was so mad about having to spend all that money on a thing as boring as a roof, but now that its done, I really think it looks pretty.  The reason we had to get the roof is that we had leaking and a lot of paint and plaster on our walls was peeling and cracking and falling on our heads!  Our roofer was a really nice guy and I tried to stand outside with him occasionally like Tad did and talk roof stuff, but it always seemed like he was amused with me.  And I could never really think of anything to say anyway. I must have roofer social awkwardness.

Right now we are having a second bathroom installed upstairs where Lucy's closet was.  We had our consultation with our bathroom guy I really like him.  He's really nice.  And I feel like I can really chat it up with him--which is different than the roofer.  I couldn't figure it out but then when he was coming in our house the other day I heard him saying, "Did you see Lady Gaga on MTV last night?"  So then it made sense.  The bathroom is coming together and I'm so excited to get it done.  I asked our builder to also fix the peeling paint int he stairwell.  Yesterday, when I came home from work, he informed me that when he pulled back the drywall, he saw that there were carpenter ants in the wall. Durg!

So I told him that I am a shortcut kind of person and I like things to get done fast, not necessarily right and couldn't he just spray a little ant stuff on the other side of the drywall and close it back up? And he laughed and said he could do that but he couldn't guarantee that the ants were only in that part of the wall.  And come to think of it, we've had ants going marching all over our house all summer ten by ten!  Hurrah. Not.

So I talked to my very handy neighbor and my husband who is not very handy but who likes things to be done correctly, no matter how long they take, and they convinced me to call the exterminator.  I called our bathroom guy back to tell him that I was peer pressured and he laughed really hard.  He said "spouse pressure or peer pressure?" And I thought for a moment and said, "Well..both!"  And he laughed.  Then I told him that the bug guy would come on Wednesday and could work with them as long as it was okay with them. and then he laughed again and said "bug guy!  Goodbye Alie."  And we hung up.  I mean, I don't know why he thinks I'm so funny. I mean, I know I'm funny, but he thinks I'm funny when I'm not being funny on purpose!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Delusions. I mean... Affirmations.

So, I have recognized recently, that one of my biggest faults...and strengths is my energy.  I know that those who have lived with me have said that they felt like they were living with a tornado.  I move fast, I talk fast, I work fast...I do everything fast.  This leads to great efficiency at work, however, its not so great when it comes to connecting with people I love...which is number one on my list of important things to do.

I tried meditation, but whoah, am I bad at it.  So I got myself a CD of meditations that I can listen to and be guided through.  I do one every night.  I think its helping me not be so frenzied...  and slow down and just BE in each moment that I'm in.

One of these meditations is Affirmations.  You quietly relax your body and repeat after the guy on the CD.  The hardest one for me to say and then connect with my heart is "I have done everything I can do for today."  I NEVER feel that way.  And I made up my own affirmations too...

I am a calm and peaceful person
I am a gentle and patient mother

Now those are hard.  I am a peaceful person but not calm....I am a gentle and patient mother a lot of the time, but certainly not all of the time.  Well, patience is definitely not my strong suit.

So anyway, we were out shopping at Lowes with our two kids (not on the top of my list of fun things to do) and we had to put them in desperate carts so they wouldn't touch each other and then they were fighting immediately upon being in the car again and I was getting really frustrated.

So I took a deep breath...and said aloud, "I love shopping with my children.  This is an enjoyable and relaxing activity. I'm having a nice day with my family."

Tad looked at me. "What are you doing?"

"Affirmations!" I said brightly.

"Don't you mean delusions?" Tad said with a smirk.

Yeah, they were delusions...but I am finding that if I repeat something aloud, I believe it...or it becomes closer to the truth anyway.  And its so better than repeating, "I hate this. My kids are annoying me. etc..." Which is what ends up happening.

So we had a good laugh about my affirmations and it DID change the mood in the car.  It works!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Whatta weekend!

Twas the weekend of Alie!  

Friday night I went to Miller Park with my coworkers and we tailgated and then watched the Brewers play the Phillies.  One of my favorite things to do at Brewer games is sing the song "Never Surrender" by 80's rocker Cory Hart whenever current Brewer Cory Hart goes up to bat.  I sing it as loud as I can.  And I cheer for the Brewers loud too. People get so mad at me.  There were lots of people in the row in front of me turning around with such annoyance, I wish I could show you on this here blog, how they looked! And one girl even turned around and said to me with much disdain, "Sit DOWN!"  Jeeeez! I say, if you can't yell at a ball game where can you yell?

Saturday I picked up my friend Jen at 8:30 a.m. and the two of us drove to Chicago and parked my car at a metered spot and went to the Renegade Craft Fair.  whoah.  It was shopping heaven for me, let me tell you.  It was weird though, I was thinking that I could get some early Christmas shopping done, but really all the stuff that was there was my style, not necessarily anyone in my family's.  I wanted to call everyone and just them know that I'd be taking care of all my gifts and they could just wrap them later!   Jen and I decided to walk the length of the fair and then walk it a second time to buy things.  We were halfway up the second side of the fair (on our second lap) and we both looked up, thinking we were close to the end.  It was like one of those halls of mirrors...  Tents!! As far as the eye could see. So we happily admitted we were both out of steam and went home.  It was a lovely walking, talking and shopping time, though!!

Speaking of shopping... TODAY I got to go to a clothing swap at my neighbors.  Lots of women came and we all hung and displayed our stuff...then by raffle drawing four people get to go first, getting 30 seconds to choose 3 items.  And you go on like that for a few rounds and then it's a free-for-all.  I had such fun!
We finished the weekend with a European themed dinner with friends.  The children went bongos playing together and I tried to reel them in by having each kid try speaking in a British accent and then singing "She'll be coming round the mountain" in a British accent.  It did nothing more than rile them up further, but it sure was amusing.

Lucy's chariot got stolen today...the thing I pull her in behind my bike...  She was very mad that a "robber" came and took it.  And our trip to cranky Al's was very cranky indeed.  She had a tantrum about something or other and I had to take her home.  No doughnut for either of us.  Durg!  But on the walk home I repeated.... "this is still my weekend and I'm going to continue enjoying it..."  I did.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The birthday enthusiasm continuum

If you attend a child's birthday party, you might find a child who cries at the sound of a room full of folks singing "happy birthday", even if it's in their honor.  You might also find a child who is grinning ear to ear, face flushed, thrilled to be the center of such lovely attention.

It seems that this is the same with adults.

Take me, for example.  I love my birthday. I let people know weeks in advance that my birthday is coming.  At work, I bring in a treat and email the entire staff to let them know that it is my birthday and how old I am.  I throw myself a party, order myself a cake (If I want these things, I HAVE to, I'm a grown up! Don't scoff.) I love my birthday. I love the attention thrown my way.

Look at me! I'm like a kid on her birthday.  Oh. Wait...
Now, Tad, on the other hand.  He is fine with his birthday.  But he certainly doesn't want any attention about it. He would prefer people not know, but he is fine with a little celebration and a special dinner and cake for him at home with his family.  I asked him, "Do you REALLY not like the attention, or are you just SAYING that you don't?"  He told me. He REALLY doesn't like it. I, personally, don't get it, but that's okay. So we gave him a small to-do at home. Just the four of us.

Tad and the kids enjoying his birthday cake after a quiet dinner. 

Now, my coworker Harvey's birthday is tomorrow. He has made it abundantly clear that he wants nothing to do with the rigmarole.  He said that he will be very unhappy if anyone does anything.  He made such a point of letting people know this that his coworkers decided to really go overboard about it.  His cubicle was decorated, streamers and balloons everywhere!  And they got him a cake. At the last minute, I had an idea.  I thought we could put something on his cake to match his thoughts about all the celebration.

So that's it, I guess. The birthday continuum.  In closing, I will share with you the birthday song my parents always sang to people (sung like a funeral dirge).  I sang it to Harvey today.

Happy Birthday
Oh Happy Birthday 
Sickness, Sadness and Despair
People Dying Everywhere
Happy Birthday

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Idioms, literally

I think it is just hilarious when people use an idiom but then also say 'literally'. Today I received an email stating that someone was 'literally stuck between a rock and a hard place'.  And I had to laugh.  Even though its not very nice to laugh at someone who's stuck between a rock and a hard place because being stuck between a rock and a hard place is a very bad place to be indeed.  Obviously.  See below.

She was literally stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Also, enjoy these other drawings I did, based on other idioms I've heard people say with the word "literally" where "figuratively" should be.  Oh how I love it.  Literally.

I am literally all thumbs when it comes to gardening.

My intern literally bent over backwards to help me.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First day of school

Today was Lucy's first ever day of school!  Coen had his first day of second grade and I was a rotten mother and didn't photograph it! So I photographed today, all around. 
Lucy was very nervous about starting.  She's been nervous about it for weeks.  This morning, when we were driving to school, Coen said to her, "Lucy, I will be there and Daddy will be there so you'll be fine. I told all my friends that I might not be able to play with them this week, because I might be playing with my little sister at recess this week."

Yesterday, when I was talking to my mom about Lucy's first day, she said, "Don't forget to call me after you drop her off and tell me how it went!  But don't call me until after your done crying." 
"I'm not going to cry." I said.

When I said goodbye to Lucy she cried.  And cried. Her teacher took her hand and I walked away telling her I love her and I would get her at lunchtime.  Then I got in the car. And I cried.
And I called my mom.

But she was a brave girl and when I called at around 10:00 to see how she was, she was playing happily in her classroom.  We went back to pick up Coen in the afternoon.  I am so excited to have two Highland Community School kids.  And so proud of my son for being such a wonderful big brother. And proud of my daughter for being so brave.

Tonight, at bedtime, Lucy was exhausted.  She was crying about something, standing next to her bookshelf and I asked her to pick out her books and get into bed.  She screamed at me, "I'm not moving. I'm not going anywhere ever again! Not even Baba and Papa's.  I'm just going to stand here forever until I grow up!"

I told her I knew a story about some people who stood in one spot forever and never moved. She stopped her rant, wiped her eyes. "Huh." She said.  "Do you want to hear it?" I asked?  She nodded.  I went into Coen's room to grab the Dr. Seuss book in which the Zax is.  The north going zax and the south going zax stopped in their tracks. Neither will take a step to the east nor a step to the west. 

When I returned to her room, she was all nestled in bed waiting for me.  I had to laugh.  And then read her The Zax.

Of course the world didn't stand still.  The world grew.
In a couple of years, the new highway came through
And they built it right over those two stubborn Zax
And left them there, standing un-budged in their tracks.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Plog bost

A couple years ago, Tad and I realized that our dinners were to hurried and harried with little to no recognition that we were sitting down together as a family or even that we were eating.  I remember us making eye contact as Coen took a bite of something and then ran between the living room and our room, and Lucy spilled her milk and ran for a towel and Coen tried to help her and she screamed.   Then they both sat for another two seconds, two bites of food and were up again looking for a stuffed animal.  We sat down and talked that night and and decided those folks who pray before meals have something there.
Tad and I are not pray-ers really but we decided on a ritual that would slow us all down a bit. Every night we'd each say something that we appreciated about our day and take a moment to say to the universe, "Thank you for our food."

Well, this has evolved into a practice of Tad or Coen singing (to the tune of 'the best part of waking up is folgers in your cup') "the best part of _______'s day..." and then the person fills in the blanks. At the end, we all stand up on our chairs and say loudly "Thank you for our food...and our _______(whatever we were thankful for).  It's good fun.

Anyway, tonight I was trying to sing the part and ended up singing "The parts part of Tad's day..." and then Tad  made fun of me for screwing up the words.  Now, don't you worry..I deserve it.  When people screw up words, I think it is one of the funniest things in the world and I'm the first to poke fun. Relentlessly. Here are some of my favorite word screw ups I've heard and not forgotten.

"Well, I've eaten all the pomegranates I can eaten."  (said by my sister, Beth)

"Now we don't have to bo gack home!" (my friend Brenda in the Peace Corps)

(A conversation between my friend Stephanie and I)
Steph: This is a great candy shop--you can try the fudge!
Alie: Really?
Steph: Yeah, they'll give you a nipple!

Once when I was working at a deli, I was talking about sandwich specials--among them, rotisserie chicken.
Me: And we also have rotickerie chickie

I'm sure there are millions more if I searched my memory banks. But that's what I got for now!

 Nood Ghight!

Monday, September 5, 2011

I'm bringing home a baby bumblebee...won't my mommy be so proud of me...


 Today Coen got his first bee sting.  This is interesting because he has been obsessed with bees all summer.  He's gotten documentaries on bees, read books on bees and studied bees in their natural environments.  He's pet their backs, hand them land on him and watched them on the flowers for hours.  It has been many a time that Coen has yelled out "Mommy! The bees are pollinating our yard!" Or whatever yard we happen to be in. 

So today, I was in the house getting Lucy ready to go outside and I heard Coen crying.  I ran out and he yelled, "Mommy, I got stung by a bee! Oh that darn bee! Why did he have to sting me? I didn't do anything to him. That stupid bee!" 
"You said a bad word!" Lucy interjected.
"Oh that darn bee. I have the worst luck. Oh that bee. I hate that bee!" Coen continued through his tears.
"You said another bad word!" Lucy said incredulously!
"Honey, I think when someone gets stung by a bee they are entitled to a bad word or two. It's okay." I said.

So Coen and I went in the kitchen, followed by Lucy who suddenly had a very painful "Squito bite" to show us. I made a paste of baking soda and water and we spread it on his thumb where the bee had stung him as my mom did for me when I was first stung.  I told Coen that he was very lucky as many kids have gotten multiple bee stings this summer--kids who are afraid of and stay away from bees...but he--who has been around bees, touching bees and following bees all summer long, got his FIRST bee sting at almost 8 years old!  That made him very lucky indeed.  I told him also that this was his FIRST bee sting.  How exciting. He will remember it forever.

When I got my first bee sting, I told him as he climbed on to my lap, I was also around his age. And my daddy had taken me to an art fair.  It was very fancy, as I recall and people were milling about sipping wine and I got a kiddie cocktail. And pizza.  I had pizza sauce on my thumb and a bee landed on me. I watched it for a moment and then it stung me. And I screamed the loudest scream that's ever been screamed at an art fair and all the fancy people with their wines and their spritzers and their monocles and evening gowns... (well maybe they didn't have monocles or gowns, but they looked very fancy and quite aghast at my volume) looked over at the screaming little girl. And my dad took me home and I sat at the kitchen table while my mom made me a paste of baking soda and water to spread on my sting and take the poison out.

And Coen calmed down and I had to giggle at Lucy's surprise over his "bad words" and how he will always remember his first bee sting on his thumb, just as I do.

The artwork at the top of my blog today is by Kat Powell..She also has a blog with her really cool artwork. Here's the link.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The three doctors.

We had a long day today.  Brunch at Tad's parents at 10:00 a.m. and a party at his cousin's house starting at 1:00 p.m.  We got home around 7:00 and Tad brought the kids upstairs to change into jammies while I unloaded the car.  I think both of us were anxious to get them off to bed, but the kids were so happy to be home, they launched immediately into imaginative play the second they got upstairs. When I arrived on the scene, a full swing 'doctor' game was in play.

Lucy was the patient apparently and Coen gave her his prized bicentennial quarter to use as payment.  Lucy instructed us that all three of us were her doctors.  Without hesitation, Tad said, "I'm Doctor Fruit!" "I'm Doctor Frack!" I said.  Coen jumped off the rocking chair. "I'm Doctor Frank!"  "Doctor Fruit, Doctor Frack and Doctor Frank, at your service." Tad said, "What seems to be your problem?"  Lucy sat on the floor. "I have a bee sting, a spider bite and a lobster bite!" she said, showing us all the ailments.  We each fixed one and she gave us our quarter as payment.

Then Coen instructed Lucy to lie down on her bed. "Pretend that she's on the cart and I'm pushing her into the emergency room!!" Coen shouted.  "Doctors! I'm bringing a patient in! It's medical!"  Tad looked at me, and in his best TV voice, said, "Doctor Fruit, Doctor Frank and Doctor Frack: This time, it's medical."

Coen inspected our patient and told us, "She has two broken legs, two broken arms and two broken heads!" Lucy started kicking her legs.  Coen jumped up, grabbing his quarter. "And she's sitting on a bicentennial!"

Well, there you go.  Tad and I wanted to end the night, but we let the kids play and it was hilarious.  Lucy started taking off her pants while telling us that she wanted to be a doctor too.  Tad asked her what her name was and she said "Dr. Pantsy-pants!"

So, Dr. Pantsy-pants is tucked into bed.  Dr. Frank is reading. And Dr. Fruit and Dr. Frack are now going to enjoy some dessert and watch a movie.

Good night.  And try not to get bit by any lobsters, bees or spiders!

Welcome to it!

 Where are we going and why am I in this hand basket?

Welcome to my new blog.  I have finished my year of living simpler and though I continue to do so, I am ready for a new subject. 

I used to be hilarious.  I know, I'm pretty funny now, but before kids, family, becoming a home-owning, full-time-working mother, master's degree having, returned Peace Corps volunteer....bonafide grown-up...I was a lot more hilarious.  Weird, funny, strange things happened to me EVERY DAY! 

Now...they still do.  They do! But lost in the shuffle of raising kids and working hard and fostering a relationship with my partner, I have forgotten to notice them.

So that's what this blog is about.  Funny stuff happening to me (and sometimes the people around me) every day...  and I'm going to notice it. And write about it.

Oh and the quote above?

It's on a sticker that is on my guitar case--can't remember where I bought it. But I love this quote.  Not because I think we ARE all going to hell in a hand basket.  I have no idea where we're going. But I love the silliness of it.  And I just picture someone waking up inside a big hand basket, just shocked and confused, off to hell in a hand basket. 

I hope you will join me in this new blog.  And enjoy!!!