Friday, December 29, 2006

Happy Birthday Granny!

When I was a little girl, I would sometimes go and spend time with my Granny and Gramps who lived "in the country." "In the country" is Rosebud, Missouri, an idyllic little town where everyone knows everyone (and their business, good and bad), and most folks live on gravel roads and drive pick-up trucks. Gramps was a pretty typical gramps, and we kids loved him and I'm sure aggravated him while he puttered around in his workshop and fed the catfish in his two lakes.

My Gran, though, she is someone very special.

My Gran does all the typical grandma-type things like make awesome cookies and other baked goods, dishing up solid, hearty meals and always ready with a cold beer and a delicious snack (much to the detriment of many of our waistlines). She doles out hugs a lot, and always has a twinkle in her eye. She has the greenest thumb of anyone I've ever known, including those "famous" gardners on TV. My Gran could put them to shame, and can grow just about anything out of nothing at all.

But my Gran also wears Levi jeans and Keds, and is more active than me most days. In short, my Gran rocks.

One of my fondest memories from my childhood is spending a week or two (or three!) every summer with Granny in the country. She had an awesome little cabin that had all the modern amenities except a really good antenna to pick up KMOX. None the less, she listened to the Mighty 'Mox every morning, and whenever I hear a static-y AM station I smile and think about Gran and remember crawling out of a warm bed in the mornings and huddling by her wood-burning stove while she made me a yummy breakfast.

Gran always kept a little glass jar of lemon drops in her kitchen, usually by the stove. I think the combination of being near the heat and having only the two of us to eat them (my cousin Jen ate Reese's and my sister, later, ate yet another kind of candy) led to their usually being mushy on the outside and hard in the middle. That's still the way I prefer my lemon drops, but I can't quite recreate whatever it was she did to make them that way.

When I graduated from college, Gran gave me a little glass jar of my own with several bags of lemon drops. She told me to keep them on my desk at work and it would help me to "make friends." That was 10 years ago, and I still have the same glass jar on my desk, although the desk has changed and the jar has been refilled countless times (always, always with lemon drops). She was right: lemon drops do help you make friends! Unfortunately for my co-workers over the last 10 years, I've created a few lemon drop-addicts along the way.

Once, when I was young and visiting Gran and my cousin Jen was along, it snowed and everything froze and we got bored with our usual antics (which included hiding in Gran's clothes dryer, and on top of her storage fridge, and putting Milk Duds in her laundry detergent or stealing the onion she was going to use for dinner and riding it around on our fire engine...come to think of it, it's a wonder she ever let me visit again after that stuff...) and went outside to play. Gran sternly told us we were not to go near the lakes.

You can guess what we did. I'm not sure if we were stupid or just young (probably a little of both), but we both reckoned that the lake was frozen solid enough to hold both of us for a little impromptu skating session. I'm not sure how long we were out there, and no harm was done, but we smugly returned to Gran's cabin secure in the knowledge that we would never be caught. Later that afternoon Gran checked the lake and found all our tracks in the snow on the ice. See statement above about being young and stupid. Ooooo, we got in loads of trouble over that one and never did it again, and yet I honestly have no horrible memories of her disciplining us. She's just that good.

Lots of things have changed since then. She and Gramps sold the cabin and moved into town, then sold that house and moved up here to the Lou. Gramps passed away (he was the second husband she had to bury), and Uncle Kenny, too. Gran moved in with her youngest daughter and became GG, which is short for Great Granny.

However, Gran has remained true to herself (she taught my mother, who taught me: "To thine own self be true") and to her family, and is still a weensy little firecracker. You don't want to mess with my Gran...she's small but mighty. Her nickname years ago was Powerful Katrinka, and I can see why. She's always been one heck of a caregiver, and gives so much of her heart to her family that it amazes me to see her give even more when a new member like Zozo arrives.

I am so blessed to have Gran be my Gran, and now to be Zozo's GG. She serves as an inspiration to me daily, and has enriched my life more than she will ever realize. I get from her my love of laughter, my adoration for a good book, and my fondness for stories about the past. She taught me, probably without even trying, that history is important. Now, if I could only get that green thumb...

Happy Birthday little Gran! We love you!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A whole lot of smiting goin' on

I am so insanely grouchy this morning. Nothing major, really, just a whole bunch of little things that all pile up to make me one crabby girl.

Don't you hate it when you are upset about something, and there is really no one to blame, so you just kinda pull something out of thin air and choose a person to be angry at? Then you can't get over it? It's all circumstantial, really. I mean, this person didn't set out to cause the events that led up to the thing that made me angry and upset. Still, he played a major role in how it all fell out.

Sigh. Okay, well, I can't be any more vague and general about it, nor will I post who this particular person is because it's ridiculous, really, and at this point I'm just getting PO'd at myself for ruminating on it and not being able to move past it.

Also, Claychester Cleaners on Manchester has been added to my "Things and People to Smite" list. They lost my favorite skirt right before Christmas, and as of this morning they still haven't found it. Of course, this is a skirt that is several years old and so is virtually irreplaceable. Of course. It also happens to be the only one of my skirts that I fit into at this point, which is a major bummer and means that I can't even have another favorite skirt unless I go out and buy one. Which I won't do because I am in the process of losing weight and refuse to spend good money on a skirt when I have a closet full of skirts I'm on the verge of being able to actually fit into. I'm to stop back in tomorrow morning and talk to a manager. Yeah, talk to a manager. Talk. They'll be lucky if all I do is talk.

To top it all off, the worthless employees of Claychester Cleaners could not care less that they have lost an article of clothing. When M went to pick up the order, they told him they didn't even know what it was they lost. He had to call me and ask what the missing piece was. After being told it was a long black skirt, size 10, they handed him size 18 black pants with an elastic waist. He told them it was wrong, they argued and said that they had to be mine as it was the only thing they had without a tag, and he brought them home. One woman had actually said, "But that's not right" and the other woman responded, "Well, let him go with it, and if it's wrong we'll deal with it later." Nope, you're gonna deal with it RIGHT NOW. I immediately went back up there and, as calmly as I could, explained in great detail what my skirt looks like, and gave multiple phone numbers where I could be reached once they found it. Never got a call.

I have had my drivers license and credit cards stolen. I have had American Airlines lose an entire piece of luggage, and all it's contents, forever. You'd think I'd be used to this and be able to manage my anger and frustration a little better by now. Nope. Still pissed off as hell.

I need to work on that emotional intelligence thing.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Merry (belated) Christmas!

So it appears that having a boatload of family obligations around the holidays is not conducive to updating one's blog. Many apologies.

We've run here and there, and exchanged gifts and hugs and laughs. It's been fantastic, and quite frankly, I'm exhausted.

Gearing up for the Beano Wedding, though, so there's no rest for the wicked. I mean weary. No rest for the weary. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Tons of thanks to everyone for a great holiday season! love you all and are so grateful to have you in our lives.

Unfortunately I am buried under a mound of work and have no time to type anything of any importance. Will try to blog later from home, but don't hold your breath.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Santa Claus: Friend...or Torture Device?

Took Zozo to see Santa Claus tonight. Or rather, took Zozo to be completely terrified by an old guy in a funny red suit. Now, this is the very same Santa who held her while she slept last year, and when she woke up drowsily and looked at him she drooled and smiled and went back to sleep.

This year...not so much.

We got smiles on the way up to Santa, but I knew there were going to be issues as the closer we got the tighter her grip on my sweater got. Her little legs started clenching around my torso. Uh oh. This isn't good. After a moment or two of elated exclamations by both of us, trying to convince her that Yay! Santa is FUN! we finally decided to drop her and run for it. We warned the photographer, "This isn't going to be pretty."

Santa, bless his heart, tried his best and was jolly through it all.

Zoe, bless her heart, screamed like he was pulling her arms and legs off.

They took three, and we chose the best of the bunch. At least her little dress looks cute.
Zoe & Santa Claus, Christmas 2006

This is one of those rights of passage for parents with small children, isn't it? Do we pass? Do we get to move on to the next one? Test 2: The Easter Bunny from Hell.

Insufficient EGR lift...huh?

Picked up the Zoemobile yesterday afternoon, all fixed with no "check engine" light, and $270 lighter. Turns out the Zoemobile had insufficient EGR lift. EGR would be exhaust gas recirculation. I'm sure that clears things right up for you. Apparently EGR allows the exhaust to re-burn through the engine before being expelled, which makes for cleaner emissions. Some valve had to be replaced, plus my intake manifold had to be cleaned of excess carbon build-up. I hate it when my intake manifold has excess carbon, so I'm much relieved to have been cleaned.

Turns out that since I'm over 100,000 miles on the Zoemobile, there's a whole check-list of important maintenance that should be done, like replacing the timing chain and such. So, on January 4, the Zoemobile goes to the car spa for an overhaul. (Mark that on your calendars...that's the day Amy spazzes out again because she doesn't have her car.) Talked to one of the young service writers at the dealer and he does detailing on the side. Gave me a quote of $125 to clean/condition all the leather and detail the inside, plus take care of a bunch of the exterior dings, chips and scratches mentioned in my previous post. Haven't run that past M yet, but I figure the Zoemobile deserves some TLC after 8 years and 105,000+ miles of faithful servitude. Plus, it's just looking kinda cruddy overall, what with being a virtual home on wheels for the three of us.

While I was waiting for them to finish up the car, I wandered up through the showroom. Always like to check out the new merchandise. First up: the Honda Odyssey, their mini-van. For about a nanosecond I looked at it and wondered if it would be easier with Zozo and all the stuff we haul around. I walked over and peered inside...nice interior. Then I looked down the side of the thing, and even though it's not big as far as vans go, it is WAY bigger than my little sedan. Alarm bells went off in my head. "No way! NO WAY! Do NOT succumb to the 'you can haul your entire house in here' enchantment of the mini-van!" I pictured myself driving it, shuddered, and headed toward the sleek new black Accord parked across from it. No offense to mini-van just ain't my bag, baby.

Climbed into the new Accord and thought, "Oh yeah, this is way more my speed." Interior is great, but I didn't see a port for the iPod. Big negative. If I'm gonna shell out $27,000 for a car, I want to be able to easily listen to my tunes. I don't know if you can get one, but I was looking at the top-of-the-line model, the V6EX, and it wasn't there. I did get a little high off the new-car-new-leather smell, though. I was just sinking into the whole, "I could get used to this" reverie, remembering that at one point my car did indeed smell just like this, when I heard my name, or a variation of it anyway, paged over the intercom, and I was forced to head back to the service bay to get my non-new-smelling car.

I suppose at this point I shouldn't gripe about the fact that my car doesn't smell like new leather any more, and just be thankful that it doesn't smell bad. I left a banana peel in there for about a day too long once, and that was pretty rank, but it eventually dissipated and since then I've been relatively stink-free.

Went to Target last night with M and Zozo to pick up a few things and a nice lady named Vanessa gave us two little mesh bags with rubber duckies and froggies for Zozo. She had purchased them for her boyfriend to give his nephews, but then he dumped her so she decided to give them to our adorable child instead.

Things like this make me believe in the spirit of Christmas again. (Not the dumping part, mind you, but rather the generosity of Vanessa to give a little gift to a child she doesn't know.) Merry Christmas Vanessa, and good luck finding a better guy!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Zoemobile is sick :-(

Well, the Zoemobile has had a "check engine" light on for almost two weeks now, which means it's something other than a loose gas cap. This is unfortunate, as the Zoemobile is an integral part of our lives and is generally very greatly missed when out of commission.

She's at 105,000 miles though, and hasn't skipped a beat thus far, so she's worth the $67 diagnostic check (which is really a big rip-off according to M, who says that the check is a matter of plugging a PDA-like gadget into the car and seeing what it says is wrong).

At first I was quite distraught at the idea of not having my car today. I mean, my car is like an extension of me at this point. It's so gosh-darned reliable (thank you Honda!) that I never even have to think about it. I get in, turn it on and go. And go and go and go. It's driven all over the place in the last couple weeks getting ready for Christmas. I love my car. Love love love it. Love it so much why don't I marry it (to quote my dear friend Saara).

There are many reasons why I love the Zoemobile. I mean, beyond that whole reliable and safe and gets good gas mileage stuff. It's comfortable. It's powerful (we sprung for the V6 baby!). It's loaded with amenities (digital climate control, moon-roof, etc.). And the best part? It's now almost 8 years old with 105,000 miles, which means that even though it looks good from a distance it's got loads of little dings and chips and scrapes, so I'm able to relax and not worry about getting new dings and chips and scrapes. The worst part about buying a new car, except for the hefty monthly payments, is that you're so anal retentive about your new baby you get seriously torqued when someone door dings you at the grocery store. I don't have to worry about that any more. My car has character.

I love the Zoemobile because it's carted us all over the place. We've taken it to Ohio. Twice. It's gone to Starved Rock State Park up near Chicago, and brought us back soaking wet after we got caught hiking in a rain storm (we had to bail water off the leather seats upon arrival in the Lou). It took us to Chicago for my birthday years ago, so M could treat me to the Ansel Adams at 100 exhibit at the Chicago Institute of Art. It's been to Columbia, Missouri a time or two, and lots of places in between and the opposite direction.

And I love it because it's the car that brought Zozo home (hence becoming the Zoemobile) from the hospital after she was born.

Through all this, the only times the Zoemobile has ever been out of commission is when she's needed her consumables replenished or replaced (oil, brakes, tires, etc.).

So, I was a bit forlorn when the Huey's Courtesy Shuttle drove me away from the service bay, leaving my little Zoemobile behind. I'm worried about the car, but I'm also worried about myself. I'm one of those control-freak people (I know, hard to believe) who wigs out every time she doesn't have a car. Car-pooling with M didn't work because of that particular idiosyncrasy of mine. I can't stand feeling like I'm "stranded."

I sat in the Courtesy Shuttle and started playing The Checklist Game/What if? in my mind. "What's in the car I might need? Stroller. Pack 'n play. Car seat. Two Rams hats that were the give-away from the Monday night game two weeks ago. My jean jacket. Scarf. My kick-ass tripod. Oh no...there's a big pile of dirty tissues on the driver's side floorboard from when I mopped up the rain off the door after talking to Mom yesterday morning...gross! I can't believe I forgot to throw them away before turning the car in! How embarrassing!"

That's Part I. Part II consists of "What if the car doesn't get done today? What if we need to drive Zozo somewhere and we don't have the car seat? Will we need the stroller before the car is done? The pack 'n play? What if it's a really serious problem and we have to shell out major amounts of money to fix it? What if they ask me to run and get lunch today and I have to say no because my car is in the shop? What if I have a tripod emergency and can't get to it because it's in the trunk of my car that is in the shop?"

Seriously. Who has tripod emergencies? No one I know. Well, maybe a professional photographer, which I most decidedly am not. Haven't used the tripod in a couple weeks, and have no plans to in the immediate future, but here I am thinking, "What if I need my tripod?"

Then I decided to take a few deep breaths, lean back, and look at the houses going by. I saw houses I haven't seen before, all decorated for Christmas with pretty wreaths and sparkly lights. I saw several scenes I'd like to go back and shoot (with or without a tripod). I decided that I would take this chance of being without the Zoemobile to just catch my breath and relax. After all, I'm not going anywhere any time soon.

Well, at least before 3:30 when the Zoemobile is supposed to be done.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm too sexy for my cane

Every once in awhile you see something that you think is absolutely hilarious, and you say to yourself, "I wish I had the camera." I had one of those moments last weekend at the mall.

We were at the Galleria (which, by the way, did an awesome job remodeling the Food Court and installing a very family-friendly area, including the best public diaper-changing station in the St. Louis region) for some Christmas shopping. We were ambling along, talking and discussing the gift list, and I spied something that made me just crack up laughing.

There was a little old curmudgeonly man with a cane taking a breather in front of Victoria's Secret. He used the ledge outside the display window to sit down. What he didn't realize (or maybe he did, who knows) was that he was sitting directly in front of, and a little under, the giant four-foot lighted sign that says, "SEXY."

Last night's printing tasks were accomplished quickly and easily, without having to re-install drivers, without having to re-boot, without having to re-load the same sheet of paper four times. Success! Oh wait, just remembered, I did have a spot of trouble with my weensy photo printer, the one dedicated to 4x6s, which required re-installing the driver and re-booting, but this was extremely easy and didn't elicit any expletives or help from M.

Leaving the house this morning, I was sitting at the stoplight waiting to turn left onto Manchester when I saw a silver Caddie turning on to my street. Here were my thoughts: "Huh, that looks like Mom's car. Wow, she looks like Mom. Hey, that is Mom!" She saw me, too, and gave me this look she has that means, "I'm up to something." Whipped the car around and went back, of course, because I know how sneaky my mom can be (she's where I get it from), and caught her in the driveway. She was leaving Christmas window clings for Zozo! How cute is that?! So, thanks Mama, for leaving surprise Christmas window clings for Zozo, and for BSing with me in my driveway for a few minutes this morning. Hope you enjoy your Crazy Bowls lunch!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I smite thee: Epson Tech Support!

Last night, which was planned to be highly productive and actually enjoyable, turned out to be not so much.

New ink cartridge in the 2200 photo printer, and yours truly, in her infinite wisdom, decided to try Matte Black instead of Photo Black (see a post from months ago about the different blacks in photography) for the first time ever, right before Christmas. Supposedly you can just switch your Photo Black cartridge with a Matte Black cartridge and print right along. That's what the evil tech support people at Epson would tell you.

Here's a hint for you: screaming at the on-line diagnostic tool "That doesn't work you flipping piece of ^%#*!" doesn't help.

M and I spent a goodly portion of our evening trying to get my printer to print, which we thought was entirely possible given that it had just been printing merrily along the night before.

Turns out that when you switch your Photo Black cartridge to Matte Black, your customized profile pre-sets in your print dialog box no longer work.

I'm pretty sure this means nothing to the majority of you reading this, so suffice it to say that it was an idiot rookie mistake that I only realized after going off the Epson site, googling my issue, and having the fine folks at The Luminous Landscape tell me what to do. Funny how that works, isn't it? You spend hundreds of dollars on a piece of equipment and the manufacturer can't help you, but another user whom you don't even know can post a quick little "Oh yeah, and don't forget to do this" and solve your whole issue.

Many thanks to M for prying me off the Epson web site and insisting that I google. (Me: "The answer has to be here somewhere! It's Epson's own site, for Pete's sake!" M: "Just google it already! You keep reading the same things over and over, and they're not helping!")

Today's lunch break will be spent frolicking all over Brentwood and Clayton again, getting more Christmas presents. We keep whittling away at it, but it seems like we never really get anywhere. It's sort of like when I make tabouli (mmmm, tabouli) and it's in a giant bowl and no matter how much I eat, there is still more and more and more left. Only I love tabouli and I do not love fighting the hordes of last-minute Christmas shoppers so I can get my last-minute Christmas shopping done.

You know what's fun to do at night? It's fun to sit in your house and watch all the cars slow down and sometimes even stop just to look at your Christmas lights. Because we've been so busy the last few nights, that isn't all we do, but we enjoy it nonetheless. We sit at our respective computers, after Zozo is in bed, and we work. And every once in awhile one of us says, "Car!" and the other stops and watches. I keep thinking we should really get a toteboard and keep a running score, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

My Things and People to Smite List is growing:
Brentwood PO
Epson Tech Support (not the R&D folks who created my fantastic printer, just to clarify)
The people who angrily honk at the nice folks who stop to look at our lights

Monday, December 18, 2006

Those people

It occurs to me that I have not posted today, and all I can say is, "Well, it's the week before Christmas."

Spent my lunch hour today running around trying to tie up loose ends, and ended up only making a big knot out of everything.

I had an experience today which singularly proves to me that the term "going postal" is appropriate. Wouldn't you think that if you were completely out of the holiday snowflake stamps you'd put a sign up saying so, in order that your customers would not have to wait upwards of 30 minutes to find that out verbally? If you thought that, you would be wrong, and obviously you don't work at the post office.

When I got there, my number was 95. They were on 66. That should give you an idea of what the atmosphere was like. There were two (!) people working over the noon hour, and the line went out the door. The staff was in no hurry to help anybody, either, not even bothering to advance the little number that gave us the only glimmer of hope that the line was indeed moving.

After waiting a few moments, I reasoned that it wouldn't be so long after all. As they were calling numbers they were jumping three, sometimes four ahead, as folks had gotten tired of waiting and left.

I waited patiently, looking all over the room for any indication that they might be out of the stamps I was there to buy. I even checked the automatic stamp dispenser thingy in the lobby. No such luck. All thirty slots were filled with the generic American flag stamps.

I finally got up to the front of the line and asked the employee how many of the snowflake stamps there were in a book, so I could figure out how many books to purchase. She barked:


I went from being a perfectly reasonable and intelligent young lady to a seething ball of anger and fury in two seconds flat. I spit out, "You need to POST A SIGN" before storming out in a huff. I couldn't believe I had just wasted 30 minutes for nothing. Absolutely nothing. Stef asked me later why I hadn't just purchased the regular American flag stamps, saying, "Oh, you're one of those people who have to have the holiday stamps on their Christmas cards."

I suppose I am one of those people (are we really that bad?!), but even if I weren't, I darn sure wasn't going to spend any money there. Not that it matters, as it all goes into the same big pot of ill-use and waste, but it was the principle of the matter.

Many thanks go out to M who then went to the PO by his work and purchased, in less than fifteen minutes, our snowflake stamps.

So, everyone take a moment to enjoy those precious snowflake stamps on our Christmas cards this year, knowing the background story that went into purchasing them. Then toss the envelope in the trash or recycle bin and forget about it. I really need to stop being one of those people, don't you think?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas Prep

Well, it's been a rather busy weekend, what with moving back into our house and Christmas shopping and all.

Yeah...the power. Funny story about that. It seems Ameren wasn't entirely at fault. I'm feeling quite sheepish about the whole deal, actually, and am rather glad I didn't actually post the five paragraphs of vitriolic piss and vinegar directed toward Ameren that I wrote Thursday night. Let's just say an old "new" battery in our voltmeter was to blame. For details, call M.

Saturday we ran hither and yon in search of perfect Christmas presents. I think we did well, but I suppose that remains to be seen on Christmas when everyone opens their gifts. Spent today figuring out what my priorities are with the last few gifts, as some things will need to be shipped and some places need to be called, etc.

Not to mention the Christmas cards still haven't gone out. I've got a plan for that, too, and am hoping that Schiller's (blessed are they among camera stores) will be able to help me out with my tight timeline. They've never let me down yet. This, by the way, is the time of the year where I kick myself for setting the precedent of sending out photographic Christmas cards. Would love to be able to go out and buy some beautiful cards and sign them all, "Peace, love and best wishes for a merry Christmas!" and send them along in a timely fashion. But nooooo, every year, the week before Christmas, M says, "Ummm, about the Christmas cards..." and then I snap, "I'll get them done!" and then he says, "People will never get them before Christmas" and I respond, "Don't worry! I've got a plan!" And then I get to work formulating my plan.

Tonight's plan involved a quick photo session with Zozo in front of the Christmas tree, where I got some pretty good shots. I've burned my disk and I'll be off to Schiller's first thing in the morning.

I have a couple gifts this year that are particularly special, as they've been several months in the making and it's very cool to see them start to really come together. Yes, I know, another tight deadline as it's the week before Christmas and they're just now starting to really come together. The late nights and panic attacks and figuring things out on the fly are all worth it, though, as it's great to see the delight in the recipient's face when they open them.

Today we had a massive change in Zozo's dietary habits. Today she put her little baby foot down and refused to eat her baby food. Threw quite a little hissy fit right there in the high chair, and you'd have thought we were trying to feed her a cow patty. At first we chalked it up to maybe she just wasn't very hungry. But then she started pointing at our food and grunting. Zozo's grunts can be easily translated to, "I want that, I need that, I have to have that, so give it to me now." We complied, and I'll be darned if she didn't snarf up everything we put in front of her. So, no more bland baby food for our not-so-bland little baby. I know, I know, technically she's a toddler and not a baby, but she'll always be my baby.

And yes, just to put everyone's mind at ease...she's drinking her milk, and plenty of it. Through a straw.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Smiting, and hell handbaskets

Well, my day went to hell in a handbasket yesterday, after that last post. Our power is still messed up. Maybe. Still working on all those issues and will keep you posted, but in the meantime...

Where did the expression "hell in a handbasket" come from? Surely there are more comfortable ways to go to hell. Hell in a hammock, for instance. Of course, a hammock isn't exactly very mobile. Neither is a handbasket for that matter, but no one has considered that. Maybe the point is to not be comfortable on the way to hell, since, after all, you're going to hell. Of course, if you're going to spend eternity miserable, you might as well be comfortable on the journey there.

Why can't we say "going to hell in a muckbucket" or something like that, because muckbucket is much more fun to say than handbasket, although you are missing out on some fine alliteration.

Who even uses handbaskets anymore, anyway? Really, I just see a lot of oversized totes. But "going to hell in an oversized tote" doesn't really roll off the tongue.

And what if you're not really going to hell, but rather, purgatory. Is there an expression for that? You know, when the situation isn't quite so dire but just as miserable. If you're stylish and trendy, and independently wealthy, I suppose you could go to purgatory in a Prada or something like that.

If you wanted to stick with the whole alliteration thing. If not, I'm sure it's perfectly acceptable to travel to purgatory in a handbasket as well, since that's the vehicle of choice for hell trips and what's purgatory if not a rest area on the way to hell.

Along the lines of obscure phrases and words, I decided last night that I would like to start being able to smite people. I think the bible talks about God smiting people for this and that (although don't quote me on that, because as a good Catholic I don't really know all the bible stuff I should). Frankly, there isn't enough smiting going on anymore. For those of you who don't know, to smite someone means to strike sharply or heavily especially with the hand or an implement held in the hand, or to kill or severely injure by smiting, or to attack or afflict suddenly and injuriously. This is from Merriam Webster on-line, by the way.

And yes, for those of you who are wondering (as Stef and I did last night), the past-tense of "smite" is indeed "smote." Not smited, although that's fun to say, too.

You never hear about anyone smiting anyone any more. "I smite thee!" Doesn't that sound fun? You say that and then you whack them upside the head with a stick or something.

I'm working on my "Things and People to Smite" list.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

2006 Cardinals At-Bat Songs

So I'm listening away here and I realized that even thought I've told ya'all that I have the 2006 Cardinal At-Bat Songs, I've never shared the list with you, thereby becoming the definitive internet source for the 2006 Cardinal At-Bat Songs. We can't let that continue.

So, without further ado:

2006 World Champion Cardinal At-Bat Songs
David Eckstein: "Number One Spot" by Ludacris
Chris Duncan: "Swing" by Trace Adkins
Albert Pujols: "Shackles" by Mary Mary
Scott Rolen: "Rollin'" by Limp Bizkit
Jim Edmonds: "Errtime" by Nelly or "Animals" by Nickelback
Juan Encarnacion: "Ridin'" by Chamillionaire or "Numb" by Linkin Park
Ronnie Belliard: "Temperature" by Sean Paul
Aaron Miles: "Back in Black" by AC/DC
Yadier Molina: "Snap Yo Fingers" by Lil Jon or "Rompe" by Daddy Yankee
Scott Spezio: "Frayed Ends of Sanity" by Metallica
John Rodriguez: "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" by Jay-Z or "Jesus Walks" by Kanye West

And, just to be cool like Garrin, here's some Stadium Music:
"Sandstorm" by Darude
"Zombie Nation" by Kernkraft 4000
"We Like to Party" by Vengaboys

Thanks, G!

I'm having a great afternoon, for many reasons:
  1. My power has been restored and my MIL has turned my heat on. Which means my home will be all warm and toasty tonight. And my fridge will run. And my computer. And my stereo. Etc.
  2. I have the office to myself, so I'm able to play whatever music I want. Right now? It's the 2006 World Champion Cardinals At-Bat Songs, thanks to Garrin. Mr. Molina is stepping up to the plate. A little while ago, Mary from Accounting came in (her legal name isn't Mary From Accounting, by the way...I just thought I'd clarify a little bit) and I had "Numb" by Linkin Park playing. Mary is a lovely lady in her 50s, a total mom/grandma type. Very prim and proper, a little bob 'do, very sweet. You get the picture. I went to turn down Linkin Park and I'll be darned if she didn't start singing along before I had a chance to. I was rolling.
  3. My e-mail cracks me up every time a new message comes in, because the aforementioned Garrin sent me a .wav file of a cash register "cha-ching" per one of my previous posts.
  4. Our gigantic print of the aerial shot of the first game in the new Busch Stadium is ready to be picked up from the framers. It's going to look awesome, and we have a spot on the wall in the basement already chosen. And now we have power to use the hammer drill to hang it!

I just realized that half the reasons I'm having a great afternoon are due to my friend Garrin. It's a Garrin Afternoon, you might say.

Hmmmm...wondering what other challenges I can throw out for him...

(Looking forward to seeing you guys Saturday, by the way!)

Selective disgust

I've decided that when it comes to harboring ill feelings towards our local power company, one needs to be quite selective.

The linemen and linewomen who have worked on our house have been fantastic. They are the nicest people, usually with fantastic senses of humor, and you can tell they're doing their best and working their hardest to get everyone restored. These are good people who have their own families, many of whom I'm sure also lost power. They've always been friendly and genial, and have taken time to explain what the issue is and how they solved it. One of these folks was at our house this morning, and has restored our power to it's normal state, thereby ensuring we won't blow up appliances or our HVAC system when we plug them in. Thank you, un-named Ameren worker!

The people on the phone have also been friendly, and it's not their fault that they haven't been properly trained to answer questions from stressed customers who can't understand why their homes have lost power a bajillion times in the five short years they've lived there.

The engineers we've dealt with (or rather, who my MIL has dealt with), have been very nice people as well, according to her.

This leaves the Ameren muckity-mucks, who I've had absolutely no contact with except to see them on TV claiming that the company's decision to cut tree-trimming services has nothing to do with widespread power outages. Considering that I can look out my windows and see tree branches interfering with the power lines, I think they are full of bovine excrement. It's pretty easy to sit in your gigantic, electrified home (with either buried power lines running to it, or no trees in sight) and decide that the budget numbers will look infinitely better (thereby raising your bonus) if the tree trimming line item is cut.

Since I must choose someone to be disgusted with, I choose them.

These are also the same idiots who have decided, in their infinite wisdom, to announce that they are hiking rates (since the government-mandated rate freeze is expiring) 55%.

I'm not worried about this rate hike, because it won't affect me seeing as how most of the time I do not have power anyway.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ameren, O Ameren - An Ode

Ameren, O Ameren
You delightful cur
Full of surprises and tricks
I'm so thrilled that last evening
My home had too much power
Causing me and M to frolic about
Unplugging every friggin' appliance we own
So as not to blow up things like:
My Mac, our fridge, our furnace
stove, microwave, Tivoli radio, and
our kick-ass Christmas display

Ameren, O Ameren
You delightful cur
Many thanks for hiring phone people
who know nothing about electricity
And who say things like, "Yeah, well...
I guess you could unplug everything
or just turn off the breakers."
And your scheduling system -
"We don't know when someone will be out" -
is simply state of the art
and a joy to behold

Ameren, O Ameren
You delightful cur
You are so lucky
I am married to an engineer
with a voltmeter
who knows how to use it
and can keep our house
from blowing up
when we hear things start to

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Giant Pretzel and Bud Select: The Holy Grail

Went to the Rams game last night, and other than watching them get their butts handed to them by the Chicago Bears, I also got to have another delightful experience with SportsService.

Remember my buddy Marvis from the stadium? Yeah, his sister, Etta, works at the Dome.

All I wanted was a Bud Select and a Giant Pretzel. Not too much to ask, especially in the Lou, right?


First stand: after waiting in line for a few minutes and scanning the menu board I realized that although they have cheesy pretzel bites and other assorted food sundries, they do not offer Giant Pretzels.

Second stand: Waited in line for more than a few minutes, watching Etta ask the guy in front of me three times what kind of soda he wanted (Mountain Dew) and then watching her hand him a Sprite. He said, "This is Sprite." She said, "Oh, what did you want?" "Mountain Dew." (That makes four times he's told her.) She shrugs sheepishly and says, "I almost had it right!" I should have just changed lines then.

Always a glutton for punishment, I stayed in Etta's line. Finally, Mountain Dew Guy leaves and it's my turn. "Hi, I'd like a Bud Select and a Giant Pretzel." "Salted or unsalted?" "Salted." She gets the giant pretzel, hands it to me, then gestures at the beer taps: "We only have Bud Light at this stand." Yeah, um, thanks for telling me now, after you've handed me the Giant Pretzel.

In frustration I asked, "Are there any stands in this place that sell both Giant Pretzels and Bud Selects?" She looks at me in all seriousness and says, "Um, I don't know."

"Fine. Give me a Bud Light." At this point I'm thinking that I'll have to drink the entire thing myself as M doesn't particularly care for Bud Light, but I'll be damned if I'm going to yet another stand and wait in another line. I've already missed two touchdowns and a sack.

She grabs a cup, props it under the tap, and pulls. And it sputters. She tries the one next to it: a few drops of foam. I look down the line and every server is doing the same thing with their taps.

Yes, that's right. The entire ^&%*ing stand ran out of beer the instant I ordered one. You have got to be kidding me. The Bears fans behind me groaned and started going off. "How can a stand run out of beer before halftime?" I didn't have an answer, and honestly felt like joining in. It was not the Lou's proudest moment.

She looked at me and shrugged again. "Just the pretzel. Just ring up the pretzel. Take off the beer." At this point I needed a beer more than anything and just wanted to sprint to the next stand and lay under a tap.

It took Etta three or four excruciating minutes to try to remove the beer from my order. She handed me my change and I took off.

Third stand: "Hi, I'd like a Bud Select please." Again, the tap sputters. My server, who was a lovely woman about 118 years old with no teeth grimaced and went gimping down the line to try other taps.

"Please, holy mother of hops, someone get me a beer."

New Shoes

We went shopping this weekend, for Christmas obviously, and decided while we were out that Zozo really needed a new pair of shoes. Her shoes were getting rather dingy, and she's on the cusp of outgrowing them, and seeing as they are little white canvas ones (with pink shoelaces!) we decided that some sturdy winter ones were in order.

Turns out that purchasing shoes for a toddler is harder than one expects.

First of all, said toddler does not like the trying-on-shoes experience while shopping. Especially when she's tired and cranky, and pissed about being confined to either the shopping cart or Mommy and Daddy's arms. After struggling to get new shoes on her foot while she's thrashing about in the cart, I pulled her out and found a small bench where we could both sit. The whole experience got a lot easier after that, but we still shed a few tears.

I'm hoping she gets over this, as shoe shopping is a favorite pasttime of her mother.

We tried on a few pairs, and decided on this adorable design:

Aren't they just the cutest? She wore them yesterday for the first time, and I do believe she's ready for the catwalk.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Untitled Bing Bong

I've removed my Party Hostess Hat and have replaced it with my Maid of Honor Hat. Let's see...I've booked manis and pedis, up-dos and special occasion make-ups, and have surveyed the other 'maids about whether or not they want to wear gloves (a resounding no on that one). I'm planning the bridal shower and the bachelorette party, and I'm working on something for the guest give-aways (can't spoil the surprise by posting what it is) and should have those done next week.

I do believe I'm doing more work for my sister's wedding than I ever did for my own! She's worth it, though. However, if I could keep her and my mom from hyperventilating every five seconds about various issues that would be great.

We have officially begun our Christmas shopping, knocking out a few people yesterday. I know many people who are already done, gifts already wrapped and even shipped. Wow. I am so not one of those people. I'm a tweener...not quite an early-bird but not waiting until the day before Christmas either. I'd like to get it done earlier, but things just keep popping up. Mainly our Christmas Display. See, M and I do all our Christmas shopping together. Always have, and probably always will. So when he's otherwise engaged (i.e. running himself into the ground to put up The Best Christmas Display in the World) I'm unable to get our shopping done early. I know, we are sick and twisted for always going together, but it's tradition and we both enjoy it and make an event of it so either we start our Christmas shopping before Halloween, or I just resign myself to the fact that we'll never be done early.

While at the mall yesterday, we gave Zozo her first sip of soda. We had a giant Sprite (Christmas shopping makes us thirsty) and thought we'd share with her. The carbonation surprised her, I think, which is why she took her first sip, made a face, then opened her mouth and let it all dribble back out onto M's sweater (he was holding her). We laughed our butts off, then offered her another sip. This time she actually drank it, and seemed quite pleased. Today we are trying chocolate milk for the first time. Mmmmm. Chocolate.

Tonight we're going to see the Rams play. Get to see Lovie and the Bears, too, which will be fun. Of course, we've been stinking it up lately, so we'll see how they do. It's good for Date Night, anyway. Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa Z for watching Zozo for us tonight!

Wow. What a dud of a post. I can't even come up with a creative title for it. Whenever I see art and the title of the piece is "Untitled" it just makes me scowl. How can you not title something? It's ridiculous. Now, granted, my titles for my photographs aren't exactly awe-inspiring. I pretty much just state what the subject is, or where it was taken, but at least I put something. It irks me when an artist can't even come up with a rudimentary title. "Untitled" is not a title. It's an untitle. Hence the word. It just bugs me.

It also bugs me when people don't fill in the subject line on their e-mail. Although I must admit that if one went and looked at all the e-mails my sister and I send to each other, one would be at just as big a loss, as every single one of them says "Bing Bong." Do you know how hard it is to go back and try to find something your sister wrote, when you have to look through 700 e-mails all with the same subject line of "Bing Bong?" It's hard. Trust me.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Post Party Post

Last night was the Grand Lighting. I should say it was THE Grand Lighting. I have been telling everyone that M outdid himself this year, and finally they all got to see what I meant. The only way to do it justice is to not try to describe it with the written word, but rather borrow a digital camcorder from someone, shoot it, and figure out how to post a video here.

He really did take the display boldly where it has not been before.

We think (hope) everyone had a good time. I know I did.

Oh! And the colossal task I was worried about forgetting? Yeah, we left the cheesecake squares in the fridge the entire night. Hey, if that's the extent of my party fouls, then I think we did pretty damn good.

Special thanks to the Illinois delegation for crossing state lines to come view the show. Can we officially say we've become multi-state now?! Oh yeah, and a GIANT thank you to Garrin for making me a CD with the 2006 Cardinals at-bat songs. That's right, people, not only do I have the list now, I also have the actual music! I was so excited I did the Happy Dance right there. And then a few more times throughout the night.

Oh, and ya'all should see the image Uncle Jim made for us. He did his Photoshop magic again, and put Zozo's head on the body of a babe surrounded by angels. It's fantastic, and as soon as he sends me a digital copy I'll post it here.

Thanks also to Mama for the snowfamily (three adorable snowpeople, to be politically correct I cannot type "snowman," one for each of us, complete with Mama-made labels with our names), to Mom and Dad Z for the zucchini bread (it was fantastic for breakfast this morning), and to Mr. and Mrs. P for the personalized Christmas tree for me and M, and the fun books for Zozo (she hit the nail on the head with the of them combines a book and music: two of Zozo's favorite things).

We had a very special guest last night, as well. Santa Claus stopped by to say hi to everyone! We think he must have seen the display go live and thought he'd pop in for a visit. Santa Claus happens to be a personal friend of my dad's, so it was cool that they got to see each other, too. Let me just say that I had no idea Dad knew Santa so well when I was younger, or I'd have campaigned for even more presents. Thank you to Santa and Dad for the surprise.

M gave props to Dad Z and Steve last night during the display, but I need to give my own here. Both of you have no idea what your help means to us. When M says that without your help he couldn't have gotten it done, that's literal. We'd have had to plan the Grand Lighting for January 13, 2007 if it weren't for you. We appreciate you both so very much, even if Steve walked around booming, "LIGHT-O-RAMA" in his announcer voice for an entire day...

So, that's about it. The Display is officially on for the season, so if you haven't seen it yet come on by. You might want to give us a call before you come, though, as there are some special treats that M can set up for you.

Oh yeah, one last thing. Tonight, after we got home from Beano's birthday dinner and put Zozo to bed, we were hanging out in the family room just watching the lights change and the cars slow down when the unthinkable happened. A tour bus (yes, a BUS) slowly crawled by the front of the house, its windows full of Christmas light viewers. How cool is that?!

Happy Birthday Beano!

Today is my sister's birthday, which is way cool. Unfortunately, I can't blog about my feelings for her because she's getting married February 3. Now, what's that got to do with the price of tea in China, you ask? Well, see, I'm the maid of honor (or matron of honor, if you prefer, since I'm an old married lady) and therefore expected to give a speech at the reception. I've been working on it for awhile now, and it's got all kinds of bits and pieces from all our years together of messy and lovely sisterlyness tied in to it, and really at this point I can't separate the speech from my feelings for her, which means that if I posted today, on her birthday, about what she means to me, I'd just spoil the whole speech.

And wouldn't that be a total bummer?

So, let's just say this: To Beano, on your birthday, I love you more than you will ever know, and I need you more than you will ever know, and I will always be here for you. I'm so thankful that we are sisters, and I can't imagine my life without you. I hope you had a great birthday, and I hope this next year is as wonderful as it promises to be. Happy Bing Bong Birthday!

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Today is Grand Lighting Party Day, and I'm pleased to report that, at least up to now, I'm relatively stress-free. Got the house cleaned last night and spent the morning doing some last-minute, loose-ends tying. For the last hour I've actually sat on my butt and watched a DVD. How cool is that?

Well, I've got a few theories about what is actually happening.

1. We've done this so many times now that we've got it down pat, and have all the kinks worked out.

2. The extra week of "down-time" from the power outage last weekend gave us the time we needed to do this without freaking out.
3. Since we haven't let the finished basement become the Dumping Ground between parties, like we usually do, it took way less time to get it picked up and decorated.

4. I've forgotten some colossal task and won't figure it out until I have a house full of guests. Commence freaking.

Everything seems to be going along swimmingly. Even the weather is cooperating (Mother Nature's mea culpa from the ice storm, I guess).

Next post will be It'll be my post-party post. Ha. See? I even have enough time to crack lame jokes. Oy. I'll be sure to fill you in on the colossal task I can't remember right now.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Happy Birthday Grandma Frank!

Today is Grandma Frank's birthday. She's 81. I remember her age because last year we had a big blow-out surprise bash for her 80th that was awesome. Grandma Frank isn't really named Frank, by the way. She's named Mary, which is a lovely name, but she got the name Grandma Frank because she is the wife of Grandpa Frank and someone way back in the day started calling them "Grandma and Grandpa Frank." When Grandpa Frank passed away, well, then it just got shortened. Grandma Frank is really M's grandma, but since I married into the family I figure I can now claim her as my own. Which I do. Proudly.

Grandma Frank is way cool. I've met some mean grandmas in my day (yes, they do exist, and for those of you who don't believe me...just consider yourselves lucky to have only good grandmas), but between Grandma Frank and my own sweet Granny, I've got a pretty good idea of what kind of grandma I want to be when I grow up.

Grandma Frank raised a boatload of kids, and raised them well and with love, and kept her sense of humor through it all. There are gobs of stories that have been shared, including one about a vacation where she incessantly lectured all the kids to not lose their tickets, only to discover that she had indeed lost her own. I do believe her children (and grandchildren) will never let her forget that. M's favorite story, the one that makes his eyes shine with merriment, is about Grandma Frank drinking some coffee and getting all giggly. Apparently she had sweetened the coffee with some Bailey's and it had quite an effect on her.

Grandma Frank loves chocolate. Actually, "loves" is too weak a description. She adores chocolate. The family has obviously learned this throughout the years as every occasion she is showered with chocolate goodies in all forms. I noticed a few years back that she is crafty when it comes to her chocolate stash. If it's what she considers Good Chocolate, she expresses her gratitude and then quietly slips the box next to her chair. If it's Regular Chocolate, she expresses her gratitude and then immediately unwraps the box and shares. Don't get me wrong...she'll share the Good Chocolate, but she's gonna make you ask for it.

Grandma Frank loves goodies. As is evidenced by her Goodie Drawer. I mentioned the Goodie Drawer in a previous post, I think. (By the way, whenever anyone opens the Goodie Drawer, or even just refers to the Goodie Drawer, the heavens open up, sunlight streams down, and you can hear angels's that powerful.) Grandma Frank's Goodie Drawer is amazing. It's always stocked. And most everything in there has already been opened so you feel totally at home grabbing a stack of Pringles or a handful of nuts or candy. There are places of Grandma Frank's house that I've never seen, but I know that Goodie Drawer inside and out. Although I did just recently learn this past year that her freezer is mainly a Goodie annex to the Goodie Drawer, if you will.

Grandma Frank loves her friends. She has had many friends over the past 81 years, and some of them for almost all of the 81 years. Which is amazing to me. My oldest friend is Steffi, who I've known since 7th grade (hold one...lemme do the math...holy crap that's 20 years now), but Grandma Frank has some of hers from grade school. And they still get together and do things like go to movies and meet for breakfast. Except for poor Evelyn, who died. (that's another family told in person)

Grandma Frank loves her family. My FIL, her eldest son, told me she's the worrier of the family. None of us really needs to worry about anything, as she does enough worrying for all of us, plus some. Grandma Frank's home is always open to any of us, at any time. M, Zozo and I stayed there over the summer when we lost power. Every holiday season and sometimes during the Fourth of July she has many other guests. Her home is always open to us, and it's always, always, overflowing with love. Just like Grandma Frank. If you wonder if it's possible to actually see love shining in someone's eyes, just look at Grandma Frank when she looks at one of us.

One of my favorite things is to hear Grandma Frank laugh. There is always a lot of laughter in the Z family, and through it all you can hear her bubbly giggle, and through that laugh you know that she's one of the most very special people in all the world.

Grandma Frank loves. And we love her. Happy Birthday Grandma!

Who says you can't be right AND happy?

I read something recently about people who let their need to be right overshadow their happiness. Instead of just letting something go, they feel the need to be right all the time.

And I thought that was pretty logical, at first. But then I thought about it more and more, and I thought about how I am one of those people who needs to be right, and I've decided that the theory about being right overshadowing happiness is all a big bunch of bullshit.

Because being right usually brings happiness. For me, anyway.

For instance, a few months after I began working here at the spa, I decided that our Web site shopping cart needed to be upgraded. It was pretty old technology, and wasn't really a shopping cart at all. You could only order one gift certificate at a time, and if you wanted more, you had to go through the whole process again. There were no descriptions along with the items you were purchasing (and who knows off the top of their head what's in a Day o' Beauty after all?). Back-end logistics lagged behind today's insta-technology. Printing and faxing were wasn't pretty.

So I put together a proposal and worked on true on-line shopping cart, like what you'd use at Amazon or any of a number of other on-line retailers. I entered all the data myself, and worked with my developer to lay it out, get all the kinks and bugs worked out, and take it live.

It started strong from the beginning, but I couldn't tell if my increased on-line sales were from the new technology or just a function of overall sales increasing.

Until this holiday season. Orders are flowing in like mad. They come through my e-mail box, so I'm constantly getting these little alerts. I'm trying to figure out if I can make those sound like a cash register (cha-ching!) but I haven't had time yet. Priorities, you know.

Best of all, clients are using that shopping cart functionality that I so pushed for. Orders for two and three gift certificates are frequent. A few days ago I had one with six! Six spa gift certificates in one on-line order! I'm pretty sure there is no way that person would have gone through the old system six times, inputting their data each time, to order six separate gift certificates.

We are blowing away our on-line sales figures from last year.

So, today, I am right and I am happy. Cha-ching!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Tune in!

Zozo is drinking from a straw!!! Yaaaaay! She's still on the CapriSun, but I want to get her firmly rooted in drinking from the straw before trying something new, which will be chocolate milk. Figure we'll have to wean her from the sweets. Thanks to Grandma Z for working with her yesterday. You have no idea how much we appreciate you and everything you do for Zoe.

Last night we had an awesome lasagna dinner with Great-Grandma S. She's as Italian as they come, so you know her lasagna rocks. M could've eaten the whole pan if he didn't have such good self-restraint.

Welcome back to the Lou, Dad Z!

I got to see a sneak preview of the Grand Lighting last night. M did a test lighting and let me just tell you...he blew my socks off. I even know what the big new thing is and I was still blown away. My husband is totally a smartypants. He's brilliant. I'm so proud of him and what he's created for everyone to enjoy. Saturday night will be fabulous!

We just wrapped shooting our Show Me St. Louis segment this morning at the spa. Tune in to Channel 5 tomorrow at 3 to see us, or if you miss it you can see it again Monday morning at 10:30. Or you can log on to after tomorrow and see it anytime you want. Went really well, and I was the behind-the-scenes coordinator, which I much prefer. We got to work with Heidi Glaus of Show Me St. Louis, who is as cute as a bug in a rug. She's just darling.

That's about it from here. Hope everyone is staying warm, since our high today is, what, 21 degrees?!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Bye Bye Sippy Cup

Well, we went to Sippy Cup School last night and Zozo's therapist determined that we should just bypass the entire sippy cup stage and move on to straws. I said, "I tried that, she doesn't know to suck yet from a straw so it didn't work." Enter CapriSun. (Freakin' huge kudos to Amy G. for calling that one weeks ago.) With the CapriSun pouches, you can squeeze the liquid up through the straw into her mouth. She latched on like there was no tomorrow and started drinking the juice like mad, even coming back for more.

I asked the therapist, "What happens when we get home and try this with milk and she doesn't want it?" She said, "I don't know. Call me." Doesn't instill a lot of confidence, along with her assertation that, "I'm flying by the seat of my pants here. I've never had a child who wouldn't drink before. Eating, now I've dealt with that. But never drinking."

Got home last night and, of course, Zozo wanted no liquid. No milk. No CapriSun. Nothin' doin'. We both chalked it up to a big day and it was getting late and she was tired and kind of fussy. M just talked to Grandma and while Zozo pointed to the CapriSun at breakfast, she pushed it away, sippy-cup-style, when Grandma put it up to her mouth. Time to play hardball again, and squeeze it in her mouth.

Sigh. Whodathunk this would be our most challenging issue to date?!

M is calling the therapist after lunch, when we have another session under our belts. Stay tuned. I'm sure you're on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sippy Cup Therapy

Good news for Cardinal Nation: we've signed Carpenter for another five years! Yippeeeee!

Just a little baseball news to get us through this long, dull, baseball-less winter.

Nothing much to report. Mom Z got her power back late yesterday, and we forced her to stay at our house one more night while hers warmed up to a liveable temp. She and Zozo are hanging out there today, though. Have fun decorating for Christmas, Grandma!

This afternoon, Zozo has her first appointment with a sensory specialist, Dr. F's next step in resolving The Great Sippy Cup Dilemma. We're both on the edge of our seats, waiting to see what they're going to try that we haven't. I'm thinking it's not a sensory issue, really, as she was using the sippy cup regularly and just fine when we started her out with juice in it. It was when we tried to switch mealtimes to milk that we lost her. She gave up the bottle without a second look back, so it's not that. She took milk just fine out of the bottle, and will take it now off a spoon, so it's not that. We don't know what it is, but hopefully the "occupational therapist for babies" will have a clue. All attempted forms of sippy cup are in a plastic bag in the car, awaiting the visit this afternoon.

Totally cracking me up that we have to take our fifteen-month-old to an OT for help with the sippy cup. What's next...a baby shrink? "Zoe, have a seat here on the couch and tell me...what happened with a sippy cup when you were younger? What issues do you really have with the sippy cup, and how can we resolve them?" Is there a 12-step program for becoming reacquainted with a sippy cup? I've just resigned myself to the fact that the child will not drink any fluids until she goes off to college and discovers the therapeutic and educational effects of beer. You know, that theory that we all thought was soooo funny when we were in college: when you drink, you're killing off your weaker brain cells, thereby making your brain much more efficient. In essence, by drinking you make yourself smarter.

Just so you know, I am not endorsing beer for my toddler. Although at this point, liquid of any form out of a sippy cup would be a step forward...

Monday, December 04, 2006

f64, where are you?

I made some images of the ice-covered foliage around our house on Friday, but haven't looked at them other than chimping on the tiny screen on the back of the D100. Thinking back, though, I'm pretty sure I boofed my aperture setting and didn't get the depth of field I wanted. Grrrr. Hate it when I do that. I blame the extreme cold, which apparently froze my brain and made me forget a fundamental rule of photography.

There was a group of photographers way back in the day that called themselves Group f64. f64 refers to stopping down your aperture to increase depth of field, which is the plane of what is in focus in your image. If you have a large aperture opening, which lets in more light and is, conversely, a smaller number, your depth of field is greatly diminished. Meaning very little in your image is in focus. This can be quite effective as a creative tool, and I do like to use it every once in awhile to achieve a certain look. There is a Post-Dispatch photographer named JB Forbes who I got to shadow a few years ago (I just called him up out of the blue and asked if I could shadow him for a was way cool...and it also convinced me I'd never want to be a professional photojournalist) who taught me about creative use of depth of field. He is a master at it.

Anyway, if you stop down your aperture (i.e. have an f-stop of a higher number), then more in your image will be in focus. I think my wires got crossed in my brain on this concept when I was out freezing my tushie off Friday trying to make creative images of ice-covered trees and bushes. We'll see what I got when I dump the images into the Mac and take a good look-see at them.

Grand Lighting Party has officially been rescheduled for this Saturday...which reminds me that I need to resend that info to our invited guests. Well, there goes the rest of my lunch break!

On the way to work today I saw a sign for a realtor whose last name is Docter. So do people call him Mr. Docter? Doesn't that sound funny?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

There's no place like home

We're back home! I received a call this afternoon from my FIL informing me that we had power. Unfortunately, the situation is reversed from this past summer. If you recall, everyone around us had power restored and our loose neutral kept our house in the dark. For eight days. Well, this time we got our power back with everyone else, but my in-laws are still in the dark. A wire snapped between the poles in our back yard. Our power line comes in before the snap, hence we have power. Theirs doesn't. It's always sumthin', ain't it?

A great big hug, a basket of kisses and tons of thanks go to Mom, Papa and Gran (GG) for hosting us Friday night and today. We're so thankful and know how lucky we are that we had a great place to stay. Just don't be surprised if we find new excuses to use that shower again...

The kitties are spending one more night at their new home away from home: Hotel Z in Ballwin. Apparently they've taken over the house and are now more at home there than the two kitties who actually live there full-time. With everything we have to worry about when our power goes out, we're so grateful that we don't have to worry that our kitties are well cared for. In fact, I'm starting to think they like it better at Dad and Judy's than at our house. There is no small humanoid creature who chases them, squealing in high-pitched tones and tackling them once they get within reach.

It is so incredibly nice to be back home. As comfortable as we were at Mama and Papa's, it's just not the same as rolling into your own bed at the end of the day.

Of all the items we packed (we have a toddler, so of course we looked like the Clampett's driving down there yesterday), my wisest choice was the book "Night," by Elie Wiesel. Mr. Wiesel was 15 when he and his family were taken to concentration camps in the Holocaust. He was separated from his mother and his sisters (never to see them again), and later watched his father die and then disappear, taken by the SS to the crematoria. He saw atrocities that I cannot even begin to imagine. The book is incredible, and just as powerful as when I first read it over 16 years ago. It helps to put all my "troubles" into perspective. I read it Friday night and finished it this morning, and then lent it to Gran to read. I hope she will value it as highly as I do.

Reading "Night" reminds me that we have an unbelievable resource right here in St. Louis through our Jewish Federation. It's the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center and it's in Creve Coeur. I had no idea it was there until the Red Cross, where I was working at the time, partnered with the Jewish Federation for a special program. I did not have a chance to really go through like I wanted to, and I haven't gotten back there since. However, I am up for a return visit, especially after having just read "Night" again, and if anyone would like to go with me you are more than welcome. I'll tell you right now that they've done a fantastic job of making it easy for all ages to learn. There are some horribly graphic images (because it was a horrible atrocity that can't be sugar-coated), but to see them you have to be over a certain height and able to look through peep-holes at the images.

At our Red Cross event, I had the honor to meet a gentleman named Leo Wolf. Mr. Wolf is a Holocaust survivor, and he showed me the tattoo on his arm, given to him by the Nazis for identification purposes. He also showed me a large image on the wall of the museum. The grainy black and white mural photograph shows Jewish prisoners on a Death March. Then he pointed to a young man in the photograph and told me that was him. I stood there and cried on the spot. Mr. Wolf is a co-founder of the HMLC, and you can see an image of him standing in front of the mural if you check out that web site I linked to above. Click on "Tour" and scroll down and you'll find it.

What bothers me now is that there are other holocausts happening around the world. Genocide didn't become extinct with the defeat of the Nazis. Bosnia happened from 1992 to 1995, and we stood by. Rwanda happened in 1994, and we stood by. There are millions of men, women and children living in refugee camps, and millions more who have already died. This is happening now. In Darfur, Sudan. In our world. And I still don't know how to help.

Mahatma Gandhi said, "We must become the change we want to see in the world." I adore that quote. I just don't know quite how, in my comfortable suburban home in midwest America, to become that change to help innocent people a half a world away from me. Is a donation to Amnesty International enough? Is writing a letter to my congressional representatives encouraging them to develop some sort of American response enough? What can I do to make a difference, and to become the change I want to see in my world?

I learned recently that when my cousin Paul wakes up in the morning, he asks himself, "How can I please God today?" or "What can I do?" That is some powerful stuff. That is what changes the world.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Grand Lighting Postponed Indefinitely

Howdy folks. Bad news....we have to indefinitely postpone The 2006 Grand Lighting Party. We'd love to still have it tomorrow, but it would be a huge bummer since, well, we have no power. Nada. Zip. Big goose egg. Kinda hard to light a zillion lights with no electricity. We briefly discussed having M rig up some sort of crank feature, where he'd run like a big hamster in a wheel to power it, but that wouldn't work well because he'd probably just end up spilling his beer, which, as we all know, is a major party foul.

So, for the second time in less than six months, my little family of myself, my hubster, my small child and my two cats are homeless. Many thanks to Mama and Papa for housing the humans in the family, and to Dad and Judy for housing the felines.

Hopefully we can reschedule the party to next weekend, but given Ameren's predictions I'm not even sure that's possible.

I'll try to blog more later (I'm blogging from Mama's computer), but don't hold your breath. I'm on my second glass of wine and am determined to "feel no pain" this evening. Cheers!