Monday, April 30, 2007

Ready for flowers

Perfectly lovely weekend for me and my kin, marred only by the unfortunate and untimely death of Cards relief pitcher Josh Hancock.

Weather was beautiful, so we spent some time outside, including going to the ballgame and witnessing, unbeknownst to us, Hancock's last time on the mound.

I'm completely jazzed about working outside around the house. When we first got married and moved into our new home in South County, we went crazy with landscaping. We did some pretty major overhaul type stuff completely on our own, with no help. I got so fed up with de-rocking the lawn (hence my eternal damnation of lava rock as a landscaping tool) that I wanted nothing more to do with working outside. Plus, I was sitting in traffic for over two hours every day, and by the time I got home I most definitely did not want to go stand outside and water everything for an hour.

Granted, our lawn looked perfectly lovely since M has never faltered with taking care of the grass, but since then we've had absolutely no ornamentation at all. No flowers, no colorful plants. Nothing.

When we moved to our current house, landscaping was a giant mess all over again. Overgrown shrubs, weedy lawn, mulch that looked like it had been around since the Stone Ages. Bless his heart, M tackled it all almost completely by himself. We had the big stuff (trees and enormous shrubs) taken out professionally, but he did everything else. I was still sporting a huge anti-yardwork chip on my shoulder from the first house.

Finally, last fall, M put new shrubs in front of the house. They look fantastic, except for the Heavenly Bamboo which did not winter well and will need to be replaced. They are smallish and something that even I could handle.

But now, finally, I'm ready for some color. Flowers!

I'm realistic, though, and know myself and that this burst of energy as far as landscaping goes will probably be relatively short-lived. In other words, I'm not going to want to come home and spend an hour watering everything. Enter the in-ground sprinkler system, which is one of the best inventions ever. However, ours is currently broken and needs to be repaired before we can use it, so my landscaping itch is going to have to wait.

To temporarily satisfy myself, I put out my concrete ducks given to me by GG (although they desperately need to be repainted, which I shall endeavor to do this week), a couple resin hedgehogs and a cast iron frog. Then I plunked down in a lawn chair with a glass of wine and surveyed my handiwork.

Ahhhh, summer feels good, doesn't it?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Pupu Platter

Big news for today: Zozo went poopoo on her potty!

Major breakthrough. So far it's been only peepee on the potty.

I can't believe "poopoo on the potty" and "peepee on the potty" have become daily standards of vocabulary for me and M, but there it is.

So I asked Grandma, "Did you know she was doing it?" and Grandma said, "Well, she was making a funny face, and then she stopped and pointed down at the potty." Many cheers and applause ensued, and admiration of the poopoo, of course.

It's a gorgeous day here, and I think we'll take advantage of it by going for a walk this evening. Oh yeah, and it's Friday, and that just feels good.

Weekend plans? Max goes to the vet tomorrow at noon (so we can diagnose why he feels it necessary to yowl every morning at 3 a.m.) and then later we're off to the ballgame. Sunday, the day of rest, will be most likely spent cleaning the house. Not rest in the traditional sense of the word, but a great feeling of accomplishment upon its completion.

Kind of like pooping on the potty for the very first time.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bye Bye Boeing

Uncle Milt retires from Boeing today. He's worked there since, oh, birth or so. Seriously, he went to work for McDonnell Douglas right out of school and stayed until, well, until today.

The whole fam is heading up to Boeing to see him off and celebrate his years of service. I've never been to a retirement send-off, really. Every place I've worked, when people leave it's because they found a better job (in which case we had a happy hour to celebrate) or they were RIF'd (that would be Reduction in Force) or terminated or downsized or whathaveyou (in which case we had a happy hour to bitch about upper management and their imbecile decisions). But it seems these days that no one really stays in one place long enough to truly retire from their company.

This, of course, speaks gobs about Uncle Milt's loyalty. Which is a pretty good way to think about Uncle Milt, because he's one of the most loyal people I know. He's loyal to his employer (until today, of course), but he's also doggedly loyal to his family, his friends, and even his bridge partners.

Uncle Milt is M's godfather. We've determined that through this special relationship, that makes him my godfather-in-law and Zozo's great godfather. You see, Uncle Milt is such a good guy that we all grasp at straws just to create extra special relationships to him, as if being a nephew, niece-in-law and grandniece aren't enough.

So when the e-mail went out a few weeks ago, telling us all that we were invited to attend Uncle Milt's retirement party at Boeing, you bet we all cleared our schedules. It's what loyal family members do.

I wonder if they'll give him a gold watch as a retirement gift. I also wonder why that is the standard retirement gift. Is it so you can see all the free time you now have, since you don't have to go to work every day?

What is Milt going to do after he retires? Well, today after his party he's going to a Cardinals baseball game. I can't think of a better way to kick off one's retirement, especially for a die-hard Cards fan like Milt.

Congratulations, Milt. Enjoy your last day as a workin' man.

(Many thanks to Grammy for pitching in to cover babysitting duties this morning so we can all attend without a small child disrupting everything because she's supposed to be taking her nap.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Oui oui!

I'm having French toast for dinner tonight.


How jealous are you?!

Casting Call

My sweet, darling nephew broke his ankle Sunday, and got his cast yesterday.

Joe is taking it like a man for the most part. He was excited to get the cast, thanks to the enthusiasm of the medical staff at the doctor's office. He's learning to walk with it, and he's figured out that he can use the cast to spin in circles, kicking off with his good foot and balancing on the cast. When I talked to him last night, through Beanie, he announced that "anyone in my family can sign my cast." He also announced to Beanie, at bedtime, that he was ready to take the cast off now.

I look at the picture above and I just want to scoop him up and hug on him and give him "loves and kisses" as we say to Zozo.

I also really want to sign his cast. I've never known anyone who has had a traditional cast, so I've never gotten to sign one.

Joe will have his cast for four weeks. You can imagine how that might seem like an eternity for a five-year-old. So say prayers for Joe, and for his mommy, because it's gonna be a loooong month for both of them. This morning's goal was to scratch an itch way down in the cast. Poor baby.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hear the Whispers and Roars

I sat in a room with 150 people, mostly women, last night. I had a piece of paper in front of me with a list of names. Amanda. Shannette. Angela. Beth. Ordinary names. Ordinary women. Just like us. They were big and small. They were well-dressed and casual. They had the hair and the make-up, and the natural look. One woman had a masters in psychology. You couldn't tell, scanning the audience, who was going to get up and speak next. You just had to wait for their names to be called and see who stood up and went to the stage.

The stage was small, and in a corner, and had plain black curtains hanging behind it. There was a small podium, and a spotlight, and the women who stood there could say or read anything they wanted. They read poems, and prose. They told stories.

They were all victims of sexual abuse.

Correction: they are all survivors of sexual abuse. Big difference, as I learned last night. It's a moment of triumph, sometimes hard earned, when one starts to view oneself as a survivor rather than a victim.

I learned so much last night, between the tears and the applause. I learned that 1 in 7 women in Missouri are victims of sexual abuse, and that the YWCA Sexual Assault Response Team, of which my friend Deane is a volunteer member, helped over 440 women in St. Louis last year. It's bittersweet: what a fantastic resource for women in our area, and how horrible that there were that many women who needed it. And countless others who were too ashamed to report what had happened to them.

So. I am now in a position to help. I can use my resources and I can do something. I must do something. If anyone wants to come along for the ride, just let me know.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dad!

This past Saturday was my dad's birthday. He celebrated it in typical Dad fashion, by attending Super Chevy in Memphis, TN. My dad is a car guy to the nth degree. He's a complete motorhead, and I mean that in the best possible way. He can fix anything on God's green earth with a few Snap-On tools and some time. I know this because he's fixed my cars and my houses, and he's fixed the cars and houses of most everyone in my family. Even if he's never seen something before in his life, he can take it apart, figure it out, and fix it. My grandma used to tell me stories of Dad taking apart her appliances just to see how they worked.

Dad is a quiet kind of guy. He's one of those men whose strengths run silent and deep, and he's been like a rock in my life. No matter what has been going on in my own world, I knew I could go to him for peace and strength and fortitude and calm. I could go to him to feel better. Even if it was just a phone call, I hung up feeling okay. I was okay, life was okay, everything was going to (eventually) be okay. I have gone to him for many things throughout my life (emotional support, gas money, answers, help fixing things, and now babysitting...) and he's never, ever said no. In essence, he's a true dad. He has always been there for me.

I remember once, in college, getting totally tanked and deciding that my dad was so cool that I needed to call him, right then in and there, and tell him that. And, you know, that I loved him and all. So I did. Wasted. And he was so cool that he laughed that I was drunk, and he's such a dad in that he's never, ever, let me forget that I did it. We have tons of fun memories like that, and the best part is, we're making more every day.

I see him differently now, now that I've grown up and had my own child. I watch him interact with her and I love it. I watch him sit on the floor and read to her, and play with her, and just enjoy being around her, and it makes me love him even more than I ever thought possible. He's an awesome grandpa, even if he is sneaky and teaches Zozo to kiss his picture before she goes to bed.

I'm fortunate in that I get to work with my dad now, in our family's business, so I get to see him a lot. No matter what's going on, he always manages to make me laugh. And, it's never a bad thing to get hugs from your dad in the middle of the work day.

So, happy birthday to my Dad. If your day was half as happy as you've made me, well, then you had a great birthday!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Easter Bunny Image (Finally)

Yeah, so I know it's a couple weeks past Easter, but I finally remembered to bring the CD in to work and dump the image onto my harddrive. The Bunny Photo CDs aren't Mac-friendly so I have to use a PC (shut up, M).

So here is our sweet girl, looking less than thrilled to be visiting the Easter Bunny, who I'm pretty sure was a 13-year-old girl in an incredibly warm fur suit.

Zozo's dress does look adorable though, doesn't it? And the headband is rather kicky.

I'd like to reiterate that we had plenty of opportunity to get a photograph of her smiling but for the doofus behind the camera who was in absolutely no hurry to trip the shutter. We don't really like to pay money to torture our child. Besides, she forgot all about the Easter Bunny about 90 seconds after we pulled her off his lap and let her toddle around the mall while waiting for their crappy laserjet to spit out fuzzy images with blown highlights.

I am at least grateful we've progressed past the distorted Polaroids of my childhood.

As promised...

At long last, I've finally gotten access to a photograph of M receiving his award (way back on March 28) for being a kick-butt presenter:Isn't he cute?! (For those of you not in the know, just visiting from cyberspace, M is the young, attractive chap in the middle. And ladies, he's taken.)

I'm so proud of him I could just burst.
I'm sure this photograph was taken right before or after he said, into a microphone to an auditorium full of people, "I'd like to thank my wife..."


Some days I just feel sad.
Because of everything bad in the world
and because of nothing at all in particular
but everything in general.

And I know that all it takes is a little time
and a mental slap in the face
to stop lurking in the murky waters of depression
and come out where the light is, again.

I hate the word "depression" because it sounds so clinical, and so like something that needs to be fixed with medication or therapy or whathaveyou. I think sometimes a little depression is a healthy thing, a cycle that helps keep us grounded and pragmatic. Not everything is good, all the time. It's impossible to be continuously happy and full of glee. But if you're sad nowadays, it's almost categorically labeled as depression, or rather Depression with a capital d, and people start to worry about you and get upset, and they really shouldn't, because don't all of us have sad days that nothing can fix but a little time? Isn't it okay to beat back the dark curtains of depression on your own?

Huh. I just realized that perhaps "depression" isn't the right word to use. Maybe "sadness" is okay, and we should leave "depression" to the doctors. It's probably okay to be sad, and much preferrable to be sad than to be depressed. Is there a difference? Is it socially acceptable to be sad rather than depressed? What about profound sadness? At what point does sadness cross over to depression?

Really, my mind is just sort of rambling today. It's a bluesy sort of day for me, when I get all introspective and start asking the really deep questions. Like, what does it mean to be truly happy, and to be truly sad.

I think deep down I'm essentially a happy person. I have fun, and I am surrounded by so many wonderful people that I consider myself more blessed than 99% of the population. I love, and am loved, and really, what more could you need?

But today, I just feel sad. And it's okay for a happy person to feel sad sometimes, don't you think?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Every day a new experience

Here are some words I never, ever thought I would type:

Last night we gave Zozo a bath simply because she felt the need to put baked beans in her hair at dinner.

For a long, long time, I thought I didn't want a child. Actually, for quite a while I thought I didn't want to get married. Too busy having fun, planning for my future career as a brilliant this or that (it didn't matter, really, as long as I was considered brilliant and therefore heavily financially compensated for such brilliance).

Being a "wife" and a "mother" were two titles that were so 1950s. I was progressive (I thought); I wanted more than that (or what I thought was more).

Kids were too much of a drag, and babies were messy and pretty much foreign objects. I wasn't comfortable holding them, either, because they seemed so fragile. If I'm not comfortable with something, well, I pretty much write it off completely without a second thought.

Then, of course, I met him. Him. Him. The one guy who changed my view and rocked my world. All of a sudden, being a wife and a mother were not only acceptable, they were desirable. (You know who you are, my Mocholate.)

Isn't it funny how one person can change the way you view yourself, and give you the confidence you need to be so much more than you ever thought possible? And how, through that, you don't at all live the life you dreamed of living, but instead have a life that is so much richer than you ever imagined.

The thought of having to bathe a small, wriggling child because she put baked beans in her hair would have appalled me back then, in what seems like a different life.

Now, though, it's a perfect evening.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Last night, after Zozo's bath, I lathered her up with lotion and let her run back down the hallway to see her Daddy. Naked. (Zozo, that is, not Daddy.) She was so adorable...little bare toddler body with the pot belly and chubby thighs and scrawny arms. Cute little baby butt. Made me laugh, watching her run around in her birthday suit.

Then, this morning, I was reading an industry magazine article profiling some new Irish spas, and it said this:
"Despite the notion that Americans are puritanical when it comes to modesty, in the treatment room they're considerably less inhibited than their European counterparts, choosing to forego wearing undergarments."

This has all got me to thinking about my own modesty, and that of people I know, and situations where one might feel comfortable being naked.

I consider myself a reasonably modest person. Now. Before, way back in the day, I was a veritable prude. Going for my annual well-woman exam took a week or two of psyching myself up for it, having a stiff drink before it, and imagining myself anywhere but on the exam table during it. I think humming might even have been involved.

Then, I tried to get pregnant. All modesty flies out the window when you're discussing your uterus with more people than you ever cared to, and when hormone levels and words like "prolactin" become part of your everyday vocabulary. I was poked, prodded, inspected, scanned and tested. I learned that getting an ultrasound is not necessarily an external-only procedure.

Turns out, once you actually get pregnant, none of that stops. The culmination was the day I gave birth, when I found myself completely naked in a (cold!) operating room, numb from the chest down with multiple people, many whom I'd never met before that day, working right around my hoo-ha.

Hard to be modest after that.

Granted, I do not walk around with my bubbies hanging out or anything like that, but, you know, I'd have to say I'm much more comfortable in my own skin now.

I have noticed, though, after two years of working in the spa industry I'm much more open to not only being naked, but letting other people (strangers even!) touch me while I am. And yes, I'm one of those crazy Americans that foregoes wearing undergarments during treatments. Who wants to walk around the rest of the day with panties full of massage oil? Besides, the whole point of your massage is defeated when you're busy squirming from a wedgie.

I realized recently though, when I secret-shopped the competitor's day spa, that I've now become one of those women who can, without second thought, completely disrobe in a women's locker room and cheerily partake of the steam room. No willies. No embarrassment. No nervous averting of eyes or turning red or feeling creeped out (which completely dissolves all the benefits of the massage you're either about to get or have just received).

I think back to my days at Girl Scout camp, when I was just on the very edge of puberty, and the mass shower rooms that embarrassed me to no end (I remember thinking, "Oh, God, my body going to look like that soon"), and I say to myself, "You've come a long way, baby."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

In a New York minute

A colleague of mine recently found out that her mom, to whom she's incredibly close, has acute leukemia.

One Friday night they were out having martinis. By the following Wednesday she was forced to bathe her mother, as her mom was too weak to bathe herself.

She's at St. Luke's right now, in the ICU, and she doesn't even know yet that she has acute leukemia. She's so unstable that they don't want to tell her for fear that she'll have a heart attack.

My colleague is a single mom of two, with no siblings of her own. She works full time. Life was hard enough with her mom's help, so I can't imagine how hard it is now. She works all day, picks up the girls, and goes to see her mom. Sometimes she'll go to the hospital in the morning, too, before work. The next day she starts it all over again.

Her mom lived with her for a long time, and just recently prepared to move into her own retirement apartment. She chose new furniture, new artwork. It's all been delivered. To an empty apartment. She hasn't even seen it yet.

And because she doesn't know she has acute leukemia, she says things like, "I can't wait to get well so I can go home to my new apartment and see all my new furniture! Did my custom chair get delivered? Is it beautiful? I can't wait to see it!" My friend says her mom will never return home again, and most likely will never see her new, beautiful chair.

Another colleague and I purchased a Bread Co. gift card for her, so she doesn't at least have to think about, plan for or cook a few meals. I don't know what else to do. I don't know what else I can do. I can't save her mother, which is what she desperately wants more than anything else.

I hate not having superwoman powers. Life would be considerably easier if I could cure at will. And don't forget that smiting action. Being able to smite would be good, too.

So, to your already incredibly-long list of prayers, please add my friend and her mom.

Hair Today...

Note: when one eats too many Skittles, one gives one's self a tummy ache.

So my hair looked kinda greasy and mangy today, or felt that way at least, but I was too lazy to wash and re-straighten it, and I'm so burnt out on Curly Amy that I really want to stick with Straight Amy for awhile, so I tried something new.

I tossed on a headband, teased a bit, sprayed, and left.

And wouldn't you know that I've gotten so many compliments today that I can hardly stand it.

Isn't that funny? On an average day, when I actually take the time to do something with my hair, typically folks won't say boo. Unless I've gotten new color, or straightened it after months of curls, or some other drastic change.

Today, though, lots of attention. I must admit that I don't dislike it.

The best was when my stylist asked, "Did you do this yourself?" and when receiving an affirmative continued on to say, "I'm impressed!"

It's the little things, ain't it?

P.S. I never thought I'd be a Headband Girl. SO excited to discover I am!

Monday, April 16, 2007


I've been reading about the events that occurred this morning at Virginia Tech, and I've decided that Zozo will never, ever be allowed to leave the house. Ever.

I could do the whole "our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families" thing, but it just sounds so trite at this point. My thoughts and prayers are always with one person or another because there is just too much going on in the world. If cancer doesn't get you, a random shooter or suicide bomber just might. Peanut butter and bag lettuce are deadly, and even your pets aren't safe from contaminated food.

So we'll all just keep on keepin' on, like we always do. We'll shake our heads and wonder what on earth possessed someone to go on a killing rampage on a college campus. We'll hug our kids a little tighter tonight, and tomorrow we'll send our spouses off to work with more than the quick peck.

Beyond that, though, I think we should all try to be a little nicer to everyone around us, whether you like 'em or can't stand 'em. Let's all try to be a little more anti-Imus and a lot more Gandhi.

Just a thought. And a prayer.

Wile E. Grandpa

Zozo has a bedtime ritual that involves kissing most, if not all, the stuffed animals on the shelves over her desk.

(Yes, at the ripe old age of 19 months, she has a desk. Actually, she's had it since before she was born, as it's part of the bedroom set we chose for her...goes with the crib that converts to a toddler bed that converts to a full. We're practical people, and wanted to go through the ordeal of finding/researching/selecting furniture only once.)

So, every night after she's in her jammies, we go over to the shelves and she chooses the order in which she wants to kiss them goodnight. She mixes it up a bit, sometimes choosing Penny the Cat before Birthday Dog, but we always kiss Cardinal Bird on game days, and always always end with Hoot the Owl. Hoot was her daddy's, a long time ago when we were in college and before Beanie Babies became a huge rage. We found him (and Chocolate Moose for me) in a bargain bin at Osco Drug in Columbia, Missouri. For unknown reasons, Zozo has taken a liking to Hoot the Owl and he is now hers, much to Daddy's dismay.
Friday night, though, Zozo was intent on retrieving something from her top shelf. We went through all the animals up there, and some of them twice ("Hedgehog? No? Rainbow Bear? No? Share Bear? No? For the love of Pete, what do you want?!") before we figured out that she was pointing to the small framed photo of her and Grandpa Ray taken at Christmas two years ago.
So we got it down, and she grasped it in her chubby little fingers, and planted a kiss right on Grandpa Ray's face.
My heart melted.
I, of course, called Dad immediately after putting her down for the night. When he called back, I relayed the story to him, waiting to hear how thrilled he was that she had done that.
He laughed and said, "Oh, yeah. I taught her that the last time I babysat!"
Sneaky, sneaky Grandpa.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Tea for two? No, thanks.

I'm having a major disconnect with one of my favorite brands, and as a marketer (and consumer), I'm having serious heartburn over it.

I love tea. Have it almost every day. It's a staple of non-mocha mornings. I am a fan of Earl Gray, but mostly stick to green tea due to the antioxidants and other good stuff. I'm learning that oolong tea has even more, but I have yet to branch out to that.

After years of Lipton tea, basically because I didn't really know any better, I found Bigelow. Bigelow teas are wonderful, and inside the boxes the tea bags are all individually wrapped in these little foil-lined pouches to ensure that your tea tastes fresh and delicious. I've tried other teas, Republic of Tea and Celestial Seasonings and Tazo Tea, but I keep coming back to Bigelow.

But this morning, I had problems when I went to steep my little Bigelow Tea bag.

You see, Bigelow Tea has been a sponsor of Don Imus, and continued to remain a sponsor even after all this hoo-haa about his latest racially insensitive comment.

Now, I don't listen to Don Imus. I absolutely hate shock jocks, who I feel simply use insults and bigotry to gain fame and fortune. They are disgusting and crass for no good reason other than to intentionally piss people off. And that's just rude.

Because I don't listen to Don Imus, I had no idea that my beloved Bigelow was a sponsor. I might not have cared because although I knew Don Imus was a shock jock, I wasn't aware of just how crass he was. As soon as a DJ is labeled "shock jock," I turn them off/tune them out. They pop back up on my radar only when they really blow it and make a colossal mistake along the lines of Imus'.

In fact, when all this stuff blew up with Imus, I still didn't know Bigelow was a sponsor. Even after all his "big" sponsors started peeling away, Bigelow remained under the radar.

However, I heard on NPR the other day (or was it just yesterday? This Imus thing has virtually exploded in a relatively short amount of time) that Imus took the time to publicly thank Bigelow on the air for sticking by him and remaining a sponsor.

Suddenly my tea doesn't taste so good.

Sponsorship of a particular program or person implies consent, approval, endorsement.

How on earth can I continue to purchase products from a company that doesn't think what Imus said was wrong? Or that all the horrible things he's said before now was okay?

I try to rationalize it by going back to business basics: Imus in the Morning was indeed a popular radio and cable TV show, and had a consistent and dedicated audience. Tea is, in America anyway, by and large a morning beverage. Therefore, it makes sense to advertise on a morning program with a large, consistent audience.

Where do you draw the line, though? Where do you say, "I'm not going to compromise my values just to sell more tea bags?" Shouldn't it be a conscious decision to elect not to have "Bigelow Tea, the tea for bigots!" as your tagline? Maybe they should change their name to Bigotlow Tea.

Ugh. Not only does my tea now have a tainted taste, but I'm embarrassed to be seen drinking it.

Not good for a brand. Not good at all.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I find this hilarious

"She didn't pass gas often, but when she did, it was pink and sparkly, and smelled like candy. And when it went away people cried."

-Found on a greeting card

Low on toner

I got to unleash my inner organizational goddess yesterday on our retail shelves, and I'm a happy, happy camper.

Our shelves, to put it bluntly, looked more "Wal-Mart" than "Crate & Barrel." You can guess which I'd rather be. I admit, I'm a snooty, snooty snob when it comes to retail. There's a reason I go to Target instead of Wally World.

I don't want to deal with cluttered shelves, crowded aisles, and other people's snotty children run amok when I'm shopping for my toothpaste.

So, anyway, the shelves here always bugged me. They were always clean, and the items on them were neatly arranged.


Drove me crazy. Batty. Mad as a hatter.

I shuddered every time I walked by.

Now, though. Ahhhhh. Space. S p a c e. And plenty of it.

The catch, and there always is one, is that it will obviously be important for our retail specialists to stay on top of the inventory, as the shelves will need to be replenished much more often.

Theoretically, this should not be an issue, as more often than not they're just milling around up there whenever I go by.

However, my last foray into Retail Land showed my new, sparkly, neatly re-organized shelves sorely lacking in Bioflavinoid Toner. Already. Grrrrr.

My boss told me my new shelves would not work. They aren't practical, she said. They'll need to be re-stocked too often, she said. They'll look bare, she said.

Just give me a chance, I said.

And wouldn't you know she was with me when I discovered the toner drought.


I'm off to corral some Bioflavinoid Toner and restock my friggin' shelves.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Farewell, Mr. Vonnegut


When the last living thing
has died on account of us
how poetical it would be
if Earth could say,
in a voice floating up
from the floor
of the Grand Canyon,
"It is done."
People did not like it here.

-Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
November 11, 1923 - April 11, 2007

The Neti Pot

Two words, people: nasal irrigation.

If you're anything like me (way behind the times, apparently), you're going, "Huh?"

And you'll also laugh your ass off when you see this picture:

I know I did.

So, for those of you not in the know, as I was for my entire life before Easter Sunday, a Neti Pot is used to naturally flush out your sinus passages. It's been around for about a bazillion years.

How does it work, you ask? Well, now that I've done it once, I'm a veritable expert and can tell you.

You fill your little pot with a saline solution and, well, dump it through your nose.

My pot looks like this:
Cute, huh?

Don't use regular old table salt to make your solution, because it has iodine in it. And for some reason you don't want to be putting that in your nose. I don't know why. I've only done it once, and frankly, the only research I've done on it is reading the box and then using Google Images to find the above. Let me just say it's amazing how many images are on the 'net of people using Neti Pots. Check it out if you don't believe me.

So you put some non-iodine salt or non-iodine sea salt (1/4 teaspoon, to be exact) into a cup or so of warm water (not hot, not want to be comfortable, after all, when you're putting something in your nose), and then you cram the pot up one nostril, enough to make a seal. Then you tilt your head just so, and slowly pour the solution into your nose. It'll run right out the other side, hopefully taking all the stuff in your nose that you don't want to be there with it. Breathe through your mouth (obviously) and you'll do just fine.

It's remarkably easy to do, and I gotta say, it works. Really, really, really well. My sinus passages have been jacked up since high school due to seasonal allergies, but this little pot is going to be my salvation. I've only done it once, this morning (when there was no hubby around to laugh at me), and I can already feel stuff breaking up in there. I'm so gosh-darned excited about it that I'm gonna do it again when I get home.

"Look Zozo, Mommy's using a nose douche!"

So, since I'm a new and excited convert to the practice of nasal irrigation, I'm spreading the word. My very progressive Aunt P turned me onto it (after I laughed at her pot and her bag of salt, which looked remarkably like she was getting ready to smoke some crack) and bought me my very own pot and bag of non-iodine salt at Whole Foods.

Yeah, definitely get your own Neti Pot. It's not something you'll want to share.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Lucky lunch

You know what's really great? Going to lunch with a friend/former colleague and seeing two other people you like from two other parts of your life on your way there and at the restaurant. I feel "known." Or that I know a good many others.

Some people are just like that. M's Aunt Shelley knows everyone, I think. She even runs into people she knows outside of America, which is really quite cool and doesn't happen to just anyone. I'm pretty sure it's because everyone who meets Shelley loves Shelley. She's just magnetic like that.

I've never been one of those people who runs into acquaintances while out and about. Which is a good thing because lots of times (on the weekends especially), I can look a little rough around the edges. I've got a little collection of favorite ballcaps that doesn't help matters, either. Now, though, more and more I keep running into people I know. It makes me feel like my life is diversified and open and that I have lots of great people around me, which is nice.

Someone told me a long time ago that the best thing you can do to improve your life (including health and overall well-being) is to surround yourself with really great people. I didn't know at the time just how valuable that is. I didn't know that one has a choice, really, in whom one deals with on a daily basis. That you can choose to not be around people who aren't good for you, or who make you doubt yourself or make you feel bad. I take that back...because no one can make you feel any certain way. You can let them influence your feelings, but ultimately it is you who are responsible for how you feel.

Since I'm the sort of person who too easily takes on the moods/attitudes of whoever is around me, I have to remember constantly to surround myself with good, positive people or I just get dragged down and mired in the muck of other people's misery or neuroses.

I've done that now. Surrounded myself with good people, that is, not gotten dragged downa dn mired in the muck. I have a great group of really fine people who never fail to help make me feel good, or who I can just have a good time with. And it's not who I expected. I don't have the traditional clique of college girlfriends or whatever. It's just this completely random assortment of people I've picked up here and there throughout my life and have been lucky enough to hold on to.

Isn't that cool? Aren't I lucky?!

Lunch today, by the way, was at I Fratillini at Wydown and Hanley. Yum-my. Deliciouso. Fantastico! I highly recommend the goat cheese ravioli with spinich and pine nuts. Heaven on earth. Only a glass of Pinot Grigio could have made it better, but alas, return to work I must!

Monday, April 09, 2007

My nightmare

This morning I came into work to find I have become the victim of a drive-by organizer.

My boss ordered some new shelving units for our office. We've got four of us crammed in here, and for the most part we function pretty well. We're all organized in our own ways, and we're all highly productive (most of the time), so all is right in our little Marketing / Staff Development / Purchasing / IT office.

We had two sets of shelves left from our former location. They were the pressboard shelves that sag when you put more than a piece of paper on them, so you can imagine that they didn't look that great. We kept them pretty clean and organized, though, and our office isn't exactly part of the standard Spa Tour, so we were just fine.

Until the boss decided she didn't like how bad they were looking and ordered us new ones. Yay! I loves me some new shelves, and more storage space and hanging file drawers are always welcome. They were being assembled Friday while I was out of the office.

I even thought to myself, "Uh oh. I won't be here to populate the new shelves myself. I sure hope she doesn't do something..."

Turns out I probably should have planned to stay on Friday, or maybe come back in that afternoon while Zozo was napping, because Boss Lady got ahold of those spankin' new shelves and decided to populate them herself with all our stuff. Without any input. You know, from us.

Bless her little &^%$#@ heart.

Let's just say I didn't take it very well. I came very close to hyperventilating when I walked in this morning and my lovingly organized area had been demolished, and moved, and shoved into drawers and onto shelves in a way that made no sense to me.

I think I may have even fainted for a few moments.

Anyone who knows me even one iota knows that I'm borderline OCD about stuff. I do not like clutter, and my daily mantras consist of "a place for everything and everything in its place" and "when in doubt throw it out." When my mental house is not in order, the first thing I do is get my physical house in order. When I feel overwhelmed, I clean. Actually, I mostly clean out. I bang through and throw things out and pare down down down. I get a high from sorting through the stuffed bills folder, getting them all paid, hole-punched and filed into the binder, and balancing the checkbook to the penny. Sick and sad, I know, but it's who I am. It makes me happy to be clutter-free and hyper-organized.

So today I've spent most of the time "digging out," trying to find my things and put them back into some semblance of order (my order) where I can work productively yet again. I'm at least past the point of being on the verge of tears (we anal-retentive types do not take well to others moving our things) and am starting to feel better again. Most of my things are now where I want them, so that helps. I no longer feel as though someone has burgled my home.

Things I learned this weekend

Ahhh, back in the office after a three-day hiatus.

Things I learned this weekend:

1. If you really want to see a great exhibit at the St. Louis Art Museum, and soak up the wonders of the photographer Nicholas Nixon, and get lost another world that can only be captured by an 8x10 format camera...don't take a 19-month-old with you. Yes, I know this sounds crazy from the beginning, as in "why would you ever think you could do that?!" But I was honestly ready to give it a go. We'd like Zozo to get used to going to places like the art museum so that she's comfortable there as she grows up.

And we'd have been fine except that we were bad parents and forgot that our child wigs out when she's put on an elevator. Damn. Rookie mistake. She's been like this almost from the beginning, and on all-elevators. She's an equal-opportunity elevator-hater. The mall 'vators, Macy's, Dillard's, even Nordstrom. Trust me, we've tried them all. Don't think that because the art museum has one of those giant elevators the size of my kitchen that it'd make a difference. Nope. We hate that one, too. And, of course, we required the elevator due to the Nixon exhibit being in gallery 313 (which is on the 3rd floor, natch) and our having the stroller. Next time, we split up. One of us takes the 'vator-hater up the stairs while the other takes the elevator with the stroller.

Anyways, check out the Nicholas Nixon exhibit if you can. It's phenomenal. And very small and not overwhelming, so you don't have to spend a whole day or even a whole evening there. You can bang it out in under an hour, I'd say. Good stuff, Maynard.

What else did I learn this weekend?

Ahh, yes. Number 2: Don't schedule a doctor's appointment (2 shots!) in the middle of naptime, and visiting the Easter Bunny on the same day. Actually, the Bunny part went just fine at first. We had her laughing and smiling and giggling. Zozo, not Bunny, which has a perma-grin perpetually frozen on his face. We kept going and going, and finally, as Zozo began to tire of our antics and realized she's actually sitting on a total stranger's lap and not a giant stuffed animal, M asked the punk manning the camera, "How many do you have?" He responds, "One, but she's blinking so we need to get another." At this point Zozo starts to turn on the water works. He got one more shot, with her finger in her mouth, of course, as that's where it always is these days what with some molars coming in and all, and you can only tell she's getting ready to cry by the fact that her little nose is bright red. Poor baby.

So we paid (through the nose, as usual) and got our pictures and left. Later I scrutinized the images at home and was totally appalled. The highlights are completely blown. No detail at all in Bunny's white fur. I could have done better with my point 'n shoot. Grrrr. When you have an incredibly controlled environment like the mall, where you're taking shot after shot after shot...there is just no reason to have blown highlights. Sheer ineptitude. Damn punk.

Easter Sunday was fab, though. Lots of fun going to Great Aunt Peg's and Grammy's. Zozo raked it in, I'll tell ya. The little girl is loved...that's for sure. And yours truly felt the love, too, getting Grammy's famous Rotini Salad for Easter Dinner and a giant container to take home to boot. Love that stuff. We did miss the Z family quite a bit, though. Easter just ain't the same without watching Dan and Joe tear through the yard lookin' for eggs.

Happy Easter to everyone!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Happy b-day to my brother

A very happy birthday and good wishes to my brother, Matt, today.

Even though he will never read this, and doesn't know that my heart breaks every time I realize that I cannot call him on his birthday and tell him how thankful I am that he's here on earth, even though he's not here in my life.

I still don't know what happened, or how, or even when exactly. I don't know why I lost my brother. I don't even think he knows for sure.

But lost him I have, at least for the time being, and so all I can do is send birthday wishes out into cyberspace to everyone but Matt, and hope that he at least feels good vibes coming from his sister.

So, little brother, I miss you, and I love you, and I hope you have a great day.

Fun with toilet paper

Zozo discovered the joys of unrolling the toilet paper last night. We were sitting on the kitchen floor sorting mail, and she'd help by ripping up envelopes and moving catalogs around and such. I had her amused by a Mini Boden catalog for a minute or two because it has pictures of children and those are always interesting to her. Every so often she'd get up and wander around before coming back to help.

Then she got up and wandered into the bathroom. And didn't come back. It was awfully quiet in there, so I called her name. No response. Uh oh.

I peeked around the door and saw that she was spinning the toilet paper around, but in the wrong direction so none came off. I thought, "This won't last long," and retrieved M from the kitchen where he was preparing dinner.

We stood in the doorway and laughed our butts off as she spun the roll the "right" way and giggled, which turned into belly laughs the more she got off. I took some photos, but they really don't do it justice. I'll try to get them posted this weekend.

Afterwards, when she had rid the roll of all TP and moved on to something else, M said, "Now we have to teach her that it's bad to do that." I know, but it sure was fun to watch this first time.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

They're baaaaack

What does it say about me, or my friends, that I receive e-mails like this, which came from my good pal Saara:

Saw this - had to send it to you!!


Thanks for the laugh, sweetie. I cracked up so much that I was actually forced to send this to an officemate as explanation.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Hey Oh

I got to secret shop a competitor yesterday.

Which means...

I received a really good massage and some time in a steam room, and I got paid to do it. I even got reimbursed for mileage to get there and back.

I so have the best job in the entire world.

If everyone got to work for a spa, there would be a lot less stress in the world.

Music Recommendation of the Day
My newest favorite CD is Stadium Arcadium by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Oh. My. Gosh. It's fantastic. Well, I should say they are fantastic, since the album actually consists of two separate CDs, Mars and Jupiter. What's surprising is that the CDs are equally great, although I am partial to Mars because it has Snow (Hey Oh), which is phenomenal. I know it's phenomenal because not only do I love it, but M loves it too.

I never pegged him to be a Chili Pepper fan, really, because they're rather quirky, and he typically doesn't go for bands that I go completely crazy over (The Cure, Green Day, Daniel McKenzie, etc.). He loves Snow, though. And I know this because a.) he sings along in the car, which only happens when he really digs the music and b.) it makes him drive fast.

We purchased the CD at Target this past weekend, and were driving home with the windows down and the music blaring (it was beautiful outside, and Zozo was home with her grandma), and I was leaning back just enjoying the music, when I noticed that we were going considerably faster than the rest of the cars on the highway.

M was sitting over there, grooving out, and going over 80 miles an hour. I said, "This song makes you drive fast!" and he grinned maniacally and said, "Yeah!"

Snow is great, but there are other tracks that are equally good. I recommend Slow Cheetah, Strip My Mind, Especially in Michigan, Desecration Smile and Tell Me Baby, too. Among others.

Another great CD I recommend is Wonders of the World by Long Beach Dub Allstars. Also quirky, and fun. Received that from my bro Steve this past weekend, which put me over the top into sheer new music nirvana and makes my ears incredibly happy.

New music, just in time to go with weather that's conducive to windows-down, radio-blaring, sing-it-like-you-mean-it-baby action. Well, not today, actually, as it's rather nippy out. But you know.

I love it when I get new music!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Papa's Birthday

Today is my Papa's birthday, which makes it a fantastic day all around. Today is the day I get to celebrate with everyone else the fact that God put this man on earth, and that he made him my Papa. For that, I will be forever grateful. God, I owe ya one.

Papa and I are two peas in a pod. We're like peas and carrots. We have the same warped sense of humor, the same taste in music (mostly), and the same innate curiosity about the world. We were the half of the family that got stoked about getting to tour the Denver mint, while my mom and sister griped that they'd rather be sitting on a beach somewhere.

When I was little, my Papa would get me up in the mornings before school, and if it was cold he'd carry me downstairs and set me on my stool so my feet wouldn't have to touch the cold tile floor. Then he'd entertain and amuse me to the point that we'd both be cackling and Mom would yell, "Hey, some of us are still trying to sleep!" I think that only made us laugh harder. I credit my being a morning person to Papa, for teaching me that it's perfectly normal to be fun and a little bit zany early in the a.m.

Papa coached my little league team and taught me how to ride my bike, and even how to throw a punch. He taught me how to change the oil in my car, how to change a flat tire, and how to get up after I fell (and "quit feeling sorry for yourself!"). He showed me how to run a crane, and let me wear his hardhat to school on "What I Want To Be When I Grow Up" Day.

He amazed me with his ability to throw a ball so high in the air it disappeared, and that I could throw a ball 10 feet to the left of him and he could toss his glove to catch it. He taught me how to do crossword puzzles, and the cryptoquip (although I'm sure he regrets that now, since I routinely cream him during cryptoquip matches).

He tied my Bigwheel to the back of the riding lawn mower, so I could ride around behind him, and he built the coolest clubhouse that I've ever seen, complete with a fireman's pole to slide down.

He tried like hell to teach me not to swear, and protected me from the big, bad world as long as he could.

And he did all this with so much love and affection that it's hard to believe I'm not his biological daughter.

So, for you Papa, I've compiled this little list of great memories:
Madagascar Monkey Mucus Membranes
Elephant Rocks
"Turn here! Oh my God, you just went over the CURB!"
Noodles ala Alpo
Turn around and punch him in the nose!
Mama (also known as "haaa haaa haaaaaaa - ooooooh")
Lorraine The Crane
Cracking hardboiled eggs on your head
Polynesian Parrott Puke
Golf with your friends!
Brush your face and wash your teeth
Phlegm - Flem
Watching Mir cross the night sky, and looking through the telescope

ee-ya-eeeeee, Daddy! And happy birthday!

Monday, April 02, 2007


I retrieved a popsicle from the breakroom freezer (we have them here as treats for some training we're's not like I'm looking to offer spa-psicles now) and as I was slurping away on it I noticed the package says, "Quiescently Frozen Confection." Huh?

I actually had to look up "quiescently" to see what it means. It means, "at rest" or "in repose." What that has to do with making popsicles is beyond me, but there it is.

I hate it when my Cherry Twin Pop is smarter than I am.

Chip. On my shoulder. Not chocolate.

I could give you a blow-by-blow recap of our weekend, but that just doesn't seem very intriguing. Don't get me wrong...the weekend was perfectly fine. It was just nothing that would stimulate overwhelming intellectual thinking or be all that entertaining, really.

Plus, I'm rather testy today. No one reason, really. Just am.

Could be that in my frozen Chinese Sweet & Sour Chicken lunch, I've found exactly one piece of chicken. And it looks questionable at best.

Could be that the Cards looked like my fifth grade little league team last night for the season home opener (and the opener of MLB, thankyouverymuch) to boot. Could also be that it was broadcast for all the world to see on ESPN and was the only game to watch. Could be that I'm still pissed at Tony for making such a stupid mistake as to drink and drive. Grrrr.

Could be that we're now less than one week out from a one-day holiday, which is always just a giant pain in my rear-end due to the multiple-family issue. I hate holidays. Hate them. Commence worrying about whom I'm going to piss off this weekend.

Could be that I'm craving a freakin' soda like you wouldn't believe, but I can't have one because I gave up soda for Lent. Dumbass idea if I ever heard one. Next year it's Indian food. I shall give up all things curry for Lent. I hate curry, by the way, so it should be easier.

Could be that I worked on an Excel file for 90 minutes last week and then saved it (or didn't save it) God knows where, so I cannot find it today. And of course, my CFO has requested a copy. Bah.

So, yeah, it's not any one big thing, but a bunch of little stuff that all adds up to Giant Crabass. A veritable Mrs. Grouchypants, if you will.

Beanie has cheered me somewhat with this thought:
The Cardinals will not be able to serve beer any longer. Why? Well, they lost the opener.

Don't ask me why, but I found this insanely funny.