Friday, August 31, 2007

Birthday Bug

Yesterday my little Zoe Grace turned two, and I didn't post anything because I was busy spending the day with her and enjoying every minute of it. We played, ate breakfast and lunch together, read books, and played some more. We did puzzles, played hide & go seek (she's always the seeker...her choice), and gave lots of hugs and kisses to each other. When Daddy got home, we went to the Zoo. I have shots of her enjoying a couple carousel rides (she loves the tiger, "ROAR!", but insisted that Daddy take her on the wild boar first...she's quirky like that), and chasing a peacock in the Lakeside Pavilion. We also rode the train, barked like seals and took turns pushing the stroller (all three of us). We had a great time.

I feel like it was just yesterday that I was at the hospital with her in a little bassinet by my bed. She was so tiny, and even then was a joy to just be with. Many of the other new parents let the nursing staff care for their babies through the night, but M and I elected to keep Zozo in the room with us. She was such a good baby that it wasn't even an issue. They took her only one time, when they had to give her shots or something, and the two hours she was gone felt like something was missing. The three of us watched Hurricane Katrina unfold on CNN, greeted guests, and bonded.

Life today is considerably different, what with her being quite mobile and increasingly vocal, and having a very distinctive personality ("All done. Right now."), but it just keeps getting better and better.

M and I talked yesterday about how it's only been two years out of the almost-ten we've been married and almost-fifteen we've been together, but the pre-Doodlebug years are hard to remember. I can't imagine life any other way now, and don't even want to try.

Thanks to everyone in our lives who have showered us with love, affection, and gifts beyond measure the last two years (plus nine months!). We are doubly blessed to not only have our Zoe Grace, but to have all of you as well.

Happy Birthday, Bug! Mommy and Daddy love you more than anything!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Congratulations, Kindergartner!

My little nephew started Kindergarten today. And my little sister bawled her eyes out over it.

I think they both ultimately did fine, but you have to admit it's a huge turning point in your life when you start Kindergarten (or when your baby starts going to school).

Me? I got a few years to go before I face my own meltdown. This morning, though, it was hard to hear my sister's tears over the phone, even though I could hear pride mingled in with them. It was like a little glimpse into what the future holds for me.

She sent me the First Day shots, and I've pulled two to share with you.

He's a cute bugger, ain't he? He'll be knockin' 'em dead on the playground.

Seems like just yesterday I was holding him in my arms, looking down into his beautiful little baby face and thinking, "He's nothing short of a miracle, and I never thought I could love someone so much who I just met." And now he's a big kid, going to school and playing with his friends and learning, learning, learning. I realized that I'll never get to hold his entire body in my arms like that again, but I'll always hold him in my heart.

Congratulations, JoJoBean. Aunt Amy is very proud of you!

Farewell to Curves

I'm finishing up my year at Curves, and am transferring to The Lodge at Des Peres. There are many reasons behind this decision: it's less expensive, there is more equipment, the hours are better, it's closer to my other words, it was a no-brainer.

To leave Curves, one must do more than send an e-mail, as I discovered a month ago. One must actually give the owner a piece of paper with one's signature on it (picky, picky), at which point one's membership expires in 30 days. Since I turned in my paper right near the end of July, I figured I was good through August and then would join The Lodge at the beginning of September.

Much to my amusement, my scan card didn't work at Curves this morning. The owner was not there (thankfully, because yours truly doesn't much care for confrontations, no matter how pleasantly they are handled), so I asked my buddy who was working to check the system. Sometimes the cards can be a bit finicky. She checked...I had been stricken. Wow. So, like, yeah, it's 30 days exactly...not so much with "ride it out 'til the end of the month." Thankfully, my buddy let me work out anyway. I felt like a real renegade, although a little wave of guilt washed over me with every "Change stations now!"

It's not like I expected a bunch of fanfare when I left or anything, but damn, the owner didn't even fight for my membership. Not that she'd have won, given the long list of reasons I have for leaving, but still. And even though I'm leaving on my own terms, by my own decision, it hurts to be cast away from my old gym with not so much as a "don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out." I think part of my pain stems from the fact that every day when I'd scan in, a little screen would pop up welcoming me and saying how many times I had visited. It was motivating to watch that number tick up. It was well over 200 last time I was there.

The only thing that popped up this morning was, "That number isn't recognized."


So, we're off to The Lodge tonight to sign me up, so I can kill myself on the (h)ellipticals and treadmills and make an ass of myself while I learn to use the new machines. Wish me luck...I think I'm gonna need it. During my trial run, I accidentally mopped the sweat from my brow with the disinfectant-laden towel used to clean the machine instead of my Lodge-issued workout towel. Ouch.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mobile Blogging

I'm typing this on my cool BlackBerry, which, while cool is not real conducive to long posts. Kinda just wanted to see if I could update the blog from it. Whaddya know...I can! Now that I've proved it, my thumbs are tired. Plus I need to get back to work. Hello from O'Fallon!

Monday, August 27, 2007

First Day!

M started the new job today. And All the technology a boy could ever want, a great work environment, nice people, free coffee...the works.

He seems very happy, which is good, because if papa ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

This weekend we did a bunch of work around the house on Saturday, and on Sunday we took Zozo to ride the Pacific Wabash train in Glencoe, MO. She loved it, as evidenced by her repeated "woo woooo!" train horn sound the rest of the day. Took lots of pictures, but haven't downloaded them yet (story of my life).

I just realized a few minutes ago that I hadn't posted today, and thought I should since lots of people have been on pins and needles awaiting the word about M's new job. I could write more, but I'm pretty tuckered out. Call M later this week if you want details. But not tonight. He's tuckered out, too.

Probably won't get to post tomorrow as I'll be at our O'Fallon location working the mammogram van event. BJC is bringing their giant pink bus to our spa and doing mammograms in the parking lot. Can't beat publicity like that. Got into a minor squabble with the landlord this afternoon when he decided at 4 p.m. that he didn't have the necessary documentation to prove he wasn't liable if someone got hurt during the mammogram van event and decided to sue him. I suppose the multi-million dollar certificate of insurance BJC provided a week and a half ago wasn't enough to suit him. Grrrr.

So, we're beat, and we're gonna watch Shatner overact for another episode of Star Trek and then hit the sack. We've watched enough of them now that we can predict with fair certainty what's going to happen, although it took all of two episodes to figure out that whatever new crewman is featured in the opening scene will die, typically within minutes. I'm also able to say, "He's dead, Jim," right along with Bones whenever he's surveying the newly slayed, unfortunate crewman.

It's no West Wing, but M would've shot me had I suggested we start watching them over again after the three months it took to get through them the first time.

So, live long and prosper. Or something like that.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Go to work already!

M starts his new job on Monday!!!

This is good for a multitude of reasons.
  1. The sooner he starts working, the sooner he gets paid. It's that whole preferring a positive cash flow thing.
  2. The boy is damn near killing himself working in the yard. Yesterday he rented three (3!) machines and, with the help of his father-in-law, went to town with cutting and laying sod, and cutting and jackhammering blacktop. He came inside only after it got dark and he couldn't see any more.
  3. He has taken advantage of his days off to get to those projects we just haven't gotten to. Like ordering a shed. At this point, it's become more of an outbuilding, really. This ain't no Rubbermaid box from Home Depot. Nope. This be a 12'x18' building built by Mennonites in Himrod, New York and shipped to us whole. Hence the preparation work in item #2. The building will be great, but it needs to get here already as I'm tired of hearing about 8" centers on the floor joists (versus 16" centers, of course) and 2x6s (instead of 2x4s, naturally).
  4. He's tuckering himself out so much during the day that he simply doesn't have the energy to wait on me hand and foot at night. I'm hoping the new job will afford him this luxury.

We're really stoked about him starting. It's that whole fresh beginning thing. I love that. It's why I love spring, and cleaning out the house, and Monday mornings after trash pick-up. It's that whole concept of "anything can happen!" Which is very cool.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

No sale

There must be something in the air right now that makes all sales people go crazy. I've had two bad experiences with people trying to get me to purchase something from them in the last week.

One is a girl from a local television affiliate, who sends me proposals every now and then that I respectfully decline, over and over. They are never a good fit and are always ridiculously over-priced. She sent me one this past week, complete with an ambiguous statement about our commitment, no real dollars, just "an advertising investment on XXX." (No, I won't name the affiliate.) I replied with my standard, "Thank you ever so much for the opportunity, but I simply don't have the money in my budget to participate at this time." The woman actually responded with, "Okay, but I didn't even include a price?" To which she got my not-so-respectful, "I know my budget, and unless you're going to give the package to me, I know I don't have the money." She wrote back, "Good point."

Holy cow. When did it become okay for the vendor to fire off snippy questions to potential clients?

I've also been having an issue with Mr. Smarmy (not his real name) calling me about every 20 seconds, leaving long-winded voicemails that are getting increasingly agitated. You would think that not receiving a return call after a week of daily messages would be a clue that I'm not interested. Apparently Mr. Smarmy thinks it's an invitation to be a complete butt on my voicemail. After the fifth time, I finally called him back, if just to shut him up. He didn't answer, of course, and I was shunted into a general voicemail box. I left a very polite, but firm message, stating that while I appreciate the opportunity, I simply don't have money in my budget to participate at this time. Thank you and good day.

He kept calling. Over and over. He's even taken to zero'ing out of my voicemail box and instructing spa coordinators to go look for me. Um. No. So not okay. After receiving yet another message from him today, this one containing the barely restrained line, "I wonder if you're even getting my messages, because I know you would at least call me back either way," I called him back. Oooo, I was wound up, too.

Joy of all joys, wonder of all wonders, I got his supervisor. I very politely explained that I don't appreciate being harrassed, nor do I respond well to that method of "persuasion." He apologized profusely, and admitted that he's had a problem with Mr. Smarmy being too persistent. Yeah, uh huh. Is that what we're calling it?! He promised to leave a big note on Mr. Smarmy's desk instructing him to not call me. Ever. Again.

These people must have all taken the same class, "How to alienate people and lose customers."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Addiction, thy name is BlackBerry

Sorry for no post yesterday; I was at our O'Fallon location all day preparing for an event next week.

So I have this new phone, and it's pretty dang cool because it's got everything all packed into one little place. Very handy. To get the rebate, we had to sign up for the BlackBerry data package (that's where they get you, see, it's marketing trickery). I hadn't counted on having the data package to begin with, so our plan was to cancel the package after receiving the rebate check in the mail (we can be sneaky, too). I was content with having my phone, PDA, and music all in one nifty little package.

Only, now that I've got the data package and have rather enjoyed it, I want to keep it.

Which I think is what the BlackBerry marketing folks counted on. Tricky bastards.

I have gotten e-mails and voicemails in a timely fashion while out of the office. I've sent messages hither and yon from both my work and my personal e-mail addresses, and last night I even e-mailed a photograph (taken with the phone) to Stef. I've reviewed a restaurant menu on-line before ever arriving at the joint, and looked up phone numbers and addresses on the run.

In short, in less than a week I have become completely addicted to the technology. My name is Amy, and I'm high on my CrackBerry.

What's crazy is that I haven't even learned all of what this thing can do. I know there are features I haven't even explored yet, and tons of shortcuts I haven't learned.

Really, this thing is the OCD's equivalent of manna from heaven. I feel I've reached organization nirvana, and wonder how I ever managed my life before it. Certainly not in a timely and efficient fashion.

So here's what I predict will happen. I predict that in about two months we'll get our rebate check, and my darling, practical husband (having no clue just how strong my new addiction is), will innocently say, "Okay, time to turn off the data package." At which point he'll look up to see his wife, with sunken eyes and crooked thumbs, clutching her BlackBerry and growling, "Nooooo. You can't. I must have it. Grrrrrr."

Monday, August 20, 2007

No, I don't want fries with that.

It's rare for me, a bonified lover of dining out, to say, "Holy cow, please, can we just eat in tonight?" I have reached that point. In a very short time frame, I've eaten at Krieger's, Mike Duffy's, Bristol, the Panda Chinese place in the mall, Crazy Bowls & Wraps, Rich & Charlie's, Trainwreck, Dewey's, Nobu's, Pei Wei, and Farotto's. The food was all fantastic, but I do feel as though I could pop right now.

I'm also getting spoiled, as M hasn't started his new job yet and therefore I've seen him for lunch several times during the work week, including today when he brought the leftover goodies from Pei Wei and Farotto's at noon.

I had a fantastic birthday, and wondered yesterday if the birthdays themselves just keep getting better and better, or if I've just grown to appreciate them more. I think maybe a little bit of both.

Right now, though, I could really use just a grilled cheese samich and a bowl of soup in front of the boob tube after Zozo goes to sleep.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to making my birthday something special, including those of you who felt the need to sing to me over the phone. Really, you shouldn't have. And I truly mean that.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I need more cake

The day after a really good birthday is sort of a bummer. Kind of a let down. It's like right after you finish the last brownie in the pan, or, in M's case, the second you polish off your last ketchup-ham sandwich at Christmas.

We had sushi last night at Nobu's. Yum. It had been way too long since either of us had eaten some good bait. Saara and Lamping, you will be interested to know that Nobu has updated his little ex-IHOP and has new tables, chairs, lights, and even a new ceiling. It's a definite improvement, although I do miss the hole-in-the-wall feeling of the old decor. Granted, it's in an old IHOP, so no matter what you do you'll still have a bit of that, but the new stuff is a step up.

Anyway, the food was great, as usual, and we stuffed ourselves full of salmon, yellow tail, tuna and red snapper, plus a couple rolls, some edamame, a Sapporo each and some hot tea. Delish.

I'm glad today is Friday, as I'm plumb tuckered out from being the Birthday Girl. Today is a particularly slow Friday, too, which is refreshing. I've gotten a total of four e-mails today, and no phone calls. I think everyone is tired. Or maybe I've finally said no to every single media outlet in St. Louis and therefore none of their salespeople are calling me any more. "No, thank you, I don't have the money to advertise in the Married Women Who Work Part Time With Eight Children and Live in the St. Louis Suburb of Maryland Heights Weekly Newsletter." If there is a minor demographic niche in society, someone has a magazine (and is selling advertising space) for it.


Sorry, I think I just fell asleep there for a minute.

What slow, drowsy Friday afternoon. My officemates are all gone, too, so all I've got is the soothing hum of the air conditioner to keep me company. This is not helping my productivity levels.

All right. That's it. I'm going to crank up some good tunes and dive back in. Catch you on the flip side.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

O Happy Day

Ahhh, the Big Day. My Day of Birth. The excuse I have for everyone to pay special attention to me! (Because, you know, I like it to be all about me!)

It's marvy today, I must say. I can get used to this sort of treatment. Easily.
Have spent part of the day farting around with my new BlackBerry (thank you, M!), at one point on the verge of chucking it out the door due to my inability to get it functioning correctly. Turns out that if you just click around all over the place and get frustrated, it eventually starts working on it's own. It's just that smart. Its ability to overcome user error is quite impressive.
The BlackBerry is a wonderful tool in that it will allow me to streamline the media functions residing in my purse to one small, handy tool. Phone, calendar, contacts, music, e-mail, Web browser, camera...about the only thing it doesn't do is my laundry, and I'm pretty sure they're coming out with an upgrade for that.

Lunch today was Dewey's Pizza (mmmm) with a dessert of gourmet cupcakes from Jilly's (double mmmm). I'm so stuffed right now I'm contemplating crawling under my desk to take a nap. Notice I said cupcakes, plural. My friend thought it best to buy an assortment of cakes, so we could all try different flavors. What that really means is that we all ate way more cupcake than God ever intended. Urp.

All this and it's still early afternoon. What a fantastic day, eh?!

I read something recently that really resonated with me, and so I'll share it. Consider it my birthday present to you.

To live a happy, fulfilled life, stay away from toxic people and surround yourself with nourishing people. Well, duh. But the information went on to explain how you can identify toxic vs. nourishing. Not that it's all that hard, really, but it's nice to have a refresher every once in awhile. And this is such a simple way to do it.
Toxic people are one (or more) of the 5 c's: cheap, crabby, critical, complaining or cruel. Ick. Who wants to be around any of that?!

How do you find the nourishing people? They:
  • always have something nice to say about matter what you wear, how you look or what you do.
  • make it safe for you to ask any question or share any feeling. They don't beat you up for being yourself.
  • allow you to be fragile when times are tough...never taking advantage of you when you're already down.
  • challenge you intellectually, helping you think of new and better ways to handle situations.
  • are tender and gentle, giving you lots of validation and a limited amount of criticism.
  • bring fun and laughter into your life.
  • walk in when everyone else walks out.

I am so fortunate to be surrounded already by nourishing people, which is birthday present enough. So, what I'm going to try to do is to be a more nourishing person back to my nourishing people.

Cupcakes have nourishment, don't they? I've got a few left, if anyone wants some...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Pre-Birthday Gifts

Sometimes it takes a catastrophic event (like a looming birthday) to shake things up and show you that you're one of the luckiest girls in the world.

Actually, after my 30th, birthdays have ceased being catastrophic, but I'm sure as I approach 40 the angst will start up again.

But for now, birthdays are special days that involve special people showing me just how much they care.

Yesterday I got an e-mail from my darling friend Ping, who in her own humorous way made me crack up laughing in the simplicity of asking me to lunch. There are just some people who, with a single word, can shine a bright sun into your day.

This morning at Curves, one of my Early Girly friends gave me a small box and said, "Just a little birthday wish!" It was two little chocolate truffle-like creations, wrapped in yellow paper with a red bow. Means more than a million dollars to me, as does her friendship. Of course, you have to wonder about a friend who stops your exercise routine to give you chocolate, but I figured all sins are forgiven when it's your birthday. (As a note of explanation...the Early Girlies are we who exercise first thing in the morning. The term "girlies" is particularly affectionate as I'm the youngest of the bunch by about 30 years. I think they've rather adopted me, and you'll hear no complaints from me!)

Friends here at work have comandeered my lunch break tomorrow, and I've been tasked with choosing the time and the place. Can't ask for anything better than that.

And all these are the people who aren't even related to me!

M has turned up the juice on his usual good-guy-ness this week, too. I mean, the guy is always a good guy, that's just a given. But this week, he's going above and beyond. Although we've had quite the vigorous discussion (and teasing) about my birthday present. He asked last week what I wanted, and I told him. Then we went and looked at it. Then I decided I didn't want it, because it's a "nice to have" and not a "need to have." Then I changed my mind and decided that birthdays are perfect occasions to get the "nice to haves" instead of always being practical and getting the "need to haves."

M insisted, over and over, that we had decided that it was simply impractical and that it wouldn't be my present after all. After a couple days of this, I called his bluff. Yesterday as we ate breakfast, I said, "I know you. And I know that you're going on and on about how we're not getting this so you can go and get it and surprise me with it on my birthday." The boy cannot lie, he simply cannot, so it was hilarious to watch him grin and snicker and try to cover. Finally, after I made him try to look me in the eyes and not laugh as he said it, and he couldn't, he admitted that was his plan.

I love that boy.

What is the gift, you ask? Well, you shall have to wait and see. It's supposed to be a surprise, after all.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The bright side of a dark day

I subscribe to several different e-newsletters from marketing sources, motivational speakers, etc. One I received this morning had this quote: "I'm smiling because you've finally driven me insane." I think that's hilarious.

Last night we had the A/C man come over to check our system. It just didn't seem to be running very efficiently and we wanted to have a professional look it over. I think we'd have been better just letting it lumber through the rest of the summer. In attempting to create a hole through which to place a thermometer, the A/C man punctured the coil. Which, I learned, contains lovely things like freon and oil, all under a great deal of pressure. Which means that it comes howling out through the hole, filling the storage room and a good part of the finished area with a strange, eerie mist.

Of course, since it was now after 6 p.m. all the A/C coil-selling places were closed, so the A/C man promised to return first thing in the morning and left us in our now air conditionless house. Zozo spent the night at her grandparents', but we toughed it out with three fans. It wasn't that bad, really, but an annoyance nonetheless.

It hadn't been a great day all in all, and this was the icing on the cake. M and I tried to look on the bright side of things, as we usually do, and then I realized that I'm damn sick of looking for the bright side. I want there to be just one side, that being bright, and so therefore I don't have to look for it. It's just there. Right in front of me. No other sides.

Because trying to find the bright side of losing your air conditioner to human error on a day the temperature hits 101 degrees (and on the eve of the 104 degree day) is tough. There isn't much of a bright side to that. The bright side is that I don't have to go up to The Lodge to use the steam room? The bright side is that my skin is receiving all the benefits of a high humidity environment? The bright side is that we've replaced many of our lightbulbs with cool-burning CFLs, and so don't need to make it any more of an oven in here than it already is?

Yeah, those are some pretty weak ass bright sides. Hey, at least I'm trying!

Monday, August 13, 2007

New roads

Okay, okay. Since M isn't real keen on calling everyone we know and telling them his news, I'll just go ahead and post it here.

He got a new job!!!

Yes, he's very excited. Yes, he's really looking forward to it. Yes, his "old" boss was surprised. No, he doesn't know when he's going to start yet. Here are the details, in a nutshell and "Aim-ified" for easy understanding:
  1. It's at APC.
  2. APC makes surge protectors and server racks and cooling systems and the like...everything that has to do with keeping technology running.
  3. His title is Senior Product Manager.
  4. He's working with a new team on physical threat management, or, making sure all the IT folks across America know what's going on in their server closets at all times.
  5. APC is international, and M will be working at the O'Fallon, MO office.
Funny story, really. He was plugging away at work one day when the marketing dude sent him a link to the APC site. M doesn't remember what he was supposed to look at, but he's pretty sure it wasn't the job posting for a senior product manager. Oops! Anyway, that's the link he received, and when he read the posting he thought, "Hey, I could do this! What the heck...I'll shoot 'em a resume. Can't hurt!" Well, weeks and weeks later, after many rounds of phone interviews and two face-to-face interviews, he received an offer this past Friday, and accepted immediately. Simply too good to pass up. Salary and bennies are fantastic, and the job description sounds as though they wrote it specifically for M. It's all the stuff he loves to do and is great at.

As for me, I'm continuing on my tear to rid our home of absolutely everything that isn't vital for everyday life. I'm in full-on purge mode, and man does it feel good to have things cleaned out. I tackled the guest room/office Saturday while M was at the game, and came out with three trash bags full of old clothes and loads of other items on hangers for Dress For Success.

When I started, I had two piles going, "Keep" and "Go." After going through everything, I went through the "Keep" pile, and threw more of it into "Go." Then I went through it a third time, and what remained was mostly sorted into "Go" so that by the time I was done, very little remained. I tackled a few other places that had accumulated things of that sort, clearing them out, too (no mercy! no remorse! when in doubt, throw it out!), so that I feel like I can breathe in my own house again.

M is tackling his piles today, and when I last checked with him had made good headway. I'm so lucky to have married a man who hates clutter as much as I.

Am currently reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It's about a man and his son, struggling through burned-out America, trying to survive. I'm about halfway through it and I still don't know what exactly caused everything to be burned, but that's not a major focus. The point is, it's all gone, and humans have stooped to the lowest possible levels just to survive. The story is touching and depressing all at once, and makes me question, "Just what would I do to protect my child?" The answer is: All that and more. Whatever it takes.

My problem is this: The Road is not exactly the sort of uplifting material one wants to read during one's birthweek. (Yes, M and I have perfected the art of expanding our birthday celebrations to encompass the surrounding week and, daresay, month in some cases.) It's pretty graphic and chilling and downright depressing. So put it down, you say. Well, along with the graphic and chilling and downright depressing stuff, it's also damn good. As in, can't put it down. As in, must read to the end. As in, must find out how it ends or will never be able to think of anything else. (I tend to get caught up in really great books; see Harry Potter posts from a few weeks back.) So I can't put it down.

And there is no way in hell you'll ever catch me reading the end first. What's the point?! Why read anything if you're not going to do it correctly, and gather in all the plot twists and character turns as the author intended?

So my new, self-imposed, reading goal is to finish this thing before Thursday. It's proving to be a fairly easy read, so it shouldn't be a problem. I welcome suggestions for light, brain-candy reads to follow this heavy-duty novel...especially something that would make me laugh.

Friday, August 10, 2007


As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
-John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Life is good

Yesterday I was busy, and didn't have much to say.

Today I was at Chesterfield all day, doing that anal-retentive thing I do so well (I completely overhauled the retail shelves out there, with the help of two lovely fellow members of the PickyPants Society), and I have loads to say.

Sometimes, the planets align, and things all fall right into place. And though it seems like it was a long road while you were on it, now that you're at the end (which is, of course, nothing less than a new beginning), you realize that it was all worth it.

And you sit down, put your feet up, and drink a cold brewski.

And you think, ""

Tonight, I raise my pilsner to my husband, for whom I wish to shout from the cyber rooftops in joy, and to whom I say, "Congratulations, baby. You deserve it!"

So as to not steal his well-earned thunder, I shall let him tell you.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

My homage

Baseball isn't what it used to be
And perhaps it'll never be the same
Retro ballparks and vintage jerseys
Really aren't enough to bring it all back
Yet, somehow, the fans keep returning...

Beyond broken records and home run derbys
Only the true fans know
Never will the spirit of baseball be broken
Despite the "achievements" of a man on

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I need a CAT-apult

My attempt to get a long, sound night's sleep was completely thwarted by a small furry creature we call, "Max."

The scene: our peaceful house.
The time: 3 a.m.
The sound: Me-yooooooooooooow. Me-yoooooooooooow. (Repeat ad nauseum)

If I would've been able to catch the little #$%&er, he probably would've been tossed outside. Even though he's been declawed for years.

I finally gave up the chase and put some more food in his already half-full bowl, which seemed to appease him. I think he just relished the thought of a little 3 a.m. chase with Maummy around the house, and once that was done he was good.

The vet ran every test imaginable on our little tribble, only to tell us, "It's purely psychological." Then she suggested some anti-depressants for him, at which I scoffed and said, "No way!" Yeah, at 3 a.m. this morning I was ready to feed him bear tranquilizers to get him to shut up.

Needless to say I woke up, grudgingly, a bit grumpy this morning. M said, "You'll feel better once you exercise!" Yes, I thought. Just get me there. So off I went and started my morning work out (exercise in?), and about three stations into it I commented, "Huh. It feels really warm in here this morning." "Oh yeah, that's 'cause the A/C broke yesterday. They took the motor and everything. Should be fixed around 2:30 though!" Grrr. 83 degrees doesn't sound warm, until you're exercising in it.

The day has, for various other reasons, devolved into the sort of miserable hell for which Mondays are famous. This being Tuesday, I have yet another reason to be grumpy...who wants to have two Mondays in a row?! Every single little thing is just grating on me right now. It's one of those rare times where I wish I had my own office, so I could close the door and hide from my coworkers until the storm passes.

I'm trying desperately hard to be my normal, chipper self, and failing miserably. There is only one fail safe, fool-proof thing that can get me out of this...and I'm IMing her now.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Change stations now

When does something become a habit?

I know there are studies out there that say you have to do something consistently for like three weeks before it becomes a habit, but I think it's longer than that. I think it takes months for some things to become habit. Sometimes it may take a year of consciously choosing to do something before it becomes a part of your everyday life.

My thing is exercise. I've started and stopped so many things in the past, but nothing ever stuck. I did some exercise classes at Mizzou, but stopped when my friend quit teaching the step aerobics class. The summer after M and I were married we'd run every morning together, getting up to four or five miles. I stopped when it got cold. I used to do cardio kickboxing at Red Cross, but stopped when our instructor (who also worked at ARC) got promoted and couldn't do the classes any more. I took pre-natal yoga classes and loved them, but stopped near the end of my pregnancy when I threw myself into nesting like it was a second career. Besides, I'd have looked pretty funny going to a pre-natal yoga class without a bun in the oven.

Knowing this about myself, I've been reluctant to join a gym. Why pay a monthly membership fee if I was going to quit after a few months? Besides, all those machines are intimidating and I don't really want to exercise in front of Beautiful People who look as though they don't need to exercise.

Then a few things happened that changed my outlook. First, I gained a boatload of weight (hello, baby!). Second, I got a new job that was much more conducive to exercise (flexible hours!). Third, I got sick of feeling like crap all the time and knew I needed to get moving. Fourth, I had a friend who was raving about Curves for Women.

So, I'm pleased to report that this month makes one year that I've been an exerciser. I'm one of those people now. Those people who "work out" every morning and complain if they don't get to. I am loathe to call it "working out" though, because I think that's just a stupid term. I am not working, I am exercising. I'm not even outside, I am inside. I am exercising in, not working out.

The Curves philosophy is simple...come in and go from machine to machine, in a big circle, changing stations every thirty seconds when a disembodied female voice tells you to. As my friend who recruited me put it, "You can do anything for thirty seconds," so even machines you hate aren't bad. You go around about three times and you're done. Good music plays and, if you're lucky like me, you make a ton of new friends who are also moving around the circle. Curves recommends you go three times a week. I like it so much I go at least five. Sometimes I go on the weekends, too, but my Curves doesn't really have conducive weekend hours.

My original friend has since moved on; her husband got her a hoity toity personal trainer for Christmas. But I've got tons of "new" friends who are wonderful women. They inspire me every day, and share great information like which restaurants to avoid and which I absolutely must try. It's like exercising at your girlfriend's house. They all go for coffee at Starbucks after we exercise, to which I have a standing invitation. I always decline, though, since I'm a member of the working world and must go off to earn my keep.

See, my Curves is the one in Ladue, so I exercise every morning with "ladies who lunch." One of the wealthiest women in St. Louis goes around in a circle with me five days a week. This morning she was lamenting the fact that she has house guests and two new servants, having just lost two she's had for five years. She said it's difficult because she can't just climb out of the pool now and go about her business, she actually has to stop and ask her guests if they are comfortable and if they need anything to drink since she hasn't properly trained the two new servants yet.

It's remarkable to me how different our lives are, mine and this woman's, and how it doesn't seem to matter. I like her, she likes me, and we all have a grand time going 'round. I'd have never had the chance to meet this woman if I hadn't started exercising at Curves last year. It's not as though we travel in the same social circles (she's in the Multiple Servants Circle, whereas I'm solidly in the No Servants Circle), and I'd probably have been too intimidated had I met her at a fundraiser or something. She's absolutely one of the nicest women in the'd never know she's got more money than God.

Maybe that's why people go to the gym. You know, beyond the whole keeping-your-body-healthy thing. Exercise is a good habit, but so is meeting people who give you different viewpoints and expand your mind.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Take a load off

In keeping with my theme of finding (sometimes rather colorful) chairs in (sometimes odd) outdoor places that started with Blue Chairs in Old San Juan (see above), here is some of my take from our recent trip to to A2:

Birfday fun

Steffers got a birthday card yesterday that is so funny, and makes me laugh so much, that I simply can't resist posting the gist of it here.

Two gals on the front of the card.

Gal #1: So where's your birthday party at?
Gal #2: You shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition.
Gal #1: Fine. So where's your birthday party at, bitch?

Waaaaaaa haaaaaaaaaaa haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Ah, that kills me!

(Happy birthday, beyotch! I'm hoping that by posting it belatedly on the blog, Those Who Keep Tabs On Such Things will be fooled and won't count it as a Tribute.)

Wish she had a flip-top head

Turns out that brushing a two-year-old's teeth is yet another adventure in the live-action themepark called Parenthood.

We decided that last night was The Night To Start Brushing Zozo's Teeth. Don't know why that particular night, really, just did. Heck, she still doesn't even have all her teeth yet (she only has 10), but we figured what the heck, let's start takin' care of the few she's got.

She did very well, having closely watched Mommy and Daddy brush their own teeth for quite some time now. She is always mesmerized by what we're doing, and got huge thrills out of holding Mommy's toothbrush (she must be easily amused).

I'm a big tooth person. That is not to say I have large teeth, just that I consider teeth a pretty big deal. I take very good care of my own, brushing twice a day every day, and flossing probably more than the average person. I have only two fillings (I'm very proud of that), and whenever I go to the dentist for a cleaning I'm never there long as there isn't much build-up to clean off. That's fine by me, because who really wants to spend hours at the dentist? You could say I'm the poster child for good oral hygiene.

My parents shelled out a gob of money when I was in junior high to have my teeth straightened when there was plenty else on which they could have spent their hard-earned cash, so I still wear my retainers every night. My orthodontist told me that I'd have to wear them every night for the rest of my life to keep my teeth straight, so given how much money it took to get them straight and the fact that I couldn't consume caramel for 18 months while wearing braces, I've decided that I'd rather wear the retainers than go through that again. I can count on one hand the number of times I've skipped wearing my retainer since I got my braces off twenty years ago, because I remember that the last time I did, it hurt to put the damn things in the next night. My teeth had shifted that much in just one night.

Given all this, I figured last night it was high time to start my daughter on the same path to being OCD about her teeth. We got out her baby toothbrush and her baby toothpaste and prepared to start. M's question was, "How do we teach her to spit?" Yeah, not so much with the teaching her to spit yet, as it would be far harder to then teach her when not to spit. After reassuring him that her toothpaste is indeed made to be swallowed, we began.

It's rather hard to brush someone's teeth when all she wants to do is chew on the toothbrush.

Actually, she did really well given that she had no real clue what was going on. M was cracking up next to me, which made it hard for me to keep a straight face, which made it hard for Zozo to not laugh. Finally, I said, "Okay! Daddy's going to try now!" I think trying himself made him laugh even harder.

All in all I'd consider it a success, and we'll now add brushing Zozo's teeny tiny pearly whites to our bedtime routine.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Would you like curls with that?

I'm getting my hair colored and cut tomorrow, both of which are desperately needed, and I'd like to try something new. Those of you who know me well know that I hate having the same hairstyle for more than six months. You also know that I'm typically too lazy (even though I work in a spa with hair stylists) and too cheap (even though I get an employee discount) to keep up on my hairstyles, the result being my hair gets way too long with horrible roots before I finally scream, "Enough! Do whatever you want!"

So, in a quest to avoid my usual practice of sitting down in my favorite stylist's chair and saying, "I don't care, just fix it," I decided to search for a new 'do on the 'net.

I typed in "medium curly hairstyle" which gave me styles that are way too long for what I currently have on my head. Since I'm not getting extensions (see "cheap" reference above), I changed my query to "short curly hairstyle." I was sailing along through the pages, skipping over the vast majority of them, when I hit this:

I wish I were kidding. Apparently, I look like a box of Arby's curly fries.

We curly girls are so misunderstood.

How to help

It is probably a good thing we don't have cable, as we would have been glued to CNN last night to watch the tragedy of the 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis. As it was, M had to tear himself away from his computer to avoid spending the entire night fixated on it. Our friends and family who are located there are all accounted for, but we will continue to pray for those who aren't as fortunate.

I'm glad I do not work at the American Red Cross anymore, simply because it was hard to be more than just a witness to history. At the Red Cross, every disaster has profound implications beyond watching everything unfold on television. Fundraising, gathering volunteers to send out, staging emergency blood drives, and the public relations that go along with all those mean long, extremely busy hours. During 9/11, I remember feeling guilty as I took a five minute break to watch a TV as the first tower crumbled. We were so busy we assigned a staff member to watch the news and keep us updated when something "big" happened. We put in 18 hour days without batting an eye. It was important, it was worthwhile...we were helping our country. I'd go home at the end of the day with 9/11 fatigue, cringing when M wanted to watch the news and catch up on what had happened.

Then the negative publicity started about our fundraising policies. That was probably just as hard to take as the initial crisis. No one who works at a not-for-profit is in it for the money. No one, not even the CEO. We spent our donated money frugally, and with care, knowing we were stewards not just of money but also of the trust of the American people. The media (and one particularly crotchety senator) lambasted us for spending donated money to upgrade our telephone system (that was overwhelmed with calls and couldn't handle the volume) and purchase new vehicles (to replace those that had simply worn out while repairing the rest). In St. Louis, we sent our ERV (Emergency Response Vehicle) to New York after 9/11 and got it back a year later with considerably more miles, beat to hell and missing a side mirror. I'm not sure how to fix or replace vehicles like that if we don't use some of the donated money.

The complaint seemed to be that the Red Cross used its donated money however it saw fit, and if there was some left over from this disaster, it'd use it for the next. Somehow that got twisted around to be a bad thing, in that if people thought they were donating for 9/11, the money should only be used for 9/11. This raises a whole host of issues, not the least of which is it's damn near impossible to raise money for a future, unknown disaster. You can't combat the "it'll never happen here, to me" syndrome. We didn't spend money unneccesarily...just what was enough to get the job done right. What was left over went into reserves for the next disaster. The response time of the Red Cross is amazingly quick simply because of that reserve of funds, just waiting for something to happen. It needs to be there, and it needs to be replenished.

Even though I no longer work for the American Red Cross, I'm so proud of that organization that I could simply burst. I got tears in my eyes last night when, mere hours after the tragedy occurred, it was announced that the Red Cross had already set up operations next to the fallen bridge and was helping victims, their families, and the emergency responders. I thought about all my old colleagues who sprung into action, knowing just what to do. I thought about all their families who will be missing time with them as they mourn the nation's loss in Minnesota. (It had to be hard to be my spouse after 9/11, as I was not home very much, frequently tired, and stressed out beyond belief. Red Crossers' families bear the brunt of their loved ones' dedication to the cause.) I thought about my old friends who went through 9/11 with me, and are still struggling with the ramifications of Katrina, and who are undoubtedly willingly serving for this new disaster.

So, instead of watching this unfold on television, shaking your head and wondering, "I wish I could do something...", do something. Your donation might not help with this disaster, but it'll help with the next one, and the next. Don't have any money? Do something else. Your blood may not help a single victim in Minneapolis, but it could help up to three people right here in your neighborhood.

When things like this happen, the best thing to remember is that we are all truly in this together, and only through the generosity of our fellow countrymen do we ever emerge in triumph.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Hoot takes a dip

Last night: calamity.

As M drew Zozo's bath and I pulled off her firecracker dress, she decided, in her bathtime excitement, to plunge Hoot The Owl into the bubbly depths.

Actually, she sorta just launched him into the tub, but I thought "plunge" and "bubbly depths" were too good to pass up.

M made a valiant effort, but Hoot sailed off the tips of his fingers...plunk. D'oh!

He was rescued at once, of course, but not before the damage was done. For once in his long owly life, Hoot was soaking wet from something other than Zozo's kisses.

We rushed him to emergency, placing him carefully in the dryer on the special rack for non-spin items and starting with Air Dry. Didn't want to melt Hoot's plastic eyes, you see, or his synthetic beans. Then we proceeded with the bath.

After the bath, M went and checked on our little moist friend. Still soaked. He set the dryer to "delicate," bumping it up to Low Heat and let Hoot take a ride around a few times. We stalled some more. Lotion, jammies, and animal kisses. Dumped her clothes down the chute, and M went one more time. No go. He was still pretty soaked, although now producing some steam.

Sigh. It looked as though Zozo was going to have to sleep Hootless.

As we went to lay her down in her crib, she looked up at us inquiringly, asking with her big blue eyes where her best friend was. Then she started it. She called him, softly, over and over again as we lay her down. "Hoo hoooo. Hoo hoooo. Hoo hoooo."

I'm pretty sure that's when my heart broke into a million little pieces and tears sprung to my eyes. For the first time in her almost two years, I couldn't give her what she was so sweetly asking for. Damn near killed me.

Almost an hour later, we crept back into Zoe's room with a newly dried Hoot and placed him lovingly at her head. We tiptoed back out, congratulating ourselves and saying, "Well, at least she'll wake up with him!"

Then this morning we went in, she squealed and promptly flung Hoot down on her bed. Well, at least two of us are looking out for his best interests.