Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Boo...HOOT!

She's just so damn adorable that I couldn't wait to post some pix from tonight. I'll throw up the ones from the pumpkin carving last night first, just to keep us in chronological order.

Step 1: Mommy and Daddy discuss what design we'd like. There is usually some sort of symbolism involved. Last year, the pumpkin had one tooth on the bottom, on the right. Just like Zoe at the time. This year, we decided upon two teeth, in honor of her two years.
Step 2: Mommy draws the design on the pumpkin, while Daddy reminds her, "Draw it small! Draw it small! I cut outside the lines!" It's at this point Mommy wants to draw a pirate mustache on Daddy with the Sharpie.
Step 3: Prop Zozo on the counter to get a picture. You can't see it, but my slippered foot is up on the edge of the counter, just in case Zozo decides to make a break for it and swan dive off the counter. We're all about safety here.

Daddy begins carving while Zoe looks on. She lasted about 20 seconds before squirming. We let her down and she had a blast running one of her push cars into the wall at the end of the hallway while Daddy kept working and Mommy hovered, driving him batty.

The finished product...three smiles. Four if you count Hoot there in the middle, who I like to think is always smiling. As much as you can smile with a beak.

Trick or treat! It's Hoot and...HOOT! Thanks to Grammy's handiwork (holy crap, that woman can sew), Zozo was Hoot this year for Halloween. She was absolutely adorable, and killed everyone with her "Hoo hoooo! Hoo hoooo!"

M wanted an "environmental shot" of Hoot in the tree, so he held her up, in a tree, while I grabbed a few shots. She thought it was hilarious, because she likes being held up high, and because she likes leaves. And probably because we were all laughing.

Here's Grammy (or Meme, as Zozo has taken to calling her) with her little Hoot. She went all out with this costume, even making little booties that go over Zoe's shoes, complete with toenails. You can see them on Zozo's left foot if you look closely. She also made Zozo a little orange Halloween bag that has her name on one side, and a duplicate of the owl face from Zoe's hat on the other. Cute! (Thanks, Mom. You rock!) (And thanks for the kick-ass chili, too.) (And the beer for M.)

Boo!

Happy Halloween to all you creepy-crawlies in cyberspace!

There's always that time on Halloween morning when you climb into your car and drive to work and wonder, "Is today really Halloween? Because if I'm dressed up as a Harley biker girl and no one else is dressed up, then I'm going to look kinda silly."

Like seeing a Harley biker girl driving a four-door sedan with a car seat strapped in the back isn't silly at all.

Zozo will be visiting the spa this afternoon, which will be the first time she'll be in her full costume. From there we have quite a few visits to make...since when did trick-or-treating become a city-wide jaunt?! I'm pretty sure this will continue until she's old enough to say, "Screw this! I'm hitting the houses is my neighborhood and scoring a shitload of candy!" Okay, so hopefully she won't be saying "shitload" any time soon, but you get my drift.

We carved the pumpkin last night, about which she was wholly unimpressed until it was done. I have a few shots but don't have them downloaded yet. Waiting for the motherload that will happen throughout today.

In the meantime, to hold you over, here is an adorable shot of her brushing her teeth after her bath one night. I took this with the BlackBerry, which isn't great quality-wise, but is perfect for sending instantly to M when he's not home, so he can still feel a part of what's happening on Planet Zoe.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Quick change

This morning we did a little number I like to call The Clothes Shuffle, or, How Many Outfits Can We Dress Our Toddler In Today?

First, some background: Zoe is in a very weird in-between stage with her clothes. She's outgrown much of her 24 months, but isn't quite in 2T yet. Silly me, once upon a time I thought they were the same. Wrong!

Anyway, I've learned that children's clothes are much like women's clothes...basically, the tags are useless. She has some clothes that still fit, or finally do fit, and the tags say 18 mo. She's outgrown some other ones that say 24 mo. It's crazy. We put a cute pair of 2T bell bottom jeans on her last week and her cuffs were 4 inches tall, but they fit her in the waist (which is remarkable because she's so tiny and has no hips, so pants mostly fall right off her and she walks around looking like a toddler rapper with her diaper band hanging out and her crotch around her knees).

She had a birthday recently, too, which equals tons of great new clothes, and then we hit the change of seasons (which took forever this year...hot, cold, hot, cold, hot, cold). All this combines to create an absolute nightmare in her dresser drawers. There are clothes stuffed every which way. I had them fairly well organized, you know, shirts in one, onesies in another, pants and skirts in yet another. Now it's like the sale rack at Macy's in there. I have a laundry basket full of clean clothes for her that's camped out in our bedroom because I can't bring myself to take it in there and cram it in with all the other clothes.

It's easy for me to put together outfits for Zozo because I'm the person who pays attention to the clothes when they are first unwrapped (which means I know what tops go with what bottoms) and because I pay attention to things like, oh, colors. M, not so much. Last week, he dressed her with her shirt on backwards and her socks inside out (although he blames one of the socks on me, like that equals the backwards shirt plus the other sock). She looked like a girl who just finished shacking up with her toddler boyfriend.

Anyway, even with her drawers a mess, I find it mildly annoying but still perfectly do-able to pull together an outfit for her on a daily basis. This week, though, our schedules are a bit changed up and M is getting her up before I get home from exercising. I walked in this morning and he was putting on the finishing touches. The outfit was adorable, and all matched, and was on the correct way, and was entirely too small. We stood her up and her little belly was hanging out.

After surveying her for a moment (both of us internally leaning towards just letting her go like that, for the sheer sake of time and effort), we agreed that it would never do and something had to give. So we stripped off the jacket and the shirt, and put a new shirt on. New shirt is long enough, but now hangs past the jacket, so I pulled a different jacket out and threw that on. M said, "Doesn't that jacket have matching pants?" Yep. Dug out the matching pants and M held her up by her armpits while I stripped off the small pants and suited her up in the long pants. It was the toddler equivalent of a quick-lube oil change. We were a well-oiled machine right there, team effort, the pit crew with the fastest change time.

Zoe, I'm sure, thought we were insane for ever having dressed her in the small outfit to begin with, not to mention the piecemeal changing of her entire ensemble.

Some time this week I'll have to empty her drawers and organize again. Not tonight, though, as it's pumpkin carving night and there's no way I'm tackling dresser drawers on the same night we're gourd gouging.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I see

10 seconds on my right eye.

15 seconds on my left eye.

After 24+ years of wearing glasses and contacts, 25 seconds was all it took to give me 20/20 vision.

On Friday, I had LASIK done. To both eyes. Hence, no post. And no posts over the weekend, either. Doctor's orders to rest both eyes. No TV, no computer, no reading. No exercise on Saturday. You might as well shoot me as far as entertainment options go, but it was worth it.

So, here are my answers to the FAQs I've been receiving:
  1. No, it didn't hurt. At all. Any part of it. Or after.
  2. Dr. Stephen Wexler at TLC on Ballas. He rocks.
  3. We were in and out in about an hour, start to finish.
  4. Vision is watery right after due to the tons of drops they put in, but I could immediately tell that I could see distance.
  5. Yes, you are awake and completely aware during the whole thing, but it's okay because it doesn't hurt and because Dr. Wexler walks you through everything.
  6. It looks pretty freaky, like a psychedelic light show of blueish-purplish light coming at you in a tunnel.
  7. Only discomfort is that my eyes sometimes feel dry, which is immediately corrected with eye drops. For those of you who wear contacts, it feels like when you sleep with your contacts in.
  8. No eye make-up (yikes!) for week, and three kinds of drops four times a day for a week. No rubbing. Wear sexy plastic eye shields at night. Other than that, no restrictions.
  9. Vision is a little hazy, especially when looking at light sources. Due to slight swelling in the eyes and should subside in a week.
  10. Hell yeah, I was nervous, and told Wexler that I was completely ready to toss my cookies when he walked in the door. Turns out, nothing to be nervous about. At all.
This is about one of the most remarkable things in the world, in my opinion. To go from being so nearsighted that things two feet away started to blur to being able to see everything, near and far, with no glasses or contacts at all, in a matter of seconds, blows my mind.

Wexler, cool dude that he is, played music during my procedure. REO's "Roll With the Changes" and the B52's "Love Shack" combined with the light show made it a helluva lot easier. I was still shaky afterwards, but I'm pretty sure that was due to the adrenaline and nerves. The valium they gave me to help me relax took care of that pretty quick. (FYI, valium comes after you get home, not before the procedure, as they want you completely with it while they're firing a laser at your eyes).

I also asked for x-ray vision, laser vision and night vision. X-ray vision would come in handy in several scenarios, such as checking on Zozo without opening her incredibly loud, squeaky door and seeing what's in the fridge without letting all the cool air out. Night vision, well, for obvious reasons. And who doesn't want laser vision from time to time to, you know, incinerate things at will.

I'll settle for the distance correction, though.

First thing I did Saturday morning, after my follow-up appointment where it was confirmed that yes, I do indeed now have 20/20 vision, was go to Target and get some big ol' Hollywood-style shades. Helps with the bright light haze phenomenon, and also because it's been years since I got to buy "fun" sunglasses. So now I look totally glamorous. Or like a big bug. Whatever.

And just FYI, because I asked (because I'm weirdly curious about strange things), the flap he created on my corneas to let the LASIK do it's thing swung up. The hinge is on the top. Groovy, huh?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Little blue boxes and missing blue pants

I think one of the great things about having a really, really good husband is being able to be indulged and surprised at the same time. And that I get to laugh. A lot.

So last night my hubby came home (late, after a "team building exercise" that was really just an excuse for him and all his colleagues to leave work early and go play dodgeball on a big trampoline mat) and we were laying in bed talking, which is one of the best parts of my day, and I said, "Sooooo, where is it?"

"Where is what?"
"My present!"

The boy has been saying for days that my present was the BAS sitting in our backyard. Specifically, the larger windows and shutters that he upgraded just for me. Can't you feel the love?

But he's also been quite mysterious, and he doesn't play mysterious well. He can't lie. He just can't. And he knows this. When he lies (or tries to lie, that is), he smiles or laughs, and he won't look me in the eye. I figured this out, oh, like 14 years ago, and he knows it, but he keeps trying and failing miserably.

So when he told me the other night that he had to "stop at the store" on the way home, I knew he was up to something. If he's got to stop at Sam's, he says he's going to Sam's and he's getting milk, fruit and cereal and do I need anything. If he's going to Home Depot, he says he's going to Home Depot and getting weed killer, lawn bags and fertilizer and do I need anything. If he's going to "the store" and gives no other details, well, then he's up to something.

So last night, because I have the patience of a termite, I asked, "Where is it?"

And he indulged me and said I could have my present early. I had to hide in the bathroom while he went and retrieved it from the super-secret hiding place, but I could have it early.

Let's just say, the boy did good. Goooooood.

First of all, he got me something from Zoe. How adorable is that?! Zoe's gift is a letter lock charm for my Tiffany bracelet, the letter "Z." For Zoe, of course. Coincidental that it's also the initial of our last name? I think not.

He did confess to me later that he hadn't intended on purchasing the charm; it was an impulse buy.

My husband doesn't like to frivolously spend money, but he'll impulse shop in Tiffany & Co. Yep. Pretty sure I picked a good one.

We added the Z to my bracelet right then and there, so I'd get to wear it today. Which I am. And loving it.

Then, he pulled out his gift to me. It was another blue box. Bigger than the first one. Ooooo.


One of the great things about receiving a blue box from Tiffany is that the box itself, with the beautiful white ribbon, is so meaningful. I know that when he pulls out a blue Tiffany bag, with the blue Tiffany box with the white ribbon, that I must be someone very, very special.

He gave me an absolutely beautiful Tiffany & Co. Elsa Peretti necklace. Elsa Peretti is an Italian designer who started creating pieces for Tiffany in 1974. She derives much of her work from the fluid forms of nature, and the open heart is one of her signature pieces. The clasp is a tiny sterling silver bone that goes through an open heart. I couldn't find the necklace on Tiffany's site, but I did find the bracelet so you can get an idea of what it looks like.
My necklace looks just like this, only longer, with more hearts and pearls.
It is delicately beautiful and simply gorgeous.
And I'm still in shock.
It's safe to say that when he said he was going to "the store," I didn't dream that the store was Tiffany.
When the tears welled up in my eyes, and I choked out, "You shouldn't have spent this much..." he responded, "Our 10-year anniversary only happens once."
And then I gave him the new Bruce Springsteen CD I picked up for him, and mumbled something about the BAS, and how I didn't know we were going all out with gifts for this occasion as usually we don't. And he told me he loved the Springsteen CD, and he meant it so genuinely that I almost cried all over again (and am about to again, now, just remembering it), and that he doesn't want anything but what we have (meaning the BAS and, you know, our undying love for each other, that sort of thing), and I fell for him all over again, for the gajillionth time.
And then this morning we had this conversation:
M: "Where are my blue pants?"
A: "What?"
M: "My blue pants. You said you washed them a few days ago, but they're not here."
A: "I don't remember that."
M: "Well, they're not in the closet and they're not downstairs, so where are they?!"
A: [Not out loud, of course] "Oh, boy. We've lost another article of clothing. Again."
We both looked in the closet, him becoming more agitated and me thinking, "Jeez, are we really doing this again? So soon after the missing-shirts-found-in-Austin incident?"
Then he told me to keep getting ready for work; he was going back downstairs to continue looking. As soon as he left the bedroom I checked his luggage (still sitting in the corner from his last trip) and pulled out the missing blue pants.
And I thought, "We are so perfect for each other."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Give a little bit

Two weeks ago my colleague who is trying to have a baby had her first IUI treatment. For those of you fertile people who don't know, that's a procedure we strugglers sometimes use when we need a little help getting the boys to the right place. If you want more information, google it. M and I were extremely lucky...we didn't have to go that far, but we were on the verge of trying.

So two weeks ago my colleague had her first IUI. Then she started the grueling two-week wait. My wait was something entirely different, as my problem was ovulation. Or, rather, lack thereof. Regardless, a wait is still a wait, and any waiting when you're trying to have a baby is excruciating. Especially when the wait ends and you're no closer to being where you so desperately want to be.

Today, after our management meeting, I caught up with her in the hallway. I couldn't remember the exact timing of her procedure so I asked if she had any news. Her eyes filled with tears and she informed me that her visit to the restroom after the meeting had told her that her wait was over, at least for this month.

All I could do was cry with her, and hug her, and hold her, right there in the hallway. I think I hugged her for at least five minutes while she (and I) cried, and coworkers swirled around us on their way to and from the breakroom. I patted her back and told her what had always made me feel better, "You will be a mommy some day. You will."

I didn't get into whether it would be through conception of her own or adoption or any of the other myriad ways to become a mother as it's still too early in her process, and adoption is that last resort, almost an admittance of defeat, when you so desperately want to conceive your own.

Then I went and fetched her a flyer I got from my old infertility counselor advertising a support group just in time for the holidays. When I went to my support group, my therapist, in order to keep costs down for us, held our meetings in her colleague's office (her office was entirely too small). It wasn't ideal, but it was relatively inexpensive for her, which made her relatively inexpensive for us. At that point I'd have met those women in a cardboard box because they meant that much to me.

Maria, our therapist, had explained way back then that even those of us who finally conceived and had children would carry the emotional scars of what we had been through for the rest of our lives. I didn't know what she meant back then (how could I?), but I know now. There isn't a day that goes by that I'm not reminded in some way of the pain I felt, and what I had struggled for. Every single day I thank God for Zoe. Not that women who conceive easily don't, but it's different for those of us who had problems. I can't explain it. It's like gratitude with an edge, an ache, that will never go away.

So, after many months of wishing I could help, somehow, make a difference, somewhere, I finally pulled my head out of my ass, ran an idea past my boss, and called Maria. "I have an Oasis Room here at the spa..."

Maria came by last week and I gave her a tour of the space, and then we went to lunch. She's a very special person to whom I owe so much that the mere donation of a room for infertilty support group meetings will never be enough. She's thrilled with the space, though, and November 5 starts our new partnership, and hopefully the light at the end of a very bleak tunnel for women who want to have babies and need support. Because of our donation, she can have a few more women in each group, and can offer scholarships for those who might not otherwise be able to attend (infertility treatments are expensive, and many times there simply isn't money left over for the emotional care that is so vital and necessary).

Tonight after bathtime, brushing teeth and lotion ("on the baybay, to keep her, keep her soft and smoooth") and a clean diaper and jammies, after we turned off the lights and turned on the humidifier and kissed all the animals goodnight, I held my daughter, thought of my friend and the countless other women out there hurting, and said my daily prayer of gratitude for the blessing that is Zoe and then another one for all my struggling sisters. And I cried again.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

m&m and M

As if I don't need constant reminders that I'm married to an engineer, things happen on an almost daily basis that reinforce it.

After reading one of yesterday's posts, M took the time to actually consider whether 13% of the m&ms in each bag really are red. First, he tried to figure out how many colors there are, coming up with six: brown, yellow, green, blue, red and orange. (I admit, I don't know if those are the actual colors; I'm just repeating what he came up with last night.) Then he started doing that thing where he starts mumbling and I hear bits of different numbers and his eyes go all unfocused and I know that the gears are spinning extra fast in his head. Sometimes I have the urge to duck when that starts happening.

Finally he announced, "Well, there obviously aren't equal amounts of each color in each bag." Well, duh.

Then he asked if I had actually dumped out my mini-bag of m&ms and counted them, then figured the percentages.

Um. No. They were in my mouth too fast for that to happen.

It's called "Google," and it's our friend.

For our anniversary, I should have ordered the custom m&ms and had math signs put on them for him: + - = * /, and maybe those other signs that I don't really remember much from Rolla due to blocking out unpleasant memories of flagging Calc II: sine, cosine, secant, cosecant. I wonder if they can print a sigma on an m&m.

On second thought, I could just get him the regular bag of m&ms and tell him I had them all printed with "M" just for him.

Monday, October 22, 2007

By Request: Psychology of Human Sexuality

Normally I do not take requests for blog postings, and in fact, discourage it. I write this for me and no one else. Not even M or Zozo. Although I'm sure that Zozo, when she reaches her teenage years, will be sufficiently mortified by her mother's musings so as to make me declare, "But I did it all for you, honey!"

There are a few people out there who feel the need to police my blog, giving me running commentary on my subjects, content and quantity, and to them, I say "Phooey!" I'd like to say something stronger, but most of the time this is a family-friendly blog. Except when I curse. Which is often.

Anyway, I've recently received a request from a new reader whom I've never met, but whom I've heard good things about. Her name is Colleen, and apparently she's a really smart cookie, and we do share an alma mater and at least the knowledge of (and perhaps the transcripts from?) the same class at Mizzou. That class is called Psychology of Human Sexuality (yup, just lost the family-friendly rating), and Colleen, after reviewing some recent posts, threw out that I should blog about it.

You know I loves me a challenge, so here goes.

Psychology of Human Sexuality is pretty much just that. It's like your average public middle-school health class on steroids. The University of Missouri - Columbia offers Psych 2810 every fall and spring semester, and possibly every summer (I don't know for sure about the summer session, having been at Mizzou over only one summer and having already passed Psych 2810 by then). The official course description in the student catalog is as follows:
Survey of research on sexual behavior including sex norms, gender identity,sexual dysfunctions, sexual deviation, homosexuality, and legal aspects of sexual behavior. Attendance at small group discussions may be required at the option of the instructor.
Now, I can honestly tell you that this is the first time I've ever read the actual course description. "How can that be?" you ask. "You signed up for the course! You must have read the description!" Well, let me explain. In my college days, I was known to do what certainly all good college students do every once in awhile. Sign up for a slam-dunk. When I was there, way back in the stone ages when course numbers were only three digits instead of four, I heard through the student grapevine that if you wanted an easy A, you took Psych 210 (or whatever number it was back then). Here was the official word-of-student-mouth description:
Want an easy A? Want to see new things? Want to hang out in a gigantic lecture hall with 400 strangers while someone discusses the birds, the bees, and things that made you squirm when your parents cornered you to "talk" back in grade school? Take Psych 210, and take it during the spring semester, with LoPiccolo.
When I was there, two professors taught Psych 2810: LoPiccolo and the other guy, who no one remembers. I'm pretty sure that had I shown up for the "off-season" of Psych 2810, I'd have seen one lone faculty member at the head of a sparsely populated lecture hall, which is probably where "attendance at small group discussions" comes from in the current description.

Anyone and everyone knew to take Psych 2810 with LoPiccolo. Why?

Because he's the one who showed films.

And by films I don't mean the after-school specials where Polly has to deal with Jane and her friends making mean comments about her new boyfriend, Sam.

By films I mean those types that are normally found behind the curtains in the "adults only" section of your locally-owned video store. Or so I've been told. In those films, Polly had to deal with Jane and her friends and Sam, all getting it on, all at the same time.

Now, before all you parents out there get in a huff about the innocence of college students being sullied by depraved college professors, let me just state that these films aren't what you'd call raunchy. Okay, yeah, they were raunchy, but they were so out of date as to be part of a film genre I'd call comedic porn.

The guys all had poofy hair and fu manchu 'staches, and the girls had glitter eye shadow and blonde Farah hair. And the music! Most of the sets (and I use the term sets loosely) consisted of what looked like the Ropers' apartment from Three's Company. Lots of dark cabinetry and shag carpeting.

I'm not quite sure what LoPiccolo's point was in showing these films, unless it was solely to crack up 400 college students and ensure that next year's course would have no vacancies.

I vaguely remember having to study more for the course than I originally thought, as the tests actually required you to know something other than the names of the film stars. But I toiled through and earned my A.

The best part of the whole semester was the day I invited my boyfriend to attend the class with me. "Come on," I urged, "there are like 800 people there...no one will even know you don't go to school here!" You see, he was an engineering student from Rolla, where they not only didn't have Psychology of Human Sexuality, they didn't have any Psych classes at all. Well, they probably did, but it was most likely something along the lines of "Psychology of Engineers," which is pretty much summed up with these solutions: throw a calculator at it, and, there's nothing a good Excel spreadsheet can't fix.

M was up from Rolla, on Spring Recess or something like that (Rolla had to have Spring Break, and then Spring Recess, which always fell the week of St. Patrick's Day, since no students would show up to class that week due to imbibing massive quantities of green beer) and I convinced him that rather than sitting in my apartment for a couple hours while I went to class, it would be "fun" if he attended with me.

So off we went. Poor boy, he had no idea what was in store. You see, it was Film Day.

His first clue that something was very, very different than his usual engineering courses came when the professor turned down all the lights in the lecture hall. That's when he started to squirm in his seat. I grinned in the darkness and thought, "Oh boy...just wait!" Soon, the screen lit up and an image flickered to life.

I waited a few moments before looking at him. There he sat, my smart-as-a-whip engineering student, with his mouth hanging open and his head slowly shaking from side to side. I leaned over and whispered, "What do you think?"

"They don't show things like this in classes at Rolla!"

So that was my experience with Psych 2810 at Mizzou. The course is still offered, and I just checked Mizzou's site and see that Prof. LoPiccolo is still there. Oooo, he's a PhD from Yale. Wow. You'd think a smart guy would know where to get better porn.

drivel

Mondays are awesome when you forget your lunch and then, right at lunchtime when you're resigned to digging a can of something vaguely food-like out of your desk drawer, your boss shows up with awesome home-made chili (as opposed to ho-made, which, no kidding, I saw on a menu recently), complete with wheat crackers. And then, after lunch, you decide to pass on the not one, not two, but three kinds of healthy fruit sitting on your desk (banana, orange and honeycrisp apple, for what it's worth) and go for the mini-bag of m&m's (original colors, plain not peanut, for what it's worth) from the aforementioned boss's office.

And.

It's starting to rain outside.

Which I like because when it rains outside I don't mind being chained to my desk and staring at a computer screen for hours on end.

M claims he can tell the color of an m&m by taste. I think he's full of it. And they do melt in your hands.

For a long time, I thought Eminem just liked m&m's and didn't even dream that Eminem is just spelling out his initials, and was probably forced to come up with "eminem" instead of using mm or m&m or m+m because Mars probably has the lock on all things M. And m.

13% of all the m&ms in your bag are red.

Weekend Review

So I had a very eventful and jam-packed last few days. Here's the recap, along, of course, with my running commentary, the usual musings of my quirky brain:

Thursday Night: Body Worlds 3 exhibit at the Saint Louis Science Center
Good exhibit, waaaaay tooooooo loooooong, not gory at all, informative, well worth seeing. Once. Get the audio tour, as after awhile all the little placards start to blur. Several things hit us: we had to keep reminding ourselves that these were/are real people, because they really don't look like it. We're glad we're not, nor have ever been, smokers. Especially after seeing the black lungs next to the healthy ones. I'm also glad I now exercise every day, after seeing the overweight body slice next to the healthy body slice. If you go, have in mind what you'd really like to see when you walk in. Because if you do what we did, and stop to read every little detail and scrutinize every specimen, you burn yourself out about 3/4 of the way through. Think to yourself, "I'd really like to see the digestive tract, the reproductive system, and some neurological stuff." I know it sounds weird, but trust me on this. If you want $2 off coupons, I have them, just let me know. Also let me know if you want to know why you pee so much when you've been drinking, what causes a hangover, and how to avoid brain freezes. Oh yeah, and why foot fetishes happen. I love the Science Center.

Friday Night: Boogaloo and The Darkness with Michelle and Ryan
Boogaloo in Maplewood is a fantastic place to go if you're into trying new foods and drinking the best damn mojitos in town. It's even better when you're hanging out with people so cool you can't believe they're family (or family-to-be). The four of us stuffed ourselves silly with eight different items off the tapas menu, and then stuffed ourselves into M's little car to hit The Darkness haunted house downtown, near Soulard. A few little tips: pony up the extra $7 per person to skip to the front of the line. The wait Friday night was 2.5 hours. My time is worth a helluva lot more than $2.80/hour and trust me, so is yours. The Darkness is fantastic and is chock full of all kinds of high-tech creepiness, along with your standard scary folk jumping out at you with chain saws, table saws, and other various assorted power tools. We made Ryan go first this year, and let him run himself into walls this time. Girls sandwiched in the middle for maximum protection, of course, and M bringing up the rear. At one point, these creepy swamp people materialized out of the mist and scared M so bad he actually let go of me and went rebounding off a wall. It was so funny even the swamp people were laughing. You know it's bad when you crack up the zombies. We finished off the night with a quick stop at Ted Drewe's, about which all I have to say is, "Can I help someone? Can I help someone? Can I help someone?" Ryan and Michelle know exactly what I mean, and are probably laughing right now as they read this.

Saturday: The Great BAS Move
M tackled the garage while Zozo and I went to The Lodge to play at Tot Caaaare and work out. We came home to find almost the entire contents of our garage emptied onto the driveway, but amazingly organized into piles. It looked like the mother of all garage sales. Zozo went down for her nap and I pitched in. After lunch we got ourselves cleaned up to a presentable state and headed up to PARINTS for their 10th anniversary celebration. PARINTS is the group of infertility nurses who helped us when we were struggling. There were blow-up activities and an ice cream truck and kids running everywhere, and in the middle of all that fun I found myself with tears in my eyes. It hit me how all those children were prayed for, hoped for, wished for, fought for. Becky told me they've helped with the conception of over 700 children in 10 years, and to her and everyone at PARINTS, I say "thank you" and "God bless each and every fiber of your being."

After that, it was back to tackling the garage/BAS project. In the morning, I had asked M, "So, how much do you think you'll get moved over today?" His response: "Yes." The man was on a mission. A mission so dangerous, so fraught with peril, so critical, only he could accomplish it. His mission was to park both cars in the garage for the first time since January.
I know this doesn't seem like much to you, but to me, it's huge. I wish I'd have taken before images so you can see just how much work M had cut out for him, but frankly, I was mortified that our garage ever looked like that. So you'll have to be content with viewing the finished product, taken this morning with my BlackBerry camera on my way out the door to go to work, when I realized that I'd be posting a big long recap with absolutely no photographic evidence to speak of. Lucky you, for getting a shot of my garage taken with a cell phone camera on a Monday morning. The dark right side of the garage is M's spot, but he was already gone for work when I snapped this, so it just looks like a big dark hole. Which is great, because up to Saturday morning it looked like Santa barfed Christmas in there.
Sunday: Zoe makes another leap
Yesterday, Zozo decided to learn a new word, that word being, "NO!" Oh...boy. She decided the first deployment would take place in Shop 'n Save, after we requested her to stop doing something like throwing Hoot on the floor or insisting that she hold each and every addition to the grocery cart on her lap. The first time she said it, we were absolutely stunned and shocked, and it took every ounce of willpower to not laugh our asses off. We both had to turn around because we were laughing so hard and that behavior is not exactly what we want to encourage in our two-year-old. The "NO!" was so much fun for her, she decided to try it out in every octave, at various pitches, as we continued wheeling her through the store. "no NO no NO no NO no NO no NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" We also found this quite amusing and had to stifle laughter.
The no's soon gave way to her old favorite: COOKIE. Cookie came out about halfway through Shop 'n Save, and then was resurrected for nearly the entire Sam's trip later that afternoon. She starts off low with, "cookie," then builds in a symphonic crescendo, higher and higher, until she's shrieking "COOKIEEEEEEEEE!" over and over again and jars are breaking four aisles over. At this point we lost any shred of dignity we had left and ceased to become embarrassed about loading the world's largest bottles of Bailey's Irish Cream and Tanqueray gin into the cart.
Last night we watched Cleveland fall to the BoSox after a 3 games to 1 lead, and it brought back painful reminders of the '04 World Series. I hold a grudge, and have National League loyalties, so I'll be rooting for the Rockies this year. M is a little more divided, as his new boss is a die-hard Sox fan and therefore he has that whole fan-by-affiliation thing going. It's the same reason I root for Stef's Tigers (when they're not playing the Cards, of course).
One last thought from the weekend (and this is where the completely disjointed ramblings of my mind are evident): since when did "fried chicken" turn into "crispy chicken?" I noticed this at Crazy Bowls & Wraps last week, where you can order "grilled chicken" or "crispy chicken," and then again last night on a commercial for Jack in the Box. Somewhere, a marketing clown decided that crispy chicken sounds healthier/better than fried chicken. Which, technically, it does. Sneaky. Don't be drawn in by the marketing trickery!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fifteen Years

Have you ever glanced at a calendar and realized, "Good gravy! Today is a special day!"

Fifteen years ago today, M and I went on our very first date.

Which didn't really start as a Date date, but more of one of those college things where you're interested in him and he's interested in you and you just sorta hang out and then it turns into something more and you look back later and say, "Hey, that was our first date!"

So, here's the M and Aim story, for those of you who ever wondered.

I was introduced to M by my best friend at the time, who had told me that she had an incredible crush on this volleyball guy and I just had to meet him. "He's really cute, and he plays ball better than anyone I've ever seen, and he's so nice and sweet and and and..." You know how we girls can get about our crushes.

After weeks of hearing about this guy, I finally agreed to stop by his dorm room with her on my way to a date with my current boyfriend, who, by the way, turned out in the end to be a complete turd.

We arrived at his dorm door, knocked, and went in at his call. I will never forget the first time I laid eyes on him. He was wearing Umbra volleyball shorts and a volleyball t-shirt, and was sitting at his desk studying. He had one foot up on the chair, with his arm wrapped around his leg, and the first things that hit me were his beautiful eyes, his dark, dark hair, and his shoulders. Whoa, those shoulders.

Now, according to The Best Friend Code, section 4.26, clause B, paragraph 2, subsection 9, you can't like the same guy your friend does (Thou shalt not crush on your best friend's crush), so I merely thought, "Oooo, she picked a good one!" and left it at that, and went off for my date with the turd.

A few weeks went by, and my friend moved on to a new crush, and I broke up with the turd. I hadn't given any more thought to the cute volleyball player until one day when I left class and passed by a classroom door where M sat, finishing an exam. Dang, he still looked good. The turd sat near him in the same class (Differential Equations, perhaps?) and so, maybe to incite a little jealousy in the turd (I was having a good hair day), I stopped to wave hi to M. He motioned that he'd be done momentarily and to wait for him, so I did.

We sat outside the library and talked for over an hour. I can't even remember what we talked about, but it was nice. Then he went back to his dorm and I went back to Zeta. As I ate lunch that day with my friend in the common room (we had to watch our daily soap over lunch), the house phone rang. Deena answered it, and it was M, inviting us to Movie Night on his dorm floor. It sounded fun, and so agreed to go.

She hung up and said, "Well, that settles it. He likes you." "He does not! Why do you say that?!"

"Because I've known him for a year and he's never invited me to Movie Night. You have one conversation with him outside the library and suddenly we're invited."

So we went to Movie Night with the express purpose of seeing if M did, indeed, like me.

Everyone settled into their seats and M popped the movie into the VCR. Deena and I exchanged a look, and purposely sat on opposite ends of the only empty couch left. I'll be damned if M didn't turn around, survey the situation, and go squeeze himself between Deena and the other end of the couch. She had to move to allow him room. He had sat as far away from me as humanly possible. Well, that settles that, I thought.

Thinking that perhaps he was just shy, I waited until the end of the movie when everyone was milling around, then brought out my best flirty moves. I threw everything I had in my arsenal at him, and more. It was like flirting with a tree. I got no feedback, at all, whatsoever.

It's rather discouraging to flirt and get no response, so I called it an early night and left. Deena, however, stayed and, shall we say, enjoyed some alcoholic beverages with everyone else. She got home later (much later!) and gleefully told me that she had cornered M and asked him, flat out, if he liked me. She said he turned about forty different shades of red and said, "No! Yes! No! Maybe! Are you going to tell her?!" That part cracks me up to this day.

That weekend was Zeta's Blind Date dance, where your friends choose your date for the dance and you are "surprised" that night when he comes to pick you up. Now, those girls with steady boyfriends had their friends arrange everything with the boyfriends, and the rest of us gave strong hints as to who we'd like asked on our behalf. I had broken up with the turd, and had arranged for Deena to ask a friend of ours to go with me, just as friends.

At this point, I sunk to new lows and asked Deena to beg off our friend and instead ask M. She said no freakin' way, that that was rude, and that I couldn't bail on her friend. Sigh. She was right, so I reluctantly went with the friend and wondered all night what it would have been like to go with M.

Well, the friend turned out to want more than just friendship, and I was so not interested (he was fine as friends, but would have made a weasely boyfriend), and so after awhile I begged off with a "headache" and asked to be taken home.

And so it was at 11:30 p.m. on a Saturday night that I found myself alone at Zeta (everyone else still being at the dance) thinking, "Shoot, girl, just do it. Call him." Heck, I was in college, which meant that 11:30 at night is not too late to call someone. Especially someone you like.

I had his phone number on a post-it above my desk, where it had been for a couple months since Deena had stuck it there saying, "I'll be at M's studying, if you need me, just call his room." This, of course, being the days before everyone and their grandma had cell phones. So I cleared my throat, took a deep breath, picked up the phone, and dialed.

He answered. Whew. After a brief conversation ("Whatcha doing?" "Studying." "Oh, how's it going?" "Okay, I guess."), I said something really catchy like, "Hey, how about you come get me and take me for a ride in your new car?" He had recently gotten his Saturn and was quite proud. He barely missed a beat, "Okay! I'll be there in 10!"

Ten minutes later, I climbed into his new car and off we went for a ride around the countryside outside Rolla. We talked, and talked, and talked. And just enjoyed the ride. And finally, as he dropped me back off at Zeta, he asked me out on a Date date for later that day (it was now, of course, Sunday). And it was the end of that Date date that he finally kissed me, only after asking politely, of course.

It was the sort of kiss that blows a girl's socks off and makes her insides go all jelly. I barely held it together on the walk up to Zeta's front door, you know, 'cause I was trying to play it all cool and stuff.

That was October 18, 1992.

And his kisses still blow my socks off and make my insides go all jelly.

I'm going to see dead people

Today is rather a let-down after all the excitement of BAS Day.

M and I went to work early, so we could leave early, so we can attend the opening of the Saint Louis Science Center's Body Worlds 3 exhibit. The spa is sponsoring the exhibit and so we received two tickets to tonight's shindig...the fancy party before the exhibit opens to the public. M and I will be representing the spa, which means we get to mingle with hoity-toity folks, eat and drink, and see the exhibit before anyone else does. How cool is that?!

I've heard mixed feelings on the Body Worlds concept. Lots of people are just grossed out that you're looking at actual human bodies that have had the skin removed. M and I are intrigued. I think it might be different if it were all bloody and gory, but from what I've seen, the bodies look like those plastic anatomical models we had in high school biology classes. Plus, I don't know these people. It's not like you're munching on a crab puff while inspecting Uncle Pete's liver. I did just fine in high school with dissecting worms and frogs and stuff, and this exhibit promises to be far less stinky than that, so I think I'll be good.

And I'm not worried about M at all. He's the guy who watched every bit of his wife's c-section, going, "Man, this is so freakin' cool! You're, like, all cut open and your guts are hanging out down there, and yet you're still awake and talking to me!" The boy knows just what to say in every situation.

So those are our plans for tonight. I'll let you know tomorrow how the exhibit is. If you're interested in going, I suggest you purchase tickets early. I heard on NPR yesterday that the Science Center has already sold 25,000 tickets. It's here for a limited time, so don't delay if you want to go!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Photographs of our BAS

Okay okay okay.

Due to much demand, I'm posting BAS images tonight, even though I'm flat-out exhausted from all the excitement of the delivery of our BAS.

The main pusher for the pix is none other than M, who is so pleased with his BAS that he wants to be able to call people and say, "Hey, look at my BAS on the 'net!" He's becoming a B pain in my A, so here goes.

I'm going in chronological order here, and no, I'm not posting the vast majority of the images that show things like the BAS incrementally being lowered to its final position. You wanna see those, you're gonna have to come over.

Without further ado, I present...our BAS!

M was so excited about the arrival of our BAS, he was actually out pacing around the driveway, peering down the road, waiting for it. Funnily enough, he was facing the wrong direction when it finally appeared, and I had to rap on the window and point him the other way.

Our Mennonite driver was Marvin, and he did a mighty fine job backing up his gigantically long trailer down our driveway and up to the concrete pad. Which is more than I can say for my own family members who drive normal-sized cars that need only stay within the generous asphalt confines of our driveway.

We had quite the crowd assembled to watch. My MIL popped over, and my FIL spent his lunch hour watching. Dad and Judy came by to see, which was nice considering my Dad is pretty much the guy who got us turned on to the whole Mennonite shed idea. Even Aunt Shelley was there, and although she claimed that she had no idea the BAS was being delivered at that time, I think that secretly she really just wanted to be part of the action. You know, 'cause there's nothing cooler than watching the delivery of a Big Ass Shed.

And, of course, we shared the day with Mennonite Marvin and his new wife, Lydiann. They are very lovely people, and Marvin even explained that though they are newly married they don't wear wedding bands because the Mennonites don't believe in wearing jewelry. The delivery of our BAS was momentous for Marvin for two reasons: it was the longest way he's ever taken a building, and it was his first trip since he got married. Lydiann rode along to keep him company, and they were looking forward to seeing the Arch on the way out of town.

Marvin backed his trailer up and got the BAS lined up pretty well, then used a little remote-control gizmo to make adjustments from where he was positioned outside the truck. Those crazy Mennonites, they've got some sweet technology.

Here's another shot in the process of positioning the BAS on its concrete pad before it's lowered to its final resting place.

Marvin used the power of the truck to give the BAS a few final nudges, fine-tuning it to exactly where we wanted it.

Almost ready to take off its tarp!

After much waiting, M finally got to see the inside of his BAS.
He's pleased as punch.

Welcome to our BAS! Won't you please come in?

Another angle, to show off the second set of doors.
The better to get to the tools and Christmas decorations, you know.

How happy is M?! Sooooo happy!

Bye bye, Mennonites!

It's here, boy, is it here

The BAS has arrived and is resting comfortably on its concrete bed.

I have tons more to write, and images to post, but that'll have to be done later as I'm now back at work and have to catch up from being out for several hours to take delivery of my BAS.

Just wanted to ease all your minds out there, those of you who have been perched on the edge of your seat, biting your fingernails, nervously waiting with breath that is baited.

The BAS is here. It's big, it's bad, and it's ready to be jammed full of Christmas decorations.

BAS Day!

The concrete pad has been swept. The checkbook is on the counter. The camera is charged and the cards are formatted.

We are ready for The Arrival of The Big Ass Shed, henceforth to be known as BAS.

BAS spent the night in Indiana, having left Himrod yesterday at the crack of dawn. ETA is 1:30 this afternoon; we're to receive a call when it's about an hour out.

This has become quite an event not only for us, but many in our extended family. It's almost like waiting for the arrival of a new family member. When we get the call, we have to call a few other people to let them know, too. You know, so they can be there to watch. Those who can't be there have requested that I post images here ASAP, and by this evening at the very latest.

It's occurring to me how very sad this all must seem to outsiders, that we consider the delivery of a large shed to be high on the entertainment scale.

I think it's more than just the BAS. I think it's a symbol, a physical representation of all that is great about America. We have so much stuff, we need to create another building to house it all. Our reasonably-sized home is no longer big enough. We didn't buy some lead-paint-coated-health-threat from China, either. No siree. We hired all-American artisans from another one of our fine states to custom-build our BAS. We're stimulating the economy, damn it, right down to throwing a little money towards the gas stations between Himrod, NY and The Lou.

Can't you just hear "God Bless America" playing softly in the background?

I'm gonna see if I can score Hillary, Rudy or one of the other nuts running for President to give a stirring patriotic speech in front of my new Big Ass Shed.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Big Shed Eve

Tomorrow is The Big Shed Day.

Big is a multi-purpose adjective.
1. Big as in, it's a big day, the day our building is delivered.
2. Big as in, "Damn, that's a big-ass shed you got there, Sparky!"

I've been requested to come home from work to document this momentous occasion with the camera. Giant Mennonite-built sheds are normally not my photographic forte, but I'll do what I can.

In the meantime, to ramp up excitement, I'll go ahead and post some of M's shots from The Day The Concrete Was Poured, which, apparently, is second in excitement only to The Big Shed Day.

Why didn't I take those shots, you ask? Well, Zoe and I were busy at The Lodge. I worked out while she attended Tot Care, which she now likes to proclaim to everyone as "TOT Caaaaaare!" I figure that's better than her other new, favorite word, which is heiny.

So here are some of M's shots. Keep in mind that these are nowhere close to all of M's shots, as I've discovered that any time he gets his paws on my DSLR he loves to use the rapid-fire feature. I have quite a few shots of the concrete buggy thing tilt-tilt-tilting to pour out its contents. Impressive, but not quite blog-worthy.

"35 concrete piers under the shed, 35 concrete piers.
Take one down, pass it around, 34 concrete piers under the shed."
We like to build things solid 'round these parts.

The concrete buggy thing tips its very first load.
I have 400 more shots almost just like this.

"Look, Timmy! The neighbors built a helicopter landing pad!"

"Okay, you hold her and I'll do the mashing."

Awww, so cute!
Too bad it'll be hidden under 5 tons of shed.

Marital blitz

Sometimes when you're married, you get into completely ridiculous, circular arguments. Such as the one we experienced last night.

It actually started last weekend, when M was packing for a trip. "Where are my shirts?" The shirts in question are some very nice ones that he and I both like and that have become a staple in his wardrobe. He has four: cream, gray, dark green and eggplant. They wash up well, they always look nice, they're long-sleeved and collared...good, all-around shirts.

I had done all the laundry, including folding/hanging and putting away, and M couldn't find two of the shirts.

"Where are my shirts?"

"What shirts?"

"These shirts. You know. Here are two, where are the other two? The gray and green ones?"

"I don't know. I don't wear them."

"Well, YOU did all the wash. So where are they?"

"I only wash what is put down the chute. If you didn't put 'em down, I didn't wash 'em."

This went on for a few minutes, with both of us growing increasingly agitated. I think we were both angry at him, but let's just say he likes to project his feelings outward.

Finally, I said, "If I had to guess, you left them in a hotel room." He's been traveling a lot lately, and he likes to completely unpack when he's in a room, which is fine, but which leaves the door open for forgetting items. This is the boy who took one of our good washcloths on a trip with him several years ago ("I wanted to wrap up my toothbrush!") and then was shocked when room service took it along with all the other bath linens. Grrrrr.

Rather than admit that he might ever lose something himself, he likes to make irrational comments such as, "This damn house eats things!"

This time it was, "I didn't leave them behind! I put all the clothes in the plastic laundry bags and brought them home! Where are the plastic bags?" Well, the plastic bags had been emptied down the laundry chute by yours truly (with help from our 2-year-old who now adores putting things down the chute, but that's a whole other post) after they sat on our bedroom floor for four days and threatened to start walking about on their own.

Somehow, in his mind, I had magically made the shirts disappear somewhere in the midst of my ultra-mysterious wonderland of the laundry room. He would be stunned if he knew what little powers I actually possess.

I asked him, "What's the last trip you had them?" Wrong question because, of course, he can't remember (see statement above about him traveling a lot lately) when or where he last wore them. Questions like these serve no purpose other than to aggravate the piss out of him because he hates it when things don't just fall into place and we've got to actually sort through the issue.

This process does not bother him at all if it's something mathmatically or mechanically inclined. Where I'm prone to beat on something until it starts working, he likes to say, "Work the problem...figure it out." We're compatible like that, see. I find things, he fixes things. It works for us.

In a fit of pique, I proclaimed, "I'm calling Treasure Island in Vegas and seeing if they have your shirts!" I didn't even know if he took the damn things with him on that trip, but it was one of the more recent trips so I figured it was worth a shot. He grumbled that he didn't leave them in a hotel room, so don't bother.

So I didn't.

Which meant, of course, that last night he asked me if I had gotten around to calling TI about his shirts.

Commence Lost Shirt Argument - Part Deux.

Finally, I googled the TI, got the number, and called. It's beyond me why it's my responsibility to track down his lost shirts, but I'm a good wifey and I'll do what I can to keep the peace. And to prove I'm right.

Of course, the lost-and-found office at the TI was closed for the day (I thought Vegas was a 24-hour type of place, no?) so I took down the direct number and told M I'd call today. Meanwhile, all by himself, like a big boy, he looked up the number for the Hilton Garden Inn in Austin and made his own call and left his own message.

And informed me today, only after prompting from me, that the Hilton Garden Inn in Austin does indeed have his missing shirts and is shipping them back.

This is why, after 10 years of marriage, we both say in monotone voices, "It has been blissful."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ugly Baby Rant

This morning a colleague popped her head into my office, "You have to come out here and see the cutest baby in the whole wide world!"

Immediately my maternal hackles raised because, everybody knows, my baby is the cutest baby in the whole wide world.

I'm not one of those women who fawn and dote and get all worked up about other peoples' babies. Especially people I hardly know, or don't know at all. My family's babies, yeah, okay, I get excited about them. My friends' babies, definitely. Mere acquaintances...no flippin' way.

So, I don't typically drop everything and go running when a baby enters the spa, which is rare but does happen on occasion when staff bring them in on their days off. If I happen across a baby in my strolls through the spa, I might stop and have a brief chat before continuing on my mission. That's about the extent of it.

But this morning, I was forced into doting-on-strange-babies purgatory when my colleague insisted I come quick to see a child. She didn't just stop by and say, "Hey, go check out this child" and then continue on. Nope. She stood there, staring at me, until I made an effort to get up.

Sigh.

I stopped typing, set aside my work, and got up, all the while thinking, "What on earth am I going to say to this woman? 'Hi, I've only come to look at your child.'"

I went gamely into the accounting office where the supposed Cutest Child was, and then realized I was in a whole other world of trouble, seeing as how the child in question is most certainly not cute, but rather borders on downright repulsive.

People say that there is no such thing as an ugly baby. People are wrong.

So I stood there, shifting my weight from foot to foot, trying really hard not to look at this child because, well, because she wasn't a pleasant thing to look at and I'm not real good at hiding my feelings. The expression on my face gives me away 95% of the time. Okay, 100%. I'm so not good with the poker face.

Finally, I said, "Oh, look at all her curls!" and then tried to bow out gracefully.

Ridiculous, really. A note to all my working readers out there: do not force your colleagues to go look at a child that you think is cute, because your definition of cute is yours and yours alone, and no one should have to endure the agony of making small talk about an ugly baby.

What a way to start a Monday morning.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fun before bedtime

Some children like a nice bedtime story.
Ours likes a romp through the vortex of time.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Peeve

One of the things that chaps my arse more than anything is the fact that I never seem to have any technology trouble until my personal IT guy goes out of town.

Today is Day 4 Of No Internet Access, and I'll be damned if I know what's wrong with the stupid thing.

The second biggest arse chapper is posting to a blog using the weensy keyboard of a BlackBerry Curve. Not impossible, but a helluva lot slower.

He comes home tonight, so I should have all my tech issues resolved before noon tomorrow.

Have I mentioned that I think my personal IT guy is really cute?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Crazy Beans

Zoe is turning into quite the chatterbox these days, and there's virtually nothing she won't try to say. Which is very fun, and scary at the same time. I really need to watch my language now, as I've been known to drop an F-bomb or two and I really don't want my two-year-old dropping it.

Last night during bathtime we called Aunt KK. Zozo went through her repetoire of favorite words (Mom-mee, Dad-dee, PaPa, Elmo, Oscar, and her favorite: COOKIE!) and then we tried something new. "Zozo! Can you say 'Aunt KK'?" She tried it all right. She said, "Ont Koo Koo!" Then she cracked up laughing.

We tried several times, but Aunt KK is now Ont Koo Koo. Which I think is hysterical. Ont Koo Koo objected, but she kept laughing, too, so deep down I think she's okay with it.

Maybe I should try to get Zozo to call her Auntie Bean. "Bean" is my nickname for Katie, and it's been that since she was a teeny tiny baby. I don't even remember quite how it happened, something to do with a babydoll I had that was filled with beans around the time that my new baby sister came home to live with me, but she's been Bean pretty much since I met her and she'll always be Bean to me. Or Beanie, Beano, Beanbrain, Beanster.

I don't know if Bean even cares for her nickname, but I don't think I could stop calling her that if I tried. I hope she doesn't mind. She's firmly ingrained in my brain, in my psyche, as Bean and she'll always be that way.

Personally, I think that Bean is a rather cool name. I mean, everyone loves beans. Refried beans, chili beans. Beans are good for you. High in fiber. You can stuff them into big bags and sit on them, you can put them in little pelts and make wee stuffed animals that take our country by storm. You can sew them into little pouches and throw them at a target in a wholesome outdoor game. Heck, Kurt Cobain, probably in a drug-induced haze, gave his daughter the legal name of Francis Bean. And let's not forget the quirky character portrayed by British actor Rowan Atkinson: Mr. Bean. I love that guy! I had Mexican Jumping Beans when I was a kid; those things rock.

Beans beans, good for your heart...beans beans, make you...healthy. (What did you think I was gonna write?)

Here's to you, Ont Koo Koo Bean!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

M's 12 x 18 cave

My hair is now short (not as short as it was a few years ago, when it was superduper short) and Fiery Citron. I like it, but am still getting used to it. I like it better today since I was able to style it my way, versus Gary's way. Gary gives great cuts and is second to none when it comes to color, but damn, every time he styles my hair I end up looking like June Cleaver when I get out of his chair.

I funkified it this morning and used the curls (why fight them?) and I like it a lot better. M, I'm sure, will hate it, as he's got the whole caveman mentality when it comes to hair: doesn't matter if it's ratty and disgusting, he just likes it long. I call it the caveman mentality because I'm pretty sure man's predilection for long hair goes back to the Stone Age when men would drag their women back to their caves by their hair. Anyone who knows us knows that this would never, ever happen in our cave, and so should not be suprised that I now have relatively short, fiery citron hair.

Received a confirmation call from the Mennonites in Himrod, New York who are building our Second House. For those of you not familiar, my family is acquiring a rather large structure for our backyard to house Christmas decorations, tools, and various garage paraphernalia. Note: we would be able to fit all our tools and various garage paraphernalia in the garage if it weren't for all the Christmas decorations, but M likes to gloss over that fact.

The project started as a shed. A smallish shed, about 10 x 12, from Home Depot or one of the other local hardware stores. We looked and looked and looked. M researched on-line. His research led him to TuffShed or something like that, where the shed grew from 10 x 12 to 12 x 12. Then, conversations with various people, my dad notwithstanding, led to on-line research for structures built by the Amish. Can't get much sturdier than that, eh?

Needless to say, the 10 x 12 shed from Home Depot is now a 12 x 18 building coming from some Mennonites in New York. A concrete pad was poured, complete with 35 (!) footings (many, many thanks to Uncle Jim for instilling the fear of our building sliding onto my in-laws' property overnight in M) and it now awaits the arrival of our building which is coming, fully assembled mind you, from Himrod, New York next Wednesday.

These things only seem to happen in my family.

I am very happy about the arrival of the building, as that means we can start cleaning out the garage and I just might be able to park the ZoeMobile in there again, which is great since we're coming on winter. What I'm concerned about is that M will see this building as an opportunity to create more stuff for the display, thereby filling up the building and the garage, which puts the ZoeMobile back in the outdoors again and me scraping snow and frost off every morning before work. I predict I'll get a good four or five years out of the building before he outgrows it.

See, I can write this stuff because M is out of town (Rhode Island this week) and is very, very busy training during the day and drinking gin and tonics at night (his new beverage of choice, which is surprising because he's been a straight beer man for many years) with his new colleagues, and therefore is entirely too busy to stay updated on the blog. I predict he'll read this sometime this weekend while we're hanging out in the library, at which point he's going to look over the laptop at me and go, "Hey!" That's probably when he'll notice the new hairdo, too.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

New do

I've hit that point with my hair again where I'm ready for a change. Anything, really, other than what I have. Which is a shame, since it's at the point where I receive regular compliments on the color. So, I'm not changing the color. The style, however (and I use "style" loosely), has got to go.

It feels all ratty and gross, and just hangs there limply, doing little more than covering my ears. It's not a style, really, so much as just this thin mass of hair that sprouts from my head.

It's been a shade over two months since I had anything done to it cut or color-wise, which is abyssmal considering I work in a place that offers hair services seven days a week. It helps that I have the curly 'do thing going, which means I have a lot more leeway when it comes to having to maintain any sort of style. And curls hide re-growth like it's nobody's business, which is one of the many reasons I don't permanently straighten it. My sloth would then be apparent to everyone if I did.

In an effort to avoid what I went through two months ago when I googled around looking for a style, I decided to choose from what was in front of me.

Namely, a very cute style on one of the actresses on the West Wing. Yes, my friends, I've dug out the old DVDs again to keep me company while M is on his travels (he left today for Rhode Island). There is an actress who has a relatively bit part on the show, appearing here and there with no real regularity. Luckily she's been in the episodes I've been watching lately, so I was able to go, "Hey, I like her hair!"

I googled her and got nothing but shots of her with straight styles. Grrr. So then I googled for still shots from the set of West Wing and got nothing with her at all. Grrrrrr. I googled this woman there and back, and got nothing, nothing I could bring in to Gary, my stylist. GRRRRRR.

So, I got creative. I figured out which episodes she was in (I've blown past them in the week since I "discovered" the style, and hell if I know which ones she's appeared in) and queued up the DVD. Then I sat there with a remote and fast-forwarded until I found the scenes where she appeared. Strategic pausing of the DVD allowed me to then snap shots of my television screen with my BlackBerry's camera, which I then downloaded into my computer and printed. Technology is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

The shots are all grainy and look a bit warped, but it got the point across. Except when Gary said, "She looks like a drag queen!" "I don't want to look like a drag queen." "Not her hair, silly. Her face." "It's because I took a picture of my television screen. She doesn't really look like that." "Whatever."

These are the types of conversations we have here at the spa, and which don't exactly instill confidence in me with the man who is going to be cutting my hair. And yet, every time, he does an amazing job.

Oh. My. Gosh. I've just read this entire post again to check for spelling and grammatical errors and have realized what a colossally boring post it is. It's all about my stupid hair. That's pretty inane and not very interesting at all to anyone but, well, me. And maybe M, who has to look at my hair more than anyone but who is usually the last to know when I've done something to it.

Just an FYI, though, before I go. I've just learned my color is called Fiery Citron. How cool is that?!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Happy Columbus Day

My hubby is off work today (who gets time off for Columbus Day?!) and is home with Zozo. I came home from exercising and there they sat on the couch, watching Sesame Street together. Adorable! Especially cool as today was the day that Cookie Monster (he's the favorite of both M and Zozo) ate the letter Z. Poor Prairie Dawn. She made a plate of cookies to hold Cookie over while she explained all the benefits of the letter Z. But Cookie gobbled all the cookies too quickly, and then gobbled the letter Z.

I drove M's car into work today so he'd have the ZoeMobile in case they wanted to go anywhere. M announced over breakfast that it needed gas (of course), and then volunteered to go fill the tank while I finished getting ready. I'm pretty sure he and Zozo timed it out, for precisely in the middle of the 10 minutes he was gone, she pooped. Nice. He gets to spend the day with her, and in my 10 minutes I get to change the poopy diaper.

But they are on their way in now, so I get to see them both over lunch (!) and show them off to my colleagues (!!). Can't ask for more than that! Except to have the day off for Columbus Day.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Irony

Isn't it funny how we're the current World Champions, and yet, we're not even in the playoffs?!

By the way, the reason M is holding Zoe's arm in this picture is that mere seconds before, she reached out for one of the little flags, completely ignoring the "DON'T TOUCH THE TROPHY" signs taped to the sides of the podium. Hey, the girl's got good taste...the trophy is made by Tiffany & Co.

What a difference a year makes

Yeah, okay, so this should have been posted waaaaay back around August 30, but like I wrote yesterday, I've been slacking when it comes to posting on the weekends. Better late than never, I say.

These were taken on the same day, exactly one year apart. Cool, eh?

Don't know how long we'll be able to keep up this tradition. Can't you hear Zoe when she's 16: "Come on, Dad. You really don't need to hold me up at the Zoo again. How embarrassing!"

Saturday, October 06, 2007

A visit to the pumpkin patch

I've been quite remiss in posting images lately. Don't know why. Been taking plenty, just haven't posted. Perhaps because I got out of the habit of posting on the weekends, and that's when I have time to edit/tweak photographs.

So, I'll try to be better. And in the meantime, here is today's take from our visit to Rombach Pumpkin Farm, courtesy of M's employer hosting Family Day out there.












Thursday, October 04, 2007

Oh baby!

One of my former bosses had his baby this morning. Well, he didn't, obviously, but his wife did. The birth of a baby is always special, but there's something else there now that I've had my own. I look at pictures and it takes me back instantly to the first time I got to hold Zoe. Which is why I generally cry upon hearing the news of a new baby. The e-mail popped up in my in-box this morning and as soon as I read the subject, "Healthy baby boy!" I knew that Jimmy and Christa are in the best possible place in the whole wide world right now, and tears immediately sprang (sprung? springed?) to my eyes.

Since I had a kid, I am such a freakin' sap.

So, that's my good news today. It's got me floating on cloud nine...happiness just for them. Congratulations to Jim and Christa. And their as-yet-unnamed baby boy. I'll just call him Jimmy Jr. for now.

My workout this morning rocked. I've increased both weight and sets, which means by the end of the strength training portion my muscles are indeed truly stressed and I'm sweating. Then I hopped on the treadmill and, because I didn't have a whole 1/2 hour due to the increase in sets, ran for 20 minutes. But I averaged a 12-minute-mile, which is pretty darn fast for me.

I've discovered that some mornings I have it, and some I don't. And some it just takes me a bit to get into the rhythm. For the most part, the 30 minutes on the treadmill are great. I pound along jamming to music and it goes relatively quickly. I feel like a well-oiled machine, strong and powerful. There have been a few mornings, though, that I feel like the Tin Man before he got his oil job. My runner friends have assured me that this is perfectly normal...that everyone has "off" days. That makes me feel better, and keeps me going back.

This morning, it took me about five minutes to hit my stride. Don't know if it was the increased weight and more sets during the strength training or what, but I felt herky-jerky when I started. And I could feel the wobbly bits on my body, well, wobbling. Ugh. Gross. And then, after a few minutes, it all sorta evened out. I quit wobbling and hit that groove where I felt like I could run forever. I love that feeling.

What gets me going, and keeps me going, is the playlist I created for the iPod. I called it "Work It Out" because that's what I'm doing when I go to the gym. I'm working out my body, but I'm also working out my spirit...I always feel great after a workout. So, anyway, I had a lot of fun one night going through my entire music library (all 4,500 songs) and pulling those that get me moving.

I have tons of really great music, and a lot of it means something special to me. And a lot of it reminds me of you people. Songs that were playing in the background during special moments, or songs that you introduced me to, that sort of thing. I'm the type of person who always has music running through her head even when there's nothing playing out loud...it's like a soundtrack to my life.

So, when I hear Move Your Body by Eiffel 65, it's Saara I think of. Abacab by Genesis or Turn Me Loose by Loverboy is Papa. Little Red Corvette is Mama. The entire 2006 Cardinals At-Bat soundtrack is on my Work It Out playlist, thanks to Garrin. Snow by the Red Hot Chili Peppers is Zoe's song. M has several, including Pour Some Sugar on Me and We Will Rock You. Beano = all things Nelly and the Black Eyed Peas. Duran Duran and Green Day are all me. And throughout all this, I have the words of my Personal Motivator, Stef, running through my head, "Don't think about the scale...think about how great you feel. Think about how you're replacing fat with muscle." and my personal favorite, "If you're not sore, you're not lifting enough!"

It's amazing. Even though at the gym I don't talk to anyone and appear lost in my own little world of white headphones attached to a white box the size of a deck of cards, ya'all are with me. And that's about the most inspiring thing I could ask for.