Monday, December 28, 2009

We're boring, and we love it

Okay, so I said I'd be back to regular blogging now that we're done with our MBAs, but I didn't count on Christmas sucking up every bit of spare time. Today was the first day in weeks that was awesome in its completely boring routine. Got up, went to work for awhile, went to lunch with M and Zozer, worked some more, came home and went to look at Christmas lights before dinner with the extended fam (shout out to the Floridians for coming to the Lou!).

Really, it was wonderful to have no looming deadlines. No homework. No wrapping. I even used the camera tonight. Sweet!

We've got the basement almost ready to go for our guests arriving tomorrow night (kudos to the Cinci fam for visiting the Lou!) and right now M is doing a little Wii bowling while I post this. Then we're watching some BlueRay Star Trek movies and calling it a night. How utterly boring and wonderful.

Life is good.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Friggin' Christmas

I'm buried in wrapping paper and presents. We purchase so many gifts every year that we have to have a spreadsheet to track them all, lest we forget someone. Personally, I'd be fine with a hand-written list jotted on the back of a Christmas card envelope, which is how I used to do it. But someone in my house firmly believes that all of life can be neatly categorized in Excel spreadsheets, and so that's what we do. Don't tell him I said this, but it's actually quite handy as we have a running record of our gift giving and it's saved us from giving the same thing twice. I even created a tab for my Christmas card list, so I'm being sucked right into the nerd vortex that swirls around my husband.

My kitchen looks like Christmas exploded. There are rolls of wrapping paper on the counter, scraps everywhere, tape dispensers and scissors strewn about, a stack of receipts, and both wrapped and unwrapped gifts piled everywhere. I'm standing in the midst of all this last night, furiously wrapping, while M hangs out on the couch watching TV and poking around on his laptop. (I'll give him his due...he had just spent 45 minutes outside in the cold rain repairing part of the display.) He glances back at me and says, "Hey, I don't want to fight the return lines after Christmas so I want to take back the duplicates and stuff we decided not to give tomorrow." I say, "Okay, cool."

Apparently his statement was to be translated as thus: "Hey, you need to stop what you're doing and pull all the stuff together for me so I can return it tomorrow." I, not being under the influence of testosterone poisoning like he seems to be, did not realize that.

Fast forward to bedtime. "Did you get that stuff ready?" "Huh? Um, no, I didn't. I've been wrapping this whole time." (gesture towards ever-growing mound of wrapped gifts) So we start running around trying to figure out what's going back and where and their accompanying receipts. We found most of it, stacked it neatly, and went to bed.

This morning, he asked about something I didn't realize he was taking back today. %&*#. More running around. Couldn't find it until, of course, he had been gone 20 minutes. Grrrrr.

And here I was thoroughly convinced that our stress levels would drop dramatically with the conclusion of graduate school.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Grades and shopping and acid reflux

We got our final grades for the term last night. A's for both of us. Which means that we made it through two years of grad school with all A's. Wow.

M and I both think we probably did way more work than was necessary. We could have scaled back by half and done just fine. But we're both people who believe in doing something whole-heartedly if you're going to do it at all. So, looking back, I'm glad we didn't scale back and settle for B's. I'm glad we did the extra effort and can say now, proudly, that we're graduating with academic honors. We didn't just earn it...we learned it. Cheesy, I know, but true.

Yesterday we hammered out the bulk of our holiday shopping. We ditched Zozer over at her grandma's and hit the road. Target. Wal-Mart. Kohl's. Toys R Us. Schiller's (although it wasn't open yet) and another place I can't name because it would give away what we were trying to buy (which wasn't open on Sundays). Coupla quick stops along the way at a Handyman Hardware, Starbucks and Panera. All in all, a good day. Crammed M's car full - it was fun! Like a little blue Santa's sleigh. Now I have to wrap it all.

Any other year, I'd be grouching about all the work to wrap everything. Not this year. Sure beats slogging away at homework for hours on end. Besides, I set up my wrap station on my big kitchen counter, facing the enormous flat-panel TV, and watch flicks while I work. Not a bad gig at all. The key is to convince M to not put in 2001 or 2010 or The Day The Earth Stood Still or whathaveyou. We haven't watched Christmas Vacation yet this year - that'll be the movie of the night tonight.

In other news, I have now joined the legions of people who are Prilosec junkies. Sigh. After 36 years of having a stomach of steel, where nothing got me sick (not drinking, not motion sickness, not even questionable food), it's come down to having to take a little pill and avoiding spicy food for awhile. Which blows because I love spicy food. However, in the future, I would like to avoid getting a chest x-ray (looking for pneumonia) and an EKG (looking for god knows what) at an urgent care center the week of a major holiday, so I will be a good girl and eat blandly. How boring of me. I do think it's highly ironic that the acid reflux started after I finished with grad school. What the hell is up with that?

Can you believe it's the week of Christmas? I can't...but I'm happy it's here! Fa la la la la, la la la laaaaaaaaaaaa!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


This morning, I begged Zoe to get dressed. "C'mon, Zo, we have to leave to go Christmas shopping. Please get dressed."

She resisted. She's in a high maintenance period, wanting help with everything or us to just outright do it for her.

I threatened, pleaded, cajoled. I played the Santa card. Nothing was working. Finally, I resorted to that well-known tactic I think every single parent has employed over the millennia: shame.

"You used to be able to dress yourself. You were such a big girl! What happened?"

"I growed down."


Friday, December 18, 2009

I heart my softbox

Several months ago I attended a seminar on using a flash for studio lighting, how to get a more natural look, etc. It was a good seminar. I bought a few things, including my very first softbox. I've wanted a softbox for about as long as I can remember, but normally a softbox is a big investment. You don't just buy the box, you have to buy a light and a powerpack and a lightstand. Then you have to buy a transmitter and a receiver so your camera can remotely fire the light.

But this guy showed us how to use this nifty little softbox that holds a flash gun in place of a studio light light. Wow. I already have a really nice flash, and it's got an infrared receiver built right in. The D300 has what's called Commander Mode, meaning it can use its on-camera flash to signal the off-camera flash gun to fire. I had gotten a lightstand as part of a reflector kit about a month before, so that was taken care of. Basically, all I needed was to buy the softbox. Sweet.

So I took the seminar and got the stuff and then it all sat there in a corner of the darkroom for a few months while I finished school.

Went to make Zozer's picture last night for the Christmas card, and thought, "Hey, wait a minute...I have a softbox!" Busted it all out and got it all set up, then spent 15 minutes figuring out again how to get the damn camera into Commander mode and how to get the damn flashgun into Master mode. I had forgotten since the first and last time I played with it was several months ago. Zoe danced around the library and played while she waited, while I snapped, "Watch the light stand! Watch the tripod!" every 30 seconds.

Finally got it all set up and got her into position and started firing. OMG. It was so freakin' cool. I had my softbox, and a reflector on the other side to bounce some light back into the shadows. Beautiful, gorgeous images, with catchlights in the eyes and everything.

I pulled them up on my Mac after we were done and I got my model into her PJs and into bed. Blown away. I didn't need to do a lick of post-processing, other than cropping in slightly (I always tend to shoot wide to give myself more cropping options later).

I could post some of the images here, but since one is for the Christmas card, ya'all will just have to wait to see it. They're being printed at Sam's as I type and M will pick them up over lunch, and I'll address them all tonight and mail them tomorrow. You should have them Monday or Tuesday. In the meantime, you can drool over my sweet little softbox.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chocolate's ailment

Many times, Zoe's "babies" have the same ailments as she. Hoot has thrown up (as you all know) and had sore feet and knees (owls have knees?) and tummy aches. A few weeks ago, he got his finger caught in the tire swing s-hook just like Zoe did. So it's not a surprise when she announces that one of them isn't feeling well and then elaborates.

Yesterday, she spent the day at Grandma's, since the doctor feared she had strep and might be contagious. One of her babies there is a brown bunny named Chocolate. Zoe let Grandma know that Chocolate wasn't feeling well, because she had an ear confection.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

O Christmas Tree

Yup. That's our Christmas tree. We purchased a base for the tree this year that rotates the entire tree, slowly, allowing you to see all sides. For the first time, we put all our ornaments on the tree, and even bought an extra strand of C9 LED lights. Since my brain is now unencumbered by terms like "market capitalization," I can think of things like, "Hey, wouldn't it be sweet to slow the shutter waaaaaay down and get some wicked blur with those lights?" And since I don't have to spend my evenings typing term papers, I could take the camera and tripod in the library and set up long-ass shutter speeds and play. Yes, boys and girls, this is what we call photographic fun.

The result is above. Shutter speed: 20 seconds. I think it's pretty cool, although I'm bothered by the gaping black hole near the top where apparently I forgot to drape any lights at all. I'm not, however, bothered enough to try to fix it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hi. We're the Germysons!

Well, this is a most inauspicious start to our new-found freedom.

Sunday, I was diagnosed with a sinus infection from hell. Prescription: Amoxicillin.
Monday, M was diagnosed with strep. Prescription: Amoxicillin.
Today, Zozer woke up tossing her cookies and complaining of a sore throat. Possible strep. Prescription: Amoxicillin.

Good grief.

We all three spent the day at home, slouching about from couch to chair to floor pillow, half dazed and sick. I ran Zoe to the ped and she was a real trooper. Pretty sure it was all an act to get the cookies at the end, but I'll take it whatever her motivation.

I did break out the camera for the first time in months, and made some images of my littlest patient. (The bigger one just looked dopey from all his meds, plus I couldn't get him to don cute monkey PJs.) Music to my ears to hear that shutter click again.

Poor baby. This was early this morning, between the first and second of the three hurls. "Mommy. I throwed up. But I feel much better now."

She's almost back to normal tonight. Ate a good dinner, is keeping everything down, and isn't complaining about her throat.

I think we're all on the mend.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Well, duh

Tonight, after I picked up Zozer from school and drove us home, and pulled into the garage and shut off the car and reached around to unbuckle her from the car seat amidst her hat, gloves, Hootie, HeartSaysKissMe, and a book, we had this conversation:

"Here, Zozer, let me carry your hat for you."

"Yes, Mommy. And please take my book. I need help carrying my things. I'm not an octopus, you know."

Where the hell does she come up with this stuff?

On deck: laundry

I woke up at 5:45 this morning and smiled. Because the only thing I have to do tonight is laundry.


How freakin' cool is that? I get to play on my Mac and listen to music and hang out, and every 38 minutes go downstairs and change the loads over. Ho hum.

I added the Strategic Management and Competition textbook to the two-and-a-half foot tall stack of textbooks in the library last night (the stack is mine alone...M takes his books into work), and cleared off the mat-cutting table this morning. M returned the desk lamp to his nightstand.

Every once in awhile we just look at each other and grin like drunken idiots. "Whatcha wanna do now?" "Nuthin'!"

It's been two incredibly long years that has also gone by unbelievably fast. That probably doesn't make much sense, but there it is. Now I get my life back.

I get to run again.
I get to make photographs again.
I get to edit photographs again.
I get to blog again.
I get to see my friends and family again.
I get to go to bed at a decent hour again.

I want to say thank you to everyone who helped out over the last two years, whether it was through showing tons of unconditional love and support or watching Zozo for us so we could crank out yet another paper or mid-term or final, or just listening to me cry about how overwhelmed I was. Thank you to everyone who didn't make us feel worse than we already did about having to miss fun times, and who encouraged us to keep at it because it was worth it. I don't need to name names...ya'all know who you are. Please know that we could not have done it without you.

In other news, I'm getting my voice back! It was gone the entire weekend, leaving Zoe to ask, "Mommy, where did your voice go?" M's favorite line was, "She lost her voice. It's God's little early Christmas present to me!" Smartass. I just talked to him...he's on his way to the ENT with his own sore throat. If he didn't sound so miserable I'd say he asked for it with his joke. Someone told us we'd get sick once this was all over. I actually got sick right before it ended, which was par for the course because I've taken more than one final feeling pretty awful. My wonderful little LPN at the Walgreen's Take Care clinic yesterday was sympathetic: "You keep getting sick because you're not getting enough rest." I know, I know. But all that's about to change! We went to bed last night at 10:45, which was a good two to three hours earlier than we normally do. Heaven.

A colleague asked me last week if I was going to be one of those people that puts the letters behind her name, implying that it's pretentious and snobby to do so. After noting to myself that she has no letters behind her name, I told her, "Damn straight I am! I'm not going through all that and not claiming every bit of it!" M says I have to wait until I actually get the final grade to do it. Sigh. Since we finished five days early, it'll just feel like that much longer to wait. Eh, what's a couple weeks after two years?

Anyway, we're looking forward to re-introducing ourselves to our friends now that we have time to have a life again, as M says.

Hi, I'm Amy.

Wait, make that Amy, MBA.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

MBA - check!

Holy Mother of God...WE ARE DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let the drinking begin.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

One less excuse for Tiger

Well, given that he's apparently had LASIK, it's not like he can claim that he had misplaced his glasses and accidentally had "relations" with women who weren't his wife.

Received this in the mail last night and cracked up laughing. I hate it when I spend gobs of money on a beautiful four-color-with-bleeds marketing piece and mail it out to a gajillion people, only to have my star endorsement (whom I've also paid gobs of money for) making headlines for not being able to keep his fly zipped.

Question: Do you think the "friends" who told Tiger about TLC were his Vegas "friends?" Maybe a New York "friend?" Possibly a Florida "friend." I'm going with the Vegas friend theory, as those showgirls are more likely to have had LASIK since glasses would totally mess up the line of their fancy costume headpieces.

Monday, December 07, 2009

For posterity

I am working on the first of four rounds for my final project. Each round, in addition to a crapload of other work, contains a series of 10 Board Queries, or questions regarding the industry, financial statements, etc.

Here is one question from the first round:
Investing $2,000,000 in TQM's Channel Support Systems initiative will at a minimum increase demand for your products 1.7% in this and in all future rounds. (Refer to the TQM Initiative worksheet in the CompXM.xls Decisions menu.) Looking at the Round 0 Inquirer for Andrews, last year's sales were $162,769,074. Assuming similar sales next year, the 1.7% increase in demand will provide $2,767,074 of additional revenue. With the overall contribution margin of 33.6%, after direct costs this revenue will add $929,737 to the bottom line. For simplicity, assume that the demand increase and margins will remain at last year's levels. How long will it take to achieve payback on the initial $2,000,000 TQM investment, rounded to the nearest month?

I wanted to post it here so some day I can look back and laugh. I am not laughing today.

Weekend Fun!

One of the best weekends I've had in a long time! A few highlights: getting to see people we haven't seen in a loooong time, ditching homework for the entire weekend, riding our bikes and walking on the new stretch of Highway 40, fireworks (!) as part of this year's Grand Lighting. I imagine that this is how great much of life will be in two short weeks when we are done with school.

We have a final individual project to complete (four parts, each part concluding with a "test" of a series of questions by the board of directors of our imaginary companies, plus a final "test" for the project) plus the final exam (two hours to answer six essay questions). We have two weeks to finish this, all on our own schedule. We're thinking about busting through most, if not all, of it this week to wrap things up early. Then I can get back to important things, like photography and blogging. And, you know, sleeping.