Sunday, January 31, 2010

Love Me Some Facebook

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You can now follow me on Facebook, if that is your desired form of communication. 
Then you can get updates to posts anytime you log on.

Steve Pavlina

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I just read a post from http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/ about how he decided to drop Google Adsense Ads and basically drop $100k of income a year while doing it.  Wow. 

This guys sounds right up my alley and I am going to explore his site.  I just started following him so really haven't read much of his content. But I like what I see so far.

My goal in blogging truly is to come up with an income.  I used to make quite a nice income when I was in marketing working for Dell, Inc.  I stopped being a marketer not quite four years ago and started being a mommy.  It was such a scary time for me, basically changing identities midstream and Jeff and I lost over half our income in the process and added two babies at the same time.  Being a fulltime mommy was one of the best and most difficult decisions I ever had to make.  I love that I did and I think that in time my creativity and entreprenurial spirit will replace at least part of that income.  But for Steve Pavlina to say that he dropped $100k a year income and feels totally at peace with it, that is awesome!

I do hope that at some point I have to make the decision on whether or not to drop $100k in advertising income because that will mean that first of all I am generating that much in ads and second that I have some sort of revenue stream to fall back on.  A book, product recommendations, free lance writing on other blogs or for online sites all of these are ways that a person could make money and there are plenty of other ways that me being a newbie blogger have no idea about.

Right now, I make no money at this.  Would I like to have income from blogging and writing in general, absolutely.  Everytime someone clicks on one of the ads on the blog I make a few cents. I only get paid from google when I reach $100, needless to say I haven't been paid by Google yet. 

But readership is up and there is literally a constant stream of opportunities out there to generate more visits to my blog.  How exciting, I really am only limited by my own time constraints. 

Check out Steve's site, he sounds like quite the self actualized guru (his diet is 100% raw vegan, yowser). 

Let me know what inspires you to do this blogging thing and what sites you aspire to.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Is the Doctor In?

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We had such a rough night last night.  I will spare you the details.  Just know that mommy needs a serious nap today.  And maybe some doctoring......

First, check and see if there is a smiley face or a sad face.


Then, make sure the heartbeat is regular.


Definitely check the blood pressure.


And of course get a bandage to make it all better.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Look Alikes

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People tell me Mia looks like me.  However, I don't really see it.  What do you think?




I personally think that both of my children look like generic kids.  (Is it bad to say that?)  They are definitely cute enough, but I am afraid if I was separated from them for more than a few years I wouldn't be able to recognize them.  It is me, not them.  I have a problem.

I have this issue where I don't remember faces.  I read an article once that talked about this woman's ability to recognize faces.  Well, on the spectrum of this ability I am the furthest away possible.  Many people have issues remembering names, I have issues remembering names AND faces.  I really am bad at recognizing people that I have just met.  But that is not to say that I don't recognize my children.

This expression seems familiar.

What I am saying is that I don't recognize myself or my husband in my children.  I can't revert my own face back to the age of three or four and see myself in Mia or Jac.  I definitely can't do it with my husband's face.


So you tell me, do our children look like us?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Three Things That Freak Me Out

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Things that freak me out a little:

1.  Spiders - actually spiders freak me out a lot.  But recently I bought some grapes from the grocery store, typical red seedless variety.  We had used several of them already and I was going to wash up the rest to put on the table for dinner one night.  There was a freaky South American spider in there, this was definitely not your average Midwestern species.  I had put the grapes down in the strainer and was running water over them when I discovered the freaky South American spider.  Well, I tried to drown him but evidently they get a lot of rain in South America because he was unfazed.  So I quickly threw a plate over the top of the strainer so that the South American spider would remain trapped in with the grapes until Jeff got home.  We are very clear in the house that any spider found must be dealt with in a decisive manner by my husband.  He came home and released the South American spider back into the wild, which I think probably killed him because although it does rain a lot in South America I don't think that they have temperatures below 50 degrees.  It took me a while to build up the courage to buy more grapes.

2.  Extra growths inside of green peppers.  When I find an extra baby pepper inside of a large perfectly honest looking green pepper it looks like the honest looking pepper actually isn't honest at all and decided to eat its twin green pepper.  It is very cannabalistic looking when you cut into an honest looking green pepper and then all of a sudden you discover the twin of that green pepper inside its belly.  I am very squeamish about touching the dead twin pepper that has been eaten and usually have to use a knife to scrape the corpse into the trash (I definitely never use the dead twin green pepper in my salad, blech).  Bet you never look at one of those dead twin green peppers again without thinking of this story.

3.  Mushrooms - I actually eat a lot of mushrooms.  Love the taste, especially when grilled or sauteed.  Mushrooms and butter, very tastey.  However, when mushrooms spring up in my yard for no apparant reason it freaks me out.  Last year we got so much rain that the mushroom community in my yard tripled.  All of sudden we had mushrooms in a wide variety of styles and colors springing up from no where.  Where have these mushrooms been the whole time I lived here, how have they been hanging around without any above ground activity and then a particularly wet summer makes them come out of the woodwork, or the groundwork whichever the case may be? 

There are a whole myriad of bodily fluids that freak me out, but we really don't need to go there.  I went a large portion of my adulthood without having to deal with anybody else's bodily fluids except for mine; and then we got a dog.  I was still pretty exempt from cleaning up most of those because clearly one cannot be asked to clean up dog vomit if one will very soon have to be cleaning up ones own vomit.  (I have a touchy gag reflex not to be messed with.)  But after children it was all over.  There pretty much is a constant clean up on aisle 9 with an infant, toddler, small child and so on.  Maybe in the teenage years I will have a need for fewer wet wipes. 

I am sure that everyone has something weird that really freaks them out, its not just me, is it?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Kindergarten

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This is my obligatory post that all  moms must do, because we are always amazed at how fast our children grow.  Time flies and it always has.  I think the old saying is the days are so long and the years are so fast, something like that.  As a stay at home mom the days can sometimes be interminable at times although those days are receding also.  But truely the months and years fly by. 

Today is Kindergarten registration for our school district.  I was actually going to try and go up and register Jac for Kindergarten today but my printer ran out of ink and I have that lovely printer from my previous company that you can't just run to a store to get some ink.  You have to order online, so it is in the mail.  Why do I need a printer you ask?  Because I think that instead of going into Kindergarten he is actually signing up for the army, I mean I do believe that my college applications were shorter than this and they included an essay!  This is public school folks, seriously.   There are at least ten different forms and I would guess 20 pages in total to be filled out by either me or his doctors.

So I don't think we will be going up today.  To say it would be painful to fill these out up at the school while Jac and Mia are with me is an understatement.  It is hit or miss, but in general this type of situation is a recipe for disaster.  So we will wait until the ink arrives, I can print and fill these out with a glass of wine in hand. Much more doable.

Most of the forms are the government regulated type, vaccines, doctors checkups, eye doctors visits, emergency contact information and of course the all important health insurance.  Then of course you have to show the deed of your house to prove you live in the district, seriously, won't a gas bill suffice?  I do approve of the one form where they actually ask about my child, what are his strengths and weaknesses, is he especially terrified of anything besides school, and does he require any special accroutrements, etc.  I could be wrong here, but I am thinking my parents didn't fill out this form.  (If I am wrong, mom, please inform me.)  It is a kinder, gentler world that we send our children forth into these days, although with a bit more red tape and a lot more shots. 

Jac is excited about Kindergarten, although he doesn't really know what that means.   He knows it will be a different school and that he will get to ride the bus, always good times.  We are so lucky that several of his preschool friends will be heading to school with him and two of his very best "girl" friends will be getting on at the same bus stop with him.  What he doesn't know is once it starts, it doesn't stop for a very long time. 

I have always said that it feels like I have had Jac forever.  He was such a high maintenance baby and although we are growing out of most of that he still remains my first and because of that the experiment.  You always remember the experimental one more and it seems to go slower than the rest.  But Kindergarten, now that is ridiculous!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sucked in by Olay

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I must share with the blogosphere how much I love this new Olay product.  I am so not getting paid for this post it is strictly on its merits that I talk about it.  I am a sucker for new face and body products.  I was floored when all of the lovely magazines and critics lauded the new Olay Regenerist line.  Of course I didn't pay attention to which specific products were being reviewed and just started picking and choosing from the shelf at dare I say it, Target! 

I have never been a makeup snob.  If it works and I like it and I can get it at the drugstore, all the better.  I am a practical woman, if I can get the same results from a $10 product as I can from a $100 I will buy the $10.  I have never been interested in brands simply because they are the hot thing or they are expensive or popular (especially brands that will not be seen outside of my bathroom).  So for a drugstore brand to all of a sudden get critical acclaim for actual results on real people, I had to try. 

I highly recommend this to anybody who needs exfoliation.  My skin has changed since babies.  I tend to have more roughness, discoloration and fine lines.  I don't have large wrinkles (except on my forehead) or a lot of age spots.  I don't think this product is a miracle worker for those problems, but for dryness, small discoloration, fine lines and rough skin this provides amazing results in three days or less.  This is the Regenerist Detoxifying Pore Scrub.  I have tried the Hydrating Mouse - terrible and the Regenerating Cream Cleanser was just meh.  This pore scrub, does not dry me out, in fact just the opposite and it makes my face feel like it did when I was 20 very smooth and soft.  They really need this in a body scrub.

This was the last straw.  I had tried a few different Olay products, some mentioned above, that weren't good at all.  So I decided to try one last product with my coupon in hand, and I love it.  Won't change, at least until the next big thing comes along.  Now I am hooked and would like to try the Thermal Mini Peel to see if I can do anything with my age spots (I do have a few), or my bigger wrinkles, very skeptical on both of these.  I also want to try the Microdermabrasion & Peel System.  Right now I think I am good with my overall moisturizer but will probably need to start some sort of eye area specific treatment soon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The New Chart

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For a couple of years I have been thinking about creating a discipline chart for the kiddos.  In my head I always poo-pooed the idea because, well, I don't really know why I did.  I resisted this type of super structured, and what I perceive as over the top mommy behavior.  Preferring to have house rules that everyone knows. 

As little ones grow, certain behaviors come and certain behaviors go.  Often I think I won't be able to make it through the "throwing food to the floor phase" or the "reverting to poop in pants" phase or the "biting my big brother because he stole my toy" phase.  But each lovely behavior challenge does come and it does go with consistent consequences and plenty of positive reinforcement children grow and learn and move on.  However, for some reason we cannot get out of the "whine until mommy freaks out" phase or the "I don't feel like getting dressed phase", two of my least favorites.  And maybe that is why we can't seem to get out of them because they truly are terribly annoying to mommy. 

In order new attitudes we have enacted a discipline chart.  It only has four issues and four consequences, and is pretty simple and straight forward.  My true wish is to be able to say bye-bye to the whining, crying and complaining.  It is really tough for my oldest to not revert to this whenever he is tired, hungry or just needing some attention.  I am glad that he is no longer throwing himself to the ground, however we must put away the whine. 

So far I do feel the chart has helped.  It is clear and concise and there is no mistaking the consequence of whining.  I have caught both kids using it with the other, "if you cry or whine or complain you have to go to your room".  This morning Mia put it aptly, "Jac, if you cry, go to your room.  If you complain, go to your room.  If you whine, go to your room."  Maybe a bit repetive but clearly it is sinking in.  What I hope does not replace the whining is bossiness or tattling.  But at this point, I would welcome those compared to the whining! 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Yes, I am blogging about pot pies

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I have loved the store bought frozen pot pie for a very long time.  Since childhood and my mom served us Banquet pot pies I have been a fan.  I love the crust, the gelatinous broth, the overcooked vegetables and the schmeat that they call chicken.  I love the fact that you will always burn your mouth on a pot pie.  I love that the suckers take close to an hour to cook.  I love that they are $1.25 or some absurdly low price. 

I have done a lot of work on my family's diet.  We eat organic meat, for the most part.  About half of our produce is organic, and in the summer I try and grow some things on my own.  We eat whole wheat everything and I even try to bake with whole wheat flour where possible.  I use olive oil religiously, organic eggs, organic milk and the list goes on. This is not a competition - but in one area I fail miserably is the frozen food section.  I love POT PIES! 

Now, there is a very specific art to the pot pie.  Every person I have talked to has a preference for how their pot pie is served or presented to them.  (In the lingo of foodies everywhere, we all care how our pot pie is "plated".) 

I have a distinct memory of living with Jeff in a teeny tiny apartment and digging into our first pot pies as a married couple.  We were both excited.  I had baked them and they were beautifully golden brown waiting patiently on the cookie sheet.  Jeff being the loving, doting husband that he is promptly threw them each into a bowl and poked a whole in the top of each.  My heart stopped, I think I might have yelled.  Why did he just go and ruin my pot pie like that!  He stabbed the top of the pie like it was going to attack us, why would you do something like that to an innocent pot pie?  And then the realization hit me, we eat our pot pies completely different, maybe this wasn't a match made in heaven?

After that fateful night when I realized Jeff was a "leave it in the tin and poke a hole in the top" pot pie eater, I knew my only hope was to teach the children how it was done.  I myself eat pot pies correctly.  I gingerly and quickly (because as previously discussed those things are hot) flip the pot pie onto my plate and lift the tin.  Tin removal is an absolute necessity, it is the difference between receiving third degree burns versus first degree burns.  Then I poke a hole in the bottom, which is now facing up, to let the steam out.  I then proceed to eat all of the insides.  Mama always told me to save the best for last, I love the crust the most and therefore I eat all of the filling and side crusts and then at the end when everything is gone there is a perfect circle of top crust that I can then enjoy.  Lovely.

This year we introduced the pot pie to Jac and Mia.  Of course it went over fantastically, why wouldn't it?  The problem is the plating.  First we tried it my way, the correct way.  However, functional as it may be for steam releasing and crust eating, it isn't as pretty as Jeff's way.  We all know how important presentation is to the young ones.  So then we tried it Jeff's way and after letting it cool for what seemed like hours, they both still cried from the burning!  Jac has now seen the error of his ways and insists on having his mommy's way.  Mia however, very difficult to convince.

The last time we had pot pies we introduced a hybrid method.  Here goes.  I flipped Mia's pot pie out of the tin and upside down, then I flipped it back over so that it was sitting upright, but out of the tin.  Perfection.  She was thrilled that it looked like daddy's, but now she wouldn't scald herself.  Of course there were some tears due to daddy trying to help pull off her crust which resulted in her absconding mommy's pot pie which hadn't been touched yet. 

I am proud to say that I am raising two children who love pot pies!  How do you eat yours?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Trucker Week 2

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I can't believe Trucker has been with us for two weeks!  Everything is going very smoothly.  Of course we have endured the coldest part of the winter and so far so good.  He could definitely use more exercise, but sometimes it is just too cold!  He usually gets two walks a day, which is pretty good, they just are pretty short. 

We went to the vet on Tuesday and he is doing very well.  She took out his stiches, cleaned his ears, weighed him (60.8 lbs), gave us some flax oil for his itchiness, took a fecal sample and gave us outrageously expensive heartworm preventative and flea protection.  I do think he has gained a pound or two while he has been with us, but you can still feel his ribs.  She was actually perfectly happy with his weight, saying he could gain a pound or two but was trim and she liked that.  We will try and keep him around 63, it is so easy to put weight on a dog and not so easy to get it off.  (Just like us.)

Trucker still hasn't been off leash yet in the backyard.  We are a bit terrified to trust the invisible fence, but I think we are going to give it a whirl this weekend.  We will need to be on deck with running shoes, treats, a leash and the car in case he decides he doesn't mind the invisible fence.  Maybe we should say a prayer or two before we let him off leash, yikes. 

His naughty behaviors are still there.  He LOVES anything stuffed or plush and brings them to me constantly.  Jac keeps asking me, "why did you bring down all of these stuffed animals".  He really thinks that I am the one going up and getting them out of rooms and bringing them down.  His barking seems to be getting better, he does spook easily and tends to bark right before bed when he is half asleep and early in the morning when the rest of us are half asleep.  He paces, a lot, but I am still thinking that this will go away with time. 

He has only had two accidents in doors, once here and of course once at the in-laws house, I could have died.  He likes to go in the front yard for his business, not enough other doggy smells in the backyard I guess.  He still doesn't really "ask" to out, or maybe I am just not that observant.

Right now he is sneaking by me with one of Jac's friend's shoes in his mouth.   His tail is between his legs, better go get that shoe.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dance Class Begins

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Well yesterday was Mia's very first dance class.  It comes complete with a new outfit and two spiffy pairs of dancing shoes.  She got all of this from Santa and is overjoyed to finally be able to use it.

I was under the false impression that I would have 45 minutes of free time while Mia danced her heart out.  I did think that it would be difficult to change out 15 pairs of shoes for 15 three year olds when they switched from ballet to tap.  However, I assumed they had figured that part out and I didn't need to worry.  Oh yes, they have it figured out.  It is called 15 mommies waiting in the wings for their little girl to come rushing out halfway through class to have mommy switch out shoes!  Hmm.  This seems like an enormous waste of time for all of these women to be hanging out for 45 minutes only for 30 seconds of action when we are needed. 

I do suppose that potty breaks may be required.  But really, couldn't we organize better?  Couldn't there be a mommy class while this is going on and all of us do 45 minutes of plies (there is supposed to be an accent over the e but can't figure out how to do it in the blog.)?  Or couldn't we work in shifts and two of the mommies hang out to do the change while the rest of run and use the treadmill?

I know this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Many parents live a good portion of their lives waiting for practice, driving to practice, picking up from practice.  Don't get me wrong, when I could see Mia through the glass door it was adorable.   I definitely liked watching her, but I could only see glimpses of her for a few minutes at a time and mommy really needed a workout. 

It is what it is.  I just have to continue to remind myself to guard our freetime like the precious commodity that it is.  For the kids sake and for the sake of my tush!  (Seriously, they could move two treadmills up there and we could all take 10 minute turns or something!)

Regardless, Mia loved it.  She wasn't very balanced and kept falling over when she tried to stand in position.  But she listened and even when she was having trouble had a big smile on her face. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Who needs their appendix when driving?

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I read a blog yesterday by the writers at Freakonomics.  I have talked about them before and how much I love the mysteries they solve.  But this article was more open ended in nature.  Why do women ride as passengers in cars more than men?

This fairly innocuous practice surely doesn't have any real implication does it?  We definitely aren't a matriarchel soceity and we are moving away from a patriarchal soceity, but little things like who does the dishes and who gets to drive to the movies still are often divided along gender lines.  So what?  Someone has to do these chores.  I love it when Jeff cooks.  However, more often than not it will be Manwich, spaghetti, breakfast for dinner or something that is prepackaged and comes out of the oven completed.  I love to cook, and would swiftly get bored with the above options.  Part of it is of course that my mother loved to cook and she cooked 99% of the meals in our house.  I had that as a role model.  I think the one area where we need to improve is the dishes.  If I cook then someone else (right now that can't be trusted to a 4 year old) needs to clean up.  I don't create some crazy mess that is impossible to clean up but often I find that at best a half hearted attempt has been made at cleaning up the dishes, normally with several pots and pans lingering in the sink.

So this driving thing only makes sense.  My dad drove when I was kid, I don't particularly love driving, Jeff seems to enjoy it so I let him drive.  It really doesn't feel  like I am giving up any power, I control at least half of the financial decisions so who cares about who drives?  Does it make a difference?  I am modeling for Jac and Mia that women are bad drivers or shouldn't be behind the wheel?  I don't think so.

Another factor in this balance is that Jeff has this weird innate ability to 'know' a city or town before ever having been there.  He studies maps, he actually reads maps for pleasure, you heard me correctly.  He will spend countless hours and evenings buried in an almanac, almost as if he enjoys them.....

So when we go someplace he rarely even needs navigation.  He already knows all the information in his head and is confident enough that if he does make a wrong turn, with his knowledge of the city and the direction of the sun he can find his way.  Hmmm.  So what good am I?  I am the appendix of car driving and the pinky toe of navigation.  I certainly have at the very least average driving skills and I would say above average (if I studied I could do even better) navigation skills.  But in a marriage, what we have found is just like the appendix when the spouse is so much better at a certain area you just jettison that skill and let it languish, allowing you to concentrate on the areas where you are more skilled than your spouse (and there are many!).  What we really need in our house is someone who is really good at cleaning, oh yeah, maybe that is Jac!

Who drives in your family?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Stillness and Listening

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I have noticed two themes coming up in my life of late.  Do you ever get that strange feeling of coincidence when over a short period of time, usually a few days or within a month you hear something that you never heard or considered prior?  For instance, once upon a time in 2005 Jeff and I watched three movies in a row with Rachel McAdams whom prior to those movies we had never laid eyes on her.  (Mean Girls, The Notebook, Wedding Crashers)

Well, over the past couple of weeks after the craziness of the holidays has passed and the stillness of cold, brutal January has set in I have been 'hearing' two themes crop up.

Stillness
  1. I read Pillars of the Earth and Eat, Pray, Love both which talk about being still.
  2. Just read a blog where she mentions having problems sitting still. 
  3. Jeff's family had a conversation about the men in the family being a little more relaxed and laid back while the women felt compelled to clean, straighten and do chores.
  4. I have also noticed that Trucker paces. From one window to the next he paces. He looks for squirrels and dogs and then he will find a toy and chew on it for a moment then get up and drop it and then find another toy, then get a drink and on and on. I truly believe this pacing is because he hasn't had time to settle yet. He actually is a very calm dog and given time (months perhaps) he will settle in to the routine of our family and will stop this inane pacing that makes his new owner want to give him a tranquilizer.
Listening instead of talking 
  1. Eat, Pray, Love talks about the difference between meditating and praying is the difference between listening and talking to God. 
  2. I take a parenting class once a month and today we talked about not engaging in the chatter of your children when they are trying to talk their way out of trouble.  That I could even give them a sign or signal instead of preaching or getting up on my soap box.  I would hold up a hand and they would know they have to go to time out - don't laugh it could work!   
I have always considered myself a relatively calm and quiet person.  I am not restless by nature.  Most of my hobbies require me to either sit still or move sparingly.  I like to read a lot, definitely my first love.  I like to write, although sometimes this seems more like work than a hobby.  I like to garden, which requires patience and waiting and watching more than actual doing. 

But actually over the past year, as the kids have become easier and more mobile and also more self entertained I have added more things to the calendar and the chore list.  I have always thought that I could do it all, even after giving up working I still feel like I am "doing" it all or going to figure out how to do it all.  I will have a shiny house (or at least shiny to my standards), my kids will have the opportunity to play with friends, go to school and be involved in  some special activities, I will be able to still have leisure time and alone time with Jeff, my family will have dinner in the evenings together which I prepare, I will have time for friends and family to enrich my life, I will find time to take care of my body by working out and getting the rest I need, and last but hopefully not least I will have time for God.  In doing all of these wonderfully respectful activities, any of which would be difficult to completely let go of I become a crazy, up tight, stressed out, can't sit still for a moment lunatic.

But when my children look at me, when my husband and my God look at me, when my dog looks at me what do they see?  Do they see pacing?  Am I constantly pacing from one chore to the next?  I need to find stillness, without entertainment.  Stillness to think, reflect, mediate, pray, whatever but I need stillness.  I want to model stillness for my children (and my dog).

Then there is listening instead of talking.  In most of my "girl" friend relationships I am the listener.  I tend to be attracted to people who talk more than I do.  I like to be entertained.  I like to listen and act the sage and provide wisdom.  But really listening isn't about providing wisdom.  Listening is about learning. 

When I don't take the time to listen to my children, I have no idea why they just misbehaved.  When I don't listen to my husband I don't know what is stressing him out, or what his troubling him.  When I don't listen to God I have no idea what he wants for me or wants me for.  In my effort to start being more still, part of this stillness needs to be to start listening again and stop talking all the time. 

I am interested in how to practice stillness and listening, any thoughts?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Trucker Week 1

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Trucker seems to be adapting very well to his new home and family.  He is very good with kids and if I could just train him to not only pick up their toys but to also put them away, we would be in business.  This is one of his bad habits, but really for a stray he is doing great. 

He also tends to bark, but generally it is when he is afraid (loud plow trucks last night) or when he wants to meet another dog or person.  So we are working on that, encouraging him when he looks out the window with no barking and tell him 'no' when he does bark.  Sometimes you have to distract him if the neighbors dog is out in the yard.  We will continue to work on this. 

He has had several accomplishments.  He now can walk up and down the stairs, yay!  He has dropped on command a couple of times.  He almost knows 'down'.  He is getting really good with 'stay' and 'come'.  He definitely knows his name.  He shies from the beeping invisible fence.  He walks very well on leash and Jeff says that he seems to be trained to 'heal'.  He hasn't attempted to get on the couch or the counter for two days (we have only had him six).  He now can pee in the backyard, he seemed to only want to pee on walks which is tough. 

I felt really bad about saying this last night, but he seems to be more well-behaved than Trooper.  Trooper was really good, but some of his bad habits we were never able to conquer.  He was a freak when you walked by other dogs and even got away from  me a couple of times which was scary.  We constantly had to worry about him running away.  He would eat anything on the counter (I am sure Trucker would also), and even lit the stove once when I forgot and left brownies on the back burner.  He didn't burn down the house or light himself on fire, but he did melt a perfectly good teapot.  Trooper jumped and was aggressive on meeting new people and dogs, and I hate to say it, but he was a humper.  Trooper also ripped to shreds any toy we gave him within minutes.  He would swallow whole most of them, even raw hides or toys supposedly made for aggressive chewers.  The only toy we could really give him was a Galileo Nylabone and that was basically concrete.  Oh, but I miss him..

Jeff is worried that if he is too good and when he gets older he 'won't have any personality'.  Au contraire, my friend, in personality he is not lacking!  I took him out in the snow and ran around with him, fun!  I can't wait to let him off leash in the backyard.  He is going to have so much fun terrorizing the squirrels, birds and cats that come into our yard.  Birds I like, but I could do without the squirrels, I won't comment on the cats.   He needs some neighborhood dogs to play with on a regular basis.  There are a few dogs in our extended family who he will be around several times a year, but he probably needs to have some doggy dates to keep up his socialization. 

I am now able to recognize that Trucker is a dog.  He is not my child.  He is most certainly a part of my family, but he ranks well below Jac and Mia.  I think with Trooper I always projected my human feelings on to him.  For instance, if he was begging I thought I would hurt his feelings if I didn't give him something.  That is just crazy.  If anything he would respect me more and consider me alpha if I didn't hand over the biscuit!  Poor Trucker, he is getting the raw end of the deal with a more mature dog owner.  But hopefully this means we can let him off leash in the backyard soon and he will be able to go to more doggie friendly places than Trooper.  In the end he will not miss the biscuits, or the hamburger or the cheese or the carrots that Trooper used to love.

I will give you another update soon.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

2010 Books

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I love books and all of the possibility they hold.  Nothing amazes me more than an author who can move me, teach me, excite me or shock me.  Here are the books I have read in 2010.

January:

The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett (1/06) 4 stars - I liked this book because it was set in the Middle Ages.  I have always been a sucker for a knight in shining armor.  The book is long but actually went pretty quick with lots of action.  It does have some gratuitous scenes of sex and violence, for some a reason to read for others a reason not to read.

Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert (1/15) 3 stars - This is a non-fiction book about one woman's spiritual journey to find herself and balance in her life.  The middle section where she lives in an ashram in India was fantastic.  I enjoyed the detailed information about the different cultures, Italy, India and Bali.  It had spectacular pieces, but not spectacular the whole way through.

February:

Crazy For the Storm - Norman Olestead (2/6/10) 4 stars - This is another non-fiction book, I can't believe how many I am reading!  Great book about survival and strength and parenting.  It made me want to not be as careful with my kids.  Kids need some adversity to overcome, because someday I won't be there to save the day and they really need to believe in themselves.  In this case, it was life or death.  Quick and easy, I definitely recommend this.

2010 Movies

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Here they are in date order with the rating Jeff and I gave them in Netflix. 

January:

(500) Days of Summer (01/04/10) - 5 stars, love Zoey Deschanel.  Unique timeline in the movie gives a different view of a love story.  (Although it says up front this isn't a love story.)

Beautiful Girls (01/06/10) - 5 stars, great cast.  Sort of a day in the life kind of movie with lots of stuff to relate to.

Rachel Getting Married (01/09/10) - 3 stars.  I understand why Anne Hathaway was nominated for an Oscar for this, but I really didn't relate to this and didn't like any of the characters.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (01/13/10) - 3 stars.  Yes, I watched a movie titled, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past as in a take on A Christmas Carol.  It was silly but it did have redeeming parts to it (ie. Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner).

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (01/14/10) - 3 stars.  Don't make fun, I am a fan.  Similar to the book however, it seems to be very long and not get anywhere.

An Unfinished Life (01/15/10) - 4 stars.  Lovely movie about forgiveness.  The ageless Robert Redford is always amazing, and of course Bart the Bear was scary in all the right parts.

Eastern Promises (01/20/10) - 3 stars.  Pretty disappointing for Viggo and Naomi, but hey, I guess they can't always hit homeruns.  Huge plot gaps in this flick as well as crazy violence that is way too graphic.  It isn't even graphic in an emergency room sort of way, no this is graphic in a the director is just trying to make you cover your eyes sort of way.

The Quiet (01/21/10) - 4 stars.  Reminds you of how incredibly cruel children can be to each other.  Both of the girls in this film do an excellent job, Camilla Belle and Elisha Cuthbert.  This family's dysfunction makes the rest of us immensely normal.

The Cake Eaters (01/22/10) - 4 stars.  I have no idea why this is called The Cake Eaters.  Someone must explain this to me.  Bruce Dern is awesome in this, he plays the awful grandpa in Big Love and just really is amazing.  Kirsten Stewart plays a disabled girl and her performance is amazing.  All of these men are searching for love after their mother/wife dies and only one proves to have any success.

The Importance of Being Ernest (01/24/10) - 3 stars.  Just okay, even if it did have Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon and was a period film, I love a period film.

Whip It (01/27/10) - 4 stars.  For all of you Austin crazies out there you have to watch this!  Fantastic roller derby, meets the girl from Juno, meets keep Austin weird.  Love it!

Nothing But the Truth (01/29/10) - 3 starts.  Could have been great.  Great cast with Kate Beckinsale, Noah Wylie, Matt Dillon, Alan Alda.  It just fell a little flat, worth watching but not great.

February:

Avatar (02/06/10) - 4 stars (maybe 5).  We saw this at the theatre in 3D.  Jeff didn't like the 3D but I did.  I do think you need to see it the theatre regardless.  It is basically your next gen Star Wars, is is that epic good versus evil with a love story, story.  It is sort of Dances With Wolves meets Pocahontas meets Star Wars.  Seriously, unless you want to be left out of pop culture in the year 2010, see this movie.

Couples Retreat (02/07/10) - 4 stars.  Funny comedy about married life.  I always like Vince Vaughn and Jason Bateman is hysterical in this playing it straight.

Body of Lies (02/14/20) - 3 stars.  Good movie, and I always like Leo in anything.  I have to admit though I am a bit tired of the Middle Eastern bad guy.  Is that wrong to say?  I preferred the Russian bad guy or the German bad guy, the Middle Eastern bad guy wears me out.

Four Christmases (02/16/10) - 3 stars.  Funny flick, but a bit over the top.  No subtle humor here.  I like Vince Vaughn and Reece Witherspoon was good, but some of the ancillary characters seemed a bit forced.

Hurt Locker (02/23/10) - 4 stars.  Good movie and probably worthy of the Oscar nomination, but I don't think it will win.  I am trying to look past the war theme and Middle Eastern bad guy rut that Hollywood has gotten into.  It is good and has a break out performance by Jeremy Renner, to date he has been in a lot of no name movies, but this guy is the real deal.  It just came short of the coveted 5 star award by Jeff and I, sigh.

The Hangover - (02/26/10) Jeff gave this 5 stars, it might be 4 stars on a really good day, but most days it was just average. 3 stars. I know heresy. But it really wasn't as funny as I was expecting and maybe that was part of the problem. It certainly was no Old School or Goldmember or Swingers, three of my favorite comedies of all time. Road Trip would actually rate higher than The Hangover for me, at least I cried because I was laughing so hard in Road Trip. I never cried in The Hangover, from laughing that is.

March:

A Perfect Getaway- (03/01/10) - 3 stars.  This was a nice thriller, not too scary.  Just the way I like them.  I like Milla Jovovich and Steve Zahn.  It will make you worry the next time you travel and you meet friendly tourists who want to hang out.

Adam -  (03/03/10) - 4 stars.  Great movie.  It is about a man with Asperger's Syndrome whose father dies and he is forced to get along in the world.  And it is a love story.  Lovely movie.

Amreeka - (03/08/10)  3 stars.  I wanted to like this.  I wanted it to be as good as Towelhead, but it wasn't.  It was a bit awkard at times although somewhat endearing.  I think it is good to watch movies that put discrimination at the forefront.

Love Happens - (03/11/10) 3 stars.  Cute romantic comedy.  I like Jennifer Anniston.  It was about a guy who lost his wife (instant pull on the heart strings) and becomes a self help writer and guru.  He has a break through moment and of course falls in love.  I cried, I admit it.  This is one I watched while Jeff was out of town.

2012 - (03/15/10) 2 stars.  Seriously, I was prepared to be disappointed, but come on.  The first ten minutes was RIDICULOUS.  Jeff likes end of the world movies, I endulge him, but this was beyond terrible.  I was generous to give it 2 stars.

The Counterfeiters (3/16/10) - 4 stars.  Great movie, about how you can make the right choices even in life threatening situations. 

Did you hear about the Morgans? (3/27/10) - 3 stars.  Your run of the mill romantic comedy, not a must see.

April:

Up in the Air (4/17/10) - 4 stars.  I give this four stars strictly because my husband really liked it.  I think if you aren't in corporate America and haven't gone through at least one layoff then you may miss some of the point.  Not sure it was Oscar nomination worthy.

May:

Mary Poppins (5/13/10) - 4 stars.  The kids really enjoyed this, never gets old. 

Brothers (5/15/10) - 5 stars.  Really well done, Jake Gyllenhaal is awesome and although I am not a huge Tobey McGuire fan he is pretty fantastic in this movie.  Just a tiny taste of what veterans must go through.

The Blind Side (5/21/10) - 4 stars.  Good, solid, but Oscar winning???  I don't think so. 

An Education (5/25/10) - 4 stars.  I am pretty sure that Peter Sarsgaard always plays a lecherous older man, to the young innocent.  Really interesting plot for what really is a coming of age/ romance movie.  Man meets girl, girl falls in love, man asks girl to marry him, girl is 16, parents say, okay; why the heck not?

Extract (5/29/10) - 3 stars.  Not great, but I must admit I am a sucker for Jason Bateman.  I like to see that Mila Kunis (from That 70s Show) is starting to get into some interesting films.

June:

Precious (6/5/10) - 4 stars.  Heartwrenching and unbelievable in its rawness.  It is hard to believe that anyone would have to grow up under those circumstances or that they could turn into a good person or even a great person.

Crazy Heart (6/23/10) - 4 stars.  Truly wonderful movie.  On one hand it makes me think that everyone should pursue their passion regardless of adversity or age, on the other it makes me wonder if you should pursue your passion when you know it may kill you and drive everyone who loves you away.

It's Complicated (6/26/10) - 4 stars.  Solid romantic comedy.  I like that it isn't all bublegum and roses.  As we get older we realize that the perfect love story just doesn't exist.  Sometimes you need to grab onto love regardless of its form.

July:

Shutter Island (7/6/10) - 4 stars.  Awsome psychological thriller.  Some bad karma in the movie regarding the family situation.  But all in all a great movie with twists and turns up until the very last scene.  Leo gives a fantastic performance.

Inglorious Basterds (7/7/10) - 4 stars.  Not what I was expecting, but really good nonetheless.  This is a Tarantino flick, so if you don't enjoy gratuitious gore and guts, don't watch it.

True Blood Season 1 (Still in progress) - 3 stars.  Yes, I got my husband to watch a show about vampires.  Craziness.  It is pretty good, interesting for a TV show.  Some of the actors are fantastic, and some are just so-so.  It will be interesting to see how we like it once some of the characters are developed a bit more.

Everybody's Fine (7/22/10) - 4 stars.  I think this may be closer to 5 stars, maybe if Netflix would allow you to give a half of a star it would be 4.5 stars.  Really good for all the Daddy's out there to watch.  Also a good reminder that children are yours for life, not just 18 years, so prepare yourself!  Sometimes I am not a fan of De Niro in a nonaction flick, but he really hits the mark in this one.

When in Rome (7/24/10)  2 stars.  What you see is what you get, sort of a Disney romantic comedy.  Imagine this, in the end the two beautiful people fall in love.  Sorry for ruining it for you.

Green Zone (7/26/10) 3 stars.  I am kind of ready to see Matt Damon in something other than action/war movies.  This is good, and makes you think.  But the whole conspiracy theory movie about the Middle East is a bit passe isn't it? 

August:

She's Out of My League (8//3/10) 4 stars.  Very cute romantic comedy with some good lessons.  Nobody will like us or love us until we like ourselves.

The Runaways (8/10/10) 4 stars.  I like Kristin Stewart in just about everything she does (maybe Twilight excluded) and little Dakota Fanning has grown up and is pretty awesome in this flick.  If you are a Joan Jett fan, you have to see it.

Chloe (8/15/10) 3 stars.  Any other time in my life, this might have received 4 stars.  But being pregnant I related way too much to this character.  I think Julianne Moore is an amazing actress and she really does a great job here.  I just boo hooed a bit too much through it, and I don't think most people would cry in this movie at all!

Step Brothers (in home)  Not expecting much from this one.

Winter Blast 2010

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And it did!  We finally got some snow.  Not a huge amount, right around 3 or 4 inches.  The kids are happy and crazy and excited.  We bundled up in a ridiculous amount of clothes, although they were able to stay out close to 45 minutes so I guess that did the trick.  It is 13 degrees and with the windchill feels like -5 degrees.   Yikes. 

This snow wasn't good for building things, so our requisite snowman still needs to be built for the winter of 2010.  But we did make snow angels, shoveled the drive and the front walk, got some sled rides around the block and played.  We all came back in and were starving.  Including mama, the cold weather makes me so hungry.



Pictures of playing in the snow.





And now for the rosy cheeks. 



We all ate a lot but Jac didn't drink his hot chocolate.  So I was cleaning up and getting ready to dump it down the sink.  It never fails that as soon as I throw something away, someone in the family protests because I just dumped down the sink something that looked dreadful or threw away the most important tiny scrap of paper, etc.  It happens with both kids and the hubby, I throw it out and declutter a bit and the rest of the family freaks out.  So I have really tried to start asking more.  Right before I dumped the chocolate I asked Jac if he was going to drink it.

Well, now our four year old talks in code.

"If I say 'domino' that means no, and if I say 'crackerbarrel' that means yes."  I kid you not, this was the response that I got this morning.  After an interminable pause, where of course I was getting impatient because that is the way my DNA works, he said "domino". 

I dumped it out. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Let it snow!

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These pictures were from the day that we got a miserable 1/4 inch of snow.  As you can see they are indoor pictures, because the amount of snow we got didn't warrant me putting on any gear to go outside and take pictures.  So far everyone around us has gotten a decent snow and all we hav received is amazingly cold temperatures.  Tomorrow there is a chance of snow although it doesn't sound like anything huge. 

We're ready!  Send in the big stuff. 

Monday, January 4, 2010

Things I Learned Today

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Jac went back to preschool today.  When he got into the car, I asked him how his day was.  He looked at me very seriously and said, "I didn't learn anything new today".  Well, I sure did.  Here are the things I learned today.

Two parents is always better than one.  Jeff went back to work today and I am sad, because my patience was gone by 9:30. 

A dog that barks a lot is really annoying.  A dog that barks at a person walking by is understandable.  A dog that barks at a tiny, little squirrel across the street in the neighbors yard is a little obsessive.  A dog that barks at his reflection is just silly.  (This is something we are going to have to work on.)

I still have it.  When required I can still sprint with the best of them.  When new doggie is escaping out the back of the yard because he ran out the door during a confusing, too many kids not enough adults moment the adrenaline kicks in and there I go.  Although I may feel that little sprint in the morning.  No dogs or children were hurt during this little event, and no adults had to spend too much time outside in crazy cold weather without a coat or gloves.

One other thing I learned today was that there are at least three little girls who have told Jac they want to marry him.  Here is an email I received from my friend regarding her little girl who no longer goes to school with Jac but is still very good friends with him.  We have regular playdates and have gotten quite close.

So you may (or may not) find this funny.


As soon as we got home this afternoon, Jane (I have changed her name for the purpose of this blog) said she wanted to write Jac a note. She started on her own but then asked how to spell words like: marry, person, know, playdates...

The final letter reads: Jac do you know that you can marry a person you have playdates with? Love, Jane

I assumed that she had overheard our conversation about her wanting to marry her daddy and that's what triggered the note. But then during bath time tonight she told the rest of the story: Supposedly Jac told her that both Makayla and Becca wanted to marry him. And in her little mind she wanted to make it clear to Jac that he didn't have to marry a girl from his preschool that he could marry a 'person' that he has playdates with.

Poor Jac, he has all kinds of Type A girls wanting to marry him!
 
I also learned that true to his father's nature, my little boy doesn't tell me much of what goes on at school.  This isn't terribly surprising.  I am sure that by the time he is 12 I will have learned some tricks to get the information I require.
 
Trucker update:  Trucker is doing well.  He did try a little escape today, but no harm.  He needs more excercise and we are going to get him trained on the Invisible Fence as soon as possible.  He likes to bark and gets a bit obsessive about it, but if you can distract him it is fine.  I am not sure what do about this because of all the bad habits Trooper had, this was not one of them.  He still loves to pick up the kids things, so we will continue to work on what toys are his.  He is great at Sitting, we are working on Stay, Come and Down.  He almost knows his name, I think in a week or so he will have it down.  We go to the vet on Thursday to make sure what is what and get his stiches out.  I also want to know how much weight she wants him to gain.  Jeff thinks he is 63 pounds I think he is more like 56 pounds. 
 
He can only make it to about 8PM before he passes out.  He gets all sleepy looking and can barely stand up.  He will put his head on your lap or by your hand and close his eyes and just stand there.  He is an early bird and has been carried to bed twice now.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Trucker Finds a Home

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Well, we are officially dog owner's again.  We brought home Trucker today from the rescue group and are thrilled.  I know you are now wondering what happened to Casey and Tia.  Casey was a big girl, she had lots of energy and never really mellowed out while we were there.  She was very sweet, but while we were petting her she picked up two or three things in the room and took off with them. She will make a great dog for people who either have older kids or no kids such that they have more time to focus only on Casey. 

Tia is a sweetheart.  After spending about 30 minutes with her I was sold this morning. Jeff, not so much.  He thought she was too laid back.  Tia and Trucker came in together as strays and they were friends of some sort.  We will never know if they met along the way or if they were in the same house or even if they were brother and sister.  I do wonder if Trucker will miss Tia and whether or not she is lonely tonight.

There were two families at the rescue looking at Tia and Casey, so that made me feel better about the situation.  We wish we could take care of them all.  There was also a sweet senior girl there whom we loved.  But we don't need two dogs at this point in our lives, but maybe someday.

After meeting Trucker, Jeff was in love.  Trucker is a bit goofy but mellowed pretty quickly.  He was very interested in checking out the room he was in but he wasn't constantly being naughty.  He definitely wanted to greet every person and dog that came into the room.  He was really good with the kids right off the bat and wasn't jumping up or in their faces.  He is a Golden, so by definition he is large but he isn't huge like Casey. 


After almost two hours at the rescue, we agreed on Trucker and were able to load him up and bring him home this morning.  So far he has paced around for several hours, barked one time at a mysterious noise in the back yard (I think he may be a bird chaser), cleaned the floor in the kitchen, tried to steal two shoes, tried to steal several kids toys, tried to counter surf once, tried to get on the couch twice, asked to play ball several times, gone on two REALLY cold walks, gotten freaked out about the stairs and tried to find the hidden passageway behind the stairs and finally he has taken a couple of well deserved naps.  He seemed thirsty, but often dogs drink when they are nervous.  He has been good about pottying outside with no accidents so far, but he hasn't asked to go out yet either.  His manners seem very good for a guy who lived on the streets for awhile.  He doesn't beg (what dog doesn't beg?).  He hasn't jumped up on the kids or us even one time.  He hasn't been very vocal at all, but that could be nerves also.  When he does get something in his mouth he allows you to take it out easily.  He walks very nicely on a leash.  He sits well, although doesn't know any other commands.  And so far he doesn't seem to be a licker.  (Sorry Bentley, he may give you a run for your money on the perfect dog award.)


He is super thin, probably 50ish pounds, Jeff said approximately 63, but I don't think he is that big.  He is tall, around the same size as Trooper but blonder.  He actually reminds us a lot of Trooper.  He has a few expressions that are the same and is the same body type. 


I know it will take a while to figure out his true personality.  But we already love him and he seems too good to be true.  I know that he will be naughty and more than likely it will be because I failed to do something for him.  I am kind of excited to get to say "Mother Trucker"! when he does something really naughty, because that makes me giggle.  But we have already joked that our "third child" may become the easy one really quick (there have been a few tantrums this evening as Jac and Mia seem to be worn out from the days activities). 

Hopefully we will all sleep well tonight.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's 2010

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Well, I am sure that many many people are so glad so see the last of 2009.  We were fortunate and did have many blessings in 2009 but are looking hopefully to 2010 for renewed hope and faith in our wonderful country.

Jeff and I were so happy to not be laid off in 2009.  I am able to stay home with the kids which in and of itself is amazing.  We know so many families who have been laid off and are looking for work that to us just to have this stability has been fantastic. 

I made many new friends in 2009 and got closer and more comfortable to some wonderful people.  This is all we can really ask is to have a wonderful family and have close friends to share our ups and downs with.  I am not the easiest person in the world to befriend but I had plenty of women hang in there and really get to know me better.  I hope to continue to foster these friendships.

For 2010, here are a few of my hopes and dreams and dare I say resolutions.
  • Get a dog!
  • Keep those pounds at bay.
  • Work on writing more, both in and out of a blog.
  • Have fewer poopy pants in 2010 than 2009.
There are a few other things that Jeff and I are working on, but we won't share those until they come to fruition.  Happy 2010!