Sunday, November 1, 2009

Requesting a Friend

I've written and said often how much I'm enjoying using social media to reconnect with old friends and classmates. Sadly, one re-connection just isn't going to happen.

On FB this morning, I found someone. As I was growing up he was my neighbor, a friend, and a classmate. I fondly remember hanging out with him with our neighborhood group, playing kick-the-can and putting on shows. Anticipating the opportunity of reminiscing about our younger days, I sent a friend request, and got back this:

"wow. Are u f***ing kiding me. You are a total ****. Do you remeber how you treated me. Think about you white trash w**** NOW"

OMG! I'm shocked.

I've always thought that I was a good person, I give back to the community and to others. I'm a nice person. This is not self-proclaimed - many people have told me so, sometimes so much so that "nice" doesn't always seem like a compliment. I know "kids will be kids" and kids are mean to each other, but for those of you that knew me then, I think you'll agree that I really was a nice kid. Brown-nose, teacher's pet, straight-A student, Girl Scout even through high school, respectful, accepting, straight-laced - heck, I was the kid that got picked on and made fun of! So this scathing response I received from my friend request came as a surprise.

I don't know what I did to him. I don't know why he still has such vehement hatred toward me, and at this point I don't think it matters. It troubles me to think I could have been so mean to someone that they carry such indignation to warrant such a diatribe decades later. And I'll admit it gives me pause to think: could there be others that I offended and I have no recollection?

So first of all, I'd like to thank him for his honesty (I really do try to see the good in everyone, there is something to be learned even from our harshest critics). And second, I'd like to apologize to anyone that I ever offended or hurt in some way. I assure you it was unintentional, I meant no ill-will toward you.

I don't expect to be friends with everyone I've ever met. And I'm sure I'll be more selective before I click on "Add as Friend" on FB in the future. I do hope he will somehow find some peace and let go of his resentment towards me and his childhood.

I still look back on our neighborhood childhood with fondness, and I would still call him my friend. I hope when I leave the world one day that the majority of the people I've ever met will remember that I am a nice person.

Friday, October 30, 2009


I love my kids and their friends. It seems I'm always driving them from one activity or another, or transporting them between each others' houses. These rides are little peeks into their microcosm, I gain a lot of insight just listening to their conversations.

The following is a real conversation, and I just have to share. (I won't use any names so as not to embarrass anyone!)

We were driving down the street and stopped at a traffic light. Standing near the corner was a gentleman holding a sign:

"Homeless vet, need $."

I didn't give him a second look or thought. But he caught the eye of one of my passengers.

"Did you ever wonder?"

I waited to see what she was wondering. I was expecting something along the lines of: How do people end up homeless? or Where are his friends and family? But no, what followed was so much more.

Passenger #1: Did you ever wonder? Where do the homeless people get the marker to make their sign? I mean if you have enough money to buy a marker to make a sign, you have enough money for a hamburger. I'd sooo buy a hamburger instead of a marker.

Passenger #2 interjects: You'd just steal the marker to make your sign.

Passenger #1: If I bought a hamburger and I stole a marker, I'd get kicked out of my house - then I'd really be homeless. I'd have a marker, but I'd have to move into someone's basement and live with them.

Passenger #2: You could move into my basement.

Passenger #1: And I'd still have a hamburger!

I sooo love this great adventure of raising kids!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sing Out Strong

Sing, sing a song, sing out loud, sing out strong...

Okay, kinda cheesy maybe, but this is the new philosophy I'm going with for blogging. I worry too much that my topic isn't interesting to anyone else. I fret over posts for way too long before pushing the publish button. But who am I trying to impress? My blog is mine, any rules are self-imposed. I don't represent any company or brand, I can express myself without offending anyone.

If you're reading one of my posts and you feel like commenting, that's great - I appreciate the feedback and especially the conversation. But I'm not going to judge myself on my number of followers or comments. This is a great outlet to say whatever I have to say, whether anyone reads it or agrees with it.

...So don't worry if it's not good enough for anyone else to hear. Just sing, sing a song.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fashion Police

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm no fashionista. Being a child of the 60's and 70's - it is truly a wonder that I grew up to have any fashion sense at all. Exhibit A:

(Actually I think that's probably sufficient evidence, I don't think any further exhibits are necessary.)

My parents always provided me with nice, classic clothes (picture Jan Brady in the early episodes). I was happy, and I didn't care all that much about what I was wearing. Then a couple of my older "cool" cousins sent care-packages filled with bell-bottom jeans and other treasures. Finally I had some outfits that were more "with it" (more like what the Partridge Family would wear instead of the Brady Bunch).

I learned how to sew in home-ec at school and from my mom at home. I continued sewing some of my own clothes (including my own wedding dress with lace and beading on the bodice),

and started sewing for friends and family as well (2 other wedding dresses and probably a hundred bridesmaid and flower girl dresses). My sewing machine still gets some use, but not as often as I'd like. These days I enjoy hitting the thrift stores and hunting for fashion treasures. I look for classic pieces rather than any current fashion trends. My closet is full of my finds and I mix and match separates to create different outfits for work. Nothing too out there, but definitely a lot of variety and higher end pieces that I didn't pay top dollar for.

When Project Runway first aired, combining reality tv with sewing and fashion, I knew I'd have to watch. While the fashion aspect feeds my creative side, the competitors are such characters and I get my reality tv fix (one of my guilty pleasures). Personally, I'd never want to go on any reality show, but I have to say I always think about what I would create for the challenge each week. I appreciate the creativity and workmanship of practically every garment they make - even the most avant garde creations. Rules are made to broken - fashion rules anyway.

(But my good friend would still insist that you can't wear white shoes after Labor Day.)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Twitter - a Win / Win Situation

I started using Twitter last year ultimately to re-connect with some friends at an old workplace. I've done that and become closer than ever to them as a result. Along the way I've added lots of new contacts that I network and share ideas with and I consider many of them to be friends now as well. I have met several of them IRL (in real life) at events like PodCamp Ohio where I was gathering info to update our foundation website (still a work in progress, but revamped and revitalized).

So all in all it has been a positive experience.

The bonus that I didn't foresee?
Winning prizes!

A list of my winnings thus far:

4-pack of COSI passes from the Connector Podcast on Blogtalkradio (they post notices on Twitter, then they do drawings during their broadcast to their lucky listeners) I donated these for the raffle for the golf tournament for the foundation.

4 4-packs of avitae caffeinated energy water by retweeting (retweet/RT: to resend someone else's message out to all your followers) as a daily prize winner during a contest.

2 tickets to the Ohio State Fair by retweeting their message.

A year's supply of avitae as a first prize winner in their sweepstakes by retweeting. A case each month for the next 12 months - I love avitae!

4-pack of COSI passes from the Connector Podcast - I'm keeping this set to use some cold weekend this fall with our family.

2 tickets to the Jonas Brothers concert from VerizonWireless by retweeting their message. (D loves the JoBros and had never been to any concert before. She and a friend went - they were great seats, just 7 rows from the stage. Priceless!)

My husband has won avitae and restaurant gift certificates, as well as a copy of Trust Agents by Chris Brogan. Since Jim had already purchased a copy to read, he's doing a giveaway of his own on his blog for the extra copy.

Through Twitter we have also gotten donations, sponsorships and promotion for the foundation.

This doesn't include the free food I've gotten from watching everyone's postings about daily promotions from local restaurants.

Twitter definitely has its rewards!

What are some of your rewards from social media?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

K's Great Adventure - part 3 The Road Home

18 days

64 songs

104 performances

120 miles

Those are the stats, but those are just numbers and they don't begin to sum up K's experience in the All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir (and the miles don't include the week of boot camp before the fair started!).

The AOSFYC choir performed every day of the fair, 4-6 concerts scheduled each day. They started every morning with a couple hours of rehearsal. Then they marched from the dorm to each concert location doing cadences and cheers along the way. In between concerts the choir marched around the fairgrounds and serenaded different vendors, sharing their voices and providing musical fun to fair-goers. The AOSFYC also marched in the daily parade, doing their cadences and singing songs from the Natural Resources area clear back to the north end of the fairgrounds where their dorms are located.

The kids worked incredibly hard each day - and it definitely paid off. We were able to go to the fair 5 or 6 times (I think I had fair french fries for dinner every time - I've had enough till next year ... maybe) and saw them perform more than a dozen times. Here is one of my favorite songs at my favorite venue:

It wasn't all work though. The kids had small pockets of free-time during the day and usually an hour or two in the evening. During these times they rode rides and had their fill of fair food - usually the vendors would see their badges and let them ride for free, or give them discounts on snacks. They got to hang out with their new choir friends and further cement the bonds they were forming.

The final week of the fair had some added activities. They had the Opus Olympics - a night of relay races and games between the Opus groups (an Opus is what they call the smaller groups they divide the 200 kids into on the first day for team-building and activities throughout the entire fair). A Recruit Day was held with about 40 prospective members tagging along with the choir members and performing with them - a great opportunity to help them see if they want to apply for the choir next year. And Alumni Day had hundreds of AOSFYC alumni attending the fair and singing with the 2009 choir.

The conductor, the staff and the CITs added to the whole experience. All are very talented individuals sharing their time, humor, love of music and friendship with the kids.

The last day of the fair arrived and we were excited to get to bring K home with us. But not until after the final concert - the Friendship Finale.

While waiting for the concert to begin, I met some people sitting behind me - the gentleman had been in the choir back in the early 90's and has since moved to Florida, the woman was his mother who lives in Kentucky now. They drove up together just to see the concert. They talked about his experience with the AOSFYC and what it meant to him and what it still means to him today. Listening to their story, I couldn't help but imagine coming back with K in 15-20 years and watching and reliving it with her.

At the Friendship Finale, the 2009 AOSFYC performed together for the last time. Hundreds of people were in attendance. They sang 50 of their songs and received several standing ovations. Many tears were shed during the Finale, by the parents, the kids and the staff. These 200 kids who came together for the first time less than 3 weeks before, along with the CITs and the staff had become a family.

When we brought K home, she reunited with our dog, laid down on her own bed for a minute, and took a shower (alone for the first time in weeks). Then, despite the fact that she was exhausted and it was getting close to midnight, she logged into her FB account and added all 200+ new AOSFYC friends. They have been chatting and sharing pictures and memories online. K is already making plans to attend the reunion in February and looking forward to the fair next year.

Friends for 18 days, family forever.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

K's Great Adventure - part 2 - The Statehouse

Four days into their rehearsals and preparations, the choir made a trip to the Ohio Statehouse. We hadn't seen K since we dropped her off, we hadn't talked to her in 2 days, so I was anxious to go downtown on my lunch hour and try to see their performance. I took D to work with me so she could tag along too.

We parked in the garage under the Statehouse and made our way to the west lawn where they were scheduled to perform. The buses were lined up across from the Ohio Theater and the risers, flags, keyboard, and other equipment was set up awaiting the choir. D and I talked to one of the AOSFYC staff that was there and were told that the kids were touring the Statehouse and would be singing an impromptu concert inside before coming out on the risers. So we headed inside.

There were the kids, looking very impressive in their uniforms for the first time, all lined up on one side of the rotunda. I scanned the section on the left that I knew were the altos, looked through everyone there, and didn't see any sign of K. Since we hadn't talked to her in a couple of days, the thought crossed my mind that maybe she was sick and didn't get to come. I finally asked one of the AOSFYC staff and was informed that they were waiting on one last group - the director's group actually. A couple minutes later, the stragglers joined the others (K included - she looked so grown up all of a sudden!) The director stood in the center of the beautiful marble floor with the choir forming a double ring around the rotunda. "The acoustics in the rotunda are amazing and the room has a 5-7 second reverberation!" They performed the Star Spangled Banner:

Then they made their way outside to the risers for their scheduled concert. All of the rehearsing was evident - it was a great concert. I can't wait to see them at the fair.

We did get to talk to K. We found out that she was having cellphone issues - it wouldn't turn on or charge so she had no way to call us. Before we left the concert, I gave my cellphone to the alto section leader to give K when they returned to the dorms so we are back in contact with her.

Opening ceremonies of the fair are tomorrow morning and the choir is performing. My husband is heading to the fairgrounds before going in to work so he can see her (and video so I can see it!).

Sunday, July 26, 2009

K's Great Adventure - part 1

In my last post (oh, so long ago), I told of K making the All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir (AOSFYC). Well her adventure has begun.

First, if you want to write to her, click on this link and you can send an online message that will get printed out and given to her within 24-48 hours.

Or if you want to send an actual letter, they really like getting mail. Address it to her at:

All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir
Ohio ExpoCenter
717 East 17th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43211-2698

And if you want to keep up with their daily blog with new pictures each day: All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir blog.

The fair runs from July 29 through August 9. If you're planning on going, here is their concert schedule.

Okay, business out of the way.

This has been a month of preparation. Uniforms and music ordered and paid for; took K to the doctor for a physical (and tetanus booster was overdue) which then had to be notarized. Bought a footlocker, hanging organizer, laundry bag, accordian folder to organize sheet music, new toiletries, etc.

About a week before she was scheduled to report, her music packet arrived: 70-some pieces of music for her to go over and try to learn (with about 20 more to be received when she checks in), a CD recording of maybe 30 of the songs. K had performed a couple of them in different choirs, but has since changed from Soprano to Alto so she even had to relearn those. She spent a couple of afternoons with pianist friends who helped pick out the alto parts for her. A mentor was assigned to all of the rookies - K's mentor A called to see if she had any questions and introduce herself.

Drop off day came, K was all ready to go, packed and so excited. We drove to the fairgrounds and were directed to a parking spot. Before we were even out of the van, 4 of the boys in choir uniforms from last year were standing next to our back hatch waiting to unload and carry all of K's luggage and things. Everything was so organized - the whole check-in process for 200 high school kids and their parents and all the luggage and supplies needed for their over 2 week stay. And impressive - everyone greeted K (and us) with smiles and introductions, making her feel instantly welcome and included.

After getting checked in and photo id pictures taken, we were led up to the alto dorm. It is a barracks style dorm that sleeps 50 girls along with the alto staff member and a CIT (counselor in training). Two long rows of bunks, footlockers, girls, parents, siblings - all trying to get beds made and stuff stored and organized. K's mentor A found us at K's bunk and introduced herself and showed us the lay of the land - bathroom (with communal showers), water fountain (to fill their water bottles each day), cafeteria (for their 3 meals each day), and rehearsal areas. The whole time A was introducing K to other choir members.

At 7pm the entire choir was organized by voice part on the risers and the parents got their first look at the 2009 AOSFYC. They got out a piece of music, the director introduced himself and then they started singing. It was beautiful - 200 of the best high school singers in Ohio! I can't wait to hear them after they've been rehearsing together for a week!

It was hard to say goodbye to her after the concert knowing she won't be home till the last day of the fair, but she was anxious to get to her dorm meeting and the ice-breaker activities.

They are working hard, learning their songs and harmonizing, learning where things are around the fairgrounds before it opens to the public, learning to march, etc. And if you know K, the hardest part is that she can't have her cellphone except during free time! They are having a lot of fun too - they had a pizza party and a dance the other night, they learned how to salsa dance too. The friendships they are forming and the memories they are making - this is such a great opportunity for K!

They have an extra performance scheduled for Monday, July 27th. They are taking the kids to the Ohio Statehouse for a tour, then they are singing on the West lawn of the statehouse at 11:30 - if you are downtown that day, you should check it out!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Brag Blog - Part B

So I thought my last post would sum up the end of the school year - Ha!

Since I wrote that last post...

K passed all sections (scoring Advanced or Accelerated) of the OGT, meaning she is eligible to graduate from high school now. She won't have to retake any sections of the test, she just has to put in the time and earn credit hours for the next 2 years. That's a good feeling!

D was selected for a P.R.I.D.E. Award. (People, Respect, Involvement, Dedication, Education). The teachers nominate students for this award. Her nomination said she was selected for this award because she is hard-working, has insightful ideas, is an outstanding writer, is a nice person and a good friend. It ended with, "You are sweet and scholarly...what more can I ask!" We are proud of our PRIDE student!

Still not done though...

One of D's artwork pieces that was part of the Celebration of the Arts last month was selected to be framed and displayed permanently at the school! Only 4 pieces were chosen this year!

And finally...

The letter arrived last week saying K was accepted into the All Ohio State Fair Youth Choir! Over 600 high school kids from all around the state applied and they selected 200 for the choir. K will spend 18 days living in a dorm at the fairgrounds and singing 4-6 concerts each day of the fair. If you're planning on going later this summer, you'll have to try to catch one of their concerts. They are an awesome choir, she's going to make lots of new friends, and most importantly it looks great on college applications!

Okay, I think I have come to the end...for now anyway!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Brag Blog

It's hard to believe that this school year is ending in just a few days. Almost seems like we are on fast-forward sometimes.

Time to pause and take a minute or two (and a deep breath or two) and brag about my girls. End of the school year brings concerts, banquets and ceremonies for the various activities the girls are involved in. Honors and awards came our way once again - but it never gets old, it only makes us prouder.

The various concerts the past two weeks were great - you could tell they had worked hard all year to put on these performances. D's band (she plays the trumpet) played at their Celebration of the Arts and she had 3 art pieces on display as well. K's choirs had a Kaleidoscope concert, a Spring Sing, and finally the Show Choir had a Cabaret with the group dancing and singing show tunes. She even sang a duet from Guys and Dolls (Sue Me) and a solo from Cinderella (In My Own Little Corner).

K was invited to the academic awards ceremony at her school and earned a letter for her school coat for her outstanding GPA. Her drama awards banquet yielded another certificate (their musical "Bye Bye Birdie" this Spring was fantastic!). Then at the VMAs (that's Vocal Music Awards - they even dressed for the "red carpet!") K was presented with a letter for her school coat for her involvement in the vocal music department. So two letters for her coat now, guess we better get it ordered! She is most proud of the letter she earned for music, though her daddy and I are pretty darn happy about the academic one.

Miss D has us busting with pride - she was inducted into National Junior Honor Society! She got the letter saying she was nominated, she wrote her required essay and waited to hear. She is not a patient wait-er either. The school called and told us she had made it, but asked us to keep it a secret from her until the ceremony. It was so hard to keep telling her "Maybe next year" everytime she'd ask if we heard anything yet. The day of the ceremony they kept us parents hiding in the hallway as the students' names were called. And to keep them guessing, they didn't announce them in alphabetical order - then put D as the very last one named! It was quite a moment - she was thrilled (and a bit worried that her signature was so shaky from her nerves when she signed the induction book)! They gave them a medal which she immediately hung prominently in her room when she got home that day.

Looking back at the year, I wish I could rewind and do it all again - it's been a great year!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Inci-dental Advances

The last visit to our dentist was in a small office in the basement of a medical building. We've been going to Dr. D for years, so when he had his own office built and it was still close by, I scheduled our appointments for our regular checkups at the new office. My girls and I were very surprised by the spa-like atmosphere when we walked into the new waiting area. Even more surprising was the big flat-screen tv on the wall - at the old office you were lucky to find a magazine from the current calendar year.

Beyond the waiting room, the exam rooms were equally surprising. The x-rays were all done on the computer - no more developing films. The hygienist even used a small pen-like camera to take a close-up picture of K's tooth that had a cavity so that Dr. D could get a good look at it blown up on the computer - very cool! A computer in each exam room had our dental records, x-rays, even the appointment calendar so the hygienist can schedule follow-up appointments right then and there.

Ah, but the best part was the tv on the ceiling above each exam chair, complete with remote control and headphones. I have heard about dental offices with these high-tech improvements, but never really thought my dentist would have them. I ended up having a root canal the following week - and I have to say that while it wasn't a fun experience, I really didn't mind it that much. Was it because I was distracted watching Law & Order: SVU? Was it that I couldn't hear the sounds of what they were doing because of the headphones? Did all the new technology make it hurt any less?

All I know is, the OB/GYN could definitely take a lesson from this!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Personal Choice

Recently I was faced with a decision that is very personal for women - I needed a new purse. The strap on mine broke beyond repair.

You probably think buying a new purse is a relatively simple task. You go to the store, find the accessory department - ah, purses, here they are, grab one and buy it. Done deal.

If that is what you think, let me just say that you are WRONG. It took me 4 separate shopping trips to find my new purse. You can't just pick up any old handbag. There are a lot of choices and decisions that go into finding THE purse. Some women go the designer route, but I can't justify spending more money on the purse than I'll actually carry in it. Plus if you spend less, you can get a new one more often.

Last year I had a great purse that was exactly what I wanted. And with all the thousands of purses out there, amazingly my sister showed up with the identical purse in a different color. I guess we think a lot alike!

The first requirement for me when buying a new purse is the strap/straps - I can take a single or a double strap, they just have to be long enough for me to carry the purse on my right shoulder. Some women like the shorter straps to just carry on your arm - much like my grandmother carried her pocketbook. Or of course you could choose a clutch and not have a strap at all. Then there is the backpack style - very popular with the teens and tweens. I even came across some that had the shorter double strap with a detachable longer strap - attempting to meet the needs of everyone.

Regardless of what you've heard, size IS important - I don't understand the point of a small purse except for an evening bag. My daughter K likes a really BIG purse - she even carries her school stuff in it. Somewhere in the middle is best for me.

Another must for me is it HAS to zip closed. I've done the snaps, the drawstrings, tie closures and even the open top hobo bags - not secure enough for me. I've had my purse get dumped off the carseat from a sudden stop enough not to go that route again.

And I want pockets inside, at least a couple for my cellphone, sunglasses and other items I need to be able to find quickly.

Next consideration is what it is made of - cloth, leather, woven - lots of choices. Color plays a big role in the decision-making too. I wear a lot of black, so I usually get a black purse (though I do have a brown one I can carry in a pinch) so I don't have to switch it out to accessorize. But it's Spring and I've been carrying a black one for a while so I checked out other options too.

In the end, I found a black purse with white trim - making it acceptable for the season I think - and the stitching is tan so I can even wear brown with it.

And now you can sleep easier having the inside scoop on how I choose a new purse.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Finding My Voice

Today I woke up to find I had no voice. It seems like it happens every year, I get a cold that runs through various symptoms and eventually settles in my throat and I end up not being able to talk. My job requires me to take calls and provide answers - today I was able to squeak out a greeting and communicate, but I was very frustrated trying to make myself heard. You would probably ask: Why not take a sick day? And I would reassure you: I feel fine - very good actually, and we only get so many days each year - what if I really need this day later? So I went to work, did my job and helped others.

This voiceless day reinforces my new respect and appreciation for the Web 2.0 technologies. Much of my work interaction today took place through email. On the personal side, I was able to text my daughters and not worry about being heard. Twitter allowed me to converse with friends, colleagues and even my husband. And my Facebook provided me with the social interaction that would have had to wait till my voice came back.

My day with no voice may actually provide additional insight as I continue to encourage my office to engage in these new technologies. It definitely reinforces my motivation for staying current.

Whether I have anything to say or not, and despite not having a voice to say it, I have the means and connections to make myself heard.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

You Needed Us...

It was 16 years ago today that I first saw your face. Your entry into our lives was eventful to say the least. We loved you and took care of you. You needed us...for everything.

As you got older, you became mobile and started to communicate. We loved you and picked you up when you fell, and helped you learn words to express yourself. You needed us...for support.

Preschool started your formal education, learning your colors, ABC's, counting and socialization. We loved you and showed you how to tie your shoes, taught you right from wrong, and what you needed to know to be a good person. You needed us...for knowledge.

Different activities provided various learning experiences. Sports provided coordination, competition and lessons in sportsmanship. Girl Scouts helped develop your self-esteem and offered new insight and friendships. Daddy as your coach, and I as your leader, we loved you and helped you find your interests and become more independent. You needed us...for guidance.

You stretched your wings and your voice - choir and drama provided you with an outlet for expressing yourself. We applauded you and became your biggest fans. You needed us...sometimes.

For 16 years - every step, each word, your performances, activities and interests - we were there for you. You needed us. And do you know what? Just because you're 16 now, nothing really changes. We are here for you, no matter what you do, no matter how old you are, everything you try - we'll be there cheering you on. You may not always need us...but we're here whenever you do.

Happy Birthday K! We love you!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Snow Days

Now that I have all of our photos scanned in and stored electronically, I'm able to easily look back at memorable times and events. We had a big snowstorm last week, and another is predicted this week as well. So I thought I'd share some of our snow pictures through the years.

K is our snow shoveler now. She earns extra spending money by clearing the driveway and sidewalks anytime we get a significant snow. We started her early - these pictures are from 1995 when she was almost 2 years old.

She really does not like the cold though, even now that she's older.

For D, her first big snowfall was just after Christmas in 1998. She was 2 1/2 years old. She never even made it outside - just getting her ready to head out to play sent her into hysterics. (I know, what kind of parent am I that I took a picture of this "memorable" event?) But K had fun outside without her.

The snow stayed around till after the first of the year. We still didn't manage to get D out to experience it, so I played with K and built a pretty awesome snowfort (if I do say so myself!).

Between Christmas and New Years 1999, we had a big snowfall - and D finally took part in the fun, even making a great snow angel.

February of 2000 brought a big snow and the girls made a cool snowman - complete with a carrot nose and actual coal for the eyes and mouth. And they had a great time making a big fort (with some help from Daddy).

These are pictures from 2003, February again. (Yikes, lots of February snowstorms and today is just February 1st!) A lot of snow meant a lot of shoveling, and a trip to the sledding hill.

Daddy took D down the hill - once. That's it, she didn't go down again. Of course, who am I to talk? I didn't even make it all the way down - I fell off the sled, grabbed it and walked the few feet back to the top and that was it for me too.

K and Daddy went down the hill on every kind of sled we had, and were exhausted when it was time to head home.

Another snowman picture, taken just after Christmas in 2004. K and D both worked on this guy, K just got sick of the cold, so D and "Snowy" make a happy couple.

These days as the girls are getting older, they limit their snow activities. When the snow starts falling, K's only concern is for the money she'll make from shoveling, and D hopes for a snow day so she doesn't have to make her way through the snow-covered sidewalks to her bus stop. Then they take Mulligan, our dog, out in the backyard and throw the ball for him, chase him, and throw a couple of snowballs at each other. Mulligan loves the snow - he leaps and tries to bite the flakes as they fall from the sky, he runs around and rolls in it until his long fur gets full of snow and he can hardly walk from the weight of it. But he's in the minority in the family - the rest of us are ready for Spring.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Join the Club

In an effort to save on groceries by buying in bulk and stocking up, last year we went to the local big box club store on one of their free trial days. We saw enough products that we thought we’d use that we went ahead and joined. We’ve found that we should have done it years ago – especially the years I was doing home daycare. It comes in handy now for all of our regular staples – we get our syrup, ketchup, snacks, dog food and bottled water, just to name a few. (Not sure we REALLY needed the gallon jar of dill pickles sitting on the shelf in the pantry, but SOMEONE ;) just had to have them.)

Recently we tried the jumbo can of sausage gravy – half a can will feed all of us, and we freeze the other half. It heats up in no time. Pop open a can of biscuits and by the time they’re baked, we have a quick, easy, tasty dinner.

We’ve gotten some good deals on their non-food items also – a flashdrive for data storage, my Tommy Hilfiger flipflops last summer, golf umbrellas – all at great prices.

When we went this weekend (you have to go on the weekends for all the free samples – you can eat lunch while you shop!) they made an announcement over the loudspeaker offering free $5 paring knives. We were standing next to the knife demo stand as they made the announcement, so we thought, “we're here, they're free, why not?” We can always use another paring knife. There was quite a crowd listening to the demo, and when it was all over we walked away the proud owners of a whole new set of knives. Still not sure if: a. we’re just a couple of suckers, b. the guy had a great spiel and was a good salesman, c. our knives suck THAT bad that we were willing to try anything, d. all of the above. For $40 we got 3 large “utility” (i.e. Ginsu) knives, 7 paring knives, a filet knife, 3 juicers, and a food chopper - and they’re all guaranteed for life.

So if anyone needs to cut through a tin can, saw through the head of a steel hammer, or cut a chunk out of a piece of wood, then peel the skin off a tomato and slice through a sheet of paper – we’ve got the knife for it!

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Urge to Purge

I haven’t posted anything in a while, but it’s not because I’ve been slacking off. I’ve been working on my home “office.” Notice I didn’t say IN my home office. You couldn’t really work IN it. My office is supposed to be my sewing, craft, painting, project room. But it had become the dumping ground for all those things no one in the family knew what to do with - extra shoelaces, old school papers, friends’ birth announcements, buttons, the flotsam and jetsam of our daily lives. Common type of questions: What do I do with my letters from my pen pal from camp? What about this sock with no match? This Christmas ornament has a piece that broke off, what should I do with it? Where should I put this flower girl dress I wore in 1999? The answer was the same for all of the above: Put it in my office.

There was no way any work could be done in my office – every flat surface became piled with “stuff.” (I use the term “stuff” but it is interchangeable with “sh*t.”) It had gotten to the point that there was even “stuff” piled on the floor. Although there was a path through the “stuff” to the ironing board, ironing was the only productive thing that could be accomplished in there.

I spent the last week completely re-organizing, re-arranging and purging things in my office. And I mean purging - I was pretty ruthless. I gave a bag of clothes to a co-worker for her daughter, 2 bags of "stuff" to charity, and I have a large bin full of other "stuff" to list on ebay. I threw away so much “stuff” that I completely filled our 90 gallon trashcan (I have no idea where our normal garbage will go till trash day on Friday). I had so many unfinished projects that I always thought I’d finish one day and I threw most of them away. I’ve come to the realization that just because I start a project, it doesn’t mean I have to finish it. Various granny squares I crocheted with scrap yarn, small pieces of terry cloth leftover from making hooded baby towels for gifts over the years, old film canisters, and miscellaneous odds and ends that I thought I might need for crafting with the kids (from the home daycare years and two scout troops over the course of the past 10+ years). As I got rid of these never finished projects, I actually got rid of sooo much stress. I never realized how much pressure I felt having those pending items hanging over my head. Now that they’re gone, I have an amazing sense of relief.

The result: an actual office. There is room to move and work. My desk has space for my sewing machine. I enjoy making doll clothes, and the rack for the completed dresses to sell is right by the window. The floor is so open and clear that I was able to layout the fabric and pin patterns to cut out two bridesmaid dresses for my nieces last night. I have a small desk set up just for painting with my brushes and paints set out close at hand. I am a painter at heart. Not having my paint and supplies packed up and having them right out in the open may actually allow me to paint for the first time in over 12 years. Things are organized and stored – and most importantly, I can easily figure out where things are.

I’m not trying to become ultra-productive. But if I get inspired or someone sends me a cool craft idea, now I can easily act on that inspiration. Just walking into my office gives me a sense of satisfaction. Now, my only dilemma is: what do I want to work on next?