Thursday, January 24, 2008

Rest In Peace, Oreo

ZIONSVILLE, IN. – One Dalmation Molly was found dead in his tank this week, after the owner searched feverishly to find him. He was found in the corner, upside down with his tail pulled into the filter. He leaves behind no siblings or friends. He was the sole survivor of said tank for many months. We’re sure he was greeted with much fish love on “the other side” when he was flushed. “Heaven’s down there?” his owner questioned as Oreo swirled around the bowl. Oreo suffered from a lengthly illness, and was preceded in death by many friends and relatives that once shared his home in The Tank. He held on as long as he could through his sickness to give a family the joy of pet ownership.

Oreo was a good fish. A dedicated pet to those who loved him. Each morning, he would swim to the front of the tank in anticipation of his tasty TetraColor tropical crisp breakfast. You could see his fins sway with glee as he chased around his meal as it floated within the waters. Oreo spent much of his days gliding through the plants, resting in the rock cave and admiring his reflection. He could even be seen throwing caution to the wind at times, and playing in the fierce rolling bubbles that spew from his scuba diver tank-mate. He was crazy like that sometimes. He was a handsome fish who took pride in his sleek body covered with dabbles of black and white speckles. He will be remembered with a smile, and when Nabisco cookies are being dunked in milk at the table.

Cause of death is still not known, but the owners of this tank may be charged with overfeeding, overstocking and glass tapping in excess. Initial findings of problem scales and some furry stuff may be to blame. Investigations are still pending. Be on the lookout for the suspects at your local PetSmart attempting to replace their beloved swimmers again. They have assured us the tank has been properly cleaned, disinfected and ready for new pets. They’re confident that Oreo will be guiding them from beyond. Rest In Peace, Oreo. Your home looks so empty, but we'll fill it with more swimming love in a few days.

Funeral and burial services were held privately in The Bathroom Down The Hall for the family.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Self Check-Out Lanes....

Yeah. "Self Check-out" was exactly what I felt like doing while waiting in line at the store today. Torture. Pure torture. How annoying!

So, have you ever been brave enough to use the 12-items-or-less self checkout lanes at the grocery or other Big Box store? Let me take a moment to splash some Holy Water on you first, because the thoughts that will run through your mind as you are trying to proceed through the one million steps you have to go through for your 12 items or less, are enough to send you straight to hell!

Let me set it up for you. But first, let me tell you that this is not the first time we have used these self-checkout lanes in a store. Why do we keep doing it if it's annoying enough to blog about? Well, because it seems like a really good idea when you see the long lines at the other check-outs, and you only have a few items of course - that's why! And just like giving birth, the mind has a way of blocking out all the pain and agony of the process once it's over, so that you can be tricked into doing it again. I'm digressing....

Ok, so here we are at Big Box Superstore (Meijer) getting our 12-items or less (a couple of Matchbox cars for the boy to make up for leaving the bowling alley because there was a 1.5 hour wait!). Yes well, you've got to know that it's in my genes that I can not walk into a Big Box Superstore and only get the item I intended to buy. Not when this store has a grocery AND department store within it. So what started out in the toy aisle with such enthusiasm for our purchase, detoured us to the grocery section where I figured I'd get a few things while we were there. Of course, the pet section is located smack in the middle of the two so we have to navigate through the cries of "I want a hamster!", "Look! More fish for my tank!", "Can we get a bird?"... ugh...

Now that the groceries have been picked up, the husband is annoyed because the wife keeps thinking of other things to grab (since we're here and all), the kids begin to pick up on the sense that this is not going as planned. Child A begins to get himself in trouble and threats of putting the cars back on the shelf start to sputter from the mouths of the grumpy adults. Child B decides that now is a good time to need a clean diaper. No, it can't wait. Trust me. Scissor, paper, rock and I'm the lucky loser.

Now that we've managed to break a sweat from the combination of wool coats still being worn throughout the store, and the spiking blood pressure from feeling like we've just entered the Twilight Zone but we only wanted a Matchbox car, we were ready to check out. Cool - no waiting at the 12-items-or-less check-yourself-into-the-loony-bin-when-you're-through line. Let's go there! Now comes the fun part....

It begins with a sampling of "I want to do it! I want to do it!" from Child A, who sees no harm in scanning his Matchbox cars himself. And really, it is a no-brainer, so why not? "Beep" as the first one scans. "Beep" as the second one scans. "Please put your items in the bag" the machine chirps at us. Child A argues with the machine that he wants to hold his cars, NOT put them in a bag. The light on the register begins to blink, which now signals Man-With-Red-Vest to shuffle over to see what the problem is. We get everything under control and Man-With-Red-Vest leaves to go help the next sorry soul at another 12-items-or-less-self-checkout lane. So, the scanning continues as each item has it's own bar code issue. "Beep, please scan the next item" - we did, and placed the item in the bag. Angry machine does not approve. "Beep, please put your item in the bag". IT IS IN THE STUPID BAG!!!!! "Beep, please see attendant for assistance". Here comes Mr. Happy Vest again. Oh, and how convenient, his trusty card swiper doesn't want to register in the machine we're using to override the incessant beeping. He throws in some joke about the computer crashing again because it uses Windows (whatever!) and tells us to use another lane. How could this death be ANY slower?

By now, Child A has met his threshold of being patient and wanting to open the cars and get the heck out of there. Child B has met her threshold of no nap yet and still being strapped into the grocery cart. Adult #1 has the patience of a Saint with an occasional eyeroll (ahem, I am not Adult #1 in this story. Ever, really.) Adult #2 is in need of an absorbent towel to collect the beads of perspiration forming on her brow and upper lip. While we're waiting, the thought crosses my mind that I could always run over to the beauty aisle and replenish my deodorant for the remainder of this wait in this line. Or maybe a trip to the beverage aisle and get something that would go perfectly with an olive garnish to calm my nerves. And a straw so that I can get it in really fast to stop the pain!!

After about 20 minutes, more help from the Man-With-Red-Vest, and two kids now resembling a scene from The Exorcist, we were on our way. What is the point of those check-out lanes if you need assistance through your entire experience? Waiting at the bowling alley for an hour and a half until getting a lane might have been a lot easier than trying to leave this store. I dare you all to use one of those check-out lanes the next time you are at a store that has them. You must have 11 items, not just one - that would be way too easy.

You can even borrow the kids any time you want so that you can have the full effect.....

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Pinewood Derby

Today was the big Pinewood Derby races for the Cubscouts. Carter is in his first year of scouting, and his Den is called Tiger Cubs. Last night, we brought his completed car to the track for weigh-in and inspection. Once it was given the "ok", he was allowed to do 2 practice runs then he had to turn the car into their hands until today. It was pretty exciting!

I have to say, there are some pretty serious Derby goers in terms of car styles and designs on how to make the perfect, fastest car. We were given a stack of papers from our cousin on how to build "the winner". I have to admit, it was so involved and Tom and I could hardly understand any of the instructions. We thought that would take us all three weeks to do the car with those instructions. It's supposed to be the kids doing them anyway, and there's no way he would have been able to follow the directions and suggestions. Besides, you must know that Tom now has a new list of tools he needs to add to his empty tool box. So we tucked those winning instructions away with the car kit until the day got closer.

Guess what. The day sure did get closer. And closer. And at about 48 hours before we had to turn the car in, we remembered that we still had not as much as broken the seal on the box the kit was in. So there we began, on Wednesday, coming up with an idea with Carter on how he wanted his car to look. We scribbled some rough aerodynamic sketch onto scrap paper, traced it onto the block of wood, and then realized that we did not have the proper tools to even cut this shape out. So, over to Grandpa's house where all the tools are, the two of them went to cut out the corvette shape. When he got home, he started to work on the car.... sanding it down and then he got to paint it quickly before bed. The next morning, he colored on the windows. After school he sprayed some sparkles on it. After dinner he decorated it and added weights to the bottom. I suggested most of the weight should go near the front, and it proved a good move. We were done - with time to spare, and a hair under the 5 ounce maximum weight allowed. I always say if it wasn't for the last minute, then nothing would get done, right?

So, here are some pictures to tell the story of our first experience with this annual event. You can click on any picture to enlarge it! Enjoy...

Here's the shape Carter wanted - he chose a "Corvette" like his Grampy has.

Next he sanded his car with 2 different grades of sandpaper (that's about as 'handy' as we got!)
Next, he wanted to paint his car blue like Grampy's 'vette. We eventually spray painted some silver sparkle all over it too.
Here he is drawing on his windshield and other windows with a black Sharpie marker.
Putting on the final touches to his USA themed car - some American flags etc.
And here is the final product! We took a picture of it on the scale showing how much the car weighed in the end. We could not go over 5 ounces. Pretty close, huh!
Here is a look at the track set up...
Here is Carter's car after inspection and check-in... his is on the bottom far right.
Here is the start of the race - his car is number 201, first car on the screen.
Can you see what the screen says now? He got the TRACK RECORD!
Check out the winner's circle! 1st-4th place winners for Tigers....
And the FIRST PLACE trophy goes to Carter!! Wooo hoooo!
To say he was excited is an absolute understatement! It was so cute to see him after each heat yell "my car was first, my car was first!" and jump up and look for us in the crowd. He was pretty proud, and so were we. We'll have to come up with our own secret instructions to hand out now..... This car will be put in a place of honor for a long time. Hooray!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Carter!

Today Carter sprung out of bed at 6:30 am to declare he was no longer SIX! Turning 7 is pretty important!

He came downstairs to find a couple of presents - a new bicycle and a basketball!

We had his birthday party last weekend at a store called Ridemakerz. This place is similar to Build-a-Bear, but instead of stuffed animals, the kids built their own street cars! It was a lot of fun!

Here are the boys building their cars...

Here are the boys showing of their finished cars...

Gathered around to open gifts...

I wrote a letter for Carter to put in his memory book. You can click the image to read it.

Tonight, we have the start of Pinewood Derby in Cubscouts. Tomorrow is the big Derby Race, and he's super excited about that. I have some pictures I'll post this weekend of him making his car. Sunday, we'll be celebrating his birthday with a family dinner here - he chose spaghetti with Grandma's special meat sauce as his birthday dinner!! Yes, this is the child who only used to have about 5 things he'd eat without gagging - turning 7 really IS a big deal! We've come SO far.... :)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Thank goodness it's Monday...

The Dancing Banana. You may have seen it a hundred times. It's an animation that sums up pretty much every excited emotion you have, with just one little yellow banana showin' off it's moves. It's moves evoke feelings of "Yeah! Woo-Hoo! Excellent! Yahoo! Yippee!" etc.... I had to add it here for today's post.

It’s supposed to be a wacky 65 degrees out, and the return to school today for the kids… those highlights are reasons enough to have had Mimosas at the bus stop this morning!

I have to say too, that I’m beginning my thoughts about this post right now at 9:15 am (probably won’t complete my post until later though….) and Olivia is STILL sleeping. She must be celebrating the weather and school resuming too. Tom called to ask how the first “morning back” went and if I’m enjoying the morning to myself. All I could do was let out a big huge sigh as if I was sinking down into a plush leather chair, “ahhhh” – silence. I got the 1st grader out the door, made a cup of hot tea for myself, ate some toast, read the newspaper, listened to a bit of Live with Regis and Kelly on the TV in the background, started a load of towels into the laundry and checked my email. All before 9:15 am. Bliss!

This routine is not out of the ordinary, it’s just that I have not done it consistently since December 19th. Do you know why I know exactly what date threw me off of my regularly scheduled program of life? It’s because my husband’s last day of work before his planned “Winter Break” began. Yep, that’s right, 13 consecutive days. At home. Together. This would not have been such a challenging feat if we were, say, in Hawaii or on another adventurous vacation away from home. But we weren’t. We were home, waiting for the holidays, prying our kids from the ceiling from excitement about Christmas, trying to coexist among the chaos of the season and throwing a wrench into my daily Domestic Duties as a homemaker. Ugg! Carter was on his Winter Break for 15 days too. Need I say more about that?

While one of us was excited to have some much needed time away from the daily grind of a career, the other was bracing themselves for the sort of Year End double-duty work load that most companies endure. Only, I didn’t have to turn in my final projects for the year and get a break – I was just beginning them. That’s how it goes. Of course, it was nice to have that second pair of hands around for running quick errands kid-free, tag teaming baths for the kids, and general helping out when needed. I’m sure there were a few times he would have loved a bubble bath to sink into and not come out until he resembled a prune. “Vacation” is a term he would use loosely when talking about his time off, I’m sure.

Having the kids home for a 15 day break is certainly no comparison to Summer break from school. But there are extreme differences in the two. During Winter break, the kids are on an emotional high (or low) from all of the excitement surrounding the holidays and traditions. While parents are trying hard to keep it stress free and low key (impossible!), they’re getting wound up tighter than a spool of thread. Another challenge is the weather over winter break. Sure, snow is fun. For about a minute. Then they cannot ride their bikes or scooters, or play on the swing set until said white stuff is melted. Friends are off having visits with relatives and the Christmas presents are has-beens by day 3. All the while, every entertainment spot is filled with aggravated parents and crazy kids trying to pack in their days and unwind at the Children’s Museum, Chuck E. Cheese, movies etc. Sure, Summer has it’s “I’m bored” moments too, but there is much more to do and enjoy when the weather is nice. Like tell the kids to go out and play, lock the doors and make them use their imaginations – without having to worry about frostbite.

You see – this is all why it would have been nice to toast with the moms at the bus stop this morning while sipping Mimosas and eating scones. But I didn’t have orange juice or even own a recipe for scones. I know I’m not alone in my celebration. It’s been a long two weeks. I’m happy to have the house back to its normal disarray, my regularly scheduled Domestic Duties in place (even if I have already swept up crumbs from the kitchen floor twice before 9:30 am and have sung Twinkle Twinkle 20 times), it feels much better in THIS skin. I’m a creature of habit; I like things to run like a well oiled machine. I don’t particularly like wrenches thrown into things (like school staff needing a break for 2 weeks and making our kids have to be home with us – how dare they!) I much rather have a reason to miss my kids. For instance, as soon as the bus left I felt a little heavy hearted, yet excited to see him when he returns from school today. It’s bittersweet sometimes isn’t it.... Got a good scone recipe anyone?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Birthday hangover....

Round One of birthdays has been checked off the list. Gearing up for Round Two (Carter) next weekend for his "friends party". Haven't decided on the family gathering yet - but will probably be the 20th if everyone's available. We've got the heavily anticipated "Pinewood Derby" contest for cubscouts coming up on his bday weekend the 18th-19th so we couldn't plan too much during that since it's pretty involved. Oh, and the NFL playoffs.... minor details. It will all work out.

In case you didn't get a chance to see the previous posting on her actual birthday, click here.

In the meantime, here are some pictures of the Birthday Girl enjoying a sugar high.

Time lapse of tasting her first bit of frosting......

Hey, this is good stuff....

Don't want to waste any frosting you know....

Kisses anyone?

Using sign language to tell us "More" (she did this after every bite, so cute!)

Ta Da! All done....

2 Grandads admiring...

Getting "help" opening gifts...

Precious giving Daddy kisses...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

One Year!

Happy 1st Birthday Olivia!

Here's a letter I wrote for Olivia's baby book to remember her first birthday. You can click on the image to read it.... I've also made a video montage to music celebrating her first year ...

Here's the video set to music!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

glitter graphics

Wow - another year! Remember when it was going to turn "2000" and how strange that was going to sound rolling off of our tongues? Eight years later... time sure flies.

2007 was a pretty good year, despite losing my beloved grandmother in March. Some of my favorite highlights of the year started off with the birth of our daughter on January 3rd, the Colts won the Superbowl, we had a terrific 10-day family vacation in Florida at the start of summer, my girlfriend's little boy finished his 2 yrs of cancer treatment, and my son started school full-time into the first grade last Fall!

I'm not even going to kid myself into making any New Year's Resolutions! Thankfully, I'm pretty happy in my life and there's not too much I want or need to do differently! Too much is they key word - there are always things that could be improved upon so I'll quietly work on those and maybe even update the progress - or lack thereof...

Have a terrific 2008 - I'm looking forward to the seasons changing into some warmer weather. Can you believe I just said that? Me, wanting the warm weather? Well, it's a long winter after the holidays come and go, so yearning for the warmer weather to get here isn't that crazy. Especially when I glance at my outdoor digital reading and it says a mere 8 degrees. And it's snowing. Cocoa anyone?