Monday, November 30, 2009

Machu Picchu Restaurant

Christy and I went out to lunch today. We had intended to visit a new-to-us Mexican place but when we got there it looked a little..... uncertain. So we went across the street to a place that Christy had heard of and was eager to try. Machu Picchu- Peruvian fare. I've never had Peruvian food and was excited to try something new. Christy had actually travelled to Peru many years ago so lunch was a great time for her to recount her adventures there. It's a simple looking place, in a strip mall. It's in a part of town that has been struggling with this economy. The interior is nicely done- very welcoming. Clean, well kept and cared for, and nice touches of Peruvian art and such.
We start looking over the menu and, honestly, it's overwhelming because we aren't familiar with the food. Thankfully, our server (who may have been the owner) was very knowledgeable and offered suggestions. He came to the table with a basket of sliced bread (looked basically like french bread) and a small bowl of a dip for that bread. It was a pale green and was very much mayonnaise based but spicy. First, we tried a drink that they make in the restaurant by hand. It's called Chica Morada (purple corn). From the wiki page: Chicha morada is not fermented. It is usually made of ears of purple maize (choclo morado) which are boiled with pineapple rind, cinnamon, and clove. This gives a strong purple-colored liquid which is then mixed with sugar and lemon. It. was. heaven. We both agreed that our next trip would include a pitcher of this beverage instead of a single glass for each of us.
As an appetizer, we had the Papa Rellena. It's stuffed mashed potatoes that are deep fried. Sounds bizarre. But man oh man... so so good!! This recipe was very close to what we enjoyed except that the egg in ours was a hard boiled egg. I tried to snag a picture but... we were enjoying the food so much that I just didn't even think about taking a picture until we had consumed the Papa Rellena. We did still have the salad- but I couldn't stop eating it. Lettuce, tomato, red onion in a very lime based dressing. Lime, vinegar, cilantro maybe? Either way- divine. At one point, I think I had a food-gasm with one of those salad bites. For reals.
And taking the suggestion of our waiter, we ordered the Bisteck a lo Pobre. Thankfully, we had opted to share it. This was a HUGE plate of food! Our waiter told us that a lot of men come in and get an appetizer and this meal and a dessert and eat every bite! I'll tell you now- we couldn't finish it. Steak, 2 eggs, sliced tomatoes, white rice, white beans, french fries, and plaintain.
At this point, we were both insanely full. Each bite was delicious. I can't complain about a single thing from our meal. It was a little pricey... but when the food and atmosphere are exactly right, the price tag should match.
Christy and I will definitely be heading back. Next time, we plan to have a pitcher of the chicha, an order of the papa rellena, and then go right to dessert- Crema Volteada (Peruvian style custard carmel) or Budin de Pan (bread pudding).
Machu Picchu Restaurant is located on W 38th St near Moller Rd.
5356 W 38th St
Indianapolis, IN 46254
(317) 388-8696


It’s the faces at holidays that are the important memories.

Thursday we traveled to Cincinnati. Jeff’s closest friend, Brian (Uncle Briney), came along- as is tradition. I didn’t take enough pictures. I was busy most of the day- helping in the kitchen, chasing kids, visiting with family.

Friday I prepared my home for our Christmas tree. I cleaned the living room. I moved furniture. I cleaned the kitchen. Took the kids to see Christmas lights around town.

Saturday we enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal with Jeff’s family- his parents, his sister and her kids.

Sunday was church and singing with music team for 2 services. Jeff wanted his own Thanksgiving feast- so I bought a turkey breast on Saturday and made him his meal. I did the turkey in the crock pot- 1 stick of butter and some onion soup mix. Very yummy! He also asked for corn, green beans, mashed potatoes, and stove top. I threw in some rolls for Teagan and Zach. Then we dragged out the tree and ornaments and decorations (more on that tomorrow). Got the kids into their pj’s and went out to see lights again!

When I went and uploaded my pics, I realized that I took a lot more faces this year. I took far fewer pics than I normally do- my camera just kept getting away from me. But it was the faces that stole the show this year!

Jeff’s sister’s kids… 8 years old… beautiful faces! Corbin and his sister, Jillian.tgiv10 tgiv8

Zach, showing off his jumping skills.tgiv5

Teagan and Zach, having stolen a moment to pet the cat at Mimi and PopPop’s.tgiv3

My mom. I love this picture. This captures the real her. Sometimes, this side easily gets lost in the hustle and bustle. She’s my mom, she’s a grandma to my kids, and she has a son in college and a son in high school. So these big, full of life smiles can sometimes get a little lost… but boy do they radiate joy and light up the room!!tgiv1

What faces were part of your celebrations?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mom Always Liked You Best!

Jeff went out this evening and came back with a real treat for me.

The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Best of Season 3

My mom is responsible for my introduction to The Smothers Brothers. And I'm betting it's a big part of why I lean politically the way I do. See Mom? All your fault. I'm sure that she was really thinking that I was into the folk music (I was) and silly humor (I was). But when I learned about the show, the issues that the Brothers faced with CBS, the political statements they made and stood behind... I was a fan!

So Jeff came home with this set of the best episodes of Season 3. And we are sitting down and watching it right now. These men were simply brilliant. I want them back on the air now. I wish they'd been doing their thing the 8 years of Bush. I bet they'd have had a heyday with Clinton. They poke a real, hard finger at issues that need poking but do it with a sense of humor and light heartedness that leaves you really open to really hearing it when they nail home a point.

Anyone else a fan of The Smothers Brothers?

Traditions- Do or Die

I've always envied the families that have well entrenched family traditions and I've rather lamented the lack of my own family traditions. I have fond memories of holidays- but the memories are few and far between, unfortunately. Since my mom reads my blog- here's my personal request for a Christmas gift... a journal of holiday memories from my childhood. I would love to know how we handled Thanksgiving when I was growing up. most of my memories of Thanksgiving and Christmas start later in my childhood. Creating traditions for our own family is very important to me. I feel like traditions help to root us into our families. Traditions provide a firm foundation for our children to build on when they begin their own families. Some traditions come about just by happenstance. Some by necessity. Some by design. For me, Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season. And I like for this long weekend to be chock full of traditions. First, we drive to Ohio to spend Thanksgiving day with my family. My mom, dad, brothers, my aunt and uncle, my cousin. Friday- prepare the house for the setting up of the Christmas Tree and decorations. That evening, take a ride over to Reynolds (John Deere retailer that sets up a HUGE light display every year- totally free for the community) and drive through the light display. Saturday- Thanksgiving with Jeff's family. His parents, his sister, her husband, their 2 kids. Sunday- Setting up the tree. We invite Christy and Brian over, I make dinner, we set up and decorate the tree. So far... this year... well... We went to Ohio for the day on Thursday and saw everyone and had a nice time. I made cranberry sauce, turtle pumpkin pie, and provided a variety of appetizers. Mom made turkey and roasted carrots and potatoes. She and Teagan made scalloped potatoes together. There were rolls and gravy. We celebrated my cousin Ryan's achievement- he recently passed the bar and is now, officially, an attorney. We caught up with my Aunt Martha and Uncle Jesse. We joked around with Daniel and Ted. Jeff and Brian talked comics. The kids ran around like crazy people. It was a good day. Friday, I busted my hump cleaning up my house. I made my living room livable. I rearranged furniture and cleaned out dusty corners and made space for the Christmas tree. I cleaned the kitchen and cleared out a boatload of junk that had taken over the kitchen floor. I made dinner and we loaded into the car to get ice cream and then go see the light display at Reynold's. So what do you do when grumpiness interferes with tradition? How do you handle a Scrooge or Grinch? Especially if it's an adult? With kids, even if I don't always make the best choice on dealing with them, at least I know what needs to happen and I have strategies on how to deal with them. But when it's an adult... Fake it? Force it? Exclude them? Fight to the death? Change plans in order to avoid conflict? What do you do? You, my readers. What do you do when there is an adult in your presence that is making it difficult for the entire group to enjoy what is going on? What do you do if you realize that YOU are the one making life difficult for the rest? How important are the traditions when they don't seem to be important to everyone involved?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Not-Black Friday Fragments

I don't do Black Friday. But I most certainly do Friday Fragments!! Click the button to go visit Mrs4444 and the other Fragmenters- and hey, for kicks, join in the fun!!
If you were one who celebrated the holiday, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I'm typing this up on Weds but I"m pretty certain my Thanksgiving was a good one!
I thought getting a new office was exciting... but look at my new addition!! It's about time!! Anyone who has seen previously posted pics of my office had great fun about my old school monstrosity... and now I'm sleek and new! Whoohoo!
*** Went down and peeked through the window into our old area... demolition is in full swing. That pile of insulation? That was my office! This used to be Christy's office, a conference room, and you can see our old kitchen area- the counters are still sitting there.
I think that anytime someone starts a new job or moves into a new area in the company, someone should secretly give them a handbook of all the unspoken, unwritten rules. "Susie is a real bear until her 2nd cup of coffee kicks in. Just avoid the area within a 500 ft radius of her workspace, and you'll be fine!" "The fridge by the front door is only used by Joe, Mo, and Flo. You can put your stuff in there, but that action will result in cold shoulders and evil glares for at least 6 months!"
The other night, I got down on the floor in front of Teagan, held her hands, looked her in the eyes and said, "Teapot, I want you to know how proud I am of you! You have been making a big effort to make good choices at school and at home the past week. Because of your good choices, the yellow room has been happier, home has been happier. Thank you for being a happy Teagan and being such an important part of our happy family." She didn't know what to do with that- who would, right? She gave me a grin that I will never forget and that I hope to see often and threw herself into my arms. Best hug ever.
For Thanksgiving, I made my cranberry sauce. Our family Thanksgivings never included cranberry sauce. Once I was no longer living at home, I wanted to participate in the family meal. I opted to bring cranberry sauce to our table. My recipe is easy and super duper tasty. It is now demanded at any big family meal- and my brother, Ted, loves it so much that he asks me to make a batch just for him to take back to college! I like having a "signature" item. I'm also do some appetizers- dips, crackers. And a pie- Turtle Pumpkin Pie.
I want a new mattress. Ours is 20 years old and held together by the various toppers and thick mattress pads that we've continued to pile on to make it bearable. There is almost no structure left to the mattress OR the toppers anymore. I hate to part with a chunk of money but I think we will soon be at a point where we have no choice.
I hope you are enjoying your Friday! We are hunkered down, avoiding the crazy shoppers, hanging out in our pj's today... chillaxin'!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Thanksgiving Feast

Teagan’s preschool hosted a Thanksgiving Feast on Tuesday. The kids did the cooking- vegetable stew, cornbread, pumpkin pie, lemonade. Parents came and enjoyed lunch with their kids. Some grandparents were there. The kids had made placemats, centerpieces, and turkey hats. We were greeted with a little poem the kids all recited about turkeys- I hardly caught the words because I was just so excited that Teagan was actually saying the words and smiling.

We got our food and sat down at the tiny little table in the tiny little chairs. We ate our stew- potatoes, carrots, celery, tomato, corn. We ate our cornbread. We had a slice of pie. We talked to Teagan about what she had done to help prepare the meal- she cut up veggies (carrots and celery, she reported).

She didn’t want to eat the veggies, only the cornbread. I found it quite humorous that she didn’t like my answer to her request for more cornbread- that she needed to eat some of the veggies she had prepared first. Just a couple of bites. So she announced that she was going to ask Ms. Lynna. And she got the same answer from Ms. Lynna! She settled for handing out pumpkin pie… even attempted to have a parent sneak her a piece. Ha! She was quite cunning!

It was a most adorable lunch break. I have lovely souvenirs that we will treasure forever. Memories we will cherish. I just love this school!!

The crafts- a turkey hat, a turkey centerpiece, a handprint turkey placemat.


The placemat had a lovely poem, a lovely handprint, my girl’s lovely handwriting.


My beautiful girl, wearing her lovely turkey hat, enjoying her cornbread.


And I couldn’t help myself- when I got back to work, I just had to try on that turkey hat for myself. Whatdya think?? Is it just so me??


For my US readers, I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend and that you realize the many blessings that surround you, even on your lowest day. For my non-US readers, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wish you many moments of gratitude!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

WWW: Forgiveness


This is a big topic and I hope I can do it justice.

Forgiveness is such an important value and theme in my life. Over the course of the past few months, it has come up again and again. A sermon at church, fellow bloggers, even Oprah.

Forgiveness became very important in my life early on. We certainly strive to teach our children to forgive a friend when feelings have been hurt, to seek forgiveness when they have caused harm. Friends and family say or do things that hurt us and we choose to forgive. Forgiveness, in some ways, can be a daily action!

But what about the Big Hurts? I’m a survivor of a very Big Hurt. I’m a survivor of some pretty crappy stuff in my childhood. Many years ago, I knew I had to forgive my abuser or else I would never move forward. I would be stuck in a place of hate and anger and resentment if I didn’t let it go through forgiveness. I forgave myself, my family, my teachers, and eventually- my abuser.

But what exactly does forgiveness mean? Are there different stages and types of forgiveness? Do you forgive for the other person or for yourself? Or both? Is forgiveness necessary to really heal from serious wrongs?

I was watching an episode of Oprah recently. She had a family on… 2 teens whose parents had been murdered by their uncle. The story was tragic on so many levels. But there was something about this young woman… the daughter… she was 6, I think, when the murder happened. She stepped over the body of her murdered aunt to rescue her little brother who was hiding under the covers of his parents bed as the shooting happened around him. She and her brother were raised by their maternal grandmother. She and her grandma spoke of forgiveness. And here’s the part that I found most amazing… this woman who lost her daughter, these young people whose parents were taken from them so brutally… were fighting for the murderer to not be executed.

From Oprah’s recap, the grandma explains where she is coming from and how she has raised the children:

Mary, Natalie's mother, says she didn't raise Kim and Matt to hate Eric. "It's because of my faith. Because when you give thanks to God, God carries [you]. And He gave us peace," she says. "[Natalie's] in heaven, so I have a lot to be thankful for." Mary says she doesn't believe Eric's story, but she still forgives him. "I pray for you that you ask God for forgiveness, because that's where it's all at. And I ask everybody to write the governor to stop the death penalty because we're not here to judge. You deserve to be in jail, but we don't want you to die."

This struck me and brought me back to a sermon that my pastor had given a few months back. The topic was forgiveness. And there was something he said that had stuck with me. That the next step in forgiveness is to pray for the person who hurt you the most deeply. Pray for their redemption, pray that they have found God and sought His forgiveness.

I have not been able to do that.

I have forgiven him and I turn his judgment over to God. But that sermon, that idea… I have this fear that to take my most intimate time with God and bring that person into it would be bringing him back into my life and that is not what I want at all. I know it doesn’t mean he’d physically be here. But it would mean allowing him into my heart and mind again. Yes, my past is always there with me. No, I don’t try to ignore it or pretend like it isn’t there.

I wrote an e-mail to my pastor to tell him about this episode of Oprah and what this woman said and what I was thinking about his sermon.

His reply:

I would say though, that prayers for the abuser do not need to be continuous--just for a “season” and sincere. That season can actually be a very short time—just a period you’ve set aside to give your focus there, and then move on, trusting the Holy Spirit to carry your prayers from then on. Please read Romans 8:18-30, paying special attention to Romans 8:26, and get ready to have your prayer life in this situation changed forever.

Romans 8:18-30

Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

So I don’t have to set a date to kneel down and pray specifically for the abuser’s redemption. If I carry it in my heart, God knows and the Holy Spirit carries that prayer through me.

So what does all of that boil down to when it comes to forgiveness? How did I even take the first step to be able to forgive my abuser for the awful things he did to me?

I can tell you that there isn’t a formula. I can tell you that I believe that forgiveness is a very personal journey and that what works for one, won’t work for another.

At the time, when I was hospitalized in an inpatient adolescent unit, I knew that I had to do something in order to move forward. I knew that my anger, shame, rage, hurt, pain would never begin to release and heal if I didn’t do something. Forgive. I had to cut him from my life in this one last, final way. There was physical separation, there was the end of the abuse. But over those years, he still had a piece of my mind and my heart. And by forgiving him, I claimed back those pieces of myself. By forgiving him, I released his hold on me.

As an adult, as I have been digging deeper into my faith and spirituality, I have reached a different level of forgiveness. I realized that I had to do more than just release him from my life. I had to turn him over to God. The pain, sorrow, shame, anger was alleviated but still present until I was able to turn all of that over. I think a part of me had carried the judgment of my abuser on my own shoulders. That is some serious weight. I needed other people to know he was guilty. Until I turned it over to God. He is the judge.

And now I face a final step. I released what he had done. I released the judgment in my heart. Next, I find a way to pray that God will forgive him, that God will show him mercy, that he will fall to his knees and pray for his own redemption. I’m not there yet but I’m not far from it, either.

Forgiveness is important because without it, I would have no peace, no serenity, no calm, no happiness, no joy.

How about you? Are you ready to forgive?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Verizon's Droid by Motorola

I returned my Droid yesterday. While I didn't fall head over heels in love with the phone like I did with my EnV Touch, this is definitely a very cool phone and there are things about the phone that I am certainly going to miss. I thought the EnV Touch might be an iPhone hopeful... not even close after using the Droid for a few weeks. The phone is sleek and fits nicely in my hand. Not heavy or bulky. And it just looks cool, you know? Plus, when you turn it on, instead of the little Verizon noise, it talks to you... "droid!" The touch screen- no issues. It worked well and responded to my touch, my daughter's touch, my husband's touch. The phone slides open to reveal a QWERTY keyboard. Some have complained about the dimming and the flat keys... but I didn't mind at all. It took a few typing sessions to get used to the flat keyboard but it quickly became very easy to use. Easy to send messages, make calls, receive calls. But the Droid isn't designed for people who just want those basic features. The Droid is all about accessibility and applications. I can touch the icon for Gmail and am instantly in my Gmail inbox. I can touch the Facebook icon and am instantly on Facebook- reviewing my friends' status updates, reading comments to my status updates, and so on. The apps I will really miss, though, are Google Maps, Google Sky, Slacker Radio, and Google Listen. Google Listen is a podcast manager for Android technology enabled phones. Slacker Radio is a music service for Android enabled devices. Google Sky Map is a cool app that shows you the planets, stars, and constellations above your head from wherever you are. We used that one evening to identify what planet we were seeing so brightly in the sky. And the Google Maps app is super cool. It's all the functionality of Google Maps but on your mobile device and with GPS functionality. Need a different route? Pop up Google Maps, see the roads around you, type in your address, etc. It can also tell you about restaurants and ATMs close by. I had a lot of fun testing out the game apps, too. Farm Frenzy was a nice little time killer when I had a minute or 2. My kids enjoyed a basic game called Touch (I think) where they just had to touch the little animals as they floated past. I started kicking butt on Connect Four... and enjoyed the brainlessness of Touch A Mole and the bubble wrap popping game. I was hoping to be really impressed with the 5 megapixel camera but... I like my EnV Touch 3.2 megapixel camera better. The Droid does offer amazing video capability- it's DVD quality. However, I couldn't ever get my videos to load up off the phone (to Facebook or through Gmail). I had intended to try and load up to YouTube since that was a listed option... but I don't post videos on YouTube so I never got around to it. But not being able to load up my videos or video message out my videos was a frustration. The voice search stuff was cool. You can use Google Maps or just the Google search function by voice command. Touch one button and then speak what you are looking for and... presto! This is a super helpful function for people like me and Christy. We tend to be having one of our random, go anywhere conversations and realize that, for example, we don't know the difference between sour cream and creme fraiche. And that is the sort of thing you need to know right away. At work, we can hop onto the internet. But while driving? Or at a restaurant? With the Droid, the search for answers to life's important questions can begin immediately. You know what would really be perfect for me? My EnV Touch having Android capability so I could have the cool Google features that the Droid has. My concern, if this was my phone, would be my data usage. Verizon's "unlimited" data plan, which I also have on my EnV Touch, is actually limited to 5GB per month. More specifically, the Unlimited Data has to meet Verizon's definition- (i) Internet browsing; (ii) email; and (iii) intranet access. Verizon specifies that unlimited data usage does not apply to (i) continuous uploading, downloading or streaming of audio or video programming or games; (ii) server devices or host computer applications, including, but not limited to, Web camera posts or broadcasts, automatic data feeds, automated machine–to–machine connections or peer–to–peer (P2P) file sharing; or (iii) as a substitute or backup for private lines or dedicated data connections. I didn't check before returning the Droid, but I'd have to imagine I went over on the data plan based on that definition. And if I didn't, I'm certain that I would if the phone was actually mine. I would think that using Slacker or Google Listen or some of the other apps would certainly suck up that 5GB pretty quickly. Reading online, it doesn't seem like I should come close to that 5GB but I somehow went over on my own current plan last month. So if you want a device that will provide plenty of entertainment, lots of ways to stay connected and informed, can help you out of almost any jam... the Droid is definitely one to look into! UPDATED DATA AND VIDEO INFO (added 12/3/09)

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Mom to Everyone

I've always had something of a maternal instinct. But there is something deeper now that I am a mom that I feel a need to step in and mother when the actual mother can't be there. Monday morning, after dropping Teagan off at school and heading to Christy's to pick her up, I witnessed a car accident. A guy on his way to work hit a teenager on her way to school. It could have been much worse. There was no blood, no evidence of broken bones. The driver of the pick up got out immediately. I pulled over and dialed 911 right away. I was directly behind the accident. While on the phone with 911, I went up to the small sedan that had been hit. The girl was on the phone. I told her I was on the phone with 911 and I needed to know if she was hurt. She said her knee hurt and her side hurt- really bad. I gave the 911 dispatch person the information, they got my personal info, and I followed their advise to have her stay in the car. She was on the phone with someone, telling them she had just been in a bad accident. She held it together as she said that she hurt her knee, it was bad... and then she broke down when she said the words... "And I can't reach my mom." My heart cracked open and for a few minutes, she became mine. I told her I would stay with her until the police and fire department arrived. I rubbed her back and chatted with her. Her hands were shaking- I offered to hold her hand and she accepted and looked at me. She was 18 but in that look, as her anxiety and fear and shock rose because she couldn't reach her mom, she was a child, a small child, lost, alone, scared. The police arrived and I told the officer who I was and that I was staying with her until the fire dept arrived- the officer was all for it. The fire department arrived and 2 firefighters immediately began to attend to her and the car. I told the firefighter what I knew and said goodbye to her. I spoke to the officer and told him what I had witnessed. I got in my car and drove away. And all morning, I am thinking of this girl and wondering if she- and her mom- are ok. I've been on the scene of accidents before and not had them stay with me exactly like this one. All because she couldn't reach her mom- and that was what had her over the edge, that was when she fell apart. She needed her mom and her mom didn't answer the phone. I'm glad that I was in that place at that time and that I could step in and try to mother her a little bit. I hope that if my child is ever in a position to need another mother, there will be someone like me there to help them, comfort them, and protect them.

The Move

My new office- ta da!!
The details on that window... unfortunately, the guy in that office tends to keep the little blinds by the door mostly closed so I'm not getting much of his light. But I'm still closer to a window! I went down and took a peek at my old office... before they gut that end of the building...
When I first started with my company, this section of offices was completely different than it is now. I've gotten used to seeing my work area being changed and adjusted. When I started here almost 10 years ago, that office by that file cabinet was an open cubicle- it was mine. The next door was a high walled cubicle. The next office was one large office- meaning the door closest wasn't a door!
After my first promotion, I moved to this cubicle. This is where I sat for 3 years. This is where I started to prove myself, make my mark, etc.
So here I am. New space, new end of the building, new traffic patterns, new sounds, new people. New personalities to adjust to, watch out for, embrace. It's like an old job in a new culture, new neighborhood. I'm surrounded by "my people" as well as by people I've known but not worked close by.
After a decade, change and growth and expansion is good. I've expected to be a bit sentimental about losing our end of the building. But I'm really just excited about the new space, the fresh start, the new challenges. Glad to have my job, glad to be part of a company that is growing, glad we are owned by a company that does more for its employees than a lot of other companies.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday- Wrapping Up The Week

Today is a very busy day and I apologize now for not having something truly entertaining or thought provoking or even remotely well thought out. 2 church services- I leave home at 8:45. First service is at 9:15. Second service will be over after 12:00. Jeff will bring the kids to second service. Teagan usually comes with me for both services- her choice- but today she is staying home because this afternoon, she will be out with mom. We will head out for lunch and I need to be up at The Belfry no later than 1:30. I'm taking Teagan to see Christy's show- Christmas Belles- with another friend. I won't get home until 5:00. Dinner time. And we never made it to the grocery store this weekend. No errands taken care of. Important stuff to do today but I really hate days like this. Oh- and Christy lost her voice. She's one of the main characters in the show and she has no voice. Note for Weds: topic has changed. I'll explain why in Wednesday's post! Thanksgiving is this week and I'll be making my cranberry sauce and probably a pie and some sort of pre-meal something (dip or crackers or veggies). We'll head to my mom's for the day on Thursday. Saturday we have Jeff's family's gathering- it's up in the air what I will be doing but I have offered and am prepared to do a full meal (my mother in law's health and some other things make it difficult this year). And now- I have to run. I need to be out the door in about 30 mins and I haven't yet showered. Ack! Enjoy your Sunday!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Best Daddy

Sometimes, a daddy does something very small that seems so very big.  I think that even Jeff may not understand how great of a dad he is.

He often has patience when I do not.  He often has calm when my temper flares.  He often sees logic where I see chaos.  He provides for us.  He keeps us safe and secure.

He is the best daddy.

He came through for his daughter for Colts Day last week.  Funny side bar on that one... Ms. Lori shared a group photo from Colts Day... see if you can spot Teagan in it...

colts day 002

He is the best daddy.

Thursday night, Jeff proved, once again, that he is more than a solid husband and father.  He proved that he is the best daddy.  I was at music team.  It had been moving day at work and I rushed from work to our side of town.  Jeff and the kids and Christy and I met up to have dinner together.  We ate, played, hugged, talked about Teagan’s fantastic day as Ms. Lori’s helper.

I went to church and Jeff took the kids home for bedtime. 

I had left home at 7, didn’t get home until 9 after music team and stopping to buy diapers.   The children were nestled, all snug in their beds… oh wait… wrong story.  But you get the idea.  He managed bedtime and bathtime and so on all by himself- because he’s their dad, not because he was doing something special.

The next day, I notice that Teagan’s fingernails are painted.  I ask if a teacher at school did that for her?  Nope- Daddy did it!

With no prompting, no suggesting, no hinting… heck, it wasn’t an idea in my head at all.  My husband said yes to his daughter.  He took the tiny bottle and brush and delicately painted each of her tiny little fingernails. 

He is the best daddy. 

Today, he is taking his daughter to the movies because she earned it as part of her reward for her 10 days of good choices at school.  A special date- movies are “their thing.” 

He is the best daddy.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Fragments- The Moving Edition

It's FRIDAY! Wahoo!! It's been a loooong week for me so I am especially glad for this Friday to finally be here! And what better way to end a long week than by getting this jumble of random thoughts out of my head with Mrs4444's Friday Fragments? Wanna play along? Click the logo above!
Teagan earned her 10 stickers this week and got to be Ms Lori's special office helper. It was a great day! Unfortunately, her phone call to me happened right in the middle of my office furniture being moved so I didn't have my phone on me. But I did call back and one of her teachers, Ms Tori, went and got her so I could talk to her. I heard Tori take the phone off of hold, hand the phone to Teagan and tell her to "go ahead," and then I hear Teagan... "Thank you for calling Little Explorers! This is Teagan!" It was ADORABLE. She also sharpened pencils, drew a picture, answered the phone/intercom, got to lead a fire drill, and sent e-mails to me and Jeff (dictated to Ms Lori). (Ms. "Melay" is the sub who is covering for Ms. Mindi's maternity leave. Her name is Lynna (rhymes with Renee) and the kids all have a hard time getting the sounds right!) Here's mine:
Hi Mommy,
I did it with Ms. Lori. I "sharptened" pencils for Ms. "Melay". I'm having a good day. I answered the phone. Ms. Sally called. I think that's it.
I will see you in the afternoon. I love you.
teagan (typed all by herself!)
this letter was typed by Ms. Lori, as dictated by Teagan!
Here's Jeff's:
I "sharped" pencils for Ms. "Melay". I helped Ms. Lori in the office. I answered the phone when Ms. Sally called. I sent Mommy a letter, too.
I get to watch a movie today. If there's not any good ones, I know we're not going. I hope we're going.
I think that's it. I love you and I'll see you in the afternoon.
teagan (typed by herself!)
typed by Ms. Lori as dictated by Teagan!
This week has both been a blur and crawled by. It's so weird when that happens.
I'm currently testing a Verizon Droid. I really, really like it. I'd be scared to own one because I'm certain I'd go over my "unlimited" data limits. But it does everything and I'm really impressed with it. It offers me a lot of convenience and fun and music and podcasts and maps and... but it's being returned on Monday. *sniff, sniff*
The new office space offers a whole new batch of personalities to get used to. I feel like I'm on Survivor and our tribes just merged... I wonder what color our buffs will be?
Busy times ahead... Teagan earned a movie outing this weekend, I'm taking her to see Christy's play this weekend, Tuesday is a Thanksgiving Feast at Teagan's school that the kids are preparing for the parents, I've got cooking to plan for multiple Thanksgivings coming up, we have a trip to Chicago in 2 weekends... lots going on.
With all that busy-ness, I'm glad that Teagan opted out of dance class. Because it would be really challenging to be squeezing a dance class commitment into all of this!
I've missed so much work time this week because of the move... I was without phone and computer for a good chunk of the day yesterday and even when I had it back, I was unpacking and organizing so I couldn't really get online or take calls. So I'd better skedaddle and get back to work!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Things I Learned While Moving

1. Saying goodbye to my old space was easier than I thought it would be. 2. If you are the person in charge of all the moving of all the offices and equipment, your job is VERY stressful. 3. If you work for the person who is in charge of all the moving of all the offices and equipment, your job is even harder because you have all the physical labor and you might have a boss who is quick to be an asshole and yell at you for dumb stuff for no reason in front of the people that you are moving. 4. Throwing stuff away as you are packing can feel really awesome. 5. Throwing stuff away as you are unpacking can feel really awesome. 6. I have waaaaay too many pencils. 7. I get really excited by "fresh starts."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

WWW: Joy

Joy. A season of joy is soon to be upon us. By why wait for the holidays to be joyful? What keeps us from living a joyful life all the time?
The sermon at church recently was on living a happy life, full of joy. And I was inspired! I aim for gratitude and peace and security... and who doesn't want to be joyful?
Music can often put me into a joyful place. As I type this, I am blasting the Glee rendition of "Don't Stop Believin'" at my desk. Bopping, moving, lip syncing, singing. My heart is filled up when I sing at church- be it with the Praise Team or as a congregation member. I connect with God through music and that is definitely a joyful experience!
First, I want to share some of the points made in the sermon a couple of weeks ago.
There is no such thing as a problem free life. Big question: How can I have happiness in spite of what is going wrong in my life?
Live with Perspective. Live by Priority. Live on real Power. Live for a Purpose.
There is often a purpose behind our problems. Courage and joy are contagious. We can live our lives based on problems or priorities. As long as we have hope, we can handle tremendous stress. Our life is not judged by its duration but by its donation. The best use of my life is to invest it in something that will outlast me. The secret of joy: Jesus first. Other important to me, second. And myself, third.
There's a lot there!
I believe that my joy and gratitude and depth of life and purpose and all that deep stuff come from God. I believe that there has been purpose to the worst and least of my problems. Sometimes it takes longer to find the purpose- but it is eventually there.
Some days... it's hard. I find that I am able to find joy in dark times easier than I can in just everyday stresses sometimes. I turn to God in the hard times. Quickly and automatically. So why not do the same with the everyday stress and aggravation?
My morning did not start well. 4 a.m., Zach is in our bed, climbing up the headboard, grabbing for the TV remote, demanding "TB on! TB on!" Finally got him settled and back to sleep- but it was closer to 5 than 4 by that time. 5:30, Teagan awakes with instant whining, complaining, obstinance. For the next hour, she fought us at every turn.
How do you live joyfully in that everyday stress?
At work, we have that big move going on. The kicking up of dust and construction materials triggered one of those massive allergy attacks yesterday. Today, they are banging and slamming into stuff. Offices aren't ready, people aren't packed. Right this second- they are trying to disable the alarm from our front door and are setting it off more often than not. It's a stressful environment.
But I can let all of this roll off of me with no concerns.
Maybe hope is the difference. Maybe with my kids... because the whining and complaining and arguing is a regular thing... maybe I don't have hope in how the morning will go when I get out of bed? The last 2 days have not been good mornings and both days started with kids who woke up whining and demanding. But with the work stress, I do still have hope for the turnout. We are moving and I choose to let it be something exciting and new and different. I'm eager to get into my new space and make it my own.
Yesterday, I learned about a movement called Brightsiding. The idea is to not let internal issues and negative circumstances dictate your level of joy. You purposefully do things to spread joy and create happy spaces and places and connections. Paint a wall a bright color. Do the Gratitude Dance. Sing. Hug someone. Purposefully choose things that make you happy.
I think it's important to realize the secret of joy from my pastor's sermon. Jesus first. Others important to me, second. Myself, third. "Me time" doesn't come first. My wants don't come first. I recognize that recharging time is important and needed. But not all the time. And not as a top priority. I keep God first. I follow the life path that I believe He wants me to live. I follow the teachings and philosophies of the Bible as best I can. I believe that God is love and love is what my purpose is. Yes, I struggle. I am not perfect. But I try and try and often succeed! Others important to me come second. My husband, my children, my friends, my family. I know I can do better in this area. My husband deserves more attention, more affection, more positive feedback from me. My husband deserves to see my love for him played out every day. Demonstrated, tangible, real. My children deserve my best self as their mother. My kids are a gift that shouldn't be taken for granted. They deserve to be treated with love, respect, and gentle discipline. Again- I struggle.
But don't you see? If I focus my life on being joyful for my family, on demonstrating love for my family, on being grateful for my life and my blessings... there won't be much room for negativity and doubt and anger.
Joseph Campbell said, "Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy."
What if we faced our sorrows, our stress, our problems with joy?
Ralph Waldo Emerson: "There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us. 'Tis good to give a stranger a meal, or a night's lodging. 'Tis better to be hospitable to his good meaning and thought, and give courage to a companion. We must be as courteous to a man as we are to a picture, which we are willing to give the advantage of a good light."
That's deep. We take a picture and put it in the right light so it will look its best. But we won't do that with people around us. Interesting... but if we approach all situations with joy and are eager to share our joy... think of the impact!
So there are deep ways to truly live a life of joy. There are small things and big things around me that represent joy. But joy is more than happiness. Joy is bigger and deeper than that. Blasting some happy dance music through my ear buds might help me focus my energy in the right direction but if I don't have joy within myself... if I don't already have gratitude, purpose, hope... it's only a band aid.
Do you live a joyful life?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Change, The Only Constant

The only constant in life is change. Big changes are happening in my work life right now. I've worked for this company and in this department for almost 10 years. I started as a temporary administrative assistant. After almost 3 years, I promoted to a Specialist position- still a support role. There was major turnover happening in the Management position that I did a lot of support work for. After the 3rd vacancy in just a couple of years, my boss took a chance and created an almost-management position for me to train me into that job. After proving my worth at the job, I was finally promoted to Manager a few years back. I started with my company 10 years ago in an open cubicle. When I received my promotion, I moved into an office. This office has been my home for 7 of my 10 years here. This is the hallway outside my office- the first doorway on the left (the one you can't really see) leads to the manufacturing floor and warehouse and eventually to another hallway that leads to the "corporate" end of the building.
Our copy room. Mailboxes, copier, printer, scanner. Supplies, paper, envelopes. A place where you bump into your co-workers and office mates each morning and stop to chat or exchange pleasantries.
Even the bathroom has been the same all these years. One for the men, one for the women, single user bathrooms.
And now, things are changing drastically.
That corporate end of the building started changing when my company was purchased by 3M. All those VP's and higher ups on Corporate Row moved on to "greener" pastures. New faces, shuffled people. We were always somewhat protected from all that went on at that end because we had manufacturing between us and them.
And now we are becoming them.
Some people have been moved to a different building. Some are moving into smaller work spaces. Some are moving into shared workspaces. I am very fortunate to be moving into an office that is about the same size as my current space. I will be directly across from the office that made up Corporate Row. I will be much closer to my boss and her boss than I currently am. But I will still have an office, a door, a lock. Most importantly, I still have a job.
We are in the process of shutting down one of our facilities in Massachusetts. I don't know a lot of the details on that process. But I do know that they are moving one of the production lines to Indianapolis. This end of the building will be gutted this Friday and our office area will be converted to a production area. It means job growth for us- we will be hiring 40-50 new employees.
I'll share my new office space once everything is done. But the past few weeks and all of this week and the weeks ahead are all about going with the flow, moving fluidly with change.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Kid Snacks, FitCity Style

I've done a good amount of cooking with my kids. My mom has done even more cooking with my kids. She and Teagan have even made scrambled eggs with Teagan at the stove (with lots of help from Grandma, of course). Cookies, corn bread, muffins, cupcakes, nachos, and more. FitCity Indianapolis is having a Recipe Challenge. I selected a couple of easy snack recipes for my kids and I to have fun with. The idea is to review them- and given that we had fun with these simple recipes, the reviewing part will be easy! Normally we cook in the kitchen. But I really wanted things at Zach's level. Sometimes my mom will open up the dishwasher and let the kids use that as their work surface- but that wasn't an option yesterday at my house (dishwasher was running). Sometimes we take their child size table into the kitchen... or pull chairs up to the counter... but I was getting dinner ready and the counter space in my kitchen is very limited. So we did a picnic cooking session by putting a blanket down in the living room and bringing the kitchen to the kids! The first thing we did was a snack mix. The recipe is Tasty Trail Mix. It calls for Chex cereal, Cheerios (cereal, not Glee cheerleaders), raisins, pretzels, Goldfish. We mixed it up a little. We used 2 kinds of Chex, craisins, dried pineapple, pretzel sticks. The kids liked being able to pick and choose what went into their mix. Well, Teagan liked picking and choosing. She didn't want the wheat Chex (she was scared it was chocolate because it was brown).
Step 1: Arm yourself with a storage container and a scoop.
Step 2: Grab handfuls of pretzels!
Step 3: Scoop that cereal into your container. Step 4: Snag a bunch of dried pineapple. Go back over and over until most of the package has ended up in the snack mix containers.
Step 6: Add craisins!
Step 7: Sneak in some more pineapple.
Presto! Tasty Trail Mix!
Each kid has their own Tasty Trail Mix for the week- their individual containers are stored in the easy access snack bin in the kitchen. This will be easy to grab when they are begging for a pre-dinner snack. Also easy to put some into ziploc baggies for an on the go snack! Next we tackled Ants On A Log. Teagan selected this recipe. She's made this before with Grandma and one of our favorite Fishers area restaurants (Casler's) has this on the menu as a kid's appetizer. They are eager to get started! I demonstrated how to get the peanut butter into the celery.
Teagan showed Zach how to put raisins on top.
Zach practiced.
Teagan, very intently, puts peanut butter on celery.
We have a nice little assembly line going. She does peanut butter, he does raisins. It's very serious work. Very serious.
Until you get to the eating part!
The recipes were easy. The time together was fun. Teagan liked having control over the process. Zach liked being part of the process- even if he didn't fully understand what was going on. I like that I have a snack mix all pulled together that is quick and easy to "go to" for this week. But the bottom line is that it is important to get the kids involved in their food. That's what I like most about cooking with my kids. That and the peanut butter kisses, of course!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sundays In My City

Sundays In My City is hosted by Unknown Mami. Click the button to go visit her site. This is my first foray into this weekly assignment and I am not going about it in the exact way I'm supposed to but I think it still gives a nice little slice of Sunday In My City!
Sundays in Indianapolis are all about one thing for most of this fair city... Football!! The Indianapolis Colts are a fun team to support. Many of the players are very involved in the community and have proven themselves to be upstanding members of our city. I'm not a football fan, but I do like supporting a good team- and not just good by wins, but good by the quality of people. Last week, Teagan's themes at school were the letter Q and "famous." During the week, they focused on the letter Q (quilt, q-tip, quiet, etc) and what it means to be famous. On Friday, which was also a city wide "Colts Blue Friday" where all are encouraged to wear Colts gear in support of the upcoming Big Game, the kids were encouraged to wear Colts gear or wear blue and they would be learning about a famous Hooiser whose job starts with Q. Peyton Manning, Quarterback. We don't have Colts gear for the kids. Well, Zach has a really cute Colt warm up suit he got from Mimi and Pop-pop for his birthday. And Teagan once had a blue Colts cheerleader outfit- but that was a couple of years ago. Jeff and I just haven't made it a priority. When we received word about Teagan's school doing Colts Blue Friday, we had every intention of picking her up a t-shirt or something at Target. Except we never got to Target. Thankfully, Teagan has the world's most awesomest dad ever. I was just going to send her to school in normal clothes. But he said- no way. He was insistent that every other kid would have Colts gear on and that Teagan would be upset that she didn't have anything blue or Colts. As soon as he was showered and dressed and she was dressed on Friday morning, he took her to a 24 hour store (Meijer) and got her this adorable pink cheerleader outfit. They left the house a little after 6:00. In the morning. Because he didn't want her to feel "less than" at preschool. God, I love him.
It was a day of learning kindness, apparently. Later in the morning, the school's director sent out an e-mail telling this story (personal info changed):
As you all know today was Colts day! You can read the note below from a dad in Ms. S's room, which is a shining example of one little boy's choice to be a friend and show exemplary character. We are very proud of E today! Way to go, E for reminding us all what it means to be a friend!! "I witnessed one of the nicest things ever this morning. I took R and N in to school and EVERY kid in R’s class had a Peyton Manning jersey on. I felt so bad for R. Then, one of the kids [E] pulled a jersey out of his bag and said, “R, I have an extra one!”. Ms S was teary eyed and I cried my way to work." -Dad
So I hope you find some kindness on this Sunday in Your City and I hope you find a way to share kindness with others- today and every day!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cheesy Pizza Wreath Skewers

It’s fun. It’s easy. And it all started with a completely different recipe.

I love my Kraft Food and Family magazine.  A recipe for a Baked Cheese and Veggie Twist caught my eye- but the ingredient list was one that my family would never go for.  Broccoli? No way! Mushrooms? Nuh-uh!  But my wheels started spinning… what a fun way to make a pizza!

Crescent rolls, lined up as shown in the magazine (or you can watch the video on that link up there), a layer of sauce, pepperoni, mozzarella.  Folded the edges over to form the “wreath.”  Used a crescent roll triangle to form a middle to the wreath.  Baked at 375 for 20 minutes.  Took it out and put a few slices of pepperoni in the middle and then put mozzarella all around the wreath.  Baked another 10 mins.

pizzawreathI sliced it like a pizza.  Put a slice on Teagan’s plate, one on Zach’s plate.  We cut it up into bites and inspiration hit me… what’s more fun than a fork?  A toothpick! But we didn’t have any.  Maybe… a skewer? None of those.  But I did have chopsticks- each child got one stick and the fun began!

pizzaskew  pizzatea pizzazach And while Jeff didn’t get in on the skewer action, he did enjoy the meal.  He even went back for seconds later on!  We had a side of peas with it- it’s on Teagan’s list