Friday, July 31, 2009

Will I Cry?

Place your bets, folks! We had Teagan's Open House / Meet the Teacher night last night. She got to meet the teacher for her aftercare room and her pre-K room. She got to see some of the other kids and do some crafts (I had soooo many observations during that time). Had snacks and just a general time to ask questions, make sure paperwork is complete, etc. She is very excited! I haven't gotten sad about it- yet. Will I cry on Monday? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe I'll cry tears over my baby becoming a school girl. Maybe I'll cry tears because my boy won't understand his sister not being with him. Maybe I'll cry because I can't go to preschool. Who knows! First, my observations. And I'm certain the teacher was making mental notes on this front, too. I was so interested to watch and see how the other parents interacted with their kids!! We rarely have the opportunity to see other family units set in the same setting we are in, you know? When we first got to Ms. Mindi's class, there were 2 tables set up. These tables each held a project. First, Teagan decorated a little human cut out (looked more like a squat gingerbread person) that had her name on it. She will use this to check in and out for the day. Next project was to make a "first week" of school necklace. There were little kits with pre-cut pieces of foam to glue together to make a box of crayons, essentially. This is where it got interesting. To see which parents sat right by the child and directed them on which color to use or made suggestions on how to color the little person. To see which parents stood back and let their child be independent in their decision making. To see which children looked to their parents for guidance and which children sat and worked alone. The name thing was easy for the kids to do on their own but the crayon box name tag required adult assistance. That was where I really observed things! Some parents were very concerned with how the necklace looked, how much glue was used, etc. When it came to writing the child's name on the crayon box, some parents did it themselves, some offered to help, some let the child go to town. It was fascinating. I don't place any judgements. Don't misunderstand. I just loved watching these different styles of parental involvement and seeing how that played out with the kids and their decision making. Here's how it broke down with Teagan. For the little person, she was completely independent. Mindi explained what it was and that was it. Teagan found her named person, found a spot at the table, grabbed a crayon and started right in- never gave me or Jeff a second glance. She worked very intently and was very focused for most of her time at that table. She created a specific look for her person- much attention to detail as she colored specific layers around the edges before starting on the middle. Once she was finished, she placed it on the board by the door- she was very proud of her work and Jeff and I were proud of her! For the name tag necklace, Teagan and I worked together. We opened the packet and I asked if she wanted to follow the little sheet of directions or if she wanted to figure it out on her own. She chose to have me read the directions. So I would read it and then she would interpret it and do the work. I only helped if she asked me to do so. She only asked for help with the glue on a squiggly striped piece. She started out writing her name but the space was limited and I think she was unsure of fitting the letters in so she did the "T" and the "E" and I did the rest. She explored her classroom, found the dollhouse, asked her teacher about the reward chart! And look at this... a schedule for the first weeks of school...

3 short days... Monday morning... no turning back... What do you think? Will I cry?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Why I Love Costco

I've had an ongoing love affair with Costco since it arrived in Indy several years ago- back before I had children. I could make jokes about the giant tubs of mayo or huge tubes of toothpaste (I have been oft impressed by the giant bottle of A1). But instead, I want to share a couple of things I love about Costco. 1. Diapers. I buy the Kirkland Signature (Costco store brand) and 1 case basically lasts a solid month. I guess I should be able to spit a bunch of numbers at you- how much a case costs, how many diapers are in a case, price comparisons to other brands and stores. But I don't have all of that in front of me. What I can tell you is that there is great comfort in only buying diapers once a month. Ballpark cost is $40 a month. The diapers are quality. I'd compare them to Huggies Supreme. We don't have leakage issues. I'm going to go ahead and put the wipes plug here, too. I love their wipes. 1 case lasts... months. And we use those wipes on butts, hands, faces, feet, spills, carpet, tables... not all at once, of course. Today was a Costco shopping trip day. I found a deal that almost made me cry. Tears of joy. Yesterday, I had an allergy attack. I had no drugs on me. I like Zyrtec (cetirizine hydrochloride). I went to CVS to pick up a box. 14 count of CVS brand was $6.49. $0.46 per pill. Today I found this at Costco: 365 pills. A year's worth of drugs- more, actually, since I don't take it daily. 365 pills. In a bottle. Wanna know how much 365 pills cost? At the CVS price, the cost of the bottle would have been $169.20. The Costco price?
$15.95 ~ $0.044 per pill
Still not sold on how great Costco is?
Do you know what today is?
That's a Costco cheesecake. It's 16 slices. It's 2" tall. It's creamy, yummy. It cost $12.99. Explore the joys of Costco. Go around lunchtime so you can enjoy the samples (we had incredible roast beef, cheese, chicken sausage, potstickers, salmon, olives, and brown rice chips). Buy gas at a price that is usually cheaper than the corner gas station (a tip- I was once told by a gas employee that the price is set each weekday morning and then stays put until the next weekday morning- so when the other gas stations are raising prices all day long, Costco stays steady). Eat a giant slice of pizza and have a fruit slushie at the food court (or one of the only hot dogs I will ever actually eat). And please get yourself some cheesecake today. Celebrate! It's a National holiday! Amen.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Do you like carrot cake?

I love carrot cake... and Christy and I had lunch at this new NY Deli called Stanley's today... and there was this refrigerated display case holding all of these desserts. Cheesecake, chocolate cake, struedel, giant cookies... and this divine, ginormous carrot cake.
Do you like carrot cake? Did your eyes get huge, your mouth start to water?
If so...
I am so glad you aren't here because there is no way I'm gonna share this puppy!!

An Important Reminder

Take care of your health. When they say prevention is key, early detection saves lives... they aren't kidding. I've shared Michele Graddy's story- links are over in the sidebar. What we knew was that she was diagnosed with breast cancer June 5 and died July 2. It had metastisized to her lymph nodes, brain, maybe even her lungs. I've learned more since then. She'd not been feeling "right" for almost a year. A close friend encouraged her to seek medical attention. For reasons that I don't know, Michele didn't. Her health wasn't good. And the hidden and undiscovered cancer, it seems in hindsight, was already in her brain. Her normal decision making, home care, behavior... was off. She didn't seek medical attention. She waited until she had pain from a growth in her arm. She waited until it was too late to catch it all. Don't wait. Do your monthly exams. Get your mammograms. Pay attention to your health. Listen to your body and respond when something is wrong. I added a "Be Bright Pink" button to the side panel. I learned about it from Mrs4444- she learned about it at BlogHer. This group is focused on young women who are at risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Their message applies to all women. You have to empower yourself. You have to educate yourself. The best way to fight cancer is to detect it early. And you need knowledge to detect it early. So go check it out. Be Bright Pink. Take care of your own health, your own body. Go do a breast self exam. Right now. Sign up at Be Bright Pink for a monthly e-mail reminder to do that exam. Don't ignore your body, your responsibility. Please. The results can be tragic.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


"Teagan, why is the sky blue?" "Because if the sky wasn't blue... the clouds wouldn't be white!"


"Guess what T? Tomorrow is Tuesday... where do we go tomorrow and Wednesday and Thursday?"

"Miss Lisa's!"

"And Friday?"

"Grandma is coming!"

"And Saturday?"

"Dance class!"



"And then... Monday?"

"School." smile fades

"What's wrong, baby? Aren't you excited about school?"

"No..." fights tears

"How come? You look sad!"

Tears begin to trickle down her cheeks. "I'm going to miss my baby brother! I don't want to leave him! I want to wait until he catches up and comes with me!" Be still my heart...


I look forward to being able to share kid-bits from Zachary someday. Right now, I can't quite find a way to capture the adorable way he pouts; says "I love you" to me or Jeff or Teagan; plays ball with Sassy; is obsessed with drinking lemonade and eating anything fruit; the way he urges you to "come on."

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Literary Vent

Grrrrr... I hate it when you are alongside someone starting their literary career. When you read their first novel, like, say... Good In Bed by Jennifer Weiner. And you fall in love. And you await the release of each book thereafter... and you eat up those paperbacks... you connect with each character she presents. Your life seems to line up with what she's writing. You find that the events in her life that are impacting her writing align with your own and you feel more connected... Little Earthquakes is one of my all time, hands down favorite books. Anytime anyone asks for a book recommendation, that is top of my list. Jennifer Weiner captures motherhood in a way I'd never read before. Good In Bed introduced me to characters that I understood... Cannie was someone that I would either be very good friends or with or just be. Cannie's story continued with In Her Shoes (which was made into a movie- that I admit to not seeing). And again with Certain Girls. And you get to the point that you start watching for the release date of the next book... I've been eagerly awaiting the release of her newest book- Best Friends Forever. I was all set to buy it on the day it was released. I've become a fan of Jennifer Weiner on Facebook. I read her blog. I'm only minorly obsessed, really. Can I tell you how pissed I am that this book is being released as hardcover only until May 2010??? I've been loyally buying up paperbacks, supporting this author... and now I either get the book from the library or wait until the paperback comes out. Because I won't pay $18 for the book. And it isn't even just about the money. Because I have a gift card from being a Smartypants. But since every other J. Weiner book on my shelf is paperback, it would be stupid to go hard cover at this point. And hard cover doesn't fit nicely in my purse or easily transport to various playgrounds and waiting rooms and lunch tables and workout machines... Grrrr...

Speaking of BlogHer

Many of my blogging contacts, buddies, friends attended the BlogHer conference in Chicago this past weekend. I've noticed a disturbing trend. Why are so many NOT sharing all the connections made, wonders, swag, talks, readings, etc from the trip? Almost every post I read that mentions BlogHer usually starts and ends with apologies for bringing it up. Huh? I WANT TO READ MORE! Don't make me go and read generic accounts from bloggers I don't know... if I read you and you were there, I want every. single. juicy. detail. I want to hear about every Ree sighting. I want pics of the conference, the meetings, walking around, the parties. I want stories. I want to hear about meeting face to face for the first time. I want to know who you met that you'd been unaware of before. I want to hear about the celebrities who were there. I didn't even consider going but I love to live it vicariously through others. So stop apologizing. And start writing!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Party Girl

I got to go out Saturday night. To a party. With very nice food. In an artsy district. With thumpin' music. And free flowing wine. And I had a designated driver. Party girl!!
Me with my friend and driver, Kat
A little corner of me, party planner Tricia, and our friend Jen
Amanda, me, Kat, Deb Me and Nikki, getting all Charlie's Angels
The party was hosted by a small jewelry and accessory shop on Mass Ave in Indy. Which meant bonus sales for the owner. And also much dress up fun. Hats, sunglasses, scarves...
The food was tasty. Next door is an Asian bar/restaurant. They catered. Sushi, some kind of Asian wonton tuna with mango salsa taco, wonton chips and mango salsa, honey walnut shrimp, calamari, and more.
Merlot, Chardonnay, White Zin.
I came home having had a lot of fun dancing, laughing, and just being silly. Totally relaxed, slept deeply and a more relaxed sleep than I have in weeks. Woke to not having pain in my jaw for the first time in at least 2 weeks.
Party girl!! A necessary evil from time to time!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Is Your Life G?

I think I shared a link to once before. Now there is also My Life Is Average. And my new fave site to visit when I need some smiles... My Life is G People submit, anonymously, little snippets- like Tweets, really- about something in their day that made them see how life is good or great. Little things, big things. Some of my favorites: Today, someone confessed to me that his father abuses him,and he had at one point in his life attempted suicide. I told him how much I love him, that I will always be here for him, made him his favorite cookies, and also wrote him a letter with all of my favorite memories with him that wouldn't have happened if he hadn't been there. He lit up and said he's never felt so loved. MLIG. Today, I went out to brunch with my dad. For the first time ever, I was able to treat him with money I earned myself instead of the other way around. MLIG. Today, I was that told I am now cancer free. MLIG Today began with my girlfriend and me fighting. Today ended with my girlfriend and me talking and laughing like nothing had ever happened and my very religious mother holding me as I came out to her. MyLifeIsG. One day, I was working as a cashier and a lady came with her groceries and a bouquet of flowers. I rang in all her groceries and when she had paid, she told me that the flowers were for me. She said that God had put it in her heart to do something nice. I don't even know this woman, she made my day. MLIG. What are some ways that your life is good these days?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Young Adult Literature

I read voraciously in my youth. It was rare to see me without a book. And I read most books very fast and then read them half a dozen times. I still love to read. I have a lot less time to do it. But I am usually reading some book- it just takes a lot longer and the retention of what I read is a lot less. But the books of my youth are what really stay with me. My biggest obsession in elementary school was horses. Album of Horses was a constant companion. I read Black Beauty 20 times. I played imaginary stable games in the hallway and stairwell of our apartment building. Entering middle school and into high school, I was reading the "classics" for school and also reading them because I just loved to read and was deeply intrigued by what I learned. Lord Of The Flies, Animal Farm, Catcher In The Rye. I also loved reading unassigned books... Judy Blume, Paula Danzinger, Cynthia Voigt. Eventually moving into trashy romance novels, VC Andrews, and more. Through a series of links, I discovered Lizzie Skurnick today. A collection of essays about the YA Lit that formed our youth. And I clicked over to this page of a collection of articles that Lizzie Skurnick had written about various YA Lit from her own youth and how it impacted her. Side note: Lizzie Skurnick authored 10 Sweet Valley High books. So she must be my soul sister on some level. Jessica and Elizabeth were so much a part of my growing up!!! But that collection of articles... I've read almost every single book listed on that link. And have serious sentimental and emotional attachments formed. I think I'm going to make a list, hit the library, dig around at Half Price Books... I know I kept a good collection of some of my fave YA Lit from my youth. So I must know. What's your fave YA Lit? Books from when you were growing up... recently written (The Book Thief is a must read)... old books recently discovered...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

OAKLEYS bistro

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending a business dinner that was truly extraordinary. Brief history. I've been doing business with this company for at least 5 years. Some of my favorite people in terms of people I work with. This was a special annual visit from my sales rep, customer service rep, and the president of their company. I don't often get to see or talk to the president (Jim) but always enjoy my time with him. He's a father of 3, grandfather of 1 (she's 18 months old and he and his wife take great pleasure in doting on her). He is also a foodie. He and his wife spend their time enjoying fine food, fun food, experiential food. He has the inside scoop on a lot of the food world. He hails from Chicago so he has a lot of great food choices at his fingertips. I was instructed to pick a restaurant. Something "real nice." Eesh! Pressure! I know what kind of food I like... but my budget of nice isn't what this guy was looking for. I nailed it. OAKLEYS bistro If you click over there and read the menu- note the wording. Those are ingredients, not a description of the food. And it isn't every ingredient. But it gives you an idea of what the dish is. It was like eating the dishes created on Iron Chef or other Food Network shows. The plating was impeccable. The food was delicious. I arrived a few minutes early. There was a free wine tasting going on so I enjoyed a couple ounces of white and a couple ounces of red. Came inside and sat down. I ordered a Malbec that was delightfully spicy. We peruse the menu. It's almost overwhelming because the options are so fantastic. I'm completely torn on what to order. Since it's Tuesday, there is a special tasting menu. For $30, you get a 3 course meal. Starter, Entree, Dessert. This Tuesday, the tasting menu started with an heirloom tomato salad, went on to halibut, and ended with banana stuffed french toast. None of it is what it sounds like. The heirloom tomato salad was served on a small rectangular plate. There was a long strip of cucumber that had been curled into a single twist across the plate. On one side of the cucumber was a quarter of a green tomato. Red on the other side. Carmelized pearl onions and blue cheese and croutons dotted the plate. There was a drizzle of... balsalmic vinaigrette and something else (pesto, maybe). It was pretty. It was impressive. And the flavors layered together beautifully. 2 of us had the tasting menu. 1 had the duck. 1 had the vegetable plate. The halibut was served on a small bed of perfectly creamy mashed potatoes. There were a few peas, thin slices of asparagus, an avocado mixture on top, various crispy, thin greens of some sort. (I really should have swiped the menu so I could remember what it all was). The duck- I had a bite- was delicious. I've never liked duck. Apparently, I've never had it cooked properly. On one side of the plate was a sliced piece of duck. Fanned out, pink in the middle, the outside lightly crispy. A spring roll of duck confit off to the side. It looked so yummy. The vegetable assortment... was simply gorgeous. A vegetable lasagna. An open mushroom ravioli. Couscous stuffed cabbage. Peas with a parmesan pudding. I had a little bite of that pudding. Heaven. Bliss. It wasn't overwhelmingly cheesy or overly rich. It was so impressive when set down that I simply had to try and take a pic. Unfortunately, the flash went off so it isn't nearly as pretty in the pic as it was when set down. The dessert wasn't what it sounded like in my "IHOP mind." No texas toast or supersized bread soaked in egg and milk and cooked on a griddle. No way. No slices of chunks of banana. It was a small square of banana bread. A sprinkling of pecans. A small scoop of what tasted like chocolate gelato. A fresh strawberry, a leaf of mint. It was a true dining experience. Some of the bites were so perfect... I nearly cried. You all know that food has the potential to be really powerful for me. And this was one of those meals that I will never forget and am eager to experience again. I told Christy all about the meal and we jumped online so I could point to things and remember things. We also read more about the Chef Proprietor, Steven Oakley. This man has worked hard to get to where he is. And he pays it back, pays it forward. Check out what he does for the community. Christy and I are going to celebrate my birthday. My birthday falls on a Weds so we will celebrate the evening before, after work. We want to go on Tuesday so we can be there for another wine tasting, another tasting menu. I'm not sure we can wait the weeks between now and then without breaking down and making a Tuesday evening of it much sooner.


For those so inclined... I just wanted to share one of the blogs I read frequently- Rex Wockner.

As his profile says, "Rex Wockner has reported news for gay media for 25 years in 350+ publications in 38 countries."

Having just watched Milk over the weekend... then I headed over to get caught up on Wockner... and I found this story that I hadn't heard about. And the raid in Fort Worth so mimics what we all think of as something that happened 2 decades ago. Not as something that would happen in 2009.

So if you want to keep a finger on one part of the pulse that is helping spread the word electronically... check out Wockner's blog.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Last night, I went in to check on Teagan before heading to bed myself. It's what I do every night. I go into Zach's room and check on him, stare at him, adore him. I go into Teagan's room and check on her, wonder at her, watch her. Last night when I went in to Teagan's room, she was all askew in the bed so I gently moved her back to normal and got her blanket over her legs. She sleepily opened her eyes, saw me, smiled, closed her eyes, snuggled back into her pillow. And that smile... that special "someone who loves me and that I love is close by and loving me" smile... that smile stayed on her face until she was back into her deeply relaxed sleep. So I stayed and wondered at her... with that special smile now played out on my own lips... and felt so connected to my baby girl... I had told her last night that she was the first person to ever call me Mommy... she was my first baby... she was the one that taught me how to be a Mommy. I asked if she thought I was doing a good job as her Mommy- and she said yes (Whew!). I asked her, "What do you think I could do to be a better Mommy for you?" She thought about it a good 30 seconds (which is eons in 4-year-old years) and replied, very seriously but with a sly smile... "You could feed me gum every day!"
Can't login to blogger. Home page gives me an error message. Sending this from my phone.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Milk (or Being Gay)

First- some assigned reading.

Read this.

And this.

Jeff was wonderful enough to pick up a copy of Milk on blue-ray this weekend. I hadn't had an opportunity to see it... and desperately wanted to... especially after being so moved by the award speeches a few months back.

What I loved about the movie... from my limited knowledge, it seemed historically accurate. Casting was excellent. Acting was superb. It was moving and inspiring. Harvey Milk made great strides in the gay rights movement and the film very well depicts his accomplishments, how he got there, and also gives glimpses into his personal life- into the man he was.

I liked his message of hope. That was repeated over and over.

One thing that I think was missing from the film- and I think there wasn't an easy way to add this in- was that the timing of the murder of Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone coincided with the mass suicide at Jonestown. The Wikipedia link above gives a lot more insight on that bit of history and how it played into the tone of the times.

But here's what got stuck in my craw after the movie ended.

Everyone I know who has seen the movie has raved about it, loved it. I've honestly not heard anyone say they just didn't like it. I would think that the subject matter is pretty darn obvious, right?

Some of those people who rave about it, loved it, critically acclaim it... are opposed to gay marriage. Are opposed to laws that defend or protect the rights of gay people as a group.

It boggles my mind. I raised an eyebrow at the times I heard of these non-supporters enjoying the film. And having now seen the film, I'm really befuddled.

Maybe these people don't see their own homophobia? Maybe these people don't want to align themselves as being a Dan White or John Briggs or Anita Bryant?

The similarities between Prop 6 back in 1978 and the fight against Prop 8 in 2009 are striking. There are those for it and those against it. There is very little gray area.

Can someone explain that to me? Saying you've been really touched by a film about a man who fought for gay rights but also wanting to deny rights to a group of people- the same people this man was fighting for.

The sign posted at the site of Castro Camera and Harvey Milk's apartment reads:

Harvey Milk
May 22, 1930 - November 27, 1978
Harvey Milk made history as the first openly gay elected official in California, and one of the first in the nation, when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in November 1977. His camera store and campaign headquarters at 575 Castro Street and his apartment upstairs were centers of community activism for a wide range of human rights, environmental, labor and neighborhood issues. Harvey Milk's hard work and accomplishments on behalf of all San Franciscans earned him widespread respect and support. His life is an inspiration to all people committed to equal opportunity and an end to bigotry.
"You gotta give 'em hope!"

All people committed to equal opportunity. An end to bigotry. Hope.

Equal opportunity. Ending bigotry. Giving hope.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Rent, Aging, AIDS, Cancer

I went to see a community theatre production of Rent last night. I went alone- made friends with the couple sitting next to me. He had seen the show 5 times on Broadway; his partner hadn't ever seen it live. This was my first time seeing it live as well.

Rent came out in 1996. I remember hearing about it. I was in college. The show premiered the night after the creator, Jonathan Larson, died. It was amazingly tragic but also poetic, given the message of the production. No day but today.

The musical powerfully focuses on AIDS, poverty, homelessness, drugs, sex. Love, loss, acceptance, struggle, art.

The songs are lyrical and moving.

As a college student, the debut of Rent was powerful because it symbolized, demonstrated what we were soon to face. What we were romanticizing we would soon face. The struggles of young adulthood. Clinging to what we want, wanting to change the world, facing the realities of life and death and hard choices.

As many of you know, I've been involved with the Graddy Family since June 29.

A mother of 4 young children. Diagnosed with breast cancer on June 5. Died July 2.

Her husband is now a single dad. 10 year old Chris is autistic. 5 year old Katie starts Kindergarten this year. Olivia is 4... Jack only 2 years old. The widower, Tim, went from his normal life of going to work as a co-manager of a grocery store... his wife at home and caring for their children, running an in-home daycare. Going to bed at night with her by his side, waking each morning with her by his side.

10 years ago, life was interrupted by AIDS.

10 years ago, life was focused on helping those who struggle, defending and participating in art.

Now, life is children, marriage, home, church, job.

My next door neighbor just passed away last week. He was 52 years old. He had ALS.

Michele died from cancer- breast cancer that had taken over lymph nodes, lungs, brain.

No day but today.

I've heard people dismiss Rent as a show about a bunch of whiny, do-nothing young people who just don't want to take responsibility and pay bills and work. I'd venture the naysayers haven't seen the show- at most, have listened to a couple of songs from the soundtrack.

As I sat watching Rent unfold on the stage before me, I was struck with how different the experience was for me.

It's always been a show that hearkens back to my youth. To the days of fight and struggle and doing what's right and "screw the man."

Now, as an almost-35 year old mom, wife, living in the 'burbs woman...

I wanted to mother the young people who struggled with not having heat or electricity or food. I want to wrap my arms around the drug addicts, the kids living with AIDS, dying from AIDS.

The show has a character who dies from AIDS. She's full of life and giving. She finds love months before she dies and teaches the lesson that love is what really matters. Finding it, fighting for it, protecting it.

And I realized that AIDS was the fight of my youth. AIDS was scary back when Rent debuted. It still is- but research and education make it less so.

Cancer is the fight of my adulthood. And as time passes... death in general is the fight.

I've long believed that life has to be lived in the moment. As a survivor of some pretty severe sexual abuse in my childhood, part of my healing was recognizing that what was in my past was behind me and was no longer a threat to me right now. That all I had was right now. I can't now what is going to happen in the next year, month, week, 24 hours, 1 hour. All I have is right now. And if I'm ok right now- then that means I am ok. If I am happy right now- then I am happy. There is no need to focus on what happened in my past- it's over and done. There is no need to fret about the future- it hasn't happened yet.

No day but today.

This is what I have. Today. Today is when I have to show the people in my life that I love them. Today is when I hug, I love, I kiss, I don't hold back.

No Day But Today

Without You

Seasons of Love

"How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?"

"Oh you got to, you got to remember the love

You know that love is a gift from up above

Share love, give love, spread love

Measure, measure your life in love."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Blog Reading

I have 70-something blogs listed over there in my blog roll. I stopped using my Blogger dashboard reader- which may be a mistake. I have more blogs there, blogs that I intend to read but didn't automatically add to my blog roll for whatever reason. So I guess I have some updating to do. But I keep that list over there by "most recently updated" and it is basically how I read my blogs. I have some of you that I actually look for and know when you pop up on the top of the list. And whenever I have a few minutes to ignore my job (the conference call, the e-mail, waiting for a report to load) or ignore my kids (TV is on, they are playing in their rooms, naptime) or ignore my husband (who am I kidding? he's on his computer as much- no, more- than me!)... I pop onto my blog and click through that list of 70-something blogs that I like to read. I have gotten lazy with commenting. Like I'm suddenly shy or something. I feel like I have this self-imposed pressure to be funny or witty. I feel silly leaving a comment that basically just says "Love this post!" But you know what... I'm going to make an effort to do that more often. Because I love it when I get those kind of comments. Not because the comment says anything about my post. But because it's a calling card left by the person who came to read my post. That's the part about comments that I love- knowing who stopped by. I have "real-life" friends that sometimes mention my blog to me. And I love knowing that they read my blog! Christy came with me to music team one night at church- so she could play with my kids while I rehearsed. And 2 of my music team friends immediately knew who she was- "Is that Christy? From your blog?" I just like knowing that someone out there enjoys what I have to say or gets something from it. I enjoy the friendships I've made- the bloggers I feel close to, in some sense. I also enjoy just having even a minor connection to the people I read and who come and read me. So if you come to the blog regularly, feel free to click on that "follow" thing over there. Leave a little comment letting me know you're around. Or just keep coming back and reading, getting whatever it is you get from whatever it is that I put out there.

Friday, July 17, 2009


blackberries they are already gone.
gobbled up by kids
and me
tomatoes should be ripe tomorrow
soon to be gone
maybe with cottage cheese
or just salt

The Museum Center at Union Terminal

This will be the last of my posts about our mini-vacay last week. We ended our trip with a day at the Museum Center. We had planned to go to Coney Island but the weather wasn't cooperating- forecast called for scattered thunderstorms and cloudy skies all day. Boo! So we opted to go down to Union Terminal instead.
View of the Cincinnati skyline from Union Terminal Couple more shots of that mural I showed you earlier this week
Teagan discovered a way to keep Zach entertained while we waited for our friends to meet up with us.
First we went through the Museum of Natural History. Oodles of information but one thing really caught my eye. A lesson on Darwin's theory on variation.
Yep. That's a glass case filled with dead, stuffed birds.
Zach enjoyed finding a table that was just his size!
Teagan and her friend, Gus. This was in the area of the Children's Museum called The Woods.
Teagan being a busdriver- who knows where she was taking Daddy!
My little percussionist!
Daddy and Teagan built an arch together (they had help from another boy who came by and a little help from me).
Dr Teagan, report to animal surgery. STAT!
This was adorable- a little puppet theatre. Teagan had a blast ducking down and telling the grown ups to go sit down for the show. She made little voices for the puppets and had them talking to each other and worked very hard to stay out of sight back there!
The Kroger-supplied grocery store
Zach slept through a lot of the fun. But in the end, he found something with wheels and a ramp on which to take full advantage!
All in all- a good trip. Food highlights included getting the hoagy I grew up loving at LaRosa's Pizza, getting the ice cream I love at UDF. We go to Cincy pretty regularly but we don't often eat out because we are usually there for family gatherings and my mom is always pushing food. And we don't get out to see the sites because... we don't usually leave the house, actually. So going to some of the old favorite childhood sites, enjoying the food of the city... it was a really nice trip and I left appreciating my "hometown" a little more.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Hotel

I usually figure a hotel is a hotel is a hotel. Yes, some are more comfortable, some offer more amenities. But it's basically about being clean, having a decent bed, having a decent shower. Embassy Suites in Blue Ash changed that for me. There is now a bar to be met. An expectation to be exceeded. I didn't get pics of everything but if you visit their website, you can take a tour of the hotel and see more. Like the arcade. Or the waterfall in the pool. The lobby leads to the elevators and a small bridge. On either side of you is a waterway and off in the distance- a waterfall. This atrium area is filled with greenery and palm trees. One side of the atrium is where the daily Manager's Reception takes place. Where you get free drinks. Of the adult variety. Free.

On the other side of the atrium is the restaurant- Cascades- which is also where they serve the free breakfast. Past vacations or hotel stays, we've been perfectly content with the do-it-yourself waffle makes, bananas, apples, bagels, bagged pastries, cheerios. Been impressed when the options expand to refrigerated breakfast sandwiches that you can heat up. But this place... oh my stars. The picture below is an above shot of the breakfast set up. See at the top of the pic? Those guys in white tops and the one guy wearing a white hat? Those are chefs. Actual cooks, preparing made to order omelets, eggs, pancakes, sausage links, bacon, home fries. Wide variety of things you could put in an omelet, too. Plus salsa to top it off with. Hot syrup. Many options of cut fruit, yogurt. Under one of the red umbrellas, you can see the breakfast buffet. Scrambled eggs, sausage links, bacon, home fries, fruit, yogurt, oatmeal. And there was the drink station- milk, coffee, a variety of juices, soda (although the Sprite was horrible both days- but we also never asked about it or complained). 4 or 5 cereal choices. I never got around to even looking at the bread/bagel/donut/pastry area because I was so taken with the rest of it. Our 2 mornings here... we left for our adventures very full of very good breakfast food.

One of the things that my kids really loved about the atrium was the animals. A large assortment of koi and about 8-10 turtles live in the atrium!

There is a heat lamp type light where the turtles "sun" themselves on these rocks. There are also giant skylights so plenty of natural sun comes in as well.

The hotel is very nicely maintained and decorated. Teagan was taken by the funny chairs in the lobby.

Our suite was a 1 bedroom with a king sized bed. The living room had a couch (pulls out into a bed) and chair and small desk, a kitchenette (small sink, fridge, microwave, coffee maker, counter space). We had a good amount of room to move around in and not step all over each other. Thermostat in the room so we controlled the temp. It was set on 50 when we first got there- yikes! Ended up having to keep it around 68 to be cool and comfortable. Which is way lower than what we set our home thermostat!

We used the pool twice. The water is kept almost too warm but just right for kids eager to jump right in. Just don't go to the pool expecting to cool off. The waterfall in the pool is really neat. The hot tub was really hot and I didn't use the steam room but it looked nice from what I saw. They kept the towels very well stocked (we've been to places where they've run out over and over). There were teens who got a bit rowdy... but that isn't the hotel's problem.

Our one complaint would be the $5 per 24 hours charge for internet use in the room.

So it wasn't a resort or anything. But for being a "basic" hotel in the suburbs of Cincinnati.... we were so happy with it all! I'll be looking for Embassy Suites whenever we travel!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cincinnati Zoo

Prepare for picture overload!! We spent Friday at the Cincinnati Zoo. We arrived not long after they opened and stayed for about 4-5 hours. We did not see the entire zoo! We made the outer loops- saw most of the animals. But we skipped the Children's Zoo. And I know that is a great part of the Cincy Zoo. But we were so hot and exhausted by the end...
We were first greeted by this lovely macaw as we approached the reptile house. He put on quite a show for us- preening and ruffling his feathers.

Zach wasn't quite sure what to make of that bird being so close and large and... pretty.

Into the reptile house. It's a small rotunda with glass enclosed habitats for a variety of snacks and lizards. In the center live a few of these crocodiles...
And all around, in those glass enclosed habitats, are snakes and lizards of all sizes and colors!
We headed back outside and visited with the baboons. It was early still so they weren't doing much of anything.
Next stop was the Cat House. Yes, it is really called The Cat House. I remember when it was first built... it was such a big deal!! The assortment of cats, the size of the building, the habitats... the first unfortunate thing about our visit was that the Cat House now smells like The Litter Box. The next unfortunate thing was that visiting the cats post-breakfast and pre-lunch is apparently not the best time to visit. That is apparently naptime.
These little guys were very active. Actually- I guess they are females. Coatimundi, I think. And the males are seclusionary and the females are very social.
The gorilla habitat is big and incredible. There was a young gorilla, too. So cute and funny! This big guy below gave everyone a start when he lumbered back into this little cave-like spot and WHAM slammed his fist on the door... I assume a demand for food.
I have no clue what this little guy is called. But he is sooooo stinkin' cute!!
A ride on the many-animaled carousel
Can you believe that Teagan has such looooong legs??
The polar bear was putting on quite a show to beat the heat. Swimming from one corner, pushing off and swimming upside down near the water's surface, turning around on this log, diving down to the very bottom of the pool, pushing off the bottom and swimming back up to the starting point. Quite a crowd had gathered!
The giraffe area is really neat. We just missed the feeding time. But the observation is a double decker deck. When you first walk in, you are at eye level with the giraffes. Feeding spots (hay, grass) are right at your feet and the giraffes have no qualms with heading over and hanging out right by you! Both of these pics are without any zoom on the camera. They were literally this close to us!
Zach crashed for a nap so I held him while we took a short train ride around Swan Lake. Teagan enjoyed sitting with Daddy and seeing the fountain and some of the African Plains animals.
Then the ongoing misery of the heat set in. The sun had come out and it became miserable really fast. Zach was asleep in the stroller, we had our souvenirs purchased (a stuffed animal for each kid- and they are both still head-over-heels with them), and decided to stop for a drink and to review the map to see what was left to see.
Only one thing can take a child directly from "I don't wanna walk, I'm tired, I wanna leave..." to "I love you Mommy! You're the BEST!" in one breath- much to the humor of the cashier at the snack stand.
Cotton Candy.
Overall a good trip. I will try to get the video posted from my personal Zoo favorite- Gibbon Island. 2 giant bamboo structures and the gibbons (2 on each island) whoop and yell and shriek and swing and fly around their bamboo playground. We saw a lot more than what we took pictures of. And I look forward to going back when my kids are older and will want to learn about all the animals and habitats and such. It's bigger and has more exhibits than the Indianapolis Zoo. But our little Zoo has a lot of good stuff, too, and has things that Cincy doesn't (like our Oceans exhibit and our Dolphins). And maybe in a couple of years, it will be worthwhile to get a membership. Because the tickets were EXPENSIVE. Membership generally pays for itself with 2 trips.
Anyone remember the old PBS Zoo show? It was filmed at the Cincy Zoo and the theme song always sticks with me...
Zoo, zoo, zoo!
Come out to the
Zoo, zoo, zoo!