"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." ~ Benjamin Franklin

Orange is SOOOOOO My Color!

>> Friday, September 30, 2005

This is the newest skin care trend: tomato sauce mask.

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What? You don't believe me?

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All I can tell you for sure is that we had to take a bath after lunch!


Who started this anyway?

>> Thursday, September 29, 2005

Lars was, ahem, kind enough to tag us. The mission, to tell about various stages of your life. Hmmm. I think I figured out that I have moved 24 times in my life. Do you have a couple of days for me to go through my life story?

Well, once upon a time, or was it a midnight dreary?
While I wondered a little bleary
Over many a quaint and curious bottles of wine. [Hat tip - EAP]

Ten years ago; in a state far, far away; there lived a humble sergeant with (last name removed) on his name tag and a maroon beret on his head. He was the training NCO for a Long Range Surveillance unit on Fort Hood, Texas and drove a Ford Mustang convertible. Sergeant (last name removed) would spend his weekends visiting his parents and brother in Dallas or <smirk>enjoying himself in Austin. For those that don't know, 6th Street in Austin is a very fun place. It doesn't matter what type of scene or music you are in to, it's there. A fellow grunt, PFC Buster, came from Austin and sometimes we would go stay with his parents or at their lake house. His dad was a physician and owned a party-pad on Lake Travis for rental income. If it wasn't being rented, we could go. Saweeeeeet!

Hang on, we're zooming forward in time to the year 2000. I hope you didn't get sick by those two little bumps along the way. The first in 1996 when I left the Army and moved in with my brother in Dallas. The second little flicker you experienced was in 1998, when I moved to Iowa...for a woman<gasp!> Not the smartest thing I've done in my life, but then again, I wouldn't be married to the dream wife I have now if I hadn't.

But I digress and you're still wanting to know what's going on in 2000. Well, the woman<gasp!> was still around, but everyone and the cat knew we weren't going stay married. I ended up putting her through her BA and MA at Iowa State anyway because I'm a moron...I mean a nice guy.

Well, 4 years go by in a seeming instant and in 2004, Jody and I have hooked up and then hooked up again. If you know what I mean, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Jody is pregnant and we are trying to get everything ready for Brenna's grand entrance into the world. See, she wasn't even out of the womb and already controlling our lives.

This past year has been a blur of perfect little moments with Jody and Brenna. I cannot describe how deeply I love them and the life we have carved out for ourselves. We are all a sum of our experiences. You can't help but use that as a filter through which you see the world. It takes extra-ordinary circumstances or extra-ordinary people to break out of your nice and cozy pattern. Sometimes, with just right person at just the right time you can be more than just the sum of your experiences. You can smile all day long because your wife gave up her gift card for a 1/2 hour massage. You smile because your wife came to the client-site so you can show of the Princess to her adoring fans.

The 3 of us (maybe one more - sometime in the future) can face anything because we smile readily, bounce happily and aren't afraid to play peek-a-boo in front of perfect strangers...while dressed in tights, knee-high riding boots, a sword and a cavalier hat.

Songs I Know All The Words To:
Most Sesame Street songs
"The Army Goes Rolling Along" - I was the First Infantry Division "Soldier of the Year", I went to a lot of ceremonies where this was sung.
The Big Red One Song - Ditto


Things I would do with 100 million buckaroos.
An estate in the British Isles
Buy houses for siblings
Build a wind farm
Start a company to build turbine/electric cars.
Enjoy my family


I Don't Have Time For This

I have to frost a cake... do 2 loads of laundry... clean the house for a showing tomorrow and an open on Sunday... pack for the weekend...

OK, so Lars tagged me. Curses. Here goes...

10 years ago: September 1995
I was living in St Paul, MN. I had a Jeep Wrangler, probably had the top off... of the Jeep, you pervs.

5 years ago: September 2000
I owned my own house, had a couple of cars and worked alot of crazy hours. I wasn't dating anyone special... or anyone that I even remember. Maybe I've blanked it all out.

1 year ago: end September 2004
I was 8 months pregnant and ready to have the baby any time. I was huge! I was just sitting at home waiting to pop.

Ah, a wet, windy, cold day. I re-organized Brenna's closet; packed away stuff that was too small or out of season & dragged out the 12 month items. We bundled up and took Toby for a walk. I'm sure my day involved each of the following multiple times: diaper changes, pick up recycling, spices and assorted items from lower drawers, preparing food for meals & snacks & kissing boo-boos. I'm sure it also involved a game of catch-me-if-you-can (while crawling) and two short naps. And before you think my life is all fun & games I also did laundry, washed dishes and cleaned assorted rooms multiple times.

Five Songs I Know All The Words To:
Whiskey in the Jar (hell, many Irish pub songs)
Journey to Ernie (too much Sesame Street)
Rubber Duckie (Ditto)
The Batty Bat (And again...)
Dance Myself to Sleep (Should I stop with this theme)
Anything by Nickelback or Duran Duran
Crap, any 80's hard rock

Five snacks:

Chocolate Chip Cookies warm from the oven
Auntie Annies pretzels
Good dark chocolate
Mmmm, chocolate

Five things I'd do with 100 million dollars:

Buy an estate in the British Isles
Buy this house
Buy my siblings new homes and cars
Vacation for the rest of my life
Maybe let Doug quit working :)

Five places I'd run away to:


Five things I would never wear:

Socks with sandals
Bermuda shorts and Hawaiian shirts
Lettuce leaves as a protest against fur or leather
Clothes "designed" by a pop star
Anything by Pucci. Gack!

Five Favorite TV Shows:

Law & Order
Law & Order SVU
Crossing Jordan
The Closer (yes, I know it was a summer show, but it was good!)

Five Greatest Joys:

My marriage... my husband
My family
Hockey (I only say that because I got 1st row tickets to the first game of the season for the Iowa Stars!!)
Reading a really great book

Five Favorite Toys

Digital Camera
My dream dryer OK, so it's not my toy... yet.
Sewing machine

Current Reads:

The Enemy Within (Michael Savage)
Current issues of Parents, Readers Digest, Real Simple, Ireland of the Welcomes and Self. I'm a recovering magazine junkie. I had to give away my subscriptions because I just don't have time.
Teach Yourself Gaelic
Wicked Irish
Take Your Kids to Europe and other travel guides

Five People I'm Tagging to do this:

And you.
And you.
And you.
And anyone else.

OK, now back to work.


Another Busy Weekend On Tap

This time we're heading south. Almost to the Missouri border to Lesanville, a small farm community that disappeared during the Great Depression. It is being restored and has 2 turn of the century farm houses and a carriage house that serve as B&Bs, a church, a schoolhouse, a depot/general store and, of course, the farm. My siblings and I have arranged to rent an entire house for the weekend. Four couples, four children, one house.

Southwest Iowa has been in constant decline over the last few decades. It is mostly farm land and most young people leave as soon as possible. The majority of the population is over 50, family farms are disappearing and corporate farms are filling in the blanks. Unless you count the Amish that are moving in to the area; which adds a refreshing quaintness.

The closest town is Mt Ayr, a town with one stop light, one grocery store, one restaurant, half a dozen bars and at least that many churches. Our parents both went to school in Mt Ayr and all of our grandparents still live in the area. So we will spend some time visiting grandparents.

Otherwise we will be enjoying the fact that half of our cell phones won't work, we will have no internet access and no satellite TV. The big plan is to hang out, play games and celebrate Doug & Amanda's birthdays. Food, fun & family.

I think of all the people I know who don't enjoy their families and count myself lucky to call my siblings and their spouses "friends". I think that may be the best thing about living where we do... my family is close.


Florida Trip

My fears about the children flying were unfounded. We flew Allegiant Airlines direct from Des Moines to Sanford/Orlando. This was an inexpensive flight, and it was a straight shot. No layovers or stops anywhere! Both boys enjoyed being on the airplane. Takeoff and landing were no problem. Ethan slept for about 3/4 of the flight down, drifting off shortly after takeoff. Carter fell asleep just as the landing gear was coming down.

Carter had to use the airplane facilities mid-flight. Let me just say, I am not sure how anyone could join the mile high club. There was barely enough room for an adult and a 3 year old to maneuver in those tight quarters, but he managed to get the job done with no problems.

We spent the first night in Lake Mary (at a hotel) with Grandma & Grandpa. Our room had a king bed and a sofa sleeper. The boys slept in the 'big bed' with me, and daddy slept on the pull-out. Sleeping between 2 little boys is not very comfortable, but we all managed to get a little rest.

Monday morning on our way to Cape Coral, we stopped in Plant City at Dinosaur World. There were life-size replicas of many different species of dinosaurs complete with plaques listing name, proper pronunciation, where and when the dinosaurs were first unearthed. It was very interesting for adults, and the kids enjoyed themselves. There were some activities; a bone dig where kids could go into a large sandbox and dig & brush until they uncovered a whole dinosaur skeleton, a wall where you put your hands into holes to determine which dinosaur of 3 pictured is inside by touch only, and a nice playground.

After that, we finished our drive to Cape Coral. Just north of Cape Coral is Port Charlotte. I am not sure which hurricane devastated that area last year, but we saw many blue tarps on rooftops and the trailer city where folks who have not been able to move back into their homes yet are temporarily located. A couple from my in-laws' church (lawyers) JUST moved back into their home from the trailer city 2 weeks ago, so the length of stay in the trailer city does not depend on income level.

We had never seen the in-laws new home (moved in last fall), and we were pleasantly surprised. There was a bedroom for the kids complete with daybed and trundle, a queen bed for us in another bedroom, and the in-laws room was clear across the house from ours. It was almost like having a private wing. And the pool was heavenly, considering the temperature hovered between 90 and 95 with high humidity thanks to Hurricane Rita dumping rain on us every afternoon.

Tuesday and Wednesday we spent a lot of time around Cape Coral. Visiting with friends and relatives, going to parks, and playing in the pool. Mostly relaxing.

Thursday we were treated to a boat ride in the bays near Sanibel Island and Pine Island by some friends of the in-laws. There was a small craft warning in the Gulf of Mexico, so we stayed pretty close to land. Being one of the few boats on the water, we managed to attract 3 groups of dolphins. They like to play in the wakes created by boaters, so we saw a pretty good show. The boys were very impressed!

Friday we went to the zoo in Naples. It's not a huge zoo, but they have a lot of scheduled 'shows'. We saw "Meet the Keeper" with kangaroos and heard all about them. We were allowed to pet a baby alligator (the handler had a firm grasp on it). We took the catamaran ride around the primate islands to see gibbons, spider monkeys (including an 8 month old baby), and lemurs. We fed the fish and turtles in the lagoon. It took just the right amount of time for small children.

Saturday we lounged around and played in the pool. It was actually sunny!

Sunday we traveled most of the day and came home to 70 degree weather. It was a fun week, but it'a always nice to come home!


I Feel Like I'm 16

>> Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Or at least my face does. I have never in my life had so many zits. Every day new eruptions. My chin, my cheeks, my eyebrows. Nothing is spared.

And these aren't just any zits. These are painful zits, each connected to it's own nerve ending. Small zits that appear and disappear within a day; large cystic zits; and everything in between.

I know this is all due to hormones and the changes my body is going through as it tries to get back to normal. But it sucks! I didn't have zits as a teenager. I don't want to have them now.

So I am trying every option available. Of course none of them help because this is not a skin issue, it's a hormonal issue.

But you can bet that if it hasn't cleared up by the time the stuff I am using now is gone I will be visiting a nice dermatologist to get it under control.

I suppose I should check my insurance to see if it is covered... ;)


Brenna's Good Shopping Day

>> Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Honestly, is there anything going on in my life other than Brenna? Hmmm, let me think... Nope, not much. Which is the whole point of staying at home, huh?

I was feeling a bit house-bound this morning and called my sister to see what she and Ethan were planning to do while Carter was at preschool. She needed to run to the mall to pick up some jewelry she took in for it's annual check. So Brenna & I tagged along.

First Jen wanted to take Ethan in to Old Navy to look at Halloween costumes. Let's see... Pumpkin, nope. Race car driver, nope. Purple dragon, nope. Jen nixed the fairy costume. LOL.

So we went across the hall to The Children's place. More pumpkins, nope. Pretty yellow flower? Nope. Pink butterfly? Not a chance. Ethan wasn't giving up any hints. Jen had decided on black skeleton PJs with glow-in-the-dark bones when Ethan blurted out "I want to be Superman." So, there it is. Back went the PJs.

Meanwhile, I was spinning through the sale racks. Brenna scored a fancy denim skirt and matching hat with a coordinating shirt, a poncho (which I hate on women, but soooo cute on babies!) and a pair of PJs. All on sale. I have 2 coupons for 15% off at Children's Place good October 7-30 if anyone wants them. Let me know.

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Afterwards we let the kids play in the play area; until some parents left their kids there unsupervised. Honestly, what were these parents thinking? There is a large sign that says you are not to leave your children. What if they were hurt? Or taken? Neither of those things happened while we were there. No, those kids were just rude; pushing smaller kids out of the way, blocking the slide so noone could use it, being rude to the parents who tried to get them to behave. It's no wonder some children have no manners; their parents obviously don't either. Grrr...

And that was the highlight of my day. How was yours?



A Marine, just back from Iraq marches in front of the Communist sponsored, anti-war march in DC


Weekend Report

>> Monday, September 26, 2005

I'm sure most of you have been waiting all day to hear about the reception Princess Brenna received in her chariot. Let me just say that the compliments far exceeded what I expected.

People came up to us to talk about it; people asked to photograph it- and us with it; we heard people comment about how cool it was as we walked by. And, by far the best compliment, we were approached by members of the Royal Party (who noticed us as the Royal Procession passed) and Brenna was given a gold coin and a ribbon proclaiming her a Citizen of the Realm. How cool is that?

The day started with rain and thunder but soon cleared to become perfect; not too hot, not too cool. A little bit of mud only brings out the zaniness of the performers.

Here Brenna peruses the offerings at this year's faire. We enjoyed waffles stuffed with sausage, soup in a bread bowl, Scotch eggs and apple dumplings.

Jarod & Doug enjoyed the Royal Wine Tasting; an hour of wine and entertainment. Amanda had her handwriting analyzed and her palm read. Brenna played with straw outside the Gypsy camp. I had a Woodchuck Hard Cider and waited.

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Brenna & I did stroll about while everyone else was busy. We encountered this friendly unicorn who entertained Brenna with a game of peekaboo.

Here is Brenna with Uncle Jarod at the entrance to the Enchanted Forest. Along this wooded trail are the fairy houses. At the end of the trail is a small waterfall, pond and garden. It's really well done. What do you think of Jarod's tights?

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I think we have made a convert out of Jarod. This was the first year he had gone to the Faire in costume. I think he is looking to have a more elaborate outfit for next year.

We rounded out our weekend with a quick stop at IKEA. I love this "egg" chair:

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We crossed the street and had lunch at the Mall of America. Bubba Gump Shrimp. Yum...

And, for those of you who care, the MOA has an H&M now... YIPPEE!!!!


The Princess in Her Chariot

>> Friday, September 23, 2005

I finished it last night. Finally. It wasn't a difficult task, but the hand beading took forever... especially since I am having an issue with tendonitis in my right hand. But I think it turned out beautifully.

Here is just a reminder of what the wagon looks like normally...

And here it is disguised as a deluxe chariot fit for a princess...

Complete with parasol with net to block bugs and some sun...

Look at that beading. The beads really finished the parasol.

I even made seat covers. Sweet ride, huh?

I anticipate many comments and compliments. To which I will smile humbly and say, "Oh, it was nothing."


Getting Big

>> Thursday, September 22, 2005

Step right up and get yer videos, yes, we have videos of the Princess in action.

First off, for the low price of several minutes of your bandwidth, I offer you proof that Princess likes to play peek-a-boo with Mommy and Daddy.
Pick Quicktime .MOV (7.6 Mb) or
Media Player .MPG (6.0 Mb)

Look, two for the price of one!

But wait; there's more!

She bounces, she squirms, she smiles readily for the camera, and (drum roll), she is walking with the Hungry Hippo! Ta-da!
Your choice in a tasty Quicktime .MOV (16.7 Mb) or
a tantalizing Media Player .MPG (12.4 Mb)

Now, don't be shy, plenty to go 'round for everyone. Share them with your friends!


My List

We are taking a weekend break to Minnesota for the Renaissance Festival and a side trip to IKEA. I have so much to do...

Yes, I should be doing this now, but I am waiting on my lunch to finish in the oven, so I have a few minutes.

1) Pack costumes for fest & clothes for Sunday
2) Finish sewing the beads onto the parasol cover & make seat covers for wagon
3) A trip to the store for dog food, sandwich stuff & snacks for the drive
4) A trip to the bank to cash in Brenna's change (it is in the wooden basket I use as a purse for Renaissance)
5) Clean the house in case someone wants to see it while we are gone
6) Take Toby to my brother's
7) Make list so I don't forget to do anything
8) Bake mini banana breads because bananas are over ripe

I know there's more... I just can't remember what. I'm sure it will come to me... When we are half way to MN.

OK, lunchtime. Then back to work. Unless Brenna wakes up from her nap early.



My family & I are in Florida visiting my in-laws. We're in Cape Coral, just north of Ft. Myers. We were all watching the local news program Monday evening to catch the latest on Hurricane Rita. We were well out of harm's way, but the folks in the Keys were in the path. There were all kinds of morons in the water surfing because the waves were huge. There was another dude riding his bike on a pier when a big wave hit it. He was lucky he wasn't washed overe the edge. Apparently inclement weather brings out the morons in hiding.

That's all for now!


And The Winner Is...

>> Tuesday, September 20, 2005

F**cing Blogger. I had a long moment-by-moment post. Gone. All gone. Bastards. And I couldn't even post this until this morning.

*sigh* JD won. But they gave Marty a solo career. I guess that's something.

But MiG... honestly... he was a fan favorite til the end. I think the band made a mistake.

MiG chose Bohemian Rhapsody for his song. Not a wise choice. He didn't perform it as well as I had hoped. It needed more drama. JD sang You Can't Always Get What You Want; and overdid it, in my opinion. It was like Elvis met the Stones. And Marty did Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here. Which probably didn't do him any good; INXS already knew he could sing it.

Grrr, I am just not happy with the results. I guess I haven't bought an INXS CD in 20 years... a few more won't kill me.

Be ready for the tabloids... Temper, turmoil & trouble... I hope JD's true colors come out on tour in a big, bad way. (insert evil laugh)


The End Is Near

>> Monday, September 19, 2005

The Rock Star: INXS finale is Tuesday. Here's my breakdown:

JD: I still can't like this guy. He just seems to me like he's playing a game, you can never tell when you are getting the "real" guy. Is the real JD the schemer from the beginning of the season or the laid back singer we see now? Has he learned to play well with others? I just don't think so. Although he pulled out a good showing at the song writing clinic I think that him showing up without fully formed ideas may have hurt his chances. I think INXS still has doubts about him. It looks like he has chosen "You Can't Always Get What You Want" for his final song. Hmmm...

Marty: Wow, has he become impressive. It really looks to me like he is favored to win. I'm not sure if it will be a wise move- for him. INXS is obviously impressed by him, quite rightly. But I hear the music he writes and the music he gravitates toward and I just think he is too alternative for this band. Is there room for the "scary conductor"? Or the Marty who screams the lyrics? Marty also has very distinct ideas about the future of INXS. How would he react if those weren't followed? He chose "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd as his final song. He did that one just a few weeks ago. I understand that he chose it because it earned him accolades; I just wonder if he shouldn't have chosen something he hasn't done, something that might show INXS another side of him. And, in my opinion, if he were going to do a song he had already done "Hit Me Baby One More Time" was far more impressive to me.

MiG: Obviously a fan favorite, he was not in the bottom 3 until last week. And I think he only ended up there because INXS hinted so heavily that he needed to be. Otherwise I think he could have gone the entire show without being there. I honestly think that if it were up to the fans MiG would be the new lead singer. Well, he would if it were up to me. He has a great voice, plays well with others and can take constructive criticism. He is also the only one of the group who is well rehearsed at playing in front of thousands of people and performing night after night after night. His "I'm a really nice guy" persona gets mentioned a lot and that may be his downfall. Or it may be his saving grace. This gig is only good for one album and one tour. If you prove to be a problem the band can cut you... Hmmm... something for JD & Marty to think about. It appears that MiG has chosen "Bohemian Rhapsody" for his final song. It's something he would know well, having been the lead in "We Will Rock You", but I wonder if it is really what he will perform. That seemed to have been left hanging.

Tuesday night, 9pm, CBS. I'll TiVo it and start watching about 20 minutes in. That way I can skip commercials but still catch the end when everyone else does.

Any other thoughts out there?


My Hobbies

>> Friday, September 16, 2005

I may be a busy stay at home mom but I try to find time for a few things that I enjoy.

If money were no object I would travel extensively. I'm very fortunate in the places I've been. I've had the great fortune of traveling to many places in the US, both destinations like the Florida Keys and San Francisco and the off-the-beaten-path places like Steeleville, Missouri (there is an amazing B&B there) and Guthrie, Oklahoma. I've been overseas only twice (three times soon!) to Ireland and London. I love exploring new places, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. I just saw an episode of Passport to Europe. I want to visit Belgium now.

I am also a voracious reader. I can remember reading cereal boxes as a kid while I ate breakfast. I have the great ability to absorb what I read like a sponge. I have so much information floating around in my brain. Usually I am reading 2 or 3 books at a time. One for fun, one for information and one to learn. I just finished my fun book, a Nora Roberts romance, I am reading The Enemy Within by Michael Savage and am attempting to learn a bit of Gaelic before our vacation. Not an easy language. Not to mention the blogs I am addicted to (But don't seem to have time to visit lately!)

Sewing is something I enjoy. I didn't used to. In fact, I once swore I would never learn. I remember my mom making our clothes; especially jeans. She had this deluxe sewing machine with special plates for fancy stitching. It could even do lettering. I know she made at least one pair of jeans with my name on the pocket. This was back in the day when everyone wore Gloria Vanderbilt. I was so not cool. But now I am glad that she instilled the art of creating in me. Not that I make clothes; but I did make Brenna's crib bedding and I sew our Renaissance costumes. Right now I am transforming a wagon into a chariot for the princess. It's almost done; I made the pattern myself. I'll be sure to share it next week.

Scrapbooking is my newest hobby. Once a month my sister, SIL & GFIL (girlfriend in law) gather at Archivers for Scrap Mania and scrapbook from 5-11pm. Yes, I have the stuff to do this at home, but I don't get the chance. Besides, it is so nice to have an entire store at your disposal. You can be so much more creative. And there is noone to interrupt you. We are gathering tonight, minus my sister who is busy packing for a trip. I will be making invitations for Brenna's first birthday.

So, there you have it. My hobbies. Just in case you ever want to get me a gift...



>> Thursday, September 15, 2005

I realized yesterday that it had been quite a while since I took any pictures of Brenna. And even longer since I shared any. So, for those of you who need a fix, here's some pics:

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Is this not an adorable outfit? Brenna's great-grandmother gave it to her last November. I was afraid she would outgrow it before the weather turned cool enough to wear it! Brenna is standing on her own now and taking a few steps- as long as she has a grip on something!

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She is daddy's girl.

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Here is one of Brenna's favorite hobbies: sorting through the recycling to make sure mommy hasn't thrown out something good. Doesn't she look intent on her task?


What Time is It?

>> Wednesday, September 14, 2005

9:09pm. Honestly? Where did my day go? I know I was busy all day.
Beginning at 7am:
Get Brenna out of bed, fix her breakfast (fresh fruit, cereal & yogurt).
Make Doug's coffee (freshly ground, of course) and put together his lunch (otherwise he'll eat crap).
I had a banana.
Brenna & I went biking.
We came home.
I gave her a snack (milk & graham crackers).
I cleaned the kitchen.
I made Brenna lunch (veggies, hot dog & fresh fruit)
I put Brenna down to nap.
She screamed for 15 minutes until she was gasping.
I rocked her for another 15 minutes before I put her back down.
I took a quick shower.
I had a quick lunch (I can't even remember what it was!)
I looked in on Brenna; she was sitting up in her crib smiling & playing.
I don't know if she even slept.
I made her a snack (diluted juice and apple cinnamon cheerios).
We played with toys and watched some Sesame Street.
Brenna pulled the spices out of the corner cupboard; I cleaned ground white pepper out of the kitchen rug.
I packed Brenna in the stroller & leashed Toby and we took a walk.
Tried to put Brenna down for another nap. No dice.
We read books.
Another snack for Brenna (applesauce and cheese).
I cleaned the kitchen & living room.
Brenna dirtied them again.
Time for Brenna's dinner (green beans and half a cheese quesilladilla)
The realtor came; we put an offer on a house (contingent to the sale of ours, of course).
Doug came home; we signed papers.
I made our dinner (spinach & cheese ravioli)
Brenna wasn't impressed.
We get Brenna ready for bed; into the crib by 7:30ish.
I crash on the couch; veg, watch Rock Star: INXS. Am shocked Suzie is sent home. I really thought it would be JD.
And now it's almost 9:30. I should clean the kitchen (yes, again), pick up toys (yes, again), read blogs that I haven't seen in days...
And all I want to do is crawl in bed and sleep.

Actually, I think I will do just that. I will leave you with pictures of the house we made the offer on. You should be able to scroll through them. It's a 1 1/2 story with a walk out basement, 20' ceilings in the main living room, 2 fireplaces and a lovely back yard. Also just as close to my sister's house as we are now. XXfingers crossedXX

Good night.


The Countdown Continues

>> Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Two months. Sixty days. Counting down to Ireland. And since I have nothing to chat about today I'm going to share a few photos from my last trip.

Ireland is a most magical place. I visited places where I felt that I wasn't alone; I was sure I wasn't alone. Do these photos convince you?

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This photo was taken at a churchyard in Tralee. This photo was taken mid-morning. The day was overcast and grey. So where did the dark blue sky come from? How about the floating orbs?

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Another churchyard photo. This one was just outside of Killarney. Again, an overcast day. Notice the two orbs on the left? How about the light coming up from the stones. FYI: it wasn't visible to me when I took the photo.

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This is the ancient Christian cross at Kilmalkedar Church. Funny fog on the left, anyone?



Random Thought

>> Monday, September 12, 2005

We live within a mile of the high school. I just looked out my window and saw many young girls running through my neighborhood. Track team? Cross country?

My first thought was how lucky the girls were that Toby wasn't outside. Oh, I can just imagine the barking if he were.

My second thought was how fortunate the guy delivering the mail must feel right now. Those girls do have on some short shorts.



Karnival of Kidz!

Welcome to Karnival of Kidz #21! WooHoo!

Boys rule this week's Karnival- with one lonely little girl. At least she's got some adorable company!

School has begun so let's begin with that. Here's Jen's (from Iowa Geek) son ready to tackle his first day of school. And little brother's reaction when he doesn't get to go! Someday, when the little one is playing sick & not wanting to go to school Jen will have to dig that out!

Next we will venture back in time to Shakey Pete's childhood. Such a big smile! "The flowers were as high as a 3-year-old's eye."

PrimoDonna usually shares photos of her daughter, but this week she has a couple of her son. The second one looks like it could put him in a precarious position if anything goes amiss.

VWshares 3000 words worth of pictures. What more can I say?

And, finally, Miss Brenna, joined by her cousins, having fun outdoors. No better way to spend a summer evening.

Thanks for joining us for this week's Karnival. There are lots of ways to play. Visit the KOK blog to learn more. BTW, there are no scheduled hosts for the next two weeks. Join in the fun... be a host!


Inside 9/11

>> Sunday, September 11, 2005

Today is the anniversary of 9/11. As our nation becomes more angry over troubles following Hurricane Katrina (which I won't go into here as this is not the time nor place) I ask everyone to remember how we pulled together, all of us American, without finger pointing and race-baiting, to heal.

Let's remember. Take a minute, say a prayer of thanks and healing to your God. Never forget.

As we listened to Brenna scream herslef to sleep from the comfort of our room (it took 7 minutes) Doug turned on the TV and a show on The National Geographic Channel caught his eye. It was Inside 9/11.

So well done. It was done very recently, as it includes information about the London bombings, as well as other attacks that took place after 9/11. And, quite rightly, it begins with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. It also includes information that was not released until after the 9/11 commission finished their report.

I appreciate that National Geographic let the story tell itself with the only opinions injected being the opinions of those who were there. Bravo, NG!

I honestly believe that every American needs to see this, to be reminded. Go to the website. Read the interviews, look at the photographs. And, if you want to see the show, let me know. I'll get a copy to you. Yes, it is probably illegal for me to provide it, but as long as I'm not charging for it... And I think it is that important that as many people see this as possible.

Even though the mantra after 9/11 was We Will Never Forget I think that too many have.


A Way to Help Locally- URGENT

>> Friday, September 09, 2005

I received an urgent email from a Stefanie- a visitor to our blog and a friend. A local church drove to New Orleans and brought back approximately 44 persons who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

What is so desperately needed are car seats for the kids. Most of these people don't have cars, but the generous people who have been providing transportation don't have car seats for the children. Baby seats, car booster seats for the bigger kids.

If you have seats to donate-that means free- leave me a comment or drop an email to Stefanie at running (at) runninggroup (dot) com. If you leave a comment for me I will arrange to pick up the donations.

Right now this is the only request I have, although I am sure that the church will accept any cash donations. Again, just drop Stefanie an email and she will direct you to the church organization.

Thank you in advance for anything you can do. Donate a seat... link this post... pass this on. And if any of my local blog friends could send their readers to this post... Thank you!


Karnival of the Kidz

>> Thursday, September 08, 2005


I promised to host the Karnival of Kidz this coming Monday. I have been so busy I haven't played in weeks! And now I have to host!

Help me!!!

Get those entries in. It's back to school time- I know you all have fun stuff to share.

Submitting your entry is easy! You can visit Conservative Cat and fill out her Carnival Entry Form. OR you can email your link to karnival(dot)kidz(at)gmail(dot)com.


The Karnival needs hosts. You may volunteer your time and considerable talents at the above email address or by visiting Karnival of Kidz.

What are you waiting for? Find a great link for me to play with!!! GO!


Rock Star : INXS

So, I was right about Jordis going last night. Not a shock- she is really not right for INXS. Did anyone catch what Dave Navarro said- about them performing together soon? I told my brother & Amanda that I think Dave will produce a solo album for Jordis. Anyone else think that's a safe bet?

Also, did you catch her saying to the final 4 that she would see them in 2 weeks? I wonder how many will be back for the finale?

So, that leaves Marty, MiG, Suzie & JD.

I think Marty is just too alternative for INXS. He'll do better as a solo act, as well. And he'll get to scream all he wants.

Although Suzie has become an amazing performer I just don't see INXS with a female lead.

I still can't help but dislike JD. I don't think he showed INXS any respect by going into the studio unprepared. He has also shown that he doesn't collaborate well when things aren't going his way. Those two instances alone should keep INXS from picking him. Besides, I think he's an ass.

So, my vote goes to MiG. He hasn't been in the bottom 3 yet, so he will be a popular choice. He has proven to have a great range with the songs he has performed. INXS was impressed with his take on their new song. He's an Aussie. And, he's all kinds of sexy. :P

Who do you think will win?


Star Light, Star Bright

>> Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I wish our damn truck would be stolen tonight.

Ugh. I spent almost my entire day away from home. You see, we have been having an issue with our Exploder (HA! Explorer, but we keep hoping it will explode) Anyway, back in March we experienced what felt like a loss of power, or slipping. We thought it might be in the fuel line. We had the fuel filter replaced. No luck.

So we took it to the dealership that sold us this piece of crap. They hooked it up to a computer, said they got no signs of anything wrong and charged me $100.


So I took it to a local mechanic. The hooked it up to a computer- despite my protests that it had already been done & they wouldn't find anything- and found nothing. But they did go along on a drive with me, they did feel the problem I described, but they had no idea what it was. They suggested a fuel system flush.

Which can only be done at the dealership.

So I called another Ford dealer, made the appointment, took the truck in. By this time it's the middle of June. I take the truck in and spend approximately 30 minutes explaining the problem to the very nice service manager. He hooks it up to a computer which tells him nothing. (I told him. Noone listens to me.) They test drive it. Thankfully the truck acts up.

I spend about 3 hours at the dealership as they replace almost everything possible- including the main computer that runs the damn truck- and nothing works. I am given a lovely Taurus to drive for the next 3 days.

So, after 3 days it is decided that the problem is the cylanoid. It is replaced and the truck seems to be ok. I fork over $700+.

Hop forward to 2 weeks later. The truck begins acting up again... doing the exact same thing. But, as an added bonus, it is also grinding. I call the dealership. I take the truck in. They hook it up to their computer. Nuthin'. They drive it. Nuthin'.

Repeat above scenario two more times.

Last weekend a Ford representative calls to me see if we have heard about the Ford special offers. I rip him up one side and down the other. Half an hour later his boss calls me. I read him the riot act, as well. The second guy was going to see if there was anything to be done about getting me out of this stupid vehicle. I never heard back from him.

And, finally, today. Take the truck in. Nuthin' on their stupid little computer diagnostic equipment. But, they have recreated the problem.

I wait.

Brenna gets fussy.

Still no word.

We walk to Big Lots. Brenna gets sippy cups and socks.

I call the dealership. Still no ideas.

We walk to the mall (about 3 miles away).

The dealership calls. They say the problem is that the front tires are new and the back tires aren't. Because of the difference the sensors think the truck is on slick pavement and are trying to switch to 4 wheel drive. New rear tires will fix the problem.

WHAT??? OK, fine. New tires. Whatever. Tires must be picked up. No estimate on time.

OK, so Brenna plays in the play area, we have lunch in the food court, Brenna gets some clothes at Old Navy, I have a bad shopping day, Brenna plays in play area again, Brenna gets fussy, Brenna finally falls asleep, we walk to Hobby Lobby as I have been in the mall for 4 hours and have had enough.

We are leaving Hobby Lobby & I get the call that the truck is fixed. I demand to be picked up from the store.

I return to the dealership. I ask about the $700+ I forked over in June for a cylanoid. I am informed that it fixed one problem; this was a separate problem. Oh really? Seemed like the same problem to me. Honestly, I spent half an hour going over & over the timeline with the service manager. He didn't change his stance.

I spend $301 on two new tires.

I told him that he had better hope he doesn't see me any time soon. I believe I also mentioned a match and a big kaboom.

Ugh. Too stressed. I'm gonna go see who got kicked off Rock Star: INXS & relax. I'm betting it's Jordis...


What $30.00 can get you...

On our way home from the family bike ride/cookout on Sunday, my bicycle fell off the bike rack on the car (it's a women's bike and it's a pain in the rear to get on the bike rack for a number of reasons). We were traveling at around 60 mph when it took a tumble. After securing the bike to the rack again, we took it home a bit more slowly than before.

At home, I discovered the back wheel was bent, shifting gears made the chain fall off, the seat and one of the grips were kinda shredded. I took the bike to the shop in town where it was purchased about 5 years ago. The guy told me he would call with an estimate before performing the required work.

When I returned from playgroup today, there was a message on my home machine asking if they could go ahead with the work. They said it would cost $30.00 plus tax. Hee hee. I was expecting A LOT more. He said "it needs a lot of little things, but they all add up" and "you're really lucky it wasn't a complete loss" since it fell off going 60 mph. I should be biking again in a few days!


School Days

>> Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Today is the first day of preschool for my big boy. He was so excited to go. He likes his teacher and they have 2 huge Napa semi-trucks for him to play with. Here's his school picture.

And here's little brother's reaction on the way home when he realized he doesn't get to go to school yet. I felt kind of sorry for him...


Come On

>> Monday, September 05, 2005

I just put Brenna to bed. I have the baby monitor in my office just in case she cries as I am in the basement and she is on the second level. Celtic lullabies are playing softly and I hear Brenna rolling around. Then, clear as day, I hear, "Come on," said in a fun, light voice.

No, I did not imagine it. No, there was no static or interference on the monitor.
We have a singing ducky in Brenna's bathroom. It's one of those stuffed ones that you pull a cord to make it play. Except we don't have to pull the cord. It plays.

Yes, I've replaced the batteries. It plays alone. Yes, I've removed the batteries. It still plays.

Jarod & Amanda stayed the other night. Amanda was awaken by something knocking on the bedroom door. She looked at the clock; saw the time was 4:51. She looked again and realized that Jarod had covered the clock- she couldn't see it. She grabbed her cell phone, checked the time: 4:51. Toby growled. Amanda covered her head & went back to sleep.

Our little ghostie is certainly making her presence known lately. At least she seems friendly.


A response to Sara's Comment

>> Saturday, September 03, 2005

I had this comment waiting for me today. So I thought I would answer her question and let a few of my readers chime in, as well.

I am interested on your take regarding the relief effort for Hurricane Katrina. I do not want to play politics when people's lives are at stake, but I am interested in a Republican's ideas on it.

Sara- first, let me state that I am an Independent. My politics don't follow lines, they follow my beliefs and morals.

I think that the relief efforts have been pretty amazing. I really think that too much attention has been paid to New Orleans and the problems there and not enough has been paid to the other areas that have been destroyed. Have we heard about rapes and killings in Mississippi? Did we hear about them in Florida last year? No.

New Orleans was the epicenter of the crisis, but the devastation spread across the Gulf Coast, from Louisiana to Mississippi and even Alabama. Hurricane Katrina struck some areas of Mississippi even harder than New Orleans was hit, and Mississippians felt as if they were being forgotten.

“We’re suffering over here too, but we’re not killing each other," Richard Gibbs said in Gulfport, Miss. “We’ve got to help each other. We need gas and food and water and medical supplies.”

Taking necessary items (food, water, diapers, even toys to keep the kids entertained) I completely understand. Looting for jewelry & TVs; that is pure greed. I've heard the argument that the people could pawn them for cash. I think that's an excuse for very bad behavior. But lets get past the looting to the killing and rapes. What is the point of that? There is no excuse for that kind of behavior. None.

People make the situation what it is. And it seems that many people in New Orleans are making a bad situation worse. Not all of them. Not even a majority. I can't understand why so many people have to make a bad situation worse by pointing out what has gone wrong. Yes, things could have been more organized. But, the hurricane didn't actually hit New Orleans and noone knew the levee would break. So the attention was focused elsewhere. The mayor had ordered an evacuation. Many people chose not to leave. That was their choice. Yes, many people in the area are very poor. But the Superdome was offered as shelter. Many people didn't go there, either. Yes, the Dome isn't the greatest place to be, but the people who are cramped in there are certainly doing better than those who are still stuck in their attics... or those who died.

Focusing on negatives over positives can only make a bad situation worse. I truly think that our National Guard, firefighters, police officers, doctors, nurses and ordinary citizens have done an amazing job of rescuing and caring for those who have been stranded and injured. Both the Superdome and the Convention Center have been cleared out. If the estimates were correct and there were close to 45,000 people in those two locations alone (I got this information from this article) then I have to say that the relief efforts have been pretty amazing.

As far as the government helping, yes, it should; and it is. But I truly believe that people need to take responsibility for themselves, as well. You always have a choice. It may not be much of a choice, but it is a choice. Too much time is spent blaming others; looking at the glass half empty. Maybe if we all spent more time trying to fix what we have done wrong ourselves instead of waiting for the government to step in and fix it we would find that the glass is really half full.

Let me finish by saying that hindsight is really the only thing that is 20/20 and it is very easy to criticize after the fact.


No Thyme on My Hands

>> Friday, September 02, 2005

But there is some on my kitchen floor... Brenna's new favorite playthings are spices. Specifically, small Tones spices....

Wonderful garage sale-ing today. I spent just under $13 and got (for Brenna) 2 corduroy jumper outfits, a denim Mikey Mouse vest, a lavendar Old Navy fleece vest, an adorable sweater/leggings outfit, the cutest cream colored jacket with leopard print kittens, cuff & collar, 5 pair of tights for winter and the Fisher Price Gobble & Go Hippo. I'm almost giddy about that last item.

Gas went up another 10 cents. I am still avioding filling the Explorer. I'll have to do it Sunday, though. Crap. Maybe I'll make Doug do it...

So much yet to do today. Brenna just went down for her nap which gives me maybe 2 hours. I should get busy.

But, before I go, another photo from my trip to Ireland in 2002.

Behold, the Cilff of Insanity. (Anyone?) Actually the Cliffs of Moher. It was overcast when I got there but when the sun came out everything was golden for just a moment. I'm not an overly religious person, but at that moment I really think I felt God. I don't think I have ever seen anything so magnificient.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

BTW, the small specks on top of the cliff, kind of to the left... those are people. Perspective, huh?



>> Thursday, September 01, 2005

Besides the rising fuel prices and the looting in the Big Easy, here are a few articles that caught my eye today:

David Limbaugh: Let's Quit Confusing the Issues
He is calling for people to stop allowing the anti-war left to propagate their lies and misrepresentations of recent history. I agree with the sentiment.

Registering to vote on the Iraqi Constitution
John Kerry thinks that standing in line is the same as disenfranchisement. Coming from someone who is used to walking from their limo to the front of the line, I'm sure it seems that way to him. However, what does he think about people, including a large number of women, standing in line in Iraq in order to vote on their Constitution in October?

Wretchard: True Believers
Comparing French Socialists' appeasement to Hitler to today's left appeasement to Islamic extremists. Based on Paul Berman's recent book Terror and Liberalism.

Charles Mann: America's pristine myth. Life in the Western Hemisphere before Columbus landed. This one retorts the "Indians lived with nature" meme. Sure they lived with nature; and most tribes farmed, set up game preserves, fished on a large scale, created man-made dams, islands, fortifications, burial mounds and other things to make the land serve man. Indians didn't have the same technology as Europeans as it relates to gunpowder and shipbuilding, but they would have gotten there. The handful of Native American Indians I've known get tired of people trying to ask them questions about life on the plains, living in a teepee, etc. The city-folk weren't willing to believe that their anscestors lived in adobe houses, farmed, and traded surplus with people hundreds of miles away. One of the side effects of poorly written Westerns in the 40's and 50's.

Here's another thing you might not know. The Europeans brought with them their diseases. The same diseases that wiped out 25-30% of Europe the century prior. Diseases like smallpox and plague, that, in some cases, wiped out Native American villages to where 25-30% of the village remained. It is because of this fact that early European settlers thought they had a "Manifest Destiny" to settle the continent. Wherever those early Europeans went, death followed, not by guns and violence, or even intent, but by a handshake, a sneeze and a cough.


$2.99 a gallon

I Just. Can't. Do. It.

I cannot bring myself to take the Explorer to the gas station and fill it. I'm guessing it will be close to $70. Luckily anything I might really need to do is within biking distance. Brenna and I biked to the post office this morning, then over to Jen's. The grocery store is only a couple of blocks farther. And with the trailer Brenna rides in I have plenty of room to tote stuff along.

I actually cancelled our weekend plans. To just drive, stay in a hotel & put Toby in a kennel it was going to cost almost $300. And that didn't include food, shopping or any kind of fun! YIKES!

Is this what it will take for us (Americans) to realize what most of Europe knows? Trains... Light rail... Small cars... No semis... More bicycles... Motorcycles... Mopeds...

When we were in London 2 1/2 years ago Smart cars were everywhere. I think we may just now be getting them in the US. And, honestly, I would almost be afraid to drive them here. You would need an orange safety flag just to be seen.

What about ethanol? It has been available for years. Why hasn't more been done with it, and other alternative fuels? Hmmm, maybe because the oil companies block every move?


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