Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Valentine's Day Kiss

What would life be without sisters?
We recently had pictures taken of the girls (supposedly for Valentine's Day presents...). After we finished Ally's pictures we took some of Emma. After a few pictures, Ally couldn't take being out of the spotlight any longer. We asked her to give Emma a kiss. This is that picture.
The "third sister" is Kelsey, Emma's favorite baby doll and imaginary friend. She's in the picture because Emma wouldn't part with her. They have many wonderful adventures together. I often hear about Emma's day from Kelsey's point of view. Why Kelsey? There have been two special Kelsey's in Emma's life - my cousin and Trista's niece. My cousin Kelsey played with Emma on the trampoline and played soccer with her during a visit to Detroit last summer. Emma still calls the mini soccer ball from Kelsey "My Kelsey ball." Trista's niece visited with us just before Allison was born. Trista's sister Bobbie and her family live in Waynesboro. They drove to Roanoke to visit Trista, Abby and Ethan when Trista came down to help me. Kelsey took Abby and Emma through the McDonald's Play Land. She was a big hit.

Friday, February 24, 2006

When Toddlers Turn

Allison has all of her baby teeth now with the exception of the canines and two-year molars. He canines are now coming in. I remember reading or hearing somewhere during Emma’s infancy and toddler hood that those are the most painful. I don’t remember them being difficult for Emma, but Allison is having a hard time with them. From out of no where she will say, “Ow” and start to moan or cry. It’s especially startling when she goes from being perfectly happy to wailing in no time flat. Before meals and bedtime I have been giving her Baby Orajel using my finger. I did the same thing with Emma. After she got used to the taste and understood the association between me putting that on my finger and her tooth pain going away, she has opened her mouth wide like a baby bird. Wednesday night before I put her to bed, I got out the Baby Orajel again just like any other night. I finished applying it to the last canine space when she clamped down on my fingertip as hard as she could. That’s how I found out that that space was no longer completely empty. Another canine was poking through and sharp. Danny was holding her at the time. I couldn’t pull my finger out. I stifled a yell so that I wouldn’t scare her. I had no idea that Allison was a little shark in toddler clothing! By the time she let go, I had tears welling up in my eyes. When I was able to speak, I sounded like I was crying. It hurt that bad. She didn’t break the skin, but that space on my finger was numb. When I went to bed that night, it still felt like that patch of skin had fallen asleep.

Dear readers – be warned! Your toddler is awfully darn cute but he or she could turn on you at any time. They do not care that you are providing them with oral anesthetic to ease their pain. They only see your finger as a new piece of meat they’d like to try. My suggestion is to use a cotton swab. It will save your flesh and will provide your child with a valuable frame of reference for when they wake up one morning with a hangover in college. Let's not be shocked. You don't think a child who tried to canabalize her mother is going to grow up to be a perfect angel, do you? :)

But I’m a Little Girl…

Obvious transitions are going to be hard for Emma. She is having a difficult time adjusting to being in preschool. This isn’t the first time she’s transitioned from one classroom to another. She’s never had problems with moving from room to room. The difference this time is that she has to go to another building now. Our daycare has two buildings – the infant and toddler building and the preschool and after school building. They are within walking distance of each other, but the preschool and after school building is where the “big kids” live. This week Emma’s mantra has been “But I’m a little girl…” For this, she doesn’t want to grow up.
Just after New Years they have been working with Emma to transition her down to the “big” building. It was around that time that she started pretending that she was “just a baby” at home. She gets old diapers out and wants us to change her. She will lay on the floor and want to be played with like a baby. When I give her a bath, she wants me to wash her up “like Ally.” She is an imaginative girl and I believe that she’s using this play acting to come to grips with the fact that she’s not a baby anymore.

The way in which children are transitioned from room to room and then from building to building is to take the child to the new area for a couple of hours in the morning. Over a week’s time, the amount of time spent in the new area increases. On the Friday of that week, they are taken to the next area in the morning and don’t go back to the younger area. They tried this with Emma but there was a lot of upheaval in our house due to illness and early morning meetings. We weren’t able to consistently get her to daycare at the same time each morning. On top of that, she wasn’t enjoying her time there. Together with the director, we decided to hold off until my work schedule smoothed back out again. By then, her best friends still in the “baby” building would be transitioning as well. That occurred over the week leading up to President’s Day weekend.

Because I was off, Danny brought Emma and Allison to school in the morning. He got them there later than I usually do. They asked him to bring her down to the “big” building. This probably did Emma a lot of good. Danny works very well with her when she’s upset about something. He explained to her that the preschool used to be a restaurant. He showed her the old bar area and told her that he used to sit there to eat. He also had her show him around the building. She likes to watch the fish at the pet store. They have several aquariums in Emma’s new building and Danny talked about how nice that was. She was upset when he finally left, but his time there with her made an impression. The first thing she said when I picked her up that evening was, “Mommy! Did you know that preschool used to be a restaurant that Daddy ate at?”

On Tuesday the directory asked me to start taking her directly to the “big” building the next morning. It wasn’t getting any easier to get her down to the preschool building and she felt that a clean break would be helpful. I agreed. Wednesday was my first day back at work. I took Allison in with us so that Emma could show her sister around. That didn’t seem to help her much. It was hard for both of us when I left.

Thursday was even worse. I left Allison in the car and Emma clung to first my neck and then my legs like an octopus. Even though Lexie was there begging Emma to sit by her, she didn’t want to have anything to do with preschool. One of the teachers eventually had to pry her away from me. I walked away blowing kisses but it was as if I was leaving her forever. She was able to see the car from her window so it broke my heart again to see her screaming for me. I waved and blew more kisses. I died many deaths for Emma that day.

Today Emma tried to bargain with me all the way to school about how she’s “just a little girl” and that she didn’t need to go to preschool. I explained to her that she is growing up and that preschool was where she belonged now. When I didn’t cave, she told me about all of the other children’s mothers or teachers who would take her back to the baby building. I was expecting another hard morning, but she seemed to have worked out some of her issues in the car. She sat with Lexie right away this morning. No tears.

I wish there was some magic potion you could give your children to help them deal with transitions and the issues involved with growing up. I wish there was a magic potion parents could take so that they didn’t know what was also lying ahead. Looking at things from the other side, there are times when I just want to clutch my girls to me and tell them the same thing Diane Court told her high school class during her valedictorian speech in Say Anything – “Go back! You’re right about not wanting to grow up. It is hard and you will be hurt along the way.” I can’t do that though. Those experiences are essential for them to becoming adults and raising their own children some day.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Hail to the Chief!

President’s Day is an official holiday for my company. At first I found this to be an odd company holiday. Danny didn’t have that day off. Most non-government workers don’t either. Now, I relish that one day of the year when I have the day entirely to myself. Last year it was especially rejuvenating. I was completely stressed out with work and my maternity leave was still a fresh, throbbing wound. I didn’t do a lot, but I really enjoyed the relaxation and going to a movie. I felt human again. This year, I took an additional day to the holiday (Tuesday) and made plans.

We moved into our current house in December of 2002. Emma wasn’t even three months old. I loved the house just as it was with the exception of the wallpapered bathrooms upstairs. The master bathroom is too Victorian and frilly, but it is much more palatable than the bathroom in the hall. It was decorated with fleur de lie above the chair rail with a navy and maroon top border and a matching navy and maroon stripped wallpaper underneath the chair rail. I cannot tell you how much I hated that wallpaper. So, I used my extra long weekend to make a change. The weekend wouldn’t be as relaxing as the year before, but I decided that doing something just for myself would be its own reward.

I’ve never removed wallpaper before. The friendly staff at Lowe’s gave me the information I needed to pick out my It took a good part of Sunday and all of Monday to strip the wallpaper and clean the walls. The scoring tool that was supposed to let the adhesive remover through the paper didn’t work. Instead, I had to peal off the top layer. Emma really enjoyed helping me with that. Monday was a physically tiring day because it was all the grunt work. I lost count of how many times I cursed the builders/first owners of our house. They clearly decided that smoothing out the dry wall wasn’t very important. When I went to bed that night, I never wanted to set foot in that bathroom again. Tuesday was a fun day. I still had to curse the original home owners for “fixing” a dime-sized hole in the wallpaper with a blue permanent marker, but I saw the room taking shape as every hour went by. With about an hour or so to spare, I painted the walls and put up the shower curtain. I still have to iron the shower curtain, touch up the walls and paint the chair rail, but I am so proud of how that bathroom looks now. I promise a picture tomorrow.

In addition to the reward of having a bathroom I love, all the physical work over the weekend helped with another reward. Wednesday is my Weight Watchers meeting at work. Last week was my first week back. I stepped on the scale and discovered that I had lost 5.4 pounds! Thank goodness for those first weeks back on program. They are a tremendous bonus to jumping back on that bandwagon!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Inspiration Cometh

Since my weight loss post in November, things have not gone so well. At one point I was down by about 12 pounds. Now I’m back where I started plus an extra pound and a half. I’ve been pretty down about it. I’ve blamed it on work, not having enough free time, etc… Just like all other excuses, it gets you no where. Thankfully, I have weight loss friends/sisters!

Tuesday I emailed Donielle about the trouble I’ve been having. She’s lacking motivation herself. As a result of our emails, we decided to each set a goal for August 31. I am going to fly into Chicago that day and weigh in at her Weight Watchers meeting. When we both meet our goals, we’re going to celebrate by shopping in Chicago for a new outfit. The idea really gave me a good kick of motivation. My goal is to be a size 12. That way, when I meet my new 2006 nieces/nephews in Michigan over that weekend I’ll be skinny Aunt Jennifer. They will never know or have pictures with me as fat Aunt Jennifer. That will be awesome! She also helped cultivate my idea of getting exercise in doing things with my children. Emma and Allison love The Wiggles. They watch their DVD almost every day. If we were to dance together to all of the songs, I’d really get a workout and it would help keep the family active. From there, my journey has begun anew.

My company started an At Work Weight Watchers meeting this year. I had stopped going and really had no intention of going on Wednesday. Work has been a large source of stress for me and I let that be an excuse for how going to that meeting was not helpful to me. I was planning on signing up again this coming Monday at WW’s own location. In my head I knew that waiting almost an entire extra week would not necessarily be a good idea. When you have a getting started date in the future, why begin changing now? Before I stopped attending the At Work program, I got to know one of my co-workers better. I have been pretty darn good at inspiring others since December and I was able to really help her through a plateau. We’ve been talking a lot ever since. She asked me if I was going to the meeting yesterday and I said no. I couldn’t handle having them write down +349,832 pounds. She talked me in to going anyway in an email. She told me how gorgeous I am now and that anything extra would be “gilding the lily”. It really made me feel so good. She also gave me the idea to ask if I could some how start over. Sure enough, Carlyn, our leader, covered up my old record with a new sheet and I got a new membership book. Sure, the number on the scale was much higher than my last weigh in, but it was a much more pleasant experience because there was no + sign anywhere. Going back to the meeting was the best thing I ever did. We talked about setting goals and if those goals were worth what it would cost us to achieve them. It was exactly what I needed. I went back to my desk and storyboarded my week. I went to bed last night feeling great.

Today I got even more inspiration from another friend of mine at work. Jeanne and I are friends outside of Weight Watchers, but our friendship has grown because we’ve joined together. When we first started at work Jeanne really didn’t have any motivation. Although she knows that being overweight is unhealthy, she thinks she looks beautiful as she is (and she’s absolutely right). I helped her get on track by providing her some motivation. She would love to go to Paris. She’s always wanted to. I suggested that she make Paris her ultimate reward and to make preparations for the trip along the way as mini rewards. She had really done well since then. Today she emailed about how this journey is all made up of baby steps. Those two words – baby steps – gave me a wonderful idea. I am going to scrapbook the rest of my journey. Each week I’m going to take a die cut of a baby’s foot and journal what my successes and struggles for the week. Each month I’m going to take a picture and write down my weight and measurements. I can’t tell you how excited I am about starting this! This is going to be a wonderful tool to help me keep my eyes on the prize. It will also serve as a good reminder when my journey turns from weight loss to weight maintenance.

I really feel like I’ve turned a lot of corners in my life recently. In the spirit of Lloyd Dobler, I feel “monumentally better” about myself and my life than I did last week. I may allow myself to feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders, but in truth I know that God has given me some of the most wonderful friends. Thank you to everyone who has been leaving me comments lately. They mean so much to me! I’ve found that when I allow myself to let go, stop holding everything inside and let others help me, life starts to turn to rainbows. Your troubles don’t magically disappear, but you can more easily see the solutions. You just can’t live your life without your friends. They are more precious than gold. I love you all!

Poll: Which Is Jennifer’s Biggest Pop Culture Faux Pas?

I have had the opportunity to make two major pop culture faux pas in my life to date. Let’s have some fun. I’d like to take a poll on which is the bigger of the two. I am summarizing each below in chronological order:

Dan Rather/Tom Brokaw – What’s the Difference?

I had the honor of serving my home parish as a chaperone for the World Youth Day event held in Denver, Co. This was an incredible event to attend and I cherish every memory. There were Catholics from all over the world there. Especially at the closing Mass you understood exactly how universal – catholic – the Catholic Church is.

Catholics weren’t the only people there. The media was there in spades. Although most participants were in support of the Church and Pope John Paul II (JPII, We Love You), the media certainly liked to concentrate on the negatives. One night we went back to our hotel room and watched the news. Its coverage seemed like it was from another event entirely. So, when I saw a network news anchor in Eddie Bauer, I decided to go straight up to him, shake his hand and tell him how wonderful I thought the event was and how much I supported my Church and the Pope. It wasn’t long after that when the rest of the patrons in the store were cleared out so that he could shop alone (hmm… I wonder why). Andy Fleser, one of the high school students attending from my parish, was in the store with me. We were one of the last people to leave. I wanted desperately for him to meet Mr. News Anchor himself. I said, “Andy, look! It’s Dan Rather!” In that instant, Andy was pushing me out the door. “Don’t you want to say hi to Dan Rather?” He pushed me even harder. Once we got out of the store I asked him what his problem was. His reply, “Jennifer, that was Tom Brokaw.” I laughed so hard that I cried all the way back to the bus. Needless to say, my chat with Mr. Brokaw did not make the national news.

Man, He Sure Looks Like Sean Lennon…

Shortly before I moved to Roanoke, Grand Valley State University held a day-long concert featuring independent or up and coming bands and musicians. Two bands caught my eye: Cibo Mato and Guided By Voices. Cibo Mato is a Japanese band primarily made up of two women. They currently released “Know Your Chicken.” This song is funny and catchy. I wanted to see them perform. Guided By Voices is one of Danny’s favorite bands. He had never seen them in concert. I wanted to see them for him.

I was working at Rite Aid as a pharmacy technician at the time. One of my co-workers (I can’t remember her name, but she was a nice person) was interested in seeing new bands so she agreed to go with me. It was a great time. Cibo Mato performed first. They were a lot of fun. There was a man performing with them that was dressed in so much fur that you might have thought his stylist was an Eskimo. He was interesting thought because he looked a lot like Sean Lennon. My friend agreed with me. Before their performance ended, I picked up two of the free Cibo Mato stickers and positioned myself to get the band’s autographs. Eskimo Man walked off stage first. He passed within a few feet of me. I didn’t bother to ask for his autograph, but I thought to myself again, “God, he sure looks like Sean Lennon.” He was soon forgotten while I was graciously given autographs by the two females heading the band.

Guided By Voices was the last band to perform. They were really great, too. I didn’t stay long enough to get autographs. It was after midnight when they got on stage. I did buy Danny a bottle opener/key chain that he still uses to this day.

The next day I looked through the paper for a write up on the concert. To my shock, there was a huge picture of Cibo Mato with Eskimo Man prominently featured. Per the Grand Rapids Press, he was, in fact, Sean Lennon. I had the opportunity to be once removed from John Lennon and let it slip on by. If I had done my homework, I would have known that ahead of time. I gave those autographed stickers to Danny and Shelia as planned. It would have been a lot harder to do that if I had been bright enough to ask Eskimo Man for his autograph…

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Figure Skating Review

I love the Winter Olympics. I love just about every sporting event broadcast during the games. I love the luge, bobsledding, speed skating, downhill skiing and ski jumping. I would give it all up for 24/7 coverage of figure skating. It’s the ultimate Olympic sport for me.

I really enjoyed watching the American pair beautifully perform the “never before seen by Olympic audiences” throw triple axel. It was poetry on ice. They have a lot of work to do before they become medal contenders, but they have already earned their place in Olympic history.

One of the best Olympic moments I ever viewed took place this week during the pairs figure skating finals. The second to last pair from Russia skated very well. In the not too distant past the female from the Russian pair was badly injured during a throw. It was nice to see how they had overcome the anxiety of falling during a throw to perform beautifully. The last pair to perform was from China. They had a good shot at being the first pair from China to win a gold medal. During a throw at the beginning of the routine you could sense disaster by the posture of the male skater after he threw his partner in the air. She fell and twisted her knee. It was very sad because it mirrored what the Russian pair had experienced and it eliminated the Chinese pair from the gold medal. I didn’t think they would even finish their routine, but they did! She overcame the pain and wanted to continue. I have to say that the skating that followed was some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. The Russian pair won the gold and the Chinese pair won the silver. It was a poignant conclusion to that event.

The men’s short program last night, on the other hand, was not beautiful and did not live up to any expectations I might have had. I was listening to music on my new MP3 player (a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift from my adorable husband!) while watching the telecast. I had closed captioning turned on for good measure. There are probably close to 20 competitors. You don’t expect all of them to be solid performers. You don’t expect them all to fall on their backsides, either! I don’t watch the Olympics to see what I would look like on the rink. J I was left wondering if there were any decent male figure skaters competing this Olympics. I’m sure that through the process of getting Allison to bed, getting my MP3 player loaded with music and other interruptions that I missed a few of the skaters. Is it possible that I missed only the polished skaters? I was very disappointed. It is my deepest hope that the men have gotten rid of their first skate jitters and will give stunning performances during their final programs.

In the meantime, I will go back to my work and daydream of the Olympics when both Emma and Allison are skating for gold medals (not against each other of course. One will have to be in the pairs competition. I can’t be forced to pick between my girls).

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat

Last night something occurred in our household that hasn’t happened since the night before we brought Allison home from the hospital – no children fell asleep in our bedroom. Sure, it took us FOREVER to get Emma to sleep (I went to bed at 11:30 – not too long after we stopped hearing her), but both girls ultimately fell asleep in one bedroom. I went to bed last night feeling like we really and truly accomplished something.

The next thing I know, it’s 3:15 am and Allison is crying. Beforehand, Danny and I decided that in just such a circumstance we would put Allison in the tiny crib in our room – by herself. If one or both of us were in there, she would never go to sleep until she was in our bed. To get us over the hump, one of us would sleep downstairs and one of us would sleep on the couch. I started to set that plan into motion. I first decide to wait a bit and test how awake she was. It got quiet for a while. Then I hear her say, “Dada,” followed a few moments later by some whimpers. Again, it’s quiet. I have high hopes that she’ll get herself back to sleep without demanding to come into our bed. No dice. A few seconds later she was calling “Mama” like a broken, shrill record. I went in to get her before she woke Emma up. No dice. Emma was wide awake and sitting straight up in her bed. I felt a sense of doom about the rest of the night.

As I scooped Allison up, Emma started complaining about her mouth and tummy hurting. I told her that I would be back as soon as I put Allison down. Allison was completely content until I put her in the crib. She then figured out that she wouldn’t be sleeping with Mommy. Enter screams and loud coughing/choking/gagging sounds from her crib. I go into the kitchen, find some lip balm and go back into the girls’ room. Emma lets me apply “lipstick” liberally before she mentions that it is really inside of her mouth where she’s hurting. I tell her to lie down and go to sleep.

Danny and I both leave the girls’ room and head out into the living room. We didn’t talk. I suppose that we were silently hoping that both girls would settle down in short order. No dice. Allison kept crying/screaming/coughing/gagging on and off. Emma ended up getting out of her big girl bed and headed for the bathroom. She did, actually, go to the bathroom. Not a lot. Just enough to prove that she needed to get out of bed at 10 to 4 in the morning. When I put her back down, she wanted me (her Daddy, really) to stay in there with her. I refused. She asked for a book and I let her pick one out. Although she continued to cry, she didn’t chase after me when I left the room. She did get out of bed again, though. Her light had been turned on and was still on this morning.

By this time it was nearly 4am. Danny decides to head downstairs. Emma had quieted down, but Allison continued to periodically scream. It’s very difficult to listen to your child howl like an orphaned kitten and say your name over and over again as if you don’t care. At quarter after 4 I almost broke down and took her into bed with me. My logical side stood firm and reminded me that if I gave in I will still be sleeping in the same room with her this time next month, next year and who knows how much longer down the road. My emotional side got a more than a little indignant and reminded me that people who have promised that this process would only take a week are some of the same people who told me that one child never wakes up another. I stuck with logical. It’s not terribly productive to get emotional at 4:15am.

The last time I remember looking at the clock when I heard Allison cry it was sometime shortly after 4:30. I woke up on my own at 6 and willed myself to wake up again at 7 so that I wouldn’t be late for work. Allison, my trusty and ever faithful alarm clock woke me up at 7am on the dot. Emma, who couldn’t have gotten much more sleep than I did, was up and ready to leave on time as well. All in all, the night started out victorious, was filled with tragedy in the middle and ended up not too shabby.

I’m just trying to forget that we start all over again tonight…

Friday, February 10, 2006

A Great Big Giant Cosmic Hammer

Please read my "Seven Songs" post before this.

Not too long ago I hailed the arrival of 2006. I saw it as a new beginning, a chance to start over. So far, it’s not been pretty. In the six short weeks since then, the girls have gotten sick, Danny has come down with the stomach flu, Allison had a febrile seizure, the antibiotics prescribed to deal with the cause of Allison’s fever gave her blood-tinged diarrhea that required Mommy to collect a stool sample and I came down with a brutal case of tendonitis in my right knee. 2006 is not going to get a Christmas card from me.

When bad or uncomfortable things snowball on you, you can’t help but wonder what you might have done to deserve this. Why is that giant cosmic hammer in the sky always targeting you? People have been asking questions like that since the beginning of time. An entire book of the Bible is dedicated to “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”. If I had an answer to that question, I could charge admittance to my blog. (If you do, however, think that I have answered this question, please feel free to send some cash my way!)

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to write a blog entry. It was about how I’ve been daydreaming about escaping my life and starting over. These daydreams kicked in not too long after we brought Allison home from the hospital. Actually, the first one happened as a way to escape one of her first colicky episodes. It’s no wonder that I’d be daydreaming – wishing – for a different life at that particular time. They just haven’t stopped. On top of that, I keep hearing a song from my college days (see my Seven Songs post) that reminds me of when I was most carefree and (somewhat) happier. I feel guilty preferring that to my current life. I finally got about half way finished with the entry yesterday afternoon. I couldn’t finish it. I didn’t know where to go with it to give it any sort of positive spin. It was like an open, honest letter you’d write to someone to get your feelings out and then burn immediately so that it can never be read.

Life was great pre-2005 when Erin gifted Danny and me with beautiful Emma, when losing weight was easier for me than breathing, when God breathed Allison into my womb and when work was a fun and comfortable place to go Monday through Friday. Everyone needs times like that. In some ways, you need to earn those times and know that you’ve earned them. Otherwise, the danger is taking those times for granted. I certainly have. I’ve become bitter and angry that I have to work at things.

I traveled to another worksite for a meeting yesterday afternoon with my VP. His earlier meeting ran long so I sat myself down in an empty conference room. I’m not looking forward to some meetings at work. While I was waiting for the meeting, I jotted down a few things in an attempt to help me deal with work situation. My immediate reaction is to jump ship (there’s that escaping again) and find another job. The first thing that I wrote down was that I would only be hurting myself if I left my current position without deliberate planning and consideration. My thoughts flowed from there. Over the course of those twenty minutes trying to write down coping strategies for myself it occurred to me that I have a lot of learning to do right now. There is no giant cosmic hammer. An unjust god is not allowing my life to ruin. It’s just that I need to grow as a person. You can’t grow unless you’re challenged. Hence, challenges are being presented at every turn. Escaping challenges seems like an immediate breath of fresh air. It just doesn’t say much about you as a person. If you constantly ran away from any challenges that you didn’t hand pick for yourself, your life is all but wasted. That rusty red truck might as well have crashed into a tree and killed you. Your life never really would have amounted to more than the feelings you had from that two minute song anyway.

So, I’m back to being a student again. I don’t like homework, but I am always looking for an excuse to buy new clothes… ;)

Ally and Her Spoon

Allison's new found talent is eating with a spoon. All in all, she does a pretty good job.

See, Mommy! I'm eating with my spoon!

But I need to check the spoon to be sure...

Ha! Ha! Emma! You can't have any!

But Daddy can!

Emma and Charlie

At long last, I am posting pictures from our candy making adventure in Ironto. Here are some pictures of Emma and Charlie (her future husband in the future mothers-in law have any say!)

Emma and Charlie loved to climb the stairs. I was lucky to get them to stop for this picture.

Megan, my friend Peggy's daughter, loves kids. Emma and Charlie figured that one out quickly!

The kids liked to go into the front room and "peek" at all of the candy. Somehow, those peanut butter balls kept diminishing with each "peek."

Here's a picture of the whole candy-making gang. We had a great time. It's nice to have friends that will invite three crazy children to a family function!

Seven Songs

Trista challenged me in her latest blog entry to list seven songs that are currently on my "hot list." I am supposed to ask seven other people to do the same, but she's already tagged almost everyone I could. So, here is a listing of my seven songs. If you'd like to join me, let me know!

"Mr. Brightside" by The Killers - This song is one of my current favorites – even though it’s not really a current hit anymore. It’s my ring tone. I love it. What more can I say? Well, I do advise others not to research lead singers they like on the Internet. As with Michael Stipe, the more I know, the less I like. Look up Brandon Flowers on Wikipedia. I choose some doosies!

"Fire Woman" by The Cult - It reminds me of my youth. It is played two out of five times I listen to my radio. Given the total amount of time I get to spend listening to “my songs”, I believe it’s true that this song is stalking me and making me feel old and used up! Here’s the story:

One Friday night just before my 18th birthday, my college roommate and I were sitting around drinking a few beers. Ann was quite a character. Despite the fact that both of her parents were professors, she flunked out at the end of freshman year. Out of nowhere, she decided that she wanted to take a road trip that night. She had a rusty red truck and I had nothing better to do. Before long we were headed down some country road in her pick up. She was a hard rock fan and had just bought Sonic Temple that week. She put it in the cassette deck and started playing it full blast. “Fire Woman” is the second track and I fell in with it the first time I heard it. For whatever reason, songs with the word “fire” in them always appeal to me – especially if fire is sung in a distinct way. I made her play it over and over. At one point, I rolled down the window, leaned out to nearly my waist and belted out the chorus at the top of my lungs. The cold, October wind was ripping through my hair and shirt. All the while, I was pounding the beat of the song with my hands against the roof and the door. I felt so alive. For those few moments, I was that fire woman. I commanded the entire world that stretched out before me. A far cry from supervising technical writers and trying to get my children to sleep at night at a decent hour! :)

"How Soon is Now" by The Smiths - I’m not exactly sure what it is about this song that fascinates me. Mostly it’s the music and how it leads into the opening lyrics: “I am the sun and the air…” I can listen to this song over and over and over and over and over…

"I Believe in a Thing Called Love" by The Darkness - This song really gets me in a good mood. The singer is crazy in more ways that one. He could probably sing the most mundane hymn and breathe life into it. Their music is a lot like some of the harder 70s music. In fact, the lead singer does have a similar fashion sense as Steven Tyler. This song is so much fun to dance to! Unfortunately I can’t get Emma to dance to it with me. She’d have fun with this song if she’d let herself.

"Alison Kraus" by The Stills - The Stills album came into my life while I was expecting Allison – but before she was named Allison. After Allison was named, I really got into this song. I love the way the name Allison sounds when he sings it. Did I forget to mention that this song is not about the singer Alison Kraus but about a made up German prostitute? Boy, you'd think I had really high hopes for Allison. :)

"Guiding Light" by The Veils - The thing that intrigued me first about this song is the title. How could the song not be wonderful? It’s the name of my favorite soap opera for crying out loud! The song is really catchy. The Veils are another one of the bands that Danny has introduced me to through his musical network. To be honest, without him my list would be made up of all children’s artists – which leads me to:

"Ponies" by The Wiggles - I’m the mom of a preschooler and a toddler. For the most part, I get to listen to music in the car. When I’m in the car, my daughters are with me. Let’s face it. I have long since lost my role as the "Music Sheriff" in the Conner Family Minivan. That role belongs to Emma now. Ever since Thanksgiving, I’ve been listening to Christmas music. Come the end of January that gets very old. I would now strangle Burl Ives if he were alive and standing in front of me! Thank God for the Wiggles! I cannot tell you how fortunate I am now that I bought the girls some Wiggles DVDs. They have saved my sanity. Danny has since won an eBay bid for seven Wiggles CDs. Now I can put Christmas in the past and instead contemplate about the sounds made by horse tails and horse shoes! I can’t help but find myself singing “swish, swish, swish” at just the right moments. Thankfully, this is one song that Emma has granted me permission me to sing. :)