Saturday, January 12, 2008
Thomas the Train extended
Daddy bought Emma a bunch more track and accessories for her train set for Christmas. They love to build elaborate track configurations. In the second photo Emma is making her own makeshift bridge. Neither train made it over. Back to engineering school for her.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
I watched it last night. My impressions:

Not far into the movie I looked at M and said, "I know Emma's loves pirates, but she's not seeing this movie till she's thirteen!" The grossness and scariness factor is just too much. Lots of violence too.

I would say the third movie had the same swashbuckling and plots twists of the other two, without any of the fun. Even the appearance of Keith Richards as Captain Jack Sparrow's father was anti-climactic. The ending was a downer. It isn't required to be happy/shiny, but sheesh. I don't know, I felt let down. Oh, and the color cast of the whole film was distracting. Everyone's face was yellow in the nighttime scenes.
Friday, January 11, 2008
One of Emma's favorite things to do with her playdoh

Nice things about my blogroll buddies, part 5
Christi of Mama Musings is a mommy of two young'uns, an infant boy and a girl Emma's age. She's a stay-at-home mom and I know her from my mommy board. She doesn't post all that much on the board so I don't her terrifically well. But I'd say it's a great testament to her character that another lady from our mommy board flew out to stay with her for a week and they'd never even met before in real life. It shows you how internet relationships are not to be dismissed or necessarily feared outright. Over time you can get to know internet friends in ways that you never would be able to face to face. When you are dealing with an honest person, an internet relationship can be more "real" than one in real life. What I do know of Christi personally is she is always very encouraging and supportive of the ladies on the board. And her kids are cute as they can be.

Deanne of Misadventures in Mommyhood is our representative in the Heartland. Her son, Colin, is my birthday buddy; we share a birthday. Colin shares with Emma a love for trains and Backyardigans. He's also a red-head, so he's got that in common with Noni's past ;) Deanne is a working mama and I think we share a lot of the same sensibilities about motherhood. In addition, she like to shop and she's into football! I swear, we'd be perfect together. Well, except for that Democrat thing. But I'm all for bi-partisanship so it's all good. Deanne is another one who is quick with the encouragement and free with the compliments. It was like a perfect storm (of the good kind) which put together the group of mommies that I hang out with.

Nat of A Mother's Journey you may recognize as Nat-Bear from my comments. She used to be a frequent commenter, but then she got a life and now we don't hear from her as often ;) I'm very happy for her, actually. Her family was able to move to a better neighborhood in London, Vicki started school, and Nat's social life took off. She and her two beautiful girls have lots of trips to the park and playdates now. Although Nat currently hails from the UK she's orginally from Moldova. Her mastery of English is pretty much flawless, but we have tons of fun acquainting her with words and phrases she hasn't encountered yet. Mostly relating to sex. We've had great fun with that one! But then I think her husband has, too. I love talking to Nat because of my interest in communist Russia and the USSR. She has lots of great stories of her childhood, but I still wish she'd share more. I don't think she realizes she can do her American friends a service by broadening our horizons. I particularly enjoyed when she blogged about her trip home last winter. I still have the two Christmas cards she sent me then. Nat's super-smart and very analytical; you can't get much past her. She's very supportive and kind. Finding a friend like Nat is one of the reasons that the internet is totally worth it.

(I'm going to skip Saturday, this series will resume Sunday)


Thursday, January 10, 2008
Nice things about my blogroll buddies, part 4
Wermit, from A Grand Adventure is Bound to Happen, found me. I'm not sure how, but I'm glad she did. She's one of my most faithful and encouraging commenters, and sometimes she and her sister-in-law, Julie, are the ones who keep me blogging. They remind that someone is actually reading. Wermit's daughter, Jenna, is so bright and sweet, you can tell her mama is doing a fantastic job raising her. Jenna is at least half a year younger than Emma but she does so many things that Emma does. Jenna's ahead of her peers and has an amazing vocabulary. Wermit is a police dispatcher so she has to be cool under pressure, a characteristic that would benefit any mother. I'm glad that Wermit accepted our invitation to join our mommy board. She's so supportive and has been a perfect fit for our...ah...interesting crew. Although, she probably scratches her head sometimes and wonders if the insanity will rub off on her.

Jessica of Growing Up Guacamole is one interesting character. She's a devout Christian hippy missionary to the state of California. She has a masters from Stanford in electrical engineering (I think that's the right one!) but is spending her time raising her kids right now. Jessica is amazingly creative. She is the master of shoestring birthday parties. She'll pick a theme and put things together down to the last detail without even straining her budget. She bakes and sews and knits up a storm. Some of her knitted creations are truly amazing. I envy her talent and patience. Her kids are perfect hippy children, always barefoot ;) Jessica cultivates fruits and vegetables and flowers in her yard and uses just about all of it. She involves her children in projects all day long. She's another master of doing a lot with a little. To top it all off, she's a skinny ass, which should make me hate her, but I'm in a loving mood today. Now, to solidify her hippie cred, she's cultivating dreadlocks. Honestly, Karl Rove is scratching his head over this one.

Jennie of I Got Smarts Real Good is a new blogger,which means she isn't quite on a regular *cough* schedule yet. Jennie is a hoot. She has two boys and they seem to provide her with endless entertainment. My favorite story (and picture!) was when Jack powdered the living room with talcum. Jennie is the tomboy who grew up to have boobies. As a matter of fact, boobies are somewhat of an obsession for her; it's her favorite part of childbearing! She's always trying out new things and giving us reports. She's highly motivated and keeps on the go. After she had her second son, she left full time work to be a full time mom. In no time at all she was president off her mom's club. She's a great mom for two boys because she has plenty of energy to keep up with them. She's a fierce ally to her friends and someone you'd want to have your back. And, oh yeah...boobies!


Emma's art
I'm ashamed to say that we rarely do art projects with Emma. This one wasn't planned either. She wanted to play with glue at M's store. He found her a glue stick and some paper. Then I found an old magazine to cut pictures from and she glued on the pictures. She loved it. So simple.

Gifts for Emma and me. The Big Bird balloon is hers. Mine says, "Just because you're you." They were delivered to me at work today. From...the lottery winner. Very sweet.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Wanna do another one?
This one is from MPR (Minnesota Public Radio). Sounds close enough to NPR to give you liberals the warm fuzzies, right? Select a Candidate

Unfortunately there's no easy cut and paste here...

Damnit! McCain again!

John McCain 13
Rudy Giuliani 10
Ron Paul 10
Duncan Hunter 9
Fred Thompson 9
Mitt Romney 8
Bill Richardson 6 (He quit today, BTW)
Mike Huckabee 3
Barack Obama 3
Hillary Clinton 2
John Edwards 2
Mike Gravel 2
Dennis Kucinich 2


Emma and Baby Jaguar
Tunneling through the living room (Sunday night).

Continuing praises...
Crissa of Geeks R Us is a mommy of two young girls who lives in Alaska. She always wins the "It's so cold outside" contests. Her daughters are absolutely beautiful and have the most stunning eyes. Sometimes I'd like to give Crissa an award for all she does for her family. She has a knack for doing a lot with a little. I suspect her efforts are under appreciated, but then that is the lot of so many moms. She's so creative and thoughtful. It's such a treat when one of her homemade cards arrives in the mail. She does terrific digital scrap booking work and is really taking off with her photography skills. I ache for her sometimes because I know she misses her family in Michigan so badly and would love to live closer to them. She impressed me as being so brave when she flew from Alaska to Portland with her littlest one so Vivian could have surgery. She's always so supportive and quick with the compliments and encouragement. I just wish her blog had an RSS feed so I could get it on my Google Reader. I tend to forget to stop by. I promise I'll try harder :)

I think of Leslie at Gelbspot as a steel magnolia. She lives in Tennessee and I've heard that she has a sweet Southern accent. I've never rung her up to check it out myself. She's so kind and thoughtful. She's a lot like me in that she's extremely sensitive to the reactions and nuances of others. She never wants to think she's upsetting someone (I'm the same). But there is another side to her. If you mess with someone she cares about she will not hesitate to give you what-for. She's the mommy of two little girls who were born fairly close together. They're adorable girls and it seems her oldest daughter's behaviors often coincide so closely with Emma's. Leslie is also a serious businesswoman in a field that is dominated by men. I've never loved her so much as when she told off someone who was messing with one of her team members at work. I wish I could have seen it happen. She has great taste in blogs and I've gotten hooked on several that she's discovered. She is another budding photographer and was kind enough to share some tips from the classes she took. She goes an extra step and enhances her work with creative scrapbooking. She does awesome shadow boxes and gives them as gifts to her friends. The only problem is that you have to get knocked up to rate one. Ahem ;)

Jamie at Glaciermeow is a model of quiet strength. She lives in Georgia and has two sons, one of whom is Emma's age. She's a cat-mama too, but I try not to hold that against her too much ;) Her son is the one who sent Gingey with us on our trip to Germany and Ireland. Jamie is an awesome photographer who has been honing her skills much longer than the rest of us hackers. She is someone I secretly revere because of what she's gone through. She had a daughter, Amber, who died tragically at the age of four. Her daughter was an organ donor and I respect Jamie and her husband so much for making that decision. Jamie keeps Amber's memory alive in her heart and her sons know of their angel in heaven looking over them. Despite all she's been through Jamie is patient with the rest of us moms who freak out over the dumbest things. On one hand I look at her and think, "There but for the grace of God...," but then I know that Jamie was blessed with such a gift to have been mommy to Amber, and she was graced by God.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Sad Day
Gibbs cites pull of family obligations for retiring from Redskins

I have to let go of the dream. Gibbs was our great hope for redemption, for someone who could actually lead the Redskins. For once Snyder put a coach in place and then stayed out of his way. And all for naught. Sigh.

What really sucks is now we have to endure more "teambuilding years" again, which means losing some more. Blech.
She actually said this to me today...
"Mommy, you're the greatest."
I meant to post this earlier...
I would have been seven years-old and my brother would have been almost three.

Updated to add: Please note how I'm rockin' the "distressed" jeans long before they became trendy :)
More nice people...
Krista of is a Canadian living in the United States while her husband pastors a church here. I enjoy Krista very much. The thing that I find so interesting about her is that she's first and foremost herself. On our mommy board she's not "the minister's wife," she's Krista. You might never know what her husband does for a living if you didn't pay attention, over time. That's not to say she hides her light under a bushel. I've discerned that she's very strong in her faith and it is a large part of her life. She is in no way holier-than-thou, she's very humble in her faith. People often have unrealistic expectations of a pastor's wife and I know the pressure on her can be intense at times. But she doesn't complain. She's a devoted mommy to her son, Josh. She advocates for him and makes sure he's well taken care of in all situations. She's a faithful and patient wife to her husband and a true partner. It was from Krista that I learned that pastors and their wives "do it" because they like it, too. Shocking ;)

I don't know Jessica at Cupcakes and Cowboys very well so I'm afraid she'll get short shrift here. She's obviously madly in love with her little cowboy, and her big cowboy. She's always doing little projects with her son and spending time enjoying him. I envy her motivation and organizational skills. She plans a weeks worth of meals in advance! She seems like a very upbeat person and someone who would be fun to be around. I appreciate Jessica and a few others on my blog roll like her who come here even though they have no real connection to me, be it in real life or on the mommy board. I feel like I've won a friend. Jackpot!

Jen of Every Useless Reason is my bud. We've even met (even though I had to bribe her with pure maple syrup). We forged a bond early on and continue to bug each other with the minutiae of our daily lives. Jen's my bitch, and she gets to be pink, always. Jen amazes me with her strength to persevere despite numerous setbacks. Not that things don't get her down or bug her, but she always picks herself up and moves forward for the sake of her family. She's a very hands on and involved mom, even having circle time with her toddler sons. She also provides me a preview of the challenges of raising a girl who's growing up way too fast. She's a mama lion when anyone messes with her kids and I wouldn't want to be the fool who did something dumb like that. She and I have a similar sense of snark and she cracks my ass up sometimes. She has an incomprehensible (to me) attachment to the Bare Naked Ladies and never gives up trying to win me over. I enjoyed it when she used to blog because she could be counted on to bring the drama, without ever being mean or hateful about it. I'll always be glad she let me be the one who got to torture the mommy board ladies who were waiting breathlessly to find out the sex of her last child. Rock on, sister!


Monday, January 07, 2008
The value of saying something nice...
Leslie sent me an email forward today, and I read it. It was a lesson in how valuable it can be for people to hear people say nice things about them, to know what it is that people admire about them. With that in mind I thought it would be enjoyable to me to say something nice about each of the people on my blogroll. I'm not going to do them all at once because there's too much to say. I'll go down the list alphabetically and I'll get to everyone eventually.

So we begin with Sunita at ASAAAN. She's a mother of four with a wicked sense of humor. I absolutely love the stories she tells of how she and her husband trash talk to each other. Honestly, he must adore her. She amazes me in her ability to coordinate the schedules of her four children. She's blessed with bright, high-achieving kids so there'll be a calendar full of activities for the foreseeable future. Despite her busy schedule she knits and does creative things with her kids. She feeds her family amazing home-cooked meals and even prepares elaborate bento box lunches for her kids to take to school. I really love when she shares aspects of her Indian culture and upbringing. I know she's not superwoman and that her slavish devotion to her family comes at a price to her sanity sometimes. But she does it all with a sense of humor and admirable stamina. Finally, I'll always cherish the fact that I was the first internet friend (maybe the first person?) who she told she was pregnant with her (surprise!) fourth child. I may have talked her off of a ledge that day. You never know ;)

B is for Blah Blah Babycakes, and Andrea. It's been my pleasure to know Andrea for several years. She's one of my few internet friends who I've actually met. Andrea is a delightful contradiction in that she's urbane, witty, charming and sophisticated, and yet self-deprecating, melancholy and uncertain. When she lived in New York City I enjoyed how she gave me a window on a world totally foreign to my own. We're opposites in so many ways, but that never seemed to be a barrier to understanding each other. I'll always remember the Nanny Jo horror stories. I envy her storytelling and writing skills. Many of her blog posts and stories have left me virtually standing and shouting "Bravo!." I've enjoyed watching her evolve as a mother and grow in confidence as her sweet Henry has developed and thrived under her care. I'm sorry we don't speak as often and I'm secretly sorry she no longer lives in New York City, even though I know moving was the best thing for her family at the time.

I don't actually know Crystal at Boobs, Injuries and Dr. Pepper, but that won't stop me from saying something nice about her. I love her writing and envy, envy, envy her ability to make anything funny. I think she's a great undiscovered talent who deserves more than just praises for her writing abilities. I also envy her cajones for being able to swear and say outrageous things, even though her family reads her blog. She's a fearless writer and reaps the rewards for it. Because she's willing to reveal her insecurities and vulnerabilities, albeit humorously, she forges a connection with her readers who relate to her and her desire to protect herself from the slings and arrows of actually socializing with people. A new post from Crystal is a bright spot in any day. No pressure ;)


Happy (Belated) National Delurking Day
I missed it. It was January 5. But I'd hate for you to miss it too. Won't you post a greeting in the comments?
Hopelessly devoted...
Emma's father obviously loves her very much. Emma was reciting lines from Grover's Guide to Good Manners. Her princess was telling the other princess, "Nice to meet you."

He even does it with a smile.

Sunday, January 06, 2008
January puddle
We have our second day in a row it's been above freezing weather. Today we even reached a high of fifty degrees. We took the opportunity to go for a stroll around the property. When we got back we walked around the yard and Emma found something to do for herself. Nothing like playing in water puddles in January.

"Mommy, my pants are wet! I want new pants!"

"Asserting her independence"
That's the nice way of saying it. Recently Emma has become defiant and combative. She acts out a lot more, screams and cries over things more often. The other day was the first time I ever told her to do something and she said, "No." That did not go down well, believe me.

Last night was terrible. She would not stop whining and crying. It was awful. It drove M from the dinner table, out into the cold night, to finish his meal. He can take her shenanigans any other time, except while he's trying to eat. It was one of those nights when I was so happy for bedtime.

I know she is actually asserting her independence and it's a healthy phase of growth. But it just makes you want to beat your head on the wall when they willfully make their own lives more difficult.

Meanwhile, the clothes truly do reveal the girl...

Paralyzed by clutter
We have way too much stuff for our small house. Since it's an old farm house there are no storage closets. Nearly all of the cabinets in the kitchen were built by M. We have all this new (wonderful!) Christmas stuff and there is simply nowhere to put it. I'm paralyzed because I can't clean up when there's no place to put things! We need to put our Christmas stuff away but the junk room is full. I hate life when things are like this.

The living room is the one sanctuary that I am able to keep relatively clean and uncluttered. I practically live there because of that. And because it's a living room, duh.

So imagine how I felt when M decided to set this monstrosity up in my living room. It's a nice hand-me-down from Emma's cousins, which will be great outside. I know M only wanted to see what it was, but damned if it didn't make my chest tighten just seeing it. Ack!

Some guys have all the luck...
Every year M buys me lottery tickets for my Christmas sock. I think he usually buys about $35 worth. The store has always sold the scratch tickets, but not the "pick" games. This year in November they started selling the full lottery selection for the first time. So now he's able to buy the Mega Millions tickets and similar right at work. This year he bought me a $20 ticket for a particular game where the odds of winning a million were 1:110,000. Very good odds compared to the other big games. As usual, I won bupkiss. I think the best I've ever done is a $50 ticket, one time.

However, my brother-in-law put the same ticket in his girlfriend's stocking. Apparently they bought two tickets and gave them to each other. When they went to the store to check her ticket by running it through the lottery machine it told them she'd won more than $500, so they had to redeem it at a lottery office. With that game there were only three options, $500, $50,000 or a million. They ran back home and tried to look up the winning numbers on the internet, with no luck (not net savvy). Then they called us and asked us to look it up. M handed me the number. I knew it wasn't a million because those numbers started with either 0 or 3; I remembered that from looking them up for myself the night before. I looked at the number on the pad he was holding and looked at the lottery page and it showed BIL's girlfriend's number. She won $50,000.

Since Uncle K. had actually bought her winning ticket (and because she likes him) she split the winnings with him. M got $500 from the lottery for selling a big winner in his store. Uncle K. and C. went to the lottery office on Thursday and collected their winnings. They came home and opened bank accounts and one of the first things Uncle K. did was give Emma a generous monetary gift. Then later C. slipped M a little more for Emma. I'm telling you, it pays to be a cute kid who is free with the hugs.

They also brought back a big banner that M could hang across the front of his store proclaiming he sold a $50,000 winner. I'm sure by this week the whole thing will be the talk of the town.