Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas recap

Text only for now - I'll do a photo entry later after pictures have been uploaded. Merry Christmas everyone!

Last night we went to the Christmas Eve service at our UU church. The service was really lovely, if a bit long and hot. Fiona was fussy throughout, but she still managed to put on a good performance while acting as an angel in the Posada reenactment and singing for the Children's Choir. Both girls crashed immediately when we got home, although in Saskia's case it was more out of a desire to make Santa come faster than tiredness.

The girls woke us at 9:00, which was a great Christmas present to us. They rushed downstairs and came back up squealing over the Littlest Pet Shop V.I.P's that Santa left them. We let them go crazy opening Santa's gifts and unloading their stockings, then we made them wait (we are so mean) while we made tea before moving on to the other gifts.

In an effort to make the morning last longer, I have a rule that only one person can open a gift at a time. So we had a sweet couple of hours of leisurely opening gifts. I won't bother listing all their presents, just the top 3... For Saskia #3 was a "Totally Spies" computer game , #2 was her LPS VIP and #1 was most definitely her copy-cat American Girl doll, complete with several beautifully hand-made outfits from Grandma. For Fiona #3 was her Barbie doctor, #2 her LPS VIP and #1 was her first big-girl bike.

After opening presents I made my way to the kitchen to cook breakfast, biscuits and eggs was on the menu. I was surprised to find after we ate that it was already noon! We quickly phoned grandma and grandpa to thank them for their thoughtful gifts and then attempted to register the VIPs. And when I say attempted, I mean it. It took over an hour and the server was so slow they couldn't even play once they finally got registered. I know it's Christmas and all but come on people, shouldn't that be expected? Get some more servers or something, sheesh.

By the time I got off the kid's computers it was 1:30 and I was way behind on making dinner. I started on the chestnut stuffing while Paul prepared the goose. By 3:00 (note, next time I'm buying the chestnuts pre-cooked and peeled) we were allowed a short break. Paul took a nap while I set up a new MSN messenger account so that Saskia and Fiona could chat with their sister in Germany. Luckily Toni was online and we all got to chat for a little while, which was awesome. The girls really miss their sister and talk about her a lot. Hopefully now they will be able to talk to her more often.

After chatting Saskia and I went to rhapsody.com to choose some new music for our MP3 players. She got a gift card allowing her to choose any 2 albums to download: she picked the soundtracks to High School Musical and High School Musical 3. I didn't get a gift card, but I DID get a brand new MP3 player for Christmas from Paul so I treated myself to 3 new albums (yes I'm bad)... Sarah McLachlan, Leonard Cohen and the new K.T. Tunstall. What can I say, I've been in a mellow mood lately.

It's nearly time for dinner now, I can't wait. In addition to the goose we are having rotkohl (red cabbage pickled in red wine and red wine vinegar) and knoedel (kind of like bread dumplings). Yum yum yum! After dinner we will probably watch a movie and maybe I can finally get around to playing with my new MP3 player. I can't believe how the day has flown....

Monday, December 15, 2008

Status update

Christina- Is busy trying to get ready for the holidays. Were they always so stressful? I've given up on family pictures and cards, as long as I can get presents out relatively on time I will be happy.

Saskia- Just joined a youth theater troop. She is going to be performing in "Alice in Wonderland" in March as a lobster in the Caucus Race scene and a flower in the garden scene. She's really excited and already fitting right in with the troop after her first rehearsal. She's also still participating in gymnastics and was moved up a level this session to Advanced Beginning. She likes the new challenges she's facing in her new class. Girl Scouts is still in full swing, with Cookie season starting in a couple of weeks, sigh. It seems like Cal/Nut just finished! And she's getting ready for a Christmas Eve performance of the Children's Choir at church. Although we've made a deal that with the new theater troop, she's going to take some time off of choir after January. One girl can only do so much!

Fiona- Is doing great with gymnastics. She seems to come to it naturally and her teacher said that after one more session they are going to be evaluating her for the invite-only class. I think it would be good for her as she's getting a little bored in the regular class. She's also having lots of fun participating in choir and is one of the most vocal kids they have, so she's really a joy to watch. In daycare/preschool she is progressing fantastically in her writing skills and understanding of concepts. I'm sure she'll be more than ready for Kindergarten when it's time in the fall. Lastly, she's been chosen to play Mary in the Christmas Pageant (she goes to a Lutheran school) and she's really excited about it.

Unfortunately, all 3 of us are sick right now but we are hoping a day home will get us better so that we are able to participate in all the great things we have coming up. Wish us luck!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Jesus, Christianity and me

Of all the topics I could choose to blog about after my long hiatus, of all the titles, that is the one that will make the most of my readers (aka friends) go HUH?! but it fits, so bear with me...

To give a little background, I was raised Methodist in a heavily Christian home. Somewhere around the age of 16, after intensive involvement in the church, Bible study and lots of youth camps, groups and a stint on the Methodist youth Council I decided that while I respected the teachings of Jesus I did not follow the Christian belief that he was the son of God. This belief was so heretical in my church that I was dropped from the Council and I quickly found myself completely separated from my Christian life. Now I won't lay the complete blame on the church, I was exploring my own paths at the time and wanted a separation. But the experience did cause a great rift to develop between me and ANY Christian-labeled teachings.

Fast-forward 16 years to now. Over time I have come to realize that while I still do not believe in the Trinity or the Immaculate Conception, among other Church teachings, I do believe that Jesus was a great teacher and holy man. I believe he was a prophet, like many spiritual leaders of the ages. And I believe he would cry (or laugh) to see how his words have been twisted by the Church and many of it's followers.

I also believe in a God. Not the God of the Bible or the Torah or the Koran, but the God that all of the contributors to those great works were trying to understand. The God that Jesus, that Mohammad, that Chief Seattle and countless others talked about. The God that all humanity has been trying to describe for all of our history and the one that is incapable of description. I have long felt that be you Christian, Pagan, Jew, Buddhist, Muslim, Taoist or any other following, we reside with the exact same God, just under different names.

So, what does all this rambling have to do with this post you may ask? I apologize, I needed to give a little background, now on to the meat of the thing.

I am a Unitarian Universalist. I am so because I believe in the precepts and tenants of this faith. I believe in humanism, in tolerance, in social justice and protecting the Earth and all of the other things which are so central to the UU faith. Yet for a long time, I found the UU faith sadly lacking in FAITH. There wasn't much religion to our religion. Happily, the Reverend at my church has been working hard to fill that need and I thank him for that. It's been a balm to my soul to discuss these topics again, and I feel a part of me growing that has been stagnant for at least 10 years. I have been continuously surprised to find that I am not the only one who has these ideas about the teachings of Jesus. In fact, I just started reading a book called "The Gospels According to Jesus" by Stephen Mitchell that expresses my beliefs in a much more profound and thoughtful way than I have hear. It's been a joyous to learn that others appreciate his teachings on love, forgiveness and living in the Now (i.e. Kingdom of Heaven) outside of the traditions of the Church.

A separate and yet related struggle for me is one I've been having with the Lutheran daycare my youngest attends. Since she started full time this fall, I have become aware of a heavily Christian curriculum in her classroom, including weekly visits from "Pastor" and Bible lessons. I've been worrying a lot as to how these lessons would affect her beliefs later down the road, that they may "convert" her at a later date. Yet at the same time, I've been mourning the lack of moral teaching for my children in our UU church, the teaching which I received as a child growing up Christian. Because it is the morals of the stories that impacted me as a child, "be honest, be kind, do unto others as you would have done unto you." Those teachings were missing from our curriculum at my UU church, even though they are the basis of our faith. Happily, we have begun a curriculum this year covering World Religions which begins to touch on these tenants, but we have more to do. But that's another post all together...

To wrap it up (if you're still with me) I came to the realizations that:

1) What am I complaining about with Fiona's daycare? She's getting the moral teaching that I wanted her to have
2) What a beautiful opportunity her schooling is giving her for me to discuss my beliefs with her
3) No discussion of the teachings of Jesus can hurt my child or myself
4) I'm happy to welcome Jesus back into my life. Not as the Son of God to a Christian, but as a teacher to a student. I think I'm finally ready to learn...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Crikey!

****Before you read this post I need to confess what a lame ass friend I am. These presents actually arrived on 10.30. I did originally write the following post the next day, but I wanted to take some pictures to add to it so I didn't publish it. Now, two weeks later I have neither pictures nor have I published my thanks. Worse, I haven't even given my friend a jingle to tell her thank you myself! I suck. Jae, I hope you can forgive my pathetic-ness. You may beat me with a didgeridoo if you like.****


Isn't it amazing how sometimes an unexpected surprise can completely turn our mood around? The girls and I got one of those yesterday and I must say it really turned my bad mood of late around!

A few weeks back my dear friend Jae posted an entry on her blog about an upcoming trip to the Australia zoo. I posted a comment wishing her fun on her vacation. I also made a comment about how if she runs into Bindi Irwin, to say hi from her biggest fan in the US, my daughter Fiona. So what did my wonderful, caring friend do when at the zoo? She got the girls Bindi presents! The package arrived yesterday and we were all completely surprised. Each girl got this cute little bag with "Australian zoo" on the front, and a "Bindi bling sheet" to bling up their bags. Saskia took the "Bindi" name bling, and Fiona went with the sparkly tiger. There was also a great magazine from the zoo, which Fiona made me read as a bedtime story that night, and a Wildlife Warrior bracelet for me. We love everything, but most of all we love that a dear friend thought of us and did something so special to show she cares. Love you Jae.

Valentine's Day

1.Put your iTunes or MP3 player on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS!
4. If you want to add commentary - go for it.


IF SOMEONE SAYS "IS THIS OKAY" YOU SAY?
Hope Alone - Indigo Girls

WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
You - Breaking Benjamin
*this is not a bad choice

WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
The Little Things Give You Away - Linkin Park
*LMAO at this one, this song is me

HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY?
If I Fall You're Going Down With Me - Dixie Chicks


WHAT IS YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE?
Lil' Jack Slade - Dixie Chicks
*interesting, this is an instrumental song. Maybe I should shut up more?

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
By Myself - Linkin Park
*wow, that's freakily accurate

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
Piano & I - Alicia Keys
*strange, I've been obsessing over getting a piano lately. I miss making music.

WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
Mississippi - Dixie Chicks

WHAT IS 2+2?
This Can't Be Love - Natalie Cole
*LMAO again

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
Drop - Blue October
*I bet a few of my good friends can guess what this song is about...

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Too Young - Natalie Cole

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
Somewhere I Belong - Linkin Park
*scarily accurate again.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
Breakfast After 10 - Blue October

WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
It's The Only One You've Got - 3 Doors Down
*good point, he should hear this song

WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
Forca - Nelly Furtado
*I doubt my parents think about soccer when they think of me, but who knows?

WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
Our Love is Here to Stay - Natalie Cole
*awww

WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
Barons of Suburbia - Tori Amos

WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
All Over You - Live

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
Between Angels and Insects - Papa Roach

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
Toast - Tori Amos

WHAT'S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
With You - Linkin Park

HOW WILL YOU DIE?
Try - Nelly Furtado

WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET?
You've Got to Show - Indigo Girls

WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
Sombody - Blue October

WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
Straighten Up and Fly Right - Natalie Cole
*kay, whatever...

WILL YOU EVER GET MARRIED?
Cars and Guitars - Tori Amos

WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST?
Everlasting Friend - Blue October

DOES ANYONE LIKE YOU?
What I've Done - Linkin Park
*guess that's a no

IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
The Beauty of Gray - Live

WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW?
Am I the Only One (Who's Ever Felt This Way) - Dixie Chicks

WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS?
Valentine's Day - Linkin Park

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bragging Rights

Saskia brought home her first second grade report card yesterday. I wish I had it in front of me so that I could copy word for word what her teacher said, but it went something like this: "Saskia is a joy to have in class. She is helpful and considerate. She is reading well beyond her grade level and her writing is very imaginative and well formed. She has mastered all the basic math concepts and is progressing well towards higher math skills.... " And I'm not exagerating people, it really read like that, it was awesome! She's totally beaming and so proud of herself!

As for grades, they don't give A, B, C, D, F here, at least in elementary school. What they rank them on is 1="well below grade level expectations" 2="progressing towards grade level expectations" 3="meets grade level expectations" 4="high achievement of grade level expectations" and 4*="excedes grade level expectations". They also rank them each period based on what they should know by the end of the school year. Saskia already has a 3 in every subject, except science, writing and reading where she has a 4! Woo-hoo, go smart girl!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thank you, President Obama

For the first time I can remember, I have hope that humans can finally stop destroying ourselves and work for peace, change and a future for our children.



And for those who still doubt, read Obama's acceptance speech and you may understand why he gives me such hope.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

For change, for hope

Here I sit at my desk, proudly sporting my "I Voted" sticker. I feel absolutely giddy, and slightly nervous. I know I'm going to be on pins and needles all day... how on earth will I concentrate on work knowing that the future of our country, and possibly the world hinges on this day. A bit melodramatic? Perhaps, but that's truly what I believe.

Yesterday Saskia asked me who I was voting for and why. I replied, "I'm voting for Barack Obama, because he gives me hope. Because he cares about people and the Earth, and he is our best chance to save ourselves." And it's the truth. For the first time I can remember, I believe a candidate actually has the ability to change the world for the better. If Obama doesn't win, it's not just the Democrats who will lose, it's all the people, the country, the world, the planet. If we don't change our ways now, there will be no future for our children, and Obama as President is the first step in that change.

So if you haven't gotten out to vote yet today, do it! Do it for your children, your grandchildren. Say yes to hope, yes to change, yes to a future. Say yes to Barack Obama.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mommy, you should never mail an elephant

and other random cute sayings by Miss Fiona:

Thank SkippyJon Jones for these two endlessly repeated phrases:
*Holy Jalapeno!
*Mr. Beans, in your dreams.

A recent conversation about preschool:

Fiona: Jimmy hurt my feelings today
Me: How did he hurt your feelings?
Fiona: I was waiting for him to go on the teeter-totter with me and he didn't!
Me: Did you ask him to go on the teeter-totter with you?
Fiona: No, he was just supposed to know! But that's okay, he said sorry.
Me thinking: (Poor boy, she's messing with his head and got him apologizing for things he didn't do already!)

And another conversation:

Fiona: Mommy, you fell down the stairs.
Me: okay....
Fiona gets pretend phone, dials 911: Hello? My mommy fell down the stairs and she's not even dead.

And some random remarks:

* Are we still in our world? (meaning city)
* Mommy, you shouldn't wander off, you could get lost.

Fiona: Saskia hit me!
Me: Why did she hit you?
Fiona: Because I kicked her!

I'm sure there are many, many more but they aren't coming to mind right now. I really need to get a tape-recorder!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Om and other stuff

Life is stressful, as usual. I'm doing way too much in way too little time, as usual. And I feel like a pine cone in a tornado, as usual. BUT, I'm trying to do something about it, which is NOT business as usual.

It all started when my dear hubby and I watched a special on PBS on stress last week. Called "Killer Stress" the show explained scientifically all the damage that stress does to our bodies. The best part, from my point of view, was when they said that being the mother of small children is one of the most stress inducing factors there is, and that for every 1 year lived under extreme stress, our body ages 5.5 years. Not a pretty picture.

Coincidentally, about a week ago the Reverend at my church started offering meditation classes. I had been reluctant to ask DH if I could add yet another thing to my schedule, but this show gave me the excuse I needed and he was completely supportive. So I bit the bullet, bought the textbook and went to my first class Monday night. It was fabulous. I won't say that I achieved a meditative state, but I will say that I left the class more relaxed than I have been in a long time. I also left with major aches in my legs and hips from sitting "criss-cross applesauce" for 45 minutes so when I got home I did some yoga to stretch a little. Keep in mind, I haven't practiced yoga for about 4 years, so it was awkward but good. I went to bed feeling peaceful and relaxed, and slept fabulously.

Today reality crashed back in, with work deadlines, a sick kid, a jury summons to deal with, bills to pay, and Girl Scout field trips to coordinate. But just knowing that I am learning ways to cope with the chaos makes me feel better. Namaste.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

You love her more than me!

That's what Saskia said to me last night, in regards to Fiona. They had a fight, Saskia threw a toy (which hit Fiona in the face) and I put her in time out for it. Honestly it was a mild punishment, she should have gotten something more severe, like being grounded, for lobbing a Polly Pocket house at her sister's head, but I wasn't in the mood. So she got a lecture about expressing her frustration in a more productive, and less violent way, and had to sit on the stairs for 5 minutes. Not exactly a harsh punishment.

A few minutes later I find her crying, saying that I would "never be as nice to her as I was to Fiona". Just because I was comforting her sister after she was hit. We talked, I told her that I love them both equally because they are both my daughters. That they each have unique, special qualities and that I love those things about them, but even if the things are different the amount of my love is the same. And that no matter what happens, I will always love them both with my whole heart.

She nodded as I spoke, but I wonder if it really sunk in? Does she really believe me? Was this comment a passing thing, said in the heat of the moment or does she really believe that I love her sister more? I can understand where she'd get that idea, since Fiona is so needy I do end up spending more of my energy on her. I just don't want her to grow up feeling unloved. I want her to know, with every fiber of her being, that I love her with my whole heart and soul. I don't want her to ever doubt that.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hi, my name is Christina...

and I'm a Webkinz addict.

It started off peaceably enough. My daughter got her first Webkinz for her birthday a couple of weeks ago and has been hooked ever since. I started out hating the place, all the errors, breakdowns and things not working would have her crying hysterically because she couldn't do what she really wanted to do. But tonight I saw the other side.

Saskia recently bought some kitchen appliances in order to cook. I kept trying to convince her to buy a kitchen to put them in, but she didn't want to spend 500 Kinz dollars on a room. Then she discovered that she could buy her pet a garden. She was so excited to grow her own food and "get out in the fresh air". But it cost 1000 Kinz dollars. And so it began. I started answering questions for her to earn money. After about an hour I had enough to buy her a garden. But I was hooked. I then played for another hour, bought her a kitchen, a sink and some food. Then I found the arcade games. Lord help me, I finally forced myself to log off after about the thirtieth time my ant was killed in the picnic game. At least I now understand her addiction, let's just hope it's a minor one for both of us!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Saskia's birthday party

Yes, I'm a lame mom. My daughter's birthday was almost 2 whole weeks ago and I am just getting around to blogging about it. I have a good excuse, as I just started a new job, but I still think I'd better get these thoughts down before they leave my flighty mind.

Unfortunately this post will have to consist mostly of text, as I'm not willing to publish pictures of other people's kids on my blog without their permission. Especially in light of what happened to my friend Cristina with some perv viewing her flicker photos I'm leary of posting any pics at all, but I figure pictures of a kid on a bike should be pretty safe. Then again....

Saskia's birthday fell on a Saturday this year, which was nice. She woke us up around 6:30 am (this is the girl who I normally have to force out of bed at 11:00 in the summer) to open her presents. Coming downstairs she found a pile from us, Grandma & Grandpa and Great-Grandma. The bear, named Chloe, was a big hit, thanks Great-Grandma!



Barbie Mariposa was something she's been wanting for a long time; she was thrilled to finally get it.



But the best present was her bike. Her last bike was for 2-4 year olds, and at 7 that just wasn't cutting it anymore. I think she likes it, despite the haughty, "what do YOU want?" look on her face.



We spent the day shopping, baking, cleaning and decorating. The party was a "Girl's Night" theme. The girls came in their p.j.'s and had pizza to start. Next we played a "Getting to Know You" game, where the girls filled out these questionnaires about themselves, then they were passed in a circle and read out loud so that everyone could guess who the cards belonged to. The girls had fun, although the game was a bit tough for 7 year olds to keep their patience through.

That game was followed by "Hot Potato". Since it was a night theme as each girl got "out" of the game she got to pick a stuffed animal to take home (thank you Party Store for going out of business and putting your Beanie Babies on clearance!)

All this took considerably less time than I thought it would, so we were left with about 45 minutes to kill. BIG mistake. 45 minutes of free time plus 9 6-7 year olds (and 1 4 year old) equals insanity. The girls screamed. And ran around. And screamed. And jumped on things. And screamed. And screamed. Think "Hannah Montana" meets "Animal House". Oh yeah, fun times.

Wrapping it up... we eventually brought out cake and ice cream, Saskia opened her presents (she got killer loot, thanks everyone, you rock!) and then they played "Musical Chairs" (and screamed) until their parents got there. Her favorite present was the "Project Runway" designer paper dolls. She wants to be a fashion designer when she grows up and is already busy creating her own designs. Tim, Heidi, what do you think?



All in all it was a fantastically fun time, but so very different from her six year old party which was very princess-y and sweet. It is yet another reminder, among many, that my little girl is not little anymore. She is growing in so many wonderful ways and becoming so wise, yet so tween-difficult at the same time. Sigh, I miss my baby, but I love my young lady. Happy birthday, dear Saskia, I love you.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Quirky Meme

I was tagged by Mimi and Lisa (and possibly other people, I've lost track) for this quirky meme. Since I don't know that many bloggers and as far as I can tell all the ones I do know have already been tagged, I won't be following the last two rules, which are:

The Rules
* Link to the person who tagged you.
* Mention the rules.
* Tell six quirky yet boring, unspectacular details about yourself.
* Tag six other bloggers by linking to them.
* Go to each person’s blog and leave a comment to let them know that they’ve been tagged.

1) I can't eat breakfast AND have coffee. It has to be one or the other. Usually I just have coffee and skip the food, but on the rare occasions that I decide to be responsible and eat something because I know I'll be gone all day and I *need* food I will eat cereal. This usually makes me feel nauseous and nasty making me forgo my morning coffee, then I get mean. It's a vicious cycle.

2)I can't stand chunky bits of butter on my bread or anything else. It has to be spread extremely thinly, almost so that you can't see it, yet evenly, reaching everywhere.

3) I am fanatical about how I separate my laundry. I usually have at least 7 different loads: hot/whites, warm/lights, warm/darks, cold/lights, dark/lights, cold/reds and warm/reds. When we had our awesome German washing machine (how I miss you!) that allowed me to chose the size of the load and conserve water this meant I did many, many small loads of wash every couple of days. Now that we have our awful American thing (technically it's Italian but we bought the $800 piece of crap here- LG you suck!) I will save little bundles of wash for weeks, waiting to have enough for that particular combination.

4) I am also fanatical about drying laundry and hang up almost everything. Because of my laundry fetishes my husband has been forbidden from doing laundry as he inevitably gets it wrong!

5) I absolutely hate to be late, it turns me into a screaming banshee and makes me so nervous I can feel my insides itching.

6) I also HATE disorganization. I inevitably have a horrible time at any school or volunteer event because I spend the entire time internally seething about how things should have been done. It makes my twitch when glitches occur that throw things off by even a couple of minutes, and I hate when there aren't enough rules established (like only TWO cookies per child, that kind of thing) or when people don't do what they are told as soon as they are told to do it.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Changes

The girls and I got new haircuts today....

Saskia went for a short bob, I think she looks adorable! For Fiona we were trying for the Rachel from Friends look, and mama wanted a long, a-line bob with side-swept bangs. For the most part we are all happy, although the bob ended up shorter than I wanted and the bangs are driving me crazy as they keep falling in front of my right eye. At least hair grows, right?




Saturday, July 26, 2008

Easy Silence

Or: Reason # 1,689,342 why my daughter rocks


Lately Saskia and I have both been really into listening to the Dixie Chicks. I'm not really a country fan, but I love this group. Their vocals are amazing and their lyrics are thought provoking. Plus I love a good scandal, and after all the hullabaloo surrounding their anti-Bush remarks my curiosity was peaked. But this post isn't really about that...

We've taken to listening to their latest album Taking the Long Way every night at bedtime. When my favorite song, Easy Silence, came on, Saskia asked me who I thought the singer was singing about. I said I thought she was singing about her husband or her child. Saskia replied, "I don't think so, I think she's singing about her mom." Awww, I thought I was going to cry.

You can watch a video of the Chicks live performance at the American Music Awards here, and read the lyrics of the song below. Then you'll understand why her comment makes my heart swell with love and sadness.

Easy Silence
by the Dixie Chicks

When the calls and conversations
Accidents and accusations
Messages and misperceptions
Paralyze my mind

Buses, cars, and airplanes leaving
Burning fumes of gasoline And everyone is running
And I come to find a refuge in the

Easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay

Monkeys on the barricades
Are warning us to back away
They form commissions trying to find
The next one they can crucify

And anger plays on every station
Answers only make more questions
I need something to believe in
Breathe in sanctuary in the

Easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay

Children lose their youth too soon
Watching war made us immune
And I've got all the world to lose
But I just want to hold on to the

Easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me

The easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sunday night fun

Sunday night the girls and I spent about an hour hanging out in the backyard. Our intention was to catch fireflies but as they weren't out yet we did some other stuff...

like swing. Can you see in the picture that she's got her MP3 player and headphones on. Listening to Everlife so loud she can't hear me talk to her. Oh yeah.



and shooting hoops.



and watching the cat eat grass, hoping he's not going to puke when he comes back inside.



Finally the fireflies started to come out. Miss Thing wishes she was 16 didn't want to participate, so little one did all the catching. She's getting quite good, she caught 4!



Making a wish. As far as I can remember her wishes were: 1) to see Harvey (the cat) climb a tree. 2) to see Harvey climb 100 trees 3) to turn into a butterfly 4) to see a unicorn



At this point I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes so I forced the kids back inside. Miss Thing promptly plopped onto her bed to listen to more music.



I think the main differences between six and 16 at this point are that she actually lets me in her room, and she smiled when I took the picture instead of scowling. Oh, and at 16 instead of Everlife on that MP3 player she'll probably have the 2018 version of the Cure or Nirvana. At least I hope so.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Photo Challange: "A Day in the Life" [Photo Heavy]

Last Friday Cathy issued a challenge to document a day of our life in photos. I actually took all these pictures on Monday, but this is the first time I've had to put this entry together, so sorry I'm so late!

Fiona usually gets me up while Saskia is still sleeping. She runs straight for the table, she's my little eating machine. Here's breakfast for her:



Followed by breakfast for mommy. Ummmm cappuccino.



Fiona goes down to the family room to play, accompanied by Noggin while mommy starts doing homework



Eventually Saskia gets up and Fiona joins her sister for her traditional "second breakfast" which is a regular meal in her mind



Then the girls head back to the family room for TV and play. Saskia gets on her computer to play with her "Barbie Fashion Designer" game. Have I mentioned before that her dream is to be a fashion designer?



After I've studied for a couple of hours I take some time to tackle a little housework. The kitchen is in desperate need of some attention




Around 1pm it's lunch time. Yes, we are still in pajamas



At this point I'm feeling guilty for not having spent any time with the kids yet, and for the fact that they've been hanging with the electronic babysitters all day, so I force them to come outside and do some gardening with me





After gardening I did a little more homework, then it's off to work for me.



When I get home at 10:30pm, this is what I find. I miss my girls.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

10 Memorable Vacation Moments

From Ten on Tuesday, in no order other than what jumps to mind first:

1) Visiting Washington, D.C. with my family when I was 13 or so. Seeing the Washington and Lincoln Monuments were cool and I was totally in awe of the Supreme Court building but the Vietnam Memorial sticks out in my mind and heart. The impact of seeing all those names on that long, long black wall was huge to my pacifist, teenage self, especially since my dad (a Navy Vet) knew several of those names personally.

2) Family vacation to Alaska, 1992 or 93 (I was 16). Denali National park was amazingly beautiful, but I embarrassed my parents by having an hysterical crying fit when we visited a wolf farm (aka pen where real wolves are kept on three feet long chains their entire sad live). I could really relate to the longing for freedom in their eyes.

3) Going with my grandparents to visit the Grand Canyon when I was 9. Crossing into Mexico for a tourist's lunch and getting s-i-c-k.

4) Swimming with the sting rays off of Grand Cayman. Driving around the island and seeing the horrible shacks the poor people were living in, in comparison to the gorgeous spreads of the English bankers.

5) Paris, my twenty-third birthday. Running through the streets with the Korean girl I met at my hostel, trying to get back before curfew at 11pm and having strange Frenchmen trying to "help" us find our way.

6) Prague. EVERYTHING was beautiful, but one of the best places I visited was the Strahov Monastery and their library. The St. Nicholas church was pretty damn amazing too.

7) Renting a car and driving around Crete with my sister. Coming around a corner on a one lane dirt road with a cliff on one side leading straight up and one on the other side leading straight down to the ocean, only to find the entire road blocked by sheep. Pretending we were Irish because Americans weren't too popular there at the time (this was during NATOs intervention in the Kosovo War).

8) Spain, 2000. Most memorable was standing in the Seville Cathedral in front of the Tomb of Christopher Columbus with a girl I met on the bus from Mexico and discussing the history of our two nations and the impact Columbus had on our people.

9) Berlin and the Love Parade!

10) Touring every cathedral in Cologne with my mom while pregnant with Saskia. After a full day of walking all over the city we were relaxing in our hotel room and I was pigging out on candied fruit. All that sugar got Saskia jumpy and I felt her move for the very first time.

Just checkin in- 7/15

I'm too tired to think of a coherent blog entry, so I'm just going to give you the highlights:

* Finals are next week. I have one massively unbelievable take-home final due Monday and one in-class final on Wednesday. I also have a research proposal due on the 29th but I'm not stressed about that, it's almost done, just needs a little revision. The in-class final is scaring me though, I've managed to go about 1 1/2 years without taking a class that has a final exam, it's always been projects or papers. The thought of memorizing lots of stuff then having to spew it back out coherently under a 2 hour time crunch is freaky. So wish me luck.

* I'm working a lot this week. Not much else to say about that.

* I'm guilt tripping because my crazy schedule is forcing us to miss both kid's gymnastics classes this week, the one and only thing we do for them. I'm also guilt tripping because this weeks photo challenge, "A day in the life" made it extremely clear how little time I spend with my children each day, and what a sucky mom I am.

Did I mention how tired I am?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Big Brother- he's not just watching anymore

This article from Yahoo News regarding privacy protection is a must read. Basically a federal judge has ordered YouTube to release their viewing records in relation to the billion dollar Viacom lawsuit against them, which maintains that they are suborning copyright infringement by allowing people to post clips of TV shows, movies, music videos and other media that does not belong to them. My question is, how far are they going to take this? The potential for personal prosecution is great. Not only could the people who posted the clips eventually be sued for copyright violations, so could the viewers! According to the Yahoo article: "The YouTube database includes information on when each video gets played. Attached to each entry is each viewer's unique login ID and the Internet Protocol, or IP, address for that viewer's computer — identifiers that, while seemingly anonymous, can often be traced to specific individuals, or at least their employers or hometowns" (JESDANUN, July 2008). Scared yet? It gets worse.

The article discusses more than just the Viacom/YouTube lawsuit. The journalist goes on to discuss other cases where private records have been sought and received for use as evidence. For example, the US Justice Department subpoenaed search records from the major search engine providers related to people's online pornography search habits. Did you know that every search you perform is saved corporately for 1 year?! I can understand if they are tracking illegal activities such as child pornography how such records would be valuable, but in this case they are attempting to;"
to prove that the 1998 law is 'more effective than filtering software in protecting minors from exposure to harmful materials on the Internet'."(McCullagh and Mills, 2006). In other words, the goal was to find out how many people were search for legal pornographic images, not illegal ones. Does the government really need to know that?

In light of such information and the certainty that companies have more data on our lives than we could ever imagine it seems the only recourse for the individual is to become exceedingly careful with the data we share. And quit watching videos on YouTube.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Chicken

There are a lot of things I'm afraid of; spiders, snakes, COCKROACHES! but I don't believe in passing on my irrational fears to my kids so I usually put on a brave act in front of them. I'm the queen of spider catching without flinching. I've even promised my daughter she can have a pet snake when she's ten (she loves the slimy things). Today however, my bravery failed me, and it was when confronted with this thing.





The picture is from flickr.com, I was too freaked out to think of snapping a picture. I eventually succeeded in vacuuming the creature up but it put up a really good fight. I admit it, I screamed like a banshee a couple of times. Now Fiona is tiptoeing through the house, afraid of encountering one. Way to go mom.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Something to smile at

Thanks to The Shifted Librarian for posting this video on her blog. I loved it so much I wanted to make sure all my friends saw it, so I'm posting it too. To learn more about the creator of the video check out this article in The New York Times.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Next star of the WNBA? Photo heavy






Fiona got a basketball hoop and ball for her birthday about 8 weeks ago, but lame-ass mom that I am I just got around to unpacking it and putting it together this weekend. It was worth the effort, she loved it and played for about for about 2 hours straight. Here are a few shots. If you look closely at the last one you can see the ball going into the hoop, way to go Noni!

Photo challange: Fireworks

This is my first attempt to take part in one of my friend's photo challenges, and my first attempt to post multiple pics to a blog entry, so bear with me...

My dear friend Jess challenged us to to post pictures about fireworks this week. Ours were pretty lame and never left the ground, however the kids still liked them, as you can see by their faces.





They're holding glass jars because before the "show" they were trying to catch fireflies. Honestly that was probably more fun than the fireworks, but at least they were sweet enough not to say so.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Strange child

My kids have always been pretty good about avoiding any of those strange, slightly dangerous activities that are characteristic of children. They never put things in their mouths as babies, never showed any interest in the medicine cabinet or cleaning products, never tried to climb the shelves (okay, Fiona did it once) or pull dressers down on themselves. I thought I had gotten away with pretty low-maintenance kids, at least in this area. Until today that is.

Fiona came asking if I could "get a bogey" out of her nose. I was cooking, distracted and said to just blow her nose already! She replied that she had already tried that... I said she'd have to wait. She starts to walk away, then says the fateful words "What if it's not a bogey, what if it's a Polly Pocket?" WHAT?! Sure enough, she shoved a Polly Pocket magnetic purse up her nose. With quite a bit of fussing and some pain on her part we managed to pull the darn thing out with tweezers. I still don't know what possessed her to stick something up her nose, and I probably never will. So much for my low-maintenance kids.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Just checkin in

I used to write these "Just checking in" posts on MM fairly regularly, to keep my friends caught up on the daily stuff going on in my life, and I figured I'd continue the trend here. As I'm not in the mood for a lot of verbiage (shocking I know) I thought I'd give you just a bulleted list today:

* Yesterday was my birthday, nothing special happened, although I did enjoy a nice surprise today when I dropped my kid's off at my best friend here in town's house and she had a cake and mini-party ready for me. Thanks D, that was so sweet!

* School is going the same as always. Busy, lots of projects to work on and not enough time to do them. I'm currently working on a research proposal to study the usefulness of information literacy programs in technical college settings, an essay on a controversial topic in collection development (I've yet to pick my topic) and generally trying to catch up on readings and quizzes as I'm a few weeks behind...

* The kids are over summer vacation, or at least they are over being with each other 24/7. They are constantly fighting and screaming at each other, and Fiona has a major breakdown at least 3 times a day. When does school start?

* On the plus side, Fiona is back in gymnastics and doing great, and I found a new class for Saskia called "Cheernastics". It's gymnastics with a little bit of cheer thrown in. Since cheerleading is the one sport that she is interested in, this seems like a good way to trick her into doing the workout she'll need in order to gain the strength necessary to one day be a cheerleader.

* That's about it. For the weekend we have no big plans, just grill something and maybe hang out at the park for a bit.

Wishing all of you a great 4th of July weekend, love and hugs, C.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I am SUCH a dork!

I've been feeling rather unloved because my last two posts had no comments every time I checked on them. I went tonight to publish a new post and for the first time in two days had a look at my "dashboard" only to see that there were 15 comments awaiting moderation! I am such a dork, I totally forgot that when I went public (just for you, Jules baby) I set the comments to requiring moderation. Duh. At least I know now that my friends do still love me. Now can you see me blushing through the computer?

I think I'd better undo that darn moderation thing! Oh, and Joss love, I got your comment but deleted it after saving your info so that the whole world won't get ahold of your number.

Love ya'll.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

When a Bee's Got to Pee

"When a Bee's got to pee, a Bee's got to pee!"

My 4 year old daughter said this to me a few weeks ago and all I could think was, "WTF?" Oookay... but since then I've discovered where she got this pearl of wisdom, from The Mighty B, a new show on Nickelodeon. I have to say, both my daughters and myself are nuts about this show. Bessie, the main character is "the world's most ambitious Honeybee Scout". She is also a complete geek. Being a certified geek myself, I can really relate to the antics of Bessie, and the other characters crack me up, especially Portia and her mom, Mrs. Gibbons. Don't we all know mom's like this one?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

When the music's over...

turn out the lights. Well, the music isn't really over Jim, it's just moved.

For those of you in the know, yes, I'm referring to the end of my Maya's Mom life. I've been on MM just short of one year now. It's served me well, linked me to several fantastic, fabulous friends. I am grateful to MM for the people it has brought me in contact with, grateful for the support those people have given me, the good times they brought and the bad times they carried me through. But in the words of a dear friend, it's time to move on.

As my fellow MMers (and ex-MMers) know, a few months ago we had some very bad ju-ju on the site. Several wonderful people were stalked, threatened and harassed by a certifiable psycho in SAHM's clothing. I told myself all along that I wasn't deeply affected by it, I thought I handled the situation with class and discernment, I thought I didn't let it get to me. But since then I have found myself participating less and less in the site. I found that I am not as cool as I thought I was. I found that my trust had been broken, and that I was incapable of letting new people in. So I stuck to my group of friends and became more and more discontented with the site. Eventually I had to realize it wasn't just the place, it was me.

I'm happy to be moving on, to be turning over a new leaf with this brand-new blog of mine. I hope very much that my friends I met through MM will stay in touch with me here. I want to say thank-you to them, for all they've given me. You are a wonderful group of women, and I appreciate each of you. I wish you all the best in your life journey, and hope I continue to be a part of it.

XOXO ~Chrissi

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A long story and a telling dream

There's a story I've been meaning to share with my newer friends for a long time, but I've never quite managed to get up the energy. It's the story of an old friend, a strange conflict and a year of silence. It ends, or continues, with a strongly telling dream.

I had a friend when I lived overseas. This friend and I met in a baby play group, our first-born are about 6 months apart. We connected at first because we were two ex-pats from the same country in a foreign place, but we found over time we had a lot in common. There was a lot different too. She is much more outgoing than me, much more vibrant, much more demanding. She has a big heart and can be very generous, but can also be very selfish. She lives constantly surrounded by drama and needs people very, very much. I on the other hand love people, but also need my alone time. I rarely ask for favors, and don't expect people to be there for me at the drop of a pin. But we are both introspective, we are both spiritually inclined, and we have a lot of spooky similar characteristics that have caused us to say at times that we must be long lost relatives of some kind.

This friend became over time my best friend. We talked every day on the phone for hours at a time, for about 4 years. However things weren't always great. Like sisters, we had fights. At one point she stopped talking to me for about 3 months. She was upset with life-choices I had made (hates my husband, didn't think I should go through with my second pregnancy) and didn't want to be around me. It hurt me terribly, as she was my only friend and my only connection in that country. She forgave ME my indiscretions shortly before my second was born and we went back to being friends. But I never really forgave her for abandoning me.

To step back for a moment, I have to say this is our pattern, my pattern. She gets upset with me, I apologize. I never tell her when I'm upset with her. I hold it all inside and let it build, not healthy, just my way.

After my second was born I had major PPD. My husband was in another country, I was alone in a foreign place with no money, no family, no car, and two children under the age of 3. And my best friend was going through a split with her man and would call for hours to cry on my shoulder. My shoulders were too weak for that. I felt she only came back to me as a friend because she needed my support, but she wasn't giving me hers. Lots of little things contributed to the feeling, but it was a bleak time.

We went on the same way for another year and half or so. Then I moved to the States. We still talked every day, sometimes for hours. She came and visited us several times. But that in itself was the root of more problems.

To make a long story a little shorter, she and my husband hate each other with a passion. Her visits became increasingly problematic and stressful for me. Without going into a lot of detail as to why, I began to develop a lot of resentment towards her. I felt taken advantage of, yet again.

One year ago she was supposed to come visit and stay for several weeks. She never asked if she could come, just planned it. I gave as many subtle hints as I could that it was a bad idea before I had to flat out say she couldn't come. She was horribly upset and we fought and cried for hours. Then we didn't speak for a week. She called again and we discussed everything and I thought we were fine. But I haven't heard from her since.

After a few weeks it was clear there was a problem. I was going through my own stresses and didn't feel strong enough to deal with her. I knew I would get all the blame for everything, as usual. And I was feeling angry about a lot of past things I had never let out. So I didn't call.

It's been almost exactly a year since we last spoke. I think of her and her children often and I think of calling or writing, but I still don't want to deal with the fallout. However...

a couple of days ago my eldest had a fight with her best friend. I was telling her how every friendship has problems, all friends fight, the important thing is to work it out. I felt like such a hypocrite! That night I had a dream that my friend and her children came to visit. We had a long talk and in the end we hugged and I told her how much I had missed her. I woke up with a pit in my stomach, thinking it was real. Admitting to myself for the first time honestly that I do miss her.

I still don't know if I am ready to open the can of worms, however I think I'm a good step closer. Perhaps one of these days I'll sit down and write her a letter like this one, in which I let her know how I feel. Perhaps soon...

Getting started is the hardest part

Whenever I have a big project to do, or any homework for that matter, I find myself procrastinating getting started for the longest time. Hours, days, weeks.... Even with a deadline, I will put off that starting moment as long as I can. I don't know why, once I do start I plug along and it's not that bad. I sometimes even enjoy it! But for whatever reason I just hate to start something...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What I love about my job

For anyone who doesn't know, I work as a librarian at a small, private college. My job has it's ups and downs, like any job. Sometimes I get frustrated dealing with the corporate policies and seemingly irrational decisions that get passed down for us to deal with. Sometimes I question whether this is the place for me. But there is one saving grace that makes it all worth while, the interaction I get to have with the students.

It's funny in a way, because when I started library school I wasn't interested in serving the public at all. I had no interest in reference and thought I would spend my days in technical services or the IT department, working with the backbones of the library. Imagine how shocked I was when I started working and found that I liked helping people answer their questions. And over the year I've spent here that like has turned to love. I love working with students, I love connecting them with information they wouldn't otherwise find.

The students here often come from hard or disadvantaged backgrounds. They are trying make a better life for themselves, for their families. But it can be hard to succeed academically when you have never been given the skills necessary for a college career. If you've never learned how to use a library, never learned how to find, evaluate or cite information, it's hard to succeed. That's where I come in.

The beginning of each new quarter I spend most of my working hours going into classrooms and teaching students how to use our virtual library, how to search databases for articles or books and how to evaluate websites. I often feel like a saleswoman during these presentations, trying to convince the students with my pitch that yes indeed, these are the resources for you! Save time, save work, impress your instructors! Let me show you how it's done!

At the end of each session I feel wiped out, but in a good way. This is my passion, opening these student's eyes to the world of information. It's hard work, but it's worth every effort if I've reached even one of them. It's my passion, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A little about me...

or conversely titled, "why I'm starting a blog".

My name is Christina, aka Chrissi and I am a 30-something mom, librarian and graduate student. I've been blogging via a social networking site called Maya's Mom for almost a year now, and I've decided to strike it out on my own. The majority of my first posts will be older imports from journal entries I wrote on Maya's Mom. I want to keep all my eggs in one basket, so to speak. When I get caught up with that I will attempt to entertain you with some of the newer antics stemming from my crazy, hectic life.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gratitude

Today I am grateful for my husband, without whose help I could never do all that I do. He works hard all day at his job, then comes home and works hard around the house to cook, clean, shop and care for the kids so that I can study and go to classes. He's a good dad and he loves his children very much, he'd do anything for them. He's way more fun than me and most of the time less strict then I am as well, and the kids love him with every fiber of their being.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tattoos

I'm too lazy to take pictures of my tattoos, but I still wanted to write something.

I have 2 tattoos. The one on my left leg I honestly regret. I was 18 and I just really wanted a tattoo, without knowing what. So I just picked a design I liked in a parlor. It's a sort of gypsy, fortune teller figure, like something out of a dungeon's and dragon's comic book. I liked it at the time because it was beautiful and represented the mystical side of me. I don't like it now because it has little connect to my present life. And at about 4 inches high it's damn inconvinient, I can never wear skirts or dresses to work. I've thought about getting it removed but I don't have the money and I'm worried about scarring. I guess now she serves as a symbol of the danger of acting without thinking.

My other tattoo is on my right ankle, right on the bone (hurt like hell!). I got it when I was 16. A friend did it with a needle and ink and it looks like a jail-house tattoo. It's a small Celtic sun symbol. I was really into Wicca at the time and I like the image.

My friend died when he was only 20 and I was reluctant to do anything with the tattoo for a long time, but now that I'm turning 32 and have had this for half my life I feel it is time to make a change. So for my birthday this year I am going to get the sun symbol redone and put a moon symbol on the opposite side, then have them connected into an anklet design. In the bands of the anklets I will have my two daughter's names written. The design will symbolize the interconnectedness between light and dark, good and bad, and how my love for my daughters carries me through both, again and again, never ending.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Our Girl Scout camping adventure

As many of you know, my six year old daughter and I went camping this weekend at a Mother/Daughter event through Girl Scouts. Here's a little photo chronicle of the trip...


Friday night we arrived way early because I was the OPF (Outdoor Program Facilitator) for our troop house. I met "my" First-Aider and one of her friends, both of whom rocked and made the weekend 1000 times better than it would have been had they not been there. I was supposed to build a fire for our house that night, but it kept storming, then stopping, then starting again. So no fire...


Several of the people staying in our house (36 in all) arrived really late, which threw our schedule off a lot. One mom came in late and had a huge fit over the bunks that were left for her and her girls. I hadn't even met her yet and she was in my face, screaming, saying someone had to move or she would be too hot, that we had to give her our fan (as OPF I was allowed to bring one to set up in the main room, but this mom was so late all the beds in the main room were taken and she was in a seperate room), that she was never coming to camp again (like I should care?!) etc. So the first night was very unplesant, stuck in the cabin as we were.


I'll just stop to say a little something about being "in charge" here. I kind of liked it because I got to make the rules and set the tone of the experience. So no stewing privately because I didn't like how others were behaving, I got to tell them exactly what to do and when to do it (talking about things like light's out, cleaning etc). On the other hand I had to deal with all the shitty problem people and ended up doing way more than my fair share of work. It was pretty exhausting.


Saturday morning we walked the 1 mile or so down to the dining hall for breakfast. Almost the entire day was spent here. This is a picture of Saskia with some of her new friends before breakfast.



After breakfast was scrapbooking, which Saskia really is in to, a good choice for her.



During this time the girls got to go out in small groups for a 45 minute long planetarium thing (they had one of those portable ones). The theme for the weekend was two-fold, partly "tea party" and partly space and stars, another good fit for my little astronomer.


After that Saskia and I went on a 30 minute hike and visited the camp store. Then came lunch, followed by Try-It work. She earned the "Space Explorer" Try-It this weekend. At this point mom was so sick of crafts, but there were more to come! Try-It work was followed by a teapot painting party. Actually they were teapot shaped coasters. Then we had a tea party, here's my munchkin enjoying her petits fours:



Then, finally at 3:00 (what do you mean it's only 3:00!!!! It feels like I've been up for 15 hours at least) we went boating. We didn't know it until we docked, but we rowed a field mouse all around the lake. It jumped out of it's hiding place when we hit the dock and ran up the boat, under all the girl's feet, causing them to scream and jump and nearly tip us over. It's amazing that no one fell in. We tried to convince them it was cool, after all how many girls can say they've given a mouse a boat ride?


Here's a really horrible picture of me with my girlie and a cute one of her rowing the boat:




After boating was dinner, then the Ford Amateur Astronomy Club came out and gave us a presentation about the Solar System, planets, constallations and the like. They brought 5 massive telescopes (which I forgot to take a picture of, bummer) for the girls to star gaze. We were supposed to be able to see Saturn and Jupiter, but the clouds were way to thick, no one could see anything. I did find out there is a free planetarium in the town next to ours though, so I promised to take my daughter there soon.


Minus the star-gazing we spent the rest of the evening around the campfire.



We sang lots of songs that I remembered from my days in Campfire as a girl, it was very sentimental I admit I nearly cried. I'm a dork, I know.


We were back at the cabin around 10pm and started cleaning and packing for the next day. Interestingly 6 of the moms in our house bailed, some with legit reasons others not. So the last 7 moms were left to do all the cleaning (Girl Scouts always leave a place cleaner than they found it!). In the end it was probably good that some of them left, as one was the b**** from Friday night and her bff and I found out Sunday morning that the rumor in their troop was that they were bringing alcohol to the event, which is strictly forbidden. They did pack in a huge cooler so I bet the rumors were true. Just what I would have needed after that long day, drunken loud-mouths to kick out.


Sunday we had to finish cleaning, had breakfast, loaded the car and checked out.

All in all it was an awesome weekend, despite the responsibilities and the few difficult people I encountered. Saskia and I had some great bonding time. I am so greatful to the moms of these 3 girls, they and their daughters were so welcoming and kind to us and included us in their group without a second thought. That's what Girl Scouts is supposed to be! I'm also thankful to the awesome volunteers, especially the older girls who did a great job entertaining and working with our little ones. I hope to have such grounded teens!


It was a trip to remember forever. Laughing

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The party

We celebrated Fiona's 4th birthday this Sunday. I'd love to show you pictures, but my camera is off at the Kodak repair center and I don't know how to upload stuff from DH's camera (or should I say, I'm too lazy to spend time figuring it out).

Sunday morning was crazy stressful with baking the cake, cleaning and decorating. DH helped clean, which is awesome. I know I am lucky to have a man who helps so much around the house. At least, that is my mantra which I tell myself over and over again when it takes him 5 times as long to get anything done as it would've taken me. :)

My bf irl came over at one to help decorate. Between her kids and mine all of the straightening up I had done for hours before was destroyed in about 20 minutes, LOL.

At two the other guests started to arrive. I had planned out our 2 1/2 hours as following: 2-2:30 make-overs, 2:30-2:50 pin drop game, 2:50-3:10 bowling game, 3:10-3:30 musical chairs, 3:30-3:50 story game, 3:50-4:30 cake, presents and some free play time at the end. Well, it didn't quite go that way! We were done with the first 4 events by 3:00, so then we went into free play. There was a fight between two girls, and one wanted to leave so we jumped ahead and did the story game early, then went back for a little free play until cake & ice cream time.

It was interesting because the girls didn't play together as a group, they divided up into pairs based on who knew each other before the party. The 4 eldest girls were more or less on their own in two pairs for the whole party. Fiona and the other two little girls sort of played on their own. All in all it was a nice party, just a little strange with the dynamics between some of the girls.

By the time 4:30 rolled around I was exhausted! After cleaning up a little I had to sit down and try to get my head together, as I had an e-conference at 6:00. I managed to get through that, then I was DONE. I went to bed at 9pm!

It was a great weekend and a fun party; now it's back to the grindstone. I have lots of projects due this week so I won't be around much. Lots of love to everyone!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

When I was little I wanted to be...

When I was little, up until the age of 8 or so I wanted to be an archaeologist or Egyptologist. I was fascinated by ancient cultures and used to read lots of historical fiction, I even wrote a report in the 3rd or 4th grad about the mummification process.

Starting somewhere are 4th or 5th grade I became fascinated by the law. I watched LA Law all the time, carried a briefcase instead of a backpack to school and planned to become a prosecuting attorney, I even had my school picked out, Gonzaga University in Washington. I worshiped Sandra Day O'Conner and dreamed about becoming Attorney General of the US or sitting on the Supreme Court. I wanted to "put the bad guys away".

Later in high school sometime that dream started to fade and I went through a bunch of different career plans, OBGYN, CSI, astronomer, chemist... I loved science in high school.

When I got to college I had a fabulous history professor who rekindled my love of history and archeology, and encouraged me to pursue it. So I got my B.A. in history, with a minor in anthropology/archeology. The problem was, my only career path was to get my PhD and research or teach. I would have enjoyed that, but I was impatient and a little scared. I worked in the library and loved it, so that's when I started thinking about becoming a librarian. I get to combine pieces of all the stuff I like, so it's really the perfect job for me. :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day

My Mother's Day was mostly lovely. The kids have been itching with anticipation all week. I suppose that is a benefit to them being young, I know in another 5 years they won't give a damn about Mother's Day. But for now, it's right up there with Christmas, except all about Mama.



My dear husband and adorable kids let me sleep in this morning, then brought me breakfast in bed. I got my presents from the girls; lots of homemade cards, a pin cushion that Saskia made me at school, marigolds for my garden, a teddy bear which Saskia bought me when rollerskating INSTEAD OF getting an ice cream cone (which is what the money was for, the darling) and a wooden flower with a picture of Fiona in the middle which she made at preschool. The Paul lugged in his present to me, a patio chair so that I can sit outside and work while the girls play over the summer. As dorky as that sounds, it was really nice. We have no patio furniture and I've been pining for something so that I can let them play outside, as I'm too paranoid to let them out by themselves, yet too busy to stay out for long with them.



Then I spent an hour lounging in bed, drinking coffee and watching America's Next Top Model reruns. At noon I finally turned on my laptop and phone, only to be surprised by another wonderful present, a gift certificate to L'Esprit from my dear friend Cristina, aka HomeSlice! I was in shock, it was such a sweet, considerate thing to do. Thanks again Homey! I have no idea what I have done to earn such fabulous friends as I've made here on MM, but I am so thankful for each and every one of you!



After some time bumming around the Net and MM I made myself get down to business, which was homework. My to-do list by Tuesday: take 2 quizes, write a 2 page paper, and do research for 4 projects. This was the frustrating part of my day. I spent about 3 hours on the research for the first project and came away with little of value. Switched to project 2, found zilch. Took a break, did laundry, and came back to take the 2 online quizes. Did well on those, yay! Had dinner (which DH cooked, because techinically I wasn't supposed to be working today, HA!), gave the kids a bath, rocked my baby in the rocking chair (I can't believe she'll be four on Wednesday!) read to the girls and took them to bed. Got up again and wrote the paper. And here I am. I'm content with the work I did, bummed that I didn't spend more quality time with my kids on this Mother's Day, and full of love for the two little bundles of joy I brought into this world.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Thank you mom and dad

As many of you know, my parents spent the last 9 days with us here in MI. I delivered them to Windsor, Ontario today, where they will hop on a train to sight-see across Canada on their way home to Washington state.

I am so grateful for my parents. They did so much for us while they were here, from babysitting to home improvement to landscaping to buying us lots of stuff, including filling up my gas tank twice. I suppose as a grown up I should refuse these gifts, and part of me feels very guilty for letting them spend so much money on us. But instead I choose to feel grateful, for the love and assistance they have given us.

My parents live so far away, they can't just babysit on a moment's notice (not even a month's notice!) and they can't do things with us more than once a year or so. They make up for it by spoiling us rotten when they do get the chance to see us. I hope that we can make up for it some day, but in the meantime I will just be grateful that I have such wonderful, loving parents.

Thank you mom and dad, you have no idea how much we appreciate you. Not just for the money you spend, but for the love you show, for the kindness, for the acceptance, for the support and approval you give. We love you.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Just stoppin' by

To say hi and catch you up on my week...



I've been a little MIA lately and I apologize for not keeping in touch better. My parents have been visiting from Washington state since last Saturday, they are leaving on Monday. It's been really nice. The girls are getting totally spoiled by grandma, who is giving them oodles of attention and playing with them all the time. I don't know what I'll do when she leaves, Fiona especially is going to be devastated to lose her playmate. She'll probably expect ME to pay attention to her, can you imagine?! J/K... kindof...



My dad has been working around the house, he's the ultimate handyman. Him and DH spent a few days removing black mold (eeewww) from one of the basement rooms that we hadn't been using. They re-cemented the floor, put in new wall paneling and carpet and DH has now set it up as an office for himself. It look great and DH is thrilled! Then my dad worked on my yard for me for a couple of days, he pulled out several huge flowerbeds (someone who lived in our house a long time ago was obviously a gardening fanatic, but I don't have the time to maintain their work and everything was horribly overgrown). So now I have big patches of empty earth that will eventually be sewn with new grass, as soon as I make sure all the weed roots are dead.



My parents are great and we get along pretty well. There have been some minor tensions, which usually manifest themselves by everyone being really sarcastic and snarky with each other for a little while before settling down. It's honestly not that bad, which I'm very thankful for.



Dad has also bought us lots of presents, I think he sees how much we struggle to get by and he feels the need to help us out, which I'm cool with. He bought DH a lawnmower and weed-eater (we didn't have a lawnmower!) and I got a water-cooler (woo-hoo, no more plastic bottles giving me a guilty conscious) an some work on my car done. The kids got new shoes and some clothes.



I'll be driving them over to Canada on Monday and I'll be really sad to see them go. We don't get together nearly as often as I'd like and we'll miss each other a lot.



In other news, Fiona's surgery has healed really well and she is doing great. She is totally obsessed with doctor stuff right now and played surgeon for 6 hours straight yesterday, she set up a hospital in her playroom and had several patients to take care of. For some reason she insists that we call her Dr. Melody, don't ask me why...



Saskia is doing great at school and gymnastics, her teacher pulled me aside Thursday night to say that she is the most diligent student he has, that she keeps trying until she gets it right and refuses to give up. That's so wonderful, because those of you who know Saskia may recall that she is normally a quitter, she usually isn't interested in doing something if she can't get it perfect the first time. So I'm really proud of her for devoting herself to this, even if it is the most expensive sport she could have picked.... :)



I'm at the end of my week off from school, classes start again Tuesday. I'll be going full time this summer so you probably won't see as much of me as usual, I'll be juggling a very full load. By the time August rolls around and I get a month off I'll probably be in a vegetative state... oh well.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fiona's surgery

Many of you have already read bits and pieces regarding Fiona's surgery, feel free to skip this journal if you like. I'm mostly writing it for myself, as I do not keep a diary or blog my MM journals are the best way for me to remember key events.

We had to be at the hospital on Wed. morning at 10:30. We checked in, then were herded (believe me, this verb is the BEST description of what happened) along with apx. 20 other people to the children's surgery waiting area. This room was horrible. Super loud and overcrowded, with nothing for the kids to do and soap operas blaring on the TV. The receptionist was absolutely apathetic. She refused to get off her butt for any reason. She had no PA, so every time she would call a patient only those people sitting next to her desk could hear her. Things like that are particularly annoying to me, like nails on a chalkboard. As if I wasn't antsy enough!

We had to sit in this horrible room with a hungry, thirsty and bored 3 year old for nearly 2 hours. Then we were called back to the actual hospital bit. The nurses there were very nice and helped me lose a little bit of the anger I was feeling towards the place. We had to wait again for about 45 minutes for the anesthesiologist to come check Fiona out. She had a slight cough so the first one called in a second, who called in a third.... I guess any kind of respiratory problem can be a complication with anesthesiology so they wanted to make sure she was okay. They gave her a clean bill of health and prepped her for the surgery. I got to put on the full gear (mask, head cover, gown) and carry her into the OR. I laid her down and held her hands while she breathed in the stuff to put her to sleep... It was awful, I was glad to be there for her but seeing the fear and panic in her eyes was terrible. Still she was very brave, didn't cry or move. When she was out I gave her a kiss and a nurse rushed me out.

The next hour was very nerve wracking. I broke down and cried when I walked out, it was so awful to see her lying on the table unconscious. She was supposed to be in for about 45 minutes, once that hit I started to panic, "Why haven't they called us yet?!"

After about an hour the doctor called, she did fine. She was taken to a recovery room until she woke up, then moved to a waking room, at which point Paul and I were able to join her. She was sleeping when we came in, looked like a little angel. I felt so happy to see her okay, and also so bad that I had put her through this experience.

She was groggy for a while and complaining of pain, but they sent us home anyway. Once home, she would have flair ups of pain which got worse as the day wore on. By 9pm she was screaming in pain... she also had a fever so I called the hospital. The doctor I talked to was very relaxed and kept insisting once she peed (which she hadn't yet) she'd be fine. The problem was she was refusing to go. Finally around 9:30pm I got her to more or less fall asleep on the loo and she relaxed enough to let go. After that she was much better.

Before we move on to Thursday, let me say something about how we were feeling. Before the surgery all I had told her was that she was going to go to the hospital, go to sleep, wake up and come home. Because of that she did really well in the hospital and very brave. But afterward she was traumatized. When she saw her scar for the first time she freaked. I told her it was where the doctor fixed her boo-boo and she screamed, "What boo-boo?!" Duh, she didn't even know there was anything wrong. Now all of a sudden she goes to sleep and wakes up with a scar? How horrible.

There were other signs that the experience was traumatic. She would have these flashes of panic and bursts of crying for no reason. She freaked out about getting her first dose of medicine and screamed "Not the mask!" Since then I have to keep reassuring her that "the mask" is only at the hospital.

She's been very clingy, very demanding and very frayed. It didn't help that Thursday she got slammed with a bad sinus infection which made her fever shoot up to 102 degrees and left her with a headache that wouldn't go away. She cried for 3 hours straight until I switched her from the Tylenol with codeine that the hospital had given us to plain Motrin. 30 minutes later her fever and headache were gone and she got out of bed for the first time since she came home. Friday we took her to the pediatrician and he prescribed antibiotics to get her over that hurdle.

Now she is on the road to recovery. She is still emotionally tender, in fact she had a panic attack/melt-down this morning at 6:30am because I had to go to work. She NEVER cries because I'm going to work.

Her physical recovery will also take longer than the doctor led us to believe, in fact everything has been worse than anyone made it out to be, which pisses me off. I understand not wanting parents to worry but they should be allowed to know the truth about what to expect.

I've written a lot here, I'd be surprised if anyone is still with me. Just a few last words on the emotional impact of this minor surgery:

*It wasn't minor to us. It was nerve-wracking, and it was traumatic. Not the same trauma as if, say, your child had a major accident but traumatic all the same.

*It was traumatic for Fiona. Even though she can't remember the surgery, she KNOWS that something happened to her and her psyche is affected. She's nervous and scared and I hate that.

Pffft. I'm sure there is more I wanted to note down about this, I should've journaled two days ago while it was fresh but now my brain is jelly. If anyone has read this all, thanks for listening!