Thursday, February 28, 2008


A few days ago, I stood in Target looking around unfamiliarly in the “boy” aisle of toys. My sweet little soon-to-be four year old daughter is enamored with all things rough and tumble. I am ok with this - - it doesn’t bother me in the least that she isn’t what you would consider really girly-girl. Don’t get me wrong – Aleita does have some tendencies toward the female persuasion – she insists on being sprayed with her special strawberry body spray each morning, she loves to wear barrettes and hair thingies as often as possible, and she loves when she gets to wear a nightgown instead of regular pajama pants. However, when it comes to playtime, she definitely prefers to be just “one of the boys.”

As I have mentioned on my blog before, Aleita almost primarily plays with the boys at her daycare. When she mentions her best buddies at school, they are all boys. In fact, she has become something of the leader among the boys in her class. Unlike her older sister who developed an interest in all things Barbie by age three, Aleita could really care less for the ever-smiling, perpetually tippy-toed long-haired doll with the big boobs, skinny waist, expansive wardrobe, and unlimited career options. Of late, Aleita much prefers Power Rangers, Spiderman, cars, trains, and trucks – which lead me to my confused state in Target a few days ago.

I stood there simply overwhelmed in the boy toy aisle. I don’t have sons, and have always been a pretty girly-girl myself, so I was completely clueless. Aleita’s birthday is next week, but her birthday party is this Friday. I had already been to order her “Power Ranger” cake at Wal-Mart, then stopped by Target for a few things. Since I was at Target anyway, I hit the toy aisle in hope of some inspiration. I stood before the Power Ranger toys and realized that they all looked alike to me. I am sure that Chris would have known instantly exactly which Power Ranger figures she already had, but I simply had no idea. Instead of accidentally buying one that she already had, I settled on a Power Ranger headband that makes noises and in which she can change the color from red to green to yellow and back again.

Yesterday, I took Maggie birthday shopping for Aleita. She picked out some Power Ranger underpants in the little boys department (no, I am not kidding), a blue Power Ranger toy, and two Hot Wheels cars. It was difficult to hold Maggie’s interest long enough to really look carefully at the toys she was selecting for her sister. I too, actually had difficulty taking the time to look – they all just seem to be an assortment of colored plastic men with varying weapons to me. The moment she was done, she said, “can we go look at the Barbie aisle now?” I gladly let her roam down the pink aisle full of Barbies and dolls before we continued on our way. At least this aisle, I understand.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Too bad you can’t see me, because I am not here. This morning, Aleita “misappeared” me. I was teasing her, calling her my “huggy bear,” and she kept insisting that no, she was a Power Ranger - - so I started calling her my “huggy bear Power Ranger.” She got that Aleita-I’ve-had-it-with-you face going on, then she pulled out her pretend magic wand and waved it at me. She then informed me that she had just made me “misappear.” She said if I would stop calling her that, she would bring me back tonight. Here’s hoping!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


“Attractive Hawaiian shirt” is an oxymoron. On Saturday, I was hoodwinked into accepting the purchase of a new Hawaiian shirt to add to the already existing assortment of bad Hawaiian shirts in my husband’s wardrobe. We were in Chicago this past weekend, and the only shopping I did was for an hour in one of my favorite bargain-hunting spots, Nordstrom Rack. I suppose I only have myself to blame for leaving Chris with too much time on his hands as I perused the overflowing racks of clothing and shoes.

As I was almost finished looking and ready to go try on a few things, Chris came up to me holding two shirts - - one was the Hawaiian shirt, the other a hideous short-sleeved red and blue plaid number that practically screamed “tourist dad.” The look on my face had to have said it all as I looked at him. He asked, “which one do you like better?” to which I answered, “neither.”

He persisted, saying, “but if you had to pick one, which would it be?” I told him that the plaid number was horrible – even worse than most of the plaid shirts he usually latches onto (have I ever mentioned that I really dislike most short-sleeved plaid shirts?) By default, I had unknowingly just selected the Hawaiian shirt to accompany us home. After the purchases were complete that day, I looked at the receipt and saw he had paid $45 for the shirt. “You paid $45 for that shirt?!” I asked in disbelief. Chris then proudly informed me that it was a Tommy Bahama shirt and retailed for $90 - - - as though somehow the fact that it was a good brand name shirt made up for the fact that it was still an ugly Hawaiian print shirt.

I never win these arguments about these loud Hawaiian shirts, so I don’t even know why I bother anymore. I asked him if he fancied himself like Magnum P.I., but he reminded me that he didn’t have a Ferrari in the garage, as well as the fact that he lacked a mustache. I should know better - - Chris comes by this unnatural fascination with Hawaiian shirts honestly, as in, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. If you want to check out another collection of Hawaiian shirts, you have to only take a gander into his dad’s closet.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Tonight as I was getting Maggie ready for bed, she was telling about some of the boys in her class having a contest at recess today to see who could make the best armpit fart noise. Ahh. . . the wonder and amusement of seven year old boys. I told Maggie that her daddy won me in an armpit farting contest. I fully expected her to say, "MOMMY!" in her loud pretend indignant voice, but instead she said, "really?" so of course, I embellished.

I told her that he and two other men wanted to marry me, but Grandma and Papa told them that the one who could marry me had to make the loudest armpit fart. She looked at me wide-eyed and said, "and daddy won?" Without really trying, she had bought my crazy story hook, line and sinker.

I said, "well of course he won, we're married, aren't we?" I then told her that his beard almost got in the way of his winning. "It did?" she asked. "Daddy had a beard?" She was quite surprised at these revelations about our courtship that had gone unknown to her for all this time. "Oh yes," I told her, "Daddy had a beard down to his belt - and he had a small bird's nest in it. He almost knocked the birds out of the nest when it was his turn to make armpit farting noises and he was so upset about almost hurting the birds that he almost lost."

She looked at me skeptically and said, "he had a whole family of birds living in a nest in his beard?" "Of course not," I answered, "that's ridiculous. He only had two birds living there. How would he have room for a whole family?"

She narrowed her eyes at me and said, "are you for real?" "Ask your daddy," I told her. Just then, Chris came into the room and she said, "Daddy - did you used to have a long beard with birds living in it?" (she apparently had either forgotten about winning me in the armpit fart contest, or simply found the beard and birds story to be much more interesting.)

Chris gave me this look that said, "what in the hell have you been telling her?" but he did go along with me. He reaffirmed my story as Maggie supplied him with the details. She was quite blown away, never realizing she had such an interesting family. About this time, Chris was getting ready to leave for a meeting, and I was busy getting the kids into bed. I actually forgot to tell Maggie that we were only teasing. I probably should make a point of doing that tomorrow morning before school - - no telling what discussions may take place on the playground tomorrow otherwise!

Friday, February 8, 2008


This morning as I was taking Maggie to school, we pulled up to a stoplight next to one of the Macon County Animal Control vans. Maggie sat there studying it for a moment, then asked what an Animal Control van did. I told her the people who worked for animal control helped by taking care of the animals that were loose - - I gave her the example that if someone lost their dog, Animal Control might pick it up and help it find its owner. I also explained that if an animal was threatening or could hurt someone, they would help take care of that too.

She asked what would happen to an animal that was being mean. I told her that they would pick it up and try to see if it had an owner, but a lot of times, they end up having to kill those kind of animals so they won’t hurt anyone. She then asked, “How do they kill them?” I told her that it doesn’t hurt them - - they just give them some medicine that makes them go to sleep and then they never wake up, so they die. I told her that it’s very peaceful. Maggie pondered this for a moment and said, “Kind of like Grandma Lillian, right?! Except they didn’t pick her up in the van first.”

I had to stifle a laugh as I said, “well, not exactly like that, Mag.”

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Maggie is participating in a fundraiser for her school called Jump Rope for Heart which raises money for the American Heart Association. She is quite excited about this fundraiser because one of her very favorite things to do is jump rope. She is also, of course, happy to be helping someone else out through the fundraising portion.

Last night, I told her that I sent out an email to friends and family asking them to donate to for this fundraiser. I also explained that she would send a thank you note to every one who donated, and she thought that was a good idea. I also mentioned to her that she would get to go to a “Subway” party that the school was having if she was able to raise at least $75. Her eyes lit up and she got very excited. Chris and I were kind of surprised because normally she doesn’t go gaga over lunch meat and chips.

She then asked where they would be riding the subway to. It took a moment, but we were then to surmise that she thought that they would get to go somewhere on an actual subway. Much to her disappointment, we explained that it was just sandwiches. Maggie has heard Chris and I talk about taking the subway somewhere after being in Chicago, and she is keen to give it a try herself. I have tried to explain to her that it is quite far from glamorous transportation, but her mind has obviously romanticized a far different version that what exists with the actual public transportation provided by the subway.

Perhaps once she gets to take the Red Line in Chicago, she will realize that she had it much better off when she got a sandwich and chips.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Water, Water Everywhere. . . .(nor any drop to drink)

I suppose you could drink it out of the ditch in someone's front yard if you really wanted to though, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. That phrase is just something that has come to mind a lot lately as I have watched the streets and yards and ditches and fields overflowing with water. That phrase is actually a line from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and is uttered by a sailor adrift on the open ocean without any fresh water to drink. Don't be too impressed. I googled it.

As 8 inches of snow melted this week, about 4-6 inches of rain has also fallen in our area to make for one very wet mess. I was talking to a good friend at our church’s pancake supper last night, and she was lamenting about the six inches of water they had standing in their basement. Chris and I examined our basement carefully last night, but thankfully, found a dry basement and one very active sump pump. One of the former owners of our house had a basement dry system installed, and if it can stand up to the water we have had this week, I am confident it can stand up to anything. That is such a relief because we live in a lower floodplain area anyway, and I have recently watched as my good friend Kristin and her husband Dan, have gone through a wet basement saga that would drive even the most austere teetotaler to drink.

The weather lately has been strange indeed. Last week, we had so much snow that schools were closed. This past Monday, it was 60 degrees, and we had the foggiest day that I can ever remember in my life. It was foggy as we went to work, and even worse as I drove home that evening in the dark. Visibility was maybe a few hundred feet at times. Roads that I have traveled hundreds of times were foreign and distance was extremely difficult to judge. When I got home that evening, I felt like my eyes were bugging out of my head. This week we have also had several thunderstorms with lots of lightening and tons of rain. Today, it rains for awhile, then when we look outside ten minutes later, it’s snowing.

I think I am beginning to understand Mark Twain’s quote a little better (I am sure he could have said the same for Illinois:)

"If you don't like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes."
-Mark Twain

Friday, February 1, 2008


I found out today that one of the greatest inventions of the 20th Century was the snowblower. Unfortunately, it took us almost eight years into the 21st Century to discover this fact. When we had our first big snow this winter in early December, Chris and I spent well over three hours shoveling our driveways, our neighbor's driveway (he is in his late 80s) and our sidewalks and steps. The resulting sore back and tired muscles was enough to convince me that we needed a snow blower before the next big round of white stuff hit our area. The timing couldn't have been more perfect, in fact. At the time, I couldn't figure out what to do get Chris for his birthday present. After twenty minutes of shoveling heavy, wet snow, I had my answer.

Being a lover of online shopping, and also knowing relatively nothing about snow blowers, I took to the internet for some help in making a snow blower purchase. I found a wonderful site called Snow Blowers Direct (no, they did not pay me to give them a plug.) Once you get to their site, they help you figure out which snowblower would work best for you, designed around if it is for just home or for commercial use, as well as based on how likely it will be used, and how deep of snow it will be used in. Best of all, there was no tax, and shipping was free. It even arrived in two days. And then it sat for 43.

Just a tip - - if you don't want it to snow, pay $600 for a snowblower. Since that time, no more than an inch has dusted our area. I knew that eventually it would be a sound investment - yet still, having the $600 machine sit unassembled in the box it arrived in was somewhat disheartening. Well, today, the snowblower got to earn its keep. On the first day of February, our snowblower got its chance to take on six inches of snow.

What took two grown people well over three hours to do in mid-December took one woman about an hour and far less physical effort. I still did have to do a little digging in a few deep areas, like where the road meets the driveway, but there is no comparison to this marvelous addition to our snow-covered winter days. Yes, in about an hour, I managed to clear our two driveways, our neighbor's driveway, the sidewalk around our home, the alley way from the road to the back garage, and the sidewalk leading up to the house. I had to resist the temptation to kiss it when it was all said and done. I'm not afraid to admit, and I will tell you all here today: I am in love with our snowblower.