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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Where does she come up with this stuff?

Madi was making balls out of PlayDough. She came to show me she could "juggle." Then she said, "Mommy, will you sign me up for juggling class?"

I said, "Hmmm, I'll have to look into that. I wonder where you could learn to juggle. Maybe from a clown."

"Where do you find clowns?" the 4-year-old said. "Clown.com?"

posted by Laura at 3:20 PM | 0 comments

Help, please.

As with most major purchases made in this household, we do a lot of research. Sometimes months of research, followed by what still feels like an impulse buy.

Lately we're looking into two things: digital SLR cameras and bamboo flooring. I'm looking for input on the cameras please!

We've narrowed it down to two potential cameras. Brent seems to think the Canon EOS 350D is a great choice. I'm leaning toward the Nikon D70. I would love to hear people's opinions on this debate (and I'm an open-minded person who is ready to concede my wishes if the evidence supports it!).

I think the only background information that could have an impact is that we now own a Nikon N65 and have two lenses for that camera, which I understand would be usable on the D70.

Please, if you have an opinion on digital cameras, leave a comment!

posted by Laura at 8:19 AM | 3 comments

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

I couldn't believe my ears

How quickly we adapt to this crazy world we're living in. Last night, after making a 6:45 p.m. Dairy Queen run, we passed a gas station. Brent checked out the price of their gas and actually said without sarcasm, "Oh, it's $2.31 a gallon there, that's pretty low."

posted by Laura at 9:45 PM | 0 comments

Monday, March 28, 2005

Senioritis

I love my job. I really do.

Now that you understand that, I realize there are some downsides to this gig. After spending 7 years in a "real" job, that is, going to work 40 or more hours a week on a schedule that based on what someone else has determined as convenient, it was great to get back into the semester way of life. Looking ahead in 16-week chunks makes everything look do-able.

But right now I'm in a mid-semester slump. Seven weeks to go, but that Spring Break gave me a taste of what's to come in the summer. Plus a lot of my students are in their last semesters and their excitement for the end rubs off on me. Woo-hoo! Just 7 more weeks and they're outta here!!!

Except I'm not. It's just my third spring semester of teaching, but I see the trend. The energy is different in the fall. Everyone's come back from summer, they're refreshed and ready to get serious as the fall and winter approach. The days get shorter and what else is there to do but study and be diligent about schoolwork? Then comes winter break. About 4 weeks off. Not enough time to get refreshed and re-energized. The thrill of a new semester seems to wear off faster in the spring. The days start to get longer and people want to enjoy the warmer days. There are better things to do than read, write and read some more.

I remember the feeling of being in my last semesters (of both my BA and MA). And I'm reminded what it feels like when I look in the faces of my students. They're so ready to be done. Excited for what's to come (and for so many it's more school as they go on for their master's). I get that feeling in the spring too. But instead of putting on the graduation gown, I'm like the bully who has to keep repeating the third grade. No end in sight for me.

I might be living my life on those 16-week blocks (and trust me the time off is unbeatable. I pick up a course in the summer, but it's one course, for eight weeks. It's fun and exciting to teach like that!), but as the teacher I don't reach that finish line. I'll be back after break, doing it all again with a new batch of students racing for their finish lines.

posted by Laura at 9:47 PM | 0 comments

My sweet girl

I wish I could be half as good, sweet, caring person as Maxine is. I've long believed that she became a vegetarian (at age 5 she declared, "I don't eat animals" ... except those slaughtered for distribution under the golden arches) because she watched a few too many episodes of Animal Cops and Emergency Vets on Animal Planet. Seeing animals suffering, then realizing that cows had to die to make yummy steaks was too much for her sensitive soul.

Last night while watching the "Dateline" segment on the ultramarathon runners, they were talking about the blisters they get on their feet. She turned to me and said, "When people talk about their owies, or I see them, I hurt where they hurt." She said her feet hurt hearing about the blisters these crazy runners get during the course of a race.

I guess that's something most people experience. Talk about getting a paper cut and you can watch people wince at the memory of their last slash. But I'm giving her more credit, I think what she was expressing is the deeper sense of empathy I've always believed her to have.

posted by Laura at 3:07 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Bringing down the cool quotient

We went on a minivacation to Denver. We stayed at a Holiday Inn (from the time that I did training/consulting for the Forest Service, I've been a member of their Priority Club). We checked in on Wednesday and I was delighted to hear from 5:30 to 6:30 they had a Priority Club member OPEN BAR.

This was a hotel with an identity crisis. It's located in Cherry Creek, so it's trying to be swanky and cool, but it's still a Holiday Inn Select. The open bar was held in the Olive Martini Bar (see, swanky and cool, a "martini" bar). We showed up a couple minutes late (fashionably late, I would never show up right on time at a "martini" bar) and found a lot of baby boomers enjoying their free beverages. We brought the girls (their first time in a "martini" bar). We ordered two Shirley Temples, a beer and a chardonnay. I was surprised to see they were pouring Kendall Jackson (listed on their menu at $7.95 a glass) as opposed to some of the cheaper wines they had on hand.

Our members' only reception included trivia (we got our butts kicked on the Boomer questions, but there was no stopping up on the '80s questions). When you answered questions correctly you got more tickets, thus earning more chances to spin a wheel. The boomers at the table across from us were picked to spin three times in a row. For which they won 1,000 priority club points, a free in-room movie and a bottle of wine. Finally (FINALLY!) on the last spin of the night they called our number. Of course, at this point we were four beers, three glasses of wine and five STs into it and having a GREAT time. I was happy to get a free bottle of wine with my spin (especially because I don't have a clue what Priority Club points are good for).

Just about the time that the open bar was ending, some hipster twentysomethings wandered into the bar. Brent had already pointed out (more than once) how totally uncool we had become -- "partying" at a Holiday Inn with our daughters along for the ride. It was difficult to disagree, but even more difficult to care (free wine, free beer, free potstickers, free popcorn and free Shirley Temples!). Hey, I am the mother of two beautiful girls, and I was keeping up with their beautiful father glass for glass on the alcohol! I did kinda feel bad for those hipsters though. How uncool were they, hanging out at a hotel bar where there were 4 and 6 year olds?

Given that 1. we were drunk and 2. kids eat free at Holiday Inns (am I sounding like an ad for the hotel chain yet?), we decided to stumble across the hallway to the restaurant. Luckily, the buzz was enough to sustain us through the slowest service I can ever almost remember receiving.

The next night I had the same feeling that we were bringing down the cool quotient. We went to a very trendy-looking sushi grill/bar in Cherry Creek proper. There were chain-link curtains, glass table tops, and a logo that incorporated a Japanese soldier/robot. Way cooler than most places we frequent at home (our sushi stop at home only has two giant kimonos hanging on the wall and some plastic fish on another). Most of the people who worked there and were walking in the door were young and cool (our busboy had impossibly black hair that was spikey). Even the waitresses were wearing "uniforms" that were better than most of my good clothing days.

posted by Laura at 7:12 PM | 2 comments

Friday, March 18, 2005

Ah, the simple life

We have to go get water for the fishtank. I am ready to get outta the house and make it a family trip. The girls want to stay. So I asked if they would be all right if I went with Daddy for a little while. Disturbingly, they agreed.

"How long can I be gone," I asked.

"30 hours," Madison said.

"You'll be all right by yourselves that long?"

"Yeah, like if you want to go on a date, we'll get cereal," Madi said. Is she a resourceful 4 year old or what?

Maxine was singing a different tune. By her estimates, they'll be OK for about 12 minutes alone.

I have to agree with Max.

posted by Laura at 4:15 PM | 0 comments

I could learn something from her

When I told Maxine that everyone from her fall soccer team would be returning, plus there would be three new girls joining, she jumped up and down and said, "Yea! New friends! New friends!"

posted by Laura at 10:22 AM | 0 comments

Monday, March 14, 2005

I cannot tell a lie

I used to tell lies. Not to hurt people, but little white lies. I still tell some: I'm too tired. I have other plans. But never with bad intentions.

Last week there was a major car accident close to home (a Jeep Cherokee was demolished by a dumptruck with brakes that were apparently malfunctioning). I was talking about it with my husband and the girls overheard (there are no private conversations in this house). Max asked, "What happened to the person driving the car?" Though it might have been a good time to tell a little white lie, I didn't. I said she died. And I quickly explained that it's a very rare thing for a dump truck to run into a car like this one did. (I can't lie, but I can try to avoid permanently scaring/scarring my children.)

Last night Maxine lost her fourth tooth (I know, whiplash subject change, but the two are connected, trust me). She tucked her tooth under her pillow and went to sleep. When she woke up, the tooth was gone and the loot from the Tooth Fairy was there. This morning she asked, "Is the Tooth Fairy real?" (Oddly enough it was her little sister who's been asking the tough questions. Last night Madi asked, "How does the Tooth Fairy know when someone loses a tooth?" My answer, "How does Santa Claus know when you've been good or bad?") I remembered the advice of a friend, "She's real if you believe she's real." And I improvised a little, "And if you don't believe in her the money might stop coming." (Nothing like a financial threat to keep a girl believing.)

I will be a lot more comfortable when the truth comes out, I won't have to make up lies anymore about Santa, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. I won't have to use special wrapping paper for Santa's presents and I won't have to worry about not waking up on a night that a tooth is lost to do the Tooth Fairy's dirty work. I'm trying to hold out on the truth for a little longer -- at least until Madison loses her first tooth. It sucks being the little sister -- she's questioning the existence of the Tooth Fairy and she's got a year before she even loses a tooth!

posted by Laura at 7:29 PM | 0 comments

So close ...

One of my biggest frustrations in being a parent is seeing these moments when the girls are perfectly rational, then expecting that to be the new norm.

On Saturday morning, Maxine wanted to sit in a new camping chair to eat her breakfast. When I said "No, because ..." (does the because even matter? not really, because it was no), she simply said, "Oh, OK."

A proud moment. I said no, she accepted the reason and simply moved on. Even at 6 1/2, no is not an easy answer to swallow (heck, who am I kidding? At 34, it's still not easy!)

Later that day, we're sitting in the theater waiting for "Robots" to start, we're surrounded by a large Coke and a large popcorn -- life doesn't get much better than this. But Maxine is in tears. Why? Because we wouldn't buy her a $3 water at the theater. No, we're not trying to make our daughter only consume sugary soft drinks, we just snuck in our own bottle of water from home. But that wasn't good enough -- she wanted HER OWN. (No, we didn't cave and get her a bottle of water, instead we tickled her until she giggled and wasn't crying anymore. Soon after the movie started and she forgot her water woes.)

Yup, parenting is a roller coaster, one minute you see the perfect child you have worked every waking (and sleeping) moment to create. The next, you wonder where this kid came from. They give you hope, only to snatch it away.

posted by Laura at 10:01 AM | 0 comments

Monday, March 07, 2005

Just like me

Brent was gone last week. And so many things waited for him to go before they went wrong. Our shower backed up (I could have lived my whole life without witnessing the 6-year build up of my hair in my shower drain), the new computer had an error message, the cable went out, the electricity went out. How did I manage to live on my own for six years before I met him?

I found out that I'm really not that crazy though. Last Wednesday, I fell asleep with the TV on. I woke up at 12:03 to static on the television. The irrational voice in my head said, "Hmm, I wonder if someone was trying to cut the electricity or the phone line and hit the cable instead." I resorted to old-fashioned TV watching until the cable came back about 20 minutes later. It took a little while, but I fell back asleep.

Then I woke up later. How much later I don't exactly know because the electricity was out! (I cannot remember the last time we lost electricity around here, it's NOT a common occurrence.) Suddenly I was sure that the irrational voice in my head was right. I picked up the phone and got a dial tone. (Phew!) I called utilities to see if it was just us or a big outage. While I was on hold for about 15 minutes I finally got up the courage to get out of bed and look outside. I could see large dark areas reaching up the hill outside the window. The rational voice said, "It's a major outage. Why else would you be on hold this long and see no lights outside." The irrational voice was not to be silenced, however. This voice said, "They went after a main line to turn off your electricity and make it look like a big outage." And then it said, "It might not be about you, but criminals probably sit waiting for major outages so they can break into homes while alarm systems are disabled." (That irrational voice has watched way too many cop dramas.)

The friendly utility dispatcher finally picked up and told me it was a BIG outage. I had a few questions. Like, how long has it been out? Since 2 a.m. To which I had to ask, "Umm, what time is it now?" I felt slightly reassured after this conversation, but it sure was nice to talk to someone on the phone when I was alone with two sleeping girls and no TV. I thought of calling my dad, it was 5 a.m. where he is, he would likely be awake -- but my cell phone was downstairs and I don't know his number without it and both the irrational and rational voices agreed, I was better off not going downstairs. I wanted to go back to sleep, but the irrational voice wasn't having any part of that. Finally, about 30 minutes later the power came back and so did Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien and my chance to salvage any sleep. (I fell asleep early that night, but Brent called at 11 p.m., it was a conspiracy against a good night's sleep.)

Normally I don't share the thoughts of the irrational voice with anyone. But this time, because I thought it was funny that perhaps I caused a major power outage with my irrational thoughts, I told a few friends about my evening.

Amazingly enough, every married woman I spoke had incredibly similar thoughts/feelings when their husbands were away. One friend said she was fine until it was time to crawl into bed. That's when the normal noises of the night suddenly seem so threatening. I thought I was just being a big baby. I told myself I was a wimp, worrying about staying alone with the girls for a week. It sure was comforting to know I'm not the only one.

posted by Laura at 5:33 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Bookmarks gone wild!

I think I have the whole stinking Internet on my Favorites list.

posted by Laura at 10:08 PM | 0 comments

She likes me!

I called the Dell Tech Support line last night when our 1-week-old computer gave me some strange error message. I spoke with the tech, who was so very obviously living in India, and she put me through the paces, but of course the error did not repeat itself. (That's a good thing.)

At the end of the conversation, she said, "I will call you tomorrow to check on you, what's a good time?"

She just called (actually she called earlier and left a message, so she just called back), and when I told her things were going fine, she asked, "Shall I call you tomorrow?"

I'm all about great customer service, but will she now want to call me every day for the rest of the time I own this computer just to check in on us?

posted by Laura at 9:43 PM | 0 comments
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