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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Darn the luck

When we were having some odd issues with our Passat, I got to know one service advisor at the dealership really well. Like me, he's from New York. Unlike many service advisors, he's honest and really looking out for the consumer, not the service department's bottom line. Once when we had some battery problems, he was ashamed to tell me how much it was going to cost to replace it there (something like $175) and sent me away with some advice: go somewhere else, but make sure they keep the charge on the car while they change it. Good advice, ended up spending about $75 instead.

Last time I took the VW in for an oil change, I asked where he was. Turns out he switched to a Nissan dealer ... turns out we have a Nissan too. I called today to schedule some recall work, an oil change and something that should fall under warranty. It's been a year since I've seen him, but he remembered me. Remembered the New York connection. Reminded me why I like him so much.

And then he broke my heart.

Turns out tomorrow is his last day at this gig. I won't even see him when I take it in for the work. He's moving to a Dodge dealership in town (given that he's a short-timer he spoke candidly about what's wrong there ... good stuff to know).

I wonder how much trade-in I could get for a Dodge.

posted by Laura at 11:57 AM | 3 comments

Sure 'nuf

The theory worked: structure and accomplishment can lead to a better night's sleep.

Either that or pure exhaustion from three restless nights does the trick. But I'll stick with structure and accomplishment.

posted by Laura at 8:15 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Up all night

As the summer starts to run out, I'm giving thought to adding a little more structure to my days this fall. The beauty of my job is the flexibility, but it's sometimes like giving me just enough rope to hang myself. I put off what I should do today because no one's looking over my shoulder. I don't want it any other way, but I want to stay on top of things too.

I realized I'm a little more stressed about school starting than I realized. I have a lot to do before I'm really ready for school (the girls and mine). The way I realized this stress? Being up during the night. Here's what happens. I hear a noise or something to wake me up, just enough that the little wheels in my head start churning. Before I know it, the to-do list is building itself in my brain. Being a little stubborn, I keep trying to sleep while the wheels keep turning. I almost always refuse to get out of bed because that would be giving up the chance of getting sleep. At 2 a.m. when Pat Croce's Moving In, things seem so BIG. Parents are fighting with children, women are addicted to shopping, couples are on their third engagements and really the guy is a jerk and the girl can do so much better, but Pat Croce takes them by the shoulders, gives them a good shake and talking to and everything is better. (Sorry, guilty pleasure ... the best are his follow-up shows where three months later everything is STILL hunky dory for those who got the talkings-to.) Always happens that at 6:30 a.m. after a brisk two-mile walk, things in my life aren't a big deal anymore, the calls I need to make, papers I need to grade, rooms I need to clean ... suddenly things seem very do-able with the whole day ahead.

One night of restlessness, I don't even think about. Two nights bother me a little. On the third night I realize, hey I might be more stressed than I realized. Better get to work during the day instead of wasting time. Hopefully this is enough to make the fourth night a restful one again. I'll let you know tomorrow.

posted by Laura at 10:09 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Mommy time

I've been given this incredible opportunity this weekend. I get to accompany a friend to Aspen (home of many beautiful, and not so beautiful celebrities!). She's going to a conference, I'm getting a free bed to sleep in and time to myself. No kids. No husband. And really most importantly, no dishes, no laundry, no one to clean up after. Just beautiful, glorious time to walk around a beautiful, glorious place with my camera and a notebook.

I told the girls about it while I was discussing details with the husband. When Maxine learned I was leaving her for a weekend you would not believe the look she gave me. It was hurt and anger all rolled up into one heartbreaking glare. For a minute I thought, maybe I shouldn't go, after all she's 7 it won't be long before she decides she doesn't want me around anymore. (And to tell you the truth, the girls love the friend that I'm going with so much, I think the look might have had more to do with me going away with HER, the one they love, than me going away. Had I said I was going with someone else it might not have bothered her this much.)

I was thinking about this, and while I've spent plenty of nights away from the girls (more accurately, they've spent nights away from me and Brent), I've never left Brent and the girls alone for a night ... nevermind a whole weekend!

It took a little bribing (the promise of tourist pins and a t-shirt), but the girls are OK with me leaving. And Brent's OK with me leaving. And who knows, they might like this time so much that they will ask me to leave more often.

posted by Laura at 12:04 PM | 1 comments

Thursday, July 21, 2005

I am that stupid.

But it turned out OK. The begging to go to the mall, coupled with the fact that I really wanted to go today lead us to the mall. Luckily Madison feels so good she's planning on going to swim lessons tomorrow! Yay!

And, at Children's Place we got: two backpacks, and from the clearance rack: one dress, four shirts, one skirt and two pairs of capris. Guess how much I spent? Go 'head, just guess! $45!

Then we went to Claire's and spent just $7.45 to get 9 items (I'll share my consumer angst that lead to a $40 gift certificate that lead to consumer bliss another day).

I might like to shop, but I just refuse to pay full prices. My girls will learn to be savvy shoppers from me if nothing else!

There is screeching, hellish whining, coming from the bathtub, guess that's my cue.

posted by Laura at 8:59 PM | 1 comments


You know they're feeling better when they're getting ponytails put in their hair and begging to go to the mall (note: I will not be taking Madi to the mall today, I'm not that stupid!). She just woke up from nap number two (oh please tell me this doesn't mean she'll be up and restless all night since she slept for nearly six hours today) and for the first time since 10 a.m. she got out of bed. The sparkle is back in her eyes too.

You would think that I got a lot done today since I was trapped at home? Not so much. 1.5 papers graded (out of 30), 1 hour of nap, 1 load of laundry, a couple work calls, lots of time poking around Flickr and blogs. Somehow I think I should have accomplished a lot more than this.

posted by Laura at 4:36 PM | 0 comments

It's hot inside now too

Big plans today: After swimming lessons we were going back-to-school shopping. We were going to be good. Not go crazy, but pick up a few things because The Children's Place sent me a 25% off shopping pass. That means all of Maxine's long-legged, adjustable waist jeans would be 1/4 off!!! Cute tops and already affordable backpacks -- 25% off. And, it's not just a one-time coupon, it's good through September! I love The Children's Place.

Then Madison didn't get in the shower after lessons. I found her curled up under a blanket (mind you, it's over 90 today). Then I realized something must be wrong. Took the temp and it's over 100. Then I felt like a miserable mother who took her sick daughter to swim lessons today (I noticed she wasn't herself while she was in the pool, but didn't think much of it).

Big plans changed: Get baby well so we can enjoy the weekend together. She's been sleeping for the better part of two hours now. Poor little girl.

posted by Laura at 12:29 PM | 2 comments

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Little voices

I still have iWon.com as my homepage. It gives me AP headlines and I'm a sucker to believe that I might just win something from them someday (unless you count five free spins on their total time wasting slot machine, not a penny yet). But in the corner of the screen it says, "Hi Laura" ... oh how friendly, you say. Then in smaller letters right below "Hi Laura" it says "I am not Laura." For some reason, I've adopted this as the inner struggle of two voices in my head. I believe some day I might start roaming the streets saying, "Hi Laura! i am not laura. HI LAURA! i am not laura."

And I don't care what you humidity-drenched people say, it might be a dry heat, but it's still f'in HOT.

Yes, the heat -- and being cooped up in a A/C'ed office -- is getting to me.

posted by Laura at 12:36 PM | 2 comments

Ways to tick me off

You will know by reading this that I probably drive-through way too much. But one of my newest, biggest pet peeves are drive-through employees who don't bother to notice the beverage they are going to hand you is dripping down the side. In my passive aggressive manner, I always ask (sweetly), "Oh, do you have a napkin, this is dripping?" Inside I'm thinking, What the heck? Can't you feel the sticky, wetness on the outside of this cup? Is it that hard to care about me and my newish car?

Twice in two days this has happened. Yesterday when it was just too hot to talk about I hit Sonic for a Cherry Limeaid. Drip drip drip running down the side. This morning Starbucks, got the new green tea frappucino, oozing green liquid down the side. I think the heat's getting to me, but if I get one more sticky drink from a drive through, I might go all "Falling Down" or something.

posted by Laura at 10:56 AM | 3 comments

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

You heard it here first ...

Given that the SUVs keep getting bigger and bigger (I'm not throwing stones, I own one myself), I just wanted to make the suggestion to Ford (maker of the Explorer, Expedition and Excursion models) if they're looking for a name for the next bigger, badder SUV -- why not the Excretion? Just a thought.

posted by Laura at 3:23 PM | 0 comments

Monday, July 18, 2005

Open letter

Hey Hollywood,
You're really dropping the ball here. Last time I checked it was summertime, as in the kids are out of school and us parents are into going places with them, like say, the MOVIES.

Given that I was in the mood for an ultrabig dose of A/C, I told the girls on Thursday that we'd go see a movie on Friday after swim lessons. Friday morning I looked in the movie listings there was only one kid-friendly movie that we had NOT seen: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The other choices were Madagascar and the Herbie remake -- been there, saw them. Sure, I live in a smaller city just west of the midwest where we generally are only privy to the mainest of mainstream flicks, but can't you do better than that? Mid-July and I only have three movies to choose from? (Sure my 7-year-old is aching to see Fantastic Four, but it's PG-13, she might be able to see it on DVD, but I'm not paying to corrupt her values in public.)

I hadn't even planned on seeing Willy Wonka in theaters, wasn't even planning on renting it to tell you the truth. But my hands were tied, my daughters had high hopes and I was looking forward to a bag (what happened to the old tubs?) of greasy popcorn. Luckily, the girls liked the movie (Willy Wonka is funny, they said). I wasn't offended (see: Kicking and Screaming and its use of HELL for, like, every other word). So a good enough time was had by all.

But, let me emphasize this again, this is summertime. Kids are not in school all day long. I like to take my kids to the movies. I love walking into the bright daylight from a dark, dark theater. I like having to bring a sweatshirt to stay warm because there are only two settings on movie theater thermostats (f'in freezing and f'in hot). If you put out a kid-friendly movie every week, we'd probably be there for you. (As I've said here before, when it comes to taking my girls to movies my standards are not high: if they like and I'm not embarrassed or offended, I'm thrilled.)

You wonder why box office sales are slumping (though if I were raking in billions of dollars, I don't think I'd complain). I think I have an idea.


P.S. Hollywood, I bet you would have been surprised by the woman we saw at the theaters. We'll call her 50something (if she were an acquaintance, I'd say 40something to remain her friend) and all by herself, buying a ticket for Wedding Crashers. I'm just guessing this wasn't the demographic you thought Crashers would attract!

posted by Laura at 11:55 AM | 1 comments

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Love to cook?

A long time ago I created a blog that I intended to use with some friends from my former workplace. It's called recipeshare.

When I left my job three years ago I really missed getting recipes from the folks I worked with. They had an endless supply of great recipes, many of which I still use today. I figured we could all just post the latest, greatest recipes on this blog.

Guess I got distracted because I never shared it with them. But it still sits there unused. And my coworkers these days aren't really the recipe-sharing types.

I'm wondering if anyone wants to become "team members" and breathe a little life into recipeshare? My vision is that it's not only about posting resumes, but about sharing tips on great food items (ever tried Bone Suckin' Sauce? The best!). I need a little inspiration in the kitchen these days.

Leave a comment and I'll remember how to invite people to groups.

posted by Laura at 7:01 AM | 4 comments

City girl

So what I didn't mention about camping was the fact that I'm not a good camper. I don't sleep well anywhere that's not my bed (that includes luxurious hotel beds, not that I've been in many). I kinda have a hard time just sitting around outside doing nothing (yes, that's why I should go camping more to force the issue). I do, however, LOVE looking up at the stars at night far away from any city lights that interfere with their beauty.

I want to be the ultimate outdoors girl, but if that means camping in the backwoods for a week, guess I won't be putting that line on my resume. However, if I could have a small camper and a bathroom with running water not too far away, then sign me up.

posted by Laura at 6:55 AM | 0 comments

Monday, July 11, 2005

You have ... a venereal disease

I just got an email at my work account for Viagra (it comes in a discreet package!). What really made this stand out was the sender: Gonnorhea K. Flowerpants.

Seriously, if I was in the market for Viagra, I'm certainly not going to get it from someone who claims to be named Gonnorhea.

posted by Laura at 12:13 PM | 1 comments

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Mamas don't let your kids grow up to be druggies

We went camping last night. We drove 3 hours to get to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. It was awesome and fun and just what I needed for a little recharging. However, it never fails to happen to us. When we go to the movies, the people who are talking the loudest, chewing the loudest, smell the loudest, just always end up next to us. Same goes at concerts, restaurants, just about any public setting. Sometimes it's a wonder we ever go out anymore.

We had about the same luck with campsites. We knew we were in trouble when five college-aged kids pulled up to set up camp. (Hey, I work with many college-aged kids, I don't particularly want to camp with them.) We hiked down to the dunes in the evening, our neighbors hiked down at the same time. We found a good sliding dune and played. Our neighbors were going for the top. We were back at camp for a while before they got back too. We thought we hit the campsite jackpot because that hike kicked their 20-something butts. Four of the five retreated to their tents. It was pure, blissful silence coming from the college camp.

Of course they gained their second wind right about our bedtime. And it wasn't just any second wind, it proved to be a hallucinogenic-wind. Apparently the kids ate some mushrooms and let them kick in before they hiked. They were full of deep insights like, "If a snake came by I would have tripped you all just to get out alive." (Said by one male whose girlfriend was in the group.) "Man, that's f'in bright, it must be Neptune." "I was just like a little girl in a sandbox up there." "I just knew that as long as I saw you, I'd get out alive." "These brats are just too gourmet for camping." "I LOVE the stars." (I was so glad the girls were fast asleep because every other word started with f or s.)

The hiking part of their trip lasted probably 2 hours. They sat around the campfire (yelling, "I hate white rabbits" whenever the smoke came in their direction -- seriously, I remember doing that in high school, but where did that come from and how did it last all this time??) talking about the trip for another 4 hours. They talked like it was months ago, not just hours ago. They thought they were so darn funny and so darn smart (of course, I was laying on the hard ground, worrying about bears and being kept awake by their conversation, so I'm a little biased into the depth, humor and intelligence of what they had to say).

You might be reading this thinking I was just jealous that they were having such a great time. You're saying, "You're just old." But really, I was worried that I probably sounded just like them back in my "experimental" days. It was a little depressing to realize that what felt like some of my deepest thoughts could sound so plain stupid.

posted by Laura at 1:37 PM | 2 comments

Friday, July 08, 2005

Pet peeve

There is suffering right now in the world, and my heart breaks for London. My heart breaks for all of us who now live in a world where "terror" has become an everyday concept. I'm sorry that my daughters (and your children) will grow up in a world where people blow themselves up in order to hurt others. That they won't know the time before color-coded terror alerts. I would do anything to protect my children, your children. But I will never understand a hate that strong.

Having said that, I can't let another day pass without saying something about the woman at the pool who chews her gum so loudly, with her mouth so blatantly open. Yesterday she plopped her pool chair right down next to me. After a friendly exchange about the clocks at the pool, she kicked back to read her book. And then it started. CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP with her mouth wide open. I had to turn to look, perhaps she had headphones on and just didn't realize she was chewing her gum like a cow. Nope. She just continued to chomp away for the next 35 minutes. I did my best to ignore it, but noisy gum chewing much like ice crunching is something I just cant' get passed.

Today, thankfully, someone else sat next to me. Gum chewer was two seats over. I snuck a peek and sure enough, she was working another piece with mouth wide open.

Oh, how I hate mouth noises.

posted by Laura at 3:02 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Or Daddy.

I'm up to my ears on a larger than normal deadline, the prospect of an increased teaching load in the fall (too much noise in the brain as I think about my existing classes and the one I'm taking on), and family from out of town. Dad's here (this is very, very good, mind you -- but it takes us all off any type of routine). Step-dad's brother and family are here (again, very, very good and fun, they have kids the same ages as ours).

Me? I just want to soak in a hot bubble bath with some good tunes on Pinkie (the mini iPod) and not think about the work and everything else I need to do.

Summer always gives me an odd case of the blues. Not too bad, but still. I don't know what I expect from summer, but it never lives up to my dreams. Sleeping in? Nope. Rest and relaxation? Nope. Extra doses of family time? Oh yeah. BBQs up the wazoo with everyone in the who fam damily. Swimming? Well, yes. We just finished day two of four weeks of swim lessons. Reading? I'm still reading the same book I was in April when I started cheating with some almost-pleasure reading (it's incredibly applicable to what I teach, but it's so fun to read all the same). There are three or four other fun books collecting dust on my nightstand.

From reading around, many other bloggers are out of sorts with summer.

Really, I love summer. I want summer to love me back. But it just doesn't know how and I don't know how to help it. The funny thing is that the very first day of summer is the same day that we start losing daylight. It's just starting and it's slipping through my fingers so fast when I want it to last forever.

posted by Laura at 4:47 PM | 1 comments
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