May 31, 2011

Another day in the life

    Friend: My grandma hurt her ribs, and she hurt for a whole month.
    C-man: Did she do it in February? That would have been good, because February is a short month.

    Me: C-man, Go ask Rusty if he wants pizza or short ribs for dinner.
    C-man: Uncle Rusty, What kind of pizza do you want?

    C-man: I'm going to be sick from school tomorrow.
    Me: But you're perfectly fine now. How do you know you're going to be sick?
    C-man: Because I'm already sick of Joseph talking about his baseball team beating us.

    May 28, 2011

    Common, everyday type stuff

    It's tough to write about anything that's going on when my life seems to be consumed with lots of regular stuff. ("Mom, I was the only one on the team to get on base because of a catcher's interference!"
    And even though I really do love my new mower, it's kind of hard to write a whole post about that and expect that anyone would actually want to read it.
    And since I'm still healing from the horrendous pox (FYI - when they say shingles is painful, they aren't just talking about the 2 weeks of blisters, but the shooting raw nerve pain after) and Beerman is working on the house with Uncle R, doing common everyday stuff like baseball games and birthday parties and dogpark visits seems okay to me. It just isn't a lot to talk about.
    Hope you have a fabulous weekend.

    May 26, 2011

    Thursday thirteen random overrated things

    1. Black Swan
    2. 40+ hour work weeks
    3. Florence, Italy
    4. Coldplay
    5. Oprah Winfrey Show
    6. Chardonnay
    7. Skinny jeans
    8. Sushi
    9. David Sedaris
    10. IKEA
    11. iPad
    12. Cilantro
    13. Cable TV

    May 25, 2011

    The Singing Wonder

    Last night was the annual spring concert. This year had a multi-cultural theme to it, with each class representing a different country. C-man's class was Mexico. Although, he really wanted to be South Africa, because they sang Waka Waka (He's been singing it all week long and didn't appreciate me doing the Shakira butt shaking moves to it.) He got to dance and shake his "shaker" to one little number, and sang a counting song in Spanish. He definitely has a flare for the dramatic.
    The final song was all of the grades together.
    I kept looking for the Stevie and the Gloved One to show up. I apologize in advance for any flashbacks of tight rolled acid-washed jeans and the smell of Aqua Net in your nose.

    May 24, 2011

    Story of my week already

    Don't spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door. - Coco Chanel

    May 23, 2011

    Simple joys

    It's Monday. It's raining. I have non-stop meetings to attend. And I really want to claw my own skin off. So I'm going to focus on a few simple joys to keep myself looking upward:
    • A brand new, made-in-Tennessee, John Deere self-propelled lawn mower that cuts like a dream, even on extra-long, slightly wet grass
    • New black heels that are actually quite comfy
    • 2 tiny yellow roses given to me by a co-worker just to brighten my day
    • The smile on a kid's face who is taking the game ball to school today for show and tell
    • A happy wave from the bus window
    • A latte, freshly made for me as I was walking in to the coffee shop
    • Harry, clean and fluffy from yesterday evening's bath
    • Water workout is at 7 p.m. tonight and I can actually go
    • Looking at a recommended lodge in Pantanal and dreaming of a Brazilian vacation

    May 22, 2011

    A Sunday afternoon with a game ball

    It was a hard fought battle of the Yankees vs the Brewers today. The Brewers are big. (Seriously, look at the kid on first base. I think he shaves.)
    Regardless, C-man got 2 solid hits.
    Which earned him a game ball. Something he was lamenting on the way to the game that he was never going to win.
    He was so excited, he had us stop at Walgreens on the way home to get him a notebook so he could start a journal. This was his first entry. It was so cute, I couldn't resist a shot of it. (And that's a backwards "a" in ball.)
    He's so cute, I could eat him up.

    May 21, 2011

    Simple Saturday

    After a quick spin through the OMG's heirloom plant and garden sale (5 years ago we went for the first time and were blown away by all the people with their own carts. This year we are such veterans, I had my own wagon and Beerman and I split up to go to our respective tables before the plants we wanted sold out!), and a quick latte pickup at the coffee shop, we headed out to yet another baseball game. C-man got two solid cracks at the ball. Unfortunately the other team was just good enough to be able to make solid plays so he didn't get on base. But he hit the ball and advanced runners, and that is pretty cool. Beerman took Harry to the park, despite the rain. We've got plans to watch Pirates of the Caribbean 4 tonight. A pretty solid Saturday.

    May 20, 2011

    Random Friday Tidbits

    • Our lawn mower took a dump. Which means we get to buy a new one. I'm not really into spending the money on a new lawn mower, but I am secretly (okay, not so secretly anymore) soooo excited about getting a shiny new lawn mower. I love lawn mowers.  It just feels good to see the tangible progress as I move across the lawn.
    • Shingles update: The gross skin stuff is healing, but now I'm getting what feels like charlie horses in my muscles where the blisters are/were. Which is not all that great when it happens in the middle of the night when I'd really prefer to be sleeping.
    • Tomorrow morning is the Ozaukee Master Gardener's annual heirloom plant and herb sale at Concordia. It's a FANTASTIC sale of all herbs, tomatoes and other plants. The stuff is super high quality and reasonably priced. People come with wagons and trailers and all sorts of fun stuff to haul away their prizes. And I really like that they are the OMGs. It is silly, but makes me giggle.
    • After herb fest, I'll be sitting at yet another 11 a.m. baseball game.
    • Beerman bought C-man a pitching machine. I let C-man "pitch" some balls to me. Damn, I got slow in my old age.
    • In June, C-man is playing a game at Helfaer Field. They wanted some stats from each kid to announce when they come up to bat. One question was what he wants to be when he grows up. He claims he still wants to be a book illustrator. Since his latest book is about the koala samurais slaughtering the evil pandas and there are illustrations of bloody pandas everywhere, I won't be bringing examples of his work to show off.
    • June 20th is Little League night at the Brewers game. C-man is going to march on the field. I haven't told him yet, but I'm sure he'll be totally thrilled.
    • We've gone round and round on where to take our celebratory 10 year anniversary vacation. A couple of beer festivals we'd hoped for in Chile and Mexico (to defray travel costs of one of us) haven't panned out. So I think we're pulling the trigger for a family trip to Brazil. I haven't been back in 11 years, and the thought of returning makes me buzz with excitement. (Even if it does put Beerman ahead of me on the continent count.) C-man is still lobbying for a trip to Australia.
    • I ordered a couple of new summer dresses for various functions, weddings, etc this summer. Note to self: Don't try on pretty clothes when your skin looks like it's gone through a meat tenderizer. That is most decidedly not hot.

    May 19, 2011

    Double digits

    photo by C-man

    1 house
    1 child
    2 sheepdogs
    100s of fish
    3 floods
    2 dumpsters
    3 continents
    8 countries
     10 states
    3 provinces
    4 jobs (3 being mine)
    3 vehicles
    1 Nickelback concert (oh, the shame!)
    1 pool filled in
    1 roof put on
    1 four-year bathroom remodel
    3 house colors
    3 cameras
    3 oceans
    11 real vacations
    167 geocaches
    2 Masters Degrees

    10 years in 1 loving marriage

    May 18, 2011

    Picture day

    C-man was so excited to get in his uniform, but totally disappointed there was no game to play. It was just photo day.
    We're both home sick today. Me still with shingles, which has now progressed to getting stabbing pains in my muscles out of nowhere as if someone were sticking a voodoo doll of me with pins, and he with a sore throat and warm head. Nothing drastic, but when wasn't interested in a pancake breakfast, and I was already staying home, it wasn't a hard call.

    May 17, 2011

    Day 6

    Forget the fact that I'm miserable with this ridiculous old peoples disease, who is going to teach me how to Dougie now? And which candidate for president am I going to be able to follow with any genuine interest? Because I'm already really tired of this Arnold love child story.

    Seriously. I need to get out of the house.

    May 15, 2011

    Seriously? - Part 2

    Even the tulips are huddled together for warmth, anticipating tomorrow morning's frost. I'm bundling up in multiple layers over my painful shingles for an afternoon baseball game in the 25 mph wind and 35 degree windchill. This has most definitely not been one of my better weekends. I just want to sob.

    May 14, 2011


    3 hours with my body locked up on a bleacher bench watching baseball in the pouring 45 degree rain followed by a shingles diagnosis. Shoot me.

    (And this photo has zero to do with anything. I just was too lazy to find something that matched the day.)

    May 13, 2011


    Weeks ago, friends of ours asked me to take photos of their daughter's first communion. We all belong to the same church/school, I take a lot of photos, and they knew they'd have family there to deal with, so it would help to have someone else in charge of commemorating it. It ended up being last weekend, the weekend when I was at the peak of being sick. We had plans to go out to eat for my birthday, I had just sat through the second 3 hours of baseball games of the weekend, I was tired, and I plain just didn't want to. But I'd promised, they're lovely people, and her brother is one of C-man's bestest friends, so I put on my new red shoes, packed up my red camera bag with lenses, Kleenex and water, and headed off to mass.
    The light in the church stinks; it's all yellow and goopy looking. So it's a bad trade-off between yellowish photos or blurry ones. The altar carpet is bright red, which complements nothing. There are flowers in all the wrong places blocking any decent shots. The old man in the pew next to me kept wanting to take the end seat when I'd get up to take a shot. And there were people getting in my way with their cameras on auto and their inappropriate flashes flashing. (The audacity of them to want a shot of their own child!) But as I was on a mission, I threw a few appropriately placed elbows, laid down in front of the baptismal font, and started to shoot. And while it admittedly didn't come out all that fantastic, because I was more focused on being able to hold my head upright and the camera straight, this child is so stinking cute, it couldn't turn out totally bad.
    And I learned a few things for the future. So here are my completely amateur lessons I'd like other amateurs to know, too. And if you aren't the photographer, keep these in mind. It'll help loads!
    • First, let the photographer tell you which shots you're going to do. Trust the subjects on who needs to be in the photos, but the person taking the photo can best see how they should be arranged. I don't care if Aunt Carolyn isn't speaking to Uncle Bob. If they look better next to one another, tell them to pipe down and smile pretty. (I didn't have this problem, I'm just saying if you do...)
    • Talk about what is really important shot-wise. For this family, it was the moment the host went in the mouth.
    • During the event, the parents are more concerned with the 20 family members who have flown in to be there for the big event, so aren't thinking all that clearly about photo ops. Regardless as to which side of the lens you're on, think about a list in your head. And then the photo taker should still suggest more "Hey, let's grab Fr. Jerry!" or "What about the Grandmas?"
    • Pay attention to your surroundings, and line up in a place where there isn't weird stuff in the background. The bird ornament coming out of your sister's head looks bizarre, so try to avoid it if you can. And when there's a child's namesake flower right there, take advantage of it.
    • In group shots, be open to directing. "Hey sister-in-law, get your hair out of your face." "Grandma, stop talking and smile for just a second." Trust me, you'll be thankful for it. (Plus, if they aren't your family, it's not like you've got to go back to the house and eat turkey sandwiches with them.)
    • Squish together. It looks weird if there's a gap or a space, so play nice so you don't look like a jackass for all posterity.
    • If you're a talker, shut it. Having photos with your mouth in contorted positions because you had to say that one last thing isn't something you want recorded.
    • Allow time for the guest of honor to be pulled aside. Let the photo taker get a real portrait of her eyes. Get that goofy smile. Stand on a chair to get a better angle. Whatever it takes. Just get her away from the others for 5 minutes so you can really get what you need. I didn't do enough of this, and am really sorry, because the ones I did were my favorites.

    • Have a few lenses with you. One was the right size, but way too slow. So I got aggressive, created an open space, and used a bigger lens so I could get better color. And if you've only got a point and shoot, for the love of God, turn your flash off and use one of the manual settings. (The manual will tell you how, I promise.)
    • Don't forget about the cutest details: veils, hands praying, stolen giggles when she thinks someone isn't watching, these are truly the best shots.
    • And my all-time favorite event rule: Start with a clean memory card, and hold the shutter down. Long gone are the days of film and expensive processing. Delete is free. Take the darned shots! (And don't mock the person taking them. You'll be thankful later.)

    May 10, 2011

    Important photos

    Every so often, I get a request to use one of my photos I've posted on Flickr. I think it's because the photos I have uploaded are travel photos. So my photo of the Santa Croce church in Florence is in a mobile guidebook, a photo of mountain goats in an informational article about Luzern, and so on. I think it's kind of fun, and figure what the heck, when they ask.

    But I had to laugh when I got a request today for use of another photo:
    Who knew photographing every beer I drank while in Switzerland would land me such fame?

    May 9, 2011

    One of those

    There are days. And then there are DAYS. Today is definitely the latter. I feel like crap. I've been sleeping like crap. Work has been crappier still. I got so mad at my own kid on Mothers Day I was tempted to throw him out of the vehicle and leave him in the parking lot alone to walk home. My hair looks like an animal died on top of my head today. And I'm kind of feeling sorry for myself about a bunch of stuff.

    Tomorrow will be a better day. It has to be.

    May 8, 2011

    Happy Mothers Day

    To those who are mothers, to those who have made us mothers, to those who act as mothers to others... Happy Mothers Day!

    May 7, 2011

    And we're off..

    Baseball season is off and running with 3 games this weekend. Little League means it's uniforms and dugouts and umpires and pitching machines, so a big step up from last year.C-man is, by far, one of the smallest kids on the youngest team in the league, which means we're kind of thankful the scoreboard is broken. But so far, so good. He's had a couple of strikeouts, but made contact with the ball each game, too, which has made it a positive experience.

    I never understood why my mom would get so nervous when I'd compete as a child. After all, it was me flying through the air, not her. Now, as I'm sacrificing the chickens and goats for him to get a hit, I sort of get it. But none of it matters to him. He is just having fun chewing Big League Chew and spitting sunflower seeds with his friends.

    May 6, 2011


    I spent yesterday morning at C-man's school at a perfectly lovely Mothers Day event. He made me a beastie, drew my portrait (I LOVE my jewels) and served me cookies and strawberries (which he subsequently gobbled up). They recited a poem and sang a song, and we watched a video of their year. We cleaned up, and went outside to recess to play a rousing game of tag until the teacher called us in for a tasty lunch lady lunch of fruit, pancakes, an omelet and a chocolate milk. (I finally got to see the lunch line process: Red stick = pancakes, blue stick = hot dog, yellow stick = 2 milks) It's been a lo-ooong time since I've eaten with a spork off a beat up melmac tray! C-man was so pleased that his mom was the one who played tag with his friends (thank God for prednisone). It was complete and utter adorableness wrapped up in a 2-hour window.

    May 5, 2011

    Cinco de Mayo

    After a long, dreary winter, things are slowly beginning to spring to life again. In spite of what the calendar has said for 6 weeks, it's finally the start of a new season. And it's also the start of my 35th birthday year. I'm celebrating with a Mothers Day celebration and tasty school lunch with C-man, some work, and then his annual pediatric appointment. Happy birthday to me!

    May 3, 2011

    Accomplishing stuff

    I'm feeling fairly uninspired lately, so don't have much exciting to post. Life has been the usual humdrum. Maybe it's the post-vacation blues. Maybe it's the fact that it's May and the weather still blows - literally and figuratively - like it's March. Maybe it's the bug that's had me down for the past almost week. Maybe it's because I feel like I'm a step behind on everything. Oh right, you wanted actual money sent back in exchange for that bill you sent me last month! And C-man, you think your baseball pants falling to your ankles is a problem? Sure, I'll skip out of that meeting to drive 30 minutes out of my way to exchange them for a size small so you can actually run the bases without your General Grieveous underwear showing. Now where are those baseball socks to go with those pants? Wait, you need a snack in your backpack every day not just occasionally? You wanted that course written by today? My mistake, I was sure you wanted it next week Tuesday. Whatever it is, I feel like I need an "undo" button on the past week. Wouldn't that be nice? Just Ctrl-Z to make it all back up so you could restart? Ahhh, that would be fabulous.

    So instead of trying to think of something interesting to talk about, it is my birthday week. And birthday weeks are good for reflecting. Last year on my birthday, I came up with 100 things I wanted to experience in my life. Not necessarily a bucket list, as much as a hey-that'd-be-cool-to-do list. And in that year, I've done a few of them. 13, to be exact. Which I think is a good amount, considering the list.

    • Held a rummage sale (And we're signed up for this year's school bonanza again, God help us)
    • Took a picture of myself in the Cloud Gate ball in Chicago
    • Ate at Xoco (Thanks, Mary!)
    • Hid a geocache of my own (44 happily logged visits)
    • Took C-man camping (a recent event)
    • Soaked in hot springs (Thank you, Ojo Caliente)
    • Ate an apple from a tree I planted (Last year's Mothers' day gift)
    • Start and finish the 365 project (I'm happily, almost done!)
    • Got First Stage season tickets (Just renewed for next year too)
    • Took a meditation class (I still don't have a meditation shawl, but at least I know how)
    • Sent a secret in to Post Secret (I'll never tell)
    • Rode in a hot air balloon (Ahhh...)
    • Took a cake decorating class (Did it, don't need to do it again)
    And I've made some progress in a few others:
    • Added New Mexico to the states I haven't visited (12 more to go)
    • Learned to tie a few new knots
    • Taken an unholy amount of toxic meds to try to kick the arthritis (Now if one would just work)
    So I guess it makes it a successful year. Or at least one that allowed me to experience a few cool things. And that's something to smile about.

    May 2, 2011

    Birthday week randomness

    It's officially my birthday week. I don't appreciate getting older, as it makes my crows feet continue to deepen, but since I can't stop the years from coming, I'd might as well enjoy them. We're going out to dinner Thursday night to celebrate. (My birthday, not the crows feet.) I've been scouring people and the online reviews for recommendations. Right now I'm thinking tapas downtown. I'm just hoping my stomach tames down before then so I can actually eat more than bread.

    This week is also the start of C-man's baseball season week. 3 games this weekend: Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Zoinks! This might possibly be a death march to the 4th of July. My back aches just thinking about all that bleacher time. The good news is he's ridiculously excited about it, can't wait for games to start and might even have his #9 uniform all worn out before the first game even starts. His team is the youngest even in the young league, though, so we're going to really have to focus on the fun of it all. Beerman suggested we start offering Jobu some buckets of chicken to help out.

    I went to a meditation class the other day. It's something I've always wanted to learn more about, and I've read great things for it with regards to pain relief. It was kind of a quirky class with a flaky instructor, and required me to bring a "meditation shawl" (Seriously? I still don't really understand what that is), but I learned some good stuff I can try. The bad news is I've felt so crappy, I haven't been able to start yet.

    C-man has his spring concert coming up for school. He won't tell us what the songs are, because it's supposedly a big secret. I have heard him singing some songs I don't know in the shower though. The bummer is I'm supposed to be out of town for it. I'm trying really hard to get someone else to take that on, though, so I can see it. I love those concerts. And Southern California sucks.

    And the funniest quote I heard of the day: "I won't believe he's really dead until I see his long-form death certificate."