January 31, 2014

Caught off guard

A few days ago, I stopped at Target. I needed to grab a few things on my way home. As I was entering the door, a man quietly asked if I could spare anything for him because he was homeless and hungry. I assured him, in my work clothes, heels, warm coat, and while clutching my Kate Spade handbag, that I didn't. But it troubled me to say it. I quickly got the few things I needed, with that man's pleas on my mind, and got some cash back when I checked out. But when I left, he was gone. Maybe he'd moved on. Maybe security forced him to move on. I don't know what happened to him. What was clear was that I'd lost my opportunity at a second chance.

Now this happened a few days ago. But the encounter troubled me so much. Haunts me still. It was cold. I mean really cold. And this Target isn't in the nicest of neighborhoods, but it also isn't easily accessible if you don't have a car. Where did he come from? Where did he go? And I know so many people don't give to people who ask, assuming they will use it for unsavory things. But I try to give as much as I'm able when I'm asked. Because really, who is going to sit in the cold and humbly ask if someone has food just to be a scam? Not money - but food.

I'm constantly troubled by these types of interactions, trying to decide what is the right thing to do. I am confident that the right answer is always to help someone who asks. But my confliction is what that really means when you don't know someone's story. How can I ever know what true help is to that individual? How do I know what would be truly compassionate for the asker? And how can I be better prepared to give when asked?

I know I can't save everyone. But I also know that if someone asks, I shouldn't turn away. I'm so disappointed I couldn't help him.

January 30, 2014

Thursday Thirteen Bullets of Random

  1. It's Grandparents Day at C-man's school. On a Thursday. At 1 p.m.
  2. Which means that I now have to take a half-day off work to be his "special person". aka - Someone who goes to mass, eats cake pops after, and then takes him out of school an hour early.
  3. Schools do not live in reality with their stupid schedules.
  4. I am going to take advantage of the time to take C-man to get a new book and start another family book club. He doesn't read willingly, so I need to surround him with books as a reminder.
  5. My back is marginally better today. It still hurts, but I can actually sit for longer than 5 minutes at a time. A huge improvement!
  6. I think I'm going to start one of those trendy cleanses next week after the Superbowl. We'll see if I can do it. I've got to try something though.
  7. Except it means no coffee for a week. I don't know if I can do no coffee for a week.
  8. My play rehearsals start at the end of the month. Am I supposed to know my lines before we start? I don't like all this not knowing.
  9. The annual Church dinner dance and auction is a huge deal for the church. I got a call asking if I could help double-check some of the silent auction items and make sure we have everything together. I smell a rat. And it smells a lot like someone has suggested me to run this event in the future.
  10. No way.
  11. But the woman I'm helping is very sweet. And on Facebook, always posts these amazing photos of her Austrian recipes, like a pear-ginger streudel. Maybe if I get in good, she'll give me a recipe. Or even better, give me some streudel. See, there are positives to everything!
  12. A woman whom I work with came over to my desk this morning to talk about her recent arthritis diagnosis. (She found out through another co-worker that she should talk with me). She's so young and so scared. I'd forgotten how terrifying it can be, and what a relief it is to find "others" who get it. It really sent me back to those first months.
  13. The Superbowl is Sunday. I don't care who wins.

January 29, 2014

Pain. Continued.

My back hurts so damn much, I can't sit. I can stand. I can lay down flat. And that's it. And I have no real reason why this is happening. I think it started with the barre class, but keeps getting worse, which makes no sense. ARGH! To quote the chiropractor from yesterday, "You are really jacked up!"

At least I'm at home, and not in Texas standing on a concrete floor in a huge warehouse. There are small bright sides these days. It also means I get to go to C-man's school tomorrow to be his special person for the afternoon. That's positive.

And to set the record straight, I took the picture of the woman featured yesterday, but it is not a selfie. I am a terrible painter. I just took it of her as Harry and I hustled past her at the park.

January 27, 2014


  • Last week's session with the pilates instructor from hell turned out to be a really bad thing. I've tweaked my back, and now I can barely sit for 10 minutes.
  • I'm flying to Dallas tomorrow at oh dark thirty. That's going to be a fun flight.
  • If it ever takes off. The way the weather is looking, it is debatable.
  • C-man cried this morning when he found out he had school. Most districts cancelled, except for those in the north shore.
  • Beerman tried to console him by telling him that this no-cold-day was harder on me than it was on him. And he wasn't lying.
  • At least it means I don't have to drive to math tutoring. I wasn't looking forward to that when I know I have to go home and pack tonight.
  • And since I just got the text that he's off tomorrow, he will be thrilled. Lucky kid.
  • C-man is Pig #3 in his upcoming play, "Three of a Kind". I'm Laura in "The Butler Did It, Again!" He didn't want to take the photo with me, but I made him anyway. One of the perks of being Mom.

January 26, 2014

A dozen

Happy birthday, best dog. You sure showed all those vets and abusers what a strong spirit, regular exercise, and lots of love can do.

January 24, 2014

Good week

It's been a good week. Next week I have to travel for work. But I'll think about that next week. For now, I'm going to enjoy that I have the whole weekend ahead of me.

January 23, 2014

I feel like Jello

Last night, I walked into my barre class and had a different instructor. She was a lovely woman. But I knew that I somehow recognized her. And knew I didn't like her. But from years and years ago. Which drove me nuts. And then I realized! She was the coach of a gymnastics team that consistently beat my high school gymnastics team. After the barre class, which left my legs feeling like jello, I realized why her teams were always so much better. Funny blast from the past, though.

Almost as funny as getting the invite to my 20 year class reunion by someone I had to google to remember. Yeah, won't be going to that one.

Speaking of google... I got the list of people who will be in the play with me. And then I immediately started googling them to find out what they did in their "real" lives. Google can be a very scary thing, people!

It's half-way through the work week. I may actually have a full work week this week. The first one in over two months. I was secretly hoping today would be a school cold day. No such luck.

January 22, 2014

Well, we always knew I was dramatic

So the happy news is I got cast in the play I auditioned for. I'm not the murderer - that went to a woman who has been a part of this theater group for ages. (And whom I didn't actually get to see, because she came early to last night's audition and then had to leave early, while I went later just to do any final reads and find out the results of the casting). But I trust she's good.

I'm cast as Laura - one of the mystery writers. Not a huge part, but a part, nonetheless. Something I learned was actually kind of cool, because I saw at least 20 people get asked to leave without parts last night - and that wasn't the additional people I didn't see who were asked earlier in the night.

The sweetest part is that when he announced I was going to play Laura, everyone clapped for me. (They knew it was my first ever role). It seems like a really nice group of people.

And even cuter was C-man when I arrived home. He was waiting up, and before I could even get out of the car, had the door to the garage open and was shouting, "Did you get the part!?" So, so, so cute.

New Years Resolution #1 - Check!

P.S. Showings are April 4 - 5, 11 - 12. Mark your calendars!

January 21, 2014

On the journey

I've always been a pretty competitive person. Okay, a really competitive person. As I've aged, it's become less-so, but it's definitely still there. I mean, I can't go to a yoga class, because while everyone else is all meditative and serene and doing their weird warrior breath thing, I'm looking around thinking, "I'm totally winning this. Look at how much more flexible my hamstrings are!" I know. Wrong attitude. But I just can't stop myself.

But lately, I've felt myself at some sort of strange cusp. Like I could feel it in my very core - that things were changing, improving. I couldn't tell if it was going to be an eruption or an unfolding, but I knew it was happening.

Last night, I auditioned for a local community theater part. It is something I've always wanted to do, and made it a new year's resolution this year. When I checked the auditions list, this theater group was close by, and didn't require singing. (I cannot sing) It felt like the universe was leading me to do this.

I was totally unsure of myself. It was something those cheesy life coaches call, "Out of my comfort zone". Since I don't like to do things I'm not good at, I was worried. I even considered not going until tonight (so I could then say I didn't want to go). But C-man encouraged me. (Mom, I've tried out for roles and didn't get them, but it is still fun!) Beerman encouraged me. (What do you mean you're nervous? How can that be? You're a ham, you'll be great!)

So I went. And it was interesting. I read parts for 3 solid hours. And then I was done. As I walked out, I realized I enjoyed myself. But more importantly, while I auditioned to actually get a part, I realized I will be okay not getting one either. It just felt really good to try something different and know that I could do it. The director and some other experienced actors were incredibly nice and complimented me, which means I wasn't a complete failure. And strangely, that, in itself, was oddly satisfying. (As was arriving home and having C-man spring out of bed to swap stories of our plays, because he started his own play practice as a Little Pig yesterday.)

I think I really am starting to learn how to look around and do different things and enjoy the process of it all. This doesn't mean I won't be comparing how much further I can fold over myself in Wednesday's barre class than my neighbor. It just means I'm finding new appreciation for this thing called life. And I like it. A lot.

P.S. I find out tonight if I get a part. Cross your fingers that I'm Jane, because it would really be fun!

January 20, 2014

Not a real post but you should read it anyway

You know that person who constantly gives to others, but never asks for help? And when that person does reach out and ask, it takes you so by surprise that you want to leap to action to make it happen?

That is this case.

I've "known" this woman since our babies were babies through an online mom's group. And while I've never met her in person, do not make the mistake of thinking she's any less real, or genuine, or worthy of this help. We have shared the ups and downs of our lives together. And I love her as if I've known her forever. Because she is a lovely individual with two small girls of her own who only sees the best in others.

She lives in New Hampshire. Her father had a stroke while in Louisiana. And she needs to get him home in decent care, because right now, it seems he is getting on the basics of care, and not good enough to ever help him recover with any quality of life.

She's only asking for $900, which I know is too little. But because she thinks it's already too much to ask for, she's only asking the bare minimum to rent an RV to get down to him and transport him back (An RV is necessary because he needs to lie down). But really, she needs $6000 for a true medial transport. (And even if she went the RV route, who believes $900 is going to do the trick?) UPDATE: She has updated the goal to be $6000 because while the RV option is cheaper, it is wholly unsafe for his condition.

Sometimes I see a homeless person or someone who needs my help. And I question what my life would be worth if I were judged on that moment in time. Would I be stingy? Would I give what I could? This is one of those moments for me. I hope you see it as the same.

January 19, 2014

Building an organic battery

After about 2 months of prep and investigation and Youtube watching and Mythbusters Egyptian Battery episode watching and article reading, today C-man got to actually put together his fruit battery test for his 3rd grade science project.

He picked 4 fruits and 4 vegetables, learned about the energy equation, and drew out a table to record the data. One zinc nail and one copper nail and a volt meter to register it. Each test was done for 1 minute to be extra scientific, with three tests of each fruit or vegetable and the averages calculated. There was a AA battery test for control too. (I had to laugh at all the advice on how to do this after I posted we were doing a Fruit Battery on Facebook. I didn't want to be rude, but in my head was giggling, wanting to say, "You're going to have to trust me. Beerman's got this one!")

I sure hope Beerman gets an A.

My job was to photograph the process for the board to display it all. (Because apparently that's where I step in for this project!)

3rd grade sure can be tough.

(All joking aside, C-man now knows about Power = Volts x Amps, more about batteries, how to average numbers and why you'd look for an average. Pretty big concepts for an 8 year old!)

January 18, 2014

A day for the squirrels

While C-man skied, I picked up the house and fed the birds. In doing so, I also give the squirrels and other rif-raf the extras. And then I spent the next hour watching them race in like thieves, quickly grabbing their goodies and racing away. Eat up, little mole. For now, I call a truce... But once Spring is here again, it's on! A perfect snowy afternoon.

January 16, 2014

Much better now

I had my barre class last night. It was more awesome than last week, and Friday is going to be really painful!

The best part was that by the time I got home at 7:30, the dog was racing around the house barking, and C-man declared he just got done running around and screeching. "I'm much better now, Mom!"

Geez, kids are resilient. One day of antibiotics, and he thinks he's king of the world again. This is a very good thing, and quite a change from the morning!

January 15, 2014

What day is it?

I put a sobbing kid on the bus this morning. He officially has a sinus infection and is on medicine. The fever broke yesterday. And Beerman and I just couldn't pull off another full day at home just because. C-man was not happy. At all. I realized after I got to work that I have snot all over my boob from hugging him mid-sobfest. It's a good thing I'm wearing a cardigan to make it less noticable.

Anyhow, Happy Hump Day!

January 14, 2014

Finding the light

All the good photographers will tell you to look for and follow the light. See where it is, how it glows, how it shades, and take note of it. It helps you enjoy the surroundings, frame the shot, and understand the true color of things.

I've been trying to take this advice lately, and transfer it to the other parts of my life. The darkness and coldness of the days lend themselves naturally to staying inside, eating too much ice cream, and grumbling about the fate of things. I am aware of this, and float in and out of consciousness about how far down I've let myself tumble down the hill of negativity. Because it is not a natural tendency of mine, to see good when it is not blatantly obvious. It has become too easy to find fault, and too quick to pass judgment when there is no need, especially when I am in pain of which there has been much lately.

But that isn't how I like to live. Not who I want to be. So I'm going to try extra hard to look for the light, even when there is little coming from Mother Nature, these dark snowy days. Exercise is definitely helping me. I really feel myself on the verge of something better and more creative. Some changes are coming - I'm almost ready.

January 13, 2014

Not a full work week after all

  • My poor baby is sick today. 101 fever, sore throat, and not hungry.
  • Which means I'm, yet again, not working a full work-week.
  • I took the Ina Garten chocolate cake to the dinner party last night. It was a huge hit, with ladies arguing over who would get the leftover pieces to take home. Two ladies even declared it the best chocolate cake they'd ever eaten, which made me really happy.
  • Because honestly, there's nothing that coffee, buttermilk, and butter can't make right.
  • The movie we saw was interesting. Not great, but interesting enough. It focused a lot on the importance of experiences over material things.
  • Which made Beerman incredibly happy when I walked in the door, and my response to his question of "How was it?" was, "Cancel the kitchen! We need to take a trip!"
  • Even in his feverish state, C-man cheered.
  • I'm contacting kitchen designers today. As much as I want to go somewhere, we really need a functional kitchen.
  • What are the chances I'm not going to get sick?

January 12, 2014

Another wintry weekend

  • I didn't take ski lessons on Saturday because we've had freezing rain. The hill wasn't in optimal conditions, for sure. (And neither is my body)
  • Hopefully, I'll get up there next weekend.
  • I was on the schedule to read for 8:30 mass this morning. Nobody was interested in getting up that early, and there was a lot of grumbling.
  • A friend invited a few women over for dinner prior to the church-sponsored movie being shown tonight.
  • The dinner and socialization should be fun. Whether a church-sponsored meaning of life documentary will be worth it is still up in the air.
  • I made a chocolate cake for the dinner.
  • Maybe I should bring a bottle of wine to drink at the church just in case it's awful.
  • It's football playoff season. Just in case it's not on constantly in your house like it is in mine.
  • I have a full work week this week. That hasn't happened since November. This is going to be rough.

January 9, 2014

Thirteen bullets of random

  1. I had my first pilates barre class last night.
  2. I've always thought I was a graceful ballerina.
  3. Standing in front of mirrors with a barre in front of me for an hour was a rude awakening to the contrary.
  4. I have been sleeping really terribly lately. I'm up all night. It really sucks when by noon, all I want to do is go to sleep on my desk.
  5. Now that Christmas is over, I need to figure out C-man's valentines.
  6. Damn you, Pinterest for not making the $4 box of Star Wars Valentines good enough anymore.
  7. Last week I bought a new pair of winter boots. My old ones were about 9 years old, and the sole was coming off, so it was time. But I was being cheap. But cold wet feet at the dog park are unacceptable.
  8. We just got through a double digit negative spell, and I was walking on a frozen lake, and I loved them.
  9. I only realized today that Zappos sent me these instead of the ones I actually ordered. Now I have a dilemma...
  10. I need to take skiing lessons while C-man is doing his skiing lessons. I was going to do it Saturday, but I am feeling really awful arthritis-wise. The weather forecast is supposed to be really tolerable though, so I think I just need to bite the bullet.
  11. The Northern Lights are supposed to be visible tonight. There was a shot of them appearing last night, but I was too tired to go check. Here's hoping I'm better about it tonight.
  12. I sent in my life insurance renewal money today. I always feel weird about that check.
  13. It's cookie day at work today. Things are looking up.

January 7, 2014

A lot of thinking time

Well, I'm back to work today. But as Beerman pointed out last night, I haven't worked a full work week since before Thanksgiving, so I really should shut my mouth.

All this time off has given me a lot of time to think. Which for better or worse, the extra thinking time and the combination with new year and fresh start and all that is a bit of a dangerous combination. What I've realized is that I've become incredibly lazy. Or maybe it's just complacence. I do the same things, think the same ways, and am not progressing or thinking better than I did the previous day. With work being so difficult this past year, I shut a lot of things down that would normally lead to my personal growth, and just moved to survival mode. I don't think I've ever fully recovered, and I haven't pushed myself to do it any faster.

I don't like that.

So what I've come to realize is I need to have be more creative. While I am creative in spurts through a few outlets and hobbies (photography, knitting), I need to immerse myself into something interesting and new. I need to learn more so I can be better. Because next year this time, I don't want to be the same person I am now. I want to be more creative, more interesting, and happier.

2014 is going to be a good year.

January 6, 2014

Making like an ice cube

C-man and I are home, staying out of the -13, and trying to get over the Packers loss. I did step outside for 30 seconds to feed the birds some un-frozen food. (I couldn't stand their little sad faces looking in the window at me from the cold.) I won't be doing THAT again. Brr! And so, I'll stay inside, attempting to work while C-man beats the 49ers repeatedly on Madden. (Whatever gets you through, little man!) Stay warm, unless you're already warm. Then I don't want to hear about it.

January 5, 2014


Whew. What a busy weekend. After Cub Scouts for Beerman and C-man, a birthday party sleepover for C-man, ski lessons for C-man while Beerman and I played cribbage, and then a night in Chippewa Falls for a late Christmas, we are finally back home again.

C-man's school, like everyone's, is closed tomorrow due to the projected -25 degree weather. Thank goodness for small favors. Because I'll say it again. Whew.

January 3, 2014

To each moment

It seems all my photos are in black and white lately, even though they aren't. It's the time of year when the sun is low and the gray sky reflects more gray. I am trying desperately to not let it affect my mood, as it so often does. It's always this time of year when I lament not jetting us away to the land of the sunny for a while. (But then I remember I need a kitchen this summer and quickly put those thoughts aside.)

To keep myself happy, I'm reading more. That always helps. I'm also considering how I can do some creative writing again, too. It's really been a long time since I've done that, and it always inspires my creative, happy mind. (Work used to be an outlet for that in so many respects, but has changed so much that it just isn't anymore. [I'm hoping the recent positive work changes will rectify that. Yea!])

In the meantime, I am going to try my hardest to enjoy the quiet that this slower time of year brings, and try to find any happiness I can in it. You know, enjoy the moment.

January 2, 2014

Good while it lasted

Well, it's back to work today. Apparently they expect me to work if I'm going to continue to be paid. It really is back to the mundane.

But we had a nice time.

My closests are pretty clean and organized, we had lots of fun with friends, I watched every Christmas movie I could think of, and almost as many chick flicks. I had a couple of massages and a facial. I had some beers and some refulgant punch. C-man had 4 sleepovers, one with a friend who he hadn't seen for 6 months. We watched a lot of episodes of Lillyhammer, stayed up late, slept in late, played Skylanders, and ate so much pizza that I cannot bear to eat another slice for quite some time. We saw some pretty cool fish. Harry and I took a lot of walks together, watched a lot of snow fall, and fed the greedy birds. We opened presents, rang in the new year, and watched too many football games. (Some of us more than others)

In other words, it was really good while it lasted.

January 1, 2014

Here's to the Fourteens

It's a lovely day - the fluffy snow that won't stop falling, the temperatures that have warmed enough to allow for snow to fall and your face to be free of a covering, and the quiet that washes over everything when that happens. A perfect day to watch the new year begin - clean, quiet, and with family.

This year, I'm going to do my best to be a better person. A more patient person. To get there, I of course, have a few resolutions/goals/things I want to accomplish. So let's get to it.

  • I want to take the apiary (beekeeping) courses this year. I tried last year, but they moved the dates because of some crazy power outage, and they rescheduled the classes to when we were out of the country. So this year, I'm going to do it.
  • I will read more.
  • I will move more.
  • I will be more organized.
  • I would really like to be in a play. (I don't have this one as a definitive "must do" this year, because I need to find a play that fits my schedule and isn't a musical - not necessarily the easiest thing. But I'm going to be on the hunt, and if I can find one, I'm doing it.)
  • But most importantly, I want to love more. Give more of my time to those who need it and forgive those who have slighted or wronged me more quickly.
I'm ready for this year. Let's do this.