Monday, December 31, 2007


We're visiting my brother and his fabulous family.
Need a funny? My sister-in-law Fran has got one:

Fran- Have you heard the joke about the skunk?

Me- No.

Fran- Nevermind. It stinks.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


When I was a little girl, growing up in Chicago, we had a number of Christmas traditions. We would visit The Museum of Science and Industry to see Christmas Around the World and pick out a new holiday ornament, view the holiday window display at Marshall Field's on State Street, and watch the lighting of the great Christmas tree in Daley Plaza.

But, honestly, the tradition that holds a special place in my heart was going to see a production of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker. I remember sitting in the balcony, peering down at the orchestra pit, feeling the magic of the season and watching the story unfold. I was mesmerized.

So, this year, I realized that Gillian, my little baby, is growing up. She's old enough now to sit quietly in the theatre, use her manners when needed, and understand a story told entirely by music, dance, and emotion.

Last night was the night. Her first step into mini-adulthood. We saw The Nutcracker.

Earlier in the week, she considered her clothing options, picked out a 'grown-up' skirt, and, last night, asked for 'fancy' hair. My heart hurt to see this maturity, but I was so proud. We arrived at the theatre, she was on fire with excitement. We found our seats, in the balcony, and she peered down at the orchestra pit. Memories.

Then, she noticed a little boy sitting directly behind us. He, too, was 'fancied' up with a little tie and jacket. Gillian made goo-goo eyes at him until the production began. And at the Intermission. And after every curtain call. And,yes, she was completely captured by the story, held by the fight of the Mouse King with the Nutcracker, in awe of the Waltz of the Flowers and the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy. She swayed to the music, clapped, and shouted 'Bravo!' whenever she could...all the while looking sideways at that adorable little boy.

Now, I am a mess of emotion. My little girl is growing up. She's beginning to have complex feelings about life...and she's asking thoughtful questions about love. I am proud, and scared, and unsure of this new territory. It's a beautiful thing when you see the wheels turning in your child's head. But I am a bit lost.

I haven't asked for anything this year, but I realize now that there is something I need. My Christmas wish is for the strength and wisdom to guide her down a path that will help her become the confident, caring person that I know lives inside her soul.
I hope someone's listening.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Seriously, people.

This can't go on.

Nathan just emailed to update me on the morning routine. See copy below:

Violin, yes. Spelling words, yes. Big breakfast with chocolate ice cream for dessert? Check.

Check a load of this: While Gilly ate breakfast, I asked if I could go pick out an outfit for her. She said yes, but specifically pointed out that she had no clothes behind Mama's in the closet, so I don't need to look there. HAHAHA. I am the finder of hidden things! I should be an investigator. That's it. I'm dropping out to pursue a new career.

Nuts about and to you,

P.S. I am going to put the whup on today's exam

Remember where the punching bag was hidden, folks?

Yeah, it's not anymore.


FYI: See previous two posts below for the lead up...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Never tell a secret to a seven year old. Ever.

Scene one-

Nathan and Gilly are crashed out on the couch. I'm taking a nap.

I know what your present is! Want me to tell you?

No! I like surprises!

Come on...I can't hold it in! How 'bout I just tell you what color it is? Huh?

(exasperated sigh)
Okay. Good. Tell me what color it is.

It's black!
I know some other things that are black!

(no response)

A punching bag is black! But you're not getting one. I'm just telling you about other things that are black.

Scene two-


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Shhhhh! This is a secret!

Yesterday, I cam home from work just exhausted. We had plans to babysit for the neighbors, so, Nathan wanted to run some errands before the cutie pie arrived.

No problem.

After he left, I noticed that he hadn't gotten the mail yet.

Kay. I went out to get it.

Guess what was sitting on the porch?

Nathan's Christmas present!

I had totally forgotten it was coming. Thank goodness he hadn't gone out there yet because this

was sitting out in plain view. Not in a cardboard box with a mailing address stuck to it, but in the Everlast box covered in pictures proclaiming exactly what was contained therein. Sheesh!

I'm standing on the snow covered porch, in my socks, trying to figure out how I am going to get an 80lb. boxing bag into the house before he arrives home. AND where the heck am I going to hide an 80lb box that is nearly as tall as I am?

The snow is melting under my feet and Gilly comes out to investigate. She yelps an excited, "Daddy is going to LOVE that!!" Yes. I know. For those of you who aren't aware, Nathan used to wrestle in high school and college and was pretty darn good. We've got a box full of medals to prove it. When we moved to Madison, WI a few years back, he took up Ultimate Fighting (boxing/wrestling) and loved it. He knows a few local guys who compete (UFC) and has been hoping to train at home so he'll feel more confident training with it's just darn fun.

Alright, so Gilly and I figure that we can tilt it and push it up the stairs. We huff and puff, make unattractive noises, turn red with effort and, finally get it to the top of the stairs. Then what, right?

There's no way I am wrapping this monstrous thing. We've still got a couple of weeks until Christmas. It's not going in my closet and we've no time to push it down the stairs into the basement. Gilly's room it is!

We shove it across the floor and into her room. She's got a pretty deep closet, so I position it in the back. Totally visible! I grab some long dresses from my closet and hang them in front of it. Sweet. It's disguised. As long as he doesn't wonder what my clothes are doing in her closet, we should be safe. He's a man, right? He won't even notice.

Nathan gets home with about 3 minutes to spare. Gilly and I look at each other knowingly. We've got a great secret...

Now, how are we going to get it back out for Christmas day?

P.S. Let's hope he doesn't suddenly decide to start reading my blog.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Ahna, you knew this was coming.

I have to take a minute and thank my favorite neighbors:


Why, do you ask?

Here's why:

Fine. I'll clarify.

Today we had a GIANT snowstorm. Many flakes. Many idiot drivers. Many. As in, lots.

Guess which highway they took? I94E.

Guess which one I had to take? I94E.

Guess how long it took me to get home?

No, really. Guess. (Normally, I am home in twenty minutes. I leave at 3pmish.)

Come on. Take a crack at it.

An hour you say?


One hour and a half?


Two hours??!

Nope. Try two and a half.

Now, since we're playing this fun guessing game, try to figure out what time Gilly's bus comes home.

Fine. I'll just tell you. 4pm or so.

Was Nathan home? Why, no, of course not!

Did I make it home in time? Why, no, of course not!

Okay, let's up the stakes a bit...

Realizing that I wouldn't make it home in time, I called my good friends, the Bungalogans and asked if they would be so kind as to pick my sweet child up at the bus stop.

Being the wonderful folks that they are, they agreed.

Ahh. All's better now.

But wait!
There's more!

Guess what arrived at 5:30pm? Ding, Ding! You're correct! Gillian's bus!!

Was Gillian on the bus?


Did the Bungalogans panic a bit? Heavens, I hope so! Did they figure out where Gillian was?

Heck yes!

Now, who came home in time to learn of the new situation?

Right again! I did!

After spending 2 1/2 hours in the dang car moving at under 10 miles an hour entire way, I arrived home to learn that I would need to get back in the car and spend another few hours driving to Gilly's school (normally a 20 minute drive in the opposite direction)because she did not get on the bus. She went to Girl Scouts instead.

Now, picture me near tears at this news. Because, yes, that is how I felt. Like weeping frustrated, horrible tears.

And what did the male half of my wonderful, understanding friends say?

He said,

"Relax. I'll go get her."

And what did the female half of my wonderful, understanding friends say?

She said,

"Sit down. I'll get you a glass of wine."

And what time did my poor, starving child get home?


Rick made it back with an in tact, although weepy, seven year old girl and two large pizzas.

I breathed a sigh of relief.

We ate delicious pizza and watched Rudolph.

I've gotta say, somebody had an eye out when we found this house.

Somebody knew that we'd need those Bungalogan's and that they'd be there for us.

So, thanks guys. We love and appreciate you more than you'll ever know!


I got nothing you guys.

Shall we wax poetic on the meaning of nothing?


That'd be ridiculous.

I'll try again later.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

And now, for The Odes of Horace

I'm feeling a little weepy this evening and needed a good image for my brain. This has been one of my favorites for the winter season. A fitting reminder that, though things may look bleak, there is always cheer to be had. I nearly added it to my Christmas letter last season...

Book 1, chapter nine

Behold how tall Soracte looms, and how white!
No longer can the laboring forests hold
Their snowy burden; streams are frozen,
Locked in the grip of the piercing coldness.

Dispel the chill air, piling the great logs high
Upon the hearth; unstintingly now bring forth
And pour the mellow, four-year vintage,
O Thaliarchus, from Sabine wine jar.

Leave to the gods the rest, for when they have stilled
The warring winds that battle upon the sea
The cypress is no longer shaken,
No longer vexed are the aged ash trees.

Whate'er tomorrow holds, shun to question now,
And what the day will bring, what of chance or gain,
Set down to profit; now in boyhood
Spurn not sweet loves or the youthful dances,

While from your bloom cantankerous age stands off.
Now 'neath the falling dusk, at the trysting hour
Again, again through field and courtyard
Let the soft whispers be still repeated.


Learn a bit more here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Are we there yet?

So, it took me a little while, but I made it back. I've been naughty and haven't updated in a while....SO sorry. I didn't fall off a cliff. I swear. I'm just a little slow lately. But, guess what? It's officially Christmas season! YAY!

Thanksgiving went off without a hitch. We spent a handful of days thoroughly enjoying ourselves with Nathan's family. The children got away with numerous sweets in place of healthy snacks, the adults enjoyed numerous cocktails and festive conversation. Okay, we really talked politics and history...but that is just as good!

The turkey was stuffed, cooked, and chowed. Delicious. I love this season. We had the good fortune of visiting with old friends...Nathan clobbered us all at Risk. We were not surprised. Although, next year, I don't think he'll be allowed to play. Some of us would like to win too. Haha.

Speaking of good cheer, on Sunday we hunted, killed and hauled our Christmas tree home. Gillian, the little sweetie that she is, wanted to know whether or not the tree was hurt when Nathan was sawing it's poor little trunk in half.

[I've got to make a plug here. Hidden Ponds Christmas Tree Farm is simply perfect. They had peacocks to see, acres of trees, hot apple cider, goats, a kids playground...ahhh. That's the spirit! Not to mention that all their kids work at the farm as a college savings program. How can you not love that?]

Being the good Mama that I am, I reassured her that, in fact, all Christmas trees are just dying to be cut down and taken home for their once in a lifetime chance at decoration. Okay, I put it a little sweeter than that. Of course, then we had to discuss whether or not the Christmas tree fairies that protect the tree are offended at our brutality. Again, I assured her that all was well. The Christmas tree fairies have been protecting the trees for this very purpose and are overjoyed at their release from duty.

There's nothing quite as fun as hunting the tree. That is, of course, excepting the fabulous tradition of decking the thing out in all the tinsel, ribbon, garland, and multitude of ridiculous things on hand which we, of course, must partake in. Gilly especially. I've yet to see that girl more excited than when Nathan dug out the box of Christmas chotskys. Good gracious! Little boxes flew everywhere while she searched for her favorite ornaments. Sadly, in all the blessed hubbub, we lost one to the fairies of death. Broken. Poor little green, twisty, feathery ornament thingy. Gilly was very sad. But only for a minute. She quickly recovered and it was on to the next funny shaped thing-a-ma-bob.

So, when she determined that the tree was done (a.k.a. there was nothing left that might, in any way, be capable of hanging) we had some cocoa and admired the thing. Bliss.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

H is for Holidays

I am SO pumped. Really. I mean it. The holiday season is here and I am feeling it. LOADS.

Last year, I think we bought our Christmas tree a day or two before the big day.

This year, I was thinking about whether the tree farms would be open on November 1st. Not kidding. I have completely bypassed Thanksgiving and moved right on into Christmas. In fact, those Thanksgiving pictures posted at the right were just my way of pretending that I didn't really want to post a picture of Ebenezer standing in the twilight in the company of Jacob Marley. I'm not gonna lie, I've got the image saved on my desktop for when it is 'appropriate' to post. I am such a dork.

I have, thus far, successfully pushed away the urge to purchase mass quantities of tinsel and paint everything red. But I don't know how much longer I can hold out. The desire is beginning to creep into my daily life. Just this afternoon, I was staring out the window at work and noticed a few snowflakes.

"It's SNOWING!" I hollered at anyone who would listen.


Mostly, I got rolled eyes. Well deserved, as there were about four flakes whirling around in the air. Not snow, perse, but I have a very vivid imagination when needed.
Later, I daydreamed about what Christmas Tree crafts Gilly and I ought to do this year. We, of course, will make snowflakes for the windows, but what else? Hmmm.....

And, guess who's got every weekend in December scheduled for one Christmas activity after another?

You guessed.

That was a hard one.


So far, we're seeing Madeline's Christmas at a local children's theatre, the National Lutheran Choir at the Basilica of Saint Mary, The Nutcracker at the O'Shaughnessy, A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie, breakfast with the elves at the Swedish Museum...let's see...anything else I can fit in?

And you know there's going to be sledding, skating, and hot cocoa in our future. Just as soon as the snow cooperates. Heck, if it doesn't, I might do it anyway. I'll look a little ridiculous, but that's not new, right?

OhMiGosh. I've got it bad. I'm sitting on the couch, as we speak, thinking how nice it would be if I had a cozy red blankie to snuggle and a pillow with sparkles. Meanwhile, Gillian keeps running in here to ask me what I might like 'if' someone were to make me breakfast in bed for a 'present' and then running back to the kitchen to report the answer to Nathan. I can hear them discussing...too cute.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


...Check your mail!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

...a little late.

I love this card. My sweet sister-in-law sent this last year.

I stink.
This is SO after the fact, but, whatever.

September conversation in the household:

Nathan: Hey! Gilly! What do you want to be this Halloween?

Gilly: Athena (goddess of wisdom, for those not greek), Daddy! You be Zeus and I can spring out of your head with a spear! Mama! Do you have a spear?

Mama: Uhhhh...No?

Gilly: Where can we get one?

Mama: Uhhh...nowhere? Use your finger!

Gilly: Mama, you're going to be Hera (known well for her terrible temper and ugly, jealous rages). Kay?

Mama: Uhhhh. No?

P.S. Sorry I've been so slow to update! I'll explain why tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

if you listen

you can hear, birds sing and flowers grow. if you listen you can hear, my love for you just grow.

Elizabeth Mitchell sings a song, on Gillian and my favorite album of late, that makes me tear up every time. On the way home from Madison was no exception.

We love singing along to music in the car. Gilly gets a sort of ga-ga look in her eye when the CD changer finishes one of my albums (usually some old school Marley circa Catch a Fire, Wagner, or a kid friendly Beck album...anyone else love Guero?!...all of which she will happily sing along with), and, surprisingly, starts Elizabeth's Little Bird .

On Sunday, we sang through most of the album, and, when we arrived at 'if you listen' (I first heard this song, sung by Francoise Hardy, in high school. Mitchell does a fantastic rendition), Gillian commented, "I've been singing this all week in my head!"

My goodness, that's nice to hear! Me too!

So, we both sang along. Me choking down tears (it's the lyrics, man! They just GET me!) and her singing to the fairies that we passed on the road.

If you've got an interest in folk that's a little bit salty, pick up this album. Your kids will thank you for it. So will I.

We don't live there anymore

We spent this past weekend in Madison, WI visiting my family. I love that town. It has a strange way of making me feel beserk and at home all at the same time. Go figure. I suppose I'll add that to my list of bizarro life situations.

So, I thought I'd share some goofy pictures of the girls...Fran, these are from the last time you visited us. Take note. Gillian had no front teeth. She does now. I think it's time to come back up here. Heehee.

Yikes! Sorry about that...

Ummm...I suppose this is what happens when you take your girls to Libby Lu. Good gracious...what were we thinking?

Anyhoo...we miss you guys. It's time for a visit.

Strike a pose. Duh-duhduh.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Feeling a bit 'blah' today

So, I've moved into the gray zone. So there.

But, don't worry. This is what I came home for.

I mean...uh...this is what I came home for.

Soon, I 'll feel more like this.

Joy, this one

is for you. Stay tuned for more...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pumpkin Patch!

Last weekend, we thought it would be fun to take the girls to the pumpkin patch.

I found what I thought would be a fantastic location: pony rides, apples, pumpkins, petting zoo, hay ride...and FREE!

We loaded up five girls (one of whom was feeling mighty crabby) and three adults (one of whom was feeling rather sniffly) and get lost.


My directions neglected to inform me that there were two highways numbered 51. Old highway 51 and new highway 51. I love Mapquest. Thanks.

Luckily, we happened upon a sweet truck driver who pointed us in the right direction.

We were on our way...after a mighty long and confusing hour in the car.

We arrived at an over-peopled, over-priced, apple and pumpkin plucked disappointment.

Oh well.

The girls had fun and I got some pretty cute pictures!

There's always next year...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ten weird things...

My friend JJM tagged me by email the other day.

"Here's how you play, once you've been tagged. You have to write a blog with 10 weird, random things, facts or habits about yourself. At the end you choose 10 people to be tagged, listing their names and why you chose them to be tagged. Don't forget to leave them a comment "You're It!" and to read your blog. You can't tag the person who tagged you."

This should be easy as I am a confirmed, complete and utter, nuttball. Ask anyone...

1. I love my Birkies. A lot. Really, I'll show you.

That's seven years of love, baby!

These puppies have trekked through a month of mud and slime in the Amazon, filthy cobblestones in Quito, crystal clear water in the BWCA, cloud forest in the mountains of Ecaudor, and the cigarette lined streets of Paris. And survived.

They've walked in the footsteps of Diane de Poitiers at Château de Chenonceau past Leonardo Da Vinci at Château de Chambord. And they marveled at it all.

They've been to Cape Breton Island where they saw a moose. A BIG moose. And they didn't run away.

They brought home a wrinkled, new baby. And helped carry her around for years.

They've been all over the world with me. And I refuse to give them up. So, maybe they're a little smelly. Okay, very smelly, but they're my buddies. I love my buddies. All of them, whether or not they stink. So there.

2. I'm a curious beast. Don't be mad if I keep asking you questions. About everything. Yes, everything. Please, don't hold back. I'm totally fascinated by all of you!!

3. We didn't own a television for a few years. One of Nathan's friends from work heard about it and took pity on him. He was sent home with a TV, much to my chagrin. Luckily, it had no antenna, so, we didn't get any reception for television braodcasts. Phew! It's creeping up on five years now, sans the TV shows. Life is good. (Don't get us wrong...We LOVEloveLOVE movies and watch planty of them!!)

4. I have got one hell of a deep bellybutton. Not kidding. It's like Lake Superior in there!

5. Yes, my hair is that curly. Yes, it grows that way. No, it's not that hard to take care of. No, you cannot do the boingy thing with my curls. Now go away.

6. I have two feet...of different sizes. And, I passed it on to Gilly. Poor girl.

7. The doctor who deliverd Gillian was named Dr. Faust. Not kidding. That should have sparked some concerns.

8. You only think I've got fashion sense. What I've really got is a uniform with mighty good accessories. That's right. Summer = T-shirts and khakis of varying colors. Fall, Spring, Winter = Sweaters and khakis of varying colors. Sprinkle in some jeans. Add wool socks, or take them off. Done.

9. I love non-fiction best.

10. It takes me HOURS to fall asleep. I mean it. HOURS! My brain cannot shut up. I think I might do something about it one day. Suggestions? (No guns, please)

Now, I'm passing the tag on my favorite, lovely, blogging ladies:

sew succulent

Can't wait to hear about all your weirdness!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Look what I found when I opened my Apple Photobooth today!!


...and what has she done with my baby?!

That looks like a slightly-know-it-all-ish-in-your-face-rocker-chick

How did she get in here? I thought I sprinkled the magic-pre-teenager-attitude-repellent all over the doorknobs! Crap!

Guess who got into my shoes.

She's such a creative little bug, though, isn't she? I believe that's a chocolate chip cookie in her hand. It helps to eat cookies when making art. Had I gone to art school, I'm sure that would have come up in Drawing I or something. Maybe this growing up thing won't be too bad.

I'm sure I'm kidding myself.

Friday, October 12, 2007

This is me...

Here's a postcard my sweet and thoughtful older sister sent me years and years ago.

Anybody else wish they were writing clever things while sipping fancy coffee in a fashionable Paris bistro circa 1959?

I'm going to take a nap now and dream about it.

Wake me up when...wait.

Don't wake me up!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

639 more minutes until my alarm goes off..

Today I read an article that made me think. (Yes, I do that sometimes.)

It was written by a man who, on his relentless quest for efficiency and mastery of time, almost missed a beautiful snippet of life.

That is, the sweetness. The little things. The tiny love notes your children leave for you all over the house. The smiles from strangers. The time when someone backed off and let you merge onto the highway. And you waved to say 'thanks.'

And how fleeting it all is. But how precious.

And, yes, we're all in a hurry. We're all just trying to get it done so we can move on. Get home. Hurry up and get supper on. And brush the kids teeth. And get to bed.

And yet, we have to remember the little things. We have to remember to be here. In the moment. Right now.

I promise to do it if you do.

So, dear readers, tell me about how you take it all in.

How do you cherish all those minutes in the day?

Now, go remind someone else of it...and, maybe, we'll become masters of our time as well.

Friday, October 5, 2007

We can always use a lift, so how about this one...

The Orange

Wendy Cope

At lunchtime I bought a huge orange-
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave-
They got quarters and I had a half.

And that orange, it made me so happy.
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. a walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It's new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And I enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I'm glad I exist.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


I know I just did this...but it's Nathan's birthday and I love him, he deserves a tribute!

So, here are a few of the reasons for which I love this man:

He gave Gilly all those adorable baby genes...

How could I not with a face like this?

He still hasn't figured out where the potty is...

He's got such a fabulous amount of facial hair...maybe because he started shaving so early.

He rocks!

He's got the same ridiculous sense of humor as I do!

He manages to get in the craziest predicaments!

Yes, that's him stuck in a hole. And he and his brother in the fireplace!

He's such a strong, handsome, daddyman!

He's a wrestler...and that's SO hot!

He knew VW's were cool way before the rest of us!

He's such a smarty pants. He was elected to write his high school graduation speech and, due to his notorious procrastination skills, he somehow managed to write it two hours before commencement. Jeez!

He's so cute!

He fathered this beautiful girl...

And without him, we would not be such a fabulous unit!

We lovelovelove you! Hurry up and finish law school so we'll see you more often!