Thursday, June 30, 2005

What Do I Look Like, Chopped Liver?

I was at an "off site" today in a meeting of the minds to try to solve our brand's problem (you know, the one that we haven't been able to advertise in nine months because we can't make an ad that people like or that makes them want to buy the product.) There were ten people in the room, including two SVPs (Senior Vice President), one EVP (Executive Vice President), on Vice President, two Directors, one Associate Director (me), two Managers, and one Consultant. The folks in this six-hour meeting probably are worth $4-5 million in salaries and bonuses a year....big bucks, big minds, and yes, big egos. (By the way, I was the only female in the room. Usually, this is not the case, but I think that it's because there were so many senior executives in the room. It's an interesting part of business life.There are no other Associate Directors who are female and only one Director who is female in my division of 200 people. I hope that the glass ceiling can be shattered soon.)

The morning started out with a lot of pointing fingers and defensiveness. It was a bit ugly. But, I think it had to all get out on the table so that we could get past it and be productive. And, five hours later, we were productive.

With free-flowing Diet Coke and water, you can bet that I had to make a few bathroom breaks during the day. After getting directions to the bathroom from one of my collegues the first time. I could only find a men's bathroom and a unisex handicapped bathroom. So, I used the handicapped bathroom. The second time, I asked an employee of the hotel and was told that there were no women's bathrooms on that floor and I should just use the handicapped bathroom. The floor of this hotel is the "executive board room" floor, where there were SIX meeting rooms for 10-20 people in each room. How old-school is the hotel (which was built three years ago) to think that they would only have men in these board rooms??

The third time I went to the bathroom, there was someone cleaning the handicapped bathroom, so I waited patiently outside. I knew that there was only one potty and one sink in there and it wouldn't take too long to clean. The woman cleaning the bathroom glanced up and saw me waiting. She said "I'm sorry, these bathrooms are for the board rooms only." I told her that I was meeting in one of the board rooms. She said, "no, I mean the executive board rooms down the hall." Yes, I told her, I'm meeting in the Amish room. "Are you sure?" she asked. I finally said, "Yes, I'm an executive from XXX company meeting in the Amish board room. May I please use the bathroom." "Oh, I'm so sorry" she replied and hustled out so I could do my business. I guess that because I'm not a fifty-year old man in a suit, I couldn't be an executive!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Lots of Rides, But No Games

We just got back from the local 4th of July carnival. It's set up at the local airport about three miles away. M and I splurged on the unlimited-ride wristbands for the boys. We calculated out how many rides they'd get with just tickets and this was a better deal. We got there as soon as I got home from work and stayed for two hours. Each boy got to go on 18 rides, including repeats.

Each boy has his own favorite type of ride. R loves the small rollercoasters that look very fast to me -- it was big enough for both adults and kids to go on it. He had a grin from ear to ear the whole time. T is a different story. He likes rides that whip him around, fast -- not up and down. He'll go on a ride that whips around the corners and he laughs so hard, while R looks uncomfortable and nearly turns green. They had a very nutritious dinner of funnel cake and snow cones (it's a carnival, after all!) M ate a pickle which reminded me of my youth when my folks sold pickles at the county fair and tried to use a photo of me as their advertisiement. The problem was that they wanted me to take a bite and smile for the camera, but I hated pickles (still do) and couldn't manage more than a grimace for the pictures.

But, I digress.

R also went on the climbing rock and did pretty well. The guy helping out was really nice and gave him lots of help. He made it up about half way to the top two times. T also tried, but found it to be too dificult; "I'm never going on that again!" I said that maybe he could try when he was a bit bigger and he said that he would think about it.

About the staff at the carnival (aka "carnies"). There were four that seemed normal and were nice to the kids. Five of them were missing more than two teeth. About half of them were chain smoking. Three didn't say a word to the boys, but just motioned with their hand where to get in the ride. Then, there were the game worst nightmare. They would yell to the kids that they'd get a free game and a winner every time. After we passed the first one and I nearly lost R to the sirens of the carnies' calls "Hey boy, you look like you can win this. Come on over here and give it a try. It's okay. you can do it. Don't worry, you're mom will let you, won't you mom?!" Aarghh.... From then on I held their hands tightly. At first I got down to the kids' eye level and explained that these guys try to trick you into giving them money for the games and we weren't going to fall for their tricks. Then, after barely making it by the fish-for-a-duck game, M explained that we spent all of our money on the ride wrist bands and had none left for the games. That did the trick, thank God. After that talk, R would tell the carnies"We can't. We don't have any more money." Whew. Boy, I've never liked those carnies and I'm sure that my dad and mom were never like that when selling his pickles, sea monkeys, and photo buttons.

But, all of that is forgotten.

When we walked into the house, R said "I feel like we've been on vacation today. We went golfing, swimming in the lake, and to that cool carnival. Thanks mom for taking us there." Awww.


By the way, have I mentioned that R is taking golfing lessons? He loves it. While he takes the lesson, M plays nine holes, with T driving the cart and putting. Too cool.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Nothin' a Little Malibu Rum Won't Help

I'm having a tough time at work right now. It's nothing that I'm doing wrong; I'm actually doing my job well and getting compliments. It's that the brand I'm working on is having a hard time. We're having a hard time getting an ad on air and we're getting desperate! It makes for a stressful work environment, when we're all trying to do what's right and it's just not working....yet.

The good part of the day is coming home to such happy boys and a great husband....and a bit of Malibu Rum that M bought for me today to "take the edge off". But really, the boys are having such a fun time this summer and are thrilled to tell me all about it when I get home at night.

Tonight M had a chicken and salad dinner all ready when I walked in the door and a drink poured for me (he knew it was a rough day and I have two more rough days coming up.) Drink in hand, I listened to T tell me about the little, tiny beach that they found on a new lake today and R tell me about the new soldier's armor that he created out of a coat hanger and some wire shelving squares. The were both talking at once (I do have two ears after all) and were so enthusiastic, that I just smiled and nodded when appropriate.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Summertime, Summertime, Sum- Sum- Summertime

Ninety degrees with 85 percent humidity is definitely summer weather in the midwest. I've learned to appreciate tank tops, even with my wobbly upper arms. The boys and I have learned to appreciate a good glass of lemonade and we have the recipe down pat: Fill the pitcher up with ice, roll three lemons to release the lemony-juice-goodness; juice the lemons, catching the seeds as best as you can before they go into the glass; pour juice into pitcher; fill pitcher with water; add five packets of splenda, stir and drink. Yummy and refreshing.

M and the boys also bought me a Super Soaker (water gun for you water gun novices). As in, "quick mom, get your swim suit on and come join us, you're on my team!" M filled his Super Soaker up with crushed ice for an extra cold squirt to the opposing team.

We saw the remake of Herbie the Love Bug, "Herbie Fully Loaded" and it was a fun family flick. It was also a nice way to get relief from the heat.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I've Never Heard the Words "Texas" and "Uvula" in the Same Sentence Before

Last night I was lamenting on how I still felt rotten after being sick for five days. Even though my sinuses were clearing up (and my mucus changed to a much nicer color from the grey-green it had been for two days), I still felt like Crap! And my throat hurt *really* bad. I knew that my throat hurt all along and I know that my glands were swollen and nearly popping out of my neck on Saturday, but my main complaint was never my throat. It was my mucas-head that wouldn't drain or dry up or explode (which seemed like it would make it feel better if it did explode.) I also had no energy and no appetite (as I have lacked for five days, which by the way, is good for the diet, but not good for providing any said energy.)

ANYWAY, I found a flashlight and asked M to look at my throat. I could tell by looking in the mirror that it was quite pink, but I couldn't see much past my tongue. While looking in my mouth with R's camping flashlight, he exclaimed, " You've got a white spot the size and shape of Texas on your uvula. I think you've got strepp." Texas on my uvula? Well, I grabbed the flashlight and went to the bathroom mirror, shined the light in my mouth, said "ahh" and discovered that the man was right! There was a white Texas on my uvula that took up about two-thirds of the uvula. Hmmmm....

I went to the doctor this morning and learned that it's not strepp, but a "doozy of a throat infection." I'm not sure if they learn "doozy" in medical school, but I knew what he meant. I left with a perscription for antibiotics in my hand and orders to stay home as long as my fever was above 99 (it was 99.9 at the doctor's office.) The boys got to have me home again today (I left work at 11:30 yesterday), even if I spent the whole time lounging on the couch. Oh wait, I did make it out to the red adirondack chairs at some point today :> They make me happy.

I am feeling much better and actually made dinner tonight (pesto chicken on the grill and a salad).

Monday, June 20, 2005

Weekend by the Lake

Except for being sick, it was a really fun weekend. I was sick with a flu or a really bad cold or something. It kicked my butt. None of the drugs worked well, so I couldn't breathe through my nose for four days. (M said that I was quite a trooper and thanked me for hanging in there.) Finally I can today, but my throat still hurts and I have absolutely no energy. Enough about me, here's what happened over the weekend.

We went camping. It was the first time this season that we went camping. We took "The Duck" out of storage (named because of the picture of the duck on the side of our tent-trailer.) M's mom has always wanted to go camping, so we invited them to go with us. It was definitely cozy in the Duck. As my grandpa used to say, it sleeps six, but walks one. Everybody had a good time. I was feeling super lousy on Saturday, so gramma, grampa, M, and the kids went for a tour of the submarine that is a museam near where we were camped. They also ran across a Father's day picnic in town with free hot dogs, cotton candy, a jumpy and other games. I got a good four hour nap and they had a great time.

We also brought along our bikes. M and his dad took the boys for a ride (T in the bike trailer and R on the extend-a-bike behind M). M also took his mom for a ride and they had a really nice time. I had some energy on Saturday afternoon and we walked the block to the lake where I sat on my behind and the boys and M played in the lake (Grampa slept on the beach, snoring away!). It was an hour of splashing in the lake, building sandcastles, and collecting sea shells (including olives, my favorite shells that I used to collect in Santa Barbara).

Of course we had campfires each night, and even one on Saturday morning. We roasted hot dogs, roasted marshmellows, made s'mores, and had a nice time by the campfire. I think it was a good first camping experience for M's mom. The kids had a great time -- R wants to live at the campground, T missed his home but said that he had a really good time.

We're also going camping next weekend. Hopefully we'll all be healthy and we'll all enjoy it.


Tonight while T was helping my dead-head our flowers said out of the blue, "Mom wouldn't it be great if we built a lazy river in our back yard?" I don't know where he learned the term "lazy river" (or wazy river as he says) but it sure was cute. After I told him that unfortunately we couldn't build a lazy river in the backyard, he proceeded to tell me exactly how we could. It involved an endloader, dumptruck full of water, and lots of pretty river rocks. Sounded nice.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

To Swim or Not To Swim

On Sunday, we headed to our local lake for a morning full of fun in the water and the sun. It was about 80 degrees and a bit humid, but not too bad. It was about 10 am and there was only one or two other families at the beach. We almost had the place to ourselves...nice.

M kept walking towards the water to put our towels down. I had to hold my tongue because I thought he was getting too close and we'd get soaked when the tide came in. Luckily I did hold my tongue because the tide doesn't come in at a small lake!

We all went in for a family swim and had a blast. The water was shallow for a long ways out. R and T could touch for a really long time. They were so happy, collecting rocks, splashing, and bobbing and kicking. We swam out to the bouy that designated the swim area -- it was deeper here, but the boys had blown up swim rings around them and did fine. I told the boys that sometimes those rings go up over your head if you're not careful, and that all they had to do was kick-kick-kick and they'd get their head up above the water. They had a good time with those rings.

One bouy was tipped over and R investigated and found the hole that let in water to make it too heavy to float -- quite a sleuth. T would go under water, touch the bottom, and shoot up like a rocket. Lots of fun.

We got the kids closer to shore and M and I got out and sat on the beach watching the kids with smiles on our faces. We both love the water and love it that our kids love the water too. T came out and collected sea shells (or is it lake shells?) We called both boys in for our picnic lunch (cheese sandwiches, cherries, and juice for the boys; cashews, cheese, and pickles for M and me. - Atkins, ya know.)

M went back in with the boys for a long time -- I could hear lots of laughter from all three of them. It was fun to watch. R is very proud that he invented a new sport -- underwater rock climbing. I'm not really sure what it entails, but he talked about it all day.

When it was time to come in, IT happened. Tommy slipped out of his ring. It happened for only two seconds; it wasn't even a big concern to M and me. He was in water that was only up to his belly button. Well, let me tell you, it was a concern to him! He was a-screaming and a-crying! Poor boy was scared to death! (I SWEAR it was for only two seconds, but you'd never know it by his carrying-on!) He was yelling "I'm NEVER going in the water again!" and "I hate the lake" and "I was sooo scared!" We had a really hard time calming him down. Even though we were planning on going, I thought that it was pretty important that we get that boy back in the water so he remembered how much fun it was! Back in the saddle and all that. (Plus, he was going to start swimming lessons the next day. I wanted that to go well!)

He did not want to go in. Nope. Not gonna do it.

Finally, M talked him into going in the water up to his knees. He did it, but he wasn't happy about it. I could see M getting frustrated, so I whipped off my shorts and top and decided to get wet again for the cause. I went to T and he was not happy. I kept walking out farther and he yelled "The water is higher than my knees, daddy said I only had to go to my knees!!!" I convinced him to go to my knees and went in a bit reluctantly, but he went in. He even broke a smile once or twice, but it wasn't easy. Finally I got him to splash me (which isn't usually allowed) and he had fun. Whew. Mission completed. We went home, hoping (and praying) for the best on Monday at swim class.


Swim Class had two black marks on it from the get-go:
1. R and T were in two different classes, which was fine for R, but not for T. Quote: "I never have fun without R." End quote.
2. T had the whole scary episode the day before.

I think we had less than a fifty percent chance that things would go well.

M braved it and went with a positive attitude. A postitive attitude that lasted about half way through T's 20 minute poolside fit that he pitched. Poor T. Poor M! M went from the postitive attitude to empathy to consoling to cheer leader to consoling to frustration to making deals to anger to completely fed up. T wouldn't go in the water with the class. He wouldn't sit by the pool with his feet in the water. He wouldn't sit down by the wall to watch the class (I think this is when the anger set in, I know it would have with me if I were there!). So, M took T to watch R's class, which went swimmingly (sorry about the pun, but I just had to use it). R used a kickboard, practice his strokes, and practice breathing. He likes his coach and had a great time. M called me with a report of the whole thing and my heart went out to him.

Somehow, M got a brainstorm to go to the lake after swim class. The very lake where the beforementioned incident happened. M took R and T in the water and they had a great time. Both kids had a great time....swimming in the lake....a great time. M left me a voicemail, saying "T's cured." Cured? How can that be? But he was. He went to swimming class today with nary a whimper and had a blast. He says his coach is pretty and had fun swimming and playing in the pool. Allelluia!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Hot Day at the Park

We were playing at the park today and R climbed up really high on one of those metal monkey bar things shaped in an upside down U. Those kind that you climb up to the top, carefully turn around so that you can climb down the other side backwards (otherwise you'd be heading down head first) -- you know the kind I mean? -- R calls them the Rainbow Bars.

ANYWAY, R had a tough time at the critical turn-your-body-around part at the top. So, he asked me to help him and I did. He said that his tummy felt funny from the Rainbow Bars. Then he said he had to go poop. There was a portapotty on the other side of the baseball field at the park, so we trekked over to it. Luckily it was open and it didn't stink. R went poop and Tom did too. When we headed back, R said that his tummy hurt still and came to sit with me on the bench while T played on.

Quote of the day: After R sat down next to me..."Mom, I think my tummy hurts from the combination of the tricky Rainbow Bars and the blistering hot day."

Never fear, within five minutes he was fine, running and jumping again.

Boondoggle of a Business Trip

I just got back from a business trip. This was one that I was dreading because I'd be gone for three nights. I hate being gone for more than two. But, I couldn't help it. This was a sales meeting and I had no control of the agenda. I was also a little mad that there was going to be hardly any work to be done -- only three hours of meetings a day for two days -- the rest? play. I wasn't happy about being forced to be away from the kids for four days and three nights to play! (Crazy, I know.) But I had to go and I did. M prepared by arranging for a babysitter to come over for three hours both Tuesday night and Wednesday morning so that he could get a break. He and the boys had a great time while I was gone. Sure they missed me, but they had super soakers to occupy their time in the 92 degree heat. As M said, they got "soaked to the bone" every day! That made me happy while I was gone.

Meanwhile, I was at a fabulous beach resort, having a great time. Besides the whole six hours of meetings I spent some time on the beach watching some of my colleagues learn how to surf (quite amusing!) I got a "hot rock" pedicure (in which they gave me a foot massage with hot rocks -- nice) on my company's dime. I liked it so much, I booked a manicure for the next day on my dime. I went to a beach party with a great live band. They served all you can eat lobster and steak and an open bar with great umbrella drinks. And, there were four fire pits set up with all the fixin's for s'mores. The next day, I read a book in the shade, got my manicure and leasurely got ready to go out with the gang -- to a great restaurant and a sing-along piano bar afterwards. The piano bar was my idea and it was lots of fun. You could request songs and it was fun when the crowd all sang a long to the song you picked out. There was after hour drinks after all of these events until two in the morning, but I never partook -- I was always in bed by midnight.

So, despite my initial misgivings, I had a good time and my family survived :>

Monday, June 06, 2005

Fun Visit with AJ

AJ was here for a nice, but too short, visit. We sure miss her! We used to live only about an hour away from her and sure got used to seeing her a lot. Anyway, she was here for four days and we really enjoyed her company -- M and I agreed that she's an easy guest to have over. The boys had a blast with her. Some highlights:
  • Long walks with T and meeting the neighborhood cat who walked with them for blocks
  • Exploring the wilds of Africa at the zoo
  • Seeing a movie with AJ sitting in between the boys
  • Harmonizing with me on "You are my sunshine" at bedtime -- it must have been good because both boys requested it (you could say that we had an encore!)
  • Sitting in the red adirondack chairs and watching T play on the swings
  • AJ spending an hour grooming Mackinaw (the dog definitely enjoyed AJ's affection!)
  • Drinking vodka tonics with LOTS of lime at cocktail hour
  • Listening to R explain in great detail how an airplane works (or paper airplane, in this case)
  • Watching the very big storm roll through and feeling the temperature drop from 95 to 70 in a half an hour

We're sad to see her go, but we have a lot of good memories to add to our memory banks. R told me that he felt "sad to see AJ walk into the terminal becuase she's the funnest aunt that has ever visted us in our new home."


I'm going on a three night business trip -- be back Friday night. I made a calendar for R and T to mark with stickers the number of nights I'll be gone. I hate being gone more than two nights...three nights away is so much harder on the family than two nights. Well, at least I haven't had to travel much in this job!

R, T, and AJ get ready to go into the wilds of Africa at the local zoo. Note: T put together his own outfit -- engineer's cap, gold necklace,and all. Posted by Hello
R plays the drums in the African village at the zoo. Posted by Hello
One of the cool parts of the zoo was feeding the giraffes from a perch up high. T cracked up when these two giraffes both tried to get the food that he fed them. Posted by Hello