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2 kids. Memories of Wolf and Boo. Many dear friends. Three siblings. Two parents. Samarra the crazy dog. The Player and Pi the Cat. I love you all!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pet Pepperoni Pizzas

I was done with work a little early yesterday so I called Kathleen to invite her to go for a walk and/or a cup of coffee.  She was available for a late afternoon get-together by some miracle of serendipitous timing since she was not working OR rehearsing for the Evergreen Cemetary Walk which starts this weekend.  I stopped by her house and instead of exercising and/or drinking coffee we had some red wine and hummus.  What a surprise!

So yesterday was a great day.

I currently have a patient that I see regularly myself, instead of having her see one of the Physical Therapy Assistants.  I have been able to get to know her a little better than I often get to know my other patients.  She is very smart and clever.  We were talking about kids' songs yesterday.  She knew the Old Dunderbeck song that my grandfather used to sing and for which my dad recently got the lyrics by asking my whiz sister Connie to find them on the Internet, which she promptly and efficiently did.  My patient did not, however, know The Poor Old Slave has Gone to Rest.  But I sang it for her.  And now I'll be fired from my job.  No, just kidding.  She loved it and said it reminded her of the kids' song: Apples and Bananas.  I just recently learned that song from Chris Kauffman at NCC when she taught it to the children there a few years ago.  For those of you who don't know the Apples and Bananas song, it goes like this:

I like to eat,
I like to eat,
I like to eat apples and bananas.

You sing that verse 5 times but each time you sing the phrase Apples and Bananas you replace the vowel sounds with the long A sound, then the long E sound, then long I, long O and long U.  It's pretty funny by the end.  Uupples Und Bununus!

My patient said after a while kids get bored with that so she created a similar song with the lyrics

I like to eat,
I like to eat,
I like to eat Pepperoni Pizza.

Using the same vowel switching technique.  I like to eat Peepeereenee Peezee.  It IS funnier.

And then she said a few years after she taught only a small group of kids her own version of the song, she heard some kids that she didn't know singing it at a park. 

She could have been famous!  And Connie could have been rich if Mom hadn't made her give the rocks she sold the neighbor kids back and return their money, just months before Pet Rocks became all the rage.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Saving The Children from Boring Sunday School Classes

I am continuing my re-reading of Saving Jesus from the Church this week.  We are assigned Chapters 6 and 7 for class on Sunday.  This is an interesting book and on my second reading I find I can read a little more critically than the first time through when I would say I was just "blown away" by the entire package.  This time I find I don't agree with everything he writes but I do think his main premise is important.  That people who want to be truly Christian should follow the examples of Jesus's life.  "Be compassionate as God is compassionate."  And so on.  For more information see the book by Meyers and/or the New Testament.

At the suggestion of a couple of my classmates from the Saving Jesus... class, I went online to watch a sermon by Robin Meyers,  the author of the book and the first guest speaker in the Jim and Gwen Pruyne Lectureship.  You can see one, too, at http://www.mayflowerucc.org/.    I enjoyed the sermon and I am looking forward to hearing this man in person and to attending his workshop in October. But something about the pews facing forward and the lack of opportunity for response...well, I've said before I know we've got something special at NCC.

This coming Sunday I am also teaching the little kids Sunday School class a lesson on "The Stories of our Tradition:  The Bible and How We Use It"  from The Center for Progressive Christianity Sunday Schhol lesson book.  This lesson is designed to give the kids the idea that the Bible is made of stories that helped ancient people explain the world they lived in and the mysteries they encountered.  Stories to help answer those "Why?" questions we all have. Not facts, not history, not stories to be taken literally.  Saving Kids from Literalism, so to speak.

As far as the kids classes go I think they like the art projects we do most of all.  We have a very creative bunch in the younger kids class.  They also still like to be read to, sometimes, but when you get the markers, scissors, and glue sticks out those little people come ALIVE.

Last time I taught the class, Willemina and I took the kids on a walk around the ISU campus.  They were wild with joy and nearly wore us out just keeping them safe.  When we returned to NCC Susan happened to stop in the classroom.  I thought she was going to ask us to quiet the little hooligans down.  But she had just stopped in the classroom for something else.  And when I mentioned that the kids were particularly wild that day, she looked at them and said "But they're so Happy."  And they were, indeed.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Oakdale's Fabulous Fishing Club

This morning while perusing my email, I happened to look at the weekly Border's Coupon to see if it was one I could use.  It is!  And I just used one yesterday to buy 2 books for my kids.  It was a 40% off any 2 paperbacks.  So we went to Borders after school and after Jeremiah's Fishing Club meeting (More on that later.)  Sierra picked out a Halloween book and Jeremiah got a Kids Almanac for 2011. 

Today's coupon is for 33% off any one item (excluding some things like magazines, gift cards, etc.).  Below the coupon were some books that Borders recommends "Just For You!" meaning just for me, Kim Tingley.  Book number one's title was Dork Diaries:  Tales from a Not-so-fabulous Life.



So, back to Fishing Club.  (Not-so-fabulous, indeed!)  Oakdale Elementary School has not had a Chess Club for two years, since Miss Webb transferred to Kingsley Jr High and left us without a sponsor.  But for the 4th and 5th graders there is Fishing Club on Mondays after school.  One week there is a meeting and the next week a fishing trip.  Some parents volunteer to drive and stick around to help, apparently.  I think I might be off the hook (hahaha) as Jeremiah is pretty sure he can ride with Ben's dad who we know from baseball.  Coach Todd is Ben's dad and a good guy.  Whew.

The sponsor of Fishing Club used to be Mr. Custer the Art teacher who had a reputation for not putting up with any bull-poopy from the students and who was said to wield a mean yardstick with which he would slap the table to get kids' attention.  I imagine the fish would just jump in his net on command.  Mr. Custer retired last year so this year Mrs. Ogdon is picking up the slack.  She is the Music Teacher Formerly Known as Miss Jones.  Last time I spoke with her, she said the kids were pretty much freaking out about her new name, especially the first graders, and telling her that Ogdon is the hardest name ever to pronounce.  Hmm.

Well, Mrs. O is petite, nice, and blonde.  Not your stereotypical fishing guide.  But I am sure she is great.  Anyone willing to spend extra unpaid time with a bunch of 9-11 year old boys and girls with worms and hooks gets an A+ in my book.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I Said No

Today I was asked to work extra.  I worked extra hours Friday and also ended up seeing a patient on Saturday, so I felt just fine saying No to today's request.  It's my day off.  My downstairs table and filing cabinet and bookshelves are lost under piles of things.  We are now required to have our "desk" at home, no space in our new office for anyone but bosses and secretaries.  The rest of us have what they are calling a Virtual Office.  Fancy techno-term for No Office For Peons.    My virtual office exists in the physical world here at home and is going to get organized today.  AND I have to finish some kind of online test today which is going to take me a while, for work, or I don't know what will happen. So I couldn't really see patients.  Also I would lose my mind if I had to do that too, so I said, No.

There is an art to saying no gracefully.  I am not particularly good at it.  I tend to do that overexplaining thing when I have to say no.  (See above overexplanation as example.)  Really, if I ask someone to do something and they can't, I would just prefer them to say No I'm Sorry I Can't.  And be done with it.

Yesterday I asked 3 people to do something for someone else.  One person joyfully said yes.  One person really wanted to and then realized they could not on the needed day but said "Keep me in mind for another time!"  And the third one acted very strange about it, overexplained, then walked away frowning.  I don't know why that person frowned.  Did they not liked being asked?  Did they just feel badly saying No?

I still love all three of those people.  It just reminds me to say No as joyfully as I say Yes.  Please keep that in mind the next time I offer you hummus!!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Zeppelins and Coconut Bras

Zeppelin is the word that Jeremiah used to Whip Mom's Big Butt in Scrabble yesterday.  I was winning something like 102 to 58.  He had skipped a couple turns to switch out letters, and I also had let him use a dictionary to help him.  (It's all about the learning and love of words.)  The next thing I know, he made the word Zeppelin.  He made the word Zeppelin over not just 1, but 2 Triple Word Squares, and then by using all seven tiles he also got 50 bonus points.  Zeppelin ended up being worth 216 points all by itself.  As soon as he heard that, his smile got very big, and the game was put away because as he just wanted to revel in the moment.  It was like a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth in game 7 of the World Series. 

Which I hope he will also accomplish someday.

I'm trying something with him called "Word of the Day."  He's to find a word in the dictionary that he thinks I won't know, then ask me, then tell me the definition.  Yesterday's word was zeppelin, which I knew, but that's okay.

The day before it was flume.

The day before I had just come up with the idea.  So, today I can't wait to see what word he finds.

While Jeremiah and I were playing Scrabble, Sierra was up in her room dressing up her poor stuffed puppy in drag:

Puppy is a boy.  I asked twice if Puppy was a boy or a girl since Puppy was made to wear a grass skirt and the construction paper version of a Coconut Bra.  No, Puppy is definitely a boy, said my daughter.  He is just wearing a costume.  Indeed!

Well, as a footnote, but not the least important bit of information in today's blog, I want to wish my dad Ted Tingley a Very Happy Birthday!  Indeed!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Do I Speak French?

Jeremiah asked me this morning if I speak French.  I said, "Un peu."  Then when I got to my computer to write my blog, Blogger was waiting for me in French.  Fortunately I figured out how to change it back to English so I could write an entry.  Because I should have said, "Un petit peu." when he asked me do I speak French. 

I remember a very little from Junior High and High School French.  I mostly remember I adored my French teachers and have run into both of them since moving back to Uppity Town Normal.  I saw Madame Gore nee Woods at a play at Heartland Community Theater and reconnected with her there.  She and my High School Chemistry teacher, Mr. Gore, moved to Florida a few years ago but still send me a card every year at Christmas.  And last year I found Madame Kalbacken, my very first French teacher at Chiddix, living at Luther Oaks Retirement Community where she writes children's books, in English I believe, that actually get published. 

While learning Spanish I used to complain that my old French was in the way, but really it served me well.  I had some idea how to conjugate verbs and the grammar of the two languages is, of course, almost identical.  And if I'd studied Spanish I wouldn't have met those two remarkable women. 

I do remember a few phrases in French that are useful.  One is "I don't speak French."  (Je ne parle pas francais.) and the other one is "Go to h*&%."  (Allez al enfer or something similar.) 

I'm sure neither of my teachers taught me that phrase.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I Give Up but then I Don't

I can't figure some things out.  Why does my son wake up at 4:20 a.m. famished one night and not another?  Why does my dog then need to go outside while it is pouring rain at 4:45 the same night when normally he also sleeps through the night?  Why does my alarm still go off faithfully at 6 a.m. every morning no matter what happened the night before?  Why do I get up to blog even when I'm tired and know I have a very busy day ahead?  Why is the sky blue?

Some of those questions have answers.  Some do not.  Mostly I have given up on worrying about them, but inquisitiveness persists even when fatigue has made itself at home. 

Why would someone take a wonderful idea like "let's have a panel discussion about the commonalities among Islam, Judaism, and Christianity" and turn it into an ego-fueled argument?  (Susan, I'm borrowing from your blog and paraphrasing, so any wrongly worded statements are My Own.)  I was really saddened by that news.  I felt, as I mentioned in comments to Susan's entry, mad then sad.  Later I opened up my copy of Saving Jesus from the Church, reading my assigned chapters for class Sunday, and I read the following:

Over a lifetime of ministry, I have come to believe one thing without reservation:  most of the dysfunctional things we do are compensatory.  Whether we realize it or not we are always trying to prove something to someone.   (p 112).

Reading that did help me understand better.  I don't envy Susan's task ahead of working with the aforementioned person.  But reading that made me think there might be hope that the panel can go on as planned.  I think it is a fantastic idea and response to what's been going on in the world these days.  Whether it goes off as planned or not, I am proud to come from a church community that reaches out to others in an act of ecumenism.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Kholestrol Festival

Today I have some very exciting news to report.  No, not really, just kidding.  I didn't buy an elephant and  World Peace still eludes us, though I was invited and accepted the invitation to send an email to BO and HC asking them to step up the "pressure" to keep Israel and Palestine at the peace talk table.

Yesterday I made a delicious quiche.  I almost didn't make it because of course the ingredients are 1. fat, 2. cholestrol, 3. more fat, 4. a couple little veggies thrown in to make it seem healthier, 5. extra cholestrol.  Put it in a pie crust (made with canola oil for a little less fat).  Bake. The veggies weren't even that fat-free except for the broccoli.  (I used a little sauteed onion, some artichoke hearts, black olives, and the aforementioned broccoli.)  

The crust was, dare I say it, perfect.

I fed this quiche, along with salad and some good french bread, to my friend Willemina, while we watched a terminally long movie called "I am Khan."  The movie was good, though too too long (2 hours and 41 minutes according to the label on the Netflix packet) and as W said, "over the top" at times.  Yes, I would agree.   It was also a visually beautiful film on timely topics including Autism, personal violence against Muslims in the US after 9-11, and helping our neighbors whoever they may be.  The acting was quite good as well.  So I guess it gets 1-and-a-half thumbs up more or less.

The quiche, however, gets a solid two thumbs up.

Next week I am getting my cholestrol checked so I will be NOT eating quiche or anything like it between now and then.  So if you are reading my blog just for the fat content, you can take the next 6 days off!  HA!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wish List

Today is "Elephant Appreciation Day."  I don't really know how to show appreciation for an elephant.   Fortunately I don't own one, so it shouldn't ruin my day.  Perhaps if I had an elephant I would feed it white chocolate today, since it is also White Chocolate Day. 

Clearly I have nothing interesting to blog about today.  I watched Parenthood last night while eating some homemade hummus, then fell asleep.  I slept in a bit this morning and soon I will be heading out for work. 

Boring, I know.  If only I had an elephant, then I would have something cool to blog about.  If I only had a brain, a heart, the nerve, an elephant! Or some ruby slippers. 

Jeremiah said the other day if I would get him an iPad he would never ask for anything again.  I said if I could have just one thing it would be to know that my kids will be happy when they are grown up.  The kids looked at me and said "Mom!  We ARE happy." 

Yesterday he asked for the iPad again.  This time I said I would like to have World Peace.  I said if he could make World Peace a reality I would get him an iPad.  I hope he's working on that. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Busy as a Bee

Tuesday is the 'New Monday' if you are in your 50's which are the 'New 30's' and don't have to work on the regular Monday each week.  But yesterday was a crazy hectic day for me in which I accomplished the following things:

Vacuuming my home and the inside of my car
Took in a carload of recycling
Picked up a prescription and got a few groceries
Had "lunch" with Miss Clairol
Got the oil changed in the car
Went to the dentist (no cavities!)
Volunteered at the kids' school library for a while in the afternoon.


Jeremiah has a big project due on Friday and we spent a lot of time working on that last night, too.  He has to create an Island Country complete with cities, landmarks, a map legend, a compass rose, and so on.  His country is called "Football Island."  We are having fun creating it, but it's more work than I thought it would be.  He named most of the cities and landmarks after players like "Drew Brees City" and "Fortetown" and "Romo River."  The finished product will probably be photographed and appear here on this very blog soon.
And by the way, the Bears are now 2-0 in regular season play!  HHAA!  Let's see what happens next Monday when they play the Packers.  If they win that game, I might be a believer. 

So, back to today...Toosdee..back to work.  I used to say, when the kids were littler, that I went to work to rest.  Today might feel like that as well!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dogs Driving

I woke up this morning from a dream in which I was having a little Irish temper tantrum about having had to drive in complete dark and being unable to see at all.  In the dream I had my lights on, but still could not see the road at all.  I somehow managed to arrive at my destination safely, but I was understandably upset about the whole experience.  At the end of the dream I was telling someone how awful and frightening it was. 

Then I tell that same person that even when the dog was driving earlier it was pretty dark.

O I love the weirdness of the dream state.

Well, onto other topics.

Today my coffee is so strong that I think I might levitate any minute now.  Francisco used to call my extra-strong coffee "Levanta Muertos" which means "Raise the Dead" but I think today's cup might be able to even raise the living.  Jesus Coffee House, are you interested?  (For my Tennessee readers, there is such a place in Bloomington.)  And interestingly, it's Organic Love Buzz coffee, too.  I think today's coffee might be that Fundamental Glue I've been looking for.  (Oops, preposition at end of sentence alert...get out those red pens y'all.)

O I love the weirdness of the waking state.

I think I'm about to be raised up to a new world record caffeine high and later will crash then get tired and cranky.  So if you want to ask me a favor today, you might want to call before 7:30 this morning.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Joe and Pontius, the Pilates Brothers

I was correct when I said I'd be paying $225 for the privilege of learning my abs are weak.  But because it cost a pretty penny, I found out that my Transverse Abdominus is weak, my Interior and Exterior Obliques are weak, my Rectus Abdominus is weak, and I verified what I already suspected about my Latissimus Dorsi which is that it is not weak but tight. 

My Gluteus Medius and Maximus are not tight.

My hamstrings are just downright lazy.

My lab partner and I were popping Advil by the end of the day to ensure we would be able to walk today.  (I can.)

The class probably will be more applicable to my own health and well-being than ideas I can use with my patients.  I have enough trouble getting my patients to breath in through their noses and out through their mouths without adding holding in their stomachs, keeping their lumbar spine in neutral, raising their legs up off the bed then trying a little sit-up.  HA.

I tried that yesterday. 

I found out that Pilates was founded by a German guy names Joe Pilates who was born in the 1880s.  He was living in England when WW1 broke out and was detained in a camp where he invented this exercise program when trying to help German soldiers who were injured and sent to the same camp.

I am glad to find out that Pilates was not invented by Pontius Pilate.

When I got home last night I had some hummus (pine nuts inside) and some calamata olives and some grapes.  Then I sat on the couch and watched the Cubs win again.  Ho hummus!  Today the announcers said they are going to play a lot of their minor league prospects together in the game.  That should be downright joyous, if they win.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Unconditional Chicagoland Suburbs

Yesterday on my mostly loving and uneventful drive to Chicagoland I stopped at the Ikea store in Bolingbrook.  It made me wish for lots of money to buy lots of beautiful furniture, but then I got control of my slobbering and headed down to "Marketplace" where there are small beautiful and fun affordable things to buy.  And buy a few I did.  I bought some cute little lamps, a shower curtain, a bathroom scale, some new wine glasses, and some special light bulbs to fit the cute little lamps. 

I paid in cash, which seemed to cause a flurry of anxiety among the employees at the checkout.  There are lanes which say "credit or debit only."  In fact most of the lanes said that.  So I got into a lane that did not say credit or debit only.  But after ringing up my purchases, the checkout gentleman said, "credit or debit?"  I said I would like to pay cash.  He had to call a manager.  I think they had to get some actual cash in the drawer to make change.  The process of counting out bills seemed to give my checkout gentleman a slight headache. 

I had wanted to stop by a Trader Joes while I was up in the area, too, but I ran out of time, shopping energy, and patience for driving in Chicagoland traffic.  Shortly after leaving Ikea a refrigerator box flew off the back of a pickup truck on I-355 but miraculously everyone behind him managed to stop without colliding with the box or with each other.  As I drove past in a different lane I saw the pickup truck driver gentleman running back toward the box.  I assume it didn't have a real refrigerator in it, but I didn't stick around to find out. 

I checked into my hotel which seems to be in an area of the suburbs where there are no stores or homes  It's on the west side of O'hare airport and the entire region appears to be filled with warehouses, businesses related to shipping and receiving, and truck parking lots.  Fortunately there is a restaurant in the hotel.  I ate at the bar and watched part of the Cubs game.  I enjoyed listening to a group of happy women seated at a table behind me, their laughter filling the room.

I headed back up to my room and watched the rest of the game, except for a short nap in the 7th and 8th innings.  When I awoke, the Cubs were still up 2-0 going in to the bottom of the ninth.  The Marlins had 2 on with 2 outs when one of their players hit a ball toward left field.  It looked like it would drop into a hole between Ramirez at 3rd, Soriano in left, and Starlin Castro (the youngest player right now in Major League Baseball at 20) at shortstop.  But out of nowhere came Castro, literally flying like superkid, and he caught the ball to end the game.  He got so excited that he ran over to Aramis Ramirez and hugged him.  It made me laugh with joy to see the joy he still experiences playing the game.  I will trade any big name star who seems bored with baseball for a bunch of young players who still have that love for the game when I'm manager.  Next Year!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Fundamental Glue

I just read a brief interview with Jessica Maxwell on a blog by Susan Baller-Shephard that some of you also follow.  There was one quote I wanted to share with those of you who don't:

"the fundamental glue of the universe is, in fact, love...or a force for whose magnificence we have no word full enough."

My first years in Sunday School I had two "old lady" teachers.  I have no idea how old Miss Heller and Miss Cox were, but they seemed really old to me at the time.  I remember the first two verses they taught us to recite.  Love One Another and God is Love.

Many times I have thought perhaps we should have just stopped there.  

In my Sunday morning group that is reading and discussing Saving Jesus from the Church we wondered aloud last week what kind of God was Jesus trying to reveal.  The answer that resonated most with me was God as Unconditional Love. 

This sounds simple but living it is not.  Today I will be trying to love unconditionally while driving in Chicagoland traffic.  I can see the challenges in that situation before they arise.  There will be others, though, that I can't anticipate.  I will fail.  But I will get back on the horse and ride again.  I think I'm going to start carrying a little glue stick with me wherever I go, just as a reminder.  Prayer beads for some, Elmers for me!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Warning:  This blog posting contains the V word.

On Tuesday night I tried to watch the season two premiere episode of Parenthood.  But about 15 minutes into the show true parenthood called and I had to turn the TV off and attend to one of my children.  Funny how that happened. 

At the beginning of the episode, a little girl who is about five is at the playground with her parents sitting on the sides watching her play.  She runs over to them and asks, "Did I come from a vagina?"

The dad flips out, the mom plays it cool and answers Yes, yes you did.  Then she asks if her mom came from a vagina?  Dad says "ice cream would be really good right now." and the girl ignores him and her mom answers the question, again with a yes.  Then she asks her dad the same question.  Finally he gives in and says Yes. 

The little girl says "WOW!  Our whole family came from vaginas!"  Then she runs back to the playground yelling that information at the top of her lungs to her playmate who, one assumes, started this line in inquiry in the first place. 
The mom looks after her and says "She is so smart." 

I loved that scene.  But probably I loved it because my kids don't seem to know that word yet.  I guess they aren't quite so "smart."  They seem to know the names of the private parts that are visible.  Those would be the Boy Parts.   But they don't seem to know the names of the private parts that are not visible.  Those would be the Girl Parts.  Hmm.  Well, that will change in due time.  And about the same time we will find the alligator in that darned Cialys commerical. 

One of my patients referred to hers the other day as "Where We Keep The Good China."  I thought I would die laughing but somehow I managed to live to tell the story. 

I did get to see the rest of the episode last night while the kids were at their dad's, by watching it on NBC.com.  I am completely hooked on Parenthood.  And Phonics!  And hummus, of course.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Late Start

Today is the first of ten "Late Start" days for Unit 5 school district.  The kids don't have to be at school until 9:30 today.  Usually they are at their dad's house on Wednesday mornings, but they stayed with me last night so that their dad could work late to make one of his clients extra happy.  The joys of being self-employed.

I like this Late Start thing.  It means we all get to laze around an extra hour, kind of like when the clock changes back in the fall and we get an extra hour of sleep.  Well, you get an extra hour of sleep if your kids or dog or circadian rhythms don't wake you up at the usual time, that is.

Today I hit the snooze at 6 a.m. and slept a bit later, too.  It is almost 7 a.m., and I'm usually getting ready to hop in the shower then wake the kids about now.  But instead I'm sitting on my happy behind and blogging.  Wolf is snoring on the couch next to me.  He will wake up as soon as he thinks there is even half a chance that someone will take him around the block.  Sierra has been taking him on her scooter, trying to get him to pull her like a sled dog.  I'm not sure what happens when he stops to pee, but so far she has not reported flying off the scooter from sudden stops.  I think she has the situation under control.

She is wearing the "just in case he poops" plastic bag accessory like a backpack.  We did have the conversation about not wearing it like that if she had to use it to pick up the poop.  "Yes, Mom, I know!"

At the other end of the workday spectrum, yesterday I had an Early Finish.  My last patient of the day cancelled her appointment when it was too late to fill the spot.  Bless her heart!  I came home and took a nap for about an hour.  Woke up hungry.  I ate some lunch, then rearranged a few pieces of furniture to accomodate the little bookcase that Mom and Dad brought me.  (It used to be mine, they bought it from me several years back, then gave it to me for free this weekend.  What a good deal that turned out to be for me.  I wonder if they want to "buy" any more of my furniture?  I'd be glad to sell them some, just in the tradition of Helping Them.)

I moved the other not-so-nice bookcase into the kitchen, covered the top of it with a pretty scarf,  moved the crappy plastic shelves I had in that spot downstairs to the "office" corner of the family room, and voila! everthing looks great. 

Or better, anyway.

Architectural Digest will not be out anytime soon, though.

So, this week I also get an Early Finish as I am taking Friday off work.  About mid-day I will head to Elk Grove Village and stay at the very posh Holiday Inn that night.  On Saturday I will take a class on Pilates for PTs at the very same posh Holiday Inn.  That means I will be spending the day finding out how my abs are completely out of shape.  I will be paying $225 for this privilege. (Ok, I need the class to keep my PT license.)  I think when the day is over, I will be in desparate need of a big plate of hummus. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cancer Center Monday

One Monday morning each month I teach a class at the Community Cancer Center to women (usually) who have breast cancer.  The topic is Lymphedema Prevention.  But we get onto other topics as well.  Yesterday we had a group discussion about whether it is less irritating to shave your armpits with a straight razor or an electric razor.  Answer:  less irritating not to shave at all.   But not shaving is not an option for most of us. 

One of the highlights of the class is when I pass around a medical illustration of the lymphatic system, which happens to be a drawing of a naked man.  It is not exactly a complete naked man.  He is missing his feet.  But no one has ever commented on that aspect of the diagram.  No, the comments are usually something like:

"I thought it would be bigger."

"I haven't seen a naked man in 17 years!"  (This from a 90 year old who resides in a nursing home.)


Sometimes there is a particularly sad situation, such as the woman who had breast cancer at the same time her husband was battling pancreatic cancer.  They were both in their 40's.  Two young kids.    Or the woman whose insurance covered her surgery then refused to pay for chemotherapy.  Life can be damned unfair sometimes.  That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. 

I have women come through the class who have had breast cancer 10 or 15 years ago on one side, then develop it on the other side after all that time.  I have young women, women who are older and haven't seen a naked man in years, women in between, short women, tall women, skinny women, chubby women, married, single, mothers, grandmothers, brown-skinned women, pale-as-the-moon women, nurses, accountants, social workers, stay-at-homers, realtors, lawyers, and lots of retirees.

The one thing they have in common?  They are all beautiful!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fish Tales

Sunday afternoon Jeremiah, Sierra, Grandad Smoky, Francisco and I headed out to the Bait Shop and then to Miller Park.  Grandad showed the kids how to put the worms on the hooks and the fishing began.  Jeremiah caught a fish within a few minutes!

Sierra caught one right after that.

Jeremiah caught a second fish, then we fished another hour with not even one nibble.  That seemed like a very successful fishing trip to me.  Nothing big enough to consider keeping, more adults than children present, and I got to take pictures so I didn't actually have to touch any worms or fish.

Later I grilled salmon which Grandma wrestled into her shopping cart at Jewel all by herself, using only a credit card to secure them.  They were delicious!  I think I like Grandma's method of getting fish for dinner best.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Small Town Parade with Big Heart

The Ipava Homecoming and Camp Ellis Days Parade was a hit with my kids.  You would think that VFW marching color guards, little high school bands, fire trucks, and tractors might bore them.  Au contraire!  They loved every minute of it.  The final word yesterday was "Can we come to this parade every year?" 

The fact that they collected about 8 pounds of candy being thrown from the aforementioned trucks and tractors was probably only a small factor in that wish. 

Jeremiah's pockets came in handy for collecting it!  Someone commented that it looked like his pants might fall down from the weight of his collection.

Just a small sample of the booty!

The candy is now locked up in my house somewhere, to be used for giving out on Halloween.  (HAHAHahah.a.ha..)

As far as I'm aware no crimes were committed by any of my family members or their friends.  I did mention there were members of the military with weapons, which may have deterred any misbehavior.  And a military plane which flew over also worked as a reminder that the brig might still be open over at the camp. 

 Of course the kids and I left in the early afternoon and I don't know yet WHAT might have transpired later. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Return to Camp Ellis

Saturday's posting a little early.  Because Saturday, come early mornin', I'll be getting ready for another Road Trip!

For those of you who have been reading my blog for quite some time, thank you.  And those among you may recall my mother, her friends, and my dad dragging me into a life of crime back in the spring, in a place between the small towns of Ipava and Bernadotte, Illinois.  The area that was once Camp Ellis.  There was driving on closed roads, ignoring traffic signs and laws, some level of weird trespassing, and Lord Knows what other commandments were broken that day.

If you haven't read those reports on that Day of Infamy please see Road Trip and End of the Road.

So tomorrow I return, with my own children, to the Scene of the Crime.  It's the Weekend of Camp Ellis Days!  There is supposed to be a parade.  Then we are going out to lunch with the family criminals, friends, and some of my cousins.  Who knows what other exciting activities will ensue.  I will be taking my camera as well as my children.  And plenty of cash, you know, in case we need money for bail.  Because I can't spend the night in the Fulton County Jail (also mentioned in prior blog Road Trip) because I have to teach Sunday School at NCC on Sunday morning.  And what kind of example would THAT set for my students? 

Susan:  Kids, we are sorry to report that Kim, Jeremiah and Sierra will not be here today.

Kids:  Aw, jeez, are they in jail AGAIN?

Susan:  Well, now, we aren't sure about that.  Let's not jump to conclusions.  Remember Jesus said, ... um...Forgive Kim because...um... the Sins of the Fathers..um, you know...

Kids:  Yeah, okay Susan.

Heaven forbid!

Well, there will be a blog about the events of tomorrow come Sunday, so stay tuned.  Who knows what will happen over in the Wild West of Illinois!!!

Famous Georges

There is George Washington:

(Nice blush, GW!)

There is George Clooney:

(Oops sorry Susan, let me try that again.)


There, that's better.  Whew!

There is George "Dubya" Bush:

and his poppa:

George Carlin not saying any of the words you once could not say on television:

In fact, not saying anything at all.

There are many many famous Georges.  But here is one I bet you've never met before.

This is George Buddha.  He was given his name by Sierra a few years ago, back when Dubya was President of the US and she couldn't quite differentiate between Bush and Buddha.  Buddha was out in the garden, as he is most of the summer.  She asked "who is that" and I said, "it's the Buddha."  Later she asked "Why is George Buddha in the garden?"

Well, better George Buddha than:

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Phamous Phone Calls

I am so happy to report to my friends and family that read my blog that yesterday the Bloomington Pantagraph ran a Letter to the Editor written by several members of our congregation who are clergy...Susan and Bob Ryder, Jim Turner, Jim Pruyne, and others.  (I mention those names as they were most active in the writing and coincidentally my mom knows all of them!!!)  The letter is a response to the anti-Islamic sentiment currently being voiced the US.  It is a wonderful letter and you can read it on Susan's blog. 

AND when you go to Susan's blog to read her letter, you will find much to your amazement that Senator Dick Durbin read the letter and then CALLED our little church office at NCC to thank and congratulate us on being a voice of reason and compassion in this crazy world.  Susan missed his call by 10 minutes but was able to save his voice message and play it over and over for us at book group last night, which was great fun.  She also transcribed the voice message on her blog so you can read that too.  And a funny imaginary conversation that Susan might have had with Senator Durbin if she had been there to answer the phone. 

Here is a link to her blog     Dog is my Co-Pilot

I wonder who will call today? 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Minutes of the Meeting

Yesterday morning everything that could have gone awry seemed to do just that.  The kids were fighting with each other to a degree that gave me a headache and caused them to lose 2 of their most prized privileges for the day.  Work brought it's own headaches as well. 

BUT the weather was stunning.  I finished work on time by some act of Divine Providence.  And so I got to relax a little in the afternoon.  I decided I would pick up the kids a little early, before they headed over to their dad's house, and we could have a little Family Meeting about the problems of the morning. 

The meeting went well.  I baked chocolate chip cookies for the meeting.  The kids sat and we outlined three concerns for each child.  I asked them to make suggestions and they did, and they agreed between themselves on some compromises.  All went very well.  Sierra then said she would like to make some notes in her notebook. 

One of the issues we have been working on is that Sierra tends to scream when Jeremiah does something to bother her.  Just to give you an idea, yesterday morning she screamed as if the Loch Ness monster had risen from the kitchen sink.  But no, it was just her brother chewing with his mouth open to bug her.  So I asked Sierra at the meeting if she would please refrain from screaming unless she is hurt so that when I hear her scream I will know she needs me to come and help her.

Later after she left, I happened to glance at the notebook in which she had written:

Don't skrim unless you are bliding.

Ok.  Well then.  I can see we need to work on spelling as well. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


September is quite a holiday-filled month according to the website I use to fill my blog-idea bank when the deposits are running low.  There are lots of choices, but today I am picking two that caught my attention above all others.

One is Women's Friendship Month.  Where would I be without my homegirls?  My gosh, I can only imagine.  If not for Kathleen I still might be sitting in Chicago in that coffeeshop in Andersonville crying.  It was her 3 little words that woke me up:  Move to Normal!  Also the countless other times you have saved my ass emotionally.  And made me think.  And made me laugh.  And to infinity and beyond!

Susan, my spiritual advisor.  Okay, that's an exaggeration.  My book-club-forming, red-wine-drinking, fun-loving, amazingly intelligent and humorous and compassionate-in-her-own-way kind of gal, also my pastor.  I heart your retreats, and your reflections, and all the times I get to come to your house and hang out.  And I heart that you have brought me two other female friends:  P-Dub and Janet.

Sisters Connie and Jill (no they are not nuns, they are my real sisters) are my amigas fabulosas.  Different in many ways that I love them for, but we share that weird growing-up-with-Ted-and-Ellen sense of humor.  Like what breasts are REALLY called.  (Shhh...it's a family secret, girls!)  Jill shows me resilience like no one else ever has.  And Connie has been making me laugh since she was two years old and would drink juice then say "ahhh, good beer." 

Well, this list could go on and on.  And it will:

Jeannie, you know.  I don't have to say anymore.  Aniko.  Feli.  Jodi.  Rosita (who won't be reading this 'cause it's in English.)

Mom, I love it that you are my friend as well as my momma.  And I am so glad you are moving back to Normal so I can see you more!  Now I can finally have someone to act out Yogi  Bear and Booboo skits with again.  

Well, if I have forgotten anyone, just remember that I'm gettin' older, and it's danged early in the morning.  Feel free to comment if you think I have overlooked someone!  There are others but if they don't read my blog they might not get mentioned.  HA!

Wait, did I say there was another holiday in September worth mentioning?  I changed my mind.  Maybe another day. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Weldon Springs

Sunday afternoon Sierra, Jeremiah, Francisco and I headed to Weldon Springs State Recreation Area (didn't it used to be a State Park before Illinois became broke?) for a hike. But when we got there, Sierra fell down in the first 50 feet of hiking and cut her knee and had a meltdown to end all hiking meltdowns and so she and Francisco stayed to watch some people fish while Jeremiah and I walked around the lake looking for the allegedly migrating masses of hummingbirds.

After one hour of hiking Jeremiah thought he might possibly have seen one hummingbird and I saw zero. But we did see loads of beautiful butterflies and had a nice mother-son hike where we talked about such interesting topics as snakes, lizards, and fishing. No alligators were mentioned.

When we came back to the area where we left Sierra and Francisco, they were being given a broken fishing pole and some bait by a guy who felt sorry for them because Sierra wanted to fish and was building her own pole out of sticks. Jeremiah and Sierra fished with the broken fishing pole and some worms, and didn't catch anything. Thank goodness. But a woman nearby caught a tiny little fish and let Sierra throw it back.

The kids are really hoping Grandad will be taking them fishing next Sunday afternoon.  Kim and Francisco want to know if they should buy some cheap fishing poles for the kids or will Grandad bring one with him or should we pray for rain and discourage the whole endeavor.  Extra adults will be available to help Grandad on the alleged fishing trip.  But no adults who actually know how to fish.   Comments welcome! 

Last night the kids, Wolf, and I slept out in the tent in the backyard.  A nice way to celebrate what seems to be considered the end of summer, Labor Day weekend.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

No No No

I was doing a little catching up on Facebook yesterday.  I only go on FB about once a week now, and I find I'm really out of the loop for the most part.  I don't seem to have the desire to log into it daily anymore, nor have I completely given up on it.  While I was on FB, I read a posting and about 15 comments regarding a woman who was debating whether to allow children to attend her wedding reception or not. 

My first reaction was Of Course children should be allowed at the reception.  They are usually the Life Of the Party!  But some of the comments made me realize that it was a reception with a big fancy sit-down dinner and the expense of having kids there was an issue.  So I lightened up a little bit.  I decided to think of other things you could put on the invitation in addition to "No Children, Please."

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service!
No Tea Party Members, please.
No Hummus. 

Wait, what?  I wouldn't go to a wedding reception where I had to wear shoes!

Well, just to put the exclamation point on my decision to lighten up, there was one child this morning who woke another child up.  That child whined until she decided to take matters into her own hands. She punched the other child in the arm until he cried.  I discovered a big bruise there that needed ice.  The child that was hurt then composed a song that he sang loudly to the tune of God Bless America, with lyrics that began "I Hate Sierra" and went on from there.

So, sure, no kids. Ok.  I get it.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Different Kind of Girls Night In

Last night Jeremiah spent the night with his dad so he could watch a movie he's been wanting to see that's on a Cable channel I don't get at my house.  Sierra opted to hang out with me for some quality girl time.  I admit I enjoyed the quality no-sibling-rivalry time.  She and I rented a movie.  I let her choose and she selected "Loony Tunes Back in Action"...not exactly a chick flick but like I said, there was no arguing about what movie we would watch which meant I would have watched almost anything Sierra picked out for us.

Popcorn, PJs, sofabed, movie, and then later a little music, dancing in the living room, and as a special treat Sammy the Skunk played some mean air guitar for us.  That skunk has really got the moves.

We made plans for this morning (when the girl wakes up...it's still early).  Breakfast out, then the Farmer's Market and maybe some garage sales.

I can't wait to hear what the boys did!

Friday, September 3, 2010


I volunteered to give the opening reflection at our church steering committee next week, like a little short prayer thingy to get us started.  I have some experience writing prayers, as my parents can tell you.  When asked to say grace at a young age, I usually said God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for this food, Amen.   But one night the creative spark awoke in my four year old heart and I bowed my head and said...

Dear God, thank you for this food that I know I'm not going to like but I know I'm going to have to eat it anyway.

I'm not sure if I said Amen at the end or not.  Ted and Ellen may be able to offer some historical perspective on that.

Well, since then I've had prayers of all kinds that I've composed, usually silently but not always.


Dear God!  WHAT was I thinking?

God please let the Cubs win the World Series, or if that can't happen please let Barack be elected president.  (that one from 2008)...since then...

Dear God, sorry if I am starting to sound greedy but I found out in 2008 that if I ask for 2 things I can usually get one of them...

God don't you dare let a tornado hit the ground here while I am driving in a tiny car with 2 kids in the back seat.  You get us home Safely, you hear me!

(Sometimes a direct tone is best.)

God please send me to my room for 10 minutes of peace and quiet.

There are others but I don't want you to get the idea that I'm really all pious-y or anything. 
So, for the Steering Committee next week, I'm thinking something like this:

Dear God, please let this meeting be short and to the point.  If you can make this happen, some of us are planning to go to the Medici afterwards and toast your greatness with wine and artichoke dip.  Amen.

How's that sound?  Ok, maybe I'd better find something else to read by a real spiritual writer/thinker/be-er...oops, not a spiritual beer, a spiritual being.  Like Karen Armstrong, or maybe Bill Cosby.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My One True Love

I overslept again.  This time because I woke up at 4:53 a.m. with a horrendous headache.  I took some tylenol and went back to bed with an ice pack on my head.  Couldn't get to sleep until my alarm went off at 6 a.m.  I turned it off then miraculously I fell asleep.  Until 7:45.  Shoot!  I got up and made coffee (job #1) and fired up the little ol' work computer.  Got today's schedule.  First patient I was supposed to see doesn't want anyone to come until 10:30.  Hallelujah!  There is a God.  So now I have relaxed, finished the coffee, and become somewhat more awake than asleep.

I was also cold when I woke up.  That was a wonderful sensation.  I immediately began to think of the sweatpants and sweatshirts I have missed wearing during this hot hot hot summer. The cool fall days.  I love Fall.  I want to marry Fall I love it so much.  Can I do that?  I would wear my grey baggy sweatpants and U of I sweatshirt for the ceremony.  I am very committed to Fall.  It's just that Fall leaves ME every year about November.  I wait faithfully for it to return, and it always shows up again.  I always welcome it with open arms.  I never ask where or with whom it has been.  I just adore the fact that it always always comes home to me. 

Sure I enjoy the first snow of winter, the new blooms of spring, summer's garden bounty.  But when I saw the neighbor's maple tree had 2 red leaves the other day, my heart leapt and I knew it wouldn't be long until my favorite season would really and truly be back.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It's Pouring

I overslept a bit because it was still dark at 6 a.m. today, in part because of the clouds that are delivering some much-needed rain.  I opened the back door a few minutes ago to let Wolf out, but when he saw how hard it was raining, he backed off.  Then he turned around and gave me a strange look as if to say, "Why did you make it do THAT outside?"   Ha!  My dog thinks I control the weather. 

***after a short break to get ready for work***

It's no longer pouring.  Wolf has been for a walk.  I am wondering what else he thinks I can do?  Sometimes the kids refer to me as the Alpha Dog, but I told them I prefer a much simpler title...Alpha Mom.  Yup, that's me.

Well, I have to be at work early today so blog will be short.  I am not an Alpha-Anything at work, just one of the Pee-ons.  Thank goodness my dog doesn't know about that.