Archive for August, 2008

This is my 500th post.  I know I’ve written over 500, having deleted a few posts from the archives over the years, but as of today I now have 500 and I want to celebrate.  For the first time ever, I’m going to host a giveaway.  Weeeee!

Back in February I posted a meme here that listed the first 10 songs that popped up on my iPod when I set it to shuffle.  This resulted in an admission that my taste in music is eclectic at best and that I would love to be introduced to some new artists.

I’ve been looking at several music related social networks out there and happened upon Simplify Media, a peer-to-peer music program that allows you to listen to your friends’ (or your own) entire music library over the internet.  The service is free, but there are some limitations.  While you can listen to your friends’ songs, you can’t download them.  You also can’t play any songs your friends have downloaded from iTunes or any other files with DRM limitations attached.  Anything that has been ripped from a CD is fair game, and my available library currently stands at over 2200 tracks.

Here’s the part where I start to sound like a dirty slut.  I’d love to hook up with you if you’re interested in hooking up with me.  If you want access to several Baby Einstein CDs and more John Williams soundtracks than you can shake a stick at, simply download the software from the Simplify Media website, create an account and drop me an email with your user name via the “Contact Me’ tab on this blog.  I’ll show you mine if you show me yours, though Simplify Media will only allow me to whore my music out to 30 friends total.  Somehow I don’t think that will be a problem.

And here’s the part where I offer to give stuff away.  To celebrate my 500th post and my quest for musical enlightenment, I’m offering one lucky reader a $20 gift card to either the iTunes store or Amazon.com.  Did you know you can download DRM-free music at Amazon?  Well, you do now.

In order to be eligible for the gift card, all I ask is that you leave a comment here between now and Sunday evening August 31st at 5:00pm.  You don’t need to Digg this or Stumble it or Kirtsy it or even link back here to bump up my Technorati rating.  Just post a comment with the name of the last song you either heard or sang along to that day.  You can comment more than once, but please limit your comments to one per day.  So wrote the woman who just listened to “Stairway to Heaven” and is working her way through “Lady Madonna.”

The winner will be chosen at random Sunday evening after 5:00 pm and will be posted here next Monday with the gift certificate of choice being delivered by email shortly after.

Good luck, everyone.  Happy listening.

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Guilt and little white lies

Today I sent a sick kid to daycare.  Autumn had a fever that spiked at 103.5 at about 1:30 this morning.  She had been sick most of yesterday and was very listless throughout the day.  For the first time ever, my child was able to tell me she was sick when she actually was sick.  Most of the time she tells me she doesn’t feel well after she puts us through a wicked tantrum and has expelled all her energy by making us miserable for several minutes.

She seemed better this morning.  I took her temperature twice and she was back down to normal, but she obviously was not herself.  She didn’t want to watch “The Wiggles” and didn’t put up a fuss or kick her legs as I tried to get her dressed.  All she wanted to do was lie down on our bed.  It really was quite pathetic, but as I stood over my daughter looking so worn out, I couldn’t resist using the moment to my advantage.  I put my hands on my hips and looked at her sternly.  “See what happens when you eat your boogers?  Didn’t Mommy say you’d get sick?”  And Mommy did say that.  Mommy said that just yesterday before the child got sick.

I decided  to send her to daycare because today is the first day of classes at the university, and if there’s one day I really shouldn’t miss it’s this one.  As we pulled into the driveway at daycare, Autumn’s weak voice piped up from the back seat.  “You have to tell C- I’m not feeling well,”  she said, perhaps afraid she wouldn’t get the same amount of sympathetic kisses as she would at home.  Broke. My. Heart.

I told C- to call me if she thinks Autumn should go home.  I’m kind of hoping she does call because I really think my little girl needs her mom right now.

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Today I’ve decided to let go of something that has been bothering me for months.

Letting go means coming to terms with what has passed and accepting that whatever is broken will remain so.  At least in this case.

I used to be friends with a group of women, but because of some things that were said and written and implied through things that weren’t said, we’ve become estranged.  They are still friends with each other but none of them are friends with me.  Looking back on the relationship I had with them, I don’t know if I was ever really a part of their circle, but whatever may have been has now been replaced with me being the odd man out and the reviled party in this whole mess.

No one is perfect.  I’m fabulously imperfect and will be the first to admit it.  I’m also not averse to admitting when I’m wrong.  I was wrong, but I wasn’t 100% culpable.

By now you’re probably thinking I’m breaking one of my blogging rules by posting my feelings about this here.  I wouldn’t go so far as saying I’m breaking a rule so much as bending it.  Also?  I really have no idea if any of them still read this and I’m not writing for them.  I’m writing for me.

Losing them hurt, but what hurt more was realizing they are perfectly fine without me.  They have no interest in fixing what is broken or acknowledging my attempts to reach out to them.  I had a hard time accepting that, but I’m ready to move on now.

I like to hold on to things.  I’ve held onto this hurt for awhile, but I’m done feeling like this was all my fault.

And just in case one of them is reading, I do have a few things to share:

You all were the first people other than my immediate family to know I was pregnant.

I spoke up for you when there was talk of you being fired before your probation was over.

I cared enough to create a beautiful afghan for your daughter and even let you pick out the colors.

I confided in you.

I cried when you transferred to another office.

I wanted so much for you to be able to have a child of your own.

I had balls when you had none and fought for you when you weren’t willing to speak up for yourself.

I cared for you all but I’m done.  It has become clear that I am not missed and I am no longer going to waste my time missing you.

Comments are closed on this one, folks.  Thank you for indulging me.  We’ll conintue with our regular schedule of levity and sarcasm after the weekend.

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Serendipity at the public library

Last night Nathan and I took Autumn to our local library in an effort to get one TV-free evening.  That child watches way too much television.  Just this past week we found out she knows who Hannah Montana is and that show is never on in our house.  Nathan dislikes any show with overly dramatic pre-teens, though “iCarly” is starting to grow on him.

We first checked out the section of used books for sale.  Autumn sat down on the floor and proceeded to go through the pile of children’s books much like she does her own books at home, which entails looking for something interesting and tossng the rest over her shoulder.

In the children’s section of the library she showed little interest in the books.  Instead, she hung out by the sofas and played with the various puzzles and toys spread across the tables.  Also sitting on the sofas were a woman and her son.  The son, whose name we learned was Christopher, had Down Syndrome.  His mother was a beautiful blonde with sun-bronzed skin and an Eastern European accent.  I wanted to ask her where she was from, but I always feel like such a dork when I ask questions like that since I’m about the most boring person you could ever encounter in a library.

Christopher’s mother and I sat on the sofas and chatted while Nathan searched for books for Autumn.  Once in awhile there would be a little interaction between Autumn and Christoper, but for the most part they each did their own thing.  At one point Christopher got down on the floor and crawled over to Autumn and patted her on the leg.  Autumn recoiled a bit.  Apparently the girl takes after her mother and does not like to be pawed by the opposite sex.  Christopher’s mother (whose name I never learned) assured Autumn that Christopher was only trying to show affection.

We found out Christopher is just a week older than Autumn.  Because of his developmental delays, he looks and acts like a much younger child, but I thought it was kind of neat that these two kids who were born only a few days apart somehow found each other in the library.  I also thought it was kind of cool that his mom and I were pregnant at the same time.  From the looks of it, her body has recovered much better than mine has.

Eventually a little girl and her father entered the children’s section.  The girl, who we learned was named Alisa, gravitated towards Autumn and the two concentrated on a puzzle while her dad sat down and chatted with us.  He was braver than I and asked Christopher’s mother where she was from because his wife is from Moscow.  As it turns out, Christopher’s mother is also from Russia and learned English by working at Marshall Field’s.

Here’s where the coincedences continue.  While a year older, Alisa’s birthay is a week after Autumn’s and her mother’s birthday is also in November (like mine).  Not only that, but her father is a faculty member at the university where I work and go to school.  Christopher’s grandmother, who joined our party after checking out her books, revealed that she, too, had worked at the university long ago when the entire student body consisted of fewer people than we now see in our freshman class alone.

Having no ties to Russia or the university, Nathan felt a little left out of the conversation, but after we left the library I tried to impress upon him the wonder of what had happened.  Three families, all with very diverse backgrounds, somehow happened upon each other by accident only to find out we actually have a lot in common.  I like how the world works sometimes and how these connections, however temporary, can feel so magical.

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Super spy

I’ve been setting my alarm for 5:30 am in an attempt at getting to work on time.  What has actually been happening is that I hit the snooze button for an hour and still wind up plopping my butt down at my desk the usual 2-3 minutes past 8:00.

What amazes me about the snooze time is that so much can happen in those magical nine minutes before the alarm goes off again.  I can actually get back into a deep sleep and let my imagination run amok.  In just nine minutes, I somehow manage to insert myself into a number of wacky scenarios in which I would never find myself during waking hours.

Just this morning I had a short dream in which I was a spy.  I had a rendezvous with Sydney Bristow from “Alias” and she was a bit miffed with me for being late (obviously a little real life inserting itself here).  She asked me to follow her into a building and of course we didn’t use doors or stairs because no one on “Alias” enters a building in a conventional way.  Sydney leaped through an open window and I stared in horror as she fell several stories before a harness, which I didn’t even realize she was wearing, caught her fall.

She somehow managed to return the harness to me, and as I looked at it I realized what she was asking me to do.  “Um, yeah.  You wouldn’t happen to know the tensile strength of this thing, would you?” I asked.

It would seem that I can’t even have a fun dream without bringing my baggage along for the ride.  Or maybe being fat is such a part of my identity now that it’s impossible for me to imagine myself in any other way.  Whatever the case, you won’t see me donning a leather catsuit and red wig anytime soon.

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Yesterday I had an appointment at the wellness center on campus to go over the results of the fitness test I took a couple of weeks ago.  The test measured things like body composition, grip, reach, lung capacity and a few other things.

It was no surprise that my body fat percentage was in the undesirable range or that my reach puts me in the “at risk” category (I can only bend over and reach so far before I hit the wall-the wall being my belly), but I was quite surprised at finding myself “fit” when it came to the amount of crunches I completed in a minute and the number of times I was able to bench press 35 pounds.

I jokingly commented that their standards must be very low because I am in no way fit, but it would seem my upper body gets a regular workout from being required to pick up a 36- pound toddler.  I routinely wrestle with Autumn in the morning to get her dressed, pick her up to get hugs and kisses and put her into and pull her out of the car seat.  I’m becoming buff without even realizing it.

Now if the bottom half of my body could just catch up, I’d be all set.

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Kudos and confessions

I’ve been nominated for another award!  It would seem Colleen over at Mommy Always Wins and Krista over at Welcome to Married Life are of a like mind and have both nominated me for this award:

Thank you, ladies!  I am very honored that you both thought of me!

So now that I am tasked with passing this on, I have to confess that I’m a horrible lurker when it comes to reading other blogs.  I don’t comment nearly as much as I should.  I know, bad blogger!

That being said, I don’t know if I will be able to come up with seven other bloggers who would know me enough to want to accept an award from me.  So, instead of following the rules and passing this on to seven other people, I’m going to cop out and list seven blogs I’ve discovered within the past month and have enjoyed immensely:

  1. How To Party With An Infant-the first post I read here was “Why Can’t Men Say, ‘Ow'” and have been hooked since.  Kaui has a wicked sense of humor and I have no idea why more people aren’t reading her.
  2. Ring Leader-fellow Michigander Jennifer has a lot going on with being a mortician’s wife, student and mother of four.  Another woman with a great sense of humor.  Am I starting to sound like I’m trying to hook you up with these ladies?  Because I am.
  3. Moody Tunes-Alex is a former IT guy who is giving up the tech life to pursue an MFA in creative writing.  To say I envy his bravery is an understatement.  I’m very much looking forward to reading more from him.  Please, go read him.  You can start with “Ghosts At The Mall” and go from there.  He’s great.
  4. Moosh In Indy-Casey was one of the participants in the Community Keynote that opened BlogHer this year.  She read a very moving post called “The One About The Overdose”, the video of which you can see here.  She’s a great writer, fabulous photographer and has the most adorable little girl.  Seriously, you could die from so much cuteness.
  5. 6 Year Med-I had to sneak Danielle’s blog in here because I often find myself wondering how a person who writes so eloquently could also be a doctor.  I actually started reading this blog in the spring when Danielle was finishing up med school.  She’s now an intern in a pediatric ward and writes unbelievably funny and sometimes heartbreaking posts.  Go read “Held” and tell me she’s not brilliant.
  6. Next Door 2 My Ex-yes, the author of this blog lives right next door to her ex husband.  Read “Welcome to the Twilight Zone” to find out how this all came about.  I believe this would fall under the “truth is sometimes stranger than fiction” category.
  7. Nitro Vista-I like this blog for it’s honesty and humor.  Written from WAHD (Work At Home Dad), it’s another wicked funny blog from a guy who’s just trying to maintain his sanity during summer vacation.

With the exception of Danielle’s blog, I really have only been reading these folks for about a month.  I found them in one of two ways; they were either featured in Blog Nosh Magazine or are members of Entrecard.  Both Blog Nosh and Entrecard are great ways to be introduced to new bloggers and gain exposure yourself.  Check them out!

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Science sucks, y’all.  Do you want to know why?  Because it took me three weeks to lose seven pounds and only two weeks to put them back on.  How effed up is that?

I realize I shouldn’t be that indignant considering how I’ve been a complete glutton these past two weeks, but seven pounds?  SEVEN?  I thought the bike ride around Mackinac Island might have canceled out the pizza or the fudge, but it seems as though every calorie I’ve consumed is clinging to me like a sweaty t-shirt.

I skipped my WW meeting last week because…well because I wanted to.  I was planning the trip to Mackinac and just wanted to go without any restrictions.  It wasn’t just a vacation from work.  It was a vacation from all responsibility and, apparently, a vacation from my senses.

Some of it was water weight.  That much I do know because I’ve been peeing like a racehorse all day (and can someone please explain that phrase to me because I’ve read Seabiscuit and it really does not touch on how much a racehorse actually does pee).  In spite of knowing I was bloated and feeling all that water slosh around inside me like an agitating Maytag, I was not a happy camper when I saw the scale shoot back up to within a quarter pound of my starting weight.

The good news is that I’m back to healthy eating again.  The bad news is my metabolism is all wonky and it will probably take me a few weeks to lose what I’ve gained.  My metabolism just hasn’t been the same since my pregnancy and nothing works exactly as it did before Autumn came along.  Years ago I was told that taking weight off gets harder as you get older.  I believed it, but hoped I wouldn’t be in my ’30s and still be fighting oBEASTity.

Has anyone else’s body done strange things since giving birth?  Do you ever get just a little bit peeved that you were able to grow an actual human being inside of you but can’t seem to make it to the bathroom at Target before piddling in your pants a little bit?  

I love my kid, but she really did a number on me.

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Adiós al verano

I stood in the driveway yesterday afternoon while Nathan retrieved the mail.  We were heading out to see a movie and I sighed.  It was Thursday, the second to last day of our vacation together.

“It really does feel like the end of summer, doesn’t it?” I asked.

He nodded.  “Yeah, it does.”

Today is the last day of our vacation and I have not accomplished one quarter of the things I had on my to-do list.  I had a lot of fun not doing those things, though.  Instead of doing things I had to do, I did things I wanted to do.  I spent a day on an island and snuck onto the porch of a fancy hotel.  I had lunch out with my mother, saw a movie and had lunch out again today with my husband.  I visited the book store, bought my father’s birthday gift (a task that wasn’t on my to-do list but probably should have been) and cleaned my daughter’s room.  That last task wasn’t so fun, especially since she undid most of our hard work in less than 30 minutes.

Summer is coming to an end, and nothing says “end of summer” more than the beginning of a new school year.  Next week I’ll be treated to a sea of new faces as the incoming freshmen move into their dorms and the week after that I’ll be going back to school myself.  I received an email from the professor of my class that asked us all to have “Hamlet” and The Great Gatsby read by our first class meeting on the 27th.  Hey, I’ve already read ten Shakespeare plays this summer.  What’s one more?

I don’t want summer to end.  I don’t want to give up the sun, the light breeze that passes through my living room and the fresh vegetables at the farmers markets.  I want to watch my daughter run through the sprinklers and sit out on my deck to eat dinner.  I want time to stand still, and today would be a great day for it to do just that.

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Somewhere in Michigan

So this whole trip to Mackinac Island was a spur-of-the moment thing.  And for those of you non-Michiganders out there, it’s pronounced Mak-in-aw, so while your eyes are reading Mack-in-ack, your mind is going to have to translate that into the correct pronunciation.  If you can’t do that, you may as well stop reading now because there’ s nothing more irritating to a Michigander than non-native folk mispronouncing our cities.  I’m sure the residents of Charlevoix would heartily agree.  That’s Shar-le-voy to you all.

As any parent can tell you, trying to make spur-of-the-moment plans that involve a toddler are challenging, so our first order of business was to figure out where to ditch the toddler.  We were considering bringing her along, but we really wanted to enjoy ourselves and thought Autumn a tad too young to be good company.  Since she’s no longer in diapers, we’d also need to have ready access to bathrooms and that wasn’t a guarantee where we were going.  We also had no idea if she’d be okay on a boat and getting to the island requires one to be ferried over.

Luckily C-, Autumn’s daycare provider, agreed to keep her for the night (for a modest fee, of course) so all we had to do was find a babysitter for the dog.  My parents graciously agreed and were handsomly rewarded with a pound of very expensive fudge.  Seriously, that fudge is outrageous.  And yummy.

We spent the night in St. Ignace, the city on the north side of the Mackinac bridge, and took the ferry over to the island yesterday morning.  It was a gorgeous day.  We couldn’t have asked for better weather, but as soon as we stepped onto Main Street we were very glad we had left Autumn behind.

It’s kind of hard to describe Mackinac Island to those who haven’t been there.  Automobiles are prohibited, forcing people to get around on foot, bike (oh so many bikes), carriage or horse.  The docks of all the main ferry lines empty out onto Main Street, which is very Disney-esque in terms of fabricated old-world appeal.  You can’t walk five feet without finding yourself in front of a candy shop and there are people everywhere.  And we were there on a Tuesday.

The smell of horse manure is prevalent on Main Street, so we chose to walk away from the dung and followed the boardwalk along the lake shore for a little while.  I was looking for something very specific though.  I had come to the island for this:

Panorama of the Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island

If you’ve ever seen the movie “Somewhere In Time” with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, you’ll recognize this place as The Grand Hotel.  If you haven’t seen the movie, I strongly recommend it.  It’s a little cheesy in the way ’80s movies tend to be, but I absolutely love it.  The bulk of the movie was filmed on Mackinac Island in and around The Grand Hotel.  It really is a magnificent building that can bee seen all the way from the mainland.

Drivey past the Grand

The Grand Hotel has gotten a little high on itself, a little elitist if you will.  It now charges $15 to even set foot on the grounds.  The signs around the hotel inform you there’s a fee to get into the hotel if you’re not a guest, but the bouncer in the crisp red uniform posted at the end of the driveway above told a different story.  He was making sure everyone entering the grounds was either a guest or a paying tourist.  Paying to sit on the porch of The Grand Hotel really wasn’t worth it, no matter how dreamy I think Christopher Reeve is in that movie.

So how did I get these pictures?  We actually had no idea they were charging to get onto the grounds, so as we were walking up to the hotel, we cut a left into the wooded area that empties out into the courtyard.  Nathan was hesitant to follow because he was quite sure we were going to get the boot.  I persuaded him to come with me and we climbed the very high staircase to the main entrance. Nathan trailed behind, grumbling and saying things like, “You really shouldn’t be climbing this many stairs with your bad knees.”  Did Christopher Reeve say that to Jane Seymour?  You tell me…

Yeah, those are the stairs we climbed and day-um there are a lot of them.  Take a look at the panorama of the front of the hotel and you can just barely see the stairs.  The bushes around it have kind of overtaken everything, which is a shame because there are some excellent views from those stairs.

Smoking is allowed

Once on the deck, Nathan sat down in a chair while I snapped a few more pictures.  After we’d had our fill of the hotel, we walked back to Main Street and rented a couple of bikes.  I was a little leery of getting on a bike.  I haven’t ridden a bike in years, and biking is one of the things my orthopedist doesn’t want me to do all that often.

It turned out my knees handled the ride just fine.  They handled it well enough that we wound up riding around the whole freaking island.  We hadn’t really planned to do that, but every so often we’d pull out the map and I’d ask Nathan how far around the island was.  “Oh, about 3 miles or so,” he’d say.  I protested but he assured me it was just that.  I think he might have started to doubt his estimate around mile marker number five though.

Folks, the coastline of Mackinac Island is eight miles long.  Just so you know.

We eventually made it all the way around.  Back on Main Street, we returned the bikes, bought the fudge (again, YUM) and waited for the ferry back to St. Ignace.  By the time we got back home and picked up Autumn, neither of us could move without groaning.  Our bodies, asses included, were very sore from the bike ride.  It was worth it though and in a few years we’ll proably go back and take Autumn with us.

Flowers, fence and Big Mac

If you’re at all interested in the rest of our pictures from the trip, feel free to click on any of the photos above to go to the rest of the set on Flickr.

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