Friday, January 28, 2011


19 years ago this afternoon, I was at the doctor's office.  He was checking me out for the last time before I would go into labor later that night.  I was really restless that evening and couldn't sleep.  I went downstairs to watch TV.  The movie Bonnie and Clyde was on WGN or TBS or one of those channels that manages to match the running time of a movie with minutes of commercials.  Nothing soothes the soul like a good gangster movie.  I had a lot of braxton hicks (fake) contractions with this pregnancy and thought I was having them that night.  Then they seemed to become rather regular.  I started timing them with the commercials on TV  - the one and only time they have or ever will again come in handy.  About the time Buck takes a shot to the head and Blanche goes ballistic, I timed them at a little over 2 minutes apart.  I went upstairs to wake John.

I said, "I think this is it.  We'd better call Mary Kay" (our neighbor who would tend to Jim when the time came to go to the hospital).  I puttered around in the bathroom for a few minutes and came back to the bedroom to find that he had gone back to sleep.  I don't remember if I hit him or not - but I know I wanted to.  We called Mary Kay, she came over to spend the rest of the night, and we were off to the hospital.

We arrived there somewhere around 3:00 am.  Things went very smoothly.  No almost-emergency C-section like with Jim.  They gave me an epidural, and I watched my contractions come and go on a machine.  Around 6:00 am it was time to push and Hannah, with all of her black hair, was born at 6:31.

A new beginning at it's finest.

19 years later, we're hoping for another new beginning.  We collected Hannah and all of her belongings from college this afternoon.  She hates being at Millikin and can't take another semester.  She wants to transfer to ISU, but it is too late to get into any classes this semester there or even at Heartland Community College.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't upset.  Pick an emotion and I've had it this week.  I threw every argument in the book at her and came at it from every angle to get her to reconsider.  I yelled at God, then asked for forgiveness and guidance.  This is NOT how it is supposed to happen.

Until she starts her summer job in June, the next few months could be pretty long ones for her.  But I know she will find her way.  She will start school again in the fall, probably at ISU.  Ironic, that in just shy of nine months, we can look forward to another new beginning.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am


I am stuck in the flat, frozen corn fields of central Illinois.  This time of year always gets to me, but February is usually worse than January.  I’m really trying not to be pessimistic, but it’s hard not to be.  It’s too cold to take the dogs for a walk, and even though I know I should start exercising again, I have little energy for that or anything else.  John and I have toyed around with the idea of moving someplace warmer, where he would be home more.  But our roots run pretty deep here, and until our kids are out of college, we are here to stay.  So I am stuck, alone, with the dogs.   The bright side of things?  But for the snow blowing and shoveling, there is no yard work to do.

I am stuck at my job as well.  The theoretical promotion ladder doesn’t even exist there, so there is no moving up or down it.  Come to think of it, there is no place to go laterally either.  Things have changed drastically in my short tenure there and not for the better.  The job market is extremely limited here, and unless you work for an insurance company or a university, you’re quite the oddity.  My years of experience in manufacturing purchasing doesn’t get me squat in this town.  That, plus a tight economy means I am…


For so many years, everything was moving forward – college, marrying John, then moving forward with various jobs, kids, then getting the kids out of diapers, getting them to their next soccer game, getting them through the next school year…  Now – it’s paying for college.  They are not around to move forward anymore. They are hopefully doing that on their own.

Is that what "empty nest syndrome" is?  You don't have anyone around to help move on to the next thing?  Or is this a mid-life crisis?  Maybe just the winter blues?  You tell me.

I talked to Hannah today, and to a certain extent, I should practice what I preach.  Be happy with the memories of the past, but look for new and exciting things in the future.  Move forward.  For someone in college, the goal is a clear one - maneuver each semester the best you can, graduate, and get a good job.  For me?  Not so crystal.

We had a Christian therapist talk at our church a few years ago. In a nut shell, he said that it was OK to not have a plan - that it was easier for God to guide you that way.  Okay...  Well, I ended up as the purchasing manager at Wildwood, where the company has gone bankrupt and the owners, controller and production manager have since gone to jail on fraud charges... then I went to a commodity brokerage firm where I have felt completely out of place for 2 1/2 years.

 I just don't get it.

I still believe.  Proverbs 16:3 says - Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

OK - then ESTABLISH!  God's time has never been my time.  I have prayed patience for years, so this may be God answering my prayers - my payback.

Whatever it is, let it be.

My prayer for today, as I was driving back and forth to work:  Lord God, please grant me, my husband  and my children strength, courage and discernment to do your will.  Calm us as we go through troubled times.  Give us the gift of knowing that our efforts are good and righteous.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Perfect Saturday

9:00 - woke up, because John got up with the puppies at 6:30
10:00 - ate the incredible omelet that John made for me.
11:15 - went to the eye doctor's to get my new glasses.  They're pretty neat.  Photos later.
1:30 - ate heated chili previously made, that John put on the stove.  Yum, if I do say so myself.
2:00 - 5:00 - beaded jewelry.  Some for me, some for friends, some for the FOTCOH auction.  Again, photos later.

5:00 - 7:00 - made and previewed Tex-Mex dinner club recipe with John.  Pretty good.  Needs some tweeking, but good.  One of my favorite things in the world is making dinner on Saturday night with John, having a couple drinks, and watching a movie on netflix.  Call me old, but it doesn't get any better than that.
Sunday - we're going to be bad and blow off church.  Please forgive us.  We're having friends over, eating lots of meat (the amount of meat consumed has a direct correlation to the Bear's domination over the Packers) and I'm taking Hannah back to school.

Pray for my Hannah.  She needs guidance.  We all do.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday, even when you don't work

You would think that coming off of a weekend like I had, I would be very pumped up and eager to face the world, renewed.  Not so.

I finally tried to make homemade pasta.  I currently have fettuccine hanging from plastic coat hangers all over my kitchen.  That's what the recipe advised if one does not own a pasta rack.  When I said I wanted to make my own pasta, I was not prepared for hangers full of the stuff, all hanging from every door and cabinet knob that are out of the dog's reach.  I would show you photos, but I just do not want to.  It's not pretty.  (OK, I added a photo later - still not pretty...)

I think the pasta itself looks and feels the way it is supposed to.  But drying, it looks like the white cloth we had draped on the cross at Easter, only with plastic coat hangers in my kitchen.  It's a little unsettling.

Since The Girl is ditching me again for better things happening down the street, I guess I'm left to trying this on my own.  Wish me luck.

Direction? You're supposed to have one of those?

My friend, J.A., was recently rather annoyed with herself because her blog didn't have "direction."  Please. If you're supposed to focus on one thing, then thank you very much - I'll see you later.  I am very aware of the fact that I will never write a book about or through blogging, and they will never make a movie out of it either.  I don't feel the need to cook every last thing in a Julia Childs cookbook.  Plus, I've barely been able to rub two thoughts together since the kids were born.  And, I started this blog to write about Haiti, remember?  Well, this entry is about as far from that as you can get.  Maybe I'll just re-label this blog "Randomness At It's Best," then nobody would have their fluidity expectations set too high.

That being said, here is what happened this weekend.  This is more for my benefit than anyone else's.  It was a great weekend, but probably pretty boring to read about.  Whatever.  Here goes...

I took Friday off, and Hannah and I took the train to Chicago.  John got us a free night at The Palmer House, and what made it even better is that we were upgraded to the "executive floor."  You have to swipe your room key just to use the dedicated elevator!  We felt like real shooters.

After having champagne cocktails in our room, we went to Tattoria No. 10 for dinner.  Hannah had lobster ravioli.  Very decadent.  Then we saw Wicked.  That, my friends, is one hell of a show.  John and I saw it a few years ago when it was in Chicago the first time around, and I kept thinking about how much Hannah would love it.  I was so glad it came back, she did in fact love it.  I think I liked this Glinda even more than the first one.  

We slept in Saturday morning.  We took advantage of the continental breakfast served on our floor.  Then we went to the Art Institute.  I think if I lived in Chicago, I would get a membership to that place.  You just feel good being there - unless you are Hannah, wearing new shoes and no socks (in January, mind you) - then the rapidly forming blisters on your feet do not feel good.

(Hannah said this looked like the paper towel she throws away after painting something.)

Then we went shopping.  We took a cab up to Michigan Avenue, to Bloomingdale's and bought...  wait for it...   socks.

We shopped the rest of the afternoon and came away without dumping a ton of money, thanks to H&M. Thanks to Urban Outfitters, I now have new beaded jewelry to copy.  

We were a little late for the train, even though we were in the station for over an hour.  Nobody was happy about trading seats so that we could sit together.  My bad.  The only very slight glitch in the weekend.

John picked us up at the train station and we had Moe's for dinner.  Hannah modeled a couple outfits for John.

Church yesterday morning, followed by friends coming over and celebrating the Bears win over the Seahawks.  Upon said win, John declared "NOT IT," leaving me to be the one to schlep Hannah back to school next weekend.  He loves you Hannah, but Sunday afternoons belong to Lovie, Urlacher and Cutler, for at least for one more weekend.

Today is Martin Luther King day, so I have the day off.  Of course, John had to leave the house at 5:30 this morning to make a meeting out of town.  We cannot seem to sync the same days off.  Ever.  But I did manage to sleep in a little.  The dogs went with me to the recycling bins.  NOTHING says party time to those dogs like a car ride to the bins.  I finally made pasta dough, that is "resting" in the fridge at the moment.  My pasta triumph or disaster will assuredly be the random topic of the next blog.  Since my jewelry making stuff and beads are completely covering the dining room table, I think I'll finally make something.  It's one thing to make the pasta, it's another to have a place to sit down and eat it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Art and Wilma

Today is my parent's 65th wedding anniversary.

This is a copy of a page from my mom's scrapbook.  There are a few awesome photos of Mom and Dad before they were married, when Mom visited Dad when he was stationed in...  Florida?  Hawaii?  I can't remember- but I know he was stationed at both places.  They are photos from the beach - very carefree, even with the backdrop of WWII.  I know I have them, and it makes me mad that I can't find them right now.  Anyway...

This is what my mother wrote, years later about their wedding day...
"Art and I were married in the West Point Methodist church January 12, 1946, a very cold day with snow and ice blanketing Indiana.  The ceremony was simple and the only decorations consisting of candles and red roses on the altar.  I wanted to wear red roses but the florist frowned on that and said, "No bride would think of wearing red."  Meekly, I settled for white gardenias.  Fine fabrics, silks and satins were still unattainable so soon after the war, so I wore a blue wool suit and Art wore his U.S.Navy dress uniform.  Virginia, my sister-in-law was maid of honor and art's brother, Oscar, served as best man.  Pastor, V.C.Rogers conducted the ceremony, after which there was a small reception in the room at the back of the church.  Lydia Conrad, Mary Fouts and Florence Ford served wedding cake, punch and coffee."

She doesn't know it yet, but I want Hannah to have red roses in her wedding flowers, because Grandma couldn't.

I can't help but think about how simple things were then... how my parents were happily married and devoted to each other for 2 months shy of 50 years.  That's when Dad left us.  Mom endured for a few more years.  But I know if they had stayed here on earth with us, they would still be together, loving and supporting each other to this day.  

It also makes me think about the big, glamorous weddings we've attended.  Nothing against those ceremonies, but they certainly are no indication of the love that generates them.  

I really miss my mom and dad today.  
Happy anniversary.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Airing of the Grievances, Part 2

I just read over my list of grievances and realized that it was rather a lame list. There are FAR more things that bug me.  I must have been in a relatively good mood when I wrote that. So here goes round 2!!

Fleece your friends parties.  Now, I have some very good friends that have Pampered Chef, Mary Kay and various jewelry parties from time to time.  I don't mind going to them once in a while, but the hostess always says, "Don't feel obligated to buy anything! Just come!"  Uh huh.  I don't mind Pampered Chef, but don't invite me to anything else.  I don't use Mary Kay and I make most of my own jewelry, K?

My nails.  I have paper thin nails.  Even when I was pregnant and on pre-natal vitamins!  (I have LOTS more gripes about my body, but I'll spare you that entire list.  Although I do have to complain about my eyes.  I can't see ANYTHING anymore.  Should I hope for cataracts so I can have a new lens implanted in my eyeballs?)

Crocs.  This has to be THE WORST style of shoe ever invented.  I don't care how comfortable they are.  I don't care that kids can put cute little things in the holes on the top.  Friends don't let friends wear crocs.  Ever.

While we're on the subject of style (if that term even applies to crocs), clothes styles out there right now SUCK for people like me.  I don't give into every fad that comes around, because I like to think I have a clue as to what looks good on me and what doesn't.  Granted, my shopping scope has been very limited since Christmas, but for months prior - nothing.  If anyone is listening?  I need V-neck tops, people!

Bloomington/Normal, or Blo-No as my kids call it.  This is a great place to raise a family.  The schools are good and for the most part, it's pretty clean cut.  But. Try to find a job anywhere else other than State Farm.  And it's winter.  ANYWHERE in the midwest is going to make me nuts at this point.  A friend recently described this place as "vanilla."  I want Cherry Garcia.

People that drive (and/or park) huge SUVs and don't know how to.  I drive a Miata in the summer.  I have a right to be on the road like they do.  But they do not act like it.  Look down from your gas guzzling vehicle and notice there are other beings on the road - and DON'T DRIVE OVER ME!!

Walmart.  Nuf said.

My refrigerator.  It's a side-by-side.  Never, ever again.  The next one we get will have the fridge on top and the freezer on the bottom.  That's all I have to say about that.

While we're on the subject - my kitchen.  It sucks.  We have plans to re-do it, but they have been put on hold for various reasons.  Meanwhile,  the lighting, the cabinets, the counter space - ugh.

I'm sure there are many more grievances I could post, but I'm thinking enough is enough.  My next post should be the things I love.  I'll work on that.  Really.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy Festivus!

As I was driving to work last week, while the rest of my family were nestled in their beds, snoozing the morning away, it occurred to me how much I am letting things get to me these days.  Little things that are going to literally send me over the edge.

I thought of Frank Castanza, and Festivus, and the Airing of the Grievances.

I thought of doing a little Airing myself.

Here is goes.  If any of my comments offend you, I'm sorry.  No, wait.  I'm not sorry.  That's one of my gripes.  Apologizing for things I don't need to apologize for.  Just my opinion!  HA!

People that have those stick figure window clings on their van.  We know you have a lot of kids.  You have a VAN.

The squeak in my car door.  People driving down Main Street are starting to stare because Florence and the Machine is turned up to eleven to drowned it out.  (The volume of my music is probably the topic of one of their gripes, but oh well...)

People that DO NOT KNOW HOW TO MANEUVER A 4 WAY STOP SIGN. Take a class, will you?!

Formula romantic comedies.  Hello, Hollywood?  Been there, done that.  We don't need to see it 1000 times with updated actors.  Gimme something new!

People that do not pick up after their dog.  If I ever find out who is letting their rather large animal relieve  itself in our front yard, I am going to save up 6 months worth of Caz and Lilly's "presents" and return the favor.

People that put their entire worth into one thing - work, parenting...  Life is divided into roles and you play many.  Respect that, and stop trying to be "all that" at work.  Nobody cares that you put in a 12 hour day - you're just annoying others.  A LOT.

Commercials.  Thank goodness for Tivo and DVR.  I can't watch a show in real time anymore.

Sunday nights.  Ugh.  Why are they SO depressing??!

The stupid avatar updates on yahoo.  Thank you, but I'll see your "likeness" the next time I IM you.  I don't need an update for it.

My celebrity list!
A, number one has to be rush limbaugh.  I don't even capitalize his name, because that would give him too much respect.  Along with that is glen beck and all the other talking heads that spew whatever is going to stir the pot on any given day.  I loathe these people and/or the network that encourages and exploits them.
All the Twilight and teenage vampire books/movies.  Whatever.  Don't care.
Lindsay Lohan and all the other "troubled celebrity teens and beyond."  If you were a regular person, you'd be in jail.  Period.
If the Democratic Speaker of the House cried as much as John Boehner, the Republicans would be screaming about it!!
Oh yeah, Sarah Palin makes my skin crawl.
John Edwards = pure scum.

Anyway, that's all I've got for now, girls and boys!!  I know there is more.  Should I have taken notes on my gripes and grievances?  You wouldn't want me to.

Happy 2011!!

Monday, January 3, 2011


I "took down" all the Christmas decorations yesterday.  That means I piled them all of the dining room table and the counter in the basement.  I was fulling expecting to still be putting away Christmas stuff next weekend. One of the reasons I don't love Christmas is all the work that goes with it - decorating and undecorating the house.  But John gave me a wonderful gift today - While I was at work, John and the kids put away 95% of the Christmas stuff.

I cried.

Seriously.  It was stupid, how much it meant to me that my family put away the Christmas stuff for me and I didn't have to do it.  That was an awesome gift that should not be ignored.

Love you guys for all you do.

Sunday, January 2, 2011



It's the second day of the new year, so I should have something profound to write about, right?  Sadly, no.

My thoughts have been very scattered the last couple weeks.  We had a great Christmas (please see previous post).

New Year's Eve was fun and relatively uneventful - a VERY good thing.  We went to a party at the Vinceguerra's, which is always a party, no matter what day of the year it is.   Luckily, we left before I had too much to drink and thought I sounded good while singing kareoke. They always kid me about "letting Janis out" to sing, because apparently I think I scream in a good way after a number of drinks.  Hannah and some of her friends came by and saved me, because I like listening to them more than hearing me make a fool of myself.  Hannah drove us home, she had some friends over, I barely made it to toast in the new year, and went to bed. 

Jim and Abbie went to a party and I'm very glad that Jim was designated driver and they made it home in one piece. 

My New Year's Day consisted of making pasta sauce all day, THINKING about making homemade pasta, and having the Schulzs over for dinner.  We talked and watched hockey.  John and Dave mocked each other about everything.  It was a really nice day.  

The kids have had people coming and going ever since.  Jim took Abbie back to Iowa today.  Brian leaves for California tomorrow.  Hannah's friend, Becca, leaves to go back to college tomorrow.  Time together with their best friends is pretty precious for my kids these days.  I'm glad they appreciate the good people in their lives.  

So today, we went to church, did the Tribune crossword puzzle, took down some decorations and watched the Bears loose to the Packers.  (I don't care if they have to win to make the playoffs or not - it ALWAYS SUCKS to lose to Green Bay.  

But we're having Tobins delivered tonight.  So it's all good.

Happy New Year everyone!