May 19th, 2008 § 0

We’ve begun planning an actual, more than a weekend, non-visiting-family-somewhere vacation, something we haven’t officially done since the big Germany trip with Alli in utero. Oma is once again accompanying us, only I think her duties of entertaining a 7-year-old in the backseat of a cross-country drive will actually be more stressful than those of listening to a pregnant mommy with mega sacroiliac pain whine on an intercontinental flight…

The big plan is for a 10-day, slightly insane but hopefully fun “out west” road trip that will take us through the Badlands of South Dakota and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Yes, South Dakota Badlands in the end of July with at least 2 severely heat-intolerant travelers (me and Alli), sounds like a good idea, eh? Um, yeah, that’s why there will be more days spent in the cooler altitude of the Rockies.

We’ve begun reading books and recording nature programs that can get us all a little more educated about what we may see or try to see. Alli’s class studied a bit about the US this year (although some of her knowledge comes from various tall tales, so it’s interesting to watch her sift through fact vs. fiction), but she’s got a real interest, and it was neat to see her identify the presidents on Mt. Rushmore.

We happened to be watching a show about the Badlands that also showed the in-progress work on the Crazy Horse carving. Alli immediately asked about Crazy Horse, and we responded by basically telling her that he was a famous Native American leader (then making a mental note to do some additional research so that we could answer that more literately). Alli thought about it for a bit, then asked straight-faced, “Wow, he must have been really crazy as a little baby”.

To be named that at birth, of course.

This trip is going to ROCK.


May 16th, 2008 § 0

Oops — life has clearly been getting in the way of blogging.


Haven’t had a chance to report the good news, wherein the orthopedic doctor reported that Alli’s break was not a major one and that she would only likely need to wear a cast for 3 weeks.  I thought Alli was going to give the guy an actual kiss, she was so ecstatic.  While sitting out of some activities has been hard and brought a few tears, I think she’s been not so secretly enjoying her special status, being allowed to use the computer to write at school, and having to hunt down space to fit more signatures on the cast.  Andrew and I are both more than a little surprised at the lack of whining and frustration with an itchy or claustrophobically unaccessible arm.  My only lingering parental trepidation is how freaked out she’s going to be with whatever cutting machine or device they have to use to get the cast off.  Fifty bucks says that generates a bigger reaction than the actual broken wrist.


At any rate, here we are nearing the endpoint (visit anticipated to produce cast removal is this coming Wednesday), and it seems like only days have passed.  Alli is running around like some form of crazed superhero, making us tread new ground as we do a complete 180 from our traditional role in encouraging her to embrace risk.  This parenting thing, it sure requires one to be nimble.

All in all, we couldn’t have asked for a better first broken bone experience.



May 1st, 2008 § 0



Better karma

April 24th, 2008 § 2

Last night we volunteered as a family at a soup kitchen. It was the first time we’ve been able to find an appropriate forum (and felt it was the appropriate time) to introduce Alli to this kind of service, and it was one of our more meaningful parenting and life experiences. There was just such an amazing vibe, both among the volunteers and the diners, and it was one of those rare moments in life where I felt the kind of warm chills one gets when communing with the forces of kindness and one-ness in the universe. Altogether just under 100 people from our community came to eat, some of them having waited outside for several hours in advance to guarantee themselves a meal.

Alli was amazing. She helped with prep work, set tables, put out butter pats, and lined up the desserts that she was to serve. She cared to make sure that people were given choices among the cookie combinations set out on each plate. After serving, she skipped around, happily clearing tables and collecting utensils for cleaning.

On the way home, she shared some of her observations with me. She had been a little worried about it because she wasn’t sure what a homeless person would be like. Were they all homeless? They didn’t look like what she had thought. They weren’t all dirty. Where did they put the extra food they got to take with them? Did they have any money?

She was really focused on the money thing for awhile and I finally sorted that out when she asked me if they had to pay for the meal that we served them. When I assured her that it was provided for free, she breathed a huge sigh of relief. She had been worried that they had to pay money they didn’t have.

I think clearing that up curtailed any of her sadness about it, although I anticipate being watchful for that. Our goal was not to expose her to more than she could bear or leave her with a lingering sadness. But I think that acknowledging that bad financial times and poverty exist, within our own community as well as across the world, and that people who are suffering aren’t fundamentally different from us, is an important part of her education in this world. I also think that it can be good for us all to become more aware of our own privileges and blessings, and be more able to recognize when we want or waste more than we need.

Beyond the acknowledgement, I just feel so grateful about having found another way to show Alli that even a 7-year-old has power to make a difference.


April 13th, 2008 § 0

It’s been a hard weekend.

My beloved iPhone and wallet were stolen today. With a little help from my own carelessness at forgetting my purse for a few minutes in the Kohl’s girls’ changing room during an unsuccessful quest for a new pair of Jeans for the ever-growing Alli.

We spent the better part of the afternoon trying to do damage control (getting little to no assistance from Kohl’s, who has effectively no security camera system that I can tell, filing a police report, canceling credit cards, changing passwords, disabling the phone service, etc.). I will spend another few hours this week probably tracking down things that are scheduled to automatically bill to my debit card, which had to be canceled. I am without any access to funds for probably 7-10 days until my new debit card arrives. The financial impact tally to date is about $700. Of course, our insurance deductible is $1000.

And the person who helped him or herself also was so kind as to rip open the packaging of a $50 box of printer ink that I had intended to return to Target. Make that tally $750.

About 2 months ago Andrew’s debit card number was stolen (not the card, but the number, likely off a purchase record from somewhere), and our checking account was depleted after several thousand dollars of fraudulent airline ticket purchases. We were fortunate to have that cleared up and the funds back within about 2 weeks, but the scab from that wound feels a bit raw right now.

2 weeks ago, during our spring break travels, we received an as-yet-unknown fine for a “ticket” from the Indiana State Police as part of their “Move Over Law” crackdown. A piggybacking group of police vehicles were pulled over on the right side of the road for the sole purpose of catching folks who didn’t move over to pass them. We were on the verge of getting off at a right-hand exit, only probably a few hundred yards away — making a full move to the left lane not the world’s most appealing choice. Admittedly neither of us know about the law requiring a complete lane change “if traffic permits”, but Andrew is one of the most safety-conscious highway drivers I know. He saw the police vehicle on the right side of the road, moved about halfway out of the lane to give space, assuming this was more than safe given that there were no people outside of any vehicle at the time. He figured, as I would have, that he’d probably be a greater traffic risk if he had to quickly get back in the right lane to get off of the exit. According to the officer who pulled us over, she saw him move but because he didn’t officially cross the lane line fully, it wasn’t “enough”. She fully acknowledged her mission, to ticket as many drivers as possible. The “ticket”, by the way, is just a printout saying that the real ticket and fine will be arriving within 4-6 weeks. Because they were just far too busy catching criminals like us every 3 minutes to have their time wasted issuing REAL tickets. I contacted the county who issued the ticket, and they were unwilling to provide any information about the ticket or the fine, other than to say that there would definitely be an over $100 fee for “court costs” (regardless of whether we go to court or not) on TOP of the actual fine. We have no idea what the damage is going to be, although we both sense big $$, or whether we have a leg to stand on in court protest.

In the scheme of life, all of this is a drop in the bucket. I know that many people are so much less fortunate than we are, and that many people suffer far more extensive violence and violation than this. And as I told Alli, who was pretty affected by the stolen phone and wallet debacle, “things” are just that, and the fact that we are all safe and together is what is important. But the anger and sadness over both is proving difficult for me to shed. I’m angry about the ticket situation, not because I don’t fully support the law and its intent, but because I feel unfairly targeted, and I believe in my heart that we (Andrew in particular) are always respectful of others’ safety on the road and in particular that Andrew did not violate the intent of the law here. I’m also angry because this, along with several significant financial hits that we’ve taken recently, is likely to completely topple an already-way-over-budget life situation. I’m angry in general, at this and at the theft, and just really, really sad. Sad that so many people in this world just seem to be lacking fundamental human compassion for others. And of course I’m furious with myself for not learning my lesson the many, MANY other times I’ve forgotten something of value somewhere out of distraction or carelessness. Still, I remind myself, drop in the bucket. Far worse things happen every day to so many others. Do I even have a right to complain?

What doesn’t so much feel like a drop in the bucket is that Ziggy (our eldest cat, the cat Andrew and I adopted together as our wedding gift to each other 18 years ago) is dying. Neither one of us really wants to say it that way, but it’s the reality. After several days of noticing significant decline, a vet visit yielded the diagnosis of severe dehydration and likely kidney failure. Neither of us (nor our vet) were ready to throw in the towel just yet, not yet convinced that he couldn’t be made more comfortable and be given a bit more time without suffering, so he has spent the weekend at the vet on IV fluids. We are to pick him up tomorrow and learn how to give him fluids at home, await a second round of blood test results, and take it day by day from there. Probably going to be another major financial hit in the long run (we’re already probably $800 in on this round thus far), although the money seems impossible to factor into decisions involving life and quality of life for a soul that is small and furry, but a real and very dear part of our family. We’re all sad. I’ve had several gentle but honest conversations with Alli about Ziggy’s age and health, and prepared her for an understanding of euthanasia, something which may be in the cards at some point. They are difficult conversations to have, not just for Andrew and I but for Alli, who is so bonded with her pets and who has seen more than her fair share of loss in the last year or two.

It’s been a hard weekend.


April 4th, 2008 § 0

So yesterday was our laid-back “let’s stay around Lansing” and make time for hanging out and swimming at the hotel day. And Lansing, well, let’s just say it’s been explored and we’re not making reservations for a return trip. It just seems to be one of those towns that hasn’t fared all that well against the decline of the auto industry and recession.

Still, we managed to engage Alli at the small but only mildly depressing local zoo. One of the advantages of low crowds, few animals and small enclosures is taking it slow and getting some serious one-on-one creature face time.


Oh, and I hesitated to include this one, but I can’t resist. It reminded me so fondly of our encounter with the Indiana Highway Patrol on Tuesday:Goats.

(Sorry. It had to be said.)

Off to Ann Arbor.

March 21st, 2008 § 0

This is what it looked like when we were driving to the grocery to get eggs today, the first day of spring:


This is the product of Alli & I attempting to make our own spring:


Guess what Andrew just won at a conference?

February 20th, 2008 § 2

Big hint:



And apparently also a pair of night vision goggles.

So now he can go out and hunt vegetables in the dark.

Proud to be an American?

February 6th, 2008 § 0

Instant message conversation with a co-worker today….. 

me me me: Vote?
Notme: No I want to but don’t know how
me me me: Are you registered?
Notme: I don’t think so
Notme: Can you do off the internet
me me me: Freak
me me me: No
Notme: That’s why people don’t vote
Notme: Not easy
Notme: Besides obama gonna win
me me me: It took me 10 minutes
me me me: Have you ever voted?
Notme: Nope
Notme: Where can I do it
Notme: Library?
me me me: You gots to be registered
Notme: I’m not so what can I do
Notme: Can I register for the main one?
me me me: And you have polling places near your house for your voting convenience
me me me: Yes you can register for general election
Notme: How
me me me: Dial. 1-800-RegisterMe
Notme: Until yesterday I didn’t know that today was super tues
Notme: U serious?
me me me: Yes
Notme: Its a govt setup
Notme: That don’t want more people to vote
me me me: They probably don’t do it during those horrible reality shows you watch
Notme: Why not. That’s what most people watch now
Notme: I watched paradise hotel 2
Notme: Yesterday
Notme: Actually I was also watching larry king live too and they didn’t have any commercials on how to vote
me me me: I’m gonna need to see your high school and college diplomas
Notme: Ha
Notme: I got some conterfeits

Puxatawney Phil, why all the hate?

February 5th, 2008 § 0



A day after dense fog in Chicago canceled hundreds of flights, forecasters said another winter storm would hit the area Tuesday night into Wednesday, bringing up to a foot more of snow.

The National Weather Service early Tuesday morning issued a winter storm warning, saying rain and sleet will eventually turn to snow that could fall heavily across northeast Illinois.

The predictions of 8 to 12 inches of snow said the heaviest amounts are expected in the western and northern suburbs and into Rockford.

“This is a very dynamic situation with snow fall amounts of 1 to 2 inches per hour possible,” the weather service warned.

Winds will also increase to 20 m.p.h to 30 mph., making blowing and drifting of snow is also likely. Some uncertainty remains regarding the timing of precipitation changing from a wintry mix to all snow, but when the changeover occurs the precipitation will remain all snow for the remainder of the storm, the weather service said.

The newest severe-weather warning comes a day after heavy, dense fog draped downtown buildings and caused extensive disruption at the area’s two biggest airports. Many travelers whose flights were canceled at Midway and O’Hare International Airports were scrambling to find replacement flights to escape the city before the next wave of bad weather moves in.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the life category at