Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Another "Last"

Today is my last day for this work assignment and with my current employer. We pack the trailers tomorrow and start driving home on Friday. As usual, we will be taking the "long way home" and making a couple of stops for visiting along the way. Good stuff. Can't wait!

Just yesterday I found a new category of blogs that I had never even thought of... home and interior design blogs!

I started reading blogs while I was pregnant. I was searching for pregnancy pictures because I was thinking of having some done. I never found one that I loved (and never had any taken of myself), but I did find a bunch of mommy blogs. In the first few months it was great to read other new mom's stories and know that I wasn't "the only one". Then I found simple living blogs, general blogs about life, travel blogs, crafting blogs (TONS of crafting blogs), food blogs and now design blogs! When I get home I'll have to make a link list so you can see them too. The pictures are so inspiring. I am looking forward to getting back to my house and making it my home!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cloud Gate & Other Sites

Last Saturday morning we went to Chicago to do some touristy things. Thanks to some unused Metra train passes from my sister's visit, we didn't spend a dime.

Most of the morning was spent at Millennium Park. I love the Bean (the official name is Cloud Gate). It is so much cooler in person than in pictures. If you get under the center of the bean and look up, you are reflected multiple times - sort of like a fun house mirror.

This is the whole bean. I absolutely love the reflection of the city on the bean.

Our family reflected in the bean:

At the Crown Fountain, the faces were on and spitting. I suppose it could look like they are drinking rather than spitting. The official description uses the word "spouting". Whatever you want to call it, we saw it.

One of the faces:

The face "spouting": (just ignore the two heads of other spectators at the bottom of the photo)

While at the park we also checked out the Lurie Garden, walked by the Jay Pritzker Pavilion and walked over the BP Bridge to the Daley Bicentennial Plaza.

Jay Pritzker Pavilion - I want my lawn to be that green

At the plaza we stopped at a great playground for Sweetie and watched people get ready for their Segway Tour of the city. You'll notice that Sweetie is wearing the scarf that I knit! (Yes, it was that cold -scarves, hats, mittens and ear muffs were all worn.)

Bicentennial Park - If you look under a magnifier you might be able to see that the person in the picture is on a Segway

Just in case you aren't sure what a segway is, this picture is from the City Segway Tour website (obviously not taken the day we were there. Short sleeves - ha!)

After the playground, we walked along the Randolph Street side of Millennium Park by the bike rentals and the Millennium Monument. I had skipped that corner on the way into the park due to my excitement to see the Bean.

Millennium Monument:

I took a couple of pictures of the flowers in the road dividers on Michigan Ave for my sister. When she and I took a trolley tour in March, the driver mentioned how beautiful the street looks when everything is in bloom.

From the park we walked to Macy's (the former Marshall Fields) on the corner of State and Washington. We admired the Tiffany glass ceiling, the great clocks and the granite pillars of the famous building.

Tiffany glass ceiling (it's on the 5th floor if you want to visit):

While waiting to cross a street, I turned to the left and saw the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT). This was the oldest futures and options exchange. It has since merged with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. For most people, this may not be exciting, but I work in financial services, so I have actually seen CBOT as the exchange on future trades.

Then we hopped on the train at Union Station and made it home in time for Hubs to watch the Indian's baseball game.

A little something for everyone.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

On The Road Again

We are moving home!!

I am thrilled. I didn't realize how much I want to go home until we made the final decision. Now I am positively giddy! I want to leave at the end of next week, but there might be a contractual obligation to stay until the following Friday. The contract is really between my current employer and the client (not me personally and the client). I could say "oh well" and just leave. However, I like my client and the industry is small, so I may be stuck here an extra week. On the other hand, the client isn't giving me enough work to fill the extra week, so I might make a plea for letting me go regardless of what the contract says. It will save the client a week of consulting fees, so they really should let me go.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Starting to Bloom

Spring has arrived in Chicagoland. Trees budding, flowers blooming, green grass, warm breezes. It's wonderful!

The tree pictured below is right outside Sweetie's playroom window and it has the most amazing fragrance. When we come home at the end of the day, I can smell it as we come up the walk. It's a better welcome than a welcome mat.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Best Thing You Can Do

I just read this in a document at work:

The very best thing you can do for the whole world is to make the most of yourself.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bless You

Do people that don't believe in G*d get offended when someone says "Bless You" when they sneeze?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Happy Working Morning

I spent 2 hours of the early morning participating in a group interview with a team in India. There were 3 in India and 6 here and it was great fun for me. My client is considering hiring them, so I was able to ask the questions (rather than be asked) and I loved it. I had a great time listening to their responses and building new questions based on what they said. We were able to get into some nitty-gritty and flush out the fluff from the solid knowledge. At the end of the interview, the client asked me what I thought and I gave a fair response pointing out both positives and negatives. The main decision maker for the client liked my analysis, which added to my warm and fuzzy feeling.

This was my first time participating in an interview where my opinion actually matters to someone and I'm just amazed at how much I enjoyed it. I've done interviews in the past, but they were mostly informative interviews to benefit the other person. For example, after my boss spoke with someone and decided he wanted to hire them, he would have me speak with them to give them the "real story" about the job. He wasn't looking for my input in the hiring decision. My role was purely the rah-rah cheerleader to make the interviewee want to work for us. Today's interview was so much more fun than those old "information" conversations.

Based on my performance today, I've been invited to participate in another one tomorrow and one more next week. I can't wait!

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Housework Is Not A Priority

On Saturday we went to the local public library. I love the library and am worse than a kid in a candy shop. There were so many books and dvd's I wanted to take out. It was difficult, but I kept it under control. Next to the library is a kids science museum. We spent a few hours running around there, then went to lunch nearby. SPie fell asleep and it was raining, so we drove around the historic downtown area of Geneva. It's a pretty town and there are some lovely homes just off the center including a private residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright called Hoyt House. I forgot my camera, so I don't have a picture, but if you are interested, you can google it. I probably would not have taken a photo anyway since it is someone's personal home.

At the library I checked out a book on Mexican cooking. There was a recipe for Avocado and Prawn stuffed eggs. We had that for dinner, but we used can salamon instead of shrimp/prawns. It was delicious with a salad and some leftover rice.

After dinner I finished my scarf! Sweetie tried it on and it looks adorable on her. I didn't get a picture, but you can see the finished scarf on Big Teddy. I'm taking a second knitting class this week to learn how to do cables and a few other stitches. :-)

We spent Sunday hanging around the house with one excursion out for a walk to the grocery store. I started a chocolate mousse recipe without reading the entire thing first. Halfway through I realized it takes 4 raw eggs, so I switched to another recipe. It didn't work so well.

This morning I looked at my "to-do" list for the weekend and it included practical things like cleaning the bathroom. I didn't get my list done, but we had a nice family weekend around home.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Chicago Pictures From St. Patrick's Day

Enjoy these pictures from Chicago taken in March.

The St. Patrick's Day green river with the Chicago Tribune building in the background.

Green River and Columbus Drive Bridge
Lake Michigan Waves
Bird house for Purple Martins
Mosaic in the Bryn Mawr area. It's much bigger than what's pictured. We found it completely by accident - a lovely surprise.

The US and Chicago Flags. Each of the 4 stars represents a significant event for Chicago.
1st = the evacuation and burning of Fort Dearborn in 1812
2nd = the great fire in 1871
3rd = Chicago World's Fair in 1893
4th = 1933 World's Fair
More Green!
Curvy Green

My sister took this one. The proximity of the hot dog car to the church made her chuckle.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Talking About Money

I just started reading Suze Orman's book Women and Money. She raises the issue of talking about money and how people don't consider it a "subject for polite conversation". Her point is that this is wrong and we as a society, and especially "we" as women, need to discuss money and not be afraid of it. This is rather timely as I am trying to figure out my salary requirements.

I don't know how to find out if my desired salary is "reasonable". I know that it will barely cover the expenses if my husband were to stay home and pursue his furniture making interest, but the number seems so high. Then again, when I gave my current employer my salary she said, "That seems low." My big fear is that I'll lose a job offer because I've asked for too much. Is that a crazy thought? I shouldn't be afraid to ask for what I need, right? And, I should believe that I'm worth that much!

I'm thinking of asking a couple of former co-workers and a former manager for suggested salary ranges. It's a little scary for me to do this. Employers have always said not to discuss salary, and I listened. Now I'm on my own island with no point of reference!

Suze is definitely onto something with the "conspiracy of silence" when it comes to discussing money matters. I think I'll take a deep breath and ask my contacts through email. It's not as big a step as calling on the phone, but it's a start.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

My Bold Baby

I recently heard a snippet of a radio interview with the jazz singer KoKo Taylor and it reminded me of my SweetiePie. Koko's voice is bold, fierce, rough, and strong, but the words of the songs were soft and loving and positive. That's how I've been thinking of my girl lately. She is a complex mix of wonderful things. She is fearless, independent, confident and strong, but she's also loving, sweet, cuddly, and kind.

My girl might go for the black crayon over the pink one day, then ask for her pink ponytail the next. She might play with cars and trains everyday for a week, then play with her baby dolls. She says, "I love you" freely and gives kisses. She sings silly songs and likes to dance. She knows her own mind and when she wants to do something on her own, do not get in the way.

I love her mix of bold and soft and I hope she never loses either side!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Living in Limbo

Things have not worked out as expected with my new job. The client is great, but the employer is not delivering what I believe we agreed on. I'm waiting until the end of the week to see if a few things happen and if they don't, I have to look for another job.

While we wait, everything is in limbo. Hubs is holding off looking for a job. We are looking at houses to rent (our apartment lease is up in May), but we can't commit to anything yet. We are touring other preschools, but that is a bit of a waste since we don't know where we'll be living after May. Some of the schools that are close to our apartment won't be convenient for some of the rental houses. Family and friends are asking about visiting, but we don't want anyone to book flights until we know we'll be staying.

We've been living in this limbo since we arrived and it's making me crazy. It's times like this when having to work for a living really bugs me. My future plans are dependent on what my employer does and I have no control over that.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Sporty Things

Today is opening day for the Cleveland Indians. Hubs is a huge fan, but didn't get to watch many games last year. In fact, I'm not sure he watched any. The Indians are just not all that popular in Sydney. This year opening day is at Cleveland against the Chicago White Sox. He is watching it live now and he can watch it again during the rebroadcast tonight. How lucky is he?!? SPie likes baseball, so they can even watch it together.

I don't know much about sports and sometimes it would be nice to know. I often work with guys and they do talk about sports. It's not just a cliche. It would be nice to join in the water cooler sports talk every now and then, but I really can't be bothered to learn about sports now. However, if SPie wants to sit with Dad and watch a game, I'm all for it!

A girlfriend of mine is a BIG sports fan. For her honeymoon, she planned a trip that included going to Buffalo to see a Patriots game and California for a basketball game. She has a website, http://www.sportsflowerbox.com/, for sports themed window boxes. She started out doing a replica of Fenway Park's Green Monster on her bar at home (to scale... she's into math too). Friends loved it, so she moved on to flower boxes. She did a couple for charity auctions with the Patriot's logo and field too. If you are into sports (or need a gift for someone into sports), you should check this out. You can request specific teams and for the scoreboard boxes, you can request specific games.

These aren't the greatest pictures, but they'll give you an idea of what it's about.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Borrowing Someone Else's Post

Hi - check out this post:

Make sure you read SusieJ's version here: (It made me cry at work!)

Have a great weekend!

P.S. Don't forget to turn your lights off from 8 pm - 9 pm on Saturday (March 29, 2008) for Earth Hour

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Things to Remember

This post is really for me. After yesterday's post, I was thinking about all the things my Sweetie does - good and bad. Following are some things I don't want to forget. Granted, most of it is identical to every other 2 1/2 year old, but she's mine and I'm not taking any chances on forgetting.

She calls me "Honey Bunny". As in, "I want to sit with my Honey Bunny". Sometimes she'll call me Sweetie too, but usually that's my name for her. She'll call her Dad "Sweetie Daddy".

In the last two months or so, she has started complying with requests for hugs and kisses. She used to say "no" when we asked for a kiss. Or she would give you her cheek. Now she puckers her lips and it looks so cute!

She LOVES cars, trucks, trains, helicopters, motorcycles, bicycles, skateboards, and anything else with wheels that go. I don't think I will forget this, but she loves them so much that it's worth mentioning.

We've seen a number of trains carrying double stacked shipping containers . The other day she put her train cars on top of each other to make a double stacked train of her own.

When she's playing in her playroom alone and hears the train whistle outside, she runs out of the playroom to be next to Hubs or me.

When she was learning the alphabet she used to yell "A, B, C, D" and we had to yell back "E, F, G". Sometimes she would dictate whose turn it was to respond ... "Mommy's turn, A,B,C,D" and I would have to yell back. If someone went out of turn we had to do it again.

She loves to sing and dance and do forward rolls around the house. The forward rolls make me a little nervous that she's going to break her neck!

She likes the show Wonder Pets. She'll sing "What's gonna work" and we'll sing "Teamwork" like the pets do in the show. She'll vary the pitch and tone and we sing it back in the same way.

When it's time for a new diaper we sing the diaper song... "Diaper, diaper for you!". Sometimes it's more of a howl than singing, but it's fun. For both of us!

She'll make up words to a song to fit whatever we are doing at the time. For example, "This is the way we go to school, go to school, go to school" Or, "The fork takes the hot dog, the fork takes the hot dog, hi-ho the derry-0, the fork takes the hot dog." Lately she's been trying to sing Frere Jacques but loses it after "Dormez-vous", so she'll begin again in English (Brother John).

She likes to help in the kitchen. Shredded cheese is called "sprinkles" because she likes to sprinkle it on food. She learned how to crack eggs (with help) when her Auntie came to visit. She is very good at pouring liquids for me and can also cut some things with her own cutting knife.

She has a big sweet tooth (just like her Mom - oh no!). If she sees us eating ice cream or hears a wrapper that sounds like a candy wrapper, she'll say "I want some". The other day I was opening a new dish sponge and the wrapper sounded like candy. She was disappointed when she realized it was only a sponge.

She knows her alphabet and sometimes she can count to 20.

She loves the library, the playground, the pool (but only if the water is heated), the beach, carousels, ferris-wheels, and all other "fun" spots. She also loves bubbles. Crayons are good but "big people" pens and markers are better.

Puzzles, mega-blocks, tea sets, lift-tab books, Little People, Rody, finger-paints, watercolors, and my exercise ball are all fun. In fact, almost anything can be made into entertainment. Empty paper towel tubes are telescopes, a single empty toilet paper roll can be a camera, two empty toilet paper rolls together are binoculars.

The maracas, whistle, kazoo, drum sticks, and electric keyboard are fun for making music, but anything that makes a repetitive sound is now called music. For example, the sound of her winter boot hitting the middle console in my car is now called music (until I take the boots off because I can't stand it when she "thumps" the car!).

Thomas videos and dvds are loved and she can now put them in and take them out of both the player and the cases.

She won't go to bed at night unless Hubs or I lay down with her. She hates to think she's missing something, so the whole house has to settle down at bedtime. If we don't sleep with her, it's a crap shoot as to whether or not she'll sleep through the night. If she wakes up and she's alone, she'll come to our room, climb into bed and fall right back to sleep.

When she gets tired she makes a sucking motion as if she's sucking on a pacifier or the inside of her cheek. She's always done this and she's never had a pacifier. She also likes to rub things when she's tired... the mattress, the blanket. If she's sitting on my lap and getting tired, she'll rub my arm. I think it's the repetitive motion that she likes.

She calls the "footie" pajamas the "slippery ones" because she slides a little on the hard wood floors at home.

She's adorably groggy when she first wakes up. As a baby she was most alert and the most fun in the mornings, but now she might be showing signs of being a night owl rather than a morning person.

She loves bath time and plays with her frogs, ducks, boots, and her kiwi bird cup. She'll put the washcloth in the cup and have it hanging out the top a little so it looks like an ice cream cone and she'll make believe she's licking it. She'll put the rubber ducks on top of the shampoo bottles and call it a space ship. She likes to wash the frogs. Two ducks will fit in the kiwi cup and it will become the ducks' pool.

Her all time favorite bedtime books right now are the Thomas books (she has 4). She also likes Curious George Takes a Job, Kat Kong and the Corduroy books (she also has 4). When we read Corduroy Goes To The Doctor she loves when we give her a make believe shot followed by a band-aid, a button and a balloon. She'll take the imaginary balloon from me and sometimes it will pop, other times she'll let go and it will float to the ceiling. It has a long string, so if she stands up in bed, she can reach it and grab it again. She'll also do the deep breath and wants her eyes and ears examined like Corduroy. She has most of the books memorized and if I try to skip a few words here or there, she'll make me go back and re-read the entire page. Sometimes we play "fill in the blank" where I will stop reading and ask her to finish the sentence or fill in a word. Most of the time she gets it exactly.

Lately she's been saying she wants to be a fire-fighter when she grows up so she can drive the fire truck. Today an ambulance and police car drove by us with their lights on, so today she wanted to be a police officer.

Every once in a while she lets someone play with her hair to put barrettes or ponytails in. We have dragonfly barrettes that are her favorite. They don't usually last long because she would rather pull them out of her hair and play with them.

When I pick her up at the end of the day, she'll run up to me and give me a hug and say "Mummy". And I love it.

She's Two

Last Friday Hubs and I did the daycare drop off together. We asked the teacher how things were going and the response we received isn't what I expected.

Our Sweetie doesn't like to take naps at school. She isn't always a fan of napping at home, but for some reason I thought things were different at school. According to the teacher, she will sing to herself and tell herself stories. The teacher will ask her to be quiet and nap and Sweetie will whisper, "We have to be quiet because our friends are sleeping" and then she'll continue singing.

One day last week Sweetie made one of her classmates cry when she surprised him with a tackle from behind. They don't think she's trying to hurt her classmates, but she doesn't seem to know when she's being too rough. We tried to work on this with her over the weekend, and the teacher said her "new thing" yesterday was to lean on her classmates rather than tackle them. She's bigger than a few of them, so the school still don't like this. I think it's an improvement.

Over the weekend, Sweetie spilled her drink a couple of times at home. I never saw her do it, I only saw the resulting puddle she was playing in, so I wasn't sure if it was intentional or not. Yesterday the teacher told us that she purposefully tipped over a classmate's milk during lunch.

For all my bitching about daycare, they seem to be ok with the behavior. "OK" in the sense that she's two and kids at two are learning what is appropriate behaviour (or not appropriate) and testing things out.

Monday, March 24, 2008


The blogger at disdressed posted a link to a NYT article about a photography project. A photographer started taking pictures of girls and all their pink stuff and boys and all their blue stuff. If I lived in the NYC area, I would love to check it out. There are a few pictures linked to the article and they are a bit distressing (as opposed to disdressed... get it? ha ha ha... ).

My family gives my daughter way too much stuff at holidays and throughout the year. It's done out of love and all, but it's not necessary and is a bit overwhelming. If I remember, I'll take a picture of my daughter sitting among ALL her stuff right before Thanksgiving and send it to my family so they can see that we really don't need a whole lot more stuff!

While I'm on the topic of stuff, check this out... http://www.storyofstuff.com/. To be honest, I've seen links to this site on other blogs and I received an email from my brother with the link, but I still haven't watched it. It's on my list of things to do. Go check it out and let me know what you think.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Have you heard about the story of the French woman who wanted to be euthanized? She was suffering from a painful, disfiguring, incurable form of cancer that caused facial tumors. The French government denied her request for assisted suicide two days before she was found dead. The article is here on cnn.com. According to the article, the cause of death is unclear.

What do you think? I don't have many details, but given what you know, would you consider assisted suicide?

In my opinion, quality of life would be shit due to the disfiguration, even without the pain. It is a fact that people are judged based on appearances, but for me that is not a reason to die.

The tumors caused the eyes to bulge, so I would guess she had vision issues. I don't think I would want to die because I was blind.

I would have to be in a lot of pain to truly want to die. It would have to literally be torturous. If I spent my entire waking life unable to think of anything else but the pain, then maybe I would consider death as an option.

There is the issue of money. I'm guessing I wouldn't be able to work which means no health insurance. It would be tough to be a financial burden. I think I would want to work with doctor's in a research capacity. I would be completely open to being a human test case to help future victims of the disease. Maybe I could work a deal to get free "treatment" if some of it was experimental.

The final decision point would be my daughter. I wouldn't want to miss any part of her life. So, as I sit her in my healthy, pain-free body, I'm going to say, nope I couldn't consider causing my own death to be an option. What can I say, death is BIG. No turning back. And not really my thing.

Now, what if it wasn't you, but if it was a friend of yours? Would you help them die?

It might not be the decision I would make, but if I felt she had really thought it through and that was her decision, I believe I would respect that. I wouldn't be able to actually do anything to cause her death to happen, but I wouldn't condemn her if she did something herself. I would carry out any post-mortem requests she had (i.e., helping her family, burial wishes, etc) and I would remember her respectfully.

It's an interesting decision to contemplate and I'm very grateful I don't have to (and hope I never do). As the saying goes, there but for the Grace of God go I.

P.S. I think it's funny that they day after I post about possible not blogging, I decide to post twice in one day!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Goodbye Auntie, Hello Knitting

My sister just left for the airport to fly home. She stayed with SPie and I the entire time my husband was away. I was bitchy and very bossy, but she's used to that and didn't seem to care. Except for last Sunday when she finally said, "Please stop talking to me." And the Sunday before that when she threw kids toys at me at the children's museum (thankfully they were the squishy balls and not the wood blocks). But other than that, it was a good visit!

SPie LOVED having Auntie here. They played trains, watched Thomas videos, and painted Easter eggs. They read books, sang silly songs, splashed in puddles and poked at the mud with sticks. What's not to love!

Thank you Auntie. Your stay made our time away from Hubs much easier to live through. Thanks to my nephew for loaning us his Mom for 18 days! Thanks to my Mom and my other sister for taking care of my nephew at home. It's a tangled little family web!

In other news, I've been inspired by all the craft blogs I read to start doing crafty things. Last night I took a knitting class.
If all goes well, this is going to grow up to be a scarf.

Hey, I just realized the time on this blog is still set for Sydney. I thought I had already fixed that...ugh! I'll try and fix it again. (I manually changed this one).


I just finished reading all the entries at "...so i stabbed him in the head with a fork". It was really interesting. She was very honest and open - neither of which I think I am on this blog. Not that I lie, but I just am not the type to put it all out there. I've told too many people about the blog. There are things that I don't mind total strangers reading, but I definitely don't want people I know to read!

When we were in Australia, this blog had a purpose. It was an easy place to post information and pictures about some of the fun stuff we were doing and share it with family and friends (and other bloggers that have been nice enough to stop by...hi there!).

Now that we are back, the blog doesn't seem as useful. We still don't live close to family or friends, but we are just doing the same day to day stuff that everyone else is doing. I'm not complaining. My life is good. But do I really need to share this stuff? Do you really care that I'm eating too many cookies?

I've been thinking about quitting and maybe starting a new blog and not giving the address to anyone I know in "real life". It could be a place to post more personal things. The problem with that is, I'm not sure that I would! My big fear is that someone finds the new blog and figures out they know me. Then I would be all exposed and what not!

I read a ton of blogs (to the detriment of my productivity at work) and I still love the idea of blogging. I just don't love the reality that is my blog. So, I'm not sure what to do with this space. I'm not ready to completely quit yet, but maybe soon...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Happy Evacuation Day

Did you know the city of Boston has St. Patrick's Day off for Evacuation Day?

Boston loves it's St. Patrick's Day celebrations! When I was young my Grandmother lived in a triple-decker in South Boston. I remember going to the city early and spending the day. Relatives I only saw once a year would all visit and we'd have corned beef and cabbage and watch the parade. I don't have any vivid memories of the actual parade. It's the "crowded in a good way" apartment with all those steps up and down, the food (Irish bread, boiled stuff and brownies for dessert with extra brownies to take home) and the sense of tradition that I remember.

I've got my own boiled dinner cooking at home in a crock pot. I've never used the crock pot for this before. It might be a completely over-done bowl of mush by the time we get home, but at least we can say we had it!

On Saturday, my sister and I went to Chicago (with SPie) to see the green river. I'll post some pictures later in the week, but you can check out a picture here (the first picture is the Chicago River). It really is cool. The water turns a great kelly green shade. We skipped the Chicago parade, but we did spend some time walking around and snapping photos. Everyone was very friendly and we had a good day.
Hubs is on his way home! He called this morning on his way through Canada. He'll be staying with relatives in Detroit tonight and we should all be together for dinner tomorrow! I AM SO HAPPY!
Daycare drop off was great today. We walked in and SPie said hello to everyone (not by name, but she waved and said "hi friends"). Some of the children actually said hello to her by name! She jumped right into the activities and the teacher actually smiled. Maybe it's the luck o' the Irish!
Here are two Irish expressions for you. The first is one I've heard for years and the second is one I just found on the internet here (I love the internet!).

May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future.

May your neighbors respect you,
Troubles neglect you,
The angels protect you,
And Heaven accept you.

Friday, March 14, 2008


We saw 4 deer grazing in the field across from our apartment complex this morning. It was so nice to see!

The entire morning went well. SPie slept in a little and things went much smoother. I was 30 minutes later for work, but it was worth it. Daycare drop off was so smooth thanks to the gymnastics class that was going on when we arrived. She loves the class and ran to give the gymnastics teacher a big hug. It was so nice to see.

Now for my daily day care complaint (believe me, I wish had nothing to complain about as much as you wish I would stop complaining!)...
Everyday I bring SPie to school with boots on and change her into crocs to wear in the classroom. I leave the boots in her bin with her hats and mittens. I noticed the crocs are looking a little dirty, so today I asked the teacher if they change her into the boots when they go outside. No, they don't! That's right, in the cold of Illinois, they have been taking my daughter outside with crocs on! Even though there is a perfectly good pair of boots sitting in her cubbie! Can't they see there are holes in crocs!!! Don't they know holes are not good for little feet in the cold outside???

I was so floored I didn't say anything. When I could finally speak again, I asked if they've been putting the hat and mittens on her. Thankfully, they have been. At least that's something. Granted, I did not explicitly explain that crocs were for indoor wear only, but I didn't think I had to!

I called the Hubs and he wants me to speak with the school director. I'm a little concerned about doing this because I don't want an annoyed teacher to treat my daughter worse because we've complained. I'll have to think about it over the weekend. I'm sure there is a positive way that I can spin this.

I was thinking of expressing some of my concerns to the director along with some "suggestions" that might resolve my concerns. A few suggestions I had were to have the children's pictures on the birthday balloons so the parent's can know all the children, have the children bring in family photos for a picture board and have the teachers provide a weekly lesson plan with the planned activities for the week. I was also thinking of a first day classroom orientation for parents. It wasn't until the 2nd week that I noticed the bulletin board with the daily activities. It would have been great if someone had pointed it out the first day.

If you have any ideas from your own daycare/preschool experiences, I would love to hear them.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I Want to See My Daddy

The last words from SPie as I was leaving her at daycare in a crying heap on the teacher's lap, "I want to see my Daddy."

It was not a good morning.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Is it so Hard to Say Hello?... And Other Daycare Complaints

During daycare pick up last night and drop off this morning another parent has come in to pick up/drop off their child while I'm there. I always say hello to the parent and to their child. In fact, many times the other children will come up and stand in front of me as I'm getting SPie ready, so I always talk to them and say goodbye when I leave. The other children bring me their books and toys on a regular basis. They seem to like the conversation and so do I (maybe I should have been a pre-school teacher).

Back to my point...I'm finding the parents don't say hello back! How rude is that?? What kind of example is that?? I don't care how rushed you are, you can say hello. And I don't mean an unintelligible mumble or grunt. Form the word, speak up and say hello! I'm not asking them to stop whatever else they are doing. I'm not expecting a conversation, just a simple greeting. These kids spend about 10 hours a day with each other. It would be great if we could recognize each other and be cordial.

The head teacher in my daughter's room may be a wonderful person, but she's very friendly either. At my child's prior day care, each child was greeted and made to feel welcome as they entered. The children were encouraged to learn each other's names as well as the teacher's names. I've asked my daughter about the other children in her class and she has no idea what their names are. She calls the teachers "the girls". That is just so wrong! Now when we arrive, I encourage her to say good morning to her teacher by name, but truthfully, I'm always worried that the teacher isn't going to respond.

The communication about the day is horrible as well. By the time I pick up, the main teachers are gone and there is only a student-teacher left. She arrives at 3pm and has no idea what happened before she arrived. There is a white board where some activities are written, but it would be great to have someone available who knows about the entire day. For example, the center has Spanish lessons two days a week. The white board says, "we had Spanish class today". What does that tell me? Nothing I didn't already know. It would be helpful to know what words or activities they did in Spanish class. What if I wanted to reinforce whatever the lesson was with some practice at home? Too bad for me. Yesterday the board said, "we painted eggs". Great, but can I see the eggs? We pay extra for gymnastics lessons on Friday. Last Friday I didn't receive any information about the lesson, so I asked if they had class. I didn't ask what they did during gymnastics, I just want to know if they had the class. The student-teacher didn't know because the class happens before 3pm and she wasn't there!

It's only the third week, so maybe I'm just being too judgemental. SPie is happy at the end of the day, so it can't be that bad. We actually have another facility picked out for the fall. Unfortunately, the other school starts at age 3, so she's too young to attend now. We have 5 1/2 months left at this school. I hope we know all the classmates names by then.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Need a Schedule

SPie's schedule (and my schedule) is completely screwed up. Over the weekend, the naps went out the window since we were doing stuff and we aren't back on track yet.

Saturday we visited Chicago - tons of stuff to see. We didn't even scratch the surface! She was excited about the train and the trolley's, so she didn't nap until we were driving home at 5:30. She was still asleep at 7, so I thought she was going to sleep through the night. At 9:30 she appeared in the living room ready to play! UGH! We were up until midnight (really 11, but with the time change it was midnight). I actually fell asleep while she watched a video. When it ended, she woke me up. How sad.

Sunday we went to the Dupage Children's Museum and again had a late nap.

Yesterday, we went to the library on the way home. I really thought we would be in and out in 30 minutes. There was story time at 7, so we stayed. She loved it, but we didn't have dinner until 8:30!

The "late" nights have been making the morning a nightmare. I get all cranky because we're running late and I start snapping. This really isn't fair to SPie since it's my fault that we haven't been to bed on time. So, tonight we are having dinner, a bath, and going to bed. There will be no stops on the way home and no activities. Dinner, bath, bed. Dinner, bath, bed.
Follow ups:
(1.) The "no cookies at lunch" thing was delayed a day. My lunch yesterday was awful (fish pizza - way too salty. yuck!), so I had a cookie to make up for it. Today I'm doing my errands at lunch (so we can have "dinner, bath, bed"!) and eating at home, so I'll be able start the "no cookies at lunch" today.

(2.) Daycare drop off has been ever so slightly easier since we are arriving later in the morning. The kids are already in their classrooms, so she doesn't have to go to the atrium. She's still clingy in the classroom, but not as bad.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Freshman 15

My client gives us loads of free food and it's catching up with me. Two weeks in and I can feel the fit of my clothes changing for the worse. A co-worker called it the "client 15" rather than the "freshman 15" and I think she's right.

For lunch we can choose from a salad bar, pizza bar, 2 soups, a full deli, a grill, pasta bar, and a hot entree special. For example, this week they've had an open faced tilapia sandwich, a really good mushroom and spinach pizza, fried chicken, eggplant lasagna and today's entree is Salmon Papillote with Lyonaise Potatoes and Cleric Root Puree. That sounds delicious. And it's free. On the way out of the cafeteria, there are free cookies and brownies. That's what really gets me. I have a HUGE sweet tooth and enjoy 1 -2 cookies everyday.

The kitchen by my workstation has snacks and fruit. I love fruit, but I usually choose the snacks. Mmmm...Fritos! I never buy fritos for home, so this has been a real treat.

My sister and I are thinking of doing the leek soup "fix" from the book French Women Don't Get Fat. We're going to the library this weekend to pick up a copy and I think we'll start on Monday. It would make more sense to do it over the weekend, but we're heading to the city on Saturday and have plans for brunch on Sunday, so we can't be dieting. Come Monday, it's no more lunch cookies for me! Maybe. Unless it's a special occasion. Or Friday. I let you know how it goes.

Daycare drop off was a little better today. She was excited when we pulled up to the school, but didn't want to go to the atrium for the big playgroup time. I have the feeling that she likes the classroom time, but not the free-for-all of the atrium. When I picked her up yesterday, she wanted to stay and play with everyone rather than go home, so overall I think she's happy.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Daycare Drop Off

SPie is back at daycare for the first time this week. It's only her second week, so it's her 6th day. This is the first time I have dropped her off and I hated it. Before 8 am, drop off is in one big room for a large group playtime. I stayed to watch her for a few minutes and my little Sweetie looked so lost. She wasn't playing with any of the other kids and kept looking back at me. Granted, it probably didn't help that I was watching, but I hated seeing her like that. I know she loves daycare because everyday when I pick her up she doesn't want to leave and is very happy. I'm sure it's just that she's had 5 days away from everyone and needs to get her bearings again. I still hated it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I might go cry in the ladies room before I start my work day.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Laughing At Myself

The past few days at work, I have been about as graceful as an elephant. On Friday I stretched my legs under the table and hit the power cord for the server that connects everyone in the room (about 8 of us) to the client's network. ZAP - we were all shutdown. Yesterday my chair got stuck under my table and I had to yank it out causing the entire table to shake. Not a huge deal except that I share the table with someone. Today I was trying out a new reusable water bottle and it leaked all over me... UGH! I think the guy sitting next to me is getting a little nervous.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Out of Balance

Things are not right today. Hubs had to go home for a few weeks. He totally takes care of me and SPie, so this is a major loss. Wait...I'm not sure that came out as positive as I meant... of course I would miss him even if he just sat on the couch all day, but he doesn't just sit on the couch, so I miss him even more...did that come out any better? Well, I hope you get the point. It sucks that he's gone.

So, my sister flew in yesterday to visit and help out with SPie. I'm glad she is here because SPie has a horrible case of the sniffles and a bad cough. She's home from daycare today and having fun hanging out with Auntie! Calling in sick in my second week of work due to a sick child would not be good. For various reasons I don't have my medical insurance at my new job yet, so I really hope SPie gets better soon... like today!

Hubs had to take his laptop home with him, so I don't have a computer at home. I cannot tell you how many times I went to find the computer to look something up. Being in a new place, I use Google maps almost every time I go somewhere. I am so sad not to have a computer.

To top of the personal disruptions, my client laid off 30 people last week including one of the Project Managers for the project I'm working on and two contractors from another company. I'm hoping my position is secure. I don't imagine the client would have signed the contract to hire me 3 weeks ago if they planned on ending the project.

I hope you are having a more balanced day than I am. I’m sure tomorrow will be better. (I sound like little Orphan Annie!)


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Power Sharing in Kenya

Hiya. I just read this article on cnn.com; Kenya rivals sign power-sharing deal.

President Mwai Kibaki will remain President and Raila Odinga will be Prime Minister. Both leaders urged an end to the violence. This is such good news. I hope it works!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Money in Warming

Check out this article at Bloomberg.com; Global Warming Melts New Sea Lanes for Norilsk, ConocoPhillips . It talks about how the melting caused by global warming is going to allow companies to make money and save money by sailing over the top of the world.

In other sad news, Kofi Annan has halted the talks in Kenya. They were going nowhere, so he's stopped them. He did say he will hold individual talks with each side.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Arrived and Moved In

We took 3 days to drive from the Boston area to the Chicago area. It doesn't have to take that long, but we took it slow with a U-haul in tow. It was a very relaxing drive! Fortunately, we had clear weather for almost the entire trip.

The apartment is decent. Upstairs is the master bedroom, bath, walk-in closet and a loft that we made into SPie's bedroom. Downstairs has a second bedroom that we've made into SPie's playroom. We surprised her with a train set and hung Thomas the Train wall stickers around the room. She loves it. She hates to have her picture taken, but she actually wanted to have her picture taken next to the Thomas stickers!

Monday is our new beginnings day; SPie starts daycare and I start work. Wish us luck!

The playroom:

The view from our apartment (it's very flat out here!)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

More Free Stuff

I've been reading a number of blogs by women who are reviewing their finances, so this is a timely give a way.

Until 8/7c tonight you can download a free copy of Suze Orman's book, Women & Money. Click here for the link to the page on Oprah's site. Then scroll down until you see the book. It's offered in both Spanish and English.

Read and $ave!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Give Away Contest

GreenStyleMom is giving away 2 reusable water bottles made by SIGG. If you need reusable water bottles, check out the contest here: http://greenstylemom.blogspot.com/2008/02/sigg100-giveaway.html).

I went to the sigg website and took their 10 question global warming IQ quiz. I only got two correct! Give it a try and let me know how you do ....
(http://sigg100.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=27&Itemid=39). My guess is that I'm not the only one that doesn't know the answers!

If you check out the sigg 100 site, don't forget to enter for a trip to Hawaii.

Good luck on the give-aways!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Cleaning Out

We've been cleaning out as we pack. In the past two weeks, we've recycled about 12 bags of shredded paper from old files, donated 3 bags of toys/clothes/and general stuff, and donated 1 bag of children's books (lucky little Sweetie-Pie had duplicates). I've also purged and partially organized a bunch of old pictures (going back almost 20 years!). I had hoped to get the pictures into albums, but I don't have time for that right now. Maybe during next year's clean out.

I've also re-discovered ebay! I have a few things on ebay now and people have actually bid on them! I forgot how exciting it is to get money for the stuff that was just sitting in my house. Now I'm searching the house for other things to sell.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Countdown

In 10 days we will be on the road to Chicago!

Before then we have to pack, do our taxes, refinance the house, pack, start looking through the daycare materials, pack, have the cars checked out, buy real snow boots, and pack!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Home is Where the Heat Is

I took SPie out for a walk over the weekend and she kept saying it was too windy and cold and she wanted to go home. We cut the walk short and went home, but she still kept saying, "We need to go home". I think she really misses the warm weather of Australia!

She's going to be even more upset with our next move. On Friday we made the final decision; we are going to Naperville, IL (oustide Chicago). One day last week, the weather channel listed the temp at -1F. SPie better start loving her hat and mittens or she's going to be an unhappy popsicle!

We leave Boston on the 17th and I start my new assignment on the 25th. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Language of Mediation

I love the language and phrasing that Kofi Annan uses in this statement.

"To the leaders gathered here today, I say this: The people need you, they want you to take charge of the situation and do whatever possible to halt the downward spiral into chaos that is threatening this beautiful and prosperous country. You have to act with urgency."

It appeals to the leaders sense of power with the words "need" and "take charge". The phrasing "beautiful and prosperous country" shows respect for the region and is a reminder that Kenya was a viable economic area. Ending with the call to "act with urgency" leaves no doubt about the purpose for the mediation talks.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pride and Prejudice

Images, pictures and descriptions of violence stay with me forever, so I try to avoid them. As a result, I don't watch the news and am basically ignorant about what is happening in the world. However, I have just started listening to NPR while driving to and from work.

One story that has my attention is the ongoing violence and unrest in Kenya. For those that don't know (as I didn't until recently), Raila Odinga was elected President in September 2007. He ran as leader of the Orange Democratic Movement party. In December 2007, the Kenyan election commission declared Mwai Kibaki the President. Odinga believes the ruling is fraudulent and Kibaki should step down or call another election. Of course, Kibaki does not agree. As a result, members of the Kikuyu tribe (who support Kibaki) and Luos and Kalenjins (who support Odinga) have been rioting and murdering.

Last week Kofi Annan (former U.N. chief) led the first meeting between President Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga. There was hope that this meeting would lead to some peace in the area, but it did not. After the meeting, the President used language that Odinga and his people found insulting and more violence ensued.

I know nothing of the history, but the news stories state a long history of hatred between the various tribes. The conflict over who is the "rightful" President appears to be the tip off for the rioting, but the real reason seems to be rooted in the racial issues. In an interview I heard on NPR, Odinga said he asked his supporters to stop the violence, but it didn't sound truthful.

I'm fascinated by people like Kofi Annan who attempt to mediate a resolution. I've always admired people who have the vision to see resolution to large, difficult and seemingly unsolvable issues. In one interview on NPR, a Kenyan politician was offended when the interviewer asked about compromise. The politician said, "this is not a good word". If the leaders are not willing to compromise, what hope is there?

The violence is frightening to me. Stories like this make me wonder what I would do if riots started in my neighborhood. How could I protect my family? If it seemed to be ongoing, would I try to outrun it and leave? Would there be somewhere safe to go? Who could help? This is why I hate "the news". I don't want to think of a riot in my neighborhood or think of my daughter living in such unrest.

I also start to wonder what I, in my little suburb in the US, can do to make life better for those in Kenya? Nothing that I can see. I suppose raising a child that has values will help the future in general terms. I wonder if Odinga and Kibaki were taught that it is ok to admit that you have made a mistake, that it might be ok to be flexible in your opinion for the greater good, that people in the other tribes are very similar to yourself. I'm guessing not, or at least not effectively. So, I'll try to effectively teach my daughter the basic values. Who knows, maybe some day she'll be a mediator brokering peace for a country in need.

Today I'll send out a few silent wishes...

For Kofi Annan - that he have the vision and the words that the politicians will accept that will lead to a resolution of this latest conflict and open the door to preventing future internal conflicts.

For Kibaki and Odinga - that they can learn to compromise, let go of past hatreds, and be leaders that can promote and maintain a stable, healthy and diverse community.

For everyone with children in their lives - that we can teach them the values and skills that will lead to a good and peaceful life.

For my little SweetiePie - that she never has personal experience with the violence and fear that so many people in the world live with everyday.

- Peace

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Recycle Plastic or Conserve Water?

I had a Jello Pudding Cup as a snack at work and decided to take the cup home to recycle it. Before taking it home, I washed it out.

Which is better, to use water to clean the cup so I can recycle or to save the water and just throw the cup out? I suppose I could just wipe it out with a napkin and not use water, but then again... use a paper napkin to recycle or just throw it out?

This "green" thing is tricky!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Back to It

Today is my first day back in the office after "the big trip home". I hadn't used my work laptop in 8 months, so it took almost the entire day to get that going again (it had issues and needed to be rebuilt). I have a phone and I know the voice mail password, but I can't get it to stop forwarding my calls to the Blackberry. The best thing of all is that I have a desk! Before I left, I was in a temporary space... long tables with outlets and everyone just sat in whatever seat was free. Now I have my own cube (how sad that I'm so excited about a cube...once upon a time I actually had my own office... with a window... things have changed * sigh *).

It's kind of nice to be back to the familiar, but I'm sure it will irritate me soon enough.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

On The Road

We are about half way through our trip home...

From Sydney we flew to Honolulu and spent 4 days in Hawaii; 1 day sleeping (jet lag - but we did see the sunset!), 1 day at the pool and at Waikiki beach (SPie loved the beach), and two days in rainy Hilo. We were scheduled to go on a helicopter tour of the volcanoes, but it was rained out. Instead we drove around the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (cool to see, but wet).

On Christmas day we flew to California where we spent 3 days visiting relatives. We were completely spoiled with home cooked meals and the most comfortable bed I think I've ever slept in. It was great to see family and to have SPie spend time with her cousins.

As we drove, we tried to stay off the highways and visit sites along the way. We went through a small part of the Sequoia National Park (most of it is closed for the winter), drove down the strip in Las Vegas at night, stopped at the Hoover Dam, spent 1/2 a day at the Grand Canyon and visited the ruins at the Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico.

We missed a few things we tried to see. The Grand Canyon Caverns, Four Corners and the Navajo National Monument were all closed by the time we arrived. We also wanted to see the rock in Shiprock, New Mexico, but our timing was off and we drove through at night so we couldn't see anything. Most of these stops were things we picked off the map as we drove, so it's not such a big deal, but the Four Corners does bug me a little. It's only closed 3 days a year and we were in the area for one of them!

Yesterday we had a fun day visiting with friends in Albuquerque. We spent most of the day at the Explora Science Center which is full of hands on exhibits that were good for SPie, but also interesting to us.

...8 days to go before we are home