Sunday, March 30, 2008

Overheard and totally in context

Mr. Outdoors: I'm heading out for a hike. Be back in an hour or so.

Me [absentmindedly...typing]: Great. Have fun.

Mr. O [insert attitude here]: Are you going to be on the computer all day?

Me [still typing]: Yep. Gotta get all our tax stuff finished.

Mr. O: Well, you're not doing that now.

Me: I'm not in the mood now. I'm in the mood to be blogging.

Mr. O: [growl]

Me: Bye. Have fun.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Birthday gifts: a two-way street

The light of my life turns two today -- the sunny, funny crazy little boy I call Muggsy. The second child, the one I wasn't supposed to have...literally and figuratively.

He arrived on a day that wrapped up six weeks of chaos, nine months of holy-shit-what-have-we-done, and marked a turning point in life as I knew it.

My body was aging, chronically damaged from a series of quarrels with various unwelcome bacterial inhabitants, and hadn't cooperated in conceiving for almost three years. Between surprisingly early hormonal shifts and an assortment of other afflictions, I had settled into parenting an only child.

So had Mr. Outdoors -- our little girl, the one who has him wrapped so tightly around that pinky of hers, took every last available piece of his heart, head and funny bone. He said he didn't have enough to give a second child.

Sometimes our Higher Power has either a better plan or a wicked sense of humor. Most days I think it's the latter.

In the course of 3 weeks, we signed paperwork to start a business from scratch, took a 10-day trip to Alaska (our last major vacation before business ownership would take that freedom away), and THEN found out we were no longer going to be parents of An Only.

My head spinning, I had to reconcile that we would be giving birth to a business and a baby at just about the same time, that our house at the time was not the home within which to raise two children, and my career in Corporate America would need a serious review. I hid my pregnancy until my 6th month -- I was the first female VP among a dozen others and I had a target on my back. This child was going to really, really complicate things.

We had a wariness, an expectation that things would be topsy-turvy. Of course, when we found out we were having a boy and none of the stuff we had for MiniMe would be suitable for re-use, we stoically accepted that as part of the deal. We had long ago given away all the other toddlerhood gear since...well, we wouldn't need it.

Then came attention to the nest. Moving to a new place had come up a few times before, mostly because Mr. Outdoors sold his house and moved into mine so it never really felt like "our" place. Even so, after 8 years it just became a matter of practicality. All the stuff! Moving would suck.

But, as luck and manic hormonal drive would have it, we found the perfect house for the perfect price at the perfect time -- I had issued a moratorium on house hunting if we hadn't succeeded by that point. We moved into our new house February 15, opened our business March 15 and Muggsy joined us March 28.

My head still spins when I think back on that time. Since then our business has folded, I left my career position and got sued for the way I did it, and our house is relatively unimproved because those kind of things require disposable income. The failed business and the lawsuit have taken away all of it and then some.

So much, though, is better. I've gotten to see MiniMe embrace her role as Big Sister, teaching and leading and occasionally wielding the power that is granted first borns. I watch the evolution as Mr. Outdoors bonds with the other man in the house ("Pull my finger...quick!") and has somehow found all the necessary room in his heart for both kids. I get the unbridled energy of this little boy who can make my worst day away from him into the best day ever once we're back together. We are a family of four, and I can't imagine it any other way.

Muggs, you're the best thing that ever happened to all of us. Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I can name that tune coffee in two notes words

Does it make paying $5.00 for a coffee seem worth it?

You know, to be able to use as many secret code words as possible to order it?

I may be one of only 17 people on the face of the planet that go into Starbucks and order in two words.

I take turns with a colleague of mine when we travel and need to make our Starbucks run. Her drink of choice is a venti iced decaf Americano, no water, ice to the top, two inches of nonfat milk, with 3 Splendas. Unless it's exceptionally cold that day, in which case it's a venti decaf Americano to the syrup line, two inches of nonfat milk and 3 Splendas.

We had the chance a few weeks ago to actually sit and enjoy ourselves together instead of being on the go and she freaked me out by ordering something different. I was so out of sorts as a result of her digression that I can't even remember what it was. No matter, she's getting her Americano any time it's my turn. It's committed to memory.

I've been chewed out by barristas everywhere for ordering it her way instead of as a venti with 4 shots which is the same thing, but my colleague has figured out that a venti with no water is, in fact, cheaper than a venti with 4 shots (trust me, this is part of her charm -- she's also been known to ask servers for their home phone numbers so she can call them at 3am if she got non-decaf by mistake, but that's fodder for a whole other post). I just smile and excuse myself for being such an enfant, then place my own simpleton order.

I'm such a rebel.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hippity Hoppity Ho Ho Ho!

Declan Greeblemonkey apparently shares the imagination gene with at least one member of the Schaererville household.

[at the mall, Seasonal Home of the Easter Bunny, watching other kids get photographed because someone is afraid to do it herself]

MiniMe: Mom, I know who is the real Easter Bunny.

Me: Oh?

MiniMe: Yeah, it's really Santa Claus who dresses up in a bunny costume.

Me: Why do you think that?

MiniMe: 'Cuz there is no way the Easter Bunny can get around the entire world in one night like Santa can.

Many thanks to Aimee Greeblemonkey for reminding me that these little snippets of childhood wisdom are the true jewels of a blog archive.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lemonade, anyone?

Waiting to exhale. That's what it is. I've been trying to gather my thoughts into a concise and pragmatic little package -- and then Erin at Expecting Executive captured it to a T.

Between this disturbingly overwrought presidential campaign, a looming recession being driven by so many diverse influences from an unnecessary war to an economic fiasco of sub-prime lending proportion, and an overall vibration of dischord, I've just felt...unnerved. Waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for the winds to change, or, yes -- waiting to exhale.

I'm an optimist to the nth degree, the one always looking over the rainbow, seeing silver linings, and making lemonade. It's in my DNA. I'm cheerful. It's annoying, and I can't help it. Trust me, though, there are some days when I just want to be pissed off at what has been dealt to us, mire in the role of victim and hate the entire world.

But then I drink a bottle of wine get a good night's sleep and there's a whole bright new world out there to appreciate again. There are so very many people who are in a situation ten times worse than ours.

Yes, 2008 will be a turning point for the whole country with the election, recession and what happens with the Iraq War. It will also be a turning point for us personally. In spite of what 2007 brought to us (a failed business, a civil lawsuit, and a financial hole that is six figures deep among other delightfully challenging tests of our character), I have a pretty long list of great things to be jonesin' about this year:

Mr. Outdoors now has a job. A great job. A better one than he's ever had, including the one right before we thought quitting Corporate America and buying a business would be fun.

The Best Friends are moving back here after a 6 year absence. This is the best man from our wedding, the one Mr. Outdoors irrevocably bonded with in college, the only family we even considered when we inked the guardianship paperwork for our kids if we ever leave this world in an unplanned way. But then again, Mr. Outdoors + The Best Man x Whiskey = Trouble, so check back with me in six months and see if it's still on this list.

My mother-in-law is coming to visit from Switzerland for the month of May -- to meet her almost 2-year-old grandson for the first time.

In the world of small families, extended in-laws are inner circle. My brother-in-law's sister is moving here for a new job, and she's always been a good friend. And it also means that my own always-too-busy sister may finally get her family on an airplane and visit after four years of steadfast excuse-making, now that the only two aunts her boys have will be in the same city.

My brother-in-law (the one on the Mr. Outdoors side of the gene pool) will be bringing his family here for a visit this summer, also all the way from Switzerland. We haven't seen him since fall 2000, so, if you do the math, they have never met our kids.

This is the last year my mom will work until finally retiring in December. That means she'll start spending her summers here and winters there (there = Florida, the other side of the continent...too far away).

I have found my passion in blogging. It's like public therapy. Can it get any better?

But, at the top of my list as always, are this:

and this:

and this:

I'm off to make another batch of lemonade...although it might need some vodka in it.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

An Engineer, A Surgeon, 2 mountain bikes, and lots of beer food

Or, What I Don't Want to Know About The Boys Trip.

Mr. Outdoors is 6 hours into his annual trip. He's entertaining me with an iPhone journey of photographs. There will be others who join he and Dr. Chaos for , food, , drinking, , camping, and general y-chromosome comraderie. I can only imagine what else will come my way before Sunday.

This is the truck as they left town (Do you see it there? Toward the back? Yeah, that. The kitchen sink. Remember, they also have an X chromosome).

Clearly, there is not enough food in all those bins in the back. RELOAD! More chips, cookies and beer! And firewood. To roast those wild rabbits they are going to hunt, skin and eat for the protein part of the food pyramid. Dr. Chaos is feeling better already, now that he's gotten back in touch with his Inner Redneck.

And, just because no adventure is complete without side trips to local attractions, there was a visit to Colorado City. Home of Warren Jeffs and his wacky world of polygamy. No way, guys. Trust me when I say that ONE WIFE IS ENOUGH FOR EACH OF YOU.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Milky Ways and Dog Houses*

In the working-world part of my life, I have a free-spirited approach to interacting with my colleagues. I have this silly little thing about me that makes people arch an eyebrow occasionally, especially when I'm in the company of senior leaders.

What silly little thing would that be, you ask? Why, the one that is most appropriate for a workplace environment, of course. Yes, the one that just screams "Respect me!" in a management meeting. The one that no one will admit to being even remotely interested in until...

...The Reading. I'm talking Astrology. Natal charts to be exact.

And hooooOOOOOO boy, does the office get interesting when the natal charts come out.

I've been unabashedly sharing my hobby with co-workers for over 12 years. I have a well-worn, dog-eared book called Do It Yourself Astrology by Lyn Birkbeck with mini-reports for planets and signs. It's always provided an entertaining but not really individualized natal chart experience. I've used it mostly to lighten up office know, to complement the inevitable nails on a chalkboard rousing and pitch-perfect rendition of "Happy Birthday to You."

Although the book can conveniently be carried into a conference room tucked under a jacket when necessary, I'm all about growth and learning. So Mr. Outdoors rolled his eyes and reluctantly agreed I could buy delighted me by giving me natal charting and reporting sofware for Christmas last year. Oh, the journey I'm on!

Speaking of journeys, I've worked for my current company since last summer. It's a company that prides itself on intellectual property that is based in behavioral research data. LOTS of research data. Proven theories...evidence-based methods...PhDs coming out of our ears.

My first week on the job, I got prodded into the conference room for An Office Birthday. Oooh! An opportunity to bond with my new colleagues and read from my handy-dandy little book!

The collective pucker as I started quoting natal chart reports was undeniable. The PhDs were shifting in their shoes. Tachycardia was passing like a wave through the Programmers. Even the Receptionist was staring blankly at my neck as I read about Venus in Leo and Sagittarius Rising.

But being the stubborn Taurus that I am, I've persisted with my little workplace hobby. And, with the help of a particularly crafty co-worker, have succeeded in extracting the sparkling fairy dust (translation: birth date, birth time, and birth place) to produce natal charts on one who is regarded as possibly the most untouchable person in our midst.

Yep, it's gonna get interesting. I have his charts and am ready to debunk his myth.

*Title courtesy of a former boss who had more than mild disdain for my hobby.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I know of at least one, anyway...

Now this is enlightening. I'm pretty confident I could take my own five-year-old and 13 of her closest friends in a physical battle, but in a battle of wits? Not so much.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Political Hilarity is not an oxymoron

I love clever writing and unexpected combinations of words. My Google Reader feeds me minute-by-minute examples of each from my beloved world of blogs. Between Geraldine Ferraro's foot-to-mouth-insertion and Eliot Spitzer's demonstration of how not to throw rocks when living in a glass house, the fodder is just flying around the pundit blogs.

A comment on this blog hit both my funny bone and my appreciation for the aforementioned cleverness:

"It just goes to show that hypocricy [sic] is a non-partisan, equal opportunity character flaw. No politician pees perfume."

I now have a new thought in my head whenever I use my own perfume.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Thoroughly pickled. [hicc] I mean tickled.

Oh, Thursdays. I remember back when Thursday was all about laying the plan for the weekend. Calling around to the inner circle of partners in crime friends, rooting around the closet to configure a suitably amazing outfit or two, guessing who would be most likely to be where and how to get there myself, and pull together the necessary funds to get through this social whirlwind waiting like a jewel at the end of the week.

Now? Not so much.

Thursday is just the day before Friday. Only one more day of juggling kids, job, house, errands, bills, and mundane life details until the weekend. Ahhhhhh, the weekend. Catching up, cleaning and straightening, snowshoeing/hiking/biking/skiing or something else outdoorsy, and maybe...just maybe...finding a few hours after the kids have gone to bed to enjoy a cocktail -- or three -- while working on my blog.

But this week, Thursday is different. I'm all twittery. I'm planning for Friday and maybe even Saturday nights. You see, I've been invited to join The Weekend Blog Hoppers. Oh, the possibilities! The fulfillment! The friends to be made!

When the pickling sets in, Maxwell becomes Mashwell and that's how you know I'm BHoppin' for the Weekend.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

End of an Era

He's threatened this before, but this time I think it's for real. Packer fans (and football fans of all teams) will miss this one-of-a-kind quarterback AND person. A true role model in a sport that's too often tarnished by character flaws.

He's broken Dan Marino’s career records for most touchdown passes and most yards passing and John Elway’s record for most career victories by a starting quarterback. No other quarterback can touch his consecutive regular-season starts (253 games — trademark toughness, especially with Lambeau Field as home). With playoffs, the streak stands at 275.

He retires with 5,377 career completions in 8,758 attempts for 61,655 yards, 442 touchdowns and 288 interceptions.
Thanks for keepin' it real, Brett. We'll miss you.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Mars trumps Venus. Every time.

We were riding off on yet another snowshoe adventure recently, with new-ish friends. Guys in front, girls in back. The conversation wanders and eventually lands on how Mr. Outdoors and I met.

Mrs. Friend: Didn't you guys meet hiking or skiing or something?

Mr. Outdoors: I know better, but I'll let her tell it.

Me: Omigosh it is such a crazy convoluted story because I was working as a media buyer and one of my ad reps was coming to Utah because he was originally from here but lived in LA so trips back to ski were great ways to come home and I loved to ski so we went up one afternoon and he said that there was this other friend who might hang out and do a few runs with us and she ended up meeting us after the first chair and her name is KathyO and she worked in the same industry as me so we got to talking and then we made plans to meet up for more skiing the next weekend and when I met up with her that weekend I also met another guy named Spencer who was kinda like the mayor of everywhere because he seemed to know everyone and we all went skiing for the rest of the afternoon together and then bumped into each other a few more times before the season was over including the last official day at the resort for the season and that day there were a bunch of new people in the group to meet like this guy named Jason who said that his roommate was too hungover to have made it skiing that day but said hi to everyone and they all just laughed because they apparently knew this roommate and thought it was funny that he was hungover but since I had no idea who he was I just did the polite laugh along with everyone and we skied the rest of the day together and ended up doing some other fun things that spring like hiking and biking and then the ad rep was back in town and said that one of his friends was taking his boat out to the lake for waterskiing and we should go so I snuck out of work early that afternoon and met up with him at the lake but by then it was pouring rain so we just sat in his Jeep while Spencer and the boat owner and the other people in the group sat in their cars and then we decided that the rain and lightning wouldn't quit so we all just left but then met up again over the 4th of July and my sister and good friend Maureen were in town so we went to Spencer's house because he knew the secret trail to the top of Red Butte Gardens where we could watch the fireworks from the top which is cool because you can see all the different displays across the valley and while we were there he kept saying that he wished his buddy could have come but the guy took off to Yellowstone National Park instead because he needed to get away so it was just Spencer and his harem which came to be something I noticed about Spencer because I always made new girlfriends whenever I hung out with him since he seemed to have a lot of girls around him and it was no different when I got talked into a mountain bike ride a few weeks later with that same ad rep and Spencer and a whole bunch of other people that included about a dozen girls who were all gathered around him when I arrived with the ad rep who was also trying to make everyone there think that I was with him in that special way and KathyO was there too so I went over to talk to her to get away from the ad rep and she was talking to a guy and I overheard her ask him how he was doing and he said something like he was still moving dirt so I conclude he's in construction and then everyone starts heading to vehicles so we can get to the trailhead and the ad rep and I end up in the back of a pickup truck and as we then unload bikes at the trailhead I take a trial spin on my borrowed bike because I've never ridden one before much less on a 24 mile canyon to canyon ride and as I'm riding I pass by Spencer and his dirt moving friend and Spencer says I need air in a tire so I stop and let him pump it up while I try and talk to his friend who also has never been on a ride like this before and points out his Kmart Huffy bike from college to make his point and then my tires are fully inflated and we're ready to go so we all hop on our bikes and head for the trail when KathyO sees me kinda struggling and asks if I've ever ridden before and when I say no she tells me that uphill I should use the grab bars and downhill I should get my ass off the saddle and away she goes while I look up at what they told me was Puke Hill and think I have probably made one of the worst decisions in recent years along with Spencer's dirt moving friend who is also struggling but in a much worse position than me because he doesn't have grab bars or more than about 5 working gears so we make a mutual decision to use our bikes as push carts and spend the entire length of Puke Hill talking and I ask him if that's a Texas accent I hear and he says no it's more like Wyoming and by the time we hit the top of Puke Hill I find out that he's the hungover friend who couldn't make it skiing that day as well as the owner of the boat the day the lightning kept us from waterskiing plus the guy who needed to get away over July 4th instead of coming to the fireworks so we probably should have met at least three times before that day but since I had been dating an idiot until just a few weeks prior and he had been working his way through a separation with his now ex-wife it wouldn't have been the right timing anyway so that's how we met and the rest is history.

Mr. Friend: so you met on a mountain bike ride?

Mr. Outdoors: uh-huh.

Blogetiquette, Schmogetiquette...


After a few days of anxious contemplation over my entry into the blogosphere, I think I've been given tacit permission by my favorite online parenting authority regular dad and super cool blogger to just be myself. No worries about what's all right and proper in the blogosphere will be allowed. Until my next social media anxiety attack, anyway.

And Jim should know. After all, he replies to (almost) all comments that are posted to his blog (with humor and self-deprecation, no less) and has a blogroll of epic proportion. He's cool enough to admit that being a dad sometimes leads away from Parent of the Year awards, and now...

He's a comic strip! If that is not the coolest thing ever, I'm not quite sure I know what is.

I admit that I totally own the role of d'Wife in our house, so I appreciate seeing the parallel universe to the one that Mr. Outdoors lives and breathes. That is, until the next time I have to clean up the mess, de-program the talktrack or replace the useful kitchen gadget that found its way to the sandbox.