31 December 2010

It's a Beautiful Ride

Now that it's almost over, I can look back at 2010 and be truly astonished at how full and blessed and unexpected it was.

When the year started, I was nursing a broken heart and hoping for something that just wasn't gonna happen. Basically, my plan was to just hold on and keep moving forward. I was lucky to have amazing friends, especially NiNi and my Sweetheart to help me through and to listen to my angst.

Well, I guess he wasn't yet my Sweetheart, just one of my best friends, my "rock."

In April, my world flipped upside down again when my Sweetheart and I reunited after many years, this time for real and for good. Despite the whirlwind madness of moving and leaving my job and preparing for my new life, there were no doubts and we were wed in September. At a library. By a librarian. Of course.

In October, the world flipped again (no wonder I'm so dizzy some days!) when we learned that we are expecting a little person to join our family next June. After initial surprise, we are looking forward to meeting him (or her).

From feeling utterly desolate to genuine happiness in 12 short months...

The song that keeps running through my head this morning is "Beautiful Ride" by Dewey Cox. I guess even on sad days, I can remember, "It's about make a little music every day 'til you die / It's a beautiful ride."   (And, incidentally, that lyric always reminds me of Woody Guthrie.)

Here's to an amazing 2011 for all of us!

30 December 2010

Thank You...

.. to Freyja Silver for the lovely new blog template!

29 December 2010

Pardon the Mess

I am finally trying to implement a new layout for this blog. I'm sure it will be a mess for a few days (weeks?) as I experiment with different layouts and try to tweak them to work. This is the first time I have imported a layout instead of just using a blogspot provided one, so please be patient!

25 December 2010

Quote o' the Day

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord... And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (KJV, Luke 2:10,11,13, 14)

23 December 2010

In the Grand Scheme of Things...

...my day wasn't that bad. I understand that. Still, it's been a rough day.

First of all, my attempts to make a Mocha Torte continued to fail. I do not understand. I have made the cake before and it has always turned out well. Sure, it was never as beautiful as the one's Tante Frieda made, but she has been making them for (literally) 70 years, so that's okay.

Nope. Not gonna happen for me this time. It ended up lopsided and sloppy looking. I am sure it *tastes* delicious, but I would be far too embarrassed to serve it to my Sweetheart's family on Christmas Day, our first Christmas together. It is also too expensive and labor intensive to just toss, so I will be taking it to my auntie's for Christmas Eve and saving the chocolate chip cheesecake I made for Christmas Day. Less impressive, but at least not hideous.

Then, after wrestling with that for a chunk of my at-home time (btw, it is currently in the freezer; I am hoping it freezes in place and doesn;t capsize altogether!), I was trying to get laundry done. I decided to wash the last pair of jeans I have that fits along with my winter hoodie and vest. I emptied all the pockets, threw the wash in and went back to the cake.

When I went down to put the wash in the dryer, I was horrified to see my cell phone in the washing machine. Oh. Shit.

Of course it wasn't working. Immediately I freaked out. I have *never* done anything so blatantly stoopid before. It's a new phone and I only work very part-time. How could I tell my Sweetheart that I screwed up like that? This Zombie Baby Eating My Brain crap is getting SO OLD.

By the time I found his number and texted him via the carrier's website, I was pretty worked up. Amazingly, he was sweet and understanding and calming. He promised it is all okay and we would get a new one first thing tomorrow. I just needed t have a cup of tea and call the store to check on hours,

The Verizon guy couldn't have been nicer. He got some info, gave me a web address and within 5 minutes, I had confirmation that my new phone will be here tomorrow. (Thank GOD we got the insurance!)

My Sweetheart called again to check on me and make sure I was okay and reiterated that I am to have some tea and take it easy. And so I shall.

But before I do, can I just say that I am fully cognizant of how ridiculously lucky I am to have such an amazing and wonderful Sweetheart? (Yes, he is lucky, too, but today I am focusing on how fantastic HE is.) I really do love him so!


Just read an Old Wives' Tale that sciatica pain during pregnancy is an indication that the child is a boy. Perhaps because boys can be a pain in the butt? Ha!


My youngest brother recently began a blog, too. I'm sure he wouldn't mind if you took a peek.

Good morning!

I am *so* ready for a nap!

Yesterday was a fairly productive day. My mother-in-law came to pick up the puppy for the afternoon so I could ScotchGuard our new couches and clean all the floors on the first floor. (We are hosting Christmas dinner for my Sweeheart's parents and his cousin and her family.) I also got some dusting done, put an area rug in the front room and washed all the puppy's blankets.

I got tired so quickly! After 4 months of this, you'd think I'd accept that I wear out quicker, but it always suprises me. After all, I am used to being a hard worker who just keeps going until the job is done (or until I just get sick of doing it which, to be honest, has been known to happen). I am proud of how nice everything looks; let's hope it stays that way!

I am making my Tante Frieda's famous Mocha Torte for Christmas Day. It's fairly labor intensive, but worth the effort. Unfortunately, I left the cake in the pan far too long yesterday. When I finally removed it, it cracked. Trying to slice it into layers finished it off. No worries. The cake itself was delicious, so I just cubed it up and put it in the freezer. I'll figure out a trifle or something to make later. As soon as the oven finishes preheating, I will put the second (and final!) attempt in the oven. I work at 9:30am, so I hope to get the laundry and cake done before I have to leave.

The shop has been slow this past few weeks. No dooubt because of the snow and cold and holiday. Dad already warned me that he may send me home early today. I kind of hope not; it's nice to earn some money so I don't have to ask my Sweetheart (he gladly gives, but it is a hard thing for me to get used to). On the other hand, if I get to go home early, maybe I can take a nap. Or even veg out and watch a Christmas movie (which I haven't done once this season!).

And there's the oven, beeping to tell me it's ready. That's my cue, folks. I wish you all a day in which you recognize the good things around you. (That's what I'll be trying to do.)

21 December 2010

Quote o' the Day

"I got a letter a while back from a sappy woman. She wrote me because she knew I was sappy too. She wanted help - if it was a terrible mistake bringing a baby into a world as awful as this one. I told her what made being alive almost worthwhile for me was meeting saints who were everywhere. By saints I mean ordinary people behaving decently in an indecent society. I hope all of you are or will become saints." (Kurt Vonnegut)

'Tis the Season to be Uber-Busy!

Baking, baking, baking! I decided to make an extra batch of my Sweetheart's favorite batch of M&M cookies so he can take some to work and we can share some without dipping into the special batch I made just for him (they are the only cookies I said he doesn't have to share). As soon as these cookies are done, I hope to get the cheesecake in the oven. That bakes for an hour, so it will buy me some time to get a few other things done - like shower, maybe? Perhaps read another chapter of The Phantom Tollbooth aloud to the Baby, too.

I started baking way later than I had planned today since I had some errands to run first. One of those errands included a visit to my niece, Payton. Yesterday, she was at the coffee shop while I was working. We were preparing for a luncheon, so she helped me put the silverware on all the tables. After the luncheon, the Red Hat Ladies were generous with tipping me (something I genuinely did not expect!). It seemed only fair to share a little of that with Pay-Pay.

I put a few dollars in a card and wrote her a note telling her that she had earned this money for working hard to help me. Then I went over to her house to tell her. Well, first of all, she was distracted because I had also brought her a few clementines (which she loves). She was excited that the card pictured Max of Where the Wild Things Are fame. I *think* she kind of "got it," but she is only 3, so maybe not quite. Right thing to do, though. I made sure to tell her that this was not a present, but something she had earned.

Speaking of presents, we have rather challenging neighbors next door. However, when I went out to shovel (carefully!) this morning, I was surprised to see that they had shoveled a path down the middle of our front walk - the entire way. I was so awed and touched by this Christmas generosity. After I shoveled our driveway and back walk, I put together a box of home made treats and left those with a note thanking them on their front porch. I do believe that everyone has the capacity to be good. Perhaps they are genuinely trying to be better neighbors. Kindness on both sides can only be a good thing.

20 December 2010

Holiday Update

Just as they've been for everyone else, the past few weeks have been a flurry of activity here. Actually, it hasn't been that bad; it's just that everything seems to be taking four times as long this year. I blame Tex and how utterly exhausting it is to grow him.

Still, accomplishments have been abundant. Christmas cards were written and sent (and, may I just pause here to say how pleased I am that my Sweetheart wants to sign the, himself and not have me sign for him?). 3 kinds of cookies have been baked and 2 kinds of candies have been made. The Lebkuchen dough is done (though not baked - maybe before work today?). I made seven stollen this year. Gifts have all (but one) been purchased and wrapped. The tree is up and the house decorated. Some decluttering and cleaning has started. All in all, it's been a happy and productive time.

Hard to believe we'll have a small child in the house this time next year. We heard Tex's heartbeat again this past week. It took the doctor a minute to find it - during which thime my Sweetheart says I grew visibly stressed - but, when she did, it was nice and strong. Next appointment isn't for four weeks.

Our insurance - as awesome as it is - doesn't cover a slew of ultrasounds. We saw the baby for the NT scan but won't see him (or her, we don't know for sure) again until the 20 week anatomy scan. It's so weird. I know there's a little person growing in there, but there is no real evidence that all is well since we rarely see him and only hear his heart every four weeks or so. I have gained some weight but, since I was already a little chunky, don't have a cute baby bump. I feel pretty fantastic (apart from exhaustion and occasional moments of lightheadedness). It's the ultimate act of faith, isn't it? We just have to believe that he is continuing to develop the way he should and that all is well.

It's a busy week ahead. I'll be working an extra long day at my parents' coffee shop today. I anticipate being wiped out by the time I get home. I rarely get any kind of break when I am there, though I do try to bring a healthy snack along. I have to make arrangements with my Sweetheart's mom to bring the dog for a visit one day this week so I can Scotchguard our new furniture. Have to bake a cheesecake for Christmas Eve and my Tante Frieda's ridiculously good Mocha Torte for Christmas Day. Have a bunch of cleaning and preparation to do - we are hosting Christmas Dinner and expect between 2 and 8 guests. It will probably end up being about 7 people total (including us), but have to be ready in case we have all 10.

(I wonder if it will be considered rude if I sneak off for a little while on Christmas Day for a nap?)

I still hope to do better with this blog, even if it is just an update on my life and nothing more interesting. For now, though, better get moving so I can get some stuff done before heading to work.

09 December 2010

One of the Best Books Ever

So, we're 13+ weeks into this pregnancy and we've already read several chapter books aloud to Tex. ("Tex" is the name we have given the little alien who is growing inside me.) I know Tex can't even hear for another 4 or 5 weeks, but it can't hurt, right?

Currently, we are reading The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I haven't read this book for a number of years and I forgot how amazing and charming it is.  Last night I read the bit about the car everyone had to be perfectly silent in because "it goes without saying" and I laughed out loud. Brilliant!

If you haven't read this masterpiece for a while, I highly recommend it. I'll wager it's even better to you as an adult than it was the first time you discovered it as a kid!

Once Upon a Time...

So, how did I get to this place? Here's the Reader's Digest Condensed Version:
Seventeen years ago, I met a boy. We became friends and, before long I fell in love. He joined the Army, we began a romance through letters and phone calls. Tried dating when he was home. On and off and on and... Didn't work. We parted, kept coming back together, always friends. Finally had a falling out that led to losing touch, presumably for good. Fast-forward. Kurt Vonnegut died and I got an e-mail from the boy. We reconnected. I was in a relationship, he was just out of one. Friends again. Venting, supporting, joking, e-mailing. All good. Fast-forward some more. My relationship ended despite my efforts. The boy was, as always, my Rock, my go-to for a sympathetic ear. We realized we still had feelings for each other. Fell back in Love, got married.
Whew! And that's the super-duper short uncomplicated version!

Now we're living as newlyweds in the suburbs south of Chicago. Lots of adjustments for me - just for starters, I miss the City and my work team in Chicago - but all worth it. We're expecting our first child next June and I couldn't feel luckier!

Can We Start Again, Please?

This blog has been through many incarnations since its inception. Over the past two years, it has mostly been a woefully neglected wasteland, tumbleweeds and all.

Recently, my life has changed dramatically as I transitioned from a crazybusy Administrative librarian who regularly worked 12+ hour days without breaks and little sleep to a newlywed who works part-time in a family owned coffee shop and is preparing to be a first-time Mama.

Rather than begin anew with a fresh blog, I am hoping to revive this one. The postings may be more scattered and less unified around themes as I figure out this exciting and overwhelming new life.

09 April 2010

When's the Vote?

I've been wondering when the Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act (bill HB2514) was finally going to be voted on in the House. The Reader answers thus:

As the chief sponsor, Lang decides when to put the bill to a vote. He says he'll wait until he's sure he has the votes he needs, because he can't afford to fail: "Many members will vote for this but they'll only do it once. They'll go out on a limb once."

The current legislative session ends in early May. In the fall the General Assembly will convene for a veto session; its formal purpose is to consider legislation the governor might veto over the summer, and although the house could consider new business like the medical marijuana bill, a supermajority of 71 votes would be needed to pass it. "It is entirely possible that I won't take a vote until January," Lang says. A new General Assembly will be sworn in on Wednesday, January 12, and on the preceding Monday and Tuesday the old assembly will convene to wrap up unfinished business. Only a simple majority will be required to pass legislation on those two days, and Lang thinks he might be able to talk a few lame duck lawmakers into changing their positions on HB2514.

Aside from them, where could the remaining votes he needs come from? Linn believes some Republicans from collar counties can be persuaded.

"Yeah, that's true," says Lang, "and a few suburban Cook legislators too. Some of the downstaters are hopeless, but we're working on it."

If the act doesn't pass before January 12, it's history. Lang and his allies in the house and senate would have to start all over again.

Sigh. We have seen Prohibition fail to work with a far more dangerous mind-altering substance (alcohol), so let's end this Prohibition. I wish I could afford to send every Illinois lawmaker a copy of Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? (and figure out some way to make sure they all read it).

Again, I say, Sigh.

The entire article is in the current on-line Reader.

Reading IS Fundamental!

The New York Times is reporting today that federal funding for RIF is in grave danger under Department of Education budget proposals. Reading this made me feel ill and, as a proud Chicagoan, almost betrayed by Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. His mother is a respected educator in Chicago, having worked on the southeast side of The City for nearly 50 years. I am quite sure that Mr. Duncan has known from his earliest years just how important it is to cultivate a love of reading in the hearts and minds of our most at-risk children. After all, they will be leading us one day!

When I was in the first or second (I think second) grade, we didn't have much. One magical day, our teacher led us to the school library where tables were set up, piled high with books. Now, I always loved a trip to the library, even then, but on that day, something astonishing happened - she told us to look carefully at the books and then... we could choose one to take home and keep! It was like Christmas and my Birthday and the Luckiest Day Ever, all rolled up together. And, boy, did I take my time! At long last, I settled on Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. (Some of you remember the awesomely trippy purple cover.) No one told me I was too young or tried to change my mind. The nice RIF lady just confirmed, "That's the one you want? Okay."

I still have that book. There were many times I didn't have "kids" novels in the house. I read the World Book and Harlequin romances and a collection of Poe stories and whatever I could find. I even re-read all the Dr. Seuss books we had around the house, but that novel was something else.

Darlings, I am growing old. That was close to 30 years ago (ack!) and I still remember how special I felt and how that fed my (admittedly, already pretty strong) love of books. And now we want to take that same opportunity away from other kids, those who probably need it more than I ever did?

Shame on you, Arne Duncan and Department of Education. You have cleft my heart in twain.

NOTE: RIF is asking supporters to urge their senators to sign a letter in support of RIF. You can get more info here.

08 April 2010

Three Themes?

I think this blog, if I sustain it this time, is going to end up being quite different from what I started. I’ve noticed that, with the many links I post on facebook, they generally fit into one of three categories - libraries and literature, health and fitness, and marijuana policy reform. How did that happen?

Well, I think no one on earth who has ever met me would be surprised by the focus on the world of books. Family legend is that I taught myself to read from a very young age, well before kindergarten. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know that I have loved books forever, since my memory begins. So, that’s a no-brainer.

But health and fitness? That story is a little longer. For much of my life I was overweight. No, let’s be honest. I was fat. And I was not fit or very physically active. And, for the most part, I was okay with that. I felt like I wasn’t eating that much and I thought I was pretty healthy.

I met Science Boy when I was fat and he loved me the way I was (although he did encourage me to exercise with him because, he claimed, he wanted me to be a little healthier, not because of my weight). I was determined not to give into societal pressure or to make myself miserable trying to meet someone else’s standards. But then, on (I think) July 5, 2006, something changed. I don’t even know what, exactly, it was. SB and I were in Grant Park at the free India.Arie concert and I announced to him that I planned to lose weight and that I needed him to be supportive to let me do it my own way. He was and I did.

Now, although I have not yet reached my goals, I see that I have made tremendous progress. For the first time in my life I am athletic. Maybe not an elite athlete, but an athlete nonetheless. I am eating healthier. I have lost more than 70 pounds. I have muscles. I do not know everything, not by a long shot and I have yet to conquer my relationship with cigarettes, but I am a work in progress and I am going to keep working toward progress.

I have become passionate about learning more and sharing information, particularly with children and families. (Lucky for me, the amazing corporation that funds our grant project has recently asked us to make fitness and nutrition a part of programming.) I think a lot of people just don’t know some things because no one ever told them. I just want everyone to have access to the information (that’s the librarian I am at my core). What they do with the information is up to them, but they should have access to it. (For example, I think restaurants can serve 3,000 calorie chili cheese fries if people want to buy them but, as a consumer, I want that nutritional information available so I can make an educated choice.)

So. That’s the second focus.

And now. Marijuana Policy Reform. That one either shocks the hell out of people or doesn’t surprise them in the least. First of all, I am not a frequent – or even regular – user. I have indulged (and inhaled). However, in general, I have control issues and prefer to have complete control of my facilities. (This is the same reason I very rarely drink much.) For me, the issue of Marijuana Policy Reform is one of Justice and Fairness.

As I have done my whole life, when I began to wonder why marijuana is regarded so differently than, say, alcohol, I started to research. I have read many different books and articles as well as considered personal accounts (both written and oral) on both sides of the issue. I have thought about medicinal cannabis and whether it should be considered in a different way than cannabis used for recreational purposes. After much thought, I think it is ridiculous to enact Prohibition against cannabis when alcohol is legal and far more sinister. I hate the drug testing laws. In theory, I can drink all weekend, beat the shit of kid or partner while drunk, maybe drive drunk and endanger a few lives and show up to work Monday with a raging hangover headache and keep my job.

On the other hand, if I take a hit of week Friday night, maybe eat a few more cookies than I should and go to sleep, then show up to work stone cold sober on Monday, I could lose my job if a random drug test is demanded, regardless of how exemplary my performance at my job. (That goes for if I have used cannabis not recreationally but under a doctor’s advice to ease the nausea caused by chemotherapy.) How does that even make sense?) So. I think that the Prohibition of Marijuana is ridiculous. (I won’t even go into how legalization would lead to regulation, which could enable taxation which could help many states that are currently in dire financial straits, plus ease the hold of some drug cartels, plus actually make it harder for kids to get weed – a business owner who stands to lose his license and face a huge fine is less likely to sell to a kid than an unscrupulous thug on the street corner. At least right now I won’t go into all that. No promises for later.)

So, let’s see where this goes and how long I maintain it this time. Maybe having the netbook will help. Both of these entries were written when I had no internet access and then posted to the blog that evening. (I recorded the time when I wrote them.) So, that gives me more opportunity to write.

Building a Healthier Chicago

I have been attending the Building a Healthier Chicago conference the past few days. There has been a lot of fascinating information provided so far and a number of things I plan to look into more thoroughly. Beyond my personal interest, I am interested in ways we can better integrate messages that stress better nutrition and fitness into our library programs. I have encountered some resistance form a few people who think that, as librarians, that “is not our job,” but isn’t a healthier community the job of EVERYone who serves that community? I am not saying that we sacrifice the literacy and love of reading piece of our work to become nutritionists, but it is vital to help families understand healthy living messages when we can. It has been proven through plenty of research that children learn better when they receive proper nutrition and appropriate physical fitness. If they are eating well and getting movement, they will also be able to better love reading. All the pieces fit together, people!

Yesterday, I got a pedometer from the conference. The recommendation is that everyone takes 10,000 steps a day. I thought, piece of cake! I am active. 10,000 steps will be nothing! Well. As I write this, it is 11:30am and I am right around 4,900 steps. And that’s when an extra 1.5 mile walk from the parking garage to the conference and a walk during break factored in. I think I will hit the 10,000 steps today, but what about a “typical” day when I am *not* walking 1.5 miles one way to work? I plan to wear the pedometer tomorrow to see what I get when there are no special events or extended breaks and I guess I will work my way up.

Dr. James O. Hill presented the Keynote Address yesterday and he was fantastic. He emphasized how important it is not to be too stressed about reach goal immediately. He gave the example of a woman who started using a pedometer and found she was taking 2,000 steps a day. She wanted to improve but became discouraged because after using a pedometer again a week later, she was only at 3,000 steps a day. He pointed out that that had been a “heroic improvement.” I think that’s true. We beat ourselves up for not achieving perfectly, instantly, instead of looking at where we are coming from and appreciating that any improvement, no matter how small, is still an improvement. So, we’ll see. Wherever I find my step count tomorrow, I won’t beat myself up over it. I’ll just figure out ways to take more steps and I will reach 10,000, then make that sustainable.

07 April 2010

No Excuses

I have no excuses for how woefully remiss I have been about blogging - unless you count exhaustion, some mild depression and too much time at work vallid! It probably doesn't help that Facebook makes it ever so easy to post articles, which I do often. The downside of that is that I usually post the link to the article and that's it. Often I offer no commentary or anything.

I hate to make promises to start posting here again; I have broken those before. Hell, I don't even know if anyone is even still reading! But I am going to try. I've really missed my musings here. I have things to say. Right now, I am really interested in helping children (and their adults) live healthier lives through incorporating health messages into literacy based programming, the "no excuses" brand of school reform (particularly in low-income communities) I have been reading about, and marijuana policy reform. Let's see if I can get my act together enough to start writing again...