Friday, February 29, 2008

Riddle me this....

So it's Leap Day. I know, super exciting stuff huh?

Here's a riddle for you that is almost a year in the making.

Today the Chunk is 11 months old. If it was NOT a leap year and February had ended on the 28th, would the Chuck still be eleven months old? Would it have happened on February 28 or on March 1st?

So would he have never ever have turned eleven all?

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh deep thoughts by Amy.

I took some pictures of him today. I'll get them uploaded this weekend. I can't believe we'll be planning a first birthday party in just a few weeks. Time flies. My kids are growing way too fast.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I have found hell....oh and some pictures too

Hell is a book fair.

No seriously. It is. I've had a looooong day of making copies, sorting copies, stapling copies, and putting copies in teachers' mailboxes for almost 500 elementary school students. All for PTA junk and the book fair.

Hell.....hell is a book fair.

Anyway, I've come to the realization that I have been an absolutely lousy picture taking Mom. For awhile I had the camera within reach pretty much wherever I went and I was getting some great shots. Then I guess I got lazy. Or I got lost in hell (see above) or something. So I've started taking pictures again of my favorite subjects, my kids.

When these girls hit their teens in about ten years and realize that boys DON'T have cooties, we are in so much trouble. Have you heard that new (terrible) country song "Come On In" yet? It's basically a dad telling some teenage punk to be careful while out with his daughter because he'll be at home cleaning his gun. Totally redneck and intimidating and stupid and stereotypical. At least until I started looking through pictures of my girls. I think I'll start pricing dead bolts now.

And then there's the Chunk. He's almost eleven months old. I cannot BELIEVE I am getting ready to start planning a first birthday party. And he's already the underdog on the "brother/bodyguard" thing because he's younger than the girls but seriously how is THIS face supposed to scare anyone off? I mean, a kitten might run for cover or something. Geez. He's just too dang cute for words.


Anyway, I'm really going to be trying to get my picasa account updated in the next week or so if I can dig out from under all the book fair and PTA junk I have on my plate right now. Skippy is going out of town on Sunday too so that will make for a crazy week of laundry and finding clean underwear. But for now, I've scattered some updated pictures throughout the blog, so scroll down and click around.

If anyone needs me, I'm sure that even the devil gives an occassional potty break. Lots of love.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A few last Huskie thoughts

Today they held a memorial ceremony at NIU for the five students killed on Valentine's Day in Cole Hall during a lecture class.

Tomorrow, after ten days of reflection, prayer, and grief, the students will return to classes.

Cole Hall is closed. Classes have been reassigned new locations. Churches are still open twenty four hours a day. Memorials are still up. Candles are still burning.

A campus is still greiving.

It's time for life to begin to get back to normal at NIU. Time for a tiny corner of the universe called DeKalb to re-enter the world and hold on for the ride as best they can.

Your university gets into your blood. There is something about your college experience. The people you meet and the things you learn become a part of you. Every memory has a purpose in your life. People go through things in college that shape who they become as adults. It doesn't matter where you go. Even if it's not an Ivy League School. Even if there isn't a football team that makes national headlines. Even if it's just a regular old public state university, it gets to you -- it gets into your heart. It becomes a matter of pride. Whether you make honor role or graduate on time or take part in student government or just hang out in your room, it's your experience. You will always wear those colors proudly.

NIU has been through a horrific experience. It's time to begin to heal.

Have faith Huskies. NIU will never forget. And it will never be forgotten.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Happy Saturday, and the conclusion of my mini-experiment

ACK! I haven't updated since the middle of the week!

Let's see....Wednesday I actually didn't run into anyone. Can you believe it?

Of course, I also didn't go anywhere! AhHA!

Thursday morning I had a PTA book fair meeting at Starbucks. While I was in the parking lot getting the Chunk's stroller out I ran into one of the pre-school Moms. Then that night I saw some friends at a Tastefully Simple Party. (mmmmm, beer bread)

Friday....I'm sitting here trying to think of if I ran into anyone on Friday. And believe it or not, I don't think I did. However we did go to the bank, where the teller greeted me by name. Then at the thrift store the clerk asked Kbear where her sister was (in school) so we still had run-ins with people who "know us" - at least to some extent.

And just now I was outside chatting with my next-door-neighbor, and one of the Moms from MOPS went jogging by!

So there you go. With very few exceptions, I was barely able to leave my house this week without running into someone - proof that my theory was correct! Yay me!

Anyway, we had the dodgeball tournament this morning. High comedy. very high comedy. I'll have to write more about it later. Banana is at a playdate and the rest of us are going to go grab some late lunch and run some errands.

Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The "Who Did Amy See" game continues

Today was Tuesday. Here we go.

This morning I had a MOPS meeting. MOPS (once again) stands for Mothers of Pre-schoolers. So I saw a lot of my Oregon Mommy-girlfriends at that meeting. That doesn't really count because it wasn't an errand. I'm just warming up my blog by making small talk.

Anyway, we actually stayed home most of the day. I had a terrible horrible no good very bad migraine this afternoon. So I just put the baby down for a nap, threw some cheerios on the floor in pretty patterns, and turned on Noggin for the girls.

Not really.

Well.....kinda. Except for the Cheerios on the floor part. But anyhow....

Around 3:30 I needed to get out of the house. I was seriously beginning to understand why some mothers eat their young. So we went to the new park. When I got to the park, I was surprised when I realized there wasn't one familiar face in the crowd of kids and parents checking out our new playground duds. Wondering if I was going to end up making a fool of myself on my own dang blog, I wandered over to the swings to give the Chunk a little push. About that time, I realized we had lost his shoe. And in the middle of our search, lo and behold, there is a dear new friend Andrea walking up with her family and offering to help.

We chatted for a bit in between herding munchkins and in between subjects I also found time to chat with a PTA Mom (Hi Dena!) that I spotted hanging out in her car while her son played.

Then around 5:15 we hightailed it out of the park and ran to get some dinner because I realized at some point that Brianna had open gym soccer at six. And of course while we were THERE, we ran into one of the little girls from her team this past year, with her dad - who I also know from the bus stop.

So there you go. Proving for yet another day that you can't go anywhere in this town without running into someone.

On a completely separate note, I realized today that I completely forgot to give my sweetheart of a husband a birthday shout out. This is probably fine with him, but I refuse to let birthdays just fade away. We did manage to have a fantastic BBQ diner with two other couples here at the house, complete with a fantastic birthday cake but I really did mean to say something here as well.

So there you go, father of my kids and keeper of my heart - Happy (belated) Birthday and I love you! I hope you like your new gecko that the kids somehow talked me into buying for you!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Going to play a game this week....

Not everyone understands the small-town-feel of the city we live in now. By all accounts, it's really NOT small. Small is when you live next door to your mama and your best friend's cousin's ex-husband lives six blocks away on the other side of town. THAT is small. There are 12,000 people here in The Dalles; in fact it's the largest city in the gorge. But there were also 12,000 people in our old stomping ground in Illinois and the difference is unreal. We lived in Sycamore for four years and I can't say I really knew anyone. We've lived here for one year and already we're forging connections and cross connections and running in multiple social circles. But that's not difficult because here, everyone knows EVERYONE. Everyone has CONNECTIONS. And all of the surrounding towns are pretty small so it feels pretty rural sometimes. Hell, having no Target is enough to make it feel rural to me, but I digress.

I always joke that not a day goes by where I don't run into someone I know while running errands or a friend doesn't randomly stop by while they are out and about in town. I can't seem to go anywhere without stopping to chat with someone who I bump in to. In a lot of ways, it's very nice and fun and neat. In a lot of ways, it's not because it means you feel like you can never run out to the grocery store in your grubby PJ pants with no bra on under your husband’s old faded sweatshirt - not even in the middle of the night for something REALLY important like ice cream. Because then you'll DEFINITELY run into someone.

So this week, I'm going to keep track of all the people I run into while out and about. We'll see if it's as bad as I think it is.

Here we go:
A gal I know from my MOPS group (that's Moms of Preschoolers) stopped by to pick up a few things. In chatting with her, I discovered that she grew up across the street from the house we're renting, knew our next door neighbor's younger siblings, and also knows our landlord.

Then while we were in Pet Co, we exchanged hellos with some neighbors who live three doors down. Little did I know that they were shopping for new puppy supplies until I saw them out with their new pup this afternoon.

Today when I ran to Walgreen’s to hit the after-Valentine's Day sales I ran into Terra (she works here) who is a friend of a friend that I sometimes see at our girls' nights out.

Then I spent about an hour hanging out with my girlfriend Charlotte, because she always makes me feel normal. That was a spur-of-the-moment-yet-planned run-in so it’s not quite the same but still, hanging out with girlfriends in Illinois required much more planning than a five second last minute phone call.

Then when I ran into Freddies (that's Kroger for your Midwest people) I saw one of the Moms from PTA.

We'll see who I bump into tomorrow!

Friday, February 15, 2008

I look at my kids......

Sometimes I look at my kids and I see the potential in them, the promises yet unfilled, and all of the greatness that is waiting inside. I look at them and sometimes I feel crushed by the overwhelming responsibility that I have - to raise them to be good, respectful, loving people. To set a good example. To be perfect, and to show them that it's okay not to be perfect.

I look at my kids and my heart hurts because I love them so much. I look at them and I realize all over again that in a second they could be taken away from me. And then I just pray that I never know that kind of pain.

Today I should be blogging about our Valentine’s Day. I should be writing about how funny it was to give Skippy a new toilet seat (he’s been saying we need one) with a note attached telling him that he’s the shit. I should be blogging about how much fun the girls had at school. I should tell you all about the awesome dinner I made. But instead, today I found myself reflecting on the events at NIU yesterday, and on my job as a parent.

If your parents are like mine, you have pretty happy memories of growing up. You probably didn't have everything, but you had more than a lot of kids, maybe even more than most kids. You sat at the dinner table together. You went on vacations and to band concerts and school plays. Sometimes you thought they would NEVER EVER understand you and obviously they must not want you to be happy because like, everyone else can totally stay out until midnight. You loved them. You knew that they loved you (and still do) more than anything.

If my kids come away from their childhood with those same thoughts, I will be content.

When you choose to become a parent, the job doesn't end after eighteen years. Your children will always be your babies. When the job begins, you sit around at night and wonder how on earth you'll get them to kindergarten; if they will somehow manage to survive the skinned knees from riding a two wheeler and the run-in with the recliner after performing circus acts on the couch. Then the real whirlwind houses and teacher conferences and soccer and dance recitals and who knows what else. Suddenly you look at your five year old and realize that you sent her to school in jeans that are way too short...even though they just fit last week. And before too long, it will be dating and dances and driving and I'm pretty sure I'll find myself wondering if Skippy and I will survive their teen years.

And then they leave your house for the eye-opening experience that is college. Some people would say that your job is done.

But even then, they are still your babies. And part of you would die if you lost them.

Things affect you differently when you become a mother. Today I am homesick. I am homesick for my friends and I'm heartsick for my school. I miss my Mom, who is still only a phone call away. I miss my Dad, who bullied me through most of my college experience, always pushing me to do well. My thoughts continue to be with NIU. But today, my thoughts are mostly with the parents who have lost children of their own. Children they have raised to adulthood, trusting that they had done all they could to equip them for their college years. Children who won't be coming home, due to a senseless act of violence.

I spent a good part of today avoiding the news channels and websites. When I did tune in, I cried. I had to stop because Banana asked me what was wrong, and I found myself explaining to my five year old that mommy was sad because a very bad man did something that hurt a lot of people at a place that is very special to mommy and Daddy. My five year old doesn't need the troubles of the world on her shoulders. She's still my baby.

I realize sitting here that I have to let this emotion go - it pretty much kept me in my jammies all day and I can't say that I accomplished much. I don’t think I can blog about it anymore – I have to get through this emotion and realize once again that sometimes the world just sucks. Besides, the disbelief and sadness that I feel is nothing compared to the students, staff, and families of NIU. I won’t pretend to even begin to understand what they must be going through.

And I have three amazing kids who depend on me.

You are in my prayers tonight Huskies, and will continue to be in the days ahead.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

God dammit, what's WRONG with people?

This is my old college. It's also Skippy's and Jax's and all of our other friends' school.

I had classes in Cole Hall. I'm sure that everyone else we know did as well - it's a popular lecture hall that holds a couple hundred people for gen ed classes and other large majors. Today some complete and total ASS decided he'd walk in and shoot a bunch of people.

My thoughts and prayers are with the students who are injured.

Dammit. Happy Valentine's Day indeed. What in the hell is WRONG with people?

A blog update posted at 7:00p.m. pacific.... Authorities have confirmed the deaths of five students, plus the gunman. I can't even imagine what it's like on campus right now. NIU is near and dear to my heart - in a lot of ways I feel like it is where my life began. I wouldn't have Skippy in my life without NIU. I wouldn't have so many of my close friends who are like a second family to me.

This stuff happens at other schools. Not mine. That shouldn't be a building I once sat in on CNN. That shouldn't be MY old residence hall I can see in the background. This stuff doesn't happen in DeKalb, Illinois - birth of barbed wire and home of a good old fashioned corn fest. This stuff doesn't happen less than ten miles from where I was raising my family before we moved. It just doesn't.

I know that all I can do is pray for peace for those who are in pain right now. But it's not right that I should have to.

I said I wasn't going to do it....

I said I wasn't going to go overboard for Valentine's Day. I mean seriously, what is WITH Valentine's Day? It's become like the second coming of Christmas. I saw a guy last year in Walmart buying a BIKE for his kid for Valentine's Day. Now that's just silly.

So I said I wasn't going to go overboard.


What is it with our genetic makeup once we become mothers? I genuinely don't think it has anything to do with keeping up with the Joneses, because that kind of stuff has never really bothered me. My parents worked really hard to give us what we had and we never really worried much about what we DIDN'T have and we took pretty okay of the things we DID have. I'm not the kind of Mom who buys my kids something new every time we go to the store. They know I can't be manipulated that way. I'm actually really proud of that.

So why (and how) did my kids each end up with not only a new t-shirt to wear tomorrow to school for Valentine's Day but also a pair of heart socks, Valentine's Day buttons, mini puzzles, candy, plans for a fun dinner, AND goodie bags for each of their classmates on top of regular Valentines? How did that happen?


I said I wasn't going to go overboard.


Happy Hearts Day everyone.

Monday, February 11, 2008

In other news

First of all, would you look at my gorgeous girl? I mean, really. And I'm sorry I have been a dreadfully neglectful blogger. You all need to cut me a little slack, because my entire household had the flu. Even *I* got the damn bug. And Skippy was out of town for a week and the kids were miserable and kept out of school and I just wanted to sleep and sleep and sleep until next month. So I'm very sorry. And I'm sad that my reader counts have gone down. I KNOW my readers won't forsake me over one lousy bout of the flu! And I'll make up for it - as evidenced by my second blog in so many hours.

Anyway, I am officially an Oregon resident now. Today I went to the DMV and got my brand spanking new Oregon driver's license. I should have had it eleven months or so ago, which I found out when I got pulled over on Thursday night for unknowingly having a tailight out (I got a verbal warning and we got it fixed on Friday, don't worry Mom) but all's well that ends well as they say.

I was kind of sad when they punched a hole through my old Illinois card but alas, all good things must end. My sadness was mostly overshadowed by my nervousness over taking the written test. I haven't had to take a written test since I GOT my license when I was sixteen. Sixteen and a HALF to be exact, my Dad was a booger and made me wait six extra months. But anyway, it seemed like EVERYONE I talked to told me that they failed it the first time. When I was there, the two people who went in front of me FAILED it too! I was a total wreck.

Somehow my early morning cramming paid off - I got a 94%. Of course I took the practice tests for Oregon, Illinois, and Washington several times this morning and skimmed the entire Oregon driver's manual online in between chasing the kids around but hey, whatever gets the job done. Apparently I'm still good at short term studying. It sqeaked me through plenty of college classes, why should the DMV be any different?

So that's it. An hour and a half of my time and fifty five bucks later and I'm officially official!

A rambling winter rumination....

Hmmmmmm where to begin?

Since we're beginning to slowly but surely creep out of winter, I'll start with weather (specifically winter) - a mild obsession of mine.

Winter in Illinois is COLD. It's the kind of cold that you don't screw around with. I can remember ONE time in all of my educational years that school was closed because it was too cold to be outside and that was because the pipes froze. Now mind you, that doesn't mean it wasn't cold - it just means that when it's ten below, you just bundle up a little better for your trek out to the bus stop.

And the wind. People here in the Columbia Gorge think they understand the wind - and they DO - I mean, it's the windsurfing capital of the universe or some such junk. But the wind in can lean into it and not fall down while walking down the street. It's the kind of winter wind that absolutely burns your lungs with your first searing breath out the front door. Banana used to cry when we would run from the door to the car that her "BOOGIES WERE FROZEN!" And don't even get me started on the wind chill.

Case in point. Today in my hometown it is ten degrees. With the wind chill it's negative two. Over the weekend they had a wind chill advisory because temps dipped to twenty six. BELOW zero. And they are expecting six inches of new snow on top of what they already have.

That's pretty darn average for this time of year in Chicago. And business will go on as usual. People will go to work, go to school, and go get groceries. No one is running out to stock up on bread and milk - it's just another day in and around the windy city. The threat of snow SHOULD be over by the end of March....then again the year I was pregnant with Banana the skies dropped seven inches of the white stuff on April 1.

If that kind of weather hit our part of the gorge, life would STOP. It would be the STORM OF THE CENTURY that the newscasters predict on a weekly basis in Chi-town. Here, the grocery stores had primroses outside on February first. Here, its 55 degrees, and it's supposed to be near sixty on Saturday. This is NOT unseasonable. People are already planning their gardens, and cleaning out flowerbeds. I went outside without a jacket today and felt FINE.

Now that being said, the threat of snow isn't over just yet - the foothill/mountain thingies across the river out my kitchen window will probably still get dusted a few times and we may even still get a stray inch of snow a time or two before it's all over. But it's doubtful. And if it DOES happen, there will be no school. And that's because there are no plows. In Illinois every subdivision has at least one. Here we're lucky if each TOWN has one.

Sometimes I miss the snow. It's been a banner year for snowfall in Illinois and I miss looking outside and seeing it pile up. I do not however, miss shoveling it. Then I remember that all I have to do is hop in the car and drive towards that big old rock they call Hood. In a half hour, I will have snow quite literally, up to my ass. If it's been a banner year in Illinois, it's been a phenomenally unheard of year on the mountain here. They are currently under ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY FOUR inches of snow on Hood. That's over fifteen feet people. I don't even know how they go about measuring snow like that.

So I don't miss the snow too much. It's only a half hour away. And in the meantime, I can start shopping for plants for my garden every time I run to Safeway.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Still here!

So I've gotten yelled at by several people over the course of the last week for not updating my blog.

Honestly, it's just business as usual around here. We've been watching way too much political TV, doing the school grind, and getting over the flu. Ugh. We all had it and it sucked big time but I think the end is FINALLY in sight.

Skippy is working, kids are learning, and I'm PTA-ing and cleaning and laundering and who knows what else-ing. Helping to coordinate the book fair at Banana's school. Eating too many no-bake chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cookies. Enjoying watching the news and seeing that Mt Hood has gotten FEET upon FEET of snow while we're dry in the gorge. Just taking it all one day at a time.

We may go to OMSI this weekend because Skippy is on call for the next two week sand that keeps us local. My best friend Jax is coming to visit in a few weeks. Skippy's birthday is coming. I'm totally excited for Banana to have her first ever real Valentine's Day party at school.

Just getting through. I promise to write something more very soon. Lots of love.