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Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Power of Movie

Mom just posted a great blog , illumining her thoughts on the power of a book (and consequently how the cause of reading will be rooted in our new business.) She makes a point not to dismiss the art of a movie. Coincidentally, I forced myself to watch a movie this weekend that helped me to transform a pesky bad mood that began sometime after "the weekend from hell."

P.S. I Love You, as recommended by Amy, has been sitting on the armoirre for well over a week now. (Ok, Netflix, it's on it's way back.) I hesitated to watch knowing that a movie about a deceased spouse would probably have me doused in tears. And it did. However, the movie is a bit more light-hearted than you might presume and I highly suggest a viewing to anyone who

1. needs to reminded how much they love their spouse.
2. wants to remember who they are.
3. should learn that passion makes life worthwhile.

Oh, and lest I forget...

4. believes Irish accents are completely irresistable. ( I wonder if my German-blooded husband could learn Gaelic.)

Anyway, thanks to all of you for allowing me to share my passion of writing. Next to my family and friends, it's another joy that makes my life blessed.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

It's My Life

My mind is chock full of blog postings, but my schedule seems too tight to give any one subject much time. So, here's just a few things on my mind to share with ya'll.

...I'm a horrible granddaughter. I have one living grandmother and it took my step-grandfather having an emergency surgery and being put in the ICU for me to visit them. I'm ashamed to admit how long it was before we visited and they only live fifteen miles away. And they're great! I love talking to Grandma. She's funny and sweet. She's the coolest 80+ year-old that I know, tattoo and all...

...After two guitar lessons, Alex is now in a band called Roxi. She has sung me three of her songs. How does an 11-year old develop all this anger and resentment over men?

...Flash is still alive.

...I'm on my way to becoming a harvest widow as Doug has spent every free minute preparing for the big season.

...New longer will I shop for unnecessary stuff to teach my kids a lesson...I'll let you know how this goes...

...My grandma is great and I've learned some very interesting information about my ancestors. (It's research for our trip to NYC in December.) Apparently there's a fair bit of promiscuity in my lineage. Whoa. It sure gives me some new ideas for novels.

...My bowels seem to be back to normal. Thanks for asking.

...Doug and I disagree about international adoption...

...With the rest of the world, I'm watching the U.S. financial crisis unfold. I'm glad to be working for the Shelby County State Bank so I can look customers in the eye with utmost confidence and tell them their dollars are safe with us. (There's absolutely no bit of sarcasm in that statement.)

And as Tigger says, TTFN (ta ta for now).... until I find a bit more time.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Hamster Diaries

May 2007: Cole was the winner today, so we get to care for Eugene, the class hamster, for the summer.

June 2007: Eugene is so cute. I must admit our family has really grown to love him.

July 2007: Something’s wrong with Eugene.

July 2007: Eugene’s dead. The vet had to put him to sleep. I cried like a baby. The kids were much stronger.

Fast forward a year

August 2008: Cole received a hamster from Grandma and Grandpa for his birthday. Joey is just as cute as Eugene. Maybe even cuter.

Sept 2008: Lost Joey. Turned the house upside down to no avail.

Sept 2008: Grandpa took Cole to get a new hamster. Grandpa didn’t want Cole to feel bad about Joey, so he told him, “I bet Joey got outside and is having the time of his life in one of the cornfields.” Cole looked at Grandpa and replied, “Grandpa, he’s probably dead by now.”

Cole quickly selected a new hamster. Hello, Flash.

When I laid eyes on Eugene and Joey, I was surprised how cute I found them to be. So, when we opened the box to meet our newest hamster, I was disappointed to find something that more closely resembled a rat. It was even difficult for me to hold him at first without feeling squeamish. I think it’s the nose. It’s as if Flash is doing a parody of himself.

Despite his looks, he’s a pretty friendly little guy. And when it comes to rodents, I’d take personality over looks any day.

Sept 2008: Flash is still alive. Only one week left of September. Hope he makes it to Halloween. He could easily go as a rat.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Weekend from Hell

Remember when you were in high school and were so excited about the big dance? You planned for weeks, dreaming of how perfect the dance was going to be. Then you went to the dance. Maybe my expectations were always too high, but the dance was always a bit of a disappointment.

As many of you know, I was very excited to take the kids to their first Hawkeye game. (More excited than any stupid dance.) Then the weekend came -- but it wasn't really a disappointment. It was a disaster.

1. Five hour drive to our hotel, which wasn't even in Iowa City. Pouring rain, completely stopped on the interstate for how long. And one extremely crabby hubby.
2. Water park closed at 10. We got there at 9:45. Sorry, kids. And no, you won't be able to go in the morning since the game starts at 11.
3. Woke up in the middle of the night, in the hotel, with excruciating belly pain that I attributed to endometriosis. I was up much of the night attempting to manage the pain.
4. Got to the tailgater much later than planned because of my condition. Lost our normal parking spot. Drove for 45 minutes to find one. Had to walk forever to get to our tailgater. It really hurt.
5. Tailgated in the rain. Still had major pain.
6. Went to overcrowded, drunken game and climbed to the 38th row (out of 40).
7. Left in second quarter to avoid vomiting on the fans in front of us.
8. After a billion hours on the road, my husband went in to help shingle his mother's house. (This is to point out how crappy Doug's weekend was.)
9. Then hubby took me to the ER as my pain continued to worsen. Doctor diagnosed a twisted bowel.

So, how was your weekend?

Wait! The Hawkeyes were triumphant. I guess that's something. (Kind of like getting to dance with one cute boy at the dance.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"A Penny Saved Is What?"cries the Kramer children

See a penny, pick it up... and SPEND IT! That would be my kids' motto.

A few years ago the bank (where I work)came out with the Jr. Savers Club. The great savings program awards $10 to every child that makes 10 deposits -- not a bad return for fairly low balances. I was so excited when this program came out. Certainly it would inspire my two spend-thrifty offspring to start saving.

So, I went home with two cool "Jr. Saver" t-shirts and two savings passbooks. (One was decorated with a Star Wars sticker for Cole and the other a cute puppy for Alex.) Then I explained the program.

“Cool t-shirts!”

“So, are you excited to start saving money?”

They shrugged. “I guess.”

I’m a banker, right? So, why don't my children understand the value of savings? Well, it was high time they start living up to their mother's name. So I thought. A year after I brought home the savings cards, I looked at their passbooks. Each had ONE deposit in their pass books, dated right around their birthdays.

Obviously, a program in and of itself can’t change behavior. Especially when you’re dealing with kids. So here’s a few things my hubby and I have done in attempt to raise good savers:

1) After brainstorming ways they could make money, we set up a “chore system” that pays them one dollar for each star they receive. Stars don’t come easy, so they understand how hard it can be to make money. (We also had to implement the rule of not accepting chore money from grandparents after my young son was offering to clean Grandpa’s garage in return for a few bucks…)
2)Then we implemented a plan to help them understand the consequence of making good choices. Every time we go out to eat, our kids can choose a beverage or they can drink water. If they drink water, we’ll give them a dollar. My daughter has done quite well on this program – putting back a dollar every time we visit a restaurant. When my son complains about her having more money, we remind him that he doesn’t have to drink soda when we go out. (It might prevent a cavity as well.)
3)Finally, we allow them to make a withdrawal from their savings account when their tenth deposit is attained. Both of the kids purchased their own IPods this way. Not only did they have great satisfaction in using their own money to pay for the device, but they take also take great care of it, much to Mom’s surprise!

So, they’re starting to get it. Admittedly, there are times when they need to be reminded of the value of savings. But don’t we all?

To find out more about the SCSB Jr. Saver's Club, check out our website. (If you have older kids, check out the GoBank website.)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Viva La Vida

I love Coldplay. Have I mentioned that before? The poetical lyrics. The unique collaboration of genres. The absence of the same 1,4,5 chords (for you musicians). And of course the beauty of Chris Martin's vocals that nearly make me weep.

When we become parents, we graciously put aside a few of our passions to raise our kids. One of my deep-seeded loves is music. But for many years now, I merely walk past my piano and guitar and think, "Someday. Someday, I'll come back to you."

The day is drawing nearer. While my kids have greatly enjoyed the music productions of Disney, we haven't really connected too greatly on the music scene. (Not that I don't love Disney...)But something amazing has happened!

I had the pleasure of having my kids disprove the assumption I was torturing them by listening to the new Coldplay CD for the past month in the car. (This would actually be a proclamation from my husband.)

"Mom, can we listen to track 5?" asks my precious Alex.

"But I like the one after that! Can we hear that one first," asked my sweet Cole.

Bestill my heart! Do you remember when Julia Roberts cries at the opera in Pretty Woman? Well, I was Richard Gere at that moment. My kids get it! They get Coldplay.

So, next week Alex begins guitar lessons. While she's at guitar lessons, Cole and I will dabble on the piano. (She wouldn't take a first-grader yet.) Thus, my love for music has not only been reignited, but apparently it has also been inherited.

It was worth the wait.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Don't Worry? Be Happy? Are you a Mom?

As I indicated last time, Cole's newest obsession is football. He's shown no inclination toward the sport until the last few weeks. (He learned the sport at recess and of course, his Dad has camped on to his new interest by teaching how to throw and catch the pigskin, or in our case a black-webbed football.) While Doug's excited about Cole's new interest, I'm not as thrilled. Sure, he's only seven and has a few years before he plays competitively, but I can't help but worry. He's not the biggest kid in the world. But he's like a dog, not knowing his own size, and often shows a bit more physical courage than he should.

He once told a friend of mine (who happens to have four boys of her own)that he doesn't like to show me or tell me about his biking stunts. "It just makes her worry." Keeping that in mind, the kid will never drive a car without his mom or dad as passenger. I doubt his dates or friends will mind. We're pretty fun people.

Anyway, while I've spent much of my daughter's life worrying about her emotional health (we're currently experimenting with an anti-inflammatory diet to keep the mood swings in check), I've spent most of my son's life worrying about his physical safety. In a way it balances me out! But some days I wonder, "Do I really have the heart to be a mother of these two lovable children?"

Of course I do. If I didn't, I wouldn't be worrying.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Football Fever

It all began with a simple game of catch. No, let me back up. It all began when we stopped at Scheels in Iowa City, home of the Hawkeyes. We all needed a Hawkeye update since we'll be going to the inter-state rivalry in a couple of weeks.
As we step foot into the store, I'm easily thrown into a nostalgic trance as the black and gold colors of my Alma Mater practically blind my eyes. Doug becomes like a kid in a candy store, picking out as many gawdy outdoor home decorations as he can find. Alex,well she needs this and this and this to go with that and what about this? (Does anyone remember Jim Carey in Dumb and Dumber when he goes to the grocery store with vert little cash to purchase "just the essentials", then comes out of the store with things like a cowboy hat and a giant pinwheel? Well, there you go.) And then there's Cole. It's a completely new venture for him - this Scheels in Iowa City. And, yes, he's bitten.

Of course the first thing that Cole needs is a sports card plaque of a former Hawkeye player that made it into the NFL.

"Cole, do you know Dallas Clark?"

"No, but it would look so good in my room!" What? It has nothing to do with Batman!

Then he brings me another. I don't even recognize the guy.

"Cole, go look at stuff with your Dad."

So, he does. Luckily we can convince Cole to buy something for $2 and he's satisfied. And even though I made Alex put back the Hawkeye bling shirt for $50 and the matching shorts, for another $45, we still walk out of the store with a bill over $250. But we should all look good for the upcoming game. And you should see the front of our house. Stop by and you'll feel very welcomed in "Hawkeye Country."

Next episode: Cole's new favorite Despite my efforts.