Sunday, May 31, 2009

The View from Our Front Porch Tonight

Our neighbors called at about 8:20pm tonight and told us to come outside. I was already in my pajamas. They said it didn't matter.

We have had a week of unseasonable rain, which I have been loving. I miss the days of steady rain like we had in Ohio (but not the steady WEEKS of rain we would sometimes have in Ohio!).

Anyway, this was our view when we stepped out onto the front porch.

Sorry I've been MIA for so many days. I had a million converging deadlines that I am proud to say I met either on time or early. I'm glad to have that behind me. . .until tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Keep Your Lips to Yourself

UGH! I had a different post planned for this morning, but while I was eating breakfast, a special report broke into the Today Show to announce President Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. I didn't bother hopping up to change the channel (because I'm lazy that way) and so I watched. President Obama did a nice introduction of Ms. Sotomayor and then turned to let her take the podium. He shook her hand. . .and then kissed her. Ugh!

That just drives me crazy and this goes back to the presidential elections when Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin was introduced or greeted by a man. They shook hands. . .and then they were kissed. On the cheek, of course, but I can't stand this.

It's not that I'm a crazy feminist--I enjoy having doors opened for me. It's not that I'm anti-kissing--I got used to this kiss greeting long ago with all of Eamonn's friends and family. In England, and most European countries, it's very common to greet a woman friend/family member or even a new acquaintance with a kiss on the cheek along with a handshake. A friend of ours who is French actually does four kisses, back and forth, on the cheek (he says at large family events they barely get through the greetings before the party is over). So I have no problem with the kiss greeting IN A SOCIAL SETTING.

But presidential and vice presidential debates? No. Political rallies? No, again. Introducing a highly regarded judge as a nominee to our nation's highest court? Sorry, no.

Did Barack Obama and John McCain kiss before their debates? Um, no. Do President Obama and VP Biden smooch when they pass in the halls of the White House? I'm guessing not. Biden and Palin upon meeting? Yes. Clinton and Obama? Yes, again.

What's the difference here? They do it when a woman is in the picture. And maybe they're just trying to be chivalrous or courteous or something, but stop it. It's not appropriate. This is not a social setting, it is the international political stage. If Joe and Sarah are meeting for drink, smooch away. Political debate? Keep your lips to yourself, thank you very much.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Happier than a pig in. . .well, you know.

Friday, May 22, 2009

So Big, And Yet Still So Small

Last night was the kindergarten spring "concert." I think it was called Spring and Sing, or something like that. For several weeks Finn has been singing the songs for the show. "It's been a great Y-E-A-R, YEAR!" Very cute. Those kinders were up there rockin' out and doing the moves the music teacher had practiced with them.

There was a brief incident when the show had to be stopped for some out-of-control kindergarten behavior, but all's well that ended well.

So as I was watching Finn up there on stage, I was reminded of how impossibly young my boys still are. That sounds weird because I also reflect constantly about how I could be old enough to have a 9-year old and how he's growing, but I've decided that my view of them is so distorted because I see them every day. It's only when I look back that I think, "Wow, they were so little."

Case in point:

Declan's first day of preschool. I was so excited for this day for him. He seemed SO grown up. He was 3 years, 5 months old. I just counted that up on my fingers to be sure.

There he goes, marching into school with his best friend at the time, Ellie (they always talked about getting married on the drive to and from school.). They're holding hands.

Looking back, I think he was actually somewhat traumatized by the whole thing. When we had gone to the pediatrician's office earlier in the summer, the doctor (the best pediatrician in the world, Michael Loar, office in Dublin should any of you in Central Ohio need a pediatrician) talked to Declan about potty training. Dr. Loar said, when you stop wearing diapers you'll be a big boy and go to preschool. Declan informed Dr. Loar he didn't want to be a big boy. In fact, for a time Declan used to always tell me he wouldn't be going to college because he wanted to stay home with me forever. I haven't heard that for awhile.

Anyway, my point here is that he seemed so grown up at the time.

Same thing with kindergarten. . .

First day of kindergarten in Ohio.

He just got on the bus! Alone! Of course, Ellie was on there, but they didn't get to sit together. I remember having a lot of angst about my kid just getting on the bus and driving away. . .to the school that wasn't even a mile from the house but the kids had to ride the bus because there weren't any sidewalks along the country road to the school.

Coming home. Exhausted.

Declan has just always been so capable, which is why I was surprised that the transition to first grade in Colorado was hard. I feel bad now that I didn't prepare him more. Again, so grown up.

But now I look at this picture of the first day of school in Colorado and realize he still looks so small:

First day of second grade:

First day of third grade:

Things have really clicked for Declan this year. This has been his first year since preschool that he has been at the same school two years in a row. And we just found out today that his third grade teacher is moving up to fourth grade and he can stay with her if he would like. He has already said yes. In this day and age, they call this process "looping." I spent grades 1 - 3 with the same teacher. Which perhaps explains why I am so loopy.

When Finn was about 10 months old, I took this picture of him with Declan. Declan is three. And when I saw this picture, I never guessed that I'd look at Finn and think that he was small.

Good grief. He's a giant. I think this whole post was pointless.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow?

And now, by popular demand (actually just by one person's demand), is a Hair Update.

FYI: I have curly hair. Growing up, I hated it. Let me reiterate: HATED IT. It was the 70s--the era of Marsha Brady and her super straight hair secured by one barrette at her temple. I begged my Mom to put my hair into pigtails like Tara who did have Marsha hair (is two considered pig tails and one a pony tail?), but she always said, "It won't look right," because instead of hanging in nice straight "tails" my hair curled up into a truly curly pig-like tail. I was sad. Oh, how I wanted super straight hair. But it wasn't meant to be. I was born with a 'fro. No lie.

Over the years I've sported some different hairstyles, but there aren't a whole lot of options with short, curly hair. It tends to always look the same. And if you cut it too short, you look like a Q-tip, especially in the summer when your curls adhere to your head in the humidity of Central Ohio.

The longest my hair has been before now was in grad school when it was nearly shoulder length. It wasn't a good look, but it was summer and I was traveling around Europe with friends so who really cared? We had hats on much of the time anyway. As an aside, ask Marci about why you shouldn't put your favorite hat in a backpack with a peach.

Anyway, not a lot of hair stylists can really work well with curly hair. If they don't have it themselves, I think they're somewhat mystified by it. And then we moved, and I found Nick. Actually I should say that Tara forced me on Nick, but it sounds better to say I found Nick. Nick is a hair stylist with curly hair. My life has never been the same.

Tara and Erin have both had mostly long hair throughout their lives. Right now they both have short hair because they cut it for Locks of Love already. So I, the usually short-haired one, am the only one with long hair now. It's been an interesting journey.

Two years ago we all, including my niece, Ellie, decided to grow our hair for Locks of Love. Tara and Erin already had long hair and mine probably wasn't even chin length at the time. So they had a little jump on me. I'll never forget when Tara told Craig we were growing our hair. Instead of commenting on his wife's efforts, he stared at her with his mouth open: "Natalie is going to grow her hair? Natalie? She'll look like Elaine Benes!"

That made me laugh. I figured he was probably right.

So now after all of this growing and not weaving of my hair--Locks of Love supposedly doesn't accept color treated hair--and enduring comments from my mother: "Your hair is so long. . .and dark," I think I'm almost there. Thank goodness because over the weekend I had to listen to some comments from people who shall remain nameless telling me I resemble an aging Janis Joplin. Or that I should be in an 80s hair band.

The cons: Long hair swings forward and gets in your mouth when you're trying to eat a sandwich. It gets in your mouth when the wind blows. It sticks to your neck when it's hot. It takes a long time to dry. It gets tangled and dreadlock-ish on a regular basis. It takes a lot more shampoo and conditioner to take care of it.

The pros: It is fun, however, to braid it, put it up in a pony tail, put it in pigtails for skiing, clip it up in some sort of twist, etc. After all of these years, doing different things with my hair every day is a nice change.

I've heard varying things about what length I need to go to before I cut it. I've heard as little as eight inches and as much as 12 inches. If it's eight, I'm there. If it's 12, I'm hanging on. I've got 12 inches of cutable hair, but it'll be right up against my head--a look I've had before and would like to steer clear of from now on.

I usually wear it clipped back because I can't stand having it fall into my face. Which basically tells me that once this hair growing folly is over, I'll go to Nick and have him give me some short, curly do again and order will be restored in the world.

The front view. . .

The rear view. . .

(I know it doesn't look like 10 inches, but with curly hair, they pull it straight to measure it.)

Not exactly Marsha Brady, but it's growing on me.

Monday, May 18, 2009

(Ear) Waxing Poetic

I have decided every trip to Chicago with my cousin Jeannie must be accompanied by some sort of trauma. For her. It's like some sort of trial to see how she holds up.

I think she got off easy in 2005. If there was trauma, I've blocked it out. In 2006, Aunt Kathy and I dragged Jeannie to Nordstrom for a bra fitting. I found the whole experience to be uplifting. Jeannie? Not so much. I don't think she digs strangers fiddling around with her parts. I figure once they've fiddled around with my parts, we're no longer strangers, and I might even have a new friend.

I thought long and hard about what Jeannie's Trial would be this year. I wasn't really struck with inspiration until we were actually in Chicago and we were, for some bizarre reason, having a conversation about ear wax. Aha! It had to be ear candling for 2009 (Yes, sadly there was a three year gap in my Chicago sojourns. Jeannie went to Chicago without me and trauma-free for those years.).

If you've never used ear candles before, I highly recommend it. It's amusing and slightly gross--a great combination.

So what is ear candling? You use beeswax (or sometimes other types) candles and fit the point down in your ear. The candles are hollow. After getting the pointed end down in your ear, you light the other end and voila! The vacuum of the flame/heat draws some pretty interesting things out of your ears.

Of course, this is something I learned from my sisters--those two tend to be my entrees to all things bizarre in the natural world. Neti pots? My sisters. Eating raw oat groats? Ditto. Homeopathy? Cleansing? Kombucha? Sisters. Sisters. Sisters.

The ear candling has become something we all do together, usually when my mom is in town. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you get a huge Shrek-like piece of wax out of your ear. Other times, not that much comes out. That's kind of a bummer.

So I was pretty excited to introduce Jeannie and Aunt Kathy to this new venture. Aunt Kathy, always game for anything, drove us around town to find the ear candles. I think Jeannie was secretly relieved when Whole Foods told us they don't carry ear candles--probably some sort of liability if a customer lights themselves on fire. But I'm just guessing.

But we were rewarded the next day when we found a local health food store that carried the candles. I raced back out to the car brandishing the candles like the Olympic torch. We were on our way to see Jersey Boys so our appointment with our ear wax had to wait a bit. And, as an aside here, go see Jersey Boys. Awesome.

So Sunday night, after prying Jeannie away from her computer, we began.

Here's what ear candling looks like:

Setting her alight.

Jeannie waits patiently for the candle to burn down.

Note how carefully I'm watching to make sure Jeannie doesn't catch fire. I'm a good cousin that way.

I'll spare you photos of what came out of our ears. Actually, none of us was really that waxy, which was a bummer. Next time I'll have my Mom come--she's usually good for some impressive chunks.

"Experts" poo poo ear candling and say it doesn't really pull wax out. But heck, if that's not wax coming out of my ears, I'd love to know what in the world is it? Portions of my brain? Come to think of it, that's entirely possible. You do see a lot of powdery stuff when you unroll the candle. I think that's the beeswax dust. But there are large chunks of what is obviously wax and frankly, I think I hear better after we do the candles.

So to heck with the experts--I dig it, I think it works, and that's what matters.

A few tips:
1. Don't do the ear candles alone. For obvious reasons. I also don't recommend wearing a lot of hairspray prior to having a lighted candle near your head.
2. Use a tin pie plate between you and the flame. For obvious reasons.
3. Have a bowl of water ready to put out the candle when you're finished. Or, as Jeannie pointed out, you could pour it over the person's head if you set them on fire.

Good luck. And remember, only you can prevent forest fires.

As a preview for tomorrow, I'll be posting an update on my hair. Get ready Anne K.!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We Interrupt This Post To Watch Natalie Bang Her Head Against the Wall

I'd be curious as to what you think about this. . .Long story ahead.

Let's face it: School food sucks. It's gross. It's mostly chemicals, preservatives, articifial colors and flavors. In short, in the standard school lunch program, there's probably nothing that's good for our kids. (The National School Lunch Program has got to be one of the most corrupt systems I've ever heard about, but that's a whole 'nother story)

Back in Ohio, discussions about changing the school lunch program in our district were just getting underway. There was a local woman who had approached our school board about improving the food, but I didn't really get involved because we were getting ready to move. But the president of the school board basically told her that they shouldn't take away kids' choice. Choice? Choice to have chemicals vs. healthy food? Excuse me, we are the big people here.

When we arrived in Colorado, I was a little disturbed to find out that even at the elementary school level, junk food was available for sale to the kids. On top of the nasty lunch options. Ick. Hot Cheetos, Doritos, soda, ice cream, Gatorade, Fruit Roll Ups, cinnamon buns. For sale. To Kindergartners.

I was annoyed.

And I wasn't alone. Except that I found out that many parents weren't even aware their kids could buy this stuff.

Already in 2006, a friend of Tara's had been approaching the district's director of food service about improving the lunches and getting rid of the junk for several years. Then Tara got involved and was able to get most of the junk out of her school, but she had to do it all herself--all of the research, purchasing, stocking, reordering, etc. She even had to get the grant to pay for it all.

By this time, we had moved out here and I jumped on the bandwagon, too, and started taking part in what had become a committee of parents who wanted change things. Over the course of a year and a half or so, we have been able to change some of the snacks in the elementary schools. The crap in the junior and high schools still exists. Plus, there's still crap in the elementary schools, but it's better crap. The chips are baked (still filled with preservatives though). And there are only about 10 choices now instead of the 50 or so the kids had before. Some of the options are healthier like real fruit leather (instead of fruit roll ups), sunflower seeds, etc. But there are still push ups, ice cream, etc.

We were first working with the district's director of food service who is possibly the world's biggest road blocker I have ever seen. For every idea we have, there is a road block and a reason we can't accomplish something. Sure he'll change the school lunch program--if the parents find all the money and do all the work.

Last summer we got a new superintendent and we all had hope that with a new administration, change might be becoming.

After giving the new superintendent some time to settle in, our informal committee contacted her to get things rolling--to ask to be recognized as a formal committee, to have district representation at each meeting and to have this person have some sort of decision-making authority. We explained that our goal was to create a district Wellness Committee that would help the district implement and follow its Wellness Policy--which is a federally mandated document that was adopted by our district in 2006 and that we violate in many, many areas.

We sent our e-mail to the new superintendent and the president of the school board in the beginning of December and requested a meeting.

We received no reply.

We wrote again in February.

No reply.

I was, as Eamonn likes to say, gobsmacked. As a parent AND a taxpayer in this district, I was floored that no one could be bothered to even hit reply and say, "Sorry, this isn't of interest to us right now." Are you kidding me? If I'd treated a customer like that when I was employed, I wouldn't have had a job for very long. And if I behaved like that to my clients today, I wouldn't have a business.

In early April, I went with our little committee to a board meeting and we repeated our request for a formal committee with some decision-making capacity.

The next day I received an e-mail from the district that said, "Thank you for coming to the school board meeting. Good luck with your project." I must have lost consciousness for a minute because I don't remember what happened after that.

After quizzing a school board member about what that e-mail meant, we were then informed that the superintendent would be calling us to schedule a meeting. That was six weeks ago. Still nothing.

For the past year and a half, I have played "nice" with this whole ordeal because some of the people on our informal committee didn't want to piss off the powers that be. So we have played nice. But you know what? Playing nice has gotten us nowhere and now here we sit, another year on and no progress.

So tonight, a group of parents at our neighborhood elementary school showed the documentary, "Two Angry Moms," which follows the journey of two women who tried to change the lunch program at their school district. We had a small turnout, just 15 people, among whom was the district food service guy. I could barely contain myself listening to his rhetoric yet again about how he'd love to see change, but. . .roadblock, roadblock, roadblock.

Why do I care and why do I keep pursuing what seems like a futile effort? Why don't I just pack my kids' lunch all the time and be quiet?

Well, first, because that's just not me. And the first time I met the food service guy he sort of shook his head and said something to the effect of: "Yeah, every few years a group of parents shows up and wants to change to food and it never goes anywhere." And then he sort of sighed and sat down like he would endure talking to our group until we got bored with seeing no change and went away, too.

Nothing motivates me like a jackass.

I come from a long line of educators. In fact, I'm about the only female on my mom's side of the family who is not a teacher. There are a lot of teachers amongst the cousins on my dad's side, too. So it's not like I don't care or understand about what's going on in the schools. They're overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated. I know this. I've lived it in my own house growing up. BUT, as a taxpayer and a parent and someone who has spent an inordinate amount of time researching nutrition, I also know that all of the money I'm paying as a taxpayer and fundraising for as a member of the PTA to raise money for various educational programs doesn't mean squat if we aren't giving kids what they need from a nutritional standpoint so that they can sit in a classroom ready to learn.

For example, research shows us that very common preservatives in soda and chips, which are available to kids at lunch, cause an ADD-like reaction in kids 20 minute to one hour after consumption. So, they consume the chemicals, go outside for recess, and then right when we want them to come back inside and learn, these chemicals are hitting their systems. Are we asking them to do the impossible and then labeling them as discipline problems? But again, why do I care if I don't let my kids eat that stuff anyway. Because the kids that do consume that stuff affect the whole class. And as a taxpayer am I throwing good money away on these great educational programs that aren't getting used to their fullest potential?

But parents need to be taking care of nutrition at home, right? This is the parents' responsibility! Yes, I agree. Good nutrition needs to take place at home, too, but one-third of a kid's meals are consumed at school, whether it's in a packed lunch or a purchased lunch. But let's face it, this isn't 1955 and the days of June Cleaver packing a perfectly balanced lunch just aren't realistic. That paradigm doesn't exist in 2009. I wish it weren't true, but it is, and that lunch may be the only square meal a kids gets in a day. So shouldn't it be something that's nutritionally sound and not chicken nuggets that don't actually contain chicken (I'm not kidding).

I don't know. I don't have all the answers. But research does also show that when you remove these chemicals and stuff, test scores improve and discipline problems go down.

I also know that school districts are struggling financially and that these junk foods make money. Lots of it. There are so many factors.

I do know that I'm motivated by "Two Angry Moms" (www.angrymoms.org) and that maybe, just maybe, this is the start of something. And maybe all of this headbanging will be for something.

I'm going to rest my head now. In Chicago.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Today was Finn's last occupational therapy session! It wrapped up a lot more quickly than we had anticipated, which is exciting from a progress standpoint for him, and from a budget standpoint for us.

And while our pursestrings are a little happier this evening, I'm a little sad as well. We won't be seeing Megan, who is pictured above with Finn on our front porch this afternoon, every week now. I confess I was a little teary saying our goodbyes after Finn's final session today. I think Megan was one of those angels on Earth sent to help us last fall when we were at a pretty low point.

The changes we've seen over the school year as Finn worked with Megan have been nothing short of phenomenal. I wouldn't even know where to start, but suffice it to say that he now has been evaluated and falls in the "normal" category for every area on the sensory evaluation.

The science behind all of it is truly amazing. Through all of the different therapies Megan used with Finn, his little brain has literally been rewired to help him function in his day-to-day environment like any other 6-year old boy.

Like any other 6-year old boy. Music to my ears.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


As I was sitting here on the couch tonight, channel surfing while trying to come up with an inspired headline and lead for a news release, I came across Sleepless in Seattle. I love Sleepless in Seattle. In fact, I own it (on VHS--tee hee). How many times have I watched it? I don't know. I've lost count. It gives me such warm fuzzy feelings. I love everything about it--the story, the characters, the actors who play them. I want to be Meg Ryan and have her hair.

Insert a bit of history here--when I had short, curly blond hair (vs. the long, curly brown hair I'm sporting now in honor of Locks of Love), I used to have people tell me I looked like Meg Ryan when she was in City of Angels. Have I said that before? I think I've said that before. It's late. I'm repeating myself. I've never seen City of Angels so I can't confirm or deny this resemblance, but I can confirm it probably goes no further than the hair.

Anyway, as I sat sort of watching Meg and Tom for about the zillionth time, and sort of doing my work, I started thinking about how when there's a movie on TV that I really love, I'll watch it, commercials and all, even though I own the darn thing on video or DVD. It's like a train wreck--I can't bring myself to change the channel. One time Eamonn and I stayed up until 1 a.m. watching The Brothers McMullen, which I feel certain we've seen at least five times--once in the movie theater and now in endless reruns--ruining our sleep for a week, just because.

I often stumble across A League of Their Own on a Saturday while I'm folding laundry. I watch and try to drag out the laundry folding so I can see the whole thing. As if I couldn't just put in the tape and watch it if happen to miss the end of it "live" on TV.

What else do I love, own and yet still watch on TV?

-9 to 5. It just doesn't get any better than Lily, Dolly, Jane and Dabney. I know all the words to the song. I know, my talent boggles the mind, doesn't it?
-Footloose. Because there's just something about Kevin Bacon dancing and doing gymnastics moves around a deserted barn-y looking warehouse.
-The Sound of Music. Even though they cut tons of it out. This is actually why I DON'T watch White Christmas on TV--only on DVD.
-Bridget Jones' Diary--Except that it's not nearly as funny without all the swearing. Sorry, but it's true for me. Same for Bend it Like Beckham and The Full Monty.
-Most James Bond. This is really more for Eamonn's sake. He gets tired of all the period drama I record and he needs a break.
-You've Got Mail. Tom and Meg again. I love it. "That caviar is a garnish!" It's something Tara would chastise someone for.
-Any Harry Potter.
-Any Indiana Jones.
-Four Weddings and a Funeral. I never thought Hugh Grant would look dated, but check out those glasses, man.
-Circle of Friends. Minnie Drive is so cute chubby. It's a downer that Colin Firth plays an ass though.
-Ben Hur. Is this my favorite movie of all time? I think it might be. The first scenes I ever saw from it were in Mr. Ellwood's World History class, sophomore year in high school, when we were learning about Rome. He wanted us to see how the chariot races looked. The rumor was that the guy who gets run over by the chariot actually was run over and he died. I'm going right now to IMDB to look that up. Hold on. Well, how about that. Not true. All these years. . .but, the site does say that Charlton Heston's double did actually get thrown out of the chariot and climbs back in and they kept it in the movie. Cool. That makes me feel better.
-When Harry Met Sally. I'll have what she's having.
-Sixteen Candles. I can't believe my grandmother actually felt me up. But come to think of it, this one hasn't been on TV much.
-Breakfast Club. Can you describe the ruckus?
-The Princess Bride. No more rhyming. I mean it.
-The Parent Trap. The REAL Parent Trap. Heck, the never run that one either. It's just the new one now.
-Braveheart. Even with all of the heads being lopped off, Mel Gibson is hot with his fake Scottish accent and kilt. But then again, that was before he went on his bigoted, drunken tirade.

It's a good thing I have a lot of laundry to fold on weekends.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Book Jam

My nightstand, the area next to the nightstand, and under my bed have all become a book repository. I love to read, but I'm apparently pretty schizophrenic with my reading habits.

Occasionally I get a book and read it straight through and return it to the library or whoever loaned it to me, but more often than not I have multiple books going at once. I was curious as to what the ongoing book list looks like in black and white.

I'm actively reading:
Scarpetta, by Patricia Cornwell
A Breath of Snow and Ashes, by Diana Gabaldon (for the second time, getting ready for her next book because there are so many characters I can't remember them all)
Love and Respect, by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

I started reading, but have temporarily stopped reading:
Sensational Kids, by Lucy Jane Miller--I did get through most of it
Trinity, by Leon Uris--good grief, what was I thinking?
A History of London, by Stephen Inwood--I was all into reading about it before one of our trips and so Tara gave it to me for Christmas. I got to page xvi in the forward and became overwhelmed.
Nights of Rain and Stars, by Maeve Binchy--one of my fave authors so I don't know why it's taking me so long

I keep meaning to read (some of these are books people have loaned me and I've kept them for a rudely long time):
The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant
Natural Cures They Don't Want You to Know About, Kevin Trudeau
More Natural Cures They Don't Want You to Know About, Kevin Trudeau
London, by Edward Rutherford--Theresa loaned this to me years ago
Finn MacCool, by Morgan Llywelyn--also from Theresa
The Trouble With Boys, by Peg Tyre
Simple Abundance, by Sarah Ban Breathnach
Portrait of a Killer, Patricia Cornwell (I might be too scared to read that)
Parenting with Love & Logic, probably too late for that one
Between Parent and Child, ditto
On Becoming Childwise, we did Babywise and apparently I never read the sequel
Diana, by Andrew Morton (Melaney, have you been looking for it?)
How Israel Was Won, by Baylis Thomas--my dad says this will help me understand the conflict in the Middle East. . .if possible.
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause, by John R. Lee, M.D.--because it's about that time.
An Irish Country Doctor, by Patrick Taylor--yet another one I have from Theresa who is probably going to turn me in to the book police.
Mistress of the Sun, by Sandra Gulland--Eamonn got it at a silent auction and I was all like, "Hey, I can't wait to read that. . ."
The Melaleuca Wellness Guide, came free, I think, with an order, but like all things, I can't just shelve it.
Boyhood and Beyond, by Bob Schultz. Came free with a Timberdoodle order when I ordered a bunch of games to teach logic. I can't figure out any of the games to teach the boys.

Then I have a whole bag of magazines from nearly years ago that require actual reading vs. scanning, like I can do with People. No, these are magazines like Cooking Light, which I don't get anymore because I became overwhelmed by trying to keep up with them. For a year I received it, but never had time to read it. But I can't seem to get rid of them. So, I have this plan that one day I'll have a Reading Day and go through them all, cut out the recipes I want to keep and then just recycle the mags. Then my conscience will be clear.

I had thought Reading Day would be this spring. Now I'm targeting fall. And as for all of the unread books? I'm guessing 2020.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sore Loser

This weekend Declan's soccer team lost both of its games. Until then, the team had been undefeated. Suddenly I realized what the parents in Aspen, Silt and New Castle must have felt like over the past few weeks when our boys beat theirs and we sat cheering and celebrating.

The loss on Saturday was disapponting, but the score was only 2 - 1--a respectable showing, especially considering our team had to play the first quarter two men down (a family with three kids on the team was late and two other kids were sick or out of town).

It wasn't until Sunday, when we played another local team (from a much wealthier part of the valley--I'll leave it at that), that I discovered I am a sore loser. Miraculously, the score was only 5 - 2. But it seemed much worse and it also seemed like the game would never end. Thanks to some great goalie work (by our three different goalies), our team held theirs to just 5 goals. As if that wasn't bad enough.

I was supposed to be recording the game on one of the coach's cameras, but I found myself zooming in on annoying parents and giving a commentary on why I felt they were annoying (excessive cheering, coaching from the sidelines, parking their Mercedes and BMWs in more than one spot in the parking lot so I had to park in the grass). I hope I didn't miss any important plays during my fit of snide comments.

I can't believe how annoyed I was. I was even annoyed when they cheered for our team. We don't NEED your cheering (pity). I think I took the loss harder than the kids did. Frankly, our team didn't deserve to win this weekend. They were kind of lazy and they were playing really strong teams where that kind of play wasn't going to fly.

But it was a learning experience for me. I learned a lot about myself and how I need to improve my own attitude and behavior to set an example for the kids. And besides, we always kick this same town's asses in hockey so in the end, it didn't feel so bad.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Into the Caves

So yesterday I had my massage and trip through the vapor caves in Glenwood. The massage was nice, but I think I was more wow'd by the caves.

Glenwood Springs is known for its hot springs and the caves surrounding the area. A big tourist draw is the Fairy Caves where you can go on a tour through these caves with amazing formations. We've been twice--once before we lived here and then again when some friends came to visit (hello, Lindseys!). The caves are pretty cool.

The caves I went to yesterday were the vapor caves, which I had never been to before. The spa is built over the caves. These caves have natural underground hot mineral water steam baths. Hot mineral waters flow through the cave floors at 125 degrees F (there are all sorts of signs warning you not to touch the water) to create natural geothermal steam baths. The vapor caves consist of three adjoining underground rock chambers. From inside the spa, you go down a set of stone stairs and pass through a stone corridor into the caves.

I have to say, as cool as it was, it was a little bit freaky, too. First, it's pretty dark and I wondered if someone was waiting in there to murder me. These are the types of thoughts you have when you descend into a cave after reading Patricia Cornwell books. But really, all I could think about was Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher being hunted by Injun Joe.

The first corridor you descend into isn't that hot, but as soon as you go around the corner, it was like hitting a wall of humidity. It was immediately like I had stepped out of a pool--I was soaking wet. the air is that heavy.

Second, they talk about the "natural steam vapor in the warm, dimly lit cave chambers." Let's be honest here: it's not warm, it's bloody hot and it's pretty stinky. Not in a "I'm about to gag up my breakfast way" but it's a pretty sulfuric smell. It definitely wasn't a good smell, but it wasn't unbearable. And supposedly it's good for you. My sinuses did feel better down there than they have in a long time. In fact I pondered for about 1 millisecond whether I could get Finn in there to soothe his sinuses. The answer is no. And besides, it would make his hair go crazy.

Cave temperatures average 110 -112 degrees F. They recommend you stay in there only 10 - 12 mintues at a time and they have plastic tubs that you can fill with cool water and keep next to you if you want to splash some cool water on you. As a cave virgin, I didn't know about the little tubs or that you could also get a eucalyptus spritzed washcloth at the desk to really get your sinuses on full alert.

So I was in a cave--a real live cave--wondering around. There are stone benches all over the place where you can sit and hang out for your 10 - 12 minutes at a time. I sat down in the biggest room, just because there was no one in that particular room, and looked around. Pretty amazing and weird to think there was an entire building and part of a mountain over my head.

My thoughts:
-I hope there aren't any bats in here.
-I can hear the water running down the crevices of the cave and across the floor. Is it going to burn me? How do you NOT touch the water in here?
-Where is Injun Joe?
-What if I dose off and evaporate?
-What if the cave suddenly collapses?

You know, because I'm such a positive thinker that way. I had all of those thoughts in the first 60 seconds or so and then I relaxed and sniffed the sulfuric air.

The weird thing is though is that even though it wasn't busy, this is the off-season here now, you'd walk through the caves and people would just be in these alcoves or rooms and it felt like I was totally invading their privacy. I wasn't sure what the cave protocol was--do you just join people in the various cave rooms? Do you try to find your own alcove or cave room? What is the cave ettiquette? So after blundering upon several people, I ended up in the biggest room on my own. I wanted to explore around a little more, but again, it felt weird going in and gaping around while people were in there trying to relax. And while everyone is supposed to wear a bathing suit, I later heard someone say, "That guy just walked up the step totally naked!" I think that would have sent me over the edge. Remember, modesty is my hallmark.

From the vapor caves Web site:
The Ute Indians who originally inhabited this region visited these caves for centuries, and regarded them as a sacred place of healing and rejuvenation. Visitors today still honor that tradition. The Vapor Caves purify body and spirit as they soothe away aches and pains. The Indians had done much to spread the fame of the hot mineral springs as a wonderful healing source. Early settlers used holes scooped into the ground and shielded by pine boughs as their bathtubs, an idea copied from the Indians who brought their sick to the springs for treatment.

These are the only known natural vapor caves in North America ...others are manmade excavations.

So I don't know how pure I was when I came out, but it was quite an experience. And in the end, I didn't see Tom, Becky, or Injun Joe. Or Patricia Cornwell.