Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I have a really old car.

As you can see...

I took these pictures today as my car rolled over the monumetal milestone of 200,000 miles.

Weeks ago, Eamonn had put the camera in the car so I would be ready for this event.

I brought the camera into the house and said, "Why is the camera in the car?" The camera never made it back into the car which is why when I was pulling into the Costco parking lot at 199,999 miles, I panicked because what in the world was I going to do because I could picture the camera in the kitchen and not in the car where it was supposed to be on this momentous occasion!?

Thank goodness for camera phones.

I took several shots that didn't work. Then I figured out I needed to turn off the flash, which can actually be done. After two years with this phone, I was able to figure this out at the moment of truth. Yay me.

So I pull into the Costco lot and just happen to look down and see 199,999. Whew. Glad I didn't miss it while randomly driving around.

Took the photos. Drove around the Costco parking lot to rack up another mile and took the 200k picture.

I'm pretty sure I alarmed some of the patrons with my continued circling.


And the thing is, I love this car. I do not want another one. In my mind, it can't be replaced. It's a '99 VW Passat Wagon and it was the last year these were made in Germany. Now they're made in Mexico. I feel unenthused about a German car made in Mexico.

It has been an amazing car. Other than routine maintenance, we've had nary a problem with it. KNOCK WOOD. KNOCKING WOOD LOUDLY RIGHT NOW.

I figure at least 100,000 of the miles have been to and from hockey and soccer games.

But in addition to sporting events, some of the VW's exploits include:

-Four roundtrips from Ohio to Colorado. And then one Ohio to Colorado trip (no return that time!)
-Two round trips Ohio to Florida
-Round trip Ohio to Ocean City
-Two round trips Ohio to Canada (Ontario)
-Two trips to Branson--one from Ohio, one from Colorado
-Countless trips to Utah
-Colorado to Yellowstone (Wyoming)

It has carried 12 Christmas trees (and nearly been stuck in the snow on one of those adventures--no four-wheel drive on our little car!), transported kids and pets alike (RIP Kirby!), was bumped in a parking lot once, had numerous windshields, and more sets of new tires than I have shoes (OK, that might be an exaggeration, but you get the point), has held bikes, tents, snowshoes, skiis, more bikes, hockey gear, soccer gear. Sometimes much of that was at the same time.

And in 12 years, when I take pictures of it turning over 400,000 miles, I swear I'll dust the dashboard before I take pictures.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ta Ta, Oprah!

Has anyone else been watching the last season of Oprah?

I've watched her show on and off over the years. When I was a freshman in college (I think), the Oprah Show started airing on a local TV station. I vividly remember waiting for a class to start and listening to the show where she went to the all white town on a friend's Sony Walkman since we weren't at home to watch it.

Sophomore year, after classes, I'd run over to my friend Wendy's dorm and we'd watch it. Memorable event from that year? When she lost all of the weight and wheeled the wagon full of fat onstage.

My viewing waxed and waned however. Once I started working, it was harder to watch. I still caught episodes here and there though. And of course, since having kids, I felt like I rarely got to watch. You should hear the cries of protest that go up when I turn on Oprah when I start dinner.

But this year I decided that since we now have the Amazing and Wonderful DVR, I would record the shows and watch when no one was home. That way I didn't have to deal with the "You're watching Oprah again?" drama.

As an added bonus, Oprah's new TV network, OWN, has been airing Oprah Behind the Scenes. Ooooo, I confess I love that show even more than the actual Oprah Show itself!

So this whole season (the last three episodes air Monday - Wednesday this week) has sort of been a "where are they now." Aside from not being invited to the last Favorite Things show (they actually did two this year), I've enjoyed the season and I don't think I've missed many episodes. Except when we were in England. I didn't record three weeks of Oprah, much to Eamonn's relief.

Anyway, as I've been watching, I've realized how much I DIDN'T see over the years. For example, I vaguely remember Dr. Phil getting his start on Oprah and the whole lawsuit with the beef industry, but who the heck was Ilyana Whatshername? And why did we need two shows devoted to her?

And James Frey. Did we really need to see James Frey again on TWO episodes? What a waste. I would have prefered to have an episode about Oprah's hair stylist and ask him what he was thinking for many, many years.

Other episodes I started and then deleted after a few minutes: Goldie Hawn talking about happiness. She's apparently some sort of expert. I will grant you that she seems very happy, but in a dingy kind of way. And actually, I can't remember what else I deleted...because I deleted them.

I missed the Sister Wives, dang it. How can you not watch that train wreck? And how about the Mystery Sister being unveiled. Wonder how that's working out? Loved seeing Ralph Lauren's ranch in Telluride, but if I had to hear her say one more time about counting the number of fence posts and wishing she could go inside, well, it was driving me nuts.

Diana Ross--liked it.
Michael Jackson's mom--liked it.
Makeovers--liked it.
Hookups--liked it.

Susan Lucci--could have done without her and her zillion on screen husbands.

Sound of Music reunion--awesome.

Camping in Yellowstone--freaking hilarious. I even watched it when they re-ran it.

Fergie--get your life together, woman.

Barbra Streisand--love her music, but can't decide if she's an annoying diva or what. While that house of hers looks really cool, the dolls in the basement scared me.

I can't think of anything that I felt like I wanted to see, but didn't. Except for me on the Favorite Things, of course.

Two more days and then Oprah is history! I think Eamonn is immensely relieved.

I now have some extra time in the day to fill.

Monday, May 16, 2011

What Would You Say to Your 20-Year-Old Self?

Assuming you're over 20, that is.

Over the past 18 months, and especially in the last six months, I've really made a concerted effort to take better care of myself. I lost those last few nagging pounds, I'm trying to get more sleep (terrible at this), drink more water (also terrible at this), take better care of my skin, etc.

I've definitely noticed some changes over the last few years, since turning 40 of course, and they seem to be accelerating. Basically, everything I made fun of my parents for (groaning when they get up or down from a chair, stiff knees, moving reading material forward and back in attempt to focus) is coming true.

Gah. It's gross.

With that said, while I don't want to go gently into that good night and just let my body detiorate without a fight, I also want to be somewhat graceful about the whole thing. My Grandma was a really great example of aging. Although I definitely remember her getting down on the family room floor at her house and rolling around on the floor in her nightie, doing exercises to Gloria Marshall, she always talked about how each age was something to look forward to.

She may have been lying to make me feel better. Who knows.

So I'm trying to think about my older self talking to my younger self, really at any age. What would my 40-year-old self say to my 20-year-old self? What will my 50-year-old self say?

At this point, here are the things I would advise/suggest/encourage my younger self.

-You are not fat. Your weight went up and down some, and there were some times that you were softer (like after living in Europe for the summer of '93), but fat? No.
-With that said, eat better. Avoid chemicals!
-Take care of your skin. Stay out of the sun. Tans are overrated. Moisturize. You may try to age gracefully, but age spots are a drag. So is skin cancer. Fair is just fine.
-Stop fighting your hair.
-Don't sweat the small stuff. School work will get done. Work will get done. And if it doesn't, the earth will not stop turning.
-No one is looking at how clean your house is. Instead of cleaning, go outside. Be active. On your deathbed, you will not regret that you didn't dust.
-Don't gossip. Be genuine. Smile more.
-This, too, shall pass. Whatever it is.

What would you tell your younger self?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Things I Don't Make My Husband Do

Once upon a time, and truly, I think it was only once, I went grocery shopping with Eamonn. He was still my boyfriend then, but truly I only recall going to the grocery store together once. It was very early days in our relationship and I think we were planning to cook dinner together, so off we went to peruse the aisles of Kroger to decide what to make.

We are a Divide and Conquer family. If I'm at the grocery store, it's usually during the day when he's at work. Or if it's the weekend, he's doing something with the boys or working on the house. We don't have enough time for both of us to take off and go to the store. We've got things to do!

The reason this is on my brain is that yesterday I was in Denver for a meeting. If I have to go to Denver and if I need something (or one could argue even if I don't need something), I'll stop by Kohl's. We don't have a Kohl's in the valley. I confess, I miss it. I like Kohl's.

Anyway, I was pulling up to Kohl's and I saw a couple heading in together. I giggled a little. Of course, Eamonn and I have been in Kohl's together before. Trips like that usually mean I have indicated that his wardrobe is in a shambles and he needs to buy something new, so I drag him there when there's a sale. But frankly, more often than not, I go in, pick stuff out and bring it home. That was easier when we lived 10 minutes from Kohl's, but we still use that strategy. He's not a big shoppper. Big surprise.

So seeing that couple walking into Kohl's got me thinking about things I don't make my husband do:

1. Go shopping with me--grocery store or otherwise. I can't imagine parading out of the fitting room in multiple outfits for his review. Plus, I try to keep what I buy pretty much of a secret, pulling it out of my closet as needed and hoping he doesn't notice I've even been shopping. And as for the grocery store, as long as there's food in the fridge, he seems happy.

2. Watch Woman TV or Chick Flicks. Every once in awhile, he'll humor me on a special occasion and sit through something his friends will make fun of him for. Like the time we went to see You've Got Mail on our second anniversary. But there are limits. Like the time I wanted to see Mama Mia. I confirmed that he did NOT want to go, and I was right, and I went with my sister and her friends. We sang through the whole thing. There was one guy, one sad, embarassed guy, in the whole theater. He was there with his girlfriend. And he was slumped so far down in his seat you could just see the top of his head. I bet they broke up the next day. Heck, I would have dumped her, too. Get a clue, girlfriend. If want to watch Woman TV, I go to another part of the house. Like when I want to watch Oprah.

3. Eat frou frou food or a meal that nothing has died for. Or lentils. One time in our newlywed days, I slaved for hours over this lentil casserole with this special topping. He was about to eat it, fork poised at his lips, and he said, "I love everything except lentils." So never again.

4. Go on beach vacations. Or any other vacation where you sit around. One must be doing something on vacation.

5. Wear dress up clothes unless there is a wedding or funeral, and sometimes not even then.

It's taken 16 years, but I'm learning the ropes.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Library Angel is...an Angel

You may remember that back when Finn was in kindergarten, his year started with a lot of struggles as the result of his Sensory Processing Disorder. You may also remember that I wrote about a woman, our school's librarian, who stepped in and made life bearable for Finn during those first weeks of school and while his occupational therapy kicked in and he learned to cope.

I wrote about Ruth, who I called The Library Angel, several times. Yesterday afternoon, our school principal e-mailed us to let us know that Ruth had passed away that morning.

I'm sad, but Ruth was ready to go, and that gives me some peace of mind.

I like the staff at our school--they're a great group of people. But there was something special about Ruth. I'll never forget how she took Finn under her wing that horrible year. She was a safe haven. She listened to him when he was sad or scared. She didn't bark at him and tell him to go back to his seat at lunch. She was exactly what he needed. Exactly what we needed.

Ruth was one of the first staff members I met at the school when we moved here. I arrived late to my first PTA meeting and crept into a seat at the back. Ruth was sitting in the back as well. She swiveled in her seat and with a big smile, thanked me for coming.

We became friends. She was in remission from her first bout with cancer and we swapped stories of different types of treatment--we were both very into alternative options as well as traditional medicine. I worked in the library every Thursday and during the school's book fairs each spring and fall. We enjoyed talking the role nutrition can play in healing. I used to make experimental raw foods and taste test them on her. If it was horrible, she never let on.

The library has so many loyal volunteers, all jockeying for position to have their favorite day. And Ruth was the reason. She was a person you just wanted to be around. Positive, funny, wry, smart, athletic, just a great enthusiasm for life and living.

I'll leave you with a little story about Ruth that makes me smile even as I'm writing it. I know some of you follow Ruth's blog and so as we all read, on April 22, Ruth's daugheter, Sarah, posted that a blockage Ruth had been dealing with was back. This had happened before, but Sarah's post seemed more definite this time--there was nothing else to be done. We were traveling, but every chance I got, I accessed Ruth's blog to see what was happening. There was no update. When we got home, the word was that Ruth was just hanging on. I don't know how to define the state she was in--not conscious. Sleeping. Is that coma?

Anyway, last Monday, after not eating or drinking for weeks and not being conscious, Ruth suddenly woke up and said, "What the hell am I still doing alive? I'm supposed to be dead by now!"

I looked at the person telling me the story. "No way did Ruth say 'hell'," I said. The story teller, who had heard this directly from Ruth's daughter, assured me that yes, Ruth did say hell. And at this, I laughed out loud because those of you who read Ruth's blog also know that Ruth is one of the most Godly women ever and to think of her swearing, well, that's just nuts.

Ruth spent time that day looking at the pictures Bob and Sarah had picked out for the memorial service. She didn't like a few that were chosen and tried to lobby against their use even though Sarah said, "I love those!" Ruth shrugged matter of factly and said, "I guess I won't be there anyway!"

And that was just Ruth. Truly, what an amazing woman and you will never convince me that she wasn't an angel sent here for those of us who needed her. Selfishly, I'll miss her, but it was her time and she was ready.

If you visit her blog today, you'll see that in huge capital letters, "RUTH IS WITH THE LORD!!!" It makes me smile and cry at the same time. I'm smiling for her, but crying for the rest of us.

I can't decide what I like to imagine her doing in heaven--running like the wind or shelving books.

Either way, it's something she loves.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I Did Not Run Away

Although I guess I sort of did. We got home late last night from 3 weeks on the road visiting Eamonn's family in England and Germany. I would have told you before I left, but I'm getting a little freakier about notifying the Internet that our house is sitting empty.

Even though we live in a neighborhood where the houses are as close together as New York City apartments and there haven't been any robberies or even attemted robberies in the nearly 5 years we've lived here. But who wants to tempt fate?

And anyway, if we're Facebook friends, you probably figured out. Because truly, how discreet can I be for 3 weeks?

I did have my iPad with me (best invention ever) and I had intended to post occasional photos to see if you could guess where we were, but then, Sooper Genius that I am, I couldn't figure out how to upload pics from my iPad to the Internet. And clearly, I was too lazy to figure it out.

I will be back later this week with some pictures and info on our trip.

It was fun. Very fun. And long. Very long.

It produced a lot of laundry and miscellaneous stuff that I don't know what to do with or where to put now. I hate that part of coming home from vacation.

I'm going to bed in about 2.5 hours. It's 4:37pm. I hope I make it that long.