Friday, January 16, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside

7:30 am CST
1° F outside
65° F inside
Attire: Jeans, t-shirt, hooded pullover sweater, cardigan thrown over shoulders a la old lady

10:00 am CST
3° F outside
68° F inside
Attire: Jeans, t-shirt, hooded pullover sweater

noon CST
8° F outside
72° F inside
Attire: Jeans, t-shirt, cardigan thrown over shoulders a la old lady

2:13 pm CST
14° F outside
78° F inside
Attire: Jeans, t-shirt

3:30 pm CST (projections)
20° F outside
85° F inside
Attire: indecent

Is it really that difficult to maintain some sort of regulated temperature?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Say what?

I picked up a magazine the other day - one of those thick glossy things that is supposed to help you make yourself and your home beautiful. As it is the new year, there was a special section for readers to profess what they are not going to do this year. I read blurb after blurb about how women are going to say no, refuse to over-commit themselves, pare back on obligations to others.

I tossed the magazine aside to read through a school packet. In it, I found the volunteer schedule for one of my projects. My volunteer time has been more than doubled because of a lack of volunteers. A little while later, I took the kids to fish fry for dinner. We walked past a volunteer begging table filled with page after page of completely empty sign-up sheets.

I got curious, so I did a little research. In my city, the average volunteer hours per resident is under 40 hours per year. The average volunteer rate is around 30%. If my math is correct, that means that the actual volunteers are donating around 2.4 hours per week. Even assuming that there is a large variance in number of hours volunteered (ie, some people are spending one hour a year and others are spending 300+ hours per year), I fail to see how we women are really so over-extended that we should be writing letters about our need to pare back our obligations.

Women my age are busy, that is true. We have many family obligations. But at the same time, I know that I don't have so many obligations that I can't work a little harder to make the world a better place. Frankly, I don't think I'm significantly lazier or harder working than the rest of the population. If I have time to read a magazine about how overextended I must be, then I probably have time to help mop a floor after a fish fry.

Monday, January 12, 2009

He's a really great kid

Jacob and I were in the car together the other night, driving home from the grocery with half-birthday treats and dinner. We were chit-chatting about life when Jacob brought up his classmate. "Sierra's mom is kind of like her step-mom. She was born in China and her mom went on a plane to get her. Well, first her mom went to China to pick up Marie, then later she went to get Sierra."

"Well, Jake, Sierra's mom isn't her step-mom. She's her adoptive mom. And really, she's just like any other mom. She fixes booboos and tucks Sierra in at night and all that stuff. She's a really good mom." Truly, she is a really good parent. Maria and Sierra are warm, friendly, and bright as buttons. I often see their mother murmuring in their ears and I aspire to her calm manner.

"Why? Why did she adopt Marie and Sierra?"

"Oh. Well, sometimes people can't have babies for some reason. Like Sierra's mommy doesn't have a husband to put a baby in her belly. So those people adopt babies because they want to be mommies and daddies." True to form, I kept blabbering on instead of stopping when I'd given just enough information. "Some people adopt babies from China because there is a law there that..."

Jake interrupted me in a panic, "People in China can't keep their babies??"

"Well, the law in China is that each couple can only have one baby. Some people there believe that girls aren't as good as boys, so the girls sometimes end up in orphanages."

"That's a stupid belief. We are all the same." Jake was angry. I should have known that would offend his sense of justice.

"Yes, I agree. And so do lots of other people. That's why we know Sierra and Marie and also Claire's friend Gretchen. I'm really glad that they were adopted. They are all terrific girls." Then I realized that I had given Jacob information which could really hurt Sierra. "Um, Jake? Don't talk about this with Sierra or anyone else, ok?" I held my breath while Jake mulled it over.

"Why? Oooooooooooooh! Because Sierra might feel like she's not very good."

"Right, buddy. And I don't ever want Sierra to feel like that," I said as we pulled up to the curb at home. Jake ran into the house to show off his treats. I sat in the car for a few minutes, grateful and hopeful.

Monday, January 5, 2009


As usual, I am late to the bandwagon. A new year is starting, though, and I am surprised to find myself itchy to make some changes. So what better time to start 101 in 1001? The idea is that I have 1001 days to complete 101 goals - some small, some large, all things that I am hoping will improve the quality of my life. Lately, I feel as though I have just been putting in time. I deserve better than that. My family deserves better than that. The world deserves better than that. So! The end is October 3, 2011. The beginning is now.

  1. Weigh less than 190 pounds
  2. Weigh less than 180 pounds
  3. Weigh less than 170 pounds
  4. Weigh less than 160 pounds
  5. Weigh less than 150 pounds
  6. Maintain a weight less than 150 pounds for the remainder of the challenge.
  7. Journal everything I eat for a month.
  8. Eat at least 5 servings of veg/fruit a day for a month.
  9. Try 5 new healthy recipes.
  10. Avoid eating chocolate for one whole week.
  11. Implement vegetarian Fridays (with the exception of Fish Fry Fridays).
  12. Avoid fast food for an entire month.
  13. Walk at least 10 miles per week for 6 weeks (making a new habit!).
  14. Hike 5 trails that are new to me.
  15. Complete the couch to 5k program.
  16. Learn to play racquetball and start playing with Nick.
  17. Pass the FBI physical fitness exam.
  18. Have Claire baptized (something that I am extremely ashamed to admit that I haven't done yet, mostly because of my post-partum anxiety and then ever thereafter because I'm so ashamed that I haven't done it that I don't want to admit that I haven't done it. But there - I've admitted it publicly so I can get it done and stop worrying every single minute that Claire will die unbaptized).
  19. Say a blessing before family dinner every night for a month (making a new habit!).
  20. Go on a spiritual retreat.
  21. Attend the Lenten mission in my parish.
  22. Add the daily gospel rss to my blog reader so that I remember to read it regularly - and then hopefully it will influence me to be more charitable toward others.
  23. Make a Jesse tree for Advent.
  24. Pray the rosary every day during Lent.
  25. Take a look at the adult sections of the parish library and see if there are any books that interest me.
  26. Attend a Mass that Jake's class is leading.
  27. Become a lector.
  28. Knit or sew an item for the parish charity auction.
  29. Knit or sew 5 hats to donate to St. Patrick's center.
  30. Make a baby quilt to donate to Our Lady's Inn.
  31. Donate at least 10 items from my closet to a women's shelter - fall/winter.
  32. Donate at least 10 items from my closet to a women's shelter - spring/summer.
  33. Chair a homecoming booth for the parish.
  34. Participate in Operation Rice Bowl during Lent - full bore participation and not the usual half-hearted putting change in the bucket.
  35. Be a Salvation Army bellringer.
  36. Check with the retirement home across from the park for needs, then donate a basket of whatever they need.
  37. Join the neighborhood association.
  38. Attend a neighborhood association meeting.
  39. Take my kids on a litter walk.
  40. Introduce myself to a neighbor that I don't know.
  41. Attend a block party or other neighborhood function.
  42. Dine at one of the small, locally owned restaurants in my neighborhood.
  43. Get a "City" bumper sticker for my car.
  44. Volunteer to spend a few hours weeding at the park.
  45. Vote for alderman!
  46. Convince Nick to vote in the local election as well.
  47. Start recycling paper/cardboard.
  48. Walk to any location under 1 mile away for a month, with the exception of the grocery store.
  49. Put weather stripping around all the door frames.
  50. Make a worm farm.
  51. Find out what needs to be done with the paint in the basement, then do it.
  52. Check the water heater thermostat and if it's above 120, turn it down 10 degrees.
  53. Avoid plastic shopping bags for an entire month.
  54. Mend 10 items of clothing.
  55. Play hooky with Nick.
  56. Plan a weekend away with Nick as a surprise.
  57. Get a $50 gift card through MyPoints to give to Nick toward his lawnmower fund.
  58. Watch an entire basketball game with Nick during March Madness with a good attitude.
  59. Sneak a love note into Nick's car.
  60. Get an engraved plate for Nick's fantasy football trophy.
  61. Start a semi-monthly family game night tradition and keep it up for 3 months.
  62. Take 6 family field trips.
  63. Make a chore chart for the kids.
  64. Start an allowance for Jacob.
  65. Revive the Sunday brunch in our household by having one for six consecutive weeks.
  66. Take Jacob ice skating.
  67. Make a fleece blanket for Claire.
  68. Invite my mother-in-law to go yardsaling with me.
  69. String my guitar.
  70. Give Jake guitar lessons for 6 weeks in a row, then continue if he wants.
  71. Sign Claire up for dance lessons.
  72. Finish the floor upstairs.
  73. Fix Jake's dresser.
  74. Reupholster the big chair.
  75. Make new curtains for the kitchen/sunroom.
  76. Make a new window covering for the living room.
  77. Make curtains for the upstairs windows.
  78. Swap bedrooms with the kids.
  79. Make curtains for the master bedroom.
  80. Refinish the living room floor.
  81. Landscape the front flower beds. Again.
  82. Demolish the raised bed in the back yard.
  83. Fix the kitchen pocket door.
  84. Remove the shower doors and replace with a shower curtain.
  85. Make a message center/artwork display in the kitchen
  86. Try couponing for 3 months and see if it helps save money.
  87. Make a price book for my grocery shopping.
  88. Go one full week without watching television.
  89. Make a tree skirt.
  90. Sell the train set on EBay.
  91. Work with Nick's aunt to make the family cookbook that she keeps talking about.
  92. Spend a day working in my parents' garden.
  93. Get an aquarium.
  94. Stop biting my nails.
  95. Keep my laundry off the floor in my bedroom for a month.
  96. Sew Christmas gift bags.
  97. Have a family photo taken.
  98. Create a large piece of artwork for the living room as a family.
  99. Attend a play.
  100. Write a children's book and submit it for publication.
  101. Successfully jump in to a double dutch jump rope (I have never, ever ever been able to jump in)