Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Blond Girl Update 24.3

Merry Christmas!

It's time for another quick Blond Girl Update; 24.3 weeks in to this journey I've been on. We'll call this one "my day in pictures" and focus on Sunday. Why? Because I would have written this on Sunday evening, but I've been so busy since then that I haven't had the chance.

First, I will backtrack to say that I drove home on Thursday. The new tires performed flawlessly and I made terrific time, arriving home in the early afternoon. I will admit that I was was worried about leaving so early in the morning (4:30 a.m.), and the possibility of hitting a deer. My "discern-o-meter" was on high and I prayed a bunch - and was grateful to get home with no car or deer issues.

On Friday and Saturday, we worked on last minute Christmas preparation, including decorating the tree, which Sweet Girl refused to do even one minute before I arrived. After all that, we set our sights on a family day for Sunday.

Our first order of business was to head to the mall so that Sweet Girl could see Santa. She was so excited to see him so that she could let him know that she had been a good girl and to ask for those special presents she was dreaming of. Of course, she had to dress in her holiday best for the big guy:

After Santa, we all headed over to Sears to get a long-needed family picture taken. Long overdue as in, the last time we had a picture taken, Sweet Girl was two and I weighed 100 pounds more than I do now. We went through the whole photo shoot, only to realize that I left the discount coupon at home and they didn't have one there to honor. Not willing to pay too much for our sheets, we only bought one composite, which they printed up there, and ordered two sheets from the lab - intending to order more later. Now, I rarely show off our family on my blog, but here is a picture I took of our composite:

Turns out it was a good thing we hadn't spent too much on our photos... When we got home, Champs needed to go to the hardware store to pick up a piece of tubing to fix our faucet, so off he went while Sweet Girl and I picked up the house. Champs wasn't gone 15 minutes when the phone rang; when I said "Hi Honey!", he responded, in the most tired voice, "I've had an accident. The car is totaled." I have to admit that I was in shock. I had just celebrated the 10th birthday of my car. I'd just paid $430.00 for new tires. I had just driven 550 miles to get home for Christmas. Champs had just left the house. This had to be a joke, right? Wrong. I wasn't surprised, actually. Even though I'd arrived safely home, my "discern-o-meter" hadn't calmed down yet and somewhere in the back of me, I was still waiting for something to happen, and praying for the safety of my family. I'm glad I had been. As Champs explained, he was driving along, looking for the store he wanted, when the light turned red. He didn't realize it in time and hit the car ahead of him, which was coming to a stop. That car hit the van in front of it. He wasn't going that fast, approximately 20-30 mph, but as you can see, using the car ahead of you, instead of your brakes, to stop your car can do a good bit of damage:

This, ladies and gentleman, is what we used to lovingly call the Zoom-zoom car. Her new name is now the Boom-boom car. I picked Champs up at the scene of the accident (it was night - the picture you just saw was taken on Monday morning) and took him to the hospital, where he was checked out. He had a mild neck strain and hurt his wrist where the airbag hit it, but other than that, he was fine. Sore, but fine. The doctor gave him a note to miss a day of work to recover and we spent a lot of time on Monday dealing with the insurance company, working out the details. The insurance inspector will see it sometime this week and until then we won't know for certain how they'll handle it. We're pretty sure it will be a total loss; it would cost them much more to fix it than it is worth now. Like Champs said, the airbags alone are worth more than the blue book on the car.

I'll miss my car; as I told Champs, I guess it is appropriate for a married couple. I drive the car it's first mile, and he drove it the last. It is sad, but the last few days underscore what is truly important. A car is a hunk of metal and plastic; my husband and my daughter are my very breath. Somehow, we'll get another car. Somehow, I'll get back to Minnesota next Sunday with Sweet Girl - by plane, train or automobile - to finish up my assignment at the home office and then return home on January 17th. We'll figure it out - we always do. But when I was gathered around the Christmas tree this morning, watching my husband and my daughter open their gifts, I was filled with gratitude to God for sparing my husband, for keeping my daughter out of the car when it was hit, for getting me home safely. There will be a parade of cars in my life - some even as special as my Zoom-zoom car was to me, but there will only be one Champs and one Sweet Girl.

And they were my best Christmas present this year.

Here's the comment from this post:
Star said...
Merry Christmas. The pictures are lovely. Sweet Girl has the prettiest shiny hair! And you don't look old enough to be her Mom! You are right about the car. It's loss is inconvenient , but unimportant. It will all work out.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Blond Girl Update 23.4

Hello folks!

Time for another Blond Girl update and this one is full of fun news!

I AM GOING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS! We have new tires on the zoom-zoom car, so I am ready to go. I am driving home tomorrow morning, leaving around 4:30 in the morning or so. I'll be home until 12/30, when I have to head back to Minneapolis. While I am there, however, I intend to enjoy every possible moment I can with my hubby and my girl. I can't begin to tell you how much I've missed them. I'm not going to enjoy coming home, but it's not too bad; this time I know how long I am going for and when I am going home.

When I head back, Sweet Girl will be coming with me. We've taken Sweet Girl out of school for those short weeks - her teacher is going to pull her schoolwork together and then my sister-in-law, Liz, who runs a daycare, will help me with the homeschooling. I can't wait to see her and spend time with her and I know that while Champs wants us home permanently, he's looking forward to a break from the single dad routine he's been living for the last 4 months.

Sweet Girl and I will head back to IL permanently on Thursday, January 17th and I'll start working from home as soon as my system is installed. I cannot wait!

In the meantime, though, I wish all of you a very merry Christmas. As for me, I can't wait to see all my IL friends and family, decorate the tree, serve Christmas dinner... it's been a long 5 1/2 months! Just think... pretty soon the Blond Girl updates will be all done - and life will be back to normal! Who knows? Maybe my blog will even become a regular activity for me again. For now, though, Merry Christmas, Glory to God in the highest and...

Blond Girl out

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Blond Girl Update 22.00

Yes folks, I came to Minnesota 22 weeks ago today - and it is time for another Blond Girl update.

The most important news comes first: I am going home for Christmas! I will be heading home on December 20th or 21st and I cannot wait. Talk about counting the days! When I get home, I will be very busy with decorating, shopping and cooking for Christmas. One thing I’ve learned here is how to make a killer cinnamon challah bread pudding with brandy butter. I’ll be making it for our family’s Christmas Eve celebration and I hope everyone likes it. As for decorating, that will definitely be first on my list because our Sweet Girl has asked to hold off Christmas decorating until I come home. The other day we were talking on the phone and she related this story: “Mom, we were driving and I saw the most beautiful Christmas lights! The house was all lit up and it was so pretty, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from it until we drove past the house and then I looked at it in the mirror until I couldn’t see it anymore. It was so beautiful and I can’t wait until we decorate!” I explained that she and daddy would be decorating before I came home. “No!” she objected, “I want us to decorate as a family. This is the first year I’ve decorated and I want to put the ornaments on the tree and I want Daddy to hold me up so I can put the angel on top of the tree.” Now I ask you, how can you deny a request like that? I sure can’t. When I get home, I'll drop my bags on the floor, hug the two of them like crazy and start digging the angel out of the Christmas boxes!

Now on to news about going home to work: As it stands, the jury is out on two possibilities. Either I will be coming back to Minneapolis on December 26th for a 3-4 more weeks or I will go home for Christmas and be able to stay at home and start working virtual then. It all hinges on questions of technology. My training is complete; at this point it’s all project management and working out the details. Our goal is for me to go home and stay home, but nothing is known or settled yet - so much so that I haven't been able to make travel plans yet, since I don't know if I am taking my car home or flying home and leaving the car here for my final stint here in Minneapolis.

In other BG news... Well, I don't think there really is any other BG news! Other than a mild snowstorm (6-8 inches) last Saturday and another 5 inches on Monday, nothing of note has occurred. I work, eat, sleep, repeat. In other words, I'm marking time until December 20. I am trying to schedule as many fun things with Minneapolis friends as possible and to get some Christmas shopping done before I go home.

I wish I had more exciting news to share, but I don't. You might think this is silly, but what I do have is a prayer request, if you are one who prays. As I said earlier, I want to go home. Sweet Girl is learning to knit and has joined a knitting club - and I've never even seen the needles in her hands. Champs has a new job and I'm not there to kiss him goodbye or cook dinner for him when he comes home. When I came here, we thought it would be for 16-18 weeks. I am now heading toward 22 weeks and looking at the possibility of a total of 24 weeks if I go home permanently on December 20, and a total of 28 to 29 weeks if I can't go home until mid-January. This much time away is just hard on our family. I'm not saying this to whine, but just to ask that you remember our family in prayer and ask for favor and a downright miracle with the technology that needs to fall into place.

Some comments from this post:
colleen said...
Time spent with family is always precious. It's going to be COLD up there, I bet. Where Michele lives is even colder.

kenju said...
I think it is very sweet that your girl wants to wait on the decorating until you get there - but it puts additional pressure on you. That pudding sounds wonderful. I will indeed pray for you guys!

Smiler said...
Sounds like you're all going through some challenging times. Which will make the holidays spent together that much more precious. Your cinnamon challah bread pudding sounds out of this world. Yum! Thanks for you thoughtful comments on my blog. Come back anytime!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Dream Hero

The other morning, I had a dream. Now, I almost never remember my dreams and if I do remember them, it is because I have them just before I wake up. The other morning, I woke up with a rare dream clearly focused in my memory.

For anyone who hasn't read my blog in awhile, it is important to know this: I am currently in Minneapolis for work training to be a brokerage customer service representative. I've been here 5 months and I've seen my husband, Champs, only twice since I left. Soon I will be going home to work virtual for The Big Company. I can't wait to go home.

This was my dream: I was walking in the park I used to play in as a little girl. I was headed toward a clear glass room with a phone in it. I had to go to the room in order to meet up with Champs. I wasn't going to call him on the phone; he was going to be there.

As I walked closer to the room, I noticed tiny little green grasshoppers. I continued to walk and they got thicker and thicker. As I walked toward them, they would fly away in a wave like a glittering curtain. The thousands of insects moved as one, much the same way a flock of birds rise from a tree in flight and swoop off, all in the same direction. Surprisingly, even though I detest insects and I didn't like them flying near me, I was calm and continued to walk toward the glass room in the middle of the park.

As I got closer to the room, the grasshoppers stopped flying away. They weren't green... they turned to red-brown and they were dead. There was a layer 6 or 7 inches deep of the dead bugs. As I walked, my heels came out of my shoes and the dead bugs stuck to me. I couldn't reach the room - the bugs got deeper and harder to walk through. I was beginning to panic and I was near tears.

Just then, Champs strode up behind me, picked me up and said, "kinda gross, huh? Well, I'm here" and then walked me out of the dead grasshoppers, past the flying ones and out of the park. I felt calm and safe again. Just then, my alarm clock went off.

I spent the day wondering what it meant... I know it confirmed that I feel safe with my husband. But he came to me - I didn't go to him, as will happen in real life when I return home. And I never reached the phone. Did it represent my job? Champs took it that it is his job to keep me safe and help me feel safe in situations where I feel trapped. I guess now you know why I call him Champs. He had the nickname before I met him, earned in soccer, but it means so much more than sports to me.

Verrryyy interesting. I must say, though, that I hope I never, ever encounter grasshoppers like that!

Here are some comments from this post:
Jean-Luc Picard said...
I know what you mean; my dreams tend to vanish after a minute.
Michele sent me here.

Sara said...
Thanks for visiting my blog...and I enjoyed this post about your dream...I agree with Champs...I think that is what it means.
Me - I can't ever remember my dreams - but, I do know if they are good ones or nightmares!!!

2:20 PM
Blogger utenzi said...
Michele sent me over to see you, BG. I read your update post below. There's been quite a lot going on in your life since I last visited.
I love finance and had no idea it took so long to train for the brokerage rep position. You have to be quite confident and brave to hold down a position like that at home, without the normal support situation of being in a cubicle farm. I'm impressed with your ambition. I hope you're able to return to home and family very soon!

Michele sent me. I like your blog....unique. I don't usually remember my dreams. The dreams that are premonitions freak me out...even if they are good. My dreams are usually extremely good or extremely bad.

kenju said...
You ought to think about this one often, BG, so you can puzzle it out. What do grasshoppers mean to you?

Monday, November 26, 2007

More Gems From Minnesota's Past

As I said earlier, I've been enjoying the book "Bring Warm Clothes: Letters and Photos From Minnesota's Past" by Peg Meier. Although the letters and newspaper articles are more than 100 years old, I've been struck by how applicable they are to our modern-day life.

Here are some more gems I've found and my thoughts about them:

The next big election is less than a year away and I have to admit that I am already weary of it. I will pay attention, of course, because I don't want to waste my vote. Apparently elections grew old 120 years ago, too. Check out this article printed in the Minneapolis Tribune on April 3, 1887, during a spring election campaign: “An old Irish gentleman was making a speech last night at a political meeting, and referred to the fact that in his precinct there were 24 Democratic and 17 Republican candidates for alderman. He explained this great number by telling a story of a kind who sought the advice of his prophet on the weather one day when he wished to go hunting. The prophet said it would be a fine day. On the road the king met a farmer riding on a jackass, and the farmer warned the king not to proceed, as it would surely storm. It did storm, and the king called the farmer to learn how he knew of the coming storm, and the farmer replied that his jackass told him. The king then discharged his prophet and put a jackass in his position. “And from that day to this,” said the speaker, “every jackass wants an office’.”

From thoughts of politics, one must naturally move to thoughts of romance. That is, if one looks to Bill Clinton for guidance, I guess. In any case, I got a huge kick out of these excerpts from “The Book of Natures: a Full and Explicit Explanation of the Structure and Use of the Organs of Life and Generation in Man and Woman”, published in New York in 1875 and found in the library of a Cottage Grove man. After reading this, I must say that I am glad I am poor and that my husband values cleanliness as much as I do! “The rich are qualified for marriage before the poor. This is owing to the superiority of their aliment [food]; for very nutritious food, and the constant use of wines, coffee, etc., greatly assists in developing the organs of reproduction; whereas the food generally made use of among the peasantry of most countries ­– as vegetables, corn, milk, etc. – retards their growth.”

And then: “Too much importance cannot be attached to cleanliness. Men may be careless as to their own personal appearance and may, from the nature of their business, be negligent in their dress, but they dislike to see any disregard in the dress and appearance of their wives. Nothing so depresses a man and makes him dislike and neglect his home as to have a wife who is slovenly in her dress and unclean in her habits. Beauty of face and form will not compensate for these defects, the charm of purity and cleanliness never ends but with life itself. These are matters that do not involve any great labor or expense. The use of the bath, and the simplest fabrics, shaped by your own supple fingers, will be all that is necessary. These attractions will act like a magnet upon your husband. Never fear that there will be any influence strong enough to take him from your side.

As the Minneapolis Tribune reported on April 3, 1881, the girls apparently practiced cleanliness very well and did not worry that their intended would leave their sides. Far from it - they were showing their affections in a scandalous fashion that I fear I am likely to repeat when I go home for Christmas. Scandalous, I tell you, highly improper! “Engaged Girls. Fashion has decreed a change in his matter. The engaged couples of 1881 are not commanded to hide their endearments under a bushel. They may even kiss in company if they are changes about it. I saw a daughter of one of the wealthiest and most refined of our families touch lips with her husband-to-be before at least a hundred persons in a picture-room of the academy of design the other day. He had been out of town for a week, I was told, and their meeting here way by chance. She greeted him affectionately, but without ado, and put up her mouth in the most self-possessed way imaginable. He was not so cool about it; yet he gave her a smacking salute with a good grace, right in the presences of his future mother-in-law. The girl did not blush nor simper. Such a public kiss would have been scandalous in March 1880; but in 1881 it is fashionable and therefore proper."

Perhaps when I get home, Champs will give me a smacking salute, huh? I hope so - I can assure you that I will neither blush nor simper!

I am planning on one more installment of gems for later this week. I hope you enjoyed these!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Gems from Minnesota's Past

I've been reading a book called "Bring Warm Clothes: Letters and Photos from Minnesota's Past". It's a collection of letters, newspaper articles and more. I've been finding the glimpse into our past both enlightening and humorous.

Here are just two gems:

Sometime in 2002, Jesse Ventura managed to offend any number of Irish people and St. Paul residents by appearing on Letterman and declaring that the haphazard streets of t. Paul are impossible to navigate because it was originally laid out by drunken Irishmen.

Apparently, this is not a new complaint. On September 30, 1851 (114 years before the day I was born) it was printed in The Minnesota Democrat Weekly, "Never was a city laid out so badly as St. Paul. The plat of the town with its numerous additions looks as if some accident had knocked all the streets into pi. Measures should be taken immediately to straighten and reform them as far as practicable, before it is too late."

And if you've driven in St. Paul at all lately, then you can see 156 years later, the esteemed observer's warning went unheeded.

Another interesting editorial was written in the Minneapolis Chronicle on January 27, 1867. I can only assume in reading it that the author of this piece was not overly impressed by some certain young lady (or ladies) recently arrived in the newly formed state: "In a new country like Minnesota, there is no use for idle, frivolous, lazy dandies, or dressy, fancy ladies, who think it is a disgrace to wash dishes, make their beds, do chamber work or knead bread. People come to a new country to better their condition. They leave all superfluities at home. They do not want drones. They fail to appreciate ladies who think more of senseless fashions than in assisting to lay up a few dimes to purchase frocks for the babies. Drawling words, affectation, fondness of dress, living beyond their means, won't do here. The country is too new."

Now, Champs likes to say that he never found the right gal in Illinois to marry; he didn't find the right gal until he went out-state. Perhaps this writer's assertion explains why he found such a wonderful wife in Minnesota. I am certainly not a "fancy lady" and do not find myself opposed to "assisting to lay up a few dimes to purchase frocks for the baby". Indeed, I would say that I have put more than a few dimes to some very cute frocks indeed!

I'm going to wrap this up for now, but I may yet find some more jewels from Minnesota's past to entertain you....

And a comment from this post:
kenju said...
Thanks for the visit, BG; I would be honored to have some of your recipes.
That article sounds like fun to read. Nothing can make us laugh like stuff from the past that sounds so serious!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Blond Girl Update 18.4

Hello all.

Yes, this is the Blond Girl - finally - checking in. And yes, you've read the title correctly. I've been in Minneapolis now for 18 weeks and 4 days. I sent my last update at 8.3 weeks, and a lot has happened in the last 10 weeks. Rather than write an overwhelming description, here are a few of the highlights:

* On September 22, I worked all day with Paddy (my brother), Guitar Man (my other brother), and Guitar Man's wife, 2 sons, niece and my niece’s boyfriend to get my mom moved from a second floor apartment to a first floor apartment in different building of the same complex. I had worked for three weeks prior to the move to get all Mom's stuff sorted and boxed and my family made quick (though tiring!) work of getting it all moved across the compound. It was hilarious to see her dining room table turned upside down and strapped to a dolly to form a large moving dolly. I'll tell you what - those guys were pretty ingenious. It took another week and a half after the move to get Mom all settled in, but when she came home from Arizona (she'd been visiting my sister, TechnoGoddess, my niece, and my new baby grand-nephew Adam), she was all settled into her new apartment.

* The move didn't go altogether smoothly, however. The landlord and I did have quite a go-around about who assumes responsibility to pay for repairing brand-new carpet when it is damaged because the painters hired to repaint the apartment left a full can of brown paint on the upper shelf of the closet... without the cover tamped down, and the new tenant spilled said paint, not realizing the can was uncovered. Let's just say that we didn't pay anything for the needed repairs.

* In October I finished my final leg of classroom customer service training. Now I know more than I ever thought I needed to know about trading options. Of course, that doesn't mean that I know how to choose the options to trade, only that I know how to enter the order. Margin, put, call, buy to close, underlying security ... I speak a new language. Now I’m just looking forward to the day when I have enough money to actually invest in the stock market, not just work in it.

* On October 9, Champs and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, we could not be together that day, which was very hard for both of us. Anniversaries past have found us with no extra money, celebrating at home, but we've always been together. This year we spent time together online, talking on the webcam. Not exactly the heights of romance, but it had to do for the day.

* Now, we may not have been able to be together on our anniversary, but we did still get to celebrate. On the 19th of October, Champs and Sweet Girl flew into Minneapolis. It was so good to see them! After a family dinner at Champs' favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Mom took Sweet Girl home for a night with Grandma while Champs and I went off to a local Hilton Garden Inn. We had two nights while Sweet Girl had a night with Grandma and then a fun day and night with our good friends, K & K and their daughter, Snow White. Snow White is Sweet Girl's best friend and is always at the top of the “to visit” list when she's here in Minnesota. Champs and I had a wonderful time at the hotel and then spent the next two days with Sweet Girl, playing games, snuggling and generally just taking it easy. I took them back to the airport on Tuesday. It's never been fun to drop your loved ones off at the airport, but I do wish we could still go into the concourse to stay with them until boarding time and watch their plane leave. As it was, leaving them at the sidewalk check-in was the hardest thing to do. I think the larger part of my heart got on the plane back to Illinois that day and I haven't gotten it back yet.

* A couple of weekends ago, I had the joy of helping my best friend Geekwif, and her husband, The Geek, move into their new home. They've been working toward this goal for years, and started the process of buying their land and building about a year ago. To finally step into the mudroom of their home and see all new appliances, perfectly placed flooring, freshly painted rooms and vast expanses of windows gave me a wonderful sense of fulfillment. Now, if I could feel that way, just being the friend, I can only imagine how exciting it is for Geekwif and The Geek. Their new home is in St. Criox Falls, Wisconsin, just south of the St. Croix River. The land is hilly and beautiful. I've never thought of myself as anything other than a big city gal, but if I were to ever become a willing small-town girl, I would want it to be a beautiful river city like that.

* We had a shift bid at work and I got my first shift choice. On December 3rd, I will start working from 6:00 a.m. to 2:30 each day. It's early, but it will leave me home for when Sweet Girl gets off school each day. I can't wait to be home working this schedule. Of course, starting that early will not be fun here in Minnesota. I'll be leaving for work by 5:20 each day. Ug.

* Of course, I don't have it as hard as Champs! He just started a new job working as a route sales driver for a linen supply company. His job starts at 4:30 or 5:00 everyday. I think he's going to be really happy at the job and I'm really pleased that he got it. That said, the one who has it hardest is Sweet Girl. She goes to Grandma Grandma NeeNee's each night and spends the night there so Grandma can take her to school, then goes to daycare after school until Daddy gets home. They have just a few hours together until it's time for him to take her to Grandma's again. We are so glad that Grandma NeeNee is there for Sweet Girl and we are beyond grateful that she can help us this way. I have to admit, though, that I wish I could read a story to Sweet Girl and she could go to bed in her room each night. I crave the stability of both parents at home for her. I am grateful for Champs and Sweet Girl having strong family support now... but I miss being a part of their lives.

* Speaking of Geekwif, she got me to sign up for NaNoWriMo, the nickname for "National Novel Writing Month", which takes place each November. The idea is to write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. I wanted to try to write a romance. I have characters, a story, a plot... but not many words. I walk the halls at work writing sentences in my head, but I haven't been writing on the computer. Instead, I've been focusing on learning as much as I can about my job during the day and missing my family the rest of the time. Sounds so darn pitiful, doesn't it?

* Now we're halfway through November. And I am out of events to write about. All I have left is this: I.Want.To.Go.Home. I'm not sure how soon that will happen. It seems like each time I turn around, another person asks me what day I'm going home. I don't have a date yet. I wanted so badly to fly home for Thanksgiving when Champs got his new job, but I have to work the day after Thanksgiving and I was unable to negotiate getting that day off. Now I'm just doing my best to get my metrics and quality measurements up to speed so that I can go home. I'm hopeful that I can go home by the second or third week in December. I would write about the emotions that I stuff each day; the longing to be a mom again, the empty ache of wanting to cook dinner for my family, say goodnight prayers with Sweet Girl and wake up next to Champs in the morning. I would write about it, but it is easier just to hold it in.

So there it is; my latest update. I guess the last paragraph explains best why I haven't written in so long. I can't always stay upbeat and happy; it's easier to keep quiet and do what I need to do to get my training done and get back to my family. This experience has left me with a new appreciation for military families and what they go through during deployment. Both of my brothers-in-law, Motor and Tank, have been deployed overseas and to tell the truth, it is largely their encouragement and example that have helped me to see that I am doing the right thing for my family when it is hard to go on for missing them. I will make it, and I will be a successful employee once I am home. This is a good thing for my family and we are blessed by God's hand in all of it. We are immensely grateful for the help of our friends and family, especially the help we've received taking care of Sweet Girl.

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. I'll write another Blond Girl update when I either have more fun news or I know when I'm going home.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Like Skin on Pudding

Have you ever made pudding from scratch or from a mix - the cook kind? You know how, as it cools, it forms a skin on top that shrinks, pulling away from the edges? Well, that's how I feel right now and why I haven't been writing lately. I have a very bad habit of pulling away when I am stressed, overloaded and lonely. I've been away from home since July 7th. It's getting old and hard. However, Champs and Sweet Girl did come to Minnesota last Friday and went home on Tuesday. It gave me and Champs the chance to celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary (albeit a bit late) and me the chance to hold my girl as much as possible.

4 1/2 days... a small bit of Heaven. Just not enough. So... I am pudding and I'm pulling away.

Now if I just knew how not to.

Some comments from this post:

kenju said...
Can you just keep your eye on the day that you will return to them?

Geekwif said...
What Kenju said. ;)

Carmi said...
The skin on top of the pudding was always the best part, the stuff I'd linger over with my spoon as I sat in my grandmother's kitchen and watched her fuss over me.
Thinking of you as you work through this challenging period. I hope the relative dearth of blog entries is a sign that you're busy and engaged. Judy's absolutely right: every day brings you one day closer.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me...

Well, as my favorite saying goes, this is where you tell me I don't look 42...

Yes, today is my 42nd birthday. I wouldn't mind so much - well, let me rephrase that... I wouldn't mind that it's a holiday (not the aging thing so much) if I were home. But it is hard to be away from my husband and my daughter on my birthday. Thank goodness for Geekwif; she took me away today and we shopped, had lunch and generally just enjoyed ourselves. I had the chance to talk to Champs and Sweet Girl, but it's not the same, you know?

I am so behind on my blog; I owe a very long update. Or at least a complete bulleted summary that won't be so long, but would catch everyone up. Suffice to say that I have been sooooo very busy. My mom is in Phoenix visiting my niece and her son, so I am here alone. I don't mind much, except that last weekend she moved from a 2nd floor one bedroom apartment to a first floor two bedroom apartment in a different building in the same apartment complex. And since she is not here, I did all the packing and unpacking pretty much solo. My brothers, Paddy and Guitar Man (along with Guitar Man's family), helped with the move and all the heavy settling, but I've been working on this move for three weeks straight. I'm almost done now; we're almost at the point of settled. By the time Mom comes home, everything will be done. Now I ask you, how good does she have it? Wouldn't you like to go on vacation and come home to a completely moved and settled house?

So, there it is. Today is my birthday and I am not with my family and I'm exhausted from moving my mom. So please, please tell me I don't look 42... I gotta get somethng good outta this! tee hee.

Blond Girl out for now... an real update is on the way.

Here are some comments from this post:
Geekwif said...
You SO do not look 42! And it was my pleasure to hang out yesterday. Plus, I got a b-day present out of it too! :)

kenju said...
I'm sorry that I'm late getting here, BG, but since mr. kenju's stroke, I haven't had time to blog much.
You DON'T look 42, and I hope you had a good birthday, even though you were apart from your family.

utenzi said...
Happy very belated birthday to you! Actually, happy birthday and two weeks to you!

Jerry Moores said...
You DO NOT look 42!!!! Have a wonderful birthday and do something special for somebody and you will love yourself even more!!!
Love your blog!
Found you through Michele...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sugar Criminal Rehabilitated

Well, I thought I should post an update to my overly frustrating cop episode of September 1. If you didn't read my last post, the upshot is that I was stopped by a MN state trooper and blindsided by the revelation that my MN driver's license had been canceled due to my failure to provide medical certification for my diabetes - in spite of the fact that the certification was due one month after we moved to IL and I changed my license to IL. My car was towed and I was left without the ability to drive anywhere. Clearly, I had to fight this!

On Tuesday, I contacted the MN Dept of Motor Vehicles and found that I needed to write a letter explaining that I am no longer a Minnesota resident. I faxed the letter in on Tuesday... and on Thursday, as well. On Friday, I got a call from a gal there telling me that the medical unit (who I thought I'd been dealing with all along)wanted me to go to the doctor and get a certification form.

I got the name of the woman in the medical unit and gave her a call. It took some work, but I did get her to understand that the cancellation of my license was an administrative error, not carelessness on my part. When I explained that I am alone in Minnesota with no way to get around other than my car...and that I was legal to drive in 49 states, but not the one I was visiting, it really got through to her. Suddenly, I was her crusade for the day. She had me write a letter to the Chief Evaluator and by 4:00, my driving privileges were reinstated.

I am no longer a sugar criminal. I am legal in all 50 states. Thank Goodness! I still have to fight the citation, but I should be getting a letter from the Chief Evaluator that I can take to the citation judge and get this whole mess resolved. Oh, and the $158.32 I had to cough up to have my perfectly drivable car towed? History. Gone forever.


Here are some comments from this post:
David said...
my son had not ONE but TWO vehicles stolen and the tow and impound charges were $500 on the first, and not worth it on the second.
someone STOLE his car and he had to PAY if he wanted to get back what was left.
its 2996 again at Sugarloaf Mountain

Ravvy said...
Hun, that is some seriously crazy stuff! I just finished reading all your latest updates and I cant believe that you had to go through that! That is intense! I would've been in the back of the patrol car sobbing my head off just because I had no idea! And not to mention how crazy your system is over there - Legal in 49 out of 50 states and you get pinged for a very minor thing in the one you apparently weren't legal in?
Not to mention the you have to be legal in a state in order to drive in it? I spose with so many states that would cut back on - ah - stuff?
Out of the 7 states we have, and the 6 you can drive to and through all without extra assistance(Tasmania being over some water), we Australians have it pretty easy!
Still - blows my mind though!
Hope your better today!
And at least most of its all fixed [Minus the tow!]

Friday, August 17, 2007

Blond Girl.... HOME AGAIN

I have so much news to update but right now there is only one important thing to say: Blond Girl and Sweet Girl are HOME! Sweet Girl is home for good. I, on the other hand, am home for only two days. On Monday, I will take the Zoom-zoom car and head back to Minneapolis to complete my training at The Big Company.

Yeah, I have news to share, but right now, I have only time, heart and arms for Champs. I'll write again when I am back in Minneapolis!!!!!!!!

Comments from this post:
Geekwif said...
Yay!! Hope your flight home went well. Enjoy your time with your family!

armi said...
What an exciting time for you! I'm excited FOR you, and can't wait to hear the news (it's good news, right?)

Travel safe.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Blond Girl Update 4.1

Technically, this is my third update blog post. I'm not labeling them by the number of updates, but by elapsed time. That's why this one is 4.1 - 4 weeks, 1 day.

Before I give my update, I have to tell a little story about this morning. I’m sure it’s a social commentary; I’m just not sure that I want to interpret it, so I’ll let you make your own interpretation. In any case, it made me laugh. On our way to church, I saw a woman dressed up, carrying a bible, and walking down the street. Since I was about 3 blocks away, the logical assumption was that she was heading for our church. I slowed down, lowered the window, and asked her if she would like a ride – which she thankfully accepted.

It took me a moment to move my stuff and for her to get in. During that time, three cars came up behind me. Now, I probably should have pulled over instead of stopping in the drive lane, but there weren’t any cars when I saw her and I was stopped for all of 90 seconds. One car stopped behind me and waited patiently for the few seconds it took her to get in the car. The other two cars zoomed around me – and one woman gave me a dirty look as she went.

The car that waited went on its way. The other two cars? You guessed it – they turned into our church parking lot!

On to the update: Needless to say, it's been an eventful week - both for Minnesota and for our little family.

Last Saturday, I took Sweet Girl to the Como Park Zoo to have a fun day with her friend Snow White. There is a new amusement park area at the zoo called "ComoTown", which the girls enjoyed immensely. We spent time going back and forth from the zoo, to the amusement park, and back to the zoo. Snow’s Mom and Dad showed me a picnic area that has been at Como for years, which I never even knew about. In the end, this day cost a lot less than the trip I took to the Minnesota Zoo with Sweet Girl a couple of weeks ago and we had a LOT more fun. I know I rarely show pictures of Sweet Girl, but I’ll bend this time. Here she is on the driving course. Kiddie car driving, that is, not golf driving!

Hello all!

Speaking of driving, on Wednesday, the I-35 Bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, which has been a "miraculous tragedy". I wasn't even aware it had occurred at first; we were sitting in the living room watching TV and working on the computer when the phone rang. It was my sister MaryJane, in Phoenix, calling to be sure we were all OK. It didn't take long for my mom to do a quick round of the entire family to ensure that we were all safe. Our biggest concern was my niece, who is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota and who is in the process of setting up housekeeping on campus. Thankfully, she was nowhere near the area. Although truly horrible, it has been amazing how low the actual fatality list is. So far, it appears that no one from The Big Company was on the bridge at the time, an amazing fact when you consider that we have something like 9 to 10 thousand people employed downtown. I spoke with one coworker who had just gone over the bridge on the way home when he felt a rumble and looked back to see an empty road – no cars behind him. He had missed the collapse by about two minutes. I spoke with another coworker, a fellow trainee in my class, who found out that one of the victims worked at his previous employer. It is odd; when I look at the news, the whole event feels a bit removed from me, like it couldn't possibly be local. But then it is stories like that, which give national newsprint a personal meaning. Throughout the week, I received phone calls and emails from friends and family to be sure we were safe; I appreciated that people were thinking of us.

The rest of the week was pretty calm. Training is going well, though there is SO much to learn! Our first leg of training is complete; next week the rest of my training class gets to start phone lab and answer real brokerage trading calls. I won't get to do that yet; I still have to take the NASD Series 63 test. I will be sequestered all next week, from Monday to Thursday, in a private room studying for the test, which I will take on Friday. I have to pass it to keep my job. I'm not worried about passing it; the average pass rate is in the 90 percentile, and it deals with the regulatory element, which is my strongest area of NASD studies. I'm not happy, however, about missing the phone time. That's a week away from all the stuff I've spent the last month learning. If you care to pray for me, please feel free to pray that I'll pass my test and retain all my practical customer service training. Thanks!

This weekend has been pretty good so far, if not a bit tiring. Yesterday, Sweet Girl and I went to Valley Fair amusement park with Snow’s Mom and Snow White. As I've said before, one of my chief motives for Sweet Girl's time in MN has been to give her as much time with Snow White as we can muster up. Later this week, their family is heading off on vacation, so it was important to get in one last big fun time - and it was the The Big Company annual picnic, anyway. We had fun a lot of fun, but it was disappointing that it rained, rained and RAINED all day! Of course, we weren't planning on rain; we were planning on sunshine! At first the rain was pretty mild, so I bought myself a baseball hat to protect my glasses from the rain. It’s cute, but it does have “Wild Thing” emblazoned across the front. That’s not a big deal in Minnesota where most people will know that it refers to a huge roller coaster, but I’m thinking it might be a bit funnier in Champaign where no one will have a frame of reference…they’ll just think that I am referring to myself! When the rain got really bad, we bought rain ponchos for everyone. The park was out of children's size, so in a fit of desperation, we bought the girls these big yellow ponchos and cut them down to size.

Undeterred by the rain, the girls ran all over the park, eager to experience every pint-size delight – in fact, they rode the kiddie-coaster (The Mild Thing). That was fine with me; I'm not sure I would have had the stomach to keep up with them if they were in their pre-teens and wanted us to accompany them on all the huge coasters. I'm telling you, some of those rides are just not right. There is one called the Rip-Tide. It has these lockdown chairs mounted on a big arm. The arm goes around and around in a big circle, twirling the rider forward and backwards and upside down - all while running a water fountain at varying heights and force. At any time, the rider is upside down, locked into their chair with water being sprayed at them full force. There are two empty Riptide seats outside of the ride line; we took pictures of all of us in the seats. To be honest, that is the closest I ever want to get to such a diabolical ride! If you want to see this ride in action, you can click this link: Riptide.

I'm not the only one who had a busy week, however. Back in Champaign, Champs got the fun of dealing with new carpet. Last weekend, he moved all the furniture in our house out to the garage, kitchen and family room by himself to prepare all the bedrooms and living room for the carpet layers. I wasn't too happy that he had to do it alone, but he's strong - and armed with a couple of furniture dollies, he got it done. The new carpet was laid on Monday and he says it looks really good. He lived in limbo all week and just got all the rooms reassembled this weekend with some help from a friend from work and our next-door neighbor. I can't wait to see how it all looks! I have to admit that it is hard for me not to have been there to help; but I guess I'm doing my part being here for now.

All in all, it's been a good week. A bit busy, a bit mundane. Some happy, some sad. Both Sweet Girl and I are missing Champs something fierce and I can't wait for November when we will all be together again permanently. For now, though, we continue to thank God for his faithfulness to our family and His protection. I'm counting the moments until August 18, when Sweet Girl and I will go home to see Champs and be together for a long weekend. I am not looking forward to August 20, when I will drive back to Minnesota without Sweet Girl to continue my training. Oh well, as I am fond of saying, "it is what it is".

Friday, July 27, 2007

Blond Girl Update 2.5

Hey folks, it's time for me to post another update. It will be long. If you think it should be shorter, just let me know in comments. Otherwise, I'll assume that you're just riveted by the adventures of Blond Girl in Minnesota and let my thoughts continue to ramble. haha!

Sweet Girl and I have been here just shy of three weeks now. We've settled into a bit of a routine, but it is hard being away from home. Occasionally Sweet Girl will stop playing and look at me, chin and lips wobbling and whimper, "I miss Daddy!" I've held her through a few tears. Of course, being Mommy, I don't get to cry. I have to admit, though, that there have been many times in the midst of training when my attention has wandered off, home to Illinois. I always pull myself back to the present and demand that I pay attention to the world of brokerage trading.

One way that we've combated homesickness is by keeping very, very busy - especially on the weekends. Last weekend Sweet Girl and I went swimming with my friend Laura and her two daughters, Ava and Lexi. Laura and I used to work in the same department and were pregnant together, so we've kept tabs on each other's Mommy experiences along the way, so it was great to get together.

On Saturday night, Sweet Girl went to spend the night with her friend, Snow White, while her mom and I went out to hear my friend AmyM sing in Andover. Sunday was spent with Snow’s Mom, Snow’s Dad and Snow White again. I got to visit their church, which is an A.G. church like ours at home. In fact, the pastor there remembered our pastor, so it will be fun to pass along his greetings when I come home. In the afternoon, we took the girls to a new restaurant here in town called "Space Aliens"... it's essentially like Chuck E. Cheese's, but with good, edible food and NO motorized singing puppets with rolling eyes (those things give me the creeps!). Very nice. The girls dressed up in their favorite princess outfits for the occasion and we celebrated their birthdays (Sweet Girl turned 7 on June 12 and Snow White turned 5 on June 19). They had missed each other's parties, so this was the "make up" party.

Sweet Girl has had an exciting week, as she attended her "downtown daycare" Monday through Wednesday. It's a backup daycare center offered to The Big Company employees for 6 visits a year. I've been using them since Sweet Girl was a baby and the teachers there were so excited that she was coming back to visit. Believe it or not, they remembered her from a year ago. She's had so much fun and can't wait to go back for the three days I've scheduled her in August before she goes home. The break has been good for my mom, too. As much as she loves Sweet Girl, it can be hard to have your days suddenly taken over by an active 7 year-old.

I'm not sure what we'll be doing this weekend. I haven't made plans yet, which isn't like me. I hope we can hook up with some friends or family though. Of course, there's still the organizing I'm trying to help Mom do here, so that can keep us busy as well. At least it should be cooler... It's been really hot and HUMID here the last week. I always laugh when I talk with a Champaign resident who has never been to Minnesota in the summer. Since we have such a cold winter reputation, others tend to expect that our summers are colder, as well. Nothing could be further from the truth; Minnesota is a land of extremes; we get way colder in the winter and waaaayy hotter in the summer! We've been, on average, 6-10 degrees hotter with 5% more humidity than Champaign this last week. I think it's the 13,000 or so lakes here; when the temperature goes up, the city evaporates!

Hmmm.. what else? OH!! OH MY!!!! Yesterday evening Sweet Girl and I went to dinner with my best friend, Geekwif and her husband, Geek. They are Sweet Girl's godparents, so they were looking forward to seeing her. Dinner was wonderful. On the way home, however, I saw something that broke my heart. We drove by the hotel where Champs and I had our wedding reception and where we stayed the night before we moved to Illinois... and it is BEING TORN DOWN!!!!!!!!!!! They are tearing down the Pink Palace O' Love! I was so shocked, I drove all the way around it and took pictures to send home to Champs. He recognized it right away and was as saddened by it as I am. I know we don't live here anymore, but it is still sad to see the site of the best party of my life destroyed... sigh.

While my plans may not be set for this weekend, I know that Champs's are. Our landlord agreed when we renewed our lease that the house NEEDS new carpet. The people who lived there before us were smokers and very hard on the carpet. Well, we are getting the new carpet on Monday... finally. That means that Champs will spend the weekend moving furniture. He's got a bit of help lined up, but I hope he finds more help... either tearing the house apart this weekend or putting it back together over the week. I wish I could be there to help him, but I'm a mean wife off in training... sigh.

Well, I think that this about wraps up this version of the Blond Girl Update. I'll try to exercise some brevity next time... but not tonight.

And a few comments:

kenju said...
I know you are both missing daddy - but surely you will not miss the furniture moving!!

Shannin said...
We are going to have to fill your weekends with fun stuff!!! Trader Joe's??

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Blond Girl Update

Well, Sweet Girl and I have been in Minnesota for a week and a half now. Our flight to Minnesota was great! I haven't been on a plane in at least 10 years and this was Sweet Girl's first plane flight. She loved it! In fact, I'm pretty sure that I was more scared than she was. We flew out of Midway airport in Chicago. I bought our tickets on Priceline and did sidewalk check-in then worked our way through security. It couldn't have gone better. Both Chicago and Minneapolis were breathtaking from the air. I think my favorite part as we flew in was seeing all the lakes! Champaign is a great town, but it is somewhat lacking in the water department. I have always said that Minnesota is a beautiful state and seeing it from the air only proves my point. So lovely.

We're staying with Mom and getting caught up on seeing friends and family. On Saturday, Sweet Girl and I went out to tour the Minnesota Zoo; the monorail and swans were the hit of the day. Then on Sunday, we had a birthday party for Mom. We haven't seen my brothers, sister-in-law and their kids since we moved, so it was nice to get back together with them.

Mom has been taking care of Sweet Girl while I'm at work, which is great for the two of them to have some concentrated time together. Speaking of work, I'm firmly immersed in training, learning the systems and policies regarding equity trades. Funny that I'm blowing the dust off and finally using all the stocks, margin and options knowledge that I so studiously stuffed into the dark recesses of my brain when I took my NASD Series 7 test three years ago! Now I have to study for, and pass, the NASD Series 63 test. Yikes!

I have been having so much fun connecting with all my old work friends. I only warned two friends that I was coming, so it has been a hoot seeing people's reactions when they see me walking the halls of Ameriprise. In addition to my training, I'm working on re-establishing my network so that I can remain "visible" when I return to Illinois. Although I took a grade decrease to return to the company, I fully intend to work my way back up to where I was - and beyond.

Both Sweet Girl and I have been feeling a lot of homesickness. Actually, it's not homesickness as much as it is CHAMPS-sickness (and, yes, a good dose of Gus-cat-sickness too)! We miss Champs. We knew it would happen, so we're handling it. Thank goodness for free long distance on our home phone (internet phone is a wonderful thing). We talk to Champs every night. Sweet Girl will be going home the weekend of August 17 to prep for the start of second grade, which is good. I think the 7-year old heart doesn't handle long-term separation as well as the mommy does. Of course, she doesn't have text messaging on her phone! I have to admit that my cell phone has definitely been a lifeline for me. In fact, my homesickness is strongest at night. I bought a full-sized airbed and put it in Mom's room next to her bed. Her room is, literally, wall to wall bed. It's funny! Sweet Girl curls up next to me each night and I drift off to sleep thinking about Champs at home, sleeping in our comfy bed. Sigh.

When I was planning to come, we decided that I should bring Sweet Girl along so that I wouldn't be separated from both Champs and Sweet Girl for four months; that would have been more than I could handle. Sweet Girl agreed that 5 weeks in Minnesota would be fun. Other than seeing Grandma and family, Sweet Girl's greatest motivation for coming to Minnesota with me was to see her friends, especially her best friend, Snow White. Although Snow White is two years younger than Sweet Girl, the girls have been best friends for four years. They used to attend both the same church and daycare, so 6 days a week together makes for a strong friendship. Sweet Girl has only seen Snow White once since we moved, so this visit has really been good for her. Of course, there are also all her other friends from Sunday school. She was so excited when we went to our old church and she was able to connect with all her other friends. Snow White's mom and I are hoping to get all the kids together for an afternoon before Sweet Girl goes home.

Part of the way I'm dealing with homesickness is by helping Mom sort through the rooms in her house. After 47 years of marriage and raising 4 kids, she has more possessions than her one bedroom apartment can hold. We're sorting through, keeping the things that really matter and giving the rest to charity. It's not an easy task, but making the rooms open, airy, and filled with heart and function has been good for both of us. I keep thinking of it as a 4-month episode of “Clean Sweep”. Perhaps I could get my own show on HGTV or TLC… Hmmmm.

Well, I can't really think of anything else to write about, other than Champs and I are so grateful to God for this opportunity with my new job. It really will revolutionize our lives. Every day that I'm away, I just imagine what it will be like to get up in the morning, get Sweet Girl ready for school and then go to the guest room to log in and begin my day at work! Truly, it is that vision that gets me through everyday, until I can go home and have me, Champs and Sweet Girl together again.

Here are the comments for this post:
kenju said...
I'm glad you are enjoying you time there. When you finish, will you come here and help me pare down a 25 year accumulation?

Paul said...
Hey you. It's been some time since you and I have communicated. I know you're busy and all that. Stop by. I posted another picture of myself. You'll have to scroll, but you'll see it. No, it's not the one of Kermit.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Freeway Flirt?

Now that I'm here, Mom has been giving me rides to work each day, which I greatly appreciate. I have to admit, though, that after nearly a year away, I've forgotton how it can be to drive in real traffic. Every time I hear a Champaign resident complain about the traffic, I chuckle to myself and think, "You don't know JACK about traffic!" This week has proven my point. The gridlock today was especially henious; all four lanes of the highway were moving at a snail's pace.

On the way home, Mom's car started to overheat a bit so we opened the windows and turned off the air conditioner. Normally, I wouldn't drive with the windows open on the highway, but 88 degrees and slow moving traffic convinced me it wasn't a problem. As we were inching alone, I looked back at Sweet Girl sitting in the back looking a bit bored. I flashed her the "I love you!" sign, but she didn't see it. So I turned my head toward the back seat and loudly called out (remember, we were in traffic with the windows open), "hi Cutie!".

I no sooner had the words out of my mouth when my mom started giggling. I asked her what was so funny and she discretely pointed to the car next to us - and to the older gentleman driving with his window open, grinning from ear to ear. Apparently, I had just made his day.

I'm a freeway flirt! Who knew?

Comments from this post:
Geekwif said...
Too funny!
So, out of curiosity, is there a reason one should not drive with one's windows open on the freeway? Because my windows are always open in the summer, no matter what kind of road I'm driving on. With no a/c, I don't think I could stand it otherwise.

kenju said...
Aw, I'll bet he bragged to anyone who'd listen!

Linda said...
Sounds like you did a random act of kindness!
Didn't realize you were in Champaign (is that where you reside, or where you're training?), cuz I have a friend for you and sweet girl (about the same age, I think!)
Drivers have no clue how bad it really is until they drive Atlanta or DC...and I really think Atlanta is worse than any other place. I did the 4 year commute there....never again!

Shannin said...
OK, get real. Minneapolis traffic is NOTHING compared to Los Angeles traffic. Trust me on this. Of course, the worst traffic is a Sunday afternoon between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. I will fall on my knees to see the "real" traffic in MSP...

5:34 PM
Bec said...
You asked, "Who knew?" Was that a joke? Because I thought EVERYONE knew. At least you weren't wearing your "Pentecostal Preacher's Wife All Bathed in Purity" outfit or you would have been giving mixed signals. Ah, the joy of a double life. Ha ha.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my mom's birthday. I've always joked that she can't lie about her age. She was 30 when I was born. I'll be 42 on my next birthday (ye gads!) so that makes her "72 years YOUNG!", as she likes to say. I think that's a pretty good label. I mean, she is 72 and has some of the inevitable slowing down to go along with it, but she's also very spry and full of life. Her favorite thing is to be everyone's friend and grandma. In fact, her nickname at her apartment complex is "Grandma Bobbi" and everyone here stops me to tell me what a sweetheart my mom is. Pretty cool, huh?

When Mom got pregnant with me in the wee hours of 1965 (or the waning days of 1964), she was a living example of the 60's riddle "what do you call a woman who misses the the pill one day? Mom!". At the time, she had three kids, the youngest of whom was 5 years old. She'd given away all her baby paraphernalia (against the advice of my aunts who predicted a pregnancy if she did so) and determined that her baby days were over, much to the relief of her doctor who told her she wasn't supposed to have any. more. babies. Ever. Needless to say, I was a bit of a surprise. Even though I was the classic "oops" baby, my parents never made me feel like a mistake. My mom, especially, told me over and over through the years how happy she was to have me. When the other three went out on her own, she was so glad not to have an empty nest... and told me all the time.

Back in 1989 when I was in my first year of bible college, I wrote Mom a poem for Mother's Day. I didn't have any money, but I had a friend in typesetting who printed the poem up with a lovely font and flowers (I went to Bethany College and worked at Bethany House Publishers, home of the "Love Comes Softly" series) and I'd found a pretty frame to put it in. What was true in 1989 is even more applicable today (especially since I have the daughter I wrote about 11 years before she was born), so I figured I would post the poem here as a birthday tribute to my mom.

Tender Hands

From the first day of my infancy
the dearest love I've ever known
has been one of gentle nurturing
which the kindest hands have sown.

These hands plowed a ground hard with folly
fallow from my earliest days
For Love's hard work has carefully sought
to break the ground and soften my ways.

With every gentle word Love spoke
with each unselfish deed
tender hands have reached out to plant
their promise in a seed.

Through many years and heartaches,
with laughter and with prayers,
diligently these hands have worked
to protect the promise from the tares.

As the years have passed, Love's watched me grow
to see the fruit I'll bear
and when you look at me closely you'll see
imprints of tender hands there.

As I am growing older,
Love's work is almost done.
The promise implanted in the seed
is who I have become.

Someday, it will be my hands
that plant a garden with godly fear.
And I will plant Love's promise seeds
in a little one so dear.

And as that child grows in love,
and the promise in her stands,
may I become to her what my dear mother is to me,
God's most loving pair of hands.

May 14, 1989

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Whoa baby, it's hot out here!

Well, Sweet Girl and I are in Minneapolis for the beginning of our 5 week (for Sweet Girl), 4 month (for me) odessey. Our flight went PERFECTLY - aside from the fact that we had to leave home on my husband's birthday. So much for giving him a present, huh? Sweet Girl has never flown before, so a short commuter flight from Chicago-Midway airport to Minneapolis was just the right amount of time her a first foray into the world of air travel. Now that we're here, we're caught up in the whirlwind of going to our old church and seeing old friends. In fact, I am typing this entry out on my friend's laptop. Sweet Girl is playing with Snow White upstairs and we will soon have to call them down for a pizza lunch. We're staying inside where we are safe from the imminent danger of melting. It's something like 96 degrees and 98% humidity right now. We should be getting a storm here pretty quick. I start back at The Big Company tomorrow morning. There's so much going on right now that my mind is spinning. The biggest thing I can say at this moment is that I'm glad to see my mom... and oh, my goodness, do I miss Champs!!!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Blond Girl is in the house... for a couple more days, anyway

I'm not sure how many people will see this post; I am certain all my readers have given up on me and I can't blame them. However, I think I will soon be back to blogging. If not to keep friends and family posted, then just to keep my sanity.

As I've mentioned in the past, this has been a difficult year for us--especially financially. For me personally, it has been a year of identity crises. Who am I? What is my role in this world, this family, this town? I am beginning to learn some of the answers. I won't be sharing them tonight, but it will be coming.

No, tonight's blog is basically a newscast. Here's the big news: Since we moved here to Illinois, I've missed working for The Big Company and we have missed the income. Since we've moved here, I've often said "I want to live in Illinois and work in Minnesota! If only we had transporter technology..."

Guess what? God hears prayers and answers in unexpected ways! I won't have a transporter to use but... I have been asked to return to The Big Company and been offered a job as an Advanced Service Representative. I start on Monday, July 9. It's a step down in terms of my band level when I left Minnesota, but it's a huge step forward for our lives here in Illinois - and now that I'm back, I can work my way back up again. The best part is, I will be working from home as a virtual employee! Not only that, but I will continue working occasionally for my current (previous, as of Thursday) employer on a freelance basis. Cool, huh?

This answer to prayer couldn't have come at a better time and we are amazed at the hand of God on our behalf. Our lease is up soon and we were planning to move to a smaller home to save money - but having a hard time finding something that would meet our needs as nicely as the home we're renting now. However, now that I'm returning to The Big Company, we will be able to stay right here - no move, and a lot of stability for Sweet Girl. This is a wonderful thing because this new job comes at a bit of a price: I have to go back to Minneapolis for four months or so of training and then I'll come back home to be a virtual employee.

When I go to Minnesota on Saturday, Sweet Girl will go with me for a few weeks before school starts so that she can spend some time with Grandma and see some friends she's been missing for awhile. When school starts, she'll be back home with Daddy while I remain in Minneapolis to complete my training. Along the way, we're hoping for a few chances to see each other, as money and long weekends permit.

Although we're not looking forward to such a long separation, we know this is going to be a wonderful advancement for the family. I am already working to school my emotions to get through this... Looking toward the prize four months down the line. Please feel free to leave comments or say prayers for us. We are so thankful... and I have so much to do to be ready to go!

Here are some comments from this post:
kenju said...
I have NOT given up on you BG! I was reading through some comments on old posts just today and saw one of yours. I wondered how you were doing and here you are! Welcome back, if only for a few times. Good luck with the new job and with the separation. I'll add you to my prayer list.

Star said...
A scrifice for sure, but one that will bring you all many benefits. Good news indeed.

Geekwif said...
Woo hoo! I get you back! (if only for a few months) I know it's going to be hard for you to be away from your family, but you've got friends here who'll do what we can to keep you sane. (Think bead and consignment shopping with that new bigger paycheck of yours.) :)

Thumper said...
:::Does the wave::: Awesome!
(and I still check everyday to see if ya got a new post...I figured you were busy with Real Life...)

Carmi said...
I would never give up on you. My own career wild ride has forced me to stop reading my fave blogs for a bit, but I could never forget you or your writing.
I'm thrilled that this opportunity has found you. I believe good things happen to good people, and you've been long overdue for a lot of good things. I couldn't be happier for you, and I can't wait to read more about your amazing adventure.
Think of the stories you'll tell in the years to come.
Oh, before I forget: I'm now one of those virtual work-at-home types. If I can be of any help when you settle into your new role, let me know.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

King Tut needs to take a bike ride, I guess...

First grade imparts much to our children. Knowledge, confidence and supreme authority on every question, I think. At least it seemed that way after talking with Sweet Girl. We were on our way home from daycare when I explained that I wanted to make southwestern salad, instead of tacos, for dinner.

"Oh, that's healthy!" she said. "Yeup", I replied. "Exercise is healthy, too, Mom. Like biking! It's on the healthy pyramid. Exercise and good eating are on the healthy pyramid. And I know where it is. Do you know where it is, Mom?"

"No, where is it?" I asked.

"In Egypt!"

Well, tell Tut to put that in his tomb with all the other treasures!

Here are some comments from this post:

kenju said...
Bless her sweet little heart! Soon (we hope) she will learn to tell the difference in the facts she is learning. That's so funny, though.

Geekwif said...
Too cute. Sounds just like your precocious little sweet girl. :)

Tracie said...
No wonder I dont' eat healthy or exercise....the food pyramid is in Egypt!!

Paul said...
I've never been to the pyramids myself. So please pass the pizza, M&Ms, burgers and all-things-chocolate. Thank you.
You've got a smart and creative little girl. Bless 'er heart.

Evelyn said...
You write very well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Blessed or Beaten? Part 1

I'm not sure how to begin this post, in spite of the fact that I've written it in my head at least a hundred times. As I wrote recently, we've been going through a very stressful time - especially as it relates to work (and by extension, money). The last couple of months have felt like we're the stars in some real-life melodrama - but without the huge TV audiences or the big paycheck. Have I mentioned that I don't enjoy melodrama?

Champs was laid off from his second-shift job (we'll call the company AL) in early February, just three weeks after finally qualifying for medical benefits. He began working in the employed-today-and-unemployed-again-tomorrow world of temporary work and collecting unemployment when he was off assignments. 32 Days after being laid off, Champs was called back to AL because they had fired 3 workers. He had no choice but to go back to his old job at AL, even though he hated it and it meant that once again he wouldn't see Sweet Girl. On top of it, because AL called him back on the 32nd day, they would not reinstate his benefits - and we fought them for four days over the issue. It was frustrating that they would make him work another 90 days to qualify for benefits when he had already worked four months for them and completed one round of qualification. Not only that, but when he was laid off, he was an auditor. They brought him back as a forklift driver. Needless to say, all this was very upsetting for Champs - and his wife.

One week after returning to the traitor's employ, Champs hurt his shoulder at work. Thankfully, it was a mild injury, but without any insurance, we are now at the mercy of workman's comp to pay the hospital bill. Interestingly enough, that was the last day Champs worked for them.

Around the time he was called back, he got a call from a company (we'll call it HH)to he had applied months ago asking him to come in for an interview, which he did a couple of days before he hurt himself. The hiring manager liked Champs, but ran into consistent problems trying to get references and background checks from AL. Through the process, the manager assured Champs that he planned to offer him the job - once he got everything he needed from AL.

After Champs hurt his shoulder, he was off work to recuperate for three days. During that time, he sat down and discussed the situation with me. Because he felt certain to the get the new job and because he hated AL with every. fiber. of. his. being, he proposed to quit that job. With my heart in my throat (and a promise from Champs that I could punch him hard, twice, if he didn't get the HH job) I agreed. He called in and explained that he wouldn't be back.

It took 5 more days for Champs' new manager to get what he needed and give Champs an offer - an offer that is about $6.60 less per hour than he used to earn in Minneapolis. On April 4, Champs started his new job. It doesn't pay great, but it is so much better. Champs likes the work and the people. Also on the plus side, this is the first time in our last seven years of marriage that Champs is working a first shift job with no over-the-road travel. Having him home every night is amazing. Also, even though he doesn't get paid much, the benefits and room for advancement are good at HH.

That's Champs' story. Mine will be next. Stop back for chapter two of "The Old and the Dutiful" (or maybe "The Stung and the Reckless").

Monday, April 9, 2007

Yawn, stretch... Good morning.

Have you ever awoken from a dream that was so real you can still smell and taste it, but so convoluted that you struggle to explain it? The kind of dream that leaves you feeling as though you haven't slept at all and haunts you all day long?

You have? Good.

Because that is the best way for me to explain why I've been gone for so long. Our lives the last month have been like an intense dream - or a really bad soap opera. And, by the way, I hate soap operas. One of my failings is that when I get stressed and frustrated, I tend to withdraw. So I haven't been reading blogs or writing in mine. Even poor Geekwif has had to subsist with only phone calls and text messages from me this last month. Yes, I know - I am a wimp.

We're coming out of it, though, step by step, and some good things are happening for our family. I will write soon; I just have to determine the best way to synopsize our experiences without missing the important things or adding so much I bore you all to tears.

Rest assured, we are well... dazed, but well.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Swwet Girl Bribe

I made a ham and vegetable frittata for dinner tonight. Champs and I finished eating pretty quickly, but Sweet Girl took a few minutes longer to eat dinner (that’s nothing new, actually).

Here's a SweetGirlism story about our dinner. I was at the store with Sweet Girl this evening and picking up some ham and hash browns. She asked what it was for and I said I was making a frittata.

"I don't like that!" she insisted (Note, she's never even heard the word). I told her that she would love it. "No! I don't like it!" again. I went on to explain that she loves all the ingredients I was using; broccoli, cheese, onions, etc. Nope, she still wasn't having it.

So I did something I never do.

I said, "OK, I'll make a deal with you. If you promise to eat all of your dinner with NO COMPLAINTS, then I will buy ice cream for dessert - and you can pick out the flavor." At this point, she nearly squealed with delight. "But", I said with grave sincerity, "if you complain even once, you won't get any ice cream for dessert. In fact, you won't get any ice cream out of the entire carton, no matter how long it takes Daddy to eat it."

Man, talk about round eyes! She counted the cost, agreed, and we proceeded to the ice cream aisle, where she picked out Eddy's Girl Scouts Thin Mints Limited Edition ice cream and accepted my challenge.

She just finished eating and I heard nothing but praises to her dinner since it came out of the oven (Champs and I told her it was getting a little thick when she declared it the best dinner she'd ever had). Yeah, I bribed my kid - something I rarely do - but I have to admit that it worked and it was pretty funny.

Here are some comments from this post:
Carmi said...
Bribery is always within the scope of parenthood when it results in a well-fed, healthy child. Good strategy on this one!
And I'm sure the ice cream tasted especially good. I've learned something tonight!

kenju said...
I see no problem with that at all! Whatever works, right?

Melissa said...
Too funny. Glad it worked. A frittata sounds really good. Actually, so does the ice cream.

margalit said...
Hey, same bribary, different dinner! I made beef stew tonight. My son (14) complained constantly about how he hates beef stew like it was going to poison him. I told him that if he ate some, he could have ice cream for dessert. After 3 bowls of beef stew, he had earned his ice cream!
Michele sent me.

Geekwif said...
Mmmmm. Frittata. Sounds yummy.
I love that she said it was the best dinner ever. Sounds just like your girl. :)

chase said...
A frittata... hmmm that sounds yummy. And yes a treat will always perk things up!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Maybe I'm Crazy.... Probably

It's been awhile since I've posted; partly because I've been so busy and partly because I recently "discovered" Facebook. I goaded one of my friends to join (Hi, Geekwif!) but she wouldn't do it until I explained what she could get there that she can't get via email or her blog. After an explanation, she jumped in and quickly learned what I meant about the ease of catching up with friends, acquaintances and such.

But I have to admit that there is one thing about Facebook that I'm not fond of, and that is my inability to rant, rave, and reveal myself. I miss the journaling factor of it; that thing that allows me to sit in front of a white page and just let go - regardless of the length, unfettered by the need to be cute and quick about it, too. If you think about it, it's the text message of the journaling world. I think of Facebook as being more of an autograph book than a journal.

OK, so enough about that. I was about to explain that I may be crazy - and that, in fact, I probably am. Why, you ask? Because of my to-do list. I'm not sure how much more I can cram in there, but knowing me, I will try.

Let's see. We just bought a house and closed on Tuesday. We're not moving until the 21st, but that leaves us from now till then to finish packing up everything in this house (about 1/2 done), and get the new house all cleaned and ready to be moved into. Then there is the settling to be done at the new house, and the required cleaning before we vacate this rental at the end of the month.

Next, there is Sweet Girl's schedule. She's in Girl Scouts, so we've been running around like mad trying to deliver cookies. Also, she's in the park district's theater production of Annie Jr as an orphan. She has practice 4 days a week.

Next, there is my Pampered Chef business. I did a show last week and I have one this Sunday - 6 days before we move.

Also, I accepted a role as a team lead at work for a project. I'm loving it, but it is keeping me at work about an extra 1-2 hours a week (love the OT though!).

All of this stuff needs to be organized, scheduled, fit together. Somehow, I'm doing it (as is my hubby). The only question remains, "Are you crazy?!?"


Some comments from this post:
Geekwif said...
Facebook does definitely leave something to be desired for the person who wants to really write. Not that I've been doing much of that on my own blog lately....
If you wanted to know if you were crazy, you should have just asked. I could have told you that long ago! ;-) Silly girl.
Just don't wear yourself down. Busy is better than bored, but wearing yourself to exhaustion is not good.

Star said...
I am still resisting Facebook, because I am afraid of the time it will suck up. I do Twitter though. Good luck with the new house.

David said...
you left out the descriptive "totally" that goes so well with CRAZY.
That sounds nuts to me

Thursday, February 22, 2007


I should do a T13 today, but I figured instead, I would relate three conversations I've had in the last 10 minutes.

Last night we had Papa Murphy's take-n-bake pizza and I got a small cheesy bread, which I saved for tonight. After some deliberation, I made it into a chicken pizza and stirred up some brownies to bake while we ate. Near the end of dinner, I got up to check the gooey goodness and sat back down. "2 More minutes", I mouthed to Champs, not yet ready to divulge the surprise to the rest of the family. Sweet Girl looked at me and asked, "what's in the oven, Mom?"

"The thermometer", I said.

"What is it checking the temperature of?" asked mini me.

"The oven", quoth I

"Oh", she breathed... and asked again "well, what's in the oven?"

"The rack", I quipped.

"What's it holding?" she tried one last time to get me to give up the goods.

"The thermometer". Champs and Grandma laughed. She sighed and gave up. Sometimes trying to talk circles around mom just won't work!


Later, I walked into the living room, past a couple of baskets full of laundry which, to my dismay, were still in the living room and not put away in our bedroom, which is Champs' assigned household duty. I went over to the coffee table where Champs was lounging and playing a video game (or was he watching T.V.? I'm not sure). I bent down and said quietly, "you know what I did on Monday night?"


"I did laundry. And I finished it on Tuesday night. Now it's Thursday. Are you wondering what your part in this is?"

"No", he deadpanned.

"Oh", I answered. "And are you wondering how hard I am going to hit you?"

He just laughed at me and went on with his game, knowing that he can push my buttons just as well as he can Madden 2000 .


Finally, I went out to the kitchen to cut up the now cooled marshmallow-slathered brownies. Ala' Alton Brown, I had baked them in a pan lined with parchment paper, so I could lift them out of the pan to cut them up. With all the melted marshmallows on top, the knife got gunked up pretty quickly - all full of warm, yummy gooeyness. I contemplated the knife and raised it to wipe it off with my fingers. As I raised it, my mom yelped, "you're not going to put that in your mouth, are you?"

"No!" I scoffed. "Do I look that stupid?"

She looked at me for a moment with the unspoken comment that when chocolate is involved...

"Never mind. Don't answer that."

Here are some comments from this post:
princssis said...
MMMM - So, how were they? Would this happen to be the special box of brownies I bought?
K - I need a chocolate fix now. And I don't have any brownie mix. (darn!)

kenju said...
Mmmmmm....bownies! I had some last week. Champs is related to mr. kenju, I think....LOL. Laundry here can remain in the basket for days and days!

Linda said...
I will lick the knife...if it's only my family eating, chances are we've already shared all the germs, between kissing and coughing and sneezing and blowing raspberries (I have young'uns!)
And I lick SHARP knives too...and don't cut my tongue!
Now I have to make brownies....sigh. Maybe I'll give in and make healthier raspberry bars instead.

carli said...
What time do you want me for dinner tomorrow night?

Minerva said...
You have me SALIVATING...
Pass some over here, or at least the recipe...

Shannin said...
Thinking of you and hoping Champs finds something soon! Still keeping my ears peeled if anything comes up with The Company.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Daddy's Situation from Sweet Girl's Perspective

Well, if you've read my last few posts, you know that Champs was laid off on Monday. We're into the world of unemployment, on-line job searches and resumes all over town.

The down side is that we have no money.

As a parent, it is easy to see the down side - and forget that there may be an upside.

However, there is Sweet Girl's perspective. See, Champs worked from 3:00 - 11:00 p.m., so Sweet Girl only got to see him for about 20 minutes before and after school each day. When he came home early on Monday, she didn't ask why. We waited until Tuesday evening just before supper to explain to her why Daddy was home at this unusual time. I explained that sometimes, a company has too many workers - more workers than work to do - and so they have to let some of them go so that they no longer work there.

Champs followed along and gave some additional input as I explained that this is what happened to her Daddy. She understood that Champs didn't do anything wrong - it was because of the company, not him. We explained that money will be very tight for our family until Daddy finds a new job - and that we are hoping that this time, when he starts a new job, it will be during the day when she is at school.

Sweet Girl sat quietly through our explanation and then I asked her if she had any questions. She sat silent for a minute, thinking and then asked, "so Daddy will be home when I am home now"? Champs and I nodded. Sweet Girl hopped off her seat, ran into the family room and started dancing, hooting and singing that Daddy was home.

I know she can't see the whole situation, but seeing her perspective reminded us of the Bible's exhortation to thank the Lord at all times. Remember that it says a child will lead them? Well, she did.

Thank You, Lord, for Champs being laid off. Thank You that he can be with his Sweet Girl - and his Blond Girl - for dinner each night. Thank You that he can be here to put her to bed and say her prayers with her. Thank You that we can trust You to care for us. Thank You, in advance, for the perfect daytime job!

And most of all, Thank You for Sweet Girl and her joyful perspective to teach us.

Here are some comments from this post:
Geekwif said...
1. How adorable and sweet is she. I can just see her dancing around the room nearly squealing in delight that her daddy will be home with her.
2. I'm so glad she was able to shine some light on your situation. Like Little B said the other night, this may just be the answer to your prayers by allowing Champs to get the job God has for him.
3. Holy cow Sweet Girl's hair is getting long!!!
4. And have you ever seen such skinny little arms!
5. I miss your girl. I miss you too, but seeing that picture just reminded me of her and how much I miss her.

ShopaholicsDaily said...
What a great way to turn things around. I'm not sure that would have been my first thought, but sometimes you do have to look at the world through a child's eyes!

David said...
praying for God's blessing on your family in this transition

Carmi said...
I am always amazed at children's ability to see the world in simple, honest tones, and to find the good in pretty much anything. You've got one very special little girl there, no doubt because you've both been such great parents to her.
I wish I lived closer so I could actually help. If I can be of virtual assistance, please don't be shy.

Catherine said...
It's strange that Michele sent me to this post, because my husband was laid off last week. And when I went to my part-time job intending to tell my boss that I would have to look for an extra part-time job, or a fulltime one, he offered me extra hours. Before I even asked. Of course, I only get about a third of the pay rate my husband did, as he worked in a highly specialised field for many years. But I have a feeling things will be OK for us, and for you too. Here's hoping for the perfect daytime job for him.

Sarch said...
blond girl you can count on me for prayer support from down here in Alabama. I know this is a difficult time for you, but I know that if you'll keep your faith in God through this it will work out to your good and His glory! You and Champ and Sweet Girl will look back at this at some point and say, "There was a time where the Lord sustained us."
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

Veda said...
Great explanation! Kids are fantastic at finding the up-side to just about anything, and what kid that age doesn't want only to be with Mom and Dad? Great post, Blond Girl!

Mr. Althouse said...
That's really nice, really. Sometimes it takes a child to completely ignore the periphery and remind us of what it's really all about.
Michele sent me,


kenju said...
Blond Girl, you and Champs are definitely seeing the silver lining to the cloud. I hope that he will find a good job soon, one that will continue to allow him to be home with you and Sweet Girl for dinner!

MissMeliss said...
Trust a child to only see the best and brightest bit of a situation. You and yours are in my thoughts and prayers. I'm sure you'll get through this and come out the better for it.

Thumper said...
I'm glad you're able to see the bright side to things. I think I'd be puking up toenails if the Spouse Thingy lost his job... I hope Champs finds something *soon.*


Momish said...
Oh, its always wonderful to find the bright side to a previously scary and sad situation. And, it is even better when your child leads to you that revelation!
Best of luck to you both. Hang in there and enjoy the unexpected time together as much as possible.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

13 Things About All the SNOW!

Well, Champaign got hit with 10 inches of snow on Tuesday and we're still reeling from it. So I bring you 13 Things about all this silly snow:

1. A winter storm watch was posted on Monday for Tuesday during the day. The school districts closed on Monday at 3:00 - hours before a flake had fallen. Wimps.

2. Monday was a pretty mild day; about 33 degrees. So after work (and while waiting to find out if Champs still had a job) I went out and chipped the ice from the previous snow off the end of our driveway. I figured a clean slate would be easier to work with. I expected my neighbors to do the same, but I didn't see anyone else taking advantage of the opportunity. I guess some things you just learn from living in a snowy climate.

3. Before we went to bed, we got all our vehicles off the street and onto the clean driveway. This served two purposes; to keep our cars from getting stuck in the street and to help keep the driveway cleaner. Again, none of the neighbors did this.

4. By the time we woke up on Tuesday morning, the snow was halfway up the tires and the plows were just getting out. Since the schools were closed, I didn't go to work. Mostly, I just wanted to be home with Champs to help him and me look for better jobs.

5. Mid-day Tuesday the IL-DOT closed the highways. The plows couldn't keep up. They would plow the snow and it would blow back on the road. They never saw how MN DOT does it; they use a huge snow blower plow and blow it into huge dump trucks that remove the snow and cart it away, not just pile it up at the side of the highway.

6. By noon on Tuesday the district declared the schools closed on Wednesday, fearing that the plows wouldn't get the roads cleared in time. Wimpy Wimps.

7. On Tuesday, Champs went out late afternoon and snowplowed our driveway and a neighbor's driveway. It was still snowing, but it's always easier to get out after a big snow if you move some of it part way through. Again, must be a Minnesota thing, because no one else was out trying to clear up that we could see. Champs has a bright orange snow suit that he wore to get the plowing done. He sure won't get hit by a snow plow wearing that thing. That is, if a snow plow ever comes...

8. The snow finally ended around 6:00 p.m. or so, leaving us with 10 inches. You can no longer see the grill on our back patio. Our back door drifted shut, so my mom's dog, Lucy, had to go out front to do her, um, business. Since she's only 9 inches tall and hairy, she wasn't too happy about the snow thing. Mom was concerned about putting a leash on Lucy since the front yard is not fenced like the back yard. I told her she needn't worry; the dog barely went two feet from the house and zoomed back inside the moment she was done.

9. Wednesday morning, the highways were still closed and the plows had barely gotten anything. The major grid roads were cleared, but none of the residential streets. Thankfully, my little zoom-zoom car is a great snow vehicle and got me right through. The streets were nearly deserted. Going steadily and carefully, I got to work in a surprisingly fast 10 minutes.

10. Since he was home, Champs got our driveway completely cleared and helped to get three neighbors unstuck (from our as-yet unplowed streets), as well as snowplowed two more driveways. They all said "well, you're from Minnesota, so you're used to this, right?" Pretty much, it seems.

11. A full 24 hours after the storm ended, our residential streets were not plowed. Whatever! On top of that, at 7:00 p.m. the district declared our schools closed AGAIN on Thursday. The reason? One or two of the school parking lots weren't plowed yet. They couldn't have a few schools open and a few closed, so they closed them all. Wimpiest Wimpy Wimps! I bet a few of the dads with plows on their trucks would have gladly cleared up the problem to get their kids back in class on Thursday morning.

12. By this morning, the residential streets were finally plowed - except where people left their cars stuck in the roads. City officials didn't start towing cars until Wednesday evening. In Minneapolis, they declare a snow emergency as soon as there is an inch of snow and start towing violators immediately. The plows are not as hindered by cars. Residents just know; if it's gonna snow, get your cars off the street. Another Minneapolis snow knowledge thing, I guess.

13. I went to work today; the streets finally plowed and everything open. Here's the funny part; it took me 18 minutes to get there! No joke. People here don't know how to drive in the snowy stuff. Case in point: one women went down a curvy street at 5 MPH. I am not exaggerating. There was a line of cars built up behind her at least 15 vehicles long. I'm sorry, but if you're afraid to drive when it's all been plowed, then you should probably stay home. Call the school district, they'll condone it.

The point of this blow-by-blow is that the city planners here could learn something from Minneapolis. We had a humdinger of a storm last March; 13-20 inches. More than 120 buses were stuck in the snow and 20,000 plus people lost power. By the next morning, the streets were cleared, the power was on and school - every school - was in session. No highways closed and no one missed three days of school. So this town doesn't get as much snow as Minneapolis does. It would still be nice if they would learn to be prepared when it does!

Here are some comments from this post:
Sarch said...
Blond Girl you cracked me up with this post. "Wimpiest wimpy wimps" - LOL

My gosh but you are harsh! :-)

MissMeliss said...
This may have been a rant, but having lived in SoDak where there is serious winter, it made me laugh and nod in agreement. Wimpy wimps indeed!

Stacie said...
I'm from Michigan and it used to snow like crazy there when I was a kid. I always have to laugh when here in CT, they close schools the night before because it's "supposed" to snow...
Wimps indeed! Unbelievable. Sometimes they cancel school if we get snow on a weekend, because they don't want to pay a janitor to come in on a sunday (they'd have to pay overtime) to shovel the sidewalks...so they cancel school. No kidding!

Veda said...
Hey, Blond Girl. Midwest winters are not for the faint of heart, that's for sure! I would think though that Illinois would be better at handling it all. I've been through MN in the winter - you're right, much clearer than the rest of that trip. Here via...Veda's (thanks for the really great comment, btw)!

last year we had plenty ( but late) this year we can hardly scrape together enough for the skiers.
funny weather, but Calif is like that. lovely rant, did you learn that in MN also? hehe
here from miss melliss

L-Girl said...
Yay!! A snow day!! I love those. You guys were ahead of the game!

Geekwif said...
I have to agree with the wimpy wimps thing. I think I wouldn't mind if Minneapolis was just a teeny bit wimpier though. Three days off is a bit much, but one might be nice now and then. ;)

Carmi said...
I so relate to this list. Montreal's public works department approaches winter snow clearing with the discipline of a military unit. Their response protocol defines what kind of equipment is deployed at what stage of a given snow event, and the result is a city whose roads are usually quite usable during and after the largest of storms.
Here in London, our winters are far less severe. But the city seems to have no snow clearing capability whatsoever. Streets are ignored for weeks at a time, sidewalks accumulate dangerous layers of snow and ice. People have accidents - in cars and on foot - that could have been avoided.
I'm amazed the city hasn't been sued more often.