Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 - Wow

It was a wild year. This time last year I was in a minivan packed with my entire gang including lizard and crab and driving into Colorado. Actually, Dec 30th of last year, we arrived at our rental house. The heat had cut off and I was sooo sooo cold. I was in tears I was so cold. My husband, completely disgusted with his wife, took the 9 yr old and the 7 yr old to Summit County to Ski on New Year's Day and I went crazy in a cold house on a Mountain unpacking with small people.

Enter Facebook, Moms United in Business, Lib Johnson, Christi Silvers, MIS, and eventually Blogging and Associated Content. That group there pretty much kept me sane for the next 6 months and followed me back across 1/2 the country when I returned home. I find myself still trying to reorganize and regroup after all of that!!!

I intend to write out resolutions tonight or tomorrow. I haven't in years, but I am feeling a need for growth lately.
In the meantime, if you've only run into me recently, I leave you with my favorite post from the mountain days:

From January 2008:

Honey wake up, I have some news that is going to make your day challenging...
That is how my husband woke me this morning. Don't you just love it when that happens? So darling, what exactly is it that is going to ruin my day?
Well, the heater isn't working.

Okay - that IS going to ruin my day! The high yesterday was 9 degrees, the low was 1, with the wind chill we are subtracting anywhere from 15 to 20 degrees.

I am squinting at my husband, the covers still pulled to my chin, and thinking. That is it. I quit. I am packing the kids into the car and going home. I literally stick one toe out from under the covers... oh no. It is COLD in this house. Thankfully there is a wood fire place and he already has that going, the oven he has wide open and on to 500 degrees and all the stove top burners are fired up. And he bought a space heater last week for the basement - whew! We put that in the room by Izzy's crib... I am tiptoeing around the kitchen in ski socks, a wool sweater and my wool hat (don't I look lovely) I refuse to shower! And start making the kids breakfast. Those kids usually bounce out of bed at 6, 6:30 the latest. At 7:15 I am pulling them out of bed, "grab your clothes and go get dressed by the crib where the heater is."

Outside the trees are still white and glistening from the frost. The wind is picking up snow off the ground and swirling it around and my 12 year old yellow lab has disappeared. I call him, shut the door, wait a bit call him again. My husband says, "well you know mountain lions hunt in the morning."

Okay honey, I didn't shoot you when you told me that the heat in this mountain house you insisted on renting (I wanted to live in town and have neighbors and less wind and a modern house) wasn't working but if you calmly tell me my old dog has become cougar breakfast and you don't go find him I WILL shoot you and then I really am going home! Does he go looking for my Mali? No, he is putzing around the garage with tires. The obsessive tire project he has had going since we arrived. Did he research tires before we drove the minivan across the country. Nope. But once we got here, low and behold my minivan's run flat tires not only do not work well in snow they cannot easily be changed to snow tires because of the rims. I have spent several days sitting at home because I am the only woman in the entire state of Colorado whose car cannot handle snow! Fine, I grab my boots and coat and I've already got my hat and gloves on and go looking for my dog. Finally he comes running home from who knows where. Good grief!

I get my three big kids off to the bus and the heat kicks on. What? I have a heater that only works when it is warm? Well relatively warm anyway. Ridiculous. Mr. Heater Fix It Man arrives around 10 AM. He explains that the most likely culprit is the fact that the Dryer vents out right over the pipe that brings air into the heating unit. Which means that the dryer is melting snow and it is making its way into the intake pipe and then it froze. We know it froze as there is still a block of ice there. Lovely. With out air the compressor can't do its thing and without a happy compressor I have no heat. I get it. This is important. So what am I to do? Well you just got to dig out your dryer vent every day and make sure it isn't melting snow over the intake pipe. Hmm how convenient. So, everytime I run the dryer I get to go check the snow level. I have 5 kids... how often do you think that dryer runs?

Ah hah. So girls - guess what - I now know that the dryer vent and the air pipe are in the wrong place and this makes the compressor not happy and a not happy compressor means my heater quits when it is freezing.

All I can say is I am so glad to live in an era when there are things like dryers standard in most houses and things like heaters also standard in most houses and that I have a cushy enough life that I can expect these things to work regularly. I look out my window at the Continental Divide and marvel at the men and women who made their way out here without indoor plumbing and regular heat. It is a wonder they survived. My grandfather says my generation is "soft" and doesn't know what hard work is. Maybe not...

As I finish writing the above one of my sons comes running upstairs, "Mom you know the bedroom downstairs you told us not to play in? Maggie locked herself in!" Off we run, multiple phone calls to my husband including the "911" page go unanswered. The bobby pin trick isn't working. The back of a paintbrush isn't working. We find a tool bag in the garage. I dispatch the 9 year old to our neighbor's house. They have horses, don't all animal people have lots of tools and knowhow?

My 7 year old has his fingers jammed under the door so the three year old (locked in a room that is not only cold but also dark) can touch finger tips with him and listen to our voices and know we are coming. I decide to pull the door knob off the door thinking my first choice of brute force jamming the door off its hinges will traumatize her. Lefty loosey Cailin, lefty loosey. It seems like it takes for ever but I get the door knob off, and pass it and the screws to my 5 year old for safe keeping and to give him a job. I find a flat head screw driver and manage to turn the locking mechanism and the door is open. A hysterical three year old falls into my lap.

Once she is settled I turn to the five year old for the knob, he has placed the screws into the knob and now they won't come out. Hmm. I think it is time for a cookie and some hot chocolate, and perhaps a bit of peppermint schnapps for the mommy's cup?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tim Yates Dataxstream

Tim Yates a founding partner and CEO of Dataxstream LLC, SAP STAR, SAP XI, SAP makes Toast

read more | digg story

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Year's Eve in Williamsburg Virginia

First Night is a community event with a street carnival style. Colonial Williamsburg offers events throughout the day and into the evening.

read more | digg story

Monday, December 22, 2008

Newsweek... Obama savior of Capitalism?

Newsweek wants to know if Obama can save Capitalism
quote: "For Obama to be remembered as a great president, he has to do nothing less than rescue capitalism."

1: Barack Obama
The new U.S. president will be judged by whether he can save capitalism.
By Fareed Zakaria | NEWSWEEK
Published Dec 20, 2008
From the magazine issue dated Jan 5, 2009

I want to know if he even wants to!
With no ugly feelings intended; I have read Obama's books, I like him. Although in the interest of full disclosure, I will say I didn't vote for him based on his small business position and statements.
Okay - that said.

Much of the imagery used in promoting Obama was distinctly socialist. I am saying that as a flat statement. Some people don't like socialism, some do. I tend towards Capitalism but I can see value on both sides of the fence. But I am not so sure that Obama would make "saving capitalism" a priority. Because I am not so sure, that in his eyes and with his history, he will feel that capitalism is worth saving. I would expect him to seek alternative ways of restoring economic health. I am not well enough educated in the philosophies, economics and practice of the ideologies of capitalism and socialism and other isms to provide a good discussion here. I am wondering if anybody else is? Would you care to comment? Would you care to provide a 101 reading list? Thanks.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Well, all the cookie parties from two weeks ago and I found my 2 year old on the floor with the cookie bin and the dog and a few crumbs. I had a full blown temper tantrum. Stomping my foot and hollering while my "sage" child {I swear she was a tibetan monk in a former life} looks at me with her big black eyes as if to say "there goes mom again. When will she learn to just let it go?"
So we are baking today.
One batch of gingerbread stars on the cooling rack, one batch of toll house cookies being cooked and sugar cookies are next. And then out to the store for pecans - awesome and relatively easy pecan cookie recipe from the cookie party. So good.
AND my package from my brother-in-law arrived. My brother-in-law a Mr. David Johnson. Works at Starbucks. He just sent me a box of Kamodo Dragon. MMM-hmmm... my brother-in-law loves me.
Cookies and coffee!
Life is good.

Brown Sugar – Pecan Cookies

1 cup butter softened
½ cup sugar
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups of flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped pecans

Brown Sugar Frosting
Pecan Halves (2/3 cup)

Beat butter until creamy
Add sugars and beat well
Add egg and vanilla, beat well
Combine flour, soada and salt; gradually add to butter misture, beating well.
Stir in chopped pecans
Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes
Shape dough into 1 inch balls and bake on ungreased cookies sheets

Bake at 350 for 10- 12 minutes
Spread 1teaspoon of frosting on each cookie and top with a pecan half

Brown Sugar Frosting

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup half and half
1 tablespoon of butter
1 ¾ cups powdered sugar

Combine brown sugar and half and half in saucepan. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil; boil 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in butter. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating with electric mixer 2 minutes or until frosting is spreading consistency.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Coffee Table

so... ya'll know we borrowed Mom's furniture last week. It seems my man rather like having a coffee table (it was a very nice table) and so he set off to Home Depot. He came home with some oak and set to work with the saw:


while he was in there my 3 year old and the 4 year old neighbor decided to provide him with a bit of holiday cheer. They sang "Jingle Bells" with enthusiasm known only to preschoolers.


By Sunday afternoon there was a base, with tapered legs no less, and a top. The top still needs "plane-ing" but over all it is quite exciting.


Tim is such a talented guy

Sunday, December 14, 2008

SILLY Project!

EVERYBODY mentions the need to blog and tweet for branding purposes. I cannot get the "big boys" at Dataxstream LLC to take care of that. They are too busy.

I've been stewing over it for some time because it is not like I can sit down and write about SAP or aspects of projects or the latest challenge they've dealt with. Heck, I don't know. I mean, sure I can say SAP, IDOC, ERP, LOTUS, MERCATOR, JAVA, and so but it isn't like I know anything.

But... I decided FINALLY that since they just don't have the time or whatever to get a good blog going, I will. HAHA. So it is a bit tongue in cheek...

do me a big big favor PLEASE, and go visit.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mary Mulhare - House Pictures

I promised photos of Mary Mulhare's staging of the house for the party...
as my friend Thea said "She came through!"
okay - like I said - it is an AMAZING house - but we haven't really furnished it - I am pretty lucky in the "hand me down" department. So the hall table is Mom's, the flower arrangement is mom's, the chair is mom's...
the coffee table is mom's {it is gorgeous - we want one, our neighbor wants one, half the people at the party want one!} the pillows on the couch are mom's, the chairs in the corner are mom's, the table in the other corner is mom's, the table coverings and the flowers on the table are all mom's. The cool sculpture is by Beka Hedly and it was a present to me. The outrageous gold mirror over the fire place is mom's... the couch is a hand me down piece the big wooden shrunk behind the kids is a hand me down piece
details... she is into details...
all ready for daddy's big party:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Mother is MAGIC

My husband decided on Friday last week that instead of taking the employees/contractors and consultants to dinner as is custom; that we would cater it at our house. And then he decided what the heck, invite local contacts and at one point the invite list was over 100 people. At my house. Thursday the 11th. Some of these people I do not know. Many he wishes to impress. Egads.

I called my mom.

My mom (Mary Mulhare who works with Carolina Furniture on Richmond Rd in Williamsburg) is Magic. She is a designer. A good one. And so she immediately understood what I wanted. I live in a FABULOUS house, but we have not really furnished it properly or fully or well... you know... it is a process and we have kids and stuff is expensive. YOU KNOW?
So my mom starts walking through her own house. "You need these chairs. You need that table. You need this flower arrangement. You need that silk plant. You need the coffee table. (no I don't have a coffee table. I guess that is silly. But it would just end up covered in laundry like everything else around here.)" And then I loaded it all up in my minivan and she followed me home and started "staging" the house.

You should see it. It looks like "SOMEBODY" lives here. Seriously. Whew! She should do this for a living. Oh right. She does. You should call her.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Fall's Focus - Learning Disabilities

Despite the Peschool Auction, despite my business with Arbonne, despited two business trips with my husband, the fall focus has been at the elementary school.
I wrote this in October after my first meeting:

I am the mother of a child with Learning Disabilities. You can call them what you want. Learning Disabilities, learning differences, enhanced learning. It means that the way information is taught within the school system is not working for her.

Here is the kicker. The kid is brilliant. Yes, I know, all parents think their children are brilliant. This child consistently scores in the 99 percentile and above on those IQ tests that they give them at the end of the year. In third grade, the first year she had to take SOLs we were completely stressed, and she received two perfect scores. So really, I mean it, she is brilliant.

Her problem hasn't been diagnosed yet. After her first grade teacher recommended that she repeat first grade (we got a tutor instead) and her second grade teacher recommended testing for LD, and her third grade teacher recommended testing for LD and then this summer the Visions (Gifted) teacher who has her for Advanced Math recommended testing her for LD I decided to go ahead. It was a difficult decision because her father has been against it.

Quite naively I walked into what they call a Child Study meeting expecting to be told what tests were available, what we would be looking for and what I should expect. Naïve. I now know, if you want help from Special Education Services, you walk in with a battle plan.
the rest
(go ahead and click I need the view hits)
since then we've had a second meeting, received approval for the kid to be "evaluated" and had a meeting for my second child in seond grade.
Yesterday the oldest met with a new tutor, the same woman who is doing the reading evaluation. The Woodcock-Johnson test did not show anything helpful, but the tutoring did. So we will see where we end up.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Cards

I am worn out - we've been fighting colds and some kind of tummy yuckiness for a long time it seems and the interrupted sleep on top of the regular schedule and then the holidays is getting to me. So I have little to say when I sit down and try to write. But my new friend from "I choose Bliss" stopped by the other day and so I went over to her blog to check things out and noted the Cards for Heroes mention. So i flipped over to their site to check it out. The deadline is December 10th. Gonna have to get on it!

It got me thinking about Christmas 1976. My Birthday is just after Christmas so I was not yet 5 and my dad was in Korea. He'd been there for months by then. Because of the time difference (Korea is basically 12 hours different from Eastern Time) he would call my mom in the middle of the night. We were living in a "summer house" tiny little thing, on Cape Cod with an antiquated phone system. Several homes were on the same phone line. One ring meant one house, two rings meant another, so everybody on the line would ring. If mom didn't get to the phone fast enough, one of the other homes on the phone line would pick up, holler at my dad for waking them up and hang up on him before my mom got to the phone. I remember singing silly songs I'd learned in kindergarten into a tape recorder and my mom sent the tape, and a tiny tree, and a bunch of construction paper cards we had made to my dad for Christmas.

My dad was in Korea for a year. He wasn't in combat, the Korean war was long before, but we still send military personnel to "hard ship" zones for 1 year tours as part of their military duty.

A few years ago... okay... its been more like 15 years now I guess... I cashed in my benefits and spent the summer in Paris studying art. While I was ther France closed its borders to Algerians, something France does periodically when Algeria makes a decision not to France's liking. I was on a train to Belgium for the weekend to see a photography exhibit with my friend. While we were traveling through countryside in the dark, a train official starting moving through the car rechecking tickets, and checking papers and passports. In the front of the car a dark skinned man was questioned, his papers to held to the light and scrutinized, he was thoroughly harassed. They deemed his papers authentic and left him alone. Another victim was picked out again by skin color and this time his papers seemed not quite in order and the train was stopped and he was kicked off the train, in the middle of nowhere! And so it continued. The train conductor got to my friend and barely looked at her or her passport. White and blonde she didn't need to worry. He got to me, we were in separate seats and literally snarled as he barked for my passport. I handed him an American Passport and I swear it was as if I had a squad of Marines behind me. The guy looked like somebody had slapped him across the face. He made a show of looking at my photo but you could tell there was no way he was messing with an American regardless of how dark he deemed her skin. (I know some of you black girls are looking at my photo and thinking "Dark???" in Europe I'm not looked at as "white.")

I was raised military and so "The best defense is a good offense" is the perspective from which I look at the world. But after that experience I really got it. It is good to be the strongest country in the world. Really and truly.

And so, military personnel, dependents left behind. Thank you. Thank you that my kids do not step on mine fields when they go out to play. Thank you that my sons are not likely to pick up a weapon to fight in the streets like some of those kids you see when you are deployed. Thank you that I can sleep in my nice cushy bed and feel safe at night. And thank you for having my back that night on that train in the middle of no-place in a country where I barely spoke the language. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Happy Wednesday

Saying "Happy Wednesday" always makes me think of Pooh Bear and Piglet and "The Windy Day" and the two of them running around saying "Happy Winds-day" to everybody. I have watched Winnie the Pooh a lot in the last 10 years. I like the classic version.
Today I get to be "snack mom" in the three year old class. Yay me! "Snack Mom" is such the cool job. Unfortunately I woke up at 3 AM and could not get back to bed, so I will be relying heavily on vitamnin B and caffeine this morning. Ah, such is life!
Last night I went to a cookie exchange with the ladies on my street. It is only the second cookie exchange i have ever attended and the first with these girls. It was really nice. We have ladies of all age brackets here, many retired, many with grown children but still working and many with kids in school. I had a great time. One of the ladies, Mary Lou, had 5 kids that she stayed home with and then traveled around with her husband after the kids were in college. They lived in Italy for a year and she's been to Singapore - 3 times! Bev was just back from a medical mission trip to the mountains in Honduras, an area that is seldom if ever visited, and we talked about that for quite some time. There was a wonderfully fun lady there, gosh I cannot remember her name, who teaches 5th grade. She has two grown kids, a house in Niece/ Nice (?) France (!) FRANCE! loves to ski and travels all the time. I need to become her best friend!
I came home with all kinds of lovely goodies and a head full of ideas.
small ones are stirring... time to get breakfast up and going. I think it is a good day for oatmeal.