Friday, December 26, 2008

A last minute Christmas

Despite putting up the Christmas tree and having the Christmas cards addressed the weekend after Thanksgiving, this year really turned into the last-minute Christmas.

We did have some events that severely cut into my prep time, though: a late night weeding party at work; two Christmas parties on the same night; playing the piano for every Saturday night and two out of three Sunday morning contemporary services; rehearsal for the Christmas concert; the Christmas concert; babysitting for my nieces for an entire weekend; participating in two cookie exchanges; helping the DCE paint 200 Christmas tree ornament; snowstorms causing last minute schedule changes... the list goes on.

So I found myself on the morning of Christmas Eve with no present for my mother. Of course, she is one of those people who says that they never want any Christmas presents, but she goes overboard buying presents for everyone else.

The plan was to go out Christmas Eve morning to Michael's or Walmart and buy her supplies for card making, but it had been snowing for practically 24 hours straight. I really did not want to go out -- especially since the snow blower is broken and we have to shovel by hand.

So I tried to figure out what I could do for a present for my mother without leaving the house. Something I could complete by 5:30 pm when I would devote the rest of my evening to playing piano for the Christmas Eve service.

Then it hit me -- I had a blank calendar in my craft stash. I could make her a 2009 calendar and decorate it with family photos! I'd done one a long time ago and it was fun and she loved it.

So I sat down at the computer to start sorting through a year's worth of photos to figure out which ones I could use. It didn't take long to figure out that there was no realistic way I could select, crop, print, and cut up enough photos to get this completed by my deadline -- let alone come up with 12 different (and fantastic) designs for the calendar. (one for each month of the year)

Feeling discouraged, I went back into the craft stash and -- this time I hit the jackpot! I found an old 6" x 6" scrapbook that I put together at a workshop a couple of years ago. We put together the pages -- stamped, glued embellishments, etc. -- but I never put any photos in it! All I had to do was print out photos (fewer than I would need for a calendar) and glue them down!

Hot diggity daffodil!

I was on a roll. Because the pages were only 6x6 (as opposed to a 12x12 inch calendar) I could get more photos on a sheet of photo paper and it would use less ink, etc.

My first two pages printed without a hitch. But then I ran into a digital photo enthusiasts nightmare. My printer started jamming every time I went to print on photo paper. Regular paper worked fine, but the photo paper was getting chewed up at an alarming rate! And this was my good, expensive photo paper too! (I can't bear to use cheap photo paper. You have to use the good stuff to get good prints.) Anyway, 6 ruined sheets of photo paper later, I had my photos.

Then, in what can only be described as a Christmas miracle, I found myself with a two hour block of time to cut the photos apart. It was great!

Hannah needed to be at church at 4:30 so that she could be a puppeteer in the 5:00 service. So I ran her up to church taking the photos, the album and a roll of adhesive and I glued the photos in the album in plenty of time for my 7:00 service. (I even got to watch my daughter attempt to work a puppet and do Bible readings. I even took photos from the balcony!)

So mission accomplished! I would have a wonderful present for my mother when they arrived on Christmas Day.

Christmas Day my parents telephone.

They are concerned about the weather and aren't coming until Sunday........

(Hey, maybe I'll use the extra time to scan in the pages so you all can see how they turned out!)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

There's a reason he's doing community service

Rotten lousy community service person! I have this volunteer who needs to do court-ordered community service. It just so happens that we did a huge book weeding project and we have a conference room full of books that need to be de-processed.

Fine, I said, come in and do your community service work here. For once, we actually have work that a community service person could do.

He came in yesterday afternoon as I was leaving. That's still fine, he knows what he's supposed to do and he's an adult and I'm not going to babysit him.

But what the $#%@ did he actually do? One lousy shelf of books? I can whip through an entire cart in the time it took him to do the one shelf.

And he wrote down that he was here an hour and a half? Doing what? Texting his friends? Looking up the value of the books on ebay? Grrrrr

Monday, December 22, 2008

I have gotten two chocolate bars from colleagues at work for Christmas and enjoyed them thoroughly.

But what does it mean when you are given Orbit gum as a gift?

What to read next?

Okay, so it's still 2008, year of non-fiction. So which of these do I want to read first?

Whichever one is on the shelf here at the library, of course....

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas thoughts

What a difference a good night's sleep makes.

Last night Iwas NOT in the Christmas mood. In fact, I was angry, annoyed and (probably most of all) tired.

With predictions of a horrible snowstorm coming, the kids' band concert was postponed AGAIN -- but it wasn't even snowing yet. I was looking forward to the concert, but now I just want to get it over with. Now it will be January 7.

Instead we went to the mall. Michelle needed to buy a present for a birthday party next week and Hannah wanted to buy presents for a couple of her friends at school. It was kind of annoying shopping with a 13-year old who didn't know what she wanted to buy. At least I found a Tinkerbell lantern kit that Michelle wanted -- at a fraction of the normal price. So that was good.

But walking around the mall made me think about money. And so I started worrying about money. Which is nothing new, but it irritates me because I have no reason to worry about money and yet I do.

It still hadn't started snowing at 8:00 when we went home so I started to think that the weather forecasters were off their rockers.

I still had to put gift tags on the items I had bought for my colleagues at work, and I hadn't even printed out my Christmas letter, which is lame this year. Dave tried to get me to sit down and watch The Office but I groused to him that I had too much to do.

I printed out the letters and got all the Christmas cards ready. But I did not do it joyfully, which bothers me. Christmas cards should bring joy. I hope that the recipients don't sense the anger I was feeling as I put the cards together.

Then I was angry about the clutter that Christmas inevitably brings. While I love Christmas decorations, I always feel like everything in my home has been displaced.

But this morning is different. It's a snow day. And even the library is closed! (Hallelujah!) And I got to sleep in! Well, I got three phone calls at 5:30 am, but those were telling me that there was no school/no work today. So I enjoyed two more hours of blissful, blissful sleep.

And now, I'm enjoying a lovely fried egg and a buttery slice of sammie bread, catching up on Colbert and blogging. There's only the tiniest bit of concern that I will get a phone call from my boss at 11:00 am saying that we're going to open the library at 1:00 pm or something.
But I think I can deal with that because the Christmas cards are done, the Christmas shopping is done and now I can concentrate on opening my heart to receive the Christ Child who comes to bring peace, joy and love.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

One less thing to worry about

Tomorrow is the last school day before Christmas break. It occurred to me that I need to get out the gift certificates I picked up for the teachers so that the kids can take them to school tomorrow. But I don't have any Christmas cards! I actually cut my usual list of Christmas cards down because I didn't have enough cards this year. (Guess I could be lame and just send a letter with no card, like some people.)

Of course I have supplies to make more Christmas cards. What I don't have is time. Tuesday night's band concert has been changed to tonight and heaven knows what's going to happen with the weather.

Anyway -- crisis averted! I was rummaging through my desk at work and ran across some Christmas cards I had made last year. W00t!

Top Chef last night

Okay, got just a couple of minutes before heading off to a meeting.

Initial reaction: bummer.

I liked the challenges, I liked Martha Stewart, but hated the other guest judges and I was ticked off that they didn't send someone home.

Oh, sure it was heartwarming to see everyone pitch in and help the chefs whose food got ruined, but ultimately this is a competition and at the end of every episode, someone is supposed to go.

Yeah, I know they've had other "do-over" sort of episodes, but I feel cheated. So the food wasn't great, someone still had to have the worst. And frankly, you know that Eugene and Melissa aren't going to last a whole lot longer.

Ultimately I think everyone is too likeable this season. There's no bad guy -- no Hung, no Marcel for the drama. Eugene's getting a little cocky, but he doesn't have the culinary skills that Hung and Marcel had. Much as I liked him before, it's time for him to go. And Melissa's "I deserve to be here because I _want_ to be here" doesn't endear her to me.

I hope next week they eliminate two chefs.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Season's Readings

2008 was the year of non-fiction.

I think the only fiction I read in 2008 was that horrible Breaking Dawn book. So I was just about to declare 2009 as the year of fiction, but then Fast Company published this list:

Fast Company Best business books of 2008

Back of the napkin – Dan Roam

Big switch – Nicholas Carr

Buying in – Rob Walker

Earth : the sequel – Fred Krupp and Miriam Horn

Iconoclast – Gregory Berns

Eyes Open Series – ideo

Pixar touch – David A. Price

Sway – Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman

White tiger – Aravind Adiga

X saves the world – Jeff Gordinier

So I'm not entirely interested in all of the above books, but I have just got to read the Pixar one and Gen X ones. And White tiger won the Man Booker prize, so that's a gotta read.

But, can you see me reading a book about global warming? Get real. I'm not sure if I need to read Iconoclast -- about thinking differently. I don't need to read about it, I already do that.

Then Bob Sutton has to go and give a nod to Orbiting the Giant Hairball, so now I have to add that to my "want to read" list, too.

When am I going to find time to read Maxiumum Ride?

Friday, December 12, 2008

On the 12th day of Christmas my schedule gave to me:

12 Days 'til Christmas
11 Trips to Jewel
10 Glurge emails
9 Choir rehearsals
8 Church services
7 Hours of cleaning
6 Loads of laundry
5 Overnight guests
4 Dozen cookies
3 Christmas parties
2 Band concerts
1 purchase from DVC! (Disney Vacation Club)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Top Chef spoiler alert!

Warning -- if you haven't watched Top Chef and don't know who was eliminated, then you might want to stop reading now.



Here we go.

First let's talk winners.

Yea for Jeff! Stefan didn't want him to do the sorbet, but everybody loved it. Lesson learned -- stand up for yourself when you know you're right.

Yea for Ariane. Kind of surprised that it wasn't Jamie, but you know what? It's a competition. Take the win. Lesson learned -- if you want to win, make the main component of the dish, not the garnish.

Yea for Carla. I guess. I think she took the high road by not coming right out and saying that Daniel ruined her dish. When I think she really could have. Well, she's safe for one more round. Lesson learned -- stand up for yourself again -- and don't take your eyes off your entree!

Yea for Daniel. For not being a baby and crying when he got the boot. That was pretty short and sweet.

Yea for Eugene? He smokes? And Stefan too? How can you be a great chef AND a smoker? I would think that smoking would ruin your taste buds. Whatever. Eugene. I've been rooting for you, but if you want me to continue to root for you, you have to cook something besides sushi. Your days are numbered.

Why I was late for work

This morning I was driving to work down Wise Road. There was snow on the road, but it had obviously been plowed.

So I'm going along and notice the light up ahead turning yellow. So I tap the brakes and totally start sliding. I don't have ABS, so I start pumping the brakes, but it's clear there's no way I'm stopping for this light.

Thank God (literally!) there was no one in front of me. I'm sliding along, honking my horn in hopes that no one will pull out into the intersection.

Thank God (again!) that they did not. I rolled right through the red light and then proceeded to slow to a much safer speed. So pretty much the rest of the way to work I drove at half they speed I normally would.

I do still like winter though....

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Extra extra read all about it!

Well, here's a headline that should help the Tribune with its financial woes:

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich arrested

All I can say it "I knew it."


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Top Chef update

Once again Leah wins immunity, much to my chagrin. She's my new Lisa I think.

I don't know who is the new Marcel/Hung. On the one hand, there are the Europeans. Fabio and Stefan are pretty confident, but they aren't as annoying as Marcel.

I enjoyed the challenge. I thought it was a good one. Interesting how Tom pointed out that a number of the chefs claimed not to want to do TV. And here they are on a TV show. I was glad to see Jeff and Ariane on top for a change. I felt a little bad for Jamie, but not too bad. It all just goes to show that you can be on the bottom one week and on top of the world the next. Then on the bottom the next.

Anyway, I surely didn't cry that Alex got sent packing. I knew he wouldn't last long. And not just because of his mind being on his wedding. He just doesn't have what it takes to be Top Chef. And I don't think Melissa is going to last much longer either. At least Gene is still around! Go Gene!!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Time to post

Wednesday night was the 3rd-5th graders turn to lead the Advent service. The program was "A King is coming!" The citizens of a town knew that a king was coming but had different ideas about what kind of king it would be. The king of rock and roll? King Tut? King of the jungle?

Of course, the King turned out to be Jesus and only two children of the town were able to remind the citizens about Jesus coming to us at Christmas.

The best part of the whole evening was when the one girl read the Christmas story from Luke 2. She sounded EXACTLY like Linus from a Charlie Brown Christmas. I talked with a couple of parents afterward who were totally in agreement. Then I talked to the girl's father and when I started talking he said "didn't she sound like Linus?" None of us would have been surprised if she had ended her Bible passage by saying "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." It was awesome.

Last night I went out with my sisters in law and my niece and her friend and mother in law. Whatever, it was a girls night out. We went to Cheeseburger in Paradise.

I had intended to go straight from work, but Dave got hung up on a conference call so I had to run all the way home, pick up Hannah from choir, pick up Michelle from piano lessons and spend some time with her trying to convince her not to quit band again.

Guess she had a bad day, musically. She's playing this baritone sax that's really old. It tends to squeak and the band director didn't have time to stop and fix it. Then she wasn't prepared for her piano lesson and so that had her upset as well. So we had tears over all that.

I think she's hit that big trouble spot in piano that all kids hit. Either you work through it (like I did) or you quit (like I let Hannah do). In Hannah's case, I think it was okay, because she has excelled at trumpet. I'm not ready to let Michelle quit piano. I think she likes it more than Hannah ever did, so I think she needs to stick it out for a while longer.

Anyway, that's getting off topic -- wait, did I have a topic?

Tonight I'm working late, as we are having a "weeding party". That's where we pull old items from the shelves that aren't being used in order to make room for new stuff. I'm going to be really tired when we're through. Thank goodness tomorrow is Saturday....

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Kristi tagged me!
I've stayed up way too late so I'm very tired and punchy, but I don't know when else I will have time to blog for the rest of the week, so here goes. (Please take my responses with a grain of salt....)

Seven things I did before I had a child(ren):
1. Played in a bell choir
2. Directed a bell choir
3. Watched the TV show "Friends"
4. Called in sick to work when I just wanted a "mental health day" off
5. Owned a convertible
6. Counted cross stitch
7. Played cards

Seven things I do now:
1. Play Wii
2. Blog
3. Update my Facebook page
4. Direct a flute choir
5. Have TMJ
6. Read parenting books
7. Worry about my kids

Seven things I would like to do:
1. Travel to New Zealand
2. Spend a day at a spa, getting a massage, manicure, etc. -- the works!
3. Be a public library director
4. Lose weight (wouldn't we all!!)
5. Pay off the mortgage
6. Own a convertible again
7. Work at Disneyworld!

Seven things that attract me to my husband:
1. He gives me foot massages
2. The collective memory of the lives of our children
3. He likes cats
4. He helps the kids with their homework
5. He has a lot of financial know-how
6. He doesn't care that I'm taller than him when I wear dressy shoes
7. He loves Disneyworld even more than I do

Seven favorite foods:
1. Lou Malnati's pizza
2. Diet Coke
3. Baked potatoes
4. Mozzarella sticks
5. Sushi
6. Green beans
7. Cheesecake

Seven things I say most often:
1. What's on the calendar?
2. I'll have to check the calendar.
3. Did you practice your saxophone/trumpet/piano?
4. Hot diggity daffodil!
5. Pwnd!
6. I don't agree with that chord. (This is during Praise Band practice.)
7. What's for dinner?

Seven people I am tagging:
I follow a lot of blogs, but I don't really know any blog authors.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Thanksgiving weekend

It was a very nontraditional Thanksgiving for us this year.

We went to my parents' house Wednesday after I got off work. We were pleasantly surprised how light traffic was getting out of town.

So we got there around 9 pm and the first thing Michelle did was get out the game, Payday. So we played a few rounds before bed.

We went to church Thursday morning at my Mom's neighbor's church. It was a small crowd -- very small. Like less than 30 people small, so when the six of us walked in, it was a big deal. The pastor was very friendly and welcoming, which was nice, but then he made us stand up before the service and introduce ourselves. Not cool.

We went home after that, and that's when I started feeling ill. Like really ill. While everyone else enjoyed turkey, potatoes and green beans, I was lying on the couch sleeping. So the day was pretty much a loss for me.

Dave and Hannah had planned on going shopping Friday morning, but Friday morning Dave was ill and had to take to his bed. So Hannah and I went out together. Bath and Body works had some good deals. We looked around Waldenbooks, but didn't purchase anything. We walked around a few other stores in the mall, but didn't purchase much else. We went to Toys R Us, but the line snaked its way around the store and there wasn't anything there we were willing to stand in line for.

Our last stop was Game Stop. We just can't resist a video game store. The associates were very friendly and I asked if they had any Wii Fits. They had one left! Hooray! I'll take it! I was pretty excited.

The rest of the day was pretty low key. We had brought the Nintendo 64 with us and despite Dave's warnings that it wasn't going to work with my parents' TV, I got it to work just fine. So we played N64, ping pong, Masterpiece and dominoes.

Saturday my parents took the kids to a local children's museum in the morning, but we all met for lunch at Taco John's. No one believed me that it would be better than Taco Bell, but Taco John's rocks socks! And everyone agreed. Saturday night we were all feeling much better and went to visit a librarian friend of mine who moved to my parents' hometown about a year ago. So that was nice.

The snow was coming down pretty hard by Saturday night so we decided to get up nice and early Sunday morning and head home. It was still snowing when we left town, but the further we traveled, the better the roads got. We were home by 1 pm, which left us with the better part of the day to unpack and unwind before getting back to the daily grind on Monday.

Top Chef recap

I'm so glad that Top Chef is back on the air. I really do enjoy it. I stayed up until 12:30 am last night watching last Wednesday's episode.

First off, I'm sure I'm showing my age, but while I do know of the Foo Fighters, I can't say that I can actually name any of their songs. So the celebrity aspect of the show didn't do anything for me. The prize of going to their concert wouldn't be a big deal.

I think they do a Thanksgiving challenge every season. The twist of only microwaves and toaster ovens would have done me in. Guess I'm not very adaptable when it comes to cooking.

I need to say right here that I don't like Leah. I'm not sure why, but I just don't. She did play it safe, picking all the "right" people for her team. Hated the team name. Team Sexy Pants? Ugh.

I'm glad that Ariane redeemed herself by making the superior turkey. I don't think she's going to last long, but I think it's nice that she gets one good acknowledgement before she goes.

You know who I do like? Eugene and Jeff. I'm afraid for Eugene because he doesn't have the training that the other contestants have, but maybe he's a chef savant. He's done some things that the judge have really enjoyed. The makeshift barbeque showed his ability to be creative. I'm rooting for Eugene.

I like Jeff, but for all the wrong reasons. Let's face it, he's cute. Did you notice that in the intro he winks? Yeah, he's the pretty boy and he knows it, but frankly, I don't care. I do like that he stepped up and tried to take the lead for his team. I was surprised that he didn't get asked to pack his knives and leave, because usually the person who takes on the leader role is the one who bears the brunt if things go awry. Then again, he was more an unofficial leader of the team. At any rate, I don't think he'll last too much longer. Good looks will only get you so far. Then again, consider how long Sam and CJ lasted on other seasons. (But Sam really could cook.)

I don't like that the winning team didn't have to face the judges table. While everyone was eating, they had some major criticisms for the team, which they never got to hear. I also didn't like that there was no one "Top Chef" for the episode. The judges should have acknowledged one chef as being the standout for the challenge.

All in all, I of course, enjoyed the show. I may even re-watch it tonight. But "The Closer" is on right now and I believe I shall watch that and blog about my Thanksgiving weekend.

Ironically enough, we just watched Boston Legal where Carl Sack pointed out that people don't give their full attention to television shows while watching them. Yeah. Ever since we got this tablet PC, which we keep in the family room, I'm usually online at the same time the TV is on.

Peace out, dawgs!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

This year I've been participating in a leadership initiative. Three times I've gone to leadership training at various locations in Illinois.

In April, we met for three days at a conference center in a state park a couple of hours from home. 30 of us gathered and divided ourselves into 5 groups of 6 people. We were assigned two mentors and we laid down ground rules for ourselves and gave ourselves a name.

Before we arrived, we all took the enneagram quiz, to determine what our leadership style was. I tested as an 8, but I really fell that I'm more of a 4. Anyway, the idea is, you first understand yourself, then you can seek to understand others.

We did an exercise in strategic planning and looking at the world around us -- one of those SWOT analysis things. Then we had to put a 5 minute presentation together about the top four challenges facing our profession.

Our group worked very well together. It was somewhat terrifying, standing up in front of a room full of strangers, talking about a subject that I'd only spent a few minutes thinking about. Anyway, we got very positive feedback and our group was feeling pretty good.

In the evenings, two of the mentors would get up and give a talk that was supposed to encourage and motivate us, or teach us something about leadership. Afterwards, a few of us would get together in the bar, but I never really found one really kindred spirit that I could connect with.

I was disappointed in our last day as we began an interesting discussion about values. We were supposed to list some values that were important to us. Mine were things like honesty, integrity, respect and mercy. The others in my group said things like communication, improvement, teamwork, or motivation -- things that I didn't consider to be "values". It was kind of odd. Overall, it was good, but it was feeling superficial yet.

We met again in August at another state park in Southern Illinois. We learned about setting a vision for ourselves and our organizations. We wrote vision statements for our ideal workplaces. I liked this exercise, as I think I have a very clear vision of the organization I would like to create.

That evening, a storm came through and we lost power. We had no air conditioning and there was no emergency backup lighting. We didn't have our usual evening in the bar. Instead, we all got one candle to take back to our rooms. At least I was fortunate enough to have a corner room. I was able to open the windows and get a cross breeze, but it let in several mosquitos the size of owls.

We did one of these group exercises the next afternoon about setting goals, making group decisions, taking risks, etc. We were running mythical branch offices and trying to make money. Our group worked exceptionally well together and we "won" the exercise, making more theoretical money than any other office. We felt pretty good about our victory until the next day we were told by our mentors that the other groups viewed our group as very clique-ish. (Wow, was I in the cool group for once in my life??)

The final morning, like the previous session, we got feedback from our mentors. They pretty much hit the nail on the head when it came to my turn. I was told that I needed to quit holding back when I new the answers. Our one mentor said that he could see it on my face, when I had an insight, but he wondered why I was so unwilling to speak up. It was hard to respond. The truth is, I'm really scared of speaking up. The others in my group always seemed so articulate and when it was my turn to speak, words always seem to fail me. But my group was very supportive. They said I was quite articulate, actually. They respected what I had to say. I left that session feeling good about my action plans, feeling like I was developing my leadership potential.

Our third and final session was just last week, here in the Chicago suburbs. This time, getting back together was like riding a bike. We all just seemed to pick up where we left off. Topics for learning included empowering ourselves and others. We learned strategies for overcoming self-defeating behavior in ourselves and our colleagues.

Then came the bombshell. One more last minute presentation. We were to come up with an innovative idea and sell it to a group of key stakeholders. What should have been an easy process for our group became a struggle. One member of our group was not on board with our idea and even I had doubts about some parts of our presentation. We did a decent job in the end and garnered the praise that we had become accustomed to, but only our mentor knew the pain that we went through to get there. One one level, it felt like a failure, because the process was not what it should have been. Of course, the day after the exercise, I thought of the perfect, most convicing arguments for our presentation, but by then it was too late. I guess I can't really think on my feet. How does one learn that ability?

Our last night, instead of the usual mentor presentation, each of the groups gave a final "celebration" presentation. The only criteria were that every member of each group participate, and that we celebrate our experiences.

Our group elected to go last, which worked out just great. I even got the last line, which was a great play on words that came to me during the final mentor presentation the previous evening.

The final morning we were together, I felt really confident. I had great ideas for my action plan-- big ideas about how I could improve myself professionally, improve my library and contribute to my profession as a whole.

However, like many mountaintop experiences, once I left the conference, I really crashed. Well, I was tired from the whole thing, but it was more than just being tired.

On my way home, I had to stop and get one of my tires fixed, as I noticed it had a nail in it. As I sat in the automotive repair waiting room, I was suddenly overcome by paralyzing fear. What had I committed to? Why had I listed such lofty goals? What was I thinking? Here I was supposed to be this newly energized leader, but I was unable to move, unable to speak, unable to think.

I made it through the next day at work by keeping to all the mundane tasks that make the day go by quickly. But I did take some time to explore the opportunites for accomplishing some of my new goals. Ironically, some opportunities have come up that are perfectly aligned with my goals. I'm still terrified, but there are deadlines rapidly approaching and the deadline may be the thing that motivates me to take action instead of paralyzing me.

I realize that's probably vague, and it is vague for a reason. I can't risk giving away too much information about the program, as we are asked to keep much of what occurs there as confidential. All I can say is that I'm not the same person I was when I entered the program. The good thing is that it doesn't have to end here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Julie Blackwell's Dewey Decimal Section:

334 Cooperatives

Julie Blackwell = 01295221313522 = 012+952+213+135+22 = 1334

300 Social Sciences

Books on politics, economics, education and the law.

What it says about you:
You are good at understanding people and finding the systems that work for them. You like having established reasoning behind your decisions. You consider it very important for your friends to always have your back.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at

Monday, November 10, 2008

What would Disney do?

Today I had the opportunity to respond to a potentially unpleasant situation and to implement a Disney mindset as well.

Over the weekend a patron put his CD into one of the public PCs. Literally. This particular PC does not have a CD drive and he just shoved it into the cabinet in the tiny space between the floppy drive and the case of the computer.

So it was stuck there. The library staff tried to explain that we would have to call a technician to remove the PC case and retrieve the CD. They said it might be a couple of days before someone could come out.

I guess the guy was pretty unpleasant about it.

So today I cracked open the PC and sure enough, there was the CD in question. Unfortunately, it was cracked beyond use. (It was also filthy and I can't believe that it would actually work!)

So my Disney response was to put his broken CD, a brand new blank CD and a USB flash drive into an envelope for him. I called him to explain that I had his CD, but it was damaged and would not be any good. He was audibly upset, but once I explained that we were giving him a new CD AND the USB flash drive, he was pretty much rendered speechless.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Catching up

What happened since that last blog post? It's kind of frightening to say that I can't actually remember. Dave took Monday off of work and attempted to lay some new floor tiles in the bathroom. They look okay to me, but apparently there is something that he has to re-do, like they aren't sticking down the way he wants them to. All this means for me is that right now I can't use my shower. We have to use the kids' bathroom instead. Not the worst thing in the world, but my favorite shampoo and conditioner are in the other shower. I think Monday night I was a bum. I remember watching Boston Legal and playing a lot of Cooking Mama.

Tuesday night I had my flute choir rehearsal. It was a little disappointing as I only had 2 out of my usual 5 flutes. One told me ahead of time she couldn't come. My best player has some sort of bacterial infection. One just didn't show up at all. The worst part is that we are scheduled to play in church this Sunday! Well, I think we're ready anyway. After flute choir, Hannah and I stayed at church and I let her play on the drum kit that the praise band uses. She's been trying to convince me that she can play the drums, but I remained skeptical. Turns out, she does know on basic rhythm, and she can keep a beat. Not too shabby. We'll have to make it a point to practice more, and I need to get the praise band drummer to teach her some more rhythms.

I guess that brings us up to tonight. Well, it was half price margaritas and 99 cent tacos, of course. Then Hannah's drama group had their little practice. While she was gone, the rest of us vegged out in front of AFV. Then after the kids went to bed, I did some more Cooking Mama and now I'm determined to get something accomplished. I need to pick the hymns for the Saturday night services for December. I figure this should be pretty easy.

Tomorrow is Michelle's birthday (11!!) and tonight she was telling me how she was worried about getting everything done tomorrow. She's got early band and is worried about being late. Then I have to pull her out of school for an appointment with an oral surgeon. The orthodontist wants to pull 12 (!!!) of her teeth (8 baby teeth, 4 permanent ones) then get her into braces right away. Poor kid. She's not having the teeth pulled tomorrow, it's just the initial consult. Then it's back to school, then piano lessons after school, then we're going out for dinner for her birthday.

Monday, November 03, 2008

What's wrong with this picture?

70 degrees?? In November? This does not please me.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Still busy, but making progress

Left work at the usual time.
Drove straight from the library to Michelle's last volleyball game of the season.
They won! (Beat those bratty kids from Naperville)
Took photo of volleyball team. (Michelle is back row, second from the right. Lucky number 7.)

Drove home. (This is no small feat these days. The major road between church/school and our house is completely under construction. What used to be a 5 minute commute is now almost 20 minutes.)
Dave brought home dinner from Taco Bell. (They shorted us a chili cheese burrito!)
Finished eating just in time to take Hannah to Drama Ministry.
Went to Micheal's to look for glow sticks.
Found the glow sticks (cheap!) but then their cash registers all went offline. (drat!)
Went to the party store. Jackpot! Found all different sizes of glow sticks -- on sale!
Went to Dress Barn. Got a new dress (50% off!), a nice dressy shirt and a necklace to match the dress.
Hurried back to church where I just ended up sitting and waiting while the kids finished running their skit one more time.
Read the Park District brochure.
Went home, put the kids to bed.
Washed the top & pants for Michelle's Halloween costume.
Watched Colbert.
Worked on the mini-scrapbooks I'm making (completely from scratch!) for my leadership conference in three weeks.
Took pictures of my cats. (Those are still on the camera.)
Cleaned off the desk in the office.
Checked email.
Posted to the blog.
Not sure what I'll do next.....

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fall cards

So I made this card by stamping the leaves images onto the orange cardstock. Then I stamped the same image onto the green cardstock. Then I cut out the leaves and glued them onto the orange stamped image. Ugh. It was so hard to cut out the tiny little leaves. But it does look cool, huh? The red paper is supposed to be dry embossed around the edges. I really am no good at dry embossing.

For this one I stamped the speckled brown onto the yelllow cardstock. I stamped the leaf then colored it in with chalks. Then I rubbed the edges of the paper with a stamp pad to do the distressing. I guess it's okay.

I think this one turned out nice. All I did was stamp the leaf and use chalk to color it in again. Then I "double matted" it. I don't know if you can see that I stamped leaves on the red cardstock too.

I think I like this one, too. I stamped the leaves onto the yellow cardstock. Then stamped the one leaf and again used chalk to color it in a little more. Then just layered everything up.

That's about it. I haven't stamped much lately. Been concentrating more on scrapbooking. But if I'm going to send out homemade Christmas cards, then I need to get going on something soon.

No time for posting now!

Sorry for not posting. I've been going nonstop since yesterday morning. Work, dentist, homework (not mine, making sure the kids do theirs!), paying bills, stamping with my sister in law, work again, and tonight I have a music planning meeting followed by band practice! I'll get home just in time to send the kids to bed, read the mail, work on my Synergy homework (this really is homework for me), watch Boston Legal and House and collapse into bed.

I'm not asking for pity, I'm just saying, this is my boring. It hardly seems post-worthy.

Hm, maybe I'll be surprised with yet another Disney trip when I go to band tonight......that would be news now, wouldn't it??

Friday, October 24, 2008

Save the date!!!

Remembrance of things past

Two things happened to me today that reminded me of Julie KS Wilder.

1. I used the big paper cutter today. Every time I use the big paper cutter I think about the time that Julie sliced her finger using the big paper cutter at the Klinck Memorial Library. I imagine she still bears the scar today.

2. As I approached the library this morning, I was greeted by a squirrel coming towards me on the sidewalk. His beady little eyes on me, as we grew closer, it became clear that he (I assume it was a male squirrel) had no intention of yielding the walkway to me. We passed within probably 2 feet of each other and then the squirrel started following me. I wondered if his plan was to attempt to enter the building when I opened the door. I first tried to "shoo" him away by raising my arms and speaking to him in my most authoritative voice. But he was not dissuaded. As quickly as I could, I opened the door and went in.

This reminded me of the time that a squirrel invaded Julie's apartment in St. Louis. I remember her relating the story of how she would come home to find her apartment in disarray and her landlord put up chicken wire to keep the squirrel out and how that did not work for very long.

Why are we so afraid of squirrels??

Just a dream

Thanks for the encouraging comments. It was, however, just a daydream. I can't see myself walking away from the library world just when I'm poised for a directorship. I'm just waiting for one to come along.....

It's just been a slow couple of weeks at work. Everything has been really routine and kind of boring, really. I miss having my own department to run; someplace where I have a lot of influence. I only supervise the maintenance crew, which is two guys, and there's not a lot that has to be done to supervise them.

I've been at the new job for almost two years and already the seeds of discontent are beginning to sprout into the seedlings of restlessness. The bad thing about working someplace that's really great is that there's so little room for change and improvement -- i.e. it's boring.

At my old library things were so bad, that we always learned to kind of go with the flow. Here, things are so good, that even the tiniest ripple in the waters of contentment evokes a tsunami of rage from some of the staff members. So much for my resolution to stop rolling my eyes so much.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Allowing myself to daydream

Before going in to work this morning, I spent about half an hour practicing the piano. I pulled out an old finger exercise/drill book from a long time ago and played through a bunch of drills.

As I did, I allowed myself to dream a little. Maybe if I worked just a little harder at the piano, I could quit the library business and just do music for a living.

I know I could get a job at my own church running the contemporary music program. I could be the resident pianist and choir accompanist. I could even get back to directing the bell choir again. Then I could give piano lessons on the side. I do already have a regular gig accompanying our own school kids for their band solo competition, but maybe I could expand that as well. Hannah will be in high school next year and I'm sure those kids have a solo competition of some kind. Maybe it could work.....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Lost : a day in my life

I was sick yesterday. I went to bed with a headache Sunday night and woke up with a full blown, knock-down, all-out migraine Monday morning. I made myself go to work just long enough to sign time sheets and to change the backup tape, but was back home by 9:00 am, asleep by 9:02 am and I didn't wake up until 1:00 pm. Wow.

When I woke up, I felt better, but not quite 100 percent. I laid around on the couch, watching TV until Michell came home from school on the bus. (Dave took Hannah to the orthodontist to get her retainer.) So then I read while Michelle worked on homework for the next hour and a half. Yeah, she had a lot of homework to do. But she didn't complain, she just got to work and got it done.

Finally around dinner time I was feeling more like myself again. We went to Lou Malnati's as it was a fund raising night for the school. For once, we actually did NOT order pizza. I never realized how many other tasty things they had on their menu besides pizza. But service was so slow. We spent just over 2 hours there.

By the time we got home, we had to send the kids to bed and then we settled in to watch Boston Legal. After that, Dave went to bed, while I stayed up and finished reading Breaking Dawn. Ugh, what a chore. I've now read the entire Twilight Saga. I don't know why, though. I found the books to really be awful, typical teen writing. Not that the author is a teen, but that the style of writing could only possibly appeal to teens. Fortunately, the writing is such that you really don't need to read every single word to get the gist of the story.

On to better books again. I'm still looking for a good non-fiction book on CD to listen to. The last one I listened to, Kluge, was interesting, but all the evolution stuff annoyed me.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes' sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes' sake along the wall.

Robert Frost

Friday, October 17, 2008

Is it Friday yet?

Okay, so it's Friday, but it's the longest 1 hour and 45 minutes of the week. I am so ready to go home....

Top Chef is back!?!?

Where did you get that date? I've been looking at the website, but can't seem to find a premiere date. It says "Countdown" but where are we in the countdown? Help! I need this information!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How could I have been so careless?

Tonight I did something I've only ever done one other time in all my years of video game playing. I accidentally saved over a game file with the wrong one.

A few years back I had two different files going (can't remember why) on the game Dark Cloud 2. In one file, I was significantly further along in the game than the other. We're talking probably a good 40 hours of playing time. When I went to save, I wasn't thinking about which file I was on, I had probably just defeated a boss or something. Anyway, I was pretty upset with myself to lose 40 hours of time invested in a game.

Fortunately, tonight's accidental save wasn't as bad. Hannah and I have been sort of competing to see which one of us can play through Twilight Princess first. We were pretty much neck and neck in the overall storyline, though I had a few more heart pieces than she did. I also had tracked down and defeated a few more Poe ghosts than she had and probably opened more treasure chests as well.

What actually happened is that instead of opening my file when starting the game, I opened her file and played for a little bit. I have a tendency to save more frequently than she does and after getting a couple of items, I went to save the game and, of course, saved in my file slot. It took us a minute to figure out why my file (where my character's name was TomNook) was now saved as Link. It was Michelle who pointed out that she noticed that Midna had referred to me as Link while I was transforming into a wolf.

Well, there was nothing we could do at that point. Michelle thought that we could turn everything off and then back on again and that would fix it, but it was too late, the game had already been saved.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Eat your veggies

Well, I'm trying to, anyway. What is it that makes some pieces of celery taste good, and others taste like horrible, bitter herbs? I actually enjoy celery, particularly for its ability to support peanut butter, but how do you know which is the good bunch of celery to buy?

And, what spices/flavorings/toppings can you add to make cooked vegetables more fun to eat? Green beans is easy. I love green beans and could eat them plain, but I like to top them with garlic and/or almond slivers to add a little variety. But what can you use with cooked carrots, corn or peas to make them a little more enjoyable without adding a lot of extra calories?

I refuse to eat broccoli, even with cheese. If I were to try it, the ratio of cheese to broccoli would be such that I might as well just eat the cheese sans broccoli. I do like raw cauliflower, but admittedly have never tried it cooked? Does the flavor stay the same?

Yeah, I'm hungry now. Time for lunch...

Just another exciting day at the library

The staff room ran out of salt for the salt shakers

The garbage can in the Youth department bathroom broke

The city came and flushed our fire hydrants -- and didn't warn us ahead of time

Two boys were out in front of a house across the street playing with their air rifles (toys, I guess) when the police thought they were real guns and no less than eight squad cars came rushing in.

I say it's time to go home now....

Friday, October 10, 2008

On TV?

Got an email at work this morning. ABC7 wants to come out and film during one of our programs. I guess the presenter has gotten a lot of press lately about the program she's presenting :super-couponing. ABC7 is actually doing a story about the presenter and they just want some "b-roll" footage to edit into the interview.

Now I would be remiss if I failed to point out one thing. The head of our Adult Services department has made it pretty clear that she thinks video game programs don't have any place in the library because they don't promote reading or any other services the library offers. Okay, but if that is the criteria for programming then why are we doing a program about "Super-Couponing?"

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Ask and ye shall find

What do you know, there is a gadget that lets me post to blogger from iGoogle. Cool.

Random topics

Michelle had her first volleyball game last night. They lost, of course, but that's okay, they played against a team of mostly boys. They were all 5th and 6th graders, though, and at this level, they were fairly evenly matched. Michelle was excited because she got quite a bit of playing time and even got one serve over the net and a couple of really good hits.

We were warned and the warning came true. The prices for our vending machines went up yesterday. Everything went up $.10 per item -- everything. So now chips are $.60, pop is $.75, and candy is $.85. So the two quarters in my pocket at lunch time netted me nothing. There was some leftover cake in the fridge that was pretty good, but I still want something salty.

Tonight will be an all new The Office! I also discovered that there is an iGoogle gadget for The Office and added that to my iGoogle page. Very cool. Then again, I already have too much stuff on my iGoogle page that keeps distracting me. I wish there was an iGoogle gadget for posting to this blog. Then I could post updates all day long.....

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

In the October Fields

The bright-robed Days sit now at feast, and sup
 From golden service heaped with fruits divine.
The waning Year drains from October's cup
 The melancholy cheer of Autumn's wine.

A ruddier tide fills now the tingling veins
 And life takes on a sturdier-hearted tone.
Care's hungering grasp the mounting soul disdains.
 And scorns to count the sorrows she hath known:
 What matters it if Summer's birds have flown,
And rustling leaves drift on the upland plains?
Though Nature's wide arms bear her precious grains
 To fragrant hidden garners of her own,
Yet what her lavish lap hath spilled, remains,
 For careful gleaning is to her unknown.
 From her full hand her ripened seeds are thrown
On springing fields late-freshened from the rains,
 And Hope's clear bugle on the hills is blown
By comely lips made moist with fruity-stains.

Shall we be found less generous to our souls
 Than are the Seasons to the patient Earth?—
Shall we yet choose to drift in mental shoals
 Where weak-winged fancies only find a birth?

Shall we be found more niggard of our store
 Than are the flame-crowned princes of the wood,
While at our heart's inhospitable door
 A brother faints for some withholden good?

The richest gifts of Nature kept unshared
Become but poverty: goods unbestowed,
 Like fruits ungathered, shrivel into blight,
Which mars the soul's new blossoming; the road
Of excellence was by some god prepared,
 So that no souls might win the glorious height
Save those unweighted by that hindering load.

Robert Burns Wilson

Sunday, October 05, 2008

I'm a Porsche 911!

You have a classic style, but you're up-to-date with the latest technology. You're ambitious, competitive, and you love to win. Performance, precision, and prestige - you're one of the elite,and you know it.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Top Chef Season 5 is coming.....

And now, a poem

The First Week in October

Once on an autumn day as I reposed
Beneath a noon-beam, pallid yet not dull,
The branch above my head dipt itself full
Of that white sunshine momently, and closed;
While, ever and anon, the ashen keys
Dropt down beside the tarnish'd hollyhocks,
The scarlet crane's-bill, and the faded stocks,—
Flung from the shuffling leafage by the breeze.
How wistfully I mark'd the year's decay,
Forecasting all the dreary wind and rain;
'Twas the last week the swallow would remain—
How jealously I watch'd his circling play!
A few brief hours, and he would dart away,
No more to turn upon himself again.

Charles Tennyson Turner

Monday, September 29, 2008

Easy to go back to work

I've been down at Navy Pier for a few days at the ILA Conference, but my boss has made it easier to go back to work today. It's "Jeans day for charity". We can wear jeans to work today if we agree to donate $5 to a charity, then we wear a button all day that says "I'm wearing jeans today to benefit a good cause."

The idea is that we'll have jeans day once a month and raise money for different charities each time. This is our first time doing this and I think the charity is diabetes. I'm not sure exactly to whom the money goes, but I know it's diabetes related. Frankly, I don't really care, I just like wearing jeans to work!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'd rather be playing Wii

I haven't played the Wii at all since Labor Day weekend. I had started re-playing through Twilight Princess but our weekends have gotten swallowed up by school and church commitments. I hadn't actually missed playing Wii until tonight.

I think what made me miss it was the ILA conference. I've been attending the ILA conference yesterday and today. I sat with my boss at one session titled "What your library director wants you to know: what to tell your library director". It was kind of a mish-mash of random thoughts from two local library directors. I think they sort of lost their focus but they did have a couple of good points.

One had to do with staff taking initiative to go to their library directors and offer to take on extra projects. Their point was that you should tell your library director (or immediate supervisor) if you are one of those people who is willing to try new things.

So I leaned over to my boss and said "I just want you to know that whenever you're ready to start doing gaming in the library I will be more than happy to head it up." Yes, I have a personal agenda to get more gaming in the library. I don't have a strong desire to work with teens, but if I were introducing games into the library I personally wouldn't start with teens.

First, I'd start a seniors only bowling league. We could meet once a month for Wii bowling and keep track of scores and have tournaments and prizes. Then, I'd have a family or intergenerational event. I'd pick some team game like tennis or Mario Kart and require a child to sign up with a parent or guardian.

I think you need the support of non-teens to really give gaming in the library some "teeth". By winning over the audiences that might be the most likely to protest, then you gain credibility. Oh, I've got it! We have a "gaming academy" where parents can come and hone their video game skills so that they can go back home and beat their kids at the games! How about that??

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Got $175 just lying around?

Then go to Common Threads and you can sample fare from the contestants on Top Chef.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Saturday afternoon I got a haircut. I know, no big deal, but I decided I wanted bangs again. For nearly all my life, I have had bangs. Then a few years ago, I decided I was really motivated to grow them out. And I did. So for the past few years I have not had bangs.

I have had mixed feelings about this. I have a birthmark on my forehead that I do not like, but apparently it is not that noticeable to other people. So I wasn't crazy about that, but it seemed like I was the only person in the world who had bangs and it was kind of fun feeling like I had an "in" hairstyle. Recently, though, I've looked back on enough pictures where I had my hair up in a ponytail, and I don't like the way it looks. So finally this weekend I had enough courage to get the bangs again.

Saturday night and Sunday were horrible because the bangs still wanted to puff up and go back to the sides. Finally, this morning they laid down again in the correct position, so they don't look so strange. I also got a lot of long layers cut in at the same time, so I feel like I actually have a hair "style" right now.

I'm sure it will be months (possibly longer) now before I go back and get another haircut. I can trim my own bangs at home and plan to just let the rest of it grow out.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My so called wine-filled life

When did I abandon beer and taking up wine drinking? Hm, maybe it was the reality of all those carbs in beer.

Last night I attended the DLS scholarship dinner and silent auction. I actually "won" one of the baskets. All I could really tell is that is was a nice big basket with two bottles of wine and four wine glasses. When I opened it up, it also had a book about wine, and a fancy corkscrew thing which we don't need since we got an even fancier wine opener.

But I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it also had a $25 gas card and a CD of the "1" album featuring all the Beatles' songs that reached #1 on the record charts. Bonus! I haven't listened to the Beatles much lately so it was great to listen to the album this morning while running errands.

Anyway, Dave was happy to get more wine and a friend who dropped by this afternoon told us that she won a wine party. Not sure what a wine party is, but it can't be bad. Tomorrow afternoon Dave and I are headed back to Starved Rock for some wine festival out there, but first, we'll be attending the youth group spaghetti dinner tonight where Dave will be serving wine. I think I'll pass on the wine tonight in favor of tomorrow....

Friday, September 19, 2008

Why am I blogging?

I really don't have time for a blog post, do I? After all, I've got my Facebook profile to monitor now. Gotta get that flair!

It's hard to believe that just a week ago I was back in EPCOT, drinking my way around Word Showcase. I feel like I still haven't gotten caught up yet.

I had intended to get a haircut and a new dress for a scholarship dinner I'm going to tonight. Well, that didn't happen. But I've got a nice dress anyway, and great shoes at least. I wish I had time to do something about my hair, though. Oh well.

I got to be part of a really cool meeting this morning. We had an architect come out and give some suggestions on ways we could rearrange different parts of the library. I was somewhat skeptical, but I really liked what she had to say. Of course, I especially liked the part about me getting a new office....

It will be interesting to see what the library board gives their approval to. I think all the changes would make a big difference.

Then I went with my boss to a local seniors luncheon. Once a month a couple of librarians go and bring a bunch of donations to give away to the seniors who come to the luncheon. (and what's the difference between lunch and luncheon anyway?) I have to say, these gals were like vultures! As soon as they came out of their lunch room they made a bee line for our tables and were just grabbing things right and left!! But they were all funny and soooo nice and very appreciative of us bringing the books to them. It felt really good to be making them happy.

Unfortunately I had to come back to work and make a staff member unhappy. She wanted me to make a change to our online calendar and I tried to talk her out of it. I got very frustrated because I just couldn't convince her that the way it was configured was correct. In the end, I refused to change it and she was extremely curt with me.

But then some of my new leadership training kicked in. I don't have to say yes. It's my call and I stand behind my decision. She can pout all she wants, but the answer is no. I briefly recounted the story to my boss as she had shared with me a frustrating encounter of her own. But we both supported each other and said that we did the right thing. I can respect that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm back!

And I am tired. Well, not too tired yet. Guess I'm still running off adrenaline.

We were in Disneyworld the past 5 days on a "surprise" trip that consisted of our family and two other families from Michelle's class. We and the W's stayed at the Wilderness Lodge and the L's stayed at the Polynesian. We spent more time with the W's but everybody met up for dinner together every night. It was great! (But I gained so much weight! Probably all the booze.)

Of course, while we were gone, there was a HUGE rainstorm that settled itself over the Chicago area. We heard there were streets closed all around our house. We had a couple of people check the house and everything was fine, just a little bit of water around the sump pump.

I do have a dear friend who lives in Munster, who, for all I know (since I forgot my phone AGAIN!) is floating down the river right now. I pray that she and her family are safe!!

I guess I'm supposed to say that while I had a good time, I'm glad to be home. I'm not all that glad. Personally, I'd rather be in Disneyworld, thought the weather was so dang HOT! I'm looking forward to going in December of 2009 when the weather will be more to my liking.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Guess where we're going.....

So my schedule from last night got a little changed. I had the most awesome phone call at 3:30 pm. I wish I could have talked longer, but I needed to leave work on time.

The volleyball game went fine. Hannah started, but didn't get to play for very long. They lost both games. We had dinner at the slowest Quizno's in existence. (Or are all Quizno's slow??)

But when I went to band practice, they sent me home. To pack. Huh? Pack? For what? Dave has been planning a surprise trip to (where else) Disneyworld! He's been working on this since March. I can't believe he kept it a secret.

Three months ago he called my boss to make sure I could get the time off work. He also arranged to get a substitute piano player for this weekend. And he arranged with the kids' teachers to get homework, etc. At least they are doing MAP testing this week so they shouldn't have too much work to make up.

So there you go! We're leaving tomorrow morning! W00t!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Just an ordinary day

6:15 am - wake up
6:20 am - close windows (it's cold!)
7:10 am - search for missing volleyball uniform for a game later today (could not locate)
7:20 am - yell at kids that the bus is outside waiting for them
7:30 am - on the road to work
8:30 am - finish major software installation
9:30 am - PRAY!
11:30 am - write press releases
1:00 pm - the door installers that I specifically told to call me to schedule installation just showed up. Grrr....
1:15 pm - lunch!
2:30 pm - call child to find out that the volleyball uniform has been found (hooray! Amazing how a lost volleyball uniform can cause you so much stres.....)
3:00 pm - write blog post and ponder the upcoming afternoon/evening schedule:
4:30 pm - leave work
5:00 pm - watch volleyball game
6:00 pm - dinner on the go with parents who drove out just to watch volleyball game
7:00 pm - my band practice
7:00 pm - PTL night - and band sign up for the kids
8:00 pm - hopefully everything will have gone off without a hitch. We'll see....

Friday, September 05, 2008


I only have random thoughts for now. I number them only for ease of commenting.

1. At the beginning of this week, we had nothing on our calendar, other than going to church for the entire weekend - nothing! I wasn't playing anywhere, Dave was not eldering, we had no committments other than we could pick what church service to attend. I was so looking forward to this nothingness. Then I got an email from a friend who I promised to play the piano for in October. The only time that I can rehearse with his band is Saturday at 11:30 am. Ugh! So that means I have 10:30 am - 2:00 pm committed. Spleesh! I really wanted to clean the house this Saturday. After cleaning the church kitchen last Saturday, I feel like I need to focus on my own house. I guess I can at least make the kids vacuum and dust.

2. My boss wore white shoes to work yesterday. I didn't point out to her that Labor Day had passed.

3. I now have a cardiologist. Last week, I went to see him to have my mitral valve prolapse evaluated. Oh, it's there all right, and I am probably at a higher risk than most people for a TIA, but there's nothing imminent to be concerned with. Next February I have to have another doppler echocardiogram and a stress echo. That's the test where you have to run on a treadmill and they monitor your heart. I told the doctor that I don't run unless something is chasing me.

4. I've had a busy couple of days updating software at work. There is an update for the software we use to connect to our online catalog. Technically, I'm not supposed to start loading the update until next Tuesday, but it's available now and I have the time now so I started anyway. So far, I don't think the universe has collapsed. I actually only have 7 computers left to update. Go me!

5. Our waterbed (yes, we have a waterbed) has apparently sprung a leak. Should I be concerned about this? I haven't decided. We've had other waterbed mattresses leak and all you have to do is find the leak and patch it. Shouldn't be a big deal.

6. I forgot my cell phone at home this morning. It feels very strange not to have it here at work.

7. I have two reminders that keep popping up on my screen here at work. I should probably quit posting and take care of the two items.

8. Have you ever tried to get 30 people from all over the state to come to a consensus about something via email? It just doesn't work.

9. Last night I ditched my family -- again. I went over to help someone from church get ready to move. Her husband works long and odd hours and they have a three year old and a three month old. I mostly held the baby and read books to the three year old. I packed a few boxes, after the kids went to bed, but I feel like I didn't help that much, although she assured me that I was a great help. That's good.

10. Hannah's first volleyball game is next week. I'm really proud of the progress she's made. I don't really care if they win or not, but I hope that the teams are fairly evenly matched. We have a button-making machine at work and I want to make buttons with all the girls on the team on them for their parents.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Pamper yourself

Today Not Martha was raving about items from Product Body. I have to admit, they look super tempting. And Christmas is only 112 days away....

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

I know I have about a hundred different little work projects nagging at me right now, but if I don't stop to take the time to blog, I'll just go a little crazy.

Last Friday night, I left my family again and went to a scrapbooking crop. I had my pictures from our June Disneyworld trip that I wanted to get scrapped and into the book. I need to devote some scrapbooking time to other events in our life, not just Disneyworld. I started to print off some photos from Hannah's birthday but then the printer ran out of ink and I didn't have a backup cartridge. People keep telling me I should have the cartridges refilled instead of buying a new one, but I'm still skeptical. However, I'm willing to give it a try this time around.

Saturday morning, my women's small group tackled the church kitchen. We basically did a "Clean Sweep". We pulled everything out of all the cupboards and the pantry, cleaned everything, pitched 6 garbage bags worth of junk and filled up another couple of bags of "garage sale" stuff, then put the kitchen back together. Five of us gals worked from 8 am to noon and we were exhausted afterwards. But the result is just great! We have a CLEAN kitchen at church and we cleared out enough stuff to really make it usable for cooking again.

My daughter and two of her friends tried to arrange a sleepover for Saturday night, but with all the church events we had going on it started to turn into the most complicated sleepover ever. I finally called the whole thing off and told the girls it just wasn't happening. Each girl had at least one church commmittment either Saturday night or Sunday morning -- or both! Of course, the one girls' mom pointed out "you know they're going to keep asking until we make this sleepover happen....." Yeah, I know that.

Sunday we went to the craft show at Septemberfest in Schaumburg. We didn't stay too long -- it was hot! I got sunburned. Ugh. Sunday night the parentals came to town and Monday, they wanted to go to Septemberfest. So we went early Monday morning before it got hot. This time we actually ate there. I love Septemberfest. They have good food.

In between I think I spent the rest of my weekend playing The Legend of Zelda : Twilight Princess. I had forgotten just how much I love that game.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


I really do love the Unclutter blog. Well, I don't like when they have a "a year ago on this blog..." post, but they do have good advice on simplifying and organizing your life so that you can spend less time dealing with "stuff" and more time enjoying life.

The had a nice post today. A list of 10 tips to beat clutter in less than five minutes. I haven't read the comments yet, but I will comment on tip number 3:

Follow the “one-minute rule” – push yourself to do any chore that takes less than one minute.

I had read on another business blog that you will get more accomplished at work if you stop procrastinating any task that takes three minutes or less to complete. Meaning, if it's only going to take three minutes to do a task, don't put it off, do it right away. I've worked hard over the past few weeks to do this as much as I can and it's true: I've gotten much more accomplished in my day because of it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The week that was

It's been almost a week now since I posted anything new.

The kids went back to school on August 21. So far, so good. There's a new girl in Hannah's class who I think has become one of Hannah's friends. That's good. She could use a good friend who is also in her class. Her best friend is a year behind her. Not sure what those girls are going to do next year when Hannah heads off to high school.

Dave's sister and family came to town over the weekend. Everyone except Michelle and I went to the Michael W. Smith concert on Sunday night out in Rockford. Michelle didn't want to go and I didn't want to attend any type of "mass" event where there wasn't reserved seating. I've decided that being 40 means you have the right to refuse to attend any event where seating is "general admission." Who wants to arrive three hours early for a concert to get a good seat? Not me. I refuse to do it.

Yesterday was perhaps one of the most interesting days at work so far. We are having our 30 year old HVAC system updated. The company had to hire a helicopter to remove the old unit from the roof and place the new one on the roof. So the library was closed until noon while the work was being done. It was awesome.

We all got there really early to get assigned our "crowd control" spots to keep gawkers from getting too close. I was slightly disappointed that I was assigned to be across the creek from the library, in the park by the footpath, but I still had a pretty good view when the helicopter came up over the trees. I was pretty far away, but really felt the wind from the helicopter. A lot of people took pictures, but I don't actually have any pictures otherwise I'd post one here.

The frustrating thing since then has been the staff griping about the temperature of the building. We had temporary cooling units, but they didn't get them actually up and running until late Tuesday afternoon. I about slapped somebody when I was asked if there was anything I could do about how "hot" it was in the library about 2:00 in the afternoon. Um, hello? They are in the process of hooking up the temporary cooling units right now. So just suck it up. I think you can handle it being 78 degrees in the building. Babies.

Then today the installers had to use a blowtorch and do some soldering or something. All I know is that it smelled like smoke and indeed, the crew chief did tell me that they had created some smoke, and that it was harmless, but annoying. The had turned off the blowers and were ready to turn them on, and they thought maybe it would trigger the smoke detectors. (I wouldn't be so concerned, but my boss is on vacation so I'm the one in charge now! *gulp*)

Anyway, the smoke alarm did not go off, but it still didn't smell really great. It sort of smelled like your furnace when you first turn it on in the fall. One staff member was quick to let me know that "people are leaving because of the smell." And? Your point is? You think I wouldn't leave for the day if I could? Again, suck it up. It got better after an hour or so. Tomorrow the window washers are coming so then the library will smell like window washing fluid.

Oh crap, we've got the cooling units in front of the huge set of bay windows. Why didn't I reschedule? D'oh! Well, I guess they won't get the outside bay windows this time around.....

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Have you smiled today?

Why smile?

There has actually been a large body of work done on why smiling matters. Indeed, look on the Internet and you will find that it is said that a genuine smile…

  • Makes us more attractive.
  • Helps us to change our mood.
  • Provides us a greater attention/notice from others around us.
  • Boosts our immune system and overall health.
  • Utilizes as many as 16 facial/neck muscles. But it takes 43 to frown.
  • Lowers the blood pressure.
  • Helps make people more successful in the long run.
  • Helps us stay more positive.
  • Releases endorphins that act as natural pain killers.
  • Boosts levels of Serotonin which regulates our moods, sleep, sexuality and appetite.
  • Acts as a natural pain killer.
  • Makes us look younger
  • Helps pave the way toward a better future.
  • Releases a warmer vocal tone.
  • Becomes contagious with others.
  • Relieves our stress.
  • Makes others more comfortable in our presence.
  • Triggers certain hormones, lowering heart rates, and steadying breathing.
  • Helps support our immune systems and fight illness.
  • Helps us to live longer.
  • Provides a stimulation to others as strong as eating 2,000 chocolate bars.
  • Becomes contagious.
  • Offers greater leniency to those facing a judge.
  • Eases the tension in an embarrassing moment.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Eat, Pray, Love

I've been listening to Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert on CD. This book seems to have gotten a lot of attention lately and a fellow librarian recommended it on CD.

It is read by the author, something about which I have mixed feelings. The narrative tone is so conversational that I think there are some sentences only the author can pull off with the right tone. On the other hand, she does have a tendency to drop the "ng" off words that end in "ing". She says "walkin" and "talkin", yet she consistently says "eating" with the clear "ing" at the end. So I can't decided if I wish a real book reader had done the recording or not.

I also haven't decided whether or not I even like the book. At times, I can completely identify with the author and at other times I think she's completely off her rocker.

In the end, listening to the book makes me desperately want to take a road trip with my three best friends from college (you know who you are). I don't even care where we go; I just want the four of us to be forced to spend a lot of time together, free from outside interruptions and schedules. That would be great.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

An evening wasted

I know it's midnight and I should be going to bed, but I'm too wound up. I feel like I had no evening during which to relax.

I battled traffic home, ate a mini bagel, drove Hannah's friend Jessi home, battled traffic up to church, practiced flute for an hour, had band practice for an hour, picked up Hannah, and spent an hour at Kohl's before finally coming home for good.

At least we got some bargains at Kohl's. And the music rehearsals went well. And Dave had brought me a Gordita from Taco Bell. But then Michelle wanted to make cookies. Everyone seemed to think that was a GREAT idea, if Michelle and I made cookies. So we made chocolate chippers, and tried to catch glimpses of the Olympics in between batches.

So here it is. Midnight and everyone else has finally gone to bed. Except me.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It is Tuesday, right?

Someone put their library card into the floppy disc drive on a public PC.

I was just asked by a library patron whether or not it was considered socially appropriate to ask an African-American author if she wanted the children in the illustrations to be black or white.

Sometimes Wikipedia just can't help you.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Found at the copier

A staff member left a post-it note at the photocopier that reads:

"I'll scout around for flannel racoons, otherwise I'll make some."

Only in a library....

Monday, August 04, 2008

A weekend of food and photographs

This weekend's activities consisted primarily of two things: 1) preparing photographs for scrapbooking and 2) eating.

Going completely digital with our photographs used to cripple me from a scrapbooking standpoint. It used to be that you took your film to the store and you got what photos were on that roll, either 31/2x5 or 4x6 and you had to base your scrapbooking on what you had in front of you. If you wanted a big picture, you had to either special order it or, more recently, you could make a color copy. But that was pretty much it. You had to design your page around whatever photos you had in front of you.

But with digital photography, you get to pick out exactly which photos you want and the size and shape that you want them and you can enhance them in pretty much any way you want. Want to make a bold impression, print everything in black and white or sepia! It used to be that this total and complete freedom to do whatever I wanted overwhelmed me. I had too much under my control and felt pressured (from myself only, of course) to push my scrapbooking efforts to higher and higher levels of creativity.

Thank heaven for the Cherish program from Close to my Heart. Cherish is a book that gives you sample scrapbook layouts, including instructions on what size of photos to use, how much paper you will need and a complete recipe for putting it all together. Using this resource has gotten me excited about scrapbooking again. I just use my HP printing software to identify a group of photos and then I look in the book to find a layout that fits the photos, and I print out the photos in exactly the size and shape I want, so I don't waste precious ink or paper.

So all the photos from my last two Disney trips are printed and ready to go!

In between my photo printing, we went to the Taste of Roselle. It's not a really great event, but it's close to home and it's not a hassle to get in and out of. Parking is free and close by as well. There is one shop that has wine tasting and there are a couple of caterers who have tents with pretty good food. Usually we go to see the band Synod, but they weren't playing this year. At least the weather was nice enough that you didn't mind sitting outside next to a major train crossing and having festival type food. I'm much more looking forward to Septemberfest.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

At the risk of turning this blog into a food related one, I found this article to be of interest. You want to help cut down on fossil fuel consumption? Eat less. (Or maybe just eat more locally grown produce...)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Much ado about life

Sorry for the lack of postings. It's been a busy and strange few days. Last Wednesday we shipped the kids off to Indiana with their cousins. They made the trek down to Brownstown for the Jackson County Fair. While they were gone, Dave and I headed off to Utica and spent a couple of days bumming around Starved Rock and the surrounding area. Did you know that in the tiny little town of Utica there are four different places you can do wine tasting? Oh yes, we tried them all.

Now, I'm not one for hiking or spending time "enjoying nature" unless it's a sanitized Disney kind of nature experience, but I actually enjoyed hiking the trails at Starved Rock. The scenery isn't hugely spectacular, being in Illinois, but it was a pleasant day and the trails are not too strenuous. i guess it's good to "get away" once in a while and just relax.

What was stressful was returning home and realizing that I hadn't sent out birthday cards to my grandmother or my mother-in-law. I'm such a slouch about sending out birthday cards.

Let's see, then my parents came to town for a couple of days. This was the first really big trip for my Dad since his surgery and it was a little rough on him. Not horrible, but he was more tired than when they were at home, which made my Mother stressed, which made me stressed.

I went home early from work sick on Monday. I just felt miserable. Tuesday was a horrible day at work due to us making some big Internet changes that didn't go as smoothly as planned. But today was a good day at work, partly because I spent most of my day out of the building. I met with other area librarians who do marketing while some of what we talked about was old hat for me, I did come away with a renewed energy -- plus, I am going to lead an experiment in creativity at our next meeting. So I'm really looking forward to that.

Tonight I finished reading Weird ideas that work by Robert Sutton. This book lists things that companies can do to foster creativity and innovation. I'm anxious to try to implement some of the ideas, though I don't know how much I will really be able to do it. But this is a really great book and I think the ideas can apply to businesses of all kinds, not just big corporate business.

After posting this, I really should be off to bed, but I'll probably continue to sort though photos from our Disney trip in June, trying to decide which ones I want to print out for the scrapbook. I'm two Disney trips behind in my scrapbooking!! I've got to get going....

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bunco night

Last Friday night it was my turn to host Bunco night. It was just great! We had 14 people, so adding in Michelle, we had four tables! It was crazy, but a lot of fun.

I wanted to serve something a little different for snacks, so Thursday night I whipped up four different batches of herbed butter. I bought some traditional white French bread and a loaf of "birdseed" (whole grain) type bread and cut up the pieces to about cracker size and served them with the butters.

This is the butter with chives. (What was left of it Saturday morning.) Simply soften a stick of butter and mix in about 1/4 cup of fresh chopped chives. I used unsalted butter, but if I were to do this again, I would use salted butter.

Saturday morning I fried myself an egg in the leftover butter -- yummy!!

This one is parsley butter. I know, I know, it doesn't sound all that good, but I ended up really liking this one a lot.

Again, start with a softened stick of butter and add in about 1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley. I used the "flat" parsley and also put in a splash of lemon juice. Mmmmm.

If I did this one again, I'd use real lemon zest. But I don't usually have lemons on hand, just the lemon juice stuff.

This one is a little blurry, but it's just dill. Acutally, it's dill with a little bit of garlic. Again, that might sound weird, but it's a lot of dill and just a little bit of garlic.

Again -- de-lish!!

I wasn't planning on making four different butters, but I figured, what the heck, I've got four sticks of butter. So what else did I have that I could mix in? Garlic? Check. Parmesan cheese? Check. Salt and pepper? Check.

That's it! You really can't add too much garlic or cheese, in my opinion.

I had bought the little ramekins back in May when Hannah had a cooking class in school. She used them to make creme brulee for her "final project". I didn't want to buy them, but they did come in handy. The butter was a big hit! People were impressed that I "made" the butter.

So if you're going to a dinner party, or just want to give your baked potato an inferiority complex, I highly recommend making some herbed butter. So easy and so delicious! If you make some, let me know what you used!