Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Some good reads

Exercising every day and reading while I'm on my dumb bike is doing wonders - for my reading anyway. I've read a few good books in the last few weeks that I wanted to share with you. Check them out if you have time.

Book One: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

This book was great. I actually got lost in it - meaning that I completely lost track of time or where I was or what I was planning on doing while reading it. That hasn't happened for a long time. Ms. Gilbert writes about a year in her life when she tried to find herself - after a messy divorce and an unhealthy relationship. She is trying to find God, balance, inner peace, and self-acceptance...things I think that we all want for our lives and the lives of our loved ones most of the time. She writes about spending 4 months eating her way through Italy and finding the calm that she had long ago lost. I've been to Italy. I think that Italy can do that for a person. She then goes to India and spends 4 months meditating in an Ashram outside of Mumbai. I know that I don't have the personal dedication to do such a thing, but how would it be to dedicate that much of your life to searching for your soul, your God (whomever he or she may be), and yourself. Missionaries from churches all over the world do this all the time, but us regular folks who don't probably should take the time to find ourselves. She then spends 4 months in Bali - learning from a Balinese medicine man, relaxing, meditating, and letting herself fall in love.

I think that once we do find that inner peace - even if we don't find it every day or even if we lose it for years at a time - that life is so much better when we find it again. The book really got me to thinking about my own life - those three simple words "eat, pray, love". I do those things - I'm good at those things (some more than others) and it's always amazing to me that when I really let myself go, and give of myself to my family and to others, and to God - that everything falls into place.

Book Two: Brothers In Arms: The Epic Story of the 761St Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anthony Walton

I haven't finished this one yet, but I'm close and boy is it good. A week or so ago I told my dad that I needed a good WW II book to read and he gave me this one. It is about the only African-American Tank Battalion to see combat during WW II. This group of men was sent to the European Theater to fight under General Patton during the end of WW II as the Allied Forces were marching into Germany. The stories of valor, dedication, brotherly love and most of all pride for country in spite of huge obstacles leaves me without words.

I am always amazed at the pride and dedication and ability to overlook injustice by people who deserve to be treated equally and fairly but aren't. The group of men that made up the 761st tank battalion were some of the most decorated men of WW II - in spite of it all - the hatred, racism and inequality.

This is a very moving and inspiring true story.

Book Three: Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Upon the recommendation of my 13 year old brother, I borrowed this book. It is pretty funny. I tried to read some parts out loud to Ross but I was laughing to hard to get any of the words out. The book follows an illustrated diary format and it only takes an hour or so to read the whole thing - trust me - you want to make the time.

If you want to think back to 7th grade, with illustrations, then this is your book. If you aren't sure which reading group you belong in ("Einstein as a Child" or "Bink says Boo") then you definitely need to read this book.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A gift from him

anniversary gift, originally uploaded by bookemdano1978.

We mutually agreed to not exchange gifts for our 5th wedding anniversary. I told him that I didn't need or want anything. He got me a gift anyway.

I like it.

I feel guilty.

He left the price tag on it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

15 Months

Well, kid...your 15 month post comes on the tails of a really bad night. Not only were you up screaming from 11 pm-2:30 am, but when your parental units finally resolved to just let you cry it out YOU managed to climb out of your crib and come looking for us. Yeah. Such a sweet skill to have mastered in the middle of the night! I am hoping that the screwed up sleep patterns is because of the two new teeth (13 and 14) that are trying desperately to poke through. If it isn't the teeth, and you are just trying to be annoying? You're in trouble mister.

The last four weeks have been eventful for you, as always. There is never any way for me to write or even remember all your new sweet skills, but at least I'll give it a try.
saying the prayer

  • You have figured out how to fold your arms and bow your head for a prayer - even though we don't say too many around our house these days.
  • To your mom and dad's dismay, you like bananas. Grandma and Grandpa Howden introduced you to the yucky, slimy fruit and in true monkey fashion, you'll eat two in secession. Yesterday morning you nearly jumped out of your high chair begging for a banana.
  • You have become a wonderful mimic - sounds, actions, feats of strength - you name it, and you'll do your best to copy it to a tee. You can now do a cow and a horse sound and sometimes a monkey if you are feeling fancy. You do this funny blinking thing and have started rolling your eyes at me. Oh, how I love that one.
    ha, ha
  • I've discovered, much to my dismay, that you share your dad's sense of humor. On Sunday afternoon past, the two of you were laughing yourselves to tears. Why? Because your dad was throwing goldfish crackers in the air and catching them in his mouth. How this is hilarious I'm not quite sure but it is.
  • Your favorite place in the world is to be outside. There, you can wave at the kids on their way home from school, help me plant flowers with your own shovel and eat as much dirt as you want. Oh, how you love the dirt.
  • I desperately want you to start talking, but you aren't interested. The only word your good at is "me". It's "me, me, me" all day long. You have said dog, and tigger, and have mom, dad, mama (that's grandma), mastered. Grandma Petersen says that you are waiting until you can speak in perfect complete sentences, she's probably right. Regardless, we work on our words daily. Particularly these: up, down, help, read, please, no, open, close. Life would be so much easier if you got these few down, but it's okay...I'm sure that once you start talking, you'll never stop.
  • You have decided that all cabinets and drawers in the house are your domain. This is a bit frustrating for me, but I'm trying to go with the flow. Speaking of flow, your fascination with water, particularly the water in the toilet is a little disgusting. So far though, only finger puppets and tooth brushes have found their way into the dirty bowl.
    what happens at grandma's stays at grandma's
  • You think that grandparents and any other relative for that matter are much more fun and entertaining than your dumb old mom and dad. But, it is such a relief to me that you never cry when we leave you places - only when you have to come home.

Oh, Kiddo - life with you is great. I am more tired than I ever thought possible at the end of every day, but you are so much fun to play with, learn and grow up with. There are two things you are doing this days that I absolutely love. First, because of our communication barrier, you have taken to guiding me where you need me to be. Like this morning, you knocked a picture off of the book shelf while I was blow drying my hair. You came to the bathroom, grabbed my had and led me right to the problem. We fixed it. And, when I'm sitting on the floor with you, you will come up behind me and throw your arms around my shoulders and squeeze as hard as you can, and then pat me on the back. I think that means you love me? Well, I love you, too.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Are you out to get me?

There was an interesting article in the Deserted News a few weeks ago titled, Mom blogs — Does posting photos online jeopardize your family? I read it over the weekend (yes, a bit behind) and it's got me to thinking...
I suppose that I am a "mommy blogger" because I am a mom and I blog. I've been blogging since September of 2005 and I don't see myself stopping anytime soon. Not only is it a great outlet for me, it's a little personal sienfeldian journal and it's a fun way to keep in touch with people. I have so many friends and family members on the blog bandwagon these days that it's almost like we talk to each other every day even though it's sometimes months between family get togethers or years between phone calls.
The jist of the article was a bit negative - talking about the danger of writing about your family and posting pictures of your kids on the web.

Orem-based photographer **(I don't want to advertise for her so you can read the article for names and websites) started blogging about a year ago and posts information about photography, design and decorating tips online. Her blog, **, actually gets more hits in a day than her photography Web site, she said. And it's cheaper to operate.
"Professionally, it's to my advantage to keep it up," ** said. "It's a creative outlet for me."
But she worries about the general safety of family blogs that are open to public searches. ** says her site does not have a lot of personal information, and the only way a person could find her is to call a business number and sign up for a photography class she offers. Hill does not have children, and there are no pictures of her home on her blog.
"If you are going to have a personal blog of kids and and house, I would definitely do an invite-only blog," **said. "I think that can be dangerous, and I'm surprised how many have public blogs like that."
I am not going to make my blog private. I do not fear the world or the Internet. I think that if someone is out to get me, they are going to get me, regardless of whether or not I put a picture of my kid eating his boogers online. For most of us, aren't we blogging to be seen? I want people to look at my pictures and read my thoughts. Duh - that's why I do this? it wouldn't be any fun if everyone who wanted to read my blog had to have a secret pass code to do it. The thought that someone will just happen across my thoughts and LOVE (or hate) what I have to say is a bit exciting. If I ever got to the point where I wanted to put really personal stuff on my blog I wouldn't do it - if the info is private enough to make my blog private - then why blog it?
A person quoted in the article several times is someone whose blog I frequent and she's on my blog roll (Oh Happy Day). She said this and I have to agree:
For **, security isn't a worry. Although her site is primarily focused on design tips and trends, she just recently posted a picture of her son, **, from the day he turned 3 months old. Comments linked to the posting were from women who wrote about how cute ** son was and also shared stories about their own children.
"It's more of an issue to get people to read blogs than to stop bad people from reading them," ** said. "A lot of people do those family blogs, and I could see how they could be more concerned, but I don't think there are that many people out to get people."
Maybe I'm too naive, but I have to agree. In 2.5 years, I've had around 22,000 hits on my blog, at least half of which are my hits. Perhaps too much faith in the general public rests in my heart, but I just think that most folks are out for good, not bad. Never, not yet anyway, have I even encountered anything negative in comments, except when I wrote about the stupid DaVinci Code Movie. That was a minor riot in my blogging world, but nothing else.
So, I just wanted to share. This has been on my mind since I read the article on Saturday and I wanted to share my thoughts - in public.
This whole mommy blogging phase (and some daddy's, too) we're seeing on the web right now is cool - dare I say revolutionary - for me at least. What an amazing way to get voices heard, share ideas, thoughts, loves, hates, and make the world a bit easier to live in.
What do you think?

Monday, April 21, 2008

The death of a dear friend

I remember vividly when I was 12 or 13 (not the age, but the event), my grandma taking me to the mall and walking into a store that was to forever change my life. It was, The Gap. She bought me a denim jacket for my birthday (I think) and I was forever sold on the name brand, the style, the groovy feeling I had wearing clothes from what I thought was the hippest store around.

The Gap stuck with me through junior high and high school. I remember heading to the mall and just wandering through the racks, always happy to find something on sale that my mom would buy me and I could wear to school the next day. My friend Blake was also a Gap aficionado in high school and there were many occasions where the two of us would show up at school on the same day wearing the same shirt. Yes, in those days I shopped in the Men's department even more than I do now.

Through college, the Gap was my staple. If I needed a pair of khakis or jeans - could count on them. Need a new t-shirt - you betcha, they had one for me in as many colors as my brain could fathom.

The Gap had always been old reliable - Mr. Dependable - the go to in a crunch. I still reguarly wear a suit jacket and skirt that I got at the Gap at least 10 years ago.

Well, the Gap is now dead to me.

I realize that I'm old - gasp! 30 in a month so maybe I'm a bit tainted. Regardless of my age, I still need clothes because no one wants me running around in just my skivvies or my stretchy pants every ding dong day. I've had a hankerin' for some new skirts as of late so I ventured to my dear friends website and purchased two skirts that appeared to be adorable and screaming my name and an equally cute t-shirt.

My items arrived last week. As soon as I got them out of the mailbox, the Monkey and I rushed upstairs to try on the new items. Gasp! E gads! Crap! Things didn't go well. The skirts were too short, too wide, and too big. If I had saddlebags, they would have been right at home hiding underneath these skirts - with pockets. Who puts pockets in elastic waistband skirts? I was hoping the shirt would be my saving grace, that all was not lost...it was lost. Too tight in the sleeves and I could have hid myself and two babies into the body of the thing.

After two days of the yucky clothes sitting on my dresser I tried them on for Ross - I needed more humiliation I suppose. He agreed that the clothes must go back. I tired to return them but it seems that EVERY SINGLE GAP in the entire state is closing. Maybe it's because their clothes suck?

We finally got them returned and the crowd at the Gap was tell-tale of my woes. It seems that I have gotten older, fatter, and much less hip but the Gap has failed to get older and more mature with me. I had hoped we would be friends forever and ever. I was wrong. While the Gap grasps at straws, screaming at the American Abercrombie generation to bring their money, I sit with my money, and my desire for quality clothes that fit - at home. With no skirts and a bit of a bruised ego.

I guess it's time to shop for grandma pants at Lands End and skirts at Coldwater Creek. I hope they welcome me with open arms.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Terms of Endearment

Earlier this week, late in the evening:

Me: I am so done.
Him: Sorry. Me too - tired of this presentation. Talking to Aus. on the phone.
Me: Poo. U suck, BTW :)
Him: Yes. Still here. Leaving in 5
Me: Still suck.

Today is our 5 year wedding anniversary. Ross and I have been told that we fight a lot - that we even fight as much as my grandparents who have been married 57 years.

That's cool. Maybe we can be married 57 years, too.

As I woke up this morning with Elliott's foot in my face because you brought him into our room at 4:30 this morning as he was having a cow in his room, I couldn't help but think that life is pretty good. Especially because today, the sun is out - just like the day we got married.

My dumpr

Happy Anniversary, Ross. I love you!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Baby Friday: Nest Baby

Elliott was a good helper this week. He mopped the floor and didn't throw too many items out of their places ths week. Yeah.
mopping the floor

Most importantly, we had a week of good naps. After some trials on Monday at nap time I had the brilliant idea to put him down on my bed. I made him a nest. He slept in the nest for almost three hours. Awesome!

the nest

Elliott has had a nap in his nest every single day this week and he's slept a minimum of two hours all five days.

Can you say heaven on earth?

I can.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

the first victims of the toilet

In the last few weeks the monkey has become fascinated and quite the little helper when all things regarding the lavatory are concerned.

We've been keeping the lids down and the doors closed as much as possible but in the last few days, Elliott has mastered opening both.

Just a few minutes ago, some of our beloved IKEA finger puppets went for a swim. They were in a baggy, to keep them safe but still.

At least it wasn't my wedding ring, or a watch, or a pen, or a whole roll of tp down the chute.

I'm sure that's coming.

A bit of Isolation

there aren't any e-mails to read or write
or phone calls to take or make
or websites worth reading
or babies awake, waiting to be played with
or exercise bikes to ride (already did my time today)
or books to read
or any good distractions

Those times are a little bit sad.

I guess I really have to do some work.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I love...

haven't done one of these in a while and it's time.

I love...junkfood (nutella on toast, cheetos, cookie dough ice cream to be specific)

I love...my new workspace (Good thing we don't eat dinner at the kitchen table)
my new workspace

I love...warm days and warm wind, even if they only happen ocassionally.

I love...little boys who are being tough through their 13th tooth and give me unsolicited hugs as we're walking down the sidewalk as if just to say, "Thank you mama for letting me be outside today!"

I love...spring flowers that fight through the cold every single day and want spring to come just as bad as me

I love...this website

I love...my new porch lights. They make me feel happy and like I live in a beach house, even though I don't.
porch lights

Friday, April 11, 2008

Baby Friday: Attack of the booger pickers

self-portrait, originally uploaded by bookemdano1978.

Ross is proficient and I'm not too bad myself. Elliott has learned from the best.

Yesterday, we were on our way to get...gasp! Fast Food for dinner after a very long day and I was talking to Haley on the phone. At the beginning of our conversation, Elliott was noisy. Towards the end of our conversation Haley said, "What is he doing now...he's so quiet". I turned and replied, "Oh no, he's picking his nose!"

Yuck baby, just yuck. Remember that Shell Silverstien poem about the snail that lives up your nose and will eat your finger, or something like that? Well, it ate Elliott's finger up to his first knuckle last night.

The only way I got him to stop? French Fries - in his mouth, not up his nose.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

so, this is sort of cool

2008-04-09_1925, originally uploaded by bookemdano1978.

There is an article in THE journal right now about the organization I work for and something we do every Thursday called "The Facutly Lounge." It's a cool, 30 minute LIVE training one of us does every week on something new and nifty in technology or a cool skill that teachers just won't be able to live without.

The article is nice, but I was more excited about the screen shot in the article. It's an image from one of my Faculty Lounge sessions where I talked about photo restoration using Photoshop Elements. How cool is that?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Happy Birthday Haley


H is for Haley
A is for always putting the CD in the wrong case
L is for loving music so much that she wants to analyze every song after the concert
E is for enlightened, granola, tree hugging, nature conservancy joining, Birkenstock wearing, habitat for humanity donating, always taking care of everyone sister.
Y is for youth. It's slipping away, one year at a time.

Yes, sister of mine, for a little over a month, we are only one year apart in age. I am so glad that you are my sister, in spite of the clawing and mercy fights of our youth. Remember that one time you had a bloody nose and I made you lie down and you gagged on the blood and threw up blood in the toilet and mom and dad weren't home so I had to call grandma because it was disgusting? Yeah, me too.

Happy Birthday!

with haley

Monday, April 07, 2008

Dennis the Menace

How does Murphy's Law for toddlers go? When the kid discovers that he can be destructive, he goes for it all in the same day? First of all, look at that face. Not my face, Elliott's. If that isn't the look of a cherubic tornado, I don't know what is.

that loo

Maybe it was because of the weather(rain, snow, sun, snow, rain, blizzard, sunshine), or the goofy toofy that's working it's way through, or because he discovered emotions and feelings in the last few days, but today was a bit trying. For lack of any other possible explanation, today was a bi-polar day - highs and lows to challenge the strongest medication - and the moderately patient mum.

Want evidence? Here you go.
1. In a matter of seconds, from the time it took to walk from the hamper to the washing machine, Elliott had the bathroom door open and toilet paper pulled from the roll all the way around the corner and almost to his room. I guess I should be impressed he didn't tear it off?
I think that you have some stuck to your shoe
2. Elliott has a thing for the straw drawer and lucky for us, dad filled it up. Sweet. Now all the straws after being picked up 3 times today are covered in dust and whatever else lives on the kitchen floor.
3. We went outside to get the mail. It started SNOWING on us. Elliott wouldn't turn around and walk home. I was freezing. I finally picked him up and drug him kicking and screaming. After setting him down hoping the screaming would stop, he dropped to his knees and crawled home - yelling at me. Ripped his pants up good, too.

4. Threw everything he could get his hands on into the dryer when I wasn't looking and when I was.

5. Blew his nose into: my pants, his shirt, the towels, the shower curtain, his socks, my clean sheets, his hand.

6. At the grocery store turned all the way around in the little seat and starting throwing our items around the cart and out of the cart. I told him to stop as nicely as a mom in public tells her child to stop doing something and...he screamed at me...loudly!

7. Fell into the coffee table and barely escaped gouging his eye out on the corner.

8. Parked his riding Tonka truck on his foot.

9. Got stuck between the bed and my nightstand. Screamed!

10. Pooped twice and almost got to the contents in his diaper before I had a chance to whisk it away. While getting cleaned up, ate baby powder.

Arg! What a day. Welcome to the parent - hood, right?
At least today, he didn't bite me.

Anyone want to be our Mr. Wilson?

Sunday, April 06, 2008


This is the month of my wedding anniversary. I've been married a dozen or so days away from 5 years. To commemorate, yesterday I decided to throw away all the wedding cards we received on that fateful day - years ago. Ross told me that I couldn't throw them away unless I went through ALL OF THEM to see if any money was left.

I found a $20 and a check for $5 from a woman in Arizona whom Ross thinks has since passed.

We decided not to cash the check.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Across the Universe

In our home there is a great dividing line. Ross believes that you can only be a Rolling Stones fan ("I can't help it that they take up, like, 20% of my ipod library") or a Beatles fan - you cannot be both. I wholeheartedly agree and I choose the latter, not the former. There is one Stones song that I like - Moonlight Mile - that's it. As a group of men well into their geriatric years, I can't say that they do anything for me except gross me out. Keith Richards looks like the walking dead and come on, the guy tried to snort his own father's ashes. Where's the glory in that?

Anyway, I'm a Beatles fan. Yes, I thought Paul was the cutest but I have to say that my favorite Beatles songs are some of the song's George wrote. Ross says that the Beatles are more popular than the Stones, at least in memory, because they aren't a band anymore and because two of them are dead - and the Stone Age is still touring. I disagree again. I think that the Beatles will forever be more popular because their music is more timely, they were a better band, and unlike Mickey and the boys still feeding their drug habits, women habits, and tight jean habits, the Beatles knew when to quit- even if it wasn't a pretty end.

With all that being said, Ross, Elliott and I watched Across the Universe this week. I really liked it. So much in fact that I went out and bought the soundtrack and I can't tell you the last time I did that. It's awesome. It's amazing for me to see such a creative and heart-felt interpretation of songs I've grown up singing along to. The story was a bit predictable but good, the songs fit in beautifully and above all, I found the interpretation of Beatles music for this film fascinating. It's brought whole new meaning to songs I've never paid that much attention to and, at the same time turned on my conspiratorial brain a bit.

Most of us know that the Beatles put hidden meanings, which most of the public at the time thought were about drugs, into a lot of their songs. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was about LSD, Hey Jude about Heroin, the cover of Abby Road about the death of Paul McCartney. Now, I was totally into the Paul McCartney death story when I was a kid and remember listening to it on some tapes my dad had. It blew my mind....but I digress. After watching the movie (If only I'd watched it with my sister then we could really dissect it) it was almost like those songs were meant to have the meanings that the movie portrayed. "I want you" was maybe really about (or secretly about) an overpowering government/military establishment trying to stick it to the common man, and "Hey Jude" was maybe really a letter to a dear friend about not giving up and fighting for the girl, and "All my lovin'" was maybe really about - well, all my lovin'. Okay, not too much interpretation there.

Anywhoo - I really liked the movie and thought it was cool. Very Moulin Rouge in it's film effects, but very good none-the-less. It's kind of cool to see a band, who's songs really could be a soundtrack for a lot of our lives, brought to life in a movie.

And, the kid who plays Jude is very cute. Where'd they find him?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Baby Friday - What a difference a year makes

The picture speaks for itself, but its pretty obvious that the little monkey has done a bit of growing in the last year.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Because it's my blog

hello friends. I haven't posted in a while. Not much to say. I just wanted to share a few things with you, because I can.

First, a month or so ago, I got some literature from an organization called the "nature conservancy" in the mail. heard of them? Yeah, me, too.
The theme of the literature was solicitation with the animal of choice being an or-an-gu-tan. We like monkeys and apes in our house so I was intrigued. For just $15 I would get a membership and a free gift. Yes a free, $15 dollar gift. The gift was a plush or-an-gu-tan and I was sold. You see, my monkey loves monkeys (and apes) so I was psyched.

Well a few weeks ago I got my official membership gear but no plush FREE gift. I was bummed - it appeared that a sucker I was.

Last Saturday though, as I ventured to get the mail, what to my surprise but a gift from the organization itself - in a tube. It was my orange ape. It looks nothing like an ape. Its so hideously non-ape like in its features and characteristics that I dare not share an image of it with you. Shouldn't an organization that tries to protect wildlife at least offer a realistic impression of that wildlife in it's free gifts? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Second, I have an addiction. No, not that! My addiction is Walgreen's. I love that store as much as I love breathing. I broke myself of the habit and haven't been for a long time. That pleased Ross because a visit to Walgreen's for me is like a visit to Costco for the rest of you - you go in needing one thing and you walk out having spent an embarassing amount of money. I went to Walgreen's last week to pick up some prints and it just so happens that I had time to spare, and Elliott was happy, and we did need to walk up and down every aisle...in the end I spent $60 on absolute treasures. One of which was this:
ped egg
Can I just say this thing is awesome! My feet have never been better. I might use it on Ross when he's asleep to try and get rid of some of his scales. If you want to borrow it, you betcha! One suggestion - don't "ped egg" your feet in bed. That's kind of gross.

Third - though I'm a wee bit embarrassed to admit it (thanks Ann for already mentioning it on your blog), I'm not ashamed. I signed up for their e-mails months ago and have been waiting with baited breath for their return. I've checked the website a few times. I'll DVR their performance this Friday on the Today show. I still know their names, I watched the surreal life and Band of Brothers because of them. And the secret spot in my heart that I have saved (along with my t-shirt from their concert the weekend before I started 7th grade that I have never ever worn just in case it could be used for the antique roadshow by my grandchildren) from being 12 years old and in love with my first (and only) boy band is ready and rearin' to go. Need I say more?

Oh, Jordan Knight...where have you been all my life?

American Idol, eat your heart out!


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