Thursday, October 13, 2011

I have moved

I just realized, I went and moved my blog and never even announced I was thinking about doing it! I know from checking out my stats that some of you read me without following my links from facebook, so this post is for you. Please bookmark my new blog site.

It took me a little while to get back into the saddle of blogging, but once I did, I really really liked it again. So, I moved my blog off blogger/blogspot so I could have ultimate control over how it looks and what I do with it. Blogger was a great starting point, but it was time to move on.

If you enjoy reading my daily ramblings, please follow me to my new site -
thank you!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Apple Orchards and Children Just Go Together

A friend and I took our girls to the apple orchard this last Friday. Even though it is October, it was a beautiful day with a pretty strong breeze. Perfect weather for romping around the apple orchard. As we were driving up there I couldn't help but think about going to the apple orchard every year as a kid. It was one of those fall things that you look forward to, because you only get to do it once a year. And it comes with donuts!

When I became a grown up, I didn't want to let go of the apple orchard experience and so had persuaded Lance to take me each year. I don't recall the name of the one we went to up in the cities, but down here we found Center Grove Orchard. They give you these long sticks with little grabbers on the end so you can actually pick your own apples. Surprisingly fun! We didn't have kids for many years we were together so it didn't feel right going to the kiddie portion of the orchard, but it looked awesome. So, when fall rolled around the first year we had Hannah I was excited to be able to take her to the orchard.

It was a hit. She got to see and pet and feed goats, horses, and chickens. But chickens bite and unfortunately she learned that one the hard way before we could get her fingers out of there. The orchard has a corn-pit too, something everyone should get to enjoy at some point in their lives. Growing up in Wisconsin, I'm no stranger to corn pits. A huge vat of dried kernels of corn that you wallow around in as if it were a ball bit, only way more dusty. You come out of it covered from head to toe in a couple layers of filth. But watching the kids roll around and cover themselves with corn is worth the dirt you'll have to wash off them later at home. After all, it is a farm, dirt is to be expected.

When we went back to the orchard this year, I'm not sure if she remembered it from before or if it was all brand new to her. But she could have easily spent the whole day there just playing. We met up with our friends in the corn pit and the girls were wading through the corn like it was nothing, even though on them it came up past their knees! Hannah is at the age now where I don't have to hover over everything she does but can just casually watch her from a short distance to be sure she isn't going to get hurt or suddenly run off. So it was nice to just sit on the bales of straw and watch her play without having to get in there myself and get dirty. I thought I might have a hard time getting her to come out of there, that she might want to put up a fight because it was so much fun. But the draw of animals to pet was larger than I realized. As soon as I mentioned there were baby goats that needed feeding and petting she was crawling up the bales to go see.

I didn't count how many goats they had, but I'm guessing at least a couple dozen, all colors and sizes. I love a goat, if Lance would let me, I would have one as a pet. Without a doubt, these goats are well cared for and fed almost constantly, because you can buy little containers of goat chow to feed them. But these guys act as if they haven't had a meal in weeks the way they come up to you and push each other out of the way for just one more piece of chow. Hannah kept wanting to feed the little baby goats, saying the big goats had had enough. We worked out a system where I would distract the big goats while she snuck some chow into the little goats.

After we had our fill of all the animals and pedal tractors, it was time to head inside for cider and donuts. Knowing there was a donut waiting for her at the end of this adventure helped keep her focused and on track. Or at least as focused as a 2 year old can be. She put down that donut in record time and when she asked for another I couldn't say no, it was a special orchard day. On the way home, she ate an entire apple as well…playing obviously worked up her hunger.

Already I can't wait for next year. Eliza will be old enough to play in the corn pit and pet the goats. She may even want to give pedal tractors a go. Whatever she wants to try, I'm game for, because a fun day at the orchard is just that. A day full of fun, that ends with a donut.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hannah and the Moon

Hannah saw the moon last night, in person, for the first time in months. She knows what it is, has read about it in books, seen it on tv, but doesn't get to see it "for real" ever. It's not that we keep her from it intentionally, but it is never out before her bedtime rolls around. Last night though, she was up late because of a doctor visit and the moon was the highlight of her whole day. It came at a cost though...

She has been sick for almost a week now and yesterday I noticed these bright red clustery things in the back of her throat. Her sick has mainly been snot and a fever, so I never really looked at her throat because it didn't seem to be bothering her. But when I accidentally caught a glimpse of it yesterday, I called the doctor's office right away to ask what that was. The receptionist didn't even patch me through to the nurse to ask, once she heard me describing it she said "oh I know they're going to want to see her." They had an appointment yet that night, at 7:00. I told her we'd take it. Even though it was her bedtime, doctors trump schedules. So, because of how doctor's office visits tend to run, they didn't get home until about 8:30 and Hannah couldn't stop talking about the moon. Apparently on the drive home, that's all she could talk about - where's the moon? There's the moon! I find the moon! What's it doing up there? Why is the moon there? I see the moon! Then we had to sit on the back porch stairs for awhile admiring the moon. Doctor said she doesn't have strep, but she does have a very irritated and inflamed throat and some liquid on her ears. So, really, she has nothing. But they gave her some antibiotics to fend off the ear infection that is inevitable after having been sick for so long.

We have scheduled our girls from as early as they would let us. When they were super young, everything was just on demand. As they neared 2 or 3 months old though, I started to notice a pattern of things and so went with it as the schedule. Hannah and Eliza both do so much better when they stick to their eating and sleeping routine. This is another one of those parenting things that is different for everyone. Some families don't schedule and feel it is too confining or just not for them. Other families stick to their schedules no matter what because they have learned what works for them. That is us. If it is time for a nap, we take a nap, regardless of what we are doing. Because if we don't - it is awful. Last night could have been worse, but it was bad enough. Hannah was so over-tired that she gave the appearance of being fine and raring to go. Some people would have said, "oh she's not tired, she's fine" but we know better, we knew she was exhausted. It was like wrangling and octopus. She was literally all over the place. She had stayed up late enough, that she had gotten her second wind and it took a lot of soft-talking and coercing to get her to calm down and relax enough to listen to stories before bed. Once bedtime routine was over and I left the room, she was asleep in about 10 minutes.

One of these days, she'll see the moon again and I am pretty sure it will as exciting as it was last night. But I know, it will come at a cost…the cost being an over-tired and tough to wrangle toddler.

Thursday, October 6, 2011



Thank you, Steve Jobs

Last night as I was watching Survivor and flipping through Facebook, I saw several of my friends posting about Steve Jobs having died. I knew right away it wasn't a hoax, but that it was sadly, true. I couldn't help but think about all of my connections to Steve, our house is littered with his innovations; iPods, iPhones, iPad, iMac, iBook, even Pixar movies. Then I started thinking about how he really helped shape my career; all of my jobs as a grown up were Mac-based.

It all started when I was really young, like maybe 7 or 8. For whatever reason, mom sent me to computer camp one summer. It wasn't like in the woods or anything because that would be against everything computers stood for. But it was at some community college and I carpooled there with one of my grade school friends and his mom. That was where I saw my first Apple computer and learned what to do with "open apple" and "closed apple." At some point the closed apple fell by the wayside and then eventually the apple logo disappeared from the keyboard entirely and was replaced by the command symbol. I still call it the apple key. True, die-hard apple fans probably do the same thing without even realizing it.

The part time job choices in my small town were very limited, especially since I didn't have a car. So, I ended up working at our bowling alley and then our nursing home. The stories I could tell about the nursing home…whoa. Anyway, as soon as I moved away for college and came to the big city of Des Moines, I was overwhelmed by the job opportunities. I could have chosen anything, but was drawn to Kinko's. Many of my friends, including Lance, will say it was because Bill was working behind the counter. Regardless of what got me in the store, it was the technology that kept me there. Because it was a copy store, I of course started out making copies but kept finding myself being pulled to the computer room to learn and eventually help the guys in there. I stayed with Kinko's for years and became the Manager of their computer department. Desktop publishing was my thing for a long time, I really enjoyed it but would get irritated every time I called Kinko's help desk support line. They never seemed able to answer my question. That was when I realized I wanted to be on the other end of things. Designing was fun, but I had more of a technical mind and wanted to work "with" the computers, not "on" them.

Every job after that was specific to the mac and was in some form of technical support. With Advantage Computers, I was able to travel the country installing macs, networks, and software. With Target Corporation, I was the one who helped the ├╝ber creative marketing department print. That was one of my favorite jobs…it allowed me to do my techy thing, while at the same time being surrounded by creative people. It was with Target that I got to experience my first ever MacWorld. I'll never forget seeing Steve Jobs deliver his keynote address, I was literally shaking with excitement. I've lost count of how many MacWorlds I've been to since, but I know with certainty that I have gotten the shivers every time. When I was sitting in the crowd watching Steve talk about his latest, greatest thing, I always had that feeling of camaraderie. I was with my people; I was where I belonged.

My dream job had always been to work at Apple HQ. It was a possible dream for many years while I was single, but once we got married and talked about roots and family, I knew I had to let that dream go. California was not an option for us. So, I started looking at the next best thing. I took Apple certification courses here in town so that I could become an extension of the Apple family. As a certified hardware and software technician, I was legally allowed to add the Apple logo to my email signature. That was a truly proud moment. Being Apple Certified also put me on Apple's radar and I was extended special, exclusive invitations. Each time I would receive an email from someone at Apple, my heart would do a little flip.

One time I was invited to a Beta class they were offering, and my job at the time encouraged me to go because Apple was going to foot the bill for the entire trip. I don't think I slept a night I was out there. I had, of course been to California many times before for work and conferences, but this was different; this was the Mothership calling me to them. Walking around the Apple campus was a dream come true, I was in awe the entire time. One day as I was leaving the cafeteria with my group of Beta testers, I saw Steve. He was sitting at a table, casually eating lunch with Jonathan Ive. I didn't know what to do, I felt like I can only imagine I would feel if I bumped into Tom Waits. I wanted to run up to him and scream, "I'm your biggest fan!!" But, it was Steve and everyone knows you don't do that to Steve. So, I very nonchalantly walked up towards the table and passed it by without so much as a "can I have your autograph?"

So, thank you Steve Jobs. Thank you for all you've given me in my career and in my home. You were a truly inspiring man and our generation was lucky to have you.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Eleanor's Baby Book

Yep, Eleanor has a baby book. She was our first child, of course she has a baby book! It isn't the traditional "first word, first step" type of book but it is overflowing with her baby pictures. And just like you'd expect, Eleanor has one and Franklin doesn't…because he was the second child. Of course we took pictures of him, many many pictures, but just never got around to putting them in a book.

We have a shelf of all our photo albums and Hannah enjoys leafing through them occasionally. She went through a big phase of looking at these books and we'd look at baby Eleanor pictures almost daily. But, since moving to this house, the albums are in a different spot and she either doesn't remember they're there or doesn't want to look at them as often. Although last night, while I was upstairs putting Eliza to bed she pulled out Eleanor's album. I don't think I would have been able to make it through the book with her, so I'm glad that it was Lance showing her the pictures this time. Just hearing him tell me that they had done that, brought tears to my eyes and made me remember how much fun we had with her when she was young and spry. Baby Eleanor was beautiful, everyone said so.

There are pictures detailing her every milestone. Her first blankie, her first chew toy, her first bath, her first walk…we were obviously proud parents. We even have her school graduation certificates, she was our genius. Lance was the one to take her to all of her classes and work with her on training, and so their bond was tighter. I was of course her mommy, but she was Daddy's girl for sure. I used to have to repeat my requests to her at least a couple times, but Lance would say, "sit" and her ass would hit the floor before he even finished speaking the word! As she got older and more set in her ways I would just ask Lance to tell her to sit. I didn't even bother trying because she would just give me that look of, "I don't wanna…make me." But when Lance wasn't here and it was just us girls during the day, she paid attention to me just fine. One of her funny quirks I guess :)

I still can't get over the amount of food I've been throwing away lately…its just crazy. I feel like I need to be scraping our plates outside for random squirrels or something. I never thought I gave her that many table scraps during the day, but apparently I did. Everything Hannah half-eats would have been offered to Eleanor to finish. It's hard to say what I miss most with Eleanor being gone, I think of her so often throughout the day. I do know that I really really miss her welcoming us home. Whether we'd been gone for 5 minutes or 5 hours, she'd greet us like it had been days. I miss the wagging tail and the kisses. She also had this un-canny ability to hear Lance pulling in the drive. No matter what car he was driving or what time of day it was, she knew when it was him and she would stop what she was doing to go wait by the door.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Restraint at Sam's

Since adding a second child to the family, we've been trying harder to actually stick to a budget. One job supporting 3 people can only go so far, so I've been doing my part by paying very close attention to what we spend for groceries and all other household items. I've started to use coupons and shop sales and I'm happy to report that on average, I save about 30-40% each trip to the store.

Part of it is just paying attention to the prices in the store. Surprisingly, I hadn't really done that before, I just bought what we needed when we needed it. If it happened to be on sale, then score for me! I know "extreme couponing" is super hot right now, but I am not one of those..I'm a stay at home mom trying to save some money in the store. I had gotten us a Sam's membership years ago because I just assumed you're getting a good price at the warehouse stores. Buying twelve cans of soup at once has got to be cheaper, right? I've since learned my lesson there…Sam's Club is very deceiving. Some things are cheaper, but I'd say 90% of the things I bought, I was paying way more for than I realized.

Yesterday I packed up the girls and hit Sam's for the first time in months. Even though I know I don't need it, I still can't resist the urge to pile things in my cart. Especially at Holiday time, they have all these spectacular looking gift baskets that seem to be marketed directly at me. Old me would have just willy nilly gone for the pretty, shiny things that caught my eye; new me stuck to my list and my plan. It was hard. That was the first time I have ever shown any kind of restraint in Sam's and as soon as I got out of the store, I had to call Lance to tell him all the things I didn't buy!

What I did buy though were 14 large bottles of spices and a package of frozen chicken breasts. I have found that spices in the grocery store are ridiculously priced and coupons for them are few and far between. Sam's doesn't have all the spices I like to use, but at least I can stock up on the ones they do have, like chili powder. You can get a 20 ouncer for about $6, compared to the grocery store where a 1 ouncer is about $1.

Unfortunately they didn't have the other main thing I headed there for so I will have to make a return trip later this month before my membership expires. I have found that Sam's has got the best gingerbread house making kit. As much as I resist the whole craft-making-crap thing, I have compared gingerbread house kits and in my opinion, Sam's wins. And this year, I know Hannah is going to LOVE making the gingerbread house. She'll probably have more creative control than she has had the past years, so I expect our house will be a little more abstract and probably won't be particularly symmetrical. But I can't wait, because with Hannah, this craft-making-crap thing is fun :)