Monday, February 28, 2011

Day Late, Dollar Short . . . Story of My Life

Kinda forgot to post this . . . but who could forget stalking prey amongst the high plains grass on the Ohio State University's campus? And as a Pennsylvania girl, that bumper sticker really resonates with me.

Music: "The One Thing" by INXS
- Jill

Sunday, February 27, 2011


We decided to play Sorry on Saturday.  I don't remember playing it a lot as a kid.  I do remember thinking it was confusing and all I wanted to do was slide.  We were bigger fans of Life.  Those little cars and pegs were more fun than some plastic pawns.  After dinner, Cooper wanted to play and I thought, "What's the harm?"  The first game nearly came to blows.  I'm exaggerating, but it was pretty brutal.  The second game came down to the wire, but I pulled out the win!  Yes, I'm bragging because my family is pretty competitive.  We haven't played Monopoly in decades.  The last time we played, someone left the table in tears.  Euchre is always loud and the rules are reviewed a million times.  Did you deal correctly?  Are you sure you don't have any hearts?  You know that's actually a Spade, right?  Sorry was no exception.  Spaces were counted and recounted.  Adults gave Cooper suggestions on who to send back Home.  People were laughed at when their hopes of winning were dashed.  Once we got down to the end,  Cooper's age didn't matter.  He was sent back to home just as much as the adults were.  But we had fun and have a solid gift idea for an upcoming birthday.  So if you come to our house any time soon, don't be surprised if we break out Sorry.  It's not for the weak and don't expect us to be nice.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Winter has Stolen my Voice.

Last night, I figured that I should start pulling my weight with this blog.  But I don't have enough words to create paragraphs, so I'll give you a list of stuff that makes me happy this snowy Friday.

1. I joined Twitter.  Why so late, Erika?   I'm a late bloomer.  Don't even ask when I got my period...  I guess right now I'm only good with 140 words.  Here I am.  And I promise I won't talk about the beginnings of my period.  Maybe.

2. I'm obsessed with Adele.  Full on girl crush.  I might cry if I ran into her at Target.  Obsessed.  Our entire house loves "Rumor Has It".  I wish some "classy" stripper would add it to her set.  There's glitter I'd be ok to come home with stuck to my clothing.

3. Ikea trip this weekend.  Meatballs & lamps will be purchased.  Kids aren't coming, so our sanity will be spared.

4. Pinterest.  Enough said.  Pin it!

5. I've got a work trip coming that should supply me with enough sun to last until Spring.  That's the plan anyway.

6. Wish this lady a "Happy Birthday"!

That's all I've got today.  Six little points.
Happy weekend, people!


Sunday, February 20, 2011

So I Got a Compliment From My Girls

Been a while, right? Let's run down the list of usual suspects: February sucks (raise your hands if you agree), the weather sucks (keep 'em up), the news sucks even harder (can I get an "Amen"), and sickness has been rampant (what ever companies make Puffs, Tylenol Cold & Sinus, and Ny-Quil ought to be in double digit profits by now). Tie all this up in a shiny little bow called "life," and you get a pretty big dose of blog silence (there's always Flickr, don't forget).

It's been about six weeks since Dave and I dropped the Girls off in Philly for the second semester. In that time, we've chatted on a phone a bit, texted a lot, and sent numerous Facebook messages - most of which either dissected the location of Vietnam Restaurant in Chinatown and why their father should have his own Facebook site. We bought them Cheez-Its for Valentine's Day and some other goofy crap . . . but then they surprised us with news that they were coming home for President's Day weekend. Awesome! But only for the evening. Now so awesome!

It Was A Late Valentine's Dinner

It was a quick trip, one that enabled them to head to Target and pick up all the things that would cost double at a Rite-Aid near school. But during that trip, they paid us a pretty big compliment: we had raised competent adults. They know how to: pay bills on time, recycle appropriately, wash dishes, cook for themselves, care for an animal, write papers that get As, budget their time, save their money (or at least know that saving their money is a good idea), know when to leave when people are drinking, treat other people the way that they would like to be treated, talk to other people politely.

At first, I wasn't sure it was a compliment . . . but then I thought about it, and figured that they were right: we had, in fact, raised competent adults. Jordan is currently a student coordinator for the Honor's department's alternative Spring Break. So when we see her sister over Spring Break, Jordan will be working with different faith communities in Philly on outreach projects. Shelby finished her study abroad application for Heidelberg and will most likely be celebrating her 21st birthday nine hours before Jordan. There are plans already for grad school in California or Vermont and the studying of the Icelandic language and heading off for different countries.

But no matter where they go, they'll still be Other Baby and Other Baby, carefully scripting what they wanted the other one to say.

- Jill

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

White Flag

February is a tough month.  It's when most people give up on Winter & fall into the blues.  I'm not quite at that point yet.  I don't love winter.  I never have & I never will.  But I'm not clouded with the winter blues yet.  I'll give it another two weeks.  But I have given up on something.  I'm tossing in the towel on Joy of Love.  It's a fantastic project, but the less pressure I have the better I can to survive this winter.  But I love Love like everyone else in the world.  I decided that I'll continue to photograph one thing I love each day & try to explain why.

I love a good hotel.  I think I'm extremely fortunate to spend a night in a hotel a few times a month.  I believe it makes me a better wife and mother.  I get quality time to recharge.  When the boys were newborns, I got a good nights sleep.  Now I get to do anything I want uninterrupted and guilt-free.  I get the remote.  I can make a mess and not clean it up if I want to.  I can take a 30-minute shower and no one comes in asking for snack.  I have more tiny shampoo bottles than one woman should own and I still buy full-sized bottles.  I love the free magazines in the lobby.  I love the happy hour specials.  I love one with a decent restaurant within walking distance.  I love hotels more now than I ever did pre-kids.

It isn't always easy, but Mark has always been supportive.  It isn't like I would have quit my job after kids because I have to travel.  I was never worried about leaving him with the kids.  Other colleagues used to ask me who was watching the baby.  And then they'd ask if my mother or MIL was with him.  No.  He's the father.  It's what he's supposed to do.  Breast-feeding isn't ideal for a mother on the road, but it's what had to be done.  I've spilled more breast-milk in more hotels all over Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan.  More cleaning crews have discovered forgotten bags of breast-milk in the fridge or in sinks filled with ice.  There was always more, so I stopped worrying about losing them.  I've soothed a few tears over the phone.  I've cried in hotel rooms because I heard a baby giggle.  I've teared up because I've watched other children with their parents.  I've been startled awake a few times because of fire alarms and mingled with other tired strangers as we waited to return to sleep.  I've wondered if the stranger in the hallway was going to force himself into my room.  I've checked mirrors and imagined that covert cameras were installed.  I've been almost certain that I'd appear on some pervy site called "Naked Hotel"  It wouldn't be hot and the viewers would be disappointed, so I'm not really worried about it.  I've checked windows six times to make sure it was properly locked.  I've broken remotes because I tried to use it as a bottle opener.

But I love hotel rooms.  And during the long weeks, I've found reasons to really appreciate them.  There's no use being more miserable away from home because that isn't difficult to do.  Home is always better.  But a comfy bed in a dark silent room is a close second.

8:28 Days of Love


Saturday, February 5, 2011

What You Love To Hate

Around Christmas time, Dave found a Clockwork Man on a website for about $6.00 and decided to buy it. He told me it was huge, but I never anticipated on it being as tall as what it was. He's had other large action figure before, and all have had disastrous results.

What You Love To Hate

The Sauron figure he bought in England had a voice chip and would play some of the lines from the Lord of the Rings movies. It was so loud that I could hear it in the living room. Occasionally it would go off in the middle of the night and scare the shit out of me. How else should one react when you hear a booming, "Build me an army of Mordor." One minute I'm sleeping soundly, happily dreaming of fluffy bunnies or Matt Damon or fluffy bunnies and Matt Damon. The next? Wondering if my house is being attacked by Orcs.

What You Love To Hate

Prior to Sauron, he had a Stormtrooper that was incredibly detailed in all respects except for one: balance. At least once a week, he would spring from his perch and land on the floor with a giant thud. Sometimes it would wake me up and I would place it gingerly on the dresser. But other times I would step on it upon waking and nearly fall head first into the dresser. The Stormtrooper lasted a little longer than Sauron, but I did threaten to break its head off the next time it decided to commit suicide by dresser jumping.

What You Love To Hate

So, the Clockwork Man? It holds a special place in my heart because it didn't do a damn thing to me . . . it did it to Jordan. About four or five years ago, Jordan and Dave were watching a Doctor Who episode, "The Girl In the Fireplace," and she got supremely scared by the Clockwork Man. I wasn't home and didn't fully comprehend how scared she was until later. The phone rang about 3 AM, and when I answered, it was a very frightened Jordan on the other end. The only problem? She was calling to tell me she was a) scared, b) right next door in her bedroom, c) calling from her cellphone, and d) all because of f-ing Doctor Who. Really? From Doctor Who?

What You Love To Hate

Fast forward to this Christmas and the cheap sale for the Clockwork Man action figure. Dave was tempted to put it in her bed - but didn't. Instead we called her into our room one night after we had gone to bed, and she and Shelby were coming back from a friend's house. Upon seeing it, she let loose with a litany of words that would make any sailor proud.

- Jill

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Then and Now

Dave and I have taken the kind of self-portraits that make "real" photographers cringe. The kind where you hold out your arms and hope for the best. We take them everywhere: home, Ohio, London, sporting events, on trains, in a hotel room. Everywhere. Erika made it her goal to get a photo of us for Mom's calendar that wasn't a photo like this. She got it, and it was very nice . . . but I still like the kind where we mush our cheeks close together, smile, and still hope for the best.

Then and Now (3/28)

The one on the left was taken when we were 21. I had thrown out my back for the first time, but I had a project due for a sociology course that detailed a historic place that was in need of help. My choice was a beautiful covered bridge in Oxford, but there was no way that I could traverse the fence and snap a few photos. Dave volunteered to get up early (he was working third shift at a hotel doing their books) and do it for me. When he got back, we had left over film and started taking photos of anything to get the film used up. This is my favorite shot of the day . . . because it's us. We were dirt poor with no clue how we were going to provide for our kids. The Girls had a Medicaid card for their insurance, and we had food stamps and WIC. I'm pretty sure that we were getting by on a wing and a prayer . . . plus a lot of help from our parents when it came to the Girls since I was in my last year as a college student.

Fast forward 20 years. Life has a funny way of working out for you. The Girls are the ones in college now. Dave is still in the hotel business but in a vastly different capacity. Me? I haven't thought about that bridge in Ohio in ages. But I have a beautiful print of it in our basement, one that Dave bought for more money than he had a right to, when we were dirt poor . . . all because I liked it.

I grabbed him on his way to work and asked for one quick photo, for the Now portion. Love you, Dave!

- Jill

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"How They Look"

I woke up to the second call from our Superintendent.  Someone should tell her to speak gently during her recorded messages.  No one likes to be barked at over the phone at 7:20 a.m.  Truth be told, the winds kept me up most of the night.  It was time to repeat yesterday.  Shuffle to the coffee maker.  Make sure the tree is still upright.  Close the boys room & be as quiet as possible.  Check emails.  "Joy of Love" prompt: Show how your loved ones look.  Easy.  I'm going to be with them all day.  Again.  I wanted to find some way to creatively capture them, but being stuck inside for two straight days zaps that juice.

Want to see what my loved ones look like first thing in the morning?  On the second snow day?  In the same clothing as yesterday? While eating cereal with bedhead?  Right before being taken down with a wrestling move?  And being so loving that it makes your heartache?  I thought so.  

It doesn't happen often, so I'm going to linger here for a while.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"What they Do"

Normally on a Tuesday, my loved ones would be in school and at work.  I should have been in the car driving north.  But after many warnings from those loved ones and meteorologists, I rescheduled.  The house was stocked with goodies and we watched the news.  I counted on keeping my youngest home from daycare and figured we'd walked Cooper to school in the morning.  When we said "Good-night" the weather was still calm.  Sometime after 11:15 p.m. and before 6:30 a.m., a sheet of ice blanketed the city.  The phone rang & the Superintendent's voice blared in my groggy ear, "There will be no school today."  Getting a snow day as an adult is just as exciting as getting one as a kid.  I couldn't go back to sleep, so I rolled out of bed and shuffled towards the coffee machine.  I watched the dog bust her ass on the lawn as she tried to catch a squirrel.  And flipped on the news.  I guessed Mark was going to call it a snow day too after only a few minutes of updates.

Today's prompt for the Joy of Love was to focus on what your loved ones do.  Today is different only because it's Tuesday.  It seems like an exaggerated weekend: a hyped of version of a Sunday.  I hate falling on ice, so outside play wasn't going to happen.  I've gotten through 3 loads of laundry & Mark has chipped away two thick layers of ice on our cars.  The boys are enjoying too much screen time.  Cooper is playing demos on PS3 that are way too advanced for him, but he tries.  And we've allowed it today.  He's finished his homework for the week and colored more than enough pages to allow some video game time.  Becket watches him out of the corner of his eye and keeps the other one on his Lego car.  He's also walking around with one sandal on.  Last night, he found it in the back of his closet and slept with it.  We can't find its partner, but it doesn't bother him.  It's also on the wrong foot.  I've tried to change feet a dozen times, but he won't have it. These are my loved ones today.  Zoning out.  Defiant.  Silly.  Laughing.  Building Lego trucks.  Chipping at ice while knowing that this is only round one.  Folding laundry with two more loads piling up next to them.  It's what we do when we're together.  We're living.