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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

11-year-old boy on life

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Today, Charlie turned 11. As his mother, I thought it would be good to know what he thinks about a variety of topics. His answers, unedited, are below:

Girls: Nice and sweet and stuff.

Money: Use it only for good reasons, like to buy video games.

Basketball:
You should pass a lot so other people will pass to you.

Football:
You have to make the right plays to make it to the right place.

Favorite color:
Butler blue.

Favorite food:
Lasagna and pizza.

Favorite day of the week:
Wednesday, because it's gym day in school.

Favorite book:
I'm not a big fan of books.

Favorite movie:
Iron Man 2 (Note from the mom: I sure hope that's age appropriate. If not, blame the dad.)

Least hated chore:
Unloading the dishwasher, because it's fast.

Most hated chore:
Everything else.

United States:
We are awesome.

President Obama:
He is awesome and I want to invite him to my birthday party. (For the record, he invited Dubya to his birthday party a few years ago.)

God:
I love Him and He gave us all this (motioning to the space around him).

The oil spill in the Gulf:
Sad, sad, sad.

School:
Boring and stupid, except for the fun parts.

If you had a whole day to do whatever you wanted, what would you do:
Play video games, play sports and boss Robbie around...no...I would have Robbie help me boss Annie around.

If you were in charge of making dinner, what would you make:
I would order pizza.

If you had to give up one thing for the rest of your life, except school or chores, what would it be:
SKIP! I'm not giving up anything.

If you were going to write a book, what would it be about:
ME! and video games.

What do you want to be when you grow up:
A sports player, then maybe an announcer when I retire.

If you could change your life in anyway, what would you do:
Get a girlfriend.

That's where the line of questioning stopped because a.) I had to catch my breath after that last answer and b.) I had to launch my "you're too young for a girlfriend and you should just be yourself and be friends with girls" speech.

This one, yeah, he's gonna keep life interesting.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Office bathroom ettiquette

On the floor of the building where I work, there are two women's restrooms, two men's restrooms and two unisex/handicapped bathrooms. Each of the women'srestrooms have two stalls. I can't speak for the men's restrooms because I've never been in there, though now I'm a little curious...

Anyway, I was in the ladies' room closest to my office, when I heard someone else come in. I knew by the gait and by the shoes it was one of my co-workers. (I won't say who because I do have to work with these people.) As I was washing my hands, she stood behind me, waiting for access to the lone sink and said in a silly voice, "I broke one of the bathroom rules!"

"What bathroom rule is that," I asked.

"I came in here when someone else was in here."

"That's not a rule," I told her. "That's just a courtesy."

To be clear, there are no posted bathroom rules, though I think it might be a good idea. But after working in the same office for nearly five years, I've noticed the evolution of certain practices that could be included in a short set of "office bathroom etiquette" rules, or guidelines if you prefer to be softer about it. They would look something like this:

Office Bathroom Etiquette
  1. If you happen to be headed to the bathroom at the same time as someone else, remember the boss gets the stall closest to the sink. The business manager prefers the one furthest from the sink.
  2. The above should not really be an issue because if you are headed to the bathroom at the same time as someone else, it is courteous to go find another bathroom. That way you don't have to listen to each other pee.
  3. If you have to go #2, please choose one of the single-seater unisex bathrooms. That way no one has to listen to your, um, activity. And you avoid offending anyone's olfactory senses.

At least one person in my office would take issue with #3, saying that it's ok to go #2 in the community bathroom if it's not going to be "grody" (her word, not mine). My contention is that you don't know if it's going to be grody until it's too late and isn't all poop grody by default?

I'd be all for a posted sign instructing people to avoid emptying their bowels in the community bathroom if at all possible. Or perhaps a more subtle approach would be to just put a picture of Winnie the Pooh on the doors to the unisex bathrooms, indicating that it is an acceptable "poo" room.

Anyway, back to the etiquette...I'm undecided about the acceptability of talking while peeing. If being in the bathroom at the same time as someone else is unavoidable (refer back to etiquette rule 2), should you quietly and quickly go about your business? Or should you initiate conversation so as to drown out the sound of pee? I suppose it depends on whether or not you know the person in the next stall over.

And of course, it should go without saying that one of the cardinal rules of bathroom etiquette is washing your hands afterwards, singing the ABCs twice for good infection control.

Have I forgotten anything? Is there anything else you would add?

For more office antics, try this fun game.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

One of these things is not like the others

...one of these things just doesn't belong:

At-6 Texans

Yak-52

Scream

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Can you guess which one it is? #3, you say? Yes. That's what I thought, too.

Then would someone please tell me why I am considering going up in one of these planes? Other than the fact that I must have a death wish. Or at minimum a barf wish.

This is another invite courtesy of my Visit Indiana gig. The Gary Air Show will take place in the northwest corner of the state on July 9, 10 and 11th and they are inviting members of the media to do plane-side interviews with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. Then "each reporter or photographer is paired with an experienced air show pilot and gets a 'quick' version of what it is like to fly in a show. There are aerial maneuvers and the teams fly in formation for each scheduled flight."

As some of you may remember, I'm slightly afraid of heights. So why in heaven's name am I seriously contemplating taking this flight?

Maybe it's because I know it's probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Maybe it's because I think it would be a good alternative to dying my hair blue. Maybe it's because I can already imagine what an awesome story it will be to tell here.

For whatever reason, I sent the PR gal a note and said "I'm definitely interested in the opportunity. Can you tell me how wild and crazy these aerial maneuvers are?"

Her response:

First, I have to make sure that you are able to fly with the performers – so I must ask, are you pregnant? Are you in good health? No severe medical conditions we need to know about? And finally, are you able to fit in a commercial airline seat comfortably (size/weight requirements)?

The day of the flight, be sure to eat light (or not at all) and drink plenty of water. It’s usually pretty hot the day of the flight and the cockpit gets pretty heated…safety of the pilot and the passenger is always my #1 priority. The pilots are all VERY experienced and will answer all the questions you have. They are fantastic to work with and even better if you are flying with them. It’s a great experience. If you like rides, this is one NOT to pass up. The maneuvers are different for each flight, but you do go upside-down and turns and fun things like that. I’ve never had anyone complain that it was boring or scary or a bad experience. Everyone walks away with a smile and completely exhilarated. Oh, and bring your camera – you’ll need to document your experience so you don’t forget!"

Annie read the "if you like rides part" and said, "Mom, you DON'T like rides." Which is true. When we go to Holiday World, the wildest coaster I ride is The Howler in Holidog's Fun Town (geared for ages 8 and under).

Even knowing what I now know about the experience; even though if you look up "lilly-livered coward" on Wikipedia you'll probably see a picture of me, I still think I want to do it. Am I out of my ever loving mind? Would you do it?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Fragments: Link love

Mommy's Idea

For today's Friday Fragments, I'm going to be dishing up some link love, starting with our hostess, Mrs. 4444s. This is her 100th fragging Friday!

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I told you I'd have more Segway stuff to share. Click this link for a video of my Segway training.

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While you're at YouTube, check out this hilarious spoof of Beyonce's "Single Ladies" video. Thumbs up to all the "Wrinkled Ladies!" If you're a 4th Frog Fan on Facebook, you might have already seen it.

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If you live in Central Indiana, please consider participating in the Annual Joseph Maley Run, Walk, Roll on Saturday, July 10 at Eagle Creek Park. Joseph was a very smiley young man born with severe disabilities who died at the age of 18 of leukemia. In his honor, his parents (two of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet) started a foundation to serve children of all abilities. And if you don't live in Central Indiana, feel free to make a donation anyway!

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One of the folks who was also invited on the tour of White River State Park was Cherie, better known as The Queen of Free. I felt more than a little guilty going to the mall and paying full price for a pair of long pants to wear on the hard hat tour of the J.W. Marriott, knowing that I'd be walking right along with a (very sweet) woman whose made a whole career out of penny pinching.

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What would you do if you saw a snake in your backyard? Would you chase it? NO! Would you try to catch it? NO! Would you kill it? NO -- I'd call my husband or some other burly man and make him do it. But Angie at In My Own Little Corner must have been a snake charmer in a former life. Check out this hilarious story.

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Thanks to everyone for your support regarding my "I Love Him..." entry earlier today. I was pretty hesitant to hit the "post" button. But I guess I believe that the only thing we gain by keeping our secrets hidden is loneliness.

Time to take Robbie to "occu-ation fair-apy" as he calls it. In the words of some big screen action here who I can't recall at the moment, "I'll be back!"

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I love him, I love him not, I love him



I've been keeping a secret. It's not exactly a total secret because several people who know me in real life know it. And I've hinted at it here. But I've never come right out and said it. I wasn't keeping it to be deceptive. Mostly I hadn't said anything because I wasn't ready to fully put it out there and because I wasn't sure how I felt about it. However, now I have a better understanding of myself and the situation and I am ready to share.

Mike and I are separated. Again. We have been living apart for almost three months. I won't speak for him, but I was saddened and broken to be having two separate residences less than a year after we moved back under the same roof. This time around has been really difficult for me (not that the last time was any cakewalk). I've spent a lot of time thinking about what is best for our family, what is best for me, and ultimately, what I want.

I've done the sad thing. I've done the angry thing. And I've done the "I don't care anymore" thing; I think that's been the most scary of all. I've had plenty of confusion. I've imagined life as a single parent even as I've been living it. And I've had a few spots of clarity where I've thought that what I really want is to live in realistic happiness with my husband and our children, all together as it should be.

So about 10 days ago, when I received an invitation for me and a guest to spend two days experiencing White River State Park, I had to really think about who to invite. My first thought was to invite a girlfriend. Then I thought about inviting Mike. Honestly, I wasn't sure I wanted to include him in my fun. But ultimately, I decided that some time away (even if it was in our own downtown), without the pressure of work and to do lists and carpools to coordinate, might be good for us. Give us a chance to reconnect -- or, more accurately, to see if there was still any connection there at all.

It wasn't long after we arrived at the hotel that we were laughing. His sense of humor is what attracted me to him over 20 years ago. He jokingly told everyone else in the group that he was there as my personal assistant. At the first museum we visited, he climbed aboard a replica stagecoach. He's always been one to be in the middle of the fun.

When he returned to the hotel as we headed to our second venue, the NCAA Hall of Champions, I understood. I didn't find myself irritated or being short with him -- and I was surprised at my tolerance. He rejoined the group about 30 minutes later and we good-naturedly poked fun about each other's athletic abilities.

Later in the afternoon, as we prepared to board our Segways, he teased me about my previous missteps with exercise/recreation equipment and I was reminded that we have so much history together. He asked great questions of the project manager on our hard hat tour of a new hotel under construction and I remembered the early days of our marriage when he was an eager reporter.

I'd be lying if I said it was all sunshine and lollipops. He did make me nervous as he wandered away from the group in the "bone room" at the Indiana State Museum. I was sure he was going to touch something he shouldn't. He spent $5 at an "art-o-mat" machine and I rolled my eyes, wishing he wouldn't waste the money.

Mostly, over the course of the two days, we held hands, we smooched, we enjoyed being together. And that gives me hope.

I know that those two days were an idealistic setting. No dishes to do. No kids to tote. No bills to pay. I know that everyday, ordinary life comes with bumps and roadblocks and responsibilities that aren't nearly as fun as having fun. I know that the long-term survival of our marriage depends on plenty of hard work on both our parts. But I also know that there still is something there between us, a spark, a shared past, a bit of the love we felt when we were college sweethearts, and yes, even a future.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Let's roll...

The phrase "let's roll" takes on a whole new meaning when you're perched aboard a Segway. Yesterday and today, I'm playing tourist in my own town as a guest of the White River State Park Development Commission.

One of yesterday's highlights was the Segway ride around White River State Park in Indianapolis. I'll 'fess up to being a little nervous. I don't have a terrific track record when it comes to mechanical things you have to stand on.

There was the treadmill at my sister's gym when I was in college. I got a little bored with watching the television in front of me. Behind the treadmills were some great windows that looked out onto the street. So I decided to turn around and look out the windows, walking against the movement of the machine's belt. It took about 3.2 seconds for the treadmill to throw me off into a heap on the floor. I think my sister was mortified -- although she was laughing so hard that it was hard to immediately sense her embarrassment.

Then there was the Nordic Track in my parents' basement. I'd seen the infommercial on TV. It looked pretty easy, so I decided to give it a try. About 7.4 seconds after I climbed on, my feet slid all the way forward, my arms stretched out completely in front of me, and I was stuck (imagine a boomerang shape). I couldn't stand up and if I let go with my arms, I would fall on my arse. So I did the only thing I could -- started hollering like a mad woman for someone to come rescue me. Fortunately, Mike heard me and came to help, after he stood there for what seemed like way too long laughing at my predicament.

So my apprehension about riding the Segway was justified. Though nervous, I was also excited to have a chance to give it a try. When our group arrived, the Segways were all lined up waiting for us:

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Mike offered a prediction that I would be the one to fall off, crash or in some other way embarrass myself (or him). I wasn't too sure that he was wrong.

Surprisingly, the Segway was easy to get the hang of. After the Segway master (I wonder if they've ever been called that before?) turns it on, you grab the handlebar with one hand, step up with the same foot, then grab the handle with the other hand and step up with the other foot. Moving forward is as easy as shifting your weight forward to the balls of your feet. Going in reverse happens by shifting back onto your heels.

It didn't take too long to figure it out, although I kept picturing myself as one of those large and lazy people hovering around on the spaceship in the movie Wall-E.

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The tour was awesome! We Segwayed for probably 90 minutes, going all over White River State Park and along the beautiful canal. I was a little nervous going on the sidewalk over a bridge where lots of traffic was driving. One false move and my Seg and I would have been a mangle of flesh and metal. But not to worry, we made it over the bridge without incident.

Two people in our group did have a little trouble. The first lost control of his Segway on the other side of the bridge and it whipped around with a mind of its own for a second or two. The second fell off while we were stopped at the top of a hill. Fortunately, she was ok, and so was the Segway, even though it tumbled down the hill and ran into a tree.

Riding the Segway was tiring to my feet and back, something that our guide White River State Park Director Bob Witt said is less common as you get used to riding and more relaxed. I definitely want to try it again sometime. And at $45, while it's not something I'd do weekly, it's absolutely affordable for the occasional date night, out of town visitor or other occasion.

Once I get back home, I'll have more pictures and some video to share. I don't have the right cord to connect my camera to the computer. I would have taken more with my phone, but we were warned to not text and Seg.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wheels

I'm happy to report that by last Friday we were once again a 2-car family. I didn't really have much of an opinion about what kind of car we bought, other than it had to be within our price range (read: cheap) and had to be able to at least get all 5 of us to church.

Mike, on the other hand, had some very definite ideas of what he would accept as a new-to-us car. First, he started looking at vintage Mercedes automobiles, which I quickly nixed. If either us knew a thing about fixing cars, I might have at least pretended to entertain the idea. But since we don't, I didn't.

Then he moved on to Mercedes and BMW wagons. "Nope. Too flashy," I protested.

When he started looking at Volvo wagons, I could live with that. Solid. Well-built. Safe. Classy but not ostentatious. A Volvo I could live with (and I have -- we've had two other Volvos in the almost 17 years we've been married).

We found 4 Volvo wagons we were willing to look at. One sold before we could get there. I test drove one that had low miles for its age, but was pretty beat up and only blew cool-ish air from the air conditioner. Not a good thing for a black with black interior car on a 90-degree day. The third was being sold by a dealer in another city that had an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau. The fourth, however, was a good fit. It had a few more miles than I'd hoped for, but is in pristine condition and had obviously been babied:

Vivian

So far, it's been a good car. We're taking a few days to get used to it before we give it a name.

Now, I'm not really in the practice of naming inanimate objects. (Well, other than my elliptical, Denzel.) But we started naming our cars when we owned two minivans. We couldn't tell the kids to "go get in the van," because there were two of them. So they were named "the fire truck" (the red van) and "the police car" (the silver van). When we sold the fire truck, we bought the Honda Pilot, which was quickly christened "the black speedy."

Now we have this navy blue Volvo wagon and it only seems fitting that she has a name, too. I've decided its a "she" because she has cargo space in the back and women do a fine job of carrying things inside them (i.e., babies, grudges, etc.).

One wouldn't think it would be too hard to come up with a name for a Volvo. After all, my children all have names that can be found in the "Volvo Names" section of the Beyond Jennifer and Jason baby names book. (For the record, according to the book, Volvo names are classic and never go out of style.)

The names that we've tossed around include Blue Betty, Madame Blueberry (a nod to the Veggie Tales) and a few others that I can't recall right now.

But I do remember, quite vividly, that Charlie was trying to play off the word Volvo and suggested that we name the car "Vulva." I tried very hard to keep a straight face as I explained that a vulva is the name for lady parts. So we quickly moved on to Vivian, which I'm actually fond of.

Maybe this weekend we'll take a family vote and name this little lady once and for all.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Same stuff, different year

It's Saturday morning and I'm greeted by the week's mail (and likely some from last week as well), piled up on the island in my kitchen. In a not so coy attempt at procrastination, I thought I'd write about it before actually attempting to take it on.

That's when I had an inkling that I've tackled this topic before. A quick search, and sure enough, there it was. Sadly, it was an entry I'd posted in July 2008 and not much has changed. Sigh... Except now there are people who actually read my blog and who probably won't mind a repeat from long, long ago:

Drowning in paper

I vote for a paperless society.

At the moment, my dining room table is covered in paper. My kitchen counter is a repository of the daily influx of paper that comes to our house. My work tote holds papers that have been in there for longer than they are useful. My desk at work is its own sea of paper.

I have piles of paper permeating my presence!

It's not that I don't throw away paper. I do. The credit card offers and the mailers from the local chiropractor never find rest in my home. They go straight from the mailbox to the trash can. But what if I might need that coupon for 35 cents off a box of Kleenex? (Never mind the fact that it has literally been years since I've redeemed a coupon. -- 2010 note, ok so that's changed.) And someday I might want to order those jammies from the Company Kids catalog (yes, I know they are available online. But having the catalog around reminds that I might want to order them -- besides, it gives me something to read in the bathroom.)

The Indianapolis Star is delivered to our home Thursday-Sunday. Not that I ever read it. But I like to spend my Sundays reading the Target ad and those schemers over at the Star won't let me just get a subscription to the Sunday paper. So it comes to our house four days a week. I peruse it, and set aside the sections that I might want to read later. And by the time next Thursday rolls around, I've read the Target ad and maybe the comics and occasionally the front page. And the cycle starts over.

I know when school starts, this problem will only be compounded. Homework, permission slips, third grade essays that are too precious to throw away, artwork that ought to be framed. Just thinking about it is enough to make me break out into paper pox!

There are a zillion books on the subject -- Taming the Paper Tiger comes to mind. There are people who've built entire careers on rescuing the paper pathetic. I know -- I've read the books and hired the people to no lasting avail.

So I'm drowning in paper here. And I'm thinking I need to buy a shredder and call to order a recycling box. And I'm dreaming of a paperless society.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cry for me, Argentina

Earlier this week, I wrote about the death of Will Koch, the CEO of Holiday World. The morning after his death, Will's mother Pat, who herself is a prominent fixture at the amusement park, was greeting guests at the guest of the park as she does every other day. Several news articles and Facebook updates encouraged people to have fun in tribute to Will, indicating he wouldn't want people standing around being sad.

I thought this would be a time to let my family and friends know that when it's my time to go, I hope you'll gather in groups and cry. No disrespect to Will Koch, but I'd like there to be a run on Kleenex when I die.

Maybe it's the Leo in me that craves the attention. Maybe it's the approval-seeking first born in me that wants to know that I mattered enough to people that news of my demise would leave them breathless and teary-eyed.

So, yes, please do cry for me Argentina -- and Indiana and Ohio. Commence with the wailing and the "I can't believe its."

Now, don't go carrying on for months on end. I kind of like the idea of a week-long shiva. Seven days of grief and mourning. Certainly, in that time I would hope that some slivers of sunlight and laughter peek through -- stories of silliness and laughter, generosity and caring that I brought to someone's life.

But when I'm gone (and for the record, I don't intend to go anywhere anytime soon), go ahead and have a big ol' cry. I'm not much of a crier myself, but hopefully my family and friends can do for me what I don't do for myself. So please, cry. Sob. Blubber. Boohoo. Weep.

And when you do, I'll be looking down from heaven (I hope!), smiling.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Let's play...

..."What in the World Wednesday" over at the 4th Frog Facebook page.

I have to confess that I'm having a hard time coming up with pics that I think will stump people. Then I had a "scathingly brilliant idea" -- anyone watched "The Trouble with Angels?" I'll accept submissions for "What in the World Wednesday." Simply take a mystery shot and an answer shot and e-mail them to me at 4thfrog70 at gmail dot com.

Have fun with it, but keep it G or PG rated, please. (I won't put up anything that's not, but I don't want to burn my little eyes looking at racy pictures!)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Roughing it

We sold my car today. It was my idea and it took Mike a little while to warm up to it, but we did it. It was a great car -- a black Honda Pilot with lots of bells and whistles. I'd imagined driving it until the wheels fell off or one of our children wrecked it in their early teenage driving years.

But truth is, it is serving us better by selling it because we're going to take part of our profit, buy an older car that will make do for a couple of years, and use the rest of the profit to pay off some bills that are hanging over our heads. Dave Ramsey would be so proud.

We sold it to CarMax, who gave us a decent offer, especially considering there were several smallish, but bothersome, things we would have had to fix ourselves before we could sell it to a private party. Once we had the tidy check from CarMax in hand, we drove right over to the bank to deposit it. That's where's things got a little inconvenient.

Because of the size of the check, they put a hold on it. Half will be available on Thursday. If they can get clearance from the CarMax bank, we could have access to all of the money yet this week. If not, it will be next week before we get access to it all. Which is ok. We only intend to spend 1/2 on a replacement car.

But that still means at least two days of being a 1-car, 5-person, 3-camp, 2-job, 2-residences family. And that feels like we're roughing it.

It took us about 20 minutes to figure out how to manage tennis camp, volleyball camp and Mike's business meeting tonight. Then, after he left, I realized I hadn't thawed out anything for dinner and I didn't have a car to go to the store. Technically, I could have walked to the grocery store. But I would have had to take the boys with me and I just wasn't up to the whining and complaining about the heat -- from me or them. Thank God for Donato's coupons!

I haven't even begun to think about how everyone will get where they are going tomorrow. Instead, I'm focusing on finding a car that Mike and I can both agree on. My standards are much lower than his, but I realize this is kind of an ego thing for him, even though I'm going to be the one driving it.

Even so, I'm giving us until Sunday to find and fall in love (or at least in like) with something. Because I can already tell we were not cut out to be a one-car family. Either that or maybe I'll give Mike a bus pass for Father's Day.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sucker punched

I woke up this morning, wandered downstairs to get some clothes out of the dryer and -- like all good cyber addicts do first thing -- turned on the computer to check Facebook. What I read there seemed unbelievable.

This was the update from Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, a fabulous amusement/water park in Southern Indiana:

We are heartbroken. Our beloved leader, Will Koch, passed away last night. We believe it was due to his Type 1 diabetes. Please say a prayer for the family and for all of us here at the park. He was so much more than a boss, he was a dear, sweet friend. As we know he would have wanted, the park will be open today and we'll all try our best to smile and provide wonderful memories to the families who visit us. And also as Will wanted, the park will remain owned and operated by his family.

I'm not one to get all upset by celebrity deaths (although I will admit to watching Princess Di's funeral) and I know that Will Koch (pronounced "cook") was not your Hollywood-type celeb. But I have to say that the news of his passing was like a sucker punch. I didn't see it coming and it left me feeling for a moment as if I couldn't breathe.

Will Koch was not a friend of mine. I may have met him once at the Grand Opening gala for the Children's Museum of Evansville, which was started by my mother-in-law and is named for the Koch family. But I'm saddened by the news of his death. I think it speaks volumes about the spirit and the atmosphere of Holiday World that I -- and the more than 500 people who've already left a comment on Holiday World's Facebook page -- feel like we've lost one of our own.

If you've never been to Holiday World, let me tell you that it is one of the cleanest, most family-friendly destinations you could ask for. The gate fees and concession prices are reasonable. Soft drinks and sunscreen are free in unlimited quantities. It's home to three of the country's top-ranked wooden roller coasters.

On any given day, you could find Will and his mother Pat out in the park, in their Holiday World polos and khaki shorts, doing whatever needed to be done -- sweeping the ground, pitching in at Kringle's Cafe or filling in for a bass player who had to go graduate from high school, as Will is doing in this video (he's the one on the right):


Indeed, it's a sad day at Holiday World and in the hearts of everyone who has ever created lasting memories there. God bless you, Will.

Well, I'll be...

Go here.

See anything interesting?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Half

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Dishwasher half-loaded (or unloaded?)

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Toes half-painted

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Lawn half-mowed

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Flowers half-dead

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Black bean burger half-eaten

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Heart FULL!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Oh my achin' frags

Mommy's Idea

Today's Friday Fragments are brought to you by Mrs. 4444s and copious amounts of ibuprofen.

I returned to the gym yesterday after being away for nearly 3 weeks. I started out easy -- 30 minutes on the treadmill. 20 at a brisk walk and 10 at a jog. It felt so GOOD to be exercising again and I was surprised at how easily I could keep pace. All in all, I was pretty pleased with myself. Fast forward 4 hours during which I had basically been sitting -- in meetings and in the car -- and YEEOOOWWWCH! I leaned over to put sunscreen on Robbie at the pool and wasn't sure I was going to be able to straighten up again. After 12+ hours with a heating pad, a hot shower and a few well-timed doses of ibuprofen, I'm upright again. A little tender, but happy to be mostly mobile.

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All my time on the couch was not wasted. I've gotten caught up on all my DVR'd shows -- the last episode of Glee, a couple of episodes of Chopped, and the 2-hour season opener of The Next Food Network Star. I don't like to cook, but I love watching other people cook!

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Thanks to my gig as a blogger for the Indiana Dept. of Tourism, I've gotten invites for 3 "fam tours," which means I'll get to go (with a guest or my family) for two-day trips to a couple of very cool Indiana locales...FREE! Woohoo! Better get out my calendar and start scheduling the fun.

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I was so looking forward to the end of school so that we could embrace the simple life. Who was I kidding? Simple is dropping them off at 7:15am and picking them up at 2:30pm. Driving to 3 different camps, each with a different start and end time, is NOT simple. We're 14 days into summer vacation and I'm already wondering how many days until school starts.

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To my neighbors who might be reading this, Annie will mow the backyard today. I swear.

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I am falling behind in my blog reading. I'm thinking about making a schedule of which blogs I'll read on which days. Does that seem a little crazy? The good news is that I'm behind on reading blogs because I've been reading actual books! Just finished Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult. I'll give it an A-. It was a little long. 150 pages fewer would have been perfect.

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If you haven't checked out the 4th Frog Facebook page, you should. We're having lots of fun over there. Up for discussion right now: Name 3 things you can do with a paperclip besides clip paper.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Words to live by

This week has been one of those crazy schedule weeks with each kid coming and going to different places at different times. In the early afternoon, I have a period of about 90 minutes that I have to kill and Charlie's basketball camp is too far from home and my office to justify going all the way to either place and then coming back to get him.

So being the outgoing (read: pushy) person that I am, I invited myself over to a friend's house for those 90 minutes yesterday. She's got the most awesome front porch and a whole slew of rocking chairs on it just asking to be sat in and enjoyed.

Being the sweet (read: sweet, really) person she is, she said "come on over!" and even had homemade chocolate frosted brownies for Robbie and I to enjoy.

One of the great things about hanging out at Ann's house is that it is totally kid-tested and kid- approved. She and her husband have raised 10 children, ranging in age from 35 to almost 11. So I don't worry (much) about my kids leaving fingerprints or dropping crumbs or whatever.

Yesterday while we were visiting, one of Ann's daughters -- who happened to be my kids' summer sitter for the past couple of years -- came home on her lunch break.

"Did you fix me lunch?," she asked her mom.

"Yep," said Ann. "Open the fridge. There's some cottage cheese in there. Lunch."

LOVE it!

But when the same daughter was leaving to go back to work, Ann called to her "Make good choices! Be a blessing!"

I thought that was a great send off and told Ann I thought so. When I was growing up, my dad would drop us off at school and always tell us "Say a prayer for me, I'll say one for you." I still remember that and I'm sure Ann's kids will remember her admonitions as well.

She said she's always said that to the kids, along with "Be a gentleman," when the boys would go off on a date. (Her son apparently hated that because he said he always had to think of her saying that while he was out with his girlfriend. My friend is no dummy!).

After we'd left her house, I posted a message on Ann's Facebook page, thanking her for her hospitality. She replied:

"You are welcome to come and rock anytime! Make good choices. Be a blessing."

Now, whether she said that to me tongue-in-cheek, I'm not sure. But it did give me a bit of pause.

"Make good choices. Be a blessing."

Certainly they are good words of guidance from a mother to her children. But as I thought about them, they are equally -- and maybe more -- powerful from one friend to another, from wife to her husband (or vice versa). We all ought to be about encouraging one another to choose good over evil, to live our lives so that our actions are a blessing to those around us.

Besides, who I am to argue with a woman who has 10 kids?

Then and now

Tonight as I tucked Charlie into bed, he was a little weepy. I asked him if he wanted me to sing him the songs I used to sing when he was a baby. He indulged me and said "yes."

I started patting his back -- patting, not rubbing. None of my kids like to have their backs rubbed. And I began to sing what I used to call my "love medley." It starts with "Jesus Loves the Little Children," then segue's into a song from a kid's music CD. The lyrics to that one go:

I love you so much, I love you so much,
I can't even tell you how much I love you.

You're special to me, you're special to me,
I'm lucky to have you as part of my life.

I love you, I love you, I love you.

I love you, I love you, I love you.

I love you so much, I love you so much. I can't even tell you how much. I. love. you.


After that one comes the Barney song. You know, "I love you, you love me..."

The moment with Charlie tonight was a comforting snapshot of "then."

The "now?" Not as comforting!

We went to my brother's graduation party last weekend. Charlie wanted to know if high school kids would be there. When I said yes, he got more specific. Would high school girls be there? Yes, Charlie.

So this was the scene for most of the evening:

Charlie court

When the audience wasn't quite as captive, Charlie came outside to where I was talking with my sister Shelley, who was holding her son one-year-old son Josh.

"Aunt Shell?" interrupted Charlie. "Can I take Josh inside?"

"Why do you need to take Josh inside," I asked.

"Well," he said without shame or hesitation, "the high school girls like babies and they think he's cute. So I want to take him in there with me."

I couldn't believe it. My not-yet-11-year-old son was using his cousin as a chick magnet! I'm gonna have to keep an eye on that kid. Anyone know a good all-boys school?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Not your typical blue hair

Yesterday, Mike turned 39. All day long he made a point of saying to anyone who called to wish him a happy birthday, "I can' t believe I'm 39, but Amy will be 40 in August!"

Yep. In just about 10 weeks, I'll enter a new decade of my life. I've been giving some thought as to how I'd like to mark the occasion. Back in February (when I was still feeling Go Red invincible), I talked about doing a triathalon. Calmer heads -- and too much chips and salsa -- have prevailed and that is not going to happen.

Then I went back to my idea about getting a tattoo. But I don't really know what I would have tattooed on my body. I could do the frog from my blog header, but what if blogging turns out to be like macrame? All the rage for a while until nobody's doing it anymore and one day I look down at my hip and wonder why there's an amphibian on it.

But there is something that I've been saying since before I was 30 that I'm going to do when I turn 40. I was reminded of it when Annie was talking about Katy Perry at the MTV Music Awards yesterday:

KPbluehair

Katy's do was courtesy of a wig. But ever since I saw a gorgeous shade of blue in the haircolor swatch book about 12 years ago, I've said that I want to dye my hair bright blue for my 40th birthday. My hair stylist at the time would have none of it. A months ago I talked to my current stylist who tried to tell me how hard it would be.

"We'd have to bleach your hair first and then do the blue," she said, not acting the least bit interested in doing so.

For her part, Annie is mortified at the idea. But I am intrigued.

I think it would be a great little satirical jab at getting older -- you know, becoming a "blue hair." Of course, I'd have to get a very sassy short haircut to carry off the blue. (My sisters are reaching for their cell phones and computers to talk me out of it as I type.)

I'm sure there are other ways to celebrate milestone birthdays, but this one really appeals to me. And it would happen to coincide with the start of the Indianapolis Colts season, so it would be a two-for-one deal. But I am open to other suggestions.

I have until late August to decide...and to find a stylist who will do it for me.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pros and cons of hosting a garage sale

PROS
  1. Squeezes a little extra dough out of the junk in your house.
  2. Gives the kids something fun to do that doesn't involve a video game.
  3. Lets Mom unload the toys/video games/movies that annoy her the most.
  4. Allows the kids to practice their salesmanship. "Hey Mister, want to buy this stuffed pug dog? It's really cute!"
  5. Gives you the chance to chat it up with the neighbors and anyone else who might stop by.

CONS
  1. Turns the inside of the house into a disaster zone, as stuff is unearthed from its resting place, disturbing the other, non-sale stuff around it.
  2. Makes you suspicious of anyone speaking Spanish or Chinese because you just KNOW they are saying "This lady is a sucker!"
  3. Gives the neighbors a glimpse of the chaos that generally reigns in secret inside the house.
  4. Requisite donuts for the kids on a garage sale day eat into the profits.
  5. After-sale regrets when you find other items that make you think, "Oh! I should have put that out!"
  6. You finally find out what your husband really thinks of your stuff. "Don't sell that purse/shirt/picture! I like that!"
All in all, we made about $75 in the 2 hours we were "open" before it started raining.

One handy tip I'll pass along is to post lists of your for-sale items on Facebook. When it's all said and done, I'll make about another $75 selling to people who saw something on Facebook and replied offering to buy it if it didn't go in the garage sale. Maybe next year, I'll skip the garage all together and just have a Facebook sale instead.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Confession

confessional

Bless me, Father, for I have strayed. It's been over two weeks since I've been to the gym.

The craziness of the last week of school, coupled with too many late nights sucked in by the allure of Facebook, and I found myself content to fall into the delusion of "I need my sleep; I'll go tomorrow."

But that's not all. I indulged in the empty, but delicious, calories of white wine last weekend, in a manner that can only be described as gluttonous. I ate hummus and tabouli on garlic bagel chips with reckless abandon. I've cozied up to bowls of Frosted Mini Wheats in bed at night.

I knew I was in trouble when I found myself in the Hardee's drive-thru ordering a sausage and egg biscuit yesterday. Oh, I knew when I was doing it that it was wrong. But it felt so right!

As all transgressions do, mine are leaving their mark on me -- in the form of oily skin, puffy fingers, and low levels of energy.

I am heartily sorry. I will choose to do good, and eat food in its natural, healthy state. I will say "get behind me, chips and salsa!" and "no" to the siren song of Free Donut Day tomorrow.

For my penance, I will sell all of my fat clothes in the garage sale on Saturday, so I will have no choice to slip back into them. And I will humbly submit myself to the rigors of Denzel.

Amen.