Thursday, December 27, 2007

Images from Christmas

We survived our trip to Atlanta and had a lovely time once we got there. I've come to the conclusion that only crazy people get on airplanes 2 days before Christmas. It took us 12 hours to get from point A to point B. And really, only 96 minutes of that was flying in the air. The rest was driving, and waiting, and waiting some more.

But...we saw grass! green grass! Well, yellow grass, really - they are having a drought down there.

Daughter D. looked lovely in a beautiful Austrian dress, given to her by her Texas aunt:

Son D loved his gift from the "santa-aunties" (opened here, before we departed. I'm not crazy enough to bring a drum set on the airplane). However, earplugs were not included for the rest of us. : )

The cats loved the ornament-less tree. And they missed us. Actually, they missed their litter box. a lot. I'm finding little cat-poop presents deposited all over the house. Oh joy!

Bottom line - it's certainly worth the hassle to see husband D's entire family all together at the holidays. The kids had a blast with all their cousins.

But next time can we take the private jet? And avoid all that "snow/ice" stuff here in Wisconsin? That slippery stuff makes traveling a bit more complicated.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Public Service Announcement

Change your carbon monoxide detectors every five years.


Make sure you have two carbon monoxide detectors in your house. Even if it is a really small house.

Let's say you make the mistake of only having one detector. Let's say it somehow got to be 7 years old when you weren't looking. (maybe 8. It was purchased shortly after the birth of your first child, let's just say. And you can't believe that she is 8 either.)

Then, you will be sitting around one Winter Solstice morning at 7 am, opening your Solstice gifts (because you are flying elsewhere for Christmas and there is no way you are packing up a drum set.) Then, it will go off with the loudest noise known to man and will indicate, via a number that you don't really comprehend, that you have unacceptable levels of carbon monoxide in your house.

So, you will call the local fire station, thinking they'll say, "oh, don't worry. everything is fine. happens all the time." But what they will actually do is send a fire truck, an ambulance and a police car - all with lights flashing and sirens blaring (at 7 am) to eventually tell you that "oh, don't worry about it. everything is fine. happens all the time." You will have to explain to them the reason you have scattered wrapping paper and open presents all over the house three days before Christmas. You'll have to share that the reason for the 12 open wine bottles in your kitchen was a neighborhood Solstice party last night.

Who knew that after 5 years, a CO2 detector has accumulated so much of the stuff that it starts to think a normal amount is toxic? Not me. Who knew that you need 2 detectors just so you can have a back up reading if one goes wacky? not me.

But now I do.

And Santa may be bringing a pair of brand new matching detectors in our stockings this year, just maybe.

Monday, December 17, 2007

No wonder we're so gung-ho on public schools...

Another day, another magazine ranking of Madison as a "best place to ______" (insert: live, eat, bike, run, be organic or go to school,...depending on the publication)

This time it's Forbes and we're #2.

Personally, I don't put much weight in these rankings. I'm convinced the magazine people come to Madison in late June, (when it is beautiful) fall in love with the place, and then insert it into whatever article they are writing.

And frankly, Madison public schools, although great, have a lot of challenges and remain underfunded. The student population gets needier and needier each year as those with money flee to the suburbs. If this is the best in the nation, I daresay we are all in trouble.

But according to Forbes, husband D. and I were educated in the #1 area for education, and are raising our children in the #2 area for education. So at least that explains why we feel so strongly about public education? maybe?

I also wonder if they took out the suburbs (or "surrounding areas") from their analysis if DC and Madison would have fared so well.

At least it gives the local news something to talk about.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Talkin' Baseball

Son D. keeps picking up the newspaper: "Look, Mama! The Red Sox!" He's excited to see my favorite baseball team in our local paper.

I don't have the heart to tell him why Gagne (formerly of the Red Sox, now of the Brewers) is on the front page (the *entire* front page) of our local paper.

Husband D. was a competitive cyclist, back in the long-ago days of no-kids, no-wife, no-mortgage. Back when he could ride his bike for 3-4 hours/day and no one thought that was an unproductive use of time.

If we had a dollar for every time someone mentioned to him how "Cycling is riddled with illegal drug use," we'd be rich. Time and again, he'd assert that so many cyclists have been caught because they are actually tested. For everything - drugs, caffeine levels, you name it. Football? Baseball? They look the other way. They hand out painkillers on the airline flight home. Needless to say, he wasn't too surprised by any of the news yesterday.

....but am I a bad person if I was secretly happy to see Clemen's name on the list?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


What a difference a year makes. Last year, we had almost no snow in December. This year, it's all-snow, all-the-time. We've got 20 inches of snow on the ground right now.

I never cease to be amazed by the ability of people in Wisconsin to deal with snow. We had 6 inches of snow yesterday, but everything went on as normal. Both kids went to school. Both parents went to work. Back in DC, 6 inches of snow would have stopped all activities for at least a day.

We are off to the Capitol building today to look at the CHRISTMAS TREE. I put that in all caps because there is a group here who wants to call it the 'holiday tree.' And they are making it a big issue. I'm all for respect for all religions and would welcome any other symbols in the Capitol or anywhere.

But making an issue out of what to call something makes me a little crazy. Our world has so many REAL problems, can we just ignore some of these little ones? Sure, maybe it isn't the most politically correct thing in the world - but is it really hurting anyone?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Milk and Cookies

We got our Christmas Tree today. A beautiful fragrant Balsam. The best smelling tree of the bunch.

What we didn't realize, however, was that the scent of balsam must be very close to the sent of catnip. The kittens immediately began climbing the tree. We haven't dared put any lights or ornaments on the thing. Hopefully the novelty will wear off...but just to be safe, the kids spent the afternoon making homemade paper, completely unbreakable ornaments.

This is the week of holiday concerts and pageants. Son D's preschool has a concert on Wednesday night and Daughter D. is in the church pageant next Sunday. Much rehearsing took place today.

My favorite? Son D's rendition on "Angels we have Heard on High." He finishes each verse with:


And I am overcome with an urge for a chocolate cookie. With a creamy filling.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Internet and Obama

We lost internet connectivity for almost 4 days (on and off.) You have no idea how much you use the internet until it is gone. But it is working now.

Daughter D. asked me how to spell a word earlier tonight and I told her we couldn't look it up because the internet was down. She accepted that with no questions.

It is time for my annual minuscule political contribution of the year. Oddly, I have started basing my contributions on whatever cause Daughter D. is most passionate about at the time. This year - it's all Obama - all the time. (Is she watching Oprah when I'm not paying attention?)

She is adamant that we need a change. She pointed to a book of US Presidents and said, "They are all white men. We need a change." I suggested she may want to learn more about Hillary, but she felt that wasn't enough of a change. She pointed out that her husband was already President, and moreover, "Chelsea already got to live in the White House 2 times. It wouldn't be fair for her to live there again." (In her world, daughters live with their mothers forever.)

She's back to reading MLK biographies again. She's insistent that we need a leader who is somehow different than the people in power now. She also told me that "we need a change in how people get to be rich or poor." She concluded that "An African-American president would give lots of poor people hope and everyone would have to listen to him because he is the President."

We watched the Republican debates together. She took one look at the stage and said, "They all look the same. They aren't about change."

From her mouth to my credit card. I made a (very small) donation to Barak Obama.

On the internet, of course.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

6 inches of snow. kids in heaven.

We spent the morning building an igloo. (or part of an igloo, I suppose.)