Reflections

Attention Snow Scrooges 2.0

Winter  Fun in Wisconsin

Spring in Wisconsin

It’s that time of year again when the snow scrooges start to howl. The first day of spring has come and gone, but the cold weather, and sometimes snow, is still hanging on. It’s like this nearly every year and yet every year we’re surprised it’s still cold and snowy in March and April. And every year the complaining about the ice, snow and cold temperatures goes on and on. In 2010 I posted about snow scrooges, begging them to try changing their point of view. To try seeing our very long winter as something beautiful. I will try again. Here goes nothing.

Another family member came to stay with us in March. He came during March to experience winter and snow. Something he had never seen before. We introduced him to all things Wisconsin- cheese, booyah, fish fries, beer, hockey, and of course, SNOW. Do you know what he enjoyed most? Snow! Playing, walking, sledding, driving, doing anything in the snow.

I wish I could capture his experience and have all the snow scrooges see it through new eyes again. See it like they did as children when they woke up to a snow day and absolutely could not get their snow-pants on fast enough. In fact, I challenge you to spend one day with an open mind. Can you do it? Can you find the beauty and wonder in our Wisconsin “spring”? Try it for a day and leave me a comment letting me know how it went. I’m willing to bet you’ll enjoy it. 😉

We’ve moved! Check out our new site, Life as a Field Trip and see what else we’re up to!

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Categories: Activities, Reflections | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Make it a Pippi Longstocking Day


Hang from tree branches, sleep with you feet on your pillow, shake things up. Make it a Pippi Longstocking kind of day!

Categories: Motivation, Reflections | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Work in Progress

I didn’t have a plan in place when I started blogging. I mostly started posting to keep our families and friends connected across the continent. I wanted an opportunity to write creatively and I wanted to document our life in some way. I don’t push myself to write a blog post every day or even every week, but when I do, I enjoy it. While I was connecting, writing and documenting I picked up a small audience.

I recently signed up for two online classes taught by Kathy Cano-Murillo, also known as The Crafty Chica. I recently completed the short, but jam-packed Get Motivated! 23 Ways to Turn Your Ideas into Action! class. From day one my creativity started flowing (and flowing and flowing). I’ve been motivated to do more and I’ve been loving it. I started thinking differently about my blog. I started to think maybe my small following could grow. I’m still not sure.

I’m about to begin my second Crafty Chica class, How to Shine Online: Tips to Make Your Blog Sparkle. When I signed up in July, I intended to apply what I learned in this class to my online presence at work, but with each new Get Motivated class I continued to think I wanted to do more with my own blog. I’m still not sure what, but class starts Wednesday. I’m guessing you’ll start seeing more posts and changes soon 😉 Stay tuned!

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The Day I Nearly Killed Splashy

Splashy looks okay now, right?!

This falls under the “Terrible Secrets Mothers Keep” heading. I had a ton of things to do before work on a Monday morning, but I waited far too long to clean my son’s Betta fish tank so it had to be done. Let me be honest. I secretly hate Splashy. Well, not hate him, more resent him. It was a gift from my husband for our son. It was a curse for me. Paolo’s too young to clean the tank alone and he needs constant reminding to feed the damn fish. Which means the work falls on my shoulders. We were told it would only live about three months by the salesperson. I’ve been counting (down) on that. However, it turns out, one year later, Splashy is the bionic fish that just won’t die of natural causes.

I had already delayed cleaning his little tank as long as I could so I crammed it in after watering the garden and before my shower. As I was pouring half of the water out of the tank before putting Splashy in a temporary home, I looked away briefly. A nano-second. When I looked back in the tank…Splashy was gone. I tripled checked. Yep, he was still missing. With a clenched stomach I looked in the sink. My stomach unclenched and SANK. Splashy was laying perilously close to the pop-up drain. I couldn’t close it or I’d smoosh his fin. I couldn’t try to pick him up because, well, I’m a wimp. I didn’t want to try getting him with a fish net because he might slide down the drain. I made an executive decision. I would not touch that fish, but I took a deep breath and jumped into action. I grabbed the net and tried to scoop him up without pushing him down the drain. Luckily for both of us, he flopped away from the drain. I quickly closed the drain and put some water in the sink. He was definitely listing to one side and not looking very splashy. Images of a brain-damaged Betta kept flashing through my mind, not to mention the sad little face my son would be wearing when he found out I killed his pal.

I tried my hardest to talk Splashy into jumping in the net, but he was having none of it. In the end, it took two nets and some good wrist action to get him in a net and safely back in the bowl. So now he’s back in a clean fish tank and my heart is beating normally again. He’s not very active. I can’t tell if he’s traumatized, brain-damaged or still recovering from the shock. Time will tell.

All that drama for a fish I wish was dead. I won’t tell if you don’t…

Categories: Family, Motherhood, Reflections | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

Language of Food

pan de muerto

For the past nine years I’ve hosted a bilingual conversation group as part of my job. It started somewhat accidentally. While I was taking a Spanish class a local technical college, the teacher organized a class visit to an ESL class. We met new people, spoke in Spanish for a while, then in English. We brought food to share. It was something of a language potluck. My teacher, Trish, worked with me on organizing a few opportunities like this outside of class at our public library.  It was such a great idea I thought it would make a great library program. And so it started.

Tonight will be the last Conversation Group at the library where the program began. The group will continue at another library, but as I prepare a Rosca de Reyes for tonight’s program, I’m becoming nostalgic. It occurs to me that this group has been as much about food as it has been about learning a language.

Rosca de Reyes

Because ready-made Mexican foods aren’t available here or are fairly expensive, I’ve taught myself how to make many of them for this group. I’ve made flan, Mexican hot chocolate, Pan de Muerto, horchata and multiple kinds of salsa. I even tried making tortillas (don’t ask). Group members have made and brought foods like atole and tamales. One year, I brought sugar skulls carefully packed and hand-carried back from Mexico. We’ve met at various Mexican restaurants. Through food we’ve been able to learn something about other countries and their cuisine and customs.

Mexican hot chocolate

It’s been a fun journey. I plan to continue learning and preparing new dishes as I continue hosting the program in a different place, but I’ll always remember the library where it all started…this sharing of food and language.

Categories: Food, Recipes, Reflections, Spanish | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Great (Pregnancy) Expectations

We all have them. While we’re pregnant we dream of what our children will be and do. They’ll be smart, funny, and athletically gifted, of course. My expectations, not surprising, had to do with books and reading. I envisioned as loyally attending every baby story time together, happily finger rhyming and gurgling. We went maybe twice. It turns out getting a baby fed, bathed, dressed, into a car seat, and then into a library is a lot to accomplish on one’s morning off. I envisioned my child loving Winnie the Pooh (classic Pooh, of course) as much I do. Nope. My child wasn’t even mildly interested in any version of Pooh. Same for Richard Scarry. He likes Scarry books, but not like I loved them. I still love them. How can you not love the Pie Rats?

Some expectations have been fulfilled.  Some time ago we started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. We haven’t gotten far in book, but there was interest. My hopes, my expectations were coming true! Then last week we watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as a family. “Avoltamore” or Voldemort, the troll (who wouldn’t love a mucus covered magic wand?) and all things magic had him hooked. A few days later we watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets a few days later. He was further addicted. Now I’ll get the book out again and start reading it to him again. I’ll fan the Potter flames a little while I wait for him to be old enough to watch more of the movies.

These days we get to story-time at our library just about every week. He’s a reader, a book lover and a story-teller. He loves books and being read to. I can’t ask for more than that. Great expectations, indeed.

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“Your true unvarnished self is what’s really wanted”

I spent a sliver of today reading Anna Quindlen’s Being Perfect in a rocking recliner while listening to the rain. The book appeared to me one day while I was hunting down customer requests at work. It practically jumped out at me. I’ve looked at it, slim little piece that it is, for weeks, but I hadn’t cracked it open yet. Today when I woke up from a rare and precious nap before Paolo did, I started to clean up and sort mail. While cleaning, I rediscovered this book. I stopped all my straightening (more striving for perfection) and began to read while it rained. The further I read, the more I realized the fortunate timing. Two of my friends and I have just started reading The Happiness Project together. Though we live quite far apart from each other we will discuss the book and our own project during three-way calls and emails. Being Perfect got me thinking that not striving for perfection should definitely be part of my own Happiness Project.

I don’t think I fit the model of one striving for perfection. I have never had goals like climbing Mt Everest, becoming CEO by age 35, or writing the great american novel. But I have always worked to be perfect in everything I do. The small things. I showed up early for everything (before child), I got good grades, I studied hard, I tried very hard to look and act like I was supposed to. In short, I tried very hard to be Elizabeth Wakefield in the Sweet Valley High books. And I was worried all the time.Not very fun or happy.

Wig 'imperfectly' sliding back at a perfectly chaotic party.

35 years into life and I’m finally realizing that trying to be perfect does not make me happy (and is impossible to achieve). In the interest of being happy without being perfect, I’ll stop agonizing over the perfect ending and wrap this up abruptly. The End.

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This Midwestern Life

There’ll be no international travel this week. No cutting edge fusion cuisine, clubbing or Broadway shows. No, this is a glimpse into my very ordinary, perfectly lovely Midwestern life.

“Mom, let’s get up!” and he’s off and literally running. I am not. I lie in bed trying to wake up and focus on getting out of bed. Once I’m out of bed and the coffee is brewing, making kamut waffles is first on the list. Then it’s reviewing recipes, making a grocery list, drinking coffee and a quick browse of Facebook to see how the end of the world went for everyone (pretty uneventful as far as Raptures go). Hubby puttering around in the background until he heads out to the gym. Paolo and I plant wild flower seeds in a few pots and water plants and patches of dirt. I weed the garden while Paolo digs for worms and rolly pollies (isopods). Bring in the worms and add them to our now dead pet worms. Water them, add a few coffee grounds and cross our fingers for this batch of pet worms.
Shower and cleanup and then it’s off to the grocery store where I challenge Paolo to use 10 Spanish words or phrases spontaneously (in exchange for a chocolate milk). Paolo finds this challenge amusing and we speak Spanish for most of our shopping trip. I splurge and buy frambuesas and rice chips (do they taste like rice, Mom?) for the ride home. At home, I begin preparing for “once a week cooking” which turns out to be more like ‘once a week preparing to cook’, but the spaghetti noodles are cooked, the chicken is marinating, more chicken is chopped, asparagus is cut up and many of the before mentioned foods are frozen and ready to be defrosted and assembled for a weeknight meal. Paolo and Dad grill and play outside in this rare sunny, warm weather. Lunch and then a nap? Nope. Put a load of laundry in. Back outside to bring things to the garage and get things a little organized. Back inside to brew some tea and set it out on the patio to make sun tea. Outside again where Paolo plays golf (why would any toy manufacturer make kids golf balls GREEN?)’ rides his scooter, then his bike, and more golf, which is really more like baseball with a golf club than golf…at this point I am so exhausted that out of sheer desperation to sit down I suggest we walk over to Zesty’s for the flavor of the day. A quick dose of his asthma inhaler and then a pleasant walk over in the sun past a dandelion patch and kids on their skateboards. 15 blessed minutes sitting down with a Seroogys Mint Meltaway sundae and drippy, melty conversation with my son.

It’s off to my parents’ house where I finally collapse at the kitchen table and tag my mom.  I’m remembering 87 things I forgot we did as I wrap this up, but I’m too tired to add them. It may not be sophisticated, classy or dazzling, but for me, This Midwestern Life is perfect.

Categories: Motherhood, Reflections | 2 Comments

I didn’t speak up

My grandfather was a flawed man, but a man with great heart and dedication. He served in the Navy in the Pacific Theater during World War II and then in the Merchant Marines.  After the war, he hopped trains, riding across the country and traveled by barge up and down the Mississippi. He eventually became an iron worker, working out of Local Union #111 in Rock Island, IL. This man, who looms large in my childhood memories, experienced many unjust labor practices and was dedicated to working towards fair treatment for workers. He served passionately in various union positions.  After retirement, he served as apprenticeship coordinator in the 70s, actively working to get African-Americans in the union. He strongly supported them once they were in, during a time when it was not popular to do so. In the late 60s and 70s he also supported women who sought to join the union. He walked many picket lines, never crossing one, even when he was intentionally hit by an anti-labor driver while walking the picket line. He fought for the rights of all classes, races and religions, even serving on the Clinton (IA) Human Rights Commission in the 70s and running for State Representative twice in Iowa. He was a man who walked the walk. He stood up for what he believed in.

We are all flawed people, and we can all have great heart and dedication. Before we make rash decisions,  take a moment and remember my grandfather, and all those like him, that worked so tirelessly to get us where we are today. Let’s give them the respect and honor they earned and continue that tradition by treating one another with respect and dignity as we work through this challenging time.

Categories: Family, Reflections | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Seven Days of Packers

Tuesday's Packer Shirt

Born and raised in Green Bay, I’m a rarity. I was slow to become a Packers fan. In fact, it took 34 years for me to come around. I remember well the grumbling, but hardcore fans during the 80s. I have great memories of  the 1997 Superbowl. Over the years I sat companionably with my parents on Sundays and watch NFL commercials, but I never caught the fever.

Monday's Packer Shirt

 It recently occurred to me that I now have enough Packers shirts to wear one every day of the week. It’s rare that I’d need a Packers shirt for every day of the week, but here we are one week before the Superbowl. Now I live with two super fans, I work with THE super fan and the Pack is headed to the Superbowl.The planets have aligned. The impossible, the unthinkable, has happened.

Sunday's Packer Shirt

I am a fan.

Wednesday's Packer Shirt

Thursday's Packer Shirt

Categories: Activities, Reflections | Tags: , | 3 Comments

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