Monday, December 22, 2008

My son, the comedian

Yesterday, we "tried out" a new church. It was a really fun experience for me, other than the Sophia-nursery fiasco that happens anytime we go to any church.
There was lots of singing. Lots of music. So it was my kind of worship.
Well, the message was about finding joy in Jesus, instead of in the world (or something along those lines...I was kinda preoccupied with the beeper in my hands just wondering when they would have enough of Sophie's screaming and call me back to get her...). The pastor told a story about HW Longfellow which I'm going to have to look up, and another story that was familiar to me, thanks to those of you who forward me emails.
It's the story of a little girl who buys her brother a miracle for $1.11. Here's a link to just one of the many sites that share it (I'm sure they all have just a little different spin):
Anyway, it's a sweet, true story of how Dr. Carlton Armstrong gave this family a miracle to save their son/brother for $1.11.
Sean, ever the curious type (and skeptical this year, too), asked me when we got home, "Can you really buy a miracle for one dollar and 11 cents?" I said to him that it's really about what Jesus can do with any amount of money (or even none) to bring about miracles in people's lives. "
To which he says, "But you can buy Miracle Whip, right?"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Grown Up (but selfish) Christmas List

My list isn't quite as good as Amy (Grant)'s. But here's what I wish:

*No more lay-offs until after the holidays. Please. I don't think I can bear to see another friend leave right now.
*My kids have fun with the presents they will get
*My family and friends stay healthy in the next year
*No more drama in the Wibert clan (hahaha. That IS half the fun, I suppose)
*We have enough to share with others in the next year
*The economy will at least flatten instead of continuing its nose-dive
*I will stop worrying about it since I can't do anything, anyway
*Chip gets a more regular schedule soon
*People will come visit us (but give us warning so we can clean up the dump)
*Resolutions will come to outstanding issues, and be made to fix others
*To spend more time with others
*To sleep more regularly. More often, maybe, would be nice, too

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Whole New World

I had an experience yesterday that I can't stop thinking about. I honsetly am not sure WHAT to think of it, though.
I've lived a lot of years to have never had that kind of experience until now, and I'm just not sure how to feel about it.
Awed. Inspired. Scared. Really scared. Comforted. Angry (at myself). Shamed. Hopeful. Evangelical about thinking everyone should have the same experience at least once.
Suddenly my mind started going elsewhere with these thoughts, so I better get to the explanation...
So here's what happened. My darling daughter is addicted to swings. My handsome son loves to dress up in various costumes and play outside as a cowboy, robber, alien, superhero, pirate, or some combination of all of those. We thought it would be nice to go to one of the nice city parks instead of the decaying family park in the apartment complex. Sean got all dressed up in his costume, which today was some sort of cowboy bank robber business man, and off we went.
On a side note, I wish I had taken a picture so you could chuckle with me...cowboy hat, button-down maroon shirt, clip-on tie with bright orange/red/yellow flames, nice pants, and cowboy boots, with my backgammon game box as a briefcase.
We drove to our favorite park and found it filled up with softball games. Who knew that softball season in FL began in November...and was played on Sundays?!? We decided we should try a different park that might be less populated.
I had seen a park not far from our house that had lots of swings, so we headed that way. We drove past a soccer field filled with only hispanic players and on to the area of the park with the swings, that also happened to be the area with the basketball courts, where every player and onlooker was black. On a whole city block, we were the only white people around. And the other races were not "mixing".
I don't feel that I am prejudiced. The only neighbors that Sean and Sophie play with are black, and we love them. I just haven't had much exposure to being the minority. Ever. Growing up in small po-dunk town Michigan didn't afford me that opportunity. When minority races were around, it was always a mix of people/races/cultures. In Florida, there are apparently areas where it's not cool to mix. At least on their leisure time. Neighborhoods seem to be segregated. Sad, yet true.
Anyway, we get out of the car. We go to the playground (we did make Sean leave his toy gun behind in the car). I think it was kind of to prove to ourselves that we weren't scared and did belong, but I wonder how it looked to the others. We really didn't belong. I'm not sure we are welcome. I am now TOTALLY apprehensive. I am about the whitest person you'll ever meet, so obviously, we kinda stood out a little.
There were some children already playing on the equipment. And the first thing out of their little blessed mouths? "Wanna play?" "What's your name?" God bless the children. They don't care. They just want to meet new people and have some fun while their parents play their games.
We had a great time. Still I was nervous. Not because I was scared of others, but because I was scared of how they would perceive me. Was I stepping into their territory? Was it not good for us to walk in acting like we had every right to?
And here these children, Theresa, Lily, TayTay, Tayshara, KeKe, and Jevion just had the best time. Oh, and of course Sean and Sophie. It really was a nice park for kids! Chip pushed the merry-go-round, I pushed the swings - then we switched places. It was fun. The slides and the train were in there somewhere, too, but didn't require as much supervision!
I just wonder. If we all took the time to be the only one somewhere - the only white person, the only female, the only male, the only thirty-something, the only...whatever - would we feel as flippant about being the "majority"? Would we feel how it is in someone else's shoes and be more empathetic? I don't know. I don't know if I'll even repeat the experience (doesn't matter who you are, I'm not fond of my kids hearing those words or smelling those smells or seeing those, uhm, activities). And I'm kinda mad at myself even as I say that. But I just hope I keep the experience in my heart and realize that to many, I'm still the enemy. Maybe if I took more time to see life from other points of view, people would be more interested in mine...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

President Elect

Well, I'm happy for my friend Michael. I'm happy for the history that was made tonight in America. But I'm still not sure it's the right person for the job. I guess I have no choice but to give him a chance now.
I'm fairly certain that none of them really know the answers, so the fly-by-seat-of-our-pants legistlation that's been happening for the past 50 years will continue. And none of those old things will get fixed. And we'll go back to having silverbacked dollars (hahaha). And that everyone who says you should vote with your head and not your heart didn't follow their own advice. Because we all vote with our heart.
The feeling part of our brain will 99% of the time override our other parts. We don't think first. We feel first. So even if we think second, it's still probably not what we're gonna do. I don't care if he's for more taxes - he's a Republican. I don't care if he's GOOD friends with terrorists - he's NOT a Republican.
6 of one, 1/2 dozen of the other.
I applaud those who were brave enough to stick with their opinions and vote for "not the Big 2". I seriously had a moment in the booth when I had to move my pen back from voting for Alan Keyes. Perhaps they'll put him up to the Rep committee again in 2012 (or 2009 when they start campaigning) and I'll be able to vote for someone I believe in rather than just voting to cancel out someone else's vote. :-)
But at least we made a decision tonight.
The Nuge in '12. That's my vote. If we start campaigning today, maybe we can gather enough votes. With me?

Sunday, October 19, 2008


*I guess it's a good thing that my son's teacher loves him so much and thanked us for moving to FL so she could have the priviledge of having him in her class this year, but I would like to know...where is this awesome kid she talks about?!? Don't get me wrong, if he acts up, I'm glad it's at home, but really. Where is the consistency? Obviously I'm doing something wrong. SuperNanny, please help...

*Why am I falling apart at the young age I consider myself to be? I rode around Epcot and Hollywood Studios in a wheelchair because my foot hurt so bad, then my tooth ached so bad that it's still swollen a week later, and tonight at the bounce playground I jammed my knee. And my foot started acting up again. Gee Whiz!

*Why am I so NOT interested in sports? The Tampa Bay Rays (who ironically play in St. Pete) and the Bucs were both playing home games tonight and I should be excited, but really, who cares? In the grand scheme of things, what does this mean for my life? Is it just that we all need some sort of diversion? I guess I choose Sudoku and Facebook and Blogging, and sometimes Webkinz, instead.

*Why are sleeping kids just the most adorable, heart-melting things to look at ever?

*Why can't we all just get along? I actually have an answer to this one, but it's not so much an answer as just fact. It's still a question of why we weren't made to get along...

*Why do I feel like stockpiling goods? I think I maybe should not have read Alas, Babylon, even though I highly recommend it. That, and economic crisis and election that is not going to make anyone happy.

*Why am I both sad and excited that there's finally a chill in the Floridian air? Ah, fall. It's really here. But I did love the 90 degree days for the most part. But it's also nice to know that my electric bill will be at least half what it was last month. But no apple orchards and hay rides for me (although I did see a "Pumplin Patch" in town at the church we sometimes attend). But I hear that navel oranges are almost in season...the comparisons could go on forever, but just one more good will be nice to dig out the long-sleeved shirts and have a "new" wardrobe to wear to work without having to spend a cent!

Amy Grant Concert

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Now, I know there is seldom one lone reason why bad things happen to good countries, and there is plenty of blame to go a lot of places for our current state of economy (like doubling, tripling, quadrupling the min payments on credit cards, acquiring more debt than a country or a family can possibly repay, NAFTA, terrorism, dependence on foreign oil, [insert your gripe here], etc), but here's a new twist on things I hadn't heard.
It's at least good to hear another reason WHY, no matter who's to "blame". If we know what happened, we can quit blaming and fix the problem, right? BUT, perhaps someone who has already tried to fix it (a couple of times, and proactively, before it became a crisis) might be worth listening to, especially since he's more moderate than a bunch of us die-hard REPUBLICANS (did I just say a dirty word?!?) really feel comfortable with. Maybe there is something to this. Maybe it's something we should all research a bit more carefully (and even GOOGLE isn't always the best source, as the video suggests, but, hey, when actual media outlets that we've heard of besides FOX are reporting bad things about Democrats, it must be true, right? :-) ). Maybe we should all be more INDEPENDENT and not make snap decisions based on party affiliation.

And without further's the link, since I couldn't get it to embed correctly.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Christmas Card Update...

So...I had good intentions to send out Christmas cards last year, but I didn't get around to it. Life intervened a time or two around that time of year. After the first of the year, I was at a Hallmark store and found "Happy New Year 2008" cards on sale for 75% off and thought that would be a good way to redeem myself and send some out. They only had 1 pack, but I bought it, thinking I'd be at another Hallmark soon and get more. Well, I never found more, and then we were dealing with 4 months of negotiations with everyone and my brother (well at least conversations with him), and time got away from me. Then we moved, and I thought I would send them out as a funny as "Christmas in July" cards and an update with our address and everything, but I never seemed to have the time. I realized my good deal was about to go to waste, so a few weeks ago, I finally picked 18 people/families to send them to (sorry if you weren't one of them - I either didn't have your address or I keep in touch with you more often...or you're one of the 6 families who I just mailed to since I ran out of ink and stamps for that many and had to wait until payday) and got them out as "Happy New SCHOOL Year 2008" cards. :-) Aren't I clever?
Anyway, here's what I said. If you got a card, please skim through again - I've updated a few things (in purple); if you didn't get a card, I still love you and wanted you to know this stuff, too!

I mean – Happy New SCHOOL Year 2008. :-)

Ok, so I’m a little late with my 2007 Christmas cards…let’s just say I had a bit on my mind last Christmas. I apologize. Please don’t take us off your address list for this year’s cards (but maybe update the address…)!

So most of you now know that we are officially “The Florida Wiberts”. This week we even filled out our voter registration paperwork and finalized our car insurance info. Next we tackle license plates! Other than trying to cram 2,800 square feet of junk into a 1,200 square foot apartment, we are settling in nicely and enjoying it here. We and Goodwill have become good friends. We made daily donations for a while! The palm trees have a relaxing effect every day (at least it hasn’t worn off yet), the swimming is wonderful, and the hurricanes have skirted around us – so far – so we’re happy!

Changing my job location has had its challenging moments, being away from anyone who knows “what I do”, but I HOPE I’ve also proven adaptability, and I’m getting pretty good at phone, email, and instant messaging conversations. We also get some chances to “watch” each others’ computers with a thing called NetMeeting, so that’s helpful, too. I miss my friends, but it’s nice to know that I didn’t have to really “leave” them. The office I'm in is going through some changes and we'll be consolidating to one floor soon. I get an office - with a door and a window! (to the inner office) - that I will share with a very nice co-worker, and I am excited about the coming year and opportunities I may have to show my worth.

Chip was employed less than 2 weeks after we moved here, and it’s nice that he is finding his way at “The Happiest Place on Earth” (Disney). We all like the benefits, of course, and you can reap some of them too, if you come visit us – call for details!!, but it’s nice to see Chip feel like a valued employee again. It’s tough work - a lot to remember and it’s different for Chip to sit at a desk all day, and for 10 hours at a time, at that! – but he really does seem to enjoy it. I think once the schedule bids come up and he gets something a bit more family-friendly, he will feel more comfortable.

Sean is really enjoying his new school. There are only about 15 kids in his 2nd grade class at Walden Lake Elementary, so he’s getting more teacher attention, and also getting to know his classmates a bit better. He even was just named "Student of the Month" in his class for September for always being respectful and doing his best work and was told "how lucky" the class was to have him move to Florida, so we felt very proud of him. Sad to say we didn't get a bumper sticker, though. His new school is really great. They do some neat stuff there, even though the fundraisers from there and daycare are already in full force (I’ll try not to beg too often – promise!). Boy Scouts have an open house in a couple of weeks, so he’ll start that back up, too (started Sept 22 - the transfer was smooth and it's going to be fun...except Dad misses the first couple of camping trips). It’s even on Dad’s night off, so that’s great! We’ll have to work on planning to get the homework done a bit differently, though! Luckily, they send it home on Fridays so we can get a head start (I don’t know about you, but I think I turned out “fairly smart” without having homework until 5th grade. I think it’s getting to be a bit much!). Sean is enjoying anything about SPACE right now (we hope to visit Kennedy Space Center soon), and loves playing with his new friends KJ, Tyrus, Ty, Desiree, Kayla, and sometimes Dillan, Matteo, Austin, and Megan (when they aren’t fighting).

Sophie’s doing well, too. She’s not too fond of daycare when we drop her off or pick her up, but during the day she does fairly well, even though she doesn’t always nap well. She actually naps every day with one of the ladies, and the good news is - she babysits after hours!!!Considering she was never in that kind of setting before, and that we’ve had to move them to a second facility (the first one wouldn’t take part-time kids unless we paid full-time price!), I think she’s doing ok. There seems to be a lot of adult attention, and several kids her age, so she’s learning to adapt. Her big thing now is writing and drawing. On anything and everything. I was tired of cleaning walls, so I got out Sean’s easel the other day and that’s been about the only thing she’s played with since, but she likes her “babies” and her Fisher Price Little People and Dollhouse (that I was finally able to un-earth from her toy pile the other day when I was looking for more Goodwill and Lisa donations!). She has discovered the joy of board books, too, so we visit the library fairly often for new stories. She usually falls asleep best if she uses one as a pillow, too. Don’t ask me why. I think it could be reading by osmosis. She is working on potty training herself (no kidding! - I think she has some examples at daycare) and is singing her ABC's very well, which I hope to post on my YouTube account soon.
We're looking forward to Birthday Week around here next week. Sean and Sophie don't know it, but we're taking them to Disney World and staying for a couple of days. Trying to make up for the guilt for not having anyone we know around here to celebrate with, I guess.
We're going to the special "Mickey's Halloween Party" where the kids get to dress up and the park is open late and there is trick-or-treating, so I hope they have a great time. I think Chip and I are going to buy their costumes this week while they're in daycare before we go so that it's all ready and a total surprise when we get there in the evening.

So…while we miss all of you terribly, we really are doing well here. Glad to have money to pay the bills and to have had great luck with the area we found to live and to be hanging in there. We are still just a phone call, email, or webcam/Skype chat away, so feel free to check in on us when you have a moment. I try to be good about posting stuff at &, too – including videos. Please drop in there sometime and say hi (I really enjoy posting the pics and videos for you all to see), especially if the moments you have to catch up with us occur at, say, 4 am.

Much love ~ Chip, Katy, Sean, and Sophia, a.k.a. “The Florida Wiberts”

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A new experience

There are lots of things in life I've never experienced, and really have no desire to do so.
Things like car accidents and house fires and getting shot and terrorist attacks are things that I'm happy to be in the dark about. But I still worry about them. I think the fact that it could be ANY of us at any time was pointed out to me all too well today.

I must admit I got a bit obsessed with 9-11. The way everyone in those towers or in those planes or in the Pentagon were cared for, prayed for, was very special. The horror stories and the photos and the videos were horrific and still bring very strong emotions. I'm touched by the heroism and the horror. Even though I had no ties to any of those people, I have dreams - really - that I experience some of those moments.

So, even though the ACTUAL experience had virtually no physical effects on my life (other than the interruption of a normal work day), the process of scurrying down the stairwell at work today with the alarms blaring gave me an emotional surge that immediately brought that day 7 years ago to mind...and even if it weren't 9/11, I'm sure I would have still thought those thoughts, but the fact that it WAS 9/11 just gave me the creeps.

The real event was that in my 4-story building the elevator motor either overheated or caught fire (I'm sure I'll know more tomorrow) and we were evacuated for 2 hours.
Before we evacuated, we didn't notice any smells and most people thought it was a drill or some crazy person pulling a prank (even more creepy to think about on 9/11). But once the emergency vehicles arrived and the road was closed off and the hoses were uncoiled, we all started believing there might really be a problem.

Luckily it was around lunch time and the alarms went off early enough so that everyone was safe. But I hear there was smoke billowing throughout the building, and it smelled quite bad when we were allowed back in.

Who knows what tomorrow holds?
Today, I'm thinking of the families who were affected by 9/11, the people who jumped - thinking that was preferrable to burning up, those who survived and feel guilty, those who have the horrible smells, the sights, the sounds burned into paths in their brains, those who fought courageously but lost the battle, those who still fight courageously...and I'm feeling grateful to all of them. For what they have taught me.

And I'm feeling very thankful that today was no worse than smoke damage. And I'm hoping for "normalcy" tomorrow.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Train De-railed

Well, I was putting Sophia to bed and got a great idea for something to post, but that train of thought quickly de-railed when I got on the computer and decided to change my blog layout.
So...maybe it will come back to me tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fiction is powerful

I like reading books. I read a lot of them. Sometimes too many. I don't always remember every detail of every book I read because I have too much in real life to think about (unlike Chip, who can still keep all the Stephen King plotlines separate and repeat in detail), but I enjoy a good read.
A few years ago, an aunt got me "hooked" on Christian fiction by Karen Kingsbury ( She writes about tough topics (read: tear-jerking) a lot of the time, but it's good to have an excuse other than my pitiful life, right? :-)
Anyway, there's been a few series of her books dedicated to one family - the Baxters. I'm halfway through the "last" series. So...if any of you are behind me in reading, this post is about "Summer: Baxter family drama, Sunrise series #2". Read no further. Spoiler ahead. For the rest of you, I just finished writing this letter to the author:

I don't think I can even find the words I want to in order to thank you for Summer. I lost two babies to miscarriage in 1998, and it began a long process for me of healing through helping others who were hurting from similar losses. Through that process I have heard countless stories of the preciousness of life, but the one closest to my heart next to my own is the story of my aunt who gave birth to her precious baby girl, Kristy, over 25 years ago. Kristy with anencephaly. Kristy who changed many people's lives, through her very presence, and through the ministry of my aunt's story. (side note...Carol and Mimi and Diana and Pat and Cindy and Angie and Nicole and Renee and Missy and Kelly, and so many others whose stories touched me, along with those who wish to remain anonymous...all of you were in my thoughts and prayers during the reading of this book, too)
To be honest, when Ashley (the character in the book) started out praying for a miracle after her diagnosis, I was pretty annoyed. I know God is bigger than all of our problems, but I didn't want her miracle to happen. I wanted the pain. I wanted it so others could know that there was more to the pain. That complete joy of her few hours with Sarah. I also wanted it because I wanted people to know that you CAN live through something like that and come out with faith still in tact. That you CAN ask God the questions Ashley asked in the cemetary. That the miracles do happen, but not always in the way we want them to. Of course, it would be wonderful if parents could pray and the miracles you expect would happen, but when God has other plans for that baby than our earthly expectations, it's nice to know that it was all still a part of his wonderful (and scary!) plan for our lives. My faith journey wasn't as easy as Ashley's, but it's a different faith. Not a Santa-Claus faith anymore. And ten years later, although I still miss my babies and hurt that I haven't met them on earth, I feel blessed to have met the people I did and to know their stories and to have done my best to give others a place and a time to heal and remember and honor their babies.
I thank you for letting characters so close to your heart, and to your readers, go through something like this to help show that every life matters to God. A person's a person, no matter how small - we had that Dr. Seuss quote that was in your book on our "Walk to Remember" program every year. 2 cells, 8 cells, 4,000 cells. No matter how small.
Very powerful thing, fiction. I thank you for using it for good and the glory of God.

So I don't often spout my views on life because I'm not big on conflict, but I'm VERY VERY passionate about the fact that abortion kills life. I know. I didn't use my "right" and yet the life was still torn from me. I heard heartbeats. I saw toes and fingers. I felt LIFE. (see September 2007 posts for a picture)

A mother (A woman who conceives, gives birth to, or raises and nurtures a child is the definition I prefer, but you can find more that are politcally correct and sure to incite riot in those of us who "merely miscarried" if you search on your own) is a vessel, not someone with the RIGHT to destroy a baby for convenience - even if it is to spare the pain of having to deal with something - anything - that will be hard to deal with emotionally. I know you will all say, "what about in the case of medical necessity?" My answer - choose life whenever possible. I've heard that there aren't many truly medically necessary occasions, but I wouldn't want to be the one to choose between my child and my life. Most mothers I know would gladly give up their own life so that their child may live. If both are in danger, wouldn't a C-section be more prudent? I'd like to know more about the stats of the actual cases before I would say that an abortion is the only option and reason enough to make it legal and create all kinds of loopholes.
Killing a baby in the womb is not a RIGHT anyone has. It's not right for a boyfriend to stab his pregnant girlfriend and kill the baby. Why should it be ok for the girlfriend to choose that on her own? Who's rights are we protecting? A privilege, maybe. The privilege to kill without feeling entirely guilty because it's not illegal. Yeah, I suppose it's a privilege. But then maybe we could also have the privilege on the books of not having to obey the speed limit on the highway when you're late or in a hurry because it's more convenient. If the argument, "Whatever is best for you is the right decision" works for you...please consider other times that advice could be given and see if you would have the same answer: "It was best for me to drive home drunk because I didn't have a way to get back to my car the next day". "It felt best to me to go 50 in that school zone because I was late for a really important meeting (sorry about hitting your kid)." It was in my best interest to kill that guy - he was hurting my friend." (a side note...isn't it interesting that "Earl had to die" was pulled from radio play, but "Gunpowder and Lead" and it's clear 'pre-meditation' is played at least a few times a day?!? They're fun songs to listen to, but do they really inspire those kinds of actions and renegade justice? Who knows...I prefer to remain cautious and just listen to them in the privacy of my own home. I don't think Chip has anything to worry about...*smile). "It was really in my best interest to take Meth - I needed it to make it through the day." I could go on, but you're probably already not reading because you're mad at me.
Well, once every 10 years, I should probably make my opinion known. At least in this non-invasive forum that most people I know stopped reading long ago, anyway (thanks for being faithful Lana! Hope I didn't just make you a former reader!!).
Giving women the right to take lives out of their womb totally removes the right for me to grieve for, and love, and cherish my babies and to praise God for their brief existance, and for my friends to do the same. And I refuse to give THAT right away!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

tortillas and convenience stores

Kids say some pretty funny things. Over the last few days, I've had the pleasure of hearing a couple of good ones from my kids.

From Sean:
In these parts, there are a lot of "combo" stores with Shell gasoline and Circle K stores. I mean alot. Like I can think of 4 just in my town (2 are right across the street from each other for convenient entry/exit!) and I drive past a couple more on my way to work.
This one is just around the corner from our house...and around the other corner is daycare! (the price was down to $3.49 by the time I picked the kids up from daycare the day I snapped this picture - yay!)

So the other night, we're driving home from Tampa (yay Angie's housewarming party!) and I tell Sean I need to stop for gas.
He says, "Let's stop at that Shellcle K". I almost missed the exit I was laughing so hard! Very clever, that one.

From Sophie:
Sophia's getting pretty good at saying words and phrases and repeating new words as you say them to her. She was in the kitchen "helping" me make dinner tonight and I asked her if she wanted a tortilla. She said, "Sophia!"

I didn't cook her up for dinner, but she didn't seem to mind the tortilla chips instead...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

One Year Ago...

Mom and Fred were just about to leave and go back to New York (or maybe they had just left?!?), we were still in Michigan, and I was 2 days away from starting a new job. Yay! Even though I wasn't TECHNICALLY hired in to the company for a couple more months, I can't believe a whole year has passed. It's been eventful, to say the least. A fun adventure at its best... Here are a couple of pics from this time last year:

she stole his toast.
Crazy woman driver!
Well...not much has changed here!
Sean's first day of first grade. Sadly, I have no first day of second grade pics. :(
The girls. Aren't they adorable?!?

Lakeland, FL Start! Heart Walk 2008

For my loved ones, past, present, and future, I am walking in the 2008 Heart Walk in Lakeland, FL. You can click on the links below to donate online ($25 minimum, unfortunately), or you can mail me a check if you'd like. Contact me by sending a comment if you have any questions.
The thermometer shows the goals of the whole Lakeland Start! Heart Walk. My personal goal is $250, and I'm 10% of the way there so far. :-)
If you're in my area and want to walk with me (I guess that means you, Angie, unless I have some unknown visitors who enjoy my little site), let me know. It will be fun to have someone besides the kiddies to walk with.

Click Here to Donate

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Banana Pudding

Katy has been reminded in Technicolor, THX sound, why her diet consists of chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and misc food that requires no preparation.

This was my Facebook "status update" yesterday.

Honestly, all I wanted to do was make this yummy-sounding recipe for Banana Pudding that a co-worker brought to a potluck. I didn't even get to be at the potluck (I was in South Bend), but I heard rave reviews, and apparently in the "south", that's something to not take lightly. Well, all of my family likes bananas (Jes, you weren't here, so you don't count!), and it sounded good, so while Chip was at work and Sean was outside playing, I figured I could knock it out quick without too much fuss.
I was wrong.
First, the recipe requires whipped topping. No problem. I had that! Thawed. Oh, now that's another story. So, I took it out of the freezer and took Sophie down to the park to swing for a few minutes while it thawed (didn't figure it would take too long in 80+ degrees). 35 minutes later, back upstairs to the pudding.
I started mixing the pudding, and I hear blood-curdling screams. Ok. Not blood-curdling. But potentially pudding-curdling. 20 minutes later, after cleaning up a VERY dirty, but not-so-injured, "Buzz Lightyear", everyone's hungry for dinner. I get out the hot dogs, but there's only 1 left. The kiddos fight over it. Sophie wins, but only because I offer Sean a "quesadilla" (cheese burrito, really. Too lazy for 2 layers).
That done, hands washed, I commence to cutting the bananas. Sophie's at my feet (when she's not opening the oven and standing on the door to try to reach things) screaming for a whole one - a 1/2 one just won't do, but I didn't have enough to give her a whole one. Should have skimped on the recipe to appease, I see in hindsight. Too late now - they're already cut up, and that just isn't the shape of banana she was interested in.
Finally, I get all the parts mixed together, and it ends up like this:
Very tasty. Rich. Creamy. Kinda like gramma's ice cream dessert, honestly, only with bananas. And there are cookies instead of Ritz, so no slight salt flavor that would have helped cut down the sweetness a bit. Really, really good. But...I won't attempt anything like it again soon, at least not while Chip is at work. The taste is not worth the pain in the rear it was to make, even though it's really easy.
Back to nuggets, hot dogs, cheese burritos, ice cream, pre-baked cookies, and the like...after I eat another helping of the pudding. ;-)

Friday, August 8, 2008

About me again.

The cheater's way to post a quick blog...copy and paste these email thingys!

1. What is your occupation right now? Data Manager
2. What color are your socks right now? foot-colored because I'm not wearing any
3.What are you listening to right now? fan, air conditioning, and Sean's bed creaking 4.What was the last thing that you ate? Fruit Chiller cup (peach) that I shared with Sophie 5. Can you drive a stick shift? Does it have to be WELL? Then No.
6. Last person you spoke to on the phone? Dad W.
7. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Very Much!
8. How old are you today?
33 and 5/6ths (I figured it out with Sean a couple of weeks ago; reducing fractions and all. Math can be FUN!)
9. What is your favorite sport to watch on TV? Olympic Events
10. What is your favorite drink? Sweet tea or water
11. Have you ever dyed your hair? a time or two
12. Favorite food? Almond thingy that we make at Christmas time or gooey orange rolls that are perfectly done
13. What is the last movie you watched? Peter Pan
14. Favorite day of the year? the day I didn't have to do any housework
15. How do you vent anger? vent? you're supposed to vent?
16. What was your favorite toy as a child? I dunno...the piano? (Mom, Sophie would definitely go with your answer of water)
17. What is your favorite season? Seasons of change (for the better)
18. Cherries or Blueberries? blueberries
19. Do you want your friends to e-mail you back? yep, cuz I rarely bug em with stuff like this (wink wink)
22. Living arrangements? 3-bedroom, 2-bath, 1,200 sq ft apartment with 4 people and 1,800 sq ft of crap!
23. When was the last time you cried? tonight
24. What is on the floor of your closet? a little of everything; see #22
25. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending to Angie. Sorry, Jes, but you weren't born yet when I met her!
26. What did you do last night dishes, laundry, library, ate at Grandpa Johnson's Yummy BBQ (yummy my edit), read my "new" book, Facebook a little
27. What are you most afraid of failure; ruining my children's lives
28. Plain, cheese, or spicy hamburgers CHEESEburgers.
29. Favorite dog breed? Stuffed and cuddly
30. Favorite day of the week? same as #14
31. How many states have you lived in? If you count all my time in NY, 4.
32. Diamonds or pearls? Pearls surrounded by diamonds
33. What is your favorite flower? I'm partial to lillies and orchids

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The smell remembers when...

"I was standin' at the counter

I was waitin' for the change

When I heard that old familiar music start..."

I like Trisha Yearwood a lot. I love this song. Very true. But I've found that smells often do the same thing for me.

On my travels a week or so ago, I sat next to someone who was wearing the same cologne as someone I knew on Mackinac Island. Just a friend with whom I shared my woes (they were woes back then), but I smelled him first, and when I turned to look at who was sitting by me, I was shocked that it wasn't the Mackinac guy stowing his carry-on. Crazy.

Chip told me at our first stop in FL when we moved, "Do you smell that? That's the smell I always associate with FL...the slight mustiness, but 'soft' smell. I love it." Sorry, Chip, I'm sure I paraphrased, but since you don't read this anyway, I'm sure you won't care. :-)

Baby powder reminds me of Sean's baths. He was BIG into powder. Maybe Sophie is getting there - she's been liking it with diaper changes during this terrible bout with diaper rash - but she likes the "girly" cucumber melon scent.

The smell of a smokey (inside of a) car still reminds me of riding to/from the theatre with Fred. On a total tangent to this, tonight I was at the library looking up a book to place on hold and I saw an audio tape recorded at Brilliance Studio in Grand Haven and I immediately had tears in my eyes because I could see me in that studio watching Fred read a part for a book. Can't remember which one - I need to ask, just so I can get it and listen to him reading. What a voice.

Back to smells...the good ones...

somehow the smell of the first snow always reminds me of childhood snows. I'm sure that's a combo of many senses, though.

The smell of apple pie always puts me in my grandma's kitchen.

The smell of playdough always reminds me of my childhood kitchen table...oh, wait. I still play playdough on the same table, and until recently, in the same house, in the same SPOT.

The smell of COTY dusting powder reminds me of my Grandma Smith.

The smell of White Rain coconut (me) and Aussie shampoo (Angie) reminds me of my Mackinac days, too.

And I don't know what it is - I think Estee Lauder Sunflower perfume or something like that - always conjures the image of Jen Day in my mind. You too, Ang?

There are a couple of other smells that remind me of Mackinac, too, and yes, I smile, but no, I'm not sharing ;-), but for those of you with impressionable teens (coughCarolcough), DON'T let them go work up there!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Airplanes don't always bring out the best in me...

I can't really say I HATE flying. Being in the air is cool. Amazing, even. It's just that I am terrified of all of the worst-case scenarios. The horror stories that we've all heard. The firey crashes. The falling into the ocean. The crashes that result in cannibalism. The hijackings...
Every time I get on a plane (and that was 6 times in the past 2 weeks), I have these conversations with myself. Luckily not out loud, but I bet my seatmates could read it in my face.

They go something like this:
"What's that sound? That can't be good!!" or "We have been waiting on the tarmac for 45 minutes. This CANNOT be good!!" or "Are we supposed to be descending so quickly?!?" and then I will rationalize with myself. "It's the safest way to travel. If you die, at least it will be with a bang (I chuckle at myself a little here). Millions of people do this everyday and they are FINE." and then I say, "but there are always exceptions. It has happened in the past. What makes you so special that it won't happen this time?" and back to me "The pilot doesn't want to die, either. He or she knows how to fly this thing (even though it seems physically impossible) and they want to get where you are going just as badly as you do" and on and on it goes. Sometimes the argument can last for the whole flight. Luckily I don't make myself physically ill over it (at least not badly enough to use the "special" bags!), but it bothers me that I feel this way.

I think my dad would call me a realist. Thinking through all the possibilities. To be honest, I think about crashing in a car most of the times I'm in one, too. Always wondering if today is the day. Some might call me cautious. These thoughts help me to be a better driver, and a more alert passenger (yes, I'm the idiot next to you actually paying attention to the safety demo/video and reading the "safety card located in your seat pocket"), but they also give me ulcers. I just call me afraid.

So last week, when I flew to a training course on "Customer Care", I really related when the speaker (JoAnna Brandi, see website link on the right of this page) talked about catastrophizers. That's what I am. I don't feel like a pessimist for most things. But I always do see the worst possible outcome in situations. I don't necessarily feel like that outcome would be personal and BECAUSE OF me, but I always think about the what-ifs. Forgive me, JoAnna, if this isn't exactly in the correct context, but here's something she said that changed my travel immediately, effectively, and really, just amazingly. She said to stop thinking about the worst case. Who knew it could be that easy, right? haha! But she also talked about visualizing the end. Seeing yourself off the ground and in the air smoothly, or landing perfectly. She wasn't talking about travel, but I immediately thought "fooey. It won't work for flying. I can't CONTROL the outcome, so how will visualizing make me handle the situation better?". See yourself SUCCESSFUL and you will have a better chance of success. I'd heard it before, but how could it work if you weren't the one taking the action to create success?
You know what? I decided to try it. Instead of visualizing me being in control of the flight, though, I visualized me being in control of my EMOTIONS. I thought about enjoying the flight, the pilot truly caring about my safety, and about the things I do like about flying. I want to be profound, but the truth is, it just worked. My stomach was not in knots at all, I was able to talk to the very interesting person beside me, but most of all, I was able to stop dwelling on me and the fear and the what-ifs, and just look out the window. For almost the entire flight from South Bend to Atlanta. And it was amazing. The first time I was able to contemplate how brave the Wright Brothers were. How brave every pilot is. How wonderful it is to be able to see so much of the earth out one tiny window. How amazing the road system in Indiana is. I mean, really. How did they make such perfectly square road systems without the benefit of overhead views? And then I went on tangents thinking about pioneers and how they knew where they were going without roads and only crude maps, and their bravery...and how each of those tiny houses had a story, and each person in them could be hurting (you know the statistics - 1 in 3 have this disease, 1 in 4 have this...). It just totally took the focus off of me.
And I was at peace. And awe. In an airplane. For the first time ever.
I think there's a lesson here about my life on the ground, too. Did you catch it? I hope so! Pass it on...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Epcot: Spaceship Earth

I thought it would be nice to ride inside the Geosphere just because I was hot and needed a break, but it turned out to be interesting, and a lot of fun. It was Sean's favorite of all three Disney parks we've been to by FAR, and we had fun with the last part. You get to answer some questions and "create your own future", and then when you get off the ride, you can email postcards of it. Here are just a few of the ones we created this weekend:

Friday, July 25, 2008

My First YouTube

SO...if this works, I think I'll do this more often!!!

Oh, and for the curious, yes, that WAS Sean pummeling her in the face with the ball. But she did look sufficiently disgusted with him, didn't she?!? Luckily, it wasn't a medicine ball!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What do Amy Grant, Doritos, and and Tide have in common?

Do you know the answer?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!? Keep reading...

Ok. I know we moved to FL, where it's hotter and you sweat more and get clothes wetter. But I am doing at least 2 loads of laundry a day. If I let it go for a couple of days, it's a 7-load marathon.
I know I did a lot of laundry before, but what is up with this?!? Here are my hypotheses:
1) We swim, thus using more towels that take up space.
but we also hang them up and re-use them. So I don't really think that's it, entirely
2) Sophie is desiring more independence and spills all the time all over herself (and sometimes others).
This one is a bit more believable. She does like to feed herself and we are now sans bibs -nowhere to store them. So this could be part of our problem. But her clothes are smaller than everyone else's, so it shouldn't be that much more (although today, she did end up with 2 outfit changes and 1 shirt definitely credible!).
3) Our washing machine is small.
I'm going to go with this one. Listen, apartment owners. Just because it's an apartment doesn't mean you have to skimp on the washload requirements. I happen to know that a large-capacity washer would maybe possibly fit in the tiny space you call a laundry "room". Or at least don't tease me - get one of those fancy stackable types that would fit in one side of the closet, and let me use the other side as a pantry, since I have barely any food storage space once I put my dishes in your skimpy cabinets!
I know I'm a bit spoiled. We bought our washer in Cville shortly after we moved in 2004, and when we were at Best Buy pricing them, the salesguy told us it would fit all of our bedding from our king-size bed in one load. Mind you, I didn't stuff it like that (but Chip did - a time or twenty!), but it was very nice-sized.
I'm lamenting its loss.
But the good news is that just two or three weeks after moving in, we got a new dryer. The one that was here first looked to be about 20 or so years old, and it would turn off randomly, leaving our clothes wet, and we'd have to start the whole thing over again because it wouldn't pick up where it left off. That, and there were big gaping holes in the lint trap. Probably not very safe in an apartment building. The new one works perfectly, even on "energy-efficient" setting it dries things nicely. That's probably because the load size that fits in the washer is only 1/2 or 3/4 of the dryer capacity and we're wasting the energy in the wash loads. Another great side benefit...the new one had the ability to change the way the door opened, so now I don't have to be a contortionist to get the clothes from the washer into the dryer. Thank you, Chip! That was an excellent idea!
Truly, I should not complain. At least we only have to go to the laundromat (answer to the title - Baby, Baby video and Doritos commercial filmed in one, most of them smell like Tide, if you're lucky!) once in a while, when we want to wash the mattress pad that won't fit in the washer. Imagine if I had all this laundry and had to GO SOMEWHERE ELSE to do it! No thank you! I don't get enough done around here as it is!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mamma Mia!

I had a wonderful time tonight. I got to go for Girl's Night Out and got to see a movie! It was my first in a theatre since Sean's third birthday, when we saw the Incredibles. Just FYI, he will be SEVEN in October. ;-) Actually, now that I think about it, maybe we did go to another Disney movie when I was pregnant with Sophie. Can't remember. At any rate, it's been a while.

We saw Mamma Mia!
It's a musical "based on" ABBA songs that I fondly remember from my growing up years.

Ok. I know a lot of people who have no use for a musical. But I happen to love them. And even though I love musicals that have music written just for them and sing those songs all the time, I have to say, it was AMAZING how they used ABBA songs in such a fluid way. It never seemed awkward. It was truly just people "bursting" into song because life just gave them something they had to express through music. It's how life should be lived! It was funny, sweet, sappy, touching, energetic, and just really a fun time.
I think all of the cast sang their own songs, and I was amazed (why should I have been?) at how well-acted it was. I definitely felt their emotions (stop laughing at me, Angie!), and I loved that even though they sang on key, they didn't choose the people with the most glorious voices. It made it more fun and believable.
I don't know. It was just such a good time. I will be first in line once the DVD comes out, and hope to get out and see it in the theater again (yes, I'm willing to shell out the $9.50 it costs to see a movie down here!!!). Maybe I'll go by myself so I can sit in the back and laugh and cry without being embarrassed. But if you want to watch it with me, I'll be happy to invite you along. And mom, if you bring your cell phone when you go, just call me and leave it on speaker so I can listen. HAHA.
Really, it was a good time. The best I've had in quite some time. You MIGHT attribute that to the fact that I was sans family, and perhaps you are correct, but I wager that any of my musical friends will agree that Mamma Mia is the reason for my current euphoria.
Looking for the stage show to come to town so Angie and I can go again...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

When you say nothing at all...

I have been taught that it's really better, if you don't have anything good to say, to not say anything.
I just wanted to let you know why I haven't written here in a while...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Just to clarify...

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers in my life...just to clarify, I wasn't putting the following cards in any specific order. :-) Please consider yourselves all loved different ways!
...and you can expect a card in the mail, too, but poor planning and forgetfulness has made us late in getting them out to you. Sorry.
But we still love you!

My Daddy Rocks - Chip Father's Day

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Happy Father's Day Freddy

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Happy Father's Day Grampa Beach!

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Happy Father's Day Grampa Chuck!

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Things I learned my first day of work

My first day at the new office, I had quite a few revelations I thought I would share with everyone:

1. I'm not the only one who talks to herself.

2. Getting "punk'd" by co-workers from the "old" office is very funny - but only to you.
(all of my things were marked with garage sale stickers, and I can tell you, they were hoping for bargains! My Franklin Planner for 25 cents?!? I think the Ramen noodles were 10 cents - not much of a bargain there, though. The most they were willing to pay was $10, and I think that was for the instructions to assemble my monitor - or maybe it was the network cable we all seemed to fight over!). Yeah. The new people didn't get it. Guess I won't be punking them while they're on vacation.

3. The code to the women's bathroom is...well, I can't tell you or you'll walk in on me, but seriously, there is a security code!

4. Security badges are really worth something here. You can get into the office building without it sometimes, but not into our suite. This would include the trip back from aforementioned bathroom. This, coupled with the fact that it's a small office without many people (hence not a real flow of people in and out to help you get back in), is a good reason to find a place to keep the badge attached to you!

5. The security code for the breakroom has the exact same digits as the women's bathroom code, but in a different order. Luckily I don't take breaks (haha), so I have conveniently forgotten the order.

6. Don't wander around the basement of a bank building (we share our offices with a large bank) alone, without a security badge. You might cause undue alarm when you get near the vaults. Fortunately, I didn't stick around long enough to make anyone worry (that I know of - yet). But hey, I was only looking for the breakroom that they told me had a big screen TV in it. Perhaps this would be the reason for above security code for entry. And, as an FYI, the security BADGE alone doesn't cut it. You have to have the code.

7. No matter how much stuff you packed for the move, you still left something behind. And hey, it could be in GR or in NY, no one knows. But it could just be the most important paper you were hoping to have with you. Like passwords to websites for researching. That weren't yours. And you have to suck it up and contact an executive so that he or she knows you've been slacking off on their project-baby.

8. Faxing is not as simple as I always thought it was. Here are the instructions:

If dialing locally:
dial 9, then the area code (Verizon makes us do this), then proceed as below beginning with step 4.

If dialing long distance:
dial 9
dial 1
dial the phone number with area code first
press pause 4 times
enter employee ID#
press SEND*

*SEND is not a button that actually appears on the machine, but I assumed they meant start.
Other than that, these are the exact instructions I followed in order to get my new W-4 sent to payroll. Easy as pie!

So that's it. The lessons learned. I wish they were as funny to you as they were to me.

Here are a couple of pics of my new digs, though. The second one is a little blurry because I was snapping them while I was on a conference call and I thought I was on mute, but as I pressed the button and heard the loud "quack" sound effect, I realized I wasn't [on mute], so I tried to move the phone away from my headset. :-)

Oh! And RIGHT after I took these pictures, a kind person brought me a monitor riser, so I no longer have the lovely phone book holding up my laptop.

I kinda like how I've interspersed my personal life with my work life, but you can see everything so well through my windows that I'll probably be asked to move them to the other wall. Who knows? It's a very nice place, though. Lots of nice people with soothing Southern accents to listen to. Makes me crave sweet tea and Chick Fil A all day, but I love listening!

Well, y'all, that's enough for today. See ya later, Alligators (but hopefully not too soon, gators. I hear they're prevelant around these parts).

Friday, May 30, 2008

Catch up Photos

So before I post on all the major changes in life, I thought I would share some photos from the past month or so.

Here's Sophie in the dress Gramma made. This was the "happy" photo.

Here she is after the novelty of Mom wanting to take her picture wore off...Sean's last Pack meeting with Pack 3004 earned him 3 new belt loops, his Tiger Cub badge, and a special photo with the leaders. He was acknowledged in front of everyone that he was moving and would be greatly missed.
Sean and Sophie on the Tiger at the Syracuse zoo. Who knew they give Tiger rides?!? :-)
An impromptu moment of fun at the zoo. Sophie and Sean loved the pretend munching of ears. Smiles that were rare on this trip were greatly appreciated and made the day much more enjoyable for everyone.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Easter Finery


Sean and Sophie playing with Sean's new "Christmas" present - a Chihuahua webkinz named "Sidney". Thanks, Nana! He loves it and is addicted!

Sean and Sophie giving goodnight hugs and kisses to Gramma from the hotel room in Chicago (I had to go there for training for work a couple of weeks ago)

And here are Sean and Sophie enjoying the DuPage County Children's Museum. They had a wonderful time and played lots and lots there.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Blue and Gold

Sean's pack meeting for Cub Scouts February was the Blue and Gold banquet where they celebrate most of the "Tigers" receiving their Bobcat badges (the first one you get before earning anything else - Sean got his in October). They celebrated with the theme of "Chinese New Year", with the dragon parade and everything. It was a grand time. Sean earned 4 belt loops this time (actually 6, but the leader forgot one and we forgot to turn in the paperwork for the other), and he was very proud. Here are some pics of the evening.

Sean's the last one in this picture (on the right). He's waving his sparkly thing and I think he's also shaking his noise (not money) maker.

Sean made and wore a cat mask.
After the parade and dinner, a man came in and showed the scouts some Tae Kwon Do moves. They all seemed to have a great time (see below). Sean was laughing and yet still paying attention and learning, and I got a little excited that it might be something fun we could do together until he walked back to the table and told us it was the most boring time ever. So much for that...for now.

After all of that, the awards ceremony took place. Here's Sean earning his belt loops.

Sophie got into the spirit by stealing Sean's hat while he was wearing the cat mask. She enjoyed being a Tiger cub for the night.