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1/31/2004  

orchids


I'm not ashamed to admit it. Orchids intimidate the crap out of me. Every so often I will purchase one at a "box store" for its blooms. When it is done flowering, I give the plant to a neighbor or someone who successfully gets it to rebloom. I lack this ability.

Today Kari and I attended an orchid seminar. We learned that growing orchids is easy. Truly easy. We were simply uninformed before. We didn't know the tricks to growing them or little tips that would have made things so much less stressful.

Just for instance, did anyone else know that when mounting a phalenopsis to a tree, the plant should be angled so that water doesn't get in the vales and cause the plant to rot? I certainly didn't. No one ever told me. No wonder I've murdered many a phal.

And no one ever told me that planting medium is unnecessary for vandas. Nor did I know that they require a daily misting of their roots. The gentleman who was speaking to all of us novices demonstrated how the roots of vandas will turn greener and greener as they are misted. Quite cool to watch.

Now I feel a bit more confident that I too can be a successful orchid caretaker.





1/30/2004  

the beach



I was feeling quite evil this morning. While we were lazingon the beach, I called Gina and told her where we were. There we sat in 70*F temps, enjoying a hazy sun and gentle breezes, watching seagulls play. She, on the other hand, was putting up with melting snow and just above freezing temperatures.

It's so not nice to gloat.




1/28/2004  

freedom!


I fled the house.

First stop: Barnes & Noble -- I browsed through the entire store, chatted with a few other customers and recommended books to them, picked up a few books for myself, had a cup of coffee and read. I took thirty minutes to finish writing up a lesson on the beginning of the middle ages.
Total time: 2 hours

Second stop: Target--My pantry is beyond messy. All three kids like to just shove things from side to side, shelf to shelf, leave empty boxes in there. I bought them their own bins for their snacks. Now they'll be back to getting their snacks from their own bins off the bottom shelf. No more of this sticking things wherever. I also bought a few other organizer things for the pantry.
Total time: 30 minutes

Third stop: Baer's Furniture -- We need two chairs for our living room. I went, I saw, I bought --> these. They were having a sale, but somehow I managed to get a better deal -- two for one. Can't beat that, huh?
Total time: 1 hour

Fourth stop: Home -- Crossroads Tree people stopped by to give us an estimate on pruning back two of the trees in our front yard. The estimate was considerably less than other quotes AND they were going to dispose of the branches for us. I wrote them a check after checking their work. (We are trying to get used to having a view of the neighborhood rather than just our tree.) Our trees look great. Much smaller, but in a good way.
Total time: 30 minutes

Fifth stop: The Beach -- what can I say? The beach was gorgeous. I hope my pictures turn out.
Total time: 90 minutes

Last stop: The florists -- We're lucky to have the best florist nearby. I love Field of Flowers. Beautiful flowers. I purchased a dozen gypsy curiosa. Couldn't resist.
Total time: 30 minutes

Such a refreshing day. I had a blast. The kids enjoyed a day with me hovering. Robert promises to let me do this more often.




1/27/2004  

I blame the Airheads!



Brooks can be counted on for a daily giggle. So take a good look and don't let your children eat Airheads or their tongues could turn a strange color too!

Oh how I hope this isn't permanent.




 

friar tuck


Some days I just want to rewind to the point where I'm just waking up in the hope of somehow changing something about that day. Today I wanted to do that.

Rick was sitting at the computer when I spotted something. A bald spot on the back of his head. No, he isn't aging early. He pulls his hair out in times of great stress. Oh happy, happy, joy, joy.

The first time he started doing this he was 9. Nine years old and so stressed by life that he tried to comfort himself by pulling his hair. Clumps of hair could be found in his bed, by the chair where he usually sat, on the floor around his school desk. Strands of blond hair that would run across the floor with the dust bunnies.

Eventually we had to shave his head since he had only a small amount of hair left and people were staring at him or patting us on the back telling us that at least we were blessed with his presence for a time.

With lots of psychological help and support from his family, Rick was able to grow past the urge to pull. His hair eventually grew back in -- no longer blond and thick, but brown and thin in some areas. His hair even curls when he lets it get longer than an inch.

As I'm typing this, he is sitting on the sofa pulling away at the hair on the top of his head. I wanna bawl (again).

If you want to learn more about this mental disease visit Trichotillomania Learning Center.

Trichotillomania rhymes with Pennsylvania....




1/26/2004  

friends



John was a fixture in my life until I was five and he six. He was the boy up the street. He was the child I played with on a regular basis. Our mothers were friends and therefore we were friends.

He was a hellion.

My earliest memory of John is when he and Jim, another neighbor child, decided we were going to play hide and seek in the woods. We were three at the time. We shouldn't have even been thinking about going into the woods. But we did. I hid behind a tree and waited for John to find me. I waited and waited and waited. He never did find me, because he never looked! I bawled. I wept. I managed to find my way out of the woods. We were in college before we told our parents about that incident.

There was major construction going on in our neighborhood. New apartments were being erected at the top of the hill a few doors down from John's house. John loved running over and climbing on equipement. One day he thought it would be great fun to climb a ladder and walk across the ridgepole. I just remember fear. Our mothers have told us so much about this incident that it is hard to tell what part is a true memory.

When my mother was in the hospital giving birth to my brother, I stayed at John's house. We built a fort on the twin bed. Easy to do. Involved hanging a blanket from the top bunk. We huddled behind that blanket and played until my dad came to get me. Two kids sitting in the dark... one scared and not truly understanding why her mother was in the hospital, the other trying to figure out how to create more havoc.

And he did make a huge mess. He pulled out the drawers of his dresser so that he could climb them. He didn't expect the thing to flip over on him though. Somehow he managed to get back into our fort before his mom came running into the room to find out what was going on. We pretended to be asleep.

Hard to imagine that the little hell-raiser is now a father to twins.




1/24/2004  

swimming in circles


It's that time of the month. Yep, cannot be avoided. Oh what fun!

Yes, I had to go to the pet store and buy feeder fish for Rick's turtles. I know, I know. Turtles like to eat live fish. They do this in the wild and eating fish is good for them. But the guilt!

Today Brooks and I bought 10 little guppies (poor things). We put them in the turtle tank to acclimate to the water before pouring them out of the safety of the bag. Skittles immediately pounced and found himself in the corner. No fish to make up for his humiliating skull bashing. Grimm swam as fast as he could after the guppies, but the guppies were faster.

Round and round the guppies swam. Round and round Grimm chased. Skittles stayed in his corner snapping at reflections.

Brooks and I stopped watching the grim comedy and went to pick up Kari from horse camp and Rick from his party. We made bets as to how many fish would be remaining in the turtle tank when we returned.

Never did we expect to find all the fish still alive!




 

snow!



I was not even 2 years old and already totally in love with the snow. Snow gives me warm feelings: hot cocoa, playing with my friends, sledding with my mom, hurling snowballs at my brother, finding out the cold way what white-washing means (Thanks, Aunt Evelyn!).




1/23/2004  

can no longer say I'm shy!


Once upon a time I couldn't bring myself to speak to strangers or look them in the face. If someone spoke to me, I would pretend I didn't hear them or excuse myself as quickly as possible. I couldn't even go to the concession stand and order a coke. (Thank goodness for younger brothers.)

I was the second definition of shy in the American Heritage Dictionary:
2. a. Drawing back from contact or familiarity with others; retiring or reserved.

2. b. Marked by reserve or diffidence: a shy glance.

When I applied for a sales job in 1993 one of the questions I was asked during the interview was "What aspect of your personality is the one you have to work hardest to overcome?" Duh! I admitted that I had a difficult time talking to new people, approaching them, that sort of thing, but that this aspect of myself was one that I was determined to overcome.

And I have. Today is simply the first day that I can look myself in the mirror, grin hugely and say, "You've come a long way, baby."

Today I took Rick to the dentist for his dreaded 6-month check-up. I was bored. My book on the middle ages wasn't holding my attention. My eyes wandered around the room and landed on a bright red jacket with part of a logo embroidered on it.

I had to ask -- "Is that a University of Maryland jacket?" That started a long conversation on Maryland's basketball program, Lefty Driesell and Len Bias. Then my Terrapin buddy followed his sons across the room to speak with the dentist.

My book was still not very engrossing. I started chatting with the lady next to me. A bit later I found myself wandering around the examining room chatting with the little kids waiting anxiously to have their teeth examined by the big bad dentist. I laughed with their parents and commiserated with them too. (What is it about the dentist and the anxiety level increasing when the word dentist is mentioned?)

While Rick was waiting for Dr. S to give a thumbs up for a good check-up, we became engaged in a contest of stupid human tricks. We didn't care that others were in the room laughing at our attempts to cross various fingers or walk backwards in a straight line or touch our fingertips to the tips of our nose. Oh no. We were simply trying to pass some time.

Quite the most pleasant dentist appointment ever with one of my children. Rick had no cavities. I was able to cast off the cloak of shyness that has dogged me forever.




1/22/2004  

I like this one better!







 

wasn't I cute?







1/21/2004  

which way?


One of these years I may want to go back to work. Who knows. I really might. But to do what?

I still don't know what I want to do, to be. Robert loves his job. My dad enjoyed his so much that after he retired, he unretired. My brother cannot imagine doing anything else. My cousin had a dream and she's working hard keeping that dream a reality.

My former jobs:

Daycare worker: Hours difficult. Too many children to watch. Never ever want that responsibility again.

Autmotive dispatching and sales: who me? Never ever again.

Secretary: Boring. Met a ton of wonderful people but the challenge wasn't there.

Teaching: Taught study skills to incoming college freshmen. They weren't appreciative. I don't enjoy speaking to large groups. Nor did I like tutoring. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to hammer information into a person's head when they have no interest in the subject.

Receptionist for a vet: Oh please. Put this up there with secretary. The only part I truly enjoyed was when I helped with surgery or could play with the boarders.

Banking: Loved it at the time. Never want to go back. This was a job that allowed to me to learn a lot, meet many people, but I wouldn't want to do this again.

Sales: I went from part-time sales to store manager to district assistant over a seven year period. There were many things I enjoyed about my job, but the negatives far outweighed the positives. I couldn't spend the time I wished with my family. Always had to work holidays. The pay didn't make up for the frustration.

Soon Brooks will be starting preschool, Kari will be in middle, Rick will be in high school. What am I supposed to do when my children aren't in the house with me? I can't spend my day walking the dog and reading.

Or can I?




1/20/2004  

???


Rick and I are still battling over his writing. Three days a week he has to write something for his blog. Every time he asks, "How many sentences do I have to write?" Annoys me to no end.

Today I told him that he has to write until he is finished. If he still had something to say about the topic then he wasn't quite done. Tears flooded his eyes. I'm tired of the emotional manipulation, so I informed him that he would be writing on the same topic every day for the rest of the week.

He's not happy with me in the least.

I'm not moved by this since I'm not particularly happy with him.




1/19/2004  

landing on her ass


No school means riding horses for Kari. She spent 16 hours this weekend at the ranch. She rode. She groomed. She played. She slept well.

It also meant extra clothes washing for me to do. As soon as she came home on Saturday, I tossed her jodpurs and t-shirt in the wash. I hung her jodpurs to dry. Of course they weren't quite dry enough to wear when she dressed for riding early in the morning. She threw on a pair of jeans. I didn't pay any attention to which jeans Kari threw on either.

Imagine my surprise when she rode back into the barn yard covered in muck. I'm talking black as the darkest night muck from heel to waist. I could barely recognize that she was wearing jeans. Then something caught my eye. Pale blue embroidery poking through some of the mud.

Yes, my daughter wore her "dress" jeans to go riding. These are jeans with embroidery around the ankles and halfway to her knees, touches of embroidery can be found on the pockets. These are nice jeans.

Or were. I've washed them 4 times, treating the mud stains each time, and still cannot get the last vestiges of the mud to leave the weave. Looks like Kari has a new pair of riding pants.

How did she manage to get so filthy? Seems my daughter was doing a bit of dreaming while out riding bareback. Her horse decided that Kari didn't deserve to be riding him, so he rubbed up against a tree and pushed her off his back.

That'll teach Kari to think she has total control over her mount.

Now if only I can stop laughing at the image I have of my daughter from the Black Lagoon riding on the back of an unrepentant gelding.




1/18/2004  

what a day!


Ryan had 2 flat tires today. He couldn't finish his race.

Robert had to work a regular 7 to 3 shift today. How odd. We're so used to him coming home at 6 and sleeping until noon and then spending the next 3 days with him. Oh, I don't like this new schedule.

Mickey and Ron are visiting from PA, so we all drove to Jupiter to have dinner and spend a few hours with them. They hadn't met Michael Brooks until today!

We drove the 1 hour and 15 minutes home to find out that Aunt Eva had died of heart problems. I feel absolutely nothing. I do not feel guilty about this lack of feeling either. Too much has gone on for me to feel any strong emotion about her dying.




1/17/2004  

just a minute to wallow, please


Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

I'm homesick. Dreadfully so.

I'm season-sick. Even more dreadfully so.

Envy has raised its green head. I'm not envious of the Siberian freeze that has taken over. No, the bitter subzero temps I can live without, but the passing of the seasons I cannot.

I wanna see snow dammit.

Cara posted some lovely pictures of snow and I started bawling.

BAWLING.

Bawling because I look outside on any given day of the year and see green. Green leaves on the trees. Green grass. Green foliage on my rosebushes. Green tomatoes forming on my tomato plants.

Where are the blacks, whites and greys of winter?

Someone pass me a tissue.




1/16/2004  

the middle nephew


Ryan is a sweetheart, a pain in the butt, intelligent, bull-headed and gorgeous. When I look at him, I see my Robert, the way he was when I met him. Ryan is an extrovert though where Robert tends to try and fade into the background.

Yesterday we were all in a flurry because the Miami Herald ran a story about Ryan. Kind of cool.

SPOTLIGHT | ON PARTICIPANT SPORTS
Sickles rides to off-road glory
Despite South Florida's flat terrain, the 16-year-old has gained prominence in mountain biking and off-road circuits.
BY JIM VARSALLONE
jvarsallone@herald.com


CANDACE WEST / HERALD STAFF

ROUGH STRETCH: 'Mountain bike racing is really a lot of mental toughness,' 16-year-old Ryan Sickles said.


When Ryan Sickles moved from Miami to Deerfield Beach in 1999, his life changed greatly. The then 12-year-old discovered mountain biking, which began his climb to off-road cycling prominence on a national level.

''Most people think: mountain biking in South Florida? Yeah, right,'' said Sickles, 16, ``but it's not just about riding up and down mountains. It's riding over hills, rocks, roots, loose gravel, bumps and even big logs for advanced riders.''

Sickles is preparing for the first stage of the Sahara Sports Dryer Winter Off Road Cycling Series on Sunday with the prestigious American Mountain Bike Challenge at Oleta River SRA in North Miami.

The National Off-Road Bicycling Association decided South Florida needed bigger mountain bike races and awarded that AMBC race to Oleta River SRA. AMBC offers a series of 20 or more races around the country, which are a step above state and regional championships and a step below national championships.

Some of the best riders from throughout the country will invade Oleta River Park. The event coincides with the Oleta River Fat Tire Festival on Saturday and Sunday.

A top junior rider in age 15-18 (three laps/5-7 miles each), Sickles is up for a challenge -- making the leap into the Expert Class (age 19-29) on Sunday to prepare for nationals in Junior Expert (18-and-under). Competing against older, advanced riders is common for Sickles.

In 2003, Sickles competed against 19-29-year-olds in Sport Class (three laps, 5-7 miles each) -- a division between beginners and expert. In the fall 2003, Sickles won the Built Ford Tough Mountain Bike series in South Florida in the Sport 19-29 Division. He advanced to Junior Expert (18-and-under, four laps, 5-7 miles each).

His jump into the Expert Class means five laps/30 miles.

''The only big difference from Sport to Expert is time and mileage, so I started doing longer rides on the road and mountain bike trails,'' said Sickles, a junior at Monarch High School in Coconut Creek.

With Quiet Waters Park a few blocks from his new home in 1999, Sickles quickly found a safe haven to ride his $80 bicycle. During his first visit to the park, he noticed some riding mountain bikes on specially designed trails.

''It looked like fun,'' said Sickles. ``I started talking to more and more people who were mountain biking on the trail.''

GIVING BACK

Sickles is forming the first South Florida Junior Mountain Bike Team for ages 18 and younger.







1/15/2004  

planning


Today is my planning day. I'm sitting here trying to figure out where all I want to take the dragonets over our spring break. They really aren't getting much of one -- 10 days of driving from here to Virginia and all over the central and SW portion of the Old Dominion. There are so many places to go, so much to see and so little time.

The list that is in front of me right now:

1. Ashlawn
2. Bennett Place
3. Booker T. Washington birthplace
4. Duke Homestead
5. George Roger's Clark birthplace: The house is no longer standing. There is simply a huge meadow with an historical marker, but it is perfect for a spring picnic.
6. Michie Tavern
7. Monticello
8. Montpelier: Most likely will not go, but they have some interesting educational programs
9. Stonewall Jackson house
10. UVA: rotunda and the Lawn
11. Wilderness Battlefield
See what I mean? I have some serious pondering to do.




1/13/2004  

the floor


We are in the process of putting down a new floor in Kari's room. Pergo -- specifically the James River pecan from their Signature line.

Kari's room is normally a disaster area. Think of the typical messy kid's room and then multiply it to the point where you can barely walk through. That's Kari's room. Quite frightening. If you cannot picture this in your mind, just know that Robert spent 1 hr and 20 minutes and I spent an hour emptying her room.

After we emptied her room, we had the fun job of ripping out the smelly old carpet.The previous owners smoked. Kari has spilled tons of stuff on the carpet. Toby has demonstrated his pique by peeing on her carpet. We are talking nasty stenchy carpet.

Room emptied. Concrete floor vacuumed. Closet shelving system removed. Ah, now there's room to walk. Now we can breathe without choking in her room. Now the closet walls look crappy.

Robert handed me a paintbrush and set up the ladder. This was my hint to paint the closet. I painted. Last night and again this morning. Her closet interior is now a bright white. I also repainted the 10 inch border at the top of her room the same bright white as her closet. (Robert had better install the moulding there soon, I've been waiting for a year now.) The border also took 2 coats.

Late this morning Robert went to put down the underlayment. He quickly realized that there were several places where extra concrete had been spilled. He had to take time to chisel up that concrete. Major major pain judging by the banging and cursing I overheard from the other side of the house.

Now it's mid-afternoon. He has put down the underlayment, the moisture barrier, whatever the heck it is called. There are lots of strange cuts to make in order to put the floor in. Hopefully it won't take forever and a day.

Oh, I'm looking forward to being able to reclaim the rest of my house from Kari's personal belongings. I just need a Clean Sweep team to come help get her organized.





1/12/2004  

school daze


Big decisions to make on the horizon. For once the decision is Kari's schooling and not Rick's. This does not make the decision any easier.

Last week Kari received a letter from her school recommending her for placement in the Middle Years Program of the International Baccalaureat program. We attended the open house and she really liked the school. Or perhaps I should say, she really liked the science classroom. I had to drag her out of there. She wanted to talk to the teacher about the various lab reports she saw displayed. The teacher had about 20 parents wanting to talk to her. We couldn't hog all of her time.

The general blurb on this particular magnet school:
The Academy of Liberal Arts, implementing the Middle Years International Baccalaureate Program, is an internationally standardized course of study for highly motivated and academically talented students. It is recognized by colleges and universities throughout the world and serves as an excellent preparation for the High School International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.

Students are provided with a well-rounded education based on higher level thinking skills, integrated curriculum, thematic units, and intercultural awareness. This unique magnet challenges students to become self-directed learners and responsible world citizens. At the core of the program are the five Areas of Interaction: Approaches to Learning, Community Service, Environment, Health and Social Education, and Homo Faber. Each of these themes is interwoven through the eight required subjects with strong emphasis on foreign language and advanced course work.

Kari's only concern is that none of her friends will be going. One did receive the letter, but her parents aren't even considering it.

Do we let the whole thing slide? Do we let her ignore this opportunity so that she may stay with her friends? Or do we send her?

What to do... what to do...




 

snitched from Steph of course


I am The Hermit

The Hermit often suggests a need for time alone - a period of reflection when distractions are limited. In times of action and high energy, he stands for the still center that must be created for balance. He can also indicate that withdrawal or retreat is advised for the moment. In addition, the Hermit can represent seeking of all kinds, especially for deeper understanding or the truth of a situation. "Seek, and ye shall find," we have been told, and so the Hermit stands for guidance as well. We can receive help from wise teachers, and, in turn, help others as we progress.

For a full description of your card and other goodies, please visit LearnTarot.com


What tarot card are you? Enter your birthdate.

Month: Day: Year:





1/11/2004  

what not to wear, a t-shirt and flirting


"What Not to Wear" is a guilty pleasure. Perhaps this is because I do not know what to wear and am looking for ideas. Perhaps the reason is that for years I worked retail and enjoyed helping people find things to wear that looked good on them and were appropriate for the occasion. Who knows. This last episode was about a wife who wears her husband's clothes.

I had to watch, because I am guilty of this on a daily basis. Yes, I wear my husband's t-shirts, his polos, his sweats, his running shorts. Heck, upon occasion I even borrow his socks. This started 3 years ago when I outgrew my clothes and shopping was no longer any fun whatsoever. I watched to see what this woman's reasons were and her transformation from blech to wowza.

She swore that she wasn't going back to borrowing from her husband. Not now. Not since she discovered that she looks good in girl clothes. Hmmmm....

Robert received several t-shirts for Christmas. I was instructed by the giver that under no circumstances was I to wear my husband's new t-shirts. If I did, something dire would happen. Today I tempted fate. I opened Robert's t-shirt drawer and pulled out his UM t-shirt. I paired it with my oversized sweats and old sneakers, scraped my hair back into a ponytail and ventured out to Home Depot. (Hopefully the "what not to wear" crew wasn't secretly filming me.)

I was wandering up and down the aisles, thinking of all the projects that float around in my brain on a daily basis, when Wham! -- a good looking male slammed into me. I turned and asked if he was okay. He grinned and apologized. Since he looked a bit like Tom Welling, I grinned back and said, "Don't sweat it, Superman." His jaw dropped and he leaned a bit closer, "How did you know?" Huh? I drew back a smidge and raised a questioning eyebrow. Good looking guy opened his denim shirt to display a Superman t-shirt.

Hmmph! The giver of the UM t-shirt was WRONG! All that happened when I borrowed Robert's t-shirt was that I got to flirt for a minute with one fine looking man. With smile on my face I bebopped off to Publix, where shopping is a pleasure.

Publix was crowded beyond belief. Far worse than the day before Thanksgiving or on Christmas Eve. I cautiously guided my cart through the shopping masses. Wham! Slammed again. Someone rammed into me from behind. I almost went down but was able to catch hold of the meatcase. The person who rammed me went down. I offered her a hand up. She didn't apologize. She glared at me. But then again, I was giggling.

Like me her hair was pulled back into a ponytail. Like me she had on baggy sweatpants and ratty old sneakers. Like me she had on an oversized t-shirt, most likely swiped from her husband. But that isn't what struck me funny. I was wearing a UM tshirt. She had on an Ohio State t-shirt. I looked at her and said, "The truth always prevails. Now we know UM is the better team."

Her husband started laughing (I don't know why... he was wearing an FSU t-shirt). The butcher started laughing. The OSU woman just looked at her husband with a quizzical look on her face. I left them behind. I had shopping to do.




1/10/2004  

and so it begins


Today is the first day in my journey to a healthier me. Ack! I know I can do this. Yes, I can.

Stacy and Rachel have joined the Discovery Health Body Challenge along with me. We'll be supporting each other for the next 12 weeks. Steph will be pushing us too. Then there are support groups on both October playgroups, so there's even more people checking up on me.

Oh my. Now my grocery list is done. At least there are some fun foods for me to eat.

Off to the grocers I go!




 

please!


Please send me some snow. My brother and my uncle are taunting me with their snowfall from yesterday. It's really not fair. I haven't seen snow since Robert and I married.




1/9/2004  

isn't she the cutest?



This is my niece -- Princess Coley. She has everyone wrapped around her little finger. She's going to be a holy terror fairly soon.

Mwa ha ha ha ha!




 

Frog meets the fish







 

comparisons continued...


I recognize that this a personal problem of mine. But I'm working on it. Slowly, very slowly. This is part of my challenge of becoming a positive thinker.

In order to become more of a positive thinker, I must confront the negative things that I do. I must own up to doing them. Then, and only then, can I effectively battle these tendancies. Negative posts may abound, but they are messes I'm working on cleaning up.




1/8/2004  

Brooks







 

comparisons


One of my biggest faults is my constant comparing of myself to everyone else. I always come out the loser. I tend to tally points between me and my brother or me and my sister-in-law. Woohoo! Eliz the underdog.

That's how I see myself. As the underdog.

Growing up I was extremely shy. I couldn't even order a drink at the concession stand. Instead I made my brother do the ordering for me. (Bossy, wasn't I?) I was afraid to try anything until my brother proved it could be done first: riding a bike, rollerskating, climbing trees, popping the balloon flowers in Lilly's garden... Kirk is 3 1/2 years younger.

I always wanted tons of friends, to be naturally funny, to have people want to hang around with me. I wanted his big blue eyes and long lashes, his ability to tan. He can keep his little ears and his knock-knees. I wanted to be smart and charismatic and good company. I wanted to be a dare-devil of sorts. Instead I was the nerdy girl, glasses and all. Long hair, nose always in a book, no sense of fashion and a dreamer.

Now we are both grown up. We are both married and have children. Kirk has an adorable daughter. I have my three dragonets. Kirk is successful at his job. I'm a stay-at-home-mom.

My underdog mentality remains. Even at the age of 37. (Yes, Kirk, I know that shortly I'll be 38 to your 34. )

Kirk has recently mentioned going back to school and getting his masters. I'm all for this and behind him 100%. He is a smart, engaging person and should take advantage of any opportunity to grow.

His enthusiasm and plans for his life make me wistful. I want to go back to school, but lack the funds. I don't want to earn another degree. I just want to learn. And honestly, it isn't just the lack of money that holds me back, it's the fear of failure. Not failure as in making a bad grade, but failure as in not performing to my expectations.

And then there's the whole parenting comparison. He and Gina are going to do a wonderful job raising Coley. Yep, I feel like they are going to outshine me there.

Isn't it sad that I am constantly comparing? I recognize that we are two different people with different abilities and hobbies and talents, but I still feed the need to compare. The first time I remember comparing is after a lady in the grocers talked about how cute he was, how sweet and beautiful. I was ignored.

And then it happened again and again and again.

My parents never compared us, but strangers did. We met plenty of strangers too. Not only was our father a newspaper publisher, we also moved a number of times. The words "shy" and 'brainy" were always applied to me. Kirk had the fun words of "funny" and "friendly" and "goodlooking" attached to his name. I did feel sorry for him having to follow me through high school, but he let the teachers know that he was not me.

Nope, he was more. I think the biggest difference between us is that he sees boundaries as something to push, to explore, to climb over. I see boundaries as limits or barriers.

Amazing what difference a definition can make in a life.




1/7/2004  

4


Four tiger barbs in the fishtank. They are swimming as fast as they can in the bag. I can set them free in 2 more minutes. Frog is waiting impatiently for his chance to try his paw at fishing.




 

not TEAL!


Brooks earned a fishtank. He had to help keep his room tidy and agreed to sleep in his own room instead of wandering into other beds in the middle of the night. He did this for 2 months. Two long months in his opinion.

We let him choose which fishtank he wanted from the 2 1/2 gallon selection. He had blue, red, orange, dark green, neon green and yellow to choose from. He chose orange. Orange is not his favorite color, but it is the color that is in all his favorite shirts: a striped shirt, his UM jersey, his Dolphin jersey.

Last night we set up his tank knowing that today we would buy him fish. We realized immediately that we had forgotten to pick up gravel and plants and something fun for his tank's interior. Today Brooks and I went to pick up those forgotten items so we could go this afternoon and pick out his fish.

We decided to be brave and let him choose his own color gravel... even if that meant hot pink or red or purple stones in that orange tank. Never ever did we think he would choose teal. Orange tank, teal gravel. In a yellow and blue room.

As we drove home from the pet store, Michael sat in his carseat and sang at the top of his wee little lungs:
the Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins number 1!

At least he understands that he cannot have a dolphin in his tank: "Mommy, a dolphin can't fit in my fishtank. It would break!"




1/6/2004  

Happy Anniversary!


At 2:12 this afternoon, Robert and I will have been married for fourteen years.

In fourteen years we have had 3 children, 4 cats, 1 dog, 1 ferret, 2 turtles, umpteen fish, 5 cars, lived at 5 different addresses in 5 different towns....

And it's been fun.

I still think Robert is wonderful... even when he gets on my nerves... even when he does things to deliberately annoy me. He's intelligent and still has that "Kennedy look" about him (although he's starting to look more like Teddy than JFK).

This morning he let me sleep in a bit. When I woke up, he had a dozen yellow roses with crimson tips and a card waiting for me. Made me cry. Then he took me out for the perfect breakfast -- Krispy Kreme donuts and a big glass of milk. What could be better?





 

hoof steps


Dad, Mom, Kari and I headed to Gulfstream for the opening day of their racing season. What fun! Tons of traffic, parking far away, dealing with the crush of people trying to get through the gate, finding a Racing Form....

But, aaaaah!, the horses more than made up for any minor difficulties. Gorgeous! I had forgotten just how beautiful race horses are. Kari was in heaven. Her face lit up and she watched every horse intently.

Kari studied her Racing Form and the race day booklet. She asked intelligent questions of my dad. He walked with her over to the paddock so he could point out little things for her to look for. Since she is my daughter and I am my mother's daughter, Kari showed a marked preference for the greys and roans. Unlike us, Kari listened to what Dad had to tell her.

We were there for 8 races. Of the 8 races, Kari picked the winner in 5. Her reasoning centered on the horses and their actions before the race. At the halfway point of one of the races, she turned to us and said, "My horse is going to lose. He started out to fast. He'll pull back at the final turn." Sure enough he did.

Mom pointed out all the jockeys who had ridden one of their horses: Jerry Bailey, Rosemary Homeister JR, Mark Guidry, Eduard Prado. She told Kari about Julie Krone and Kent Desormeaux. Now Kari has visions of becoming a jockey. Oh no. Never.

She'll have to content herself with gazing at those gorgeous thoroughbreds as they parade from the paddock to the track.




1/5/2004  

hmmm....


What can I do with these? All sorts of things! ROFL








1/3/2004  

I hope...


Every time a new year dawns all sorts of people rush to make their resolutions for the upcoming year. Lose weight, quit smoking, become less of a couch potato, find a new job are the ones my friends seem to set for themselves.

I have decided to come up with one more interesting for me.

In 2004 I plan to work on my attitude. I'm tired of focusing on the negative. Yes, it will be positive thoughts for me this year. If I can argue two sides of something, I should be able to argue my way into positive thoughts.

I hope.




1/2/2004  

talking in my sleep


I made a mistake last night. I fell asleep sometime during the 3rd quarter of the UM-FSU rematch (aka the Orange Bowl game 2004). Robert and my dad decided to have some fun and talk to me while I was sleeping. They had a blast.

I remember nothing of it.

Robert was laughing so hard at me this morning when he was telling me about it. Dad started giggling. So glad I could be responsible for such laughter.

one small snippet (as told by Robert):

Robert: Game's over. Go to bed.

me: Who won?

Robert: The Marlins won their 3rd World Series in a row.

me: Really? How'd they do that?

Robert: They swam really fast and their opponents couldn't keep up.

Me: Maybe we should buy a few Marlins for Kari's fishtank then.

Perhaps they'll stop laughing long enough to share the truly funny things I said. But then again maybe not. Seems I have quite the potty mouth.




1/1/2004  

HAPPY NEW YEAR!





"Earth laughs in flowers." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson