We bought our house in October of 2002, so we've been here for just over 6 years now. During that time, we've never liked our family room. It is a very long room with a fireplace on one of the long walls. We were never able to arrange the furniture in a way that didn't make the room look vacuous. Add to that, that I'd been conned into buying a carpet when we visited Tunisia a few years ago, and I was determined that I was going to make that carpet work for me.

So, after six years, I was hit by inspiration while moving the furniture to make room for the Christmas tree, and after a trip to Pier One for new pillows, a game chest, and a floor mirror, our room is finally coming together!

And just for fun, a picture of our mantle all decorated for Christmas. This is Christmas morning after Santa's visit, so those are Meridian's Santa presents on the hearth.

The game cabinet is actually a hand-painted Tibetan wine cabinet, which we repurposed to our advantage. David has for some time wanted an easier way to store our games for easier retrieval. Being something of a game afficionado, he has a good many abstract stragey games, which coupled with all of Meridian's games and all of my party-type games makes for one messy jumble in the top of the coat closet, a pile in the office, and another stack in the garage. When I first saw this cabinet at Pier One, I knew it accomplished two things on my list. It gave David better storage, and it helped me achieve a grown-up look in the room without compromising it's value as a family-use room. We decided only to put David's strategy games in there, as they get the most play, and that left the top of the coat closet for my party games, which tend to all be of similar size and shape anyway. Here's a close-up of the cabinet, and how we've put it to use.

The mirror caught my eye when we went in to pick up the wine chest, but I wasn't ready to shell out for it. The next day, it was still on my mind, and I realized how difficult it has been for me to match the colors in the Tunisian carpet over the years when I've tried to shop for that room. I decided I'd better go back for the mirror - the colors were perfect, and passing it up seemed like a gamble, especially when I was so close to finally making this room work. So, back I went for the mirror. Here's a close-up of the detailing.


A friend of mine posted this on her blog, and it seems to be making its way around the internet. Since I am a lover of books, I thought I'd have a go at it.

The Big Read is a NEA program designed to encourage community reading initiatives and of their top 100 books, they estimate the average adult has read only six. I have highlighted the titles that I have read...

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens 58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I feel obliged to point out that #36 (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) is in fact part of #33 (The Chronicles of Narnia). So, it's kind of cheating that they listed it twice. So, the orange ones are the ones I've read, and the italicized ones are the ones I've tried unsuccessfully to read. Interestingly, on that second list many of those books revolve around the same theme of government oppression. Perhaps that's just not my cup of tea?

Final Score: 44. Currently reading: Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert. Next on deck: The Confessions of Max Tivoli by Andrew Sean Greer.


I'm slow on these internet pass around videos, so you've probably all seen this already, but it CRACKED ME UP! First, the kid is SOOO British. It's awesome. Then there are all the phases on pain. Then the explanation. Then the baby evil laughter. Couldn't have been scripted better!

Charlie bit me!


Celebrating ten years of marriage. Ten Years! Right away I knew that this year's anniversary adventure needed to be worthy of ten years of marriage: something exciting, something romantic, something we've both always wanted to do. A hot air balloon ride was a perfect marriage of all three things. In my searching, I quickly learned that Charlottesville was the place to be locally for such an adventure. And now, with the ride behind us, we can see why. Beautiful rolling hills, farmland, and a charming little city.

With the help of my good friends Kate and Marisa (who kept Meridian each for one night), we made a weekend of our adventure. We rented a tiny little log cabin (called Quinta Bela) on a farm in Scottsville, about 12 miles from Charlottesville. Of course, this was perfect for us since we honeymooned in a log cabin the mountains of Virginia. This time though, we weren't roughing it. The cabin has electricity and plumbing, and even a hot tub out back. The cabin itself is an 1800s original from West Virginia, which was moved here in 1989. The family who owns the cabin was lovely and generous, inviting us to hike their land, ride their horses, even offering to drive us with their canoe to the James River nearby.

We'll have to go back again when Meridian is a little older, perhaps to visit Monticello and hang out on the farm. This visit, we spent much of our time in Charlottesville. We started out Saturday morning by enjoying our sunrise balloon ride (despite the queasiness in my stomach), then we breakfasted at the Boars Head Inn (very yummy). We wanted to walk through the Charlottesville pedestrian mall after that, but realized we'd forgotten our change of clothes at the cabin – we were wearing long clothes in anticipation of a cool morning ride. So, we headed back to the cabin to change, but upon arriving realized how tired we were from our 4:45am wake-up. So we did something we never get to do at home: both of us crawled into bed and took a nap together. Then we headed back to Charlottesville for a massage at the spa, followed by the steam room and showers. It was great to be able to relax so much.

We then got to explore the downtown pedestrian mall a bit while selecting a resaturant for dinner. We ended up at the Melting Pot, which we haven't been to in ages. I broke my chocolate rule, and must admit, thoroughly enjoyed every bite of it.

The balloon ride itself was a different experience than I'd pictured. I'd envisioned quiet serenity a mile above the ground. And that is part of the experience, but it's interrupted by frequent LOUD bursts from the propane tank to fuel the balloon. That together with the radiant heat of the gas being burned was enough to interrupt my reverie. I'm glad we did it. It was one of those experiences that everyone should have at some point in their lives, but I don't think I'm going back for seconds. David on the other hand, loved every minute.

The Balloon Ride:

First the balloon gets filled with cool air.

Our whole house would fit inside there!

About 60% full. Behemoth!

Posing inside the balloon while it fills.

Hey, it coulda been out last kiss. Better safe than sorry!

Prepare for liftoff!

Heating the balloon.

Up it goes!

And we're off! Photo taken by balloon company.

A shot of us in the sky.

Stright up into the balloon.

The operator lowered us into the trees to pick leaves.

Sunrise over Charlottesville.

Charlottesville farmland, taken from the sky.

Our reflection as we pass over a pond.

Waving at the pick up crew as we land.

The End.


The Cabin:

Quinta Bela cabin

Side view


The ladder into the loft

The loft.


I am a super genius.
I am the superest geniusest person ever.

I fixed my own toilet.
Water was pooling everywhere.
I put in a call to the emergency plumber.
And my handiman for good measure.
And then I went to mop it up.
And I realized where the water was coming from.
And I tightened the bolt.
And I dried the floor.
And it stayed dry.
And for that:

I am a super genius!

I'm taking myself out to dinner to celebrate my overflowing brain power.


The window installation crew showed up this morning. That was mildly confusing because I just talked to the general contractor over-seeing the entire renovation, and he didn't want to have any of the many projects begin until the roof was complete. He said working from the top down was the best way to proceed, and the shingles are special order and won't be in until the end of the month. So, color me surprised when they showed up at 8am this morning. I called the contractor, left a voicemail, and then figured he must have changed his mind.

The crew got to work, and before long, several windows were in. Now, several of the windows have severe wood damage, which is what actually prompted the window project. When taking estimates for the job, many contractors tried to talk me into taking the cheap way out: covering the bad wood since you'd never know it was under there once covered in aluminum. I was adamant that this was not the way I wanted to go. In the end, I hired on eof the few who said that covering the bad wood was a bad idea and that I should replace bad wood as they got to it. So, imagine my surprise when I come into the office to find them on the verge of popping a window into a frame that's partly rotted.

I stopped them, saying that that wood needed to be replaced. The guy kinda danced around the issue, first saying that that wood wasn't actually so bad (which is disproved by demonstrating how I could flake it away easily w ith my finger and how I could leave a dent with my forefinger), then saying that the wood that is the kind the frame is made out of is some special wood that they can't even go buy at the local hardware store. Clearly this was the shut-the-dumb-house-wife-up routine. I got really annoyed and aggressive, saying that this was non-negotiable, that it was understood when I hired the company, that it was included in the price I was paying, and that he would have to find a way to replace that bad wood. He said he'd see what he could do. I think he realized that I wasn't going to be pushed around because when I came back into the office a while later, he was replacing those pieces.

Two hours later, the crew is taking a break, and I go out to inspect the back of the house, only to find that they've installed those windows over bad wood as well. I decide to deal with the other guy. I call him back and show him the bad wood and tell him it needs to be replaced. Clearly, the other guy has blown off some steam about our earlier conversation because this guy puts up minimal (but still there) resistance. I say, "if the wood is not nail-worthy, it's bad wood and must be replaced". He says okay. At this point, I'm frustrated and decide the general contractor needs to be involved, so I call him and get his secretary and tell her that his crew is at my house and I need him to get back with me. He calls me back immediately and is PISSED that the crew is there and working. Apparently, he was very clear with them that the job should not begin until the roof is complete, but they are sub-contracters. They've ordered the windows and have them. He speculates that they've run into cash-flow issues and decided to start the job anyway so they can get paid earlier. He's pissed because he likes to be onsite supervising as the crew gets the job done.

So, I go over my complaints, and tell him I'd really appreciate him coming out and giving the stamp of approval to the way the wood has been replaced, which he did. While he he discovered a few more problems and put out a few fires. He said theat everything should be done to my satisfaction and not to settle for them doing something in a way I'm not satisfied with. And while I appreciate the don't-be-afraid-to-be-a-bitch peptalk, I'm irritated because I didn't not sign up to babysit his workers. GRRR.

At the end of the day, all but two windows are done. One needs a piece of trim replaced because it got broken. The other they short-ordered and didn't have. But, those that are in LOOK GREAT, and I'm excited to have a phase of this project near-complete. The house stinks of caulk. There are a thousand flies inside. And all the screens are off so they're not damaged by the roofers. But our new windows are purty!


True to my pattern of grow it out / chop it off, I've gone short again:

My new short 'do.

The back, styled messy.

Finger-combed down for a pic.


I know I've been horrible on this side. Truth is, there's just not much of me these days that's either not a Mama (filed under Meridian's Page) or a photographer (Until Forever Photography and Photo Blog). So, I don't come here much.

But, starting yesterday, our house is getting a face lift! And I thought that could prompt a revival (be fair-warned, last year's revival lasted about three posts) for this side of the blog.

Our roof has been needing replacement almost since we bought the home, six years ago. There were a few replaced shingles already, and we knew we were on borrowed time.

Still, we've managed to push six years, every hurricane season replacing a few more shingles, and adding to the checkboard pattern on our roof. So, we finally decided to bite the bullet and replace the roof. It took water streaming in through two windows in some heavy storms for us to ante up, but here were are.

And of course, nothing is ever that uncomplicated. Especially when you've procratinated for so long in your duty as homeowner. You see, it turns out that the gutters had pulled away from the house by the tiniest of amounts - really not even apparent to us until pointed out. As a result, water spills over and behind the gutter (which is what led to it coming in through the windows). So, the gutters have got to be replaced.

Since we tolerated the water spilling over the side of the gutters for so long (we noticed this and thought it meant the downspouts needed to be cleaned, which we also procrastinated on), the unwrapped wooden window trim is completely water damaged and has to be replaced. Only when getting estimates for this portion of the job, no one was willing to just replace the wood (which would require pulling out all of the windows and restoring them when done) - if they're going to do all that labor, they want the markup on the window units as well. A few people tried to convince us just to wrap the bad wood (can we say "Calling All Termites!"), and a few wanted to chip away at the bad wood and then just nail good wood in place over it (can we say half-ass job?), but no one was willing to do the job thoroughly except those people who also wanted to sell us windows. And so, we're getting new windows. While we're at it, we're wrapping all the remaining wood trim - we do not want to revisit this project down the road.

Review of total project: new roof, new gutters, new windows, all exterior wood wrapped in vinyl. Well, with that big of a project there was no question that we were going to have to take out a loan. And when taking out money, why not take out a little more?! The fence is in such bad shape that it sways in the wind and we actually arrived home one day in a storm to see the gate had been torn of and was blowing across our front lawn. Fortuitous timing for us! Knowing we'd be responsible for damage caused to our neighbors' homes by our negligence we knew we either had to take the fence down, or replace it. We added the fence to the list of replacements.

Beyond all that, we took a little more money than all the the quotes called for so we could take care of niddling problems that irk us in the house. Nothing major, but lots of tiny things adds up to irritation, so let's just eliminate all of our home owner irritation in one fell swoop.

So, the fencers started yesterday! Let the fun begin! I'll be checking in as the projects move along with before and after photos.


It's pretty sad that my only entries seem to revolve around blog tagging, but here goes. I was tagged by my sister.

Once you have been tagged, you have to write a blog with 10 weird, random things, habits or goals about yourself. At the end, choose 10 people to be tagged, listing their names and why you chose them. Don't forget to leave them a comment ("You're It") to read your blog. You can't tag the person who tagged you. Since you can't tag me back, let me know when you've posted your answers so I can see what you wrote!

  1. I was hit by a car while crossing the street in highschool. I was jaywalking, and I flew up over the car and grabbed onto the windshield. I was not seriously hurt. I felt so bad about it that I refused to let them call an ambulance and I walked home.
  2. I can be compulsive about things, and I have to stop myself from redoing things Meridian does when she's helping me with chores.
  3. I sometimes pray even though I don't believe in God. It was comforting to me as a child, and is still comforting now.
  4. I once went into a dressing room with a cross dresser to tell him how his lingerie looked. I know - awful decision.
  5. I've been saved from drowning four times: twice in a pool (by lifegaurds), once in a lake (by a man), and once in the ocean (by a friend). I've since learned to swim, but still don't like to swim in the ocean.
  6. I have a secret question/answer with David in case he's ever in doubt about it being me he's talking to. It started as a joke about aliens abducting us, but proved handy when my friends tried to prank him on instant messenger.
  7. I take a blanket with me to the movie theater.
  8. Whenever I walk past my walk-in bedroom closet, I take a deep breath in case someone is hiding in there and grabs me by the throat. I know it's weird. I dunno why.
  9. I love to sleep, but I hate to go to bed.
  10. My smile crackles. Every time. Like the snapcracklepop from Rice Krispies. As a result David nicknamed me Cracklesmile.


This is hilarious!

P.S. ...running a marathon. Yeah, the novelty wore off.


Training is going well so far. I ran 1.8 miles on Wednesday, and then 3 miles on Thursday (which I walked .8 of). I was supposed to do a long run (3-4mi) over the weekend, but I didn't. I went and bought good running shoes today, and then ran today to make up for it (today was supposed to be a rest day). I ran 2.7mi, of which I walked .6. I'm getting to where I can comfortably run 2mi, and I hope to push that to three in the next week or two. I'm going to plan a 3mi route for tomorrow, and see how much of it I can run.


On Sunday, my friend Ryan competed in the Sandman triathalon down at the beach. We went along to cheer him on, and he did great! Marisa mentioned that she and Kate are going to start training for the Shamrock Half Marathon, which takes place in March. She suggested I train with them, at which I , of course, laughed. But she wasn't jokeing. And here we are two days later, all three couples agreeing to train for it together. The more I talked to Marisa, the more she made me feel like I could do it. So, now it's the next big adventure.

Kate sent me this training schedule. I printed it and put it on the fridge. I'm actually giving myself little stickers for each day. :P This morning, I dropped Meridian off at preschool, and ran my first run. I mapped out a 2.5 mile run near her school, figuring if I committed to doing it once I dropped her off, I'd be there and less likely to back out than if I came home and got distracted by other things. I saw Marisa at preschool, and she gave me a pep-talk, telling me not to get discouraged if I need to run-walk-run, and to run very slowly. Here's my route:

Starting out, I ran about .2 miles and was already thinking, "Oh hell no!" My calves burned and I was already winded! 2 measley blocks. But I knew I'd have to check in later for M and K, so I kept going. I wanted to run the whole thing if I could, so I resisted several urges to walk, certain that once I walked I was not likely to want to run again. The landmarks came sooner than I expected them, and that was a good sign. I slowed to a walk after 1.7 miles, then tried twice to run again after I'd felt a little more rested, but I didn't have the same momemtum, and each time ran only one block before slowing again to a walk.

Still, I'm pretty pleased with myself. I haven't run at all since college, and I was no runner then either. I'm happy with this start.


I've been blog tagged by my photographer friend, Bonnie. Maybe that will kickstart my posting in this section. I am supposed to list eith things that most people don't know about me, and then tag eight other people. So, here goes:

  1. I have jumped out of an airplane twice.
  2. I grew up in a home with nine children: siblings and cousins.
  3. I played badminton in highschool because I had no athletic skill, was afraid to try out for a team and fail, and the badminton team took anyone who came.
  4. I have been to ten foreign countries: England (3mos), Germany (6 weeks), Tunisia (4 weeks), Italy (2 weeks), Canada (2wks), Ireland (1wk), Belgium (3 days), Spain (3 days), France (2 days), and Austria (2 days).
  5. I am afraid of the dark.
  6. I have changed careers three times so far: 4th grade teacher, Software Trainer / Tech Support, Photographer.
  7. I can not swallow without swishing.
  8. I have an incredible memory for dialog, and can recall months later exactly who said what. Admittedly though, this skill has weakened since pregnancy.

Tagged: Ryan, Karen, Bruce, Sue, Kathy, Noah


OMG. Tired of telemarketers? Need some entertainment? Try this. Try this.


My nephew, Hayden Joseph, was born on November 19th. He is welcomed by his parents Jed and Joni, and his two brothers Evan and Caleb. He weighed in at 9lbs 4oz. His poor little shoulder was broken during birth, but he's healing well. Here are his hospital pics:


Glad to see the ladies aren't the only one sucking it in! This was emailed by my friend Jim, and like him, I had to watch it a few times before I understood why the table fell over. Male Vanity.


Brokeback to the Future. Need I say more?


Ryan emailed this to me earlier, but I completely over-looked it in my inbox and just watched it now. Wow. Wow-wow-wow. Amazing Juggling feat.


Okay, I IMed this one to a few people a while back, but I just came across it again and it is hysterical. WARNING: Mature Audiences Only! The Ketchup Effect.


Here's a fun little trip down memory lane. This is The Evolution of Dance. Be honest - how many of these did you do?


How to get a great Mother's Day Photo. Hilarious!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mommies reading this blog. :)


Our home improvement quest marches on. Targets: the fence and the deck. My girlfriend Marisa's brother is coming over the weekend after next to tackle these projects. He's going to put a wide staircase on the deck and build a rasied garden as a built-in feature. I also want a few boards replaced and then the whole thing power-washed, sanded treated. In addition, the fence would be pressure-washed, some of the posts would be reseated and braced, and some boards would be replaced.

I've realized that I'm expecting too much out of one weekend, so I decided to do as much as I could to prepare. To that end, I bought a pressure-washer and set to work. The results are amazing! See for yourself.

I still have to tackle the deck, but am sooooo thrilled with the fence that I had to post.


David is always looking for more and more ways to get involved in the community for his field (Flash programming with Actionscript); you know what I mean - the little subcultures that develop around a group of people that have something particular in common. He is well-known on the newgroups and always very well-written. Someone there suggested he try to publish a few articles. So, he just got an article contract with Adobe (who now owns Flash since they purchased Macromedia) and another contract with CommunityMX (a tech website that offers tutorials and articles on Adobe products). The Adobe article is 22 pages long - seems more like a novella than and article to me!

Even better, an animator he does some of programming for has asked him to co-author a book with him! The publishers are putting the contract in the mail. It will be published by Focal Press who do the "How to Cheat" series. Here's their How to Cheat in Photoshop book. They just mailed him a copy so he can get a feel for their style.

So, the book deadline is October, and it is scheduled for release within 2006. We're really hoping he'll be selected to speak at Flash Forward, the big convention in his field. That's in September, and the networking there would bring in a steady stream of business. So exciting for him!! Cross your fingers!


I finally uploaded my non-Meridian photos of Tunisia, so take a peek if you'd like to see the lay of the land. They're in the Tunisia gallery on the left, or just click here. They're missing captions for now; maybe tomorrow.


Create your own visited states map here


So, anyone who owns a home can empathize. Home improvements go in phases. You buy thte house and work real hard, throwing yourself into it, wanting it to look polished and ready to show off. Before you reach your goal (home worthy of Pottery Barn catalog or Martha Stewart feature or [insert your own paramount here]), you inevitably burn out and cease wanting to do anything remotely home-related. Over a period of time, you just look the other way at the things which must seem blaring to everyone else. (We had good friends ask whether we were going for the Home Depot look with all our exposed outlets.) But the effort necessary to correct the infractions don't seem worth your time.

But now, I've entered the next phase: the second wind. The second wind comes with more precision and forethought. Instead of blindly knocking out walls or installing big ticket items (read: the jet tub that I've probably soaked in 3-4 times in three years) on a whim, you are wary of the fact that your motivation has an end in sight. You try to be more calculated in how to bring the look of your home together without creating additional work. To this end, I bought a spiral bound journal and labeled each page: one page for each room in the house right down to mud room and half bath. In this book, I've listed tasks that need completing from the big stuff like paint the room right down to the minutia like change light bulb. Tedious?

Perhaps, but it's been extremely productive. Knowing that the book even contains little things I can accomplish in ten minutes makes me not dread opening it. So, when Meridian goes down for her nap, I can open the book, flip through the pages until I hit upon a task which fits my mood of the moment. Recently it was turning our abyss of a hall closet into something presentable. I wish I'd had the presence of mind to take BEFORE pictures, but I was too excited about getting to the end result. Allow me to paint you a visual picture: 1) No doors (they were removed for painting during phase one of home improvements, and later deemed inappropriate door-types for the space, and so never replaced.) 2) Coats, jackets, sweaters from every season crammed in alongside old halloween costumes, work out clothes, and some new clothes I bought a year ago that were swallowed by the black hole and forgotten. 3) 33 pairs of shoes and 5 pairs of slippers piled in a haphazard heap in the bottom of the closet. 4) Summer and winter hats, gloves, sunglasses, scarves, and suntan lotion shoved into every empty nook, from empty spaces in Meridian's shoe hanger to coat pockets to spaces between board games. 5) A six foot wide shelf atop the hanging bar, stacked precariously with board games (alas, this point remains as of yet unchanged, but it's been noted in The Book.)

The after pictures speak for themselves, despite lacking a wide-angle lens to shoot the closet from the front.


Oooh, a face lift! Don't get too excited; while there appears to be lots of new stuff, it is in fact all the same stuff, just reorganized. I'll be updating some of the really old sections (like Philosophy and Literature) soon and I'll leave a note here when I've added something to the other pages. Feel free to clue me in as you come across broken links while I reorganize. Just leave a note in the comments. And as always, thanks for checking in.


This is absolutely hilarious, but for mature audiences only.


Irresistably cute.


Well, we made it safely back from our holiday abroad. We had a fantastic time, and I took tons of photos, which I'll put up in a gallery in the Photos section when I finish processing them all. I have tons of little Meridian anecdotes to add to her page, but no time to type them all out at the moment. More to come. For now, it's just good to be home.

For grins and giggles and to keep you occupied while I get Meridian's page updated, here's a site where you can build yourself as a doll. Here's me:


Meridian and are leave today for our trip to Tunisia and Italy. So, posts will be scarse, but I wanted to leave you with one of the most hilarious things I have seen in ages, sent to us compliments of our friends Bob and Chris. Enjoy!

Photo Booth.


Another cool link. This place lets you upload your photo and then uses face-matching technology to find your closest celebrity look-alikes. My matches were:

  • Christian Slater 72%
  • Patricia Arquette 70%
  • Olivia Newton John 69%
  • Bobby Fischer 65%
  • Jennifer Aniston 65%
  • Anna Kournikova 64%
  • Demi Moore 60%

Yep! I'll take those matches! :) Good on my ego even though no one in real life has ever said a single one of those to me, and my hubby laughed out loud and refuted all of them except Christian Slater.

Oh, here's the photo I used to compare:


This is actually true. See Snopes.

Phone companies are charging us $1.00 or more for 411 information calls. When you need to use 411, simply dial
1-800-FREE-411 (1-800-373-3411) without incurring a charge at all except for the minutes required to make the call if you are using a cell phone.



Here's how it works. You click the button and register (just needs an email address and a password). Then you use their search engine throughout the day when you need to search. Their search engine is powered by Google. They randomly give prizes as people search. They're giving away Playstation Portable, Ipods, movie tickets, prepaid Visa cards, Itunes gift certificates, and more. Only your first ten searches of the day are eligible to win, so you're less likely to win if you do ten searches back to back than if you come back to it periodically throughout the day. I made it my home page for a little while, so every time I open a browser I'm reminded to do a search. It doesn't matter what you search for. Sometimes I just search for "I want to win!" lol.

The cool part is: anything you win, I win too. Then if you get your friends to sign up under you, you'll win if they win. It's totally a publicity stunt to get their names out there, but I'm OK with that. I like getting something for nothing. ;)


I'm sure no one is checking in here anymore. After a summer of being greeted by my feet when you arrive, who can blame you. Alas, I wanted to add even another photo of the foot. I meant to add this a long time ago, but the summer was hectic. Here's how the girls colored my cast, which has been off for several weeks now:

Kaitlynn distinguised between my two feet this summer by calling the right foot "the piggies that went to t he doctor" and the left foot "the piggies that went to the market". Meridian just assumes boo-boo is a body part like any other, and is a bit confused why she doesn't have one. She looks at her foot, touches the would-be booboo spot and looks at me questioningly.

Anyway, I've mostly healed up nicely. I don't have full range of motion back in my big toe, and the doctor expects that I may not for a year or so yet, but I have a good deal of motion there, so it's not infringing on my livestyle. Thanks for all the well-wishes during my recovery.

And I promise my next post will not involve feet.


For your viewing "pleasure", my progress to date:

Things are pretty much slowed to a crawl for me. Literally. If I want to do something, I generally crawl to where I want to get. It's less complicated than dealing with the crutches. (Kaitlynn pronounces them hair-wee kraw-kraw: heavy crutches.) It's been good. I'm so lucky to have Ryan here. She has been taking care of me, the kids, and the house. I feel awful since the main reason for her to come was for me to take care of HER, and here she ends up waiting on me instead.

Being bed-ridden makes you feel pretty useless. I've taken to mending in order to feel useful. Pathetic, I know. In the last week, I've started to get out more. It's just a big production: we've got to get not only the stroller, but also a wheelchair into the car. And then aren't we quite the caravan in BabiesRUs: Ryan with Shelby in the snuggly, Meridian in the shopping cart, and me following behind in a wheelchair with Kaitlynn on my lap. Yep, get some pretty interesting looks.

I'm going to let the girls color on the cast soon, so those pictures will be up before long, followed soon by a picture of the long-ass scar, and me in my new Terminator boot.


My foot surgery was moved up a week. Went in yesterday morning at 6:30am, and got home at 3:30pm. According to the doctor, everything went very smoothly, but I was too woozy to really pay attention to the details. Now I'm fading in and out of lucidity, so I'll sign off for now. Thanks for all the well wishes!


So, I realize in the craziness of life around here, I haven't really updated my webpage much, and most everyone is out of the loop on the mundanities of my life. I thought I'd check in today and give you the skinny on my foot.

On June 30th, I dropped a heavy ceramic bowl while trying to pour rice into it. It hit the floor, popped up and came down hard on my foot. My immediate attention was on the children. We had Kaitlynn and Meridian as usual, but were also caring for Cai that day. Looking around, I was happy to see that all the kids were in the other room. So, I called out to everyone that everything was fine, and started cleaning up the mess. Somehow, I was completely obvlivious to the fact that I was bleeding all over the place until Ryan came in to the room and pointed out the obvious.

While I had been fine, as soon as I realized I was bleeding and just how deep the cut was, I got a little woozy. I put my foot into the sink and was going to let David handle it. I shouted "I need pressure." David, looking around and seeing no paper towels, replied, "You need ice." "Pressure stops the bleeding," I countered. "I stops the bleeding," he came back. Frustrated and bleeding all the while, I gave in, "Ice AND pressure then!" I shouted. At this point, dave performed the action for which he will now be publicly shamed. (Sorry honey, but nothing like a scarlet A to teach you a lesson. ;))

Looking for something to use to apply pressure and still finding no paper towels, David looks around for something else to do the job. He spots a kitchen towel, hovers over it, pauses, reaches for it, puts it down, looks around, hovers over it, picks it up, puts it down. Yes, all this while I'm bleeding heavily. Frustrated by his inaction, I grab the towel myself and begin applying pressure to the wound. Later as I'm getting the stitches put in, David said to me, only half jokingly "We ruined a perfectly good kitchen towel." !!! That's right, I'm BLEEDING, and he has the presence of mind to be concerned about a $2 kitchen towel.

So, we wrap my foot up, and I elevate it while we eat dinner. We decided it made sense to go to urgent care after the kids were in bed, that being only two hours away. So, we go to Patient first. They clean up the wound and point out that I've cut through every layer of skin right through to the muscle. It required 4 stitches. I asked if they could put me to sleep for them, but they only laughed at me. David was supposed to be distracting me during the stitches. Instead, he and the doctor had a conversation on the history of stitching and death by infection. Loverly, huh?

So, as the ten days pass before the stitches can be removed I notice that I am unable to life my big toe. That seemed kinda strange since my booboo was on the top of my foot, virtually dead center. After asking David and Ryan, they convince me that my foot's just bruised and that's probably why. So, when I went in to have the stitches removed I almost didn't even mention it, but on a whim just asked the doctor to confirm their suspicions. Quite to the contrary, she pronounced that to be abnormal. They took x-rays and deetermined it doesn't a bone issue. She wanted to refer me to a podiatrist, but my HMO (being the asshats that they are) only permits my primary care doc to do referrals.

To make a long story slightly shorter, it's a month before I can get an appointment. So a month passes, and I go to see the podiatrist. Diagnosis: severed tendon. He sends me for an MRI, sets up a surgery date (8/22), and goes over the process with me. When a tendon is severed it shoots up into the limb like a window shade. Then it shrinks like being run through the dryer. The more time that passes, the shorter and less elastic it gets. So, it's likely that the other end of the cut tendon is somewhere up around my shin right now. (Thanks again to my very efficient HMO and to Doctor Hart's terrible office staff.) I'll have to go under general anesthesia (hallelujah!) and he'll likely have to cut several tendons to graft pieces to extend the one that has shrunk. Depending on how far up my leg it has receded, I may be able to get off with two small scars (one at the top and one at the bottom), but if it's gone too far, I get a big long Frankenstein scar up my leg.

After surgery, I'll have to wear a cast for a month, and then I'll likely have a month or so of physical therapy. So, he's telling me this, and I'm taking it all rather well. We start talking about dates and scheduling the surgery. Very matter-of-factly I say, "I will be in Africa for 6 weeks beginning mid-September." He replies "Are you plane tickets refundable?" So, I'm not approved for travel. He said that air travel can cause blood clots, so it's not a good idea after surgery, especially since I'll be in a cast and not able to see any outward signs of clotting. Futhermore, I wouldn't have access to healthcare over there if anything should arise. So, my trip to Tunisia is postponed, and I'll be housebound for a month since my driving foot will be in a cast. Sigh.


By popular demand, Shelby's 2 week photos:










Shelby Mae was born Thursday, July 21st at 11:34pm. She measured a healthy 7lbs 10oz and 20" long.

Her arrival followed a pretty eventful day. Ryan, Danny and Kaitlynn were in a car accident, and although everyone was fine it seemed safest to have Ryan go in and be monitored. After 15 minutes on the monitor, the baby's heart rate started decreasing until it was down to 70bpm and then lost altogether. A very frantic barrage of staff rushed in, tried to find the heartbeat to no avail. They broke Ryan's water, and inserted an internal fetal monitor, talking about emergency c-section all the while. Needless to say, Ryan and Danny were terrified. Shelby's heartbeat came back with the internal monitor, and all was well. Except that by then, they'd given Ryan tetrabutaline to stop her contractions, so now she would require pitocin to bring her back into labor.

Ryan was really intent on having a non-medicated labor, so she was not at all in favor of getting pitocin which causes very intense contractions for the duration of labor. In normal childbirth, the contractions start mildly and slowly build while your body responds to them. In a pitocin labor, you have the intense contractions the whole time. Ryan decided that rather than fight the staff and possibly end up feeling like they really were not on her team, she should give in on the pitocin. They started the pitocin strip at 8:30. As they started it, she discussed how much she wanted us to talk her out of it if she asked for the epidural. David went into his Bradley Coach spiel, which was apparently right up Ryan's alley because she said "YES! That's the stuff you need to tell me if I ask for the drugs."

For the next hour and fifteen minutes, Ryan's contractions built. She seemed to be really dealing with her pain well. She would hold up her hand to signal to all of us to be quiet, and then she would tap her hand on her thigh. Towards the end of this time, she started leaning over with her head on the bed and her bottom in the air, and pulling her hair. But between contractions, she seemed lucid, was able to make jokes and carry on conversations. They came in to check her at that point (around 9:45pm) and she was at 4cm. She was at 2cm before the pitocin, so she was making progress.

After checking her, they turned up the pitocin drip to the next level of awful. Ryan's pain visibly increased. After half an hour her previous pain management techniques seemed not to be effective for her any more. She began sitting up on her knees with her eyes rolling back in her head, leaning on me for support. I began to worry how on Earth I was going to try to talk her out of pain medication - if she continued to progress at the rate she had been (1cm/hr) she would have to endure another 6 hours of this pain, AND they were planning to increase the pitocin drip every two hours. I wasn't sure she was going to be able to do it.

At 10:30pm, I left to bring Marisa up to speed (she was keeping the kids), and remember recounting my fears to her. When I returned to the room, Ryan went through maybe 15 minutes more of contractions, and then said with urgency in her voice that I needed to get someone to check her. It took several minutes for the nurse to come in and check her, and she was shocked that Ryan was complete. She was at 4cm only 45 minutes ago. Ryan really wanted to push, and the nurse told her to go ahead, but the doctor wasn't there, and Ryan was really worried about that. When the nurse realized that the baby was really coming, she hurried and got the doctor. Ryan spent probably 15-20 minutes of trying not to push while they got the doc and everyone got in place. Then she pushed Shelby out in less than 15 minutes.

Shelby went on her Mom's chest to be warmed and snuggled. We are all so happy that she made it safely into the world.


The old adage "Be careful what you wish for" pops to mind.

Lederhosen Extravaganza


Defective Yeti had an interesting exercise where you open a browser and see what sites you've visited recently for each letter of the alphabet. Perhaps it tells you a little something about the person. Then you copy paste the HTML for your own page.

These are my URL ABCs:

Here are David's.

These are my URL ABCs:


I got a kick out of this email today from a friend:

"Okay, so I don't have a life...but I "googled" the word possibilities today and came up with 40,000,000+ results. You mentioned a long time ago on your site that you could go through to page 22 and not find your site but if anyone wanted to try to go through the pages, to feel free to report back to you. So, like I said, I have no life and I did it. Your site came up on page 32. So now you know! =)"

And that, as Paul Harvey would say, is the rest of the story! Thanks Jamie.



For the best viewing experience, download this song, and stare at spiderman while listening.


Hilarious cartoon that pretty much summarizes my point of view on pharmaceutical companies.


One more batch. Caleb's newborn photos were done at Walmart's Photo Studio..







Some days I wonder who's in the driver's seat. Today I wished I didn't know.



More pics of my newest nephew, Caleb.

Sleeping in his carseat.

With my brother, Jed, his Daddy.

With the nurse who delivered him.

With my brother, Chris, his godfather.


That was a cliffhanger, huh? The car turns out to be fine. In fact the problem was, of all things, the KEY. It appears that when they sold us the car, one of the keys they gave us was an entry only key - without a computer chip and therefore incapable of actually driving the vehicle. This key has been buried at the bottom of the key basket unused for a year. Having misplaced my keys, I gave up looking for them on Sunday and pulled out the spare. That's when the trouble began.

I remember thinking too that it was silly that the spare key wasn't on David's key ring, so I attached it. The next day when the tow truck arrived to pick up the car, I didn't have the spare because it was on Dave's keyring! Luckily I'd found my own set of keys, so I sent mine in with the towtruck. Well, they got the car and "tightened some loose battery connections", which apparently means "couldn't find anything wrong with it, but didn't want to say so." It made me rethink the idea of David having the spare key though, so I put it back in the bottom of the key basket.

Imagine my surprise when the next day I had the same problem. I called the tow truck man and back he came to bring my car in. This time I gave him the spare key. Well, Hall Auto worked on it all day. They must have tested everything. Finally, they realized the problem wasn't with the car, but the key. Apparently my car thought it was being stolen. Luckily we don't hav LoJack or the boys in blue might have arrested me by now for repeated attempted larceny.

I guess the right side of all this is my car had a complete workover and got a clean bill of health just before the warranty expires.

Ironically, on the day the car was at the shop all day, I speculated to David that it might be the key as that was a parallel I could draw from the two days. It didn't make sense to me, but four years of working technical support for a software company taught me that the problem doesn't always make sense and that you can't ignore the "coincidences". Dave explained to me how ignitions worked and that it couldn't be the key, so I had a bit of a wry smile explaining to him what the trouble had been. He redeemed himself by getting on the horn to the sales department and convincing them to eat the cost of getting up a duplicate key that actually drives the vehicle.


Sunday afternoon we packed our gym bags and loaded Meridian into the van for swimming as usual. Started the car, started backing out - the car seemed to slip out of gear, not moving as I applied more gas. This has happened a couple of times, where the car won't reverse. Usually I put it in drive for a few inches, then reverse again and problem solved. This time drive won't work either. After several sessions of turning the car off and on, it won't start asny more either. A neighbor came over and tinkered for a few minutes, but it wouldn't take a jump either.

Panic starts swimming behind my eyes. Can it possibly be that another something has broken down? My god, please don't be the transmission. Regaining some calm, I check the warranty. Aaah, still covered bumper to bumper. PHEW. For only 2000 more miles. Phew, good timing! Check the towing/rental coverage. It expires on Feb 22nd. Wow. Lucky break. Calm settles back over me.

So yesterday I had it towed to the dealership. After a day filled with brief phone conversations and miscommunication, I got it back around 3pm. They said the battery connections just needed to be tightened. I drove it to the fire station to have the carseat reinstalled properly, and home. Last night Dave and I took it out to dinner. All is well again. No bill. Hooray!

Wrong. This morning, I load Meridian into the van and we're off to the rec center for swimming and then to the library for story time. Back down the driveway, the car won't reverse! Damn it. The tow truck just picked it up again. Now I'm nervous that they're going to willy-nilly around for the next 12 days until I have to pay for towing and rental, or worse yet for the next 2000 miles, and then I get to pay for the whopper bill of replacing my engine or some other such catastrophe. Sigh.


Karma Circles. I went to the store tonight specifically to buy greek olives to make a yummy appetizer that I stole from Marisa. So, I do my shopping, picking up a few other things in addition to the olives, which are such a rip-off at $5.99/lb. As I'm getting in line I pick up one of those pre-packed bags of food for the poor* as well. So, I get in line and wait my turn. As the guy in front of me finishes checking out and leaves, I see that he'd left behind the coupons that the register spits out, so I asked the cashier if I could have them. She said sure, and I collected them. As she rung me up, I noticed that one of the coupons was for $2 off if I used my mastercard. I smiled to myself thinking that karma was quick in that case and I'd bought my food for the hungry for only $3.

So, she rings me up, puts a paid sticker on my bag of food, carries it to the customer service desk, and I pay and leave. And I'm feeling a little euphoric for having done a good deed and am delighted at my $2 coupon and the idea that "good things happen to good people". At the stoplight, I want to look at my bill and get even happier seeing the bag of food and the $2 off, so I pull out my receipt. I'm looking, looking, looking. The bag of food is not on there. Wow! I have good karma twice over because not only do I have the good feeling of doing a good thing, but it looks like Farm Fresh funded it. On the remainder of the ride home, I rationalize that it's fine for Farm Fresh to lose $5 to hungry mouths, especially as I wonder if the food in the bag really is worth $5. I'm still feeling pretty good.

When I get home I'm sharing the whole story with David as I unpack the bags. And I'm revelling in the twist of my double good fortune as I realize that I'm done packing the bags. No olives. Check the car - nope. Check the fridge to be sure - nope. Check the receipt. Paid for them. Cost of olives: $4.94. Ahem, karma.


*Though I think it's great that they have food for the poor bags that people can conveniently pick up, I can't help but feel a little guilty as I buy them knowing that they are filled with junk like Ramen Noodles and Macaroni and Cheese. I asked once if they had any of those specially marked bags that I could fill myself from the market and pay the total for whatever the groceries amounted to. I just think with all the food in the market I could come up with a much healthier balance for a reasonable price. They don't. But I suppose giving something is better than nothing, and having once been on the receiving end of such bags of food, I know the hungry won't balk at mac and cheese.