Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Errata

I screwed up on the Fair Tax post. Thanks to Anne and Colin for letting me know.

Read about the Fair Tax at http://www.fairtax.org/

Monday, February 27, 2006

Dagny Kicks Ass

Not really, but we did manage to do the 5K loop at the park in 30 minutes - except for that 20 minute break after mile one to breastfeed, go potty and dress Dagny in my sweatshirt (she was cold). We will try again later. Imagine how great we could do if we weren't hungry or cold!

Note to joggers: even if your stroller wheel is out of round and goes glide . . . bump, glide . . . bump on pavement, the bump is not noticeable on the park's trail. : ) This will allow me to put off my stroller repair for another week.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

My Girls



Here are my girls, in their party clothes (courtesy of Nana) after one change due to spit-up. Since they were both dressed at once and I was a few minutes ahead of time (WONDERS!), I thought a portrait was in order. Too bad you can't see the whole beautiful red skirt - next time.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Here Comes the Rain Again

The rain came in this morning, but not fast enough to prevent me from getting my run in. Dagny was up from 2-4am (eating and then we had booger issues) so I was dragging this morning but I got her up at 6:40 (she was grumbling, but not fully awake yet), fed her and put her back down. Doug held down the fort while I sallied forth into the drizzle.

Luckily, we went to the mall yesterday to meet Camille so I managed to FINALLY get a new battery for my watch. Hooray! I timed the run today and did my 2.8 mile loop in 27 minutes (approximately - because I forgot to push start until I was on my way up the hill). Ten minute miles - not bad for a woman who has not exercised regularly in 6/7 months. I don't know if running once or twice a week this past month counts or not. Regardless, today is the first day of getting back into better shape. : ) My world record for the 2.8 mile loop is 22 minutes, 25 minutes for the 3.2 mile one so I've got a long way to go, but under 10 minute miles is a huge victory.

The light rain was not unpleasant and it was warm enough that I didn't freeze. Amazing what good the humidity will do for a stuffy nose/head. Natalie said that she finds good stuff on her runs, but I found only a bolt and a screw and a smashed battery. The nut and screw went into the storm drains because I couldn't carry them and I didn't want anyone to cut a tire, but I left the battery.

Wow, I've missed my runs. Those endorphins really make the rest of the day easier. I was able to prepare and schlep both girls to two birthday parties today without losing my temper once.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Food for Thought

Maybe you have noticed the sudden appearance of "dinner places" at which one can purchase a meal or meals in which most of the preparation is already done. We've tried a couple of them and here are my thoughts:

Whatz for Dinner is a store near us (they also have an in-town location) which is owned by a former chef. He and his wife do all of the prep work so that customers may order meals to pick up ready for cooking. The menus are interesting and varied and the food was very good. The instructions were sometimes lacking, but someone who is a frequent cook would not have a hard time winging it. An example of one meal we had was stuffed pork chops: You put the butter/oil mixture into your pan and heat it up, then add the chops, onions and garlic, once the chops are browned on one side, you flip them, add the sauce and mushrooms and put the whole pan into the oven. Sweet potatoes were ready for boiling with butter/seasoning to add at the end after mashing. Vegetables were cut, seasoned and buttered, ready for the microwave. If associating the meals from this store with a Food Network show, I'd say that Emeril is the closest. The cost: $7-20 per meal. Fish and holiday meals are fancier and cost more than the pork/beef/chicken stuff.

Super Suppers is a meal preparation store at which one may purchase 6 or 12 entrees to take home and freeze. The store will prepare the meals for you or you can go in and assemble them yourself. The lure here is that you can have "meal parties" with friends or family. I'd associate this store with Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee because the food is all pre-done and customers just assemble it. Some meals that I made at our playgroup party were chicken en croute (pot pie), stuffed green peppers and pasta fagiole soup. The food is also very good, but either their portion size is way small or Doug and I eat like lumberjacks. Cost per entree: $3-4 (their portions) or $6-8 (our portions).

Please note that neither of these places are for vegetarians, though they do offer some vegetarian things. Doug and I guessed that the cost to purchase them (rather than make them at home) would be too high to make vegetarian meals a good value. For some cool vegetarian ideas, check out this blog - the vegan lunchbox.

Anyway, the nutshell is - both of these places (and the billion other ones cropping up everywhere) are interesting and I will be surprised to see which operational model ends up being most successful. They do save time (how much time is debatable) but they cost more than cooking from scratch so they will likely remain a nice treat for us instead of a regular plan.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Civic Duty

I've just finished writing my elected officials to thank them for their support or urge their support of the Flat Tax. After reading The Flat Tax Book (by Rep. John Linder and talk show host Neal Boortz) and finally finishing the voluminous paperwork necessary to send 1099s to our sub-contractors and send our tax information to our accountant (so he can actually do the tax returns), I am more in favor of tax reform than ever.

Doug and I have discussed the possible downsides and unintended consequences of a flat tax, but I still think it has to be better than the incomprehensible mess we have now. Rather than taxing income and legislating "breaks" to encourage certain behaviors, tax consumption across the board with a credit (prebate) for the tax which would be paid on the necessities. That way any increase in taxes would be transparent and won't turn into a "tax the other guy" scenario.

You, read up on this issue and write your elected officials to tell them what you think! It matters that our representatives hear from us - whether you agree with me or not.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Outside the Range


This is my dad holding our niece, Sophie. She is a darling girl.

So I joined up at myspace so that I could see my sister Emily's page and because my friend Anne suggested that it was fun to find folks from the past. Well, clearly I am too old for myspace. I posted the poncho photo of me and Dagny but very little else. When I looked in my high school, there were no people older than 31. It was very neat to see all of the photos of Annika, Sophie and Dagny on Emily's page, though. In the midst of all of this blast-from-the-pasting, I found an old boyfriend via Google (he was quoted in a newspaper article). Apparently, the man I dated before Doug (we affectionately called him Butthead) is now married and has a baby daughter. He was a pilot, but quit that because of Delta's troubles and now sells real estate. Interesting.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Camera Mastery
















After the old camera died (just after the poncho photo), we got a new one. Fortunately, the new camera is better in quality and easier to use but unfortunately my computer/printer/thing that you plug into are not. So, after much trial and error, I have mastered the art of downloading photos from this camera - it requires direct connection to the computer (which means crawling under the desk), but it works!

Here is the promised baptism photo (Uncle Robbie and Aunt Jennie are on the outside with me, Father Frank, Dagny and Doug in the center) and a photo of my girls that was taken yesterday. Annika loves to have her picture taken, but it is difficult to get a genuine smile. Dagny just does her own thing - she has a beautiful gummy smile and I've made her laugh (finally) but it's hard to catch on "film". Please take note of the beautiful baptism gown that my Aunt Debra made.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Three Hours!

Last night was Dagny's first meal with Dad. Doug has always been good about taking care of Annika on tennis nights so I could go out with the ladies, but Dagny wasn't ready to drink from the bottle yet so I've been staying home since she was born.

So, after last week's Herculean efforts to introduce the bottle, yesterday Doug told me not to come home early, gave both girls (and himself) dinner, bathed Annika and put everyone to bed. I, on the other hand, went to tennis practice with my girlfriends and then out for a glass of wine and some food. It was lovely. I played like crap (what do you expect with 4 months of no practice?), but it was still fun.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Stupid Stupid Stupid

Last night, I thought it would be a good idea to leave Annika's valentines to take to school to finish this morning. Then, when he left at 6:30 this morning, Doug said "you should sleep in" because Dagny was up a lot last night, so I did - until 7:10. STUPID.

We were very late for school this morning. Annika ripped the "circles" off of the bottom of all of her cards so they would not close. Then, she forgot how to use stickers to keep the valentines cards from "bouncing open" though she manages to do it to every single birthday card we send though we've discussed repeatedly how I'd like her not to do so. I managed a shower by locking the screaming baby and the dog in the bathroom with me while Annika ate her breakfast and (allegedly) colored her valentines cards. Lunch got made while Dagny gave us more screaming and Annika tried very hard to finish her valentines. Curses on the woman who did all of her valentines early and attached the candy to the cards and brought presents for both teachers.

I had to stop for a coffee and scone just to make myself feel better.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Payback

On Friday, after Mexican, I put Dagny down in her car-carrier while I took care of some business. She hates the carrier and immediately began getting agitated and searching for something with her eyes. She moved her head and eyes from side to side - sweeping the room, until she found me and smiled.

It completely made up for the fact that she woke every 2 hrs to eat during the night.

In other news, she had bottles (with no fussing at all) on Thursday and Friday. One was formula and one was breastmilk, but they were both very warm so maybe that was the difference. You'd think we would have figured this crap out by now, but apparently not.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Torture

So, we are working on getting Dagny to take a bottle. She had a few at the hospital when she was born, I tried once the week she came home, and my mom has given her three (3) bottles at various times so I could go to the doctor or work, but other than that, she has been all-boob-all-the-time.

It's totally selfish, but I need some down-time so we are trying to give her a bottle every day to get her used to it. Monday, she ate 3-4 ounces of (gasp) formula during an hour of screaming. Tuesday, 2 ounces of breastmilk with more screaming, but she was wearing most of it. Wednesday, 1.5 ounces of formula during the wailing hour. Do you see a pattern? Bottle-feeding is torture for everyone - even the dog.

Doug's sister may try to help me today or tomorrow. She is the one who taught Annika to take a bottle so maybe she is the magic we need. If our schedules don't mesh or if Dagny refuses the bottle again today, I may go insane. On one hand, it's very complimentary that Dagny likes the boob so much - she is quite a bruiser and it's all because of me! On the other hand, though, I would really love to do something (anything) by myself or with just Annika. Four months of 24/7 responsibility is a long damn time - how I'd like to disappear for just an hour.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Inspiration

I'm not a good runner. I love to run and it makes me mentally and physically better, but I'm not fast and not pretty. Think about a fast-moving upright turtle - that's me.

My friend Natalie, however, is both fast and beautiful to watch. She runs like a little kid - even when pushing her kid uphill in the stroller. Anyway, Natalie can run a marathon and she generally kicks ass. Whenever I am trying to go faster or run better, I think to myself "run like Natalie". You can read Natalie's blog here.

So Darn Angry

Doug and I have discussed this issue before, so when I read the article on the front page of the Wall Street Journal on Friday about the federal budget wrangling, it was not a surprise. What was surprising was the depth of anger the article caused. Maybe I was just stressed out, but I've simmered all weekend and I'm still angry this morning. Here is the nutshell - 85% of the federal budget goes to three (yes, 3) things which no politician of either party will touch with a ten foot pole: national defense, social security, and medicaid/medicare. So all of the BS posturing that we see when the budget is discussed each year is over just 15% of the total budget. The talking heads discuss, opine, argue and finger-point about items in the budget and the press dutifully reports it all, but nobody ever discusses or tries to "fix" the real problem - it's just not politically advantageous (more like suicidal). Meanwhile, we edge closer to disaster every day.

Some folks, who are retired or close to retirement age, don't want to "fix" (by "fix", I mean make solvent) social security because that would mean that their benefits would be cut. They are operating under the assumption that the money that they paid into the system was held in trust by the government and will be repaid to them according to the plan when in fact, the money they paid in was paid out the same year to other beneficiaries. Nobody banked any money, so the current beneficiaries are living off of the money paid by the current workers. So, you ask, when the number of beneficiaries increases and the number of workers decreases, won't there be a problem? DUH . . . yes. But no one wants to fix the problem. Medicaid/Medicare has a similar problem, but will be insolvent much more quickly - it won't be our children's problem, it will be our problem. Has anyone posed any reasonable solution(s)?

No. Bush posed a half-assed solution to the social security problem last year which came to nothing. Neal Boortz and John Linder have allegedly proposed a solution in their Fair Tax book. I'm still reading that book so I don't know if their proposal is reasonable, but my gosh, how could we (voters), our parents (retirees or almost-retirees) or our elected representatives have allowed this mess to occur and why isn't anyone trying to fix it?

It's beyond ridiculous.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Don't Inhale

When refilling the dog's self-feeding bowl, do not inhale unless you want to be breathing and tasting dog food all day long. Even the dog food that costs more than steak still tastes like dog food.