Wednesday, March 30, 2005

On Being Busy, and Parental Pride

It's almost noon here, and already this morning I have:
  • taken PTA carnival fliers to school, some to be laminated and some to be posted. I also did the poster posting.
  • had the Sears repair guy change out the heater coil on my dishwasher (yes, my new dishwasher) because the old coil was under recall.
  • been to Cedar Rapids twice, once to pick up the rental roto-tiller, and once to return it.
  • as should be obvious by the last sentence, I tilled up our garden plot. I wanted to do it this morning since its supposed to rain this afternoon.
You know how they say "If you wash your car it will rain"? Well, I guess if you till your garden not only will it rain, but you get severe weather with it. We're under a tornado watch, so I've got my National Weather Service Spotter Report number programmed into my cell phone's speed dial and I'm ready for action. I plan to review my reporting protocols and severe weather cloud formations after I'm done blogging. That's about all I can do, considering that I slightly injured myself tilling the garden. I asked the rental guy for a front-tine tiller, one with lower horsepower than a rear-tine tiller, because the last time I used a rear-tine tiller the stupid machine almost ripped my arms out of my shoulder sockets, and I was sore for days. Well, this guy may have thought this was a front-tine tiller, but it sure acted like a rear-tine. I'm not too sore (yet) but even though I had the tillage brake all the way down, the tiller dragged me across the plot and was very hard to steer. I liked the front-tine tiller I rented in Bettendorf better.

But the garden is pretty much ready for planting. I need to go through the plot with the girls and pull out the sod chunks, put up posts and fencing, and move the bird feeder to the center of the garden before I can plant. That's not too much. Oh, and I also need to buy seed. I'll do that next week.

And now, on to the Parental Pride segment of this blog. Last September, Hannah won an Outstanding Effort award from her school for working so hard in class. Well, her class has 22 kids, and they give out three awards per month, so by now every kid's gotten some kind of award and her teacher is on to Round Two. When the kids asked "Does everyone get two awards"? she said "No, you have to earn a second award." Well, Hannah did, but this time it was Student of the Month!! My baby, my little girl, is Mrs. Andersen's Student of the Month!! Talk about beaming with maternal pride. The first thing I did after the ceremony was over was to call my Mom and tell her. You just can't keep something like that to yourself. And yes, Carl was very proud, too, and he was there for the ceremony, video camera in hand and a big grin on his face. What a guy.

I call Hannah my little girl, but she's not so little anymore. She's just started wearing a bra, and she has early adolescent acne which we treat twice a day with various over the counter medications. (Thank you, Clean And Clear.) She can look some of the shorter ladies in our church congregation right in the eye (she'd look Grandma Chilla right in the eye) and she wears a size 8 women's shoe. In three years, two months and two weeks (approximately) she'll be getting her learner's driving permit. It hardly seems possible, but there it is.

Well, I must be going. The sky is getting dark and the pickup is parked outside. Oh, no! I just realized that I have the pickup, and my new Expedition is parked at Rockwell!!

I hope it doesn't hail.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Other Observations, and My Girls

Has anyone other than me noticed that almost every investment firm in the U.S. is advertising during the NCAA basketball tournament? I've seen AIG, the Hartford, TIAA-CREF, T.D. Waterhouse, and Principal Financial, to name a few. And speaking of Principal Financial - Mary was watching a game with me (actually, I was watching and she was drawing a picture) when the Principal Financial commercial asked, "Why do we work?" and Mary said, "To get money, stupid!" Is she a smart kid, or what?

This morning is Resurrection Sunday, aka Easter, and my girls (naturally) got Easter baskets. They got the obligatory candy (but not Peeps, they won't eat them) and they also each got a small nesting doll. I can't spell the Russian word for them, but it's pronounced mah-choy-ska. These things are amazing. The dolls are only 1.5 inches tall, but there's TEN dolls in each set. The last one is nearly microscopic. Carl and I told the girls that these things are for "pretty" but if they want to play with them they must be CAREFUL and also not open the dolls past the fifth doll. We're afraid that the smaller dolls could get lost, and I could never replace them. Plus, these things weren't cheap. But they're a nice keepsake, an heirloom that they can pass down to their own kids, which is why I got them.

The girls started into their candy almost immediately. This was OK, since the girls were up at 6 a.m. and we weren't planning on eating breakfast until 9 a.m. at church. But Hannah got a little surprise. She was chewing on a yellow jelly bean, and she lost a tooth! So I guess she gets some money, too.

Well, I need to go. It's time to leave for church. Happy Resurrection Sunday, everyone!

Man Oh Man Oh Man

Ah, March Madness. The closer you get to the Final Four, the more intense the games get. I watched both games yesterday and ended up hoarse for shouting. I was very happy that Louisville triumphed over West Virginia because the Mountaineers took out Texas Tech and poor ol' Bobby Knight. Now, there's a guy who (I bet) misses the Glory Days.

And speaking of West Virginia, I hereby dub them "The Team With The Weirdest Player Names". Out of their five starters, they had guys with names like Sally (who's she?) Herber (pronounced Hair Bear) Pittsnogle (what's that stuff under your arm?) and Beilien (if you throw him the ball fast, is that making a beeline for Beilien?). Honestly, the four of them sound like the world's most bizarre law firm: Sally, Herber, Beilien and Pittsnogle, Attorneys At Law. But I'm not sure if I'd leave my will preparations with a guy named Pittsnogle. On the other hand, if he makes it into the NBA, his name lends itself to an endorsement contract with an antipersperant maker.

Well, onward to the second game, Illinois and Arizona. Was that an amazing game, or what? I'm glad Illinois won, but I would have been just as happy with 'Zona because I like Lute Olson. But man oh man oh man, what a game. When Deron Williams hit that three pointer at the end of regulation, I was screaming, "He tied it up! He tied it up! I don't believe it, he tied it up!" Immediately, Carl and the girls came running in. They'd left when Illinois was down by 15 with four minutes left to go. I'd told Hannah that Arizona had the game wrapped. Why? You see, I have this hypothesis that goes: if the point differential is greater than six points AND the point differential is greater than the amount of time left, there's no way the team that's behind can catch up. I'm right 99% of the time. This one fell in the 1%. But I don't care that (this time) my hypothsis proved incorrect. It made for a great game!! Now it's up to Wisconsin and Michigan State to make it an almost all Big 10 Final Four. Wouldn't that be cool? I sooooo hope that Wisconsin can beat North Carolina. Go Badgers!! Oh, and for my nephew Jonathan, Go Spartans!

If you cross a Michigan State player with a Scotsman, do you get a Spartan in a Tartan?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

More Blatherskite

I got an e-mail today from a friend in Missouri. She sent me a chain letter that said if I send this message on to eight people I'll receive a miracle tomorrow. As If. I don't think God's plan for my life will be altered by passing on a chain letter. Isn't that what prayer is for?

Last September I blogged about Hannah receiving an award from school. They hand out awards monthly for effort, citizenship, and student of the month, three awards per class. Well, Hannah will be receiving ANOTHER award on Tuesday the 29th. That's my girl!!! I'm so proud.

Hannah is in her school's Talented and Gifted (TAG) program, and they've been learning about aviation. Did I mention previously that Carl gave a presentation about how airplanes fly and how the cockpit controls work? Well, he did. So it was only logical that Hannah's aviation presentation be about "How the cockpit works" specifically the cockpit of a Piper Warrior. She and Carl made up this really cool display with the picture of the cockpit, labels around the picture naming the different instruments and how they work, and yarn going from the description box to the instrument in the picture. Her TAG teacher was very impressed. Carl also helped her write up a short blurb to go with the display board. It was really neat to see father and daughter working together on a project. He's such a good daddy, and she's a smart kid - two peas in a pod.

Speaking of peas, Carl and the girls (and me too, I guess) are going to plant a garden this spring. We've already had a piece of the backyard tilled up, so now it's a matter of figuring out what to plant where, how much space each type of veggie needs, and when to plant them. NO - I will NOT be planting strawberries!!! So I need to go to Menard's and get fence posts, chicken wire, and some other stuff I can't remember right now.

Maybe I should pass on that chain letter. It will be a miracle if this garden project works out.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

I'm Confused

I've been watching the developments in the Terri Schiavo case, and quite frankly, the whole thing is one sad mess. Some doctors say she's in a vegetative state, some say she can be rehabilitated to the point of verbal communication. Some people say she should live no matter what, and some people say she should be allowed to die and have peace. In the middle of this bitter battle are the Schindler's (Terri's parents) and Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband. I don't know all the teensy little details of this case, but the answer to one question would go a long way toward clearing things up for me. It's a question that goes to the husband's motivation for Terri to "exercise her right to die".

If Michael loves and cares so much for Terri, why is he living with and fathering children with another woman?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Teams Of Interest Update #2

The first two rounds of the NCAA tournament are over, and of the original 16 teams I was following, I have six left: Illinois, Arizona, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Wisconsin and Michigan State. I'll definitely lose either Arizona or Oklahoma State in round 3 as they have to play each other. At this point I would prefer to see Arizona beat O.K. State. There's just something about Lute Olsen that a person really has to admire. And I don't even know the name of the O.K. State coach. I don't want to know, either.

But when it comes right down to it, the team I'd like to see win the championship is Illinois. I've been an Illinois basketball fan for 21 years, ever since I spent six months living with my brother Bob in Covington, Indiana. Bob's old congregation (and the little town it was in) was big into basketball, and they were in the middle of a triangle formed by Purdue, Indiana and Illinois. I was walking around town in an Iowa State jacket and people told me, "If you're gonna live here, you need to choose one of our teams." They of course meant this in a good natured fashion, and since I wanted to get along, I chose Illinois. Why? Because Illinois is next to Iowa, and back then Illinois was in a big fight with the University of Iowa (Iowa State's intra-state rival and arch nemesis) over some player who chose Illinois over Iowa and somehow got a Chevy Blazer out of the deal. Whatever. So I went with Illinois, and (if my memory serves me correctly) they won the Big 10 championship that year. I don't really care much for Illinois football, but I love to watch their basketball team, especially when they play Iowa, and even more especially when they beat Iowa, like they did twice this year. So, go Illini!! It's time to go to Chicago and break the UW-Milwaukee's slipper.

Oh, and by the way. I will be cheering for whatever team is playing against the University of North Carolina, since the Tarheels absolutely buried my poor Cyclones. But most of Iowa State's team is coming back, so (as the Cub fans say) wait 'til next year!!!!

But until then, GO ILLINI!!!!!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Teams Of Interest Update #1

The good news: Iowa State 64, Minnesota 53. My collegiate alma mater advances.

The bad news: as I was cheering my Cyclones on, yelling "Come on, boys!" Judah thought I was calling for him and, since I was moving about excitedly, he bit me on the arm.

Oh, well. As they say in the NCAA, no blood, no foul. I can take one for the team.

But the dog stays out for the rest of the tournament.

It's A Madness World

I love March. Not because Mother Nature can't make up her mind on whether she wants to be warm or cold, wet or dry, rainy or snowy, windy or not. It's because March is the only time of year that daytime TV is worth watching. It's NCAA tournament time, and all the stupid CBS soap operas get pre-empted for basketball games. Yeehaw!

I printed out the tournament bracket, and then went through and hi-lighted all the teams I want to follow. The Big 10 conference teams (Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Iowa) are pink; the Big 12 conference teams (Texas, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Kansas and Oklahoma) are blue; teams of interest (Arizona, Southern Illinois, Gonzaga, Northern Iowa, and Cincinnati) are yellow. So far, of the 16 teams I'm following, two are gone - Texas and Iowa, and 8 haven't even played yet. I know I'll lose two more teams for sure, since Iowa State plays Minnesota and Northern Iowa plays Wisconsin, and they can't all win. Of those four, I expect Northern Iowa to get whipped by Wisconsin, and I hope Iowa State can beat Minnesota. Go Cyclones!!

I'm not really all that upset that Iowa lost (sorry, Mom!) because they lost to Cincinnati, a "team of interest". I like Cincinnati because my niece and her husband live there (in the town, not at the college) and my nephew-in-law is a campus minister there (the college, not the town). I follow the Big 10 (actually 11) and the Big 12 because they're the two major conferences that cover my state. As for the rest of my teams of interest, I like Arizona because their coach is Lute Olsen, a first rate gentleman and former U of Iowa coach. Poor guy, he got a really raw deal when the old athletic director ran him out of town. I like Southern Illinois because they're in Northern Iowa's conference, and they're good. I like Northern Iowa because they're in Iowa, and I like Gonzaga because they have a weird name and they're fun to cheer for. Go 'Zags! or Bulldogs! Whatever they're called, go Them!!

Anyway. The only thing I regret is not being able to watch the games with my Dad. It became kind of a ritual when I was in high school, and then in college (home on spring break) watching the games with Dad. We'd sit there in the living room (I usually had one of the farm cats on my lap) yelling at the teams and refs and analyzing what the teams were doing right and wrong. Dad loved to armchair coach teams, and I think he would have made a decent high school coach if he'd had the patience to become a teacher. But he made a better engineer than a teacher, so he armchair coached, which was always fun for me to watch. Plus I always learned something about basketball when he did. So I guess I can chalk up my love of college basketball to my Dad, who taught me everything I know about the game.

Thanks, Dad.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

It's All Routine

I realize I haven't blogged for a few days, but I've been busy. The girls and I spent the weekend with my Mom, and then of course Carl came back from Brazil on Monday (yea!!!). He took Tuesday off from work to catch up on stuff (like paying bills) so I've been busy helping him. Today I get to wash all the laundry he brought back. Ahh, back to the old routine.

There's alot to be said about having a routine. Sure, you can "get in a rut" as some say, but there's a comforting sensation in having a daily routine. Carl gets up first, sometime between 5 and 5:30 AM. (I'm not sure what time he gets up - I can't see the clock because my eyes are closed.) He gets ready for, and then goes to, work. Hannah gets up next (unless she got to bed late) usually around 6:15 AM (is she Daddy's girl, or what?) and takes her shower. The noise and light from the bathroom get me up, and I get dressed and go wake Mary. We go downstairs, have breakfast, and then I help the girls finish getting ready for school, and I get them to their busses. After they're gone, I do "chores" - I feed the dog and refill the bird feeder. I wonder who the idiot was who coined the phrase "you eat like a bird" meaning you don't eat much. Judging from the amount of bird seed and suet I've bought this winter, if all people really ate like birds they'd all be as big as Momma Cass. I'm amazed at how much seed the average flock of sparrows consumes.

Anyway. After my "chores" are done, I come in and get on the computer. I check my list of favorite blogs, I read my favorite online newspapers, and I check my e-mail. Then I go do whatever work is left to be done, like today's laundry. If I'm done with (or didn't have any) work to do, I go downstairs to the shop and paint. This lasts until 3:22 PM when Mary's bus brings her home. I help her unwind from her day, then Hannah comes home and I help her. Then I try to make some kind of supper, after which Carl comes home. We eat dinner. Hannah does her homework. Other miscellaneous stuff happens (like every other night Mary has her bath) and then the girls go to bed, ideally around 8 PM. Then Carl and I finish whatever it was we were working on, and then we go to bed and sleep. (We're too tired for anything else.) And the next morning, the routine starts all over again. I realize that this is only the weekday routine, but I refuse to try to explain our weekend routine because it isn't routine. It's usually some kind of organized chaos.

But I'm glad Carl is home and the routine is restored. Normalcy is back, and relative calm has settled over the household. I can now relax. Well, relax as much as any woman with a husband, two kids and a large dog can.

I think I need to go downstairs and paint.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Ups And Downs

First, the ups: Carl called me this morning and we had a nice chat. I feel much better now, and very relieved. Also feeling relieved are about half a dozen of Carl's fellow students who are recovering from a one day stomach virus. I had no idea that Ralph Hurley and Ivan Trotski were going on this trip, too. Fortunately, Carl has managed to stay healthy down in Brazil. I just love the protecting power of prayer, don't you?

Speaking of praying, pray for one of Carl's associates, a lady named Sarah. She wound up in the hospital with a pinched nerve in her arm. The group had no idea of how they were going to pay her medical bills until my prepared-for-anything hubby (for Carl, B.S. means "boy scout") pulled out his Collins S.O.S. insurance card. They were able to contact Collins' insurer and get payment through them. Ain't Carl just a great guy?

More ups: Carl managed to find a cyber cafe and read my blogs, so now he's up to date on everything that's happened here. He even managed to e-mail me, despite the fact that all the instructions on the computer were in Portuguese. So I guess most of this blog is for everyone but Carl, because you didn't know the stuff he told me.

But here's an up I forgot to tell Carl: Lois Bickner, my mother-in-law's cousin (and a very nice lady) asked me six months ago to paint four metal pieces for her. She'd seen a Bauernmalerei piece I did for Lois (my mother-in-law Lois) and really liked it. That's saying alot, because Lois Bickner is an artist herself, specializing in china painting, and I have several of her pieces. But anyway, I said no problem. I'd paint her metals. She even offered to pay me. But since it took me six months to finish her project, I told her that if she didn't pay me, I'd understand. Well, she really is a nice lady, because I got a very generous check from her yesterday. Online shopping, here I come!

Now for the downs (there's only one): remember a couple of blogs ago I said that we used to get ice storms here during the middle of the Iowa girls state basketball tournament? Well, its the middle of the tournament, and an Alberta clipper moved through, giving us snow and ice. Not a lot, but enough to make me shift the pickup into four wheel drive when I took Hannah to her bus stop this morning. I'm glad I did my household and grocery shopping yesterday.

And now that Carl has called and I am no longer pacing by the phone, I am going down to the shop to spend a restful afternoon painting. Ahhh, the sweet aroma of acrylic paint. It's almost as pleasant as Carl's deodorant.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


When last we met, the Bode girls were on their way out the door to sign Mary up for softball. All done, no problem. After signup the three of us went to the Ced-Rel Supper Club for dinner. Carl had won a gift certificate there, and I asked him if we could use it while he was gone since he doesn't particularly care for the Ced-Rel. He said yes, so off we went.

This was the girls' first time in a restaurant nicer than Perkins. Before we went in I told them to be on their best behaviour because this was a high class place, and I must brag and tell you that my girls were better than good. They were angelic. The waitress went out of her way to praise the girls on their good behaviour, and I of course gladly expounded upon that. I may have been tough on my kids when they were little, but it paid off. My girls are the politest, best behaved kids on the planet, and I don't mind telling everyone so.

I mentioned that the Ced-Rel is a "high class" place. Well, it is, sort of. Back in "the day" when Highway 30 was the main east-west route across central Iowa (before Interstate 80) the Ced-Rel was a locally renowned "key" club. That means that, if you were a member, you had to have a key to get in, or else know the password and give it to the doorman when you got there. The window on the door was a two way mirror, so that the doorman could see you but you couldn't see him. Later, when club membership declined, they opened the door to the public but still called themselves a "supper club". I think that must have been in the 1970's, because they haven't updated the decor since then. Also, most of the patrons are older adults. As a matter of fact, there were three elderly ladies seated in the corner opposite from us, and when we left they looked shocked to see children, especially children that they hadn't heard. Don'tcha love it? And as far as the food goes, it was good. I had jumbo shrimp that were really jumbo. These things were three times the size of the jumbo shrimp you'd get a Red Lobster. Mary had a grilled cheese kids meal with about a ton of fries, and Hannah ordered a "steak sandwich". I thought it would be sliced steak on a roll, but they sent out a New York strip steak on a couple pieces of toast. Poor Hannah, she didn't know what to do with all that meat. She ate as much as she could, and we boxed up the rest and brought it home. We also brought home some pieces from the "relish tray" that the Ced-Rel traditionally serves with the salad course. Believe it or not, we brought home battered fried chicken livers. Apparently, this is something the Ced-Rel is known for (good or bad, I don't know) but Hannah LOVED those things. I guess I shouldn't be surprised at that; Hannah also likes lima beans. But I made her promise to share some of those livers with the dog, and boy was he thrilled. He about bit my hand off trying to get to the liver I was holding for him. Yeek.

So today was pretty normal. The girls got home early because today was a parent-teacher conference day. Hannah had her conference at 6:20, so we had an early supper of delicious frozen dinners. Actually, they aren't that bad. But we were in a hurry to leave, so I left the girls' TV trays on the floor with the idea I'd get them later. When we got home, I forgot the trays were still there and I let the dog in. Yep, he found them first and licked them clean of whatever food tidbits were left. Then he chewed the plastic trays and juice boxes to pieces. Fortunately the trays were on a blanket on the floor, so the worst thing is I have to do is wash the blanket.

However, I am a little mad at Carl. He had a 3 1/2 hour break between his afternoon class and supper, and I figured that he'd call then since us girls would be gone to Hannah's conference when he got back from dinner. (There's a three hour time difference between Iowa and Brazil.) But he forgot, because he called at 9:30 Brazil time, 6:30 Iowa time, while we were at the school. Therefore, I shall have to scold him (gently) about that. As far as Hannah's conference, she's doing great. Her grades stayed the same or went up, and her teacher is very impressed with her. The teacher gave me some advice on prepping Hannah for 6th grade (prep work for the summer) so again, as they say in the Old Country, alles gut.

Well, its 9:00 Iowa time. Time for Law and Order on NBC. So long!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Observations of a Reluctant Bachelorette

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. This is most definitely true in my case, but I've also found that absence makes the heart grow weirder. Case in point - I was feeling really blue last night. It was around 9:20, the girls were in bed, there was nothing on TV, nothing new to read online, and I was tired from the previous night's bout with insomnia. Plus I miss Carl. I really, really, REALLY miss Carl. (I don't mean to guilt trip you, honey.) So I decided the best thing to do was get ready for bed, watch the news, watch Leno, then go to sleep. I went upstairs and, because I had nothing better to do, I started poking around in the bathroom vanity drawers looking for toenail clippers. However, what I found was one of Carl's deodorant sticks. Trust me, he took deodorant with him; he asked me to buy him a new stick for the trip. But here was a nearly used up stick, right next to the needed toenail clippers. And I realize this is going to sound gross, but I opened the deodorant stick and took a couple of great big whiffs. I know, EEWWWW!!! But think about it. Carl never uses cologne or after shave, but he does use a nicely scented deodorant that gives him a distinct and very pleasant aroma, especially in the morning. So snorting Carl's deodorant was like catching his scent early in the morning, right after the bathroom door opens and he comes out ready for work. This actually cheered me up, and I had a smile on my face as I clipped my toenails.

Snorting deodorant is not nearly as gross as taking the dog to the vet for his spring checkup. I suppose the trip could have been worse. Judah just had a bath Sunday, so he didn't smell bad. (I guess if he did I could grease him down with some of Carl's deodorant.) Anyway, the nastiest part of the spring checkup is the lab test for intestinal parasites. For those of you who've ever owned dogs, you know what this means. For the rest of you, testing for parasites requires you to go outside with a plastic baggie and find the freshest possible sample of dog doo, scoop a piece into the baggie, tie the bag shut and take it to the vet. This is NOT a pleasant scent. Add to that the difficulty of driving down a major U.S. highway with a hyper 100 pound dog pacing in the back seat of your pickup. (Don't worry, honey. I covered the seat with a cotton dropcloth.) There is good news, however. Judah has no intestinal parasites, and he was well behaved for the vet. He didn't even struggle when the vet assistant wrapped him up so the vet could take a blood sample from his leg to test for heartworms. The bad news is, the checkup and three months worth of preventative medicines cost almost $140. That's cheaper than treating him for disease, though.

So, I was in a good mood when we left the vet's office. The dog's healthy, the sun's shining even though its cold, the girls got to their buses on time again, etc. Life is good, I'm thinking, so I'm going to take a small gamble and go to the Taco John's drive through and get some lunch. I mean, the worst thing that could happen is Judah jumping into the front seat in a vain attempt to get my food. But, as they say in the Old Country, alles gut. Judah stayed in the back seat. He stuck his nose out the window when I got my food, and he licked me once on the cheek when I was mooching potato oles from the bag, but that was it. Oh, and he did try a sympathy ploy - he laid down in the back seat and put his head on the center console. I could see him out of the corner of my eye, looking up at me serenely, doing the soleful eye routine. Didn't work. All he got for his effort was a pat on the head and, when we got home, two milk bones to bribe him into going into the back yard.

So, that's it. All that is left to do today is take Mary to the school at 5 pm and sign her up for softball. Her friend Kelsey is going to play, so Mary wants to, too, also. I hope it warms up soon so I can take Mary outside and start teaching her some softball playing techniques.

You know, like how NOT to hit the ball through one of our windows.

Monday, March 07, 2005

How Cliche!!

There's a cliche in Iowa that goes "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change." They weren't kidding. Yesterday was a beautiful day - it was sunny, albeit windy, and we had a record high of 73 degrees. Mary and I went bike riding (until we got tired of being sandblasted by the southwest wind). The girls and I gave Judah a bath. The neighborhood kids were outside playing. It felt like spring, but Mother Nature was tricking us, for winter has returned.

It started last night. A cold front moved through, bringing rain and a line of thunderstorms, some severe. I tracked the storms via internet radar, and I figured they'd hit here around 11:30 p.m. I went upstairs around 11:20, got ready for bed, and watched the lightning move closer. There was no cloud to ground lightning, fortunately, but I knew that ten minutes after I got in bed the storm would get close enough so that you'd hear the thunder, at which point Mary would wake up crying. (Mary hates thunderstorms and is very scared of them, just like I was at her age.) I was right, but I was prepared. As soon as Mary woke up, I moved her into Hannah's room and the girls spent the night together. That's the usual solution.

The storms passed relatively quickly, but I didn't sleep very well because I wasn't sure if another line of storms would move through or not. But came the dawn, and when I went to get the girls up for school Hannah complained that Mary had hogged the blankets all night. I knew that was coming, too. Happens every time. So I sent Mary back to her room, got Hannah up and into the shower, and et cetera, and the girls made it to their buses on time. However, today's weather is nothing like yesterday. The sky is grey, the temperature is 36 degrees (and falling) and it's as windy as a Ted Kennedy stump speech. I know it was windy yesterday, but that was a southwest wind. Now the wind is from the northwest, and the meteorologist said we may yet see snow. Oh, yippee. I looked up the weather for Brazil, and it can be summed up in one word: tropical. I'd say it must be nice, but then there's my previous blog, so I won't. Be careful, honey!

I should have known that the weather would do this. Not because I'm a weather junkie (I even went to Severe Weather Spotter training last month) but because its time for the Iowa girls' state basketball tournament. The weather always gets weird during the girls' tournament. When Iowa still played six-on-six half court we'd get a mid-week ice storm, without fail. Now that they've gone to five-on-five full court we just get weird weather.

Welcome to Iowa. Don't forget your boots, parka, umbrella, ice scraper and sunscreen. You never know what you'll get.

This is NOT very reassuring

I got this article from Yahoo! News. Carl, if you get this message, WATCH OUT in Rio!!

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Airports have them; government buildings have them. Now buses in Brazil's crime-hit Rio de Janeiro state may get metal detectors to ward off gun-toting criminals.

More than 1,600 bus robberies occurred in the state last year. The route between the city of Rio, the neighboring town of Niteroi on the other side of the scenic Guanabara Bay and nearby beaches is considered to be one of the most dangerous.

In what would be the world's first such effort, a prototype of the device will be tested over the next few weeks, a Rio state transport spokeswoman said on Friday.

"The president of the department requested the detector in order to reduce the number of holdups," she said.

If approved, the device will be compulsory on more than 1,000 interurban lines run by more than 100 companies.

Buses are regularly robbed and sometimes hijacked and burned in this seaside tourist destination, where rich and poor rub shoulders and drug gangs rule in the hilltop shantytowns.

Most tourists use the fleet of cheap yellow taxis and tourism-class buses.

In one of the bloodiest attacks, last November a gang pumped rifle fire into a bus going to Rio from a city in the state's interior in a bid to kill a rival drug trafficker. Two people were killed and 15 were wounded.

Buses are already being equipped with security cameras and cell phones.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Blatherskite from a "Bachelorette"

Well, it's 3:20 on March 5, and Carl is somewhere in the friendly skies on his way to Sao Paulo, Brazil via Dallas, Texas. His flight (actually, his and his classmates' flight) goes from Cedar Rapids to Dallas, where they have a two hour layover before they fly out overnight to Brazil. The whole thing sounds incredibly uncomfortable - I don't think I'd enjoy trying to get a night's sleep on an airplane at 30,000 feet. Yuck.

I felt a little sorry for Carl. I mean, he was really looking forward to this trip. It's a great opportunity for him. However, at the airport Mary clung to his leg, crying and saying "Please don't go, Daddy! I'll miss you!" Believe it or not, this was totally unprompted by me. But I knew she would do it because she is such a sweet, loving and cuddly child who is devoted to her Dad and to have to go without him for a week and a half is hard for her. Fortunately, Carl had prepaid for the latest Veggie Tales DVD, which came out today, so on the way home from the airport we stopped and picked it up. The girls are watching it now. But Mary cried all the way from the airport to Family Book Store. Poor kid.

Carl ended up taking three bags with him. One was his carry on, the other two got stowed and will hopefully make it to Brazil with him. We split the packing. He packed all of his basic necessities, like underwear and socks, and I packed his outfits. I laid his pants out on the bed and started matching shirts, ties and sport jackets together, according to what the event of the day was. We were lucky enough to get an e-mail from his classmate T.J. who had looked up some cultural stuff and mentioned not to wear yellow and green, as these are the "national colors" and its considered rude to wear them. Whew!

Speaking of T.J., when we got to the airport I asked T.J.'s wife Vicky if she'd chosen T.J.'s outifts the way I'd picked out Carl's. She said, "Of course! He's an engineer, isn't he?" Lack of fashion sense must be ubiquitous amongst engineers. However, she's trusting T.J. to remember which shirt goes with which pants (T.J. said he's on the "Garanimal" system) while Carl had me write down the contents of each outfit so he wouldn't screw up and wear the lilac shirt with the khaki pants, or whatever. I understand this, really; Carl has more important things to think about than how to match his wardrobe. All engineers do. If they didn't, we'd probably still be using horses and buggies while the engineers were trying to pick out the correct tie to wear to dinner.

So now the girls and I are "bachelorette-ing" for a few days. We'll probably live on frozen dinners, Wendy's take out and popcorn. I can handle that. As long as Carl comes home on the 14th safe and sound, I can handle anything. I think.

Hey, who let the dog in the house, and what's he doing with that bag of cookies?!?