All Grown up?

Clarence Joseph DuBois

1 October 2012

September 13, 1922 to September 29, 2012

Saying goodbye to my grandfather, Clarence DuBois. He was 90, he had been ill, it has been a long hard 5 months. He always said he’d never wanted to live to 90. I will miss him terribly. He was one of my favorite people. We didn’t always agree, but our conversations were always thought-provoking. Told me I looked sharp, but only when I did. Taught me so much about storytelling, joke timing, card playing, listening, even how to walk in the woods (“get your hands out of your damn pockets, Sarah”)

Grandpa, you’ll be missed.


30 November 2010
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And so another November has come to a close. And with it, so many dreams. Wow, I am coming from somewhere dark. It is dark outside – the incredibly shrinking daylight is getting to me. I am considering the idea that having snow on the ground might reflect some light from the moon. It has helped that the Christmas lights have sprung up all over the town. But it may be time to get a farm yard light.

Henry had his adenoids removed and tubes put in his ears in the middle of the month. The surgery was low key. His recovery was easy and fast. Despite my hopes, his internal volume control has only been notched down slightly.

Arabella is talking more and more. Bewwa enjoys her time with Gra’pa and Meemaw (Grandpa and Grandma). She wrestles with Hiyee (Henry) at every chance she can get. She is relentless, brutal and feels no pain or fear. She wants to follow Mi’enda (Miranda) and hang out in her bedroom. And as tough as she can be with Henry, she wants Miranda to paint her nails. Bonus for when they glow in the dark.

We had parent teacher conferences for the big kids. They are “Secure” in their work. Very secure. Henry is having a hard time expressing his upsets in words. Miranda is learning classroom management skills.

I have the Christmas cards back from Shutterfly.

Miranda now thinks it is a tradition to shop at 3 am on Black Friday. She is tired and grumpy by 6.

The cold that swept through our family in October after our trip to Texas has lead to antibiotic November. Rob has a sinus infection that won’t quit. I officially had pneumonia (much improved, but still a follow-up chest x-ray away before cured can be bandied about).

And I am going to start a new job in about 2 weeks. It has been a tense month for me. Excited for what’s ahead.

And catching up on 30Rock on Netflix has been amazing. I know the worst case scenario is that Netflix may either A. break the internet through overuse or B. break Net Neutrality, but I still love it.

Lake Life

1 September 2010
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Today was the first day of shool. There were high anxieties but few tears. This is a good thing. And the 40 minutes we waited for the bus to bring them home made last week, with the lazy days on the shores of Lake Michigan, seem even farther away than they did yesterday.  We had a delightful week in Jacksonport in Door County. The cottage was so-so. I don’t think bunk beds are in our future. But the sandy beach and the lake, wow. Lake Michigan was warm, the sand got everywhere, the children even got sunburned. Miranda turned 9. She went zip-lining and let her parents tag along. We rode bikes. I read five novels (my love letter to Monica Ferris will follow soon). We played a three generation game of dominoes four nights in a row. I was the youngest player. We had to buy beer over and over. In other words, awesome. I am ready for a beachfront life. (Click on any photo to see a slideshow)

Leaping lizards

25 March 2010
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I took today off. It is my birthday. I did very little. I took a leisurely shower. I played with the baby, who is cutting an eye tooth and is very very grumpy. I went out to dinner. I opened my lovely presents. I had cake! I finished my blook club book, which is good because I only have a 2 week rental? lease?  lend? on it. What an odd book. I should write a review that I don’t publish until after the club.

I have always liked my birthday. It almost felt strange to stay at home and not go out and foist my birthday on other people.

I meant to take photos of the children and get away with a picture post tonight. No one was quite cooperative. Maybe tomorrow. For weeks, I have had it in my head that tomorrow is a half day from school. Not a “no school” day. Despite my work and home and pocket calendars all saying “No School.” I am staying home tomorrow, but between it not being my birthday and the kids all being home, I don’t think it will be as off and tranquil as today.

that’s why death and taxes are mentioned together so often

23 March 2010
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It was ‘file the taxes’ night. I e-filed. I went with the flow. I didn’t stand up to the Man, whoever he may be and whichever side he takes on taxes. And I was weak, I paid to e-file the state taxes.

<Head hangs in shame>

I don’t think taxes are particularly taxing. I have a small business. I carefully deduct my expenses. I think taxes are somewhere between a dare and a standardized test. But paying to file them when a stamp only costs 44 cents? Who am I?

When did I get so old? I was a talking to a friend on the phone, a friend who I don’t know if I will ever again live in the same time zone as much less the same area code, and I felt the future curling in. I need some sci fi, STAT, with parallel universes and limitless horizons. Will I ever bump and bumble along, not seeing more than 6 months ahead? Not worrying more than 6 months ahead? Being caught up in the tunnel of children, nursing and diapers, with the future so bright and vague and far away. Will I go back to school and get that Masters degree in history, specializing in analysis of Mitterand’s Europe? Will we move to one of the coasts? Pursue a job at a newspaper? Make couple friends that have children of matching ages, political philosophies and live within walking distance? Find a sport that makes me want to exercise and then get really, naturally, happily excellent at it?


If this is growing up, I am glad it didn’t start until I was 30.


In other news, Bella continues to amuse me by laying down on the round and kicking her legs during tantrums. Has her exposure to babies been purely through TV? (NO, if you were worried.) She says Mama and hot and up all day long. Do we, as English speakers, have a word that means both up and down? Bella uses Up with context–if she is up, she wants down. If she is down, she wants up.

it may take 18 years

16 February 2010
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I am reading The Pillars of the Earth for a book club. So my skimming may be noticed. But I doubt it. The book is 900+ pages. The scope is huge. I can’t quite claim it is taking away my blogging time, but something is. And a book sounds better than my daily binging on NUMB3RS.

In news of the first order, my laptop’s hard drive died last Monday. I think I am nearly through the 5 stages of grief. I spent 2-3 days in absolute denial – I’ll just run upstairs and check my email. Oh, I’ll check the bills files.  Oh sure, you can play on my laptop, child. In 2005, I lost a computer to a massive hard drive failure, which I have come to think of like heart attacks. Some times, hard drives go bad. And data can be restored. Like a stent. Or a heart replacement. I seem to have really bad hard drive problems – the drive is unusable, the spindle doesn’t spin, there is no Hope.

The 2005 debacle did push me to make backing up my data a higher priority. After sporadic DVD backups, I bought an external hard drive in 2008 or 2009. And it saved me, mostly. I have all of the photos. I lost about  a week, as the hard drive was sending little hard drive signals that it was dying. But I didn’t know it. Despite its SMART system, it didn’t send me a message like “back up all your data, the barbarian horde is coming.” It did keep restarting and had a hard time coming back on.

In January, the family room computer, which was my old desktop computer, had a motherboard problem. (brain tumor?) The hard drives had been flaky and Rob doesn’t have time to build computers anymore. We did the unthinkable to ourselves circa 2000 – we went to Best Buy and bought a clearance desktop. It works. And as I am typing on it right now, it is a good thing in our lives.  But it isn’t my old desktop – it doesn’t have the programs, the bookmarks, the settings of my life. And that’s why I feel so a sea.

This hard drive failure has shown me that having pre-installed software, while convenient, is worthless in so many ways. My laptop is being reborn as Rob’s Ubuntu laptop, mostly because Ubuntu is free and we don’t have a free way to install the Windows Vista license we bought with the laptop. I am taking over Rob’s Windows laptop. I am pleased that Adobe is going to let me re-download my legal copy of Dreamweaver -I have a 3 year time-limit. Still not perfect, but better than the new copy of Office I had to buy for the family room computer. We had legal copies of Office, but not on a disc that I could just install.

This post-mortem excuse-apolooza is not as entertaining as it might be if I had more distance and less rawness. I also got a winter cold the weekend before my laptop died. So I was congested, gooey, feverish and cold, exhausted and drugged up…and having no laptop made me just sad. After a visit to Best Buy (how can this be?), I saw an adorable HP laptop. And the price was almost fair enough. But it turns out for a freelance job, I need to connect with a 32-bit version of Windows. So no new laptop would work. Thank goodness I can take over Rob’s laptop, I guess.

The only file I lost, I think, is my bills files in Excel. For some reason the most recent backup was from August 2009. The vagaries of backup are mysteries I don’t understand. My priorities going forward are definitely to keep up the automatic backups. They saved my bacon. But I have to figure out a way to not lose my software. Maybe I need to rent software? Would that help?  Probably not with an OS…

I have been thinking, so more posts soon. I hope.

A meta to do list

13 December 2009

Inspired by Melissa (Suburban Bliss), who was inspired by Maggie (Mighty Girl)…a list of 100 things to do before I die. I don’t remember why this isn’t a bucket list. Semantics? This is edition #1 – 25, I guess. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up with 101.

1. Take a road trip our west with the 3 kids. Have it be at least as fun as the Brady Bunch made it seem, minus the villain adventure.

2. Take my parents to San Francisco.

3. Spend a week in Disney World, stay in the park in moderate to deluxe accommodations. Not sweat or regret the cost.

4. Take a cruise.

5. Swim in clear blue waters, the kind in which you can see all the way to the sand bottom.

6. Take the Amtrak or the Canadian railway across the country.

7. Climb Half Dome. Stay in the park at Yosemite.

8. Take a credit card tour by bicycle. On flat-ish land.

9. Find a job outside of the house that is challenging, interesting, uses my skills, talents, pays well.

10. Save money just to save it. (Don’t spend every dime on travel or Target).

11. Take a sabbatical – live a life away from home for several weeks/months.

12. Volunteer for an organization that really needs my help.

13. Buy my way out of trouble.

14. Bicycle 10 miles every day for a summer.

15. Quickly walk a 5K.

16. Plant a garden, nurture said garden, reap the food and reduce my grocery bill all summer. Enjoy the process. Stick to it.

17. Spend the Christmas holidays at a resort in a warm clime.

18. Spend more than a week in NYC, in spring or autumn.

19. Make peace with my hair.

20. Be able to set up a tent, even if I don’t want to sleep in it more than night or two.

21. Try acupuncture…to relieve my allergies or headaches or unbalanced qi.

22. Write a short story.

23. Pick a sport/league/tournament and get a season ticket or visit all of the fields/stadiums/arenas. Care about the game because I’ll care about the players.

24. Perfect meatballs.

25. Make an entrance. Not sure if this something you learn to do or if I just want the serendipitous entrance with all the heads turning. Not for falling down in roller skates.

10 points

25 October 2009

Eek, a meme. Thank goodness we’re all reading that so I don’t have to think about if I should pronounce that “mem” or “meem.”

The 10 point blog bio.

1. I got married at 22, 11 years ago, making me 33.
2. My older daughter, Miranda, was born in 2001. She is in 3rd grade.
3. My son, Henry, was born in 2004. He started kindergarten this year.
4. My younger daughter, Arabella, was born in 2008. She is walking, after teasing us for 2 months. She is called Bella most of the time.
5. I stopped working full-time when I was pregnant with Miranda. I am a SAHM. Yes, it is dull sometimes, but nice most of the time.
6. I have been freelancing part-part-time when I stopped working full-time. marketing, web stuff, editing…
7. We moved to the suburbs in 2007 after 5 years in Milwaukee, 3 years in Chicagoland, 4 years in Madison, and earlier growing up in Milwaukee.
8. My parents live with us. It is awesome. Communes may not work, but grandparents are an evolutionary advantage.
9. I am trying to go back to work, but only part-time. (Yay! grandparents to watch Bella. I would guess at no other point in my life would work take of 3 of these spots.)
10. I am allergic to all furry pets and most furry animals (I’m looking at you, horses), dust, birch trees, molds, ragweed. No, we can’t have a puppy or kitten or even a lizard for that matter.

And etc: I usually only blog when I am amused, thus radio silence often means moods are low. I only sew at Halloween. My desire to garden far exceeds my ability, aptitude or follow-through. I like throwing parties. I love reading, beer, travel, and shopping. I hate being around cigarette smoke. I don’t eat mayo. We are done having children. I have a serious crush on California.

paths I have considered and rejected, vol. 1

14 October 2009
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You know the grammar duo who go around trying to right all of the wrong usage of commas, quotes and possessives? I’m sure they have a blog, but all I found was the Trib article. I don’t have the urge to take a sharpie and educate people, but I do have the urge to surreptitiously change signs with misspellings. Like the bank I passed today that promised to help me “SAOR to new heights…” with a savings account. I don’t want to tell them. I don’t want to talk to them. I just want to quietly switch the o and the a. I’d put o and a in quotes, but I am afraid of those other guys. And the quite funny Unnecessary Quotations blog. I would want to be an undercover language fixer, not a superhero.

A long time ago when the web was young(er), I took photos of every hotel I stayed at. With some idea that I would review the hotel for my own future use and to guide other travelers. But my information felt too random to be useful to anyone else but me. Ha! The web has proven over and over that random is OK and that useless is OK.

I always filled in the bubble for “plumber” as my career goal on standardized tests. If only the SAT listed pirate…that said, plumbing would have been at least as useful as the Latin I took in college.

angst, now with pictures

21 June 2009
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I am feeling sad and angst-y and retrospective and thoughtful. I think weaning is here. Or will be here this week. And I am ready, I think. But the milestone still makes me fret a bit. It feels so final – no more nursing. And for added fodder, no more nursing ever again. Bella is the last child I will give birth to, the last child I will breastfeed, the last child I shall wean. As the title says, angst, now with pictures.

Look at those baby blues

Look at those baby blues

If Rob were to write some angst about our children this week , those baby blues might star. Not that he as anything against blue eyes. It’s just that we ended up with 3 children and 3 eye colors. At 9 months, I don’t think they are going to change anymore. Maybe get a tad more gray. So we’ll have brown, hazel and blue eyes. My mom’s side of the family is all about the blue eyes.  So Bella’s genes had to work for those blue eyes…recessive traits do pop out sometimes, I guess.

Camera fun

Camera fun

There’s our brown-eyed girl. I don’t have a photo to document my angst on Miranda growing up. But it’s there. She is so tall, so grown-up, so smart, so mature. How did I get a kid this old?

I can stand up!

I can stand up!

In addition to starting to prefer the Soothie bottle, Bella is highly mobile. She is standing up all the time. On the day she turned 9 months, she discovered she could touch the television. If she just swatted her hands, she might turn it off! Wow.

She’s growing up on me. As much as 9 months ago, I could see that the baby stage would fly by, I am still feeling sort of sad that I am right.

Better, I suppose, than Rob being right. I kid, I kid.

Wearing her sun hat

Wearing her sun hat

In other news, Rob’s banging on the drums is actually music. Who knew? We were slightly skeptical because the baseline from another floor of the house…yeah, it doesn’t sound like a song. But put it all together and the band can play. Rob and his band rocked out last weekend.


Not a disco

The party was fun. The music was good. The hotel bed felt wonderful. By the end of the evening, I felt about as tired as this dog. Who must have decided I was too close to standing on him and he was too tired to move away. As any fan of PD Eastman’s Go Dog Go can tell you, a dog party really is the best kind.

my foot as pillow

my foot as pillow

Time is slip sliding away. Bella is weaning. And contemplating cruising the furniture. She is cruising the play pen. I’m not ready. At least tonight, while I am maudlin. Tomorrow, I’ll go back to clapping for her. And delighting her peek-a-boo. To feeding her as much food as she’ll eat (a lot). And asking her if she wants a  ba-ba after lunch.

Speaking of cheering, we’ve been clapping at Henry’s T-ball games. The summer league has begun. He’s adorable. And as much as small children playing a game that seems almost like baseball, but with less action, it shocks me how big he is.



Third Base

Third Base



Left field (is actually behind him)

Left field (is actually behind him)

Sunday nights are a fine time to cry a little in my beer. Better that they grow. Better that they succeed. Better that they are happy and healthy and get bigger every day. Hmmm…beer…finally, a reason to be happy about weaning. :)

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