Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Good Old Days

This is the type of work place bonding I miss!  While our office is grieving the loss of a wonderful man this picture surfaced.  I think it was taken sometime in 2003 either right before or right after our little company was acquired by the worldwide corporation we are part of now.

Our dear Todd is kneeling in the front, blue shirt, bandage on his ear.

That's me sitting down with the blue and green sweater on.

Carla is the one on the left in jeans, Tuan is the one on the floor with Kleenex in his nose, Cindy is the one on the right blowing her nose, and Shannon is the photographer.  We are the only ones from this picture left around here. 

I miss the rest of them daily!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Thank You Todd

I was 19 years old.  I was taking classes at the community college, working a retail job, in the perfect relationship with my soon to be husband, in a difficult relationship with my parents, and dirt broke.

I was very unhappy and didn't know what to do so I changed everything.

I quit my job.  I finished up my classes and did not re-enroll.  I moved out of my parents house.

I took at job through a temp agency and ended up doing data entry for a very small company.  After working there for 3 months their hired me on full time and I was given a job working for a man named Todd.

He was wise beyond his years.  I know now he was about 32 when we met, one year older than I am now, but to me he seemed like he had been around much longer than that. 

I had moved from my parents house to my sister in laws house to a rental house all within 15 months.  Then I got married and moved again.  I also patched things up with my dad.

The right things were happening but they were happening very quickly.  And I was very young.

I felt like I was getting my personal life under control but I really needed help with understanding where I wanted to be professionally.  With the guidance of Todd, and the work ethic my dad gave me, I organized the data entry work to be a 3 hour a day job instead of a massive pile of work that was never done at the end of the day.  I spent the other 5 hours of my day looking for work to do which lead to me learning some very basic coding and spun my next job.  When that job eventually went away he trusted me to build two very complex new products and be a product expert which started me on the path to the job I have today.

After the wedding and after we were settled in our apartment I decided it was time for me to return to school.  Todd was nothing if not supportive in this decision and not only helped me decide what to study but he allowed me to make my hours flexible so I could take class during the day.  I was able to get my AS Parallel degree in about 15 months.

When I was lost, anytime I needed advise, anytime I needed someone to believe in me, Todd was there to listen and give me guidance.  He was a very important person at a time I was very much lost.

In 2003, when this small company I was working for was acquired by a very large company, Todd decided it was time to move on.  We kept in touch with the occasional email.  I shared milestones such as the birth of my daughter and my promotions with him.  When I returned from maternity leave and realized I no longer had the passion for the job I returned to (and someone else was doing it very well) I sought his counsel on where to go, unsure if I should leave my company or seek another position within.

Friday night, Todd was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident when he struck a deer on the highway.  Many, many lives were greatly altered in that moment.  His wife.  His three children. His family. His friends.  All the people he mentored, just like me.

Todd was a caring, funny, inspirational man.

I will remember him because he was pivotal in my early 20's.  But I will also remember him because he walked around the office with no shoes on, one of my favorite past times!

I remember the time we had a happy hour and he had to many beers so he slept in his truck in the parking ramp that night.

I remember him hiding a fart machine by the printer and pushing the button anytime some walked by.

I remember him draining the all the cold water from the water cooler to fill his 128 oz water mug with the big KQ92 on the side.

I remember the time someone sent him and email that listed the 20 things you should not do if you want your coworkers to think you are sane.  He set out to do them all which included running laps around the office returning to his office, slamming the door, and returning to work.

I have so many more memories that I will carry with me always.

I will take comfort in knowing that you lived live every day.  That you raised three beautiful children who will continue your legacy.  That you died doing what you love.

Todd, thank you for everything you have done for me. Thank you for the memories. I will always be eternally grateful to have had you in my life.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Free Lunch For Kids

What are you feeding your children this summer?  If the answer is nothing then you need to know about the Free Summer Lunch Programs in your area.

Second Harvest Heartland realizes that the children who are on free and reduced lunch may not be able to eat at all in the summer. 

Did you know that kids who don't get lunch in school each day might not get a meal at all that day?

Do you know that there are starving children in the house next door to you?

Please help me get the word about this program out to as many people as possible.

If you are need or know someone who is please visit this website for more information:  Second Harvest

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Little Critter

Way back in October my brother in law found a Caterpillar in the shop at his work.  He brought it home and it ended up at my house. 

This thing sat in an oatmeal container in Heidi's room all winter.  I was told by many people that if I wanted it to hatch I needed to keep it in my crisper.  Well, that wasn't going to happen.

A few weeks ago Shawn threw it in the trash.  Heidi and Emily promptly took it out of the trash.

Last week I threw it in the trash again.  The bag of trash was in the kitchen waiting to be taken out to the can when all of a sudden I heard a scratching noise.

Shawn asked what I put in the trash bag and I realized the oatmeal was in there so we pulled it out, gathered the kids, and...

Everyone stand back!!

Oh, well, that was anticlimactic.  But it appears to have hatched and it appears to be alive!

Wow!  That thing is huge!

This is a moth. A Cecropia Moth. It is the largest moth in North America.

And it was in my house for almost 8 months. Man, am I glad this thing was not in my crisper!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Spring BBQ 2010

Last weekend was our annual BBQ.  I think we have been doing this for 12 years and it has come to be something we all look forward too.

The last two years it has rained.  Last year we ended up in the basement due to severe weather and some of our guests went home to damaged homes.

This year was raining, making it 3 years in a row. 

Heidi and Ethan didn't mind. They just curled up on the couch and watched Spongebob.
We had about 30 guests but the life of the party was this little guy.  Thomas Blaine, Graham and Amy's super cute, super sweet, super chill little boy.

Most everyone took off shortly before the sunset but Kristen hung around and entertained Heidi.  Or Heidi hung around and entertained Kristen.  I am not sure what was going on but this child can be found hanging on just about anything.

Thanks to our friends and family for making this a great time for as many years as it has been.  I hope that next year we get a break in the rain and can actually get out of the garage!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What's For Dinner? Pasta Primavera

This is our second Meatless Monday and dinner was great!

I made the Pasta Primavera dish from one of my favorite websites - Pioneer Woman.

The link to the recipe can be found HERE and I strongly suggest you give it a try for you next meatless meal.

I loved this dish but I had a few things to change next time - I would like half as much red pepper, twice as much broccoli, and I have a problem with over saucing and ended up thinking it was to dry therefore adding more stock to find later it was to runny.

Shawn really liked it too.  He would add more peas.  Which would be possible as we had plenty of extra frozen peas.

All of the veggies are fresh except for the peas.  And they were still crunchy when served.  Just the way I like it.

My only caution is the recipe states this will feed 4.  I am left to wonder how big the intended servings would be.  I served it as 8 servings and they were HUGE!  I could have easily served 10 adults with this pot of food.  Additionally, when tossing everything together my very large pan was not nearly large enough even put it all together, let alone toss, so I ended up putting it all in my largest stock pot.  Since I did not use my largest stock pot to cook the pasta I had three dirty pans when I was done and that's not a good thing.

I had a lot of prep dishes as well since I prepped the meal, went to Skating, then came home and cooked the meal.  I had something like 6 prep bowls, two plates for transferring the veggies, 3 pots / pans, and that's not even the dishes used to eat the meal.

All that little stuff a side it was a great dish and if you can get any of the ingredients out of your garden it will make it that much more delicious!

Monday, June 14, 2010

One Mile At A Time

I am 31 years old. Today, I ran my first ever mile. At 31 years old.

I just cannot believe it!

I have tried to be fit my entire adult life but I never succeed. I have always thought that being fit was about a number on the scale.

My problem is I can never get the food and the exercise thing going at the same time. I am either eating well and not working out at all or I am eating a lot more because I am exercising which makes me hungry.

I know that I eat when I am bored. I know that I eat when I am emotional. I know, now that I am 31, that I can be aware of these things and make a conscious decision if I am going to eat or not.

I also know, now that I am 31, it is not about a number on the scale. It is about how I feel.

When I eat greasy, fatty food, I feel gross.

When I don’t exercise I feel gross.

I now know what it feels like to feel good. And I know that is how I want to feel all the time.

And I am okay with having taken 31 years to figure this out. I am young enough to do something about it.

I am also now able to set a good example for my daughter. And that’s what really matters to me!

I get a good laugh when we go ice skating and she laps me calling out “Look at you, mom! You look great! Keep it up!”

I love swimming with her and seeing how exhausted she is after an hour in the pool because she worked her hardest the entire time. She really encourages me to keep moving and not just bob around the pool.

She really is my inspiration. In many different ways.

I will not say, that at 31, I have it all figured out. I doubt what is working for me would work for everyone else. But today, I ran my first ever mile. I ran it in just under 12 minutes. And I am damn proud.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Crystal Vehical Fair - 2010 Edition

Last summer we discovered the Crystal Vehicle Fair and it quickly became one of our favorite summer outings.  As soon as the date for this year was published it went on the calendar and we planned to show up as soon as it opened.

Mitch and Briana joined us this year, as well as Willy and Emily.  We got a little bit of a late start because we were getting ready for another activity later in the day. When we got there we had to park a number of blocks away and hike it.  The kids were so excited they ran and bounced the entire way there!

The first thing you see when you enter the fair is the race car.  Mitch jumped right in.

He looks at home here! Cars are in his blood!

We could not get Mitch out and Heidi got impatient so she just joined him.

Then it started to sprinkle.  Just a little bit.

But we were okay because there was a garbage truck to visit. Heidi climbed right in.

Then it really started to rain and I became preoccupied with how to stay dry and stopped taking pictures.

We spent the next 10 minutes in a Coburns Delivers truck before we decided to sprint to the community center building to meet up with Jess and the kids.

The rain never let up and the owners of the vehicles started to take them home. Our trip was over with only 4 vehicles visited.

The kids were bummed. We typically have such nice weather for our adventures they are not used to being rained out. Now the countdown starts for next years fair!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What's for Dinner: Meatless Monday

Yesterday was the my first Meatless Monday and it went very well! I am in no way interested in becoming a vegetarian but I do want to do my part, no matter how small, and cut out meat one day a week.

I was reading in the paper the other day about a movement called Meatless Monday so that’s the day I picked. I talked to Shawn and he is completely on board. He actually suggested that we have one vegetarian meal a week so this meets that goal.

For me, I will not eat any meat on Mondays. For Heidi, I will do my best not to pack meat in her lunch, fix meat for her breakfast, or serve her meat for dinner. For Shawn, he is on his own for breakfast and lunch so it’s up to him how he wants to participate but there will be no meat for dinner.

This is what I ate today:
Breakfast – Bagel with Peanut Butter and Coffee
Lunch – Banana and Vanilla yogurt with granola
Snack – Nature Valley Crunchy Peanut Butter Granola Bar
Dinner – Thin Spaghetti noodles with Prego Garden Veggie Sauce

Heidi ate:
Breakfast – Donut holes and juice (yeah, I know, not very nutritious!)
Lunch – V8 Broccoli Soup, Pretzels, yogurt, grapes
Dinner – Thin Spaghetti noodles with Prego Garden Veggie Sauce

Over all we did very well and didn’t miss the meat at all. Since it’s a once a week thing I think we will be able to make this stick.  The baconator would not make it more than one day!

Next week I am trying out a recipe I found for Pasta Primavera. I will take pictures and post my review here next Tuesday. Look for it!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bernie's Montessori School

Heidi attends Bernie's Montessori School. They have a location in Richfield and Downtown.  We could not be happier with this school.  The teachers are great, the program is fantastic, and they go on some pretty cool field trips. 

Judy is Heidi's teacher and the director.  She is amazing and has provided us with some very useful advise and much needed times.  She also taught Heidi to ask to be excused from the table!  I am in total awe of this woman.

This Montessori school starts when the kids are about 3 years old and they can stay for a Kindergarten program if they want.  It was our hope that Heidi would go to Kindergarten here but she was accepted to a school that she has to start in Kindergarten so she will be moving on at the end of the summer.

Last week was the Spring program and Kindergarten graduation.  The graduates read us a speech they each wrote about their favorite things at Bernie's Montessori.  It is always really cute and a little tear jerking!

After the little graduation ceremony, the rest of the kids come out and sing a bunch of songs they have been practicing since the last program.  An outside music teacher comes to the school once a week to sing with them.

Are they not just adorable?

Heidi was really excited because she was tall enough to be in the second row for this program.  She has always been in the front.  Since her main goal in life is reaching 40 pounds and getting taller so she can go on all the rides at Como Town this was a huge deal for her.

The kids really enjoy the songs and get into singing them.  Some of the songs have dance moves which causes them to randomly ram into each other. Other songs might have some signs that go with them.  The older kids can even tell you what the sign means.  I love when they sneak learning into songs!!

It's like pulling teeth to get Heidi to tell us about her day so it was a real surprise when she was called up to be a song leader for the last song.

They each made a star that they used as a prop while singing a funny song about what they will do when they grow up. It included lyrics about staying up late and going on a date when they are 16.

This picture was just to funny not to include!

We were sad when we realized this would be Heidi's last program at the Montessori school. The next chapter of her life is about to start. We are so happy to have found this school. It was everything we could have asked for and more!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Out Numbered

Poor Willy.  We need to find some boys.  He is always out numbered.  Then when Dawn's nieces are around it's just not fair!

To make matters worse, there is one girl missing from this picture!

At least in he is not wearing Princess Dress Up Shoes in this picture...