Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Meme!

The Two-by-Two meme

Two Names You Go By
1. Mama
2. Mutti

Two Things You Are Wearing Right Now
1. Army Racing Polar Fleece
2. Citizen Eco Drive Watch

Two Things You Have to Have in a Relationship:
1. conversation
2. laughter

Two of Your Favorite Things to Do
1. nap
2. read

Two Things You Want Very Badly At The Moment
1. A Job
2. Some spare cash

Two Pets You Had
1. Kelly - German Shepherd dog
2. Jasmine - cranky calico cat

Two People Who Will Fill This Out
1. Tal
2. Janiece

Two Things You Did Last Night
1. Made dinner
2. Surfed the web

Two Things You Ate Today
1. peanut butter (mmmm..... peanut butter)
2. leftover spaghetti

Two People You Last Talked To
1. The lady from Home Depot
2. The Senator

Two Favorite Places
1. Lake Baikal
2. Wherever Sarge and the kids are

Two Things You're Doing Tomorrow
1. cleaning
2. packing up some boxes

Two Longest Car Rides
1. Paris, Texas from Sparta Wisconsin
2. Ft. Lewis, Washington from Sparta, WI

Two Favorite Holidays
1. Thanksgiving
2. Fourth of July

Two Guilty Pleasures
1. Superior Chocolate
2. Mele-macs

Two Things I Last Got in the Mail
1.Magazine subscription bills
2. credit card offer

Two Things that Make Me Laugh
1. irony
2. My kids' laughter.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Stream of Consciousness

It's been a weird week. Lots of things rattling around in my brain (mostly because there's nothing else there). I'm just going to kind of let them fall out.

I'm disturbed by the declining quality in public education. The increasing focus on teaching to the test makes me crazy. This week I read that teachers are pushing for more civics education in the classroom. We've cut art and music and phy ed and now we're cutting social studies because our kids can't master the three "R's"? Maybe it is time to take a long step backward and look at how the rest of the world does it? We're not getting it right. Over the course of raising this army of children I have, I've watched the slow decline of educational quality - handwriting, music, art, etc. and feel generally helpless. I wonder what my loyal readers recommend? After seven hours at school, the last thing the Senator wants is for me to enrich his learning experience, but I fear that if I don't, he won't be adequately prepared for real life. Sometimes I think about homeschooling the boys but how can I do that and bring in the paycheck my family so desperately needs? I want them well-rounded and that means music and art education AND civics, science and social studies. I want them to be able to THINK and be CURIOUS. You know with the focus on Reading, Writing and Math, these things all fall away and our children continue to lose ground with the rest of the world.

Speaking of global competitiveness, I read today that Circuit City is cutting 3,500 hourly store employees simply because they are overpaid. These workers can re-apply to do their same jobs at a lower wage rate if they desire to do so. Seems weird. The only way that the business and political community think that we can try to compete is on price. This is sad. We should know by now that we cannot and should not try to compete on price. We need to work smarter, not harder and not cheaper. This mentality erodes our government and our economy and must stop. We need to conquer the weaknesses in our educational system and compete on innovation in science and technology. We compete on innovation by raising children who are curious, capable of reason and critical thinking and by cultivating those qualities in ourselves. If we model them, our children will follow. Children who can develop their thoughts both linguistically and scientifically. We will continue to stagnate and bleed jobs as long as we continue teaching to standardized tests.

We compete also by rediscovering our own inquisitiveness. I am a believer in Lean methodology, for example. It disturbs me that even within our own government Lean is all to often misinterpreted to mean "Less". Yes, if I am personally leaner it means there is less of me. But being professionally "Lean" means that I work smarter and not harder. To make a process "Lean" does not mean eliminating people or machinery unless it is determined that they are truly excess. However, to me, the greatest benefits from Lean processes come when you can do more with what you have. Lean doesn't mean cut jobs, it means more throughput with the same resources. It is thinking, questioning, finding new ways to do more with what you have - or the same with less. It has never been, as far as I know, doing MORE with LESS.

I also think it would be fascinating to apply Lean methods to a variety of sectors - including education. Maybe I am beating a dead horse on our schools today, but I think that too much responsibility has been shifted away from students and parents because too many of them would avoid the responsibility and subsequently the standardized test scores suffer, our children fail, their schools fail and their funding gets cut. It's a vicious circle. Maybe downward spiral is a better description. But you know what? I think failure is okay. As a parent, you set the example by prioritizing education. Children need to see that they will get out of school exactly what they put into it rather than growing up expecting to be spoon-fed throughout life the way they were in school. It needs to stop! And rather than going through math problems on a page one at a time, send it home as homework. You'll have more time to teach civics, art, music and science! Hooray!

My home sale process is causing me stress. First, no one seems interested in our house. It's a great house in a good location. Literally, you are five minutes from so many things - schools, shopping (TARGET!!!), a multiplex, restaurants - and have a nice peaceful backyard anyway. This situation makes me want to puke. Literally. If the house hasn't sold by the time we PCS, our housing allowance drops anyway. If I don't have a job (and that's another source of stress to come later), there's almost no way we can swing that mortgage payment. Especially if we're in housing with NO BAH.

I looked at homes to buy last weekend, nothing spectacular. One I'd wanted to show Sarge now has an offer on it and that is perfectly okay. He's telling me now that it should be three years max back at McCoy so I wonder whether buying a house is worth the trouble. I think we'd be better off living in housing and getting rid of two cats. Want one? But again, there's the BAH and the Michigan mortgage issue to contend with.

On the job front, I think I've sent twenty resumes over the past two or three weeks. Not one call-back so far. At least send me a rejection so I no longer hold out hope, you know? I did get an inquiry, as the result of my monster resume most likely, for a marketing position. It seems interesting enough but is a 25% pay cut vs. my last full time position. Of course, the recruiter promises growth opportunities. I don't know if that's wise or if I can afford to do it, but I'm meeting with them next week for an interview. I'd like to see some other opportunities manifest so I feel like I'm not just jumping at the first thing that comes along, you know? I'm open to suggestions so feel free to offer some. I have also given very serious thought to becoming a financial planner. But it takes three years to build my book of business and we're only planning on three years in the upcoming location. I don't think it is smart to attempt to be a financial advisor and move that often and I don't think I'm interested in staying in one spot while Sarge finishes his career. I'd spend the better part of the next ten years in a long-distance relationship and so would the children. It seems neither viable nor wise. Please, loyal readers, please share your thoughts on the matter. I mean, I always say it isn't about the money and I mean it but I did post my things I'd like to do in the next five years and they're not cheap! In all seriousness, I need to consider the cost factor of commuting and day care and all the fun things that go with it plus find a good cultural fit. That's crucial, you know?

Had coffee with my old boss (from the bad place) on Tuesday. It was nice seeing her. Nothing that went down there was really her fault so I am hoping we can rebuild the friendship. That'd be nice. Having lunch in a couple of weeks.

Make it a great week! Watch this. If it doesn't make you laugh you are way too stressed out!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Rest In Peace

I am pretty sure that my five loyal blog readers don't watch drag racing but my favorite motorsport lost a very bright talent last Friday. If I make it to the Joliet race this year it will sure seem strange not having Eric Medlen there.

It is consoling, however, to know that he died while doing what he loved. He'd found his calling and that's a powerful thing.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Another Five!

Yesterday, I wrote that one of the five things that makes me happy is my friend "JP" (you know EXACTLY who you are!). JP and I met on our first trip to Russia to meet the Beautiful Russian Princess Julia, the Senator and the Khan. We just hit it off - because unlike me she's not shy - and have been friends ever since.

Here are five reasons WHY I love JP!

1. She is passionate! Her relentless advocacy for children (and adults I suppose) affected with cleft lips and cleft palates is inspiring! Not only does she seek cleft affected children that need parents and bring them to her family (and those two are GORGEOUS!), she has made caring for them her career path. Talk about a woman of ACTION! Speaking to a whole group of medical pros without peeing your pants is no small feat woman! I don't think I could do it.

2. She's caring. She's a great mom, a great wife and a great friend.

3. She's awe-inspiring! She's a peds nurse and she is totally committed to what she does.

4. She loves me! I still don't know why, but I'm glad she does!

5. She's fun! She's the kind of friend who couldn't bail you out of jail because she's probably sitting next to you saying "We really messed up!"

XO JP. Thank you for being a great friend.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Today is a better day and to keep the momentum rolling I'm going to give you five lists of five things to think about.

Here we go!

Five things that make me happy!
1. I've lost 9 pounds.
2. I dropped ten points off my cholesterol too! (I feel really old having to monitor this!)
3. JP is my friend. She's awesome!
4. Spring seems to be getting serious about showing up!
5. I had a problem free day working on SAP today. Only one thing and I got a fast answer so all is good!

Five things that make me sad:
1. I wish my siblings were closer (and nicer sometimes).
2. The Senator's been sick this week.
3. I backed out of multicultural day at his school because I just couldn't squeeze it in!
4. I have to drive to Wisconsin on Friday. I really hate that drive.
5. There's virtually no action on our house.

Five books I recommend:
1. The Ugly American by William Lederer.
2. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
3. The Bible
4. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
5. Any collection of Mark Twain's work. He is really a brilliant satirist in my mind. Yes, I'm simple. So?

Five Movies:
1. Crash
2. Se7en.
3. Blazing Saddles.
4. The Quiet Man
5. Breakfast at Tiffany's.

5 Undeniable Facts:
1. Anyone that doesn't like children isn't to be trusted.
2. Crayons are therapy in a box.
3. So is playdough.
4. If your dog doesn't like a person, you probably shouldn't either.
5. Trying to keep cats out of the bed is a total waste of time.

Oh and a bonus:

5 things I would like to do in the next five years:
1. Adopt again.
2. Go to Italy.
3. Buy and Rehab houses.
4. Go to Australia
5. Learn to Kayak.

What's your list?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Free to a Good Home!

Suffocating Insecurity, Low Self-Esteem and Crushing Lack of Confidence! Hide in your house and hope it all goes away! Also included a serious dose of cranky and a touch of pissed off.

Call or e-mail today. If I don't call you back it's because I assume you have better stuff to do than talk to me. Thanks!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sunday Morning Time Waster

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Self-Indulgent Saturday...

It has been that kind of week. Chaotic for no reason, stressful and depressing. The realtor tour is the only action I've seen on the house since it was listed two weeks ago and none of my job attempts have been warmly received. Yes, I know, you don't want me to talk about it and that is why I haven't been blogging.

I'm basically cranky and battling a whole ARMY of issues right at the moment. When I cheer up, I'll blog. Really. I'm stressed out, pissed off and know for sure that no one cares. Yes, my self-esteem is like that. I'm not even sorry unless someone knows a cure.

If you're curious about my lost rant, the cartoon above basically sums it up.

Monday, March 12, 2007

It is a Rant. I'm sorry.

Okay, Firefox ate my rant. I think it is an omen. Perhaps I will try again tomorrow.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


One of my seven in '07 goals is to complete a 5K road race. I have chosen the Madison Race for the Cure on June 2, 2007. Wish me luck!

Want to join me? Click here.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Quiz Answers

Will nothing compel you people to De-LURK?

Here are the answers to Tuesday's quiz:

1. What do Sławomir Skrzypek, the head of the Polish Central Bank, and I have in common? We both attended the University of Wisconsin - LaCrosse. He has an MBA, I have a BS.

2. When's my Birthday? May 1, 1968

3. Name three teams that I hate above all others. Kudos to Tal for getting one! The New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys and the University of Michigan.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Wednesday's Worthy Cause

Sometimes I try to tune you, my beloved loyal readers, into opportunities to do something good. You are all multi-talented people and give so generously in so many ways - thank you!

Here's another option: Warm Up America. This charity provides warm knitted and crocheted items to needy people. If you do this kind of thing, you can knit or crochet something as small as an afghan square or as big as a cap or a scarf. Just thought I'd put that out there.

Another worthy cause, of course, is us! I don't know how to put it out there, but we're hoping to add more kids - I know, I know - to the family later this year or early next year. Adoption is not an inexpensive process and we have set up a website - A Sister For Kostya - that links to an marketplace. If you buy through Amazon and access through this website, we get a percentage of what you spend put into our account. The funds will go toward adoption expenses. If anyone knows anything about legal, effective ways to raise adoption money, drop me a comment!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

From the Khan

"Daddy, may I have milk?"

"What kind of milk? Goat's Milk, Yak milk? Cow's milk?"


Tuesday Pop Quiz!

1. What do Sławomir Skrzypek, the head of the Polish Central Bank, and I have in common?

2. When's my Birthday?

3. Name three teams that I hate above all others.

Leave your answers in the comments. I will have a very special prize for the winner!

Good Luck!

Monday, March 5, 2007


Well, I think it goes without saying that the S.O.B. of the Week this week is Stephen Grant. How could you? I mean... just... HOW...COULD...YOU? It disgusts me on every single level. And, of course, since it happened in Michigan, it is constantly on the news disturbing not only me but also my two young sons. I hope you rot, sir, and never see your children again.

On to other topics, I apologize for not writing last week - in case you missed it. I know I have some readers (mostly lazy lurkers like me) but I don't know what you're in the mood for. I've been in quite a mood lately - it has been weeks of ups and downs, small victories and mixed emotions on many topics. I know you don't care what I had for lunch, but do you come here to read of my angst in other areas? De-lurk! De-lurk I say! Tell me what you're in the mood for!

Shall we play a round of Ask Me Anything? Shall I post my Undisputed Facts of Life or my NCAA Bracket predictions? Shall I post a "Do you know me?" type of thing or do I need to dig deeper to make this blog not suck. Let me know?

Curious about the WW? -7 thanks.