Thursday, July 31, 2008


My husband is all about lists. Top 10 lists. Top five lists. Greatest of all time lists. Give him a list -- he'll fill it out. And then he'll ask you to fill it out.

Every time.

I am not so much about lists. It's not that I hate them or anything. It's just hard for me to narrow things down to the absolute number one best movie or song or experience of ALL TIME.


Let's try out some lists here every now and then.

Want to?

Here's my list for today, timely thanks to a World-Herald feature of late. They are calling it Music to My Ears. I am going to call it Best Music List Ever.

Favorite song
1. "Mr. Jones" - Counting Crows
2. "Unchained Melody" -- Righteous Brothers
3. Current because it's just too stressful to narrow the rest down: "New Slang" by The Shins

Favorite album
1. "August and Everything After" -- Counting Crows
2. "MTV Unplugged" -- Alanis Morrisette
3. "White Ladder" -- David Gray

Favorite artist, group, band
1. Clay Aiken
2. Counting Crows
3. Maybe Jack Johnson?

Top three concerts
1. Tie: Clay in Appleton, Wisc., summer of 2004, and Clay in Denver, also summer of 2004.
2. Radiohead at Red Rocks, Colo., summer of 2003.
3. I can't pick (see, I'm not very good at lists): James Taylor, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi. They were all good.

Guilty pleasure
1. Well, Clay.
2. New Kids on the Block
3. Pink

OK, obviously rounding out the lists with the third choice stresses me out! Your turn.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Always tell the truth

I just sort of thought he would live forever.

But Randy Pausch didn't. The man who most of us never knew but knew about died Friday of pancreatic cancer.

But he won't be forgotten.

I meant to write about him here over the weekend, right after he died. But I didn't feel good last week and couldn't muster the energy. Still, that was only part of it. I also just procrastinate writing about things that really matter.

Randy Pausch, if you don't know, delivered his "Last Lecture" at Carnegie Mellon University. Millions have watched the speech on the Internet since then. He also wrote a book.

His message is so simple, yet profound: Never lose that child-like wonder. Tell the truth. Don't forget your dreams.


Yeah, of course. That's it. Don't worry so much about the things in life we can't control. Accept them. Find peace. And actually live, working with the hand we've been dealt. Why can't we all see it so simply?

Diane Sawyer had an hour-long tribute to Pausch last night. I cried through most of it. There were many scenes with him and his wife, and he looked at her like there was no one else in the world. And then those scenes with his kids. Those were tough to watch. So were the clips of him getting to live out the one childhood dream that had alluded him - playing professional football. ABC sent him to a Pittsburgh Steelers practice and his hero, Hines Ward, threw him pass after pass. He caught every single one.

It was strange to watch, knowing he was already dead. But as Dane pointed out, we are all dying. He was just dying sooner.

I think before he died so many of us just chose to believe that he was going to live forever. Because the idea of someone so inspirational dying was just too tough to think about. Just like we refused to believe Michael Jordan could ever falter as the best basketball player of all time, we didn't want Randy Pausch -- who stared death in the face and laughed at it and was of all things just as happy as ever -- to die.

Now that he has, does it dampen his message a bit? Maybe. But I think people still can -- and will -- cling to the hopefulness that he provided. That absolutely, of course, is his legacy.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

My little blogger


My 3-year-old has a blog.

It is basically all about Star Wars.

Because that is what he really loves.

Yes, he is newly 3. And he can confidently tell you the plot line of the entire saga.

Daddy gets much (by that I mean ALL) of the credit for the blog, which so far has prompted one grandparent to leave a comment in yoda speak. Does it get any better than that? I mean, come on.

Yesterday, Daddy bought something he has never purchased in his life (nor will he ever again, I imagine): a tackle box. But this is not for fishing. No, us vegetarians do not eat animals, let alone kill them. This tackle box was for something much bigger than fish to fry.

It was for Star Wars guys.

And they love their new home. It's amazing how well this tackle box accommodates the how-did-this-collection-get-sooooooo-big since May bundle of Star Wars action figures. The top two tiers -- which have small compartments -- are perfect for light sabers, guns and other small pieces. And Luke, Leia, Darth and crew have plenty of room to hang out in the roomy luggage compartment down below.

Check it out. On Rye's blog.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Memory lane

I named mine Matilda Daphne, and I carried her everywhere, at least at first.

She had beautiful stringy red hair in pigtails, a yellow dress and Sunday-white shoes.

She was my favorite Christmas present in 1985. I was 6.

I found her years later in a box, and I got her out and brushed her off. If I remember right, I put her on my bed for a while, even though I was much too old for dolls. She sat next to the Puff-a-lump (at least someone has to know what I'm talking about, right?) and the Care Bear (Cheer Bear also circa-1985 and loved to death) that I also retrieved from that box.

In college, the toy companies wisely started making Cabbage Patch Kids and Care Bears and My Little Ponies and other toys from my childhood again. Only they weren't the same.

And so they weren't as good.

Instead of the simple smiling faces, flowered tummies and lollipop hindquarters, these new toys were flashier. They talked. And glowed in the dark. And came with DVDs.

I hated this. Where was the simple, lovable Pound Puppy of my youth? Where is the GloWorm that doesn't sing?

But today I got an e-mail from a PR person who must think I have some venue to promote his product. I don't really, of course, but his message landed on willing ears. In September, Cabbage Patch Kids turn 25. And to celebrate their birthday, Xavier Roberts and crew are bringing back the original models.


Matilda Daphne and Kelly Dorcas and all the other kids adopted by my childhood peers will be on the shelves again.

It's marketing, yes, and on the surface that's all it is.

But I think to others like me, the nostalgia just might be worth buying one.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I got an award!

My childhood best friend, Jenny, gave me an award!

This is, I'm gathering, a big deal in blog land. Jenny said it lets you know that people enjoy your blog.

So cool.

Thanks, Jenny.

I feel like my blog posts have been leaving something to be desired lately. I'm just not feeling it. So maybe this will be the inspiration I need. Let's hope so!

Thanks again, Jenny.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Yoga for Yoda

Yesterday, after homemade waffles and the newspaper, I asked Rye if he wanted to try the kids yoga video I got at the library recently.

"Yoda video?" he said. "Yeah!"

Though it was not Yoda doing tree pose or upward facing dog, the three of us gave the exercise a try anyway.

We followed along with a group of super flexible kids and a very happy, hippie-ish woman. Her instructions for the poses were interspersed with shots of yawning white tigers and leaping tree frogs.

It was all very happy.

And Rye actually did a really great job.

You should have seen his triangle pose. It was just about perfect.

And there's something so adorable about little bodies striking poses you normally don't see.

My friend, Katie, says kids' bodies are meant to do these things anyway and how much better would the world be if every child did yoga three times a week?

I agree.

If nothing else, it was a quiet, silly, simple activity for us to do together on a Sunday morning.

I didn't even mind when Rye decided my bent leg on tree pose would be great for hanging on and he almost toppled both of us over.

This activity ended, by the way, with Dane doing freestanding headstands in the middle of the room.

Not our typical Sunday morning.

But it'd be nice if we did it again.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Do 3-year-olds just not sleep?

I thought once we finally convinced our baby to sleep through the night when he was eight months old, that we'd been through the worst of it.

And, yes, maybe we had.

But lately nighttime is not very fun again.

Last night, for example, he was awake until after 10 p.m. -- pretty late. But at 3 a.m., he woke up crying. I ignored it for a while but finally went up to see what was wrong.

He asked to come in our bed. I said no because I've learned recently how well that goes. He doesn't sleep. He just rolls around and keeps everyone awake. I told him I would sit with him for a while, though, but that didn't seem to do the trick either.

So he requested to go on the couch and "watch something."

I caved to the couch request, stopping in my room to get my pillow, and then we laid on the couch. We did this three nights ago when he was sick. And now I'm afraid we've started a bad habit.

We slept for the most part.

But at 5:50 a.m., the sun was up. And to Rye, that signals morning. He renewed his request to "watch something," so I grumpily turned on the Disney channel and went back to sleep. I think he eventually fell back asleep, too, until finally around 8 he sat up, crabby.

That was how I started my Sunday.

I love being with Rye, and I'm generally happy to do what he asks (within reason, of course).

But come on: 3 a.m.? Really?

Are 3-year-olds just not wired for a whole lot of sleep?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Jesus Freak

Today I stopped at the post office on my way to work and on the way back to the main road, stuck at a stoplight, the car in front of me yelled: "I'm a Jesus freak!"

It was a beat-up Oldsmobile with a rusted bumper, a crooked keyhole cover on the trunk and a cracked windshield.

Two giant stickers clung to the rear window.

One was basic: "I love Jesus."

The other, completely over the top: "I am covered in Jesus' blood."

I do not understand stickers like this.

Sure, I have a sticker on the back of my vehicle that says simply "26.2." Most people probably do not know what this means. The people who do know -- they are part of my pretend secret club.

But everyone -- anywhere -- knows what "I love Jesus" means. And I'm all for free expression and free religion and free thought and peace and love and opinions and all of these things that can be ugly or beautiful but at their core are really just what humans are: an ugly beautiful ball of feeling and emotion and anger and embarrassment and all sorts of other things.

I suppose slapping stickers on a car must make some feel their religion is that much stronger. Is that why they do it? Or do they just really want everyone to know how much they love God?

I don't know ... isn't religion supposed to be more beautiful than worn, weathered stickers on a beat-up rusted Oldsmobile?

The author Anne Lamott tells us to live life with grace. However we can.

And I suppose if this person feels the bumper stickers make this life that much easier to get through -- to believe in -- then all the more power to him.

Still, it seems strange.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

High School 2.0

A high school reunion seems to be one of those things in life that has no middle ground. You are either someone who has always planned on attending the 10-year event. Or you always knew you wouldn't.

I always knew I'd go.

It was last night.

And despite the weird apprehension that came over me as we drove up to the event and the deep breath I had to take to actually go in, it was really fun.

And totally surreal.

My husband's close friend used the term "swollen" to describe some of the classmates at their high school reunion last month. And, yes, that applied at mine as well, especially to the guys. Several, at least, were heavier and many had lost their hair. Others, though, looked almost exactly the same, if just a bit older.

The girls, for the most part, all looked great. Only one of the popular girls had gained a significant amount of weight (and don't we always hope to see the most popular girl show up at the reunion with an extra 30 pounds she just couldn't lose after having the quarterback's firstborn?).

The best part, though: Everyone was nice. The cool kids still hung together, and the cliques were evident sort of -- but I didn't feel shut out like I did in high school. Everyone seemed to be cool to everyone.

It was strange seeing kids I'd gone to elementary school with, a few my best friend, Jenny, and I played with often. The boys who lived on either end of her block, who'd ride their bikes past and stop to play kickball with us in the street. I had to ask one of those now grown-up boys who he was; he looked that different. The other one remembered going to the lakes for a late summer party my friend, Jessica, and I organized when we were 11. I had forgotten about that party until he mentioned it. And then we both remembered it was cloudy and cold but we went anyway.

Of course, a few of my close friends were there, too. And that's what really made it fun. As adults, we don't get to just hang out often enough, if at all.

I'll take this excuse to do that, at least every 10 years.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Last night, in bed, during our trying to fall asleep ritual, Rye turned toward me, one hand under his chin and said, "Mommy, do you like balloons and cake and presents and birthday parties?"

Yes, Rye, I like all of those things.

"Do you remember my birthday party?"

Yes, I do, Rye. It was very fun, wasn't it?

"Yeah. Can we talk about it?"

So we did, remembering the presents everyone gave him and then talking about them again and again until I finally had to remind him it was time to go to sleep.

I loved the fact he had started the conversation, though, and that he was remembering something important to him -- to us -- so long after the fact.

The night before last, I went to help my mom and sister bury my kitty. The three of us dug a hole in my mom's backyard, brushing away mosquitoes and tears. We all said goodbye and took turns remembering what sort of a cat she was. We buried her with her favorite canned cat food, some kitty treats and a picture of her and my sister taken about eight years ago. So she can remember.

In the end, memories are often all we have left of the past. And even though it's likely they warp and twist with age and we forget some things and rearrange others, they are valuable, if intangible.

In my mind, I'll remember Nike as the spunky, fluffy kitten we chose at the humane society and the grown-up cat who slept with me at night and always seemed to be just where I needed her.

In Rye's mind, he'll remember the fun of his 3rd birthday party and I hope lots more of these childhood days.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy Fourth of July!

We celebrated our country's independence yesterday with:
* a parade filled with kids and dogs and families in one of Omaha's nicest neighborhoods.
* an afternoon of food and fun at a friend's house
* a little bit of baseball and a lot of fireworks at Rosenblatt Stadium.

We were up until 1 a.m., after the traffic jam that kept us in the stadium parking lot for 40 minutes. My sister and brother spent the night and have been playing Star Wars with Rye for most of the morning. Rye is very happy.

The best part of my day was the neighborhood parade. Led by the neighborhood's mailman and a brass band, hundreds of families line up with decorated wagons, strollers and bikes to parade down this beautiful, tree-lined street and then rendezvous in the park. There, kids ride in a circle around a grassy infield and "judges" pick out the best in each category.

We were proud of our creation: a landspeeder from Star Wars, made by our friend, Jeff. Complete with a Death Star and a sign that said, "May the Force be with USA," we thought we should definitely win.

We didn't win, but we think the first place "wagon" completely cheated. It was a converted go-cart - driven by an adult -- that had four cars behind it. They were made of steel drums. It was cool. But totally out of anyone else's league.

So we got second. And that is OK.

Here is a video from the parade.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


I am going to bed now. It has been a long day.

It began at 4:30 a.m. when my 3-year-old going on 10 scared me to death by seemingly appearing out of nowhere in the middle of the night next to my bed.

Still mostly asleep, I helped him climb in. He settled in next to me, and I covered him, never really opening my eyes.

The walk down stairs must have woken him up, though. Because he never went back to sleep.

That's right.

Instead, he rustled the blankets with his legs, rousing Dane and I with the whooshing noise. He asked me a few times if we could get up yet.

Finally, at 5:50 a.m., I said we could.

I did this because I knew The Wiggles would be on at 6 a.m.

Out on the couch, I closed my eyes.

Five seconds later, Rye noticed. He disapproved and said: "Mommy, wake up! It's morning behind you. Look."

And, yes, it was light outside. The windows behind me proved it.

But it was still very early.

So goodnight.