Monday, January 29, 2007

Pinewood Derby

Pack 541 had their Pinewood Derby this past Saturday at the Middle School. This was the first one I had ever been to, so I wasn't sure what to expect - but it was a blast!

Here is the competition...

...and here's Will's "Dragon Car". He really put a lot of work into it (and this year, Bill actually didn't!) He was really proud of the finished product although he was a little frustrated at people calling it a "lizard car". I tried to explain that it was probably just the physical absence of wings that made some people think it looked a little lizard-y...but to anyone who knows anything at all about dragons - it definitely was a dragon car.

Here's Bill and all his scouting buddies just waiting for the next race.

When it was all said and done, the Dragon Car wasn't the fastest, but Will was voted the "Best Craftsman". What a proud little man he was!

YouTube Pick of the Day: The Blink Count

Life lesson...from my mom

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my mom lately. Not that I don’t do it a million times throughout each day, but some events have recently happened which have “opened old wounds” for me. My good friends Carol and Laura have each recently lost a parent, and my Grandpa had surgery last week for a colon mass. Thankfully his biopsy results were benign – but nonetheless, it makes one brace for sudden turns life may take. I like to think of it as being on a rollercoaster blindfolded...and tied down.

Mom had taught me countless lessons throughout her life and through her death. In fact, I'm sure she's responsible for the relatively-functional and somewhat-rational human being that I am today (Ha! don't laugh). But right now, in trying to compile the lessons I’ve gained, the single thing that comes to my mind is…NO REGRETS.

Sounds pretty simple, maybe even a little cliché. In all honesty, this little mantra probably didn’t become that important to me until my mom’s diagnosis with inflammatory breast cancer. How’s that for a wake-up-call to life?? I remember the diagnosis being almost like a warning bell going off…get readyhere it comes...what are you going to do about it?

I really have no regrets about anything during the last years of her life, other than the fact that she got that damn cancer in the first place. And I know that this has helped me truly find peace in my life without her. I’m not sure if inner-peace can really be known in the presence of lingering regrets. And I hope I never find out. Therefore, I really try to make a conscious effort daily to live without the “should’ve, could’ve, would’ve-'s.

So, here are some of my lessons learned, and my message to anyone who cares to listen :)
1. Don’t waste time being spiteful, angry, or hurtful to anyone – much less to the people who love you.
2. Every day, be sure to ask yourself: “What if this is my last day? If it has to be…am I ready to go?” Really...ask yourself. Would it change anything?
3. Beware of karma – what comes around, goes around. Are you ready for that?
4. Carrying a chip on your shoulder is really bad for your back. And your attitude.
5. Get your priorities straight!
6. Say "I love you" more often. You never want to be sorry you didn't say it "the last time".
7. No regrets. This life on Earth is just one shot, baby…no second chances.
8. You better figure it out before it’s too late…

Love to you all...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Movie Night

Movie night in mom and dad's room...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My view

As I was blog-surfing today, I came across a really cool idea. It was a post that highlighted people's views from their door. I thought I'd add mine.

This is the view from my front door - looks right out onto 44th Place. Across the street in the center of the picture, you'll see Culhane's house. It is an exact mirror image of ours. I guess that's what you get when you live in a "cookie-cutter" neighborhood. But, I really do love our neighborhood - clone houses, or not. I finally went outside and took the Christmas lights off of the those little Medora juniper trees last night. It's about time, huh? I've done all the landscaping myself and I have to admit that I'm pretty proud of it! I know it doesn't look like much now...but trust me! I'll take more pictures in the summer. That big tumbleweed-looking thing to the right and in front of of the sun-dial bird bath, is a Russian Sage. In the summer, it attracts bees - I guess I could've planned that one a little better...lesson learned. Gardening and landscaping are definitely hobbies that I wouldn't have predicted I would come to love in a million years. Who knew?? Wow, writing about it really gives me spring fever.

And here is the view from our back door. This picture is taken looking off to the side. We don't have any direct back yard neighbors - just a big hill with a road behind it. We have a 2-level retaining wall that I finally got around to landscaping last summer. Right in the middle of the picture is my favorite tree - a river birch that I planted last fall. It's in the perfect spot for viewing from our ground-level deck. We have such great neighbors and a perfectly wide-open back yard. I often pray that no one decides to put up a fence. This is often the scene for light-saber battles, baseball games, and zoo animal antics. The little ice cream bucket in the yard is left from last week when the kids were trying to constuct an igloo. You can't really tell from the snowy picture, but our neighbor Varen is a gardening and landscaping guru - his yard is beautiful! Like I said, I'll take pictures in the summer.

So, there's my view from the frozen Minnesota tundra. You're all tagged.

YouTube Pick of the Day: Learn to Speak Body

She takes after her dad.

Madison got a sewing lesson from Bill this past weekend. Yep...Bill. I, on the other hand, have never taken a home-ec class in my life. In fact, this is the closest I've been to a sewing machine in 30 years. And I now know what a bobbin is and does. Kinda.

She sewed a new accent pillow for her new bedroom. It is fuzzy and cuddly and pink - and turned out fabulous!

Instructions for Life

"Instructions for Life"
by The Dalai Lama

Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
Follow the three R’s: Respect for Self, Respect for Others, and Responsibility for all your actions.
Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
Spend some time alone every day.
Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
Live a good, honorable life. When you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.
Be gentle with the Earth.
Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

5 Weird Things

You all know what a fan I am of lists, questionnaires, forms, etc. So, I found a new meme out there in blog-land that I couldn't resist. There's nothing like a little self-revelation to make an interesting post.

Here's how it works...I disclose 5 weird things about me and then tag 5 people to reveal their 5 weird things.

1. I'm a bit of a toilet-paper Nazi. The only correct way of toilet paper roll placement is with the sheet coming off of the top of the roll. If needed, I will actually change the roll when I'm at other people's houses.
2. If I am at a house where a dog lives for more than 60 minutes, I need to take a complete shower and wash my hair when I get back home. Needless to say, we don't have a dog - my God, I could never leave the bathroom.
3. I have to make my bed every day...even it is right before actually going to bed. I hate to crawl into a bed with wrinkly sheets/blankets and unfluffed pillows. It drives my husband nuts.
4. I fill out "consumer research surveys" knowing that I will never send them in. I'm sure they would just generate more junk mail...but I just can't pass up a blank form.
5. I am addicted to caller-ID. It really takes all the inner-strength I can muster to pick up a ringing phone when I don't know who is on the other end.

Well, there's my weirdness (or obsessive-compulsiveness if you choose). Now, I'm tagging Jill, Gina, Sara, Kristi, and Tia. Let's hear it, ladies.

YouTube Pick of the Day: Will Ferrell: Earth to America

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Extreme Room Makeover

Madison's room has received a complete renovation this past week. She decided that she is too old for the pink, the flowers, and all the stuffed animals. She wanted something a little more "teenager-y".



We both love the outcome! Plus, we got rid of 3 1/2 bags of garbage, 1 bag of garage sale stuff, 1 bag of "Campbelle" stuff, and 1 bag of "special memories" stuff to pack away in the basement.

Maddie at work

Madison has been helping me with her room-makeover. She's really a good little painter!

Happy Birthday Finn!

We celebrated Cousin Finnegan's 3rd birthday yesterday at the Dinosaur Walk Museum in the Mall of America. It's a really cool museum with lots of life-size dinosaur sculptures, fossil-dig sand tables, theater, and computers games. We had a great time!

The kids getting ready to enjoy a bit of Dino-Cake...

As part of the party, we got a group tour of the museum. It was really interesting to see Will and Madison as the "big kids". Considering that the guest of honor and his 2 little friends were only 3 - they did a great job paying attention through most of the exhibits!

Will and a stegosaurus.

All the kids got Dino-masks for the tour...but someone was too cool to wear it for the picture.

Upon Mr. Dino's arrival, 2 kids ran away screaming while little Finn was extremely concerned an adamantly refused to move. So, that left Will and Madison...and one very cruel mom who made them take a picture with the guy dressed up in the weird dinosaur costume.

YouTube Pick of the Day: Darth calls the Emporer

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Laugh break

OK...I'm in the midst of a chaotic house and halfway done painting Madison's bedroom furniture. I just needed a little laugh-break and thought I'd share with you all:

"Fool me once, strike one. Fool me twice...strike three." Michael Scott, The Office

Michael Scott-isms

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Help A Husband

I just wanted to give my good friend Stephanie Didow-Wambeke a little plug about her amazing business she has founded: Help A Stephanie was featured on the front page of the business section in the Star Tribune several weeks ago, and since then, business has been booming! In addition, she's recently been working with the Minnesota Department of Tourism and will be featured soon on the B&B/romantic-getaway section of their website.

So, check it out: Help A

Stephanie's Newspaper article

Sushi and Martinis, anyone?

Have you ever really wanted to like something because it would be a cool thing to like?...and then you just keep trying it hoping that it will "grow on you"?...and then you try it some more...but you just really, really don't like it? So, when do you give up trying and accept the fact that it will never be?? I have this problem with 2 things: sushi and martinis.

They both sound a bit sophisticated, urban, hip, and ....well, cool. It's not like I haven't tried. I was introduced to sushi as an unsuspecting and naive diner while on our honeymoon in Hawaii 11 years ago. After finding out what it was, I tried to keep eating it, but just couldn't overcome my very strong gag reflex. Since that initial encounter, there have been others. Needless to say, unsuccessful others.

And martinis...I really want to like them!! The only one I can say that I have enjoyed is the "Push Up -tini" at Maynard's. It's like a fluffy orange dreamsicle concoction that I'm sure doesn't technically qualify as a martini by any legal standards. I'm guessing it was made specifically for people like me, allowing us to smoothly order off the "Martini Menu". In general, I view them as tempting, teasing torture. They look so "kool-aid-ish" with their bright colors, fancy glasses, and fruity accompaniments. But behind the yummy, froo-froo facade, is a disgusting, bitter mixture just waiting to constrict your airway and put you on the floor.

Speaking of sushi and martinis, this past weekend, Bill and I met up with our old friends, Scott and Stephanie Wambeke for a wonderful dinner. We finally had a chance to check out Azia (pronounced like Asia, the continent) in the "Eat-Street" area of Minneapolis. We had such a great time! The restaurant was fantastic! I bypassed an enormous sushi selection for the Basil Supreme with chicken - it was awesome! And I did manage to choke down a deceivingly delicious-appearing red-strawberry-something martini. (you can't just waste a $12.00 drink...) If you get a chance to go, don't miss out on the Cranberry Puff appetizers.

Anyway, so much for sophisticated, urban, hip and cool....

My YouTube Pick of the Day: Amateur

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

How many are on your queue?

Since Bill has seemed to turn our home into a "techy movie wonderland", we decided to go with the couch-potato-flow and subscribe to Netflix. I've gotta say, it is so cool!! It's really amazing how many movies are out there seems infinite!

But, I do have one single gripe. Do we have to have 137 movies in our queue???? Come reality, it would take us until 2017 to get through the movies Bill has selected. And every time he logs on, it's another 8 movies added.

Do you think it's a "guy thing"? My sister, Jill told me it's taken her over a year to convince her husband Leif, to bring their queue down from 200 (the limit), to a more managable 30. How'd you do it , Jill??

As part of the movie-picking process, you can rate all the movies you've seen in the past by giving them stars...1(it sucked) through 5 (it was awesome). Movies are then selected for you based on your past ratings. Very cool in theory, but not so cool when 2 people on the same account have very differing tastes in movies. For example, Bill has given high ratings to movies like Matrix, Nacho Libre, Young Guns, and Kill Bill, while I give high marks for Love Actually, An Inconvenient Truth, and Crash. Is it possible that our broad range of movie ratings could crash the system?

And another interesting thing...Bill has picked a bunch of music/band DVDs. Everything from The Grateful Dead to Tenacious D. Here is an area where my husband and I differ greatly. He could watch and listen to bands play for hours and hours. Me...I'm pretty content to listen to the radio on my way home from work and to catch a brief glimpse of VH1 videos while channel surfing. But, I can't say he isn't thoughtful...he did put Death Cab For Cutie at number 83 on our queue. When I asked "Why?"...his response, "I thought you liked that song they sing?"


Anyway, we've been watching movies like crazy! We just saw "The Devil Wears Prada" last night. Don't waste your time. (We both actually agreed on that!)

My YouTube Pick of the Day: Robot Dance

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ringing in 2007

We welcomed 2007 with our great neighbors and friends: Mike & Heather Culhane, Candace & Brad Blazek, and Wes & Stacy Borschardt. We had Raclette for dinner and spent most of the night eating, drinking, laughing and playing Scene It: Pop Culture, girls vs. boys.

I got to use our guests as guinea pigs as I experimented with Raclette on them! I just received the grill/pans from the Brenne's and Gina for Christmas. The food turned out pretty good and was a lot of fun to eat and socialize in a "fondue" kind of way.

Danyan, Morgan, Brendan, and Will

Claire, Gracia, and Madison case your wondering, Scene It ended in a tie...we're looking forward to a rematch soon...