Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cooks Helper

The little girl has decided that each door and drawer is a veritable treasure to be explored. I think she is practicing for her chance to be on Drew Carey's "The Price is Right". Considering how many decades Bob Barker was on, it is very possible that Drew will still be hosting by the time Kat gets to be on the show.

For now, however, she is the explorer. She is so curious about everything she can get her hands on or into. Everything must be intently examined to see what it does or how she can use it to amuse herself.

Pots and pans are a big hit. They make the prettiest sounds when they are banged on with a fist or, better yet, the lid. She has even tried to sound the baby food jars on the pan.
When she grew tired of the pots and pans, she discovered another drawer full of fluffy folded towels! One after another after another comes out of the magic drawer of towels.
Tonight, whilst Mom was making Blueberry Walnut Banana bread, Kat just had to help. Do you need chocolate syrup? How about crackers? Maybe some instant pink lemonade? Surely some Splenda. Never mind how much mischief you think I am getting into, I think I am helping you. After all, how boring your life was before I came along. You didn't even know how good you had it before I could crawl and pull myself up. Just wait until I can walk and run on my own.
Fortunately for the Kat, she is pretty darn cute. When she turns those baby blues on us, all we can do is love her a little more.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Remembering Grandpa Andes

Memorial Day. The day we are supposed to remember our fallen troops and friends & family that are no longer with us.

We miss them. All of them. Some we think of more than others. I don’t remember G’pa Carl very well. I remember G’ma Ruth much better, but those memories are getting fuzzy like I am seeing them through a screen door.

The ache that I feel when I think of my G’pa Andes pushes my heart into my throat and makes me swallow hard. I wish I could talk to him again. I have so many questions I want to ask him. My perception is that there was almost nothing he couldn't do when he put his mind to it. Always ready with a smile and a word of encouragement. He was such a patient man. A master carpenter and a craftsman I haven’t seen since, he was an artist; his medium was wood. From the subtle beauty of the grandfather clock that he built in satin rubbed walnut to the understated timelessness of the oak moulding and finish work in his house that was so smooth that when you ran your hands over it you would almost swear that red oak was soft instead of durable like iron.

He raised two wonderful children, my Mom and Uncle. Both of whom exhibit a lot of his character. And for sure, in the case of Mom, he passed to her his patience. So patient that she was able to raise me instead of doing me in and planting me in the pasture behind the house.

Ever since I bought my first house with Wife, I realized that while I enjoyed my time with G’pa, I wasted it. I hope I brought him pleasure when we went to Old Threshers in the fall, spending time with him, listening to him talk about the steam engines and what all they could do. Watching the sawmill and the veneer making machine, riding the steam engine.

I could not see the future that would take him from our family at such a young age in 1990. I didn’t realize that he had a wealth of knowledge about woodworking and building, how things go together and how things work. I didn’t know that there wouldn’t be time to ask the questions I would need to, most of which I didn’t even know I would want to know. About how LIFE works. I have many questions I would like to ask him. If I could, I would apprentice myself to him just to spend time around him and observe how he carried himself from day to day.

So for Memorial Day, I again find myself thinking about G’pa Andes and hope that he is up there looking down on his family and guiding us in his careful way. Watching over Kat and taking delight in the mischief that she gets into. Helping me not mess things up too badly. Gently nudging me in the right direction so that my life will be as full as his was.

I miss him so much.

Pink eye is contagious?!?

To be fair, I don't KNOW that she gave me pink eye. And to be really fair, I don't let Kat touch my eyes. So if I got it from her, I did the transfer.
I do know that my eye is irritated. And when I look in the mirror, my left eye looks like her left eye.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Life is really good. But I need baby bug screen

I am this close to hating either Microsoft or InternetExplorer. I cannot make up my mind which it is. I think I will buy an Apple. Become part of the rebel alliance. Me, Luke, Princess Leia, Chewbacca. Use the force for good. Emperor Gates will have to adjust.

I took Kat fishing with me last weekend. We went down to the pond to try and catch a ‘gill. No luck. But I did catch and kill a mosquito. Which made me think. What is the best bug repellant for little people? Kat lives in the sticks with Wife and I. She will be exposed to biting bugs as she digs for worms and grubs in the garden and gnaws on the tails of fish that I catch. So I need a bug repellant for children. West Nile was confirmed in Jones County last year. And as much as I want to lock her in the house until she is 17, I think it will be prudent to get some protection. I already have sunscreen. But what about bugscreen?

This has been a wonderful evening. Wife and I carpooled home. And for a change, she picked up the Kat after dropping me at Zoey’s Pizza. I went in and ordered while she picked up Kat and waited for them to return. She got their a minute before the pizza arrived. We fed ourselves and her at the same time. She was SO interested in everyone else at the shop. It was hard to get food into her mouth. She just had to see everyone. And by the time we got home, she was exhausted.
Carpooling is a good thing. It really cuts down on our fuel consumption. I have found that there are 15 people that live within 1 mile of us that work for the same company. None of them carpool except Wife and I. What will they do when gas hits $4.50/gal?
Work is going well. I had a surprise interview today. When all else fails, be honest and be yourself. While I really want the job and the challenge that will come with it I won’t cry if I don’t get it. I will just look for a different one. There are lots of opportunities out there for someone willing to work hard and keep a positive attitude.
Great supper, great family, work is going well. Knock, knock, knock on wood that I don’t get any surprises.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

courtesy of my mother

My mother is an artist, a crafty woman, and a writer.
Sometimes she writes poetry to Kat.
Her latest

She puts her nose up next to mine
She looks right at that thin gray line

She’s quite confused as she can be
My eyes are there as she can see

But she reaches out and tries to touch
Those eyes whose love she sees so much

Something’s there, it’s in between
Her eyes and mine, yet can’t be seen

She backs away for another stare
At Grandma’s glasses hanging there.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Saturday Ramblin'

I had an interview yesterday. A different position within the same company. I think the interview went pretty well. I totally feel like I was just myself throughout the whole thing. No front, no posturing, no trying to figure out what she wanted to hear and saying that. I did prepare and got helpful suggestions from balcony people that I really respect. But I feel like the interview was more of a two hour conversation about my work history, attitude, philosophy, and ideas rather than a question and answer session waiting to trick me into disqualifying myself.
Now I wonder, is this a reflection of how well I prepared and how comfortable/confident I am with myself OR is this a compliment to how good the interviewer is.
I wore a suit to work. Second time in two weeks. I got a lot of "got an interview today?" or "which position are you interviewing for?" questions. I quickly decided to have fun with people. My common responses yesterday were, "no, I have sentencing at the courthouse this afternoon." or "no, I am getting ordained tonight at 6pm." I also tried a couple of "I was a character witness at a friends parole hearing, today."
The suit I wore both times has a long history with me. I bought it back in 1988 in Cedar Falls, IA when I was fortunate to get an interview with Hormel in Austin, MN. I wore it perhaps a dozen times over the next 3 years for different interviews after college. I didn't wear it again until I went to work for the Principal as a Financial Planner. For that job I wore a suit 4 days a week. I remember I had to have it let out and it barely fit O.K. After I left that job I don't think I have worn a suit since 'til just last week. And it still fits. Altho I walked into the interview knowing that I had pulled apart a seam in the seat of the trousers and hoping that the lady wouldn't notice. (How is that for composure)
Baby is awake, gotta run. I will post pictures later this weekend. And talk about the hobby that Wife talked me into.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Ready for college

Well I think the little girl is ready for college. Tonight she ate Mac & Cheese like she had class in the morning.
Watching her eat the Mac & Ch with her fingers was really funny. She would take a few noodles and bring them to her mouth and bite the noodles in half. Then she would open her hand and shake the sticky noodles off her hand. Grab another handful and bite it in half, then shake off the scraps. The dog loves her now.
We also had an exciting evening where we went out in the back yard and played in the grass. As far as I know it was the first time Kat sat in the grass. At first Kat wasn't sure what to make of it. Then she discovered that she can CRAWL in the grass. Off she went, down the hill to join the dog in PLAY! Since Maddie plays hard, I kept the two of them apart which was okay until Kat missed a step and rolled sideways down the hillside. Maddie took that as an invitation to bound around Kat.
All in all, an exciting experience trying new things.

Monday, May 5, 2008

under the weather - again!

I don't know if this is because of the late spring, the kids at daycare, the kids at work, but here I am again, feeling awful.
I have had a sinus infection since about 2 April, but no real sinus problems. Then Kat gets all kinds of sinus problems last week. Saturday night, I woke up not able to breathe due to my sinuses packing in with what felt like expanding foam. This resulted in my sleeping for 18 hours on Sunday. Kat and I slept so soundly on Sunday that Jill got bored with trying to stay quiet that she left and went shopping. And made it back home before either of us woke up.
Now it is Monday and I still feel awful. Better than yesterday, tho.
With any luck, I will be back to normal tonight and can get on with my life.

Friday, May 2, 2008

57 quarts of spaghetti sauce

For whatever reason, I don't get a lot of posted comments to my blog entries. That doesn't mean I don't get comments, though.
The post on feeding Kat her first lasagna has generated the most discussion. It has been split into two conversations.
First, feeding small children pasta. The consensus is that it is messy and fun.
Second, isn't 57 quarts an awful lot of sauce?
Yes. Yes it is. Some of it has been gifted but most of it has stayed home to be consumed. If you had the opportunity to see our garden you would understand that 57 quarts is reasonable when you consider that we had 50 (FIFTY) tomato plants that year. Not all the same variety of tomato, tho. That would be excessive.
And by the way, for my Canadian readers (especially Denguy) the Canadian word for quart is LITRE. I hope that clears up any confusion. And if you find yourself in the neighborhood, we will be happy to invite you in for lasagna or spaghetti. And send a litre home with you.

out of school, what next?

During the course of getting my degree we had a professor that warned everyone to be careful while getting certificates or more education. He had a theory, based on his own life, that once you start the habit/hobby of learning, homework, deadlines, writing, challenging your thought process, that it is much more addictive than you realize. If you aren't careful, you will find yourself continuing education in one form or another just for the habit of it. This is okay, but it can take a real toll on your family life and social life.

I remember when he talked about it and nearly the entire class laughed at him. No one could conceive of such a thing. Want to go to school? Absurd!

Since my classes are over and I now have a list of things that have been put off that is nearly long as I am tall, I find myself waking up, thinking "What did I forget? Something is missing." I find myself on weekends wondering what it is that I have left undone as I go to bed.

Wow, as I counted it up, I have been taking classes since August of 2005. I find I need to change my perspective. While it would be nice to get an area of specialty to go with my degree, I don't think I want to go back to classes just yet. But I need another challenge that has an identifiable goal.

So I have been talking to my boss and networking with other managers and directors for what next, professionally. I am ready for something new, what direction should I take my career? There are a lot of opportunities and I was just recognized by my company for my leadership skills and my team's outstanding contribution to the organization. Should I move up within my own department or move laterally to broaden my experience? I have found that since classes are done, I am anxious to move on to something bigger better. I feel I am ready and have the drive.

But is this anxiousness a result of the hole created because I am not in school taking classes? Am I addicted to the need for challenge, the need to complete the next task, the need to get an 'A' for passing the next level? Could my professor have been right and known what he was talking about?

All of the positions I have looked at will be challenging which will mean that I will have to devote a little more than 40 hours a week to learning and identifying my gaps and filling them. Then I will devote time to being the best in that position. This means time away from my best friend, Wife and my fantastic daughter.

I watch other leaders in the company, people I respect that have families, struggle with the balance needed to be there and experience their children's lives while devoting their time and energy to leading and driving their department to meet and exceed their goals. To be successful both professionally and personally.

I want that challenge to show that I can balance it all and have it all. However, I am sure that I will need to learn new skills to be more efficient and to be successful at making sure that my family doesn't feel neglected.