Friday, February 29, 2008

A Winter/Spring Day

There is something wrong. Last night we were graced with another three to four inches of snow. Yes, again. Today, while out shoveling, yet again, I noticed something odd. There were birds chirping and singing. Spring like chirping and singing, yet here I was shoveling. I have to hope it was a sign of things to come. You know, like sweet chirping and singing without the shoveling.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley

To say that William F. Buckley has had a huge influence on me would be an understatement. His contributions to American political thought have been numerous and I will miss his ideas and writing enormously.

RIP, Mr. Buckley.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Flashback: March 14, 2001

Joe is first year law student. He has successfully completed one semester of his graduate degree and is settling into his academic routine. The student chapter of the Federalist Society, to which Joe belongs, secures Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to come and speak at the University of Wisconsin, where Joe is enrolled. Federalist Society members also have the opportunity to dine with Justice Scalia the evening prior to his speech. Spouses (and perhaps dates?) were allowed to tag along, which I did. I remember the intimate dinner well and enjoying the company of a man I had previously known only a little of.

I don't know if we ever appreciate the great moments in life enough when we have them, but looking back, the enormity of dining with a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States with only twenty or thirty people present occurs to me. I am thankful I remember the low lights of Restaurant Magnus, the din of casual conversation and my position in the room in relation to Justice Scalia as well as I do.

Joe did appreciate the moment at the time and, as an aspiring lawyer, made sure to get his photo taken with the man.

Why in the world on an unexceptional, cold February day seven years later am I thinking of this moment? Joe has been pleading for months for me to get this picture of him, along with the menu Justice Scalia autographed, framed for his office. I have tried ignoring, mumbling and outright denial for long enough; my hand was finally called and I had to confess to Joe that I could not remember where the picture was.

Oh, sure, I knew it was somewhere. Even though I couldn't locate it, it wasn't lost.

And now, just today, I scoured CDs and external hard drives and voilĂ ! Success! See, I knew it wasn't lost.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Election Humor

This is not as funny as it could have been but, still, worth more than just a few chuckles.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Piano Competition

Today was a big day for Madeleine, a day our family has had marked on our calendar for months now. Today was a Milwaukee area youth music competition. Madeleine's piano instructor recommended it to us months ago and Madeleine has been busily practicing her two pieces ever since.

We arrive at the competition site at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee about forty-five minutes early. Enough time to walk around and explore the building and, of course, enough time to sit around in a student lounge and be nervous.

And, for younger, not nervous siblings, enough time to invent new games.

But, finally, her twelve-thirty time slot looms near so we make our way over to the room Madeleine was to perform in. She dutifully, albeit distractedly, poses for a picture.

And then we wait. Nervously.

And then, after all that waiting, she is called in to perform. It is short and Superdad and I are reduced to listening through the door as only the judge is allowed in the room with Madeleine. From what we can hear she sounds good. I am nervous. Who knew parents got nervous when their children compete?

And then, quickly, it is over. Madeleine is out and is all smiles. The nervousness is gone. Hugs are distributed and then, on to a celebration. Where? Culvers, for frozen custard!

Just a short time ago Madeleine's piano instructor called to give us her results. What were they? A number one or "superior"-- the top score possible! Her judge writes: Next stop a concert hall. Bravo!

A good day. Yes, a very good day.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A New Endeavor

The two big kids have been begging for months-- months-- to take ice skating lessons. Finally I got around to signing them up and last night was their first lesson.

What in the world was I waiting for, I wonder! Madeleine and Hank are in different classes but both classes are on the ice at the same time (the same ice, incidentally, where Dan Jansen and Bonnie Blair trained before their Olympic wins) so it is incredibly convenient and it's really fun, even for a spectator.

We'll see if this new craze sticks or not. I confess that I hope it does because the facility where they are taking lessons offers so many different opportunities no matter which ice sport they develop an interest in. There are hockey leagues for children as young as six, figure skating coaches, a synchronized skating training program and team (no, I had never heard of it either) and, of course, one of the country's epicenters of speed skating.

Next week I will try to remember my camera. Madeleine and Hank look pretty good on the ice, if I do say so myself!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Landmark Birthday Celebrations

We arrived home yesterday afternoon following a glorious three night stay at the Landmark in Door County. The weekend was nothing other than the very definition of relaxing. We endured a blizzard while there; being snowed in on vacation can only contribute to the relaxation, no?

While there I took no pictures, swam more than intended (being snowed in can be a bit limiting) and celebrated both Dad and Diana's birthdays. We also added a new card game to our stock of favorites: Poker. I also read a lovely book: Atonement by Ian McEwan.

And now we're back. Time to re-learn how to endure low wind chills without the aide of a one hundred and two degree hot tub to warm us, back to teaching the addition of three digit numbers with carrying and time to face the dreaded task of unpacking.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hobby Lobby: Hank's Turn

Long-time readers of my blog may remember about our school's Lobby Hobby. New readers may want a quick primer.

Last week was Hank's turn to showcase a prized possession. He chose his toy cars and their accompaniments like a Hot wheels car village and tractor trailer car carriers. It was quite the display.

He took his junior kindergarten companions to the display last Thursday and gamely told me that they boys liked his display but the girls were generally more interested in the My Little Pony display directly above his. He also relayed that his friend Curly who, being a good friend, did look at Hank's display before being lured away by all the pink and glitter directly above, challenged his decision to include a coloring book, for Pete's sake, in s display about cars. Hank laughed while telling the tale and said, "Duh-- because it's NASCAR." Apparently Curly lives a NASCAR-free life. I sort of thought Hank did too, but I guess that little punk knows more than I give him credit for.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Eight years ago today, on a cold, February evening with candles lit in the sanctuary and snow softly falling outside, I walked down the aisle of the Kemper Center and exchanged marriage vows with Superdad.

So much has happened since that perfect evening that, in some ways, it is difficult to believe it isn't our eighteenth anniversary, instead of only our eighth. The past eight years have been eventful (three children, law school, changing careers, moving and the death of a parent is a lot of jam into such a short amount of time) but they've been all the more meaningful and enjoyable with Joe by my side.

Happy Anniversary, Sweetie!

UPDATE: Poor Superdad gets a measly, mushy blog post as his anniversary present and I just received these from him:

Clearly Joe is getting a raw deal because the flowers are gorgeous!

Record Snowfall

I feel like I've been shoveling every other second this winter. Turns out I wasn't imagining the feeling.

If, as the National Weather Service is forecasting, another 3 to 5 inches of snow falls on southern Wisconsin by the time the storm blows through Tuesday morning, it will put the winter of 2007-08 into the record books as Madison 's snowiest.

Or as some weary residents might call it, the most cursed.

I'm not ready to call it cursed yet, but I'm getting close. I'm in my dining room now watching yet more snow fall and I'm getting awfully close.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns

I've been on a Khaled Hosseini kick lately, it seems. I picked up The Kite Runner because, well, everyone else was. I ended up enjoying it about as much as I expected, which is to say it was an engaging book with an interesting, if not somewhat contrived, plot line. I closed the book with satisfaction; not mourning its ending nor feeling any time spent reading it had been a waste. I liked it well enough, in fact, that I want to see the movie.

I also liked Hosseini's writing well enough that I thought to request A Thousand Spendid Suns from the library. Now this book I loved. Where The Kite Runner guides you through the periphery of what life was like in Afghanistan during the Taliban's rule, A Thousand Splendid Suns drops you right into the middle of a Taliban controlled Kabul. The book is painful, almost, in how easy is is to become wrapped up in the two heroine's horrific lives and see what they see and feel what they feel.

Both books though, are good ways to while away these cold winter days.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Snow, snow and more snow!

Ah, snow. During the winter in Wisconsin our lives are defined by its comings and goings. Sometimes it's a mere inconvenience but other times, like this past Wednesday, it shuts down our lives. When the snow is falling at a rate of two inches per hour schools are closed, as are various businesses, shopping malls and in some cases, major highways. I am certain that the majority of Wisconsin spent the better part of their Wednesday shoveling the wet, heavy snow.

And then comes the next day. The storm is gone, moved on towards its next geographic victim, or perhaps lost its might and petered out over Lake Michigan. In either case, it is gone and our shoveling efforts are no longer fruitless; the sidewalks can once again be seen.

And the best part? All the glorious mounding heaps of snow that have been left behind. Is there a bigger delight in winter for small children?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

My Inner Angst

Do you all know how much angst I have been having over the presidential election? No, of course you don't. I haven't been talking about it here.

Well, I have been angst filled. Lots and lots of angst. What's better for a fiscal, small government conservative that believes, strongly, that government functions best when it's small, when taxes are low and regulation is minimal: taking the small chance that John McCain could turn out to be a fiscal conservative but who, if isn't, has a better chance of getting big government programs passed in Congress or a Democrat in the White House whose tax and spend entitlement programs will at least be given a chance at defeat because, presumably, the Republicans in Congress will fight back?

I change my mind by the day. No, by the hour.

Tell me what I should do.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Hank's Hidden Talents

"Mom! Mom!!!" Hank yells as he races into the kitchen. "Mom, come quickly, I think I've discovered some hidden talents! Mom, you have to come and see them!"

Something tells me this might be camera worthy...

Monday, February 04, 2008

Good-bye, Crib

Saturday was a momentous day. We took Elisabeth's crib down and switched the kids' rooms around so that Elisabeth, who formerly had her own digs, moved in with her brother while Madeleine scored her own room.

I expected to be sadder. After all, our baby, and probably last child, was moving into a big bed. Strangely though, I'm more sad about the idea that it will be harder to get Elisabeth to stay put to nap now than I am about seeing her absurdly small form asleep in a bed that looks light years too large for her.

And the crib that has housed each one of my three children? In the attic. Neither Superdad or I put voice to the thought that doing so was a waste of time, effort and, most importantly in our small home, storage space. No, not until the seven-year-old crib was safely disassembled and packed away did I comment that it seemed silly that we were saving it. But I'm secretly happy to know that it's there, along with all my other favorite baby things. I'm feeling too well-rested and comfortable with my easy to care for children (well, relatively, compared to a newborn) to begin to delve into the psyche behind that secret joy.