Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

My friend Gal over at One Gal’s Musings has generously bestowed the Lovely Blog Award upon my humble and oft-neglected blog.

I’ve been following Gal for many blog-years – since 2007, if I recall correctly. She’s a compelling and interesting writer, and covers all kinds of topics. I’d even say she’s my favorite blogger. 🙂 She’s fun in person – my mom, the kids, and I all had brunch with her once when we were in Chicago. What a nice treat!

How this “One Lovely Blog Award” works:

1. Add the “One Lovely Blog Award” image to your post
2. Share seven things about you
3. Pass the award on to seven nominees (sorry, I’m not doing this because I don’t know that I even have seven blog “buddies” these days)
4. Thank the person who nominated you and add a short blurb about them.
5. Inform the nominees by posting on their blogs

Seven things about me
1. I love to swim, or at least play in the water. I’m not a particularly strong swimmer, and I don’t swim laps or anything like that, but nothing pleases me more than an afternoon at the beach or the pool with the kids. My folks live close to a small lake, and their neighborhood has a beach. As teenagers, my sisters and I spent most of every day at the beach. (It didn’t hurt that at least two of the lifeguards were quite crush-worthy.) Nowadays I don’t get much opportunity to swim, but I enjoy it when I do.

2. The only makeup I wear is tinted lip gloss. I do have some blush and lipstick somewhere, and I were them once in a great while (like, every couple of years) but mostly makeup is just not for me. Maybe it’s because I never learned how to apply makeup well when I was a teenager (or at any other age), but mostly I just think it’s a pain.

3. My employer is a Major University in the midwest. My alma mater is the competing Major University in our state. This can make for some uncomfortable situations at work when I hear someone trashing my alma mater. (I tell people I went there when it comes up, but it’s not as though I advertise it.)

4. I’ve written more than 800 blog posts. I’m going to remind my mom of that every time she bugs me about when I’m going to blog again.

5. I’m a writer/editor/content manager by trade (with a dash of photographer and video producer thrown in).

6. Friday Night Lights is just about my all-time favorite TV show. (It’s not really about football, I swear.) And it’s a Netflix streamer, so if you have Netflix, check it out.

7. I have a BA, with a dual major in journalism and American history. (Sounds so not useful, but I’ve actually been working in a related field for more than 10 years.) And I have NO desire to ever return to school for any sort of advanced degree. The odd car seat class here and there, sure, but I’m done with formal education.

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Today I want to share a public safety announcement with you – one that has nothing to do with car seats.

Last summer, my longtime boss and friend, Jamie, very nearly lost his life while he was wading in Lake Michigan and got caught in a rip current. Jamie was lucky – he was saved by a kayaker who heard his cries for help. Realizing how lucky he is, he has devoted himself to using his communication skills (we’re both professional communicators) to spread awareness and help others.

Please watch and share the PSA that Jamie created, and then read his full story. (I still can’t read it or hear him present it without getting tears in my eyes.)

You just might save someone’s life.

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What Are Your Hot Spots?

No, I don’t mean that kind of hot spot.

I’ve been following Flylady for about six weeks. (Flylady is basically a system of getting and keeping your house decluttered and clean.) I don’t follow it to a T, but I follow a lot of the basic elements, and it has really helped. Tim and the kids are following it too, though they don’t necessarily realize it. The house isn’t spotless, but it is much neater than usual – and it’s much easier to get the house into shape.

One of Flylady’s terms is “hot spot.” This refers to a place that you can. not. keep. decluttered. Though much of our house tends to collect clutter, there is one spot in particular that starts to fill up the second I get it cleared up: the “peninsula” counter in our kitchen. Our kitchen has always been the heart of the house – I spent a lot of time there for obvious reasons, it’s a major thoroughfare because of the layout (it has an entry on both ends), and it’s close to garage, which is where we always come in/leave. This part of the counter always has some combination of “important” school papers, bills, toys, books, etc. on it, waiting to be put away, sorted, tossed, etc. It doesn’t seem to matter what I do, there is always stuff here.

As soon as I read the term “hot spot” in a Flylady email, I knew exactly what it meant – and what it meant in my house.

What is your (clutter) hot spot?

(Maybe I’ll get brave and take a picture tomorrow.)

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An Award!

The Gal has tagged me for the the Liebsteraward! Liebster is a German word which means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.

Here are the rules for the award:

  1. Each person must post 11 facts about themselves.
  2. Answer 11 questions the tagger has given you and give 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged.
  3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post. Tell them you’ve tagged them.
  4. Remember, no tag backs.

However, I’m going to break the rules and answer ALL the questions (including the ones The Gal answered), and not tag anyone.

So, here are 11 things about me:

1) I’m inherently lazy. I’m a good/hard worker, my house gets taken care of, kids get fed well, etc. But if I had my druthers, I’d spend a lot of my time reading or messing around on the internet.

2) My favorite band EVER is Duran Duran. I remember hearing Hungry Like the Wolf on the radio in late 1982, and a fellow library aide got me totally hooked on them in early 1984, and they’ve been my favorite since then. I saw them in concert for the first (!!!) time last fall and am going to see them again next month – third row again! I can’t wait.

3) My cousins (on my Dad’s side) and I are still close even though we’re in our late 30s/40s. We see the local cousins regularly, and twice a year we host a “cousin party” that the cousins and any kids come to. It’s a blast! In fact, we had so much fun at the cousin party a few weeks ago that we decided next year we’re going to ditch the kids and really have a cousin party. Should be a blast!

4) I need to lose weight. A lot. But I really like snacking, and I really hate exercising, so …

5) I don’t wear jewelry (except my wedding ring), and almost never polish my nails. The last time I can remember wearing earrings was when my brother got married six years ago.

6) I have a new nephew! My brother and his wife welcomed their second son last Friday. He made his debut three weeks early and is on the little side, but he’s healthy and has no heart problems. (Big brother was the one who had open heart surgery two years ago.)

7) Tim and I (mostly Tim) have instituted a “no replacing” policy for our pets, at least for the time being. Multiple cats + three children = lots of work. We had three cats when Allie was born, but now we’re down to one, and will have none when she leaves us. I’m OK with that, for now.

8) I love Facebook.

9) I wish I were a better photographer – I have a nice camera – but I’m either too impatient, too lazy, or don’t take pictures often enough to really improve.

10) I’m the oldest of four. I didn’t mind having three younger siblings, but I always wished that I had an older brother.

11) I’m often conflicted about our decision to let Adam join Cub Scouts two years ago, and to move up to Boy Scouts this year. The program he’s joined is amazing, and I’m very proud of his participation, but that damn “no gays” policy. Grrr.

Here are the questions Kwizgiver gave The Gal (but these are my answers):

  1. What is your favorite genre to read? Mystery/thriller, young adult, biographies
  2. How often do you read for pleasure? Daily
  3. Do you ever read books in your least favorite genre? That would be poetry, and the answer is no (this was Gal’s answer but it stands for me)
  4. Do you snack when you read? Often
  5. What do you do when you’re in a reading slump? Find something new
  6. Are you easy to talk into doing something out of the ordinary? No
  7. Do you follow a daily routine? With three kids one is forced to follow a daily routine, but we don’t have a strict routine
  8. Where do you keep your keys? Several places, which is why I often can’t find them.
  9. What is your favorite song featuring a banjo? Rainbow Connection
  10. Do you drink bottled water? Rarely, and never at home or at work.
  11. How old is your blog? 5.5 years


Here are the questions The Gal gave me.

1. What’s your oldest memory? I vaguely remember being left with my (paternal) grandparents when my parents went to my (maternal) great-grandmother’s funeral. I was 3.

2. Who was your first crush? Hmm, Jason (or Jeff? which brother was it?) something, in first grade. Can’t remember exactly how I knew him – maybe he was in my class – but I distinctly remember that we were both at the bowling alley “drop off” room once or twice, and played in the teepee together. (Totally innocently – we were 6!) I seem to recall that whichever brother was my age, my sister liked the other one.

3. When was the last time you cried? Sunday, when I saw a picture of my little brother holding his tiny newborn son. 🙂

4. How often do you read the newspaper? The print newspaper? I glance at it once a week or so (it’s only printed 3x weekly, and is digital the rest of the week). However, I read newspaper articles online daily.

5. What is something you won’t scrimp on, no matter how tight your budget? Hmmm …. I can’t think of anything.

6. Do you enjoy your time in the bath or shower? Or is it merely for hygiene/grooming, like brushing your teeth? Yes, and usually. 😉 I have three kids, so I generally have a “business shower.”

7. Close your eyes and think of a song. Which one popped into your head? Every Little Thing She Does is Magic

8. What’s the biggest dollar bill in your wallet right now? (Asked because a friend of mine recently broke a $100 at dinner, and I don’t think I’ve ever carried a bill that big.) $10

9. You’re home. It’s 9:30 at night. You’re hungry. What do you snack on? Well, it’s 11:30 but I just snacked on some cheese.

10. Are you a Felix (neat freak) or an Oscar (slob)? Somewhere in between. I like things neat, but don’t have the motivation to keep them that way (see #1 of the previous section) and damn if the kids don’t keep messing everything up.

11.  When did you last send someone a card? It could be a greeting card, or a postcard. But you had to address it, put a stamp on it and mail it. E-cards or a card you simply handed a person don’t count. Wow, I have no idea. I didn’t even send out Christmas cards last year. So, I guess the last time I specifically remember sending someone a card was Christmas of 2010.

Feel free to answer these questions on your own blog – and let me know if you do.

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Hail to the Victors

I don’t watch much football (really, just the annual Michigan-Michigan State game) and really don’t follow any other college sports. However, I’m well aware that the University of Michigan’s biggest rival is Ohio State University. And since we won the football game on Saturday, I can’t resist posting this fun video. It makes me laugh every time  I see it. (We showed it at the beginning of our all-staff meeting at work today, to enthusiastic laughter and applause.)


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Be Back Soon

I’m out in sunny California on a top-secret mission that I’ll blog about in a few weeks. And when I return – an overdue write-up of the Duran Duran concert, with more pics and a video clip or two.

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Even though I’ve been such a bad blogger since I went back to work, The Gal Herself has deemed this humble blog Irresistibly Sweet. How cool is that! She tells us: “Now, as I understand it, for this award one is to list seven pieces of information not commonly known about themself, and fifteen recommendations.”

I’m going to follow Gal’s lead here and list 15 pieces of information and skip recommending other blogs for now. (But of course I DO recommend reading Gal’s blog – I’ve been following her for years and she’s a great writer.)

1) I love firework shows but hate when people in the neighborhood set them off (illegally, for the most part).

2) I look like death warmed over when I wear black, so I try to avoid it. I do wear black pants/shorts sometimes, but rarely black tops. And I’ve never once worn all black. (OK, I did dress as a witch for Halloween back in 1993.)

3) My favorite color is red, and pink is a close second.

4) My career as a writer/editor has ruined me for reading. I can’t read anything without going over it with a mental red pencil.

5) Everyone in my family eats their grilled cheese with applesauce. Dipped in applesauce. It’s delicious! (I’m told that my grandpa started that tradition.)

6) I’m trying really, really hard to keep up with my blog. I love having a blog, love blogging, and can’t really explain why I’ve fallen off the wagon in the past.

7) My two favorite bands/musicians of all time are Duran Duran and Billy Joel, with the Monkees not far behind. Yes, I’m a child of the 80s.

8 ) Making school lunches is one of my least favorite tasks. If the lunches served at school were healthier, I might let the kids buy every day.

9) I’m terrible at budgeting.

10) For the most part, I’ve had a variation of the same hairstyle since I was three. (Not only will btwinny vouch for that, she’s the person who first pointed it out to me.)

11) I miss singing. Oh, sure, I sing to the radio. But I was in choir all through high school and college, and even spent a couple of years in the MSU Choral Union when Tim and I lived in Lansing. I haven’t done any kind of organized singing since we moved in 1998.

12) I’ve never broken a bone. I’ve fractured my pinky toe a couple of times (It was NOT because I’d been drinking that time in college, I swear! I’m a klutz and bumped into the doorframe all the time even when I hadn’t been drinking.)

13) I’m still close to my cousins on my Dad’s side of the family, and we have an annual Cousin Party at our house the Saturday after Christmas. It’s one of my favorite days of the year. How many people do you know who still regularly hang out with their cousins as they are all in or approaching their 40s? And our kids just have a blast together, too.

14) I’ve had glasses since I was a little over 9 years old. Adam got glasses when he was a little over 9 years old. Guess what I predict for Allie and Jenny?

15) I had a very small wedding. Tim and I got married at the JP, with about 14 people in attendance. My siblings (two sisters and a brother) stood up for us and giggled the whole way through the ceremony. What were they giggling at? My mother, who was blubbering (really) in the front row.

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There’s a YouTube video circulating called Dear 16-year-old Me. Its a melanoma-awareness campaign, but it’s had me thinking. If I could go back to 1986, what would I tell 16-year-old BookMama?

Here are a few things (I decided to limit myself to three):

  • Learn how to make and follow a budget so you don’t go into debt. Yeah, there will be some lean years, but you’ll survive without going to the poor house.
  • Don’t sell yourself short. You have a lot to offer.
  • Don’t get fat.* It’s not easy to stay in shape, especially after you have three kids, but it’s a lot easier to avoid getting fat in the first place than it is to get un-fat.

*If I could give 16-year-old BookMama only one piece of advice, this would be it. Everything else has turned out OK.

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Last week, we had an all staff meeting at work. One of our most senior staff members talked about an employee survey that was done last year (long before I started). Apparently compensation was one of the big issues that came out of the survey.

So, they hired someone outside our area to evaluate compensation and compare wages to those of employees in similar positions throughout the university and the local market. The outside team found that most wages were in line (i.e. no more than 10% above or below the average) with the university and the local market.

What really surprised me was what they did with the salaries that were more than 10% ….

below the average. They actually gave those people raises so they would be more in line with the marketplace!* I was shocked – what a wonderful thing to do.

I love my job.

*(And no, they didn’t give anyone a pay cut if they were making more than 10% above the average for their job.)

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Get Ready …

… for some snow!

We’re at the beginning end of a blizzard. I have no idea how much snow is currently being forecast – first it was 8-12″, then 12-18″ (!!), then 10-12″. It’s cold and extremely windy, and I can see that the snow coming down is wet and heavy. The kids’ school had announced a snow day by dinnertime, and Tim and I won’t be going to work tomorrow (at least not if we get the kind of snow they’re predicting).

So, we’ve got our “hunkerin’ down” clothes on, are well-stocked with hot chocolate and marshmallows (no worries about the rest of the grocery situation either, of course), and two big bags of books from our visit to the library yesterday.

Bring it on!

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