Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I am now the official PTO secretary for Mini Me's school. Did I tell you I am also the official communications director for the moms ministry at our church? Yup. And I volunteer in the nursery one Sunday a month. Oh wait, I've been invited to be part of the leadership team to start a new campus of our church in our neighborhood.

This is why I took a one year sabbatical from volunteer work. I don't know when to stop. It does give me fulfillment knowing I am making a difference.

My Personal Motto:
"Give more to your community than you take from your community."
Widney Woman - (when I was Frederick Girl)

My Favorite Quote:
"Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."
John F. Kennedy

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Get New Employees Productive by Noon on Day 1

I was able to be a contributing member of my new workplace by Noon on Day 1.  It's not often new employees can say that. Not because I'm such a rockstar but because my employers did pre-work that enabled me to jump right in.

Here is what my new employers did:

1. Gave job description, duties, salary in an email.
-  I don't think this is standard, but great as I could review and prep questions.

2. Gave HR forms at job offer meeting. 
- These were taken home and to be returned before start day.
- Saved hours in HR the first day.
- Required fingerprinting completed and clearance approved before start.

3. Computer access was setup as was my email address. 
- Seems basic and minor, but not many IT departments get it done without a reminder phone call on start day. Or they setup this but not that.

4. Pre-printed lists of training/orientation areas to cover. 
- Too many companies wing it.
- Building tour, forms location, network info, procedures, etc.

5. Fax and phone lists updated with my name
- Ummm...Wow.

6. Keys and Security Code
- Building keys and alarm code all given on Day 1

7. Office was clean and ready
- My office was not a storage location with a bunch of junk I had to wade through before finding the desk top

8. Welcome e-mail. 
- The office manager sent me a 'welcome' email. How nice was that?!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mini Me is BRIGHT!!

At a parent orientation, we asked about a 4-yr old girl Mini Me talks about all the time. The teacher said, "Mini Me is a bright child so she naturally gravitates toward the older children." J said, "Really? She's bright?" To which the teacher said, "Yes. Mini Me is one of our brightest 3-yr olds."

WHAT?? She's B-R-I-G-H-T?? Mini Me is bright? OUR Mini Me???? WoW.

It's not that we think Mini Me is slow but compared to where Motor Mouth was at her age, Mini Me is developmentally delayed.

People told us Motor Mouth was advanced. But we didn't want to be 'those parents' who think their child is so super smart. We've turned that corner a bit. Teaching Motor Mouth this year made me realize how smart he really is. Heck, the kid learned to count by 5's and by 10's to 100 in one 1 hour session.

Ultimately, it was nice to hear Mini Me is bright. We know she is a smart girl. We just didn't expect to hear that she is among the top in her class. We have 2 super star kiddos. How amazing is that!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Should Stay@Home Mom's Have an iPhone?

In the Knowing Me, Knowing You August installment, I mentioned most of my Internet happens via my iPhone. Truly, yes, it does. As a stay@home mom, no less. I fit most of this in while in line or waiting for my kids or husband. When I was on executive staff, I refused to carry a Blackberry. As a stay@home mom, I couldn't survive without my iPhone.

I check and respond to e-mail, Twitter, look up directions (saves me calling my husband yelling, "I'm lost! Help me!!), look up questions I have on my mind or how to tell if my kid has a concussion, catch up on people's blogs, check my bank balance, pay bills, all on my iPhone. 

My grocery list is in my iPhone. Same with a list of places I find out about to take the kids to, babysitters I meet at the playground, and great stores people tell me about. I have 2 weather apps that tell me the current and projected weather for my city, my mom's and my mother-in-law's cities.

If I want to call a company, I look them up on the iPhone and click on their link to autodial. I can save their phone and address to my contacts easy. I also use my calendar app so I can get multiple reminders. I even did the online registration for my kids' swim lessons on my iPhone while driving on the highway (I was a passenger). I used to Facebook on iPhone, but I'm trying to manage my time better so I took that app off. 

I could update my blog via my iPhone but I don't and I don't want to learn how. I think if I did that, I wouldn't have buffer time. When it comes to my blog, I usually think about what I want to blog about while driving or cleaning or something. I mull it over in my mind and then bang it out on my laptop. If I were to write things off the top of my head, once a month there would be some crazy crazy entries going down.

I have a Bible app on my iPhone with 15 different translations, including 3 in Spanish. No, I don't speak Spanish but that sounded impressive. I get a couple daily Bible reading e-mails, and a few daily bible verse tweets/e-mails.

I manage 5 Twitter accounts and 10 e-mail addresses on my iPhone.

There's an app to help you find the nearest potty!!

If I had my act together, I could play music for the kids or let them watch a movie while driving in traffic.

For awhile, I had the Complete Works of Shakespeare on there, but I don't have time to read 'real' books, much less on an iPhone.

To be honest, I prefer to respond to e-mails via iPhone. At the end of my messages, it says, "Sent from my iPhone." This means I can be short and to the point. I can have typos. No one judges me. "Oh, she's on her iPhone. She wouldn't have seplled that worong otherwise..."

And no, I do not have games on my iPhone.
I don't have time!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Knowing Me, Knowing You - Aug '09

Time once again, for the monthly interview project started by The Fairy Blogmother. Join the fun at her site!

1. Would you rather swim in a pool or a lake?
I can't swim so, let's keep it safe with a pool. But I have been known to waddle in the ocean.

2. Where do you do most of your internetting, from a desktop or a laptop?
iPhone. Then laptop. And we have a desktop that J setup for me 'cause I have a mental block where I like to do certain work on a 'real' computer.

3. What did you do today?
It's Sunday. Slept in to 7:30 am. Milled around with the in-laws, had breakfast, watched the rest of Benjamin Button, played with my 9-mth old nephew, said goodbye to the in-laws, dozed on the couch & with Mini Me in her bed, fixed cereal for lunch, drank a Red Bull to wake up and after blogging, I am going to do some work and get groceries.

4. Have you had enough of this cool rainy summer?
No. The summer in Chicago finally burst into life and now I'm working and the kids are starting school again. I could use another month!!

5. Chocolate pudding or butterscotch?
I truly dislike chocolate pudding. Butterscotch pudding? Pass. I just won't eat.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Favorite Find Friday

I have a new favorite thing...
Purex 3-in-1 Laundry Sheets
Detergent + Softener + Dryer Sheets

J heard about this first and asked me to purchase some.
Living in loft with limited space, these were a no-brainer.

We went from this...
To this...
But does it work?

Our clothes smell great. They are clean and no static cling.

It is so easy. Toss 1 sheet into the wash, pull the whole load out and put it all in the dryer. No need to mess with measuring detergent. No need to take time to pull out a dryer sheet. More importantly, no need to buy a bunch of products.

The bonus...!
Our water was out for 2 days, due to city work. I HAD to wash a few loads. So, I Googled the nearest laundromat, put each load in a kitchen trash bag - And threw in 1 Purex 3-in-1 sheet. It could not have been easier!!
No lugging a big, awkward detergent bottle or a box of dryer sheets. No measuring. I just put the whole contents of the bag in the washer. Done.

They need to make a bleach sheet.

Sheets clogged the drain of our washer.
Cost $135 + 4 mths of laundromat!

This is an un-paid advertisement. I SHOULD be paid - at least in some free product. This product is so good, I'm thrilled to share my good news with you. Free of any endorsement deal. For now. Hint to The Dial Corporation.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

MUST HAVE 4 Back-to-School

I had to label ALL of Mini Me's clothes, shoes, socks, and stuff for school. I have Sharpie markers but they sometimes bleed through. Plus, I consign our kids' clothes and hate buying consignment with other kids' names on them. Enter: OLIVER'S LABELS

I searched the web for pre-printed, peel-n-stick labels. What sets Oliver's Labels apart, aside from being reasonably priced, PEEL-N-STICK (and they STAY until you want them off) is the LOST & FOUND feature. If lost, there is a code to enter the website. Plus, they have a great assortment of designs and the best 'Back-to-School' package that served our needs perfectly.

We ordered the Space Theme - So cute!!
Oliver's Labels has a great return time. I ordered my labels on a Friday morning and needed them in about a week. With standard shipping, they arrived faster than the 5-7 business days promised. Plenty of time to peel and stick.

We purchased the School Package. The link for packages is at the bottom of the site.

It's not just for school!!
I even put Oliver's Labels on MY laptop and iPhone. Wish I had it when I lost my camera last year. I put labels on the kids' Leapster hand-held and each game cartridge.

Okay. Clearly, I love these labels.
Go BUY some!! They really are awesome!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Socialist healthcare will be the downfall of America

On Twitter, I have seen several comments on the heated debate over universal healthcare coming to America. I made a couple comments and was asked a few questions. I have some thoughts on the matter but first, you must understand I am Canadian. A fiercely proud, passport carrying Canadian. That said, know that I LOVE America and enjoy living here with my American born family. Let's get that straight right off the bat. Were it not for America, Canada would be part of Russia by now - seriously.

Now, for my take...

1. America is ALREADY paying for the poor and the old to be insured (medicare & medicaid). Some of it is through federal programs and some through state programs. This aspect is not going to increase b/c people are doing it now anyway. In fact, it could decrease if people can go see a general practitioner instead of going to the ER for minor things like a cold. And yes, I've seen the reports and articles talking about the current abuse.

2. It's the working poor who really need universal health care. The poor get it for free. The wealthy can afford health insurance. In my 10 years in this country, I have been without health care for 3 months after J was laid off last year. They were the scariest 3 months of my life. Yes, we could have paid $500/mth for Cobra. If we HAD $500/mth!! It was a choice between paying for Cobra or making our mortgage payments. People can say all the crap they want about Obama and the Stimulus Package, but we could have really used the part where you can get COBRA for under $200 last year.

3. My first job in Tulsa was in the collections department of a major hospital. I went home crying more times than I can remember because I would see these massive bills for kids with cancer and leukemia. One girl racked up a bill of over $100,000 in 3 months. Her parents were from Kansas and came to Tulsa for treatment. They had other children back home in Kansas. What happens then? The parents can't work full time, they are racking up medical bills and travel bills and imagine the stress of not being with your other kids. Thank God for Ronald McDonald house who housed them for free. What happens to their home? To their kids' college funds? That is 1 family, representative of so many more.

4. The father of one of my best friends in Canada was gravely ill. She told me about a consult around her father's bed with 5 specialists. 3 of whom were the tops in their respective fields. And she marveled at the level of care her father received without a dime from the family's pocket. Sadly, in America, that does not happen unless you can pay for it.

5. Healthcare is BIG business in this country. I've been on the $500,000 yacht of a cancer doctor. Cancer pays. Sickness pays. For all their squawking, the insurance companies sure do own a lot of this country. Nothing wrong with business. For this reason, I believe it will be extremely difficult to get the fat cats to sign off on universal healthcare.

6. Metric System. I remember the conversion from Imperial to Metric in the '70's as I was growing up. People complained about the expense. They were mad a then Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau. But the change was made and it's all good now. Has been for years. America never made the transition. If America had embarked upon it in the '70's, it would have been a paid for non-issue now. Even in the '80's. Heck, the '90's could have done the trick. But no. No changes. Same with healthcare. Just jump in somewhere and DO IT!! Yes, it will hurt at first, but then it won't be a big deal.

7. Is the Canadian healthcare system perfect? No, there are things that can be changed. That will always be the case with everything though.

8. How does Canada afford it? Well, yes, taxes are higher. But you know what? Health insurance ain't cheap either!! When I looked at my Canadian paychecks, I paid about the same in taxes as we did for health insurance in Tulsa. AND we paid taxes on top of that in Tulsa. So, gosh, we were behind the mark and we had co-pays and deductibles.

I was asked - Widney Woman, what would you do??
I would examine the universal healthcare systems of other countries - especially Canada and Britain. What works? What doesn't? What can we apply to America to bring the biggest results? Then DO IT!! Will there be opposition? Yes. Will there be growing pains and a need to re-evaluate? Yes. But you have to have a starting point somewhere.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mini Me - 1st Day of School 2009

Mini Me started K3 today!!
Playing with Motor Mouth before school
Motor Mouth starts in 2 weeks
School uniform is required
It makes things soooo easy!! Love it!
The running shoes are a request from the school as well. You have to know we would never purposefully send our child to school in running shoes - except on PE days.
At the school playground
Tomorrow, it's Kiss & Drop
(Curbside drop off)
But for today, we needed the photo ops.
No tears from Mini Me

Why Not?
First, she is just not that kind of kid. Very independent. Not the type to cling - even from birth. But I told her she was wearing her 'big girl school uniform' and she can't cry in her uniform. It worked for today. We'll see about tomorrow...LOL!

No tears from Mommy or Daddy

Why Not?
This is a cause for celebration! The Bible says we are to "train a child in the way they should go..." This is part of the training, learning and growing process. As parents, we need to be training ourselves out of a job. So proud of Mini Me taking big girl steps.

Interesting Fact:
I started school in Toronto at age 3 as well!

1st Day Report:
According to her teacher, Mini Me did great today!

Warmest Regards

I find myself a bit harsh at times. Especially when it comes to e-mails. I am from the school of short, quick, to the point. Or long and drawn out but often come across snappy, I think. It's better now, after my 9-year induction into the 'We are NOT Southerners' southern living lifestyle of mid-west Tulsa.

What was I saying...? Oh. Right. Warmest Regards.

The other day, I received a snippy email but at the end, she signed it: Warmest Regards. That really took the edge off. What a sweet, kind person she is. 'Warmest Regards'. Made me want to hug her.

I changed my signature to 'Warmest Regards'. Now, I can say whatever the hell I want and it will be okay because I have 'Warmest Regards' to soften the blow and jettison me into nicedom.

Warmest Regards,
Widney Woman

Sunday, August 9, 2009

It's Not What I Am

Last week, Mercy Street wrote this about not identifying with what you do because that is not who you are. It is what you do. I needed to read that.

It was a good, timely reminder. I have fallen in love with my housewife/stay@home mom titles. In a few days, I must remove my current titles and return to working mom status. Can you hear the deep sighs over the violin playing and the passing of the wine and cheese trays?

Returning to the work world is for our family's greater good. I'm aware of that. It is somewhat of a dream job, working only 4 days/week and being able to keep my little research assistant business. Perhaps it is the end of this brief era I am mourning.

I need to remember that at the core of it all, I am still a wife and a mom - working or not. I am me and that remains unchanged. In some countries, this would be a cause for celebration. Please raise your glasses with me...!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Runaway Bride

I owe being married to the movie...
J, his sister, my sister, and I went to see this movie on July 31st, 1999. It hit home. Julia's character had been engaged 4x without getting married. There I was, engaged again, with a few broken engagements myself. In fact, my mom didn't want to announce my engagement to J to my family because, as she put it, "You never know." Even my own mother had doubts.

Thank you, Julia and Richard
You helped seal the deal
10 years, 2 days

Friday, August 7, 2009

10 Years, 1 day - SHORT Wedding Video

This is our 7-minute wedding video
It is our entire wedding... And then some
We were married at the courtyard of our church in Tulsa
J's parents walked me down the aisle
My family was 'in' my purse (via pictures)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

10 Years

August 6th, 1999
Our wedding announcement
1/4 page of the local newspaper

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Against God's Plan - Pt 7: He Did WHAT??!!

Tomorrow is our 10th wedding anniversary!!

Do you want to know when I fell in love with J?

We met at the end of November 1995 and became instant best friends. In January 1996, J's cousin had been really mean to me, as only teenaged girls can be. I was crying. The ugly cry. J reached up and wiped the snot off my face with his hand. I fell in love at that moment.

It's nasty, right? But to me, it meant J cared so much about me, that he didn't mind touching my yucky stuff. It meant I didn't have to be perfect or beautiful for J to accept me. I could be me. It meant J would be there with me in the bad times and the good times.

It didn't dawn on me then that J loved me and I loved him. It took years before we figured that out. In hindsight, it's clear we needed to build a friendship that could truly withstand the trials we've endured. Even though people told us we should get married, we weren't ready. There was some living and growing up on both sides that needed to be done before we could handle more than a friendship.

In May 1999, when I told my mom J and I were going to get married, she said, "He loves you. He wiped your snot. J is a good man."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Against God's Plan - Pt 6: Ruckus in a Motel

2 more days to our 10th wedding anniversary!!

I talked about my misconception that to be a good wife, we needed to rock the house twice a day in my post Against God's Plan - Pt 3: Bed Sharing and Other Things They Don't Tell You. My dear friend, Mommy Project, asked if I was serious. Yes. Completely. And she asked how we found time for that twice a day for 8 months.

We traveled extensively with Fly Guy's (my father-in-law) company for the first 8 months of our marriage. J and I provided ground support for the helicopter when they were out-of-town. Fly Guy thought it would be a good experience for me to see the country and better understand the family business. This meant we were on the road a lot, in hotels and, in the smaller towns, motels.

One time, in nowhwere Texas, we returned to our motel room from dropping the pilots at the helicopter after lunch. It was a hot, summer afternoon. About 30+ Hispanic cable company contractors were sitting around outside, playing cards in what shade they could find. There were at least 10 guys spilling out of the room next to ours. They stared pretty intently at us as we went into our room. Like we were famous or something. These men had been working away from their families for at least a month. I thought it was time to give them a production!

I enlisted J's help. I started jumping on the bed to make the springs creak. J grabbed the headboard and began banging it against the wall. Then I started in on the moaning. The moaning got progressively louder and louder and more intense. It was like a symphony. Me jumping on the bed and moaning, J banging the headboard and chiming in with his own guttural inflections. We would crescendo then diminuendo. Stop. And repeat. Those poor cable guys didn't know what hit them.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Against God's Plan - Pt 5: Dead on the Roof

Only 3 more days to our 10th wedding anniversary!!

One night, J decided to get creative. He suggested we go out on the roof and 'be' in the rain. Our bedroom had easy dormer access to the roof.

I refused.
"Do you know what happens to people on roofs in rain storms? They get hit by lightening and die!!" No amount of coaxing would work.

Then lightening struck the house. All the cordless phones and TVs got messed up. It freaked us out. We would have been on the roof at the time. I could just imagine no one finding us for days or weeks and when they did, we would have been burnt crisps of former people.

I saved our lives.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Against God's Plan - Pt 4: She Did WHAT??!!

4 More days to our 10th Wedding Anniversary!!

Strange things happen to my mind when I am sleeping. I cannot and will not be held responsible for anything I say or do while in a state of sleep.

One time, in the first year of marriage, J woke up to me sitting on his chest. Yes. I was sitting on his chest. Let that sink in.

It seems I had dreamt there was a snake in bed next to me. I crawled away from it and woke up to J asking why I was sitting on his chest. Seems I was a bit hysterical. Wouldn't you be if you found a snake in your bed? He calmed me down, showed me there was no snake and put me back to sleep.

What a good man.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Against God's Plan - Pt 3: Bed Sharing & Other Things They Don't Tell You

Less than a week to go to our 10th wedding anniversary!

When we first got married, there were so many things we discovered about married life that no one tells you. And, of course, there are the presumptions of what married life is like that somehow manage to get shattered.

For example, we didn't 'feel married' at first. It's like your birthday. You don't feel any older, regardless of how many times various well-meaning, poor conversationalists ask if you feel older. Part of that for us could be because the only real change was that I moved from the pull-out couch in the office to sleeping in a bed upstairs with Jason at his parents' home. Eventually, after about 6 months, we finally started to 'feel married'.

It took a good year almost for it to really sink in that "I married J Widney". I would repeat it every now and then in complete shock and disbelief. That could be because we had been best friends until that fateful phone call and he was not anything like who or what I had envisioned myself marrying.

And that whole sleeping together thing, wow, TV and movies really skew that one!! I didn't sleep for the first 3 months of our marriage. No, I'm not talking about the sex - I'll get to that later. Pretty much, I had only ever shared a bed with my sister, mom, grandmother, or a niece or nephew. I had to learn how to sleep with a man.

A snoring man. J falls asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow. It takes me 30-90 minutes or longer to fall asleep, even when dead tired. Finally, I told myself his snoring was not going away and I was going to have to figure a way to live with it. I trained myself to breathe when he breathed and look at it as rhythmic music. And I kept the knives as far away as possible to avoid killing him in his sleep.

The arm around each other or his arm under my neck to sleep is a crock they sell you on TV. That is so freaking uncomfortable!! It put J's arm to sleep and I got a kink in my neck. Arrgh! Oh, and snuggling up to each other? Forget it!! He is a furnace at night and I need my blankets (plural). We soon learned it was okay to say goodnight, turn our backs to each other and only touch feet...if that much.

Okay, now for the sex. I somehow got it in my head that to be a good wife, especially a good housewife as I was for the first 8 months, I needed to give up the goods 2x/day. More on his days off and definitely when he was home sick from work. I was diligent. One day, in casual conversation with my father, I mentioned this philosophy of mine. "What? You're killing the man!" was my dad's response. "Are you joking, Dad? I really can hurt him?" "I don't know about hurt him, but give the poor guy a break." Oh.

Poor J. When he was sick, I was all up in his business, trying to do my duty. One day, I was really sick. J tried to get all up in my business but I wasn't having it. "I'm sick. I don't want to!!" I said. "You don't want to because you are sick and don't feel like it?" J said. "Yeah." "Well then leave me the hell alone when I'm sick." he replied. Oh.

Why don't people tell you these things?

P.S. If J tells you I talk in my sleep, or worse, I pass gas in my sleep, don't believe him. You know me by now, you know I'd NEVER do such things.