Monday, September 28, 2009

B & B Club, Revisited

"B & B" Club? Well, back in the day, My Favorite Redhead, Becks and I had a book club. There were good books, good friends (more than just Red and Becks), and good drinks. Hence the moniker "Booze & Books." Please note the order of the wording: booze first. Anyhoo, things happened, gals moved around, lives got busy, and B & B was pushed to the back burner.

Until now. About six weeks ago, Red decided that we should resurrect the Club. Me and Becks were in agreement, and more fabulous women were invited to read the first book of the newly reincarnated "B & B" Club: The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich .

Red went to the local bookstore and when she told the clerk that she needed the book for her book club, the clerk told her about the discount offered to local book clubs who register at the store. Sweet! Which brings me back to the naming of the club. "Booze & Books" does not sound like the type of club for dentists' wives, youth program directors, community corrections directors, catch my drift? And so it was shortened- abbreviated- to "B & B." And then when we found out that Becks is expecting (!!!), well, our minds just shot off hundreds of new word combinations that the two Bs could stand for. Bottles & Babies, Boobs & Boo-tay, Bruschetta & Bon Bons...I could go on.

And so it is that the re-formed B & B Club will have its first meeting in just three short weeks. I've already finished the book (amazing!), and am now in the menu-planning stages, since the meeting will be here at my house. Gourmet pizzas okay with everyone? Good.

Other news? Well, I ran the Quad Cities Marathon yesterday, and for the first race in a loooonnnnggg tiiiimmmmeee I developed nasty blisters. One on my back ankle about the size of a half dollar, and one on the inside ball of each foot. Ouch. So, the time I was aiming for (about 4:45) was seriously thwarted, and I finished instead in about 5:21. Greatly discouraged, yes; taking a break, yes; planning my next marathon already, yes.

New favorite quotes:
"Fall seven times and stand up eight." - Japanese Proverb

"It's hard to beat a person who never gives up." - Babe Ruth

Have a great week.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Farewell, Summer

So, the first week of school happened while I was in Denver for a work-related conference. No biggie, right? Well, except for Daughter #1 getting side-swiped in the car on her way to school (and whomever hit her decided to leave the scene...), all was well.  I'm surprised at how quickly and effortlessly my family fell back into their school year routines- Fall already! It seems like just last week that I was still tapping my foot and checking my watch, wondering why Summer hadn't shown up yet.  And so, in the wake of Summer's end, I present to you another installment of my "From The Editor" article, originally published in my running club's newsletter, circa September-October 2008, and re-worked for this venue.  Enjoy!

The other night, I put a quilt on my bed. Why does this matter? Well, because it was August when I wrote this, it was August that other night when I put the quilt on my bed, and as we all know, August is the month of Summer that is hot, sticky, sweltering, and most definitely un-quilt-ish.  So why the quilt? And why the following story?

Some of you get it already, and some of you have clicked away from this page.  Here it is:  Summer is over.

My heart broke as I wrote those words.  I love Summer unapologetically; I cast all affection to the season, caring not how the other seasons feel.  Spring may tease with its sporadic 70-degree days, and Fall may try to trick us into thinking there's sunshine, what with its flame-hued leaves and such.  Winter doesn't even try anymore- the cool blue and grey tones of the days are only fleetingly interrupted with glaring sunshine, momentarily making us Northern-dwelling folks forgo toques and gloves for a day.  But it is Summer days- the entire length of them- that I enjoy.

This Summer (as in the Summers of the past two years) I thought for sure that I would be able to languish at the beach with a blanket and a good book.  Work had other ideas for me.  My (Never-Ending) kitchen renovation and new patio had other ideas for me.  My family had other ideas for me.

Work renovation shopping laundry sleep patio work family vacuuming driving bargain hunting kids marathon stop to eat something anything renovation concrete splatter those bunnies are still here?

And that was just the first week of June.  I've never been very good at allowing myself to relax and slow down, even when I know I'll crash hard.  I had every intention of carving out a few hours for myself for unscheduled, unstructured alone time.  Well, we all know that saying about the path and how it is paved...

So I settled into a routine at work, Mr. Fix settled into a routine with the renovation and new patio, and Daughters #1 and #2 kept up their Summer tradition of eating breakfast at noon.  It wasn't until the summer program I run at work was complete that I realized I hadn't used any vacation days.  Not.  Even.  One.

At this point, I know I need to get away and relax, focus on nothing but whatever I like.  I know that my reward for (finally) indulging in some "Me Time" will be a sense of renewal and eagerness that has somehow slipped away with the days of June, July and August.  Is this what most people know as "revitalization of the spirit?" Today I am ready to face the start of another school year, another Fall marathon, and another Winter of cold cold cold cold cold!

And, maybe more importantly, I'm ready to accept that my "blanket and good book" meant for the beach are going to be my "quilt and good book" in my bed.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Pencils? Notebooks? Lunch Money?

Check, check, and check. Today marks the first day of school for the Fix Family. YAY! While Mr. Fix and Daughters #1 & #2 make their way into their (not really) new daily routines, I am spending the day in airports. Yep, off to Denver for a conference.

Do you remember your very first day of school? I remember a few details: St. Patrick's Catholic School in LaSalle, IL; the kindergarten classroom was on the lower level of the building, with easy access to the playground; I remember asking my mom why some of the other kids were crying; the rest is a blur. I've always loved school. What's not to love about learning something new? Sure, you have to learn to take the good (art class, reading) with the bad (U.S. History, math concepts like "negative infinity"), but ultimately you learn something new every day.

I went from St. Pat's to Visitation School in Kewanee, IL, where not only was the location and scenery new, but so was the fact that we had to wear uniforms. And they were ugly, too. Royal blue, black and white plaid jumpers (or skirts, once you reached junior high). White, light blue, or even pale yellow blouses were allowed, and eventually we were allowed polo shirts instead. No pants for girls, except in Winter, and even then they had to be under our skirts. So ugly, such a horrible exercise in removing the individuality of youth. Did I hate wearing a uniform? YES. Would I ever consider sending my child to a school with uniforms? NEVER. Can I see the logic and convenience of uniforms? Kind of- I get the "convenient" part, and I get the whole "part of a group" thing. I just don't buy into it. If the message of the group is strong enough, it should survive and thrive while in cute clothes, no?

But I digress from the whole "first day" thing. No butterflies. A sense of excitement, maybe, but it has to do with the return to a routine, the sense of familiarity, a homecoming of sorts. I'm one of those people who advocate for year-round schooling. As a person in the education field, sometimes I find myself the outcast with that line of thinking. "How can you want to give up your Summers off?" Well, I don't have Summers off, and since research shows that kids do better with shorter breaks (say, three weeks) throughout the calendar year in terms of academic achievement, I don't see why our school system insists on keeping the status quo. Unions? Perhaps. But I know plenty of parents who would pitch a fit, too.

And speaking of pitching a fit, can you believe the baloney over President Obama's speech to the nation's school children? Really? You're going to keep your kids home from school because the President is addressing them? Maybe its time for you to go back to school and learn some manners.

So there. Have a great week!