Monday, January 28, 2008

Same Cube, Different Day, Different Company

Well, it's official: I now work for "Business Objects, an SAP company." SAP acquired over 80% of Business Objects shares in the first tender offer, and I hear that most of the remaining shares are coming in during the second offer. I guess I can stop worrying about learning French and think about learning German instead.

Opportunities for puns abound. We had an internal "Day One" event entitled ME@SAP--I had to exercise great restraint with that one. (Don't the people who come up with the names for these things ever think about the unintended possibilities?)

In any case, I now work for one of the Big Four in software. Microsoft, IBM, SAP and Oracle are often collectively referred to as MISO within the industry. So I guess you could say I'm now in the soup.

See, I told you the opportunities for puns abound. I only have so much strength...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Another smile

Originally uploaded by Tami of BrooksGroth

Admittedly this one is a bit cheesy, but cheesy is an improvement over purposefully pouting when the camera comes out so we're making progress of a sort. Recently Nessa started playing to the camera like this so watch for more cheesy grins.

These smiles, and not going outside the last several hours, have really warmed me up today. :-) According to AccuWeather it has warmed all the way up to -4 ... by the time I leave for the day we may be in the positive which will feel down right balmy. The high is predicted to be 8 above and it will happen for about 30 seconds roughly between 3 p.m. and 3:05 p.m. ... or something like that. Luckily there isn't much wind here today! This weekend we're supposed to be having a heat wave so with any luck there will be actual playing going on in all of that white fluffy stuff piled up high everywhere here.

By the way I'm known as the one adult in our household who kind of, sort of, likes winter ... so all of this not-so-positive weather chatter must mean I need more time with my light therapy box or something. At least it gives all of the southern readers a gasp or two. Really, I do think I'm much more sensitive to the cold than I ever used to be though. Thank goodness for heated seats in the van .... AND...

all the wonderful warm smiles!

A smile to brighten the day

Originally uploaded by Tami of BrooksGroth

This shivery brrrr cold morning I needed something to warm my heart and brighten my day ... this smile certainly does!

Megan took a bunch of pictures of her self this past weekend (Nessa snuck in a few too). You can see more on Flickr: (may need to copy/paste it)


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Nessa's New Bed

Originally uploaded by Tami of BrooksGroth

Nessa's new bed is actually Megan's old bed. Well, really just the top bunk. After Megan started sleeping on her bottom bunk recently, I knew how I would put that bottom bunk to good use.

Friday night Shawn worked hard to be sure Nessa could sleep in her new bed that night.

I had this great idea that the top bunk rails would help Nessa not fall out. I didn't quite think that all the way through though. Those same railings also made it harder for Nessa to get in and out of bed. Well, after the first morning of waking up crying we practiced with the stool and figured that one out, and by nap time this weekend she didn't need the stool as she repeatedly got out of bed when she didn't want to sleep.

By the end of the weekend we were all tired of stepping over the railing and not being able to sit on the edge of the bed. This weekend the railing will be removed, and we'll see if we need to do something else to help her not fall out . (I know we have options for other railings, etc..)

Megan took this picture while she was camera happy this weekend (actually I asked her to take a few specific pics and then she was on a roll). Megan had made Nessa's bed nice and neat with her quilts all in order on top of the bed as well, but when the covers got messed up while looking for her blankie (actually in the toy kitchen oven) she must have decided the "reality pose" was better. Except, I can't remember a time when Nessa just sat quietly on her bed while awake...maybe I'm seeing a glimpse into the future when she is mad at me and pouts quietly on her own ... oh, wait I just have to open the next door down the hall to get a picture of that. :-)

Nessa claims to like her new bed. How she acts when it's time to use it would not prove this to be accurate, but she does like to stay in it when it's time to get up in the morning.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Grandma Socks!

Originally uploaded by Tami of BrooksGroth

It was hard not to let Grandma Karen know we were going to do this when she was here this weekend ...

Sometimes it's the little things ... and our (well, at least my) favorite Christmas present this year was my Grandma socks. Well, they are socks that my mom (Grandma Karen) made so we call them "Grandma socks" around our house. And we LOVE them.

For more photos that Megan took this weekend of our wonderful, and warm (!) socks see:

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Blogging by the fire; or, brrrr it's cold out there

My parents stopped by for lunch today which is always a nice Saturday treat for all of us, and the girls get especially excited for days before and after even if it doesn't seem as if they're appreciating it much at the time. It was especially nice today since we certainly weren't letting the girls out of the house!

At the moment I'm curled up with a laptop and a quilt in front of a roaring fire that Shawn built for us. I do love to have a fire in the fireplace, but this is actually a necessity for using the Great Room during weather like this as the room was definitely not designed or built to retain heat. And while sometimes I say I'll take any excuse I can get for a fire, I really could do without the frigid temperatures.

(Oh, there she goes on about the weather again...)

Before starting to blog I had to do a little research. When Dad came he said that the radio was reporting that La Crosse was the warm spot of the region so head towards La Crosse. I thought geez how bad is the rest of the region since I knew we were going to struggle to make above zero temps today. Well, the current temperature in La Crosse (Sat. 1/19 4 p.m.) is -4 and it feels like -22, but hey it is sunny out. So, then I pulled up the regional maps from the Weather Channel and while the forecast map did show La Crosse as the "hot spot" with a prediction of a zero high (don't think we got there), the actual temperatures across the region actually has the Twin Cities and Brainerd a few degrees warmer than us, and if you want the warm spot in Wisconsin it's Milwaukee at 2 degrees (yes, above zero). BUT, at these temperatures ... a few degrees really doesn't matter much. It's still blimp'n cold.

Thursday was the first day in a long time that I was really ready to move south. Our company headquarters (the one that bought us -- ECI2 not LMS) is in the Dallas - Fort Worth area and on Thursday if they would have offered me a job I would not have even hesitated ... well, maybe I could get a trip in yet this winter. On the other hand if they wait and ask me to go in July or August I don't think I'll be too happy about it.

Why Thursday? Well, Thursday we got more snow. Actually it started Wednesday night. Then it snowed all day Thursday. It wasn't heavy snow (in all, 5 inches), but just enough to make a really good mess without it being enough for the roads, sidewalks, parking lots etc. to be taken care of in a manner that prevented fishtailing with the car/van all over or getting snow up to your ankles when walking in and out of buildings. And, as always, it was a pain to get snow off of the van each time before driving (an extra pain for us short people).

Because it was 10 degrees (air temp, not windchill so it really felt colder) during the warmest part of the day, our wonderful daycare teachers could only let the kids watch the snow through the large windows in the main room. They are studying polar bears, igloos, penguins and all things cold lately so at least the weather cooperated. I imagine that Nessa wasn't the only one that went home and "helped" shovel though. When we left daycare I fell for Nessa telling me she would stay standing (versus sit or lay down in the snow) when we didn't put her snow pants on (she was VERY bundled up except no snow pants) ... So I agreed that she could help shovel for awhile rather than going right in the house. Well, within minutes she was covered in snow of course. Every time I mentioned going inside she would scream. Fifteen minutes later I dragged her in. Her thick sweat pants are luckily pretty thick and warm as no wetness wet through and she was just normal cold and not dangerous cold. And while the driveway and sidewalk looked pretty good when Shawn came home, he could also tell that Nessa had helped. :-)

Tonight we're going to brave the cold to go out to eat, see a play, and meet friends for drinks afterwards. I politely informed Shawn that there should be no question about parking and walking from place to place. We will always park as close as possible to where we go tonight. And layers will rule over fashion (as if I was ever not practical these days ... I'm so glad I went for the practical and LONG coat from Land's End earlier this winter ... and so glad I found a hat that I like that fits my big head too, lol).

Tomorrow it's another laid back weekend day ... good for catching up on lots of normal household chores, snuggling by the fire, and rumour has it that there is some football on too. ;-)

With any luck I'll catch up on all of the photos I have to post ... until then you can always see what new things I've posted on flickr (the other night I even added descriptions to most of the new ones) --

Stay warm...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fun with food... green smoothies and that wonderful chef

I have finally found a food I can get excited about (a challenge for someone with food allergies that doesn't really like to cook or bake ... and can be a bit sensitive to the inevitable flops) ... green smoothies! I was inspired by one of my favorite food bloggers to try it:

Five minutes of googling made me wonder how I had never heard of green smoothies before!

Nessa LOVES green smoothies. Of course we never, NEVER call them by the other name the fatfee vegan mentions -- blended salads ... Noooo, that sounds bad enough to me, and it would certainly turn the rest of the household totally against my new favorite way to actually use those kitchen appliances!

In fact today Nessa overheard me telling Shawn I had a new pizza crust recipe (using polenta) that I was interested in trying so I thought Wednesday could be pizza and salad night. Nessa piped right up, "I don't like salad."

I just couldn't miss my opportunity so ask her, "do you like green smoothies?"

"Yes." she said with big bright eyes and a happy grin that seemed to beg me to make some right then.

The super green smoothie you see here is essentially the recipe from the fatfree vegan blog, although I remember varying it somewhat here (this is actually my second time making them as the first was just me at night and very yummy but not picture worthy). That recipe with both pineapple and mango with the spinach is still my favorite so far. I have also tried various berries with bananas and once with kale instead of spinach. In our experience the bananas while giving it texture also can be overpowering and we prefer the other fruits. So far we've used blueberries and blackberries (strawberries and raspberries are next on my list) and while they give it a fun deep blue/purple color, I still prefer the bright green.

Megan (10) was a little harder to get excited about green smoothies than Nessa was ... this is where being 2 can be useful. I just acted very excited as I asked Nessa if she wanted to help me make a green smoothie ... I was especially excited when I asked her if she knew how to make it green ... "oh, I know I said" as she didn't answer, "we'll add spinach!" That doesn't work on a ten-year-old. It doesn't really work very well on a forty-something either ... but both Shawn and Megan stayed very open-minded, and both of them have enjoyed green and blue smoothies this week. I promised Megan to be able to make the "original inspiration recipe" on Wednesday as she wasn't here when I did that and then I was out of mango.

Speaking of recipes ... that's another thing about these wonderful smoothies -- I can't seem to ruin them. Sure some are better than others, but all have been MUCH more drinkable (and most very yummy) than any protein shakes or other such healthy smoothie makers.

I also love that I can now have "green drinks" that I make myself so I know exactly what is in them (most green drinks sold packaged in the store have wheat grass and other things that I can't or shouldn't eat). And, as the fatfree vegan points out, you don't need a fancy machine of any type to make these. I can attest that the ordinary or even el cheapo blender will suffice (okay, so there have been some moments where we really would have liked to see what the more expensive blenders would do, but still we eventually made it to smoothie texture). So, while I've been dreaming of a juicer ... it is now slipping much farther down on the wish list as I'm probably much happier drinking smoothies than mere juice anyway.

I just had to throw in this picture of Shawn in his chef hat. I came in from napping with Nessa this past Sunday and started laughing hysterically when I saw him. If you know Shawn, you know that was probably his entire point. Of course, chef hat or not, I was loving that he was making dinner when I woke up ... nothing fat-free or even close to vegan here though -- Shawn was cooking -- turkey tenderloins with real mashed potatoes and some mixed veggies (at my request) .... very yummy ... he has that glaze down for the turkey tenderloins ... and really, quite healthy if I'm eating meat/poultry which I am these days ... or at least most of the days.

Below, Nessa assumed I was taking a picture of her (wonder why?), but really I was trying to capture the mound of apple pancakes and the deep blue/purple smoothies. This supper almost inspired a post titled "how to have both salad and pancakes in one supper" ... but there were too many other things I wanted to write about ...

Nessa helped me make supper right up until she scooped up a handful of the "dry ingredients" (various flours and spices) and tested it to see if I was right about it not tasting good until it was actually made into pancakes (okay, I assume that is what she was doing because it make her sound inquisitive and not just defiant about doing something I had told her not to do when she pretended to eat it a few minutes earlier).

The pancakes are a variation from one of my allergy cookbooks. They were supposed to be made with Quinoa flour or Amaranth flour -- I swore I had both of these, but I only had a small amount of Quinoa left and no Amaranth ... decided it wasn't worth trying to run out and get these so I mixed it with teff flour. They turned out fine, but I still want to try it with the flours specified in the recipe sometime. I also would like something better for grating/shredding apples (any recommendations from our pampered chef consultant?) as this is yet another recipe that calls for shredded apples and instead I simply chop them because my tool options leave much to be desired in the shredding area.

I decided to make the pancakes tonight because I had already had a large lunch of stir fry with chicken and veggies for lunch (it was my turn to order today and I choose Hackberry's -- yum, a free lunch I could really enjoy ... the burger and fries crowd was a little disgruntled), and I didn't know if I could handle another large meal and didn't really feel like more meat (3/4 of you can stop rolling your eyes now). Shawn had been home sick all day and said pancakes were fine with him (think anything would have been fine as long as I cooked it though), and Nessa voted for pancakes and smoothies over any option that included salad. We had blackberries in the freezer and bananas on the counter ... and just enough spinach left -- so it was blue/purple smoothies tonight (used vanilla milk instead of water too, but I don't know if that changed the flavor much or not). We liked them in general but agreed the banana was too much as that was the main flavor we tasted and we wanted to taste the berries a little more (2 small bananas; about a cup and a half of blackberries; a cup of vanilla rice milk; as much spinach as would fit into the blender and then a little more to use it up ... about 2 cups packed).

So in my five minutes of Internet searching on "green smoothies" I found all kinds of interesting things about how great they are for you -- whether it's weight loss or just good nutrition you're after ... how the fruit sugars are not absorbed as fast when accompanied by the fiber, etc. ... but none of the top search results hit on my first thought -- I CAN GET MY TODDLER/FAMILY TO EAT GREENS (this especially applies to the toddler ... Nessa has now eaten more spinach and Kale in a week than in her entire lifetime before that unless you count her getting it through breastmilk, LOL ... in fact she has eaten more than she likely would have had until she left home at the rate she was going for eating it an other way!).

I was planning to mention the wonderful new teas I've been drinking thanks to discovering TeaSource ( -- thanks Lance ... but I don't have any good photos and the post is already long ... so it will have to be its own post sometime soon. Nessa does request tea every time she sees me with it, but she rarely actually drinks more than a few sips of whatever tea I do give her. I do look forward to sharing many real teatimes with her in addition to the imaginary tea parties we have on the living room floor on a regular basis.

Here's to eating well this year --

Thursday, January 10, 2008

No More Chinese Restaurants for Nessa

So...Tuesday became a frustrating day at work and as my laptop continued to process when I should have been leaving work I felt the last remains of any peace slip away and my shoulders reached their old familiar tension-filled space. I had to leave work to go get Nessa, but my laptop wasn't ready to go and of course I HAD to work a bit that night. (I tell myself that a lot because I'm ALWAYS on a roll at the end of the afternoon. But I only sign back on after Nessa is in bed a fraction of the time.) So, I decided I would leave it processing (checking out files I needed) and come back and get it later. On the way home I backed out of cooking for veggie night and asked Shawn about going out to eat ... he generously said yes and we went to a Chinese restaurant downtown (close to work so I could stop back quickly).

Nessa did quite well through supper. I didn't do so well because the waitress was not all that pleasant about answering questions about what is actually in the food so I could at least attempt to avoid my allergens (I'm sure my mood didn't help). So, we made it through supper and headed home after I stopped to pick up the laptop. Bedtime went as well as we expect it to lately and Nessa did fall asleep before her parents did ...

I think it was about midnight when we woke up ... I can't even remember what exactly Nessa was doing to wake us up, but she was up, so we were up. Shawn went in first. I don't know how long he was gone, but he returned at some point to inform me that he could not convince Nessa that she did NOT in fact NEED mommy. I went in to Nessa's room ... She seemed so sweet and quite calm while I calmly talked to her and stroked her hair. I fooled myself into thinking she just needed some snuggles to drift off to sleep. She never fell asleep, but about 1:45 I thought I could sneak out to go to the bathroom ... I could hear her cry before I sat down.


She was not sick.

She was simply not falling asleep. And she did not understand being alone at night in the dark while WIDE awake.

At some point I gave her a book to "read" and told her I would check on her in a bit. I don't even remember falling back asleep.

I believe Shawn went in and sang to her again.

I believe it was sometime around 4 a.m. when she fell asleep again, but it could have been later (or is that earlier?). I do know that when our alarm went off at 5:45 we rolled over (Shawn to the actual alarm and me to the dawn simulator) and simply shut it off!

The next thing I remember is waking up with a start after hearing a loud crash. It sounded SO loud I thought a piece of furniture had fallen over and all kinds of bad parenting thoughts went through my head (the bored insomniac must have climbed her dresser...). Shawn returned from Nessa's room to assure me that it was only her Sigg water bottle hitting the floor, and that she seemed to have dropped it *in her sleep* ! At that point (7:05 a.m. -- the time we usually head out the door) I decided to drag my tired butt out of bed and race to get to work close to on time. Nessa informed me that she wanted "MOMMY" to take her to daycare so I did not, in fact, make it to work on time; however, Nessa got herself dressed faster than we thought was ever possible! and I merely missed the morning meeting that I usually complain about anyway.

The night did NOT do much to relieve my tension.

However, having experienced insomnia and having very real sleep issues in the not too distant past (any time I mess up too much on my food issues or overdue it in some other way), I felt bad for her and as usual my brain started working on ways we can prevent this from happening again. I do not believe this is normal behavior nor do I believe it's "naughty" in any way.

As I remembered a few other rough nights we've had and how her behavior in general has seemed inconsistent at times (the times we wonder what in the world happened to our sweet girl ... like New Years Eve holiday time ... other factors involved too, but still not our sweet Nessa). This insomnia episode and a few others suddenly became crystal clear as a reaction to something, and the most likely cause seems food of some sort (my top pick for this episode is food color (likely red) but it could also be other additives, flavorings, MSG, etc.) ... and I've always suspected she has some food allergies/sensitives similar to mine due to her digestive issues.

So, this was one BIG wake up call to start the testing and process of elimination to find out what she is reacting to. So far, I've scheduled an appointment with the doctor I have worked most closely with in regards to my own food issues (at Franciscan Skemp Center for Health and Healing in Onalaska). We may end up seeing others as well as we continue to look at our options. We couldn't get in as a new patient until March though ... so until then, we will try to at least watch her diet more closely to stick to whole foods, etc. so that if she does react it's easier to tell what it is (hopefully!) ... although we won't be letting her near a Chinese restaurant, store bought sweet and sour sauce, or almost anything red for quite awhile! (And if you feed her something full of food coloring or additives and she is up all night ... guess who I'm calling at 3 a.m.)

On the other hand if anyone has any suggestions on books, resources, local doctor recommendations, etc., please let us know.

Monday, January 07, 2008

And on the 12th day of Christmas ... we rested

I originally had great plans for Epiphany Sunday ... in addition to taking down the Christmas decorations I was going to update the blog with everything that has been keeping us busy, post more holiday photos, and finally post all of the half-written blog entries currently on my laptop. Instead, the girls and I went out for an early lunch while Shawn was singing at the second service, I took a nap, and we pretty much had a lazy day and evening.

Now the holidays are officially over and we're all back to our regular schedules ... and no overnight travels are planned for a bit. So, with any luck, I should be able to slowly catch up throughout January between trying to get my girls to stop growing out of clothes and attempting to meet an elusive work deadline.

Until then, I'll just complain about the weather some more because that is what we do in WI/MN. If you haven't heard, we are experiencing a January thaw, and yes that is something to complain about. I was happy to be rid of the below zeros temps we were experiencing just last week, but to now swing up to the 40s as we did this weekend ... things are a wet mess and I'm SO tired of the fog. Yuck! All that snow ... melts quite quickly in 40 degree weather. And Nessa had just become accustomed to bundling up and now she doesn't really have to, but will have to again shortly ... with a toddler that likes things to stay the same that can be tricky. And forget about ever getting the ten year old to actually wear hat and mittens when not actively playing in the snow (What? I can get cold walking in and out of buildings and cars?). Besides this just messes up my internal calendar ... this is March weather and not January weather. Be ready for more complaining when it snows in March/April.

By the way life is pretty good when all we have to complain about is the weather. ;-)