30 January 2012

Time Out Comedy Show

Nate is off tonight for his first board of directors meeting for Benny's school. I'm really proud of him. He decided to become more involved and applied to be on the board. That means that I had the pleasure of bedtime for both kids. Sometimes I get overwhelmed thinking about putting both kids to bed. In reality, it's quite easy. That said, Nate was a little late in leaving tonight after Lila pooped all over the floor (we were giving her some air time - apparently when she says "poop" she means that she's going to poop, not that she has pooped).

Long story short, Lila was in bed by 7:15 or so and Benny was busy playing some games at Sesame Street online. I warned him several times that he was on his last game. Yet, when I shut the game off, he threw a massive tantrum. I warned him that he could get his pjs on and calm himself down or he would get a time out. He didn't stop, so I put him in time out in our room.

Benny doesn't get many time outs any more. He can mostly control his tantrums now, which is a total bonus of being four and a half. But, he started the time out with his normal time out behavior - hitting the door, screaming, you know, the usual.

And then, and then, he started saying things that totally cracked me up. I'm sure he was just trying to calm himself down, but my gosh, sometimes he says some of the most hilarious things! Such as,

"I don't want time outs. No thank you. NO THANK YOU!"

"I'm going to put Mom in time out."

"Not fair. Not fair. Not fair!"

Just imagine a crying, screaming child saying things behind a door. Hilarious!

Benny did emerge from time out, put on his pjs, read a story and went to bed. It ended up being a lovely evening.

28 January 2012

Book Review: Evening Is the Whole Day

Two confessions: I picked this book for book club because it sounded like a fast read and I absolutely loved the title: Evening Is the Whole Day. Are you kidding me? That's pretty much the best book title ever. It turns out that the book was not easy to read, however. I'm still finishing up - 20 pages to go! - and book club was over two weeks ago. Whoops.

The book was fascinating. It's written really, really well. But it moves slowly. Very slowly. It's set in Malaysia over a span of about 25 years and covers everything from the Malaysian fight for independence to race relations in Malaysia. I learned a lot about the culture.

The weakness of the book - and maybe this is its strength too - is that because of the way it's written, I had no sympathy for any of the characters. Samarasan keeps a secret until the last 50 pages, which explains a great deal about how the characters behave. Had I known about the secret earlier on, I probably would have read the book differently.

Next month we're reading Steve Martin's new book, Object of Beauty. If it's half as good (and easy to read) as Shopgirl, I think I'll be in love. I'm also debating whether or not I should write book reviews for the books I'm reading for my Media Effects class. They're rather dry, but I've put a lot of time into reading these suckers!

26 January 2012

Remembering Barb

Five years ago, to the exact day and time, the world lost a remarkable woman. Barb Brown was one of the most energetic, fun loving, stubborn, funny, interesting, curious, loving women I've known. She was a unique lady who literally lived life to the fullest - every day. I knew Barb as a mother-in-law, but she was so much more than that to me. She welcomed me to the Brown family with absolutely no hesitation.

Rather than remembering her death, I choose to remember her life. And even though I don't believe in religion, I do believe that her spirit is still with us. Barb LOVED to talk and every time our kids jabber on and on, we talk about the spirit of Barb. Barb enjoyed a nice glass of wine and we toast her silently. Barb enjoyed making healthy, delicious meals that were full of "goodness." Whenever we eat lots of vegetables, we channel Barb.

I miss her still. At Christmas, on camping trips, at the kids' birthday parties. She would have been an outstanding grandma. Remembering Nana Barb is the best we can do with the kids. I hope that one day they can understand what a truly outstanding lady she was.

25 January 2012

FREE Books

When I was planning my syllabus for this quarter, I was shocked about the price of books. Apparently, I blocked that reality of grad school from my memory. I wondered how the hell I was going to afford the books for the quarter (over $150 - yikes, sorry students!). I've never actually planned my own class. Other professors planned the course schedule and I was a lowly TA. So, I never knew about the "desk copy" concept.

Here's how it works... Consider books for a class and go to a publisher's website. Each publisher has an option for a desk or examination copy. Obviously, not just anyone can order these books. I need all sorts of information to order these copies. But, get this ... I put in an order for a desk copy for my books this quarter and BOOM! they arrived within two weeks. So freaking cool.

I just put in my order for the spring quarter. Do you know what I'm getting for FREE??? The Whole World Is Watching by Todd Gitlin, Radical Media by Robert Downing and Global Activism, Global Media by Lievrau. Do you know how excited I am about this??? This Activist Media class is going to be so kick ass.

Something's Gotta Give

BIG SIGH OF RELIEF... Since Thanksgiving, we've been running around the state (and country), changing career paths, keeping the kids home from daycare two days a week and generally been busy. The holidays are always busy. Thanksgiving in Montrose, a trip to Minneapolis (solo), a weekend of Nate rocking out and Christmas parties, Christmas with family here, New Years in Boulder, a weekend in Brule (me and the kids), and a long weekend in Iowa (Nate and Lila). Couple all of that with birthday parties and general adult socializing, and you've got some pretty worn out parents.

And then, just because I didn't have enough on my plate, I started teaching, quit my job and started a new job in early January. I started my new job while finishing up at my old job. This is the first week I've actually been able to STAY at home with the kids. It feels good.

Here's the thing I've learned from this experiment: I can only pack so many activities and events into one single day. So something(s) did give, including the house (we didn't clean the bathroom for three weeks - gross!), any sense of romance in our marriage (that should be one of the top priorities, but it always seems to get shifted to the end of the list) and the blog. Now that I'm settling into a new schedule, I hope to make time for all of these things and more!

Oh, and today I got to walk Benny to school. One of the many perks of a flexible schedule. I know this is all worth it in the end. I just have to figure out how to work everything into the schedule!

16 January 2012

Bad Hair Day

Nate braved a trip to Iowa with Lila last weekend. I was scared for him. One shouldn't fly with children between the ages of about 11 months to about 2 1/2. But, since Lila is still free and since Nate was traveling to Iowa to see Nana Lila, we thought it was a good idea.

Apparently, Lila traveled like a champ. There was no screaming or squirming in the airplane, she slept on her regular schedule, she ate like she used to eat (which is to say that she ate well). I'm proud of both of them!

But, I had to post these pictures. I did pack for Lila because I was a little afraid of Nate dressing her like a hobo. (Case in point: He used to get Benny ready in the morning to take him to daycare. One day I picked Benny up and the ladies at daycare were laughing because Nate had put one of his camping belts on Benny so that Benny's pants would stay up. He had to wrap it around his waste three times! And Benny wasn't potty trained yet.) However, I knew Lila's hair would be dicey. I put it in pigtails before they left and just hoped that Nate would let her sleep in the pigtails. No such luck. I'm sorry for these pictures Lila!

I also had the pleasure of spending the entire weekend with Benny. Although I missed Lila terribly, it was a treat to hang with Benny alone. He's such a funny little guy!

15 January 2012

Struckman Consulting

Things are a-changing at a rapid pace around here. I feel like I'm finally taking advantage of opportunities for my career, while acknowledging the importance of spending time with my family. As I wrote a few weeks back, I'm teaching in an adjunct position at the University of Denver. My class is going well. It's a lot of work - and responsibility. But I'm thoroughly enjoying being part of the university community again.

I have also been working on becoming an independent consultant for a few months. That included establishing an limited liability corporation and researching other aspects of owning a "business." I put that in quotes because it's really not so much of a business yet. I am happy to report that I have secured my first contract.

That means that I put in my resignation at Mental Health America of Colorado. I have one week to go. I also started working on a contract basis at a great organization. Right now I'm on a short-term contract with the option to extend the contract. I'm also networking with people who may be contacts in the future. This is all so new to me that I'm learning as I go.

What's great about my new arrangement is that I have the kids in daycare three days a week, which allows for a significant savings. I'm working and teaching on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The kids and I are home together on Monday and Friday. I'm still figuring out how to get everything done in three short days, which usually means working a bunch at night and on the weekends. But, I love that I have figured out a way to spend more time with the kids while continuing to nurture my career. And the autonomy is fantastic!

Once Struckman Consulting gets a website, I'll be sure to share it! Stay tuned for details!

11 January 2012

What's Up Chuck (Roast)?

Benny, Lila and I spent last weekend with my parents in Brule. We were all getting over a cold, so I'm sure we weren't the most enjoyable company. My parents, however, reveled in spoiling Benny and Lila with attention. I got some reading done for my class, Benny visited Bud the Barber for a haircut (check out the pictures below of Benny's first visit to Bud) and my dad cleaned out his freezer and sent me home with a cooler full of meat. This seems to be a new past time of his. I don't know if it's a vestige his shock about of my being a vegetarian several years ago or if he just thoroughly enjoys giving people food (I think it's probably a combination). At any rate, he included a chuck roast.

I've heard of chuck roast, but never considered buying, much less preparing, one. This particular cut of meat is from a butcher in Arthur, Nebraska. That means is legit. Arthur is still cattle country, home to cowboys and cowgirls. I don't say this disparagingly either. I believe ranching and farming is a wonderfully complex lifestyle that has so many positive attributes. On that note, please check out The Whittaker's blog. I went to college with Hailey. She's now a mother of three cowgirls and her husband competes in rodeos all over the country.

I'm also not much for meat and potatoes, so I wanted to shake it up a little. Here's what I settled on:

Spicy BBQ Chuck Roast in a Crock Pot

1 chuck roast (between 3-4 lbs.)
1/2 cup water

3/4 cup ketschup
1/2-3/4 cup cola
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. mustard
1/5 tbsp. liquid smoke
1/5 tbsp. Tobasco
cayenne pepper (as much or as little as you want)

Cook chuck roast in 1/2 cup water on low in crock pot for 6-8 hours. Rip meat off bone and combine meat with sauce. Cook on high for an hour. Enjoy!

Mom's No-Fail Hashbrowns

Like I said, I'm not a fan of traditional meat and potatoes. But, since we have some potatoes leftover from Christmas that I really need to use up, I figured I could prepare them with a twist. My mom's method for making hashbrowns is no-fail. She pierces them and microwaves them until they're soft. Then she refrigerates them, grates them on a cheese grater and fries them in butter. They are perfect.

Since I'm covering starches with the potatoes, I'm skipping buns for the meat. Plus, I forgot to pick them up at the store today. So much for having a list. I meant to make a salad for dinner too, but heated-up frozen veggies won that battle.

The meat was to-die-for. I can't decide if it's because I crock potted (verb?) the hell out of it, if it's legit cow from cattle country, or because I'm just that good. Let me know how it turns out for you!

Benny's FIRST haircut. He's wearing a Salt Lick onesie!

09 January 2012

Green Means Good: A Break

I'm going on a bit of a sabbatical from Green Means Good this month. Lots going on this month. I'll write about that soon. Look for winter running in February (hopefully I'll be running by then!).

08 January 2012

Bogue Fire Fund

One of my oldest friends from college was at home a week ago when her parents' house started on fire. I don't have many details, but the fire destroyed the house. I'm heartbroken for them - they had a beautiful house outside of Ames, Iowa. I'm sending good thoughts and some money their way to recover from the fire. Any funds that aren't used will be donated to the Red Cross. Please consider sending positive vibes ... and maybe a few funds ... their way:

Bill and Sue Bogue Fire Fund
Community Bank of Boone
1704 S Marshall St.
P.O. Box 188
Boone, IA 50036

Bill and Sue are great people. Sue made my wedding dress and I've spent some fun evenings with them.

04 January 2012

Broken Heart Club

I had hoped this day wouldn't come. We've known that our neighbors and good friends were moving today. But I secretly hoped they would decide to stay. Benny and Thatcher have been best friends for two years. Watching their friendship blossom as they grow up has been so fun. Luckily, they'll be moving back in two and a half years. But by then, Benny will be 7 and in the first grade! I had a heavy, heavy heart watching Benny and Thatcher hug goodbye and I shed a few tears when I hugged them all goodbye.

We hope to see you soon, Thatcher and family!

02 January 2012

Green Resolutions

Happy New Year! I'm not one for making resolutions. However, I do think I can improve on a few areas of my life, so I'm making a few green resolutions for the year. And these are pretty loosely "green." After reviewing my Green Means Good posts in 2011, I realize that I can definitely improve upon my greenness. Here goes:

1. Run more. Run at least one half-marathon in 2012.

2. Buy less. Of everything.
3. Buy more used and local stuff.

4. Purchase a bike carrier and ride more. A lot more.

5. Give more experiences and fewer gifts.

Happy, happy New Year!!!