Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Congressional "Casualties"

This is the time of year that Members of Congress start dropping like flies--or at least that's how it starts to feel.

Roll Call does a good job keeping up the "Casualty List" of Members who will not be seeking re-election to their current position.  So it includes retirements, those seeking other office, resignations, appointments, and in some terms, deaths.

Here's the current list.  By my count, 39 Members won't be returning to their seats following the end of this term.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ralley Squirrel Gets a Rookie Card

STL's very own Rally Squirrel will be getting a card in the Topps 2012 series 1 of baseball cards.  How fun is this?

Ok, well it's not technically Rally Squirrel's card, but Skip Schumaker's card.  Much like he did during the regular season, Rally Squirrel takes over and steals the limelight from the Cards.

For a peek at the card, see here

But, if you want to get the Rally Squirrel/Schumaker card, act fast.  This card will only be out for a short time.

We'll I'll probably try to track down a couple of these cards.  The boys like baseball cards, but they haven't yet figured out the concept of keeping them/trading them/not throwing them all over the place and destroying them yet.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday Hoops

We started our Saturday with a basketball game.  Today's game was fast paced, and aggressive.  There was good defense played, lots of turnovers, and a lot of time spent on the floor wrestling for the ball. Our boys did great great today, though the final score had us down by four.

Each quarter starts with the players putting on colored wristbands so they can match up with the person on the other team that is "their man."  It's definitely helping them understand the concept of man to man defense.

DP helped out on the bench today.
There were a few skinned knees today.

Here they come!
 And as fast as they came, there they go!

Final score: 16-20
Two more games to go in the season. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

State of St. Louis

I had the opportunity to attend the 2012 State of St. Louis breakfast this morning at the Renaissance Grand Hotel downtown.  The breakfast was sponsored by the St. Louis Business Journal.

On the panel this morning were Mayor Slay, St.  Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann, and St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern. 

Newly back to town, I found this to be a nice overview of what's going on in the region.  All four officials were optimistic about where things are headed, but clearly stated that there are a lot of hard decisions to be made.

A few themes ran through the morning: The need for excellent education; the need to retain and attract more young people and top-notch talent; the need for significant transportation infrastructure improvements; and the need for a cohesive regional voice and communications strategy to support a regional voice.  It is the ability to communicate as a region that will be important to all the priorities achieving the success the officials believe is possible.

Here's Mayor Slay giving opening remarks to the crowd.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Growing Speed of Vanity Sizing

I had a few minutes to spare a few days ago, so I ducked into an Ann Taylor Loft store.  I've long liked both Loft and it's grown-up sibling, Ann Taylor.  As I was looking around, I saw that they were having a really good sale on their pants.  Since the price was right, I grabbed a few pairs in what I've come to know as "my size" and headed for the dressing room.

Jeesh.  They were too big.

Usually this is a happy problem to have.  But I knew better.  I've not gotten smaller, their sizes are becoming more generous.  Ugh.  And just when I'd gotten used to being able to grab the right size.

Vanity sizing is out of hand.  And, more stores like Loft seem to think that the average woman is 7 feet tall. I don't think I can buy any pants from several stores anymore that don't require hemming to reach a good length.

The federal government tried to standardize women's sizes in the 1940's, but it never took hold.  Vanity sizing is alive and well.  It doesn't really make me feel better about myself to have to buy a smaller size when I know that a company is trying to manipulate me into brand loyalty because I fit a certain size in their brand.  I just wish they would pick a formula and stick with it so I'd know what to expect when I walked into the store.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


It's hard to go to Chicago and not stop at these two places:

Must. Get. Exercise. Tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Northern Lights

Have you heard about the solar Flare? This is the biggest solar flare in seven years. Its causing a display often Northern Lughts that will be visible in some Northern areas if the country tonight. I'm up in Chicago and the weather forecasters are saying that we might be able to see it here. I'm growing weary of the State of the Union. Maybe I'll take a peek outside.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Top Five Food Trends

The 37th Winter Fancy Food Trends Show was last week.  This show has more than 1300 exhibitors featuring the best foods and drinks around.  This sounds like it would be great fun to attend.  Over the weekend I found myself in Straubs' Webster Groves store. I'd made the critical error of going in without a plan, so I spent a ridiculously long time meandering through the aisles, trying to decide what to make for dinner, and wanting to try everything.

I'm guessing the Fancy Food show would be something like that, only on a much, much larger scale.

Five food trends were identified at this year's show.  They are:

Pickling 2.0

Seeds and Grains

Gluten Grows Up

Coconut Cracks Open

Ancient Grains

The trends strike me as emphasizing natural foods, a return to eating real food, not the overly processed items.  That can't be all bad. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

And the Crowd Goes Wild

The basketball fun continued today.  The Kindergarten Chargers played their best game of the season against a taller Kirkwood team.  This team knew how to play man-to-man defense.  Initially it rattled our kids a bit, but they settled into it and did great. 

 This was the opponents style of defense...double and triple team who ever has the ball.  Because they were so tall, this was pretty effective.  After a while, I was kind of hoping our kids would figure out how to throw an elbow to clear out the defense.  But, that didn't happen.
 We had a different ref today, but he still took the time to stop play to explain certain rules to the boys.
The game ended in a tie.  The end of the game was a nail-biter, edge of your seat fun time.  With 13 seconds to go, the Chargers threw the ball in at the opposite end of the court.  One of Christian's teammates, Donald, had the composure to drive the ball down the court and shoot with just a second or two left.  As the buzzer went off, the ball hit the rim, bounced, then rolled....off the basket. 

The parents on both sides erupted.  It was an exciting, fun game to watch. 

Final score, 6-6.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Preacher Classic

This weekend is the Preacher Classic Basketball Tourney over at the Sem.  We thought it would be fun to take the boys over to watch the game.  Because they got to a) stay up past their bedtime; b) watch basketball; and c) play with friends, the boys were thrilled.

The Concordia St. Louis Preachers were playing the Concordia Fort Wayne Kings Men.  It's fun to watch these guys play, especially when the Preachers were storming their basket.
  At halftime, there was music and tug-o-war. 
 Christian loves to watch basketball.  Lately, on the weekends, he's been settling in to watch college basketball with me, or just on his own.  He's great about keeping everyone apprised of the score.  If he doesn't head to the Sem, he might have a career in sportscasting ahead of him.

He was focused:
Still watching.
He got some company.
And my favorite.
We left with about 10 minutes to go in the game because everyone (except Connor) was getting tired.  Preachers were winning easily 76-41.

Proposed MO State Exercise

I learned today that there is a bill pending in the Missouri State Legislature that would designate jumping jacks as the official State exercise.

HB 842

The summary of the bill, which was introduced by State Rep. Pat Conway (27) states:

This bill designates the exercise commonly known as "jumping jacks," which was invented by Missouri-born General John J. Pershing as a drill exercise for cadets, as the official state exercise.

Ok, now how about encouraging schools to get the kids out for more PE and recess time?  Adults too, for that matter.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's Funny Because it's True

I have to admit that I laughed out loud when I watched this.  Anyone who has lived or worked in DC for any period of time is likely guilty of saying one or more of the comments in this video.

Where are you from...originally?  


(warning: the language near the end isn't terribly nice)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Campaign Season...Dull, Nasty, Boring

The Pew Research Center released a poll today that shows (surprise, surprise) that 50% of people surveyed feel the 2012 Presidential campaign is too negative and...dull.

Is this really news?

But, it does show that the feelings of campaign fatigue (my word) are higher this year than in 2008.

Perhaps having a GOP debate every six seconds is contributing to this feeling of negativity and fatigue?

One consistency from the last Presidential campaign: the majority of folks feel that the campaign is too long.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

LL Bean is Turning 100

This year marks the 100th birthday celebration for that classic outdoors company, LL Bean.  Happy Birthday to you! 

Growing up, we made several family trips to Maine for our summer vacation.  We stayed in places like Popham Beach, Pemaquid, and one other place on a lake with lots of loons and a dog named cinnamon that I can't recall the name of right now.  The house in Popham Beach had a goose in the yard named Gus...he was one mean bird.

Each trip, we would make a stop at LL Bean in Freeport.  This store is such fun to visit, and memories were certainly made there.  Katie found Marty Moose at LL Bean, and I think she still has Marty living with her.  He's been a part of the family for a long time.

My main memory of the store (other than playing in the tents) and finding a pair of duck boots, which come to think of it, I need to get a new pair to be prepared for the wet winter, happened when I was in grade school. 

Standing in line for the restroom, I started to get woozy.  Then I fainted.  Growing up, I had periodic fainting spells, and this one took me down in the bathroom.  I came to as my dad was rushing into the women's room to get me.  Then, as we were leaving the store, my sister and I began to have one of our usual fights over territory in the back of the car, which because I had just fainted, I won.  Victory!

Congress Slows Pace of Production

Admittedly, since leaving DC after living and working there for a dozen years, I've been really slow to re-engage in any interest in politics/government.  The interest is still there, but the burn out and frustration were so pronounced that I've had almost no interest in paying attention to what's been happening.  DC breeds cynicism, and I haven't yet lost that.

This stat didn't help: Since they started keeping track 65 years ago, 2011 was the least productive session of Congress.  Only 80 bills were passed, most of those being the fun time-fillers of naming post offices and the like.

From the Wash Times story:

Of the bills the 112th Congress did pass, the majority were housekeeping measures, such as naming post office buildings or extending existing laws. Sometimes, it was too difficult for the two chambers to hammer out agreements. More often, the Senate failed to reach agreement within the chamber.
That left much of the machinery of the federal government on autopilot, with the exception of spending, where monumental clashes dominated the legislative session.

Honestly, given the every-second need for new news, and the need for politicians and pollsters to be constantly testing their talking points, I don't see how the current state of government changes moving forward.  If anything, it's going to get worse.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Boys at Work

Last night was CCLS Night at the Magic House, so we took the boys.  This is really the way to visit the Magic House--it was only CCLS families and much less crowded than a normal visit there.

One of the boys favorite spots was the construction zone.  They donned their hard hats and went to work.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saturday Snapshots

It was a pretty nice little Saturday.

There was this:
 And DP did some of this:
 Christian did some of this:

There was snuggling with:
Oh, I can't get enough of his post-nap cheeks.

The most fun of all was this:
And finally, there was this:

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cupcakes are a Threat...To TSA

It seems that TSA views the icing on a cupcake as being a "gel" for purposes of the probihited items list.

TSA said earlier this week that its workers confiscated Rebecca Harris's cupcake at Las Vegas's McCarran International Airport because it was in a jar, which gave the screeners pause because of a 2006 plot involving liquid bombs. TSA rules prohibit passengers from carrying liquids in containers larger than 3 ounces onto airplanes, and the agency said the icing from Harris's cupcake exceeded the limit.


But they will let you bring a cake (fully iced, I presume) in your carry-on luggage.

Don't pack your cupcakes in jars if you're headed to the airport.

Oh, and if you want to see or taste the cupcake in question, you can check out Wicked Good Cupcakes in Massachusetts and try the newly re-named, "National (Security) Velvet."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Classic Video Games--At Your Fingertips!

Remember the Oregon Trail? Or Dungeons and Dragons? Or Where in the World is Carmen Sandeigo?

You can play these games and quite a few others online now.

I remember playing Oregon Trail over and over and over again during computer in grade school.  We'd head to the new-newfangled computer room, and sit down at the Apple computers, and play this game.  Such fun. 

Snow in STL

We woke up to snow this morning...yippee.  No pictures yet, but maybe later.  The ConMan started asking early when he could go slide down the hill on his tummy.  Maybe after school.  Yep, school is on. 

 I'm all for snow, but only if I can hunker down and stay at home.  Having to head out and deal with messy roads, freaked out drivers, and the cold just doesn't appeal to me.  As I was listening to KMOX, one of the morning hosts said "There's going to be a lot of grumpy people at work today." Probably true.

This is a big difference between DC and STL.  Had this snow hit in DC, the government, local schools, etc, would have started calling snow days and late starts last night, long before the first snowflakes began to fall.  Here in STL, the boys school is open, and people are moving about trying to get to work.  It's definitely a mess--there were two stalled cars just outside of my neighborhood this morning mucking up traffic--but life is going on.

Note to self...must get the pilot light on the fireplace lit.  It's looking like a good night to get a fire going.  Finally.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Unanimously, Supreme Court Protects Ministerial Exemption

The Supreme Court ruled today in the case of Hosanna-Tabor Church v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Remember this case?  This was the case of a commissioned Lutheran grade school teacher who sued the school for employment discrimination after she was not rehired after disability leave.  In sum, the Court ruled unanimously in favor of the church, saying that the ministerial exemption prohibits these types of cases. 

Good news.

Read the full opinion here.

You can read news articles about it here, here, and here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Birthday Dinner

We had a relaxed birthday dinner with my folks tonight.  Mom, who just joined the wonderful world of Pinterest, made the boys little spiders out of hot dogs and spaghetti noodles. Boy were those a hit with the boys.  She also made a variety of pizzas.  DP, who has high pizza standards, remarked several times, "that was good pizza" (heavy emphasis on good).

There were balloons...
 And snuggles with Opa
 Cake from Krutas!
 There was a stand-off between the Little Booga and the Big Booga over just who got to blow out the candles.  Candles were lit, and re-lit as a result.
 Look at the glow of the flames.
 Singing...(someone is singing "Happy birthday to ME!")
 Deep breath...and out they go.
Happy birthday Dad!

Happy Birthday to My Dad

Happy birthday to my Dad.  I couldn't even begin to express here how much he means to me, and to our family.  Typically when I describe him, I start with the wonderful (and unique) sense of humor that our family has...the Meyer Humor.  You either get it or you don't.  We like it that way.

But, Dad--both my parents really--has set such a beautiful example of love for us.  Dad embodies, and demonstrates, love and mercy and grace time and time again.  Especially when I haven't deserved it.  For that I'm grateful.  I hope that I can model that same attitude of love and mercy for my boys...especially when its hard to do.

So, happy birthday dear Dad.  We love you.

PS: The boys have a birthday song for you.  You won't be surprised to see the ConMan doing what he does best:)

Monday, January 9, 2012

IBD is Becoming a Worldwide Disease

Gastroenterology, the journal of the American Gastrointestinal Association, released a study recently that shows how cases of IBD are emerging and spreading.  Interestingly, IBD (this typically comprises both Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis) are gaining in prevalence in Western societies and is rapidly becoming a global disease.  As regions, North America and Europe led the way with the highest prevalence of IBD.  The country taking the top slot for prevalence of IBD? Canada.  This surprised me a bit, but I'm not sure why.

Here's a chart that was included with the research that shows the growth in incidence and prevalence of Crohn's Disease:

Over the decades, the prevalence of Crohn's has grown from such a small amount in North America to being very prevalent.  I was diagnosed with Crohn's a little over 13 years ago.  (Useless trivia, my diagnosis came the same day Darryl Strawberry was diagnosed with colon cancer).  At the time, I'd never heard of it.  Over the years, I experienced it becoming more common.  It's not unusual when I tell someone that I have Crohn's to have them say, "Did you know that so and so also has it?" While I most certainly don't wish this disease on anyone, I do appreciate having people around to commiserate with about its ups and downs.

I've always been told that there is no known cause or cure for Crohn's. This research and the maps fascinate me--with IBD growing rapidly in westernized nations, I have to wonder how diet and other factors are contributing...and what steps I should be taking to help minimize my symptoms. I've long intended to visit a nutritionist to see if changing my diet would help my symptoms.  Good intentions, but I've never followed through.  Bad patient!!  I've read enough literature about diet and Crohn's to know that chances are good that a nutritionist would recommend I give up a lot of the foods I really like...the guilty pleasure foods, the stress relieving foods (I've got chocolate chip cookies in the oven as I write this).  I'm not sure I have the will power to do this.  But, I also know that it could very well help me find a better, more energetic quality of life.  So, I need to quit making excuses and investigate this, and soon.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Target Therapy

Target is a dangerous place.  Don't get me wrong, I love it, but as most everyone has experienced, you walk in for toilet paper and walk out with a cart full of snacks, socks, candles, bowls, pop, cleaning stuff, dvds, etc, etc.  It's addictive.  They know how to tap into the market for impulse purchase better than anyone.  I've found this especially true when I'm feeling blah.

Where the impulse shopping is most fun at Target is at the Dollar Stop.  Loads of fun things, all for a dollar each.  When I'm focused, I usually walk right by this section of bins full of goodies, but it takes some willpower not to just take a peek at what's there.  At our Target in NoVa, it was easy to avoid this spot because it was positioned near the entrance that I never used.  So if I didn't walk by, no buying!

On Saturday I ran into target for a couple of things, but because running errands there when I'm sans little helpers is kind of an escape for me, I meandered.  And, I stopped at the Dollar Stop.

This are a few things I found.

First up, little Batman tin cups.  So fun.  You could use this for kids parties, to hold pencils or chalk, or treats.  The possibilities are endless.  I left these on the shelf, but came home with Batman and Super Squad coloring books for the boys.  Super Heroes are big in our house these days.
I did grab a couple pairs of the Batman socks for the boys.  They love these.  Each time I've looked through the Dollar Stop, they've had different character socks.  Fun for little feet.
And what kid doesn't love glow-in-the-dark bracelets and necklaces?
They have added some things that are a little more than a buck...$2.50 to be exact.  Like these cute heart bowls. 
Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and there were lots of things that were red and pink and covered in hearts.  Before Christmas they had round bowls like this, in red and green.  I grabbed a couple and they've made the perfect popcorn bowls for the boys.  We use them all the time, so they were well worth the 2.50.

And, there were these adorable milk bottle vases.  Won't these be cute with little roses or daisies or other flowers in them?
And while it wasn't in the dollar section, I did find some colorful cheer in the nail polish section.

Such fun, the Dollar Stop.  I must try to find a different entrance into the store....

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Saturday Hoops

We started out the morning today with a Chargers basketball game.  Thankfully this game was at the reasonable time of 11 am, unlike Christian's indoor soccer game which was at 7 pm tonight.  Ugh.  Christian is usually ready to be asleep by 7:45 so tonight should be interesting.

The Chargers played a strong team today.  They lost soundly, but did a good job of sticking to their man.  Each player gets a colored arm band-then they match up with the player on the other team with the same color so that they know who the player is that they're supposed to guard.

The kindergarten girls had a game just prior to the boys, so naturally Christian had to chat with his friends.

Looking for his teammate as he gets ready to throw in the ball.
A bit of a skirmish, but Christian came out of it with the ball.
Another mad dash to get the basketball.  That's my boy floating in the air.
He tried hard to get it, but came up short.  At least the Chargers held on to the ball.
Some discussion with the ref.
We've had this ref for every game so far this season.  He's been really good about helping teach the kids as the game goes along.  Here, he stopped play after the above skirmish to help the boys understand that if they fall down, but have the ball, they still have to dribble it--they can't just stand up and pick the ball up and start running.  He even had the player with the ball practice a few times so that everyone could see this rule in action.
And away we go.