Friday, March 30, 2012

Pets at Work Lower Stress

UVA researchers found that people who have access to pets at work have less stress than those who don't.

I believe it.  There's nothing like a smiley dog to calm the nerves.

When I worked on the Hill, there was a time when I had access to a dog (a beagle) nearly every day.  This sweet dog came to work every day and often hung out in my office.  There are several Congressional offices that you can count on to have a dog hanging around.  During recess periods when the Members are working in their districts, you'll see even more dogs in the halls.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring Fever

I've been lazy about posting lately.  Partly because I've been flat-out tired, worn out, drained, ready for a week of hibernation that isn't coming.  But also because spring came early and its so lovely outside.  I've been spending as much time outside as I can, hands in potting soil ready to bring color to the yard.

Tonight, I got a little bouquet of blooms from the dogwood tree in our front yard.

Made my day.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Missing DC

Since we've moved, I don't know that I've had a second of missing...not regret, not unhappiness, but just missing DC.  It's so good, so right to be here in STL, that there's been no need to miss DC.

Until this week.

I'm not sure why, but for some reason this past week I've been missing DC.  Missing our family and friends out there, missing trapeze, just missing...

I've  been trying to figure out why these feelings have popped up now, but I really can't put my finger on it. 

The upside is that I'll be in DC in a few weeks for a fairly long visit.  I suspect that will be enough to get this out of my system, but in the meantime,here are a few of my favorite shots from our time in DC.

This was Easter weekend, 2010, while the cherry blossoms were in bloom. One of my very favorite pictures of Connor, because his beloved blankie is featured so prominently.

 Here's Christian, pre-glasses, that same weekend at the Tidal Basin.
DP and Connor at Twilight Polo at Great Meadow.  A fabulous way to spend a Saturday night.

Playing at the Capitol.
 This one has been my computer screen saver since I took the photo in August of 2010.

Walking through the columns at the Lincoln Memorial.
DP and the boys in Old Town Alexandria
Christian at the WWII Memorial.  He'd just gotten in trouble for not listening when I took this. 
Christian climbing the ladder for trapeze... he looks so little up there, but he was fearless.  Oh, how I wish TSNY would open a school in STL!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring is in the Air

I love Saturdays and Sunday in the spring.  The days are long...I was up by five both yesterday and today.  The days also seem to be non-stop with things to do.  For the most part, we were working in the yard this weekend.

We're still fighting the ivy.  We'll be fighting the ivy until Connor goes to college.

Every time you put a shovel in the ground, you come up with a mess of ivy roots that go on for miles.

I think I spent four hours today hunched over, pulling ivy.  And this was after we'd been through it with the weed-eater.

At any rate, everything is turning green.  The leaves are starting to pop, and the fragrance in the air is amazing. I've loved heading out in the morning just to take it all in.  Lovely.

There is baby basil.
Pink azaleas in the back yard.

Hibiscus.  My favorite.  Hibiscus make me happy. I only have two now, but plan to have many of these happy plants lining the deck before too long.

DP is building raised beds for the yard.  With all the ivy, this will save us, and hopefully give the plants a fighting chance.
And these...these are the faces of tired boys at the end of a long day outside.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Shooting Hoops

St. Louis is hosting the Midwest Regional for the NCAA tourney this weekend.  Today, the teams playing in STL had practices at the Edward Jones Dome that were open to the public.

Because Christian is on spring break, I've been trying to think of things for he and Darren to do together...I'm really trying to prevent a day spent with two of them staring at the tv or a video screen.

So when I told Darren about the open practices, he said "Hey, it's not just a hat rack!"

Gee, thanks.

So he took both Christian and Connor to watch a couple of the teams practice.

If it's possible to be jealous of an almost six-year old, I am.  Christian and I have had a lot of fun doing the brackets and watching college basketball this year.  He got to go see some of it first hand, and I got to...well, do what adults do.

As an aside, Christian is sitting in third place in the pool that my mom organized.  My dad is in first, mom in second, Christian in third.

It's a conspiracy.

At any rate, the boys all had a good time, strategically sitting by the North Carolina cheerleaders.  How convenient.

But, I'm so glad they went.

When I got home I asked Christian if North Carolina (one of the teams they got to see) practiced like his team did.  "No."  Ok, how was it different?

"They just shot a lot of baskets, all at the same time."

Ah.  What was the coolest thing you saw?

"Well, Mommy, two players shot at the same time, and the balls were going to go into the basket, but they bumped and blocked each other so neither ball could score."

Here's a view of the court, with North Carolina taking their turn.
At some point the boys got silly.

And this is how they felt about Mizzou losing, and Kansas making it to the Sweet Sixteen.

What a day.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lots of Company

In the category of frivolous, but interesting to me is this piece on celebrities who have Crohns Disease. See it here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spending Pays for the NCAA's

College basketball programs spend big bucks each year--that's no secret.  But does what the spend help them receive a better bracket position in the NCAA Tournament?

Maybe.  A recent study by the Department of Ed shows that the top spending programs receive higher seeds in the NCAA Tournament.

From the Biz Journals:

Among Division 1 men’s college basketball teams, 70 percent of the top 10 spenders for the 2010-11 season were seeded among the 16 best in the NCAA tournament field this season. Exactly half of the No. 1 seeds, No. 2 seeds and No. 3 seeds came from that group.

Mizzou came in 21st of the teams to make it to the dance this year, spending $5.4 million in the 2010-2011 year.  SLU was 44th with $3 million in expenses.

See here for a full list of the teams in the tournament and their expenses.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Reading Rainbow is Coming Back....As An App

I loved Reading Rainbow as a kid. For 26 years, Reading Rainbow captured the magic of reading. The thrill of escaping into a book.  

I think I need a day to do nothing but hide in a book now...
Anyhoo, I was thrilled to read today that Reading Rainbow will be coming back, as an iPad app. Staying true to the original series, Lavar Burton will be curating the 26 titles planned for the app.

I've tried to keep the number of kids app on my iPad to a minimum, but this one will likely make the cut.

Remember the theme song?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Kaldi's is One of the Best

Here in STL, we know this, but it's fun to see a national publication recognize it.  Kaldi's Coffee has been named one of the top 30 coffee houses in the US by Food and Wine Magazine.

An escape to the DeMun coffee shop sounds like a good idea.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Starting Them Young

Christian has become a fan of college basketball this year.  It's been fun to have him say "Can I watch college basketball? Who's playing?"  Then he'll sit, paying rapt attention to the game, giving us frequent updates on the score.

Such fun!

Tonight, he filled out his first NCAA bracket.
He tried to help his brother, but Connor got distracted by Beyblades.
About halfway through, he got tired of writing, so he made his picks and had me fill them in (yes, I do have handwriting like a five-year old).
He picked Mizzou and Temple to go to the championship game, with Mizzou winning it all.


That's my boy!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Need Help with Grant-speak?

Do you have a case of writers block? Are you trying to write a funding proposal? Look no further, the Philanthropy Jargon Generator is here to help. Just click enter and the generator will whip up a catchy phrase for you.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

An Attempt at a Photo

After a busy but good few days, we said goodbye to Gram and Papaw. 

Before they left, we attempted to get a photo of the boys with their grandparents.

Connor wasn't in the mood.

Hold on to him.
Christian is willing to smile.
Realizing this may take a while, Christian turns to a book.
Not yet.
We give up.  Connor wins.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Taking Gram to Soulard Market

DP's parents are visiting this weekend.  The boys and I took Gram over to Soulard to pick up some fruits and veggies while DP and his dad headed to the sports store. 

Come on guys, lets go!!
We stopped for a pretzel.
Got to get grapes (Christian's demand)
There were peppers.

Hey, there are bunnies!
Uhoh..Gram's in the Spice Shop.

Soulard is such fun.  We came home with a haul: grapes, apples, pineapple, potatoes, garlic, asparagus, watermelon, strawberries, and tulips.

With the boys, this might last about 3.6 seconds.

I think Gram had fun:)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Pondering Pink Slime

I stopped at the grocery store tonight.  As I was in the meat department passing by the ground beef, I paused. 

After reading the stories that have been making the rounds about "Pink Slime" I'm going to be thinking twice about the kind of ground beef I buy for my family.

What is this pink slime?

The “pink slime” is made by gathering waste trimmings, simmering them at low heat so the fat separates easily from the muscle, and spinning the trimmings using a centrifuge to complete the separation. Next, the mixture is sent through pipes where it is sprayed with ammonia gas to kill bacteria. The process is completed by packaging the meat into bricks. Then, it is frozen and shipped to grocery stores and meat packers, where it is added to most ground beef.


I don't want to bring this stuff  home to my family.  Safe or not, it's not natural.  I'm trying to move towards more real food...natural food...healthy food for our family.  I'm not super stringent about it (I have a huge sweet tooth), but I want to have the majority of food options for the boys be healthy options.  It starts with understanding what is in the food you buy, and how that food impacts your health.

I don't see pink slime making the cut.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Grandparents Day

This week is National Lutheran Schools Week. All week kids in Lutheran schools have had a variety of special events to celebrate.

At our boys school, they've had a pancake breakfast, done some community service projects, written letters to local leaders, and much more.

Today was Grandparents Day. My guess is that this is the highlight of the week. Hundreds of grandparents came to the school today to visit their grandkids in the classrooms and to attend chapel with them.

Oma and Opa were able to be there today with Christian. Having mom and dad close by to be able to spend time with the boys and come to special events like Grandparents Day is one of the very best things about calling STL home.

A great time was had by all. It was especially fun to see Oma and Opa do centers with Christian. Here, they'd been planting seeds for flowers.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

So You Want to Go to Drinking School

Thanks to Jack Daniels and the Zac Brown Band, now you can.  

But...this is an effort by the pair to promote responsible consumption--not overindulgence.  The band encourages folks to not only have fun, but to be sure they are safe and are taking care of friends. 

An important message for sure.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

And Now Comes...Live Pinning

I've said it before, and it's still true.  Pinterest is great.  It's a wonderfully addictive, often helpful, time-suck.  I love it.

Now that most companies, marketers, and other people selling stuff have realized the power of Pinterest, they're all working to get involved to boost their bottom line.  Enter the first Live-Pinner.  This particular woman is one of the leading pinners on Pinterest in terms of her large number of followers.  She'll be going to a fashion shoot and live-pinning things she sees that the company is trying to promote.

While I know this is a huge business, this bugs me.  I don't want to be completely bombarded with advertising all the time.  When I know someone is trying to sell me, I tune out. 

This feeling isn't new for me.  I've never liked pushy sales people.  I really don't pay attention to web-ads or other pop-up ads.  If something screams ADVERTISEMENT, I ignore it.  I don't like the thought of being manipulated into buying something.  The more I learn about sales/marketing/research/etc the more I'm tuning out lots of things.

The nice thing about Pinterest, and other social media, is that I have control over what and who I follow, and ultimately, what I choose to click on.  The same holds for Facebook, Twitter, television ads, etc.  No one is forcing me to pay attention to ads, no matter how subtly the ads are placed. 

I don't have to follow companies or causes if I'm not truly interested in them. I've found that I'm becoming much more selective in what I follow, not only because I don't like to be "sold" but because too much of anything, too many options, tends to overwhelm me (ask my husband, a man who loves options). I would much rather stick with following people who interest me and whose taste I admire.  That's where I find the enjoyment in social media.

Dogs of Valor

The Humane Society has released the finalists for the Fifth Annual Dogs of Valor Award. You can go to the Humane society website to read about the ten brave dogs nominated this year. Then, you can vote for the dog you feel is the most deserving of the People's Hero Award. Dogs are the best. Last year, the winner was a Golden Retriever named Yogi.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Saturday Afternoon Naps

It's quiet here (at the moment).  It's naptime for the boys...looking around, this is what I see.

Connor's sound asleep in the chair.

Christian's supposed to be sleeping, but as a five-year old about to be six, he's taken on rebelling against naptime.

DP is out like a light.

And Ferdie.  Ferdie's spending the night with us.
Ferdie's wondering when he gets to go home.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Happy Texas Independence Day

Having married a Texan, today is something of a national holiday.  It's Texas Independence Day.  176 years ago today, Texans declared their independence from Mexico at Washington on the Brazos.

And now, I need to check in with DP for our daily Texas history lesson....