Monday, March 31, 2008

What's That Smell?

There was a smell in the kitchen. It was really bugging me. I checked the garbage. I checked the fridge. I checked the pantry. I was worried I had lost my mind and left a dirty diaper somewhere. I knew it wasn't a pet mess, because we don't even have a dog anymore. I was starting to think it was all in my head, when Elisabeth came down the stairs holding her nose, "What smells?"

Another brilliant epiphany from the mind of Mommy: I was cooking cauliflower. And, after that production, you can just imagine how much of it got eaten.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Love and Marriage, Lesson One

We were driving down the road when I said to Amanda, "Look at that cool car! When I was a girl, I had a boyfriend who drove a car just like that-- same color and everything." No response from the back seat, until we arrived at our destination. Then, out of the blue, right there in the parking lot, came the question: "Why did you break up with that EX-boyfriend, anyway? Why didn't you marry HIM?!"

Deep breath from the Mommy seat. "Well, honey, when girls are growing up and becoming women, they sometimes date a number of different boys. As they choose boyfriends, they learn more about what they like and what they want in a companion. So, sometimes they have to get to know a lot of people before they decide on someone to share the rest of their lives." I was preparing to go on about Daddy, and how it was a good thing I waited to meet and marry Daddy, otherwise she and her brother and sister wouldn't be here...

But Amanda stopped me. "I know, I know. That's why my B-F-F is a girl." I replied, "Yes, honey. But girls don't marry other girls." (I know that's not the P.C. answer... But, at this stage, I make no apologies for keeping things in the black and white for my kids. They'll learn about shades of gray soon enough.) Amanda went on to gush about one of her favorite classmates, "Yeah, tell me about it. Thomas... Now that's a boyfriend!" (The photo shows Amanda talking to Thomas at her birthday party earlier this month.)

Whose Side Are You On?

I took Amanda to Urgent Care. She had been complaining it hurt to go potty, and, with the history of urinary tract issues in this family, we don't mess around. Her initial tests were negative, but it will take a couple days to get back the second-round results. In the meantime, the doctor suggested some over-the-counter treatments, so we went to Target to get them.

It's funny how kids pick up on things and spit them back at the most appropriate times. So often, we adults nag each other or even just joke and tease, and our kids latch onto those issues and lock them in their cerebral vaults. For example, sometimes after supper, when I am clearing the table or washing dishes, one of the girls will say, "Dad, why don't you clean up the kitchen and just let Mom sit down and rest?" His eyes roll behind their backs, but, I swear, I don't coach them! This afternoon, walking into Target, my brilliant firstborn turns to me and scolds, "Now, we're just going to the pharmacy and the juice aisle, OK? We don't need to walk around this store and fill our cart with stuff we don't need!"

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Salute to Girlfriends

You know, I get those chain emails all the time about the importance of girlfriends... how we need to stick together, how great it is to have other women in our lives, blah, blah, blah... While I believe that is all true and good, it's not something I spend a lot of time thinking about or talking about.

However, today, I hosted a play date with two other mothers from Libby's preschool and their children. With mine, that made seven children in all. It's been a cold, yucky week; it was an excuse to clean up the joint; and, I just welcomed the change of pace. These are not women I know well, mostly just the "hi" and "bye" of pick-up and drop-off... But Elisabeth likes their kids, and we know what a judge of character she is!

Anyway, the kids had a great time playing together, and, after a couple hours, we made cold sandwiches and such for lunch. Then, we talked some more, and eventually, it was nap time for the little ones, so everyone packed up to go home. Yet, sometime between the arrival and the departure, these women made themselves at home. They found the sugar and the milk for their coffee. They brought salads and desserts to go with lunch. They loaded the dishwasher and swept the floor. They picked up toys. I swear, the house looks better than before they came!

Now, for the record, all my friends are this helpful and generally wonderful. The only difference is I've known them for years and I kind of expect them to make themselves at home. But, these new women-- I can always take more friends like that! Can I get a "Thank you, Jesus?"

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Secret Agent Girls

Elisabeth got walkie-talkies-- pink Barbie walkie-talkies, naturally-- for Christmas. So, when Spring Break started feeling not so fun, I broke out the walkies for something new to do. This evening, Todd is teaching them about spying. He sits in one room and waits for their reports on what is going on in the rest of the house. They've even invented incredibly creative code names for themselves: Agent One, Agent Two and Agent Baby. I'm just glad the girls don't have their own blogs to report their exciting findings, such as, "Mommy is still folding laundry."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Third Child Syndrome? Who Cares

Benjamin's physical therapist comes tomorrow, which means I spent today thinking, "OK, what did she tell us last time? What has changed? What should we be working on?" I remember she asked us two weeks ago, "Does Ben enjoy finger plays?" Of course, I didn't know, because I hadn't tried. So, this evening, while Ben was in the bathtub, I sang and did the motions for "Itsy, Bitsy Spider" about six times. And, what do you know? He liked it! By the third or fourth time, he was putting his little fingers together to make the spider and demanding, "Again!" Now, our first child could recite every finger play in the parenting manual, with motions and great expression, long before she was 20 months old. And, our second child was equally well trained, mostly because we were still singing along with the firstborn.

Everyone jokes about that third child getting left in the dust, but none of us likes to admit there's truth in it. Yes, Amanda's collection of baby photos is unrivaled. Yes, Amanda's baby book contains a detailed dental chart, with dates, locations, and comments about her temperament for each eruption, whereas Ben's book just lists the year with a question mark-- and that's only for the first tooth.

Naturally, we know it's not that we love the third child less than the first. It's not that we're just too tired. It's certainly not that the novelty has worn off. And, I can't even say it's that I forget. Although, I do forget more and more these days. I once read one of those "thoughts for mothers" gift books that said, "It's as though when my babies were born, God scooped out all the brain cells from my head and bestowed them upon my brilliant children." I can identify.

But, no, for me it's more that my attitude and my approach has evolved over time, and has definitely changed with the addition of our third child. Out of necessity, I have realized I cannot do it all, perfectly, every day. Out of desire, I have chosen to simply enjoy my children, and to let the other stuff fall by the wayside. Instead of making detailed notes about Benjamin's new teeth, I spend wee hours rocking him and rubbing his gums while those teeth come in. Instead of recording every step Ben takes through the lens of a camera, I use both arms to reach out to him as he walks to me. If he asks, I hope I will be able to explain that to him someday. Even more, I hope he won't have to ask.

I know I am not the best mom in the world. There are plenty of moms who are smarter, more aware, more ambitious, more creative, more talented, prettier, thinner, and probably a lot more fun. But no mom can love my children better than I can. And the most important thing is my kids know that.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lame and Lamer

In our house, the room with the computer is adjacent to the play room, which is over the garage, and, therefore, has two stairs leading into and out of it. Last evening, after posting, while leaving that room, I missed a stair tread and fell. As I put out my arms to catch myself, pain shot through my neck and down my left side. I had, for about two weeks, been nursing a crick in my neck, and this move sent me over the edge. I spent most of the night trying not to curse as I slowly shifted from one painful position to another.

Early this morning, Todd decided his back didn't feel too bad, so he got out of bed to do some stretching exercises on the floor before getting ready for work. A few minutes in, and the swearing started on his side of the room. One stretch too many and he was really laid up now.

One grandma came and took two kids, another grandma came and took a third. Todd and I shuffled around the house in odd positions all morning, and spent all afternoon at the clinic. We both started with the orthopedic specialist and then moved on to the chiropractor. A mixed vote on that one-- Todd loved the chiropractor, felt much better after all the massaging, adored the electrical impulses from the TENS therapy so much he inquired about getting a machine for home use, and actually walked upright for a few minutes until his back muscles started to stiffen again. I am not yet a believer. She pushed and pulled and cracked and rubbed me, and I still feel the same-- yucky. We'll see what the night and the morning bring.

So, now we are both on ice and pain killers and muscle relaxers. We have new stretching routines-- to begin slowly-- and more appointments with the chiropractor. Todd will also start physical therapy at the end of the week. I'm too tired and sore to crack any really amusing jokes, but I leave you with the vision of Todd and me hobbling into the clinic, bent over and clutching each other. "For better, for worse..."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Jesus is Risen, Todd is Fallen

Normally on Easter morning, our family would awake to Daddy marching from room to room, belting out "Jesus Christ is Risen Today" at the top of his lungs. (He claims that's the way it was when he was a kid... I just can't picture it.) Anyway, just in time for Easter, Daddy's back went out on Saturday. So, he was in no position to march or sing.

But, it didn't really matter. I was up before the kids, anyway... laying in bed, listening for them... hearing one wake and then whisper to the other... remembering what day it was... their whispers getting louder and more excited, but staying confined to their room because they know about the 7:00 rule... then, barefoot feet running down the hall... and a quick sweep of the house to get the lay of the land... arguments over whether one should start collecting eggs... more arguments over whether they should wake Mom and Dad... labored breathing as they try to be quiet and listen for any sound from Mom and Dad's room...

We did the whole bunny loot hunt, followed by a quick breakfast, and then it was time for fancy clothes, hair fixing, and (UGH!) winter coats as we headed out to church. The rest of the day was at Grandma and Grandpa P's. There, we ate like royalty, the kids made another great haul, the grown-up kids behaved fairly civilly for our annual dice-game-type egg hunt, and Todd mostly laid on the floor and tried not to moan.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

At supper, Amanda asked, "What if the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus were all the same person?" Hmmm... But, she did seem satisfied with my answer: "Yeah, that would be weird, but impossible, because Santa Claus is a man, the Tooth Fairy is a woman, and the Easter Bunny is, well, a rabbit."

Of course, nothing surprises me with that kid. The line of questioning immediately followed this exchange:
Amanda: "Mom, where do you keep the cheese strips?" (That's Amanda code for string cheese.)
Mom: "In the fridge."
Amanda: "Where in the fridge?"
Mom: "In the deli drawer, with the other cheeses and meats."
Amanda: "Oh, 'cause I was looking for some for a snack, and I looked everywhere. I looked in that cubby where you keep the butter and the yogurt tubes. I thought for sure the cheese strips would be in there because it makes sense to store all the dairy products together."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Color Change

Todd is ready to choke me... With all the projects left to do around this house, I decide to make painting a priority. A year-and-a-half in, with three kids, and the walls already look pretty beat up. Plus, the painter we hired really didn't do a good job to start with. So, I talked Dad into spending most of his Spring Break at our house. We've been wrestling with new paint vs. old paint-- even thought I bought the exact same color, the exact same finish, the exact same brand, the paint doesn't match up. What began as a few small touch-ups earlier in the week has now become an all-out painting project.

Today, Dad stepped away from the "Navajo White" of the main traffic areas to tackle the master bedroom. When we were building the house and selecting paint colors, I chose "Something Blue" for our room. It was a pale aqua, a cool color, something I thought would be spa-like. And it was a nice color, but weird, especially for us, Mr. and Mrs. Earth Tone. The main problem I had was that I couldn't find anything to go with it-- bedding, pillows, pictures for the walls-- nothing matched. So, I finally changed gears and bought some bedding that I really liked, and that Todd liked, too, but it definitely did not match the walls. Now, we're on to "Golden Fleece," which will hopefully not turn out as hideously as that glaring gold I once chose for the dining room in our last house.

Oh, and Grandpa is letting Libby paint.

Hosanna to the Wooden King

I went to see Amanda's "Journey Through Holy Week" play with the K-2 classes at her school this morning. Amanda and her classmates wore long white t-shirts or bathrobes, and waved paper palms while yelling, "Hosanna!" to a plywood Jesus on a plywood donkey. I'm sorry I don't have any photos, but I spent the entire show (all 15 minutes) with my hand over Benjamin's mouth, because, if I took it away, he would shout, "Buh-bye!" or "All done!" and then laugh like a hyena.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Reading Into Things

Amanda brought home this book from her library visit and couldn't wait to show it to us. "This book won two awards (as evidenced by the shiny stickers on the front cover.) It's a really good one." However, when she sat down to "read" the book, she noticed something amiss: "This book doesn't have any words. That's dumb. How can you be a book with no words?" It is truly a picture book, with detailed illustrations of a boy finding treasures from the sea that float on the water and wash up on shore. No obstacle for Elisabeth, though. She asked to see the book and began "reading" it on her own. When she was done, she closed the book and handed it back to Amanda. "You really should read that book, Amanda. It's a true story."

Have a Hug

Benjamin is after something. I don't know exactly what it is yet... But he has started this absolutely adorable thing where he asks to get picked up, and then, he hugs me tightly, puts his head on my shoulder, even pats my back with his little hand. And he doesn't let go. We're spending a lot of time hugging these days. Whatever he wants-- he'll get it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Happy, Happy

The warmest birthday wishes go out today to my friends Maren and Anita! I won't say how old they are... but they're both older than me! Ooh, they're going to love this photo, too. However, that's them, watching their children, as they always do. Love to you both.

Simple Pleasure

Whoo-hoo! I slept all night! Sad, but true. We got the kids to bed and I crawled under the covers in my warm-up pants (don't know exactly what I was "warming up" for, but it would have been equally ridiculous to call them "jogging pants"...) dozed off in front of the TV... and didn't stir until Todd got up to go to the gym around 5:30. I can't recall the last time someone wasn't coughing, or crying out from a dream, or soaking through diapers. The night before last, it was Todd. In the middle of the night, he sat up in bed and cried out in pain. He said later it was some kind of muscle spasm, but it scared the heck out of me.

So, now, on with the day! I'm taking a kid to preschool, going to the bank, going grocery shopping, buying paint for Handyman Grandpa, making dishes for a teachers' luncheon, delivering food to school, picking up a kid from school, probably renting some movies... I'll do it all today! See what eight hours gets you?!

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Difference Between Grandma and Mommy

One thinks it's a good idea for a 20-month-old to dye Easter eggs. The other sits in a different room, reading a magazine and coming up with explanations to tell store clerks why her kid has green hands.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Is Daddy Jesus?

With our kids, you just never know what kind of conversation you're going to get at the dinner table. Here's how supper started:

Amanda: "What if Daddy is Jesus?"
(Todd grins wildly.)
Mommy: "Daddy is NOT Jesus."
Amanda: "But he does eat A LOT of ketchup."
(stunned and confused silence)
Mommy: "Why would you want Daddy to be Jesus?" (I'm thinking about the crown of thorns, buffets and spitting, not to mention death on a cross...)
Amanda: "Because then, if we got hurt, he could just do miracles, and fix us right up."
(Todd, still fantasizing about being Jesus, asks what he missed, so I have to repeat Amanda's fairly good reason.)
Amanda continues: "Of course, all he usually has to do is go upstairs and get a Band-Aid and some cream, and he already does that."

Oh, and while the rest of us are distracted by this bizarre table talk, Elisabeth has taken the opportunity to climb down from her chair, pull her "I didn't do it" t-shirt up to her hairline and wrap it in a sloppy turban, and begin spinning around the living room, while belting out Hannah Montana tunes... and, her plumber's crack is showing.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Blast from the Past

Here's a personal little item-- a glimpse into our very private life-- that exactly three friends from my whole life would appreciate: Todd and I laid in bed late last night, having a contest, of who could name the most "hair bands" of the 1980s. Among our best zingers: Faster Pussycat, Tesla, and Great White. He's still contesting my only female entrant, Lita Ford. I'm not sure who won, however, because Todd got off on a tangent of "What is that band that was like U2, but not U2, and I liked them better than U2?" I maintained there was no real parallel band to U2. After all, I had heard Bono and the boys live, in Madison's open air stadium in the fall of 1992. I can still hear "Where the Streets Have No Name" echoing down State Street. We laid in dark silence for a long time until it came to him-- R.E.M. That got me singing, "Stand in the place where you are..." and it was still running through my head long after he was asleep.

Cheri, Becky, Leah and I spent our junior high years watching Headbangers' Ball, taking the bus to or getting dropped off at concerts (because we weren't old enough to drive,) and fantasizing about futures with David Coverdale and Joey Tempest.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Calling Me Out

When I stepped out of the shower this morning, Elisabeth was dressed. Her outfit was weather-appropriate, it fit her, and it even kind of matched... Until she added that sweater and stocking cap and became a tiny, color-blind, gangsta rapper. I praised her up and down as she followed me into my room. She was still glowing in the compliments as I got dressed, and then she asked me, "Uh, are you sure those pants aren't a little too tight for you?"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Artist and the Art Critic

The girls love to "teach" things to their brother, and then describe them to me in wild, exaggerated superlatives: "Benny said his first word!" "Mom, Benny gave me the nicest, sweetest, comfiest kiss!"

We've set up the easel as one way to get him to play in a standing position. The physical therapist's idea is that he will be more interested in standing and walking when he sees the benefits-- in this case, that he still has his hands free for drawing. Ben kind of likes the idea... He really likes to color, anyway.

So, Amanda came with her announcement: "Mom, Benny just drew his very first shape! He drew one line like this, and then he made another line like this. Then, he tried to color it in, but he went outside the lines a little. But that's OK. And, now, he made his very first shape!" I asked, "So, what shape is it?" Big sister had a quick answer: "It's a dog! With no head... and no tail."

Monday, March 10, 2008

Won't Work For Money

From the back seat of the car, Amanda announced to me, "Mom, I'm going to need you to give me an allowance." I told her things didn't work that way, but asked her why she thought she needed an allowance. "Because I don't have any money." I explained, "Well, in some families, parents give kids a little bit of money-- an allowance-- in exchange for doing chores around the house. Everyone has to work to earn money." Amanda replied, "Oh. Then, forget it."

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Lady Godiva

We had dinner guests last night, who brought a gift of Godiva chocolates. So, today, after lunch, I sat down at the kitchen table, slid off the ribbon, opened the box, and began studying the truffle chart to decide which treat I should try. Immediately, Elisabeth came out of the den where she had been watching TV. "What's that I smell?" I kept reading and asked, "I don't know. What is it you think you smell?" She replied, "CHOCOLATE!" That's our girl.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Vegetarian, Reformed?

Dad and I took the kids to Culver's for supper the other night, and Dad nearly sent back the tray when he saw an extra sandwich, containing meat, on it. But, no, I had ordered it.

Most of you know I have been a vegetarian for close to 20 years. It began in junior high or high school... I can't exactly remember why. I've never been much of an animal rights activist-- give me a leather handbag or a great pair of shoes any day. I always said I didn't like the texture of meat, which is true; I think it's a lot to chew, and my jaw gets enough exercise from talking. But, truth be told, I probably stopped eating meat because I thought it would make me thinner. Tell me that doesn't sound like the reasoning of a 15-year-old girl? But, once you stop eating meat, it's hard to go back. I remember once having a very small portion of beef because I was at a friend's house for supper and I didn't want to offend the cook, and I was literally full for days.

Still, during and after each of my pregnancies, I was very anemic. The iron pills made me sick (can anyone tolerate those things?) and so the doctor recommended I try to choke down one serving of red meat each day. I lived. And, I definitely have a meat-and-potatoes husband, so I have always been buying and cooking meat. I've just had to ask the butcher, "Exactly how do I cook this, and how will I know if it's right, because I'm not eating it?"

Now, you know I have skinny kids, and I have had numerous conversations with Ben's dietitian about what it means to have a balanced diet. She maintains, and I agree, that it is very difficult to have a healthy diet without eating meat; it's hard to be healthy while cutting out any food group. It's not impossible, but it's a lot more work. And, honestly, I've never been willing to put in that work. Since I've never been one to read labels and count proteins and such, combined with my propensity for fast food, I have always had an unhealthy diet.

So, now I'm working to change that. I confess, at least some of the motivation comes from totally irrational worry over my skinny kids, and the (again, totally irrational) possibility that my prenatal diet and breast milk quality contributed to their skinniness. Anyway, I still can't imagine going out to dinner and ordering a big steak. But, chicken on my quesadilla? I can handle that.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Lucky in Love

The memorial service for my friend, longtime news anchor and entertainment reporter Bill Carlson, is this afternoon. I attended the visitation yesterday, and was not at all surprised to see hundreds and hundreds of friends, colleagues, and fans file through. Bill's wife Nancy was so gracious in thanking everyone for coming. I told her, "I wouldn't have NOT come. I adored Bill." She said, "I did, too." And her eyes started to well up. "I know you did," I assured her, "And we all know how HE adored YOU." Her tears spilled over again as she smiled, "I know. Aren't I LUCKY?!"

38 years of marriage, and that's something we should all be able to say: Aren't I lucky?

I felt unlucky, today, because I had a sick kid on the morning of another kid's school field trip. But, I became very lucky, when Daddy (who's also fighting a cold) agreed to stay home with Mr. Runny Nose so I could still go with Libby. We had fun at "Disney on Ice," something she'll be talking about for a long time.

One more case of lucky/unlucky: Please pray for Todd's godfather, Uncle Arlen, who is in the hospital with heart problems. The cardiologist discovered three blockages and inserted stents. Now, the focus is electrophysiology, determining exactly what is going on with the electrical impulses in Arlen's heart-- presumably they will figure out whether he needs some kind of implantable device, such as a pacemaker or a defibrillator. While it may seem very unlucky to be hospitalized with heart trouble, I think his family is feeling quite lucky-- or at least relieved-- that doctors are finally making some headway in diagnosing and treating Arlen. For some time now, he has had scares with a racing heartbeat and irregular rhythms.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Enough Sick, Already!

Elisabeth's preschool is closed today due to an outbreak of influenza. They will have to clean and sanitize all the toys, surfaces, etc. and then start again. When I told Libby there was no school, she thought about it for a while. Then, she picked up the shopper and started "reading."

"Mom, it says here in the paper, 'School is closed forever.'" She would be the kid to say something like that. I asked her to "read" me the rest of the "headlines." She told me the paper also said, "'In Minneapolis, all the people are moving away.'"

Back to the school thing, though. It will reopen in time for the all-school field trip on Thursday. Do I really want to sit on a bus with all those sick people? I'll keep our snotty noses over the flu, any day.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl

My first baby is six today. Six years have flown like six seconds. I remember every moment of the day she was born.

I was nearly a week overdue, and still working. It was Saturday morning, so I was producing a live, two-hour news and variety show. My water broke during the gardening segment. Nothing else momentous followed (it would be 17 hours before she would be born) so I finished the show and left. I putzed around the rest of the morning and early afternoon, visiting my sister, checking things in the nursery, packing snacks for Todd, and waiting for serious contractions. We had called the birth center to say we were coming in, and eventually a nurse called back and said, "Get in here!" We ran through the car wash and the Culver's drive-thru.

It was quiet at the hospital. They were happy to have us. The nurses confirmed my water had broken (duh) and called the doctor. He stopped in, out of his usual scrubs and in a plaid flannel shirt, and said he'd just had his taxes done. A lab tech came and took blood-- Todd thought she was hot. We walked, and we walked, and we walked the halls of that hospital. When it became evident this was going to be a long night, we called my parents to take care of the dog. So, then, we called the rest of the family to tell them it was finally time. Things progressed slowly through the afternoon and evening. Finally, when I got my epidural after the 10 p.m. news, the action picked up. The doctor came back around 1 or 1:30 a.m. (sweet revenge!) Amanda was born at 2:17 a.m. on Sunday, March 3, 2002.

"And the child who's born on the Sabbath day is bonny and blithe and happy and gay."

I squealed, "It's a GIRL?!" And the doctor said, "That's a big baby for you." She was 8 pounds, 4 ounces and 21 inches long. Todd said, "I don't care if it's the middle of the night. I'm calling everyone I know to tell them I'm a dad." And he did.

Now, suddenly, Amanda is six. She goes to school all day. She takes piano lessons. She can float on her back. She has seen a touring Broadway musical, a hockey game, and a monster truck show. She has experienced the death of a pet. She recently told me, "I love 'Bob the Builder;' he reminds me of my childhood." She is too big for me to carry anymore. She is too intelligent for me to have all the answers anymore.

Some may read this and think, "Six is nothing. Wait for 16 and a driver's license, or 26 and an engagement ring!" But, we all know the years pass like water, and this drop in the bucket will vanish all too soon. Today, we are celebrating six with Amanda, our beloved big girl.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

True Confession

I consider myself fairly well informed about current events and pop culture. I mean, for a while there, it was my job. But, this is the truth: For years, (up until maybe two or three years ago, seriously,) I thought Warren Buffett and Jimmy Buffett were the same person. Really. Thought he made his money in Margaritaville and just invested it wisely.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Party Girl

We celebrated Amanda's birthday party today... at the bowling alley... with 20 kindergarteners. It was a riot!

A Tribute

My friend and former colleague Bill Carlson has died. I was watching the late newscast last night, which was basically a half-hour remembrance of Bill. Words or phrases describing Bill would pop into my head "decent," "a class act," "professional," "a caring friend..." and, before I could speak them aloud, someone on TV would say exactly the same thing. Virtually everyone had the same opinion of Bill: He was a kind, conscientious man, dedicated to his trade but more so to his wife and family. He loved his friends, and everyone he met was a friend.

Compared to his relationship to thousands of others, Bill and I were not close. But we did work together for about five years. We were doing the noon news when Bill faced his first battle with cancer and when he got new knees. We were working together when the then-management at Channel 4 decided to "replace" him as an anchor and "demote" him to "just" entertainment reporter (a move that created an uprising of backlash from the community and was later reversed.) We were at the station one morning when Bill slipped on the ice, and later remedied that situation with metal teeth on the bottoms of his shoes-- he showed me and we laughed! We were also working together the morning of 9/11, and we were one of the first local teams to get that news on the air.

Here are some of the things you might not know about Bill Carlson:
--He had lots of famous friends. I don't just mean he did celebrity interviews. I mean he had dinner with Mel Gibson; John Denver wrote a song for his wedding to Nancy; virtually every star in Hollywood, meeting someone and hearing he was from Minnesota, would say, "Make sure you say 'Hi' to Bill for me."
--He was so dedicated to his job. He came to work sick, and tired, and hairless, and took care of basically all of his entertainment and travel expenses out of his own pocket. But maybe this was because he had enough frequent flyer miles to travel to Mars.
--He wore really strong-smelling cologne. But it was a good thing, because you could always tell where he'd been in the building, and find him that way.
--He and Nancy cared for their aging parents, in their home, around the clock.
--He adored his family, of course, but that included a whole passel of pets. Those dogs were Bill's babies, and I imagine they are feeling lost today.
--He and Nancy modeled what a marriage is, and can be. I mean, we are talking a sweet, sweet, sickeningly sweet love. After 30-some years of marriage, Bill's eyes still sparkled when I asked him about his weekend. When I think of true devotion, I think of Nancy and Bill.

Bill was a "good old boy," going all the way back to the "Golden Age of Television." But he also stood the test of time, and adapted to continue a long, and hopefully fulfilling, career. He was a fixture on WCCO 4 News at Noon, through dozens of producers and countless changes. In the years he worked with me, I saw nothing but respect, decency, and friendship. I pray Bill felt the same thing from me.

God bless you, Bill, as you are welcomed into a place grander than Hollywood, a place where you are the star. May God comfort Nancy, your family, your pets, and everyone who calls you "friend."