Remembering Tim Russert

I’ve been wanting to post this for a long time, but have been knee deep in other projects lately (sorry for the lack of updates!)Tim Russert

I can’t say I’ve watched “Meet the Press” a lot, or that I really keep up with politics. I don’t know all the big names, know where all our politicians stand on all issues or watch news stations all the time. But I knew Tim Russert. As someone who had pledged almost a decade ago that I would vote to make a difference, Tim became a beacon of light that made politics interesting. Seeing his face, you knew that this guy was real. He didn’t have evil ulterior motives and unlike many of the politicians that he had interacted with, he told the truth. He was constantly trying to make politicians accountable for what they have said without attacking.

It’s interesting that his death has hit me so hard. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because it’s an election year, and Tim made the whole process understandable. Maybe it’s because he seemed like such a genuine person, even though you knew he was someone of great intelligence, it never seemed like he was talking down to us.

Now I wish I knew more about him. I’ve been watching all of the special reports and the tributes. Behind the man we saw on TV was a deeply religious man, a man who appreciated where he came from, who always let his family know how he felt about them, who lived an incredible life. Today, I’m watching the memorial (and it’s INCREDIBLE annoying that the sound keeps on cutting out on MSNBC) and it’s beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. It’s obvious that all who knew him were affected by him, and are deeply saddened to lose a colleague and friend. He was a great man that had died too young. But behind him he has left a wonderful legacy - he has set the bar for interviewing, for our politicians to be prepared and be held accountable for their words and promises, and a beautiful, loving wife and a son that reflects so many of his qualities.

Rest in Peace, Tim. No one will ever be able to take your place.

Never Give Me Keys

When me and my sisters were little, we were “latchkey kids”. Does anyone remember that term? There were times that we had people at home, like my grandmother, aunts or uncles that lived with us, but we always had keys to get into the house, just in case no one was home.

As a kid, I was pretty irresponsible, and I lost EVERYTHING. Especially my house keys. It got to the point where my father gave me a HUGE keychain. You know how doctor’s offices use those big ass paddles to hold their bathroom keys? That was pretty similar to the one my dad put on my house keys. He wanted to make it big enough so I didn’t lose it. Even with that, I still lost those keys once or twice.

I had flashbacks to my youth this week, after I had lost my work keys. Even though I work at home, I’ve got a keychain that holds luggage keys and a little electronic code generator that I need to log onto our network VPN (don’t bother stealing it - you need the code AND my secret pin to log in). I can work just fine outside of our network, but if I want to use outlook or our company’s intranet sites, I have to be logged in. I am constantly misplacing my keys, usually finding them stuck inside or under the couch. However, in the last weeks, these keys have been MIA. I was a little worried that they could have been packed away somewhere while we were getting ready for an open house, or even worse, that Ben could have thrown them in the garbage (which he NEVER does, but who knows that that kid does when I’m not looking?). Usually when I’m done using my keys, I through them in my backpack, but I digged through the 200 pockets in my bag and didn’t see them. I was starting to get worried since I needed to log into request time off for the comic convention.

Finally, after ransacking the whole house, I decided to empty out my backpack. I know that I said that I had digged through my backpack, but to tell the truth, there’s a lot of crap in there. I’ve got tons of pens, a graphic tablet, mouse and stylus, a flask shaped external hard drive w/usb cable, a USB cable for my camera, nail cutter, 2 sets of ear buds, 2 packages of thank you cards i’ve never sent out (so if you gave Ben a gift for his birthday, THANKS!), a camera filter, a couple flash drives, old CDs, loose change, papers, envelopes, and loads of other junk. There was a chance that in the 30 times that I had checked my backpack, that I had missed it.

So I started taking things out, and discovered, in pocket #153, my keys. They had been in there the whole time. Argh!

Maybe I need to ask my dad if he has an extra paddle-sized keychain that he can lend me…

One Person Can Make A Difference

You know, something I’ve always inspired to do, but never really had the drive to really accomplish, is to make a difference in someone’s life. I try doing little things, random acts that make people’s lives better, and I suppose that yes, I have touched some lives. When I think of my mother, and how her passing affected so much people, I want to have the same effect on the people around me (without the whole dying part, of course).

Last week, Claudine sent me an email telling me that one of our highschool teachers had died. Not just any teacher, it was one of the teachers that you look back on your life and think, “He taught us a lot more than what was on the lesson plan.” Mr. M was probably my second favorite teacher ever (first, of course, being my high school band teacher). He was a history teacher, but he was so much more. I went to an all-girl Catholic high school, and he knew it was his responsibility to make us great. When we started out as freshman, we weren’t people to him - once we were able to think on our own, not to be afraid to challenge and debate and not just spout words from books, THAT’S when we became people. History wasn’t just stuff in a textbook, it was a lesson in life. He brought in movies to highlight events in time, he used MTV as a teaching tool, “We Didn’t Start the Fire” was a large part of his teaching plan, we learned about Vietnam from his own personal experiences. He didn’t talk to us, he talked with us. Also, since he taught a lot of the honors classes, he knew that his students were often stressed, but always told his students of the bigger picture - high school wasn’t everything. Tests were just stop signs in the road of life. Anyone who took his class knew how much he cared for each one of his students - he wanted us to be great, he pushed us to think, and he loved to make us laugh. He had such a passion for teaching, and put it on his shoulders to make sure that we were ready for the world out there. I’d have to say, though, that one of my favorite memories was on Halloween, when he brought in “The Evil Dead 2″ for us to watch.

My highschool set up a memory book where people could write in their favorite memories…it was beautiful to read. He started teaching at my school in 1979, and was still teaching until he passed. For 30 years, he had been making an impact on these womens’ lives - there were many who wrote that he had been their inspiration to go into teaching, or to pursue political science in law. I can only hope that he knew how much he has meant to so many people…

So goodbye, Mr. M, and I hope that heaven has a lot of Polo cologne in stock.

Time for Operation: Brady

I may have mentioned it before on my blog, but we’ve put our house on the market. Yes, the housing market in Chicago is really horrible and we may lose money, but Dave’s commute to his new job (which really isn’t that new anymore) is pretty long, and if we lived closer he would be able to stay at home and come in whenever work needs him, rather than just staying at the hospital like he does now.

So we’ve been planning on putting our house up for sale for a while now, and last month finally made the decision that the time was right. It’s tough, though, because this is our first house and we adore it. It’s the house where Ben was born (not literally, of course) and there are so many wonderful memories associated with it. Long ago, when we first found the place, we fell in love with it instantly. It wasn’t in an up and coming, “cool” neighborhood, it was on a busy street, and it was a duplex, but there was just something about it that we really loved. Four years later, it’s time for us to go. If we didn’t have to, we probably would have stayed here for much longer, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

Today is our open house. We’re camped at Dave’s parents’ place (where they’re having a party and we’re in one of the rooms listening to them karaoke and scream in laughter - it’s funny) waiting for a good time to return home. We’ve cleaned our house like we’ve never cleaned it before. Every nook and cranny has felt the wrath of my bottle of Fantastic or my Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. And I know I’ve mentioned it before, but the magic eraser is awesome. I had scrubbed our shower for hours trying to get off soap scum, trying several cleaners. I checked online and saw that the magic eraser was pretty effective, and *poof*, just a little bit of scrubbing and my shower door was sparkling clean.

Truthfully, I don’t want to part with this house. I love this house. It’s not just a house, it’s our home. I always joke around with Dave that me and Ben were going to cut eyeholes in some white sheets Brady Bunch style and haunt the house as people come to see it. I know, though, that it’s time to let it go and let someone else enjoy it. *cries*

house haunting

Happy Mother’s Day!

The walk was COLD AND RAINY, and even though we opted to only do the mile route, we also took into consideration the extra weight of our clothes being soaked with water AND having to fight the wind and adjust our umbrellas when they turned inside out. Even with the crap-taculous weather, there were a TON of people out - I would say thousands of people, who came to do the race. Next year we want to do a little more organizing and start fund raising early. So even though we were complaining all the time, at least we were all together and were able to laugh about it! I’ll post up pictures (I only used my camera phone) later!

To you mommies out there, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

This Makes Me a Little Bit Excited

New Kids on the Block Reunion

More than 15 years ago, a barely teenaged girl in Chicago wrote a 4 page letter, both sides, in 4 colors - to a group of five guys from Boston, telling each one how much she loved them and was proud of them and how she couldn’t wait to see them them in concert.

Looking back, I have NO idea what took 8 pages to say, but man, I loved me some NKOTB back in the day. Me, my sisters and cousins each had our own, though I think I got the short end of the stick when I got assigned Danny as my favorite. We loved them. We adored them. My “Hangin’ Tough” video was played often in the house. I took the time to learn the special piano intro Jordan played for “I’ll be loving you”.

The guys have aged pretty well…If they actually DO get back together, I just might take the time to watch them.

…and maybe write another letter.

One page, this time.

10 point font. Single spaced. :-P

Three Sisters, 1986

I am friggin’ HAWT!

Ben’s First Time at the Beach

Remember long long ago, when I went away on vacation for 2 weeks and said I’d post up my pictures “real soon”? Well, that day is today - 4 months later. Though this is only some of the pictures - I think I have about 200 more to post in the next couple weeks.

During our stay in Los Angeles, we were going to meet up with Dave’s uncle. While we were waiting for him to finish up with work, we decided to head out to Santa Monica beach. I’d been there a couple times when we lived out there, but usually we were at the 3rd St. Promenade. We took Ben out to the promenade for some shopping (and dancing - he loved the street musicians), then later to the Santa Monica pier. He had a ball at the pier, first at the arcade that had a bunch of kid-rides. He had so much fun we didn’t even have to stick a quarter in to turn them on. A little bit down the pier we went to the Pacific Park. Since it was the middle of October, there weren’t too many people there, so Ben pretty much ran around the whole place on his own. We took a ride on the Ferris Wheel, and although I was nervous that Ben would freak, he actually loved it.

Since we had some time left over, we decided to let Ben hit the beach for the first time. At first, he was a little freaked by the feel of sand on his feet, but as you can see from the pictures, after a couple minutes the kid was having a ball! He was running around the beach as far as he could run, picking up sand and throwing it around, trying to bury his papa in it, and even tried eating it - which he soon found out was NOT a good idea.

That hour or so we spent at Santa Monica beach as a family was one of the highlights of my trip. When I think of Benjamin as a baby, I will always remember that day, my little boy running barefoot on the beach, not having a care in the world.

Here’s some of my pictures - more can be seen here.

On the Promenade Palm Trees Dave and Ben Speed Racer Good Times!
Driving Around His Homies Too Small to Play Ferris Wheel Lonely Waves Pacific Park
Ben's Favorite Area Yet Another Steering Wheel Shot Poser Sand, for the First Time Ten Little Piggies In Sand
Sepia Ben I'm Ready for My Closeup Big Feet and Little Feet It's Gonna Take Some Time Sand Tastes Gross!
Yuck! The Setting Sun On Lifeguard Duty Having a Ball Last Picture Before Leaving

For some reason, the photogallery has made my formatting all whack - i’m working on it!

I See a Red Moon Rising

So yesterday was the last lunar eclipse until 2010, and fortunately for me, it wasn’t cloudy. But it WAS damn cold. And since I was too lazy to put on any socks, it didn’t help my frozen little feet. Another challenge? American Idol was on for two hours, one hour of it during the actual eclipse. Thank God for commercial breaks! I headed out onto my driveway with my trusty tripod, camera, zoom lens, camera hood and plastic bag. Why the plastic bag? To put my camera in before going back inside, preventing my camera lens from fogging up in the warm indoor air.

I remember seeing a lunar eclipse when I was a lot younger, with my low-tech telescope that my dad bought me perched on top of our family station wagon. I don’t remember if it was cold back then, just that me, my sisters and my father patiently waited for the moon to disappear. My spotty memory doesn’t recall how much of the eclipse we saw, or even if it was a total eclipse, but I do remember being happy.

Anyway, the last time I tried watching the lunar eclipse, I was in Buffalo and it got cloudy just as the eclipse was about to happen. So I was determined to watch this one, and with my new fancy schmancy technology, take pictures of it. My neighbors and the 7-11 workers across the street may have wondered about the weird lady coming out at weird intervals with her tripod and camera, taking pictures of the sky. But had they been watching American Idol, they would have realized that I was going out during the commercial breaks, which was just enough time to see the eclipse in different phases. Each time, my tripod was SOOOOOO cold as I was bringing it back in, since I didn’t have gloves on. I fought the temptation to lick the cold tripod to see if my tongue would stick, “Christmas Story” style.

Anyway, I took a lot of pics, and only a quarter turned out well. But there were some good ones, so here they are!

The total lunar eclipse - the moon is blood red and you can see a sliver of the moon on the right side

Zoomed out a little bit - the star Regulus is at the top and the planet Saturn is on the left

All the phases of the eclipse I saw
Didn’t finish the eclipse because it was damn cold outside!

It was incredible to witness. However, it was not fun going in and out of the house to take pictures. Since the moon was high in the sky, with the tripod I had to kneel on the ground to position my camera, so my knees were frozen. Also, during the total eclipse it was hard to focus my camera on the moon. It was also difficult to figure out the right settings for my camera, but I think I did OK this time around!

Who’s The Sexy Chick in Blue?

My cousin Melanie has a bunch of cool old pics on her Flickr account, some of which I’ve used on this site. This has given me an itch to complete one of the things that’s always been on my “to-do” list - scan all my childhood photos. They all currently reside in a not-so-safe wall shelf in the corner of our basement. It hasn’t been easy to do - nowadays it’s a challenge to find time to do something as simple as taking a shower, but when I’m listening in on calls for work I can get a couple pages done.

It’s a wonderful, bittersweet feeling to go through these pictures. Seeing them bring back so many memories, memories hidden long ago under the pressures and busy-ness of my current life. My mind wanders back to days long ago, my mother springs back to life, my father laughs, my sisters are as cute and bratty as they look. It’s a good escape, even if it is for only a couple moments.

So here’s one of my favorites - a picture from mine and Fatima’s birthday, ten twenty years ago. See if you can find us!