Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snow Miser pays a visit

Today I am happy for the foot of snow on my deck. Our land here is dry and the moisture is desperately needed. It is the first snow we've had in a long time.

It's a mixed blessing because snow (and blizzard conditions) don't come without problems. At our house, the belt on the snowblower broke. The tire on the Highlander was flat this morning, followed by a dead battery, not caused by weather, but by human error. A limb on this tree in our backyard partly snapped from the weight of the snow. My mom's power is out, almost 24 hours later.

But we are all home and not out on the roads, where people have died today and interstate traffic has been tied up for hours. Although I did go to Target, which is less than a mile from my house. It was so slick, and I'm a nervous Nellie winter driver anyway. White kunckle the whole way. But we wanted to make cookies and someone (ahem) needed some Midol.

So we're here. It's safe. It's warm. And we have freshly baked cookies. Stop by if you're out.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Finding the light

Today Carly asked if it was safe to go to school. Between last week's tragedy and this week's prediction of doomsday, she is scared. Scared she won't see us again.

And my heart broke.

I am the saddest I ever remember being.

I think my life coach would tell me to find something positive every day to reflect on. So that's my new strategy. Today I'm thinking about:

An early Christmas weekend with Scott's family. Here he is with his parents and brother.

My Parkview Star, recognized for her outstanding citizenship at an awards ceremony last Friday.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Red, White and Blue Hoop-lah

Here at The Daily Hoop-lah, I rarely talk about issues of importance such as the economy, immigration, proposed casinos, Kim Kardashian and Big Bird. Mostly because I think opinions are highly over-rated unless, of course, they're mine. I don't have time to come up with actual facts to convince you that I'm right.

But every once in a while someone will ask me where I stand. Really, wouldn't you rather hear about the time I met Rick Springfield?

But because today is Election Day, I'll play along. Here's my take on politics:
  • My first election was 1988. I voted for George Bush (the older one) because I liked his wife.
  • Bill Clinton is my favorite (living) president although, in general, I am hugely judgmental about men cheating on their wives. 
  • I have memorized the names of the first 16 presidents and those after 1988, in order. Impressive, I know. That will be my winning ticket on Jeopardy.
  • I like that Mary Matlin and Donna Brazil are friends. How cool is that?
  • My office hosted the 2004 democratic debate in Des Moines before the Iowa caucus. I met John Edwards (not forgiving of his moral lapses), John Kerry, Howard Dean, Richard Gephardt, and a few others. If you ask me privately, I'll tell you which one(s) was the biggest jerk.
  • In said primary, Charlie Gibson from ABC News was in town, and I spent lots of time celebrity stalking. I love Charlie Gibson! Charlie Gibson for President! 
  • I voted at a new precinct today, a church. They had homemade cookies. My old precinct, at a mobile home park, never had cookies. I think I am now judgmental about that. The cookies were awesome! I was voter #649.
  • I'll give bonus points to any candidate that invites Bon Jovi or Rick Springfield and me to their campaign event.
  • Robo-call me too many times and I won't vote for you.
  • The key to my heart: Convince me you are the best candidate for women and children. That is what matters to me. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

One for the scrapbook

Riley earned a varsity letter this fall in cross country. So proud of him. Such a tremendous work ethic in this kid.  

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I-o-wa gurls are unforgettable

Katy Perry paid us a visit last night for Beggar's Night. I LOVE Halloween!! The kids are cute, most everyone likes candy, and who can resist dressing up for a few hours. Around Des Moines, the tradition is for the kids to tell a joke to get their treat. This goes WAY back . . . can't tell you when it started, but it's what we did when I went trick or treating many, many years ago. Like 35 years ago. You can always tell who the long-time residents are - we're the ones asking for the jokes. It was so popular back in the day that the Des Moines Register used to print a special joke section the Sunday before Beggar's Night. Somehow that went by the wayside, as did our elementary school Halloween parade and gym fun house. All of which, in my opinion, are signs of societal decline.

But I digress. My favorite joke from last night: What does an eye doctor give out at Halloween? Candy corneas!

My only sadness is that once the kids hit middle school age most people think they're too old to trick or treat. If they put on a costume and tell me a joke, they're always welcome!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Days of our lives

Lest you think we've spent the past month sitting around doing nothing, here's a few pics to prove otherwise.

Our very own Hoop-lah was inducted this weekend into the Geneseo (Ill.) High School Hall of Fame inaugural class - along with his teammates from the 1982 Class 4-A Illinois State Football Champions. Here he is with Carly and Riley and his proud momma.

When you get bored at the Hall of Fame ceremony, you balance a pumpkin on your head. These kids are so talented!
We visited our favorite pumpkin patch, where we rode these bucking broncos.

We took in a sunset. It's interesting . . . this shot is one block west of our new high school. It looks rural, but it most definitely isn't. Development is just on the other side of this lens.
And "we" ran in a race or two . . . and I don't use the term "we" loosely. It is tough work hauling your middle-aged butt all over the course, trying to get from place to place before those kids. I continue to be amazed by the great pictures other people take! Two meets left . . . districts on Thursday and (hopefully) state the following week.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Off to the races

The cross country season finally started today after being delayed a week because of excessive heat. This race was at Marshalltown Community College, a surprisingly hilly course. Pictured above are some of the Ankeny kids starting. Below is my Hoop-lah, coming in fifth. Go Hawks!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Remembering Iowa's missing children

Anyone growing up in the Des Moines area in 1982 can tell you who Johnny Gosch is. He disappeared 30 years ago today while delivering newspapers in the early morning hours. He was around my age, and his disappearance stunned the metro community. Things like that simply didn't happen here. Then, in 1984, Eugene Martin also disappeared while delivering newspapers in Des Moines. Both cases remain unsolved.

And then, this July, two young cousins from Evansdale, Iowa, disappeared while out riding their bikes. Their names are Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Morrissey. They are still missing.

In between, other children gone.

Every once in a while I see Johnny Gosch's mom, Noreen, around town. I wonder how she has made it 30 years, if the pain ever ever leaves her, where her determination to go on comes from.

As a mom, I can't imagine anything worse.

So tonight, please say a prayer for these children and the others torn from their families. And help keep an eye on the ones in your neighborhood.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Checking in with Mike Wazowski

Every once in a while someone will ask me what's up with Mike. He rarely makes an appearance here, mostly because he hates the paparazzi as much as any publicity-shy celebrity. But last night he was off his game and was caught lounging between the stair banisters. Interesting choice considering this house is full of more comfortable spots.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A non-coach-endorsed break

Today marked a turning point in Couch to 5K. I haven't posted about it lately because I took a short mental health break. Give or take a few weeks.

It started when my coach left for his whirlwind basketball tour. There were a few days I didn't run because of rain. Those days turned into a few more because of . . . fatigue? pain? lack of motivation? disinterest at going it alone? Maybe it was a combination. It's fascinating to me that I ran religiously through the hottest part of the summer. Once the weather improved, I stopped. I figured I'd get back on the horse when my coach came home. Except I didn't, and then he went back to school.

I quickly realized that I was going to have to do it myself or admit defeat. A year ago I would have thrown in the towel and surrendered. But I'm tired of the negative doubt - from myself and others - and, most of all, of not meeting my own expectations.

So tonight I put my shoes back on and headed out. Day 49 is now in the books.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Doggie Swim Night!

One of our favorite nights of the year is the annual Doggie Swim at Prairie Ridge Aquatic Center. C.C. knows what this night is all about. Say "Doggie Swim" and she has her goggles and her towel and is waiting at the door - faster than you can snap your fingers!

There is something magical about watching her and the other dogs go crazy. They have the run of the pool, from the grounds to the slides to the kiddie pool and the deep end. Big dogs, small dogs - they're all there, chasing each other, chasing their balls, jumping in, doggy paddling out. There is no way you can leave that place without a big smile on your face. It's the best therapy around.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Nothing compares to the Iowa State Fair


The great Iowa State Fair starts tomorrow. If you're in the neighborhood, stop by the 4-H Exhibit Building and see me. I'm working three shifts this year; knocked the first one down today setting up the display. Also managed to find my way to the Cattlemen's tent for a delish bacon cheeseburger. A few hours later one of those yummy shaked lemonades. Mmmmm . . . What am I going to eat tomorrow? I'm pretty sure it will include a corn dog and mini doughnuts.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Rip Van Winkle

This kid spent the better part of July traveling around the Midwest playing basketball. When he wasn't doing that, he was at the gym shooting baskets. When he wasn't doing that, he was lifting weights or outside running cross country or serving as my Couch to 5K coach. He got home last night around 10:30 from the final trip of the summer. He hasn't moved all afternoon. I think he has some catching up to do.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Seeing Stars WWTK Week 64


Welcome to We Want to Know Wednesdays Q&A
Hosted by Mamarazzi and Crazymama
The first question was asked by The Lovely One.

1. What Disney character do you most resemble and why?
Elastigirl from the Incredibles. Tough, strong, sharp wit, superb espionage skills, tactician, leader.

2. Who was your teenage celebrity crush?This guy right here, Rick Springfield. And yes, that is really him and me, in person, no photoshop. I have this picture on my desk. Everyone asks if I won a radio contest. The answer is no; I just have a friend with connections. This was taken after a concert in Des Moines in April 2011. He was wearing Uggs, which entertains me for some reason.

3. What celebrity would you love to be BFF with?
Anderson Cooper. He's smart and kind, and his show makes me laugh. Plus, he's probably wealthy, so he could buy dinner. We could bond over our celebrity connections (see above) and journalism careers.  

4. Who is your celebrity look-a-like?
I posed this question at the Hoop-lah house and got zip. So I am going to say Eyeore. We both have dark hair, nice eyes, and like this shade of blue. Wait - someone just suggested Juliana Marguiles. It's a stretch, but that works for me!

5. Which celebrity/celebrity couple would you want to portray you/your honey in a movie about your life?
Thurston Howell III and Lovely from Gilligan's Island. Mostly because Lovely psychoanalyzes everyone, which I do, too. But also because spending your days on an island, sipping tropical drinks, and being fabulously wealthy can't be all that bad.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Put one mismatched foot in front of the other

Tonight was the end of Week 5 of Couch to 5K. I'll spare you the picture this week.

It was a long, tough run. Next time I should rethink the Mexican and margarita beforehand.

Not to mention it was still 90 degrees at 9 p.m. And somehow I ended up with two different shoes on, which I realized about five minutes in. That seemed like a problem to me, but my trainer assured me that, in fact, it was not.

Tough as nails, that kid.

Friday, July 13, 2012

I got to keep on movin'

Today marked the end of Week 4 of Couch to 5K. I'm pretty impressed with myself for making it this far, despite appearances.

I must admit Wednesday, Day 24, was rough. It was my first day without my coach. I took a different route - BIG mistake - and then stopped short because my legs/knees did not want to move. I paused to get my mojo and then tried to pick up the pace again. Didn't work. I walked the rest of the way home, embarrassed and more than a little grateful my coach wasn't around to see me self-destruct.

So I thought about what I did wrong and resolved to improve the things I could. Using the iPhone's stopwatch feature wasn't great, so today I bought an inexpensive watch with a timer/alarm to help me keep track of my time. I took ibuprofen before setting out. I stretched out and then hit the road running my regular route. And it worked.

I'm not fast. I'm definitely not graceful. But I have gone from doing nothing to doing something. Of that I am proud.

Many thanks to those of you who have cheered me on.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Life lessons from the court

Last weekend these boys won the Great States Tournament at the Target Center in Minneapolis, challenging teams from Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. They ended their season on a high note, but victory was bittersweet. Ten of these boys start high school in the fall and NCAA rules will prohibit them from playing AAU ball during the regular season. Ankeny is building its second high school and, as a result, four of will go south, six will go north. They may not play together as a full team again.

Over the past four seasons alone, they've compiled a record of 227-45.

It has been a good ride.

What I appreciate the most is the lesson that our family learned about life, about having faith that when one door closes unexpectedly another door will open. What's behind that door just might be better than you ever imagined.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Cue Eye of the Tiger

 I was a little worried about starting Week 3 of Couch to 5K. Day 12 last week was a little humbling.

But I must say I kicked it today. Not wanting to embarrass yourself in front of your kid is powerful motivation. Beyond that, I'm learning how to pace better, how to breathe more efficiently, and how to lay off dinner before running.

Maybe one of these days I will look less like a tomato.

So my coach is leaving next week to play basketball in Milwaukee. I have two days to run while he's gone. It feels a little like Bob or Jillian leaving the ranch. Will I keep going? Will I sit on the couch and eat cupcakes instead?

I need to hire a back-up trainer. It won't pay very well, but it has tremendous laugh potential. Any takers?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The power of the coach

When I started the week, I felt good about my couch to 5K program. Full of myself actually. I breezed through Day 10, congratulating myself on being in much better shape than I thought.

Then came Day 12. It kicked my a$$. Brought me to tears on the well-traveled Delaware Avenue here in town. I tried to hide it from my trainer, but that last minute brought me to my figurative knees.

I told him later I was quitting.

"No, you're not," he said calmly. "That would make you a hypocrite."

Say what?

He repeated back what I always say to him, about never giving up and fighting for what you want.

He's a teenager - since when do they actually listen?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I saw this van today and had to take a picture. It's a perfect match to one I took yesterday.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Eight weeks to go

Today marks one week in the training program that seemed like a good idea last week.

Don't I look thrilled?

The fact that I'm still going is nothing short of incredible. But today it felt like I was going to die. (Note to self: The fajitas beforehand probably wasn't a good idea.)

The run increases on Wednesday. If I make it we will definitely have margs on the deck later. Stop by.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Team Rilonka Ya-kob-son

On Monday I went jogging with my new trainer. We started the nine-week couch to 5K program. Here we are immediately after our first 12-minute workout. Notice that my face is as pink as my Nike Dri-fit. I could barely breathe. He looks like he took a leisurely stroll to the mailbox.

Why this coach?
  1. He's an experienced runner.
  2. He's tough as nails, so my whining will go nowhere.
  3. I want to set a good example, so I'm less likely to give up if he's in the picture.
Our goal is to run a 5K in the fall.

If you see us out in the neighborhood, cheer us on.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ready for summer to begin

The outdoor living space at the Hoop-lah house just got an upgrade. New furniture, new stuff from Pier 1 . . . we are living the good life around here.

We ditched our old stuff via Craigslist. That website is either the greatest invention ever or a gathering spot for the whack jobs of the world. I've spent the last three days fielding e-mails and phone calls from people who never showed up or people who expected next-to-new quality for next-to-nothing prices. Apparently the word "used" creates confusion.

Imagine my delight when an angel named Larry showed up today and bought the whole thing. Strangely, unlike everyone else, he didn't care about the broken chair or the tabletop that sloped down. But he scrutinized that umbrella as if he were buying a Persian rug. I let him talk me down $25 and off he went. Good times, Larry!

In case you can't tell, that is an old braided belt around the umbrella. Classy, right?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fries for everyone

Every once in a while irony smacks you in the face when you least expect it.

Today's moment happened in the McDonald's drive-thru, where I was patiently waiting for a vanilla cone when I heard that a panel of experts blames our nation's obesity problem on a fat-promoting culture that produces and markets unhealthy foods, not on individual diet and exercise choices.

Score! (Could you make that a vanilla cone and a Coke?)

And I knew that Scotcheroo I had at lunch didn't really count.

It's no wonder my dog can't drop any weight either. Those darn fat promoters.

Clearly they're responsible for tonight's Hy-Vee deli dinner in all it's fried and carb-y goodness.

I wonder what they're going to force me to eat tomorrow?

Monday, April 30, 2012

It was only a matter of time

Really? Again?

Meet Me On Monday

Thanks to Never Growing Old for this week's edition of Meet Me on Monday.
1. Tomorrow I am _________
Going on a field trip to the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines with Carly's class. I'm excited! I haven't been there on a tour since I was in elementary school.

2. When is your birthday?

June 7. I'll be 45. It weirds me out to be so close to 50.

3. What are you currently excited about?
Summer and going to my favorite people watching spot, the community pool!

4. Do you have any secrets?
Maybe one or two, but my memory is so bad I couldn't say what they were. I'm mostly an open book, but that doesn't mean I tell everything. I usually operate on a need-to-know basis.
5. What do you normally eat for lunch?
It varies from week to week. Last week I ate an English muffin with peanut butter and microwaveable mac and cheese four days in a row. On Friday I went to Cazador and had a shredded beef chimi. Yum-o!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Battle of the Arches

A trip to St. Louis this weekend resulted in one basketball championship and one van with hail damage. Ah, memories.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Things I'll miss

Tonight was our final elementary chorus/band concert. It only took nine years to figure it out, but this time we arrived 30 minutes early and got both a parking space and a seat.

No wonder I'm teary.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Meet Me On Monday

It's time for another edition of Meet Me On Monday, courtesy of Never Growing Old.

1. I keep putting off _________

I put off everything. Last minute is when I do my best work!

2. What is your current weather?

Sunny and clear, 63 degrees

3. What is the nicest room in your house?

My favorite is always the one that's the quietest or the cleanest. Today it is the bathroom(s). They're clean right now, but only because someone stopped by on Saturday. I clean if I know you're coming. Otherwise it's best if you don't look too closely. It's a good thing my mom doesn't have Internet because she would be having a cow about now. I remember her washing the walls on weekends - for fun!

4. What jewelry do you never take off?

Diamond earrings that were a gift when Riley was born. But really, it's because they're easy. I have no fashion sense. Sometimes I'll wear my rings, but if I take them off it'll be at least a week before I put them back on.

5. Do you eat a snack before bed?
This feels like a trick question. I only snack between 7 am and 10 pm. I don't go to bed until 10:30. So not before bed, just all day long!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fighting Father Time

The problem with getting old is that your body starts to do weird things. Mine is growing ugly skin tags. I usually yank them off, but the seven that popped up around my eye in the past year didn't want to come off. Believe me, I tried. That's how I ended up at the eye doctor today -- she with a pointy needle in hand and me wondering if anesthetic was even needed for such a little thing. The answer to that is hell yes. Turns out that all that snipping burns. A lot.

In mid-procedure, someone knocks on the door. She needs the Botox, which happens to be in that room. Hello? Why didn't anyone tell me there was Botox? I would have been all over that. I could have scheduled both for the same appointment and saved myself a co-pay. Adding insult to injury, the doctor tells me no eye makeup for a week. Uh-huh. Like that's going to happen. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

We Want to Know Wednesday


Hosted by Mamarazzi and Crazymama

1. What is your favorite go to breakfast recipe for special occasions or company?
My favorite is a recipe for a Mexican casserole. I first had it at a baby shower brunch. It is delish! My second choice would be waffles or bagels and cream cheese.  

2, What is your policy for kids that don't want to eat what you are serving?
I have a lot to say about this. One of the Hoop-lahs is a picky eater. PICKY. Always has been. When you are the parent of a picky eater you get tons of unsolicited opinions: Make her eat it. Make her go without. Don't let her leave the table until she's done. You're coddling her. Blah, blah, blah. On and on. I tried each of those theories at different times, plus a bunch more. They resulted in a child who would purposefully throw up after eating or hide food in her mouth, which she would spit out later behind the furniture in her room, in the trash can, or whatever spot was handy. For me, that was a warning sign that we were creating a negative relationship with food that could result in an eating disorder later. So I changed my approach. There are now three choices: eat what's on the table, have a peanut butter sandwich or hot dog, or go without. That approach works for us.

3. Do you take treats to neighbors? What kind?
Not to the neighbors, although we do make May baskets for the kids. I sometimes will bake something for one of Riley's basketball teams or for Scott's office (around the holidays). Cookies, rice crispy bars, things like that.

4. What is your most used spice in your cupboard? (Besides salt or pepper)
Italian seasoning and garlic salt

5. What is your favorite fruit? Do you have a fave veggie?
I love all fruit, but my favorite is watermelon and cantaloupe. No favorite veggie. I stick mostly to green beans, corn and potatoes. Will occasionally eat broccoli begrudgingly.

6. Bonus question . . . It was tax day here in the U.S. Did you get a return? How did you spend it?
I got the taxes in under the wire last week. We did get a refund, which we used to buy a new basketball hoop for Riley. We also plan to get Carly a new bike. If there is anything left it will go to bills.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Looks like someone made it

I hit the Well on Thursday night with Tricia from Three Men and a Lady, my mom and my sister-in-law to see Barry Manilow. I've seen him in concert a few times and am always impressed by his voice. He sounds just as good at 68 as he did 30+ years ago. My fond thoughts lasted until today when a friend who works at the Well told me that they were instructed that night by his staff to not look him in the eye if they should cross his path. That would have been the end of the world for sure. Dislike!

Meet Me On Monday

Courtesy of Never Growing Old

Meet me on Monday is back! Oh happy day!

1. Right now I could really eat _________?
Chips and salsa and a chimichanga from Cazador. I know, it's the middle of the morning. Weird. But it sounds yummy.

2. Full length pants or capris?
Capris! I love warmer weather. Once I pull the capris out the long pants are done. I've been known to wear my capris to office meetings - a time or two to my embarrassment at being inappropriately dressed. But I don't really care. The only downside is having to shave my legs again. But only the lower half!

3. The best smelling men's cologne (women's perfume for the guys playing) is ________?
Men's cologne isn't a huge deal at the Hoop-lah House, so I have no idea how to answer. I'll spend my day sniffing some random guys and get back to you. I should mention that a friend just gave me a bottle of Sheer Love from Victoria's Secret. Love it!

4. What is your favorite kind of Cheesecake?
Lemon raspberry from Cheesecake Factory. Just had some this weekend.

5. What TV Show do you currently never miss?
I never watch anything every week, but some of my favs are The Good Wife, Dancing with the Stars, The Anderson Show and Ellen.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

We Want to Know Wednesday

Hosted once again by Mamarazzi and Crazymama

In the middle if LIFE is one big I am asking IF questions this week, and here is what I, Mamarazzi, wants to know:

1. If you had to be trapped in a TV show for a month, which show would you choose?

I would pick The Ellen Show. Everyone always seems so happy -- dancing, fun guest stars, cool surprises, entertaining games and gags. Sounds like a good time to me!

2. If you could be guaranteed one thing in life besides money, what would you ask for?
Health and happiness for the Hoop-lahs. Technically two things, I know. But my mom always says, "You never know until you try." So I'd ask for two.

3. If you had to name the most terrifying event in your life thus far, what would it be?
I had a panic attack a few years ago brought on by stress. I thought I was having a heart attack. Watching the Hoop-lahs watch me have it was the worst thing I've ever experienced. It was a wake-up call for sure. Now I try really hard to not waste my time and energy dealing with things out of my control, which really means other people's crap. I'm more inclined to speak up when someone is being stupid. That's huge for me because I'm a people pleaser at heart.

4. If you could possess one supernatural ability, what would it be?
A cloak of invisibility - mostly because I'm nosy, but I think it would be fascinating to see what people do when they think no one is watching.

5. If you could "uninvent" one thing in the world , so that it would no longer exist, what would you choose?
Cell phones! It's a love-hate relationship. I love my I Phone and the things I can do with it, but I hate seeing people pay more attention to their phones than their families. I watched a couple having dinner the other night who didn't speak to each other the entire time, just looked at their phones. I try really hard to set a good example for the Hoop-lahs. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

We Want to Know Wednesday


Hosted by Mamarazzi and Crazymama

What is something that you currently spend money on that you consider a splurge or frivolous?
When I was pregnant with Carly Scott bought me a massage package. It was only supposed to last six months. 138 months later I'm still going strong. It really isn't a splurge though. Being me is a tough job. That massage keeps me sane and saves us all a lot of grief. 

Tell us about your first paying job. How old were you?
I started serving meals to the residents of a retirement home at 14. My family didn't have a lot of extra money, so a job was necessary if I wanted to have the things a teenager "needs." Like white Adidas tennis shoes with three black stripes. Those things were hugely popular back then. I don't think I've ever wanted anything more. It was a great job for a teenager. I stayed until I went to college. 

Do you plan date nights and extras into a monthly/weekly budget?
Budgeting is not a strength in the Hoop-lah house, although I generally have an idea of how much money there is. Which is a good thing because I hardly ever balance the checkbook. We use our tax return to take care of the extras. This year it's a new basketball hoop, which has become quite the project. No date nights because there is rarely time.

Share one of your money saving tips with us.
I challenge myself every week to spend less on groceries. I clip coupons, try to buy stuff on sale, and maybe save a few dollars each week. How do those extreme couponers do it? I try store brands, but do not stick with them if they are inferior to the name-brand product.  I also re-use plastic reclosable bags by washing and storing them. I think that's a weird habit though. I'll blame my mom.

And finally, Christine @ wants to know:
If you won the lottery - would you spend it frivolously or use what you need and save the rest?
We would live pretty much like we do now. Probably with a few extras though. Like a cook. And a housekeeper. And an on-call massage therapist!


Friday, March 23, 2012

Service with a smile

Carly volunteered this week at the in-home daycare that she and Riley attended before they were old enough for school. Her volunteerism is part of a community service project that fifth-graders in our school do each spring. Riley volunteered at the local congregate meal site serving lunch to seniors. I remember them as being very interested in talking his ear off!

The kids doing these projects are required to identify where they will volunteer, get it approved, make a call to set it up, and then show up to fulfill their time and work obligations. When the service is over, they make a poster and give a presentation to their class about what they did. A true lesson in responsibility and giving back.

I don't think Carly expected to work as hard as she did. Anyone who has been around young children knows that they can move a mile a minute. She played games, led circle time, did flashcards, led an expedition to cheese park, helped make lunch, and more. Somehow she escaped diaper duty though!

Here is a picture of Carly and Becky and the kids who were there today.

I have to tell you how lucky we were to find Becky. She loves those kids and they all love her back. My kids have such great memories of the time they spent with her. I still miss seeing her and it's been six years since Carly started school!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Where the basketball fun never ends

Found out today that Riley's picture is posted on Minnesota's Pacesetter website. How fun is that!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Getting a head start on March Madness

This kid is an 8th grade all-stater! One of five kids from a pool of more than 100 at last weekend's state tournament. So proud of him. He received the honor in the gym of my high school. I would have never guessed then that 27 years later I'd be sitting in the same bleachers watching my kid. Gym wasn't my best subject so I'm glad to have some new memories!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Scenes from Portland II

Me and my two handsome dates at the Trailblazers game. Don't let the empty seats in this picture fool you. The Rose Garden was packed.

We waited in line Monday morning outside of this doughnut shop for 30 minutes. Well worth the wait, although I dropped an Andrew Jackson on a dozen doughnuts. There was a homeless man outside the shop who looked as if he worked the corner regularly. I had to admire his choice of locations. A crowd and impossible to ignore the disparity between the have and have nots. Very interesting doughnut choices inside, including one called the cock and balls. Shaped exactly like it sounds. Sorry, no photos of that.

Across the street from the doughnut shop was this sign. Portland was a little weird, but a friendly kind of weird. Maybe one of these days I'll make it back.