Saturday, October 27, 2007

Friday Ramblings

Well, California is tough and it's still there. A call to my work headquarters found ALL of the county's schools closed and many, many staff at home dealing with kids who usually are not there during the day. Freeway exits were closed, half of Highland (which is on the foot of the mountains) had been evacuated.

Hubby called our insurance company down in Yucaipa, Cali to change our insurance from renters back to home owners since he'll be opening the door once again to our old home and lives this coming Wednesday. Yay! The agent told him there was a moritorium on all changes to policies in the area at the moment. Yikes. Even though we are in no imminent danger because of our location, it gives you chills thinking about how close you are.

When we were house hunting a few years back, we looked at a housing development in Highland. It had been built on one of the hills burned in the last fire. Those houses have been evacuated now. I thank God those houses were out of our price range and wish I could pat myself on the back for not purchasing them due to their location. Not sure I'm that smart though. Hubby is, however, he would have saved me from my greed.

Remember people, flood zones, fire zones, earthquake zones, they all count! It may look pretty at the beach, but is that homestead site really fit for construction? Will that bulkhead hold? We seem to blow raspberries at Mother Nature. Studying physical geography in college and its impact on humans was fascinating, especially the impact flooding has on third world countries like India.

Granted, you have to weigh the benefits with the risks. My mom's office, for example, is right in the lava flow if Mount Ranier were to blow. Good to know if that giant wakes up, but for the moment, I think she's safe. But gives you chills to think of all the things that can possibly go wrong in life, one of my favorite hobbies.

On a lighter note, I did it. I bit the chew toy and went to the hairdresser. I don't usually have time to go, I think it's crazy expensive how much it costs to have your hair done, so I only end up going about every four or five months when I absolutely hate to look at myself in the mirror and am totally desperate. I am now back to skanky California blond color and feel oh, so much better. Stupid, isn't it? But I think with the pregnancy thing happening again (FOR THE FIFTH TIME!) I'm allowed to indulge. I have even been doing my nails on a regular basis. I think it's funny that I'm concentrating on the peripheries of my body since everything in the middle seems to be out of my control.

Freaky realization: my hairdresser was born in 1982. I graduated from high school in '87. Am I really that old?

Hubby has been forcing me with a hot cattle prod to do our walks every day, too. Which is great. I need motivation. For that when he's gone he'll be leaving my hairy, smelly personal trainer, Max the jungle dog. Maybe I can find excuses for me not exercising every day (have to feed the kids, do the laundry, clean something, stare into space) but I can't handle sad doggie eyes.

It's humorous in a horrifying way how these two mile walks are starting to get really loooong. In pre preggo days, streak up there and back in 20 minutes if I didn't feel like the doing the whole suburb circuit. Coming home this summer, after my little uterine clot cleared, I was walking in 25, 30 minutes when I could bother to do it. Yesterday? 45 minutes. By nine months, I'll have to bring a snack to sustain me for the length of time I make that circuit. Gads.

And thank goodness it's Friday since packing lunches and doing homework is really taxing. Well, not doing homework, but organizing all those papers three little boys like to flick out of their backpacks the minute they get home like some sort of ticker tape parade on New Year's Day.

My middle son talked me into buying him a lunchable. He used the historic mommy guilt trip of "I wish my lunches were as good as everyone ELSE in my class." What do those other mothers pack, I ask son. The answer comes out that it's anything already prepackaged, in colors not found in nature, with so many preservatives that the teacher has put some of them in their class's time capsule. No, veggies and fruit do NOT constitute a cool lunch.

Not wanting to limit my son's popularity, I negotiated one lunchable a week. Of course, after my usual soap box about how they aren't very nutritious, but everything in moderation. I feel so schizophrenic when I'm reading my OB's latest copied article on the benefits of organic foods for children since we are poisoning them on a daily basis ((Yes, this is the kid who exists on Chocolate Peanut Butter pops for breakfast,... every day) knowing full well that gross lunchable will be packed with love into his lunchbox in the morning.

Don't get me wrong, I have a fun size bag of snickers hidden in my cupboard and Tostitoes Queso in the fridge. But I eat that with baked chips. Maybe that's why I like that Mika song, "Big Girls Are Beautiful;" pizza and a diet coke indeed.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hang In There Southern California

I'm thinking why did I go to Indonesia when there are all sorts of natural disasters to contend with here in the United States? Four years ago, friends from my company, ESRI, based in San Bernardino County, sent pictures of the fires near Lake Arrowhead; many people were evacuated and some lost their properties. Here we are again, but across seven counties. It's almost unbelievable.

I logged on to a neighbor's blog and found out that the local school (right behind our house in California) is shut down today and tomorrow because of poor air quality.

Rob's uncle down in San Diego has not been evacuated YET, but everyone else within a two mile radius has. His wife's family has had houses on both sides of them burn down.

Check out this blog, run by ESRI staff who care, on how these fires and those of four years ago, compare.

We're praying for you, So Cal.

One of the things I love, love, love about the company that has kept me gainfully, if not creatively, employed for the last fourteen or so years is the remarkable charitable attitude the owner and founder, Jack Dangermond, has towards organizations that can benefit from his technology (geographic information systems - basically maps smarter than you'll ever be!). Thanks to the incredibly intelligent people (I do not include myself in this category) who are attracted to ESRI, they are able to support emergencies every year, including this year's fires.

While in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, I worked with the local government to fix their GIS licenses and get them up and running on our new technology. This required me to fanagle my buddy and senior sales dude to fly over and wheel and deal. After it was all said and done, my incredible company donated around $250,000 for emergency response software licensing. That perhaps is why I'm in marketing and not sales, I'm way too much overhead, eh? I think my hubby would concur.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Yet Another New Era, Can I Get Off the RollerCoaster Now?

Well, we've bit the bullet. We are trading in my beautiful 7 series beemer for a,... mini van. So the beemer was gotten used and is ten years old, it's still a nice little car and I see my car as an extension of myself. A quality person, worth the extra maintenance, serious but with a fun side, okay, maybe not german. Sigh. Nothing against mini vans or the people who drive them. I just see them like I do dolman sleeves or espadrilles; cute on somebody else.

We took yesterday afternoon with the cranky B and went to the local automall. Nothing like car shopping in Olympia, Washington; where we were terrified we'd be attacked upon stepping foot onto a lot, we actually found the places quite deserted. I helped myself to a few cars, realizing that the driver's door on most vehicles was open and I could gain access that way. Is that breaking and entering? I hope not.

We checked out the Kia whatever, the Hyundai whatitscalled, the Toyota thingy and the Honda Odyssey. Also the Saturn Outlook and the Buick Rendezvous. These hybrid vehicles are so very cute, but honestly, with five children who have parents 6' and 6'6", we will not fit in them for very long. It would be the car version of me buying school uniform pants for my kids right now; they fit for a couple of weeks, then in a blink of an eye, they are highwaters and the zippers are too tight. And I've been warned; friends who are the same height as us have grown children where the girl is 6'4" and the boys are both over seven feet tall. I'm not making this up.

The Rendezvous was kind of cool and a good price, after I got over my snotty image of the whole 'Buick' brand. All I can think of driving a Buick is my grandpa in his golf pants. But it will only fit six if I get the captains' chairs in the middle. Explaining why I want the captains chairs to my hsuband was like speaking a foreign language underwater with no tongue.

"Honey,",I said. "I need to have two carseats in the middle. Then, I have a booster seat in the way back that houses a child who can't seem to put on a seatbelt without making it into some sort of origami ribbon."

He tells me to just slide the seat forward, it won't go all the way forward anymore, but with the top tilted up, the boys can squeeze in the back.

Okay, I'm envisioning myself in rain (or 130 degree So Cal weather, doesn't matter, the point is, I want out of nature quickly), with a baby in a baby seat over one forearm, the toddler trapped between my thighs, a huge purse/diaper bag/garbage can/toy holder slung over a shoulder, yelling at my kids to 'stay right here, DO NOT MOVE' (yes, the OTHER three) as I find a free appendage to feel blindly for the little lever that will spring that second seat forward. Only 1/2 of the way. Then, hanging my childbearing backside out of the car door as I try and unknot child's seatbelt in the way back.

No go baby.

When I find the Rendezvous with the captains' chairs and the leather interior (big whiff o' leather; I haven't owned a cloth seated vehicle since I was in college.) and explain to hubby that I like it, but we can't fit him in the car with us, he says to me, "Like that matters, there's no way in *#&$(& I'm getting in that thing."

Very funny. Spoken like a man with a brand spankin' new F150 company car waiting for him in Orange County.

So, on to the mini vans. To make a long story short, the Odyssey honestly had more third seat space than the Kia, which was also a nice vehicle. And it had a stowable middle second row seat, so I can have my aisleway with the captains' chairs when hubby isn't looking.

Since leather is a bit out of our price range at the moment; we refuse to carry a car payment, and after a year overseas with an NGO, the coffers are a bit dry, I can deal with foamy fabric. I'm sure I can find some sort of cute car seat cover, they make them for babyseats, why not mom seats? If not, maybe I can design some in pink chenille, or leopard print. That and a non alcoholic beer that actually tastes good, and I can retire in comfort.

And the 'entertainment system'? Entertaining for WHO? I am not going down the slippery slope of in-car DVD systems. At the dinner table, the big 10 year old was selling us on buying a car with one. All I can see is wasting precious time getting ANYWHERE as five children fist fight over what one video will play on the screen. "I'll even watch whatever the others want to watch," he says.

To which my 8 year old piped up, "Digimon! And Pokemon!"

And 10 year old promptly replied, "Except that."

So, here we are arguing over what to watch on the in car DVD system we don't even own yet. And then, when I mentioned, we now have girls to deal with and so the viewing options have just opened up to include titles like 'Barbie's Swan Lake' and 'Strawberry Shortcake' and 'Bratz Go to Mars' (or is that just my silent wish?) the DVD system doesn't seem so cool anymore.