Monday, December 31, 2007

Allrighty then...

Another year bites the dust. What a transitional year this has been - back at work as a Realtor after a 5 and a half year hiatus as a stay-at-home Mom. It had been a tough decision, but looking back upon the year, I realize it was the right one. The Kids have learned so much, and the RE/MAX office is like a second home to them.

I like the idea of my Kids seeing me in a role as something other than their Mom. I like that my brain is slowly regenerating to the point where I can once again string a series of coherent thoughts together. I love that when I meet someone new I'm not immediately dismissed because as a Stay-at-home-Mom I must not have much to say. I love that I can have a real lunch of my very own and not have to finish what is left on the Kids plates. I love that I can go to the office where 4 people aren't fighting over the computer. I love knowing that predictably there will be time throughout my week when I can get to the gym.

Some things that I don't love: When my daughter says "But I want to be with YOU, Mommy". Or, when I dodge in to the grocery store in between appointments and see Mom's dressed in their sweats with their kids in tow. It's rough when I drive past the library and feel like that is really where I want to and should be. It's rough when on a Sunday the family is home, dinner is in the oven, and its time to get ready for an open house. It's rough when I sit contemplating a happy meal for their supper and then realize they just had that yesterday! And of course, its rough when one of them really needs a nap but they can't cause they have to go with Mommy on a 'pointment.

I have had the honor and privilege of staying home with my Kids for their first 5 + years. I now have the honor of working for the most professional and respected real estate firm in Peoria. I wouldn't give up either opportunity for the world. My experience in both regards has taught me that there is no legitimate discourse between working Moms and stay-at-home Moms. No matter what, guilt will be a frequent visitor in our lives. But I can say without a doubt, that at least in regards to the women in MY life, we all want the same things for our children.

Ethical Hacking

Had to chuckle.... today I was driving East on Glen and saw a billboard for Pearl Technology advertising "ethical hacking" services. This cracks me up. What would be considered ethical hacking? I mean, why would anyone put a password on their data if they didn't want to be the sole decider of who would have access to that information?

Who decides who is ethical, and what data can you hack and what data can you not hack? Perhaps there is a whole culture on this... I don't know... just thought it was funny.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Puleeze get hold of yourself!


Here is a secret. Dysfunction makes me squirm. I will run from it faster than if Chuckie was chasing me with a machete. I've had my fair share, but learned early in adulthood that the sooner you can kick dysfunction out of your life the better. Its called personal strength. Some women need to improve their skills in this department, especially if they are going through a divorce!

I'm sure you've all known at least one. They have a crazed, kind of hollow stare. They cannot eat, breathe or sleep without telling everyone they know how despicable their soon to be ex is. This is one instance where I gotta side with the fellas. The most you'll likely get out of them is a quiet mutter about something that rhymes with witch.

These women are so incessant that if you ever get stuck with one, you would rather tear your ears off with a pliers than continue to listen to her rants. As you dutifully respond with an "aw.. oh... ooh" and the appropriate gestures of sympathy, you realize that she does not give two hoots about anything you have to say. She is only planning the next damnation to come out of her mouth. Save your sanity and park her in front of a store mannequin.

One woman, an acquaintance, who purported to be my friend for purposes of having another outlet to vent her unbridled animosity, went so far as to accuse her husband of the most dastardly of acts against their child. I was devastated, as I knew the family and my heart ached for the child. It wasn't even a week later that I heard her talking on the phone about how the soon to be ex was taking the child on an out of town trip. I was incredulous. Now either she was just downright spinning the most vile of accusations, or she was an unfit mother. It had to be one of the two, and I don't think it was the latter. Her thinking had become so discombobulated that it didn't even occur to her that I would find those 2 claims impossible to reconcile.

So ladies, my advice, divorce sucks but it happens to the best of us. Suck it up and maintain your dignity. Don't drive your friends away, destroy the image of your children's Daddy, and leave an embarrassing and unforgettable impression to all around you of how you conduct yourself under pressure.

A small part of me worried about writing this post... thinking that perhaps a guilty party might read it and be offended. But then I thought, naaagh, a person caught up in this kind of drama is in so much denial of reality that they wouldn't even recognize it as themselves.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Phone hell

Last week I noticed a $35. late payment penalty on my credit card statement. I was certain it was wrong, since all my banking is done on-line and they are NEVER wrong. Sure enough, I checked the bank records and observed that in fact the bill had been paid on time. At that moment, I realized I would soon be descending in to what I call Customer Service PHONE HELL.

Yes, I am referring to the endless and confusing series of numbers that must be punched in to your phone before you ever get to talk to a person with a pulse. Common sense would dictate that it would be inconceivable that there could ever be a self service menu option for "Give me the **** my $35. back!"

So, I wait until I have at least 35 minutes to waste and then dial the dreaded 1-800 number. Ugh! My strategy is to just keep hitting -0- and hopefully override the system and get an operator, but the rule of thumb is that you must be on the verge of plunging a knife into your chest before that can happen. And why when you get the live agent on the phone do they ask for your account number again? What was the purpose of punching it in the first place? And how about when you realize you don't have the right department. You would hope that by virtue of the fact that you were diligent enough to get all the way to the live operator you would have some type of priority to go directly to the correct department. But no, that would make entirely too much SENSE!

But my all-time fav Phone Hell Scenario is when you use your best guess to make the proper selections, and discover that all the selections you have made take you right back to the MAIN MENU! That is when you look around the room (while laughing maniacally) to see if there is a hidden candid camera recording your reaction for reality TV. Unfortunately, chances are its no joke. It is just the new "Customer Service" standard for the new millennium. Wanna get rich quick? Plan on investing your life savings in to the first Fortune 500 Company that keeps their customers out of phone Hell!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Billy Dilemma

Several weeks ago I introduced you to our new dog, Billy. Billy is a wonderful dog, playful, loving and smart. There is just one little problem... he has unresolved anger issues. Translation: He nips at the kids. The first time it happened was when Billy was wearing the Elizabethan collar following his neutering surgery. On went the collar.. and as any pet owner who has ever had to subject their pet to this device would know- it makes for one unhappy camper! So our son put his face just a little too close for Billy's comfort, and Nip. Strike one. We cut Billy some slack under the circumstances and decided to integrate the kids and the dog a little more cautiously. So everything seemed to go swimmingly for the next few weeks until one day the kids were sitting on the floor and Jenniffer happened to do something that Billy didn't like, and Nip! Strike 2. The third event took place the following day when Billy growled at Jenniffer again. Strike 3.

I called an animal behaviorist, called my friends at PAWS, called my bff, my Mom, my Dad, my sister and the bro. There were two prevailing schools of thought: 1. Work with the dog and try to modify the behaviour and 2. Get rid of the dog ASAP before we have to stitch a face back together. It was a brutal predicament, but we felt option 2 was the most responsible choice. I called the Peke Rescue and they said they would re-home in to a home with no kids. So here we go again, my heart is broken once more. A sad day for the Vespa family, and a sad day for the pup. Live and learn.

Santa, Shmanta


I'll never forget the first day of first grade. All the "G's" were in homeroom together for the first time, and some smart-alecky Nelly Olson look alike with stupid blond pigtails couldn't wait to tell the rest of the class that Santa was really Mom and Dad. For the rest of the day, I couldn't even concentrate. I just wanted to get home and ask Mom if it were true. Finally, the moment arrived. I spilled the question to my mother fully expecting a vehement denial, but of course, it never came. Her hesitation at answering the question was all I needed to confirm that what the little snit in class had said was true.

Seriously, I was crushed, betrayed and a little embarrassed that I had been so gullible. (yes, I felt all of that at 5 years old). How could my parents perpetrate such an outright lie? At that moment, I vowed I would never lie to my future kids about Santa Clause and guess what? I don't.

Our kids know who Santa Claus is, and that he is the one they should confide their worldly desires to. They do not, however, believe that his fat *ss is going to be scurrying down our chimney anytime soon. Mercifully, they have never outright asked. They seem to innately sense the improbability of it all. The few times they have repeated their friends claims regarding Santa Claus, I have simply put the question right back to them. Santa is anyone you want him to be, but this I know for sure - Santa is someone who loves you very very much.

So before my readers think that I'm just one big Scrooge and denying my kids the joy and mystery of Santa Clause, consider this telephone conversation:

Me: Hey Jim, I'm at Fluff, and I'm looking at the Webkinz charms. They have the tree frog, the cow and the white dog. Which ones do you want for Christmas?

Jim: How about the dog, and don't forget the collar that goes with it! And Mom check and see if the blue ball cap came in.

Definitely not the words of a kid who is crushed because Santa and his flying reindeer are not personally delivering his toys. As far as they are concerned Mickey Mouse can bring'em, so long as they are in their proper place under the tree come Christmas morning!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Why blogging will change the world, starting with Peoria!

The buzz has been around awhile. Bloggers feel they are making a significant impact on the news cycle, and traditional media continue to (unconvincingly) deny it. I never much cared one way or the other, until this post on Peoria Pundit. The Paul Vallas link regarding Peoria Schools District 150 really caught my eye. It's no secret that Peoria schools are struggling. There has been persistent turmoil and in the 10 years I have been here never a perceived direction. Administrators and board members come and go through the proverbial revolving door, and real, effective change is elusive.

First, a few disclaimers. I have only a casual knowledge of what is really happening in the district. Our son just started Kgarten, so we have no history of experiences to draw upon, although so far we are pleased (other than a few bumps in the road.)But if you look at the state report cards someone with half their brain tied behind their back would notice Houston has a problem.

Secondly, Peoria has some special circumstances, including socio-economic conditions that obstruct the educational experience for many children, and the inequitable way schools are funded locally through property taxes, a topic worthy of its own post. But other schools have faced similar challenges and prevailed. Why can't we?

It is a complicated dilemma and one that is difficult to grasp unless you understand the education jargon. For the average Joe, it makes ones head spin like poor Linda Blair in the Exorcist. So the average Joe Peorian will typically do what one does when they don't understand something... nothing. Other than reading a few newspaper articles and watching a few 30 second sound bites on the news of the "he said" "she said" point/counterpoints, there's not much more they can offer.

Enter, the blogger. NOW we get down to the nitty-gritty. Now we have real-time productive debate and discussion in terms that even "stoopid" me can understand. Admin and Board Members be on your toes. No longer must the average citizen obligingly swallow anything told to them. Bloggers will infiltrate every nook and cranny of the truth. They may be as annoying as Hell, but eventually, the reality will come in to focus.

And THAT, my friends, is why bloggers will change the world as we know it. Knowledge brings understanding, and understanding brings about change. Look out, the bloggers are coming!

Numerous unmoderated comments found....

My apologies to anyone who posted and did not get published. I guess I need to adjust my spam filter.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Billy don't be a hero...


Just can't stop singin that song! Here is our new dog, Billy, straight from the Peke rescue. They sure had our number. My pal Joyce called and asked if we would like him on a "trial basis". Ha ha, of course, the trial period was over as far as I was concerned by the end of the phone call. Today we took him to our vet, as he seems to be perpetually ticked off about the little "nuetering" issue from a week ago. Honestly, I thought it was psychological but felt a professional opinion would be in order just to be sure. That professional opinion resulted in even more humiliation for good natured Billy, as the pic demonstrates.

Anyhoo, we are blissfully happy to welcome Billy to the family. You will surely be hearing lots more about him!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned...

Today I noticed on my sitemeter that I was getting some hits from an unknown person searching for keywords *complaints against diane vespa*. After my initial reaction of creep-out-edness, I started wondering who might want some dirt on me. I'm certain it's not a client, as they are typically quite vocal over any displeasure. Perhaps a future client? Who knows... but it did get me thinking about who throughout my past might have a "complaint" lurking within. So I have decided, as a sort of pre-emptive strike, to just lay it all out right here and now and accept the consequences.

My brother has a big scar between his eyes that he got when I pushed him down our basement steps when we were about 3 and 4. He always thought it was an accident. Steve, if you are reading this, I AM SO SORRY!

Then there was the time when I was about 7 and my scaredy-cat sister was up every night having nightmares. So one evening as a sick joke I lay hidden underneath her bed. Later, when she went to get in to bed I reached out from underneath and grabbed her ankles. Today, it seems mean, but back then, it was hilarious. She says she still has a "twitch" to this day!

Lets see... once I sold a house to a bank-robber. No kidding. I didn't KNOW he was a bank robber at the time, although admittedly I was a little puzzled about how he couldn't seem to explain his source of downpayment funds on the loan app. It all became crystal clear when 2 weeks after closing I saw his mug on the front page of the paper, charged with bank robbery. I remember thinking "thank goodness, THAT deal is closed!"

OK, and I confess, that one time in college I was pulled over for speeding. I worked up the biggest set of crocodile tears you could imagine and batted my eyes to beat the band. I had NO money and was desperate. I was successful at evading a ticket, and as the officer was driving away I whispered quietly to myself "sucker".

I should probably admit too, that I taught my son how to burp out loud. Just for fun. He is so good at it now, that he can burp his ABC's. Dh comes home from work and laments.. "who did he learn that from?" I just shrug my shoulders and roll my eyes.

In grade school, I daydreamed a LOT... and some of it was less than pure thought. Through math class, history, geography, English, I rarely paid attention. I was such a poor student that, when Chef Kev posted this test on peoria.com, I got a score of "stupid". In my defense, as I was taking the test, I was daydreaming.

And I guess this is as good a time as any to confess that, since our son was born, if I laugh really hard or sneeze, I pee my pants just a little.

One final note to my mysterious snooper, if you send me your e-mail address, I'll try to keep you posted of any further transgressions.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ask the Expert...

Please send your real estate related questions to me at vespa3@ameritech.net. I would like to start responding to general questions about real estate and the Peoria market on-line, right here at Peoria rocks. So if something is on your mind, please shoot me a question here or by e-mail to vespa3@ameritech.net.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

From the "What was I thinking?" Department


Here is my first professional business photo, taken in 1985 shortly after I passed the state Real Estate licensing exam. You would have thought that one of my friends would have pulled me aside and asked what was up with the hair. I don't even remember who did my hair back then but its possible I did it with one of those old Toni perm kits. Seriously, friends, if I ever start to look like this again will you please stage an intervention?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Time to give thanks...

It can be trite, and often overlooked. Isn't it just human nature to take the wonderful things for granted, and squawk about the not-so-great things?

I am so thankful to be living in this country! What are the chances that if you threw a dart at a map you would end up a citizen of the greatest country on Earth?

I am thankful for the wonderful and supportive environment I have in which to work.

I am thankful for my parents who worked hard to instill sound ethics and values. I've done my best to uphold them and slipped only a few times.

I am thankful for my adversaries, for it is through dissension that we grow stronger and gain a deeper understanding of who we are.

I am thankful for my dear husband - a calm and rational presence in my life who has taught me to slow down, breath and enjoy the scenery.

And I am thankful for the children of my dreams. They have surpassed my wildest expectations and are truly my greatest achievement. I will never get over the pride I feel when they call me "Mom"

I am thankful for my friends, new and old! Special relationships that help keep the blood pressure in check and life just a little bit more exciting!

But most of all, I am thankful for my relationship with the Lord. We've had our moments, but I think we've reached an understanding!

A Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving to all!

Monday, November 19, 2007

So funny I forgot to laugh..


The call came this morning about 9:00am. Caller: Um, yeah, uh, your real estate sign is in my front yard with about 6 others. Do you want to come pick it up? Got it - I know the drill. Soon enough, I'll get another call from a Seller whose sign is missing. That call predictably comes a few hours later. So as I'm driving North of town to retrieve my abducted sign, I am not amused. As sure as the nose on my face if I interview the home-owner of the sign recipient he will report that there are teenagers in the home with a greater than 90% probability that they are on some sports team or club. To them, its just tooooo cute when they have the collective idea to steal a bunch of real estate signs and stick them in Johnnies yard and make it look like his house is for sale. Ha ha haha, I'm just laughing so hard I can't stand it. Haven't they ever heard of ding dong ditch? What's wrong with that? These thoughts cross my mind as I pull up in front of the first callers Dunlap home... a home that from the looks of it must have at least 13 bathrooms!

I retrieve my sign and begrudgingly drive it back to its rightful location and pound it back in to the ground, all the while trying to keep the freezing rain off my back and thoughts of the little valedectorian prince and princes dashing off to basketball practice in their parents Cadillac Escalade out of my head.

Driving home, I start fantasizing ways in which to handle the next call. An ideal scenario would be to arrive at the home with a uniformed police officer in tow. Ask the parent if there are any teenagers in the home, and the names of their best friends. Then, interview the "suspects" at the same time in separate rooms. Retrieve all the facts of the shenanigans and the fun begins. Hmmm, shall I pursue this criminally, civilly or both? Perhaps we can reach an agreement before charges are filed. Let's see. I don't file a criminal complaint - and in exchange the brat does my sign work for one year!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

You think you are having a bad day....

True story, this happened to one of my best buds at RE/MAX. She doesn't want me to use her name but I'll give you a hint.. she's really blond, and she works at RE/MAX!

So she drives this little red sports car that she has wanted all her life and really adores - a real snappy little number. Let's just say its a little, uh, compact. Problem is most Realtors drive these big honking mini-vans and SUV's - which, anyone who has driven one knows that it's hard to see these little stature challenged cars. (how's that for political correctness?) They are just like little cocktail weenies in a sea of bratwursts.

Long story short, some big Realtor car is backing up out of it's parking spot in our parking lot and SPLAT! - there goes the back end of my bud's sports car. She is bummed out indeed.

So she calls ye'ol insurance carrier who calls ye'ol claims adjuster. The claims adjuster is looking at it, assessing the damage, expressing her sympathy to my distraught friend.

The adjuster does her little schtick, says her goodbyes, hops in her car, and BAM! runs right in to my friends little sports car AGAIN! You can't make this shit up!!!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Who'da thunk it?


On a whim we decided a few weeks ago to add two beta fish to the Vespa family. I really thought it would be nothing other than casual entertainment for the kids. Turns out, we're really getting attached to those little critters. It started the day we lost Sofie... we had a candlelight vigil in our home, and brought the fish in their little bowls into the room to participate. Since that evening, the fish have remained on the kitchen counter like air traffic control in the center of all the hubbub!

My favorite time of day is in the early morning before anyone else is awake. I pour a cup of coffee and grab the paper. The fish greet me as I enter the room and rise from the bottom of their tanks and wiggle expectantly up to the top. I know what you're thinking. Well that's where they get their food. But no, not these fish. They just dig me. I can tell.

They each have their own personality. The girl fish, Pepe, moves very slowly and daintily. She delicately plucks at her food and is careful not to eat too much...watching her girly-ish fish figure. The boy fish, Emily, is the typical dude. He moves quickly and boastfully around the tank just lookin for trouble. Fortunately, it hasn't dawned on his fish-sized brain that he isn't going to find it in that 1 gallon tank.

One morning when I walked in to the room Emily was sleeping. Not realizing that fish actually sleep, a feeling of total panic overwhelmed me. My panic was quickly met with relief when he perked up upon realizing I was in the room and did his customary dance up to the top of the tank. It was then that I realized - damn! I really love these fish!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Posting party today at Peoria.com

Here is an opportunity for some mindless time-wasting entertainment.
Join the Peoria.com forum members for a "posting" party! Prizes offered for number of posts, longest thread, and recruiter of most new members. You might just even make a new friend or two! Runs all day Thursday (11/8) from midnight to midnight!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Never discuss politics or religion...

except here! Peoria now has a new forum where people so inclined can discuss local, state, and national politics. Illustrious site owner and developer affectionately known as peoriadotcom recently upgraded his forums to include a separate discussion forum for the sensitive topics of politics and religion. Formerly, these topics had been discussed on the general forums, but as one could imagine discussions got pretty heated and hard feelings resulted. This seems to be a pretty logical solution!

In addition to moderated discussion, peoria.com users can post free classified adds, search for things to do, and post or look for a job opening! Peoria.com has over 1005 registered members. Mosey on over and check it out. You'll be glad you did!

Free Real Estate Seminar - Tuesday, Nov. 13, 7:00 pm


Tim Johnson of RE/MAX Unlimited and yours truly are sponsoring a series of seminars on Real-estate related topics. Our next seminar is entitled "Managing the emotional impact of moving on your family".

Are you in the process of or contemplating a move? If so, have you noticed that it turns your life upside down? Do you feel stressed, overwhelmed, and maybe a little guilty that you are moving your children away from their friends? If so, our speaker, Dr Lori Russel-Chapin has some practical tips for you! You will love her down-to-earth style and dynamic message. For additional information, visit our seminar series website http://360peoria.com/ . The seminar is free, but we encourage advance registration. To register, please call 687-4960 and leave message, or e-mail Tim or myself.

The seminar location is the RE/MAX Unlimited Community room. RE/MAX Unlimited is located at 3622 N. Knoxville, Peoria. (SE corner of Knoxville and War Memorial). You must enter our parking lot by going North on Knoxville.

Make it or break it....


So today I'm driving East on Glen just West of University, when this billboard catches my eye. Have to say, I felt a little uncomfortable about it. I guess I just hope that MSB feels the same way for BB. Otherwise, there are going to be some REALLY hurt feelings and a drained bank account. One thing is for sure, this billboard will MAKE or BREAK that relationship. No middle ground here!

Runnin on empty...

Once the price of a gallon of gas goes over $3.00, I find myself in denial that gas prices are really that high. To find comfort, I just fill the tank half full. That way, it still just costs about 25 bucks to fill up.

The unfortunate consequence of this mindless reasoning is that the little orange "empty tank" light is glowing way too often. In fact, so often, that I fear I'll forget its there. So today, as I'm driving my daughter to pre-school, I notice that light glowing and start wondering how long its been on. Not that knowing would really make much difference, because I have no idea how much longer one can drive AFTER it comes on.

Then, what happens when it really, truly hits empty? Does it just kind of cough, sputter and die, or does an alarm sound allowing the driver one more mile to take evasive action? Does some eerie electronic voice behind the dashboard sound the word "idiot" right before system failure?

Lately, these questions have been really plaguing me. So much, in fact, that I've been contemplating driving around an empty parking lot on an empty glow light until the tanks last dying breath. Just so I don't have to wonder anymore!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A dangerous combination

A room full of tipsy bloggers + a karaoke machine + hidden video camera.

Anyone nervous???

heh heh.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pics of the Bloggers Bash! (updated)









Sorry, I know I'm a little late getting on this train, but just wanted to post a few pics of the Bloggers Bash last night. This particular event was a little more mellow than bashes gone by, but that was OK by me. When I arrived there were 2 tables. All the girls were at one table and the boys were at another. It was hilarious. I snagged a table with my buddy Chef Kev and Billy and knew my draggin butt wasn't moving for the rest of the evening.

Had a super conversation with our old buddy, Matt Jones, who is married to Sandy Gallant of WEEK. He is a very charismatic person and it was fun watching Billy meet his nemesis. Billy and Matt talked like life-long buds.

Turns out Billy has his own version of Desperate Housewifes. Be sure and ask him about it. And a further note: turns out me and this guy had been separated at birth!

Also enjoyed seeing the lovely ladies of blogging, a few of whom eventually mosied on over to the table with the boy cooties. Eyebrows, you just gotta blog about the gyno story... although your expressions might be hard to translate.

It was great meeting "Tales of the River City". Turns out we have LOTS in common, and if a little Peke shows up on my front porch I'll know who to name him after!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I love a flea market!




So today I'm talkin with my homies over on Peoria.com, and it seems a bunch of us took a trip out to the Expo Gardens flea market today. We did a little note comparing and I must say with as much humility as I can muster - I think I got the best "fleas". Ha. Case in point. Check out this ice bucket. They called it "Cubist". No my friends, this is a Fostoria American ice bucket with a rare handle, market value: $80. My price: $12.

Then we have this lovely antique crystal etched lamp with dangling prisms and a hurricane lamp, circa 1930's. (above center). Seller had an appraisal indicating value of over $300. I believe it.. this lamp is awesome! My price- $55.00!

And last but not least check out this old aluminum beverage set. (top) Am I giving away my age when I admit to recalling drinking from a set like this at my Gramma's house? Their price $10; My price $7. Fair market value: Priceless!

Attention all Animal Lovers...

Well we are trying to get our life back in order after laying our little Sofie to rest. The kids are still trying to grasp the lack of her presence but we are moving on. Thank you to everyone who expressed their sympathy and support. It is so comforting to know what dear friends we have in Peoria.

It seems that after any significant loss, the human mind searches for meaning, and longs to make some kind of sense of it all. Last week I opened my heart and mind to the possibilities as to how we can find beauty in something so sad.

One opportunity presented itself when last night at a Halloween party we re-connected with some old friends, some of whom are affiliated with PAWS. The party is a blog post in itself which I will address later with photos!!

I shared some interesting moments with Bill, who along with Lauren Malmberg, shares the significant task of controlling Peoria's unwanted pet over-population down at the shelter. Anyone who loves animals would be moved by some of Bill's words, but that is not the purpose of this post.

Bill, of course, who is forced to oversee the euthanasia of thousands of homeless animals, had a very practical suggestion for me regarding resolving our grief. Two little fluff-balls of one year old sibling Peke-mixes, down at the shelter and available right now to the right family. Now in my heart of hearts, although this is such a tempting tale (pun intended), I feel these are not destined to be our dogs. It's just too soon. But he just raved about how adorable and sweet natured these 2 little guys are. Their photos and stats will soon be on-line.

Several years ago when I volunteered at the shelter, the average dog had a window of opportunity for adoption of approximately 10 days before it would have to be euthanized to make room for more incoming. My guess is that has not changed significantly. I disclose this not for the sympathy vote, but to inform the reader of the extent of the problem here in Peoria, and further, to offer food for thought if one ever becomes tempted to "purchase" a puppy.

Bill also shared with me that PAWS now posts all of its pets available for adoption on the national website petharbor.com. Of course, I had to check it out immediately, and it is a very useful and user-friendly site. In addition to finding your ideal pet, you can post and search for a lost one. My comments above should serve as an indicator of the need for expediency if you see one that "calls your name"!

Please check it out, and next time you get the urge to share your bed with a furry critter, visit www.petharbor.com.

Monday, October 22, 2007

In memory of Sofie ( ? - October 22, 2007)


I would like to thank everyone who wrote me, phoned me, and commented on my blog about my personal struggle with the "end of life" decision I faced regarding my beloved dog, Sofie. Her condition deteriorated rapidly over the weekend and by yesterday afternoon I knew it was time to use any means to end her suffering. Then all I needed was the courage. The courage came in the form of my dear Sister-in-Law, Debbie (my brother Steve's wife). While talking to my bawling butt on the phone yesterday she announced "I'm on my way" and drove down this morning from Chicago. She walked in the house and over to where Sofie lay. I started outlining all the reasons I wasn't "ready" to do the deed. She looked me square in the eye and boldly stated, "Diane, it's time". In our family, Deb is so highly regarded as the voice of reason that I didn't dare defy her.

She called the vet and made the arrangements. I was pretty much useless. When it came time to bundle up Sofie and put her in the car I almost couldn't even walk. Debbie laid hands on me and prayed for God's mercy and peace over the three of us. That gave me the strength I needed to get to the car.

The most amazing part of this story is that on the way to the vets, Sofie was the most comfortable and peaceful I had seen her in 3 days. Even at the vets office she seemed completely unphased by the events. I praise the Lord that he honored Deb's prayer and imparted his peace over us all.

John met us at the vets and when it came time for the end, I had to leave or I was certain to leave an undesireable offering of puke on their floor. John stayed and saw our faithful companion to the very end. He said she never whimpered, winced or flinched and it was over in a matter of seconds.

My heart is truly broken.. but I am comforted by her memories and the knowlege that we will someday reunite. My Dad, always eloquent and sensitive summed it up this afternoon by saying - "Diane, I really think you should lay off the animals for awhile". Thanks Dad, very heartfelt. Only my Dad can get away with talking like that!

If anyone has been touched by our story I would make this request. Sofie was adopted from PAWS. There was no other dog in the world that was more meant to be ours than her. She might not have been pedigreed, or physically perfect, but she was a wonderful loving and powerful influence in our lives. If you have room in your hearts, you can make room in your home for one of the millions of unwanted pets. Please consider adopting your next pet from a shelter rather than a breeder or petstore. Adopting a homeless pet will make a powerful and positive statement to your friends and family about who you are as a person and where your priorities lie. Be part of the solution and not the problem. Some day when I am emotionally ready, Sofie will pass her torch to the next loveable mutt destined for our home. Just as Daisy passed it to her.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It just doesn't seem right....


Last week we got the expected test results back on our little Pekingese, Sofie - advanced liver disease. "A few weeks at the most", Dr. Peterson gently informed me. I knew it was coming. We've had dogs and cats all our lives and I can tell the difference between a tummy ache and something far more serious. Her weight loss was just too dramatic, and the drunken way she walked didn't bode well. This past week I tried to feed her round the clock.. cooking fresh chicken, rice, soup, anything that could tantalize her wasted frame. But tonight, she turned down a ribeye, prepared especially for her - which of course places me in the absolute worse predicament I could possibly imagine for myself. Is it up to me to end her suffering?

Why can't we just let nature take it's course? Dog experts will say that domesticated dogs have forfeited their innate ability to die with dignity. When a wild dog is in the final stages of it's life, they leave the pack, go find a hole to crawl into and quietly die. Our pets do not have that luxury. I'll never forget my Cocker Spaniel one night trying to walk in to the woods behind our house during her final days. I kept chasing after her to bring her back.. only to have her die by injection in a vets office. It just doesn't seem right that the where, when, and how should be determined by me. But then do I just let her lie there, pathetic, wasted and suffering?

As long as I live, as many pets as I love, I will never, ever have the answer to this question. My prayer this evening is that sometime soon she sees the light and follows it peacefully into the night. Thoughts appreciated.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

From the mouths of babes...

Yesterday I was waiting at the bus stop with my K-gartner and we saw a big cricket. He asked "Mommie is that a good cricket or an evil cricket?" I thought about it for a minute and replied "Honey that would be a good cricket because animals and bugs don't have the ability to think evil thoughts.. only humans do". After pondering a moment he further inquired "Then will that cricket go to Heaven?" "Yes, Sweetie, he will." I figure somewhere there must be a cricket Heaven. Then out of the blue "Mommie where do bad people go when they die?" Geez, this is getting tough. "Sweetie, if people make bad decisions all their lives and are mean to other people and have never asked the Lords forgiveness then when they die they will go to Hell." "What is Hell?" "It's a really bad place that you never want to be". His little face became visibly upset. "Whats wrong, Sweetie?" I asked. "Mommie, I think I'm going to go to Hell"! OK, I guess I need to change some of my dialogue with him.

Friday, October 5, 2007

He just didn't get it!

Dwayne Bartels, if you are reading this you blew a great opportunity to really help the citizens of Peoria. Your reporting in this weeks Times Observer regarding Peoria Twp. real estate taxes was heavily slanted in favor of the Supervisor of Assessments and Appeal board and against the taxpayers of Peoria. Great job repeating their "talking points". You accomplished nothing other than perpetuate the existance of a confused and under-informed public. Do you really think I'm a "one woman show on a mission?" Did ya even BOTHER to talk to anyone else besides the assessment office? If you did you would realize that the issue of overtaxation concerns far more people than "one woman"! Secondly, please understand my mission: my mission is to "help" citizens understand their tax bill and appeal their taxes if they are overassessed, not to "get" them to appeal their taxes regardless of the circumstances. Was it my talking or your listening that was the problem? We looked for you at the workshop that was PACKED, and with no newspaper advertising, by the way. Very unbalanced reporting. I rest the case I made in my "Real Estate taxes too high?" thread. Too bad.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Metro Centre Fall Festival This Sat., Sept. 29

We did this last year and the kids really enjoyed it. Activities scheduled are balloons and face painters (10 - 2), free popcorn, pumpkin games throughout the day, Denny Schielein and his Barrelhouse Band (12 - 2), and my kids personal favorite: Trolley Rides! (9:30 - 1:30). The Metro Centre is located at the corner of University and Glen in Peoria. Should be a nice time and a beautiful day!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

PEORIA TWP. REAL ESTATE TAX APPEAL WORKSHOP - Monday, Oct. 1 - 7:00pm

If you just recieved a NOTICE OF PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT INCREASE for Peoria Twp, and you feel your new assessment is unfair or too high, we have a solution.

Tim Johnson, Tamara Krupps, and Diane Vespa of RE/MAX Unlimited will be hosting a free tax appeal workshop at their office next Monday evening, October 1, at 7:00pm. Guest speaker will be Bob McQuellon, a specialist in real estate tax appeals. He will offer Peoria homeowners some tips on successfully appealing your taxes, as well as offer a free evaluation on your chances for a successful appeal. Mr. McQuellon can also be hired privately to appeal your real estate taxes on your behalf. All necessary forms for filing a tax appeal will be reviewed and provided. There is no charge to attend this event however advance reservations are required. Please call 309-687-4960 for further details and to make your reservation. RE/MAX Unlimited is located at 3622 N. Knoxville Avenue, Peoria. (the corner of Knoxville and War Memorial Drive.) You can only enter the parking lot by heading North on Knoxville. Hope to see many of you there!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Real estate taxes too high? Speak now or forever hold your peace!

Its the least wonderful time of the year... when Peoria County rolls out their new tax assessments. Chances are, you got socked pretty good this year. How do I know? My experience has shown that it is directly proportional to the number of people who call me and ask for help protesting their taxes. And this year has been a doo-sie. Coincidentally, (ha!!!) The Board of Appeals has also changed their rules to make it more DIFFICULT for you to appeal. But fear not, I will simplify things and impart upon you the small amount of knowledge you need to successfully appeal your taxes.

First of all, if you live in Kickapoo or West Peoria Twp, you can STOP reading. Its too late to appeal your taxes for the 2007 tax year (payable 2008). If you live in Peoria, read on - you have until October 18. IF YOU DO NOT APPEAL YOUR TAX ASSESSMENT BEFORE OCTOBER 18 OF THIS YEAR DO NOT COMPLAIN WHEN YOU GET YOUR BILL IN JUNE 2008.

First step, go here and read. Here is a tip - if you don't understand something you read there, The Board of Review office isn't really that interested in explaining it to you. Somehow their phone gets disconnected before they have a chance to say "goodbye".

Step 2. Download this form and this form for residential real estate. Tip: If you also choose to download the RULES, you will notice that it states "It is strongly recommended that the taxpayer discuss his/her assessment with the Township Assessor prior to the filing of a complaint with the Board of Review." Do not be fooled by this... this is only so they have a chance to talk you out of it. A phone call of this nature will not lower your tax assessment so don't waste your time!

Step 3 - You must form a basis for your complaint. There are several ways to accomplish this. The easiest is to totally SUCK UP to your Realtor and ask them to provide you with comparable sales via the Multiple Listing Service to support a lower assessment. They should be happy to oblige and most likely will not charge you for this service. If you have been a chronic FSBO all your life you might be on your own for this one. You will then have to trot on down to your friendly Supervisor of Assessments office which is on the main level of the courthouse and rummage through Subdivision files, looking for recent sales of homes similar to yours that support (not defeat) your claim to a lower tax assessment. Don't forget to bring your readers. I have found the folks at this office to be quite consistently helpful and personable.

Step 4 - Fill out the aforementioned forms.

Step 5 - Trot back down to the Supervisor of Assessments Office and ask for the PROPERTY RECORD CARD for all of the homes you used as comparables. This will cost you a few dollars and if you do it over the lunch hour it can be quite an experience. The form will ask you if you wish to appear for a hearing or if they should decide on what you submitted. TIP - Ask for a hearing but prepare for them to decide without you. This is because when they send you a hearing time and you are not available (um, well like, maybe... YOU WORK!) they will NOT reschedule but will instead base their decision on what you submitted. Even though you requested a hearing. This is the Peoria Supervisor of Assessments at work to serve you!

Step 6 - Attend your hearing. Do not allow them to intimidate you. Be polite and prepared. It is possible they will reach a mutual agreement with you then and there to a lower assessment. If not, you will recieve a notice of their decision via snail mail.

Step 7 - If you are denied, and you still feel you are right, you can take it to the State level of appeals. I will reserve that commentary for another post. If you have won, put a 6 pack of Corona's on ice and give me a call!

Suffice it to say I am intimately acquainted with every one of these steps, because I have found that Peoria has a tendency to overassess, particularly in newer areas on the North side of town. It is your RIGHT and OBLIGATION to keep your assessments fair and reasonable. I have contacted the Peoria Journal Star and the Times Observer to do some reporting on this subject, as I have found it to be an issue that is very significant, yet under-reported, and therefore, leaves the average Peorian ignorant of the process and helpless to the whims of the Township Assessors. Neither news media has responded. So, I leave it to the blogging and internet community work their grass roots magic and get the word out to help our fellow Peorians!

Monday, September 17, 2007

What is wrong with this picture?


So tonight after the CUBS WIN!!! I am watching Fox News and they are doing a piece on the recent arrest of OJ Simpson, and lo and behold, who are they interviewing but none other than racist and Fox News correspondant MARK FUHRMAN! How can this be? Couldn't even the most uninformed person over the age of 30 tell you that if it wasn't for Mark Fuhrman the only image we would see of OJ would be that of him on DEATH ROW? I would love to see Fuhrman's resume for when he applied for this gig. Racist, perjurer, obstructor of justice. You're hired!! OK fess up, who lost the bet?

Ordinarily, I have a lot of respect for Fox News and how they have single-handedly changed the landscape of the News media as we know it, but why do they de-value themselves by hiring the likes of Mark Fuhrman and Geraldo Rivera? Thank God they at least had the sense to get rid of Rita Cosby. Can someone please give Rupert Murdock a ringy-dingy and knock some sense in to him??

Thursday, September 13, 2007

So much to do - so little time!


The Peoria Park District Fall Winter Playbook is now available! I look forward to this publication every season. It is so enjoyable to check out the various classes and imagine the possibilities if I had no kids or job. But since I have both of those.. they are destined to remain just that - a fantasy. So here they are, in no particular order - the top 5 Activities I'd like to participate in through the PPD!

1. ADULT, INFANT AND CHILD CPR - American Red Cross Building - $55

2. STAGING YOUR HOME FOR TOP DOLLAR- Sterling School $17

3. COOKING CLASS - HORS D'OEVERES - the Bronze Frog - $35. Hey, is this taught by our own Chef Kevin? Me thinks so!

4. SWIM FOR FITNESS- LOW IMPACT - Riverplex $32

5. BALLROOM DANCE -Owens Center - $62

And here are a few you wouldn't catch me dead at.

COMPUTERS FOR MATURE ADULTS: There isn't enough Red Bull in the world that would keep me awake for that one.

BOW MAKING. - I'm thinkin that doesn't need an explanation.

CAKE DECORATING FOR BEGINNERS - Heres all you need to know about that subject: Make, Bake, Eat.

ADVANCED OPEN WATER SCUBA - don't you people read the papers?

BE A NIFTY KNITTER (See comment for Bow-making)

Pick up a copy of the Fall/Winter 2007 Playbook or visit their website for the details!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Great Peoria based blog focusing on mental health

I can't remember what I was googling the other day, but this great new blog popped up in the search results. The author is a local Peoria therapist/counselor, and although I don't know her personally, she has a great reputation. From her bio it looks like she is an author, and all of her blog posts are original and filled with great advice on living and feeling well. God knows we can all use some of that! Anyhoo, thought I would give credit where credit is due and recognize this nice blog that is nothing but pleasant and helpful! Cause we all know you aren't going to get that here!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Girl kicked off plane cause her tootie was showing.

This cracks me up. Matt Lauer was interviewing some hot blond chick about her recent flight from LA on Southwest Airlines. The hot blond was lamenting how she suffered extreme humiliation due to the flight crew asking her to leave the plane due to inappropriate attire. Matt teased the audience for a few minutes by saying the girl was wearing the exact same outfit as she was wearing for the interview. His outraged tone led the viewer to believe that this girl must be wearing a habit (attire worn by a Nun.) So finally he asks the camera crew to reveal what the young lady is wearing, and lets just say she ain't no Polyanna. But the the really funny part came when she had to sit down for the interview. Her skirt was so short they had to bleep out her crotch area, a-la Britney Spears wearing no panties. Obviously, the men on the plane were getting more than a bag of peanuts as their treat for the day.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Can we just call a do-over?

Lately I have been experiencing a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Every day on the news there are more images of recalled toys, contaminated with lead, that I know are lurking somewhere in our home. First, the confession... I am an over-indulgent parent. My husband is innocent of all charges. It is purely my fault. Can't explain it. Maybe I just love the look of pure joy that comes over their faces when they get something new. Maybe I'm trying to satisfy some void from my childhood. Who knows, but whatever the reason, for the kids, we just gotta have it.

It started with Thomas the Tank Engine. Our boy was 2. Every one of those engines has its own name, demeanor and history. If you get Thomas, you have to have James. And if you get James, it would be a shame to not have Gordon. And do you know that there is a snow covered Thomas, a bee covered Thomas, and a spilled paint covered Thomas? Yup, there is. I wish I were kidding. These toys by their very design are engineered to be big black holes that you continue to throw money into. I swear I think I noticed a trader from Wall Street following us around and recording our purchases. From Thomas Train we graduated to Geo Trax, and then on to Pixar Disney Cars. Every one of these lines has now had recalls due to unsafe levels of lead.

Enter: Pink. A whole new estrogen-driven obsession. Dora, Nick Jr. and all their friends, and of course, their playsets. Oh, and don't forget about Barbie, who has an entire section dedicated to her at Toys-R-US!

So there you have it. Got the picture? We have gazillions of toys. Some leaded, others unleaded. The recall lists are pages long. Mattel expects you to run around and check every serial number, every detail of every toy against these lists. Yes, we are to trust their product safety department that the lead is ONLY in the pieces that they say so.

Note to Mattel: It ain't going to happen! Instead, lets call a do-over! How about if we just load up all the toys from any manufacturer that has had lead recalls, ship them back to headquarters at their expense, and they just write me a check. Plus the $30. it is going to cost to have the kids lead-tested at the Public Health Department. Oh, and while they are at it, they can send someone out to help me hold them down.

I can imagine the conversation.. Me: Yes, I would like to return all of these toys for a refund. Them: No, maam, we are just replacing them with a safe product. Me: But I would prefer a full refund. I don't want them replaced. Them: Well now, that's not fair, your children have had the benefit of playing with these toys. Me: But now they have lead poisoning. Them: So? they still got to play with the toys!

OK, so many parents are in this boat now what do we do about it? The Peoria Public Health Department is offering lead testing to all Peoria County Residents ages 6 mths. to 6 years. I called the Peds office and they recommend if you find these toys in your home the children should be tested. Practically speaking, this means every child who has not lived the first 6 years of their lives in a closet should be tested. The lead screening is $15. per child, but free if you have a WIC card or are indigent. Often there are NO SHORT TERM SYMPTOMS of lead poisoning in a child. So just because you have a little Einstein running around does not mean he or she cannot be a victim of lead poisoning.

Another sad fall-out to all of this is it has dashed some of my fantasies of being a grand parent. I always imagined not only our children playing with these toys but our grandchildren as well. Ah, not to be. Unless the little buggers start getting on my nerves!! Just kiddin!!

My writing hand is twitching...

I'm working on a new blog entry that I'm anxious to finish... Just haven't had the time. So far all I have written is the key words *China* *killing* *our kids*... more later

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Quit the bitchin' and start snippin'


Here is a quick easy way to help out your District 150 School. Bring your box tops to Sam's next Saturday September 8. We will be collecting the box tops from the products you purchase as well as accept box tops you can clip from home. District 150 receives 10 cents per box top, which in past years has resulted in over $7,000 for Kellar School alone - 100% of which is spent directly on the kids! Look for the logo that you see at the top of this post and snip! For more information on participating brands, as well as ways to earn box tops that don't involve scissors, visit the box tops for education web site. . You can find Box Tops on brands such as Cheerios®, Betty Crocker®, Pillsbury®, Ziploc®, Kleenex®, Hefty® and more!

Friday, August 31, 2007

What do I need to do to get a little windshield washer solvent around here?

Well now that I have finally stepped down from my soap box over the bus fiasco, I am ready to move on to the next community service project; service stations. More specifically, service stations that do not regularly maintain their windshield washer solvent containers. Those stations that lack regular maintenance in that department should not legally be allowed to refer to themselves as "service stations" but rather just stations. It was one thing when you could fill your tank for $20 bucks. But now that one must literally hemorrhage dollar bills for a fill-up we better damn well get 25 cents worth of solvent.

Case in point: Marathon Station, today, corner of University and Northmoor. The entire front of my car is a curtain of bugs from our last minute sprint to Chicago to see the Oprah Winfrey show. I have about 4.2 minutes to dash to my first appointment. Of course, no solvent. Why is this just never an emergency to them?? So I stomp in and announce there is no windshield solvent in any of the bins. The attendant treated it with the degree of urgency that it merited, and grudgingly hauled out a bucket of diluted solvent. God forbid they waste an entire 99 cent container of solvent in one pop. The attendant looks in the bin, sees that there is still 1/2" of water remaining in there and states "You said it was empty"! Me: It is empty, thats not solvent, that is fly soup. Have you ever got a whiff of that stuff when it gets down to the end? I swear you can smell it whafing in to the car from the A/C vents.

I would just love it if one the Peoria portals (peoria.com?) could set up a forum where citizens can share information on the status of the local windshield washer solvent dispensers. I'll bet they would get some HUGE page counts on that one.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Live blog from the Crowne Plaza in Chicago

Present are Tamara Krupps, Laura Martin, Tori Michaels, and yours truly.

Tamara: I have established my dominance over this herd

Diane: I am not sleeping with chicks

Laura: a weak "hi" thats all she's got

Tori: Wishin you'd get off that damn computer

We will be off bright and early to see the Oprah show. Taping 7:00am... wakeup call...5:00am....

Thanks to Aspen who just brought our bottle opener. Tamara has not mastered the art of opening Corona's with her teeth. here's a "shout out" to all single dentists - more later

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I am having an emotional affair...

I confess. Here it is in black and white: Redbook, August 2007, "When you share your innermost thoughts, funny jokes, and interesting personal experiences, save them up and spill to someone other than your spouse, you are having an emotional affair." So folks, there it is. Up until now, I thought blogging was just innocent fun, but thanks to Redbook, the light has now been shed on my sinful ways. So lest I be judged as a harlot, I will now limit my comments and posts to facts and statistics. No longer will readers be privy to any of my personal thoughts, and jokes are purely out of the question. I request that you adhere to these new procedures when commenting, likewise. Thank you for your cooperation.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

and I ain't talking about Christmas. A complete and total peace has settled over our household. A warm contented feeling of a job well done! We have successfully nurtured the kids through the pre-school years and the first is off to Kinder-garten! Whoo-hoo! Most who know me predicted tears, gut-wrenching sobs, a classic scene of a distressed mother outside her child's classroom. Don't get me wrong, I saw plenty of that-I just wasn't among them. One distressed Mom looked at me with her tear-streaked face and commented "It's tough isn't it?" Me: "Uh, no". I mean seriously, consider the alternative. Our family and friends have seen plenty of tough situations over the past few years - prematurity, childhood cancer, autism. So much that I'm just not going to mourn my kid going off to K-garten. Instead, I'll experience this milestone with the joy and celebration that it deserves! And if at some point over the next week or two a lump develops in my throat, I'll just lift my lower leg, bend it at the knee, and kick myself hard in the a**!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Relationship Advice - Cheap!

While waiting in line at Kroger's I usually ignore the headlines screaming out from the rows of tabloids. Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson and the likes of them are silly, empty headed ninnies with a warped opinion of their own relevance as far as I'm concerned. But put a compelling story of Brad and Angelina on the cover and I'm buyin it! The reason for the fascination should be somewhat obvious...Brat Pitt is... well, Brad Pitt. And Angelina is so complex it is just downright fun to try to apply the Freudian theories one learned in High School to explain her behavior.

Last week, one of the tabloids reported that Brangelina is on the outs. They just can't seem to get it together. A hard concept to comprehend when you figure each of them has just about anything they could ever possibly need or want. So what could be eating at them? I've been giving their relationship a little thought, and just in case they read my blog, thought I'd pass along these little pearls. Hey, if it works out, I might start a column along the lines of the Ladies Home Journal's "Can this marriage be saved?" My emphasis though would be on Peoria couples, of course.

First off, Angelina needs to make up with her Dad. If she sees no benefit to herself, then she should do so in the pure interests of the children. Children should not be deprived of the wisdom and guidance that can be provided through loving grandparents. Holding on to her anger for his past transgressions would only mete out further harm and negative kharma upon herself and her family.

Secondly, she should put all further adoptions or biological children on hold until she comes to terms with whatever is eating at her 98 pound frame. My hunch is that she is overcome with guilt over breaking up the marriage of Brad and Jennifer. Her image in the world of a compassionate generous and influential humanitarian just doesn't jive with her stealing another woman's husband. Mother Theresa wouldn't have even thunk it! To preserve her image and to prove to the world that her first priority is to save it, I think she should separate from Brad, give Brad and Jennifer a chance to reconcile, and if neither takes the bait, then she can freely claim Brad.

Finally, Brad should do absolutely nothing other than work out, eat right, lay off the cigs, continue to look adorable and be a good Dad to his kids. Personally I don't think he has any flaws other than choosing emotionally unavailable women. Oh, and some of his past dates suggested he should bathe more often, but for Brad, that could be overlooked.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

To kill a cricket....

I love all living things. Always have. In addition to the standard fuzzy pets such as cats, dogs and rabbits, when I was a kid I had iguana's, chameleons, frogs, turtles, snakes... plus a myriad of other species that have mercifully faded from my memory. Last January when we discovered the telltale signs of mouse biology in our basement, I insisted on live trapping them, and driving 3 miles in to the country to let them go.

I am now faced with a terrible moral dilemma that is threatening the very foundation of my sanity. A cricket has taken up residence in our bedroom. And he does quite proficiently what crickets do. He sings. All night. Starting at 1:00a.m. And this one ain't no Mariah Cary. You know how you can hear crickets sing through a closed bedroom window even with the fan on? There is a reason for that. They are LOUD. Very LOUD. So I sleepily get out of bed and walk in the direction of the cricket noise. And the damn thing shuts up. So I start moving furniture, books, blankets, anything I can get my hands on that is coming from the direction of Mr. Cricket. No cricket. Cunning little shit.

Now, I remember this happened to me once back in college. At that time, I was so frustrated with the situation I finally resorted to the can of Raid and started spraying. Big mistake. For the next 2 nights I was subjected to the weak pathetic songs of a dying cricket. I had been so filled with remorse that had I been able to find him I would have taken him to the vet. So, no, not going to fall in to that trap this time. I'll just pick up my pillows and blanket, and move to the sofa until such time that nature takes its course and that cricket dies a natural death. Anyone know the approximate life span of a cricket?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

I thought I had heard it all...


My DH and I are the proud parents of a beautiful daughter, now 4, adopted from Guatemala when she was just 6 months old. She has a glorious exotic Pocohontus look with the warmest brown eyes and thick luxurious black hair. She actually looks a little like DH and our son, so when the 4 of us are together we don't get too many curious looks. I on the other hand, with my bleached blond hair, have to field a fair amount of inquiries. Today was no exception when I went shopping at the Super Wally-World in an attempt to fill the school supplies list (that for some reason is always printed in 6 point type) [Note to school administration: some parents are over 40].. a little sidetracked, my apologies... OK so after we were done shopping and were checking out the cashier asked "What are they mixed with?" I'm like, looking at my groceries, the school supplies, my liquor, trying to figure out what the heck she was talking about. Then she repeats the question, and it dawns on me.. she is talking about my Kids! Now usually, I try to be polite and answer probing questions with quiet dignity, but today, I just couldn't muster up even the remotest amount of respect. "Are you serious?" I asked. "Ya think I'm standing here with a litter of puppies?" She averted her gaze and continued to ring up my order.

Now, honestly, I don't think her intent was to be mean or racist, but why should any parent have to answer that? If the kids look like the parents you wouldn't dream of asking about their lineage. My favorite one is "Are they real brothers and sisters? My answer: Yes, they are real brother and sister. Then they go in for the kill. "No, I mean are they REAL brother and sister?" Translation: I want to know who was doinkin who. Then theres the same question with a slight variation..."Are they yours?" "No, I mean are they really yours?" Usually at this point the commenter will sense that they are bordering on rude so they will attempt to diffuse their rudeness with a "oh but they are so cute". Well I'm sorry that means little to me since I think ALL kids are cute.

The first time you hear comments like these it is a little unsettling, but after awhile they just get tiresome.

I'll never forget the first week I brought Jenniffer home. She had a full head of jet black hair that was so thick it looked like it had been glued on. A stunningly beautiful child with a definate ethnic look about her. I was an excited new Mom, deliriously happy, and trying to juggle the two little ones in a double stroller at Bergner's. Out of the clear blue sky a stranger charged in to our world. "Where did she come from?" she bellowed. My mind just dances with all the entertaining ways I could have answered that question but at the time I just submitted to her bullying and proceeded to answer the inquisition.

Now hopefully the reader will not get the wrong impression by my little rant. There is definately a time and place for conversations regarding adoption and related issues and I welcome an in-depth discussion with anyone who is interested in international or transracial adoption. But those discussions should occur at a time and place determined by the adoptive parents, and chances are, it will not be when the kids are around.

We do not make a distinction between our adopted and biological children and neither should strangers. When the time comes to explain the circumstances surrounding our daughters's adoption that information will be shared and explained fully with her and those who love her. It is part of her history, her uniqueness, to be treasured and cherished and shared only by her.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Peoria Public Schools Open House - Civic Center - August 11 - 8:30 - 1:00

District 150 "Celebrating Our Success" is a free open house for the community and parents. It is an informational event regarding programs and other opportunities at Peoria Public schools. Every school will be represented with a booth, along with community organizations that assist area children and families. Door prizes will be provided. Parents can register their kindergartener for the 2007-2008 school year. Join Peoria District 150 for the celebration!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Dog of my dreams


Lately the blogging community has been writing about their pets, which warms the cockles of my heart. Not sure if that is a medical term but if there are cockles in my heart they would be plenty toasty. After reading this post and this one I felt that it would be pathetically remiss if I didn't write a testimonial to my sweet Sofie. So here I go...

Sofie came to us in 1999 at a very sad time in our lives, and I was looking for some lovin from the canine community. She had been left in a kennel outside of PAWS over the weekend, and when the staff brought her in they knew nothing about her, other than she was sweet, cute and flea-ridden. At the time I was a volunteer at Paws, and one of the workers tipped me off as to her presence. When I first saw her she was alone on a concrete floor in a huge kennel. She couldn't have weighed more than 8 pounds dripping wet.. and it was all she could do to lift her head off the floor to observe me, sort of drag herself over to the front of the cage and try to lick my nose through the bars. Whoa. She definately had me at hello.

I had to wait 7 days to adopt her because of the owners right to reclaim. She was adoptable at 12:00pm the next Saturday, and that day I camped out all morning making sure that no one else could beat me to her. Let me tell you that would have been one h*ll of a scene. But alas, she was destined to be ours, and she has been a blessing to our entire family. She is wonderful with all the kids in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, Sofies attributes seem to be more in the looks department than in the brains department. She is just plain not very bright, and I often have to save her from herself. She is completely deaf and we have worked out a series of hand signals for "your food is ready", "time to go outside... for a walk.. for a ride, etc." Every night at the end of the day I gather my pillow and blanket, the remote, some hand lotion and my dog, and we watch TV together in the recliner. Sometimes I have to put her down though because she rotates between incessantly pushing my hand with her nose, or she'll just stare intently at my face for whatever dog reason she has. It scares me to be that loved... as I feel certain that if she really had a grasp on reality I'd disappoint her.

Sometimes when I'm spending quality time with her my thoughts stray back to a few other dogs I have known and loved. They have gracefully passed the baton to her, and although they are no longer part of this world, they live always and forever in my heart.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Dr. William Sears speaks in Galesburg tomorrow

Anyone who has ever in their lives bought a baby or parenting book has most certainly come across one written by Dr. Sears. He is author of over 30 books on parenting including "The baby book", (you know the one that has all the cute baby butts on the cover) and "Attachment Parenting". He has also made regular appearances on over 100 TV shows including 20/20, Donahue, Good Morning America, Oprah, CBS This Morning, CNN, NBC's Today Show and Dateline.

Yes, Dr. Sears and I go back a looonggg way. I have spent many nights alone with him as I struggled to conquer the latest toddler behavioral nightmare. He'll be thrilled to finally meet me. Tomorrow evening he is doing a talk on Family health and nutrition at the Best Western in Galesburg and will also sign books. I'm bringing all of mine and then doubling the price in the garage sale. Program begins at 7:00pm. If anyone wants to cop a ride with me give me a holler!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Now offering Burrito's as Big as your head at Northwoods Mall...

WooHoooooo.... My old college hang-out, LaBamba's brings their authentic Mexican cuisine to Northwoods. LaBamba's seems to get mixed reviews, but I have always really dug it. They have a great vegetarian menu as well as Kids meals. Hope you check them out...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

How to respond to a telemarketer - The Seinfeld way

Thanks to Mahkno on the peoria.com forums for this link. I really needed a good laugh.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hllDWSbuDsQ

Intuitive Parenting


I'm putting all my parenting books in a garage sale. cheap. You know, I just don't need any more advice. From now on, I'm going with my gut. That is what always turns out to be right anyway. My Sister and I talk several times a week. She frequently seeks advice on parenting a toddler. Lately I notice my advice is always the same.. "Whats your gut?" Funny, but she always seems to have the right answer... she just doesn't trust her own intuition. From "Oprah" to "Dr. Phil" and 50 others just like it, talk shows are so quick to point out our shortcomings as parents and individuals...the cumulative effect is that we now continually question our own intuition and ability to do something as natural as parenting.

Why is it so important what the experts think? One time I was telling my Dad about the techniques we were using to curb our child's temper tantrums. I was so proud of myself, certain that I was sounding like a candidate for Mother of the Year. So here he is, a product of the depression, just rolling his eyes... "Isn't that just common sense, Diane"? That sure busted my sails but ya know, he was right.

We don't need experts telling us how to raise our kids! Once we have the first one figured out the theories are all blown to He** by the next one anyway. As I was pondering this whole post on the eliptical trainer yesterday, I thought it could even be fun to write a book. Solicit stories from parents that poo-poohed the experts, went with their gut, and sent their kids to Harvard. I even picked the name of the book... "Intuitive Parenting". Then on a whim, I googled my title. Damn, someone already beat me to it. Maybe its not such a foreign concept after all!

Kind of quiet here..

I saw Chef Kevin out today.. told him that I have really enjoyed his latest posts. I just can't seem to muster anything up myself lately. Perhaps its the sudden passing of my friend and colleague.. I just don't seem to have an opinion. Yes, I've been reading the news, the terrible scene on I74 from a few days ago, the total moron wrestler who just killed his wife and innocent baby boy. Yes it makes me sick. But I just can't seem to find my ever present opinion. It's on a break. Hopefully at a spa somewhere getting a deep muscle massage. When it returns... you'll know.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Somebody please slap me...

Apologies in advance for the triteness of this post, and warn... yes this is yet another post bashing McDonald's. I just can't help myself. A few days ago we stopped at McDonald's for 2 reasons. 1) We were hungry and 2) my son wanted the "Surfs Up" happy meal toy they had been advertising. So I walk up to the counter and ask for a happy meal with hotcakes and orange juice. Reply: "Our breakfast happy meals only come with a sausage biscuit and hash browns". Me: "That sounds gross, can't I sub out an egg McMuffin or hotcakes or something that would only kill a small mouse as opposed to a cow?". Them: "No". So I asked for a copy of their "nutrition facts" flyer, and pointed out that the "happy meal" they proposed packed 590 calories, 40 grams of fat, and ten trillion grams of cholesterol. The "happy meal" that we proposed had 340 calories, 8 grams of fat, and probably only a little cholesterol. Their reply: "NEXT..."

So to get this straight...ya bathe your childs circulatory system in cholesterol and ya get a toy. Hmmmm... tough decision. Felt kind of like a stick-up. Every time we go to McDonald's I swear it will be our last. If anyone sees me there again, please, just slap me!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

RE/MAX has lost one of their finest...

Today, Sarah Tabor, a community leader, young Mother, devoted wife, and friend passed away unexpectedly in her home. Words cannot express what a loss this is to her many friends at RE/MAX and within the community, her family and the countless clients she has served. I am truly at a loss for words. Arrangements are pending..

Thursday, July 5, 2007

If you are ever looking for a fabulous IT company

I have a recommendation for you. These guys really know computers, and are reasonably priced and will solve your computer problems in a jiffy. They are...., oh, never mind, they asked me not to blog about them.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

You want smoke-free?


Here it is, compliments of your friendly neighborhood Public Health Department. A list of all of the smoke-free restaurants in Peoria County. I believe that it was something like a 3-1 margin that Peoria residents voted in support of a ban on smoking in public places. Well, if the same people want to talk with their wallets here is a list of the places who listened. Enjoy!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Praise be to God I have lived to see another day!

All week I have been quietly wallowing in worry as I anticipated an outpatient procedure to remove the remnants of years of sun worshiping. If you can take away one pearl of wisdom from reading this post let it be this.. listen to your MOTHER! Well, D-day was today and the anaesthesia of choice was "conscious sedation". Where the conscious part comes in I can't figure out because there ain't noone who can call where I was consciousness. Never before had I felt such dread over surgery.. and when the nurse asked me what worried me I thought about it for a nano-second and replied "Death"...but even worse... leaving my children without a mother. But alas, I put it in God's hand and came home intact, with all 4 limbs and a much prettier torso.

I feel so relieved and jubilant that everything is over that I felt compelled to write about the wonderful people that helped me today. First of all Methodist Medical Center is awesome. They have treated our families bumps, bruises and warts for years and are consistantly the epitome of professionalism. Although if I had one more person confirm my name and procedure I was prepared to start jacking with them. NO.. I'm not Diane, I'm Susan. ha ha... I'm here for a leg amputation.

Also a big Thank you to Dr. Richard Anderson, my surgeon, he is just a doll. He leveled with me and gave the proper amount of reassurance. Plus he didn't make me take off my skivvies during the procedure. A big high five on that one. Then there was the anaesthesiologist who could have had a role on "ER". It became obvious I was suffering extreme angst when I didn't even care that I looked like crap around him. Yeah, like he really cared...I'm probably old enough to be his Mother ... if I gave birth to him at 12 ;-)


Then there was the cutie patootie who wheeled me in to the OR.. he helped me hang my IV bag on the back of the door so that I could pottie and then helped me back to the gurnee... all the while not even trying to peek at my butt in that ridiculous hospital gown. What is up with that anyway? Why don't they have a butt?? I would love someone from the medical community to give me one damn good reason why those hospital gowns don't have a butt. OK... a little off track...

Then another gigantic high five goes to Emily Diane (that was her first and middle name), the nurse anesthesist. Girlfriend, you rock!!!

And last but not least was the woman who admitted me... a lovely black woman with great hair and nails...(I so wish I caught her name). She had a photo of her son who is currently serving in Iraq sitting next to her, and she got a little teary eyed when I asked about him. She said she gets through her days by putting it in God's hand. Wow, thanks for the reminder! I thanked her for her families sacrifice and she graciously said your welcome. I will pray for his safe return.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Be Nice Peoria project!

The Peoria.com forums are hot on a debate as to what ordinary citizens of Peoria can do to curb the rising rate of violence on the South end. Personally, I don't think its rocket science, but more of a grass roots issue, where a series of small changes among a large group of people may have a collective impact. Here is a list of things that ordinary citizens can do to make a difference.

If you see a young Mom or Dad struggling with their kids, offer to help, instead of glaring at them. If someone wants to merge in to your lane, let them. Smile at people as you go through your daily life, look a cashier in the eyes and ask her how her day is going. If you know of a child in the neighborhood that does not have a mother or father figure around, see if you can make a difference in that childs life. Offer the single parent a night out by watching their child(ren).

Reward those that are trying hard to make ends meet by having them over for dinner, or offering them household items or clothing you no longer need. Consistantly reward and encourage those around you who are trying hard and making good decisions in their lives.. show no mercy to those who don't. Don't allow your child to bully or be bullied. If you see someone doing something wrong, take a stand. Let them know that their behavior is not going unnoticed.

Help your child feel compassion, and understand points of view other than their own. Teach them to respect the world and themselves, and always lead by example.

The world and Peoria are not going to change overnight, but if every citizen takes an oath to be the best person that they can be, we will see results. Pollyanna-ish, I know, but its worth a try! Give it a fancy name (how about "the Be Nice Peoria project"), its own logo, a barrel of ink and some spammers, and see what happens.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Lakeview Museum seeking vintage accessory items for Fall exhibit

This sounds like a blast. If you haven't gone through those dusty boxes in your attic or basement for years, now might be a good time to investigate their contents. Lakeview Museum is currently assembling an exhibit of vintage fashion accessories that will illustrate the way people used to live in Peoria beginning in the 14th century through the 19th century. They are seeking fashion accessories, photographs or artifacts from around the Peoria area. All items will be returned to the original owners following the conclusion of the exhibit. What a great learning experience this should be for Kids!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Find a friend at Petsmart

Sofie, my Pekingese, has a case of the itchies, so I decided it was time to track down that medication that smells like concentrated road oil to slick on the back of her neck. Systemically it kills any cooties, nits, larvae that reside in her furry frock and God knows what else. (I try not to think about that!). Anyhoo I'm out at Petsmart looking for this nasty stuff when my conscience (spellchecked) levitated me towards the cat room. Ordinarily I'm a dog person, cause they poop outside, but these cats were quite compelling. The room was cozy and calm as the kitties snoozed in their little individual crates, but a few pushed against the front in order to cop a little scratch from me. As I petted one, another would get jealous of the attention and then move their furriness to the front of their crate, until everyone of those kitties had a nice little scratch. There were some really pretty ones. One had the grace and blue eyes of a Siamese but a tic-tac-toe pattern of grey and orange... another was a jet black and white one that looked like he was wearing a tuxedo. Some had little bio cards written on their behalf (lump in throat). Most of them were nuetered and de-clawed. If you have room in your heart and home for a cat, you should really check these dudes out. And a big High Five to stores like Petsmart and Petco who do not sell puppies. Instead, both stores provide pet adoption services for local animal welfare groups. Now how cool is that?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Have you thanked a cop lately?

Since I can't get past the Supercalifredjulistic log in requirements of Billys blog, I guess I'll just have to comment here. The blogosphere and the PJStar seem to be all on the same bandwagon of police bashing these days. OK, maybe there is a rogue cop or two out there (as in any industry), but don't defame the whole police department. These men and women are kissing their spouses and kids goodbye every morning and wondering if they will ever see them again. Every traffic stop, ever call to a domestic disturbance, every blaring burglar alarm that they respond to puts them in harms way and their life on the line. Many of the people that they deal with are freaked out, stressed out, mad about something (nothing that they have done of course) and would mete out some significant bodily harm if given the chance. (Sounds a lot like toddlers now that I think about it..no wonder I'm crazy!) Those that criticize them should try working under those conditions for awhile before casting stones.

Parade of Homes...

Peoria is fortunate to have several extraordinary builders in the area, and one of my favorite events of the year is the Peoria Home Builders Association annual Parade of Homes. This event offers our area home builders a chance to showcase their amazing talents by featuring 45 of their beautiful newly-constructed homes open to the public! The homes are open from 1-5 pm on Saturday and Sunday, June 16-17 & 23-24, 2007. As much as I love the event, it seems that I always end up depressed. Ordinarily, I am very content with my life, but after seeing all these gorgeous glammed up decorated-to-the-hilt showcase homes, I suddenly feel inadequate. My home is definately not as clean as the messiest of these, and although I love our decor, I'm as sure as the nose on my face our home won't be in any magazine anytime soon. So I'm driving home calculating morgage payments inside of my head, and coming up with my most pursuasive zingers to use against, uh, I mean to discuss with my hubby. At this point I'm pretty much convinced that we have GOT to move or I will spontaneously combust. I pull in to our driveway, and there are the loves of my life splashing happily in their toddler pool... not a care in the world. All of a sudden, it occurs to me that things are pretty darn good the way they are. I'm back to Plan A!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Peoria makes National News!

This morning I was watching the opening segment of The Today Show when Matt Lauer reported news from Peoria, IL, showing images downtown of birds dive-bombing near-by pedestrian traffic. Apparently there is at least one bird on the rampage and exhibiting psychotic tendencies. The story and images were humorous enough to be deemed worthy of about a 60 second spot on The Today Show. I'd love to see the PJStars "half full-half empty" spin on that!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Peoria.com Members Bash this Saturday at Schooners 4:00pm

The Forum Members of Peoria.com have planned a little get-acquainted bash at Schooners this Saturday in the Beer Garden. Schooners is located at 730 E. War Memorial Drive. The word is that Schooners has awesome pork tenderloins so even if you don't care to meet fellow forum members just come out to eat ;-). Schooners is expecting us and has told me that children are welcome. Please print out your forum picture and attach to your shirt. Oh, And don't try to be clever and just lurk... we'll figure it out. Should be fun. See you there!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Celebrating the music of Jimmy Buffett...


One of my favorite bands, The Boat Drunks, will be playing downtown next Saturday night, June 9, at the Cefcu Center Stage on the Peoria Riverfront. They are a guaranteed good time. The music of Jimmy Buffett is multigenerational and appeals to all ages. The Boat Drunks sing about bars, boats, ballads and beaches. Dress in your most festive and tropical attire and I'll see you there!