Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year, Y'all!

I love New Year’s Eve, because I usually spend time thinking about all the wonderful things that happened this year. (Yeah, I’m optimistic like that.)

So here is my top 16 list of happy moments in 2008 (there were so many; I couldn’t limit it to ten—or even fifteen):

1. Iwanski and I sitting on the balcony of our hotel room at the top of an Arkansas mountain…watching the fog finally clear away so that we can see the fantastic view.

2. My entire family showing up in great numbers for my Grandma’s 93rd birthday party…and my surprised mother managing to pull together a meal for all of us.

3. Finding out that I didn’t have cancer (the best news ever!).

4. Getting a new job that I like so much better than my old job.

5. Iwanski finally quitting his soul-sucking insurance job, after me asking him to quit about a hundred thousand times.

6. Hiking through numerous national and state parks and forests with Iwanski—and seeing a bald eagle in mid-flight at Tower Hill State Park.

7. Enjoying a yummy Hungarian meal (prepared by chef Buck) with good friends…and then enjoying crazy karaoke afterwards.

8. Telling people I was pregnant (in February)—even though I later miscarried, I wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the world. It was just magical to me.

9. My sister Mary, the nieciest niece Sfoofie, and her funny husband, brother, and sister coming down to Chi-town for a whirlwind tour of our city. (I still laugh at the slightly naughty version of “Yankee Doodle,” sung and acted out by Savannah.)

10. Obama being elected President. Whoo-hoo!

11. Calling up my friend Diane on election night, and telling her that the election night souvenir that I’d saved for her was a Care Bears beach ball that people were throwing around.

12. Enjoying a pre-Christmas karaoke party with Danny Wanny, his lovely wife, and hilarious son (that kid could really belt out the “Twist and Shout”!).

13. Driving up Iwanski’s Mom’s driveway on Christmas Eve, to see that she had the leg lamp from “A Christmas Story” in her living room window.

14. Iwanski shedding a tear at a poem that I wrote for him on his birthday.

15. My sister Sheri surprising me with a “Miss Healthypants” t-shirt on my birthday.

16. Every single moment that I spend with my wonderful husband.


And you know what? Even as I tried to limit this list to 10 (and then to 16), I kept thinking of more and more great moments from 2008. Even though there were some sad moments, as well, this really was a wonderful year.

I can only hope that 2009 is filled with as many joyful moments.

Here’s wishing you all the Happiest of New Years!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Homemade Grab Bag

This year, the Iwanski family decided to do a Christmas grab bag with homemade gifts.

Given the fact that I have virtually no talents to begin with, I had no idea what I was going to make. I had Iwanski’s sister, Donna’s, name—and I wanted to do something nice for her—but what to do, what to do? I’m not especially crafty, and I don’t do woodworking, sewing, photography, or cooking. So what on earth could I give her?

So I thought and thought. I guess I could write her something—perhaps a poem would be nice. But I couldn’t just give her a poem for Christmas! I envisioned her sister and other family members spending hours building beautiful wooden items or sewing soft, cozy blankets…and I was freaked out. What could I possibly give her?

Then I remembered something from long ago, tucked down deep inside of me—my inner baker! I remembered when I was a pre-teen, spending hours in the kitchen making cookies or my favorite brown sugar bumps (okay, so those don’t have to be baked, but still—they at least have to be mixed). I used to really like baking. And then I thought, there is something else unique about me as compared to Iwanski’s family. I’m from the land of cheese and beer and Friday fish fries! Somehow I had to think of how to incorporate my “Wisconsinness” into the gift. So what did I do? I decided to bake treats from Wisconsin, the cookies and bars that my Mom used to make when I was just a wee little thing.

It was a frigidly cold day, last Sunday, when I decided to do my baking. While temperatures outside climbed INTO the single digits (with 30-below wind chills), I donned an apron and began to whip up batches of my Mom’s chocolate chip cookies, lazy daisy bars, and farm cookies. The warmth from the oven caused our windows to fog up, as I whiled away the hours measuring ½ cups and tablespoons, and dropping batter by rounded teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets.

And I loved it. I really did. I was so surprised at myself, and I silently thanked Donna for unknowingly helping me rediscover this part of myself that I had long since forgot about. And the cookies and bars themselves? Well, they certainly met with Iwanski’s approval, as he tasted them and said “You know, you can do this more often.” And they really did taste like the treats my Mom used to make. Yummy!

So long story short, I think Donna liked her treats, and the poem that I had written and framed was received well—except for the part where I got her wedding date wrong—doh! (Yes, I had asked someone to verify the date, but she had mistakenly given me the wrong one. I promised to send Donna a new copy of the poem with the correct date.)

And as for the gift I received, from Iwanski’s brother-in-law? Of course it involved some beautiful woodworking and sewing! Doh! But it was so very nice, I didn’t care. He (with a bit of help from his wife) gave me a nice shelf/coat rack with hooks, an extremely soft, warm fleece blanket that I love, and a “zen garden,” complete with a basket, sand, candles, a journal, and a CD that he had burned with songs specifically chosen for their “zen-like” qualities. It was all so wonderful and so “me”! What a great gift!

The other homemade gifts that were given were also wonderful and unique—just like the people that gave them. My favorite Christmas gift of all, though, was getting to spend time with these people who had given so generously of their time to create these one-of-a-kind gifts that will probably always be remembered.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all from the Iwanskis! May your holidays be merry and bright!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Best Gift Card Ever

‘Tis the season for gift cards—and I love getting gift cards. No matter what store it is from, you can be sure that I’ll find something to spend it on. Unless it’s from Uncle Salty’s House of Peanut Shells. No wait, even if it’s from Uncle Salty’s House of Peanut Shells. I could spread peanut shells all over our living room floor for Iwanski’s birthday to make it look like Wrigley Field.

Anyway, one time, I got the best gift card ever.

That Christmas, a friend of mine gave me a gift card for a coffee shop. I like coffee, so I was happy.

A week later, Iwanski and I were in the coffee shop and decided to use the gift card. The cashier rang up the cost, and it was $3.90. I handed her the gift card, confident that there was at least $5.00 on it. The cashier ran it through and said, “You owe 74 cents.”

“What?” I asked, dumbfounded. I looked at Iwanski, and we both started laughing.

“She gave you a gift card for three dollars and sixteen cents?” He exclaimed.

“I guess so!” I replied, handing the cashier the 74 cents. “Oh my God, that’s so funny!” I laughed some more. “I can’t believe she did that!”

Then Iwanski said, “Wait—3.16—isn’t that the Bible verse people always quote? John 3:16?”

“I’ve never heard of that before,” I replied. “What does that one say?”

“Something about God so loving the world, that he gave his only Son so that we might live forever, something like that,” said Iwanski.

“Well, I guess that’s a good thing,” I said. “But I don’t think she’s really all that Christian. I think she just gave me a half-used gift card.”

We both laughed some more and then enjoyed our re-gifted coffee drinks.

Friday, December 19, 2008

MHP Happy Day

I took the day off work today and am having a certified Miss Healthypants Happy Day.

First, I got to sleep in a bit. For those of you who don’t know, I REALLY like sleeping. I would sleep twelve hours every night if I could get away with it. On my days off, I usually roll out of bed around 11:30 or so.

But not this morning. Because this morning I had to wake up early enough for the all-important “getting to the lunch buffet on time.” So Iwanski woke me up at 10:30 a.m. (hey, it’s still better than having to get up at seven), and we left for the buffet at 11:30.

That’s another important part of a Miss Healthypants Happy Day. There must be some kind of lunch buffet involved. I loves me a buffet. (I know, really healthypants of me.) Anyway, today, Iwanski and I tried for the first time a Thai buffet that’s a few blocks from our apartment. The food was really good…but the only problem was that they seated us right smack dab next a couple of dudes. I didn’t like that because every time I got up to go to the buffet, I had to squeeze past them and pretty much had to stick my butt right in their faces. (Awkward!) Iwanski didn’t like that because he is somewhat of a shy person—which means that sitting less than a foot away from two complete strangers made him feel kind-of uncomfortable. Nope, I don’t think we’ll be going back there any time soon.

So when we finally broke away from the two dudes, we headed outside for a long walk in Chi-town. That’s part three of a MHP Happy Day—a long walk with Iwanski. Today’s walk included an exciting obstacle course where we had to figure out how to navigate various puddles of snow and slush that were at nearly every street corner. Lucky for me, I had bought boots a couple of months ago, so my feet stayed nice and dry. Unfortunately for Iwanski, he was wearing his $20 tennis shoes (he calls them sneakers) that he bought at Sears. No, those don’t keep out the water so much. So as Iwanski sloshed along in his sneakers, I danced along the sidewalk in my nice warm boots. Poor Iwanski. He really needs to buy him some of those.

So as you can guess, all of the crazy snow and ice that we’ve gotten lately had really started to melt today. Of course, there’s still plenty of it to go around. To illustrate, here’s a picture of me in Daley Plaza, hangin’ out with the snow. I’d say it’s a safe bet that we’ll still have a white Christmas.



After walking amongst the snow and slush for quite a while, Iwanski and I decided to stop in at Dunkin Donuts for a nice hot cup of coffee. (That’s part four of an MHP Happy Day—a good cup of coffee.) Iwanski and I sat by the window and watched the workers and shoppers of America pass by, while we sipped steaming coffee—regular ole’ coffee for Iwanski, and French Vanilla for me. Ahhh….

Now Iwanski and I have returned home and are doing some “internetting” (a bonus on an MHP Happy Day) and are getting ready for Buck to arrive later on for some drinks and a bit of Christmas partying.

Christmas partying with my two favorite dudes—that will seal the deal on this being one of the happiest MHP Happy Days of all time.

Wine and beer will be consumed, and later on I will fall asleep with visions of Thai buffets dancing in my head…and sleep in late tomorrow, hoping for yet another MHP Happy Day.

Decisions, Decisions...

You, my lovely blog readers, are so funny and creative!

Thank you for all the suggestions of what to call a big group of Santas. Unfortunately, all of your wonderful suggestions made it even harder for me to decide what to call them.

So let me just say this—thanks to all of you, I have many different names that I can call the Santas if I happen to see them again. Perhaps if they are nice, jolly Santas, I can call them a “clauset” or a “blitzen”—or maybe just “Santi.” But if they are mean, violent Santas, I can call them a “buttload” or a “dreamcrusher” of Santas—or even a “clausterf***.”

Maybe tonight I will see the Santas again and get to use one of those words—one can only hope!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho........

What’s more fun than a group of 30 Santas walking down the street yelling “Ho ho ho!” and woo’ing?

Not much, methinks!

And so Iwanski and I today enjoyed the parade of Santas that we happened upon whilst out for our Saturday walk.

And where were all these Santas going?—you may ask. Why, into an Irish pub, of course! And I SO wanted to join them. Holiday cheer + beer = Fun!

However, Iwanski has a doctor’s appointment on Monday, so he’s cramming for the exam—which, of course, means no alcohol this weekend. And as a show of solidarity to him, I am also refraining from the booze. So no drunk Santas for me tonight—unless I happen to stumble upon a crazy homeless Santa weaving down the street. (And that is very possible.)

So as Iwanski and I left the Santas behind and meandered on home, I asked a question that I’d been pondering on for a couple of minutes: “What do you call a big group of Santas like that?” Iwanski and I thought of some names—but we couldn’t agree on any of them. So I ask you, dear blog reader, to please help us come up with this word. This is extremely important. The Santas need a name.

Here are the ones Iwanski and I came up with so far:

A “Merry” of Santas
A “Schtickle” of Santas
A “Pantload” of Santas
A “Pride” of Santas
A “Herd” of Santas
A “Jolly” of Santas
A “Plumber’s Crack” of Santas

Please vote for your number one choice—or make up your own! And don’t delay—the Santas are counting on you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sneezles

I have the sneezles today, just like Lorraine’s cat.

And so my thoughts are coming out like that today—sneezy little bursts. Here we go…

One of my favorite Christmas albums is the Partridge Family Christmas Album. Iwanski hates it. So that makes me like it even more. (I LOVE the song “My Christmas Card to You.”)

Is it bad that I’m looking forward to having kids someday, so that I can just send those really easy photo Christmas cards that people with kids send? I do try to be a bit creative in writing out my Christmas cards, but it does get a little old after a while—especially after about the 20th card…

Since my job has been crazy-busy lately and I need to lower my blood pressure, I am learning how to be Miss Peacefulpants by taking breaks at work. I have realized that a) to my surprise, other people take breaks every day! This is NORMAL. Going and going and going without stopping is actually not a good idea, b) I actually get more done when I take breaks, since I am calmer and more organized and centered, and c) It’s okay to not get everything done in one day. These are all good things! But it’s still a challenge for me to take breaks, as I’d rather be Miss Perfectpants and get it all done really, really fast. But I’d rather not be Miss Highbloodpressurepants, so there you go. I am learning how to take breaks.

Life is good. The weather is crappy-cold and cloudy, but I am warm inside my house, gazing at the beautiful lights on our Christmas tree while Iwanski watches Keith Olbermann joke with Allan Havey (a funny comedian) about Gov. Blagojevich’s hair. Ya’ gotta love living in Illinois.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I Almost Forgot...

How could I forget? My sister Sheri got me the coolest Christmas present!—my very own Miss Healthypants salad dressing! Check it out:



Even the cork has my MHP “logo” on it!



Kudos to Sheri for getting such a fun (and appropriate!) gift!

Cookie Bash

Yesterday was the annual “Christmas Cookie Bash” at my parents’ house. It was quite cookie-riffic!

Here are the parental figures themselves.



Aren’t they just the cutest??

Iwanski and my brother-in-law Rick donned aprons for the baking and decorating event.



(This is the first and probably only time you’ll ever see Iwanski in an apron.)

Here's Iwanski frosting cookies with my sister Sheri.



(This is also the first and probably only time you’ll ever see Iwanski frosting cookies. But that’s mostly because we declared Iwanski a “frosting failure.” He had problems with the ratio of frosting to cookie. Miss Healthypants had to eventually take over his frosting duties.)

Even my little one-year-old niece Nora took part in the festivities (in the eating of the cookies, that is!).



At the end of the day, we had over 400 cookies…



We even decorated a special cookie for my sister Mary’s husband, Andy, who was unable to be there. Andy doesn’t like a bunch of “stuff” (decorating sugars) on the top of his cookie, and he hates red hots. So of course we had to decorate a special cookie for him, complete with the letter “A” written in red hots:



Later, my sister Mary informed us that Andy was very happy with his cookie.



And here are most of the cookie baking and decorating crew. (I’m the smiling cookie-decorator on the far right side.)



It was definitely a fun and successful “bash.”

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Iwanski Rule #17

Ah yes, yet another Iwanski rule has revealed itself.

Are you ready for Iwanski rule #17?

Are you sure??

OK, here it is:

IWANSKI RULE #17

You must not, under any circumstances, EVER use a gift bag to give a gift to someone. You must always use regular wrapping paper to wrap presents. Apparently if you attempt to use a gift bag, your head will explode or something.

I know it’s weird, but Iwanski is quite concerned that using a gift bag might signify that you didn’t put much thought into the present.

Miss Healthypants has attempted to thwart this rule in the past, saying things like, “But it’s a big basket full of bubble baths and lotions—can’t I just use a gift bag?” “No!” Iwanski responds, as if I just asked him if I could stab the cats. No, wait, he would probably like it if I stabbed the cats (since they’re always throwing up on the carpet and committing random acts of mischief). But you get the idea.

NO GIFT BAGS! Or else…you will incur the wrath of Iwanski.

Unless you’re Miss Healthypants, who ignores the Iwanski rules half the time, anyway. (Only she knows that the “wrath of Iwanski” merely consists of a smirk and a head shake.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Miss Tetris-Pants

Hello, my name is Carla, and I am a Tetris addict. Not since Donkey Kong and Pacman has a game captivated me so much.

Yes, that’s right. Pacman and Tetris. I have the most boring taste in video games—not to mention that apparently I’m still stuck in the 80’s.

But there’s just something about Tetris that is so incredibly addictive.

I really don’t know why I like it so much, though. It’s a very spatial game, and I am not a very spatial person. I remember one time back in high school, we had to take these logic tests, some of which involved looking at a shape, turning it around 90 degrees in your head, and circling the shape that it should look like then. Now, I’d always gotten good grades and had considered myself to be a pretty smart person up to that point. But in that part of the test, I was absolutely clueless. I remember being mortified that the “class clown,” who spent virtually all his time drawing cars and airplanes, was finished with that section of the test before I was even halfway through. “Oh my God, I’m not that smart!” I realized. I panicked and started rushing through the questions, guessing on at least half of them. It was a very humbling moment for me.

Since then, I’ve realized that my lack of spatial intelligence explains why I’m terrible with directions and can get lost in my own house. I’m serious—last night I forgot where the bathroom was. Thank God I have Iwanski to guide me.

So anyway, with all my spatial ineptness, why on earth would I like a game that completely deals with spatial relationships between objects?

Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment. But the thing is, I’m pretty good at it. And the pretty, colorful shapes just beckon to me…

Several years ago, I had a brief fling with Tetris, but that ended when our old computer died. Now, I’ve once again began having an affair with Mr. Tetris. And it’s all Facebook’s fault.

Why, oh why did I have to look at the updates of my Facebook friends, only to discover a new, exciting version of Tetris—Tetris Sprint! No, this is not just regular old Tetris—it tests how quickly you can clear 40 lines of shapes. Then I discovered that our friend Boskey had scored a remarkably fast time of 2 minutes, 25 seconds. How on earth had he been able to do that so quickly? I was intrigued. And given my competitive nature, I had no choice. I had to try Tetris Sprint.

Two long hours later, I was able to get my time down to a low 2 minutes, 38 seconds! Whoo-hoo! But it still wasn’t as low as Boskey’s score…damn!

So back to the drawing board—er, computer…and on it went for hours and hours…

And still, after several (non-continuous) hours of game play and a few hours of carpal tunnel pain later, I have not been able to beat him.

Damn. It.

I really would like to win. But there’s one slight problem. Even when I’m not playing the game, I still can’t stop the shapes from going through my mind. And that, my friends, is just a wee bit annoying.

For example, last night, Iwanski and I were watching the movie “No Country for Old Men,” and although I was following the storyline (it kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time), in my mind’s eye, I still kept seeing squares and rectangles floating right on down into the movie. I seem to recall at one point a square fitting perfectly into the divot on Tommy Lee Jones’ cowboy hat.

Later, as I tried to fall asleep, I couldn’t get the shapes to stop. I tried watching t.v., listening to the radio, meditating, and praying. Nothing helped. Finally, I gave up and took a half a Xanax (which are normally reserved for airplane trips—but hell, I needed to do something). Yes, that’s right. I needed to take drugs to help break my addiction.

So this is it—I am officially breaking away from Tetris for at least the next few days. I have to—otherwise, those damn shapes will drive me crazy.

Hmm, I wonder if anyone has ever gone crazy from Tetris?

I’ll tell you something, I don’t want to be the first one to find out.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What I'm Grateful For

Waking up next to the love of my life,
Choosing to snooze for just a few more minutes
So that I can feel his loving arms around me
For just a little while longer…

My morning cup of coffee, sipped slowly
As I sink into our comfy “womb-like” recliner…

Feeling strong as I lift weights
And listen to the funny comments
Of the silly morning WGN-news anchors.

My morning walk to work,
Listening to beautiful music
As I cross the bridge over the sparkling Chicago River.

Resolving an inquiry from a concerned donor,
And receiving a lovely voice mail from the person
Expressing her gratitude for my help.

The smiles on the faces
Of my hardworking temporary staff.

My walk home from work,
Listening to uplifting music
As I look up at the Sears Tower
And the twinkling lights of Chicago.

Walking through the door to my home,
Seeing the smile upon my husband’s face
As we kiss and reunite
At the end of a long day.

My occasional exercise sessions with Buck,
Which feel more like fun chat sessions
Than working out.

A delicious grilled-cheese sandwich,
Dipped into a steaming bowl of tomato soup.

Pondering, smiling, or laughing
At the entertaining blogs
Of my incredible blog buddies.

Spending time with family,
Phone calls, e-mails or visits
That make me feel so loved.

Wonderful spiritual conversations
With my best girlfriend Diane.

Long walks with my love
Through our multi-dimensional city
Exploring new neighborhoods
That we’ve never seen before.

Cuddling up next to my husband
As we laugh at both British and American sitcoms.

Letting my hubby take the remote
And falling asleep on the couch
To the sounds of the evening sportscast.

Waking up to the sound,
“Honey, it’s time to go to bed.”

Feeling his arms around me
As I drift into restful sleep…

And dream wonderful dreams
That could never compare
To the incredible beauty in my life.

************************************

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope that today, you feel yourself surrounded with beauty and love.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Rodents

Maria wrote today about finding a mouse in her home.

Apparently, Maria does not like mice.

I, on the other hand, think that mice are cute. I even think tiny rats are cute (I do draw the line at big city dumpster rats). Just ask Iwanski—when we’re waiting for a train in the subway, one of my favorite things to do is to look for little subway rats darting under the rails. They’re just so damn cute!

I think my love of all-things-rodent stems from the fact that Iwanski and I, in our pre-cat days, had a hamster. I mean, after all, what are hamsters but furry mice with short, stubby tails?

Our hamster’s name back then was Cosmo. And we loved our little Cosmo.

Even though we had barely any disposable income in those days, we made sure that Cosmo was well-taken care of. She didn’t just have a hamster cage—she had a hamster mansion. We seriously probably spent about $300 on a bunch of cages and several feet of tubing for her wandering pleasure. She was one spoiled hamster. But she rewarded us by entertaining us as we watched her run in her wheel or carry food through all those tubes, from one end of her mansion to the other. I just found her really interesting to watch.

One of those cages was an open-air cage with white bars, like a little miniature zoo cage. Cosmo hung out in that cage the most often, and she quickly realized that if she started biting on the bars of the cage, we would let her out to climb all over us and over pretty much anything else in the room. She LOVED that (as evidenced by her biting on those bars every time we were in the room). And in her little hamster way, I think she even kinda liked us.

One night, long after Iwanski and I had gone to bed and were fast asleep, I suddenly felt the tickle of tiny rodent feet on my chest. I sprung up and screamed “Cosmo’s out of her cage!” (Funny how I instantly knew it was her—I didn’t even question that it might be a mouse.) Of course, my jumping up and screaming scared the hell out of our little friend, and she quickly disappeared from the room.

And thus began the search through our house (which, at that time, was a large 3-bedroom apartment). We split up and searched separate sides of the house, hoping to catch a glimpse of her in some tight little space, like behind the couch. But we had no luck. I was starting to worry that we were going to step on her, or that somehow she’d get hurt before we could find her.

Finally, Iwanski yelled from the kitchen, “I found her!” And there she was. Hmm, we found her in the one room in the house with a few tiny food crumbs on the floor. What a surprise.

He carried her back to her cage, and we both watched her climb back through the tubes, to the little room where she kept most of her treasured food.

And we continued to watch her, fascinated as she began emptying her newly-found treasures from her cheek pouches. There was a little peanut fragment, then a piece of a potato chip—and then, interestingly enough, a little piece of foil and a tiny piece of shiny blue paper.

“Why did she pick those up?” I asked, surprised.

Iwanski responded that he had read that hamsters liked shiny things. Hmmm, not unlike some humans! I found that very fascinating.

Finally, when she had finished emptying her cheeks, we went back to bed. My dreams that night were full of cute little creatures.

Cosmo was my first pet, and without really realizing it, I had grown kind-of attached to her. So when she got sick, and eventually died, I was surprised at how sad I was. She was just such a cute little thing.

Iwanski and I put her lifeless little body in a small cardboard box and filled it with all of her favorite nuts and seeds—especially peanuts in the shell. (She really loved peanuts in the shell.) Then we took her to the lake near our home, placed the box among the rocks, and said goodbye to our little friend.

Now, whenever someone says they don’t like rodents, I think about Cosmo and how much fun she was to watch, and to hold as she climbed all over me.

I really did love that little rodent.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Some Cool News

I just wanted to share the news that Iwanski’s new Chicago photo book is now for sale!

If you want to check it out (no pressure to buy, of course!), check it out on Iwanski's blog.

I'm very proud of him!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Feline Public Enemy #1

Iwanski has a new enemy.

She is about a foot tall and weighs about 10 pounds, and her name is Autumn.

Yes, all of the sudden our cat Autumn has decided that she hates Iwanski. And it’s not even that she dislikes him all of the time; in fact, when he is lying down in bed or on the couch, she’ll jump up by him and purr and act all sweet, like she could never harm a fly.

But the minute he stands up or leans over her, she hisses at him something fierce, claws at him, and runs away.

We have no idea why this is.

Why would a cat suddenly hate a human who is nice to her, feeds her, and cleans her litterbox? (God, those cats are lucky!)

And before you start thinking that Iwanski is abusing our cat, just know that it’s so totally not true. The worst thing that Iwanski ever does to the cats is tell them that they’re stinky (which is often quite true).

So what happened then to make Autumn hate him so much?

Could she have had a dream that Iwanski started beatin’ on her?

Could she have imagined that Iwanski attacked her one day and threw out all her canned food?

Iwanski speculates that one day last week, when he sat down on the bed and accidentally almost sat on her, that really freaked her out.

But for a whole week? Do cats really have that long a memory? It seems to me that normally, all these cats remember is the word “hungry,” and what time dinner is. What could possibly have gotten into that cat?

I guess we’ll never know. For now, Iwanski just needs to watch his back, and make sure her claws are trimmed nice and short—because as he has recently discovered, those little switchblade claws can be pretty painful on bare feet in the middle of the night.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Best Blog Buddies

Last night, we returned from a local pub to find a message from a certain Seattleite on our answering machine.

Lorraine and the Neighbor had decided, on the last night of Iwanskifest, to leave a very funny message involving two Iwanskifest carols. The first, “Oh Box Of Gout” was sung to the tune of “Oh Tannenbaum.” The second was actually a song about Miss Healthypants!—sung to the tune of “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.” Iwanski and I listened to them and laughed heartily.

And this was not the first time—Lorraine and her lovely family also left a message a week ago involving an Iwanskifest carol about Iwanski and his love of “all kinds of beer.” It was also really funny.

I just love Lorraine. I think anyone who has met her would agree that she is one of the most fun-loving, friendly people in the world. And she is just such a nice person. I feel lucky that we can call her our friend.

And to think, our friendship—not to mention Iwanskifest—all were made possible by this modern doohicky we call the internet. The internet has brought people together who might otherwise never have met—and I, for one, am grateful for it.

I have to admit, most of the reading that I do nowadays is the writing of my wonderful blog buddies, who never fail to make me smile, laugh, and most of all—think. I love that there are people out there who seem pretty similar to me, but all of whom lead unique, interesting lives.

And today, I’m very grateful for all of you (you know who you are). Thank you for making life so interesting!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What I Love About You

I wrote this poem for Iwanski on his birthday and just thought I'd share it.


What I Love About You

I love the Artist in you,
Who takes beautiful photographs,
Who writes funny and meaningful prose,
Who feels tortured and saddened at times,
And uplifted and energized at others.

I love the Humanist in you,
Who stops to listen to a homeless man’s story,
Who tips hardworking waitresses above and beyond,
Who risks life and limb to stop a woman from being mugged,
And who comforts and holds his wife when she is sad or afraid.

I love the Child in you,
Who loves to watch old Tom and Jerry episodes,
Who likes to eat Cookie Crisp and Peanut Butter Captain Crunch,
Who loves to watch old Popeye cartoons,
And who likes to eat milk and cookies at the end of a long day.

I love the Irishman in you,
Who loves a good glass of Guinness,
Who loves to watch Father Ted,
Who likes to watch Irish football,
And who loves to listen to sad and happy Irish songs.

I love the Country Hick in you,
Who loves to eat biscuits and gravy
And watch Hee Haw and the Wilburn Brothers,
Who loves to take a walk in the woods,
And dreams of playing guitar in a country music band.

I love the Urbanite in you,
Who loves to drink a forty
And listen to Ice Cube and KRS-One,
Who loves to walk the city’s streets
And wander down its back alleys.

I love the Comedian in you,
Who loves to make people laugh,
Who makes his wife laugh every day,
Who writes funny and silly blog entries,
Who brightens people’s lives with his great sense of humor.

But mostly, I love the Husband in you,
That loving person who is always there for me,
Who fills my life with happiness and love,
Who does so much to help me out,
Who will be a wonderful father someday.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I Can See Clearly Now...

After putting it off for years and years (yep, I can procrastinate with the best of ‘em!), I finally went to the eye doctor today.

I seriously didn’t realize how bad my eyes had gotten. It was so bad that when the eye doctor put up the first eye chart and asked me to read the smallest line I could see, I couldn’t read any of them! He even said, “Really? You can’t even read the top line?” Let me tell you, it’s really comforting when your optometrist acts surprised about how bad your eyes are. At that point I started to get a little worried.

Then he mumbled something about having to go “from a 2.25 to a 3.5” (whatever the hell that means), and I had to ask. “Is that really bad? How high up does it go?” And he replied, “Oh, it goes up to 15” (or some number that made me feel really relieved). Thank God! I wasn’t going blind, after all.

So I purchased some new contacts. And since my old glasses were purchased in 1987 (or sometime around then), I also got new glasses. I had told Buck that I would try to find some cool “Tina Fey” glasses—and although the ones I found didn’t exactly make me look like Tina Fey, I still really like them. They have slightly pink frames—which my girly-girl side LOVES. Hooray!

I’ll have to wait about a week for my new glasses and 1-800-contacts to arrive, but tonight I got to put in a trial pair of my new, stronger contacts…and all of the sudden, the world is so bright and clear! I can now see signs from afar that I couldn’t see before—and now I can once again spot crazy homeless people from a couple of blocks away. This is a good thing!

So overall, it was a good experience. Except for one thing—can someone please explain to me why it costs almost $500 for an eye exam and a pair of glasses? Even with my health insurance discount, it still cost $350! What the heck do people without health insurance do? Not to mention people with no money!

Man, I hope our new President can help with this. I mean, I don’t expect him to solve every problem, but can we please make sure that Americans don’t have to walk around squinting all the time? Is that too much to ask of one of the richest countries in the world?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy Birthday to Iwanski!

Today is Iwanski’s birthday, and I just have to say, he really is the best husband and friend a girl could ever ask for.

Here are a few of the reasons why I love him:

Every day, he makes me smile and laugh at least a dozen times.

When I’m sad, he is a wonderful listener and knows just what to say to make me feel better.

He helps so much around the house, and also outside the house.

He is kind to those in need and does not hesitate to help when someone needs him.

He is a wonderful writer and photographer.

He is patient and loving and so much fun to be around.

He is the one person that I can spend every moment with, and never get tired of.


How did I get so lucky?

I guess God just smiled down on me. And all I can say is, thank you, God!

And thank you, honey—you have brought so much joy into my life.

Happy Birthday! I love you!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Happy Days

Have I mentioned that I’m so so glad that I live in the same city as our new President-Elect?

It really is great to be a Chicagoan at this moment in history. The city’s banners proclaim “Congratulations, Chicago’s Own Barack Obama”—and I get all giddy when I see that.

Of course, I’ve always loved being a Chicagoan.

I remember when Iwanski and I decided to move here, and I wasn’t sure what it would be like to live in such a big city—let alone live right in downtown! But right now I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Chicago has such an electricity to it—it’s an “aliveness” that gives you energy and hope. And yet, there is a “homey-ness,” too—a friendliness that makes you feel like it’s okay to have a chat with a perfect stranger. It makes me feel exhilarated as I walk down the street and across the Lake Street bridge to work…and it makes me feel comforted to know that if I slipped and fell on some ice in the winter, a random stranger (or two) would stop to see if I was okay. I just know this is true.

I’ve been to other big cities, but I just haven’t quite felt that sense of friendliness that I have in Chicago.

Of course, just like anywhere, there are people in Chicago who are selfish, mean, or even violent.

But I have to say that it’s very rare that I come across those people. Most Chicagoans that I’ve met have an easy, friendly way about them that is comforting to my soul.

And now, our President-Elect is from this city. And so far, from what I’ve seen, he seems pretty friendly, too. He really seems like a man of the people.

And we Chicagoans are still celebrating. Even though we are slowly getting back to our normal non-election-obsessed lives, we still have that ecstatic thought once in a while that from our very own city came the man who will be the next leader of our country.

And that’s pretty damn good.

One more thing—I feel compelled to share with you Iwanski's newest photo set. I think it captures this moment in Chicago very beautifully.

Happy days are here again…

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

More Cause for Celebration

Iwanski had even more cause for celebration today.

Check it out.

Freakin' Sweet, Dude!

President Barack Obama.

Whoo-hoo!

Yes, it was a historic day in America—and today, I feel really proud and happy—not only to be an American, but also to be a Chicagoan. You can just feel the electricity in the air here in Chi-town, even still today. On our late afternoon walk, Iwanski and I saw many people walking around downtown, still sporting Obama buttons and t-shirts.

Also, we really tried to buy a Chicago Sun-Times or a Tribune today, but they were sold out everywhere. Finally, around 5 PM, we saw a guy selling Sun-Times on a street corner. A crowd had gathered around him, and we even heard a guy say to a friend “Oh, he’s selling Sun-Times? Go ahead without me—I need to buy one of these—I’ll catch the next train.”

I swear, I have never seen newspapers so high in demand here in Chicago. But the Sun-Times in particular had a really awesome cover today. Check it out.



So yes, of course we bought a paper. What a great souvenir of this historic day!

I hope and pray that President Obama will lead our country in a much better direction.

But for today, I am just celebrating. America, ya’ done good.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Day--Hooray!

I. am. so. excited.



Can you tell??

Tomorrow is a historic day in America—so be sure to get out there and vote!

If you need any more reasons why you should get out and vote, check out Iwanski’s blog.

I can’t remember ever being this excited—it’s like Christmas, New Year’s, and the Fourth of July, all wrapped into one day.

Hooray!

Friday, October 31, 2008

New Little Arrival

It has finally arrived!



Name: Creative Zen Mozaic (I call it Fred, for short.)

Weight: 1.5 ounces

Length: 3.1 inches


Yes, it is finally here! My long-awaited new MP-3 player.

Now I have to go through the process of loading all my music onto it. That should be fun. I should be finished about mid-February.

But I’m not complaining! I’m very happy to have it. This morning I listened to “Above and Beyond” by Buck Owens, “Shooting Star” by Bad Company, and a beautiful recording of “Shenandoah” by the Boston Pops. (Can you tell I have all the “B” artists’ songs loaded onto there?)

I’m so glad to have my music back. Now I can stop whining about it.

I guess I’ll have to find something new to whine about now! I’m sure Iwanski will be thrilled.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Memo from Miss Sicklypants

Dear friends,

Yes, I am once again Miss Sicklypants. My sinuses are swollen to the size of small canteloupes. I’ll tell you, it ain’t pretty.

Anyway, while I spent the day sleeping and trying to breathe (always a fun time!), I had some time to ponder the events of the past weekend.

Last weekend, Iwanski and I had the opportunity to visit the city of Green Bay, Wisconsin, to see my good friend Diane. First on the Friday evening agenda was the grand tour of Chateau Diane. Chateau Diane was in a beautiful residential area with many trees and many nosy neighbors. (As Iwanski and I arrived a bit early—before the arrival of Lady Diane—we were witness to the suspicious stares through a couple of the neighbors’ windows.)

The inside of Chateau Diane was beautiful and also very clean. Oh, to be in a new house! I looked at her pristine carpet and thought about our living room carpet, which is always dotted with a few cat-vomit stains (those damn cats!), and I felt slightly jealous of Diane.) I know, I’ll just have to convince Diane to get a cat. That’ll even the score. (Muh-ha-ha-ha…)

Iwanski, Diane, and I then trodded off for a tour of neighborhood bars. First came “The Bar,” which is apparently the “place to be” in Green Bay. It was loud and smoky with bad music (No, “Cottoneye Joe” by Rednex is not good music!)—the highlight of “The Bar” was when Diane approached a complete stranger and asked him if he had been my first boyfriend (hey, he looked like him!). Of course he wasn’t. Diane loves to embarrass me like that. And then Diane embarrassed both Iwanski and me by beating us both at pool. That was fun.

The next couple of bars were no less smoky, but definitely smaller and more like down-home neighborhood bars. Iwanski and I liked that. We even saw a very drunk guy yelling at a woman in a Chicago Bears t-shirt about how stupid she was for thinking that Obama was born in this country. Yeah, buddy—she's the stupid one.

The next day, we woke up early to a lovely breakfast cooked by chef Diane, and then headed over to her childhood home. Shortly after arriving there, we had a fascinating impromptu course in bee-keeping taught by her very gracious Dad, Hank. Hank owns about 40 bee-hives and after more than 30 years in the business, knows about everything there is to know about bees. We stood next to the hives and watched the bees buzz around as Hank told us tales of the queen bee, worker bees, drone bees, and nurse bees. Honestly, it was quite interesting. Iwanski and I kept asking more and more questions, and Hank was kind enough to answer all of them. Later, we also were entertained by the thick Wisconsin accent of Diane’s mother, who, when giving directions, talked about turning at the “stop and go-ah” lights. They were very nice people who—it turns out—are also voting for Obama. I love to see that!

The rest of the day, Diane acted as our gracious tour guide as we visited many Green Bay sights, including the Wildlife Sanctuary, an oil & vinegar store and a chocolate store (yay!), and of course, Lambeau Field. Oh, how exciting it was to see Lambeau Field. It was so exciting that I almost became a Packer fan again. (Yeah, right! Go Bears!)

Wow, now that I think about it…with all that excitement, I didn’t really get a chance to rest and get my 12 hours of sleep that I normally get on both Friday and Saturday nights. No wonder why I’m sick!

Well, today I slept about 14 hours. I think I made up for it. I should start feeling better soon.

Yours in health (cough, sneeze!),

Miss Sicklypants

Thursday, October 23, 2008

And Yet Another Spam Story!

I almost forgot, I have another Spam story to share!

Many years ago, on the Late Show with David Letterman, Letterman would sometimes give away hams as prizes to members of the audience.

Why hams? I have no idea. But it was funny.

Around that same time was our big day—the wedding date for Iwanski and Miss Healthypants. After the ceremony, wedding guests arrived in the reception hall carrying beautifully wrapped presents and cards.

Iwanski’s Mom came in carrying a box with at least a half a dozen cans of Spam and one big canned ham.

“Mom, what are we supposed to do with this?” Iwanski asked incredulously. I just laughed.

“Well, I thought you could hand them out or something,” my mother-in-law replied.

Later, after dinner, the box of Spam and ham was still sitting there.

We had to figure out some way to get rid of them—or else risk having to take home a big box full of Spam (and ham). God forbid!

So finally, we decided on a Spam plan.

Iwanski’s sister and I got on the microphone and started repeating over and over again, “Ham, ham, ham, ham, ham, ham, ham…”

As we did that, Iwanski ran around handing out Spams to friends and family, while the crowd laughed. After he handed out the last Spam, he reached for the big canned ham and held it up to the sky.

A collective gasp of “Ahhh” came up from the crowd.

He then proceeded to run around with it for few minutes, almost giving it to several people before finally handing it to my brother-in-law, Andy.

The crowd laughed and laughed.

I have to thank my fun-loving mother-in-law. Because of her, Spam--and Iwanski--had created a funny memory.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Spam!

Last week, Spam was on sale at Walgreen’s, for $1.99 for a 12-ounce can.

I have no idea if this is a good deal or not, since I don’t eat Spam. Ever. Ever, ever, ever, ever.

Nevertheless, I said to Iwanski, “Spam’s on sale.” I just felt like it was something I should tell him.

So who are these crazy people that are buying Spam at reduced prices? Who exactly is Walgreen’s marketing to?

Wait a minute, I HAVE had Spam at least once within the past five years! Yes, indeed I have! My wonderful Wisconsin mother includes Spam in her famous recipe for “pizzaburgers.”

Now, I know you’re dying to hear her whole “pizzaburgers” recipe…so I would be remiss if I did not include it here:

**********************************************
1 LB. Ground beef (Browned & Cooled)
1/2 LB. Spam
1/2 LB. Mozzarella cheese

Grind or dice the above and mix together well
with the hamburger.

Add: 1 can tomato soup

Then add: 1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tbsp. parsley flakes
2 tbsp. onion (minced)

Mix well and spread on each side of hamburger buns.
Place open faced on Cookie sheet.
Bake at 450* oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until cheese gets bubbly.
*************************************

I know what you’re thinking: “Spam in ‘pizzaburgers’?” But it’s good! Trust me. Well, at least I think it’s good.

Wow, I just wrote a whole blog entry about Spam. That’s it, folks—I am officially tapped out.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's A Keeper!

What’s the weirdest thing that you’ve ever kept for years and years?

I bet I can beat them all.

And no, I’m not talking about the ten years of basketball, baseball, and football preview magazines that Iwanski for some reason insists on holding onto.

I’m talking about a HOT DOG that was sitting in a desk drawer for SEVEN YEARS.

That’s right, I said a HOT DOG, IN A DRAWER, for SEVEN YEARS.

Iwanski’s Mom thought that it would be just wonderful if she could keep one of the last hot dogs sold at the old Comiskey Park (which was torn down in 1990).

So she kept it. In a wrapper. In a desk drawer.

Years later, when Iwanski and I were given that desk, his brother-in-law Tony (who had helped move the desk) told him, "Your Mom said she kept the last hot dog sold at Comiskey in the bottom drawer of the desk. She thought you might want it."

And did Iwanski want it?

Well, not really. But hell, since it was there, he had to take a look. He carefully unwrapped the package. According to him, it had basically "mummified." (That should tell you how many preservatives and chemicals are in a hot dog!)

And what happened next?

Iwanski sent the hot dog to its grave in the bottom of the trash.

Thank GOD it’s gone.

If You Care About Chickens

If you want a laugh, check out this link to today's bit of Iwanski wackiness.

Although I myself don't think it's EVER appropriate to joke about chickens, he's gone and done just that.

Enjoy!

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Rough Stone Amid Diamonds

Whenever I tell a new acquaintance that I live in downtown Chicago, their first reaction is usually:

“Wow! Right in downtown?”

To which I reply, “Yep, right downtown.”

Then they look at me as if seeing me for the first time—and I swear, I can see the dollar signs lighting up in their eyes.

It’s true, we do live in a really nice area of Chicago, in a modern high-rise building with a doorman, a pool, and an exercise room—the whole shebang, if you will.

However, we wouldn’t live here if it wasn’t reasonably priced. And extremely convenient—so convenient we don’t own a car. (Just think of all the money that saves us!)

And truth be told, my husband and I are not exactly what you would call “the elite.” Actually, we are quite the opposite of that. I like to shop at Target, eat grilled cheese sandwiches, and watch old episodes of “Hee Haw” on t.v. I am SO not the “rich person” people think of when they think of living downtown.

To illustrate this, let me tell you about the coffee table in our living room.

This coffee table has been with us the whole time we’ve been married, and we don’t plan on ever giving it up.

It’s really old and worn, and the wood is so chipped that it has almost more chipped areas than unchipped areas.

But I have really grown to love this table.

I remember back when I was first dating Iwanski, and I decided for the first time to spend Christmas with his family. Even though my Mom and Dad were not happy to not have me with them for Christmas, it turned out to be a great introduction for me into the wacky Iwanski family.

That Christmas was in the house that Iwanski grew up in (which is now owned by another family), and our beloved coffee table—still owned by Iwanski’s parents--sat in the middle of the front room. (I never heard of a “front room” before meeting Iwanski. For those of you that don’t know, it’s basically a living room in the front of the house.)

We all gathered in the front room, and presents were piled on that table. I remember that John’s female cousin—who for some reason always enjoyed buying new underwear—was presented with a gift box containing a bunch of old granny panties. She got a puzzled look on her face and just said, “Oh, gee, thanks” until the gifter (I think it was Iwanski’s Mom) just started cracking up.

So it wasn’t just Iwanski who was wacky, after all—it was his whole family! And I remember that the coffee table was in the center of all of it.

Years later, when we were given the table, I was grateful, but I didn’t think much of it. We had other hand-me-downs, too, so it wasn’t a rare item.

But eventually, all of our hand-me-downs were replaced by new furniture. We got a new computer desk, a new sofa and recliner, and a new bookshelf. But we still had the same old coffee table.

I remember when we first bought our new sofa and recliner, and a coffee table in the furniture store showroom caught my eye. I wanted to buy it, but fortunately, Iwanski had the level head to say, “We just spent (however much money it was at the time). The old coffee table will do for now.”

Later, at home, I thought the coffee table looked strangely out of place with the new furniture.

But then I sat and looked at it for a few minutes.

It was the table we had when we were first married.

It’s the table our cats love to climb on (and Iwanski likes to yell at them to get off of).

It’s the table that held our meals for many years before we had enough room to put up a small dining table.

It’s the table that holds our magazines and books and sodas and beers and assorted snackies.

And I began to think, “I really like this table.”

And now I don’t think I could give it up.

But maybe someday, we’ll think differently. Maybe when we have kids, we’ll decide that we don’t want a table with glass in it any more.

For now, I am happy with our old, worn-out, chipped table with so many memories surrounding it.

I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Boogers!

I have recently discovered the blog of the very talented and funny writer, Maria.

She made me laugh aloud with her recent blog entry about boogers. (Yes, boogers.)

Check it out--you won't regret it--here's the link to the story.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Hell of an Exciting Week

I just got done eating a Supreme personal pan pizza and two breadsticks from Pizza Hut Express.

Damn, I’m exciting.

And very full.

And also quite lame, since I live in a city that prides itself on great pizza, and I just ate Pizza Hut.

That’s pretty much how my week has been. I worked a lot of overtime and watched a lot of t.v. Yep, quite lame.

Wait, I guess there were one or two kind-of interesting things that happened this week. Let’s see… (Cue groovy flashback music.)


Monday

After a long day at work, I hopped on the Wii Fit, and it didn’t yell at me!! I was so surprised—and frankly, thrilled. I hate being yelled at—even if it’s by a computer. Then I bitched and moaned about not having an MP-3 player.


Tuesday

After a long day at work, Buck and I did our 30 minutes of exercise, and then I listened to the Iwanski/Winter show. Winter amused us with tales of bad doctors and knee trauma, while Iwanski apologized for everything bad that has ever happened to anyone.


Wednesday

After a long day at work, I went out with Buck and two other friends to Heaven on Seven, Chicago’s best Cajun restaurant (in my opinion). Our friend Carol had us cracking up with her description of a date with a guy whose looks and personality were not just ugly, but—in her words—“so, so, so ugly!”

After dinner, Buck and I went to Trader Joe’s grocery store. While we were checking out, we were both impressed by the friendliness of the cashiers. I had forgotten how nice the salespeople are there! I mean, unusually, freakishly nice.

I had a perfectly lovely chat with the salesguy about the best high fiber cereals on the market. I am not kidding. I really did. It was awesome.

Later, I arrived home to find out that Iwanski had gone to the library that day and picked me up two Supernanny books. Hooray! Even though he can’t fathom why on earth I like to read about child behavior when we don’t even have children, he’s still nice enough to pick those up for me. What a great husband!


Thursday

Iwanski called me at work to tell me that he ordered me an MP-3 player online. I told you he was a great husband! I am so excited for the arrival of my new “little one”!


Friday

After a long day at work, I came home to another surprise—Iwanski fixed our toilet! No more sitting down on the seat and having it slide out from under me! Hooray!

We celebrated appropriately with a few beers and some country music. (That’s exactly how rednecks would celebrate a toilet being fixed, right?)


Saturday

Iwanski and I took a walk through Millennium Park and marveled at the beauty of the changing leaves.

See, isn’t it beautiful?



All in all, I’d say it’s been a good week.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Can’t…Go On…Must Have…MP-3 Player

Well, I have given up.

On finding my MP-3 player, that is.

If you recall, I had a brilliant blonde moment a few weeks ago, when I left my MP-3 player in the exercise room on the 7th floor of our building.

That was probably not the smartest (or most responsible) thing I’ve ever done.

And now, after much searching and waiting, I have finally concluded that it is gone for good.

And I am in desperate need of a new one.

How desperate?—you ask?

Well, before the tragic loss of my MP-3 player, I had gotten in the daily habit of listening to my music both on the 20-minute walk to work, and on the 20-minute walk home from work. So that’s 40 minutes a day of music that I no longer have. So what to do? Sure, I could use that time to just relax and do a “walking meditation” of sorts. But I had become so used to having something to entertain me during that time. So what have I been doing instead?

Well, first I have taken to listening to my work voice mail, over and over again. That’s right, I said over and over again. The other day, I think I listened to the same message probably 3 or 4 times. OK, that could probably have something to do with the fact that I was avoiding having to have small talk with a coworker who was walking a few steps in front of me…but still, that is pretty pathetic.

Secondly, I have actually asked my good friend Diane, if she feels like it, if she can leave me long messages on my cell phone, so that I can be entertained by her messages during my walk. While less pathetic than listening to my work voice mail over and over again, I’ll admit it’s still pretty pathetic. But Diane is really funny, so it really is quite entertaining. And she is so obliging…I guess that’s when you know you have a true friend, when they’re willing to leave you long voice mails so you can be entertained during your commute!

And all this to avoid actually being quiet and being in the moment. Yes, my friends, I believe that is the definition of pathetic.

It would probably be a good idea for me to practice that whole “being in the moment” thing more often. But it sure would help to stay in the moment if I have some good songs to listen to at the same time. (At least that’s how I’m going to rationalize this thing.)

It’s also pretty coincidental, I think, that since my MP-3 player has been missing, all of the sudden I have been hearing and reading about more and more music that I want to download. It’s as if the Universe wants me to have a new MP-3 player.

For example, I recently heard/read about the following artists, whose music I really want to download:

--David Qualey (thanks to Sling for putting that beautiful version of “Jesu Joy” on your blog)
--Talking Heads (thanks to Mary Ruth for the suggestion)
--Jackson Browne (thanks to Rosemary for the suggestion)
--Enya—I want to download more of her songs (her music touches me on a very deep level)

So in a few minutes, I’m going to go to Amazon.com and order me up a new MP-3 player.

And I’m also going to buy a wrist strap to keep it strapped to me at all times.

I sure hope I don’t lose that wrist strap.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Healthy Choice

This morning, about 25,000 people got up early, donned running shoes and lightweight clothing, and ran 26 miles through the streets of Chicago.

Iwanski and I did not do that. Instead, we slept until 11 and went here.



I think we made the right choice…don’t you?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Glorious Day

Glorious day,
Sun a-blazing
Treetops glowing,
World awaiting



Glorious day,
Seagulls pausing,
Life in triumph,
Moving on.



Glorious day,
Flowers blooming,
Plants protruding,
Letting go.



Glorious day,
Trees a-changin’
Times a-changin’
Moving on.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thank God It's Friday!

I am sitting here at work at 7:00 PM on a Friday night.

Man, I gotta get a life!

But life is good, and I can’t complain.

Happy Weekend, everyone!!!!

Monday, October 6, 2008

If You E-Mail, They Will Come

It started out as a simple get-together.

Just a few family members, gathered together to celebrate my Grandma’s 93rd birthday.

It ended up as a gathering of almost 30 people, all there to wish Grandma well on her special day.

And they were all there at dinnertime.

My poor mother! Unbeknownst to her, I had e-mailed my Wisconsin siblings, asking them if they might want to see Grandma (and Iwanski and me!) on Grandma’s birthday.

What I hadn’t expected was that not only did they show up, but so did their children, and their children’s children. We had many babies in attendance! Among the children under five years old were:

-A newborn baby
-A 10-week-old baby
-A 7-month-old baby
-A one-year-old baby
-A 3-year-old toddler

So suddenly the house was full of people and crying and gurgling babies. It was really fun—and really loud. But mostly fun.

My Mom looked at the increasingly hungry crowd and said, “I don’t know how everyone knew to come today.”

I giggled and said, “Umm, because I told them.” (This is usually how it happens—I get people to the party, and other people figure out the details. I suppose other people don’t enjoy that as much as I do.)

So I apologized to my mother, who luckily had already had the foresight to thaw some stew meat and start a crock-pot full of meat, potatoes, and veggies.

And somehow, some people decided to bring some other side items and desserts (props to Sfoofie for bringing two big delicious trays of cheesy potato casserole!). It’s actually a potato that I love—of course, the cheese and the sour cream make it really, really yummy—and healthy, too!

There were lots of delicious desserts, too. Since I particularly enjoy fruit desserts, I loved my sister Sheri’s apple crumble (crisp?), too. What’s the difference between a crumble and a crisp? Hmmm…

And how could I forget to mention the guest of honor? My Grandma was so surprised, and tickled pink that everyone showed up to celebrate her special day with her.

We had a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday,” which I asked my Dad to record, for posterity’s sake. (You should hear the way my family harmonizes on the third verse of that song—it sounds pretty awesome.)

What, you didn’t know there was a third verse? Well, my Catholic family has always wrapped up the song with “May the dear Lord bless you” sung over and over again. I like it—especially because I like how my family harmonizes. Daddy sings bass, and Momma sings—er, alto. And there are lots of other altos and sopranos, too. It’s pretty cool.

Yes, we truly are the Brady bunch.

I like being a Brady.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Toilet Barometer

Have I ever mentioned that our toilet is a relationship and mood barometer in the Iwanski and Miss Healthypants household?

I haven’t?

Well, it’s absolutely true. Every time Iwanski and I have a fight, or whenever one or both of us is feeling really depressed, the toilet responds by somehow breaking.

I can’t even tell you how many times this has happened. The poor maintenance men in our building! They have had the pleasure of “visiting” with our toilet on a number of occasions—and what a crappy job that must be.

Anyway, recently Iwanski was having a really bad day—one of those “Irish Guilt” days when everything—and I mean absolutely EVERYTHING—makes him feel guilty. On those days I can say something innocent like “Hey, honey, we’re out of bread,” and he responds with something like, “I’m such a terrible husband. I can’t even manage to make sure we have bread in the house. A good husband would make sure there is always bread in the house,” and on and on and on. I’m telling you, sometimes it must be absolutely exhausting being Iwanski.

Anyway, so recently he was having one of those really bad Irish Guilt Days, and after trying and trying in vain to convince him that he wasn’t the worst person on earth, I thought I would just have to “let go and let God”…so I went off to take a bathroom break.

As I sat down on the toilet, a bolt on one side of the seat popped off and went flying. The entire seat slipped to the side, and I almost fell right in.

“Ack!!!!” I screamed. “The toilet seat just broke!”

From the other room, I heard Iwanski groan, “That’s just God punishing me for being a bad husband.”

“God is not punishing you!” I yelled back.

Now, obviously I don’t believe that God is punishing Iwanski through our toilet breaking.

And I’m sure that God is not really paying attention at all to what happens to our toilet—at least I sure hope not! But I have to admit, it sure does seem pretty strange that whenever there is a lot of negativity in our house, the toilet figures out a new way to be broken.

It’s like one big cosmic joke.

I hate that toilet.

Monday, September 29, 2008

In My Neighborhood

Rosemary has an entertaining blog entry today about how important it is, in her little corner of the world, to have a sturdy mailbox. (Apparently every winter, the snow plow driver is on a mission to knock over every mailbox in her neighborhood.) Too funny!

So this got me thinking: what is uniquely important to the people in my little corner of the world, here in downtown Chi-town?

Here are some thoughts—

--Living in downtown Chicago, location becomes VERY important. When I hear about a restaurant in the city that sounds really good, my first thought is, “But is it within 5 train stops, or a 20-minute walk of my apartment?” If not, you can forget about it. Hey, I live in downtown for a reason—I shouldn’t have to go too far out of my way for some Kung Pao chicken or a quesadilla.

--Living in downtown Chicago, you become very familiar with your “neighborhood homeless guy,” and it’s important to remember the last time you gave him money. It’s okay to not give to him every time, but he gets a little “insistent” when you walk by him several times without giving. Since I spend my life trying to avoid confrontation at all costs, it’s important to me to remember when was the last time I gave.

--Living in downtown Chicago, it’s important to be able to spot a crazy person from several blocks away. If he’s weaving, or yelling at complete strangers, you just casually cross to the other side of the street to avoid any confrontation. (Again, with avoiding the confrontation. OK, maybe I need a therapist to talk about my avoidance issues.) And actually, Iwanski is different from me on this one. He gravitates toward the crazies. Hmm, maybe he’s the one who needs a therapist.

I wonder what it’s like in other “neighborhoods” around the world?

I wonder if somewhere, the most important thing is to try to have the biggest rooster or cow in town?

I wouldn’t doubt it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pet Peeves

Iwanski has a pet peeve (also known as Iwanski Rule #17) that I like to tease him about. He can’t stand it when people shorten words that aren’t all that hard to say. For example, “guac” for guacamole, or “caj” (or maybe “cajh”) for casual.

So Friday morning, when I got dressed for casual day at work, I made sure to say, “Yep, I get to dress cajh today.”

Iwanski loved that.

Today, I bought an avocado and plan to make some “guac.” (Evil laugh.)

While we’re at it, here’s one of my biggest pet peeves: when someone says he/she “threw me under the bus.” Really? Is the situation really that bad that it’s like being hurled under a 2-ton vehicle? Iwanski hates this phrase, too…especially because it’s usually spoken by someone who is an extremely annoying drama queen.

But the other night on the Iwanski/Winter internet radio show, I actually heard Iwanski say a version of that phrase. The nerve of him!

Later, he said to me, “I actually said something like ‘threw me under the bus,’ didn’t I?”

“Yes, you did,” I said. “It was horrifying.”

“The minute those words left my mouth, I wanted to vomit,” he said.

That’s how much we hate that phrase.

I will punch the next person that says it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pleasantly Surprised

Did you ever have one of those moments, as an adult, when you realized that you actually like something that you always thought you hated? Or when you realized that your first impression of something was totally wrong?

I guess you could call them “pleasant surprises.” As an adult (yikes, I’m an adult?! How did that happen??) , I’ve had quite a few pleasant--and unpleasant—surprises. Here are some of them:

Pleasant Surprises (As An Adult)

--Hee Haw…I’ve always thought this show was really hokey—and I was right. But once I accepted that hokey can be funny, I actually started finding this show pretty amusing. Trust me—just suspend all your judgment of rednecks, and you will find yourself laughing at the jokes on Hee Haw. And of course, if you like country music, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better country-music musicians than Roy Clark and Buck Owens.

--Iwanski…seriously! OK, picture this—I had only met Iwanski very briefly once before, and the second time I met him, he pretty quickly started arguing politics with me. It made me uncomfortable (later I realized that was because I didn’t know why I believed what I believed!)…but very soon he started growing on me, and I actually started to like the fact that he challenged my beliefs and opinions. Now, what can I say? I guess I kinda like him.

--Baked potatoes (w/sour cream)…I grew up thinking I hated ALL potatoes except french fries. One time, as a small child, my well-meaning Dad tried to force-feed me mashed potatoes, and I immediately gagged and threw it all up. I still think that mashed potatoes are vile (I know, you probably think it’s weird—but it’s the mushy texture that really bothers me)…but several years ago, I tried a baked potato with sour cream—and lo and behold, I liked it! Of course, I pretty much like anything with sour cream—but still, it was pretty amazing for me to discover that I actually like potatoes.

--Living in the city…I grew up in a small Wisconsin town of a little over 1000 people…and I never—not in a million years—dreamed that I would live in a big city—much less enjoy living in a big city! I figured I would end up living in a small town or in the country—like my parents, and their parents before them. Now, I love living here in the city of Chi-town. I love the culture and the public transit and the variety of restaurants and people in this city. I am ever-so-grateful that Iwanski and I decided to move here from the smallish (40,000 people) town we lived in, in Wisconsin.

--Owning a cat…I grew up thinking I was allergic to cats—I was convinced of it. But then, a chance encounter with a beautiful white fluffy cat who purred and rubbed all over me with his tail (and was later returned to his owners) really made me reconsider my “allergy.” I wanted a cat, and so Iwanski and I got little Autumn from the local humane society. Guess what? Besides just a tiny bit of sniffling, I had no real allergies to speak of! Three months later, we decided to get another cat, and we picked up our little Hattie from the shelter. Now I love having cats…even when I’m trying to finish writing on my blog, and they’re whining and harassing me to feed them. (They're driving me crazy right now...)

I’m so glad I’ve had those pleasant surprises in my lifetime. Where would I be without Iwanski and my little kitties? And living in the city has enriched my life in more ways than I can count. And as for Hee Haw and mashed potatoes? Well, they are just two ways of making life fun and delicious.

But what about unpleasant surprises? Well, I can only think of two things:

--Owning a cat…because of the vomit and the noises, and the vomit-noises.

--Slowing Metabolism…I have reached age 35. I’ve noticed it seems harder to lose weight nowadays and far easier to gain it. Yep, it sucks.

Well, I’m glad to see that my list of pleasant surprises is much longer than my list of unpleasant surprises.

I guess I’m just one lucky (and pleasantly surprised) Miss Healthypants.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Iwanski

Let me tell you a little something about Iwanski.

Iwanski and I have been married for over 11 years, and I love him more and more every day. Every single day he makes me laugh. Can you imagine being married to someone like that? Life is grand when you’re married to Iwanski.

And not only does he make me laugh, but he also makes me smile when I’m feeling down. Ever so often, I have what I’ve recently referred to as a “meltdown.” During that day or two, I’m completely irrational and get upset about the littlest things…and finally, I break down and cry for a good hour or two, all the while spouting crazy melodramatic thoughts. Iwanski just sits there and listens, and then holds me and helps me see that everything is really okay, and that everything in the future is going to be okay.

He is my soulmate and my best friend, and I don’t know what I’d do without him.

Even though today is no special occasion, I had these feelings welling up inside of me, and I just had to write them down.

I love you, honey. Thank you for being the best friend and husband a girl could ever ask for.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lost and Frowned

I have lost my MP-3 player.

I can’t tell you how sad I am about this—especially since I think I actually left it down in the exercise room of our building. How could I do this?—you may ask. Well, I’ve asked myself that question about a thousand times already, and I can’t conceivably figure out how I could have done that. But I haven’t been able to find it in our apartment after extensive searching—so I have to figure that I must have left it down there. (Yep, of course I checked down there, too—it wasn’t there.)

When I first lost it, I thought it was probably just deep in the bowels of our recliner—which is where it ended up the last time I lost it—but not this time. I have dug into the bowels of both our recliner and our couch, but no dice—well, actually, there were some dice, but no MP-3 player. I found other unsavory items, as well—but I guess that’ll happen when you go bowel-digging.

Then I checked with our doorman, Danny—who’s this sweet 80-year-old man—to see if anyone had dropped it off down there. When I told him what I had lost, he said, “A what? Could you please spell that?” When I said slowly “MP-3 player,” he said, “OK, an M-T-3 player. You’ll have to forgive me, I don’t know what that is.” “Um, it’s like a radio with headphones,” I said. For a second I thought I was talking to John McCain. But Danny hadn’t seen it, either.

So then I really started searching—into every nook and cranny of our house. Our cat, Autumn, followed me around as I dug into the farthest recesses of our home—like underneath my dresser—and dug out lots of little fuzzy toy mice—but no MP-3 player. She was delighted as I pulled every little toy mouse out from under the dresser and the couch and threw it at her.

Finally, exhausted from all my searching and sneezing like a maniac from all the dust I had kicked up, I gave up and sat back, watching Autumn play. She was really having fun with those mice—tossing them up in the air and then rolling around with them, biting and clawing at her “prey.” As I sat there and watched her, I thought about the fact that Autumn had no idea that those mice had gone missing months ago, and obviously she didn’t care, either.

And I realized that that is probably one way that cats are superior to humans—they have no attachment to material things. Even if you waved a hundred-dollar bill in front of their faces, they would probably just eat it.

So I decided to test that concept. I gave Autumn a dollar bill (being fresh out of $100 bills) just to see what she would do with it.



See? She started eating it and playing with it. She had no idea—nor did she care—what it was. To her, everything is either a toy or food—and nothing else. And she couldn’t care less when, two minutes later, I took the dollar bill away from her. She just went in the corner and took a nap.

And I decided right then and there—I want to be more like that. I don’t want to be so attached to material items that I feel extremely sad when one of them comes up missing. Yes, I will miss my MP-3 player—but it is entirely replaceable. It’s not like I lost SOMEONE—just some thing.

And happily, after spending just the right (irritating) amount of time lecturing me about being more careful with my things in the future, Iwanski has agreed that we can purchase a new MP-3 player for me very soon.

I know I probably don’t deserve it—after being so careless with this one—but I will certainly be happy to have my music back.

Because that’s really the only part that I’m sad about—that I can’t take my music around with me. But until I purchase a new one, I will just try to enjoy the city sounds as I walk to and from work—and I’ll swallow my medicine and learn my lesson so that I’ll always have my music with me in the future.

Buck as Hank

Have I mentioned that my good friend Buck kinda looks like Hank Hill from "King of the Hill"?

Don't believe me? Well, check out this video of "Hank" and our cat, Autumn. (Although Buck keeps calling her "Hattie," which is our other cat.)



I laughed SO hard when I was filming this. Buck makes one funny Hank Hill--don'tcha think??

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ya Gotta Have Fun

Buck and I have exercised three times this week. Yay us! I can already feel the pounds falling off me…

So we’re going to celebrate by having some wine.

Kinda defeats the purpose of exercise, doesn’t it?

But hey, you can’t always be good! And I believe that it’s very important to have variety in life.

And also wine. Because I like wine.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Found in the Morning

This is what I saw on the kitchen counter when I woke up this morning.



Yes, that’s right, folks—I live with a hobo.

I actually asked him if he ate it right out of the can. Yesiree, I did. But he didn’t. Thank God.

I guess he’s not a hobo after all.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

So Very Pathetic

OK, I’m really, really trying to be positive here.

I really believe that in everyone’s life, there are times when you’re on top of a mountain, and sometimes you’re down in a valley.

I’m in a bit of a valley right now.

Honestly, I think the end of summer is kind-of getting me down. Isn’t that crazy? But I think that I really enjoy the summertime and the warm weather more than most people do.

What I really need to do is think of things that I actually enjoy about the fall.

Like hot apple cider…Chicago Bears games (when they win, anyway)…a cup of hot coffee on a cool day…the crunch of leaves underfoot…getting to wear clothes I haven’t worn in a while (it’s like a new wardrobe!—whoo hoo!)…apple and pumpkin season…a cool walk in a colorful forest…

Can anyone else think of any other good things about fall?

Does anyone else feel the way I do?

I know I’ll be up on top of that mountain sometime again soon…but in the meantime, I will just have to try to be grateful for all the good things in my life—like my wonderful husband, a job that I enjoy, and great family, friends, and blog buddies!

I hope you know I appreciate y’all! I really do.

------------------------------------------------------------------

OK, now that I wrote all this, I am looking back at what I wrote, and I’m thinking:

Oh poor Miss Healthypants. She’s so depressed about the damn weather. There are people in the world that don’t have enough to eat, and I’m depressed about THE WEATHER.

My, how pathetic I am!

I am exactly what’s wrong with America.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Remembering Grandpa

In a few weeks, Iwanski and I are planning a trip up to Cheeseland to see my family. As part of the trip, we are planning to surprise my Grandma Diedrich (pronounced “Deed-rick”—yes, very German) by visiting her on her 93rd birthday. I can’t wait to see the smile on her face as we walk through her door.

I have realized that I’m very lucky, at my age, to still have a living grandparent. My Grandma is the first of five generations of us, and although she has lots of physical complaints (who wouldn’t, at age 93?), her mind is still going strong. And she is also a very sweet, loving person.

Often, when I think about my Grandma, I also think about my Grandpa, her late husband. Grandpa Diedrich died when I was in sixth grade, but I still remember him so well.

I loved my Grandpa Diedrich. In my eyes, he was just the jolliest, happiest guy around. He worked as a janitor in the public schools of the small town where I grew up, but from his attitude, you would think he was a millionaire. I’m sure there were times when he felt sad or angry, but I don’t remember ever seeing a frown on his face. Whenever I think of him, I think of him with a big smile on his face, his eyes twinkling, teasing me about one thing or another—like how I pronounced the word “peas.” (Like a true Wisconsinite, I pronounced it with two syllables: “pee-ahs.”)

I also remember that Grandpa paid lots of attention to me. I remember that he had a bar in his basement, and he would regularly make me “kiddie cocktails” (cherry juice and 7-Up, with lots of marachino cherries in the glass). Then, after a party at his house, when there were lots of dirty glasses and stir-sticks littering the bar, I would help him clean it up. He would always reward me with a big smile and a big shiny quarter. (Wow, how much money a quarter seemed to be in those days!) I would also get a quarter and a smile for helping him clean out his shed in the yard.

Later, when I was a little older (maybe about 11 years old), he would watch game shows on TV with me. Since I was just starting to become interested in boys, I always wanted to watch “Love Connection.” Now, I’m sure Grandpa had no interest in watching that show, but he would sit there and watch it with me, and we would both guess on which girl the guy would pick to date (or which guy the girl would pick). The funny thing was, my Grandpa always guessed correctly. It was amazing to me. I thought he must have been one of the smartest guys alive.

Grandpa died just before Christmas, in 1984. I remember coming home from school, all excited about the Christmas gifts that I’d gotten from my friends, and my older sister Holly was home early from school, just lying there on the couch. I asked her why she was home so early, and she said, “Grandpa Diedrich died today.”

I was shocked. I just sat there, feeling sad and confused. To me, I had never even considered the fact that he could die someday.

Later that night, I remember that my Mom looked exhausted and really, really sad. All I could think of to do was give her a big hug. I could imagine that she felt even sadder than I did.

And at my Grandpa’s funeral, I remember that all my brothers and sisters gathered to sing “The Prayer of St. Francis.” Ever since then, I have loved that song. “Make me a channel of your peace” is a statement I would always like to live by.

In my memories, Grandpa was definitely a channel of peace. He brought me joy and laughter, and I will never forget how he always made me feel so special and loved.

Nowadays, the show “Love Connection” has been replaced by other reality shows, like “Big Brother” and “Flavor of Love.” Although I don’t watch too many of those shows, whenever I do, I can feel my Grandpa right there beside me, always guessing the winner—and always guessing right.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wii Miss You

I am committed.

This should come as no surprise to those of you who probably think I should be committed. But seriously, folks, I have joined forces with my good friend Buck to commit to exercising for a half an hour, four days a week.

Four days a week. That should be manageable, right?

God, I hope so. It will certainly be better than my current schedule of NO days a week. OK, to be fair, I have still been doing my “8 minutes in the morning” strength-building exercises—but not as consistently as I would like to.

And my poor Wii Fit. Yesterday morning, I got on the Wii Fit and heard it cry softly about missing me.

No really, it did.

OK, it didn’t. But it did chastise me about not having been on there for 43 (!) days, and even teasingly called me “Iwanski.”

The poor thing. It has had nothing to do for 43 days. I really must pay more attention to it.

But regardless of my Wii Fit activities, Buck and I have decided that we will at least walk on a treadmill or lift weights every day from Monday through Thursday, and we’re going to do it!

We have to. Otherwise I can no longer go by the name Miss Healthypants—I will instead have to be called Miss Fattypants.