Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Nora Lu

One year ago today, my sister Sheri called me and said, “Dude, I just gave birth.”

Now, one year later, she and my brother-in-law have the cutest little one-year-old daughter. Nora Lu is her parents’ pride and joy—and honestly, my pride and joy, too! You see, Sheri and I are only two years apart, and we shared a room together and spent tons of time together as kids…so when she had a baby, it was a huge deal to me. And I am just crazy about my little niecey Nora.

The few precious times I’ve gotten to spend some time with Nora Lu Lu, I have found her to be the sweetest, most darling little thing who smiles and laughs readily. She is just one happy baby. And it’s no wonder why—she has two wonderful parents who give her tons of love and attention.

And I may be a bit biased, but I really do think that she is the cutest baby ever! Here, look at her picture—don’t you agree?

And now, my sister tells me, Nora is starting to walk and talk. Wow, they grow up so fast! I can’t wait to see her again and listen to her say her favorite words: “moo,” “cheep cheep,” and “baby.”

I just can’t believe she’s already one year old. Wow. One year old. Who the heck remembers being one??

Nora Lu, I know you can’t read yet—but I hope you know that your Auntie Carly loves you very much.

Happy First Birthday, Nora Lu!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Chi-town Happenings

Today, a homeless woman said to me, “I like your outfit,” and then asked me for some change. Now there’s a new one! Of course I had to give her some money. Hey, she gave me a compliment—how could I resist?

Note to homeless people: give me a compliment, and I’ll give you money. (Note: This does not apply to Mr. Skeevy homeless guy holding a 40 ouncer of Milwaukee’s Best, weaving down the street and yelling “Hey, Sexy Mama!”)


Today, the unthinkable happened. They closed down all the Bennigan’s restaurants in our neighborhood. Apparently the company filed for bankruptcy. I am devastated. Thank GOD we still have TGI Friday’s, Chili’s, and Houlihan’s! Yes, before you ask—I do realize that I live in the city. But I have a special fondness for cheesey appetizers that only those silly chain restaurants can fulfill.

But I also love my neighborhood Thai, Indian, Cajun, Mexican, and English Pub restaurants. I remember there also used to be a wonderful, fantabulous Chinese restaurant in our neighborhood with the best spicy lunch buffet. It was called Szechuan East. Iwanski and I had a standing date with that place. On many a Saturday, we would wake up, get ready, and head over to Szechaun East. They knew us and would immediately wave us over to our usual table. Then, one day, without warning, we arrived at the place and found it all boarded up and empty. Now that was a time that I was REALLY devastated. It really was the best restaurant ever.

I guess that that’s one of the hazards of living in the city. Things change, sometimes very quickly. Restaurants and stores come and go—and so I’ve learned the lesson of not getting too attached to your favorite place.

But if Walgreen’s ever shuts down, I don’t know what I’ll do. I don’t think I could handle it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

This Weekend's Equations

Great Friends + Buck’s yummy homemade Hungarian food + Watermelon Daiquiries + Karaoke = A Fabulous Friday Night.

Too much to drink + too little sleep = A Very Tired Miss Healthypants

Cheap, yummy Mr. Subs + Saturday shopping with my best girlfriend in Boys Town + a 2 ½ hour massage given by the best massage therapist in the world (Diane rocks!)= A very happy and relaxed Miss Healthypants.

BBQ Pork Chow Mein for Lunch + A Warm, Sunny Day at the Zoo + A Long Walk along Lake Michigan beaches + Honey Chicken Wings + Fresh Corn on the Cob + Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Sliced Almonds, and Homemade Strawberry Vinagrette = The Best Sunday I’ve Had in A Long Time.

As you can tell, this weekend totally rocked. I got to spend it with all of my best friends, and the weather couldn’t have been nicer. I loves me some hot weather!

And it was just so good to see my best girlfriend, Diane. She lives beyond the Cheddar Curtain in Wisconsin, so I don’t get to see her very often—even though we do talk on the phone almost every day! But when we do get a chance to get together, we always have a great time. I have not talked much here about Diane before, but she is the one of the most genuine, kind, generous people you can ever meet. And she’s really funny, too. Her sense of humor is partly derived from the fact that she is just so honest.

For example: On Friday night, I was harassed by the bouncer at the karaoke bar because my license had expired in May. (I had no idea that it had expired—I never drive anywhere.) We almost didn’t get into the bar because of that. Anyway, later when I was carded at the local 7-Eleven for buying more rum for our watermelon daiquiries, Diane, who was standing behind me, said to the store clerk in a loud voice, “You know, that’s an expired card. Her driver’s license is expired.” The clerk just looked at her and sold me the rum, anyway. I could’ve killed her! But it was hilarious.

There are so many moments like that with Diane. She is very bold and will go up to complete strangers and ask them about themselves. For example, this weekend on the train, we ended up talking to a college student from Austin, Texas who was studying to be a history teacher and was visiting his sister in Chicago. And all because Diane took one look at him and asked him, “You look like a reader. Do you read a lot?” (As it turns out, the guy did.) It was an interesting conversation, and all because Diane took a chance on asking a complete stranger about himself. How fun!

Oh, and also, Diane has almost graduated from massage school, and I’ve been her “massage guineau pig” now on a few different occasions. And let me tell you, I’ve had a few “professional” massages before, but Diane gives the best massages (all of her teachers tell her she’s a great massage therapist, too). Aren’t I just the lucky one?

I’ll tell you, life is fun when you have a loving, funny, creative husband and a caring, funny, friendly best girlfriend. Not to mention a generous, funny, world-class cook and friend named Buck who, I’ve just discovered, makes fabulous Hungarian food! Who knew?

Suffice it to say that Miss Healthypants is also Miss Happypants.

See? (Aren’t we cute?)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Too Tired to Come Up With A Good Title

Miss Healthypants is one tired puppy.

I have worked lots of overtime this week, and I needs me some sleep.

Happily, after a good night's sleep tonight, there will be fun festivities tomorrow night, as Buck treats my friends Diane and Carissa, and myself (and maybe Iwanski) to Hungarian food! Yes, he offered to cook for all of us. What a guy! Why Hungarian food, you ask? Two reasons: 1) Diane really wanted to try Hungarian food, and 2) Buck is apparently a very good Hungarian cook. Who knew?

Also, Buck has promised to make us some of his famous watermelon daiquiries (mmm....watermelon daiquiries...). I am SO going to enjoy that!

And then it's off to a local pub for some more drinks and some karaoke craziness. (What can I say? I'm a sucker for hearing "Born To Be Wild" sung badly 5 times in the same night. Whoo-hoo!)

I can't wait!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Meditating on Meditation

I believe that in everyone’s life, there are always peaks and valleys. Hopefully we spend most of our daily lives high on that mountain peak—but sometimes we’re just stuck in a valley.

But right now, I’m sittin’ high on top of that mountain!

In a lotus position.

Yep, I’m beginning to like this whole meditation thing. I’ve started meditating probably about 10 times before, and every time, I eventually quit. I think I just forgot what it was like when I wasn’t meditating. Because here’s what happens:

Step 1: I start meditating and feel calmer and more peaceful in my daily life. I think to myself, “Why did I ever stop meditating, when it makes me feel so good?”

Step 2: I have a really bad day/week where I feel like I’m too busy to meditate, so I get out of the habit.

Step 3: I get into the habit of watching tv instead of meditating, and I convince myself that meditation never really helped me, anyway.

But alas, my friends, this is the ego at work. That damn, nasty ego that I need to squash!

So I will continue to sit and meditate. Luckily, it’s only for 8 minutes a day. I’m reading this book called “8 Minute Meditation,” and it’s exactly what it sounds like. It teaches you different techniques for meditating for 8 minutes a day. And if I’m really honest with myself, I know that I can spare 8 minutes a day. Hell, I can probably skip watching Family Guy re-runs and save 30 minutes a day—but why on earth would I do that?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Whoo Hoo! Toledo!

I’m back from Toledo. It was freakin’ awesome!

Okay, not really. But I actually did have a good time during part of the trip.

Here are some things I learned from my trip to Toledo:

1. Perrysburg, Ohio (a suburb of Toledo) is a cute little town with great little pubs lining the sidewalks.

2. The La Quinta Inn there isn’t bad, either. There’s a gas station less than a block away with a very friendly, funny cashier who will gladly sell you the liquor of your choice.

3. When your coworkers get drunk, it can be quite interesting to find out what they reveal about themselves.

4. The Dog Whisperer is a good show.

Why the Dog Whisperer, you ask? Well, a couple of my coworkers mentioned how much they like the show, so I thought I’d Tivo it. I have already watched three episodes and am enthralled by it. I especially like how the dog trainer (Cesar Millan) talks about how it’s important to keep calm energy around dogs. In other words:

Calm = Power.

I feel like I can totally use that advice in my daily life. I mean, I can get all excited and bubbly (as I am wont to do), but beneath that excitement, I want to maintain a steady calm energy.

So I’ve decided to try to meditate every day.

It can’t hurt, can it?

Just think--I could meditate every day and become enlightened.

And all because of a trip to Toledo.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Toledo, Talahdo, Tomato, Tomado

On Wednesday, I have to go to Toledo. Yes, Toledo. The most exciting place on earth.

The saddest part is, this is the only city I’ve ever visited in Ohio. About a year ago, I also had to travel to Toledo.

None of this is by choice.

My company is sending me and several others to a branch location there, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Can’t you tell?

So when I return, I will be sure to regal you with stories of good ole’ Toledo. I know it will be amazing.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

This Reminds Me of Something...

I don’t know about you, but I have a continuous soundtrack running through my head. At any moment you can ask me, “What song is in your head?” and I can name it. Right now? “Cherish” by Madonna. Could be because I just heard it on the radio ten minutes ago.

Anyway, today Iwanski and I took a Metra train out to Morton Grove to walk in the Forest Preserves. As we walked along the trail, enjoying the beautiful natural scenery, a guy rode by on his bike with a radio playing “Bad Moon Rising” by CCR. I remarked to Iwanski that I thought CCR was a great soundtrack for outdoor wooded settings. In fact, CCR always reminds me of being on vacation, outdoors in Wisconsin. The song “Looking Out My Back Door” in particular is one of my favorite “Wisconsin vacationey” songs. I hear a minute of the song and I feel like I’m sitting there, on a picnic table near some Wisconsin woods, having a beer and watching some squirrels chasing each other. Not bad, huh?

When Iwanski and I got home from our nature walk, Iwanski went on the computer to check out the photos he’d taken, while I hopped in the bathtub for a delightful mid-day bubble bath. (Don’tcha just love the weekend?) As I sunk back into the bubbles, on the bathroom radio the song “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (by Bonnie Tyler) started playing. I was instantly transported back to my childhood, and I had a vivid memory of myself sitting on the floor in my bedroom, playing contentedly with my Barbie dolls. Why that song reminded me of that, I have no idea—I can only suppose that I heard that song one time while I was playing with my Barbies. And now, as I listened to the song, I was feeling very happy-nostalgic, grateful that I had had such a pleasant memory from my childhood. And then I felt like I really wanted to play with my Barbie dolls again. (Man, I guess I need to have a kid or something.)

Anyway, I started realizing how much music has really played such a big part in my life. And then I started thinking about other songs that really bring back memories for me. Sometimes it’s a specific memory, but most of the time, it’s just a general memory, or a feeling from a time in my life that I’d long forgotten.

For example, whenever I hear the song “Dancing Queen,” I think of being young and happy—and particularly, I think about dancing with my Dad at weddings. (I don’t know when it started, but my Dad and I always dance to that song together at weddings.) I remember Dad dipping me and swinging me around while I felt my hair blow freely in the breeze created by our dancing. That’s a wonderful memory for me, and I absolutely love that song.

Then there are the “boy crush” songs. The song “Cherish” by Kool in the Gang makes me think of the intense crush I had on my 8th grade band director. (Man, I had SUCH a huge crush on him!) The song “Eternal Flame” by the Bangles reminds me of dancing with my first boyfriend at his high school dance and how I felt like we would be together forever. (Oh, how silly I was back then!) And I would be remiss not to mention the song that reminds me of falling in love with Iwanski. Actually, there are three songs that remind me of that time—“In the Still of the Night” (the Boyzz II Men version), “I’ll Be There” (the Mariah Carey version) and “A Whole New World” from the movie Aladdin. Yes, I realize they are pretty cheesey songs—but then, I’m from Wisconsin. I like cheese.

OK, I just pulled up Mariah Carey’s version of “I’ll Be There” on Youtube, and I’m sitting here bawling. How about that? The power of a song!

And as I was sitting in the tub today thinking of all of these songs, I also remembered how the song “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” by Wang Chung reminds me of when I was in high school and we played the song at our high school band concert. That was the first time I felt really “in the groove” playing my trombone. I played my heart out to that song, and I felt on top of the world. Oh, and also, it was my birthday, and my Mom made cupcakes for everyone to enjoy after the concert. (I went to a very small high school, so to make cupcakes for the whole band and audience was definitely doable.) What a great night!

And as I was sitting in the tub today, reliving that memory, the song on the radio switched, and on came…you guessed it! “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” by Wang Chung! It was so cool!—like God was reading my mind.

To me, music is just that—God’s way of smiling down on us. I feel so lucky to have music in my life.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New Job!

Hey, big news! I got the job!

Starting Monday, I will be the Customer Service Manager at my lovely place of employment. And I’m really happy about it.

The only problem is that for a while—until they find a replacement for me in my current job—I will have to do both jobs. Yikes!

Anyone wanna buy me a shot?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Today, as I was reaching over a wastebasket and a bin of magazines, through the small space between the cat climber and the end table, and nearly cutting off the circulation in my hand as I wedged the cord I was holding into the outlet behind the end table, I realized something:

I live in an obstacle course.

Mind you, Iwanski and I are not the messiest people in the world. But we do tend to collect clutter. And that clutter tends to accumulate and accumulate until one day, in a fit of frenzied housecleaning, I try to go through everything and straighten it all out.

Recently, I was going through a large folder that holds all our receipts and user guides from various electronic items we had purchased. I found receipts from items we had bought in the year 1999. I kid you not. I also found user guides for a boombox that we got rid of three years ago, and one for our old vacuum. Yeah, I really needed to keep those. Why would I need a user guide for a vacuum, anyway? Step 1: Turn on vacuum. Step 2: Suck things into vacuum. Yeah, that’s pretty complicated.

Anyway, it was a relief to go through all that stuff and toss out all the old receipts and user manuals.

The only problem was that the stack of papers that I’d accumulated for recycling was so large, it didn’t fit into our recycling bin. So I stacked them up next the recycling bin, where the pile grew and grew with more and more paper items for the next couple of weeks—while we stepped over it every day on our way in and out of the front door.

Are you beginning to see a problem here?

What I really need to do is take a week off work, go through all our clutter and organize it, and bring any garbage and recycling down to the dumpsters in our 1st floor garbage room.

It’s either that, or keep climbing over stuff.

Hmm, I really do like obstacle courses…

Monday, July 7, 2008

Am I the Only One?

OK, I just have to know: am I the only one who has categories of underwear in her underwear drawer?

For example: I have the "holy-crap-I’ll never-wear-these-unless-I’m-really-trying-to-be-sexy-and-even-then-only-for-a-minute-because-they-are-so-uncomfortable" underwear, which take up a small corner of the drawer.

Then I have the "I can actually wear these every day" comfy cotton underwear, which encompass the large majority of the drawer.

Then I have the "someday-when-I-lose-20-pounds-these-will-fit-comfortably-again” underwear. (I only have 2 pair of those, but I just can’t give them up.)

And lastly, I have the corner of shame in my drawer, the corner where all the old, holey “just in case I haven’t done laundry in 3 weeks” underwear go to nest. I know I should just give them up, but I just can’t get myself to get rid of them. It’s like this: although I haven’t been a girl scout in many years, the girl scout motto (“be prepared”) has really stuck with me…and I just can’t let go of those old holey underwear.

Recently, after a particularly long hiatus from doing laundry, I was forced to wear one of those old pairs. The elastic was completely worn out, the holes were getting larger and larger, and the poor undies barely made it through the day.

So what did I do? Well, finally, I had no choice. I bought more underwear. Like 20 pairs from Target.

So do you think I can get rid of the old holey ones now? Hmm…I’m just not sure yet…

I’ll have to think about it.

Cheap Entertainment in Cheeseland

Man, these hot summer nights have really got me reminiscing.

Recently, I e-mailed my sister Sheri and our two same-age cousins, Lori and Lisa, to ask them what they remembered about the games we played as kids in the summertime. I pretty much remembered what the games were called, but then only remembered bits and pieces about how they were played.

Of the four of us, my sister Sheri remembered the most about these—and then she very generously googled and wikipedia’d her heart out to try to figure out how these games were played.

I wonder if anyone else played these, as well? Or are these just games that some crazy Cheesehead made up? Here they are:

 Seven Steps Around the House—I think the rest of the U.S. refers to this game as “Ghosts in the Graveyard.” This game must be played in the dark, and basically the objective is for one kid to jump out of hiding and scare the beejesus out of all the other kids.

 SPUD!—a kid throws up a ball, the other kids scatter, another kid catches it and yells SPUD! All other players must stop and wait to be pelted with the ball. I loved this game.

 Red Rover—I’m guessing most kids growing up in America have played this game. It should be called “How to Break Other Kids’ Arms.”

 Red Devil—played in the driveway, and like the game of categories, except a) The players have to guess the correct word that the “Red Devil” (the person who’s “it”) is thinking of, and b) The person who guesses correctly has to race against the Red Devil in opposite directions around the house. Whoever gets back to the driveway first wins. Why Red Devil? I have no idea. Sounds like a weird title for a game played by good little Catholic girls. But it was fun!

 Cartoon Tag—like the regular game of tag, except in order to be “safe,” all you had to do was squat down and yell out the name of a cartoon. With approximately 50,000 cartoons on tv (and this was even before the Cartoon Network), there was absolutely no way for the person who was “it” to win this game.

And while we’re on the subject, what did you call the “safe” zone in a game of tag when you were a kid (the place where the person who’s “it” couldn’t touch you)?

We called it “gool.” Iwanski and his friends called it either “gool” or “glue.”

Wikipedia says that the expression “gool” is unique to northern Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

But what do kids in Washington, Nebraska, or Texas do when they need to take a break during the game of tag? There’s no gool? That’s preposterous!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Summertime in Chi-town

This lovely summer weekend started off with Iwanski and I partying with Buck on the balcony of terror. Eventually, as he is wont to do, Buck summoned his inner gay hairdresser and made my hair resemble some 70’s star, like Farrah Fawcet or Nancy Wilson. Then Iwanski took a picture of him taking a picture of me with the crazy hairstyle. See?

Notice the can of Suave hairspray in the cup-holder of the chair? Classic Buck.

Finally, once the hair-dressing was completed and the delicious watermelon daiquiries that Buck had prepared had gone WAY to my head, Iwanski and I parted ways with Buck and wandered back home to bask in first-vacation-day heavenly sleep.

The next day, Iwanski and I got up and got ourselves ready for a magnificent feast. Guess where we went?

OK, I guess that wasn’t too hard to guess. OK, now guess what we ate? I bet you could never guess it all.

Let me see if I can name just a few things: mustard-fried catfish, garlic mozzarella cheese bread, pierogis, chicken wings, steak tacos, a buffalo burger, and Rainbow ice cream. Yummy! Everything was absolutely delicious, including the weather. Warm, temperatures in the 70’s, but no humidity. Just beautiful!!

Then Iwanski and I went for one of our classic long city walks and enjoyed the summer festival atmosphere. Eventually, I—Miss Healthypants, mind you—succumbed to a Chicago hot dog, lovingly cooked by our 7-Eleven hosts. OK, it wasn’t quite the outdoor-charred-on-a-grill summer hot dog that I was longing for, but it did the trick.

The rest of the weekend went on swimmingly—just sunshine and warm temperatures, and Miss Healthypants in a fantastic mood. Even the threat of potential impending illness (enough already!) never amounted to anything, and a long walk to Oak Street beach today wrapped up an absolutely delightful weekend.

What can I say? I feel like one lucky girl.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Midsummer Night’s Memory

Remember when you were a kid, and all you wanted to do on a hot summer night was play outside until it got dark out, and then play some more? OK, maybe Buck is an exception to this, since he’s a freak who never wants to be outside in the summer…but for most of us normal people, a hot summer night was an invitation to play outside for as late as we could get away with it.

I was no exception to this rule.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do was to shoot baskets in our driveway. And I was good at it. Really. That’s one of the things that few people know about me. I am especially good at the game of Horse.

People are always surprised by this—I don’t know why this is. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m a very clumsy person and bump into things on a regular basis. Yeah, that could be it. But the fact remains that I am a very good basket-shooter.

Just ask Iwanski’s family. A couple of years ago, we decided to play a game of Horse at his sister’s house. There were 5 or 6 of us playing—including Iwanski and his two brothers-in-law—and wouldn’t you know it? I beat ‘em all. I’m very proud of this. (Can’t you tell?)

But the reason I’m so good at shooting baskets is because I practiced a lot when I was a kid, sometimes until 10:00 at night. I remember vividly one hot July night when I decided that I was going to try to get as many baskets as I could before my parents finally told me I had to come in and go to bed.

So I stood out there for hours, shooting basket after basket, while it got darker and darker outside. Finally, my parents told me it was time to come in.

When I came in the house, I went right to my notebook, tore out a sheet of paper, and wrote “Carla got 40 baskets today,” dated it, and put it in my scrapbook. Wow. 40 baskets. That’s 80 basketball points. And for an 8-year-old girl on a hot summer night, it seemed like a huge accomplishment.

I wonder if my Mom still has my scrapbook from then. I would love to take a look at that piece of paper again and remember how easy it used to be to feel like I was a star.

It seems to me that as adults, we could all give ourselves more pats on the back than we do. We’ve all certainly accomplished much more than shooting 40 baskets.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Miss Sicklypants

Well, folks, once again, I have been Miss Sicklypants.

All I gotta say is, it’s been one HELL of a summer.

I’ll write more when I feel up to it.

Hope all is well with everyone in bloggerland!