Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Traveling With Mellon: Wisconsin Edition

I can't believe I forgot to tell you all about how much fun I had in Milwaukee. I never knew it was such a cool city. And oh my, but friendly! There was no shortage of kind words, unforced small talk and smiles for us everywhere we went. Midwesterners have earned their rep.

The city pretty much had me at hello when I noticed that the airport had a playroom for kids in the terminal. How helpful would that be? We stayed at the Iron Horse Hotel, and I just loved it. The interior decor is right up my alley--it even had  a library where you could sit and drink tea. Books and tea. Heaven. And the restaurant Smyth had the fluffiest omelet I've ever eaten. Here's a brief rundown of a few more key hotel details that put it in the Simply Must Visit Again column of my travel log.

The hotel room had a bench with hooks above it where you could hang your jacket and take off your shoes. This was much appreciated by a certain someone with extremely wide feet who gets blisters from every pair of shoes she ever wears. I found it to also be aesthetically pleasing. Twofer.

    Hello in-room mini-Keurig! Real coffee cups would have made me even happier though. Still, beggars can't be choosers and with a 5:00AM wake up on our last morning, I was most definitely not in a position to be choosy about how the caffeine got into my system.

      Double sinks in the bathroom are a must when you like to keep your area looking like this:

      but your husband keeps his looking like this:

      The only caveat I have is this: If you plan to bunk up with someone in a room, make sure you pick a person who you feel really comfortable around. Why you ask? Because here's the view from the bed:

      Yep, that's the shower. And nope, it doesn't leave a whole lot to the imagination. Not that I minded, but if someone were sharing a room with, say, her Mother-in-Law that might get a bit awkward.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

      After the race, we had a very lovely dinner at Rock Bottom.

      Where I highly recommend the cheesy, pretzel appetizer.

      After dinner, we took a little stroll along the river. In the spirit of romance, Drew showed a new-found willingness to snap photos of me.

      Now, if he could just get a handle on his technique...

      Sunday, June 27, 2010

      Go Big or Go Home

      Since my very first foray into the realm of NASCAR, I have been angling for a job somewhere within the empire. All those self help books promising to aid the reader in achieving her goals say that it is important to have a well thought out plan that includes specific, measurable goals. So I think I should take a moment to try to narrow my focus a bit to determine what kind of position would be the best fit for me. Here's my list so far:

      1. Driver

                       The pro column for this one is pretty easy to fill. Obviously, the really cool jumpsuit and legions of adoring fans rank high on that list. If you would have asked me last week, I'd have said this was my top career aspiration. But that was before I watched the machine that is the Danica Patrick Show in action. There was never a time when her car, pit, and hauler weren't swarmed with 15-20 camera-carrying people ready to snap a photo of her every eye flutter. This would drive me completely nuts as I try to maintain a 1.5ft radius,  intruder-free bubble around me at all times. Plus, there's that forgetting which side of the road I'm supposed to be driving on thing. Still, I'm not ready to completely rule out this option. Some dreams will never die.

      2. Pit Crew Mechanic

                      This one has real potential. Aside from the cool factor of getting to wield power tools, this job would also allow me to wear a jumpsuit. Just look how cute my bff looks in hers:
      I, too, could totally rock that look I think. My utter lack of mechanical knowledge could present a minor handicap though as at this point in time, I could not tell you the difference between a track bar and a Hershey bar. Plus, my hand eye coordination deficit could be a cause for concern. However, I feel these obstacles could be overcome with the proper motivation and mindset.

      3. NASCAR Official

                          This job seems to have it all: headset, access to pit road, and a jumpsuit. And not just any jumpsuit either, but a white jumpsuit. Yes it's true that my understanding of the rules of the sport is nonexistent, but I'd imagine there's a school for that somewhere, right? I'm a quick learner. I'm told that this job would involve being yelled at all day by crew chiefs unhappy with penalties, but I think I can handle that by activating the "helpless and cute" gene that all females possess. But while the helpless part comes easily enough for me, I really have to put a beacoup of energy into the being cute part. So it would be a rather exhausting job.

      And that last part there brings me to the quandary that I have with all of these professions: they all have hectic schedules. This is without a doubt a huge stumbling block for me. I even have visuals to support this fact. This is me at the New Hampshire track at the end of a week that involved 1 race weekend in Wisconsin, 1 husband out of town, 1 play date, 1 girls' night out and 1 pair of house guests in the form of my parents:

      Look at those slits there where my eyes are supposed to be. I was so tired that I took every opportunity to lean against anything that looked like it could bear my weight. Somewhere around lap 40, I was nearly lulled to sleep by the soothing sounds of 40+ cars zooming around "The Magic Mile". I clearly need to work on my stamina before giving any serious consideration to any of the 3 previous occupations. Which makes my final choice the most logical and attainable at the moment.

      4. Car Owner

                From my observations, the duties of this job include fishing the week before, flying in the day of the race, telling a few funny stories, discussing strategy with the team, and eating a PB&J Uncrustable or two.  These are all areas in which I excel--well except for that discussing strategy one.  But every job should offer a challenge and a chance to learn new skills, wouldn't you agree?

      The only thing keeping me from ordering new business cards today is that most car owners are already successful business owners, so it would seem that it isn't really an entry level position. I'll admit that the odds aren't in my favor, but I've always been a big believer in that old adage that anything is possible. I think I'll go ahead and eat an Uncrustable now just to be sure I'm ready when the door of opportunity opens. 


      Friday, June 25, 2010

      Rules Do Not Apply to Pint-Sized Divas

      Remember that whole limit the number of statement accessories rule I shared with you a couple of weeks back?

      Well, some rules were just meant to be broken, ya'll.

      Thursday, June 24, 2010

      I don't understand the problem here.

      It was a lovely morning. I was in the kitchen trying to ready breakfast for my hungry brood. From the family room, I hear a voice calling my name.

      Mama: Yes, Chase?

      Chase: Mama, Can you fix this? I need new batteries, some chocolate milk, blueberry pancakes and stinky socks. (Insert more random mumbling that I zoned out on) Now, Mama?

      Mama: Be patient please. I'm only one Mama.

      Chase: But when I look through my bug glasses, you're six Mamas.

      Mama: Still wouldn't be enough, kid.

      Wednesday, June 23, 2010

      The art of diplomacy is lost on this one.

      Jeanne (pointing toward the captain's chair): 4 sets of 15 straight leg raises.

      Mellon: Listen, I already played your squat and lunge reindeer games--with nary a complaint I might add. So, I think we can just go ahead and skip this part.

      Jeanne: Let's go.

      Mellon. Knees?

      Jeanne: Legs straight out.

      Mellon: 3 sets?

      Jeanne: 4.

      Mellon: Right, 4 sets of 10.

      Jeanne: 15.

      Mellon: When you've got a minute, we're really going to need to sit down and go over your understanding of the word 'compromise'.

      Jeanne (impatiently slapping the torture device): Hit it.

      Mellon: Stubborn Irish Dictator.

      In case you are also someone who enjoys inflicting pain on yourself or someone near and dear to your heart, you can find instructions for doing leg raises on the captain's chair here.

      Tuesday, June 22, 2010

      They're Lovin' It

      If your daddy is going to be out of town for a few days, you simply must schedule a lunch date with your friends. It will help to pass the time while also providing your Mama with a much-needed dose of Diet Coke.  Bonus points if the restaurant has a playground and your meal comes with a Shrek toy.

      --This has been a Public Service Announcement brought to you by the Mellon Children.

      Monday, June 21, 2010

      Get 'Er Done

      My mother hates that phrase by the way. Me, well, I'm not going to plaster it across my windshield or anything, but I can see its value.  Because sometimes you really do just need to--ahem--get 'er done. And let me tell you, I've never seen a group more skilled at that then these fellows right here:

      The #11 crew had me sitting in awe all day long Saturday. Of course, there's the glitzy pit stop action that can make or break a race. I really have no adequate words to describe how thrilling it is to watch that car come speeding in to be swarmed by these guys like a hive of mechanic bees. I barely had time to snap this picture before Brian was zooming off again.
      But then there's also all of the strategy and adjustments that come with racing on a road course instead of the usual ovaly-type one. I'm sure you find my technical jargon rather awe inspiring too, right? While it's true that I didn't understand half of the things that were said and done, I was still enthralled just watching all of the decisions being made.  That team just rolled with all the punches that were thrown their way--and if you watched the race, then you know that there were quite a few jabs that had to be absorbed. Even though I had absolutely nothing to do with the #11's solid 13th finish, I still felt really proud of those guys. BigSpot is lucky to have found such a great team to work with.

       I am slowly absorbing the NASCAR lingo--and I have this guy to thank for a lot of that:
      Joey D--aka my lameduck BFF--not only excels at tire catching, (jettisoning?) but he also is a professor of tire dissection. Thanks to his expert tutelage, I now have a sketchy understanding of why the crew takes a blow torch to the tires that come off the car. 

      Let me see if I can remember...this is where my visual aids will come in handy.

      The rubber gets really hot after having gone around the track at whiplash-inducing speeds. So, when the car comes down pit road, it picks up debris that gets stuck in the rubber. The blow-torch wielder removes that layer of grit and grime so that the depth of the remaining tire can be measured. That's what he's doing here--measuring how much wear the tire got in the center vs. the edges. Those numbers he's writing are important

      to this guy because he's an engineer. (read: very smart) He puts those numbers into a top secret formula that I speculate includes the gratuitous use of a black hat and the word "abracadabra". Then from thin air he pulls numbers that tell the crew how much pressure should be added or subtracted from each of the tires. Or something like that anyway. If you have any questions about my facts, you'll have to check with Sensai Spinnawitz. Although I will be candid here and say that I do question my mentor's sanity being as he suggested I attempt to operate the blow torch right there in the pits in the middle of a race. Visions of gas cans exploding in rapid-fire secession all the way to the finish line flashed before my eyes before I quickly declined that opportunity. Anyone of stable mind would know that there needs to be a mile long, fire proof perimeter set up before anyone hands me an open flame. Even with those precautions in place, I'm not sure it would be a wise move--I do like having eyebrows after all.

      As mentioned, Road America is a road course. This means that you see the cars go by about every 2 minutes or so. Luckily, ESPN was playing up in the box so I could watch the action happening on the rest of the course. But, dude, they play a lot of commercials. Which left me with a fair bit of down time to study my surroundings. I did spend a fair number of those minutes studying him:

      But, well, we've been married for nearly 9 years now, so that got old after awhile. Thus, I moved on to other, more novel sights. Here's a brief rundown of what caught my eye:

      A) The crew that works hard should be fed accordingly. Enter Smuckers Uncrustables. I wonder if anyone has approached them about possible associate sponsorship? Seems like a win-win to me. I'll take a grilled cheese.

      B) Is this where they keep the magic wands and white rabbits?

      C) Aren't my shoes cute? I ♥ Boden.

      Do you know what else I ♥ ? My new NASCAR BFF Ashley Parlett. She is a truly fascinating person. I'm not even exaggerating per my usual habit either. She actually builds cars. Builds them. You can imagine how this just blows my mind considering that I can't even figure out how to get the Volvo's high beams to stay on without having to keep holding the lever thing down. She has the coolest stories to tell about her racing days and being a female car chief in a mostly male-dominated world. But don't trust me, find out for yourself by checking out her blog: www.greaseormascara.com/

      I wish I would have gotten a picture with her, but I was too busy having my "OMG how cute is this girl?" moment. And here's the kicker: when I mentioned her new status as my BFF, rather than mumbling about restraining orders and stalking laws while backing slowly away, she actually said "I'm stoked". So obviously, she has good taste, right? Wonder where she stands in the Great Get 'Er Done Debate?

      Sunday, June 20, 2010

      Saving the world, one outfit at a time

      Would you believe that not only is there someone out there besides my mom who regularly reads this blog, but that there is also someone out there who actually sees the wisdom in my ramblings and heeds my advice? No? Me neither. But there is. Check it:

      See that scarf? The one she's pointing to? Yea, that one. I inspired Danielle to wear that. After reading this post , she was so jazzed at the idea of a statement accessory, that she enlisted the use of one of her own to wear to our Father's Day lunch.  And I have to say she looks mighty cute in it, wouldn't you agree?

      Sure, some people might say that she shouldn't be encouraging my blogging ridiculousness for fear that it might begin to run amuck. In the interest of maintaining a veneer of honesty,  I will concede that they might have a point there. Still, I choose to focus instead on how I am making the world a better place. Saving lives. Humdrum fashion ensembles have been known to kill many a buzz dontcha know.

      Friday, June 18, 2010

      Do you think they're on to me?

      Mama: Do you guys want to go outside and play with Play Doh?
      Chase: But the Play Doh will get lost if we take it outside.
      Mama: One can only hope...

      Thursday, June 17, 2010

      The Future Has Been Mapped

      There's a lost and found bin right outside the door to the kids' club at the gym. Every Thursday when we passed that sucker, Chase would reach in and grab a pretend NASCAR headset. Every. Single. Time. He never fussed about having to put it back or anything, but he was certainly pulled to that bright red toy like a moth to a flame.

      Well, today Ms. Christine--who even before today's events was high on his favorite people list--offered to let Chase keep the treasure since it had been lying there for several months waiting for someone to lay claim to it. You would have thought he'd just been given an endless supply of ice cream sundaes by the way his eyes lit up. He just couldn't seem to come to terms with his own luck. 

      Chase: "You mean, I get to borrow them?"
      Mama: "No, Ms. Christine said you can keep them forever."
      Chase: "Forever?"
      Mama: "Yep. Forever."
      Chase: "In the basement?"
      Mama: "Sure."
      Chase: "You mean, I get to borrow them?"
      etcetera, etcetera, etcetera

      He wore the headset all the way home while keeping up a constant stream of chatter about race cars, needing gas, pit crews, and Brian Scott. My favorite line: I want to be a pit crew person so I can tell Brian Scott to come get new tires.

      I do have to say that it was nice having him focus on someone else's driving for a change. Wonder how long that will last?

      Wednesday, June 16, 2010

      Trials and Tribulations

      I decided to change up my hair color a bit and go for some reddish/coppery highlights. Can you see them?

      I love the color--change is good. However, when Akram dried and flat ironed my hair, he gave me a deeper-than-normal side part. That presents me with a bit of a problem:
      I don't know about ya'll, but I kind of like being able to see out of both eyes. So I tried blowing it out of the way,
      but it kept falling right back down, so I tried tilting my head to the side instead.
      That worked until my neck started getting a crick in it. I thought I had the solution when I tucked the hair behind my ears.
      The problem there was I don't think flat hair suits my face shape unless I hollow out my cheeks by making fish lips. Sadly this expression would garner me many strange looks from passersby if I ventured out in public that way. So now, I'm just at a loss. I'll continue pondering...
      at least until I wash and dry it back into a normal part.

      Tuesday, June 15, 2010

      And the results are in

      Yesterday, I met with the allergist to go over Chase's latest blood work. Perhaps you remember when he had that done? 

      While his numbers did decline, he still has a Class IV allergy to peanuts and almonds. Peas are a Class III. In very simplistic terms,  the difference between the two is that IVs have a greater chance of having an anaphylactic reaction whereas IIIs are more of the vomit all over everything and get a rash variety. The doctor did say that 20% of kids end up outgrowing the peanut allergy, so we'll continue testing to see if he'll be one of the lucky ones. Fingers crossed.

      He's got a handful of Class II allergies as well, but those aren't a major concern as the risk of anaphylaxis is minimal. In order of IgE levels those foods are: pistachio, cashew, soybean (which he eats), safflower, hazelnut, Brazil nut and pine nut.  I have to remember next time I give him edamame to check his mouth for a rash though most of the soy that he eats is in highly processed foods which breaks the protein down to a level he's been able to tolerate.

      He tested negative for macadamia, pecan, walnut and sunflower seed. Which means I guess I'll have to share my pecan pie with him if he asks. But I don't think he will because he still won't touch green beans no matter how many times I tell him he isn't actually allergic to them. My guess is that he's been so ingrained in the "no nuts" mentality that there's no way the kid is ever going to go near one. That's fine. More pie for me.

      The pictures are from Joshua's birthday party this weekend. I know how twitchy you all get when I have a post without visual aids.

      Thursday, June 10, 2010

      Mellon in Oz

      I think most moms would agree with this statement: "I want to look stylish and put together, but I don't want to have to think too hard about it." Right? Now, I'm not talking high-fashion, land-in-the-pages-of-Vogue stylish. No, what I'm talking about is looking stylish enough to feel confident that no one is whispering about my lack of fashion sense as I chase my kids all over the playground. The solution I have found is this:

      A neutral base. I tend to lean toward the grey spectrum, but I thought I'd switch it up a bit for this post and go with navy blue instead. I am a wild child. So this outfit is pretty simple: tank, short-sleeved cardi-type shirt, jeans and flats. Perfectly presentable. This is where you start--or even where you end if it's been one of those days where you were lucky to even get to brush your hair. But, maybe you don't want to be quite so plain jane. Maybe you want to add a little personality all the while keeping in mind that caveat of not having to expend too much brain power to get there. This is where the statement accessory comes in. It's all a matter of how far you want to take it:
      Maybe you just want a small pop of color like these red flats and a dainty gold charm necklace. Or are you feeling a bit bolder? Click your heels three times...
      Simply throwing a cap on my head makes the look feel like it has more depth. But perhaps you're not really a hat person.  Try this then:
      A solid color scarf and heels--ideal for walking down the yellow brick road. Too warm for a scarf?

      Try a brightly colored necklace instead. I could go on and on, but I think you can see how the statement accessory can liven up your daily uniform. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't warn you that the statement accessory works best as a single entity. Things can get messy when you try to make all of them play together. Then you end up with an ensemble that even the most brainless of us would know to avoid:
      I think I better get to clicking those heels again.

      Wednesday, June 09, 2010

      Dream Weaver

      So it's probably no big surprise that at times I can be a bit--um--anxious. If I didn't already know this about myself, I would have found it out when I googled "dreaming about not attending class all semester" as apparently these types of dreams are quite common manifestations of the angst that can lurk in the depths of one's pysche. It would seem that I am more emo than I knew as I find myself having this dream quite often. Of course, my version doesn't exactly follow the normal pattern, but that really isn't a big shock either, now is it?

      My dream always involves an elective math class for veterinary school. In the dream, I go to the class and then decide that I'd rather take an english class instead. But I forget to withdrawal from the first class, so I end up with an F on my transcript. I always wake up sure that I really do have a marred Ohio State University transcript sitting in the filing cabinet downstairs. For those first few minutes of consciousness, I am really and truly freaked out. This puzzles me for a few reasons:
      1. I was only in vet school for one quarter before I admitted to myself that I really didn't want to be a veterinarian--so why is that the setting for this dream? Is it because I feel like I've let down all those classmates who voted me Most Likely to Succeed since my definition of success found me being an elementary school teacher turned stay-at-home mom? I guess it makes sense in a way because even though my time there was brief, it was a major turning point in my life. So maybe the dream has me returning again and again to that moment like it's the crossroads montage scene in a coming of age movie?
      2. Why Math vs. English? Is this representing some internal struggle that I've had because I thought being smart meant I had to go the math/science route, despite the fact that I actually enjoyed writing and reading more? Am I subconsciously regretting that I never pursued writing as a career? Does my subconscious think that I'm not measuring up to my potential now that I've thrown away my math/science brain? Or am I neurotically reading too much into the dream by looking for an answer to a riddle that was never posed?
      3. Why do I care so much about an F in the dream? In real life, I skipped at least half of my lectures. The night before my canine anatomy final found me at home watching 7th Heaven reruns instead of in the lab studying with all of my peers. Clearly, I wasn't engaged in my studies, yet I still managed a 3.21 GPA.  Am I feeling guilty knowing that I could have had the 4.0 if I would have put forth just a bit of effort? Do I feel like maybe I should have gotten an F or two as that would probably have been the fairest representation of the grade I deserved based on the amount of work I did? And what does it matter anyway? I withdrew from the program 3 weeks later. And that was 10 years ago. Why is this still floating around in my brain? Which brings me to my final question...
      4. What kinds of anxiety dreams do people who have been home schooled have?
      If anyone out there has any sort of insight into any of the above, please share them with me. It appears I'm in need of a little psychoanalysis.

      Tuesday, June 08, 2010

      Sickies Suck

      I knew something was wrong when not even Brownie Bites could get the littlest to smile. Sure enough, a visit to the doctor on Monday found us with a diagnosis of strep throat--again.
      Awfully pathetic looking, isn't she?

      Monday, June 07, 2010

      Mellon Was Here

      I bet a few of you were wondering if I was actually at the lake last weekend since there seemed to be no photographic evidence to that effect. Well, yes I was there. You'll recall of course that Drew never, ever voluntarily picks up a camera to take a picture of me. I've tried everything from sly suggestion to all out temper tantrum throwing to get him to change his ways, but the message just hasn't gotten through. However, you might also recall that David--my go to photo man--was there. So I do have a few pictures--not one of them is in any way, shape or form flattering though. Not that I've ever let such a thing stop me before, so why start now?

      Doing what I do best at the lake: nothing at all.

      This would be my "terrified Chase and/or Nate will fall overboard and Andy will run them over face". Scary--on so many levels.

       This is me appearing more relaxed, yet I'm not really as you'll note by how tightly I've got a hold of Amaya's life vest. The other arm is wrapped around to grip the gate--just in case that sucker decided to spontaneously open on its own. What? It could happen. I know, I know. I'll look into taking some sort of anti-anxiety medication before the next boating trip. 

      Also...what is the deal with those shiny legs? Stupid sunscreen. This is what I get for trying to be healthy. Never again.

      Friday, June 04, 2010

      Crafting with Mellon

      Ok, so the title is a smidge misleading. There is no crafting involved unless you consider stabbing a candle crafting. So I have these candles, right?
      And they're nice enough. But one day I found myself getting fidgety after having been kept on hold by the doctor's office for 10 minutes. So, I did what any other completely sane person would do in that predicament: I repeatedly stabbed one of the candles with a flower pin that was lying next to it. Turned out that I kind of liked how the pin looked stuck in the candle. Even wax cylinders deserve a little bling don't you think?
      I'm kind of excited about this discovery because I love pins--especially vintage ones--but I hardly ever actually wear them. So, now I'll just go bedazzle all of my candles with them instead. I think this very involved, complicated technique would also work for those misfit earrings that you just can't bear to toss. Oh and here's where the candles are right now:

      As you can see, I'm still playing around with this mantle. I got my 4, which I love, but I'm not sure about the candles there.  I'm thinking I might scoot the L4 toward the middle and maybe have the clock overlap it a bit. Like a collage. A Mellon Collage. That would totally be considered crafting right? So now you know the secret of my patented decorating method: keep trying things until you eventually find the composition that works. It's an art form really.