Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Homework Doom

I need homework help. I'm having a hard time helping my third grader with his social studies homework. We were trying to name the states on a blank U.S. map, and I was really struggling. (Don't mock me until you try it yourself.)

And forget about helping the sixth grader with his power point presentation in French on Impressionism. He left me in his academic dust two years ago.

Sometimes I know the answers, but I don't know how to help them without giving them the answers. Like when they're doing math problems. I can do basic math, and even a little algebra. (Not much more, however.) But when it comes to helping them, I have no idea how.

This is why I'm not a teacher, and why I'm not home-schooling.

Next year I'm going to have another kid doing homework. I'm doomed.

Was this covered on Parent Orientation Day?

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Made-to-Order Day

What's not to like? I spent Memorial Day sleeping in (until 10 a.m.! Thanks, kids!), watching Firefly on DVD, gardening, and having an afternoon margarita or two.

The sun was shining; it was warm but not too hot.

Aside from the relentless demands from C. Peevie to take him to buy a video game, it was pretty much a made-to-order day.

For you gardeners out there, I decided to experiment with perennials in the front garden patch rather than the usual annuals. I planted echinacea, euphoria, nepeta (AKA catmint), salvia, and snow-on-the-mountain. (C. Peevie picked out the snow-on-the-mountain. He said, "Hey mom, remember what character and what book had snow-on-the-mountain in her garden?" I didn't. He reminded me: Atticus's neighbor, Mrs. Dubose, in To Kill a Mockingbird.)

Soon I'll post a picture. Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Moving to Oklahoma

I grew up in Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia. (BTW, I don't think anyone from Philadelphia actually refers to Philadelphia as "Philly".) I loved my friends, my school, my church, my youth group, my neighborhood, my life.

Then when I was 16 my dad's company moved their corporate headquarters to Oklahoma, and we were the casualties, picked up from our lives as we knew them and dropped into completely new and unacceptable lives in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, like we were in a witness protection program, only without the law and order drama.

I was bitter and anti-social for a very long time.

My parents tried to make the one-way trip from PA to OK like a "vacation," but we were not fooled. Especially when we kept stopping at historic houses and civil war battlegrounds. I don't remember for sure, but I probably stayed in the car and sulked.

I remember arriving in Broken Arrow on a Friday night that summer. We drove down Main Street at about 7 p.m. No one was walking on the sidewalks. The shops were dark. I literally saw tumbleweed blowing down the middle of the street, like it was some kind of Clint Eastwood movie.

Despair started in my toes and moved north. My legs got heavy, my stomach churned, and my shoulders sagged.

"I've died and gone to hell," I told my parents.

Not that I'm melodramatic or anything.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

New and Improved

I have learned how to add photographs to my blog, so now I invite you all to revisit earlier posts to see my charming images, mostly taken with my cell phone.

Submit Your Blopics Now

It's harder than you might think to come up with an interesting blog topic (blopic) every day. I know I make it look easy, like the topics just pop up and the words flow out--but seriously, this is work. I should get paid.

Anyway, maybe you could help me out. What blopics would catch your eye? Do you have parenting dilemmas that this blog could help you figure out? Would you like an in-depth analysis of global warming or the war in Iraq? How about a survey of the blogosphere? Tips for starting your own freelance writing business?

We are here to serve.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Plucky People You Should Know

Earlier this month, Samantha Larson (age 18) reached the summit of Mt. Everest, becoming the youngest person to have scaled the "seven summits"--the highest mountain on each of the continents.

Her first summit experience was Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa when she was 12 years old--and apparently, she was hooked.

Check out her web site at

She's got a a pretty amazing level of focus and determination--not to mention pluck--for anyone, let alone someone so young. I wonder if that's something you're born with, or if you pick it up somewhere along the way.

I know a few people--very few--with that kind of focus. One of them is Mike Barratt, a NASA astronaut and mission specialist who's training for a long duration flight on the International Space Station. Here's a link to Mike's NASA biography:

I don't have that kind of focus or pluck. (BTW, isn't "pluck" a really great word?) My kind of focus is the kind that enables me to write a blog post a few times a week on top of all the TV I've got to watch. Sometimes I just don't think I'll be able to get it all done.

Oh well, I guess there's a reason that there's all kinds of folks in the world. It would be so dull if we were all like Samantha Larson or Mike Barratt--everybody would be all fulfilled and high-achieving and stuff, and nobody would want to stay home and do the laundry. Then there'd be heck to pay.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

"24" Finale, Finally.

How painful was "24" this year?

On a scale of pencil callous to amputation without anesthesia, I'd say it was not quite childbirth, but maybe in the range of apendicitis to anal fissure. (I'm sorry--was that too gross for your delicate sensibilities? This blog apologizes.)

OK, so we had the "24" finale this week. Finally. This season was like a pile-up on the Kennedy Expressway: painful, but you can't not look at it.

Here are links to my favorite recaps of the finale and other episodes: Dave Barry's 24 Blog: and Television Without Pity's hilarious and on-point (by point) recap at

(BTW, if you like TV, you might like TWOP's recaps of your favorite shows. Some of the recaps make me wet my pants, they are so hilarious.)

Here's what I liked about this season:

Kiefer (in handcuffs, stumbling out of the ocean, in black t-shirt and jeans, etc., etc.).
Vice President Darth Vader.
The character development of the Numbers guy.
No Kim Bauer.
Shooting and hand-to-hand combat.
Milo's Sudden Demise.
Kiefer's Evil Brother Dr. Romano.
Bill Buchanan and his little lady in the White House, Karen.

Here's what I didn't like about this season:

The plot that made no sense whatsoever.
CTU soap operatics.
Recycled plot-lines like the White House Staffer Unwittingly Sleeping With a Spy and The President Removed with a 25th Amendment Maneuver.
Everything being five minutes away from CTU or wherever Jack Bauer is.
Everything coming down to Jack's nephew. Huh?
Behroozed plot lines, like what ever happened to President Itzen?

I am addicted to "24". But after this season, I think I can be cured--unless TPTB (the powers that be) get new writers. It's not that they're bad writers--but they're done, they're tired, they're out of new ideas, and they need to work on Gilmore Girls or something a little less, well, "24."

Too bad Fox has already cancelled "Drive." It figures.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Mr. Peevie and I coined a neologism last night. I was complimenting him on how he incorporates the best female characteristics into his persona without sacrificing his maleness--and we decided we needed a word for that.

It can't be "androgynous," because even though that word technically denotes "having both masculine and feminine characteristics," it also means "having an ambiguous sexual identity." We cannot having people thinking that Mr. Peevie is sexually ambiguous.

Similarly, it's definitely not "hermaphrodite", because the concept is not biological or reproductive--it has to do with psycho-social considerations.

We tried "codrogynous" and "bidrogynous," but we settled on "syndrogynous" because it incorporates the prefix "syn", evoking synergy and symbiosis.

Full disclosure: I googled the word "syndrogynous", and I got two hits on one document. Apparently a consultant in England used the word two years ago in a report. So when we start to rake in the cash and prizes for having coined such a useful term, we'll share the wealth with Dr. Dyer.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Lame-tastic Communications Workshop

Today I went to a workshop on communication. I was underwhelmed.

The workshop description promises to teach you to deliver messages with "precise focus, "crystal clarity," and "influential power."

The whole method starts with the premise that there are only two types of speeches: persuasive/motivational, or instructive/informative. Is this really true? Isn't every speech or message persuasive and informative? If it's not persuasive, then why should your audience listen? And if it's not informative, then by what means do you actually persuade? With funny facial expressions? I'm just saying.

It seems to me that information is the river that the canoe of persuasion floats on. Or something like that.

According to this copyrighted method, the speaker first writes a proposition using a formula that goes something like this:

Every ______________ should/can _______________ because/by ______________.

This statement expresses the objective of your talk.

That's it. That's the magic formula for brilliant communication. The "should/because" combo frames the persuasive/motivational type of proposition, and the "can/by" combo frames the inform/instruct type of proposition.

Oh, and the "because/by" statement needs to include a plural noun. Because otherwise you'd just have one explanatory point rather than the requisite three or more.

Uh huh.

(Oh, and I just saved you $67. Let's split the difference; you can just pay-pal me $33.50 and we'll call it even.)

Can you imagine trying to force your thoughts into this arbitrary framework every time you prepare a message? I totally get the need for a clearly conceived and stated objective. But the formula is artificial and unnecessary. I'd like to propose my very own Miracle Communication Formula for Powerful Messages Every Time:

(Audience) will (get this value) from (this information). Every speech you give, every lesson you teach, must have an objective framed in this formula. Every portion of your speech must lead to accomplishing this objective.

Try it, and let me know how it works out. Maybe I'll copyright it and market it and become a millionaire, and you can say you knew me when.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

It's A Ballet Thing

OK, back to the ballet body image issue. It turns out that it was good that I didn't go off on the little dance teacher.

I related the conversation that M.P. had with her teacher to two of the other ballet moms, and got a whole new perspective on the deal. They think that it was likely that the ballet teacher was concerned about proper ballet form and posture, rather than chubby tummies sticking out during a ballet routine.

It still warrants a conversation with the teacher, because it's still not good that M.Peevie came away thinking that her teacher thinks she's fat--but now it seems likely that the teacher may have had an appropriate motivation for saying what she did, but that she needs to rethink how she communicates the concept of ballet posture to six-year-olds.

This is a completely different conversation, with a completely different tone, than the one I was prepared to have.

So this whole situation is yet another reminder to me that I need to hear all sides before forming a judgment, and especially before making things worse by going on the attack. That's my first inclination, of course--to jump in swinging, and ask questions later.

It's very Sermon-on-the-Mountish: blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Body Image at Age Six

I was wondering if I would come up with a blog topic today, and then my daughter dropped one in my lap.

She mentioned something about being too fat.

"You are not fat, darling," I reassured her. "You are perfect, and you have a perfect six-year-old body."

"Well, my teacher thinks I'm fat," she said.

"Well, she can kiss my shiny pink ass," I refrained from saying. Instead I asked her to clarify. "Why do you think she thinks you're fat?" I asked her.

"My tummy was sticking out when we were in ballet class, and she told me to suck it in during the recital," said M. Peevie innocently.

I was thinking, "She did NOT say that!" but I held my instantaneous rage in check and kept going. "Are you sure that's what she said?" I asked her. She was sure.

This brought back every microgram of shame I felt as a child who felt fat during my growing up years. I never remember a time that I did not feel fat, and I look back on photographs of myself, and I was far from fat. In some of my school pictures I was even pretty slender, and in most of them I was average height and weight. I don't think I was actually overweight until I was in high school, and even then, I think that my self-image was actually far worse than my actual appearance.

I remember being maybe 10 or 12 years old, and as I was buttering my bread at dinner my dad said to me, "Don't put so much butter on your bread--that's why you're so fat!" I left the dinner table crying and ran up to my room. To his credit, my dad knew he'd screwed up. He followed me upstairs and came into the room where I was belly-flopped on my bed. I think he apologized, but honestly, I can't remember. I guess the damage was done.

Maybe you're thinking, wah, wah, wah, it was a long time ago, get over it already. I am over it, but the takeaway from that tiny little episode of pain and neurosis is that I never, ever want to cause my kids to feel shame about themselves. (I probably have, and/or will, and someday the world will read about it in a blog!) And the other takeaway is that I am ready to kick some toned ballet teacher ass over this event.

I was relating this conversation to Mr. Peevie, and C. Peevie (age: not quite 12) was listening in. Being the voice of reason and maturity, he--C.P., that is--reminded me that it was possible that M. Peevie didn't quite get the story right, and that I should give the ballet teacher the benefit of the doubt. Crap. I rilly, rilly just want to go in there this week and rip her a new one, and relate the conversation to the ballet school owner as well. But C.P. is right, darn it all--I must first hear her side of the story.

But I swear, I am prepared to go off on her--in a controlled and mature manner, of course--if she did say something like that to my daughter. There is just no excuse.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Don't Tell Me To Calm Down

My biggest pet peeve is unsolicited advice. Don't tell me how to feel; don't tell me what I "should" do, don't try to fix me. Just...don't. I'm a grown-up. If I want advice, I will ask for it.

When I tell you how I feel (tired, sad, stuffed up, frustrated, etc.) please do not tell me how to fix it. Do not say, "Oh, have you tried vitamins?" or "Maybe you should see a therapist" or "Why don't you drink some green tea."

If I tell you I burned my brownies, don't tell me to try a different pan. If I mention that I'm frustrated because the CTA is running so slow, don't suggest that I take Metra. I swear, the next time someone gives me unsolicited advice, I will scream.

Unsolicited advice-giving has reached epidemic proportions in this country, and I think it's time we all take a stand against it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Helium Update

The jury is still out on whether Helium is good or evil or somewhere in-between. But, no matter, I'm still wasting a lot of time there.

And so far I've raked in 19 cents! Whoo-hoo! (I estimate that that works out to approximately 1.8 cents per hour. Not my most lucrative career choice, but still more profitable than blogging.)

You can read my profile and my articles here:

(Still don't know how to do that linkie-embedded thing.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Princess of Everything

My little girl is, as Mr. Peevie is wont to say, the complete package. She is beautiful, very smart, empathetic, talented at singing and dancing, and athletic. She is also as stubborn as they come, and once she makes her mind up about something, just give it up. You won't change it.

When M. Peevie was a tiny infant, I wanted to both nurse her and give her bottles, as I did with both of her brothers. Well, she would have none of it. She decided from the moment she latched on to The Real Thing that anything less would be unacceptable. No matter who tried to give her a bottle, and no matter what was in the bottle--different brands of formula, breast milk, juice, water, vodka--she refused to take it. She would scream and cry until her face was purple and her eyes were puffy slits.

So, as you can imagine, it was difficult to leave her with a babysitter. Fortunately, I was working from home at the time, and also fortunately, my neighbor was caring for her a couple of days a week. I would walk up the block, nurse her, and walk back home to work.

I'm hopeful that this personality trait will translate to tenacity when she's an adult, rather than something on the pathology end of the personality scale.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Chemo Countdown

My sister starts chemo tomorrow.

I wish it were me.

Not that I want to have breast cancer, or that I want to put my family through all that drama, but seriously. Of all the people in my family, she's the one that needs chemo. Any one of us would have been better equipped emotionally to handle this, but no. She's the one.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Wuv, twu wuv

Mr. Peevie and I celebrate 23 years of unmitigated wedded bliss today. No, really. OK, maybe not completely unmitigated, but pretty darn close.

Mr. Peevie himself arranged our romantic celebration. We met at the lovely Monaco Hotel, and shortly after we checked in the hotel staff sent up a bottle of wine and a note congratulating us on our anniversary. How totally sweet is that? I could not resist making fun of Mr. Peevie when he showed up at the hotel pulling a crammed suitcase just for our little overnighter. A whole suitcase! The same one he took to London for 10 days. Sometimes he is such a girl.

We had a complimentary glass of wine in the hotel lobby before walking over to the China Grill for dinner. I have resolved to keep experimenting with marinating and grilling skirt steak until I achieve a China Grill-esque result.

Next, we headed over to the Oriental Theatre to see Wicked. We had "loge" seats, and I was expecting some kind of sled, but then M.P. said, "Not luge, dork, loge." Turns out "loge" refers to some kind of balcony alcove, with room for two chairs. The seats were right in the front of the balcony, but the view of stage left was slightly obstructed. Or maybe it was stage right.

Anyway, Wicked was wicked. Entertaining, energetic, big. Elphaba had a beautiful, powerful voice. She held one note so long some people thought it was intermission, got up to go to the bathroom, and when they came back, she was still holding it. It's a wonder her face didn't turn blue. Which would have been an interesting combination with her awesomely green skin.

Actually, speaking of color coordination, the costuming was fabulous. Ozian native garb apparently favors green, turquoise, and aqua, with lots of layers and shapes. Brilliant.

We had grand plans to participate in some of the Looptopia activities after the show, but when we realized it was after 11, we dragged our lame, middle-aged selves back to the hotel and watched M*A*S*H reruns. After all these years, we can still quote entire scenes to each other, and M*A*S*H quotes frequently show up in our conversation. ("It's nice to be nice to the nice.")

Seriously, this strikes me as such a perfect anniversary event. For years early in our marriage, Mr. Peevie and I would watch M*A*S*H reruns together every night. I remember we went to the M*A*S*H show finale party at somebody's barn when we were still dating.

Anyway, the next morning, I slept in until 10 a.m., while Mr. P. got up (relatively) early to get his work-out in. We meandered up Michigan Avenue looking for a place to eat breakfast/lunch, and along the way we saw these guys:

They were completely spray-painted silver. I'm talking hair, skin, clothes, accessories, shoes. Everything was silver. They posed, completely still, until somebody put some money in their bucket, at which point they'd go robotic.

Tough way to earn a living. One guy dropped a carrot into the bin, and Tin Man, staying in character and keeping his cool, scooped it up and tossed it at him.

I think I started to miss the kids sometime after lunch. We stopped by the Virgin store to pick up gifts for the kids--boy, did that place make me feel anachronistic. Oh, and I was very excited that Mr. P. bought me the Firefly DVDs. He truly knows the way to a girl's heart. We headed home at four after a little more walking and shopping.

I could not have asked for a more wonderful husband or a more wonderful anniversary weekend. I am grateful.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Yet Another Time-Sink

Great. I have just discovered another time-sink of a website: It's a website for writers to read, write, and rate articles on hundreds of topics.

I can't vouch for whether it's really any good or not, because I've only just discovered it today. I'm guessing you don't really make much money on it, and the writing quality on many of the pieces I read today was pretty bad. Some were pretty good, though.

Nevertheless, I have already sunk two hours of time into it, both writing and reading articles. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The City as Art (with a Capital A)

I realize that this is probably not a new thought, but: I find that living in the city is like living in a multi-dimensional work of art that takes many forms. It's poetry, music video, film, short story, painting, and performance art all rolled up into one.

I love overhearing snatches of conversations as I'm hiking 25 minutes across the loop from train station to my office. I love seeing so many different kinds of people: students, corporate types, shabby types, parents, children, old and fragile, young and sturdy--all different colors and styles of skin and clothing and hair. I try to catch someone's eye, and smile, just to see if they'll smile back. (Don't you love it when a stranger smiles at you, for no apparent reason? I do.)

I love (and I know this might sound crazy to some of you) hearing the sounds of traffic and construction and the el. I love watching a ginormous hole in the ground gradually turn into a building. I get a kick out of craning my neck back and looking up to see steel and concrete scraping the sky. I act like a tourist in my own city.

I love looking in shop windows and smelling the restaurants. There's always something going on here--I love to check out what's playing at the Goodman or the Oriental, and who's doing a concert at the Legendary Chicago Theater. I haven't even mentioned the lakefront and the parks yet, but they're part of my urban love affair, too.

Of course, there are things not to like. I'm not Pollyanna, and I'm not completely ignorant. I know there are many people who are desperately poor, homeless, or mentally ill. It's mind-numbingly stupid that the people elected a comatose president of the county board, and that inDUHvidual voters keep on electing party hacks, and that our honorable politicians keep on nepotizing. Chunks of our city government thrive on patronage and corruption.

Whatever. I can't help myself. I still love the city. I'm glad I live here, and I'm glad I'm raising my kids here.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Cats and pups

Another fine weekend comes to a close.

All three kids and I were piled up together on the couch on Friday night, watching TV. I don't know where Mr. Peevie was. We were watching Deal or No Deal. At least I think we were. It's hard to remember that far back.

Anyway, we were watching TV together, and talking and laughing and tickling each other. We would root for the contestant, and holler at the TV "Take the deal!" or "NO DEAL! NO DEAL!", and then she'd choose, and we'd groan and laugh some more. It was a no-pressure, not-profound, simple and beautiful slice of eternity.

I made fried catfish and homemade hush-puppies for dinner tonight. Sounds good, right? No such luck. Nobody liked either the cats or the pups very much. Well, I liked the pups a little bit, and the cats were OK, but it turns out that my childhood prejudice against eating bottom-feeders got reinforced by my tastebuds. Next time I'm sticking to salmon or tilapia.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Website: Honorable Mention

I forgot to list another favorite website: Dave Barry's 24 blog. Here's the link:

Oh man, it cracks me up. At this point, I'm enjoying his blog more than the show itself.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Top Ten Movies, Annotated

My top 12 favorite movies:

1. To Kill a Mockingbird--characters that you'd want to know personally.

2. Twelve Angry Men (1957 version)--great story that unfolds entirely in a jury room; diverse, interesting, believable characters and dialogue.

3. Apollo 13--true, intense, inspiring drama; quotable dialogue.

4. Braveheart--brings history to life. Great story; Mel Gibson in a kilt.

5. Sixth Sense--Suspense and a great twist. Watch the DVD extras.

6. Cool Hand Luke--Paul Newman is so good looking it’s painful. And Luke is just plain cool.

7. Shawshank Redemption--Great story, great characters, great ending.

8. The Usual Suspects--Clever caper that keeps you guessing. Made me love Kevin Spacey.

9. Wit--True to life; wrenching. Emma Thompson acts the crap out of this role.

10. Toy Story--Clever and LOL funny, and not just for kids.

11. House of Games--Suspenseful con game that fools you to the end.

12. A Man for All Seasons--True, inspiring, fascinating story of Sir Thomas More.

Top Ten Web Sites

My top ten favorite web sites:

1. Television Without Pity
2. Language Log
3. Snopes
4. LibraryThing
5. Slate
6. Go Fug Yourself
7. Netflix
8. The Onion
10. Epicurious

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


I borrowed this idea from another blog. Here's my list of 101 Things About Me (in No Particular Order):

1. I am a horrible housekeeper.

2. My car is dirty, inside and out.

3. I don't know why those are the first two things I came up with to put on my list of 101 things about me, but there it is.

4. I drink Diet Coke like some people drink coffee and/or water.

5. Sometimes when I look out my window at my office, I see people in their underwear in the building across the street.

6. I love watching the fog roll in off the lake.

7. I watch too much TV.

8. If I went back in time and chose a new major in college, it would be radio, television and film. Or maybe just film.

9. If I went back in time to graduate school, I would do extra coursework to get a second master's degree in linguistics.

10. I have often toyed with the idea of going to law school and to seminary.

11. I have a Hollywood crush on Vincent D'Onofrio (the Law and Order: Criminal Intent guy).

12. I have three brothers and a sister. I'm fourth in birth order.

13. None of us five siblings lives in the same state. One lives out of the country.

14. My earliest memory is of standing near the gigantic hole in the ground that was to become the foundation of our new house. I must have been two years old at the time.

15. My best friend growing up was Jane.

16. Jane's mom was like my second mom. It's nice to have a second mom.

17. I have the best husband in the world.

18. I cry at M*A*S*H re-runs and DeBeer's commercials.

19. It embarrasses me that I get goosebumps at the singing of the national anthem.

20. I am afraid of the dark.

21. I have incredibly low pain tolerance.

22. I get nitrous oxide at the dentist for cleanings.

23. I know, right? Lame, but also: awesome.

24. I bite my fingernails.

25. I have the best job in the world: freelance writer.

26. I love attention.

27. I think giving the benefit of the doubt is a powerful peace-making strategy.

28. I have three children: two boys and a girl.

29. Parenting (well) is the hardest thing I've ever done.

30. And the best.

31. I played on the varsity softball team as a sophomore in high school. We went to the state championships.

32. I played pretty much every sport offered in junior high and high school: field hockey, tennis, volleyball, basketball, and softball.

33. My family moved from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma the summer before my junior year in high school.

34. I wrote investigative editorials on controversial issues for my high school newspaper. Nobody cared.

35. I loved college.

36. I have only been west of the Rockies once in my life.

37. I love San Francisco.

38. I've only traveled overseas twice, to Cluj (Romania), Vienna, and Budapest in 1996 and to London in 2004.

39. I believe in the power of one: saying one kind word to a stranger, picking up one piece of trash on the way to work, helping one homeless person, making one small change at a time.

40. I hate sentimentality.

41. It annoys me when people use the word "semantics" inappropriately.

42. I love irony.

43. My desert island food is chips and salsa.

44. But the salsa can't have cilantro in it.

45. I love to cook.

46. I love parties.

47. I love being out in the sun. If I didn't love Jesus, I'd be a sun-worshipper.

48. I have been pregnant eight times.

49. My first child was a baby girl, Caitlin, who was born 18 weeks premature and lived for two hours.

50. This was the most important thing you could know about me until C. Peevie was born 14 months later.

51. I don't think we will ever know in this life why horrible things happen, like babies dying. We might know in the next life--but maybe not.

52. I believe that God brings good out of bad things.

53. I don't understand how prayer works.

54. It's harder than I would have thought to write a list of 101 things about me.

55. I like lists.

56. I only have two first cousins.

57. I married a guy with the same first and last name as one of the first guys I dated back in high school. Weird.

58. I dated an Iranian guy in college, and learned to speak a little Farsi.

59. I taught freshman composition as a graduate assistant at Oklahoma State University.

60. I have a master's degree in Teaching English as a Second Language.

61. I speak a little Spanish, but I wish I were fluent.

62. Our motto when my husband and I left Oklahoma was, "Happiness is Oklahoma in the rear-view mirror!"

63. I won an essay contest in high school, and bought a 10-speed bike with the prize money ($100).

64. I ate biscuits and gravy for the first time at the award ceremony for the essay contest, and fell instantly in love.

65. I was named the intramural athlete of the year during my junior year in college. I still have the trophy. One of my intramural sports was ping-pong.

66. I have lived in Chicago longer than anywhere else.

67. I love the Chicago skyline.

68. I love the lakefront, the neighborhoods, downtown; I love the character of the city, the faces of the people, the restaurants, the parks. I could go on.

69. I have a lot of friends who are cops, but I think the police department is a corrupt mess.

70. I will probably vote for Barack Obama for president in 2008.

71. I took piano lessons for four years as a child.

72. I love playing the piano, but I have to work very hard to learn a moderately-difficult piece.

73. I have relative pitch and about a four-note singing range.

74. I have green eyes.

75. I love to read: fiction, non-fiction, mysteries, memoir, theology, young adult lit., biography, history, poetry, philosophy, the Bible.

76. I do not have cable TV.

77. I wish I did have cable TV.

78. But if I did, I'd be the worst parent/friend/wife ever.

79. I'm a good speller.

80. I cleaned houses for a couple of summers during my college years. (Again with the irony.)

81. I used to play USTA tennis tournaments during my high school and college years. Once I just barely beat a woman who was eight months pregnant by hitting the ball just out of her reach.

82. My worst job was as a waitress at Ken's Pizza in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Once I got a one-cent tip and note on a napkin that said, "You are the worst waitress ever."

83. I love Baroque music.

84. I did a triathlon in, let's see, was it 1989?

85. I ran the Chicago marathon in, hmmm, I think it was 1991.

86. I think running a marathon is 90 percent (or more) mental.

87. Breast-feeding my first son was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

88. I never had braces, but I wish I had gotten them as a child.

89. The book that had the greatest impact on my spiritual life (besides the Bible) is Martyn Lloyd-Jones' Sermons on the Sermon on the Mount.

90. The book that had the second greatest impact on my spiritual life (besides the Bible) is Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.

91. I have kind, helpful, generous in-laws.

92. I have never smoked a cigarette. I tried a pipe once and a cigar once, but didn't like either one.

93. I have never had a hangover.

94. But I love to drink wine.

95. Sometimes I browse the chip aisle at the grocery store.

96. When I was a kid I wanted to be the first woman in the major leagues and/or the first woman on the Supreme Court.

97. My favorite (cancelled) TV show is Fox TV's "Firefly."

98. My favorite currently-playing TV show is "24," and I totally have a crush on Jack Bauer, but at the moment it is seriously straining my ability to suspend disbelief.

99. I have never had a broken bone.

100. Once I won a mug from a radio station for calling in with a truly hilarious joke that the DJs did not even get. It was this one: Question: How many surrealists does it take to change a lightbulb? Answer: Two. One to fill the bathtub with brightly colored machine tools, and one to hold the giraffe. HAH!

101. And finally, I have always wanted to be a writer. Does this count?