The Beauty of Winter

Yes, winter is cold. Yes, winter in the midwest can be miserable.  Yet, just like summer flowers, or spring rainbows, or even fall leaves, winter can toss out a few beautiful curveballs that can take your breath away.

Overnight, we had a weather phenomenon that those who live in colder climes are familiar with (although they may not be familiar with the name); we had freezing fog. No, not Frozen Fog – which can also sometimes be sleet…but freezing fog.  A phenomenon where the water is still liquid – even though the temperatures are below the freezing point (for example, it is 5 degrees right now here), and remain liquid until they come in contact with something.

Freezing fog can create havoc for drivers in the morning. Freezing fog can mess with electrical systems (because it gets into everywhere).  But freezing fog is also responsible for one of mother nature’s most beautiful creations – the Hoar Frost.


And Hoar Frost?  Can take your breath away with its beauty.  All branches are covered in tiny white crystals….and the world glitters.

Thanks Mother Nature for a great start to this morning.


Tiger's Blood

After the basketball game yesterday, we stopped into a new(ish) restaurant here in the 'burb  The place opened up about 3 or so months ago and features baked potatoes and New Orleans Snowballs.  After chowing down on a hot dog (the King is not an adventurous foodie by any means), he turned his 10 year old eyes to the New Orleans' Snowball offerings (like a snowcone, but different in consistency and flavor absorbption).  When you are 10...of course you have to try the flavor known as "Tiger's Blood".

The color of this thing? Brilliant and jewely.  The flavor? According to the King...ah.maze.ing. (Berries with a hint of coconut).

Given the look on his face as he was eating it...it must be good to be the King.


Lil’ basketball anyone??

Although school was cancelled Friday, the local rec association opened the schools so that scheduled Rec Basketball would go on as scheduled.  This thrilled the King to no end as he was dying to get out of the house and run off a little excess energy on the court.



While the team was not successful in a win, the King had a blast with his teammates and the entire team was happy to get back on the court after an almost month-long holiday absence.


Cold temps and Soccer allow a reset of sleep patterns.......

Last night, the local school districts made a call for the health and safety of the children and cancelled school for today. Temps were scheduled to be sub zero and windchills were to approach -25+.  

Prior to the King's school calling off, Momma Oz was doing everything in her motherly power (threatening, cajoling, wheedling, and the like) to try to keep the King awake.  He was drifting off - even in the middle of a game with Mom.  See, every day this week, he has awakened at 4:00 each morning, and by the end of the afternoon he was cooked.

Telling him that some of the largest districts had cancelled (but not his) seemed to get a little energy out of him, but not much. He begged (at 7:15) for me to let him go to bed for the night.  Recognizing this would continue the 4:00 a.m. pattern, I told him I had to keep him awake at least until 7:45.  He was NOT happy with that.

So I made him come over next to me to look to see if his superintendent had made a call yet.  Then I googled "You Tube, Great Soccer Goals".  We started watching "50 Greatest Goals" and he perked up a little more.  Then it was off to "Tim Howards 16 saves in one World Cup Game".  He was even more a little awake. (And totally doing play by play on the saves....).  Still he kept on me to let him go to bed ASAP.

I switched over to the Superintendent's twitter....where a cancellation had just been announced. BOOM.  Snow (Cold) day dance commenced.  I told him he was welcome to head off to bed. He looked at me like I was nutz, and off he went to his room for some XBox 360 with his buds; the were celebrating no school in great form with first person shooter games.

At 10:30, Mr. Oz and I called for a shut down of electronics.  By 10:45, the King was out like a light.  And surprise, surprise.......no 4:00 a.m. wakeup.  He is still sleeping, but I am guessing that will change within the hour.  

I think we may have just broken the pattern. 


Poor King...rough first day back....

When Mr. Oz arrived home from work, the King was crashed out on the downstairs couch...computer still in hand.  Not surprising given that this was the first day back in the school routine (and the King greeted Momma Oz at 6:00 a.m. this morning indicating that he had been up since 4 a.m.).

An hour later, when Momma Oz arrived home, the King was still snoozing and it was a challenge of EPIC proportions to get him up to eat dinner and do his homework.  Such a challenge that - at 7:00 p.m. - when homework was declared complete, he went back into his room, climbed into bed and has been crashed ever since

A rough start to a long week for sure!


A year later....

Last year, as the King's holiday break drew to a close, a Polar Vortex (something virtually unheard of when I was younger....thanks The Weather Channel) fired up Winter Storm Hercules (naming winter storms is again something that was virtually unheard....thanks weather channel). The result?  A massive dump of snow followed by bitter cold which delayed the King's return to school by an additional week.

Of course, the kids were thrilled - the parents, not so much.  Here is a little taste of what it looked like in early January, 2014.

This winter season, we are a bit behind in our snow totals.  Like 6"+ behind.  So imagine Mr. Oz and Momma Oz's shock when we looked outside in the late afternoon and caught a glimpse of snowfall!  Much to the King's chagrin (and his parent's delight), this anticipated snowfall is to be less than an inch, but I am sure the first signs of flakes floating down put fear into the hearts of all Northwest Ohio parents.

As of dusk...here is what has accumulated.  What a difference a year makes, to be sure.


Let's hope he doesn't have to write an essay

Upon the King's return to school on Monday, let's hope that his first assignment is "What I planned to do on my Winter Break" rather than "What I did on my Winter Break".  Momma and Mr. Oz had plenty of things planned to do.  Outdoor skating at Mud Hens Stadium (where they had ice down for a Winterfest game), Winter Wonderland, and the like.  Instead....much of the break (post Christmas) looked more like this for the King:

Asleep. Gatorade by his side. Trying to kick a nasty virus

That isn't to say that he didn't have any fun over break.  Just prior to getting sick, he was able to hit the ice for an indoor open skate with his big bother and his big bruh's friend B.

And then there was the whole "Skating at Joe Louis Arena" thing that kicked his vacation off. 

But still, for the most part the King had a pretty yucky Winter Break thanks to the nasty germs that seemed to want to invade Ozland (and the King in particular).

So lets just hope he doesn't have to write an essay.


Time for a little catching up!

I received the following text from the Eldest about a month ago. Seems he was cruising the archives of the Ozlander's blog home late at night ........

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the the enjoyment the Eldest/Prince gained out of the trip down memory lane might be something that the King might appreciate in the future.  As a result....at least for now...Momma Oz is back and bloggin!

So.....to catch you up, the King is now 10 and is a huge sports freak (Travel Soccer, Baseball, Basketball, Fishing)....

The Eldest/Prince is now engaged...a homeowner, a horse owner, and a Union man at Chrysler, all while still playing a bit o' hockey!

Mr. Oz is still turning out beautiful woodwork:

and me?  Well...in October, I finally did it....I graduated with my bachelors degree - Summa Cum Laude with a BSBA in Information Technology.  WOOOOOOOOOT!

And that my friends has you all.caught.up. with the happenings in Ozland.


This is the way 2015 begins..not with a whimper but with a virus!

As 2015 dawns, the house is full of coughing, wheezing, and fevering folks.  Thankfully, not Momma Oz or Mr. Oz, but the oldster Grandpa as well as the young-star King. Yes, virus season has been unleashed in the house, and the germs are swirling around Mrs. Oz - even as I type this.

The only upside?  Because of the holiday break for the King, no school days were missed in the catching of the virus. At least not yet.  And I can only hope that "not yet" turns into "not at all" as we head into the final weekend of break. 


Single Tasking – The New Way to Get things Done?

Like many, most mornings I sit and write out a to do list of things that I “have” to accomplish today. Like most women, the list is an ambitious one.Yet, at the end of the day, over half of the list remains and feelings of failure set in.

This morning, as I looked at what remained undone from a series of lists, contemplating what else needed to be finished right now, I came to a realization. Multi-tasking doesn’t work. Yes, this flies in the face of many time management gurus. But it really is true.

With 300+ pages to read for school, a house that needs picked up, valentines day gifts to be finished, and about 100+ other things on the list, you would think that the only way to get it all accomplished would be to multitask. You would think wrong. 

If you run a search on the phrase “Multi-Tasking doesn’t work” you will find over 7,000,000 (million, people) entries. The first page alone shows some highly credible resources.  See, it turns out the human brain was not designed to multi-task, but to focus on the task at hand. Well, that is unless one of the tasks you are performing is an “autopilot” task.  (Such as listening to the radio while knitting or something).

As a result of the intensive studying I have done on multi-tasking versus single-tasking (okay, so the study was task-list avoidance rather than true study), I am rethinking my task-list as well as how I perform it.  From paring the list down each day to things that I can truly get accomplished, to focusing on exactly what needs to be done as I do it – living in the moment or task so to speak- I want to determine if single-tasking is more effective for me. Yes, in effect, I am clearing out the ADD of task list performance.  I will keep you posted on how that goes.


Perspective and Perseverance

A post last year by a young mother (and a beautiful niece of mine) made me laugh. She was musing that she must have a sign on her forehead that said "hands full", because people kept telling this mother of three children that she has her hands full.  I will say that she certainly does - two active and vibrant young boys who are under six and a two year old little princess, a home-based cake business, a household to take care of, the list goes on an on.  She is one of those women whom you look at and say "I don't know how she does it", and yet she does!  With grace no less.

I genuinely believe that each of our lives is a delicate balance between time conflicts and outside/family demands. The rhythm of life today can be overwhelming.  We each wear so many hats - mother, father, wife, daughter, student, business owner, career executive, maid, car repair man, homeopathic family practice health care provider, - that it is difficult to determine at any given moment in which persona we need to act to get the job at hand done!

That is where perspective, and perseverance truly come in.  The kids will only be little - once.  The house won't clean itself, but it will wait (as long as it doesn't have to wait too long).  Yes, we all have our hands full, and I don't think many of us would have it any other way.

(Note, this was sitting as as draft post from a year ago. It was as true then as it is now so I updated a few minor details...) 


You know how yesterday I was longing for the lake?

Ran up to the lakehouse yesterday to check in on the house and make sure all was well.  Turns out...all was NOT as well as it could be. The first indication that things might be a little rough came as we arrived.  There was between 2 and 3 feet of snow in the driveway and the front yard.  The trek in was the TRUE definition of trudging. Especially for the King/2.0.  While he was attempting to stay within his Dad’s footsteps, at certain points he ended up waist deep.

Thankfully, Mrs. Oz had brought a shovel with them…the deck to enter the house was no better with approximately 2.5 feet of snow between us and the door.  Needless to say…we were cold when we walked into the house.

And it only got colder.

It seems the pilot light on the furnace had gone out  some point and the house was sitting at a balmy 30 degrees. Yup. Pipes were frozen, the toilets were blocks of ice, and when Mr. Oz first relit the furnace it cycled several times before the pilot light went out again. On went the stove (gas) burners and oven, a fire was quickly lit in the fireplace, and Mr. Oz again refired the furnace.  This time – victory. But we knew that we would have to get an HVAC guy out to figure out why the furnace was having some difficulties.  Mr. Oz was NOT going to leave Mrs. Oz up there alone, so he decided to stay overnight and nurse the furnace if necessary. Mrs. Oz and the King headed home taking the only vehicle. 


(Here is a quick pic Mrs. Oz took from the car as she and the King pulled away.  Note the deer tracks heading towards the pine tree.  Note the barely visible roof stack – no not the tall pipe at the edge of the roof…the small square. Note the snow that remained on the deck even AFTER a path was cleared.


Let's just say that we were very very very very lucky.  Mr. Oz brought all of the systems back online. There was only 1 pipe casualty (the water softener), and everything dethawed appropriately. The furnace stayed on throughout the night!

Today, a snow plow came and plowed out the drive enabling the HVAC guy to reach the house where he noted that the stack needs to be lengthened as likely lost air return and doused the pilot light based on the 18” of snow load on the roof. A new thermocoupler (that was getting ready to give up the ghost), and we are back in business. (Well, we will still need to snowrake the roof …).

Just for final grins….here is a picture taken through the back Sliding Doorwall.  Yeah…you can’t see the deck…BUT…you can see the snow…up against the window.  Not kidding. That mound of snow at the bottom of the picture? Yeah, that is up against the window.




Since early January (okay, late December), the weather around this Midwest joint has been a lot little snowy, has been a lot little cold, and has set records like “Snowiest January on record”, and “coldest windchills”. 

Not having had - for quite a few years - a snowpack that came down in late December/Early January that will “survive” until at least mid-March, is it any wonder that we Ozlanders are dreaming of this…….
Yeah, I didn’t think so.


Could it be?

Could it be?  Is Mrs. Oz back? Perhaps. 

It has been over a year since I managed to get a post or two up. I am still in school, and still have many irons in the fire.  Since we last spoke the Ozlanders have purchased a lake house (love it!), Mr. and Mrs. Oz celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary (love it!), the Princess/Cadet has moved off into the world as an adult (love it!), and 2.0 continues to present moments of laughter for Mr. Oz and me (love it!).

Yes, I am "back", for whatever "back" means. If there is anyone still here - join me an let's see where my return takes us!


Can you tell school got busy?

Can you tell that my schoolwork has kept me busy?  That, combined with sports and home life has kept me away from the blogging door for a few weeks.  I have a couple of neat stories to share - but alas I must head off to work here shortly. So as a reminder (to me) and a teaser (to you), watch over the next day or so to hear about....

  • A hearkening back to a Great Great Grandmother, and a wondering if perhaps someone alive today didn't call her forward and allow for her to ensure that distant cousins were able to cross paths. (Spooky? Perhaps, but awesome)
  • The first indoor soccer outing of the King.
  • Budgeting 101 with the Eldest
  • A return to full time work, and the challenges it can bring.

Yup, although I haven't "stopped by"...I definitely have been thinking about what I would say when or if I did stop by!


Taking a quick study break...

Was just taking a quick study break to eat some lunch, and came across the following article in my newsfeed.  Yes, it is from Fox News, but I will also add the disclaimer that it is an Op Ed.

There are so many things in this article that I could agree with - and several that I have railed on before (trophys for nothing, me-ism and such, etc).

Yet I don't know if this is a function of the Millennial society, the parents that raised them, or if it simply is something that occurs across generation divides.  Each generation believes the one that comes after them is destined to "doom the world", right?  In fact, there is something about a baby boomer like Dr. Ablow (perhaps the single most narcissistic, feel good generation ever) deriding the youngsters today for being narcissistic. Yet, he is the one with the PDR on his desk and the Dr. in front of his name.

Would love to hear any of your thoughts.  Seriously.




Okay, so Mrs. Oz just might be obsessing about this lil' house in Hocking Hills. Wouldn't pay the price they are asking based on the values of the area, but still....if I won the lottery, this lil' joint just might be the Oz summer home "down south".  I am just sayin..



School Successes.....The Party Machine

Sunday night, I wrote a test essay to submit for my American History II class. Typically, it takes a day or two for the instructor before I get back my grades, and yesterday I learned I received full credit for the test.  She also had this comment:

J, absolutely fantastic! With your permission, I would like to use your essay as a sample of an exemplary essay in this and future classes.  If you agree, please email me to confirm.  I will not use your essay without your permission.

Nice!  The question asked?

Discuss the activities of the urban political machines, noting not only the corruption present but also the social reforms they helped institute. After evaluating both facets of the machines, do you believe they were good or bad for the development of America? Why?

(And here is my response.....)

The force and power of the urban political machines at the turn of the century was both positively and negatively awe inspiring. Laying claim to some of the most corrupt periods in local government histories and setting the stage for future societal strength and power struggles in major urban areas such as New York, Chicago, and Detroit, these machines would use measures of corruption and illegality to combine into positive social reform and change.

According to Faragher, Buhle, Czitrom, and Armitage, a “successful machine politician viewed his work as a business, and he accumulated his capital by serving people who needed assistance” (2009, p. 565). As altruistic as this sounds, the implementation of capital accumulation through “serving people” more occurred at the expense and yet benefit of the people.

With “close ties to organized prostitution and gambling” (Faragher et al., 2009, p. 565), and a strong penchant for trading contracts and jobs for bribes, the Democratic Party machines held sway on these large urban centers and controlled all services and actions within their boundaries. The desire to remain in power was great, and often the politicians extended their reach through jobs and services in exchange for voter support; appointments to city service departments including the Police and Fire departments (Faragher et al., 2009) were the normal “thank you for being my constituency” rewards.

For all of the corruption, cronyism and patronage, the machines also served to bring about real societal reforms and change. Machine politicians developed extensive city services including garbage collection and fully funded and staffed emergency services. These services brought about a truly paternalistic responsiveness of the government to its citizens. Further, free community events were offered in thanks to the citizens for support. From entertainment to parades, the largely immigrant populations enjoyed the sense of community in direct response to the machine politician’s ingratiation tactics.

These urban political machines were both a positive and a negative influence on the development of America. As Lord Acton said in 1887, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men” (Martin, 1996). This is the case with the urban political machine. Blending activities that were corrupt at best and illegal at worst with real societal reform and change served to solidify the party machine power base. These great men, were also bad men. Yet, because of the tradeoff of votes for contracts or jobs, the party machine was able establish and staff staff a strong police, fire, and refuse service. Further, understanding the immigrant populations and their struggles with their employers, progressive machinists drove welfare legislation, labor and safety laws that are still in effect today (Faragher, et al, 2009). In a nutshell, the machines ability to maintain control over every aspect of life within the political district established the largest urban centers in the United States.

As Acton postulated however, this power has corrupted as well. The strides made and the balance that ensued from those early urban machines seems today to have moved to a power-hungry, “what is in it for me” mindset. Corruption no longer has an offsetting positive driver. The strength of the political machine established at the turn of the century appears now to hold no sway over societal issues; the power simply exists to maintain capital cronyism and line the pockets of the politician himself. No longer a balance between corruption and the greater good, party machines have little similarities to their predecessor; and for the future development of America, that presents the largest negative of all.

Faragher, J. M., Buhle, M. J., Czitrom, D., & Armitage, S. H. (2009). Out of many: A history of the American people, Volume II (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Martin, G. (1996, April 7). The phrase finder. Retrieved from http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/absolute-power-corrupts-absolutely.html


I have to admit, I am pretty proud of the recognition, and pleased that my writing can serve as an example to folks.


Found an interesting quote...

(Waxing a lil' philosophical this evening)

As I was working on some school work today, I came across an interesting quote from John Dewey - educational progressive.  Dewey believed heavily in experiential learning, and creative "thinking" to develop young minds, rather than the rote and heavy handed  academic methods used to prepare students for the industrial age. I guess that is why this quote surprised me so much. It seems out of character for someone who does not  believe in a more lock-step vision of  traditional education. Perhaps I am reading it incorrectly, and it is more positive that it appears on the surface.  I have attempted to locate it - in context - to ascertain his meaning, but have been unsuccessful. Here is the quote:

"Anyone who has begun to think, places some portion of the world in jeopardy" 

That isn't to say that I disagree with this quote.  I do agree, wholeheartedly. And I believe that we - thinkers so to speak - do need to put the world in jeopardy more often. We need to stop taking a sound-bite approach to learning new things and actually delve into them, learning their immediate, short-term and long term meanings and impacts. To put traditional ideals of the world in jeopardy for the sake of progress; whatever that progress may be.

So I ask you - gentle readers - to determine a way that you too can put the world into jeopardy in this manner.  Think. Grow. Think more.


The days get longer....and the nights shorter

With the start of the New Year, comes my return to full-time hours. My company is on a growth-trajectory - which is an awesome thing - and my role within it is expanding as the company grows. Good thing those hours between 1:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. were only used for sleeping...I just might need them to keep up with school and homework, the family, the work and such!