Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I ♥ TV

I've been wanting to do a post about TV for a while....and I mean, why not? Between the money it cost to buy the four TVs in the house, the electricity to run them, and the cost of the cable that brings my favorite shows, we certainly spend enough money on it. It's a huge part of our lives. Frankly, I'm surprised it's taken me this long to write about our electronic family member. What I want to address specifically is the boundaries we all put on TV viewing.

I know there are a lot of TV Free Households out there, and I think that is awesome and I can completely understand the desire to not have a television. It will never be my choice though. I love my TV oh so much. I love 30 Rock. I love The Weather Channel. I love Spongebob Squarepants. I love it when I'm sick in bed and there is "nothing good on TV" and I find myself watching something trashy and genital warty like Rock of Love or something smart that I've seen a thousand times like The Hunt for Red October. In case you're not following me, I love my TV.

When it comes to what my kids watch I would probably be considered liberal, perhaps even too lenient, by most. My son is allowed to watch just about anything he wants, including raunchier shows like The Cleveland Show or Family Guy. We allow this because my son is a good kid, he can be trusted to not repeat things he hears on TV, and also because we usually watch these shows with him and have no problem discussing some (ahem) unsavory things that may arise. Say what you want about junk TV, but it definitely opens the door for communicating about topics that may not otherwise come up in everyday conversation. Well, at least not everyday conversation with an almost 12 year old.

Of course my way with the boy doesn't work as well with the girl. I made the mistake of letting her watch South Park because I thought for sure she wouldn't understand it, get bored after five minutes, and then fall asleep. Well, my plan backfired and now I have a preschooler running around the house singing "Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo." Yeah, not my best work as a mother. There are going to have to be a different set of rules for the girl.

This isn't to say that our household is completely lawless when it comes to television. Even I have my limits:

*I hate the Disney Channel. HATE IT. I hate the phony and unrealistic children, teenagers, and families that abound on that channel. I hate the nauseatingly fake chasteness of Hannah Montana. And don't even get me started on The Jonas Brothers and their purity rings. Barf. I mean it. BARF. It's not that I've ever banned the channel, I've just always passed right on by it when looking for something to watch, and for the most part the kids do the same.

*I hate how Nickelodeon airs shows over and over and over again. For instance, there is a show on Nickelodeon called iCarly. It first aired on September 8, 2007. I don't doubt that I've seen certain episodes 20+ times. Sometimes I'll see the kids watching the same episode for the second or third time in a week. This is about the time I turn off the TV and tell the kids to go find something to do.

*Aside from checking out the weather, I don't watch TV during the day. It's just far too much of a time waste for me. All it takes is one episode of Law and Order to suck me in and the next thing I know I've sat on the couch for five straight hours, having left only once to open a can of garbanzo beans for lunch.

*We cancelled our digital cable. This decision came after I realised the only thing we were watching were Nickelodeon cartoons, albeit on a different channel, that we had already seen dozens of times. Yeah, well worth the extra $20 a month.

*Personally, I try not to just flick through the channels watching crap. If there is nothing on that I really want to watch, I turn the TV off and read a book.

I have to admit that what originally prompted me to write about television was that I keep seeing the commercial for the FLO TV Personal Television. In case you haven't seen it, it shows a boy about preschool age locking himself in the bathroom at home with his personal television. As much as I love my television, I think it's deplorable that a personal TV is being marketed to small children. Why does a child, who is at home, need to barricade himself in the bathroom to watch TV? ( I won't even begin to rant about the fact that the kid is watching The Fairly Oddparents, a Nickelodeon cartoon that's on at least twice a day!)

Which brings me to my final rule:

*No portable TVs and, aside from the occasional video clip, no watching "television" on the computer.

So, now I want to ask you, do you have a TV (or TVs)? If so, are there rules in your house as to what can be watched and when? If you don't have kids, do you have personal rules about your own TV viewing? Of course, no judgements here, I'm just curious.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Random Thoughts

*In case you were wondering (and I know you all were), Jay and I had a great time at the movies on Christmas day. Jay had bought our movie tickets for the morning show in advance and when we got to the theatre we found out that those tickets had been sold to us by mistake and they technically weren't supposed to show any movies until noon. They let us in anyway and except for two other couples, we had the theatre to ourselves. (As a side note, you can't even mention going to the movies on Christmas Day in this house without someone busting out singing Christmas Time for the Jews.)

*Although I haven't gained weight this holiday season, I haven't lost as much as I would have liked. I haven't weighed myself but judging by how my clothes fit, I think I've probably lost about 3 pounds. Within the coming days I plan on being more mindful about what I shove in my face. More fruits and veggies, less candy and baked goods. I also plan on cutting back on my coffee a bit. Right now I drink close to two pots a day and I can only imagine what it's doing to my insides. Even my afternoon beer has been replaced with a small glass of POM.
*Along that line, Jay and I are giving up cheese for the entire month of January. I'm not thrilled about this but I do feel it needs to be done. He and I have gotten way too used to adding cheese to everything, because really everything is better with cheese.

*I have plenty of reading to do.I'm almost done with The Lovely Bones at which point it will be passed on to Dawn so that she can have it read in time for the Open Discussion in February. I am almost giddy about starting next years reading goal.

*Finally, I want to discuss something of a personal nature with all of you: Have bra designers just completely lost their minds?!? I had to go bra shopping the other day. And yes I do mean HAD TO. I only had a few bras left and they could truly only be considered "bras" in the loosest sense of the word. Literally, my nipple hung out of one. Nice, huh?

Bra shopping has never been my favorite thing because I can't find anything that is understated and pretty, yet supportive. So I hadn't bought a new bra in a long time, maybe two years. When I went into the store on Saturday I was shocked at what I was met with. Everything is either dowdy and ugly, or made with the sole purpose of arousing a lover. And the padding is completely OUT.OF.CONTROL! Without looking at the size, you can't tell a B cup from a D cup because they all look as if they have double D's in them already. Also, I don't need bows all over the place or intricate bead work. I just want a bra that can do its job and still be attractive. It would also be a plus if it didn't cost $50.

In the end, I came home with nothing. I did buy eight bras online from a store I don't normally shop from because I think it's overpriced. I can guarantee at least four will be returned. Does anyone else have bra shopping issues? It can't be just me.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Year End Reading Wrap Up and Next Year's Goal

(Hello. I hope everyone had a great holiday. I hadn't planned on being back in this space until next week but the excitement around here has died down, the kids are quietly doing their thing, and I've had seven cups of coffee so I have more than enough energy to write a blog post.)

Most of you remember that I reached my reading goal of thirty five books around the middle of the year. I continued reading though and ended up hitting 51 books, not counting The Lovely Bones, which will probably be finished by years end. Here's a run down of what I read this year:

1. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
2. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
3. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
4. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Book 1) by Jeff Kinney
6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Book 2) by Jeff Kinney
7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (book 3) by Jeff Kinney
8. Twilight: The Complete Illustrated Movie Companion by Mark Vaz
9. Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer
10. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
11. Camp Foxtrot by Bill Amend
12. Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson
13. Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips
14. I'm Perfect You're Doomed: Tales from a Jehovah's Witness Upbringing by Kyria Abrahams
15. Enormously Foxtrot by Bill Amend
16. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
17. Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
18. Kissed by an Angel (trilogy) by Elizabeth Chandler
19. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
20. Sliver by Ira Levin
21. Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
22. Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris
23. Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
24. Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris
25. Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint
26. Memory and Dream by Charles de Lint
27. Whistling in the Dark by Leslie Kagen
28. Women Who Eat: A New Generation on the Glory of Food by Leslie Miller
29. All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
30. From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris
31. Wrapped Up Foxtrot by Bill Amend
32. One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry
33. Make Your Place by Raleigh Briggs
34. Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
35. A Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs
36. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
37. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
38. At a Crossroads by Kate T Williamson
39. Mississippi Sissy by Kevin Sessums
40. Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx
41. When I Was a Loser by John McNally
42. Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney
43. Little Things by Jeffrey Brown
44. Revenge of the Paste Eaters: Memoirs of a Misfit by Cheryl Peck
45. Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl
46. My Secret: A PostSecret Book by Frank Warren
47. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
48. Not Becoming My Mother by Ruth Reichl
49. Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris
50. Thank You, Lucky Stars by Beverly Donofrio
51. Joe College by Tom Perrotta

When I look back on this years book choices, I am immediately embarrassed because I feel as if I read a lot of fluff, and I did. But looking more closely at the list, I see that I did read a few *real* books too, so mostly I think the list has a pretty good mix.

Worst Book of the Year
I read quite a few clunkers this year but the worst book I read was definitely Whistling in the Dark. UGH. When I think about the me of six months ago trying to trudge through the deadly quicksand of this story only to end no where, I get a pain in my stomach. (You can read my review of it here.)

Best Book of the Year
I'm Perfect, You're Doomed: Tales From a Jehovah's Witness Upbringing completely changed my life. I've mentioned it a few times here but I don't think I ever reviewed it. This book really motivated me to talk more about my life growing up as one of Jehovah's Witnesses.

My reading goal for the New Year is going to be to try and get through NPR's List of 100 Best Beach Books. I've only read about 20 books on the list so that means my reading goal for the year would be close to 80 books. (My list, from August, can be found here.) I'm going to go easy on myself though. While I do plan on trying to read the entire list, I'm not going to worry about finishing a book if it becomes clear that it just isn't my cup of tea. For instance, I'm thinking Lord of the Rings isn't going to be my kind of a read, but we'll see. Plus, I also may want to read other books that aren't on the list. So, this is a goal that remains open for changes and modifications and may end up taking longer than a year. I'll see where it takes me.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

*New* Bathmat

It's been a long time since I sat at my sewing machine and created something. I know this for a fact because before beginning the project I'm about to share with you, I had to literally dust off my machine. I don't know what my problem was, I just haven't been motivated to sew. Even the fact that the blog world is filled with folks creating beautiful handmade holiday gifts didn't inspire me. But, Monday I got the itch and there is nothing like a little bit of patchwork to lift my spirits.

You all know I love patchwork. Not only do I like the look of it, but I love using scraps that otherwise may end up trashed. I always feel so thrifty and inventive when I Frankensew something out of bits and pieces of other things.

Anyway, the bathmat. I've mentioned before how I'm a bit reticent to buy anything new for my house. I don't love it, I don't want to be here, and I don't want to spend the money. So it should come as no surprise when I tell you that my old bathmat was about six years old. I know, gross huh? I had planned on just using it until we moved and then pitching it in some trash can on my way out of Florida but when I noticed it had small holes in it, I decided something had to be done.

I've seen numerous crafty gals around blog land make their own bathmats so I knew it could be done. Most tutorials I've come across involve just a top of your choosing (in my case patchwork in shades of blue, brown, yellow, and orange) sewn onto an old towel.Although I like that idea, I kinda wanted to take it up a notch. Plus, I didn't have an old towel. So, I sewed my top onto my old bathmat. I should mention that the old bathmat didn't have a rubbery back, it was a reversible one similar to these, although mine hadn't looked that nice in a while.

Then I backed it with a larger piece of fabric:And folded over the edges twice to conceal all the seams and to make a border: I didn't come up with that idea on my own. I originally saw it on a floor mat project in Patchwork Style, which is a book I have that provides endless inspiration although I've yet to actually make anything from it. This seems to be a recurring thing in my life when it comes to craft books. I would like to think it's because I'm smart and crafty enough to modify patterns to suit my life, but it's probably just because I'm too lazy to follow instructions.

Ok...the details: *Very easy project. I worked on it on and off for about two days. All things considered, it probably took about 3 hours.

*The hardest part was the border. Getting the measurements right was a pain in the ass for me because I hate numbers. Plus, my poor machine didn't enjoy sewing through that many layers of fabric. It jammed up a few times and a needle was sacrificed for the cause.

*I already had all the supplies on hand so it cost nothing. Yay.

*The colors are a bit girly, so I wasn't sure if Jay would like it. Fortunately, when it comes to decorating he couldn't care less what I do around here so the worst I expected was complete indifference. I think his exact words were: "Hey, it looks way better than the old one." Also, he said it was nice to see me sewing again. Because he's sweet like that.

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I probably won't be back here until after the holidays. Although I have things I want to blog about, the interwebs just don't seem to be the place to be right now. So whatever you celebrate, have a fabulous time doing it and I'll be back on Monday.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Random Thoughts

*You'd be wise to not believe me when I tell you that I bought this issue of Men's Journal for Jay.The movie comes out on Christmas Day and I can't even express how excited I am to see it. (Jay on the other hand? Not so much. But yet he's going with me. Isn't he awesome?) I don't think I could be more excited if I was in it myself. So many of you have commented that you think of me whenever you see Mr. Baldwin and I think that is so sweet and funny, but I sometimes wonder if it means I've exposed too much of my crazy. Ultimately though, I don't care. I think you all know I'm harmless.

*I'm enjoying The Lovely Bones and I think we'll definitely have a lot to discuss in February. I'm glad so many of you are up for the discussion. I always feel a little vulnerable when I throw an idea out there like that. I'll be posting reminders in the coming weeks about it.

*After seeing this gorgeous picture of ribbon candy, I announced to Jay that not only had I never had any, but I had never even seen or heard of it. Because he's awesome (have I mentioned that?), he surprised me with a box. Most of it's gone now so you could say I enjoyed it, but I do think it's probably a dentist's nightmare.

*I've really been wanting to share the Day Zero Project with you all. I first heard about it from Ducky and I think it's a really smart alternative to the whole New Year's resolution thing. The general idea is that you make a list of 101 tasks to be completed (or changes to make), and you have 1001 days to make your goals. I love this idea and would sign up myself but my main goal of not spending money/paying down debt/getting the hell out of Florida is somewhat all consuming. If I were to sign up, all of my tasks/goals would have to be of the free variety, which is possible I guess, but a challenge I might not be up for.

*One last link I wanted to mention is Words to Shoot By. Every few weeks a group of photographers are given a word and they have to shoot a triptych of photos showing their interpretation of the word. Very pretty and very inspiring.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Anyone Up For Another Book Discussion?

Ever since the success (or what I consider success) of our Open Discussion on The Poisonwood Bible, I've been itching to do it again and have been keeping my eyes open for books I think would work well. Books that are not only interesting, but have permeated pop culture to the point where enough folks have either read the book, wouldn't mind reading the book, or at the very least know the basic plot of the of the book.

Tomorrow I plan to start reading The Lovely Bones and I think it would be perfect for an internet based discussion. I know many of you have read it already and I'm kinda late to the game on this one, but would you be interested in having a chat about it?

I thought we'd have the Open Discussion sometime in early February. I know February 2010 seems like a long time from now but in actuality it's only about six weeks and I want to make sure that those who want to, have enough time to read the book. Plus, I'm fully aware that most of you have a lot going on right now and probably don't want to start a book within the next week.

So, if this sounds fun to you please leave a comment letting me know you'd be open to participating. If not, it may just be me and Peggy.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I've Got Balls

After Sunday's trip to the outlet mall, I spent most of the afternoon in the kitchen. (Now that I think about it, I had quite the productive day. This probably explains yesterday's urge to slack and do nothing all day.)

For lunch we had homemade tomato soup and BLT's. The tomato soup is from Amy Karol but the idea to combo it with BLT's was all Dani.I want to stress that before Sunday no one in my family liked tomato soup, but somehow this version won them over. I think the BLT's put them in a good mood.

Later in the afternoon, I read this post from Mari and I had to make rum balls. Had to. The only problem was that I had no rum and I live in a town that thinks it's a sin to buy and sell hard liquor on Sunday. I do have scotch whiskey though. Same difference.Except for the above mentioned substitution, I pretty much stuck to this recipe.

This seems like a good time to roll out the annual showing of Pete Schweddy's Balls:

Man, I never get tired of that clip.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Final Update on 2009 Resolutions

Sunday morning we got up early to make the hour long drive to the outlet mall. If you recall, aside from a few basics, Jay and I haven't bought any new clothes this year. Technically I gave up on my New Year's Resolution when I bought some tee shirts about mid year, but I still really wanted to make it through the year without buying new clothes, and for the most part I feel as if I was a success.

Even when I hit the outlet mall, I didn't go crazy. I went in knowing what I needed-a sweater and a new pair of jeans-and I left with just that. I didn't waste time looking at things I didn't need and, other than a quick once over, I didn't hang out at the sale rack convincing myself to buy something I didn't love just because it was $7.99. So, I do think that my attitude about shopping has changed for the better. I no longer have the "stock up and save" mentality that used to get me into trouble and fill my closet with garbage I wouldn't wear.

Moving on to my other resolutions:

*No credit card usage. Sigh. This one requires explanation. For the most part, we did make a sizable dent in our debt this year, which was a good thing. But then we had a financially trying summer and the credit cards had to be brought out a couple times. I hated having to do this. But in our defense, they were actual emergencies, not "I need to go to Borders and buy five books" emergencies. So again, even though I cannot claim 100% success, I do feel good about what we were able to accomplish and our general mindset when it comes to credit.

*Saying "Yes" to the kids more. (Not like Yes I'll buy that toy, but Yes I'll play that game.)This one came much easier than I ever imagined. When we had the aforementioned rough summer, our family grew closer and we began spending more time together. The yeses came naturally, with little thought or work. Complete success.

*Making the doll on the cover of Stitched in Time.
Yeah, it didn't happen. I'd like to be able to completely blame this on Dawn since she actually had my book for three-fourths of the year. But really, I just didn't feel like making it. Maybe next year.

In conclusion, even though it seems like we failed, I'm mostly happy about what we were able to do, especially financially. As for next years resolutions, we are sticking with the No Credit Card thing because we really need to eliminate most of our debt to be able to move out of Florida comfortably. Plus, in all honesty, not using credit cards is almost a way of life for us now. Also, I still plan on sticking to the No New Clothes thing, although the rules won't be as strict. There won't be any frivolous clothes shopping but things will be bought on an as-needed basis.

Have you given any thought to your New Years Resolutions?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Shadow Play

Thursday night the weather was chilly (well, chillier than the 82 degrees that it was today) so Jay decided to light up the fire pit. At first I thought the kids wouldn't be that into it. Our usual fireside pastime couldn't happen because we had no marshmallows to toast and no meats on a stick to grill. But, as it would turn out, it was our best fire ever.

The flames grew high and it wasn't long before the kids realized that if they stood between the pit and the house, they could create some pretty awesome shadows. Prepubescent boy humor:
The girl's shadow here seems very Jessica Rabbit to me:
We stayed outside for a large chunk of the night. When we finally went inside, the kids were calm and the girl fell asleep immediately. We may have to do this more often.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Talk to the Moose

I've always loved Gap commercials. Remember the Gap Swing ads from a decade ago? Loved 'em! Anyway, Gap always seems to pull out all the stops during the holiday season and this year is no exception. Have you seen the Gap Kids ad with the little girls? If not, here it is:



I love everything about this ad. I love the way the girls are dressed, all bright and colorful and mismatched. They look like, well, little girls. I love the way the choreography isn't 100% spot on, like maybe they worked the whole routine out in the basement. I love it when (around the 0:21 mark) the one girl shrieks at the mere thought of having to wear frilly dresses. Now I know it's just a commercial, but I love the way the girls want to dress like this. Call me a prude, but I don't want to see the mid-drift of an eight year old, and I certainly don't want to see her wearing sweat pants that say Hot Stuff or Sassy across the butt.

I write all of this because, when I was searching for the commercial online, I found this piece over on Jezebel.com, where they say the add is "gross" and cite it as one more example of the way our society sexualizes little girls. Personally, I couldn't disagree more. To me they just look like little girls doing the goofy things that little girls do. (Not to mention the fact that they are completely covered from the neck down.)

Will you share your thoughts on the matter? Is the commercial icky? Do I need to relinquish my feminist card because I enjoy this ad so much? Whatever the case, I think Gap picked a winner again because I want to spend my mortgage money on comfy sweaters and cute boots.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A New Beginning

After weighing the pros and cons, Jay and I decided that last Friday was to be the girl's final day of pre school. This decision was made after a lot of soul searching. On the one hand, the girl loved school and was doing great (and I loved my little bit of alone time.) On the other, mornings were needlessly stressful and afternoons were hectic and filled with a lot of yelling.The girl would come home from school wired and what little one-on-one time I had with her was unenjoyable. I felt as if we were both missing some great opportunities to bond.So, we are settling into a new rhythm around here. We've played, done some learning activities, and vegged out in front of the tv. As I type this out, she's in the other room playing independently, which I love. Already it feels as if the days are less stressful. I'm excited about our new routine. Unfortunately, the dog doesn't share my enthusiasm.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Weekending

The weather was beautiful on Sunday (chilly, no rain but not too sunny) so we decided to take the children and canines to the park. In the above photo, the girl is talking to and "looking" at her imaginary friend Kirby. (This, of course, caused another mother in the swing area to eye us strangely.)

Liz Lemon gets plenty of exercise at home but she needs the occasional romp at the park or she starts to act like a spaz.We don't always take Sadie on these outings because she is somewhat anti-social. She basically spent the entire time walking the perimeter of the fenced area trying to find a way out.The adventure ended when Rufus the un-neutered Bloodhound showed up. This is not the first time he's cut short a trip to the dog park. His owner, who I might add appears to be slightly off his rocker, says that Rufus just "wants to play." I liken this statement to one made by a rapist insisting that his victim "was asking for it." My girls are not interested in the way Rufus "plays."

In other weekend news:

*Thank you for all your well wishes concerning the boy's illness. Thankfully, his bug was of the 24 hour variety.

*I baked a pumpkin pie with a homemade graham cracker crust. It's delicious but not real photogenic. I'm going to have to play around with the recipe a bit to perfect it. This will not be a problem, in fact I look forward to the challenge.

*Jay and I began watching Season 4 of Weeds on dvd. It's a lot different from previous seasons and I'm not sure if I'm loving it. Time will tell.

What did you do this weekend?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sickness and Weight

The boy is sick. Again. We are usually a healthy bunch but we've had flu like symptoms numerous times this year. Jay was sick earlier in the week. The girl complained of a tummy ache too but nothing much came from this. I'm the only one who really hasn't been bitten by the bug. Which leads me to wonder: Does my weight have anything to do with this?

I've mentioned before that I'm trying to drop a few pounds that I've put on this year, but what I didn't mention was that I'm still technically in my ideal weight range---just a bit higher on the scale than I would like to be. A few sources I've seen define "ideal weight" as the weight you should be for optimum health and warding off sickness.

Before my shower last night I was looking in the mirror and there is so much about my ass that is just wrong. When I look at my reflection, I see a lot that I don't like. But if I wanted to put a positive spin on it, I could say that my giant fat ass is helping my body ward off sickness.

In related news:The peppermint bark has been made. The above picture represents all that's left. I'm glad it went over well because now I don't feel obligated to eat it all myself.

I used Paula Deen's recipe. (Since I don't like giant peppermint pieces in my chocolate, I crushed the candy canes a bit more than Paula suggested.) I have to admit that Paula normally scares me and I tend to avoid her recipes but this one was pretty straight forward. (In other words it didn't call for 6 cups of melted butter or half a tub of shortening.) I am interested in trying this layered peppermint bark recipe though, maybe next time. I also want to make another pumpkin pie. Only this time I'm doing it the Dani way, with a thick ol' homemade graham cracker crust.

But first, I have a boy to nurse.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Listing

Things have been quiet around here.....well, relatively. I thought I'd share with you a few of the things occupying my time lately.

Coloring:: The advent coloring sheets over on elsie marley. A different coloring sheet everyday. The girl and I have begun to look forward to them.

Reading:: Dead and Gone. The ending had me irritated. Far too many faeries had to die. (Does that sentence makes me sound like a complete lunatic?)

Smelling:: Mrs. Meyer's Peppermint scented hand lotion. It makes me crave peppermint bark. I may have to make some. Soon.

Working on:: Sight words with the girl.I'm tickled that my youngest is excited to learn to read. Not to play favorites, but the boy was a bit of a drag in this area.

Loving::
These boxes, hand decorated by Dawn.The blue one is for the girl. The houndstooth one is mine.I feel as if the pictures don't do them justice. They're gorgeous in person. The girl refers to her box as her "secret box" and it's filled with special items like her Princess cell phone and my old makeup.

Watching::
The Big Bang Theory on dvd. The boy is a huge fan of this show and the dvds were a holiday gift that he opened early. I think that this show, like Spongebob and 30 Rock, is going to be one that I will come to have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of.

Enjoying::
The rain. It's pouring here. I love the sound, I love the smell. If it keeps up I'll sleep very well tonight.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Book Review :: Flanimals

I don't often review kids books. For one, I don't think most of you would be into that sort of thing. Secondly, the standards my kids have for judging books are much lower than mine. If I left it up to my kids, they would only read books about poop and boogers. If a book actually has pictures of poop in it, well then clearly we have an award winner on our hands. Needless to say, our opinions don't often converge to the point of me wanting to write about anything they are reading.

I decided to bend the rules a bit for Flanimals. It was written by Ricky Gervais, who as you know I have a fascination with lately, and it's basically a humorous encyclopedia of fictitious creatures. I really wanted to pick only one Flanimal to share with you but it's hard since so many of them are cute and clever. My personal favorite is probably the Underblenge, who has a really great way of capturing prey but "Unfortunately, it can't catch anything as it can't move from the rock it was born on."
Then there is the Munty Flumple, who instantly falls in love with everything it stares at:The baby Munty Flumple:Another favorite is the Clunge Ambler:He shuffles around trying to cuddle things but because he's "weird and smells" he doesn't get a lot of action. (As a side note: I think my chihuahua might be part Clunge Ambler.)

After you're introduced to the various Flanimals, there's a chapter about Flanimal Behavior and then Flanimal Testing, which is a test about all the creatures in the book. (My son passed the test; I failed miserably.)

I love this book and think it's super cute, but probably more for older children. My son thinks it's "awesome" but the girl didn't quite get the nonsensical nature of some of the terms. She kept wanting me to explain things that are without explanation. So although she liked looking at the pictures, the joy that was to be had from the sheer silliness of it all was sort of lost on her.

There is a whole series of Flanimals books out right now and a pop-up book coming out in March that I have to admit I'm more than a little bit excited about.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Good Friend.....

Is someone who, despite the risk of certain embarrassment, will rip a page from a magazine in the waiting room of a doctors office and then mail it to you.

Any guesses as to what my family will be eating soon?

Thank you Dawn! (Try not to bend it so much next time though. Maybe try a flat envelope, some bubble wrap. Just a suggestion.)

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Few After Thanksgiving Thoughts

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday. I woke up to a note left by my mom informing us that they had gone to Miami to spend Thanksgiving with the boyfriends family. This was a last minute shocker, but I've come to expect this kind of stuff so I really wasn't as disappointed as I could have been. It just means we have a ton of leftovers, since Jay and I had bought and prepared enough food for seven people to eat until stuffed.

On the bright side, I really did have a nice day with just Jay and the kids. The house was quiet, we played games, watched the parade, and did art projects. After eating an early dinner, I took a nap. Here's the thing: Unless I'm sick, I never nap. It was wonderful. I may have to do it more often.

We started a new tradition of opening one holiday gift (preferably a smallish one) early, on Thanksgiving. We decided to do this mainly as a little pleasant surprise for the kids but in case you're wondering, I opened the package from my header and it's the latest Sookie book. (I was genuinely surprised by this because for some reason I thought it would be the most recent Barbara Kingsolver. I think Jay may have purposely led me astray with a Kingsolver conversation we had last week. Sneaky.) So, even though the day didn't go as planned, we made the most of it by just hanging out and enjoying each others company.

Today I hope to get some baking done. I really, really want to make the Pumpkin Bread over on Mommy Coddle. I've been dreaming about it. But to do so would involve a trip to the store for flour and I just don't know if I'm ready to leave the coziness of my house yet. Maybe after another pot of coffee.

Before I go, I wanted to share a bit of news. My best friend Dawn, who I mention here fairly regularly, has started a blog and I wanted to send you over in her direction. I was going to wait a while until she got her sea legs (that's an expression, right?) and had a few posts up. But I'm too excited. So please take a moment to pop over to the blog with, in my opinion, the best name ever, The Crack of Dawn.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Things I'm Into Right Now

Check it out---another Things I'm Into Post, even though I just did one last week. I've sort of been inspired by Daphne and Betts. They've both been doing these really great series of posts about things they are thankful for. I've toyed with the idea of joining them but I think I'm far too sour to commit to that much positive cheer. I worry that by the third or fourth day I'd be all out of things to be thankful for. So I'll just settle on doing another post about things that are making me smile right now.

*These oven mitts over at green clogs. I saw them and actually gasped a little. Gorgeous. Now I must add oven mitts to the list of things I need to learn to make.

*Crock pot granola. I made it last week and although it wasn't as clumpy as I would have liked, it was still tasty and even Jay liked it. I may have to play around with the recipe a bit more.

*Do you want a good laugh? Check out LovelyListing.com--Odd Finds in Real Estate.

*This blog. Short and sweet, updated regularly, and ended with a song. What more could you ask for? (I think I may be slightly obsessed with this man.)

*Pandora radio. Another obsession of the last few weeks. Makes my boring, housewifey chores a bit more bearable.

*Pumpkin. Now is the time of year when I begin tossing it into everything. The most recent fix came courtesy of pumpkin pancakes. Tomorrow I'm making pumpkin pies, one regular and one black bottom pumpkin pie.

I may be in this spot tomorrow, but if not, have a lovely holiday.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The New Header

Is a book. I know it's a book. I just don't know which one, and I have to wait a month to find out. It's a holiday gift-for me, from Jay-that I found in the closet. (We are partial to plain brown wrapping around here.)

The quote below it comes from my first truly negative, directed at me, comment. For whatever reason, I don't get many negative comments around here. Maybe it's because I shy away from talking about anything too controversial, but I would like to think it's because the blog circles I travel in are filled with well mannered folk. If I say something that someone disagrees with, they'll either politely state their disagreement, or just move on.

I learned something this weekend: I don't mind the occasional negative comment. It livens things up a bit.

If you want to read the comment I'm referencing, it's at the end of this post, as is my response. I don't think I'll be making it a point to respond to nasty comments (who has that kind of time?) but I felt the need to do so with this particular one because I take my honesty very seriously. I think anyone who has read this blog for more than five minutes is aware that I will tell the truth to the point of embarrassing myself. Now bitter? Yes, I'm bitter. But the reasons for that are innumerable.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Vampire Crazies

I want to see New Moon. I do. But I'm going to have to wait a few weeks until the crazies all crawl back into their holes.

The other day I sat down at the computer all set to look at the most recent batch of entertainment photos on the Yahoo! page. I'm not a huge celeb junkie but occasionally I want to see what atrocity Brooke Hogan is wearing. I mean, don't we all?

Right now New Moon is dominating all of the entertainment news. Which is fine. I get it, it's a big deal. But the crazies are just everywhere and being so visible about it. Take a look at this picture of Kristin Stewart. Now look closely at the girl behind her:First off, she seems to be crying. Not how I would have handled the situation but whatever. What I find so disturbing is that she appears to be holding up a sketch she drew of Robert Pattinson and Kristin Stewart. What's more, it looks as if she has already stalked Robert Pattinson enough to get him to autograph the sketch.

The sad thing is, the above photo was on the cover of the Yahoo! entertainment section for a whole day. That girl, in all her crazy glory was, in a small way, momentarily infamous. Why didn't someone stop her? Why didn't someone tell her that the whole thing was a very bad idea? Why didn't someone tell her that the stars of her favorite movies probably aren't going to be flattered by her juvenile drawing? They'll probably just be creeped out.

Don't get me wrong, I definitely have some crazy in me. But I try to keep it hidden somewhat. For instance if (and I'm aware this is a BIG if) I ever meet Alec Baldwin, I hope I'm not wearing my Baldwin "straighten your ass out" shirt. I am aware of the slight creepiness of it. (However, I do have to admit that I want this Baldwin for President shirt.)

If I could give any advice to the younger generation of gals out there (and frankly, New Moon fans of all ages) it would be this: Please. Please. Hide your crazy a little better. Later on you'll be thankful you did.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What Really Grinds My Gears :: Part Six

I'd like to take a moment to share with you the one thing that is Grinding My Gears today.

I've mentioned here before that I have seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies that last most of the year. Most days I try to ignore the symptoms and take nothing. Some days I take Quercetin because it's a bit more natural and when I take it I feel less like a drug addict. But on bad days, I have to bring out the big guns, the Zyrtec. When I take a Zyrtec I get relief almost instantly. Then why am I complaining?

Take a look at the Zyrtec packaging:
Now take a look at it after ten minutes of me fumbling with the packaging:
I know the picture is a little fuzzy, but notice that I'm no where near experiencing the instant relief offerred by the tiny pill.

Keep in mind that my allergies are worse in the morning which, even when I'm at my best, is not a good time for me. But when I'm suffering from my allergies, I wake up with my eyes pasted shut with goo, my ears, nose, and throat itch, and I'm likely to sneeze a dozen times in a row, at least. I'm literally blinded by my symptoms.

Why? Why people of Zyrtec? Why can't you just put your pills in a bottle like a normal pill company? And why on the outside packaging is this weird little pill contraption referred to as "easy to open"? Is this some kind of fucking joke? I can't figure it out. My husband can't figure it out. My kids surely can't open it. For whom, exactly, is this easy to open?

Strangely, I feel better now after venting about this. I'm thinking I'll just pre-open all my pills and put them in one of those old lady pill containers. Would that be weird? Does this mean I'm old?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Had It All Planned Out

There is a tree at the entrance of my neighborhood that knows how to do autumn right. Up until a few days ago it still had all its leaves but they had turned a gorgeous, rich brick red. It was lovely. I had commented to my daughter that I needed to come back with my camera and snap a photo of the tree and somehow turn it into a blog post.

The girl, being the slightly obsessive kind, reminded me numerous times in the past three days to "take a picture of the red tree." Well, I waited too long. Today my beautiful tree was naked, beneath it a massive pile of red leaves. Oh well. It did serve as a reminder of the fleeting nature of the season though, especially here in Florida. Summer seems to last forever and then when fall does finally come the leaves are green and on the tree one day and then brown and on the ground the next. Next year, if I'm still here, I'll have to remember to take a picture of that tree as soon as I see it's red.

Anyway, instead of a brightly colored tree, I'd like to show you a few photos of items that are seriously coming in the way of me and weight loss:

Mushy Peas, HP Sauce, and imported candies! (In the top picture you'll notice that some of those are only candy wrappers....)

A long time ago Jay and I used to buy a lot of this stuff through the BBC America shop, but it would get expensive and sometimes the chocolate wouldn't hold up well in the Florida heat, so I'm always on the lookout for a place locally that sells these goodies. Imagine my delight when I saw all of this at a grocery store not too far from my house! I quickly loaded up my basket before common sense kicked in to ruin my fun and tell me I don't need all this garbage. They had other things I wanted too, like Hob Nobs, which are these delicious oat-y cookies with a thin layer of chocolate on top. Sigh. I may have to go back.

One of my favorites is the Penguin bar. Each one has a silly little joke on the wrapper. Such as:

Q: What do you call a Penguin in the desert?

A: Lost.

Ha. I love you Brits and your dry humor. And your chocolates. I really love your chocolates.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Things I'm Into Right Now

When life gets stinky I really have to remind myself to stop and take notice of the little everyday joys, the things that make me smile even if just for a few seconds. Time for me to set aside a few minutes to focus on the positive:

*Last Saturday I checked the email account associated with this blog. I only do this about once a day because frankly, it doesn't get a lot of action. I'm glad I checked it though because there was a note from Mag giving me a heads up to the fact that Alec was going to be on the cover of Parade magazine. Yay!Without Mag's note, I probably wouldn't have found this since I tend to avoid my town's newspaper. (Sadly, in these parts, it seems that if it isn't about college football or rednecks having ATV accidents, then it isn't news.) The magazine, combined with Starbucks courtesy of Jay and the fact that the children slept in past 7, made for a really nice Sunday morning. Thanks again Mag! (Oh, and you should all pop over to Mag's because she's giving away two copies of a cookie cook book.)

*I told you we are on a Ricky Gervais kick around here, right? Jay and I have been watching Extras lately and it's given me the belly hugging laughs I have so been craving. (Also: This video clip of Gervais chatting with Elmo has made my whole family chuckle. Thanks Peggy!)

*My son is a bit of a nerd. He's given us his holiday wish list and most of the items can be bought at the office supply store. The other day Jay and I were there comparing label makers and I saw the Sharpie section. I couldn't resist testing out all the colors and I left the store with my new favorite pen. It's the Ultra Fine Point Permanent Marker in the limited edition color of pomegranate and I love it. Here's a shot of it with today's to-do list:(Notice how nothing is yet crossed off the to do list? Yeah.....it's hard to get motivated to do anything when you wake up, realize you have the whole house to yourself, and then decide to take a hot bath. It felt good, but it definitely wasn't the most invigorating way to start the morning.)

*Saturday I got a care package from Kashoan. I nearly flipped when I opened it and saw that she had knitted me a scarf.I've mentioned before about my failed attempts at knitting, but this scarf has me wanting to try again. It's quite possibly the softest thing in my wardrobe. She also sent some kick ass Skittles flavored lip gloss that smells so tasty I have to stop myself from just sucking it out of the tube.

Before I go I wanted to take a few minutes to thank all of you. For an introverted oddball such as myself, making friends has never come easily. Which is why the ease in which I've made friends through this blog continues to be such a surprise to me. Maybe it's because blogging holds an appeal to folks who are slightly off kilter? I don't know. I do know that not a day goes by when I don't think about you people. And when I'm aware that you are thinking of me-through a phone call, an email, a card, or a package-well, it just makes my day. I truly can't thank you all enough. I don't know what I'd do without my little internet community.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Random Thoughts

In case you hadn't noticed, it's been a little quiet around here lately. I've been taking it easy this month, not only with blogging but with the computer in general. Last month's daily blogging wore me out and by the 31st I had very little desire to even turn the computer on. I never set out to take an actual blogging vacation, but unless something really exciting happens, posting may be sparse for a few weeks while I even myself out. But for now, here's a list of the randomness that's been on my mind:

*The other morning I was carrying my camera through the house trying to find the best place to photograph some worms (more on that in a minute) when the phone rang. I had a momentary mental shut down and instead of picking up the phone, I put the camera to my ear and said, "Hello." I may be losing it.

*Worms. As I mentioned before, our pet turtle has special food but he really loves worms. This is no big deal, it just means that everyday one of us has to go out to the yard near the compost bin and dig up a worm. Only now it seems as if the the worms have disappeared. I imagine this mass exodus came after all the worms had a little underground meeting where they discussed the giant monster that came out everyday with a shovel which resulted in the disappearance of one of their brethren. Whatever the reason, the worms are gone. Fortunately, Jay knows of a scary little local convenient store that also sells bait. Score. So yesterday he came home with this:That doesn't look too bad does it? Oh, but wait. Let me take them out of the bowl for you.I know, right!? Ugh. Keep in mind they are all alive and very squirmy. And long:I'm not normally squeamish, but these things totally give me the willies. When I need to get one, I have to reach into the wormy coil and pull on one until it's dislodged from the group. They have to be kept refrigerated, which I imagine is why they are all wrapped around one another--to keep warm. I'm guessing. Don't worry though, I labeled the container:
*I keep getting emails from a place called Body Candy Body Jewelry. Here is an excerpt from the latest message: Just in, Ultra Glitter Barbells and Labrets for only $1.99 you can't beat that price for this seasons hottest new looks! Going Clubbing? Ultra Glitter products are a must have! Hot, sexy colors with a sleek shaft, you can not go wrong! Hurry, these are going to fly off the shelves! Um yeah, that sounds totally like me. I don't know why I'm getting these emails. The only conclusion I can come to is that I originally went to the website thinking it was about actual candy.

*I'm very excited about the new Anna Maria Horner Little Folks fabric. It's beautiful. I want it all.

*Yesterday I was talking on the phone with Kashoan and she was telling me about the book Wicked. I always knew she loved this book and I remember when she went to the show, but she was talking about the book with such excitement that now I must read it. Her excitement was contagious. I love it when that happens.

*We are on a Ricky Gervais kick around these parts lately. Jay found this short essay about his thoughts on god. Even if you don't pop over and read the article, I found these statistics interesting: 75% of Americans are god fearing Christians; 75% of prisoners are god fearing Christians; 10% of Americans are atheists; 0.2% of prisoners are atheists. For some reason I found that fascinating.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Awards

Mag recently bestowed upon me some awards:The rules of the Honest Scrap award state that I have to share ten honest things about myself. I'll try to make this as interesting as possible.

1. When I was 15 years old I bought a vintage wedding dress at a thrift store. It fit me perfectly and I just knew I was destined to wear it on my wedding day. Well, fast forward to five years later and I was getting married in the courthouse in jeans and a tee shirt. A few months later I gave the dress to a coworker for her Halloween costume. I'm kinda wishing I had kept it.

2. The co-worker I gave it to was very annoying and had horrifically stained teeth. Behind her back the other employees and I referred to her as "Poop Tooth." (I know, real mature. I am so going to hell.)

3. One day, another co-worker at that same job decided to tell me all about the anal sex escapades she had with her boyfriend. That night I went home and told Jay what I had to put up with at work and he started referring to her (behind her back of course) as "Poop Shoot." So for a brief time I worked with a Poop Tooth and a Poop Shoot.

4. I haven't been on an air plane in over a decade. I'm deathly afraid of flying. When the time comes for me to have to get back on an airplane, I'm certain I'll need sedatives.

5. I've never smoked or done any type of illegal drug. I have though, been drinking coffee since I was 12.

6. I love the taste of dry, ramen noodles. I'll open up a package and just start snacking on the uncooked brick of noodles. This grosses out the family.

7. When I was a senior in high school I was on the work release program. I had a job at a bank and everyday I was to leave school early to go to work. I quit my job after one day thus earning a failing grade for the class periods I would have been at my job. The school didn't really know what to do with me so they put me in the library and I aided the librarian for two hours everyday for the rest of the school year. I loved working in the library. To this day it was the most rewarding work I've ever done.

8. When I was a kid I had an imaginary friend named Fugsy Megaton. I don't know if I invented him, or if he was a little known tv character, possibly from an episode of The Flintstones. Other than in my head, I've never been able to find proof of his existence anywhere. (I've actually blogged about him before, but I like to bring him up from time to time to see if anyone else knows what I'm talking about. As of yet, no one has come forward.)

9. I can't read a map at all and it takes me an eternity to find other countries on a map. I'm a dumb American.

10. For the last five days I have been searching for this magazine:Any guesses as to why? (ha) Last Thursday I was informed by the Entertainment Weekly Website that I could, "Look for it on newsstands on November 6." Silly me, I mistook that to mean newsstands everywhere. Since last Friday morning Jay and I have been to at least ten different grocery stores (some more than once), one gas station, K Mart, Borders Books (more than once), Books A Million, Walgreens, and Target. I finally found it today at Barnes and Noble. ( I just want to give a little shout out to my awesome husband for going on this search mission with me. As we were leaving Barnes and Noble he looked at me and asked, "Well now what are we going to do with our time?")

Now, I'm supposed to give these awards to other bloggers. The winners are:

Penny

Ducky

Hotch Potchery

Dani

Cerebral Misfortune

If interested, please play along. I'd love to know more about you.

Edited to add:: Jay just read this and informed me that in regards to #3, the nickname he created wasn't "Poop Shoot" but "Butt Plug." At first I wasn't sure about this, I was almost certain it was Poop Shoot, but after some thought, I realized he's right, it was indeed Butt Plug. Now I'm just left wondering which is more disgusting.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Weighty Issue

This morning I stepped on my scale, which happens to be my Wii Fit board. Now I don't want this post to be about how much I hate the electronics in my house, but not only did the board groan when I stepped on it, but then it made jokes at my expense. It informed me that it had been 71 days(!!!) since I last worked out with it and then it pretended not to know who I was and proceeded to make some snide remarks about how it could barely recognise me anymore. (Screw you Wii Fit.)

Then it told me my weight. Which is scary. But as scary as it is, it really isn't a surprise. I mean, there's a reason I had avoided the Wii for 71 days. I can feel it in my clothes. I'm not to the point where in order to zip my jeans I have to lay on my back and pull the zipper up with a coat hanger -Don't ask me how I know that-but I feel gross all the same.

So, after today's Wii induced degradation, I set some diet and exercise goals and by the end of the year I hope to be back at a weight at which I'm comfortable. I know it's probably hopelessly stupid to embark on a diet and fitness plan at the beginning of the peak eating season, but if I don't do it now, the problem is going to get worse. I can't just sit back and think, Oh it's just a few pounds. Because then those few pounds will think it's completely acceptable to invite some of their friends to the party that is my giant fat ass. And that's not acceptable.

I know I don't normally write about this sort of thing, but in all honesty I've been fooling around with these 5-7 pounds for a few months now and I hope that by putting it out there I'll be a bit more motivated to do something. Wish me luck, and cross your fingers that I don't run into any festivals selling deep fried Twinkies.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

March 7, 2010

I'm sure by now you've all heard the news: Alec Baldwin is hosting next years Academy Awards (with Steve Martin).

I really, really, really want to have an Oscars party, but Jay doesn't think we know the right kinds of people. People who a.) want to get dressed up in their Oscars best to come to a party at my pet hair filled house and b.) wouldn't be offended when I shout things such as "Shut the fuck up. Alec is speaking!"

So yeah, save the date and RSVP by February 1.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Micanopy Fall Festival 2009

We didn't stay at the Fall Festival very long this year. We arrived around 10:00 AM and left shortly after 1 PM with no arguments from the children, in fact they were both ready to go. I take this as one more glaring signal that Florida just doesn't have much to offer my family anymore. But we did cram a lot of fun into the short time we were there. (The girl exited this slide covered in black gunk, which Jay thinks was the grease and dirt of past children.)
We also crammed a lot of greasy, fatty festival foods into our faces.
(Fried Twinkie. Deliciously evil.)
My favorite part of the festival is going into the used book stores that line Cholokka Boulevard, the street where the festival takes place.I could easily spend a full day in the book shops alone. But that's hard to do with an antsy four year old on a sugar high. (I did manage to score a 50 cent copy of Summer Sisters though, which I'm anxious to begin. I've been wanting to read some of Judy Blume's more *adult* work. Have any of you read this one?)

So to sum it up, we all had fun but not as much fun as years past. I wonder if next year I'll be going to the Micanopy Fall Festival at all. Or maybe I'll be going to a festival in another part of the country. It's too soon to say.

As for right now, I need to go make a giant salad for dinner tonight. I hope to reverse some of the damage done by yesterday's dietary debacle.