Saturday, October 31, 2009

National Blog Writing Month:: Success

I did it.

Thirty one blog posts in as many days.

It was definitely a challenge, especially towards the end. This past week I completely lost all motivation and there were a few days I seriously considered surrendering, but I made it.

I've learned I'm not cut out for the everyday blogging life though. I started to feel cheap and sub-par, as if my blog was becoming like Wal-Mart: Big, and filled with stuff, but nothing that I would want to buy.

As you may have guessed, I'm taking the rest of the weekend off. I'm going to bake and eat peanut butter cup cookies and hang out with my kidlets and husband. I'll be back here next week sometime.

Have a great weekend and a Happy Halloween.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Listing

Anxiously Awaiting:: The Micanopy Fall Festival that takes place this weekend. This will be our third year attending. (I wrote about last years festival here.) There will be pony rides, crafts, music, and of course festival food. Last year we went both days but I think this year we'll only make an appearance once. We really only need so much fried foods and tacky redneck crafts. Actually we don't need any tacky redneck crafts.

Loving:: Daphne's "Other Mother" Halloween costume. How creative is my lovely friend?!

Enthralled with:: Jamie Oliver magazine. I think I've found a new occasional splurge. (As a side note: Has anyone out there ever made a pavlova? What's the difficulty level? Heather you've done this right, any advice?)

Enjoying::
My new shoes. A surprise from Jay. Although he's been totally supportive of my "no new stuff" resolution, I think he's a bit sick of seeing me looking like a hobo.Exploring:: The joys of water soluble packing peanuts.A certain old lady cat had worms so I had to order some medicine. I was more than a little excited when I saw that the pills were surrounded by this earth friendly stuff--they are always an instant mini science project.Watching:: King Corn. Should tie in nicely with this weekends festival food.

(Only one more day of NaBloWriMo. Almost there.)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Meme

Stolen from Daphne.

Which urban legend ghost scared the bejeesuz out of you when you were a kid?
I was never really bothered by urban legends, but maybe I just never heard the right ones. Although not an urban legend, I was deeply affected by the shower scene in Psycho. I was almost 30 before I'd take a shower if I was the only one home. Even now, it gives me the willies.

Which horror movie has the best premise?
This one is hard for me because I tend to avoid horror movies, but I'm definitely more scared by things that could actually happen to me than I am of ghosts, monsters, demons, etc. Anytime a movie features a character that loses it and then starts offing random people, I get frightened. I didn't make it through the first 30 minutes of Scream. Deliverance also scares me so much it makes my stomach hurt.

What is the most disappointing “treat” to receive in your bag on Halloween night?
Necco wafers. Ugh.

What’s the best non-candy item to receive?
Having never actually been trick or treating I can't really comment on this one. But I would think that the acquisition of candy would be the whole point. Anything else would be less than exciting.

Did a monster live in your closet when you were a child?
No. Just what I thought to be a demonic Smurf.

Which supernatural creature sent chills up your spine when you were ten and still does?
I've never really been frightened by the supernatural. I'm much more scared of the seedy underbelly of society. People scare me. I have no idea what violence they're capable of. Clowns creep me out a bit too, although they really aren't supernatural. Well, unless they're possessed.

When I was a teenager a friend and I were driving down the interstate on our way home from a day trip. I looked over and the man driving the car next to us was wearing a full on clown suit. Wig, nose, everything. Why? What possible reason was there to wear a clown suit on the interstate in the middle of nowhere Florida. I remember being genuinely scared by that.

Which supernatural creature makes you yawn?
Most of them. Again, much more frightened of real, living people.

What’s your favorite Halloween decoration?
I like fall colors and pumpkins more than I like actual Halloween decorations. I don't really get into the skeletons and fake graves.

If you could be anywhere on Halloween night, where would you be?
Hmmm.... This is a hard one. I guess I'd have to agree with Daphne and say anywhere there is good people watching would be nice.

What’s the scariest book you’ve read so far this year?
I haven't read a scary book at all this year. Real life was scary enough. Maybe next year.

Haunted houses or haunted hayrides?
Neither. I don't like being startled. I will be the first to admit that I'm a total party pooper about this type of thing.

Which Stephen King novel/movie would you least like to find yourself trapped in?
Misery. Or maybe The Shining.

Which is creepiest: evil dolls, evil pets, evil children?
Evil dolls, without a doubt. Especially if it's a clown doll. Yikes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Few Thoughts on Gourmet

Right now I'm reading Comfort Me With Apples by Ruth Reichl, a book Daphne had mentioned. (Actually, Daphne suggested I read another Reichl book first, but with my library you take what you get and you don't throw a fit.) Anyway, I'm loving this book. Reichl, who was the editor of Gourmet, writes so passionately about food that she makes me excited for my next meal. Eating is an adventure. Reading this book makes me regret all those times I've eaten crap food like Cocoa Krispies for dinner. Why did I waste my time on that garbage? I should have been eating real food cooked in real butter with bread on the side and a glass of wine and dessert with every meal.

While I was just on the Gourmet website, I read this very negative review of the book and movie Julie and Julia. The reviewer states that Julie Powell's writing is "hollow, narcissistic, and unforgivably lazy." I'll admit I know very little about the blog or the book that the movie is based one, but this review irked me a bit. Aren't all blogs narcissistic? Isn't that the entire nature of a blog? Anyone who takes the time to maintain a blog has more than their share of narcissistic qualities--you have to. The assumption that you have something to say that others would find interesting is what motivates us to get up everyday and do it. And as far as being written lazily, again I think this is the nature of the blog. I routinely start sentences with "and" or "but" and my idea of editing is to hit spellcheck before publishing. It's virtually impossible to self edit and even if it wasn't, who would have that kind of time? This isn't a job. It's what I enjoy doing in the small amount of uninterrupted free time that I have.

This post was supposed to be a Random Thoughts. But after clicking over to Gourmet, it morphed into a rant all fueled by a review for a movie I haven't seen and a book I haven't read. For some reason I took it all very personally. I know a lot of you have read the book and seen the movie...any thoughts?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How I Met Jay

I'm running out of things to blog about. So I'm taking another blogging suggestion from Betts, and writing about how I met Jay. It was either this or give you a complete play by play of the 20 minute phone conversation about makeup that I just had with my best friend.

I met Jay when I was nineteen. We both worked at the mall. I was an assistant manager at Contempo Casuals and he was the manager at the store next to it, Kinney Shoes. (Both of these companies are gone now. Contempo was bought out by the Wet Seal corporation, which still exists. Kinney Shoes went out of business about 10 years ago.) To make a long story short, Jay offered me more money to work for him, so I left Contempo. Through working together, we realized we had a lot in common, we became close, and about a year later we were married.

I suppose the most interesting part of the story is that Jay was already married to someone else at the time, so for a while a lot of our relationship was secret and scandalous and involved doing naughty things in the back room of the shoe store. At the time, I was young and naive and I found myself involved in a whole lot more drama than I had ever imagined or, for that matter, wanted. If you know me at all, you know that I'm generally not a risk taker or a rule breaker so this was all new territory for me. For a while everything seemed really, really hard and I hated that in certain circles I was referred to as a "husband stealer."

All the trouble and drama was so worth it though because Jay and I are still together 12 years later, we have two cool kids, and he's not only my husband but my friend. No one calls me a "husband stealer" anymore. Well, no one but Jay's mom but she calls me by a lot of derogatory names so what's one more?

And for the record, I haven't had sex in the back room of a shoe store since. Although, since Jay still works in the shoe business, I could if I wanted to. But I don't want to. I'm classier than that now.

Monday, October 26, 2009

33

Yesterday was my birthday. I have to say that I assumed I'd have it all figured out by now. Yet, here I sit clueless as ever. That being said, I did have a really nice day.

Highlights:

*I slept in.

*When I woke up, the newspaper was handy and Jay had made homemade beignets and coffee.

*For lunch I had a BLT and a chocolate ganache cake, courtesy of my mom and the boyfriend.

*After the horribly caloric breakfast and lunch, I went for a walk with the husband, then came home and laid around on the couch watching 30 Rock dvd's and reading.

*Early afternoon I opened a package of Runts candy, and there wasn't a single banana one. Score! I hate banana candy.

*Later on I went to the mall and bought myself some new long sleeve tee shirts, totally breaking the no-new clothes resolution from the beginning of the year. (I haven't mentioned it much here lately but I've been really good about not buying new clothes this year. All in all I've only bought 6 new clothing items: a pair of pants, the two tee shirts I bought yesterday, and three short sleeve tee shirts at the beginning of the summer. I don't believe these six items totalled $100.)

*I didn't have to yell at or threaten either child all day long. In fact, older child worked pretty hard to make the day peaceful.

To sum it up, I had a very sweet, low key day with my family. The only thing that pissed me off was that no one thought to bring me Alec Baldwin. I waited. All day.

Now today, the plan is to exercise, try to avoid the remaining evil cake in the fridge, and work on having it all figured out by the time I'm 34. Any words of advice?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Past and Demonic Smurfs

There were a few questions asked yesterday so first off I wanted to address them.

Q: Around what age did you leave the church? Was it official or did you just stop believing and slowly drifted away?

A: I officially stopped going about 3 years ago, but I had been very inactive in the church for probably eight years up until that point. As most of you know, Jehovah's Witnesses go from door to door offering literature---I hadn't done that in years. I can honestly say that my participation in the organization had been half hearted (at best) for at least a decade.

Although I've only been technically away from the religion for a few years, there is a lot that they teach that I don't know if I've ever believed. I knew I'd never be in a marriage where I was essentially my husband's property and I didn't understand the religion's views on homosexuals. In fact, that was probably another pivotal area for me. As I got older, I began to hate that aspect of the religion and be embarrassed by it. Eventually, I began to feel that same disdain for most of the teachings of the religion. Towards the end, I can remember sitting in my seat listening to the speaker and not believing or agreeing with a single thing he was preaching, and certainly not wanting my kids to be a part of it.

Q: Does Jay have a JW background?

A: Jay was baptized a few years after we were married but he truly cared very little for the organization. He was basically only going for me.

Q: I had NO idea about higher education...then what do you do to support your family?

A: Basically, you hope for the best. In a lot of the families I've known, one member will start a business (window tinting, construction, and cleaning businesses were all big) and then employ other members of the family. Growing up I knew a lot of people in various parts of the construction business. Mostly, women are housewives or they work for a friend or relatives cleaning business. (I hate that I didn't go to college.)

Q: Are there any holidays that JW's can celebrate? Do they not celebrate because it's considered worshipping a false God? Or some other reason? Is it true a JW won't knock on your door if you have a US flag hanging on your property?

A: The only holiday that is regularly celebrated by Witnesses, are wedding anniversaries. Most other holidays have pagan histories, which is why they aren't celebrated. I've never heard the flag thing so, no that isn't true. Although it doesn't surprise me. There are many rumors about Jehovah's Witnesses. At least once a month I get a hit on my blog from someone googling "can Jehovah's Witnesses wear deodorant?" (Yes, they can.)

I wanted to talk more about all of the many things I couldn't do as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. Because my time with "worldly people" (non Witnesses) had to be limited, I never participated in any after school activities, I never went to any school dances. I didn't attend prom. Even though I made friends at school, I wasn't allowed to hang out with them outside of school. I remember one time in the fifth grade, my friend Jessica invited me to spend the night. I begged my mom to let me go and she allowed it. I had a blast but my mom came to pick me up the following morning before 9 AM. Evidently, the night before my dad caused a big stink when he realized where I was and instructed my mom to pick me up as soon as possible. And she did it of course, because he was the "head of the house." I was mortified and embarrassed.

These things, more so than anything else, are what I regret and resent the most. I hate that I was sheltered and wasn't able to experience any of what life had to offer until I became an adult, and even then it was hard because I was naive. All my life I was raised to believe that anyone who wasn't one of Jehovah's Witnesses was evil and meant to do me harm. Imagine trying to go through life thinking that about everyone you meet. It's exhausting and beyond stressful.

There are a lot of internet sites and support groups for ex-Jehovah's Witnesses. Many ex-members have to go to therapy and quite a few are diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, which I guess is common when you escape a cult like organization. I'm lucky because I escaped relatively unscathed. The only explanation I have for that is that none of it was ever really in my heart to begin with.

The Jehovah's Witnesses will deny that they are a cult, but when a religion uses fear to keep members from leaving, that's a sure sign of a cult. (If interested, here are more cult warning signs.) If you do choose to leave the organization, you'll be shunned by all of your friends and family that are Jehovah's Witnesses. When I was a baby, most of my extended family were Jehovah's Witnesses. Over the years, most of them fell away from the organization so we couldn't talk to them. I have aunts and uncles I haven't seen in years. I have cousins I've never met. I know very little about my maternal or paternal grandparents. I consider myself as having very little family anymore.

One more thing I wanted to mention was demons. Jehovah's Witnesses are constantly being told to be on the look out for demons. According to them, demons are everywhere and they want to mislead you and steer you away from Jehovah's righteous path. There were even rumors and stories told of people being raped by demons. None of this was actually preached from the podium, but just popular rumors that spread quickly. (Jehovah's Witnesses are awesome at spreading rumors.)

The demon rumor that effected me the most was the one that was spread about Smurfs. This was at the height of their popularity and I was four or five years old. I wanted a Papa Smurf so badly and my dad bought one for me. I was overjoyed. A few weeks later we had another Witness family over for dinner and they told me that my Smurf was possessed by the devil and that I shouldn't have it because it would try to hurt me in the middle of the night. I was scared to death and threw my Papa Smurf in the trash. As I got older I learned more about the Smurf/demon rumor. Supposedly, some poor unsuspecting child took their Smurf to the Kingdom Hall (church) and once the speaker started preaching about the greatness of Jehovah the Smurf got up, yelled something about how he didn't "have to listen to this shit", and walked out the door.

There were almost always similar rumors about any toy that was popular. I grew to learn that if I wanted to have any toys, I needed to grow a thicker skin.

Ok. I think I'm about drained of this topic for now. As always, please ask any questions you may have. I'll answer them within the comments section.

(I've written about this before but I again want to mention the book I'm Perfect, You're Doomed by Kyria Abrahams. It's hilarious and sad and interesting. If these last two blog posts have held your interest at all, then you'll love, love, love this book.)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

More of the Past

Yesterday in the comments Betts gave me a few suggestions of things to write about, one specifically being my childhood as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. This topic is hard for me to write about, not because it's awkward or makes me uncomfortable, but because to me it all seems so boring. The best way for me to write about this is in snippets, because that's sort of how all of this comes to me. As I start writing, little things that I think you'd find interesting come back to me in bits and pieces. Just like the last time I wrote about this, (which you may want to go back and read since it's essentially the first part of my story) it will be a bit of facts about the religion mixed in with my personal experiences and opinions. Also, as before, this will probably jump around a bit but I'll try to make it all as easy to understand as possible. If you have any questions, please, please, please ask. I'm an open book and don't mind sharing. I just don't always know where to begin.

*There is a specific headship order in Jehovah's Witness families. Mom and Dad are head of the kids. Mom's head is Dad. You want to know who watches over Dad's behaviour? Jesus. Yeah, Jesus. Needless to say, there are a lot of men who abuse their power. I can't tell you how many times growing up I personally heard the phrase, "Because I'm the head of the house, that's why." I cannot imagine being in a relationship where I had absolutely no say. My marriage is a partnership between two best friends with the same goals. When I sit and think about various families I knew in the congregation, I can't help but wonder if many of those wives were enduring some type of abuse, be it physical, sexual, or emotional. As a side note to this, because I actually have a say in my life, my dad insists that Jay is a doormat and that I "wear the pants in the house." There is no convincing him otherwise.

*Gay folks need not apply. Being gay just isn't allowed. There are no gay Jehovah's Witnesses. Technically. Again, if I were to sit and think about the congregation, there were definitely some people who I know with every fiber of my being, were not straight. I cannot even begin to imagine what they went through, or even sadder, are possibly still going through.

*Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in pursuing any form of higher education. If you decide to go to college, you won't get disfellowshipped (excommunicated), but you and your actions will be "frowned upon." You'll probably forever be marked as not quite 100% faithful. No one will come right out and say this, but you'll know. They basically tell you that you shouldn't even want to go to college because your time would be better spent witnessing and speaking about Jehovah. But, in my opinion, it's because if you go to college you'll be exposed to people who will tell you that your beliefs are crazy and then you'll question everything you've ever known. I never went to college. I don't know a single Jehovah's Witness my age who did.

*Jehovah's Witnesses are against blood transfusions. Blood is sacred. They'd sooner die than get a blood transfusion. They all carry around a medical directive in their wallet that is commonly called a "No Blood Card." It's a binding legal document that you are told to carry with your ID at all times in case anything unfortunate happens. This will ensure that you don't get the dreaded transfusion. There was a similar card to carry if you had children under the age of 18. This was probably a turning point for me, maybe the first real time (as an adult) that I started to question my beliefs. When my first child was born eleven years ago, I knew there would be absolutely no way I would let him die when there was a viable medical way to save his life. I carried around an expired No Blood Card for seven years. Legally speaking, it was garbage. The one for my son was never signed, legally also garbage.

*It was widely rumored that Michael Jackson was once one of Jehovah's Witnesses. To the best of my knowledge, he and his family studied with Jehovah's Witnesses for years, but technically none of them were ever baptized members of the congregation. Interestingly enough, Prince is one of Jehovah's Witnesses now. Here's an article from June about how he needs hip surgery but refuses to undergo the procedure because a blood transfusion is necessary.


Hmmm......I guess that's all I have for you guys right now. Like I said, it all kind of comes in spurts. It's not that all these memories are repressed, it's just that it all seems to have happened a hundred years ago. As far as I'm concerned, it was another lifetime. Again, please feel free to ask me anything. Maybe I can get another blog post out of this.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Random Thoughts

I'm really starting to feel as if I'm phoning it in. At the beginning of the month I had so much to write about that I didn't know where to begin. I had posts written and saved up for days so that every morning all I had to do was log on, proofread, and Publish. Now I have nothing.

I can do this though. Only eight more days.

*Our turtle is doing well. Although he has his own special food, his favorite thing on the menu is big, fat worms. Big, fat, alive worms. I guess he fancies himself a hunter because he won't eat a worm if it's already dead. I admit that I think the worm killing is sorta fascinating.

*Growing up I was taught that Paganism was basically the worship of the devil. Obviously that isn't the case but I still know very little about it, so this morning Jay and I went to two different libraries trying to find books on paganism. (Thanks again for the suggestions Jesse!) Needless to say, pickins' were slim. As Jay reminded me, "We are still in the South, you know?" Right, how could I forget? In defense of my library system, some of the books were supposed to be there, they just weren't. This leads me to believe that they were probably stolen and then sacrificed in an old fashioned backwoods book burnin'.

I didn't leave the library empty handed though. I was able to find one of the Ruth Reichl books that Daphne has been talking about, and I stumbled upon a PostSecret book that I've wanted forever. (I love PostSecret and visit the website every Sunday to see the new secrets.)

*I want to make this Peanut Butter and Bacon pie. I've printed out the recipe and it sits patiently on my kitchen counter, waiting for the moment when I no longer give a shit. I think that's the attitude you have to have if you want to fully enjoy a Peanut Butter and Bacon Pie.

*And now, I leave you with pictures of weird looking, yet very much real, animals. Jay saved these for me a few weeks ago in the event I needed blog filler. The first photo is of a long haired rabbit which I totally want, and the second is, if I remember correctly, some type of newt thing.
Edited to add: Here is a link to the article featuring these animals. Oh, and what I thought was a "newt thing" is actually an Axolotl, a type of mole salamander. Yeah, my bad.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Scarf

Monday I was wearing a scarf, probably a bit prematurely since it's supposed to be back in the 80's soon, but whatever. The girl saw it and has asked me for a scarf every day since then. I think she assumes that since I can use a sewing machine, knitting a scarf is about the same thing. Sadly for me, it's not. (Although that didn't stop me from snatching up about 25 skeins of yarn off of Freecycle. Not sure what, if anything, I'm going to do with those since I sold my knitting needles at a garage sale last year.)

I've seen a lot of fabric scarves floating around the internet that I like the looks of (most recently the one in this picture) so I thought it would be easy to quickly whip up one for her. And it would have been easy had I not chose to use scraps of velvet. Here's the thing: velvet is really hard to sew with. As you're sewing, it moves A LOT. Even if you pin the bejeesus out of it, it moves and shifts. I didn't know this. Fortunately, for the making of a scrappy scarf nothing really had to be perfect so it was no big deal, only mildly irritating.My initial plan was for it to be longer and to back it in velvet of another color, but once I realized how difficult working with velvet was, I decided that would be complete lunacy and would drive me to begin drinking before noon so I had to back it with something entirely different. I chose the floral fabric that I used on the front, only I didn't have a lot of it left which meant I had to shorten the scarf. The shortness of it bugs me a bit, but I'm mostly pleased with the outcome. As the weather gets colder I'll probably try to make a few more, maybe even attempt to master velvet control.

You wouldn't know it by the above pictures, but the girl loves it. I know she likes it since she insisted on wearing it to school even though there is a high of 87 degrees today. I allowed it because I figured it was a step up from the plastic smiley face belt she wore over her dresses all last week.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Camera Dump and a Few Things Worth Mentioning

My bag of tricks is empty. I can't think of a single thing to stretch into a blog post. So I turned to my camera in hopes of finding some pictures that were interesting enough to blog about. Sadly, there were none. Yet here we are. Hmm. Funny.

Last weekend the temperatures remained in the sixties so we cleaned out the fire pit and started the first fire of the season. It was a wee, sad little fire but it made the kids happy. With cooler weather comes cats more apt to snuggle. This is Polly.Some of you may remember her as the cat that likes to pee on Jay when he's sleeping. She's since stopped that behaviour. Thankfully. I really didn't know if I could keep saving her from a one way trip to the pound. I've been told by numerous people that all calico cats are defective in one way or another, which would explain her affinity for using Jay as her own personal toilet. (That man really does deserve an award for patience.)

This is my old lady cat Isabelle. She's older than my son, older than my marriage.For the first time ever, she's really starting to show her age. She's still fairly active, but her coat is grayer and less lush. She's always been small, but now she looks bony. This has all forced me to think about the inevitable. I don't like to think about life without her because she's been with me for so long. It will be strange and sad.


********************************************************************

Before I go, I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for your comments on yesterday's post. I love it when something I write here prompts a little discussion with everyone bringing something different to the table.

I also wanted to reiterate something I mentioned in the comments of yesterday's post: While I am in no way apologizing for what I wrote yesterday, I realize I may be more sensitive than the average person to the idea of religion being thrust upon me and my family. What might be easy for someone to overlook, will most often seem downright pushy to me, because I used to be one of those pushy people who thought that their way was the only way. Now, as most of you know, my beliefs tend to lean toward the agnostic/atheistic end of the spectrum. What it boils down to, is that when it comes to faith and religion, I wish everyone would do whatever it is that they need to do to get through the day, and leave everyone else alone. But I know that isn't the way it is. Which is why I'm sort of hyper aware of preachiness. I'll probably always be this way.

One last thing I wanted to address was the fact that about a month ago you may have noticed that I started moderating comments. This was done because I was getting spam. The spam wasn't malicious or anything personally directed at me, it was just irritating. So I began moderating. I just wanted to make it clear that I wasn't censoring comments. Fact of the matter is, if you leave a comment here, it will most likely get published. None of this may matter anyway because the spam has since stopped so I will probably soon go back to the old way, which worked better for me.

If you made it all the way to the end of this post, thank you. Hopefully tomorrow I'll have something more interesting to write about. If not, you may see pictures of cats wearing clothes and photographed to look as if they are doing people things. Pray (to whomever you pray to) that it doesn't come to that.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pumpkin Patch Trip and a Few Possibly Offensive Thoughts

Monday I helped chaperone the girl's class trip to the pumpkin patch. Although I sign up for these things with the best of intentions, I'm usually dreading it by the day of the trip, but this one wasn't all that bad. There were a lot of other parents there so I was able to spend some time with the girl without having to really watch (or yell at, or drop kick) anyone else's kid. Plus, the weather was cool and perfect.

There was a hay ride, bean bag toss, a hay maze, face decorating, and a story time. And of course all the kids got to leave with their own mini pumpkin. The folks running the pumpkin patch were super nice and beyond patient with this group of 24 four year olds.I have a question and some thoughts for you though. Are all pumpkin patches everywhere somehow tied to a church, or is this just a southern thing? I don't want to say anything negative about this specific pumpkin patch (like I said earlier, everyone was very nice), but it had a bit too much of a Jesus-y feel for my liking. Take for instance story time. From what I could hear, the book had two main themes:

1. Being thankful for what we have makes Jesus happy.

2. Taking the time to help others who are less fortunate than we are makes Jesus happy.

While I can understand what the members of this church are trying to do and say, I didn't really appreciate it. Of course I want my kids to take a moment to reflect on what they have and be appreciative of it all. But I want them to do this because it's just the right thing to do. Of course I want my kids to always be mindful of ways in which they can help others. But I want them to do this because it's just the right thing to do. Why can't kids just be taught to be nice, kind, mindful, generous, awesome little people? Isn't that enough? Why does everything have to be tied to the pleasure or displeasure of a god?

And why did this whole issue even have to be brought up on a preschool field trip? I was just at the public library the other day and I'm pretty sure that within less than a minute I could have grabbed at least a dozen fall/pumpkin/Thanksgiving themed children's books that didn't mention Jesus. The whole thing really just left a bad taste in my mouth.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What I've Been Reading

I've been reading a lot lately. I guess that's what you do when you're trying to not spend money. You read. Here's a short run down of what I've read in the last month.

*Mississippi SissyThis book is the memoir of Kevin Sessums, who has done editorial work for such magazines as Allure and Vanity Fair. It's all about his childhood and coming of age in Mississippi in the sixties and seventies.

This book was a mixed bag for me. I found parts of it fascinating and other parts hopelessly dull. Both of his parents died incredibly young, so his early childhood was tough. As a teenager he began hanging out with a lot of people who were then considered to be in the southern literary elite. I think this could have been interesting, but ultimately it left me praying for the end. I really didn't care to read a bunch of conversations between him and Eudora Welty. I just found it boring.

That being said, the part where Kevin fully comes to terms with his sexuality is heartbreaking and graphic. And the last fifty odd pages that recount the details around the murder of his best friend Frank Haines kept me on the edge of my seat. Like I said, a mixed bag. I don't know if I could wholeheartedly recommend this book, but parts of it are definitely worth reading.

*When I Was a Loser
Now this one I can wholeheartedly recommend. It's a book of essays by various authors recounting tales of high school dorkdom. Some stories are poignant, others had me laughing out loud. Some of them reminded me far too much of myself. If you were a bit of a reject in school -as I'm guessing most of you are, I find it hard to believe that the popular kids read my blog-then this is probably a book for you.

*Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (Book #4)This one was actually bought for my son on the day of release, last Monday. We both read it in less than 24 hours. I could lie and say that I read the Wimpy Kid books just so that I can monitor my son's reading material, but honestly I just think they're really funny.

*Right now I'm in the middle of reading the graphic novel Little Things: A Memoir in Slices.Here's a note from the publishers comments: As each story loops into others, Jeffrey Brown shows how the smallest and seemingly most insignificant parts of everyday life can end up becoming the most meaningful. This is fancy talk for "boring." But I've already read half the book so I'll muddle through.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Snuggie

My son is a bit of a dork. He knows it and we know it. So it was really no surprise when last winter he announced that he wanted a Snuggie.

What is a surprise, is that we finally caved and bought him one. Saturday morning the temperatures were in the fifties so he was able to lay on the back porch in total comfort with his comic book, his chihuahua, and his Snuggie.

I have a feeling that by the end of winter I'm going to really be sick of seeing my first born flop around the house in this cheap blue cloak. Although, I did try it on yesterday and I will admit it's comfortable, but wearing it made me feel quite unfashionable. And that's saying a lot, considering I haven't bought new clothes in almost a year and most of what I wear has food stains down the front.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The List

Excuse me. I'm about to bring this discourse down a notch.

The other day I was reading this post of Betts's, and when I got to number eight I started thinking about my own "To-Do" List. In case you don't know what a "To-Do" list is, it's a list of five celebrities you can "do" without facing any repercussions from your significant other. I've never heard of anyone actually getting to "do" anyone on their list so I'm not sure how that whole "without repercussions" thing would work, but that didn't stop me from making a list, which is as follows.

1. Alec Baldwin
2. Alec Baldwin
3. Alec Baldwin

Obviously I'm banking heavily on not only being in the right place at the right time with that man, but also my ability to seduce him, which I imagine would be comical at best. But because I don't like to put all my eggs in one basket:

4. Seth McFarlane, the creator of Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show. (I'd really like to discuss with him his views on god and religion. If I have to "do it" with him to do so, then so be it.)

Number five is always hard for me. On any given day I could catch a glimpse of a random celebrity and make him number five. I'm fickle that way. Or maybe just skanky. But when all else fails: Kiefer Sutherland.

In case you're wondering, Jay's list is:

1. Scarlett Johannsson
2. Julie Louis-Dreyfus
3. Rose Mcgowan
4. Maggie Gyllenhaal
5. Kate Winslet (Jay had Tea Leoni as number five but scrapped her for Kate because he felt he needed more "boob" on the list.)

Now I ask you..Who's on your list? Won't you share? I'd love to see your whole list but if you only want to share one or two, that's fine. I understand you may not be as slutty as I am.

Friday, October 16, 2009

NaBloWriMo: Halfway There

Wow. Sixteen posts in as many days. I have to admit that there is a small part of me that didn't think I'd make it this far, and it really hasn't even been much of a struggle. Although I probably just jinxed myself by typing that.

Even though I'm enjoying the challenge of writing everyday, I've discovered that ultimately it isn't my style and after the month is over, I'll probably go back to my regular schedule. Having to pound out a post everyday is incredibly all consuming. This blog has become all I think about. I flip flop between two mindsets: One in which I can't think of a single thing to write about, and the other in which I have half a dozen ideas floating around in my head that I'm trying to make sense of and organize in a coherent fashion. It's mentally exhausting.

Another negative is that I have less time to read and comment on other blogs. Not to mention the fact that I haven't been as good about responding to the comments left here. I genuinely consider a lot of you to be my friends, so I don't like not being able to "talk" to you as much as I had in the past.

There has been one main positive though. Writing everyday has forced me to.......well, actually write. It can be really easy to get into the habit of writing a few sentences and then filling a post with pictures and links and hitting Publish. Obviously I have no problem with this tried and true formula, I use it quite regularly. But it can't be done everyday. I realize now that I had fallen into a rut with my blog. Writing everyday has brought that to my attention and I've been forced to pull myself out of that rut and it feels good. I've had to think outside my comfort zone and maybe write about things I wouldn't have bothered with before. And I'm proud of that.

So, please forgive me for this small moment of reflection on the month so far. I'm anxious to see what the rest of October holds for me although I worry I'm going to be scraping the bottom of the barrel pretty soon. Frankly, my life isn't really interesting enough to warrant a blog post everyday.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Math Anxiety

One day last week I was helping my son with his pre-algebra homework, and I use the word "help" in the loosest possible sense. As he was working out his problems, I was thumbing through his math notebook, which at only two months into the school year, is already dog eared and packed with notes. I came across an interesting handout from the teacher entitled Math Anxiety Bill of Rights, which states:

1. I have the right to learn at my own pace.
2. I have the right to ask whatever questions I have.
3. I have the right to need extra help.
4. I have the right to ask a teacher for help.
5. I have the right to feel good about myself regardless of my abilities in math.
6. I have the right to view myself as capable of learning math.
7. I have the right to evaluate my math instructors and how they teach.
8. I have the right to relax.
9. I have the right to be treated as a competent person.
10. I have the right to like my other classes more than I like math.
11. I have the right to define success in my own terms.

I couldn't tell you how overjoyed I was to see this. This is a teacher that gets it. And I have to admit that I had my doubts about her. At first she seemed overly particular and persnickety. But what do I know? Maybe that's what it takes to be a good math teacher. She's obviously doing something right. My son's average in her class fluctuates between 99% and 115%, which no matter how you look at it, is awesome.

I wish I had seen this bill of rights when I was in school. Starting in about the sixth grade, math became a major source of anxiety for me. I had always been, and would continue to be, an A-B student. Except for math. If I was lucky I could pull in a C-, and if I'm being totally honest, that was with a heavy amount of cheating. Don't get me wrong, I tried to understand algebra and geometry on my own, without the 'assistance' of my peers. I remember staring at my math book night after night, near tears, trying to wrap my brain around those problems and just not understanding what I was looking at. There is nothing worse than studying hours for a test and then getting it back and seeing some ludicrously low score like a 22%, at the top.

Looking back, I don't think any of my math teachers were all that helpful during those years. Especially Ms. Strange. Honest to god, that was her name. I had her for 10th grade geometry and mathematically speaking, it was one of the worst years of my life. Ms. Strange would enter the classroom, write the assignment on the board, work out one example problem, and instruct us to get to work. What we didn't finish in class was to be homework. Then she'd walk over and rest her head on her desk for the next 40 minutes.

I remember one time, bravely walking from my seat in the back of the room (behind Pam, my friend with the very liberal attitude towards cheating) up to Ms. Strange's desk. It seemed like miles. When I got there, I told her I just couldn't do it and I think I needed some extra help. She quickly worked out another example problem and then asked me if I understood. I didn't, but I said yes just so I could go back to my seat. I couldn't put it into words then, but now I realize I felt as if I was wasting her time, like she'd rather be somewhere else. (ahem...see Bill of Rights numbers 1-4 and then 7) I ended up passing the class with a D. And that was only because of Pam. After that year I figured I'd never learn this stuff, (see Bill of Rights number 6) and I started taking remedial math courses just so that I'd have enough math credits to graduate high school. ( I passed all the remedial classes with an A average. I can do basic math, it's the advanced stuff that makes my eyes glaze over.)

I can't entirely blame my teachers for my math problems. No one is good at everything and it may just be that math is one of those things that I would never have been good at no matter who it was that was instructing me. But after seeing the math education that my son is getting, I definitely don't think I was given the same chance to succeed. Thank goodness for Pam.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Because 'Douche' is Such a Great Word

Okay. I've written about these note cards before but it's been a while and I can't seem to find the post in my archives. (Actually, I didn't even look. My archiving skills are less than stellar and I really don't know where to even begin to look. Anytime another blogger links to an older post of mine, I'm always amazed and impressed that they had the fortitude to scour through a year and a half of mislabeled posts. While we're on this subject, has anyone noticed that according to my labels, I've written more about Alec Baldwin than I have my own husband. That can't be right. Can it?)

What was I talking about? Oh, right. The note cards.

The other day the husband and I went to Starbucks. He parked and ran in while I sat in the car playing with the satellite radio. I like to let him get things for me from time to time, not because I think I'm a princess, but because I know he enjoys working his inner hunter and gatherer. Even if evolution has brought us to the point where the only thing he's hunting is a Pumpkin Spice Latte. As I was flipping through the stations, a dirty skank pulled into the parking spot next to us and parked thisclose to the drivers side of our car. I knew that when Jay came with our drinks, he was going to be forced to squeeze himself into our vehicle. So I got out my little envelope and found the appropriate card, which was this one:
When Jay returned, I took the drinks, handed him the card, and he slyly slid it under her windshield wiper. And then we drove away laughing. (This was probably the highlight of our day.)

The note cards can be bought at the Wry and Ginger Etsy shop (look under Laminated Mini Notes) and are only $7 for a pack of eight. Which, when you think about it, is a small price to pay for the life renewing feeling you get by calling someone a douche, a cock, or an asshat and then running away before they have a chance to retaliate. That, my friends, is priceless.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Portobello "Burger"

Saturday evening my son had a friend over and for dinner we satiated them with various grilled meats. As hard as I may try, there really seems to be no other way to satiate boys of this age. Personally, I'm not much for the grilled meats. Occassionally I'll crave a buffalo burger or a hot dog, but mostly the smells, flavors, and texture of meat aren't tempting to me. I'm much more excited by cheese, or fresh bread, or a giant, brightly colored salad with lots of stuff in it. Anyway, because I wasn't feeling very meat-tastic, Jay grilled me up something special.

He took a portobello mushroom top, brushed it with a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil, and then threw it on the grill for 5-7 minutes. When it was done he topped it with pineapple and a slice of muenster cheese.
Of course the boys weren't interested in these 'burgers', but Jay and I thought they were delicious and filling. Plus, it made me feel as if I was part of the meat eating in-crowd that is my family.

Note: Jay says when you are grilling these, it's best to do it open side down for most of the time. That way you lose a lot of the excess moisture. Otherwise your shroom will be a bit too juicy and will destroy your bun. Now you know.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pecan Picking

It's been hot here. No one has been real motivated to do much of anything. Sunday we wanted to get the kids out of the house, but nothing seemed worth getting off the couch for. Then Jay saw in the newspaper that a man who owns a tree farm was inviting people to come pick pecans and chestnuts for only $1 a pound, so we decided to take a drive out to the country and show the kids some hard labor.

Well, turns out the labor isn't all that hard. There really is no picking involved. When the nuts are ready to be eaten, they fall from the tree and then you walk around pushing, in the words of the tree farm owner, a "picker upper." (The picker uppers sorta reminded me of those awful push and pop toys that every child seems to have at one time or another. I never realized those toys had an actual purpose but now I know it's to prepare your child for life on the nut farm.)The picker upper is made of thin wires that spread apart when rolled over something hard, thus catching all the nuts.
When your picker upper is full, you empty the contents into your bucket and start over again.The farm itself is gorgeous. Here is a picture of Jay and the boy under a giant pecan tree. Most of what you see on the branches isn't leaves, but pecans that haven't fallen from the tree yet.Even though it's only the beginning of the season, we still came home with six pounds of pecans, which will be more than enough to make a few pies from. I actually made a pie last night but because my family has no patience, we dug into it before it was fully cool and now it's not the most photogenic of pies. It's delicious though. I should know, I just had a slice for breakfast.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mildly Boring Sewing Post

A few weeks back I made the girl a pillowcase dress. I just got around to taking photos of it yesterday. She was in one of her moods so this is as good as it's going to get:Nice huh?

You really don't need to see the dress. It's a basic style that's hard to mess up. What makes it so awesome is that it's made from this Japanese Imported Storybook Fabric, which is adorable.

This is the second pillowcase dress I've made. (The first can be seen here.) I always use this very easy to follow tutorial. I love making these dresses. They're quick and easy and can be layered like crazy so as to be worn all year long. Do you think I could get away with wearing one myself?

I do want to mention that as I was about to attach the bias tape I remembered Karen's post from back in July. So I sewed the tape to the wrong side first and Wow....much easier than the way I had been doing it. But I never really doubted Karen, she's mildly obsessed with bias tape.

(Sorry if this post isn't as exciting as they usually are. Blogging everyday is hard. You have to expect a few clunkers.)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My Friday

  • Wake up
  • Put on one of the shirts that Dani sent me. It's low cut. I feel sexy.
  • Get girl ready for pre-school. She insists on wearing a paper birthday hat. Her birthday is in January. Decide this is not worth arguing about.
  • Start a load of laundry
  • Go with the husband to have a McFlurry. Morning is going well.
  • Return home. See entire load of laundry was turned pink except for the blue items which are now purple. All due to one ever-so-tiny red shirt.
  • Curse (a lot)
  • Rewash load
  • An hour later, nothing has changed.
  • Curse again
  • Go to the grocery store to find something to magically return clothes to their original colors. Nothing seems to exist. Lots of products to prevent this from happening, none to reverse it. Leave grocery store.
  • Upon leaving store, am ogled at by two old men on a bench. Am creeped out. Rethinking sexy low cut shirt choice.
  • Go to Target, buy Oxyclean.
  • Also buy turtle food. Turtle food=$8 for three ounces. Price per ounce, turtle is eating quite well. Possibly better than I am.
  • Go home and rewash clothes yet again.
  • Call Dawn, who relays her own personal sexy shirt/creepy old guy story. Mutually decide we need to wear our sexy clothes to better places.
  • An hour later, clothes still mostly pink.
  • Try to transport self back to McFlurry happy place.
  • Curse and give up. Hang clothes on line. Damn pink/purple clothes.
  • Go to fridge to get pumpkin beer to transport self to pumpkin beer happy place.
  • Open fridge door and beer bottle rolls out, crashes to the floor and shatters. Beer and small pieces of glass everywhere.
  • Vow to clean up mess later, grab beer, and go use computer.
  • At 3:15 realize that entire day's diet has consisted only of McFlurry and beer. Make sandwich.
  • Clean up beer mess and decide to give up on rest of the day and do only bare minimum.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Book Review:: Brokeback Mountain

Even though I haven't seen the movie based on this story, I still knew what the book was about. It's hard to not know, since this story and the movie caused quite a stir for a while. The book has permeated pop culture so much that even if you just watch a couple of episodes of Family Guy, you can get the gist of the tale: two cowboys, Ennis and Jack, fall in love. And cowboys aren't supposed to do that sort of thing.

As I mentioned yesterday, this is a short story and it moves fast. One moment the men are discussing sheep and the next moment they are gettin' it on and you find yourself into the meat of the story already and you've only read 14 pages. Which I love. I hate short stories that seem to drag and then end abruptly and I'm left trying to figure out what I just read. This short story had a definite, albeit abbreviated, beginning, middle, and an end.

The book itself is very well written and the author seems to have a clear grasp of what cowboys are like. My main problem? I don't like cowboys and the whole culture that surrounds them. I don't like the tough guy who always maintains this macho exterior, especially if it serves to perpetuate a stereotype. I had very little sympathy for these two men who never talked about what went on between them other than to say things like, "I'm not no queer" or "Me neither. One shot thing. Nobody's business but ours."

I didn't find either of the main characters all that likable. Jack married just for money, and while Ennis seemed to have liked his wife Alma at one time, he doesn't show a lot of interest in providing for their children and he has no respect for Alma's feelings. He even insists on doing things in the bedroom that she has clearly stated she hates. There is a particularly haunting passage in the book when Alma asks Jack to wear a condom because she doesn't want another pregnancy. When Jack refuses, she thinks to herself, "anyway, what you like to do don't make too many babies." It was really painful to read how Jack's fear and hatred of himself caused him to hurt the ones he had committed to love and care for.

I'm not going to reveal the ending here but I will say that at first I felt it was rather predictable. But after some thought, I think that given the time and place that these two men lived, the love story could really have ended only one way.

Although I didn't really like the two main characters, I admit I wouldn't want to be in their shoes and be faced with dealing with certain emotions and feelings that are considered unacceptable in the cruel world they live in. I loved the story and I think it's sticking with me much more than I thought it would. It's incredibly layered and sad and ultimately much more complex than just two cowboys in love.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Listing

Here's a short list of a few things that have been keeping me busy lately.


Watching:: Last Chance Harvey, an easy to watch romance with Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. I liked it but Jay said "it was good but kind of an old people movie." Probably he's right, but considering that I've reached the age where I don't know celebrities under the age of 40, it was an appropriate choice.

Puzzled by:: My dreams. My best friend is always calling me and giving me the play by play on the lovely and satisfying dreams she's had starring her latest celebrity crush, then we try to figure out if they have any hidden meaning. (Usually her dreams include this guy, or this guy--I don' t think she'd mind me saying she has a thing for vampires.) I'm never this lucky. If someone I do like happens to make an appearance, we're usually sweater shopping or he's changing a light bulb for me. Most bizarrely though, the other night I dreamt I was having dinner with Barney Frank. (If you don't know who that is, click the link.) Yeah. Barney Frank. I actually like his snarkiness....but really....a 70 year old gay congressman? What am I supposed to make of that?

Excited to try out:: The Bookmaking with Children ideas over at Bird and Little Bird. (More specifically, here and here.) My birthday is coming up and I told the boy I wanted him to write a story and make me a book. I think he feels I gave him homework.

Loving:: TV on DVD. For the last month or so Jay and I have been occupying ourselves with True Blood, Weeds, and season three of 30 rock. We'd also like to try out Mad Men, Californication, and Dexter. (Anymore I should add to the ever growing Netflix queue?)

Reading:: I finally finished Mississippi Sissy. It was a good book but the last 100 pages or so we're difficult to get through. I hope to review it here soon and I'll go into more detail then. I also just read Brokeback Mountain yesterday. I had no idea this was just a short story of 50 odd pages. I have some pretty strong opinions about the characters in the book and I'll probably be reviewing it here tomorrow. (It just occurred to me that possibly my choice of reading material lately is seeping into my subconscious and effecting my dream life. That would definitely explain Barney Frank.)

Laughing hysterically at:: The Cleveland Show. It's delightfully raunchy. (I've been watching a lot of TV lately.)

Still motivated by:: NaBloWriMo I'm eight for eight so far. Can I make it through the month? While on the subject of this, I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for the comments that have been left. There have been times I've worried that I'm boring you all to death with this blogging everyday thing, so the comments are nice and so appreciated. I know I haven't been "conversing" in the comments as much as I used to, but please still know that I read and love every single comment.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Free Fun

Last Sunday we were looking for something fun and cheap to do. Jay came up with the idea of going to feed ducks. The pond we went to is a man made one right next to the hospital where the girl was born. You can see part of the hospital in the below picture right behind my ragamuffin children (and in the new header-which, incidentally, I spent way too much time on.). The building also houses a bunch of doctors offices, including the kids' pediatrician.The ducks that live here seem to have stumbled upon the best possible place for a duck to reside. As far as I can tell, these ducks are constantly being fed. They come up close and will eat right out of your hand:The girl liked this giant white duck and proceeded to chase it around the park area:I'm sure the duck was totally into it.

The only bad thing about duck feeding is that it only lasts a few minutes. Because once you run out of stale crackers and bread, the ducks pretty much don't want to have anything to do with you:After the ducks ditched us we went to Lake Alice to see the alligators.Maybe my family has just lived in Florida for too long, but the alligators seemed to hold our interest for about 4 seconds.
Note to self: Next time forgo alligator visit and just bring more stale bread for the ducks.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Weirdos

I bought this book for the boy about four years ago. It had been completely forgotten about until two weeks ago when I was in his room helping him with his science paper and I found it under a stack of old comic books and magazines. While the boy worked on his paper, I played around with the book.

I can't draw at all. I've always been jealous of people that can doodle while on hold with the cable company or the IRS or whatever. I can't doodle. When I try to doodle my brain freezes up and I usually just end up writing my name in cursive over and over. I've read that excessive name signing means that I have an identity problem. Maybe. But honestly I think it's just because I can't draw anything else.

Emberley's books break down each drawing piece by piece. If you can draw circles, straight lines, and squiggles, then you can draw all the Weirdos in the book. Each step tells you what to draw and where to put it.Say I wanted to draw a goblin. I'd start at the beginnning:Follow all the steps until the end:Voila! My goblin:Okay. I guess he's not quite as menacing as the one in the book. I am pretty pleased with my Evil Eva though:She's damn scary.

There are quite a few different versions of the Ed Emberley drawing books. Around here though, we just happen to be partial to weirdos.