Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Ugly

Because of the sickness that has run back and forth through our house since the week before Thanksgiving, I had to put off a lot of my Christmas shopping until today. I had 4 hours to cover 7 people. I was so happy to have everyone well and be out of the house on a sunny day that I was able to do it all with a smile on my face. I always hate to see people running through Walmart with frowns on their faces and a cart full of presents. It is suppose to be better to give than receive so, in theory, our faces should be as bright buying the presents as they are when opening them. For me, the trouble comes when I have the perfect gift picked out for someone and something is standing between me and that gift. I came very close to that today. I knew exactly what the kids were going to get Rocky. I went to Walmart and it had even been marked down $10. Naturally, they were sold out. The very nice clerk checked around for me and found that the Windward Parkway store had 12 left. I drove all the way to Alpharetta and practically had to mug a clerk to get them to get it out of the magic case for me. Then I noticed it was still listed at the regular price. I asked if maybe the sign had just not changed. The clerk casually informs me that sometimes one store will have a sale they don't and oh yeah, they won't price match another Walmart. I'm pretty sure my eye started twitching at this point. I realized I'd be getting no where with this clerk so I went ahead to the check out readying my argument and threats. I could feel the ugly rising up inside me. Maybe the new clerk saw it too because he hit the scanner really quickly and seemed very relieved to see it ring up at the sales price. I am very happy to say that I never once got rude and didn't even say anything sarcastic, but certainly not because of my own power. So, today I am thankful that I have been able to avoid the Christmas ugly.
Are you maintaining a merry and bright demeanor while shopping this year or has something ugly gotten in your way?

Friday, December 10, 2010

1 in 150

Did you know that your odds of having a child with autism are 1 in 150? That is a pretty shocking number. Do you know how I learned this? A t-shirt from Band of Angels. They also taught me that your odds for Down Syndrome is 1 in 800.


I really think this is one of the smartest designs for an awareness shirt I have seen, and today, thanks to Band of Angels and my friend Tiffany, we all have a chance to win one. Just head on over to her blog and find out how.

Band of Angels is an amazing organization dedicated to being an advocate for children with Down Syndrome, autism, and other disabilities. It is a really uplifting site meant to encourage parents and shines a brilliant light on a subject that a lot of people fear.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Why I'm Exhausted

I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open today thanks to some vivid, wacky dreaming again. Since I wasn't animate or an alien with a robot arm, this isn't even close to my strangest dream. I'm glad I didn't live in the 1690's or I'd have to hide my overactive dream life for fear of being burned at the stake.

Last night's dream was a lot like a bad Lifetime movie. There was a wealthy couple with two sons who were in the 8 to 12 age range. The couple decided that they really wanted to try to have a baby girl, but because of their age they needed a surrogate mother to carry the child. While the woman was carrying the child the wife died leaving the father to care for the sons and unborn child. The surrogate ended up becoming a sort of nanny. The people in their social circle spent a great deal of time gossiping about the situation. In the end it comes to light that the mother had realized she was dying and had picked the woman to be a surrogate in more than one way. The birth of the baby, which is a girl, bonds them all together and they live happily ever after. Que the crying. The weird twist in all of this is that my role in the dream was that of the dead wife.

I'm pretty sure if I saw a preview of this as a made for tv movie that I'd roll my eyes and wonder who comes up with this stuff. If anyone decides to use this idea, I expect to see my name in the credits, a good character named after me, and 25% of the royalties.

Monday, December 06, 2010

JD's Words of Wisdom

JD is always full of great comments. He is a very entertaining kids, especially to only be 6. I have a couple of gems that are too big for a status line.
Nix, being the proper big sister she is, was giving a lecture about picking up and keeping track of your own toys. JD looks at her and says, "Nix, all I heard from that is, JD blah blah blah blah toys".  After we all laughed a good laugh I made sure he knew that if he pulled that with an adult then he was risking serious punishment. But, that is the really great thing about JD, he seems to know when it is okay to joke around like that and when not to. He is very respectful, except to Nix.
This morning I asked JD to plug in the lights on the Christmas tree. I guess at some point we went overboard on the "don't stick stuff in the outlets" speech because he looks at me very seriously and says, "I don't think I'm old enough to plug them in yet. I'm not ready for my life to end." I tried showing him the right way to pull things in, but the light plugs that allow you to plug into the back really threw him. He decided it was best to wait until he gets a little older.
I was a little worried (okay, I was really stressed) that JD would not take his school work seriously. Getting him to do homework and study spelling is impossible. Early on in the school year I told him that if he didn't get serious then he wouldn't make good grades and be able to go to the second grade. He looked at me like I had lost my mind and said, "Mom, I'm only crazy at home. I'm serious at school." And so he is. I checked with his teacher. She found it hard to believe that he is so goofy at home. She says she has to reminder herself that he isn't just a really small man because he is so serious. I still find that hard to believe.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Christmas Carol Gone Wrong

Late last night I heard a Christmas song that I had never heard before, and I knew I had to post it today. It is a song written about something that really happened in 1915 during World War I. As with all great songs about legendary historic events, the writer took a few liberties with the truth, but the core of the story does seem to be true. The British and the German troops were entrenched close to each other when Christmas came. The British heard the Germans singing a song they recognized as "Silent Night" in German. They responded by singing their own carol. After some back and forth, both sides emerged from their fox holes and had a small celebration together in the area deemed "no man's land", which also included playing a little football. The event didn't last long as commanders called their troops back to the reality of the situation.
Much like the officers of these men, the writers of this song decide to call us all back to the reality of war in the last verse. I had no idea there was a Christmas song about killing Germans mixed with words from "Silent Night". It was like that scene in every John Woo movie where there is a gun battle with "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" playing over the action. The song had started by warming my heart and then slammed me back to the cold harsh war.  Why don't you just tell me the Christmas Shoes woman died!
I hope you find you find this as oddly interesting as I did.


click here if video does not post
The song is sung by the group Cletic Thunder who had a Christmas special on PBS last night.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Christmas Music

It is December 1st which means it is officially socially acceptable to listen to Christmas music again. Woohoo! A friend is posting a Christmas song a day on her blog and I thought I'd join in the fun. I kind of doubt I'll do one every day. It will all depend on what I can find.
Today's selection comes from the movie Toys. It is weird little movie and makes almost no sense, but Hans Zimmer did the music for it. At the end of the movie there is a song called "At the Closing of the Year" sung by Wendy and Lisa with a special Seal kicker. I know it is an odd choice, but I like it and wanted to start out with the unexpected . Enjoy!

Click here if video does not appear

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Lights and Senseless Crimes

This afternoon I took my first step towards decorating for Christmas by stringing outside lights. Rocky is against the idea of making any permanent alterations to the house to allow for decoration, meaning no nails, staples, or hooks. When you combine that with my how miser like I get this time of year to ensure Christmas bills don't become New Years bills, we put up very few lights. I have two sets of netting lights and 2 more regular strands plus a wreath. It took me all of ten minutes. As with many holiday rituals, it brings childhood memories to the front.
When I was little we didn't do the outside light thing. One year my mom decided to replace all of our old multi colored tree lights with the clear kind. My brother and I ganged up and convinced her to let us use the old lights to decorate outside. We did all the work ourselves other than the wiring it took to plug them into an outlet. I was so proud of those lights. The second day when we plugged them in we noticed a very odd change. All of our pretty multi colored lights were now clear. We had been the victim of a completely senseless crime! Who would take off one set of lights and replace them with others that are exactly the same except for the color? At some point deductive reasoning kicked in and we figured out that what had actually happened was that our old light set was not meant to use outside. The color had been painted on, and when a little rain shower came through in the night, it had washed all the paint off.
I still get tickled thinking about those few confusing minutes it took us to catch on to what happened. I also can't help but wonder how long it was before my mother realized that she could have just washed the lights to start with instead of buying new clear ones. I'm glad she didn't know before hand because then I wouldn't have one of my favorite Christmas memories.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Bit on the TSA

I rarely fly so really the mess with the TSA isn't an issue for me other than the fact that my husband flies monthly, and oh yeah, I'm an American and like to keep an eye on government doings. I've had a couple of bloggers I read tell some pretty ugly stores about trying to go through airport security recently. They aren't the type to talk about these sort of things at all. One is a coupon site and another is a woman who wrote a cookbook. Not political types in the least. This made me pay a little more attention. I'm naturally sceptical when a film maker or radio personality spins a tale that is too dramatic.
Meg McClain was just such a person. She was really the first I heard to go to the media with a horrific story of being mistreated at the airport. She was the one who said her ticket was ripped and she had been handcuffed. It bothered me a lot, but I had that nagging suspicion in the back of my mind that she might be exaggerating for effect. Sure enough, the TSA released the video of her at the airport screening, which is something they never do. It was an attempt to prove their innocence, and in fact it does seem that she was probably not singled out or handcuffed. There are however a few things in this video that give me cause for concern.

There no sound on the video.
(see video here if not viewable on note)
After watching it for a few minutes I stopped looking at Ms.McClain and started noticing the other travelers. There was a lot of gawking at her, which made me sympathetic. No one likes to be on display in a bad situations. Then something else caught my eye. I thought I saw a man go through the body scanner and then get patted down anyway. So, I started watching the body scanner instead of the drama. Along the 5 minute mark there is a woman in a purple sweatshirt that submits to the radiation scanner. She steps on the mat to wait the results and then, in full view of everyone, the female agent pats her down in a manner I would be very uncomfortable with. The woman, much like the other 2 people I saw go through this, was allowed to go on to board her plane so, obviously, there was nothing to be found.
After that, another problem occurred to me. When the woman this video was actually about was first taken aside she disappears off the corner of the video into a screening area. You can only see her hands as she talks. What this tells me is if she had allowed them to go ahead with the planned pat down she would have been off camera. There would be no one monitoring how the search was done or if the agent acted inappropriately during the search. One would assume that there are other cameras in the area, but if there were and didn't show the agents acting improperly, then why wasn't that angle shown instead?
I just wish one person could explain to me why we randomly search people. The TSA has never once to my knowledge stopped a single terrorist with these methods. Also, to my knowledge, there has never been a skinny white girl try to take over a plane in order to commit a terrorist act inside the U.S. Why is profiling wrong in this case? Why are we stripping the rights to be politically correct? Other countries profile, so why is it wrong to do it here? It seems like a giant waste of money and time. The idea that some airports do this to pilots astounds me. If they wanted to crash a plane they wouldn't need to smuggle anything onto the plane because they are the ones doing the flying. Is all common sense lost?
I read an article that was geared towards people of the Muslim religion on how to deal with the new screening. They are saying that you can declined based on religious reasons (good, having people put their hands all over me is against my religion, too). Next , you may request to be moved to a private area that is not in view of all the other people in line. After being moved you request a self pat down. In this you run your own hands over the private areas of your body, after which your hands are tested for explosive residue. I can live with this idea. It sounds fair to me. The question now becomes why isn't this option posted, suggested, and even encouraged?
I've said my peace, and I feel better, but only because I know I will not be flying anywhere with my children while these procedures are in place. I'd like to congratulate the TSA on making our skies safe from suburban housewives and families like ours.
Anyone else worked up about this?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Reusable Grocery Bags

Today's random point of thankfulness falls on reusable grocery bags. I am pretty sure I have never been accused of being environmentally friendly. It's not like I go around dumping toxic chemicals in lakes or anything. I just don't go out of my way to be "green". I like it when it makes sense or saves me money. Reusable grocery bags work for me.


I grew up in the grand days of paper grocery bags. They were big and had a thousand different uses around the house. I'm pretty sure I was a grocery bag squaw at least twice for school Thanksgiving celebrations. Then it was decided that maybe we cut down too many trees and the plastic bag came along. They hold half as much and rip at the drop of a hat. For awhile we had the choice of paper or plastic, or as one bag boy I heard say, "kill a tree or choke a fish?". Those days soon came to an end and we were stuck with the plastic bag.
I didn't embrace the reusable bag as quickly as I should have. I saw it as a symbol of all those global warming, tree hugger, liberal types, but I was so wrong. I received my first bag free as part of a promotion at Kroger and then another through Publix. I started realizing how much they would hold and used them a lot for road trips. One day I happened to leave them in the van and on a whim took them into Walmart with me. It was a real eye opener. All of my groceries fit into the 3 bags, and the handles made it easier to get them to the car. I was hooked. Now a few stores like Target are actually giving small discounts for bringing your own bags. I am a changed woman. I may forget from time to time, but from now on it is the reusable bag for me.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Teacher No One Wanted

Every high school has one. It is that one teacher that no one wants to get. They are old school strict. They have no problem failing you. I'm hoping that teacher just popped into your mind. If you went to North Side High School in Jackson that teacher's name was Mrs.Hardin. She taught senior English, so if you failed her class you didn't graduate. She also ran the Beta Club with an iron fist. Everyone knew her and knew not to set a toe out of line within eyesight of her room. She was one of my all time favorite teachers.
She had a great sense of humor that I don't think everyone saw because they only heard the stern voice. She would throw erasers at student who weren't paying attention. She once took a student's hat off his head and threw it out the first floor window. The student was easily twice her size. As he told it he picked her up and set her outside the window next to his hat and demanded she pick it up if she wanted back in. The fact that she didn't get the guy kicked out of school shows that she was not totally heartless.
My favorite and most eye opening story about Mrs.Hardin involved her husband. He was a pilot. He had been married before and was widowed with two teenage daughters. If I remember right, I thinkMrs.Hardin had the oldest daughter before the passing of her mother, but I know that by the time the second daughter came through her class the mom had passed on. Mrs.Hardin mentioned in class one day that she had never been on a plane. The girls started plotting. Under the guise of taking her on her very first plane flight, they arranged for their dad to take her on a short flight. She had no idea, nor did the father, that they were being set up. They fell in love very quickly and spent many years very happily married. Mrs.Hardin once said that all though the children were his, the grandchildren were hers. It was a real shock to find out that this serious little teacher had perhaps the most romantic real life story I had ever heard. From that day on I stopped looking at her as the woman who held the pass or fail button on my education and saw her as a loving wife, stepmother, and doting grandmother.
It is stories such as hers that makes me want to know everything I can about the people I meet. Everyone has a story. Some are good, some are bad, but they shape our lives and until you know a person's story, you don't really know that person.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A New Term

Usually when I post about something funny heard in my house I am talking about JD, but today's gem is brought to you courtesy of my dad, or as most know him, Mr.Bill.
Yesterday my mom and I had picked up a pecan pie off the clearance bakery section at Walmart. Today there was some joke hinting about me needing to make a chess pie to which I replied that we already had a pecan pie in the house. My father then declares that it is a "faux pie". (say it out loud, it makes it funnier). It is when social faux pas meets baking.
Here are a few possible sample sentences:
"Bringing a Walmart pie to a southern bring-a-dish is a major faux pie."
"Did you make that pie from scratch?" "No, it is a faux pie."
"Moon pies aren't really pies, they are faux pas."

Enjoy our new phrase and use it often!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Randomly Thankful

Last year during the month of November people were encouraged on Facebook to post a daily status update reflecting something they were thankful for. The first few days were cool. There were lots of people thankful for family, friends, jobs, and homes. After about a week people started running out of generic things to be thankful for and either stopped posting, or like me, came up with completely random things. On the surface they may seem silly, but each really did represent something that in some way made my life a little happier.
I've heard whispers that the month of thankful posts is coming back and I am ready. Today's was about the Perry the Platypus silly band my son gave me. I love wearing it. It makes me smile. With the painfully horrible children's shows in this world, it is easy to be thankful for Phineas and Ferb. The show is smart and hysterical. I find myself watching it even when the kids aren't around, and just this morning my parents confessed to watching it at their house. Hey, I think I know what we're going to do today...
I'd love to have you join me in finding the random joy in each day and encourage you to find something out of the ordinary to be thankful for this November. It will make it much more fun for those of us reading your status updates.
I posted today and had my serious thanks yesterday, so that makes me only 2 days make up for.
1. I'm thankful for extra soft fuzzy socks
2. I'm thankful for Mr.Clean Magic Erasers - seriously those things are awesome!

All caught up and looking forward to reading what everyone else finds to be randomly thankful for

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Thank You Very Much!

I wrote a guest  post today for another blog. It is the blog of a very close friend of mine on the subject of children with special needs and bridging the gap between them and the rest of the world. It is a great read for any parent. I got to write a post because I was a child with special needs at one time. In doing so I realized that there are some people from my childhood that I need to thank.
First, I need to thank my big brother Matt because my defect affected his life way more than mine. I know that my life made his life harder for a long time. Even though we have always been opposites he always took up for me when it mattered. I'll never forget the words, "That's my sister. I'll kill you later." It meant the world to me.
Now I have a couple of childhood friends that deserve the spotlight. John Bennett has been my friend longer than anyone else I know. He was mostly my brother's friend, but in the same grade as me and we almost always had classes together at school. Not a single time in 34 years do I remember John ever asking me why I talked differently, he just accepted it. He also never joked about my voice, at least not that I ever heard. We lived in a small town and went to an even smaller school so I'm pretty sure it would have gotten back to me. The other friend is Christy Rose Day. Christy, not only did you dare to tell kids it wasn't funny to pick on me, you threatened them with bodily harm if they did it again. Word got around that I was "protected" which is why the bullying never escalated. You had my back from the day we met to the day we graduated even when our lives took different paths. I love you for that.
To all the people who were brave enough to ask why and found my answer cool instead of creepy, I thank you. You made my life a little easier. To Cindy, Evelyn, Tracey, and Sheri, you were the best friends a strange little girl like me could have asked for. Each one of you walked me through a different phase of my life and supported me exactly the way I needed.
I thank people for tiny things everyday, but it isn't often that I stop and thank people for the big things they do. Thanks for reading and for letting me thank a few people who I wouldn't normally get a chance to.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trick or Treating

Halloween this year is going to be a little different. Since Nix hit middle school, we are cutting her off. She still has a costume, but this year she'll be handing the candy out with me while the boys walk the neighborhood. I'm really looking forward to it, and I think she is too. It will be fun and maybe a little lesson in giving instead of receiving.
I just read an article about a town that has a law saying you can not trick-or-treat over the age of 12. The mayor says that people were tired of 6 foot tall "kids" coming to their door. He went on to say that in "his day" fathers told their kids when they were too old and didn't let them go out, but that is not happening any more. It was now up to local government to handle the problem.
The whole article made me sad. Did this town really have such a problem with this that they had to legislate common sense? Are parents no longer taking responsibility for their own children? There has now become an expectation for the government to control your children for you. The police of that town are now tasked with not only running down people trying to do real harm on that night, but also with carding kids in costumes.
I should probably note that I do agree that being a teen does make you too old to trick-or-treat. If you are old enough to go without your parents shadowing you, then you are too old to go out. At this point it is no longer trick-or-treating it is begging. Get a job and buy your own candy.
I noticed in the comments of the article there were a few suggestions on how to deal with over aged treaters. My favorite suggestion was to toss ketchup packages from a fast food restaurant into their bags instead of candy. This way they don't know who tricked them, just that they got tricked. It also cuts down on retaliation, which is the real reason we still give candy to the big ones. It is either that or sit up all night with your night vision goggles and a BB gun (not that I know anyone who would do that).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sick Day Musings

I am in the early stages of a cold. I am trying to fight it off with rest, water, and airborne, but for now I am feeling pretty cruddy. I found myself wishing that I had a replicator like in Star Trek so that I could magically have some earl grey, hot (it's a star trek thing, go with me). In my case it would be "earl grey, hot with 2 sugars, vanilla cream, and decaffeinated, please." Did you catch the weird part? I mean aside from this imaginary conversation I am having with myself about Star Trek (cold medicine, remember?) I would say "please" to a computer. I'm also pretty sure I would follow with a "thank you" when the tea appeared. What does this say about me? Am I super polite or are manners so drilled into me that I would be polite to a brick wall without really thinking about it? I guess I do have my line though because I did not thank the microwave for making the tea I hot when I did fix a cup.
I'm going to take a nap now, thank you.

Monday, October 18, 2010

You Look Just Like...

I was very distracted today in Walmart by a man who looked just like a celebrity. I stared at him a moment too long and he caught me looking at him. I couldn't say anything because I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be flattered by the celebrity I thought he looked like. No one wants to hear, "Hey, you look just like Danny Devito".

Once a teenager blurted out that he thought Rocky looked like Kevin Smith, but taller and thinner and with shorter hair. So, basically he was saying that Rocky had dark hair and a beard, which he does, but Rocky did not take it well. He preferred it when people mentioned his resemblance to Charlie Sheen. Personally, I think he looks like the American version of Oded Fehr.


You always have to consider the source when dealing with celebrity look-a-likes. In Rocky's case the kid said "You look like that dude from Jay and Silent Bob. I can't remember which one he plays, but he  doesn't talk" This guy was not the brightest bulb in the pack, so I think the comment can be dismissed. I also like to exclude the person who told me I looked like Talia Shire. I call it just a weird reaction to finding out my husband's name. Still, it wasn't as bad as the guy in high school who said I looked like Chris Robinson if he were a girl. I am not sure what it says about the guy that he later asked me out. You'll be shocked to know that I turned that smooth talker down. My personal pick is the drunk girl who said Winona Ryder. She was only a little drunk and I am a skinny, pale, dark haired girl. Besides, Rocky agrees and he wouldn't lie.
Speaking of lying, have you ever heard someone say something like, "People say I look just like Tyra Banks", and you instantly want to reply, "People lie", or is that just me?
Fess up. What unflattering person have people said you look like? I promise not to laugh (in front of you) and if it helps you can also tell your most flattering.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Name Game

My daughter has never been much for playing with dolls. She has a couple that she loves, a couple that are really special to her, and a few that are more like room decorations. However, her animal collection is huge. Her room would put any zoo to shame. Every single one of these animals has a name and no name is aloud to be repeated. After all, you wouldn't name your children the same thing. George Foreman would, but I think everyone realizes that this is not normal. Come to think of it, I did have two great uncles with the same name, but they were only half brothers which makes it only half weird.
I'm not sure how it happened, but I seem to be the official name giver in the house. I am asked to inspect the animal, get a feel for it's personality, and declare the perfect name. With the invention of the very affordable Littlest Pet Shop collection my job got a lot harder. It is one thing to come up with 2 cute names for lions (Leo and Lena- done), but it is another to come up with 15 different names for three inch tall dogs.

(not her actual collection, but close enough)
Right now you can walk in her room, randomly pick up any animal, and she can tell you exactly what their name is. As she is getting older the influx of animals has slowed a lot. I wonder how long it will be before the names start to fade. I know some will always be remembered because I still remember many of mine.
On a side note: Strawberry Shortcake dolls were always my favorite. They came with names. After the more recent release I noticed that they changed Raspberry Tart's name to Raspberry Torte. Probably a wise choice. I think Bratz has the tart market cornered right now.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It's My Passion

"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me.”- Erma Bombeck

When I was a little girl I remember my mother making a point to watch any time Erma Bombeck was interviewed on television. She owned one of her books, which is really saying something because Mom was strictly a library kind of a girl. All I knew about Mrs. Bombeck was that she made my mother laugh and that was enough for me. Now that I am a wife and a mother myself I realize the really great thing about her writings were they let you know that you were not alone. From time to time, mostly when I am irrationally emotional over everything from a dirty sock in the floor to retro coffee commercials, I find myself deeply sadden that dear Erma is no longer with us. Can you imagine how fabulous her blog would have been?


Tonight I made the mistake of letting my husband fall asleep before me. While he was snoring rather loudly I was trying to remember a few easy remedies from an Erma book I read. I think they involved a brick and/or pillow suffocation. I began an internet search for, “Erma Bombeck sayings”, but instead of snoring jokes I found some of the most stirring quotes about following your dreams that I have ever read. To be completely honest, they made me cry. People usually talk about following your dreams as some sort of happy rainbow filled magic walk, but she talked about the fear, the exposure, and the risk. I felt called out and understood all at the same time. She pegged every bit of why I have never stretched myself for a dream and have always settled for what I knew to be in reach. She recognized how completely and utterly terrifying it is to step out on a limb and yet she was out there on the very end doing it anyway. That is some serious courage, my friend.

After all these years and all the times I have been asked what I want to be when I grow up, I finally have an answer. I want to be a real writer. (You can not even begin to imagine how hard that was for me to type. There were tears and shaky hands involved.) I’ve been playing at it for years and it may take years more to get it right, but at least it is out there in the open being grasped for with both hands.

Our generation has too many “real housewives” and not enough real housewives. We need someone who confesses to feeding their kids Pop-tarts to make us feel better about letting ours have Lucky Charms. Someone to let us know that we are not the only one who has wondered why our mini van smells only to discover a melted carton of ice cream that slide up under the third row sometime last week. These things keep us sane, and with the good Lord's help I want to be that woman. (May God help us all!)

And for those wondering about my oft mentioned tear jerking coffee commercial, here is my Achilles heel.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Political Statement

I'm fairly opinionated and I don't mind telling you what that opinion is. Just try me. Actually I am pretty sure that not a single person who reads this will be surprised to know that I am pro-life or, if you prefer, anti-abortion. With most political issues I am more than happy to listen to another side of the argument. I will hear you out, and even consider your point. Abortion is the exception to this.
Today I shared a video first shared with me by my midwife friend Kate. It was of a woman who had survived a late term abortion. To her, abortion is personal. You can not look at her and say to her that one life is not worth birth. It would surprise me to know that people have tried, but I'm sure someone has.
In Europe you have to have a medical reason to have a late term abortion. This is more than just a mother's life being in danger, after all, late term babies are born healthy every day. This clause allows you to abort a child with a specific known birth defect. After reading that, a specific birth defect may have popped into your mind and a child born with that defect. If not, let me help you. I was born with a cleft palate which is a minor cosmetic birth defect. Cleft palates as well as other minor defects such as a club foot were on that list of reasons to abort. This makes the fight personal to me. Abortion doctors, in a way, have listed my life as not worthy. Not just my life but the life of every child born with Down Syndrome, a heart defect, dwarfism, and the list goes on and on.
Are you willing to tell me that my life doesn't matter? Are you willing to tell a mother that she was wrong to give birth to her child?
Many will say that this is an extreme and dark side to the issue used to gain favor, and to an extent they'd be right. It helps to put an innocent face on an issue like this. But if you can see the evil in this then at one point do you draw the line and say an act is no longer evil. Is denying a child life ever not wrong?
I have known mothers who have risked their lives and even a couple who have lost their life to bring a child into this world. They would tell you that aborting a child in favor of a mother's life is cowardly.

I have heard many rationalizations and justifications for abortion, but not one of them makes up for the fact that in every case of abortion the only innocent party is the one who is killed in the process.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Badges

We don't need no stinkin'... oh wait, yes we do!
After much debate JD has agreed to be Clark Kent for Halloween this year, but he will tell you it was not his idea. I'm okay with that since his idea was to wear a sign that said "I want candy". It was direct and pretty funny, but I fear my suburban neighbors might not think it was as funny as we did.
It is coming together pretty easily. I even found a Superman shirt on clearance in Kmart's online store. Someone (I think it was my mom) mentioned that he needed a press badge. You know I could not do that half way. I fired up google and photoshop. I think I will probably change the picture out before I print it up, but here is what it looks like.

I found the drawing of the Daily Planet building here.
I am so excited with how it turned out. I just can't wait to see it all come together. I'll post pics when we do the official try on.
Now I am thinking of making myself a Nerd Herd employee badge just for fun.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ballet Shoes

Last week with much excitement and fan fair my daughter was fitted for her very first pair of pointe shoes. This is now the most expensive pair of shoes in our house. After paying for shoes, pads, ribbons..., they gave us a special bag to keep the shoes in along with an extra shoe. Our assignment is to decorate the extra shoe and then email in a picture for a design competition.  I did not squeal with girlish glee, at least not where it could be heard.
It has been so much fun talking out ideas this week. This morning I went on a craft store run to see about turning ideas into something feasible. We couldn't decide between cute or dramatic, so I found a way to do both.
This design was done with 75 cents worth of felt, a sharpie, and a quick google search. It is 100% removable, so after the picture was taken I was able to clear it off to get it ready for design #2.

I'm not sure that we will actually enter this one because of the questionable legality of it. If you are ever having a down day, google Hello Kitty images. You would not believe the things that her cute little likeness has been put on. I'm talking automatic weapons crazy.
There is little to no ballet pointe shoe art out there, and I can not figure out why. It is a great canvas, and after you wear out a shoe there isn't much else to do with them.
The next design is going to have to be more permanent. A glue gun will be involved, as will sequins and maybe even feathers.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Weird or Normal?

When I was young a family friend accused my family of being the real life version of "Leave it to Beaver". She meant it as both a compliment and as a way of saying our "normal" family wasn't really the norm anymore. We were the weird ones. I was thinking about this the other day and it got me to wondering if, now that I'm an adult, I still have a weird family. I'm not worried about it. Weird has always worked for me. Just, curious. I know a lot of the ways that the traditional American family is no longer normal, but there are a few things I'm not sure about.
Is it weird that we eat dinner together as a family the majority of nights and enjoy that time together?
Is there anything your family does that you thought was normal, but isn't?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Evils of My DVR

My parent's main VCR just died. This is a tragedy for them because they have yet to embrace dvr technology. A few years ago my brother and I went in together to get them a dvd player that also writes to discs in an attempt to wean them off the vcr, but it didn't really take.  I had a very funny/frustrating conversation with her about possible solutions to now only being able to record one thing at a time now.
With the arrival of the new fall tv schedule I have been setting our dvr to record the shows we love, and more importantly, the new shows we want to try out. My dvr has been humming every night. The good thing is that I can record a new show and if it turns out to be terrible I can delete it a few minutes and move on to the next thing on the list. Here is the bad thing. I have found myself presenting an "I read it for the articles" argument in regards to the show Glee. Lets' be honest, that show is completely morally bankrupt. The music is great, the singers are stunningly talented, but as far as the show beyond the music goes, I'm embarrassed that I've ever seen it. Aside from the questionable life choices that the main characters make, they are really hateful people with few, if any, redeeming personality traits. I caught myself having the thought that I could record it and just skip through to only watch the singing. Then is dawned on me that this exactly like the guy who says he reads Playboy for the articles. It may well be true, but in the mean time what are you exposing yourself and your household to? I have children in my house that know how to work the dvr. What was I thinking!? I'm usually so careful, especially about things like this. I was wooed by the dark side, but not any more.
I know a great number of my friends watch Glee and probably worse, and you may be reading this thinking I am making a mountain out of a mole hill. First of all, remember that one man's mole hill is another man's mountain. Secondly, no one has every accused me of caring what other people think of my opinion (she said lightheartedly) and if you find yourself mad about what I said please consider why you care.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Girly Rant

Please ignore this post because it is a selfish rant and serves no purpose other than to make me feel better.
Normally I love being a girl. we can like any color we want without fear of being ridiculed for it. Admit it, you secretly think there is something wrong with men who like pink. Girls can wear skirts and don't have to claim Scottish heritage to do it. Shoes alone are reason enough to love being a girl. Men get their choice of black, brown, or tennis. Girls get an endless stream of miniature works of art for our feet as well as ones designed to feel like tiny pillows are hugging our toes.
There is all that and so much more to love about being a member of the fairer gender, but today I am not seeing even one of these. Today I am dealing with the ugliness of womanhood. Things such as being expected to have lots and lots of hair, but only on your head. Here's a news flash, if a girl has lots of hair on her head then she is also working very hard to keep it from showing up everywhere else. Women are expected to not be fat with the exception of what she carries around up top. Hey World! It is thin hips OR a big chest, it is NOT both, and it is high time the fashion world started embracing this idea and stop making clothes to fit Barbie dolls. They only exist in California. This is Georgia!
Now lets get into the real  cause for this rant, hormones. I like to think I am a perfectly sane and reasonable rational woman on most days. Why, oh WHY then do I occasionally snap and start crying over coffee commercials? How does my mind dredge up every bad thing that has ever happened, every embarrassing moment, and every insecurity I have while I am simply brushing my hair one morning? More and more I realize that it is not the thoughts in a woman's head that makes her crazy, but how she reacts to those thoughts. I try to react by verbalizing it. When Rocky asks me what's wrong, instead of the standard "nothing", which we all know really means "everything", I just tell him, "I'm sad for no good reason today." 
The older I get the more physical problems go with the emotional. Today I have a headache, my stomach feels icky, and I am in a general state of blah, and it is all for no good reason other than I'm a girl and this is the price we pay for getting heels and lace and mascara and all the other fun girly things we have.
One last thing great about being a girl, this condition can all be eased with a healthy dose of chocolate. Lucky for me, and those around me, I bought a box of brownie mix on a whim last week.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Oedipus JD

When I was pregnant with JD and people told me that little boys are fun because they adore their mothers, I had no idea what I was in for. I never expected JD to go in full on competitions with Rocky for my affection. It is weird and sweet all at the same time. JD emulates his dad. Since Rocky is good about giving me compliments, JD is good about telling me when I look nice too. JD tells me I'm a wonderful mother and my heart melts. He has started taking out the kitchen trash without anyone asking him too. He is so proud of himself and always runs to tell me. I've joked about the trash being Rocky's job, and I'm wondering now if that is part of the reason Jack wanted to do it.  He works his way in between Rocky and me when we are sitting cozy on the couch and flashes that devious little grin of his. It is all very innocent and very funny. It's like he is in training to be a good husband. What is really fun is that for the first time ever, Rocky has competition. He is having to step up his game a bit to keep from being shown up by his own son.I think I can find a way to work this to my advantage. It has me wondering if all boys go through this phase or if JD is just a very advanced charmer.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Encouraging

Yesterday a friend of mine wrote about the National Day of Encouragement in her blog. I hate that I missed it on the actual day. It really drove home something I have been thinking about all weekend. I use to be pretty good about sending a card, writing an email, or baking a pie, but lately I have slacked off. I think I let myself get... busy. There was a time when I would think about sending a card and before the thought was finished I was addressing the envelope. For several years the kids and I have made brownies and taken them to the firehouse on 9/11, but I skipped this year. JD called me on it, which is what had the subject on mind to start with. I felt really terrible about letting it slide, and then I started thinking of all the other things I have let slide in the past couple of years. I am outright mad at myself. It feels like I have taken a spiritual gift and tossed it aside. Well, look out world because the candle has been lit again! Look for peppy messages, random acts of kindness, and all around encouraging thoughts flying out of me once more. I promise to do my best to avoid cheesiness.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Technically Sad

I thought a few might could use a laugh today.
The down side of having a jumbo tron is that from time to time the bulb blows and it becomes more of a modern art exhibit than a television. Fixing it isn't a big deal. It just takes a hundred dollars and time for the bulb to ship. In the mean time, Rocky needs to be able to keep up his P90X, so we moved our tiny portable tv/dvd player into the den. Instead of watching one of the other tv's in the house JD has taken to watching movies on the tiny tv. I could not resist taking a picture of him with the tiny tv in front of the jumbo tron.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

Thanks to that blogging modern pioneer woman I have this great recipe for rolls. It involves buying those little frozen yeast rolls that you have to let rise. It is so good that I typically buy a giant bag of Kroger brand so I can make a batch of them (or monkey bread) whenever the mood strikes. I was going to have them for dinner tonight so I set the 4 that were left in the bag out to rise. Rocky was out of town tonight (he gets home in a couple of hours) and somehow I let the kids con me into fast food. As I was cleaning up tonight I saw those 4 beautiful rolls just sitting there waiting to be cooked. I couldn't let them go to waste. That would be wrong. There are starving children somewhere in the world. So I tucked the kids in and cooked the rolls. I couldn't just wrap them up for later. I'd forget about them. They are warm and buttery and smell so very good. When you think about it I really had no choice but to eat them. I still have one left, but I seriously doubt it will still be here when Rocky gets home.
If you go to try this recipe keep in mind that I have a very large amount of will power when it comes to food so the fact that I have just gone to the trouble to bake them for myself and eat all 4 of them should tell you how hard it is to resist them. Bake at the risk of your waist. Also, I don't own a cast iron skillet so I bake them in a cake pan. At Thanksgiving I bake them in a 9 x 13 with no problem. Just make sure you spray the pan.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Results

I gave the pastor a kidney stone! Okay, not really, but last week the pastor had a near death experience with a kidney stone that he just happened to bring to church this week for show and tell. Also in the past couple of weeks, he had an encounter with a man who didn't like to go to churches that talked about the blood of Christ. This became the topic of the sermon. Lots of blood talk. He broke into song a couple of times and asked for audience participation. And, last but not least, he actually used the phrase "once saved always saved" (my parents are Methodist).
Now for the good parts. It was a great sermon! The pastor sang "Nothing but the Blood" and he has a fantastic voice. It was an uplifting reminder of why the blood of the lamb is so miraculous. Even the kidney stone story was more funny than gross. I can't remember the last time I heard so many deserved amening in a service. My parents enjoyed it! They liked the church. The eternal security pitch didn't phase them. My father even said he looked forward to their next visit. This church has passed the kid test and the parent test now. If we can find a Sunday School class for us, we might just be sold.

The Ulitimate Test

I can not recommend things to my parents. The minute I do there is some sort of curse that kicks in. Take for example television shows, if I suggest my parents might enjoy a show then the very next episode will feature something gross, sexually explicit, and/or large amounts of profanity. Just this week we were talking about how funny and cute "Good Luck Charlie" is. It is wholesome and innocent with surprisingly smart humor. The very next episode featured repeated jokes about the baby breaking wind, which is the exact opposite of smart humor.
If I suggest a restaurant, it is suddenly under new management, the food is terrible, and overpriced. After a string of things like this we no longer suggest movies, tv shows, restaurants, or churches to my parents. It is now officially a family running joke and I have found out that it works if my mother suggests something to her mother as well.
Now that we are looking for a church we are putting this odd streak to work for us. If we can visit a church with my parents and there is no "yelling in the spirit", interpretive dancing, or real wine passed around, to name a few possibilities, then we are probably safe. More than once Rocky and I have attended a church for a couple of months, loved it, joined, and then the spiritual other shoe will drop. My parents are our new weapon against that happening.
With this being a holiday weekend we are taking a double risk taking my parents with us today. You never know what a lesser holiday church service will involve. At least one way or the other, after church today we should have a better idea of what to expect from this group.

Monday, August 23, 2010

You Don't Belong Here

My first question is, why does our Kroger sell perfume next to the canned meat? Are there people whose shopping list says, "bread, tuna, something to make me smell like Brittney Spears, pop tarts, eggs..."?
Next question. Has the man who laid out the redesign of the Cumming Walmart been grocery shopping? Ever? Even the clerks are grumbling about it. They went to all the trouble of designing a snack section next to the dog food, but the cookies and crackers are not there. Cookies are across the row from cokes, which are not in the beverage section. Also not in the special new area labeled "beverages" by a rather large sign, is the coffee. It is with the tea and chocolate milk mix next to the wine and across from the beer. Really? Are they saying that if you buy coffee and nestles quick then you must also need to get liquored up? I'm not saying they are wrong, just questioning when we started saying it out loud. (Only kidding- My house is still as dry as ever). The really funny part to me is that under the huge sign hanging from the ceiling that marks the area as "groceries" is the detergent, an item that most doctors agree should not be eaten. Most of the new layout is just funny to me, but the egg placement is down right stupid. They put them in the milk case. Now when you are looking for uncracked eggs you have to hold a door open and can only reach about 3 different cartons of the kind you need. My dad suggested just taking out the ones with cracked eggs and setting them on the ground by the case until they get the point. This certainly explains why the Midway store seems to have gotten a lot more popular. The best thing I can say about the new design is that I like the yellow they picked for the wall color. It is much less depressing than the old gray.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dishwasher Law

I am starting to realize that in most homes there is one person who is in charge of loading the dishwasher. In our house it is Rocky. We have an I cook, you clean thing going on which was handed down from Rocky's parents and I am eternally grateful. He doesn't freak out if I put dishes in, but I'm pretty sure he goes behind me and rearranges it before it gets run. It could be worse. I heard a rumor that my Uncle Bill has a diagram to follow, but that may have been friendly exaggeration.
For us, the emptying process is a little more complicated. There is an unspoken rule that if you have to unlock the clean dishwasher to get out something then you do not stop with just a spoon. You unload the whole thing. The main reasoning behind this is the second a dishwasher is unlocked the clean or dirty question gets called into play. The problem is that sometimes we are in a hurry and don't have time to empty the whole thing. We try to compromise by emptying just the top, or only the silverware, and someone will take what they need are re lock the dishwasher like they were never there. (Okay fine, it was me, but I went back later and emptied it)

My parents made me this cute little magnet to help. However, Rocky forgets to put it on and take it off, and JD thinks it is fun to randomly put it on. So, at least once a week we stand over the dishes looking for signs of dirt or water spots. We have gotten very good at it, and I'm pretty sure that is not a good thing.
Do you have dishwasher rules?

Friday, August 06, 2010

50/50

How many times have we been told that half of all marriages end in divorce? It is usually thrown at us as an excuse for a commitment phobic not to marry. Sometimes it is used as consolation when a marriage is ending. The other day it struck me that if half end in divorce then the other half end in happily ever after, or at least ever after. It is the glass being half empty all over again. The first time Nikki was asked if a glass was half full or half empty she asked if the glass was being poured or drunk from. To her it was a matter of perspective, and I think the marriage thing is the same way. For years people have used it as an excuse not to marry, but I think it is high time we claim a 50% success rate. It is certainly better odds than you get in the lottery. When you think about it, we accept these odds in other areas all the time. Half of all children are below average, but we don't consider that as a reason not to have children. On a similar note, half of all pregnancies are unplanned. That is creating a whole new life, but I don't see people not having sex over it.
Speaking of statistics, the counties around here have those seat belt signs that let you know what % of people wore their seat belts last month. Rocky pointed out to me that the police don't usually check for that unless they are pulling you over for drunk driving. So really aren't we just saying that 96% of our drunks remember to buckle up before they cause half of all fatal wrecks? Is this really something to brag about?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Church

Lately I have been reading the blog Stuff Christians Like. Let me warn you, if you don't have a sense of humor about some of the silly, odd, and cliched things we do as Christians then you won't like the blog. However, if you have ever been subjected to the wild drivings of a youth bus, tried to teach three year olds to sing, sign, and not dance to "Jesus Loves Me", or debated KJV vs. NIV then you might find it as interesting as I do.

Today's topic was about reacting to what Anne Rice said. I didn't know she had said anything news worthy let alone anything for Christians to react to. Apparently, she went on a rant about leaving Christianity because we all hate women and life and birth control (it was here that I realized she was Catholic) and a whole list of other things that I don't remember being on the church sign up sheet. She is still good with the belief in Christ just not Christianity. My very first thought was, "What kind of church has she been going to and what did they do to her?" Maybe there was an ugly scene of trying to get the vampire demons out of her mind or something. I'd like to give her a hug and suggest she try a Protestant church next time. Not that the Protestants are perfect, you are just more likely to find a branch of that tree that bends the same way you do.

This summer we have seen several churches with several different approaches to the way they conduct themselves. This week I noticed that a familiar name was on the prayer request list. It wasn't someone I knew personally, but a name I have heard repeated all summer at almost every church we have been to. It struck me just how connected we all are as a community and as a church. The name is J D Sexton and he is a four year old boy who was hurt in a boating accident at the start of summer. He went from almost dying, to wondering if he'd lose a leg, to walking into his home. He still has a long road in front of him, but can look forward to a full and normal life. People loving and caring and praying for a little boy they had previously not known is the kind of love I have come to expect from Christians and it pains me to know that other people haven't experienced that kind of oneness.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

What's in a Name

A week from now my oldest will be starting middles school. With the way zoning lines are drawn, she is headed for a school with a reputation for being very snobbish. The word on the street is that, for the girls especially, clothing labels are a big deal. If you have known me more than a week then you know that labels are not my thing. My parents didn't buy me name brand clothing with their money and I certainly wasn't going to be using MY money just to "fit in". I remember my dad bringing up the point that it was like paying for the privilege of advertising for a company. He didn't wear clothes with a logo unless it was free. Come to think of it, if you had looked in my father's closet 25 years ago you might have thought that P&G made shirts, hats, and luggage.
As I have been clothes shopping with Nix lately I have realized that without effort I have passed this on to Nix. We were talking about likes and dislikes and one of her big dislikes is clothing with company names written across them. I hope that she holds on to her personal taste and style over the next three years. It might not make her popular, but it will make her a stronger woman.
Although I am not even a little tempted to go buy her designer jeans, I am really tempted to buy her a few shares of Aeropostale so that every time a girl disses her for not wearing that brand she can laugh and thank them for funding her college education.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sunday Go To Meetin'

Each year Rocky is asked to play for a Friday night camp night meeting. This is a southern tradition that I managed to miss as a child. It is really fun. There is old gospel music sung, a short sermon preached, and people enjoying themselves thoroughly. It is a special time. Until this Sunday I did not realize that there are churches that operate every Sunday as if it were a camp meeting. It is funny how one experience can be fun in one setting and down right exhausting in another. A person in the crowd speaking up can be uplifting and energizing during camp and quickly distracting and bothersome on Sunday morning. A preacher full of emotion on occasion is refreshing. One that goes from crying to a full out giggle fit is kind of concerning.
Don't get me wrong. I don't for one minute question the sincerity of the people in the church we visited this week. They were friendly and I could tell they really cared for one another. Once the pastor calmed down he had a good message with a good point. Almost ironically, part of the sermon was about stepping out of your comfort zone to serve God. By the time service was over I knew two things, 1 there were a couple of things that would keep this from being our home and 2 I was still glad we went.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Vacation Books

I use to wonder about people who took books on vacation. It seemed odd to me, probably because in the past, reading has been a chore to me. It'd be like packing up dirty laundry to wash while you were at the beach. Or bringing a vacuum with you to the mountains. Crazy. This week I accidentally read a book on vacation and really enjoyed it. How does one accidentally read a book? Well, while we are in Jackson there is only so much we can find fun to do, and so fun quickly becomes relative (no pun intended). We spend some time going to restaurants and store we don't have at home. Since I live pretty close to Atlanta, the southern mecca of shopping, this is not easy. Oddly enough, one thing I do not have near me is a Kmart. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I kind of like walking around through Kmart one or twice a year. Plus, if I buy something there I can be assured that no one back home has one or has any idea where I bought it. (I know I'm weird, just accept it and move on) While there, I walked passed a display for the Percy Jackson movie and they had a paperback copy of the book really cheap. I'd been thinking about reading it anyway, so I went ahead and got it. Fast forward a couple of days and I'm done with it and still managed to fit in regular vacation stuff.
The book itself was pretty good, and I can hand it off to Nix after she finishes the book she is reading. She got into her Uncle Matt's Hardy Boy stash, and she is reading Christy with my mom. If one vacation book is crazy, then what do I make of my child who has 3? I'm just happy she loves to read, and that unlimited reading time is vacation to her.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Visiting We Will Go

There are a few benefits to visiting a different church each week. There is meeting new people, hearing different styles of preaching, and seeing how God is working in that place. There are also a couple of less righteous high points such as being able to wear the same thing every week with no one but your own family to notice. JD also pointed out this morning that we can park in the visitor parking spaces.
We started our tour of churches this morning and have already learned a very important lesson. Preachers take vacations in the summer. Oddly enough we actually changed the church we planned on going to today because we knew the regular pastor wasn't speaking and yet we ended up with a fill in guy anyway. The people were welcoming, the music was toe taping southern gospel, and the substitute speaker was...well meaning. More than one person apologetically told us the pastor would be back next week. At one point I was sure the man was about to pass out, but he pulled through. He was brief and I am pretty sure he set a record for the number of if times a person can say "God bless your soul" in a 20 minute period. There was actually something oddly fun about it. The overall experience was pleasant and encouraging to us.
Don't ask me where we went because I won't tell you. I will tell you that we might go back to hear the pastor speak, but not next week because we already have another one picked out.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

JD's Animal Kingdom

For some reason I have yet to figure out JD has been insisting that one of his favorite stuffed puppies, Brownie, wants to sleep in my room. It was kind of cute at first, but after a few nights I decided it was time to kick the tiny dog out. I told him that Brownie missed his friends and needed to go back to his room. He got that certain JD smile and I knew my bed was about to be filled with puppies. I told him in no uncertain terms that Brownie's friends could not come downstairs. I went to the bathroom and came back to find that JD had enlisted his sister to bring a mass of dogs into the room. In Nix's defense she had not heard my decree, but I knew JD had. When I confronted him he calmly explained that these were not Brownie's friends they were his family.
It would seem that some stuffed animal puppy love has been going on right under my nose. JD's dog Max and Nix's pink poodle Sophia have been married and given birth to Brownie and Floppy. This is not the only happy family we have in the toy box. Many of JD's boy animals have gone courting in Nix's room. I am not sure which of the kids started the matchmaking service for stuffies, but it is pretty funny. I am very flattered to report that all the mommy and daddy animals seem to get along very well and it is only the siblings of opposite genders that ever seem to fight. Apparently the girls are too bossy and the boys are annoying. No psychology degree needed to figure that one out.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

We're All Going to Die!

Since I have had a little more time at home during the day lately, I have had a chance to scroll through the channel guide to see some of what daytime television has to offer. Mainly what I have learned is that the are at least 12 different things that are probably in my house or part of my lifestyle that are killing me. I have never taken the time to watch Dr. Oz or The Doctors, because the plot summaries alone are depressing. The last promo I saw for Dr. Oz said that everyone in his audience had cancer and everyone watching would have it too (or something to that effect). I took that to mean that watching his show gives you cancer, so I didn't watch. Truthfully I didn't watch because, for reasons I can not explain, he gives me the creeps, but I digress. My point is that there is a lot of health talk going on out there and I wonder if it is making us more health conscious or creating a society of hypochondriacs.
Just this week I have been having an very annoying twitch in the muscle below my eye. It is from eye strain and stress. I probably need to go back to using eye drops. Just for fun I looked it up online and found out that I may have tourettes, epilepsy, or fibromyalgia. It reminded me of that scene in Kindergarten Cop when he says he has a headache and the little kids says, "Maybe its a tumor". Did this kid grow up and start WebMD? It is sadly another illustration of how the internet should be making us all better informed and educated, but instead it is turning us all into crazy people. If you are having a health problem, go to your doctor and not the internet. They can actually treat you. If you have questions, ask them. It is one of the things you pay them for.
Okay, rant over.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

And the Winner is...



We have a new trumpet player in the family! Believe it or not Rocky did not try to influence her in this direction. I talked her into trying a sax just to get a feel for a reed instrument and she really didn't like it even though she did really well right from the start. I think the band director was leaning towards french horn for her, but was perfectly fine with her selection of trumpet. The only thing we tweaked a bit was to go with a cornet instead of a full sized trumpet. Rocky and the director both felt that it would fit Nix better at this stage and would be easier to learn in the beginning. Although I do suspect that Rocky's want of a cornet for himself had a little to do with it. It does make it easier that we have a built in private tutor, extra horns, and all the extras just laying around the house. I guess as of today I am a band mom. Wow!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hey! Wait a Minute

I'm not much of a true conspiracy theorist. Oh sure, I like to come up with outlandish reasons why some things happen now and then, but it is really just to exercise my creative juices. It's not like I sit around debating who shot JFK or if Elvis is dead (totally not by the way;). Today I heard more than one person mention that to spite filling out a census form and mailing it in on time they received a visit from a census taker. My mind digressed from there to wondering if it is a crime to mess with a census worker, then to how many different letters they sent me, to the Post Office, and then on the price of stamps (not my most random train, but still a fun ride). I realized that ever since the big announcement that the USPO was totally broke, I have received three times as many letters from the government as usual, if not more. Take for example my tax return. I got one letter saying I had filed, one saying I was due a refund, one saying they were going to send me a check because they decided not to automatic deposit it, the actual check, and then finally a letter telling me they had mailed the check. I think they spent more in postage than my refund was actually for. This Spring I got a letter saying the census was coming, the form, and 2 letters telling me I already had it and reminding me to send it in. What is bugging me here is that if they can manage to get me a letter saying something is coming then why can't they have also just sent the actual item?
I can think of no area in life where this is normal behavior, nor can I remember it happening before. My only conclusion is that the government is spending a googol worth of money (that is 10 to the 100th power, and JD's new favorite number) to keep the post office running and to create pointless jobs for people with no skills. This also means that my tax refund could have been a lot bigger if it weren't for all of this wasted time, paper, and postage. Wouldn't be a better use of our time to try and figure out why the post office isn't making money even though the price of stamps keeps going up?
I would also like to suggest that if they had put an optional essay question on the census form asking people how they felt about the way the federal government was spending their hard earned money, then they wouldn't have had nearly the problems getting people to mail them back . I might just have to add that to my form on my own next decade.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Long Time No See

I feel like it has been forever since I have sat down to write anything. I can not believe I have abandoned my blog for so long. I guess the lack of dramatic before and afters and my laptop taking a dirt nap stifled my creative juices. I am in the middle of redoing Nix's room and have been in the middle of it for about a month. We got everything out and rearranged, but trying to get everything back in has been a lot like repacking a suitcase after a weeks vacation at the beach. You know it all went in there before, but there is no way to get it all back in. Add to that the age factor. I once heard a person say that a one's attention span is the same in minutes as they are years old. This explains why I can not get Nix to work on her room for more than 11 minutes and also maybe why my father has been able to take up wood carving.
On the topic of cleaning, we are still doing pretty good. It isn't the spotless glory it first was, but it is still a lot better than before. As an added bonus I have learned that I can get it from not bad to spotless in a lot less time. After I had been sick and the house had been allowed to slide for a good week, I timed my clean up. It only took 9 minutes to do the den and that includes vacuuming! In one hour I can have the house completely guest ready. That fact alone makes all of this work worth it.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

JD's Room

After what seems like a very long break, I finally have a new room to show you. JD's room is done. It was interesting. He is a fairly neat kid so there wasn't a lot of mess, but there was a lot of outgrown toys, books, and clothes. Let me start with a shot I took of all the books leaving the room, and his book case now.



Then the closet. My mom was a huge help with this one. I took out clothes while she folded them and put them in a box. Once upon a time I had a pipe dream of the kids taking their dirty clothes to the laundry room every night. I gave that up. And now that I have removed the clubhouse the children had been setting up in there, he has plenty of room.


Here is the big before and after.




Several of his pieces of furniture are anchored to the walk. A product of his climbing days. Because of this I couldn't really rearrange the room. JD agreed to remove a lot of toys because he doesn't really play in his room, and that seems to have opened up the space.
I have one more picture to share. To help freshen up the puppy collection (all stuffed, I promise), I put them in a space bag and sucked all the air out of them. At first JD was worried, but once he saw them all smushed and vacuumed he started laughing and wanted me to do it again. They do smell a lot fresher. I just had to take a picture of them.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Motivation

I am trying to get motivated to clean a room upstairs, but it is just not happening. I think one of the reasons is that the children's rooms are up there and I'm not real excited about the potential for protests when I start pitching stuff. The other room I have to do is our everything room. It is an office/music/craft/storage/sewing room that sometimes doubles as a extra guestroom when we get the air mattress out. It is also the smallest bedroom in the house so you can imagine the cramped mess that awaits me. Maybe I'll start on JD's room. He actually keeps his room neat most of the time. Except for the rare occasion when he, as he puts it, swings around doing his monkey business.

In the mean time, for those family members who have not joined the Facebook cult, here is a picture of Rocky's very first (and hopefully last) wreck.

Today I am thankful that he is not hurt and for the flexibility of Georgia pine trees when they are still small. We are still waiting on the official damage report.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Easy Peezy

For my first room upstairs I picked something really easy, the guest room. Right now Rocky has it transformed into the sick cave because he has had a nasty cold. Normally it would look much better than the before shot seen here.

(note: the red and gold faux finish and fancy window valance came with the house)
There isn't a lot to this room. There is the bed, a couple of side tables, a rather ugly blue folding table, and an equally ugly but very comfortable blue chair in the corner that is unseen in this picture. Not a lot of thought went into this room when we moved in and not a lot has changed over the years. I got to thinking that the only way to really feel like this room had been redone was to move everything around.

Tada!


The whole room is now reversed. I am loving the way it looks, but I guess I need to have some house guests to know if it is really working the way I want it to. See the pretty covered table? That is the ugly blue table covered with a quilt that was placed backside up. I added a couple of framed pictures to it to make it look like a real piece of furniture. I'd like to get another small lamp to match the one I already have to go on the other table. In the meantime I used 3 pretty candle holders I had laying around. Ideally, I would have also get a new comfy chair with a floor lamp for reading next to it, a new comforter set, and a small decorative trash can. Dave Ramsey says I can only have the trash can and not so much decorative as cheap.

Friday, February 05, 2010

After a Compromise

The coat closet is finally done. It is one of the smaller spaces I have done, but I needed the most help with it. I decided that the coat closet was indeed for coats, but that if an item could be stored against the wall and not block the path from the door to the coats then it could stay. To help me determine what this applied to I rolled out my rarely used yoga mat. If it didn't touch the mat, it could stay. I have a small storage box where instruction manuals can live, one folding table and it's chairs and two t.v. trays. On one side I installed a 6 peg coat rack (Lowes $10- thank you Ginny!). It holds hats, scarves, and an old shoe bag that no holds gloves and winter hats. It is similar to an idea I found in the book as well as the blog of the author ( From Messed to Blessed). I just did it with what I already had around the house.

I need to follow up on a couple of undone tasks and then the inside of my downstairs will be finished. I have to clean the inside of my microwave, shred one more stack of papers, and empty my tiny box before I can call it really done. I also decided that hanging the coats on the chairs was working but also the only thing that still looked a little messy. Thanks to my friend Michelle I found a really pretty hanging coat rack at Hobby Lobby on sale for $7. It is going to be hung next to the door to the garage.
I really can not believe it has been a full month since my first project. I've had house guests, a party, sick kids, and a sick husband, and the crazy thing is the house is still clean! I could go make pictures of every area right now and aside from the slightly scary looking unshaven man laying on the couch and the unmade bed, it is perfect.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Valentine's Day

I am taking a brief moment away from cleaning to explain why I am not a fan of Valentine's Day. Did you know that not only is Valentine the patron saint of love, but also of the plague? I'm not making this up. I googled it.
Not one time in my entire school age years did I ever have a boyfriend on Valentine's Day. When you add in all the people getting countless deliveries to school (a practice I am firmly against) with general teenage angst you get a special kind of depression that tends to color one's outlook. My senior year in high school was especially bad because we had a really bad ice storm and my family ended up having to take in a relative that was a chain smoking, foul, and generally nasty person. No one in the house even realized it was the 14th until a couple of days later when we got to go back to work and school and the relative had left.
I can not go into too much detail about some of the worst ones I have had because they fall under my 10 year rule. I refuse to hold on to any anger, bad feelings, or resentment past 10 years. I try not to at all, but 10 years was sort of my "it is silly to still carry this around" point.
The highlights from those years would be Rocky standing me up for the better part of our first Valentine's (completely unintentional), the year he forgot and dug a deeper hole trying to make it better, and the picnic year- freezing cold, chased by geese, and getting lost to name a few of the things that went wrong. It hasn't all been on him though. I've had some serious stomach troubles go on that killed the day. JD had strep for a month and the doctor kept trying to tell me it was a stomach bug. After throwing up his lunch yet again they finally called to tell me the long culture came back positive and called in a prescription that he turned out to be allergic to. That was the second worst one because my kid was so sick. The all time worst for us was the year I was pregnant with JD and had been put on bed rest because of food poisoning. I was hurting, afraid that my baby was going to be born too early, my mother was there helping out but my father couldn't come so they were apart. We really spread the misery around that year.
Last year we went to help Rocky's parents move. To be totally clear, I did not mind that even a little. I was happy we could help them. Goodness knows they have helped us enough over the years. The only mistake we made was in trying to go out to eat that night any way. Rocky's mom set us up with dinner reservations and they watched the kids for us, which was really thoughtful. Sadly, after a long day of moving we were both so exhausted that I could not even guess at what we ate that night or if it was good. We couldn't even keep a conversation going, and if you know Rocky and me then you know that talking is never a problem for us.
This year we are skipping it. We'll get the kids a little something and maybe a card, but that is it. No presents, no flowers, and most of all no plans. Our anniversary is only a month away. I'd much rather spend the time and money on a day with real meaning and happy memories.
On a side note, I am also displeased with how having reservations that night just means you have reserved the right to wait on a table and how flowers that usually cost $15 suddenly cost $150. Getting flowers is my favorite thing, but paying Valentine prices for them sucks all the joy out of it. How are these things romantic?

Monday, February 01, 2010

Just Before

Today I am home from work with two slightly sick kids. They both have colds. They are both almost well, but not well enough to go to school. I thought this would make for the perfect day to finish my last area that I planned on cleaning before moving this job upstairs, and that is the coat closet. However, before I have even started I am at a loss for what to do. Although it is a coat closet it is located under my stairs and is fairly deep. The rack for hanging coats is at the back leaving all this floor space to store things, but if you do store things there you can not get to where your coats are and as such, they never get put away. I know that this is going to either be a coat closet or a storage closet, but it can no longer be both. My question is, which one should it be? Either way I am faced with finding new and creative places to put whatever is left out.


Take a look at the before


It actually hasn't been that long since this closet was cleaned out. In fact, I think my mother cleared it out last year while she was here helping me as I recovered from surgery. I know the kids have coats in there they have outgrown and there is really no telling what is in that box back there. I'm going to start by taking literally everything out of the closet. Maybe then I will have a clearer picture of what can go back in.
I'm open to ideas and suggestions here. Should a coat closet be just for coats, or do we need to start keeping them in our own closets and let the vacuum and folding tables live in here? Maybe there is a happy middle I have not yet considered. What do you think?

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Desk

The last area that I really wanted to finish before the weekend was the desk in my kitchen. It would complete all of the visible areas in the downstairs. This desk is the catch all spot to end all catch alls. Not only does the top get cluttered, but it also has 6 full drawers that quickly became junk drawers. No one needs 6 junk drawers! You can never find anything. This area usually gets cleaned about twice a year and involves me shoving everything on the desk top into a box to sort later, which of course never happens. The cabinets above the desk usually hold seasonal dishes and my medicine chest type things. I made the bold decision to repurpose this whole area. The medicine could stay, but the rest of the desk area will now be for school and homework supplies only. I managed to find space for everything that needed a new home and the whole job was rather painless.
For this one I had the forethought to leave the doors open.

Before


After



Now each of us has a file folder for mail and papers (super cheap from Ikea). The shredder sits under the desk so I can shred junk mail as it comes in instead of letting it pile up, and for the first time since we have lived here, I can fit a real chair at the desk and expect it to stay long term. This is a great homework spot because I can keep an eye on the worker, but they can not see the t.v.
I tossed a good amount of expired drugs and even a bottle of baby vitamins - my youngest is 5 now. I like to buy over the counter stuff generic which can make it hard to tell what it what. I took out a sharpie and wrote the brand names on there as well as expiration dates. The mystery is now gone.



This one comes with an extra picture because opposite the desk is our "new" coming and going area. The china cabinet use to be here. Now I have two chairs that we hang coats on, a basket for gloves and hats, reusable shopping bags, and a table for purses and bibles. We also made room for shoes, school bags, and anything I need to remember to take with me in the mornings. It makes getting out of the house a lot faster and certainly looks better than having everything piled in the floor.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Island of Despair

Having an island in a kitchen seems like such a wonderful idea. My kitchen is laid out perfectly for it's island. It manages to increase the work and cabinet space without being in the way. Sadly, that is where the good points end. Our island is a constant landing place for anything and everything. Check out the before picture.

Most of the stuff on there isn't even kitchen related. There are so many things to pick on here that it is hard to know where to start. I have 2 rolls of paper towels out but neither of them are on the paper towel holder. There is part of a loaf of bread that should have been thrown out last week, but wasn't because somehow the new loaf got placed on top of it. I think my favorite is the shampoo bottle mixed in among the dirty glasses. This is one that truly makes me hang my head in shame.

Well, not any more!
The real work in this room actually went on behind the closed doors. I wish I had shots with the cabinet doors open. I took the time to really think through the work I do in my kitchen and laid it out accordingly. I also scaled down on things. I have a whole big box full of extras and stuff I don't use. I've put it in the garage for a few months to make sure I really don't need 3 cheese grater (still don't know how or why I had 3), 12 dish towels, or any of the mystery lids.
My table cloth experiment in the dining room has paid off big time so I decided to try it on the bar as well. I used a table runner that I had found on clearance at Walmart, got another one of those gold chargers I had hanging around and that is now the place we keep fresh fruit like apples and bananas. It looks pretty, reminds people not to put stuff there, is easy to remove if I need the work space, and as an added bonus, we are eating more fresh fruit.
It has been a few days and it still looks great. People have even started putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher so as to not mess it up. Having family over this weekend is going to be the real test. If it is still even remotely clean on Monday I will be thrilled and amazed.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

JD's Good Job

I sent JD upstairs this morning to pick up all of his dirty clothes. When he came down he said he had a surprise for me and that I needed to bring my camera. With a 5 year old you really never know what the word "surprise" means. This time it was a good surprise. He had picked up all his clothes and made his bed all by himself without being told. Since I have been making pictures for the rooms I clean he thought I needed to make a picture of his bed. Then he sweetly suggested that I could post it on my blog so everyone could see his good job. I quite agree. So, here is JD and his awesomely made up bed.