Saturday, March 31, 2007

Road Trip...

I'm about 30 minutes away from taking a 3 hour road trip, and I'm not at all ready to go. Even though I shouldn't be taking the time to post, I didn't want to leave that last one on the top. I don't want to give the "haters" more power than they deserve.

So, I'll leave you with these thoughts:

1. Panera's French Toast bagels with hazelnut whipped cream cheese -- YUM. *

2. The Lost Villagers is my new obsession until the next Mystery Case Files comes out. I'm lame.

3. I'm very envious of my Bloggy Friends who live close by to other Bloggy Friends... they're all going out on "blates"--short for blog date. That's a metalia or -r- term, I think. Actually, I'm not sure who coined it. Ladies, who would like to take credit?

I don't know anyone who is that close to me... if you live in the midwest and want to compare how flat your state is and maybe go for a margarita or two, click on "Converse with La Grump" in my sidebar, and we'll talk!

4. I need to go spend some serious time in Google Earth before I head out on my trip. I'm driving alone on the way up (boo!), and then Daughter #1 and I are staying in a hotel before we drive back tomorrow morning. I want to make sure I have directions down to the exact exit sign off the interstate!

5. Thanks again to all of you who commented on the last post... and if you only read and didn't comment, no big deal. It's a tough subject, but I'm determined to keep supporting blogging and the freedom to do so. I don't believe there should be roadblocks to anyone who has something to say. I just hope that "something" isn't filled with hatred and violence. We have enough of that in the world... let's play NICE in here, m'kay?? Oh, you most certainly may be snarky. Snarky is funny.

6. I have been lax in developing ideas for mugs. The last post gave me an idea, so I'll be adding those Sunday when I return. I'll even have a button/label for you to add to your blog, if you want.

7. Wishing you all an absolutely fabulous weekend! The Why Files will be up tomorrow evening.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

What Is WRONG With People???

Serious post ahead. Beware.

This is why I blog anonymously. Even my professional blog, to some extent, is anonymous. My first name is on it, but that's it. The people I work with know about the professional blog, but strangers do not know my true identity.

And while I find the mean emails dooce receives unintentionally funny, I'm not sure how I would react if I ever received something like that. I know... grow a thick skin and don't take it too seriously. BUT.

I know things get blown out of proportion. I understand. I just don't have time for hate speech, hateful comments, or any of that horrible, waste-of-time garbage.

That's why my blog posts don't get too serious about any potentially emotional topic.

That's why a picture of my face will never appear on this blog.

That's why I try to teach educators that we can't just teach kids to make spreadsheets, databases, PowerPoints, etc. We need to educate our students about what it's like to live in a "flat"* world... about the ethics of technology... about the dangers of putting too much personal information out there... about responsible blogging, etc.

Much of the hatred spewed about the author, Kathy, of the linked blog was supposed to be somewhat of a spoof on another blog. If you dig deeply enough through all the links (or maybe you know of similar sites), you'll find a few blogs and sites where bloggers create "personas" and act out, through their writing, truly awful scenes. All in the name of "it's not real... just pretend." "We don't really mean what we write here... we're just doing it for entertainment/fantasy."

I'm sorry, but that's just not an excuse. And it all makes me really step back and take a look at what we accept as entertainment or fantasy. I believe in freedom of speech. I believe in the freedom to write or direct whatever you want, as long as it's not truly threatening or physically harming someone else. With that said... do some of these items of "entertainment" really serve us as human beings?

Not to pick on any one movie or genre, but I'm going to go with the bloody/gory movies that seem to keep popping up. Believe me, I LOVE a good horror movie. Not the ones where we watch someone's innards being removed in full view, but a good, suspenseful horror flick where you don't have to see the evil to know it's there. Have we gone too far in our horror fantasies that we really need to see a woman or a child violated to know that it's happened? Do we need to see someone's brains splattered all over a windshield to keep us engrossed in the movie?

Are blogs-- or even comments on a post-- that perpetuate a similar theme as those gory movies necessary?

I know that a person could defend almost anything, given the "right" justification. I KNOW.

I'm just... I don't know.... I'm... sickened. I hate that I have to work with people who think the internet is such an awful place to be, only to find that flamers, misogynists, and hate-spewers have given them another notch in the belt of reasons-we-should-keep-kids-away-from-the-web.

I've also been stalked before... it started out as emails, and then escalated into being followed around in the city where I worked. He sent me flowers. He sat in the parking lot of my office building and watched me through the windows. He called and hung up a lot. I don't want anything like that ever again.

All of this leaves me with such dismay. I cry all the time at happy things, sad things, cell phone commercials... you know. But this time, I cried for US. I'm sad to think that anything like this could suddenly happen to our little community, and then things would never be the same. It's a similar feeling as the one I had shortly after September 11. I was sad for all the families of the victims, but I felt despair when I realized the impact of those events. I don't expect things to stay the same forever... but I always hope that we're able to grow from events. Not shrink and hide and let fear rule our lives. I'm not comparing what happened to Kathy (in the linked blog) to 9/11... not even close. I remember feeling a sense of hopelessness about the future after 9/11. Kathy's experience has me feeling a little hopeless about where we are as a people.

Leaving the world in a better place than I found it is always my goal. I hope that we're able to find a way to make that happen in Bloggy Land, too. Sure, I'm still going to zing a celebrity for saying/doing something stupid. I'm going to continue to harp on adult women who insist upon dressing like teenagers. I'm even going to gripe about how stupid people piss me off. But you won't find pure, unadulterated hatred here. That's not what I'm all about. And I know it's not your bag, either.

Let's put our minds together to see what we can do about things like this... what do you say?

Not A Lemming, Not Yet A Rebel

I'm not really a non-conformist, but I'm not a bandwagon jumper either.

In fact, there are certain things that I won't do specifically because EVERYONE else is. Unfortunately, I think that isn't always a good thing. By not jumping on the bandwagon, are these things just passing me by?

The lemming look just doesn't suit me, though, so I try to stay away from all that "big, new, everyone should have THIS!" stuff.

If a book is really hyped by a lot of people... if someone's very prestigious bookclub recommends it... I might avoid it just because everyone else is reading it. Oh sure, I might read it a few years later, but I could be missing out on a really good thing, right?

It's the same thing with music, and most especially when radio stations play the songs to death. If there's a new, fresh, hot, [insert your most hip adjective here] artist that everyone wants to hear, I avoid that new artist like the plague. Exceptions shall be made when someone whose opinions I highly regard endorses the same artist. Maybe.

How about politics? Yeah, we don't talk about that stuff here. Again, partly because it's soup du jour* to do so.

I just hate TRENDY... fashion might be the one example where I won't completely dismiss a new trend. Well, that is, unless the trend happens to be extremely popular with the 10-16 year old demographic. Then it's wise for me to run, not walk, away from it.

There are a few books and movies that have been released recently, and I want nothing to do with them. Maybe when the hype dies down, I'll be all over them.

So... does this make me look like I'm behind the times... a johnny-come-lately? Or am I just sitting here, doing my own thing, movin' to my own groovin', not caring what anyone else thinks? Deep down, I probably do care a little... otherwise, why would I be posting about it??

Meh. I don't know. What do you do?

*I know. This means "soup of the day." A friend and I use this term jokingly when we talk about the flavor of the moment.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Finally, She Posts The Prom Picture Challenge

My friend, -R-, posted a challenge to fellow bloggers. The challenge, should we choose to take it, was to post our prom picture(s). I'm late to the game, but what else is new?

So, here we go:

Prom #1

This was my junior prom. The date was my boyfriend at the time... lovingly referred to by my family and close friends as the Psycho Boyfriend From Hell. I'd explain, but that's fodder for another post or two... or two hundred.

Note the lovely, purple, homemade dress that made me look about 10 sizes bigger than I actually was. Why THANK YOU! Yes. As a teenage girl, I would absolutely LOVE to have something that hides my natural waist line. Who wouldn't?!?! Mr. PBFH had to wear a white tux jacket and black pants... because that's what James Bond always wore. O-kaaaay.

See how the lovely purple, homemade dress matches my lovely, purple blockhead? Luckily, my Bride of Frankenstein hairstyle is somewhat obscured in the picture by the classy lion pride painting in the background.

Prom #2

This was my senior prom. At the time, I had recently broken up with PBFH and was hoping to have a good time with some friends. Good Friend Since the 2nd Grade asked me to the prom. I loved this guy to death... as a friend. We had such a blast at the prom!

Note the fabulous mermaid-like structure to that dress... another handmade dress. Actually, now that I think about it, most of the girls I knew wanted a handmade/homemade dress, so that they could have something original. Hmmm. Yep. I was the only mermaid dress at the prom.

And the best part of the dress... well, I had gone in for several fittings of the dress with the girl who made it. It fit like a glove. Perfectly! Yeah... like a glove that won't allow you to SIT. DOWN. Not even to get into your date's car. So, I had to shimmy it up to my hips just to get into his car. Now THAT's class, my babies!

Oh, and I blocked most of it out with my lovely, purple blockhead, but yes... I actually wore a banana clip in my hair. To the prom. I'm telling you, kids... with me, it's All-Fashion-All-The-Time!

So, yes, we had a really good time at the prom. After that, it got very awkward. Sometimes, when you're not sure how you feel about someone you've been friends with for a long time, situations become confusing. I'm not going into any details, other than it didn't end well. Pretty much my fault, and I'm not proud of that. Let's just say, I hoped that by ignoring him, our friendship could go back to the way it was before. Like that was ever going to happen. *sigh*

Well, there you have it. Midwest Prom o' The 80s. No one promised it would be pretty. ;-)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A Groggy Weekend Why Files...

These files will be pretty short today. I'm not sure I can focus all that well, and my typing skills are severely lacking.

WHY #1: Why do I hate myself? Drove to a competition yesterday where my oldest* was involved... it was about two hours away. Not a big deal, except that the competition got behind on schedule, so we didn't even get to leave there until after midnight. Gah. I'm dragging today. At least my family was kind enough to let me take a long afternoon nap. Either that, or they were scared to NOT let me take a nap. I'm pretty sure I was somewhat mean earlier today. Like possibly growing horns and flashing some glowing red eyes. You know. The usual.

WHY #2: Why have I not yet posted my prom picture? Oh, I will. I will.

WHY #3: Cannibals usually prefer going solo at meal time. Ummm... why is this news? Or the better question: why are there "new calculations" suggesting this trend? Is someone actually studying-- on a regular basis-- the habits of cannibals? Should I be worried? One of my supervisors eats alone a lot. Now that I think about it, when I forget to stop working and eat lunch (imagine that), I usually end up in the break room by myself or heading out to pick something up... by myself!! Does that mean I'M a cannibal? or that I have cannibalistic tendencies?** []

Oooh... and one more.

WHY #4: Why am I so happy about my new Google theme on my Google home page??? It's. So. Cute. It changes according to the time of day. Love it. Yeah, I guess I'm easily amused.

And that concludes this episode of the Weekend Why Files.

*I know that it's technically supposed to be my "eldest," but that just sounds too pretentious, even for me. How about I just keep calling her "Daughter #1" on the blog. Sounds easier.

** This "Why" is totally tongue-in-cheek, for those who are about to defend the study. Please. Don't.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Songs To Which I Cannot Stop Listening*

Stefanie and Poppy did this... as I started to reply to their lists, I thought I'd just steal borrow their idea for my own post. Duh.

What I noted to Stefanie is that the majority of the songs running on repeat all day long in my head are from Seussical The Musical, as that was what I attended for three straight evenings last weekend. I won't leave you stricken with the same affliction by linking or supplying any lyrics. Take my word for it... my cubicle-mates are pretty tired of hearing me hum something about Horton the Elephant.

Additionally, like Poppy, I am incapable of sticking to five songs, so here we go...

1. I am still loving Amy Winehouse's You Know I'm No Good, even though the lyrics are lame. The drums and the bass line enticed me when I first heard it, and then the bari sax really grabbed me... love it, love it, love it. I do really like her voice (very old school soul/R&B), but wish the lyrics had a bit more substance.

2. Madeline Peyroux's Dance Me To The End Of Love- I can't imagine ever getting sick of this song or her amazing voice. She is Billie Holliday-esque without sounding like a wannabe. Actually, I heart her entire CD, "Perfect World," but I think Dance Me... is the best song. This gives me hope that good, old standard styles won't disappear behind the techno, indie, alternative, hip hop... which are all good, too... I just want choices, people. Choices. That's all I ask.

3. I'm usually sick of songs I hear on the radio, so I don't listen to it much... but I do love Mat Kearney's Nothing Left To Lose. I loved the song when I first heard it, and still liked it after our local radio stations decided to play it to death. What kept me listening, though, was an interview Mat did with one local station while he was in town for a concert. Unfortunately, I couldn't go the concert, but I did think he was one really cool guy who can sing live well.

4. I should be sick of Five For Fighting's The Riddle, but I'm not. It sticks in my head, but it's not like the typical earworm. As much as I usually pass over lyrics and go straight for the quality of the music, The Riddle's lyrics hooked me immediately. Oh! and get this, I heard a middle school chorus perform this song... and I still like it. To me, that's the ultimate test. If a school chorus can sing it and not ruin the song, it's a good song, right?

5. Lily Allen's Smile- this song makes me want to walk down the sidewalk through adverse conditions and come out smiling anyway... just kidding. It really does make me smile, though. Plus, I heard it in one time in one of those stores that hypnotize market to the 15-23 year old demographic... and I was all, "Hey! I love this song! It's my jam!" Right in front of my teenage kids. It produced the desired effect: "Oh my God, mother! Stop dancing!" ;-)

6. Did you see the Divine Secrets/YaYa's movie? Even if you didn't... it has a truly outstanding soundtrack... very eclectic, which is what I love. However, I think the best song on the whole CD is Lauryn Hill's Selah. Selah is the name of her only daughter, and Hill wrote it for her. If I need something peaceful and reflective, this is the song I go for immediately. I'm listening to it right now, and it's taking me forever to finish this paragraph.

7. I adore Fastball. I have both "All The Pain Money Can Buy" and "The Harsh Light of Day." This is the first group ever where I felt I would actually listen to the entire CD from start to finish without skipping any songs... and then again with the next CD. I keep trying to pick a favorite, but I can't. I can say that I listen to at least one Fastball song every day.

8. Call me a bandwagon jumper, but I still can't get enough of Fall Out Boy's This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race. Even that goofy gym rat commercial for the cell phones hasn't ruined it for me.

9. The Shiny Teeth song, of course! Am I weird for singing this song in my head while I brush my teeth? Of course not.

10. There is a song with a girl's name as the title that was wildly popular in its day... and it's my name. I don't listen to this song by choice. No, no. That would be weird and strangely narcissistic, I think. The reason I can't stop listening to it is because, at least once a week**, some damn fool will sing it to me. LIKE I'VE NEVER HEARD THAT ONE BEFORE. Gah!!!
I don't mind it when the Farm Boy sings it to me. That's fine. He has the golden ticket to do so (it's called a marriage license). Every one else... especially those who substitute their own lyrics (yes, I'm addressing you, my dear siblings)*** can just stop it. Stop it right now.

That's my list for this time period. I like this idea, because music is such a huge part of my life... and I have constant earworms. Posting a list such as this could easily be a regular feature. Yay!

*I follow rules; yes, I do. ;-)

**I'm completely serious about this. At least once a week!!! You'd think people could be a little more original, ya know???

***They don't read the blog, but maybe they'll hear the request subliminally or something. I'm perfectly happy with them not reading the blog. In fact, I'd rather they not read it.

Calgon Is Not Helping These Days...

I'm sitting here, staring at my computer screen... if it could respond to me, it would probably say, "Why so forlorn, lady?"

Do you ever just get to the place where you're so worn down, so busy, so tired that you can't even see straight? I should be doing a million other things right now instead of posting, but I just can't even decide where to start. My eyes are brimming with tears most days due to sheer frustration, but reading your funny comments and posts are a nice escape. :-)

Between work and the rest of "life," I just feel like I'm constantly scrambling. There hasn't been one day/night in the last few weeks when we didn't have SOMETHING going on. Laundry hasn't been done. The house hasn't been vacuumed or dusted or properly picked up in ages. I feel like I'm at the center of the storm, and it's not a good place to be.

I'm pretty sure that I haven't had more than 15 minutes a day total to talk to my husband. Most nights, if we haven't had time to talk much during the day, we spend about an hour or so talking. Lately, one of us has fallen sound asleep before the other even gets to bed. Thank God for cell phones, or else we would never talk anymore.

In trying not to be a whiner, I've just taken on too much myself. My ex wants to be involved in the DECISIONS made about things the kids are doing, but he isn't involving himself in the day-to-day tasks that need to be done. I'm tired of being his secretary, tracking everything for him that pertains to the children. Guess what, buddy? Call your kids more often. Talk to them and ask them the questions. Don't ask me to keep you informed... and then complain that the kids never call you. You are the adult. Make the effort, because they're kids. Their priorities are not the same as yours or mine.

It's pretty stupid of me to try to work full-time, parent full-time, take a grad class, go to all our kids' activities, play keyboard and sing occasionally at church, act as a taxi cab for the child who doesn't drive, keep everyone's schedules straight... and what's that other thing I have to do? Oh, yeah. SLEEP. Did you notice that working out isn't in that list? I'm embarrassed to say how long it's been since I even stepped on the treadmill.

If we could afford for me to quit my job or just go half-time, I would in a heartbeat. I'd be very happy to not work until the last kid graduated from high school, but it's not realistic. Especially considering we'll be helping four kids through college.

Okay. I think I'm done now. I'm not looking for advice or anything. Just needed some whine time. Believe me, I'm fairly certain the people around me in "real life" are tired of hearing about it. The thing is... I'm not going through anything BAD. I should be happy that I'm sooooo busy, because that means things are good in our life. Our oldest daughter is graduating from high school. Our youngest is getting confirmed in our church. And even though we don't see them as often as we like, our two middle kids are involved in their school athletics and activities. That wasn't happening a couple of years ago, because of other "ex" issues I won't go into now. No one is sick. No one is without the basic needs for survival. I'm just stressed out and need to shut up and deal with it.

So, my Bloggy Friends, I guess I only wanted to bend your ear for a bit. I promise to come back this weekend as snarky as usual.

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lying to Kids is FUN!!!

Over at The Cupcake Tent, Red talked about telling kids that the things in scary movies just aren't real... even though Red herself isn't entirely convinced.

That made me think about how FUN it is to lie to kids!!

Don't you all agree? I'm a parent and a former teacher. Some of my best fun comes from the lies I've told kids over the years.* Ah... the memories!

Think about all the lies adults tell kids... lies we say are actually GOOD for our kids. I'm not going to list them all here, because I don't want some of my fellow younger bloggers to learn the truth from me. But yes, I am talking about the Great Pumpkin and the Lucky Charms leprechaun.

My personal favorite is the one we (my ex-husband and I) used to tell our daughters. We were very young parents-- I was 20 when my oldest was born. Suffice it to say, we didn't have great parenting skills back then. I'm a much better mom now than I was in my early 20s. Trust me on this one. Don't have kids until you're finished growing up yourself.

But I digress...

Discipline is hard. You have to be firm and consistent. When I was young, I had a tough time with consistency. So, my oldest daughter learned from me that she could usually argue her way out of something. Getting "pwnt" by a 5 year old is not something I'm proud to admit. But there you are.

So, the ex and I made up this fabulous trick. If we wanted her to behave, we would just tell her about Ingrid. Ingrid was a mean, old, nasty [make-believe] babysitter. She [allegedly] lived in a broken-down, ancient farmhouse -- which actually did exist and just happened to be on one of the roads we drove quite often.

ME: "Oh, I know you don't want to throw that temper tantrum! Because if you do, then I'm going to have to call Ingrid to come babysit you. She takes care of little girls who throw temper tantrums. I'll just go give her a call!"

DAUGHTER: "NO! No! I'll be good! I promise!"

It actually worked most every time. Only once did she ever doubt Ingrid's existence. When that happened, I called my sister and asked her to pretend she was Ingrid. When my daughter got on the phone and listened to that witch-like voice, she was scared for two days straight.

Yes, I know. I'm going straight to hell.

Please don't comment and tell me what a horrible parent I am. I promise you that we stopped doing that after a year or so (when we decided it was cruel, but more importantly, figured it wouldn't work forever) and it became a big joke in our family. In fact, that daughter is a senior in high school now, and we still laugh about Ingrid. I'm hoping Ingrid will make an appearance at Daughter's graduation party somehow.

*Okay, not really. I'm a good person. Really I am.

5 Reasons the Farm Boy Makes Me Laugh...

1. He complained today that he's not getting enough "air time" on the blog. Well, here you go, honey. An entire post dedicated to you. :-)

2. He won't close the shower curtain. I maintain that if you keep the shower curtain closed, mold and mildew don't build up as quickly as when you keep the shower curtain open (and all wrinkled in one spot).
The Farm Boy maintains that he cannot enter the bathroom when the shower curtain is closed because monsters might be hiding in the shower, just waiting to attack him while he brushes his teeth.

3. During my morning teeth brushing ritual, he stood behind me and looked in the mirror.

FB: "I love you even though you're short." (He's 6'4", I'm almost 5'4")
Me: "So that means it's possible that you might not love me someday due to my shortness?"
FB: "Yes. Yes it does."

4. While playfully arguing over the phone this morning, the Farm Boy realized he was losing the argument with me*. Here's how he responded to losing:

FB: "Oh yeah?"
[barely audible, very low sounding noise]
Me: "What was that?"
FB: "That was Jaws."
Me: "Are you standing next to the piano?"
FB: "Yes."
Me: "Jaws is your comeback??!?"

5. This look, which usually accompanies conversations like the one in #4 above.
It's an incredible likeness. Trust me.

*Yes, dear. You lost that argument, and I have proof.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Slightly Longer Weekend Why Files...

WHY #1
: Why didn't I get into the spirit of St. Patrick's Day yesterday?

I guess I did wear a green shirt, but attending a high school musical last night kinda cut into my plans of all-night partying. *ahem*

Stop laughing.

I can party all night if I want to!!


Who am I kidding?

I leave that all up to Julie Gong, through whom I try to live vicariously. But even vicariously, I think I'm too old. I'm sure she'll have her very interesting St. Pat's weekend recap up soon.

WHY #2: Why wasn't this on any of the product lists on the internets lately? AND... why couldn't I find even one at any of the stores this weekend? Boo.

WHY #3: Why? Why?? Why??? This guy was freed after being wrongly accused of rape-- for 18 YEARS-- and then, after he was released, he murdered someone.

WHY #4: Why was anyone surprised? Mom was called to come to school to pick up her child who was disruptive and then...

"The mother of a Cannella Elementary student was jailed Friday after throwing a
cursing fit in her son’s classroom and threatening the principal, according to
an arrest report
. " Tampa Bay Online

WHY #5: Another teacher turning her school into a pimpin' barn. What the hell is wrong with these people? And for the love of God... the boy was THIRTEEN. Gah! That just makes me shudder with disgust.

WHY #6: Why would you argue with your co-worker, a fellow kitchen employee at a steakhouse, if he is the dude holding the steak knives?

WHY #7: Why did she remove her clothes? Was she hoping to be forgiven for running down a police officer? You have to read the whole article. What a loony!

WHY #8: Why isn't this woman running for president? Her brilliance and class act will amaze you. With video goodness. If you skip all the other links, make sure you view this one.

And that concludes this edition of the Weekend Why Files.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday Food Fancying...

1. After seeing commercials for TLC's Take Home Chef with Curtis Stone, I asked my husband what he'd think if he came home from a long day of whatever it is he does for a living* and saw me standing there with Curtis Stone in our kitchen. It wouldn't be quite the same as seeing me with Emeril or Paul Prudhomme, would it? At any rate, I know that issue has me thinking twice about what I wear to the grocery store. ;-)

2. Apparently, girls who eat at Quizno's need more meat. Check out this YouTube clip of the commercial. What is UP with that girl's laugh? Puh-leeze.

3. My youngest wanted to go to Cheeseburger in Paradise today with a friend... so being the cool mom that I am, I accompanied the two 13-year-olds. Yeah, hanging out with your mom is super cool! (I bribed them to let me come with them... I offered to pay.)

Ever tried the Chocolate Nachos? They're mmmmm... for the first few bites anyway. After about two or three, I start to feel a little nauseous and ask myself what the hell was I thinking? I don't eat stuff like this very often, but hey. Every so often, I like to live dangerously. Yeah, I'm such a rebel.

*He's self-employed, which is secret code for doing whatever the hell he wants to do. Ah, just kidding. He is diligently working at becoming the Sugar Daddy he promised me he would be. You Go, Farm Boy!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

5 Things Making Me Smile...

1. Ah, good old Nebraska weather. If you don't like it, wait five minutes.

Today, we set a record high: 80 degrees F (about 27 C). 12 days ago, we had the biggest blizzard in about 30 years, and my family was stuck in our house for 2.5 days. The low temps this weekend will probably dip down below freezing again, so we're likely to experience a 60 degree temperature swing in a matter of three days. Gotta love it!

I'm not going to complain, though. Today was absolutely lovely. Everyone was smiling, driving around with windows open, and hooky alerts were flying high in schools and offices around town. I considered jumping on a driving range this evening, but I didn't have my clubs with me.

2. I am sooooooo PMSing right now. BUT, the good side is, no 5lb PMS weight. Suh-weet! Still not sure how that happened.

Or... WAIT! Does that mean that I really lost 5 more pounds, because I did actually put on the extra 5 lbs of water weight??? So I'll be 5 lbs lighter in a couple of days??? Either way, I don't care. I'm just happy.

3. I stopped at the drugstore yesterday, aka That Ideal Store in the Land of Perfect, but Not Really... and guess what? They had Buy One, Get One FREE products!!! The free stuff was Revlon, not one of my faves, but I'll take free lip gloss anyday. Well, sort of free. I still had to buy one. But what a deal! Ummm, okay, I might have purchased more than one. Told ya I was a sucker.

4. I have a day off on Friday. Yay! But I have to go to the dentist. Boo. But that means I will have shiny teeth! Yay!

Speaking of Shiny Teeth....

5. This song makes me want to jump up and down, grinning from ear to ear, and then dance all around my house. I double-dog dare you to TRY and sit still while it plays. You can purchase/download the original video from iTunes here, or you can sit back dance and enjoy this person's interpretation via YouTube:

Monday, March 12, 2007

Female Empowerment... is that flushing sound you're hearing right now...

AKA My Apologies To Alice Paul, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Eleanor Roosevelt, Gloria Steinem... You All Know Who You Are.

I feel like all their efforts are being flushed down the toilet.

When I was a young girl growing up in the 70s and 80s, Female Empowerment was all about getting equal pay for the same job, earning the rights to be respected as any man would in the same position, and to be seen as something other than a sex object. Women were bringing home the bacon, fryin' it up in the pan, but yet never never never letting their husbands forget that they were men. It was okay to look good while you did all this... but the focus was intended for a woman's brain and accomplishments... not her bra size or amazingly-cellulite-free tush.

The women I saw on TV as a little girl in the 70s-- who made an impact on who I am today:
  • Mary Tyler Moore... a single woman who used her brain, not her feminine wiles, to get a job in journalism. While Mary was considered fashionable and pretty, she was mainly a working girl, and the episodes centered around her independence in that harrowing (haha) Minneapolis burg.
  • Maude... tough, independent, strong-willed, and opinionated, Maude was no Harriet Nelson*. Her character had been married four times when the show first began. I don't think anyone would ever confuse Beatrice Arthur with a sex object. I'm just sayin.'
  • Lucy... from Here's Lucy, we met a widow with two kids who got a job to support her family. No man necessary, and of course, hilarity ensued.
  • Elaine from Taxi... a female taxi driver in New York in the late 70s? Wow. Elaine was a single mom who supported her kids by driving a cab. Sure, she was pretty, and she dated half the cast... but she was a tough chick, too. I don't recall any episode where she had to flash anyone to get things to go her way...

Really, I was probably a little young to be watching some of these shows at the time. But my point is... Mary Tyler Moore never had a dream sequence where she changed into a barely-there bikini to increase ratings during sweeps. Bea Arthur didn't get Botox or a boob job to show she still had it as an older woman playing a lead character. Lucy didn't give her boss a lap dance to advance her career. Elaine, who was definitely the one and only female sex symbol on the show, didn't resort to stripper-like behavior to get Louie to give her more calls when she needed extra money. Sometime, she actually used her brain to outwit him.

What chance do my girls, or anyone else's daughters, have now with the "gotta be sexy or I'm not worth jack" pervasive attitude? For that matter, what chance do our boys have to learn how to respect women, when the images that bombard them everyday tell them we're objects? Oh, but we're sexually empowered objects. Yeah, great. That makes me feel so much better.

Women who say they're more empowered by being overtly sexual all the time are lying to themselves and everyone around them. Don't get me wrong. I don't want girls to think they have to go all June Cleaver** and wear a pretty dress every time their man comes home from work, ensuring that dinner is on the table and the house is neat as a pin. Nor do I believe that women should avoid talking about sex or even having sex when they want, that it's a dirty subject that nice girls don't bring up. That's all bullshit, too.

What I don't buy, though, is that we, as women, can give into the "I'll let you treat me like an object, because it actually gives me all the power" philosophy espoused by so many now. Older women like Sharon Stone and Madonna are grabbing nude scenes... just because they can. They want everyone to know they've still got IT.

Girl power, my ass. I hope to God that when I'm in my 50s, people will be able to say that I've contributed to my community, that I was a loyal friend, a good mother, a positive role model for other women, and maybe even a leading force in education...

... NOT, "Oh, my goodness, Ethel! Look how perky her boobies still are at her age!"

*for younger readers, please see Ozzy and Harriet

** again for younger readers, please see Leave It To Beaver

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Weekend Why Files... Now With Even More Grumpiness

1. Why do we need a show to search for the next Pussycat Doll? Why don't we just show more Girls Gone Wild commercials* and call it even? And while we're at it...

1a. Why is Mark McGrath throwing away his career? First, the anchor job at that hard-hitting journalism jewel, Extra, and now the host of The Search for the Next Doll? Mark, are you still trying to get people to quit calling you "Sugar," or do you really want to become the next Billy Bush? 'Cause, ummm, dude... that's not aspiring to much. (sorry, Billy)

2. Why does Daylight Saving Time hate me? I'm always frustrated at having to change our clocks, and I've said it before. Now, we have to adjust even earlier that usual in the spring, because it's supposedly going to save us all kinds of money. I'll believe it when I see it. What I DO know is that my internal clock will now be all kinds of screwed up for the next two or three weeks.

3. Why is it so fashionable lately to go into rehab... seemingly more so than ever??? You'd need to grow a few more appendages to add up the number of celebrities who publicly announced their checking into Promises or some other rehab center in the last year. Here's an idea: be proactive. Don't put yourself into the situations that are eventually going to result in you needing rehab.

There are soooooo many people who have real problems and need real help. If you go "crazy" because your fans aren't paying enough attention to you, perhaps you need something more than 28 days of the best pampering your money can buy you. Perhaps you just need a big ol' smack in the head.

4. Why are these Why Files crankier than usual? (oooh, ooooh, I know! I know!)

5. Why did it take the US Post Office so long to figure out the idea of a "Forever" stamp? I remember someone in my class in 2nd grade proposing this same idea a bajillion years ago.** It would be nice to not have to purchase those little add-on stamps to accompany the out-dated stamps I buy every time the USPS decides to raise their rates... again. Isn't it averaging out to something like every other day now?

And this concludes this Weekend's Why Files... hope your weekend was just grand.

*Not that I really want that. In fact, that show depresses me more than anything else on the planet, I think. Seriously, girls. Keep your clothes on. You're just going to regret it in a few years. And you just look like drunken fools. Unlike drunken geniuses.

**Well, okay. It wasn't actually a bajillion years ago, but it seems like it.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Watch the Birdie...

FYI... The Friday Why Files is migrating to the Weekend Why Files... because I'm too lazy busy to get them done during the week.

I could not smile normally for any pictures when I was little. All my school pictures looked like I had just eaten really bad fish. For candid pictures with family, I had to smile the biggest nerdy grin I could possibly eke out from my little kid face. Note, in the diagram below, how my eyes were always squeezed shut from smiling so very hard.

Ack. I look more like Joe Cool in my artist-like-rendering of my young self than anything else. Meh. Just take my word for it. I smiled like a grinning fool in almost every picture taken with a Polaroid.

The school pictures, though... holy shiznit on a stick. They were sooooooooo bad!! My first school picture experience in Kindergarten was the one that set the tone for all future school photos. The "photographer" was a blithering idiot making little kid noises at me. What? Didn't he see how cool and mature I was? Sheesh! I wasn't 3 or anything. I was a big, serious, school girl who was 5. So, my picture came back with me attempting to smile while sporting a major look of disdain on my face.

When the prints arrived, I was so upset, but mom said we were keeping them. No vanity re-takes way back then. So, all my grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc. got the "Bad Fish Face" picture of Little Grumpy. I hated that picture so much!

From that time on, I had the equivalent of stage fright when getting my school pictures taken. My expressions varied from little twitches at the corners of my mouth to full-on-constipation-face. And my stupid parents kept BUYING THE FREAKING PICTURES. I think, if they would have turned down the picture package for even one of those years, my fears might have been alleviated enough to be normal the following year. But nooooooooooooo.

Although I eventually outgrew it all, I really didn't take a decent picture until my senior pictures in high school. My parents were so amazed that they actually had some good pictures of me with nice smiles. But I do see glimpses of that same freaked-out little girl now in adulthood. I don't like having candid shots taken of myself, especially if I'm talking. I might be somewhat photogenic when posed and smiling, but mid-sentence? I look like I'm stoned or off my nut. NOT attractive.

So, besides trying to preserve my anonymity, which will become more and more difficult if I grow this bloggy-thing*, there are a number of reasons you won't see my big round mug** on this site. That is, unless there's a lovely, purple blockhead masking it.

*I want to add more stuff, like my flickr photos, to this page, but then I would have to create a separate flickr account for this blog as compared to my real-life identity. And... then I'd have to decide which pictures go on which flickr account. Gah. Too much effort. Why is this such a difficult issue for me??? Part of it is professional, but a lot of it is that I feel so much more freedom to post when I know there's not much probability that family members will find me.

**Speaking of "mugs," I hope to have some mug designs ready for you to peruse within the next week!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Never Enough Until You've Got All The Stuff...

The Farm Boys often tells me that I am a marketing department's dream. A true delight. In fact, I know they literally salivate, just thinking about what a sucker I am.

Picture a team sitting down to compose their company's latest ad campaign, thinking, "What would get that Grumpy Frump person in the store to spend all her money?"

Well, since you asked...

  • Buy One, Get One Free
    ... that seems pretty fair. If I want or need the item, I'm going for that 100% of the time. If I don't need or want it, I'll still go for it about 50-75% of the time.
  • Buy One, Get a Second for 50%
    ... not as good as the second item for free, but still a pretty good deal. I bought six pairs of pants the other day for the price of four and half pairs. I'm still ahead in that deal, plus I desperately needed the pants.
  • Spend $X or more and receive FREE SHIPPING!
    This is the one that always gets me. I get all excited -Free Shipping? Score! W00T!! A couple of weeks ago, this was the offer at Sephora. All I wanted was some new lip gloss (trying some of whoorl's suggestions). My total was about $50. It I searched around for more items to purchase to tip me over the $75 mark Sephora had set (like THAT would be difficult). After a while, it dawned on me that I was about to spend $25 more for things I didn't really need, just to avoid a shipping fee that would be less than $10. I didn't take the offer this time. But I was this close.
  • 2-For $X, 3-For $X...
    If you make the math easy for me, I'll buy it. Items that are usually 10.99 each, but are now an amazing "2 for $20," color me SOLD. CheezIts- 3 for $5? Oh yeah. They're in the cart. This is the main reason I rarely leave Target without spending at least $100-200.
  • Spend $X, and we'll throw in a FREE [nice, but usually very inexpensive item]!
    I'm a goner for this ad strategy. Food, makeup, perfume... it doesn't matter. Vickie S usually does this to me. I need VS lotion, but I will inevitably bring home lotion, perfume, and a cute little bag. Meals delivered to my door... buy at least two, and get an extra FREE meal. You got it. I look at it as savings, but sometimes I'll spend more just to get the free stuff. Obviously, this is not resulting in any savings at all.
Email and online ordering have only compounded the problem for me. If I have to drag my butt out to the mall, I might not grab the bait every time. But if the ad comes in an email? And it only takes me 5 minutes to browse, click "Add to My Cart", and hit "Submit My Order" online? SOLD!

Does anyone else do this? The Farm Boy thinks I have a sickness.

If I only purchased items when they were on sale, I don't think it would be that big of a deal. But I buy things even when they're not involved in some special offer. So, my "sale" purchases are in addition to all the other things I just have to have.

Hello. My name is Grumpy F., and I am a compulsive shopper.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Coffee Talk with DCMM

BEYOND busy right now. Hope to be back soon... besides, my Google Reader is going to explode with the number of unread posts I have right now.

In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a topic.

"The Partridge Family was neither a partridge nor a family." Discuss.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Fever Has Broken...

We were finally able to get out of the house today. Huzzah!

Again, being trapped in a house for two days is not such a bad thing, especially if you have heat, food, cable, and internet access. But Cabin Fever was definitely a problem in the last 48 hours.

I guess it's all a matter of perspective. I was talking with my parents today about the last blizzard in which we were trapped in the house. We couldn't get out for over a week. At that time, we lived in a very small, two-bedroom home... possibly less than 1000 square feet for the whole house. My aunt and grandfather had been stranded in a car about a mile away, and they hiked through strong gusts of wind and dangerous sub-zero temperatures to get to our house. Seven people were trapped together in that house, three of them were under the age of 7. We had enough food. We had heat. We were fine.

As I kept talking about it today, I pointed out to my youngest teenage daughter that we didn't have cable TV back then, nor did we have video games, VCRs, DVDs. My sister and I listened to our stereo/record player a lot, I guess... but that was really our only entertainment outside of the TV. It was a long time ago, and I don't remember a lot about it, but I'm guessing we played a lot of board games and just waited out the storm. And the thing is... I don't remember feeling trapped. It was kind of like a party for us, because my dad didn't have to go to work, and my grandpa and aunt were there to play with us, too!

Today, our first trek out of the house was to fast food. We only had about 40 minutes to get something to eat before dropping Daughter #1 off at school for a rehearsal, so fast food would have to do (not my preference, but what can you do?). As they stepped out of the car in the fast food parking lot, Daughters #1 and #2 jumped up and down with glee, screaming and laughing, "We're FREE! We're FREE!!"

What a couple of goobers.

BUT... my happy-time was just around the corner, because we made a quick trip to Target. AND... I spent less than $100. Woot!

Life is good. :-)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Cabin Fever is Raging...

... aka My Children are The Biggest Ingrates on the Planet Today.

We're still stuck in our house, because snow plows have not made it to our sub-division. Big whoop. If we were stuck here for two weeks, we'd have plenty to eat. Granted, it might not be what we WANT to eat, but we'd have food, and we still have power. So, we're warm, we're not starving, and we even have cable, including On Demand. What is the problem!?!?

When I turned six, we had one of the worst blizzards in many years. My birthday party was cancelled, because we were snowed in. For DAYS. We started eating only what we needed to conserve food, just in case. Granted, I was only 6, but it was a pretty scary time.

This storm isn't all that scary to me, and I think my kids are simply too used to the comforts that have been provided for them. We haven't even been snowed in for even 48 hours yet, and they're whining and stomping around like little divas. I have cabin fever, too. I would love to be able to get out of the house, but we can't. I just want to scream at them to get over it! There have been some major tragedies due to this storm, even one that has touched some of our family, and they're upset because they can't go get chicken wings.

It's a day like this that makes me question my mothering skills. Have I brought them up this way? or is it just a by-product of their environment, their friends, their generation?

Everyone around us who has ventured out, even with 4-wheel drive, has become stuck in the snow. Then they have to spend the next couple of hours digging themselves out. The Farm Boy thinks he could take a snow blower out to the cul-de-sac and cut through all the drifts to free us and our neighbors. It would take HOURS. No thanks. Let's be patient and wait this thing out.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Snowed In...

Well, the good thing is: I didn't have to go to work today.

The bad thing is: I couldn't have gone to work today, even if my life depended on it.

Here are some really bad shots of the snow. It's blowing so hard outside, I can't stand up long enough to take a picture. These were shot through windows.