Friday, October 23, 2009

The P.P.P. Has Taken Over my Life!

And I feel bad because I haven't updated you all on my progress but I'll explain and hopefully you'll get it when I done.

My last update was at the end of September and since then I have jumped into the deep end of the ocean. When we last talked I was venturing into the 600 pages of Mr. Dumas' The Count of Montecristo which once again did not dissapoint me. This has to be on my list of favorite books of all time because it's so much more than a tale of revenge. Revenge, justice, despair, insanity, love, devotion, and culture. I ate it whole. But it's a bit of a dark tale too so I thought I would follow it up with a nice lighthearted read.

I had read about Traveling with Pomegranates on The Housewife Diaries when she was giving a copy away and I thought it would be a fascinating read. A mother daughter team traveling through Greece and France together on a journey to reestablish their relationship in the later years of life. What I failed to grasp when I fell in love with the concept was the deeper side of the book. The mother is venturing through menopause and a spiritual journey. The daughter is coming to grips with depression and finding her "necessary fire" - that one thing that she must do with her life to become whole. Again I devoured the book but I was left in a place that kept me from my keyboard. What was going to come out of my fingers the next time I sat down? The confused rumblings of my brain or something that was better left on the pages of a personal journal rather than an open letter to the web?

My choices could have been better when creating my book lineup because no sooner had the brain pool settled than I jumped into The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. Yes, dark waters indeed in this pool that I have been swimming in.
On a side note, as I was getting ready to read I scanned the back cover of the Ya Ya's and found I was just goofing off when I asked for my Ya Ya name through the generator but my jaw fell open when it came back as Duchess Shedding her Fears. Now do you understand why I say The P.P.P. has taken over my life?

Most people have seen the movie by now I'm sure, but the book takes the time to go places that weren't allowed in the movie. The greater reach into Vivi's brain; the deeper impact on Sidda's relationships; the real love between the Ya Ya's. I saw parts of myself again in The Divine Secrets and wished that my own Ya Ya's were closer to me.

And now I sit at my desk and stare at A Tale of Two Cities. I'm almost afraid to open it because even though it's about the French Revolution and Paris and London and a pair of lovers, what's to say I won't find myself again? I have to tell you that I'm 15 pages in and finding the rythm and getting familiar with the book language that it is written in has taken some serious work.

So the grand tally: I have read 8 books which leaves 42 more in 45 weeks. I am definitely on track but the real challenge will be keeping it up during the holiday season which for us has already started. October always kicks it off with a parade of birthdays, pumpkin patching, Halloween and then right into November with more birthday and my all time favorite - Thanksgiving.

Thank you to my fans who have been checking up on me. I'm still here even if I am a bit worse for the wear mentally. Happy reading gang!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The P.P.P!

And don't blame me! Ya'll voted and that's the verdict! You can see it for yourself right up there on the left.

The Potty Pages won the "Name the Project" poll and so now you are stuck with The Potty Pages Project - or The P.P.P as I like to call it. Which by the way also works for the children because usually right after our reading, they all have to cycle through the bathroom on their way to bed. But how will I differentiate? That's easy! Over here it's The P.P.P - over there the p.p.p. See how that works? The big one and the little one!

Anyway here's your most recent update. At The P.P.P (this makes me giggle - a lot!) I have finished The Lost Symbol and have moved on to Erma's Family: The Ties that Bind and Gag. How's that for some whiplash? Serious, dark, mysterious, faith crunching read followed by a completely hysterical, gut busting, LOL-ing, "where are the hidden cameras" read.

So that brings our grand total to: Julie Julia; Marley & Me; Pygmalion and two other plays; The Lost Symbol and Erma. I have 45 books left to read in 48 weeks. This is looking very reasonable. But I definitely need a trip to B&N. The Count of Montecristo is up next and it's a bit of a cheat because I've read it once before but it's the next classic I have on hand. Unless of course I could do Pride and Prejudice and I'm just not feeling that yet. After The Count, I don't have anymore fluff books on hand so I think I'll be headed to my little slice of literacy heaven this weekend. Anyone feel like sending gift cards?

In other random ramblings...I think I learned how to get my way on the home improvement projects. I just price out a much bigger version of whatever it is I want to do and then Hubs tells me to go do what I wanted to in the first place. Example? Sure! I wanted to paint the bathroom. Hubs said no, he wanted to redo the vanity and the lighting and the floor before we did that. If we were going to do it we needed to do it all. So yesterday I took about 2 hours of my day and priced out the whole project down to the toilet paper holder. He looked at my plan and my pricing and said, "Why can't you just paint it? If you really feel like you need to do something just paint for now!"

I win! Next up, pricing out the playroom! You may all refer to me as The Supreme Evil Genius now.

What else? Oh yeah! I know you all probably don't pay a lot of attention to my blog roll over there, but today you should. There are some absolutely wonderful thought provoking posts out there today and I am loving all of them. As in I even commented! I've been in a serious writer's block funk lately (you may have noticed) and these posts today have been provoking enough to get the old creaky wheels turning again. I'm open to reading a few more so if you think you have something I need to read, leave it in my comments and I'll try to pop over today or in the next couple of days to read. I'm not a big giveaway person so you may want to avoid sending me those unless they involve a B&N gift card or awesome book.

I think that's all the rambling for today. I'm sure I'll be back with some more thoughts later though. Like I said the wheels are a creakin'. In the meantime, how's YOUR P.P.P. going?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Answering Life's Mysteries!

I haven't taken you on a tour of the news in a while so I decided to see if there was anything worth while to share. Hooo Doggie! (And yes I DID just type that!)

Want to know why there's always a line at the ladies room and NOT at the mens room? It's because the majority of them are right handed and now the line on their side is going to get even shorter.

I had no idea. But now that there is equality in men's underpants, I know I will sleep better tonight!

Want to know why hiking is so popular in Europe? It's the scenery. Definitely the scenery - or maybe not.

Because handing the bears their food already naked relieves the flossing issues that the furry fellows have.

Want to know why it's cooler to work in Australia? Because you get to wear honest to goodness powered ties!

And The Man thought he won when he took Solitaire off the computer. Hah!

Want to know why your milk tastes different? Because it's chilled! Or at least coming from a chilling cow.

Now if you read that article all the way through you noticed that these cows in padded pens have an issue. They now will be needing regular hoof-icures. Hate to tell you but the Happy Cows aren't in Cali anymore!
I'm going to this next year just so I can shake this dude's hand. World Beard and Moustache Championships

Some days I wish I could make this stuff up. And then other days (like today) I look at Reuters and wonder how I can get a job. Odd news ROCKS!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Musings from the Mud.

God bless Noah's wife. That poor woman must have been just about out of her gourd when the 40 days were up. A - she had to live on a boat. B - that boat was filled to the rafters with critters of every shape and size. C - she was locked in with her family and with 3 boys I'm sure there were some fights going on.
(Our downspout beside the garage)

*Editorial note - I apologize for the quality of the pictures. I took them with the Crackberry and it was during the torrential downpour phase so they are blurred from rain and grainy from the camera.*

I'm just sayin'. We've had 10 days of steady rain and I'm about out of my gourd; 4 times that?! She should be sainted. Here at Zoo Suburbia we managed to avoid any severe impact from the disaster that is Georgia right now. We had a little water in our garage where the footer drains got overwhelmed but that was it. Our neighbors? About 4 inches of water in their basement. (The water that ran around the neighbor's basement)
Yes, these are the neighbors who just bought the house. We called the old neighbors and they lamented the fact but were eternally grateful that they weren't there. The neighbors two doors down? Watched as two feet of water poured into their basement. Their front yard sits right over the storm drain so they were the lowest point on our side of the street and were bound to get something.

(The water that was headed to the storm drain in front of Neighbor #2)
But while we are on the subject...My hubby is a nut job. Love him but he's a total nut job. All day yesterday I was checking in with him and he kept saying, "It's just rain!" Like I was some kind of over reacting basket case who needed to be committed. (Pass on that if you know what's good for you!!) Then he came home and was just amazed by the pictures on the news and was gushing about how the river was swollen to the bottom of the bridge and how there were trees down on side streets around our area. Did I act like he was an over reacting basket case who needed to be committed? No. I did not. But I DID give in to the temptation to say, "It's just rain!"
The wee ones are home from school today while folks try to clean up and the waters recede some. And as a result I have decided that Gilbert Godfrey will forever be banned from this house. They were chilling out watching Thumbelina and of course he does the voice of some beetle in the movie. A - that's grating enough. But then B came down. Everything they said had that shrill nasaly whine of his even if they weren't trying to. It was like some subliminal something crawled into their voice box and MADE them talk like that. I wanted to stab my ears with the potato peeler. No more Mr. Godfrey. Even typing his name makes my head throb.
And of course with everyone home, I'm all out of whack. I walked around in a circle in the kitchen this morning completely unable to even think about what I was doing much less get anything accomplished. That definitely added to the headache factor.
The sun has finally decided to let us know that it didn't burn out completely so I might try to venture to the grocery store to get some brown sugar for some caramel crunch mix. But that would involve getting out of my jammies. Hmmmm...I wonder if it's worth it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Update on The Project (and The Poll)

I know you have been waiting for it all week so let me put an end to the suspense. (Don't you love how optimistic I am that you all really care?!)

Yes, I finally finished Pygmalion (and the two penance reads) last night. The two penance reads were Major Barbara and The Doctor's Dillema (original George Bernard Shaw plays). I never realized that Mr. Shaw wrote morality plays. You know the ones that are supposed to make you question right and wrong? Well, these two plays were very fraught with questions. Major Barbara posed questions about war and business (timely wouldn't you say?) and The Doctor's Dillema came around to the power of the medical profession (also a timely read). At least for me they did. I'm sure other people would read them and find something completely different. But that's the beauty of books, don't you think? Everyone can get something completely different from the same pages.

So now I get to move on to a fluffer. And since The Today Show has been taunting me with clues about The Lost Symbol all week and Dan Brown has been on every entertainment show for the last week and since I saw the awesome poster at B&N a few weeks ago, I think we know what book is up next. It's sitting on my end table daring me to neglect my children all day so that I can get started. But I will not! I will be steadfast and stick to my plan of reading before bed. I will. I will.

This is going to be tough!

I will say though that having a really great fluffer in the wings is good motivation for wading through the classics. And I have to say that I did actually enjoy G.B. Shaw's plays. They were rough but I enjoyed them.

And now...The Poll. We need to name The Projects. I think we have a few good titles in the hopper so it's up to you to vote on the best one. I'll be putting the poll for The Zoo Project up over there so make sure you hit that up and express your opinion there too.

So without further ado...(drum roll please)...your choices are...
Lavatory Library
The Potty Pages
Blue Water Book Challenge
The Reading Bowl
The Bathroom Bookshelf

Told you they were good! So pop up to the poll at the top of the left column and vote. I'll let you know the outcome during next weekend's update!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How to Feed Mom Guilt

I'm pregnant with Mom Guilt this evening. Ha! You thought I was announcing that I was pregnant?! You ain't from these parts are ya?

No, I'm just being over run with Mom Guilt tonight and I need to vent it.

I sit and watch my friends' children excel in literacy and extracurriculars and pretty much everything they put their little hands to. And then I look at my first month of school.

Weeks one and two: had almost daily e-mails and phone conferences with boy's teachers to deal with behavior issues.

Week three: get the letter that #1 girl needs to be referred for help with literacy because she may be demonstrating signs of dyslexia and they want to get her help as quickly as possible.

Week three: also get referral paperwork to get boy into speech therapy which we knew was coming but still...

Week four (that's this week): realize hours after the children have gone to bed that I have completely forgotten to work with #1 girl on her site words for this week and her address which she is supposed to have memorized in the next two weeks.

Parent conferences are two weeks away and I feel like a big old flop.

But then I sat on my bed and I read books with them and they hugged me super close and didn't want to stop. They crawled in their beds and we all said it together:

Good night.
I love you!
And when you wake up in the morning
I'll love you even more.

I have to keep reminding myself that I have to give to them from every area. I have to play as much as I work. I have to listen as much as I talk. And I have to get some sleep.

Mom Guilt sucks up exhaustion like a dog following behind a cookie eating toddler. She'll be fine. She may have to work harder and I'll have to be more patient; but she'll be fine. And eventually he'll meet someone who speaks his language, right?

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to morning.

It's morning and I think the boy hacked my blogger and read this post.

Two hours into school and the school murse called to ask me to come get him. He has had another potty accident and is having a melt down about cleaning himself up.

I got there and he looked up at me from red ringed teary eyes and a drippy nose and gasped out, "I missed you Mommy. Did you miss me?"

What do you do? You know that he acted inappropriately and that he needs to have some kind of punishment. You waver because you SHOULD send him back to class and not give him what he wanted in the first place. And then he melts down at the very thought and you see the exhaustion in his face. He slept a full night last night but he was just "off" this morning when you got him up.

I resigned myself to bringing him home and he is spending the day in his room in "solitary." But we had a long talk about how I DO miss him when he's at school but that just makes me that much happier to see him when he gets home. And I want him to get smart and learn all kinds of stuff so he can teach me and he can't do that from home. He needs to go to school. He cried because he could see my dissapointment which of course ripped my heart out.

And Mom Guilt gorged on the whole scenario because now I am questioning AGAIN if I sent him to school too soon. Maybe he just wasn't ready yet.

Jane, stop this crazy thing called ...... Parenting. (Bonus points if you can name that movie.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Just How Long are you Going to be In There?

If you read along with the Naming of the Project Post comments, you saw that "Lavatory Library" has some support. And I'm not against the idea per se. But I need to explain a little quirk that I have. Yes, another one! Get over it; it's my blog. I can be as quirky as I want!

I can't read in the bathroom.

And yes, I meant "can't;" not "won't."

There are several reasons. The first is pretty straight forward. I'm a mom. IF I get to use the bathroom by myself ever, I am only uninterrupted for a maximum of 45 seconds. I can squeeze out 15 minutes uninterrupted in the shower, but how am I supposed to read a book in there? Something tells me that I'm not going to even get a full paragraph read in 45 seconds.

And then you get to my real problem with reading in the bathroom. I don't like the bathroom. I don't stay in there any longer than I have to which makes the title of this blog incredibly hysterical if you really think about it. I don't do baths because I hate the bathtub. And I'm not being specific to MY bathroom or my particular bathtub. I don't like to soak. Gives me the willies just thinking about it.

I certainly don't understand the notion of reading while on the throne! What in the world are you doing that you can sit there that long?! And remind me not to come in behind you when you've been at it for a full chapter or more. Nope! Sorry. Gotta get in there; do my thing and get out.

I'm lava-phobic (I made that up. Isn't it a cool word?) to the point that I have a problem reading books to my children when they are trying to potty. Which may explain why potty training has been such an issue for our house. Mom hates the loo. I love the loo. I must be a freak. Therefore I should develop some outlandish unfounded fear of the porcelain alter and avoid it at all costs.

Geeze. There are so many ways available to a mother to scar her children now a days.

But I digress. So again, I'm not against the Lavatory Library but don't expect me to actually read "on location." Can't do it. Can't even carry a book BY the bathroom door. Makes me get a little gaggy.

Keep brainstorming people! It doesn't have to have any link to the blog if that helps at all. In the meantime I'll be wrestling with Mr. George Bernard Shaw and his plays. This is definitely doing penance for not reading the original Pygmalion.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I Can't just Keep Calling it "The Project"

I just (sniff, sniff) finished Marley & Me (honk and snots). I'll admit that even before seeing the movie, you know how the book is going to end. It doesn't make it any less emotional or gut wrenching. And I still love the story and relive my own life with a faithful dog while reading it.

So now it is on to Pygmalion. Which by the way may be my first cheat, but in my defense I didn't know I was cheating. George Bernard Shaw is definitely a classic author, right? So how was I to know that he pilfered Pygmalion from a guy named Ovid? Maybe eventually I'll get back to the "real" Pygmalion but for now I'll do penance for my cheat by reading two more of Mr. Shaw's plays right after Pygmalion (which is only 137 pages long).

In the meantime, I need some help. I can't just keep calling this "The Project." It has no flair. No ring. And now that I'm ready to launch the child friendly version, I really feel impressed to have a nice catchy name for "The Project." Hopefully one that can be tweaked to fit a family version too.

Leave me your ideas in the comments. Beg your friends for help. Pimp my post anywhere you can. I'll pick my faves and then we'll poll. Perhaps I'll even put a copy of a book from "The Project" on the line and the winning name will get a little present in the mail. Maybe Julie & Julia since it kicked the whole thing off? We'll see. Start brainstorming people because I can't work with "The Project" - it's just not going to keep me going for a year.

Friday, September 11, 2009

It Goes by Many Names

Certain people call it Blog Fart Friday. The really classy ones anyway. I think The Mom, Jen at Cheaper than Therapy calls it Friday Fragments (but what does she know about class?). I should probably call my Car Rider Crumbs since all this stuff came up while I was sitting in the car rider line reminding Munch 4,862,973 times that we can't go home until we pick up the big guys.

Anyway, what ever you call it, the concept is simple. This is the randomness that couldn't be stretched into a full post even by me - the self proclaimed Queen of Fluffy Filler.

There is something about finding a recipe online or in some obscure cookbook and having the courage to tweak it to your own signature. Almost like vandalizing a neighbor's house on Halloween (not that I would know). There's always the chance that something will go wrong or someone will drive by and catch you. But in cooking it's the chance that a spice will go sideways on you or will be one of those "strengthens as it cooks" or "dried and ground is not the same as fresh grated" spices. And the whole world suddenly knows that you were the one who messed with the standard. And they never eat at your house again.

More proof that I am NOT a good person. I will not flash my headlights to warn people of the cop who is about to catch them blatantly speeding in a school zone. Call it tough love or discipline. But for the sake of my children, their classmates, and the school bus drivers, I want their happy lead feet to get busted.

I'm thinking that a lifestyle tweaking may be in order. Writing and reading into the wee hours of the night is leading to a disastrous home and a heavy dependence on caffeine and Hershey bars. At my current investment level, I should own Pennsylvania and Brazil by Christmas but they'll be buried under unfolded laundry and dirty mugs with coffee reheat rings.

As if having Facebook and e-mail on my Crackberry wasn't bad enough. Dummy me decided that I should add Twitter Berry to my repertoire. Stupid little blinking red light.

I forgot how much I love NPR. The music makes me feel smart; the personalities have sweet mellow voices and the news is actually pretty close to neutral in its politics. It's like a soothing oasis in the middle of media gone mad.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Perhaps I've Found my Project

But don't fret Fer and Sissy. I know you love the quirky randomness of The Bowl and the Project won't impact it too terribly much.

See Sissy turned me on to Goodreads, and since I managed to work my way through Julie & Julia fairly easily I thought I might put the two together. It's important for an aspiring writer to expose themselves to different styles of writing, right? So I am going to start reading for myself more.
I know. It sounds like it should be easy. But I'm setting some rules for myself. I only get to have 2 "fluff" books before I dive into a classic. And when I say classic I mean those books that my English teachers always wanted me to read but that I couldn't force myself to wade through.

Now with Julie & Julia past me I am moving on to "fluff" #2 - Marley & Me. I expect it to be a pretty short read since I've already seen the movie. I'm one chapter into the book and is proving to be pretty easy reading. Part of me is delighted about this but the other half of me is dreading it. If Marley & Me goes too quickly I'll be staring down Pygmalion sometime next week. Why do I feel like it's not going to be My Fair Lady at all? Why do I feel like the horse race scene is going to be like wading through mud even though Audrey Hepburn carried it off like lightning? And I have a feeling there will be no Rex Harrison singing in the background.

In any case I'm sure I'm going to need your help. I only have 49 books on my "to read" list and those are almost entirely "fluff." So I need to know what your favorite classics are. I'll let all of you play by the opposite rules. If you can share 2 classics that you think I should read, I'll let you throw a fluff recommendation at me.

My goal? I'm not sure. I want to see how many books I can read by my next blogoversary. I think I can average ABOUT a book a week (depending on how long and dry they are) so that would put me at about 50 books. Anybody else up for the challenge? I might even start a second challenge over at The Zoo to help promote families reading together. But let's see if I can get this one underway first.

So here is your mission: 1) Suggest some great classics that I just HAVE to read. 2)Take the challenge!

Do you accept?!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

So Now What?!

Last week when I ventured out on my "Why" posts I was really just trying to sort out my brain and determine what my motivations really were for writing and obsessing about writing and losing sleep over writing. And I think I came to the conclusion that it is one thing that I am very passionate about.

But what do you do with a passion when you find it? Of course you exercise it but if it is to turn into anything you have to focus it, right? Which brings me to the next step in my journey. How do I want to focus my writing? Do I stick to social and political commentary and hope for an lifestyle and opinion slot in a newspaper one day down the road? Do I take a twist to the inspirational and start tailoring my bits and baubles into a devotional for the harried mother - a thought that flitted into my head randomly in the middle of church last week. Do I steer it full speed into humor and hope that there are people who get me?

This is where I envy Julie. She may have picked up her project on a whim but she had a goal in mind. She knew that when she got to the end of the cookbook she would have completed her project.

I don't have a goal. I don't have a target. I'm a little lost here and I'm not sure exactly what to do about it. So I turn to you, my 6 loyal readers (yeah! I think we added two recently!). Of the pieces I have written, which ones resonate? Which do you prefer?

Don't think that just because you weigh in on one, I'm going to turn the whole boat to your shore. I need a little more whimsy than that. I'm just wondering what works.

Oh and good news for all of you. I am almost finished with Julie and Julia so hopefully this whole soul searching phase will be over soon. I should probably warn you that Marley and Me is up next and I'm thinking that that one could go any number of ways.

A Respectful Counterpost: Reflections on High School

Kadi (aka The Innkeeper) from Womb at the Innsane just put up a post that got my wheels going. Instead of hijacking her comments and starting a great feud with anyone I thought I would attempt a respectful counter post here. I know! A respectful counterpost?! Who knew that could happen in the blogosphere!!

Kadi is reflecting on high school today and posed a lot of questions. The one that is sticking with me is the question of why administrators and teachers aren't doing more to foster character and encourage grades and the bigger picture over the popularity contests and cliques.

I was the Invisible Girl in high school. I kept my nose to the grindstone and I really couldn't have cared less if the popular people noticed me or not. When you are popular in history class because you actually prepared for the current events quiz, you really don't expect to be popular for much else. I had friends and I dated. It wasn't like I was completely invisible. But the rest wasn't important to me.

My parents made sure that I knew that my grades were what was going to get me through college. My parents made sure that they fostered civic responsibility in me and showed me that it would be as much fun for me as it was for the people I was serving. It wasn't important because my parents reminded me at home that there was life after high school.

In today's day and age, I think teachers and administrators have enough on their plates with shrinking budgets and metal detectors at the doors. I think they have enough disengaged parents who expect them to teach their children proper manners and behavior standards, that they really couldn't care less who is popular and who is a geek.

So I guess my response to Kadi's post is this. It's time for parents to be parents. The garbage in high school is going to happen. But if we as parents show our children where the true worth is and if we push them to rise above it (even if it means being an "outcast"), perhaps our children will not be the high schoolers of the adult world who have to put others down to lift themselves up. Perhaps they will be the civic servants of tomorrow who don't need people to look at them and give them ovations for them to make the world a better place.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Blogging Confessional?

I think I missed another memo. Seems to have happened a lot to me lately.

There have been several posts popping up here and there around the blogosphere in which the author exposes "the real me." We're talking about raw, deep, dark, reputation endangering secrets that they are laying out there for the world to see. And then the link to that is tweeted out for even more people to see beyond their basic readership.

Now before anyone starts fussing that I'm being ugly or a hater let me go ahead and say this. If you are comfortable enough in your own skin to put your laundry out on the line on main street, you go right ahead. If you are prepared for the onslaught of people who are going to call you a drama queen, an unfit parent, or any other number of names, knock yourself out. I don't understand it, but if you do and if you want to do it who am I to tell you that it's a bad idea? Maybe it's therapeutic. Maybe it's a way for you to feel like you are being held accountable to make some changes. Maybe you want your readers to know the real you.

But that brings me to another point. Why don't they? How exactly does one become someone different just because they are behind a computer monitor? Perhaps it's just me and my approach to life, but I am what I am. The computer monitor doesn't change me. When I tell you that I want to V8 people who don't teach their children manners, I really want to do it. When I say that I despise brussel sprouts and the foul smell they leave behind, I loathe them.

I don't feel the need to open my life up to every dark corner. I confessed my struggle with depression but that's about as far as we are going to go. If you want to get to know me, hang out and read a while. I think you can get a pretty darn good feel for who I am without knowing what color my unders are.

So if you tuned in to this post in hopes of finding out some deep, dark, lurid, gossipy secret, I'll try to dig one up for you. Let's see.....My bedroom

Whew!!! I let you into my bedroom people! That one should set Twitter afire!

I have to go with Dame Judi Dench on this one. (As Armande in Chocolat) "Is this a batisserie or a confessional?"

It's a blog. And you'll get blog - nothing more; nothing less.

"You Should be Baking!"

I have become a bit of a Facebook junkie. There - I admitted it. Moving on.

We went to a football party at a friends' home Saturday night and as has become the norm for our circle of friends, I was asked to bring my chocolate chip cookies. Now you may call me weird. You may call me a bold faced liar. You may call me any name in the book but I promise I tell the truth with my next line. Of every 6 dozen batch of chocolate chip cookies I make, I eat maybe 3 on a good round. Not 3 dozen. I eat 3.

I have been told that these are the best cookies on the planet. The same friend who we were visiting is also a tremendous fan of the chocolate covered cherries. I am a bit afraid of the Christmas party this year because I have promised Oreo truffles and I am petrified of his reaction.

Why would I be afraid that someone will enjoy my confections? Because my friend has decided that it is my calling to open a sweets shop/bakery to peddle my wares. This is a bad time of year to suggest it to me. Because once again, I can be sold.

I would love to have my own shop. I would love to be able to get up at 3 AM (properly caffeinated of course); go bake for several hours; take my "lunch" break to go see the children off to school; go back and bake a while longer and be home when they got out of school. It would be a great job for me!

Here's the problem. I am a leg work person. I do not have a business head. I do not have invest able capital and I would hate to try to manage some one and teach them how to make my confections. I have barely been able to teach my children. And there is no way I could begin to deal with allergy labels, ingredient lists, industrial equipment costs, product pricing, and any catering or special order concepts.

Put me in my kitchen and let me bake and I am a happy girl. Muddle my oven with all that other stuff and you might as well turn off the gas. I fear that taking my baking to the next level would kill it. But then again, what if it is just fear holding me back?

So when my friend looked at me and said "Every time I see you post something on Facebook, I think, 'You should be baking,' " he started the annual fall day dream. The great what if parade that makes me wonder if I couldn't pull it off.

But then I'd have to come up with a catchy name, and who has time to be that creative? I have quizzes to take and farms to tend on Facebook!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The No Impact Project (aka Amish)

This video was on the front page of Yahoo News today and it made me guffaw (that's LOL to those who don't have a English to Blogger dictionary handy).

Long story short, he and his family lived without electricity for a year. They did not buy anything new except for food and absolutel essentials and they ate a healthier lifestyle. They went Uber Crunchy in an effort to draw attention to the global warming issue.

What's so funny about that? They really just went Amish without the religious overtones.

I grew up in central Pennsylvania which has a healthy Amish population. People living without television and electricity is no new concept to me. I grew up without television. People raising their own produce and baking their own bread and pies is what reality was for me. Horse drawn buggies are normal. Stores and doctor's offices with hitching posts in front aren't weird.

So now you can understand why I got a hearty chuckle out of No Impact Man. I understand that he is trying to publicize and draw attention to a very serious matter. I'm all for it. I try daily to reduce my family's consumption too.

I just think it's hysterical that the media is fawning and drooling over something that happens all day every day in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Ohio (just to name a few Amish "hot spots").

Why? (Part 2 - The Blog Reasoning)

So by now those of you who have read Why? (Part 1) are asking yourself a different why. "Why not just write in a journal or in a word document on your computer. You're sitting there anyway. Why subject the whole world to your raving lunatic ramblings?"

I was sold.

You're familiar with that concept right? To be "sold" means that you are fed an idea and you take it so easily and eagerly that you never know you were just fleeced, taken to the cleaners and snookered all at once.

Don't get me wrong. I love the idea of a blog. I have met some really wonderful people through the blogging communities and I count them among my friends even though I have never actually met them face to face. And I love the idea that my words reach so far. Just last week I had visitors from France, Belgium, Sicily, Singapore, Poland, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Some of those people are return visitors; some found me by accident when they were searching for "pink sludge in the toilet" on Google. (I didn't ask. I honestly didn't want to know!)

But I hate the blog world some days too. I wish I had had the opportunity to get in early like Julie did with the Julie/Julia Project. Just looking at the simplicity of her blog makes me jealous. There was no nonsense about paid ads, reviews, ethics, blog trolls, who do we like this week and who can't we stand.

So why do I continue to keep the blog online? Because it IS my journal. At one point it wasn't online; it was just a word document on my computer that I picked at when inspiration struck. Someone (my sister) put a silly thought into my head that maybe, just maybe I could get published in a magazine. So I submitted an e-mail with my work attached and promptly got a "we are not taking submissions at this time" response. But there was a second line. "You may want to contact the editor of our online publication for consideration as a staff blogger."

And there was the big sell. You mean if I put this stuff together in a blog, there is a chance that I can get a writing gig that will reach the masses? I think I did a whopping 15 minutes of research before I hit up and started building The Zoo.

When I started I was simple like Julie. Then I started exploring the blogoverse and I started finding out about layouts, coding, keywords, links, traffic counters, traffic trackers. And that is when I stepped both feet into the quicksand that is blogging. I became so obsessed with those numbers and those visits and linking to the right people and having the right people linking back and making sure that I posted x number of times a day and tweeting and gaining followers.

I killed my writing. I effectively sucked the life out of it and smothered it. And that is when I took the summer off.

Now as I'm coming back into blogging, the why has come. Why? Because I want to write. I may never reach beyond the 10 visits a day and therefore may never make my way onto a "coming soon" poster in the Barnes and Noble window.

But I will write. Because it's what I am. Because it's what I do.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Clean out Your Car, Stankle Butt!

My hubby brought me a gift a few months ago. It's a darling wire bound journal that is made of all recycled materials. And it even came with an awesome pen.

Where ever did you find this? It's really cute!

Someone left it in a car. (My hubby works for a dealership.)

And you just lifted it?

It was under a seat and they didn't call back when we let them know it was there. (I've gained Oakley sunglasses this way too.)

Thank you dear! It really is sweet of you.

Fast forward to Wednesday afternoon in the carpool lane. I had a neat little thought for a blog post so I picked up my darling little journal and flipped it open. To this.
I promise this is an actual scan of the page in my journal. I spit Capri Sun all over the steering wheel and dash when I found it. And of course I immediately called my husband at work.

I'm keeping the page. It only seems right. And it makes me smile.

Gold Star Thursday - To Those who Stand Up!

Have you ever seen an injustice done to someone else? What did you do?

I personally don't think I've ever seen a true injustice done to a person. I've seen other children treat my children unfairly or rudely and I have intervened but I that's not what I'm talking about. I mean a real injustice. Someone who is accused wrongly. Someone who is treated unfairly in a public place.

I read Heather's encounter with bullies this week and I was heartbroken for her. But then I read her response. I read about her stand. And I was awestruck. I questioned whether I would have the courage or stamina to do what she did. I was impressed with her ability to take it beyond her own household and impact her whole school.

So Heather definitely gets a Gold Star today. But I want to give a Gold Star to anyone out there who has taken a stand for someone else. Remember the bus driver who got run over because he was helping people across the road? He gets this Gold Star.

So if you were awarding the Stand Up Star today, who would you give it too? Or can you keep it for yourself?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Why? (Part 1)

I took this past Sunday off and went to Barnes and Nobel (my mommy hide out) and then to a movie. While at B&N I snagged a few books for myself one of which was Julie & Julia. No, I didn't go see the movie right after.

I've been reading a little of the book every night before I go to bed and I am now three days into it and completely hooked. She is a writer (*ding), who works as a temp and undertakes a blog (*ding) in which she chronicles her attempt to cook (**ding, ding!) her way through a cookbook in one year. I love this book and I'm only 60 pages in.

Last night I was reading and she was explaining her Julie/Julia Project to her mother. Her mother's response, "Buy why, Julie?"

It stuck with me. I dreamed it. I woke up and drank it with my coffee. I scrubbed it into the porcelain of my toilet and the granite of my counters. I've been itching all day to get back to the computer so I can chew on it and break it down for my own life.

"Why, Sarah? Why are you undertaking this blogging project?" In order to answer that I have to back up to a more basic question. "Why write at all?"

Because it's what I want. I've mentioned before that Erma Bombeck is one of my heroes. I love her humor. I love Patrick McManus for the same reason and one of my favorite books of all time is Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawles. Now I add Julie Powell and her quirky, wordy adventures to my list and I discover that I want to be on someones list. I want someone to see my name on a coming soon poster and be as giddy as I was when I saw Dan Brown's name on Sunday. I don't necessarily want the rabid, raving, borderline obsessives that J.K. Rowling has but the idea that my words could have that potential is what keeps me dreaming.

Why write?

Because it's in me. In my head; in my heart; in my bones and in my blood. I have always been subject to flights of imagination. I think I took three completely unnecessary courses in college simply because I would "have" to write. There is something about taking a topic or idea and twisting it on its side or finding an angle that is overlooked that intrigues me. It's an adventure with words. It's a challenge and it can sometimes stretch my brain when I am paused searching the crevices of my mind for the perfect word to capture my ideas.

Why write?

Because it is my sanity. You would never begin to know the number of drafts that go the way of the delete button simply because it is total brain junk that just had to come out. If my internet provider charged by the character we would have to take a second mortgage. It allows me to reach out anonymously to random and not so random people and add to their lives or impact them or make them think or simply entertain them.

Why tell you why I write?

Because it's what I've been thinking about. And after all this is THOUGHTS from the Toilet Bowl.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy Blogoversary, Quirky!

Woo Hoo! I made it to a year. And I still have regular readers. Not many, but they are there. And I greatly thank all four of you. You are so very sweet. Go have a Little Debbie on me.

So I guess you guys think you know me because I got a whopping (brace for it) 2 questions from last week's interview invite. That's ok. I don't find myself very interesting either. But maybe I will by the end of this post.

To the questions first:

My bloggy buddy Staci asked me "How do you stay sane? Because I think I just may be losing it!"

See people! I AM so sane. Staci says so! So stop trying to get me into that mattress room already!

Ok, so honestly? I think you have to lose it a little. I think if you don't go a little crazy, you end up with much bigger issues. I also think that I have managed to hang on to what little I have left simply by being a horrible creature of habit. I have routines that I do in my sleep some mornings/evenings. How else do you make sense of me getting up at 2 AM and making coffee and then going right back to bed? (It was darn good coffee too!) And I wonder why the boy is having some OCD issues...

And Amanda sent me this little query. "You kinda left us hanging on the new neighbor situation. How's that going?"

Funny you should ask. It's very odd being a "young married couple" (both of us are still in our 30's) with 3 children. Our old neighbors were 30's with no children and were off to the lake and football games and concerts and long cruise vacays all the time. Our new neighbors may be a smidge younger but they too are out and about every weekend. We keep trying to get together for dinner (we've managed once) but midweek is really the only time they are home and with the kids back in school, late nights midweek just don't work. So for now we see each other briefly on the weekends and will eventually get to know them. It's just going to take a while.

And since that's all the questions there were, I'm going to inflict some Facts about Me on you.

Three Things that Annoy me:
1. People who repeat themselves repeat themselves repeat themselves. I heard you the first time and chose to ignore you. If I needed to hear you again, I would have asked you to repeat yourself. ONCE. Please note - it's not limited to children who repeat themselves, repeat themselves...well you get it. It's ALL people who do it.

2. Empty things that are just left behind. If it's garbage, pitch it. If it needs to be refilled, fill it. Please do not leave it for me.

3. Perfectly capable people who ask for stupid things that they could do or get for themselves. It's a paper towel and it's 2 feet from you. I have to walk 10 YARDS to get it for you. And before you ask me to get it for you will you at least make an effort to find it/get it for yourself? I am not a member of the sporting group; I do not retrieve.

Three Things that will Tick me off:
1. Being inconsiderate of those around you. Please do not stop in the middle of the grocery aisle with your cart sitting cattywampus so that you can read the labels of 16 Progresso soup cans to see if they contain leeks. Pay attention moron before I V-8 you in front of your family and yo momma!

2. Children who's parents did not take the time to teach them manners and the parents who expect me to tolerate their 9 year old kicking my 2 year old in the head. I will turn the parent over my knee and make sure they stand at attention for a month for that one. And the child? Will become my indentured servant and when they can demonstrate that they will never make the mistake their parent made, I will release them to military school.

3. Finding out that someone not only found my secret Hershey's stash in the back of the freezer, but they disposed of it as well. This is a crime punishable by a week scrubbing the toilet with a toothbrush. Some folks in this house better hope they have practiced some serious dental hygiene.

And finally Three Things that Amuse me:
1. People watching. I hate shopping but I will go sit in the food court for a good laugh every now and then. You can see them. The mall employees who would rather hang themselves by their badge lanyards. The teenie bopper girls who suddenly start to strut when a cute guy hits their radar (usually the employees who probably want to hang themselves BECAUSE of the teenie boppers). The dads who are pushing a stroller containing a screamer and frantically scanning the food court for someone, ANYONE who might resemble their wife. And the wives who are hiding in the little cut outs in the wall that keep peeking their heads out to giggle at their hubbies.

2. Holier than thou attitudes. Nothing amuses me more than people who complain about other people but won't name names because they don't want to smear the offender. Ummm, I think you missed it. These people make my amusement list because they seem to miss the part where they are dropping right to the level of the people they are fussing about. "I don't like whiners so I'm going to stand here and whine about the whiners that I don't like." I think that's funny.

3. Life. Life amuses me because Mrs. Gump was right; you never know what you're going to get. You may think you know what the big story on the news is going to be. You may think you know how a person is going to react to something you have to tell them. You may think you have it all figured out. But then a fly shoots up your nose, causes you to sneeze into your boss's lemonade and the video that tomorrow's blind date catches from the next table ends up being a viral sensation on YouTube.

So I work my way back around to Staci's question and the answer is - Go ahead. Lose it. It will be all right.

Thank you all for hanging out with me for the past year. May the next one be as fun as this one. And may your water always be blue and always go down.

The Pain of Volunteerism

There are some days when I think being a hermit is an awesome thing. Today is one of those days.

I have a friend who agreed to be a room parent but in a very limited way because her job is incredibly stressful and when you tack on our lovely suburban nightmare traffic scenario, well, she's lucky if she can get home much less to school. When she agreed to this insanity there were three other parents also signed up. Guess who flaked?

So last evening, my wonderful, patient, overachieving, faithful to a fault friend (you know I love you!!) called me to get some help with a letter to send to the parents. I think I could taste her stress level over the phone. And she doesn't have her first RP meeting until tonite.

Bless her big ole volunteering heart!

And then you have my beloved sister. She may mock me on the phone. She may have lobbed many a joke about my physical appearance and mental well being out there into the atmosphere. But she has a lovely heart and is a very generous soul. Being such a wonderful person, she decided that she would try to volunteer at her local hospital. She had orientation this morning. Please read along with me as I share the text message exchange we had DURING her orientation.

B: Is it possible to commit suicide by paper cut?
Me: Do I even want to know?!
B: Is it considered murder if someone bores you to death?
Me: I take it the job hunt isn't going well and you don't feel like doing school work? (And then I tried to call her thinking she was at home going looney.)
B: Can't talk. I'm in the hospital orientation. ALL DAY....

3 minutes later
B: Kill me now. It would be a mercy killing.
Me: Are you going to do this to me all day? Because I can't just start giggling like this in public!
B: Probably, unless boredom does prove to be lethal after all.

2 minutes later
B: Reading my text books is like riding all the coasters at Six Flags by comparison.
Me: HOLY CRAP! (Because I know my sister loathes her finance courses and if she prefers that to orientation...?!)
B: I'm pretty sure these chairs are banned by the Geneva convention.
Me: You know I'm going to blog this right?
B: Glad I could help out with the blog fodder. At least something good will come out of suffering. All things work together...
Me: Think N could use the chairs as torture training?

30 minutes later
B: It's a conspiracy! When you are done here they end up treading you for back injuries!
Me: **I lost this line somehow. I made some comment about an elaborate marketing ploy.
B: Of course the injury could be from the chair or throwing yourself out of the chair in an attempt to end this torture.
Me: Aren't you glad you signed up for this?
B: On the upside the quality of my doodles is reaching my precollege level. By the end of the day I should be at bachelor degree doodles if not graduate level.
Me: So you'll be ready to illustrate "The Dino under the Table"?
B: Seriously. (and a note I've edited out for other reasons)
Me: Should I call N and have him send rum to the house?

That was an hour and a half ago and I haven't heard from her. I think the chair finally broke her!

So here's to all the volunteers out there. Keep doing what you're doing. I'll be in my cave playing hermit.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Well, Whaddya Know?! And other Random Ramblings

I was perusing my blogroll this morning to see who was being witty and fun and stuff and that little blue box on the right hand side caught my eye.

Next Wednesday I will have been hanging out here at The Bowl for a year. Unless I can figure out how to write 93 posts in 5 days, I won't hit my 300 goal but I guess that's what I get for taking the summer off, right?

Anyway, before you get your hopes up let me just go ahead and let you know that there isn't going to be any delightful traffic surge inducing party or contest. And I probably won't even write some hysterical, milk out the nose post.

Quite honestly, I have no clue what I'm going to do. How about a Q & A post? You can grill me and I'll come up with witty answers. I mean after all if you've stuck with me this long you deserve to pick my brain, right? Don't fuss at me if the fruit is not so good. Just go ahead and put your interview questions in the comments and I'll get back to you. Or don't. And now I'm just rambling.

Have a fabulous weekend folks! I'll be gorging on the peanut butter cookies I'm about to make and pretending I'm a duck with all this rain.

(So I was looking for an image of a calendar for this post and when I typed "Calendar" into Photobucket, I got this rabbit. How's that for random?)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gold Star Thursday - 40 Years!

I don't normally make tributes to my family here at The Bowl but this is an important one so I'm making an exception. Here's to you Mom and Dad.

August 26, 1969 my parents were married. It was a simple ceremony with a justice of the peace in Maryland but what happened next is nothing short of phenomenal in my book.

I'm a lousy daughter because I haven't ever asked a lot of questions about my parents' early married years so I don't know much more than I have lived - a situation I hope to remedy. I know my mother dropped out of college to help my father finish his BA. I know my parents lived in the mountains of North Carolina where my father worked in a fabric plant. He lost the tip of his middle finger on a velvet shaving machine.

I know my sister and I were born in North Carolina and my parents had some dear friends there that we would stop and visit every time we went to visit my grandmother in Florida. I remember many nights falling asleep to the sound of my parents playing cards with their friends and laughing and loving life.

I know that when I was very small we moved back to PA because my grandmother was very sick and needed help. We lived in a small farm house that we actually rented from some friends in the community. I remember being lifted in the front loader of a backhoe to pick cherries from a tree in the back field.

My parents purchased land from my grandfather and built a house from the foundation up and still live in that house to this day. I think I was about 4 when we moved in. My sister and I were a mile and a half from our elementary school. My parents worked in a sewing factory in our town; my mother as a seamstress and my father as a mechanic and manager of the cutting room. My sister and I worked in the evenings sweeping up the factory.

I remember many nights on the living room floor doing family devotions. Many nights at the dining room table playing Aggravation or Uno or Parcheesi. I remember folding laundry as a family and the laughter we shared when my father became confused by the ladies undergarments. He threw one into the air in frustration and the whirling ceiling fan carried it and our laughter to the rafters.

I remember long summer days in the garden hoeing weeds, picking beans, and plucking strawberries for dessert. I remember planting potatoes by the acres for the whole extended family to share. I remember picking my fair ton of those same potatoes. I remember my father working at a neighbor's farm in exchange for a freezer full of pork or beef at butchering time. I remember my mother making all manner of homemade presents and clothes. I remember canning our own vegetables, making our own spaghetti sauce, the smell of fresh jam, and the shelves upon shelves of mason jars full of supplies for a full winter.

I remember going out to the woods as a family and cutting up fallen trees for firewood for our Goliath of a furnace. I remember many a day my sister and I spent at the woodshed stacking wood as a punishment for some recent quarrel we had subjected our parents to. I remember my sister breaking her finger when she smashed it between a piece of wood and the tailgate of my fathers green truck. Speaking of broken bones, I remember taking the least graceful swan dive off our deck and breaking my own right arm.

There were pets - 4 dogs and an untold number of pigs, cats and goldfish. There were sleepovers. There were barbeque's that my parents threw for my camp counselor friends. There were birthdays and Christmases; Thanksgivings and long summers.

But above anything else in my memory is the total overall love. There was never a lack of love in our house. Not between my parents. Not from my parents to my sister and I. And not from our house to anyone else's. I don't remember my parents ever fighting. I'm sure they did. But I don't remember it. My parents always showed us that family is forever. They showed us that the best way to improve the world is to give of yourself to other people. They taught us that nothing is impossible if you are willing to work hard, be patient, and persevere.

My mother went back to college at the same time I went for the first time. She scored a 4.0 and graduated with a teaching degree which she is still using 10 years later. It was the proudest day for me to say that I finished right behind my mother's GPA. My father took a job at a local camp when I was 15 and has been the maintenance director there for 15+ years. They are not wealthy people until you start to count up their friendships and the people they have touched over the 40 years they have been married.

So my gold star today goes to my mother and father. For being role models for not just me and my sister, but for the people they come in contact with every day and for young couples learning to be married. I don't know that I could find a better example. Happy Anniversary!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gold Star Thursday!

I don't know if this is going to be a recurring theme or not - we'll have to see if people really earn a gold star. I was thinking about the great healthcare debate that has taken over the country last night and tried very hard to boil it down to its core. Here's what I came to before exhaustion finally took me away.

The healthcare system is in a hurt because A) we are unhealthy people who don't even try to take care of ourselves until we are already sick. In other words, we are lazy and selfish. We eat and do what we want to because we want to. And B) because some doctors, clinics, hospitals and insurance companies only care about the bottom line and making it as big as possible. Please don't start the "doctors have student loans and have studied long and hard" argument. I understand that and I believe that they should be compensated. I just know that there are some out there who think they are entitled to more than is actually fair.

But at the bottom of both of those reasons sits the same root. Selfishness and Greed. I'm not resolving the healthcare issue today. As most of you know my brain grabs random ideas from time to time and takes me on a tangent completely unrelated. Well, the selfishness and greed grabbed me.

Then I read through some of the headlines online this morning. This story popped out to me.

Fashion-forward Miamian helps homeless land jobs

Here is a Product Director for Johnson & Johnson - a normal every day guy by most standards - who is taking money out of his own pocket to help homeless people change their lives. For the better.

Maybe he makes more money than us. Maybe he doesn't. The point is that he saw a need and stepped out of his comfort zone to fill it. He did something for someone else. And not just his next door neighbor who needed his grass mowed. He did something for an "undesirable." Someone who was probably passed by a million times a day in Miami.

I had no idea who Frank Kelly was. And don't Google him. You'll hear about a 50 year old man who was arrested for DWI in North Carolina. This is Frank. He's a motivational speaker who puts his money where his lessons are.

Is Frank going to cure the ills of the world? No. If we act like Frank are we going to cure the ills? No. Does that mean we shouldn't try? No.

Gold Star today for Frank. Gold Star to you if you take even two minutes today to step out of your comfort zone to help someone else. You may not radically change someone's life but you may make an impression that causes them to pass it on.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Eureka! The Mother Lode!

If you follow the Zoo you may remember that my two older exhibits went back to school last week. Sweet bliss! Blessed quietness. Ahhhhhhhhh.


Lost myself for a minute.

It was very entertaining last week to watch the interactions between our local law enforcement officials and the commuters of our community. Namely how quickly the officers were racking up and how light the commuter pockets were getting.

It's back to school season folks. How could you ignore the bright yellow flashing lights that have been inactive all summer warning you that you are entering a school zone? How could you not realize that the two slight curves on either side of the school provide the perfect zone for motorcycle mounted police to set up shop?

I promise there is no poetic license here. I sat in the carpool lane both morning and afternoon all week and watched at least 2 people a day get their fan mail from our local municipality. On Monday (the first day of school), I saw four! Ready to do some math?

The initial fine for speeding in a school zone is $215. Then you add $5 for every mile over the limit you were when you were caught. Now most of the people who were caught were right around 40 mph (I'm guessing from watching their cars - could have been higher or lower). But here we go.

$215 + (5 x 15) = $290!

Now figure that I saw at least twelve people get pulled over. If they all got tickets (versus warnings)? Our local municipality made roughly $3600 last week alone!

So here's the deal people. Slow down! Tis the season for children to be on the streets, school buses to hold up traffic, and cops to make their quotas. Be smart about it and maybe you can save some change AND lives.

All else fails, perhaps you can avoid this!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Under the Weather

*If you read from my Facebook page you may want to click through to the original post to get the full effect."

I woke up this morning feeling tired but otherwise ok. I got everyone out of the house safely and in a timely manner. Then I tried to do my workout and promptly got woozy, fell over from a Downward Dog, jumped up and heaved. Go ahead and laugh. I did while I brushed my teeth. I still haven't fully recovered so my day has been spent watching the Hallmark Movie Channel.

It's a veritable fountain of infomercials just screaming to be blogged!

There is so much to highlight in this one! For starters, the idea that a personal grooming product is referred to as a weapon does not conjure painless images in my head. Then you have the funky feet that they used to shoot this. Please tell me you were as grossed out by the calloused heel as I was. Maybe this is why I've been nauseous all day. And why exactly do I want two of these things? Do I really need to do both feet at one time? Somebody still has to paint the toes right? I studied the little attachment things and I didn't see a paint sprayer in there but I might have missed it.

But there's more! (Told you I've been watching all day.)

Boy I'm glad they included those other springs to provide different levels of resistence. I'm a little dissapointed in the bonuses. A carrying bag? That's it? But my hubby and I wanted his and hers. And how much can you put on a DVD to support a Thighmaster for your neck? Can you prop it between your shoulder and your ear to get an all around workout? Who wants to bet that the special cream is really just Vaseline intensive care lotion?

But call now and I'll double your order for FREE! Oh, and let's talk about that. They don't have to tell me "But Wait!!" I'm hanging on every word from the very start just to see what my bonus is at the end. It's like watching the roulette wheel. Am I going to get a double order or are they going to take money off? Are they going to send me a carrying case, video or special promotional umbrella made out of frog fur? The tension is palpable!

I remembered now why I don't watch daytime TV. Can't stand the recycled soap stories; don't feel like watching fake court and laugh entirely too hard at the infomercials.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What's for Lunch?

I just finished reading an article in The Washington Post that has my gears going again. And since it's from The Post you can probably guess that you are about to see how political I get (when I get political).

The basic story is that the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has taken up some ad space in Union Station for posters advocating healthier school lunch choices. The problem is that they use the President's daughters to convey their message.

I won't even touch the idea that they used the President's children. They shouldn't have done it; it's a well known fact that Presidential children are off limits. Enough about that.

And of course I want healthier dining options offered in public schools. Do I think that it should be mandated that schools offer vegetarian and vegan choices? I'm not so sure. I understand that there are vegetarians and vegans and that their nutrition is just as important as everyone else's. I just don't think the public schools need to be charged with the financial obligations that will come with that.

I have never lived life as a vegetarian or vegan but I know from looking at my own grocery bill that produce (especially off season) is expensive. And that's just on a single home scale; not for a school of hundreds of children. I also know from running a child care center that keeping fresh produce in an industrial kitchen is challenging. Restaurants and grocery stores have fresh produce delivered daily. In the kitchen at the center, it was challenging just to keep apples and oranges (pretty hearty fruits) fresh for a week.

The protien options also pose a problem for me. Soy and nut products would have to be handled on completely seperate equipment from everything else. Nut allergies are rampant in public schools to the point that I can't even send a PB&J with my children because someone may accidentally touch their empty bag and go into an attack.

I appreciate that vegetarians and vegans want to be included in the spectrum. I just fear for the burden it will put on already strained public school budgets and staffs.

I previewed the school menu last year and this year during school orientation. I didn't particularly care for the options offered so I choose to buy two lunch boxes and pack my children's lunches. They get a fruit, veggie, sandwich, juice, string cheese, and a snack item. I pack a pretty darn healthy lunch (the teachers told me so) because I take the responsibility on myself. In my book, if you have a special lifestyle that you have chosen, then you should be willing to take the personal steps available to continue that. I don't think the government should mandate that other people accomodate you.

But that's just my two cents! Feel free to read the article for yourself and get back to me. But bring me a lunch when you get back, would ya?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Maybe I'm Just Bitter. Or Maybe Hollywood Stinks!

Let me begin by saying that the last movie I saw in a theater was Four Christmases with Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn and I think that was last year at Christmas. So maybe I'm out of touch. I'll be open to that idea.

Here's my beef with Hollywood. They keep inundating the market with lousy movies. Yeah I know that's all our beef but I have a point so ride it out with me. Hollywood makes lousy movie upon lousy movie. They give them three weeks to do something in the theater and then they yank them out to foist the next lousy movie on us.

Maybe the theory is "Throw enough garbage at them and something HAS to stick." Maybe Hollywood is getting a kickback from Orville Redenbacher (and yes, I had to look up how to spell his name). My problem is that it's machine gun firing movies at us to the point that I have quit even thinking about getting a sitter for the theater. I'll just wait six months for it to hit the dollar movie box at the grocery store and watch it at home.

And there's some more prime rib for you! Why in heaven's name would I want to hire a sitter for $15 an hour; pay $20 for tickets; and another $20 for gluttonous oversized concessions (that are only going to give me heartburn and add 30 minutes to my workout the next day), only to go into a dark room of texting, jabbering, giggling teenagers and simultaneously have my retinas burnt out and my ear drums ruptured? Huuuuuuuh?

Special effects are overdone to the point that watching Transformers at home on my TV gave me a migraine. Can you imagine if I had seen it in the theater? My head would have exploded. And in doing my research for this post (yes, sometimes I research) I learned that the reason the previews are so loud is so that they can be heard over any talking before the feature. But they NEVER TURN IT DOWN!!! And heaven help you if you are in a mostly empty theater.

But just in case you are a serious carnivore, let me give you one more little fillet. Movies are only in the theaters 8 to 10 weeks on average. And that's only if they are making money! Do you know that according to Reuters Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (arguably one of the best movies EVER!!) spent 12 weeks at #1?! Do you know why? I'll offer my opinion. Because it was arguably one of the best movies EVER!! I jest of course; we all know the best movie ever was Tombstone.

Now seriously A) Because it WAS a decent movie with adventure, humor, love interest, cute kid and gasp! a story line. And B) because the folks in Hollywood weren't throwing 416 more movies down the chute right behind it, beside it and on top of it.

I just pulled up the AFI's Top 100 list and of the top 25 only four were released during my lifetime - Raging Bull, Schindler's List, Star Wars (and that's a technicality), and ET. Schindler's List, the most recent, was 1993. Sixteen years ago people. Have great movies come out since then? Maybe Forrest Gump? I could have done without Titanic. Erin Brokovich would have been a lot better without all the F bombs. And I can't really think of another Earth shaker. I have liked several of the animated movies since (Over the Hedge ROCKS!! Right up there with Tombstone on my list) but it's hard to make a bad one now with Pixar and Dreamworks in the game.

So what's your point Sarah?

Dear Hollywood,

We want quality, not quantity. I want to be able to go to the theater as a family and not worry about my children going blind or leaving with ringing ears. I want to be able to take them to a truly G rated movie. And I want to be whisked away again. I want to be able to sit like Grace and Annie and Daddy Warbucks and be truly moved by a movie. I want an actor like Carey Grant or Humphrey Bogart to sweep me off my feet. I want a Katherine and Audrey Hepburn and Ingrid Bergman to demonstrate that class and strength can be still found in a woman. No more profanity to get a laugh. No more explosions that shake the walls. The African Queen. Arsenic and Old Lace. Harvey. Give me a movie that means something.

Then you can have my $20 again.

Friday, August 7, 2009

And Here are your Headlines for Today!

I love it when a headline from the Odd News catches my eye and sucks me in. It's like a mental train wreck and I can't help but stare. The real question is how do I get a job writing some of these articles? I mean this stuff is priceless and I have to think that laughing at the stupidity in this world would be one truly awesome job.

(I'm no Walter but I'll dedicate this coverage to his memory anyway - I hear he had a pretty good sense of humor.)

Here's the one that sucked me in.
Chinese bride trains eye on wedding dress record
I'm wondering how giddy this little bride is going to be when she realizes that a train that is 1.2 MILES long weighs a ton. And why in the world did they stop at 9,999 roses? Why not go for that one extra rose that put them at an even 10,000? Would it have really made that big of a difference? I love Mom's reaction "It's a waste of money." Just like a mom to look at the practicality of the issue.

Fans urged to drink whisky to ward off swine flu
I'm sorry but this made me laugh in a big way. They actually thought they needed to tell Russian soccer fans to drink? I guess maybe they had to announce the switch from vodka to whiskey. See if that had been Ireland there would have been no issue!

One dead in ear-cleaning salon attack
This one just freaked me out. First of all there are ear cleaning salons?! I am grossed out on so many levels right now. And how can a person get so attached to their "cleaner" that they feel the need to follow them home and stab them and their family?! You kill a person because of stubborn ear wax? That's a whole new line of defense!

Underweight team told to eat at least 15 eggs a day
I get it that it's a rugby team and you want them to be big burly guys and all. But aren't you even the least bit worried that they'll have heart attacks on the field? 15 eggs a day?! That cholesterol level has to be off the charts!

Kiss warning issued for rock festival due to flu
No real commentary about this story in particular. I mean I think the name of the festival is funny - Wacken Open Air Festival but that's not what got me. No, open this link and look at the picture that goes with it. Do you see the two senior citizens in the windsuits in the very front of the crowd? They're there for Napalm Death - I'm sure of it!

And now this last one. Nothing funny about it. Just sheer amazement and chin dropping.
Police find train "suicide" woman in bed
She got hit by a train. She made her way home. She went to bed. HOW?! I'm sorry but if I get hit by a train I'll be lucky if I make it back onto the platform. And she only had a broken arm?! I'm blown away.

And there's all the news that's fit to report today! From the Research Room this is T.B. Maid saying "May your water be blue and always go down!"