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 is....green.

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 Blogger.com 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.