Join the Madness

Saturday, July 30, 2011


That's right, I just cried UNCLE.  I'm throwing in the towel, admitting temporary defeat and unplugging for the next little bit.

I've told countless people to do what they can and not to worry about the rest. Good advice, huh? That's kinda what I've been doing this year.  I post, but my commenting has been extremely limited.  I even struggle answering email.  It's pretty pathetic, actually.

The guilt is always there.

I should do more
I should try harder
I should make it a priority
I should....

But the fact is, it kinda kills me to do this blogging thing half-assed.  

So I'm going on hiatus.  
Going to try and completely unplug for a while.
Going to finish my first draft -- I'm THIS close.
Going to try and get a little more exercise than I have been.

And I'm going to miss everyone.  

It's not forever, just for now.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Lawn Care Rant

I'll probably offend what few male readers I have out there, so let me apologize in advance.  If you're one of those guys who takes lawn care so seriously it ought to be considered a sport, then by all means continue with the madness of your ways.  Oh, and if there's some sort of Mad Men Lawn Care Club, send me an application for my hubby.  Thanks.

It's been pretty hot and dry around these parts recently and I'm kinda surprised -- and irked -- when I see people watering their lawns.  This prejudice started in Vegas, actually.  But it's a whole different ballgame out there.  It is, after all, a desert and lush green lawns take a lot of pampering to sustain.  

In fact -- True Story -- (it sounds more dramatic when I capitalize it like that) one morning I notice a team of maintenance guys fussing over the sprinkler system outside the apartment.  They were out there all morning working on the dumb thing.  Apparently they couldn't get it working again because later that afternoon they were outside SPRAY PAINTING the grass green.  I swear!  After that, I started looking more carefully and a lot of places in Vegas have bits of green overspray on the sides of walls and sidewalks.  Go figure.

Where was I?  Oh, yes.  Watering your lawn.  I'm against it.  If you have to water it (like Vegas) to keep it alive, you should have gone with another landscape option.  And if you're in other parts of the country and you're just doing it because it hasn't rained lately, well stop.  It's grass, who cares if there's a little brown patch for a week?  The minute it rains it will bounce back, greener than ever.

Which leads me to the weed vs. plant vs. grass debate.  Every Spring Chemlawn calls us and tries to guilt us into using their services by telling us they've noticed *crabgrass* or (gasp) dandelions on our property.

Guess what?  I don't care.  If it's green, it stays.  And I love dandelions. They take me back to my childhood.  I've picked a gazillion of them over the years.  And now that we have a bunny, we have a perfect way to get rid of them.  Talk about the perfect *green* solution!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Even More Cody Quotes

Cody was very interested as I assembled the new rabbit cage.  He announced later:
C: The cage is also good for chinchillas
Me: Yes it is.  But we're getting a  bunny.
C: What if we had chickens?
Me: I don't think we would keep chickens in the house.
C: Why?
Me: Because they're kinda messy and they make a lot of noise.
C: *in a conspiratorial whisper out the corner of his mouth* plus, they lay eggs.


C-Man has a future as a spy...or perhaps a poet, he ran around the house the other day saying:

the golden bird tweets at night


C: *pats my belly hopefully* Baby?
Me: No I'm not having a baby.
C: Baby.
Me: Nope, I'm done having babies.
C: Baby!
C: Puppy?
Me: *laughing* No. I'm not having any puppies either


While talking about planets, Cody says:
C: But Pluto is gone
Me: That’s right. Pluto isn’t a planet anymore.  It’s a… (*try to remember what it got demoted to)
C: a dog.


When Cody says something funny/amazing, I’ve been texting it straight to blogger and then I compile his quotes into one post like this.  Unfortunately my text got cut off so all we have is this snippet (if you’re like me, you’ll be dying to know where he went with this).  Coders sometimes has issues with (ahem) being a boy.  I don’t know how we got into this conversation or where he went from here:

Me: What if it falls off?
C: Then you’d be a girl.  Then with S-U-R-G-E-R-Y and remodeling…

????(wanna finish the thought for him?)


Cody is a sponge for knowledge.  Unfortunately for him, the rest of us are not.  He recently asked me to write down Australia's movie rating system on his MagnaDoodle.  When I told him I didn't know what Australia's rating system was he got very upset and said:

C: We are soooo throwing this thing away!


An original song:

You gotta brush brush brush your teeth
to keep them nice 'n white
merrily merrily merrily merrily
then you find your shoes


Cody's been watching a lot of music on cable TV.  The Black Eyed Peas come on and are singing:

"I want to rock right now"

Only Cody sings "I want a box of no"  ...but he's spot on for the beat and inflection!


Cody had been playing on the computer.  Out of nowhere, he runs across the room, throws himself into my arms with a big bear hug and says

"You are my world"

I love that boy.


 Cody loves order.  He spent an hour at the mall once, reading the directory sign.  One night I came home from work to find signs all over the house with directions on how to get to other rooms.  I went to the bathroom and this was taped to the floor:

We went to the store this weekend, and Coders talked non-stop and found a dozen different ways to bug his sister.  It's really hard to chastise him since a couple years ago he didn't talk at ALL.  Instead, we try to distract him. Sister says, "Cody, let's race to the car."  She had no intention of racing, it was too hot.  But Cody couldn't see the car (straight ahead 7 or 8 vehicles) so he starts yelling....

"It got JACKED!"

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mock Me Monday

I've mentioned before (though it's been awhile) that my friend and I used to call the local d.j.'s back in high school (and the year after). we befriended a few of them, which was really helpful (in the pre-iPod era) when we wanted to hear our favorite song.
Anyhow, there used to be a disc jockey who worked at the college radio station -- about the only station I could hear the likes of the Cure, Depeche Mode, or the Smiths.  I'd call him to request a song every week and would often chat in between his on-air sessions. 

One night, he made the remark that the name he used on air was not his real name.  I bet I could figure it out.  He didn't think I could.  It just so happened that I left Vegas about that time to visit my sister in Wisconsin.  I bought a series of Wisconsin postcards and sent him a postcard every couple days with another letter of his name until I'd spelled out his *real* last name. 

When I got back to town, he was a little weirded out (but more impressed) that I'd figured it out...and wanted to know how I did it.  This was before the internet and Google, remember.  But it was still laughably easy.  In one of our early conversations he'd told me he worked as the art director for a local magazine.  I picked up a copy and checked the credit page.  

Nowadays, I'm able to harness the power of Google and use my stalking detective skills for good.  But don't worry, I've not put any of you under the microscope.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


As luck would have it, we weren't able to bring Caramel home after all. She was too big for our cage, so we adopted  Patch instead.  I was all set to call Caramel Carey ... HAREy Carey.  

Nobody here laughed either.  Oh well.

Here's a pic of Patch/Bandit, all of 3 months old and SUCH a lovey. 


ANYHOW...a word to the wise...

If you should find yourself parenting a rabbit someday and decide to brush up on your rabbit care tips or look to see what cool bunny toys you can find...

Be careful.

And uhhh, don't let your kids do it unsupervised. 

There are some rather *colorful* Google results to such innocent search terms as "rabbit toy"

That's all I have to say about that.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


...the newest addition to the Rocho family.  Meet Caramel:

Isn't she the sweetest?

Friday, July 22, 2011


All this looking back I've done this week, first with the Cookie Monster invites and then with the broken crayon, made me curious.  How many of your teachers do you remember?  I can list them up through 6th grade.  After that, we had a different teacher for every class so it gets blurry.

K- Mrs. Bowers
1- Mrs. Powers
2- Mrs. Blaney
3- Ms. Wyrick
4- Ms. Gennin
5- Mrs. Johnson
6- Mrs. Landsness

I don't know if I had a blow-em-all-out-of-the-water favorite, but I liked them all in their own way. 

Mrs. Bowers was pregnant,
Mrs. Powers wanted me to skip a grade,
Mrs. Blaney -- well you know, the crayon thing.
Ms. Wyrick insisted we eat healthy and wouldn't let us have cake/cookies/candy for class parties AT ALL
Ms. Gennin had a daughter named Bambi
Mrs. Johnson was about to retire and had a great smile
Mrs. Landsness was tough, but she had a traffic light in the room she used to signal when we could get up and when we had to stay in our seats.

What teachers do you remember?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Things I'd LIke to See - Museum Edition

I should save this for my next list of "Things I'd Like to See", but it needs its own post.

I want museums around the world to offer subscriptions to famous pieces of artwork.  Here's my vision:

The host museum, would set up a high-resolution webcam on various pieces of artwork.  Then they'd broadcast the feed (for a fee) to other museums -- small ones in little towns like mine that just don't have the budget to compete with the Louvre, the Tate, or the Guggenheim.  

Ideally, I'd like my local museum to subscribe to a whole wing or exhibit to create an electronic duplicate of the original gallery. They could change museums every month or so to keep things fresh.

I think this could really boost traffic to smaller museums.  Expenses would be minimal since once you set up the cameras and projectors, all you'd have to do is tune in to a new feed.  There's no shipping or insurance to mess with and no risk of theft.  The host museum benefits by selling subscriptions. 

I know some museums have virtual tours on their websites, but I think it'd be cooler to project artworks onto a wall (in the same order/arrangement as the host museum).  You'd see them at or near actual size which you can't do online, and the resolution would be far superior to what most computer monitors can achieve.

I don't think host museums will lose any real-life visitors because of this.  If anything, they are raising awareness and people are more likely to want to visit Paris/Rome/London/NYC to see the original.

Now that I think about it, museums could sell the subscription to "regular people" too.  How much would you pay to project your favorite painting on your wall for a month? 

This TOTALLY needs to happen, don'tcha think?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pet Peeves - Over Legislation

A town nearby recently instituted a mandate for all landlords to perform criminal background checks on all applicants.

Let me start by saying if I owned an apartment or house I needed to rent out, I would do background checks on everyone.  It's good business, right?

My problem is that the city has made this a REQUIREMENT. There's a $1,000 fine for not complying.  If I own an apartment building and don't feel like doing the background check for whatever reason, that's my business and my risk.  

Obviously, they are hoping landlords will refuse to rent apartments to those with criminal records.  But isn't that discrimination? What happens to those with a record?  They've got to live somewhere, too.  

There are so many gray areas here.  What happens if you have something on your record, but it was a minor offense or it was many years ago and you've been "clean" since then, or there were extenuating circumstances or  you were wrongly accused of something?  

I'm waiting for someone to sue over this one.  It'll be very interesting.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.  Seat belt laws irritate me as do car seat regulations.  Yes, they save lives.  And I wear mine every time I get in the car.  When my kids were little we always used the infant car seat or booster seat.  Now they always wear their seat belts, too.

These are things I do because they make sense.  It angers me that the government TELLS me I have to do them.  And every time one of these things passes, we're one step closer to them taking control of other areas.  

It's now illegal to sell a used crib because it could be dangerous to infants.  I'm all for protecting our children, but is it reasonable for our government to outlaw used cribs? Seriously?  Shouldn't parents assess the risk for themselves?

I'm not political.  Really. I don't want to debate anyone or start finger pointing at one party over another.  I just want to know where this is all going to end?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I'm Sorry, Mrs. Blaney.

When I was in second grade, we did a massive art/research project.

Each student was assigned a president.  We had to do research and then design a 4x4 square that represented that president.  We then copies our designs (using special fabric crayons) onto a piece of white cotton and someone sewed them together into a presidential quilt.

I got lucky.  I was assigned Jimmy Carter...the peanut farmer.  No research required.

My luck ran out when I was coloring my peanut, though.  

First, it ended up looking like a potato because my art skills are sadly lacking now and were even worse back then.

Second of all, I broke the brown crayon.

I quickly finished my peanut, put the crayon back in the box and tried my best to look un-guilty.

My teacher discovered the crime soon enough and started asking each of us who'd used brown if we knew who'd broken it.

I lied.

I lied big and bad.  To a TEACHER. (Am I going to Hell for that?)

I'm sure she saw through me because I'm a lousy liar now and was even worse as a kid.  She pretended to believe me though.

Anyway, it's been thirty years and I doubt Mrs. Blaney is even around anymore.  And if she is, I seriously doubt she's combing the internet hoping to find an apology from a former wayward 8 year old student.

Mrs. Blaney wherever you are, I'm sorry I broke your crayon.  And I'm even sorrier I lied about it.

Monday, July 18, 2011


I'm in a rush (what else is new?) but I caught a glimpse of this and although I'm sure it's old news to you since you all are way more plugged and clued in than I am these days, I thought I'd share anyhow.



Way Overdue.

Mark your calendars!

Mock Me Monday - Party

I can't believe I haven't shared this story with you before.  And if it weren't for my daughter, I might have left it repressed in a dark corner of my mind.

You see, daughterling is about to turn 16, so she's been dropping hints about how she wants her cake decorated, composing lists of presents she'd like  (she must think she's an heiress because some of her items make me laugh.  Out. Loud.)  She'd also like a party which is fine because she's not had one for a few years. 

I know some of you out there plan parties for all the birthdays, but in the Rocho household, we do things a bit differently.  We celebrate amongst ourselves every year, but we only do the all-out party every couple years.

Guess we're stingy.

So whilst daughter was waxing poetic about her birthday plans, I had a major flashback.

I had 2 parties growing up.  One for my 5th birthday and one for my 17th.  It only took 12 years of sighs, eye-rolling, and begging to wear my mom down.  I'm not complaining though.  I've never really been one who likes being in the spotlight.  I don't care for crowds and I prefer small, intimate gatherings over monster bashes.

But anyway, I was 17 and this party was gonna make up for lost time.  It'd be COOL.

Oh, did I mention I'd just moved to Vegas?  So I wanted to prove that I wasn't just "an Iowa farm girl".  I've never lived on a farm in my life.

Mom bought invitations for me and I about died when I saw them.  In fact, I think I did die for a few seconds.  I love my mom. Apart from this momentary lapse in judgment, she was the greatest.

You see, Mom had purchased Cookie Monster invitations (you know, from Sesame Street).  Granted I loved Cookie Monster when I was FIVE, but at 17?  Not so much.

I used them anyway and most of my friends thought it was a joke, so I went with it.

All in all, it was a fun night, despite the invitation snafu.  

Tell me how your family has embarrassed you?

Friday, July 15, 2011


This post could be about finding inspiration in unexpected places


It could be an admonishment to make sure you are challenging your characters enough


It could be about zeroing in on the real story.


It could be a bit of all three.

We got a "newspaper" in the mail recently.  Just a little local thing with about 20 pages or so focusing on health care issues.  I don't usually read these things, but this time I did.

There was a full page article about a visit the author made to a local nursing home.  Essentially, she put in 4-5 pictures and explained what each one was.  Pretty generic fare until I got to #4.

Picture #4 was of an elderly man doing a jigsaw puzzle.  No big deal?  He's deaf and blind.  

Yes, blind.

And he spends his days putting jigsaw puzzles together.  Carefully testing one piece at a time.

And yet he only gets two sentences out of a page long article.  Talk about a missed opportunity for a compelling, heart-warming piece.

It's been several weeks, but I can't get the guy out of my head.  I don't remember his name or what nursing home he resides in, but I remember his infallible patience and determination.  

And now, so will you.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I'm in mourning.  

(sniffle sniffle)

Back in March I snagged a bookmark from my local library with their summer author series.  I went to several author events last year and really enjoyed them.

I saw the line up for this year and one name popped immediately.

I stuck the bookmark on my bulletin board in the office-under-the-stairs so I wouldn't forget.

But guess what?

I got the dates mixed up.  

(okay, I forgot)

I hadn't been in my office for awhile, I've been typing on the couch upstairs to keep an eye on the kidlings - a habit I got back into while Court was in France - and tonight was the first time in many weeks I've been back in my hideaway.

It's 8:30 p.m. Tuesday as I write this.  

And 2 minutes ago I discovered that Meg Cabot's talk was tonight at 7.

And I missed it.

Even my girls wanted to go with me!

And I missed it.

'scuse me while I go wallow in self-pity.

Because (wail) I missed it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Phone Etiquette

I hate calling an office where the wet blanket answers the phones.  

The one that makes you feel guilty for calling them because y'know, picking up the receiver takes soooo much effort.  

Or the ones who don't say anything but "Hello" and you sit there for 30 seconds trying to determine if you dialed the wrong number.

I've been answering phones at work for decades, so I know the rules and I go out of my way to answer each and every call in a cheerful, professional manner.

And when the voice on the other end asks politely, "How are you doing?" I say (with enthusiasm), "I'm fantastic!" Try it sometime, it takes people by surprise.

But as I was saying, I know the rules.  I know that no matter what the caller ID says, you answer every single call in the same way, because the one time you deviate from the plan is the time you'll end up with your foot in your mouth.

So it is a mystery why I didn't follow my own protocol yesterday.  My cell phone rang.  I normally answer "This is Vicki" because I find it annoying to call a cell and have to verify that I'm talking to the person I'm looking for.  You'd be surprised how often people answer other people's phones.

Anyway, for some reason I thought the caller ID said "Jeff Cell", which for your newbies would be my husband. So I pick up the phone and say, "Helllllloooo studly!"  

Which I never do.  NEVER.  

Don't ask me why I did.  

And, of course, it wasn't my husband.  The man on the other end says, "Uh, this is Chuck from (redacted business name)" 


So let my mockable moment be a lesson unto the rest of you.  Verify who is on the other end before you engage in any potentially embarrassing dialogue.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mock Me Monday - Kaboom

I don't need to tell you that writers have very vivid and active imaginations.  

Or that writers have a tendency to internalize comments and experiences for future reference.  

I'm here to tell you, though, that it can backfire on you ahem me.

I remember hearing someone talking about smelling gasoline whenever they started their car and it wasn't until like a month later when they took it in for another problem they discovered there was a leak in the fuel line and they were lucky it never started a fire....or explosion. 

Fast forward a couple years to our pain-in-the-butt truck.  Every six months, like clockwork, the danged thing has landed in the shop.  Lately we've been having trouble starting it.  It's like you just need to turn the ignition a fraction of an inch further than it actually goes.  Mechanic says he can't find anything wrong with it, but it didn't used to be that way but whatever.

So the other day, I go to the garage and I think I smell gas.  I open the garage door, but the smell doesn't dissipate.  This is where my imagination kicks into overdrive. I'm scared to try starting the engine because all I can think about is that leaky fuel line I'd heard about once and I was fairly sure the truck was gonna blow up.  

It didn't help that I'd been scarred by an apartment fire once.  Jumping off your balcony at 6 a.m. has a tendency to do that.

I sucked it up and started it...but pulled the truck out of the garage into the driveway right away so if it should become a raging inferno, the kidlings would be safe inside the house.

The truck didn't blow up.

And there was nothing wrong with the fuel line.

I smelled gas because hubbers had filled up the gas tank for the lawn mower the day before and had left it in the back of the truck.

See?  I told you that active imagination can backfire!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My Dollar Went...

I had my daughter pick a book at the book store and we slipped a dollar inside.  Someone who picks up this book will get a nice surprise:

I also hid another dollar on top of some video games at Wal Mart.  I have no more cash, so I'm done!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Little Surprises - A Challenge

More years ago than I will admit to, I bought a pair of tennis shoes that had a zipper pocket on the side.  I thought they were the coolest things ever.  Once I brought them home, I discovered a QUARTER hidden in the pocket.


Best. Shoes. Ever.

Periodically after my discovery, I would hide spare change in the pockets of pants or coats when I went to the let others have the fun of discovering a little something extra.

I haven't done that in a long time.  Even Miss Piffy has been dormant lately. Sooooo, I'd like to issue a challenge to everyone.


This weekend, I want you to *hide* a dollar in a public place for someone else to find.  Now don't go hiding it too well or no one will ever find it, and where's the fun in that?

I'd love to hear where you leave it and if you happen to witness it being found, tell me about that too.

Have a great weekend all!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


First, I found these adorable baby birds nesting in a potted geranium at work.  I've never seen baby birds first-hand before, I'm captivated.  C'mon, say it with me: awwww.

Now that we've had our cute fix, I have a very important reminder for all of you.

When's the last time you backed up your blogs?  I'd been thinking about it for awhile, but was SHOCKED to discover my last back up was July 22nd 2010! Yes, almost a whole year.  ACK

To make backing up uber easy, I'm sending you HERE. There are step by step instructions AND lots of awesome information to make blogging easier for you.

Now shoo.  

Go back up your blog before tragedy strikes.  Please?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Painting Problems

Daughterling has been itching to paint her room...again. She got that from me, I love to paint because it's such a cheap way to completely change the look of your room.  

Anyhow, I've been putting her off since we did her room last year and haven't updated any other room in the house since then.  But, when she offered to pay for the paint, AND do all the work herself, I didn't have any arguments left.

I did some coaching though.

Like removing the pictures on the wall she'd hung with that command adhesive tape stuff.  I think we used the stuff rated for 50 pounds and these were little 5 x 7 picture frames.  They were STUCK.  I suggested she take a spatula and wedge it underneath while tugging on the frame.

It worked.

Sorta.  She ran out in a panic, it had pulled the paint off AND part of the paper from the drywall.  


I did the other one without an issue.

Then I suggested she wash her walls before she primed them.  At some point her friends had written on her walls with a stick of deodorant (or something).  Off she went with a washcloth only to emerge a few minutes later to tell me the paint had come off.

I thought maybe the washcloth had gotten a little red, but got up to check it out like a good mother should.

The paint HAD come off in a perfect little circle.  I've never seen anything like it.  She wasn't using chemicals or soap or anything, just WATER on a regular ol' bathroom washcloth.

Even more puzzling, I discovered is that you could PEEL the paint off.  Ever peeled dried glue off your hand?  Or a facemask off your face?  It came off that easy!  We had a great time wetting the paint down and peeling great splotches off.  

Here's a pic daughterling took right after we made the discovery. Sorry about the one-eyed pirate look, I was trying to back out of the picture. I later peeled the entire wall floor to ceiling without it ripping.  It was the coolest thing ever....especially since she didn't have to prime!

The only problem is I don't remember what brand of paint this was, so I have no idea if we're about to repeat the problem or not.

Anyone else peeled paint off before?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mock Me Monday - Penny Pinching

I'm pretty sure we all like money. I have a particular fondness for coins.  We have a ginormous bottle we stash spare coins in and I love separating the quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies out and seeing how much we've saved.

I've been like this for as long as I can remember.  Back in high school I used to save pennies because my family hated them and would give me handfuls of them -- just glad to be rid of them.  I put them in a gallon milk jug, and it takes awhile to fill it up but it holds about $80 worth of pennies. Not bad, eh?

I didn't have much of a life back then, and I found myself doing some odd things just to pass the time. You know, like separating my M&M's to see how many there were of each color and calculating the % of each.  I was curious to see if every bag had the same ratio of colors or not.  Don't ask me what the results were...that was a long time ago.

It's kinda humiliating to admit, but since this is Mock Me Monday, embarrassing is the name of the game, isn't it?

So here's another angsty teenage confession:

I used to clean my pennies when I was really bored. I used copper cleaner designed for the bottom of Mom's Revereware pans.  I also used a combination of baking soda and vinegar. I'd use an old toothbrush and spend more time than I should have trying to polish them.

Much like the M&M's, I don't recall the results...which kinda disappoints me, to tell ya the truth.  I'm tempted to try it again to refresh my memory.  My kids might disown me if I do, though.

Friday, July 1, 2011

I Learned Something!

Isn't it funny how you have to research even the most flippant remark our characters make?

One of mine made an observation about scotch and after I typed it, I figured I'd better look it up because I'm not much of a drinker and I certainly don't know anything about scotch. 

Margaritas? Yes.  Scotch? Not so much.

I landed on THIS page (thank you Google Gods!)

I learned the age of scotch is NOT the time that passes between creation and your glass.  Ohhhh, no.  It's measured by the length of time it matured in the cask before being bottled.  So if you buy a 10 year old scotch today and put it in your pantry for 30 years, it will still be a 10 year old scotch.

Who knew?