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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Premeditated Murder

I've been scarce in the blogosphere lately -- my apologies.  I've been trying to finish up the WIP but in true Vicki fashion, just as I near the end I have a new idea to make it better but essentially means I have to start back at square 1.

So I've got the new outline nearly done and I'll get to use a good chunk of things I've already written


I'm also going to have to kill off some of my little darlings.  

Some passages/ideas I can rescue by incorporating elsewhere, but there are several chapters I'm going to have to nix completely. 

I know this is for the best and that it will make the book better overall, I'm mourning for them. 

--sniff sniff--
But the good news is the new arrangement lends itself to a sequel MUCH better than it did before...which I can't believe I'm saying since I have kinda distorted views on sequels I shall share with you later this week.

In the meantime I hope you are well and I'll be making the rounds again soon...

I hope.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mock Me - True or False

We're going to do something a little different today.  I'm going to tell you two short scenarios and you tell me if it's true or false.  K?

#1 Snowday
My husband is one of those rare breeds who actually likes to shovel the sidewalk/driveway after it snows.  That's all well and good, but because he works nights, there are quite a few mornings where I have to go out and shovel before the kids head out to school.

One morning, I did the driveway and came into the house to wake the kids up.  My coat was damp from the snow, so I tossed it in the dryer.  After a whirlwind morning of waking, feeding, and supervising the kids, I grabbed my coat out of the dryer and headed to work...where I discovered a pair of underwear stuck to the back.  I was mortified.

#2 The Fight
I'm peace-loving by nature.  I don't like arguments or skirmishes of any sort.  The one and only fight I've ever had happened in 3rd grade.  I had a friend who was a little on the prissy side, which irritated me no end.  Why we were friends in the first place is beyond me -- we were complete opposites. 

So one day at the bus stop she was showing off something she'd written -- she had very even, loopy handwriting which I've always sort of admired since mine is much more irregular and angular.  I know now I was kind of jealous, but at the time it just pissed me off that she was showing off this page of cursive writing she'd been practicing.  I got mad and told her off.

We argued all the way home, and out of nowhere she ran at me, so I held up my lunch box -- the only thing I had to protect myself with -- and she ran into it.  (Not the brightest crayon in the box).  She told her mother I HIT her with it, though...and her mother had to come over and have a talk with my mother.

Now that I'm all grown up I can't believe I actually got into a fight over handwriting.  How lame is that?  

Okay, which one gets your vote?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Cody's Fears

Cody read my list of irrational fears yesterday, and wanted to make his own list.  So here we go as dictated by Coders (I only fixed a few things here and there for clarity.  He referred to himself in third person.

Cody's List of Scary Things
  1. High ceilings.  Cody is scared they will fall off and crumble on him like on computer games and at the movies.
  2. Turned off TVs.  Cody stays in his room when he has to go to the bathroom in the early morning, because the living room TV is off.  We have a TV downstairs, but he'll only go downstairs after school to play Wii.  He can usually turn this one on himself without getting too scared.
  3. THX. Cody really hates the THX logo/sound at the beginning of movies.  He will hide in his room (or any room without a TV) until it is completely over.
  4. Bad days at school. Cody is afraid he will get grounded forever if he has a bad day at school.
  5. Going to the store.  Cody is not only afraid of the high ceilings in most stores, but he is also afraid  of the managers -- they always seem to kick him out. (Mom says: This has never happened and I didn't realize it was something that bothered him)
  6. Thunderstorms. Cody is afraid of the sound of thunder.  He's also afraid the power will go out -- because then the TV will be off and he won't be able to use the computer or even see in the bathroom.
  7. Commercials. Cody doesn't like the State Farm commercial with the "thing" that was out to get Dwayne.  He's also NOT a fan of the Priority Mail commercial with the freaky clown doll or the  Mentos commercial with the kung fu spider.
Good job, Cody!  

Speaking of commercials, do you have one you love/hate?

Cody has requested I update his list of fears, so here we go:
1. High ceilings still freak him out
2. Turned off TVs only bother him if they are the old tube-style.
3. Cody has overcome the THX / Moo Can fear recently.
4. Bad days at school -- he's in middle school now, so he has a bigger fear of getting expelled. (he's a good kid, really....this won't happen)
5. SPIDERS (gotta agree with him on that one!)
6. Thunderstorms -- Just like the dog, he's very uncomfortable when the sky starts making noise.
7. State Farm commercials are no longer a problem, and the Priority Mail commercial is fine, but the Mentos commercial is still unwelcome.
8. Not being able to draw...he has a passion for drawing which he does mostly for his own amusement though the rest of us like to see what his imagination cooks up.  If he is unable to draw, whomever keeps him from it will face the consequences (his words)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Irrational Fears

Vicki Rocho's Thirteen Completely Irrational Fears 
  1. Outhouse style bathrooms (the seat will fall in and I'll die a horrible death)

  2. Sewers - I'll slip and fall and meet a horrible disfiguring death -- or the sewer rats will eat me while I'm unconscious from bumping my head on impact

  3. Metal grates in sidewalks -- they'll collapse and I'll fall to my death

  4. Spiders - they're watching me. They know what I've done to their kinfolk and they're plotting against me.

  5. Public fights -- I don't stand to watch because someone might pull a gun and I'll get shot

  6. Roads that curve to the left -- especially if there's any kind of drop off on the right side of the car.  Again, falling and death figure prominently

  7. Lice - It's been almost two years since we got invaded, but I STILL examine my hairline every morning.  Talk about post-traumatic stress disorder

  8. Things in my eye - Not only will I never order contacts, but I'll never go in for laser surgery.  The thought of ANYTHING touching my eyeball gives me the willies

  9. Coughing up a bug - You know how they say we swallow spiders and things in our sleep?  I'm always scared I might cough one up.  I'd need therapy afterward, and I'm not even kidding

  10. Losing my teeth - I have these horrible dreams where my teeth just sort of crumble away.  I go to the dentist regularly, so I don't know where this comes from, but at least it doesn't involve my potential demise!

  11. Stuff on my toothbrush.  I rinse it off when I'm done, and store it in a cabinet so the chances of anything gross getting on it are minimal, but I still rinse it REALLY well before I put the toothpaste on.

  12. Things in my shoes. Specifically creepy crawly things. I shake and pound them before I stick my tootsies inside.

  13. Breaking the sink.  When I lean over to spit into the sink after brushing my teeth, I'm paranoid the sink will break off like it does in the movies.  It's a wall-mounted sink and original to the house (which is older than I am) so this might not be completely irrational.

What about you? Any irrational fear you want to 'fess up to?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Delightful New Read

Once upon a time, long long ago I unwittingly unleashed spammer's hellhound at work.  In my defense, I didn't know better. This was my first job with (gasp) an internet connection and while I'd been cautioned to be careful opening suspicious messages, this message was from my BOSS.  If I didn't trust him, who the heck could I trust?

Yeah, I now know when it comes to spam and viruses you don't trust anyone. Ever.

The upside -- if there is one -- would be that I learned my lesson.   Henceforth (don't you just love that word?) I exercised great caution with all things online. 

Still do, if you wanna know the truth.

For instance, I've been seeing ads for this book in ShelfAwareness' daily newsletter.  It looked intriguing but I never (EVER) click on ads. I'm sure ShelfAwareness can be trusted, but what if I'm wrong?  What if I clicked on the one and only ad that was bad?

Nope, not gonna do it.  If something interests me, I'll do a search for the product and go directly to their main site.  

So tonight I was at the library with the kidlings and there it was -- on the new release rack.  I snagged it up and started reading while waiting for the kidlings to finish making their selections.  I have one word: DELIGHTFUL.

Curious to know what it is?


Here's the copy from the back:

What if God were a teenage boy?  In the beginning, Bob created the heavens and the earth and the beasts of the field and the creatures of the sea, and twenty-five million other species (including lots of gorgeous girls). But mostly he prefers eating junk food and leaving his dirty clothes in a heap at the side of his bed.  

Every time he falls in love, earth erupts in natural disasters. So humankind is going to be very sorry indeed he ever ran into the beautiful, completely irresistible girl called Lucy...

I'm only on chapter 5 (they're short chapters), but this is already making me smile. Meg Rosoff has a wonderful sense of humor.  Can't wait to see where this leads.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pharmaceutical Intervention...

When I was in Mexico, I had a bout of intestinal discomfort.  Luckily, we'd brought a few Imodium with us, so it wasn't nearly as ugly as it could have been.  That is until Friday, the day we were supposed to leave.  We were still feeling a little off.  Which presented a problem since we were out of Imodium.

Would you want to be confined to a plane for 4 hours and not have complete confidence in your lower digestive tract?

Didn't think so.  Neither did we.

So I wandered downstairs to the gift shop and bought some more.  THAT was an adventure.  How can you be sure you're getting what you need when the labels are in Spanish?  

As luck would have it, we didn't need it so I had a very expensive souvenir to add to my medicine cabinet.

Fast forward to yesterday. I woke up with some errrrr intestinal issues.  And as I clutched my abdomen in agony, I had an epiphany of sorts. 

Being sick sucks.

Okay, so it's not much of a breakthrough, but I did come some conclusions.

Revelation Number One: 
I'm hesitant to take my Mexican Medicine.  On the one hand, since the country is famous for having this effect on travelers, one would think their remedy would be potent and effective, right?  But then, the land is also known for causing calamities of the colon (dig my alliteration there?) so I'm torn.

Revelation Number Two: 
Going to the bathroom every 10 minutes is a pain


Revelation Number Three: 
The only thing worse than going to the bathroom every 10 minutes is NOT going.  Perhaps you're not following me.  If I'm not going it means all that gak is trapped inside. INSIDE.  

Churning, gurgling, fermenting. 

Isn't it better for the overall balance of the system to get the diseased yuck OUT?  

Let's consider: 

-You get a lot more exercise running back and forth
-You put your reflexes to the test.  Sometimes you have got to MOVE to get to the bathroom on time.
-It forces you to drink water -- let's face it, you weren't drinking enough to begin with.-It's a natural colon may not have wanted it, but natural is always better than unnatural, right?

I could probably come up with more, but I kinda gotta run...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mock Me Monday - Newest Humiliation

I can't believe I'm about to post this. Something tells me I might regret this later. 

I was playing with my movie making software and made a video of something only my children have ever witnessed (and for good reason).  

Unfortunately, I can't upload the edited version (I had captions and special effects!) so I had to use the raw footage.

So, here is my legendary fish face.  Self-humiliation taken to a whole new level:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Brown Baggin'

I've been bringing my lunch to work a lot more recently. Partly to save money and partly to maintain a vice-like grip on my caloric intake.  With a McDonald's within walking distance, one can never be too careful.

My children are a different story.  Not that they have a McD's within walking distance to them.  I was referring to their desire to bring sustenance from home.

Daughterling #1 eats only at school.
Daughterling #2 begs me to buy her lunch boxes pretty much anytime she sees one.  Only she always eats a school lunch. I won't begin to tell you how many lunch boxes I've purchased over the years because I kept giving her the benefit of the doubt.  It's not that she is embarrassed by her lunch box or anything -- I used to let her pick them out  -- she's just never interested in bringing food from home. Now, when she asks for a new lunchbox I just laugh -- which annoys her, but I think I'm well within my parental rights.

Son #1, he brings his lunch three days a week (MTF to be exact).  And it has to be a Lunchable. It has to be in his puppy lunch box, and I have to write a note inside.  If I forget the note or pack him something else, he'll turn into Chicken Little -- you know "the sky is falling!" 

Seriously, you don't mess with his routines if you can help it.

Anyhow, I commandeered Daughterling's last lunchbox since she clearly wasn't going to be using it any time soon. It's a cute pinkish thing. See: 

Well, it wasn't until today that I discovered it's a Barbie lunch box. I'm forty something years old and am using a Barbie branded lunch box. Somehow that doesn't make me feel any more youthful.

Doesn't bother me.  I'll still use it...which it might just be enough to convince Daughterling #2 to reclaim it so she can start taking it to school.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Paper Clip

So there I was, at my desk one day not too long ago, staring at a screen full of office supplies.  

We needed paper clips - the standard size - but I couldn't tell by looking at the pictures which offering suited my needs.  I found a box that said "Size 1" but it didn't offer any measurements.  Was that an inch? A half inch? Three inches?

So I did what any stumped individual does these days, I turned to Google.  

My first search turned up a bunch of office supply stores -- they weren't any help. I'm pretty sure they all have the exact same descriptions/merchandise.

So I clicked over to images hoping to find someone who had lined up the various sizes and labeled them. I know it sounds like a really lame way to spend an afternoon, but it would have been very helpful!

What I found was so much better...

Who knew a paper clip could be so complex?

I ended up ordering size 1.  We'll see if I lucked out.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Are you kidding me?

I call a lot of very big companies during the course of my day. Not all of them are created equal, either, not that it will surprise any of you.

How's this for brilliant planning on the part of Big Business?

Client wanted to discontinue paper statements in favor of getting them online.  This is a big trend nowadays, and most companies encourage clients to do this because they save so much on paper and postage.

So, I sign the client up for online access.  There was no option for electronic delivery, so I called the company.  They told me I'd have to put in an order to stop the delivery of paper statements, in order to get electronic ones so I did. I sent the login instructions to the client only to get a call ten minutes later that they can't get in. 

We reset the password, reset the User ID, but neither worked.  I called the company and had THEM reset the password and User ID.  Still didn't work.  

Guess what?  When you stop paper statements, you also automatically kick yourself out of the system so there is no way for you to actually access your electronic statements.  I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't witnessed it first hand.

I thought that was the stupidest thing I ever encountered, until this one I ran into this one TWICE:

I had to call a company to ask for their mailing address so I could mail in account paperwork. 

First, the rep asked me for my social security number.  I explained I was not the account owner, but I was preparing paperwork for him/her and could I please have their overnight (street) address to mail it in?

He told me he couldn't give it to me without the account owner on the phone.

I'm sorry, are you FREAKING kidding me? 

I know they have to protect client's data and all of that.  I understand and appreciate the need to keep personal information out of the wrong hands.  But all I was asking for was a stinking ADDRESS. The COMPANY'S address, not the client's.  Why on earth did I need the client on the phone to grant permission to Big Company A to provide me with an ADDRESS which should be a matter of public record?

Now that I've run into this twice, I have a very bad feeling it's a new standard and I'm going to have to start arguing with morons on a daily basis.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Looking Ahead

For all my scatterbrained moments, I am a generally intelligent woman who plans ahead as much as possible.  Let's face it, with three kids you never know when one of them will throw you a curve ball (or just throw up) and leave you scrambling to piece together Plan B, C or D.  Still, it's helpful if you have a plan to begin with, right?

For example, I've spent the six to eight months saving every penny that came my way so I could go to Mexico for the first time ever.  I had a special checking account set up at the bank and refused checks or debit card.  The only way I could get money out was to physically go into the bank and ask for it.  This kept me from squandering it every time I walked past a pair of boots on sale.

As the date of my trip neared, I did the incredibly smart, forward-thinking thing: I transferred the balance from the special account to my regular one.  My flight left early on a Saturday morning so I planned to run to the bank on my lunch break the Friday before to withdraw the cash I wanted.  That way I didn't walk around with a load of cash and risk losing/spending it.

I spent a chunk of time trying to determine exactly what denominations I wanted to take with me.  My expert travel consultant/sister (hiya Lynners!) suggested smaller bills as they come in handy for tips and I worked it all out.  I even wrote it down.  I wanted X number of singles, Y number of 5s and 10s and Z of 20s. 

Only I never got to the bank.

Turns out I'd failed to plan for one MAJOR factor. 

Veteran's Day.

Yup, I'd completely forgotten my magical day-before-vacation was a holiday and therefore the bank would be CLOSED.  

I also learned the bank's ATM had a paltry daily withdrawal limit.  I didn't know this because I never go to the ATM. 

It all worked out in the end, but the moral of the story is don't plan too much because Fate is rather territorial and she will take you down if she thinks you're encroaching on her turf.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mock Me Monday - Winterizing

Let's get one thing straight right now.

I hate winter.

Oh, the snow can be pretty while it's falling, but the sub-zero temperatures and the trudging through mounds of snow and trying to stay upright while walking on slick sidewalks is just not my thing.

In fact, I do whatever I can to shut the cold out. We've replaced all the windows in our current house, so drafts are minimal. Our old house was a different story, though. The first winter in the house I decided to "insulate" the window in our bedroom. Nothing wrong with that, right?

You might want to hear what I did before you answer that question.

To be honest, I was going to write this story about the time I put plastic wrap on the windows and accidentally sealed the scissors on the window sill under the plastic. But as soon as I started typing I remembered this OTHER incident...and it's waaaay more mockable.

Trust me.

It all started in the kitchen, actually. Our dishes were sooo cold, I knew we needed to insulate the cupboards somehow, but we couldn't afford to have a crew come out and do the exterior walls. What to do, what to do.....

You may not know this, but styrofoam peanuts are great insulators. No, I didn't pile them into the cupboard.  How would I get the dishes in there if the stupid white foam lumps were floating free in there?

I cut cardboard to size and then hot glued packing peanuts to the back of the cardboard. I slipped them into the back of the cabinets and it worked WONDERS.

Tired of the drafty window in the bedroom, I decided to try the same idea only on a bigger scale. The only problem is that I didn't want to spend the next three months staring at the icky brown cardboard. I didn't care about what it looked like from the outside because we had two huge pine trees outside the window, no one driving by would be able to see.  And it's not like I was going to be lollygagging under the pine tree in the dead of winter, right?


I put together some 1000+ piece puzzles and glued them to one side of the cardboard and then spent HOURS (and I do mean hours) hot gluing the styrofoam to the other side. I have no idea where I got all the packing peanuts. I didn't buy them, so someone must have given them to me. Looking back, I wonder what they must have thought handing over a garbage bag full of those stupid peanuts.

It worked really well. The draft was stopped, but I really missed the extra light that used to come through. Plus, it was WAY more work than it would have been to just add the plastic window film which worked almost as well.

I may be an old dog, but I CAN learn new tricks.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ten Reasons to Read Making Waves

I don't do that many reviews, mostly because so many of YOU do them so much better, there's no need for my backwards attempts.  But, when I read something I really like (like, really like like), I feel compelled to share it with you.

And so here I am.

On a Saturday.

This is the object of my adoration:

From the back:

She always wanted to belong...just not to a dysfunctional pirate crew Juli has trouble fitting in, though she'd prefer to keep the reasons to herself. But when she mistakenly stows away on a ship of misfit corporate castoffs, her own secrets become the least of her concerns. He knows plotting a diamond heist may be considered unusual behavior... But Alex isn't feeling very normal when his unscrupulous boss kicks him to the curb. Meeting Juli doesn't do much to restore normalcy to Alex's life either, but it sure is exhilarating! As Alex and Juli bare their secrets-and a whole lot more-they find that while normal is nice, weird can be wonderful.

This book is so funny, I laughed out loud while on walking to nowhere on the treadmill.  My gym comrades probably thought I'd lost it, but I didn't look up to see if they were giving me the stink eye because I didn't want to stop reading for even those few seconds.

I don't want to give anything away, so allow me to be cryptic with the following Ten Reasons You Should Read This Book:

1. Juli. Juli. Juli.  She's my new BFF.  Quirky and loveable. And I LOVE she's thirty-something.
2. The sea sickness medication
3. The spatula
4. The number 4
5. Cody's secret wardrobe.
6. Uncle Frank 
7. Phyllis - her naivete made me laugh...and what she says she wants to do to Jake. 
8. Malcolm - the pretentious pirate - made me laugh...and I want his "booty" 
9. The cheese doodle scene - made me laugh snort. Loudly. In public.
10. Jake & Phyllis' six cases of **something** damned near made me swallow my tongue.

I could go on and on.  If you are looking for a smart, fun, romantic comedy you can't go wrong with Making Waves. Seriously.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Having a Meltdown

Hubs took me to Applebee's for lunch recently. Being extremely cautious with calories these days, I ordered the Paradise Chicken Salad. It had the Weight Watchers logo next to it so I figured it was safe.

It was super yummy and I was satisfied with my choice.  Later, though, I looked up the calories in other salads and about fell off my chair. I love their Oriental Chicken Salad, but don't know if I'll be ordering it again.

It's hard to believe "Triple Chocolate Meltdown" has fewer calories than these 6 salads. (There are more than that, I just clipped the nutritional table short so it'd fit).  Don't believe me? Look for yourself:

The moral of this story?  If you're watching your waistline and going to Applebee's, you should DEFINITELY skip the salad and order the Triple Chocolate Meltdown instead.

It's the right thing to do.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Smacking My Gums

Gum and I go way back.  Like back to my pre-pubescent stage. 

Back in the day, most of my peers

(though to be honest, at the time I thought a "peer" was either something you stood on in a large body of water or something you did through the crack of a door...and while we're talking about words, I used to be afraid to say dam because I thought it was a swear word...even when referring to a water-blocking structure. I also had problems with "madame" in Baa Baa Black Sheep for the same reason. But I digress.)

My peers friends were all chewing Hubba Bubba or Bubbalicious.  Those were both great -- especially if you wanted to blow bubbles as big as your head...which is apparently something all ten year olds have to do. 

The problem is that both produce a massive wad of gum.  It made it hard to discreetly stick it underneath your desk or on a post outside.  Not that I ever did such a thing. Ever.

Swallowing it wasn't an option either.  That sucker would get stuck in your intestines for seven years.

Around about that time, Extra debuted. It was a freaky nuclear accident glow in the dark green color.  I don't think it actually glowed (though wouldn't that be AWESOME? Must invent.), but then again I don't think I ever tested it. Anyway, I switched to Extra based solely on its funky color.  Is that culinarily racist of me?  Whatever. 

It was a short-lived romance.  My real love and I were about to be introduced...Trident cinnamon flavored sugarless gum.  MMMMM.  The cinnamon flavor lasted a long time so I could talk to Eddie Spaghetti without fear.  

PLUS the pieces were smaller so I could chew them in class without being detected...except that one time I got caught on purpose because that's the kind of rebel I am. 

(Which reminds me teachers really ought to change punishments depending on the child.  My punishment was writing "I will not chew gum in class" 250 times over a boring weekend.  Yeah, making a writer write as punishment doesn't really work.  Now if he'd made me stand in front of the class and recite "I will not chew gum in class" ten times, THAT would have made more of an impression.  But I really am digressing. Again.)

So the other day daughterling and I were at the store and I remembered that I needed gum, so I sent her off in search of a pack while I unloaded my purchases.  Lately I've been chewing Stride (the green pack, whatever flavor that is), but daughterling just grabbed the green pack of Trident instead.  Feeling nostalgic, I accepted her offering.

I chewed my first piece yesterday and at first, I thought it was fine.  Minty, fresh, yada yada yada.  But then, I got a hint of something else and this will sound crazy, but it tasted vaguely like turpentine smells.

I confess, I thought about spitting it out, because part of me worried that maybe it had been tainted and I would end up slumped over at my desk and would make headlines for all the wrong reasons

(don't ask me what the right reasons are for making headlines)

...but that would've required me to stand up and go into the other room where the garbage was.  Instead, I composed this blog post in my head while I continued chomping.

Is that bad?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Love Honor & Obey

I have no idea whether or not I promised to love, honor, and obey my husband when we got married almost 19 years ago.  I could probably dig out the VHS tape  to refresh my memory

(really ought to think about converting that to DVD) 

but I really don't want him to know he has concrete evidence against me if it turns out I DID.

That obey thing?  I'm not so good at it.

I can love all day long and honoring is a breeze.  But obey?

Not so much.

A year or so ago I wanted to paint the family room downstairs. I was going with two tones of blue separated by a white strip.  

(I'm going to have to repaint it one of these days because it reminds me of a Pepsi logo.) 

Anyway, I wanted to paint the trim around the windows white -- as well as the shelf running along the East wall.  He, on the other hand, was adamantly against it.  You don't paint wood. Ever.

Kinda sounded like my dad, but whatever.

One weekend he went out of town.  Coincidentally (or maybe not) that was the same weekend I'd planned to paint the family room.

We now have white trim.

I'd been hinting at pulling up the carpet -- at least in the back bedrooms -- where we have hardwood floors lying in wait.  For whatever reason, he likes our carpet.  It's an awkward aqua color, but he likes it and has repeatedly stated his case against pulling it up.

This past weekend he drove to Missouri to do a little golfing. That just happened to be the day I cleaned daughterling's room from top to bottom.

She now has hardwood her closet. 

He has clarified his position: No more carpet comes out. Ever.

I promised to least until his next day-long road trip.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Alice in Writerland

Even if you've never read Alice in Wonderland, you know the gist of the story, right?  Girl falls down a rabbit hole and meets all kinds of crazy characters.  Whenever she eats something she grows bigger and whenever she drinks, she shrinks.

It occurred to me today (and I'll spare you the round-about thought process that brought me to this conclusion, we don't have that much time) that Alice teaches us something about writing.

No, really.

Sometimes writing is fun.  Y'know, when the words are coming out just so and the story is filling up the page just they way you want it to.  

Most of the time, though, writing is a hard slog.  You try and try but the words just aren't coming, and you create more plot holes than you fix. Your characters would probably be a lot more interesting if they fell down a rabbit hole.  

Most days, writing SHRINKS you.  (wait, I should make that smaller....a giant shrink is kind of an oxymoron.  Let's do that over --> ) Most days writing SHRINKS you.

On the flip side though, reading helps you GROW. And it doesn't matter how good the book is, either. If it's crap, you can't help but think to yourself, "I can write better than that."

Am I right?  (No need to answer, cuz I know I am...we all have that book on our shelf that was so bad it inspired us to write something better).

But when a book is great, it inspires us to push a little harder and stretch a little further.  It shows us what's possible if we just keep trying.

So, you see? Alice in Writerland is very relevant. 

Eat Me = Read Me
Drink Me = Write Me 
(In another odd coincidence, writing also tends to drive us to drink) 

I have dibs on the Cheshire cat. Just sayin'.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mock Me Monday - Inside Outside Upside Down

If ever there was any doubt about the future of Mock Me Monday, let me put those fears to rest once and for all.

It's been a busy weekend around the Rocho household. I spent the majority of the weekend cleaning my daughter's room. You wouldn't think a ten year old would be able to amass such a monumental stash of stuff, but let me assure you my daughterling is an over-achiever in that regard.  I think maybe we need to cut back on watching Hoarders.

That doesn't have a darned thing to do with the story except for the fact that I was fatigued and not thinking as clearly as I might have been otherwise.

The other daughterling landed her first job recently.  We went out a week or so ago to buy a few pair of pants/shirts for her to wear to work.  Only, they were about six inches too long, so they needed to be hemmed.

Guess who got elected?

I don't have a sewing machine or anything.  And for good reason.  I can't sew. 

 What I do have, though, is a quaint little sewing basket I got from Fingerhut a hundred years ago. 

So daughterling tried the pants on, I pinned them to the approximate length and set to work.  Normally, I would just roll the excess fabric up and stitch it into place, but if I did that with these pants, it'd look like she had little donuts around her ankles.  So I cut the excess off.  Not well - it's amazing how crooked it was, but I tucked the ragged edge under and pinned both.

That thing about me not sewing?  Not an exaggeration.  I have an irrational fear that the thread will break and the hem will just pop out all at once.  So, I knotted the thread every few stitches so if it DID break, it wouldn't come completely undone.

I congratulated myself on my brilliance.  Daughterling is kinda persnickety about her clothes and whatnot, I'd never hear the end of it if my handiwork came undone and she had one pant leg longer than the other one.

I finished early -- by my estimations and set them aside.  Which is when I noticed that I had one leg inside out and the other right side out.  I had to rip out the seam and start over...which was a BEAR because of all those stinking knots I'd placed every other stitch.

She's got two more pairs that need fixing.  I'm going in search of that magic iron on seam tape.  I bet if I look close the ten year old has some in her room somewhere....

Friday, January 6, 2012

Table Matters

Just an impromptu quiz for today.

Do you keep your table set like they show on TV?
Do you wipe shopping carts with anti-bacterial wipes before using?
Do you ever sneak snacks into the movie theater?
What household chore do you hate the most?

My answers:
When I'm really broke.
Tie between dishes & laundry -- they're never done.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Things I'd Like to See...Part ?

I don't know if this exists yet or not, but it SHOULD.

You know times are tough.  Schools and libraries across the country are dealing with slashed budgets and are expected to do more and more with less and less.

Not a fun position to be in.

Then I thought...

Why don't cash-strapped libraries use BOOK REGISTRIES to solicit book donations they could use?  It'd work just like your typical gift registry -- they'd list books they'd like to add to circulation and people like you and me would buy it for them.  

Schools could do the same thing with supplies.  

By defining things they need via the registry, you prevent a bunch of people buying the same item.  You also prevent people from buying things that can't be used. You know, like that weird cam of yams people donate to food drives.

 I would also link the registry up to local bookstores or Amazon/Barnes & Noble sites.

I don't know how it is at other libraries, but when we donate books to our local library, chances are good it will end up in the book store.

There's nothing wrong with that.  Book store proceeds fund important programs, but your donation is only likely to be read by one person instead of dozens.

But with a book registry, people like me can look to see what the library would LIKE to have on the circulation shelves and can donate accordingly.  

OR, you could make a cash donation towards a larger purchase - like computers.  Schools and non profit organizations could also benefit.

It would be even better if purchasing items off the registry automatically generated a tax deduction. 

If you know of a program like this -- let me know.  I'd love to help spread the word.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dubious Honor

You don't know this about me, but I have a way with toilets.

Gimme a toilet and I can make it overflow without even trying.  I think:
(a) I have an uncanny knack for choosing the *one* toilet on the verge of malfunction and
(b) there are a lot of people in this world who aren't getting nearly enough fiber

Over the years I've had toilets overflow on me at school, at friend's houses, at gas stations and restaurants.  Generally speaking it's not my fault...but you know how humiliating it is to have to tell someone their toilet is gushing sewage all over their floor.  They automatically think it's you are the one with the fiber deficiency.

It's kinda like going into a public restroom where the air is toxic.  You assume whomever just left made the stink, and if it's still present when YOU are leaving, the next person thinks its you.  Just the way it is...doesn't make it right, but that's the rules we live by.

I've learned to always make sure I'm completely put back together before trying to flush, just in case I need to make a quick escape from an encroaching tidal wave.  You can't run very well with pants around your ankles, just in case you were wondering.

I've also learned that when you can't stop the rising water, you should turn the water supply off at the back of the tank.

I'm back on the exercise bandwagon.  My goal is to go to the gym every day in January.  I usually go over lunch so I have my evenings free.  As part of this new health kick, I've been drinking a lot more water -- which of course means I've been visiting the restroom much more frequently. 

So today at the gym I did my business before leaving the locker room -- and don't you know I picked the wrong stall.  I flushed and the water kept coming up...and up...and UP.


There happened to be a plunger beside the toilet (coincidence? I think not) so I quickly try plunging the dang thing.

It didn't work.

I turn the water supply off and head toward the office but there's no one there.  It's only staffed a couple hours a day, and they're not due back until late afternoon/evening.

What to do?  What are my moral obligations here?

I'm embarrassed to say I ignored the mess and did my thing on the elliptical.
I did lock the stall door before going on my merry way.  How bad is that?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Following My Own Advice

The post I wanted to put up today is lost.  I remember writing it, just don't know what happened to the dumb thing.  So I started browsing the holding tank for something already written. 

I found this post (written several months ago).  Ironic that I've been stressing over all of these. I think it's time I started following my own words of wisdom.

Blogging Rules
1-Pick a schedule and stick to it.  That's not to say things won't happen, but if you're aiming to post every day and finding you're missing a several days every week, you need to re-examine your schedule.

2-No lip service.  Don't post about writing (or cooking, or stamp collecting or politics or whatever) just because that's what you think we want to read.  Certainly, if you're holding yourself out as a Christian blog there are probably topics you should stay away from, but as long as you are true to yourself and your passions, your audience will accept you.

3-Back Scratching.  There's a bit of "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" behind the scenes in blogging.  The unspoken rule is if I comment on your post you will comment on mine.  Or, if I follow your blog you will reciprocate and follow mine.  While there's nothing wrong with this on the surface, long-term it's unsustainable.  You cannot possibly follow everyone who follows you AND interact with each of them in any meaningful way.  I'm warning you, but you'll do it anyway and then you'll be ready for the next rule:

4-Letting Go.  There comes a point in every blogger's career where they discover they've bitten off more than they can chew.  You have a couple hundred blogs full of great information, witty observations, or just downright funny stuff.  But you've only got X number of hours to read and comment and you're finding yourself continually falling short of your own expectations.  Let Go.  Set up a schedule, or just browse blogs at random and comment when something really resonates.  No one will hate you for it, I promise.  We're all dealing with the same time limitations.  Do what you can (or what you want) and don't worry about it.

5-Don't be a Sheep.  If you find you followed a blog prematurely, then by all means unfollow them. (yes, even me!) This has happened to me on numerous occasions.  Sometimes I followed just to be nice only to discover the person's beliefs did not mesh well with mine.  Sometimes I backed away because they were sooooo long winded I couldn't make it through a post.  Other times there really was no concrete reason other than I just wasn't "feeling" them anymore.  Your time is limited.  Don't pledge loyalty to someone you don't enjoy 100%. 

5a-Don't take it personally when you lose a follower.  It happens.

6-Be Real.  It's no shocker that there are (gasp!) fake bloggers out there in cyberspace just like there are fake people in your real life.  Don't be one of them.  That doesn't mean you have to put forth all of your dirty laundry (in fact, please don't), but if you are commenting on a post, be yourself.  If you disagree with the crowd, that's fine, say so.  If you promise to help someone with XYZ, then DO.  Be courteous, be polite, but you don't have to pretend to like someone / something if you're not feeling it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Mock Me Monday - Flogging the Blogger

Today's Mock Me entry won't take long to share.  In fact, I can do it in ONE sentence.  How's that for efficiency? 

Are you ready?  Here's the most embarrassing (and concise) confession I've ever made:

I have 300 messages in my inbox that I still need to reply to.

I can't believe I just admitted that.  So here's what I'm going to do.  Since I have today off, I'm going to set a chunk of time aside to replying to as many of those 300 as I can.  Meanwhile, I open up the comments for a public flogging.

Have you ever left a witty/insightful/encouraging comment on a post only to have it completely ignored?  Let me know about your anger/frustration/disappointment.  Today, I am taking the heat for every blogger that ever fell behind.  

Go ahead, let me have it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Pet Peeves

I'm about as easy going as they come, I don't want to give anyone the idea that I'm persnickety or anything.  Still, there are some things that bug me.

For instance it bugs me when ads (like bill boards) remain in place after the event they are promoting is over.  It's like a slap in the face "haha, you missed it".

When they run commercials for live events on TV (like the debates or the Oscars), the images they use get on my nerves.  How do they have footage of the event if it hasn't happened yet?  I know they're using a collage of images from past events, but it feels like false advertising to me.

Speaking of false advertising, what's with these diet commercials or ads for super products where they put "Results Not Typical" in fine print at the bottom.  How can they be allowed to advertise results that aren't typical?  It's just wrong.

And what about ads with a half-dozen lines of itty bitty print at the bottom?  No one can read that from across the room, and certainly not in the 5 seconds they flash it on the screen.  

You might as well add any commercial for a product that's supposed to make your life easier to the list.  The "before" shots always have some complete imbecile mopping a floor or chopping veggies. They are awkward and sloppy.  Most five year olds could do better.  It's all a ploy to make the touted product look easy and efficient, but it bugs me because I know some people really are stupid enough to fall for it.

I should have made this a commercial-centered rant.  I can't believe how many pet peeves keep bubbling to the surface.  What's up with the carpet cleaning commercials?  Does anyone with white carpet REALLY wait until it's gray before they clean it?  And does anyone really believe one pass will magically restore their carpet?

You know what else gets my goat (hahaha - besides that expression that is)?  When you buy something in a resealable bag (like shredded cheese or tortillas).  The plastic is printed with a dotted line that says "cut here".  Only, when you do, you STILL can't open the stupid bag.

And finally (I'm sure there are more, but this is all I've jotted down for today), I hate it when I call somewhere and wind up on hold for ten minutes.  They very kindly provide music -- usually classical -- to entertain me while I wait.  Only some companies feel compelled to play a message every fifteen seconds saying 

"All our customer service representatives are busy helping other customers.  Please remain on the line and your call will be answered in the order it was received."  

I know they're trying to be considerate and remind me that I haven't been forgotten, but what they're really doing is making it impossible to enjoy the music they're playing so I can forget about being on hold.  

Can I get a big fat ARGH?  

Thank you.