Join the Madness

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Hope you are all able to surround yourselves
with friends and family today!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

52 Weeks of Kindness - Weeks 49 & 50

Wow.  I cannot believe I only have two weeks left.  In a way, it will be a relief not to have the weekly deadline hanging over my head.  It sounds easy enough - one act per week - but when you work full time and have a family to tend to, the week seems to FLY by.

Week 49
While browsing through half price books, I noticed one of my favorite books (Lamb by Christopher Moore) was on the dollar cart.  I found it mildly offensive that such a great book was discounted to a mere buck, but I didn't let that stop me from snatching it up!  I loved this book so much.  Christopher Moore has such a rich sense of humor I laugh out loud whenever I read his work.  I happened to buy this (the first time) before a trip to Vegas and I was laughing on the plane, laughing by the pool, laughing everywhere.  And not a little  We're talking full on belly laughs that draw curious looks from others.  This book is a kindness unto itself and during this week, I passed the joy on.  Actually, I gave this bargain copy away AND loaned my personal copy to someone else.  Double the joy.

Week 50
We have a TV/monitor in the lobby at work that we program to show who is on vacation, who is traveling for work, etc.  I also add new hires, birthdays, and special events or visitors.  I noticed it was one woman's birthday today, so when I had to run back to the office last night I left a small gift bag on her chair with a hand sanitizer and lip balm in it.  

She caught me in the hall later and we made small talk.  I casually mentioned my calendar said it was her birthday and wished her a happy one.  She paused - started to say something then stopped.  I'm SURE she was going to ask about the gift bag, but changed her mind.  No one ever suspects me, which makes this all so much more fun! 


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

GREAT Christmas Gift

I was at a craft / art show over the weekend and saw these amazing puzzles and I just have to share them.


I don't know about you, but I'm always on the look out for unique gifts - something that you can't find at every mall in America.  And I love LOVE LOVE these puzzles.

His booth was right inside the door - the first one I saw.  I meant to stop back on the way out so I could pick up a couple, but dufus that I am, we left through a different door and now I'm kicking myself. Thank God he's got a website! 

These puzzles are gorgeous, well-made pieces and I've seen some as low as $11 and as high as $200, so really there's something in everyone's price range.  I'm not getting paid to write this, but when I find something exceptional, I want the world to know.

Here's the link...and you better shop fast because I'll be placing MY order soon!

Monday, December 2, 2013


We had our Thanksgiving this past Saturday.  On Thursday, though, Coders apparently wanted to have *some* sort of celebration, so he kept setting the timer on the iPad to ring with a doorbell chime.  That was my cue to stop whatever I was doing to answer the door and introduce the fictitious family member to the family.

Periodically, he took on the job of impersonating these family members, with hysterical results.  Some of our invisible visitors were:

Great Aunt Martha - She came in and fell asleep on the couch.  Apparently she's a great sleeper because we kept sitting on top of her and she didn't even budge.

Jerry Barry (or maybe Barry Jerry) - this is Aunt Martha's son and boy was he hyperactive.  He ran all through the house. Over and over. 

Uncle Bob - he's a bit of a beer drinker and then he likes to talk -- telling crazy stories of things that never happened.  He was also Martha's husband once, and they would periodically bicker about this or that.

Catherine - aka Kitty Kat - She's a 23 year old actress that just graduated from college.  She doesn't say much, and I'm not sure how she's related to the above.  She's our cousin. 

Oscar - the dog.  

My favorite quotes of the day:

"Bob, can you keep it down? I'm trying to give a speech" (think this was Barry)

"Mooooom, have you seen my heels?" (something I never thought my son would say....even in character)

Me: Welcome, Oscar!  We only have one rule in this house - 
no piddling on the floor.
Cody/Oscar:  Ooops. Sorry.  I had gas.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

52 Weeks of Kindness - Weeks 44 - 48

Time just gets away from me, so it's time to catch up on my good deed doin':

Week 44:
I made little gift bags with hand sanitizer (Bath & Body Works), lip balm, and a little trinket  and left in restrooms throughout the week.

Week 45:
Awhile back I went to a craft sale where one woman was selling handmade jewelry CHEAP ... like nothing over $2.  I stocked up on bracelets and earrings and during this week I left them behind in restrooms, on restaurant tables, window sills...

Week ?
Not sure this one counts, so I won't put a week # on it.  The paper towel dispenser in the women's restroom at work had this awful pink-toned fake marble paper in the little window, so I found a cartoon and slipped it inside instead.  (It says something like "Our computers are down, so we have to do everything manually"). Planning to change this out from time to time.

Week 46:
Put cash in vending machines...kinda boring unless you're the one getting a free snack / soda out of the deal.

Week 47: 
Found leftover jewelry/sanitizer/lip balm in a bag in my car, so dispersed them this week.

Week 48:
This week technically doesn't end until after Thanksgiving, but I wanted to make sure this one got out before because this is a special one.

This whole year-long experiment was inspired because one woman happened to leave something on my desk when I was going through a rough time.  She had no idea, it was just coincidence that she hit the timing just right.  She is someone who is ALWAYS doing nice things for others so this week I wrote a letter explaining how she had inspired me and highlighting a few of the things I had done over the course of the year.  I included cash - I won't say the exact amount, but will say it was my biggest gift yet.  And I'm 99.99% sure she's going to use that cash to brighten someone else's day.  That's just the kind of person she is.
(UPDATE: Shortly after I sent my gift off, the women in the office received a gift from her.  I KNEW she'd spend it on someone else.)


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cody Quotes

It's time again for another edition of Cody Quotes - a slice of life with my favorite ten year old.

We were in the car and for whatever reason, I was whistling.  Cody didn't particularly appreciate my efforts because he said:  "Stop that you'll scratch your shackles."

When I asked if he wanted to go do something:
"I only said yes to curry your favor but the real answer is no."

Cody is fond of handing me the magnadoodle and telling me to do something.  Sometimes it's a mall or a house diagram.  Sometimes it's something a little more cryptic - like the logo of a particular company in 1982 or maybe I'm to illustrate some aspect of a story he's written.  While challenging, I can do those.

Tonight, Cody asked me to draw the mask of Fastly who is the leader of the Fastline Gang -- a series of comic books he's written.  And lest you think that's not too hard, you haven't heard all his instructions.  His last advice to me was "and it has to be an 8-bit drawing"

I have no idea what an 8-bit picture looks like, so I just pixelated it - lots of squares into the shape of a mask - and that seemed to appease him.

Me: What college are you going to, Cody?
Cody: BURP 
Me: Burp University? 
Cody: I just do it to add a little slapstick comedy (pause) now you have to slap a stick...

Cody: Dad gave me a UPS truck!  Coville was starving for mail service
Me: That's good.  What kind of town doesn't offer mail service?
Cody: (not missing a beat) an unincorporated one

After spending a half hour drawing "clip ons" for Cody (yeah, try drawing something when you have absolutely no idea what you're supposed to be doing), I must have been dragging my feet with the next task because Cody said:
"Stop acting unenthusiastic, cuz you know I'm going to find out."

When his sister asked him one too many questions, Cody said:
"I simply do not know. I am designed to ask questions, not answer them"

Cody loves lists, so when I went to the store a few weeks ago to pick up a few items, I put Cody in charge of my shopping list.  The problem was that I'd jotted down the ingredients to the recipes I wanted to make, but they were in no particular order, but Cody insisted we pick them up in order.  

So we grabbed cream cheese and had to go all the way back to the baking aisle to get vanilla, then across the store again to get eggs.  Never mind that the cream cheese and eggs were right next to each other in the cooler, we were going by The List. 

And when we were done, we had to line everything up single file:

While we're going over a bridge: "Jumping off bridges gives you cancer"

I said something about "all that crap". Cody gets in my face, bobs a finger up and down like he's flushing a toilet and says "Would you flush that potty mouth?"

Driving through a newer area of town where the houses are bigger than ours, Cody stares out the window and says, "I am completely unimpressed with the look of these mansions. A mansion has to be beautiful in all its proportions."

We've been working on manners lately.  Cody has become rather bossy and demanding, so we often refuse to do whatever it is he asks until he says please.  
Cody: The MagnaDoodle is on the couch.  Bring it to me.
ME: (stare at him without moving)
Cody: NOW!
Me: (continue to stare) P - P - P - P - L - L - L - -
Cody: (stares back) You're having one of those good manners moments, aren't you? Oh fine. PLEASE!

Cody: that was a dulcimer that they just showed.
Me: a dulcimer?
Cody: (with knowing nod) they're European.

After his shower: 
(to my knowledge I hadn't done anything to him)
"Oh boy, you ruined my physical appearance."

C: Hey, don't trousel my hair.
(sis & me): Trousel?
C: You're messing it up
Us: Ohhhhhh...

Cody: Where do tailless dogs go?
Me: I don't know
Cody: To a re-tail store

Out of nowhere:
Back in the Pre-Cambrian era, there was no soap.

Court: Look! How cute! Can we get a pig?
Me: No.  Little pigs turn into big pigs
Court: Not if you make them bacon....

Cody was telling me about something that happened back in 2005. After a thoughtful pause he added, "You know, back when I was illiterate."

COdy was being silly one night and said: Pick your nose.
Me: Eww. I don't want to pick my nose.
To which he replied: I wanna eat lady boogers
(I HOPE he was kidding...)

On picture day at school, Cody decided to wear his tux from Halloween.  He comes into the bathroom to admire himself in the mirror.
Me: Cody, you're looking very James Bondish today.
Cody: Yeah, but without the flower it's really more of a dinner suit.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hand Me the Dunce Cap...

I know every mother thinks her child is a genius, but other mothers have not had to play with my son.  I seriously need to go back to school so I can keep up with him.  Other ten year olds might be satisfied with a game of catch, going for a bike ride, or maybe playing with some cars.  Not my Coders.  His 'games' are a little more....involved.  And a LOT more cerebral.

Today I came home from work and saw the counter covered in these drawings:

I knew what was coming, even before he made the announcement.

"Tonight, at 8:30, we're going to play Name the Microsoft OS"

That's right.  He mocked up a typical desktop for every Microsoft operating system from Windows 95 to Windows 8.  

I failed miserably.  I got two right, but that's only because he helped by giving me hints (Cody: "Windows nnnnn..." Me: "Windows 95? 97? 98?").  I also increased my odds by recycling answers figuring I'd eventually get one right.  

And when I quizzed him?

He got every single stinking one right.

Not that I'm surprised.  The boy's a genius.

Friday, November 8, 2013


Found this in the archives and it made me giggle, so I decided to post it.  Enjoy.


What is it with women and their weight?  You know what I mean.  Women guard their real weight like it's a national secret.  I'm as guilty as anyone. The ONLY humans on the planet who know what I *really* weigh are me and my doctor…and if I could eliminate her (or at least snuff out those three little numbers on chart) I would.  In a heartbeat.

But WHY?  It's not like people can't tell by LOOKING at me that I'm lugging around a few extra pounds. Trust me, there ain't a soul on this planet blessed with the gift of sight who'd believe I'm a svelte 115  not my real weight. Also not my 'fake' weight.  So why the secrecy?  Do I think I can fool them into thinking it's not as bad as I know it is by refusing to quantify it with an actual number?

It's not like they won't figure it out anyway.  I've been having a weight loss contest with my husband the last couple months.    Anyway, I won't tell him my starting weight – or my ending weight for that matter.  We go on the honor system and compare our total loss for the month.  

But, much to my chagrin, the man can add.  Eventually he's going to realize there's no way I could have been 120 pounds not my real weight either. and lose 40 of them without winding up in the hospital in the process.  If he's going to figure it out eventually, why not just come clean now?

Because I can't.  I've been holding onto this secret too long to just let it go willy nilly.

I tell myself it's nobody's business. True.  The general public has no need to know those magic digits. The only person I'd willingly – happily – tell would be an anesthesiologist.  Want to make sure he/she gets those drug dosages just right, thank you very much.  But since I'm not having surgery anytime soon, there's no need to start singing like a canary. Whew.

Want to induce a nationwide panic?  Install secret scales that announce an individual's weight like those speed monitor / traps do in school zones.  Can you imagine strolling down the sidewalk and seeing "Your weight is…. 163" also 
not my real weight. plastered on a billboard for all to see?  ACK. ACK. HEART ATTACK!

Thing is, most men wouldn't care.  The men I know will tell anyone how much they weigh, like they're proud of it.  Amateurs.  I used to tell myself I lied because society had a preconceived notion of what a certain weight should look like.  Of course now I realize if we're ALL fudging our numbers, it's no wonder people have a skewed idea of what 125 pounds ha! guess again. look like.

So maybe the guys are onto something.  Let's take a page out of the men's playbook and stop letting those numbers define us. If someone asks, tell them.  What do I weigh?

145…ish. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Monday, October 28, 2013

52 Weeks of Kindness - Week 43

In my old neighborhood there was this house (okay, there were a lot of houses, that's kinda what made it a neighborhood), but this one house around the corner and down the street was special.  It was a large Victorian that had seen better days, but I loved it.  If I could have purchased it, I would have, but while we might have had the financial wherewithal to make the purchase, there's no way we could've afforded to make the necessary repairs.

Over the years, I watched sadly as it changed hands hoping someone would fix it up, but no one ever did.  One couple went so far as to paint the outside a sunny yellow – which was great – but it took them so long (more than a year) to finish painting that the sun had faded the first side to another shade of yellow altogether.

Eventually, we moved out of the neighborhood so I didn't get to drive by my beloved house every day like I had been accustomed to.  Recently, I had the opportunity to drive through the area again and I was delighted to see someone had been very busy renovating the place.  They'd rebuilt the porch railing, put in new entry doors, and resided (or repainted) the entire building.  It was looking GORGEOUS and I couldn't be happier if it were my own home.

(Okay, if it were my house, I probably would be a teensy tiny bit more happy.)

So, for this week's act of kindness, I went to Earl May Nursery and got a gift certificate and plopped it in the mail to the new owners.  I hope they plant some beautiful flowers to make the yard look as lovely as the house.

Friday, October 25, 2013

I Wanna Smell Like A Hairy Beast

I have a strange affliction.  Even though my personal hygiene schedule is robust with regular showers, hair washing, nail clippings, laundry, and the like, I freak out whenever I smell something off. It doesn't matter if it's B.O., dog poo, or something rank and rotting; my very first thought every time is:

Oh My God.  Is That ME?

To my knowledge, it's never been me, but I keep worrying all the same.

At one of my jobs, there was a bank of restrooms.  Creature of habit that I am, I tended to use the very last stall.  It was a little larger and I presumed no one else would bother to walk all the way to the end.

Then one day I noticed what looked like dirt on the seat, and (you guessed it)

Oh My God.  Is That From Me?

So I started using another stall and checked back periodically -- and discovered that the spot came back even though I did NOT use that stall.  Whew.  It wasn't me.  Kinda gross that someone's hygiene wasn't up to snuff and they were leaving actual smudges of dirt on the seat but as long as it wasn't ME, I'm okay.

I'm jealous of my husband.  He takes a shower and I can smell his freshness upstairs before he even opens the door.  I use (currently) a vanilla verbena body wash from Bath & Body Works that smells HEAVENLY, but as soon as I'm out of the shower, it fades away.  My husband is a hairy beast, though, so I think the shower gel has more places to cling whereas I am NOT a hairy beast - I spend a good deal of time waxing, shaving, and plucking to ensure optimal smoothness - and so the scent just washes down the drain. 


Despite my paranoia about stinking, I hardly ever wear perfume.  Partly because when I was pregnant, the smell of perfume nauseated me so badly, I still have an aversion to it.  The other part is that it takes on a different fragrance on my skin than it has in the bottle, and after about 20 minutes, I've had enough.

My solution?  Febreze.  Yes, the fabric/room deodorizer is now my go-to scent.  I spritz a bit on my sweater or pants and am guaranteed to smell fresh for hours. Maybe some day I won't feel the need to wax/shave/pluck myself into hairless oblivion so my lovely shower gels will get a chance to work as advertised.  In a meantime, though...


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

52 Weeks of Kindness - Week 42

Funny thing - as I sorted through my old draft posts, I've found pictures of cash I've been stashing around town.  A lot of them I never claimed as my official act for the week, probably because I assumed I would get into blogger and see the draft post and remember. Ha.

But that's not why I'm here.

I had something else planned for this week.  I have all the 'ingredients' for it, I just never got around to distributing, so that one will have to wait.

It just so happens that my local public radio station started their fall pledge drive on my birthday.  I've been meaning to sign up for years now, but because I listen primarily in the car, actually remembering to make the pledge once I get out of the car has proved a bit of a challenge.  The one day I did remember - I went to my desk and tried to log on to their website only to discover it's one of thousands my workplace blocks.  I always sort of feel guilty when that happens. As if IT is monitoring all the sites that I try to access - like Iowa Public Radio is on the same level as porn.  Ha!

Anyway, one morning I had to stop at the convenience store for something, so I just made the call and it's done now. Whew.  And, thanks to a company match and a matching challenge someone else made, my measly little gift is tripled.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mock Me Monday - The Artsy Edition

Not too long ago, Cody approached me and asked (ahem, more like demanded) I draw the Statue of Liberty for him.  He's got a little town set up in his room and he likes to add a little big-city flavor.  I often have to recreate billboards and business signs for him.

But I'm not much of an artist.  I chalk it up to my lack of hand-eye coordination.  Or brain-hand.  I can see the picture I want in my head, I just can't translate it to paper.  I remember being a kid and picking the colors I loved out of the crayon box (magenta which I used to pronounce mag-nett-a well beyond the period it would have been considered cute).  Anyhow, I'd color my picture but it never looked as good as what I had in my head and certainly never as pulled together as some of the other students whose color choices were more cohesive and they'd doodle designs on clothes and color in the background just right...

Yeah, I've been jealous of you artsy fartsy folks for decades.  But back to the job at hand.  I was to draw this:

But what poured out the tip of my pencil was this:

Not quite as regal or majestic, is it?Not sure what I'm doing with her hair or the robes...Cody proudly displayed it in his little town of Coville, though.  And he came back and asked me to draw One, Wall Street and the Algonquin Hotel.  I didn't fare any better with those (the hotel wasn't too bad), but for some reason I can't find my pictures and the whole city of Coville suffered from a terrible tornado or some other natural disaster that resembles my son, so now my abominations are gone for good.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Holy Hypocrites, Batman

Every so often I hear a story in the news about some high school senior who gets him/herself into hot water for daring to mention God during their valedictorian speech or some other public event. Opponents squawk that there should be no mention of God in our schools because of one of our basic tenets - the separation of church and state.

Now, I personally find this a little ridiculous.  I don't know where our tolerance and common sense has gone.  It seems every day I hear of another stupid thing - kids not allowed to hug a friend on school property, kids not allowed to play tag at recess, etc.  It seems everyone has a nitpick these days and the media is quick to pick up the bull horn on their behalf.

How is it, then, that I didn't know until today that the United States Congress -- the heart of our government -- has a chaplain on staff that offers up a daily prayer before each session?  Now don't get me wrong, I think our fearless leaders can use all the help they can get, but how is it our best and brightest students can't offer thanks to God without someone lodging a complaint but our government can receive daily prayers without anyone saying anything?  Where's the separation of church and state there?++

Things that make you say hmmmmmmmmm.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

52 Weeks of Kindness - Weeks 40 & 41

One of my favorite things to do is to leave a couple dollars in a store or other public space.  Part of the allure is it's quick and easy.  And everyone loves the thrill of finding cash, right?  The other day I was in our local convenience store and on a whim decided to leave a couple bucks inside a coffee cup.  I slipped the bills with my calling card inside, but when I put it back on the stack of cups, it fell off.  Instead, I tucked it under the edge of the coffee maker and then ushered my daughter away so that no one would associate us with their windfall.

Not ten seconds after we paid for our stuff, a woman found my gift and did a little happy dance saying, "I should shop here more often!"  I was able to make a clean get away, but I wonder if the staff suspects.  

My birthday fell during this week, so I made a huge tray of white chocolate macadamia nut and traditional chocolate chip cookies and took them to work.  They were gone in record time.  I tried to stay anonymous with this one, but I'm SUCH a bad liar, that it didn't work. 

I can't believe we've only got 11 weeks left in the year.  Better start prioritizing the remaining items on my idea list!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Hey Washington....

What the hell is going on with our country?


I don't want to get into any hairy political debates.  Honestly, I barely follow any of it but these days the news gets to me even while I try to hide under this nice, quiet rock over here.

I know Congress has a tough job.  They get bitched at all day from constituents that want the impossible – or think they're an expert after reading an article online. Their job sucks most of the time – but they WANTED these headaches, remember?  They went OUT OF THEIR WAY to earn the right to solve them…so why aren't they doing anything?

The "Us versus Them" mentality that has taken hold of our government has got to go.  All they seem interested in doing is telling a news camera why it's the other guy's fault. 

STOP IT.  Please.

Anyone else think they're acting like 8 year olds? 
But Moooooom, he started it…

What happened to Compromise?  You know, that process where neither of us get everything we want, but we each get something? 
Where mom makes you share the last cookie with your brother…

Uh, no.  Instead of talking it out and working towards a compromise, our representatives are playing a big game of Chicken – first one to flinch loses.  Except it's people like you and me paying the real price.  My heart goes out to all those furloughed government workers.  I know our household budget would be SCREWED if I went two days without pay.
Ever notice it's always the 'regular' folk who get hit hardest with this crap?   We are the ones fighting the battles they get us into, and we are the ones making the sacrifices for the policies they enact. It's a pity we can't fill Congress with us 'regular' folk…people who know the real meaning of sacrifice and compromise and WORK.

So, Washington - stop the bickering.  Stop the finger pointing, posturing, and news conferences and

Thank you.

Monday, September 30, 2013

52 Weeks of Kindness - Weeks 37, 38, & 39

Week 37:  While at Half Price Books with my daughter, I bought a cool journal with a print of Gustav Klimt's The Kiss on the cover and left it in the women's restroom in the mall.

Week 38:  More dollars in the vending machine at work.  I put a dollar in and waited until it got used before feeding another dollar in.  I found a lot of excuses to check on the machines, but I didn't catch anyone in the act of redeeming my gift.  But that's okay because....

Week 39:
Since I started this 52 weeks of kindness challenge, all kinds of wonderful things have come into my life.  Part of it, I think, is just being more aware - but some of it, I'm convinced, is the universe giving me back a little bit of what I've put out there.  My already charmed life has been blessed beyond belief.   I took last Friday off and decided to make a concerted effort to push that goodness back out there. 

First thing I did is left an disproportionately large tip for the lady who cut my hair (about 50% of the cost of the cut). The last thing I did was slip a $20 bill into a box with leftover pizza in it. 

There were lots of attempts in the middle that just didn't work out except the one that did...I stopped at McDonald's for lunch.  On a whim, I decided to pay for the car behind me again.  We were the only two cars in line so I thought I'd be able to pay, pick up my food and get out of there without any awkward moments of the other driver trying to catch a glimpse of his benefactor.

Fate had other ideas.

I'm sitting at the second window waiting for someone to show up.  I can hear the employee at the first window telling the guy that his order had already been paid for.  He starts yelling.  "Hey!  Hey!  HEY!" I'm having a panic attack because I'm really more comfortable being anonymous in all this and part of me is worried he might be mad.  Like I'm trying to foist charity on him or something.  Like I'm insulting his ability to pay for his own lunch.  Or worse, that he might think I'm flirting.  Sounds crazy, but have you looked at the world lately? It's pretty screwed up.

I look in my rear view mirror to make sure he wasn't going to get out of his car.  He catches my eye and says, "THANK YOU!" I smiled and give him a thumbs up sign.  STILL no employee at the window.  Seriously? This is supposed to be FAST food.

He shouts, "I've never had that happen to me before."  More grinning and nodding on my part. Where is my lunch already?  "Where'd you get the card?" he asks holding it out the window.  "I made it." I shout back as my food finally dangles out the window.  "It's nice!" he hollers as I drive off into anonymity again.

And so, after 39 weeks of putting things out into the world - I got my very first thank you.  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

52 Weeks of Kindness - Week 36

My self-imposed rules do not state anything about repeating a kindness, and yet I find myself feeling guilty every time I do something I've already done.  Not guilty enough to stop me, mind you, just wishing I could be more original.  I have plenty of original ideas left in the hopper, but money has been tight lately and so I've been saving the bigger ideas for a better cash flow.

This week I happened to be in the drive thru lane at Arby's.  I heard the intercom behind me announce the driver's total at $4 and some odd cents.  Impulsively I pull out a calling card and prepare to pay the cashier for that order, too.  But while I'm waiting my turn, I'm watching the rear view mirror to get a look at the unsuspecting recipient.  The man behind me was just your average joe, but the woman in the car behind him caught my eye.  She looked stressed.  Really bothered about something, like she had a thousand things to do and even stopping for lunch was a hassle.  So I made the on-the-spot decision to cover her meal too.

I did not stop to see their reactions, but who wouldn't enjoy a free lunch?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

52 Weeks of Kindness - Week 35

This week's act of kindness....well, let me just SHOW you:

We adopted a dog!  The kids have wanted one forever and we finally ran out of excuses not to.  We've got a large fenced back yard, the kids are old enough to NOT yank on ears and tail, and take part in feeding / walking.  

She's the sweetest thing on four legs.  She's a little timid around the house right now (expected), but is so full of love, I can't wait until she feels at home here.  Not only did we give a homeless pet a new life, we made our kidlings VERY happy.  Win win.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

52 Weeks of Kindness - 31, 32, 33 & 34 (ACK)

Woops.  It's been almost a MONTH since I shared any of my good deeds.  The problem is that instead of planning one big thing each week, I'm doing lots of little things all the time and so I'm sort of blurring the self-imposed weekly boundaries.

Week 31: I slipped dollar bills into random vending machines. I did this at work, but it's just as much fun (maybe more) out and about.

Week 32: While at the video store with my daughter, I hid dollar bills (you can rent 2 movies for a buck) around the store.  Doesn't take much cash to make someone's day.

Week 33: I found a couple duplicates in our DVD collection, so I left the extras in a public space for someone else -- didn't take long for it to disappear.

Week 34: Left cookies for coworkers

Week 35: I know what this is going to be, but can't say anything yet since my kids occasionally read the blog and it involves them.  Stay tuned - they are going to be so surprised!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

52 Weeks of Kindness - Week 30

I nearly bit my tongue clean off this week.  The goal this time around was to listen without judgment -- which is harder than it sounds, and certainly harder than I thought it would be.  After all, I'm a Libra, I specialize in diplomacy and seeing both sides of any issue.  I thought the only real challenge would be a certain coworker at the office.   

What a laugh.  Truth is, I learned I have a tendency to compare other people's decisions against my own personal criteria.  If that's not the definition of judging, I don't know what is. I always thought it was an honest effort to understand the opposite point of view, but I think its just a means to emphasize my own position. Nothing like a little self discovery to screw up your day.

So, paying close attention to my inner (and outer) dialogue this week, I tried to squash that questioning voice as much as possible...and let me tell you it wasn't easy.  It seems everyone I talked to challenged me in one way or another.  Rather than dismissing anyone or anything, I gave listening my best shot and then tried to make sure my remarks were positive and I took my Mom's advice: If I couldn't say something nice, I didn't say anything at all. 

The puncture wounds on my tongue ought to heal in a few weeks. :-P

Thursday, July 25, 2013

52 Weeks of Kindness - Weeks 28 & 29

Rated C for Cody

Whoa, what a busy couple of weeks these have been.  We switched internet providers which was a little bumpy at first, thanks to a faulty router.  I also had a visit from my sister (hi, D!) and took a vacation with the fam. I've been performing my acts of kindness faithfully each week, I just haven't posted about it ... until now.

Week 28:
This week I did something a little different.  I made a concerted effort to make sure there was always a fresh pot of coffee in the break room at work.  I'd heard a few hard-core coffee drinkers complain that there's never any coffee when they go to get a cup, so even though I've never tried the stuff, I made dozens of pots this week for those who do drink.   

Week 29: 
This week I focused on "buy one, get one".  So, if I bought a soda at work, I fed another dollar into the machine for the next person.  If I bought a snack at the store, I left an extra dollar behind to fund someone else's munchies.  I put extra change into a parking meter that was about to expire, and lots of other little things.

Until next week.....

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Victoria's Secret of Men's Wear

One of my responsibilities at work is to handle incoming and outgoing mail.  A lot of employees have personal packages delivered to the office.  I do it myself around Christmas time when I want to make sure the family doesn't snoop. 

Consequently, we get a lot of catalogs delivered to the office -- and often they are addressed to employees who are no longer with the company.  I have a thing for catalogs, so I will browse through them before tossing them out.  You never know when you'll find that bargain you just have to have.

My indiscriminate catalog flipping days may be over, though.  We recently received an Undergear catalog (basically the male equivalent of Victoria's Secret). I may have actually blushed while browsing the pages.  (Some of the garments were -- ahem -- see through...enough said.)

I'm pretty sure it was highly inappropriate viewing material for the office and I thank GOD the guy it was addressed to no longer works for us because I really don't want to know what ANYONE I work with wears underneath it all...especially if it tends toward the transparent side.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

52 Weeks of Kindness - Week 27

We had a MONSTER garage sale the last few days.  Sales were respectable through the first two days, but I REALLY wanted to clear stuff out. I'm more interested in getting rid of stuff than I am making money.  The goal of Day 3 was to get rid of as much stuff as possible to save me the hassle of boxing it up again.  

I should add a plug to Craigslist here.  I used it to advertise my sale each day - updating the list of things still available for sale.  It's free and you can add pictures.  I will never pay for a newspaper ad again.  ANYWAY, I outlined my plan in my ad and got LOTS of great feedback from everyone as they arrived. 

What did I do?

For two days, no one looked at our bin of stuffed animals.  So I let every child choose one for free.  This cleared out a LOT and made dozens of kids happy.  Win win.

The adults I met in the driveway with my Outburst game in hand.  If you are unfamiliar, it gives you a category (things that are white, cities that start with B) and you have a certain amount of time to name 10 things that fall into that category.  I gave them one "bargain buck" for each correct answer and they could use it same as cash.  

The result? Some people got bigger ticket items at a reduced price, while others were able to "pay" for their new treasures entirely with the bargain bucks they'd won.  I got rid of a lot of stuff and everyone had a great time.  I can't tell you how many people thanked me for the fun -- and amazingly I didn't feel the need to hide behind anonymity this time.  

Best. Garage. Sale. Ever.

Monday, July 1, 2013

52 Weeks of Kindness - Weeks 25 & 26

Been pretty busy around here the last few weeks -- and it's not going to slow down in July, so you'll just have to trust me when I say I am getting the deeds done on schedule, I'm just not getting the posts written and published.

Week 25 I paid for the person behind me in the drive-thru lane again.  I really don't eat fast food all that often, but this particular day work kept me busy until almost 2, and since I hadn't brought anything with me, I was too hungry to go wade through the grocery store to find a healthier option as I had originally planned.

Up to this point I haven't witnessed anyone's reaction to finding one of my gifts.  I thought the drive-thru would be a perfect chance -- but I chickened out.  I could not look in my rear view mirror for anything.  Turns out I am REALLY uncomfortable outside the anonymous do-gooder role.

For week 26, I reverted to being anonymous.  I stopped at a convenience store on my way home and hid $2 in a box of M&M's (on sale! 2 bags for $2!) and another $2 inside a 32 ounce soda cup.  

Can't believe the year is half over...AND I'm still going strong!  Looking forward to what the next 26 weeks bring.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

52 Weeks of Kindness - Week 24

This was a busy week, but one that's left me feeling GOOD!  I'm smiling just typing this.

I've always wanted to be the sort of person who volunteered and got involved with things, and honestly I don't know why I waited.  Sure, it would have been difficult when the kids were little, but it could have been done. I found time to do *other* things. 

This week I attended an orientation for new Humane Society volunteers and attended my first tour/training.  I also (with the assistance of my son, oldest daughter and her boyfriend) helped the Meals on Wheels program assemble nearly 300 cups of strawberry shortcake.  It went by fast and we had a great time.  Can't wait to go back.

If you (like me) always thought about volunteering "someday", let me encourage you to make that day today.  There are so many things you can do - and in most cases you don't need any special training, just a little bit of time.  As little as an hour a week can make a HUGE difference.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

What's for Dinner?

I'm browsing recipes online trying to find fast - but tasty - recipes for the week, and while there is no shortage of recipes on the web, a lot of them are meant for serious foodies.  Do people really eat things like Butternut Squash & Tomato Posole on a frantic Wednesday night?  What about Ancho-Honey Pork Tenderloin with Cheese Grits?  Seriously?  

I will readily admit that our menu has stagnated a bit. But, hey! That's why I was looking for new recipes.  I'm thinking more along the lines of zesty crockpot meals the kids go crazy over or something we can get on the table in 30 minutes or less.  I don't know about you, but by the time I get home from work, I've already been battling my stomach for an hour and a half -- I don't want anything complicated, I just want it NOW.

Soooo...tell me what you had for dinner last night, what you're going to make tonight, or your favorite go-to meal.  Mayhap I'll discover the rest of the world is full of foodies and we are seriously behind the culinary times!

Friday, June 14, 2013

You've GOTTA be kidding me

Going through old drafts to see if I can clear some of them out.  Found this one - the story has been updated since I first found it (a YEAR ago), but the central question remains the same.
This story looks at whether libraries should be allowed to censor patrons' internet activity or whether they should be forced to let them unfiltered access - including pornographic sites.

I'm not a prude, but this is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.  Part of the reason libraries filter internet activity is because of viruses and other malware.  If they are required to allow it's customers unlimited access to the internet, their entire network will be down within the week because someone will unleash a killer virus.

Seriously, our government won't allow adult book/toy stores to build in certain neighborhoods because it's a bad influence on children.  They won't let convicted sex offenders live within a certain range of schools or daycares...but they want LIBRARIES to provide porn to customers?  What's wrong with this picture?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

52 Weeks of Kindness - Week 23

Seems like a cop out, but the last few weeks have been frenzied, so I haven't had the chance to pull out any of my more creative ideas.  We've had my daughter's birthday, my other daughter's graduation, then her grad party and finally my son's birthday.  Yikes.  No wonder I'm tired.

So this week, hubs and I went out Friday night for a couple drinks and to listen to a band playing in the parking lot of a bar.  I tucked a $5 bill and one of my 'calling cards' into the crack between the seat of my folding chair and the frame.  No idea who found it - I slipped it into place as I got up to leave while the band was on break.

Let's see what opportunities this week brings. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mock Thee Monday

I took my son to McDonald's recently.  I paid cash, and my change was 55 cents.  The guy handed me a handful of coins, which surprised me because I was only expecting a couple quarters and a nickel.  I didn't think much of it, just assumed he was out of quarters and had to make do.

He then announced to his manager that he needed more nickels and dimes, so I took a peek at the cash drawer and saw that he had plenty of quarters -- so why he chose to give me two dimes, six nickels and five pennies is beyond me. 

I asked my son (who will be going into 5th grade) if he knew the best way to make 55 cents.  He says "The best way is a half dollar and a nickel." Then I asked him for the second best way and he says "Two quarters and a nickel."  

There you have it.  McDonald's is NOT smarter than a fifth grader.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Card Table Makeover

I learned recently (thanks to my fabulous sister who might have had a little help from Pinterest) that you can recover old card tables!  I had one in my shed that was marked with paint and scarred with gashes from a utility knife -- in short, it was unfit for public use without a mandatory table cloth.

See?  I wouldn't lie about such a thing:  

I picked up this vinyl fabric at the store (on sale no less!).  I think it cost me $5 total.

I want to color this in with Sharpies!

All you have to do is flip your table over, unscrew the top like this:

The hardest part of this whole job was prying the 600 staples off the old cover.  Wear safety glasses!  Sometimes those little buggers like to leap right at your eye!

Once the old staples are gone, center your new fabric and staple away!  Put the table top back on the frame and screw it all back together again.  CAUTION:  My table's brackets would only line up ONE way with the holes in the frame so if it doesn't work quite right, spin it around until it does.

The finished product:

I think you can do the same thing to folding chairs, too.  You could completely revitalize the whole shebang for peanuts!