Saturday, January 30, 2010

Random Pictures and Tibetan Rituals

I've done a lot of random thought posts recently. Here are some random pictures.

Here is Thing 2. He is so handsome.
And I love, love, love the missing 2-front teeth stage.

This picture represents what an awesome wife I am.
I made all this for Mark to watch sports with his friend.
(I had no interest in said game, but did have interest in said food).

This is a picture of our kick-off NaNoWriMo breakfast --
Dutch Babies, Farm Fresh Bacon, Farm Fresh Sausage, and
Homemade Apple Muffins and various juices.
We know how to incorporate food into anything.

And here we are, later that morning,
kicking off our NaNoWriMo efforts with a toast!

I uploaded the following ones on "small" mode,
so feel free to click to enlarge.
The day we started NaNoWriMo was a full one.
It started with a great breakfast and writing party.

Then our friends took us to the Hands-On-House
and that was a lot of fun:

And then we attended a Tibetan feast and lecture/opening ceremony
with the Buddhist monks who visited the local college
to do a mandala (which we also visited all week long).
It was both delicious and fascinating.
Our pictures didn't turn out so great from the feast/lecture.

That evening, we were all tired, but not too tired not to read before bed:

These pictures came out better -- these are from later that week:

Here is one of the monks working on the mandala --
all that design? All made with sand. Beautiful!

It was fun to go visit it throughout the week
and watch the mandala grow.
They spent HOURS and such attention on it.

We also attended the closing ceremony as well:

The finished product.

After they finished it,
they did another Buddhist ceremony
with a lot of praying/chanting/meditating.

Then they gathered up all the sand,
sweeping it into a container.
You can hear audible gasps.

And we all hiked (and I mean HIKED) to the creek
where they poured the sand in a closing ceremony.

It was gorgeous.
And a neat representation of the principle of non-attachment
as well as many more lessons.
We loved it.

Here is where the monks dispersed the sand with prayer.

Mock Trial Class
Taught by Homeschooling Dad and Lawyer

Here is Thing 1 on the day of the mock trial.
Most hilarious moment?
When the prosecution gave their closing argument
and then Thing 1's defense attorney exclaimed,
"That was BRILLIANT! Why didn't I think of that?!"

And here is Thing 1 at 4-H with the bag she sewed
for a Humanitarian Aid project

I haven't posted a ton of pictures recently and these are all from this past November/December. More to come . . .

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Because they're there.

Idol thoughts. Dancing around my head. They must come out. Because that's how I roll.

Here we go, stream of consciousness style . . . my mind gives a key word or phrase and then my mind answers it. All of this is interspersed with random outbursts, also courtesy of my mind. Kind of like Tourette's, but not exactly (and no reference to the contestant who really has Tourette's, nor is any kind of offense intended or implied).

Random Tourette-like outbursts are not labeled. All other keywords are indicated. We're starting with an outburst.

TEDIOUS! TEDIOUS! Audition weeks are so TEDIOUS! Two more weeks of this crap and then we get to the bridge between SUPER TEDIOUS and NOT TEDIOUS AT ALL (to me), that bridge being ONLY A LITTLE TEDIOUS (because I kind of like it a lot) -- Hollywood week.

Avril Lavigne: Useless, giggly, and don't even get me started on how much she ticked me off with telling that one guy no because she thought he couldn't balance family and work life. That is so not her call. Her call is "yay" or "nay" on their singing talent. That's it. He's there to audition, so obviously he has chosen to pursue it, at least for now. Oh, and her horned hoodie looked stupid.

Katy Perry: I liked her. She has her own thoughts independent of MissIMustHaveBeenSoPopularInHighSchoolThatIThoughtGirls
AlwaysAgreedWithGirls. I loved that. I'll take that to the Kristin Chenoweth Estrogen Fest. Gag.

Some Jonas Boy: Useless. He said, what, maybe 3 words? He just sat there looking what I can only assume is "pretty" to the teeny boppers of today. I spent the whole time wondering if he was the Jonas brother who publicly proclaimed, after returning from his honeymoon, "Sex isn't worth the wait." I kept wondering if his wife would think he was pretty enough to look at that she'd get over starting their marriage off on that insulting foot.

Neil Patrick Harris: Doogie did a pretty good job. But what's with the seating arrangement? He was the first guest judge to not sit by Simon. They even had annoying Kristin Chenoweth (who so totally reminds me of someone who shall rename nameless) sit near him and she was totally irritating him. I think Simon is a homophobe.

What the heck was with the Barney girl turned dominatrix? Was she that scarred by being on that kiddie show with the big, purple dinosaur? Okay, so maybe . . . Either way, her voice wasn't that great. I predict she won't be making it past Hollywood.

All right. So I guess this is more about the guest judges than anything else. Oh well. None of the contestants jump out at me as that memorable. Off the top of my head right now, I like the different sounding contestants who have personality -- like the Portuguese girl, the guy who was on Broadway with Fantasia, the kid whose parents were in gangs . . . yeah, that's about it. Bring on Hollywood. Oh wait. 2 more episodes of crap first.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Random Thoughts

I almost left justified this for Shawn. But then I thought about how much fun it is to throw off his equilibrium. So I stuck with right.

Anyone else get their January electric bill and decide to live by candlelight? Holy Moly. We knew it was going up, but yikes!

I have two girlfriends here this weekend. We've known each other since we were 12. There is something SO great about friends like that. We are having so much fun.

I've been around so many people with the stomach flu that I have been perpetually nauseous. I'm totally psychosomatic that way.

Santa got me a great T-shirt. It says "fun size" on it.

I've been wondering about what will be considered "pop culture" for this past decade. I came up with American Idol and Webkinz. I'd love to hear more ideas. What do you think?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Did he??

I'm sorry?

Did Randy say, to the girl with the half paralyzed face, "That was wild. When you walked in, it was like you were a little scared of us. And we were a little scared of you??"

Did he? Did he??

Yeah, I thought so.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

2009 Survey

I love these. So I just had to copy my SIL Emily and do it, too. Thanks, Em.

(And I actually wrote this a week ago, but we have been posting so much other stuff, it was in the edit list) . . .

  1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before? Many things, but let's go with "Got a puppy" for this one.

  2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Ditching New Year's Resolutions has been one of the best things I've done in a while. I love the new "word of the year" approach. Much more Zen. I love it. And yes, I did a pretty great job living by my word for 2009.

  3. Did anyone close to you give birth? My SIL Lindsay and 2 good friends in our homeschool group.

  4. Did anyone close to you die? My uncle died. (Warning: not a happy post).

  5. What countries did you visit? Lots of states in the U.S. (24 in 2009, if I'm counting correctly).

  6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? We're working hard on paying off more student loans.

  7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? I'm not sure, but maybe November 12-15th-ish -- for a lot of reasons, including that that's when we got Scout.

  8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Making some big decisions. Let's just leave it at that. Oh and going to Disney World, thanks to Jim! And a cross-country road trip to visit family. And visiting New England. And connecting with old friends (see, there are some good things about Facebook). And attending the National Book Festival. And making our backyard beautiful. Okay, so lots.

  9. What was your biggest failure? I don't view any of it as failure. It is what it is. I'm a big believer in people generally doing the best they know how at any given time.

  10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Thankfully, no.

  11. What was the best thing you bought? New fence for the back yard? Not a big shopper. Oh wait! The Wii Fit. LOVE that thing.

  12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My mom's. I have to hand it to her as always. She's a widow and it's not easy for her, but I'm grateful that she visits us so much and looks out for us. Even though we don't always see eye-to-eye, I think we have a pretty great adult mother-daughter relationship. My husband also deserves big kudos for being who he is and working so hard for our family in so many ways. Our kids are also growing so big so fast and they are delightful. I love them.

  13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Um. Not sure. California's? :P I guess I've felt rather annoyed by people who make assumptions, often based on rumor, rather than checking out facts with someone who is supposedly their friend, people who don't think for themselves, and I've also felt annoyed by what I perceive to be cold distance from people from whom I'd expect otherwise, but I'm learning to accept. I think. And honestly, these are somewhat minor annoyances. I had to really think hard to come up with them.

  14. Where did most of your money go? Backyard and cross-country trip as well as malpractice insurance and mortgages and student loan payments. It's remarkable really.

  15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Feeling happier and more at peace. And also reconnecting with my childhood friend Cathy. Didn't realize how much I missed her. I LOVE her.

  16. What song will always remind you of 2009? Say by John Mayer.

  17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
    a) happier or sadder? Much happier. Significantly.
    b) thinner or fatter? About the same.
    c) richer or poorer? Richer, but still very much in debt. But money aside, I feel like a very rich woman in other ways. I consider myself very, very lucky. And I'm grateful. Very grateful.

  18. What do you wish you’d done more of? I'm happy with how the year's been. Maybe had more chutzpah?

  19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Again, can't think of anything. I think this "living authentically" stuff contributes to a great deal of satisfaction.

  20. How did you spend Christmas? Here as a family. We loved having my Mom with us.

  21. Did you fall in love in 2009? Already very much in love when it started.

  22. What was your favorite TV program? The Amazing Race.

  23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? No. No one is worth creating that kind of negativity in me.

  24. What was the best book you read? For vastly different reasons, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Dance of the Dissident Daughter.

  25. What was your greatest musical discovery? Say by John Mayer? Or maybe Michael Franti and Spearhead?

  26. What did you want and get? I don't have a lot of wants, so a lot of the things I got and then liked were things I wasn't looking to necessarily get but other people thought I would enjoy and then it turned out that I really liked (KitchenAid, Zune, and Wii Fit come to mind). I also really wanted to attend the National Book Festival and did! Yay us!

  27. What did you want and not get? Somebody (Oprah?) to throw us a bone with that cross-country journey of ours --it really was a nearly impossible feat.

  28. What was your favorite film of this year? Julie and Julia -- loved it!

  29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I am getting to that age when you forget how old you are and have to do the math quickly to figure it out . . . 2009 minus 1974 equals 35. Yes, that's right. I turned 35. Mark and the kids got me a Zune. I am still trying to learn how to use it, because I'm technologically challenged that way. But I love it.

  30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Winning the lottery so that we could pay down student loans? A plethora of friends to help celebrate my birthday? A magic wand?

  31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009? Black, gray, and white. Jeans, shirts, and cardigans.

  32. What kept you sane? My husband and kids. My SILs. And recently, Cathy.

  33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I love the word "fancy" used as a verb. I need to use that more. I fancy the Obamas.

  34. What political issue stirred you the most? Mostly, I just enjoyed the process and the shift in power from 8 years of Bush to something so fresh and new. And I loved every minute of the excitement surrounding the election of our first black president. It was historic and, for me, moving.

  35. Who did you miss? My Dad.

  36. Who was the best new person you met? Kristie. She is a nice new friend and even invited us over for Thanksgiving which was really thoughtful. I also enjoyed meeting a new SIL (Lindsay) and several new nieces and nephews from Mark's side of the family.

  37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009. Listen to your heart and trust the divine within yourself.

  38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
"Walking like a one man army,
Fighting with the shadows in your head,
Living out the same old moment,
Knowing you'd be better off instead,
If you could only . . .
Say what you need to say . . .
Have no fear for giving in,
Have no fear for giving over,
You'd better know that in the end,
It's better to say too much,
Then never say what you need to say again . . .

Even if your hands are shaking,
And your faith is broken,
Even as the eyes are closing,
Do it with a heart wide open . . .
Say what you need to say . . . "

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I chopped it off!

I did it! I cut off over 10 inches!!

Here it is in an elastic, drying to send to "Locks of Love."

And here I am with my new 'do.

She did it all cute. I felt like I was getting ready for the prom.
I'm scared I won't have a clue when I do it myself.

I feel light and perky and bouncy. Odd words to describe how I feel, but it's true. I love it!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Meet Scout

Stacy already told the story of how a family set against a dog ended up with a puppy. She's been a part of our family for 2 months now and we haven't really said a lot about her. For a creature so firmly integrated into our family it seems a shame we haven't said more. She's brought so much life and laughter to our family (along with frustration and hair-pulling) that it's tough to pick what to say about her. Maybe a "Day in the Life" approach will work.

Scout starts her day by scratching around in her crate to tell me that she's ready to relieve herself. Bleary-eyed and dangerously tipsy I carry her downstairs to her litter "box" and wait for her to go. I never thought I'd spend so much time anticipating the emptying of a little creature's bladder, but such are my mornings. We're quite fortunate that in just three weeks' time she learned to use a litter box. All the vigilance and hard work payed off. It sure beats taking her out in the snow and cold at 6 am!

Depending on the morning I'll either stay up with her or bring her back to our bedroom. She loves to climb into bed with us to cuddle in the morning and truth be told, it's kind of fun to have the little furball with us for a little bit. She is a very social animal and LOVES to be around us--all the time. She is most content when she is laying right next to one of us.

We try and feed her at the same time that we eat in the morning, but she is most interested in what we are eating instead. She loves table scraps and will stand on her hind legs and beg for most of the meal. I never really understood the term "puppy dog eyes" until I looked at two of them staring me down as I ate my meal.

Scout is quite active in the morning and keeps everyone on their toes. She loves praise and attention so she will often pee multiple times just to hear everyone cheer. Now that she's essentially housebroken, we don't follow her quite as closely. We can tell when she's used the litter box, though, because she'll prance in to wherever we are with her tail wagging and ears tucked back. If for some reason we don't catch on quickly enough, she'll "bark" to get our attention. (She's actually not much of a barker so it's almost humorous to hear her try.) Once she's done her eating and toileting for the morning Scout will usually choose a nook on the sofa or in someone's lap and stay there for a while. Again, she loves to be near us.

Sometime in the late morning when I get home or come in from the clinic she will come running to greet me, frantic to jump up and see me. She can spend quite a long time on her back legs. In fact, sometimes we think she is trying to be human the way she can walk around on them. I love how excited she is to see me. Apparently, when I leave the house she can sometimes get a little sad and mope around. We joke that now I have another creature who doesn't ever want me to leave the house. It's nice to be loved.

Scout spends most of lunchtime begging for food (this is one reason we bring her crate down to the dining room now--meals were not restful at all) and then chases us around the kitchen hoping food drops off of the counter. She is especially fond of any meat (bacon drives her especially crazy), cheese, and eggs, but she will take whatever she can get.

The afternoon brings more naps and more puppy play with Scout chasing balls, toys, empty plastic bottles and cardboard boxes, and whatever else moves all over the house. It is crazy to see how much energy is crammed into such a small body. We haven't seen energy like this since Thing 2 was a toddler.

As I sit here, I am realizing that the life of a puppy is quite simple really. She sleeps, she poops, she pees, she eats, she plays. Then she does it all again. Recently we've started taking her out in the car to run different errands. She likes the ride. She doesn't like being left in the car. It's cute, but a little sad, to watch her head pop up on either side of the car looking for someone to come back. Scout loves to go for walks around the neighborhood. She is very curious, but cautious. She seems to think she's a bit bigger than she is until she encounters a large dog or average-sized squirrel.

By dinner she's ready to beg again and then it's time for a little play and a lot of rest. She loves to curl up on the couch at around 7:00 and she'll stay there for most of the evening until it's time for bed. Her evening highlight is trying to take Stacy's late night snack from her. She will sit up at attention if she hears any noise in the kitchen, and then she'll act like I am bringing her the plate of food. Have I mentioned how she's inserted herself into our family and routine?

It's hard to capture just how great it is to have a little puppy around, so maybe pictures will do her better justice.

A picture taken at the pet store when she first arrived there

A close up of her little face

* * * * * * * * * *

All the rest of these pictures were taken the night we brought her home. It's amazing how much she's changed in such a short time. We've only had her for two months and from what we've read she's already entering puberty. They sure grow up quickly!

OK, so this one's not from her first day, but how could we not put in such a great picture?!

* * * * * * * * * *
And how about some videos of the little pup?

* * * * * * * * * *

I'm sure we'll have so much more to share about Scout in the years to come, but for now, that's Scout.

Chickening Out!

This was taken in October, so my hair is even longer now! I love my long hair. Our son is begging me not to cut it. I'm starting to weaken. My appointment is at 12 tomorrow. I am starting to wonder if it will drive me crazy to not be able to pull it up/back. I love to pull my hair up/back when I eat, cook, write, etc.

Here are the hairstyles I'm considering (though I'm open to more suggestions--but hurry!):

My son just came over and said, "What is that?"

"The hairstyles I'm considering."

"Oh noooooooo!"


Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Write for Haiti" Blog-a-thon

Please go to Thing 1's blog to find out more about our kids' efforts to help the people of Haiti. And please consider pledging whatever amount you can. Thank you.

Help for Haiti: Learn What You Can Do

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What We're Reading - January Edition

I've recently learned that several friends get reading suggestions for themselves based on looking at our blog. I've been updating that list on the side but doing it that way doesn't save a history of past reads, so I decided to make this a regular blog post now and then.

(Note: We can hardly keep up with the kids' reading. They read more and faster than we can barely muster, so we've started something new. Every month, Mark and I take turns reading a same book as Thing 1 - we choose together, read the book ourselves, and then discuss it together towards the end of the month. And with Thing 2, we generally read a lot with him.)

Stacy: I recently read No Talking with Kate (she loves that book) as well as various book club books and am currently enjoying reading Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (at Tara's recommendation), A Wrinkle in Time, and Boy by Roald Dahl (our book club read for the month). I am also listening to the audio for The Awakening by Kate Chopin. And I have Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol sitting on my nightstand. As a family, we're working on The Lightning Thief (Thing 1 has already read the entire series and we're reading it now as well -- the movie comes out next month!).

Mark: He has recently read Number the Stars, The Giver, and The Lost Symbol. He is currently reading Percy Jackson (The Lighting Thief), Girl with a Pearl Earring, and Boy by Roald Dahl. And he has a huge stack of more books on his nightstand.

Thing 1: She is reading Cindy's Runaway Colt (that's number 13 in a series of over 70), Dog Friday, Ballet Shoes, and Mystery at Lilac Inn (that's number 4 in the Nancy Drew series). She is about to read Cindy's Glory (number 13 in the horse series) and some books about Helen Keller and Louis Braille. She has recently read (for about the 37th time) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Little Women, Kids' Almanac, and The Book of Lists. Among other things.

Thing 2: He has recently read The Lego Star Wars Visual Dictionary, Bakugan 1, 2, and 3, First Dog, and The Odyssey: Book 1 - The One-Eyed Giant. He is currently reading a lot of Calvin and Hobbes and Garfield books, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, as well as various Magic Tree House books and Roscoe Riley Rules books and some Junie B. Jones books. Among other things.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 also listen to audio books together at bedtime. They've recently read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Clementine's Letter, The Emperor's Egg, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Horace, Morris, but mostly Delores, Double Fudge, The Polar Express, Diary of a Worm, and more.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some, but at least it's an idea . . .

Friday, January 15, 2010

Random Thoughts. Random Edition.

Pat Robertson is a moron. Honestly. So totally, totally inappropriate. I'm not a big believer in a vengeful God. I just don't buy it. I think there are natural consequences to actions and that, often, those are punishment enough. But God sending down a huge earthquake, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people because of some sort of vengeance? Not a God I can get on board with. Therefore, Pat Robertson? Moron.

I don't get Spaghetti Dinners. If you're going to fund raise, make enchiladas or pizza, but spaghetti? I know it's cheap, but yuck. You want to draw people in, too.

I've had "Pants on the Ground" in my head. I kind of dig it.

I love to eat. Our daily 3 meals are like events for me. I am usually thinking of what we'll have at the next meal as soon as we finish eating the current meal.

Our fence got broken in July. It's January. I'm getting really ticked about it. We have called approximately 17 contractors. Only 3 have called back. And only 1 has shown up to give us a quote. Why are we begging to give these people business? Isn't it a recession? Grrrrr.

Did you hear about the Jonas brother (or whatever they're called) that got married and then announced that "sex wasn't worth the wait?" Wouldn't you just love to be his wife right now? What exactly is he saying? That he shouldn't have waited or that it was really bad? Either way, what was he trying to accomplish with that comment? Nice way to start a marriage . . .

This video is VERY awkward and totally awesome at the same time. Go Jimmy Kimmel! Leno is being such a moron. It's time to bow out. I'd say bow out gracefully, but that ship has sailed.

Happy Halloween or Our Quirky Town

So it's January and I'm only now posting. I'm a bit behind. I know.

Our county's trick-or-treat night may or may not coincide with Halloween (October 31st) itself. If Halloween is on a Friday or Saturday, they switch trick-or-treat night to a weekday and announce it in the paper. And sometimes the night varies township to township (or borough as the case may be).

Since this information wasn't in our welcome packet when we moved here, we were WAY out of the loop our first year here. We were out and about on a Wednesday or Thursday (I don't recall which, but I do know that it was categorically not on October 31st) and as we got home, we saw all kinds of little kids dressed up and walking around. We were confused and considered many options:

A. A block party we hadn't heard about
B. A party at the local fire station
C. Briefly we wondered if we'd somehow missed that it was the 31st
D. No, that wasn't it. Were all of these people confused?

So, we got home and I called our local police station's non-emergency number and asked why people were dressed up and walking around asking for candy. They were confused by my question (I was confused by my question). They transferred me to the fire station where they, too, were confused. See, this is so normal to them that they weren't sure why I was confused so we were all sort of talking around each other. Eventually we learned that it was trick-or-treat night (which still confused me as it wasn't on the 31st!!) and over the years have learned that they move it when Halloween is on a weekend in order to either

A. Keep people out of trouble
B. Support local sports

See, no one knows, but these are the two speculations we've heard. Either way, now we get it. And now we know to check. So, on trick-or-treat night this year, which was not on the 31st, the kid got dressed up and enjoyed some really fun trick-or-treating.

We generally make a list of 6 or 7 houses of friends and drive around and visit them (as well as a couple of community places, like the local ice cream shop) and get candy. The kids enjoy seeing their friends' costumes and showing off their own and it's always a fine amount of candy without being overboard. The goal is not to get as much candy as possible, but to get some. They have not even ever thought to just attack some neighborhood and get a huge stash and I'm certainly not about to suggest the idea to them. We like it this way. They like it this way. Why mess with it? It works for us.

A Ninja and Hermione Granger

Us with the Rats

At Logan's house, we also saw Connor and Rowan

Back at our house, we handed out candy to the Waldrons

So yeah, our town is quirky. But we like it. One of our other favorite, quirky traditions is when Santa visits on a decorated fire truck. I kid you not. On a Monday night before Christmas, you can hear very loud Christmas music and sirens. We always run outside, poorly dressed for the cold, and yell repeatedly, "It's Santa!!" And there he is, atop a VERY bright and loud fire truck with lights shining on him and Christmas lights strung about, waving to all the boys and girls. He is in an entourage of fire trucks and the local fire fighters throw candy at us (our town is also big on throwing candy -- at parties, parades, Santa, you name it).

The economy must be picking up. This past year, we got Tootsie Rolls. This year? All sorts of Hershey bars. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I hate AI auditions

I hate them so much that I don't usually blog about them. But I need to vent. I'd avoid these episodes all together, but I want to see the good singers. I want to form some kind of attachment to them and their stories before I see them in Hollywood. But A.I. producers continue to thwart our good intentions with their nonsense.

I hate the waste of time that is stupid-person-getting-airtime auditions on American Idol.

I hate the endless clips of rising suns, rain, seas of umbrellas, rolling clouds in fast motion, setting suns, mass transit, various historical statues, and crowds of thousands chanting, "I'm the next American Idol!" instead of, oh, I don't know, PEOPLE SINGING WELL!!

I don't want to be entirely negative, so let me add that I love Tivo and the ability to fast forward through said waste of time.

Back to the negatives. Because that's what this post is about. I hate that the producers air a 2-hour program, show us 3 decent singers, 147 crappy ones, and then wrap it up at the end with a 30-second montage with the voice over telling us that "19 other hopefuls got that golden ticket." 19 people we didn't see. Because we had to watch girls dressed as guitars, tirades we can't even hear because they're covered up by loud, annoying beeping sounds paired with strategically-placed blue American Idol ovals, and hokey dramatizations mocking decent back woods people from the South or Appalachia, which I'm sorry but is just so totally over the top rude and so very, very politically INcorrect, that I don't know how they don't have yearly lawsuits from the ACLU.

I hate that they let Paula Abdul get away. Loopy or not, she was the saving grace of that show.

WHERE IS ELLEN?? I am so ready for Ellen.

And my biggest beef of all beefs, as I've mentioned before maybe once or twice, Randy Jackson gets on my last nerve. Paula they let go. But Dumb Ass they keep. Let's just call him D.A. for short.

Let's proceed with some of the reasons I don't like him.

D.A. has the inability to think for himself.

After Simon says, "Let's vote. I say yes." D.A. says, "Uh yeah, I say yes, too." But confusion strikes when Simon defaults to D.A. first. We get a series of uhs and ums and nervous laughter followed by stupid questions like, "You want to know what I think?"

And they pay him millions of dollars to do this, Ladies and Gentlemen.

D.A. is a total follower.

Simon likes them, then so does D.A.
Kara likes them. Big surprise! So does D.A.
Simon gets up to take a smoke break. Randy gets up even though he doesn't even smoke.

D.A. makes tons of veiled insults that he doesn't recognize as totally transparent and, on top of that, really believes are compliments.

An average-looking kid walks in and sings like a superstar and D.A. says with a look of awe and a sound of utter surprise, "Wow! I'll tell you what, Dawg. When you walked in here, I did NOT think you would sound like that, but you can really sing!" Which roughly translates to, "Dude, you are so ugly that I thought you would suck" while also conveying the message, "I am totally shallow and pre judge based on outward appearances, because I'm just that fly."

D.A. is a total math idiot (and in 9 seasons, they have yet to clue him in).

I mean he sounds like such a dope and no one stops him.

Simon says, "100% yes."
D.A. follows up with, "1 billion trillion gazillion percent yes!"

Kara says, "100% yes."
D.A. follows up with, "Five hundred thousand percent yes!"

Mary J. Blige says, "100% yes."
D.A. follows up with, "200 percent yes!"

(Not that Mary J. has much on Mr. Jackson. I do believe she said that one of the contestants had won a congeal-iality award. Unless there is a prize in Miss America for the ability to solidify or coagulate of which I am unaware, she could use some clueing in as well).

D.A. has next to nothing intelligent to say.

It all sounds something like "Yo, I mean, dope, dawg. I mean, Dude. That was . . . what?!?! What was, I mean, that was, you know. I don't know, you know? Yo."

He drives me crazy. Seriously, God bless the inventor of Tivo. 2 cities down and 6 to go.

Hair Styles

In the spirit of living intentionally, I'm going to cut my hair short.

Not too short, mind you. Like a bob short.

I haven't had hair that short since I was 15. That was over 20 years ago.

Why haven't I ever cut it?

Because I had short hair all growing up. And once I grew it out, I loved it. Like love it. I love my long hair. I love pulling it up. I love having it down. I love, love, love long, dark hair.

And because I'm a chicken. Cluck. Cluck.

But every time I need a haircut, I toy with the idea of trying a bob to mix it up a bit. I love shoulder-length hair and longer-than-that hair, too. I think longer hair is easier to care for than short hair. It does take a long time to dry, but I don't wash my hair every day (it would dry out way too much). So, I think about cutting it. I think of these things and then I chicken out.

The girl who cuts my hair says if I gave her total license, she'd cut it short. She claims I can pull it off with my "petite features." That's a euphemism for "you're short and small."

I haven't cut my hair since this past June (I kid you not). I cut it just before our cross-country road trip for the family reunion/pictures. Haven't cut it since. It's so long, it's unruly. Won't stay up when I put it up. It's too long. I could even donate much of it to Locks of Love. It's that long.

I usually cut my hair about twice a year. I want to do it. But I'm nervous. And I'm warning you now, the phrase "If you don't like it, it'll eventually grow out," does not make me feel better. It actually makes me nervous. It's like saying, "You'll only look crappy and feel rotten for several months."

That being said, please, please, please submit photos/ideas. My hair is down past the middle of my back. I can tell her to cut it into a bob, but I don't just want to do that. I want something chic and stylish, but I don't know what. Suggestions, please? Please?

Comment with links and ideas and maybe we can even have a vote. (And thank you in advance to Jessica who sent me some cute Katie Holmes pictures back when I considered doing this a year ago . . . right before I chickened out).

I think I'm scheduling an appointment for this Friday evening, so comment soon! Oh, and anyone want to go with me and hang out while I do this? I don't like going to get haircuts by myself--I always feel like such a dork. I'll treat you to a drink at MJ's afterward. They have the best hot cocoa. Any takers?

Can't wait to see the links! Go!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Stats and a Word for 2010

Apparently I average about 12-14 posts per month, according to my 2009 stats.

That's about one post every 2-3 days on average (though sometimes weeks go by without a post and one month, I only did 5 posts total).

Out of curiosity, I checked other stats. My bloggy SIL Emily is a blogger extraordinaire and managed a whopping 37 posts per month average in 2009. That's 1-2 a day! She does daily what I do in a week. Plus she Facebooks, Tweets, emails, writes on numerous other blogs, takes care of two little ones, is pregnant with a third, and cooks great-looking meals daily from what I can tell. I bow to her online awesomeness.

It's a new year and I'm not terribly hopeful that my stats will increase much. I think my average will be about the same as 2009's. We'll see. We live pretty full lives and I sort of blog when I feel like it and the muse is, apparently, temperamental.

I still haven't reactivated my Facebook account and I don't dare sign up for any new social networks either. Plus, now I have Webkinz duties to attend to.

I have been discouraged, of late, with this blogging hobby. As much as I enjoy it (and I really do) and prefer it by a mile to Facebook (blech), I just haven't been feeling it. Like I've said before, we blog as a way to be in touch with people who live far from us. We know we're a little "out of sight-out of mind" with some extended family and friends, and blogging, I thought, would be a good way to be in better touch. And I think overall it has been, though it hasn't been what I had pictured. So I do want to continue blogging, at least sometimes.

There are those near and dear to us who I know read and appreciate any and all blog posts. They express this to us often and show us, in word and deed, how much we mean to them. You know who you are. For us, and for you, I do hope to blog more. I want to post more often about what we're reading as well as what we're doing. And I'll throw in some vents and of course some Idol reviews, too.

I put a lot of time and heart into my posts and, quite frankly, feedback helps and the dwindling comments (and possibly readers?) has been disheartening. I'm not at all complaining or looking for sympathy (in fact, please don't--seriously, seriously please don't--that isn't the point of this post anyway--just keep reading--and again, please don't). I'm just stating what is. Blogging is a bit like online journaling and I do enjoy it very much. But as a very open person, I also put a lot of myself out there (by choice) and when I see through my nifty statcounter that people are reading but not commenting or telling me, I feel, well, a bit vulnerable and exposed.

Especially unnerving is when someone mentions something about me that I know they learned through reading my blog and I either A. didn't know they even read it or B. didn't think they cared (so of course I wonder why they haven't said something sooner). Makes me feel like I'm on the other side of a peep hole, you know?

That brings me to my word of the year. I've been giving a lot of thought to a word/phrase for 2010. My 2009 word/phrase served me very well and I'd like to keep up the momentum. I've thought about it at length and I've considered many options.

The Contenders

Carpe Diem

I have been searching for a word that shows that I want to grab hold of life and LIVE it, so I considered the phrase Carpe Diem. However, since we're also trying very hard this year to pay down debt and save up more, I had to ditch that one since an awesome travel special arrived in my email inbox the other day and if I were to truly "seize the day," we'd be packing for a 4-night stay at a 5-star hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico (oh, it was tempting). But no, we must pay down that humongous student loan debt, so Carpe Diem had to go. It wasn't quite the right phrase in that it wasn't congruent with the whole saving money thing. Plus the phrase Carpe Diem while still living frugally was awkward and just didn't have a ring to it.


Now this one has all kinds of problems. First of all, it's not a word. And that just offends my nerdy sensibilities. Secondly, it seems to focus on the negative and an inspiring, guiding word shouldn't be a non-negative. Non-procrastinatingly? I don't think so. That non-word does exemplify my desire to do projects rather than putting them off or assuaging my culpability by simply writing the task/idea on a list knowing full well that I may not read it again for such a long time that by the time I do, I might not mind that I hadn't accomplished it. No, this word wasn't a good fit.


I talked about my search for a word with Mark and with several friends. One of my friends, when I explained the kind of word I was looking for, suggested this one. The idea is to consider how I would live if fear weren't a factor. Beautiful concept! But then images of me bungee jumping came to mind and that nixed this one, too. Fearlessly is not for me. I'm a chicken.

Just Do It

I am trying to just go for it in life. Write books. Call that new friend. Call that old friend. Try that new place. Exercise. Pay down debt. Clean out that closet (or 5). Organize that recipe book. Scrapbook. Get a dog. I want to do stuff, not just dream about it, write it on a list and forget it, or think about it. I think we're actually pretty good about this in big ways, but we'd like to do more in littler ways, too. So this phrase kind of works. Except that it's Nike's slogan. And Nike makes me think of Tiger Woods, which makes me think of scandals and trysts and sex addiction and then it loses something and lacks inspiration for me. So, I tossed this one, too.


My good friend Rachelle also lives by a word/phrase of the year. And while using this word almost blatantly copies what she's doing, emulation is the highest form of flattery, right? She summed up pretty well how I view this word and my purpose for myself this next year. I want to continue to live mindfully (something I've been working on for years) and live authentically (2009's word). I want the things I do to count for something. I want to do what's meaningful. I want to stop putting things off. It felt good to write a book this past November. I want to do more stuff like that.

I want to stop waiting for everything to be just right in order to do something and, instead, just do it. I want to speak more Portuguese with the family. I want to help Thing 1 get published. I want to help Thing 2 find his niche. I want to clean out the third floor. I want to load up my Zune with music. I want to not just make lists, but do what's on them. I want to pay down student loan debt. I want to attend the National Book Festival again. I want to read those books. I want to watch those movies. I want to get our Christmas letter out (seriously, I wrote it before Christmas but haven't posted it/sent it). I want to get that haircut. I want to call that girl I met and hit it off with 2 years ago and go out like we said we would, hopefully making a new friend in the process. I want to be more adventurous to make new friends and keep in better touch with my old friends. I want to have that girls' weekend. I want to go to the beach with our good friends. I want to get our passports, visit Canada, and save up to take our kids visiting overseas.

In all of this, I want to keep doing what I've been doing -- listen to my heart and do what I feel led to do. No more doing things because of someone else's expectations. No more revealing parts of myself I'd rather not just because someone else is asking. No more making myself uncomfortable so that someone else feels comfortable. That's all part of living authentically and I want to continue that. That doesn't mean I have license to be rude or inconsiderate (nor would I want to be), but it does mean that I take care of myself and my family, that I empower myself, that I live true to myself . . . authentically.

But I also want to grab life by the reins and live it. Live Intentionally. That's my phrase for 2010.