Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding

We all got up early and just watched it while eating a fairly traditional English breakfast with tea! Because, well, why not? The dress was lovely and they kissed twice on the balcony. So much fun to watch. Yeah, it's a lot of pomp and circumstance and I am not one for fancy hoopla, but it was still fun to watch a bit of history like that and neat to share it with the kids. And it's kind of nice to have something not depressing on the news, too. Best wishes, Will and Kate!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tornado News

Yes, the storms came up this way. And yes, we were up from 4:30-7am watching and listening to a crazy storm and the national weather broadcast system. Unnerving, scary stuff.

Some tornadoes touched down in a few different places around us, but thankfully everyone is safe. Lots of tree/structural damage, flooding, road closures, school closures, roofs torn off, wires dangling, etc., but everyone is safe.

Crazy! They say tornadoes are rare around here, but this is at least the 3rd time one has touched down in the same part of the county since we've moved here (8 years ago).

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Praise God, It's Idol!

Hallelujah! Can I get an "Amen?"

It was some kind of religious revival for Carole King night on Idol (who knows?).

Steven saw God and Randy was channeling his inner Jesus as he kept telling all the contestants that they were turning the other cheek. What? He didn't even use the phrase correctly. What he meant was that they took constructive criticism well, but that would be too erudite, and not jive enough, to say.

So, they sang Carole King and Babyface mentored. Yeah, I thought it was totally random, too. Calling it "eclectic" would be too complimentary.

And though they only have 6 singers remaining, they absurdly made the show 90 minutes long and tortured us with 3 duets. I think that was part of the whole "God" theme. It got everyone praying, "Please! No more!"

Jacob rummaged through my brother's 1960's closet, particularly through the boxes of clothes he wore for his elementary school pictures. He found a bow tie, a bright shirt, and a plaid suit jacket, none of which matched. Then he got to sing after Jimmy Iovine's intro said, "He's the one in the most trouble tonight." Nice. Thanks, Jimmy. Great intro. Jacob's not my favorite contestant but I feel for the kid. His schizophrenic judges and mentors are all, "Do riffs. No, don't do them. Wait, do them. Belt it out! No, rein it in!" Then they dressed him like a used car salesman, gave him an underwhelming intro, and made him sing first. Sabotage much? So, Jacob broke out his church boy singing and did a really great job, truthfully. I already don't remember it, but I remember that I liked it, so that's got to count for something. However, I do think he's in trouble, but mostly because the Idol producers seem intent on making everyone hate him and not because he's the worst singer remaining. That dubious honor rightly belongs to one of 3 other contestants.

Whereas Jacob was slammed with criticism, Lauren was given the surprise of meeting Hannah, er, Miley Cyrus, who, by the way, has the voice of a chain smoker. I thought it was random to bring Miley out like that. I think it had less to do with surprising Lauren and more to do with Jimmy making amends for telling millions of people that an AI contestant sings better than she does (he was telling the truth, but I'm sure that was some kind of industry no-no). Despite the fact that she challenged herself with high notes (and then got praised for her voice cracking when she didn't hit those high notes, I kid you not!), she was just okay for me. She did pull out some random guy from the audience, sort of danced with him (thoroughly confusing him and the rest of us watching), had him sit on the stage, and then left him sitting there like a tool while she sang to the judges. It was weird. Her confidence does seem stronger, but I'm not convinced it's enough. In fact, I'm sure it's not enough to win.

Scotty sang all intimate and soft like, but I didn't love it. He did a good job, but I wasn't hearing church choirs or angels or God or anything. Randy got a little overly enthusiastic about it, so maybe he did. Steven might have, too, but that could simply be side effects or after effects or general hallucinations.

James was phenomenal and I'm so glad he's reining in the cocky edge. Someone's been reading online comments and doing his homework. He's still sporting a gigantic bandana (that honestly makes me think of a Giant with a cold or bad allergies who needs a humongous hankie), but in all other ways, he's listening to fan feedback. He slowed it down and it was awesome. He has a great voice and he nailed the whole dang thing. I think it's totally unfair how JLo proclaims a "best of the night" before she's heard everyone (like it really irks me), but he did do a fantastic job. He can be very endearing and I love when a true rocker can slow it down like that and show us, when they're not hiding behind drums, guitars, or, say, flaming pianos, that they can really, truly sing. He was great. (But it was really stupid --and incredibly awkward -- when Ryan made him hug Randy).

Casey got praise but deserved way more than he got. He was AWESOME. And I loved when he sat down and played some jazzy piano while he sang. What! Dude has mad talent. He is so much fun and he is crazy talented. He's so uber-geek that it's massively cool. Hi De Hi, Hi De Ho, He is mother-loving awesome.

Haley, I must admit, is getting better each week. She still sort of bugs me in a way, but I do like her voice. Maybe if I just didn't look at her? I don't know what it is. But she has definitely figured out that she should be singing blues and jazz and that her voice is just better suited to that genre and style. That has helped significantly. We think she's turned a corner. Randy thinks she's turned the other cheek.

I'm not even going to comment on the duets other than to say that Jacob and James took theirs to church and, like Steven explained, even though it was weird, God knows they can sing.

Bottom 3 predictions: Scotty, Jacob, and Laura
Going home: Jacob (Duh, because God the producers clearly want him to go find his choir).


15 Random Thoughts


Folded laundry this week with my family.
We've never really discussed how we'd do this task.
We all just pitch in and do it.
I thought of that as we folded together and smiled.


This made me think of how Mark and I never really discussed
how we'd function as a couple and family.
We didn't hammer out specifics and divvy up responsibilities.
He has just always treated me well and genuinely,
so by natural extension, things work out at home.
And I'm grateful.


My SIL Emily is on a trip to Paris!
Her father not only helped her with her ticket,
but drove 10 hours to her new home in another state
(she just moved)
to watch the kids for 10 days for her
since her husband is new at his job.
Um, wow.

I'm so excited to hear about her trip when she returns!


There is something so happy about a dog's wagging tail.
Seeing Scout's tail wagging happily brings smiles to all our faces.


Jimmy told me this week that
Steve Perry (of Journey fame) is Portuguese.
I can't remember if I knew that, but it was cool to hear!

From wikipedia:
Born in Hanford, California, Perry is of Portuguese heritage (his parents are from the Azores islands of Portugal). Perry grew up interested in music, as his father, Ray Pereira (who later changed his last name to Perry), was a vocalist.

I used to love the song "Oh Sherry."


We just realized that it's been almost 10 years since medical school graduation
and our student loans are higher now than when Mark graduated.
(And yes, we're paying them).
Damn interest.


This was after reading an article that said
that people average $24,000 in student loans.
They called those student loans the "anti-dowry." Nice.
So if ours are about 6 times as much,
what would be the name for that?


Thing 1 is getting used to her orthodontic work.
It's been a learning process -- figuring out how to chew and talk
with those things in your mouth.
They're called Twin Blocks.
A year of that and then braces.


Thing 2 is having a labial frenectomy done soon.
(You can see pictures here, but beware, they're not for the squeamish).
His is growing down between his 2 front teeth and separating them,
so they're going to clip it.
This stuff just tears at you as a mom. :(


On a happier note,
Thing 2 had his first baseball game yesterday and it was
SO MUCH FUN to watch.
The kids on the teams are SO cute in their uniforms.
And our Thing 2 is very athletic.
(And so cute in his uniform!)
Pictures to come.


Thing 1 is on a Track and Field team
and is really enjoying that.
It's especially fun that she gets to run track with friends.
She also has another violin recital coming up.
She plays beautifully.
Carnegie, here we come!


I love, love, love our kids' ages.
All ages are great for different reasons.
I am REALLY enjoying them and their friends
and their activities.
I sincerely enjoy being with my kids.
They are fantastic people.


I'm pretty Internet savvy and I love computer technology,
but I am technologically resistant to new gadgets
like mp3 players and digital cameras and cell phones.
It's a love-hate thing with that stuff.


I surprised Mark with something really cool.
He gets to spend a weekend working side by side
with an award-winning chef from Mexico
learning the ins and outs of Mexican cooking (his favorite)!
It is SUCH a neat class and it's hosted at a local B&B.

We couldn't make an overnight weekend of it
(I asked my Mom to come down and watch the kids, but it didn't work out)
but I do get to join him for dinner at least
thanks to some friends of ours.
We are really excited!


When I was little, my uncle woke me up in the night,
I got dressed up, and we watched Princess Diana and Prince Charles marry
while we had tea and crumpets.
Now, Prince William and Kate Middleton are marrying in 2 days.
Are YOU watching the royal wedding?


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dear Idol

Dear Idol Producers,

You don't like us, do you? Why on earth would you bring back the contestants who have been voted off to sing for us again? They're not on the show anymore because we didn't like them.

And tonight? They sucked.

I like Paul, but he shouldn't sing in groups. Also, could you buy him a new suit?

And Naima needs a sedative. Stat.

Tonight's show could've been 60 minutes long instead of 90. Ditch the stupid group number by people we didn't want to hear anyway and shorten the show.

An Idol Viewer


Scotty - He sang in two octaves and it was weird. I didn't love it and I thought it was boring. If Jimmy things this will make me vote for him, Jimmy is wrong. All the contestants hugged Scotty since he was the first recipient of any criticism all season.

James - He has a nice voice and is a talented guy. He's dramatic and should be doing something along the lines of opera rock like Queen, though I will say he's not as good as Adam Lambert. Steven said that he's "Mad Max meets Storm Troopers at Melrose Place" and that he's moving in a "T. Rex direction." I really don't have anything to add to that.

(Did anyone else hear Ryan say that Randy threw down the "goblet?" Someone needs to go back to school).

Haley - We all know I'm not a Haley fan (nor a fan of any of the girls or Stefano), but I have to say that I loved her duet with Casey this past week. Loved it. And this Adele song tonight was a good song choice for her voice. The blues work for her and, quite honestly, this is the only song that has stayed with me from the whole evening. And I think she looked cute, too.

Jacob - He wore a shiny suit and sang a Luther song and it was very touching. Very, very moving. Randy decided to choose that moment to contradict himself by asking Jacob to "let loose" despite the fact that previously he had asked Jacob to do less of that and instead to "be more controlled" and now he wants him to "let loose" again. Sometimes I think the judges are schizophrenic.

Casey - He sang Maroon 5's "Harder to Breathe." I love Maroon 5 and while he did a good job, I don't think it was quite as good as the judges said and I generally prefer his jazz stuff. He should stick with jazz. That being said, I want to give him props for dressing better for his rehearsals, surprising us week after week (if he's not going to stick with jazz, at least he surprises us), and kissing TMBWITW. I love his voice and his guts and love that he flustered Jennifer Lopez. Steven let out a gigantic tirade of swears and I love that he obliviously didn't even notice he did it.

Apparently, the Idol producers thought it would be cute for everyone to dress up as Dwight Schrute's cousin Mose Schrute (thank you, Mark). Oh, and Ryan admitted that he's not a man. He's such a dweeb.

Stefano - He's STILL here? Good god, make it stop! The contestants told us that he's flirty and smarmy and then he got on stage and showed us just how smarmy he is and I felt disgusting. I have never liked guys like that and have always found it extremely unattractive. Just gross. It was terrible, terrible singing and he work a pinky ring. Yuck. Here's a little math lesson for all of us tonight: Frenetic + Leering ≠A Good Combination. This guy is staying way too long.

Lauren - Why did she close the show? When she finishes singing (at any point in the show), I already can't remember what she sounds like. She's not at all unique and every time the judges talk to her, I feel like I'm at work. It's like sitting in on a group therapy session or intervention. Not exactly exciting television.

To sum up, tonight was boring and none of them were all that great.

Going home: Stefano, because he sucks and he's gross.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Random Thoughts on a Rainy Day

Our 10-day forecast looks something like this:

Rain 59
Sun 79
Rain 58
Rain 50
Rain 69
Rain 71
Rain 69
Sun 73
Rain 71
Rain 66

Spring is a fickle tease.


We are totally addicted to these.
Healthy, crunchy, and delicious.
Great movie snack.


No more daytime soaps for ABC -
"All My Children" and "One Life to Live" are being canceled.
Not sure what's more shocking -- that they're being canceled
or that they've been on since 1970 and 1968!
My mom has watched those for years.


We've been having fun with Wordle.

Here are some of Thing 1's creations:

Wordle: Maxim My Brother

Wordle: Crayons

Here are some of Thing 2's creations:

Wordle: amazing

He's always singing along to the radio . . . or in the shower . . . or around the house . . .

This one got him in a bit of trouble (and it made us laugh, too):

Wordle: poo

Here's one of mine:

Wordle: Dentist


Speaking of dentists,
we all got a clean bill of health yesterday.


Orthodontic work?
Well that's another story.


We have some exciting business stuff going on
and I'm allowed to talk about it
(usually we can't because of HIPAA privacy laws).

The local radio station's DJ does the voice overs
for our commercials.

Well, we just did a promo about how acupuncture
can help you quit smoking.

When he did the voice over for it,
he learned about it and got interested.

He's been a closet smoker for years
and recently admitted to everyone that he smokes
and is coming in for acupuncture
and constantly talking about it on the radio
and on his FB page!!

Super exciting and a lot of fun to hear the stream
of shout outs on the radio!


Thing 2's first baseball game is getting rained out today.
And, man, is he cute in his baseball uniform!
I'll take pictures and post them soon.

Mark is an assistant coach.
He looks cute, too. ;)


Our kids are watching DVDs of "The Brady Bunch"
from the library.
I'd forgotten what a whiny bunch of kids the Brady kids were.


Thing 1 and her BFF got to volunteer at the
library's gala event at the country club.

They dressed up, greeted guests, handed out programs,
sold quizzes, Thing 1 gave a speech, and they were
treated to a dinner at the country club
and were given gift cards to Michael's as a "thank you."
They were glowing and everyone loved them!

Friday, April 15, 2011

How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall?

Practice, practice, practice.

That was the theme of today's concerts. Thing 1's Suzuki violin group put on two concerts today at two different school assemblies. They were both excellent concerts and a lot of fun, too.

Practicing before the 1st concert

It's pretty neat that they were able to perform like that, because since each family only gets 2 tickets to go to the Carnegie Hall performance in a few weeks, this was a chance for grandparents to come hear their grandkids and see what they'll be doing at Carnegie.

The gym/auditorium was filled with students and there were several rows of grandparents as well. One spry 82-year-old woman sat down by Thing 2 and interviewed him after telling him she loves little boys. He blushed, but I could tell he liked the attention.

Performing at the 2nd concert

There are kids in the group from ages 4-18 and from all different backgrounds.

I got some pictures and videos today. Our little girl is really growing up! She's getting so tall and her feet have grown a lot lately and she's even got orthodontic work to really round out the whole "awkward stage" thing, except that instead of awkward, she's lovely.

Having fun playing "Witches' Dance"

The famous Suzuki Twinkle Variations

It's a very small scale of how it will be at Carnegie Hall, but it gives you an idea of what a great concert it will be!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Holy Sh%#dizzles!

So, 8 idols remain and only two of them are XX. And I have a feeling they won't last long when there are so many hot, talented XYs sharing the stage.

And whether they're male or female (or unsure), they were all judged by "The Most Beautiful Woman in the World" Jennifer Lopez, hereafter referred to as TMBWITW.

THIS is American Idol!

Paul - He sang "Old Time Rock-n-Roll" and he sang it really well. I loved the sax and tambourine bridge. The song may not be the most spectacular song in the world, but it's good and Paul sang it really well. And the guy and his voice and his dazzling smile, well, they all just make you happy.

Lauren - Of course she can sing "The Climb" better than Miley Cyrus. I mean, c'mon, that's purty kewl, right, y'all? I mean, like, I bet if Miley, could like, you know, talk, you know, like, to Lauren, she might ask, "So, what's it like to be on American Idol and how do you like singing on live TV and, like, can you believe you're in the top 8 and, like, how do you get your eyelids so shiny, and like, who picks your fluffy dresses, and like, were you like so sad when Pia went home and like is Ryan Seacrest really that short and like are those feathers in your earrings borrowed from Steven Tyler and like if you win, what kind of album will you put out and like do you think you'd want to be in movies or just sing and like what was it like to fall down the stairs?"

I have to agree that she sang better than Miley even if she dresses atrociously. Seriously, it's as if someone in wardrobe opens a closet each week and thinks, "Which outfit is the UGLIEST thing in here?" and then sticks it in Lauren's dressing room. Then, that wardrobe person throws a dart at a dartboard of shoe pictures and whatever shoes she hits, whether the style or color have anything to do with the outfit at all, that's what gets thrown in the dressing room next. And my guess is Lauren opens the door and says, "Oh wow!" and just makes sure her eyelids match some color that she sees in the ensemble. And I don't know that it's particularly difficult to sing better than Miley Cyrus, but just the same, Lauren did a great job. Though the high from her performances are always ruined for me when Steven leers at her and compliments her incoherently while she stand uncomfortably on the stage as he creepily disrobes her of the aforementioned hideousness with his beady eyes while the rest of us watch on live television.

Stefano - Is he still here? He talked about what separates the good from the great, but I tuned out, so I'm not sure which category he thinks he's in. He tackled "End of the Road" by Boyz II Men. Stefano is what it would look like if a deep-in-thought Joey Tribbiani (meatball subs) and a smarmy, schmoozing Guy Smiley had a baby. He did well and it got better throughout, but I'm bored. Are the lyrics prescient? I don't know, but I did learn that TMBWITW has a gutter mouth. Several Idol personnel kept the FCC busy tonight.

Scotty - "I Cross My Heart." Well, Scotty was one of at least three people who basically told Jimmy Iovine where he could go and, of the three, despite the love confetti the judges were pouring over him, I thought it wasn't great. I wish he'd sung the other song, too. I was uncomfortable the whole time and he nearly missed (and did miss) several notes throughout. Very talented and likable kid, but not his best work tonight.

Casey - "Nature Boy," no, "In The Air," no, I mean "Nature Boy!" Dude scatted. Those were some freaking AMAZING vocals. Just amazing! Casey is schooling us all on what "cool" and "sexy" are all about. Casey. Is. Hot. BEST performance of the evening, hands down. This was a VERY successful "No, thank you, Jimmy" moment. We rewound it to listen to it again, it was so good. Phenomenal.

Haley - "Call Me." She bugs me, but she did a good job. She wore a stained glass window shirt posing as a dress. And I'm pretty sure she got what were probably meant to be Lauren's boots, too. The judges criticized her song choice and she responded by over compensating. Cue Big Smile: "It's all about song choice!" Perhaps her lyrics will be prescient.

Jacob - "Bridge Over Troubled Waters." I wish he'd gotten a chance to redeem his little preachy "Man in the Mirror" moment. He didn't, but I'm glad Jimmy got on him for it at least. Jacob is a POWERFUL singer. He had such projection, control, and POWER in his voice. Whenever I hear Jacob sing, I have to say, "That! THAT is what Stefano doesn't have." Stefano is a very, very weak singer comparatively especially. When he was done, I exclaimed, "Holy Crap!" But Steven said it much better with, "Holy Sh%#dizzles!"

James - "Heavy Metal." I really want to like James and the kid has buttloads of talent, but when he mouths off to Jimmy Iovine (or sets things on fire), it's like he's really trying to make it difficult to like him. His was the 3rd GTH, Jimmy performance and it was phenomenal. I hope he doesn't do metal every time, but I think it's good he did it tonight and stayed true to what he wanted to do (though he could've done it without the lip). Well done. It was like a concert for sure.

Jimmy Iovine has egg on his face tonight. I have to admit that I was underwhelmed at the beginning of the season but WOW. They are all amazing.

So, let's review. 8 performances. 8 different genres.

Classic Rock, Country Pop, R&B, Classic Country, Jazz, 70's Pop Rock, Gospel, and Heavy Metal.

It all comes down to personal preference. Based on tonight, I predict:

Bottom 3: Paul, Haley, and Stefano
Leaving: Haley

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Family Bliss - Study Reveals Happiest Combos of Kids

This article was so interesting! It talks about a study that reveals what combination of kids (number and gender) tends to relate to the most harmonious family lives (obviously somewhat subjective).

The short article is worth a read with stories and anecdotes to illustrate the findings, but here is the list from "best to worst" combination of siblings:

1. Two girls
2. One boy and one girl
3. Two boys
4. Three girls
5. Three boys
6. Four boys
7. Two girls and one boy
8. Two boys and one girl
9. Three boys and one girl
10. Three girls and one boy
11. Two boys and two girls
12. Four girls

This was interesting to read. I love stuff like this! Mark is the oldest of 6 boys (no girls). 5 are married and have children. All the families have at least one girl. But only one so far is about to have 2 girls (listed highest on the happy combo list). We have the combo that's listed #2 on the list and I would agree that things are pretty harmonious (most of the time). :P

How does your family rank and what do you think?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Goodnight, Ladies!

Until tonight, 4 girls had left.

One more joined them tonight.

5 have left and 2 remain.

I could see all of the girls (and Stefano) leave without a problem.

Bottom 3 tonight: Pia, Stefano, and Jacob (his spot rightly belonged to Haley)

Pia leaves.

Shocking, but not really. There are others worse than she. But she has really dragged lately.

Other thoughts from tonight:

Ryan's a dork.

Constantine is hot, but I didn't love that arrangement of "Unchained Melody."

Iggy Pop was disturbingly disgusting and we all felt uncomfortable watching him.

I thought he was going to break a hip up there.

That's all, folks.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame

We almost went to the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame on our road trip. Almost. But we live close enough that we can just do it as a weekend trip sometime, so it's all good. But I digress.

Nine Idols sang. Some sang amazingly. Others sang adequately. And, since Naima has finally left, no one stunk.

Jacob - He decided to switch from singing about "doing the nasty" to Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror." Though we are big fans of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On" in our house, his choice was definitely more fitting for the choir boy. But speaking of doing the nasty, every time we hear those very distinct and totally recognizable first 4 notes, Mark and I have to snicker. See, everyone knows that song is pretty much THE sexiest song ever. It's parodied on sitcoms. It's played in lieu of in-your-face explicitness in movies. It puts people in the mood. But the best line ever about that oh-so-sexy song was posted by a commenter on YouTube who said, "That song came on while I was at the drug store once and all the pregnancy tests turned positive." Now you'll laugh, too, next time you hear it. But again, I digress. Jacob sang the whatever out of that song and it was a fantastic way to start the show. I loved it. I did not like how the back up singer reminded me of Naima, but I loved Jacob's performance. Well done!

Haley - Something about her bugs me. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it's there nonetheless. I had higher hopes for her since she was finally doing a Janis Joplin number. She sang "Take a Little Piece of My Heart" but I think she took a little piece of everyone's soul who sat through that performance. I didn't love it. It was too guttural, too spoken, too much! It got better throughout but, honestly, it was weird for me. I think her voice is better suited to a light bluesy sound rather than this. Why did J-Lo say that she'd be around for a minute? She said it like it was a good thing, but um, that would not be good. And why is Randy wearing a Hefty bag?

Casey - Love him. I really think he will win the whole thing. He's infectious (in a good way, not in a conjunctivitis or rabies way). He switched from "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic," which he was apparently going to sing as a rumba, to "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" and it was BRILLIANT. He played the bass while another guy played the ukulele and digital rain fell behind them both. "Casey's revolutionary!" yelled the garbage bag. Dude, geek-in-the-basement Seth Rogen doppelganger is freaking AMAZING. Love him.

Lauren - "Natural Woman" was her choice for the evening. Ironically, natural is not an adjective I would describe for her look tonight. Oh wait. Gwen Stefani dolled them up, that's right. Well, I suppose that explains it, but that doesn't mean I have to like it (even though I like Gwen Stefani). What's weird is that Lauren looked a lot like Kelly Clarkson and that didn't work since it subconsciously gave us, the audience, much higher expectations since Kelly pretty much stamped her mark on American Idol history by slaying that song when she did it. I think Lauren was trying to sing it just like her, too (but she didn't). It was good, though. Just not great. But that may be more of a confidence issue.

James Durbin - "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" was his choice and it was really, really good. Fantastic, emotional, great. I loved it. Of course it helps that I love the Beatles and love that song in particular, but he really did do a great job and I was glad to see him do a slow song, because I knew he'd be good at it and I was right. I'll take this to flaming pianos any day.

Scotty - This kid's singing is so not my style and neither do I like country music in general, but he is CRAZY talented. He sang Elvis's "That's All Right, Mama" and even sported some swagger and mannerisms from his childhood idol (how cute was that picture of him dressed up as Elvis?). Scotty did a great job. The girls rushing him after his performance was way too staged. I saw Nigel walking behind the judges rounding them up as Scotty was singing. Lame. I hate when they try to manipulate us.

Pia - I'm sorry. All I can think of when I hear her name is its meaning in Portuguese. Sink. We have a friend whose name means chicken in Portuguese and I struggle with that one, too. Sink sang "River Deep, Mountain High" and she went with the Tina Turner version rather than the Erasure version. Hurray for all of us. Beautiful girl, hideous outfit. Oh wait, Gwen Stefani dressed them. Okay. Well, it's about time she did an upbeat number but her movements were way too sleepy. That's what J-Lo was trying to tell her, I think. Hefty yelled that "Pia is in it to win it!" Very useful to say so after EVERY performer. (Eye roll).

Steffano - "When a Man Loves a Woman" Another ballad? Another ballad. Good, not great. Weak. He mistook getting ahead of the song for rushing the song. He's uncomfortable to watch. He's so blah and so boring. I hope this week he finally gets out of his perpetual spot in the bottom 3 by going home. What on earth is J-Lo smoking?? It was a freaking love fest up there. I didn't think it was possible, but I actually miss Simon.

Paul - "Folsom Prison Blues" I am entranced by his beautiful smile. Now, HE can work the stage. That was 10 times better than Pia's drowsy performance. Paul is very seasoned and it felt like a real concert. Clearly the judges were running out of time as they verbally threw one-line accolades at him, which makes me wonder why we had time to watch the manic idols on stage after it was over.

Worst of the night -- The girls and Steffano (is that redundant?)
Best of the night -- The boys

Seriously, my favorites tonight were Casey, Jacob, and Paul.

Bottom 3 predictions - Steffano, Haley, and Pia
Going Home - Steffano or Haley, though I'm hoping for Steffano so we can all be put out of our uncomfortable misery

Monday, April 4, 2011

Quote for Today

“Children learn how to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions”
--Alfie Kohn

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tax season is here again!

I read this article today. It tells us that we work for 3 months just to be able to pay our taxes. Well that's depressing.

And in our case, given that we have massive overhead and student loans (on which, we have a max on what we can deduct, despite the fact that we pay way more than that max), we have at least several more months of work just for that.

So, basically, we're keeping less than a half a year's worth of the money we earn from working, and from that, we pay our other bills (mortgages, utilities, food, gas, insurance, etc.).

After all of that, whatever's left (assuming there is any) is money you can use to pay down debt or invest or save or spend.

Hmmmm, well that little mystery is solved. I often hear people say, "Where does all the money go?" or "Why don't I have any left over after paying bills?"

Call me Sherlock.

Also, right after I posted that much-commented on post about finances (seriously, like the next day), I came across these articles:

This one explains that it's harder to get started today. Very interesting article.

And this one explains that the middle class has become the under class.

Our book club is reading The Millionaire Next Door this month. It was published in 1996 and I'm wondering how outdated it already is, how much of it already doesn't apply today. Economic shifts seem to happen so quickly sometimes and if your timing is good, you score. And if it's off, well, your finances take a hit. And you can't exactly time it. It is what it is.

So, on that note, happy Tax Season everyone! Consider this my annual tax season post. Have you filed yet? We're filing this week.

Oh, and for a more upbeat story, read this one if you're into saying things out loud like "Wow!" when you read to yourself and if you're into being happy for others. It's a pretty amazing story for more than just financial reasons.