Random musings and activities of a 30 something mom, potential sprint triathlete, vegetarian, dog and cat owner, and a evolving urban homesteader just trying to do the right thing in life for my daughter and the world around us. If the blog seems random, it's because life is and hits us all at 100mph.
Friday, December 29, 2006

PostHeaderIcon Bratz are Whorez

I think part of being a parent is denying your kid things you think are bad for them. Parents have no problem telling their kid they can not have a Coke for breakfast, so why when it comes to toys parents are willing to throw just about anything under the tree?

Advertisers want children to beg and cry for what they want until their parents finally concede. Neglect is sometimes giving a child exactly what they want.

This Christmas, my beef is with :

Also known as Bratz.

They look like pole-dancers on the way to a strip club ( no offense to the pole-dancers I know, but come on...... there's a reason those clubs are over 21...).

No child really needs a slutty looking doll. Seriously.

I think the original commercial for these doll-shaped hellspawn sums up their message well: "Don't theorize! Accessorize!"

Are these dolls creating immature sexuality or simply reflecting what is already there? To find out, let's not forget your phallic accessories that every 6 year old needs:

"The sweet and sassy Bratz Babyz™ flaunt it on the most funked out furniture! Take a sweet seat on a donut chair or banana split lounge, and hang out in Bratz Babyz™ style!


* Beautiful Bratz Babyz™ Design
* Fits 1 Bratz Babyz™

Donut Chair

* Spins around and around!

Banana Spilt Chair

* Moves up and down!

*Features and Accessories May Vary"

WTF?!? "Flaunt it on funked out furniture?" Who in the hell would want their young daughter flaunting "it" (Whatever "it" is since these are marketed to pre-teen kids) on anything? And these "baby bratz" are being marketed to the under-7 crowd.

So don't give me flack when I ask for the gift receipt for the fugly little Bratz doll you bought my 4year old for Christmas and tell me to "loosen up" when I tell you it's not coming into my house.

You want to know why? Because in 7 or 8 years from now you'll be saying "I just don't know how little Tanqueray became a fugly little slut..."

Right now you think your daughter dressing like their favorite dollz is cute.....Yeah, you're daughters aren't Slutz, they're Bratz.

Trash in, Trash out.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006

PostHeaderIcon Ok, so I was walking behind these 3 blondes...

(true story)

Ok, so I walking behind these 3 blondes at the airport (in their mid-late 20s?). All size 0, all just got back from a (obviously) massive shopping trip out of kc, and all wearing stilleto boots and the whole 9 yards..... (yes, JoCo stereotypes, lol).

As I get closer behind them on the way to the baggage claim area, I hear the middle one exclaim (in her best valley-girl voice):

"Yeah, I don't know why they make bags that big. I mean, if they're going to charge you to take it on the plane, why make them that big?"

Blonde on my left: "Soooo unfair."

Blonde on my right : "Yeah, you shouldn't have to pay."

Am I guessing right here? That they bought a extra-large suitcase, filled it full, exceeded the 70# limit the airlines have, then probably spent their whole trip complaining about it?

Maybe it's just me, and airports are a never-ending amusement for my people-watching hobby....

but I had to share a story that I could start off with, "so, there were 3 blondes walking and one blonde said....."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

PostHeaderIcon Act of Insanity? Act of Protest? A Wasted Act?

Also, along the lines of : if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear the sound, does it make a noise?

Suicide 99.9% of the time is an act of mental illness, not a political statement (one exception is the Buddhist Monk who lit himself on fire in 1963 to protest the Vietnam War).

Earlier this month, a Chicago man, Malachi Ritscher, also tried to make an anti-war statement by burning himself alive on a busy Chicago highway.

No one stopped.

It was not immediately apparent why.

People were more annoyed with the traffic-delay than the reality of the man burning alive by the road.

None of the mainstream media outlets carried the story.

His family has not been on Larry King or Bill O'Reily.

In case you hadn't seen this story, you can check it out:
The Baltimore Sun ran an article.
The Chicago Sun Times called his death as a "waste".
I prefer Yahoo's slightly different take on the incident.

I may not agree with his choice of how he decided to protest the war, but I think that the fact that it went unnoticed in the media is an indication of a bigger problem in our society.

More people vote for American Idol than the American President.

I wonder if there are more subscribers to People Magazine than the NYTimes (or name your fav national newspaper).

More people watched the finale of Dancing with the Stars than voted in the November elections.

Ritscher's suicide is one of only nine reported incidents of self-immolation performed as an act of protest in American history.

He video-taped himself, but since it was not "network worthy", is it really news? I mean, after all, TomKat might be pregnant again, Madonna wants another baby, and Brad and Angelina might also be showing "the bump". Fantasy football stats need to be updated. Dancing with the Stars was still running and Jerry Springer still in the running. Also, let's not also forget, Kid Rock and Pam Anderson are getting divorced.

With all of that going on..... we really don't have time for a story such a Rischer's, do we?

Malachi Ritscher wanted to make a statement. But what good is a statement, if no one stops to listen?
Monday, November 27, 2006

PostHeaderIcon I Thought Christmas was the Season of Peace

Unless of course you're talking about Christmas with my family..... then we put the "fun" in dysfunctional. :)

Even if you're not Christian, this season is a good time for reflection, forgiveness, and random acts of kindness (that should carried out through the year). Honestly, Christmas should be a state of mind, not a date and not presents under the tree.

With that said, this article gets under my skin:


Woman faces fines for wreath peace sign
By ROBERT WELLER, Associated Press Writer
Sun Nov 26, 11:13 PM ET

DENVER - A homeowners association in southwestern Colorado has threatened to fine a resident $25 a day until she removes a Christmas wreath with a peace sign that some say is an anti-Iraq war protest or a symbol of Satan.

Some residents who have complained have children serving in Iraq, said Bob Kearns, president of the Loma Linda Homeowners Association in Pagosa Springs. He said some residents have also believed it was a symbol of Satan. Three or four residents complained, he said."Somebody could put up signs that say drop bombs on Iraq. If you let one go up you have to let them all go up," he said in a telephone interview Sunday.

Lisa Jensen said she wasn't thinking of the war when she hung the wreath. She said, "Peace is way bigger than not being at war. This is a spiritual thing."

Jensen, a past association president, calculates the fines will cost her about $1,000, and doubts they will be able to make her pay. But she said she's not going to take it down until after Christmas."Now that it has come to this I feel I can't get bullied," she said. "What if they don't like my Santa Claus."

The association in this 200-home subdivision 270 miles southwest of Denver has sent a letter to her saying that residents were offended by the sign and the board "will not allow signs, flags etc. that can be considered divisive."

The subdivision's rules say no signs, billboards or advertising are permitted without the consent of the architectural control committee.

Kearns ordered the committee to require Jensen to remove the wreath, but members refused after concluding that it was merely a seasonal symbol that didn't say anything. Kearns fired all five committee members.

Anti-Peace Story on Yahoo

Can someone please explain to be how this peace sign is more offensive than my neighbor's $200 snow-globe that is lit up all night long and his Christmas lights display puts shame to Clark Griswalds?

Cutting down a tree and putting it in your living room? Sounds like something a drunk would do... right after saying, " Here, hold my drink, this will be cool...."

Of course, we can't forget Church lady and all her wisdom..... Santa? Satan? You decide....

Speaking of Satan.... even if the peace sign was a sign of Satan (HUH????), this is America.... we're free to worship as we please.

If they make her take it down, I would make an effort to go around the subdivision and find all the popular (and well known) pagan symbols we use for Christmas, such as the Christmas tree, Elves, Mistletoe, etc. None of that non-Christian non-sense in my subdivision and certainly no international symbols of peace!!! How dare she?????

Seriously, people need to pull that stick out of their ass and worry about things that really flippin' matter.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006

PostHeaderIcon My Uterus Feel Safer Already

Who needs family planning? Not Bush and certainly not his latest Bush appointee Dr. Eric Keroack to oversee the Title X funding for the US.

Dr. K is the medical director for a group called A Womens Concern in Boston. AWC according to their site.... "supports sexual abstinence until marriage, opposes contraception and does not distribute information promoting birth control at its six centers in eastern Massachusetts."

So, basically, the best person in the country to deal with issues of birth control and family planning according to the President, is a person who only believes married people should have sex and only if they want to have a baby, because they can't use birth control.

Thank you Mr. President. My uterus feels safer already.

Understand that it is not healthy, responsible sexual activity that Keroack is promoting. Sex for sex's sake is unwholesome in their book. I'm certain none of them have EVER participated in pre-martial sex or had affairs. We all know conservative, religious right folk don't do that.

People such as Dr. K see sex as a hedonistic and sinful flight from what they perceive as the real purpose of sex. What is being promoted is the idea that sex ought only to exist for married couples who share in God's plan.

"God's plan"? From what I can tell from this administration (which God himself condoned according to Bush) involves procreating for the sole purpose of increasing the numbers of people just like them: anti-science, anti-evolution, anti-choice, pro-war, pro-death-penalty, pro-grammed, and "Christian".

Why did I say "Christian" in quotes? In case you missed my sarcasm, it's because Bush and I might, just might, disagree on what Christians should stand for. I consider myself a Christian, and it amazes me the damage President Bush has done to the reputation and image of Christians. I want to stand up and scream and let people see that not all Christians are so, well, damn backwards.

As a side note in case you don't want to google: What is Title X? Here is a Link to the Office of Population Affairs. In short it is :

The Title X program is the only Federal program devoted solely to the provision of family planning and reproductive health care. The program is designed to provide access to contraceptive supplies and information to all who want and need them with priority given to low-income persons. A broad range of effective and acceptable family planning methods and related preventive health services are available on a voluntary and confidential basis. In addition to contraceptive services and related counseling, Title X supported clinics also provide a number of preventive health services such as: patient education and counseling; breast and pelvic examinations; cervical cancer, STD and HIV screenings; and pregnancy diagnosis and counseling. For many clients, Title X clinics provide the only continuing source of health care and health education.

The Title X program also supports three key functions aimed at assisting clinics in responding to clients needs: (1) training for family planning clinic personnel through general training programs; (2) information dissemination and community-based education and outreach activities; and (3) data collection and research to improve the delivery of family planning services.

The program supports a nationwide network of approximately 4,600 clinics and provides reproductive health services to approximately 5 million persons each year.

Title X funds are critical to maintaining and operating clinics which ensure the availability of family planning services to low-income and uninsured individuals in the United States.

Each year, publicly subsidized family planning services help women avoid an estimated 1.3 million unintended pregnancies. Estimates also show that every public dollar spent for contraceptive services saves an average of $3 in Medicaid costs for pregnancy-related health care and for medical care of newborns.
Saturday, November 18, 2006

PostHeaderIcon In Memory of Jay Walter Rushton

In Loving Memory....

Jay Walter Rushton
May 21, 1942 - Nov 18, 2006

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

PostHeaderIcon Waiting is sometimes the hardest thing.

Waiting for the line to move quicker....

Waiting for your friend to get in town....

Waiting for the plane to take off...

Waiting for it to land....

Waiting for Xmas when you're a kid....

Waiting for it to be over when you're an adult....

Waiting for things to get better....

Waiting for a better time to do things...

Waiting for time to pass....

Waiting for things to pass....

Waiting for people to pass....

Waiting for that moment where you can say all the things you didn't say before it was too late...

Waiting to be ready to let go.....

Waiting for the feeling of not wanting to let go to pass....

Monday, November 06, 2006

PostHeaderIcon Announcing Fay Zelda Felten

She was 3 weeks early, but healthy and happy!

This makes niece/nephew #7 (Angie has 3, Sarah has 3, and now Chris!) and I couldn't be happier and more proud for these two!

For my own amusement, pics of the newest niece:

Becky, Chris, and Fay (though I like the name Zelda!)

That red of a face can only mean one thing.....

My sister Sarah with the proud Mommy and baby

A smiling mom!

The sleeping duo

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

PostHeaderIcon Sharper Image isn't What I thought it was

While browsing Sharper Image online today while looking for a piece of luggage my friend has, I realized a few things...... sharper image just isn't a place for men and their toys. They have so much more to offer....

They bring back versions of our favorite 80s toys. Yes, we had a pair of these and I'm not so sure they're not out in the garage with my brothers Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and GI Joe Sets.

For a mere $29.95, you can relive those childhood memories with the updated version:

Also, when we were kids, if we wanted to play Star Wars, we had to use the tubes from Christmas wrapping paper to be a sword or a lightsaber.

But thanks to sharper image, you don't need that kind of imagination:

Have a stalker on your Christmas list? SI advertises this item as:

Clearly hear conversation-level sounds from a discreet distance of 300 feet!

Turns out, Mom can have fun at sharper image with the wide variety of, *ahem*, personal massagers they have.....

According to Sharper Image:
  • raceful 9-inch personal massager delivers soothing oscillating vibrations whenever and wherever you want to relax, ease tension or just feel good.
  • Powerful-but-quiet single-speed motor is vibration-dampened so massaging action is focused in the soft, flexible, spring-mounted head — and not in your hand.
  • Cordless design never needs batteries.
  • Weighs just 9 oz
Not to mention, you can get a 2year replacement warranty on that. And if the simple massager isn't enough..... they also have an alternative.....

So, what did we learn today kids? Yep, Sharper Image is no longer just for dads.

I never did find the suitcase I was looking for, but found lots of other things that might make it's way under the family Christmas trees this year...... and that sharper image gift certificate isn't just for the gadget geek anymore...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

PostHeaderIcon Award Winning Essayist Sentenced in Drug Case

Stories like this never cease to amuse me. So, because she wrote some essay over a decade ago, this is news? If you wrote down your beliefs at 14 and reread them 10 years later, would you have the same outlook, values, and beliefs? This story is sad, not because of what she did, but because there are 100s more right behind her.....

Award winning anti-drug essayist sentenced in drug case
Thursday October 12 2006 5:32

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A woman who was honored a decade ago for an essay about avoiding drugs and alcohol has been ordered to spend the next decade in federal prison for distributing meth.

Susan M. Gardner, 24, of Independence (yes, folks, Indepedence is the Meth capital of the US), sold methamphetamine to undercover detectives four times and led police on a chase before she was arrested with another package of the drug stuffed in her pants.

In imposing the sentence of 10 years and one month in prison on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Gary Fenner said Gardner had the capacity to live a productive life (everyone has the capacity, some just chose to concentrate their efforts on less legal avenues). But, he said, there was a price she had to pay for her actions.

"You were significantly involved with the distribution of drugs in this community,'' Fenner said. "That's something that has to be taken seriously and cannot be tolerated.''

Fenner said he would recommend that Gardner be sent to a prison where she can enroll in a 500-hour substance-abuse program (why don't all people get this option, or just ones that wrote a cute-essay over a decade ago? Rehab... what a novel idea..... /sarcasm).

Defense attorney Robert Kuchar said it was a "sad situation.''

"We're dealing with a decent young lady who made some bad decisions in her life,'' he said. (*ahem* A bad decision is trying wearing shorts to NV on Friday night, let's call a spade a spade here...)

When Garden was in eighth grade (really, what do you know when you're 14???), the Missouri Peace Officers Association picked her essay as the best of more than 400 other entries, according to news accounts (I can write an essay on almost anything, doesn't mean I believe it. Ask me about my market report on Ethanol pros.).

Gardner declined to speak on her behalf before she was sentenced.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

PostHeaderIcon When the Doorbell Rings, God, I hope it's the Mormons

Tonight is PTO (or PTA in some schools) meeting #2. We're going to be making the final decisions on fund raising for the preschool. Yes, the preschool, which is a completely different financial entity than the k-8 attached to it. So, as I'm sitting in this meeting, the following will be running through my mind....

Last night, my doorbell rings, which causes havoc on the whole house. The cat runs, the dog barks and my daughter starts screeming. It's a lil cub scout selling popcorn tins. Calls me Ma'am. Strike one.

Strike two, little kid (8ish?) walking door to door without a parent at almost-dark. While I realize that is how I sold Girl Scout cookies (like 20 years ago! god I'm old) and we live in the 'burbs, I still hate the idea of this.

I tell him that if he buys the trash bags that our school is selling, I'll buy his over priced popcorn tin. The reply was, "but lady, I don't have any money." Pathetic, but adorable.

I bought it anyway.

Why did I want the Mormon Missionaries instead? They're easier to say no to.

About once a week it seems for the last 2 months, I'm getting hit up for something. Wrapping paper, trash bags, cookies, popcorn, and life insurance. But that was a guy who had a 5o'clock shadow at 11 am on a Saturday. I was less indulging to him than the little cub last night.

Private organization like the cub scouts don't bother me to the same degree as school fund-raising. What's the deal with the schools turning this into a requirement? If you don't sell, they not so subtly let you know they noticed.

What is wrong with the funding to our schools that we HAVE to do this so the teachers can have a microwave in their break room or the teachers can have supplemental supplies?

What if we spent 90 minutes tonight talking about which legislators we could lobby for education reform instead of which fund raiser is next?

What if we went door to door with a petition instead of Catalogs of crapola made by child slave labor in a foreign country?

What if we had the whole meeting at TKs Grill instead of the "after meeting"? Ok, I have no idea how that is socially responsible, but A LOT more fun).

You get the idea.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

PostHeaderIcon This Killed My Horny

Screech and His Porn.

I really meant to write on this last week, but a lot was going on.

I know you've heard about it by now. I know you know it involved a dirty sanchez . I know you know its bad porn.

I mean its one thing when a celebrity does it for their own entertainment and then the tape ends up in the wrong hands (Pamela and Tommy, Paris Hilton and that guy, etc).

It's entirely a different thing though when a celebrity records themselves in an *ahem* intimate moment for the sole purpose of selling it.

While thinking about blogging about this, there were several direction I could take this blog….

Possible Direction #1 - Rant about another example of childhood actors and how they grow up to be such losers.

Possible Direction #2 - Pure Economics. Marketing and production are about supply and demand. He supplied the tape, but where is the demand? The show was canceled in 1997. Are there a bunch of screech groupies demanding this type of paraphernalia?

Possible Direction #3 – Was the "dirty sanchez" purely urban legend until he decided to act on it? After watching the "40 year old Virgin", I admit, I had to wiki it just to find out what it meant. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Wiki is also good for other information such as: In the May 2006 issue of Stuff magazine the readers voted Diamond the 3rd most annoying former child actor that they would like to punch in the face. He was beaten by former child stars Danny Bonaduce and Corey Feldman.

Possible Direction #4 – Don't give you kids a porn name from the beginning. Which is worse? Screech or Dustin Diamond? Do you know your porn name? (If you get your first pets name and put it after the first street's name where you lived, you come up with a great porno name.)

(ok, not sure what this has to do with porn name, other than I googled it and this was in the top 10 results!)

Possible Direction #5 – Where does this porn rank among porn for purely entertainment value? Above bestiality but below midgets? You tell me…..

(golf award found when I google "porn award", also humorous)

Lastly, we all know the age-old question about if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound.? Along that line.…. If you make porn and no one watches it…… is it really porn? Or just a sex tape no one wants to see?

Saturday, September 30, 2006

PostHeaderIcon Being a Hero

Whatever you do, you need courage. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are different kinds of heroes. There are ones that get all the recognition are on the news and who people talk about. Most heroes are quiet, and don't get the recongition they deserve.

Some might say my Grandfather was a hero because of his actions in WW2. We was officially injured 9 times. He earned a purple heart and a few other awards and metals for bravery and other acts. (I need to write down which ones). They are in a shadow box on the living room wall in my grandparents house. Being on the beach in Normandy and surviving is an act of heroism (and in his case, a lot of luck). But that is not the reason I think he's a hero.

He's a hero because despite a lifetime of hardship (most of it due to physical problems incurred from his injuries and would affect him the rest of his life), he was the most upbeat and optimistic person I know.

I could count on one hand how many times he said something negative about another person. He took pride in working and working hard. He took pride in his family and they were his life. His pride shows in his workmanship, as he has made over 2 dozen clocks that still hang in their home.

At the end, he could barely see and could barely hear. You never heard him complain and he was always worried about others, especially his wife. His grandchildren and great-grandchildren brought him enormous joy. The last time I saw him before we went to the hospital, he grabbed my arm and pointed at my grandmother who was passing through the room and said, "there goes my angel."

I know there were days where the pain had to have been almost too much as the cancer spread. Each day he got up and each day he found the silver lining. In his earlier years, it must have been frustrating to work with hearing loss and other physical problems from the war. Life sometimes gets you down, but Grandpa would never let it show when it did.

He had every reason in the world to be bitter, but instead he rejoiced in his life, his family, his faith, and the small things around him and always uplifted those who knew him.

He was a hero to everyone who knew him.

"Courage doesn't always roar.Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying,I will try again tomorrow."

1947 Engagement Picture

55 years together.........

Collage at his funeral..........

Saturday, September 16, 2006

PostHeaderIcon ACLU or PTO?

Last Tues, a good friend of mine went to the monthly meeting of ACLU2.... where did I end up on a fine Tuesday night?

My first PTO meeting.

So, here's the breakdown.

~Only one dad showed up and he was married. Men, join your local PTO if you want to be outnumbered 25 to 1. I'm sure I wasn't the only single parent there!

~4 out of 5 women wear mom-jeans. I mean seriously, the jeans don't have to be exactly on your natural waist-line....... but according to the GAP ads I get in my email, tapered jeans are coming back, so a lot of these women are ahead of the style.... trend-setters if you will.

~ only 1 out of 10 women look under 30, but seriously, if I can't have a conversation with you about how I think the Simpsons are politically funny and the last weeks festival at Grinders.... not sure what else we are going to talk about. I don't scrapbook, buy tupperware, and would have rather discussed community involvement of our school (can we make pre-schoolers do community service?????) than which company is going to do school pics this year.

~People are passionate about PRE-SCHOOL pto. hmmmmmm????? Is this there little way of having a niche when you stay at home everyday? You become the fund-raising nazi for your cul-de-sac? Not saying staying at home isn't work.... in fact, it's probably harder than my job, but everyone has a need to feel needed, and I think PTO fills that need for some.

~ Catholic schools do A LOT of fund-raisers..... why do I pay $600+ per month????? Plus, how many times can I hit you up for Entertainment books, wrapping paper, candles, cookie dough, and trash bags? I'd rather just write a $30 check everytime and not mess with it.

~ I was only of only a handful of non-catholics there .... by obvious lack of signing before the prayers.... In fact, I'm proably one of the few Protestants that really isn't into praying (which is a whole other blog). Why do I send my daughter there? Hands down (for the money) the best preschool in the area. Her teachers ROCK!

~ There was too much estrogen in the room, I'm not into cattiness. You could tell by the level of eye-rolling and arm-crossing, there is some history here. I'm trying to decide if I want to stay clear or just jump in and annoy people because I'm new and don't know how "it's the way we've always done it". I could care less if I'm liked or not. I think that is an asset.

~ Next time I need a sitter, as I guess it's custom to head to T.K.s after each meeting. I was told it wasn't kosher to leave abby in the car. (I wonder if she knew I was joking?). So, obviously, it's going to cost me $30 in sitter fees to go, because I have to see what women who only get out one night per month talk about..... better not be tupperware.

Overall, not as bad as I thought, but glad it's only once a month.

Why will I go back? I think it annoys "that crowd" when new people come in and mix up the pot.

I want to be the unusual PTO-er.
Monday, September 11, 2006

PostHeaderIcon Yet Another Blog on How my Daughter Makes me Feel Inadequate

Last night in the car, my daughter started crying for no apparant reason. So, I turned down the radio and asked her what was wrong.

"I don't want to go to school tomorrow."

"whys that, baby?"

" I want to spend time with you. "

"honey, you know mama has to go to work and you go to school. we can play together after school."

"but mama, that's not enough time. can you change your schedule and make time?"

::::: heart breaking :::::

Except for a 2 month vacation I took in 2003 (when we went to Germany), I have never been home FT with her. She should be used to this schedule, but obviously not. With her starting kindergarten next year, I'm fully aware this would be my last year to stay home with her but that's just not an option.

Among women, there is no quicker way to start a cat-fight than to say, "staying at home is better for your kids than working" or some variation of that. SAHMs (stay-at-home-moms) will accuse working moms of not caring about the welfare of their child and being femi-nazis (I thought feminism was about choice?). Working-Moms will accuse SAHMs of various sorts of things as well.

That completely random conversation with Abby though brings back a lot of guilt I have and a feeling of inadequacy that (for me) only comes from when I feel like I've let her down......

Friday, August 25, 2006

PostHeaderIcon Whoa! When did this Happen?


I'm old.

I went to register for school this week at UMKC ..... all the "kids" sitting at the counter at admissions were 18, and I felt like I was 80. I could just tell they were probably thinking.... she's too old to be here.

Truth be known I felt too old.

Also, I joined the PTO of where my daughter attends pre-school this week.
I also don't feel old enough to be there.

I'm doing a fundraiser for my daughters school. Yes, I'm one of those annoying people that will hit you up to buy an Entertainment book.

actually I probably won't.  I'm too lazy to do all the ordering and collecting.

All of a sudden, I feel old. Moms are supposed to be older, wiser, wear "mom-jeans" and cut coupons. 

ok, I cut coupons, but it's the combination of all the above.  right? right??  please say yes.

Not uncertain about life, unorganized, and still looking for love (yes, in proably all the wrong places).

I can't be old, I was just at a party last weekend, where someone thought it was fun to bring jello-shots. I still like going to hear live music at the (old) Hurricane, Lawerence, etc.

I watch adult-swim for goodness sake!!!!! Those are cartoons.....

The PTO????? What was I thinking?


Monday, August 21, 2006

PostHeaderIcon Making Hissssssssstory........

Snakes on Crack.

Snakes on a Crotch.

Snakes on a Nipple.

Snakes on a Plane.

Whatever you want to call it.....

Let me start off by admitting I had zero interest in seeing this, but the person who picked it out wanted to see it badly, so I figure why not? He deserves it.

I have to thank my friend who convinced me to go.... he was right - it was great. I see a cult favorite in the making and I'll be able to say I saw it on opening night. I was expecting a "b movie" experience and it was no such thing.

I've never been to a theater where it was such an interactive experience.... the crowd cheered, they clapped, and all together said, "awe" at the right moment when the honeymooners were talking.

Other times the entire theater cheered and clapped:
- When the movie started
-When "Snakes on a Plane" appeared on screen
-When Samuel L. Jackson appeared on screen (Stay with me if you want to live)
-At the first sight of snakes
-When the plane took off
-When the first attack happened
-When the rest of the attacks happened
-When Samuel L. tazered the snakes
- When Samuel L. said "The Line"
-When the plane landed
- When the movie ended

What an amazing experience. Not a renter, you really need to grab a large group and go.

If you go see it, stick around for the music video at the end.... it's the best of the worst, yet completes the movie. I'm going to buy the soundtrack.

The fact it was the best selling movie of the weekend, is a big "f-you" to all the marketing execs and advertising types everywhere. They are always trying to figure out the demographics to advertise to, this movie was strictly internet-born and internet-fueled.

Rumor has it that Samuel L. took the script based on the name alone. Here is a small part of that interview:

Why do I care? Because I love SNAKES ON A PLANE. Love it. It makes me giggle like the fat, lazy schoolgirl I am.

3 Here's why:Some months ago my agent called me (we'll call him...Agent). Agent says: "New Line's got a project they want you to look at. They're making the movie. They love it. It needs a little work."Now when a studio tells you something needs "a little work" what that really means is "maybe it needs a little work, maybe it needs a lotta work, maybe you should tell us how much work it needs...but we want to make this movie so let's all just agree that no matter how much work it is, we'll call it 'a little work'".

I ask Agent the name of the project, what it's about, etc. He says: Snakes on a Plane. Holy shit, I'm thinking. It's a title. It's a concept. It's a poster and a logline and whatever else you need it to be. It's perfect. Perfect. It's the Everlasting Gobstopper of movie titles.

I say to Agent: "Tell me nothing else. Get me the script and put me on the phone with those lucky bastards at New Line Cinema!"

If that doesnt make you want to see it, how about this review from the NYTimes?
"Naughty by nature or perhaps more by design, these snakes don't just dart out of toilets; they also slide up bare legs and under dresses, moving in and out of more bodily orifices than the adult-film star Ron Jeremy did in his prime."

A few graphics for your amusement:

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

PostHeaderIcon All together, everyone say.... "awe!"

Originally posted on myspace.com on August 16, 2006

Ok, I like to share when my daughter does things that makes me seriously consider my worth as a parent. Thoughts such as "if I was a good parent, she wouldn't do things like {fill in the blank the evil of the day}". We all know that is crap, but kids have a way of making you think that way.

There's a lot of great things going on in my life right now, and things like this only make it better (at least for the moment).

Last night when I tucked her in for the 4th time..... she kissed me on the forehead and said, "Mama, when I grow up, can you teach me to be a mom like you?"

:::: wipe tear :::::

I wish I would have had a video camera handy and would be able to show her that clip in 10 years when she screams at me, "I'll NEVER be like you!"
Thursday, August 10, 2006

PostHeaderIcon Mandela, Iraq, and a few thoughts (originally posted 08-10-2006)

originally posted on myspace on August 10, 2006

Nelson Mandela wrote:

"Mankind as whole is today standing on the threshold of great events - events that at times seem to threaten its very existence. On the one hand are those groups, parties, or persons that are prepared to go to war in defense of colonialism, imperialism, and their profits. These groups, at the head of which stands the ruling circles in America, are determined to perpetuate a permanent atmosphere of crisis and fear in the world.

Knowing that a frightened world cannot think clearly, these groups attempt to create conditions under which the common men might be inveigled into supporting the building of more and more atomic bombs, bacteriological weapons, and other instruments of mass destruction. "

This was in 1951 (speaking to the Annual Conference of the African National Congress Youth League), it is almost as if he was anticipating todays nature of the war on Iraq.

Today, our government keeps us in a State of Fear. As I said in a previous blog, "Daily in the news we hear about our phone records being gathered, ease dropping without warrants, and even our library records. After the Patriot Act was passed, a book club I belong to will not keep your previous orders (supposedly) on record more than 90 days. Simply because if compelled, they would have to release those records. If they don't have them, there is nothing to give to the government. "

People sit back and allow these actions believing that it will be for the greater good of our country. If we allow our liberties to be taken away, is that not passively allowing the same type of government that we aggressively sought to destroy in Iraq?

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
~ Benjamin Franklin(1706 - 1790)

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.
~Thomas Jefferson to Archibald Stuart, 1791

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

PostHeaderIcon You know you live in the US when....

You know you live in the US when we worry about our pets being fat.

The cover story for this weeks issue of PetFood Industry (yes, I do get to read exciting stuff for work) is:

Portion Control Fights Obesity

originally posted on myspace.com on August 9, 2006

You know you live in the US when we worry about our pets being fat.

The cover story for this weeks issue of PetFood Industry (yes, I do get to read exciting stuff for work) is:

Portion Control Fights Obesity

Really Sherlock??????

The article goes on to say that pets (specifically dogs in this article) that are obese have shorter life spans than those who aren't. Hmmmmm... who would have guessed? They also recommend that your dog get regular exercise. No more "The Simple Life" for Fido after dinner!

Humans have BMI to let us know if we're packing on extra pounds..... thanks to the Nestle Purina Pet Care Center, pets now have the BCS, Body Condition System. It's a method to tell if your pet is fat.

The concluding paragraph starts with, "You must remember, the most common cause of obesity in dogs is overfeeding coupled with inactivity." It goes on to urge manufacturers to educate consumers on portion control and clear feeding guidelines. Only in America are the pets as fat as their owners.

Do us all a favor, after you're done with your meal, why don't the both of you go for a walk? After all, man's best friend needs it as much as you I'm guessing.
Monday, August 07, 2006

PostHeaderIcon War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength

We all knew Big Brother was here, but now it's even easier to access.

Wait until criminals get ahold of this and notice you're on vacation 3 states away.... time to come over and load up their van.

I know there's a joke in here somewhere about psycho-girlfriends, but I'm really too disturbed by this to make a light-hearted joke.

If we all don't start to put an end to what the government (and these cash greedy private firms) are beginning (the extermination of ANY privacy and rights we as American Citizens have) then the Orwell Novel 1984 will more than be fiction.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006

PostHeaderIcon Mel's Passion for the Booze

originally posted on myspace.com on Aug 1, 2006

On one hand, I feel bad for celebrities. They have no privacy. Every little affair, drug rehab visit, prostitution soliciting and DUI arrest gets publicized. On the other hand, they get paid more than the GDP of most small African countries to (barely) entertain us. I figure the publicity is fair trade-off (most of the time). Deal with it.

Not many of us have to come out with a public apology for being arrested for DUIs. Personally, I have never been arrested for one (by luck alone I'll admit), but have picked up a few friends from the county hole for that reason. Let me tell you, they ALL act contrite and NONE of them were spewing hate-speech.

Mel Gibson has a problem. Not only has he admitted to being an alcoholic (which that in itself if not my beef), but obviously he's anti-semantic as well. The first clue should have been his S&M Jesus flick from a few years ago, but the second clue came this weekend during his arrest. He wasn't too

He was obviously drunk enough (0.12%) for his common-sense filter to be non-functioning (and admit it, you've been drunk enough for your filter to shut down too) and rant about how Jews have started all wars. Not to mention, he yelled, "What do you think you're looking at, sugar tits?" to a female officer. Allegedly.

Because of his celebrity status and Americans infatuation with celebrities, it's important that we don't abandon Mel in his time of need. Despite being a sexist and racist, he does lead a virtuous and wholeome Catholic life. [if you missed the sarcasm here, please just hit back] Whatever you do, don't question his mental stability. Just agree with him. Otherwise, he might go into a mental state that makes him think making another Lethal Weapon sequel is a good idea (ok, I admit, I liked the first one). After all, if Sly can make a comeback **cough cough** with Rocky, so can Mel.

But before we jump to many conclusions based on tabloid reporting, we should have an independent source verify the information. Let's ask Mels dad. First, you always call your dad to bail you out, right? So, I'm sure he knows the details of the arrest. Secondly, his dad is known for his fountain of knowledge. After all, he's the one that convinced the world that the holocaust never happened.

On a lighter note, if you locked up Tom Cruise and Mel Gibson in the same padded room and did a celebrity death-match between those two crazies, who do you think would win?
Monday, July 31, 2006

PostHeaderIcon My Religion Has a Bigger Dick than Your Religion

originally posted on myspace.com on July 31, 2006

This is what happens when we let men run the countries. We have conflicts, wars, police actions, etc. All because of testosterone posturing. Yes, folks, they have to prove to the world who is bigger.

Slap your religion behind your cause, and all of a sudden, your position is supposed to have validity, and the bombing is done because its Gods will. God hates those infidels across the border in case you didn't know.

A few random thoughts about God, war, and religion....

1) When it comes to killing in the name of your God, I especially get my panties in a wad. First of all, how do you KNOW you're right? Did God personally come down and tell you to kill those infidels across the border?

2) When God speaks to you, it's a good idea to listen.

3) When someone tells you God spoke to them though, it's a good idea to double-check. Here are a few examples:
~ David Koresh & the need to stockpile more ammunition than Ft. Bragg
~ that Utah polygamy-guy on the FBIs most wanted
~ and our current President who said God wanted him to win I always thought of God as more of a Libertarian.

I think religion is great and serves a purpose in many peoples lives. It gives purpose, direction, guidance, support, and a center they can come to when life gets crazy.

I also think it can be taken too far (and becomes a negative in life) and when it takes away a persons ability to think independently. Religion should be to enrich your life, not dictate every thought and action.

Killing in the name of religion is one of the most revolting things I can think of. Both sides pray to the same God before they go off to kill each other. In spite of the many differences among Christians, Jews, and Muslims, they share a fundamental belief in God as compassionate and just. Maybe a little less posturing and a little more compassion gets us back to where all religions think we should be.
Monday, July 24, 2006

PostHeaderIcon why wait until tomorrow?

I have a friend who 's dear to me......... and who would jump through any hoop for me. The kind of friend who's always in the background, but nevertheless is always by your side. I guess that's why I put off going to lunch and replying to emails as quickly as I should.... I knew he'd always be there for me.

Then you learn that people aren't always meant to be in your lives forever and all of a sudden everytime you said, "I'll call him tomorrow" comes rushing back and you realize that tomorrow should have been "right now" and those moments will never come back and will be a weight on me for a long time to come.

How do you even begin to apologize what you should have done? If you try to make up for lost time in only 2 or 3 weeks that you have with that person, does that make you a hypocrite, because you weren't putting forth the same effort before? Does it have the same meaning as a phone call a month ago just to see how someone is doing? I don't think so.... I think it reeks of shallowness and I'm embarrassed by it.

Friday, July 21, 2006

PostHeaderIcon A simple lesson in supply and demand

originally posted on July 27, 2006 on myspace.com

Ok, let me tell you.... somedays I have the best job (great for flexility) and some days the worst (when you shut down the plant of the world's largest poultry processor for 3 hours and it's 100% on you).

Let me explain to you, one of those days that fall between the extremes. Apparently, very few people (including my own customers) understand the huge world of agriculture (how we get bread on your table and food to Fido). As we are sitting in the middle of an apparent "drought", everyone wants to tell me the best course of action I could have taken to avoid the current shortages of certain commodities.

It is VERY imperative to understand that hindsight is 20/20 and your monday-morning-quarterbacking isn't getting your product to you any quicker. Get it???? When was the last time a monday-morning-quarterback won the superbowl? Yeah, that's what I thought.

A few customers have offered several solutions to the current supply problem, but unforunately are not grounded in reality. While I appreciate the "help", your quarterbacking and advice does not make it happen. If NO product is available, then how do you suggest I pull more supply out of my *ahem* ear???

Also, offering me more money for a product I do not have, and frankly may not be in existence (think : drought), also does not increase supply or your chances of having more product by next Wednesday. If you're pissed, sorry. I've kissed your ass, offered you substitutes (when applicable), but if it is the lowest supply we've seen in 17 years, then take my word for it.... you're not the only one going without.

I've been doing this 9 years. Not always well, and sometimes really well, but I know what the hell I'm doing. Back off. I don't have a secret supply, and I'm not giving it to your competitor because I'm trying to make your life miserable. IT DOESN'T EXIST!!! And as the year goes on, the problem will get worse.

It's a lot like the current situation with gas. Yeah, the price sucks and we're pissed, but why complaint to the QT cashier? I'm the cashier in the Ag world, but I have no control over supply, just like the QT-dude can't set the price of gas.

I'm not getting rich with the said venture. I make enough to pay my bills and give Abigail little adventures here and there (ballet lessons, swim lessons, trip to the zoo, and the occassional trip on a plane).

Quess what??? I also work commission, so if I can't ship you a product, I don't get paid. So trust me when I say, I'm working hard to find it for you.

So, when you decide to take it out on my about the drought and the lack of product you need, really, please, yell at God or some other person that you find is a little more directly responsible for the current situation than I am.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006

PostHeaderIcon Time Heals All Wounds and Make the Detail Fuzzy

You wake up one day and realize that when you think about someone it doesn't (quite) hurt anymore.... and you can smile and remember things fondly rather than with a wince of regret.

Other details though have started to slip (was it the Chilean or S African wine he liked better?) , and then you realize that somewhere along the way you've moved on and you're ok when you thought (and swore over and over) you would never be. I can't tell you the moment or even which month things became "ok" but it just hit me over the weekend that they are when someone asked me about him.

Doesn't mean I don't live with regret, but it's now moved into the category of a "learning experience." (if it can be that). You know what they say, "if it doesn't kill you...... "

PostHeaderIcon 29 things I've learned in 29 (or so) years

Just some random-lack-of-sleep-musings: (and I never spell-check)

1. Most things I need today really were things I learned in Kindergarten
2. Life goes on, whether you want it to or not.
3. Keeping in shape physically is important to mental health too.
4. A little prayer never hurt anyone.
5. As much as I like to think I can do everything on my own and don't need help - - without the help of my family and friends, I don't know where I'd be today.
6. Religion can be as much of a curse to someone as it can be a blessing to someone else.
7. Accept your past, without it, you wouldn't be who you are today (or learn from your past and become who you want to be today).
8. Unlearning is sometimes as important as learning.
9. You have to take care of yourself first (not necessarily put yourself first though). You cant fill the cups of your family & friends if youre an empty pitcher (aka running on empty)
10. I can be open-minded without changing my core beliefs.
11. Its better to be pro-active rather than re-active.
12. Sometimes you need to just sit and be (be comfortable with yourself and not being entertained). If you loose your center you will always be off balance.
13. You should make it a point to read often and a wide variety of topics.
14. Having kids is the best life-changing experience that has happened to me.
15. Having kids is not for everyone.
16. While going to college does not make you smarter (explain to me how drinking for years on end, buying term papers, probably having unprotected sex, and being hungover for class makes you smarter than a non-college go-er) it is important in the scheme of things when it comes to getting a job (exceptions apply).
17. Stuff happens. Really. Deal with it and learn from it and move on.
18. Carpe Diem exists for a reason. For what you seize is truly what you get.
19. You should always make time for play time.
20. Your idea of happiness is probably not what will make you happy. Stop putting so much expectations of what will make you happy and just BE happy.
21. If you can't learn to let go sometimes, all that weight will keep you from moving forward.
22. You can not make someone fall in love with you. If you have to try, then you're not being yourself, and why would you want someone who doesn't love you for who you are anyway????
23. Laughter is the best medicine. Being able to laugh at yourself is also important.
24. What I am watching is not nearly as important as how I am watching it. How you watch an event (life?) can shift your very soul and change who you are.
25. Have a hobby. Seriously.
26. Don't keep doing the same thing and expect different results (Einstein was right)
27. Trying things that you normally wouldn't (even if you didn't end up liking it) is always good for your growth.
28. Sometimes life gives you a second (and sometimes more) chance. Don't give up.
29. Life is the ultimate road-trip (and maybe ending up somewhere where you didn't intend, is the best part of the trip).

Add yours if you feel the need :)
Tuesday, July 11, 2006

PostHeaderIcon New Name, Old Style (thanks Gap)

I love my flare jeans.... and I'm not giving them up for the 80s/90s tapered look. I got an email ad today from the Gap introducing their new "silhoutte jeans". Call them what you want, but let's leave the 80s in the 80s. here's a partial to the ad:

Monday, July 10, 2006

PostHeaderIcon I wanna Be a Part-Time Mommy!

Yes. This is directed at a friend of a friend.. and it's on the verge of being catty..... no apologies here.

I'll be the first to admit I'm not the best parent in the world. Once in awhile I wish Abby was at her dads so I can have a moment of peace (4yos can ask a LOT of questions). I have a bad habit of saying damn in front of her (I'm trying to quit). I don't always cook her vegetables for every meal. Sometimes I absolutely dread having one more tea party. There are occasions where I find parenting mundane, boring, and tedious.

Don't get me wrong, it's the best thing in my life and the good moments (so far) have outnumbered the bad, but to say every moment is joyous is a crock.

What I don't get.... parents who think their right to happiness supersedes their obligation to parenting. A few examples:

** Weekend warrior dads (granted, sometimes that isn't their fault).
** Single moms who have various guys stay over randomly when their kids are at home (:::cough, cough :::: Elizabeth)
** Deadbeat dads (putting up with the mom, payments, and a kid just cramp their lifestyle I guess)
** Women who will move to pursue a better job/life/husband/etc and leave their kids in care of the father several states away.

The last example, I am not saying dads are not capable of taking care of their daughters..... not it at all. But to claim that there is no opportunity (job / school/ love life / etc) and to move hours away from your little kid(s) just so you can pursue a new job and a new life I don't get.

Do you think your kids only need you on the occasional weekend? the occasional good night call? only on summer and holiday breaks?

Being a parent is more than making sure they have a roof and food, it's about nurturing and fostering development. I don't see how than can be done long distance. Selfishness is rampant today in all aspects of our society, but especially evident in parenting. Where did you get the idea you have a right to be happy while sacrificing your obligation to parent your child?

Just because I gave up a lot with respect to some personal decisions (** sigh **) and my job, doesn't mean everyone should. It amazes me how flippant of a decision it is for some women (and to an extent, men).

Did you think when you got pregnant that this would be a part-time job?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

PostHeaderIcon Kids Say the Dardest Things

TMI here, but my embarrassment is your amusement.......

As we are hanging out on our blanket watching fireworks tonight, Abby wants to sit on my lap. I'm wearing capris and she rubs up against my leg and says loud enough for the 5-6 surrounding blankets to hear :

Wow Mom! Your legs are prickly.... you should have shaved today.

Yes friends, I love that little girl.....
Friday, June 30, 2006

PostHeaderIcon Training a dolphin and a 4year old

originally posted on myspace.com on June 30, 2006

As I'm reading the following article, I'm thinking that maybe animal behavior is universal, it's just humans complicate it (and then women tend to read too much into it. lol). It was written about her husband, but as I read the article ideas for Abigail kept jumping out at me.

I consider myself a very lucky parent. You see, I didn't have the terrible-two, or the trantrum-threes, I thought I was an exceptionally great parent with the best kid in the world. Turns out, as I've stated before, God has a sense of humor. I have a daughter who is going through the (as I named it), the hysterical-fours.

EVERYTHING is a drama. First of all, everything is in the extremes... a few examples:

~ "Mom, you NEVER play with me."
~ "Mama, we ALWAYS eat this."
~ ::sniffling:: "Mama, NOBODY at school wants to play with me"
~ (my favorite) "I'll NEVER play with you again"

You get the idea.

Secondly, as you can read in my brother's blog from yesterday, she's turned into a bi-polar devil child on a good day. One minute we'll be having a tea-party having fun and then somehow I'll play the game wrong, and she will start screaming, her heads will spin around 50 times, and she becomes "kevin's daughter" (my daughter doesn't act that way! haha).

I'm not so sure how I'm doing on this whole "parenting-thing". Abigail was the first diaper I ever changed. I have no little cousins or anything I ever had to opportunity to help with. Our first day home, Kevin brought me home from the hospital, dropped me off, and went back to work. I was home alone with this baby who really had no clue what she was in for (and frankly, neither did I). I laid her in her bassinet, stared at her, and muttered to myself.... one of us will not make it through the next week. LOL. It's scary to be in charge of the welfare of another human.

So, when she has these fits or refuses to do her chores....I've tried literally taking away every toy in her room and putting it into a trash bag She's definitely her father's *ahem* daughter, because there is NO WAY I'm that stubborn. She'll just look at me and say, "I don't care. I don't like that doll anyway." or "I didn't want to go to the playground.... I like staying in my room." It's gotten interesting in the last 6 months.

Can I please go back and have the terrible twos and just glide through the 4s?????

I'm sure just as I learned to change a diaper one-handed, I'll figure out this discipline thing. Hopefully in the end I dont' have a ungrateful, spoiled, little brat who does not appreciate her family, her blongings, or the world around her.

So, reading this article, gave me some ideas, and some chuckles, and I hope you it interesting as well.

Until then..... anyone want to babysit??????

What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage - NYTIMES
Amy Sutherland is the author of "Kicked, Bitten and Scratched: Life and Lessons at the Premier School for Exotic Animal Trainers" (Viking, June 2006). She lives in Boston and in Portland, Me.

AS I wash dishes at the kitchen sink, my husband paces behind me, irritated. "Have you seen my keys?" he snarls, then huffs out a loud sigh and stomps from the room with our dog, Dixie, at his heels, anxious over her favorite human's upset.

In the past I would have been right behind Dixie. I would have turned off the faucet and joined the hunt while trying to soothe my husband with bromides like, "Don't worry, they'll turn up." But that only made him angrier, and a simple case of missing keys soon would become a full-blown angst-ridden drama starring the two of us and our poor nervous dog.

Now, I focus on the wet dish in my hands. I don't turn around. I don't say a word. I'm using a technique I learned from a dolphin trainer.I love my husband. He's well read, adventurous and does a hysterical rendition of a northern Vermont accent that still cracks me up after 12 years of marriage.

But he also tends to be forgetful, and is often tardy and mercurial. He hovers around me in the kitchen asking if I read this or that piece in The New Yorker when I'm trying to concentrate on the simmering pans. He leaves wadded tissues in his wake. He suffers from serious bouts of spousal deafness but never fails to hear me when I mutter to myself on the other side of the house. "What did you say?" he'll shout.

These minor annoyances are not the stuff of separation and divorce, but in sum they began to dull my love for Scott. I wanted needed to nudge him a little closer to perfect, to make him into a mate who might annoy me a little less, who wouldn't keep me waiting at restaurants, a mate who would be easier to love.

So, like many wives before me, I ignored a library of advice books and set about improving him. By nagging, of course, which only made his behavior worse: he'd drive faster instead of slower; shave less frequently, not more; and leave his reeking bike garb on the bedroom floor longer than ever.

We went to a counselor to smooth the edges off our marriage. She didn't understand what we were doing there and complimented us repeatedly on how well we communicated. I gave up. I guessed she was right our union was better than most and resigned myself to stretches of slow-boil resentment and occasional sarcasm.

Then something magical happened. For a book I was writing about a school for exotic animal trainers, I started commuting from Maine to California, where I spent my days watching students do the seemingly impossible: teaching hyenas to pirouette on command, cougars to offer their paws for a nail clipping, and baboons to skateboard.I listened, rapt, as professional trainers explained how they taught dolphins to flip and elephants to paint.

Eventually it hit me that the same techniques might work on that stubborn but lovable species, the American husband.

The central lesson I learned from exotic animal trainers is that I should reward behavior I like and ignore behavior I don't. After all, you don't get a sea lion to balance a ball on the end of its nose by nagging. The same goes for the American husband.

Back in Maine, I began thanking Scott if he threw one dirty shirt into the hamper. If he threw in two, I'd kiss him. Meanwhile, I would step over any soiled clothes on the floor without one sharp word, though I did sometimes kick them under the bed. But as he basked in my appreciation, the piles became smaller.

I was using what trainers call "approximations," rewarding the small steps toward learning a whole new behavior. You can't expect a baboon to learn to flip on command in one session, just as you can't expect an American husband to begin regularly picking up his dirty socks by praising him once for picking up a single sock. With the baboon you first reward a hop, then a bigger hop, then an even bigger hop. With Scott the husband, I began to praise every small act every time: if he drove just a mile an hour slower, tossed one pair of shorts into the hamper, or was on time for anything.

I also began to analyze my husband the way a trainer considers an exotic animal. Enlightened trainers learn all they can about a species, from anatomy to social structure, to understand how it thinks, what it likes and dislikes, what comes easily to it and what doesn't. For example, an elephant is a herd animal, so it responds to hierarchy. It cannot jump, but can stand on its head. It is a vegetarian.

The exotic animal known as Scott is a loner, but an alpha male. So hierarchy matters, but being in a group doesn't so much. He has the balance of a gymnast, but moves slowly, especially when getting dressed. Skiing comes naturally, but being on time does not. He's an omnivore, and what a trainer would call food-driven.

Once I started thinking this way, I couldn't stop. At the school in California, I'd be scribbling notes on how to walk an emu or have a wolf accept you as a pack member, but I'd be thinking, "I can't wait to try this on Scott."

On a field trip with the students, I listened to a professional trainer describe how he had taught African crested cranes to stop landing on his head and shoulders. He did this by training the leggy birds to land on mats on the ground. This, he explained, is what is called an "incompatible behavior," a simple but brilliant concept.

Rather than teach the cranes to stop landing on him, the trainer taught the birds something else, a behavior that would make the undesirable behavior impossible. The birds couldn't alight on the mats and his head simultaneously.

At home, I came up with incompatible behaviors for Scott to keep him from crowding me while I cooked. To lure him away from the stove, I piled up parsley for him to chop or cheese for him to grate at the other end of the kitchen island. Or I'd set out a bowl of chips and salsa across the room. Soon I'd done it: no more Scott hovering around me while I cooked.

I followed the students to SeaWorld San Diego, where a dolphin trainer introduced me to least reinforcing syndrome (L. R. S.). When a dolphin does something wrong, the trainer doesn't respond in any way. He stands still for a few beats, careful not to look at the dolphin, and then returns to work. The idea is that any response, positive or negative, fuels a behavior. If a behavior provokes no response, it typically dies away.

In the margins of my notes I wrote, "Try on Scott!"

It was only a matter of time before he was again tearing around the house searching for his keys, at which point I said nothing and kept at what I was doing. It took a lot of discipline to maintain my calm, but results were immediate and stunning. His temper fell far shy of its usual pitch and then waned like a fast-moving storm. I felt as if I should throw him a mackerel.

Now he's at it again; I hear him banging a closet door shut, rustling through papers on a chest in the front hall and thumping upstairs. At the sink, I hold steady. Then, sure enough, all goes quiet. A moment later, he walks into the kitchen, keys in hand, and says calmly, "Found them."

Without turning, I call out, "Great, see you later."

Off he goes with our much-calmed pup.

After two years of exotic animal training, my marriage is far smoother, my husband much easier to love. I used to take his faults personally; his dirty clothes on the floor were an affront, a symbol of how he didn't care enough about me. But thinking of my husband as an exotic species gave me the distance I needed to consider our differences more objectively.

I adopted the trainers' motto: "It's never the animal's fault." When my training attempts failed, I didn't blame Scott. Rather, I brainstormed new strategies, thought up more incompatible behaviors and used smaller approximations. I dissected my own behavior, considered how my actions might inadvertently fuel his. I also accepted that some behaviors were too entrenched, too instinctive to train away. You can't stop a badger from digging, and you can't stop my husband from losing his wallet and keys.

PROFESSIONALS talk of animals that understand training so well they eventually use it back on the trainer. My animal did the same. When the training techniques worked so beautifully, I couldn't resist telling my husband what I was up to. He wasn't offended, just amused. As I explained the techniques and terminology, he soaked it up. Far more than I realized.

Last fall, firmly in middle age, I learned that I needed braces. They were not only humiliating, but also excruciating. For weeks my gums, teeth, jaw and sinuses throbbed. I complained frequently and loudly. Scott assured me that I would become used to all the metal in my mouth. I did not.

One morning, as I launched into yet another tirade about how uncomfortable I was, Scott just looked at me blankly. He didn't say a word or acknowledge my rant in any way, not even with a nod.

I quickly ran out of steam and started to walk away. Then I realized what was happening, and I turned and asked, "Are you giving me an L. R. S.?" Silence. "You are, aren't you?"

He finally smiled, but his L. R. S. has already done the trick. He'd begun to train me, the American wife.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006

PostHeaderIcon Random Thoughts on Being a Control Freak

originally posted on myspace.com on June 27, 2006

Ok, if you ever read any of my bulletins or remotely know me.... you know I've done a lot of crap in my life, and remarkably, regret very little of it. And even the stuff I regret, led me on the road to where I am today, and I love my life. I may not like every aspect of it, but I'm very content right now.

In retrospect, I'm glad I had Abby at 25, or I probably would have done something dumb and died before now. Anyway, I like who I am and glad for the experiences I had, because once you become a parent (if you're a good one at least), you can't keep up the same lifestyle. I am a better person for all those experiences.

For years, I was impulsive, but now (this shouldn't surprise any of my friends) the older I get, the less I like surprises. I like planning out the meals for the next two weeks, I like knowing what I'm going to wear next day, I like knowing a week ahead what's going on next weekend..... maybe that makes me boring and predictable, but I find comfort in this routine. I even enjoy the fact that in most circumstances and situations, I'm predictable. You may not like it, but you know where I'm coming from. I'm pretty transparent.

No matter how hard I try to map out my life, I know change is a way of life and life isn't always predictable. Right now, I'm struggling with a big one. People come and go in our lives, whether it be through job & life circumstances, life and death, or other reasons. Because of this, things become different (better or worse, I'm not sure), and I am learning to deal with that.

One thing I've come to realize, especially when dealing with death of someone, that if we do not remain fully present with that person... where are we? We are running nonstop, not physically, but from the fear of losing what is around us and everything that is chasing us that we can not escape. Even running from the fear of losing control. Even in our sleep, we exhaust ourselves, because we are running.

So, I think the important thing when we see the (inevitable) change in our lives, is not to be scared of it, but actually to embrace it.

I think our fears keep us from being happy. Happiness is an attitude and our notions of what happiness should be can be dangerous and actually prevent us from being happy. So, how can you be happy while watching someone slowly die? I truly believe in being present in the moment and realizing that the conditions for being happy are already present, you just have to realize it and stop trying to control/manage an uncontrollable situation.

What I said makes sense (at least to me), but putting it into practice is the hard part.

Maybe todays rambling is the result of too much coffee.... I'm sure this post only made sense to me, but it's the random thought for today......
Tuesday, June 20, 2006

PostHeaderIcon The Wonders of Being a Parent

originally posted on myspace.com on June 20, 2006

Two things happened yesterday (which may not mean much to someone without kids) that reminds me why my time with Abigail is so precious. I may teach her how to write letters and we're learning to read basic words right now, but she teaches me so much more about life, my outlook, and what my priorities are. I wonder who teaches who most days.

First, after dinner with 5 other friends (and Abigail used her "good manners" through the whole meal and it was AWESOME) we went shopping for shorts for her. As we were coming out of the store (it was already 8pm, close to bedtime) we saw a duck with her ducklings swimming and drinking out of a pothole in the parking lot filled with water. We sat down on the curb (and was joined by 4 other families eventually) and despite being close to bedtime, watched those babies and their mother for about 1/2 hour until they waddled away single file. I regret taking the camera out of my purse and leaving it on my desk. It would have been a great shot.

Some of the comments Abby shared:
"That mama duck must love her babies"
:::: what can this teach us about love? ::::

"Awwwwwwe, they are sooooooo cute"
All while squeezing me around the neck telling me how much fun she was having.
:::: hmmm.... maybe we miss too many moments like this and focus too much on getting her to this activity or that :::::

Of course, it would not be an experience without the MANY, MANY questions a 4yo likes to ask. Here's a few.... most I responded with, "I don't know honey, we'll have to look it up on the computer when we get home."

"Mama, how does a mama-duck, lay that many eggs?"
"Mama, does each one have a name?"
"Mama, why do they know how to swim when they are babies, but I have to take lessons."
"Mama, can we have a pet duck?"

You get the idea.....

We talked about it the whole way home. We talked about what love means and how you show love. We talked about animals and how important they are to people and nature. We also talked a bit about the environment (because Abby asked if that water was dirty since it was in a parking lot, which I thought was a good question for a 4yo).

Overall, that 30 minutes of watching ducks and watching her share her excitement with strangers and their kids taught me a lot about priorities and how to teach my daughter and that $45 a month in ballet lessons are great, but these are the moments that matter. I could have forced the issue and said, "yeah Abby, that's cute, let's get home honey, it's bedtime", but being flexible led to a great experience for both of us. I'm not always a flexible person when it comes to things, so I was happy with the outcome.

The second thing that happened was getting her ready for bed. We brushed teeth, read our 2 books, sang 3 songs (yes, it's a long routine each night, but I enjoy it probably more than her ) and said our prayers and God-blesses (what we're thankful for). She wanted me to sleep with her for awhile and rub her back, so I climbed into her bed. After about 10 minutes, she leaned over kissed me softly on the forehead and said in a very quiet voice, as if she might wake me up, "Mama, you're my best friend".

:::: heart melting and fighting back tears :::

I realize there are times where I can't wait for her to go to her dad's (then I feel VERY guilty for even thinking that) because frankly, she wears me out somedays.

It's days like yesterday that give me a renewal of what my priorities to her are and sets me back to North on a personal level. Frankly, while the paybacks of being a parents are few and far between, moments like yesterday will carry me for a long time to come.

The wonders of making a bubble:

The wonders of "helping" me cook :

And how a simple pleasure just walking around the plaza can be....

She may not have come at the most opportune point in my life, but the experiences I've had and who I've become since having her, I wouldn't change for the world. Hands down, the best thing that has ever happened to me.
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Quotes as I come across them......

“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, an hour, a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it last forever.” ~~~Lance Armstrong

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." ~~~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

"I like running because it's a challenge. If you run hard, there's the pain----and you've got to work your way through the pain. You know, lately it seems all you hear is 'Don't overdo it' and 'Don't push yourself.' Well, I think that's a lot of bull. If you push the human body, it will respond." ~~~Bob Clarke, Philadelphia Flyers general manager, NHL Hall of Famer. (Will-Weber's "Voices From the Midpack" chapter.)

The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don’t define them, or ever seriously consider them as believable or achievable. Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them.~~~Denis Watley

Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and however early a man's training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly. ~~~Thomas H. Huxley (1825 - 1895)