Monday, December 29, 2008

Something New, #244

When we take long car trips, I usually put both kids in the backseat, and The Neurotic Dog up front with me. Part of the reason is that way both kids can watch the DVD player. On our return trip from OK, The Big One asked to ride up front.

Kansas has pretty strict booster seat and riding in the front seat laws. Neither one of my kids has met the weight requirement before the height requirement. In fact, if I had gone by weight rather than height, The Big One would have been in the rear-facing infant seat until she was almost two, and a booster seat until the fifth grade.

I really liked this arrangement much better. Since about two-third of The Big One's height is in her legs, she was much more comfortable and the dog had more room to turn around in the back. Plus, we were able to actually talk to each other, rather than both of us plugging into some electronic device.

Something New, #243

After reaching a near-coma state after non-stop eating at my mom's house, I had to get a coffee, so The Big One and I headed to McDonalds. After the voice in the box told me that the latte machine was down, and since I was blocked in by vehicles coming and going, I went ahead and ordered a regular coffee, two creams and one sugar. We waited about a good 10 minutes in the drive-thru lane, and The Big One commented "Isn't this the McDonald's we said we'd never come back to, because the service was so slow?"

Her memory is much better than mine.

I finally got my order, took a sip, and noticed it smelled funny. NOT coffee with two creams and one sugar but TEA with two creams and one sugar. If I were really going to do Something New, I would have taken it back and got the order corrected, but we'd already waited too long, and so I tried hot tea with two creams and a sugar.

Not bad, but it wasn't COFFEE.

But I did recently go over my bank statements, and found that WAY too much money was bleeding out of my bank account through the drive-thrus. So it was also a reminder that I could have and should have, made coffee at home.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Something New, #242

This may tie-in with watching CMT for the first time, but is just a coincidence. I saw my first live bluegrass band.

I was in OK and out with a couple of girlfriends from high school, and one of them suggested doing this, mainly because there was no cover charge.

The bar was really cool, and best of all, NO SMOKING! The band was good, at least I think so, having nothing to compare it to. My brother used to play banjo for an Irish group, but I don't think that counts as bluegrass. The slide guitarist looked a lot like Hyde from That 70s Show and we did notice a preponderance of full beards. Since in the KC area, the going look for most men is goatees and shaved heads, I couldn't figure out if this was a Tulsa trend, a bluegrass band fan trend, or just a trend. I thought the crowd mostly looked like the all the guys I went to summer camp with in the late 70s and early 80s.

Before we went to see the band, we popped into a piano bar, that did allow smoking, and I did another Something New. The owner came over to us, because we were the cutest girls there of course, and introduced himself before he started playing and asked if we had any requests. I asked him if he knew the theme from "The Patty Duke Show." He didn't so he played "The Joker" instead.

Not even close.

He even got the lyrics wrong. It's POMPATUS, not PROPERTIES, dude!

If you're going to butcher it, at least get the lyrics right.

I'm going to marry the boy that can sing the theme from "The Patty Duke Show." That is, if he's straight.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Something New, #241

After hearing a discussion on my AM radio show, I watched CMT for the first time. Specifically, the show being discussed, The 12 Days of Redneck Christmas.

Oh my.

Inbreeding is a really bad thing.

But despite the fact the family hung shotgun shells and car parts on their Christmas tree, trapped a live possum for dinner, and when it was too small, went looking for roadkill to make up for the difference and playing ring toss with toilet seats, I have to say, the head of the family, Max, was really creative and his heart was in the right place. He just wanted a nice Christmas for his family. And isn't' that what Christmas is all about?

At least in Sawdust, Tennessee.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Something New, #240

Since the Vicks on the bottom of the feet didn't work for treating my cold/sinus infection, I tried the hydrogen peroxide in the ears. It was really cold, and made my ears feel like I did when I was a kid and spent all day at the pool. You know, that skritchy sound in your ear and you have to shake out the water. I don't think it helped a bit, but maybe I missed the 12-24 hour window of opportunity as described in the article.

My sweet SIL suggested another home remedy of dropping a solution of baking soda, salt and warm water in your nostrils, so I tried that, too. It did seem to help, and so did a full sinus irrigation. Just hope it doesn't get worse.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town...

I was in my bedroom upstairs, and heard a vehicle idling really loudly. I looked out my window, and saw a 4-wheel drive truck and I'll be damned if I didn't see Santa Claus hop out of the cab and shake out his suit.

Since The Big One was in the shower, I grabbed The Little One, who had just gotten out of the bath, and just had on her PJs and no shoes. I had on my robe and slippers and scooped her up (no easy feat, since she weighs about 60 pounds) and we ran out into the street. He turned around and saw us then drove down the hill. She thinks that maybe his sleigh crashed and the reindeer were startled and flew back to the North Pole, so that's why he was in a pick-up truck.

Maybe that will keep the magic going for another year.

This is not the first random sighting I've seen of Santa. This article that was in today's paper explains the Santa I saw last year.

Something New, #239

I woke up with my annual cold/sinus infection, that I usually don't get until the end of February. I self-medicated as usual with just about every over the counter pill I had in the house, and when I still couldn't sleep, decided to try the advice I received in a recent email.

"Rub Vicks ointment on the bottoms of your feet to ease cold symptoms."

I learned that this doesn't work, but does give your feet a nice tingly sensation. I also learned that a medium size jar of Vicks costs over $7.00 at the grocery store. I could have bought two boxes of generic sinus-headache remedy for that.

I received another email that putting hydrogen peroxide in the ears will also ease symptoms. If I manage it out in the snow, ice and snot today, I'll pick up a bottle and try it out. I figure at least hydrogen peroxide is cheap, and I can use it to clean, too.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Something New, #238

Because it seems I spend almost every waking minute of my weekends running errands, I've been trying to think of ways to get stuff done during the week. After work just doesn't cut it, because we usually have something to get to, or after I get home and get the kids fed, and dog walked, I just don't have the motivation to get back out.

So I tried grocery shopping on my lunch hour. I think this is actually something I can incorporate into my life. Today was a good day for it, since the outside temperature was just above freezing and I didn't have to worry about anything spoiling in my car until I got home. I was able to do the holiday shopping without two kids in tow, and got in and out of the grocery store in less than 30 minutes.

And still had time to eat lunch.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Something New, #237

Again, Something New that isn't really Something New; just a little epiphany I had.

From out of the blue, The Ex offered to take the kids for a couple of hours. Keep in mind, he's only with them when required, such as when I'm at one of my jobs or in class. So it's very rare I'm in the house alone, and when I am, run myself ragged cleaning, painting, putting away laundry, fixing things etc. After they left, I thought I'd tackle the mountain of laundry, but then had my little epiphany; "The house will always be messy, there will always be laundry to do, there will always be something that needs to be fixed." These things are not going anywhere, so instead of running myself ragged, I took a nap.

And the house didn't fall down because of it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Something New, #236

I had read in the paper (yes, I still read the paper everyday and SO SHOULD EVERYONE!) that a local business had set up a holiday light show that was synchronized to music, so I took the girls to check it out.

We parked at the church across the street, and tuned our radio to 96.6. I had assumed it would be Christmas music, and thought it was hilarious that the songs were synched to "Jump," "Born to be Wild," and "Bittersweet Symphony." We must have come in at the middle of the loop, though, because we were later entertained with more traditional yuletide music, like TSO's "Carol of the Bells," which makes my ears bleed. The things I endure for my kids.

Anyway, I think we found a new Christmas tradition.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Something New, #235

Because I grew up in a frugal household, and have really never had a lot to spend on luxuries, the only time I was into clothing "labels" was in high school. Even then, I only had 2 Ralph Lauren shirts, one Izod, one pair of Gloria Vanderbuilt jeans and 3 pair of Levis. Maybe some Nikes, but most of my clothing has been of the generic kind. My mother even made my wedding dress, and I think it cost around $75.00. So even though I dress pretty currently (at least I think so) I've never been one to spend money on clothes.

I have passed this trait onto The Big One.

Last week, as I was picking her up from study group, the girls in the group were putting their boots back on. One girl was bragging on her new Uggs, "that cost $130.00." My kid held up her foot, donned in the Target knock-offs, and said "These were only $20.00. Can you tell the difference?"

A moment to make any mother proud.

So today, I thought I'd try on her $20.00 knock-offs, just to see if I liked the style. Keep in mind, The Big One is 5' 4" and weighs 85 pounds, and wears a shoe a whole size smaller than me. I'm 5' 9 and 3/4" and 150+, so I was surprised when they fit. So I borrowed them.

I'm thinking in a couple of years, we both may be able to expand our wardrobes. For free.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Something New, #234

Because my boss has been out sick for a week, business is slow because of the holidays and there is a winter storm advisory, work has been slow. Really slow. Painfully slow. Excruciatingly slow.

So I upped my stock as a professional slacker and used my free time constructively by taking advantage of's feature of free movies and television shows.

Hey, it beats spending money online.

I'm all caught up on ER and CSI.

I knew Sam and Gates would break up and that Grissom would leave.

Something New, #233

My friend, Diana, is a foodie, and invited me to a Chocolate Party. I've never been to one. She had prepared chocolate truffles, mint chocolate mousse, chocolate cookies, chocolate dip and chocolate martinis.

I learned that it may be possible to have too much of a good thing. Also, it is probably a good idea to eat something a little salty, like a whole ham, before going to my next Chocolate Party.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Something New, #232

Part of The Little One's day at school is spent writing in her journal. She filled her first spiral and brought it home and I got to read it.

Some of the entries are just ideas she has like "You must seal an envelope before you mail it because so the letter don't fall out," "A hedgehog has small eyes short legs and a skinny nose called a snout," "Tricycles don't have keys because you have to pettle them," and "A little word in pencil is pen."

Some of the entries are more fleshed out, and tell a story. Some of these entries are picked by the teacher and are "published." This means the spelling, grammar and punctuation are edited and then printed out from the computer. She's published several entries, but not the following:

"I laughed when me and my friend Alex wacht Saturday night live and one the the juges said tonight your haf tiger haf gorilla and haf hores penis."

After I realized that the teacher read this, I laughed until I wet my pants. I have no idea what sketch they were watching and found it interesting she misspelled "watched", "horse" and "half" but not "penis."

So my Something New was to send an email to her teacher, offering this explanation: "It looks like I am officially a slacker mom. I was looking through Betsy's journal and read the entry, "..." After my initial mortification, I called Alex's mom and asked her when they'd watched Saturday Night Live. Turns out, she and Alex watched an episode of SNL and Talledageh Nights that had been DVR'd. Alex can now quote the movie.

So I just wanted to let you know that Betsy's television is monitored and I'm blaming it on the neighbor kid. However, I did laugh until I cried when I read it, and find it especially funny she spelled "penis" correctly."

This teacher is very cool, and when The Little One started writing "elizabeth" on her papers (always with lowercase "e"), instead of what we call her, she and I decided she was branding herself, like Madonna, Cher, Prince or Fabio, and just let her do it.

I'm not completely surprised that I've had to justify The Little One's actions to her teachers. She's the type of child that just comes up with these things out of no where. I'm just surprised it's taken me this long.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Something New, #231

Have I mentioned I hate to cook?

However, there is one thing I make well, which are shortbread cookies I make at Christmas. The ingredients are pretty much butter, flour, butter, powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and almond flavor and butter. They are just like eating a stick of buttah.

This year, The Big One wanted to help. I handed her the ingredients and told her to go for it.

She did a great job, and the cookies came out great. Maybe I can get her to cook dinner every night now...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Something New, #230

In the spirit of recycling, I took my own bags into Wal-Mart. I do remember to do that when I go to the grocery store, but never thought to do it anywhere else. The funny part is the checker just looked at me like I was some kind of nut. Nevermind that Wal-Mart sells reusable bags on every endcap.

Something New, #229

As a kid who grew up on Captain Kangaroo, it about kills me to throw away an empty shoe box, oatmeal box or coffee can. Seriously, if given enough time, money and empty shoe boxes, oatmeal boxes, coffee cans, construction paper and glue, the man could have solved the world's housing problems.

So I had an empty oatmeal box, sitting on the kitchen counter for about a month. No one claimed it, and I just couldn't bring myself to throw it out, so I recycled it as gift packaging. And to carry on the spirit of recycling, filled the box with a re-gift of hand me down American Girl doll clothes. I figure The Little One won't know the difference, and I'll make it up by buying candy for her stocking with the money I saved.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Something New, #228

When we got The Neurotic Dog 2 1/2 years ago, she peed on the carpet. A lot. Especially in the upstairs living room. That inspired me to rip up all the carpet to the hardwood floor underneath. Talk about an instant makeover. I don't think the hardwood floors in this house had ever been exposed. Since then, I've ripped up all the carpet, except for in The Big One's room. She has issues with change, but has said she'd let me when she turned 14. Good thing, because the carpet in there is really nasty.

Anyway, since the floors were in such good shape, all I've done for maintenance on them is vacuuming and the occasional mop down with Murphy's Oil Soap. But they looked a little dingy, so I tried putting an old towel on my Swiffer mop and sprayed that down with Lemon Pledge and gave the floors a once over.

They look great, but are now slicker than snot.

On the upside, I can now perfect my Tom Cruise impersonation.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Something New, #227

3 things about me that are constant:
  • I get lost. A LOT.
  • I fall down. A LOT.
  • I am always running about 10 minutes late.

I wasn't always this way. In fact, I used to have a wonderful sense of direction and was always punctual. That was before I had kids. I think the directional brain cells went out with the placentas and the tardiness can be attributed to having to get everyone ready. The clumsiness I think comes from the fact that I was my adult height of "Five Nine and Three Quarters" by the eighth grade.

So all of these factors came together while I was trying to get to my office holiday party. I had everything planned to the minute to get one child picked up to go work on a school project, one child dropped off at dance class, drive to the party, spend exactly 20 minutes at the party, go pick up the first child and her friends at the school project house, drop off the other 2 school project friends, pick up the second child at dance class and go home. This all had to take place between 5:45 and 7:30.

It just didn't happen.

By the time I got home from work, I was already running 10 minutes late. Shocking. So that threw a spanner in the works and as I was driving to my boss' house for the party, realized I'd have exactly five minutes to stay there. Emily Post does not have an emergency 800 number to answer the question "Which is worse, not showing for a party you've RSVP'd for, or only staying at said party for five minutes?" So I made the etiquette call on my own, called and gave my regrets.

This is Something New, because it really put me out of my comfort zone to not go. But I really felt like by the time I'd made the frantic drive over to her house, I'd be stressed enough without having to enter a houseful of strangers, throw back one drink and leave. I was looking forward to the party, after my success at the last party of strangers, but when a fire truck and two police cars passed me on a way to a wreck I would have passed on the way there, I felt the universe was telling me, "Don't go!" And since it's been icy this week, I figured why run the risk of falling down.

I was still late picking up The Big One and her friends because I got lost. But I didn't fall down.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Something New, #226

I learned that if you microwave white almond bark candy over the recommended time of a minute and a half, you will get a brown grainy mess.

You will also probably have to throw out the bowl you were using to microwave it in.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Something New, #225

When I lost my job in October, The Ex offered to up the child support. This was a bolt from the blue as he only pays $360.00 per month now and it took me a year and a half of going to court to start collecting that when we separated 4 years ago.

I figured out that $360.00 per month for two children, works out to 50 cents per hour for two children.

Yep. He's so out of touch he thought that $12.00 per day to feed, clothe, and shelter two children was about right.

So when this came out of left field, I immediately filled out the paperwork and filed it at the county courthouse. In Kansas, everything has to be done through the courts, so there's a record and also so that the agreements will be enforced. I also had to schedule a hearing, that was supposed to be heard today. But, because of the weather, we got to call it in. It took about 3 minutes, and now I'll have enough every month for those extravagant extras like electricity, water, heating and cooling.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Something New, #224

I rarely pay full price for anything, but did the other day, because I happened to be alone at Target, and was able to pick up a Christmas present for The Little One. I spent $34.99 on a horse for her American Girl doll, only to have it go on sale for $19.99 two days later.

I worked in retail for the better part of 25 years. I know most stores will do a price adjustment. However, I know what a pain that is for the sales associate, and it also verges on ghetto. But it was a $15.00 difference. That's an hour of my time.

So I took it back and it was painless. Took less than a minute. I even apologized to the sales associate, but she said "No worries. I'd do the same thing."

I heart Target.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Something New, #223

After my triumph in installing the ceiling fixture, I decided to tackle the light fixture in The Big One's closet. It's one of those light bulb fixtures that turns on when you pull a chain, and it's been broken for about 6 years. I attribute part of the chaos in her closet to the fact that you can't see a damn thing in it.

After I got it all pulled out, I figured out I had to replace the whole thing. I decided to put that off for another day, so I started to put it all back together.
It's much easier to remove screws from a ceiling fixture that to replace them.

I must have dropped the screw about a dozen times. Up and down the stepladder about a dozen times. "F***ing Goddam Screw!" about a dozen times. I finally figured out I could use a piece of the ever-versatile duct tape to hold it in place while I got the screw back in the pilot holes.

This just may qualify me for a MENSA membership.

Something New, #222

I made home made chicken soup. From scratch.

That's right. I cooked something from scratch. And it was delicious.

Boiled that chicken carcass down, strained the broth and even made my own noodles. Both kids ate it and said it was delicious.

Not one bit went in the dog's dish.

Did I mention it was delicious?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Something New, #221

What are the Odds?

I love life's coincidences. You know, those weird things like you find out you and a new friend were at the same Osmond Brothers concert in 1974 or two friends you grew up with who never knew each other, but now their kids go to the same high school and you figure that you all know each other 20 years later. I have a story about a friend's kidney donor that has so many layers of coincidences, it freaks everyone out. I love novels about how these past and present coincidences link together, like in Holes, Fried Green Tomatoes, and The Madonnas of Leningrad.

When The Big One and I saw the Art in the Age of Steam two weeks ago, there was a painting I just loved called The Railway Station. I loved how many stories it tells. If I were a writer, this is what I'd write a novel about. I stood in front of it for a good 15 minutes, and went back to look at it several times.

Exactly one week later, we visited the Philbrook in Tulsa's exhibit, Paintings from the Reign of Victoria: The Royal Holloway Collection, London. The first painting in the first gallery was The Railway Station by William Powell Frith.

"Hold the phone, how did this painting get from one current exhibit to another?" There was a docent nearby that heard The Big One and I talking about this, and he said this was the first time the painting had ever been out of England. After I told him about the painting at the Nelson, we figured out that the first one I saw was a copy, made by one of William Powell Frith's students.

So that got me to thinking, what are the odds that in one week, I would see the original and a copy of a painting without planning it?

I learned there is such a thing as a probability calculator.

"The Probability Calculator computes an unknown probability, based on the value of related known probabilities. Here are the types of problems that the Probability Calculator can handle:
Find P(A), given P(A').
Find P(A), given P(B), P( BA ) and P(A ∪ B).
Find P(A), given P(B), P(A ∩ B), and P(A ∪ B).
Find P(A), given P( BA ) and P(A ∩ B).
Find P( BA ), given P(A) or P(A'), P(B), and P(A ∪ B).
Find P( BA ), given P(A) or P(A'), and P(A ∩ B).
Find P(A ∪ B), given P(A) or P(A'), P(B), and P( BA ).
Find P(A ∪ B), given P(A) or P(A'), P(B), and P(A ∩ B).
Find P(A ∩ B), given P(A) or P(A'), P(B), and P(A ∪ B).
Find P(A ∩ B), given P(A) or P(A'), and P( BA)."

Yeah, I couldn't figure it out either. Well, actually, if I knew the right variables to plug in, I would be able to figure out those odds, but there are too many unknowns. But if I ever figure out those unknowns, I'm ready.
Anyway, I feel lucky that the universe blessed me with the opportunity to see two versions of this painting in two different locations, exactly one week apart.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Something New, #220

The Little One had been begging for karate lessons for about the last 4 years, so with her birthday money this year, I signed her up. The classes were for 45 minutes, once a week.

When we all went to the first class, she clung to me and wouldn't even sit in her squad seat without being within seeing distance of me. She kept her head down and her arms crossed across her chest the entire time. She whispered to the instructor and wouldn't join in the class activities unless I walked her to them. This is a child who is not at all shy and has no trouble in social situations. Even The Big One asked, "WHAT is going on with her?"

She eventually warmed up, and I thought was doing well. She knew all the moves when the teacher prompted and even made a friend. But every week, it's been "Do I have to go?"

When I was little, my mom took me to swim lessons at the Y. I was about 3, and still remember how scared I was. My mom had the wisdom to postpone lessons for about another 7 years.

I really felt that we should stick out the lessons, and finish what we started, but I remembered about the swim lessons. So instead of making her go to the last 3 classes, I gave her a choice.

She chose not to. And was very happy about it.

I had to wrestle with the ideas of "not finishing something" and "sticking it out," but this wasn't a required activity, nor was it a team activity where her presence was necessary.

I think we'll both be a lot happier.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Something New, #219

I learned that it's not a good idea to keep your spare car keys in your car. It's especially not a good idea to lock your keys, spare keys, purse, dog leash and collar in the car.

It's an $85 bad idea.

On the upside, I have new idea for a career.

Something News, #209-217

The girls and I visited my parents over the Thanksgiving holiday. Since they have WebTV, which is still DIAL UP, I'm posting in a big lump.

I learned:
  • You can't buy cold beer at the liquor stores in Oklahoma. The logic behind this is that the purchaser of a cold beer would pop one open in the car. I don't know how that logic would apply to someone who bought a bottle of liquor. Perhaps they don't sell mixers, ice or glassware.
  • Wild turkeys can fly. I learned this when a small flock flew over the hood of my car.
  • I can probably eat my weight in banana-pineapple-Cool Whip-cream cheese-apricot Jello salad. After I do that, I can no longer bend over to tie my own shoes.
  • A single night at the Four Seasons in NYC costs $1,059.00.
  • Wheel chair crossings exist.
  • If TNG sleeps in The Little One's room, I can get 6 hours of sleep in a row.
  • It's OK to say "I don't want to," instead of trying to think up excuses.
  • Driving straight into 30+ MPH winds with the luggage on top of the car cuts my gas mileage in half.
I also visited the Russell Stover factory in Iola, KS, located on Marshmallow Lane, and went through the McDonald's drive through 4 times in less than a 24 hour period. This would also contribute to the fact I can no longer tie my own shoes.

Another Something New is that I didn't turn into Bridget Jones while visiting my parents. Not the Renee Zellweger Bridget Jones, but the Helen Fielding Bridget Jones. The Bridget Jones who is treated like 14-year-old when she visits her parents, and has to wear ghastly outfits her mother buys out for her. My mother did buy me a new outfit ("It's just like Katie Couric wore when she climbed the Himalayas") but it was actually something simple and didn't look like something my mother bought for me. I also didn't feel guilty about staying out late. However, I did not get Mark Darcy/Fitzwilliam Darcy/Colin Firth at the end of the visit as a lovely parting gift.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Something New, #208

Once again, I triumph over technology. And once again, it's technology I didn't know I had.

I discovered the joy of Netflix's Watch Instantly feature. Another bonus, my old computer will actually take it.

While I painted, I watched And Then She Found Me. It stars my movie-star boyfriend, Colin Firth, Helen Hunt, Matthew Broderick and Bette Midler. The casting alone should make this a really good movie, but it was so-so. I think Helen Hunt called a bunch of her friends and said, "Hey, I'm directing a movie, be in it!" The Anniversary Party was made the same way, and it's a much better film.

Anyway, with all the sitting I do at my worktable painting, it will be nice to have some new choices besides my own DVDs.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Something New, #208

Unlike Marc Acito, who inspired this exercise, I don't plan out my Something News, I just see where the day takes me, and what I can do to veer off my usual path. This Something New has been in my kitchen cupboard for about the last 5 years, so I gave it a try.

My brother and either his girlfriend at the time, or his wife (sorry M & M, it's been so long, I can't remember) gave me a coffee grinder one Christmas. I hate to cook, and actually grinding my own coffee beans and brewing my own coffee from them, seems sort of like cooking. For most people, for me, that's the equivalent of slaughtering and processing your own cow to make hamburgers. So it's sat is my cupboard ever since.

So when I got a free pound of coffee beans with purchase at World Market, I got it down, and fired it up.

Like the Bass-o-Matic, it was quite a rush. Ready to pour.

But again, that's what this exercise is all about. Do something that someone else may think is ordinary, but that you've never done.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Something New, #207

When I was little, my cousin gave me an art history book with Manet's The Railway on the cover. Today I saw the painting in real life.

It was like seeing a rock star.

I took the Big One to the Nelson Atkins Museum where they currently are hosting Art in the Age of Steam. The exhibit also includes Magritte's Time Transfixed.

I feel somewhat negligent in my parenting skills, in that she was not familiar with either. But I did tell her to remember that she saw these works in real life, and how important they are.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Something New, #206

Usually when I get a phone call from one of my credit card companies, with the sales pitch of "we'll give you your credit report from 3 major credit bureaus, if you sign up for ....." I say no thank you and hang up.

When I got the call today, I set the handset down and started counting.

1:37 the sales person talked without drawing breath.

I didn't picked it back up right away, and didn't speak to her, just to see what would happen. I gave it another minute, and she'd hung up.

Now I know that sales person is just trying to make a living, but I really don't see it that way. Since the credit card companies are losing so much money with defaults and bankruptcies, they're trying to make it up anyway they can. Selling "free" credit reports is just another way for the credit card company to make money is all I see.

I think next call, I'll ask the sales person if they know I can already get up to 3 free credit reports a year, directly from the credit bureaus, no strings attached. Wonder what they'd try to sell me next.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Something New, #205

This Something New wasn't something I tried or learned, but rather something that happened.

I ran over an animal.

In my defense, it was dark, and I honestly didn't see anything until it was at my front driver's side tire and by that time, it was too late to react. I didn't even have time to slam on the brakes.

It made an awful thump. I don't think I'll ever forget that sound as long as I live.

I'm not sure if it was a cat, a squirrel or a bunny. I'm going to go with the squirrel though, because I hate the idea of killing someone's cat.

Actually, I'm not even sure if I killed it, because there was a car behind me with its lights on, and I didn't see anything in the road.

Or in my undercarriage.

I think I'm rationalizing.

Anyway, both girls were with me. I told them I hit a big branch.

Something New, #204

I learned what a "naked put" is.

Not nearly erotic as it sounds.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Something New, #203

The Big One has made straight A's since kindergarten, tests in the 97-98-99 percentile range on all those asinine standard tests, and in the seventh grade, has qualified to take the ACT.

But apparently, according to the Kansas Department of Education, is not qualified for their gifted and talented program.

When she was in the third grade, I felt like I was being pressured by peers and her teachers to get her into the program. She went through several rounds of tests and we both were interviewed. She missed getting in by one point on one standardized test. It was actually a relief for me, because at the elementary school level the "EL" students are put on a bus one day a week for their special program, and sent to another facility and I was not crazy about the idea. So I figured we were done with it.

Until I found out a year later that one of her classmates who scored a full TWO points lower than the minimum required got in.

When The Big One tested and interviewed, there were two others in her grade going through the same process. They too scored one point lower on one test.

However, the parents of the student who got in argued that because their older son was in, the sibling should be as well. When the older child got in, the standards were lower, and they felt the younger sibling should be admitted on that grading scale.


I had it from one of the horse's mouths that the only reason the child got in was because the parents wouldn't let up. I don't really see this as them doing a favor for their child.

So anyway, when The Big One qualified to take the ACT this year, and the child who I feel stole a spot in the program got qualified only on the basis that she's in the gifted program, it got me pissed off all over again, so we reapplied.

I filled out all the forms and she was retested. Today I met with the school's "gifted" sponsor and the school district's psychologist. We reviewed all her forms, reviewed test scores and report cards, and discussed the project "work" she submitted. Both agreed she did well on the test scores and acknowledged that her GPA is over 100%. They asked her opinions on world affairs and social issues.

I thought "World affairs? Social issues? She's 12...she's got her brain full of Edward Cullen and what she's going to do over the weekend."

They both said, "Well, she obviously makes the grades and test scores, but she's just so quiet."

Apparently, in the eyes of the Kansas Department of Education, you can not be "quiet" and be "gifted."

So toward the end of the meeting, they both kind of looked at me in a condescending way and they both agreed that they while she is "above average," she's not "extraordinarily exceptional."

I had a flash to the scene in Risky Business where Joel is being interviewed to be accepted into Princeton.

In case you've been in a cave the past 25 years, I'm referring to the scene where Joel is having a party for his friends with a houseful of prostitutes to earn money to repair his dad's Porche that he drove into Lake Michigan and the recruiter from Princeton shows up. After his interview, the recruiter looks down at Joel's record, folds his hands and says "You've done a lot of solid work here, but it's just not Ivy League, now is it?"

At that moment, if I'd had a pair of Ray-Bans in my purse, I would have taken them out, put them on carefully, and responded, "You know, there's one thing I learned in all my years. Sometimes you just gotta say, "What the fuck, make your move."
But since I was short a pair of Ray-Bans, I did Something New instead.

Instead of bowing and scraping to the professionals and leaving with my tail tucked behind me and thinking "my daughter isn't good enough," like I usually would, I said, "Look."

"My daughter has made straight As since kindergarten. She excels on all the tests she gets three times a year. I never have to tell her to do her homework, or remind her of assignments, she always is responsible for those and gets more of what is expected of her done. Her teachers have had nothing but praise for her for the last 9 years. So you're telling me that because she is "quiet", you're going to penalize her and not offer her an opportunity to better herself."

So they agreed to one more meeting, "after her current teachers have gotten to know her better."

"Princeton could use a guy like Joel Goodson."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Something New, #202

As I mentioned before, I don't spend a lot of time and money on personal grooming. For myself or my kids for that matter. The girls are pretty low maintenance and I trim their hair a couple of times a year. I stopped taking The Big One to get her hair cut, after we cut 10 inches off to donate to Locks of Love, and she broke down into tears afterward. ("But honey, we've talked about this for two years! You wanted to do it!")

So today I took the dog to the groomer for the first time. And she got the "spa package."

"Spa Package."

For a dog.

I love my dog, but am not one of those pet owners who thinks their pet is human. I don't dress her up, except for Halloween, I don't baby talk to her, I don't cook her food, and in fact, buy her GENERIC dog food. But she has been click, click, clicking on the floors the past few weeks and I couldn't stand it anymore.

We walk so much that her nails stay filed down pretty good. In the 2 1/2 years we've had her, I've only cut her nails once, and that was with me sitting on her, feeding her animal crackers and my friend Jeff, cutting them.

But I have to say, after the $40 "spa package," she looks good. The Big One said she smelled like a candle and I wouldn't let her run loose in the backyard because I didn't want her to get smelly so soon. She isn't clicking as much either.

So even though I would have preferred to spend $40 on a "spa package" for myself, I think it was worth it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Something New, #202

Well, this is something I've know I've never done: I shaved a chair.

That's right.

You heard me.

I shaved a chair. Actually two.

I have two recliners that I sold on eBay, and was cleaning them up before the buyer came to get them. These chairs are about 15 years old and in pretty good shape, but had a lot of pilling on the fabric. I thought I had one of those sweater shavers that everyone seemed to have in the mid 80s, but I must have thrown it out at some point. So I just used a regular razor, and I have to say, they look pretty good now. For 15 year old chairs anyway.

They sold for twice of my opening bid to a woman who lives near Dallas. I did put in the listing a couple of times "PICK UP ONLY" and thought she missed that. Nope. She's having UPS come and pack them and ship them to Texas. I'm thinking this may be twice as much as she paid for them and am sure there are green wingback recliners somewhere in Dallas, but I figure it's her money. I was thrilled to sell them though, because I bought a loveseat and new rug for the living room with the proceeds. And they were part of my "married furniture" so I'm getting that bad juju out of the house.

Now if I can just bring myself to sell my wedding crystal and china.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Something New, #201

I finally got to put some of my post-secondary education into use today. Instead of just formatting documents, I did some data analyzing.

I felt kind of like Maxwell Smart. The Steve Carrell version, not the Don Adams version.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Something New, #200

Just when I think I've gotten everything up to date in Kansas City, I find out what a dinosaur I am. I used a website to find cheap airfares and book a flight for my boss.

I don't travel much, and can't even remember the last time I flew. Anywhere the girls and I go, we drive, and besides, the thought of flying alone with two kids sounds like the opposite of fun.

My dad worked for American Airlines and when we were growing up, we always had to fly stand by. You know, that's when you stand there and say "Bye" as the plane you were supposed to be on takes off. The Aingell family has a cursed travel history anyway. In 1981, we finally got out after several flights took off without us and got to Hawaii, only to have the air traffic controllers go on strike. I think we stayed about 3 days. I won't even go into our road trip to the Grand Canyon with no air conditioning or how we all got sunburned in San Diego.

Anyway, it was pretty easy to book, but so many choices, I gave up and just settled. Who knows, maybe I'll get brave and actually plan a trip for us.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Something New, #199

These images came to me in an email forwarded by my ex-mother-in-law. The end of the email praises the restaurant owner who puts these on his marquee, with the quote, "This guy should run for president!"
I find it very interesting that in the four years I have been divorced from her son, she's never mentioned all the harm and hurt her son caused me and my children, but somehow thinks that I would find this amusing in any way and would enjoy it.
Normally, I would just delete it, but for my Something New, I responded, "Ironic that this is from a restaurant, and the restaurant industry employs more illegals than any other. At least this a**hole is lucky enough to live in America where he has the right to show how ignorant he is!"
Now I know she's from another generation and thinks differently, but I felt that if I didn't say anything, she would continue to send me crap like this.
Don't get me wrong, I love free speech and the fact this asshole has the balls to do this. (That is, if it is a real place - I didn't Snopes it.) But I feel that just because you CAN do something, it doesn't always mean you SHOULD. Like porn at the library. I find it a little disturbing when I walk by the unemployed men in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, and they've got the porno up on the public computers. I mean, there are computers at the library that have the screen down in the desk, use those!
I'm actually hoping she'll email me back, so I can really let her know what I think!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Something New, #198

I'm not sure if this technically counts as a Something New, because I didn't do or learn anything, but it's something I've never seen.

The firm I now work for was referring a case to another attorney. Apparently, the husband of a woman who had committed suicide was suing. When I was organizing the documents we were sending to the other attorney, I found the autopsy photos.

It's nothing like what you see on CSI when it's an actual person and not an actor.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Something New, #197

I started my new job today, and I have to say, as first days go, it was the smoothest I've ever had. I don't have a lot of experience as a paralegal, but I was able to jump in and work right away, and what I didn't know, I could figure out.

Guess it pays to have more formal education than a vice presidential candidate after all.

Something New, #196

I went to my friend Jodi's for a little beer and wine party. I'd never been to her house, and did my usual, "I don't want to go, I don't know anyone!" But I put on my big girl panties and went, and was so glad I did. She had just a few people over, and I have to say, I was very impressed with her friends. They were all very intelligent and the topic of conversation didn't lean toward what our kids were doing.

It was a very nice change.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Something New, #195

I'm pretty low maintenance when it comes to personal grooming. I color my own hair, don't get manicures, because my hands are always in something, maybe get a pedicure once a season, shave my own legs, and manage the deforestation of other areas on my own.

But just after reading Kabul Beauty School, there was an article in the KC Star about eyebrow threading. It sounded easy so I gave it a try.
It was really interesting. The woman that did it just used a spool of plain white thread. She held the loose end between her teeth and had about a foot long section of thread that was twisted and looped around her fingers. She just rolled the twisted thread against my skin, and it pulled out the hair. It didn't hurt at all. While I was having it done, another woman came to watch, then a couple of others. It was a real chick moment in the middle of the mall.
It's hard to tell from the photos, but there really is a difference in the way the brows are shaped. They have a much sharper line, but don't look over done. I'd definitely do this Something New again.

Something New, #194

About 6 years ago, I was in the den and heard this awful crash and sound of breaking glass from upstairs. I ran up to discover that The Little One, who was about 2, saying "I didn't do it!" and finding that the light fixture from the upstairs entry hall had fallen. I think I had changed out the light bulb and not screwed the dome in properly.

It had been like that ever since. I tried to buy a replacement dome, but apparently, those are not sold separately. So for 6 years, I've been looking at the bare light bulbs.

Since I've had this week off, I've been working like mad on my Honey Do list, and finally tackled the light fixture. It was a lot easier to replace than I thought. Actually, the most difficult part was gathering up the right tools, and since I had to throw the breaker, get enough light in to see to work.

This is what this exercise is becoming. I didn't fix the light for so long, because I thought either I couldn't or it was too expensive. If I'd known how easy and cheap ($10 for a whole new fixture) it was, I'd have done it when the old one broke. But because I'm looking for something new, gave it a shot.

And the miracle is that I didn't burn down the house while rewiring.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Something New, #193

People say that women tend to turn into their mothers as they get older. While I have found myself doing things that my mother does, like planning a route to avoid left hand turns, (yes, I will actually admit to that), today I found myself turning into my father.

I drove a 12-mile round trip out of my way to save money on gas.

I've never done this, because here in JoCo Kansas, the department of public works loves their traffic lights and it really takes a while to get anywhere with so much stop and go. But I found a station near my old office that is always much lower than the QT that's a half mile from my house. So I made a special trip, just for gas.

It was totally worth it, as it was 10 cents cheaper per gallon at $1.89. So I probably came out ahead as far as time and gas spent.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Something New, #192

jubilant [joo-buh-luhnt]–adjective
showing great joy, satisfaction, or triumph; rejoicing; exultant: the cheers of the jubilant victors.

I'm not sure this qualifies as Something New, but this is the first time I've ever used the word "jubilant" to describe my mood.

I love it.

Something New, #191

I, and several other million voters, elected a good and decent man as president of the United States.

After I voted, I went to Wal-Mart. Right after I parked, a woman came running over to me. She must have seen my Obama bumper sticker. She was probably in her mid-60's and was dressed in a sparkly sweatshirt, lots of gold jewelry, perma-nails and had what I call "Texas Hair," big and blonde. We've all seen this woman and know what the stereotype is. She said, "Oh, I just wanted you to know I just voted for Obama, too!" Appearances can be deceiving. So I hugged a total stranger in the parking lot at Wal-Mart.

It was a great moment.

I made the girls stay up late to watch the acceptance speech and hope they someday will understand the enormity of it. I had the neighbors over, and we all cried together. We popped open a bottle of champagne, and got most of it on TNG, but she didn't seem to mind. I even drunk-dialed for the first time to a friend in Chicago.

My neighbor's brother is married to an African-American, and they have four boys. When he put them to bed, he told them when they woke up in the morning, there would be a president that looked like them. So I'm even happier, because I can imagine it would have been horrifying for them if McCain had won.

Please President Obama. Don't break my heart.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Something New, #190

I filed a petition for court in person. I've filed lots of petitions, but never hand-carried one to the court house and had the clerk file it. And after dealing with the court clerk in person, am not so anxious to have a public servant job.

On the up side, I did get to check out our county's legal library at the court house. It was the tidiest library I've ever been in. THAT would be my dream job.

I also learned that my trash company has a limit on how much trash they will pick up on one day. I had about 14 bags and boxes of trash on the curb after all my cleaning, and they left eight. I guess I'll have to take the trash out in shifts now. However, I am DONE with the major purging and feel really great about how things look now. If only I could keep it this way...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Coolest Plate Ever!

When The Little One and I were hawking Girl Scout cookies, I saw that one of our neighbors has this license plate on his bright yellow mini. The photo is not the best quality, as it was done with my phone, but it's still legible.

My neighbors rock!

Something New, #189

The Little One is selling Girl Scout cookies and wanted to go door-to-door in the neighborhood. She's very motivated, because if she sells 115 boxes, she gets a stuffed horse toy.

Those people at the Girls Scout office are geniuses. The two things little girls love most, stuffed animals and horses, rolled into one. They should have a record year.

She sold 40 boxes in about an hour, which I thought was pretty good. The hard part is collecting the money when the cookies come in, but we've had good luck in the past.

Just what we need around here. Another stuffed animal.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Something New, #188

I Dumpster Dived for the first time today.

I know this has been something people have been doing for ages. I've never done it, not because I think it's gross or anything, but because I never had the opportunity.

I was picking up a love seat from the consignment furniture store with my Cute Friend Mel, and we noticed there were all these books in the dumpster. There's a Half Price Books next door, so we figured these were titles that just didn't sell. So we helped ourselves. They were all clean and we took about a dozen each.

I think it's a sin to throw a book away, except when they belong to The Ex.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Something New, #187

With the recent passing of TCGIBS42Ys dog, I purchased my first sympathy card for a dog. I went to two stores, the second being a Hallmark, and was disappointed in the selection. The CVS only had 2 and the Hallmark, 3. The girls and I are going to sign it, and drop it off with a pot of mums. The Little One was so sad last night when she heard the news and cried and cried, but forgot about it today with all the Halloween candy in front of her.

But on a happier note, I got the job I interviewed for! I think I was actually interviewed by the attorney's assistant, because the attorney was on a conference call, and the assistant came out and talked to me for a while first. I got the call about 30 minutes after I got home, so I think she must have checked my references beforehand. I really liked both of them and it looks like a job where I can learn a lot. Plus, it's a 16% increase in my salary! I start a week from Monday, so in the meantime, I can finish tuning up my house and have some time for other things I've been putting off.

I am so happy and relieved!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rest in Peace, Doc Holliday

Tonight, when I was walking TND, I saw TCGIBS42Ys walking alone. I asked him where his buddy, Doc, was and he gave me the awful news that Doc had died over the weekend.

Apparently, they had gone on their annual pheasant hunting trip to South Dakota, and he caught some shot in a freak accident. TCGIBS42Ys actually thought Doc had had an aneurysm or something, because he didn't seem to have anything but superficial wounds, but after he took him to the vet back here, they found the bullet that had worked its way into a main artery. He died in TCGIBS42Ys' arms.

Doc was a flat coat retriever and one of the sweetest dogs I've ever known. He played so well with TND, and my favorite trick of his was when he'd grab TND's leash in his mouth and then pull her around. He was sweet with the girls and let The Little One climb all over him.

I feel so bad for TCGIBS42s and know he will now have this hole in his life. It was so sad seeing him walking alone. He did say that at least Doc died doing what he loved and in the place he loved best in the world.
I miss him already.

Something New, #186

Today while I was getting my mammogram, I noticed one of those breakaway capsules with smelling salts taped to the machine. I asked the tech if people really passed out and she said about twice a year, she got a fainter. When I worked at the pedes office, every now and then, we'd have a teenager, usually a 6 foot boy, pass out after a shot. It's not the shot that makes them faint, but they tense up so much before it, that after, all that adrenaline is released, and they pass out. It made an awful sound.

So I learned that some women pass out during a mammogram, but also, a good way to distract myself from the squishing is talking about something totally unrelated.

And as I finish shoveling through all the crap in the basement, I keep asking myself "Why the hell was I hanging on to this fill in the blank?" Yesterday, I neatly stacked all the old cabinet doors against the wall, after I had carefully swept off the floor and hit it with the Shop Vac. Today I thought, "Why am I keeping these in the first place?" When we moved in to this house, I hated the kitchen, the cabinet doors especially. Every day for ten years, I looked at those doors and hated them. When I finally took the initiative to just jump in and replace them, I cried when the new doors went up. Superficial, maybe, but now I feel at home in my kitchen. I guess in the back of my mind I thought I'd need the old ones for some reaseon. Today I realized I'd never have any use for those doors, and kicked them to the curb.

I do tend to hang onto things that don't work for me. I guess I'm just a stubborn Taurus. But on the flip side, some of the things I have held on to for the longest are friendships. My BFF and I have known each other since we were ten, and even when life gets in the way and we don't speak for a while, we always pick up right where we left off. But I also tend to hand on to relationships that don't work, too. I've got one that's been hanging around for about 25 years that periodically bites me in the ass. Gotta learn how to kick those to the curb.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Something New, #185

Today was my last day of work. As I've mentioned, the head partner closed the office here, so my boss and I are out on our bottos. Knowing for about 3 weeks this was coming, I've been applying everywhere. Just like throwing spaghetti on the wall and seeing what sticks.

Since I'm going to have free time, I made a list of all the chores around the house I'd like to get done while I can. The first was conquering all the CRAP in the basement. I thought I'd sort it all out for a garage sale, but realized it wasn't worth my time, so I'm filling boxes, then calling Goodwill. I can't believe all the things I'm finding, and wondering why it was so important for me to hang on to some of it. Why does someone who is not a professional house painter need at least a half dozen old shower curtain liners and vinyl tablecloths to use as drop cloths? And why exactly was I hanging on to a broken blender? I actually had one box that had not been unpacked since we moved in. It was my old dollhouse, and at least in the last eleven years, the mice had made good use of it. I did find a stack of screenprints I did in college, that are still in good shape, so I may actually frame them.

In the eleven plus years I've lived in this house, I've never really CLEANED the basement. For the first time, I swept out under the steps that lead to the basement and swept the cobwebs and dust from the ceiling and walls. Eleven years of dirt, cobwebs, animal hair and Goddess knows what else. I even cleaned the top of the hot water heater, and all around the furnace. Hopefully, that will keep St. Montgomery happy, and keep it running.

My Kind Friend Bev is a feng shui consultant, and has been giving me a lot of good advice lately. Since I did the major redecorating last month, I knew I'd stirred up all kinds of stuff and she gave me some cures. If she's reading this, I know she's probably thinking "GAH! You've stirred up enough stuff! Let it rest for a while!" But, I have to say, her cures are really working.

Not two days after I followed her suggestions, I got a call from out of the blue from The Ex. He had called the county trustees and was arranging to double the child support. Now, in the last 4 years, every time I bring that up, he threatens me with the equity in the house he still has. This was truly a shock, and the fact that he took the step to call to find out how to do it, is even more amazing, since the man has almost no initiative.

So today, about 2 hours into my cleaning project, I got a call from a firm that I had applied to. I have an interview on Friday and am keeping my fingers, toes, eyes, legs and whatever else I have, crossed.

Another interesting find in cleaning the basement were these painted footprints. They were in the back corner, near the radon detector. I had no idea they were there, or whose they are. Maybe KFB can tell me what they mean!

I'm going to keep cleaning methodically through the house. Who knows what else I'll find...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Something New, #184

OK, here's another Something New that is kind of stupid, but made me think about something differently.

When I sort the laundry, I have a basket I throw all the orphan socks into, hoping I'll eventually match them up. Today I realized, that some of these orphans have been in there for years, so I did something BOLD.

I threw them away.

Now I know that's not major, but I was raised not to throw anything that might still be useful away. My parents were born right after the Great Depression, so grew up frugally, and passed that on to us.

The thing is, we have plenty of PAIRS of socks, and even if we didn't, socks ARE something affordable. I just find myself hanging onto stuff out of habit.

Today the orphan socks. Tomorrow the 2 foot pile of rags under my kitchen sink.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Something New, #183

Since our last day of work has been moved from the 31st to the 29th, my boss has taken slacking off to a level I didn't think she was capable of.

She did bring movies for us to watch on Friday, but I spent most of my day checking out Craigslist and CareerBuilder and filling out applications online, so I didn't get to that.

Today she said, "Since I'm in court this afternoon, and you have an interview (with my THIRD employment agency), just turn on your cell and you can be"on call.""

Sweet. I've never slacked with permission before.

However, by the time I finished the interview, went home and had lunch, it was time to pick the girls up from school, so I really didn't get that much time off.

Still, I think it was a first for the both of us.

We'll probably do the same tomorrow and Wednesday.

We are such rebels.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Something New, #182

As I may have mentioned once or twice, I don't sleep much. Last night, I was up until 1 AM putting the laundry away and ironing. I woke up this morning at 7 AM and couldn't go back to sleep.

So instead of laying in bed another hour, hoping to sleep, I got up, got dressed and went to the grocery store. I whispered to the girls I was leaving, went to the store, did my shopping and got back before they woke up.

It was a great time to shop, since the store was practically empty, and all the check out lanes were free. If I were braver, I'd try it in the middle of the night.

I'm awake anyway, might as well do something constructive.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Something New, #181

Every time I go downtown, I pass a store called Architectural Salvage. Every time I go by it, I think, "I'd really like to go in there sometime." We passed it last week on the way to the Obama rally, I asked both my friends if they'd ever gone in, and neither had.
The Little One and I were downtown again today, so I finally stopped in.
I thought I died and went to heaven.
Three floors of architectural salvage. A whole room of just hinges. Another of lamp globes. Too much to see in one visit, especially with an 8-year-old. I think next time I go, I'll take a lunch.
The really cool thing was, one of the owners had on the same Obama shirt I had on. Just another reason it's an awesome place. And hindsight being 20/20, I wish I'd asked them if they needed any help. I still might, if I don't find another gig quick.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Something New, #180

It kind of cracks me up, that in these "trying economic times", articles and stories about "cutting back on expenses" give suggestions like, "Brown bag your lunch," "Cut out premium cable channels," "Clean your own house, car, dog, etc."

Living just north of the poverty level for so many years, I cut that extra fluffy stuff out years ago. And no, I've never had anyone clean my house but me, so that one is really off base.

Instead of getting my morning coffee at Starbucks for $4.00+, I usually take my own travel mug and get an amaretto cappuccino refill at Quik Trip for eighty-five cents. It's from a powdered mix, but full of chocolaty and caffeiney goodness.

But with my impending unemployment looming, I couldn't even scrape up enough change for that this morning, so I improvised and made my own with home-brewed coffee and a packet of raspberry hot chocolate mix. It was OK, but not as sweet as Quik Trip's version. Which is probably not a bad thing. I think if I tweak it, I may be able to stomach it.

The silver lining is that because we do live simply, I can make very little and we still get by. Hopefully, I'll get a "real" paying job and we'll bank the rest.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Something New, #179

My Something New is that I drafted a round of documents for a case, and did them correctly on the first try.

Figures. I have 6 more days until my job is kaput and I finally get it right.

My boss is being so funny now, though. She's very by-the-book. Not strict or a hard-ass, but like me, is too chicken to act up too much. She suggested that since next week is our last week, we should make it like Senior week, and do nothing but watch movies and take field trips.

I can dig it. I've been at work for 3 hours today and done no actual work. I'm sticking it to the man.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Something New, #178

I learned that one does not put a baby in a paper shredder.
Seriously, is that someone's job to come up with stuff like that?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Somethingn New, #177

I learned that if an 8-year-old leaves the tub running, it will overflow into the garage below.

Something New, #176

Since we had hundreds of seeds from the Barack o'lantern, The Little One couldn't wait until next year to plant them, so we planted an indoor pumpkin patch.

I'm not sure if they will grow, but she will have fun finding out.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Something New, #175

Today I learned that it's probably not the best idea to let an 8-year-old make Kool-Aid by herself.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Something New, #174

This Old House

I live in an older house, built in 1962. Not old enough to be charming yet, but old enough to feel its age. It really has held up well, considering I've lived here for 11 years, and the only major things I've had to replace are the roof, water heater and dishwasher. The furnace is, and I'm not kidding, a Montgomery Ward model, installed in 1978. Every winter, I say a little novena to St. Montgomery, praying we get another year out of it.

There is a really funky smell that comes out of the drains every few months, and sometimes black ooze comes up the shower drain. I usually keep plenty of Liquid Plumr on hand for just such and emergency, but was out, so tried a home remedy I read about. "One squirt of Dawn, washed down with a teakettle of boiling water."

I'll be darned if it didn't work. Cleaned that sucker right out.

What is it about Dawn that works for so many things? And it has to be REAL Dawn, and NOT the generic kind.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Something New, #173

I took The Big One and The Little One to a Barack Obama rally, along with my neighbor, her daughter and my cute friend Jennifer.

It was held at the Liberty Memorial and so far, the estimates are the attendance was in the 80,000 range. Best behaved crowd I've ever been in.

I didn't actually see or hear well, but did catch glimpse or two, and got goosebumps. There was a helicopter that kept circling overhead and made it really difficult to hear. At one point my CFJ screamed out at one of the warm-up speakers, "We WANT to believe you, but we can't hear you!" Truly a sitcom moment.
I'm not sure if the girls understand the significance of this or remember it, but my grandmother made a trip to DC when she was six with her grandfather, and shook Teddy Roosevelt's hand. She didn't remember much else about that trip, but did remember he asked "How are you today, little lady?" At least they can say they were there.
It was a long wait, but I'm so glad I went. I felt like I was watching history in the making.

Something New, #172

"I'm Barack Obama and I approve this jack o'lantern."

I carved a fancy-schmancy jack o'lantern, using a tool kit from the dollar store and a stencil I got online. It took about 3 hours, including cleaning out the guts. The tools really did help, cutting into the fine lines and cleaning out the rind.
I don't know if it's something I'd do again, because I really don't usually have an extra 3 hours to carve pumpkins, but it was fun and something different.

Although I think it looks more like Bill Cosby than Barack Obama.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Something New, #171

I had 10 13-page documents that I was trying to fold and put in regular #10 envelopes. I was being cheap, and didn't want to pay the extra postage for the large flat envelope rate. Although, seeing how I'm out of a job in eleven days, don't know why I bothered trying to save the company some money.

Anyway, I couldn't get them flattened enough to fit in the envelopes until I had the idea to crease them tighter with the edge of a CD case, then sitting on them. A co-worker came by and was watching me and gave me that "What the hell are you doing?" look.

Hey, I don't think there's anything in the office as heavy as my botto.

I got them all in the envelopes, metered and mailed.

I hope the company appreciates my effort.
File this under "'Well, you don't see that everyday."

Yes. It is a cow carcass in the back of a pickup. Driving down State Line Road.

I'm actually rather pleased how well the photo turned out, considering I took it straight from the driver's seat.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Something New, #170

The Big One and I are reading the same book at the same time. We've read many of the same books, just never simultaneously.

It's been really nice. She's quite a bit ahead of me in the third book of the Twilight series, but I'm gaining on her. We talk about where we are in the books and I ask her what will happen next, and she won't tell me. It's given us something unexpected in common, and since she's 12 1/2, somethings in common will get few and far between.
It's given us new topics of conversation. An example is that the Edward character is protective of the Bella character to the point of obsession. I explained to The Big One that in the real world, if a boyfriend acted like that, it was a red flag of potential physical and mental abuse, not because he was trying to protect you from "bad" vampires. One of the characters' mortal life almost ends, due to a gang rape. The text was very subtle on this, and I had to read it a couple of times to make sure that was the intent of the author. That should give us another new topic to discuss.
I hope we can hold onto this dialog a little longer. Maybe I should slow down my reading.

Something New, #169

As I've mentioned before, I don't sleep much.

Some of this has to do with The Neurotic Dog. She wakes several times at night and paces, pants and scratches. She is home alone for most of the day, so I don't really blame her for being restless, but it is aggravating.

The other night, I had an hour to walk her while The Little One was at her Brownie meeting. I figured I'd wear her out good, and she and I would both sleep. We did 7 half-mile laps around the park, plus the mile round trip to and from the park, for a total of 4 1/2 miles. I was pooped, so I'd figured she'd be.

I figured wrong.

She spent most of the night scratching, scratching, scratching. I found no signs of fleas or any other bugs, and seeing how I just Frontlined her a couple of weeks ago, figured it wasn't that, but maybe some kind of allergy.

So the following night, I doped my dog. I gave her the contents of a Benadryl capsule in her food and she did sleep most of the night. I don't know if it helped the itching, but at least I got 6 hours of sleep in a row.

This may become our nighttime routine.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Something New, #168

I saw a segment on Oprah how a woman had cut her electricity bill in half by unplugging her "electric vampires." Since my natural gas bill went up $40, I figured I needed to make up for it somewhere else. So starting today, I'm going to make a conscious effort to unplug the TVs and computer before we leave the house and before bedtime. I don't know if it will do any good, but it can't hurt.

Speaking of vampires, The Big One got me reading the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. I did no chores yesterday, and laid on the couch and read most of the first one. I wish I were a brave enough slacker to have called in sick to read the second. I got the first three in the series for The Big One for Christmas, but may have to give them to her a little early.

We're planning on seeing the movie over Thanksgiving.

Edward Cullen...mmmmmm...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Happy Halloween

One of my neighbors has put a cemetery in their front yard in honor of Halloween.

I think this pretty much says it all.
The smaller tombstone to the right says "Art is next."
They also had tombstones for "Kenny." "Thirst N. Howell" and "The Mullet."
But the mullet never really dies, does it?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I realized what an extension of me my dog is.

We're both stubborn, neurotic, love to eat, smarter than what other people give us credit for, smarter than what we give ourselves credit for, and at the end of the day, just want to have our bellies scratched and our butts rubbed.

Something New, #167

I went with the middle school photography club for a field trip to the zoo.

While we were looking at the kangaroos, I asked the docent some questions. Learned a lot about kangaroos and zoos.
For instance, a kangaroo can have 3 generations going at one time. An infant, a fetus and an embryo. I asked how many baby kangaroos were born at this zoo, and the docent told me that all the animals in the zoo were on some kind of birth control. This is because of space and money issues, but also because they want to discourage too much inbreeding.

Never knew that.

Also, the kangaroos at the KC Zoo aren't contained. They pretty much just stay in their field and hop around. I asked if any animals ever escaped and he said just once, when a tree fell on the chimp hut and they got out. He said they had a problem keeping wild animals out, such as geese and blacksnakes.
Speaking of snakes, this is a lovely shot of Louise. She's a constrictor of some kind and weighs 75 pounds. She was very friendly and gentle, but her handler said she had bitten him once.

Something New, #166

I love estate sales.

My mother has worked for estate sale appraisers for over 15 years, and I've really gotten an education on them through her. I find some of my best Christmas presents at them.

So I stopped in on one by my office. Apparently, this estate sale appraiser thinks their goods were really awesome, because the prices were really high. Seriously, I can find new furniture cheaper at Nebraska Furniture Mart.

There was a corner wedding cake shelf I liked, but still too high. They were taking bids, and I won, for half the marked price. It still would have been half off the last day of the sale, but I've never bid on anything at an estate sale before.

It looks fabbity-fab-fab in the girls' bathroom.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Something New, #165

I attended my first, of what will probably be many, middle school band concert.


When the kids were in elementary school, they had band twice a day. Now it's every day. What a difference twice as much practice makes. I was pretty much blown away and so proud of the kids.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Something New, #164

Seeing how I'm about to be downsized, I applied with an employment agency. I've never used one, just have gone directly through employers. I had a 2 hour interview, and the two agents I met with seem to be fired up and think they can find something for me.

I'm feeling very ambivalent about it though. My boss, who I love, is really trying to place me with another attorney, so we can still work together, although I'd be on another payroll. If the world revolved around she and I, that would be perfect, but I am the sole income for me and my girls, so I have to just keep throwing spaghetti on the wall and seeing what sticks. I feel like I'm betraying her confidence, but I have been honest with her on my position.

Then I think, if we were men, this wouldn't even be an issue.

"It's not personal, Sonny. It's strictly business."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Something New, #163

I out and out lied to my kids to get them to eat something new.

I broiled tilapia fillets, cut it into little pieces and told them it was chicken. The Little One ate all of hers and The Big One was halfway through when she asked what it was. I told her and she spit it out.

"But you already ate half!"

"It's fish, I don't like fish!"

"But you already ate all of it!"

"But I hated it!"

Good thing they know where the peanut butter and frozen waffles are.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Something New, #162

I went to court today in a new courtroom. New to me anyway. Thought my boss was going to kick some serious BEYOTCH's ass, but the other attorney asked for a continuance.

We'll get her next time.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Something New, #161

I took a photo of a bumpersticker. And thanks to the technology I learned earlier, am able to post it.

It was in the back window of a pickup, and I thought it rocked.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Something New, #160

In my quest to redecorate the living room, I came up with a window treatment that didn't involve sewing.

I picked the windowpanes off the curb a few months ago, thinking I'd figure out some kind of project for them. I used resin, which I'd never used before, and glass pieces from the dollar store. I probably spend about $60, most of that on the resin. Resin's not cheap!

I actually hung them on the first try. Pretty shabby-chic, if I say so myself.

Something New, #159

I went to Ottawa, Kansas. Never been there.

Apparently, I wasn't missing out on much.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Something New, #158

Another technological first for me.

I'm terrible at remembering phone numbers. The only one's I have stored in my brain are mine, my parents' home number (since it hasn't changed since 1974), my BFF's number from the house she grew up in, my cute friend Mel's and my friend Anne's. So I have phone list numbers everywhere at home and work, and everyone programmed into my cell.

There is a realtor I have to call about every day, so it dawned on me I could program my phone for speed dialing. I have never used speed dialing, because I always figured I'd have to remember what number went with what name, and that would be another phone list, so what's the point?

But I think I can handle just one number.

Something New, #157

I entered a radio contest. The radio station's promotion is that you fax in a bill, and if they draw your name, they'll pay it. I faxed in my mortgage. I went so far as to program my cell to alert me at 7:20 AM and 4:20 PM when they call the names and programmed my cell with the station number.

I'm not taking any chances of missing out.

Something New, #156

I figured out how to eat edamame pods one handed by just squeezing out the peas until I had a pile, then eating them.

This is a very useful skill to use while holding a book or typing with the opposite hand.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Something New, #155

Instead of getting The Little One a physical present for her eighth birthday, I used her birthday money toward karate lessons. She's wanted to take karate since she was four, and since lately she seems to have trouble focusing, I thought karate lessons would help with that and kill two birds with one stone.

The lessons are 45 minutes long and just far enough away from the house and any close grocery or discount stores, that I don't really have enough time to run errands while she's taking a class. So I was looking forward to having 45 minutes to sit, read and breathe.

I was wrong.

Apparently, if you stay to watch a class, you also "volunteer" to be a parent helper. Not that I'm against being involved, but not what I had planned.

But for my turn as a parent helper I got to hit kids on the head with a foam block on a stick.

So it wasn't time wasted.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Something New, #154

Several times a year, outside my local Wal-Mart, either the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts or another group set up for troop fundraisers. I usually don't buy anything, because other than Thin Mint cookies, there's nothing I ever need. But this Cub Scout was so cute and so earnest, that I bought a $6 box of popcorn.

It better be good.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Something New, #153

We had a birthday party for The Little One's 8th birthday. The new thing was it was the first co-ed party we've had.

She has several good friends that are boys, especially B and C, who are also best friends, so I felt they would be fine with all the girls around.

Boys are a lot different from girls.

From the moment they both walked into the house, the energy changed. Lucky for us, the weather was good, and since the theme of the party was "carnival" we had everything in the backyard. We had a ring toss, junk food walk (like a cake walk, only the prizes are junk food), estimation jar, toilet toss (throwing wet sponges thru a toilet seat. The boys loved this one.) and rides on the rope swing.

The Little One had a great time so that's all that matters.

Something New, #152

I attended a BBQ, hosted by team Master Basters. It was great. Not only did I try a new food, cheddar cheesy corn, which was AWESOME, but I did so in a town I'd never been to.

I'm also slowly overcoming my fear of social activities.

When I was married to The Ex, and even while we were still living together, he worked in the restaurant business and had crazy hours. We had about two days off a month together and I could literally go 3-4 days without seeing him, even though we were in the same house. In fact, when we separated, we didn't tell The Big One for about 4 months, and she was so used to him being in and out, she didn't even notice.

Because of this, I spent a lot of time at home alone or with babies and toddlers. When we started living together, it was because I moved to another state to be with him, and then when we had our first baby, had just moved to another state. As someone who does enjoy socializing, but is somewhat shy, this was problematic.

And while dealing with his addiction, I learned to withdraw even more.

So after about 17 years of conditioning, it's been a slow process to get back into the practice of meeting new people and being in a group.

I started to feel that old panic again at this party, and was leaving, when a new friend came running after me. I did feel comfortable enough with her to let her know how I was feeling, and she totally understood, and said she had the same problem.

It does help talking about it, and just practicing.

"I certainly have not the talent which some people possess," said Darcy, "of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done."
"My fingers," said Elizabeth, "do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women's do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not preoduce the same expression. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault- because I would not take the trouble of practising..." Pride and Prejudice

Friday, September 26, 2008

Something New, #151

Although my babies have been out of diapers for years, I still keep a box of baby wipes in the car. Seriously, baby wipes can clean just about anything.

I had a job interview this afternoon, (FINGERS CROSSED FOR A SECOND INTERVIEW!!!) and forgot to bring my toothbrush to work so I'd be all fresh for the interview. I hadn't had lunch, but still had coffee breath and no gum. So I swiped a baby wipe across my ivories.

It didn't taste all that bad, and it did feel like I at least got the coffee film off my teeth.