Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Up, Up, and Away

I meant to post this yesterday but forgot to download the picture. It's not every day you walk outside your office and see a big puffed up hot air balloon...

I trekked all the way out to my car to get my camera because hot air balloons are just cool and need their picture taken. It would have been much cooler if it had actually taken off and flown away, but I imagine that's hard to do when it's downtown.

Trick or Treat

Remember that earlier post about the 3 big bags of candy we got for trick or treaters? You remember, the ones I'm desperate to give away because I've eaten my weight in Butterfingers and peanut butter cups? Well, guess how many treaters we had. Come on. Guess.


Greg and I were debating the cause. We never have tons of treaters, but we usually have 15-20. We think the lack of visits tonight was either due to the fact that Clinton had it's downtown carnival thing LAST night to keep from conflicting with church, but left the treating scheduled for tonight (and what parent wants to dress the kids up twice???), or the fact that we totally forgot to turn on the porch light until 7:15...


Earlier today I sat down at work and went to reply to a comment on the Tater Head Halloween post. I clicked on the link to my blog and... this page has been blocked. After some research, it wasn't just mine. Supermom - blocked. Stacey - blocked. Casper - blocked. Anything with blogspot in the the address - blocked. It was inevitable. So if I appear to be slacking my blog responsibilities, it's because our tech department just figured out what Blogger is.

Monday, October 29, 2007

What's a Tater Head's Favorite Holiday?

Happy Halloween!!!!
from the whole Tater Family!

Dinner - UPDATE

The only problem with having a big yummy salad with yummy chicken on top for dinner is that by approximately 7:32pm I'll certainly be starving again, and will proceed to devour the bag of Halloween chocolate that my evil husband opened and left within arms reach of where I'm sitting RIGHT NOW. What? It's 7:32pm? Excuse me, I have an appointment with Mr. Butterfinger.



Dreaming Big

I had a dream Friday night that Greg and I had quintuplets. That's right, five of them. Two girls, three boys. I woke up in a panic, and my very first thought was, "How in the world did we ever agree on names for five kids at one time???"

I told my mom about the dream and even she had a look of terror on her face. My dad was cackling, with a gleam of, "you'd deserve it, sucker!" in his eye.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Welcome Baby Darah!

Sharonda's an aunt! Darah arrived Friday afternoon and weighed 9 pounds, 14 ounces. Dang. That's a big baby. Somehow I don't think they'll need those newborn clothes! She's quite adorable, though. Look at all that hair! Unfortunately they live on the coast so I probably won't actually get to see her until they come for Sharonda and Victor's wedding, but Sharonda sent pictures. Here's a picture of Darah:

And one of Darah with her Aunt Sharonda and Uncle Victor:

Typical Morning at the Zoo

My parents live in on a tree farm and encourage visits by random critters of all types. This has created a rather entertaining atmosphere. watching from the back porch or dining room table. This morning before we left to come home was the perfect example. First there was the regular huge crane that likes to stand in the middle of the pond and taunt the cat. Add to the mix three young deer.

The deer romped all over the dry end of what used to be the pond, making their way around to where there's still a little water in the "deep" end. The crane was hanging out in his usual spot fishing. The cat was on the back porch contemplating how wet the grass was between him and the intruders.

Two of the deer ambled back off into the woods. The third one started stalking the crane. Literally. He splashed out knee deep into the water, clearly trying to sneak up on the bird that was almost as big as he was. He'd take a few steps closer, the bird would take a few steps away. They danced this dance in a circle all the way around to the levee. Meanwhile the cat had decided that instincts outweighed the dew filled grass and was commando crawling toward the pond. Granted, he was heading towards the dry end, because their ain't no way he's going in the wet end. Once he got down there the deer noticed him and got distracted, eventually abandoning the crane and wandering back into the woods after his friends. Next time we saw the cat, he was making a flying run up from the edge of the pond where he crane was. The crane likes to get right up next to the edge of the pond to lure the cat almost to the water's edge, then walk back to the deeper area just to frustrate the cat. This is the same cat that stalks the turkeys in the front yard, who do the same thing as the crane (fly about 3 feet away from him and go back to eating). That would be the turkeys that have walked up onto the front porch and tapped on the window.

This is exactly why my parents moved back home to the farm. There's nothing they love more than watching all their wild pets. Heck, even the cat just randomly showed up one day and stayed.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Forwarding Address

Disclaimer: This post has been edited to sound less confusing than the situation really is.

I've been abandoned. As of today, everyone in my office area has moved to the 3rd floor. Except me.

When I started this job 8 months ago one of the first things I was told was that I would probably be moving my office to 3rd floor. That's where the fellows' offices are, and I'm the Fellowship Program Coordinator. Later I was given the option of staying where I am, which is in a combo office/clinical area in the basement, near our conference room. Then there was talk about moving me to a nicer office area in a different building, where another portion of our staff works. I didn't care much for that option, as it's a pretty good hike away from the people I need to work with.

So let's speed this up with the abbreviated version. The basic conversation from March until this week:

"We have a space for you on 3. You need to be near the fellows."

"We don't know if there's room for you on 3."

"Don't you want to move over to the other building? You'll be all alone if you stay here."

"You'll be fine staying where you are."

"You can't stay where you are."

"We have space for you in the other building."

"One of the program directors is moving in next door to where you are now, you'll like being near him."

"You're moving to the other building. In two weeks."

My hope through all of this was to fly under the radar and hope they forgot about me altogether, which would result in me being able to stay in my current office. That didn't work. I was informed earlier this week that I have a space in the other building. That was generous phrasing. I have a closet in the back of a file room in the other building. I won't even start with the "Do you want to move your furniture instead of using the crappy desk we've squeezed in there now?" which is now, "You can't take your furniture, it has to stay."

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem working in a closet. I don't need much space. I offered to start bringing my own laptop and working from a table at McDonald's. Unfortunately, nobody took that offer very seriously.

I don't care what my office looks like or how big it is. I had a nice big classy office at the bank and pretty much hated it. The only thing I asked for was to stay in the same building as the fellows and the primary program director, which would also put me near the conference room that I frequent. So of course they move me to a building halfway across campus. I realize there are space issues and that I'm about as low on the totem pole as it's possible to be. But I did offer to provide my own equipment and work from McDonald's. At least it would have been in the right building!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Modern Medicine

A few random health notes:

My mom called a little while ago just to let me know her doc visit went great, the bloodwork and the ultrasound came back perfect. Each sigh of relief gets a little easier. (And when I responded, "So you're saying the baby's fine?" she absolutely cracked up. Luckily she raised us, so she's used to our bizarre tendencies.)

I posted that first in total selfishness. I don't have enough words to say how grateful we've all been at Mom's recovery from cancer and her lack of post-treatment complications. However, I found out earlier this week that one of Dad's cousins just had a tennis ball sized tumor removed from her brain, and there are several smaller tumors that will be treated with the gamma knife surgery. That is frightening enough by itself, but Beth is a breast cancer survivor. It's been many years since her initial diagnosis, but there is a good chance the tumors are related. By the time her breast cancer treatment was finished, the cancer had spread to her bones. The bone cancer is more manageable, but has left her with extreme pain issues which has led to a whole host of other problems. To say the least, it's been a very long and difficult road for her, her husband, and their 3 kids. They are now waiting on the biopsy results for the tumor. Going through this once was hard on us, I can't imagine going through it over and over again for so many years.

And finally, sometimes working for a hospital threatens to rip out my heart. Like when I see a tiny baby being taken back for a heart cath. I didn't even know they could do a cath on an infant. I don't know who the family is or anything about their situation, but I do know that the mother has more strength than I can imagine. She was standing and talking to a doctor calmly. If my infant was being taken in for a heart cath, I would likely be a puddle of goo on the floor.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Estate Planning, As Only My Family Could Do It

My mom has an appointment with her thyroid doc tomorrow to get an ultrasound and bloodwork done. I made the mistake of mentioning that to my brother, who decided having an ultrasound means she must be pregnant. He wasn't concerned about the possibility of a new addition, he was concerned about having a 4 way split of the inheritance. That would be 1/4 each to him, me, the baby, and the cat.

He immediately decided he would petition for guardianship of Football (the cat) so that he could claim the extra share. That leaves me with guardianship of the (non-existant) baby. Please note in this scenerio that my father inheriting is irrelevant, as he is expected to go ahead and finish off that heart attack in the event there is a 4th split. He avoided diapers for 35 years, I don't expect he'd take kindly to the idea of changing one now.

Disclaimer: My mother is in no way pregnant. My bother, however, is a looney-toon, and I am an enabler.

Monday, October 22, 2007

5 Things - Video Not Available

5 Things To Make You Grateful We Do Not Own A Video Camera

1. Dance
2. Dance
3. Revolution
4. for the
5. Wii

Trust me on this one. It's ugly. Real ugly.

UPDATE: It will be a miracle if either of us can move enough to go to work tomorrow.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Lost:: One Weekend

Blah. How can it be 8:30 on Sunday night already? Yesterday was crazy, with closet cleanings and grocery store runs and a bridal shower and not getting home until 11pm. Today I slept. A lot.

I know this sounds crazy, but I hate these days when I sleep. I woke up late, went to church, grabbed some lunch, got home about 1:15, then decided to lay on the couch and be still for 20 minutes before getting on with my afternoon plans. I woke up at 4pm. I was up for about half an hour before making the mistake of sitting down on the bed. Out again. It's not intentional, I had a list of stuff I was anxious to get done, but days like this I feel like I'm drugged and can't start functioning. I lost my entire day. And now I'm mad about it and want it back!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Presidential Press Conference

During lunch today Greg and I continued the conversation regarding the removal of excess junk from our house, which I mentioned in a post earlier this week. Meanwhile, I noticed on one of the televisions that President Bush was holding a press conference. I was sitting pretty far away, so I could see him but couldn't read any of the closed captioning or other information on the screen. His lips were moving but all I heard was mine and Greg's conversation. Based on that perspective, this is what I picked up from the press conference:

"My fellow Americans, today our country faces an issue that threatens our very existence. The excessive accumulation of crap in American households has left many families with no room to walk, much less dance wildly around house with reckless abandon. Do you even know what is in the pile of boxes stacked in your spare closet? When was the last time you fit in the clothes in the back of that closet? Are there really monsters under that bed, or are you really afraid of all the stuff you pushed under there so that you wouldn't have to pick it up to vacuum? Soon, it won’t just be the homeless living in cardboard boxes, but those with homes that are so full of useless junk that they cannot open their own front doors. We can no longer ignore the implications of this pending disaster, and must takes steps today to put and end to the increase, as well as reduce the current buildup, of crap in homes.

We are prepared to introduce an emergency pilot program this week which will provide a new and exciting opportunity to Americans with excessive crappage; An opportunity to begin pulling themselves up the mountain of unidentifiable stuff that has overtaken their world while supporting our political effort in other parts of the world. As we speak I have ordered 5 transport trucks to a home in Clinton, Mississippi to begin the initial phase of cleanup in one home. The crappage removed from this home will be transported by cargo ship to other countries as an alternative to economic sanctions. It is our belief that the citizens of these countries will become so distracted by the opportunity to collect useless trinkets and old worn out, ill fitting clothes that they will forget that they are supposed to be the bad guys, and will begin a lifelong fascination with things they don’t need. From this we can create an entirely new export system, exporting billions of dollars of used crap each year to unsuspecting countries who will then barter for peace, for fear of being cut off from their abundant supply of stuff…"

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Man Meme

Stacey posted this meme and it was pretty funny, so I thought I'd play along.

The Man Meme

1. Who is your man?

2. How long have you been together?
2 years next month

3. How long did you date?
10 months, give or take

4. How old is your man?

5. Who eats more?
Depends on which week it is. There are days I can give him a run for his money, and days when I barely eat.

6. Who said “I love you” first?
Ummm. Probably him. Yeah. I think it was him.

7. Who is taller?
Greg. Freakishly so.

8. Who sings better?
Nobody would call the noise I make singing.

9. Who is smarter?
He is, by far. He can do complex math in his head. I can't add two numbers with a calculator.

10. Whose temper is worse?
Neither of us waste a lot of energy on a temper, but I probably get irritated easier.

11. Who does the laundry?
Joint venture. I think it depends on who is out of underwear that day.

12. Who takes out the trash?
He does. When either of us remember.

13. Who sleeps on the right hand side of the bed?
I do.

14. Who pays the bills?
The auto-draft system at the bank. Except for the water bill, which can't be paid electronically, so I write the check to mail. I'm the only one with a stamp.

15. Who is better with the computer?
He works with computers and electronic equipment for a living. All I have is that special ability to walk into a room when somebody is having software issues and it magically fixes itself as soon as I sit down to look at it.

16. Who mows the lawn?
The 14 year old kid down the street.

17. Who cooks dinner?
It's a toss up between me and whatever restaurant we end up at. Unless it's been one of those days AND we're out of money, then Greg will cook something.

18. Who drives when you are together?
I can drive? Surely not. Nor do I remeber how to pump gas. And I like it.

19. Who pays when you go out?
I'm the keeper of the date money cash, so I usually hand it to Greg and he pays.

20. Who is most stubborn?
We'd probably have a stand off on that one. But I would win.

21. Who is the first to admit when they are wrong?
I'm never wrong. He's still learning that, but getting better.

22. Whose parents do you see the most?
His. We all work in the same place.

23. Who kissed who first?
Pretty sure we were both involved.

24. Who asked who out?

25. Who Proposed?
Greg. Although he broke the time rule I had set. I said we would NOT get engaged until we'd been dating at least six month, and he was free to ask any time after that. He didn't even make it to 5.

26. Who is more sensitive?
I'm more likely to show it. He's more likely to get hurt and never mention it.

27. Who has more friends?
I do. But he knows more people.

28. Who has more siblings?
We're even. I have a brother, he has a sister.

29. Who wears the pants in the family?
The pup.

Identity Crisis

So I just got another email about a workplace survey I'm supposed to do. I get a lot of these, because I work for a big place. One of the very first questions asked if I worked for the Hospital side or the University side. Um. I had to think about it. My job is split between two different budget areas and I have 4 different bosses, none of which actually claim me because I really don't have much to do with their primary work areas. I basically coordinate our department's fellowship program and act as a liason between our fellows and both the university and hospital, along with doing extra educational related "stuff" for both sides.

After much debate (coin flip) I chose one and continued to the next page, which asked for more specific information about the area where I work. None of them fit. I am an area unto myself.

I backed up and chose the other one, just to see if it gave me different options on the drop down menus. Nope. I didn't even get a second page. I was thanked for my participation and my survey was over.

Do you ever get the feeling you don't really exist?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Culinary Challenge

I'm co-hosting a wedding shower and need to come up with some very low-carb dishes, out of respect for our dilligently dieting bride. She doesn't really enjoy vegetables or fruit. She does eat chicken. And apparently lots of it.

Generally speaking, "low-carb" isn't something I'm good at. I could do a lot with veggies, but she won't eat it. This is one of the hardest culinary challenges I have ever faced.

Customer Service

I have pretty high expectations when it comes to customer service, so things like this tick me off.

I took my wedding gown to the cleaners in early June to have it cleaned and boxed. They told me it would take about 30 days, they box them in-house but had to special order the boxes. They'd call me when it's ready. No big deal, I'm not in a rush.

I called them mid-August becuase I hadn't heard from them. I figure I'd given them the wrong phone number or something, since that's something I'd do and not realize it. Nope. I was told that they had ordered boxes from a new supplier and when they came in they were poor quality, so they sent them back and had to reorder from a different supplier. No problem. Not only can I live with that, I appreciate the fact that they would make the extra effort to provide quality materials.

So now it's October. I'm starting to think this is ridiculous. I called them back today and spoke with the same woman. She remembered me. Seems they'd gotten some boxes in, but then ran out again. Then she said they had one left and she'd box it up for me this afternoon.

I probably would have been appreciative of that three months ago. Today I'm thinking that they've had my dress for almost FIVE MONTHS. Why didn't they order more boxes to start with? They knew how many dresses they had on hold. Furthermore, why hadn't they used the one box they had left? They had at least one dress that's been sitting there for five months! If I hadn't called them about it twice, would they ever have boxed it? If I were running that business, I'd want to box up every dress as fast as possible and get paid! I know two other women who are waiting to take their gowns to be cleaned/boxed, and at least one of them was waiting for me to get mine back to see if I was happy with this cleaners. Boy did they just screw themselves out of a referral.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


How is it that somebody who just doesn't shop has so much STUFF? I started trying to clean house this weekend an am overwhelmed by stuff. Every room in my house has clutter everywhere, but I don't hardly ever buy stuff! Where did it all come from? There's a table in our office that I use for crafty stuff. It's a full size dining room farm house table, which is big enough to house my sewing machine and leave room for scrapbooking and such. I can't even find my sewing machine. It's hidden under about a foot and a half of stuff piled across the table. I have 3 closets of clothes, but more often than not I have nothing to wear. Half of it either doesn't fit, is nice suits leftover from my banking days, or I don't have anything to match. Yet even when I sort and throw stuff out, I still have a house full of stuff left!

That brings me to the decision I faced earlier today. I have this pair of pajama pants, red plaid. I've had them since 1996. The cuffs are frayed completely through and there are holes in several seams. I still wear them on occasion, but I also have a couple of other pair that I wear more often. This one should be easy. Throw them out. The problem is that this pair of pajamas was the very last thing my Granny Butler bought for me before she quit recognizing me. She died in 1997. In 10 years I haven't been able to throw out that pair of pajamas. And didn't do it today. I think I'm beginning to realize why I have so much stuff. For everything I throw out, I've got 3 things I'm emotionally attached to!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Quote of the Day

Lauren's response to a comment I made about buying Edwin, who is 5, a Christmas gift labled for kids ages 7 and up:

"He can do 7+...this is genius boy we are talking about. He was telling me about bi-lateral symmetry this morning in the car on the way to school"

When I think of all the hysterically terrible things I could be teaching my godson, if only they lived less than 10 hours away, I just want to cry. At this rate he'll end up a regular genius instead of the evil genius I just know he could be!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

How to Drive a Pup Nuts Without Even Trying

My inlaws have 5 cats. Ok, so one of them is a dog, but I don't think anybody's ever actually TOLD Molly that she's a dog, so I usually just group her with the rest of the cats. Anway, the matriarch of the family is Pooh. Any time the inlaws are going to be gone for more than a couple of days we usually keep her. The other cats can fend pretty well just being checked up on at the house, but Pooh is different. For starters, she's pretty close to blind. She can see enough to get around with bonking herself in the head if she moves real slow, but rearranging the furniture really confuses her. Also, she doesn't eat the regular dry cat food that they leave for the others. She has to have soft food, or fresh chicken, tuna, beef, etc. In short, she's old enough to legally walk into a bar and order a margarita. She's earned a little special care.

This is the third time we've kept her and Casper is getting a little less obnoxious each time. The first visit was difficult. He's very accustomed to being an only pup and has an extreme fear of cats in general. They weren't fast friends. But Casper is a smart pup and soon learned that her food was better than his, so his priorities changed from stalking her (then running away if she looked at him) to sneaking her food. And her water. Because of course the water in her bowl is much better than his, despite the fact they are identical.

The second visit was during the middle of summer, and included Molly since it was too hot for her to stay outside the entire time. Casper only attempted to approach Pooh once, and it ended with a hiss and a swat, followed by Casper's immediate retreat. He turned his attention to Molly for the rest of the week and left Pooh alone.

When we brought her home last night he was pretty focused on obtaining the food and pretending Pooh wasn't there. Except he completely freaked out and ran around the house acting like the world was turned upside down. It's pretty funny to watch, so long as he doesn't actually go after the cat. Then we'll have to make an emergency vet visit. For Casper. There is no doubt in my mind that she can take him, fair fight or not.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Reading Material

Two weeks ago Greg and I had exactly zero magazine subscriptions. Today we have 9. No, I didn't lose my mind overnight. Two were a result of our vacation splurge, when we bought a bunch of magazines and each found one we liked enough to spend some of our "stuff" money to subscribe. The other 7 we're not actually paying for.

Yesterday I got a final notice from Delta that my Skymiles were expiring in November. I think I signed up for Delta Skymiles years ago, but I've never accumulated enough miles on any one airline to make opening the statements worthwhile. I've been getting these notices for a couple of months and just tossing them, but last night Greg opened one and asked why I didn't just cash them in for magazines... Huh? You can do that?

Oh yeah. You can do that. Most of them are one year subscriptions that you can get by cashing in anywhere from 500-1,400 miles each. I had 8,330 miles. Sadly, even with the seven subscriptions, I had about 2,000 miles left. The selection wasn't very good and I'd already picked several that I wouldn't ever buy in a store, much less pay to subscribe, just because they were free and it would be something different. I drew the line at Golf for Women and People en Espanol. There was literally nothing else on the list I could stand to have my mail carrier see. Not to mention I really don't need the additional clutter in my home or my mailbox!

The true test comes a year from now, when I start getting renewal notices in the mail.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

An Ounce of Prevention...

My office is raising money for the upcoming Heart Walk (I work with cardiologists). Today's big fundraiser was selling boxed lunches from Chick Fil-A.

So, basically we're encouraging people to eat fried chicken sandwiches, chips, and brownies to raise money to prevent heart disease. Or we're trying to boost business in the cath lab, I don't know which.

I realize there are much less healthy things to eat, but I'm thinking under the circumstances we'd have been better served to avoid the food sale altogether and find another means of fundraising.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Newest Addition to the Family

One of the benefits (or so I tell myself) of postponing unpacking after a trip is that once you DO unpack, you realize that there are hidden treasures among your bags and luggage that you inevitably forgot you acquired while on your trip.

I had the pleasure of rummaging through bags that still aren't unpacked yet and discovering one of those hidden treasures, purchased for me by my husband during our vacation. A clear display of his deep and clearly unconditional love for me.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Weekend Do-over

This weekend has turned out worse than I could have anticipated. Saturday was so bad I ended up just curling up in bed at 3:30 in the afternoon and sleeping for a couple of hours in an attempt to recover. I couldn't even begin to explain the pain, but I will say this: I don't shop in Jackson on Saturdays. The people, the traffic, the noise... even medicated it's more than I can handle. I knew better, yet I had no real choice. Thankfully Jen saved me from the meltdown that almost took me out in Belk, and when it was all said and done I was able to take my dress for alterations without further delay or incident. I did not, however, manage the unpacking or the house cleaning. Hopefully today I can work on it, except I'm trying not to rattle around too much so I don't wake Greg up. He had to work midnight until who knows when last night. When I woke up at 6:30 this morning he wasn't home yet, and I was asleep again when he did get in.

Since it's the one night of the year that he has to work overnight, of course I woke up in a dread panic at 4 am from a horrific nightmare that had nothing to do with danger to my family or home, yet I woke up convinced that something terrible had happened to someone, or that somebody would try to get in my house. I forced myself to stay awake for the next 45 minutes, half out of fear and half wanting to make sure the dream didn't pick back up when I dozed back off. I have weird dreams, but it's very rare for me to have a full on panic nightmare.

To top it off, I am missing church for the 4th week in a row. I was out of town the previous 3 Sundays, and today I promised to haul my big brother to the airport. He has to be there at noon. Luckily we're televised so I can at least watch the sermon. And I just realize it was Communion Sunday. Sigh. I'm seriously missing my church.

Finally, I whipped up a 3 cheese omelet this morning, which I managed to both burn and mangle. I never burn omelets. Ever! I make great omelets! I need a weekend do-over.

Friday, October 5, 2007

My D's Are Missing.

Since returning from lunch I have been working on completing some paperwork for an event we held right before I left for vacation. I have printed off the roster portion 3 times already. Every time I print it I realize I left something off or needed to change something. Now I realize that there is an entire row of names missing. Specifically, all of the names starting with D or E. I have the one I printed for the event, and I have the one I printed today. Other than the handful of new people I added, the only difference in the two are the missing D's and E's. Perhaps they got tired of waiting and left. Perhaps someone stole them. I don't know. I just know they are missing. If you see any roaming around, let me know and I'll come retrieve them. I always knew the L's and M's where mischievious, but I expected better from the D's and E's.


I read a lot of personal finance blogs. I can't help it. I may have an English degree, but I have a financial background. Blame my dad. He's always been very money aware and I picked it up over the years. Working for the Trust Dept of a bank for 8 years just compounded the interest (Ha! I made a pun!). I read a lot about personal finance and I live by the Dave Ramsey code. My faith tends to be ingrained in every aspect of my life, including my views on finance, so I'm a bit more fanatical about it than most. I do, however accept the fact that not everybody agrees with my personal views on personal finance (as Dave would say, that's why it's PERSONAL finance!) and the majority of the blogs I read make suggestions that I don't agree with, particularly regarding credit, from time to time. That's fine. I'm intelligent enough to process my own opinions and discard the information that I don't think has merit for my situation. I still read them because a lot of the other information is either useful or thought provoking.

I make that disclaimer so you'll understand that I'm not trying to pass judgement or ridicule anybody. Everybody has a different situation and what works for me may not work anywhere else. However, I almost croaked when I read one post today. A guy was talking about his personal finance goals, one of which was to increase his credit card cash back reward thing on one of his cards from about $200 last year to $500 this year. Huh?

He went on to say that so far he had over $200 in cash back, compared to about $130 this time last year. This was because his charges were up from about $11,000 last year to $18,000 this year. WHAT??? He even pointed out a couple of large luxury purchases he charged to make up some of that increase.

Ok, basic math. You spend an additional $7,000, you get an additional $100 refunded to you for using a credit card. Which means that $100 just cost you $6,900, plus interest.

I realize there's the "but he would have spent that money anyway, at least he's getting something back" arguement. But that doesn't take into consideration the cost of the risk of using the credit card. Or that the $100 won't pay one month's interest on those purchases. And if you've got the money to pay it off every month, why bother using it at all? Is it really worth $100 over 10 months? We make more than that off our money market savings account.

I'm not saying that the credit card bonus stuff is evil. Well, it is evil, but that's not my point here. My point is that I can't believe our society has gotten to a point where people actually set financial goals to buy more large luxury items on credit so they can get a tiny amount of that money back. It just doesn't make sense. That's not a financial goal, that's closer to a financial disaster waiting to happen. No wonder we keep having problems like the current sub-prime mortgage crisis. You just can't make money by spending more money on "stuff!"

And for the record, every time I see the Chase Freedom credit card commercials I want to throw something through the TV.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Tonight I had the pleasure of attending a fundraising banquet for an awesome organization. Ok, so I wasn't so much invited as I invited myself. I've got connections, so I basically told them we were coming and to find us a place at a table. That's not the point. I like being charitable, and this was one of the first opportunities I've had to write a check bigger than $25 to a non-profit outside of church. I've always given a little for walks and fundraisers at work, but have never had the chance to really support an organization financially, mostly because I didn't have the resources. Having said that, I'm pretty picky about where I give donations and I like to know how they use the money. I'd be very comfortable supporting programs like Camp Rainbow (for kids who have/had cancer, supported through American Cancer Society) and the McLean Fletcher Center (grief support center for children, supported by Hospice Ministries) because my friend Jennifer has been intimately involved with both and I know exactly what they do.

Tonight's fundraiser was for the Center for Pregnancy Choices in Vicksburg. Yes, there's a CPC in Jackson, but I haven't been BFF with their Executive Director since I was 12, so I don't know much about them. Sharonda became director of the Vicksburg CPC this past January and I've been blown away learning about all the things they do. Yes, they have the usual crisis pregnancy counseling services and offer free pregnancy testing, but they also have parenting classes, where clients can earn "Mommy Dollars" to buy things at their Baby Boutique, everything from clothes to car seats and cribs (for which they always need donations of new/gently used items, if anybody is tossing out baby stuff!). They teach clients how to manage life, not just pregnancy. They are a ministry, and very much pro-life, but not judgemental about people who feel otherwise. They do abortion alternatives counseling, as well as post-abortive counseling for grieving women and families, in a safe and confidential environment. They've started a new outreach program called Sexual Integrity, which focuses on abstinence as a matter of self respect. It's a program they offer for schools, church groups, any group that will listen to it. In short, it's an awesome organization.

I was very glad I crashed the party tonight. In addition to the fact that I'm always entertained watching Sharonda work (she rocks), it was a pretty meaningful evening for me.

Additional kudos go out to my dear husband, who not only went with me, but suggested I make the check out for more than originally planned. He rocks, too.

Random Things on a Weird Day

A couple of random things as I wrap up another hectic day:


(Picture the setting - I'm scrambling around setting up a last minute lunch presentation involving mostly men, with at least 2 being "guests.")

While not perfect, or even preferred, regular desktop tape can be useful in repairing a busted seam in the rear of your pants. Granted, it's not entirely comfortable, but at least only half of my 7,000 coworkers can now describe my undies.

I also want to point how how totally ashamed I am, as a Southern Woman, not to have a safety pin anywhere in my immediate possession. It's unforgivable. I stopped by my mother-in-law's office earlier because I know she has one - she always has that kind of stuff! - but she wasn't there. I hereby promise to never leave home without a safety pin again. Oh the shame.


I was in the elevator with a guy earlier and he gave me the standard, "How's your day?" greeting. Frankly, I'm a little tired of listening to myself whine, so I very purposefully responded with an energetic, "It's been great!" He gave me a double take and started laughing. He said something about how you never hear people say that. We then went on with smalltalk about the fair for the remainder of our elevator journey, and parted with a joint, "Have a great day!"

I have no idea who this man was. He wasn't wearing a badge so I assume he's a patient or guest. Whoever he was, he made me think. We may not have an effect on every person we see every day, but why shouldn't we? It made me concious of my physical presence as I walked across campus. I made a point to look at the people I passed, and to smile at them, maybe even nod in acknowledgement that they were there. Every single person smiled back at me. One even stopped me at that point to ask for directions. If I'd had my head down or looked as grumpy as I've felt today, chances are I wouldn't have been very approachable. Instead I helped make somebody's day a little better, and made half a dozen others smile for no real reason. And you know what's crazy, by the time I got back to my desk, my grumpies were gone and I was feeling pretty darn good for no real reason.

Then it occurred to me that they could have been smiling because my tape had come off and my undies were showing again. You just never know these days.

Survey Says...

I just want to go ahead and say that if I gripe about how tired I am on Thursday, it's my own fault. Actually, blame Family Feud. My husband got me hooked playing the Feud online tonight. It's currently 1:05 AM and we just quit to go to bed. We were pretty good at it, but not good enough to justify being up half the night after a particularly exhausting day at work, when we have a dinner thing to go the next night! Dumb. I know. But I just couldn't stop...

The funny part is that it's obviously a British version. For example, one answer I knew was vacation, but on the game they had "holiday." Other clues:

There was "What do kids hate to do around the house," to which an answer was "tidy their room." Who says "tidy?"

How about "What would you associate with a roast?" Beef? Pork? Nope. Lamb.

Or, "What would you put in iced tea?" Would the #1 answer be ice? Tea? Nope. Lemon.

The question, "What would you find in a country town?" My guess for the #1 answer was church. No. It was number 3. The #1 answer was pub.

Yep. Brits. Our motto the rest of the night was "Think Brit." I am proud to say that one of our highest scoring rounds was, "Name an actor who played James Bond." I knew every one. Oh yeah. That was a Thanksgiving Day tradition at my family's house. James Bond marathon.

All of that aside, the most interesting question of the night was, "What birthday present would you buy a stripper?"

I'm not even going to get into that one. To say the least, we lost that round, and I was completely offended by the last answer!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

5 Things - Welcome Back

5 Things I'd Rather Do Than Be At Work One More Minute Today

And I haven't even gotten to my voice mail yet.

1. Take a hot poker to the eyeball.

2. Suffer a potentially fatal paper cut gash from a manilla folder.

3. Get mauled by a large tiger with dull claws.

4. Sit out in the sun for hours without sunscreen.

5. Shop for clothes without a budget.

One thing not on that list - return to work at the bank. Based on 8 previous years of experience, the FDIC/State auditors should be walking in the door within the next few days for their annual examination of my former department. For the first time in 8 years, it's not my problem. With that in mind, I can now face my voice mail.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Help Needed

I gotta get a bridesmaid dress altered, but I don't know where to take it. When I got my dress altered for Jen's wedding I took it to a place in Byram that her mother-in-law used, and they were fine. I just hate to have to drive down there now, since my current job isn't quite a flexible as my old one. Do ya'll know anybody closer, that's either open past 5 or on weekends? I'm nervous about just picking a place, since it is a rather nice gown and I really need them to do a good job! If it comes down to it I'll take it back to the lady in Byram, since she did a great job on my other one.

Home Sweet Home

Got some pics up on my Flickr. I've been adding to the beach set and may have a few more to add, but it's mostly done now. Here's the link. I know, it's mostly zoo pictures, but I didn't figure you wanted to see the 400 pictures of sand and surf and beach birds!

I'm so glad we decided to take an extra day off to recover from the trip. I was worn out by the time we got home last night, but slept like a log in my own bed (I missed my bed!) and have been absurdly productive today. **Clarification - I haven't taken my ADD meds in 9 days, so I started taking them again today in order to readjust. The productivity is a by-product of that, not any big desire to DO anything today! ** Luckily the house we rented had a washer & dryer, so I came home with 99% clean clothes. BRILLIANT idea. I did not, however, come home with much real food, so I had to go grocery shopping. I also had to hit Walmart, where I hate to grocery shop. Today however, since I went at noon, it was really quite not-unpleasant, so I went ahead and bought groceries there instead of tempting fate and driving to the grocery store, which was probably a madhouse. Didn't find everything I wanted, of course, but I can live without panko breadcrumbs and couscous until the weekend.

Now for a pet peeve that set me off while shopping today. Spices. I love spices. Love to buy all kinds and play with them. Thanks to my magazine shopping spree, I went armed with several new recipes I wanted to try, which required a couple of spices that aren't currently in residence in my cabinet. As much as I love using spices, I hate buying them. Why? Because I need fennel for ONE recipe, which means I need like a teaspoon of it. But can you buy a small bottle? NOOOOO. Gotta buy a full sized bottle. And it's just odd enough that they only carry it on one brand. It was almost $5 a bottle.

Vacation is over folks. No more vacation budget. I had my trusty calculator, which said in no uncertain terms that $5 a bottle for something I need 1 tsp of is RIDICULOUS. No, I didn't buy it. I'll figure something out, or price it at the grocery store to see if it comes in a smaller container there. But you better believe that if I can remember next spring, I will be planting myself an herb garden!

Having said all of that, I had to laugh when I got home and started unpacking the groceries. I went ahead and started unpacking the food we brought back from the beach, too, and found the grilling sauce, spinach artichoke dip, and 3 jars of salsa (we ate one while we were there) that I bought at Harry and David. All of which cost more than the fennel, and more than I would have EVER spent out of my grocery budget. Once again, I clearly lost my mind while we were gone. At least it didn't take long to readjust to reality!

5 Things - Beach Trip

5 Things I Learned During My Beach Trip

1. If you open a retail establishment in Foley, it's an outlet. Whether you like it or not. Like, the Disney Store Outlet. The KB Toy Outlet. The Ford Dealership Outlet. The Hair Cut Outlet. The Local Bank Outlet. The Gas Station Outlet. Once you cross the city limits, I don't care what your store it, we're going to put Outlet on the end of it. Just know it's going to happen.

2. SPF 50 is a gift from God.

3. Signs that suggest a city have a zoo sometimes lie. It may be a ploy by the fuel industry to get you to drive an additional 30 miles.

4. Remember the game show Press Your Luck? Sure you do. You just don't remember it by that name. But there's a new version on the Game Show Network called Whammy. Now you remember. No whammy, no whammy, no whammy, STOP! Yep. We haven't missed our cable service, but after a week of watching the GSN, we may have to get dish.

5. The ocean gets angry. Very angry. Don't mess with it when it's angry.

6. After a certain number of meals consisting of seafood and fish, you really can get tired of it and crave good old beef. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't experienced it.

7. My pup really does love me, and misses me when I'm gone. Or misses being able to nap on his couch, one or the other.

Catching Up

Ok, so the internet access was so bad at the beach house that I gave up on trying to blog, but I did continue to keep a journal every day, so I thought I'd go ahead and post it now.


We made it to the zoo today, but that was about it. It was quite possibly the smallest zoo I’ve ever seen, except maybe Kamper Park in Hattiesburg, which is FREE. This one was certainly not free. And not as neat as Kamper Park. Except for the baby tiger nursery. They had four and they were adorable. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it more if I’d felt better, and if it hadn’t been quite so hot. By the time we left I was feeling pretty bad, so we skipped Bob’s, skipped an impromptu-ish trip to Pensacola, and went home. We eventually made a trip to chill at the beach, and ate at Tack Jack’s again. They have a fabulous ribeye sandwich. Yummmmm. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.


So we’d talked about driving over to Pensacola just to see what was there yesterday, but I was pretty sick and ended up dozing on the couch most of the afternoon. We made up for it today. We FINALLY got pancakes (I’d been craving them for 4 days, I don’t know why) and then decided to head East. No, I didn’t have a decent map! How hard can it be? Just drive along the coastline until you get to Pensacola, then stop at the Florida visitor’s center to get a better map and see what there was to do. Uh huh.

For those that haven’t driven from Gulf Shores to Pensacola, it’s not that easy. The road doesn’t follow the coast line, and yes, we got a bit lost. But at one point while turning around and heading back towards what looked like a big bridge to somewhere, we saw the magic sign. ZOO. I love a zoo. The sign also suggested a visitor’s center nearby, so we stopped there and got slightly better map and directions to the zoo. And a cookbook. I don’t know why, I just like cookbooks!

So my question is, if you’re in downtown Pensacola and see a sign that says Zoo, how far do you think that zoo would be? Five miles away? Ten? At least in the same city? Nope. Closer to 30 miles away, past Gulf Breeze, right before you get to Navarre! If we’d realized that, we wouldn’t have gone, but we didn’t and we were about to give up when we found it, so we went ahead and visited. First, it was too damn hot to be at the zoo. But we were. It was smaller than I expected, smaller than the Jackson Zoo, but we went through and then got on the train, which went through what they call an open reserve, but was really a somewhat open reserve. There were a lot of antelope type animals on the loose, but everybody else was just in bigger closed off areas. It was pretty cool, though. I liked the giant hippo, the rhino, and the gorillas. All the monkeys make me miss my pup, though. The best part? The otters. There were two of them, and as soon as they spotted us they made a bee-line for the glass and started jumping up on it, begging us to come play. Greg was convinced they were saying, “Throw the squeak! Throw the squeak! We’ll chase it!” That just mad me miss the pup even more.

Anyway, I got too hot at the zoo again, but at least I didn’t get sick from it this time. We found our way back to Gulf Shores, and to Bob’s for dinner. Ahhh. Home. I’m gonna miss Bob’s.


One of the reasons I love going to the beach is because I love the marine life. I can’t believe there isn’t a big aquarium here. There aren’t even any marine creatures at the zoo here. Very weird. But I do love to watch the creatures in the ocean. Last year we saw stingrays and I’d hoped to see some this time, but so far no luck. We did finally see a big blue crab today. Last time we saw hundreds, but we were here a week later, which may have had something to do with it. Anyway, Greg gets a little freaked out by the creatures in the ocean, but we both love to watch them from the beach. I have a huge respect for them. I understand that the ocean is their home, not mine, and that if they want to hang out on my stretch of beach they can have it, I’ll watch from my beach chair and stay out of their way. We knew something was out and about when we noticed schools of fish jumping periodically. I went hunting for whatever was chasing them, walking up and down the area staring into the surf. I was easing out into the surf for a better look when I saw the big blue crab. Well, Greg saw it and pointed it out to me. To say the least, I retreated. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that he’s more afraid of me and would run away if I accidentally got too close, but it was a little muddy and I wasn’t going to chance it! We sat on the beach and watched the birds chase the jumping minnows and dive for the ones that didn’t jump. It’s amazing to me to watch them dive, to watch the fish prey on the smaller fish, even to watch the waves break and the tide come in and out. I can watch it for hours, with the beautiful sunset as a bonus. I would love to live down here, to be able to appreciate the vibrant life of the sea every day.


Vacation must be French for “Spend every penny you have.” When we were budgeting for vacation I thought we set aside an absurd amount of spending money, we’d never spend that much. But it was ok, whatever was left we’d put towards a nice weekend somewhere we hadn’t been together, maybe Natchez or Memphis. Uh huh.

In nine days, we’ve eaten ONE meal at the house. And who spends $47 to visit the zoo? We do. Granted, it was two zoos, but still. I couldn’t tell you the last time I spent $52 in Books A Million. Oh wait, yes I can. It was this afternoon! You wouldn’t believe all the crap we’ve bought, aside from horrifyingly expensive meals twice a day and enough snack food to feed a family of eight for a month. I have a stuffed tiger from the zoo, a deck of flamingo playing cards, a crab magnet, a picture frame, half a dozen Christmas ornaments, two flamingo tumblers, a pile of new magazines which I will end up subscribing too (yes, they are all cooking magazines!), a new cookbook, two new atlas’s, a toy for Casper, four jars of salsa, an $8 bottle of grilling sauce, a board game, a $10 half pound block of fudge, and an aircraft carrier. And I’m sure I’m missing something. All of this from the woman who doesn’t spend money on anything. Ever. Something about the phrase, “It’s ok, it’s vacation money” seems to make buying stuff acceptable. Sigh. We have about $150 of the absurd vacation spending money left. Guess it’s a good thing we’re leaving Monday! We may be eating off the McDonald’s dollar menu on the way home!


It's out anniversary! Happy anniversary, honey. This has been the best year ever and I can't wait for the next one!