Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thoughtful Gifts

This one could be subtitled: Why I Appreciate the In-Laws I Have

I have a friend at work, K, who is ten years younger than me but got married about the same time I did, two years ago. She is in no way interested in starting a family at this time, but has been dealing with exactly the same junk I get from people, particularly in our office, who think that it's time. You know, like when one of us gets a cold and feels like crap and somebody comes in and says, "Are you pregnant?"

Um, I'm snotty, I'm coughing up a lung and running fever. I can see where that screams pregnancy.

Anyway, she was opening gifts in front of a room full of people at her in-laws' house over the holidays and guess what her MIL had wrapped up for her? Not one, but TWO matching baby outfits. Seems she'd had a dream a while back that K had twins, so she decided to start shopping for them. Merry Christmas.

Healthy Eating, Part II

So, after eating pasta for dinner last night I go get my cholesterol checked this morning. Would anybody like to take a guess at the results compared to my last check back in February?

Anybody?
Anybody?

You're all wrong. DOWN 31, thank you very much. And that would all be in my bad LDL's, as my good HDL's had only changed by .1, which was an increase. Basically, I rock. I'm just saying. I'm 5 points away from "very low" status. Bring on the raviolis!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Healthy Eating

Greg and I went out for Italian tonight. I ordered my favorite Marsala chicken ravioli. Somehow the waiter heard carbonara chicken rigatoni, which is what I ended up getting. Whatever. I ate it. It was tasty, but it wasn't my 'oli.

But the best part of the meal was at the end, when Greg said, "I'm sure an Alfredo is some type of vegetable..."

Monday, December 29, 2008

Winded Down

No, I didn't fall off the cliff. I've just been a bit anti-social. With the major part of the holiday over I've winded down and hopefully can get back into some type of routine. Maybe.

Greg and I have gone on something of an after Christmas shopping spree. By that I mean we bought new pillows for our bed. Granted, I still wake up from time to time having scrunched down so that I've got my head on the matress instead of the pillow, but I think that may be because I got used to sleeping on my old pillow, which was a lot like sleeping on the flat mattress.

We did buy a few other things, having a fist full of Christmas cash and gift cards. We didn't rack up quite as well as Clucky, but Greg bought the new 1TB hard drive he'd been drooling over. I picked up a 5 quart jumbo skillet with a hat, to replace my old one. I will miss the rusty flavor, but as with the pillow, I'm sure I'll adjust. I also snagged a crafty-supply bucket on sale 40% off, but passed on the cookie scoop. We don't need any more cookies in the house. Really. We don't. Oh, and we bought a new tree, half off at, of all places, Kroger. When your old fake tree starts shedding it's fake needles, it's time to suck it up and buy a new one. Just a little holiday tip for you there.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Gift Jackpot

I adore my Grandma. She's led one of those lives that appear incredibly ordinary but would make a great book about perseverance and strength. She's lived with insulin-dependent diabetes since she was young. The test-three-times-a-day and take-shots-at-least-twice-a-day kind of diabetes.

In the years before he died, my grandfather started slowly showing signs of mental deterioration. One of his irrational and rather unreasonable paranoid ideas was that my grandma's diabetes was aggrivated by the fact that she liked to read her trashy romance novels. Paw got it in his head that when she started reading one she'd forget to check her sugar or eat and it would cause her sugar to drop at night. She wouldn't stop reading, so he started taking matters into his own hands. Every time he'd find one of her books he'd throw it out.

Paw died about five years ago. Since then Grandma's diabetes management has improved quite a bit. She's better about taking care of herself in part because she no longer has to worry about taking care of everybody else. She also reads more books, especially during the winter when she can't get out in the yard much and tends to get lonely. Every year since Paw died I've gone to the used bookstore and bought a stack of 50 cent trashy novels for Grandma for Christmas. Every year she giggles at me and is delighted. This year the used book store had a very small stock of appropriate books, and they had gone up in price. I only found a few to buy and was rather discouraged.

A day or two later I got a message from a local lady on PaperBack Swap. She had a huge pile of books and was desperately trying to give them away to somebody who would read them. I found a few I was interested in and told her if she wanted to get rid of any of her Harlequin-type romances that I would gladly take them for my grandma. The nice lady just stopped by to deliver my books and threw in twenty-five romance novels for Grandma. Jackpot! It's going to be a very Merry Christmas at Grandma's house this year. And since she tends to trade among her sisters, it's a gift that should keep on giving!

I Laughed, I Cried...

A couple of days ago the book I'd been anxiously awaiting from PaperBack Swap arrived in my mailbox. Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog by John Grogan. 'Cause, you know, I have what some in my household believes to be the world's worst dog, although I disagree with that someone and consider him to be a good pup. Anyway, I pretty much read through it in two days, finishing it at midinight last night.

I'm just going to say that I haven't laughed that hard a book in a really, really long time. It's because I'm a pup person, and because I find the stories fully believable. More than once I informed Greg that Casper had to have some lab in him. The behaviors were too similar. Marley is a hoot of a dog.

The best part about it was that it wasn't so much just about a dog. It was about the relationship that grows between a dog and it's pet people, and how pets become family. It was an awesome book. But I will admit that I did cry at the end.

Ok, I didn't so much cry as bawl. Like a baby. Like somebody in my own family had died. Like, enough that Greg got worried for a minute. I couldn't talk. I couldn't breathe. All I could get out was, "It's a horrible book! Horrible!" Greg was like, "Um... you were cackling over it for two days, could't wait to finish it, and now it's horrible?" Yeah, he figured it out and just left me alone to finish it. Smart boy.

But no, really, it's an awesome book. I'd read it again, but I'd probably stop before the end and just go with the idea that it never ends. I'd like that best. And for the record, I won't be seeing the movie. Uh uh, no way. I'm sure it'll be funny, but I've read the book. It's too late now.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chicken

From a conversation with my husband this morning regarding his desire for fried chicken, which, by the way, he never asks for:

Me: "Do I need to make you fried chicken? I have some chicken in the freezer."
Greg: "No, you'd burn the house down."
Me: "I would not! I've fried chicken before."
Greg: "No, that's ok."
Me: "I fried chicken a lot before I left home. I never caught anything on fire."
Greg: "I'd just rather you not do it in our house."
Me: "I fried wontons for you the other night! We didn't need the fire extinguisher."
Greg: "But that was in a little small pot. We could have put that fire out. I don't think you need a big vat of hot oil at the house."

Me: long stare
Greg: "You can make friend chicken if you want to."
Me: long stare
Greg: "I'm never eating fried chicken again, am I?"
Me: long stare
Greg: "Or wontons..."

Monday, December 15, 2008

So Close...

I'm one trip to Bass Pro Shop away from being done with the whole Christmas shopping thing. Unless my mom needs me to help her find a couple of things she's still hunting for, which I probably need to call her about before heading to Bass Pro. Otherwise, I'm pretty much done with this.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Appreciation

There's a lot I could gripe about today, most of them including the our bizarre fluctuations in climate. Instead, I'm having a moment of appreciation.

My 7am faculty meeting that was scheduled for today was moved to noon. I did not have to drive myself to work through the flooded streets at 6am. Appreciation.

Along those same lines, I didn't even have to walk a half mile across the flooded streets in the sleet/rain to get to the office, since my dear, awesome husband dropped me off at the front of the building under the canopy. Appreciation. I wasn't even outside long enough to get cold. (Unlike my sweet husband, who sacrificed himself on my behalf and is now trying to defrost himself while drying his shoes and socks in his office.)

I would rather be at home today, torturing my pup by periodically tossing him out into 5 inches of snow. But in the spirit of taking what I can get, I'll just be happy to be warm and dry in a building where everyone else is cold and soaked.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More on Squash

It's not just me. Remember when I got all excited about finding a chayote squash at Kroger? Well, today one of the food blogs I read had a post about... yep, chayote squash. Seems it's not well known to those outside of the Latino community (which a commenter had mentioned on my original post) but are quite versatile.

And for the record, I did make a point to visit the Dogwood Kroger to get a chayote a couple of weeks ago when I couldn't find them in Clinton, but last week the little green guy was back at my store. I'm pretty excited. Over a squash. Perhaps I need to get out more. I'm also psyched because my great wonton honey-vanilla sauce copycat experiment, which I don't think I've mentioned yet, has seen great progress of late. More on that later...

Forgiveness

When I got home yesterday I had the Sunday paper waiting on the back of Greg's car. I had told Herman not to worry about it at this point, just see if they can find my house before next Sunday, but he hooked me up anyway. Thanks, Herman. And the best part was that I ended up with a duplicate of the good coupon insert. Awesome.

I make this point as a lesson in personal relations. I wasn't happy when I called them on Monday, and the phone jockey I talked to first was kinda short with me in return. When Herman called me back mere minutes later, he was very nice. I ended up talking to him 3 times, and he offered to personally deliver my paper if I ever have another problem (which I would never expect him to do!). His kindness and attention brought out a much better attitude in me, which created a much better result overall. I harbor no hard feelings toward the paper, mostly because of his excellent attitude. When I called back on Monday (for the second time) I was ready to just cancel the whole blasted subscription. Instead I got excellent treatment and was quite pleased. Sometimes problems happen with companies, but the true test is in how the company reacts and treats you while solving the problem.

Now I think I'm going to go find somebody at the CL to send a nice note to regarding Herman. I complain enough when I have bad service, so I make a point to pass on praise as well.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bahumbuggedness - Failed

This morning I get an email from BFF Lauren:

In an attempt to pull you out of your humbugness and make you smile I submit the following…










You win. Nothing will pull me out of bahumbugness like remembering how much fun I have with my flying Super-Pooka. And yes, I bought him that ball house for Christmas one year. I can't believe how much he's grown since then!





Or that she cloned him...
(Yes, Lauren, I stole those last two from your Flickr.)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Jackhammers in the Mornings

Our new city library is in the works, after almost ten years of blah blah blah about it. I'm elated to be getting a new library. I love going to the library, but our current one is the size of a postage stamp, not to mention old and outdated. The new one is being built directly behind my house. I'm reminded of this every single morning when the construction gears up somewhere around 7am. And yes, they are working weekends. The only upside is that it makes my pup nuts, which does provide me some mild enjoyment.

Last week I saw this link to the new library website in our paper. I went there to look through the gallery pictures and make sure you couldn't actually see my house in any of them. You can't, it looks like they're focused on the other side of the property where the assisted living facility is. However, I can see the construction equipment from my back yard and will be able to see the building once it's done, if I don't go stone crazy from the noise and move before then. We've been debating having a privacy fence put up in the back now that they're serious about building this thing. I'm also debating on having a ladder built in so I can just climb over when I want to check out books.

They seem to have done a good job on the website though. The floorplan looks cool and I can at least keep up with what they're doing via the schedule and pictures they've posted. If I can survive the 500 days of building, I think I'll be quite happy with the finished product.

Hibernation

I'm pretty much ready to go into hibernation for the winter. I need to get over my bah-humbuggedness, but that's easier said than done.

My friend and her husband went trudging through the forrest looking for the pup on Saturday, but with no luck. K said she came out scratched up, soaking wet, and covered in redbugs, but without any sign of the pup. The nice people at the hotel had seen her Friday morning, but still no luck in catching her. Sigh.

In less important, yet still irritating, news, I've gone three rounds (literally) with the Clarion Ledger this morning and want to bang my head against the wall. Seriously, I suscribed to the Sunday-only paper a little over a week ago. I got the first one last week, but nothing this week. They're batting .500. I called yesterday to report it and get it redelivered. No luck. Went out about 8pm last night to find one, no luck. Called back this morning and was told they'd credit my account and redeliver on Tuesday. Because I just love 3 day old news. I've gotten two more call backs since then, one telling me they left it at my door. I'd have tripped over it if it was at my door. I wonder which one of my neighbors got my two papers yesterday. And all my coupons. Really, that's the irritating part. To their credit, the guy that called me back was super nice and said they'd deliver it today, but now I'm wondering if they even have the right house. Sigh.

To top it off, I had a not very nice email from a resident this morning letting me know that my fellows haven't been showing up to give their morning lectures, thus wasting the residents' time and not providing them the educational information they require while on our rotation. One in a string of problems I've had with them slacking the administrative duties lately. Wish I had some authority to smack them around, but I don't. And nobody else seems to care. Sigh.

I'm so done with this week.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

People Who Are Awesome

A friend of mine has been traumatized this week due to the loss of a pup that went AWOL while on a potty break during their holiday travels last weekend. I didn't realize until this morning that the pup got away at a gas station in Newton. When she told me that I immediately thought... hey wait, I know a pup-person in that area...

So I gave a shout out to Clucky, who left work to go look for the little fugitive. She wasn't able to find her, but while canvasing the area she talked to some folks who had seen her and tried to catch her as recently as this morning. My friend was very glad to hear that. They have been very worried about her with the cold weather and can't get back to look for her until the weekend.

Now, I don't think it's much of a shock to hear that I'm a bit of a softie when it comes to critter, and a HUGE softie when it comes to pups. Dog people tend to have this innate concern for any dogs, doesn't matter who they belong to. This little pup had been treated poorly by a former owner and as a result is quite scared of men. It breaks my heart to even think about it and right now I just want to go home and hug my pup. Clucky's a critter person, too and knows that a lost pup needs its people as much as its people need the pup. Thanks, Clucky, for all the help. Kelly and I are bothy insanely grateful. Just knowning she's still there is a huge relief. I owe you. Big. You're awesome.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Week After

I feel like survived the Thanksgiving holiday more than celebrated it. But that's ok. At least I survived it.

And really, it was just yesterday. We were up at the crack of dawn because DON'T EVER LET HOME DEPOT INSTALL ANYTHING. In an unrelated situation, thanks to my father-in-law we think the roof leak is fixed with minimal expense. He did find two soft spots while walking the roof so we'll have to deal with that at some point, which will not be minimal expense. I guess we'll see how well it holds up when the rains come again Wednesday.

Aside from that, there was another mouse issue, which I don't want to talk about because I'm still a little traumatized. Unfortunately for the mouse, it did not survive the Thanksgiving weekend. Sorry mousy. I'm very glad I have a husband to deal with those things because I just can't. Really. I can't.

The bright side is that I got the bulk of my major Christmas shopping done on Friday. And by that I mean I ordered gifts for my four boys online, to be shipped directly to their homes so I don't have to try to get them packed and shipped myself. There will be a few less homeless dinosaurs, airplanes, and microscopic organisms this holiday season.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thankful

On this holiday, when we all take a moment to recognize how thankful we are for all the blessings in life. I'm certainly grateful for pretty much every single thing in my life.

At this particular moment I'm pretty thankful for the fact that we've got enough money in the bank to pay to fix the leak in our roof and to repair and repaint the sheet rock in the bathroom. I'm also thankful that Greg found where the water was pooling before the entire ceiling fell in. Because that's certainly something that would happen to us during the Thanksgiving holiday. I'm even thankful that we decided not to make the trip back to my parents' house for the weekend. If we had, we wouldn't have found it until sometime late Saturday and would probably have a much bigger mess on our hands.

Meanwhile, I'm ignoring the fact that my psycho pup won't set foot into his brand new $100 doghouse that we got for him.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Yankees

The new guy in the office is "not from here." Technically he's more from the midwest than a Yankee, but the concept is pretty much the same. This has been evident over the past few weeks, but never more so than today. The day before Thanksgiving, when people randomly bring piles of food for everybody to snack on after warming up their mad cooking skilz in preparation of the big day. So the new guy just went after a cinnamon roll and came back saying,

"Robbie is also passing out something called a 'sausage ball.' It appears to be something like a biscuit with cheese or something."

Dude. It's not a biscuit with cheese. IT'S A SAUSAGE BALL. And every person in the office, except for you, knows exactly what it is. Next he'll be trying to describe grits.

Seriously. It hasn't even started yet and I think I need a break from the holidays.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Secret Lives of Pups - Revealed

Sorry for the delay on busting my pup, but we did early turkey with the Crazy Lady's family this weekend.

And the pup was, indeed busted. Greg has said from the begining that he needs to be paying rent, and I've always said he needs a better job. Turns out he has one. Who knew???

I became suspicious when I started seeing trailers for this movie. So Friday we went to an early showing to find out for sure. People, that's my dog.


All I know is that we should be receiving royalty checks in the mail any day now, and he can start paying his rent. After all, it looks like my pup...

Acts like my pup...




And they have the same super powers.

We should be rich shortly. Meanwhile, if anybody wants to gain a better understanding of Casper's psyche (and yes, I originally accidentally typed psycho, which is probably more appropriate), go see Bolt. 'Cause that's my dog. And because it's a hysterically funny movie for dog people. If you're not a dog person, you probably won't get it. If you know Casper, you'll not only get it but start trying to figure out which character was based on you, because that's my dog. You'll recognize the super stare, the super bark, and of course, the zoom zoom.

The problem now is that Greg wants a hamster.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Secret Lives of Pups

I think my pup has a secret life that I wasn't aware of. I'm going on a reconnaissance mission this afternoon to get more information. Since I've been keeping crazy hours at work all week, I'm leaving at 3. Hubby is picking me up and we're going to get to the bottom of this mystery... I'll let you know what I find out. If he's been up to what I think he's been up to, he owes us some serious rent.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pick Your Poison

Since I know I have a rather varied readership, I thought I'd give everybody some options for laughing at me today:

1. Gee, apparently I wasn't imagining things when I though I heard the sound of ripping fabric this morning as I sat down in my office. Thankfully, it was only the lining of my pants that ripped completely down the back. Might I add "one of only two pair of nice, expensive pants that I own, which probably match the value of the rest of my wardrobe combined." I can only hope the outer seam holds up for the rest of the day. Unfortuantely, this is not my first ride in this rodeo.

2. As a follow up to yesterday's anniversary post, where I suggested a relationship bewteen the night Greg and I met and this post. You see, we had started out with a plan for a group outing to see a midnight movie release but in the end there were only 3 of us dorky enough to actually go to a midnight release on a Thursday night: me, Greg, and our mutual friend Mel. Mel and I had seen several midnight releases together over the years, so this wasn't unusual for us.

We left the movie at approximately 3 AM and were walking across the dark parking lot when I suddenly disappeared into the night. Greg, who had known me for all of like 3 minutes and didn't yet realize that I'm freaking magical, became concerned and expressed his barely pre-panic concern to Mel, who had known me for years and was actually the person who pushed me to get my ADD medicated. Mel's response was, "Eh, she went looking for her car. She'll find it eventually." Sure enough, I'd suddenly realized that I had no idea where I'd parked and had gone in search of my car. I just forgot to tell them I was going. Rumor had it Greg was a little freaked out by this until he actually got to know me. Thus, the car locators, which we refer to as Hidden Mickeys, since they're usually some form of Mickey Mouse antenna toppers.*

3. Greg's family will appreciate this one: Last night I was munching on a can of mixed nuts when I made the mistake of reading the label and noticed the ingredients included peanuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, filberts, and pecans.

Me: What's filbert?
Greg: (Googling "filbert") It's the cousin of the hazelnut, only smaller.
Me: (digging through nuts to pull out a filbert) I thought those were hazelnuts.
Greg: They mostly the same thing. They're cousins.
Me: That'd be like me being married to Benji...
(Silence)
Me: I was going to go to bed, but now I'm afraid I just gave myself nightmares.

I'd just like to point out that one definition of "filbert" from Wikipedia is:

Slang: a lunatic; an individual wholly unhinged; predominant neurotic tendencies (e.g., "a nut").

I will let you draw your own conclusions.


* I also later found out that the day before we actually met he had told someone else that he had found the woman he was going to marry. This was due to a comment in an email we were circulating while making plans for the movie, in which I called the man, who I had never met, a crack monkey. I would like to point out that my original assessment was correct. He has since repeatedly told people, "She had me at crack monkey."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Random Things I Remember

First off, happy anniversary to BFF Jen and BFF-in-law Rob! Oh, the wonderful memories I have of their wedding. The ever-so-pleasant wedding planner, the near catastrophe with the live butterflies (are they still alive? I dunno, shake it...), but most of all the fact that at the end of the day they were happily married and now I'm under 100 days away from my very own local Figment. Good job, guys.

That said, when I realized that today was Jen's anniversary I also realized that I missed another important anniversary yesterday. It was 3 years since Greg and I met. Sorta. There's still a little debate about the actual date, since we were going to see a midnight movie and technically we met at like 11:30PM but the movie actually started at 12:01 and blah blah blah. I still contend that it was the 17th. Perhaps later, if my brain goes to complete mush, I will recount the best part of that story for you, and how it relates to this post.

As Greg has repeated said, I had him at "crack monkey."

aksndlbeioz;lkjarewa

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, but I don't function well when my work day starts at 6:30 AM. Today is the second time in the past four work days that I have had the disgruntlement of an awesome parking place in exchange for seeing my desk before the sun was past the horizon. The next couple of weeks won't be quite so terrible, as my meetings will start at 7:30 instead of 7. Why doesn't that give me comfort?

The worst part this morning was walking across the street, cold and shivering, thinking about how much worse it will be for our December faculty meeting, also scheduled for 7 AM, toward the end of the month. I'm pre-miserable in anticipation.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Disappointment

Our new Kroger opened this weekend. I knew better than to try to go on Saturday because the massive swarm of people would ruin the experience, and I was pretty hyped about the new store. So I waited until about 6pm on Sunday to go.

I should have waited longer.

There was still a massive swarm of people there, but they weren't shopping so much as socializing. With their buggies parked in the aisles. No amount of staring and foot tapping could get them to move. And some of them were employees. Now that set me off. Granted, that wasn't Kroger's fault, but it put in a very grumpy mood from the start.

I was pretty excited that I would finally get to use some of my good coupon deals on stuff that hadn't been stocked at the old store for the past few weeks. Except most of the things I had good coupons for were still missing. Seriously. They'd been open less than 48 hours and were completely out of the hot chocolate we like to buy. And the sugar. And the taco kits. Plenty of other things to buy, just not the things I could get with my good coupons matchups! At least I did get my tomato sauce before those coupons expired this week, but I'm afraid the three cans I bought wiped them out. Sorry.

And finally, just because I'm a nerd I happen to be familiar with the normal price of my regular purchases. I know how much the ground beef I buy costs. Or at least I used to. Apparently it costs an additional 20 cents per pound to ship it across Hwy 80. I haven't decided if the randomly more expensive items are a result of the move or a result of the general price increases we've been seeing, but I had noticed that most of the prices had finally leveled off over the past few months.

Yes, it's a nicer store. Yes, it has a much broader selection of products overall. And yes, I know that after a few more trips the crowds will thin out some and hopefully they'll actually have stuff in stock. And I'll get the new layout figured out so that I can find things without making four trips across the entire store while playing dodge-the-buggies. And the parking situation will hopefully improve. But in the meantime I'm going to miss the old store.

Talent

I was standing the hallway talking to a coworker a few minutes ago when she pointed out that I had spilled hot chocolate on my shirt.

On the back of my shirt.

I always wondered what my talent was. Now I know.

Friday, November 14, 2008

3...2...1

You know would be the coolest thing about living on the east coast of Florida? Being able to see all the shuttle launches.

Night launches would be much cooler in person than on TV, but it's still incredible to me. Right now Endeavor appears to be little more than a flashlight beam on my TV, but to be there, watching that point of light above you, flying over the ocean, getting smaller and smaller as it nears orbit has to be an awesome sight.

May God be with the shuttle crew on their mission and give them a safe return.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bad Hair Day

My apologies for being somewhat anti-social of late. I'll blame it on the weather and being a bit busy. Sounds good anyway. In light of not having enough functioning brain cells to actually put together a post, I thought I'd offer up my current method for finding my car in a crowded parking lot.


It's my new antena topper, one of serveral we picked up at Disney. I assure you, my car may look identical to 1/3 of the cars in any given parking lot at any given time, but no longer have trouble finding it! This was one of my favorites. We have similar haircuts.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

OOOHHHH!

I just got to see the latest sonogram pictures of BFF Jen's little cutie, Figment. There's a little face in there! I'm completely stoked to see her in a few months, less than 100 days left now. I'm wondering if I can take FMLA leave when a BFF has a baby. Seems fair to me. I certainly could have used it when BFF Lauren had hers!

And just for the record, based on the latest pictures, I think Figment looks a little like me...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday

Today feels kinda pointless, since we have tomorrow off for Verterans Day.

Yesterday was BFF Lauren's birthday. Happy birthday, Lauren!

When we were at Disney we ate at a restaurant that served chayote squash as a seasonal vegetable. It was fantastic and I was completely convinced I'd never have it again, since it's native to the Carribbean. Last week I was fumbling through Kroger and saw a funny pear-looking thing over by the acron squash. According to the sign, it was a chayote squash. I squealed, bought it, and cooked myself some last night to go with the lasagna. It was quite possibly the tastiest thing I'd had all week, with the exception of the incredible lasagna itself. I think I'll cook more tonight. The recipe I used only took about 5 minutes to whip up.

And finally, speaking of Kroger, mine has no food. I started noticing the trend several weeks ago when they didn't seem to be restocking certain specific things I like to buy. Then gradually they quit restocking anything, then things started disappearing off the shelf in bulk. I finally broke down and asked a nice lady when they were opening the new store, because I couldn't find half the things on my list last week, and it's gotten worse since. November 15, she said. I can't wait to actually grocery shop again!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Birthday Greeting

Happy birthday, Big Brother!




BB's had a rough year, probably one of the worst he's been through. I don't think he was particularly looking forward to his birthday today, but I wanted wish him a happy one anyway. Hopefully things are starting to get back on track and next year can be a little easier. Despite all the difficulties, he did managed to come in 3rd in overall points racing Dad's Studebaker this year, so I guess that's a start!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Randomness

A couple of random things today:

I'm probably the only person in the country who is totally excited to be making payments for homeowners insurance and property taxes right at the end of the year. This will be the first time they haven't been paid by the mortgage escrow account. I'd much rather write both of those checks once a year than continue to make mortgage payments every month!

Second, I was thinking this morning about the whole controversy over Gov Palin's wardrobe, which was said to be going to charity after the election. Well, the election is over, and I'm wondering exactly which charity is going to be recieving those clothes. I only ask because I think we're about the same size, and she did have some cute stuff. I'm thinking that if whatever charity gets them needs somebody to pass them on to, I'd be willing to accept some of those boots or something. Just saying.

And as a side note, Mistletoe Marketplace starts today. I am happy to tell all of you who are participating this week that I will do my best not to add to the crowd you have to fight. I figure it's just a little something I can do to make your time there a little more pleasant. No need to thank me. Really. I do it because I care.*

* And because I can't tolerate the crowds and was totally miserable the one time I went. But really, I'm doing it for all of you!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Shorts

*Disclaimer - this conversation was regarding a fantasy stock portfolio, not real money. I guarantee you, even if I had enough money to think about individual stocks, which won't likely ever happen, I wouldn't have the nerve to short sell anything. I'm a big investment wimp.


Email I just sent to Greg after seeing that the DOW was down well over 400 points:

"wow. market down 460ish? nice. i need to go check my portfolio. i almost said i needed to go check my shorts, but that just sounded funny. "

300:1

Today is the day when I sit down and answer the big pile of email I get each week asking questions about our program application process, which runs from now until February. Last year I created a Word document where I save a variety of responses based on the most common series of questions I get, so now I just copy and paste the closest answer and tweak it to the specific email. That does make my life quite a bit easier this time of year.

This is the first week I've had to do a mass response, over the past few months it's just been one or two a week and I could usually handle those as they came in. What volume am I talking about? Last year we had just under 300 applications for 4 open positions. This year I anticipate we will have 2 open positions, one of which could likely be taken as an exception. That leaves 1 position for 300 applicants. On one hand that could simplify the interview process. On the other hand, it's going to make selection an absolute nightmare.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Chocolatey Goodness

Back in June our favorite indepently owned coffee cart on campus was forced to shut down and move out, leaving us with only the hospital coffee carts and their water-based hot chocolate flavored liquid. Not acceptable. The started construction on a new Cups that will replace the favorite coffee cart, but it's been constructing for months with no real sign of ever opening. Last week I became desperate enough for hot chocolate to visit the sub-quality coffee cart, only to find their hot choco machine was broken. I went by the cafeteria, their hot choco machine was broken. I went to the second sub-quality coffee cart location - you got it. Broken. Sigh. I ended up bringing my own hot chocolate mix and buying a carton of milk to make my own.

But today there was a ray of sunshine. I got notice from my dearest hubby that he had spotten the first sign of the new Cups being open. He had spied somebody walking down the hallway with a Cups cup. I immediately planned and executed a mission to see for myself, which resulted in a cup of real chocolately goodness. Granted, at over 3 bucks a cup I won't be indulging in chocolatey goodness often, but for now I'm a happy, chocolatey camper.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Preparedness

As I've mentioned before, one of the things that I strive for and that often frustrates me is organizing meals, including lunches that we can take to work. Most of the things I like to cook take a while to prepare, so they don't usually get made during the week. If I'm cooking something simple for dinner it often means we don't have leftovers for lunch. If I don't cook big on the weekends and a least once during the week, we end up in trouble for lunches. But thanks to an idea presented by my brilliant husband, I was able to make some preparation tonight for lunch-time goodness. Yesterday Greg said the magic words, "We should go buy a ham."

Siiiigh. The H-A-M. We actually do have to spell it around the pup. He learned that word early in his puphood and if he hears it he'll stalk you. The H-A-M tradition started when I worked at the bank. One of the few genuine perks from that job was that every year they bought every employee a ham during the holidays. How important was this generosity to us? One of my friends, who left several years before I did, claimed quite seriously that the offer she needed to change jobs was $40,000 and a ham. Believe it or not, her current employer has taken to buying her a gift certificate to Honey Baked Ham each year. They make a darn good H-A-M.

So tonight we made the trip to Honey Baked Ham to pick up half a ham. Yuuuum. Oh yeah, we made one more stop. The grocery store. For a loaf of bread. We're up for sammiches the rest of this week, and we're darn happy about it. I divided up the sliced section of the ham into 5 bags, four of which went into the freezer and one to take to work tomorrow. The butt of the ham and the bone went into the fridge for soup making later this week, which should produce another five or six lunches in the freezer. I still have two taco soups left, as well. If I can just put away a dozen or so packages of sketti sauce and sloppy joes for Greg I won't have to worry about lunches for several weeks, which makes dinner decisions easier. I'm also contemplating boiling up a pot full of the chicken I found in the freezer, making for soup and/or dumplings. I'm not sure the dumplings would freeze, but everything else would and I could add biscuit-dumplings for quick dinners with leftovers. This just gets better. AND... I have one more giant pork roast ready for the crock pot. I need more freezer contaiment vessels.

It's a good day. I have H-A-M.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Transformation

It's that time of year when we start to notice a sudden transformation at our house. No, I don't mean the leaves changing colors or anything like that. I mean something more Jeykll and Hyde. More like Bruce Banner getting angry, resulting in the Incredible Hulk. I'm talking about the change from normal, every day pup to Prancy Butt.

For those of you who are now looking at your computer screen quizically and saying, "What?" - it's ok. You probably don't own a pup. For those of you who immediately glanced at your four legged friend and snickered, you have one too, don't you? BFF Jen and I were discussing this at lunch yesterday and used the phrase "Romper Room" to describe her house when she gets home. She has two of them.

It happens when the weather hits the appropriate prancy window. It lies somewhere between the low 60's and upper 30's. More than that and you just have lazy pup. Less than that you have "let me in before the fur on my tail becomes icicles!" pup. But in that magical window you get a pup that comes bounding into the house, high stepping like a Clydesdale, and shaking his groove thing as though disco was back in style. That's the Prancy Butt.

We've also noticed that our Prancy Butt couldn't care less about hanging with us all of the sudden. He will beg to be outside all evening. Last night he wouldn't come inside at all to play with us, but at 10:15 he realized it was time for bed and rammed the back door hard enough to let himself in. He then curled up on his couch and promptly went to sleep. He was dragging this morning, right up until we let him outside. Yep. The return of Prancy Butt.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lazy

I will readily admit that I'm not in good enough shape to routinely climb the stairs to my office on the 6th floor (in a building with a basement and sub-basement, which leads outside). However, since moving to this building I have made a point to routinely take the stairs down any time I have to hike across campus (which is two to three times a day, at least.)

Now I must confess that for the past few days I have not been taking the stairs down, but rather have been taking the elevator. I have a good reason. I've nearly broken my neck trying to walk down 6-8 flights of stairs while playing brickbreaker on my cell phone. It's much easier in the elevator. I have, however, learned to navigate the long walkway in between buildings while keeping my ball alive, and I think that demonstrates some serious talent.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Condolences

It's never easy to say goodbye to a pet, but when you've had that pet for 22 years it's more like losing a member of the immediate family. My mother-in-law called today to let us know that Greg's oldest feline sibling was no longer with us. To my cat-in-law, Pooh, you were a great kitty, and I'm glad I had a chance to feed you roast beef and let you torture our pup. We'll miss you so much!

A Nice Surprise

It's the little things in life. Really.

You see, I don't like being cold. At all. During the summer I wrap up in blankets in the living room when the air conditioning turns on. I keep a jacket in my office and wrap up in it off and on all day. During the winter the hardest part of my day is actually walking to and from the car. I hate this time of year when the cold starts sneaking up on me. On one hand I deny it and don't want to pull out my fall and winter clothes. But then I walk outside in the mornings and want to cry. It takes a little while to get used to the fact that the cold is inevitable and give in to it. Yes, I realize we live in the South and our "cold" isn't real cold. But people, this is WHY I life in the South. If I liked cold, I'd move North.

So now I'm sitting in the living room, not entirely dressed for the day yet, and a little chilly already. I hear the air conditioner switch on and I cringe. I start searching for the nearest blanket, which is across the room on he couch, under the napping pup. It's far away and I know there's no way I can get to it before the Arctic blast hits me. A look of terror crosses my face as I prepare to throw my laptop across the room and dive for the blanket. But then... ahhh. It's not an Arctic blast. It's the sweet warmth of heated air. Somebody made sure the heater was on last night, and I know it wasn't me. Sigh. My world is a slightly better place at this moment. And I just added "dig out winter clothes" to my to do list.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Prizes

I've been sitting here waiting on somebody to get back with me about something, which is how I've spent the majority of my week, and decided that maybe I should look at the actual schedule of events and such for the Heart Walk on Sunday. To be honest, I don't care much about actually walking, I was more interested in raising the money, so I had no idea what time I was supposed to be there or how long the walk actually was. I still don't know the actual length of the walk, the website just said where it starts, but while searching around I remembered that they were offering prizes for fundraising.

When I signed up I checked the box waiving my right to a prize, since taking the prize just means that much less money going to the AHA, but I decided to look through the list to see what I would have been eligible for had I chosen that as my motivation:

Cuisinart Citrus Juicer (I've never juiced anything in my life)
Dooney & Bourke Wristlet (I think it's like a small purse or pocketbook or something)
iLuv Stereo Speaker with iPod Dock (I don't have an iPod...)
Jabra Bluetooth headset with 33 interchangeable covers (I hate bluetooth. I refuse to be assimilated.)
Motorola Two-way radios (So Greg and I can talk from opposite ends of the house? Eh, we text.)
Mr. Coffee Espresso Machine (Because me on espresso is a GOOD idea???)
Wilson Badminton Tour Set (Well, that could help towards my dream of Olympic badminton gold...)

I'm feeling pretty good about the fact that none of those items will be cluttering up my house. I did notice some cool things at lower levels though, like an ice tea maker (um, I have one. I call it a stove) and Swiss Army binoculars (what??).

The good stuff actually came at the next level up, which was $3,000 or more (I've raised $1,200, so not even close). Level 7 prizes include one of those little personal sized trampolines and a cool hand blender. And a DVD player. Then Level 8 gets into the digital cameras and gps systems and George Forman grills and a full sized stereo. Level 9 hit on the food processor, nicer camera, mountain bike, and rowing machine. But Level 10... Ahh. For the low price of $10,000 in donations we have camcorders, cookware sets, TV's, home theater systems, and a charcoal grill.

I have to wonder if anybody as an individual raises $10,000 or more. If they do, I have to wonder if they are really motivated by the chance to win a charcoal grill.

One Thing At A Time...

In going with the "one thing at a time" approach recommended by some of you brilliant people, I accomplished a couple of things last night. I got one load of laundry done and managed a load of dishes in the dishwasher. Most impressively, I managed to fix something to pack for lunches today.

We got home rather late from work due to the train wreck in Jackson that closed our usual route, and Greg had to turn around and leave immediately to go bowling, so I ended up not cooking dinner for either of us. I snacked and he got something on the go. About 8:00 I had a flash of brilliance and decided to cook up pot of spaghetti sauce and just enough noodles for one lunch. Viola! I fixed Greg a bowl of spaghetti, grabbed myself one of my frozen bowls of taco soup, and was able to freeze a few more spaghetti sauce lunches for future lunch emergencies - just add noodles. If I can keep doing that once or twice a week, I should end up with a nice stash of frozen lunches/dinners which will make some of these long weeks a little easier.

Now I just have to do some experimenting to see what freezes well and what doesn't. And I think I'll throw that other pork roast I have in the freezer in the crockpot this weekend to feed my visitors. That should produce a couple of days worth of leftovers for the freezer as well. Suddenly, I'm on a roll.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

900 Things

This has been one of those weeks.

Right now I feel like I have about 900 things I need to do.

At least 750 of those need to get done at home.

At least 500 of those involve some aspect of cleaning my house.

At least 300 of those involve doing something with clothing.

At least 200 of those involve some stage of doing laundry.


I've noticed that I've been feeling incredibly overwhelmed a lot more often of late. It's somewhat ironic. Before I started taking medication for ADD, I had twice as many things that weren't getting done but felt overwhelmed a lot less often because I either didn't notice or didn't think of it much. Now that I'm more or less medicated, I notice all of it and have to make an effort not to think about how much I haven't gotten done!

Work has been quite frustrating this week, leaving me pretty exhausted when I get home. We spent the weekend with my parents, so I never made it to the grocery store. I'd managed dinner Monday and Tuesday, but tonight I just... didn't. Greg ate a bowl of cereal about 7:30. Which means I don't have lunches to pack tomorrow. And I know I won't cook tomorrow because Greg's supposed to be bowling and won't be home long enough to eat. Which means no lunches on Friday unless I cook something especially for lunches. Which won't happen. It's a vicious cycle.

Who am I kidding, if I could just manage to unpack one of the two suitcases that have taken up homestead in the bedroom floor, I'd feel like I'd accomplished something. But for some reason I just can't seem to get anything started around here. I'm hoping I can really tackle some shopping, cleaning, and planning on Saturday. Especially since my parents are supposed to be here Sunday morning and are spending the night. Sigh. I suppose it might be easier to put them up in a hotel!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Much Thanks

As of this morning I've officially exceeded my fundraising goal for the American Heart Association Heart Walk, which takes place this Sunday afternoon. My little gague doesn't show it because you can't input the business donations online, which doesn't make a lick of sense to me. Regardless, Greg and I still have a big check to write to match all the donations, which we will do sometime this week. You still have a chance to make him squirm a little more if you would like to add to that total.

And yes, Sandi, I realize I never got the chance to hunt you down for your cash. That was totally my fault (and the fault of those blessed ickies that attacked after vacation!). In appreciation of your willingness, we're going to tack on a little extra to the matching donation anyway.

In somewhat related news, one of Greg's aunts is being admitted to the hospital today for heart-related testing due to an ongoing problem with A-fib. I hope whatever new thing they're trying this time works so she can avoid the ablation procedure that she absolutely does NOT want to do. We love you, Aunt Bo! Hope you're back up to full speed and harassing the family again very quickly.

Right and Honorable

Last night we were watching... ok, let me start with a disclaimer. We're dorks. We know this and have accepted it. You've been warned.

Last night we were watching the CSPAN coverage of the Brittish government thing where they make the Prime Minister get up ever week and answer questions from the members of Parliament. This week the PM was out of the country on some silly business in Brussels and one of his deputies was answering question. Towards the end of the show I said to Greg, "I love the fact that when they address each other everybody is 'Honorable.' Especially the Deputy. She's the 'Right Honorable Lady.' I think I should be called that."

It only took me mentioning it three more times and arguing that it wouldn't be misleading, as I am right and I am honorable, and a lady, before he finally said, "Ok, Right Honorable Lady."

Nice. I like it. He gets points for finally accepting it. Now I think I may petition to be called that at work.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Astonishing

I saw a miracle on TV last night. A positive campaign ad that didn't make me want to vomit. No, it wasn't for a Senate race. That'd be silly. It was for Supreme Court candidate Jim Kitchens. I've met his sons through Jennifer and her involvement with Camp Rainbow, and I can tell you he has a great family. That aside, it was the first campaign ad I've seen this year that didn't disgust me, and that got my attention.

So, looking at all the races on the our ballot this time around, that bring the total number of people I feel comfortable voting for to.... let's see... um... one.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Boss' Day

Today is Boss' Day, and that calls for celebration. I appreciate my boss. He's pretty awesome, no matter what Greg says about him! He's supportive and usually displays just the right amount of involvement in my day to day work. He supervises quietly and is quick to show appreciation for the things I do. Especially what I did is give him cheese.

So here's to you, dear Casper, boss of our house. Maybe tonight we can have a little fun celebrating with cheese and squeaks while Greg's gone bowling.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fun With Text Messages

Text message I just got from Sharonda:

"Please never forget to tel me if you have a live in boyfriend! Might want to tell Greg, too."

My response:

"No WAY I'm telling Greg THAT!"

DANG IT!

I found another great sign today that I was determined to photo and post, but when I ended up walking back to my office a different way and didn't pass back by it. Drat. And I have two other saved up, one on my phone and one from Disney, that I haven't posted. I need to get it together. I may make a special trip back over to the main hopsital building just to get a snap of that sign... But first I'm Googling corny jokes to send to Jennifer in the hopes of cheering her up today since she hasn't felt well this week. I asked around the office but the only one I got was pretty terrible: Six muffins were cooking in the oven. One muffin said to the others, "It's getting really hot in here!" And the other muffin replied, "AAAHHHH! It's a talking muffin!"

Even my cheese joke isn't that bad.

(Except all the corny joke sites I tried to access were blocked. DENIED! Heaven forbid employees have an opportunity to laugh during the day. Sigh.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Learning the Lingo

Back at work today. Not very thrilled about it. Very very tired of being sick. I'm not used to it. Before I changed jobs I hadn't been sick more than once a year in ages. This is my fourth round since April. Ridiculous.

That aside, we accidentally had the chance to see my BFF Sharonda and her hubby last night. I make the point that it was an accident because I haven't actually seen her since July. We make plans, they just don't ever seem to work out! Last night they ended up having dinner in Clinton so we crashed their party for dessert. Anyway, she has a motivational speaking/consulting business and does a lot of work with teen groups. She was telling us about a group of young girls she was working with a few weeks ago as part of a teen pregnancy intervention program. Apparently the new phrase pre-teen girls are using when discussing teen pregnancy is "catching 'da bump." As in they kept telling Sharonda, "Anybody can catch 'da bump!" Hmm. Jen's caught 'da bump. Black Betty, too.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cold Medicine Induced Ramblings

I finally gave up and gave in to being sick. I was feeling better, then worse, then a little better, then worse. I decided to stay home and drug myself into oblivion in the hopes of pushing myself further towards better.

I've got one of the financial news networks on in the background. I've never been one to watch the financial networks but when we were at Disney they cable channel selection was limited so we ended up watching a lot of it, and have had it on every night since. I'm not exactly panicked by the market free fall this week, but I have some concern about how much worse it might get. My IRA has lost half it's value from when I rolled over my 401K about 18 months ago. I see opportunity in the market right now, rather than fear, but the potential trickle down effects of job loses and business closings is a bigger issue.

Finally, my friend at work, Mrs. B (the one who lost her husband in a tragic accident last month) came to my office last night to ask me about some financial issues she's facing. She's in her 50's and terrified of what she's facing. As a public service announcement, I ask all of you - please, please please, if you aren't in a position where your family can live comfortably off of one salary, make sure you have plenty of life insurance. It sucks to think about it, but if the highest income in your household suddenly disappeared due to a death, could the survivor make it on what's left? AND pay for a funeral? Term life is simple and cheap. Make sure your family is taken care of.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I'm about to head out to the fairgrounds to work one of the health screening booths for a few hours. When I agreed to do this several weeks ago I figured it'd at least be a break from the office during the pain of the first week back from vacation. At the time I didn't count on being sick this week. I'd pretty much rather crawl under my desk than go stand in the Trademart for three hours. Oh well.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My Take on the Debate

Greg and I actually watched the presidential debate this evening. I normally avoid things like that because they generally frustrate me. Tonight's debate gave us some serious things to think about and consider.

Like whether or not we should just pack up and move to Canada. We've started trying to learn all the words to their national anthem, O' Canada.

A Shout Out to TC

I can't help but think that this is similar to what you'd find in city structures when visiting the Land of Topiary. Am I right, TC?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Just A Little Something

The coolest thing at Disney World, hands down, is the new Toy Story Midway Mania game. We stood in line for it. Seven times. It's a 3D shooter and was awesome. Worth standing in line. Maybe not worth standing in line when the wait was 110 minutes, and maybe not when the wait was "Try Again Later." But we sucked it up for anything 60 minutes or less. Here's a little something that made waiting in line worthwhile. The audio is bad because that place was packed and LOUD. I wanted to upload the one of him singing his song, but Blogger said the file was too big. Blah.

video

Evidence

Yesterday we received a surprising anniversary gift. A copy of our wedding video.

You see, my cousin who taped it had a very traumatic medical crisis shortly afterwards so we'd never gotten it. It wasn't a big deal, I didn't figure we'd ever see it. We'd actually developed something of an understanding that the lack of evidence could work to our advantange. Neither of us could remember much of anything about the wedding and we often used excuses such as, "I don't remember that being in our vows" or "I'm pretty sure I never promised that during the ceremony..." Well, now we have evidence. We watched it last night and I paid pretty close attention to exactly what Greg had promised. Afterwards, I summed it up like this, "So, basically, you agreed to hang with me even if I accidentally talked you into riding Splash Mountain."
We aren't coaster people. Actually, to be clear, we aren't heights and drops people. During the pre-drop teaser of the ride Greg kept saying that he was blaming me for this. I kept saying, "I want off now." Afterwards, when he was soaked and I was barely damp, he insisted on buying the picture they take right at the top. He wanted evidence. It's now framed and in our living room, carefully placed where it's the first thing you see when you walk in. I think he wanted it there as a constant reminder of how I tortured him.



Sigh

I know what you're thinking. "Hey Susan, what's up with the silence? You just got back from an awesome vacation. We though for sure you'd bore us to death with stories and pictures by now!"

Yeah, well, I would, but I came back sick. If you've never flown on a plane while congested to the point that your ears won't pop, let me assure you that it hurts like hell. This is the second time I've done it and I'm happy to say that at least this time I didn't cry, although I did cover my ears with my hands and rock back and forth in agony at one point. Feeling somewhat better today, but yesterday was pretty much a total loss. More pictures and some really awesome video will be trickling onto the blog in the week or so to come. Right now I'm busy being miserable back at work. I've been here two hours and still haven't gotten up the nerve to face my glowing voice mail light. It mocks me with its glowing angry redness.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Apologies

To my deares husband: I'll sorry. Very very sorry. I will never ever ever ever say the words Splash Mountain again. Ever please don't divorce me. Never again.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Memo

MEMO:

To: Susan
From: Your Feet

I beg you, please, stop. Just SIT DOWN. Please.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Jen's Nightmare

Jen's worst nightmare: Flights of Wonder at Animal Kingdom. A live show with free flying birds swooping over the crowd. It was awesome. Jen would have gone into cardiac arrest early and been dead by the end of the show.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Loot

All of the loot hasn't been delivered yet, but here's a glimpse of the explosion of crap we've already picked up...



1,076

1,076. That's the number of pictures I've downloaded off my camera card as of today, Tuesday, day five of nine. No, I'm not going to grace you with all of those images, but since we paid for 24 hours of internet access, I may try to upload a few of them to my Flickr (done) for your enjoyment before our time runs out. In the meantime, there are a few that I think warrant a shout out right here on the blog:



Whatcha Doing?

I think we all know what I'm doing right about now - enjoying a little quality time with the Tater Heads at the Mouse House. But I think it's worth mentioning that two years ago today I was doing stuff like this:









And hanging out with people like this:




As much as I'm enjoying vacation, it really can't compare to that day. Don't get me wrong, I never want to go through that again, but I'd never been happier than I was that day!

To my hubby of two whole years - you're the best thing ever and I love you bunches!

(And yes, for those who aren't familiar with the story, that's Ebay the Gnome.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Later Gators!

Hey Hall Family, you've paid off seven credit cards, two cars, and a house, what are you going to do now???

WE'RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!

We're heading out in the morning for the land of tater parts and mice. Greg hasn't decided if he's taking his laptop, and even if he does, the resort doesn't have free internet access, so there won't be much live-blogging this vacation. I'm going to test the theory of posting pictures either to the blog or to my Flickr account via my blackberry, but I can't imagine I'll fight the tiny keypad to do much typing. I'm planning to set up at least one post to auto-publish later in the week, so stayed tuned for that.

If you start missing me terribly (or just get bored) you can preview my delicious bookmarks page that I've started working on to share cool stuff I find as I browse the internet. As you can imagine, it mostly involves food or frugality! I haven't taken the time to really organize it yet, but I'm hoping to get to that one day in the next year or two.

Have a great week, everybody, and I'll catch up with all of you next week!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Great Googley Moogley! It's a Tater Head!

Greg shared this article with me. I'M SO STANDING IN LINE FOR THAT!!! (It's about halfway down the article. You'll see the picture.)

Forget this Mickey Mouse stuff. They need to create Mr. Tater Head World!

Gotta go home tonight and decide which tater I'm taking with me so I can go ahead and pack it. Gotta take your own tater so you don't take up too much room in the tater parts box with the actual head.

OH, and Lauren called me from Target yesterday. She found me a Tater Head pumpkin decorating kit. She was going to get me the witch. I have good friends.

Unimaginable

Excuse me while I take a break from lighthearted fun for a downer moment...

My friend Mrs. B is back at work today. She's been out since the Friday after Labor Day when her husband died in a tragic accident. They'd been married 32 years and just took their youngest child off to college in Wisconsin, excited about being "home alone" for the first time in ages. She found him in their yard the evening he died. It's nearly killed her to lose him; he was the center of her world.

Mrs. B tried to come back to work yesterday and made it as far as getting up the elevators, but never quite made it down the hall to the office before she had to go back home, saying she didn't think she could do it but would try again today. I was glad she made it in today. She has a lot of love and support here in the office, and she's going to have a hard time in that house alone now that the family is all going back home. It may be a while before she's able to do anything productive, but at least she won't be by herself. I gave her a big hug this morning but couldn't think of a single thing to say, other than to tell her I loved her.

As I approach my second anniversary next week I can't help but think - she had 30 years on me, but I still can't imagine losing my husband. And I hope I'm saying the same thing when I'm 80.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Packing - Is Disney Worth It?

Pop Quiz: How much do I hate packing?

a. More than internal audits and 5 year accreditation reviews combined.
b. More than bad drivers in Jackson.
c. More than being cold.
d. All of the above, times ten.

Sigh. It's not a secret. I love love love to travel. I hate to pack. It's bad when it's 3 or 4 days. It's bad when we're driving and have a ton of space to pack junk in the car. But we're talking nine days. In a maximum four bags. Oh goodness.

I got smart. I started early. We realized when we started planning this trip that we needed clothes. Nine days, and I only had 3 pair of shorts I'd even consider wearing in public. So we hit the stores and bought a huge pile of clothes. I washed them all, then immediately put them all on top of the suitcase, ready to go. The worst part of packing for me is deciding what to pack. Once I have that done, putting it in the suitcase is easy. Hopefully by sorting it all as I go, I can avoid the pre-packing panic that usually sets in when I have no idea what I need to take.

And here's the travel tip for the day - wrinkle releaser. I realized that several pair of my new shorts are going to have wrinkling issues in the suitcase, as well as many of the tshirts. Yesterday I scoured the Internet in search of a solution, since I'm not buying one of those commercial wrinkle releasers - Greg can't tolerate the scent and I can't tolerate the price. I also didn't want to pack any more liquids than necessary. What I found was brilliant and worked perfectly. I cut a small square off a scent-free dryer sheet, stuffed it down into a small spray bottle and filled it with water. I tried it out on a horribly wrinkled tshirt and two pair of shorts. Wow. Instant results. I've already packed a couple of dryer sheets. Hopefully I won't have to touch an iron for the entire trip!

Mountain Goat

I finally had enough of Houdini Pup and called out the big guns on Sunday. He may be able to resist me, treats, his leash, and Neighbor Bill, but I knew there was one thing that would have him showing us the way out. Uncle Bill. (This is why we call Neighbor Bill, well, Neighbor Bill. To keep from confusing him with my brother.) I got my big brother to stop by on his way home from Philly yesterday to help us solve the pup mystery.

Sure enough, in just a few minutes we witnessed the feat we hadn't been able to see or catch on film in a week and a half. Our little white mountain goat climbing a tree to get out of the fence, but only to go get his Unlce Bill. Granted, it was this tree, which we never did get removed after it fell in March, but seriously, it's been down since March and the crazy dog never bothered to climb it before! And I don't mean climbing up the part that broke off, I mean up the side of the tree. Mountain goat. We dropped a hundred bucks at Home Depot and had a temporary fix involving chicken wire. We'll work on a more permanant solution when we get back from vacation. Anybody know a good tree-remover?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Or Not.

So much for Casper being contained. We left him inside yesterday. Got home, let him out to potty, within 5 minutes he was out. Spent over an hour trying to entice him to escape again while we were watching. Stood on the other side of the fence with treats, his squeak, and a leash. Refused. Walked down the street with his leash, he refused. Got Neighbor Bill, who apparently has had Casper invite himself into his house twice this week, walk around to the back of the fence and call him. Refused. Set up my camera on the fence in video mode, then went inside and ignored him.

Refused.

That little... Sigh. We have to get him contained before we leave for Florida!

Friday, September 19, 2008

It's Official

You may remember how back in May, June, and July I was all in a panic getting giant reports done in preparation for a five year site visit we were having this fall. Well, ever since then we've been waiting... and waiting... and waiting to get the notification of the date for the visit.

Wednesday I had a meeting where I found out that I have to do a third big giant report to apply for a new program we want to start this year, and it's due in early November. Gulp.

Today I got the emails that our site visit has been scheduled for January. Double gulp.

If I seem to be insane over the next few months, just ignore it. I'm probably blogging from the state mental hospital.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Irony of the Best Kind

We have the nosiest neighbors on the planet. Ever since Jen and I moved in seven years ago they have known every single thing that has gone on outside our house. They have these huge plants on their back porch and we've seen them hide behind the plants watching us outside. I joked with Greg the first time he picked me up for a date that he'd better get me back because they had his tag number and description written down. We've never really taken offense at it, we always thought it was kinda funny. We also knew that if anything ever happened at the house, they'd know about it.

Today we were able to take advantage of the L's for the first time. Our crazy pup has suddenly, after five years, decided to become an escape artist. He's escaped three time in the past couple of weeks. I patched the place in the back of the fence where I thought he was escaping, but when we got home tonight he was out again. Sigh. I was getting very frustrated, since we are leaving on vacation next week and leaving him with a house sitter.

An hour or so after we got home, there was a knock at the door. Yup. Our neighbor, Mr. L. Casper was totally busted. Not only had Mr. L caught him out (and seen him nearly get hit by a car, which nearly made my heart stop) but had seen exactly how he had escaped, and corralled him back into the yard. Thank you, Mr. L, for being our spy. Bless you. Casper - your days of freedom are o-v-e-r. Busted.

Countdown!

Jen - DON'T READ THIS POST! Really. Don't. It's in your best interest not to read it! I'm warining you. Just go on to something else. You're not missing anything.





I've avoided saying much about our upcoming trip because my dear, dear BFF Jen was supposed to go on a trip to the same happy place in January, but with the discovery of baby Figment arriving in February those plans were out the window. I didn't want to depress her about it any more than necessary, so I've avoided the issue altogether. However, today I thought I'd show you the little happy I made for Greg last night:



It's his own personal countdown calendar. I made the Mickey shapes for each day, then used stickers and pictures that I cut out of his extra park maps to decorate each page. We leave at the end of next week, eight days until Disney! (Insert Happy-Nine-Days-Away-From-Work-And-Lots-Of-New-Tater-Parts Dance here!)

Maximum Capacity

I like books. A lot. So much, I got a degree in them. And now, ten years later, I've reached maximum capacity. Just an example:



Just the middle section from one of my bookshelves*. That doesn't include the boxes full, the ones still stored at my parents' house, or the several boxes sold at every garage sale I've ever had, or the stacks in the living room, bedroom, and office. And come to think of it, I just remembered another plastic storage box under the bed in the guest room. Hello, my name is Susan, and I have a book addiction.

Somewhere between my sticker shock at paying $15 for the last books I bought and my utter paranoia at losing a library book if I take it on an airplane somewhere, I decided I had to do something to stop the madness. So I joined Paperbackswap last weekend. You get 2 credits for listing your first 10 books, then one credit for each book you send out to another member. I listed 15 books and as of today I've mailed out 5 and requested 2. It still costs me money in postage, but at least $1.50 or so per book is better than $15!

What I've found interesting is the trend in the books being requested from me. The first two to go right off the bat were both Christian books, one fiction one nonfiction. Everything else has been something I had for school, either high school or college. I figure students are using this as a way to swap literature texts, which is brilliant. There are quite a few that I don't think I can part with, but there are quite a few more than I can. It's a relief really. I couldn't bear to just throw them away (although, Lauren, I did toss some of those wack texts Colloquium in the trash) but would love to pass them on to somebody who can use them! I haven't searched through their cookbook section yet, but it's high on my list once I get a few credits built up! (So if anybody joins they can use me as a referral so I get more credits. Just saying you know... my username is Casper803... heh. More books...)

* The bookshelf in the picture was built from scratch by my dad. He built it for me for my 18th birthday. It's designed so that the bottom shelves are tall to hold bigger (and heavier) books and the top few shelves are just the right size for regular paperbacks, with the shelves in the middle average sized. It's awesome and I love it. And it says something about how long I've lived with this addiction!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

UPDATED: T Shirt Idea

From the top flap of a hot apple pie box at McDonald's:

CAUTION
Handle with care
I'M HOT

I so want a t-shirt that says that. There's some debate about adding the "Open Here."

And yes, when I told Greg about it he totally rolled his eyes at me.

UPDATE:

Leave it to Lauren to find me the shirt for sale here!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Strangeness on My TV and Other Random Stuff

I realized Saturday morning why it's so totally weird to watch the continuous hurricane coverage. Usually when a serious storm wanders into the gulf, our power is out before the real television coverage begins, therefore I've never watched a storm on TV before. I do think it's neat that we were able to get a local Houston channel's contious coverage all weekend. I wonder if they did that kind of stuff after Katrina. I don't know, by the time our power came back on nine days later the media was mostly over it.

When I started thinking about that it started freaking me out a little, so I took drastic measures to get myself out of my pending funk. I went baby shopping with Jen. That did the trick. (And a note to Wrigley - I'm still hiding somewhere in the house, really, I am, keep looking...) I started watching it again Sunday until they started talking about the gas lines and interviewing people who had been in line for a couple of hours. Had to turn it off. I sympathize with all of them, but couldn't deal with the flashbacks!

In other news, I talked to Mom last week and she said Dad's work had picked up drastically last week, kinda out of the blue, so he's keeping the shop open for a bit longer, probably on a month-by-month basis until he knows that's it's not a fluke. That's good enough news for now, since today was his "closing day."

Speaking of Dad, thanks to those of you who have make Heart Walk donations this week! I'm only $75 away from my goal!

And finally, I have a mouse. I'm very not happy about it. Apparently he likes South Beach bars and Polynesean sauce from Chick Fila. Greg suggested we borrow one of my in-law's cats for a few days, Cricket is a master mouser, but I didn't think I could put Casper through that. I put out one of the mouse boxes that's supposed to catch them but not kill them because the old fashioned traps really freak me out. Greg promised that if I put out the trap he'd empty it when the time comes. I just can't deal with mice people. I can't. I'm mostly hoping he's decided that my kitchen is a wasteland and moved back to the woods.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

World Domination

Clucky posted this link in the comments of an earlier post, but I wanted to make sure everybody saw it. The Flamingo Resistance Movement is alive and well in Pascagoula! One more small step in world domination!

Emergency Preparations

I'm having a particularly horrible week at work. There will be worse weeks to come, and I know this, but the stars have aligned to make this one pretty horrendous in it's own right. How bad? Well, let's just say I felt the need to test and make sure I would securely fit under my desk curled up in a ball and have room to rock back and forth. My coworkers were a little concerned, but I just wanted to be prepared, as tomorrow will be the culmination of a week's worth of banging my head against my desk.

And just for reference, I think there's probably room for two under there. It's a pretty roomy desk and I don't have any side drawers or anything. Just saying, in case anybody else ever needs a spot.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Baby Names

One of the longest running jokes between my dear, sweet husband and I involves baby names. During the very first road trip we ever took together, after we were engaged, we were driving to Atlanta when we crossed the Tallapoosa River. It did not take long to decide that if we ever had a daughter we should name her Tallapoosa. We could call her Tally. We're easily amused enough that it totally stuck, to the point that we've all but convinced several family members that we would indeed name a child that. We've been accumulating baby names ever since. It's gotten ridiculous enough that the lady that works right outside my office door has informed me that we are not to ever name a child without her approval.

With that in mind, and in honor of the news that Figment is going to be a girlie (woohoo!) I've put together a list of some of my favorites to help Jen answer the thousand questions she gets every day about what names they like.

Chick Fila (properly pronounce fee-la, not fe-lay)

Big Lots (just asking for trouble in middle school)

Pickle (perfect if she married a man whose last name was Pickle or Pickler. You could also make this a middle name, with the first name of Ina {in a}.)

Casper (for Jen this would be Wrigley. Cuts down on trying to remember who you're yelling at.)

Sweet Tea

Rolloverira (stole that one from my friend Nicole, who suffered through pregnancy at the where I worked. The Chief took suggestions in a hat and drew names for her baby. Rolloverira won. Yes, that's Rollover IRA.)

And of course the best and most obvious choice:
Susan

We had the most fun picking out names for multiples (back when we were SURE she'd have quadruplets and split them with us):

Ketchup, Mustard, Mayo, Pickle, Tomato, Lettuce, Patty, and Bun

Tallapoosa and Talledega

Luke and Leah (Greg's choice, I totally vetoed.)

Opera, City, Town, Residence and Carnegie (these really only work well for our family)

Really, we have dozens of them.

Irony

There's a big bake sale going on at the hospital today. Who are they raising money for? The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi.

Having eaten some of the fudge they were selling, I suspect their true mission was to increase funding by increasing their patient base. Excuse me now, I must go fall into a sugar-coma.

Dresses and Bows and Dolls and...

FINALLY! After six, count 'em, SIX boys, I'm finally getting a girl! I got word this morning that Jen's little Figment is a Fila (as in Chick Fila, I'm so putting that on her list of names)! I've never gotten to buy little dresses before. I'm so excited! After Nicholas and Carson and Parker and then Edwin followed by Ian and finally Dalton... I get a girlie! And a girlie that just one town over rather than multiple states over, which is a total bonus. I can't wait!!! Ok, working on my list of girlie baby names (other than Chick Fila). Perhaps this afternoon I can post that.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Magic

How is it that I can go to a mall, try on every item of clothing in every store and find nothing that fits, but my mother-in-law, while on a trip an entire state away from me, can walk into a store and buy me a huge bag of clothes, in different sizes because they just "looked big/small," and have every single item fit? Shirts, sweathers, pants, a skirt...

It's something I call "Mom-Magic." Much like how my mom can walk into any store and have exactly what she's looking for on sale, every time. I haven't discovered my magic trait yet, I think it doesn't materialize until you actually become a mom. I'm pretty sure I won't have the ability to pick out clothes like that, considering that I can't hardly buy clothes for myself as it is. I may develop the "sale" magic, but I'm more likely to just not buy something if it's not on sale than plan to buy something and find a surprise sale. If I could pick my own magic ability, it would be to come home every day and find my house magically cleaned. Somehow I don't think I'll get that one, either.

As a side note, we had been keeping an eye out for our new washer and dryer to go on sale at Best Buy because they have a policy where if it goes on sale within 30 days they'll refund the difference in price. A few weeks ago we did indeed find them on sale in the Best Buy ad. The sale price was $50 more than the regular price we'd paid.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Randomness - Birthdays, Fundraising, Economics, and Rain

I haven't been online much at home lately, so I kinda feel like I've gotten behind here! Time to do some catching up:

Happy one-day-late birthday to BFF Jen, even though I know it really wasn't much "happy." Sorry you're feeling so bad, chickadee! Hope you're back on your feet soon. Let me know if I do anything. Or if you just need to gripe, moan and groan, I'm here for you.

Remember from this post how I'm raising money for the American Heart Association* in honor of my dad, but I also pointed out that my family is a big supporter of American Cancer Society's Relay for Life? Well, this morning I had an email from my mom. Apparently she won a vacation package from one of her local Relay for Life raffles. It's to one of the resorts on the coast (hope it's not one of the flooded ones!) and includes $100 for gas and tickets to Center Stage Theater in Biloxi. (Take me! Take me!) I would like to point out that this is the same woman who won a very nice stereo with 5 disc CD changer in a Vicksburg-area Relay for Life raffle a few years ago (she gave me the stereo, she didn't need it). I told her she needs to start buying lottery tickets for me!

In somewhat related news, yesterday my dad told me that he's planning to close his business in a couple of weeks. He's had very few paying jobs since the first of August and doesn't want to keep using up his cash reserves just to pay the utility bills. This really upsets me. I'm not terribly worried about their financial situation, but it bothers because of how discouraged he sounded. Dad has never been one to give up on anything. He's owned his own business for over 20 years, this particular shop for about 15 of those. He's been successful as a business owner, even when picking up his established shop in Vicksburg and moving it across the state. But he doesn't see the economy improving and the places that usually send him business have been incredibly slow as well. I know they'll be ok, and he'll be able to do some things he's been wanting to do instead of sitting around at the shop staring at the walls, but it's hard for me to see him close under these circumstances. If he was still doing decent business and just decided he wanted to retire, I'd be fine with it. The idea that after all these years he doesn't think he can do enough business to stay open is a huge indication that the economy has really tanked.

And finally, I'm so sick of the rain I could scream. Really, it's starting to take a toll on my mental state. We'd just gotten a few days of sun back after the bizarre August monsoons, now another week of it, with more possibly on the way? I want to crawl under my bed and curl up in a fetal position.

*A note on the AHA fundraising, my total should actually be $350. The stupid thing is giving me trouble with the manual entry of some donations. Hmmm. Wonder if Greg budgeted those matching funds for October...