Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Last Great Bake of 2009

I volunteered to bring the snack to church this week, but I wanted to do something different. I went out and bought a bag of small pretzel twists, some parmesean cheese crackers, one box each of wheat, cinnamon, and chocolate Chex, and a packet of ranch dressing. With everything else that I had in the house I was able to make SIX batches of Chex Mix!

As you can tell by the title, I baked my mixes. I'll take a small tangent here to let you know that I avoid the microwave as much as possible. Something to consider about microwaves: they can't be thrown away at the dump because they are considered toxic waste. That's why I avoid it now.

Back to the point - I basically used two bowls, two spatulas, two flat spatulas (for turning) and two baking sheets all morning. I dedicated one set to salty mixes and the other set to sweet mixes. And with my trust two-quart sauce pan (which received more baths this morning that it has for the last two months), I melted 33 tablespoons of butter to make my assorted flavorings.

Here's the first batch:



By the time I finished, I had Caramel Corn, Cheesy Ranch, Puppy Chow, Buffalo-Style, Snickerdoodle, and Original!


It looks like a lot now, but I don't think it's going to last long. I've already had "the talk" with Matt. Let's see if he can keep his hands off until Friday night! (And let's hope there are plenty of leftovers!)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'll be packin'...

It's here - the busiest week of the recycling season. Normally this week is 14 hour days for five days (they'll have Jan. 1st off, but have to go in Saturday to make up for it). In case you hadn't figured it out - it's because everyone is recycling their post-Christmas wrappings and food containers. It makes for a busy week.

In past years this week was a welcome change for the winter. Matt's hours are usually down to 45-50 per week, so it's a nice week to catch up on some serious overtime. But not this year. This year it's just as long as the other weeks, but it means that next week will be just as busy (as they try to catch up). I miss seeing Matt, but we've been ridiculously blessed because of this job.

Since Matt's never worked so many hours for so many consecutive months, we're starting to see new things happen. First was the frequent appearance of Slap-Happy Matty - that's entertaining. Usually SHM turns into Cranky-Sleep-Deprived-Matt (CSDM), but we sort of jumped right over that and into an entirely new personality - ADD-Matt.

If you had been behind up is Meijer the other day, you would have thought I was there with a five year-old:

"Matt, where are you going?"
"Matt, I'm over here!"
"Matt, we don't need that, put that down."
"Matt, where are you?"
"Matt, we were just over there!"
"Matt, pull up your pants." (Seriously, the man forgot his belt...)

I tell ya, I haven't been that entertained while shopping together since I took him after surgery and he was driving an Amigo while looped out on Vicadin.

ADD-Matt is so stinking funny, but it'st not conversational (like SHM), so it doesn't translate well onto my blog. That's why I'm going to try to remember to start packin' - my video recorder. My first preference would be that Matt's hours cut back a little so he can get some rest, but since I can't control that I might as well take advantage of his silliness and share the laughs with everyone.

I'll see what I can do...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Hollywood Challenge

DISCLAIMER: This post will spoil the ending of the movie "Avatar" for you. If you don't want to know what happens, stop now!!!

Today Matt and I saw "Avatar". I was hesitant. I'm quite the sci-fi fan, and I've never actually seen a 3D movie in the theater, but I was concerned. I was concerned that it would have great special effects and a predictable plot.

Without having seen or read anything beyond one trailer, I had this movie pegged: nature is god, everyone is connected, capitalists are heartless, and soldiers are murders.

So what happens? Read my prediction - that's the story (I read a comment on Facebook recently which hits the nail on the head. Someone said he wasn't going to see the movie because, "I saw it when it was Ferngully.")

That's the problem with it. This storyline has played out over and over and over again.

Hollywood - we get it. You love nature, you hate capitalism, and you spit on the men and women who have (and do) keep this country free. Got it. Now...could you PLEASE come up with an original plot? Honestly, the special effects were amazing, but the story was boring. We've seen it before. We GET your politics, so please get back to work and entertain us!

That's my challenge to Hollywood. Put politics aside and just make a good movie...please? And if you can't, then how about adapting the classics (and no, James Cameron, Ferngully was not a classic). Or, if you REALLY wanted to get crazy, you could try a plot from someone else's point of view (I won't hold my breath).

Could I please just escape for two hours and enjoy an entertaining plot WITHOUT having your opinion and politics forced upon me? Please? I challenge you...

Monday, December 21, 2009

More SHM (Slap-Happy Matty)

Matt: I should work there (pointing at the dental lab two buildings away from our house).

Karin: Why?

Matt: So I could walk to work.

Karin: You have experience in a dental lab?

Matt: No, but I have a Dremel.

Fabulous Ideas from OP, KS

If you don't receive my annual Christmas letter, then you can't participate (sorry). But just so you don't feel left out, here's the deal:

This year I sent out a Mad-Lib. That's write - pick your own adverbs and nouns, and see what kind of story you create.

A friend of mine asked if I was collecting answers and picking a winner. Nope - too time consuming. But...

...now that I've thought about it, why not? Sitting around reading silly stories and deciding which one makes me have to pee the hardest? Game on!!!

So if you got the Blessed Beery Mad-Lib, email me your story. I'll post a winner sometime next month (and you make even make it on to my writing blog - dual coverage!!)

Thanks for participating - have fun!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Slap-Happy Matty

Karin: Now there are six couple pregnant. What happens if we drink the water?

Matt: There'll be a little one running around.

Karin: Well, then my parents will stick around for Thanksgiving next year. (contemplative pause) How do you feel about that?

Matt: That's fine. I like your parents.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Creating Our Own Problems

I was a bit offended this week when some of my non-Christian friends started comparing Christmas to Solstice. I am passionate about my God, and I don't ever want anyone to assume that I am celebrating this season for any reason other than Him, but they're right. It's not non-Christians who have taken Jesus out of Christmas - it's the Christians.

Over the years I've been learning more and more about what the Bible says about things and what tradition says about them. I'm still studying, still learning, but December 25th was chosen to celebrate Jesus' birth BECAUSE it coincides with pagan holy days. The same is true about about Easter. These dates have nothing to do with Jesus and His life - my understanding is that they were selected to detract from the pagan rituals.

Now, you can say that this doesn't matter, but look at what these holidays have become. How many people, even non-Christians, are sick of the commercialism? Do parents take their kids to church on these days for photos at the nativity and cross, or to the mall to sit on the laps of two make-believe characters? Does going to church on these two days inspire you to attend more regularly, or does it make you feel satisfied that you made it twice that year?

Like I said, I'm still learning, so I'm still deciding what to do with all of this information. I do know that I'll tell my children the truth about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny - that they have nothing to do with God or the celebration of Jesus' love and sacrifice. But am I ready and willing to make the jump to celebrate the REAL days of birth and resurrection? Am I going to set myself apart and start following scripture, despite what the world does?

I honestly don't know.

What I do know, however, is that I want to learn more. I want to make sure my motives are pure, that my heart is focused on God. I don't want to follow blindly, just doing what I've always done because there ARE things that Christians do during the holidays that have no real Biblical significance. It was just a desire to fit in with the world, but to try to sanctify it by calling it "Christian".

So I don't have any answers right now, but I'm looking. In the meantime, please know this - all of my lights, my gifts, and my decorations are about one thing - God. He loves us, He always has. While people fail daily at demonstrating that to each other, He has never failed us. He sent Jesus as proof of that love and devotion to save us. THAT is why I celebrate Christmas.

I pray that each one of you will know God's love, that He will touch your hearts and eyes so that you can see Him today.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Watching it Spin Out of Control?

There was a HUGE article in the paper today about Tiger Woods - it literally took up the whole page. I didn't read it. I couldn't get past the big, bold attention grabbing (paraphrased) "Tiger Woods is watching his life unravel in front of him".

No, he isn't.

Tiger Woods is watching his mistakes catch up with him. He is suffering the consequences of his actions. The fallout from this is his fault.

This upsets me because that sentence, highlighted and set apart to grab my attention, categorizes Woods' drama with someone like Jennifer Hudson. Her family was brutally murdered. She didn't do anything wrong, but she suffered horribly. Woods and his family are suffering horribly because of his selfish decisions. Hudson watched her life unravel...Woods watches as truth catches up with him.

Don't get me wrong - I hope he and his wife can put their lives back together. I hope they can cling to love and forgiveness and that there can be reconciliation. But don't treat this like it's something that is happening TO Woods...this is happening BECAUSE of him. There's a big difference.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Don't Be Lazy - Do Your Research

I'm really sick of hearing about global warming and "going green". And I'm really sick of people wanting to regulate what I can and can't do - BECAUSE THEY ARE HYPOCRITES!

I had to write an article on CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs) a while ago. If you go to the EPA site you will hear about how much money they can save you! If used properly you can save up to $15/month! But here's the catch...

- They really shouldn't be used in bathrooms (the steam gets to them...shortens the life span)
- You can't but them in enclosed light fixtures...shortens the lift span (check your house - I'll bet your ceiling fans, bathroom and external fixtures are all enclosed...you'll have to replace those)

Okay, so maybe you won't have to replace the fixture. If you don't, however, you'll be changing your CFL every year, instead of every 5-10 years (like they promise).

Let's take my house as an example: 12 enclosed light fixtures with incandescent bulbs ($0.84 each) would cost $10.08 per year for light bulbs. If I don't change those fixtures, then the new 'more efficient' CFL's ($4-14 each) will cost me at least $48 per year.

And what about the environmental impact?

According to the EPA, the maximum contamination level (MCL) of mercury a human can have in water is 0.002 mg/L. SOME CFLs have 1 mg of mercury...most have 3-5 mg. While that may not seem like a lot, lets say I replace 12 light bulbs a year - that's 36-60 mg of mercury in the local landfill. And that's just one house.

In 2000 the population of Elk Rapids was 2700. Let's play it safe: there are 2,000 people here. They only have five enclosed light fixtures in their homes - they have to replace those every year. That's 10,000 light bulbs, and and anywhere from 10,000 - 50,000 mg of mercury going into our landfills.

Okay, let's go a step further and say that EVERYONE in Elk Rapids disposes of the light bulbs properly (which isn't easy to do - the easiest way is to save them up and mail them to a disposal company, because most landfills won't accept them). So you get this box, you fill it with CFLs so you aren't dropping mercury in your own backyard.

So where does it go? Is it miraculously converted into something safe and useful? Nope...it's shipped overseas. They just dump the poison in someone else's yard.

Why does it make these people hypocrites?

Because as environmentalists talk about "green" standards for third world countries (because we need to save them!) they are dumping our toxic waste there at the same time. I can't even tell you how disturbed I was to read this.

Do your research (and that means opening your minds past what the government says and past what Fox News says). Start looking into these things - find out what's really happening. Because you aren't going to save yourself that much money, and while you may delay your own mercury poisoning for a while, you ARE poisoning someone else.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Scariest Driver

I know we've all experienced some pretty crazy drivers. I had a couple of friends in high school who tried to reach 100 mph on US 31 (yikes!). One of those guys also tried to take a corner at 40 mph...on a dirt road. Surprisingly, he's still alive today. There are so many different types of drivers that I thought I'd list my "favorite" bad drivers.

- The Big Bertha...wrong driver. Sorry! Really, here I go:

- The Multi-tasker: she eats, smokes, talks on the phone, and drives.
- The Big Truck: he tailgates during ANY weather because he has a supercharged engine and four wheel drive.
- The Blue Hair: they can barely see over the dashboard, they're in no hurry, and they drive in the passing lane.
- The Teenager: do I really need to elaborate?

Today I got stuck behind the scariest driver I've met in a while: The Wacko.

It was overcast...she was wearing sunglasses. There was no rain, snow, or sleet...her windshield wipers were going at warp speed. The light was green...she sat there. I honked THREE times and she never moved. As soon as the light turned red she looked at me in the rear view mirror before going forward. Thankfully her brain returned to her body in time to avoid driving into on coming traffic.

I'll take one of those other drivers any day...at least I know what motivates them. I have no idea what was wrong with this lady or why she was driving like that, but I breathed a sigh of relief when she pulled into a parking lot.

Sure, I'm all about stopping drunk driving. K.A.D.D.! (Karin Against Driving Drunk) But I'm also a founding member of K.A.R.I.N. - Karin Against Raving Idiots Nearly-killing-people-because-they're-too-zoned-to-drive

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Three years ain't what they used to be...

I remember when I was 21...then 22, 23, 24...it wasn't that big of a deal. I graduated college, moved, got a job, moved...then moved a couple of more times. It was no big deal. Moving in and out of my dorm when I was 21 was no better or worse then moving into a new house when I was 24.

Fast forward a few years...

In 2006 my newly-married self moved again. No problems. But a couple of days later my hip hurt, so I went to visit a chiropractor. I brushed it off. No biggie.

Three and half years later, at the ripe-ol'-age of 31, I am moving again (the last time for at least three years - we bought a house!). It's been a long, slow process (I won't go into the details), but instead of taking a weekend to move, we've had to haul a few boxes here and there. It should be easier, because there's not one big "do-it-all" day, right?

Heck to the no.

I'm tired. I ache. My legs are sore. My back is sore. I feel so OLD! Moving never felt like this before. I packed, I moved - done. Oh, hoh, hoh! Not this time. I'm so tired of packing and moving and re-packing and moving that I'm considering letting the landlords keep everything that's left in the house. Then I can just order new stuff and some nice man will ship it right to my door. Ahhhh :)

Seriously though, I'd love to tell you more, but I can barely keep my eyes open. I mean, it's already 7:10. After the Wheel I might stay up to catch Alex, but then I'm off to bed!

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Two Cents - Oprah

I think she's going to run for president. What do you think?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Too Many Options

Ah...I finally have internet at home. It was almost two weeks without it, and it sucked. In my new little hometown NO ONE has free wireless internet access. That sent me into TC (which was fine, because I picked up a load of stuff from the old house while I was there). But while I sat in coffee houses and restaurants I didn't have a lot of time, so I didn't blog (or read blogs). It was all business. Yuck.

But just because my fingers stuck to the plan didn't mean my brain did. Everyday I would read something or talk with someone and start composing a post about it (oh, Michael Moore, not everyone was fooled by your subtle "Democrats are right, Republicans are wrong" rant...I just haven't had the time to reply). I considered jotting down ideas on paper, but I kept throwing them away.

Now that I've reconnected, I have to decide - compose those thoughts, or move on.

Psh. Move on.

EVERY day I find new things that inspire me. Why should I look back when I know Matt's going to say or doing something tonight that will cripple me with laughter and spawn a new post? Let's be honest - if you annoyed me last week, you'll probably annoy me tomorrow. I'll about it then.

Perhaps in the future you'll hear the story of my desk. My beautiful, old metal teacher desk that weighs 4,385 lbs. (I know...I had to lift it). I bought it months ago and have been waiting for the day when I had an office for it. Now I have an office...and it won't fit through the door. Keep your eyes peeled for THAT story.
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Matt didn't disappoint! As we were leaving a restaurant tonight a lady came out after us and got Matt's attention. He went to see her, then came back to the car and said:
"You forgot your sherdoodle"...then he handed me my pashmina :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

You know you're tired when...

...you're laying in bed with your spouse and have this conversation.

Karin: "Do you want to kiss me good night?"

Matt: "Yes."

Pause

Karin: "I'm too tired to roll toward you."

Matt: "Me, too."

Karin: "Well, thanks for wanting to."

Matt: "You're welcome."

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Overheard in Las Vegas

Ella: Is Mitch at work?

Karin: No, but Daddy is at work.

Ella: Daddy is Mitch...right Cam?
=========================================
While at the nature preserve watching a chipmunk run around - Ella chased the chipmunk and called it Pip (the chipmunk from "Enchanted"). The chipmunk finally stopped. This is what I heard.

Pip. Pip, are you scared? It's okay, Pip. It's okay.

Look at me, Pip. It's Ella. It's okay, Pip.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Disney isn't racist...Disney is fatist

Next month Disney will release its latest cartoon musical, "The Princess and the Frog". People have been making a big deal about the princess, Tiana, because she's black. Hey, that's cool. Another beautiful princess to add to Disney's cast list.

This weekend I read an interview with Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Tiana. I don't think Ms. Rose has ever watched a Disney cartoon. Why? Because she praises Disney for "finally" getting away from the notion that beauty means blond hair and blue eyes.

Finally? Really? Let's take an inventory:

1937 - Snow White - black hair, brown eyes
1950 - Cinderella - blond hair, blue eyes
1959 - Sleeping Beauty - blond hair, violet eyes
1989 - The Little Mermaid - red hair, blue eyes
1991 - Beauty and the Beast - brown hair, brown eyes
1992 - Aladdin (Jasmine) - black hair, brown eyes
1995 - Pocahontas - black hair, brown eyes
1996 - Hunchback of Notre Dame (Esmerelda)- black hair, blue eyes
1997 - Hercules (Megara) - brown hair, brown eyes
1998 - Mulan - black hair, brown eyes

Hmmm...it looks to me that, if anything, Disney is promoting the beauty of the dark haired/dark eyed woman.

Maybe the excitement is over the collapse of the Disney Aryan Nation?

But wait - there's a gypsy, Native American, Chinese, Moroccan, Irish-Mermaid...there's actually only one blond haired, blue eyed gal in the bunch. It's not like Disney has snubbed non-white nationalities. The first non-white princess appeared 17 years ago. Tiana is joining a long list of diverse princesses.

You who to know what I DON'T see on that list - a fat girl.

If there is any group of women who should be up in arms with Disney, it's the overweight population. We chubby-cheekers get to be the evil octopus, the old tea pot, or the ugly step-sisters (who still weren't the big).

Where's the fat princess???

If anything, I commend Disney for their continuing efforts to include all nationalities in their list of beautiful princesses. But would it kill them to include the "average" sized girl?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lessons from Las Vegas

Well, I've been relaxing in sunny Las Vegas for a week now. It's been fun. My sisters both have new homes, my hubby was here for a few days, and Miles and Ella are too cute for words!

I always enjoy visiting. It can be tough at times. My sisters and I aren't those sisters who buy houses together, have the same friends, and spend all of our free time together. Don't get me wrong - we like each other. But we are just as likely to hang-up on you as we are to send you a card. That's just the way we roll.

Because of our willingness to disagree (often loudly), it can made for some uncomfortable times during visits. Add to that a 3 yr. old and 11 mo. old who are tired because the visitor has messed up their schedules, and the tension can build.

Miles, for instance, didn't sleep for two days. Then he slept (but not enough) and decided to stop drinking or eating. He's at the doctor's office now.

Then there's Ella. I'm supposed to share a room with her, but I go to sleep after she does and tend to wake up before she does. She's one of those kids who does NOT want to miss out on the action, so she fights the naps and ends up being tired and irritable.

As you can imagine, this is doing wonders for all of the adults in the house.

Having been here for over a week, I've learned some valuable things. I thought I might share.

- Dresses make you pretty; pants are ugly
- It's never too cold for a sundress
- If it's too cold for a sundress, put the sundress on over your long sleeved dress
- No one is as exciting as Daddy
- When all else fails, bounce
- There is no need to spend hundreds of dollars on toys - the couch will do
- When you don't want to do something, just say "I don't know how"
- Blame the cats

As you can see, very little of this has anything to do with me. It doesn't help my sisters and me with our relationships. It won't help us rest. It contains no nutritional value. But they are lessons learned, and I try to learn something new everyday.

Now I'm going to work on my next lesson - outlasting a 3 year-old in a battle of the wills. I think I'm game.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Happy Reunion

This event was 15 months in the making...













Okay, so it didn't exactly go as planned, but in no time at all Ella was chasing Uncle Matt and telling him how cute he is :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mixed Signals

No smoking signs in the airplane bathroom...right above the ash tray.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Figures...

...I leave for Vegas tomorrow and I can't find my new video recorder anywhere. Dang it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This might be it...

Matt and I haven't made a big deal about our latest house-offer because, well...it's the 3rd offer we've made on a house this year. And with everything that happened with the last house we've approached this current opportunity without getting our hopes up.

Starting yesterday, however, we're getting our hopes up. The house didn't quite pass inspection, but that's okay. The list of minor repairs is so short that our handy-man took care of it all yesterday! We've been told that the appraiser will go back, okay the repairs, and then we'll be on the path to a closing date.

We're pretty excited. This house is 80 years newer than the last one, the resale value of the property is fan-TAS-tic (great location), and the accepted offer is a whopping 40% of the originally listed price.

In a perfect world we would probably be closing before the end of the month (yipee!), but that won't happen. Don't be sad! The only reason it won't happen is because I'll be out of the state from Oct. 21-Nov. 4 (no Ella, I haven't found your purple marker). But as asoon as I get back...we could be home owners :)

The original plan was to do a bunch of upgrades to the house before we move it, but that's not going to happen. As our rental house has developed mold, we've had to move out. Since we're currently living with our frined Shaina (three adults in a 900 sq. ft. apartment), we want to give her her space back as soon as possible.

So...in a perfect world, we'll close on the house Nov. 5th or 6th, handy-dude will replace some flooring the next week, and we'll be moving by the 2nd weekend in November!

Ah. It could happen, folks. We're hoping it does :) You'll know if it doesn't...you'll hear my sobbing from where ever you are ;)

Here's praying for God's will in this - stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

If it's good enough for me...

Got this in an email...thought I'd share. Seems to me if this is such a good idea, Congress would be the first ones to sign up!
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On Tuesday (not sure which Tuesday), the Senate health committee voted 12-11 in favor of a two-page amendment, courtesy of Tom Coburn, which would require all Members of Congress and their staff members to enroll in any new government-run health plan.

Congressman John Fleming has proposed an amendment that would require Congressmen and Senators to take the same health care plan that they would force on us. (Under proposed legislation they are exempt.)

Congressman Fleming is encouraging people to go to his Website and sign his petition. The process is very simple. I have done just that here
.

Senator Coburn and Congressman Fleming are both physicians.
Regardless of your political beliefs, it sure seems reasonable that Congress should have exactly the same medical coverage that they impose on the rest of us.

Please urge as many people as you can to do the same!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Fun find in a middle school language arts class

Most of the kids stared at it and shrugged. If you know me, you'll get this - I laughed one of my loud, barky laughs, then had to control myself. This was her poster:

I will not obsess.
I will not obsess.
I will not obsess.
I will not obsess.
I will not obsess.
I will not obsess.
I will not obsess.
I will not obsess.

Monday, September 28, 2009

What part of your body is the sexiest?

If you said your underarm, then I'm calling you a liar.

Our culture's obsession with looks makes me crazy. I could rant for hours, but I won't. What I am going to do, however, is poke at companies that don't even make appearance-enhancing products but try to tap into the market.

Secret - really?? You're a DEODORANT!! I just saw the commercial for your newest product..."For sexy, smooth underarms..." blah, blah, blah.

I thought the point of deodorant was to stop sweat and make you smell pretty? Are sales so bad now that you have to resort to telling people that Secret will make them sexy??

COME ON!!!

This is just ridiculous. I have never, NEVER, heard a guy talk about hookin' up with the girl with the sexy pits. Maybe that's because I'm in northern Michigan and we wear turtle necks in the summer, but that's not the point.

Pretty soon it'll be sexy to shop at Toys-r-us. The really hot people will send their packages via UPS. And don't forget the animal magnetism of Tinactin.

Can we PLEASE stop making it about sex and just make it about a GOOD product??

Okay...I'm done.

(Maybe I should change this from the Ramblings to the Rantings...)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's not their fault you're stupid...

I went to Meijer today. I hate going to Meijer because checking out is the biggest pain! There are 108 lanes with cashiers, and only ever 6 cashiers. Then there are 56 U-Scan lanes with TWO people watching them. Oy.

I get frustrated there, especially with the do-it-yourself lane, so I've written a quiz to help people determine whether or not you should U-Scan:

1) When sliding my credit card I:
a. Slide it from any angle/direction and hope for the best
b. Slide it and wait for the magic to happen. I'm not sure why they have so many buttons there
c. Slide my card, then realize that I can't read anything smaller than a 28 font so I just start pressing buttons until the cashier has to come help me
2) When using coupons I:
a. Scan them first, then complain that they aren't working
b. Slide them right into the slot! (What's scanning?)
c. Press "finish and pay", then try to scan them
3) I like to use the U-Scan line when:
a. I have a cart full of clearance items that have special codes that may or may not scan
b. I have a hand full of coupons and am in a hurry
c. It didn't work for me the first 25 times, but maybe this time it will

If you selected ANY of these answers, get your butt OUT of the U-Scan lane and let someone help you...because you cause so many problems for everyone else that they have to send you your own personal cashier anyway!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Familiar Stranger (book review)


Craig Littleton's decision to end his marriage would shock his wife, Denise . . . if she knew what he was up to. When an accident lands Craig in the ICU, with fuzzy memories of his own life and plans, Denise rushes to his side, ready to care for him.

They embark on a quest to help Craig remember who he is and, in the process, they discover dark secrets. An affair? An emptied bank account? A hidden identity? An illegitimate child?

But what will she do when she realizes he's not the man she thought he was? Is this trauma a blessing in disguise, a chance for a fresh start? Or will his secrets destroy the life they built together?
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Okay - you guys know me. I'm not a fan of anything serious. Just look at my movie collection. If you can find a good drama in there I may have watched it once, but there's no guarantee. I figure there's enough drama in life that I want to laugh and love with my movies and books.

With that in mind, "The Familiar Stranger" is out-of-genre for me, but I stumbled upon Christina's blog a few months ago and wanted to help support her when it released. Being sick for a month offered plenty of time to sit back and read, so I picked up TFS...five hours later I finished it.

I love that the entire book is written in first person, but through TWO point of views! Berry dictates at the beginning of each chapter if you're in Denise's head or Craig's head. This draws you into their lives and hearts as they struggle to uncover truths, deal with their findings, and figure out what to do next. This first person experience lets you feel their anguish and jubilation throughout their journey.

From the Christian perspective Denise is a fabulous example of grace and forgiveness. She isn't perfect, and her immediate reaction isn't always what it should be, but that's what makes her genuine. What makes her admirable is that even in the midst of her pain and turmoil, even after she gets angry and screams, she always goes back to God and mends her ways. Her strength truly comes from Gob, because she makes come hard decisions that would not be possible without the strength and grace of a Savior.

Walking with Craig through his recovery and discovery is eye opening. It's tense and exhilarating to be in his head as he struggles to figure out who he is. Each revelation brings a new challenge. His self-discovery keeps you on edge waiting for each new nugget of information.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. I like the realism of the pains and struggles of these characters, but it would have been hopeless and depressing without the foundation of Christianity. Even though things don't work out perfectly, it's not the fairy tale ending that I usually read, but there's hope because of God and the faith the characters put in Him.

This is a book I can easily recommend.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I admit it...I had fun.

I can't stand weddings anymore. I am all about marriage and the covenant between man, woman, and God, but today's weddings are ridiculous.

Yes, I know - I had a wedding. And even though my dad will whine and complain about it, he wanted it. Matt and I didn't have the money - I would have been happy with a potluck after church. I didn't care about the dress or flowers or decorations - I wanted to get MARRIED.

Sadly, so few girls/women think like this. All they think about is the wedding and being a bride. They spend years dreaming about it and planning it. I know of one gal who spent over two years saving up money for her wedding. TWO YEARS!! For what - one day?? She could have gone down to the court house with less than $50 and the end result would have been the same - she'd still be married.

But it's not about the marriage...it's about the wedding.

I know people who enjoy those Bridezilla shows on TV, but I can't stand them. It's just more proof that people don't care so much about the sanctity of marriage as they do about throwing a bigger and better party than the last person. It makes my skin crawl.

It doesn't help that for five years of my life I worked at the Winchestertonfieldville Anvil Factory (that's code for a resort in northern Michigan - I can't mention them here because they got their panties in a bunch the last time and wouldn't promote me). While there I was an event coordinator. Weddings = events. Oy.

When the maid-of-honor passes out in a closet and gets stuck, someone is arrested for drunk driving in the parking lot, and another guest has to get stitches from a drunken fall then YES, it IS possible to imagine your bar bill being over $7000. No, 60 minutes before the reception I will NOT take off all of the table clothes and have them ironed, and, no again, you will not get a discount because of the creases on the clothes. Surprisingly, no matter how many times you call me with a different list of guest rooms needed I will NOT lower your room rate by $50/night because you went up from 15 rooms to 16 rooms.

That's just a sampling of my favorite stories. Weddings bring out the worst in people, and I think marriages would be better off without weddings.

Despite all of this, however, I recently agreed to help some friends coordinate their wedding. I was just the go-to-gal on site to help keep everyone organized. Most of the people I knew at the reception left by 8pm, so I had a while to sit around by myself (couldn't dance - still recovering from bronchitis). I didn't know what to expect, and I found myself enjoying the wedding, but for all of the wrong reasons.

I had fun planning again.

I was there early and helped set up. I stood in the back during the ceremony and told the bridal party when to walk (and told the late guests that they had to wait to be seated). I decorated, got microphones, cleaned up, and hung out with the facility and catering staffs - it was great! It reminded me how much I used to enjoy my job at the Anvil Factory. I loved being busy and being involved. And, for the first time in a while, I didn't leave the wedding early (well, I couldn't, but I liked chatting with the staff, too).

I really used to enjoy event planning. I had forgotten that. It was fun to remember it again.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

To Pursue Excellence

"I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God's business."
~Michael J. Fox

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

TCAPS Found a Way

Whether you support them or not, you can't deny that the current administration is doing some controversial things. (Before you get all defensive on me, read the definition of the word, please). People are up in arms on both sides of the issues. I think it's great...to some degree.

The great thing about our country is that we CAN disagree. But there are those (on both sides) that don't see understand that. They have this twisted world-view that tells them they can insult and assault anyone who doesn't believe them. They seem to think that their "freedom of speech" means they can be as mean they want to anyone they want.

This includes school teachers.

In November, my friend's daughter participated in a mock-election at school. Not a surprise - every school did it. During class discussion the teacher asked about the kids about the important issues in their lives. When my friend's daughter spoke up she gave her beliefs and said that she would not vote for Obama. The teacher began to bully this girl, criticizing her, insulting her, and insisting that she didn't know what she was talking about.

This was in a THIRD GRADE classroom!!

The teacher accused this child of saying what her parents told her to say...duh!! Does anyone out there really thing there were any elementary age kids who DIDN'T represent their parents' beliefs? I doubt it.

But in that third grad classroom my friend's daughter was NOT allowed free speech - she was verbally attacked by her teacher for not agreeing.

THAT, my friends, is why the president's speech today is controversial. It's not what he has to say - it's how the "guided questions" will be handled in class.

The teachers are there to instruct the children about how the government works. They have a responsibility to make sure the kids understand the roles of federal, state, and local governments. It is NOT a pulpit for them to scare their students into compliance!!

For whatever reason this administration is really bringing out the worst from both sides. It seems to be nearly impossible to find someone to disagree with without them insulting your intelligence. And THAT is why I'm not in favor of today's big address - because I don't trust the teachers (on either side of the issue) to present kids with the facts without it turning into a brow-beating.

But what to do? How do the schools deal with this? How do you make it possible for kids to listen to this address without exposing them to the possible (and very REAL) threat of extreme-belief teachers?

The Traverse City Area Public Schools, under the direction of superintendent Jim Feil, found a way. Their first day of school (today) will be a half day. All students will be dismissed at 11:30 am so they can watch the speech at home with their parents. This way they can see it, but they can also discuss it at home.

I absolutely support this decision. I don't care whether or not you agree with me, but I belief that PARENTS, not teachers, have the responsibility of shaping a child's moral, political, religious, ethical beliefs. Yes, I understand that this means there are kids who will grow up in homes where they are taught that militias are good and wearing florals with stripes is acceptable. Yes, some parents will give their kids bad advice. But it is still their right and responsibility to instruct their kids.

So I applaud TCAPS for a good decision. I wish we could respect each other enough to let other people disagree with us and not have to make this kind of decision, but since we can't, I think TCAPS is doing a good thing.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A what??


I don't know how I feel about an appliance called a "Rocket Grill Electric Grilling Appliance". Just seems like there's one too many 'grill's in the title.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Users beware - Yahoo! doesn't care

On Thursday last week I went to the library, started my laptop, opened my Yahoo! email account, and nearly cried. I'd been hacked. All of my emails and folders were gone. There was one email in my inbox. It was sent to me from that same email address and it was an obscene curse toward Christians.

I've since opened a gmail account and am still trying to get all of my info transferred over. It's been difficult and upsetting.

One of the first things I did (or tried to do) was contact Yahoo! to let them know what happened. I spent nearly 30 minutes trying to find out how to talk with someone (via phone or live chat) about it. I couldn't (and still can't) find the right link. I even posted a comment on my Facebook page and asked for help. No one had any advice that made it any easier to contact these people.

I FINALLY figured out how to send a generic concern email (which seems highly inappropriate when someone has just violated your personal space). The only option was to send an email from my corrupted account and ask them to respond to that corrupted account. I wasn't happy with that option, but it was the only one I had, so I did it.

It's now been five days since the intrusion. No word from Yahoo!, and I even included my phone number in the original message so they could call me.

Nothing. Not even an "we got your email" email. I understand that this is a big company offering a free service, but please think about it before you sign up with them.

*This is the FOURTH time I've had to contact them about problems with that account - I only heard back from them twice.
*It was my writing email - there are editors' and authors' emails in there. I had saved all kinds of info regarding publicity and classes in my email folders. It's all gone, and no one has contacted me.
*They have millions of customers, you are just one person - it's not a big deal to them that someone insulted my faith, destroyed my business documents, and violated my peace of mind. I'm just one little fish to them.

I'm not in the process of switching over all of my accounts. I would have kept my current Yahoo! accounts open, but I'm not willing to risk the lack of security when they are demonstrating a lack of concern.

I hope your experiences are better, but it's time for me to move on.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Oh happy day - I missed it!

Some how, I don't know how, I missed TWO episodes of "Bones" last season. How...how?!? I don't know, but I discovered it tonight! After suffering months of near-freezing summer temps and nights without Brennan, Booth, and the gang at least one problem had a solution! (Yes, I watched them while wearing jeans and a light sweater).

But I can overlook the wardrobe for now. Why? Because "Bones" returns on my sister's birthday. Only SEVENTEEN more days!!

Oh, happy, happy day :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Another Bums Game

You'd hardly know it by our clothing, but this is Matt and I with our friends Jason and Brooke at a Beach Bums game...in July!!! (Yes, those are jeans and hoodies).

Just for Michelle...Suntan and Sunburn.

Another shot of Matt with his eyes closed (if you have any where he managed to keep his eyes open, can you send them to me?)

Our fair stadium...Weurfel Park.

The lawn seats....

I don't know how to share this here, so I'll put the link. This game was Ladies Night. Instead of singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame at the 7th inning stretch, Suntan and Sunburn did a little ditty to "Single Ladies". See it here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Bucket List

Someone tagged me on one of these on Facebook. I thought I'd post it here, just for fun.
*****************************************************************************

The Bucket List. Place an X by all the things you've done and remove the X from the ones you have not, then tag your friends (including me).

Things you have done during your lifetime:
() Gone on a blind date
() Donated Blood
(X) Skipped school
() Watched someone die
(X) Been to Canada
( ) Been to Mexico
(X) Been to Florida
() Been to Hawaii
(x) Been on a plane
() Been on a helicopter
(x) Been lost
(X) Gone to Washington, DC
( ) Hugged a homeless person
(X) Swam in the ocean
( ) Swam with Stingrays
() Been sailing in the ocean
(X) Cried yourself to sleep
(X)Played cops and robbers
(X) Recently colored with crayons
( ) Ran a marathon
(X) Sang Karaoke
( ) Volunteered at a soup kitchen
(X) Paid for a meal with coins only
( ) Been to the top of the St. Louis Arch
( ) Seen the Northern Lights
( ) Been Para sailing
(X) Been on TV
(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn't
(X) Made prank phone calls
(X) Been down Bourbon Street in New Orleans
(X) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose
() Fed an elephant
(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
(X) Fired a gun
(X) Danced in the rain
() Been to the Opera
(X ) Written a letter to Santa Claus
(X) Serenaded someone
( ) Seen a U.S. President in person
( ) Been kissed under the mistletoe
() Watched the sunrise with someone
( ) Driven a race car
(X) Been to a National Museum
(X) Been to a Wax Museum
(X) Eaten caviar
(X) Blown bubbles
(X) Gone ice-skating
(X) Gone to the movies
( ) Been deep sea fishing
() Driven across the United States
( ) Been in a hot air balloon
( ) Been sky diving
(X) Gone snowmobiling
( ) Lived in more than one country
(X) Lay down outside at night and admired the stars while listening to the crickets
(X) Seen a falling star and made a wish
() Enjoyed the beauty of Old Faithful Geyser
() Seen the Statue of Liberty
() Gone to the top of Seattle Space Needle
() Been on a cruise
(X) Traveled by train
() Traveled by motorcycle
() Been horse back riding
( ) Ridden on a San Francisco cable car
(X) Been to Disneyland OR Disney World
(X) Truly believe in the power of prayer
() Been in a rain forest
() Seen whales in the ocean
(X) Been to Niagara Falls
() Ridden on an elephant
( ) Swam with dolphins
( ) Been to the Olympics
( ) Walked on the Great Wall of China
( ) Saw and heard a glacier calf
( ) Been spinnaker flying
() Been water-skiing
(X) Been snow-skiing
(X) Been to Westminster Abbey
(X) Been to the Louvre
( ) Swam in the Mediterranean
(X) Been to a Major League Baseball game
( ) Been to a National Football League game
( ) Swam with sharks
() Been White Water Rafting
(X) Written a book or screen play
(X) Have been in love

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Thank God I'm a Country Girl

This week has been interesting. Ups, downs. Disappointments, fun surprises. I've been across the board. Throughout it all there has remained one constant theme, one unifying component:

Country Music

Yep, I said it. I love country music. I wish more people wrote worship music to a country rhythm. I wish more people admitted they like it.

I'm sure God had a reason for puting me in Michigan. In NORTHERN Michigan, where the sun barely shines during the summer. Where I've worn jeans more times this summer than I've worn shorts. In the land of snowmobiles and hockey (well, I can't really complain about the hockey). This is my home, and I can't imagine living away from the lake (Lake Michigan...not those little puddles you live by where you can see the people who live on the other side).

But then I turn on 103.5 WTCM and I'm HOME. I start dreaming about my first pair of cowboy boots and suddenly life on a ranch 50 miles from town doesn't sound so bad. It doesn't help that I've been reading Tammy Barley's and Mary Connealy's books about the country life.

Sigh.

I'm definitely the off colored egg in the family. Both of my sisters live in Las Vegas. I visit as often as I can, but I still won't drive while I'm there. It's just too big. Too many people. Though I've never lived there, and I really have no idea what it would be like, I want to live in a small town in Montana, where people still ride their horses into town and it's an hour drive to the nearest mall.

Maybe, someday. I'm sure God gave me this love for a reason...I'm excited to see where it takes me! (And Matt...I'll take him with me)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Farting Joke

Okay, so I totally ripped this off from someone else's blog, but it's too funny not to post. I'd like to say I can see myself doing this, but in all honestly I can see my sister Michelle doing it ;)

I was in the pub yesterday when I suddenly realized I desperately needed to fart. The music was really, really loud, so I timed my farts with the beat.

After a couple of songs, I started to feel better. I finished my pint and noticed that everybody was staring at me.

Then I suddenly remembered that I was listening to my iPod.

Monday, August 17, 2009

This is a test, this is only a test

This weekend my sister and I were talking about our blogs. I finally added a counter to this blog, just out of curiosity. Imagine my surprise to discover that The Ramblings has been collecting more hits than my writing blog!

Why the surprise? Well, because that blog has 23 followers and this one has one. Because there are NEVER comments on this blog, but I regularly get comments over there. And then Cammie hit me with a sucker punch to the gut:

"That blog is boring."

Do you hear that? That's the sound of my heart breaking.

Boring?? But it's all about writing, it's all about my passion, my would-be career! BORING?!?

Sigh. She has a point. I don't care what her knitting blog says...I just look at the pictures. I wouldn't read my dad's blog if he wrote one about banking. I wouldn't ready my younger sister's if she wrote about being a PE teacher. I get it, I guess.

So you may be wondering about this "test" from the title. How is this a test? Because I'm checking to see who visits this post. How? My sister said her most frequently visited pages are those that have recipes. The most visited? The Walking Taco. Sooo....because I'm curious to see how it will work on The Ramblings, here is the WALKING TACO!!

You will need:
Individual bags of Frito's Corn Chips
Taco Meat (Ground beef; taco seasoning; following directions)
Taco Toppings (lettuce, onion, salsa, cheese, sour cream)
Scissors
Fork

Assembly:
1. Hold bag of corn chips length-wise in your hand (i.e. you should have to tip your head to read the bag).
2. Cut off one of the upper corners of the bag; then slide the scissors along the top of the bag (you should be looking at your corn chips!).
3. Add meat to bag.
4. Add toppings to bag.
5. Mix gently with fork.
6. Walk, and eat!

That's it folks! The Walking Taco - quick, yummy, and good on the go!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Do people ever listen to themselves?

I appreciate the desire to be sentimental. It's understandable that a person wants to encourage, salute, or bless someone else, but sometimes it just doesn't work.

On the radio today I listened to a tribute to the pilot from the Gulf War who's remains were just recently found (18 yrs after his death). His friend was trying to be sincere, but his tribute to his friend has burned itself into my brain for all of the wrong reasons. This is what I heard (paraphrase):

"If people only gave 10% in their lives of what he has given us in his death then this country would be better."

Um, I understand that he thinks his friend was great, but I really doubt the pilot has done anything amazing since he died. Couldn't this friend think of ONE good thing that happened during the pilot's life? I'm just having a problem figuring out how to make this country better by giving 10% more than the dead guy gave.

I'm arguing that this pilot was a good man. I'm not saying he didn't do good things. I AM saying that someone should have proof-read this guy's eulogy and had the guts to say it didn't make sense.

If you want to inspire me to greatness, give me an example. Challenge me in a feasible way. But please don't try confuse me into action. It just provides good blog fodder.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ode to N2O

If anyone has ever seen my smile then you know that I have "problem teeth". From the time I was a child I've had issues. Apparently as some point during my youth something happened and the enamel didn't form properly on my teeth. Thanks to that little snafu (which has no real cause that anyone can identify) my life has included dozens of trips to the dentist for fillings, caps, and other pleasantries. You'd think after 20+ years of these visits that they'd get easier.

Not a chance.

I had to go back again today. I brought my MP3 player to drown out the noise. They used the local numb-er, then busted out the shots. I thought I was prepared. By the fourth poke I was ready to bolt, and I must have looked like it. The dentist and hygenist both looked at me and asked if I was okay. When I told them I wanted to run, they didn't hesitate.

"Maybe you'd like some nitrous oxide." Thank you Lord for the happy gas!

I can't tell you how close I was to a panic attack. I was one prod away from leaving with a numb face and unfilled cavities. My shoulders were tense, my knees locked, and I was sweating uncontrollably. It was pretty awful.

But then they gassed me.

I don't remember much past that, and that's the way I like it. Everything blurred blessedly together. It was a happy time.

And when I got up to leave I saw the four year-old boy in the cubicle next to me...with his own little baby happy-gas-mask. You know, I'm okay with that.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Because knowing is half the battle!!

G.I. JOE!!

Yes, I saw it today. It was over-the-top. It was slightly predictable. I laughed, I cringed. Lots of people died. Things blew up.

I LOVED IT!!

Talk about great memories. Remember when, at the end of each episode, a member of G.I. Joe would should up at little Billy's house to tell him why he shouldn't touch that live downed wire? "Thanks, Rip Cord! Now I know." "And knowing is half the battle."

Oh, those great memories :)

I recommend the movie folks. I wouldn't take the lil' kids, but it sure is fun for the young 30s crowd who remembers the cartoons!!



Monday, August 03, 2009

Little twig, big problems

Here it is folks...the story of a tree. Look at this little, innocent branch. It doesn't look like much. But wait, what's that dark spot? That's where it caught fire. Obviously not a big fire, so how much trouble could it cause?

First the fire truck came...

Then the neighbor kids showed up to watch...

Then the fireman put up a nice yellow caution tape around the tree (to keep the kids out)...

And then came the tree trimmer. Doesn't look too bad, does it?
Wait, there's the rest of the tree (acutally, that's the chipper...and more neighbors)
Then Matt grabbed is safety glasses and ear protection and he joined in on the fun...

This is what was originally left...about 1/3 of the tree gone. But then we got the call that the tree would just continue to be a problem. So...
Ta-da! Look - there's a house back there! And a window...do you see that window?
Midgie sees it now. All of that warm sunlight gives her a nice new place to warm up on a brisk 70 degree July day.
And that's the story of my tree. The wood should be gone soon, as the neighbors want to burn it in their stove. Then I'll have a nice clean yard.

The end.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

In honor of my home...

...here's to the cherry capitol of the world! (But exercise caution...too many cherries give you cherry-tummy, and that can be uncomfortable to people around you).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Keep Your Yucky Tomato-Brains

I want to be healthy, I really do, but I can't stand tomato-brains.

You know what they are, I know you do. Every time you bite into a cherry tomato and the soggy skull pops and spills the slimy, gooey brains onto your tongue. Yuck! There has got to be a better way!

So I tried the Roma tomatoes. They're too big to pop in one bite, so I sliced one up and jabbed it with a fork. The rind stuck, but not those little seeds. Those gelatinous tomato fetuses, sliding all over the place, wrapped in a red amniotic fluid. Tiny tomato babies, never to be born.

Tomatoes have got to be the world's grossest food. It's either brains or babies - how can that be healthy?? I'm not sure, but with some salt and a clothes pin I can manage to eat the oyster wannabe. Ick.

Friday, July 10, 2009

In defense of, well...me

I'm just putting it out there so you can't blame me.

A week ago this HUGE branch on the tree in front of our house cracked away from the trunk (for further details please read the "Hammock" post). The branch will eventually need to come down, but we don't have the time right now. Matt is working 70 hrs/wk and I'm not comfortable enough with the chainsaw to start whacking away at it.

In the meantime the highest portion of the branch is leaning against the wires outside (I assume they are electrical). And I do mean they are leaning. You can see the strain on the wires. I called Consumers and let them know. I called them Wednesday. They said someone would be out in 24-36 hours. The branch is still pressing on the wires.

So I just want to let you know that I did my part. If we get a storm and the branch falls and the power goes out, not my fault. If the wind blows and a live wire falls to the ground in the midst of this highly child-populated neighborhood, I'm not to blame. I did what I could.

I have to admit that I'm not a fan of the reactive attitude of people these days. Here's a chance to be proactive and prevent a mess from happening. Sigh. I guess it doesn't really matter until someone is inconvenienced or hurt. Bummer.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Yahoo! and the American Dental Association

Is it just me, or does anyone else here have to look at nasty ads for teeth whiteners on their Yahoo! email page? It's gross!!

Day after day I log into my writing account and ICK! Close-ups of people's mouths - sick.

There has got to be a better way to advertise teeth whitening systems. In the meantime, Yahoo! will hear from me. My stomach can only handle so much.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

"By Darkness Hid" by Jill Williamson

A while ago I volunteered to be an "influencer" on Jill's book "By Darkness Hid". I had forgotten about it until the book arrived in the mail. Then I dawdled because I was in a chick-lit mood and wasn't ready to jump into speculative fiction (you never know how well someone will describe their worlds, and sometimes it just gets confusing).

I'M GLAD I FINALLY PICKED IT UP!

I loved Jill's book! Here's the blurb I've been posting around the net:

"This is a fabulous speculative fiction book. Williamson quickly pulls the reader into her world and into the lives of Achan and Vrell. Though the characters are young (teens) and the setting is unfamiliar (Er'Rets), Williamson's creativity and style so fully captivate the reader that you forget any preconceived idea's about "fantasy" or "young adult" literature. Instead, you find yourself wrapped up in the lives of Achan and Vrell, afraid for, crying with, and cheering for them along the way."

If you've ever considered picking up a spec-fic book (especially if you have a young one who likes Harry Potter) give this a whirl. Not only is it fun and compelling, but Jill weaves Christian faith into the plot (she says it shows up more in the latter books of the trilogy, but you get a glimpse of it now).

You can read more about Jill here, and you can check out her publisher, Marcher Lord Press, here.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I'm a sissy, I know it.

My house is constantly crawling with spiders (ick!). I'm not a fan. But this morning was really gross. This one spider was hanging out with a little sack...balled up bug? Pack of eggs?

Ick, ook, and double yuck!!

I grabbed a big paper towel and gardening gloves. Yes, I wore gardening gloves to kill a Daddy Long Legs. (gag) I'm a sissy. I'm okay with that.

Monday, July 06, 2009

My poor, poor hammock

After only one full summer of suspended slumber I am sad to announce that my hammock tree cracked. Literally. The big branch that held the ropes? Apparently the wind, rain, and gravity proved too much and that sucker cracked at the joint where it connects to the trunk!

It's sad, yes, but it's also a new burden. Upon closer inspection it looks like some of the branches are now resting on the utility lines - yikes! It should be okay for now, but we might be getting a storm this weekend. It's bad enough when the rains come in and knock out your power, but I might freak out if I lost power because there were live wires hopping around in my front yard.

So tomorrow I'm calling the electric company (I'm assuming those are their lines). I'm not sure about the gray lines, though. Anyone know who those belong to? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

It was a good hammock branch. I'll miss it. Matt's trying to find me another branch that might work. We'll have to see about that. I'm not entirely convinced just yet.

Even though this is a sad day it could have been worse - I could have lost the branch that holds up my redneck clothes line. Now that would be a truly sad day.

Friday, July 03, 2009

My Hubby, My Hero

(DISCLAIMER: This is not intended to rag on Matt's employer. We love them and all that they've provided for us. We recognize what a blessing they are - yeah, American Waste!)

Despite the craziness of the job market Matt works for a growing company. They aren't without problems, however.

Matt works for a garbage company - when it comes to paying monthly bills a lot of people are choosing to ignore the garbage bill (let's face it - the electricity is much more important than having you trash collected). Between that and the gas prices (last summer really hurt them) the company isn't making a whole lot of extra money, even though they're gaining new customers each month.

Even though things aren't going perfectly, the owners are taking care of their employees: no lay-offs. Instead they're cutting as much as they can to make it possible to keep everyone working (and paid!).

Remember when I said the company is growing? Well, it's not just growing - it's multiplying. Matt works at the recycle center (where they sort and bale recyclables to ship out to recycling companies). The building was built with the idea that they would produce "X" amount of bales to ship out each year. But with the new green movement, the fact that free recycling bins help cut garbage costs for individuals, and the company continually buying out/picking up new business each month the original estimate is kinda of low. In fact, if I heard Matt correctly, they now bale/ship FOUR TIMES the original "X" amount of bales!

What does this mean for Matt? When he started there in 2006 he worked 45-55 hour weeks during the summer (the busy season). In 2007 it was 50-60 hours. Last year he was recovering from surgery and was only allowed to work up to 50 hours, but the other guys ran a consistent 60 with a few weeks over that. And this summer? I think the last six weeks Matt has put in 70 hours per week. SEVENTY!

The hardest thing about his schedule is what it does to his social life. He has to get up at 4:15 every morning so Matt has to choose: friends or sleep. When he was fighting the cancer it was no question - sleep always won. Not so much anymore.

I know it's not easy for him. I know he's tired, which makes him crabby. And then he misses events which makes him crabbier still. It's a no-win right now. I've tried to be patient and as helpful as possible because I know this is hard for him. At least, I thought I knew how hard it was for him. I didn't really. Not until this morning.

Last night Matt wanted to sacrifice the sleep to hangout with friends and watch a baseball game (we had free tickets). No problem. We did. And then this morning I drove him to work so that I can pick him after and drive straight to my parents'. By the time we got home and got to bed it was 11:30 last night. The alarm went of at 3:50 this morning (they started work early).

Matt dressed, got some breakfast, and headed out. I struggled. My eyes burned. My lids drooped. Nothing in my brain wanted to get up. I couldn't wait to get home and crawl back into bed.

Then it hit me...Matt does this six days a week.

There are a few nights when he's lucky enough to get seven hours of sleep (eight hours every couple of weeks) but most nights he catches five to six hours. Then he works 10-12 hour days of physical, dirty labor.

I got to come back home and go to sleep...Matt never has that option. He gets up and goes to work so we can eat...so we can buy a house...so we can live debt free. Sometimes he complains about it, but not often. He just does what he has to do: he provides for our household, regardless of how much sleep he gets.

I couldn't do that. I wouldn't even want to try. This morning I got the faintest glimpse of what Matt sacrifices for us. I am in awe of him, and so proud of what he does. He's my hero.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thank you Captain Obvious

This whole "learning-to-be-a-writer" thing has ruined books and magazines for me. I see and read everything differently. And I notice the stupid things that people print on magazine covers:

"Kate's Private Hell": Um...how can anything be 'private' if it's a headline?

(Commenting on her divorce) "I Feel Like I Failed": Um...you're getting a divorce. Marriage? Failed!

There were a few others today (as I waited in line at Meijer...forever) but those are the two that jumped out. I might not have noticed them a month ago...now my brain has been branded.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Good-bye Winter Blues

Finally, finally it's summer!

The thermometer has pushed past 70 degrees. The sun shines. The breeze keeps perspiration at bay. And I can finally pack up my hats and boots.

This past summer nearly killed me. Not physically, but emotionally and mentally. I don't think it's typical for husbands to hug their wives and TELL THEM to leave the state. I was so miserable that I could stop crying, which made me angry, which made me yell, which led to more crying...I was a wreck.

Thank God for sisters with frequent flyer miles.

But now, finally I'm comfortable in flip-flops! I'm wearing a sundress! I can leave the house with less than four layers of clothing and not worry about my hands freezing to the steering wheel - woo hoo!!

I've waited five longs months for this day.

And now that it's here, I'm stuck at my computer?? I don't think so! I have a few more things to type up, but then I'm outta here!! I've got a back full of books and a bottle of water...there's a beach with my name on it folks!

Happy, happy summer!!!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Newest Addiction

Canada Dry Ginger Ale with Green Tea - whew!

My sister picked some of this up on sale the when I was visiting. It didn't last long. It's not too sweet and the tea gives it a truly refreshing zing. Ah!

I've been telling Matt about it for a while and it was finally on sale today! We bought a 5 qt. pail of vanilla ice cream last week for root beer floats and he decided today to buy some ginger ale for floats too. I convinced him to pick up some with green tea and we went home. He had a ginger ale float. I had a baby one with green tea (4 oz, tops).

Fast forward five hours and I returned from the baseball game. I'm running around the kitchen and pick up the two liters to move them. Over HALF of the GA with GT is gone!! I looked a Matt.

His eyes turned into saucers. "I think you're gonna need to buy some more of that this week."

Another convert.

On a similar (but different) note, we also tried the Pepsi Throwback - made with sugar (not high fructose corn syrup). Another round of thumbs up. Once again, it's not as sweet at the regular Pepsi. Granted we don't drink a whole lot of soda anyway, but when we do Matt and I usually have to split a can (yes, a can) because it's too sweet to handle.

So there you have it folks: two sweet, but not too sweet, soda alternatives.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Civic Duty Served

Hey y'all! I'm back from the court house. What an interesting couple of days!

I didn't really want to be on the jury. Who wants to say 'yes, you're guilty' or 'sorry, this isn't the person who violated you, please try again'? Okay, fine...it didn't really bother me to say that. But it is intimidating to know that you will directly effect someone's future. I mean, what if both sides presented their cases and I still didn't know? What if I was the person who hung the jury? That's a lot of pressure.

On the other side of the coin, however, was my desire to know how it really works. To read most of my observations, please go here. Most of my curiosity stems from being a writer and wanted to someday be able to accurately represent what happens in a court room. Let's be honest, we know that TV shows are just that - they're shows. But even though we know real people don't look like those actors, and even though we know the actors have scripts are are performing, people still believe a court runs like Law & Order and we get evidence the way they do on CSI.

Sorry folks. Didn't happen.

But I like knowing that! I like knowing that someday I can write a story about a young court reporter who falls in love with the handsome court officer (no bailiff), or catches the eye of Juror #8 (in the front row). I like knowing that I can tell the story of the cramped jury room with the tall windows and gourmet donuts (Potters...yummy). I have a whole new arsenal of info here, folks!

And most importantly I played my part. Though I try to be sympathetic to most people (I'm not always good at that), I have no place for uninvolved whiners who complain without ever taking action (if you didn't vote, I'm pointing at you). Now I could have come up with excuses to get off the jury. I could have said any number of true things that might have dismissed me (I'm a Christian), but I also could have lied. Certain things would have gotten me booted. But would I want that on a jury if I ever had to go to trial? Would I want to know that an intelligent, educated, mostly-sane (though overly dramatic) woman just didn't want to be bothered? That's not really fair to the defendant or the plaintiff, so I stuck it out.

I'm not sure how long my name stays in the pool now. And I'm not sure what this means for my future. You see my hubby has never even received the questionnaire to fill out, and I've gotten it four times since I turned eighteen. And then our jury consisted of two people who had already each served on two juries - this was their third! Kinda seems like someone people get it and others don't.

Shrug. That's okay with me. I'd rather go and let my sugar daddy take care of the bacon for me. I can take the time off (oh wait! I'm on summer vaca...that's right).

Okay, I've rambled enough.

In case any of you are curious we had to decide two matters: Utter & Publishing and Larceny in a Building. We found her guilty on the U&P and not guilty on the larceny.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dude...I'm famous!

Check me out here.

I look good in green, dontcha think?

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Golden Child

There is a benefit to being the only VB daughter still within driving distance of my parents. I got to go to my dad's retirement party this week. Apparently everyone was completely fascinated by me and my hubby - they couldn't wait to tell my parents.

Although, it's not TOO surprising. I mean, I did tell everyone that Cam and Shell weren't there because they don't love my dad as much as I do. Do you think that mattered? ;)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Does being young make you better?

Okay, there's a 66 year-old pregnant woman. There's controversy. She's too old. She can't do it. Blah, blah, blah.

Have you noticed that you're a 30-something who can't run a mile, but there are 70-somethings running 10K races?

Why is AGE the issue - it should be health! Are you HEALTHY enough to have children. It angers me that a 20 year-old who eats Doritos and drinks Mountain Dew can have a baby because she's young enough, but if a 60 year-old who exercises, eats well, and is financially secure gets pregnant SHE'S the irresponsible one? What?!?!

Yes, that mother won't get to see her grandchildren, but she'll get to raise a child. But what about the 24 year-old single mother living on welfare and raising her three kids by three different daddies. Who's live will be better? The kid who's mom dies when he's in his early twenties, but has a good, safe home and a college education, or the kid lived in a two-bedroom apartment with his sibs, mom, and "uncles" and will have to go to work after high school because college is too expensive and he has to get job to help raise his sibs.

Yes, I used extremes here to make my point. Not ALL 60 year-old women are like that; neither are all 24 year-old mothers. But THAT is my point. You can't tell ANYTHING about a person by their age - other than when they were born.

And I'm just going to point out THIS sexual inequality - how old was Larry King when his last child was born? If we're going to tell women they can't have babies past a certain age then we damn well better give every man a vasectomy at the same time...we wouldn't want them to grow up without a father.

Let's stop being so superficial folks. Granted I don't want to have a kid when I'm that old, and I'm not really promoting or encouraging it, but just pointing out that saying you're a WOMAN and you're OLD are two really bad reasons to say you aren't qualified to have kids.

Okay, I'm done.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Bubble Butt: Take Two

I did it again...signed up for Weight Watchers. Why? Because I'm an emotional eater and I can't do this alone.

I did great last summer, then I blew it. I stopped exercising and ate whatever I wanted. Now I feel awful, I look just as bad, and I'm frustrated with myself.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing is the fact that I don't even realize what I'm eating. There are times when I KNOW I'm being bad (hello...pizza and ice cream, it doesn't take a genius). But then there are times when I don't even realize what I'm puting in my mouth. I think, "I did GREAT today", but then I think about everything that I ate: the handful of M&M's at school, the cookie from the bank, popcorn made my hubby (which was cooked in oil and covered it butter). Without even thinking about it I'm shoving that into my face.

This is a real frustration for me. I don't have energy and my clothes are tight. I'm sick of watching my waistline reflect my mood. I really can't keep this up for the rest of my life...it's too frustrating. But I also know that I can't run five times a week an hour each time because that's not realistic for me.

I don't know why I put this up here. I just did. I needed to vent. Sorry.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

My Husband's New Obsession

Beer.

For most of you, this doesn't seem like a big deal, but for anyone who really knows Matt (I'm thinking Jamie here) you'll understand why this is kinda funny.

You see Matt is NOT a drinker. He didn't have the "traditional" college experience. He started his own business when he was 16 yrs. old and worked at that until he closed shop in 2005. When he has free time he grabs a backpack and tent and heads to the woods. Alcohol has never been a temptation or desire.

Then he met me.

If you knew me pre-2001, then you know I used throw down a 6-pack without blinking. Not so much anymore. However, I still enjoy adult beverages. I like to buy a bottle of wine or some beer and finish it over the course of a few months ;) I mean, really - what's a fresh grilled burger without a cold beer, right?

Now that Matt works at the recycle center he sees dozens of kinds of beer bottles/cans every day, and his curiosity is high. We've had some beer before, but usually because I pick it up for some reason. Well that has changed.

A couple of weeks ago Michelob ran a special: buy (4) 6-packs, get a $15 rebate. Matt nearly burst with excitement! We bought all four and sent in for the rebate. The NEXT WEEK he wanted to try another brand...and he's got some ideas for what else he wants to try.

Here's why this doesn't work very well: Matt is a super light-weight. Plus he's not quite used to the beer taste yet, so he drinks about 6 oz. at a time. You heard that right...if he had some beer every night it would take him almost two weeks to kill a 6-pack. And that's IF he has a beer every night...which he doesn't.

So right now I'm holding him at bay and INSISTING that we finish at least 1/2 of the beer that we have before we start getting more. He's chompin' at the bit, but still drinking vveeerrryyy slowwwwwllyyy. I'm not sure what flavor we'll try next, but at this rate we should be ready it sometime toward the end of June.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Would YOU Believe It?

Catherine Zeta-Jones wants to play Susan Boyle in a movie about Boyle's life. Yeah, cuz when I look at Zeta-Jones I think, "She knows what it's like to be under-appreciated because of her looks. SHE can relate."

[Serious eye-roll here]

Thursday, April 23, 2009

K-mart, how I love thee

Two words: Double coupons.

Saving over 60% on items...stocking up...buying extras to donate. And the best part? Over $56 worth of cat food - $13. Midgie and Bucket are happy kitties :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Too Many Stupid People

I've been reading about illegal guns to/from Mexico. Miss California/Perez Hilton. American Idol. The housing market.

In the past few months I've been making a lot of comments about the things going on in our country, but I've decided to stop. Why?

Because there are too many stupid people getting too much attention.

I'd have to devote my LIFE to sitting here responding to them all. I can't keep up. And if I can't comment on everything I don't want to just comment on a few things. The fact of the matter is that I care about EVERYTHING that happens in my country, but trying to be a voice of reason amongst the hip/cool/stupid is too time consuming. I'd rather enjoy my life then spend it hating and slandering others.

Besides, there's only so much I can do. Being frustrated with that won't help. Doing what I can and then moving on...that's the best I can do.

The days are coming when it will get worse. I'm not being a gloom/doom gal, just pointing out what most Christians should have a suspicion of. Don't get me wrong - I am NOT trying to prophesy or anticipate any coming day or event. I'm just stating a fact - things will get worse until they get horrid. And then...it'll be heaven :)

In the meantime I'll briefly step into the choleric shoes that I infrequently wear and get it all off my chest:

DO YOU REALLY THINK I'M THAT STUPID? I KNOW THAT -4+-4 DOES NOT EQUAL 8, SO DON'T TRY TO TELL ME DEBIT WILL MAKE ME RICH!

DISAGREEING WITH YOUR OPINION DOES NOT MEAN I AM SCARED OR HATE WHAT YOU LIKE - IT JUST MEANS I DISAGREE WITH YOU!

GO AHEAD AND SWEAR - PEOPLE USE SWEAR WORDS BECAUSE THEY'RE TOO STUPID TO USE A DICTIONARY AND FIND A REAL WORD.

I DON'T THINK YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO TELL ME WHAT TO THINK JUST BECAUSE YOU WERE IN A MOVIE! THAT DOESN'T MAKE YOU ANY SMARTER THAN LASSIE!

JUST BECAUSE MY OPINION IS DIFFERENT THAT YOURS DOESN'T MAKE ME AN EXTREMIST! ACTUALLY, THE FACT THAT YOU'D CALL ME AN EXTREMIST JUST BECAUSE WE DISAGREE MAKES YOU THE EXTREMIST...NOT ME!


Is there anything else? Any other recent hot topic that I didn't mention? Oh, yeah...

CFL'S SUCK! WHY ARE WE IN SUCH A HURRY TO PUT TOXIC SUBSTANCES IN ALL OF OUR HOMES?? I'D LIKE TO KNOW HOW MANY CONGRESSMEN OWN STOCK IN PHARMACEUTICALS...THAT MIGHT EXPLAIN IT.

Okay, I'm done now. No more political comments. They tire me.

I need donuts...

Friday, April 17, 2009

I got it! Check it out...

...I finally have a theme for my writing blog!

I know, I know...it sounds like it already has a theme (uh...writing), but that is VERY vague. I was never sure if I should offer helpful hints, questions, problems, ideas, samples...there's just SO much involved that I was never sure where to go.

Now I have it.

My writing blog is going to be my on-line journal capturing the madness of my attempt to get a novel published. It could go on for years. Or I could get lucky and end it in 12 months. adkvnowvnovnwejvno (Sorry, I was laughing so hard that I just kind of fell on the keys).

Anyway - that's the plan!

To know how I feel, what I'm thinking, and see how the process works, check it out :) I'd love to have you stop by...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

We have BUDS!!!!

The trees are budding...THE TREES ARE BUDDING!!!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Finding Spaghetti in a Cookbook

As some of you may know, I'm a writer. Right now I do some freelance work for a small, weekly newspaper. It's not much, but it's a start.

My dream, however, is to publish novels. I've already written a few (which I'm still working on), but I want to see them in print.

As part of this journey, I started attending conferences and submitting to publishers and contests. I also do research on the various publishing houses, just so I know what people want. I mean, I don't want to waste any one's time by sending an 83,000 word novel to a publisher that only prints 10,000 non-fiction.

It was during this research that I found it - one of the most confusing titles I've ever seen: Finding God in "The Shack".

Um...are you serious?

For those of you unfamiliar with The Shack by Wm. Paul Young, it is an amazing story about God, where He is during the hard times in our lives, and His amazing love for us. It would take too long to tell you what a positive effect it had on me, but I'll say this - if you want to believe what the Bible says about God, but you struggle with understanding how there can be evil in the world, pick this up. No book can replace the Bible in it's truth and wisdom, but The Shack can help you relate to it better.

With that said, there is NOTHING about this book that makes God hard to find. The back cover tells you - Mack gets a note, apparently from God. It only takes a couple of chapters for God to appear. I don't want to give anything away, but you'd have to be BLIND to miss God in this book!

And yet some wrote a book on finding God in The Shack? And then someone published it??

What's next? Finding God in The Bible. Finding Spaghetti in a Cookbook. Finding Words in a Book.

Duh. Seriously, I want to published as much as the next person, but I have my limits. Please know that you will never find a book published by me that could have been entitled:

Captain Obvious does it again!

Friday, April 03, 2009

That's Customer Service for You

I'm not the type of person who stays quiet when things happen. If I see something I like, I make it known. When I experience something not-so-hot, I say something, usually to try to fix it. I'm a firm believer that the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Besides, if I did something for someone and they didn't like it, I'd want to know, because chances are good that I was trying to do something nice.

Have I lost you yet? Let me explain.

I've had some problems with the post office. The first was because of a postage situation. I wrote a letter explaining the situation and agreeing to pay for more postage, but the post master took care of it. My packages were mailed and I didn't have to pay extra. Three cheers for the postal dude!

That was pretty easy. This is a small community. People get to know each other, so you can talk to the post master when you need to. I like that about where I live. But what do you do when it's a bigger problem? What if it's not MY post office, but the post office in general? How do you figure out the problem?

Simple - go to the website and contact them (there's a place to express concerns).

Okay, so I'm trying to print postage for a package I want to send. I follow the procedures, but the last two times nothing happens. It just doesn't print anything. Granted I'm not charged for the lack of postage, but there's obviously something wrong. I send a message to the trouble shooters and wait.

Pop quiz: how do you get people to leave you alone? Make communication with you the most annoying thing in the world.

I got an email back from the USPS tech people. Excited, I opened it. POOF. That's the air escaping my lungs as I read the email: [paraphrased for dramatic effect]

We're sorry this isn't working, but I can't help you until you give me the following info:
- what were you trying to print?
- what kind of printer do you have?
- is it a color printer?
- what kind of computer do you have?
- what system do you use?
- how old is your system?
- are you using the factory installed drivers, or did you install your own?
- what color was your paper?
- did you plug the printer into the computer?


Seriously - they sent me about ten questions that needed to be answered about my system before they could help me. But didn't I tell them that I've been able to print postage before? This is a new development, and none of the hardware on my end has changed?

Since I pretty sure my computer ISN'T the problem, and since I'm pretty sure some geeky guy in a cubicle in Virgina doesn't care about my printing problems, I ignored it.

Then came my magazines. I only have two subscriptions. I finally got them in the mail - both of them had the backs ripped off (one had the entire back HALF ripped off). Since they came across country I contacted local and national postal people.

Local post master - concerned, caring. Spoke to me and looked into it for me.

National computer center - [again, paraphrased]

Sorry about your mail. In order to figure out what happened, please give us the following info:
- when was the magazine sent?
- where did it come from?
- how long did it take you to get it?
- what does the label say?
- what's the code on the label?
- is the label white or pink?
- was there enough postage on it?
- did you buy the magazine, or was it a gift?

Once again, I don't think they even read my message. If they did, then they missed the part where the cover was ripped off. You know, the cover - the part with the labels and postage and codes on it??

With all of this said I want to make sure you know that I'm not anti-post office. I like dealing with the locals. I know them. They understand that my two magazines are important to me. I live in TC...it's still snowing here. There's nothing else to do if you don't have your magazines.

But those folks in Virgina...they don't seem to care. And they've made their point. I won't be dealing with them anymore. I will only talk with my local post master. He gets me. He's nice. He really does care about making a good impression, because he lives here, too.

Great big national organizations - they're really losing their appeal.