Monday, May 31, 2010

It used to be Decoration Day

True confession, and this will probably shock you as much as my confession that I don't really enjoy saying the rosary all that much, I don't much like Memorial Day.

I can hear your sharp intake of breath; what kind of an American are you? Go ahead, I know you are saying it.

I love my country, and I don't think that our Military Service Men (and women) should be ignored but it seems to me, that Memorial Day has gone the way of Washington and Lincoln's birthday.

First off, way back when, Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day, just like President's Day used to be two birthdays and two different days: Washington and Lincoln.

Now, in my opinion, Presidents Day should be called Shoppers Day because old George and Abe are not even mentioned in passing. Only they silhouettes show up, or some campy actor dresses to look like them, and encourage you to buy!

Is that any way to treat two of our greatest presidents?

Back to Memorial Day. It's always a nice, long weekend and we're encouraged to travel home, making this one of the busiest weekends on the road. And why are we supposed to travel home? Well to see the Memorial Day Parade, if your town has one and have a nice big barbeque! Don't forget to have watermelon, even if it isn't in season yet, your WalMart store will have it for you. And plenty of marshmallows, hot dogs .... yumm, yumm!

What about our fallen veterans?

Oh yeah, that's what the parade was for right?

My grandfather never celebrated Memorial Day. It was always Decoration Day for him. I remember he and my grandmother traveling roughly seventy miles from where they lived, to my grandmother's home town, which is where I lived at the time. In the trunk of their car would be a huge flat of red geraniums.

The next day, my grandfather would load his car with the flat of geraniums, a plastic cup, an old pail and a small garden trowel. If I was around at the time, I went into the car too, and then it was off to the village cemetery where three or more generations of family rested.

We'd go to each plot and clean around the tombstone, the only cleaning that it got all year. Then Grandpa would dig a little hole in front of the tombstone and plant a geranium. In the meantime, I would bring the pail to one of the far flung spigots, fill it with water, and bring it back to Grandpa. Well, not really fill it. Water is pretty heavy. Then Grandpa would use the plastic cup to water the geranium.

Not one grave in the whole cemetery was a blood relative to my Grandpa, but it didn't matter to him. And as we "decorated" the graves, he'd tell me about the occupants, service men or not.

That was when I learned that not only my Grandmother, but also her mother were the only daughters in a family filled with boys. In my own family, I was one of two daughters with four brothers and my cousin was the only daughter with twin brothers!

There was my great grandfather Alphonse, who had come to this country from Europe. In a time where people didn't live long, he had outlived two wives and lived to see some grandchildren.

Then there was my grand Uncle, Chester? I think it was Chester, who had served in World War I, in Europe and could never get the sound of a bomb blast out of his ears.

I was learning family history (although I am sorry to see that I have also forgotten some), no more, I was learning about the people in my family. Even though they had passed long before I was born, I knew them. Because of my grandfather.

Later, we'd return to his house in our town (he rented it out for the summer) and have a simple lunch. No barbeque, no special cake, no watermelon; just a feeling of satisfaction.

It doesn't help that now I live a ferry trip and about 60 miles away from the family graveyard. Needless to say, I haven't been there in over a year, and I can't remember the last Memorial Day that I spent there.

May-be we need to give Presidents Washington and Lincoln back their birthdays and call Presidents Day what it really is; Shoppers Day. And make Memorial Day and Decoration Day both federal holidays.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

My New Car, part 2

"Okay, seriously. What kind of car would you like when your van dies?"

I can't think of a conversation I'd like to have less than "the car" conversation. "I don't care." I say unhelpfully.

"C'mon! Instead of a mini-van this time, would you like a sedan? Or may-be by then, you could have a two door coupe."

Yawn.

"Mary! Don't you have any preferences?"

"I guess another mini-van."

"But may-be by then you won't need a mini-van."

"Thanks. I always like to contemplate when my parent job is over." Now the conversation is not only boring, it's turned depressing.

"Alright, let's just say you seem to want a roomy car. I guess a coupe is out. But now may-be you could get that 64 Mustang you've always wanted."

"I want a '68 Camaro now."

"But that's a Chevy!" he protests. Now he is starting to not like the way this conversation is going.

"So it has to be a Ford then?" I ask archly.

"Yes." He is now as stubborn about the make of car as I am about not wanting a car.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

FUD





You never now what is going to come up in conversation, the other day it was Go Girl. I had no idea what a Go Girl was, but waited for someone else to ask. I figured that I could Google it later on to find out, if needed.






"You know, it's a fud." I had no idea what a fud was either. I have pictures on my blog, so I'm sure you know.

Fud, as in ef u dee, fud. Go ahead and Google it, so I did. I wish though that I had stayed around for the whole conversation, because now that I know what a fud is, and generally how to use it, I'd like to ask more specific questions.
Apparently, fuds have been around for a long time, I just haven't been aware of them. May-be you have?
F emale


U rinary D evice ( or D irector) was the clever answer to non-existant or dirty toilets. The first one, or I guess to be more accurate, the first patent was in 1918 by Edyth Lacy. She called it the "Sanitary Protector." It was to be made of cheap material, so that it could be used once, and then discarded. Since then, many more fuds have been made. Most of them are made of silicone, and are made to be re-used. They aren't cheap either, then again, they are an investment in not having to worry about germy, toilet seats ever again. Truly, I am starting to think, that instead of training our daughters to sit on a potty, we will be training them to use a fud. One fud maker, the p-style, actually offers a bulk order discount.
We've seemed to come full circle now, the latest addition to the fud is the Urinelle from France. It is made of paper, and is bought in packs. Use it once and throw it away.
Now according to all the customer comments that I have read, fuds are incredibly easy to use, and take very little practice. I, on the other hand, am probably one of the least graceful (is it possible to be the most least graceful? If so, I am.) people you will ever meet. But you are supposed to be able to use these without having to "drop trou", if you wear zippered or button pants. Wearing a dress or skirt makes it that much easier, but I rather doubt it, and elastic waisted pants are a bit more tricky. Anyway, one of these days, the fear of the drug resistant germs and spotty toilets will probably drive me to buy a fud, though I'm not sure which one. They really do seem like a good idea.
And for you contest lovers, GoGirl has a sweepstakes going. The deadline is December 31, 1010. There are a lot of pretty nice prizes, so check it out. Here is the link
http://www.go-girl.com/sweepstake.asp


Want more info?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Three Small Successes

I almost wasn't going to do this meme, but then I thought, hmmmm. So in an effort to stretch my intellect, here goes:
1. I started being able to do this about a week or two ago, but I am walking around our block. This is a success because it really wrecks me, and I have to rest for a while after it. I'm hoping that eventually, I will build up the stamina that this walk won't wreck me.

2. When someone, who will remain nameless, started asking me questions about how to use my new food processor, while I was working with the mixer that had meat working it's way up the beater and onto the actual mixer, I was able to not snap at them.

3. Even though I was tired last night, I shared the shopping chore with my equally tired dh, and we took the kids with us. And both of us were pleasant to our kids, who it seems, never get tired anymore.

FaithButton

How to fight fair


Rules for fighting fair:

1. One person at a time can speak. The other person can't speak while the other person speaks. Time limit is one minute.

2. No remarks that attack the speaker, for example "You're an idiot."

3. After the first person makes their remarks, restate the remark before you respond.

Example: Speaker one: I don't like people from Fallow Fields. You are always fighting. You get nothing done to improve your town because the people are always drunk or fighting or both.

Speaker two: So if I'm not mistaken, you think the people of Fallow Fields live in poverty because we are always fighting among ourselves or we're drunk. Is that the case?

Speaker one: It is.

Speaker two: Well the fact of the matter is, what you saw as fighting, was actually a protest that was infiltrated by outside agitators and became a riot. According to a 2009 study by the Gold Clover commission , Fallow Fields has one of the lowest rates of alcohol consumption in our county, the fewest taverns or bars in our five town area, and the lowest rate of underage drinkers in our state.

4. Agree ahead of time for how long the discussion will continue. Do not go over that time limit.

5. If one person wants to discontinue the discussion, allow it. But the other speaker gets the last word in.

6. Shake hands at the end of the discussion. Thank the person for a polite and thought provoking discussion.

Do you censor?

I will never forget this little exchange I saw on TV. It was a group of women discussing something, I can't remember what. That's how unimportant the subject matter was compared to the exchange.

Woman 1 : Blah, blah, blah
Ann Coulter: blah, blah ...gets cut off
Woman 2: blah, blah, blah
Woman 3: blah, blah
Ann Coulter: blah, blah ... gets cut off
Woman 2 : blah, blah, blah
Woman 3: Blah, blah
Anne Coulter: bla, gets cut off
Woman 2 : blah, blah ..gets cut off by Coulter
Anne Coulter: Wait, don't I get a chance to say anything?
Woman 1: No, shut up, no one wants to hear what you have to say. Blah, blah
Ann Coulter's eyes grow big and her mouth drops open
My mouth drops open. I can't believe what I just heard!

Now mind you, I am not a big Anne Coulter fan. In fact, I don't think I even like her. But despite that, when someone is invited to participate in a group discussion, they should be given the opportunity to speak. Inevitably, when it's a hot button issue, people will be cut off while they are speaking, but telling someone to "shut up", telling someone that "no" they would not be given the chance to speak, telling a participant that "no one wants to hear what you have to say" goes beyond rudeness. It becomes censorship.

In a country where our biggest thing to brag about besides freedom of religion, is our freedom of speech, censorship shouldn't even be an issue. But it is.

Now, I'm not speaking about the long drawn out rant. The verbose missive that is punctuated with hate, and accusations that can't be proven.

But how often do we shut down a frank exchange of opinions by labeling someone or something a "rant," feel justified, and go on our way?

Or say something is prejudiced, hateful, or ignorant and stop listening?

Is it inconceivable, that in a country of millions, with different cultures, backgrounds and life experiences, that we would have different opinions? Is only one opinion the correct one? And what of the "expert" opinion that is always used as a what I like to say "shut up" factor, what makes them an expert, especially on something that is subjective?

Along the lines of the idiom, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a noise?", I'd like to ask:

* If a blog is written, but never read, does it really exist?
* If a column is written, but never published, does it really exist?
* If there is only one point of view being allowed to be expressed, is this really a democracy?

Gay marriage, abortion, border patrol, immigration, national health care, terrorism, clergy sexual abuse: all are hot button topics. All are subjects that are supposed to be part of our "national dialogue", to quote President Obama.

But do they get discussed? No, they get bludgeoned. People who I assume would be polite and obey the rules for polite conversation, become bullies. Instead of a back and forth dialogue, allowing the other person to respond to your thoughts, voices get louder and louder. Then words like bigot, ignoramus, Bible Thumper, communist, socialist and a host of other words get thrown as epitaphs.

No one is listening to what is being said, people form into groups divided by what they think is being said, instead of what is actually being said.

The end result, is the awfulness of the opposite group has now been re-confirmed. Those awful Republicans don't care about the poor. Or, those awful Democrats just want to tax us into oblivion. Those awful Christians hate anyone different than themselves. Those whites (or blacks or browns or who ever) do want to take over the country.

Which is really a shame. Haven't we been taught to listen to what the other person has to say before responding? Actually, from what I've seen, I don't think this has been taught for a while. But try it. You might not agree 100% with what the other person has to say, but listen. You might find that you agree with 1% or 5% of what the person has to say. Or you still might not agree at all, but at least now you know where that person is coming from. And that has to bring us closer.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Who Are You Sleeping With?

This is part two to my infidelity blog a few blogs back. This chart shows a couple Kevin and Kim. They each only had one sexual partner before they became a couple. You'll notice that each of the couple's have only had one sexual partner previously.





The red names, are the names that are "new", so they are only counted once. So, Kevin and Kim are sleeping with 12 other people, besides themselves.

Ask yourselves these questions:

1. What are the chances that every single man or woman has only had one previous lover?
Having more than one previous partner dramatically increases your chances of acquiring an STD, AIDs or HIV

2. What are the chances that none of the previous lovers have an STD, HIV, or AIDs?

3. How reliable are barrier methods of contraception? Not very. And many STD's do not require sexual transmission, but only sexual contact.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Promotions, time is almost up : Keebler

How would you like a flash drive? Keebler has an offer that expires on June 30th, so time is growing short.

Description
Star Trek fans can get a hi-tech wristband, embedded with a 1 Gigabyte USB flash drive pre-loaded with exclusive Star Trek content.

Recommended for ages 8 and above.
Requirements

To receive your Kellogg's™ Flash Drive Wristband, send:

• Completed Official Order Form
• 1 STAR TREK Token from specially marked snack packages (see product list below).
• $7.99 check or money order for each item ordered, made payable to Kellogg's™ Snacks Flash Drive Wristband Offer.

Offer available while supplies last. Limit one official order form per envelope.

Limit 5 flash drive wristbands per household.

And the Official order form can be found here: http://www2.kelloggs.com/ServeFile.aspx?fid=52860&md5=b2fc8e99f8919f520d02ca43d49e838d


Kellogg's™ Tailgate Cooler Chair
End Date
12/31/2010 12:00:00 AM

Download Order Form

Description
Tailgate red Cooler Chair
Approximate size: 14" x 24" x 15"
Canvas fabric over steel frame
Insulated cooler with extra zippered pouch
Handy carrying strap
Cooler holds up to nine 12-oz cans
Chair holds up to 220 pounds

This product is not a toy.
Suitable for ages 4 and over

Actual item may vary
Requirements
To receive your Kellogg's™ Tailgate Cooler Chair send:
-Official Order Form
-2 UPCs from participating products
-$9.99 check or money order for each item ordered
Make check payable to Kellogg's™ Tailgate Cooler Chair Offer

Limit one Official Order Form per envelope.
Limit 5 chairs per household.

Available while supplies last.
Products

•Keebler® Fudge Shoppe® Deluxe Grahams cookies (12.5 oz)
•Keebler® Fudge Shoppe® Fudge Stripes cookies (11.5 oz)
•Keebler® Fudge Shoppe® Grasshopper® cookies (10 oz)
•Sunshine® Cheez-It® Original snack crackers (13.7 oz)

Find the order form here : http://www2.kelloggs.com/ServeFile.aspx?fid=62169&md5=44a22476b28dfc18c8e706e4c965f4a3

A Little Slice of Heaven

My grandfather was a simple man. Simple, not stupid. He was born in the first year of the twentieth century, on the family farm in upstate New York. The farm was in a friendly sounding town called Henrietta, and had been in the Aldrich family since sometime in the late 1600's to early 1700's. It was either on, or near an Indian trail that went to Canada.

Enough about the family farm. I only saw it once, a a quick glance as we were driving past it when I was a teen. It was sold in the 1980's and is now a housing complex on Jefferson Highway, I think the name of the road was.

My grandfather left the farm before he was even a teen, to make his own way in the world. He married, had kids and was self employed for the majority of his life. His home was simply furnished; his table held simple food.

And when something, like a pie, was especially good, he'd say "Now that is a little slice of heaven!"

I was thinking of that last night when I should have been asleep. I hadn't heard that expression in almost 30 years, a little slice of heaven.

I've tried to make my home "a little slice of heaven," a peaceful place. A place where you don't have to worry about being attacked, physically or mentally. A place where teasing is good natured, and brief. A place where you are always welcomed. A place that when you walk through the door, you feel relief. Where dinners are eaten together, and where conversations are friendly, not stilted or tense. Where laughing is heard more than a raised voice.

Other "little slices of heaven":

* a baby sleeping

* the peace that fills a home when the last member arrives home

* hot chocolate on a cold day

* the smell of pumpkin pie baking

* sitting in front of a woodstove on a winter day

* first sliding into a hot, perfumed bathtub

* the random scent of lilac or honeysuckle that briefly reminds you of your childhood

* the scent of autumn on the air

* freshly mowed grass

* the scent that comes after the rain

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sick Traditions

Today my daughter is sick. She greeted me this morning with "Ugh, my throat hurts." Her eyes are dull, her forehead is hot. Just for today, she doesn't mind reverting from being her independent self and being once again, my little girl. She knows that today, she will lay comfortable on the couch and she'll be the responsibility of the whole family, but primarily mine.


Today, the little portable side table has been unfolded. It is next to the arm of the couch and has Brown Betty, our little brown teapot; a small sugar bowl and spoon on it. Next to that is the box of tissues, tied to it's leg is a small garbage bag. I check on the teapot's level every so often, to make sure there is enough tea in it. We are forcing fluids.


"Mommy, would you cook me some oatmeal?" she asks. Mommy? She hasn't called me "mommy" in years. I know she is feeling sick, weak and vulnerable. I go to the kitchen and make her some hot oatmeal. I know exactly how long to cook it so it's the consistency that she likes.


I can't help thinking about the different ways we take care of our sick family members. My mom was a RN before she married and she worked in the hospital. Whenever we got sick, she put us in isolation. Our roommate would be moved out and into another siblings room for the duration of our illness. No visitors. My mom believed in one atmosphere, so we stayed in our room. In those days, most families had one tv, and it was in the livingroom. Therefore, we didn't watch tv when we were sick, we either read books, played with some quiet toy, or slept. We were given an old school bell to ring if we needed anything, but pretty much were left alone.



My mother's mom, my Meme, was not an RN and she had a whole other approach to a sick child. She lived in a two story house and was in her late 60's when grandchildren began to make their appearances. So when I got a cold while staying at her house, she told me to lay down on her couch. She put a little tv table next to me with a box of tissues and a book she had picked out for me. We listened to her radio programs together while she did her housework. When I got bored with listening, I read the book. My grandmother was always picking up new books she thought we'd like to read when we came for a visit. Then she bought in hot chicken noodle soup for lunch. About 1pm, she put another heavy blanket over me, and put a heavy sweater on herself. Then she opened all the house windows "to air out the place." Her thoughts were that the freezing air would either blow the germs out the windows, or freeze them to death. After about an hour of that, she closed the windows and made us a pot of tea accompanied by some Stella Dora cookies. For supper, she made me a bowl of tomato soup with a chunk of Velveeta cheese in it accompanied by these large round crackers that were called "moon crackers." I've looked around for them as an adult, and I can't find them. ~sigh!~







My method of taking care of the sick is mostly like my grandmother, I guess. I figure that by the time you find out someone is sick, the germs are throughout the house and most of the family has the germs already, so I put them on the couch where I can keep a sharp eye on them. I force fluids like warm tea or warm lemon water with honey.
They feel warm, snuggled and cared for. And just for that day (or days), they remember being a child.






Pictures of radio and Cambellsoup do NOT belong to Mary Bennett. Picture of teapot and sugar are Copyright2010 Mary Bennett

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Shopping, no Justice for Dad

I don't usually blog about current events in my family. Oh sure, sometimes, I will sprinkle in an antidote here and there, but for the most part, I protect their privacy. And your beta waves; ie I try not to put you to sleep with my writing. Really, you most probably have your own families, do you need to be bored with mine also?

Until today, that is. You see, an absolutely sad thing just happened to us, a death in the family, my cousin Bernadette. I may write more about Bernadette later. She was a wonderful person who deserves a real blog post, and not one written by someone who is still in incoherent grief mode. So that is for another day.

Back to now: we had a funeral to attend, and none of us had appropriate clothes to wear.


Now to know Bernadette, you would know that she would never want us to attend wearing black tulle, our children uncomfortable, sitting stiffly in chairs, their feet being pinched by fancy shoes. She wouldn't want them dressed in a fuchsia orchid pattern either!

First step was for me. We went to an exclusively, woman's shop. Truly, they sold nothing except woman's clothes, and I was out of there, with an outfit in hand, within a half hour. I also applied for one of their credit cards, so I got a complete outfit, totally on sale already, for an additional 15% off! YES!

Husband went to Target, and got a very nice looking suit, within a half hour also. We picked up our daughters shoes there at the same time, still within that half hour. Great prices, not a torturous shopping trip, we were thrilled.

Off to WalMart for husband's and son's shoes. Took about a half an hour, shoes were a bargain at $20 per pair. We figured they'd only wear them for the funeral, so not a big deal how well they wore, or even if they'd start to pinch after a few hours. Mission accomplished! Also got son's dress pants and button down shirt within the same half hour. Yes!!!

But in WalMart, it was absolutely impossible to find our daughters anything remotely appropriate to wear, and I tried desperately to piece together an outfit. Fail. EPIC fail.

Off to Target. A much better selection of clothes, but again, nothing remotely appropriate for a funeral.

My husband said between gritted teeth, "This means we have to go to the mall, doesn't it?"

I opted to go right by JC Penney, Sears, and Macy's, to head for the big guns: Justice For Girls. Just as I had found everything I needed at my woman's store, I thought we'd find everything our daughters needed in a store dedicated to girls.

Fail. Epic fail.

We started off on a great note; not only did they have pants that weren't jeans in my daughters sizes, they were also black. Saints preserve us, they actually fit without the need for any alterations! One daughter was even able to get a camisole there. And then our luck ran out. There wasn't an overshirt, blazer, sweater or tunic in a demure color in the whole store. And then the other shoe fell. Each pair of pants cost $40. Yes, $40 for probably less than a yard of material, and sewing that didn't even include putting in a zipper.

Daddy - How can they charge $40 for a pair of girls pants?

Daughter - Because they can.

Moral here - There is no justice for a parent's budget at Justice For Girls.

Then it was off to Sears to see if we could find a complete top for one daughter and an over shirt, tunic, sweater, anything, for the other daughter. It's now an hour before the stores close and a matter of hours before our pre-dawn drive. We find the girls section and ....... again, no demure colors; a plethora of orange, lime, fuchsia and peacock blue. But that didn't really matter because there wasn't one single cardigan sweater, twin set, overshirt or blazer.

Now we are desperate because literally we have minutes left to shop. We hurry to the petite section of the Woman's section. Yes! We are able to find two tops that coordinate well with the pants and camisole. The store is actually closing the cash registers as our purchases are being rung up. The employees practically walk us to the door.

Mission accomplished!

Observation: The two smallest people in our group, individually have the most expensive outfits.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Children's Books You Might Have Overlooked

I've been at this Mommy job for 30 years. Here are some books that you might never have thought of, or even heard of that are worthwhile to read to your kids. (Or they might want to read it for themselves.)



1. Mary Poppins. If you think seeing the movie is the same as reading the book, think again! Unless your child's imagination is dead, they will absolutely love this book, especially if read by mom or dad. And the best news is, the book Mary Poppins is only the beginning of the series. There is also Mary Poppins Comes Back, Mary Poppins Opens the Door, Mary Poppins in the Park and Mary Poppins and the House Next Door. This is absolutely the best series of books to read before bedtime, and don't be surprised if older siblings, ones that are much too old for Mary Poppins, listen in too!






2. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is absolutely a great book to read on a cold winter afternoon! Make a cup of hot chocolate and read it it aloud to your kids. This book has it all; winter nights, villains, suddenly becoming an orphan, danger, train rides and menacing wolves. You will love it!


3. Magnificat This is not a prayer book, despite what the title implies. This is a book to read to the kids , preferably during the warm days of late spring to early fall. It is the story of an alley cat that is simply magnificent! Read the adventures of this cat, that eventually lead him to the ultimate in loyal acts, and his trip to heaven to receive a rainbow colored halo. (obviously a fiction book) This book will stay with you.












4. Miss Suzy - This was one of my most favorite books when I was young. So much so, that when I had my first children, we waited months for an intra library loan in order to get it to read to my kids. Then came Ebay, and I was able to buy a few copies. I just checked, and there are some copies available right now. Essentially, this book is about a squirrel, Miss Suzy, who lives happily at the tippy top of a tree, until a group of red squirrels evict her. She goes into an open attic window and spends the winter with some new found friends. But by the spring, she wants to be in her old home. New found friends to the rescue. A totally delightful story.



5. Nancy Drew and the Crooked Bannister - A nice thick, complete story featuring the teenage sleuth and her friends Bess and George. The story has such enticing elements as, a mad scientist, a family squabble, a robot. Trust me, you'll enjoy, and very easy to find on Ebay for about $5.


6. The Bobbsey Twins and the Playhouse Secret - This is the original series of Bobbsey Twins when they offered a full exciting story before the Twins became an easy reader series. Read this story in the last weeks of January, with some nice hot chocolate on the side. The story in a nutshell: the Bobbsey parents have to leave home to take care of a family member who is very sick in another state. Slightly deaf, Aunt Sally, a family friend comes to take care of the kids. At the same time, a shady antiques dealer comes to town and starts to scam people, hiding the toys in a playhouse that the Twins find by accident. Elements of this story include, being snowed in, a Valentine's Day Party, a Sleuth Club, and capture of the scammers. Very easy to get on Ebay at very reasonable prices.


7. A Christmas Carol - You've seen the movie a dozen different times, with a dozen different casts. Even with different spins on it, but nothing compares to the original. "Marley was as dead as a door nail, of this we must be perfectly clear." A history lesson, for this story portrays life of 1843 England exactly the way it was. I have read that it Dickens wrote this book after having a dream, within two weeks. Elements in this story are generosity, renewal of ones humanity, ghosts, and how one's life touches those around them, even people they don't know.

7 Quick Takes: Childhood Obesity



U.S. Obesity Rate Rising. Nearly four out of 10 adults in the USA will be obese within five years if people keep packing on pounds at the current rate ...

In the last 30 years the number of children who are overweight has tripled to 15%. When you add the overweight and obese statistics together, the problem becomes crystal clear. One-third of the nation's children are carrying too much weight.


Why has obesity become such a problem in the US? Blame has been pointed at things like a more sedentary life-style, too many computer games and tv watching, fast food, and just generally over eating.




1. Have our children become more sedentary? The answer is yes, the reason many faceted. "Pick up" games, that is games like baseball, basketball and soccer, that would be played informally in a neighborhood are almost non-existent. The reason is simple, with so many households now having all adults working, children are told to come straight home from school and into the home. A drive through most neighborhoods between the hours of 3pm to 6pm will show streets devoid of children.

Has the world become more filled with child predators these days, or is there just better coverage? Statistics seem to say that a child is more likely to be hurt by someone they already know, for example Sandra Cantu was murdered by Melissa Huckaby, the mother of a little girl she played with. Caylee Anthony allegedly murdered by her mother Casey.
And yet for every Casey Anthony and Melissa Huchaby, there is a Phil Garrido (who allegedly kidnapped 11 year old Jaycee Duggard and kept her as a sex slave for 18 years) and John Couey who kidnapped and buried alive Jessica Marie Lunsford. The Duggard kidnapping was a matter of random opportunity, the Lunsford kidnapping was by an unknown neighbor who pinpointed his victim, and then made the opportunity.


Then there was the case of Somer Thompson who was kidnapped while walking home from school. No wonder parents aren't willing to have their kids playing outside when they aren't home.


After school programs are available, but often they are too expensive to be utilized. Or the hours they are offered leave a gap of time from when the program ends until the time the parent can pick up the child from school.


Some possible solutions for the stay at home child is the Wii Fitness programs that are a lot of fun, keep the child active and are not very expensive. Check Ebay and Amazon for some great deals. If you have a basement, having the child skip rope for a few minutes at a time gives exercise, as does climbing the stairs. Exercise inside the home is possible, you just have to be creative.




2. Convenience Foods - Let's face it, we're in a rat race like no other time in memorable history. We have more chores to do than hours in the day, and bringing home a fast food meal takes the pressure off of the age old question "what's for dinner?" It is also calorie rich, nutrition weak and a super blow to the family budget.



3. Convenience snacks - When our kids want a snack, the easiest thing to do is give them a snack sized bag of chips, a cereal bar, an ice cream treat, or cookies. Instant gratification, no work, nice and sweet. Also little nutrition, lots of calories and not too nice to the budget.




4. Convenience Dinner Prep foods - who doesn't have a few cans of cream soup, a box of Hamburger Helper, Minute Rice and other throw it together quick dinner foods in their pantry? But a quick look at the label shows a ton of fat, little nutrition, lots of salt, and even in some cases, corn syrup. About the only thing you can say for these foods are they don't really assault the budget that badly.



5. Loneliness - Often children at home after school while their parents are still at work get a feeling of loneliness. As with adults, children will seek out comfort food. Often a few calls throughout the time they are home alone, can help to alleviate this loneliness. You probably already have your child calling you when he gets home. Try calling at the halfway point, and then again when you are leaving work. Do not only call when you need the child to do a chore around the house.


6. Drinks - Most the world doesn't have enough water, but in the USA water is the least favorite of drinks. Sometimes it's the chlorine in the district water, other times, it's just because the American pallet is accustomed to the sweetness of soda/pop or juice. Make sure your child has enough milk to drink. Try to reduce soda/pop drinking to a minimum or only a treat a few times a week. For juice, realize that drinking juice is not the same as eating fruit. Try gradually diluting the juice so that it is not as calorie and sugar loaded.


7. School lunches - are getting better. But to be sure of your child's calorie intake, and for quality control, it's better to send your child to school with a lunch and snack that you provide. Pita bread stuffed with lettuce and leftover chicken with a bit of mayonnaise, or better, salad dressing. Fruit. Cheese. Yogurt. All great choices.



For more Quick Takes Conversiondiary.com

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Are we afraid to say no?

I think it all started with the bread winner in the family. He was asked to stay a little later, come in a little earlier or give up a few hours of his day off. And because he was the breadwinner, he was nervous to say no, besides, it was a chance to make a few more bucks for the family, and who couldn't use that? It was the responsible thing to do.

Then it was the mother in the family. She was asked to bake cookies for the class party, and bring brownies for the PTO cake sale. Could she sell gift wrap to help support the Boy Scout troop, and this was her territory for selling Girl Scout Cookies. It was for her kids school, and her kids community after all, so how could she say no?

And our town park needed to get rid of those dangerous and outdated monkey bars, and wouldn't it be nice to have that pre-school play area, the one with the musical bridge, you know, just like the one they have at the playground at the next town over from us? And the baseball field is just atrocious! It needs to be ripped out, turned over and reseeded. It makes me ashamed to have any of the other teams playing on our diamond. And since it was for the community, who could say no?

Then the ranch across the street got an addition that changed it from a one story into a two story. The house next door got all new landscaping, and the house a few doors down got all it's concrete work changed into brick. And our little house looked so.... shabby compared to the other houses, so we took out a second mortgage and spruced the place up. It was the right thing to do.

Then Sharon's teeth came in crooked. They weren't detrimental to her, but no one's kids have crooked teeth anymore. So even though our dental insurance didn't pay for any of the orthodontia work, we had the work done anyway. We just put it on the credit card. Ouch! But it had to be done.

Mom had to take a job outside of the home for us to be able to make our bills, so the school hired someone to do all the jobs that Mom couldn't volunteer for anymore. Then the taxes had to go up to pay for the salary, for the person who gets paid to do the work Mom used to volunteer for.

Do we know how to say "no" anymore? There was the time back when I was a kid, that grownups had the prerogative to say "no", and they didn't have to explain why. They were the grownups, they said no. That was the end of it. No.

Many families didn't have a second car, a color tv, any of the game systems, a yearly vacation, gymnastic lessons, after school sports, flute lessons or braces on every one of their kids teeth. And they didn't have to try to find excuses for it. They didn't have it, that's the way it was. They just said "no."

Are we brave enough to follow their example?

No, I won't take on more hours so that I am working nearly 12 hours a day. No explanation, just no. Obviously, I don't mean not to help out when there is a crisis at work, or a down sizing. But if and when the economy ever goes back to what we used to know as normal, don't let yourself become a serf. At the very least, don't give up your Sundays.

No, I won't take on every volunteer job thrust on me until it is as if I have a full time job that takes away the quality time with the very kids that I'm supposed to be staying home with.

No, I won't be pressured into keeping up with the Joneses (neighbors statistics say I won't even know) and putting my family into financial peril by taking out a new mortgage or home equity loan.

No, I won't be pressured into cosmetic orthodontia work, cell phone plans, allowances, cars or anything else that society deems is absolutely necessary for kids nowadays and digging a financial grave for myself by trying to afford something that I can't.

No, I won't let my taxes go up, especially when most people's salaries are either stagnant or actually less than 5 years ago, because a grass sports field is no longer the style and everyone else has astro turf, because the school wants to increase it's budget, because the police want a new station, because the town wants to put in new street lights.

I don't have to tell you why I am saying no. I am the grown up, and I say no.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Punch Dub, C'mon really?

Do you remember the "punch buggy" game? I think everyone must have played it at least once. The way to play the game, in case you don't know, is to spy a Volks Wagon Beetle , and lightly punch the arm of the person next to you while saying the color of the car and "Punch buggy blue." Or green, or red, or black or white.

But from what I understand, the Beetle is not manufacturing anymore Beetles. So now Volks Wagon has developed it's own game for the masses to play called "Punch Dub", and since that hasn't caught on, the game is to see a Volks Wagon and while calling out the color, punch the person next to you as hard as you can.

"Blue one!" WHAM!

"Ow!!! Where?"

I don't see this game being appreciated by parents anywhere. We're too busy trying to teach our exuberant offspring to keep their hands to themselves.

I do see this game being used to even the score with someone. As in:

"Blue one!" WHAM!!!!!!

"Owwww! Where?"

"Right there."

"Where? I don't see a car anywhere…"

"It went zooming by…honest."

"Billy, we're in the middle of the lake, you didn't see any car go by from here. You just wanted to get back at me for telling Mom you came home after 11 last night."

C'mon Volks Wagon, you're trying too hard.

Monday, May 17, 2010

What makes my Monday




As you may recall from a past blog, Mondays are NOT my day of choice. In my opinion there is a reason for songs like "Rainy Days and Mondays", always get me down. You'll notice, the song doesn't say "rainy days and Tuesdays get me down." No, of course not! Because a rainy day and Tuesday would be perfectly fine. By Tuesday, you're used to the idea that the weekend is over. In fact, rain days and any other day of the week would be fine.






Except the weekend. Rainy weekends aren't fun, but on the flip side, they aren't enough to get you down. That's left for Monday to do.











That's Jack peering into my tiny kitchen to see if it is safe to come in. It's Monday after all, and all bets are off!!




So what makes my Monday? Cats! I love my cats. We look at each other every Monday morning and my black cat Jack will yawn and stretch and look at me like "So you're here too?" Jack doesn't like Mondays any more than I do, and that is kind of comforting.















And pansies make my Monday because they have a cat face. Every Monday while I'm at the mailbox now that it is more springlike out, I see my pansies. They look out at the Monday world as if to say, "Tuesday's coming!"



Jack at his debonair best, taken on a non-Monday day.

Friday, May 14, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday: Frugal Car Trips



Tell me you don't recognize this scenario: You, your husband and three of your children got into your car to go to an appointment. It should have taken you about an hour to get there, may-be about a half hour wait before you got to see the doctor, dentist or who-ever, and then an hour home. You should have been home well before dinner time, so you made no preparations for otherwise.
But the directions to the place weren't as clear as you thought they were. Or there was a detour. For whatever reason, your hour trip became an hour and a half and because of this, you missed your scheduled appointment. After waiting almost an hour, you finally are seen. On the ride back home, there is an accident. Or road work. You're stuck in traffic, and everyone is hungry. Or thirsty. And the diabetic in the car really should have a shot of protein.
You know that if you stop for a burger for one kid, you will buy for everyone, after all, it's been a long day, and it doesn't seem it will be ending anytime soon.
You shudder to think of what this trip will do to your budget, but it can't be helped. Or could it have been?
There is no more sure way to see your money dissipate than to stop at a fast food joint or a gas station mini-mart. The first danger of course is your hunger, thirst or both. The second danger is how attractively packaged the food is, and how quickly you can get your hands on it. The answer is to bring it yourself.
I heard a groan. Was that you? C'mon, fess up. It was you wasn't it? Because you were remembering the smooshed peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches, stinky tuna and warm Yoohoo! from when you were a kid.
Well, you're all grown up now. You are in charge, and with a little preparation, you can both save money and pack a nice roadtrip snack. I am writing for a roadtrip that will last an afternoon, so approximately 4 to 6 hours.
1st: who are you packing for? Yourself? Two people? A whole tribe, more than 4 people? Toddlers? Anyone with a medical condition? These are all important questions and will determine how and what you pack.
2: The amount of people you need to pack for will determine the size of the container you will need. For one or two people, a soft-sided, personal cooler would probably be large enough. For up to six people, a zippered, insulated cooler that you can get inexpensively from stores like WalMart will probably suffice. For a bigger crowd, a large Coleman cooler that fits into the hatchback will be your choice, or, if your kids have their own insulated lunchbags from school, you could use these, with extra food in a large insulated bag. I really can't emphasize enough how important it is to have these insulated bags to prevent food getting warm and possible food poisoning. They are really worth the investment.
3: You can buy cooler packs that you put in the freezer the night before. Supplement this with juice boxes that you freeze the night before, or better, bottles of water. Make sure you have enough cooling power!
4: The actual food. Take into consideration the dietetic needs of your riders and specific likes. For example, for my diabetic husband, I will pack a few hard boiled eggs and a little packet of salt we got at a previous stop at a fast food place. He needs the high protein, low carb count of eggs. However, someone in our family absolutely despises eggs; the mere wiff of one can start this person vomiting, so I'll have to pack something different for this person.
Some foods to consider packing: hard boiled eggs; fresh fruit like apples, pears, bananas ;small citrus like clementines and tangerines; crackers with a ziplock of peanut butter or cream cheese; small bagels spread with butter, cream cheese or peanut butter; washed, peeled and chopped into sticks carrots, celery, peppers, broccoli and cauliflower with a small container of salad dressing for dip.
5: Drinks. Bottled anything can be expensive, not as expensive as buying the same drink at a fast food or convenience store, but still expensive. We keep bottled drinks to a minimum. If we are using our big Coleman cooler, then we fill some Rubbermaid/Tupperware drink containers with icetea, lemonade and even a fruit punch. Depending on how long your trip will be, you could buy bulk bottled drinks at a warehouse store and cool them in your refrigerator the night before. You might consider buying steel bottles for family members, and refilling from a larger bottle as needed. You might argue, why not reuse plastic bottles that beverages have already come in? It certainly would be cheaper, but so much evidence is coming out that unhealthy chemicals leach from plastic that you may want to start phasing out your plastic water bottles. (For more info on this you might want to check out these websites:http://healthychild.org/5steps/5_steps_5/ , http://environment.about.com/od/healthenvironment/a/plastic_bottles.htm )




6: Prepackaged food. Even if you buy all prepackaged food at the supermarket or warehouse store, you will still pay significantly less money than if you bought it at the convenience store or mini-mart. This is one option. Another option is to buy large bags of chips, pretzels and popcorn and re-package them into ziplock bags or small food containers (margarine tubs, Rubbermaid, Tupperware). You might also consider buying cereal bars or dried fruit rolls. Again, buy large quantity boxes, bags or canisters and repackage nuts, caramel popcorn, dried fruit, granola.
7: Items that prevent the ick factor: your small bottles of water can be used with napkins to wash off sticky hands. So can a container of baby wipes. Other "ick factors" can be an upset stomach, so remember to include things like Tums, Pepto and Gas Ex, just in case.
All these things can be bought ahead, and stored in the home. A few cooler packs and/or bottles of water kept in the freezer don't take up so much room that they are detrimental. A little thinking and preparing ahead can save you a ton of money!
For more quick takes : Conversiondiary.com

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I Am Ozzy



Black Sabbath was only starting to become popular when I was in High School. Twelve years later, the group was hitting it's zenith and became one of the topics that my younger brother and I could talk and bond about. Or disagree about. So when it came to my attention that Ozzy had written an autobiography, I thought hmmmm.....
My brother had died soon after graduating high school and despite Oz's outward appearance, and the not-so-hot press generated about him during MTV's "The Osbourne's" show, I always look at Ozzy with a certain nostalgia and fondness.
But I'm not a fool either. I know there usually isn't smoke without some fire. I saw Ozzy's book in the book store and was pleased to see that on the dedication page Black Sabbath's former guitarist Randy Rhoads was featured prominently. Point for Ozzy. But about five pages in was the first curse word. Then was the disclaimer that starts with " Other people's memories of the stuff in this book might not be the same as ..... " and then goes to list the different substances that Ozzy has used over the past 40 years.
This book could have been titled "Drugs, and more drugs, Sex and more sex, and Rock and Roll." Not really what I wanted to learn about Ozzy.
On the other hand, Ozzy is quite candid, more candid I dare say than most people would ever be. For instance, Ozzy is quite open about his being an absentee Dad to the two children of his first marriage and how his substance abuse scared the life out of the three children of his second marriage. He's open about his infidelity to his first wife, and surprisingly to his second wife Sharon. Now that is brave. And very hard to understand since the book clearly expresses how much he adores Sharon (his second wife) and how she really saved Ozzy's life by her refusing to accept his substance abuse.
He's also very candid about the excesses , substance and sexual, excesses of members of metal bands he toured with. Ick!, with a capital I. Too much information......
I really can't recommend this book. There is so much in it, that although truthful and presented totally unvarnished, I don't want to know about. Let me have my illusions. I would have enjoyed more writing about the family, his grandchildren (he has 4), and more about Sharon's fight with cancer and her setting up a foundation to fight it.
But that is unrealistic, I know. when you hear the name Ozzy, you think of Black Sabbath, and Drugs and Sex and Rock and Roll. In that case, this book delivers.

Monday, May 10, 2010

What makes my Mondays





I have to admit that Monday is not one of my favorite days of the week. May-be it is because it follows Saturday and Sunday, the best days of the week.

It isn't hard to notice a difference. Saturday and Sunday, days of freedom from responsibility, well at least heavy duty responsibility. Saturday and Sunday you can get up later, Saturday you can stay up until midnight if you wanted to.

So after thinking hard, I've come up with two great things about Monday.

1. Getting up on schedule on Monday mornings means that my husband still has the job that is supporting this family.

2. Monday evening means that there is only one more day until hump day, aka Wednesday, the week is half over and we're almost to Friday eve, the start of Saturday and Sunday.

Hey, at least I tried!
Twinfatuations - for more Monday Makers! or http://twinfatuation.blogspot.com

Friday, May 7, 2010

100 Things I've learned the hard way #21 - #32

More pearls of wisdom:

21. Buy the cooking oil while you are at the supermarket. Guaranteed, the bottle at home will not have enough oil in it to reach the little line inside your deep fryer.

22. No matter how frugal you want to be by saving money on vacuum bags, don't buy the bagless vacuum. They don't suck, as in, they don't work very well if you have pets especially.

23. There is no shame in having a small shop vac as your household vacuum. It's the only thing that won't clog sucking up great tufts of Labrador fur.

24. You can not put a price on a good dog, they are indispensable. Louis is gentle with the littles, actually whimpers along with the upset/crying, cuddles with me when I'm newly out of the hospital and weak as water, is a one dog welcome wagon for children returning home for the weekend and growls, snarls and acts like he will take the door down when there is a stranger at the door. Priceless.

25. Houses are the most reasonably priced where it is the hardest to obtain a job

26. Teenagers know everything. Twenty year olds aren't teenagers and they aren't adults, so they still know everything, but they're not 100% sure about it.

27. Cats, children and dogs don't perform on command.

28. When your daughter is a teenager, it is inevitable that you are going to say, do or wear something that will embarrass her.

29. When your son is a teenager, you will age at least 10 years in his estimation, and although you embarrass him, he'll kind of grit and bare it.

30. When a sibling turns 30, the younger kids will all think he is ancient, but so will the teens and the one's in their early twenties.

31. Your mom will give you unsolicited child rearing advice, even when you're in your 40's and it's with your sixth child.

32. You will give your mom unsolicited advice about her caring for her great grandchild, even when she is in her 70's, is the mother of 5, the grandmother of 13, and the great grandmother of 7.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Second Chance

I blogged a few days ago about the new Debbie Macomber contest for 'A Second Chance.' Have you looked up the rules for it? Are you going to enter? My husband asked me if I was going to enter and I said 'no.'
"Why not?"
"I don't know." I replied. "What would I want a second chance about?" Truly, I married my husband months after I graduated high school. I'm still happily married, so it's not like I think wistfully about a high school love and want a second chance.
We didn't put off having our children, so I'm not second guessing myself on that either.
I've never seen the wisdom of looking back in hindsight and wishing that you had taken the other path. The past is the past. Opportunities that existed, don't exist anymore. What's the sense of pining about it.
I guess the only thing that I wish I had a do over for is that I wish that I would have had a colonoscopy when I was in my early 40's, and then nothing might have been found anyway, and I wouldn't have had a colonoscopy that picked up the cancer in time anyway. So may-be that isn't much of a second chance anyway.
Well, how about you? Do you wish you'd married your high school sweetheart? Do you wish you had taken that class that you passed up? Would you have started college? Tried cake decorating?
I'd like to hear from you!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Offer it up, again

Do I really need more things to offer up? Apparently so. Because the internet was acting a bit dodgy, I decided to write my blog on my computer Word Processor , and then copy it onto the blogger site.

And, the post disappeared.

So I tried it again, and it wouldn't work, wouldn't work, and then finally when the moon aligned with some star, it did.

So one blog, written twice.

Is it Blogger that is acting up, or is it this computer?

I don't know, but one thing is for certain: Offer It Up!

And the spell right isn't working.

Offer it up!

An Irish Country Girl

I love to read, and there is no book that I anticipate more than a book from the "An Irish Country ......" series. I've read "An Irish Country Doctor," "An Irish Country Village," and "An Irish Country Christmas," so that when "An Irish Country Girl" was published I could hardly wait to read it.
The Irish country girl in this story is Kinky Kincaid while she was the young Maureen O'Hanlon, living in County Cork on the family farm with her parents and siblings. If you have ever wondered what it was like to live in Ireland in the 20th century, up until the mid 1960's, this book will tell you. History, without being bored by it.
It's also a ghost story, an Irish ghost story, and that's the difference. The story begins with Maureen's sister Fidemla being in love with Connor, who made the mistake of cutting down a Blackthorn Tree on November 11th for firewood instead of borrowing some peat for his fire from the O'Hanlons. What is the significance of a Blackthorne Tree and November 11th? Not going to tell you! You are going to have to read the story to find out!
The O'Hanlon family and guests hear a banshee Christmas night; Maureen sees her and so starts her ability of being fey, or having the second sight. Unfortunately, as promised by hearing the banshee, the tragedy of death follows devastating Fidelma for quite a few years and troubling Maureen also.
Despite the sadness, this book isn't all sadness. It is nostalgic also. I don't want to say another word about this story, I just want to encourage you to read it, with two warnings: the first is that when you are done reading this book, you'll be sad that there aren't another 100 pages to it. The second warning is that after you are done with this book, you'll be yearning to find the other "Irish Country Books" by Patrick Taylor.
One word of advice: indulge!






Saturday, May 1, 2010

Infidelity

"When I found out that he had cheated on me, I felt sick. Then, something about the way he said it made me think, 'wait, I don't think this was the only time.' So I found my voice, and I kind of whispered as I asked him. And this wasn't the first time. Then I remembered what we'd learned in school, that when you make love to someone, you also make love to everyone that they've made love to before you, and you make love to everyone that each sex partner had had sex with too and I really felt sick. So now I'm going to my Doctor for tests that I never thought I'd have to take. I am so shamed and embarrassed."

"I won't date any guy who is only separated from his wife or is almost divorced because it always ends up being a lie. They're happily married, though if the wife knew what her dick of a husband was doing, she wouldn't be. Happy? She wouldn't be happily married. And where does that leave me? Once a cheater, always a cheater. A tiger doesn't change his stripes, ya know?"

"I Google every guy I meet. I have a blackberry, so I can do it from the Ladies room and they don't have any idea. That's how I decide on how the night is going to ...progress."

"If I ever found out that he was cheating on me, I'd KILL him. Not a court in the world would convict me."

"When he goes on business trips, I make him give me the Viagra before he goes."

"If he cheated on me, that would be the end. Right there, finished."

I've seen a lot of movies where a spouse cheats, and then despite all odds, they find their way back together and they live happily ever after. The divorce proceeding stop, dad moves back into the house, the kids are thrilled.

As they say, that's Hollywood. What I've seen in real life is just the opposite. If the infidelity doesn't kill the marriage immediately, the union limps along for a few years with no one looking happy and then dies.

A friend told me that she felt the infidelity was actually worse than if her husband had died because even though both scenarios would have ended with her alone and a single mother, she still had a living husband. That if she had been widowed, people would have given her sympathy and understood her grieving for however long it took. But with a divorce, there is no body. There is no funeral, there is no grieving. There is just the expectation that everything is divided in half (it isn't) and both parties snap into a new normal life and get on with it.

Speaking for my own marriage, I know that I could max out the credit card, use the household bill money to go on a shopping spree, total the car, do almost any awful thing, and Nate would forgive me. But one infidelity, and the marriage would be over. And I'd have to say the same goes for how I feel.

Sociable

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