Monday, December 29, 2008

Time Flies



Is it really just a few days from 2009? How on Earth does that happen? It's true what they say...the older one gets, the faster it goes.

Wow!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Is It Just Me...

or is this grammatical error really annoying?



A free hash browns?


I'm not quite sure how to correct it though. How about these possibilities:

Get free hash browns... (maybe implies an unlimited amount)
Get a free hash brown...(can hash browns be singular?)
Get a free order/side of hash browns...(the best option in my book)

The more I type this, the more I realize "hash browns" is a really weird name...

I need to quit obsessing about corporate grammar and get back to work!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

An Open Letter to Mr. Sign Spinner



Dear Mr. Sign Spinner,

After many months of observation and careful consideration, I have decided to write to you. You see, I admire your work ethic, your energy, and your motivation. The economy stinks, and so many people are out of work. I know you probably consider yourself fortunate to have a job that allows you to pay for that college tuition or perhaps just earn some extra beer money for Friday night.

I see you there, standing on the street corner, in 100 degree Phoenix weather. I admire your stamina and endurance. You are the marathon runner of the advertising world. I marvel at your energy, and especially at your ability to grab a swig of Gatorade while maintaining your sign's constant motion. Amazing!

The profession of sign spinning has apparently evolved over the past five years. Back in the early years of the 21st century, your predecessors would stand in their assigned locations and hold their signs. The arrows would always point toward the business/service/apartment complex being advertised. Sign spinners, circa 2002, might occasionally dig deep and find a little burst of enthusiasm that enabled the rocking back and forth of their signs. Look out!

Nowadays, your job description apparently includes something along the lines of the following:

Must possess demonstrated ability to spin, flip, toss, and catch advertising paraphernalia and keep said material in a constant state of motion. Candidate must be able to ensure passersby remain completely ignorant as to the exact location of sponsor's business. The ideal candidate has the ability to meet a minimum spins-per-second (SPS) ratio so as to prevent the actual reading of sign in hand.

Mr. Sign Spinner, I really admire your flair for the job. Don't get me wrong, it is not my intention to denigrate your position in any way. You seem like a nice and certainly hard-working kid. Kudos to you for taking an honest day's work rather than choosing to deal drugs. I just have to ask that you please, please consider the possibility that I might actually want to read the sign you are flipping, tossing, spinning, and rolling across your back and weaving between your legs! Heck, if I get a chance to read it perhaps I might then want to know in which direction your employer's business is located!

The JC Penney Outlet Store is closing? All items are 40-70% off? Really? Where??!! I might not be from this part of town and know where the Outlet is, so if you're advertising a great deal on something I need...you just lost a potential customer. You see, I couldn't read your sign, nor could I tell which way it was supposed to be pointing.

Oh well...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Finally!



For the first time in at least five years...ten bucks' worth of gas is actually enough to get me through the week! Woo hoo!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I Laughed So Hard, I Cried!

I have a new, absolute favorite blog! I stumbled across this site, thanks to a post on Domestically Disabled Girl's blog. I was belly-laughing so hard my husband thought I'd lost my mind. I had tears streaming down my face. Oh my gosh, I needed that kind of laughter tonight!

Enjoy!

http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Don't Get It!

  • Open-toed boots...what's the point?
  • People who can't pick their dog's mess up off my front yard...did you not SEE him squatting while you stood there? Can I give you a baggie next time? Knock on my door...please!
  • Parents who swear they want to keep their kids innocent as long as possible, then hire DJs for their daughter's 13th birthday and think it's "cute" when she and 30 of her adolescent friends all sing, er, scream along to the lyrics, "I kissed a girl and I liked it..."
  • Showing an explicit trailer for a very scary horror movie immediately in front of a feature film geared toward 'tween girls...seriously, what are they thinking?
  • Excommunicating one church member for putting together a very innocent "beefcake" calendar, but practically mandating your congregation support the books and films of another member who writes about friggin' vampires...as heroes??!!
  • Fruitcake...'nuf said!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Help Me Choose, Win Jewelry!

Seriously folks, I know my last post bordered on pathetic. Poor me, trying to figure out where to take a dream vacation, right?

I need help, and I'm willing to resort to bribery in order to solicit as much input as possible. There's a genius idea out there somewhere, I just know it! In the spirit of fun (and bribery, of course) I'm hosting a giveaway...free jewelry!

This giveaway will consist of two parts: a randomly chosen winner, and a winner based on my final destination selection. So, leave me a comment with your suggestion or dream vacation idea/experience. I will use random.org to select a winner from all comments submitted. Then, once I make a final choice as to where I will be going, I will award a second prize to whomever suggested that destination. In the event that more than one person makes the winning suggestion, the individual who posted their comment first gets the prize.
***Earn yourself a bonus entry if you post a link from your blog to this contest!***

Now, what is the prize, you ask?

Brand new Cookie Lee jewelry! The winners will each receive a beautiful necklace from Cookie Lee, with many to choose from. (Full disclosure, I am a CL consultant)

In order to keep your suggestion within the realm of what I'm looking for, here are some things to know:


  • I want to go somewhere I will most likely never have a chance or reason to go with my family. So, forget Hawaii, Alaska, Canada and most of Mexico...I hope to take my own family there someday.


  • I want to go somewhere that will not be overrun with crazy high school and college grads on all-you-can-drink party trips.


  • I'd like to limit my travel time from Phoenix to my final destination to under 24 hours...this is the trip of a lifetime, and I don't want to spend 3 out of 7 days of it in airports or on planes.


  • I am open to almost any kind of destination. I do better in third world conditions than in ultra-high-end/super-all-inclusive resorts. If I go somewhere like Jamaica I'd be more likely to end up trawling the local markets than sitting on a private beach with an umbrella in my drink...that's just the kind of girl I am.


  • I enjoy hiking and exploring, but I'm no triathlete and I am turning forty, after all. Forty and a little out of shape. Ok, a lot out of shape.


So, where should I go?

Where in the World?


I have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity before me, and it's making me crazy!

Let me backtrack a bit... I have a wonderful friend who has been an amazing part of my life for almost a quarter-century. Her friendship has seen me through so many ups and downs over the years. We supported each other through several painful relationships and subsequent breakups, and always manage to pick up right where we leave off, despite the fact that we have not lived in the same time zone for 15 years. She is, plain and simple, a great friend.

She has also found substantial success in her professional life. In the past 7 years, she has nailed a regular TV show, two book deals, and her own cosmetics line. Life has been good to this hard-working girl, and I am thrilled for her and her success!

Well, I have a big birthday coming up in less than 6 months. Yup, I'm turning forty in May. How the hell that snuck up on me, I'll never know. My dear friend recently called to remind me that the big day is hanging over my head, and to ask me what I had planned. I figured “fixing myself a hemlock cocktail” was a bit on the melodramatic side, so I just admitted I had nothing planned yet. She took the opportunity to declare that she wanted to treat me to a Girls’ Trip for my birthday…anywhere I want to go, anything I want to do.

“Ok, let’s go pet penguins in Patagonia!” I shot back.

She said we could do that.

Or we could climb Kilimanjaro…

Cruise the Nile…

Take the train from Dakar to Bamako and hire Tuareg guides to escort us to Timbuktu…

Drink rum on a beach in the Caribbean until we turn purple…

She literally meant anywhere and anything…her treat!

This is an incredibly generous offer, the kind of opportunity that I would have killed for in the past. Now, however, it presents a whole bunch of challenges.

First…I’m a mom with three kids. I have a wonderful husband who has always supported anything I wanted to do. I know he will do whatever he can to make this trip possible for me. He’ll make sure the kids are well cared-for. He’ll drive me to the airport. He’ll even double check my packing to make sure I don’t forget my toothbrush or socks. Still, I have to consider the fact that there are now a bunch of little people counting on me to come back, safe and sound. That kind of limits where I can go and what I can do. So, for as much as I would LOVE to head to Rwanda and climb the Virungas to Dian Fossey’s Mountain Gorilla Research Center, it’s probably not prudent when one considers the current state of instability in neighboring Congo. Conflict in that part of the world has a tendency to spill across borders.

Second…I have major guilt at my inability to reciprocate. This is a big one for me. I have spent the past week trying to remind myself that there was a time when I sent this same girlfriend Trader Joe’s care packages filled with boxed soups, peanut butter, pasta, and other staples so she wouldn’t starve while struggling to make it in NYC in the early days of her career. I know, because she’s told me repeatedly, that she wants to do stuff like this…that it’s not a big deal because the nature of her business means she’s accumulated more airline miles and AMEX points than she’ll ever be able to use on her own. My own perspective, after ten years of paycheck-to-paycheck school teaching, makes it hard to wrap my brain around this kind of lifestyle. It baffles me!

Finally…there are too many choices! Literally, there’s a whole world of possibilities out there!

I want to do something I’d never have the chance to do again.

I want to go somewhere I’m not likely to go with my family “someday”…so no Hawaii or Mexico.

I want to go somewhere that won’t require 24+ hours just to get there…if this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip I want it to start ASAP!

Poor me…what a tough choice!

Any suggestions?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Not Such Good Odds

What are your chances of surviving a bear attack?

Given all the bears I've been running into recently, I figured I had better be aware of my odds of survival if I'm NOT in my car the next time. Looks like I'd better sign up for some wrestling lessons mighty quick!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Go Fast, Good Cop, Dead Cow Road

I guess it was bound to happen...

Despite the fact that I racked up a fair number of parking tickets in college (my classes were soooooo far), I have not been cited for a moving violation in over 20 years. That is, until last Thursday.

My new job entails more highway driving than I've done in quite a while. Arizona is a big state with lots of lonely roads. I'd had a 32 ounce McDonalds Vanilla Iced Coffee that morning. It was only 3 more miles to the next restroom.

Then I saw one of these:


The speed limit was 55.

I was clocked doing 76.

That was after slowing down because I spotted Mr. Officer's black SUV lurking in the brush up ahead of me.

I guess my 1996 Maxima has some guts after all! I also guess my foot is a little heavier than I thought.

Fortunately my almost-arresting officer (21+ mph over the speed limit can be a criminal offense...who knew!) had mercy on me and my tiny bladder and only kept me on the side of the road for about 45 minutes while checking my ID against state and federal wanted lists, INTERPOL, and Intergalactic Law Enforcement. I drove away (slowly, of course) with a big, fat speeding ticket and a stern warning about the dangers of exceeding the speed limit on AZ Highway 238, AKA "Dead Cow Road".

Huh??!!

Yes, Mobile Road is fondly referred to as Dead Cow Road by the locals because of the large number of bovine fatalities alongside the highway following sparring matches with moving vehicles.

Nice.

Add that to my list of interesting Arizona place names.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Congratulations, Mr. President



I am so proud to be an American tonight! Finally, we as a nation are living up to the promise of our great Declaration of Independence.

No matter your politics, no matter your opinions about this man's stance on specific moral issues, social issues, financial issues, or whatever, I hope you at least take a moment to give thanks for the privilege of witnessing this historic event in our lifetime.

Perhaps the best part of tonight is having my children ask why this was such a big deal. After all, in their minds, it just seems to make perfect sense that a person of color could be elected President of the United States. In their words, "Why not?"

I love that we are finally at this point.

Halfway There!

Actually, MORE than half way now. Barack Obama currently has a projected 174 of the necessary 270 electoral votes to clinch the Presidency.

Oh, happy day!

Do It!



Have you voted yet?

I went to my neighborhood polling location early this morning. Despite the predicted crowds and long lines, I really wanted to vote in person. No matter how you look at it, today is an historic day. I guess I wanted to relish the full experience of participating in history's unfolding.

There was a line, but the wait was not unpleasant. Spirits were high, and everyone in line seemed upbeat and excited to be there. People were patient and courteous.

It was awesome, looking around and seeing the experience:

The elderly Vietnamese immigrant couple behind me...
The young woman in her camouflage Army uniform...
The large number of people of color (in a precinct that is predominantly caucasian)...
The white-haired women with their smart shoes and bags...
The men and women in their work clothes (scrubs, suits, McDonalds uniforms, etc.)...

It made me so damn proud to be American!

So, again, have you voted? Red or blue, left or right, elephant or donkey, make the most of your right to be heard.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Halloween!









A few days late, but here are some highlights from around our home. Hubby went all out decorating, obviously. Gotta love the "Death Star" pumpkin he carved! Hope your Halloween was safe and enjoyable. Friends who are signed up can check out my kiddos on our other blog here.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Will He Be Scarred For Life?

Now that my almost-13-month-old son has eight (8??!!) teeth, we are trying to get him used to the idea that brushing them will be a lifelong responsibility and a good habit. We decided it would be best to give him his own toothbrush to play with. (Sorry Jen, dangling participle there...) This way, it would be "fun" instead of "scary". He's in control. He loves it!

There's just one problem...

I didn't plan ahead and have an appropriate new toothbrush ready to go when those first little toothies came through. I did, however, have a brand new, never used one like this:

Yes, my son is now attached to, and loving, his very own pink Strawberry Shortcake toothbrush! He stands in the bathroom each morning and copies Mom and Dad. He diligently "brushes" alongside the two of us. Then Mom follows up with some real brushing to make sure his chompers are clean.

It's been a much simpler introduction to dental hygiene than we had with my daughters. I guess the fact that we put Little Man in charge, instead of coming at him with an unfamiliar foreign object, made a difference.

Still, my husband is a little worried about the precedent we've set by starting him out with Strawberry Shortcake. Will he be scarred for life?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Just For Fun

Here's my sweet baby boy, enjoying what passes for "Fall weather" in Phoenix...temps in the high 80s-low 90s. Ugh!

I just had to post this particular photo though. I am a compulsive proofreader, so every time I put this outfit on Connor, I have to pop a Benadryl to keep the hives at bay. You'll have to have an eagle eye to spot it, but ten bucks says Jen gets it within ten nanoseconds.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Today's Commute

Here's the view on my commute today. I actually left home the afternoon before a training because it's all the way up north in a tiny town called Sanders, near the AZ-NM border. It was an amazing drive, and I think I saw just about all of the different environments found in this state. I left Phoenix, in the Sonoran Desert, drove through the Tonto National Forest up over the Mogollon Rim (7,000+ ft.) and into the Painted Desert and Navajo country. Beautiful!


During my drive, it occurred to me that Arizona has some places with odd names. A few off the top of my head:

  • Tombstone

  • Big Bug Creek

  • Happy Jack

  • Bloody Basin

  • Dry Beaver Creek

  • Bumble Bee

Today I added a new one to my list... "Kitty Joe Creek". I imagine "Kitty Joe" was a person of note in early AZ, and had a creek named after her. I'd love to find out more. I think that will be my new brain exercise, to note interesting place names when I'm driving and find out the story behind them.

On another note, it seems I'm becoming a bear magnet. On my drive today, I had one of these guys run across the road less than 100 yards in front of me!


A big, beautiful midnight black bear! This gorgeous animal was in a full run, and oh my was it FAST! I had no idea bears could run like that. I actually teared up a little because I was so overcome by how amazing it was.

My husband's Hopi background holds bears in very high regard. The Bear Clan is the highest-ranking clan in their traditional culture, and his grandfather is one of the clan's elders. It is supposed to be a very good sign when a bear crosses your path. Considering this is the second time a bear has graced me with an up-close-and-personal appearance in just a few weeks, I'm feeling mighty special. This isn't Yellowstone, after all!

Monday, October 20, 2008

I Miss My Plumeria

Several weeks ago, my daughters had a "Fall Break" from school. I guess that's one upside to starting school the first week of August around here. I was able to take my three children to California for six days of non-Phoenix fun, and it was wonderful!

We spent the first part of our trip revisiting our old stomping grounds. One of the highlights of the trip for me was to see that the plumeria I'd planted outside our front door at our old house were not only still there, but were flourishing!

These were cuttings given to us by a native Hawaiian family who are very dear to us. They had sat, growing slowly and quietly, in clay pots for several years before I decided to put 'em in the ground. Of course, shortly after they were planted, we learned our home was being sold by the owner and we were going to have to move. When we decided to move to Arizona, I figured trying to relocate those plants would be their death sentence, so we left them in the ground and moved away. I cried when I said goodbye to those plants!

My worst fear was that the new owners would decide to rip them out and put in something else or remodel the house and do away with the planter altogether. I couldn't bear the thought of "my" plumeria ending up in a dumpster. So, I was thrilled to see my babies reaching for the sky. They were no longer hip-high little flowering plants...they are now pushing the envelope into full-fledged tree territory!

We had an opportunity to speak to the new owners, who were gracious enough to not only let me photograph the plumeria but to also invite us inside to see the many renovations they'd made to the house. They were wonderful. They thanked me for leaving the plumeria in the ground and said how much they appeciate the shade they give the front wall of the house, the privacy they provide the bedroom that faces the street, and the oh-so-yummy smelling blooms they produce all season long. I'm so glad they're enjoying those plumeria!

So, from my cell phone camera to this blog, here is a shot of "MY PLUMERIA":

Psssst, Joannah, let me know if you're still looking for plumeria cuttings and I'll give you the address!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Call me a Liberal, I Guess

Have you ever spent time in a Third World country? I'm not counting shopping excursions or runs for cheap prescription meds to Mexican border towns. I'm talking THIRD WORLD, as in unstable government, collapsing infrastructure, disease-riddled, population-exploding THIRD WORLD. Have you?

(And no, the Inland Empire doesn't count either.)

I ask this question because it seems that, in this politically-charged pre-election period, the concept of social programs has become a dirty word. Callers on radio talk shows dial up and rage at the thought of their hard-earned tax dollars going toward social services in this country. As a nation, we sneer at the thought of our citizens taking handouts.

I'll be honest...the stereotypical welfare recipient pisses me off too. I don't believe that anyone benefits when you get something for nothing. I believe in the value of hard work and self-sufficiency.

I also know that, when I found myself unexpectedly expecting (how's that for an oxymoron?) in my final semester of grad school and my husband was working construction with no benefits, there's no way we could have afforded that pregnancy without state aid.

I paid into "the system" every paycheck since I started flipping burgers at Carl's Jr. in the Westminster Mall at sixteen. And for a little over a year, while I carried my firstborn child, finished my Master's degree, and secured a full-time teaching job with medical benefits, I took from "the system." It's what I had to do, and I am grateful for it every day.

Now, back to my initial question regarding Third World countries...

I reflected tonight, as I sat at the dinner table with my family, on the fact that we are so blessed to live in a stable, democratic country. We live in a nation where, no matter our political differences, we still have the peaceful transfer of power every 4 or 8 years. There are so many places in this world that do not get to experience that.

I also realized that, like it or not, those very same social programs that so many Americans rail against ("I don't want to pay my hard-earned money to support some Welfare Mother!") enable us to live according to the principles we hold dear.

It's a lot easier to be "Pro-Life" when the government provides help if you're trying to finish school.

It's also a lot easier to have a peaceful, stable democracy when you don't have the kind of poverty found in Third World countries.

Don't believe me? Catch a flight from Miami to Haiti on American Airlines or Spirit Air. Seriously, it'll only take you a couple hours to plunk yourself right, smack-dab in the middle of the most dire poverty in the hemisphere. Spend fifteen minutes walking around downtown Port-au-Prince and then ask youself if you think some good, old-fashioned American-style social services might actually help that place turn the corner in the direction of stability and democracy. I bet you'd agree they might.

A population that is rioting at the cost of basic food staples poses a challenge for a democracy. A country with large numbers of unfed, unemployed, uneducated, unhoused, un-provided-for individuals is a country with large numbers of potential agitators, terrorists, and easily incited people. In Haiti, one can see how easily a bowl of beans and rice can buy the loyalty of a starving street kid. To whom would you rather that hungry teen be loyal? The government, or an exiled paramilitary leader trying to illegally overthrow the government?

The contrast between the haves and the have-nots in Haiti is extreme. The haves get education, medical care, homes, and food while the have-nots often get none of those things. Trust me...many of those haves did not get their advantages through hard work and perseverance. They were just lucky to be born to the "right" father or mother. They are as guilty of not lifting a finger as any welfare recipient in the U.S.

I guess this post is just my long-winded (and heavily hyphenated) way of saying this:

I believe the money we pay for social services in the United States is the price we pay for a stable democracy...that's a price I'm glad to pay.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Feelin' Fall

At this moment, my air conditioning just kicked on...

How ironic, considering I was just about to blog on the topic of my favorite season. I have always adored autumn.

I love the cooler days and chilly evenings. I look forward to unpacking all my best, coziest sweaters. I love sweaters!

I get excited thinking about Halloween and Thanksgiving, my two favorite holidays. I am a candy fiend, and I love to eat, so those being my favorite holidays shouldn't surprise anyone, I suppose.

After moving to Arizona, I came to appreciate fall for another reason: lower electricity bills!

So, my AC still turns on periodically. We're still hitting the 90s most days. At least my blog looks cool, cozy and autumn-y, right?

Monday, October 13, 2008

There They Go...

I hear you tiptoeing out the back.

That "Obama '08" sticker on the right just gave you a fierce case of the hives.

I'm still me. I love my country. I despise terrorism. I'm a believer.

I just happen to be voting for a Democrat.

Please come back once you're past it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Going Out on a Limb...

*******WARNING: POLITICAL RANT BELOW! TUNE OUT NOW IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED BY DIFFERING OPINIONS*******

I try to keep my politics to myself. I really, really do. I have such a diverse bunch of friends and acquaintances who I love and respect, even if we don't always share the same views, so I try to avoid hot-button topics that are bound to create friction.

After last night's Vice Presidential debate, however, I can't contain it. I am about to explode. I am losing my mind. All because of four little words.

Iran.

Iraq.

Tolerant.

Nuclear.

I'm not going to name names, but if you watched the debate you probably know to which candidate I'm referring. The bottom line in my book is this: If you are in a position where, within the next 100 days you may become one of the most powerful leaders in the free world, you better be careful in your use and/or pronunciation of those four words!

I'm not asking anyone to go the route of Los Angeles television news anchors and overexaggerate an accent when stating the name of a Central American immigrant whose business opening is featured on the 5:30 broadcast. I'm not saying our elected officials have to be fluent in every obscure dialect found in remote Himalayan tribal hinterlands.

I am asking that, when two countries are at the center of our current political situation, our democratically elected leaders (that means they represent you and me to the rest of the world folks!) at least make an effort to come close to the correct names of those places.

When I hear someone say "EYE-RAN" and "EYE-RACK" I get a mental image of that person, behind closed doors, referring to the residents of "EYE-RAN" and "EYE-RACK" as towel-headed camel jockeys while perusing a NASCAR catalog and watching WWF (or WWE or RAW or whatever acronym that fake-professional wrestling crap goes by this week). Ask your Iraqi and Iranian friends (you DO have at least one of those, I hope) if they agree. I think you'll find they do. It screams, "I'm 'n Amarikkkin, by golly, and thar ain't nuthin you ken say 'bout it!"

These two countries have been on our collective radar since the 1980s...that's almost 30 years, folks! We should have a pretty good idea as a nation of literate, educated people, how to say "EAR-ON" and "EAR-OCK". It's not that hard! **Both candidates were guilty of this one, people.**

These people want to represent me to the rest of the world. I don't want the rest of the world to perceive me as an ignorant redneck!

I also cringe when I hear someone say they "tolerate" those who are different from them.

Tolerate

What does that mean to you?

I "tolerate" the fact that ants mercilessly invade my kitchen every spring and fall as the weather changes because that's just a part of life where we live. I "tolerate" the ants, although I bring out the big guns and spray like hell to get rid of them as quickly as possible. I "tolerate" the inconvenience as I clean furiously and make sure there is absolutely nothing out for these nasty buggers to eat or drink, so they don't linger any longer than necessary before going away.

I don't want a leader who "tolerates" those who are different. It's clear to me that the candidate in question truly does mean "tolerate", as in "put up with temporarily while trying everything possible to eliminate/exterminate/eradicte the offending subject." I want a leader who accepts those who are different. As in, "allow to live in peace, with equal rights, and without trying to change or lay a guilt trip on."

Finally, the ultimate deal breaker for me...

NUCLEAR.

Say it with me folks...

NEW...

KLEE...

ER...

NEW-KLEE-ER!

It's friggin' nuclear, NOT "NEW-KYUH-LUR"

You can't say that word correctly, but you want to be inches away from the button that controls our nations new-klee-er arsenal?

Oh, no no NO!!!

**Edit: I just reread this and realized it comes across like I paid no attention to the actual issues discussed in last night's debate. I did pay attention. In my opinion, both candidates answered along party lines and said nothing unexpected or eye-opening. It was a pretty predictable debate overall, as far as I'm concerned.




Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I'm BAAAAAACK!

I did not drop off the face of the planet. Nobody in my family was ill or passed away (thank God!). I have not been stuck in prison in the Philippines. I just...

...didn't have anything to say!

Anyone who has spent more than five minutes with me knows the above statement is a near impossibility. I always have something to say.

We have been busy.

Work is good.

My son got his ear tubes and weathered his first cold ever that did not morph into an ear infection.

Things are moving forward.

I am exhausted tonight, so I'm keeping it short, but I will share this with you:

Check out this photo from today's morning commute.




I also saw one of these on the drive as well:


Photo by Roger N. Clark

Can't beat the scenery on the drive to work today. I love my job!

Next time I'll have to tell you all about this place...

In a word, eeeeewwww!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Day #58...weather delayed

Yesterday was a long, busy, productive day at work. I got to spend the day at a high school on the White Mountain Apache reservation in east central Arizona, up in the beautiful mountains...ahhhh! I accomplished a lot and made some great contacts at the school. The day started with an expression of disappointment that I had arrived, and not my boss, but ended with a request for ME (not my boss) to return in a couple weeks for more assistance.

As the day was drawing to a close, the clouds outside were looking pretty dark and threatening. (HUGE understatement!)

I drove 175 miles home, three-quarters of which was through what today has been described as the worst storm to pass through AZ in memory. We had hurricane strength winds of 80-100 mph! Thankfully, the most treacherous part of the drive, through the Salt River Canyon, was the one part of the drive where the storm gave me a break.

The path of yesterday's storm was the same route I had to take home, so I certainly got a workout. Thank goodness for a heavy, low-profile car. My Maxima may have almost 200,000 miles on it, but it was a ROCK on the drive! It earned itself a reprieve from the trade-in lot for the time being. It's old, it's ugly, it's got a zillion miles on it, but after yesterday I can't bear to let it go!

Driving my girls to school this morning we saw scores of trees that had been torn up by the winds last night. Many had branches torn off, and some were simply uprooted. I even saw one huge tree that had not only been ripped out by the roots, it had been flung into the middle of the road by the storm!

I am truly grateful for arriving home safely last night. I knew it was a rough drive, but only now do I realize how extreme yesterday's weather was.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Day #57

Still loving the new job!


Tomorrow is a loooooong day. I leave my house before 5AM to head up to the White Mountains for the day. It's so nice to get paid to spend some time in a place that looks more like this:





...than like this:





No, that's not my house up there, but I think that photo really captures the ugliness that is Phoenix in my mind. I'm just not desert girl at heart.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Day #56

When my daughters were both toddlers, throwing temper tantrums and making day-to-day life, er...challenging, people would tell me that things only get harder.

They were right.

Fortunately the tantrums are much fewer and farther-between, but a whole new set of challenges arose when they got older. I have two daughters, eighteen months apart, both approaching middle school age. The hormones are starting to kick up. Emotions are running high. Friends are becoming more important in the grand scheme of things. I'm getting scared.

Right now the biggest challenge for me is trying to navigate my way through the maze of girl diplomacy.

I love the friends my older daughter has chosen. This is a group of sweet, sensitive girls with great values. She spent Saturday volunteering at a local shelter, preparing meals and serving food to the homeless alongside her friend Mariah's family. There is no drama in this group of friends. All the families are so nice, and the girls get along wonderfully.

My younger daughter, however, is another story. She has some nice friends, but this group has a lot of drama going on. Again, the families are nice enough, but there are some discrepancies in values here. I'm not sure how to address this. I don't want to be the mom who tells her nine year old, "You can't play with so-and-so anymore!", but I am trying to passively discourage certain friendships. Is that bad?

I clearly see certain friendships leading to some very hurt feelings in the future. There are some mean-girls-in-training in this group, and my younger daughter tends to be more of a follower. She is already so concerned with what her friends think. As we tried to plan her birthday party, she was most concerned with when it would be convenient for her friends, and what her friends would like to do most. I kept telling her it was supposed to be her day to choose an activity that would be special to her, not a time to try and please her friends. She didn't get it.

How can I help her become more of a leader and less of a follower? How do I guide her toward friends who will lift her up, not drag her down?

Those folks who said it only gets harder weren't kidding. At least we're done with tears in the checkout line at the market when Mommy says no to candy.

Oh wait, I have an almost-toddler on my hands...

Here we go again!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Day #55...Huh?

If you ever want to feel better about yourself and what you've eaten, check out this website.

Personally, I don't get it. I realize there are some who would accuse bloggers of having "nothing better to do", but FoodFeed just makes no sense to me whatsoever!

I guess it's useful if you're having regrets about that extra brownie you had this morning. Yeah, I had brownies for breakfast. Have I mentioned I'm going to lose 25 pounds before my 100th day of blogging is up?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Day #54


There are babies in the air!

No, I am not pregnant. Following the birth of our son last fall, my husband and I made absolutely certain there would be no more. I was a little sad about that. Saying a permanent goodbye to one's childbearing phase is bittersweet. Sometimes more bitter than sweet. In a way it's an acknowledgement of one's mortality, as in, "I am getting too old to carry another pregnancy". I don't like addressing that reality one bit!

It was also a little sad because I realized our son would be somewhat of an only child. The age difference (8+ years) between him and our next-youngest child is so great that in many ways he'll always be on his own. Our daughters were so close in age, they were practically twins. They always had a companion (and sparring partner), but our little guy will never have that. I feel kind of bad about it.

However, my friends and family have unknowingly stepped into the gap and are providing my little boy with some age-compatible playmates! I have recently learned that I am going to be an aunt for the first time (so excited!), and one of my oldest friends here in AZ (one of my grad school roommates, actually) is expecting as well. Come spring, there will be new babies buzzing around the periphery of my life. I can't wait! I'll get my itty-bitty baby fix, AND, a little later on, my son will have some playmates at family functions and social get-togethers.

There are a few other friends out there who I know are working on joining the "Mommy to Be" club (you know who you are, ladies). Here's hoping the Baby Magic comes your way soon!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Day #53

Next week I will be spending three days in Yuma for work. If Phoenix is Hell, then Yuma is the lowest level of Hell. I was amused by a quote from the Yuma tourism website:

"Mild winters and temperate summers make Yuma an ideal destination for all your vacation needs."

I'm trying to figure out in which parallel universe regular temperatures in excess of 110 degrees is considered "temperate".

My dad once shared with me the fact that Yuma is often used as a test site for aircraft (he's an aerospace engineer). Apparently Yuma is a good location for testing hot takeoff and landing conditions. Notice, it's not utilized for its "temperate" climate.

I can't stand temperatures above 72 degrees, personally. I know, what am I doing living in Phoenix, right? You know a city is hot when someone from Phoenix is nervous about going there due to the heat...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Day #52

Just in case you were wondering...

I spent most of my life in Southern California, often considered home to some of the nuttiest folks on the planet. I've lived in Phoenix for a little over two years and can now say, with authority and absolute certainty, that THIS is the center of the kooky universe.

If you doubt the above statement, check this out:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/25949118#25949118

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Day #51

I'm not sure what bothers me most about this article...

Is it the blatant disregard for property and the law exhibited by the woman in the story?

Or is it the glaring typos?

Someone got paid to write this article...and someone was paid to proof and edit it, for goodness sake!!!

http://www.azcentral.com/offbeat/articles/2008/08/21/20080821library-CR.html

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Day #50...Halfway There!

Wish I could say the same about my weight loss goal...but that's another post altogether.

After the air conditioning fiasco, our house was left smelling less-than-rosy. In fact, something about heating the house to a toasty 100+ degrees seems to have activated the lovely aroma of musty dog. I steam-cleaned the carpet today (don't get me started on carpet...I detest carpet!!!), but now the odor is even worse. It's not a urine smell, or anything like that. Our sweet German Shepherd is too good for that.

It just smells like...dog!

I don't want to put any perfume-y powder crap in the carpet, since my son is crawling everywhere. I just want something safe and nontoxic that will get rid of the smell!

I plan to get a fresh box of plain baking soda to sprinkle on the carpet tomorrow before I leave the house, then vaccuum as soon as I get home a couple hours later.

Anyone have any better ideas?

Seriously, dog lovers, help me out here!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Day #49...still hot, with falling trees!

**************This post was started on Friday, but couldn't be completed until today due to circumstances beyond my control. Keep reading, you'll see why...*******************

Ok, just ONE tree is falling, but talk about a complicated evening!

In the midst of the AC drama, we had a big monsoon storm roll through. During the peak of the wind and soaking rain, my husband arrived home from work and informed me that one of the 30 foot trees alongside our house was about to fall over onto our neighbor's roof! This was the same sweet neighbor who was preparing to have us stay over while our AC is awaiting replacement.

The fire department was called out and offered some sage advice along the lines of, "Ummm, yeah you should probably have someone come out and take out that tree."

Ya think??!!

Try finding someone to come out at 9pm in the middle of a summer monsoon to take out a massive palo verde. It ain't gonna happen.

So, our other sweet neighbors then volunteered their house for my family and the next door neighbor with the tree about to fall on her living room...

SLUMBER PARTY!

My husband did his best to fashion a makeshift prop/tie line to hold the tree up until morning. The worst of the wind had passed, thankfully, so the tree actually held. We all slept, cool and safe, at our neighbors' house.

By morning, we were well into the 90 degree+ range, and the smell of a hot and stuffy house was getting pretty bad. My husband was on the neighbor's roof, taking down the leaning tree, the girls were at school, and I had all but given up on getting anything accomplished as far as work from home. I frantically packed things we'd need over the weekend, as it became obvious that we'd need to relocate temporarily.

Our landlord generously offered to put us up in a vacation condo nearby that is owned by her in-laws. We tried to put a positive spin on things and think of it as a little "staycation" (I know, I hate that word too...). The condo was in a new brownstone development close to ASU. It was beautiful! I wish I'd taken my camera, because this three story, two bedroom condo had everything...a huge, flat screen tv (hubby liked that), a basement playroom, a sunken garden tub, a reading loft, ohhhhhh...it was so nice!


There was just one little problem...

The owners live in Michigan and had not been out in a few months. They also had apparently overlooked the water bill, because after relaxing for a few hours and enjoying CNN on that huge tv (who knew Manhattan could be under a tornado warning, by the way...sorry, ADD moment), I went to wash one of my son's sippy cups and discovered there was no running water!

Phone calls were made, the bill was paid electronically, but being that it was after 2 PM on a Friday, those hard working City of Tempe folks decided it was too late to have someone come over and flip whatever switch needs to be flipped to restore water service. So, we packed up (again) and headed for a hotel.



It had been a long couple of days and the kids had been such troopers in the midst of discomfort and chaos. We decided to splurge a little and stay at one of the local resorts. Truthfully, it wasn't really a splurge, because no tourists in their right minds come to Phoenix in August anyway, so there are lots of deals to be had. Rooms at the place we stayed run in the same price range as any decent motel this time of year. We were able to let the kids enjoy some fun in a beautiful pool and waterslide while we gave thanks for the miracle that is modern air conditioning.



We got the call on Saturday morning that our AC would be fixed that day, so my husband raced home to let the repairmen in while the rest of us continued to enjoy that beautiful pool. When checkout time rolled around at noon, we discovered that our wonderful landlord had called in a gift certificate for the cost of our room.

WE LOVE HER!

So, by Sunday our house was back to being livable as far as temperature goes. Sunday and Monday were devoted to the tasks of cleaning up the mess left by the installation of a new AC unit and trying to catch up on housework and the multitude of things I was supposed to get done for my job on Thursday and Friday.

Here it is, Tuesday morning, and things are settling down.

I am sitting in a Starbucks, munching on a fruit plate and sipping my iced coffee. It's not even 9:30 yet, but I've already conducted a training this morning and finished a big chunk of a project that's deadline is tomorrow. I'm waiting for traffic to die down a bit before hopping on the freeway to head home. I'm trying to decide what feels best about today. Is it the fact that when I get back to my house, it will be a comfortable 78 degrees? Maybe. I suspect the best thing about today is that I am here, and not in a classroom. My boss is confident enough in me to have me doing trainings solo now, I am earning money again, and I am content.

Things aren't perfect, but they sure are better!

By the way, a HUGE thank you to MICHELLE for your offer of a place to flee the heat on Thursday! I didn't see your comment until yesterday, but thank you for thinking of us!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Day #48...hot, Hot, HOT!!!

Our air conditioning took another nosedive today. It has been sounding like a giant metal grinder for weeks, but after the last repair they assured us it was as good as new. We had hoped then that they'd go ahead and replace it, as it's an older unit and costs a mint ot run here in the Phoenix summer. They opted for the temporary fix. You get what you pay for...

I was so excited to be working from home today in a quiet house (now that the girls are back in school). Instead, I'm sitting here sweating as I watch the thermometer creep upward. Actually, I think it's sprinting rather than creeping.

I can't go anywhere because I have to wait for the repairmen, who are unable to give me even a rough estimation of their arrival time. Of course, it will probably fall somewhere within the 15 minute window in which I must pick up my girls from school.

I imagine they will arrive, look at the AC unit, tell us it needs a major repair or replacement, and being that it's almost the weekend we''ll probably be stuck sweating it out until Monday or Tuesday.

It's only supposed to hit 108 tomorrow.

Here's one of those things I often ponder...
Why don't AC repair companies seem to stock any of the parts they need to actually DO repairs? I can't understand why this is one business where every fix takes a number of days because one must wait on parts.

It's not yet 2:00 PM and my house has already reached 85 degrees inside. I don't think this is going to be pretty. Time to gather up my candles and other meltables and get them into the garage fridge!

***UPDATE: At 7:50 PM we have an indoor temperature of 94 degrees. The AC needs to be totally replaced and won't be done until Saturday at the earliest, and possibly not until Monday or Tuesday. I had to make rush arrangements to kennel our dog to spare her the heat. This stinks!***

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Day #47

Like a deer in the headlights...

My boss had me run my first training today. He dropped this bomb on me once I arrived at the school where we were scheduled. I was a wreck. Fortunately I was working with a small group of very easygoing and flexble teachers who were eager to get the software up and running for their school. My boss occasionally jumped in with comments or suggestions to guide our training, but for the most part it was all me.

We accomplished our goals and got everything covered.

All I can say is whew!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Day #46

Your soul is worth more than diamonds...



I'm such a hippie at heart (without the weed, of course).

I don't care who you vote for this fall, just please VOTE!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Day #45


Jury duty is an interesting study in human nature. Today I witnessed all kinds of interesting and curious behavior on the part of prospective jurors as well as a defendant. Strange stuff!

Nobody wants to be on a jury

Ok, maybe I’m generalizing here, but I think most folks can come up with a thousand other things they would rather do besides sit on a jury. It’s inconvenient, the pay stinks, it’s boring, and the responsibility is huge. I get it! Still, it always amazes me the lengths people will go to in order to be excused from service.

Prospective jurors are instructed to answer all questions honestly. The idea is to weed out bias, prejudice, and life experiences that may prevent one from being fair and impartial. Makes sense to me. The judge today was very clear on many occasions that we were to answer honestly, but if there was sensitive information we would rather not share publicly, we could indicated a “yes” answer, then state that we’d rather discuss details privately with the judge and attorneys. Sounds fair, right?


Well, I was horrified by the number of individuals who openly answered questions about extremely personal information almost gleefully. What the heck??!! Your dad is locked up and awaiting trial for ten counts of exploitation of a minor? Uh, I’d probably want to discuss that privately, thank you very much. Oh, you were raped? Well, thanks for sharing!

Don’t get me wrong…I’m in no way suggesting these folks should be ashamed of things that happened to them, or that were perpetrated by friends or family. I’m all for owning your experiences and moving forward in a good way. But still, I found it really uncomfortable in such a public setting. If your goal is to get out of jury duty, please take the confidential disclosure option. In my humble opinion, anything else is just some weird exhibitionism. This was not a support group or therapy session. It was jury selection!

A man who defends himself has a fool for a client

The jury selection process I participated in today was for a criminal case. The defendant was an older man who had elected to defend himself. I suspect he was a doctor or other highly educated professional. He has been charged with a pretty nasty offense involving physical violence and law enforcement. Sounds messy!

During the entire questioning process, I was having this internal dialog. Yeah, I wanted to get out of service as much as anyone else in the room, but I kept hearing this little voice in my head say “I can be fair, unbiased, and impartial!” I was in full Girl Scout mode, answering questions directly and honestly. It was time to perform my civic duty, and I was stepping up to the plate, by golly! I was totally convinced I could be a great juror (ok, I was having fantasies of being elected foreman and being the one interviewed on 60 Minutes…), right up until we reached the part of the process where the judge allowed the attorneys to ask questions of individual jurors.

Keep in mind, the defendant was representing himself…

When it was his turn to interview jurors, he stood up and addressed a middle aged woman who was employed by a local law enforcement agency. In a harsh, abrasive, loud, and confrontational tone he barked, “Juror number 15, am I innocent or guilty?” She sat in stunned silence for a moment before he repeated his demand. This time the startled woman replied that she didn’t know. His angry response was a monologue about the fact that in a court of law, he was innocent until proven guilty and nobody had the right to presume otherwise. I guess he had a point, but it was not the time or place to be making that point. At that moment I made up my mind that there was no way I could now be fair and impartial. This guy was definitely guilty…of being a jerk with a big ol’ chip on his shoulder!

Fortunately I was not selected for service and was dismissed in the late afternoon. Whew!

And I didn’t even have to publicly confess any deep, dark family secrets.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Day #44...Why I Heart CVS

Today was a very good day for me in CVS land. It would have been even better if I'd been more organized and less generous. Ok, I don't feel too bad about the generous part, but the disorganized thing...very disappointed in myself.

In short, I purchased $32.70 in merchandise for a total of $3.63 out of pocket. That should have been $$0.13 out of pocket, but I misplaced a $2.50 coupon that I 'd have used on my first transaction, and I ended up donating $1.00 to the Phoenix Children's Hospital. More on the unexpected bonus from that little bit of giving later.

My CVS trip today involved two transactions:

Transaction#1:

2 Children's Advil @ $5.79 each = $11.58

used 2 $1 coupons, a $2/$10, a coupon for $3.08, and $4.50 ECBs

Total OOP: $0.17
ECBs earned: $11.58

(I had a CVS coupon for $2.50 off any $10 pain reliever purchase that I should have used here, which would have reduced my ECB cost to $2...I'm so bummed I missed that one!)

Transaction #2:

Alavert 12 ct. = $5.99 (used $4 coupon)
2 Kotex Lightdays @ $3.99 each = $7.98 (used 2 $1 coupons)
CVS Aloe Vera Gel = $0.59
CVS 30 SPF Sunscreen = $0.19
CVS Ibuprofen 20 ct. = $3.39 (used CVS coupon for free item)
Johnson's Buddies Soap = $0.99 (used $0.99 coupon)
Vasoline Intensive Care Lotion 1 oz. = $0.99
$1 donation to PCH

used $4/20 coupon, $2 CVS coupon, and $2 ECBs

Total OOP: $3.46
ECBs earned: $7

I didn't know this beforehand, but my donation to PCH got me a sheet of coupons to some local business and a $3/$15 CVS coupon. SO, I guess my donation earned me $2. I love it when that happens

Once again, I got a bunch of stuff we need and use regularly for pennies on the dollar. I so love my CVS!


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Day #43

I have to get a new car. There is simply no way around it. We have not had to worry about a car payment in more than three years, which has been nice, but both our vehicles are pushing 200,000 miles. It's only a matter of time before one or both of them go belly up. With three kids, an extreme climate where we live, and a new job that requires occasional long distance driving (by myself in some pretty remote areas), we need a reliable car. Actually, we need two.

Our plan is to save up some cash as quickly as possible to pay up front for a good, preowned minivan (yes, my husband has finally decided he'll still have testicles even if there's a minivan in the garage). Since it would probably take us a couple years to save enough for a second car as well, we're going to break one of Dave Ramsey's cardinal rules and go ahead and finance the purchase of a second vehicle. This one should be something economical. We intend for the economy car to be used by me when I'm on travel in state, then used by my husband on all other days for his 40 mile round trip commute to work. Whoever is not using the economy car will be the one dealing with the kids that day anyway, so it makes sense for that person to have the minivan.

My husband is a fairly big guy. He is convinced it's impossible for him to drive anything smaller that a full size truck or luxury sedan...this kind of defeats the idea of an economical car. I'm trying to convince him he could learn to be happy with something more along the lines of this:


I hope I can get him over to my side!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Day #42


I am in heaven watching the parade of nations in the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games. It's like a full-color, live action world geography trivia game. Totally up my alley!

Now what was up with those Hungarian outfits?

Day #41

It's after midnight and I'm putting the finishing touches on a project for work tomorrow. Amazingly, I don't really mind the late hour. I'm sure some of it is the novelty of a new job, but I think it's mostly because I'm so glad to not be teaching!

As I dropped my daughters off at school this morning, one of the teachers who was on duty in the parking lot asked me if I missed being there. Mmmmm...nope! Not at all. Not even for a second. I get plenty of "kid" attention from my own children and their friends. Maybe in a few years, when my children are grown and I'm not as eager to explore life's possibilities, I'll long for my days in the classroom. Who knows, perhaps I'll return to the classroom eventually. I won't rule it out entirely.

I just know that with each day that passes, I am more and more grateful for finding the courage to take a few steps back and change direction. I feel productive, useful, appreciated, and encouraged to believe in my abilities and talents.

Love it!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Day #40

I love these things!

There's something oh-so-George Jetson about ice cream flash frozen in liquid nitrogen. I don't know if it's any healthier than the traditional stuff, but it's just so cool (no pun intended)!

By the way, I am still planning on losing 25 lbs. by the time this whole 100 days is over. Really, I am...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Day #39






Random Snack recipe:
1 Red Delicious or Gala apple, sliced
2 heaping spoonfuls of creamy peanut butter
1 cup of miniature marshmallows

Dip apple slice in peanut butter, then add a couple mini marshmallows... soooooo yummy!

My kids love this, and I can eat it every day. Ok, maybe I shouldn't eat it every day, but if not this then we're talking Baskin Robbins or DQ and neither one of them is good for my butt right now. At least we're talking protein & fiber here, right? Then again, Baskin Robbins and DQ do win when it comes to calcium...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Day #38

So much for my fantasy of maternal non-teacherness on the first day of school...

My younger daughter woke up at 1:00 AM vomiting and feverish. She missed her first day of 4th grade. I raced my older daughter to school this morning, then raced home again to pick up my son for an early doctor's appointment. He has another ear infection. Yup, we finished the antibiotics last Wednesday and another case popped up in less than a week.

We're seeing the ENT specialist on Friday.

He will be getting tubes.

I raced back home with my feverish, cranky baby and another prescription for stronger antibiotics in order to relieve my husband so he could go to work. I got to stay home, nursing two sick kids instead of baking brownies and preparing a perfect first-day-of-school dinner a la June Cleaver.

My older daughter came home from school and promptly fell asleep on the living room floor (thank goodness I'd vaccuumed), and didn't move for almost four hours. She finally got up and headed straight to the bathroom. Now she's sick with a stomach bug too. Looks like I'll have three sick kiddos home tomorrow.

Oh, and now my stomach is feeling a little iffy...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Day #37


Tomorrow is the first day of school...and I'm not going to be in the classroom! It was such a treat to go shopping for supplies with my daughters, and not have to worry about what I needed for my class. I got to just focus on their needs and get excited along with them about stuff like new backpacks and binders and pencil cases. Instead of snapping at them to wait because Mommy has to find something for her class, I just followed their lead and watched with glee as they checked off each item on the lists their teachers gave them. I was not especially thrilled when it was time to pay the guy at the register, but the process of hunting down the items was more fun than I'd imagined.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Day #36

I love it when I get a chance to do something well.

One of my goals with my new job is to excel to such a degree that I make myself indispensable to my employer. I want to be "that person", the one that a company can't function without.

In teaching, there is no extrinsic reward for excellence. As long as you can get through the school year without getting fired or reprimanded for gross negligence, you are guaranteed the same pay next year as a teacher with identical education and experience who has devoted hundreds of hours to being great. It is a system that encourages mediocrity in so many teachers. It takes a very rare kind of character for a teacher to continue, year after year, to challenge herself to be fantastic. As much as I would like to think I possess that kind of intrinsic motivation, I know deep down that I don't (at least not at this point in my life). I'm glad I recognized it in time and walked away from teaching when I did. The only thing worse than a bad teacher is a burned out teacher. I was burning out.

With this new job, I feel invigorated and challenged. I look forward to the change of pace and the opportunity to grow in new directions. I also like knowing that if I work hard, do a great job, and produce results, there will be a tangible reward. After years of living on the knife's edge of a paycheck-to-paycheck existence, it's nice to know I have a chance to directly affect the income I earn.

My boss gave my a task to do from home. This is a big job, something they have allotted several months to complete. It's not especially difficult, just time-consuming and requiring a lot of attention to detail. It's something I can do on my own schedule which means I can do it while the girls are in school and the baby is napping, or after the kids are in bed for the night. My goal is to hammer out a huge chunk of the task this week, so that when I meet with my boss on Thursday, I can blow him away with what I accomplished. I'd like to position myself in such a way that I can more or less choose my assignments and work from home as much as I want. I'd also like to be able to name my terms when it's time for my first professional review.

It's very exciting for me to find myself in this position. I had forgotten that there were jobs out there in the "real world" that allowed one these kinds of opportunities.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Day #35...Tired

Looking back at many of my recent posts I realize I'm frequently using the word "tired". Well, I have been (and currently am) tired, but I think it's a good tired. For the most part it's a tired that comes from being busy and engaged in things that feel productive and forward-moving. It's no longer a tired that results from spinning my wheels in the same rut, day after day. It's a tired that feels more like I've completed an intense, invigorating yoga class, as opposed to being in the midst of a grueling marathon.

Tired...and heading to bed!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day #34

Tonight was "Meet Your Teacher Night" at the school where I taught for the past two years. It also happens to be the school my two daughters attend. I made it back into town from my work trip just in time for us to all go as a family and check out their classrooms and get all the beginning of the school year stuff picked up. I still have a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that school here starts in the first few days of August.

This was the first time in over a decade where I was not the teacher on the other side of this equation. For the first time, I got to be the mom and attend a school function as the parent, instead of relegating the job to my husband while I worked. For once, I got to do something school related with my children, and I loved it! This is my oldest child's final year in elementary school, so I made it just in time. I know once middle school rolls around, she probably won't want me within 20 yards of her events (not that I won't be there anyway...).

I expected to feel something about the start of a new school year and my not being there. Amazingly, I feel nothing except an anticlimactic sense of relief. That right there speaks volumes about the correctness of my decision to step away from teaching.

I don't miss it. At all.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Day #33

Some things just can't be avoided.

Apparently, my oldest daughter had some weird destiny thing involving scorpions this week. On Saturday night, I ended up gathering my children and all our stuff and jumping in the car at 11:00 PM because there were scorpions (note the plural) running around my mother-in-law's house. I was not about to have my kids sleeping on the floor with that going on...no way! Of course, I am now in the dog house with my MIL, but too bad. My kids come first. We ended up getting a motel room at 2:30 AM because we were just too tired to make it the rest of the way home. Thank God for a safe trip. That was crazy.

Well, since I am out of town for two days and had to leave very early this morning, we decided to allow my girls to have a sleepover at their friend's house last night and then spend the day there today. I was just wrapping up my trip preparations at 10:40 PM when I received a hysterical phone call from my younger daughter. Her sister had been stung multiple times by a scorpion at her friend's house.

I jumped in the car and raced over to pick them up. It was a very long night, with hourly calls from Poison Control (they were awesome, by the way) and constant changing out of the cold compresses. We had Benadryl, cortisone, Tylenol, and hugs on board. She was ok for the first hour or so (adrenaline is a blessing), but after that the venom starting doing its thing and it wasn't fun. It's so hard to watch your child in so much pain and not be able to make it better. She was having spasms and severe pain and just cried and cried. Amazingly, she popped up like a daisy this morning and was fine. I guess the first 6 hours are the worst.

I am thankful for arriving safely at my training today. It was a 3 hour+ drive on mountain roads and I was certainly tired. I wish I was in a better position to enjoy being up in the mountains this evening, but I'm hitting the sack early instead.

Before I go to bed though you can bet I'm checking for scorpions. (((Eeeeehhhhhww!)))

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Day #32

Things I learned while in Oklahoma City:

  • Oklahoma is flat...really, really flat. We had dinner at the top of the Chase building in OKC, and the 270 degree view did not contain a single mountain, hill, slope, rise, or any other sort of change in elevation. You can literally see the curve in the Earth's surface from there.

  • Oklahoma City has lots of flies. They were everywhere. Gross.
  • You can walk down the street in OKC at midnight and literally see no cars moving in any direction. That city rolls up its sidewalks early. I can't believe I was standing in the middle of an intersection in the state's largest city, with nary a moving vehicle in sight.
  • I miss humidity. Granted, I wouldn't relish living in the Deep South or a tropical rainforest in the dead of summer with no air conditioning, but after two years in the desert the extra moisture in the air was a nice change of pace. My skin and hair were loving it.

I enjoyed my trip, as much as possible considering how much I missed my family. I think 4 days is slightly beyond my limit, and was a rough start to the travel aspect of my new job. Two to three days is a bit more reasonable. I leave tomorrow morning (at 4:30 AM...ACK!) for a two day training about 180 miles from here. I'm sad to be leaving again so soon, but looking forward to a night in the mountains. Trees...cool air...the color green...can't wait!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Day #31...I Dropped It!


I was so afraid of missing my blogging "obligation" while on my trip last week, I failed to consider that the weekend would actually be more challenging. I made a committment to blog daily for 100 days. I made it 30 days, then missed a couple. What now? Do I start over? Add a couple days to the end as some sort of blogging penance? Hmmm...not sure. Suggestions?

Despite having so much to write about (the trip, the hotel, the food, the weekend, the scorpions...) it's going to have to wait until tomorrow. It is late and I'm beat. I will catch up tomorrow for sure.

I can't wait to tell you about these guys:

Friday, July 25, 2008

Day #30

Off to the rez today. I can't believe I woke up this morning in another state, arrived home, and now have to drive 6+ hours to my mother-in-law's. Soooooooo tired!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Day #29

Apparently I am the unofficial gastronomic tour guide of our group on this trip. After last night's fried okra worship service, I followed up with today's lunch. This involved bringing several of my coworkers before the altar of the almighty muffaletta. Now OKC is no New Orleans, but the sandwich shop we found made a more than passable version of one of these:




Of course, it wasn't Central Grocery, but it did the trick.

Once again, I was responsible for broadening the horizons (and possibly shortening the life spans) of my dear colleagues. Just my way of playing nice with the other kids!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day #28

As the new kid on the team, so to speak, I have often felt these last two days that I don't have a lot to contribute on this particular business trip. I am still learning the software we distribute, I have yet to meet so many of the various players in this industry. I'm green and I know it. Still, one likes to feel as though one has something to offer.

Tonight at dinner I finally had my chance.

I introduced my whole company to something they'd never tried before...




I can't believe I was seated with an entire group of folks who had never experienced the deep-fried country greasiness that is yummy fried okra!

I never get to eat fried okra. First, I have no clue how to make it correctly. Second, my husband can't stand it so even if I could make it right we'd never have it. Third, I know of no place in Phoenix that serves it, so I have no chance to order it for myself at a restaurant. Here in Oklahoma City there is a very good barbecue restaurant whose menu included my all-time favorite fried food.

Tonight I converted ten coworkers to the cult of fried okra...and it was gooooooood!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day #27...Fancy

I am blogging tonight from my very own (peaceful, quiet, diaper-free, fighting sibling-free, snoring husband-free) room in a very beautiful hotel in Oklahoma City. It is a restored historic building that is absolutely gorgeous! I will post pictures once I return home.

My flight today was the most turbulance-filled plane ride I have ever experienced. I do not "do" flying well to begin with, so this was not fun for me. People were actually getting sick from the frightening movements the plane was making. I have a pretty solid stomach, but I realized upon landing that the shakiness in my legs was from the post-adrenaline crash I was experiencing. It was intense. Needless to say, I was so glad to be on solid ground!

I spent the first hour here in the fitness center (extremely cool equipment), then met up with the rest of my colleagues for dinner. We had a nice time, and I got to further expand my understanding of the various elements in this business.

I also got to see for my self the very different world of sales vs. teaching. Perhaps I should say, the very different personalities one finds in sales vs. teaching. Let's just say that sales folks definitely cut loose much more than the teachers I knew. Nothing crazy or inappropriate...just boisterous and social, with a little less structure and order.

This is a whole new world!

I miss my family like crazy, but honestly I am so tired right now I think I'll sleep alright. Tomorrow is a busy day. I sure hope I can keep up!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Day #26

If there is one invention on the face of the planet designed to empty a parent's pockets, it's got to be this thing:


I hate those stupid claw games! Today was my younger daughter's birthday, and her only request was for our family to go to a local arcade/entertainment complex. This is a splurge we'd normally forego, but she was the birthday girl and I was already suffering enough mommy guilt about my trip tomorrow. I gave in. And I paid...big time!

There's something so evil, so addictive, so insidious about "The Claw". It gives you this false sense of possibility, even though common sense tells you it's a huge sucker bet.

I'm hoping the claw phase is almost over. It seems to be giving way to a new addiction on the part of my children.

Dance Dance Revolution.

Don't even get me started...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day #25

I am officially one quarter of the way through this grand experiment! I have to admit I am kind of enjoying it, although the pressure to perform gets to me sometimes. Just kidding...I'm not taking myself that seriously! I am a little concerned about how I'm going to keep my word over the next few days though. I will be on a business trip, and have no idea if I will have the time or computer access to blog while I'm in Oklahoma.

On the home front, we are back to ear infection central. Yes, my nine month old son returned to daycare part time last Tuesday. By Friday, the ear infection was brewing. Not surprisingly, we were ear infection free for the entire time he was out of daycare. Think there might just be a correlation there? So now, on top of the guilt of leaving my baby while I fly three states away, there's the guilt of leaving my sick baby while I fly three states away. Why can't we just win the lottery or something???!!!

Seriously, please say a little prayer for my baby (and his sisters) while I am away.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Day #24

I have so much to do...why am I blogging?

I am trying to get ready for my trip this week and I'm finding I'm procrastinating a bit. I tend to do that when something seems overwhelming. I'm not especially worried about the trip itself, but rather the fact that when I return, my family immediately leaves for several days at my in-laws'. This is not a relaxing trip to visit family, but rather a long drive, very little sleep, and a lot of hard work under hot, uncomfortable conditions as part of my husband's cultural obligations. I am basically trying to get ready for two trips at the same time. It's a lot!

I know my "work" trip will be busy, but I'm hoping to find a little time to visit this place. It would be a shame to go all that way and not have a chance to spend a couple hours there. Besides, I can't think of much else to do in Oklahoma City in July (besides perspire profusely). I sure hope this new job takes me somewhere that I know someone once in a while!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Day #23


Today is my 10th wedding anniversary! I can't believe it has already been a decade for my husband and myself. I keep thinking back to what I was doing ten years ago right now (at this exact moment, probably telling the hairdresser to please make my hair a little less poofy), and wondering where the time has gone.


I am grateful to have made it to this milestone. Our lives have not always been easy over the past ten years. We've hit some major speed bumps along the way. I always used to wonder why people talked about money being such a cause of stress in a marriage. Believe me, now I know. I think our marriage is the poster child for a money-stressed relationship. I like to think that in ten more years (with a little help from Dave Ramsey) we will celebrate our 20th and celebrate being debt-free as well. That's the plan, at least.


Tonight we're celebrating with an oh-so-original dinner and movie combo. I know, how very creative, right? We have a nursing infant in the family at the moment (not to mention other concerns-see above)...trips to Paris are kind of out of the question. Maybe for our 25th...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Day #22

I am so glad to be out of teaching this year!

My (former) school is gearing up for the new school year, and all the beginning of the year correspondences are going out. After two years of frozen salaries, our beneficient district granted teachers a whopping $500 raise.

That's $500 for the year...

As in less than $0.40 an hour...assuming that no teacher ever goes in early or stays late or takes work home or attends conferences and "back to school night" and music performances and plays and the 1,001 other after hours duties and responsibilities a teacher has.

I am disgusted, to say the least.

I really hope this new job is a good fit for the long haul, because every day I'm finding another reason to never return to teaching...at least not in this state.