Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I'm a whore.

You know, with Tiger Woods getting caught and all his ho-bag sex partners girlfriends popping up all over the place, I am feeling the need to make a confession.  I'm a whore.  There.  I said it.  Oh, I should clarify - I'm a COAT whore.

I cannot go a winter season without buying a new coat.  Sometimes two.  Sometimes THREE.  I thought for sure, after the last few years of buying several coats, I would refrain this year.  But like any addict, it is impossible.  I literally ran into a store last night for five minutes to look for a shirt to go under a cardigan sweater.  Really.  FIVE minutes.  I was on my way to meet some friends for coffee and eventually beer.  I was walking out of the store, empty handed, when this wintery looking thing caught my eye.  I said to myself "That can't be a coat.  There cannot be another coat in my closet.  I will keep walking."  And I did.  Then I turned around and decided I would just try it on.  Just a little try on.  What can that hurt?  Next thing I know, I am in line and buying the damn thing.  Oh, but is it cute.  I love it.  Goodness knows it's cold enough to wear.  The good news is, I have a scarf that matches perfectly.  That scarf definitely needed a coat to go with it.  Now, if I only had a pair of dark brown leather gloves.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Post Christmas blues

There is always that little letdown for me when all of the presents have been opened, the food is eaten, the leftovers packaged up and the guests have gone home.  I don't like to take down the Christmas decorations.  The house seems so bare without all the greenery and ribbons.  Maybe I should leave it up all year.  Ok, I'm not that wacky.

Besides, this post is not about my post Christmas blues.  It's about the bug that made its way through two family members.  Sous Chef tossed his cookies all over our leather chair, the blankets he had on him while sleeping in the leather chair, the floor and he even managed to hit the couch while trying to get to the trash can that was, I thought, strategically placed next to the chair.  I placed it there shortly after he said "I'm not feeling well and I think I might throw up."  That was on Saturday night.  It was gross.  Really, really gross.  I am so thankful to have Bissell carpet cleaner which cleaned the carpet and the couch very quickly and doesn't require me to touch anything gross.  The leather chair was a different story.  The blankets went right into the washer for about four rinses before finally being washed.  I am happy to say it was a one time event for Sous Chef and by Monday, he was back on his feet.

About 3 o'clock Sunday morning, MG was hit with the same stomach upheaval.  MG appears to have gotten a more virulent strain of that nasty bug, as his was truly a hurlfest.  It was for him, too, though a 24 hour thing and he is back to work today.  He says he's not 100%, but definitely better.

As for Christmas Day, we ended up with 32 people at our house for dinner. Besides coming up for beverages and food, the kids pretty much stayed in the basement.  In fact, one of my cousin's sons I only saw for a total of ten seconds.  I am NOT kidding!  The adults hung out upstairs, playing crazy card games that we used to play when I was a kid.  I have already been asked to host Thanksgiving next year.  We'll see.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's a Christmas miracle!

About two years ago, I lost a diamond earring.  It was on a European hook and obviously became unhooked and dislodged from my ear.  MG gave me those earrings our first Christmas as a married couple, which was 1994.  We had just moved here and had new insurance and I was just sure the insurance company would think I was taking advantage of them and committing insurance fraud.  I swear, I was not.  I added some cash to the insurance money and upgraded my new earrings and also had them put on screwback posts.

Yesterday, after a day of running errands, having lunch with my husband, having my kids return home from being gone for a couple of days, I looked in the mirror at about 8:00pm and realized I was missing an earring.  CRAP!  I was in a total panic for I was just sure the insurance company was going to say "No way!  We are not reimbursing you again for a 'mysterious disappearance' of an earring."  (Did you know that's what they call it?  "Mysterious disappearance.")  I remembered rubbing my earring and trying to get my hair from being tangled around it, but I could not for the life of me remember if I managed to untangle it and I couldn't remember where I was when that happened. (Proof again, that my pre-menopausal, mommy-tired brain is working as inefficiently as it is supposed to.)  I started looking through my clothes, through my winter scarf and my coat.  I was thinking "SHIT, I just vacuumed the family room" and I was NOT going to go through the vacuum cleaner bag of muck.  I searched the kitchen floor.  I then decided to try my car.  I went out and did a quick look of the driver's seat.  I then looked down and I am not kidding you when I saw that lovely earring sparkling up at me from the garage floor I did a little dance!  I couldn't find the back, but I will be swinging by the diamond broker's today to see if they have one laying around that they can give me!  Yippee!

Merry Christmas everyone!  Have a safe and memorable day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Go see it.

While the kids are away, the parents will play.  I bet you think this is going to be a blog entry about all the naughty things that go on when parents find time alone, without kids but with a cat furiously meowing at the bedroom door.  Sorry to disappoint you, it's not.

MG and I went out to dinner (yummy, Indian food!) and then went to see Up In The Air.  Obviously, we have heard all the good reviews this movie is already getting and I expect to see it again when I go with my friends to the movie marathon of the Top Academy Award Movies (this year, there will be ten movies instead of five and it will be a two day movie festival!  We can't wait!).  But there is an even more important reason we went to see this movie.  We have a friend who is in the movie.  From the beginning of when she auditioned, I have been anxiously awaiting it's release.  So we went to see it and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was a little sadder than we expected, but there are definitely some funny and touching moments.

It was all I could do not to stand up and scream "That woman is a friend of mine!"  At the risk of embarrassing my husband, I managed to refrain.  I did however get all excited with "Here it is! This is it!  This is her scene!  There she is!  That's her!  That's Cari!" and I was rubbing my hands together to keep from clapping, though I think a standing ovation was due.  We then waited to see her name in the credits.  So cool.  It was a fun evening.

You can read more about Cari's role and a couple of others HERE.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Secret Santa Soiree

I had fun participating in the SSS this year.  I missed joining in last year, so I was really excited this year when the sign up rolled around.  I hope Georgie and Amy run the show again next year!

I thought for sure I had found my Secret Santa.  The return address label said the package was from North Carolina and I found a participant who was from North Carolina, so I e-mailed her.  Turns out it wasn't her and my search must start again.  Unless, of course, anyone wants to volunteer the information!

Oh, and if you want to participate in a little holiday discussion, check out the BlogFrog Community Forum to the right.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm too busy.

It must be the time of year this thought comes up. There's not even a trigger this year, I've just been thinking about it. I wrote about it around this time last year HERE.

This is a busy time of year for many, if not all, of us. Gifts to buy and wrap, parties and family gatherings to attend, pictures to take, cards to address and send. It can all get very overwhelming. And there are days when I think I can't do it all. But I do get it done. If there is something that doesn't get done, it's generally not anything anyone but me will notice.  And there are times where I choose sleep over other things.  But I will admit it, I won't blame it on something else.

So this time of year, for whatever reason, my thoughts are about the excuse we so often hear all year long when someone can't/doesn't/won't do something - the "I'm too busy to ..." excuse. There are times when that excuse is 100% legitimate. There are times when there is JUST.TOO.MUCH.TO.DO. But it seems more often than not, it's the easy way out. And those who use this excuse, often exclusively, lose their credibility. Honestly, I would rather just hear "No thanks" or "We won't be able to make it" or "My boss won't give me the time off" or even "I don't want to." When I repeatedly hear "I'm/we're too busy," I often feel the flip side of that is an implication that people must think that I/my family am/is not busy at all, that I am a lady of leisure, otherwise I wouldn't be asking others to do X (fill in the blank with an event, show, gathering, party, family/life milestone, etc.).

I have really been monitoring my "busy" meter. I have people often tell me "I don't know how you have time to do that." I have realized recently it is NOT about HAVING time, it's about MAKING time. Did I have time to take care of those 100+ Christmas cards I sent. Not really. But I MADE time for them. I actually took them to work so I could get some of that project completed during any down time. I had no down time, but it was a good idea. The things that I could say "I don't have time for" I really am not making time for because it's not high enough on my list of priorities to get into the "make time" category. And sleep often does make it into the high priority category!  That's ok, but call it what it is.

So from now on, when someone tells me they don't have time for something, depending on where my bitch level is measuring at that moment, I may respond with "No, you don't want to MAKE the time. No one HAS the time." Really, who has time just laying around, waiting to be used? I don't know anyone that has that luxury.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sous Chef!

Today, my middle son turns ten.  I officially have two kids in double digits. 

Sous Chef entered this world in a 30 minute rush of chaos.  Thankfully, I was already staying the night at the hospital to be induced the next morning.  Because of him, my doctors had "talked us through" and prepared us for a home birth with baby #3 (CJ).  Thankfully, none of that ended up being necessary.  Sous Chef weighed in at 9 lbs. 9 ozs. at birth, which is neither the lightest nor the heaviest of my kids.  He is in the middle for birth weight and in the middle of two brothers.  He was and continues to be an awesome sleeper.  We know how much I love to sleep, so I was thrilled when he started sleeping through the night at six weeks old!

Sous Chef challenges us every day with a level of intellect that I sometimes cannot keep up with.  During an evaluation when he was three years old, a school psychologist, an occupational therapist and a speech therapist stared at me in amamzement with wide open mouths.  All I could do was shrug my shoulders and smile.  I explained his daddy has a genius IQ and that was all they needed to hear.  They wished me luck in keeping him challenged throughout his educational years.  They were right.  Most days those challenges are awesome, other days they exhaust me because my brain can't wrap itself around what he is talking about.  Many, many years ago I talked with a medical intuitive about my health issues at that time and we also talked about my family members.  I gave her Sous Chef's name and birthdate.  She gasped a little and said, "He is going to do something amazing some day.  Remember I said that."  I have never forgotten she said that.  Thank goodness for an incredible gifted education program in our school district.  Recently, one of the gifted ed. instructors told us Sous Chef is in about the top 1% of kids she has taught.

He is not an overly affectionate child - he likes to receive my hugs and kisses, but he does not always return them.  He will sometimes, though, walk by and say "surprise hug!" and stop and hug me.  When I tell him "I love you" he always says "Ditto."  I love it.  He is sweet and kind, compassionate and caring, and sometimes sensitive to the point of tears.  The first time we watched Racing Stripes he cried and cried because the baby zebra was left behind.  From then on, every time we watch the movie, he fast forwards through the beginning scene where the zebra is left off the truck in the rain.

One of my all time favorite comments he has ever said was when he was about four years old and he was on the toilet doing his business.  He was stinking the bathroom up and he yelled for me to come and turn on the "pooper heater" to clear out the bathroom.  That still cracks me up to this day!

Happy Birthday, Sous Chef!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

It's a beautiful day.

If you've been around these parts long, you know I am not a fan of winter.  Not just because it's cold, but because here in SW Ohio, winter equals wet and grey.  Not snow and grey or just cold and grey, but wet.  It seems we spend a great deal of the winter in the 33 degree range with rain.  It's absolutely miserable.  I do enjoy a cold, crisp day when the air feels good in my lungs and the sky is blue, but that is rare.  So since we rarely have the cool, blue skies, I am always wishing for it to be cold enough for that rain to turn to snow.  Imagine my happiness this morning when I saw this!  It's not a ton of snow, but IT'S.SNOW!

All night long I was like a kid on Christmas Eve.  I kept getting up to see if the snow had started.  Once it did, I kept getting up to see if it was sticking, how much was on the ground, if it was STILL snowing.  It's morning and the snow has started again.  It's a good winter day!

This picture of CJ has nothing to do with snow, but I took it the other day while he was playing in the bath tub and just love it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

He thinks I'm having a breakdown?

My husband told me the other night that I seem to be "more stressed than usual."  He said he was a little concerned.  The only response I could come up with was "Do I?  I don't think I'm any different than any other time."  (IE:  I'm always a screaming lunatic!)  He assured me I seem to be going over the edge.  I think we can all agree, one thing you do NOT tell an apparently stressed out person is that they seem stressed out.  Thankfully, this one time I took the opposite approach from what a normally stressed out person would do, which would be to rip off the head of the offender, and I recognized that maybe I am screaming more than usual, flying off the handle more than I should and about things that I shouldn't.  I took a deep breath and laid down for the evening.  I have cut back on my caffeine, so maybe I am feeling the effects of that.  If it doesn't correct itself soon, I always have Xanax.

Wednesday I decided we would be having leftovers for dinner.  I had family over for dinner on Sunday and had some lasagna left over that we needed to eat otherwise it was going to be in the trash for trash day.  Last night, I made tacos for dinner, but opted out of eating to go finish up some shopping.  MG made a little batch of tacos for his lunch today and then remembered they were having a department lunch and he would not need them.  They now qualify for "leftovers" in my book.

When MG got home from work today, he asked about dinner.  My response "Leftovers."  He said, "Good, I was just asking in case you wanted me to fix something.  But I'm not hungry."  Remember those words "I'M NOT HUNGRY."

As I was heating up some lasagna, Sous Chef and I polished off the three tacos as a little appetizer.  They were good.  Then we each had a small piece of lasagna.

As Sous Chef and I are eating our dinner, MG starts rooting through the fridge.  "Where are those tacos?"  Sous Chef and I confessed to eating them.  You should have seen MG.  He went on and on about how he packed those up "just how I like them" with all his favorite fixins.  That he set them aside for him.  (Sous Chef and I agreed he did a good job with them and they were very yummy.)  He then went on with how we should have asked if we could eat them and on and on.  I had to remind him that when, 45 minutes earlier during a conversation about dinner, he said "I'M NOT HUNGRY" and that the implication to that meant he would not be wanting to eat dinner.  Oh my.  This (fairly friendly) conversation went on the entire time I was eating my dinner.  He then retreated to the bedroom.  When he came back downstairs, he stopped and said, "Aren't you even going to say something like 'I'm sorry, I didn't know you were planning to eat those tacos?'"  So I said it, in my ever so sarcastic tone.  And then I started cracking up.  Are we really (fairly friendily) bickering about fucking tacos?  Of course, he started laughing, too.  I reminded him again about his words "I'M NOT HUNGRY" and let him know from now on he might want to put a name tag on "his" food because in the past, whatever is in the fridge is fair game.

And he thinks I'M stressed.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Merry Christmas from the Jo Family

Merry Christmas!

If you want a really good view, you can click on the photo (or maybe double click?) to enlarge it.  Yes, we know Big E has hair like a 1970's Robert Plant.

For a very few of you, you will be receiving your very own copy in the mail.  For the rest of you whom I never had the chance to meet IRL, this will have to do.  I know you are crushed not to have your very own copy to hang on your Christmas photo holder and then eventually move us to the refrigerator for the 2010 year.  Feel free to print it out, though.  Oh, and this little tidbit would also come in your card if I were sending you one.

2009 Top Ten Events
  1. We welcomed a new family member. Ace, the cat, found us in August when he was about eight weeks old. We LOVE him, and that “we” includes MG, whose cat allergies get better every day! It was a little touch-n-go at first.
  2. We had two different family friends visit from Kansas. We loved having them and look forward to more visitors!
  3. MG continues to love his 1963 BMW motorcycle. I continue to remind him of its antique status and that he IS the same age as the bike, possibly making him an antique, as well. He is at an R&D site at X&Y and loving it. He is working on a top secret project and if he told you what it was he would have to … well, you know.
  4. The boys, a friend of Big E's and I went to St. Louis to meet friends from KS. A total of five moms, one grandma and 14 kids were on this trip. We are not sure if the most exciting part was outdriving a tornado (it’s true!) or running screaming from our hotel to another hotel in the middle of the night, in our pj’s, because we discovered our room had bedbugs. Due to a lot of precautions, we remain bedbug free in our home.
  5. I went to Hawaii (majority of time on Maui, a few days on Oahu) with my best friend, LQ, who is currently living in Guam. I can’t even go into all of the things that had us laughing until we couldn’t breathe and often resulted in people staring at us.
  6. Big E, 7th grade, turned 12 yrs. old in May. He loves middle school and is becoming quite the Ultimate Frisbee and Disc Golf player. He played in his first “adult” tournaments this year. He also still enjoys basketball and baseball.
  7. Sous Chef, 10 yrs. old on Dec. 20, is in the 4th grade. He is now in intermediate school. He loves the computer and reading. He can’t get enough of swimming.
  8. CJ, aged 6, is in Kindergarten. He loves school and says it’s his favorite hobby. We’ve only had one phone call from the principal, which if you know how cutely ornery CJ is, you would know this is an accomplishment.
  9. Minus a “boot” for MG's Achilles tendonitis, three stitches in my thumb and a foot and leg cast for Big E, we’ve had a pretty healthy year and are very thankful for that!
  10. It’s been a great year!

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's a Secret Santa Soiree!

Yippee!  I got my Secret Santa Soiree gifts today.  What fun it is to get gifts not just from a Secret Santa, but from someone you've never met before - at least not in person and probably not even through the blogosphere

The excitement started like this:

Then moved on to:

Notice those two Snickers bars?  Already, I'm down to one.

From here came:


Can't see everything?  Well, my gifts include votive candle holders and a candle, Gourmet Spice scented foaming hand soap from Bath & Body Works (Yum!), Thank You Notes (maybe I'll send one to my Secret Santa since her address is on the box!), a Koozy holder (perfect for my summer outdoor drinking festivities!), a Snowman lotion/soap dispenser and a Christmas tree ornament with my name painted on it.

Here's a close up of the ornament.  It looks great on the tree!

And this little guy is perfect.  I am wondering if my Secret Santa snuck into my bathroom and discovered this is the place that gets decorated with snowmen?  What better place for a snowman soap dispenser than a bathroom decorated with snowmen?

Thank you Secret Santa!  I look forwrd to finging out who you are!

And thanks to Amy and Georgie for organizing this little party for all of us!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Buzz

Unfortunately, we have not been to any Christmas parties yet this year, so the alcohol induced kind of buzz is not what I am talking about. 

What I am talking about is trying to get it all together for THE.BIG.DAY.  Gifts bought and wrapped, menu prepared (we have over 25 people coming to our house for Christmas Day dinner and festivities), food bought and then food prepared.  Thankfully, the folks attending are helping with the food, but I still have the main dish and some other items to take care of, not to mention cleaning my house.  Yuck.

So far, I am doing pretty good.  I got my two packages in the mail and they will arrive on time (that is, BEFORE Christmas, usually my stuff gets where it needs to be AFTER Christmas).  I have purchased some gifts for the kids and the hubs and I continue to fall more and more in love with online shopping.  We only get our kids three gifts for under the tree - three gifts were good enough for Jesus and so it is good enough for my kids.  We do put additional items in their stockings.  We don't sign their gift tags as being "from" anyone.  When they were little they just assumed the gifts were from Santa.  Oddly, they never asked "What did YOU get us?"  Now the older two just play along with the "Santa" thing for CJ. 

So the buzz is on.  And next weekend we are attending a party.  Maybe I'll get a real buzz that night.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas at Chez Jo

I am still getting into the swing of how to decorate this house.  I think I have discovered it takes at least three years of decorating to get it right.  But then that means I should have it "right" since this is our third Christmas in this house.  I am not going to count the first year, though, since we had lived here less than six months and though we were all unpacked and "settled", I was still trying to figure out what to do with my shit.

Anyway, I love seeing photos of how others decorate so I thought I would share with you what Chez Jo looks like this year.

I had to be careful with this picture because the floor was covered with dirty socks, blankets, unfinished games and other kid crap.  I really didn't need that in my picture!

This tree is in the entryway.  I'm not overly happy with the ribbon and will be changing it to match the ribbon on our big tree.  Have you heard me say before that Ace pretty much goes wherever I go?  Look on the stairs in between the banister rails to the right of the top of the tree.  There he is.  And I had to take him off of the table when I took a picture of the centerpiece.  He's not even allowed on our tables or counters, but what can I say.  He's like the other people in this house who don't always follow understand the rules!

Notice the little creature who has now followed me into the family room.  He is at the right of the bottom of the tree, going from the tile to the carpet.  He blends in pretty well, but if you look closely you will see the back half of his body!

Ace loves the tree and the ornaments and lighting wire.  I think that could be a little dangerous.  Sometime soon maybe you'll see a picture of a big, fuzzy, smokin' Ace.

Here is his new favorite place to sleep.  Way back in the corner where no one can get to him.

On an unrelated note, CJ lost TWO teeth in one night.  I made barbecued ribs and he chews those suckers to the bone and then some.  Out came one tooth and before the dinner was through, the second loose tooth came out!  Notice all the bbq sauce all over his face.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I can't go there without overspending.

Do you shop at Costco (or Sam's or some other warehouse club)?  Sometimes I go there knowing I am going to spend a ton of money.  Other times, I think I just need one or two bulk items and that will be it.  Today was that day - I just needed some ribs for dinner on Tuesday.  Oh, and those mega bottles of ketchup because for Big E, ketchup is a food group all its own.  So over $150 later, I was walking out of that place.  And I didn't even buy much - ribs, ketchup, Skyline Chili, a couple of things for wrapping Christmas gifts.  Oh yeah, some frozen broccoli, popcorn chicken and extra virgin olive oil.  That place is impossible to spend a few bucks in.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

When did it happen?

This morning, I was writing a note for my 7th grader - my 7th grader! - to get out of school early for an orthodontist appointment.  I swear, the wind was practically knocked out of me.  Not because HE is IN the 7th grade, but because I HAVE a 7th grader.  It seems like yesterday MY mom was writing notes for me to get out of school early for the orthodontist. 

This morning, I felt like I was playing house, playing mom and that I am really still a child myself in this grown up body.  I feel this way occasionally, as I think all grown ups do.  It's not always about being a mom, either.  Sometimes it's when I am at work - the fact that I am on my second career, that I am OLD ENOUGH to have a career at all, let alone my second one (third, really, if you count motherhood!).  It happens sometimes when I am grocery shopping or at the doctor.  I am this little girl out in the big world, playing grown up.

How did I get here?  When did all of this happen?  And then the reality that it is not going to stop.  That I can't turn back time, I can't press the button on the stopwatch to stop that little timer from counting the time.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Deck the Halls

I decided it was time to get in the Christmas spirit here at my place.  I have my house all decorated and now my own little place in the blogosphere is also decorated!

I might be forgotten, but I'm not gone!

There just hasn't been too much going on here.  My hubs was out of town for the week, I decorated the house, I worked, I napped a little. 

I have spent a lot of my time this week shaking my head over the Tiger Woods saga and really wish our society would realize we do not own this man (or any other famous person, politician, etc.), it's not our place to "forgive" him and he and his wife can hash out their marriage in private, however they choose, paying off whoever they want.  When he does something that hurts me/you directly, then we can talk about it all we want.  I do like Tiger Woods and I thought he was one of the good guys.  It turns out he is human like everyone else and his wife should consider kicking his ass to the curb.  Oh, wait, she already tried that.  Never mind.

I had my annual gyno exam and I no longer weigh what my driver's license says I weigh.  I have weighed the same or less than my license for the majority of my life and now I don't.  I'm in a panic and think I better get to work on this.  After Christmas.

My roots were so obvious that when I had a friend over the other day while I was talking to her she kept looking at them.  She's very polite and was all flustered when I said, "You.  I just saw you staring at my roots.  You tried to look quickly, but I caught you!"  She giggled and was all, "Did I?  I didn't know I was doing that!"  Then when MG got home from his week long trip, we were talking and he did the same.damn.thing.  I said the same thing to him about looking at my roots.  He then said, "Yes, I was.  You need to do something about that."  It was quite humorous because all these years I have been telling him he needs to pay attention to what is going on around him, notice more things, etc. etc.  It figures, he takes my advice when it comes to my grey roots!  I colored my hair last night and it's awesome.  I also did my eyebrows, which I've never done before.

So that's it.  I'm still here, even if you have forgotten about me!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Penguins and mice, oh my!

Thankfully, it has been many, many years since I have had to look for an apartment to live in.  I hated the digging through the newspapers to find a place in a part of town you want to live in, that looks and functions in a way that is desirable to you and all at a monthly rental fee you can afford.  Then going to look at the place only to find out it is nothing like the classified ad stated.

Notice I said "digging through the papers" up there?  Apparently, now a days, you can just drive around and look for the waving mouse or the waving penguin who is holding a sign that says "Luxury Apartments - first month's rent free" or "Want to live here?  We'll pay your utilities!" or some other budget teaser.  I realize that in the 18 or so years it's been since I've had to apartment hunt, that things have changed.  I would have guessed the improvements would have been made with the benefit of techonology - online rental sites, online maps to see exactly where the place is located and even Google type searches where you can often find a picture of the exact property.  But waving penguins and mice?  I can't imagine being out one day, doing my errands and seeing a waving animal and saying "Wow, I think I want to live there" and pull in, sign a lease, make my down payment and then going home and getting my things.  Do these little gimmicks work?

And really, we don't have to just focus on the rental properties doing this.  What about the pizza places, car dealers, furniture stores.  Where does it end? 

Monday, November 30, 2009

Where do you sit?

As many of you know, when you get married/commit to a life partner and mingle together two different family traditions, it can get fun and interesting at best and ugly at worst. Thankfully for MG and I, it has been fun and interesting. It has rarely been ugly (Oh, but when it is ugly, it is REALLY ugly!). We are both supportive of each others backgrounds and have enjoyed sharing these backgrounds with our kids - making our two backgrounds one for them to carry on and hopefully share with their families when they are adults.

There were no "power" seats at the table in my family. For the holidays in my family, when you have 30 people in a home that was not necessarily meant for 3o people, you were just damn glad you got a seat. And you were thankful to be with 30 people who you (most of the time) like. No one cared who sat where, you just tried to find a seat near your favorite family member. On a daily basis in my family, when it was usually just four of us at the table and we did not sit at the dining table, we had our unofficial assigned seats. It was not based on status in the family, but on function - my mom sat on the side of the table nearest the kitchen, my dad and I sat on the other side and my brother sat on the end because it had the least amount of space (and probably because they didn't want my brother and I sitting together). The table was more of a low counter bar and the fourth side was up against a wall.

In MG's family, there is a power/status seat - the head of the table. It appears they take this very seriously. One time when my parents were here, my dad, unaware of this status involved with the "head of the table", put his plate at the head of the table. MG made a comment later to me, so the next time it happened, I moved the plate and MG or I explained to my dad that MG likes to sit there. My dad now knows and he never tries to sit at the head of the table.

Over Thanksgiving, CJ tried to sit at the head of the table. I told him he had to move because we needed him in a different seat, being the littlest and all. My MIL shouted out, "Yes, I think the two grandfathers should sit at the heads of the table." I was a little confused at first. Based on Chris's past explanation of all this to me, about the "man of the house" and all, HE should have been at the head and ME at the the other end. My dad chuckled and said, "Oh no, MG gets to sit there." I then said, "Oh no, this is OUR house and MG and I are sitting at the heads of the table." Honestly, I didn't care where anyone sat. Something about another person giving away "important" seats IN MY HOUSE just didn't sit right.

I later asked MG about why this is such a big deal in his family. I needed more than "man of the house" stuff, especially with a family who prides themselves on not being caught up in the superficial stuff. He went through the history of kings and emporers at the head of the table, blah, blah, blah. I told him I needed a more relevant explanation since his family is not royalty. He really couldn't come up with much beyond "respect your elders" and said he was glad I spoke up because he did think it was his right to sit at the head of the table. In his family, he had waited his whole childhood to be in that spot.

So that was a short story made long. Does your family have a seating tradition? Do you have a seat of "status" at your table?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I always miss the good stuff.

Did all of you see the wardrobe malfunction back during the Super Bowl that year that Janet and Justin were so into their dance that Janet's close couldn't stay on her body? I didn't, I was in the other room. Probably getting food. Did anyone watch the American Music Awards? I didn't. I rarely watch these award shows, especially the music ones. I find myself in a mix of "glad I didn't, wish I did". I did manage to see about ten seconds of Lady Gaga. Oddly enough, I had no idea who she was until Perez Hilton said her name afterwards. All I kept thinking was "Who is THAT?" I heard the next day she smashed her glass cage and I totally missed that. I must have walked out of the room for a second. Probably for food. Once I found out it was her, I had already had enough and changed the channel. I think M*A*S*H was on TVLand. It was a much better option.

I did see Lady Gaga on Jay Leno last night. I really did not find her performance interesting. I just thought it was over the top and weird. And I know weird. I have spent many years in weird settings with weird people and weird music. However, Jay talked with her afterwards and I did really like her then. She seemed pretty damn normal, but in a fun, sassy, off the wall kind of way. Maybe I should give her music another try and just not watch her perform.

Then Monday rolls around and I hear all the hubub of Adam Lambert. I do not watch American Idol (or any of those "talent/music" reality shows). And now I can't even get online to watch that provocative video because of a copyright claim by "Dick Clark Productions, Inc." Damn. I understand, however, that the West Coast airing was able to be "edited" to take out the "oral sex" portrayal. Poor West Coasters. I know what it's like to miss the good stuf!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Highlights of my week. Friday Fragments style!

I missed Mrs. 4444's Friday Fragments, so I am gathering all my little thoughts today into a post.
  • The highlight of my week was when I was volunteering at CJ's library.  The other mom volunteer said, "I LOVE your red hair.  Do any of your kids have red hair?"  My response, with a little laugh, "It's fake."  (And by that, I meant the color, not the hair.)  She couldn't believe it.  I thought I was going to have to show her my roots just to prove it.
  • The highlight of my week was a new client, who said to me half way through our session, "Jo, you are REALLY good at this."  I can't hear that enough.
  • The highlight of my week was when I was driving out of the driveway and CJ was out playing.  He flagged me down and ran to the driver's side motioning me roll down the window.  The then stood on his toes with his lips puckered to give me a kiss.  He is too sweet.
  • The highlight of my week was Sous Chef, who is not overly affectionate, walked past me and said, "Surprise hug!" and he hugged me.
  • The highlight of my week was when Big E, who is almost a teenager, said "Thank you, Mom" unexepectedly for something I helped him with.  I don't even remember what it was I did, but that "Thank you, Mom" comment is sticking with me.  You don't hear that much from tweens/teens.
  • The highlight of my week was sneaking upstairs with my husband shortly after we both got home from work.  The non-highlight was when the kids realized we were gone and two of the three came knocking at different times.  How old does a kid have to be before they no longer believe "we're taking a nap," especially when the door is locked?  Oh, and add to the fact that eventually, the cat usually makes his way to do the door and meows so loud that the distraction is just too much.  I am still in shock that with interruptions like this , the stitches, the allergies, etc. that MG permits this cat to remain in our home and loves him as much as the rest of us (though he may never admit it!).
  • The highlight of my week was a pot luck dinner.  I made the most awesome Roast Sweet Potato Salad with Black Beans and Chili Lime Dressing.  It is delicious and I came home with an empty bowl.
  • The highlight of the week was having long time college friends and their kids over for dinner.  The meal I cooked was yummy and we made homemade doughnuts for dessert.  The kids enjoyed shaking the hot doughnuts in the bags with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar.  All of our kids get along and they love seeing each other, which makes our gatherings that much more fun!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Follow up

Thanks for all the comments on my post earlier this week about the article written by Susan Klebold.

I do want to point out a few more thoughts that didn't make it into my original post. Mainly because I was so overwhelmed with that article and all the chaos it caused in my mind.

In reading that article, she did confirm my original fear that sometimes, parents can do everything right but that is not a guarantee for how your kiddos may turn out. While I know that she was not a perfect parent, hindsight is 20/20. I am guessing there are some things she would handle different and the "what if's" are probably the source of a lot of sleepless nights for her and her husband. Some of the blame may rest on her and her husband's shoulders, but mainly, it remains with the boys who committed that awful massacre. I do not believe in "not guilty by reason of insanity" but believe in "guilty by reason of insanity". Being mentally ill does not mean you did not commit a crime. It might help explain the reasons behind the crime and it might even be that one isn't in their "right" mind when the crime was committed, but the fact is, they did commit it.

I also realize that in many, many cases, one can look at the parent(s) and/or family structure and the environment in which a kid was raised and say, "Yes, that explains it." Often, blame and responsibility can be placed with the adults who raised a criminal. Those cases seem so much easier for me to accept. Knowing a kid was raised in an abusive, violent, drug and alcohol infested home with no boundaries, sadly, makes me feel a little more secure because I know my kids aren't raised that way. Though Susan Klebold's article proves that that sense of security is sometimes a false one and that is what I find so scary as a parent.

And I hope this is my last post about this, because honestly, I don't have enough Lexapro and Xanax in my arsenal of prescription drugs to prevent me from having a parental nervous breakdown if I keep on going on about this subject. Plus, I saw on the Today Show the popularity of huffing among elementary and middle school aged kids. I need to go worry about that for a while.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

There's a bully amongst us.

I have the cutest cat ever.  (Well, I do need to mention that Sassafras Williams might be in the running.)  His name is Ace.  If you visited our house, you might think he is the most spoiled cat ever.  I don't think making sure he has his own glass of ice water is really spoiling him.  It's just preserving MY glass of ice water so he doesn't drink from it.  He knows which glass is his because it's always in the same spot.  I know when he wants fresh water WITH ice, because he will hang out by the water dispenser on the refrigerator and look at me like "Come ON lady, I'm dying of thirst here!"  Then I get it for him.  Is that spoiling?  I think not.

I digress.  My point is, he is the cutest cat ever.  And I can't imagine anyone or anything wanting to hurt or antagonize him.  But it's true.  There is a great big bully that is lurking in the trees just waiting to pounce.  That bully looks like this:

Oh, alright, that might be an exaggeration.  But I think Ace thinks the bully looks like the above.  The bully really looks like this:

A bigger, older, darker and more aggressive version of Ace.  He lives in the neigbhorhood behind us and now that he knows Ace is here, he visits frequently to pick on him.  Ace is pretty small.  And he's a scaredy cat.  He will come bursting into the house (We frequently leave the door open for him to go in and out.  NO that is not spoiling him, either!) with his tail all puffy and his back hairs standing up and a look of total wildness in his eyes.  He runs for cover.  The other day, the screen door was closed and I heard that deep, throaty growl.  I went to the door and he was cowering on the deck and Bully* was hunkered down at the bottom of the deck.  I shooed him away.  Then one morning I was calling for Ace and I see Bully slink away from the evergreen trees that Ace likes to lay under. 

This weekend, though, things were out of control.  I didn't see it, but Big E had a front row view of Bully attacking Ace and both of them tumbling around the back yard and making those screeching cat noises.  Big E finally got them to stop fighting and they took off in opposite directions.  He finally found Ace with a little a limp and a bleeding puncture wound in his leg.  Other than that he was fine.  However, that Bully better watch out, because I can be one protective mama!

*Name changed to protect the not-so-innocent.  But since you're here, I can tell you, Bully's real name is Sunny.  Yes, it's true.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What if they did everything right?

The other day I went to lunch and purposefully took a specific Oprah magazine with me. I've been carrying around this issue (November) in order to read an article that I just couldn't pass up. Susan Klebold, mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine murderers, broke her silence to write about her experience for O magazine.

Like most of you, I remember the day of the Columbine shootings clearly. I was a mom to an almost two year old boy, pregnant with another and attending Massage Therapy school. Watching the massacre unfold on TV left me speechless and horrified. Once the initial chaos wore off and some of the reality of what had happened hours earlier came to light, the public started pointing fingers at the parents of those two killers. All I kept thinking was "Oh my God, those parents. Those MOTHERS! How will those mothers ever go on?" And I wasn't just thinking about the mothers whose children were murdered that day, but the mothers who raised those two killers.  What kind of parent raises mass murderers?

The next day at school, our massage teacher, who is an ex-priest, decided to put off having class to discuss what had happened the day before. To go over how we were feeling, the impact this had on our society. It was quite a discussion. The parents of those boys were discussed - What kind of parents raise mass murderers? How could they not have known something was going on? Didn't they ever check on their kids to see what they were up to? How could they let them get to the point of killing dozens but with intentions of blowing up everyone?

At the end of all of that finger pointing and having many of those thoughts myself, I remember saying, while practically hyperventilating, "What if they did everything right?"  Really, what if those parents are like most of us? What if they loved on their kids, supported them in their endeavors, gave those kids their all? Just like most of us are doing?  How does a parent live with that? How do you see it coming when there appear to be little to no signs?

The article Susan Klebold writes is insightful, emotional and heartbreaking. She will never fully recover, though she is doing some good work to help others and to help herself. It's scary because her story reinforced my question of "What if they did everything right?" It appears she was a good mom and her husband was a good dad. They had some issues with Dylan Klebold, but what parent of a teenager doesn't?  This horrific event snuck up on them and left them as shocked and traumatized as any other parent that day. They have had to deal not only with the loss of their son, but the realization that their son caused unimaginable pain to so many others. That he took the lives of so many, leaving parents, a spouse and other loved ones behind.  And they were unprepared, because like so many of us, they were doing their best and doing what they thought was right in the world of parenting.  It makes me shudder to think that more often than not, we parents do all the right things, make all the right moves, love all the right ways, but things can go terribly wrong.

You can read Susan Klebold's article, "I Will Never Know Why" at HERE.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Only in my city would this happen.

For anyone who may not know much about my little southwest Ohio metropolis, also known as Cincinnati, you might not be aware of what an uptight, conservative, closed minded, intolerant and even segregated city it can be.  I often find myself yelling at the news, shaking my head at things I over hear people say, and wishing that I lived in a hippie commune somewhere warm and free-spirited.

Our city has had issues with the KKK putting a cross on our Fountain Square downtown to represent the Christian community during Christmas when the Jewish community put up a Menorah.  It was awful.  It was embarrassing.  It did not represent my Christian beliefs.  It made the national news.  And I mean the KKK cross, not the Menorah.  I was totally cool with the Menorah, which was right next to the Christmas tree.  I would have been ok with a cross from a church or other loving community, but NOT the KKK.  I did not go downtown, though, and try to knock down the cross.  I did not go threaten the KKK members who stood protecting the cross because all the pissed off people were going there to try to remove it from it's place.  I did speak out against it to anyone who would listen.

There have been riots brought on by racial issues that make national news.  We've been in national news due to Larry Flynt and his Hustler stores which currently conduct business in our city and his past legal issues with the city in the 1970's.  We have groups like Citizens for Community Values who often go up against Stonewall Cincinnati, an organization for the GLBT community.

Well, this week has really sent me over the edge.  Earlier this week, heading into downtown, you could see this sign:

If you can't read it, it says, "Don't Believe in God?  You are not alone."  It is sponsored and paid for by an organization named CCoR - Cincinnati Coalition of Reason.  The reason for the sign?  "The point of our national billboard campaign is to reach out to the millions of humanists, atheists and agnostics living in the United States," explained the national director of the National Coalition of Reason.  When I saw him interviewed on the news, I could NOT believe there were not protestors shouting in the background about "hell and damnation".  Then the reporter said the sign had only been up for five hours.  Ahhh, that explains it.

Notice that up there I used the word COULD.  Fast forward to today.  The sign is having to be relocated to the other side of downtown due to threatening phone calls and e-mails to the landlord of the building that holds the sign.  (I'm not sure what good that will do, won't there just be threats from folks over there?)  I am ok with the fact that people don't agree with the sign.  I am ok with people speaking out against the sign - picketing, prayer vigils, shouting from the rooftops.  I am ok with people speaking out to support the sign.  Freedom of speech goes both ways and it is a protected right in this country.  However, when one tries to use that "free speech" to threaten the owner of the building, then the religious community has once again used their beliefs as a weapon instead of way to build communities and bridges to connect to others who have different values and beliefs. 

I am not an atheist.  I do have many atheist friends and even some family members.  I am not at all threatened or offended by this sign.  It does not sway my belief in God.  My atheist friends/family do not sway my beliefs.  In fact, I find it interesting and enlightening to hear their thoughts and reasons, even if I don't agree.  And I do NOT understand why a community would think that this sign warrants threatening phone calls, e-mails and notes to a landlord.  What kind of religion thinks THAT is ok?  What a pathetic example of God's love.  In fact, this behavior is right up there with the KKK cross as far as I am concerned. 
You can read the articles about this sign HERE and HERE.

(Someday, I will try to write about the good things about this city!)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's a Relish giveaway!

Abby at Me and My Boys is giving away a one year subscription to Relish!, a website that helps you with meal planning, recipes and shopping lists.  It sounds like an awesome site!  In Abby's words:
Relish! is a website that truly makes meal planning easy. With Relish! you pick from a ton of excellent, tested recipes, a very cleverly organized grocery list is automatically created, then all you do is hit the store for five days worth of home-cooked meals--not one of which takes more than 30 minutes to prepare. Perfect!
Now go visit Abby and register to win!  Although, I want to win, so maybe you shouldn't.  :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Visitors are great!

This past weekend we had friends from Kansas City visit.  If you're new here, you may not know my family lived in Overland Park, KS for three years and LOVED it.  We didn't want to move back.  Believe me when I say, no one was more shocked about that than I was.  When my husband first told me we were being transferred to Kansas, I think my response was "You want me to move WHERE?"  After our initial visit to just look around and get a feel for the area, I cried.  When we went back and the trees and flowers were in bloom and we found a house we liked, I felt much better.  Once we settled in, school started and we had made friends, we extended our stay there for a year and tried to stay permanently.  That "permanent" part didn't work out, so here we are, transferred back to Cincy.

Our visit this past weekend included a trip to the Children's Museum.  I have not been to this museum since I blacked out in 2001 and ended up having brain surgery.  I offered to do a re-enactment of me blacking out in the exact location of the original event, but there were no takers.  I don't get it.  I forgot my camera that day, or I would have taken a photo and may have even done the re-enactment with photos so I could show you guys. 

We went to the Newport Aquarium and I DID remember my camera, but then my batteries went dead.  I managed to get a few shots in before that happened.

During the next three pictures of me trying to get good shots of everyone feeding the lorikeets, I was also busy dodging bird shit.  Man, those birds eat a lot of nectar and it exits their bodies quite rapidly.  We couldn't figure out why they were selling raincoats before going into this exhibit, but we quickly figured it out.  Thankfully, we all emerged shit free, though I saw others who were not so lucky.

Sous Chef feeding the lorikeets.

CJ feeding the lorikeets.

Stephanie feeding the lorikeets.

CJ and Sophie

CJ petting the sharks.

The adults

Anyway, we ate at Skyline Chili.  We went for an adults only dinner at The Celestial which has an awesome view of the Cincy skyline.  We went to Graeter's for ice cream.  I thought I knew everything there was to know about Stephanie, but during this trip, I also learned she does not like escalators and she eats her food in groups (that is, she'll eat her salad, then all of her meat, then she'll eat her potato, then she'll eat her veggie, etc.) and she doesn't like it to touch.  How did I not know this? 

All in all, it was a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Friday Fragments on Wednesday (I'm a rebel like that!)

We have friends coming to visit, Thursday throught the weekend, from Kansas City so I will be AWOL for a few days.  I don't have a cohesive blog in my thoughts, but I do have lots of little stuff, so I thought I would turn in my Friday Fragments a little early.  If only I had been so committed to my studies!
  • I am so excited to see our friends from KC.  I haven't seen Stephanie and her kids since June and we haven't seen her husband since we moved.  Stephanie and I trained and walked the two Breast Cancer 3 Day walks together.  When you train for hours on end and then spend three solid days together - walking, eating, camping, crying in pain and emotion - there isn't much you don't tell one another.  I think I might know her better than I know myself!
  • While our friends are here, we'll be seeing some of the sights of Cincy.  Places we haven't been to since BEFORE we moved from Cincy in 2004.  Now that we are back, we just haven't gotten around to it.  My kids are excited because they are going to miss school to do some fun stuff!  The adults are excited - we are going to an adults only meal at a nice, yummy restaurant with a beautiful view of Cincy.
  • I'm not overly thrilled with the election turnout in Ohio.  I am not interested in casinos.  I don't mind gambling and it's not against my religion.  I think we've already established that I am a heathen by some people's standards.  I just don't personally gamble and don't need or want it here.  It's a business I don't trust and I don't think it will benefit our state the way they are promising.  I didn't care to see the Livestock Standards pass.  All of the animal rights activists were saying it was bad for the animals, good for the farmers.  I'm happy our Veteran's Compensation Program passed.  And I am THRILLED this one CRAZY woman is off of our local school board.  I could write an entire post about her and probably find the videos of school board meetings to post just to prove my point that the woman is W-A-C-K-Y..
  • I almost dry heave when CJ eats a pickle spear with a PB&J sandwich.  I can't think of two things that go together less.  Blech.
  • I get nervous every time I have a new male client.  It's true.  I'm always afraid it will be some pervert.  Thankfully, that has only happened to me once and it was when I worked somewhere different than now.
  • If you've followed Stellan's story but haven't check in there lately, he is a very sick little boy.  He will be going to Boston later this week for a very risky heart surgery.  You can read his mom's blog here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's Election Day!

All across the country, elections are being held.  Some are really big ones that have the potential to affect the national picture, like the Governors of New Jersey and Virginia; others are smaller, state and/or local elections.

Ohio falls into the latter.  In Ohio, we are voting on compensation for recent war veterans and constitutional changes regarding casinos and livestock care standards.  We are voting on libraries, school boards, city councils, township trustees and more.

My point today is, all elections are important.  Please, get out and vote.  I am always disappointed when I hear people say they didn't vote.  There are many reasons, usually lame.  Reasons like "My vote doesn't count," "One vote won't make a difference," "I was too busy (with sports, work, kids, school, friends, etc.),"  "I didn't know who to vote for," "I haven't registered to vote since we moved here."

Every vote counts.  Every vote matters.  We are all busy.  Educate yourself about what is happening in your state and community, get your ass to your local polling station and vote!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Shades of Autumn

I struggle with autumn because it leads to cold and grey winters here in Ohio.  When we lived in Overland Park, KS, we were shocked our first winter to see that the skies were almost always sunny and blue, sometimes with white billowy clouds.  Unless it was raining or snowing, you could count on some good vitamin D.  When we moved back to Ohio, it took us about three days of winter for us both to comment, almost in unison, that we forgot how cold, wet and grey it is here.  It is not unusual to have consecutive days of 33 degree weather and rain.  Rarely snow, which I would prefer.

So in my attempt to focus on the positive, I drove through my neighborhood and took some of the following colorful pictures.

And of course, we have to have the standard Halloween pictures.

This is my favorite picture.  Unfortunately, we no longer have this tree, as it was in our front yard when we lived in Kansas.  And the sky is grey in this picture, so I am guessing it was getting ready to rain or it had just rained.