Friday, October 31, 2008

Last Minute Halloween Costume

Sometimes kids are wonderful. As you tell from my recent posts, life is a little crazy around here. Poor DD has felt the stress. She has really wanted to be Sarah Palin for Halloween, but without a car, getting the glasses, shoes, and outfit has not fit into our schedule very well. Instead of throwing a fit, she came up with an alternate plan which I think is genius and simple.

At first she was thinking about being a specific singer, but who could tell one from another. Then she came up with the idea to be an American Idol Contestant. She printed up an American Idol number to pin to the front of her shirt and a golden ticket to carry around: A costume with a total cost of about 10 cents. Genius, I say. . . GENIUS.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Leaf Blower For Hire

It snowed yesterday. Not a pile of snow, but a few flakes. Winter is coming. DH called to say in was snowing in MA and then DS called me outside to see that it was snowing here too. Of course, my reaction was a little different than most . . . I took my son’s boots, fired up the leaf blower, and blew the leaves. I know this seems like an odd reaction, but one year we got caught with the leaves on the ground when it began snowing and we didn’t see the ground again until spring. What a mess!

So I have now become a leaf blower professional. I have now done it three times this year. I am quite proud of this new talent, so I’m thinking I may add it to my resume – educator, office manager, & leaf blower. Ok, maybe not, but if the economy continues perhaps I could use it for a couple extra dollars (let’s hope not ; ) ).

My prior favorite one to add was hot dog cooker. Each year we would have an open house at my father’s company and I always got stuck in the refreshment area which meant that I was in charge of the hot dogs. The hot dogs cooked on a Ferris wheel type rotator. Now, one would think that this would be an easy job, but it was actually quite complex. You had to figure out proper loads, because the machine could not be off balanced or it would start throwing hot dogs out the front as the baskets that the hot dogs sat in started to sway. And you better have tip top reflexes because you had to get the hot dogs off the wheel while it was moving, but without disturbing the flow of the machine. I think had this been a paid job, I may have been fired, but after several years of practice, I am now an official hot dog cooker too.

What cool talents can you add to your resume?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Political Opinions Wanted

What do you think about Obama buying a half an hour spot on the major networks?

Have campaign costs gotten so out of this world that the idea of an average person ever running has disappeared forever?

Do you think given this economic time it is reasonable to spend millions on air time for a campaign?

Do you think that you can buy an election by just overspending your opponent?

Does this go against what our forefathers had envisioned?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Books - One good / One bad

I enjoyed “The Year of Living Biblically”so well that I have begun AJ Jacobs “The Know It All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World”. As I tend to be interested in doing strange things like this, I was intrigued by the topic. Also, I really enjoyed, the conversational tone of the “Year of Living Biblically” and was kind of sad when I closed the book, so I look forward to entering AJ’s and his family’s life again (It is kind of like a book form of reality tv).
I’m only a little way into it, but it is interesting and it has given me little talking points without actually having to read the encyclopedia myself. I’ll let you know what I think of it when I am done.

FYI – The worst book that I ever read. Ok, not worst in writing, I could appreciate his writing style, but the worst in complete and utter depressiveness was The Road. I was reminded of this the other day when my father and I were in a book store and we came by it. It has kind of become an inside joke. His friend, Nancy, had given it to him to read. After reading it and realizing how depressing it was, he thought he could pull a fast one on me. He gave me the book and gave it very high ratings indeed and made sure to mention that Nancy had read it. Nancy and I had discussed many good books and often had similar reading interests, so I looked forward to this new one. On the positive side, I will say that it was a quick and easy read. I will say that he created a fine example of an apocalyptic novel. However, I found it a very depressing and disturbing book. Frankly, I have enough of that in my own life and don’t need it at that level in a book. Most books go in and out of difficult stages. This book goes for depressing and never rises above it. I will give the father credit for his staunch support for his son and his unfaltering hope. Anyway, when I saw my father after finishing the book, I could not help but question his recommendation. His response was laugh and laugh and laugh. He then explained that Nancy had gotten him and so had to get someone else. I have not opted to “get” anyone with this book and instead have put out a warning unless for some reason you are an overly optimistic person and need a downer, you better make sure that you have Prozac with you when you read this book. Actually, unless you have read every other book in the world, I would recommend staying away from it altogether. (Sorry Cormic McCarthy. Sometimes art can be great, but I may not want to hang it in my home.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mental Games for the Brain

As many of you have heard recently, surfing the web helps to stimulate the brain and possibly decrease the odds of alzheimers. (This is good news for all of us bloggers.)

Puzzles and other mental games are also another great way to keep the brain active and work out our mental muscle. So until we all get our Nintendo DS with Brain Games,

here are some online Sudoku for you to work out with.

(For those of you who homeschool like we do, you will find that these mental exercises have a double benefit because you will work out your brain, but at the same time you will inspire your kids. I have my Sudoku book out and guess who I found working on it this morning. Math practice without even an assignment : ) )

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What do you do when you break down on the side of the road?

Yup, I broke down. The overheat light came on, I hoped I could get of the next exit, but I could feel the loss of power and pulled over. The oil light came on.

Step One: Pull over to a safe area if possible, as I sat in the car I wondered if there really was a safe place as I could feel the car shake as cars zoomed by. (It is amazing to me how many cars can go by without anyone stopping to help)

Step Two: Say a little prayer to thank God that one it happened on the way home from your new job and two that you did not breakdown in the city.

Step Three: Call your husband, who in my case proceeded to ask me what I wanted him to do about it. Although it is hard to talk when you clench your teeth, I was able to get out, “Perhaps, you can come get me.”

Step Four: Get the oil and anti-freeze out of the box in the back and check under the hood to see if you can do anything. Of course when you see fluids all over the road, there was not need to go any farther.

Step Five: Call AAA and wait for help.

Now I just have to wait for a call to see if this is a demise of my 12 year old van.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Computer Access for Kids

It is a love hate relationship! I personally love the internet. It allows me to learn and find out things that either I would never know or it would take me forever to access. On the other hand, I hate the internet. It is the portal to ruining your teenager. They have access to everything. Even when you give them a little leash and freedom, they access more – sometimes without you even understanding or knowing what they are doing.

As the experts recommend, our computer is in a public place in the house, but apparently they are quick to minimize. I do appreciate reflections in dark windows though.

It is funny, to us old folks, we are afraid that every keystroke is visible to someone else on the web. To the younger generation, I think they think of the computer as a shield that no one can identify themselves through.

I’m not sure that the good outweighs the bad. It used to be that you could protect your children if you just kept them away from the bad characters or the bad sections of town. Now those things have direct access to your own living room.

I have now changed the access to our computers so that only I can log the kids in. Therefore they can only use it with my direct absolute supervision, as opposed to reasonable oversight, but unfortunately I’m sure it is only a matter of time before they figure out how to get around that. Hopefully, their frontal lobe will have developed by then.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How to Fix a Leaky Toilet

It is like water torture in our house. The toilet keeps refilling about every 15 to 30 seconds. I had mentioned it to DH who keeps pooh-poohing all the jobs left to get the house in perfect shape for the market. I got so frustrated I actually went online to try to find out as much as I could and maybe fix it myself. I learned that scrubbing the seal in case gunk had built up can be any easy fix. I figured that would be an easy place to start and I probably couldn’t screw up too much.
Daringly, I tried it (I don’t have a real good track record on such home repairs). Some black stuff came off but it did not seal any better. Then the seal stuck up and all the water drained out of the toilet. Of course, we only had minutes until another showing and I was freaking out. When I finally got the seal working again, I was not going to touch it anymore. So on it continues to run.

I have begged, pleaded, and, yes, nagged, but to no avail. I tried to explain how a buyer would perceive it, but there was / is always something else to do. Sure enough, what comment comes back from the last showing, “Did you know the toilet’s running?” I forwarded the realtor’s comments to DH. This morning, I think I have him cornered and we are going to go to Home Depot. Of course there is still the light switch, the door, and the trim to get done too. As my father said last night, “Right now, I bet you wish you were renting.” Meaning that we could just finish the lease and be gone instead of this protracted sale. As always, fathers are right.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Do your children get into Webkinz?

My kids have been obsessed with them for a couple of years now. Even my 13 year old still wants Webkinz. Now I have to admit that some of the stuffed animals are very cute, but I am so confused by the games on the computers. DS was just explaining to me that he thought the Chihuahua might be November's pet of the month and if you added him next month you would get an extra token. Of course I'm so lame that that didn't mean a whole lot to me. He said that you need ten tokens to make the wishing machine work (don't worry that didn't clear it up for me either)or more for something specific. You can get all sorts of things from the wishing machine like a quad, milk truck, and so on. At least Webkinz are better than furbies.

One night I go so fed up with furbies chatter, I actually killed it. I took the batteries out and I finally hid it. Worse than furbie were these darn virtual Pet things. I believe they were made by a couple different manufacturers.

They were cute at first, the kids could take care of their own pet, but they soon became annoying and obsessive. And then those virtual pets led to virtual pets on the computer like DD became a slave to the computer. If you didn't feed, brush, wash, and exercise the animal at appropriate times,you were "killing" your animal. DD practically went into seizures when we went on a trip and did not have access to "care" for the animals. Mind you I don't think the welfare of our own animals crossed her mind once. (For those of you who think such a cyber animal teaches responsibility - my first hand research says "NO").

At least the Webkinz, let the kids "take care" of their pets, but don't penalize them for living life in the real world, nor do they make horrible repetative sounds in the middle of the night. This trend may be a keeper.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ringtones that Adults Can't Hear

Can you believe that there is a high pitched ringtone that adults don’t hear the same way teenagers do? DD found it on a website for ringtones (She is still dreaming about getting a cell phone). I could only hear the faintest noise, certainly if it was a cell phone in my purse, I would never hear it. Frankly, I’m lucky if I hear it if on full blast. I looked up information and got mixed information, but the basic concept seems to be that adults lose the ability to hear certain frequencies. Even if adults hear it, we don’t hear it to the same extent that teenagers do. If you want to try to hear it, check out the story on NPR.

If only I could get her to talk to her friends on the phone in that tone then my house would take on a new peace. (I don’t really mean that because then I wouldn’t know what she was up to, but a woman can dream).

Congressman Courtney Responds

DS had to write to a Senator or Congressman about an issue that he cared about. He wrote to Congressman Joe Courtney about the importance of maintaining our national parks. Today, he received a reply. He was so proud. My I-hate-to-read son read the entire 5 paragraph response. While I’m sure it was written by some assistant, I can’t tell you how much it meant to him.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Crocheting for a Cause

Aside from playing games with daughter that she found in Discovery Girls magazine, what did I do today?

I made baby caps for Knit One, Save One. As I mentioned on my on Mission Mondays, Knit One, Save One is a project of Save the Children. The program combines a need for infants with political advocacy. So I found some of my x-sister-in-laws yarn that she left behind and then had to pray that I could locate one crochet hook (I wasn't able to in my house, but I called my dad and he found one of my mom's), and off I went. Three hours and some odd minutes later and several YouTube videos later, I had three baby caps ready for mailing.

Perhaps you may be inspired to try the same, either for this program or for others. Winter is coming and the economy is getting tougher, it may be difficult for all of us. But these caps sure made me feel better, if you need a pick-me-up, pick up your knitting needles or crochet hook. If you are not sure what to do with them, YouTube is a great resources. Keep searching until you find instructions that make sense to you.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Natural Artworks

Sometime when you do your chores, you find little moments of grace. DS is fighting a nasty cold so I did his chores today. As I brought the compost up to the compost pile, I found this tree:

Isn't it beautiful.

Here are a couple other art pieces that God made to decorate my yard.

I got to see them up close as I got to leaf blow for the first time in my life. When we ran out of gas, I finished the old fashioned way with a rake and a tarp. Man, can leaves be heavy. Sadly, tonight you would not even that I worked on the yard. Ok, my muscles know, but people looking at my yard would not.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mom Time in the Morning

Honestly, I am not a morning person, but on those rare mornings that I am up early, like this morning. I find a special bit of peace and tranquility. This morning, the dog had to go out and DH was already running late, so I got doggy duty (that wasn’t meant as a pun, but . . .). When I came back in it seemed silly to try to go back to bead, so I crushed some coffee beans, got my book, and spent some me time.

I never understood the idea of me time until I lost it when the kids were very young. It seemed that I was always spending my time for everyone else and never had a moment to think my own thoughts or follow my own interests. I finally started to enforced bedtimes that allowed me time to have after they went to bed. However, I often would be too tired to do anything. I often read of mothers who get their time before their kids get up, but not only don’t I usually like morning but, also in our home, mornings were almost impossible to glean as DD rises with the sun. I would have to get up at 4 in the morning or earlier. As she enters her teen years though, mornings are becoming more of a possibility. I don’t have to worry about DS, who would sleep until noon if he could.

There is something special about that time when all in the house is quiet. The outside world is asleep and the light is altered either the dim morning sunrise or the calming dark warmed by a single light. Right now the light is amplified and altered by the golden reflection of the leaves. I’m not sure why the light makes such a difference, but there is a comfortable warmth that fills me.

I’m not going to starting setting my alarm clock early, but I do appreciate special morning times when they come unexpectedly.

How do you glean me time? Do you think that me time is important?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Movie Review - The Forbidden Kingdom

Kung Fu is really not a genre that I am too crazy about, but DS wanted to rent a movie. As he has not been feeling well, I relented. He chose The Forbidden Kingdom and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. There is just the right combo of morality, fantasy, and Kung Fu. Obviously there is fighting, but no real blood and guts.

Jackie Chan and Jet Li co-star in this tale. As always Chan’s moves will engage you and the story will intrigue both young and old. The Chinese setting will be made new for another generation and you won’t even have to read sub-titles. This movie of good vs. evil, right vs wrong is bound to become a classic. There is even a female heroine who can surely hold her own against any man.

So pop some popcorn and dial up The Forbidden Kingdom on OnDemand or PayPerView. You may even want to add this one to your DVD collection.

My favorite quote from the movie,
How can you fill your cup, if it is already so full?
Empty your cup

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Breast Cancer Site - Help is just a click away

Here is another simple way to help towards a cure. It doesn't cost you a dime. Just remember to go to this site daily and click. You can also help be spreading the news and getting others to do the same.

The Breast Cancer Site

While you are there, take time to look at the other sites that you can help with just a click.

Shopping List

My grocery shopping trip yesterday:

2 boxes fruit pops
2 cartons of orange juice
2 packages of Halls throat lozenges
A bottle of cold medicine

You called it. Our household is sick. Last week DD had an earache. This week DS’s throat looks like craters on the moon. As poor DH, flew out for a business meeting, I reminded him to pick up some Airborne, or he will be the next to drop.

Monday, October 13, 2008

100th Post - 100 Blessings

I was first introduced to the idea of literally counting my blessings by Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance: The Day Book of Comfort and Joy.

Certainly, I had heard the saying “Count your blessings”, but I had never actually written them down. This idea of writing down five blessings every day so changed my view on life that I bought Sarah Ban Breathnach’s associated journal, Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude and kept a journal of my 5 blessings for a year.

(Right now I figure there are two distinct groups of you, One that is saying “five blessings, that’s easy” and another group saying, “five blessings, I can’t even think of one today. I challenge both of you to try it.)

Writing my blessings down changed my entire mindset. I spent all day looking for the blessings so that I could write them down. As Phillipians 4:8 says, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things,” so you shall.

So for my 100th post, I have decided to come up with 100 things for which I am blessed.

1. Knowing and learning about God’s word.
2. My faith
3. The fellowship of my church
4. The sacrifice of God’s Son
5. Singing
6. My husband
7. My husband’s faithfulness
8. His sense of humor
9. His physical strength
10. His emotional support
11. His ability to earn a dollar
12. His willingness to put his family first
13. His warmth
14. His logic and worldliness
15. His cooking skills
16. His sense of direction
17. My daughter
18. Her independent spirit
19. Her faith
20. The ritual with her – forehead kisses
21. Joint interests with my daughter
22. The gift of watching her develop her creative juices
23. Her beauty & health
24. Her inquisitive spirit
25. Her knowledge of technology & her willingness to help me with it
26. The me-ness in her & the her-ness in me
27. My son
28. My son’s sense of humor
29. My son’s cuddliness
30. My son’s unique view of the world
31. My son’s health
32. My son’s interest in cooking
33. My son’s strength
34. My son’s artistic talents
35. My son’s naturalist tendencies
36. My son’s love of a spoken story
37. My son’s fuzzy head
38. The soft fur on our dog, Max, especially his ears
39. The cuddling tendencies of our cat, Bandit
40. Being born in the USA
41. The strength of my birthmother to carry me for 9 months and then give me up
42. My parents wanting a child with all their heart
43. A home
44. Heat
45. Food in my fridge
46. Flavored coffee & herbal tea
47. Great friends
48. Good books
49. Authors willing to expose their souls and their talents to others
50. An education
51. Great teachers along the way: Mr Adams, Mr Dyer, Miss Bielitz
52. My job
53. Seasons
54. Fall ‘s colored leaves and crisp ear
55. My van’s ability to keep on trucking
56. My father and my daughter’s shared interest in sports
57. The local coffee shop
58. Medical advancements and technologies
59. My devotional reading
61. Paper (I hadn’t thought of this one until Elisabeth spoke to us about Haiti and the scarcity of paper there)
62. The internet’s ability to bring me the answer to almost any question I have.
63. Hiking trails
64. Simplicity of New England Churches
65. A quilt handmade by my birth grandmother
66. A tight knit community
67. A daily warm shower
68. Great, funny, entertaining tv
69. A nap
70. Emails from my friends
71. Clean running water
72. Refrigeration
73. My health
74. A clear mammogram
75. Spending time with my children
76. Museums
77. All technology that makes my life easier (i.e. washing machines)
78. The smell of a home cooked meal
79. Our big king bed
80. The sound of ocean waves
81. Snuggling in bed as the sun cracks through the shades
82. The crackle of a fire either in our fire place or our fire pit
83. The feeling I have when an idea comes to my mind
84. Coffee with my dad
85. The wildlife in our backyard
86. Opportunity
87. Snowflakes, especially when they lay wet on the branches going down my driveway creating a snow tunnel
88. A long front driveway to always see who is coming
89. A garden to grow our own vegetables
90. A yard for the kids to play in and the dog to run in
91. The light of the moon when I walk the dog at night
92. Fresh air – living in a house where no one smokes
93. Enough disposable income to see the theater and travel at least a little
94. Reliable electricity
95. My leaded glass front window
96. My ceramic blue coffee mug especially when it is warm and I cradle it in my hands on a cold day
97. My right to vote
98. The foresight of our forefathers
99. The cracking of a glass ceiling that will be shattered for my daughter
100. Freedom

I’m sure I could go on, but 100th post, 100 items. I will continue to count them on my own to remind myself how lucky and blessed I am even in some of the most simple ways. For example, the red fox that the kids and I saw last week while traveling in Mass. It was a blessing to see it, but then it stopped and stared at us for minutes so we could take it all in.

Thank you for taking the time to come by my blog. I look forward to 100’s more posts.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Halloween Costume

Ok, I wasn't going to post this quiz because I wasn't crazy about some of the language / ideals in the answers to choose from, but when I got my ideal costume, it was too funny not to post.

Most of you out there don't know me personally, so this won't be as funny to you. For those of you that do know me,you should get a good laugh.

Your Halloween Costume Should Be

A Girl Scout

The inside joke is that this would be my costume, my real life costume. I have been in Girl Scouting for 30 years and have been the leader for three different troops. I've been a service unit leader, trainer, and Service Unit cookie manager. So if I walked around in this, most people would think that it was a regular day.

If you decided to take the quiz (despite my warning about some of the language), let us know what you come up with.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Going Pink for October

If you will notice, we have gone pink for October. When I saw the button on a fellow blogger’s site, I knew that we had to join in. Unfortunately, too many friends of mine have dealt with cancer, not just breast cancer, but all different types. In fact in 2001, I lost my mother to esophageal cancer. We have been blessed that most of the other women have won the battle, but our friend Mary succumbed to breast cancer leaving her five homeschooled children without a mother. And about a week ago, a dear friend of ours was diagnosed with breast cancer, so going pink could not be any more apropos.

This year was actually my first mammogram. I was very nervous about the whole idea. It was just supposed to be to gather a baseline to compare all future mammograms to, but then I got the note that what they found was questionable and I would have to go for a second mammogram. It wasn’t anything conclusive, just questionable. I wondered if I was going to be the next in a list of too many women friends that have battled for their life. Very fortunately for me, I had the follow up mammogram about a week ago and have received the all clear. But this will be the beginning of annual breath holding. Women should have their baseline mammogram taken between 35-40 years old and then annually thereafter.

For all those friends that have battle breast cancer, we need to spread the word, educate woman (and men), and raise money for research to irradiate this disease forever.

Have you had your mammogram this year?

Can You Run a Better Campaign?

I think that you have probably noticed that I am a bit of political junkie and I certainly enjoy political humor. If you do, check out Cafe Press. They are having a contest for political slogans and designs. No matter which side you are on, you should have a good laugh. If you are witty or an artist, perhaps you can add your own design or slogan - there are prizes.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Halloween Happenings

Inspired by Queen Bee and our first October showing, I’m going to go Halloween.

One of my DH’s favorite activities is carving pumpkins. If you knew my DH, this would truly surpise you, but DH gets into carving pumpkins, building gingerbread houses, and creating snowmen. Of course, if you do any of these activities with him, you will see his OCD emerge. We can’t just build a snowman, it has to be the perfect snowman with perfectly round proportional snowballs. You can’t just scrape a pumpkin; you have to remove any evidence of any seeds and sludge. You don’t just cut a simple face in your pumpkin; you carve a masterpiece. Here a few of the pumpkins that have graced our steps.

I guess it is time to start looking for new templets. DS loves to surf the web to find great templets. It is funny to watch him try to hold himself back when the kids carve.

I guess we should also start thinking of a costumes. Too bad there are no babies in our home, these are too cute:

After we get through the costumes, DH will prepare the yard. He always wishes that we could afford more goulish items, but he gets a big hoot out of placing spooky music playing from our woods.

Most of all, I hope it will just be good weather, because I am sure that it is my year to walk the block (again! I'm not sure what happened to the rotational system, but it broke down pretty early - - -I can only default by extreme illness).

Happy Halloween and thank you Queen Bee for getting me thinking.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Stupid Signs in America

I have got to share with you a sign that the kids and I saw yesterday as we drove around MA looking for house. Granted we were in the booneys, but this seems to be one of those unneccessary signs. "When cattle in road STOP". I've got to tell you that I'm not really sure what the other options would be. Cars may be bigger than cattle, but they would make a heck of a speed bump.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Christmas Gift Ideas

They say it is always good to dream. So when I was on today and say a widget for Neiman-Marcus' Christmas wish list, I decided to click away. I needed a diversion from no health insurance and a cancelled showing. And I found dream gifts for everybody:

DD, a horse enthusiast, who hasn't been able to get back into horseback riding because we just can't afford it right now. She will take one Three Chimneys Farm Thoroughbred Racing Stable Package - "You want the best, you go to the best. You want a working, turnkey, in-the-running thoroughbred racing enterprise right out of the starting gate? You go to Three Chimneys Farm. The legendary Kentucky farm has managed some of racing's winningest thoroughbreds, including history's only undefeated triple crown winner (a little guy named Seattle Slew). For this exclusive package, you get the works because Three Chimneys means business. They will build you a stable of 12-15 thoroughbreds and with your input will train them, house them, select races, enter them in races, provide you a personal racing concierge, and manage the entire enterprise for the next four years. As the owner, you get to name your stable and any unnamed horses, design your own silks, attend races, pose for pictures, give quotes to the media ... and keep all the purses and trophies."

DS loves legos. So I thought the Life-Size Replica in LEGO® Bricks would be best. It is described as "Acclaimed artist Nathan Sawaya is obsessed with LEGO® bricks. Uh, trust us, he is. He fills his New York studio with more than 1.5 million of the interlocking toy building blocks, and he can sculpt anything out of them — a full-size Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton or a 7-foot-long scale replica of the Brooklyn Bridge, for example. Given the skill and depth of his devotion to his art, it makes perfect sense to immortalize your own magnificent self with our 2008 His & Hers gifts. Send in detailed photos and measurements, then Nathan gets to snapping and BOOM! One-of-a-kind, life-size sculptures of yourselves in LEGO bricks. We priced our exclusive gift individually, so Nathan can "brickalize" you and the S.O., the kids, Granny and/or anyone else you obsess about. (Just make sure you have the rights to their likenesses; we're not here to judge.) "

There is even a perfect gift for DH - Authentic Guinness® Home Pub "There are plenty of reasons to raise a pint to the Irish. Saint Patrick, the Blarney Stone. One of the greatest occurred in 1759 when young Arthur Guinness founded a brewery at St. James's Gate, crafted a hearty, distinctive stout, and won a place in our hearts forever. Celebrate the 250th anniversary of that first delicious keg with our exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime gift. The folks at RiRa Pubs will design a fully functional, traditional Irish pub and build it in your home in 2009. It will be crafted from historic Irish architectural elements and authentic Guinness artifacts. There's also a VIP trip for two to Dublin with first class airfare, luxury accommodations, and insider access to the magic still being made at the historic working St. James's Gate brewery. (All members of your party must be at least 21 years of age.) Plus fresh Guinness Stout for your pub. For an entire year. "

Granted the total cost of these gift would be higher than our new house, but hey at least its a dream. They may end up with a horseback lesson, a box of legos, and a bottle of beer, but at least the thought was there. Check out the Neiman-Marcus Christmas Book to dream a little yourself.

Monday, October 6, 2008

No Health Insurance - The Real Economic Crunch

Today brought to the forefront the crux of yesterday’s rant.

DH called at about 2pm, “Your worst nightmare has come true.”

I couldn’t even think. I thought he was kidding. “What are you talking about?”

“XXXXX is going out of business.” He went onto explain that the employees of the company that we used to work for were asked to leave the premises on Friday and that today a police officer was standing outside the shop. Now you are probably asking how this affects us if we don’t work their anymore, but one, they owe my husband money for commissions and two, our health insurance is covered under COBRA with them. As I explained yesterday, we can’t get put on the new company until we move to MA, we can’t move to MA until the house sells. Anyway, I called the health insurance administrator and to make my day, he informed me that my insurance was not ending at the end of the month which is bad enough, but that it was retroactively being cancelled to the middle of last month. I tried very hard to compose myself and object because we had not only paid for September already but also for October to which he nicely replied, “We’ll be sending you a refund.”

Of course, I’m calculating the full cost of DH’s meds for last month, plus DD’s trip to the pediatrician, and my mammogram. I’m thinking this is not going to balance out. Of course, I may not have elected the pediatrician and mammogram if I knew that I did not have health insurance.

While we are trying to mull through the very few options that we have available, DH breaks the mood with, “On the positive side, I found an Alaskan quarter today.”

So here is the summary of my day, my family no longer has health insurance, but we have an Alaskan quarter. You’ve got to laugh, because otherwise you’ll end up crying in a locked bathroom (ooops that was earlier today.)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Trading Spouses or Trading Houses?

Talk about being caught in the economy . . .Grrr! We went to look at houses (and I saw the room with the map – it could be used as an office) today, but I’m just not sure that it is worth our time. Without our house selling, we can’t move. However, if the old company goes out of business or next September comes, we will be out of health insurance. I don’t blame people for not wanting to move right now given the economy, but I have to move and I need someone to buy my house.

I have begun to blame HGTV and such shows that show perfect houses. My house is not perfect, but it is in very good shape. Whoever buys this house will buy a better house than our family bought 12 years ago. We thought that we would be here forever so we didn’t start with the cosmetics like the kitchen and bathrooms. We focused on the big ticket items furnaces, gutters, roofs, and a new bay window. I have no one makeover my house and given the fact that we keep dropping the price, it sure doesn’t inspire me to spend more.

My husband and I have always worked hard and been honorable (or at least tried to be). But I am beginning to wonder what is right and what is wrong. Correct me, but I believe that our friend Joe Biden mentioned the other night in his debate with Sarah Palin that banks should work to alter the rates and the PRINICIPLE of homes that are being repossessed in this crisis. My home is not being repossessed and we work hard to keep it that way. I am not opposed to the banks working with those in financial trouble. I think they should work to adjust the rate or the term, but the PRINCIPLE. Could someone take that special marker to my house first? How would you ever decided who deserved a reduction? Or how much they deserved? How is this fair to other homeowners let alone taxpayers that are not homeowners?

I realize that like the Parable of the Vineyard Workers I should not worry what others get or don’t get, but one, this is the ultimate redistribution of wealth – taking from those that can barely afford it so that they soon too need a handout from the government and two, if we don’t make this change by the time our health insurance expires we will fall to that level anyway. Also, DH is commuting everyday to Mass. Thank goodness right now his boss is paying for the gas, but if that stops then we won’t be able to afford to get him to work. And while his boss is paying for gas, it doesn’t make up for the mileage that is being put on the truck, eventually it will give out and then all we’ll have is another bill.

I’m trying to think outside the box and even found a house online for less than $50,000 in a small town in Mass. Although it might need a lot of work, we could at least move up to it and use it as our primary residence, thus moving us to Mass and allowing us to be residents and therefore making us eligible for his new employer’s health insurance. It would be inexpensive enough that we could wait for this house to sell. After that, we could buy what we originally planned and either rent or sell the other home. Where would I get the $50,000 given the credit crunch, you ask? I will admit the idea of Trading Spouses crossed my mind - - anyone know their web address? See the economy has made me delusional.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Vote on Capitol Hill

I officially do not understand politics. Monday this bailout plan is unacceptable and fails in the house. In the meantime the Sentate piles the bill with pork and now the Congress may pass it. WHAT?

We'll know in a couple of minutes, but this is disgusting.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Recommending a Book to Read

Have you ever been embarrassed or sorry for recommending a book to your book club or to a friend?

I am currently reading Away by Amy Bloom. I had mentioned it as a possible read for our book club previously. Fortunately someone else in the group had read her work and recommended against it. Mind you, this is not because it was a bad book (so far it is rather good in fact). However, some of the content is rather racy and probably not appropriate for a church reading group.

The problem with choosing books for a book club is that there is an expectation that you know that the book is good. Frankly, I don’t have time for that. I’m lucky if I have time to read a book once let alone twice.

The last time I got caught mis-recommending was for the book Mists of Avalon. I had taken cue from one of the public radio hosts that I admire, Faith Middleton. On her book show, she had recommended a quick read. Boy, did I get an earful when people picked up the book and found it to be 912 pages long. Even I looked a little critical at it. I enjoyed the read, but many did not enjoy the female side of the Arthurian Legend.

You would think I learned my lesson but I definitely cannot be relied on to read the book in advance, but I will be surfing more for people’s comments on books. You’ll notice I’ve already added a book blog for review on my blog reading list. As always, I also appreciate any suggestions.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Have you made a bucket list?

DH is watching the new Knight Rider and they were just discussing their bucket lists. Do you have a bucket list started?

For those of you that don’t know what a bucket list is, it is a list of things to do before you die. There is actually a movie called Bucket List, but I haven’t seen it. I need to put that on my list of things to do, but I don’t think it quite qualifies for my bucket list.

Number one on my bucket list has to be visiting Italy. Maybe number two is taking a cruise. I definitely want to write a book too.

What is on your list?