Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Le Geek, So Chic

Christmas time is almost here, which means things are busy. CJ's birthday is Friday (he turns 4 and is very excited about it), then Tom's birthday is less than two weeks after Christmas. I almost have all the shopping done. I know it isn't CJ's or Tom's fault that they were born so close to Christmas, and I know I'm not going overboard, but I'm sure it will seem almost obscene once I get everything wrapped.

This past weekend we put up the Christmas tree, and CJ had a grand time helping us put up the ornaments and a star. Now he wants a tree for his room, and another tree in some unvoiced location. He just decided this morning he must have three Christmas trees. He also wants a lion, a fire engine, a rocketship, a cowboy, and blocks for his bath.

I've been getting into the holiday mood by cooking and baking. A couple weekends ago, I baked a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting and several batches of oatmeal raisin cookies. I've also cooked large pots of beef stroganoff, chili, and chicken and dumplings. Later this week I'll bake CJ's birthday cake (spice cake with cream cheese frosting) and I'm sure I'll make some more warm comfort food. I plan to spend part of next week making gingerbread cookies with Christopher since he asked. I've never done homemade gingerbread, but it should be fun and I can't wait to have my boy help me with cutting cookies and decorating them. It's been cold and rainy--not as bad as folks back East are seeing, but cold for the desert. CJ wants to see snow and a fireplace and snowmen. I might need to turn on the YuleLog on TV on Christmas morning!

Speaking of TV, I recently stumbled across a site called CancelCable.com that gave some wonderful information on how to cut the ties with the cable company and access TV in other ways. Some are old-fashioned, others are new-fangled, but it opened my eyes overall to how much I have been paying for my entertainment.

See, I get cable. I have for a while. I used to have a satellite dish but it came loose during a monsoon season and we could never get it aligned just right after that. I got tired of coming home to find "Attention: Acquiring Signal" on every channel. Shortly before CJ was born, we got a TiVo Series 2 with DVD burner and lifetime subscription that I loved dearly until it died. I haven't buried it yet. It sits in my linen closet while I decide whether to buy a new hard drive for it.

After the TiVo died, I got an dual tuner HD DVR from the cable company and fell in love again. Oh, how fickle I am! I like shiny things. I especially like shiny things in HD. But I read the site and started thinking about what I actually watch versus what I pay to watch, and I realized I wasn't getting quite the deal I thought.

See, I thought I was being frugal for eschewing the premium channels, but getting the "free" tier of movie channels. I never watch them. If you include football on Sundays, when the TV is on for about 9 hours for all the games, we watch about 30 hours of TV a week. Most of that is recorded via DVR and watched later (except the football games, which we watch live). It roughly equates to me paying $1 for every hour I watch. That seems like a little, but not enough of a deal for me.

Spurred by my reading of CancelCable.com, I decided to reevaluate the situation based on what I had. I have an XBox 360 that can run as a Media Center Extender. I have a PC with a TV tuner running Windows Vista Home Premium with Media Center. I have a wireless-B network that I need to upgrade anyway. I got an over-the-air digital antenna to hook up to the PC and enabled Media Center to watch live TV and record. I got a new router that I need to hook up, and a couple of plug-in ethernet adaptor to create a wired network--they use existing electrical cabling to carry the signal. Once I get that done, I'll finish setting up the XBox as an extender, which will let me watch live TV or recorded TV from my PC elsewhere in the house.

To replace my other cable channels, I'll use Hulu.com and Netflix streaming (a membership with Netflix costs less than $10 a month, significantly less than my cable service). Some shows I can catch on YouTube or on the network website.

I did have to invest in some of the infrastructure for needed upgrades, but the Circuit City stores near me are closing so I got great deals on the equipment. Plus, I'll recoup those dollars quickly once I cancel the cable service. I plan to do that shortly after Christmas, after I make sure my network is setup correctly.

One interesting thing I learned--I knew that HD signals are compressed through the coaxial cable due to bandwidth. The picture was nice enough that I didn't realize how much degradation that compression causes until I went over the air. The difference is incredible! I feel like such an idiot since I didn't know one could catch HD signals over the air. I thought you had to have some sort of converter box. Maybe it was my confusion from when HDTVs were really HD Monitors, and you had to have a converter box for the signal. I didn't know my TV could display the signal as sent without any help.

It will be a fun project to complete over the holidays. Most of all, I'm just looking forward to some time off and spent with my family instead of at the office.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Learning More About Thankfulness

Shortly after arriving home from work last night, I went to my bedroom to change my clothes before cooking dinner. Christopher was perched on the bed watching TV. Since Halloween, he assumes that whenever I'm changing my clothes, I'm putting on a costume.

"Mommy, what are you going to be for Halloween?"

"Oh, sweetie, Halloween is over this year."

"OK. Mommy, what are you going to be tankful for this year?"

This is the first time he's asked me this question, but I know he's been learning about Thanksgiving at daycare. "Well, I'm thankful for your daddy and for you."


"Christopher, what are you thankful for?"

He thinks for a few moments while I step into the bathroom and pull on a t-shirt. "I'm tankful for lion."


"Yes. And I'm tankful for letters."

"Letters are good."

"I'm tankful for puzzles!" he exclaims, pointing to his set of wooden puzzles strewn about my bedroom floor. I step over the pieces to get to my dresser.

"Puzzles are nice things to have. Are you thankful for anything else?"

"Yes. I tankful for you," he points at me, then quickly continues, "And I'm tankful for blankets!" He grabs two handfuls of my comforter as I pull on a pair of warm sweatpants, fresh from the dryer. "And I'm tankful for stepladder!" He points at the item in question, a three-tier ladder currently pressed into service as my bedside table.

"Those are a lot of things to be thankful for."

"Yes. I'm tankful for all these things I can use!"

My mind is suddenly filled with an image of Steve Martin holding a lamp, a chair, and a paddleball game. "I'm very glad you are thankful for all those things, Christopher. Thank you for sharing them with me."

"You're welcome, Mommy! Oh--I'm tankful for TV!"

This time I laugh. "Yes, honey, I heard."

Monday, November 10, 2008

I Am Thankful for Honesty

At daycare, the kids did a project where they named the things they were thankful for. Each classroom has a bulletin board in the hallway where they post such classroom projects. Christopher's teacher was putting their board together this morning, and we got to see it completed when we picked him up today.

Christopher's room had a leaf for each child and their thing, like, "Johnny is thankful for my mommy." Most of the kids were thankful for Mommy, Daddy, Mommy and Daddy, or various combinations of familial units.

One kid was thankful for his blanket. Another kid was thankful for Waffle House.

Then I saw the leaf that belongs to our child. "Christopher is thankful for T.V."

Oh, my.

I couldn't help but laugh. One of his teachers heard me howling and thought I was upset. I told her no, that I was just so proud that our son loves TV more than ANYTHING.

Another teacher told me it could be worse. A few of the older boys replied, "Guns," and had to be steered in another direction.

Thankful for TV, huh. Oh, well. I suppose it could be worse.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

333 Is A Magic Number

I feel like I should be handing out cigars. The count just rose to 338 while I was turning on my PC, but it doesn't matter.

Obama won, and I feel like the weight of the world is lifted from my shoulders.

As I write this, 62% of all votes have been counted equaling over 85 million votes. The final tally will definitely show a record turnout for an historic election, and I am proud to have done my part.

I have nothing more to say. Still absorbing the impact. But I have hope.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Puzzling Potty Practices

I am actively asking for advice--I want to say that upfront. I am completely befuddled about what to do, and I welcome any suggestions.

CJ will be 4 in December, and we've been working on potty training for almost a year. We had backed off a bit when it became clear that he had the concept and could control his bladder but was seeing potty training as a control issue. Rather than press the point and come to an impasse, we pointed out the potty, explained that we'd like him to use it, and left it be.

Occasionally, he would go on the potty, but more often he chose his pullup. We tried using daycare as an incentive--we already knew from his teachers that he was in the last room until he was potty-trained and that many of his friends had already gone to the next room. A few weeks, the woman who runs the daycare approached us about moving CJ on into the next room. She explained that she was positive that he could go on his own, but was choosing to be lazy since he could have a pullup changed rather than stop what he was doing. She also felt that since he was nearing four, and many of his classmates had just turned three, that he was too comfortable in his routine and needed the additional mental stimulation (the new room is set up like preschool).

After discussing the pros and cons, we agreed. The transition took place within a week. He's been in the new room for a few weeks and the change is incredible--except for potty-training, and not the way I expected:

He goes without complaint during his time at daycare. He stays dry, goes when prompted, goes on his own, and really seems to love going potty. At home, nope. We put him in underwear and celebrate his successes, but he will usually pee on the floor rather than go to the toilet. Just tonight I've changed three wet pairs of underwear and Tom changed one pair of poopy underwear.

He knows he needs to use the potty--he tells us he peed on the floor instead of going. He doesn't seem to have bladder issues since he can be dry through the night and doesn't have this trouble at daycare.

For whatever reason, he is just refusing to go at home.

We've tried stickers, toys, and books as incentive. I've even offered Dum-Dums. None of it matters. I'm at the end of my rope. I'm trying to be patient like I'm supposed to be for potty accidents, but I really don't think this is about accidents. Part of me wants to enact consequences like I do when he doesn't listen or willfully disobeys in other ways but I don't want him to get mixed signals.

Any suggestions?

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Few Thoughts on Arizona Proposition 102

Again this election Arizonans are asked to make their vote heard on defining marriage as between a man and a woman--this time, in the form of a state Constitutional amendment. Forget the fact that Arizona law already employs this definition and outlaws civil unions. The argument is we need it to "protect" us from those pesky "activist judges" who apparently have nothing better to do than to grant equal rights to gays and lesbians.

The intersection near my house is littered with SIX signs urging me to vote Yes! to 102. Never in my life have I wanted more to use my Second Amendment rights to exercise my First Amendment rights against those signs--but apparently that isn't permitted under Arizona law.

If marriage is truly a sacred institution between man and wife granted as a covenant by God, as these supporters contend, then I think they don't go far enough to protect marriage. Just preventing gays and lesbians from marrying their partners doesn't fully protect that covenant. If marriage is to survive as these supporters envision it, here are some extra steps they need to take:

1. Put marriage back in the church. No more marriage certificates, no more Vegas wedding chapels, no more civil ceremonies conducted by a Justice of the Peace. If you want to get married, you must marry your heterosexual partner in church officiated by your pastor. Don't go to church? Sorry, you can't get married.

2. Abolish all legal benefits of marriage. Since marriage is performed in church and has no legal standing, you and your spouse may no longer derive any legal benefit from your marital status. No more joint tax filings, spousal health insurance benefits, or rights of survivorship may be granted under law. Everyone files taxes independently and secures his/her own insurance. If you want your spouse to inherit your 401K, you better cash it out before you kick it. All inheritance would go to your children, like God intended, or to your church.

3. Revoke all divorce laws. Courts may no longer dissolve marriages since there's no legal contract to dissolve. You said till Death do you part--now you have to live up to it. No petitions, no decrees, no custody arrangements. Churches can decide how to dissolve a marriage, if that's even an option for your faith.

My daddy always told me if you're gonna do a job, do it right; don't do it half-assed. Come on, Arizona! If you're going to vote Yes! to 102, make sure you do everything else to protect this sacred covenant. Otherwise, it'll just look like those who vote Yes! are just voting for hate and discrimination.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Harper's Bizarre

I go for months without saying a word, and then the conventions get me all riled up. Here's the latest.

Remember that weird yellow dress with the winged collar that Cindy McCain wore on Tuesday night? Well, her entire outfit cost her over $300,000.


I am supposed to believe that her husband understands the impact on the economy when she's out there wearing almost 300 grand in jewelry? This kind of largess staggers my mind. With that kind of money, I could pay off my house, my car, and wipe clean all outstanding bills for the rest of the year and STILL have tens of thousands left over.

This is the party that understands the middle class and the working poor?

I can barely wrap my mind around spending the equivalent of three mortgage payments alone on a dress. That pearl necklace would cover daycare costs for three years.

John Edwards got nailed leading up to the primaries for a $400 haircut. McCain can't remember how many houses he owns, and he gets a nomination? Cindy Lou Who spends more than the average 2000 pre-tax income of 99% of Americans on a single outfit for a convention, but Barack and Michelle Obama are the elitists?

I think Strangeite is right about Htrae. I just don't get it.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

It Ain't Easy Being Green

John McCain is making his big nomination acceptance speech in front of a giant green screen. Crayola green. Kermit the Frog green.

It certainly does its best to emphasize just how hale and hearty this 72 year-old cancer survivor is.

I smell another "Make McCain Interesting" contest coming on.

(Note to self: find some good video editing software)

Update: The Green Screen Mystery is Solved! Turn out that the green was part of a larger image, specifically the lawn at Walter Reed, uh, Middle School. You gotta click that link to read the full story!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I Made This!

Pardon my rudimentary Photoshop skills....

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

So Many Shades of Wrong

Bill Clinton just finished his speech at the DNC, extolling the virtues of Obama and leading to Biden's speech, and the house band played him off with "Addicted to Love".

Are they ragging on Bill? How is that an appropriate choice? They played the entire first verse and part of the chorus, stopping abruptly when it was time for the title line.

Permit me to break my months of inactivity by plaintively wondering--WTF?!?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sometimes I Wish I Were Charlene*

Catching up on TV from the DVR list tonight, I'm watching last night's Colbert Report.

Incidentally, this is one of CJ's favorite shows. He loves the eagle, and gets very excited whenever we watch "Bear Pore".

Anyway, I read the article on Yahoo this morning about the Colbert Bump in reference to Hillary's appearance last night. I didn't know that John Edwards also made an appearance and did one of the funniest and smartest monologues I've seen in sometime.

Oh, John. I'm so sad things didn't work out this year. I would have voted for you, if you hadn't dropped out five days before our primary.

I'm still behind you, and I'll see you in four years. You'll get my vote, and you won't even have to buy me a jet-ski.

*a cyber cookie to whomever gets the reference.

But Not the Hippie-potamus

I typically check the blogroll either at night, shortly before bed, or at work while I eat salad at my desk for lunch. This means I usually don't have the chance to respond as I would like. The past couple days, I've read several interesting blog posts from people I know (or knew, like Roy) and people I don't know (like Steph, and Rae) on the meanings of the word, "hippie".

The posts piqued my interests for two reasons. One, I've been reading the article on Larry Brilliant in the most recent Rolling Stone. Brilliant is the executive in charge of DotOrg, Google's recent launch into the world of corporate philanthropy. Brilliant is not a typical Silicon Valley CEO--he travelled across Europe to New Delhi with Wavy Gravy in the 70s, toking the entire way, arriving at an ashram of a guru. At the guru's urging, Brilliant travelled back into India and helped medical workers eradicate smallpox from the known world. In the 80s, Brilliant founded the Seva Foundation, dedicated to healing the blind, and ponied up the money for The Well, an early bulletin board think tank dedicated to the digitized sharing of ideas. He was friends with Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, and won a TED aware for his work at using technology to develop early warning systems to detect pandemics. (I'm going my memory here, so if I got a detail wrong, please don't bust my balls over it). Anyway, Brilliant is an old hippie functioning in the corporate world.

The second reason is that I might be a hippie myself. I had some very eloquent thoughts on this subject morning, but instead of blogging I had to complete over 40 process and subprocess flows, so my thoughts may be rougher than the genius that struck me earlier. Bear with me.

Members of the M-Clan can vouch for my hair length since they've seen me most recently. I may have cut an inch off since then, but not much. I own a hybrid vehicle, replaced all my bulbs with CFLs, recycle my junk mail, cans, and plastics, and until the soft real estate market set in, had plans to mount solar panels to the roof of my house. I don't wear makeup, hate wearing dresses, and decline to shave my legs. My dream is to have a little patch of land to grow my own veggies and be as self-sufficient as possible, but reality is that I have to work.

My work is in the corporate realm--information technology--translating very geeky things into common English, driving project plans, defining processes, and leading a team of analysts doing the same types of things I do. A very non-hippie job. A very yuppie job.

I am a study of contradictions. I am a nerd, a geek, a dweeb, and a moron. I am a twisted freak, a loving mother, a decent cook, and an indecent wife. I'm a raving humans right liberal with a fiscal conservative bent. I mutter obscenities under my breath when I pay my quarterly HOA dues and tsk-tsk judgingly when my neighbors leave their trash cans outside their garage doors. I turn my music up, tell the kids to get off my xeriscaped non-lawn, refuse to grow up, and mourn the spoiled nature of teenagers today.

The things is, I don't necessarily apply these labels to myself because I defined their meanings and truly understand what they represent. These are labels placed on me by others in an attempt to define who I am. It seems very common to me that as a people, we categorize and generalize in an attempt to bring order and obtain easy explanations to complicated issues. As part of that process, we label each other because it is easier to understand a label than it is to understand the complexities of each human brain.

And yes, I know that I'm generalizing human behavior, and I get the irony. I think this particular generalization is valid. I'm been thinking about the need to categorize, understand, and explain a lot the past few weeks since Battlestar Galactica came back, but that's another post.

I guess my point is that I am all of things while not being any of these at the same time. I just am who I am, which doesn't seem to be acceptable for those who have to apply a label.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

BareNaked Java

DISCLAIMER: I am not a programmer. I work with Java folks, and I don't pretend to be as smart as them. This struck me as a funny idea and I poked through the Java help forums for beginner stuff. If it isn't structurally sound, I'm not surprised. And yeah, pretend I did the indents, cuz I did, but stupid Blogger won't show them.

class IfHadMillionDollars {
public static void main(String [] args {

switch (purchase) {
case 1: System.out.println("house"); break;
case 2: System.out.println("furniture"); // chesterfield or ottoman; break;
case 3: System.out.println("k-car"); // reliant automobile; break;
case 4: System.out.println("your love"); break;
void buildTreeHouse(){
if (isHelping){ // effort not as hard
tinyFridge--; // pre-wrapped sausages (bacon == null)
switch (purchase) {
case 5: System.out.println("fur coat"); // coat == real; break;
case 6: System.out.println("exotic pet"); // llama or emu; break;
case 7: System.out.println("Merrick's remains"); // crazy elephant bones; break;
case 8: System.out.println("your love"); break;
void gotoStore(){
if (rentLimo){ // cost is increased
kraftDinner--; // fancy Dijon Ketchup
switch (purchase) {
case 9: System.out.println("green dress"); // dress == real; break;
case 10: System.out.println("art"); // Picasso or Garfunkel; break;
case 11: System.out.println("monkey"); // I have always wanted a monkey; break;
case 12: System.out.println("your love"); break;
System.out.println("I'd be rich.");

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Latest Police Stats

NOTE: I did not make this, although I wish I had.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Random Silliness

In case it wasn't already obvious, work and life have been kicking my ass lately. The MMWP has grown to gigantic proportions, and my days are filled with meetings leaving little time (except evenings and weekends) to catch up on emails and regular work.

Tonight is one of the few nights I've been able to successfully boycott working after dinner.

As a result, most conversations between Tom and me consist of me ranting while he listens as we come home, or us cracking jokes while listening to Stephanie Miller on the way to work. A few nights ago, I spotted a new billboard on our commute route--a Spanish McDonald's board advertising, "Sausage McMuffin con huevo".

This spawned some predictable responses:

"What do they call a Quarter Pounder in Mexico?"
"Does Mexico use metric or imperial?"
"Metric, I think."
"What's the Spanish word for quarter?"
"What's 'Royale' in Spanish?"
"I got it--they call it the Quarter Pounder con queso!"

I spent a good deal of time amending everything I saw with "con huevo". It's just fun to say. Billboard for healthcare? "Cigna con huevo!" City bus with a PSA plastered to the side? "Just say no con huevo!" Be caller number 9 to win tickets to big concert, "Kansas con huevo!"

Somewhere around there, things took an odder turn. Tom has a smattering of French from his childhood spent growing up 40 miles from the Canadian border, trying to get a peek of boobies from the CBC programming coming from Montreal. I recall ridiculously little of my 2 1/2 years of Spanish--just about enough to translate "con huevo". I asked Tom what quickly became a dangerous question:

"What's the French word for egg?"
"Uhff?" I was trying to curl my mouth around my teeth but it wasn't working right. My French pronunciation is pitiable. "How is that spelled?"
"Well, that there's your problem! There are entirely too many vowels in that word!"

Tom laughed. "French has that. Remember 'oui'?"
"Wee? Oh, oui! Oui!
"Why do ya ask?"
"I was wondering if the French call it, 'Sausage McMuffin avec oeuf'."
"I'm sure they have a different name."
"I hope so. Avec oeuf isn't as cool as con huevo!"

This is about the time when I morphed into Beavis. "Huevo! Con huevo! Necessito huevo por mi queso! Si!" Then it was time for another of my stupid questions. "Hey, if I go to France, and I order two eggs, would I ask for "duh uff?"
Tom repeats it, something sounding like a pretentious pronunciation of deserve.
"Where'd the z come from?"
"When the x precedes a vowel, it sounds like a zed."
"Zed? Since when are you kiwi?"
Tom ignores me. "Zed. 'Deux oeuv'."
"Duh uhv...wait--where is the v coming from?"
"Plural. F becomes a v. Deux oeuv."
"What about three eggs?"
"Trois oeuv, I think."
"Cinq oeuv."
"Sank oeuv?"
"Your pronunciation sucks."
"I know!"
"Just sayin'"
"My mouth isn't made right."
"What oeuv?"
"No, I said uh-huh."

Tom's making a turn onto another surface street, and I realize we've been carrying on this silliness for almost twenty minutes of our ride. Tom is counting in French under his breath, while I'm still pondering the whole oeuf to oeuv thing and this mysterious zed. "So French has a hidden Z?"
"Is there a silent q?"
"There are silent t's and silent r's."
"Yeah, tons of those."
I try counting to ten as Tom laughs at my attempt, "Uhn, duh, twah, cat, sank, seize, set, wheat, nuff, deesay."
"You said deesay. Not deesay, dix."
"Yep. What's deesay?"
"Deesay? Oh, dice. Twelve in Spanish."
"Oh, OK."
"So, Deece uhv?"
"No, dix oeuv." He says it again like he's drawing out deserve.
"I thought that was two eggs?"
"No, deux oeuv, dix oeuv. It's different."
"Not different enough if I'm ordering. I don't wanna ask for two eggs and get a dozen."
"Ten, not twelve."
"Nuff of."
"Nine eggs. Neuf oeuv."
"As is, 'I've had enough of neuf oeuv?'"
Tom laughs. "Yeah, that would work."

What's really weird about this whole conversation?

I'm allergic to egg yolks. I'll never order eggs in any language.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

All That Gas

I was checking my email a few moments ago when I heard CJ wildly laughing in our bedroom. I had set him up earlier with an Animaniacs DVD and decided to go investigate to see what was tickling him so.

It was a Great Wakkorotti cartoon. In this one, Wakko "sings" Blue Danube completely in belches, unhinging his jaw in more and more impossible ways until a great big burping finish. That was what my son was finding so funny. It reminded me of something I wrote about five year ago, when I actually owned slippingreality dot com and was giving running a website a try (it died a painless death, but that's ok. It was a fun experiment with FrontPage).

Anyway, here's what I wrote--please to enjoy:

Farts are funny.

It's a fact. Everyone knows this, even children. When I was a kid, my dad would make a production number out of his farts, leaning in the doorway and cocking one leg up, knee bent, to let one rip. He did this to much amusement from my sister and me, and to much consternation from my mother. I used to think his beaming expression after one of these displays was in reaction to the giggle fit coming from us; now I know that his grin was the result of his own amusement.

When visiting the family last March, I babysat my nephew, 5, and my niece, 2. We were watching Nickelodeon for the eighth hour when a commercial came on featuring an animated lawn mower which ate grass and belched. My nephew loved it. He imitated the noises and laughed, and looked at me and said, "Burps are funny." Then my niece, who was nestled in my lap, looked at me with her angelic face and announced, "Farts funny, too!"

Farts are usually dismissed as a juvenile attempt to make people laugh without substance, but Aristophanes used flatulence as a humor device in many of his early plays, most of which are considered classics. Some modern movies are falling back on the fart jokes, and are becoming box office hits.

Why are farts so funny? Part of it is the word. Fart. Fart fart fart. It's fun to say, and it's hard not to laugh when someone says it. Part of it is the sound. The fart doesn't have to be real; a polyester clad posterior on a leather chair can provide hours of entertainment if the weather conditions permit. The sounds can be tiny or thunderous, and can sometimes contain harmony if done just right. Tom can sound like a brass band after eating popcorn. This is why we don't go to the movies very often.

Sometimes farts are funny only to the ones who smelt it, and not the ones who dealt it. During that same visit last March, Tom's niece wanted to show us her dance routine. To the Backstreet Boys. I won't go on that tangent now. Her dance contained mostly gymnastic movements, and at the height of her cartwheel, she erupted with a blast that was rather impressive for her small size. Initially, she was embarrassed as Tom, his brother, and I resembled three monkeys who could speak no evil as we fought laughter. She yelled at her brother, who was singing the praises of her flatulence from the doorway, until he began to blow fart noises on his arm and she started to laugh and finished her dance. The noises brought her back from the momentary horror. Of course, she had to start her song over, but again, I won't get into that.

Me? I don't fart.


Farts are funny. It's an incontrovertible fact. And I'll try to remember that tonight when Tom pulls the covers over my head.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The New Year's Day University of Phoenix Insight Jobing.Com Tostitos Fiesta Post

It's been a very good vacation, the longest we've taken at home in sometime. Tom goes back to work tomorrow, and CJ returns to daycare, but I'm still off through Monday. I'm hoping to continue the progress we've made on the homefront, and complete a bit of online training before returning to work.

We started off slowly, recovering from last minute Christmas shopping, birthday festivities, and general stress. Since last Thursday, we've managed to reorganize some clutter in the living room, tackle Christopher's messy bedroom (truly like entering the Heart of Darkness, I emerged muttering, "The horror; the horror." My fault for buying him all those toys, I suppose), and do a complete Clean Sweep of our bedroom.

I don't know if you've ever seen Clean Sweep on TLC--homeowners get help clearing out their junk rooms. A decorator and carpenter redo the rooms while the homeowners sort out the mess before it goes back into the house. I watch for two reasons: 1) I feel a little better about being such a packrat compared to people who have rooms so full of stuff they can barely open the door anymore, and 2) It gives me ideas on how to tackle my own clutter problems and make things more manageable.

In the living room, I got some large baskets to fit under the coffee table and end tables for CJ's toys. I know a lot of parents have those huge trunk-type tables, but we foolishly bought our furniture in our child-free days without thinking about where we would need to stash crayons, puzzles, and several plastic dinosaurs. In CJ's room, I sorted through his clothes to pull out what he's outgrown and stashed them in a container that fits under his bed. We'll put the clothes out at a yard sale in a few months. Our bedroom was a much larger effort--it had become a catchall for various things throughout the house, my clothes were stacked on top of my dresser for lack of room, and Tom wanted to change the furniture arrangement.

First, Tom helped me go through my clothes and I pared quite a bit from my wardrobe. I felt some guilt; as a kid, we didn't have a lot of money, so anything I bought to wear I had to wear, whether I liked it or not. I don't buy clothes often, but I have a closet full of blouses I've worn once and then realized I didn't like them, shirts and pants that didn't fit right after a few washes, and other t-shirts and things that I hesitated to throw away once they became ragged, thinking I would fix them. I was pretty ruthless--I made a big pile for yard sale and made enough space for everything to fit. Then we went through baskets and boxes of junk and sorted those out, and managed to store most of it under the bed. Finally, we moved the furniture around per Tom's idea, and it's like we've discovered a whole new room! We now have space for a couple chairs in there so we can sit and watch cartoons with CJ in there, or get away and read.

I should mention this is all stuff we've been wanting to do for most of the year, but got derailed through various means.

We also managed to get out of the house a few times. Today we went to get coaxial cable and special fasteners so I could run cable over the bedroom doorway from the outlet (we moved the TV to another wall), stopped at Chik-Fil-A for yummy chicken, and all got haircuts. There were a few moments where I began to freak while Tom got his haircut--Christopher didn't recognize Tom without his glasses and long hair while dressed in that black cape and got rather upset, insisting I go with him to help find Daddy. Once Tom took the cape off, put his glasses on, and spoke to CJ, CJ was fine with it. Tom watched CJ while CJ and I got haircuts. My stylist was very good, but was a little too enthused by my "virgin hair". Apparently, hairdressers don't see untouched, uncolored, unpermed, completely un-product-covered hair like mine, and she ran her fingers through it quite a lot. Enough so that Tom asked if she was hitting on me, but I don't think she was.

Right now, Tom is in bed sleeping since he has to wake early tomorrow. Christopher is still fighting bedtime, so I'm still up until I'm sure he's asleep. For the past two hours, he's tried laying on the couch in the living room, then I brought him back into his room. Last I checked, he was busily covering pictures in a board book with black crayon then wiping it off with a diaper wipe. It's one of his favorite bedtime activities.

Hope the New Year brings good things to everyone. I'm hoping it brings more great moments to my family like the ones we've had this week. As boring as the events may seem when written down, this has been one of best vacations in a long time.