Obama vs. Putin: A Chest-Off ~or~ Off of Whose Pectorals Does the Sun Glint More Brightly?


~~~~~~~~ or ~~~~~~~~


Remember, people, this is important. Vote early, and often (use the little scrolly thing...it ain't perty, but it was easy)!



Wii Fit can bite me


So, I got a Wii Fit for Christmas...I had my son, who is ten, hook it up to our Wii system. He's better at that than I am, and my time is far better spent losing at WordTwist on Facebook. He went through the whole syncing process, etc. (Oh, and I beg to differ WordTwist people...'lumen' IS a word).

When he got to the Body Test area (the one that would tell me my BMI is atrocious, I am sure), the freaking thing started to spaz (technical term). It kept telling us to "Step off the board and press A." Ummmmm...we are not on the board, NEVER were on the board. My son kept pressing A. And pressing. And pressing. And pressing...

My kids wanted to cry, so I spent ages online trying to suss out the problem. Nothing worked. Talked to customer service at Nintendo today, and after some shrugging on their end (I could *hear* him shrugging), they decided to try sending me new software. If that doesn't work, it's the plank for the board.

At least I don't know my BMI yet.


Why is there a helicopter in MY sky?

This morning my husband and I were lounging on our family room sofa...snuggled under a thick blanket, coffee still steaming hot. Our kids were in their rooms, all occupied with whatever, and so we just enjoyed a few quiet adult moments until the fun of the day really got started.

He was telling me about something going on in the neighborhood, or in the family, or at work...I don't actually remember, and frankly it's not relevant here. What IS is my response to his story.

Me: Do you know why?

Him: No.

Me: Ugh. I don't like a mystery.



(I blink slowly at him, unsure as to where this is going.)

Him (imitating me): Shhhhh! Is that a helicopter? I wonder why there is a helicopter flying over our house.

Me: (raising one eyebrow, as if to suggest, you really want to do this?)

Him (still imitating me): Whoa! There it is again! That's twice. I wonder what is going on.

(Pretends to dial phone.)

Him (talking into his hand): Hey. It's me. Is that Matt? He hasn't left for work yet?

(He nods, as if listening.)

Drag, I hate it when mornings start like that. Look, have you heard any helicopters fly over your house? They've been circling; they were flying your way. Can you see it? I wonder if it's the police or military or what.

(Stops talking and nods again, continuing to pretend to look out of a window.)

You can hear it? Really? Can you see it? Look out front; it was heading west. OH! It's turning around? Okay, I'll watch.

(brief pause)

Oh! There it is again! Something is definitely going on. No, you're right, it's the police. Hmmmmmm...I wonder...

At this point, tears are running down my face because I totally do that kind of stuff. All. the. time. If something is out of the ordinary, I try to figure out what's going on around me until I can create a narrative that satisfies me.

What's best is not that was he so spot-on in mocking some of my quirkiest behavior (which he totally was), but that I know he finds it endearing. Okay, perhaps not at the time when I force him to explore different "scenarios" with me (because, say, he is a captive in my car), but it's part of the package that is me, and he loves me.

It's nice to be totally understood, oddities and all, and unconditionally accepted.

It was a great way to start the day.


Who woulda thunk I'd do a "frugal" post?

So we bought gas today. No big whoop, right?


Yes, we paid just under 38 cents per gallon.


Check it out...we filled our minivan (I was running on fumes) for under six bucks:


It seems that our grocery store (Safeway) has some weird points thing...you spend money and accrue points. We've been accumulating points for ages. I had no idea.

The other week my husband was lucky enough to have a cashier who spent a few moments to explain just how valuable those points were. (*Warning, boring explanation ahead.) They are running a promotion...every "point" accumulated amounts to ten cents off per gallon of gas. We had thirteen points. That's $1.30 off the price of gas...so instead of 1.68 per gallon (which is already cRaZy cheap), we spent $0.379. Ummm...wow.

So anyway, when someone tells you it is too good to be true, don't believe them. It just might be that good. Or better.


Brain Zaps. A tutorial for the rest of you.

So, I'm totally off the Zoloft. It's been a looooooong process.

I started stopping in June, and I just finished stopping last week. I was only on 50 mg daily (which is the starter dose. It worked for me, so I never upped it; the max is 200 mg daily).

My weaning wasn't scientific, but it was gradual. I began every three days or so taking a half pill, or 25 mg. After a few weeks, I upped it to 25 mg every other day. Eventually I was at 50 mg every third day. After a while on that, I went to 25 daily.

Then the process started all over, with me halving the 25's (I asked the pharmacy to give me sixty 25 mg tablets, rather than thirty 50 mg). Once I was on 12.5mg per day, I gradually introduced days that I didn't take anything at all. That's the part that took the longest.

So here I am, five months later. I haven't had a single milligram in about ten days, and so far pretty good.  I'm more emotional than I've been in years...I was never one to cry, and right now I can choke up at the drop of a hat.  Frankly, I am thinking this is a good thing.  More on that another time.

Right now I want to focus on the bizarrest of bizarre withdrawal symptoms.  If you've been on an SSRI, you likely know what I'm talking about.

Yup.  Brain Zaps.

Before I went on Zoloft, nearly three and a half years ago, I read about this phenomenon and thought, "That sounds awful!"  Ironically, the anecdotal accounts I'd ready about it pretty uniformly said something akin to, "They sound awful, but they aren't.  In fact, they are oddly pleasant."

They are tough to describe.  Essentially, for me, a Brain Zap feels like an electrical current briefly runs through my head, starting at the back of my skull.  Not unlike a friction shock, but totally NOT like a friction shock in that it doesn't hurt at all.  Just the fun part of the jolt.  And yes, if you've had a Brain Zap you'd know there IS a fun part.

Brain Zaps were always my cue that I was behind on my Zoloft.  If I missed a day, and went too long the next day, sure enough...zzzzzzzzzzztttttt.  Oh, right, gotta take my Zoly.

The strangest thing about this (and yes, the strangest part is  yet to come), is the physical action that would proceed the BZ.  It seems BZ's require, again, at least for me, a quick eye movement. Not a simple annoyed eye roll (if that were the case, I'd pretty much have them constantly when running low on Zoly).  

No, it requires a faster motion than that.  

A quick over the shoulder glance.

Eyes darting to the other side of the room because I think one of my kids is trying to sneak some cookies.

A sudden look upwards after opening our hall closet because something is about to fall on my head from our overstuffed hall closet that I keep nagging my husband to sort through because I am not tall enough to reach the upper shelf otherwise I'd do it myself.

(oh, sorry for that tangent.)

Anyway, that's the Brain Zaps.  

Here's what I didn't expect.  I am still getting them.

They are, however, far less intense than anything I'd experienced while actually on Zoloft.  There is just this faint little zzzztt.  Kinda like Zoloft is saying Hi!  Remember me?  We used to hang out?  Ummm...thought I'd check in.  

I do remember, Zoloft.  You were good to me.  Thanks for all you did.  You helped me at a time when I really needed help.  I'll always remember you fondly.  

Now, Zoly, go work your magic on the next person.  And don't let those Brain Zaps freak them out.


Breakfast. It's not for breakfast anymore.


I am having a very hard time with breakfast these days.

First off, I pretty much hate sweet foods (before you start chucking things at your monitor, rest assured...I more than make up for the calorie deficit that occurs because I can easily pass up a chocolate mousse by eating FAR more than my fair share of pizza).

For whatever reason, breakfast foods seem to be loaded with sweetness. From cereals to pancakes to french toast to...well, you get it.

Ah! But Christine! How about the savory delights of quiche? And toast dripping with butter? Or a bagel slathered in cream cheese?

Sigh, yes. That is what I prefer for breaking my fast in the morning after a cup or three of java (the first of which my husband brings to me while I am still in bed)(~ducking again~).

Sadly, I have gone wheat-free.

But why, Christine? Why? Are you un-American? Are you against those golden waves of grain?

Wow. That's stretching it a bit. Let's get back on topic, 'kay? My eliminating wheat stems from an odd confluence of events, and quite honestly it's not a very interesting story. Suffice it to say that I realized that it might be a good idea to eliminate wheat.

I tried it.

It was good.

So while this not eating wheat is making all meals tough, breakfast is the hardest hit. I feel like I'm on a no-carb diet every morning...my go-to meal is a scrambled egg conglomeration of whatever we have on hand. It usually consists of eggs (derrrr), cheese, and perhaps spinach or red bell peppers. Deeeelish!

But not so delish day after day after day after day after day after day after day after day after day after day after day after day after FREAKING day...

The other snag is that I am super lazy in the mornings. I have never woken up fast, nor easily (see above, how hubby has to bribe me to wake up with coffee delivered bedside). What this means is, if my husband isn't making me some egg concoction, in all likelihood I'll just scrape together something, like rye crackers and cream cheese. Or a pre-hardboiled egg. Or a handful of lunch meat (EWWW!).

So, I beg you...help me. Do you have any suggestions as to what I can eat for breakfast? Something savory, not sweet. Easy to prepare in advance that is also wheat free?

If you are a lurker and have an idea, please de-lurke. I need some serious help here in the Non-Sweet, Non-Wheat Recipes for Breakfast Department.


Horse Manure!

The other day my twenty-one year old (FBNOML) was enjoying some quality time with my nearly five year-old; they had out my childhood set of plastic horses. I couldn't resist joining them for a couple of minutes, even though my younger one kept asking me if she could have her sister to herself.

I agreed to leave, but not until I showed them the very specific ways I would arrange them when I played with them.

"See," I said. "The Mommy horse goes like this, and the foal is nursing. This one is from a different set, but I always pretended he was the Daddy and I'd kinda curl his head around the Mommy's, because they love each other."

"And this white one rearing up, this one is the playful big brother. I'd always set him here. This other one is the uncle who visits sometimes, his saddle is broken but that's okay. The galloping Appaloosa, he'd be the neighbor."

When I was done, I gazed at my display, remembering how much I loved playing with them as a child. I was never one to play with dolls, but these horses were my babies. At one point I had a beautiful white stable with green trim...the stall doors opened, and the roof came off for a bird's eye view. When it broke during a move I was devastated.

My little girl snapped me out of my reminiscing when she grabbed one of them and announced, "I don't want him to be the uncle. He's a sister."

She continued, "When Emma is here and we are playing with the horses and we want to make the boy horses be girl horses, we just pretend that their penises are poop."

Really, what do you say to that? Moreover, how can you say anything when you are failing miserably at not laughing hysterically?

So I managed a, "Oh, that's very inventive of you two!"

All the while I was thinking, The horses are anatomically correct?

I was also thinking, Man, I wish I would have heard that conversation as the two little girls muddled through the conundrum of just how to explain that little plastic bump on the underside of the boy horses.

Another part was questioning, If you're going to pretend, why don't you just pretend the horse "penis" isn't there?

And yet another part was marveling, How awesome that you two use the word "penis" without hesitation!

But mostly I was wondering, Aren't you afraid the pretend poop is going to fall off?


Lawrence Welk Skit on SNL

I don't know about you, but right about now I could really freaking use a good laugh. Here at Casa Watch me! No, watch me! our DVR is getting worn out watching the following...enjoy!

Okay, just watched the vid from here...sorry for the commercial at the end; I was unawares.

Speaking of which, have you noticed that I ditched the couple of ads I had? I'm in the midst of some serious fall cleaning and they just didn't make the cut. No Watch Me Christine is paring down, baby!


Rainbows & blogging templates

I think I need to shake things up around here. Get back in the groove of writing on a semi-regular basis.

I don't know what my deal is. I've got some sort of blogging writer's block. I have about five or six gazillion posts in my queue...none of them completed. I start writing, stop, stare at the screen, say, "Eh," and walk away.

What's up with me?

I haven't told you much about my most awesome new house. Or the fundraising auction that I am organizing for my daughter's preschool. Or that I've lost weight since quitting Zoloft (yea me!). Or that our finances are really starting to look up (despite the fact that my husband's in the banking/mortgage industry. But he's one of the good guys!). Or. Or. Or.

Maybe it's just that I started using this bloggy here as a vent for all the negative stuff going on that I forgot how to write about wonderful things...like rainbows and soft, fluffy kittens and life going well.

It probably also has something to do with the fact that I still don't have my own laptop. Or camera.

Oh! Good! Something to complain about!

Except that I am probably getting a camera this weekend. Not for sure, but probably.

AND, it's looking pretty good that I'll be getting a new computer by the end of the year.

Great! NOW what am I going to complain about? It's not fair! I don't have anything to complain about, dammit!

Oh! Excellent! That's what I can write about...how much my life sucks because everything is going so flipping well.


I dunno. Maybe I should play with the template. That's always fun.


For Colleen...

Many years ago, I discovered a wonderful online community that would go on to become a huge part of my life in ways I couldn't have fathomed at the time.

I was no newbie to forums. I became an addict to online communities way back when in 1997 when I was on bed rest while pregnant with my son...but in this one, for whatever reason, I became part of a group of women who clicked in a special way, we resonated. Eventually we splintered from that open community and started a private forum, because we realized that we wanted to share private information with each other in a safe place. And we've become friends.

Lifelong friends.


We've been with each other as babies were born, as families moved across countries, and between countries. We've laughed together, cried together, bitched together, commiserated together, celebrated together.

To be sure, our road hasn't always been smooth. We've had passionate arguments, virtual doors slammed, hurt feelings...just like any other friendship.

But ultimately, this is an incredibly unique group of women, and we love each other.

Now, one of us is dying.

Colleen is dying.

I type that, but I don't believe it. Not in my heart.

I still somehow believe I will get around to tracing my daughter's hands on a piece of paper, like Colleen asked me to, and she will knit my daughter a pair of fingerless gloves to match the pair she sent me two Christmases ago. I had all the time in the world to get to that, or so I thought.

It's been very sudden, rather unexpected. She has two very young children.

She also has a lot of people out there who love her. Our group isn't her only online community...and there has been a convergence of her online contacts. We are powerless to save our friend, but we can help her children.

To that end, there is a fundraiser being planned that will contribute to a college fund for her son and daughter; a wonderful variety of handmade items will be auctioned off from October 28-November 4.

From the website of those organizing:

Colleen has touched many of our lives with her intelligence, wit, humor,
generosity, talent, and amazing outlook on life. The ladies here at Tiny Lady
Cooperative have had the fortune of being business partners with her, and many
others have enjoyed her fibers and yarns. Friends from real life, as well as
online, have rallied together to show Colleen how much we love, support and
admire her.Please join us October 28th-November 4th as we host an event to raise
funds for Colleen and her family. All funds raised will be placed into a college
fund for her children.Thank you in advance for your generosity in supporting
this event.
One last thing...if you have children, hug them extra hard right now. Hug anyone you love extra hard the next time you have a chance.

Hell, hug anyone the next time you have a chance.


If you were a fly on the wall in our house...

...you'd likely hear something along these lines:

Me: Hey, do we have any Diet Coke?

Hubby: Nope!

Me: (bats eyelashes in an exaggerated manner)

Hubby: Fine! (grabs car keys and heads to store)


Hubby: Hon, this cheesecake is delicious.

It's dense, but not too rich.

Me: Hmmmm, kinda like you.

Hubby: (beat) Good one!

Me: I aim to please.


Hubby: Have I seen the staple gun recently?

Me: I have no idea, I still don't have access to your retinas. (taps foot)

Hubby: Oh, yeah...I'll work on that.


Me: Why did I ever marry you, you prick?***

***Okay, I didn't say that one. In fact, my husband suggested I include it here.


Location, location, location!

The Past:

Last year, at this time, I was lamenting the impending sale of my dream home.

Last year, at this time, I was freaking out...trying to keep the world together for my kids while simultaneously dismantling it. I didn't know where we were going to live. I feared being homeless.

Last year, I was scared and angry that I was facing one of my worst fears. Financial instability. And not thrilled with the pity.


The Present:

This year, I am loving the new home we moved into last month. Still renting...but as much in love with it as we are the "dream home" we sold.

This year, I learned that location doesn't matter...what matters is, we are a family that loves and laughs together. Location, location, location...irrelevant.

This year, I realized what I knew all along...money isn't what is important.


I didn't need this financial kick in the ass to remind me of this...as I said, I knew it all along.

But I'm here to tell you that living it brings it all home.


Not a Post-Modernish Post

So, yeah, I haven't posted in DAYS.

I could give you my host of reasons, but really...you know them all.

A glimpse into my internal dialogue:

I've been moving...the unpacking seems endless (YAWN, again with the move. Your readers are OVER that. YOU are over that!).

It's a new school year, our schedules are whack (Yeah, ummmm...it's, fall!).

I don't have my own laptop (AGAIN, YAWN. You are sick of that excuse, how about your readers?)!

How about a throw-away post...you know, one to let them know I'm-thinking-of-you-but-I-am-oh-so-busy. (They will hate you. You will hate you. That isn't you.).

THEN, I thought, I could write that post (which I just did, see above), and then reference it, which would make the post cool, because it would be all post-modern and shit.

But, I wonder, NOW, that I've acknowledged that it's post-modern, how cool am I? Or, not? Does my acknowledging my post-modernism make be uber-post-modern, like how Woody Allen would pull it off, or is it just lame and self-congratulatory?

All I know is I have to hit publish, because my lappy battery is dying.


More from the Peanut Gallery (or, Peanut Allergies Suck)

When my daughter was eighteen months old, I left her with a friend while I ran a couple of errands (had to pick up my eyeglasses, and zip to the local running shop to buy some paraphernalia for my upcoming half marathon). It was the first time I was leaving her with someone other than a family member, and I was ridiculously nervous.

My friend, whose daughter was (and still is) bestest friends with mine assured me that she'd hover over my girl as much as she does hers. I thought to myself, It's only thirty minutes, she'll be fine.

Twenty-five minutes later, as I hopped into my minivan, heaving a sigh of relief because I was headed towards my girl and could scoop her into my arms in mere minutes, my cell phone rang.

It was my friend, "Does your daughter have a peanut allergy?" she asked.

"I don't think so; we've never let her have peanuts. Why?" I answered.

"Just wondering. I have some granola bars here that have peanuts in them. Wanted to know if I could let her have one."

"No, please don't. I am keeping her away from peanuts until she is three. I have food allergies; I am super paranoid!"

At this point I was nearing her house, so we hung up.

When I got inside, the rest of the story was made clear to me.

My friend, who loves my daughter dearly, asked me, "Does her lip look swollen?"

Sure enough, my daughter's lower lip was swollen, just on the right side. My friend had given the girls a granola bar to share; as soon as my daughter put a bite to her mouth, her lip swelled up.

Thankfully my friend was savvy enough to know what was going on. She confiscated the bars, and watched my daughter with a hawk's eye. She's CPR trained, was at one time a First Responder, so she knew what she was doing, and what was going on. Her call to me was as much about finding out my location and how soon I'd be arriving as anything.

We watched my girl for hours; I called the pediatrician and followed their instructions. Later that week a trip to the allergist confirmed that not only did my daughter have a peanut allergy, but a severe one.

How could that have happened? An allergic reaction never happens on the first exposure to a substance. It takes at least one prior exposure for the body to build an immune response...the first time is always a gimmee. I had never given my daughter peanut butter, or any peanut product in the past.

Or had I?

Peanut oil is widely used in a variety of products, and machinery that processes peanuts also processes other products that don't have peanut ingredients. Clearly my sweet girl had been exposed to peanuts at least once prior.

Labelling has come a long way. Now companies are required to inform consumers if their product has peanuts in them; many go beyond that requirement and add if the product shares equipment with peanut products, or if the facility processes peanuts. I am eternally grateful for that; reading labels has become FIRST nature to me.

I understand that peanut butter is a staple in most US households. It's a great source of protein, most kids love it, it's convenient and inexpensive. I'd urge you, however, to hold off on serving it to your young children until they reach an age where you are certain they won't develop a sensitivity to it.

What is that age? It's unclear...I'd say six is a fairly safe bet. Not for sure, but probably fine.

The problem with a peanut allergy is, one time the child might have symptoms that are so mild they go unnoticed. The same for the next ten times. Or forever.

Or, they might get a swollen lip. The same for the next ten times. Or forever.

But...they might get a swollen lip, and then the next time go into anaphylactic shock, be unable to breath and suffer other serious system failures.

And die.

There is just no telling.

Peanut allergies are notorious for being totally unpredictable. They can come out of seemingly nowhere, and there is no way to know what will happen with the next exposure. Might be fine. Might not.

Next year my daughter is supposed to start Kindergarten. I don't know what I will do...frankly, with a life threatening allergy, I can't say I'm all too keen on the idea of assuming that she'll be fine.

The last time I did that, we discovered her allergy. She was in good, loving, capable hands.

What if the next time, she's not?


Bow Chicka Bow Wow!

Best joke EVAH:

What do you get when you cross a brown chicken with a brown cow?

What? (Cue cheesey pornish soundtrack.)


Yeah, try to get that out of your head.

Carry on.


Where oh where have I been?

Besides searching for butter beans and moving (AGAIN!)(more on that later)(I'll just say that I LOOOOOVE my new house so much, and man, it feels good to like where you live), I've been up to me knees in the Blissfully Domestic relaunch. And the relaunch boxes are getting all confused with our house moving boxes, and it is confusing me. So I consume coffee, Diet Coke, and vodka. And I feel better.

Come on over and see my Healthy Living Channel at Blissfully Domestic. Be careful not to trip on the boxes there; like I said, we're still moving in. And if you see any of my personal boxes there, will you please send them my way?

Oh, and sorry...these aren't linky pics below. Me too tired. But they are in my sidebar! Cuz that was easy.


Where have all the Butter Beans gone?


Because now that I think about it, I really, really miss them.

I ate them all the time as a child because they were one of my favorite things EVAH (I know, I was a weird kid...not into candy much but I loved me my butter beans); I loved the slippery outer skin and the creamy interior. YUM!

My daughter is an oddity like me; she loves beans. LOVES them. Fresh or canned or frozen; she doesn't care. A delish snack to her is Mama opening up a can of, say, pinto beans, heating them on the stove with a few twists of garlic salt and pepper. She literally gets all giddy and dances around singing, "Beans! Yummy beans! Yeah!"

So in an attempt to expand her bean repertoire, I've been purchasing different types. She has yet to find one she doesn't like. And then one day out of the blue I thought of butter beans! Yes! I could buy her butter beans!

But I have been scouring local grocery stores and I can't find them. Anywhere. What's up with that? Did they have to remove them to make way for edamame? Because if that's the case, that's whack!

In fact, I think that's elitist. Sure, edamame is yummy, too. But butter beans (and their less delicious cousin, lima beans)(which are actually the ones in the above picture because it seems not only are butter beans hard to find in the store, but I can't find a good image of one, either!) don't have the same cache as edamame. Butter beans sound old-fashioned and not a bit hip.

But edamame, that's hip. I mean, it's a soy bean for Pete's sake... you can go get your chai soy latte and eat edamame and you're automatically happening, right? But a butter bean? Pfffft. Try finding a chai butter bean latte and get back to me!

And a quick nutritional analysis shows that butter beans stack up quite nicely against edamame, particularly in the area of molybdenum, which you are probably lacking right this minute!

I think it is either a vast right-wing conspiracy, or perhaps a vast left-wing conspiracy. I'm fuzzy on the details right now, but all I know is that there is butter bean-ism out there. And it must be stopped.

In the name of slippery outside skins and creamy interiors everywhere, it must. be. stopped.


Now that Obama has named Biden as his running mate, I think Bruno just might have a shot.

Remember this? The Watch me! No, watch me! household decided that our beloved pooch, Bruno, could run the country as well as anyone.

Well, it seems his candidacy has caught on:

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Who knew!!!


A Case of the Mondays

Yo, it's VDog from VDog & Little Man. I shall attempt to entertain you today as Christine's last guest poster (as far as I know).  You can usually find me Twittering or Plurking and occasionally writing and posting photos on my blog.

If you keep up with my blog at all, you would know that this past week I got all hormonal on yo' azzez and then lightened things up yesterday with some photos of the Little Man.  It's been a long week for all of us, so I figured, instead of some occasionally brilliant writing, how about some links to go have a looksy about?

First, some yummy fluffy funny things:  Cake Wrecks and FAIL blog.

Second, if you've ever been depressed, this was an amazing post to read (or probably even if you've never been depressed?).  Miss ZoeyJane really BROUGHT IT.

Third, Pundit Mom wrote an interesting piece about our value (to advertisers) as mommybloggers and the different topics we write about. Apparently Politics isn't worth as much as Potty Training. Huh.

Fourth, and finally, you MUST go check out this post from our girl Dawn at kaiseralex.com: Vote for Most Disturbing Item.  Girlfriend brings bereavement to a whole notha' level.

Don't forget to cut out early today and recover from the weekend.  It IS Monday afterall.

Hope the move went great, my Cracker friend Christine!!


Kansas Aquatic Center

JackieW. forumed for years until dipping into the blog world early this year & blogs @ Buried in Legos and Bologna Donuts. She twitters & plurks as Abbreviated. She homeschools in Kansas with a husband, 3 sons, one grandson, 2 dogs, a cat & a herd of Belted Galloway beef cattle.

guest poster

guest poster two

Spent 2 weeks driving kids to swimming lessons.

When I was growing up this was called a swimming pool.

Now it's called an aquatic center.

The move that almost wasn't

Hi, I'm Jennifer and I'm keeping the blog warm over here today. Usually,you can find me at Toast on the Ceiling or contributing for BlissfullyDomestic.

When Christine said she needed guest bloggers to help out while she moved, I jumped on it. I'm totally thrilled she picked me. When she said I could write about anything I wanted, I
knew I had a story to share (and hope her move does not end this way).

I'm talking about our move to the house we live in now.

Back in May, 2001 it was James and I. No kids, no pets (this was a blessing with everything that happened). We loved the townhouse we lived in, but no one wanted to visit us, it was at least a 30 minute drive. Add to that a condo association that thought they were God and wacky neighbors (one guy washed his car in the garage), we did what everyone else was doing.

We decided to move. Back to my hometown.

After we found the best house (it isn't perfect), we had to list our house. We thought it was a blessing we had "sold" it in a week and we would move in a little over a month.

The first couple weeks after it sold was no problem. We packed, cleaned and got things in order.

The next couple weeks turned into a nightmare. Thankfully, we had a lawyer. The people who were to buy the townhouse had some problems with their credit. The loan looked like it wasn't going to be approved. The closing was on, the closing was off.

Every day brought different news.

Finally we got to the day before the closing and I had left work early to come home and finish packing. There was a call from our lawyer. Basically, it looked like the closing was off, the financing would not go through for the buyers, but come anyway to the closing. So I cancelled the movers and we packed some more, but didn't think this was going to work.

Which meant we would lose the new house and we were staying with the crazy neighbors and the condo board from hell. The day of closing we got up, cleaned and went to the title company. We met our lawyer, signed what we could without the buyers, and sat in a conference room for 45 minutes before the buyers showed up with their lawyer. The loan had been a go at the last minute, with changed terms. Half a page into the loan paperwork, the husband was arguing with the lawyer.

We were shooed out of the conference room to wait in a cubicle while the husband's lawyer argued with the loan company. We had to hunt down movers from the phone book since it looked to be a go. After several phone calls, we found someone who would charge 4x as much as we budgeted, but they could be there. We were supposed to be out of the house already and the buyers were not happy we were still there.

Finally, after half an hour, the husband had releneted and would take the loan. We were called back into the room and they went over the terms with the husband. 11.5% interest, pre-payment penalty, the list went on of restrictions and penalties. I sat at the table thinking any second the deal would be bust. The husband signed paper after paper, not the wife.

Finally, they got to a document the wife had to sign stating she understood the financial implications of not being on the title. She flatly refused. For religious reasons. So, add another 10 minutes while two lawyers tried to convince her to sign the paper. I think she finally did, but it was like pulling teeth.

Then there was the issue we were not out of the house which was totally the buyers fault. We had to give them a $1000 check guaranteeing we would be out by 9pm (which was sent back uncashed a week later). We said no problem, all was done. After almost three hours.

James and I ran out of there to get home. Well, James went home to meet my dad to finish on the packing and I had to go to the insurance company to finish the policy for the new home (which was to closed on the same day, but moved to two days later due to insurance problem with the roof of new house). Got back home to deal with the movers. They sent nine guys to our house tomove. Nine guys who had no clue or common sense. One guy tried to move the gas dryer without disconnecting it. Another dumped James' entire StarWars figure collection out of their pre-packed boxes into a wardrobe box and packed stuff on top of it. And the fun went on.

We shoved anything worth something into three cars and tried to keep the movers from packing essential items. Like my bag of clothes for the next few days. James wasn't so lucky. Before he could stop the movers, all his stuff was on the truck. We were out of the house at 7 pm. Had started at 2:30. Not too bad.

James waited for the new owners to come and get the keys. My dad and I drove back to my parent's house to unload some of the stuff since we would be staying in a hotel for a couple days. Which turned into a week, since the moving company forgot to schedule us to get the items out of storage and moved to the new house. And then stole all of James' tools and a step ladder.

This is why I will never move again.

I hope Christine's is going much better than this.


Yes, I am the Butt of the Joke

Todays awesome guest poster is TLC, who can usually be found at Send Chocolate. Enjoy!

While no_watch_me is gone, I offered to guest post for her.  I thought I would show my butt.  Or rather, my son's butt...wait, let me back up.  He did enough showing for everyone....

He is nine now. This happened when he was four.

It wasn't something he said, not this time. We were standing in line at The Evil Hamburger place, hereafter known as McDonalds. I was hungry and tired, and had three kids in tow who were also hungry and tired. The line was moving at a snail's pace, the cashier wasn't moving at all. We waited. My one year old was in the sling, squirmy and awake. She wanted my attention. My 8 year old was trying to be on her best behavior, but she had grown weary of the hold up. She wanted to eat. Now. Even if it was McDonalds.

My son has autism. He has no mouth filter. He makes rash decisions. Bored and with nothing to do, he struck up a conversation with the man in front of us. I eyed the stranger warily. The conversation started the way they always did: "Do you like Indiana Jones? I have seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, it's a good movie, did you like it?" The man agreed, it was a good movie and that Indy was cool and yes, his hat was cool and yes, son's hat was cool, too. I breathed a little, so far, there hadn't been anything out of ordinary. That was about to change.

My son was diagnosed with high-functioning autism, but not until the end of Kindergarten. At this point, he was just "quirky." The line moved up, just a little. Still two people were in front of me. Was this ever going to end? We needed Chicken McNuggets! Some fairly loud and boisterous construction workers joined the line, which was now fairly long. We waited some more as the guy in front of us was ordering.

I tend to start up conversations in line with random strangers. It seems to be the curse of my semi-extroverted personality. I say semi-extroverted because when I am home alone, I revel in my aloneness. But when I am out, I will actually talk to other people. The introverts in my house don't understand it. Luckily, my son is an absolute extrovert and likes to talk to people. People don''t always like to listen, however. The burly construction guy asked how old my kids were, and here it comes the requisite, "You certainly have your hands full," along with my stock answer: "Yes, and my heart is full as well." About this time, my son decided to horn in on the conversation. Being polite, Mr. Big & Burly Construction Guy turrned and asked him his name. I have no idea what possessed my son. To this day, he still doesn't know.

We are standing there, in the middle of a food establishment as loosely defined as McDonalds is food and my son, the fruit of my loins, turned around, pulled his pants down and mooned the entire line of customers! I stood frozen in shock while the construction crew guffawed loudly. That was when, the voice of sanity spoke up. It was my daughter, wise beyond her years. "He is SO mortifying!" said she. Why yes. Yes, he is.


Oops I ovulated again

Hi, this is Jennifer from Playgroups are no place for children. I am notorious for writer's block when guest posting. Or it's possible that I'm the queen of the cop-out. Either way, I'm republishing an oldie but a goodie for Christine while she's busy, that I wrote back in April on my blog.


I had made up my mind that we were finished having babies, while driving and enjoying the sweet, sweet deliciousness known as being ALONE. Something about the first warm day of the spring, an open sunroof, and thumping music made me certain that we were out of the business of making babies. Of course, twenty minutes prior, I had been trying on baby girl names for possible future daughters like Avery, or Leah, and Emeline, remembering only the good parts of pregnancy, childbirth, and life with a newborn...ahhh, the joys of selective memory.

But anyway, right at this moment, I was sure. No more kids. I felt the freedom that only comes as your children are old enough to be left for more than 2 hour segments.

"I'm almost free," I thought to myself. "In just a few short months, I'll have my body back all to myself! I'll finally get to throw those nursing bras away! I won't have to carry the enormous diaper bag, I'll actually be able to carry a purse!" The decision, for the time being, was made.

I got to my destination, Tar-zhay, and began my much anticipated solo quest for nothing. I was simply going to wander around the store, with no need to worry about the possibility of having to change a diaper or rushing to get home to save the precious nap. Not two minutes into my aimless stroll, I saw the first baby, a newborn baby, being held by her very exhausted looking mother. This baby had to be fresh out of the womb, she was impossibly tiny, with wrinkled feet and ankles.

"Look away. Just look away," I told myself. "We're DONE, remember??? Done!"

A good three minutes passed before I saw the next one. Another newborn baby, that also looked to have come straight to Target from it's birth at the hospital. The parents were fussing over the baby, who was so tiny and completely enveloped by it's carseat. The baby had that unfixed stare and googly eyes that only newborns have and appeared to be drifting off to sleep.

I realized I had been staring with my head cocked to the side and my mouth slightly open in the shape of "aaah." But I couldn't help myself. I closed my eyes and shook my head, getting the image of that darling baby out of my head. "Keep walking. You've seen plenty of newborn babies, including TWO of your own. Now skedaddle," I silently thought to myself.

Luckily I got a good twenty minutes of browsing in before I spotted the last newborn. During those glorious twenty minutes, I had purposely browsed in the lingerie section at pretty, non-nursing bras and dreamed of that day when I could where them again.

"Yes, I'm certain. No more children." I smiled contently as I left the lingerie section.

Of course, though, as I left the lingerie section, I saw the baby. Her daddy was cradling her in his arms as she slept. He gazed upon her face and appeared to study her every feature. His free hand gently touched his daughter's wee fingers as he bent over to kiss her tiny face. After the kiss, he paused and sniffed her wee newborn smell.

Right then and there, I ovulated. I simply cannot resist a daddy sniffing his baby.

As I finished my shopping trip, I imagined a future baby boy and tried on a few names for him...Keegan? Chase? Sean? Ryan?

Then I arrived home to my daughter's beautiful face. Ella, my eleven month old daughter, who charms me with nothing more than her soft cheeks and her gummy, slobbery grin.

It's no wonder I can't help but fantasize about all of my unborn children.

Originally published April 9, 2007 at Playgroups are no place for children.


What's Your Soft-Boiled Egg?

Today's post is brought to you by the letter L, for Lara. Lara can usually be found over at Life: The Ongoing Education, which also starts with the letter L. As you can see, the letter L is a precocious brat and won't leave us alone. Please enjoy Lara's lovely literary contributions.

“I couldn’t exist the way you do, Henry; I like my warm toast and tea and soft-boiled egg brought to me on a tray in bed each morning. Whenever I even think of Walden, I get a cold. But I admire you, Henry, I really do. You’re my walking ethic!”

Okay, okay. Let’s get a couple things out of the way. First of all, I’m a high school English teacher, which means I’m a big literary geek. So even though what I’m going to talk about here is kind of superficial and fluffy, I’m going to lead it off with some critical analysis of a play. You’ll have to forgive me.

Secondly, you’ll just have to remember that I’m not your beloved Christine, so you may have to have a little patience with my poor pitiful self, just trying to keep y’all entertained while she’s away. There is an opportunity for audience participation later, so keep your eyes peeled.

Now, back to the quote. It comes from a play called The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, which is a fictional accounting of some real events in Henry David Thoreau’s life. Thoreau is most famously remembered as a “rebel” who openly disagreed with many of the U.S. government’s policies in the nineteenth century. He retreated to Walden pond, to live in harmony with nature, free from what he believed to be a corrupt society. He was, to put it mildly, a little radical in his thinking.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was his mentor, a fellow writer, and a well-known orator. The people listened to Emerson and his ideas, when they happily ignored Thoreau. But Emerson tried to make changes from within the society, living within its rules, speaking in moderation. In the quote above, Emerson is responding to Thoreau, who is angry at Emerson for not taking more drastic action in protest of injustice. And Emerson says, “I like my warm toast and tea and soft-boiled egg brought to me on a tray in bed each morning.”

I know, many of you are having an initial response of, “What the hell does that have to do with it?”

(The rest of you are either yawning in total boredom or you’ve stopped reading long before now.)

Emerson’s point is that his life is more worth living when he has the little insignificant pleasures in his day. To him, having breakfast in bed keeps him happy, and that lets him keep working for change. If he gave it all up and moved to a cabin in the woods to protest, he would lose interest – it just wouldn’t be worth it.

I see a lot of moms who think they need to pour their whole lives into their children and house. And don’t get me wrong, I think that’s admirable – it’s just not always practical. Some women would be better off taking an hour once a week to completely ignore the kids, leave them with a babysitter, and treat herself to a mani/pedi at the local salon. By keeping that “me time” in her schedule, she’s actually better at her work as a mother, and that means she should not feel guilty about keeping it.

It’s the same when we think about making changes in the world around each and every one of us. Should we be taking steps to be more environmentally conscious? Yes, of course. But should we be taking radical steps and getting rid of each and every piece of our life that we enjoy that might possibly leave a carbon footprint? Well, that might just make us want to give up the fight completely. Should I be donating some of my money each month to charity? Yes, definitely. But should I be donating every last cent that I don’t need for food and rent? Well, without any niceties whatsoever, what keeps me waking up every morning?

So here’s the thing – my “toast and tea and soft-boiled egg”? For me, those are shoes. My latest purchase is this lovely pair from Target. New shoes make me happy. They’re superficial and shallow and completely insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but they make me happy. And happy people can make a lot of changes in the world.

So what is your toast and tea? What are your soft-boiled eggs? What are the luxuries you wouldn’t want to do without? Come on – I know you’ve got some good answers lurking out there, and I want to hear ‘em!


Do you have imaginary friends?

Today's guest poster is Mel, who blogs regularly at A Box of Chocolates where she shares samples of her life as a wife to one, mom to three, and teacher to many.

Why do I do this to myself? One day I am going to learn to keep my mouth shut, or maybe I should say, my fingers still.

When Christine twittered that she was looking for some guest posters to baby-sit her blog my fingers, completely on their own, somehow twittered back that I would be honored to be a guest poster if she would have me. I mean she is Christine after all…Dr. Diva over Blissfully Domestic, where may I add that I am just a lowly Food Diva. Of course being the polite person that she is she gave in to my request to guest post and well here I am.

So could somebody tell me, what does one actually do when they guest post? Talk about this blog, talk about the author, talk about their blog, talk about themselves. Sheez. This is tough.

Well I’ll give it shot. Here we go. My first guest post.

Blogs, blogging, blogger. It’s all foreign to some and others just don’t get it.

When I first began blogging I didn’t really tell many people. Once I got some posts up and running I emailed the URL to distant family and friends so they could see pictures of my kids and what we have been up to. Many responded that they thought the blog was a great idea and enjoyed looking at the pictures of the kids. Of course I got the usual question, “Are you sure you want to post that much information about your family on the web?” (we’ll discuss that one during another babysitting time), but other than that they were all pretty supportive.

Then I discovered the Blogosphere where there were many just like me, and some that were so very much not like me, that I loved them too. I met amazing women and was even proud to call a few of them friends. Friends that I had never met, but friends nevertheless. As my excitement over this newfound community grew I found myself talking about my blog and blogging in general to my real life friends. After all it was my hobby so why shouldn’t I talk about it as they would talk about scrap booking, or cooking, or working out, or whatever it is that they did. I was proud of my blog.

For some of them they were intrigued. They asked how I got started, why I liked it, what it was like to meet other bloggers, how I decide what to write, how I find new blogs to read, and a plethora of other questions. For others they just kind of smiled and nodded and life went on.

They were happy that I was happy and it worked. Then for some, well they think it is just straight out strange. Such as the friend who told me during a girl’s night out, “It’s so weird that you are friends with all these people you have never met. It’s kind of like when you are a kid and instead of just having one or two imaginary friends you have an entire group.”

Uh no. Not really considering my “imaginary friends” have lives and blogs of their own, where you know, I can see their pictures and everything. Not to mention imaginary friends can’t leave comments so they wouldn’t be any good to me even in the blogosphere!

(Dude, I hear you! You are my REAL friend! Thanks! - Christine)


Please extend a warm Watch me! No, watch me! welcome...

...to my guest posters for the next few days!

As I pack up my household ONCE AGAIN and relocate a couple of miles away ONCE AGAIN, some lovely and generous bloggers have volunteer their time and talent to keep things hopping here.

You won't be dissapointed, pinky swear.


I will take this dream, stick it in my pipe, and smoke it*

So I haven't been doing much on my quest for a free laptop from Apple Co-founder Steve Steve Wozniak via his ex-girlfriend Kathy Griffin. I mean, it is a brilliant plan and BOUND to work, but I have lost my momentum.

That is so like me.

I hatch a scheme and then suck at the execution (except for the medical school thing, and frankly that is ONE time I wished I'd not done the following up bit).

This is where it would be really awesome to have a staff of people to do my bidding. I could lay around coming up with fun and exciting ideas, then I could pass it off to my peeps. Kinda like Kathy Griffin and her Team Griffin.

I want a Team Christine.

Not only could they take care of the details of this campaign, like writing press releases and creating a button and getting the word out to other bloggers to get involved, but Team Christine could help in other ways as well.

They could pack this house and move it on Friday. I'll supervise and point to where things should be placed.

They could do my laundry. And dishes. Clean my bathrooms and oven.

Team Christine grocery shop for the family, and cook meals when we don't feel like it (read: usually).

They could peel my grapes and fan me when the heat becomes stifling. Actually, I could also instruct them to turn down the thermostat. We have the technology!

They could mix my cocktails and fetch my slippers! And mix more cocktails!


*Get it? Pipe dream?

Off to pack!


Why IM'ing is evil

Dear Darla,

Thank you for being such a time suck.




It ain't just a river in Egypt, or I don't need no stinking fan

You know what I'm in right now?

A big old heap of denial.

We are moving a week from tomorrow and I haven't packed a box in days. Oh, sure, right after BlogHer I went nuts for a few days and collected boxes, filled and labeled them. It felt great! I was ahead of the game!

Since then...nada. Been taking the kids to pools (because, you know, I need to get geared up to living in a home with OUR OWN POOL), reading, not writing much here, scouting for contributors for Blissfully Domestic's relaunch, tweeting, sleeping in late (LOVE it when my husband works from home), weaning from Zoloft (as if that's an activity that takes up actual time), using my elliptical which may or many not* spontaneously combust, looking for my keys (nothing new there), and just generally finding anything super important to do other than pack up this household.

*Okay, I need to explain this one.

I love my elliptical. Love it. If it weren't for that fine piece of machinery, I'd probably have gained far more than 30-some pounds while on Zoloft.

The thing is, my daughter (who is four)(oh, sorry, her voice in my head makes me tell you that she is four and a half) likes to be right next to me allofthetime. Which means, while I am working out, she wants to be on the elliptical with me. So, we've struck a deal. She can stand in front of me while I pedal as I am warming up and cooling down (ssshhhh...don't tell her that really I only let her be on there for a minute each time as I really slowly pedal and pretend to exercise). I explain to her that it just isn't safe for her to be with me while I am going fast.

Really, I think she has tricked me. The thing she likes most about being with me on the elliptical is toying with the fan feature on the console. She plays with the little lever and angles it towards her face. "Ahhhh...that feels goooooood, " she says.

So I indulge her, then boot her off the machine. She plays happily with her dollhouse nearby while I start my real calorie-burning mode.

Yesterday, however, something went amiss. When I started sweating glowing I smelled a freaky burning smell emanating from the li'l fan bit on the console.

"Do you smell that?" I asked my daughter.

"Smell what?" she responded.

And then the smell was gone. I chalked it up to my imagination.

After my workout was done, I turned off the fan.

It didn't turn off.

I hit the button a bunch of times, but to no avail. The machine's fan had taken on a life of it's own. It refused to submit. It wasn't going down for anyone!

Finally I pulled out the big guns and unplugged the elliptical itself. I sure showed that console fan who was boss!

After a series of phone calls and tech support stuff and warranty investigation, two things were revealed:
  1. The machine is no longer under warranty.
  2. The machine needs a new console, which will cost $427.36. Before labor.

So what I'm going to do is remove the cover to the console and disconnect the fan. Ha! Take that console manufacturers!

(Told you I can waste time. Do you have any idea how many boxes I could have packed in the time it took me to write this post about nothing?)


Calling all writers...

As some of you are aware, I am a contributer over at Blissfully Domestic (can you hear my husband snorting out his coffee through his nose in the background? Domestic is not one word he'd ever use to describe me. Whatever.)

You might also be aware that the evil geniuses behind Blissfully Domestic (Mrs. Fussypants and Karla from Looking Towards Heaven) are planning a major relaunch. Since I'm fancy No Watch Me Christine, I will be the Healthy Living Channel Editor. Yeah, that's right. I'm going to be an Editor. I am mad with POWER!

Thus far, our Healthy Living Channel Topics are: Fitness, Nutrition, Parenting a Child With Special Needs, Medicine in the News, and Healthy Home. I'm knocking around some other possibilities as well (again, that POWER thing).

I'm looking for contributers...if you're interested in writing for The Magazine That Will Be Dominating the Interwebs (POWER!!!) in one of those categories, email me!

Honestly, I'm very excited about this. I hope to hear from YOU!


Ten things I learned from my kids...

1. Take a picture; it lasts longer.
2. You don't need music to dance.
3. Getting the mail is very exciting!
4. It's okay to take two baths a day. Even if you don't need either of them.
5. Sometimes throwing a fit does work.
6. I'm not the perfect parent I thought I would be (see number six).
7. Why my mom drank the milk that I accidentally poured into a glass of ice when I was eight and grossed the rest of us out.
8. That Sesame Street is funny on a whole different level.
9. I spend too much time on the computer.
10. The meaning of life.


Cue drum roll, please...

And the winners are...

For the year of Picnik Premium....queenoftheclick! Congratulations!

And the winner of the 7 days of free WiFi from T Mobile is...UncommonBlonde. Woohoo!

That's all for today, folks!


When in Rome?

This is a post that has been knocking around in my head for quite some time, but one of those I just never got around to writing. In light of recent political thangs, I was reminded of it...but suddenly a bit reluctant. I don't want this to come across as a post about a particular candidate, because it isn't. It is, however, about a phenomenon I've witnessed for years and it really makes me twist off. So here you go!

Let me start off by telling you a little bit about myself: I studied French for over eight years...all through high school and college. That's for a solid eight years, not intermittently during that time period. After I graduated from college, my roommate and I instituted "French Sundays" and we only spoke French on those days so that I wouldn't get too rusty.

That same roommate also taught me some of her native Portuguese. And a bit of Spanish.

In my twenties I also enrolled in German classes at a local community college.

When my son was of preschool age, he showed a strong interest in learning Spanish...so I enrolled him in a program for little kiddies and their mommies. It was great for both of us. All three of my children either have or will learn non-native languages...I firmly believe it is not only a wonderful academic exercise but also a key to understanding other cultures.

Plus I just LOVE how it feels to articulate myself in a new language. It is uniquely thrilling.

So with that caveat, I must say I take great offense of this notion that we Americans are backwards and unenlightened because so many of us don't speak a second or third language.

I've been extraordinarily fortunate to have spent a lot of time in Europe. As I looked forward to my first time in France, I was thrilled to be able to buck that stereotype I'd been taught all of us ugly Americans deserved. I was going to take my pretty damn good French vocabulary and accent and WOW them in those French-speaking countries. Plus I would use my rudimentary Spanish when I could! And maybe I'd just speak French all over Europe and be super awesome!!!

Guess how many times that happened? Let's see...once in Provence a B&B owner kindly indulged me. That's all I can remember. Oh, no wait...their was the bartender in Paris who totally mocked my accent. That's a funny story for another time. Remind me, 'kay?

Sure, there were other times that I got to flex my linguistic muscles, but what usually happened was as soon as the first French (or Spanish) syllables were out of my mouth, whomever I was talking to would wave their hand and say (usually with a polite smile or wink, sometimes with an impatient roll of their eyes), "That's okay, let's speak English." It was disappointing, but whatever. I got over it.

When two Europeans from countries with different languages get together, guess what they usually speak? English. Because, the thing is...English just happens to be, for whatever reason, the default language. On the internet and in real life.

If you live on the border of Italy and Austria, there's a geographic imperative that makes learning more than your family's native language tongue a highly valuable skill. We simply don't have that in the United States.

I would LOVE for there to be languages taught in our grade schools from Kindergarten on. For what it's worth, I'd also love for there to be art, music, and PE, to name a few. I'm supplementing my kid's education with foreign languages. And art and music and PE.

My point is that I'm sick of being told we should be ashamed of our ugly, unenlightened, and inferior nation because we travel abroad and speak English. I know there are those who fit that stereotype, but for the most part I think it is an unfair characterization.


First Annual Post-BlogHer Swag Giveaway (or give it away, give it away, give it away now...I can't tell if I'm a kingpin or a pauper!)

I've been sifting through my BlogHer swag (yes, there is so much that I'm not yet done...and I dumped a lot of it in the Zwaggle room)?

But I've come across a few things thus far that I just don't need.

So you, dear readers, are in luck! It's my first give-away evah!

What have I got?

A seven day pre-paid WiFi card from T Mobile HotSpot (19.99 value).


One free year of Picnik Premium (it's like Picnik, only awesomer).

There will be more...but this is a start, no?

Just leave a comment below letting me know which one you want! Tell all of your friends! All that good stuff!

I'll announce the winners this Friday, August 1st!

Good luck!

***Edited: How did I not know this was a big bloggy carnival giveaway week? Holy internet giveaway synchronicity, batman! For more giveaways, check out Bloggy Giveaways!

(Can I say giveaways like maybe ONE more time? Oh, I just did.)

***Edited again: I canNOT make that link for the carnival above work. The code is right but it's getting all misdirected. Try this button instead:

Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

(See how I cleverly made it through this second edit without saying "giveaway?" Oh, damn.)


It's my blog and I'll be vain if I want to.

Way back in 1998 I was laying in bed, my newborn son in his bassinet within arm's reach. I put my hand lightly on his chest, feeling its reassuring rise and fall.

As if overwhelmed with love for my little boy, my heart starting beating faster and faster in the still of the night. It sounded like a train in my ears, or a marching band. It thumped against my chest wall and started to steal my ability to breath normally.

While my husband slept oblivious next to me, I struggled for a deep breath, tried to reassure myself that this was probably a normal experience to have in the days right after giving birth. I was probably dehydrated. Over-tired. Adjusting to the crazy hormonal shifts.

This feeling, however, would surface whenever it damned well pleased for quite some time. Three and a half years, to be exact.

There were some dark times in those years, but for the most part the anxiety was manageable. I knew the feeling would go away in a day or two; I just had to suffer through those hours. Eventually as the months progressed the "episodes" grew further and further apart, until one day I realized that it had been weeks since the last one.

They were gone.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I promised my husband that if I had another post-partum experience like that, I'd give up the stoicism and take some medication. I didn't want to live like that again, and I didn't want to put my family through it.

Happily, the second time around it wasn't as bad. Or, on second thought, maybe not happily. I lived with a low-grade anxiety that I kept pretty well hidden most of the time, but it would come out full-force when I was faced with an even mildly stressful situation.

When my daughter was just over a year old, I was faced with what turned out to be a big fat NOTHING, but at the time was a wee bit of a health scare for me. I crumpled. I stopped returning phone calls, hid in my home for weeks waiting for tests and biopsy results. I told no-one about it, just put everything on hold as much as I could.

When that was all over, I marched into my doctor's office and said, "It's time. Gimme some Zoloft." He did, and it worked miraculously. The anxiety that had taken over was gone.


At the time, I was training for a half marathon. I had less than a month to go, and was really ramping up my running.

Yet...as I watched my friends with whom I was training dropping pounds like crazy because of our running schedule, I started gaining weight.

I remember the day of the race, which went from Napa to Sonoma, feeling my belly jiggle a bit as I ran. I'd never had that before. Not ever. I had gained five pounds since starting Zoloft.

Whatever, it's worth it not to feel like that. I thought to myself. Five pounds is a small price to pay to feel normal.

I had no idea what was in store for me.

The small stomach jiggle grew and grew. I tucked away my size 4's and bought 6's. I can deal with a size 6 if it means I'm not dealing with anxiety.

The flab on my tummy started expanding northward. My rib cage became covered by a small layer of fat, then a thicker one.

Out with the 6's, in with the 8's.

This is getting tough, but still...worth it.

My hips started widening. My wedding rings got tight. Even bracelets didn't fit the same. AND MY SHOES.

Bought some size 10's.

In case you're wondering, I was still working out consistently. I enjoy exercise and don't feel right if I skip more than a day. In fact, until Zoloft I was one of those annoying people who occasionally had to diet to GAIN weight (okay, not so much after kids, but I didn't have one bit of problem losing weight EVER. Until Zoly).

I started pretty much living in yoga pants.

And I bought a size 12.

My weight reached the place where it was when I gave birth to each of my kids. I looked in the mirror and the bone structure that once allowed me to model (not a lot, mind you, but a bit) was gone.

Who is that fat woman in the mirror? Oh, right, me.



In three years I've gained thirty pounds. That's an increase of about twenty-five percent. Good times!

I'm going to wean myself off of Zoloft. It actually kind of started at BlogHer because I forgot to take my daily dose twice. I figured I'd run with it...

I'm going to document it for you here. The good, the bad, the whatever.

And maybe, just maybe, if I make it to BlogHer next year I won't hide from the cameras. Or look frantic in the photos that are taken because I dread seeing how fat my face has become.

Because this is me (days before starting Zoloft):

Not this (at BlogHer...thanks VDog for letting me steal the photo!)

Maybe I shouldn't be so vain. But, whatever, I am.

(I wonder when I started parting my hair on the opposite side? THAT has nothing to do with Zoloft, I'm pretty sure.)


I defect

So, as I mentioned, this li'l blog o' mine has been getting an overhaul. Thought it was time for her to look all perty.

I can't take credit for the look, though. The lovely and talented Karla of Fruition Designs was slaving away on it while I was whooping it up in San Franscisco.

Right now I'm trying to sport an uncluttered look. No worries, that'll change. I know some of the links don't work...that'll be taken care of eventually as well. Anyway, some of the blog bling is gone, some of it is back.

This, however, is back up:

Actually, "back up" isn't technically correct because the one I used to have up was this:

What isn't going back up is this:

Alltop, confirmation that I kick ass

No, now...don't get me wrong. I DO still totally kick ass! And Guy Kawasaki is super nice and not only allowed me to park my blog at his site for the past few weeks, but also hosted an amazing partay at his home and graciously allowed me to attend. And drink wine. And eat. And pick up super swag.

It's not you, Guy, it's me.

Well, it's kinda someone else. Yes, classic love triangle.

My paramour AllMediocre. I cannot resist the siren call that is AllMediocre.

The thing is, AllMediocre became more than just a holding tank for those of us wanting to get to Alltop. It's a true community. I miss the community. I miss my friends at AllMediocre.

BUT dammit Meghan won't grant an exception to her rule for me (I KNOW!) which states very emphatically that you can't be a member of AllMediocre if you're on Alltop.

So, while Alltop and Guy were very good to me, I have no choice but to go back to AllMediocre...because while the bling and validation from AllTop were awesome, I'm here on the interwebs because of YOU. The community. The interwebs interaction and bloggy love.

Thus I must invoke the words of my beloved Steve Martin and say to AllTop,

"I break with thee. I break with thee. I break with thee."

~throwing dog poop on their shoes~


BlogHer recap #2: Or, the one about being got.

I have like five dozen different BlogHer posts banging around this head of mine...like one with funny anecdotes of drunk bloggers, others with reasons why you should go next year if you didn't this year, informational posts with the nuts and bolts of the conference itself (because despite all the posts and photos to the contrary, there actually was a serious conference going on), linky posts full of who I met and how fabulous they are. Giveaways of some swag I don't need. Oh, and juice on the Big Bloggers.

And I'll get to those, at least some of them. Later.

But for now, I just want to tell you one big HUGE reason why I loved the weekend, and how I've come away changed. Honestly, like it was some uber-spiritual revelatory retreat weekend or a summer camp where I lost my virginity (not that I experienced either of those, but I imagine they'd be similar).

I kept waiting to become overwhelmed with anxiety, or shyness, or vertigo, or something. What I ended up being overwhelmed with, right from the beginning, is a sense of being surrounded by kindred souls.

You know how in your "real" life if you start talking about your blog to a friend their eyes start to glaze over? Or they get a confused look on their face?

You know how in your "real" life you have to go through a bunch of verbal gymnastics when you try to explain to others how these people you know online are definitely not a bunch of big hairy perves? That they really are friends in the truest sense?

You know how in your "real" life NO ONE gets what twitter is all about?

At BlogHer, I was surrounded by 999 other people who got me. I got them. We got each other...and it was crazily liberating.

It was so flipping relaxing to be amongst people who not only didn't roll their eyes when the word "blog" was mentioned, but instead wanted to hear about it. And who had a blog of their own that you wanted to hear about. With whom you could exchange your bloggy greeting cards and just be yourself.

Where I could just be myself.

That thought really struck me for the first time on Thursday night as I rode a shuttle from the Westin to the Alltop/Kirsty party in Atherton (at Guy Kawasaki's house). Apparently the party was in a Bermuda Triangle of sorts, because the shuttle drivers kept getting lost.

I was sitting next to VDog who knows the area well and kept saying,"Dudes, we're totally going the wrong way. We're heading away from Atherton towards Redwood City. Snap!" People (and by people I mean a shitload of big name bloggers) started whipping out iPhones and trying to locate the party and our shuttle location on google maps.

I was texting with Mrs. Flinger who was on the shuttle ahead of us...they were confirmed as definitely lost. Pretty soon we were, too.

Then the fun really started...the bus did about seventeen U-turns. It was a two lane highway, so really they were more like 72-point turns. Curb-hitting, cars honking, bloggers complaining turns.

After the third U-turn there was a collective groan followed by a silent split second, which was broken when Laid-Off Dad announced, "Let's all tweet this RIGHT NOW!"

Everyone burst out laughing...that's when I had my mini-epiphany. It's a rare crowd where someone could say that and everyone gets it.

It was so nice to be got.


BlogHer Recap

It was awesome.

So, onto other news.*

As you can tell, my blog is undergoing some reconstruction. This is nothing new here, but this time it's more than rearraging the furniture. THIS TIME it is a serious overhaul with an actual graphic designer (the amazing Fruition Designs...her cards were a huge hit at BlogHer) and not li'l old me playing around.

Bear with us...what with BlogHer and whatnot I haven't been on top of things. Watch me! No, watch me! will continue to improve over the following days.

*okay, of course there will be more later.

If I can bake bread, anyone can

This is the last guest poster while I am whooping it up at BlogHer. Actually, today I am packing up all of my swag and spending some much needed quality time with my family before we jump on a train and head East towards home.

Anyway, this wonderful blogger is Astacia from Life on the Run. Okay, I'm going to shut up now and let you read.

I read Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, this past winter. His words solidified my fears about conventional food. His rule on “If You Can't Say It Don't Eat” is my grocery mantra. We gave up packaged foods about two years ago. I should correct that and say most packaged foods.

We were eating a loaf every two days. I was buying 4-6 loaves every grocery shopping trip. I tried to stick with whole grain, no HFCS varieties. Then I looked at their ingredient labels. All of them had a long list of unpronounceable substances. There was no way I could remove bread from our diet. My kids would shrivel up before the end of the day. I needed a worthy substitute.

For years, I had been telling my friends “I cook but I don't bake.” To me, baking required precision and dedication. I could handles cookies but “baking from scratch” sent shivers down my spine. My souffl├ęs collapsed, my pie crusts were dry, my cakes didn't rise.

Everytime I bought a loaf of bread at the store I cringed. I knew I could do better. I gave in to the nagging on my weekly trip to the Goodwill. There was a Mr. Coffee bread machine with instruction manual for $7.99. the directions seemed simple. The ingredient list was small. So I took it home.

My first loaf was a hit. It used the basic recipe and my husband and kids devoured it. The smell of baking bread is addicting. Not all of my loaves were successful. I have learned that baking bread is an art form much like cooking. It does not require the attention to detail that I thought I did. It turns out that baking one loaf at a time is simple. There are four ingredients for a basic loaf (flour, water, yeast and salt) and then you can experiment from there. No tiptoeing around the kitchen. No proofing of yeast or hours of kneading.

It has taken six months of baking two or three days per week for me to hit my stride. Now I have a solid routine. First, I put the ingredients in the machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. Then I set it on he dough cycle. I have discovered than I like to finish my bread in the oven. I set my timer for one hour. That's 30 minutes of mixing and then a 30 minute rise in the machine. When the timer rings, I pull out the dough, knead out the large bubbles on a floured board. I place the dough into a large loaf pan and rise it on my preheated oven for 30 minutes and toss it in the oven. 25-30 minutes later we have fresh bread.

Yummm...thanks, Astacia! Tomorrow, I'll totally dish all about BlogHer for all of you!


Another Satisfied Customer

Good Morning Watch Me Readers! Chris is getting her blog on at BlogHer - WHATEVER - so you get to watch me today. Most days you can find me over at Rainy Day Diamonds chattering about whatever catches my eye, sometimes its books, sometimes its what goes on in my classroom or with my crazy Boxer Babes, or even the funny sight I'm sharing with you today. Whatever it is, my hope is that it encourages you to Find Joy in the Dewdrops and Downpours of Life.

I love me some Micky D’s! Where else can you get 42 ounces of ice cold Diet Coke for under a dollar? There’s nothing like that fizzy sting in your nose on a hot summer day.

Ooooh, pulling into the drive through lane of my neighborhood Golden Arches I anticipated that very sting – imagining it, in fact, when I choked on the fantasy nectar and spewed its carbonated goodness all over the dashboard of my beautiful new Santa Fe.

How about we call them Betty and Pebbles?

Now it looks to me like Betty was out shopping and, like any responsible pet owner, did not want to leave Pebbles alone in a sweltering vehicle, so she did the only reasonable thing. She chose the drive through. Wouldn’t you? Of course you would.

Like any respectful customer, she placed her order and patiently waited her turn in line.

Ahh…she’s a girl after my own heart - A Super-Sized Cup of Ambrosia.

Another satisfied customer!

Ruby promised me she kept a straight face, but I'm not buying it. Not for one minute!