Monday, June 30, 2008

Coping With the Drama

Having teenagers in the house, especially a teenage girl, is enough to cause anyone stress. Sometimes I wonder how anyone makes it through their teenage years, and I especially wonder how anyone makes it through their kids' teenage years. The problem is that it's easy to get caught up in the emotion of the moment and not handle things the right way. Just because you're the adult, you're the parent, doesn't mean it comes naturally or that you always know what to do.

I just read about this natural Magnolia supplement called AbsoluteCalm, and it's supposed to lower the stress response, almost immediately. All natural, no side effects, and it can help me keep calm in the midst of whatever whining, begging, teenage drama comes my way? It certainly sounds interesting. Often it seems that all the whining and drama is just a distraction from the real issue, and it would be better not to be distracted.

There's quite a bit of information on the website comparing the use of AbsoluteCalm with drugs like diazepam, which I really wouldn't want to try unless absolutely necessary. There are quite a few side effects with the drugs. Something natural, though, I would be more willing to try. The 30-day money back guarantee means there's nothing to lose.

I Really Need to Clean My House

...and to do that, I'd really like to try these cleaners that Elizabeth is giving away on her blog MomReviews. She's giving away 3 different all natural cleaning products from Terracycle. I would really love to get away from using harsh chemical-based products. I wish I had thought about it and made more of an effort when my kids were little, but there just didn't seem to be as much information about the harmful effects back then - either that or I was too busy to notice. Also, with companies like Terracycle, it is getting easier to find natural alternatives that really work. At least Elizabeth says they work. If I have to, I'll take her word for it, but I'd rather win so I can try these products for myself!

This giveaway ends Monday, July 14th at 9:00 AM EST.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Camera Critters (#12)


Last weekend was the annual parade in our town.  Here are some of the horses and riders, who always come at the end of the parade.


We felt kind of sorry for that last horse...

Visit the Camera Critters headquarters and find out how you can join in. All the post headers, badges and rules are there, as well as Mr. Linky so you can sign in.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Couple Giveaways to Mention

I found a couple great giveaways today:

I'm definitely entering both of these.

Fair Tickets

Summerfest started yesterday, and we didn't go to opening day. The last couple of years we've gone in the afternoon, donated our 3 non-perishable food items, and gotten in free. Mostly we went because we wanted to see REO in concert, and the fireworks. This year REO isn't playing Summerfest, and we just couldn't get enthused about any of the other bands. We hated to miss the Big Bang, though. We did watch it on TV - not quite the same, but high definition is pretty nice.

We do have tickets to see REO at the Wisconsin State Fair, so we'll still get to see them. Jeffrey went and bought fair tickets yesterday since they're cheaper now than they will be at the gate. He figured we won't have much time to do anything else when we go for the concert, so he bought extra tickets so we can go back. We have to have time to check out all the Wisconsin products and the 'as seen on TV' product booths, right?

Tempranillo varietal wine bottle and glass, showing colour Shot with Nikon D70sImage via WikipediaOne of our favorite things at the fair is the wine tasting, so we have to have time for that, too. We get to taste different wines from around the state and buy the ones we like. We have found some wines that we really like this way. I always grab the brochures, thinking maybe we'll go for a winery tour or sign up for the wine of the month. So far I just get the newsletter every month from one of the wineries. One of these days I am going to order some of their wine, because it is really good. I had some last weekend, and I really do need to order some.

Anyway, I think he got enough tickets so that we can go to the fair for the concert, go to the fair to taste wines and look around, and even go back to watch the horse pulls if we want to. Yes, we definitely must watch the horse pulls. I can't believe we never went to the fair when we lived in Illinois. We go every year here.
Zemanta Pixie

Sky Watch Friday (#28)

It's Friday again, and that means Sky Watch Friday!

I thought I'd post a couple of moon shots this week. There's something about a full moon, or an almost full moon, or a just past full moon. There's just something about the moon...

If you enjoy looking at the sky as much as I do, you'll want to check out Sky Watch Friday at Wiggers World. Join in or just enjoy all the wonderful sky pictures.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Looking for a Rental Car?

With the rising cost of airfare and all the added fees and regulations associated with flying, I'm wondering if more people will think about taking a road trip for vacation instead of flying somewhere. Of course, driving any distance from home means you have to be sure your car is in good condition. Or, you could look into car rental and rent a nice car or mini van that will hold all your luggage. That way you won't have to put extra wear and tear on your own car. We've done that at least a couple of times, especially before we had our own mini van. It made it so much nicer to have that extra room.

Advantage Rent a Car has summer specials starting at just $20.99/day. Select a pick-up location, time and date, select your desired vehicle, and select a drop-off location, date and time, and get a quote. I guess I should plan ahead a little more, because I wanted to see what it would cost to rent a convertible over the July 4th weekend, but there aren't any available. Still, it was easy to find that out. They have a whole page listing all the different cars in the fleet with information about each one, like how many people they can carry and how many bags. I couldn't have packed much if I rented a convertible anyway.

Here's a deal: Too bad I'm not in Florida wanting to get to Chicago. They're offering a one way rental from any location in Florida to Chicago for $1 per day. Anyone in Florida looking to visit Chicago?

I Can't Resist a Good Bowl of Popcorn

*** ETA: 7/7/08 - This giveaway is now closed ***

Popcorn has always been a big part of my life. One of my early memories is of waking up to find out that my brother had snuck back downstairs after being put to bed. Mom and Dad had popped a bowl of popcorn to share, after the kids were in bed, and instead of sending my brother back to bed, they shared popcorn with him. I just remember waking up as they were bringing him back up to bed, learning that I had missed out on the popcorn, and feeling very disappointed.

It wasn't like I never got popcorn. We had it a lot while I was growing up. We had it as a snack, and sometimes, quite often in fact, we had popcorn for dinner. Was it because mom didn't feel like cooking or because nobody really felt like having a big dinner? I'm not sure, but it was something we all loved. Mom would always pop a big bowl full of popcorn. Dad would get the big bowl, and the rest of us would hand our smaller bowls to him so he could fill them up, over and over again, until the big bowl was empty. I can't usually get away with serving popcorn for dinner now, except sometimes on Sunday evenings.

I always knew it tasted good, but it wasn't until recently that I realized what a great snack popcorn really is. It's a natural, whole grain food. Each kernel is a whole grain, and a great source of fiber. According to USDA's MyPyramid, three cups of popcorn is equivalent to a serving of whole grain and a good source of dietary fiber. How about that? It's not only a great tasting snack, but it's good for you, too. You can learn more about healthy snacking at

In the interest of good taste and healthful snacking, I jumped at the chance to sample some Orville Redenbacher's popcorn. I recently received a package containing some samples of Orville Redenbacher's popcorn - two bags of Movie Theater Butter and two bags of Smart Pop 94% Fat Free. I'm the kind of person who doesn't like butter on my popcorn, so I was so happy to try the 94% Fat Free, and I was not disappointed. This popcorn is so good - not too greasy, with a really great flavor. Cory grabbed the Movie Theater Butter and really seemed to enjoy that. I usually buy the light microwave popcorn, so he liked having some with lots of butter for a change. Even with all the butter, it still had 0 grams trans fat. All the Orville Redenbacher's popcorn varieties have 0 grams trans fat, unlike some other brands which can have up to 11 grams per box.

Along with the popcorn, we got a really nice bowl and some coupons, to buy more popcorn now that we've eaten the samples. I tend to pop my popcorn and eat it straight out of the bag, but now that we have this special popcorn bowl, I've been using that:

Unlike my dad with his big bowl, I don't share. I think I'm going to have to use my coupons to buy some of the snack size or 100 calorie bags of popcorn because, when I pop a regular size bag, I eat the whole thing. Never mind that it is supposed to be 2 servings! At least I was eating the 94% Fat Free popcorn, huh?

Now we get to the part about the giveaway. Whether you actually read to the end or simply scrolled down to get to the good part, here goes:

  • Two (2) readers will receive a popcorn bowl (like the one in the picture) and some delicious Orville Redenbacher's popcorn to try, courtesy of Orville Redenbacher's Popcorn Team & ConAgra Foods
  • For one entry, leave a comment on this post. Tell me what your favorite snack is. Tell me why you want popcorn. Tell me something.
  • For an extra entry, mention this giveaway on your blog and link back to this post. Be sure to let me know in your comment.
  • This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada, and all entries must be received by 10am Central Time on Monday July 7th (7/7/08). The winner will be chosen by random drawing and contacted via email - so be sure I have a way to contact you!

Now, I really need some popcorn!

ETA - Remember, if you want to have a chance to win, I must be able to contact you. If you don't have an email address associated with your Blogger account, I will not be able to contact you. If you only leave your name, I will not be able to contact you. If you would rather not leave your email in a comment, feel free to leave your comment and then email me using the email address in my Blogger profile.

Happy Birthday, Misty!

I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish one of the sweetest people in the whole blogosphere a very Happy Birthday. I'm not sure exactly how old Misty is - old enough to know better, maybe? Of course that's even older in dog years. Not that that matters now, but Misty was a dog in her past life. Is anyone here really surprised by that? Yeah, me neither.
Happy Birthday Misty

It's only appropriate that I found a bunch of critters to wish Misty a happy birthday. After all, she loves critters of all shapes and sizes, and she came up with the wildly popular weekend meme Camera Critters.

Happy Birthday, Misty! I hope it's a great one. I'm so glad we're friends.

Pop on over to Misty's blog My Dogs Keep Me Sane, and wish her a very happy birthday!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Summertime Coffee

Today I'm drinking the pomegranate cranberry juice I told you about, but the last couple of days I've tried out one of the recipes Tammy shared on her blog. Remember when she posted the recipe for Not Quite Tim Horton's, But Almost as Good Ice Caps? You don't? Here's the original recipe:
  • 1 cup of whole or 2% milk
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of instant coffee
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 6 ice cubes
  • 4 teaspoons of sugar
Mix all in blender until ice is crushed. Pour in glass and drink with a straw.

I usually double the recipe because as soon as I make one for me, everyone wants one.
Of course, like I do with all recipes, I had to change it a bit. Sometimes when I make my coffee in the mornings, I don't end up drinking all of it. In the winter, I often heat it up later and make hot chocolate, but I just don't feel like drinking hot chocolate in the summertime. So, earlier this week, I had some leftover coffee and thought I'd try it in this recipe. I used half coffee and half milk (doubled the recipe like Tammy said, so that was 1 cup coffee and 1 cup milk) and left out the instant coffee. It turned out really good.

I know I will be making this again. Now, on the days I have extra coffee, I pour it into a jar in the refrigerator so it will be ready when I want to whip up a batch of these Ice Caps. I probably need to find a different jar, though. The one I'm using now is the one that I usually store black olives in. Black coffee, black olives in black brine - they both look exactly alike. I can just see someone pulling the jar out expecting to find some olives in there.

Why I Wear Old Clothes

An opened up pomegranate.Image via WikipediaI just made juice, a yummy pomegranate cranberry . When I opened the container, for some reason, the lid flipped off onto the floor, splattering juice concentrate all over me and the floor. Nice, dark red, thick, sticky stuff.

I changed my clothes and treated the splattered ones with stain stick, but who knows if it will come out. But that's why I wear old clothes around the house. If something like that happens, and the stain doesn't come out, it's no big loss.

What do you wear around the house? Do you dress like a soap opera mom in your high heels and pearls, or do you wear any old thing that comes to hand. Or something in between?
Zemanta Pixie

Double Rewards

New CokeImage via WikipediaIf any of you enter codes and earn points at the My Coke Rewards site, remember that today they are giving double points for the fridge packs. That means 20 points for each code entered instead of the usual 10. I entered 5 codes this morning, and I think I'll have Cory open the packs we have downstairs so I can get the codes off of those, too.

I don't have a lot of points saved up, but they add up much more quickly when you get twice as many. One of these days I might even have enough to get something cool.

Zemanta Pixie

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cory's Driving

Jeffrey took Cory out driving after dinner. So, if you're out on the streets, you might want to get to someplace safe.

Cory told me that he'd rather have me take him out driving, because he thinks I'd be nicer. That might be true. At least I understand that driving does not come naturally to everyone, which I think his dad believes. It didn't come naturally to me. Maybe it will for Cory, but first he's got to try it and get comfortable with what he is doing. You can't really expect him to climb into the driver's seat and be an expert driver the first time, can you?

We've got to get him driving and practicing, because he starts driving with his Drivers Ed. teacher next week. At least the teacher gets a brake!

Zemanta Pixie

I Wanna Be Seaside

Instead of working on the calendar, like I'm supposed to, I'm looking at oceanfront homes in Mexico. I get really easily distracted, especially when I'm confronted with pictures of beaches and the ocean. I love the beach. My idea of a perfect vacation involves a lot of lying around on the beach and playing in the ocean.

Seaside Beach Home Rentals looks like a great place to start planning a Mexico beach vacation. They have all kinds of private homes and villas listed. There are various sizes, anywhere from 2 to 7 bedrooms with lots of great amenities. Some of these larger houses would be great for a Rocky Point Mexico wedding, because the house can accommodate the whole wedding party. Some of these have adjoining properties for even more guests. These would be great for a family reunion vacation, too. Find a house you like, you can request more information or send in a reservation request. You can even give them the number in your party and what you are looking for, and they will suggest a house for you.

I would much rather vacation in a home or villa than in some hotel room, and these look so nice. I'm just afraid I wouldn't want to leave when my vacation came to an end.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Heads or Tails - Line

Today's theme is:

HEADS - Line

For this week's theme, I thought I'd share the html used to insert a line into your posts, like this:

That's a basic line, and it just goes from one side of your post to the other. To insert one, in your 'edit html' tab in Blogger or in your html view in Windows Live Writer, simply insert: <hr>

It actually means horizontal rule - just a fancy way of saying line. You can add extra code to your line, for instance, if you want your line to only go partway across the window, you can set the width using either a percentage or an actual pixel length. This one is set to 75%. Just add width="75%" to your code: <hr width="75%">

Change the color by adding color="009900": <hr width="75%" color="009900">

You can find the hex codes for the different colors here.

Change the thickness by adding size="5" where your number is the number of pixels you want:

Since it's a line, you probably won't want it to be too many pixels thick. Also, you can align your line - left, right, or center by adding align="left", like on the pink line, align="center" if you want it in the middle, or align="right" like this next one:

It just depends on where you want a line and how you want it to look.

Visit the home of Heads or Tails to see more participants and join in.

It Just Felt Wrong

Unfortunately, the band director at our school will not be returning in the Fall. She got a new job, at a bigger school. It's closer to her home, so her commute will be shorter, and she'll save money on gas. Also, it's at the high school she went to. We can't really begrudge her the opportunity, but it is sad for our kids. Hopefully they will get a great new band director.

With the whole transition happening, though, no one knew what was happening this weekend. This weekend was our annual Kettle Moraine Days festival, and there's always a big parade on Sunday. Our high school band always marches in the parade. Not this year. There was no one to organize it - to unlock the band room and bring the drums, shirts, banner and equipment over, to decide what they were going to be playing, nothing. So, everyone got the message - the band is not marching in the parade. Jeffrey did go over to the elementary school where they were supposed to meet, just in case someone hadn't gotten the message and showed up. No one did. They all got the message.

So, our own school band from our own town was not in the parade. The band from the school down the road was. It just felt wrong. It was the first time Cory actually got to sit and watch the parade, and collect candy. Every other year he's either been with the Cub Scouts, the library, or the band. I'm pretty sure he enjoyed it. Next year I'm sure the band will be back in the parade, and he'll have to get his candy elsewhere.

Is Lasik Cheating?

Recognize those eyes? They belong to Tiger Woods, probably the winningest, most famous golfer in all of the sport. Those are some extremely focused eyes. But Tiger's eyes were not perfect, and he had laser surgery to correct his vision. This would never have occurred to me, but some people seem to think that's cheating. I don't see how. I think it would be the same thing to say that wearing glasses or contacts is cheating, and I really don't believe anyone has said that. Besides, just being able to see the hole you're supposed to put that little white ball in, doesn't mean that you can. There's a whole lot more involved, like skill, practice, and determination.

Lasik is a surgical procedure that involves reshaping the cornea to reduce or eliminate the need for corrective lenses. One of these days I would really like to go for an evaluation and see if Lasik is right for me. I've been wearing glasses since grade school, and it would be so nice not to be dependent on them any more. There is quite a bit of information on this Lasik in San Francisco website, and I think the more information I have, the more comfortable I will be with the whole process. They say on the site that it is perfectly natural to be nervous about the procedure, so yes, there's that. Also the cost has always put me off, but the cost of Lasik seems pretty affordable nowadays. It's just a matter of balancing cost and choosing a high quality Lasik center with a good record and reputation.

I bet even if I get Lasik surgery and have perfect vision, I still couldn't beat Tiger at golf. Just ignore the fact that I've never played in my life....

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Camera Critters (#11)


Tillie again:

She likes to hang out on the dining room chairs, under the table.  If you don't bend down and look for her, sometimes you don't even notice she's there.  I think that's her plan.

Visit the Camera Critters headquarters and find out how you can join in. All the post headers, badges and rules are there, as well as Mr. Linky so you can sign in.

22 Years Ago Today

I married my best friend. I still kinda like him. :P

It doesn't seem like 22 years. Where does the time go?

Only 28 years to go... Yeah, when we got married, we said we'd give it 50 years. After 50 years, if we decide it isn't working for us, we can go our separate ways, no questions asked.

We were watching that new Carrie Underwood video this morning - Last Name, where she gets all crazy in Vegas and marries this guy she doesn't even know. It got me to wondering why they actually let people get married like that on the spur of the moment. I said they should at least have to wait a day. Jeffrey said they should have to take a breathalyzer test. Most tattoo places won't ink you if you've been drinking, so you'd think there'd be some standards when it comes to marriage. Then I realized that, in today's society, a tattoo is a whole lot more permanent than a marriage. Sad, really.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I'm Thinking Iced Tea

I've been hearing about green tea and its health benefits, but I admit I don't know much. I did try, for about a week once, to drink green tea instead of coffee. Somehow it just wasn't the same. Tea for me is more of a separate drink. It definitely won't replace coffee in my world. Ever.

That doesn't mean that I don't want to drink tea. I enjoy a good cup of tea, both hot and iced. Since it's summer now, I'm going to have to go with iced, of course. I found this website where I can buy tulsi tea. It's also called Holy Basil, and it's an herb known in India that's supposed to have healing powers. This might be even better than green tea? It comes in 18 delicious flavors and is supposed to provide stress relief, increased energy and a boost to your natural immune system. Some of these flavors sound really great - Pomegranate, Red Mango, Vanilla Cream. They have a special summer pack on sale for 50% off - 4 flavors that will be especially good poured over ice for a refreshing, healthful summer drink. That Raspberry Peach sounds yummy.

All the teas at Organic India are certified organic and grown by thousands of family farmers. Together with whole farming communities, they have converted tens of thousands of acres of impoverished farmland to robust certified organic fields. The farmers are paid a good wage, and buying this tea helps those farmers keep their land and support their families.

Sky Watch Friday (#27)

It's Friday again, and that means Sky Watch Friday!

We attended a wedding on Sunday at the War Memorial Center along Milwaukee's lakefront. The Milwaukee Art Museum is right there, and looks interesting against the blue sky. There were some big, puffy clouds over on the horizon.

06-15-08_1555 06-15-08_1922

Then, around sunset,there was this really interesting cloud out over the lake - and the moon, too.


You know you're addicted to Sky Watch when you come away from the wedding with no actual wedding pictures and just pictures of the sky!

If you enjoy looking at the sky as much as I do, you'll want to check out Sky Watch Friday at Wiggers World. Join in or just enjoy all the wonderful sky pictures.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

He Will Be Driving

Jeffrey took Cory to get his driving permit (Temps) this evening. He took the classroom portion of Driver's Ed. last summer during summer school, so he studied up a little this afternoon to remind himself of all the stuff he learned.

He passed the test. He got his temps, and he will be driving. He starts driving in Driver's Ed. on July 2, so this will give him a little bit to go out and practice with his dad. I like to wait until the kids have a little experience before I go out driving with them, though he is trying to convince me that since I'm the one who's home during the day that I should take him out driving tomorrow. Umm, No.

He'll be 16 next month, so he could have gotten his license soon, but we made him wait to take the driving portion of Driver's Ed. until this summer, because he can take it for FREE through the school. Taking it anywhere else would cost at least $300, and there was no serious need for him to drive, so we waited. Besides, there's no rush to get him his license - because then we'll have to pay for car insurance, and it's expensive to insure teenage boys.

New RVs

Jeffrey's mom and her husband have a very nice travel trailer they use whenever they travel around the country. It's so nice for them, because no matter where they go, they have their own bed, and they don't have to carry their clothes in and out of a hotel room or the place they're visiting. I told them that when they're tired of traveling, it will be about time for Jeffrey and me to start traveling around the country, we'll use it.

So, they better take care of it! Of course, there is still plenty of traveling left in their future, I'm sure, so we may have to start looking for New RVs when we get ready to travel. looks like the perfect site to find one. They have new RVs and used RVs. You can search RVs to see what's out there, or if you have an RV you want to sell, you can list it there, too. There's also some great information to help you choose an RV.

Mom & Fred, I'm just saying that you better take care of that trailer, or I better start saving my pennies now! Oh, but these things are nice.

Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce

I was recently contacted by Al from Country Bob's asking me if I would be willing to try their All Purpose Sauce. I jumped at the chance. I have a son here who loves to season everything he eats with all kinds of spices and sauces. I knew he would be especially interested in the Spicy version of the sauce.

Within days I received a box containing two bottles of Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce, and a bottle of the Country Bob's Spicy All Purpose Sauce, as well as a brochure with information about the company and the sauce and several recipes. Cory was very excited to try it and had to open the Spicy sauce right away to taste it. At first taste, it didn't seem all that spicy, but the heat kind of sneaks up on you.

Both the regular and the spicy sauces have a really nice flavor. What's special about the Country Bob's sauce is that it's made with all natural ingredients. I sat down and compared the ingredients with another bottle of sauce we already had around here. I could pronounce all the ingredients on the Country Bob's label!

Last week I grilled chicken breasts on my George Foreman grill for my guys, and they both used the Country Bob's sauce - poured it on, dipped it in - regular for Jeffrey and Spicy for Cory. They both really liked it, and Cory was wanting another one of those chicken breasts a couple days later. He has also been trying the sauce on everything he can think of. He has decided that he doesn't like it in his Ramen Noodles, but so far he likes it on just about everything else.

I had to try one of the recipes included in the brochure:
Country Bob's Meatloaf

  • 1 1/2 lbs lean hamburger
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 12 crushed saltine crackers
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp Country Bob's Seasoning Salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3/4 cup Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce (or may substitute Spicy Hot)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
Directions: Mix all ingredients together, place in baking dish, shape in loaf, pour a little more Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce on top and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.
I changed it a little - because when I got it all mixed, it just seemed too gushy to form into a loaf. Now that I look at this recipe, I see that the online version calls for 1/2 cup flour, and that ingredient was missing from my printed recipe. That probably would have made a difference! What I did was add more crushed crackers (for a total of 30, or 1 cup) and 1 cup of oatmeal. Also, I didn't have the Country Bob's seasoned salt, so I used the seasoned salt I already had, but cut it down to only 1-1/2 tsp. The end result was yummy, and I know some guys who will be wanting me to make it again. There are all kinds of recipes available on the Country Bob's website, so it may be a while before I try the meatloaf again. After all, with so many recipes to try, I can't be expected to make the same thing again, can I?

Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce is made by a small company in Centralia, IL - I looked it up, and it's about 85 miles from where I grew up. In 1968 Country Bob Edson perfected the 'sauce of his dreams' and spent years making it and giving it away to friends and family. He began selling it in 1977, and in 1982 Country Bob, Inc. was formed. You can read the history of Country Bob's here.

If you'd like to try Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce, visit their website and request a coupon for a free bottle. Then come back and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Jobs and High School

Cory was out of bed and into the shower at about 8:00 this morning. Seriously.

He's volunteering at the library today. He could be there all day. He loves it there, and they love him there. I'm just glad he's got something positive to do with his time. His dad seems to think he should find a job, but right now that would mean that I would have to be sure he got there and back. He can ride his bike to and from the library, and at least he's not wasting all his time on his computer (unlike me!?). Also, during the school year, he's got activities going on with band and drama and such.

Part of the reason we told Beth she needed to get a job was that she was not involved in anything at school. She went to school, and she came home and wanted to goof off and 'hang out' with her friends. It just seemed like she needed some kind of direction, something positive going on in her life, because she would have been happy just whiling it away doing nothing. Also, after calling around for car insurance quotes, we realized how much more it was going to cost if she didn't get her B average and qualify for the Good Student Discount. That's when we told her that, if she didn't get the B average, she would be the one paying for her car insurance, not us. No job, no insurance, no driving. She didn't get the B average. She had to pay for insurance, once. After that, she put a little more effort into her schoolwork and has achieved her B average. I think she's hoping she'll get to keep a little more of her paycheck for herself...

What do you think? Should teenagers have jobs while they're in high school? Should they concentrate on schoolwork, school activities, and volunteering when possible? Or is it good to get a taste of what the real world is like - working all the time and having next to nothing to show for it?

She's Allergic to Swimming

Beth called home last night. It sounds like she's having a good time - getting to go to the beach and swim in the pool, which are both things she likes a lot. Unfortunately, she sometimes has a weird reaction to swimming, and it doesn't seem to matter whether it's a pool, a lake, or the ocean. Her nose gets all stuffed up, and she can't breathe all night after. Not a good thing, especially for someone who loves to swim so much. Now, if Jeffrey had that kind of reaction to swimming or being in the water, he'd just stay out of the water and never miss it. The rest of us couldn't live that way.

So, we took Beth to the doctor when this started happening, and he said it was an allergy. So, she's allergic to water? It's a little strange, but he prescribed lipovox, or something and told her to take it whenever she was going to go swimming. I think it was Zyrtec, something for allergies anyway, and it does seem to help.

Of course, along with forgetting to take a camera with her, Beth forgot to take her medicine along. Luckily it's now available without a prescription, so they went to Walgreens and bought some so she could swim and enjoy herself, and still be able to breathe. Breathing is always a good thing.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Be a Part of It

Download Day June 17Image by krossbow via FlickrIf you haven't seen, heard, or read about it - today is the day. The day for what, you ask? Why, the day to download Firefox 3 and be part of a World Record for the most downloads in a 24-hour period.

Download Firefox 3 by 11:16 a.m. PDT (18:16 UTC) on June 18, 2008. That's 11:16 a.m. in Mountain View, 2:16 p.m. in Toronto, 3:16 p.m. in Rio de Janeiro, 8:16 p.m. in Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Rome and Warsaw, 10:16 p.m. in Moscow, and June 19, 2008 at 2:16 a.m. in Beijing and 3:16 a.m. in Tokyo. Yes, if you're like me you're trying to figure out, "What time is that in my time?"

Besides helping to set a world record, you also get a great browser. So what do you have to lose?
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Learn More About Web Hosting

I'm right in the middle of working on the school calendar. Actually, I'm supposed to be working on the school calendar, but so many other things keep getting in the way, like that laundry I mentioned last post. Also, I have an email box full of website updates I have to make, when I have time. When we started the web page in question, it was hosted on a server with FrontPage extensions. What that meant was that my friend Peggy could log into the server and work on the webpages, too. There were still tweaks I had to make and details to be fixed , but at least the pages were up, which made people happy.

Now we're on a different server. No FrontPage extensions, so when Peggy creates pages she has to email them to me. I have to import them into Frontpage so they'll work with the rest of the pages, and then upload them. Ideally, with no Frontpage extensions, I should re-do the whole thing and take it out of FrontPage, but that will take more time than I think I have.

I was reading this article on cpanel tutorials, and I wonder if we could use this to help us work together better on the web pages. The article makes it sound like a very useful thing to have. The tutorials look like a very handy resource for people who use or want to use cpanel. (Don, can we have this on the server? There's information here about security issues and how to take care of them.)

This site has quite a bit of information about web hosting, so if you're thinking about choosing a web host, or just want to know how to use the tools your host provides, give it a look.

A Day Late

The thing with having a teenager home for the summer, instead of in school, is that he sleeps in - to all hours. Since it's the first week of summer vacation, I haven't yet decided what time he should be getting up, so I've been letting him sleep until 10:30 or 11:00 - not so late in teenager world, I'm sure, but still late. On an ordinary day it wouldn't be that big a deal, but Mondays (yesterday) it really causes me problems.

The big problem is that Monday is laundry day. I need to get the laundry sorted and started fairly early in the morning and keep it going, so I can get everything washed, dried, folded, and put away by the end of the day. Now, when I have a teenager still in bed, that means I don't have his laundry, so I can't get the laundry going until much later in the day. So, the last load was still in the dryer when we went to bed last night. All the clothes I usually fold on Monday night didn't get folded until today. (Why is spellcheck telling me that didn't is spelled wrong?)

Yes, it all got done, but I just feel behind now.

Ad-Posting Software Saves Time

One of these days I would really like to de-clutter around here. How in the world do we accumulate so much stuff? Like I have said before, I hate to just throw stuff away, especially when someone else can get some use out of it. We usually end up donating the stuff we get rid of, but it would be even better to make some money, wouldn't it?

I know Craigslist is supposed to be a good site to market all that stuff you don't need. We've searched for things we need want on there, but we've never tried creating our own ads to get rid of our own stuff. It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to get rid of some stuff before we get more stuff, huh? It's just hard for me to think that someone might actually want something that I no longer have a need for.

If/when I ever get around to the whole de-cluttering process and am ready to get rid of some stuff, I will have to check out this ezadsuite from Craygo. It's supposed to make it so much easier to post your ads to Craigslist. It makes it easy to select the cities you want to post to, reads and enters the Captchas for you, let's you schedule your ad posts, sends email reports of your ad activity, and more. Craygo has more features than any other product out there. Reading through the customer testimonials, it looks like this software can be very helpful and that it pays for itself. One customer said he made back his purchase price in 48 hours.

Along with your purchase of Craygo, you get a regularly updated manual that explains how to use each and every feature as well as resources like a FAQs page, members forum, and 7 day a week email support. So, if you're ready to sell some stuff, and want to make it easier to place ads on Craigslist (and Backpage if you use that) and start making some money, check out Craygo to see what it can do for you. They say it can reduce the time it takes to post an ad by 50%, and time is money. right?

Here's a screenshot: (right-click and choose 'view image' if you want to see it full-size)

Monday, June 16, 2008

One Long Day

Beth and Tim left for Florida Friday morning.   They flew out of Milwaukee, first to O'Hare and then on to Tampa.  The flight from Milwaukee to Chicago left pretty much on time and arrived on time.  The flight they were supposed to catch to Tampa started in Minneapolis, but it didn't get to Chicago until 1 minute before it was supposed to leave for Tampa, so their flight to Tampa was listed as 'Delayed' when I first went online to check.  So I kept the page open and refreshed periodically, and pretty soon their flight was listed as 'In Transit' - it said they had left at 2:10pm, 40 minutes late, but not horrible, right? 

They had been scheduled to arrive in Tampa at 5:10pm, so adding 40 minutes to that would bring it to 5:50pm.  However, the estimated arrival time just kept getting later and later, first 6:30pm, then 7:28pm.  What in the world?  Then, at 4:00, Beth called.  They were still in Chicago, sitting in the plane, waiting to take off.  Did she know why?  No.  Unfortunately, they hadn't called Tim's mom in time to prevent her from leaving for the airport to pick them up.

I kept checking the flight status, and they finally updated the actual departure time to 4:40pm, and they finally arrived in Tampa at 8:23pm.  Beth called about an hour later after they had collected their luggage and made it back to Tim's mom's house.  We haven't talked to her since - I'm sure she's way too busy to call her parents - so I don't know if she ever found out what took so long. 

Also, speaking of flying, airlines, and airports, today is the day the airlines start charging to check luggage.  Well, American Airlines, does and there are at least a couple other ones that followed American's example, though I'm not sure when their policies go into effect.  I's a conspiracy, I tell ya.  You have to watch the liquids you carry on board, so you can't take your toiletries on with you - so you have to check a bag, or plan to buy everything when you get to your destination.  Also, you can't take your own water through security (my personal pet peeve because I just don't go anywhere without my water) and now some of the airlines are going to charge $2 for drinks - even bottled water.  So, sitting and waiting to take off - how many bottles of water do you think I'd have to buy?  AS if the airline ticket didn't cost enough.  I really don't plan on flying any time soon.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Camera Critters (#10)


I was thinking of posting yet another picture of Tillie sleeping. Are you tired of those yet? She's so cute when she sleeps, and it's always interesting to see the different places she chooses to sleep. However, instead of downloading my pictures from my camera, I've been messing with MP3 CD books and Jeffrey's MP3 player. He finished the book he was listening to last night, so he's going to need something new to read listen to. He considers it reading. What do you think? Anyway, I got some audio books from the library Friday and thought I'd put them onto the MP3 player so he can take that and listen to them in the car. Of course, something so seemingly simple does not end up being simple at all.

So, instead of a current picture of Tillie, I thought I'd post this picture of her when she was just a wee kitten:

and about that sleeping all day every day - Tillie recently started 'knocking' on our door in the early hours of the morning. Me, I'd probably just ignore her, though she is a persistent little thing, but Jeffrey would get up and talk to her and eventually let her in. Finally we just started propping the door open in the first place, so she can come on in when she wants. Now we get to sleep all night. One of the first nights we did this, instead of actually coming into our room, or going into either one of the kids' rooms, she just curled up in the hallway outside our doors. Guard cat maybe?

Visit the Camera Critters headquarters and find out how you can join in. All the post headers, badges and rules are there, as well as Mr. Linky so you can sign in.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I'm Sending an E-Card

Fathers Day is this weekend. I love my father figure. He's awesome. I'm not sending him a card, though. Instead, I'm sending an e-card, you know the kind you store in computer memory - instead of the kind that will clutter up the house.

That's a good reason, right? He still gets to read it, enjoy it, and know I thought of him and think he's the greatest dad ever. Maybe I'll even give him a phone call.

What do you do for your dad for Fathers Day?

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Electronic Tickets

Beth and Tim left this morning for Florida. I logged onto AAA yesterday, since we bought the tickets there, to see if I could print out the boarding passes or to see what they needed. There was no information, so we gave Beth the itinerary we got in the mail with all the information, figuring that would have to do. Still, it seems weird to be leaving for the airport without actual tickets, you know?

With all the rain and storms last night, we had heard on the news that the airport was closed. Not knowing what kind of back-up that would cause, I decided to check the airline's site this morning to see if the flight was on time. When I got there, I saw the option for Flight Check-in, so I clicked it. Enter passenger first name, passenger last name, and Record Locator (yeah, I had to figure out which number that was. It was the Confirmation #), and it brings up the itinerary and lets you check in and print boarding passes.

It seems obvious when I think about it now - visit the airline's site to print the boarding passes, but I just didn't think about it yesterday. It would have been nice if AAA had included a link or at least a statement telling me that. Reading these related articles about paper tickets being history, I don't think I really needed to worry. They say showing up at the airport with your itinerary and confirmation number or even just your ID is all you need.

What's cool about the Internet is that I can check flight status. This morning's flight said it was on time. I just checked now and can see that it arrived in Chicago. However, the connecting flight from Chicago to Tampa - Delayed. They were supposed to leave at 1:30.

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Everyone Loves Chocolate

I've got a cake baking in the oven, a chocolate cake. Who doesn't like chocolate, right? When I have to take a dessert for a potluck, I usually figure I can't go wrong with chocolate. Seriously, once I made a chocolate pie for a dessert contest. I felt like it was cheating, because it was basically just a pie crust with a mixture of chocolate pudding and non-dairy whipped topping in it. Not difficult at all, and I won. Why? Because it was chocolate. Period.

There are differences in chocolate, though, and if I'm going to eat chocolate, I want the good stuff. I want something like gertrude hawk chocolates. What's so special about the Gertrude Hawk chocolates? These chocolates use the freshest ingredients and time-tested recipes. No shortcuts here, just great chocolate. Remember, everyone likes chocolate (OK, if not everyone, then most people) and that means chocolate makes a great gift. Gertrude Hawk has all kinds of chocolate gifts like fresh fudge, chocolate covered cherries, dark chocolate, chocolate covered pretzels, their very own chocolate Smidgens®, and much more. You can create your very own gift basket for someone you love.

Take a look. I bet they have something you'd like. In the meantime, my kitchen smells oh-so-chocolaty, and it's about time to take the cake out of the oven Do you think I should add some chocolate frosting?

Sky Watch Friday (#26)

It's Friday again, and that means Sky Watch Friday!

We've certainly been watching the sky this week.  It seems that storms have rumbled through every day.  These big, dark clouds come rolling up.  They open up and pour rain down on us, and then they roll on by, only to be followed shortly by more big, moisture-laden clouds.  Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Milwaukee has already set a record for the most rainfall in June, and we're only halfway through the month.  The previous record was set in 1917.

Here are some clouds that have already dropped their rain on us, after they have rolled on by. 

Between the Raindrops

and here are some more rolling in:
Here Comes the Rain

This week I have been very thankful that we don't live anywhere near a river, lake, or any other body of water.  Many people have had their houses flooded and even washed away.  No, I never want to live on a lake or river.  While the view is nice, I just can't imagine having to deal with that.  Even worse (well, maybe not worse, but ewwww) are the houses and basements flooded by sewer backups.

If you enjoy looking at the sky as much as I do, you'll want to check out Sky Watch Friday at Wiggers World. Join in or just enjoy all the wonderful sky pictures.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Freezer Squeezers

Summer's coming, and it's time for Cory's favorite treat - freezer squeezers. Actually, I think the box calls them Freeze 'n Squeeze, but we always call them freezers squeezers. They're those tubes of sweet, colored water you stick in the freezer to make your own popsicles. Cory would eat those all day every day if we let him. The only problem is that they're considered a 'seasonal item' so you can't buy them all year long. He had a whole stack of boxes of them last summer, and he made them last a while, but he's been out for a while.

Yesterday, Jeffrey stopped at Aldi and bought several boxes. Yes, they're back in the store now, so Cory's a happy camper. He immediately opened a box and put some in the freezer, and tonight we had the first frozen freezer squeezers of the summer. Jeffrey and I each had one. I think Cory had at least 5. Did I tell you the boy likes these things? Luckily they aren't too expensive at Aldi, so Cory can have his freezer squeezers, and we can still save for Tuscany villa rentals or something else we might want. I like shopping at Aldi for a lot of things. I just wish there was one closer.

I Shouldn't Have to Explain This

...especially to my own daughter.

The kids had finals today. They got an hour for lunch, and Cory thought it would be nice to go to Subway. We have some coupons - buy a sub and two drinks, get a sub free. So, I let Cory take a coupon. Beth said she'd drive to Subway for lunch, if Cory bought the sub and the drinks, meaning her sub would be free. Not the best deal for Cory, but he got a ride, so he agreed.

When the kids got home from school this afternoon, Beth brought a sub home with her. I'm thinking she only ate half the sub and saved the other half. I do that all the time because there's no way I can eat an entire foot-long. Two meals for the price of one. Who can argue with that?

Later I was talking to Cory and came to find out - Beth didn't order a foot-long. No, in spite of the fact that Cory ordered a foot-long and the drinks, and her sub was FREE, she just ordered a 6-inch. Should I really have to explain that, if they're willing to give you an entire foot-long sub for FREE, you do not settle for a 6-inch - even if you 'can't eat a foot-long'. Save it for later!

Hey, she barely ate any of the 6-inch. Cory said she took a bite or two and then put it back in the bag. And the drink? She took a couple sips, set it on the hood of the car, and drove back to school - waiting to see how long it took to fall off.

That is the last time I waste a coupon on that girl. This is the biggest reason that she needs to make her own money and buy her own clothes, toiletries, food, etc. If someone else pays for it, she does not appreciate it and usually ends up wasting it, ignoring it, or not using it. If she has to spend her own hard-earned money, she's a little more likely to appreciate what she has.

Wimbledon 2008 is Almost Here

I've been working on the calendar today. One of these days I'm actually going to get it done - hopefully soon. Today I've been formatting and inserting the athletic schedule for the high school. Our school has your basic sports - football, volleyball, boys and girls basketball, wrestling, track, soccer, etc. One sport our school doesn't have is tennis. The school in the next town, the one where the kids have to take finals in all their classes? They have tennis, or at least they have tennis courts out front, so I'm assuming they have tennis. We do have tennis courts in our local park, and the kids both took tennis in summer school, back when they were in elementary.

Jeffrey always enjoyed tennis, but he got frustrated pretty quickly the few times we went to the park to 'play tennis' - meaning, try to hit the ball back and forth over the net, never mind scoring. Yes, I'm hopeless. I wonder if practicing with the Wii will help me any? He took the kids to the park a few times to play after they'd had the class, but no one really stuck with it.

So, he may not get the opportunity to go out and play tennis very often, but he does watch tennis on television every once in a while, and always when the Wimbledon tournament is on. I have a hard time following the action even on TV, but he knows what's going on. I just cheer for whichever one of the Williams sisters is playing. Those girls are amazing, both of them. Venus won last year, as well as in 2000, 2001, and 2005. Her sister Serena won in 2002 and 2003. I wonder how they'll do this year.

Wimbledon 2008 is approaching fast. The tournament runs June 23 - July 6. Wimbledon tickets are still available, for those who can get to the All England Lawn Tennis Club. Those who don't have tickets can queue up overnight for seats. That sounds like an experience, doesn't it? We'll just have to watch the tournament on TV, follow it online, and maybe even become a Wimbledon fan on Facebook. The actual experience of being there will have to wait.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My Kids Have it So Easy

Beth and Cory got to sleep in this morning. Neither one of them had to go to school, because it's Finals, and they're exempt from most of their finals. That means they don't have to take the tests, and they don't even have to go to school. Personally, I think that if the kids were in class all year, paid attention, and did the work, then taking a final test shouldn't be a big deal. It's a good way to show that they learned what they were supposed to. But in our school, if the kids have a B or better in the class and haven't been absent more than 2 days (I think), they can have their teachers sign an exemption sheet, and they don't have to take the final. If I told my kids they had to take all their finals anyway, they'd definitely consider me a mean mom.

Regardless of grades, they do have to take 3 finals, but they usually get to choose which ones. So Cory took Jazz Band, and he's taking Band and Art in the next two days. Real tough, huh? I can't remember which classes Beth is taking the tests in, but she chose the classes she feels most confident in. She's got two test tomorrow. Cory's got one - so he gets to sit through one test period and read a book or something, because I'm not going to make a special trip to go pick him up. Then Thursday they've both got one test and their Phy Ed. 'culminating activity' - required, but it doesn't count as a final. And then, they're done for the school year.

I was saying they have it easy, because I was talking to my friend Maria from the library this morning. Her son goes to the high school in the next town over. In his school, the students have to take a written final in every class - no exemptions. It sounds like the tests cover not just the semester, but the entire year, and count as 30% of the grade. Oh yeah, my kids definitely have it easy.

Comparing Web Site Hosting Plans

I keep getting these emails: Choose the web hosting plan that works for you. I just keep saving them, because I want all the resources I can get when it comes to choosing a web hosting plan. I want to be able to compare the plans and hopefully make the right decision to get just what I need, when I finally decide to do it.

Tonight I was browsing Network Solutions and their web site hosting plans. They have plans from Standard to Pro, and they all include tons of storage space and lots of monthly bandwidth. All plans also include a free domain name with annual purchase, 24/7 real person customer service, 99.9% uptime, tons of email boxes, an award-winning online web site builder tool, and more. These are the kinds of things I would expect from a web host. I worked on a website redesign last year, and I just want to say that I am not at all thrilled with the host we are using. Basically, with them I get ftp and FrontPage extensions. They provide email boxes and forwarding, too, but that's about it. Network Solutions would have been a better choice just based on the options I have already listed, and there are more.

Network Solutions is the recipient of the Find My Host Editor’s Choice Award for June 2008, and they'd love to be your web host. Check them out and read all the features offered if you're looking for a web host.

One of These Things is Not Like the Other

I just had a Captcha question: which of these does not belong? dog, flower, cat, octopus.

Obviously, the Captcha didn't play Heads or Tails today.

Either that, or that could have been my Heads or Tails post. What do you think? Is that thinking outside the box?

Cookies, anyone?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Milwaukee Area Banquet and Conference Center

We're attending a wedding this coming weekend. The daughter of some of our friends is all grown up and getting married. From what I hear, planning a wedding can be quite an elaborate affair. I'm so happy I didn't know that when Jeffrey and I got married almost 22 years ago.

What I know now, is that, if you're planning a wedding, you better start planning very far in advance in order to get the place you want for your wedding and wedding reception WI. Keeping that in mind, I'm bookmarking this place in Menomonee Falls called Davians. It's a nice banquet and conference center in the area. They have experienced event coordinators to handle all the details, and, while they have packages to choose from, each event can be completely personalized. The experienced staff at Davians is there to make your event just what you want it.

Someday my daughter might decide to get married, and it will be good that I know this.

Heads or Tails - Flowers

Today's theme is:

HEADS - Flower

Every spring I really enjoy seeing these flowers along the roadsides. Last year I was pleasantly surprised to find some in my front flowerbed, though slightly disappointed that mine bloomed white, while I really, really like the purple ones. This year, I got purple!

Along the railroad tracks last spring:

In my flowerbed this spring:
Purple (after the) Rain

Since they grow wild everywhere, maybe some people would consider these a weed? I choose to consider them beautiful flowers, and I'm happy to have them to enjoy, however they came to live in my flowerbed.

Visit the home of Heads or Tails to see more participants and join in.

Invitations, As Easy as...

It won't be all that long before I'll have to start thinking about invitations. Beth will be graduating next year. Doesn't that mean we're supposed to have a graduation party or something? That's what I've heard, anyway. She's planning to graduate (or be finished with school, anyway) after first semester, so I'm not sure how that is going to work. Will she go back and go through graduation with her class in June? I'm not even going to try to guess what she will decide she wants to do.

In the meantime, I want to play with designing some invitations at VistaPrint, just to see how easy it is. First step: Choose a design. Then: add all the information, which is as easy as typing it in. The design automatically updates so you can see what it will look like. The design I chose had and event information line prefilled to say, "(without the boys)" - Since I'm creating a Let's Celebrate Beth's Graduation invitation, I changed that to say (in spite of the boys). I'm sure she'll just love that! OK, no she won't, but it's really easy to change, and then, you can even do some advanced editing, move things around, change fonts, and stuff like that.

Creating an account with VistaPrint will enable you to save your designs, so you don't have to re-design. For instance, I can save this invitation I just designed, so when we're ready to plan a party, all I have to do is enter the correct date and time (and take out that line about the boys, maybe). VistaPrint has hundreds of design templates to start with. It takes only minutes to create the perfect invitation or announcement. VistaPrint provides high-quality, full-color printing - something I really appreciate because we can't afford to print this school calendar in color. Envelopes are included, and you can receive your order in as little as 3 days.

Besides invitations, VistaPrint offers a wide variety of printing services, business cards, stationery, rubber stamps, and more. Everything is fully customizable, so if you have printing needs, check out VistaPrint.