Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Heads or Tails - See

Heads Or TailsThe theme/prompt for today, March 31, is:

Make any kind of post using either "See" or "Sea" as your prompt. You can even use both.

Cory and I just got back from the band trip to New York City yesterday. We spent 3 days in NYC, and there were all kinds of things to SEE. We went to the American Museum of Natural History where we got to see the dinosaurs and a really big whale – and more.

We toured Radio City Music Hall, where we got to see how the stage works, meet a Rockette, and see the restrooms, too – or the Gentlemen’s Lounge and the Ladies’ Lounge.

We got to walk around Times Square where there were signs and lights and people to see. And, of course M&M’s World, where Cory got to dance with the Green M&M.

…and that was just the first day. There is so much to see in New York City.

Heads or Tails is a fun weekly meme created and hosted by Skittles!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

She's all Fixed

Beth had her follow-up exam today from her heart surgery. She was actually supposed to go back 8 weeks after the surgery, but it was hard working it into her work schedule and the doctor's schedule. It's amazing that it was so easy to get the actual procedure scheduled before the end of the year!

Anyway, before the procedure she was having episodes with her heart 2 or 3 times a week. Since the surgery, she hasn't had any problems. It doesn't sound like there was much to the exam, but she's officially fixed and won't have to worry about her heart speeding up like that any more.

The bills have been coming in, and I just have to say that I'm really glad we have insurance. The last one started out at around $40,000, and we have to pay about $400. It's all worth it so that Beth doesn't have to worry about that any more.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spring Musical

Original studio cast LP version of You're a Go...Image via Wikipedia

I forgot to mention that Cory is going to be in another play. They're doing You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Cory is Linus.

Cory and I had to go to Walmart after dinner last night so he could get his contacts checked and see how he's doing with them - he's doing well. It took him a little while to get the hang of putting them in, but he's finally gotten that figured out. One of the contacts they gave him to try is the wrong one for his prescription, so he was hoping to get the right one, but they didn't have it in yet. He'll have to wait until next week to get it.

Anyway, on the way there and back we listened to the Charlie Brown music, and it was a lot of fun. There were absolutely no songs about microdermabrasion but there was a really cute one about Peter Rabbit. I think the play's going to be lots of fun. Oh, and Cory said that the person who does choreography for the Fireside Dinner Theatre is going to be doing their choreography. How cool is that?

Cory just got home from play practice, and I need to get busy on dinner...

All or Nothing

I'm going to be posting several quick posts here because I have a whole list of links that must be linked. Well, it's not a huge list, but they all have to be done before I leave. Some weeks they give me nothing and then when I don't really have time, they give me several. Not that I'm complaining, because soon they won't be giving me any at all. I'm sure they think they have their reasons, but it really makes no sense to me.

Whatever. For now, I'm just going to try to get the ones done that I do have. That way I can go on my trip and not have to worry about it. If you hear that some vessel sinks on the way to Ellis Island, you can rest easy that at least my assignments are done.


OK, I've packed, and then I took everything out of the suitcase and packed again. I didn't really change much - just double-checking because I'm obsessive like that. I keep checking the weekend forecast for New York, and it says 60 on Friday, and 52 and 54 the other days. Cory might be taking t-shirts, but that's because he wears t-shirts all the time. I'm going with the long-sleeves because I'm always cold anyway.

I think I'll be fine, and I got it all in the smallest suitcase. Cory is going with a larger suitcase because he needs to put his music stand in, and because it will let him fold his dress shirts and suit jacket a bit neater. Still, when we get to the hotel Friday night, he better hang everything up! It's not like staying in those extended stay hotels where you unpack and settle in, but some things just need to come out of the suitcase.

I can't believe it - we're leaving tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What We'll See

Here's the official list of what we're doing and seeing in New York:

  • American Museum of Natural History
  • Radio City Music Hall
  • Times Square
  • Hard Rock Cafe for dinner
  • Carnegie Hall
  • Introductory Tour of Manhattan
    • Central Park
    • Rockefeller Center
    • Little Italy
    • Chinatown
    • Greenwich Village
  • Dinner at South Street Seaport
  • New York Philharmonic Concert
  • Ferry to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration Museum
  • Public performance at the Statue of Liberty
  • Shopping/Browsing on 5th Ave.
Are we missing anything except New York Yankees tickets? If there's something in particular in all this that I should keep an eye out for and be sure not to blink, please let me know.

I know one thing - it's going to be a busy 3 days. It will be full speed ahead with not much time for sleep!

What to Pack?

It's been so cold and rainy the last couple of days that I'm having a hard time believing the weather forecast for New York. Right now it says it's 41° but it feels like 32°. That I believe. But for the time we're gonna be there? It says it's going to be 58° on Friday, 50° on Saturday, and 54° on Sunday. There is that 40% chance of precipitation on Sunday, but other than that it sounds really nice. Pray the rain holds off on Sunday, because that's the day the band is supposed to perform in front of the Statue of Liberty.

Anyway, so cold and rainy now means I want to pack for cold and rainy. I'm having a hard time deciding what I need. Cory, on the other hand, already decided what shirts he's taking a couple weeks ago.

Monday, March 23, 2009

So Much to Do in Branson

It sounds like there is something going on in Branson all the time. I'm not talking about the music shows, though up until recently I thought that was all Branson had to offer. Sure, there are music shows, and there are amusement parks, golf courses, and museums, too. There are special events going on all the time, too, like the Great American Pie Show contest I mentioned a while back and this past weekend's Young Christian's Weekend.

For all these special events and weekends, there's no better place to stay than the Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing or the HIlton Branson Convention Center Hotel. Both hotels are within easy driving distance of all the attractions in Branson, and they offer great package deals. For instance, rates started at $179/night for the Young Christian's weekend, and that was for a family of 4 and included passes to Silver Dollar City. Some other Hilton packages are a shopping package that includes accommodations, a breakfast buffet, and a gift card that can be used anywhere in Branson, and a golf package that includes accommodations and a round of golf on Branson's newest golf course. I'm pretty sure that's the package Jeffrey would like. When they say a round of golf for two, does that mean two people have to play at the same time, or can he play twice?

The only problem with that golf package is I don't know what I would do while he's playing golf. I know there's lots to do in Branson, but I don't really want to do it by myself. Oh, never mind - Misty lives somewhere not so far from Branson. While Jeffrey's playing golf, I want to hang out with my friend Misty. Together, we're sure to find something fun to do.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

I Love My GelPro Floor Mat

Remember a while back I entered that giveaway to win a GelPro kitchen floor mat? Well, I didn't win, but I did get a GelPro mat of my own. I was contacted by someone working with the company, and she asked me if I'd like to try one and review it on my blog. Of course, I jumped at the chance because I really wanted to try one of these mats!

The GelPro kitchen mats come in many different styles and colors. The one I chose is the Cordoba style in the Chestnut color. It ended up being a little browner than I had expected, but it still goes really well with my kitchen, and most importantly, it is so nice to stand on. What makes it so nice is that it has a soft, shock-absorbing gel core. I've never tried gel inserts for my shoes, but I'd guess this is like that - only better, and since I never wear shoes in the house, those wouldn't help me anyway. This floor mat is 100, 200, 300% better than those decorative kitchen slice rugs I've always had before. The only cushion those provided was from the rubberized backing.

I took this image off the GelPro website because the pictures I tried to take of my comfy feet on my own mat didn't turn out very well - so you get the mat, and no feet. Doesn't it look nice?

I spend a lot of time at the sink, preparing food and cleaning up after, so I put my mat right there in front of the sink. It has a non-stick backing, so it stays put wherever you put it, and it cleans up easily with just a wipe of a wet rag. It's new, it's pretty, I like to keep it looking good, and sometimes I even go into the kitchen and stand on it even when I don't have to. Cory really likes it, too - but apparently not enough that he's willing to volunteer to wash the dishes!

After using my GelPro floor mat for a few weeks, I believe GelPro when they say they have created the world's most comfortable and attractive anti-fatigue floor mat. If you spend a lot of time on your feet, I would definitely recommend these floor mats. They help alleviate foot pain and lower back pain, and they look nice while they do it!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Worth Mentioning

Cory finished his clay unit in art and brought home all the stuff he made. One of the things he made, consisting of several pieces, was a 'dinnerware' set. It turned out really pretty, all blue and orange - not exactly Illini colors, but at least the right colors. When Beth saw it she really liked it, and Cory told her that he had made it for her, and she could have it if she wanted. She got all excited, and she even hugged him.

Siblings, they may like to fight over sharing bath fixtures and just generally everything, but every once in a while they surprise you.

Camera Critters (#50)


Now that Spring is here, I need to get outside and get some pictures of some other critters, but for now this one is handy – and she’s so cute.  Our fluffy Tillie cat.

Camera Critters is a fun weekend meme hosted by Misty Dawn.Visit the Camera Critters headquarters and join in. There are all kinds of great critters to see!

Friday, March 20, 2009

No Matter How You Say It

I was watching Good Morning America this morning, and they had a segment on saving money by using coupons. Now, the first question is: how do you pronounce that word? Is it CUEpon? Or COOpon? They asked the audience, and it sounded like it was pretty evenly split between the two pronunciations.

No matter how you say it, using coupons can really save you a lot of money. I've heard that some people don't want to bother with coupons, maybe because they think it's just too much trouble or even because they think it's embarrassing to use them. I can't figure that last one out. If someone is willing to hand you money, is it embarrassing to use it? I don't think so! Not using a coupon on something that you would buy anyway is like throwing money away.

However, using a coupon just because you have it isn't necessarily going to save you money. The key to using coupons is to combine your coupons with the store sales and, if possible, with store coupons, too. Pile those savings up to get the best deal, and if you can get multiple coupons, stock up when you get a great deal. For instance, a couple weeks ago I got two cans of mousse, a bottle of hairspray, and a bottle of shampoo for FREE by combining the sale price, manufacturer's coupons, and the store coupon. You can't beat that.

Coupons are available in many places. My main source is the Sunday paper, and I'm trying to do a better job at looking for online coupons, too. Coupons are even available for online shopping, so there's no excuse for not using them. There may not be a coupon available for the online store you want to purchase from, but don't you owe it to yourself to at least look first? Wouldn't you hate it if you bought something from Hot Topic and then found out that there's a Hot Topic coupon for free shipping? I know I would.

I'm probably a little over-obsessed about saving money, but in this economy, can anyone really afford not to be?

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I took that stupid Twilight book off my MP3 player today and put a real vampire book on it. Then I noticed that no matter where I looked, on the player itself or on the micro SD card, I couldn't find the book I'm listening to now. I was afraid that I had somehow accidentally deleted it, too. Nope, when I unplugged the player from the computer and looked at the player itself, my book was still there. Which is good, since I'm listening to it.

Tonight I hooked the player up again and added some music, and still can't find that book. It's still there. It still plays, but the computer can't see it. There's another book on there that I've already listened to and would delete, except it's invisible, too. Really, this makes no sense.

Looking at the Sky on Friday - 9


For more info on this fun meme, click the image.

I took this one a couple weeks ago.  Again, from my back door.  Notice the roof there?  Yes, my back door looks out on a typical neighborhood – other people’s houses and yards.  Nothing exciting there.  The sky over the neighborhood is pretty special, though.


If you enjoy skies as much as I do, be sure to check out Looking at the Sky on Friday.  It’s the sky meme that welcomes links like this: what's the cheapest car insurance.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Little Better

(2/365) Ow headache...Image by Sarah G... via Flickr

I'm feeling a little better today. At least the headache went away, which makes a huge difference. I even accomplished a little bit - I got the towels folded and the shirts ironed. That was about as long as I felt like standing up, though. I started getting random pains in my legs and had to sit down a few times before I got them all done. Then I took a nice hot shower. It felt good even though the water hitting my back was kind of painful at first. Seriously, these pains are so random. I think I could use a good massage, a soak in a hot tub, or a shoulder pain pump. OK, it's not that serious, but I am achy all over.

Somebody please make it go away!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Bad and the Good

Well, at least I hope it's good.

The bad? Yesterday afternoon I suddenly started feeling really bad - like I'm getting a cold. Then it progressed to chills and aches and pains - definitely not good. I put my jammies on, turned the electric blanket on high and climbed into bed early. A few hours later I woke up, over-heated and with a really bad headache. I took something, which didn't completely take care of the headache, but took the edge off enough that I could sleep, sort of. I was cold and hot all through the night, so there was a lot of pulling the blankets up and pushing them off. Yeah, fun.

Today my headache just refused to go away. I spent most of the day dozing and not accomplishing anything. I did get out in the sun, for more dozing and Vitamin D. Cory and I had eye appointments after he got home from school, so we had to go do that. Somehow we made it through, but it certainly didn't help with the headache. I said we because Cory came home from school with the aches, pains and chills, too. So we did the eye exams. Cory got some contacts to try, and then we grabbed a few things we needed at Walmart - and got a chicken and some potato wedges for dinner, since I obviously hadn't made anything. That was about as much as I could handle, though I did manage to wash the dishes after dinner. It didn't help a lot with the chills, but the warm water was nice. The rest of the night I curled up on the couch with my blanket. And now I should really go curl up in my bed.

Oh, what could possibly be good about all that? I'm just glad, if we have to get sick, we're getting sick this week and not next. At least we better be over it by then. Because next Thursday we're leaving for New York.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What's Twitter?

So, a couple posts ago when I mentioned that a tweet could win you a MacBook Air - the post that I should have told Cory about because he doesn't always read my blog - my dad left a comment saying that no, he doesn't use Twitter. He doesn't even know what it is or why he should want to use it. He also said something about being stuck in the twilight zone or something, but that's not really true. I mean, he may be somewhere in the boonies in Kentucky, but he's pretty with it. He even has his own blog! It's called On Cedar Ridge, and it's really interesting - and I'm not just saying that because he's my dad. Really I'm not.

Anyway, for dad and anyone else who doesn't know what Twitter is, here's the video, Twitter in Plain English:

Why should you use it? Is it really important to tell the world, or at least your followers, that you're watching a commercial about Mesothelioma or feeding the piggies? Maybe not, but it's fun.

And Cory - I don't know why you don't always read my blog. Are there really more important things for you to do on the Internet?

What Else Do We Need?

Times Square - New York City, New York / ニューヨー...Image by Jose P Isern Comas via Flickr
We went running around today. I had a coupon for a $6.99 haircut at Great Clips, and Cory was starting to look shaggy, so I thought it would be a good idea to get him a haircut before New York. Then, of course, he decided that he liked his hair the length it was and wasn't sure he wanted a haircut. We told him he didn't have to get it cut real short but a trim would be nice - and it does look better. And I feel better not wasting a good coupon.

Then we went to multiple stores trying to find Cory a new white dress shirt because the neck on his current one has gotten pretty tight and uncomfortable. Of course we just realized this when he had to wear it for the band concert last week, and of course he needs a shirt for the New York trip. We found him a real nice burnt orange shirt with a tie and a tux shirt at Kohl's, but no plain white dress shirt. We checked Target, no luck but we did find some travel blankets and pillows on clearance, so we grabbed those. Those pillows especially are going to make the bus trip a lot more comfortable. They're the kind that go around your neck, and they're filled with micro beads so they're fun to mess with, and they're soft - so they're great on all kinds of levels.

We made a trip to Home Depot, too to get a new water heater. Ours has done its job for 12 years, and it's time for a new one. We hit Best Buy where we looked at cameras and Cory got a new game for one of his little portable game players.
Olive GardenImage via Wikipedia
Then we ate dinner at Olive Garden - I had a coupon for there, too. I tried a new soup, the Chicken & Gnocchi, and it was really good. Of course, I ate too much because I had to have a bowl of Pasta e Fagioli, too. And those breadsticks! Jeffrey and Cory both had their favorite Braised Beef & Tortelloni, and they were really good and brought half of it home.

After dinner we finally stopped at Walmart and found Cory a nice enough white dress shirt for a good price. And he said he needed some new white undershirts so he grabbed those, too. He looked at some watches, but we decided we'd spent enough for one day and he could live without a new watch. I got a new black sweatshirt for $5 that will layer nicely under my jacket, so I'm happy with that. We looked for new rechargeable batteries, but they didn't have the ones we wanted, so I'll have to grab some this week, and I still need to decide what I want to use for a water bottle. Luckily I remembered that we have a really big one that I can fill up and take on the bus. I just need something that I can carry with me easily - and can I use one I already have or should I buy a new one?
Enhanced by Zemanta

Save $2 on Snuggle

Snuggle, the fabric softener with the cute teddy bear on the label, has just released two new fabric softeners. They're called Snuggle Crème, and they come in two scents, Sweet Almond and Jojoba Essence. Smells bother me a lot of times, but the website describes these fragrances as delicate, so I'm hoping that means they're nice but not overwhelming. The Sweet Almond fragrance sounds nice, but I won't really know until I get to the store and smell them for myself.

Snuggle Crème is supposed to leave your clothes feeling smooth, soft, and delightfully fresh to wear. Sounds nice, right? What's even nicer than soft, fresh clothes? Soft, fresh clothes for less money, of course! Click on the teddy bear to print a coupon and save $2.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Tweet for a Mac

Do you use Twitter? If you don't, now would be a very, very good time to sign up and get started. Why now, you ask? Because now you have the chance to win a MacBook Air from ben behrouzi. All it takes to enter is one tweet letting Ben know that you want in on this great giveaway. Seriously, one tweet could snag you a brand new, completely free MacBook Air. I'm definitely in!

Cory has been making noises about needing wanting a Mac so he can do all kinds of cool video editing, so he better enter this giveaway for himself because nothing says I'd give it to him if I win! I'm sure I could learn to use a Mac. Have you seen the commercials for this computer? It's so thin!

I don't see anything that says you have to be a certain age to be eligible, and it looks like it's open to everyone, regardless of location. So what are you waiting for? Check out the giveaway to find out exactly how you get entered. The winner will be picked by random drawing on March 31, 2009. Like Ben says, "You have to be in it to win it." This tweet giveaway is so easy to enter, why wouldn't you be in it?


Camera Critters (#49)


I got something that I like very much and will be telling you about soon.  It came in this box.  Tillie thought the box was for her, of course, and she had a good time with it for a while.  She’s a little blurry , but I liked the way these pictures went together.

of a cat named Tillie ... See my Tabblo>

Camera Critters is a fun weekend meme hosted by Misty Dawn.Visit the Camera Critters headquarters and join in. There are all kinds of great critters to see!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sun in His Eyes

We were sitting at dinner tonight and Cory mentioned that it had been a while since the sun got in his eyes during dinner. Yep, the time changed. The sun is shining right in at dinner time. Eventually, when Jeffrey gets the pergola built, that should help. In the meantime, I guess we need to pull the Window Blinds at dinner time, huh?

Wish Upon a Hero

I hadn't heard of this site until I saw it on the news tonight - again ABC World News with Charles Gibson. I think it's a great idea, an online community of people helping people. People post wishes which can be answered by 'heroes' who can make those wishes come true. Some wishes are big, some small. To quote Wish Upon a Hero founder Dave Girgenti:
"If you want to become a hero it's as easy as clicking on someone's wish that you are emotionally connected with," Girgenti said. "You never know what your super power is, meaning you never know what you can grant because it's as simple as advice or a birthday card. Anyone can be a hero."

Such a cool idea, huh? Visit Wish Upon a Hero to see if there's someone who needs you - and if you have a wish, maybe you'll find your hero.

Read the ABC News story

Dolphin Bubbles on the News

Have you seen the way the dolphins at SeaWorld blow bubbles and play with them yet? I just found out about it a couple weeks ago, and I still think it's one of the neatest things ever. I admit to watching the video on the Dolphin Bubbles blog quite a few times. Then, just the other night on World News with Charles Gibson, there was a story about those SeaWorld dolphins.

We were eating dinner when the story came on. Yes, I know, they say you shouldn't leave the television on during dinner, Shhh! Anyway, Charlie Gibson started talking about it, and I said, "You have to watch this. This is so amazing." - or some such thing. I was really excited to see it on the news. So we sat there and we watched the dolphins and their bubbles. I loved the slow motion parts showing how the dolphins control the bubbles and bite them to make them smaller. It just amazes me how smart and playful and gorgeous these dolphins are! I love the videos, but now I really want to visit SeaWorld and see this for myself.

If you haven't had the chance to see any of the videos, you'll want to visit Dolphin Bubbles to see for yourself. There are also some nice pictures, which I wish were bigger so I could use them for wallpaper (hint, hint -wouldn't that be a great a new feature for the Dolphin Bubbles site?). There are also some interesting posts by moms who have recently visited SeaWorld with their families. It looks like so much fun, and I'm really kind of jealous!

I guess I'll have to live vicariously through them for now, and watch this video over and over, and over.

Amazing, huh?


Cory Can Convert His Own Movies

After converting 5 of Cory's movies so he can put them on his Zune, I figured out how to get the program onto his computer - even though he missed the Giveaway of the Day. So, I downloaded the program and converted a movie using the program on Cory's computer. Now, on my computer, if the movie is 2 hours long, it takes 2 hours to convert it to MP4, but on Cory's computer it is a lot faster. The first one took about 45 minutes for a movie that was a little over 2 hours long.

Needless to say (but saying it anyway) - movies will be converted on Cory's computer from now on. They're his movies for his Zune anyway, so why should I have to spend so much time doing it?

This software is going to be very useful. You know how many of the movies you buy now come with a digital copy? Well, when we bought The Dark Knight, Jeffrey bought the 2-disc version with the digital copy. And Cory couldn't get it to work with his Zune. Somebody explain why a Microsoft music player cannot play the Microsoft .wmv files. Anyway, we basically spent extra money to get a digital version of a movie that no-one can use, or that is only playable on the computer and not on the portable device we bought it for. Now we'll just create our own digital copies.

Get Me In to that U2 Concert

The closest I've ever been to aU2 concert is watching them on Good Morning America last week. Watching a concert on TV isn't quite the same as being there, though. For the whole experience, you just have to be there. I could pass on the whole cigarette smoke thing, but I guess that depends on where the concert is held.

Anyway, since U2 just released their new CD No Line On The Horizon and are going on tour again, now is the time to think about getting U2 tickets. The GET ME IN! web site has a list of the concert dates and locations, unfortunately none of them close to me, and fans can buy and sell tickets safely. All transactions are guaranteed.

GET ME IN! is part of Ticketmaster, the world's largest ticketing company, so if you're looking for U2 tickets or you have some to sell, check them out. I guess I'll just have to settle for the new CD, or at least pull out some of my old ones.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday - 8


For more info on this fun meme, click the image.

I braved the cold to run outside and get some pictures of the sunrise this morning. These are from out front of my house this time, on the driveway.

It was a beautiful way to start the day!

If you enjoy skies as much as I do, be sure to check out Looking at the Sky on Friday.

Two Weeks!

Two weeks until Cory and I leave for New York with the band. So I've got all these things going through my head - what to pack being the main one. Do I want to wear sweats on the bus or do I have jeans that are comfortable enough to wear all night on the bus and then all day the next day. I'm not really looking forward to that bus ride. We're leaving school at about 3 in the afternoon, driving all night, arriving in New York the next morning and spending the day touring the American Museum of Natural History, Radio City Music Hall and Times Square. We finally get to check in to the hotel at 9:30 that night. Doesn't that sound like fun?

Anyway, I've got two weeks to be ready so I'm making a list of the things that need done:
  • Clean off my SD cards so I have room for lots of pictures
  • Get new batteries for the camera (Jeffrey is supposed to take care of this)
  • Put music and books on MP3 player for the bus ride - there and back
  • Decide what goes in the suitcase and what needs to be in the backpack - because of that not getting to the hotel until the next night thing
  • Decide on snacks to take
  • Find out what the weather is supposed to be like so I know what coat/jacket to wear
  • Convert movies to MP4 so Cory can put them on his Zune (and why can't Cory do this himself? Because he didn't download the converter from Giveaway of the Day even though I told him about it. So, if you know of a good DVD to MP4 converter he can get for free, please let me know. Thanks)
I know it will all come together in the end, but what am I forgetting?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Don't Know Much

According to Cory, I got that whole Newton thing wrong in my post a couple days ago. He explained it all, though I'm not sure I understood it.

Sometimes my kids talk about what they're learning in school, and I wonder if I learned that when I was in school. If I did, I can't remember it now. It makes me wonder how important the stuff I learned in school really was. Of course, I could never say that when Beth was complaining about how much she hated school and how she was never going to use anything she learned, anyway.

Looking back, I'm sure I learned the things I was supposed to in school. I'm not sure if I learned because I was interested and wanted to learn, or just because I wanted to get good grades. I do remember enjoying organic chemistry, sociology, and studying WWII and the history of Rock 'n Roll in history class, but that's about it. Oh, and I did like Algebra but hated Geometry. Do I actually remember any of it? Not so much.

Thankfully, I've discovered the Don't Know Much About series of books by Kenneth C. Davis. I have the latest one Don't Know Much About anything else, and it is packed with all kinds of things I never learned about famous people, exceptional places, historic happenings, remarkable inventions, and more. I love the format of this book. You get a page with a short paragraph about the subject then a short quiz with a few fun questions. For instance the page for California looks like this:
From Death Valley and Silicon Valley and Napa Valley to Valley Girls, California is a special state - of mind. America's most populous state, which was admitted into the Union in 1850 following the Mexican War, discovered gold in 1848 and experienced the Gold Rush in 1849. America's third largest state (after Alaska and Texas) has been attracting dreamers for centuries. What do you know about the "Golden State"? Try this quick quiz:
  1. Where does the word California come from?
  2. Who were the first Europeans to settle in California?
  3. The 1930s influx of migrant workers into California inspired what novel by which native Californian?
  4. If California has one great fault, what is it?
...and then you turn the page for the answers. I got #4 right! (What? You think I should give you the answers? I was going to say you need to get the book for those, but I'll leave them in a comment. If you want to see what else you can learn, you'll need the book for that.)

The whole Don't Know Much About series is built around quirky, offbeat and occasionally irreverent questions meant to get people thinking in new ways. It's real quick and easy to just pick the book up in a spare moment and learn something new. And it's fun - if only learning could be so interesting in school! I might even start understanding what the kids are learning - either that or I 'll know stuff they don't know much about. Now, won't that be fun?

Another random question about California: In what city in California was I born? ( you won't find the answer to that one in the book!)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Help With the Job Search

In today's iffy economy, so many people are losing jobs and don't know where to turn. Finding a new job can be extremely stressful, and all resources are welcome, right? The people at Lightship Research have put together a job search strategy that is a little different than the average. It involves developing contacts and helping you get in touch with the people who have the power to hire.

See what people are saying:

"I highly recommend Lightship Research http://www.lightshipresearch.com I was the CTO of a division of a Fortune 500 company and got laid off when the division was sold to another company. I had not looked for a job in 15 years and I didn’t even have a resume. I signed up and in 4 days I had a resume and a target list of companies that we were going to attack. Even though these guys knew how to market me and take care of all the technical aspects of the search, the biggest value to me was guiding me through the process and giving me support all along the way. I got a job in 5 weeks. I think they were glad to get rid of me, I hounded them with questions every day and they were always there to answer them, even on weekends."

T. Klineman, NY

Always Working on the Car

Every once in a while we get a box of car parts that shows up on our front step. Beth's boyfriend Tim has been working on fixing his car up. From what I understand, he's got two Dodge Neons, and he's using parts from one in the other one, switching things around, ordering new parts, etc. Eventually, he'll have one car fixed up just the way he likes it, and he'll have another one to sell. He's trying to decide if it would be better to just sell it for parts or as a complete car. Either way, he spends a lot of time working on the cars.

Anyway, the car parts. Why do they come to our house? Tim doesn't have his own bank account, so Beth orders the parts for him, puts them on her credit card and has them sent here, and Tim pays her back. I think he gets a lot of his parts on eBay, so there's no guarantee or customer service. I wonder if he knows about Car Parts Warehouse (www.carpartswarehouse.com) where they have parts for all brands of cars. They guarantee the lowest prices and have free shipping, and offer toll free sales and support. You can't get that on eBay, so check it out if you need parts for your car.

Monday, March 09, 2009

I Can't Fight Newton

Newton’s first law—an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an unbalanced force while an object in motion will remain in motion with constant speed and direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

I'm not sure that's exactly what I mean - but I just feel like I can't get started. I was working on cleaning and cooking and fun stuff like that last week and didn't have much time for blogging, and I'm having a hard time getting back into it. I think there are things I want to say. I just don't know what they are.

Anybody else have this problem?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Camera Critters (#48)


Look at the gift basket we got!

OK, so the cat didn’t actually come in the basket.  Actually it was a Smucker’s/Stars on Ice gift basket I got from winning the contest on My Wooden Spoon.  I got all kinds of Smucker’s jams, jellies, preserves, and ice cream toppings – a whole basket full!  There was also some great Stars on Ice stuff and a Peter Cetera CD.  It was so much fun to open!

Anyway, I took all the stuff out of the basket and put it away, so we had an empty basket.  And we had a cat.  Obviously those two go together, or at least Beth thought so.  Tillie wasn’t so sure.

Look at the camera, Tillie.

Oh, the things this cat has to put up with! 

Camera Critters is a fun weekend meme hosted by Misty Dawn.Visit the Camera Critters headquarters and join in. There are all kinds of great critters to see!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday - 7


For more info on this fun meme, click the image.

Once again, sunset from my back door.

I really should get out more! Still, the view from my back door is pretty good, don't you think?

If you enjoy skies as much as I do, be sure to check out Looking at the Sky on Friday.

So Much Clutter

I feel like I haven't been around much the last few days. I've been trying to get my house cleaned - dusting, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, etc. Why does it have to take so long? Why? And where does all the clutter come from? I try my best to sort, handle and recycle the mail as it comes in, but it seems there's always something that I think we might need later, so it gets put aside. And we usually don't do anything with it - except move it to another surface to get it out of the way. Then when I decide to clean, it seems to take forever because I have to deal with all the stuff that has piled up since the last time. And still, there is stuff.

At least it's a little better now. I just need to do a better job of tossing stuff the first time. If we get catalogs for Dansko shoes, neat kitchen gadgets, or Victoria's Secret lingerie that I know I'm never going to buy, I might as well toss them immediately instead of hanging onto them just in case I suddenly get the urge to order something. It never happens.

Or maybe I'll just hold onto those Victoria's Secret catalogs - it gives Jeffrey hope. (See my problem?)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Chasing the Dark Away

I was complaining today about the time changing this weekend, because I'm going to lose the light in the mornings. I'm over it now, because I realized that moving an hour of daylight to the end of the day instead of the beginning might mean I have to walk in the dark again for a while, but what it also means is that Misty might actually start getting home from work before dark. Somehow it just seems selfish to complain about walking in the dark when I think about it that way.

I'm not completely selfless, though - I am looking forward to all the amazing photos I know she'll share once she gets some light.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Pies and Prizes in Branson

I've won a pie contest or two in my life. The secret? Make chocolate! At least it seemed that way. One time I made this really complicated, caramel apple pie which I thought was amazing, but that didn't win. The next two times I made chocolate pie and won both times.

What does this have to do with anything? I just found out about the first annual Great American Pie Contest which is going to be held in Branson April 24-25 this year. Al Roker from the Today show will be there, and first prize is $2,500 cash, plus a trip for two for a 4-day/3-night fun-filled vacation in Branson. There are special room rates available at the Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel, which is adjacent to the Branson Convention Center, where the pie contest is being held. This special block of rooms is available for April 20 – 29 and can be reserved through March 22 or until they're sold out.

So, a vacation to Branson, with special room rates, to enter the pie contest could mean another vacation to Branson. Two for the price of one! And pie. The more I look at things to do in Branson, the more I think I want to go there someday. I like the idea of the pie contest, but Jeffrey probably wouldn't be too excited about that. He'd rather have me make that chocolate pie just for him. I think he'd like playing golf and seeing some shows, though. I'd like to visit the Titanic museum and Silver Dollar City, and that's only the beginning. There's so much there that you definitely need to plan your visit beforehand, and stay for a while - or win that pie contest and go back. Remember - chocolate!


Heads or Tails – Getting There

This week's theme/prompt is:
HEADS – Getting There

There was a choir concert at school last night, and Jeffrey helped by running the sound. I had a Band Boosters meeting so I didn’t get to see/hear the concert, but I did help him carry stuff in and pack it up when things were over. Beth had to work, and Cory had a Forensics meet, so neither one of them was available to help. But that’s not what I wanted to talk about – don’t worry, I’m getting there.

Toilet paper

Image via Wikipedia

What I'm getting to is – the restroom. I realize it’s a school, and the stalls are probably a little small, but every time I go in there I wonder how you’re really supposed to get in there. It was bad enough before, when they had regular toilet paper holders on the wall, but a while back they replaced those with the really big paper holders that hold those huge rolls. I’m sure it’s supposed to save money and be more efficient, but it’s practically impossible to get into one of those stalls now. First you have to open the door all the way, push it right against the wall. Then, you have to slide past the big paper holder on the other wall of the stall and get in between the toilet and the wall with one leg, so there’s room to close the door, and then you can step back around the toilet paper holder and the toilet to take care of business. And then, of course, reverse the process to get out. This problem is, of course, not limited to the school restroom. This seems to be a problem in a majority of public restrooms. Getting in there and getting out is just not easy.

Now, I’m not a big person, so every time I go through this process, I wonder how people who are a little larger or less able to move are able to get there at all. Maybe they’re all waiting for the one handicapped stall – otherwise known as the only stall with a door that opens out and that has room to turn around in. Any ideas – besides drinking less water and avoiding public restrooms altogether?

Heads or Tails is a fun weekly meme created and hosted by Skittles!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

We've lived in this house for more than 10 years, and we still don't have a deck or patio. I'm not really complaining, because I didn't want to go into debt just so we could have a patio. A lot of the people in the neighborhood don't wait - there was even a house or two that had a patio before even getting a driveway. I guess it's all about your priorities, and while having a patio will be nice, it has never been a big priority for us. But now I think we're getting closer to having that patio.

Jeffrey has it all planned out, and he even had someone come and dig the holes for the pergola posts last fall. As soon as the weather gets warmer, he's got a project to work on - putting in the pergola - and then we can work on the patio. It would be nice if we could get it done this year. I've been looking at some patio furniture and I'm starting to picture how nice it is going to be. Done right, a patio can be like a whole extra room on your house, and I think we'll spend a lot of time out there. I'm already looking forward to sitting out there having my coffee in the mornings and having dinner out there, too. Since Jeffrey is building a pergola for shade, we won't need any of these patio umbrellas to make it shady and comfortable.

We will definitely need a nice table and some comfy chairs, though. What I don't know is if I want wicker furniture or cast aluminum, cushions or not. Seriously, there are so many choices. I don't think I realized how many until I started looking around the Today's Swim & Patio website. It's nice to be able to look around and get an idea of what I like, before I have to actually make a decision. I have a little while.