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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The verbose spam mystery

When I logged into write a post today, I saw that I had a few comments to be moderated. Generally, comments to my blog automatically appear, but if they are on a post that was written a while ago, they're saved for my review and approval.

Most comments that are on old posts are spam. I mark them as such and forget about them. But the one awaiting me today really got me thinking. It was on the Office Bathroom Etiquette post (one of my most viewed).

This was the comment:

I give birth to read a insufficient of the articles on your website trendy, and I extremely like your fashionableness of blogging. I added it to my favorites net stage muster and last will and testament be checking stand behind soon. Please check out my position as highly and vindicate me conscious what you think. Thanks. 

Huh? I'm used to the spammers who say stuff like "Nice blog you have here. I like to read such themes and everything connected with it. By the way Viagra cheap!"

But wordy verse makes absolutely no sense. First of all, the words "trendy" and "fashionableness" are not frequently associated with me. That's when I got to thinking that maybe it was military or drug cartel secret hidden in the comment section of my blog. Like the real message is in every 5th word or something:

I give birth to read a insufficient of the articles on your website trendy, and I extremely like your fashionableness of blogging. I added it to my favorites net stage muster and last will and testament be checking stand behind soon. Please check out my position as highly and vindicate me conscious what you think. Thanks.

Well, or something like that. Or maybe the message was intended to be read backwards. "Think you what conscious me vindicate and highly as position my..." 

That's not it either.  I don't really know what it's supposed to say because of course the comment came from Anonymous. I wish I did know, though, because if I really have been added to his/her last will and testament, I'd like to be contacted at the time of his/her passing -- especially if there is lots of money or jewelry involved. 

So, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous, if you really are some wealthy benefactor who thinks my blog is trendy and full of fashionableness, please visit again soon. If you're a terrorist or mobster or some other thug, I've given your message more than its fair share of spotlight. Don't bother coming back. Your next comment won't see the light of day.

The rest of you lovely readers? Comment at will!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Losing my resolve

I decided several weeks ago that I was not going to go Black Friday shopping this year. This is a definite deviation from the norm for me. I always participate in the madness that is Black Friday. I go for the deals and for the social experience -- the thrill of the hunt.

But this year, I'd looked at several of the sneak peek Black Friday ads online and just didn't see anything that I had to have...or at least that I was willing to lose good sleep over. I consulted my Christmas spreadsheet and realized that there wasn't much on there that matched up with the big sales. So I decided to forgo Black Friday shopping; and I was quite content with my decision.

Then someone shared with me the link to one of Target's funny Black Friday how-to videos. That's when I began to feel like everybody who's anybody is going to be at the stores at o'dark a.m. A trip to Target for groceries on Wednesday night only made my Black Friday juices flow even more. They were prepping the store for the big sale -- large spaces had been cleared and pallets of mystery items stood concealed in boxes waiting for their big Friday morning reveal.

Deep breath, Amy. It's not a bargain if you don't need it. Do not get caught up in the madness. Enjoy the slow pace of family time.

The self-talk worked. When I looked at the Target ad this morning -- I'd seen it online already but there's something different about holding it in your hands -- I was largely untempted. I should have stopped there. But no...I had to go on to the Kohl's ad. Holy cow! Those Kohl's people have some amazing discounts happening. And they open at 3am! And KMart has a great deal on a trampoline with enclosure. The kids would love one of those.

Slow breathing...consult the spreadsheet...right, nothing on my list that I have to find at Kohl's. Let alone at 3am. Although, Toys 'R Us is opening in just a few minutes. And Meijer has been open all day.

Stop it! Resist the urge. Call a sponsor. Go to a meeting.

Ok, ok. I can do this. I can enjoy Black Friday as a family day. I will not go to a store in search of unbelievable deals. Although, I did see something in the Walgreens ad and a drugstore doesn't really count, does it?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

9 rotten things I'm thankful for

  1. Rush hour traffic -- Thank you, God, that I have a job to go to and a car to get myself there and back.
  2. Extra weight -- Thank you, God, that I am not one of those many who go hungry.
  3. Insomnia -- Thank you, God, for the quiet spaces that I find, even when they are at 4am.
  4. Long lines at the grocery store -- Thank you, God, for the blessing of being able to feed my family.
  5. Road construction -- Thank you, God, for paved roads instead of rocky, rutty paths and for jobs for all those people who work on them.
  6. Notes from the teacher -- I long ago discovered that an e-mail from the teacher with just your child's name in the subject line is almost never good news. But thank you, God, my children have teachers who care about their success.
  7. Mountains of laundry -- Thank you, God, that we have clothes to wear and a washer/dryer at home.
  8. That time of the month -- Thank you, God, for the amazing workings of my body.
  9. Bills -- Thank you God, for electricity and heat, wireless internet and modern medicine.
What rotten things are you thankful for?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    The blog posts that weren't

    I've spent too much time tonight trying to decide what to blog about. Here are the topics that didn't make the cut:
    1. Movies to fold laundry by. Been there, blogged that.
    2. As seen on TV products I'd like to own
    3. Black Friday black out -- no crazy shopping for me this year.
    4. On being a boy Mom
    5. Hanging on for dear life -- A video I shot from my office today of squirrels in a tree. This one might appear later.
    If you blog, feel free to borrow one of these ideas. Got any other brilliant blog topics you'd like to read here? I'm all ears!

    Sunday, November 21, 2010

    Seasons of love

    525,600 minutes in a year. That means as of tomorrow, my grandparents will have been married for 34,187,040 minutes (if I accounted for the leap years correctly).

    To save you from having whip out your calculators or engage in mental math, that is 65 years.



    13 children. More than 30 grandchildren (I've lost count). Who knows how many great-grandchildren, but probably more than 2 dozen.

    I asked them at their celebration last night what the secret to 65 years of marriage is. My grandpa said "Lots of love." My grandma said "I fed him lots of good food."

    I'm pretty sure both responses are resounding truth.

    Friday, November 19, 2010

    Bucket filler


    At the beginning of each school year, the kids' school reads a book about being a bucket filler -- being helpful and kind, essentially filling someone else's bucket. The converse is being a bucket dipper, definitely frowned upon.

    To encourage bucket filling behaviors, teachers and staff can "catch" students in acts of helpfulness and issue them an orange "bucket filler" slip of paper. The student then gets to take the paper to the school office, where they are thanked for their behavior and the paper is put into a bucket where all the records of kindness for that week are kept. Then on Fridays, four or five names are drawn from the office's bucket and those students are recognized after Mass.

    Robbie has been obsessed with bucket fillers. For several weeks, he's come home from school and said something along these lines:

    "Mom, I let Ty in front of me in the lunch line today. Was that a bucket filler?" 

    "Mom, Hannah dropped her crayons today and I helped her pick them up. Was that a bucket filler?"

    Then I explain to him that you don't have get the orange slip of paper for something to be a bucket filler, that if you do something that makes someone else feel good and you probably feel good about helping, that's indeed a bucket filler. But he was waiting for the paper.

    The wait was over yesterday. Robbie got a bucket filler slip for helping a friend who dropped something. He was so excited. So today, I went to school for Mass and to see if he would be one of those recognized after Mass. 

    OK -- really, I went to the office to see if I could ensure that his name would be called at Mass because I knew how much it would mean to him. But when I got there, the names had already been drawn and his was one of them (I think maybe his teacher had something to do with that.), so it was legit.

    After Mass was over, the student council president (an 8th grade boy who was filling in for the principal),  began announcing the bucket filler honorees. The first student came forward, shook the student council president's hand, and accepted a small charm. Then Robbie's name was called. 

    I watched as he jumped up as though he'd just been called to come on down to Contestant's Row on The Price is Right. He ran down the aisle to the front of the church, where the student council president stood waiting to shake his hand. Instead, Robbie ran right up to him, wrapped his arms around the kid's waist and gave him a big, joyful hug. 

    I know I'm biased and all, but it was so cute! In fact, it went a long way to fill my bucket today.

    Facebook, I thought we were friends

    I love Facebook -- probably a little too much. But it's been such a great way for me to keep connected to my brothers and sisters, my bazillion cousins, friends I used to hang out at Mom's group with (before we got too busy being moms that we don't have time to see each other), old high school friends and 500+ other people that I've felt a need to be connected to. What can I say? I'm a social creature.

    And probably like most Facebook users, I click those links to find out which Harry Potter character I am, what color my personality is, and tonight, who has deleted me as a friend. Turns out that last one was spam. I figured that out once it took me to some page that wanted me to complete a survey before it would show me my results. I didn't take the survey and clicked out of the app. But by then, I'd already given it permission to access my information, make posts to my wall and who knows what else.

    Fast forward to a few hours later, after I woke up from my evening nap, and I realized that the stupid app had posted the spammy link on my personal page, on the 4th Frog page and on the page I manage for work. I clicked delete on those posts, but knew I needed to go in and remove the entire application.

    This is where I started feeling icky about Facebook. Let me be clear, it's not Facebook's fault. I (half) read  those agreements about allowing access to my profile, my high school SAT scores, and my last performance review when I clicked on "how much do you know about Spongebob Squarepants" and "which Glee character would you mash up best with" and others. What I didn't realize -- or at least pay attention to -- is that fact that long after I clicked "allow" on those applications, they would live on in my Facebook account and had my permission to access my information.

    When I went in to my account privacy settings to delete the "who deleted you" app, I saw the list of all those stupid quizzes I've taken. There were actually fewer than I would have expected. What was really unsettling, though, were the apps that had accessed my information and data long after I figured out that my personality is green and I'm Ron Weasley. I could also see that some of the apps, like my favorites Scrabble and "God Wants You to Know," had never accessed my data.

    So I removed about 30 apps I'd previously granted access to, ignored requests for 40 more, and changed my Facebook password for good measure. I'm still a fan of Facebook. But I'm also a more cautious and more aware one as well.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Aw, potatoes!

    The last time I went to the grocery store, I was on a mission. I had a set amount of cash in my wallet and I didn't want to spend more than that amount. So I took out my trusty iPhone (calculator included) and started adding up my total as I dropped things into the cart.

    Boy, it's amazing how much more I think about things like fruit snacks and tortilla chips when I'm shopping that way. Anyway...I made my way to the produce section. There was a big bag of potatoes -- 5 or 10lbs., I can't remember which, for some ridiculously low price. $2 or so, I think.

    I thought "Potatoes. Inexpensive. Versatile. Chock full o' vitamins." and slung the bag into the cart.

    Last night I opened the bag to make oven baked fries to go with our dinner. I was feeling triumphantly Martha Stewart in a frugal sort of way. I even got out my fancy Pampered Chef wavy slicer thing (I'm sure it has a more sophisticated name) and cut the potatoes with that.

    I placed the slices on my Pampered Chef baking stone, sprinkled them with salt, popped them into the oven and...


    I am SO hiring a personal chef when I win the lottery! And now what am I going to do with the other 9-1/2 pounds of potatoes?

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    It's all my mom's fault

    Last week I broke a tooth -- or broke off a filling that was on the tooth, I'm not quite sure which -- and it's all my mom's fault.

    I broke the tooth when I was chewing on ice.

    I was chewing on ice because I'm anemic.

    I'm anemic because I take Nexium, which inhibits iron absorption.

    I take Nexium for esophagus-searing acid reflux. Seriously, I'd give up the internet before I gave up my Nexium.

    I get my esophagus-searing acid reflux from my mother. Not that she gives me heartburn. I mean that her genes cursed my esophagus. My brother's too.

    And that is why it's my mother's fault that I broke my tooth.

    Unless you want to argue it's bad teeth. Those are my dad's fault.

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    In my best Oprah voice...

    it's time for Fridaaaay FraaaghMENTS!

    Mommy's Idea

    This week has just zipped by. I much prefer that to those weeks where Tuesday feels like it should be Friday.

    Now that I've got my hair squared away, I'm thinking of giving my blog a makeover. It's had the same look for about 2 years. Well, my froggy does get a hat and scarf in the winter time. But I'm thinking maybe something to freshen up the place a bit. What do you think? Got any good ideas?

    I had the opportunity to interview for a new job at work recently. It would have been full-time (I work 3/4 time now.) There were a lot of good reasons to go for it. But in the end, I decided that now is just not the time. While Annie is pretty independent, the boys still need a lot of guidance and hand-holding when it comes to after school and homework. So I declined the interview, though the extra money would have been handy. Since then, Mike has been approached about a new freelance opportunity and I had one drop in my lap today. Together, these won't make up what I could have earned by going full-time, but I do feel like these opportunities are validation that I made the right decision and the patience and family focus is paying off.

    This internet stuff can just get you sucked in, can't it? But I have to think that anyone with internet access probably never pays full price for anything ever again. I've been doing the Swagbucks thing for a while and have earned about $150 worth of credit at Amazon. Then I became familiar with Groupon, which offers great deals on restaurants, spa services, museum and recreation admissions, etc. Some of the deals are city-specific, others are web-based deals. Now there's Eversave. Very similar to Groupon, but with deals that seem to be a bit more eclectic. My best Eversave deal so far? $19 for a mani-pedi at a local salon. Even better, I got it free because someone I referred to Eversave made a purchase. Woohoo! 

    I'm going holiday bazaaring with my mom and sister on Saturday. It's become our own little tradition. (SMB -- are you sure you don't want to join us?). I don't usually buy much, but it's fun to browse and count how many times my mom picks up something, then whispers to me..."I could make that," even though we both know she won't.

    A Facebook friend of mine posted a picture of a skillet with white powdery stuff in it. Her 7 year old son tried to make pancakes and started by dumping the pancake mix right into the pan. That was funny. But what was REALLY funny was the story one of the guys who commented on it told about his son. He gave me permission to repeat it here:

    Try taking your 15 year old son to the DMV to get his learners permit. I have told him all along that he is responsible for having everything he needs to get this done. We show up to the DMV and get out of my truck to go in and he has NOTHING in his hands, no birth certificate, no SS card, no NOTHING... so I ask my young Generation 'next' genius if he brought anything with him as proof of i.d. and do you know what he said? He looked at me like I was the dumbest person ever thought of and said, and I freaking quote..."can't they just google me?"

    Hope you have a great weekend. Mine is quite full, but I'm hoping to find some time to reclaim my office space in the basement. I used to do all my work there when I used a desktop computer. With the laptop I can work from the couch, the bed, the kitchen table...and I do. But I'm not nearly as productive. So back to the basement and the laser-focused productivity...(as soon as I check Facebook...)!

    PS -- Popping back in because I forgot that I wanted to add a link to a post about the Veterans History Project. If you know and love a veteran, please check it out. What a great way to honor our U.S. veterans. 

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    7 + 1 = 10

    Some days I collapse into bed and think, "hopefully tomorrow will be better." In a few minutes, I'll climb under the covers and think, "hopefully tomorrow will be just as good as today."

    7 good things from my day:
    1. I didn't have to drive the kids to school, so I enjoyed and extra 20-30 minutes lounging around.
    2. I found a packet of instant oatmeal in my desk at work just as I was getting hungry for a snack.
    3. I had a really easy going conference about Robbie with his teacher, the resource director and the township school representatives. He's having a great year, which made this conference far better than previous ones.
    4. I had a long overdue lunch with a friend I've known for 11 years. We've been trying to get together for about two months and today we finally made it work. Plus, I was introduced to a great restaurant I'd never been to.
    5. No one complained about what I served for dinner. That alone could warrant its own blog post.
    6. Mike was contacted out of the blue about doing some freelance work that could bring in some nice extra money each month.
    7. Mike and I ditched a meeting tonight and opted for some family togetherness instead. We had fudgesicles and watched the movie "Annie."
    Seven good things in one day makes a perfect 10 in my book!

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010



    Ahhh...much better. This morning I reached the limits of my patience with my hair. It was heavy and hanging in my eyes and just not working for me. That, plus the fact that my eyebrows looks liked wild caterpillars, was enough to move me from whining about my hair to doing something about it.

    PhotobucketI decided to take up the local Supercuts on the invitation they left in the comments on my hair rant. Just for good measure, I arrived wearing my signature binder clip, wondering if they would recognize me by the accessory. It turns out that Kim, one of the stylists recommended to me, hadn't seen my rant, so mostly she just thought I was a bit strange for sporting office supplies in my tresses.

    PhotobucketSitting in the chair, I told Kim what was frustrating me about my hair and she offered a few thoughts about what direction we could go in. She didn't dislike the longish bang look, but heard me about not loving it. I showed her a few pictures of me with bangs (like the one in my profile here) and she was ready to get to work. She was even a good sport when I asked if I could snap a pic of the two of us before we got started.

    I opted for the Supercut III -- a wash, cut and blow dry. First we tackled the eyebrows. Well, she did. I just closed my eyes and wondered if mine were the most overgrown set of brows she's seen in a while. Then it was on to the wash. After the shampoo and conditioner, Kim spent a few minutes massaging my scalp. I could have fallen asleep right there; it was so relaxing.

    After I sat back in the chair, Kim clipped up the back of my hair and took a quick swipe with the scissors. Then she said, "Are you ready for this?" Good move asking after she'd already made the first cut! I got a laugh about that.

    PhotobucketWe chatted about kids and Christmas shopping as Kim snipped away at my locks. She gently stacked the back and trimmed off the crazy, flippy, Carole Brady pieces under my ears. She took baby steps with the bangs and thinned out the heaviest parts with little stabs of the scissors.

    Then she took her time blowing it dry with a round brush -- which I assured her I would never do. She promised it wouldn't matter, that this simple and easy style was as wash and wear as I requested. But it's always nice to leave the salon with that coiffed look.

    PhotobucketOnce the cut and style was finished, she put a little waxy pomade on my bangs -- woo wee! I have bangs! -- and we both took a look at the final product. Kim even suggested that my hair would look cute even shorter.

    If Mike hadn't arrived and was waiting to have lunch I might have taken her up on it and told her to keep going. But I decided to live with the new cut for a while and save the shorter style for a day when I feel more up to facing my sisters who might disown me if I go short again.

    The best part came when it was time to pay -- my total for the wash, cut, style and eyebrow wax was just $31 (after a $2 off coupon that I got by signing up for the Supercuts e-mail list)!

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    Groundhog Day

    Do you ever feel like you're living in the movie "Groundhog Day," the one with Bill Murray who just keeps reliving the same thing over and over again?

    I sat down with my healthy, packed lunch (yay me!) to do a little lunchtime blogging. The subject at hand is food: boredom with it and lack of it. As I began to formulate the post in my brain, it started sounding familiar. So I did a little searching on my own blog and found this:

    How much is my time worth?

    Yes. That's what I wanted to say. Except that great 3-week dinner menu I created is gone because I foolishly wrote it on paper and didn't save it electronically anywhere. I had forgotten about the weekly dinner "formula," which would come in super handy right now because it calls for 2-3 meatless nights -- perfect for Annie's continuing vegetarianism.

    Oh, and I'm thinking maybe I'll make my own hot chocolate mix. I bought hot chocolate in the little packets at the store last week and they were gone in a matter of a few days. Again, been there, blogged that.

    I'm thinking I should make some of my own other things, too. Things the kids (and the grown ups) can snack on. I try to keep apples and bananas in the house. Carrots are another staple. But foods like granola bars and graham crackers, yogurt and pretzels seem to have a shelf-life of about 30 minutes once they cross the threshold of the front door.

    Each person has his or her favorites, so there's not one person to blame. Charlie will plow through the fruits and veggies (and almost everything else that's not nailed down). Annie downs the yogurt and the pretzels. Robbie is the milk and cereal man. He would eat cereal (Honey Nut Cheerios, usually) for every meal, guzzling almost a gallon of milk a day, if I let him. And Mike likes to dig into the lunchmeat and bread. Of course, I'm not without guilt. Apples, graham crackers and peanut butter, and tortilla chips and salsa are my go-to snacks.

    But the point is, we seem to go through groceries so quickly that what I'm going to is the store or the pizza delivery menu. Too often.

    Getting back to the pre-planned menu is one solution. I think that once-a-month cooking might be another one. But what about those snacks? Are there healthy and economical snacks you keep on hand? Do you buy them or make them? Do you lock them up or just give your family the evil eye when the pantry door's been opened one too many times? Help a mom out so we're not both reliving this post in another six months.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    It's really only 12:19am...

    not 1:19am, thanks to the "fall back" of daylight savings time. So I figure that gives me a little bit of time to toss some thoughts out into the blogosphere.

    Today was the first full day of our free weekend. It was great. I had to return Charlie's football equipment to the school in the morning. While I was out, I popped in to my favorite farmer's market and picked up some apples, lettuce mix and green peppers. I looked at the butternut squash, but decided to pass because the last one I bought fell victim to Robbie and Charlie and an ax in the backyard.

    After the farmer's market, I stopped by Goodwill to look for a winter coat for Annie. No luck there -- though I did find a couple of cozy big shirts that would be great for the winter. But I wasn't there shopping for me, so I walked out empty handed. Next stop: JC Penney, which was kind of a madhouse. They were having some really big sales.

    But I was only there to spend small money. I had a "get $10 off a $10 or more purchase coupon" and I wanted to see what I could buy for practically free. I picked up 2 pillows for Charlie's room -- his must have been caught under a steamroller at some point -- and a small birthday gift for one of Annie's friends. Regularly priced, those three items would have cost me $34. On sale without the coupon, it would have been $13.84. But I paid only $3.84! Woohoo! I did return later to buy Annie a winter coat, regularly $200 on sale for $59.99, minus another $10 coupon. It's a great coat, so great that I wish I would have bought one for me too. Unfortunately, only one coat is in the budget right now.

    Mike and the boys spent the morning watching movies on the Netflix. After Penney's, Annie and I headed to Target to pick up some groceries. I looked at the Halloween costumes -- now 75% off -- but decided to pass because I wanted to only spend $40 and didn't think that using 1/4 of that for costumes was a very good idea.

    Once we got home and got the groceries put away, we decided to take Gabby to the dog park. I don't know who had more fun, Gabby or the boys. It was funny to watch the dogs all run around and play together and to see how friendly all the owners were with each other and all the dogs.

    There was one dog there chasing down a soccer ball kicked by her people. She was a lab mix of some sort. The ball got kicked toward me and before I knew it "Laney" was barreling straight in my direction. She ran into me with such force, I was certain for a few seconds that my leg was broken. I don't think I've ever been hit so hard! A little bit of shaking it off,  however, and I'm good as new.

    The park pretty much wore everyone out. Dinner was the boys' favorite grilled cheese and tomato soup. Then we sat down for "family movie night," which Robbie wants to have every night! On tap for tonight was "Imagine That" with Eddie Murphy, followed by "The Little Shepherd," a Christmas movie Robbie chose that looks like it was animated by the same people who did Dragontales.

    It was after 8pm before I ended upstairs with Annie to watch "Cake Boss" streaming on my laptop in my room, followed by "The Proposal." I think this was my 6th time to see that, which made it a great movie to have one while I cleaned up my bedroom. I must say, I'm quite proud of my progress. At this point, my dresser needs to be cleared off, but I probably put away at least 3 loads worth of clean laundry, emptied out one box of old papers and, miracle of all miracles!, found the floor!

    I kept thinking I should go to bed, but that extra hour from daylight savings time kept taunting me. My reward for spending my extra hour cleaning the bedroom? I found $20, a Netflix DVD that's been missing since August, $55 worth of gift cards and my glasses! Those kind of finds just may motivate me to clean out my closet tomorrow.

    For those of you who are wondering, I haven't made any decisions about my hair. I'll probably go with some kind of bang thing. I'll be sure to fill you in as soon as it's done.

    Now it's almost 1am, which to my body feels like almost 2am, so it's time to call it a night. I'm absolutely looking forward to another day tomorrow where I don't really have to be anywhere -- until 6pm when Charlie has to serve Mass. I think the day will include a Netflix movie, a walk with the dog, laundry and a nap.

    Hope your weekend is just as enjoyable!

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    My declaration

    This declaration has nothing to do with politics, religion or food. It does have to do with family. I have declared this weekend to be a FREE WEEKEND for our family.

    Free Weekend

    In fact, I put it in writing in green Sharpie about 10 days ago. You can see that someone -- Charlie, I'm pretty sure -- agrees with me.

    We don't have what I would consider a big family. Just three kids. But three kids with activities and social lives and parents with outside commitments and their own occasional social engagements make the idea of a revolving door at the front of the house seem like a good idea.

    Like many families, we're often home long enough to drop our bags inside the door, change clothes and run back out again. The result is overflowing laundry, messy bedrooms, piles of mail, and crabby people. So this weekend, I'm putting my foot down. There will be (as the calendar reads) NO sleepovers, NO playdates, NO practices (well, this might be negotiable if Charlie's basketball team has its first practice).

    See how easily I can get off track? The kids said something about going to visit my parents. I thought maybe we could do that on Saturday -- but then I remembered the declaration. This is going to take some discipline.

    Now that I've outlined what we're not going to do, I need to think about what we will do. I plan to sit down and plan out a long-term menu, organize my coupons, clear off the dining room table. And take a nap. Definitely take a nap. Then I'm going to spend 1 hour in each of the kids' bedrooms, helping them regain control of their spaces. I imagine Mike will clean out the garage.

    Cleaning is not the only thing on my agenda. I want to spend some family time together . Maybe take a family walk, Gabby the dog included. Perhaps we'll catch a movie or head to the Indiana State Museum, where we have a new membership. Yes! Maybe we'll go there and see the Titanic exhibit. Hmmm...that kind of gets back to the running out the door phenomenon, doesn't it?

    Doing nothing might be harder than I thought. But I'm sure willing to try.

    Monday, November 1, 2010


    number 14 Pictures, Images and Photos


    10 + 4.


    Annie's age on her next birthday -- which is about 14 weeks away.

    The number of Legos I stepped on in my bare feet trying to cross from the bed to the bathroom in the dark.

    One more than the number of children my grandmother had.

    Five less than the number of children the Duggars have (so far).

    10 crayons shy of a box.

    Baker's dozen, plus a bonus.

    The size of the pants I wore to work today.

    They didn't fit as nicely as they did five months ago, when I was about 5 pounds away from them being too big. Today, I am about 5 pounds away from them being too small. I've been wearing bigger, baggier clothes for fear that the size 14s would be too small and I just was not ready to face that sad fact. But this pair did in fact fit.

    I'm glad I tried them on -- it's motivation to eat less, move more, regain all that I worked so hard for.Who knows, maybe I'll even lose 14 pounds?