Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My visitors are in town

...and I actually MADE dinner!

When my family comes in town, we normally go out to eat for dinner. Yesterday I decided to be brave and COOK dinner.

What did I make? Mahogany beef stew. It's an idea that I got from this wonderful site. I made a HUGE batch. I actually bought a 4-pound slab of beef chuck. That darn "stew" beef at the store cost TWICE as much as the uncut version. So I cubed the beef myself. AHH!!!

This stew is a good choice for our group because I wasn't sure about what veggies my sister's kids would like. Instead of the veggies in the stew? I made a big salad. I also chose to make some cornbread (in cupcake form) along with egg noodles instead of rice.

It took about 2 hours total to make dinner. I did deviate from the recipe a little bit, but it was still tasty.


  • Olive oil
  • 3 1/2 pounds beef chuck (cubed)
  • 1 large yellow onion (chopped fine)
  • 1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes (mine had oregano, garlic & basil)
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chopped garlic (there was garlic in the tomatoes but we love garlic so I added more)


  1. Large heave pot - high flame
  2. Pour in olive oil & heat up
  3. ADD salt & pepper to meat
  4. Brown meat on all sides
  5. Push browned meat to edges of pot.
  6. REDUCE heat to medium flame.
  7. ADD more olive oil if necessary (I didn't add any as there was enough fluid from the meat).
  8. ADD chopped onions to the center of the pot until golden brown - 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. ADD tomatoes & seasonings. Mix well.
  10. ADD hoisin sauce. Mix well.
  11. Bring to boil.
  12. REDUCE heat to simmer & cover. Cook 30-45 minutes and stir occasionally.
  13. ADD additional veggies. I opted for sliced carrots & some green pepper.
  14. ADD water if you think the sauce is getting too thick.
  15. COVER and simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

In the end? We demolished the meal. Not a sliver of salad left. There were only about 3 tiny pieces of beef left. A couple of cornbread cupcakes were placed in the fridge. The extra noodles were placed in the freezer.

For this non-cook? It was great to see that everyone had enough to eat. AND they actually ate.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

You better watch out

You better not cry

Better not pout

I'm telling you why...

My sister is coming to town! My sister is coming to town!


Sis#2, Jello and their 3 kids (Mickey, Kay, & Theo) will be swinging on by around mid-day. What time that actually equates to is up in the air. But I figure sometime after 12-noon. Ya see, they are early birds when it comes to traveling. If they head out for a destination, it's not uncommon for them to leave their house at midnight or 3am. Depends on their destination. The Hubs is always flabbergasted when he finds out their departure time. And they DRIVE places. All together. Mammoth. San Francisco. But the thing is? Sis#2 loves to drive in the open road, so she switches out with Jello. Whereas me? I let the Hubs drive.

But they'll be here today. I'm headed to the grocery store for supplies. Food. AH!!!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Moving and boucng around

The kidlings are enjoying the Wii tremendously.

We have had to monitor the kidlings daily use.

I got on for the first time yesterday afternoon. The kidlings got a kick watching me play tennis. Of course, I did poorly the first couple of times. It was so cute when the kidlings kept encouraging me. My own cheer squad.

Last night the Hubs got on for the first time. He used to play tennis during college. Not competitively. Just to keep fit. So he got a wee bit frustrated playing. But I do think he'll be playing with the kids a bit.


So the kidlings aren't just sitting around for vacation. They aren't sitting while I'm working. They're bouncing around and cheering for each other. And that makes me happy.

They're enjoying the Wii. It's clearly they're favorite gift this season.

What's YOUR kids favorite holiday gift?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

We're back

We had a good Christmas.

It was fun.

They both still believe in Santa.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I'm at that crazed state

Right now it's 11:25pm. I just logged off from work.

I worked all day on a special project. One where I chose NOT to log into Skype or email lest my attention would be averted to other things. I worked for about 6 or 7 hours on the project.

I logged into email after the kidlings were in bed. I had 50+ emails. Uh...what?

I witttled that down to about 20 emails that I still need to work on. I'll get to those tomorrow.

But tomorrow? I am going to be a crazy lady.

Tomorrow is my last full day at home. We're driving up to see the ILs first thing Wednesday. We're spending the night as well. Uh. No. We will NOT be spending the night at their house. I've already mentioned how we don't feel comfortable spending even one night there. We prefer the ability to spread out at a hotel.

Anyway...tomorrow? The day that actually starts in about 35 minutes? Is going to be crazy. I plan on working. And baking cookies with the kids. Oh yeah. Packing. And then wrapping gifts after the kids are in bed. I haven't wrapped ANY of the kids' gifts from Santa (that means toys). I also still have to wrap the clothes from my Mom. ARGH!

I feel like that scene in Home Alone where Kevin is running around with his arms waving all above his head. THAT is how my head feels.

Not only do I have to wrap these things, but I also have to REHIDE them. And I still have to chat with the Hubs on how I'm going to get the gifts from Santa under the tree before we leave the house on Wednesday. We need to coordinate. We have to do this EVERY year. Because we either go to visit my family or his family for Christmas. So each year we coordinate how to get the kids OUT of the house while I get all the wrapped gifts from their hiding places and under the tree. So when we come home? The kids know that Santa has visited our house. I'm tired just THINKING about it!

So who knows if I'll actually be calm enough to log in and write up another post in the next day or so. Or will my mind be cluttered and my body a messy old lump of mush? [sigh] It's the holiday season. I've just got to roll with it. It only happens once a year. And it's definitely worth it to see the look of joy and wonder on my kids faces when they open their gifts.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

An observation while shopping

As you know, yesterday we went to the mall. Oh fun!

But I must say that our visit to the mall was an eye-opener.

An eye-opener that a TON of ladies just don't watch What Not To Wear.

I just don't understand the fascination with super skinny jeans. The kind of jeans that follow your every curve from your hips to your ankles. Talk about uncomfortable! Granted, I'm sure some are wearing jeans with spandex in them. So it must be a tad more comfortable.

The sheer number of teenage girls and ladies wearing the skinny jeans made my head spin. I felt like I was the only one in the mall wearing boot-cut jeans. Like I was the anomaly.

But ladies?


Those kind of pencil jeans are made for people who are slender. Skinny. STICK thin.

For those of us who are more curvy? Please don't wear those pencil jeans. Just DON'T! Just say NO! Those pencil jeans do not look good at all. AT ALL! The jeans just emphasize how shapely your hips are. It makes your hips look 3x as big because of how the leg sections are cut. Seriously.What's even of an issue is when you wear the skinny jeans with a tiny top. A top that stops at your waist. Ugh.

Ladies, please think about what looks good on YOU. Don't bend to what everyone else is wearing. Please.

Caught and in trouble

Do y'all remember last month when I wrote about my city's annual bike race? And the hit-and-run that occurred?

It turns out that they've found the gentleman who caused the accident. Apparently, he's been indicted on a single count of leaving the scene of an accident causing serious physical injury. Is that ALL? I mean, he collided into TEN cyclists who had the GREEN light. He was going in the opposite direction and turned left INTO them. Granted, the man stopped his car. But he got out and analyzed what happened. And then got back into his vehicle and left. FIVE cyclists were injured. On cyclist suffered a serious brain injury and is still in a hospital in Phoenix. His family is not accepting any interviews.

Now do you think the man who caused the accident should only get one single count of leaving the scene of the accident?

Think about it.




Does it matter that the man is a Navy veteran?

Does it matter that the man helped work on the atomic bomb during WWI just before it was used?

Does it matter that the man is 91 years old?

If it was a younger person, I do think that there would be more charges. I do. I know he's an older man. But really!

My head just aches about the entire situation.

A family outing where I didn't have a blast

We went to the mall Yes. ALL together.

As y'all know. I detest shopping. I dislike visiting the mall. I avoid going to the mall with the kids. I detest going to the mall as a family this close to Christmas.

I felt it was a big MESS.

We had to park in the nosebleed section. WAY out on the edge of the parking lot. On the other side of the curb where we parked? Was a river. Yes. We were on the very edge of the parking lot mall. So we had to treak into the mall..

But WHY did we venture to the mall that I avoid? Because the Hubs wanted ME to pick out the gifts that HE would be giving me. Ummm...isn't that the reason why I cc'd him on the list I gave to his sister (who is my Santa this year from his side of the family). This way he could coordinate with her and split up the list. Easy-peasy, right? No. Because the Hubs just waited until his sister was done shopping. And then waited until yesterday to shop for me. So off to the mall we went. To a place that I dislike going to. To pick out my own gifts. Merry Christmas to me!

Yes. I'm being sassy. I'm being sarcastic. But I gave him the list. A range of items from housewares to clothing. For clothing, I provided a variety of colors to choose from along with the type of clothing and the size I need. And yet? There I was pointing things out.

The Hubs is definitely not one of those who can arrange a surprise. He doesn't have the skills for that. You know. The pre-planning. Getting things organized WELL in advance. He's not into that. Everything is last minute. SO much like my own father. Totally frustrating!

By the way....all of the Hubs gifts were wrapped and under the tree on Friday. The Hubs and the kids didn't see anything I purchased. So not only will the Hubs be surprised, but the kids as well.


But what did I enjoy? I enjoyed eating lunch out with the Hubs and the kids at a restaurant. We held hands. We cuddled. We colored. We laughed. We ate our lunch. It was loads of fun. Even the slow and not-attentive gal who served us could ruin our time together. And when I mean non-attentive, I mean that both the Hubs and my drink glasses were empty before she asked us if we wanted a refill. And our glasses were not amidst the chaos of our table but on the edge closest to the aisle.

So I guess that bit of fun at lunch well compensated for the fieldtrip into the mall, eh?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Showing Bloggers Some Money

A friend of mine who writes sent me this link to an interesting article.

We all know the bloggers that get TONS of traffic (aka Dooce).

We all know the sites that let us know about the "hot" blogs (Thanks Mr. Kawasaki!).

But there's a company that actually will pay bloggers for doing just what they do.

Of course, it looks like the company has a selection criteria. Frequency. Relevent/topical subject matter. But if a blogger is already doing this and can get the PERK of getting paid? Woohoo!

Granted, I ramble on when I write. I don't have a specific focus. But for those of you that can talk about stocks or finances or real estate or should check this guy's company out.

Don't let the door smack ya on the way out

I found out last night that the Hubs sister lost her job.

Technically, she wasn't fired. A couple weeks ago, her supervisor approached her and asked if she'd be interested in being RIF'd*. That she'd get X number of weeks pay. That she'd continue to be covered by insurance for 3 months. My SIL let her supervisor know that she'd think about it.

This past year, my SIL has been casually looking for a new job. She was looking here and there. Not really spending too much time on it. And she found nothing. But when this opportunity to be part of the RIF at her work came up? It peaked her interest. She figured she'd be able to find a job pretty quick once she REALLY started looking. Then she'd be getting paid from her new job and getting her RIF pay. Delusional much?

I guess she gave her boss the answer recently. Because yesterday she was let go from her job. The week before Christmas! But she told them that she wanted to be a part of it. And so she is.

I'm not sure that I'd volunteer to be a part of that in this economy. Plus, she's got the condo that she rents out and the house that she bought late last year. So she's responsible for two mortgages. And she's got no job! Wouldn't that freak you out? It would make me nervous that's for sure.

According to the Hubs, my SIL sent out an email about what happened. Of course, I didn't get the email. His family actually thinks that the Hubs informs me about everything they tell him. Uh...NO. That definitely doesn't happen. I'll find things out by asking him stuff. I mean, he'll end up telling me stuff that he found out a week prior. Whatever.

* RIF = Reduction in Workforce

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Finding Stuff We All Like To Eat

I know that there are families out there that have problems with dinnertime.

Allergies to certain ingredients - dairy, wheat, etc.

Selective eaters.

When I was little, we ate whatever we were served. We had no choice. If we didn't eat what was on the table, then we went hungry. We ate family-style. There were big dishes in the middle of the table and we'd serve ourselves. We weren't picky eaters. We couldn't be. We didn't grow up in the era of "snacks" either so that extra bit of food in the day wasn't available.

Now? The Hubs is a bit picky. And the kids seemed to be following his lead. This last year, the Princess has ventured out. Her palate is expanding. When I order something new? I make sure to offer her a tiny bit so that she can get a taste. About 95% of the time, she enjoys it. And if she doesn't like it? She's (at least) polite about it.

Anyway, the Bear has in the last couple of months been more welcoming of new flavors. I've mentioned before that he (along with the Princess) LOVES spinach. He now loves Romaine lettuce as well. He'll eat steamed mixed veggies IF I serve it alongside spaghetti and meatballs. What he does it cut the meatballs in half and tops the meatballs with the veggies. It's his version of a meatball pizza.

Tonight's dinner was a hit. I made fried chicken. I cut up chicken breasts into chicken tender size pieces. Then I used Panko breadcrumbs instead of the regular stuff. It had a nice crunchy and light crust when I was finished with it. We had some mac-n-cheese, apple slices, and romaine salad with Pumpkin-Pesto dressing (aka El Torito dressing). And we all ate a ton! It was great to see everyone enjoy the meal.

Amazingly, yesterday's meal was also devoured. Cupcake size meatloaf where I used teriyaki sauce to put my own my spin on things. I served some fresh-baked French bread along with a spinach/tomato salad with buttered angel-hair pasta.

Oh yeah! On Sunday morning when I woke up to some chilly tile floors, I threw in a bunch of ingredients into my crock pot for stew. And that cooked all day while we hung out inside to escape the cold day. It smelled so yummy! We scarfed down the stew on top of some rice and cornbread.

Why am I tooting my own horn? Because I'm not a natural cook. It doesn't come easily to me. And to find meals that we ALL enjoy? It's such an achievement. And I'm just relishing in the moment. No frowny faces and complaining about still being hungry after the meal. Just a few moments where we're all eating and talking happily about our day. [sigh]

Fancy New Gadgets

I know a few techno-gadget people. I see a ton of these techno-gadget people in the world. You know the folks that I mean. The people who have the latest cell phones. The people who have the fastest computers. The guys and gals who have 2 or 3 cellphones strapped to their belt. The folks who have all things electrical and shiny.

The Hubs and I? We aren't those people.

We still have my old VCR that I used when the Princess was first born - more than 8 years ago. The kids still use the 36-inch tv that we purchased when we moved to Arizona - more than 12 years ago. We have basic cell phones -- no texting -- no cameras. We're basic and simple.

What cracks me up is how un-techie the Hubs can be. Seriously. He's the alpha male in this household but he's not the go-to person for anything electrical. Granted. I can't fix anything electrical but I DO know how to hook things up. I'm the one who knows how to link the tv, the VCR, the DVD player, and the V-Smile gameplayer together in the kids play area. I'm the one who got the main tv working in tandem with our cable box and DVD/VCR player. The Hubs just doesn't get it.

Last night he again showed me that he doesn't keep up with even the most basic stuff.

Hubs: Babe?
What's up?
Does your laptop have a dial for the brightness?
I'm trying to dim my laptop and I can't find anything.
Sweetie, I just push this function key and push the brighter and darker buttons. It's got pictures on the keys.
Oh...THERE it is!

Y'all, he's had the laptop for about 9 months now. He did NOT know how to adjust the brightness on the thing! After NINE months! He was looking for a little dial. [snorting] Sure. He's one of the most intelligent guys I know. He's got an MBA. He can easily future out interest and all that. But when he messes up with real world stuff like this and that, it just makes me realize he can be clueless on certain things.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Here and there and all over the place

Here's something that I saw on Hot(not)fessional on Sunday. It's travel-oriented meme. Check to see what you've done and what you'd like to do!

Things you’ve already done: bold
Things you want to do: italicize
Things you haven’t done and don’t want to - leave in plain font

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars It was in the desert when I was in 6th grade.
3. Played in a band – How about orchestra?
4. Visited
Hawaii Maui for my honeymoon. It was fabulous.
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/World – I’ve been to both places.
8. Climbed a mountain – Not the entire mountain, but it was spectacular.
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited
Paris I got lost with 3 of my friends.
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch – Counted cross-stitch.
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning – Not fun.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of
18. Grown your own vegetables – I used to help my Mom & Grandma when I was little.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in
France – I must say that you’ve got to wear some good walking shoes when you’re touring the Louvre.
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked – Not ever!
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill – Who hasn’t?
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a
28. Ridden in a gondola in
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen
Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied. – When I worked full-time.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke – Drunken karaoke too.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing.
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris – only up to the 2nd level
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater. – We used to do this when I was a kid.
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class.
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen – We did this in college every year
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Gotten flowers for no reason – You’d think my husband would do this?
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma – I’m now on the national bone marrow/platelet list
65. Gone sky diving - No. Not ever.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp – We all cried.
67. Bounced a check – Embarrassingly, yes.
68. Flown in a helicopter – We did this on our honeymoon.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. – I actually still have my favorite stuffed bunny rabbit and my favorite blanket.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar – Didn’t like it at all.
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job – Been there. Done that.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book.
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible.
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox – My sister gave it to me one summer
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury – Guilty!
91. Met someone famous.
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one.
94. Had a baby.
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone.
99. Been stung by a bee

Eating what you buy

On Sunday, the Hubs did something special. He went and did the weekly grocery run.


He went to the grocery store and bought our food for the week. Before he left, we made a list. Fabric softener. Ground beef for meatloaf. Chicken strips for panko-breaded chicken tenders. Shredded cheese for quesadillas. The Hubs definitely had a list to guide him.

He came home and put the groceries away as well. I came into the kitchen when he was finished putting stuff away. I went into the refrigerator to get an apple.

Me: Honey? I didn't see the shredded cheese in the drawer.
What? No cheese? I know I bought some.
But there's nothing in the drawer. Did you finish putting everything away?
I did. Maybe it's still in the car.
Okay. Go check.
[Hubs goes into the garage and searches my car]
Hubs: Well, it's not in the car. I can't believe they forgot it.

This morning I decided to make meatloaf for dinner tonight. Yummy!

Me: Hey hon? Could you take out the ground beef so it can defrost?

[Hubs searches freezer]

Hubs: Uh. Hon? I can't find the ground beef.
The ground beef isn't there.
So we don't have the shredded or the ground beef?
That's what it looks like.
Are the chicken strips in there?

[Hubs searches freezer]

Hubs: Nope. No chicken either.
I can't believe those people.
What do you mean?
They forgot to put the bag into my cart.
What? Why didn't you check the check-out area before you left?
But they forgot to put that bag in the cart.
Okay, but didn't you notice that there was stuff missing when you were putting everything away?
Uh. I noticed the cheese.
Now that you know that there was a bag missing that had three major things, you'd have gone back to the store wouldn't you?

So, even though the Hubs did a great thing and went shopping on Sunday. It didn't dawn on him AT ALL that there were things missing. ARGH! Don't you all look at the check-out area to make sure that you've got all the bags before you leave the store? No matter what store. Target. Best Buy. CVS. Anywhere, right? I mean, the Hubs didn't have either of the kids with him, so there was no rush and no distractions. He just left. And then blamed the baggers for the problem. [shaking my head]

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Last night, the Hubs was at his desk and got the Blue Screen of Death.

Yeah. Not something you want to see.

He tried to restart it. He did a couple other things. And the problem remained.

He finally dug out some disks and did some other stuff. And? He accidentally refreshed the desktop into its raw state. [gulp] Yes. You read that right. So anything that I hadn't copied and moved onto my laptop? It's lost. LOST. I am sure there is technical way that someone can magically retrieve the data but it's basically gone. [sigh]

Me: So the computer just died out of the blue?
Well, it was starting to act funny last week. That's why I did the defrag. Remember?
You told me you were going to defrag the machine. You never mentioned anything about the computer acting up. I probably would have retrieved my documents and saved them to my laptop. I'm just mainly concerned about the photos that I may not have saved...
Oh. Sorry.

So what to do now? I vote for getting a new desktop. We don't need a new monitor. We bought the Hubs a 22" flat screen monitor last year for his birthday. So in my own opinion, all we need is a new CPU. But that's still a few hundred bucks. I'm thinking about getting the Inspiron 530 directly from Dell. And I do also want to buy an external drive to keep things backed-up more often. So that's another hundred bucks. I'm thinking of getting this one from Best Buy. [sigh] For now though? I think we're going to hold back and just try to get through Christmas. You know?

And I know lots of you just love your Macs, but I can't do it.

"I'm a PC"

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sad little display

It seems that most everyone who is going to decorate for Christmas has their stuff out.

Us? I've got a couple strings of white lights wrapped around both trees in our front yard. One tree on the right. One tree on the left. I've got a string of six colored Christmas trees in a semi-circle shape in between the trees. We've got a snowman and a candy cane hanging from suction cups on the window that can be seen between the two trees. That's it up front. And in the back, we've got the icicle lights on the back view fence along with our 7-foot blow-up penguin.

Last night as we came home from the kids' school event? We saw everyone's displays in all their glory. Our one neighbor down the street? They have one strand of clear lights around one bush. And then 3 hologram presents in front of the bush. That's it. I mean, the lights on the bush? The strand only went around twice. Barely any kind of coverage on it. But at least they tried!

My neighbor up the street goes to the other end of the spectrum. She actually had her son come into town to hang her lights. They've got icicle lights on their eves in the front of their house. On the first AND second floor. Plus they've also got icicle lights on the backside of their house. On the first AND second floor. On their backyard patio? They've got one of those big blow-up Santas. AND they've got icicle lights on their back view fence.

But you know what is the most aggravating? Is when a portion of a string goes out after you've hung everything up. ARGH! So annoying! My neighbor across the street has about two strands of colored lights on their two front trees. And on each tree? There is an entire strand out. I totally feel for the husband since he's the one who put everything up. AHHH!!!

Now does your family go ALL OUT on outdoor decorations for Christmas?

Friday, December 12, 2008

You have to think that we pay, so why shouldn't they?

Yesterday I wanted to get something hot for breakfast. I didn't want the waffles or cereal that we had at home. So what did I do? I went somewhere and purchased some food. Fine and dandy, right?

Apparently, Maricopa County's Sheriff Joe Arpaio has a plan to save taxpayers in his area an estimated $900,000 per year. How? By charging inmates $1.25 per day for their meals. That's not per meal. That's PER DAY. And the cost would only be charged to those who have money in their personal accounts, which equates to only about 2000 of the 10,000 inmates. No. The inmates won't go hungry. Everyone who doesn't have any funds will continue to be served meals but officials would track their meals.

What amazes me is that they say that only 20% of the population has any money. I guess when they get arrested that cash goes into an account. But people can also get money into their account when friends/family send them money. What's interesting is that Arpaio says that any money sent in to inmates to get treats, like candy and cigarettes, would be put into their accounts.

According to Arpaio, "If (family members) send money in to buy chocolates, it's going to go to food first instead of chocolate bars."

Arpaio really makes inmates prison time uncomfortable. He charges inmates when they visit the medical staff. He tried to cut out cable television altogether from the jails but found there was a federal court order requiring a cable tv (WTF?). So his solution was to only allow the Weather Channel and Disney Channel to be fed through the facility's televisions. Ha!

When he stopped serving coffee the prisoners were in an uproar. Arpaio said that the coffee had no nutritional value so there was no reason to have it. "This isn't the Ritz-Carlton. If you don't like it, then don't come back." Good advice.

He even stopped serving coffee with his rationale that it has zero nutritional value. The tent city prison facility has been something that a lot of inmates complain about. Arpaio's response, "It's 120 degrees in Iraq and the soldiers are living in tents and they didn't commit any crimes, so shut your mouths." Yeah. Our soldiers deserve better than inmates.

And to fill their time? The inmates don't have weight-lifting equipment anymore. That's right. Arpaio took away the weight-lifting equipment. Why? There were prisoners who were getting strong because they'd spend all day bulking up. And in a prison? You certainly don't need super-strong inmates.

I'd take Arpaio versus other sheriffs who don't TRY to shake things up and make the lives of criminals less comfortable. Prison shouldn't be a place where you're comfortable. It should be a place where you don't have the comforts of home.

What do you think about Sheriff Joe?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wait...what's today?

Oh holy moly!

It's already December 11th!

The kids get out of school for two weeks starting NEXT FRIDAY! What the heck am I going to do with them for two weeks?

Calgon! Take me away!

In past years, the Bear was in preschool/daycare so when it was fall break / winter break / spring break for the Princess... the Bear would still safely be taken care away from home. This year? I am not so lucky. I'm going to two kidlings wandering the house like lost puppies saying "I'm bored. What can I do now?"


But I'd better come up with a plan. And QUICK!

What are you going to be doing with your kids over winter break? HELP ME!

More sadness in my heart

Remember yesterday?

It turns out that DS got into town last night and saw her Mom.

I just found out that her Mom passed away this morning.

I'm at a loss for words. I know the heartache DS must be feeling in her heart. Even seven years later, I can remember the deep pit in my hole at losing my Grandma. I can remember the anguish on my Mom's face.

Just this Thanksgiving weekend Sis#2 started crying as she was carving the turkey in the kitchen. She was recalling how my Grandma used to hover while my sister carved because she enjoyed the crispy skin of the deep-fried turkey. All I could do was give my sister a hug and we took a moment to remember.

So during this busy and chaotic holiday season, kiss and hug everyone you love and care for. THAT is the BEST present you can give!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bah Humbug!

Here's what was published by the homeowners association located adjacent to my community:

Canned Food Drive

The CRCA is sponsoring a canned food drive to help those less fortunate this holiday season and throughout the year.

Show your generous spirit and bring a few non-perishable food items into the Windmill Office starting now through January 23rd.

A bunch of folks donated food over the weekend.

Unfortunately, the food that was donated (about $1000 worth) over the weekend was stolen.

You read that right. The food that doanted to help less-fortunate families this holiday season was STOLEN.

Unbelievable. The Hubs and I were shaking our heads over this one. We can't understand how people can be so horrible. Where are their morals? How low can people be? Apparently VERY low. Ugh.

What's the craziest bit of behavior that has been displayed so far in your local community?

Sadness in my heart

Yesterday, the Hubs forwarded an email from his Mom to me.

What I read made my heart sink.

The Hubs has a cousin "RS" that I adore. RS was the first member of the Hubs family that I met. He made me feel comfortable right off the bat. And he's kind of like me. Accepting but cautious of new people. Loving. Private. RS is married and has two daughters. I adore his wife "DS" as well because she's just like RS. They moved to the South this summer because RS got a fabulous contract job.

It turns out that DS mother is sick and has been in the hospital for a few weeks now. Someone actually called DS and told her that her mom has an infection. And that DS should come to the hospital as soon as possible.

Reading this made me stop. It was such a feeling of deja vu. You see, the same thing happened seven years ago in my family. A few days after Christmas 2001, my Mom called me around 2am. My Grandma got sick after Thanksgiving. And she was getting even more sick. My folks had place my Grandma into a hospice facility about a week into her illness because she needed 24 hour care. When my Mom called she spoke in a whisper on the verge of tears.

Your Grandma is getting more sick. If you can come, I think that would be best.

That's all I needed to hear. I was up like shot. I was on the phone with Southwest and booked a flight 20 minutes after I finished speaking with my Mom. The Princess and I were scheduled for a mid-morning flight. It was a pretty booked flight so I could only get the Princess on as a lapchild. The Princess was 15 months old and she did not enjoy that flight. She cried as we went up into the air. I was like an empty shell. I didn't know what to think. It was all too overwhelming. All I could do was hold my girl close and rock her as I whispered "It's okay. It's okay." into her ear.

The Princess and I visited with my Grandma. I sat on a chair next to the bed while I held my Grandma's hand and spoke to her. The Princess sat on the edge of the bed and patted my Grandma's arm as I spoke. I talked about our life. How much my Grandma meant to me. How much I loved growing up with her in our house. That I learned to love people by watching her and my Mom. I let her know that I knew that she was in pain physically and that she could let go when she felt it was right. That we were here and that we'd help my Mom. It was hard to say but it was important to say. Sis#1, Rambo, and their girls made it in the late afternoon. They all sat and had their time speaking with my Grandma. We were all there in the late evening.

The next morning we were all driving into the hospice. LilSis drove the Princess and I in from my Mom's house. We were circling the hospice when we got a call. My Grandma had passed away. She finally let go as the sun was rising that morning. It was December 31.

I actually think that my Grandma waited until that morning to allow herself to go. I think she waited until we were all together. And she didn't want to spoil Sis#1 birthday, which was Dec 30. So she waited until that glorious morning to release her spirit.

And so....this situation with DS and RS reminds me of what I went through. And my heart breaks for them as they go through it. So if you have a loved one that you cherish? Please let them know how much they mean to you.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I am so in the mood...

No. Get your thoughts out of the gutter. I get enough of that. Wink

I'm in the mood for some Chinese food. Not that mass produced food. The Hubs and kids enjoy the fast-food version that you can get at the mall's food court. [sigh]

I want some yummy fried rice. Pork lo mein. Kung pao chicken (spicy). And some Peking duck? OH! I'm hungry now.

What are you craving this Christmas season?

You know what I still find funny? That when we're at my ILs house and we order Chinese food? It's not the Chinese food I'd typically order. It's a place that touts itself to be high-end Chinese food. But it's definitely for lack of a better phrase -- Americanized. Anyway, when we order and eat with my ILs? They order their own individual entree. Seriously. They order their own meal and that's it. WTF? So the Hubs and I? We share.

I guess I'm used to eating Chinese food family-style. Aren't you? When I'm with my side of the family, we just count up how many people are going to be eating and we order a bunch of entrees. We order enough entrees so that everyone can get a good amount to eat. Typically, we'll get soup and get a bowl large enough where everyone can get at least one bowl. Then a pork and a chicken dish. If there are enough of us then we'll order a beef and a seafood dish. Then if that's not enough food then we'll get more food. Then we grab a spoonful of each entree. This way we get a taste of everything! YUMMY!

Technology is always changing

But why is it when technology changes that some of the "improved" items just suck the big one?

I mean seriously!

The testing teams that have to go through new software packages REALLY need to check things out. Those who perform beta roll-outs have to really think like a customer. People really need to perform capacity testing to ensure that the new software works at the same speed or a faster speed than the previous version.

The reason I bring this up?

I use Google Reader to read the latest posts on all my favorite blogs. Apparently, the reader went through an upgrade just this past week. Fine and dandy. Or so you'd think. Why is it that the darn reader is going through somersaults to try to open the page I need?




I don't think it's supposed to load and give me a BLANK screen.


I know it's not a system issue because every other site/server I use comes up lickity-split. Like normal. So it's definitely an issue with this particular product.

You folks over at Google? This certainly is a doozy. BAD move on moving to the "improved" reader program. Doesn't seem like y'all tested enough. Better to roll out a product late than to roll out a product that sucks.

Monday, December 8, 2008

And the holidays get going full steam

I'm tired. It's not even 7pm on Sunday and I'm T-I-R-E-D!

Saturday the Princess had her first real Girl Scout related event. The girls had their annual caroling program at a local retirement home. Our troop convened at the elementary school to coordinate girls and drivers around 9:30am. Eight girls showed up at the school and five parents (including myself) were there ready to drive. I realized standing there that since the Princess is new to the troop, she might have a better time without me. That she'd be able to be her giggly self when I wasn't around.

Me: Do you think it'll be okay if I bow out? I think I want the Princess to ride in a car with some of the other girls so she can get to know them better.
You know what? That's a good idea. She really is on the quiet side so this'll be a good time to be with just the girls.
I know that she doesn't open up as much when she's with a new group if I'm there to fall back on.
She'll go in my car with my daughter. You know how chatty my daughter is!

So the Princess ended up having a BLAST! I actually picked her up at the mall where they went after the caroling to grab lunch. I spotted the group after I'd only walked a few feet through the food court doors. I actually stopped and watched as they were all giggling and talking around a couple tables. It was great to see the Princess fit into the group so nicely!

What's funny is that when I finally came over to the group and tapped on the Princess shoulder, I spotted one of her friends from school ordering lunch at one of the fast-food places. It was a gal who was one of her best friends last year. This year the two are friendly but not best friends. This girl's parents are currently going through a divorce and the girl switches between good and bad behavior.[sigh] Anyway, the girl was there with her brother (who is in the Bear's class) and her Dad. We stopped for a couple minutes to chat with them. They were grabbing some lunch and shopping for Christmas outfits -- they're visiting some family they haven't seen in a while next weekend.

After we got home, I went out and started decorating the front yard. Got our little lighted tree string out and pounded those into the ground. I then inspected our outside strings of lights to make sure they worked. THREE of my strings had a bunch of lightbulbs out, so those got set to the side. I was only able to decorate our one tree. Because of all the cuts I received last year, I made sure to put on gloves so I wouldn't get nicked by the nasty little thorns that are on some of the branches. Unfortunately, I didn't finish decorating because I didn't have enough time to troubleshoot the strings that had the lights out. We had a party to go to!

Our neighbor that's moving to Taiwan was having a gathering with all their friends. It was so sad to know that they'd be gone in a few weeks. But it was nice to know that they are going to keep their house. They were able to talk an uncle into moving into their house to take care of it. Didn't take much convincing since he'll be able to live there rent-free!

We ended up going out to Chili's for dinner. The kids and I were at the party until about 4:45pm and the Hubs hadn't started anything. So out to dinner we went. What was funny is that the Mom of the girl we saw at lunch was working. The Princess said hi to her and let her know that we'd seen her daughter at lunch at the Mall. Turns out the Mom had also visited the same mall around lunchtime. HA! What a coincidence!

Today I finished decorating outside. All I had to do up front is get lights strung on our 2nd tree. Then I finished up the backyard. The Hubs put up our blow-up penguin in the backyard yesterday. But I put up our twinkling icicle lights on the fence. What sucked was that it was cold -- like 58 degrees. And then it sprinkled a little bit while I was attaching the strings onto the fence. Oy! But the outside of our house is nicely festive. Yeah!

We decided to scale down the inside of the house a little bit. The Hubs didn't put any garland on our tree. We're not putting greenery and lights on our stairs and loft banister. Even so, the kids had a blast putting up the ornaments. We had them put up ALL the ornaments -- even the glass ones! Of course, we took a few minutes to reposition some of the ornaments to get coverage on the top of our tree. The kids were SO proud of themselves that they were able to decorate the tree pretty much on their own.

Now how about you? Have you got everything decorated the way you want it?

And for your viewing pleasure here are the kidlings with the UTC Santa over Thanksgiving weekend.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Frolicking and looking

Guess what I'm about to do?

Go out. And shop. By myself. HA!

I'm going to a nearby mall to check things out while the kidlings are at school. Y'all know that I DETEST shopping at the mall. But I am going to try my best to maneuver through it with the least amount of confusion. I have "somewhat" of a plan. One book store. One toy store. There are more than 20 shops in between the two places I plan on hitting, so I have no idea what I'll end up buying.

Now that we have our WEEEEeeeee safely tucked on the top shelf in our closet, the Hubs and I have kind of lost some motivation. But I must venture forth and get things from Santa for the kids. They've both been terrific this year and they deserve some nice treats. The Hubs says I spoil the kids. But what's a Mom to do?

We'll be putting up all our decorations this weekend. I'll be outside tackling our backyard fence -- stringing up the lights -- and hammering in our blowup penguin in the yard. I'll be trying to keep my fingers safe from thorns as I string lights up in our two trees in the front yard. It's going to be fun. But work nonetheless. At least it'll be a beautiful weekend to be outside though. The low 70's are expected Saturday and Sunday.

Now have you tackled most of your Christmas decorations? All your shopping? What do you plan on doing this weekend/

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

On a musical note

Have you seen this video? It's a pretty good mix that was made in 1998 and is suddenly a HIT. The local radio station had an interview with a couple of the guys from the group on the video this morning and I was just able to watch the song.

One of the guys put this particular song on YouTube so that his buddies could watch them. And guess what? In January 2008, they got a call from a label. The guys have gotten back together. TEN YEARS LATER! Because of a YouTube video!

Straight No Chaser now has a Christmas album out. So go check them out. These are just regular guys who didn't think anything of it when they were in college. They all went on into the real world and now? They're drawn back into music.


We got it! We got it!

I picked up that darn Wii yesterday before I got the kids from school.

They have NO IDEA that Santa will be leaving a Wii under the Christmas tree this year.

They are going to be SO surprised!

Of course, the Hubs is happy that we were able to get one. I mean, he looked at Best B** and didn't find anything. At Best B** he spoke with an employee who worked in the section and he said that he didn't know when a shipment would be coming in. And when the Hubs asked if they had a waitlist, the employee said they didn't do that. No customer service at all. Go figure.

Luckily I hooked us up with a great place -- my local Blockbuster! They have an AWESOME team working there. All the employees smile and look at you when they're chatting with you. Really GOOD people. And that's why I continue to regularly get things from this location.

Now you see the difference between the two stores? One has great customer service. The other place has horrible service. So the place that has positive employees and a good atmosphere receives more business from me. The other place will no longer be visited. Seriously. That's the way it is.

In this kind of economical climate, businesses need to distinguish themselves from other places. And here locally? If you have good customer service that will totally separate you from all the regular places. Around here, it seems that people don't have pride in their work. Everything is done slowly. Everything is done poorly. Drives me crazy! C-R-A-Z-Y!!!

During our drive home on Sunday we stopped by a fast-food place. I noted that there were a few dirty tables and the one trash can was filled to the brim. While we ate at one of the clean tables, one of the employees went around the eating area. This person wiped down two tables and then went back behind the counter. One of the tables that was wiped? Wasn't wiped down very well. It still had shmutz on it. How do I know? Because I was in the very next table. This person didn't do anything about the full trash can. AND there were about 3 other dirty tables that weren't attended to. WTF? If you're going to go out into the lobby, then CLEAN it. I know what I'm talking about. I worked at Mickey D's for a year. And I did the lobby a LOT. It doesn't take much skill to go through the lobby in a circular manner and wipe down tables. Then take out the trash. It's SIMPLE! Argh!

Now do YOU go out of your way to visit stores/restaurants that give you great customer service?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Practically in my hot little hands

I got some fabulous news this afternoon.

What you ask?

I got a call from someone who told me that the kids BIG Christmas gift is coming on a truck tomorrow!

[happily dancing]

I am SO excited. Even the Hubs is ecstatic that the kids will get this gift.

Now we'll have something active to do when we're stuck inside during the summer months - when it's 110 outside!

Now have you made a big dent in your holiday gift list?