Tuesday, July 31, 2007

God and The Balloon

We ate lunch at Applebees for Bumblebee's birthday yesterday. The Bee and The Boy got balloons to take home.

Well, of course, we lost one of 'em. We watched it gently float up to the sky.

Luckily it was The Boy's balloon that flew out the van door. Otherwise we might have had a meltdown from the four year old. The Boy wasn't worried about losing his balloon, but Bumblebee turned to him and said solemnly, "I'll bet God will find your balloon. He lives up in the sky, you know."

Monday, July 30, 2007

Happy Birthday to the Bee and Swooning Over Keith Urban

Today is Bumblebee's fourth birthday. I can't believe my baby is four. It's so cliche to say that it seems like yesterday that she was born, but it really does.

Yesterday we were having breakfast together. In between bites of raisin toast, this was our conversation:

I said, "Bumblebee, this is the last day that you'll ever be three years old. Can you believe it?"

"I'm pretty much four already, Mom." Bumblebee said matter-of-factly.

"But it's not official until tomorrow."

Bumblebee thought for a while. I suspected that she might ask me what 'official' means. Instead, she asked, "Are you sad that I'm turning four?"

"No." I said. "I'm happy that you're growing up."

She chewed her toast for a bit and then said, "But won't you miss me when I'm a grownup and I move away?"

"Yes, I will miss you then. But that's a long way from now."

More chewing. More thinking. Then, "Momma, I'll call you EVERY DAY when I grow up."

My heart melted. "Aw, sweetie, that's great. I'll love that." I said.

She was quiet for a while longer, thinking some more. I could almost see the wheels turning in her brain. "Momma?"

"Yeah, sweetie?"

"What's your phone number?"

What a cutie pie. And she's FOUR now. We had a great party for her Saturday night. The Husband has to go out of town today, so I'm taking her to the zoo and out for dinner tonight. She's getting a fishing pole, a Barbie convertible, and whatever else I see at my Target run today. (Yeah, I'm a super bad procrastinator since I haven't actually bought her gifts yet...)

Happy Birthday, my littlest sweetie. Mommy Loves You.

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******

Last night Hollywood and I went to see Keith Urban in concert. I was a complete moron and forgot my camera, which I am seriously cursing myself for, because a.) we had GREAT seats and b.) Keith Urban is HOT and I wish I'd have captured his sweaty hair and all of that. Luckily, the Des Moines Register caught a lovely shot of him, and here it is for your viewing pleasure:

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The concert was so great. The Wreckers opened the concert and since I love the Wreckers, I enjoyed the show. But when Keith and his band came on, Oh My Gosh. I felt like a little teenager, I actually felt a swooning sensation.

Aside from how incredibly hot he is, the man has a fantastic voice, and he plays the guitar amazingly. I'm serious. I knew that I loved his songs, and I love the guitar arrangements in the songs, but I had no idea that he was that talented! He did some guitar solos, alone and with his band mates that were just phenomenal. Hollywood plays the guitar and is going to buy an electric guitar with the money she earned from working at her grandpa's. She was in awe by his playing too.

I won these tickets at work, which is awesome because they were free and I wouldn't have spent the money to go to the concert otherwise (though now that I know how great of a show he puts on, I'll spend money in the future, definitely.) They were great seats, the front row of the side in a clubhouse section, just about four feet off the floor - about 1/3 of the way from the stage. Hard to describe, I guess, but trust me - they were great seats. The people sitting around me were from the department I work for, and maybe it was because they got the tickets for free and weren't real fans, or maybe it was because they were old, boring people, I don't know... But they just weren't into it that much, and they even SAT DOWN through half of the concert. I didn't care that there were people behind me sitting - the entire arena was standing and dancing, I wasn't about to sit down. Even if I do have to see these people at the office. So Hollywood and I stood and danced and sang our fool heads off. The crew was walking around video taping the crowds and once they zoomed in on us for about a full minute. Thank God it was on a song that I know every word to - it was pretty cool. I have no idea what happens to that footage, but it made us feel just a little special to have them focus in on us for such a long time.

He dedicated his second to last song to Nicole. He thanked everyone for sticking with him for the past several months. He was charming, had excellent stage presence, and was really a pleasure to watch.

Oh, and I was thinking that I got old all of a sudden, when I noticed that the sway of lighters to a ballad was replaced by cell phones. When did that happen? Later in the show, towards the end, Keith had the crowd do a cell phone wave. They turned out the lights and we got our phones out and did a cell phone wave. It looked awesome.

It was a great concert and I'm so glad Hollywood and I got to go. But it's so funny that I have that feeling I got back at my favorite concert ever - the Bon Jovi concert in 1989 (New Jersey tour.) For a second it felt like he was singing just to me. (Swoon.) Am I a giddy little schoolgirl or what? But he even said this - "If you know the words to the songs - sing along. It's just you and me tonight!" I'm still reveling in the memory of the evening. Hollywood and I spent the ride home talking about how great it was. What a great time.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Thank God it's Gone

So I get the National Geographic Photo of the Day on my iGoogle Home Page. Normally I love it.

Yesterday, I spent the whole day averting my eyes from it. I was going to post the image, but I decided that I couldn't do that, because I don't want to stare at it when I visit my blog. So I'll post a link instead. Check it out at your own risk. It's almost not decent! (It is work safe, though, I promise.)

Is that not almost obscene? Or am I the only person who thinks it resembles womanly bits?

Today's Photo of the Day is an eerie beach scene in Jamaica taken at night with a candle in the distance. Much more soothing than yesterday's picture.

Happy Birthday Nephew

Today is my nephew (and godson's) sixth birthday!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, N!!!!!

Tell Those Voices to Hit the Road

I got up this morning to run. I normally do a Sun/Tue/Thur schedule, but I slacked off on Tuesday and slept in, so I'm on a Sun/Wed/Fri schedule this week. This morning I got up and put on my running clothes in a fog. I went down to the treadmill and felt like a slug. My warm-up walk was like trekking through quicksand. Or what I imagine that would be like, since I've never actually tried to walk through quicksand.

I was soooo tired, and this was my inner dialog as I started my run:

"C'mon, this is stupid. Why are you doing this to yourself? You should stop."

"Feel that? It's a twinge of pain in your left arch. You should stop."

"It's Friday! Friday's are for fun, not torturing yourself. You should stop."

"Wouldn't it feel better to sit in the sunroom and sip a cup of coffee while listening to the birds chirp? You should stop."

"Don't you feel slow, and fat, and sluggish? You should stop."

I didn't listen to the voices. I kept plodding on, though I was jogging slower than I normally do. Those damn voices didn't stop until after I'd gotten 15 minutes into my run. The last half of my run was enjoyable, but wow. It's annoying when you have to fight yourself to keep going.

This has always happened to me, though it doesn't usually take 15 minutes to get them to shut up. (Ha, ok, 'always' isn't the best word. I've only been a consistent runner since April.) I keep hoping the voices get quieter as I get more experienced with this. I have noticed that some days they are much louder than others.

Today the voices were obnoxious and pushy. But I still ignored them. I almost always can ignore them, so I guess that's good. But wow, why the struggle?

Anyone else have this problem when they work out?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Now THAT'S Small Town Living For You

I mentioned that we've been tossing the idea of moving into an old house in a small town about an hour away. TH and I keep swinging towards and against the idea. It would be cool - it's a gorgeous old house, but it would be a TON of work getting our current house ready for the market. You know, the regular ups and downs of making a big decision. We're leaning towards 'no' at the moment, but that's apt to change with the wind.

Anyway, I got an email from TH's aunt yesterday. She forwarded on an email she received from the homeowner. Keep in mind that we haven't contacted the owners for a viewing of the house or anything. We've just been talking about it within our family. Here's what the email said:

(Husband's Aunt) -- heard there was someone in your family interested in our house.
Hope you don't mind, but I have attached an Acrobat file with info on the house.

Thanks
(Home Owner)

If that isn't small town living, I don't know what is.

'A' is for Amazing Character

I went home at 11 yesterday and slept all afternoon. Thank God Bumblebee likes to take naps. She slept for four hours with me! Then we went to pick Hollywood up from her Grandparents...

So YAY!! Hollywood is home! I missed her and it's awesome to have her back.

Today I'm back in the office and I have a lot of work to do. And I still feel really crappy. As bad as I felt yesterday, if not worse. But enough about 'Poor Me'. That's boring.

I wanted to write some thoughts on my future sis-in-law and how much better of a person she is than me. Seriously, she is just amazing, for more reasons that the story below, but this really demonstrates her character.

'A' and 'J' have been dating for four years. They've been engaged for a long time too, maybe 2 years or something, I can't remember. 'J' is The Husband's brother, the one who just got awarded custody of his kids from his ex-wife. Since the beginning of their relationship, 'A' and 'J' have always kept their kids as their top priority. ('J' has two from his first marriage, 'A' has a son also.) 'A' has been a wonderful step-mom to my niece and nephew and they just adore her.

Throughout this time, they've weathered lots of storms, not the least of which are the antics of J's ex wife. I've already blogged about how unstable she is, she's just really a nutjob if you ask me. Recently she (ex-SIL, who I'll refer to as 'Nutjob' from here on out) dropped a bombshell: She told 'J' that she's moving to Arizona.

'A' called to tell me the news yesterday. Here's where I'm going to reveal some not so nice parts of my own personality. When she told me that Nutjob was planning this move, my first thought was, "Good! That means A and J won't have to deal with her craziness every other weekend, and those kids can get away from her psycho influence almost completely!"

But that wasn't A's viewpoint at all. She was in tears when she told me that the kids will be devastated when they hear the news. She couldn't imagine what they'll think when they learn that their mom is planning on moving across the country. She said she had hoped Nutjob would move closer to the kids, not across the country! A's first thoughts were for the kids. Even though Nutjob's plan (if she goes through with it) will make A's life a zillion times easier, that wasn't a comfort to her at all. She thought only of how this will affect the kids, and how even with her insanities, Nutjob still is their mom, and her leaving will crush them.

Isn't 'A' just an amazing person? I'm so glad those kids have 'A' in their life. And I'm glad she's in mine too.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now...

(Great, now I have an earworm of that song.)

Do you ever just want to throw your hands up in the air and say, "I just can't deal with this today? I'm going back to bed?!"

I do. Occasionally. Like today. I'm having serious fantasies about taking a PTO day and curling up in my bed with a good book and a glass of iced tea. How awesome would it be to read for a while, drift into a warm, fuzzy nap, wake up, lay out on my deck and catch a few rays with the good book as a companion. Ah.... If only. My mommy guilt won't let me act out this fantasy in real life. I simply can't live with the thought of leaving Bumblebee in daycare so I can have a lazy day. But it is so tempting.

I feel like garbage today too. I got up early and ran this morning, even though at 5 a.m. every voice in my head was screaming, "Are you insane?" Normally my morning jog improves my mood and makes me feel energized and ready to face the day. Today it only exacerbated my neck and shoulder pain. I have a pounding headache, and feel like I might have a fever, but that could be just because I have achy muscles. And those muscles could ache because of the work I was doing with a hammer and chisel on Monday night. (STILL working on refinishing that table.) Or, I could have a cold/flu bug. Who knows. Or cares, really. I also have PMS, which doesn't help things at all.

So, what should I do? Should I blow this joint (work), grab Bumblebee from daycare, drop The Boy off at K's house and have some quiet time at home? Or should I actually read and respond to the emails my coworkers keep sending me?

My neck hurts. And it's cold in here. Whatever will I decide to do?!?!

Stay Tuned for the next episode of "Frazzled But Loving It" to find out if Monnik actually takes the day off.

I know. You're waiting with bated breath to find out.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Cracked

I have one of those foreheads that gets all wrinkly when I raise my eyebrows. It's bad. It's like one of those dogs that have a name that sounds like 'Sharpie' but I know that's not right and am too lazy to google the correct name. Someone tell me what I mean.

Anyway. I also have a small, but noticeable scar above my left eyebrow from when I fell down the concrete stairs in my office parking garage this past February.

Which is why it didn't surprise me when Bumblebee stopped what she was doing the other day, looked at me intently, placed one hand on each of my cheeks and said very seriously, "Momma, your head is cracked."

She was referring to my forehead wrinkles, not my intelligence. Seriously!

I cut my bangs shorter that very day.

Weekend Report

Wow, we had another busy weekend. Went to a small town about an hour west of our place to meet up with FIL, his wife, and Hollywood. While we were there, we saw a great old house for sale. It's dirt cheap, big, gorgeous, has a wrap around covered front porch, a back deck, hardwood floors throughout, gorgeous woodwork, stained glass windows, etc. Of course it needs some work. But did I mention that it was dirt cheap? The town is a nice little town where the kids could grow up and participate in sports and activities. They can do that today too, of course, but our house isn't dirt cheap. We could eliminate almost all of our debt if we sold our house and bought this one. The commute would be longer, unless I found a job in West Des Moines, then it would be similar to my current commute. It's an interesting thought. Here's a picture of the house, but it doesn't really do it justice:

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So we're going to try and get an appointment to see it on Friday. We figure if we like it, we'll put our house up for sale for a few months and see if we can get what we want out of it. If the house doesn't sell... shrug. No big deal. We stay living in the great area we live in today.

Saturday we spent some time at the pool with my nephew and then went over for cake and ice cream for his birthday. It was a fun time. We also spent some time working on the table we're refinishing. That wasn't so fun, because TH and I have very different ideas on how to work on a project. But we didn't get *too* mad at each other...

Yesterday I went and had dinner at my mom's. My grandpa and grandma were there, and it was a nice time. Mom's birthday was Friday, and Grandpa's birthday is today, so we had cake and ice cream to celebrate. And mom made fabulous lasagna and bread, along with sweet corn that Grandpa brought.

My grandma has this little lapdog that is the funniest damn thing you'll ever see. She licks and licks and licks people. It would be kinda gross if she wasn't just the cutest little thing. Bumblebee and The Boy were fighting over who got to have the dog attack them with licks and kisses. It was a great time.

Today is another week at work. Sigh.

Bumblebee turns four a week from today. We're having a party this weekend, so I'm working on getting ready for that. Should be fun! We bought a volleyball net and hope the weather is great so we can have a volleyball tournament. That would be really fun...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Friday Night Lights - Swishy, This One's For You

Swishy, what's with your FNL boy's new hairdo and scruffy face? Oh Matt Saracen, what went wrong here?

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I'm not loving it. He doesn't look as innocent, you know, like he's grown up and couldn't be seduced by La Swishy! Well, of course he could be *seduced* by Swishy (who couldn't?!) but, you know, he might not learn as much from the experience as the old Matt would have.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

HIP HIP HOORAY!!

The custody ruling came in today. My BIL got full physical custody of his kids. We are so, so, so excited!!!

Their mom has been a fruitcake for years, and a very unstable provider for them. She's got issues with multiple boyfriends, has no job, has a compulsive lying problem, recently got an OWI and lied about it to the custody judge, and what else... oh! The fire! My niece (who was 7 at the time) had to wake her mom up and drag her out of the house because it was on fire. Ex-SIL was drunk (3x the legal limit) at the time.

I could go on, but why bother. She's bad news. The judge made the right decision, even though it seemed to take forever.

YIPPEE!!!

Blogging About Bedlam

Wow, it's been a while since I posted. And you know what that means...

Ramble-o-rama!!!

Things have been crazy, as usual. With Hollywood and The Husband out of town, you'd think it might be more relaxed, but no. Same chaos. Fewer people.

Here's a picture of Hollywood getting her first paycheck from her grandpa:



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She looks pretty excited, doesn't she? Man, I sure miss her.

Last night Bumblebee got a nosebleed. A REALLY bad one. The Boy and Bumblebee have them occasionally, and I get them too. I used to get really bad ones as a kid. This was the first time I've experienced a potential ER visit nosebleed with one of my kids. Her nose started bleeding right as I was putting her to bed at about 9:30, and it didn't stop until close to 11 p.m. I was looking at the clock, telling myself that if it's still bleeding at 11, we're piling into the van and going to the ER. Thankfully, the bleeding stopped before my 11 p.m. cutoff.


But it was bad. And scary. And how in the world does a little 29 pound peanut like her have so much blood?! She threw up blood and clots three times. (Gross, I know. Geez. My blog is all about bodily excretions lately. I'm so sorry, readers!) The problem wasn't the clotting - it was clotting like it was supposed to, but the clots kept dislodging (from her crying, barfing, and one unexpected and calamitous sneeze) and then the gush would start all over again. Poor baby. She kept crying because she was tired and wanted to go to sleep, but I couldn't lay her down or the blood would go down her throat and she'd just puke it back up again. I wanted to cry with her, because I really was starting to get freaked out. But I didn't. Our bathroom looked like a murder scene when it was done, both of our pajamas were the color of a nice merlot, and she was as white as a ghost, except for her bloodshot eyes.

This morning, I debated staying home with her. I really wanted to because I was nervous about her, but weirdly enough she got up without me asking her to, and was happy, cheerful, and looked healthy. The sickly pallor and bloodshot eyes of the night before were gone. So I took her into daycare, told her babysitter what had happened, with strict instructions to call me if she gets another nosebleed. But I'm going to sit at my desk and worry about her all day long.

So, on to other news. My new step-mom is having surgery today. I hope everything goes well! I'm going to bring over some lasagna tomorrow night for her and dad to enjoy. MJ and dad took The Boy to a baseball game on Monday night. He had a BLAST. And my dad let him pick up empty pop/beer glasses to take home. Just like he used to let us do as kids. Man, we'd go through the empty stands and pick up dozens of those. Then we'd get home, run them through the dishwasher, and have a bunch of plastic glasses for FREE in our house. It kind of skeeves my adult mind out to think about who drank out of those glasses before we washed them. But as a kid, it was just what we did.

Hollywood had a little incident yesterday. She put a rather large door ding on a big red truck while out to lunch with her grandpa. My FIL made her write a note and attach a business card to the truck, instructing them to call about the door ding. She's been answering the phones at grandpa's office, so she was quite worried about the guy calling. Here's a snippet of what her email to me said:

"I’m just afraid for when that guy calls… I’m the one who’s going to have to answer it… I hope he doesn’t sound like those big Giant guys with all the tattoos and scars and no hair… That would make me freak… I’m hoping that he’s like Bob from the Enzyme commercials – all happy and smiles and two thumbs up! *sigh*"

She's funny. She meant Enzyte. Those 'male enhancement' commercials? They've got this really geeky, happy looking guy in them. I am not sure if those commercials are national, so I had to explain that to my non-Iowa readers. (I just looked up Enzyte and Bob on You-Tube to see if I could attach a link to the commercial, but there were so many spoofs of the commercial, I have to think that it's a National commercial campaign.) Anyway, Hollywood's sense of humor cracks me up. My friend Webgal says she's just like me, which is a nice compliment.

I don't think I blogged about my brother-in-law's wedding. It was on 7/7/07... and boy was it a blast! Seriously one of the most rocking weddings I've ever been too. They had the ceremony outdoors amidst the Iowa corn, under a huge tent. The reception was awesome - the DJ had a Karaoke machine, and let me tell you... It doesn't get any cuter than four or five little girls dressed in their wedding finery singing "Fergilicious". Or an entire family singing "My Ding-a-Ling" to the raucous approval of the audience. Good stuff. TH loves Karaoke and impressed us all with his favorite Karaoke song, David Allan Coe's "You Never Even Call Me By My Name". Funny song, and he does a great rendition of it. Anyway, thanks to J and N for a great time at their wedding. Congratulations to them both!

The Boy is spending the day today with his cousins. My SIL graciously offered to let him hang with her today and tomorrow. He's been pretty bored around the house with Hollywood gone. He's getting all pumped up for the release of the last Harry Potter book. It's on sale at midnight on Saturday. I might have to make an early morning run to get the book for him.

Well, that'll do it for another rambling post. Happy Wednesday!!


Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Three Hundred and Thirty Dollianare

Hollywood is staying at her grandpa and grandma's house for three weeks earning money by working in my FIL's office. She's being paid a very generous $10/hour to scan tax returns, answer the occasional phone call, and email me several times a day.

I love getting emails from her, it's fun. Much better than the regular emails I get at work. One of her emails read: "I just got back from a meeting. It was boring. Now I know why you hate them so much."

Yesterday was her first pay day and she called me after her grandpa took her to the bank and said excitedly, "Guess what?! I'm a three hundred and thirty dollianare!!" She said that was more money than she earns in a year of babysitting!

She's funny. But I miss her. I have to fold the laundry myself while she's gone! I miss her for reasons other than that too. But I'm enjoying her emails and phone calls, and I know she's having a great time.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Please Play "Pomp and Circumstance"

Drum roll please.....

I started the Couch to 5K Program in April. It's a nine week program designed to get non runners fit enough to run a 5K. I repeated three of the weeks and took a week off so it actually took me closer to 13 weeks, but today I finished the final workout of the program.

I can now run for 30 solid minutes without stopping, although I 'run' pretty slow. It's really a slow jog. But still. It's not walking. Those of you who know me are likely amazed. When I started, I was gasping for air after jogging for sixty seconds!

It's actually a really awesome feeling. What's more amazing is that I've been getting up in the mornings at 5 a.m. to do it! My plan is to continue working on improving my speed, entering the Komen 5K run in October with Hollywood, and eventually working up through another program called the One Hour Runner.

Anyway, had to have a "Yay Me!" moment.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pee, Poo, and Barf. All of the ingredients of a revolting blog post.

My poor dog.

She almost died while we were on vacation. Well, that could be an exaggeration. But my BIL and his fiancee had to take her to the vet because she got into the garbage and ate some bad meat and some old chocolate. She was puking and had the trots so bad she was leaving butt prints on the ground. (ew, I know).

Anyway...

She was on medication and special food and was doing great. Until last night.

I got home from work and walked into my house. It reeked! The bathroom smelled like pee (oh the joys of having a son who is a VERY deep sleeper. He gets up int he middle of the night, doesn't check his surroundings, and the rest is very smelly history.) There was also another underlying smell to the house, but I couldn't put my finger on it. I decided to open all of the windows and air the place out.

But first I had to change out of my work clothes. I wasked into my bedroom, taking my shirt off as I walked. Which meant I wasn't looking on my floor. I stepped in a GIANT pile of poo that was the color of chocolate pudding and the consistency of tar. On my bedroom floor! I spent the evening cleaning the poo, scouring the bathroom, and getting those vile smells out of my house. Thought I'd done a decent job and was sitting down when The Boy came upstairs to tell me that Merlin (the Dog) had puked downstairs.

"I think there's BONES in it!" The Boy said. Hmmm. Bones? I haven't cooked a decent meal since before we left on vacation, and I know I have no bones in my house for her to get into. I wondered if maybe she ate a bird. Or the cat. I got downstairs and saw that it wasn't bones, it was mucousy strings. (I know, double ew.) And catfood. Lots and lots of cat food. Which is why she's sick again. Her stomach is still on the tender side from being sick, and apparently couldn't handle half a bucket of catfood. Our cat's food is kept in a closet with a cat door to keep the dog out, but The Boy left the door to the closet open which led Merlin to a feast.

So last night I got to clean up boy pee, dog poo, and dog barf. Not one of my better evenings. And what do you think greeted me when I got up this morning and walked into my newly scrubbed bathroom? Yep, aromatic evidence that The Boy was sleepwalking to the bathroom again last night.

Monday, July 9, 2007

A Different Kind of Complaint About Work

I work for a giant ass bank (GAB). It's one of the most famous banks in the country - it's huge. But I can't tell you what it is because we actually have a blogger section of our employee handbook which states that if we identify ourselves as a worker of GAB we can't defame the company. Or at least I think that's what the policy says. I didn't actually read it.

So, I can't tell you the name of the company, but lots of you know it anyway. Many times I'm proud to work for GAB - they contribute a lot to local and national charities, they have great family friendly policies, they're leaders in promoting diversity, and I have a pretty decent job that pays the bills. Well, most of the bills anyway... But sometimes, like today, I'm disgusted by GAB.

We have a special election in our county tomorrow that is-

**Damn! A mosquito just bit me! Son of a... That hurt!**

Ok, sorry for the interruption. So tomorrow there's this special election for a sales tax increase. They're hyping it up by saying it'll lower property taxes. It sounded good when I was accosted by a clipboard wielding loon in the skywalks during lunch. (Des Moines has a skywalk system downtown so that we can walk inside when it's freezing or sweltering outside. It's supposedly the largest connected skywalk system in the country, or world, or some geographic distinction of some sort. It's pretty cool except when you're badgered to sign a petition by someone who wants to pay more money every time they buy something.) I signed the petition to get the vote on the ballot. Stupid me.

Which reminds me, and sorry for jumping all over the place here... I blame the mosquito that I squashed on my shoulder a few minutes ago for starting the wandering... Did you konw that there isn't any sales tax in Delaware? I learned that on The History Channel's The States program. I want to go shopping there. I wonder if they have any great malls.

Back to GAB and this local option sales tax bullshit. I didn't give it a lot of thought until The Husband forced me to listen to a local conservative talk show that he listens to. You know the kind of show, some right wing blowhard who jabbers on and on about gun control and immigration and about how horrible it was that Clinton told some lies while he was president. They're still using that material! (Man, TH is not going to like me ripping on his program like this. So I'll stop, but you get the point. It's a conservative talk show. I probably could have left it at that.) I usually avoid the show like the plague, but was sequestered in a car with TH and had to listen to the program. He was driving, and we have sort of a rule that driver gets to pick out the radio stations. (This is probably why I drive so often, but again, I'm veering off onto another topic so I will try my hardest to focus on the point of this post.)

So, the guy on this show outlined some facts, and did a good job of convincing me that more taxes is not a good thing, and ultimately an increase in sales tax puts most of the burden on the poorest people who can't afford to take a hit on their necessary purchases. I'm not one to be swayed by right-wing talk show arrogants, though, so I did my own research and concluded for myself that even if this project did lower my property taxes, it would not lower them enough to counteract the increase I'll be spending on sales tax. Additionally, I found out that only 33 cents for every dollar collected will go to decrease property taxes. So yeah, basically it's a bad idea.

Where does my GAB come in? Well, they're sponsoring the project. Presumably they'll get big kick-backs and tax decreases if it passes. I guess I don't have a problem with them backing the project - that's freedom for you. But what I do have a problem is with the fact that one of the 455 emails I read today was from my lovely employer sent to all of the local Des Moines area workers, telling us to go out and vote YES for this tax increase. What are they going to do next - tell us to vote for Guiliani? Please! And another of those 455 emails was from GAB encouraging people who weren't registered to vote, to go register before the cutoff date so they could vote YES to this tax hike. What the hell? Doesn't that sound unethical? It sure as hell irritates the crap out of me... Here's a very PC workplace, we can't even mutter anything that would be a possible offense to someone in some way, and yet they can tell us all how to vote in an election? Not cool. It would be one thing if they sent out information on the election and said to vote. But the email actually said to vote YES for this exciting project! (Yeah, a tax hike is a project.)

So I guess my point of this rambling post is that I find it very offensive that my company sent me an email telling me how to vote on this issue. I fully intend to send a complaint to someone, somewhere in the company. I'm sure that will matter to at least one of the 150,000 employees of GAB.

Ugh.

Work = Hell

455 emails to read and respond to. Ack!

Must. Win. Lottery.

Friday, July 6, 2007

The (Very, Very Long) Details on Vacation

  1. Before we left: Took the van in for an oil change and two things happened. The first was that Jiffy-Lube said we have a cracked serpentine belt, and that it had to be fixed at the dealership. The stupid Kia dealership is across town and couldn't get us in for same day service. The second thing that happened from the oil change was that we noticed a grinding sound every time we turned left. We knew these two things would not be good for our trip, so we rented a Hyundai Santa Fe. Not the most comfortable vehicle for five people to drive across the country in, and it cost an extra $420 that I hadn't planned to spend, but we really had no choice.
  2. The All-Night Drive: We drove from Iowa to Batavia, New York - straight through. It took us about sixteen hours, I think. But that included pit stops. Not too bad, really. The kids slept for most of it, but The Husband and I didn't. We were pretty exhausted by the time we got to the hotel.
  3. The First Hotel: Well, it was a Days Inn. And it was old, and kind of icky. But it had a pool in decent shape, and so I guess I won't complain about it too much. The kids played in the pool a bit Friday night.
  4. Dinner with the new Step-Family: We went out to dinner (all 26 of us) at a restaurant in town and got to meet our new step family. Seems odd to say that we hadn't met them before, but since they live in New York and we live in Iowa, it makes sense. MJ (Dad's wife) has two sons and a daughter. One of the sons has a girlfriend who was there, and the daughter is married with a baby girl. We had a great time talkling with them at dinner. They are really great people, and the meeting was comfortable and fun. After dinner, I wasn't feeling that great, plus I was tired from the drive, so I went to bed early.
  5. Karaoke Star: But TH was rejuvanized. He went with my dad and brothers to the hotel bar (which was also apparently the local Karaoke hot spot) and spent the night singing Karaoke. I'm told that the patrons requested him for a few songs. He even did a duet with the local female Karaoke star to Meatloaf's Paradise by the Dashboard Lights. Two of my brothers got up and sang Peaches and another song that I can't remember. TH said it was the funniest thing to watch because they were really getting into the groove and started dancing. They have questionable singing talent, though... One of my brothers has some actual video footage of this, but I haven't seen it yet. My Dad was even at the bar with them pounding beers. But he skipped the karaoke spotlight. I always miss out on the fun!
  6. Before the Wedding: We had a nice, relaxing morning on Saturday before the wedding. Well, I should amend that to say that everyone but Hollywood and I had a relaxing morning. They lounged by the pool and sat talking. Hollywood and I were frantically practicing our flute/guitar duet for Bless the Broken Road that we were playing in the wedding. We just couldn't get it right - we could not stay together - until Hollywood started singing as we practiced. I realized that was the key to us staying together, so I begged her to sing at the wedding too. She was hesitant, she's never sang in public before, but agreed to do it.
  7. The Wedding: The weather was perfect. The wedding was in my new stepsister's back yard which was gorgeous. Hollywood and I did our duet as MJ walked down the aisle to my Dad. It was good. We didn't mess up, Hollywood's voice was clear as a bell and kept the flute and the guitar together. Yay! (Now I can put the flute away for at least another 17 years, right?) They wrote their own vows, which I think is cool, but a train went by right as they were saying them so I didn't get to hear them. But I did get to read them later, and they were really special. I don't have pictures of the wedding because I left the picture taking up to my brothers. When I get those pictures, I'll find a good one of our duet and post it another time.
  8. The Reception: The reception was held at a really cool private park that had an aviary where we could see pheasants and peacocks and other animals. One of the peacocks was on full display while we were there. It was so cool. We hung out the entire afternoon and ate good food, enjoyed good beverages, and celebrated the marriage of Dad and MJ. It was nice.
  9. The Family Cold/Flu: We all got mysteriously sick with a nasty cold/flu. I am still suffering the effects. It was weird, though, because we all woke up with sore throats that morphed into coughs and stuffiness. Summertime colds are the worst, especially on vacation... But, we didn't let it slow us down much at all.
  10. Niagara Falls: The city itself was a madhouse. It took us a while to find a place to park, but once we did and got to the park, we forgot all about the hassles. We took a boat tour of the falls and Hollywood decided that one of the boat workers looked just like Sanjaya from American Idol. She snapped his picture and was acting all 13-year-old-ish about him. It was cute. We happened to visit the Falls on Canada Day, which was quite a coincidence since we took the boat to see the Canadian side of the falls, and it was the only time the kids have been in Canada. Anyway, here's a pic of the kids. It's a crappy picture, my camera was starting to act all funky that day. I didn't know it then, but it was the beginning of the death of the poor thing.
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    On our way back through the park at Niagara there was a man with a trained parrot. Though it skeeved me out like you wouldn't believe, I let Bumblebee go up to him and watch the bird. He actually had the bird give her a kiss. Check this out!
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    Yeah, that's me in the background of the photo standing with my arms crossed completely OBSESSING about how gross it is that I'm letting a bird kiss my daughter. But Bumblebee loved it and The Boy and Hollywood thought it was cool too.
  11. The NFL Hall of Fame: We took the family to Canton, OH to see the NFL Hall of Fame. This place was so cool. Here's the fam (sans the photographer) outside of the hall. And though it may not look like it, TH loved the place, he just doesn't like to smile for the camera.
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  12. The Great Wolf Lodge: This place was awesome. And since we went from a dingy Days Inn to this, it really seemed like a palace. The hotel has a huge indoor waterpark and an arcade. Heaven on Earth for kids. The snack bar served out of this world pina coladas, which made it pretty darn nice for grownups too. Oh, and the kids had their own bedroom with a set of bunk beds and a twin bed. Which meant that TH and I got our own bedroom too (with a King bed). The extra privacy at the new hotel made the second half of the vacation even better. (wink, wink)
  13. Dead Camera: My camera died at the Hall of Fame. I had to go to Wal-Mart to get a new one. Another extra $200 that I hadn't intended to spend on the trip. Oh well. The new camera is cute - it's pink! TH isn't thrilled that i picked out a pink one, but I love it...
  14. Cedar Point: Very cool amusement park, ridiculously expensive. It cost $200 just to get in the door. And then once we got there, the power went out on some of the biggest rides! But that was short-lived. TH took The Boy and Hollywood to all of the fun (scary) rides while I took Bumblebee to the kiddie rides. I'm not afraid of roller coasters, but it worked out better this way. I was ambitious and got up and jogged 2 1/2 miles before we left, and then I put on my pedometer for the trip to see how long I'd walk in a day at Cedar Point. 11.2 miles of walking plus the running earlier! My legs were like jelly when we got back. Here's a pic of us at Cedar Point:
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    We didn't like the food at Cedar Point, though. Our dinnertime meal was possibly the most wretched meal I have ever attempted to eat. It makes me swallow hard just thinking about it.
  15. More Fun at The Great Wolf Lodge: Our last day was spent just relaxing at the hotel's waterpark and arcade. We needed it since we were all exhausted from our long day at Cedar Point. We have some great pictures of this day:
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    And here they are with their arcade bounty:
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  16. The Drive Home: We actually had a nice drive home. It took about 10 hours from Sandusky to home, but the kids were well behaved and it wasn't bad at all. I'll end this ridiculously long post with a picture of the kids playing with Bumblebee's stuffed animals on the drive home. I was so glad they were being nice to each other, even after spending a week crammed together in the rental car.
    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
    Ok, so The Boy looks a bit nonplussed, but he really was playing with the animals too.

    Whew. That's a very long post. But it sums up our vacation pretty well. Got back into town and picked up the van. It's running fine now. The guy at the Kia dealership tried to convince me that it would cost $1000 to get the van in tiptop shape but I asked him only to fix what was wrong and the bill came to under $200. It makes me nuts that he tried to get me to agree to $800 worth of unnecessary fixes, but I won't even begin to go into that tirade. Well, I'm off. We're headed out of town for my BIL's wedding. It was nice to sleep in our own bed last night, but we're back on the road today... If you're still reading this post then you must have no life. :)



Thursday, July 5, 2007

I rock!

How cool is this? Jenster gave me the Rockin' Girl Blogger Award!! Which is just a huge honor, because she's got such a great blog, and the most awesomest attitude ever. She's a cancer survivor who's been through a lot and is still sunny and upbeat, even when she's having a down day. So thanks Jenster!!

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This means I get to pick five rockin' girl bloggers myself. But I'll do that in a few days after I've calmed down a bit from vacation.

We're Back!

And, despite the regular hitches that accompany us everywhere we go, we enjoyed ourselves. I'll post more later. Here's my favorite picture of the vacation:

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I'll explain more about the broken down van, the rental car, the sick dog, the camera that went caput, the family cold/flu, the power outage at Ridiculously Expensive Amusement Park, the flute/guitar duet, and all of the fun stuff too...

We really did have a great time. The wedding was awesome, Niagara Falls is really cool, Cedar Point put Adventureland (our local amusement park) to shame, the hotel was awesome, we had no arguments, no fighting, good kids.