Friday, September 28, 2007

The Good Outweighs the Bad Today

This week was rough. But thankfully, it's over and it's the weekend.

Here are the good and bad parts of today:

Bad: I slept horribly last night.

Good: TH woke up and graciously took my mind off of the insomnia for a while. ;)

Bad: I was having a funky hair day. I tried to cover that up by curling my hair, but it didn't work. It was still weird.

Good: Friday is my weigh-in day on Weight Watchers. I joined again last Friday (online program) to lose these pesky last 10 pounds. I lost 2.5 pounds this past week.

Very, very, horribly, terribly, tragically bad: The best boots in the world - my 4 inch heeled black boots - finally kicked the bucket this morning after four years of wear and two trips to the miracle shoe repair worker. The zipper broke out of them.

A moment of silence for my boots, please. They were really THAT awesome. And now they're gone.

Good: I got a very respectable counter offer from my boss at Giant Ass Bank and finally was able to make the decision on which job to take. (I chose to stay with GAB because of the flexibility and the offer that I was presented.)

Bad: I ate pasta for lunch and likely gained back the weight I lost last week. But it was tasty.

Bad again: I haven't jogged since Monday. Back to it tomorrow with a one hour jog. My ipod is already queued up with the podcast I'm going to listen to.

Good: The Husband cooked dinner to celebrate my raise at work. Super yummy filet mignon on the grill. Yeah, that's more weight to lose this week, but it was worth it.

Good again: TH bought me a dozen pink roses, also to celebrate my raise at work.

Good again, again: TH bought me chocolate to celebrate my raise at work. (He's being suspiciously nice lately.)

And most recently good: TH and I just got done playing darts and I beat him. We played cricket and it came down to one more bullseye and I got it first. That rarely happens, so, yay for me.

Sigh. I'm going to bask in the glory of a day with more goods that bads. And think about how great it will be to find a great new pair of black boots this weekend. The icing on the cake for today would be if there's a new episode of What Not to Wear on tonight. Cross your fingers for me.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Heroes


The season premiere of Heroes is on tonight. Hollywood and I are all geeked out about it. Last season, we watched the show without fail, each week. At the end of each episode, Hollywood would say,

"Ok. So...." and she'd start firing off her questions about what happened. Then we'd share our thoughts and guesses on the plot twists and turns.

Fun times. I'd better get going and cook some dinner so I can get my run in before the show. Yikes. That's only 3 hours to cook, eat, clean, run, shower, and then watch the show. Oh, but I have TiVo now! Sometimes I forget that lovely little invention.

11 days until the premiere of the best show on TV. (Heroes is #2, behind Friday Night Lights.)

Oh, and lest you all think I'm a tv watching zombie, I have to recommend a book that I just got done with. She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb. It's a beautiful, haunting story about a troubled woman. What I love is that the book has a great ending, but it's a realistic ending. Not a sappy, happily-ever-after ending. Thumbs up from me!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Decisions, Decisions

So I finally got the word I was waiting for. I got an offer for that job I was interviewing for. It's great news. But I'm trying to decide what to do.

Here are the pros of the new job:
  • More money
  • More creative job - working on a very well known home decorating and garden magazine's website instead of Giant Ass Bank's site.
  • Along the lines of creativity - projects and ideas would not be governed by the compliance officers who have to sign off on every idea at GAB. 'The sky's the limit with ideas' I was told by the new company.
  • They have a fitness center in the building.
  • The team is full of young, creative, professionals. (My current department, outside of my small team, is full of white haired, grumpy old men.
  • This company promotes women - something my department within GAB is known NOT to do.
  • Working for a magazine publisher could (someday, somehow) help with my writing goals.
  • Did I mention it's more money?
The pros of my current job:
  • Awesome team to work with.
  • Great boss.
  • Flexibility to come and go as I need to. (with TH traveling as often as he does, I need this flexibility)
  • This one is the 'devil that I know'
  • I'm already known at my job for my knowledge of the systems I support. People refer to me as the 'web guru'. It can't be bad to be a 'guru' right?
I'm going to talk to my boss on Monday and ask if she can counter this offer. But then I still need to decide what to do. If she were to match the salary, then what? I really just don't know. If she won't match the salary, then I will take the new job. Because even though it's not all about the money, I obviously work outside the home to earn a paycheck. So, if I'm going to be away from my kiddos anyway, I should be enjoying a bigger paycheck. However, the flexibility issue is a huge one. I need to discuss this with the hiring manager at the new company. I currently work 7am - 4pm. I really need this schedule because of after school activities that my kids have. It's not the normal working hours for the new company, so I'm not sure how that would fly. And I want to make sure I can work from home if I need to. If I don't have that flexibility, then I'd have a really tough time accepting the new job.

So. See? Lots of questions. Any suggestions or ideas?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Waiting Game

Don't you hate when you are expecting to hear about something and it takes longer than you thought it would? I don't think I can check my gmail inbox any more frequently than I have been today.

It's pretty stupid, though. Once I receive this news that I'm expecting, I will need to make a very difficult and important decision (and I haven't made my mind up about which way I'll decide), so I really should enjoy the fact that I don't have to make it yet.

Right?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Coach Handbag Water Bill

See this beauty? It's a Coach handbag. Macy's is selling it for $548.

Which, incidentally, is the exact amount of our water bill this month. Yes, I said month and not year. When I opened the bill, my jaw dropped to the floor the way Sebastian the Crab's does when he sees The Little Mermaid singing to the human Eric while perched atop that rock. (Does anyone else think Eric was hot for a cartoon character? How did they do that?!)

Of course I thought it was a mistake and that I'd get it all worked out with a nice person from the water company's customer service department. That didn't happen. "Most likely you have a leak." The bored, unfriendly girl on the other end of the phone said. I could just picture her picking at her fingernails while I fretted about my bill.

"Yeah, right." I snorted. "A leak that made my water bill TWELVE times it's normal amount?? I don't think so." I confidently said. "Could it be the meter reader?"

"It's a brand new reader." She snottily replied. "We'll send someone out to check for a leak."

That's when I remembered the toilet. The one that had a little problem last month. It was the toilet in The Husband's bathroom. For reasons relating to self-preservation, I don't use that bathroom, which is why the problem went unfixed for so long. It had this little problem where it wouldn't stop filling the tank because the floaty thing wouldn't engage the stoppy thing. You might call it a leak if you were a snotty water company customer service rep. I remember harassing The Husband to fix it, and eventually he did. But not before it ran off and on for a month or so.

Surely a running toilet can't cause us to use twelve times our normal amount of water, right? Well, I did the math. It takes about a minute for that toilet to fill up the two and a half gallon tank. I'm pretty sure that toilet ran for at least several days, possibly worse. We were gone for a weekend and I think it maybe ran that whole weekend. That's a lot of water.

The water guy came to check for leaks today. There were none, and our usage is back to normal, of course, because The Husband fixed the toilet about a month ago. Unfortunately, Tinytown just upgraded to the big city's water company and the Tinytonians (ha!) are paying a surcharge to pay for the water main installations. That surcharge is based on usage, so that's partially why our bill was equivalent to that nice handbag in the picture above.

Ouch. So the next time you have a toilet that won't stop filling the tank, fix it sooner than we did and you can go shopping that month to buy a cute accessory or two.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Faithless Fans, The Wig Lady, and an Hour of Running

We are faithless fans. And we're paying for it big-time. The Husband and I are both big Iowa State Cyclones fans. I bought TH football season tickets this year for his birthday. It's the first time since we were students that he's had season tickets, so it seemed like a good gift. However, the first two home games were abysmal. They lost to teams that they should have easily beaten. It became apparent that our beloved Cyclones were pretty terrible this year.

The huge intrastate rivalry game was on Saturday. It happens the same weekend every year. In my last post, I explained that we got married on the day of the game - right smack in the middle of the game, in fact. The Iowa Hawkeyes are the Cyclones' arch-rival. The Husband has threatened disowning our children if they profess to be Hawks fans. He's fairly serious about that too! Anyway, we knew that the Hawks (who are a much better team this year) would likely tromp the Cyclones. So, faithless fans that we are, we sold the tickets to my brother (an avid Hawkeyes fan and alumni). He was excited to get the tickets - the new policy this year is that only 4,000 tickets were sold to Iowa fans, and everyone else admitted to the game had to be season ticket holders. So... K was glad to have them.

Until the game started, that is... The Cyclones pulled off a shocking win and made us all mad. TH and I were ticked that my brother was there at the game instead of us, while my brother was mad that he paid $100 to watch his team lose to some serious underdogs. It was just the kind of thing that happens to this particular brother and me. The luck of our Irish ancestors passed us over.

Hollywood had some friends over (including her new boyfriend) for the game. It turned out to be a nice little party - seven teenagers and then The Boy had a friend over too. So the house was hopping with kiddos. Most of them were Hawkeye fans, so it was fun to rub in the loss to them. Boy could those kids EAT, though. They hoovered through bags of chips, packages of cheese and crackers, little smokies, etc. Sheesh!

I have another embarrassing church story to share. Let me set the scene for you here: Our church fills up the pews right away and I didn't want to get stuck sitting in the folding chairs, so we arrived about fifteen minutes early. Before mass starts, people are kneeling and being quiet. Most of them are probably praying, or if they're a heathen like me, they use that time to wonder if they started the right players on their fantasy football team. No music or anything was going on at the time. It was very, very quiet. In the pew directly in front of us sat a woman with a very unnatural shade of bright red hair. Bumblebee piped up in her clear-as-a-bell-and-loud-as-a-fire-alarm voice, "Mommy? Is that lady wearing a wig?"

I sighed and prayed that she was hard of hearing or that she'd assume my kid was talking about someone else. I'd like to think that since we were in the house of God that He fast-tracked my prayer and took it to heart.

Finally, I have to announce that I completed the One Hour Runner program on coolrunning.com. I am now physically able to run for an entire HOUR without stopping to walk. I run very slow - only got about 5 miles in my first one hour jog - but I can still do it. I am so excited...

Here's another shameless plug for our donation site for the Race for the Cure that Hollywood and I are running on Oct. 6th. If you'd like to donate to help breast cancer research, click here. We're Monica and Briana, for those of you who don't know our names.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Anniversary and Preschool

Eleven years ago The Husband and I were married. We got married outside on probably the most gorgeous day of the year. It was also the day of the huge intrastate college football rivalry - the Iowa State Cyclones vs. the Iowa Hawkeyes game. Bad idea. Our guests were pissed. But we brought a tv, and people watched it before, after, and probably during the ceremony, that only lasted about twelve minutes. I was twenty minutes late for the festivities. Long story that involves speeding like crazy with my friend Gaylene driving, and having to buy a new pair of shoes on the drive down. I'm pretty sure TH didn't think I was ditching him. He probably didn't even notice my tardiness since everyone was watching the game on tv.

That's a picture of us cutting the cake. Don't we look sweet? And young? Wow.

We had the most adorable flower girl at our wedding. It was Hollywood. She was almost three years old when we finally tied the knot. Better late than never, right? Here's an adorable picture of her. She looks like Bumblebee does now! (It's a picture of a picture, so the quality isn't great.)


Anyway, Happy Anniversary to us!

*****

Bumblebee started preschool yesterday. She was so excited. We got her a first day of school outfit, a new backpack, and some new shoes. Then we did the first day of school pose outside the front door with the backpack on. Here it is:


I worked from home yesterday so I could take her to school and drop her off. We got her all situated and she met her teacher. I love this preschool because it's an 'integrated preschool' which basically means that it has disabled kids mixed in with developmentally normal kids. There are four kids in her class who are disabled. One is a little girl in a wheelchair who is nonverbal. Three others are autistic kids, with varying function levels. I'm really excited about the opportunity for Bumblebee to interact with these kids. It'll really help teach her about differences in people, and it gives her the opportunity to get to know kids who are different from her.

After school was out, I picked her up and asked her how her first day went. She seemed irritated, and she had a scowl on her pretty little face.

"Mom." She said very seriously. "We didn't paint, we didn't learn to read, and we didn't learn to write."

Wow - the kid had high hopes for her first day of preschool. If she'd had accomplished all of that on the first day, she could move into astrophysics in kindergarten! I explained to her that it will take time, that they will get to those things gradually. (Then I had to explain what gradually means. That's tough - you try explaining that to a four year old!)

She perked up after our conversation. "We did get to sing the Days of the Week song. And we got to read a book!" So apparently it wasn't a bust.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six Years Ago...

I still remember the shock I felt that Tuesday morning. The initial confusion, then the slow realization that it wasn’t an accident, the horror that this could happen here. I became addicted to CNN and could not keep my eyes off of the newly implemented news crawl at the bottom of the screen. I watched the towers fall over and over again. Scared and obsessed, I talked with my kids about what happened. And I hugged them a little tighter than before it happened.

Just like I did today. Because they’re safe.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Secret Potty

Last night I was hanging out with Bumblebee and the neighbor girls. We were outside in the yard and Amy and Megan's mom came by to tell me she and her husband were going to take a walk.

Pretty soon, Bumblebee was doing her "I have to pee" dance. You know the one - she clamps her hands over her privates and alternates legs to hop on. I will never understand why that child waits until the very last second possible to go to the restroom. She never has any wiggle room when it's time to go, which makes things interesting sometimes when we're out and about. Let's just say that Bumblebee does not share my disgust of public restrooms.

But last night, we were at home, so it was no big deal. She started running up the deck stairs but sometimes has trouble with the door into our sun room, so she was calling at her friends and me to help with the door.

Her friend Amy said, "Hey Bumblebee, why don't you just use your secret potty? It's closer!"

A little warning bell went off in my head, but I pushed it aside as I ran up the steps to open the sliding glass door for her.

A few minutes later, after she'd safely made it to the bathroom and all was well, I remembered Amy's comment and asked Bumblebee what this 'secret potty' business was about. She looked at the ground. Then she looked back up at me with big eyes.

"I just sometimes use a different potty." She said.

"Is this an outside potty?" I asked.

She looked at Amy and Megan. Because they were there, she had no room to fib. They'd bust her. But she wanted to tell me a fib... I could tell.

"Yes." She said.

"Show me the secret potty." I demanded.

"I just go over in the grass." She said.

But Amy was quick to jump in. "No, you have to show her the REAL secret potty."

Bumblebee looked up at me, her lip was quivering at this point. "Will I get in trouble?" She said.

I knew this was going to be good. "That depends upon what you show me."

I didn't know what to expect as she led me around to the back of the house by the patio. This is what she pointed to:


This is a Little Tykes basketball hoop. It's got a base at the bottom that you can fill with water or sand for stability:


Apparently, you can fill it with pee too. You know, if you're too busy playing with your friends to actually go inside to do your business.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Are You Ready For Some FOOTBALL?!

Woo-hoo!


The NFL kicks off tonight.


Fall is officially here. Forget Labor Day as the harbinger of Autumn. It's football, baby!

I wasn't a huge football fan until I met The Husband, but over the years I've really gotten interested in it. We're Packers fans around our house, but I also like the Saints this year. I usually pick an AFC team as my backup team, but this year I'm going with another NFC team.

Anyway, Who else is ready for some football??

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Race For the Cure

Hollywood and I are doing the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K this year. Here's a link to our pledge page, if you or someone you know would like to donate to this awesome cause, please pledge here under one of our names (Monica or Briana).

Thanks in advance for your support!! And, anyone here in Iowa who wants to run the race, feel free to join us on October 6th!!

'Iowa Ink' just doesn't have the same ring to it....

I have a confession to make. I love the show LA Ink. For those of you who don't watch it, it's a spin-off from Miami Ink and both shows are about people who run a tattoo parlor. Parlor? Shop? Joint? My guess is that they like the term joint best. Because, really, parlor sounds sissyish. Why did that word even pop into my head to describe a tattoo place? Whatever. It doesn't matter.

Kat Von D is the owner of the shop. First of all, isn't that a wicked-cool name? Seriously! It just sounds sexy and mysterious, and all that. Kat's got tattoos on her temple! She's got the typical sleeved arms and a leg that she lets her friends tattoo messages and stuff on. You know, like when you were a kid and the 10 year old down the street let you sign his bright orange cast when he broke his arm? She lets her friends do that on her leg. Wow. Anyway, here's a pic of Kat:


She's hot! I'm serious, I totally think she's amazing. Then there's her friend Pixie, who is freaking adorable in her pierced dimples sort of way. She has these dimples that are like my brother Erik's. You could park a truck in them! And she wears a little stud in each one. It sounds like it could be icky. But it's cute - in her bad-ass, nobody messes with me, but I'm still hot sort of way.

The show is interesting because you get a story line of why people come in to get tattoos. People come in to get tributes to their parents, their kids, etc. They get a tat to commemorate their battle with cancer, etc. The artwork on the show is amazing. These people really are true artists and I sometimes just sit in awe at what they produce.

The Husband doesn't like tattoos. I have one. It's small, on my right shoulder blade and is a chinese symbol for family/clan. (I know, chinese symbols are way overdone in the tattoo world, but it still has a good meaning behind it.) At the time, I trusted the tattoo shop that the character really did mean 'family/clan'. I've since heard of places telling poor, unsuspecting people like me that a character means one thing, when it really doesn't. Luckily, my brother's fiancee speaks Chinese and validated that it does, in fact, mean what I thought it did. I'm so glad she didn't look at it and laugh at me, saying that it means cheeseburger. Anyway, so TH isn't a big fan of tattoos. Which is kind of ironic because he has long, rocker hair these days, is getting back into touch with his guitar playing skills, and generally playing the part of a musician. Tattoos seem to go hand in hand with that image, but that's my guy - he's unpredictable like that.

LA Ink is definitely a guilty pleasure of mine - Hollywood likes to watch it with me sometimes, and TH doesn't love that. I think he's worried that she's going to run off and get a huge tramp stamp (tattoo on her lower back) when she turns 18. I doubt she'll do that, she's smarter than that. Putting on my parent hat, I have analyzed the show and there isn't anything unsuitable for kids in it. Seriously.

I love that there are fabulously talented, interesting and successful women on this show (along with one token male). I think I'm enthralled with the show because their life is SOOOOO much different than mine.

I'm not terribly artistic (crafty home interior projects don't count). I only have one teeny tiny tattoo. I'm a married, thirty-something mom with three kids who lives in IOWA. How funny would it be to do a "Life Swap" with Kat Von D for a day? Assuming the thought of running a needle gun and piercing someone's skin a thousand times a minute didn't gross me out, I think that would be so cool.... I can't imagine Kat enjoying carpool duties, making dinner (manicotti's on the menu for tonight) and bathing the kids and the dog. But it would be funny to watch, wouldn't it?

My mom and my mother-in-law both read my blog. Not to worry, guys. I'm not planning to go get covered in tattoos or move to LA. I just love watching the show. Call it a 'cultural' educational experience if you will.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Tables, Finances, etc.

The table is done. Sort of. I've been working on refinishing it forever and we finally moved it into the house last night. It looks pretty. I wonder how long it will take my kids to trash three months of hard work on the stupid thing. My guess is that it'll have its first sizable gouge by the week's end.

Here at Giant Ass Bank (as I'm sure it is everywhere in corporate America), the week after a 3 day holiday weekend is brutal. Especially when you have five days' worth of meetings crammed into four days of work. I just want to yell, "People - get off my back!" But I can't. Because that would be unprofessional or something.

I revamped our budget and savings plan last week and shared it with The Husband. He was actually quite receptive to it, even though it cuts his spending cash by $20/week, and basically puts us on a spending freeze for major items over the next two years. We've been spending a lot of money lately, and so it's time to reevaluate the finances.

I saw a great phrase somewhere, maybe on Dave Ramsey's website -are you ready for it? Here it is:

Act Your Wage

Isn't that great? In the spirit of my resurfaced goal of fiscal responsibility, I went to the library today and got some books that promise to teach me how to get by on less so I pay down the debt and increase my savings. I'm not sure what it will teach me, but it might get me in the 'save money' mindset. Example: a key to saving money in my house is making a list of what I will make for dinner each week, buying only the ingredients for the meals on that menu, and sticking to the menu during the week. When I take the time to do this, I get the following benefits:
  • I don't end up running to the store to buy a gallon of milk and walking out of there with $45 worth of impulse buys.
  • My family gets a week's worth of balanced, healthy meals instead of pizza or a bucket of chicken.
  • I only have to brave the store once a week.
Sounds like a plan, eh? The hard part is sticking to it.