December 26, 2009

Friends, please forgive me.

I am going to take a break from blogging for a little while. Thanks for understanding.

December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!


December 24, 2009

Stuff on My Desk: Drawing of Some Old Men


Personally, I hate conference calls.

They're almost always boring and too long, and I can't recall any that have actually accomplished anything meaningful/productive. In short, 99.9 percent of all conference calls are a giant waste of time.

Which is why I, like most people I know, resort to acting like I'm taking notes while I'm really making a list of things I need to do that day, trying to remember all the lyrics to "We Didn't Start the Fire" and doodling in the margins of my notebook.

(Oh, don't judge me. You know you're not listening, either.)

For some, like me, "doodling" means just that. Aimlessly scribbling meaningless shapes and occasionally making checkerboard patterns within said meaningless shapes (for some unknown reason).

For others, like my former co-worker, Bill, it means drawing something that LOOKS like something.

Bill not only managed to whip off the above drawings during a typical 30-minute conference call, he did it with a sub-quality, corporate-provided red ballpoint pen, all while making everyone on the other end of the call believe he was totally paying attention.

And then he gave the drawings to me.

I'd like to say I keep them hanging in my cube to remind me not to take work too seriously, to keep some sense of whimsy as I traverse through corporate life.

But the truth is, I just think they look kind of cool.

December 23, 2009

Seriously, what is wrong with people?


"Authorities have said Mendez admitted setting Brewer on fire. According to an arrest transcript, the boy said he made a 'bad decision.'"

That's from this story about three teenagers who poured alcohol over another teenager's head and then set him on fire. The kid has second- and third-degree burns over two-thirds of his body (the picture above shows some of his injuries) and will need surgeries, rehab, months of recovery. As one of his doctors said, this was a life-changing event.

Supposedly, the dispute was over $40, a video game and a bike.

Honestly. What is wrong with these kids?

I refuse to think things like this can simply be blamed on violent video games, TV and movies. Right? This sadistic behavior with seemingly no regard for consequences? Being able to SET SOMEONE ON FIRE and then say you simply "made a bad decision"?! Where does that come from? How do you get to that place?

I really don't get it.

December 22, 2009

Birthday wishes...


...to my dear friend Trophy Life!

I'm so glad you're my friend, and I love you dearly. :) I'm glad to hear you're actually going to TREAT yourself on your birthday!

How cute is this?

Since I'm feeling barfy (and, therefore, uninspired to blog) today, I'll instead direct you to the blog of one of my friends/cousins, 65 Roses for Marcia.

She made her own marshmallows this week, and I think that is really cool. I mean, how cute is this?


She even added crushed candy canes and dipped some in chocolate.

Once I can keep down something other than saltines and 7-Up, I'm totally going to try to make these.

December 21, 2009

Oh, all right -- I GIVE UP.


So, I got a Snuggie for Christmas. (We celebrate early with my family.)

Those who know me know that I've been an adamant naysayer when it comes to the Snuggie. Their commercials are horrendous (even by "as seen on TV" commercial standards), and I feel like all the people in the commercial look like they're in a choir or about to join a cult.

The Snuggie is just goofy-looking. I mean, it's a BLANKET with SLEEVES.


...


As I type this, I am snuggled deep into my own personal blanket with sleeves.

And I LOVE IT.

It is freezing in our house (we gotta save money, yo), and I'm currently battling a 24-hour stomach flu I got from my niece this weekend (I don't blame her--she didn't force me to hold her and smooch her cute face constantly). This damn thing is so unbelievably comfortable. And comfortING. I feel better just cuddling up underneath it.

And the whole appeal of a Snuggie over a blanket (the aforementioned sleeves) are THE BEST PART. I'm working, and every part of me is toasty warm except my fingers. No more draping one blanket across my lap and another across my shoulders and somehow trying to keep them from falling off.

I'm a total convert.

Thank you to my awesome Grandpa, who gave me my royal blue Snuggie (just like the one in the picture above) and ushered me into the fast-growing cult (did I mention these look like cult robes?) of Snuggie lovers. Even I could kill someone with the static electricity generated by this thing, I still heart it.

December 20, 2009

Photo of the Week: Everyone was snazzy in the 80s


I don't know what's saddest about this picture.
  1. The popped collar
  2. The model's fluffy, moussed-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life hair
  3. The feigned toughness on a face sporting a peach-fuzz mustache
  4. The jacket itself (do we really need chains AND embroidered stars AND green-and-pink pockets?)
  5. The fact that it's being marketed as "funky" (false advertising if I've ever heard it)

All I know is, in the 80s, I not only would've thought this Zach-Morris-wannabe model was foxy, I probably also would've begged my mother to buy me this jacket so that I, too, could be "funky."

And that is the saddest thing of all.

December 19, 2009

Amazing and heartbreaking.


This story made me cry this morning. Full story here.

December 18, 2009

Don't mess with Frank


I am shamelessly stealing this from Dave Holmes' other blog, but it made me laugh, so I don't care. :) (I've attributed it, so I'm in the clear, right? OK, cool. Moving on.)

Apparently, a Chicago Daily News columnist wrote a piece in 1976 about Frank Sinatra’s early arrival in Chicago before a scheduled show. The columnist described the cops constantly placed outside Sinatra’s hotel as "wasteful," called his entourage "flunkies" and accused Sinatra of wearing a wig.

Sinatra was none too happy.

He was so peeved, he wrote this letter, which I find hilarious and awesome. (It's short -- check it out.)

If you're interested, here's the full story about the (adorable) little old lady who paid $400 for the note back in 1976 and is now planning to sell it for around $15,000.

December 17, 2009

Stuff on My Desk: A Purse I Knitted

I love to knit.

You know what doesn't love me knitting?

My job and all the 500 million other things I have to do.

But once upon a time, I knitted (knitted? knit?) a lot.

The picture above is of one little project I did a few years ago. It's a tiny purse, knitted with some of that novelty "eyelash" yarn and some ribbon. It's hard to see, but there's a flap that folds over the top of the purse, sort of in a messenger bag style.

It was supposed to be something I could use to carry my cell phone and a credit card, just something tiny when I didn't need to carry everything in my giant briefcase/purse.

However. I've discovered that I pretty much never go anywhere with just my cell phone and a credit card.

And it's such a cute little purse, it was depressing me, just sitting sadly in my Closet Where Craft-y Projects Go to Die.

So now it's hanging in my cubicle, where it's all cute and yellow and is a conversation piece when people walk past on their way to the kitchenette. (My favorite question so far: "Why did you make that?" Um, so you could ask me about it? Weirdo.)



December 16, 2009

Do you think my husband would notice if I moved back into a dorm with all my friends from college?

This weekend, my bestie, B., and I baked cookies and had a slumber party.

We are 32 years old.

But once we were in our jammies and the Christmas music was wailing and flour was flying -- we might as well have been 18. Again. (OMG -- that was practically 15 years ago! Ugh. Moving on...)

Speaking of jammies, much squealing ensued when we discovered we were wearing the same pajama pants:



Wal-Mart: Making it possible to be a twinkie with your BFF, for less!

Here's B., with said cookies, in her cute kitchen:


And a close-up of the creations (pre-icing):

Anyway, no real story here, except that we baked tons of cookies, talked our faces off and had a MAR-velous time. It was a lovely girl-time retreat.

Just like college! Except we went to bed at 10:30, because we both had to work the next day. Boo for reality. :)

Pupdate: Jules Rules

We're babysitting our neighbors' newish dog, Julius (a.k.a. Jules), quite a bit lately. Last night he was at our house and I whipped out the camera (because he's just SO CUTE). Apparently, that was his cue to jump into the recliner and pose, thusly:


Honestly. He is so sweet. (And it's a good thing he is, because he had a poo accident shortly after the above photo was taken. Thankfully, he got off the chair first. Ew.)

And here's a shot of Murray and Bubba with Jules in the center. Note that Jules looks curious and attentive, while my two look bored/resigned to taking yet ANOTHER picture because their mommy asked them to:


(And I just realized that beige carpeting makes for possibly the WORST photo backdrop in the entire universe. Note to self: Pose dogs in the kitchen next time. Also: Get more exciting flooring.)

December 15, 2009

Dolls are evil

I hate dolls.

More specifically, I hate dolls that are supposed to resemble actual, human babies.

And I really, really, REALLY hate those dolls with the eyes that move.

That just isn't right.

I think it started when I was three, when someone gave me a cloth Raggedy Ann doll that was bigger than me. I still have it:


Granted, this doll doesn't look like a human baby. But something in its eyes scared the crap out of me. Or, maybe, the fact that its eyes were DEVOID of anything scared the crap out of me. Its eyes are all black and lifeless, and it's just perpetually smiling.

Shudder.

It sat on a tiny rocking chair by the foot of my bed for years, and it literally PETRIFIED me. When my parents turned out the light and my eyes had adjusted to the dark, I was convinced I could see it moving ever so slightly out of the corner of my eye, but if I focused on it, it would stop. Obviously, the doll was trying to sneak its way over to my bed so it could cause me some sort of bodily harm. Obviously.

(Can I just tell you that I have the full-body chills just typing this? I'm 32.)

So I refused any offers of baby dolls for Christmas and birthdays. (Barbies were OK; I mean, how much damage could a Barbie do?) And I steered clear of the antique Tiny Tears doll (with those awful flapping eyes -- UGH) that my mom kept in their bedroom. And I never went into my grandmother's basement (where she had multiple dolls -- with the crazy eyes -- HANGING IN BASKETS ON THE WALL) unaccompanied.

Dolls are evil. Don't believe me? Check out this article. The title is "The evil zombie doll we adore." It pretty much lays out my worst nightmare in a short, snappy article for Oprah.com.

The dolls are not messing around.

I would love to (someday) have a baby daughter. But family and friends, beware: Any gifts of baby dolls will be met with a tight smile and a (silent) hope that you've included a gift receipt. Because I just can't face having an evil zombie doll popping up behind the furnace and terrorizing repairmen and generally making me afraid to be in my own house.

(Stuffed animals are OK.)

(Unless they look like they're up to no good.)

December 12, 2009

Why do I do this to myself?

I'm a classic procrastinator.

And it's exacerbated by the fact that I always seem to think I have PLENTY of time to do something when, in fact, I have NO time.

We did a bit more online shopping than usual this year. WHY did I think it would be fine to wait this long to order stuff online?

I always forget about shipping time. UGH.

Hopefully my family members will be understanding when I just hand them a photograph of what they're getting with a sheepish, "Merry Christmas."

December 11, 2009

Sometimes the justice system stinks.


So apparently a 36-year-old teacher in Georgia (who is married with two little kids) was having an affair with his 17-year-old student. (That's him up there, talking to his lawyer. Ugh.)

The affair was found out, the case went to court and the 17-year-old testified that the affair was consensual. Because she did, the guy went free. To quote the judge, "It's gross, it's awful, but it ain't illegal."

Oh, well, that's fine then. Later!

Except: No.

Leaving the age thing out of it for just a moment... He's her TEACHER. He's an authority figure over her. Companies have rules about things like this for a reason, too. And this is even worse because she's SEVENTEEN. I know, in theory, that's practically an adult. But I think it'd be very, very rare for any 17-year-old to be able to emotionally handle a relationship with a 36-year-old authority figure.

The laws of consent are so dicey, I think. So much depends on the individual child (CHILD!) that it's so hard to know where the legal boundaries should be placed.

But.

I've known some ridiculously mature 13-year-olds. Does that mean they'd be able to emotionally (let alone otherwise) handle a relationship with an adult who is in a position of authority over them? Um, no.

As the CNN commentator said, in theory, this provides a loophole for teachers who find themselves in this situation in the future: Make sure the student says it was consensual (whether or not they actually feel that way) and you're golden. And, as they also said in the commentary I linked to above, consent isn't about just saying the words. It's about understanding what you're doing, the consequences, what it really means. Even if the student found his advances flattering (which she says she did), did she really understand what she'd be doing to herself, to her family and to his?

Since apparently Georgia deems 17-year-olds competent to choose their own sexual partners (even if they're more than twice their age, married and teaching them calculus), at the very least I hope his school system gives him the axe.

There are a lot of things wrong with this whole situation. And almost all of them fall on this disgusting man who thought it was cool to A) cheat on his wife, and B) do it with an underage girl who looks up to him.

Ugh.

December 10, 2009

Stuff on My Desk: Bowl That Looks Like an Orange


(Yes, I know showing you stuff on my desk is stupid. Yes, I'm still doing it.)

This bowl looks like an orange. (Hence my clever post title.) I was in Kroger one day last winter and thought this was just the thing to brighten up my very, very gray and depressing cubicle.

I love this bowl. It's so bright and cheery, and it capably holds my car keys and loose change while I'm working.

(Do other people keep their keys in bowls like this? If I didn't, they would perpetually be lost.)

December 8, 2009

The Internet is stupid.

So I'm having trouble thinking of a Christmas gift for my mom.

She's wonderful, but notoriously hard to buy for. She recently retired, and she takes care of my niece every other week, and she dotes on my grandparents and her friends and other family members. When she isn’t in constant motion, she’d just as soon sit down with a magazine or watch some kind of sporting event (which still baffles me. This is my mother we’re talking about. We could not be more polar opposite in this respect), but she also likes nice things.

I was thinking about an “…of the month” club gift. Fruit, wine, chocolate – something like that. Then I looked up a few of them online. Holy crap. They’re unfortunately a liiiiittle out of my price range this year. Those Harry & David guys are making a killing.

So I headed to trusty ol’ Google and typed in “gift ideas,” which led to a SUPER helpful site called FindGift.com. You tell them who the gift is for, the person’s relationship to you and their age, and the occasion. They even have a cheesy adorable “gift wizard” (with a…Palm Pilot?) to help you in your quest:


Following the wizard’s instructions, I dutifully entered the information and sat back to watch the magic ensue.

Wanna guess the number-one gift suggestion for my lovely mother?

Yeah. An OVEN SQUIRREL.

What the hell is an oven squirrel, you may be asking yourself (as I certainly was)?

Apparently, it’s a “home safety device” (um, what?) that keeps you from burning your hands when you get things out of the oven. You use the squirrel’s little wooden ears to hook onto and PULL the oven rack toward you, then you use its paws to PUSH it back in.

So, the Internet wants me to pay $21.99 for what is, essentially, a wooden and much-more-awkwardly-constructed OVEN MITT? Not to mention that the squirrel? Is not cute. It is tacky and stupid-looking. And, it’s just stupid.

Much like the Internet.

My other favorite (this is sarcasm, aight?) suggestions included:

#1: Instant Infant

What a horrible thing to give your mother! A very “in your FACE” move. Yuck.

*****

#2: I Am A Stuffed Animal Buddy


Because there’s nothing my 60-year-old mother wants more than a stuffed version of herself, so she…never has to brush her teeth alone? Also, that is possibly the worst product name in the history of time.

*****

#3: Tattoos for the Elderly


"This makes the perfect gift for saying you're old!" OK, that’s just mean.

*****

#4: Head spa

If you know my mother, just picture her with this on her head and you’ll laugh for five hours.

*****

And, my personal favorite, #5: Cat butt magnets

“Everyone loves cat butts!” If that is true, I hate everyone.

And, it comes with a bonus hair ball. I don't even know what that could possibly mean. But I do know you can’t put a price on Christmas memories like that.

December 7, 2009

I'm sorry, were you looking at me?

Bubba, doing what he does best:


From this angle, I think he resembles a toothless old man.



How do you not love this dog?

Snow? Yes, please.

Woohoo!










December 4, 2009

Stuff on My Desk: Rockin' Pinocchio

I spend a significant amount of time in a cubicle. It's a 6x8, gray, lifeless, soul-sucking space with absolutely no personality. And like many cube-dwellers, in order to maintain my sanity, over the years I've added layers of photos, posters and tchotchkes to liven up the space.

So I decided that, during the month of December, I'm going to show you the Stuff on My Desk.

(I did warn you that my blog offerings this month were going to be less than inspired. And here we are.)

So for this first installment, let me introduce you to what I call my Rockin' Pinocchio:


He's made of plastic. I don't remember what company made him or why I have him, but I remember that he came in a plastic egg. He's assembled with a series of plastic pieces and a metal rocker that fit together with tiny tabs. And his features are actually stickers that I had to affix myself.

When you tap either side of him, the round orange piece makes Pinocchio rock back and forth on the green stand he's sitting on.

He amuses me during long conference calls.

Although I've never figured out why he's apparently in a fighting stance. Perhaps Jiminy Cricket was being a smarty-pants.

December 3, 2009

Gift-giving philosophy


I think I may subscribe to the "Shit My Dad Says" philosophy on Christmas-gift-giving this year:

"Everybody's broke, so here's the rule for Christmas this year; if you still shit your pants, you get a present. Otherwise tough shit."

Heh.

Is it wrong...

...that I laughed the whole way through this (short) article?



What a loon.

December 2, 2009

Um, word.


Regardless of whether or not he had a publicist's help in writing this, bravo to Tiger's apology.

Sounds like he cheated, which is obviously gross. But he manages to come off as both contrite and (justifiably) angry with the intrusive press in his statement, and I think both sentiments come off as genuine.

I can't say I'm a Tiger fan, generally, but this is probably the most gracefully-handled and seemingly-genuine apology I've seen from a celebrity. I hope it's sincere. And I hope the stupid press drops this now and starts talking about actual news.

December 1, 2009

Sniff


I sit next to the kitchenette at work. As a result, horrible, AWFUL smells are continually washing over me as people make cheesy microwave popcorn (which smells like FEET) and warm up their leftover Chinese/Indian/fish-products.

(I'm not even going to comment on the people who pound on the vending machines and curse loudly, as though they were the ONLY person in the world and I wasn't sitting four feet away trying to, oh, I don't know, WORK.)

But just now, the guy in the cube next to me (whom I call "Snorty," for the reason you'd think) is peeling an orange.

Is there any better smell than a freshly-peeled orange? Not for my money.

Sigh. It's so lovely. I could almost forgive his repeated sinus-horking if he'd just peel an orange and let me smell it every day.

Favorite smells? Do tell.

November 30, 2009

Eight Completely Selfish Reasons the Holidays Stress Me Out


  1. Between traveling to see family and spending any free time either brainstorming about present ideas or shopping for said presents, my Tivo gets completely overloaded. When will I have time to watch it all? When?!

  2. On a related note, who had the bright idea to put So You Think You Can Dance up against an HD version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on Wednesday? Why don't you just ask me to choose between my dogs, you sadists!

  3. There are too many food choices. Three meats, 12 different kinds of potatoes, 25 different vegetables, 167 desserts. What do I eat?! Where do I turn?! Aaaaaahhhhh!!

  4. The song "Feliz Navidad" makes me want to impale myself on a sprig of mistletoe. I don't know why. But it gets stuck in my head for DAYS and makes me INSANE.

  5. Between my neighbors' and my co-workers' kids, I am now supporting every single class in every single school in Central Ohio. I cannot say no to a preschooler selling $35 candles who tells me, "I get a pri-thze if I th-ell the mo-tht. Can you buy the one with the pic-thure of the birdhou-th?" At least I have a stash of overpriced tchotchkes and giant tins of popcorn to give to people I don't like that much.
  6. Speaking of things I don't need: EVERY SINGLE COMPANY I've ever ordered anything from is bombarding me with e-mails about special holiday deals for things I would never want or need. Just because I once ordered tickets for Wicked doesn't mean I want to see A Holiday Classic with Tom Jones and Olivia Newton John*, TICKETMASTER.
  7. I get that times are tough, and companies have to tighten their belts. I'm sure that extends to advertising, too. But if Hershey's could please, for the love, develop a new commercial to replace their "Hershey's Kiss handbells playing We Wish You a Merry Christmas" where the little Kiss wipes its forehead at the end with its tiny Kiss paper and goes, "Whew!" -- I would greatly appreciate it. I'm fairly certain that was created in the 80s. At first it was cute. Now it's just lazy.
  8. What with all the witticisms and heartfelt sentiments I'm pouring into my Christmas cards, I'm nearly dry when it comes to mustering up things to write about on this blog. I'm just going to apologize in advance.
(Relax, I'm joking about most or maybe all of this. I love the holidays. But if you find me rocking back and forth in the corner whispering "I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heaaaaaaaaaarrrrt" while quietly weeping, please handle me with care.)

*May or may not be an event I just made up.

November 26, 2009

Out for turkey.


November 25, 2009

I could go either way on this one.


So today I tried Yoplait's new coffee-flavored yogurt.

I picked it up at the grocery store last weekend on a whim, and just finished eating it.

Hm.

On the one hand, it's intriguing. I like coffee-flavored things (ice cream, and... OK, maybe just ice cream). I like flavored coffee. Their yogurts tend to taste like what they're intended to taste like.

The first bite was...odd. It's very strong-tasting. And it tastes a little bit like coffee with a lot of artificial sweetener (which it probably does have) and possibly some liquor (not entirely a bad thing).

I'm pretty sure that, upon taking the first bite, my face resembled a tiny child trying a new food for the first time (La-la-la-Lila eating bananas comes to mind): "OMG what is this it might be gross do I like it I think I might like it but I think I'll spit it out anyway."

And then: the aftertaste. It is wicked. And not the good, Boston-accented type of wicked. More like the never-going-to-leave-my-mouth-so-I'll-probably-be-eating-coffee-flavored-turkey-tomorrow kind of wicked.

Has anyone else tried this? I'm on the fence. It wasn't bad, but I'm thinking I will pass over this and just grab more Harvest Peach from now on.
(I did see, while looking for the image above, that boingboing.com beat me to the punch on this one. And they boiled their review down to one word: Horrid. Ha.)

Can I express my undying love and devotion...

...for people who use "regardless" and "irrespective" correctly?

It is SO RARE. I almost stood up and cheered during a conference call today.

(Also: I realize that some people get hungry and feel snacky between breakfast and lunch. But does that mean they have to make popcorn at 9:30 in the morning? I feel like I'm going to throw up.)

November 24, 2009

What I learned this weekend


There are a lot of things I want to do "before I die." (I put that in quotes because it's a bit overly-dramatic -- they're really just "things I want to do," period.)

The list ranges from the expensive and/or difficult (visit Australia and trek through the Outback, learn to speak a foreign language fluently) to the pretty-mundane (go canoeing with my husband, finish our wedding album).

Most people who know me know that I take my career pretty seriously, and, in the last six years, I've worked a LOT. Like, a lot. Which left room for little else. I started my "things to do before..." list about five years ago, with just over 20 to-dos. Until this year, I hadn't done any of them. :)

Then, about a year and a half ago, I started working with a different group in my company. I was still busy, but I suddenly had more time than I'd had in years. Time to remind my husband what I looked like in the daylight. Time to do what *I* wanted. I hardly knew what to do with myself.

So I decided to look at my list. I've started writing a series of children's books, I started this blog, I started volunteering at our local dog shelter.

It's been fantastic. Amazing, fulfilling and rewarding. Not to mention satisfying to start checking things off the list!

Something on the list that I'd been mulling over for years was this idea of writing down the stories of how my grandparents and parents (and my husband's) met, fell in love and grew in their marriages. There's been no divorce on either side of our family—they’ve all stayed married through good times and bad. I find that so amazing and inspiring, and I wanted to know their histories as well as what they consider to be the "secret" to their successful marriages.

So this past weekend, I grabbed our camcorder and made the trip up to where my parents and grandparents live, and made appointments to “interview” my grandparents.

They were surprisingly accommodating of my weird request (as my Grandma said, “You want me to talk? I’m there!”), and seemed pretty excited about the idea of reminiscing and sharing their stories.

I started out chatting with my grandparents on my father’s side, who have been married for 63 years and counting. (That's them above and just below on the right; in the second picture, I told them to smooch and Grandpa's nose went into Grandma's eye. Oops.)

They’re an affectionate couple, and they clearly still enjoy each other after all these years. My grandmother is lively and loud; my grandfather is more reserved with a dry sense of humor. Together, they were hysterical subjects, talking over each other and correcting each other as they told their stories.

I’d made a list of questions to ask (how did you first meet, what did you think about each other, when did you know you were in love, what was your wedding like, what were the best/hardest parts of being married, what makes a good marriage), and I was surprised by how few of them I had to ask--their story just flowed naturally.

They told me how they met (he came in the store where she was working and “would never ask me out!”) and how they fell in love (they wrote letters for months and months while he was working out west during WWII), and the stories just flowed—funny, emotional and fascinating. They’ve traveled all over the world, and I had a ball listening as they recounted 63 years’ worth of memories.

When it came time to interview my grandfather on my mother’s side (at left), I was a little more hesitant. Not because he isn’t a fascinating person—quite the contrary: He's a career Army vet who served during Korea and Vietnam, and he's just a great storyteller. I just wasn’t sure if this particular topic (how he fell in love with my late grandmother) would make him uncomfortable. It’s only been four years since my Grandma passed away, and I know he misses her deeply.

Still, he made it clear that he was game. (“I’ve been rehearsing,” he teased when I arrived at his condo.) And interviewing him was an absolute pleasure.

He told me all about how he’d met my grandmother (at a teen dance club, where they danced all the slow dances, and he let her dance the fast ones with other boys!) and their wedding (a huge affair put on by her Italian father, who “invited every Italian in the whole town”). It was a glimpse into their lives that I’d never gotten before, and it was wonderful.

All told, I have more than two hours’ worth of precious memories and stories now, preserved for eternity. It turned out so much better than I ever expected. I knew this before, but this just drove home the point that I have the most wonderful family on earth!

And I’m closer to checking something off my list! My parents and my husband’s family are next—I can’t wait. :)

What’s on your “to-do” list?

November 23, 2009

I had a GREAT...


So much so, in fact, that it left no time for blogging.

I will remedy that tonight, complete with pictures of the family I had such a great time with.

November 21, 2009

Remember this guy? 'Cause he's funny now.


Anyone remember Dave Holmes? He was a VJ (aw, remember those days?) on MTV back in the early 90s.

Hosted Say What? Karaoke. Has guest-starred on Reno 911 a bunch of times in the last few years. Has probably done a bunch of other stuff that I don't know about (and can't be bothered to check IMDb to verify).

Anyway.

He noticed the trend of people doing things for a year and then writing a book about them. (My favorite example: A.J. Jacobs' The Know-it-all: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World. It's a great book.) So he decided to read one of THOSE books every week for a year, possibly learn something and then write a book about THAT.

He blogs about the experience (and various other things), and he's quite funny. From my very, very vague recollections of him on MTV, I had serious doubts about whether or not he could actually be entertaining. But lo!

He's been doing what he calls "My Year of Everything" for about a month or so now. He doesn't over-blog, and his posts are quick and snarky and amusing.

I've recently added it to my blog roll. Give it a look, if you're so inclined.

November 20, 2009

I'm old.


Last night, I went to bed at 8:30.

Admittedly, I'm still getting over a bad cold.

But still.

I'm 32. Not 92.

This is ridiculous.

Tonight, I'm thinking of staying up until 10, just to prove to myself that I still can.

Unless I fall asleep before then.

Bring on the Ensure.

November 19, 2009

Moisturizing advice?



(Note: I hate the word "moisturizing" because it includes the word "moist," which is just a disgusting word. Ew.)

I have dry skin. Dry, dry, dry. I would never have guessed as an oily-faced teenager that I'd ever, EVER have need for moisturizer.

But now I'm 32. Times have changed. My skin is a desert.

For the past few years, I've been using "Dream Cream" from Lush on my face and hands. It actually works pretty well, but 1) it really isn't meant for your face, so I think I could maybe stand to switch things up there, and 2) it's expensive, so I can't afford to make it a whole-body moisturizer, so while my hands look OK, the rest of me is a dry, flaky nightmare.

(OK, this whole post is gross. I apologize.)

So I'm looking for recommendations for a good body moisturizer that won't put me in the po' house, and a facial moisturizer that's a little less rich than Dream Cream but better than, say, Oil of Olay (which I've tried and hated).

Do you have a product you absolutely love, or even one that just does passably well? Please share. Don't be stingy. It's almost Christmas.

November 17, 2009

Loved it then, love it now


As Google lovingly reminded me all week last week, this year marks the 40th anniversary of one of the most beloved parts of my childhood: Sesame Street.

(Incidentally, my parents also celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this year. Yay, Mom and Dad!)

Sesame Street was an absolute mainstay in my life as far back as I can remember. my parents were incredibly strict about what we could and couldn't watch. This was one of only a few things outside of nature shows that we were allowed to park ourselves in front of. Not to mention that "cable" and "satellite" TV were foreign concepts to our family, so PBS was the only suitable television for my young mind, especially during the week.

And yeah, Mr. Rogers was OK (if a little goobery), and The Electric Company and 3-2-1 Contact! were pretty cool. But for sheer entertainment value (and, as it turned out, educational value), Sesame Street was in a class by itself.

Need proof? I can still sing you any number of songs from that show at age 32 (including one about taking your llama to the dentist, oddly), and remember fondly a huge number of the stories and lessons the show wrapped up in a bright, fuzzy, friendly package.

Sesame Street was the perfect supplement to what my parents tried to teach me: How to share, how to be a good friend, how to treat your pets--not to mention letters and numbers and colors and how to speak a few words in Spanish. To this day, 99.9 percent of the Spanish words I know are because I watched Sesame Street.

Earlier this year I read "Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street." It's a great book, if a little in love with itself and perhaps a bit too detailed (when the author says "complete" history, he ain't kidding). But it was fascinating to me to learn all the stories behind how the show was dreamed up and then created, how deliberate the creators were in what they included in the curriculum, and all the behind-the-scenes stories of how the characters I loved came to be.

(Something I never knew: The Muppet Show came into being because Jim Henson was getting tired of only doing material aimed at three-year-olds and wanted to do some more "adult" material. :))

I find it incredible that a children's show that started in 1969 could still be around and still be so relevant. Even knowing that it didn't come by accident or pure luck (the book made it clear that the Sesame Street producers focus-grouped EVERYTHING), it doesn't take anything away from the amazing standard of excellence they've been able to maintain.

I just loved that, while everything had an educational component to it, everything was also FUN. They made educational things fun and fun things educational. I have yet to see a children's show that does that as effectively or as consistently. (Granted I don't have kids, and I'm sure there are a million awesome kids' shows out there. But a 40-year proven track record is pretty impressive.)

Some of my favorite memories about this wonderful show:
  • The two-headed monster was always my (and my mother's) favorite -- they could always make us giggle uncontrollably.
  • Bert and Ernie: How can you not love them? In addition to adoring all their little sketches on the show, we also had a record (a REAL record, back in the day) of them singing various songs. Our family still sings, "La, la, la -- linoleum!" Ah, good times.
  • I always loved the idea that Oscar the Grouch had a pet worm. Not to mention the elephant that somehow lived in his trash can.
  • The sketch where the diner had to send back his soup a million times; Grover was the waiter. I don't even remember the punch line, but I remember that I loved it.
  • "1-2-3, 4-5-6, 7-8-9, 10-11-12, and the ladybugs sang at the ladybug picnic!" Yes, I still sing that every time I count in threes. (It happens more often than you'd think.)
  • Remember the big-mouthed aliens? (That's them on the right.) I'm sure they were teaching me something, but all I can remember is "Yep-yep-yep-yep-yep! Uh-huh! Uh-huh!" Come to think of it, I think they used to come to earth and learn how things worked...maybe? I kind of remember them saying "Tel-e-PHONE, tel-e-PHONE."
  • Aw, remember when Kermit played a roving reporter? "Hi-ho, Kermit the Frog here..." Aw.
OK, your turn. Did anyone else love this show as much as I did? Do your kids still watch it? Do YOU still watch it? (I probably would if I was home during the day!)
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