Think First. Your Kids Will Thank You.

>> Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I used to think my parents had a few too many "rules" about how to name their children.  While I appreciate very much how seriously my parents took the possibility of childhood teasing and lifelong embarrasment, I have sometimes thought they went too far, crossing off perfectly acceptable name combinations on the grounds that they might produce some unwanted twitters. 

First, you have their obsession with initials, and how they can produce unwanted innuendo.  Then, you have my father's outright hostility to nicknames.  Children in his family would bear the name they would be called -- no nicknames allowed.  (At least, that was the theory for the birth certificate.  Apparently the rule against nicknames had nothing to do with random nicknames based on his casual whims.  But, that is a story for another day.)  Finally, you have their concern over finding the appropriate number of syllables to counteract an obnoxiously difficult last name.  By the time they were done applying all the rules, my parents had only a handful of acceptable names to choose from.

My parents might have taken things a bit far, but looking around the world today, I thank my lucky stars.  Sure, my first name is always misspelled, and I have spent my entire life spelling all parts of my name to everyone trying to write it down.  And, sure, I never could find any of those novelty license plates or preprinted pencils with my name on them in the tourist traps of my childhood.

Still ... I'm glad for their cautiousness.  When I meet some people and hear their names, I think, "Oh, dear.  Perhaps a trip to the courthouse to change something is in order?"

Now, I don't want to "out" anyone who might be reading this blog.  If you have a troubling name, chances are you already know all about it.  I mean, some last names are just problematic, and if your parents were on a bender when they gave you the first name, you heard all about it in elementary school.  Or, if you had the first name and married into the last name, I am certain all the possibilities came out at your bachelorette party, or were swimming around in your head before you said, "Yes."  I don't need to embarrass you further.

Still, let's think about some general principles.  My parents had a few things right.  Initials do matter.  If your last name begins with a "K," you might want to avoid naming your child two names that start with "E," like, for example, "Erica Elizabeth."  Of course, if you feel strongly about the name, use it.  The world won't end, but your daughter may never admit to having a middle name until she hits at least college.  I mean, in the rough school years, do you really want your daughter's initials to spell "EEK!"?

Another rule I wish parents would consider is this:  If your last name is a noun in American English, please do not give your child a first name that sounds like an adjective in American English.  For example, if your last name is "Wool" you probably should not name your son "Harry".  A cautionary footnote to this rule is that many popular flower names for girls are also colors, and, hence, both nouns and adjectives.  Think carefully about your last name "Sofa" if you want to name your daughter "Rose" or "Lavender."

A few other useful tips are to try to avoid naming your children after characters in horror flicks or after porno stars.  If you don't watch either of these genres, this advice could be quite hard to follow, but hopefully with the passing of time, your child will forgive you.  So, at least, don't do it knowingly, okay?

For those of you that hate your names, what other naming advice do you wish your parents had followed?


More Things I Have Learned - the Post-Preschool Edition

>> Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm not sure when I last wrote a "Things I Have Learned" Post, but I'm building up a nice little list, so I think the time has come to share it with you.  I call this one the "Post-Preschool Edition" because I figured we are all tired of me trying to come with new and unique ways to say, "yet another list" in my title.

Don't worry, though.  "Post Preschool" is only a time reference.  Not every thing I have learned has to do with preschool... but a few do.

I have learned that:

1.  Apparently, according to Toddler, the bests part about preschool is the playground.  So far, that is all he has manged to tell me that he does while he is there.  What happens in the rest of the time is something I have yet to learn, although I've heard something about "pictures" and some questionable comments about skateboards.

2.  As far as Toddler is concerned, "talking about" a curbside drop off is altogether different than actually doing it.

3.  The reason that ramen noodles tell you to put the powder in after the noodles are cooked is so the powder stuff doesn't touch the steam from the boiling water and adhere to that little foil thing like paste.  (And, Doc Curtis, if you are reading this ... the ramen noodles were for ... the neighbors.  Yes, I was making them for the neighbors.  I wouldn't dare eat them after you told me to cut back on salt.  And I threw away all the soy sauce in my house, too.  Yep.  Threw it all away ... in the cupboard ... where it belongs.)

4.  My husband will eat most anything if I put steak seasoning on it.

5.  Given that Toddler has come home from both days of preschool with wet pants in his bag (or slightly damp on his backside), I think the preschool aides are having some trouble with crack-peeing.  I find this reassuring. 

6.  I have learned the mechanism that makes those instant bread product cans "pop" open when you peel back the label.  Don't know it?  Try opening one with a can opener once and you will figure it out.  I suspect you will be reading more about this in a future blog post.

7.  To my horror, I am finding Jimmy Johnson on Survivor to be compelling.  But, you see, I went to Penn State, and I'm not allowed to like Jimmy under any circumstances because of that whole national championship "we don't eat with the enemy" thing.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you have two choices.  If you are a football fan, you can Google "1987 Fiesta Bowl".  If you aren't a football fan, you can just read on and ignore this because you don't care anyway.  Add to that that I grew up an Eagles fan and live in Redskin's territory now, and you can see how I might feel a little bit conflicted and suprised that he seems so .. well ... likable!  (Again, if you aren't  football fan, just move along.  It would take too long to explain.)

8.  Preschool teachers are either taking mood altering drugs, or they give them to the children.  I can envision no other way any sane person could survive the job, and the ladies at the school all seem reasonably coherent and in touch with reality when I talk to them.

Feel free to contribute any thoughts about things you have learned recently.


Is This a Joke? No? Really?

>> Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Twitter is a wonderful tool.  It connects people all across this planet who would almost certainly have never met any other way.  Recently, I have begun a bit of a dialogue with author Derek Haines after we had both been mutually "following" one another on Twitter for many months.

I believe (dare I say it) that Derek followed me first, although for the life of me I never figured out where he found me.  Someone we both know must have put me on a "Follow Friday" list of some kind and he decided, "Hey, why not?"  I followed back, and I've been reading his tweets ever since.  The really cool part is that he lives in Switzerland, a place I have not yet been, and even if I had been there, chances are good I would not have met him in the lobby of my hotel or hanging around near my tour bus.

Then, one day, he did something I couldn't resist.  He tweeted about the Monkees, and he wrote a blog post about Peter Tork.  You see, the Monkees are a secret vice of mine.  (Yes.  I know.  I got a lot of grief about this from my family, too, especially my oldest sister.)

No ... I was not around for the Monkees the first time around.  I'm on the backslide to 40, but I'm not old enough to have been around in 1966, much less to have bought a record.  But, I was around for the Monkees reunion tour in 1985, and I was old enough to buy records then.  

(And, when I was in law school, I did see Mickey, Davey, and Peter do a concert in Boston on the town green.  And, yes, I still have Monkees paraphrenalia and copies of the TV show in my house.  Satisfied?)

But, I digress.  Derek was tweeting about the Monkees, and, oddly enough, Jimi Hendrix (which is not as odd as you might think it is given that Hendrix and the Monkees have a past ... but there I go, digressing again).  Anyway, I couldn't resist answering tweets about my favorite manufactured pop group.  One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I got the nerve to send Derek (a real, genuine, published author) a link to my Blog Challenge.

Then apparently we all jumped down a rabbit hole, because the next thing I knew, Derek was sending me direct messages about doing a guest post on his blog.

Yeah.  Wow.  I totally agree.

Of course, once I pinched myself, and quizzed him to death about whether he was kidding, pulling my leg, or otherwise playing some European style of practical joke of which I was not familiar, I said "Of course!"

Then I said to myself, "Well, crap, now I have to think of something clever to write."

So, all that was a long way of saying ... hey, I'm writing over at Derek's blog today.  No, all of this wasn't my blog post, it was just a little prequel for your reading entertainment.  You can find the real blog post over at Derek's blog, starting at noon U.S. Eastern Time, or 6 PM Central European Time.  (Those of you in other time zones will need to sort it out for yourselves.)

The link to Derek's blog is hereIf you click it before noon, you will get to read Derek's latest blog post, "Twitter's Very Precious Garbage Dump."  If you click it after noon (give or take a few minutes), you will see my guest post, "Who the Heck is This Murphy Guy Anyway?" 

Ready? Set?  CLICK


Coming Home

>> Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In yesterday's post, I described a little bit about what a day is like in this house when we are trying to get ourselves up to the football game, including a little insight into the anxiety of Big Black Cat.

Today, I thought I'd tell you the story about what happens to suitcases and bags when we finally get back from going away.

This post seems better told in pictures than words.  I call them, "You Aren't Going Without Me Again If I Can Possibly Help It."

Cat on My Stuff

Cat On My Stuff Too


The Day Before The Football Game

>> Monday, September 13, 2010

Last week, I was packing up to go to the season opener for the Penn State football season.  That, by itself, is not unusual.  I've been doing that for several years now. 

What was different was how experienced we all have become with the process.  Darling Husband and I had already put the suitcases and most of the "ordinary" stuff in the car the night before.  We were hoping to prevent random acts of unpacking by Toddler, and excessive shedding by any stressed-out four-footers.  What was left was the ceremonial "packing of the foodstuffs".

I put oatmeal and cookies and meatrolls and potatos and plates and cups and can openers and plastic utensils into a bag, and I put ice, and beer, and milk, and yogurt, and juice and chicken nuggets and hot dogs and broccolli into a cooler.

In the meantime, Toddler was removing cookies and plastic utensils from the bag and trying to put them both into his mouth.

By the time I was done putting (and re-putting) all the food, food byproducts, and food eating products into travelling containers, I was beginning to wonder if I was packing for a tailgate or a camping trip.  (Someone on Twitter asked me what the difference was.  The truth is that when camping, you are limited to what can be cooked on heated cook surface and stored in a cooler.  When merely tailgating, you can use the heated cook surface before and after the game, but they you have the added option of take-out or the microwave and refrigerator in the hotel room to make munchies for the hot tub while the kiddies sleep.  Families with older children or no children have the further option of going out to eat after the game and taking home leftovers.  Families with small children are welcome to try this event, but if the small children fail to nap during the afternoon game and have begun running in circles to stay awake, using the hotel room as a crash-zone and relying on the delivery driver and the in-room microwave is much simpler.  Like I said, we are becoming quite experienced at these experiences.)

The only ones that seemed to be unprepared were the cats.  Darling Husband came home from work at noon to begin the feeding-four-footers-for-the-weekend routine.  When Big Black Cat heard the sound of the cat food can opening early, he came tearing down from the bedroom into the kitchen.  Sadly, when he next heard the click of the timed-opening-food-dish closing, his whiskers fell in disappointment.  If you listened carefully, you could almost hear his thoughts. 

"Yay, food, food, food ... what?  Oh no!  They are going away again!  Where are the suitcases?  I didn't see any suitcases.  How long are they going to be gone this time?  Who is going to pull at that yucky stuff out of the litter boxes so my paws don't get dirty?  Who is going to clean up after Girl Cat when she blechs hairballs all over floor?  Whose feet am I going to sleep on?  What will I do when my head itches?  How many new things am I going to have to remark with my facial glands when they get back?  What cats and dogs are they going to go see, and how long will it take me to get that 'other pet' smell out of my stuff?"

Poor Big Black Cat.  He is getting more domesticated every year, and he just doesn't get football with all the yelling and cheering and travelling.  You may think that reaction is normal, but I had once had a cat that seemed to understand football.  He'd come up on the back step and peer in through the glass every time the game was on.  If we'd open the door so he could hear the commentary, the cat would start to purr. 

I miss that cat.  I wish these guys got the whole concept like he did.  Life would be so much easier if they did.


The Great Experiment (Don't Try This at Home)

>> Thursday, September 9, 2010

A few weeks ago, Darling Husband and I embarked on an experiment.  Don't ask what we were thinking.  I'm not sure we really know.  It was a combination of saving money, greening the environment, getting out more and staying in less, and probably some other karmic good stuff.  I don't completely understand it myself.

We limited water use and power use all over the place.  In truth, we wanted to see what the real dollars and sense cost to the home is of all our ordinary activities. 

Before you get too wound up about this, and before you begin worrying about what happened to my blog, let me explain a little bit about how this house works.

Hot water to the upstairs tub happens within 15 seconds.  Hot water to the kitchen sink can take as much as five minutes.  The bathroom that is mere steps from the kitchen can have scalding water instantaneously.  This sink can also pull hot water from the heater as many as four days after the power has gone out for a random hurricane.  I know this for a fact.  This house is messed up, and that is just the water stuff.  Don't even get me started on the air circulation.

In other words, this house is a bit of a maintenance nightmare.  How many cents am I wasting trying to get hot water from the kitchen when I could just walk to the bathroom?  How many cents am I saving by somehow having the hot water express-shipped to my upstairs shower?  And who knows what is going on inside that washing machine when I hit "warm"?  It's an energy star appliance, but is it on the "hot" or the "cold" side of the water line?

I know that adjusting our thermostat by two degrees can have a tremendous impact on our monthly power bill, especially in the summertime, so what else might?  Probably nothing, but why not give it a try, at least for the sake of Mother Earth?

So, like blind fools, we tried this "experiment".  We turned off all the lights in the house until at least 5 PM.  We limited each adult to no more than one shower a day, and we opted to wash children only if they seemed to need it rather than every night.  Then, I forced us to only do five loads of laundry a week.  (That took major arm twisting for sure.)

What did we learn in this experiment?  I learned many, many things.

1.  Don't try this experiment at home.

2.  Toddler is addicted to lights.  Every 15 minutes he asked, "Can you turn on the big light?"

3.  If we said, "No" to turning on the lights, he would simply get the stool out and do it himself.

4.  The laundry seems no different if I wash it and rinse it in cold.

5.  The dryer doesn't dry nearly as well on "medium." 

6.  After three days of no internal electric lights during the day, the house began to look shockingly like a cave.

7.  Cave-like homes lead to really bad moods.  Candles only help a little bit, and not if you are under five.

8.  There is no sense to this cave-like issue, because we have big wide windows and a lot of natural light, but somehow it isn't enough.

9.  Once we began to pray for sunset so we could turn on the lights, we gave up.  It can't be that much money anyway.  Mother Nature may be annoyed, but much more of this and we would have qualified as our own disaster zone.

10.  We will be keeping the laundry limit at five loads a week, though.  I like that change.

11.  As it turns out, children in this house really do need to be bathed daily.

12.  Limiting adults to only one shower a day on work weekends when garage and/or yard work is involved is a mistake.

I never really thought my recessed lighting in the kitchen and family room made all that much difference, but apparently I was grossly mistaken and they are actually the finest investment I ever made.  Apparently, these lights heighten moods like happiness and a sense of well-being.  They also seem to keep other moods, like grumpiness and random flashes of Toddler-anger, at a minimum. 

And all along I thought that was the television.  Huh.  Maybe I just have magic lights.  Maybe I just have a weird family.


Perhaps I've Gone A Bit Too Far ... Again

>> Wednesday, September 8, 2010

If you are looking for the Blog Challenge Link Up Page, please click the Challenge Button on the left of the screen.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, then I apologize for interrupting your reading.

Last night on Twitter, I made this statement:

"Nobody move. Nobody breathe. Nobody eat. The house is clean."

To be fair, that statement was an exaggeration. The only part of the house that was clean was the ground floor. The upstairs was still yucky, and the basement was ... well ... let's not go there.  (Seriously, you don't want to go down there.)

Starting at about 1:30 in the afternoon, I broomed, vacuumed, and dusted everything stationary. I decluttered crap, threw away crappier crap, decatted furniture with tape, defurred one of the cats with a brush, and sorted and matched toy parts. What I did not do was sanitize and stain-lift.  I mean, I only had so much time, and I had to prioritize.  I decided that digging out the stray strawberry plants from the yard and removing the broken down bulb leaves from the plants next to the door was a higher priority.  After all, those leaves have recently been trying to randomly attack people walking up the sidewalk to the front door.

Heck, I even managed to get half the laundry done.  I was still working hard on the toys when the Va Tech-Boise State game came on at 8 PM.  At 9 PM I finally broke down, put the vacuum away, and made dinner for myself because I decided that enough just had to be enough.  As tired as I was getting, if I kept trying to clean, I might only end up making things worse.
What, may you ask, was the cause of all this furious activity?  Why, it was Labor Day, and we are supposed to labor on Labor Day, right?  No, no.  Of course not.  Was it because Darling Husband was supposed to be helping me but instead snuck off to actually watch the football game live and in-person?  (Totally unexpected, of course, because we have no ties to either school, and DH learned most his football enthusiasm from your's truly, so he isn't usually the kind to sneak off to any game unless I go with him.)  No, that wasn't it either, although it didn't help.

Actually ... I am sheepishly forced to admit that I just might have overreacted a little bit to the pending home visit from Toddler's preschool teacher.

I know, I know.  It's just preschool, and just a 15 minute home visit. 

But, still.  Toddler has enough spunk and talk in him to make his own reputation in preschool.  He doesn't need any weird preconceived notions in anyone's head because of my inept housekeeping and gardening skills.  After all, he's a pretty darn cute kid that happens to be the son of a nerd and a geek.  Odds are he will be in glasses before he is six, and it's starting to look like he might be too short for sports.  The deck is stacked against him enough as it is without my help.

So, there I was, going through my ground floor room by room, shining them all.  When I was done with each room, I drew an invisible line at the door and told everyone (the cats and Toddler) that they were not allowed to leave any fur or toys in that room. In fact, they weren't even allowed to be in that room, because Mrs. Teacher was coming and we wanted to make a good impression.

Toddler asked if we couldn't just call her on the phone instead.

Maybe he has the better idea, because now I have to figure out what the two of us are going to wear.  I suspect Toddler's PJ tops and pull-ups will not be setting the right tone.  Getting those alfalfa cow-licks slicked down on the crown of his head won't be easy either.

Was I supposed to bake muffins?  Is that what the really organized stay-at-home moms would do?

I'm stll tired, and the late, late, edge-of-the-seat ending on the football game last night didn't help either.  My eyes are bloodshot and teary, and I probably look like I am coming off a bender.

I wasn't cut out for this.


Blog Challenge -- The Results Show

>> Monday, September 6, 2010

Last week, I shared with my blog audience a challenge issued by a so-called "friend" of mine allegedly to help me overcome my writer's block. Of course, the topic of this challenge was embarrasing and egotistical, so I felt compelled to share the pain around my blogging friends. Today, I am posting my answer to the topic, "Ten Reasons You Should Read My Blog." (While only marginally, I found the topic slightly more palatable than the alternative, "Why I Write?" however I let my readers select which topic they prefer for themselves.)

Below this post, you will find a link tool that allows anyone who wrote a post in response to my challenge to share a link to their blog. Please take a look at the responses that have been linked up and see what these other blog writers have written. I've asked the bloggers to link up by September 8th, but I'm sure a few will be early and a few will be late.

In the meantime, please enjoy my forced attempt to egotistically explain to you why you should read my blog.

Reason Number One:  I am a secret superhero that does battle against the forces of Entropy and Chaos in a never-ending struggle to save our planet.

Reason Number Two:  While attempting to entertain you, I always try to take the time to educate as well.  I provide helpful lists about things like Painting Rules, how to tell if you are a packrat, how to handle Potties in Foreign Lands, and dozens of other useful tips you won't find anywhere else.

Reason Number Three:  I am not afraid to share with you some of parenthood's most embarrasing moments.  (There are way too many posts for me to even try to link here.)  You'll either feel at home, or feel superior. Either way, it's a win-win for you.

Reason Number Four:  Someday, I am going to publish a get-rich-quick scheme that will actually make someone a whole lot of money.  Maybe that someone will be you.

Reason Number Five:  On any given day, I really just might make you laugh out loud -- or my guest posters or shout-outs will. 

Reason Number Six:  My husband thinks blogging might be what is keeping me from babbling Toddler-speak and eating bonbons all day, so I really need you to keep from talking to an empty internet over the sound of crickets.

Reason Number Seven:  I break out in random fits of football.  You might find this a good thing, or you might find it an excuse to take a break from my prolific blog entries.

Reason Number Eight:  I can make you feel normal, whatever that means.

Reason Number Nine:  Because I said so.  And so did my mother.

Reason Number Ten:  Where else are you able to watch in real-time blogging the story of one woman slowly losing her mind to motherhood?

There you have it.  I hope you enjoyed it.  I would say I hope you will read my blog, but I guess you are already doing that, aren't you?

Blog writers, please link your posts using the LinkyTool below. In the first block, please insert your name or blog title, which topic you chose, and whatever else it is you would like us to know about your post. In the next box, please include a link directly to your blog entry. (Please link directly to your post and not to the homepage of your blog.) If you are having trouble with this form for any reason, please let me know and I will try to help you link your blog.


Short People

>> Friday, September 3, 2010

Most of the time I forget I'm short.  I know, if you ever see me or see a picture of me, you probably wonder how I could possibly forget such an obvious thing.  After all, I married a man over six feet tall, and I hit five feet only with some effort.

Nonetheless, I think my height is the right height from which to view the world, and the rest of you are all overcompensating.  After all, the taller you are, the more likely you are to notice things like dust and spider webs on high shelves, fan blades, and picture frames. 

I do have moments, though, when I think being short makes some things difficult -- nearly impossible.  Recently, I confessed to my distressing ability to not-fold sheets.  I firmly believe that the entire problem comes from being short.  Sheets, by definition, are taller than most people, but even if I stretch my hands as high over my head as I possibly can, and say, "Blast off!"  (Oh, wait.  That's from Little Einsteins.  Let me try that again.)  Even if I raise my arms, I still cannot hold on to the top of the sheet without several feet dragging on the floor.  I wonder if I stood on the couch while trying to fold the sheets if I would have any better luck, provided I can keep my balance on the cushions.  Of course, if all I am going to do is remove a sheet from the dryer and then drag it all around like PigPen with his blanket, why am I bothering to wash it in the first place?  The better solution is to wait until someone overly tall comes home and let them take care of it.

Of course, on the same day I was last attempting to fold sheets, I also had to put the pool towels away.  The pool towels live on top of the linen closet, in the narrow bathroom.  The top shelf is even more over-my-head than most closet shelves, and with a stack of pool towels over 18 inches high, shoving won't work.  They just fall back.  Aiming and heaving won't work either.  The top of the closet door is too low to let me "aim and throw," and the rather idiotic configuration of the door to the bathroom and the closet door have stymied my attempts to get a chair into the room.  I am left with Toddler's potty stool as my only height-increaser, and that thing has a weight limit.  Please, don't even get me started on the pillows.  I have several sitting in the bedroom waiting for the mythical tall person to come and put them away for me.  (DH has stepped over them for weeks now, so I suspect he will not be volunteering any time soon.  I'm not sure what he thinks they are doing there on the floor.  Perhaps we are being extra-nice to the kitties.)

Then, this morning,we had the "vacuuming the spare bedroom" incident.  The skies are overcast, presumably because Hurricane Earl is stirring up all kinds of cloudiness about 200 miles away in the ocean, so the sunlight that I rely on to help this house feel less cave-like is noticably missing.  No big deal, right?  Turn on the light, right?  "The light" in this room is attached to the fan, and is currently only usable by a pull chain ... that is about half an inch long and attached at the base of the bulb ... on the ceiling.  So, I vacuumed the room in the dark, by the dim light of the hallway and the Hurricane-Earl-Obscured-Sunlight.  I know better than to think any tall person is going to come by and vacuum this room.  People in this house seem to think vacuuming is for short people because we can see dirt on the carpets better.  Hmph.


Oh, You Shouldn't Have ... But I'm Glad You Did

>> Thursday, September 2, 2010

I know this post is a little bit late this morning.  I was supposed to be sitting around last night thinking of something clever to say, but I got hung up with the Big 10's football division announcement show.

Oh, wait.  That isn't right.  Yesterday was my anniversary, so I was supposd to be sitting around eating Chinese food and hanging out with my husband.  Yep.  We did that -- while watching the Big 10's football division announcement show.

Sadly, we missed the first 10 minutes of the show due to an airing of Lady and the Tramp from our VCR.  (Ahem, yes ... VCR.  We're a little too cheap to re-buy all our old VHS tapes for the DVD player -- just the Star Wars ones so that DH doesn't have any anxiety attacks that there might be deleted scenes and special material out there that we do not possess.  And, that would be ... all the versions of Star Wars:  anniversary, silver, gold, wide-screen, digitally remastered, and original and un-remastered.)  Nonetheless, we did learn about the excellent anniversary present that the Big 10 Conference gave us -- a protected cross-over game between Penn State and Nebraska for eternity.  While I am deeply humbled that the Conference wanted to make such a glorious announcement on our anniversary, I am deeply thrilled too.  This rivalry is meant to be.  Penn State and Nebraska have each cost the other a national title, and the time for mutual paybacks has finally arrived.

As I type this great revelation, I can hear the varied reactions going through the minds of you, my readers:

Some of you are finding out about this division announcement through my blog because it popped onto your news stream on Facebook.  Sadly, you are a bit out of touch, but don't worry.  I will help you out.  Here are the important facts you might be missing.  1.  College football season starts tonight, and the Big 10 is actually playing a Thursday night game.  2.  This coming Saturday is the season opener for just about everyone else.  3.  Nebraska joined the Big 10 back in June, and Colorado went to the Pac-10.  4.  Penn State and Ohio State have been slated into the same division, and divison play starts in 2011.  There, that should be enough information so that you don't embarass yourself until you can rush to the internet and catch up.

Some of you are thinking ... wait.  Doesn't that mean there are 11 ... no, 12 schools in the Big 10 now?  Yes.  There are.  Try not to worry about it.  The name and the number of schools hasn't matched for nearly 20 years, so there is no point in worrying about it now.  Just move on.

Some of you are trying to figure out why I'm talking about football and are wondering when I'm going to stop.  Umm ... next question?

Hearing none, I will end this discussion and return to my previously-scheduled task of packing for the opening game. 

What was that?  Did one of you say, "which game?"  You must be new here.  It's the Penn State game, of course.  (And welcome, by the way.)  I still have one extra ticket if you want to go with me.


It's All Good -- BLOG CHALLENGE!

>> Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September first has come again.  College football starts tomorrow night, the pool closes on Monday, and for all intents and purposes (except for that equinox-thingy), summer is over.  This summer has been a strange one all around.  June was record-hot, and August was cool(ish) and rainy. 

I can't say the summer has been a bad one.  We have had a lot of fun at the pool, meeting new friends, and going to the park.  In all, I'd say we had a lot more fun than we did last year.  At the same time, though, there have been a lot more disruptions to our "peaceful and quiet life".  (Yes, try not to laugh at that one.)  While reading the blogs of some of my fellow writers and fellow special-needs moms, I feel like I am not the only one that has had a challenging summer.  I have read far too many posts about funerals, medical hurdles, life-threatening illnesses, emergencies, tragedies, sorrows, and medicial decisions no parent should ever have to make. 

I, myself, have had several surgeries since May began (including that one where I forcibly evicted my gall bladder after spending the entire day in the ER), have received more funeral notices than I ever wanted to see, suffered my own small losses, and hugged friends making difficult and painful choices.  At the other end of the spectrum, I have stood at the feet of some of the world's most collossal monuments and fulfilled some of my most treasured dreams.

 And, somewhere along the way, I fell off the writing bandwagon.  After almost an entire year of week-daily posting,  I have been struggling to get back on track.  Oddly enough (or perhaps not so oddly), I've been hearing that same complaint from a lot of my fellow bloggers.  For me, I can still see the funny in the world, but I have a hard time holding onto it long enough to put it in the blog.  If deep-thinking monologues were my style, I would have had a very productive summer, I suspect.

In the midst of all this, a "friend" of mine issued me a challenge to help break my writer's block.  (As you will see, friends like this make me question my judgment in people.)  Anyway, he suggested I write a blog about "The Ten Reasons Why You Should Read My Blog."  My response was not really printable in a PG blog.  I mean, can you think of a more egotistical topic?  (I think perhaps he missed the part where I write "self-deprecating humor".)  Okay, since I didn't like that idea, he suggested that perhaps I write a post explaining why it is I write.  Hmm.  Actually, I think that idea is ... even worse.  The "top ten" idea is like walking outside in a prom dress in the middle of July at lunchtime and screaming, "HEY!  LOOK AT ME!"  The "why I write" idea is like trying to sneak out the front door to get the newspaper at 5 PM, still in my bathrobe while the entire street has thrown a spontaneous a block party in my front yard.  I'd almost rather take the prom dress.
Then, I got to thinking.  I've written about pee, poop, loss of internal organs, my belly button issues, my son's habit of repeating curses I uttered a year ago, and a whole host of other embarrasing topics.  How much worse could this be?  After all, I have someone to blame.  I don't have to take responsibility for such an egotistical topic if I can claim that someone dared me to do it, right?  Because turning down a dare is just the responsible, adult-like thing that humor writers are known not to do.  Plus, it's a writing challenge, and I have writer's block.  How can I say no?  I can do this.  I can tell people why they should read my blog, and I can take it to the comedic level, and in all events, I can blame my friend for making me do it.
Then, I got to thinking a little bit longer ... and things got dangerous.  I decided that if I was going to accept the challenge of writing one of these two topics to help break my writer's block and re-establish my connection with the "funny" in the world, then why not share the pain?  Why not challenge YOU, my fellow bloggers and authors, to do the same thing?  Why not break your summer-jinx, or writer's block, or bad attitude, or whatever is plaguing you?
So, here it is.  I hereby challenge YOU to write a blog post on one of the following two topics.
1.  Ten Reasons Why You Should Read [Whatever it is I Write], or
2.  Why I Write.
If you want to be funny about it, that sounds great to me.  If you have a community service blog or other kind of web presence that makes sense to be serious, then be serious.  Your choice.  Just sit down, write it up, and we'll all link it up one week from today.  You can feel free to blame me entirely for the topic choice.  I'm expecting it.  In fact, I will be disappointed if you don't.  After all, I'm passing the buck, so why shouldn't you?
So, are you up for it?  One week from today, on September 8, 2010, I will post my Ten Reasons Why You Should Read My Blog, as I was dared to do by my (albeit rather questionable) friend.  I will also put in a link button on the bottom of that post for you to link your blog and share what you have written too.  If you want to commit to the challenge, please post a comment below.  If you would rather coast along and drop your link as a surprise next week, that's okay too.
One week, my friends.  One week.


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