Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of Year Questionnaire...

I guess I'm making it a tradition, if anything you do two years in a row can be called a tradition... Last year's answers can be found here.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
Experienced the death of someone very close to me.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
The only one I can think of was my decision to participate in Project 365 which I fizzled on roughly 2.5 seconds after blogging about it. I don't think I wrote any others down knowing my tendency to sabotage anything I state that I'm going to do more/less of. I'm sure there was the typical lose weight idea in there somewhere and I blew that one out of the water and gained, oh how I gained.

In 2010, I'd like to get aggressive about whatever it is that my body is doing that is causing so much pain. I'd like to get serious about the status of my house, I need to purge like a bulimic. We need to eat more/better meals at home together as a family. There - lets see how much I can screw that up in one year.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
I had several bloggy/internety friends have babies. But no one in real life. We're waiting for my brand new baby niece to arrive in February.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes.

5. What countries did you visit?
I'm lucky if I visit the next town over. I didn't get to do any international traveling.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
Energy

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
July 4th, the day of my Father's death and the 100th anniversary of his Mother's birth.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Not dropping any of the balls that I was juggling (although poorly).

9. What was your biggest failure?
Cleaning my house and feeding my family nutritious meals.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had shoulder surgery in May. It's coming along nicely. I'm still searching for the source of my pain and malaise. It looks like I haven't moved far in that search since last year at this time. January should bring some answers though.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Oooh I have a gorgeous new purse oh oh and a gorgeous new car.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Overall my children are well behaved and deserve to be celebrated.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Let's just not go there. There's that certain someone who never ceases to be a thorn in my side. (No Matt I'm not talking about you, you are perfect in every way)

14. Where did most of your money go?
Bills and Christmas gifts

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Matt going to school. I'm so proud of him.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
I can honestly say that I don't associate songs with years. I don't usually know who sings what or when they sang it.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
b) thinner or fatter?
c) richer or poorer?

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Exercise (who DOESN'T wish that?)

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
I wish I'd spent less time at football practice. Oy I'm glad that is over.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
We spent it with friends and family in the snow and cold. It was fantastic.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?
I'm not sure that I did. I didn't meet anyone new. I didn't reconnect with anyone old. I'm in love with the same old crew as last year.

22. What was your favorite tv show?
I have the same favorites as last year, House and Big Bang Theory. Chuck doesn't start back up until January. I'm also loving The Mentalist and plan to get my hands on the discs from Dexter.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I can't think of anyone I dislike enough to spend the energy hating. Glenn Beck pops to mind, but mostly he's a buffoon, I hate that people believe what he says more than I hate him. I feel sorry for them and wish they had the presence of mind to research the stupid shit he makes up.

24. What was the best book you read?
Oh we all know I love to talk about books. I'd have to say that the bests were:
Firefly Lane
Losing My Religion
The Doctor's Wife
The Book Thief
The Outliers
The Red Tent
The Blind Side
I am also currently loving, The Greatest Show on Earth, SuperFreakonomics, True Compass, and The Help.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I'm musically lame. I wouldn't call anything I listen to a discovery.

26. What did you want and get?
I wanted Matt to get a fabulous new job that makes him happy everyday. We both got that. He comes home smiling every day!

27. What did you want and not get?
A magical cure.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Let me preface this by saying that I do not see many films, artistic masterpieces rarely cross my path. Hangover was the funniest, hystericalist, most entertaining movie I have EVAH seen. I laughed so hard I thought I was going to hurt myself.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I don't remember and 29+6. There was surely dinner with the Wilkinsons at Kan Pai. I vaguely remember the boys getting drunk on ninja sake.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Meh. I'm satisfied. Maybe I need to set my sights higher?

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Lazy.

32. What kept you sane?
Happy pills.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Rachael Maddow impresses me greatly. I love her mind.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Health care.

35. Who did you miss?
My Dad.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
I got to meet Michelle and hear her lovely southern drawl (there is a distinct difference between drawl and twang people).

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009?
You really CAN spend too much time at a kids' sports practice.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Can we refer to my previous statements about my lameness where music is concerned?

I think I need some excitement in my life. Some direction. I'm letting this random pain shit drag me down. Goals are a good thing Amanda. I'm going to work on that.

If you would like to take the questionnaire and post it on your blog, I'd love to read your answers. Post me a linky wouldja?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Random Babble from my Brain to your Eyes...

* I've seen an unusually large number of people with purple highlights in their hair this month. Like this:



Is this a new thing? I didn't get the memo. There's even a t-shirt on Zazzle. The people I saw weren't actually WEARING a t-shirt but maybe they have one. Maybe you have to order it to get in the club.



* When you are preparing to park your vehicle and are given the option of numerous fantastic parking spaces, do you choose the pull-through one? You know the one where you can pull forward right into it and then not have to back out to get out of it? I've noticed that a lot of people do not in fact choose the pull-through space. Sometimes they park in the first space, not pulling up to the pull-through space, or, and this is REALLY weird, they back-up OUT of a space that has a perfectly good pull-through space right in front of them. This makes no sense to me. Why would you drive in reverse if it weren't necessary? Don't think I haven't wanted to stop these people and tell them they're doing it wrong.



* Skyler kept her southern accent in check while we were up north but as soon as we got back here she was twangin it up. I'm concerned for her. We're going to have to put her into some sort of anti-twang learning program or, as I threaten regularly, she's going to live with her grandmother. Zack, on the other hand, chose to tease his grandmother with a faux New England accent with perfect timing for max-humor. Why do I find that enjoyable but the former not? I just can't figure it out y'all. <---It even hurts to type it.

* Did you watch the Christmas episode of Modern Family? Matt and I almost died because the Dad, who's name I can't remember, punished the kids drastically by taking away Christmas which is exactly something Matt does. He dives right into WORST PUNISHMENT EVER for minor infractions and then feels bad and can't decide if he should undo it because then the kids will think he's weak. The whole scene was a perfect skit of a recent incident in our house. I love when that happens. It makes you feel that it's so common that it's in a freakin sitcom, quitcherbitchen about your poor life/problem/situation. We are not alone!

/random babble blogpost

Wednesday's Word...

Sententious - pompously pithy; self-righteous

Not only do I love the word sententious (which I'm thinking Matt might agree could describe me at times (always?)) but I love the word pithy too.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Read This...

I'm back on a reading kick which has me excited. I haven't read as much as I usually do this year. Nothing has been holding my interest. I've been in a bit of a funk about books. But I think I'm back on a roll.

I got some great books for Christmas that I'm pretty geeked about.

The Little Red Book of Very Dirty Words


SuperFreakonomics

I Never Met a Metaphor I Didn't Like

No One Cares What You Had For Lunch


Smart Words for the Erudite

The Big Book of Words You Should Know

I read The Blind Side over Winter Vaca. The book was a bit different than I think the movie is. There was A LOT of football history. I'm not particularly interested in football history but I was interested enough in the story of Michael Oher that I chugged through it and was pleased that I had. I think the movie will be even better.

I'm reading The Help now. This one didn't spark my interest at first but so many friends have given it a rave review that I couldn't pass it up. I've only read the first chapter or four. I keep getting sleepy.

I started a Fifty Book Challenge last April and although I've felt behind since then, I think I'll be fine. I've got 16 books to go. I can't just read a book to read it so there's no cheating for me and books I read with the kids don't count.

What are you reading?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Recap (that's how I do it)...

We're just off the road from a week in freezing cold New England. There was snow, and family, and cold, and naps, and friends, and food, and fun, and joy, and gifts, and giving, and visiting, and adventure, and driving, and love, and a wonderful time had by all.

We drove like race car drivers to beat the Mid-Atlantic storm and arrived in Massachusetts just as the snow began. The kids were outside with their cousins climbing mountains and building snow forts until after dark. We sat inside and just talked and talked with Mom and Ben & Shelle.

Sunday was spent getting the kids into their snow gear and then getting them out of their snow gear and then getting them into their snow gear again x a kajillion. I'm sure I took a nice nap in there somewhere. Mom and I also snuck out while it was still snowing to finish our shopping. We beat the holiday crowds as they were still shoveling snow and got out of there just as the other shoppers arrived. We thought we were pretty slick and celebrated with a drink at the 99 Restaurant.

Monday we drove into Boston and took the kids to the Museum of Science. We all learned a few things and with the exception of the obligatory gift-shop parent/child battle of wills we had a great family outing.

Tuesday Mom and I did more shopping, this time mostly for ourselves (squee) while Matt and Zack and Ben went to see Avatar (best movie EVER according to Zack) and Skyler got to spend time with her favorite Aunt Shelle and her cousins.

Wednesday there was a lot of cuddling and napping and playing and general hibernating.

Thursday morning the kids got to open all of their presents as my niece Nadia was with us for the day. There was lots of joy and exclamations of excitement by all. What a wonderful morning. Thursday evening was spent with our extended family that we don't get to see enough of!!! Pirogi YUM! We even got to chat with my cousin Melissa who is having her first Aussie Christmas.

Friday we exchanged gifts with Mom and Ben & Shelle and the kids. We went sledding (SO fun) and enjoyed dinner and games and general silliness.

Saturday was packing and hitting the road. Sad.

In addition to all of that, Skyler cracked open her chin, lost a tooth, and scraped a big chunk of skin off her wrist (I'm still not convinced it isn't broken). We played a thousand rounds of fetch with my mother's cat, yes cat. We stuffed our faces, layered on clothes, wrapped gifts, and then unwrapped them. There were stories told and stories made. There were laughs and tears.

We can't wait to do it again next year.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Just Repeating Myself...

We've had a lot to get accomplished this week, the week before Christmas. I've been very busy, boxing, wrapping, shopping, packaging, organizing, laundrying, shopping, baking, delivering, and let's not forget that pesky full-time job thing. This of course means that the kids' attention sensors go off and they realize that they are not getting their usual quota of 100 % of my positive attention and, being kids, they know that any attention is good attention so they start with the bickering and the fighting and the non.stop.talking and the not listening so that I will have to acknowledge that they are not listening and the OHMYGODSI'MABOUTTOLOSEMYMIND!!!!!!

If I have to repeat the following phrases one more time, you'll have to check me into the loony bin:
Brush your teeth
Do your homework
Put on a coat
Hang up your coat
Pick your socks up off the floor
Quit antagonizing your sister
LEAVE her ALONE
Stop jumping on my bed
Get in Bed.
Get in Bed.
Get in Bed.
KNOCK IT OFF
ZIP it

I feel like I have said nothing but those phrases to them all week long. I can't wait for vacation. I have every intention of doing some hard core hibernating while they play outside with their cousins!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's Summer in Australia...

My brain is mush today. I can't put two thoughts together. Let's see what sort of random blabbing I can come up with for you:

* My cousin Melissa moved to Australia this summer. How awesome is it that the whole family can easily stay in touch via Skype? During a recent family get together, she got to join in the fun:



* Zack's grade had an open house for honor roll students last week. They got a medal and each time after this that they receive honor roll they receive a pin to add to their medal ribbon. He was quite proud of himself.

* On the flip side, he's lost his science book and didn't mention it's missing status to us until 5 minutes before we were to leave the house yesterday. I made him go through his schedule and figure out the last time he brought it home for homework, October 15th. So, it's either been missing in our house since then, or it's in the school somewhere. My powers of finding things once they leave our house is minimal. His input on the situation is vague at best. He just keeps repeating "it's lost" as though that's a magical place that Mother's are responsible for. Is it possible to LoJack every item your kid owns?

* I'm just about done with Holiday shopping. Amazon Prime is my friend. If it exists in the world of amazon, I can have it in two days. I will change the item that I am purchasing if the options are go to retail store vs. shop at amazon. Retail stores are the epitome of hell on earth right now.

* And finally, for your enjoyment, pictures from almost exactly one year ago:



I'm told that there's no magical white stuff at Grammy's yet, but she's doing a snow dance every morning. That should do it right?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Interview With a Six and an Eight Year Old...

I took the time to interview my little brats at dinner the other night. They were rather serious about the whole thing but still cracked me up!

1. Why are there Mothers?
Sky: To take care of you
Zack: to help children

2. Why are there Fathers?
Sky: To play with you
Zack: to help their mother make a baby

3. How are Mothers made?
Sky: Their Mother's make them.
Zack: by their parents

4. How are Fathers made?
Sky: Their Mothers.
Zack: by their parents

5. What ingredients are Mothers made of?
Sky: They love you very much
Zack: love

6. What ingredients are Fathers made of?
Sky: playness
Zack: muscles

7. Why do you have your Mother and not some other Mother?
Sky: Because you were made by your mother
Zack: she's more special than other mothers

8. Why do you have your Father and not some other Father?
Sky: Mothers and Fathers have codes inside them. If they don't marry each other, the kids they gave birth to won't be there.
^ she's attempting to explain DNA and why she wouldn't be the same person if she didn't have the same Mom and Dad.
Zack: to protect us

9. What kind of little girl was your Mom?
Sky: when you were six you had freckles
Zack: a sweet girl

10. What kind of little boy was your Dad?
Sky: He didn't have "the respect" and Santa Claus has "the respect"
^ okay this one requires some explanation. Matt has recently grown a beard and refers to it as "respect". Skyler calls it that quite happily. I roll my eyes and tell him to shave.
Zack:a funny boy

11. Why did Mom marry Dad?
Sky: to make kids
Zack: cuz they met when Daddy was in the Navy

12. Why did Dad marry Mom?
Sky: cuz he wanted children
Zack: they met when Daddy was in the Navy

13. What did your Mom need to know before she married Dad?

Sky: I don't know.
Zack: I don't know

14. What did your Dad need to know before he married Mom?

Sky: She had to look beautiful for Daddy
Zack: I don't KNOW

15. Who is the boss at your house?
Sky: Well YEAH. Mom. She's older than Daddy.
Zack: Daddy and Mama

16. What's the difference between Moms and Dads?
Sky: Mom has freckles
Zack: they don't have the same private areas
^ Zack is nothing if not literal.

17. What does Mom do in her spare time?
Sky: Shop
Zack: nap and read a book

18. What does Dad do in his spare time?
Sky: hang out with friends. Daddy golfs.
Zack: Watch tv

19. What would it take to make Mom perfect?
Sky: Nothing
Zack: snuggle with me all the time and hold onto me

20. What would it take to make Dad perfect?

Sky: Shave his respect.
Zack: to be awesome

21. If you could change one thing about Mom what would it be?
Sky: perfect the way she is
Zack: nothing

22. If you could change one things about Dad what would it be?
Sky: Shave his beard.
Zack: nothing

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Conversation With Skyler...

Sky: Mom I need panty holes.
Me: What?
Sky: panty holes
Me: If your panties have holes in them throw them away. You've got plenty of other ones.
Sky: NO MOM *disgusted teenager voice* PANTY. HOLES. For your legs.
Me: *cracking up* You mean panty HOSE? You have tights. Little girls wear tights or leggings.
Sky: *walks off disgusted with me for stopping her creative dressing genius.*

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Littlemissmatched...

There is a website out there with Skyler's name written all over it.

LittleMissMatched.com


They sell socks, and other things, that are not matched. And they come in odd numbers, sets of three or nine. This cracks me up! I'm sure someone out there has a daughter just like Skyler and figured they'd make some money off of that particular fashion statement.



Work Related Vent...

I have a work-place related vent.

The company I work for makes high-tech widgets and doodads that are used in a high-tech field. The majority of our employees are involved in designing these widgets and doodads, building them, taking them apart, programming them etc. HOWEVER, the employees that have both an X and a Y chromosome seem to be completely incapable of operating a copy machine. They walk into the copy room and start poking at buttons, get frustrated, then turn to the closest pair of X chromosomes and ask them how to work "this thing".

How is it that these people can design and operate the most complicated widget you can imagine but can't make one piece of paper duplicate itself? It's total bullshit that falls back to a time when there were "copy girls". Now they are convinced that this is women's work and they refuse to learn.

I battle this by opening my eyes wide, shaking my head, and saying "I don't know. I'm just a user like you" then backing away slowly. I refuse to do it for them.

Have any of you experienced this phenomenon?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Flashback Friday...

Still flashing back (because I haven't taken any pictures in three weeks).



She was two here and just cracks me up. She was eating ranch dip and pizza - one of her favorites. And no, she still doesn't like to wear clothes.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Christmas Cards...

Done. And Done.

A few months ago, I was playing the part of Scrooge, and decided that there was no way I had the energy to get my two little bickering cherubs to put on cute outfits and smile for the camera. I decided that in light of the economy and some other made up shit I can't remember, I was not going to do cards this year. Then I started talking to my soul-sister Ashley and got a bit of the Christmas Card Hunt Bug. I started casually looking for a card template that might appeal to me if I were going to do cards, which I was not. I bookmarked a few. Then it occurred to me that I could just use pictures from earlier in the year. I didn't have to go through the whole winter-photo-shoot-hell thing. Then Ashley posted that Shutterfly had a day or two left in their BIG SALE. And it was ON. I had those cards designed, uploaded, and ordered in a day.

They've all been addressed, stamped, and mailed. I fully expect to get Ashley's card first as I do every year. Picture cards get a spot of honor on the refrigerator each year. I've got to get working on clearing the front off. I love seeing pictures of friends and family that we don't see all year long. I especially love a funny pic. I can't wait to see what the mail brings this year!

Speaking of which can we review Swistle's Christmas Card Scoring System:
  • Card received: +5

  • BCard received before December 1st: -1

  • Card received after December 25th: -1

  • Card is pretty, and looks nice on wall: +3

  • Card is glittery: +1

  • Card sheds that glitter: -2

  • Card is shiny / has metallic accents: +1

  • Card does not contain card, but only letter, so there is nothing to put up on the wall: -5

  • Card is e-card: -5

  • Card includes photo or is photo card: +5

  • More than one photo: +2 each additional photo

  • Photo is non-Christmassy so will look good on fridge all year: +1

  • Photo is Christmassy so increases holiday feeling of card: +1

  • Red-eye causes family to appear possessed by evil Christmas spirit: -1

  • Photo was taken on beach this past summer in summer clothing, so family looks chilly against winter pattern of card: -1

  • Photo includes dogs with glowing eyes who seem poised to eat humans: -1

  • Card includes letter: +5

  • Letter is informative and interesting: +3

  • Letter describes child as "amazing" or "already an avid reader and accomplished Suzuki violinist at age 3!": -3 each

  • Letter is so braggy and saccharine-cheery, I wonder why I associate with these people: -3

  • Letter is so very braggy and saccharine-cheery, it crosses over into comical and becomes fun to read aloud in an unkind tone of voice: +2

  • Letter uses the word "blessed" more than one time: -1 per use (not including first use)

  • Letter is a sermon/evangelism disguised as a Christmas letter, and contains pious spiritual hopes for our country, for our country's leaders, for mankind, and for me personally: -5

  • Letter mentions details of gross surgery/illness: -1 or +1, depending on entertainment value

  • Letter contains thinly-veiled family gossip: +3

  • Letter contains information that should have been told earlier: -2

  • Card includes check: +5

  • Large check: +10

  • Card includes announcement of pregnancy: +10

  • Card from Christmas Card Friends contains surprising news of baby born since last card sent: +10

Based on the scoring system, my card, depending on which one you get, should be either a 16 or a 20 (+/- whether you think it is pretty, I gave it points for pretty). I'll give them a week or two to get where they're supposed to be and then I'll post them here.

Graduation Day...

There comes a time in every Mommy's tenure when the size of her family has been decided, her children are no longer in car seats, they can open and close the vehicle doors themselves, they no longer need sippy cups or a Wiggles video in order to get from point A to point B. There is a time when she graduates from the mini-van to the car. And the Mommy does a little dance of joy and feels like a grown-up vs. a bus driver.

Last month my van started to die and thus the decision was made that I graduate to a grown-up vehicle. One without crumbs or stains or rows. One with a trunk for the soccer balls and lawn chairs to be hidden away. One that doesn't have an echo when I drive alone or make the beeping sound when I back up (exaggeration).

I have graduated and I love it!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Mommy Flashback...

I was poking through old pictures and came across this one:


Damn he was cute. I remember this day. Zack was just under two and we had taken him to a local train fair. He had a serious love of Thomas going on. He was his usual irritable self but loving the trains. Then. He. Saw. The. Pickles. The child had a total meltdown until Daddy bought him a pickle the size of his head.

We also took that opportunity to buy little Mr. OCD a train shirt for everyday of the week. He used to refuse to take them off in the evening so I'd have to pretend to spill water on it every night (wet shirts were more horrible than not wearing a Thomas shirt). When we finally had five of them he was much easier to dress.

Blog Design Give Away...

April Showers Blog Design is having a HUGE giveaway and celebrating her OPEN waiting list that starts January 1st! April not only does blogs - but also invitations, announcements, calendars, cards, business cards, custom illustrations, and so much more! Just by pasting this paragraph on my blog I'm a winner!

www.aprilshowersblogdesign.com

Check it out!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Re-Cap...

Whew! We had a wonderful four days of family time. Just enough. We all came out still loving each other. ;-)

Wednesday evening Matt, the kids, and I, stopped by my Aunt Joyce's house and visited with her for a little while. My Mom and I wanted to give her and my cousins an arrangement from Edible Arrangements as a thank you for hostessing our get away weekend a few weeks ago. It was nice to talk, while the kids played my Uncle Ted's piano, just as we did when we were kids. When the noise got to be too much we excused ourselves, not before the kids had begged for juice and a snack. Does anything ever change? Wherever you go, your kids are hungry!

Thursday morning I got on a baking roll. I made an apple pie, Ashley's famous pumpkin apple bread, Amanda Rocks, and a hot dip. I already had peanut butter pie chilling in the fridge. We enjoyed a most lovely dinner with our friends Rick & Carrie's family and friends. The food was wonderful, the kids were well behaved, the adults all sat around the large living room sifting through the shopping fliers making their plans for attacking Christmas shopping like the enemy that it is. I was almost done and had knocked out a significant amount earlier in the day online. I was super fantastically thankful to the online retailers that have the same prices online as they do in their stores AND free shipping. I can happily manage my extreme annoyance with crowds and stupid people from the comfort of my own computer.

Friday, Skyler went to work with Matt. Although much fun was promised, Zack wouldn't pass up a few free hours with Mommy. We got up and hit Game Stop (no lines) where Zack spent his report card money and we picked something up for Skyler too. Later we met Matt and Skyler for lunch at his work. Matt took us on a roller coaster ride through the woods that had me screaming, the kids laughing, and you probably wondering what the hell my husband does for a living. Fun was had by all! Friday night Matt and I took Zack on a date (Skyler was at the neighbors) where we saw Planet 51. It was cute, but predictable. There weren't a lot of laugh out loud funnies but it was enjoyable.

Saturday we ran errands, worked on projects, played outside. It was gorgeous. Matt took me on my kind of date, dinner at 4:00. We discussed the fact that I should find myself an 80 year old and be very happy. I like to go out when it's still light out and be home in bed by 8:30. We did some pokie shopping, I don't think we bought anything but a ball of yarn (please see previous reference to being a little old lady) and were home by 8:00. We had some nice kid-free conversation and enjoyed each other's company.

Sunday was more of the outside stuff. In the afternoon, Matt took Skyler golfing while I took Zack to a birthday party. We were all worn out in a good way by the end of the evening.

A wonderful weekend. The End.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

50 Random(ish)Things I'm Thankful For...


  1. Matt and the kids

  2. My Mom

  3. Matt's Mom

  4. Matt's Dad and his wife Debbie

  5. Matt's brother and his family

  6. Matt's sister and her family

  7. Our entire extended families - every one of you

  8. Mike & Amy & Nate

  9. My Oasis Group

  10. Our many many dear friends

  11. That Matt and I both have good jobs

  12. That my kids do well in school and are kind to others

  13. Happy pills

  14. Ambien

  15. The library

  16. Google

  17. My camera

  18. Comments on my blog

  19. Comfortable shoes (I'm looking at you cute pink Birkenstocks)

  20. The internet

  21. Loreal's Excellence Creme #9.5NB

  22. Etsy

  23. Vitamin C Power Brightening Cream

  24. Aveeno lip balm

  25. Game Stop

  26. GPS

  27. Podcasts

  28. Funny Blogs

  29. Health Insurance

  30. House

  31. Cha Cha Weekends

  32. My Mean Girls

  33. Sheldon Cooper

  34. Vitamin D

  35. Coke

  36. Back massages

  37. The Dixie Chicks

  38. Science

  39. Hand Sanitizer

  40. Keith Olbermann

  41. Smurfs

  42. The Discovery Channel

  43. Glysomed hand lotion

  44. Pasta ;-)

  45. Popcorn ;-)

  46. Gaybies

  47. My necklace collection

  48. 4:00

  49. My nap blankie

  50. naps



Make this...

It's entirely possible that I've blogged about this before (I searched the last couple of years of Nov & Dec posts but couldn't find it) but I just have to tell you about this recipe from my friend Ashley (really we're trying to figure out how it's possible that we aren't sisters). It is DELICIOUS and is perfect for gobbling up warm or giving to neighbors or teachers or coworkers during the holidays.

Pumpkin Apple Bread
I double the topping. I pour 1/2 batter into the loaf pan -sprinkle one serving of topping & pour rest of batter & then put second serving of topping on top of that - killer!

For topping:
1 Tbs all-purpose flour
5 Tbs sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbs unsalted butter, softened (I use "salted" just cause I don't have "unsalted" in my house usually)

For bread:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsps baking soda
1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 (15-oz) can solid-pack pumpkin
3/4 cup vegetable oil (I use 3/4 cup butter instead - wonderful!!!)
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 Granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (2 cups)

MAKE THE TOPPING: Blend together flour, sugar, cinnamon. Melt the butter in the microwave and pour into the dry mixutre. Mix with a fork.

MAKE THE BREAD: Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 350F. Butter two 9 X 5 inch loaf pans. (I just spray "PAM" into pans.)
Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice into a medium bowl. Then add oil(or butter), sugar, and eggs in a large bowl. Add the pumpkin. Add flour mixture, stirring until well combined. Fold in apples (and walnuts if using nuts).

Divide batter between buttered loaf pans. Sprinkle half of topping evenly over each loaf. *Remember, if you double the topping, do batter, topping, batter, topping. So yummy to have that topping the middle, too.

Bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of bread comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.

Cool loves in pans on a rack for 45 minutes, then turn out onto rack and cool completely, about 1 hour.

This bread is meant to be SHARED!!! Make for your neighbors, your coworkers, your family. The only downside to this is it will be requested every year!


If you've known me for more than five minutes you know that I'm an annoying-ass crazy picky eater and I LOVE this recipe.

Go forth and make bread!


Change your title font...

I just recently found a great tutorial for making your blog prettier by using a cute font for your blog titles. You can find it here. There's quite a bit of futzing with html code but the instructions are perfect. I made a mistake or two along the way but I re-followed the steps and it worked.

What do you think? Purty?

There are more great tutorials to be found, just click the button below:

Fan of kevinandamanda.com! Free Fonts. Recipes. Scrapbooking. Photography. Blog Design. Tutorials. Giveaway. Everything you're into!


That’s so weird, I just heard about that the other day...

Have you ever learned a new word or obscure fact and then within the span of a day or two you hear about it again? And then again? This happens to me all the time which isn't surprising since I read a lot and am always looking up words in the dictionary. It happens to you too I bet.

It's called Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. My friend Leigh found an article on the website Damn Interesting, The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, that explains how and why our brains sift through information we are exposed to on a daily basis and bump up the similarities to make us more aware of them. I find this to be fascinating:
The reason for this is our brains’ prejudice towards patterns. Our brains are fantastic pattern recognition engines, a characteristic which is highly useful for learning, but it does cause the brain to lend excessive importance to unremarkable events. Considering how many words, names, and ideas a person is exposed to in any given day, it is unsurprising that we sometimes encounter the same information again within a short time. When that occasional intersection occurs, the brain promotes the information because the two instances make up the beginnings of a sequence. What we fail to notice is the hundreds or thousands of pieces of information which aren’t repeated, because they do not conform to an interesting pattern. This tendency to ignore the “uninteresting” data is an example of selective attention.

In point of fact, coincidences themselves are usually just an artifact of perception. We humans tend to underestimate the probability of coinciding events, so our expectations are at odds with reality. And non-coincidental events do not grab our attention with anywhere near the same intensity, because coincidences are patterns, and the brain actually stimulates us for successfully detecting patterns… hence their inflated value. In short, patterns are habit-forming.

But when we hear a word or name which we just learned the previous day, it often feels like more than a mere coincidence. This is because Baader-Meinhof is amplified by the recency effect, a cognitive bias that inflates the importance of recent stimuli or observations. This increases the chances of being more aware of the subject when we encounter it again in the near future.

Now I'm wondering how many of you will hear the term Baader-Meinhof this week, or even just experience the phenomenon. Report back...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Report Card Day...

Both of the kids did great on their report cards. Zack got honor roll and I owe him $25. Skyler doesn't have letter grades yet but she protested her brother getting paid so I had to let her in on the deal. I owe her $35. These little smarties are expensive!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Red Tent...

Thanks to the recommendation of my cousin Erin, I revisited The Red Tent. I think the first time someone suggested it, something about the description must have turned me off but I Erin was so enthusiastic with her "I LOVED this book" that I gave it a try.

I LOVED this book. It is told in the voice of Dinah, a character mentioned in passing in the old testament. It speaks of the strength and weaknesses of the relationships of women in that time period. I highly recommend this book.

Next I'm diving in to, The Possibility of Everything. I heard an interview with the author and I liked her voice. I don't always need a better reason to read a book. I'm not even entirely sure what this one is about ;-)

Go forth and read...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Where Was Amanda...



5 points to anyone who can guess where I was on Saturday...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Part of What's Wrong with the Healthcare System...

My Mother's dear friend was recently diagnosed with cancer in her jaw bone. This diagnosis was a long time coming after a summer of pain and more tests than you can count. This week she's been anxiously awaiting the scheduling of her surgery to remove a very fast growing tumor. After not receiving a call from her surgeon's office for a week, she called to ask what the status of the surgery was. His nurse replied that she does all his surgery scheduling and she knew nothing about it. She went on to say that the doctor was VERY busy so it would be at least a month now. This poor woman is dreading a horrible surgery for a life threatening illness that will likely leave her disfigured and this nurse is telling her how busy the doctor is in a don't-call-us-we'll-call-you way. This is just poor attitude, not the detriment to our society.

The schedule was finally worked out and the nurse informs my mother's friend that she'll have to come in for multiple tests prior to surgery. Friend says, "but I just had all of those tests done as part of the diagnosis. Why do I have to repeat them?" After much discussion the nurse says "FINE. If YOU want to go to the hospital and collect the test results and DELIVER them to US, you can." Seriously? It's easier for her to reorder thousands of dollars of tests than to request copies of the results from another medical facility? On which planet does that make sense? The reasoning was simply convenience for the nurse, NOT diagnostic relevance. What does she care that Friend will have to take more time out of her schedule, sit in waiting rooms, get poked and prodded, and billed up the wazoo?

I'm shocked. We as patients have to be vigilant and push back. Be educated about what we really need. Ask why more often.

Selling grades...

I just recently admitted to buying good grades from my kids but this takes the cake. I was happily reviewing some of my favorite blogs this morning when I clicked on Dr. Grumpy's (he's hysterical in a palm to forehead people are so stupid kind of way) and he's posted this article:
NC school sells test points for $20 to raise money
Nov. 11, 2009 06:45 AM
Associated Press

GOLDSBORO, N.C. - A middle school in North Carolina is selling better test scores to students in a bid to raise money.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Wednesday that a parent advisory council at Rosewood Middle School in Goldsboro came up with the fundraising plan after last year's chocolate sale flopped.

The school will sell 20 test points to students for $20.

Students can add 10 extra points to each of two tests of their choice. The extra points could take a student from a "B" to an "A" on those tests or from a failing grade to a passing grade.

Principal Susie Shepherd says it's not enough of an impact to change a student's overall grades.

Officials at the state Department of Public Instruction say exchanging grades for money teaches children the wrong lessons.

I just cannot get over the stupidity of these school officials. You're selling grades. What are you teaching these kids? We bitch that they don't try hard enough and then you're willing to sell the school's ethics and morals for $20. It's okay to buy a grade when it's for a good cause? NO.


Love Bug...

How much of a love is my son?



Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wet Feet...

Without fail, whenever I am caught in unexpected rain, I am wearing my comfiest shoes that have a crack in each sole. I am drying my tootsies right now.

I HATE wet socks.

GAH!

Silent Migraine..

I get silent migraines or migraines with aura without headache. I've had a brain MRI and have a specialist that does my eye exams every year but basically they don't know what causes them, don't have a cure, and can't really explain much. I get them so randomly and far between that there's nothing I can think of that triggers them. I'm always out somewhere which is a huge inconvenience because I'm basically incapacitated (i.e. can't really see) for about an hour. My favorite is when it happens while driving. Thankfully I can tell it's coming and have about 3-5 minutes to get off the road. I've tried to explain what it looks like with pics. It's sort of a combination of the pixelated pics I show below and looking through a car window covered in rain drops.

So here's me looking at Skyler:


Then I realize there's a swirly moving dot in the center of my vision (doesn't matter which eye. I could close either and still see the same thing)


Then the swirly dot gets bigger and starts to move left.
<




For awhile there I can't see anything in the middle of my field of vision. It's all swirly and some things are just not there at all. Then it sort of fades to the edges.

This all takes about an hour and leaves my eyes feeling tired, like they've had a good cry. I don't generally get a headache which is fanfuckingtastic, but it's annoying nonetheless. Last night I was running errands and realized that I couldn't really focus on a dot in the center of my vision. I blinked a few times, swore, and went to sit in my car. I didn't feel comfortable sitting in the mall not being able to see and my only option is waiting it out. Thankfully I was alone.

Apparently this is somewhat common or at least not entirely uncommon. There are entire websites devoted to migraine aura art where people attempt to show what they see. Apparently although your visions will generally be the same, they vary completely from person to person. Do you get migraines?

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